Home » Intelligent Design » Preach it, brother! A regular shower of blessings from Saint Charles Darwin

Preach it, brother! A regular shower of blessings from Saint Charles Darwin

Hiram Caton,  the retired Aussie political science prof who enjoys sending up the currently raging Darwin cult, writes to say that he has now drunk deep from the “clear-thinking oasis” available at Richard Dawkins’s site.

And he sends back this message to the peoples who still sit in darkness and have not yet seen the great light:

I just completed my pilgrimage to the ‘clear-thinking oasis’, as the shrine is called, the RichardDawkins.net. An inspiring, edifying experience that filled my cup with a rosary of blessings.

Marvellous portraits of Mr. Dawkins etched him indelibly on my mind. And the fulsome library of DVDs: The Enemies of Reason, the Root of All Evil, the Four Horsemen, and the most recent, The Genius of Charles Darwin, which takes novitiates into the inner sanctum–Richard Dawkins’ splendid library.

He shows us his first edition copy of The Origin of Species and whispers that it’s ‘not just the most precious book in my library, but the most precious book in the library of our species’.

I suddenly realized that it’s the TRUE holy book and that my Darwin doubts exploit the shadows between Reason and the Root of Evil, Superstition. I cleansed my mind by accepting that it’s Either/Or: Dawkins and Reason or THEM. The reward was immediate sense of exalted freedom!!

In addition to DVDs, the site offers novitiates a variety of charms and amulets that express the conversion to clear-thinking: T-shirts, bumper stickers, coffee mugs which convey the message of Dawkins’ outreach, the ‘Out campaign’ (copied from the gay/lesbian outing).

The message is simple: Look at me, I am a proud ATHEIST. Lots of potential here, like ‘I’m a SELFISH GENE’, or, ‘ABOLISH the Archbishop’. And the Four Horsemen? What or who could they be? Why none other than the Four Evangels–Dawkins, Dennett, Chris Hutchins, and Sam Harris, chatting about the evils of religion and the blessings of clear-thinking.

But wait: which one is Pestilence? which is Famine? Death? The acolyte’s acquired clear thinking is left to figure it out.

The active atheists assure us that understanding their gospel is easy. Thus, in the Genius of Charles Darwin, Dawkins interacts with school kids, shows them fossils, and tells them that natural selection is a simple idea that they can understand. That should be enough, but they persist in their faith.

The Four Horsemen also take this view: if you just impartially consider the facts, and refuse to comply with social demands, why you are free! This is pretty much a repetition of modern rationalist conviction, although the French enlighteners realized that if you want mass conversion, propaganda and the guillotine are helps. But isn’t something missing? Why is religion historically so ancient, and so persistent even when glamour icons from Madonna to Hugh Hefner market emancipated selfhood with huge success? Might there be an evolutionary explanation of religion that links it with human sociability and the ‘struggle for existence’? Dawkins thinks not. Natural selection has given us the big brain capable of emancipating ourselves from our apelike past: we use contraceptives to thwart the drive to reproduce. Well, not all evolutionists agree. There is another point of view at his own Oxford University, where the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion is in the midst of an extensive, well-funded investigation of the evolutionary origins of religion.

Let me wind this up with a quotation from Thomas Huxley that expresses the epitome of the clear-thinking oasis. In an essay, the Influence on Morality of the Decline in Religious Belief, Huxley delivers his acid judgment: ‘Few social evils are of greater magnitude than uninstructed and unchastened religious fanaticism; no personal habit more surely degrades the conscience and the intellect than blind and unhesitating obedience to unlimited authority’. This was written in 1877, after France’s revolutionary turmoils created secular fanaticisms able to surpass the religious variety.

And, like I always say, keep those shards and fetters coming!

Also, just up at The Post-Darwinist:

Darwin’s odd musings on circumcision: Believe whatever you like … he certainly did!

Preach it, brother! A regular shower of blessings from Saint Charles Darwin

Intelligent design and popular culture: Design acknowledged - embarrassingly - in stone

Expelled movie’s intelligent design theorists only the tip of the iceberg?

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Political science profs nervous about coming here …

Big new fossil find in northern Canada

Aussie prof on Darwin’s fibs

 

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34 Responses to Preach it, brother! A regular shower of blessings from Saint Charles Darwin

  1. off topic

    http://creationsafaris.com/cre.....#20080826a

    A number of interesting articles there:
    1. “Human Skeletons Found in Sahara” – where you expect to find dinosaurs

    2. “Flatlife Has More Genes Than It Needs” – front-loading of placozoan

    3.”Neanderthals Win Toolmaking Olympics”-
    the myth that the Neanderthal Man is less evolved or subhuman

    http://www.newscientist.com/ch.....peman.html
    about man-ape hybridization experiment by Soviet Scientist inspired by Darwinism;

  2. http://creationsafaris.com/cre.....#20080826a
    “Early Art Confounds Evolutionists”

    Another interesting article. It tells us that: “The fundamental importance of Chauvet is to show that the capacity of Homo sapiens to engage in artistic expression did not go through a linear evolution over many thousands of years,” says cave art expert Gilles Tosello of the University of Toulouse (UT), France. “It was there from the beginning”

  3. Yes, thanks, Matthew. The point you raise about early art is critical because, as Mario and I have discussed in The Spiritual Brain, the evidence suggests that human consciousness developed quite suddenly and did not go through a long Darwinian selection from ape to brute to oaf to somewhat-less-of-an-oaf-but-not-yet-a … and so forth.

    That is part of the “hard problem” of consciousness, which is a hard problem in part because many workers are determined to find a solution that probably doesn’t exist.

    That is, if – as I think likely – Somewhat-Less-of-an-Oaf-but-Not-Yet-a never actually existed AND we may not seek any other solution, the problem should be relabelled the “impossible” problem of consciousness.

    But remember who made it impossible – the materialists themselves.

  4. Denyse O’Leary (3),

    If you are correct, and IMO you are, a partial parallel might be the “hard problem” of the absence of perpetual motion machines.

  5. They promise freedom from superstition but offer only slavery to materialism. Their choice “reason and logic or superstition” is a false dichotomy.

    Slightly off-topic, but did anyone else see this:

    http://www.alternet.org/rights.....nce_class/

  6. 6

    From Dawkins’ convert’s corner page

    I just wanted to tell you that I was at your book lecture in Philadelphia and thoroughly enjoyed it. I read your book and am now an officially recovered Catholic. It is nice to now that there are others out there who feel the same as I do. Science and Math will eventually provide us with all the answers we need.Thank you for speaking out.

  7. 7

    Scientism anyone?

  8. O’Leary, “the evidence suggests that human consciousness developed quite suddenly”

    As I asked on another thread, are animals “conscious”? How do we know?

  9. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday on another venue where the public can pay homage to Darwin. I believe it requires a subscription to read the article.

    “Smart Riposte to Intelligent Design”
    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....70965.html

    The multimedia show, “Surviving: The Body of Evidence,” is a shot across the bow of “intelligent design” thinking. A smartly presented argument that the human body is a functional, but far from perfect, product of natural selection, the show offers a trip through the evolutionary past, a précis of contemporary knowledge of human physiology, and a provocation to speculate about our future….”Surviving” is part of Philadelphia’s “Year of Evolution,” featuring an Academy of Natural Sciences exhibition on Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics; a Darwin exhibition at the American Philosophical Society Museum, and other exhibitions and events. (Details can be found at http://www.yearofevolution.org.) The commemoration marks both the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth on Feb. 12, 1809, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his classic, “On the Origin of Species.”

  10. Big Science’s outright rejection of the idea of perpetual motion machines is a conspiracy between them and Big Oil because they would all be out of jobs if a working perpetual motion machine was invented. That’s why you can’t even patent a perpetual motion machine anymore and any mention of some new and innovative perpetual motion machine is ridiculed and the designers are prevented from doing any research on them.

    It’s amazing how the Establishment is able to supress ideas just to protect their own dogma. They say perpetual motion machines are impossible and that it is a law of nature. They just don’t want to be proven wrong. I’ve seen perpetual motion machines promoted all over the internet. Thank Jesus that Big Science and Big Oil can’t censor the web! Though, if the democrats win, you never know what’s next. We might find ID and perpetual motion machines censored from the internet.

  11. That was just awful sock-puppetry, Dave1968. I’ve seen much, much better. Remember the rule: chances are, you’re not even half as clever as you think.

    It’s not a poor result that I’m critical of however, it’s the obvious lack of effort on your part. The site is accustomed to sock puppets of a much higher caliber, and you would do well to understudy before embarrassing yourself again.

  12. Whose account do you think I’m a sock puppet for?

    Do you know what a sock puppet is?

  13. Apollos, you give Dave1968 a whole lot too much credit. I think he actually believes in perpetual motion machines. He hasn’t been able to build one — yet. However, darwinan scientists haven’t been able to build a living organism — yet.

  14. 14
    William J. Murray

    OFF TOPIC:

    Dave in #10 says: “Big Science’s outright rejection of the idea of perpetual motion machines is a conspiracy between them and Big Oil because they would all be out of jobs if a working perpetual motion machine was invented.”

    In a similar vein, oil apparently isn’t a fossil fuel after all – it’s sustainable and renewable at least until the planet is uninhabitble.

    http://worldnetdaily.com/news/.....E_ID=59991

    and more comprehensively:

    http://www.canadafreepress.com.....ticle/3952

    Could it be that big oil doesn’t want us to know this? And that the media doesn’t want us to know that we’ve already found – and have been using – our perfect, near- infinite energy source?

    So much for Malthusian energy predictions.

  15. canadafreepress (link in #14):

    Needless to say, the last people to tell us the truth about oil will be the oil producers and oil companies, for they of course have a vested interest in perpetuating the myth that oil is a fossil fuel and that it will soon be exhausted, in order to ratchet up the price for as long as they can.

    This statement is a bit of a huge stretch, wouldn’t you say? Lets work on the premise that oil really is manufactured in the belly of the earth, rather than from dead organic life. (I note that there is a running plant manufacturing diesel fuel from pig guts.) Does the latter necessarily go with it, “the myth that oil is a fossil fuel and that it will soon be exhausted”? Independant of how it is being made, if we are using the stuff up faster than it is being made, we’ll still run out. If it is being made faster than we are using it up, then my brother, a geologist working the Alberta oil fields, is an idiot; he keeps finding it harder and harder to make finds.

    Ultimately, I really fail to see the chemical relationship between carbon-based molecules and iron, so I don’t begin to buy this tale.

    O’Leary seems to think that animals have no consciousness. Dave is betting on perpetual motion, and Murray thinks the oil shortage is a hoax.

    Some days I think that the ID community is full of people who quickly buy into a lot of strange ideas, ideas that are bought into because they tickle the fancy of the purchaser.

    Is Id a fantacy site, or are we about science?

  16. Apollos, you give Dave1968 a whole lot too much credit. I think he actually believes in perpetual motion machines.

    My apologies Dave, keep livin’ the dream. :P

  17. Actually, it’s the Darwinists who believe in the equivalent of perpetual-motion machines. Their variation on this theme is a perpetual-information machine. Just add time plus chance plus natural selection and you can get all the information you want for free. And as an added bonus, you get the machinery that stores, retrieves, error-corrects, replicates, and processes it for free! Who woulda thunk such a thing was possible?

  18. bFast wrote:
    “As I asked on another thread, are animals “conscious”? How do we know?”
    ———————-

    Disclaimer: I am not trying to make a theological point or ask a theological question.

    The Bible speaks of animals having a soul but man is distinctly mentioned as being made in the image of God, a spirit. Using that as a springboard, is it possible that animals are conscious but not fully aware like we are. We are aware of righteousness, and beauty, and creativity. All things that describe characteristics of God.

    Is it possible that animals are conscious but we are something higher?

  19. 19
    William J. Murray

    Quote: “Dave is betting on perpetual motion, and Murray thinks the oil shortage is a hoax.”

    What oil shortage? I can buy all the gas and oil products I want.

    Perhaps you refer to the effect of speculation on oil futures and supply and demand variances causing high prices?

    That has nothing to do with whether or not oil is a forseeably finite resource.

    The methodology employed in the west in finding new drill sites is based upon certain beliefs about how oil is formed. Russia and Ukraine went from oil-starved areas of the world to finding some of the world’s largest deposits of oil when they altered their methodology.

    Perhaps your brother would have better luck if he researched the Russia-Ukraine methodology.

  20. bfast

    Some days I think that the ID community is full of people who quickly buy into a lot of strange ideas, ideas that are bought into because they tickle the fancy of the purchaser.

    Fixed that for you.

    –I figured it could not be too long before you earned your way back into moderation. – Admin

  21. 21
    William J. Murray

    There’s a difference between being open minded and honestly examining different ideas and views – even those that at first seem strange – and the close-minded approach that uses subtle ridicule and applies perjorative terms in order to create a condescending, assumed credibility gap.

    I leave it to you to determine which method you’re applying.

  22. “A smartly presented argument that the human body is a functional, but far from perfect, product of natural selection,”

    Yes, and? Theists believe that humanity is imperfect already.

  23. Hi bFast,
    You ask: are animals “conscious”? How do we know?

    To determine whether an animal is conscious, psychologists test for the presence of a ‘Theory of Mind’ in the animal. This is one of the more important, if not critical attributes of consciousness AFAIK.

    Wiki has a well referenced article about this where the Theory of Mind is defined as:

    “the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one’s own”

    If you scroll down the page, there is a section “Non-human theory of Mind” which summarises the primary research in this area of developmental psychology.

    Note that this word “Theory” of Mind is not the same as “Theory” in say ‘Theory of Evolution’.

    Hope this helps a little.

  24. Eric,

    I’m a YEC and there is no doubt in my mind that scientist will be able to build a living organism in the method you describe.

    We’ll then have to hear all about how it’s ‘evolution’ in action instead of how it’s really a bunch of ‘intelligent’ folks ‘designing’ something.

    I can’t wait for that press release….

  25. Oops! crap link

    here it is again: Theory of Mind

  26. Samsen

    Consciousness is not defined as having a theory of mind and it is not used by psychologists as a test of consciousness. Wiki has an in-depth article on consciousness. I’ll reproduce what they have to say about tests for consciousness:

    Tests
    As there is no clear definition of consciousness and no empirical measure exists to test for its presence, it has been argued that due to the nature of the problem of consciousness, empirical tests are intrinsically impossible. However, several tests have been developed which attempt to provide an operational definition of consciousness and try to determine whether computers and other non-human animals can demonstrate through their behavior, by passing these tests, that they are conscious.

    In medicine, several neurological and brain imaging techniques, like EEG and fMRI, have proven useful for physical measures of brain activity associated with consciousness. This is particularly true for EEG measures during anesthesia[29] that can provide an indication of anesthetic depth, although with still limited accuracies of ~ 70 % and a high degree of patient and drug variability seen.

    Regarding consciousness in animals the same article goes on to say:

    Mirror
    See also the concept of the Mirror stage by Jacques Lacan

    With the mirror test, devised by Gordon Gallup in the 1970s, one is interested in whether animals are able to recognize themselves in a mirror. The classic example of the test involves placing a spot of coloring on the skin or fur near the individual’s forehead and seeing if they attempt to remove it or at least touch the spot, thus indicating that they recognize that the individual they are seeing in the mirror is themselves. Humans (older than 18 months), great apes (except for most gorillas[33]), bottlenose dolphins, pigeons[34], elephants[35] and magpies[36] have all been observed to pass this test. The test is usually carried out with an identical ‘spot’ being placed elsewhere on the head with a non-visible material as a control, to assure the subject is not responding to the touch stimuli of the spot’s presence. Proponents of the hard problem of consciousness claim that the mirror test only demonstrates that some animals possess a particular cognitive capacity for modelling their environment, but not for the presence of phenomenal consciousness per se.

  27. Hi DaveScot,

    You said: “Consciousness is not defined as having a theory of mind and it is not used by psychologists as a test of consciousness.”

    I was referring to how one goes about determining whether animals are conscious. I was not referring to a general definition of Consciousness per se. In that sense, having a theory of mind is one of the _attributes_ of consciousness researchers look for. There is more. Just one aspect is the theory of mind.

    As far as I know, this is one way reseachers operationalize consciousness. I realise that we don’t have a complete theory of consciousness.

    Btw, I’m also aware of methodological problems and also of interpreting the evidence in this area of animal cognition.

    I wish I had my psychology text with me. You might want to check out C.M Heyes’ Paper: Theory of Mind in Non Human Primates–I remember this was cited in my psychology text. A good overview.

  28. The mirror test is rather interesting and has a separate Wiki article discussing it.

    One thing I didn’t see mentioned in the article is surprising. For an animal to pass the mirror test the animal obviously has to be smart enough to recognize that the image in the mirror is himself. What wasn’t mentioned is that beyond recognizing the image in the mirror as himself he must also recognize that the colored spot is out-of-place and be curious enough about it to investigate further. The investigation aspect implies an even greater development of self-image and cognitive ability than merely recognizing self in the mirror.

    This also reveals a flaw in the test which could cause false negatives as a test for consciousness and cognitive capacity. An animal may recognize that the mirror image is self, know that there’s a colored spot on himself, but simply not be concerned about the spot, or not be aware that the spot shouldn’t be there.

    That said, the test seems to be reliable in not yielding false positives. I’m a bit surprised there are birds that pass it but too surprised. I’ve written here before of anecdotal experiences raising wild birds from hatchlings and the remarkable social and cognitive skills they possess that you’d never know about without them imprinting on humans and thus not having any fear of humans that would prevent them from attempting social interaction with humans.

  29. Samsen

    What I need from you is an authoritative source saying that “having a theory of mind” is considered a necessary factor in consciousness. Nowhere in the Wiki article on Theory of Mind does it say that. Nowhere in the Wiki article on consciousness does it say that either.

    From my reading of it a “theory of mind” is a hypothetical mental model that explains some social behaviors. What seemed to contrary to your assertion that this is a requisite condition for being considered conscious, aside from no claims of this in either enclopedia article, is that disorders such as autism are thought to result from a lack of the individual developing a “theory of mind”. If what you say about ToM and consciousness is correct it then follows that autistic individuals are not conscious human beings which is something I don’t think many psychologists or anyone else for that matter would assert. Would you assert that people with autism are unconscious?

  30. More on the matter of birds a scientist friend of mine related an observation to me. He has a cabin near a small lake where there are ducks. A visitor brought a dog who wanted to see what duck tasted like. The dog jumped into the lake and went swimming after a flock of ducks. Upon seeing the dog the flock started swimming away but was losing ground because there were ducklings who couldn’t swim faster than the dog nor fly. A lone drake in the flock then turned and started swimming towards the dog. The dog naturally became interested in the closer duck as that seemed the easier to catch. Before the drake and the dog actually met the drake changed course so that he was swimming both away from the dog, away from shore, and away from the flock. The drake easily maintained a safe distance from the dog and after leading the dog away a good distance he took flight and rejoined his flock. The dog was left tired, alone, and far from shore, in no condition to resume the duck hunt.

    Instinct or cognition on the drake’s part? Tough to tell. But if birds can pass the mirror test I wouldn’t be quick to rule out cognition.

  31. Hi DaveScot,

    You said: “What I need from you is an authoritative source saying that “having a theory of mind” is considered a necessary factor in consciousness. Nowhere in the Wiki article on Theory of Mind does it say that. Nowhere in the Wiki article on consciousness does it say that either.”
    OK, I think you are taking the theory of mind as the only feature of Consciousness which it is not. Let me clarify. Theory of Mind is considered as an important feature of human consciousness. So inorder to find out whether animals have a human-like consciousness, animals are tested for having the ‘theory of mind’. If they don’t have the theory of mind, that does not mean that they are not “conscious”. Just that they don’t have a complete healthy human-like consciousness. Does this make it clear to you?

    You also said: ” If what you say about ToM and consciousness is correct it then follows that autistic individuals are not conscious human beings which is something I don’t think many psychologists or anyone else for that matter would assert. Would you assert that people with autism are unconscious?”

    I think my clarification above would suggest that people with autism are conscious, if by “unconscious” you mean a complete lack of conscious awareness.

  32. So what we know, then, is that some non-human animals pass some rather advanced tests proving that they are conscious.

    We have not yet, however, defined a minimum definition of actions which establish consciousness, though we recognize that a lesser consciousness than the theory of mind, or of the mirror test is rather feasible.

    I have been thinking of how I, an experienced software developer, would get a computer to even demonstrate a simple task like the fight or fligh response (a response that involves consciousness in humans, does it in bugs?) I could simulate a fight or flight response easily enough, but it would be a blunt thing. I would have a fight routine, and a flight routine. I would have a routine that weighs the situation, and determines whether to invoke the fight or the flight routine. I would continually re-run the weighing routine to determine whether it is time to abandon fight and revert to flight, or to abandon flight and return to fight. However, in all of this, there would be nothing that my computer would do that gave its programmer the warm fuzzy that consciousness had been achieved.

    The same goes for the mirror test or the “theory of mind” test. I could write a specific program that specifically knows to expect the mirror test, then responds accordingly. Would my computer be conscious? Hardly.

    The pigeons that were tested in the mirror test, did they have a specific routine for the mirror test? Nope. They passed the mirror test without having any previous expectation that the test would happen. They had something more than a computer’s got — way more!

  33. 33

    O’Leary: “That is, if – as I think likely – Somewhat-Less-of-an-Oaf-but-Not-Yet-a never actually existed AND we may not seek any other solution, the problem should be relabelled the “impossible” problem of consciousness.”

    Having worked closely with mentally retarded people for over 20 years, it seems quite impossible that intellectual functioning developed over periods of time. Most of the intellectually challenged people that I have worked with do not have the functioning capacity to care for their basic living needs. The Darwinists would need to explain how a whole race of beings (not-yet-human) were able to function and excel without the basic intellectual capacities that we take for granted. The need for survival just doesn’t explain it.

    Our motivation to survive comes from our developed intellect. Without that motivation, we would not survive as humans. This is why children need parenting, and why the mentally retarded need human support. It’s not survival of the fittest, but survival due to mutual support, caring and encouragement that has sustained us through the test of time.

    Furthermore, if survival of the fittest is true in human evolution, then why do the “unfittest” still dwell among us. You would think that evolution would have filtered them out long ago.

  34. CannuckianYankee:

    Most of the intellectually challenged people that I have worked with do not have the functioning capacity to care for their basic living needs. The Darwinists would need to explain how a whole race of beings (not-yet-human) were able to function and excel without the basic intellectual capacities that we take for granted.

    Either I am badly missing your point, or you are badly missing reality here. Animals of all manner of intellectual capacity, from microorganisms with effectively no brain, to monkeys and apes all actually do fend for themselves in the wild. For some strange reason they are able to survive, even though their intellectual capacity is, in the case of microorganisms, unmeasurably limited.

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