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Dinesh D’Souza as an example of why so many Christian intellectuals accept evolution

With my new book THE END OF CHRISTIANITY coming out shortly and with the publisher positioning it as a counterblast to the neo-atheist literature, I’m boning up on that literature as well as on the responses to it. Dinesh D’Souza’s response has much to commend it, but he drops the ball on evolution. Not only is his scholarship sloppy on this point (for instance, he fails to distinguish the younger C. S. Lewis, who largely had no problem with evolution, from the later C. S. Lewis, who did), but he justifies taking the side of evolution on the basis of an argumentum ad populum:

I am not a biologist, but what impresses me is that virtually every biologist in the world accepts the theory of evolution. While the debate goes on, it seems improbable that the small group fo intelligent design advocates is right and the entire community of biologists is wrong. Consider what two leading Christian biologists say about evolution. Kenneth Miller writes, “Evolution is as much a fact as anyting we know in science,” and Theodosius Dobzhansky famously said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

Unfortunately, much of the Christian intellectual world (from Christianity Today to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities) is willing to sign off on evolution for just such reasons. It’s why we need to keep focusing on winning the younger generation.

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62 Responses to Dinesh D’Souza as an example of why so many Christian intellectuals accept evolution

  1. William Dembski,

    I agree that ‘argumentum ad populum’ leaves a lot to be desired. On the other hand, wouldn’t you endorse D’Souza’s basic claim that evolution is compatible with Christianity? I recall you recently made a post where you argued that Intelligent Design itself is completely compatible with the truth of evolution.

    Now, I know there’s a difference between Darwinism and evolution, and those differences are important. (Indeed, I think D’souza would possibly agree with such a distinction.) But I have to ask, just what are you trying to win the younger generation to? Intelligent Design? Being against evolution? Both? Are they different things?

    I have tremendous sympathy for the ID project. But this sort of thing worries me, since sometimes I hear ID proponents insisting that ID and evolution are compatible. Other times, like this one, it seems like ID and evolution aren’t compatible.

  2. nullasalus: Good questions. D’Souza would distinguish evolution from Darwinism, the former for him being a scientific theory, the latter an ideology. The problem is that evolution, even in the former sense, makes natural selection and naturalistic mechanisms like it, the basis for evolutionary change. Such mechanisms, and this is their big selling point, are supposed to render design undetectable (thereby obviating ID). Yes, if evolution is suitably construed, it can be compatible with ID (cf. “Life’s Conservation Law” on the publications page at http://www.evoinfo.org). But that’s not how it is commonly used and that’s not how Dinesh uses it — see my article “Unintelligent Evolution” here: http://www.designinference.com.....lution.htm. Earlier in his book Dinesh writes: “Darwin’s theory of evolution, far from undermining the evidence for supernatural design, actually strengthens it.” This is simply confused. I think his heart is in the right place, but the great selling point for theistic evolution is that you can accept evolutionary theory without theological fall-out. But if the theory is itself scientifically misconceived, as ID claims to have demonstrated, then theistic evolution is, as Denyse O’Leary notes, the solution to a problem that no longer exists.

  3. Indeed… And that “younger generation” uses iPods. So I hope there’ll be an audio version of TEOC.

  4. 4

    One problem (of many) with theistic evolution is that you have to construct a new theology to receive the evolution doctrine. For example, Ken Miller had to formulate some new and rather strange ‘quantum’ theology in order to admit his evolutionism. It seems pretty clear that his theology is a dramatic departure from the usual Thomism of the Catholic Church. Some people like the old theology. They don’t feel that scientists or evolutionists are in a position to demand that they re-work all their beliefs about man and God. Ken Miller says that Darwinism and Christianity are compatible. But, in the fine print he says that you have to accept his (erroneous) theology. I don’t like this kind of fine print. I think that if, for example, scientists concoct a theory that denies the existence of the human soul, then it is they who have a problem. They should go back to the drawing board and think of a better theory.

    The central problem to reconcile, for those who like to repeat the mantra that evolution and Christianity are compatible, is to resolve the following:

    Evolution says that man is an unintended byproduct of purely naturalistic processes. Christianity says that man is not. He is intended. Furthermore, according to Catholic dogma, man is both body and soul. You can’t have a human being without a soul. So a supernatural act of creation is necessary with each and every human being.

    Darwinism or evolution is understood to be non-teleological. Right there that is incompatible with theism.

  5. It is ironic that D’Souza cites the scientific consensus when that consensus is so grounded in an irrational 19th-century faith in physicalism. He should be alerted by the entirely faith-based assertion that natural selection accounts for all of life, being so palpably an extreme and irrational view. If he would only compare the increasingly shrill tone of the establishment’s discourse on ID–dominated as it is by absurdities–with the kind of discourse the ID community is seeking to have I think he would be more cautious about advancing this argument.

    The marvellous trick the establishment has pulled off is to wrap up a non-scientific claim–an absurd faith-based metaphysical claim–with proper science, and then apply enough smoke and mirrors, bullying and bluster that everyone accepts it as that is the ‘scientific’ consensus.

    If you want to win folks over I think it would help if UD was more disciplined about some side issues that may well be dear to hearts of the folks here but I think somewhat narrows its appeal.

    BTW, I DON’T mean this kind of discussion–the theological implications of ID. The ID/fanatical-natural-selection debate is not a scientific debate, but a meta-science debate of how scientific research should be framed, and has been driven by metaphysical and quasi-religious issues. Again the discussion here, unlike in established science, strikes me as healthy and honest.

    I am intrigued by the End of Christianity with its up-front tackling of Theodicy. I know I perhaps should’t be, but I remain astonished at the number of people that cite this as a reason for reluctantly abandoning their Christian faith. I have written an article on my blog trying to explain how I think modern habits of thought (confusion, really) are not helping. But it is written as an outsider, a Buddhist who would very much like to see folks not lose their faith, and more widely a much better appreciation and understanding of the Christian roots of our culture. It probably won’t make much sense, nor will it until I get to engage with folks with a proper training in this. But it might be useful as an outside perspective and it is a start.

  6. senseorsensibility, outside perspectives always welcome. (Trolls not, but that needn’t detain us.)

    Christian Darwinists do not seem to understand the nature of the problem. Darwinism is a cult, the creation story of materialist atheism.

    There are very good reasons for doubting both Darwinism and materialist atheism, but they are elite establishment religions now.

    There is no way that Darwinism is – or was ever intended to be – compatible with serious Christianity, because serious Christians think that life is meaningfully designed, based on evidence, and Darwinists think it happened to evolve, based on evidence.

    So the Christian Darwinist is walking over the gap on a plank that doesn’t exist (= it is designed, but you can’t tell). And most CDs, when challenged, plump for Darwinism.

    They have a silent God and a loud Darwin.

    A bucket of cold water might help some of them to wake up, so best of luck to this and future similar books.

  7. 7

    Bill,
    With regard to the claim that “virtually every biologist in the world accepts the theory of evolution”: it may be instructive to note how broad the term “evolution” has become. It is so broad that Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson can say “Gaps among known orders, classes and phyla are systematic and almost always large. These peculiarities of the record pose one of the most important theoretical problems in the whole history of life: Is the sudden appearance of higher categories a phenomenon of evolution or of the record only?”

    It is so broad that Jean Rostand can write in “A Biologist’s View”, “I believe firmly in the evolution of organic nature,” and a few pages later, “Though we may know nothing of the actual variations which have made evolution…they must be supposed to be creative and not random…” and “A theory of evolution…must also account for organic adaptation, that is to say, for the harmony which is found in living structure. This harmony is admittedly not perfect but it is quite sufficient to suggest the idea of design or intention–of purpose, in fact.”

    If evolution is defined this broadly, to include the possibility that new phyla really appear suddenly, and to allow for the possibility of “creative” mutations, then not only most Christians, but even most ID proponents could be considered evolutionists, including myself.

  8. Generally, the word “evolution” is used here to mean the idea that the causes behind evolution are solely natural, “unthinking” forces, especially RM and NS.

    I see this as the null hypothesis, just as it is the null hypothesis in meteorology that natural forces alone are at work. As far as I know, there is still no fully-worked-out schematic of how thunderstorms form — specifically, of where the electric buildup comes from. (Even if there were, it would just be a story until someone worked out the movements of every molecule involved, and even then, it would just be a story.) Should this be taken as evidence of weather design?

  9. The link Bill Dembski provided above for the publications page at evoinfo.org should be http://evoinfo.org

  10. I am not a [scientist], but what impresses me is that virtually every [scientist] in the world accepts the theory of [materialism]. While the debate goes on, it seems improbable that the small group of [non-materialists] is right and the entire community of [scientists] is wrong.

    &lt/kettle-black>

    The near-entire community Biologists have never been wrong on an issue before, like when they were correct on vesitigiality of the appendix and various glands, vast stretches of junk-DNA in the human genome, the non-existence of homologous proteins, the simple/repetitive 3D structure of proteins, the exactly equal proportions of all four nucleotide bases in DNA…

  11. Atom:

    vesitigiality of the appendix and various glands

    To the best of my knowledge, no biologist ever proposed that no function would be found for the appendix. That the appendix has some function is no surprise, and makes it no less vestigial, any more than the “functions” of the human tailbone make it non-vestigial. (Regardless, plenty of people survive just fine without an appendix, and a few are even born without it.) A truly useless organ would in fact serve as evidence against natural selection, because organs are costly to produce and maintain.

    vast stretches of junk-DNA in the human genome

    It remains a confirmed fact that some DNA is noncoding, and that some of this is retroviral, and some of it is unnecessary duplications. ID continues to half-heartedly “predict” that all DNA everywhere has function, and zero “junk” exists. (I say “half-heartedly” because some would hold that junk is a result of genetic entropy or, in the case of Christian creationism, corruption from the Fall).

    Over time, the amount of DNA that is considered “junk” can only decrease, and as far as I know, no biologist has ever drawn a line in the sand and said that all DNA with currently unknown function will remain “junk” forevermore.

    the non-existence of homologous proteins, the simple/repetitive 3D structure of proteins, the exactly equal proportions of all four nucleotide bases in DNA…

    I’m curious about these ones, as I’d never heard of them before.

  12. I have almost every book written by D’Souza, and enjoy his writings much. He is exceptional at explaining in common terms.

    Having said that, he has two issues that I keep in mind when using him as a source:

    Logic is not his strong point, rhetoric is.

    Dinesh is a political animal, and has been known to hedge bets between what he says and what he thinks.

    In this case, his logic is clearly awful in the naked ad populum sense. To test-drive him:

    I am not an Iraqi, but what impresses me is that virtually every Iraqi in Iraq accepts the presidency of Saddam (99% of the vote!). It seems improbable that the small group against Saddam is right and the entire community of Iraqis is wrong.

    I am not an astronomer, but what impresses me is that virtually every astronomer in the world accepts the theory of geocentrism. It seems improbable that the small group for heliocentrism (Galileo and his few fringe friends) is right and the entire community of geocentrists is wrong.

    Reason One why I learn from Dinesh how to EXPLAIN things, and not how to DEBATE it.

  13. Dr. Sewell,

    [I]t may be instructive to note how broad the term “evolution” has become. It is so broad that Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson can say . . . . It is so broad that Jean Rostand can write . . . .

    Perhaps you should say could, rather than can. It is, after all, possible that neither Simpson nor Rostand are entirely current with evolutionary biology, each having been deceased for quite some time now.

  14. Lenoxus:

    A truly useless organ would in fact serve as evidence against natural selection, because organs are costly to produce and maintain.

    To quote Introduction to Evolution, Moody, p. 42, 1970:

    It is difficult to explain the presence of useless vestiges upon a basis of special creation without imputing to the Creator some lack of skill in planning or construction…

    In other words, useless vestiges are a powerful argument for evolution and a bat with which to beat on God himself, unless they are not found to be useless, in which case they are a powerful argument for evolution.

    A theory that proves everything…

  15. Dr. Dembski,

    [H]e justifies taking the side of evolution on the basis of an argumentum ad populum….

    The “populum” in argumentum ad populum refers to the masses, not to a community of experts. An argumentum ad populum is an appeal to a broad class of people. An appeal to the opinion of a narrow group of people, distinguished by their expert knowledge, is an argumentum ad verecundiam, or argument from authority.

    I have never been impressed by the soundness of D’Souza’s writing. Here, though, his argument is not a logical fallacy. He does not say that evolutionary biology is true because the majority of scientists accept it. He says, “what impresses me is that virtually every biologist in the world accepts the theory of evolution.” The unanimous consensus of experts on a topic is relevant to an assessment of fringe arguments against those experts. The consensus doesn’t make the consensus position, but D’Souza doesn’t claim otherwise.

  16. Dear Mr. Dembski,

    I was attracted to your site because of your comment about C. S. Lewis in this post. Having studied and written about Lewis fairly extensively (See my “Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C. S. Lewis”) it strikes me that your comments about Lewis’s view on evolution is mistaken. I can think of no place in which Lewis retracts his theistic evolutionary stance expressed in “The Problem of Pain”. Could you site a source for your contention that Lewis changed his view on evolution?

    Thanks,
    Will Vaus

  17. Theodosius Dobzhansky us to belong to the board of a very influencial eugenic lobby. If Danesh believe that this Darwinism is true because Dobzhansky say so, does it means that Danesh believe that eugenics is the way to go?

  18. I think the the definition of terms is what makes things difficult for many Christians.

    I consider myself an ID proponent, but I’m not hostile to Collins, Giberson, et al (even though they are hostile to ID). I want to listen to them and hear what they have to say.

    I read the criticisms of common descent, but also listen to the proponents.

    I’m not a scientists, not an expert in biology, so I have to at least somewhat listen to the experts — however, as a Christian, I don’t consider biologists the only authority. I also listen to philosophers and theologians. I don’t believe scientism is true.

    So where does that leave me? Honestly, I feel that much of the case for evolution is compelling. I’m not a YEC. I think the evidence for an old Earth and old universe is substantial. I’m not a concordist (sp?). I think people like Hugh Ross try to hard to read Genesis 1-3 (and the rest of the Bible) as a science book, though I respect Ross and his organization and their work very much. I think evidence does seem to point to some common ancestry (even though I remain doubtful of universal common ancestry) — such as a house cat and a lion sharing a common ancestor.

    Even among ID people, it seems that the only commonly held belief is that RM + NS is inefficient to produce all the biological complexity we see and that instead, there appears to be design. Behe, if I remember, accepts universal common ancestry, for instance.

    I tend to agree with the ID argument. In fact, I like the way William Lane Craig put it in his debate with Hitchens. That evolution is so improbable that one would have to call it a miracle — and that instead of it being evidence against God, is evidence for God! (He got a laugh and applause for that one).

    As a Christian, and one that identifies himself as evangelical, I’m ok with evolution theologically and Biblically because my own appeal to the experts (theologians and philosophers) has helped confirm that for me. So my problems with Darwinism is largely scientific.

  19. Dr. Dembski,

    Since there are two theories of evolution, maybe D’Souza does not understand that. One is obviously very well supported and the other has no support. My guess is that all these biologists who say they support the theory do not know this distinction.

    Tell him micro evolution is well supported and no one really contests it. Macro evolution, whether micro evolution over deep time, or by any other mechanism has no empirical basis. Maybe D’Souza should be made aware that it is this second part where the controversy is and the basis for the distinction is in the origin of information. If after that, he continues to accept macro evolution as naturalistic then there might not be much to change his mind in the short term.

    Most of the people who come here initially do not understand this distinction. So it is quite possible that he and most biologists are like most people in general who support Darwinian processes for all evolution and do not understand this distinction or appreciate the lack of support for any mechanism of macro evolution.

    To that end, we should continue to harp on that distinction here and anywhere we discuss evolution so that more and more understand the crux of the underlying debate.

  20. Theodosius Dobzhansky us to belong to the board of a very influencial eugenic lobby. If Danesh believe that this Darwinism is true because Dobzhansky say so, does it means that Danesh believe that eugenics is the way to go?

    No.

  21. Since there are two theories of evolution, maybe D’Souza does not understand that. One is obviously very well supported and the other has no support. My guess is that all these biologists who say they support the theory do not know this distinction.

    I think that you are correct that “all these biologists” reject the idea that “macro” evolution is unsupported, or even that it is fundamentally different from “micro” evolution. Having read the excerpt above, why would you think D’Souza be persuaded by one fringe idea to adopt another fringe idea? It sounds to me as if D’Souza is waiting for ID to persuade the scientific community before he, as an untrained observer, bothers to take it seriously. I think this is a relatively common approach that calls into question the prevailing ID strategy of ignoring the standard scientific process in favor of writing mass-market books.

  22. Darwin wrote a mass market book and look at the result. Dawkins writes mass market books and he got appointed to a prestigious Oxford position. This battle is fought with mass market books.

    I doubt the average biologist could cite any evidence for macro evolution. Why because there is no science to support macro evolution. They just assume it exists. And as we know here, there isn’t any. So I assume D’Souza assumes it exists and both he and all these biologist are ill informed.

  23. Its very frustrating that you use the word “evolution” in the title of this post rather than something like “darwinian evolution”. Isn’t it absolutely essential to communicate that ID isn’t against evolution per se, but neo-darwinian undirected evolution. I’m a big fan of this site and of Dr. Dembski, and I know the difference b/w directed and undirected evolution should be pretty clear for anyone who spends some time on UD, but mustn’t we be extremely clear on some of these semantic issues?

  24. Darwin wrote a mass market book and look at the result.

    Leaving aside the fairly obvious difficulty of comparing seventeenth and twenty-first century methods of scientific publication, modern evolutionary biology is based on quite a bit more than just Darwin’s writings.

    Dawkins writes mass market books and he got appointed to a prestigious Oxford position. This battle is fought with mass market books.

    An astute point. This battle, over the currency of ID, is fought with mass market books. There is another battle, fought with laboratories and original, empirical research. ID has retreated from that fight. D’Souza has observed how ID chooses its battles, and drawn an appropriate conclusion.

  25. Jerry,

    because there is no science to support macro evolution. They just assume it exists. And as we know here, there isn’t any.

    Not too long ago, I read on this same forum:

    Cornelius Hunter:

    The problem with evolution is not that a few scientists are toying with a far flung idea with substantial evidential problems. The problem is that evolution is a dogma. It is held with a conviction that can match any religious movement. The problem is not that evolutionists are wrong–it is that they know they are right.

    Looks like an appropriate boomerang to me, i.e. an argument that one should be vary of using, it has a tendency to find its way back.

    But all right then, you have tested all possible permutations and found them wanting. Duly noted.

  26. See, while I don’t currently accept universal common ancestry, I do think there is evidence to support it. DNA evidence and the fossil record are both evidence of macro evolution and common descent. Now, you may disagree with the conclusion drawn from this evidence, but to deny the evidence exists altogether is either ignorant or disingenuous.

  27. “Looks like an appropriate boomerang to me, i.e. an argument that one should be vary of using, it has a tendency to find its way back”

    Two things, I do not think you are reading Hunter correctly but then again I do not know what you think he is saying.

    Second, there is no evidence for a mechanism for macro evolution. So what could boomerang, the truth. But I am already using that. No one is afraid of the truth here or any argument about evolution.

  28. Ad Populum is an appeal based on quantity (majority opinion), therefore it fits Dinesh’s logical error. It does not matter whether those appealed to are experts.

    Ad Verecundiam is an appeal based on quality (authority). This applies as well to the Dinesh statement.

  29. Learned at 23:

    There is another battle, fought with laboratories and original, empirical research. ID has retreated from that fight.

    Yes, I’ve noticed how ID scientists have resigned and hidden themselves away in fear of being exposed as frauds. Certainly none of them are being forced to resign from laboratories, and they would of course be welcomed with open arms into any laboratory. Lame, sophist comment on your part, Learned.

    D’Souza has observed how ID chooses its battles, and drawn an appropriate conclusion.

    A sophist double-header on your part, Learned. Please quote the relevant portion of Dinesh’s comments that states anything like this.

  30. Spitfire,

    Re: argumentii, that is a sensible approach. I am persuaded that, if D’Souza’s statements were fallacious, they could be put in both categories. Because he isn’t arguing that scientists’ beliefs are true because they are scientists, however, I don’t see a fallacy.

    Certainly none of them are being forced to resign from laboratories, and they would of course be welcomed with open arms into any laboratory.

    To adopt your sarcastic mode, let me add that they are certainly being barred by armed guards from starting their own laboratories, and jack-booted federal troops would lock Dr. Dembski up if he attempted to empirically test his design-detection tools.

    To abandon that mode, I will add only that even I accepted the “Expelled” meme, which I do not, it is plainly true that IDists do not need to be part of the consensus to engage in the standard scientific process. ID tried to take the right steps by, inter alia, starting its own publications. What happened to that journal? When was the last publication? Was it shut down by external forces?

  31. Learned:

    Nonetheless Dinesh’s ad populum fallacy is there as I previously demonstrated, regardless of your perception.

    You also need to cite a statement by Dinesh that IDists are hiding from the battle, or retract your previous claim.

    It’s easy to talk about starting world-class laboratories when you have huge inflows of government funding (i.e., my tax money) for one side and not the other. Your comments about financial viability of any ID effort are irrelevant.

    Finally, sarcasm is an art. Don’t try it at home.

  32. Nonetheless Dinesh’s ad populum fallacy is there as I previously demonstrated, regardless of your perception.

    What did you demonstrate? I missed that. Please note that “I find X significant” is not a fallacy, no matter what X is.

    You also need to cite a statement by Dinesh that IDists are hiding from the battle, or retract your previous claim.

    I think you’re confusing a paraphrase of the excerpt with a quotation of the excerpt. D’Souza has observed that ID is utterly absent in the scientific arena, and drawn the appropriate conclusions. If you really want to belabor the point, I acknowledge that he certainly could believe that ID tried to compete with science and failed, rather than deciding not to attempt to compete at all.

    It’s easy to talk about starting world-class laboratories when you have huge inflows of government funding (i.e., my tax money) for one side and not the other. Your comments about financial viability of any ID effort are irrelevant.

    How much does it cost to publish a journal on the web? Did the ID journal fail for lack of funding? How much money would Dr. Dembski need to write an article applying his design detection tools in a blind test?

  33. Will Vaus,

    Lewis says the following in his essay “The Funeral of a Great Myth” from the collection “Christian Reflections”:

    [The Popular Myth of Evolution] appeals to the same innocent and permanent needs in us which welcome Jack the Giant-Killer. It gives us almost everything the imagination craves – irony, heroism, vastness, unity in multiplicity, and a tragic close. It appeals to every part of me except my reason. That is why those of us who feel that the Myth is already dead for us must not make the mistake of trying to ‘debunk’ it in the wrong way. We must not fancy that we are securing the modern world from something grim and dry, something that starves the soul. The contrary is the truth. It is our painful duty to wake the world from an enchantment. The real universe is probably in many respects less poetical, certainly less tidy and unified, than they had supposed. Man’s role in it is less than heroic. The danger that really hangs over him is perhaps entirely lacking in true tragic dignity. It is only in the last resort, and after all lesser poetries have been renounced and imagination sternly subjected to intellect, that we shall be able to offer them any compensation for what we intend to take away from them. That is why in the meantime we must treat the Myth with respect. It was all (on a certain level) nonsense: but a man would be a dull dog if he could not feel the thrill and charm of it. For my own part, though I believe it no longer, I shall always enjoy it as I enjoy other myths. I shall keep my Cave-Man where I keep Balder and Helen and the Argonauts: and there often re-visit him.

    We have gone over this topic several times at UD. There are two other references that have been made that I do not have. But one was an account of Lewis saying, “So we have a Darwinist in our midst” at a dinner party. The second I remember was a letter written in response to someone who had called evolution a great lie. Lewis affirmed this description of evolution not as a result of the letter writer’s arguments but more because of the way Darwinists argue. He even wrote that he “wished he were younger”. I take that to mean had he held these views when he were younger, he might have directed a larger portion of his life’s work against Darwinian evolution.

    Lewis, as you know, was greatly uncomfortable claiming to speak with authority in fields other than his own, so we don’t have much reference to what he really thought about the science of the day. It seems clear though that he at least had his doubts.

  34. Learned,

    Please note that “I find X significant” is not a fallacy, no matter what X is.

    I previously demonstrated that if Dinesh’s statement is true, it would strongly suggest that Galileo was wrong.

    True, “I find X significant.” cannot be fallacy. But that’s irrelevant, since you only provided half of Dinesh’s argument. That’s like saying “I exist –” is not a fallacy.

    Dinesh is clearly stating that he is persuaded by evolution because a significant percentage of scientists believe it. That’s a clear logical fallacy.

    D’Souza has observed that ID is utterly absent in the scientific arena, and drawn the appropriate conclusions.

    Again, if Dinesh’s conclusions are “appropriate” based on his arguments, then Galileo was wrong.

    How much does it cost to publish a journal on the web?

    Journals are where you go to write about something you did in your laboratory. Therefore, laboratory needed.

  35. Will Vaus: Read Gary Ferngren and Ron Numbers on the Lewis-Acworth correspondence:

    SOURCE: http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....7102/posts

    FROM ABSTRACT: “In his voluminous publications, C.S. Lewis infrequently addressed the subject of creation and evolution, and on such occasions he usually endorsed some version of theistic evolution. In a series of previously unpublished letters to his friend Captain Bernard Acworth, written between 1944 and 1960, Lewis explained at some length his views on the question of origins.These letters reveal that during the last years of his life Lewis grew increasingly uncomfortable with the claims being made for organic evolution. Here we present for the first time in their entirety the passages of Lewis’s letters to Acworth that deal with creation and evolution….”

  36. O’Leary: I agree with everything you say. When I said I was an outsider I meant only when commenting on Christian theology; other people’s belief/faith are in a sense precious and I think it is important to be mindful and always aim to help not hinder.

    Concerning UD, I am of course new and naturally an outsider, but maybe will fit in in time. I get the sense I don’t fit your usual profile, but if I have understood Bill right, you want a diverse mix, to reach out to a wide constituency.

    Did I get that right? The post-Darwinist idea is I think a stroke of genius. Could you envisage that flourishing in a post-culture war context? I don’t mean where one side destroys the other, I mean one where we all learn to trust reason again, religion is respected (though not beyond account) and neo-Darwinists give up their utterly doomed physicalist project and address with an open mind the proper place of natural selection and genetics in the development of living systems.

  37. I previously demonstrated that if Dinesh’s statement is true, it would strongly suggest that Galileo was wrong.

    One crucial distinction is that Galileo’s theories eventually prevailed among the scientific community. Before they did so, a layperson who lacked the expertise to assess Galileo’s claims firsthand would have been rational to have trusted the scientific community. That’s largely because the community shifts with the evidence, adopting the most effective explanations.

    Again, if Dinesh’s conclusions are “appropriate” based on his arguments, then Galileo was wrong.

    That’s overstating D’Souza’s position. If we extended his position backwards, he might have sided with the consensus against Galileo until Galileo’s theories became the dominant paradigm. It is rational for a layperson to side with the scientific consensus, if he lacks the interest or resources to educate himself to the point where he can make an educated determination on the issue. D’Souza would have been rational to have sided with the scientific community then as now, largely because the scientific community moves with the evidence. He would eventually have been on the side of Galileo, because Galileo eventually prevailed.

    Journals are where you go to write about something you did in your laboratory. Therefore, laboratory needed.

    Dr. Dembski doesn’t seem to think so. But let’s stipulate that ID needs laboratories. Where are they looking for money? Is the Discovery Institute funding research? Is BIOLA, or Dr. Dembski’s seminary? I’d need to see evidence that ID is trying to do research before I credit an explanation that outside forces are preventing them from doing so.

  38. I have made this point several times before and will make it again. There are tens of thousands of ID studies that have been done in evolutionary biology, are in the process of being done right now and will be scheduled in the future. They are just not identified as such. If they were, they might not get financing but I doubt it since both sides are interested in the results. Any study that maps a genome is an ID study.

    Why, because one of the basic claims of ID is that there is not enough probabilistic resources in the genomes and time for reproductive events to produce novel complex capabilities. Information to support or discredit this claim will show up in the genomes of the various species. So someone mapping the genomes of a family or an order of some collection of species will eventually be able to either support or disconfirm this prediction. So far no one has disconfirmed this prediction but we are only now entering into the era where such questions can be adequately answered.

    So a lot of ID type research is being done right now by those who are hostile to ID and they will eventually confirm the ID position or not and pro ID researchers will also have access to the data to validate their findings. If a person identifies himself on a ID validation project, then they will probably not get funding but it doesn’t matter because enough others will and ID can then use the data.

    This will either validate the Edge of Evolution or disprove it. This is what Behe said should be done and would be relevant ID research. So the scientific community will either prove or disprove ID in the next 20 years. They cannot avoid it.

  39. Learned,

    Distinction noted. But…

    – In the case of Galileo, most laypersons did not have ready access to any relevant information.

    – In the case of ID/evolution, we all have more than sufficient information, provided in a format for rapid consumption, to make well-informed decisions about the matter. So there’s no virtue to the ignorant layperson in this case.

    As stated before, Dinesh is a political animal. He has carefully hedged his future with phrases like “while the debate goes on” and “it seems.”

    As for the ID research, jerry is effectively carrying that argument above. I’m going to bed…

  40. Will Vaus,

    ——”I can think of no place in which Lewis retracts his theistic evolutionary stance expressed in “The Problem of Pain”. Could you site a source for your contention that Lewis changed his view on evolution?”

    He responds against biological evolution in the Bernard Acworth Letters, stating:

    “What inclines me now to think you may be right in regarding [evolution] as the central and radical lie in the whole web of falsehood that now governs our lives is not so much your arguments against it as the fanatical and twisted attitudes of its defenders.”

    And, Lewis said the following as recorded in A.N. Wilson’s biography “C.S. Lewis, A Biography” (p.210):

    “It was sometime in this period when, at a dinner party where the guests included Helen Gardner, the topic was raised as to whom one would like to meet in heaven. One guest suggested Shakespeare while another suggested the apostle Paul, but Lewis said that he would like to meet Adam. He gave as his reasons:

    Adam was, from the first, a man in knowledge as well as in stature. He alone of all men ‘had been in Eden, in the garden of God, he had walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire’. He was endowed, says Athanasius, with ‘a vision of God so far-reaching that he could contemplate the eternity of the Divine Essence and the coming operation of His Word’. He was ‘a heavenly being’ according to St. Ambrose, who breathed the aether and was accustomed to converse with God ‘face to face’.

    Helen Gardner, a church-goer with a deep interest in the seventeenth century English metaphysical poets, ventured to suggest that Adam, if he existed, would be a Neanderthal ape-like figure whose conversation would hardly be interesting.

    Apparently, Lewis responded in a gruff voice: ‘I see we have a Darwinian in our midst.’”

  41. Spitfire,

    You assume that laypeople are capable of making a determination on the question on their own. They might be; it depends on the layperson, and the time and effort they’re willing to devote to it. But D’Souza is apparently not willing to devote that much time or effort to a question deemed settled by the essentially unanimous consent of the most educated, most experienced, most qualified experts. It would be no more rational for him to dive into the question of ID than it would be for him to investigate alchemy, antigravity, perpetual motion or crystal healing, all of which are also rejected by the scientific community but championed by a fringe of dedicated advocates.

    Jerry’s argument is that ID doesn’t need to do research; it only needs to wait until scientists disprove their own theories. That isn’t a bad argument at all, but it hardly undermines D’Souza’s position. Regardless of what will eventually happen, it hasn’t happened yet. And until either it does, or ID makes a significant showing of scientific legitimacy, D’Souza is entitled to make the rational decision to trust the consensus of experts rather than the radical fringe.

  42. “Jerry’s argument is that ID doesn’t need to do research; it only needs to wait until scientists disprove their own theories. That isn’t a bad argument at all, but it hardly undermines D’Souza’s position.”

    ID would do the research if it could get the funding. If some ID friendly university applied to NIH for funding they would probably be turned down. The same study done at Michigan, Princeton or Duke would probably get funded. So people then make the argument that ID does no research.

    “D’Souza is entitled to make the rational decision to trust the consensus of experts rather than the radical fringe.”

    But the trusted consensus cannot answer certain basic questions which anyone including D’Souza would find suspicions. Apparently you do not. He is probably not aware that they cannot answer these basic questions. So the so called “radical fringe” is more in tune with the truth than the experts or else the experts would be able to answer these questions.

    You go on and on with the point of painting ID as kooks when it would seem more kookish that the so called experts cannot defend their position. I would think you would find this more fascinating. But you do not seem to think so. I wonder why.

  43. ID would do the research if it could get the funding. If some ID friendly university applied to NIH for funding they would probably be turned down. The same study done at Michigan, Princeton or Duke would probably get funded. So people then make the argument that ID does no research.

    There are other sources of funding. Much science is done without government assistance.

    But the trusted consensus cannot answer certain basic questions which anyone including D’Souza would find suspicions.

    Only the radical fringe thinks that, though. You’re suggesting that D’Souza should adopt a radical view, rejected by the community of experts, in order to be persuaded to disregard the collective opinion of the experts. A bit circular.

    You go on and on with the point of painting ID as kooks when it would seem more kookish that the so called experts cannot defend their position.

    As noted, it’s only the “kooks” who believe the experts cannot defend their position. D’Souza’s entire point is that he’s not going to trust the “kooks” over the experts. If ID is going to sway people like D’Souza, it needs to make progress among the experts.

  44. L H,

    As noted, it’s only the “kooks” who believe the experts cannot defend their position. D’Souza’s entire point is that he’s not going to trust the “kooks” over the experts. If ID is going to sway people like D’Souza, it needs to make progress among the experts.

    As noted, either the “experts” can or cannot defend their position. If they cannot, it doesn’t follow that those who ask them to are kooks. I think you are right in saying that Dinesh will not be swayed unless the experts tell him to be, which is a failing of Dinesh’s point of view. ID does sway folks who actually look into the matter, like Antony Flew, a well respected philosopher, contrary to those who just take their ques from “what a lot of folks are saying in a field at a given time.”

  45. “As noted, it’s only the “kooks” who believe the experts cannot defend their position.”

    If you believe that the experts are defending their position then I suggest you point to it or better yet explain it in your own words. Why has no one here defended their position except with irrelevancies. Is is not like we do not ask. I would think someone is kooky who says someone can defend their position but then cannot support that claim? Do you disagree?

    Is the only argument you have is to throw disparagements? You would not be any different from everyone else who came here before. When someone cannot defend their position they throw ad hominems. So your approach is nothing new.

  46. C H,

    As noted, either the “experts” can or cannot defend their position. If they cannot, it doesn’t follow that those who ask them to are kooks.

    Let’s abandon the pejorative “kooks,” and rephrase your point. The community of experts has come to an essentially unanimous conclusion regarding the existence of evolution. Those who argue that the conclusion is wrong are outliers. It’s not the question that makes them outliers, but the answer they reach.

    ID does sway folks who actually look into the matter, like Antony Flew…

    ID sways some folks who look into it. But not the people who have the most contact and experience with the evidence–biologists. The inability of ID to sway experts is a serious failing.

    jerry,

    If you believe that the experts are defending their position then I suggest you point to it or better yet explain it in your own words.

    You keep assuming that the opinions of laypersons are an adequate substitute for the work of experts. If a layperson could sum up the field of biology so easily, we wouldn’t need biologists, would we? If you want to know how biologists defend their positions, ask a biologist.

    I’m not a biologist; as with most other technical fields, like medicine, physics, and plumbing, I look to experts to resolve highly technical disputes. ID’s inability to sway even a material minority of experts in the field is fatal to its credibility. Maybe, as you say, that will change in time. But I don’t see any indication that things are moving in that direction.

  47. “If you want to know how biologists defend their positions, ask a biologist.”

    I have and they have punted. We have regular biologist and evolutionary biologists here and none would even step up to the plate. On a couple occasions they did and they struck out immediately so they then knew they better than to try again.

    What is the big mystery that they are keeping from us. And you just admitted you understand nothing and all you are doing is accepting the words of biologists. So I suggest you excuse yourself from any further discussion and let the rest of us who understand the essence of the debate comment without having to answer your ignorance which you just admitted.

  48. L H,

    I disagree that microbes to man, evolution writ large, is a “conclusion” at all. And that is the crux, because others, namely biologists, but not all of them, do. And if they cannot defend it, if their premises are weak and unsubstantiated, it is the nature of real science and real intellectual discourse to call that to attention. If this evolutionary framework is “the best that we’ve got right now”, well, that is always open to opinion by all reasonable people. And, of course, it is always the position of science to hold a theory provisionally, because it is always a logical possibility that another assumption explains more of the phenomena with even less assumptions. Defining consensus, which isn’t really a consensus, and then arguing, as Dinesh does, that there is no disagreement, and coming to a conclusion that the “consensus” must then be “true” is faulty.

  49. Learned Hand,

    Thanks for the continuing thread, you’re outnumbered at the moment and that can be exhausting in responding.

    You said:

    But D’Souza is apparently not willing to devote that much time or effort to a question deemed settled…

    That assumes that D’Souza hasn’t studied the subject. He is quite capable of hedging his bets on this topic in order to retain capital on other subjects.

    …deemed settled by the essentially unanimous consent of the most educated, most experienced, most qualified experts.

    Which is hardly true, especially when one considers the defections of such luminaries as Antony Flew, James Le Fanu, and a number of the now-ID proponents who forefronted at being “most educated, most experienced, more qualified” before they switched their thinking.

    True, you certainly have the bully pulpit on your side at the moment. But that can only last so long against compiled difficulties and predictive failures that are increasingly undermining Darwinism.

  50. Learned Hand,

    Thanks for the continuing thread, you’re outnumbered at the moment and that can be exhausting in responding.

    You said:

    But D’Souza is apparently not willing to devote that much time or effort to a question deemed settled…

    That assumes that D’Souza hasn’t studied the subject. He is quite capable of hedging his bets on this topic in order to retain capital on other subjects.

    …deemed settled by the essentially unanimous consent of the most educated, most experienced, most qualified experts.

    Which is hardly true, especially when one considers the defections of such luminaries as Antony Flew, James Le Fanu, and a number of the now-ID proponents who forefronted at being “most educated, most experienced, more qualified” before they switched their thinking.

    True, you certainly have the bully pulpit on your side at the moment. But that can only last so long against compiled difficulties and predictive failures that are increasingly undermining Darwinism.

  51. Bah, I hate lack of edit capabilities. Ignore previous post.

  52. 52

    Theodosius Dobzhansky us to belong to the board of a very influencial eugenic lobby.

    That’s right. He was on the board of directors of the American Eugenics Society. They changed their name to the “Society for the Study of Social Biology.” Apparently, Eugenie Scott is a member, according to Eugenics-Watch.

  53. Sorry for the late responses.

    Jerry,

    I have and they have punted. We have regular biologist and evolutionary biologists here and none would even step up to the plate.

    This is a blog. If you want to understand biology, the proper venue is a school.

    Clive,

    And, of course, it is always the position of science to hold a theory provisionally, because it is always a logical possibility that another assumption explains more of the phenomena with even less assumptions.

    Yes. Which is why it’s rational for a layperson to trust the scientific consensus—it adjusts itself over time to fit the evidence.

    Defining consensus, which isn’t really a consensus, and then arguing, as Dinesh does, that there is no disagreement, and coming to a conclusion that the “consensus” must then be “true” is faulty.

    You’re overstating D’Souza’s point. He argues, as I read the excerpt above, not that the consensus is necessarily and finally true, but that it’s not necessary to take radical fringe viewpoints seriously while they are universally rejected by the expert community. I assume that he believes, as I do, that if ID is actually true, it will eventually displace the existing paradigm, but that because it has failed to do so to date, the consensus position is more likely to be true.

    Spitfire,

    That assumes that D’Souza hasn’t studied the subject. He is quite capable of hedging his bets on this topic in order to retain capital on other subjects.

    I do assume that. To really dissect Dembski’s arguments, I think he’d need to be able to do the math himself. Assuming he can’t, he should look to an expert to break the problem down for him – the same as a patient does when he asks the doctor to recommend a course of treatment, or a homeowner does when he asks an electrician why the breakers keep tripping. It’s not rational to try to become an expert in every field, which is why people turn to outside experts.

    Which is hardly true, especially when one considers the defections of such luminaries as Antony Flew, James Le Fanu, and a number of the now-ID proponents who forefronted at being “most educated, most experienced, more qualified” before they switched their thinking.

    You named a philosopher and an MD, neither of whom would qualify as an “expert” (in my opinion) in any scientific field related to this debate. I will stipulate that there are such experts who are IDists and even young-earth creationists. I see Dembski as an expert, for example, and Behe. The “consensus” is not literally, entirely unanimous. But it is so close to unanimous, especially among biologists, that ID is on an extreme fringe, like astrologers are in the astronomy community. If ID’s core arguments were valid, I’d expect it to have advanced beyond that stage. (I don’t credit ID’s complaints about the shadowy conspiracy of expulsive biologists.)

    True, you certainly have the bully pulpit on your side at the moment. But that can only last so long against compiled difficulties and predictive failures that are increasingly undermining Darwinism.

    Yes, I will have to come to terms with ID if it ever does sway the expert community. I don’t always trust consensus in fields I can’t fully assess personally, but I always take it seriously enough that I would find it difficult to contest ID if it became the dominant paradigm. But people have been predicting the death of “Darwinism” since long before I was born. Let’s wait together and see if ID ever proves its case.

  54. The problem is that evolution, even in the former sense, makes natural selection and naturalistic mechanisms like it, the basis for evolutionary change.

    Well, that is the basis for evolutionary change. :-)

    Now does evolutionary change explain everything, well . . .

  55. Learned:

    You named a philosopher and an MD, neither of whom would qualify as an “expert” (in my opinion) in any scientific field related to this debate.

    I would agree if we were talking genome mapping, study of microbiological function, and other actual empirical science. We are not. Darwinism and the evolutionary theory attached to it is a philosophy which attempts to explain the hard facts, and forensically (not empirically) to prove it. Antony Flew fits.

    Until cross-class evolution is empirically documented, Darwinism cannot be an empiric science. Since not even cross-species evolution has been empirically documented (and I as an IDist have little problem with cross-species evolution), it cannot be empiric.

    Philosophy is good, forensic truth is valid, so I have little problem with Darwinism as a valid pursuit. But ID is proving far more valid in its ability to predict and to retain logical cohesion as empiric facts are provided — which are the two measurements of forensic science.

    Like astrologers are in the astronomy community.

    It is beneath you to continue to use a deliberately poor correlation. Astrologers and astronomers don’t debate the subject. A correct correlation would be between tectonics advocates and their subsider opponents, or between Galileo and the Aristotelean college.

    I don’t credit ID’s complaints about the shadowy conspiracy of expulsive biologists.

    Again, that’s beneath you. Any knowledge of science history demonstrates amply that nearly every scientific paradigm change comes with suppression — tectonics, heliocentrism, phlogistonists, etc. It’s the nature of man.

    But people have been predicting the death of “Darwinism” since long before I was born.

    You’ll be waiting a lot longer. Darwinism can never die. It has been around in other forms since the Greeks and before. As long as there are materialists, there will be Darwinism in one form or another.

  56. I note Mr. Hayden’s comments seeking to support the view that C. S. Lewis retracted his views on theistic evolution. I am aware of the Acworth-Lewis correspondence and have read it in full. What is interesting to note is the end result of that correspondence. Though Acworth sought to enlist Lewis in his cause against evolution Lewis refused to be drawn further into the debate. Furthermore, Lewis never revised “The Problem of Pain” as he revised “Miracles” after his debate with Elizabeth Anscombe.

    The supposed comments by Lewis about a historical Adam in A. N. Wilson’s biography are interesting. However, we do not have those comments in Lewis’s own hand. So I still think it is ill advised to try to enlist Lewis against theistic evolution when in his written comments on the subject he is clearly for it.

  57. —Learned Hand: “You keep assuming that the opinions of laypersons are an adequate substitute for the work of experts. If a layperson could sum up the field of biology so easily, we wouldn’t need biologists, would we? If you want to know how biologists defend their positions, ask a biologist.”

    Those who truly understand a subject can reduce it to its simplest essence and explain in such a way that a twelve year old could understand it. On the other hand, those who are bluffing hide behind the pretext that the whole thing is far too complex lay out in a few informal paragraphs. I too, have asked the biologists to present evidence for their claims, and they have no answers. This is an open forum. If they had the goods, they would produce them. For them, the name of the game is to scrutinize ID advocates while exempting themselves from being scrutinized. That is why they are always on offense and never on defense. Or haven’t you noticed?

    —-”This is a blog. If you want to understand biology, the proper venue is a school.”

    School is a good venue for Darwinists to oppress children who are powerless to raise intellectual objections. A blog is a good place for Darwinists to test their theories against those who can evaluate the merits of their arguments. Each time they are challenged, they respond much the same way you did, insisting that this isn’t the right time or the right place.

  58. School is a good venue for Darwinists to oppress children who are powerless to raise intellectual objections. A blog is a good place for Darwinists to test their theories against those who can evaluate the merits of their arguments

    Interesting. That’s the problem children are faced with; they are powerless against all kinds of indoctrination – in school or at home. Hitler exploited that fact, as do all totalitarian regimes.

    There’s a difference though. Science is not taught as absolute truth; it is made clear that nothing in science is proven. It is all theory, based on the best possible interpretation and explanation of the facts. And the facts are freely available to anyone to examine for themselves and make up their own mind about whether they want to believe that the theory is a faithful representation of the facts and our current understanding of nature.

    Whereas on the other hand, both with respect to ideologies and religions – they are poor on facts. Taking at random the Christian religion as an example, it is built entirely on the Bible, not on verifiable facts. It is all about allegations about events for which no tangible evidence exists. Even the alleged evidence turns out to be just allegations about evidence.

    I would like to learn more about the qualifications of those ‘who can evaluate the merits’ of science. In the end it is not about the merits of arguments; it is about the validity of the science. While it may be true that science extrapolate from the known to what it does not (yet) know, the fact remains that ID is only the extrapolation of alleged limitations to nature.

  59. “it’s rational for a layperson to trust the scientific consensus”

    “it is not about the merits of arguments”

    Amazing.

  60. Cabal:

    I think you need to look at the Trebino story to see yet another canary choking in the mines of science, to see that something is very wrong with the system, but the pit bosses are ignoring the dying birds in their haste to keep the pit working.

    As far as your dismissal on the foundations of the Judaeo-Christian view — that “Taking at random the Christian religion as an example, it is built entirely on the Bible, not on verifiable facts . . . ” — are concerned, this simply reflects that you have clearly not done your homework on the grounding facts, epistemological issues and arguments.

    (H’mm: only experts are qualified to speak on the warrant for science but anyone can object on the most cursory and one-sided grounds on matters of a religion foundational to our culture and that has had a world class intellectual tradition for 20 centuries. Do you think that men like Paul — originally a strident critic who actually used the power of the sword against Christianity — or Augustine or Anselm or Aquinas or Calvin or Wesley or an F F Bruce or a John Stott or a Gary Habermas or the like — picking at random almost — easily fit into the strawman you have just sketched? Remember, it is in significant part on exchanges with Habermas that the formerly no 1 philosophical atheist of our time has moved towards theism.)

    GEM of TKI

  61. —-Cabal: “Whereas on the other hand, both with respect to ideologies and religions – they are poor on facts. Taking at random the Christian religion as an example, it is built entirely on the Bible, not on verifiable facts. It is all about allegations about events for which no tangible evidence exists. Even the alleged evidence turns out to be just allegations about evidence.”

    Thank you for proving my point. When Darwinists are asked to produce evidence in support of their fantasies, they promptly change the subject, reframe the issue, and go on the attack. They are always on offense, never on defense—always scrutinizing, never being scrutinized.

  62. Stephen:

    The Trebino story shows the root-problem at work: basic loss of respect for truth and fairness to others, AKA incivility.

    It is not just on Darwinism, but across a lot of issues, whether labelled science, education, environment, “reproductive rights” (NOT right to life], etc etc. It crops up in the complaints over Wikipedia’s hit pieces in the name of “knowledge,” and it is in the textbooks, mass market books, monographs, journals, conference proceedings, lecture courses, museums, newspaper and magazine columns, TV Channels and web sites etc that are too often putting up misleading shadow-shows that are too often standing in for the truth.

    And, should someone protest, they will be lucky if it stops at distractions [changing the subject, reframing it rhetorically and manipulatively -- red herrings] led away to distortions [poisonous and personally destructive attacks based on ad hominem laced strawman caricatures] and demonisation or belittling based dismissals.

    Our intellectual culture is in trouble, and it is in trouble in ways that directly point to widespread avalanching breakdown of the quality of decision-making and of basic justice.

    We need to remember that one reason why Syria, the Levant and Egypt fell so easily to the Caliphs and their warriors in C7, was that the people there had for decades and even centuries felt that they were getting a raw deal from the powers that be in the Byzantine empire and had no hope within the system.

    I ask the ever so eager defenders of darwinism: what happens when large numbers of people begin to conclude that institutionalised, taxpayer-funded science in our day is irretrievably broken and on a priori agendas is locked into an inherently, inescapably amoral system of thought — evolutionary materialism — that enables abuses of all sorts?

    Could it come down to: “The helots are coming, the helots are coming!”

    GEM of TKI

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