Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Very Definition of Irony

Please lower the gain on your irony-meters for this one, you might not want to replace it after you read this post.

 I was doing a little catch-up reading and caught this one over at Larry Moran's Sandwalk blog: "A refreshing admission on Uncommon Descent", without reading his post, I knew it was going to be fun.  The only sanity you get from Uncommon Descent is either unintentional or an attempt at obfuscation.  Unlike most ID Proponents, I will get to the whole article to see the context of the Uncommon Descent post.  If you aren't familiar with Uncommon Descent, it's the blog that used to belong to Wild Bill Dembski, who has since not only left the Discovery Institute fold, but a few years back he turned it over to a revolving collection of apologists.  I can't in good conscience refer to Uncommon Descent as 'UD' because here in Dayton Ohio that's the initials and common reference to one of the finest Catholic Universities in the country, the University of Dayton, and also one that teaches actual science in their biology classes.  In fact, as I mentioned in a previous post, UD doesn't even mention ID on it's website, but it does have classes on Evolution, quite a few of them in fact.

I've written about Uncommon Descent before -- a few times about how my comments on one of their posts or another magically disappears. One time it was because of something one of their posters claimed: "Creationists know more about Evolution?", which was really hilarious to read.  Another time was about something called an 'Intelligent Design (ID) Quiz', which was really nothing more than a survey and made little sense, "An Intelligent Design Quiz . . . not really" and for once my answers did make it on the site, not my direct comment, but part of another post by the 'quiz' author, who thought I was 'sneering and arrogant', (comment posted # 49).  Of course my posted response to him never found it's way onto their site, which is pretty much par for the course.  I find it funny that he asks for my opinion and because he didn't like it, I was sneering and arrogant.  But when I mention how his quiz was little more than a ploy to give those who already drank the DI's kool-aid to stroke his ego, the comment never makes it online.  Yet he was full of self-congratulations from the people who said nice things about ID, who he called thoughtful and kind.  Wonder why? 

As you can tell I have little to no respect for Uncommon Descent, whether it was under Dembski's moniker or one of the other posters.  So once I saw Larry's post, I knew it was going to be good.  I just have to post the opening paragraph from Uncommon Descent:
"Probably one of the most daunting aspects of carrying on debates either about proper critical thinking, theism vs atheism, or intelligent design and its implications is the seeming implacable nature of those we debate here and elsewhere. It most often seems that no amount of logic, evidence or even reasonable discourse makes one iota of difference to our interlocutors; however, I think this is probably because most of those who will take the time to seek our position out and criticize it on its home turf are already fully committed against such positions, and are often emotionally entrenched."(Uncommon Descent: The Benefit of Arguments at UD)
I just had to underline a couple of things to point out, and will address them, but I have to address the irony of the whole post.  If you read just this paragraph, you might not realize it was an ID proponent.  It would be easy to confuse because what you are seeing is a common DI tactic.  They take innocuous phrases and try and spin them for their own purposes.  The words sound so reasonable, but really?  Let's take a closer look.  If you read the rest of the post, William J. Murray, one of the multitude of ID apologists on Uncommon Descent, tells the story of how he 'taught' his granddaughter to a theist by telling why he was one.  Hmmm, sounds fishy to me, how about you?

I recall a book by Ann Coulter, you know the Bill O'Reilly for people who can actually read.  She decided to learn about the whole Evolution vs ID issue by visiting the Discovery Institute.  There she knelt down in front of a few of their usual talking heads and swallowed the kool-aid whole.  Now a reasonable person might have taken a little bit of time to get the scientific view from . . . oh, I don't know . . . actual working biologists, but not Coulter.  She prefers her science of the pseudo-science variety.  Why muddy up the waters with facts.  Like Coulter, Murray, isn't interested in an opposing view, so he tells his granddaughter one side and lo-and-behold, claims she's sold.  Isn't that such a cute story.

More fodder for the irony meter, his last line:
"Every once in a while it’s nice to be reminded that, sometimes, reason and evidence can actually get through to a person."(Uncommon Descent: The Benefit of Arguments at UD)
Reason and evidence? I am almost curious at what he considers reason and evidence? He does list a few things -- cosmological fine-tuning, bio-semiotics and cellular nano-technology, and also first-cause and moral arguments -- but are those things based on reason and evidence or based on wishful thinking and conjecture?  Has there been anything actually resembling evidence presents that supports a theistic position on any of those topics?  Now, remember, claiming to have evidence and actually having evidence are radically different things.

I do want to address a few of the things I underlined in the first quote: 

First of all, Critical Thinking, is the ID community really interested in Critical Thinking?  Has anyone actually seen any evidence of this?  I would like to remind everyone of one of the lines from the judicial decision from the Kitzmiller v. Dover et al:
"ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM [Intelligent Design Movement] is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID." (Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, p89)
They use the term all the time, but they really don't want people thinking critically about Intelligent Design, their idea of critical thinking is an effort to damage science education on the assumption that it would allow ID to wedge it's way into the science classroom.  So far, it's been an abject failure . . . primarily because ID proponents haven't managed to support their version of Creationism with anything but wishful thinking.

OK, next up, Theism vs Atheism.  How many times has this come up in a debate about ID, and yet people like those at Uncommon Descent keep claiming that ID is not a form of Creationism.  If that were true, then why should theism vs atheism even come up?  We all know why, because Intelligent Design is Creationism minus any specific reference to the Christian God.  Therefore any debate quickly boils down to one apologist or another defending their religious faith while trying not to use religious terms.  How many times has an ID proponent unofficially identified the 'designer' as the Christian God?  How many times have their denied their religious roots while speaking at religious meetings, organized by religious organizations, and published in the religious press?  So there is a definite 'theistic' side, but then where does the 'atheism' come in?

So here is another example where an ID proponent is using the same sort of 'evidence' they claim supports ID as the support for their religious beliefs . . . Yes, read the whole post for yourself.  An ID proponent is publicly acknowledging that his ID beliefs are based on and the basis for his religious beliefs.  I know it won't impact the DI's constant denial of their religious beliefs, but here it is, again.  And I love the head-patting and sucking up many of the commenters gave Murray.  So they obviously agree! 

Here's one part I will never be able to forgive the ID supporters, the accusation that science is in some way atheistic.  That is a lie and nothing more than another gutter level tactic. They try and sell the idea that if you support science, you are obviously an atheist.  They are trying to create an artificial binary choice as a tactic to push theists into the Creationism/ID side.  But most theists haven't bought into it.  Creationists, like the DI and the posters at Uncommon Descent, are not making much headway against not only actual scientists, but the religious groups and schools where they believe pushing their religion would be an advantage -- but major religious groups haven't bought into their snake oil.  Just check out the Clergy Letter project again to see what I am talking about, over 14,000 signatures of Christian, Jewish, Unitarian, and Buddhist clergy supporting real science over pseudo-science.

The third things I underlined, ID and it's implications.  Just what implications are they talking about?  What has the ID Movement (IDM) actually accomplished?  What implications are their for science?  So far, with the exception of a few politicians pandering for votes, exactly what has the impact of the past 20 years of the DI's marketing campaign been on science and on science education?  Pretty minimal.  They have achieved none of their goals, they have done nothing in the way of actual scientific research, and their collection of tactics and strategies relies on lies and mis-direction.

Finally, no amount of logic, evidence or even reasonable discourse, really?  Scientific theories get changed all the time.  Real scientists working in actual labs and studying biology have updated and augmented the Theory of Evolution since Darwin.  Logic and discourse are two of the tools they use regularly.  Although I have heard that the discourse isn't always considered 'reasonable', and you can always find examples of scientists who are dug in so deep it takes something like dynamite to get them to accept change, but if you look at the changes over the decades, you can see even the most entrenched 'evolutionist' has changed considerably over time.  Can Creationists say the same thing?

How different are the DI's arguments from the William Paley "Natural Theology" arguments of the early 19th century?  While the terminology is different, the basic arguments are the same.  Said of Paley's Watchmaker Analogy:
" . . . creationists revived versions of the argument to dispute the concepts of evolution and natural selection, and there was renewed interest in the watchmaker argument. They related the analogy to the "argument from design," where it was used to support arguments for the existence of God, as well as for the intelligent design of the universe." (Wikipedia: Watchmaker Analogy)
All in all, I was entertained. I hope that Murray's granddaughter takes an actual science class from a school that teaches science, not the pseudo-science that Murray appears to like so much. OK, you can re-set the gain on your irony-meters back to normal. I just didn't want to be responsible for you having to replace them . . . yet again.

No comments:

Post a Comment