Evolution and Reason with G. K. Chesterton

“Evolution is either an innocent scientific description of how certain earthly things came about; or, if it is anything more than this, it is an attack upon thought itself. If evolution destroys anything, it does not destroy religion but rationalism. If evolution simply means that a positive thing called an ape turned very slowly into a positive thing called a man, then it is stingless for the most orthodox; for a personal God might just as well do things slowly as quickly – especially if, like the Christian God, he were outside time. But if it means anything more, it means that there is no such thing as an ape to change, and no such thing as a man for him to change into. It means that there is no such thing as a thing. At best, there is only one thing, and that is a flux of everything and anything. This is an attack not upon faith, but upon the mind; you cannot think if there are no things to think about.”


“Expelled” from Pharyngula

It seems rational discussion is passé.  I was recently forbidden to make comments on PZ Myers incendiary blog Pharyngula for attempting to engage in a rational discussion over a lecture he gave at AAI.  To my great disappointment, I was denied the privilege of commenting on PZ’s site after leaving only two posts.  Perhaps, if I had peppered my comments with profanity, ugly ad hominem attacks, and a *facepalm*, I would still have access to his site.  As it is, I won’t be making comments on Mr. Myer’s site any time in the foreseeable future.

For those interested in reading PZ’s blog and my original comments please follow the link below (my first comment is # 68):


To my opponents, who believe they have delivered decisive blows to my arguments, here are my rejoinders:

Mr. Nerd of Redhead,

You say, “don’t lie to us about the real amount of scientific research being done. We know better.”

Thus far, I have made no comments regarding the amount of scientific research being done on ID Theory–it’s simply not an issue I’m interested in discussing at this time.  What does interest me is the fact that we make design inferences all the time and that the ability to make such inferences seems to be crucial to the sciences—a point that PZ demonstrates beautifully in his lecture.

So, the question still stands:  If distinguishing between things which have arisen from undirected natural processes and things which have arisen from intelligent design is a valid, and important, aspect of science, why can’t biologists employ such methods when analyzing biological systems?

Mr. CJO,

There are two things about your response I’d like to address:

(1) If your assertions are correct,  S.E.T.I is a complete waste of time and money–the extraterrestrial agents they seek evidence for are not, “extremely well understood in terms of motives and capabilities.”  If the S.E.T.I researchers followed your way of thinking, it would be impossible to determine whether an alien signal was designed unless they had already come into contact with the very extraterrestrials they were searching for.

The fact of the matter is, we know what intelligence is and we are capable of recognizing intelligent activity or involvement when we see it.  Distinguishing between things which have arisen due to undirected natural causes and things which are the result of intelligent design is a fundamental aspect of science; an aspect S.E.T.I researchers rely upon when they analyze radio signals from outer space.

(2)  You say, “if you want to “detect design in biology,” first you have to identify where the apparently unbroken chain of reproduction was broken in order to do this design work, and second you have to identify an agent capable of conceiving and carrying out the design.”

Why?  I don’t have to know when and how a brick wall was built to recognize that it is not the product of undirected natural causes.  Similarly, I don’t have to know when or how a molecular machine was designed to recognize that it is the product of intelligence (if, in fact, it is).  The methods we are discussing involve how scientists recognize the difference between something that is the product of undirected natural causes and something that is the product of intelligence—not when and how design was implemented.

Richard Dawkins and Randolph Nesse: Trying Really Hard to Ignore Design.

There are three things about this video which seemed worthy of commentary:

(1)  The comicality of Dr. Nesse’s habitual use of the word design when describing human anatomy. Even after Dawkins corrects him, Nesse can’t seem to avoid using design language and engineering terminology when talking about the body (as if it actually was designed!)

(2)  The self-refuting nature of Dr. Nesse’s argument against intelligent design. Parroting hundreds of Darwinists before him, Nesse rehashes the same old argument:  that “bad design” in nature proves there is no design in nature.  Darwinists seem to find this argument existentially pleasing—but those of a rational sort tend to find it dim-witted.  Think about it: once you’ve admitted there is “bad design” in nature is it really coherent to suggest, in the same breath, that there is no design in nature?  Let’s face it, bad design is still design.  I may think of better ways to design my watch—but I don’t deny my watch is designed!   Either there is design in nature—however bad it may be–or there is not.

(3)   The unfortunate fact that Dr. Nesse’s example of bad design is really a bad example. It is entirely unclear why the human wrist demonstrates bad design–unless one could know what the designers original intent or “end goal” was, this claim is entirely subjective.  If the designer responsible for engineering the human body had in mind to create an organism who could never be hurt, then, yes, humans are badly designed (even if this were the case, as I pointed out above, this does not prove there is no design in nature.)  However, it seems quite possible, upon observing the human body,  that this was not the designer’s original intent or goal.  As Nesse’s description indicates, the designer seems to have had in mind to build creatures with the remarkable capability of rotating their wrists.  Far from being “bad” design it seems the designer succeeded marvelously in accomplishing his goal.

The Ugly Face of Darwinism

Many still refuse to believe proponents of Intelligent Design (or anyone questioning Darwinian Evolution) are being persecuted, blacklisted, and treated with disrespect.  If you are one of these people, I invite you to visit biologist PZ Myers popular blog Pharyngula; a revolting space, displaying childish, disgusting, immature behavior, towards anyone who questions the Darwinian worldview.  In particular, I urge you to read his latest post which display’s a private correspondence between Discovery Institutes David Klinghoffer and evolutionary biologist Nicholas Gotelli. 

To read Myer’s post click here.

I hope this little exchange leaves a bad taste in your mouth and leads you one step closer to acknowledging the volatile climate which exists for those challenging Darwinian Evolution.

A review of “Darwin and the Intelligent Design Brigade”

Paddy Shannon recently published an article in the Socialist Standard entitled, Darwin and the Intelligent Design Brigade, which was re-posted on RichardDawkins.net.  I found this article fascinating for several reasons: (1) It said virtually nothing about Intelligent Design, (2) its naive caricature of “religious people” and their motives was very imaginative, and (3) its diminutive attitude toward “religious people” is typical of the pseudo-intellectualism attached to the new Atheist movement.  Allow me to touch briefly on each of these points. 

(1) Yet again, the media produces an article with Intelligent Design in the title which says absolutely nothing about Intelligent Design (aside from suggesting an anti-ID documentary.)  Perhaps I’m being a little too picky, but, one would expect an article entitled, Darwin and the Intelligent Design Brigade, to at least say something about Intelligent Design.  This is yet another shining example of incompetent reporting on Intelligent Design. 

(2)  Shannon asserts that the motivation for “religious people’s” attacks on the theory of evolution is fear.  More specifically, a fear “that without God as first cause there really is no relevance to life.”  I wonder if she’s ever considered the possibility that “religious people” attack evolution because if God does not exist, “there really is no relevance to life.”  This is not simply an argument from fear, but an assertion of the facts.  If Darwinism is true, there is no purpose, design, intentionality, personality, or objectivity in nature; the philosophical implications of Darwinism are profound.  Perhaps religious people are afraid, but not due to their naivety; they are afraid of the disturbing implications of Darwinism in the realms of art, beauty, ethics, philosophy and every other meaningful human pursuit.  It is only wise for “religious people” to question the validity of such a worldview and to encourage its proponents to follow the logic of their system to its end. 

Of course, there is another reason “religious people” might challenge evolution which Shannon omits; because of the scientific evidence.  Perhaps Intelligent Design (of which she did very little actual reporting on) has laid some serious challenges at the feat of Neo-Darwinism and religious people are convinced of this evidence. 

(3)  Consider this quote, “At the same time it is possible to feel some compassion for the fear and the desperation these, mostly ignorant and uninformed, people have, confronted with a world they don’t understand and in which they feel utterly helpless. Science to them is gas chambers, nuclear bombs, death rays, spy satellites and mind control. Wild stories about Earth-eating black holes and ‘strangelets’ guaranteed front-page coverage worldwide for the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider, an event only normally of interest to particle physicists.”

This is my translation, “Awwww, look at the poor moronic, uneducated, imbeciles, they’re afraid because they just don’t understand.  We of the intellectual elite (i.e. Darwinists) should have compassion on them for their ignorance.”

It is true; there are millions of ignorant, uneducated people in the world.  Alas, many of these people are religious.  However, to presume that the Atheistic Darwinian perspective on life is only held by educated intellectuals (which this statement implies) is outrageous.  Perhaps Shannon has not actually read any of the modern critiques of Darwinism or looked at the credentials of their author’s.  This diminutive treatment of “religious people” is a gross stereotype of the worst kind.

Incompetent Reporting on Intelligent Design

Back in September, Fort Worth Weekly published an article on Intelligent Design entitled Devolution in Education.  Its author, Laurie Barker James, should win a prize for producing such a choice example of poorly researched biased reporting.  Full of misrepresentations and falsities, James’ article is a beautiful demonstration of how to build a straw man.  However, James can’t take too much credit for this masterpiece in absurdity; after all, she was only parroting what everyone else in the popular media has been saying.   Poorly researched biased reporting has become the hallmark of mainstream reporting on ID.   This is a tremendous shame for at least three reasons:  (1) It proves that journalists are either being lazy (unwilling to dig deep and be innovative in their reporting on ID) or dishonest (unwilling to report the truth), (2) it suggests that journalists are scared of challenging the status quo (i.e. challenging Darwinism), and (3) it means that millions of people are being misinformed. 

To those of you reading this post, shaking your head in disbelief, I issue a challenge.  Read James’ article and check her facts.  Don’t just take her word for it; go find out for yourself.  For instance, she gives a definition of ID in her article.  Google it and find out how Design Theorists really define ID.  Pick up a copy of Debating Design (published by Cambridge University Press) and do a little bit of reading.  Then, next time you read an article like Devolution in Education, write a letter to the editor pointing out all of its mistakes.    

You can read Devolution in Education here: http://www.fwweekly.com/content.asp?article=7149

You can read my letter to the editor here:  http://www.fwweekly.com/content.asp?article=7208