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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Now 700 scientist doubt Darwin

Now, apparently, 700 scientists have signed a document saying
"We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

It would be interesting to know how many would do that if it were safe. But, strangely, at that point it would be no longer important. They wouldn't be very important.

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Darwin Day: Get it while it's hot

My inbox is full of stuff about Darwin Day, apparently tomorrow. Looking at the photos fronting the Darwin Day site, I get the feeling that the old boy contracted a spiritual disease of some kind early in life that ate at his vitals. But hey, don't believe me. Look carefully at the portraits/photos and judge the matter for yourself.

Meanwhile, I don't recall if I ever got around to blogging on the Flock of Dodos film, yet another attempt to address the ID controversy without taking seriously the fact that materialism is in deep trouble. The promissory notes of promissory materialism are not cashing. Chimps are not people, the mind is not simply an illusion created by the functions of the brain, and human behaviour cannot be explained by controlling genes - and that's only a start on the problem. (For a detailed explanation, you will have to see The Spiritual Brain by Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary, Harper, 2007). I will provide links for that shortly.

My ID-friendly friends are really upset at the misrepresentations in the Dodos film, and there is no sinple way that I can explain to them why the people involved must misrepresent ID. Most artsies assume that science IS applied materialism. To the extent that they ever involve themselves with science, their job is to promote science as applied materialism. From what I have heard, Dodos is no exception. Oh yes, the artsies may go home and think something entirely different in their private lives. But once they enter the "science" zone, they sell out immediately and pitch headfirst into radical materialism.

So, here's the kind of rubbidge they promote, not knowing that it isn't true: mind from mud, order for free, computers as incipient people, morals as the survival strategy of lucky beasts, et cetera. I have watched it, sickened, for many years. And watched the zoned-out stupidity that results.

Yes, misrepresentations would trip easily to the artsies' lips. They need their pay. Materialists generally control funding. Few projects go forth in confidence without the materialist stamp of approval.

And so much is at stake. If there is any evidence of intelligent design in the universe, not only is materialist atheism wrong, but whole rows of pasty-faced profs spluttering the formulas for selling out to materialism on behalf of dying institutional churchianity to increasingly empty pews are now ... obviated.

So we must begin again. Maybe even sober and without a budget ...

But the materialists and their supporters in institutional churchianity do have budgets. Whether from the hapless taxpayer, as is increasingly the case, or from the endowments of the dim (deceased!) pious old dears of institutional churchianity, they have budgets. They will fight hard for the survival of materialism. Darwin Day dawns.

In the runup to Darwin day, Discovery Institute staged a youtube video, demonstrating that, contrary to one of the more outlandish claims in the Dodos film, Haeckel's fraudulent series of drawing of embryos has NOT been retired. Decades later, it is still alive and well in biology texts.

Sometimes these situations frustrate me because, really, it is all so easy to understand. Haeckel's embryos - if his drawings had been accurate - would have shown that vertebrate taxa start out very similar, which supports Darwin's theory. Yes, if he had drawn the embryos accurately. But he apparently doctored them to look similar at key points, when they in fact do not. And generations of Darwinists have kept the pious lie going, like a legend of a saint who never really existed.

But let's be realistic. It would be very difficult for a convinced Darwinist to resist doctoring those drawings. To a Darwinist, it doesn't matter what is true. Human brain function is simply an outcome of human evolution. As Francis Crick famously said in The Astonishing Hypothesis,

"Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive and leave descendants"

Oh? You want to know what is true? Well, then, by definition, you are not a convinced Darwinist because you think that your brain is adapted to discovering truth, not to leaving descendants. In that case, you should NOT celebrate Darwin Day at all.

Okay, here's a stab at a possible truth: Embryo development does not particularly support Darwin's theory. It argues rather for a yet undiscovered law, principle, process, or ... what? What does the dance of embryogenesis argue for?

Be sure that whatever embryogenesis argues for, the Darwinist thinks that it does not matter what the kids learn, as long as it works for Darwinism.

School board funding and the favourable huffing of politicians and celebrity journalists await the purveyor of materialism, and Darwinism as its creation story. Those people are so certain of what they believe that myth becomes reality in their hands, and is fed to further generations of schoolkids, to their profit and at their parents' expense. But both the kids and their parents are just meat puppets anyway, or bunch of chemicals running around in a bag. Right?

Still, the fraudulent Haeckel embryo series must be true in the eyes of Darwinists, just as any miracle story that supports a cult must be true in the eyes of believers. No wonder the filmmaker incorrectly claimed that the false drawings were no longer presented in textbooks.

While we are here: Some people wanted to know what I was going to do for Darwin Day. Well, I have several jobs:

1. Address marketing issues for non-materialist neuroscience book (Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary, The Spiritual Brain, Harper 2007).

2. Catch up on bookkeeping (whoop, whoop).

3. Begin to proofread non-materialist neuroscience book.

None of that has anything to do with Darwin, specifically. It was just how my day turned out. I would have thought that burial in Westminster Abbey was enough for the old Brit toff, and I am not exceeding that myself.

Check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?.

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Thinkquote of the day: The infamous "Wedge" document

One thing that absolutely fascinates me is conspirazoids - people who think that social, demographic, philosophical, political, economic, or you- name-whatever-kind-of-change must originate in a conspiracy. Now, I have never been a fan of conspiracy theories, for the simple reason that in my experience as a journalist, most people cannot keep secrets if their social importance would increase as a result of spilling the beans. Also, I do not have a conspiracy theory about conspirazoids. I just think that some people deal with anxieties over unwelcome change by assuming that a "vast rightwing conspiracy" or a "vast left-wing conspiracy" is behind it. And heaven knows, some people have a lot to be anxious about.

Anyway, many Darwinists have been flogging the "Wedge document" for years, allegedly setting out the intelligent design guys' plan to take over the world. John G. West of the evil Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture (the ID think tank) tells me,
The so-called "Wedge" document was simply an old fundraising proposal. As such, it wasn't a public document, and those who took it didnt have the right to release it. But the Darwinist's preoccupation with the document shows how little of substance they really have to focus on. Contrary to Darwinist claims, there was nothing "secret" about the proposal's explanation of the harmful consequences of the pseudo-science of scientific materialism. That same language had been used in all sorts of public documents. The effort by Darwinists like Barbara Forrest to portray this fundraising proposal as some sort of "secret strategy" is silly to the point of absurdity. Especially ridiculous was Forrest's painstaking effort in her book Creationism's Trojan Horse to try to determine whether this document really came from Discovery Institute. All she had to do was ask us and we would have verified it (we did to any reporter who asked). But she never did. She was too intent on her conspiracy-mongering.

Well, maybe she finds that sort of thing fun. My own take on the origin of the ID controversy is this: The intelligent design controversy is best understood as a conflict between materialist and non-materialist views of the origin and nature of the universe. Reputable scientists can be found on both sides. Because the two sides proceed from different assumptions, they do not agree, as Thomas Kuhn would say, on what would constitute a falsification of their premises. The controversy continues to grow because, while materialism is prevalent in academia and the media, it is widely discredited in the population at large, including the professional classes. No wonder the Darwinists prefer conspiramongering.

My other blog is the Mindful Hack, which keeps tabs on neuroscience and the mind.

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.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

My review of Francis Collins’ book The Language of God , my backgrounder about peer review issues, or the evolutionary biologist’s opinion that all students friendly to intelligent design should be flunked.

Lists of theoretical and applied scientists who doubt Darwin and of academic ID publications.

My U of Toronto talk on why there is an intelligent design controversy, or my talk on media coverage of the controversy at the University of Minnesota.

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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