Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pixie is no longer with us

"Pixie is no longer with us."

That's a comment on Uncommon Descent, the intelligent design (and global warming denialist) blog. Apparently the user "Pixie" was kicked off the comment board for saying terrible things like this:
Tribune [another commenter], there is some ambiguity in both those cases; we do not know for certain why Gonzales failed to get tenure (maybe Iowa State did want anyone associated with anti-science, rather than someone who criticised evolution). Micheal Behe, Granville Sewell and Michael Denton still hold university positions despite their criticisms of evolution.

Larry, why do you think it is the teacher? Do teachers often have to write lines on the blackboard in your experience?

A general comment: Why should we suppose from this cartoon that there is a “Church of the Living Darwin”? Is a rejection of any and all criticism a distinguishing feature of religion?

No longer with us. The kind of thing you say when someone has died, or you've been betrayed. No longer with us. With whom, then?

Turns out that this is the standard language Dembski uses when kicking a user off the boards. The phrase turns up all the time. The lanky dictator of intelligent design waves his hand and poof! away goes a member. No longer with us. Remember, if you dare to comment over there.
There is one cardinal rule at this blog, namely, I [Dembski] make up the rules as I go along. In other words, these policies can change at any time. Moreover, if they change, it will most likely be in the direction of curtailing the time I need to spend with comments.
Read the comment policies and you'll get a sense of all the kinds of things Dembski finds unacceptable. You'll be banned for asking who designed the designer, for saying ID is "creationism in a cheap tuxedo" (actually the tux is pretty expensive), for linking ID with the religious right, and for pointing out that ID is not science. (Hilariously, NoeticGuru is still there. I would bet that Dembski et al. have discovered the snark but won't ban NG's old comments because it's been all over the blogs, and banning would force them to acknowledge the fiasco. They're hoping it will just go away.)

Here at little old paralepsis, we don't ban people for arguments. Not that that many people comment here, but arguments are not things you ban. It's a simple and, I would think, obvious principle.


John said...

"Here at little old prolepsis, we don't ban people for arguments. Not that that many people comment here, but arguments are not things you ban. It's a simple and, I would think, obvious principle."

Your goal, however, isn't propaganda.

I'm particularly struck by the dismissal of the question about who designed the designer by suggesting that "Intelligent design does not speak to the nature of designers anymore than Darwin’s theory speaks to the origin of matter." If the theory posits a designer which created the universe, that theory, to be regarded as serious, needs to suggest the origins of the designer. Darwin was concerned with the origins of matter; or, to put it more correctly, Darwin, as a Christian, didn't need to ask where matter came from because he believed God created the universe with God being, in philosophical terms, a necessary being.

There's always a necessary being: for most religious, both those who believe in evolution and those who don't, it's the divine, and for most non-religious, it's the universe/nature itself. Only an intelligent designer trying to push ID as science would suggest that this isn't a question worth answering. Science explains the natural processes by which creation happens (whether it's natural or supernatural creation) and philosophy, religion, etc. explain what's behind the creation (regardless of whether it's natural or supernatural in origin).

I've never understood the need to create ID because I know plenty of biologists and astrophysicist, let alone people who accept evolution and cosmology, who believe in a god creator, and I've known plenty of clergy who accept evolution and cosmology, which brings us back to the idea of propaganda. The biblical creationist, the scientist and clergy who believe in evolution through creation, and the non-believer all tend to be straight forward about the philosophical/religious aspect of this issue while most IDer's I've encountered insist we not look behind the curtain.

Hermagoras said...


Thanks for that thoughtful comment. I wouldn't call Darwin a Christian, but that's not really the essential point. (The various bits about the creator in the last chapter of the Origin were changed from edition to edition for a variety of reasons. I'd say Darwin shuttled between something akin to deism and something like agnosticism.)

As for Uncommon Descent, I'm interested in it not just as a propaganda site but as a place that masks itself as anti-propaganda. I'm starting a book project, called The Rhetoric of Anti-Science, in which I hope to address somet of these issues.