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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Faith in Evolution - the "Why"

Mark and David have helped me in a discussion about the potential faith elements in Darwinian evolution below. One of the issues that came up is that evolutionists react poorly to criticism because they are being 'systematically attacked by well-funded advocacy groups who seek to destroy the science'.

Over at the Center for Science and Culture, this article was written by an agnostic professor with a PhD in philosophy and mathematics from Princeton. While it has some angst in it, it asks good questions - questions that deserve answers. So why don't these questions get answered? Obviously individuals who have no connection with creationists have these questions, but...

"The defense of Darwin’s theory of evolution has now fallen into the hands of biologists who believe in suppressing criticism when possible and ignoring it when not. It is not a strategy calculated in induce confidence in the scientific method. A paper published recently in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington concluded that the events taking place during the Cambrian era could best be understood in terms of an intelligent design – hardly a position unknown in the history of western science. The paper was, of course, peer-reviewed by three prominent evolutionary biologists. Wise men attend to the publication of every one of the Proceeding’s papers, but in the case of Steven Meyer’s "The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories," the Board of Editors was at once given to understand that they had done a bad thing. Their indecent capitulation followed at once. "

Criminal. This is why intelligent discourse very seldom occurs - the anti-any-opposition fervor of evolutionists is closer to militant religious fundamentalism than anything scientific. In fact, it is justified by similar language:

""If scientists do not oppose antievolutionism,” Eugenie Scott, the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, remarked, “it will reach more people with the mistaken idea that evolution is scientifically weak.” Scott’s understanding of ‘opposition’ had nothing to do with reasoned discussion. It had nothing to do with reason at all. Discussing the issue was out of the question. Her advice to her colleagues was considerably more to the point: "Avoid debates."

Everyone else had better shut up."

Therefore, avoid questions about evolution because people might think there are problems with it. That's no different from, "No one can question what our church says, because it might lead them to not believe in God." This is science? I don't think so. Some do. Thankfull, my blog tends to attract the more level headed in the blogosphere.

This will have to count for my Theology Tuesday post. I plan on having a zinger next week!

Note: Dr. Berlinski is a fellow at the CSC, which has as one of their goals the questioning of Darwinism. This makes him decidedly non-objective. However, a perusal of his work shows that most of his work is with math, philosophy and molecular biology, not creation science.


  • I was going to say something positive about this, how these kinds of papers should probably be published as long as they survive peer review...

    But now I actually read the article and not very good.

    Look – Where attempts to replicate Darwinian evolution on the computer have been successful, they have not used classical Darwinian principles, and where they have used such principles, they have not been successful. "Classical Darwinian" principles are anti-genetics. That was abandoned several decades ago. Perhaps he means something else, but I'm not sure what. I see he is writing a book on genetic algorithms.

    Look – Tens of thousands of fruit flies have come and gone in laboratory experiments, and every last one of them has remained a fruit fly to the end, all efforts to see the miracle of speciation unavailing. I talked about this in another post. Speciation has been observed several times (surprisingly, actually); AIG accepts this. This alone is proof the guy hasn't done his homework.

    Yet looking at all he has written, he must know. This is clearly something a guy in his position would know. Yet... I don't get it. Did he lie? Does he just not care? Does he have specific issues with all the documented cases?

    I actually have some respect for the AIG guys, they believe in the literal word of the Bible and try really hard to make all the facts fit this belief even they admit is 100% faith based. I don't think they are right, but they usually come across as honest. (I found a few nit-picks, but I could nit-pick myself if I tried hard enough.)

    These IDers, though, just seem dishonest to me. The whole ID concept is based on a legal repackaging of Creationism, trying to remove the religious elements. This legal maneuver is at least partially dishonest. Then they sit at the back of the class and shoot spitballs at the teacher, so to speak.

    They never suggest anything constructive nor do they put forth theories of their own one could actually compare to evolution. ID isn't really a theory so much as a place holder for anyplace they can yell "see, you don't quite get this step, do you? Must have been designed by an intelligence, then!"

    By Blogger Mark, at 3/16/2005 04:52:00 PM  

  • I know it seems like a cop-out, Mark, but if a guy's theory is, "God made birds", then there isn't a whole lot of theorizing he can do to show evidence for it. What can he do?

    Demonstrate that other theories don't work.

    Do you disagree?

    Oh, the article in question is the peer-reviewed one by Stephen Meyer, found in full here. If the link doesn't work, it's at The piece I linked to before was an op-ed.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 3/16/2005 05:04:00 PM  

  • Well, "God made birds" would be a theory! Or more specifically, "God occasionally kills off old species and creates new ones."

    But the IDers don't seem to hold any position at all, near as I can tell. I think they tend to be old-Earthers, questioning only biology, not geology, but I could be wrong. I don't think they say.

    I read somewhere that 40% of all evolutionary scientists believe that evolution was guided by God's hand. How does that fit into the IDers philosophy? I don't know. Near as I can tell, they don't say.

    By Blogger Mark, at 3/17/2005 07:39:00 PM  

  • I have always felt that ID was PC Creationism. "If we don't say God did it, then they can't keep us out of schools." If neutering the theory is what it takes to critically examine the subject in schools, then so be it.

    I felt your proposal equally applied to creationists, though.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 3/24/2005 11:49:00 PM  

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