Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Heddle Replies to Derbyshire

An even dumber reply to Derbyshire is provided in this post from blogger David Heddle. It opens as follows:


Today John Derbyshire of NRO took a break from tradition, which is to say that he wrote a post in which he did not refer to himself in third person. It was refreshing not to read about “the Derb.” However, he completely mangled his subject matter, Intelligent Design.

Now I limit myself to ID as it applies to cosmology. That, to me, is a much more fascinating question than the biological ID debate. Why argue evolution vs. ID in biological systems when the real question is, how is it that life is even possible? Evolutionists don't want to deal with this puzzle. They are content to accept that (1) the earth was here and fertile and (2) life originated somehow. From that starting point, which they don't find particularly amazing, they employ evolutionary theory to explain life's diversity. Fair enough, and certainly a proper avenue of scientific research.


If Heddle wants to talk about cosmology that is fine, but the fact is that Derbyshire was perfectly clear that he was talking about the biological side of the debate. Heddle is simply changing the subject.

Furthermore, the snarky, obnoxious tone of this paragraph is completely uncalled for. It is not that evolutionists don't want to address the questions of the origin of life or the origin of the Earth, it is that those questions lie entirely outside their domain of expertise. As Heddle notes, evolutionists study what happens after life develops. I'm happy to see that Heddle considers this a legitimate avenue of scientific research.

An upon what, exactly, does Heddle base his assertion that evolutionists don't find it amazing that life exists?

Heddle closes his post by repeating his error:


Finally, Derbyshire makes a theologically incorrect statement, at the very beginning of his post:


It is possible to believe in God and not believe in ID;


That is incorrect. While you might take issue with the arguments of any particular ID proponent, I suggest that it is not possible to believe in God and not believe that He intelligently designed the universe, even if only in the minimalist/deist sense that He set the initial conditions and then stepped away. At the end of the day, at least in classic monotheism, there are really two choices: the universe is a random accident and there is no God (atheism) or, regardless of the mechanisms employed and the degree of His subsequent involvement, God designed and created the universe (theism).


Of course, Heddle is using the term “ID” to refer to the minimal claim that there is some designing intelligence behind the order of the universe. Derbyshire, as was obvious to anyone who read his posts, was using “ID” to refer to a collection of arguments levelled against modern evolutionary theory. Not only did Derbyshire not commit a theological error (whatever that is), what he said is obviously correct (and ought to be stated more often).

12 Comments:

At 12:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Heddle is just a dumb, annoying guy. I find myself going to Panda's Thumb less and less these days, because the comment sections there are just endless debates with a few creationists who refuse to understand evolution. I go there still for the great articles written by scientists, but the repetitive and willfully ignorant creationists are just too tedious.

 
At 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I hear one more dipshit creationist say something like 'if evolution's true, why are there still monkeys?' I'll just scream.

 
At 9:24 AM, Blogger David said...

Well, I agree that I'm dumb, but I never, ever debate evolution on Panda's thumb. All I ever discuss is cosmology. So I am not the proper target for complaints about creationists. I have to argue with them myself, because I believe in a 4.5 billion year old earth.

 
At 1:45 AM, Blogger 386sx said...

Of course, Heddle is using the term “ID” to refer to the minimal claim that there is some designing intelligence behind the order of the universe. Derbyshire, as was obvious to anyone who read his posts, was using “ID” to refer to a collection of arguments levelled against modern evolutionary theory.

I think perhaps this would be a classic example of what one might call "equivocation" on the part of Mr. Heddle.

 
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