Friday, January 13, 2006

The typical Evolution Apologist

I, Evolution Apologist.

That is what David Carlisle calls me in a post in response to
my entry on Dawkins' TV series Root of all Evil and the Intelligent Design issue. Yes, it's official, if you accept that evolutionary biology is a valid scientific theory, then in the eyes of Carlisle, you're an Evolution Apologist... You'll find the entire text here.

What Carlisle has to say about ID.

His [my] post essentially adds nothing of substance to the Evolution – ID debate and is a complete waste of time to read.

Carlisle's blog makes exactly three (3) references to ID: Carter's neism, to which I commented, A Contrary Notion - Evolution, in which our bigot calls evolution a superstition and then there's the entry which I mentioned above. We aren't presented with what ID actually constitutes, not even by means of references to authenticated documents or hyperlinks.

Minimizing past catholic suppression of dissent.

He [me] begins his article by demonizing the catholic church for reasons I don’t understand. Anyway he writes:

Catholicism for example hardly has been particularly tolerant of free-thinking people. It burned Giordano Bruno at the stake for promoting the heliocentric solar system, made Galileo recant these same ideas and confined him to house arrest and he died shortly after the trial. There are many other cases of religious and merciless persecution of heretics.

For reasons Carlisle doesn't understand... From the early days of Christianity, this faith has done much to suppress dissent and in particular scientific discovery that wasn't in accordance with the Bible's teachings. What's there to understand? Perhaps he's a revisionist? And why is this relevant to me? Because the Creationist/ID school is once again trying prove science is a man-made myth and not in accordance with the scriptures. Things do always come full circle.

Also, the constant proselytising by faiths of all kinds of denominations has in the past led to many crusades and will continue to be the cause of extensive bloodletting in the foreseeable future. Despite the willingness to debate, the dogmatic nature of religion can only lead to more irreconcilable differences between factions, over issues believers simply have to accept unquestioningly.
Using regrettable periods in the Catholic Church’s history to characterize the modern debate over the validity of ID marks his [mine] the first step in assembling his straw man argument against ID. Using this line of reasoning one could stigmatize scientists that support evolution by associating them with the horrific human suffering caused the scientists that developed the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Or, perhaps the scientists responsible for the chemical weapons unleashed in WW1 and more recently in Iran and Iraq are representative of the modern evolutionist. This is a ludicrous argument that only attempts to deflect his audience away from the substantive challenges that ID makes against his sacred Naturalism.

This is just plain wrong: scientists simply aren't responsible for what others do with their discoveries. Fission was always there, it isn't man-made: man simply discovered it. The use of the first WMD was a political decision which I support.

Simply put, the inventor of the hammer is not responsible for bloody murders committed with hammers, nor is the manufacturer of kitchen knives responsible for stabbings committed with these utensils.

No politics please, we're American.
He [me] goes on to characterize the ID debate thusly:

This debate is almost exclusive to the US because it is fuelled by the Religious Right, a group that has gained significant importance to the point where it has almost certainly had a decisive impact of the outcome of the last two Presidential elections.

Where is his evidence that ID is fueled by the Religious Right? Once again he is parroting tired allegations that have become the accepted science, so to speak, among evolution reactionaries. If he means that the religious right intellectually finds common ground with a movement within the scientific community that is somewhat congruent with its ideology, then he is correct. For the Religious Right not to support ID would be news. But, what he misses is that the Religious Right is not altogether happy with the whole of ID because it does not exclude things like the old earth view of life’s origins – a bit of information he is either ignorant of or conveniently omits. But to insinuate that the Religious Right is the source and sustenance of ID with the end being to “sneak religious faith into the science class” is to demonstrate his ignorance of the subject matter. Once again it is merely a deflecting tactic.

The Religious Right may wish ID went even further than it does but on the whole they're as happy as Larry with this newfound ally. They really aren't as picky as Carlisle makes them out to be. Also, there are plenty of variants of ID to choose from.

You should know better than to ally yourself with people whose motives are almost purely political.

On science.

Then, he [me] teases the reader with the statement that “…it’s important to reiterate what exactly constitutes science.” To that I say, “Yes, let’s do!” That would be a welcomed break from his inept discourse. Would that be Popper’s definition, with a little Bayesian thrown in for good measure. Or, have you elected to adhere some other definition that countless others before you have been unable nail down? I read further hoping that he would at last resolve this debate that scientific philosophers have been unable to accomplish for decades. But, alas he doesn’t because any definition that he could offer is but one of many differing interpretations of what constitutes science.

Elsewhere on his blog Carlisle tells us he's no scientist yet goes on to inform us that the scientific method is basically wrong. His motives for this absolutely absurd assertion aren't hard to fathom. What really riles people like Carlisle is that evolutionary biology shows that Man ascended ultimately from the primordial soup (like all other life forms) and therefore is not God's Creation. Anathema! So, using a little Popper and a dash of Bayes, Carlisle claims single-handedly to see off scientific theory. Now evolution is no longer a scientific, therefore it must be false. Et voila, problem solved.

Not quite. Enter ID. But what is it? I've seen accounts of ID that range from ideas that sail very closely to the creationist wind, to ideas which seem largely to accept evolution but want to explain certain aspects by divine intervention. But according to Carlisle it clearly cannot be scientific theory, or else it would befall the same fate as evolution. I believe to woolly thinkers like Carlisle it can be what they want it to be. To me it remains quatsch, until further notice at least.

In my comment I asked Carlisle what he thought of the other great scientific theories, like quantum mechanics, chemistry, cosmology etc. I didn't get an answer. Presumably these contitute the child that is to be thrown away with the bathwater, to accommodate the mystical (and rather mysterious) ID.

Let me quote from Carlisle's blogpost on Carter's neism:
Just imagine the impact on the evolution vs. ID debate if evolutionists would finally agree on a unified definition of what science is and what can be classified as scientific evidence. It would be a tremendous gift to the creationists who would finally have a static principle against which they could make their arguments. I believe the result would be that evolution would collapse under its own weight. But don’t hold your breath. Evolutionists aren’t foolish, and if neism is as organized as Carter claims it is they are not likely to make any hasty moves that would jeopardize their hold on public opinion.

Clearly, to Carlisle, evolutionary biology is essentially an opinion and one that has a great hold on public opinion. And if it wasn't for the latter, Creationism would rise to victory.

Evolution is wrong.

Evolutionary biology is one of the many success stories of science because it explains perfectly and with an overwhelming body of evidence how life evolved from the primordial soup to the higher animals (and all other current terrestrial life forms) including humans over a period of about 2 billion years. The theory elegantly and compellingly explains the very, very gradual emergence of increasingly complex living systems.

By this time I started wondering which moon he has been living on for the last 20 years. Actually evolution does no such thing and is far from perfect. For instance, evolution has no explanation for modern discoveries in microbiology such as how molecular machines, which are the very basis of life, developed from the primordial ooze. Perhaps he has one that he can provide, because evolutionary biology is stunningly silent on this foundational element of its sacred theory. This is one of many obstacles that this “perfect” explanation has yet address. His claim that evolutionary biology is a perfect explanation to the origins of life is neither intellectually honest nor is it scientifically accurate.

The fact that science in general and evolutionary biology as a specific case hasn't yet got an explanation for everything (and may never have a complete explanation), doesn't in any way constitute proof that the theory so far isn't correct. The use of the word "perfect" was meant as an adjective, much like Carlisle uses the ridiculous "sacred".

And the assertion that science has nothing to say as yet about molecular machines is just plain bullshit. Again, it shows lack of understanding of how science works and how much microbiology has progressed.


It would be refreshing if Blogfast [me] would slow down and do a bit of research before he blogs fast and shows just how uninformed he is on the subject matter on which he is writing. My advice is for him to stick to internet marketing.

It would be refreshing if Carlisle would try and understand what science actually does and how it works, rather than just illustrating how uninformed he is on the subject matter on which he is writing. My advice is for him to stick to prayer-consultancy.

Personally, I'm a qualified chemical engineer with some fifteen years of experience in applied research. I started Internet marketing as a means of working for myself.

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At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I started my post with the statement that I know better than to expect small minded people like you would carry on a substantive debate. You did a fine job of affirming that prediction.

Cheers, from the little bigot who knows nothing and should be ridiculed by the “prosecuting attorney” who knows everything about what “constitutes science”. I choose not to extend this debate further. If you interpret this as a win for your side then so be it. But there are far more open minded evolutionist with which I can debate than to waste my time here in your closed minded forum. I hope you remain blissfully happy in the world you have created for yourself here in your evolutionary sanctuary.

David Carlise

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Have it your way. But I don't see a great deal of evolutionary biologists on your blog willing to discuss your assertion that evolution is a superstition. I wonder why...

At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Carlise is clearly yet another small minded religious nutter not capable of debate, since people like him have closed minds.

Not worth wasting time on this sort of idiot!!


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