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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

For one night only!: Hear Steve Fuller's "Lincoln and Darwin play"

Go here to hear the play online. Basically, here's the idea:
Fuller has an interesting premise: A postmodern talk show on which Charles Darwin (Chuck) and Abe Lincoln (Abe), whose birthdays fall on the same day, appear. They are interviewed, and decide if they want to stay in the present or go back to wherever they are now (not disclosed as a matter of broadcast policy). There are two hosts - the big hair hostette (Sheila) and a wisecracking dude on a short lead (Jack). Here’s just a snippet:

ABE [bemused]: Like it or not, Darwin, it seems that you’ve been turned into the God behind the new science of Genesis!

CHUCK [looks cross]: I fail to see the humour in all this. My good name has been misappropriated for some sophisticated form of alchemy!

SHEILA: Chuck, lighten up! The stuff works – at least most of the time. I mean – I’ve got this recent testimonial from an expert. Listen to what he says: “Genes are digitally coded text, in a sense too full to be dismissed as an analogy. Like human words they have the power to hurt and to heal, and that power is the greater because, given the right conditions, genetic words can dictate with stronger predictability than most human imperatives.”

CHUCK: That sounds like the ravings of some theologian still stuck in the seventeenth century with his Book of Nature and Book of God.

SHEILA: No, Chuck! That’s Richard Dawkins. He’s on your side. He’s the greatest evolutionist ever produced by television!

More here.

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Darwinism: Well then, no birthday cake for you, David!

The Ottawa Citizen's David Warren's birthday greeting to Darwin is
I oppose Darwinism because it is an intellectual & scientific fraud. I have opposed it all my adult life on that account alone; as I've told you before, I opposed it as crap science when I was an atheist. But I oppose it today with greater & greater passion, because I see that it provides the cosmological groundwork for real evil.
(Note: If you are looking for Mark Steyn's testimony on the Ontario Human Rights Commission, go here.)
He offers a link to a discussion of what it means to say that humans are unique.

Here are some further reflections from his column of today:
Darwin was an honest, capable, plodding man. Alas, of his great hypothesis of "the origin of species, by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life," it must be said that what was true in it was not original, and what was original was not true.

The basic notion of evolution -- that all living creatures are related, and that man himself descends from the primordial slime as the product of purely material forces -- is an ancient one, going back at least to Anaximander in the 6th century B.C. Likewise, the notion that creatures may be altered by selective breeding goes back as long as humans have bred animals.

Darwin's contribution was the mechanism of natural (and later, sexual) selection. This mechanism was simultaneously proposed by Alfred Russel Wallace, a true genius who made many other signal observations and discoveries; but Darwin alone became obsessed with this one, and insisted that it could carry us beyond adaptation within a species, across natural barriers to the creation of entirely new forms, over eons of time. Wallace was not so sure, and to this day, Darwin's notion exists merely as a surmise. It has never been proven.

Which is its great strength. For what cannot be proven can never be disproven, either. The Darwinian account is merely belied by the fossil record, which has provided none of the inter-species "missing links" that Darwin anticipated, and which instead yields only sudden radical changes.
I would add that when Darwinists claim that their theory is overwhelmingly confirmed, what they mean is that it must be true - because otherwise atheist materialism (or liberal Christianity?) would not be true. Can't help that, I am afraid.

I also suspect that they would dump it in a minute if they could think of an alternative satisfactory to atheist materialism or liberal Christianity.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Service announcement: Twitter account for the Post-Darwinist

I now have a Twitter account, so if you want to be notified when I have posted a number of stories here at the Post-D, you can sign up to follow me at, though you will need to acquire an account yourself.

(Note: If you are looking for Mark Steyn's testimony on the Ontario Human Rights Commission, go here.)
Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

Polls: Slight majority of Britons are okay with intelligent design

According to the Daily Telegraph (06 February 2009), "Poll reveals public doubts over Charles Darwin's theory of evolution: Belief in creationism is widespread in Britain, according to a new survey."

(Note: If you are looking for Mark Steyn's testimony on the Ontario Human Rights Commission, go here.)
A curious tic of legacy mainstream media is the need to present as breathlessly new findings stuff that anyone could have told them years ago.

In By Design or by Chance? (2004) , I noted this very thing (in the Notes),
See, for example, Mary Wakefield, “The mystery of the missing links” in the Spectator (October 25, 2003). Wakefield was dismayed by the fact that a well-educated friend questioned Darwinism, but when she went home to discuss the subject with her three flatmates, she discovered that they all questioned it, too. Wakefield believes that the Discovery Institute (see pp. 221–25) is to blame for this situation, but that is implausible. One little institute could not do that much damage to a major worldview all by itself. This book has attempted to provide a detailed roadmap to the changes in public perception that have resulted in her flatmates’ surprising views. (p. 322)
and nothing has changed.

Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent, writes,
More than half of the public believe that the theory of evolution cannot explain the full complexity of life on Earth, and a "designer" must have lent a hand, the findings suggest.

[ ... ]

In the survey, 51 per cent of those questioned agreed with the statement that "evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages"

[ ... ]

The suggestion that a designer's input is needed reflects the "intelligent design" theory, promoted by American creationists as an alternative to Darwinian evolution.
Of course, the question is badly written, and the latter statement is false.

Design is not intervention; it is a pattern created by intelligence. Whether, when, and how an intelligence must intervene is a separate question.

Meanwhile, Richard Dawkins announces that the reason for the high "design" figure is that "much of the population is 'pig-ignorant' about science." You wouldn't think so, to judge from British science achievements. My guess is that Dawkins is one of the reasons so many Britons doubt Darwin.

The research was sponsored by Theos, a group promoting Darwinian evolution as compatible with Christian teachings. (Of course it isn't - Darwinism is actually one of the few types of evolution that is not consistent with Christian teachings. The whole point of it is that there is no evident design or purpose in the universe - natural selection is supposed to be a mechanism that turns chemicals into molecules and mud into mind, or even births universes. On that point, Dawkins is right and Theos is wrong.)

Neurosurgeon Mike Egnor comments,
51% of the British population is a substantially higher portion of the population than the portion who are seriously religious. If my memory serves me, only 10-20 % of Brits attend church each week. This means that Darwinism is doubted by may people who aren't even seriously religious, in the traditional sense.

You don't need to be devout to see the obvious evidence for design in nature.
No, but you do have to observe carefully and think clearly, something many "faith and science" bores don't bother with.

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

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy

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Teaching evolution: A note from The Cranky Professor

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

(Note: If you are looking for Mark Steyn's testimony on the Ontario Human Rights Commission, go here.)

Philosophy prof Mark Mercer, aka The Cranky Professor, tells me that he published a piece in The Journal, the student newspaper at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax (Vol. 74, Issue 17, February 4, 2009), in which he notes,
What we want from biology class is that pupils gain a sound understanding of evolution by natural and sexual selection. We want them to understand how selective pressures cause traits to spread or fail to spread throughout a population of organisms and how these pressures can give rise to new species. That is, we want that they acquire the ability to encounter the natural world in the ways a contemporary biologist does.

What we ought not to want is that pupils believe that in fact species do evolve by means of natural and sexual selection. We ought to be completely indifferent as to whether they accept the theory as true. All we want, that is, is that they understand the theory and can apply it correctly to biological phenomena.
He compares it to a course in world religions
It is no part of such a class that pupils come to believe the core doctrines of the religions they study, or that they come to hold any religious beliefs at all. The class does what it should when pupils come to understand the various religions they study, and to understand the various psychological, sociological, or anthropological theories of them their teacher presents. To ask them to believe anything is to try to indoctrinate them into, or out of, religion. Likewise, to ask pupils in a biology class to believe anything they are taught is to indoctrinate them into science.
It's an interesting comparison, but I am not sure I buy it. For one thing, science is supposed to be matters of fact, not opinion.

And time and time again, when Darwinian theories are tested, they flunk. As I wrote recently,
The history of life has not been the long, slow "survival of the fittest" transition that classical evolution theory requires. Life got started on Earth the planet cooled. All the basic divisions of animal life took shape rather suddenly in the Cambrian seas, about 550 million years ago. Later, there was, for example, the "Big Bang" of flowers and the Big Bang of birds, where many life forms appear quite suddenly.
Darwinism is not overwhelmingly demonstrated. It is underwhelmingly demonstrated but overwhelmingly believed.

It is overwhelmingly believed (and taught), not because of evidence - the evidence is against it, and that fact has been known for a very long time. Steve Gould called it the "trade secret of paleontology". But Darwinism is the only doctrine of evolution that supports materialist atheism, which is the actual religion of the Western elite today. Most of what is in textbooks now - like the examples above - is indoctrination.

One reason for the intelligent design controversy is that teachers are forbidden to supplement the indoctrination with any evidence against the dogma propounded.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy

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