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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Ideological Crusades

"When militant Darwinists such as Richard Dawkins claims, "The theory is about as much in doubt as the earth goes round the sun" [The Selfish Gene, 1], he does not state a fact but merely aims to discredit a priori anyone who dares to express reservations about evolution. Indeed, Dawkins has written, "It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane" [Review of Blueprints, 34].

Eric Hoffer would have treasured these statements had they been available when he wrote The True Believer (1951). Worse yet, Dawkins knows the many serious problems that beset a purely materialistic evolutionary theory, but asserts that no one except true believers in evolution can be allowed into the discussion, which must be held in secret. Thus he chastises Niles Eldredge and Stephen J. Gould, two distinguished fellow Darwinians, for giving "spurious aid and comfort to modern creationists" [The Blind Watchmaker, 241, 251]. Dawkins believes that, regardless of his or her good intentions, "if a reputable scholar breathes so much as a hint of criticism of some detail of Darwinian theory, that fact is seized upon and blown up out of proportion." Dawkins views have been widely shared.

Consequently, while acknowledging that "the extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record" is a major embarrassment for Darwinianism, Gould confided that this has been held as a "trade secret of paleontology," and acknowledged that the evolutionary diagrams "that adorn our textbooks" are bases on "inference, ...not the evidence of fossils" [The Panda's Thumb, 181]. Indeed, according to Steven Stanley, another distinguished evolutionist, doubts raised by this problem with the fossil record were "surpressed" for years [The New Evolutionary Timetable, 104]. Stanely noted that this, too, was a tactic begun by Huxley, who was always careful not to reveal his own serious misgiving in public. As Eldridge summed up, "We paleontologists have said that the history of life supports [the principle of gradual transformation of species], all the while really knowing that it does not [Time Frames, 145]. This is not how science is conducted; it is how ideological crusades are run." Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of Slavery (pgs. 177, 178)

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9 Comments:

Blogger Dman said...

Fred,

When Dawkins claims that there is about as much doubt about the general fact about evolution as there is about heliocentrism, he's right. By this point, evolution is a given in the biological sciences, much as atoms are a given in chemistry and nuclear physics. Virtually 100% of scientists in the relevant fields accept that populations of organisms evolve and share common ancestry. Whether you believe they're correct about that or not, there's definitely a consensus.

I also agree with Dawkins about what some scientists say about evolution, and being careful of words. Creationists are notorious for quote mining. Nothing is "held in secret" in science - Dawkins is warning fellow scientists to choose their words to the public wisely, because creationists will seize any chance they can to twist things out of context. I've seen this over and over.

Your stuff about Gould and Eldridge is also misleading. They were the formulators of the idea evolution can sometimes proceed in fits and starts, not always gradually, as had been assumed. Your last quote by Eldridge is his opinion about the mode and tempo of evolution. He's not saying evolution doesn't happen.

As for Gould and his "extreme rarity of transitional forms", he's talking at the species level - which is part of what led him to the punctuated equilibrium theory. Since you like quotes, here's another one by Gould:

"“Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists — whether through design or stupidity, I do not know — as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups.” [Hen's Teeth and Horses Toes, 260]

One more point. Fossils are a teeny, tiny part of the evidence for evolution. We're lucky to have them at all. Even if we had NONE, we'd still know that living organisms evolve and share common ancestry.

7:47 AM, October 07, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Profile Not Available writes,

When Dawkins claims that there is about as much doubt about the general fact about evolution as there is about heliocentrism, he's right. By this point, evolution is a given in the biological sciences, much as atoms are a given in chemistry and nuclear physics. Virtually 100% of scientists in the relevant fields accept that populations of organisms evolve and share common ancestry. Whether you believe they're correct about that or not, there's definitely a consensus.

The operative words here are “populations of organisms.” Populations change and adapt to their environmental changes, or selective breading, etc. Biblical creations are quite emphatic that we believe God has designed His creation to thrive and survive on the earth. There is no debate here. In this sense, there is common ancestry within a created kind. The debate is with the ability of one population to change into an entirely different population over periods of vast amounts of deep time. For example, dinosaurs becoming avian.

continuing,

I also agree with Dawkins about what some scientists say about evolution, and being careful of words. Creationists are notorious for quote mining. Nothing is "held in secret" in science - Dawkins is warning fellow scientists to choose their words to the public wisely, because creationists will seize any chance they can to twist things out of context. I've seen this over and over.

Yes. Good magicians wisely do not tell the common person how he did the tricks. But the scientific community is more along the lines of Gnostic occultists, who withhold the facts from the public and are bothered when one of their “anointed” reveal those problems.

Continuing,

Your stuff about Gould and Eldridge is also misleading. They were the formulators of the idea evolution can sometimes proceed in fits and starts, not always gradually, as had been assumed. Your last quote by Eldridge is his opinion about the mode and tempo of evolution. He's not saying evolution doesn't happen.

First, it’s not my stuff. I am citing from an historian. But never the less, Gould and Eldridge adhere to a minority position regarding evolution. They are pitting their version (i.e., interpretation of the evidence) against the standard model. The citation never said Eldridge in saying evolution is not happening, but merely pointing out that he is revealing a trade secret, one that is extremely problematic for the standard evolutionary worldview.

Citing from Gould,
"“Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists — whether through design or stupidity, I do not know — as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups.” [Hen's Teeth and Horses Toes, 260]

Creationists don’t have a problem with transitional fossils within groups. If by species level, Gould means dinosaurs to avians, crabs to spiders, etc. there is no argument. I expect such.

Even if we had NONE, we'd still know that living organisms evolve and share common ancestry.

Or a common designer. But I imagine your dislike of God as sovereign creator prevents you from entertaining the thought.

9:06 AM, October 07, 2010  
Blogger Dman said...

The operative words here are “populations of organisms.” Populations change and adapt to their environmental changes, or selective breading, etc. Biblical creations are quite emphatic that we believe God has designed His creation to thrive and survive on the earth. There is no debate here. In this sense, there is common ancestry within a created kind. The debate is with the ability of one population to change into an entirely different population over periods of vast amounts of deep time. For example, dinosaurs becoming avian.

Could you tell me some of the created kinds? How much different does a population have to be to be 'entirely different'?

Yes. Good magicians wisely do not tell the common person how he did the tricks. But the scientific community is more along the lines of Gnostic occultists, who withhold the facts from the public and are bothered when one of their “anointed” reveal those problems.

Oh, this is silly. Anyone can subscribe to journals to see the published research. I can go to my local university library where they have complete archives of dozens of journals for free. What do you think they teach in university?

First, it’s not my stuff. I am citing from an historian. But never the less, Gould and Eldridge adhere to a minority position regarding evolution. They are pitting their version (i.e., interpretation of the evidence) against the standard model. The citation never said Eldridge in saying evolution is not happening, but merely pointing out that he is revealing a trade secret, one that is extremely problematic for the standard evolutionary worldview.

But it's not problematic for the existence of evolution. Where are you getting that? Paleontologists all know evolution occurs. Again, this about details of how evolution happens, not whether.

Creationists don’t have a problem with transitional fossils within groups. If by species level, Gould means dinosaurs to avians, crabs to spiders, etc. there is no argument. I expect such.

I've read this several times and I'm not sure what you mean. I thought you rejected dinosaurs to birds?

Or a common designer.

Could be both. *shrug*

9:43 AM, October 07, 2010  
Blogger RealityCheck said...

“dislike of God as sovereign creator prevents you from entertaining the thought”

Bingo Fred, that’s really what it’s all about. As Richard Lewontin (to do a little quote mining of my own) made so clear when he said:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.”

11:36 AM, October 07, 2010  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks for this post, Fred.

12:47 PM, October 07, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Dman asks,
Could you tell me some of the created kinds? How much different does a population have to be to be 'entirely different'?

Dog kinds, cat kinds, whale kinds, etc. There is an entire group of biologists who join together annually to discuss these things. As for the question for how different must a population have to be to be entirely different here is a brief definition

I wrote,

Yes. Good magicians wisely do not tell the common person how he did the tricks. But the scientific community is more along the lines of Gnostic occultists, who withhold the facts from the public and are bothered when one of their “anointed” reveal those problems.

Dman responds,

Oh, this is silly. Anyone can subscribe to journals to see the published research. I can go to my local university library where they have complete archives of dozens of journals for free. What do you think they teach in university?

And I can go to mine as well and read the same journals. Doesn't disprove my comment. There exists a self-anointed priest class of an infallible scientific magisterium. Any dissenters who raise objections to their fundamental principles are met with cruelty and the ruination of his or her scientific career. The keepers of the scientism deny this happens at all, but that just demonstrates how willfully blind they are by their own propaganda.

Dman states,
But it's not problematic for the existence of evolution. Where are you getting that? Paleontologists all know evolution occurs. Again, this about details of how evolution happens, not whether.

You don't think the complete absence of transitional fossils is problematic? Really? Again, if by evolution you mean changes within groups of related animals to adapt to their environment or whatever, I agree with the details. Evolution in the style of bacteria-to-Bach is what is in question here.

Dman asks,
I've read this several times and I'm not sure what you mean. I thought you rejected dinosaurs to birds?

Forgive me for not being clear. I'll try again. I expect transitional fossils among related animals. For example, two horned ceratopsids, no horned ceratopsids, multi-horned ceratopsids. There won't be transitional fossils between big T-rex and emperor penguin.

Rather than common ancestor, I suggested, Or a common designer.

Dman responds,
Could be both. *shrug*
But God specifically told us how he created and what he created. Again, I don't have a problem with "common ancestry" among ceratopsids. I do have a problem with "common ancestry" with monkeys and men. That is because God specifically made man a special creation apart from all other creatures in His created world.

6:53 AM, October 08, 2010  
Blogger RealityCheck said...

Oh but Fred,

The universities say so… the journals say so. It’s not like these universities or journals are run by and written by human beings with biases. It’s not like it’s up to interpretation that these biases could have an impact on… no no no… when it comes to evolution… don’t you know Fred… it’s a fact… with no bias at all.

I mean just because we “creationists” can demonstrate the bias it doesn’t mean that it actually exist.

Pretty hard not to have, “none so blind as those who will not see”, come to mind… huh?

9:06 AM, October 08, 2010  
Blogger Sir Aaron said...

I love the heliocentrism example. Because it was "science" that actually slowed the acceptance of heliocentrism.

11:43 AM, October 08, 2010  
Blogger Dman said...

I'm still unsure what a kind is, actually. You name dogs, cats, and whales. If you asked me to name three more kinds, I'm not sure I could do it, because I still don't know the criteria. The link given is something I've seen before. If animals can hybridize they're the same kind (that also usually makes them the same species too). If they can't hybridize, they may or may not be the same kind - so not much help there. Might dogs, cats, and whales all be part of the Mammal kind?

There exists a self-anointed priest class of an infallible scientific magisterium. Any dissenters who raise objections to their fundamental principles are met with cruelty and the ruination of his or her scientific career. The keepers of the scientism deny this happens at all, but that just demonstrates how willfully blind they are by their own propaganda.

I'm sorry, but I don't agree with this characterization at all. Science thrives on dissent. Scientists get into these geek fights over evidence and interpretation all the time. That's how it moves forward. It's funny, but one of the common creationist criticisms I hear is that science can't be trusted because it changes and revises its theories...how can that be if there's an infallible priest class that has everything on lockdown?

You don't think the complete absence of transitional fossils is problematic? Really? Again, if by evolution you mean changes within groups of related animals to adapt to their environment or whatever, I agree with the details. Evolution in the style of bacteria-to-Bach is what is in question here.

But you don't think there's a complete absence of them. You're fine with transitionals within groups of related animals...what these groups are though seems to be difficult to define.

But God specifically told us how he created and what he created....That is because God specifically made man a special creation apart from all other creatures in His created world.

Well, if God created without evolution (and there's certainly no consensus about bible believers that that's the case..) then he or she seems to have gone to great lengths to make it look like evolution has occured. That's about all I can say. If God exists and is the ultimate designer/planner of everything, does it really matter how the design is effected?

1:34 PM, October 08, 2010  

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