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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sketches from the Toronto ID conference 3

I'd left the conference early on Friday night. The house was packed out and the U organizer worried about the Fire Marshal's opinion of people sitting on the stair grades, so I ceded my seat.

(So much for "ID is dead ..." Not in Toronto, anyway.)

(Note: For Sketch 2, go here.)

Thus I missed the presentation by emeritus chemist Dr. David Humphreys, in support of the view that the molecules of life give evidence of purposeful design. I bet they do. I also missed the presentation by astronomer Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe.

When I got back early Saturday morning, there was a distinct buzz because Ross had "witnessed" during his presentation.

Wish now I had taken bets. Friends say he is at heart an evangelist and uses every opportunity he can and any science info he can get hold of to win converts to Christianity.

But in Toronto, witnessing is widely regarded as infra dig.

Well, it will give the local village atheists something to go on about. And on and on and on. But hey.

The Saturday morning lecture was more along the lines of what the organizer had expected. Dr. Robert Mann, chair of physics at the University of Waterloo, and also an affiliate member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics there, and chair of Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation (equivalent to American Scientific Affiliation), discussed "universal Darwinism." A discussion long overdue, in my view.

Universal Darwinism means just what it says. As Mann ably showed, according to universal Darwinism, Darwin's theory explains everything from the operations of the human mind (consciousness and free will are just an illusion and your thoughts are merely "memes" ) through morality (just a way to spread your selfish genes ) all the way to the creation of the entire universe via Darwinian evolution in black holes .

Evolution of species? Aw, that's just small potatoes. The fact that there is very little evidence of the evolution of species via any mechanism (because speciation is not often observed) doesn't really matter after all. The Darwinist, it turns out, has whales to fry, not sardines. There is no evidence for the whales, of course, but the Darwinist can always start yelling about "science" in general and create a whale of a disruption.

Significantly, not one Darwinist present at the meeting suggested that Mann was mistaken, that Darwinism in fact has limited aims.

If I could choose just one thing to get across to the people who want to know why there is an intelligent design controversy, it would be the very topic Mann introduced: The fact that the Darwinist - like the Fascist or the Communist - does NOT have limited aims.

The Darwinist wants natural selection acting on random mutations to explain absolutely everything in the universe, and if he can get hold of your kids in the school system, that's what he will try to do. And force you to pay for it. That is part of the reason why there is an intelligent design controversy.

(There are other reasons, but once people realize what the Darwinist is up to, that alone is a reliable generator of controversy, although many of the actual controversies are stupid and destructive.)

Mann castigated both sides in the Darwinism-ID debate. He castigated the Darwinists for thinking the ID guys stupid. He was weary of hearing that because, he said, whatever the ID guy are, they are not stupid. But he also said the ID guys need to do way more research to demonstrate their interesting ideas.

Mann pleaded for some sort of experimental test of Darwinism vs. ID. I suspect he had in mind the kind of test that decided in favor of the Big Bang over the Steady State universe, which I wrote about in By Design or by Chance?.

I asked Mann over lunch how he thought the ID guys could manage that. Like, if you are denied a PHD or tenure, or booted out of your job for investigating subjects that might generate an ID finding, does that make it easier or harder to do the research?

I got the feeling he has not heard the stuff I have. But a guy who does cosmology for a living probably doesn't hear the down 'n' dirty about what Darwinists do to keep hold of power and money when there is actually very little evidence to support their theory of speciation and none to support its inflation to the entire universe or the human mind.

But, of course, in principle Mann is right - sort of.

The ID guys do need to come up with things that grab people's attention. On the other hand, let's not be under any illusion whatever that, in the short term, that will protect them from Darwinists. Anything they do come up with, they will have difficulty publishing. And they will have difficulty getting or keeping degrees or tenure after they do it. A large number of the non-Darwinist scientists that the Discovery Institute has tallied are safely retired (no surprise there - a whole industry of retired and dead guys doubt Darwinism, safe from its thugs).

Maybe Discovery should provide a clause for scientists' wills saying, "Look, I never agreed with all that crap, but I had a family, you know, and a career. Too bad about the guys who said something while they were alive."

By the way, it was really interesting the way the Darwinists sneered at Mann, who is almost certainly light years ahead of most of them in intelligence, because he is a Christian. That was precisely the sort of thing they do to ID folk in general, a fact that he noted politely in his talk.

Essentially, I have learned that uncivilized and unjustified arrogance is the Darwinists' second key weakness. Their first key weakness is that they apparently do not have the goods.
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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