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Thoughts for blogs I almost don’t have time to write

Nobody else is apparently blogging here, deep in August, so here goes:

- Did Dawkins actually read Behe’s Edge of Evolution ? Someone (hat tip to whoever) has pointed out that the New York Times review does not read as though he did. Hence the irrelevant riff on dog breeding.

The basic problem, in my view, is that Behe outclasses Dawkins. Behe is a working biochemist who knows exactly what Darwinian evolution has and hasn’t done. Unlike Dawkins, who has contributed nothing of substance to science for many years, he does not make Darwinian evolution a substitute for religion. So it is safe for him to know what it can and cannot do.

- What, exactly, is “evolutionary” public health? Robert Aunger, an evolutionary biologist, wants to be in public health (And why not? It is more obviously useful to keep the living alive than to tell stories about the dead, I am sure.) But what a curious title! I wonder if I will hear about “evolutionary emergency medicine” next? (My recent Google search turned up nothing so far, but have patience! Surely, some stalwart souls will settle for evolutionary time scales for treatment.)

Actually, Aunger, to his credit, has begun to alert the world to the silliness virus that has afflicted evolutionary psychology, which Mario Beauregard and I outline in The Spiritual Brain.

- Ann Coulter takes a shot at Darwinism in the last graff of this column:

If conservatives are the ones driven by ideological passions, then why are liberals the ones always falling for laughable hoaxes in support of their anti-war ideological agenda? And if liberal beliefs are true, why do they need all the phony stunts to prove them? How about liberals keep hoaxes out of politics and return them to their rightful place: “proving” Darwinian evolution.

Note to Stunned Stateside*: Please do not write to me to announce that Ann Coulter is outrageous. Yes. We know. We noticed. We all noticed. And we received all your information. She makes a living out of that. And every little bit of the fuel comes from YOU, stunned one!! If you could contrive to ignore her .. but, well, you can’t, can you?

- Here’s a podcast explaining how I got involved with the intelligent design controversy. If you do not find it entertaining, try asking for your money back.

Now have a good summer weekend, and see you again soon.

(*Usage note: “Stateside” = Canadianism, refers to Americans. Short for “on the United States’ side”)

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12 Responses to Thoughts for blogs I almost don’t have time to write

  1. The basic problem, in my view, is that Behe outclasses Dawkins.

    This is an understatement. The reason Dawkins refuses to debate people like Behe is that Dawkins doesn’t have the faintest idea about how stuff works. Dawkins has no idea about combinatorics, probabilities, engineering, information, information-processing systems, or anything else that requires rigorous analysis.

    Dawkins has placed his faith in the notion that something can be had for nothing. It doesn’t work that way.

  2. I am extremely surprised that so many highly educated people, such as Dawkins supposedly is, would be so easily deceived when the recently revealed evidence is in plain sight for everyone to see. You would think that they would exercise great caution in judging the evidence before so loudly and blatantly denying the existence of Almighty God, Who has the power to save us from death.

  3. I am extremely surprised that so many highly educated people, such as Dawkins supposedly is, would be so easily deceived when the recently revealed evidence is in plain sight for everyone to see.

    It’s called spiritual blindness, and it is an extremely powerful force. I know all about this, because I was once under its spell. It blinds one to truths that scream at you, and beat you over the head with a sledge hammer.

  4. If Dawkins hadn’t read Behe before writing his review, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s opened his mouth without watching or reading the item in question. Way back in the 90s when the X-Files was riding high in the TV ratings, Dawkins had a go at it because every week the Sceptic was wrong. He reckoned it was like discrimination against Blacks or other ethnic groups. Hmmm. It seem Dawkins has no admitted that he actually hadn’t watched the series before making that comment.

    Also the British satirical magazine, Private Eye, reported how Dawkins had to make an apology in the pages of the Guardian to the British comedian Peter Kay. Kay had said in an interview that he found the existence of God comforting. It’s a bland comment which you’d think was fairly uncontroversial.

    Not to Dawkins. Another journalist rang him up for his perspective on this. Dawkins duly responded by asking rhetorically how anyone could take Kay seriously if he believed stuff like this.

    Oops! Dawkins then wrote to the Guardian a few days later to state that he had been misrepresented. He meant Peter Kay nothing but goodwill, but had been rung up by a journalist he didn’t know to ask for his perspective on his comments because he was known as a good source for such opposing perspectives. Or words to that effect.

    What this apology actually amounts to is a confession by Dawkins that he speaks without thinking, and that he is a knee-jerk, opinionated rentaquote.

  5. Ah, Gil:

    If I may hazard a quote from Locke at the beginning of his Essay on Human Understanding, Section 5:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2, Ac 17, etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Cf here Eph 4:17 – 24 on the issue of “endarkenment” hiding as “enlightenment.”

  6. On http://www.slashdot.org...

    “YouTube is currently taking submissions for their next debate, in which the Republican candidates will answer questions. This seems like a good opportunity to challenge those candidates who say they do not believe in evolution. But since I am not an expert in the subject, I would be interested in how you all feel the question should be presented. For my own part, I think it is important to present the overwhelming body of evidence on the subject as incontrovertible fact, much the same way DNA evidence is presented during a criminal trial, and ask why the candidate feels they can pick and choose what facts they believe in. Moreover, I am wary of coming across like Christopher Hitchins, so vitriolic the candidate will defend themselves rather than answer the question. Perhaps the most important aspect of posing the question is to inform the viewers who watch the debate that this is really not a matter of opinion, but of science. So my question is: ‘Hey geneticists, have you considered addressing evolution in the YouTube debates? Can you do it in 30 seconds?’”

  7. I think asking the repub candidates about evolution will just make some of them look bad because they don’t know the issues very well. I think it’s a bad idea.

  8. There is absolutely no reason to ask a political candidate his personal, layman’s, opinion on a scientific matter.
    Some similarly inappropriate questions, for instance:
    “What is your prediction cold fusion? what percentage of the sun do you believe to be oxygen? at what rate are the tectonic plates moving? how much information is encoded in the DNA in one human cell?…”

    The question about evolution is also inappropriate unless, of course, the question isn’t really about science at all. (Reminder – to defenders of ToE, it isn’t.)

    If, on the other hand, the question is meant to find out where the candidate would stand on potential legislation regarding the teaching of evolution then that is what should be asked of the candidate.
    “Would you support legislation eliminating the teaching of evolution? Or would you support legislation banning any criticisms of the theory? Do you believe we ought to teach it stripped of its metaphysical claims? Do you think we should teach it as a fact, Fact, FACT? And that it is scientifically demonstrable that we are the product of an unguided, random process which did not have us in mind?”

  9. Hey William, this is off-topic of this post, but I have a few questions for you regarding your paper “Infinite Universe or Intelligent Design”. If possible, could we correspond at

    joshua AT joshjung.com

    Thanks!

  10. “Stateside” is a Canadianism? I must’ve picked it up from one of my Canadian friends. I use it all the time here in Japan. I tell my friends back in the US, “When I get back Stateside…” Now that you mention it, though, it makes absolutely no sense unless you’re speaking from Canada or Mexico! Now I feel silly!

  11. Hi Charley:

    1] There is absolutely no reason to ask a political candidate his personal, layman’s, opinion on a scientific matter.

    The key point is that evolution and related issues has become a wedge issue in US politics, and the mantra of many in the so-called intelligentsia [too often, more accurately, the Plato's Cave company of the dangerously and destructively manipulated, deceived and deluded] is that those who object to it are just dumb fundies -nb a smear word that should normally be avoided in polite discourse — who are “dangerous” and should not be trusted near levers of power.

    So, the intent IS in many cases to embarrass by asking a question that is manifestly loaded, cannot be responsibly answered on the merits in the brief compass of a debate, and utterly unfair to one whose expertise is very different.

    That’s why there are some people who, sadly, just love such a loaded question.

    2] Better Q’s: “Would you support legislation eliminating the teaching of evolution? Or would you support legislation banning any criticisms of the theory? Do you believe we ought to teach it stripped of its metaphysical claims? Do you think we should teach it as a fact, Fact, FACT? And that it is scientifically demonstrable that we are the product of an unguided, random process which did not have us in mind?”

    This is a more promising and relevant cluster of questions.

    Were I a candidate, I would note briefly as above on the import and context of the question as asked, point out that there are serious issues as yet unresolved in the science and philosophy — regardless of what publicists including those wearing their lab coats in public have to declare ever so confidently on the matter– would highlight one of the infamous icons such as the Haeckel embryos homology fraud from the 1860s being in textbooks even at College level at the turn of C21 and then proceed to the policy relevant questions, ticking them off and hitting them for a homer one by one.

    But then, given the high voltage feelings and rhetoric at work, which candidate will be brave enough to do that?

    [But then, too, moral, intellectual and policy clarity, coherence and courage are qualifications for high office . . . ]

    GEM of TKI

  12. PS: Did I get my baseball reference right — I am more comfortable in speaking of hitting fours and sixes in Cricket . . .

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