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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sketches from the Toronto ID conference 1

Two top-of-mind events, for now:

(In the order of remembrance of things past, not necessarily long term importance)

1. The depth of the crisis with Darwinian evolution became apparent to me when I watched and listened to the Darwinian biologists present. For these people, Darwinism is a cult. They simply cannot understand objections to Darwinian evolution as actual objections. For example, the fact that very few instances of speciation are actually observed makes it very difficult to test Darwinian evolution against other kinds. This may be an accident, to be sure, but it is an accident with consequences. It means that the "overwhelming evidence" that supposedly exists for Darwin's theory is really just overwhelming belief on the part of people like themselves.

But there they sit, placid with overwhelming belief like pious grannies, mistaking it for overwhelming evidence.

2. To bolster their view - and this is a familiar psychological tactic - they construct a straw man of opponents. I was informed, by one career atheist, for example, that Phillip Johnson was a "fraud", by another that no ID papers have ever been published, and by a third that the ID guys are in it for the money and that no serious scientist would disagree with Darwinian evolution. All nonsense, of course.

In what must have been the nastiest moment (but still funny), an elderly evolutionary biologist implied to me that the journalists who cover the ID controversy without trashing the ID guys are getting paid to come to conferences by the Discovery Institute where we are sold a bill of goods.

Yeah really. Okay, okay, folks, we do have a secret handshake, too, that includes mimicking the Panda's Thumb and then pretending to spit ... and we also have this underground shrine in a bunker somewhere where we desecrate copies of ... So sorry, I forgot, this is journalism, not Fiction 101. Back to da fax, I am afraid.

When I made clear to this individual that an ethical journalist would not accept money for such a purpose, he changed his tack a bit, but it became clear that he has little idea how media work, and less interest. He did not even realize, for example, that a journalist who writes a book, like Pamela Winnick, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, or myself must convince a trade publisher, not the Discovery Institute, that there is a book-length story to tell.
But, like the career atheist who is convinced that Johnson is a fraud, he doesn't really care about the facts of the case. Darwinism is his creation story, and he is not likely to question it.

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