Wednesday, September 16, 2015

DI's Denyse O'Leary sounds puzzled!

The Discovery Institute's Denyse O'Leary is at it again, claiming that it's not Darwin's world.  This is nothing more than a classic straw-man argument.  For those of you not sure of what that means, it's when you build a nonsensical argument, destroy it, and then claim some sort of victory.  Sorta like pseudo-voodoo, which explains Denyse perfectly.

Her latest whine "Natural Genetic Engineering? Natural Popcorn? Or Something More Important?" over on the DI's Evolution News and Views site, or is that Views and News?  Since they rarely report any actual news without putting their own spin, it's hard to tell the difference between the 'news' and the 'views'.  I wonder if Denyse also writes for Fox Pseudo-News?  Anyway, she's busy trying to marginalize Darwin once again by naming a few of the things we have hard the temerity to learn since Darwin first published.  Her straw-man is pretty obvious.  She's trying to marginalize Darwin as a key figure in the history of Biology.  She's not the only one at the DI trying this foolish tactic.  How often have various DI talking heads posted about Darwin being the root of Racism or how Darwin caused WWII.  All an effort to marginalize Darwin so they can try and slide their own pseudo-scientific ideas into a perceived vacuum.

Yes, Denyse, since 1861 the science of Biology has moved well ahead of where Darwin was.  Charles Darwin and Natural Selection is at least one chapter in any decent biology text (I would recommend 'Biology' by Ken Miller and Joe Levine), but it's not the only chapter.  It's one piece of many pieces, a key piece, but not the only piece.

Have you ever assembled a puzzle, for example one of those 1000 piece puzzles of the intricately colored garden.  You tend to work at it for hours and hours and at some point you find one particular piece and suddenly a large part of the puzzle comes together.  That's what Charles Darwin did.  He didn't finish the puzzle, but he found a piece that brought meaning to many other pieces.  Since then a great many pieces have been added by other scientists.  Unlike a puzzle, when it comes to science, you have no idea how many pieces there are or what the finished product will look like. 

Since Darwin's day there are a number of things we have learned.  First of all, there are a hell of a lot more than 1000 pieces in Biology.  We also learned that for every piece we do find, it seems to expand the puzzle as new knowledge not only answers some questions but tends to cause more questions to be asked.  Perfectly fitting pieces are pretty rare, most pieces start out quite provisionally (hypotheses) as as support builds they fit better and better (theories). 

To continue the puzzle analogy, what Denyse, and her masters at the Discovery Institute, have been trying to do is remove Darwin's piece, or pieces, in hopes that the rest of the puzzle will simply collapse.  What they have found that removing a piece isn't as simple as claiming it no longer fits, or trying to paint Darwin into roles that do not apply -- they have to be able to back that up . . . which they have failed repeatedly.  And Denyse, pointing out things that have been learned since Darwin does not diminish Darwin's contributions in any way.

One of the things they fail to understand is that their desire to remove Darwin's piece and substitute one of their own is not workable without their piece's ability to fit as precisely as Darwin's does today.  To date, their piece is like a broken tinker toy connector and they are trying to force it to fit into a 1000 piece puzzle of a garden scene.  Forcing it with school boards and politicians doesn't work, not that they will ever admit that.  What they are missing is science.  Biology has changed a lot in 150+ years, Intelligent Design arguments have not changed much since William Paley's famous use of the Watchmaker analogy.  Maybe Denyse will make more sense next time, but I expect her to meet my already low expectations.

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