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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Recent events in the intelligent design controversy - 7

Here's a classic in untra-classic Americana - activism against Darwinism et cetera by a Minnetonka (Minneapolis, Minnesota woman, check a map, find Toronto (the current centre of the universe), look waaaay west and then north). If only she knew what she thinks she knows.
■ Here's a wonderful Jewish reflection on what's wrong with modern Darwinism. An Oxford rabbi (no slouch he) visited the Galapagos islands (the international shrine of Darwinism) and noted the following:
Darwin looked around the Galapagos and focused not on the cute baby sea lions that frolicked on the volcanic rocks, but on the dry bones of the dead pups who had been abandoned by mothers with too many mouths to feed. He focused on the land iguanas that shriveled and died the cruel death of starvation because they did not have legs long enough to reach up and eat the Galapagos cactus, which had itself "evolved" into more of a tree so as not to be consumed.

as if that was the whole story. The rabbi also found, however,
But the next day I decided to go out and see the islands through a religious lens. I looked at the mother sea lions baking in the hot sun and refusing to budge because their pups were feeding from their milk. I saw the innocent and fluffy chicks of the Frigatebird, who sat on their open nests for a full year without moving, their parents scouring whole islands to feed them through the duration of the lengthy period in which they learned to fly. I saw blue-footed boobies so trusting of us - creatures 20 times their size - that they allowed us to get within five inches of them to take pictures. In short, I saw that nature can be selfless, trusting and heartwarming.

The Darwinist would insist that "selfish genes" explain it all, but of course they explain so little as not to really explain anything.
Here's the local Dover paper's comment on the discovery that Judge Jones, in the Dover, Pennnsylvania, anti-ID case, copied most of his ruling from the American Civil Liberties Union. One thing it shows is an amazing lack of understanding of the big picture. As if Judge Jones or the ACLU could tell us whether there is evidence of intelligent design in the universe or life forms, or whether we should proceed as if there is.
It turns out that the editorialist is one of those who would prevent creches, menorahs, or Eid displays in public places because it would amount to "the government" telling us what to do. Yeah right.

■ Here's a sneery New Scientist editorial you'd currently have to pay the read the rest of, trashing the new ID lab:
At the Biologic Institute near Seattle, researchers are conducting lab work they say will both strengthen the case for intelligent design (ID) and improve science (see "The God Lab").

How they hope to do this is not clear. The view of many scientists is similar to that of Leonard Krishtalka, director of the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas, who once called ID "creationism in a cheap tuxedo".

Yes, but, dearies, your fave scientists, who presumably wear expensive tuxedos (?), are not ID supporters. Some of us consider it significant that ID supporters have actually found a quiet place to work, no thanks to New Scientist types. The ID crowd may or may not be onto something, but whether they are or not, the NS types' attitudes will forever be infamous. Weren't they among the people fronting the utterly ridiculous God helmet?

Anyway, the editorial goes on to compare ID with big tobacco and oil - an oily puff piece for the Darwinists, I guess.

■ A recent report on the persecution of paleontologist (old bones specialist) Rick Sternberg, makes clear that there is "compelling evidence" that his "civil and constitutional rights" were violated. Sternberg had enraged Darwinists by permitting a non-Darwinian papear, which had been approved by other scientists, to be published in the Smithsonian journal that he edited. Personally, I use the Sternberg case as a kind of litmus test of personal decency. Those Darwinists who write to me with vicious rubbish against Sternberg, who seems to be an accomplished scientist, are simply helping to demonstrate the extent to which fear of the possibility of meaning and order in the universe animates the personal viciousness that has become characteristic of Darwinism. They needn't expect me to publish their slanders. Indeed, if the light should ever dawn on them (hey, miracles happen), they will be glad I did not.

Here is Discovery Institute's take on the subject. They think that
Congress should consider statutory language that would protect the free speech rights regarding evolution of scientists in the Smithsonian and other federally-funded institutions. Since the treatment of Dr. Sternberg came to light in early 2005, evidence has accumulated of widespread discrimination against other qualified scientists who dissent from Darwinian theory, making further violations by federal agencies likely. While the majority of scientists embrace Darwinian theory, it is important that neither federal funds nor federal power be used to punish or retaliate against otherwise qualified scientists merely because they dissent from the majority view.

Well, yes, certainly. Why not restore the capacity to think clearly? Non-thinkers do not wnat that and, in any event, thinkers will still have to work amid the noise created by the poodles who yap happily that Darwinism is a "natural selection" to answer all questions, the logical answer to all conundrums about origins, as well as a guide to ethics and economics. As if.

■ A friend wonders whether Gilbert S. Omenn, president of the American Association for the Advance of Science, in his presidential address, "has no shame." Mmmm. ... but then what he need shame for? When he says,
Science is about asking questions and finding credible ways to answer them. Scientists and engineers lay the foundation for practical applications of what is learned, and respond to needs in the broader society, as well as our own curiosity and passion for new knowledge. Economists have attributed more than half of the gains in gross national product and up to 85% of the gains in per capita income over the past several decades to advances in science and technology (1-3). Science works best in a culture that welcomes challenges to prevailing ideas and nurtures the potential of all of its people. Scientific ways of thinking and of re-evaluating one's views in light of new evidence help strengthen a democracy.

but then, among many other thoughts, he says, beginning an attack on intelligent design
The good news is that we are successfully turning the attacks on the teaching of evolution to our advantage, helping many more people, including scientists, to learn more about evolution and, more broadly, learning more about scientific ways of thinking. In 1984 and 1999, the NAS issued reports on Science and Creationism and in 1998 on Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science. An update will be issued in 2007. Evolution is the most important single concept in biology and is essential to understanding geology and astronomy.

and a whole bunch of other silliness. The fact is that "the most important single concept in biology" is not "evolution" (by which he means by "Darwinism") but the cell concept of life. For practical purposes, one might also throw in the germ theory of disease.

Darwinism will not typically help anyone understand geology, which is about non-life by definition (rocks) or astronomy either, unless they are committed to a highly speculative idea according to which new universes are birthed by Darwin-style natural selection in black holes or some such .
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.
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