Thursday, September 17, 2009

Elliott Sober to Visit the University of Oklahoma

Next week the University of Oklahoma Department of Philosophy is hosting evolutionist Elliott Sober who will explain that the strong arguments used by Darwin are not from adaptive designs (i.e., designs that increase fitness), but rather useless or even deleterious designs. In what Sober has labeled Darwin's Principle, the evolutionary argument is not that the evidence makes common ancestry probable but that it makes the creation concept of separate ancestry improbable.

Sober will not mention that this means the argument entails religious premises. And the OU evolutionists will avoid asking about such awkwardness. There may be questions about how it is possible that informed people can fail to accept evolution. Or there may be polite questions about just how true is evolution. Is it as certain as gravity, or is heliocentrism a better analogy?

But no questions that matter will be posed, and no inconvenient truths will be considered. They will depart with increased assurances that evolution is our great discovery and wonder about how they can better teach this truth to their students. Religion drives science and it matters.


  1. Sober's argument entails religious premises? Is this the argument that an Intelligent Designer wouldn't design something stupidly? What's religious about that?

    Or are you saying that ID is really about God after all?

  2. "Is this the argument that an Intelligent Designer wouldn't design something stupidly? What's religious about that?"

    Its Religous because you are assuming that an intelligent designer would design in some sort of particular way. Why is that so hard for evolutionists to see? Take off the blinders.

  3. djmullen:

    Do you think there is a difference between *detecting* design versus *judging* design?

  4. I think one major thing the evolutionist are getting confused here is that yes all evolution research has much religious _implications_. Whether it be on the ID side or the evolution side it doesn't matter they both have _connotations_ about religion (IE we think the evidence seems to say this which goes against this religious theology or the other way). The difference between that the arguements that are being made by evolutionists that they declare to be scientific end up coming back to a metaphysical defense or a philosophical one. Eg. "God wouldn't create this". That is a religious argument. Religious arguements can of course go the other such as Descartes ontological arguements for God. But that's not what ID people use as a defense. The ontological arguements are great but don't make them and call them a science arguement (they are religious arguements). But the ontological arguements have a logical basis. If there is a God then it is highly arrogant to think that we can say that God wouldn't do this or would do this based upon our idea of what God would be if he exists. That I believe is the distinction on the issue of a religious argument.

  5. Good points. This might help as well:

  6. "Intelligent Designer" is a term that can encompass an infinite number of designers. I would be wearing blinders if I thought it only referred to the God of Abraham.

    I cannot understand why you insist it does. It's my understanding that the ID position is to at least pretend that it could refer to a space alien or some other non-supernatural intelligent being.

    Has this changed? Has the ID community decided, perhaps after the Dover debacle, to abandon this pretense and admit that the Intelligent Designer they are talking about is really God? I hope so because it would make for a more honest debate.

    Let's assume for the sake of argument that the Intelligent Designer of ID is the God of Abraham. Noting the numerous instances of truly stupid and/or evil design that abound in this world would only be "theological" because the purported designer was a supernatural being. The same arguments directed toward a space alien or other non-supernatural designer would not be.

    I think that the "theology" charges are just a device to avoid debate.

    In answer to your second question, I haven't seen any design detection coming out of the ID community. But I can look at the world and note that if it was designed by any being, that being was either evil, careless, not too bright or some combination of the three. Recall that Behe says that malaria, which kills over 800,000 people per year, mostly children and pregnant women, is designed. Shame on whatever did the designing!

  7. Excuse me! I got that 800,000 deaths per year figure from this site:

    I just looked at it again and although it does list children and pregnant women as being the leading victims of this allegedly designed disease, the heading for the table I got that number from is actually:

    "Leading Causes of Death in Children Under Five Years of Age"

    Double shame!