The double edge sword

| 53 Comments

Dembski, somewhat ironically, quotes from January 13th 2008 - Sheldrake exposes Dawkins as a fundamentalist pseudoskeptic which references a blog article by Rupert Sheldrake

Dawkins has of course every right to promote his religious views- in this case, the religious views of atheistic materialism, which considers evidence for presumably transcendental phenomena a mortal threat to its belief system.However, when Dawkins and people like him promote their views in the name of science, they commit labeling fraud. Dawkins may be a scientist by trade, but when he acts and argues as a fundamentalist believer in materialism, ignoring evidence that challenges his belief system, then he commands no more credibility and scientific authority than any other kind of religious believer.

I could not agree more… If Dawkins were to be promoting his (religious) views in the name of science then they are as guilty of labeling fraud and he commands no more credibility and scientific authority than any other kind of religious believer.

I doubt if Dembski appreciated the double edge sword.

53 Comments

Methinks he doth protest too much.

The irony is so rich I have to take it in small doses. Thanks PvM!

Funny how WAD comments

This sort of behavior from Dawkins cannot withstand the light of day.

The link in the block quote above no worky.

Check out Sheldrake’s website. He’s a loon who would fit in quite well at UD.

Is it me or are all the links broken?

This is off topic, so feel free to move it to the Bathroom Wall if you choose.

I just learned that Dr. Terry Mortenson from Answers in Genesis will be coming to my University to give a talk titled “Origin of Species: Was Darwin Right?” It doesn’t say, but somehow I just know what answer he is going to give. The flyer states that the talk is presented by AIG and the Creation Museum.

All I can find out about this guy is that he is a YEC with a degree in Divinity and supposedly a Ph.D. in the History of Geology. I presume that he will argue that the earth is less than 10,000 years old and that therefore Darwin was wrong.

If anyone has any experience with this guy, please let me know what to expect.

The first link in the post is 404, and the loon’s name is Rupert Sheldrake.

Open mouth, insert large Intelligently Designed foot.

Dawkins may be a scientist by trade, but when he acts and argues as a fundamentalist believer in materialism, ignoring evidence that challenges his belief system, then he commands no more credibility and scientific authority than any other kind of religious believer.

Er, what evidence that “challenges his belief system”?? (Or am I being picky?)

Am I reading that right… Rupert Sheldrake is claiming to be a judge of the credibility of others?

Did somebody declare today International Day of the Bellowing Loon and forget to tell us? I feel so left out.

Vaccinations were invented by aliens in order to enslave us all to the widget metabolizer!

There. All better now.

OK, went over to UD and found the article. WAD doesn’t link directly to Sheldrake’s blog, but to a site called “Suppressed Science” who seem to be even loonier than Sheldrake – crop circles, AIDS denialism, you name it, it all seems to be there.

Billy Dumbstruck has no discrimination at all about who he cites in support(?) of his position. What a pathetic joke he is. What flocks these birds-of-a-feather together is the usual excuse of the crank: “The dogmatic Scientific Establishment is suppressing us!”

That is a GREAT LINK and quite hilarious (and scary at the same time). @ Dave Stanton - I think you will find everything you need there! :-)

Wikipedia:

His book, A New Science of Life, was published a week after the New Scientist article. In it, Sheldrake put forward the hypothesis of formative causation (the theory of morphic resonance)[6], which proposes that phenomena — particularly biological ones — become more probable the more often they occur, and therefore that biological growth and behaviour become guided into patterns laid down by previous similar events. He suggested that this underlies many aspects of science, from evolution to laws of nature. Indeed, he wrote that the laws of nature might be thought of as mutable habits that have evolved since the Big Bang.

Not seeing why anyone would quote this guy Sheldrake or pay any attention to him.

He believes in morphic fields. That the more often something occurs, the more often it will occur in the future. In ESP particularly telepathy.

It is all pseudoscientific magical thinking without a shred of proof.

James Randi has a large cash prize for anyone who can demonstrate paranormal talents. Why hasn’t Sheldrake showed up and collected his million dollars for a few hours work?

Who is Dembski going to quote next. Art Bell. The World Weekly News, National Enquirer, Ann Coulter. Among kooks, polykookery is more common than not.

Looks like Dembski has found his rightful place in the intellectual fabric of the USA. The Lunatic Fringe with Bigfoot, UFOs, alien abductions, and Leprechauns. Smart move.

dhogaza,

Thanks so much. Now I know exactly what to expect. Classical YEC: earth 6,000 years old; dinosaurs on the ark; were you there; flood moved the continents; flood produced all fossils; dinosaurs are still alive; science is religion; etc. etc. etc. This guy sings a real loony tune.

Now I wonder why someone with a Ph.D. in the History of Geology would presume to know more about biology than any biologist or more about palentology than any palentologist and more about radioactive decay than any physicist?

David Stanton:

I just learned that Dr. Terry Mortenson from Answers in Genesis will be coming to my University to give a talk titled “Origin of Species: Was Darwin Right?” It doesn’t say, but somehow I just know what answer he is going to give. The flyer states that the talk is presented by AIG and the Creation Museum.

All I can find out about this guy is that he is a YEC with a degree in Divinity and supposedly a Ph.D. in the History of Geology. I presume that he will argue that the earth is less than 10,000 years old and that therefore Darwin was wrong.

If anyone has any experience with this guy, please let me know what to expect.

We had Mortenson on our campus a few years back - he was brought in through Student Life as a guest speaker for our daily chapel services. I attended his talk, and your analysis above is correct. It will be the usual YEC / AiG tripe. You can see AiG’s response about his visit here:

http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/a[…]life-at-aig/

scroll down a bit and you’ll see the relevant discussion.

As an ad-hoc response we got one of our geologists and a religious studies prof to speak in chapel the very next day. Our campus was also picketed for quite a while by one local man as a result - accusing us of denying the authority of Genesis.

David Stanton — I’ve never heard of a Ph.D. in ‘the History of Geology’. Might check what institution awarded this degree?

Henry J:

Er, what evidence that “challenges his belief system”?? (Or am I being picky?)

Yes, and you should. What evidence, indeed…

Ha! This is great. And as tribute to it I now make the following ironic condemnation:

People who comment on blogs are not to be trusted.

Eamon Knight said: OK, went over to UD and found the article. WAD doesn’t link directly to Sheldrake’s blog, but to a site called “Suppressed Science” who seem to be even loonier than Sheldrake – crop circles, AIDS denialism, you name it, it all seems to be there.

Billy Dumbstruck has no discrimination at all about who he cites in support(?) of his position. What a pathetic joke he is. What flocks these birds-of-a-feather together is the usual excuse of the crank: “The dogmatic Scientific Establishment is suppressing us!”

Keep in mind William Dembski, PhD., is on record claiming Angels are real and they live amongst us (in an invisible reality so to speak) and he’s also on record for advocating the Bible Code(s). He was even asked on UD if he still believed in the Bible Codes, he ignored the question.

Dembski is just plain dumb. He’s living proof that you can be dumb and still collect college degrees. I suppose that represents hope for some people.

Mortensen’s degree is from Coventry University, which appears to be accredited as some sort of engineering school. I’m not seeing a “History of Geology” degree on offer anywhere, either.

http://www.coventry.ac.uk/cu/engine[…]ng/be/a/1088

…which considers evidence for presumably transcendental phenomena a mortal threat to its belief system.

What evidence for transcendental phenomena? Was I asleep when angel Garbriel showed up and announced the end of the world. Demons seen flying around the white house? Dembski projectile vomiting during an unsuccessful exorcism attempt?

Or did Dembski merely discover that if you divide the circumference of a circle by its diamter it exactly equals pi? Such a result couldn’t be coincidence, must mean something.

No one in 2,000 years has been able to prove the existence or nonexistence of god. Even Dawkins doesn’t claim this, he just says he thinks it is very unlikely.

A “History of Geology” degree would be a degree from a history department. There is a sub-discipline of geology known as historical geology, but it is not known as “History of Geology”

gabriel:

Mortensen’s degree is from Coventry University, which appears to be accredited as some sort of engineering school. I’m not seeing a “History of Geology” degree on offer anywhere, either.

http://www.coventry.ac.uk/cu/engine[…]ng/be/a/1088

Checking the c.v. claim of

1996, Ph.D. in history of geology, Coventry University, UK

it seems that (at least currently) Conventry U. does not offer a Ph.D. in History nor in Geology.

Eamon Knight:

What flocks these birds-of-a-feather together is the usual excuse of the crank: “The dogmatic Scientific Establishment is suppressing us!”

“Oh, what a giveaway. Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That’s what I’m on about! Did you see him repressing me? You saw it, didn’t you?”

“ooh, ooh, I’m repressed, I’m repressed!”

Let’s see now -

However, when Dembski and people like him promote their views in the name of science, they commit labeling fraud. Dembski may be a mathmatician by trade, but when he acts and argues as a fundamentalist believer in his religion, ignoring evidence that challenges his belief system, then he commands no more credibility and scientific authority than any other kind of religious believer.

There, that seem about right. As for Mortenson, I guess I can always ask him if he believes in ID and if he agrees with Behe and Dembski about the age of the earth and common descent. The big tent might get a little stretched.

The University of Coventry is certainly a lot more than “some sort of engineering school”! It’s a fully accredited university in the English midlands, which does offer postgraduate qualifications in History (see the history department’s page for postgraduate study). There are taught Masters and Masters by research. PhDs are not shown as being offered, as any suitably qualified tutor in an accredited research institution in the UK can supervise a PhD, so it’s entirely plausible that Mortensen obtained his PhD from a respectable English university.

A more pertinent question, perhaps, would be to ask who supervised it…

Coventry is a perfectly respectable institution, albeit not one of the best universities in the country. It’s a former Polytechnic. It used to have a pretty good centre for Quaternary geology, with the late David Keen, Alastair Dawson and others. It got shut down for funding reasons, but a few people still linger on I think. Mortensen wouldn’t have had anything to do with this, but I’m confident that he obtained his degree perfectly legitimately. Whether or not his particular version of the history of geology has any merit is another matter. A while back I consulted the epic Bursting the Limits of Time by Martin Rudwick and he didn’t reference Mortensen.

Once again, Dumbski tries to revive the tired old “facing reality is a religion too” argument…

Dawkins has … the religious views of atheistic materialism, which considers evidence for presumably transcendental phenomena a mortal threat to its belief system.

Which, in fact, it would be…if such evidence were ever found to exist. Has Dembski presented any?

However, when Dawkins and people like him promote their views in the name of science, they commit labeling fraud.

Right – when Dawkins says, in the name of science, that methodological materialism, and the scientific method of inquiry, are central to science, he’s committing fraud. The noise in Dembski’s head is starting to bother me.

Dawkins may be a scientist by trade, but when he acts and argues as a fundamentalist believer in materialism…

How can one be “a scientist by trade” and NOT “argue as a believer in materialism?” They kinda go together. (And don’t even get me started on the difference between “belief” and “observation,” which Dembski consistently ignores.)

…ignoring evidence that challenges his belief system…

Does Dembski specify which such evidence Dawkins ignores? There’s plenty of SUBJECTIVE evidence that challenges his belief system, but subjective evidence doesn’t cut it in science. (And if Dembski were to start accepting it, his own belief system would crumble long before Dawkins’ did.)

…then he commands no more credibility and scientific authority than any other kind of religious believer.

Sorry, dude, but your premises don’t stand, so your dramatic-sounding conclusion is nothing but drama.

Modern people are amazing. We learn how to regurgitate the often repeated experts all-knowing facts (though often theory at best) then talk intelligently as if we actually know the facts. Many American minds closed a long time ago; it seems part of values neutral materialist or secularist training. So it is not too astounding when many mindlessly disregard both evidence and the possibility of non-concrete reality. After preachers of evolutionary dogma must have many true believers. Their offering ($$$) plates are just of a different kind.

I too read Sheldrake’s blog and some of his books. He follows a long line of European scientists who believed all phenomena, including the paranormal, should be studied with the same scientific scrutiny as any hypothesis. Not until the last 10-15 years have they dared threaten their livelihoods by actually doing so. The dictatorial and highly sensitive to corporate and government funding evolutionary establishment has suppressed much of the adventure of scientific discovery.

Those who dislike Sheldrake’s openness to the paranormal would not like Newton, Einstein, Fred Hoyle, Henry Margenau, David Bohm, Michael Persinger, etc. All of them either studied or included the paranormal (God, transcendence…) in their scientific quests.

As far as I can see, paranormal phenomena have indeed been studied, by qualified scientists, whose results were duly published. The thumping lack of evidential indication that it exists gradually led to such work falling out of vogue. Not any sort of suppression. But what can anyone who believes in ESP say, when genuine dedicated research failed to find any? That their beliefs are wrong? Believers do not admit error. So it must be a conspiracy, or everyone else’s mind must be closed.

The general creationist pattern of giving lip service to “evidence” while at the same time showing no real recognition for what it IS, continues predictably. And so we see the claim that “materialists” are ignoring the evidence, but no supporting evidence is ever provided. Just say the WORDS, and they come true according to the Religious Method Of Knowledge.

So, they couldn’t convince anyone that ID/Creationism is science, so they have moved on to trying to paint MET/Atheism as religion. That kind of proves that it was never about science at all. Not that further proof was needed.

I too read Sheldrake’s blog and some of his books. He follows a long line of European scientists who believed all phenomena, including the paranormal, should be studied with the same scientific scrutiny as any hypothesis.

ESP and paranormal phenomena have been studied for centuries. The result has been absolutely zero proof of either. Duke university had and maybe still has the Rhine laboratory dedicated to ESP.

Scientists generally discard a field after it fails a few thousand experiments. No point in wasting time on falsified hypothesis. Time and money are limited and there are far better ways to spend both.

We no longer accept the Demon theory of mental illness, the bad humors theory of disease, the Apollo Helios theory of the sunrise and sunset, ESP, astrology, magic, fairies, or creationism.

The burden of proof is on these fields to demonstrate that they exist and explain anything. After a few centuries, we are still waiting. James Randi has a prize of near a million bucks for anyone who can demonstrate paranormal phenomena. No one has been able to collect it.

The difference between pseudoscientific nonsense such as creationism or ESP and science is obvious.

Science works.

Eveytime you drive your car, operate a radio, TV or microwave, log onto the internet, fly in a plane, go to the store for food, visit a doctor, don’t die of some ancient preventable disease, science is behind it.

You don’t even have to believe in science and can hate and fear scientists. Doesn’t matter, it still works. Reality doesn’t care what you think.

Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews:

The University of Coventry is certainly a lot more than “some sort of engineering school”! It’s a fully accredited university in the English midlands, which does offer postgraduate qualifications in History (see the history department’s page for postgraduate study). There are taught Masters and Masters by research. PhDs are not shown as being offered, as any suitably qualified tutor in an accredited research institution in the UK can supervise a PhD, so it’s entirely plausible that Mortensen obtained his PhD from a respectable English university.

Thanks, but is not the result a PhD in History, rather than PhD in History of Geology? Or are such matters so very different in Britain?

David B. Benson: Thanks, but is not the result a PhD in History, rather than PhD in History of Geology? Or are such matters so very different in Britain?

It’s been several decades (!) since I’ve had much to do with universities in the UK, but it used to be that you just got a PhD, not a PhD in anything.

Raven said…Looks like Dembski has found his rightful place in the intellectual fabric of the USA. The Lunatic Fringe with Bigfoot, UFOs, alien abductions, and Leprechauns. Smart move.

Now I resemble that! I was abducted by alien bigfoots wearing Leprechaun suits that flew in big green cigar shaped ships that have their base at the bottom of the Dragons Triangle.

Now I resemble that! I was abducted by alien bigfoots wearing Leprechaun suits that flew in big green cigar shaped ships that have their base at the bottom of the Dragons Triangle.

You forgot the black helicopters. ;)

Henry

Those who dislike Sheldrake’s openness to the paranormal would not like Newton, Einstein, Fred Hoyle, Henry Margenau, David Bohm, Michael Persinger, etc. All of them either studied or included the paranormal (God, transcendence…) in their scientific quests.

This morning I decided to “study and include” an invisible pink unicorn, ESP, and the ghost of L Ron Hubbard in my quest to toast a bagel. When I got done, I had a nicely toasted bagel. It tasted.…transcendental.

Mmmmmm.…..materialicious.….gggggggg.….

Those who dislike Sheldrake’s openness to the paranormal would not like Newton, Einstein, Fred Hoyle, Henry Margenau, David Bohm, Michael Persinger, etc. All of them either studied or included the paranormal (God, transcendence…) in their scientific quests.

This morning I decided to “study and include” an invisible pink unicorn and the ghost of L Ron Hubbard in my quest to toast a bagel. When I got done, I had a nicely toasted bagel. It tasted.…transcendental.

Mmmmmm.…..materialicious.….gggggggg.….

Hmmm, double post. Your materialistic theories, and their pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories, cannot explain why that happened. Therefore goddidit, not me.

Regarding Terry Mortenson, his thesis is listed on the Coventry University library website at.

http://libms.coventry.ac.uk/F/YJFCS[…]umber=004031

The title is “British scriptural geologists in the first half of the nineteenth century” so history of geology wouldn’t be a bad description of the general subject but could be misleading if taken as meaning geology itself was his main subject. There is no mention of who the supervisor was but the title suggests to me this was from the history department rather than geology.

Incidentally falsely claiming to have a degree from a British University is considered fraud. Not that Dr Mortenson has done that but if you have any other doubtful characters making such claims it may be worth checking them out.

Matt wrote:

“The title is “British scriptural geologists in the first half of the nineteenth century”…”

So this guy doesn’t necessarily know anything about history, geology, palentology or biology. All he did was study some old geologists who turned out to be completely wrong. He might be able to give biographical data on them, he may even be able to say what they believed (or at least professed to believe). But how does this in any way qualify him to hold a meaningful opinion on any scientific issue?

Perhaps he should publish a paper on scriptural geologists of the first half of the twenty first century. I think the list would be much shorter. In fact, they would probably all work in the same building he does and probably do exactly the same thing. Oh well, at least then he might start to think about publishing a paper on the evidence responsibe for the change.

David Stanton:

Oh well, at least then he might start to think about publishing a paper on the evidence responsibe for the change.

Highly unlikely, I think

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not defending Mortenson. I was concerned by the idea that a well respected university like Coventry might also be a diploma mill for creationists so I did what digging I could and came to the tentative conclusion that he is misrepresenting what the PhD was about rather that the university awarding it wrongly.

Just sent this email to Coventry (Grad Studies) We’ll see if I get a response.

Greetings from Canada. I am not sure to whom this request should be directed, but I would appreciate any assistance you may be able to provide.

I am writing to obtain some background information on one of your graduates, Dr. Terry Mortenson (Ph.D. 1996). Dr. Mortenson visited our campus in 2006 as a representative of an American Young-Earth Creationist organization called Answers in Genesis (he came at the request of one of our students). Dr. Mortenson lectured on topics such as the fossil record and the age of the earth with the intent of disparaging the scientific consensus that the earth is old, that evolution is well supported, et cetera. Dr. Mortenson also called the Christian faith of several of my colleagues into question because they did not agree with his views.

Dr. Mortenson touted his “Ph.D. in the History of Geology” from Coventry throughout his time here. I admit that I am not overly familiar with the nature of your institution. I am curious about your institution’s views on Dr. Mortenson’s actions (or perhaps the view from the department he received his Ph.D. from). Specifically: is it the view of the Geology Department at Coventry that the universe and earth are 6000 years old? That radiometric isochron dating techniques are fundamentally flawed and inaccurate? That geological strata as presently observed support the conjecture that they were laid down rapidly as the result of a worldwide flood less than 6000 years ago? That dinosaurs and anatomically modern humans co-existed?

If not, is your institution (or the relevant department) willing to issue a public statement that clarifies your understanding of these topics vis a vis the actions of Dr. Mortenson?

You may view Dr. Mortenson’s biography and a selection of his post-Ph.D. writings here:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/hom[…]ortenson.asp

A commentary from Dr. Mortenson about his time at our institution can be found here (scroll down to “How Christian are many Christian Universities?”):

http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/a[…]life-at-aig/

I appreciate your assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dennis R. Venema, Ph.D.

Chair, Biology Dept.

Trinity Western University

7600 Glover Road

Langley, B.C. Canada

V2Y 1Y1

Those who dislike Sheldrake’s openness to the paranormal would not like Newton, Einstein, Fred Hoyle, Henry Margenau, David Bohm, Michael Persinger, etc. All of them either studied or included the paranormal (God, transcendence…) in their scientific quests.

I chuckle when the anti-evolution side cites Einstein as a scientist believer. It shows that they have no meaningful knowledge of Einstein’s views on religion. In short, that which Einstein called “God” would not be so recognized by any of these folks.

Well I just got back from the Mortenson talk. Thanks to all who helped me prepare. I thought it went pretty well. He pulled out all the same old YEC arguments and threw in Haeckel as a bonus.

He said that evolution predicted a tree of life with all life forms related to a common ancestor and that creationism predicted a forest of life with separate origins for all major groups. I asked him to explain the nested hierarchy of genetic similarities between the major groups and he had no answer. I pointed out that this was a prediction of the tree of life scenario and falsified his forest of life hypothesis and he still had no answer.

He tried to change the subject to whale evolution and claimed that there were no intermediate forms so I pointed out that he needed to update his slides to include the intermediates that have been discovered in the last twenty years. He could also not explain the shared retroviral transpositions between hippos and cetaceans. The guy was clearly ignorant about all of genetics, big surprise.

Anyway, I doubt I convinced anyone, but then again I doubt he did either. Thanks again to all those who provided information.

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 1, column 116, byte 116 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

“Reality doesn’t care what you think.”

I so want that on a T-shirt! Oh, and Ben, I don’t see how can you have an invisible pink unicorn. Or am I just thinking too materialistically? ;P

Did you get an answer on this? He is in Holland at this moment!

gabriel said:

Just sent this email to Coventry (Grad Studies) We’ll see if I get a response.

Greetings from Canada. I am not sure to whom this request should be directed, but I would appreciate any assistance you may be able to provide.

I am writing to obtain some background information on one of your graduates, Dr. Terry Mortenson (Ph.D. 1996). Dr. Mortenson visited our campus in 2006 as a representative of an American Young-Earth Creationist organization called Answers in Genesis (he came at the request of one of our students). Dr. Mortenson lectured on topics such as the fossil record and the age of the earth with the intent of disparaging the scientific consensus that the earth is old, that evolution is well supported, et cetera. Dr. Mortenson also called the Christian faith of several of my colleagues into question because they did not agree with his views.

Dr. Mortenson touted his “Ph.D. in the History of Geology” from Coventry throughout his time here. I admit that I am not overly familiar with the nature of your institution. I am curious about your institution’s views on Dr. Mortenson’s actions (or perhaps the view from the department he received his Ph.D. from). Specifically: is it the view of the Geology Department at Coventry that the universe and earth are 6000 years old? That radiometric isochron dating techniques are fundamentally flawed and inaccurate? That geological strata as presently observed support the conjecture that they were laid down rapidly as the result of a worldwide flood less than 6000 years ago? That dinosaurs and anatomically modern humans co-existed?

If not, is your institution (or the relevant department) willing to issue a public statement that clarifies your understanding of these topics vis a vis the actions of Dr. Mortenson?

You may view Dr. Mortenson’s biography and a selection of his post-Ph.D. writings here:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/hom[…]ortenson.asp

A commentary from Dr. Mortenson about his time at our institution can be found here (scroll down to “How Christian are many Christian Universities?”):

http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/a[…]life-at-aig/

I appreciate your assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dennis R. Venema, Ph.D.

Chair, Biology Dept.

Trinity Western University

7600 Glover Road

Langley, B.C. Canada

V2Y 1Y1

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on February 6, 2008 1:32 PM.

Good signage at Tangled Bank #98 was the previous entry in this blog.

My Comment on the Petition in Support of Florida’s Proposed New Science Standards is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter