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Monday, November 26, 2007

What I told the most recent batch of filmmakers shooting up the town....

Remember when the intelligent design controversy was dead, back in 2000, 2002, ... 2005, and all years in between? Well, as if Judgment Day and Expelled aren’t enough, yet another batch of filmmakers is doing a documentary in the intelligent design controversy. I somehow don’t think they are laying a ghost ...

No indeed, on Saturday I had to hoof downtown to an otherwise largely deserted building on the U of T campus where a TV crew wanted me to answer some questions for the camera. (Possibly it was one of those preliminary jobbies where they try to figure out if you would make good TV.)

I decided to put my thoughts on the following questions in writing beforehand, so I don’t do the Dawkins “long moment of silence thing” (= just freeze in front of the camera).

Anyway, here are the questions they wanted me to answer, and I have placed my answers below each:

1. What is the difference between ID (intelligent design) vs. YEC (young earth creation) theory?

[From Denyse: Well, (young earth) creationism means assuming that the stories in the Bible are not only true but literally true - like, God created the Earth in 144 hours.

Intelligent design isn't really about the age of the Earth; it's about the high level of information found in all life forms that could not possibly have got there the way Darwin believed it did.

For one thing, Darwin had no idea how high that level of information is, and always has been.

If Charles Darwin were alive today, I can assure you he would not be a Darwinist.

Today's Darwinism is the creation story of materialist atheism and, in some cases, of liberal religion. Tons of people feel righteous because they believe it and promote it and attack anyone who doubts it.

But there is actually no substance to it. It is wrong. It scuffs the evidence of the history of life, which shows that life started off very complex and very varied and slowly became somewhat more complex and less varied - just the opposite of what Darwin's theory predicted.

2. How the two camps view one another?

[From Denyse: Well, it's kind of a spectrum. Lots of people know Darwin's theory is wrong but they focus on different things and have different commitments. It's kind of like knowing that communism is wrong. Everyone who opposes it isn't the same as everyone else and doesn't have the same reasons or commitments.

Mike Behe, the author of Edge of Evolution, doesn't fight with the young earth creationists because there's no point. The creationists bug him when they attack the Big Bang theory of the formation of the universe, which is well attested, or deny that humans and apes share a common ancestor another thing for which there is good evidence. But they aren't trying to wreck his career, and the defenders of Darwin are. So he picks his fights. Why not?]

3. Why does the public tend to conflate ID with Creationism?

[From Denyse: A couple of reasons: Defenders of Darwin's theory have every reason to classify everyone who knows it can't possibly work as a kook, and they've been pretty good at that. Most media people haven't read much in the area and don't know what the problems are, so they go along with the kook theory, in general.

Otherwise, they'd have to do homework.

Also, it's pretty scary when you discover how much you have been told on good authority from science professionals is actually poorly founded and ideologically motivated. Many people probably think it wiser not to know. I only stumbled on the story myself, you know, and I've been running ever since.

Here's an example of what I mean: The vast majority of important evolutionary biologists are pure (no God) naturalists.

Am I supposed to believe that that doesn't colour their interpretation of evidence? I know bloody well that it does. But media focus on the fact that most of the ID guys are theists or pantheists and conveniently ignore the ideological commitments of the other side. ]

3. The role of religion in science - is there a place for it?

[From Denyse: No. Certainly not. Intelligent design theory is based on actual physical evidence. The history of life as we now know it does NOT support Darwin's theory and is better understood in information theory terms.

Here is what has happened: We are told that science studies only natural causes. IF that merely meant that science does not study miracles, which are segregated from nature by definition, I would have no problem with it.

But the expression does not typically mean that. It typically means that science is compelled to assume that high levels of information can be created through random movements of molecules. That is the fundamental article of the materialist creed, and it has never been demonstrated.

Because it has never been - and probably cannot be - demonstrated, the materialist demands that we assert it as an article of faith.

I don't want religion of any sort to be a part of science. If there is no good evidence for Darwinism (and there isn't), then it fails as a theory even if progressive people believe in it. ]

4. The politics of ID theory and education - is it a "liberal vs. conservative" battleground, or is it more complex than that?

[From Denyse: Well, yes and no. What the term "liberal" implies has changed an awful lot in my own lifetime. When I was a teen, a liberal opposed segregation and the Vietnam war. Today, increasingly, a liberal is someone who honestly believes that Bush knew about 9-11 beforehand - a point of view that I would consider presumptive evidence of being a crackpot. (Bush was never great and he retired on the job early during his second term - but he did NOT know about 9-11.)

Re education: Again, in my lifetime, the education system has moved from being the Protestant school system to being a secular materialist one. At least some of the battle is secular materialists attempting to preserve their gains - after all, everyone pays taxes to support a system that advances their view exclusively.

All that said, I don't think ID should be taught in schools because most students are challenged just to graduate with enough literacy and numeracy to satisfy an employer. BUT - on the other hand - no teacher should be prevented from civilly expressing an honest opinion that differs from that of the Darwinist establishment. Learning how to express dissent in a civil way is a part of education.]

Of course the interview didn’t go exactly scripted like this, but what ever does?

At the end, the interviewer asked me to add something, and I said that, so far as I can see, intelligent design of the universe would not be bad news for anyone except materialist atheists. Every other tradition will just claim that they invented the idea or that their prophets predicted or revealed it. That, of course, is the precise reason why so many of the anti-ID guys are materialist atheists.

I wonder how many of them went into it to disprove ID?

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