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Friday, December 08, 2006

MORE Quick posts: Recent events in the intelligent design controversy

I have decided to give up apologizing for being absent a couple of days at a time. Basically, blogging is a volunteer activity. When I am not here, I am off making a living as a writer somewhere. Recently, for example, I have been researching the importance of zero as an integer on the number line. I'm glad to know that something in the universe besides my bank account usually corresponds to zero. Things are not as crazy as they seem.

■ The Britrags (British media) are outdoing themselves to report all sorts of irresponsible crap about the Brit ID group, . And, of course, the educrats, terrified by the prospect that materialism is not the default religion of - oops, did I say Britain? - of the EU, are abetting whatever nonsense blows through.

I have been meaning to blog on this, and here is my view:

- materialism is collapsing. The big project to explain everything in materialist terms is not working, and ever crazier theories ensue. Bureaucrats attempt to keep this fact from students, like it was a family scandal or something. Well, come to think of it ...

Mind cannot be reduced to matter and mathematics cannot be reduced to turnips. However, many turnips will be injured in the attempts ...and worse still, the integers will come out unscathed - talk about injustice!

- Vast numbers of Brit educrats, adminbots, and pols basically know that their duty is to front materialism to the public. Go here, here, and here for examples.

Actually, it wouldn't matter what the facts suggest. All these people merely know that science is nothing but applied materialism, and they are justified in collecting taxes from a non-materialist public to promote it as such. For their own good.

■ Today's Word of the Day from Merriam-Webster was “retronym”, which means a noun with a modifier (adjective) which references the original meaning of the noun. The example given is "rotary phone." You young ones may never have seen a rotary dial phone, but that’s how we used to do it in the Age of Analog. The dictionary records as the first evidence of use of the term the practice of then-president of National Public Radio, Frank Mankiewicz, of collecting what he calls "retronyms," identified by William Safire in a 1980 New York Times column. I wonder when Darwinism and other -isms will collect retronym adjectives like " twentieth-century natural selection" to describe some entirely improbable series of events in the history of life that are supposed to have been naturally selected.

■ Recently, there has been a bit of a puff about what life found on Mars would mean for old time religion. Well, what would it mean? Surely, that largely depends on what the life in question turns out to be?

Would you change your religion if sand dollars fossils were found on Mars?

You would? Oh give it a rest! You really wanted an excuse to change your religion to one that allows you to two-time your sweetie-hoo, but doesn't allow him/her to do the same thing. Hey, Aunt Denyse knows what you do when she's not around.

As C.S. Lewis pointed out over sixty years ago, religion is primarily concerned with the choices made by conscious beings with free will. We actually don't have anything to discuss until we find such beings that are not from this planet. And then we need to see how their history relates to ours.

A friend raises an interesting question, though: If life on Mars is a big religious question, should governments fund the search for an answer? Why? Apart from religion and philosophy, why does it matter if there are bacteria fossils on Mars? I don't mind paying for an answer to the question, but I am not sure how to justify it to fellow taxpayers who - understandably preoccupied with more pressing problems - do not really care.

Reality check: Life on Mars will likely turn out to be bacteria, possibly the result of contamination between Earth and Mars during the early period when the planets were less stable and bacteria were already on the scene, amazingly enough.

■ Recently, I was on a radio show with someone who insisted that many of the 600-plus scientists who signed the Discovery Institute's statement dissenting from Darwinism (not from evolution, mind, but from design-free Darwinism) were not "really" scientists, but engineers. As a matter of fact, degrees in systems engineering at the University of Waterloo are called degrees in "applied science." I will hardly be surprised to learn that that is true of many engineering degrees. Personally, I have been fascinated to see how many engineers have spoken up about the implausibility of design-free theories of evolution - but then engineering is the science of design.

■I keep hearing comments about the nutout in the Brit media about the prospect of intelligent design being taught in the school system. And this in a nation that has given us the soccer yob. I wish the Brit school system could persuade all yobs that the intelligent design of the universe guarantees that on their tenth offence against their fellow citizens, they will be eaten by intergalactic black holes. Look, I don't care what you tell them, as long as they believe it, tremble, and shove off.

■ And while we are here, legacy media, when covering the ID controversy, often assume when they see a headline such as "Important new evidence for Darwinian evolution: Canadian squirrels thrive in Washington DC" that some "important new evidence" has in fact been discovered, that evolution is taking place before our very eyes.

Well, it could be, of course. But in reality, the story is usually just some nonsense, no different from inflated or minimized war statistics - with the critical difference that media have largely SET ASIDE our customary skepticism. Journalists need to be challenged to claim skepticism back in this area. But I do not pretend that the process will be easy. The failure rate will be very high because so many need to believe Darwinism fr reasons unrelated to facts.
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.
Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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