Ya gotta love August

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It looks like the cover of Time magazine this week is “The Evolution Wars.” Hopefully the story will be well-informed; several reporters called NCSE for interviews and data. It has become office lore at NCSE that, while summers are quieter because schools and state legislatures are usually in recess, August can be a big exception. Regular news slows down, so reporters go fishing for “odd” stories, and evolution/creationism certainly fits the bill. Adding to the chaos this time, the director, Eugenie Scott, was off the grid in the bottom of the Grand Canyon all last week, on the semiannual NCSE Grand Canyon Float Trip. This would be the reason why she is not quoted in the copious media coverage of Bush’s comments, and why I got my 1.5 minutes of fame on the Fox News Tony Snow show yesterday.

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In a lot of respects, I find myself the Bush-defender when I’m engaged in conversations with my generally-more-democratic friends. I defend his energy bill (a bit) and a lot of his foreign policy decisions, and lament generally on the state of ... Read More

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I got my 1.5 minutes of fame on the Fox News Tony Snow

They misspelled your name.

Yeah, well, it is Fox.

Just read the article. Pretty good overall. There was a mistake talking about “Supreme Court rulings in 1982 and 1987” – the 1982 decision was the district court decision, McLean v. Arkansas.

The article goes in depth into the various antievolution tactics that are being used these days.

And, go Dave!

The new, presumably Constitution-proof way of providing coverage for communities that wish to teach ideas like intelligent design is to employ such earnest language as “critical inquiry” (in New Mexico), “strengths and weaknesses” of theories (Texas), and “critical analysis” (Ohio). It’s difficult to argue against such benign language, but hard-core defenders of Darwin are wary. “The intelligent-design people are trying to mislead people into thinking that the reference to science as an ongoing critical inquiry permits them to teach I.D. crap in the schools,” says David Thomas, president of New Mexicans for Science and Reason. On the other hand, tinkering in that way with the standards won’t necessarily weaken instruction on evolution. “Where you have strong science programs now, they’ll ignore the [state] standards,” says Bill Wagnon, a professor of history at Washburn University who represents Topeka on the Kansas school board.

That a really neat picture from www.time.com

I already dislike some of it: this stuff on the eye, for instance, has the evolutionist position full of “imagines” and mentions only the lack of fossil evidence. The strong evidence lies in the diversity of extant forms and the deep molecular homologies in both the biochemistry of photoreception and the developmental regulators of form. That is positive evidence, not the products of imagination.

Ugh. Or this bit, dueling quotes from Miller and Levine’s textbook vs. Of Pandas and People. They just throw them up without comment as if they were both legitimate examples, but the Pandas quote misrepresents the science!

It’s he-said/she-said baloney. Grow a spine, Time.

 Grow a spine, Time.

Is the problem skeletal, or in the ganglia above?

The problem is a step beyond anatomical – it’s metaphorical.

PZ Myers: just thinking, if Time had tried this sort of he-said/she-said thing with non-Religious-Right philosophies like racial equality, they’d have been accused of “political correctness”. The spin spins both ways…

– bi (http://fzort.org/bi/)

That particular side-by-side doesn’t bug me, since those are the two books at issue in Dover, Pennsylvania. And they listed the “More that 2 million copies sold” vs. the “More than 20,000 copies sold,” which is nice.

And, those two quotes accurately sum up the view each book takes. That Pandas quote from pp. 99-100 is probably the single most-quoted bit of the book, and it shows that “intelligent design” really is the same thing as progressive creationism, or Wendell Bird’s “abrupt appearance” that was employed by the creationists in the 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard case. None of this “something, somewhere was intelligently influenced”, which is the current ultravague definition the IDers are obfuscating with.

The eye thing is pretty bad, even though it’s a “web exclusive” presumably not in the print edition. I don’t think Behe’s position on the eye is accurately described (he more or less admits that the evolutionists are right about the morphological evolution), and neither is the mainstream position. The collection of eyes on the website is all tetrapods, which rather misses the point.

Perhaps some poor intern was told, “hey, get some eye pictures and make a web exclusive for us!”

The collection of eyes on the website is all tetrapods, which rather misses the point.

But once one accepts common descent for tetrapods …

More August coverage:

Creation history museum in Ozarks

I can see how the quotes could be used to argue against ID, but the point is they didn’t (unless there is something in the text). The flaws you mention need to be explicitly laid out by the journalist, or they’ll just zip right over the head of your average reader.

In the related article entitled “Can You Believe In God And Evolution?” at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/a[…]21-2,00.html Michael Behe says:

“I’m still not against Darwinian evolution on theological grounds. I’m against it on scientific grounds. I think God could have made life using apparently random mutation and natural selection. But my reading of the scientific evidence is that he did not do it that way, that there was a more active guiding.”

He begins by saying he’s against evo on scientific grounds and then proceeds to guess at how God did it… Those clearly aren’t scientific grounds. I haven’t read all of the science on the mechanisms of evolution, but I’m positive that none of it mentions God. Behe just inserted Him as a fait accompli wherever he saw fit. I saw a great quote on another blog that deserves repeating here: “If Jesus were here, he’d slap you silly!”

Did anyone see The History Channel’s “Ape to Man” last night? And was it any good?

I watched “Ape to Man.” It wasn’t too bad. As usual, clarity was sacrificed to rhetoric, but I don’t remember any glaring errors.

HPLC_Sean Wrote:

He begins by saying he’s against evo on scientific grounds and then proceeds to guess at how God did it… Those clearly aren’t scientific grounds. I haven’t read all of the science on the mechanisms of evolution, but I’m positive that none of it mentions God. Behe just inserted Him as a fait accompli wherever he saw fit.

Another quote from one of those non-scientific religious dum dums:

“I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.”

Anyone want to wager a guess at the source of this quote?

The same guy who said

“I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

Which he prefaced with

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated.

HPLC_Sean Wrote:

He begins by saying he’s against evo on scientific grounds and then proceeds to guess at how God did it… Those clearly aren’t scientific grounds.

No, as per the quote you gave, Behe begins by saying he’s “not against Darwinian evolution on theological grounds”. That is, he doesn’t find evolution inconsistent with his religious beliefs. That’s why he goes into how God might have done it – to show that he doesn’t see any inconsistency on those grounds. He of course describes things in terms of how God might have done it, because he has an unwavering conviction that God did do it, somehow. This is how it goes even with theist evolutionists, those who think that evolution is a manifestation of God’s will.

I read the print version, and was deeply disappointed. They let ID get away with murder. Suggesting that the eye or clotting cascade are IC, for example, without presenting any contrary evidence, for example. Shameful disregard for science, and it smelled like pandering. Of course most people will be comforted in their dismissal of real science as long as facts are edited to prevent their discomfiture. The only mainstream publication with the balls to even attempt a real scientific affirmation of evolution science recently has been National Geographic, and at the risk of sounding ungrateful, that was a pretty flawed piece. I’d like to see P.Z. Meyers and Carl Zimmer pair up on an article that would really anticipate and cut off some of the absurd content most mainstream journalists seem to get away with.

ts said:

No, as per the quote you gave, Behe begins by saying he’s “not against Darwinian evolution on theological grounds”. That is, he doesn’t find evolution inconsistent with his religious beliefs.

I entirely agree with you, but in the same sentence Behe said:

…I’m against it on scientific grounds.

What scientific grounds? His “…reading of the scientific evidence…” fabricates (presupposes?) active divine involvement that is clearly is not described in the literature. His “scientific grounds” are transparently theological.

What scientific grounds?

He claims it’s “irreducible complexity”. He’s irreducibly mistaken, but he isn’t addressing his purported scientific grounds in the quote you gave; he’s only saying that he thinks evolution is consistent with his theological views because mutation and natural selection could have been divine will, but he doesn’t think it happened that way, for the reasons he’s given elsewhere, which he thinks make intelligent agent intervention necessary.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on August 7, 2005 1:12 PM.

OpEd: The philosophy of intelligent design (Seattle Times) was the previous entry in this blog.

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