Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Colson on ID Supporters

In the course of replying to a recent New York Times article about H.L. Mencken, Charles Colson offered these thoughts on scientists sympathetic to to ID:


The Times also exposed its ignorance of the kind of people who espouse intelligent design. Does it realize it is calling Albert Einstein a boob? Einstein once said: “God does not play dice with the cosmos”—he found design in the universe. Scientist Fritz Schaefer—four times nominated for a Nobel Prize—is another “boob” who believes in the intelligent design theory. So does Professor Michael Behe, the Lehigh biochemist who has proven the “irreducible complexity” of the human cell structure. And then there is Oxford Professor Antony Flew, the famous British philosopher. Throughout his long career, Flew argued that there was a “presumption of atheism”—that is, the existence of a creator could not be proved. Intelligent design caused Flew, at the age of 81, to reverse himself and acknowledge God as creator. Flew is “ignorant”?


Stephen Jay Gould once observed that “creationists are singularly devoid of shame” in parroting any favorable argument that anyone has ever raised, no matter how nonsensical or frequently refuted. Here we have a case in point.

First, Einstein (who actually said “God does not play dice with the universe”) did not believe in any religious notion of God. In fact, he once ridiculed the notion of a personal God as a childish delusion. His occasional references to God, like the one above, were just shorthand for a general sense of awe at the laws of physics. He certainly would not have accepted any notion that we must allow supernatural explanations to be a legitimate part of science.

Second, describing Fritz Schaefer as a four-time nominee (strangely, most anti-evolution sites describe him as a five-time nominee) is just the sort of cheap, empty talking point of which creationists are so fond. It is not necessarily a great accomplishment to be nominated for the Nobel Prize. Nominations for the prize come from a variety of sources, and since the whole process is secret we have no way of knowing how seriously Schaefer's nomination was taken. For more on this, click here.

As for Antony Flew, Wikipedia has a good rundown of all the contradictory things he has said on this subject in the last few years. After initially saying that he had switched from atheism to deism on the grounds that there was no plausible naturalistic explanation for the origin of DNA, he later said he had made a fool of himself on that subject and admitted that he had not kept up with the relevant science. He also said that he was impressed in large part by the arguments of Gerald Schroeder, but then had to admit that he was unfamiliar with the many devastating refutations of Scroeder's arguments. And throughout all of this Flew has been unambiguous that he does not believe in anything beyond an especially limp sort of deism.

Which leaves Michael Behe. He's the genuine article, a scientist who believes there is evidence of design in the universe. But given his disastrous involvement in the Dover trial, I don't think many ID proponents want to brag about having him on their side.

Which brings us, actually, to the most important point of them all. For ake a look at the Times quote that led to Colson's little rant:


Sanity has triumphed in Dover, Pennsylvania, where the boobs who tried to foist intelligent design on the local lyceums have been soundly thrashed . . . Would that this victory were permanent. It will take more than jurisprudence to retire the forces of ignorance. Meanwhile, we can only hope they engage in less egregious forms of buncombe—like installing the Ten Commandments in public squares, or speaking in tongues.


This was intended to be written in the style of H.L. Mencken. What is obvious is that the boobs being referred to were not people who believe in ID, but rather the people in Dover who tried to froce the ideas into public schools.

So let's review. Colson begins by misrepresenting what the Times writer said. He then replies to his own distortion by providing four prominent people who believe in ID. In three of those four cases, what he wrote was either misleading or incorrect.

Shameless.

16 Comments:

At 2:35 PM, Blogger amstar said...

I can not get past this gem:

'Michael Behe, the Lehigh biochemist who has proven the “irreducible complexity”...'

says who? Where is the proof?

 
At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The word lazy comes to mind. Unfortunately, fundamentalism has a way of doing that to otherwise intelligent people. One's thinking capacity tends to atrophy through disuse owing to the fact that you already have all the (important) answers.

 
At 2:58 PM, Blogger John Farrell said...

Meanwhile, over at Science blogs, Chris Mooney is having some fun over Tom Bethell and the free ride he's been getting at National Review on his latest book.

Even as Amazon reviewers beat the tar out of it....

 
At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Pope Zach 64 said...

If I remember correctly...

Einstein's "dice" comment was made in the context of his rejection of the implications of quantum mechanics' probabilistic laws. While recognizing its empirical sucess, Einstein thought that there were deterministic, "hidden variables" that gave the appearance of probabilistic behavior. Sort of like statistical thermodynamics.

So to say that Einstein's "dice" comment advocates "design" is a gross misrepresentation. Geeze - why don't these IDiot sympathizers ever do any homework before they spew their bullsh*t.

And why does none of these guys ever remember Bohr's reply to Einstein: "Don't tell God what to do!"

 
At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one dumb question if I may:

Why aren't there tons of living transitional forms? That is, if humans and apes came from same thing, or whatever, why don't we see, now,

living, every version in between? If the thing just "above" ape was "better", why can't it still be alive? and why IS the ape

still alive? why not humans w/ every brain level, every level of hairyness, every level of muscular development, "hands" at the bottom, and tons of new versions of humans, w/ extra eyes, hands, fingers, legs, an extra stomach, ... I would think we'd see literally hundreds of living intermediates; and the same with cats, dogs, elephants

(everything from the mamoth down) and every other animal on earth. Why so much apparent "stasis", if that's the right term.

I tried to find a link that addressed this question first, but with no success.
If you can provide a link that would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your reply.
es

 
At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Fred said...

ES (Anonymous) asks why we don't see any living transitional fossils. First of all, yes, this is a dumb question and it's addressed in the bascic concept of evolution itself. Second, there are millions of living transitional animals and plants alive today. EVERYTHING is transitional-- it's not like evolution stopped, you know. But these things take an incredible amount of time; you won't see changes in your lifetime.

Now I have a question: In biblical times (according to the Bible) there were tons of easily identifiable miracles. Coincidentally, it was also a time when people didn't know much about the world in a scientific sense. Why is it that miracles stopped two thousand years ago? (And don't give me any garbage about how there are miracles every day, like the people who survived 911. I mean Bible-style miracles.)

 
At 2:39 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Fred said...

Now I have a question: In biblical times (according to the Bible) there were tons of easily identifiable miracles. Coincidentally, it was also a time when people didn't know much about the world in a scientific sense. Why is it that miracles stopped two thousand years ago? (And don't give me any garbage about how there are miracles every day, like the people who survived 911. I mean Bible-style miracles.)

First Fred I didn't see anything about the Bible in ES (Anonymous) question so why go there?

Second you make it sound like there were miracles everyday. There were many times in Biblical history when there were no miracles, no prophets speaking for example the times between Malachi and the birth of Jesus.

Also there are still miracles today!

Mark

 
At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Fred said...

Mark, I asked about the Bible because of ES's implication that evolution is wrong and the Bible is right. I could be wrong in that assumption, of course. But if I'm right, it's fair to answer his question and posit one for him. (Granted I didn't really fully answer his question, but as I said, the answer is inherent in the theory of evolution itself. Indeed, it's pretty much the premise.)

As for miracles, there might not have been miracles every day in the Bible, but there were more than one every two thousand years. In the last two thousand years, what miracles-- unexplainable by any other means, including coincidence-- have there been?

 
At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For example, there are simultaneously many species of beetles. They can obviously co-exist with some overlap in the same areas. Why don't we see that with every other type of animal.

es

 
At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

specifically human beings
es

 
At 9:17 PM, Anonymous pope zach 64 said...

I thought I heard that the recently discovered hominids called "hobbits" might very well be alive today, had their habitat not been destroyed by a volcanic eruption.

I also thought I heard that it MIGHT be possible that a living population still survives in the more remote regions. WOW! I'd love to see the Fundies handle that one.

Of course, had the Hobbits survived the volcano, they probably would have been either slaughtered or enslaved by Homo Sapiens sooner or later.

 
At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Kevin from NYC said...

"First Fred I didn't see anything about the Bible in ES (Anonymous) question so why go there?"

yes please Fred lest we awake the Heddle or the Jasen

 
At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one dumb question if I may

Well, at least you got the "dumb" part right. Maybe "lazy", too.

Because if you were an informed individual, you would already know that this "where are all the fossils" question has been asked and answered so many times that it is incredible that someone could still be asking it.

But alas, there seems to be no shortage of ignorant people who apparantly feel no shame in flaunting their ignorance by posting such questions on the Internet.

How people at Talk.Origins and elsewhere have the patientce to engage this redundancy is a Mystery of the Universe that I've been unable to explain.

 
At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never used the word fossil. I asked why we don't see this today, alive.

They do have an answer about fossils. But they don't address this.

Thanks again,

ES

 
At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never used the word fossil. I asked why we don't see this today, alive.

They do have an answer about fossils. But they don't address this.

Thanks again,

ES

 
At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Fred said...

ES - Ever hear the phrase "survival of the fittest?" That's only a part of evolution, but it happens to be the answer to your question: the earlier models die out by not living long enough to reproduce as often as the more "fit" models.

Do you really expect to see slow cheetahs?

 

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