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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Quick posts: Recent events in the intelligent design controversy

■ The American Darwin lobby, National Center for Science Education tracks the explosion of "creationism" (which could include intelligent design theory or non-Darwinism or doubt about Darwinism) around the world. To understand why, read a few of the following items, for example, Pagel's review of Ruse. The committed Darwinist simply does not comprehend reasons for doubt.

■ In a review in Nature you would have to pay US$30 to buy, evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel reviews Michael Ruse'sDarwinism and its Discontents, describing it as a "pro-Darwin toolkit." The review is interesting for its description of the reasons many doubt Darwin:
The book is not a sociological study of the discontents; Ruse does not tell us who they are or even whether they are large in number. Rather, it is a sort of 'battle book', containing facts about evolution and natural selection, and is designed to be instructive in changing people's minds about darwinism. But creationists' disaffection with darwinism may only be cloaked in quibbles about design, the age of Earth, fossils, missing links and the importance of the peppered moth, Biston betularia. These concerns may conceal a deeper affective — indeed a limbic — response to the theory.

So, in case you wondered, There Is No Rational Argument Or Evidence Against Darwinism. Doubt merely arises in the limbic system (emotional center) of the brain. There, that clears that up nicely. Glad you asked. By the way, Pagel also tries to explain away the attempt to use Darwinism to explain everything from human morality to the origin of the universe. But it's too late for that. Too many people know how Darwinism is used, and will not be put off this way.
■ Mathematician John Allen Paulos argues against "creationist probability" - that is, he believes that the gradual evolution of complex machine-like structures is not wildly improbable. However, he does not identify by name anyone who is actually making the argument he trashes. A friend wonders whether he constructs his opposition from intuition.
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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