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Monday, July 18, 2005

Interesting new reads in the intelligent design controversy

These items landed in my intray recently:

Blogger Stephen E. Jones has a most interesting post today on the problems of accounting for the minimal cell using Darwinian evolution. A number of readers of this blog have expressed interest in hearing about the problems of Darwinian evolution, so they will want to check out that one.

The World Socialists have weighed in on the intelligent design controversy, offering their support for Darwinism. Few Darwinists should rejoice at that, given the WS’s political and economic track record. Note, incidentally, how firm the WS types are at stamping out dissent. They are really at home, in their slippers, in the closed society.

(Note: If this is not the story you were looking for, see the Blog service note below or the stories listed in the sidebar. )

"Signs of intelligence" by William Constantine addresses the connections between Darwinism and atheism:

It may be the case that evolution's founding fathers had no deliberate pact with atheism, but if the two are still unrelated why does the Atheist Alliance ("the only national democratic atheist organization in the United States" according to their website) partake in the annual celebration of "Darwin Day"? Why does the National Secular Society of Great Britain feature the face of Charles Darwin as part of a series of "Hero's of Atheism" coffee mugs and why was the father of evolution voted the overwhelming favorite hero by the organizations members?

And those groups are just the riff-raff. Respected intellectuals often make the same association ...

I was glad to see this, because the near-constant obsession about links between intelligent design and theism should be met by at least some modest examination of the links between Darwinism and atheism. I hope Constantine reads some works by ID theorists at some point. It's not clear from his article that he has yet done so; he relies heavily on a criticism by H. Allen Orr.

In "Alien autopsy: Martians as metaphors", editor Jim Emerson at manages to pry an anti-ID message out of Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds. Fair enough, because Spielberg did apparently want to "make it suggestive enough so everybody could have their own opinion."

Emerson says,

Spectacularly dangerous stuff happens to Ray, and all around Ray(which is what makes him a worthy protagonist; if he just sat at home and trembled it could get pretty dull) -- but he takes a bashing and keeps on dashing toward the predetermined finish line.

And, when you think about it, that's kind of like the unsupported assumption behind Intelligent Design - that things have turned out the way they have (so far) because it was inevitable that they should; that an overriding, interventionist intelligence guided events so that they would result in the world as we see it today; and that the course of history and biology could not have gone otherwise because it was all planned in advance. The assumption is that evolution has been pointed toward this moment, rather than the present being just another point in a still-ongoing process with no "destination" in sight.

Ebert should read some lay-friendly works by intelligent design theorists. His quarrel seems to be with Laplace or perhaps with Simon Conway Morris, not with the ID guys. ID makes no claim that all current events were inevitable or that human life had to turn out the way it did. ID theorists claim only that some aspects of life forms and of the universe are best explained as the outcome of design.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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Attacking books vs. seizing manuscripts

I rarely respond to comments, but this one, in response to the post on the seized manuscript for Design of Life may be worth making an exception for.

The group preventing open discussion of a manuscript is acting in the interests of an open society; and the group that is trying to bring this manuscript into public view is acting as an enemy of open society?

Peer review 101. Pronouncements are examined and discussed by scientists. Here's the chance that the proponents of a new "theory" have been asking for. How about welcoming it?

Yes, indeed, in an open society, published books are attacked. But the reader seems to have lost track of the fact that, in this case, the manuscript was seized from the publisher. That is a typical closed-society tactic. It also signals that Darwinism is a bankrupt ideology.

After thirty-four years in publishing, the comfort I can offer publishers is that those who engage in such tactics have no moral certainty of their own position. And indeed they should not.

(Note: If this is not the story you were looking for, see the Blog service note below or the stories listed in the sidebar. )

Blog service note: Did you come here looking for any of the following stories?

- The op-ed by Catholic Cardinal Schonborn in the New York Times? Note also the Times's story on the subject, some interesting quotes from major Darwinists to compare with the Catholic Church's view, as expressed by the Cardinal, and an example of the kind of problem with Darwinian philosophy that the Cardinal is talking about.

- the Privileged Planet film shown at the Smithsonian, go here for an extended review. Please do not raise cain about an "anti-evolution" film without seeing it. If your doctor forbids you to see the film, in case you get too excited, at least read my detailed log of the actual subjects of the film. If you were one of the people who raised cain, ask yourself why you should continue to believe the people who so misled you about the film's actual content ...

- the showing of Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian, go here and here to start, and then this one and this one will bring you up to date.

Blog policy note: This blog does not intentionally accept fully anonymous Comments, Comments with language unsuited to an intellectual discussion, URLs posted without comment, or defamatory statements. Defamatory statement: A statement that would be actionable if anyone took the author seriously. For example, someone may say “O’Leary is a crummy journalist”; that’s a matter of opinion and I don’t know who would care. But if they say, “O’Leary was convicted of grand theft auto in 1983,” well that’s just plain false, and probably actionable, if the author were taken seriously. Also, due to time constraints, the moderator rarely responds to comments, and usually only about blog service issues.

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