Guilt By Association

On my earlier post, ID and Creationism, the Missing Link?, I make the case that ID science is quite distinct from creationism.  Of course, the Darwinists can’t accept that because that would mean that they couldn’t simply outlaw ID science in schools by hiding behind the First Amendment.  So, of course, it was time to play Guilt by Association.

So, how do we play this, you might ask?  Here’s example one:

On a more serious level, my experience shows that almost all arguments advanced by the IDers have been borrowed from creationists.

Ah yes, all us ID science proponents must get our arguments from creationists, like IC and CSI, right?  Oh, but it goes on from there:

To be sure, IDers have advanced a few arguments of their own, but even they have creationist roots. For instance, Behe’s irreducible complexity is a dressed-up version of Paley’s watchmaker. Dembski’s UPB is just an attempt to put this on a mathematical footing.

Yes, how dare us try to make a mathematical argument instead of using Biblical chapter and verse.  I mean, we just have to be creationists, so why aren’t we following the rules and reciting Genesis?  Maybe it is for the reasons I laid out in my previous post, that ID science starts with scientific observations and follows the evidence where it leads.

Here’s some more examples:

And yes, I know that there are Jewish, Muslim, atheist, and even pleasurian proponents of ID. But I am also aware that they represent a tiny minority of the movement. ID is a predominantly Christian thing.

You and [I] can play this game. For every name of a non-Christian ID supporter I’ll give you three of Christian ones. How’s that for a proof?

So, if I can present three atheists that accept evolution to any Christian you bring forward, does that prove evolution is atheistic?  And, therein lies the problem with this type of logical fallacy.  There is, of course, another fallacy in there, where ID is ridiculed by being linked to the “Pleasurians.”  This holds no sway with me, however.  I don’t care what ideas or beliefs one holds, it makes no difference to the science of ID.  I think Raelians are IDists too, but it makes no difference, it doesn’t make ID false or evolution true.

And, so what if the commenter can find three Christians to every non-Christian that supports ID.  I’d be surprised if he couldn’t.  This country is make up of Christians to the tune of 80% of the population.  For every proponent of anything in science that is non-Christian, one should be able to dig up 4 Christian proponents just due to the percentage of the population that is Christian.  That ID science is open to those other belief systems shows that it is not a fundamentalist Christian ploy, else no atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Jews, etc. would embrace it.


31 responses to “Guilt By Association

  1. It is unfortunate that someone made the “3 for every one” claim. The real situation is that 90%+ of ID fans are not just Christians but conservative evangelicals who are highly attached to Biblical inerrancy. Most of the rest are conservative catholics. There is no significant component of religious diversity, even people like Berlinski say that they are not ID advocates.

    This is a hugely significant feature of the ID movement and frankly the whole reason it exists. It’s a form of conservative evangelical apologetics.

  2. Darwinists have a funny predilection to do or say anything in order not to examine the propositional content and reasoning of ID, and to discourage others from doing so. That alone is quite telling. The genetic fallacy remains the genetic fallacy, even if you’re sincere.

  3. professorsmith

    Please back up your claim that “90% of ID fans [really, you are going to have to do better than that] are not just Christians but conservative evangelicals who are highly attached to Biblical inerrancy.” I would like to see some evidence, please. If no evidence is forthcoming, then I expect you to have the “humility and scientific attitude” to withdraw your erroneous comment – and hopefully you will have the class to apologize as well.

    Further, I’d like for you to actually read the entire OP, because you’ll see that I already dealt with your complaint.

  4. Oleg Tchernyshyov


    I don’t think we disagree on the subject in general. Details, however, matter. Let’s not conflate fans of ID with its active proponents. While the former are indeed by and large evangelicals, the latter group is a bit more diverse. My 3-to-1 bet, which our good professor had the sense to refuse, was an easy lower bound. I can surely do better than that.


    My main beef with IDers is not their religious affiliation. Recall that it was you who first mentioned the presence of Jews, Muslims and atheists among ID proponents as an argument against the Christian origin of ID. You want to talk about non-Christian IDers? Let’s do it on a quantitative basis.

    And don’t tell me that scientists in the US are largely Christian. Here are the numbers. 52% have no religious affiliation, 27% are Christian, 15% are Jewish. You can find these numbers in doi:10.1525/sp.2007.54.2.289

    Got to go, will weigh in on other points later.

  5. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    To continue, the statistics presented in the Ecklund-Scheitle paper offers another interesting clue. Not only do they find that scientists are not religious on average, they also observe that variations in the level of religiosity are small across disciplines. So scientists are much less religious than the population in general and uniformly so.

    We now come to an interesting point. If ID were just another branch of science, I’d expect that its scholars would be like scientists in other disciplines mostly atheistic or agnostic, a quarter or so Christian. But of course no, that’s not the case: ID is a huge statistical outlier. Ponder that.

    Again, that’s just another data point. Taken alone it does not suggest that ID is not science. But there are lots of other reasons pointing in that direction. I’ve mentioned some of them and I’ll get to those again soon.

  6. “While the former are indeed by and large evangelicals, the latter group is a bit more diverse.”

    Not really. Look at the most prominent ID advocates.

    [ed. note: List redacted as commenter has not supported any of his assertions in regards to the people that were named by said commenter.]

    Heck, half these guys are professional evangelical theologians/apologists and have jobs at Biola.

  7. professorsmith

    Mr. Yu,
    Back up your accusation that all of those people are fundamentalist Christians. Heck, Behe backs the idea of common descent. I think you lose on this one, especially since you still haven’t told me why I should care. An idea does not become unscientific because of who the proponents are, nor does your fallacy of guilt by association hold any weight. Again, it would be nice to see you have the “humility and scientific attitude” to accept your mistake and apologize for it. You’ve been warned on the other thread for just this sort of thing, so I won’t do it again here, but do not make blanket attacks on others – especially not by name – without supporting evidence. This is not OK on my blog.

    Mr. Tchernyshyov,
    Again, I will refer you to my argument that one could claim that evolution is atheistic using your arguments. I’ve dealt with your arguments already. Plus, we aren’t talking about whether ID is science, we are talking about whether it is a Christian apologetic. You are far from showing that it is, especially since I’ve shown that it isn’t.

  8. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    Not Christian apologetics? But what are we to make of this passage in the Wedge Document?

    “Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.” [emphasis mine –OT]

    That’s Christian apologetics, by definition. In DI’s own words.

  9. professorsmith

    That’s Christian apologetics? Really? I don’t see Jesus Christ mentioned in there anywhere. Do you, perhaps, have a different definition?

  10. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    Last time I checked the word “theistic” referred to a god. Shall we argue over which god the Wedge Document meant?

  11. professorsmith

    It’s called “Marketing.” Both sides do it, or are you going to deny that Eugenie Scott regularly pimps to church groups about how wonderful Darwinism is for their faith?

  12. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    It ain’t marketing. It’s a strategy. Marketing is part of it. Here’s a quote:

    “Alongside a focus on influential opinion-makers, we also seek to build up a popular base of support among our natural constituency, namely, Christians.”

    And in case you still have doubts which god is mentioned in the Wedge Document, here is another quote from it. The 5-year plan (LOL) specifically says:

    “Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

    How’s that not Christian apologetics?

  13. H’mm:

    Why is it that so often on ID-related matters, instead of serious engagement of issues [e.g. cf. my always linked], we find motive mongering, strawman arguments, red herrings and ad hominems?

    For instance, has it ever occurred to Oleg et al that soundness might just be present in an argument by Christian Apologists and philosophers — or for that matter Scientists who happen to be Christians? [Indeed, the classic, biblical definition of Christian Apologetics comes from 1 Peter 3:15: giving an answer for the REASON for one’s faith.]

    Going further, on the issue of the design inference, there is a basic chain of reasoning that needs to be answered to — and the consistent dodging of the issue is telling — namely more or less:

    * We frequently encounter functionally specified complex information, and when we do so in a context where we directly observe its source, it is agency. [Cf details in the always linked.]

    * Next, this is not mere correlation being confused with causation, as per the implications of searching large configuration spaces by chance [contingency eliminating necessity as the dominant force]; cf Appendix A in same.

    * So, when we see the relevant cases of: the fine-tuned cosmos, the information systems in the nanotech of life, the increments in same to get body plan level biodiversity etc, it becomes obvious that we have excellent grounds for inferring to design, as the accident of [non-]observation is irrelevant to the fundamental issue. [As is discussed, including the problematic rebuttal attempt, the resort to a quasi-infinite cosmos as a whole]

    * Next, as a perusal of say Plato’s The Laws, Book X will show, the intellectual roots of this line of thinking predate the Christian faith by centuries, and are not exactly Jewish either. Indeed, the first instance of the configuration space and probability argument – as the cite at the head of my always linked will show — comes from Cicero, circa 50 BC.

    * Now, Christians happen to think the at the relevant direct designer of the Cosmos and probably of life on earth too is the God of Theism. This is tied to philosophical arguments that go beyond science, but that is not a real issue: even the issue of what is/is not beyond science is itself beyond science, i.e it is a philosophical argument. [Further than that, millions of Christians across 20 centuries, testify to personally having met that same God, who has transformed their lives. In a great many cases,t he evidence would give pause to a fair-minded reader, e.g try Pascal and his encounter with God and its effects on his life.]

    So, the constant resort to distortion of the nature of the design inference while making attempts to identify ID thinkers as “Creationists” — i.e mostly Young Earth Creationists, who are by and large sneered at in culturally dominant American institutions [which are disproportionately manned by Atheists*] — comes across to this observer as a red herring leading out to a strawman that is burned to poison the atmosphere by triggering a hostile and closed-minded attitude.

    Let us therefore heed Aristotle’s warning in his The Rhetoric, and put the fallacies to one side and address the issues on the merits.

    GEM of TKI

    * The US I gather is some 80 – 90 % Judaeo-Christian and/or Islamic. Thus, what needs to be explained is how key Scientific Institutions and media houses etc are so disproportionately atheist, especially in their upper reaches. The sort of patterns now esxposed in the film Expelled and the attitudes exposed by Mr Dawkins et al may have more to do with that than we like to think. I certainly do not think that the conceit that the Atheists are the “brights” passes even the giggle test.

    PS It seems I am having a serious problem with Akismet, Prof, judging by my thank you being swallowed by the filter.

  14. “Back up your accusation that all of those people are fundamentalist Christians. Heck, Behe backs the idea of common descent.”

    He’s the only one in that whole list. None of the rest of them accept common ancestry. This article in PNAS has a good summary of the situation.

  15. professorsmith

    Mr. Yu, you have not backed up your accusations. As such, I’m moderating your list. If you are going to put up lists with people’s names and make claims about them, then you have to substantiate those claims, else they will not be allowed to stand.

  16. professorsmith

    Mr. Tchernyshyov,
    Again, that’s marketing, and you have yet to show how it is any different from Ms. Scott pimping evolution to church groups. I guess when she does it, it is science, when ID does it it is Christian apologetics? If you are going to target the US audience, you have to target Christians, else you are targeting only 20% of the population at best. ID and evolution are both trying to influence that 80%. Don’t be upset simply because ID is doing a better job of it.

    Also, you’ll note that it says, “Christian and theistic,” meaning that both groups are included (again for marketing purposes) not only Christians. Once again, if it were strictly about Christians, why would any people of other faiths – Jews, Muslims, agnostics, atheists – support ID science?

  17. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    I’m afraid this tortured explanation creates more problems than it solves. Here’s why.

    Interpreting the Wedge Document as a marketing gimmick suggests that IDers (DI in particular) sold to their natural constituency, the Christians, a product that they did not intend to deliver. That is, donors would provide money for apologetics (as plainly stated in the Wedge Document) but DI would instead use it to pay for scientific research (your interpretation of ID).

    If I pulled a similar trick with my funding agencies (say, promised research but instead spent the money on public relations) they would withdraw the money and would never talk to me again. Have DI’s donors shown any sign of displeasure? No! The funding has increased from $1.4M in 1997 to $4.1M in 2003 with the Wedge brouhaha in between (1999). Apparently the donors (mostly evangelical Christians like the Ahmansons) do not think they were victims of a marketing gimmick. Perhaps DI does exactly what they want?

    But let’s see at the program stated in the Wedge Document and see whether it was a marketing ploy. No, turns out DI followed it to the letter.

    Here’s the section Activities from WD with the original in boldface and my comments in italics:

    (1) Research Fellowship Program (for writing and publishing) $3.6M spent since 1996 on fellowships for “scholars” (lawyers, philosophers, and mathematicians and almost no scientists). Check.

    (2) Front line research funding at the “pressure points” (e.g., Daul Chien’s Chengjiang Cambrian Fossil Find in paleontology, and Doug Axe’s research laboratory in molecular biology) Douglas Axe’s fellowship in England was funded for a time by DI. Check

    (3) Teacher training Luskin’s IDEA Clubs. Check

    (4) Academic Conferences Lots of ID meetings. Check.

    (5) Opinion-maker Events & Conferences Plenty of that. Check

    (6) Alliance-building, recruitment of future scientists and leaders, and strategic partnerships with think tanks, social advocacy groups, educational organizations and institutions, churches, religious groups, foundations and media outlets American Enterprise Institute, and lots more are on board. Check.

    (7) Apologetics seminars and public speaking Dembski alone has spoken many times on apologetics. Check.

    (8) Op-ed and popular writingNo shortage of op-eds and popular books. Check.

    (9) Documentaries and other media productions The Privileged Planet. Exploring Evolution. And many more. Check.

    (10) Academic debates Check.

    (11) Fund Raising and Development Check.

    (12) General Administrative support Check.

    Looks like a strategy document to me. In fact, I don’t know of any activities at DI that go outside of this “marketing proposal.”

  18. Oleg:

    First, take this from someone with the appropriate pieces of paper: marketing is a strategic component of the life of a business or organisation.

    Next, kindly look back at the key point. Namely, the issue is not to attack the person or group, but to address the case and the issue. That there has been an insistent short-circuiting of the issue [there is another comment in waiting on that] without addressign the issue, is telling.

    Next, let’s look at that strategy: reaearch has been done by scientists [including those qualified in relevant Math and Computing Science, cf. here WD’s resume, tut, tut]. That research has refined the subject and deepened the point. That Axe et al are part of this simply shows that DI has spent money on funding the emergent research programme. [For that matter, so has Templeton.] Partial result: a growing number of — to often unacknowledged or even counter-factually denied — peer-reviewed publications.

    I note here, that as Lakatos identified, in the core of a scientific research programme are worldview level commitments and assumptions. So, philosophy is relevant. indeed, even so basic a question as “Is ID Science?” is a phil not a scientific question.

    Ther restr of what you highlight is in the main responsive in a context of dealing with the most polemical of rhetorical contexts as a paradigm in tropuble fights ruthlessly top preserve what it sees as It’s turf.

    GEM of TKI

  19. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    On the subject of Eugenie Scott. Again, let’s look at the numbers. I am talking about the size of PR machines of ID and mainstream science.

    NCSE, an organization that consists of a dozen non-administrative staffers, is tiny compared to the scientific community. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has on the order of 10,000 members. American Society for Cell Biology counts 11,000 members. These are working scientists.

    Contrast it with DI’s Center for Science and Culture, which has 40 fellows. What’s the number of “ID scientists” actually working in the “field”? Behe, Gonzalez, Dembski, Axe, Wells, Minnich, Meyer, Loennig. I can’t list even a dozen. ID PR machine dwarfs ID “science”.

  20. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    And if ID is science as you keep saying, where are the technical publications? You know, show-all-your-work thingies called scientific articles? I’m not even talking about publications in mainstream peer-reviewed scientific journals.

    Let’s lower the plank and look at the performance of ID’s own journal, Progress in Complexity, Information and Design. Apparently, even thoug peer review in this journal is a joke, there is not enough ID science to fill even a quarterly journal with a dozen articles. The last issue of PCID appeared two years ago.

    Where is this thing you call ID science?

  21. Oleg Tchernyshyov


    I will address your other points, but for starters take this from someone who is an actual scientist: marketing is not a strategic component of the life of a scientist. Science is.

    DI’s proposed activities reproduced above indicate that it’s a PR machine for a specific cause that has nothing to do with science and everything to do with its religious implications. Since you have already stated that motives do not matter, you might as well agree with this point.

  22. professorsmith

    I do indeed have a problem with Akismet, as it seems to keep wanting to flag your posts. I don’t know why that is, but I fished out all of your posts and approved them. I apologize for the delay.

    My Tchernyshyov,
    I think your main complaint here can be summed up as the DI marketing too much, while the NCSE doesn’t get as much resources. It is true that scientists should be focused on science, but that would be in an ideal world. The world we live in, however, has a definite bias against doing certain types of science, and ID is one of those. This requires that ID proponents get the message out there. True, in the olden days, such things weren’t necessary, but with the internet, such things are necessary. Further, you might want to note that the Darwinista has much more than the NCSE doing their PR. Just look at the article that I linked to about St. Bernards. Here is a classic case of ID science, yet it’s labeled as evolution and the author even throws a shot at ID in the process. Oh, and BTW, there’s just one example of an ID paper. True, the authors don’t label it as such, but that’s exactly what it is.

  23. Oleg Tchernyshyov


    I see one serious problem with your program: it’s more art than science. Let me explain.

    Computer scientists have learned how to quantify information without regard for its content. Information understood in this sense can be measured objectively, i.e. without human participation: your computer can assess the amount of information in a file and compress it fully on its own.

    Not so with complex specified information. Dembski has written much about CSI but he has not explained how it can be quantified. So as far as I know, design inference works like this: a human scratches his head and proclaims: “It looks like an artifact to me.”

    I’ve skimmed your home page and found this passage explaining what CSI is: “That is, we have now made a step beyond mere capacity to carry or convey information, to the function fulfilled by meaningful — intelligible, difference making — strings of symbols.” (emphasis in the original). Obviously one has to rely on a human to decide whether a particular information string carries meaning. And what’s worse, two human beings may not agree on that. That makes design inference a totally subjective field, i.e. art and not science.

    I have no problem with art, whether secular or Christian. Just don’t call it science. There is a difference between the two and it is not subtle.

  24. Oleg Tchernyshyov


    No, I am not complaining/i> about the respective amounts of PR on the two sides, just noting the stark difference.

    I do not think NCSE needs a huge budget: ID does not pose a serious challenge to mainstream science. The guys and gals at NCSE are already doing their job very well. Recall the devastating effect of Barbara Forrest’s testimony at the Dover trial. You don’t need a large organization to unearth cdesign proponentsists. You need a dedicated individual.

    It also helps that IDers are bad scientists. The latest example of a fatal and rather embarrassing error by Dembski was discussed in considerable detail over at Panda’s Thumb. Don’t take my word for it, go visit the site of the Evolutionary Informatics Lab. It used to feature three papers by Dembski and Marks, now one of them, “Unacknowledged Information Costs in Evolutionary Computing,” has been quietly withdrawn. (One of the remaining papers ought to be withdrawn as well because it relies in significant measure on “Unacknowledged Costs.”)

    Or recall the recent takedown of Behe by ERV, a beginning graduate student who happens to know a bit more about HIV than the good professor. I can go on but you hopefully get the point.

  25. Oleg Tchernyshyov


    I suggest that you stay on topic and keep the St. Bernards to their thread.

    And please check the spam filters.

  26. professorsmith

    Mr. Tchernyshyov,
    You asked me for examples of ID science, I gave you one. Now you are going to complain that I’ve gone off topic?

    As for CSI, it’s a little more than scratching one’s head. One takes into consideration what design hallmarks are found, the probability of the object arising by chance, etc.

    I’ve also fished your comment out of the spam filter. Might I remind you that everyone makes mistakes, including you I’m sure. So, attacking Dembski for making what you claim is a mistake is no big deal. He gets attacked quite regularly for that, and the truth is that sometimes he will make a mistake just by being human. This does not make ID wrong or unscientific.

  27. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    Thanks for unspamming my comment. As to St. Bernards, we should deal with them in the appropriate thread. See you there.

  28. professorsmith

    Don’t you think that’s rather presumptuous of you?

  29. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    I didn’t mean to offend. But this thread already has several ongoing exchanges and I didn’t think adding observed evolution of dogs to the mix would help the matter. That subject can be discussed in its own thread.

  30. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    I intended to post additional evidence of ID borrowing its methods from creation science here, but this thread is currently focused on a comparative analysis of ID vs mainstream science.

    In order not to clutter things up, I will be posting that evidence on another thread suitable entitled ID and Creationism, the Missing Link?

  31. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    The link didn’t come out right. One more time: ID and Creationism, the Missing Link?

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