Dec 032005

In the Teaching ID post I said that I would give a detail response to Lawrence Krauss’s address at AEI.

Krauss began his address by comparing the underperformance of U.S. students to other countries. He blames our current pursuit of ID due to our ignorance of science. In reference to President Bush’s comment that both sides of the ID and evolution controversy should be taught, he said:

What it does represent, of course, is a misunderstanding of the issue, and it reaches all the way to the White House, and, therefore, it is not surprising that we are here and that I have to go around the country often and talk about this when I would rather be talking about how interesting science is.

He continues…

A recent example is that U.S. 12th graders performed well below the international average for 21 countries in math and science. And there’s tons of statistics like that.

Krauss wants to paint a dire picture of how we will not be able to compete with other country if we continue with these ignorant ideas. The problem is that why didn’t Krauss consider what got us here in the first place. Why are our educational standard behind so many countries? Was ID being taught in schools and thus caused this ignorance? Or was Darwinism and the Darwinian scientific methods that is being taught and thus caused this ignorance? There are also many other factors social, political and cultural, none of which have to do with the teaching of science that have led us to this point. Even I would not blame the Darwinian establishment for our “misunderstanding” of evolution (good science) from ID (bad science).

The biggest misunderstanding about science in the general public in my opinion is people think science tells us what’s true. Science doesn’t do that. It tells us what’s false. That’s all science can do, is falsify things

I am glad to hear him say that. I wish he would tell his Darwinian friends to stop criticizing ID as just a negative argument. 🙂

Now, we’ve seen a lot of discussions about intelligent design … The point is it has a lot of different definitions, and there’s a reason why it has a lot of different definitions, because, in fact, I would argue it hasn’t been subjected to the same kind of peer review and scrutiny that most–that, say, Darwinian evolution has. It’s got many different definitions, but I think what we have seen and what is most important to understand about this is that intelligent design is primarily opposed to evolution.

On second thought never mind about the previous suggestion. Krauss needs to tell himself about his misunderstanding of science. According to his falsification definition of science this is exactly what half of the ID theory is doing. ID is unified in falsifying the theory of evolution. That is evolution in the Darwinian sense of RM, NS & EvoDev. ID is engaged in the falsification of the mechanisms of Darwinian evolution.

the real opposition is not so much to evolution as to science itself, science as it’s traditionally carried out by scientists.

Sorry Lawrence that is just plain wrong. If he would just spend a little bit of effort to represent ID correctly instead of trying to spin a PR campaign, maybe the students in our schools and the White House would not have so much misunderstanding of science. I mean who are we to question the “scientists” like yourself who are doing science. We are only allow to question what “scientists” like you deem appropriate to question right?

And they said science standards use a little-known rule to censor the evidence of design, in fact, as John said. The rule, which is usually unstated, is often referred to as methodological naturalism.

Now, as Barbara pointed out, we have another name for it in the scientific community. We call it the “scientific method.”

This is just plain wrong. The “scientific method” is not equal to “methodological naturalism” The scientific method does not preclude a priori an intelligent cause for a theory or hypothesis. I would like to see Krauss prove the epistemology of “methodological naturalism” using the scientific method.. IOW, demonstrate the “scientific method” itself is a product of natural causes and events

The scientific method should be about collecting data and allowing the evidence to lead wherever it goes. The problem with Krauss and Forrest is that they have a bad construct of the “scientific method”, which causes them to come to a wrong conclusion. In their construct the result of a forensic investigation into the cause of death, would always be natural causes. An intelligent causal agent is inadmissible. If Krauss has been teaching this kind of scientific method to our students no wonder we are behind other countries.

But what does the document say? It says the proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. This cardinal idea came under wholesale attack drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Science is the villain.

Please go read the real story on the Wedge document. Krauss left out the words “by intellectuals” in the sentence “this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science” By removing these 2 little words the subject of the criticism is no long on certain individuals, instead the criticism is on modern science. This is very convenient for Krauss’s public relations campaign that ID is anti-science. The only problem with his spin is that it is not true. I am sure it was just a honest mistake by Krauss. I don’t think he would deliberately misquote by leaving out certain words in order to vilify ID proponents, would he?

It’s absolutely dishonest because it presumes that there is a scientific controversy– … –and there isn’t.

A colleague of mine did a survey of over 10 million articles and over 20 major science journals during the past 12 years. Hit the keyword “evolution.” A hundred and fifteen thousand articles used the keyword “evolution.” Most of them referred to biological evolution.

Hit the keyword “intelligent design.” Eighty-eight articles. All but 11 of these were in engineering journals

Dr. Krauss, please try to use that analytically scientific mind of yours. A controversy is not based on a popularity contest. A controversy is based on the merits of an argument. When the entire world adhered to geocentricity one man was espousing heliocentricity. Was there a controversy? The cherished and august science that Krauss claims to defend from the deceptive Creationists is not, a respecter of popular opinion.

here is how science is done. First you have an idea. There’s design. Okay, novel idea. Then you actually do research. Now, that research can be experimental or theoretical. And then after you do the research, you submit it for publication, and it gets sent out to people who are idiots. They’re called peer reviewers. Okay? And those idiots tell you why you’re wrong. And then you write to them explaining how ridiculous they are, and you debate, and it takes a long time, and sometimes you get it published. But, big deal, you get it published. There’s a lot of junk that’s published.

Excellent Dr. Krauss, let’s do that.
ID: We have a hypothesis called design. We would like to get funding to do some research to test this hypothesis.
Krauss: Do you have any published papers to support your hypothesis for funding this research?
ID: No, not yet. This is the reason we are asking for the funding, so we can do the research and submit our findings for publication.
Krauss: We can only give funding to research that is science and since you don’t have any research or publication to demonstrate your hypothesis is science we can’t give you any funding for this research.
ID: In that case let’s have a debate about the merits of the design hypothesis. Give us a chance to justify the hypothesis for research funding.
Krauss: That is not necessary. You are Christians so this is just an attempt to establish a theocratic government. This is not science.

Now, let me give you some data, some figures which are more depressing than any you’ve heard from the most recent Harris poll. Here’s one that’s not too surprising. Do you believe human beings developed from earlier species or not? Fifty-four percent said no, 38 percent said yes. A far bigger plurality than the presidential election, they say they don’t believe in evolution.

But that is not as depressing as these other ones. Which of the following do you believe are how humans came to be? Only 22 percent believe that human beings evolved from earlier species; 64 percent believe they were created directly by God; and about 10 percent believe intelligent design.

I don’t know where he got his figures but if they are right, it sound great. Why is it depressing? I think Krauss would say this is indicative of the ignorance of science by the respondents of this poll. However, there is another possibility that Krauss has overlooked. The respondents do not see any evidence of the type of speciation that he claims to have happened. The evidence just isn’t there. Why is he so committed to his evolution? Using his analytic criteria, maybe it is because to stay as an atheist, he needs naturalistic evolution to be real.

In that NSF survey–and this alludes to a question that was brought up earlier–50 percent of adults knew that the Earth orbits the Sun and takes a year to do it. Fifty percent of the American public, therefore, does not know that the Sun is essentially the center of the solar system. So as was pointed out in that question earlier, but even more strongly, not just a few marginal people but 50 percent of the American public doesn’t know this.

If these are the same people in the previous poll then this would explain the ignorance of the respondents. But didn’t these people go to public schools at all? Doesn’t Darwinian advocating educators dominate the public schools? Is this what happens when Darwinian science is taught to our kids, that they still don’t know the Sun is at the center of our solar system? This is more reason why we should include more intelligent design in our education don’t you think?

If you really are interested in critical thinking, produce real controversies that you can talk to students about. In my own field of physics, the nature of gravity, there’s a lot more scientific papers saying that Newton’s wrong than there are saying Darwin’s wrong. Okay. That’s a controversy. Why is gravity under attack?

Maybe this was suppose to be an example of why we have 50% of the respondents who don’t know about heliocentricity. We are teaching them that Newton is wrong. Gravity is under attack. No wonder they are so confused.

Who knows we might fly off the Earth at any moment because gravity doesn’t exist. Or maybe when we step on a scale and find that we just gain 25 pounds. It is because gravity is wrong and not because of the dozen donuts we eat every morning. Is this the kind of comparison that Krauss wants t make between gravity and Darwinian evolution? It seems to me that the only people that are attacking gravity are the Darwinian evolutionists.

In biology, why not talk about natural selection, random mutation, and the issue of how they interact? And there are controversies from people who believe in the relevant significance of those things. Those are real controversies.

Krauss is not applying critical thinking here. This is not a controversy. This is merely a debate between committed Darwinists who fully accept the power of RM&NS to produce all the biodiversity that we see. It is only a disagreement on the degree of each alleged mechanism.

The Copernican example I gave earlier was a real controversy. ID is a real controversy. Krauss’s example is not a real controversy. It is a strawman.

Now, I want to hit the last question, I think the last thing I probably want to talk about, is this question of historical science. … They said, “This misses the point about how science tests hypotheses.” We don’t see the Earth going around the Sun or atoms that make up matter. We see their consequences. Scientists infer that atoms exist and the Earth revolves because they have tested predictions derived from these concepts by extensive observation and experimentation. All science is historical science.

This is historical science? I can’t believe that Krauss is actually using these as examples of historical sciences. The testing of the Earth’s orbit and the existence of atoms is a present, real time experimental endeavor. These predictions can be retested right now with current observation to verify their accuracy. There is nothing historical about it.

And evolutionary biology is exactly like other sciences in that sense. We may make observations that are past, but we then make predictions about observations that have not yet been made. We predict the future. Or experiments that have not yet been performed about genetic resemblances and susceptibility to viruses among different species, these are experiments that haven’t been performed. We make predictions about them. We test them. And when they agree, that’s the science and that’s how evolutionary biology has survived for the last 150 years.

I must apologize ahead of time for what I am about to say. Is Krauss so ignorant (like the respondents of his survey) that he really can’t tell the difference between the predictions about the Earth’s orbit and the macroevolution of species? Macroevolutionary biology is historical science because it is an alleged event in the past and it has not been repeated. Earth’s orbital characteristics can be tested and repeated at present time. It is not historical science.

The kind of evolutionary biology predictions and experiments that he is referring to is microevolution, which he know perfectly well is not in debate. There is no controversy there. Please don’t tell us that evolutionary biology is nothing more than predicting bacterial resistance to antibiotic or some virus mutation. Darwinian evolution makes sweeping claims of macro level changes from prokaryotic cells to eukaryotic cells and Pakicetus to cetacean transformation. Please, Dr. Krauss, test these claims.

Here are two beautifully apparently designed objects. What they are are snowflakes, right? They look like Christmas ornaments. But if you had to pick something that looked like it would be designed, it would be that. Of course, we understand how these random laws of physics and chemistry produce crystal structures that produce snowflakes. Okay? But, a priori, if you want to look at that and didn’t know yet how the laws of physics and chemistry did it, you would say it was evidence for design.

Design theory is a lot more sophisticated than you give credit for. Look at IDEA’s An Introduction to Intelligent Design for more detail to answer this. The key is that Krauss said if you don’t know about physics and chemistry then the snowflake would look design. Maybe, but the point is that we do know about physics and chemistry. Just as in Darwinian evolution, if you didn’t know anything about genetics and molecular biology (like Charles Darwin) then you might think that species have evolved from some first life. Well the point is that we do know about DNA and molecular biology. We do know about RM&NS. We understand the basis of how biology functions and Darwinian mechanism does not explain what we observe. Design is a better explanation.

What about clear evidence for design, like human structures, like Buckminster Fuller’s beautiful geodesic dome? Clear evidence for design, unless it happens to be nature producing buckminster fullerene, carbon 60, which is naturally produced in soot, and we understand how it’s produced, and it’s vitally important, becoming in many cases a vitally important tool for modern technology.

This is the same argument as the snowflake but let me reverse the question. Why doesn’t Krauss think that the geodesic dome is a product of naturalistic formation?

As my friend, Steve Weinberg, who’s a physicist and notably anti-religious, has said, “Science does not make it impossible to believe in God. It just makes it possible to not believe in God.”

And that’s really important because until we had science, everything was miraculous. And so science is for some people a threat, and I think what one has to do–and I could have given a different lecture here, and I have the slides, but I am sure John won’t want me to do it. And the most effective I think I’ve ever been is going into fundamental schools and pointing out, using quotes by Moses Maimonides and St. Augustine and the Pope, that you don’t have to be an atheist to believe in evolution. You don’t have to be an atheist. In fact, all these people say precisely the opposite.

And I have found when I’ve got into those schools, that kids have come up to me and said, “This is a shock because every week in my church I’ve been told that all my life.” And to see theological authorities talk about that and point out that intelligent design is not just bad science, it’s bad theology, is important. And I think we have to do that.

And you really hit the point. Scientists–we have lost the public relation battle in many ways, and I didn’t go into it.

IMO, this is the most revealing part of his entire talk. It is not Krauss’s grandstanding in preaching the importance of protecting the purity of science. It all comes down to his desire to protect his atheistic belief. Krauss is not interested in teaching science. He is concerned with developing a better public relations battle to sell Darwinian evolution. He also gives this presentation to religious schools. He has slides that include selected quotes from certain religious authorities to tear down the barriers to Darwinism. I have not seen his presentation with the quotes from these authorities, but if he is as good a theologian as he is with his scientific method then there is not much to worry about.

Ultimately the only thing that seems to matter to Darwinists like Krauss and Forrest is that science is not an end but a means to make it possible to not believe in God.

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[…] um Lawrence Krauss made a keynote address on the teaching of Intelligent Design. I want to critique his lengthy talk at a later post and there is a lot to criticize. What is germane to this posting […]

16 years ago


Excellent post. I’m afraid at time there is the spectre of an ugly possibility. There is a chance these guys know full well ID had nothing to do with it. They are deliberately and methodically choosing a scapegoat which they full well know is not the real problem, but by doing so, they will further their interests.

I have a feeling they know their theory is bankrupt, but what will they do, capitulate to their hated foes the IDists? I wonder what their behind-clsoed-door conversations are like: “yeah, Dembski and Behe are right…..but how can we misrepresent them to help our cause…it will buy us time till our theory finds real answer, but for now we need to stall and prevent debate at all costs”.


16 years ago

Thanks Sal. It seems to me that you have a personal archrival of your own in the form of Art. He seems to take every opportunity to take the most inane swipe at you. 🙂 I am finally beginning to understand the responses from the Darwinians. Bankruptcy breeds desperation.

In the best Spock voice that I can muster “It is Darwinian science Sal, just not science as we know it.” 😀


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