James Carville Misrepresents Intelligent Design

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Teleologist, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. How James Carville’s New Book, 40 More Years Misrepresents Intelligent Design

    Posted by Casey Luskin on July 22, 2009

    In his new book, 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation, Democratic strategist James Carville badly misrepresents intelligent design (ID) as a wholly negative argument against evolution. What’s most incredible is that Carville makes this inaccurate characterization directly after quoting passages from ID proponents making wholly positive arguments for design.

    One such passage he quotes is from our Intelligent Design Briefing Packet for Educators, as follows:

    Intelligent design “begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI).…One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be discovered by experimentally reverse-engineering biological structures to see if they require all of their parts to function. When [intelligent design] researchers find irreducible complexity in biology, they conclude such structures were designed.”
    Carville then asserts: “Basically, because they don’t understand evolution, and they can’t replicate it, these intelligent design ‘scientists’ have decided it can’t have taken place.” (pg. 89) No, that’s not what this passage says. In fact, this passage says precisely the opposite. It makes a strong positive case for intelligent design that is not based upon the mere refutation of neo-Darwinian evolution.

    The same Briefing Packet notes that observation-based experience teaches that intelligent agency is the cause of high CSI systems, such as irreducibly complex machines. This yields a positive argument for design. As Michael Behe explained during the Dover trial, “This argument for design is an entirely positive argument. This is how we recognize design by the purposeful arrangement of parts.” (Michael Behe, October 17 AM Testimony, Page 110)

    In the 2006 edition of Darwin’s Black Box, Behe further explains why irreducibly complex features provide positive evidence for design:

    “Irreducibly complex systems such as mousetraps and flagella serve both as negative arguments against gradualistic explanations like Darwin’s and as positive arguments for design. The negative argument is that such interactive systems resist explanation by the tiny steps that a Darwinian path would be expected to take. The positive argument is that their parts appear arranged to serve a purpose, which is exactly how we detect design.”
    (Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, Afterward, pgs. 263-264 (Free Press)

    Scott Minnich and Stephen Meyer put it even more forcefully in a research paper they co-published in the Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Design & Nature in Rhodes, Greece:

    "In all irreducibly complex systems in which the cause of the system is known by experience or observation, intelligent design or engineering played a role in the origin of the system.…Although some may argue this is a merely an argument from ignorance, we regard it as an inference to the best explanation…given what we know about the powers of intelligence as opposed to strictly natural or material causes."
    (Scott A. Minnich & Stephen C. Meyer, “Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits in Pathogenic Bacteria”)

    Regardless of what Carville thinks, ID proponents have made it clear that their argument is a positive one, based upon what we do know about the information generative powers of intelligent agents, not based upon what we don’t know about Darwinian evolution or any other theory. ID is not based upon a mere refutation of evolution, nor is it based upon our ignorance of how evolution worked.

    It seems clear that Carville has little or no idea of what ID actually is. Moreover, Carville’s book really doesn't offer any serious treatment of this topic. In fact, he has a clear agenda in misrepresenting ID: his purpose to miscast the whole matter as a Democrat vs. Republican issue.

    Carville’s chapter on evolution really boils down to a rhetorically outlandish defense of intellectual intolerance a la Richard Dawkins’s infamous line, “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” My guess is that Carville would be horrified to learn just how many Democrats disagree with him, and support academic freedom in evolution education.
  2. James Carville Wrongly Frames the Evolution Debate as a Democrat vs. Republican Issue

    Posted by Casey Luskin on July 24, 2009

    In a recent post, I explained how James Carville’s new book, 40 More Years: How the Democrats will Rule the Next Generation, badly misrepresents intelligent design (ID) as merely a negative argument against evolution. Carville somehow failed to notice that the passage he quoted from our Briefing Packet for Educators made an entirely positive argument for design. But Carville, a longtime Democratic strategist, has a game plan and he’s not going to let the facts get in his way.

    The point of Carville’s chapter on evolution is to turn the debate into a club that he can wield in his war against Republicans. Not one to shy away from a rhetorical flourish, Carville writes: “the so-called debate over evolution boils down to the Republicans invisible-angel theory of gravity against the Democrats’ 150 years of science and the U.S. Constitution position.” (pg. 93) Of course there’s plenty of credible scientific dissent from neo-Darwinian evolution. More interestingly, Carville’s book completely fails to recognize how members of his own party feel about the evolution debate. Polls show that self-described “liberals” and Democrats support academic freedom in evolution-education just as much as (and in some cases more than) self-described “conservatives” and Republicans!

    For example, Mr. Carville would probably be horrified to learn that a 2006 poll found that 65 percent of Democrats feel that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution.

    Mr. Carville might want to sit down for this next one. A poll taken in January 2009 found that over 80 percent of self-identified “liberals” and Democrats agreed that “teachers and students should have the academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory” -- a higher percentage than the 72 percent of Republicans who felt the same. The figure below shows the poll data:

    In his war against Republicans, Carville probably also won’t tell you how prominent members of his own Democratic party have voted for measures that endorse objectivity in evolution-education.

    Carville certainly isn’t the first pundit to wrongly frame this debate as a wedge issue, splitting Democrats from Republicans. However, based upon his book, there’s little doubt that he would ardently reject academic freedom in evolution education. He opens the book’s chapter on evolution by stating there is no room for dissent on the topic:

    “If there’s ever been a time to use the word ‘incontrovertible,’ it’s when we’re talking about evolution. Arguing about evolution is like arguing about gravity.” (pg. 88)

    Later, Carville unashamedly declares that the “statement on evolution” that he “may agree with most closely” is the following from former Alaska senator Mike Gravel:

    “Evolution is a fact and if these people are disturbed by being the descendants of monkeys and fishes, they’ve got a mental problem. We can’t afford the psychiatric bill for them. That ends the story as far as I’m concerned.” (pg. 93)

    Someone should remind Carville that in politics, boasting about your agreement with Mike Gravel is generally not recommended as a way to get ahead. Indeed, Carville's outlandish rhetoric insults those who still support the positive qualities that are supposed to be embodied by the classical "liberal" -- intellectual freedom, tolerance, respect for diversity, and commitment to the free and civil exchange of ideas.

    Carville says in his book that the evolution debate is “res judicata” (meaning a settled matter), but right now I’d rather say res ipsa loquitur, which in this instance means that Carville’s unashamed intolerance speaks for itself. Whether he likes it or not, by treating evolution as a dogma that should not be criticized or questioned, he’s actually grossly out-of-step with the vast majority of Americans, including, it turns out, members of his own party.
  3. you bible thumpers never give up:

    Casey Luskin is an American attorney and author who promotes intelligent design. He co-founded the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center, which promotes ID on college and high school campuses across the country.[

  4. James Carville? I usually call him Skeletor.
  5. Eight


    James Carville is the biggest steaming pantload I've ever seen.

    All these people that frame the debate as "science vs religion" are also steaming pantloads. Look at tapes from drdino.com to get some of this stuff sorted out...
  6. stu


    Intelligent Design is there to help people feel smart about saying very stupid things.
  7. byteme


    I thought the myth of flagella as being irreducibly complex had been debunked...