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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Stephen Jay Gould: A tragedy of failed convictions?

Here's Michael Flannery on Stephen Jay Gould's attempt to diss Alfred Russel Wallace, Darwin's co-discoverer of natural selection.

There was a lot of such dissing as far back as the 1860s, when it first became clear that Wallace was not a materialist atheist. As Flannery recounts, Gould joined in, in this case.

Gould was an interesting character because, while gifted, he never seems to have had the courage of his convictions. Apparently, he didn't believe Darwinism was true; he made that clear early in his career. Trouble was, as Alvin Plantinga has pointed out, if you are a materialist atheist, that really is the only game in town. It is the only game even if it doesn't make any sense and its failure is the "trade secret of paleontology."

Gould also tried to diminish the reputation of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, claiming quirkily that he had co-operated in the Piltdown Man fraud. Now, Some of us think that there is lots wrong with Teilhard's theology, but it seems unlikely to me - and to many - that he would have participated knowingly in such an obvious fraud.

The reality is that Darwinism has been a shambles for so long that a fraud that could have been detected by a high school student went undetected for decades - because Darwinists and other materialist atheists need to believe in it so badly.

Medieval hawkers of relics* - I am so glad you are at rest, wherever you are, for your own sake. You would otherwise be sick with envy at today's gullibility. It's quite true, as a European king once quipped, that there was enough wood from the True Cross floating around Europe at one time to float a navy - but no one saw all the wood together at one time. One can't say the same for the Piltdown fake.

* For the record, there can be true relics. The key question is what authenticators call "provenance." It's the same principle as the title to your house, if you own one. You want to trace it back to when the house was built, and make sure the title was in every case transferred legally. In the same way, we would not be surprised if a women's religious order carefully kept the habit of a nun who was later declared a saint (and the order had in fact been lobbying the Vatican for that very outcome for decades, starting shortly after her death). But if the supposed habit just shows up all of a sudden all by itself on E-bay...


Podcasts in the intelligent design controversy

1. On this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin examines a new peer-reviewed paper that demolishes a very common and very fallacious objection to intelligent design. That objection? “Aren’t there vast eons of time for evolution?”

Go here to listen.

For more information on this and other peer-reviewed papers relating to intelligent design, visit Evolution News & Views at
[My comment: I would have thought that lottery scandals had long ago demolished the idea that just anything can happen in a given space of time - apart from design. Oh, wait! If you believe otherwise, shouldn't you continue to buy government-sponsored lottery tickets, no matter what? I would not recommend that any skeptic cdo it, but othesPlease do. I would not recommend that anyone else do it, of course, but others are entitled to their opinions ... .]

Biomimetics and the Positive Implications for Intelligent Design
Click here to listen.

On this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin looks at Biomimetics, a new movement in science that adapts designs from nature to solve problems in engineering, materials science, medicine, and other fields. While engineers and other researchers turn to nature for guidance and inspiration in producing human technology, the positive implications for intelligent design grow. Should scientists consider the possibility that biological systems, which outperform human technology, were intelligently designed? Listen in and find out.

For more information on Biomimetics, check out Biologic Institute's blog here.

For the National Geographic article Luskin cites, click here.
[My comment: Darwinism is dead, so far as I can see, but there are two practical problems: 1) How to deal with all the Darwinist tax burdens and the legal cases that they front, and 2) how to proceed. The former is purely a political and legal problem, the latter not so much. ]


Intellectual freedom in Canada: Recent news continues to show slow but real progress

First, I am embarrassed to be a citizen of a country where I must pay taxes to support government-funded snoops, sneaks, and snitches*, but we continue our quest to get a grip on this problem.

Here's Dean Jobb of the Winnipeg Free Press on "The Right to Be Wrong" (2010 01 02)
The defence of "responsible communication on matters of public interest" means the media may not have to prove every fact or allegation it reports. Truth remains a defence to libel, of course, and it's not asking too much of journalists to get their facts straight.

But the new defence holds journalists to the legal standard expected of other professions.

If a bridge collapses, it may not be the fault of the engineer who designed it. The question is whether the steps taken to build the bridge were reasonable and in keeping with the best practices of the profession.

So instead of expecting journalists to be perfect and to get everything right, the defence essentially gives them the right to be wrong. And if an error is found to have sullied someone's reputation, a libel claim may be defeated. The focus becomes what was done to research the story and whether the journalist made every effort to be accurate and fair.
To me, it is not so much a right to be wrong, as the headline suggests, but a right to a fair judgement of the salient facts, the ones that really matter. For example, suppose a politician's summer place on an exclusive lake was bought for her by the government. The fact that the government paid for it is far more important than whether the government paid $350 thousand or $450 thousand.

Taxpayers who struggle with their own mortgages bought it for her, and they are entitled to know that their money was used in that way. The sum can be worked out later. No one should be allowed to interfere with a journalist's right to report the basic story by threatening frivolous lawsuits over details.

Hat tip Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee

Carter also mentions that a huge chain of Canadian newspapers has been granted bankruptcy protection. So far as I can see, other papers are chortling - with understandably subdued glee. The shape of media today is drastically changing. It's unclear whether or not printer's ink will be a part of it.

And the biggest question is whether political interests will move in to try to get control of the news.

* In case you wondered: Yes indeed. Some might in fact use the corrupt system to hide real Nazi beliefs, claiming that they only "pretend" to hold such beliefs. How on earth would you or I know? That is one reason why regular police operations aim at caution in how information is sourced.

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Why anyone takes evolutionary biology seriously after this, I will never know ...

I mean this: A complete inability to predict anything, using current assumptions.

I am not saying it's not worthwhile. Mental health studies may be worthwhile too, even if you can't predict when someone goes postal ....

It's another thing for people to use laws to force this stuff on the school system.

Remember, the One Big Rule is: There is no design in nature.

Design in nature: Precisely what most people believe and most evolutionary biology tax burdens* deny.

*tax burden - a legacy from the days when being a professor meant that a guy knew something, so people helped pay his salary through their taxes. It is becoming less and less obvious that this is a good proposition.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


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