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Monday, May 04, 2009

Science and media: Another journalist weighs in

In "The Secular Inquisition", Melanie Phillips writes (Spectator, May 4, 2009),
I am an agnostic if traditionally-minded Jew; not a scientist, not a philosopher, not a subscriber to any kind of -ology but a mere journalist who has always gone wherever the evidence has led and, trying not to make too many mistakes, has formed her conclusions and her opinions from that process.

I hold no particular brief for ID, but am intrigued by the ideas it raises and want it to be given a fair crack of the whip to see where the argument will lead. What I have also seen, however, is an attempt to shut down that argument by distorting and misrepresenting ID and defaming and intimidating its proponents.
Well, yes, of course. But if makes perfect sense to me, because I have been covering this controversy extensively for about seven years now.

I can explain it really simply: Darwinism - i.e., natural selection acting on random mutation is able to create intricate life forms - is the creation story of atheism. It is therefore an essential ingredient in a new secular establishment's idea of how to organize the world.

Two problems:

(1) It is obviously not true.

(2) The public doesn't believe it. (See (1) above.)

So what now for the secular establishment? Quick, easy, tax-funded fix: Launch a big public relations campaign against anyone who says Darwinism is not true - and spend a chunk of the education budget shilling for Darwin.

Admirably, in my view, Phillips comes to the defense of the much-maligned Michael Behe, author of Edge of Evolution, one of the few rational treatments I have ever seen of the issues around what Darwinian evolution can and can't do:
If there was an intellectual begetter of this movement, it was surely the biochemist Professor Michael Behe, whose book Darwin's Black Box in 1996 expounded the theory of irreducible complexity. He is not a Creationist. Other exponents such as Phillip Johnson explicitly renounce Creationism. As he explained in his book Wedge of Truth in 2000, he wanted to make use of the scientific and philosophical idea of ID to split science from the materialist fundamentalism that had driven it to make hubristic claims to knowledge which it could not reasonably support. Far from denying science, he wanted to restore it to what he believed to be the realm of reason and observable evidence – and thus make space once again for religion.
Darwin's Black Box is a good read too, by the way, and so is Wedge of Truth.

The main thing to see here is that Darwinists have nothing better to launch than persecutions because they do not have the goods.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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