More Worldnutdaily Stupidity on Evolution

Joseph Farah's ignorant ravings about Tiktaalik roseae weren't the only ridiculous anti-evolution arguments in the Worldnutdaily yesterday. Ted Byfield may actually have topped Farah for sheer imbecility in this article called, with great delusion, Rebutting Darwinists. It was a response to readers who commented on an earlier article full of silliness from him. He writes:

Where, one reader demanded, did I get the information that 10 percent of scientists accept intelligent design? I got it from a National Post (newspaper) article published two years ago, which said that 90 percent of the members of the National Academy of Science "consider themselves atheists." Since if you're not an atheist, you allow for the possibility of a Mind or Intelligence behind nature, this puts 10 percent in the I.D. camp.

Uh, no. Believing in God does not put on "in the I.D. camp", not by a longshot. Many prominent anti-ID activists believe in God - Ken Miller, Howard Van Till, Wesley Elsberry, Keith Miller, Charles Austerberry, and so forth.

I could have gone further. A survey last year by Rice University, financed by the Templeton Foundation, found that about two-thirds of scientists believed in God. A poll published by Gallup in 1997 asked: Do you believe that "man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process, including man's creation?" - essentially the I.D. position. Just under 40 percent of scientists said yes. So perhaps my 10 percent was far too low.

Again, no. ID is not synonomous with theistic evolution. Indeed, the major ID advocates have made it very clear that they cannot accept theistic evolution. In response to a Howard Van Till review of his book No Free Lunch, William Dembski wrote that theistic evolution "remains intelligent design's most implacable foe. Not only does theistic evolution sign off on the naturalism that pervades so much of contemporary science, but it justifies that naturalism theologically -- as though it were unworthy of God to create by any means other than an evolutionary process that carefully conceals God's tracks." No, ID requires more than that, it requires an interventionist God. And in this article, he is even more blunt:

The answer to this question is quite simple: Design theorists are no friends of theistic evolution. As far as design theorists are concerned, theistic evolution is American evangelicalism's ill-conceived accommodation to Darwinism. What theistic evolution does is take the Darwinian picture of the biological world and baptize it, identifying this picture with the way God created life. When boiled down to its scientific content, theistic evolution is no different from atheistic evolution, accepting as it does only purposeless, naturalistic, material processes for the origin and development of life.

As far as design theorists are concerned, theistic evolution is an oxymoron, something like "purposeful purposelessness." If God purposely created life through the means proposed by Darwin, then God's purpose was to make it seem as though life was created without any purpose. According to the Darwinian picture, the natural world provides no clue that a purposeful God created life. For all we can tell, our appearance on planet earth is an accident. If it were all to happen again, we wouldn't be here. No, the heavens do not declare the glory of God, and no, God's invisible attributes are not clearly seen from God's creation. This is the upshot of theistic evolution as the design theorists construe it.

Design theorists find the "theism" in theistic evolution superfluous. Theistic evolution at best includes God as an unnecessary rider in an otherwise purely naturalistic account of life.

For the ID advocate, either God intervenes directly in the natural history of life on earth - though they never say how, when or in what manner - and leaves behind clear evidence of it, or God might as well not exist. It is emphatically not the same thing as theistic evolution. Nor is Dembski the only one who thinks so. The founder of the modern ID movement, Phillip Johnson, makes the same argument in terms just as unyielding:

I had thought that I would be able to persuade the theistic evolutionists, but that was a total failure. It wasn't until I got to know them that I learned how they think. They are guided by the principle that we're not supposed to have any disagreements with the scientific establishment over science. Everything Richard Dawkins says is perfectly right and acceptable up to the moment he says, "And therefore there is no God." If he just didn't say those last words, he would be fine. I discovered that there was a total lack of interest in evidence and in asking scientific questions. When I tried to tell them it wasn't just the "And therefore there is no God" sentence that expressed Dawkins's atheism, but his whole scientific explanation was grounded in it, they were very resentful that I even raised the objection....

Theistic evolution is the same thing as atheistic evolution with a certain amount of God-talk. They don't see any merit whatsoever in alleging that God left us some fingerprints on the evidence.

For Dembski and Johnson, the enemy is not merely evolution but naturalism. Thus Johnson can say, "The theistic evolutionists therefore unwitting serve the purposes of the scientific naturalists, by helping persuade the religious community to lower its guard against the incursion of naturalism." It simply is not true that belief in God means one accepts ID.

Two readers called my attention to a discovery last week on an Arctic island of something which may be the fossil remains of the mysteriously missing "transitional species." Or then maybe it isn't transitional. Maybe it's a hitherto undetected species on its own.

There's that silly creationist idea that paleontologists have been looking for that one "missing link" that would "prove" evolution. There are innumerable transitional species that exist. Tiktaalik is only one of a series of species that document the transition from fish to amphibian. And the last sentence is simply gibberish - of course it's a "hitherto undetected species" but that has nothing to do with whether it's a transitional form or not. But this halfwit says "maybe" it's that as though, if it was, it somehow isn't a transitional form. Sheer stupidity.

The McGill applicant was furious. Evolution, he said, needs no evidence. It's fact.

This is simply a lie. The applicant was Brian Alters, one of the witnesses in the Dover trial. If Byfield can find a quote from Alters that says that evolution "needs no evidence", I'll crawl to his house and mop his floors with my tongue. God, I get tired of these lying cretins.

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Greg Graffin at Cornell has done a detailed study of the personal beliefs of members of the national academies of science in several countries. You can find it at:
http://www.cornellevolutionproject.org/
Craig Palmer has a review of Greg's work at:
http://human-nature.com/nibbs/05/graffin.html
Not only are the top scientists in virtually all countries "naturalists" and "atheists", but some (like G. C. Williams) are actually "anti-theists." The value of Greg's work is that it provides hard empirical data that refutes the kinds of hyperbole and misrepresentation that people like Ted Byfield try to foist on a gullible public.

I got it from a National Post (newspaper) article published two years ago, which said that 90 percent of the members of the National Academy of Science "consider themselves atheists."

I'm guessing he's talking about this article, but who freaking knows. Where the author, Elizabeth Nickson, gets her information, who freaking knows too. Anyway, ID looks even dumber today than it did two years ago to your average Joe, no thanks to the hard work of people such as the proprietor of this very blog to which this comment has been posted forthwith. Thanks for taking the time to read this form letter.

I got it from a National Post (newspaper) article published two years ago, which said that 90 percent of the members of the National Academy of Science "consider themselves atheists."

I'm guessing he's talking about this article, but who freaking knows. Where the author, Elizabeth Nickson, gets her information, who freaking knows too. Anyway, ID looks even dumber today than it did two years ago to your average Joe, no thanks to the hard work of people such as the proprietor of this very blog to which this comment has been posted forthwith. Thanks for taking the time to read this form letter.

I got it from a National Post (newspaper) article published two years ago, which said that 90 percent of the members of the National Academy of Science "consider themselves atheists."

I'm guessing he's talking about this article, but who freaking knows. Where the author, Elizabeth Nickson, gets her information, who freaking knows too. Anyway, ID looks even dumber today than it did two years ago (not that that's relevant to any of Mr. Byfield's points) to your average Joe, no thanks to the hard work of people such as the proprietor of this very blog to which this comment has been posted forthwith.

Sincerely,

[Signature Here]

This is another common tactic of the right wing. They use fuzzy math statistics and poll numbers and juggle them when it suits their purposes. On one hand they'll claim that (if you add a little here, pull in this group there) they represent a majority therefore everyone should have to listen to them. Then they'll turn around and use the same data, just excluding groups (who were their supporters in the earlier example) to claim that they are a persecuted minority.

American conservatives are the only majority group that touts their majority status at the same time they claim persecuted minority status.

In this specific case, they want a majority therefore they will add anyone who believes in the invisible man in the sky (who helps you win baseball games, finds your keys, etc.), and put them in their camp. They'll grab the folks who believe in multiple invisible people in the sky, a sky force (or karma), and if they can manage to shoehorn them in, even the believers in the spagetti monster. By utilizing this, and weakening the definition of a "scientist" they go from 10%, to 40% to suggesting that they might even enjoy a 2/3 majority.

By dogmeatIB (not verified) on 16 Apr 2006 #permalink

90 percent of the members of the National Academy of Science "consider themselves atheists."

WTF? I find that claim incredible.

if you're not an atheist, you allow for the possibility of a Mind or Intelligence behind nature, this puts 10 percent in the I.D. camp.

AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

God, I get tired of these lying cretins.

Amen!

For all we can tell, our appearance on planet earth is an accident. If it were all to happen again, we wouldn't be here. No, the heavens do not declare the glory of God, and no, God's invisible attributes are not clearly seen from God's creation. This is the upshot of theistic evolution as the design theorists construe it.

And these are the guys trying to convince the rest of the US that ID is science, and not religion? Dembski sounds just like a Baptist preacher at the pulpit here, not a scientist.

No wonder those "activist judges" can see through their thin disguise.

I got it from a National Post (newspaper) article published two years ago, which said that 90 percent of the members of the National Academy of Science "consider themselves atheists."

He might be referring to this article, but who knows.

Farah may be extremely wingnutty, but his argument is the archetypal ID bait and switch. They play on many people's sympathy with what I call "basic ID", ie simply the idea that life was designed, and then extrapolate that into support for the various strands of ID proper - irreducible complexity, specified complex information, fine tuning and so on. It's amusing that while IDiots always accuse scientists of moving the goalposts on evolution, they constantly switch between basic ID and ID proper (or a particular part of ID), without any indication which they're referring to. The fact that the various strands of ID proper do not logically imply basic ID makes the move all the more dishonest.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 18 Apr 2006 #permalink