Wednesday, February 22, 2006

William Dembski believes in the Bible Code hoax!

Shock horror! William Dembski, with doctorates in mathematics and philosophy, and leading exponent in Intelligent Design, believes in the Bible Code books.

Well, not quite. That's the Panda's Thumb interpretation of a post over at Red State Rabble. Actually, it was the same post I looked at yesterday, oddly enough. To be fair to RSR, they were actually somewhat more guarded. What they said was:
Both Johnson and Dembski wrote favorable reviews of Cracking the Bible Code, a book touting the existence of a hidden code concealed in the Bible, by Jeffrey Satinover.
RSR then picked out the following section of Dembski's review:
At the same time that research in the Bible Code has taken off, research in a seemingly unrelated field has taken off as well, namely, biological design. These two fields are in fact closely related. Indeed, the same highly improbable, independently given patterns that appear as the equidistant letter sequences in the Bible Code appear in biology as functionally integrated ("irreducibly complex") biological systems, of the sort Michael Behe discussed in Darwin’s Black Box.

The relevant statistical methodology is identical for both fields. As a result, the two fields stand to profit from each other.
So Dembski doesn't believe in The Bible Code. Actually, he wrote a favourable review of a book about the Bible Code. Which really amounts to believing in The Bible Code books, doesn't it?

Well, not quite. Here's another extract from the start of Dembski's review:
Jeffrey Satinover’s Cracking the Bible Code is the place to begin for anyone interested in the subject. It is engagingly written, well-informed, and generally sober. In particular, it avoids the statistical fallacies too commonly associated with coverage of the Bible Code.
The Bible Code raises a number of sticking points. For instance, even if a nonhuman intelligence can convincingly be shown to have introduced information into the Bible, the identity of that intelligence remains controversial.
On the other hand, its speculative portions about the significance of the Bible Code are often diffuse and controversial.
That is actually quite guarded. He doesn't write off the theory, but he remains pretty agnostic about its validity, and about the claims it makes, although he points out that this approach to statistics can be used to detect design. To the best of my knowledge, a convincing case against this point has yet to be made.

Once again, if people are knowingly distorting the truth to support their arguments, to what extent should we be prepared to trust their other arguments?