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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Still can't sleep?: A few brief notes to make wakefulness fun

Clearing out the inbox here,

- Herre's an interview with physicist Freeman Dyson, where Dyson says a number of bad things:
Yes, the western academic world is very much like Weimar Germany, finding itself in a situation of losing power and influence. Fortunately, the countries that matter now are China and India, and the Chinese and Indian experts do not share the mood of doom and gloom. It is amusing to see China and India take on today the role that America took in the nineteen-thirties, still believing in technology as the key to a better life for everyone.

Freeman is so bad that he actually doesn't hate or fear the intelligent design guys.

- I haven't said much about the big uproar, pro and con around an ID conference to be held at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, this weekend. This item written by a limited section of the professorate demanding that Darwin be affirmed on faith and this one by some ID guys wanting a discussion of ideas give you a general picture. I just hope no one arrives there to find the conference arbitrarily cancelled. Most universities nowadays must protect themselves strenuously from ideas, information, and evidence that challenge materialism, and they can't be too careful because there is so much of that out there. Religious universities must be more careful than most. I expect we will be hearing from many a dog-collar, reassuring us that "religion" is entirely compatible with a universe that shows no evidence of design. And incompatible with a universe that does show evidence of design. But least compatible with the idea of looking for evidence.

- A while back, I mentioned lecturer Nancy Bryson's troubles after she introduced students to biology-based criticisms of Darwinism, and here is a podcast of her account. I don't think she quite grasped that it doesn't matter if the critics have good evidence or not. Unguided Darwinian evolution is now held as an article of faith, and is at present among the most intransigent religions in the world.

- Here's an interesting item on the rise of eugenics in the United States. As I have said lots of times, the Darwinian component of eugenics was fundamentally incoherent because if you really believe that natural selection can create all the forms of life, why couldn't it take care of minor present problems like the alleged excess of Irish in Darwin's day?

- When Antony Flew converted from atheism to deism in 2004 because of the apparent design of the universe, it is interesting how hard some atheists worked to undermine the significance of that fact. Just as interesting is the way in which some alleged Christians in science need to undermine any suggestion that design is real. Go here, here, and here, for example. Why do I care? Well, I don't really, but institutionally supported treachery fascinates me. It explains so much. It would make a good novel really ... I mean, the general idea.

Finally, apologies to those whose comments were delayed in moderation - I was out of town. As you will see, I have just posted a whack of stuff below. Here are links so you do not have to scroll down so far:
Origin of life: Tangled skein continues to tangle

Intelligent design and popular culture: Psychiatrist tries analyzing ID folk en masse

Nancy Pearcey, author of Total Truth, offers some insight into why Darwin's theory was controversial and how long it took most evangelicals to actually "get it":
The tragedy is not just that evangelicals failed to meet the challenge: For the most part they did not even recognize it. As good Baconians, evangelicals denied the role of philosophical assumptions in science - and thus they were powerless to critique and counter the new assumptions when they appeared on the intellectual horizon. A great many of them simply took the facts that Darwin presented and inserted them into the older philosophy of nature as an open system - not realizing, apparently, that the older philosophy was precisely what was under attack.

Great news! ID theorist Mike Behe's new book, The Edge of Evolution, following up on Darwin's Black Box, has already attracted a profoundly negative review - and it is not even published yet.

Re the recent accusations that the ID guys are in denial: Here's a link to an interesting column on the origin of "denial" as an alleged problem in the wilds of therapy talk. You'd think sci guys would want to steer clear of that goop, but hey.
If you want to understand why the intelligent design controversy cannot go away, read By Design or by Chance?.


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