Tom Pittman's WebLog

 

2012 March 6 -- Guliuzza's Scared Poster

Randy Guliuzza lists his credentials as "P.E., M.D." The term "PE" stands for "Professional Engineer" which is a license granted by the state of Texas (and other governments), intended to ensure that the public gets competent services from people who call themselves "engineers". According to Guliuzza's bio page, he has an undergrad degree in engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, an MD from the University of Minnesota, and assorted other degrees less relevant to this discussion. He did not disclose which state granted his PE license, nor when it expires. In most states -- I believe Texas among them -- it is unlawful to claim to be a Professional Engineer unless the license is current in the state of residence. Since he works for ICR, which is located in Texas, I assume that is where Guliuzza lives.

So why this concern for credentials? Guliuzza has a regular column in the ICR Acts&Facts magazine. When he writes about the scientific topics of medicine or engineering in relation to the Darwinist religion, his comments are generally sound and valuable insights. When he strays from his core competencies as seen from his credentials, he looks as foolish as the Darwinists. This happened starting May of last year, in a series titled "Darwin's Sacred Imposter".

You don't need to read all four articles of the series, because he really only has two substantive points. First, and repeated throughout the series, Guliuzza insists that for "selection" to happen, there must be an intelligent Person (obviously God, from his perspective) doing the selecting, and secondarily, because the Darwinists deny that their "selector" is God, they must therefore be idolators. Thus the title of his series. He's obviously proud of this insight. It just happens to be incompetent. He is arguing semantics, and he is not qualified as a semanticist.

It turns out that semantics is my professional specialty. Translation is about converting a message from one language into a different language, while preserving the same meaning. That's semantics. I have a PhD in Information Science, and my dissertation deals with preserving the meaning of computer programs when translated from a human readable programming language into the ones and zeroes only a machine can read. I do this professionally, and I have made reasonably good money at it (plus a "5-mouse" rating from industry critics). I have also spent close to twenty years thinking about and implementing software to translate the Bible into human languages that do not yet have it. The software works reasonably well, although getting it funded has been a little difficult. But that's a non-technical problem.

His major point is that "Selection must be personified as the intelligent selector..." The exact words vary from article to article, but his point remains the same, repeated over and over. Anybody familiar with how computers work knows this is nonsense. Computers are not intelligent, certainly not now, maybe not ever. Yet selection is what they do. At my first job I often used a punched card sorter. It had no intelligence at all, yet selection is what it was designed to do. Guliuzza is not a computer professional; he cannot be expected to know these things, and he does not. He should stick to what he knows.

It's a semantic issue. Does the idea of "selection" require a person who selects? Does the idea of spray require a person who sprays? Does the idea of fire require a person who fires (ignites)? None of the above. Fires can be ignited by lightening. Maybe God did it, but not directly. Spray is all over the region near the base of a waterfall, no person (directly) involved. Guliuzza is like the Darwinists, who are so eager to debunk the Creationists that they point to non-existent evidence in support of their position; Guliuzza is too eager to debunk the Darwinists to stop and examine his arguments for credibility.

Natural Selection (NS) is an awesome concept. It really works -- to weed out the misfits and genetic mistakes, and thus to keep (ahem) creatures alive and thriving long after ordinary decay makes most of our own creations die off. The idea also works in non-natural environments, like economics. Products that get bought get manufactured. Of course in that environment there are intelligent people making the buying and manufacturing decisions, but the abstract principle still works. In nature there are sometimes intelligent beings deciding whether to reproduce or not, and sometimes whether to kill off their competitors, but as in economics, these decisions are somewhat irrelevant to the basic point, otherwise known as "survival of the fittest." The individual decisions do not individually affect the aggregate outcome; only the statistical sum of their decisions has any effect. That's a statistical issue; Guliuzza is also not a statistician. A statistician could successfully argue that while NS works in general, it cannot design new products for the ecosystem. Smart business people and smart inventors do that in the economic environment, but the Darwinists don't have a smart Designer to point to. They know that, but they are not statisticians either.

NS does not design anything, it only selects from the available options something that works. If Guliuzza had said only that, I would agree. But no, he wants to put words in their mouths saying that NS does the heavy lifting. He does quote some of them saying something like that. There certainly are stupid Darwinists, just like there are stupid Creationists. Half of all Darwinists are below average intelligence. Half of anything is below average. And, as Guliuzza would have us believe, if NS is doing the creating, then NS is a god, and the Darwinists are idolaters. Of course they are, but not for that reason. Anyway, that is a theological argument, not scientific. Guliuzza has theological credentials, but they are not listed with his name over the ICR articles he authored. ICR is trying to convince people that Creationism is good science. Their magazine talks about theological issues, but if they want to impact Christians wavering between the alleged science of Darwinism considered against the religion of Creationism, arguing science is more like to win converts than arguing bogus theology.

So I thoughtfully and politely wrote Guliuzza, encouraging him to focus on the topics he knows, and leave the areas where he lacks professional competence to people without that disability -- or at least get them to review what he's saying. His only response was to rush into print another four pages "Answering Questions about the Fallacy of Natural Selection". He did not answer any of my points directly, but sprinkled a couple key words from my letter in among the straw-man questions that he does answer. The five "questions" are obviously constructed to lead naturally into his argument, because they are not the kind of questions a person who disagrees with him would ask. The first of them:

Natural selection has been considered a settled issue. Why take it on, and what role do organisms' innate capabilities play in demonstrating that natural selection is a fallacy?
The phrase "has been considered" could only be used by a sympathetic reader to distance themselves from the claim. Somebody who believes that NS is a useful concept would say instead "it is a settled issue" or at least (as I wrote to him) that it's a useful term in the language for describing an actual process. The two actual questions here were both answered repetively in his previous four articles. He just wanted to repeat himself again.

You can tell this last article was rushed. He did not take time to remove unnecessary -- and in most cases false -- ad hominem attacks against his critics. I always know the debate is over when the other party leaves off dealing with facts and switches to personal attacks. When the facts are on your side, there is no need for ad hominem. Doing so is an admission of defeat. I'd bet Guliuzza knows that too.

I have an awesome "BS Detector" which quickly identifies when people do not believe what they are saying. An important part of it is consistency. If they raise contradictory arguments for what they are saying, then they are obviously not convinced by those arguments, because they cannot believe both an argument and its contradiction. Guliuzza failed that test. He wants to insist that only an intelligent Selector can select which organisms survive, but that doesn't work for unintelligent organisms like bacteria and plants, so he fabricates an argument based on the "organism's traits" which are somehow smart enough to modify themselves and fill the environment. That used to be called vitalism when the atheists wanted to eliminate God, before Darwin and the neo-Darwinists came up with a more plausible way to do it. I don't think Guliuzza is an honest vitalist. He's just running scared, because his huge investment is falling apart. Hence the title of my post today.

Guliuzza should stick to what he knows, and admit it honestly when he makes a mistake.
 

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