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More politics than science

When I posted Intelligent Design aka Christian Chauvinism, I expected to be slammed by Christians, not pseudo-scientists [who quote from books, but don’t make a point]. I am no scientist. My belief in Evolution is in same class as my belief in Big Bang, the existence of extra-terrestrial life, and Global Warming. All are so-far unproven theories, but with overwhelming scientific evidence, or simply rational thought [in the case of extra-terrestrial life] pointing to it. And of course, I don’t ignore that there is evidence pointing the other way too – but isn’t that the great thing about science?

It is not my job to research any of these theories I believe in – that’s for other people to do. Neither is it my job to convince other people of it – again, that’s for scientists to do. My belief rests not on blind faith, but well-reasoned logic in looking at both sides, and coming to a conclusion on which side I consider to have more merit. If tomorrow a respected scientist comes up with a paper that has absolutely (ideally) undeniable evidence that permanently debunks any of these theories, then the said belief will be destroyed without further notice. I put faith in evidence and proof, not rhetoric [which is what the proponents of ID rely on. All I’ve ever heard them say is “Look at all the things around us! There is no way this was a product of chance!”]

When I posted that entry, I was genuinely outraged not because I felt my scientific belief system was under attack, but because of the political ramifications of the said event taking place at a respected university. I consider it an embarrassment and an affront to have a speaker [rev Dr Dave Geisler] whose qualification is not even a basic degree in science, but a Doctor of Ministry in Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary try and discredit Evolution as valid science.

Really – what is at stake here is not science, but politics. Politics of science, maybe, but politics nonetheless. What is under siege is not the theory of evolution, but the secular values society is built on.

Otherwise, really… I don’t give a damn about whether you believe the world was created by a mushroom.

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October 12, 2007 - Posted by | Politics | , , , , ,

10 Comments »

  1. […] came across this post – More politics than science – and thought it was worth sharing. I hope you find it interesting too and take the time to read […]

    Pingback by catholic products » More politics than science | October 12, 2007 | Reply

  2. Really – what is at stake here is not science, but politics. Politics of science, maybe, but politics nonetheless. What is under siege is not the theory of evolution, but the secular values society is built on.

    I would rather talk about empirical evidence than political views because the truth is more important to me than supposed political progress. As Karl Kraus said before the Nazis came to power, “Progress will make purses out of human skin.” Given that all your arguments seem to be political in nature and you seem to believe in the myth of inevitable Progress which will be brought about by science I will reply to your political arguments.

    Yet you still say things like, “…overwhelming scientific evidence…” and so on as you make your political arguments so it’s worth pointing out that there isn’t anything overwhelming about modern Darwinian theory as specified in natural “selection”/sifting of random mutations. Empirical observation shows that mutations generally bring about small destructive changes in an organism which may temporarily help it to survive, nothing defined by the highly specified information and function typical to organisms is being gradually constructed. The fact that natural selection does not explain the origin of basic life forms has been known for over a century:

    That Darwinism is not the whole doctrine of evolution is perceived clearly enough by Mr. O’Neill, who devotes two or three opening chapters to a lucid exposition of the well known fact that Natural Selection does not explain the origin of characters. This truth has for twelve years been maintained by the editors of this journal, as well as by others, and has been epitomized in the statement that “the origin of the fittest” is the primary problem of evolution, while the “survival of the fittest“ (Darwinism) is secondary.

    (Review: The Refutation of Darwinism, and the Converse Theory of Development, Based Exclusively Upon Darwin’s Facts
    by T. Warren O’Neill
    The American Naturalist Vol. 14, No. 3 (Mar., 1880), :193) (Emphasis added)

    At any rate, your argument seems to be political and it seems that you do not care that Darwinian theory cannot be expanded into the Darwinian creation myth currently promulgated to ignorant schoolboys and the like. I.e. you seem to believe that a secular creation myth of Progress safeguards progress as we know it as well as the “secular values” which guide society to progressive views and so on, regardless of its truth. This attitude reminds me of Plato’s notion of how the masses must be manipulated by mythology. Yet the irony of your argument is that there is no evidence that a Nature based creation myth supports Western civilization and a lot of evidence that the rise of Nature based paganism rooted in such myths lies at the end of a declining civilization.

    Consider the reversion of Germany back to Nature based paganism once a belief in Nature based creation myths became widespread and note the form of science and scholarship that supported naturalistic narratives:

    The scholars whom we shall quote in such impressive numbers, like those others who were instrumental in any other part of the German pre-war and war efforts, were to a large extent people of long and high standing, university professors and academy members, some of them world famous, authors with familiar names and guest lecturers abroad…
    If the products of their research work, even apart from their rude tone, strike us as unconvincing and hollow, this weakness is due not to inferior training but to the mendacity inherent in any scholarship that overlooks or openly repudiates all moral and spiritual values and, by standing order, knows exactly its ultimate conclusions well in advance.(Hitler’s Professors: The
    Part of Scholarship in
    Germany’s Crimes Against the Jewish People
    By Max Weinreich
    (New York:The Yiddish Scientific Institute, 1946) :7) (Emphasis added)

    Your political argument is based on peculiar assumptions. Apparently you assume that the Darwinian creation myth is somehow a useful myth politically even if it may not be or cannot be verified as true empirically, yet the historical facts demonstrate that Darwinism tends to undermine secular notions of human rights. Given that Darwinian reasoning tends to blur specification, species and basic natural categories like human and animal while it also tends to an amoral focus that should not be surprising. On the other hand the American Founders grounded their documents in the fact that human rights are unalienable because there is a transcendent Intelligence which created the minds of men to reason towards and uncover self-evident truths that are evident in the Self. It’s not apparent how such values could be “under siege” by ID proponents when in fact ID comports with the same type of philosophy.

    As the philosopher David Stove notes, historically Darwinism has correlated with a failure to respect human rights for one simple reason; Darwinian reasoning itself:

    ..it is perfectly obvious that accepting Darwin’s theory of a universal struggle for life must tend to strengthen whatever tendencies people had beforehand to selfishness and domineering behavior towards their fellow humans. Hence it must tend to make them worse than they were before, and more likely to commit crimes: especially crimes of rapacity, or of cruelty, or of dominance for the sake of dominance.
    These considerations are exceedingly obvious. There was therefore never any excuse for the indignation and surprise with which Darwinians and neo-Darwinians have nearly always reacted whenever their theory is accused of being a morally subversive one. For the same reason there is, and always was, every justification for the people, beginning with Darwin’s contemporaries, who made that accusation against the theory. Darwin had done his best to separate the theory from the matrix of murderous ideas in which previously it had always been set. But in fact, since the theory says what it does, there is a limit, and a limit easily reached, to how much can be done in the way of such a separation. The Darwinian theory of evolution IS an incitement to crime: that is simply a fact.
    (Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors
    of Heredity and Other Fables of Evolution
    By David Stove :107-109)

    It’s rather ironic that you have shifted the focus away from facts, logic, empirical evidence and what is true to a political argument of social utility given that the exact opposite argument could be advanced based on logic and historical evidence.

    Comment by mynym | October 13, 2007 | Reply

  3. You know what… I am not even going to waste my time rebutting your meandering and illogical posts. 🙂

    Funnily enough, you sound a lot like whybegay, who used to post pseudo-scientific stuff about why homosexuality was not an inherent trait.

    Comment by pleinelune | October 13, 2007 | Reply

  4. I attended the talk. It was as bad as one might have expected. But the anti-ID crowd was out in force and Geisler was bombarded by plenty of hostile questions afterwards. The only public defence he got was from the moderator, who sadly seemed to be a believer in ID.

    Comment by twasher | October 14, 2007 | Reply

  5. You shouldn’t hold the fact that he didn’t have a basic science degree against him. Would you hold the fact of a lack of a basic science degree against defenders of Evolution? Of course, pointing out that more defenders of Evolution have science degrees than attackers (most of whom don’t) would be more apposite.

    I’m just going to make one comment on mynym’s long, rambling and irrelevant post: Evolution and the Origin of Life are 2 separate, though related, issues.

    Comment by Agagooga | November 15, 2007 | Reply

  6. He can defend ID without having a science degree, but what I hold against him is that he is discrediting it on a scientific basis, not a theological basis. As far as I am concerned, he is not qualified to do so in a public domain, in a talk that is packaged not as a theological/philosophical talk, but a scientific one.

    Comment by pleinelune | November 15, 2007 | Reply

  7. If I, lacking a science degree, gave a scientific talk about Evolution, would I be ‘qualified’ to do so?

    If I, lacking a theology degree, gave a theological talk, would I be ‘qualified’ to do so?

    In this the PAP is right – it’s not the man, but the message.

    Of course here the message is crap lah, but still, it’s the message.

    Comment by Agagooga | November 15, 2007 | Reply

  8. No, in both cases. In my opinion anyway, because I place some importance in credentials when someone professes to be an expert in an area and/or gives an academic talk on the subject. Otherwise, why should I place any faith in what you are saying?

    Comment by pleinelune | November 15, 2007 | Reply

  9. I would like to add, that does not mean I automatically believe what you say if you have the qualifications. Qualifications are a pre-requisite to credibility.

    Comment by pleinelune | November 15, 2007 | Reply

  10. You should place your faith in what I am saying because what I am saying is right.

    In Science (as in all disciplines I can think of), there’re disagreements. Thus, having qualifications does not automatically mean you are to be trusted, since someone else with equal qualifications may believe the opposite thing.

    The argument from authority is inductive reasoning, not deductive. Qualifications help, but they are neither necessary nor sufficient for credibility.

    Comment by Agagooga | November 16, 2007 | Reply


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