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Darwin’s enforcers are becoming bad people to know

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credit Laszlo Bencze

Recently, kairosfocus posted some thoughts on quoting materialists saying what they actually think when they talk to each other or what they assume are sympathetic audiences (“quote mining”), a practice they very much dislike. After all, when kairosfocus quotes them to people for whose ears the frank admissions were not intended, he is necessarily quoting them “out of context.” That the materialists mean it and that the rest of us might be best off to know that they mean it is beside the point, of course.

He has also asked why the Darwin vs. design debate has become so poisonous and polarized. A critical factor is the easy money tied up in Darwinism – well-paid lecture room mediocrities fronting unsubstantiated ideas to a captive audience until retirement.

Darwinists may not think they’re well-paid but if viewpoint productivity mattered, they wouldn’t be paid at all. And does anyone think they will not pull out all the stops to keep things that way? At this point, they haven’t any alternative except real science, which is hard work.

The thing is, it’s all not working as well for the Darwinists as it used to. Consider the recent apology and award to mathematician Granville Sewell or the vindication of Frank Beckwith and Martin Gaskell. The enforcement fringe of the Darwin lobby that went after them are becoming bad people to know, if we go by outcome.

Not everyone gets that, of course. Mark Oppenheimer’s New York Times story on the Frank Beckwith case, “Debate over Intelligent Design Ensnares a Journal” implies in its very title that intelligent design sympathizers had, in effect, caused the journal’s problem, presumably by existing: In fact, they had had nothing whatever to do with the problem. Beckwith was not a design sympathizer and they had not lobbied the journal to do him justice. The Darwin lobby had exclusively caused its own problems by the intemperate, mistaken attack on him and the subsequent campaign to defend the attack. The only remarkable part of the story was that – and perhaps it eventually had to happen – they were disbelieved. Yes, that’s right. For once, tub-thumping and threats of boycotts did not work. The Darwin lobbyists had to deal with what they had actually said and done.

Some thoughts from 2005 on the big picture capture the scene just before these sorts of things started to happen quite well; note the monotonous repetition of “talking points” rather than specific information:

If you ask ID’s critics the reason for their opposition, they will tell you. Says the Dover teachers’ union president, Sandy Bowser, “Intelligent design is not science.” According to a caption in a Washington Post front page article, intelligent design is “not science.” ID opponent and professor of physics and astronomy Lawrence Krauss goes on to explain that ID shouldn’t be part of a curriculum because it’s “not science.” In a Wired magazine article that disparages ID, microbiologist Carl Woese contributes the point that intelligent design “is not science.” Robert Pennock, a professor of philosophy who has been an active critic of intelligent design, elaborates that ID doesn’t “fall within the purview of science.” The lawyer suing the Dover school board contends that ID is “not science at all.” The American Federation of Teachers adds helpfully that “intelligent design does not belong in the science classroom because it is not science.” The National Science Teachers Association sheds a further bit of light, offering the view that “intelligent design is not
science.”OK, I think we’re seeing a pattern now. It may be safe to venture that, according to its detractors, intelligent design is “not science.” So why bring in the federal courts? Why not simply expose the logical and scientific fallacies of ID — which must be glaring indeed — and let it collapse of its own weaknesses?

For one thing, that is exactly what the Darwinists have been unable to do. The arguments put forth by the ID theorists — hammering home the fundamental, longstanding, unresolved flaws in Darwinism, and demonstrating affirmatively that life exhibits evidence of design — have not been refuted. Counterarguments fly as fast in this debate as the arguments, and neither side can claim victory. It is precisely because intelligent design relies exclusively on scientific methods, evidence, and reasoning that the Darwinist establishment is going bonkers.

- Dan Peterson, “What’s the Big Deal About Intelligent Design?”, American Spectator (12/22/2005)

Denyse O’Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

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4 Responses to Darwin’s enforcers are becoming bad people to know

  1. Thanks, well worth thinking on.

  2. It’s like a defense attorney for a mob boss arguing that incriminating recordings from tapped phone lines should be stricken from the record because it is “quote mining” and “taken out of context”. After all, the criminals didn’t know that the police were listening! They would have chosen their words differently

  3. Recently, kairosfocus posted some thoughts on quoting materialists saying what they actually think when they talk to each other or what they assume are sympathetic audiences (“quote mining”), a practice they very much dislike.

    But, that’s not what is meant by ‘quote mining’ at all, of course. Quote mining is not just taking a quote out of context, it’s presenting the quote in such a way as to make the quoted person seem to say the exact opposite of what they clearly meant.

    Perhaps one of the best examples of ‘quote mining’ is the following quote mine from Origin of Species:

    To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.

    This quote, which is often found in the truncated form above, makes it seem like even Charles Darwin himself finds the evolution of complex organs like the eye ‘absurd in the highest degree.’ Yet, when we read the the sentence that immediately follows:

    Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real.

    …We see that what he was actually saying is that the evolution of the eye is quite plausible, given what we know about a few facts of nature.

    So quote mining isn’t simply taking something out of context, it’s taking something out of context as to completely distort or reverse the intended meaning of the author.

    Is there any question as to why such a dishonest tactic is ‘very much disliked?’

  4. JM:

    I cannot think of a case where this clip you gave has ever come up as you suggest at UD. I have never seen it elsewhere either from any serious person. Indeed, I have never seen it used in any serious argument, anywhere.

    And BTW, Darwin did not know about the massive amount of co-ordinated, digital, coded information that would have to be created and carried out in a closely integrated fashion for eyes to exist. His argument from sequence falls apart once that issue is put on the table. Observe how often objectors to design theory are missing in action on the challenge to account for the origin of FSCI from chance and necessity without intelligence, in a credible observable case.

    That issue is always being put on the table by design thinkers, and it is always being ducked, dodged, strawmannised or diverted from. We are getting a very strong impression that here is no answer, but here is a determination not to let the force of the matter speak for itself.

    Now, on the quote mining question that you so cleverly left sitting on the table as though it were a real problem.

    Why don’t you contrast say how I have cited and annotated Lewontin saying what he says with say how various fever swamp sites are trying to snip bits and pieces from what I have said out of context to paint a willfully false picture, the better to demonise and ridicule. (Not to mention to paint targets on my back and those of my family.)

    The pattern of poison-tongued, spitefully slanderous and obviously hateful village atheistical behaviour that has played out in the fever swamps especially in recent months leaves me disgusted, and it is rapidly driving me to the conclusion that Alcibiades has risen and stalks among us as a latterday vampire spreading his venom in those fever swamps.

    Plato’s warning in The Laws, Bk X was dead on correct.

    And, believe you me, more people than you think are taking due notice of the Saul Alinsky amorality and venom that are being put on such public display. (And, DK et al, kindly read on down from there to see the demonstration of his ideology that should be obvious from his tone and language, at least to someone like me who went to a marxist-dominated university.)

    First, as it is proof positive of a want of any sensible answer on the merits. But also, as a plain disqualification from any office of trust or responsibility.

    Do you seriously think that those who act like that or tolerate and excuse or enable such behaviour can safely be trusted with any more serious responsibilities, given how blatantly they abuse the little bit of power given them by web forums?

    It is time for grown ups to clean up some potty mouths; and the ghost of sis V from Grade IV is holding out a bar of soap for the job.

    GEM of TKI

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