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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dilbert cartoonist: Fossils are bullshit (!)

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams seems to think for himself about evolution, despite flak from a Darwinist "ass hat" (his term). Although not an intelligent design supporter, Scott makes some of the very points that the ID guys and other non-Darwinians make about the Darwinist interpretation of the fossil record:
I’ve been trying for years to reconcile my usually-excellent bullshit filter with the idea that evolution is considered a scientific fact. Why does a well-established scientific fact set off my usually-excellent bullshit filter like a five-alarm fire? It’s the fossil record that has been bugging me the most. It looks like bullshit. Smells like bullshit. Tastes like bullshit. Why isn’t it bullshit? All those scientists can’t be wrong.

If you are new to the Dilbert Blog, I remind you that I don’t believe in Intelligent Design or Creationism or invisible friends of any sort. I just think that evolution looks like a blend of science and bullshit, and have predicted for years that it would be revised in scientific terms in my lifetime. It’s a hunch – nothing more.

Essentially, Adams is questioning the dogmatic certainty with which Darwinism is held to account for the history of life even though the evidence base is always shifting. Have fun. Read the whole thing!

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Kent Hovind scandal: Not much impact from his fall?

Some have wondered what the outcome would be for the ID community when last fall American creationist Kent "Dr. Dino" Hovind was sentenced to ten years in a US federal prison for tax evasion.

I didn't think it would make any difference because the word on the street was that Hovind was always pretty much out there by himself, doing his own thing, with some pretty questionable credentials. There was nobody else to drag down.

And his attitudes, in general, were pretty far out. For example, according to the Pensacola News Journal ,
Kent Hovind, whose life’s mission is to debunk evolution, says he and his employees are workers of God and therefore exempt from paying taxes. He pays his employees in cash and does not withhold their taxes or pay his share as an employer.

Well, Kent, what about all those American Christians who volunteer in the communities that their taxes support? They work for God by giving much more to the community than what is needed just to keep the roads clear and the lights on.

Anyway, Marcus Ross, the creationist geologist who received his PhD recently, amid controversy, writes me to say,
I think that, thankfully, there will be generally little fallout among the broader creationist and ID communities for the sins of Kent Hovind. Hovind is/was radically disconnected from virtually the entire YEC community, and had been sharply criticized by YECs in particular for poor scientific and Biblical arguments. His connection to ID is even more remote (basically just his use of ID materials). He never did any research of his own; never participated in large conferences; never subjected his ideas to scrutiny by trying to publish in the YEC literature. This last point is important, because as the YEC (and ID) community has grown, it has become more focused on peer-review and self-correction. To do that you must recognize the authority of other people as qualified to evaluate one’s work. Ultimately, it was Hovind’s refusal to submit to any authority besides his own that landed him in prison.

But we need not worry. We cannot control who uses ID or YEC arguments. I certainly hope that those who do are responsible, but the broader, responsible communities will continue to move forward with their respective programs and goals regardless of the occasional problematic proponent.

Marcus R. Ross
Assistant Director, Center for Creation Studies
Assistant Professor of Geology
Liberty University

(Note: If you are writing about Hovind or the tax case, ReligionNewsBlog provides a lot of links.)
If you want to understand why the intelligent design controversy cannot go away, read By Design or by Chance?.

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Stuff to read while I figure out my taxes:

I'm going to try to blog but it's tax time (whoop, whoop). Last night I put up a bunch of stuff here though.

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 recent series on the spate of anti-God books, teen blasphemy challenge, et cetera, and the mounting anxiety of materialist atheists that lies behind it.

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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