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A “Secular Inquisition” on Behalf of Darwinism

posted by David Klinghoffer

Melanie Phillips has another terrific post about the “Secular Inquisition” being waged on behalf of Darwinism. When will they start stoning Intelligent Design advocates?

She begins this way:

The response to my post below on Intelligent Design has provided illuminating and revealing evidence of the ignorance, confusion, distortions, irrationality and malice that characterise this debate. For those who appear to assume I am part of some cosmic Christian conspiracy to destroy science and deny the laws of nature, let me first of all gently enlighten you: I am an agnostic if traditionally-minded Jew; not a scientist, not a philosopher, not a subscriber to any kind of -ology but a mere journalist who has always gone wherever the evidence has led and, trying not to make too many mistakes, has formed her conclusions and her opinions from that process.

The reference to “malice” rings a bell of recognition with me. I am of course joking about an initiative to stone ID theorists. (Or as Melanie Phillips finds it necessary to remind some of her readers, “Atheists! Joke alert!!”) But the way this subject twists people and brings out real hate from the other side is quite remarkable. Just read through the comments she gets.

Notice also the self-identification by Phillips, author of Londonistan, as a Jewish agnostic. I had not been sure about her religious stance before I read that. Her doubts about Darwinism do not come out of any Jewish or other “fundamentalism.”
Read the rest on her blog over at the London Spectator.


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Charles Laster

posted May 5, 2009 at 3:26 pm


All Intelligent design posits is that there might be a guiding principle, a ghost in the machine of evolution–that it is not a blind, purposeless process. Hard to prove, scientifically, but inpeccable philosophically. From what I know about biology, the ‘clock found in a field’ argument for God is inadequate. It’s more like one found a clock factory, coming up with many and varied and constantly inproving clocks of infinite complexity.
At least mention it as a possibility, people!



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Glen Davidson

posted May 5, 2009 at 3:49 pm


Notice also the self-identification by Phillips, author of Londonistan, as a Jewish agnostic. I had not be sure about her religious stance before I read that. Her doubts about Darwinism do not come out of any Jewish or other “fundamentalism.”

First off, it wouldn’t be the first time that an IDist lied in order to pretend that they were open-minded, if she were lying. Anyway, she notes that she’s a “traditionally-minded Jew,” which is about the same as admitting that her prejudices step in where her knowledge leaves off.
Secondly, so what if she didn’t doubt “Darwinism” because of religion, but only due to her nearly complete ignorance of science? That’s exactly the sort of person that the DI targets, because it sounds reasonable enough unless you do understand how Klinghoffer et al. are trying to destroy science to make way for religion.
And David resorts to the same persecution complex as he usually does, being unable to support any of his claims for ID.
For one thing, plenty of comments did not evince “real hate.” David and Melanie prefer to focus on the ones that did indicate malice, because, again, they have nothing to their claims, only their own misrepresentations of the other side. As to the malicious comments, it is perhaps understandable that the steady drumbeat of lies put out by Melanie, David, and the DI (well documented at huge numbers of sites on the web) happen to make people angry after a time.
In response to one of the misrepresentations that David repeats, the ADL wrote:

Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.

Imagine people becoming angry at trivializations that distort a very dark chapter in humanity’s history. And while Melanie did not (there, at least) join in that appalling spectacle, she agrees with other transparent lies being put out by the DI.
Melanie did not, of course manage to back up her initial false statements regarding ID not being creationism, and did not respond to measured and substantive responses such as my own was. She has nothing to back up her wretchedly dishonest statements, her calumny against people who are far more knowledgeable and honest about science. She simply whines that she was treated like a liar when all she did was to put out a whole lot of false claims.
And Charles, don’t pretend that the excruciating lies that the DI puts out about us are somehow true. Design has been considered in biology, and life has been shown not to exhibit the design principles that are behind most human designs. Instead, it shows what evolution predicts, heavy constraint from heredity among organisms that generally do not transfer genes laterally, and the sorts of point mutations, inversions, and other chromosomal changes expected during the course of evolution. The conceptual leaps possible with design are missing from the record of life.
The DI and Melanie only say that we won’t consider it because they can’t produce the evidence, and so have to pretend that we aren’t open to the evidence. It is, again, such malicious misrepresentations that cause many commenters to simply call the IDists liars, something that has been repeatedly and exhaustively shown to be the case.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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Max Foster

posted May 5, 2009 at 5:27 pm


Intelligent Design is nothing more than creationism, with a modern name, but intellectually medievil. It adds nothing to religion and is only a stumbling stone for science. I have been studying this phenomenon for years now, and it only gets sillier. Those of faith should stay in the church and not try to alter science through a faulty idea perpetuated by insecure dogma.



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Olorin

posted May 5, 2009 at 9:17 pm


C.L: “All Intelligent design posits is that there might be a guiding principle, a ghost in the machine of evolution–that it is not a blind, purposeless process.”
No, Charles. What you have described is theistic evolution. Read the Discovery Institute’s own definition of ID at http://www.researchid.org/index.php/Defining_Intelligent_Design. ID proponents spend almost as much time bashing theistic evolutionists as they do pummeling evilutionists.
CL: “Hard to prove, scientifically,…”
Impossible even to test, scientifically. That’s why it isn’t science. By definition, an intelligence can act arbitrarily—for any reason or for no reason. Thus any experimental outcome is consistent with intelligent design: Junk DNA has a purpose? Well, of course; good designs don’t include useless parts. Humans have a broken citric acid cycle, allowing us to get scurvy? Well of course; the designs need not be good designs. So “design” explains nothing.
CL: “From what I know about biology…”
Which seems to be infinitesimal. We will “mention it as a possibility” when there is a scintilla of positive evidence for it. But, as Michael Behe himself admitted at the Kitzmiller trial, there is no experimental or observational research at all that would support ID as a scientific hypothesis. If anyone finds some, their biggest worry will not be persecution, it will be getting to Stockholm in time to collect their Nobel prize. Bt, so far….
BTW, would it surprise you to know that a team of scientists are actively looking for life that may not share a common ancestor with the organisms we know about? Or that evolutionary principles tell them where to look for it?



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Glen Davidson

posted May 5, 2009 at 9:37 pm


citric acid cycle

Good comments, Olorin. On a much more trivial point, though, it’s the “ascorbic acid cycle,” which you likely did know. Your argument, of course, is sound.
I just don’t want this to become some tangent that the anti-science faction will try to use, instead of dealing with actual issues. Not that they’ll ever do the latter…
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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tgpeeler

posted May 5, 2009 at 9:40 pm


Bobxxxx, some nice arguments there! Stupid, idiotic, retard, childish. Wow, your reasoning skills are impressive!! Let’s have a discussion about “natural selection.” What it is. What you claim it can do or has done. How we know. And so on. I’d like to clarify some things and I could use your able assistance, I’m sure.



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Glen Davidson

posted May 5, 2009 at 9:44 pm


Well, actually, I don’t think it’s even “ascorbic acid cycle,” even though one exists. I believe it’s pretty much just a gene.
It’s what I thought earlier, but needed to do some research to state as much as I did here.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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Max Foster

posted May 5, 2009 at 10:03 pm


Klinghoffer is with the “Deceptive” Institute? Well I’ll be ignoring this website from now on.



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Olorin

posted May 5, 2009 at 10:15 pm


Yes, Glen. The final gene of the cycle is broken. The precursors are made, but the final product is blocked. And chickens can make one of the two productrs to form teeth, but the gene for the other one is broken. And human embryos produce a protein for making a yolk sac, but the genes for the others are missing in action. I’m sure there are other examples as well.
And we could talk aboput non-functional transposons. (I’m not even a biologist, but a lowly retired patent attorney.)



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Olorin

posted May 5, 2009 at 10:22 pm


The above post was my third. The second one, documenting the religious nature of ID, has been “held up.” I wonder why? Should I claim persecution?



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Glen Davidson

posted May 6, 2009 at 1:22 pm


I posted the following comment at the relevant blogpost by Phillips. I have to see if it goes through:
Melanie made a remarkable admission, basically contradicting her previous positions. The following excerpt begins with Charles Johnson, then Melanie comments:

If ‘intelligent design’ is really based on science, why have their advocates failed to produce any scientific evidence for that claim, despite millions of dollars worth of funding and years in which to do it? Instead, ‘intelligent design’ proponents spend all their time on public relations. Where are the peer reviewed studies? Where are the experimental proofs that can be duplicated by other scientists? Answer: nonexistent.

Well of course they are non-existent — because ID is not in itself a scientific discovery. It is rather an inference from scientific discoveries. Looking at the complexity of the created world, it says the evidence points inescapably to a guiding intelligence as the cause of that complexity. It is an idea, a conclusion to a chain of observation and thought. When people demand proof of this idea, what they are actually demanding is proof that an ‘intelligent designer’ exists. The fact that there are no peer-reviewed studies (!) demonstrating the existence of such a cosmic ‘designer’ provokes this yah-boo response. But it is obviously no more possible to prove the existence of an ‘intelligent designer’ than it is to prove the existence of the Biblical God.

Well, isn’t that we said? And how could she possibly have told us that ID stands against creationism, when she’s telling us now that the impossibility for “proving” the existence of the “designer” is the same as the impossibility of proving the Biblical god?
Her present claim doesn’t square with her earlier statements regarding ID:

Intelligent design…holds that the complexity of science suggests that there must have been a governing intelligence behind the origin of matter

To be sure, this is another issue which she clearly doesn’t understand, since ID is generally far more concerned about the origin of life than of matter. The sentence isn’t written properly either, but what really matters is that any educated person would understand that statement to be claiming that ID is science. Especially since she is defending “intelligent design,” which most frequently is claimed to be science. This is taken right off of William Dembski’s website, “Uncommon Descent”:

Intelligent design [ID] – Dr William A Dembski, a leading design theorist, has defined ID as “the science that studies signs of intelligence.” That is, as we ourselves instantiate [thus exemplify as opposed to “exhaust”], intelligent designers act into the world, and create artifacts

If Melanie really believes that the “designer” cannot be “proven,” then we win, because it’s back to the same pseudoscientific status as “scientific creationism” is.
As an aside, Dembski is completely wrong in comparing our investigation of the designs of humans, which nearly always betray rational thought behind them, and the structures and functions of life, which never demonstrate the rational planning of designed objects.
Regarding the charge of a “Secular Inquisition,” it makes no sense if we’re merely saying that ID isn’t science, Melanie admits that it isn’t science, and yet the ID proponents demand that it be treated and taught as science.
Furthermore, we have this from prominent ID proponent Michael Behe:

If a theory claims to be able to explain some phenomenon but does not generate even an attempt at an explanation, then it should be banished. Despite comparing sequences and mathematical modeling, molecular evolution has never addressed the question of how complex structures came to be. In effect, the theory of Darwinian molecular evolution has not published, and so it should perish. Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, p.186

He’s the one who wants to banish science. The boilerplate about evolutionary theory providing no explanation is complete nonsense, and his knowledge of the literature documenting such investigations and explanations was shown to be highly inadequate during the Dover trial. Yet ID has provided no explanation for anything at all, and should, by this IDist’s demands, be banished.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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Olorin

posted May 8, 2009 at 11:16 pm


We are taking an intuition most people have [the belief in God] and making it a scientific and academic enterprise. We are removing the most important cultural roadblock to accepting the role of God as creator.
Phillip Johnson, “Enlisting Science to Find the Fingerprints of a Creator”, LA Times, 25 Mar. 2001.



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Olorin

posted May 8, 2009 at 11:17 pm


This isn’t really, and never has been a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.
Phillip Johnson, “Witnesses for the Prosecution,” World Magazine, November 30, 1996, Volume 11, Number 28, p. 18



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Olorin

posted May 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm


Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.
American Family Radio, Jan 10, 2003 broadcast, in which Johnson discusses his book “The Right Questions”



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Olorin

posted May 8, 2009 at 11:21 pm


Let’s try this once more.
The Discovery Institute, being a public relations organization rather than a scientific one, sees the value of trotting out a few self-proclaimed agnostics such as Davids Klinghoffer & Berlinski, and Bradley Monton to disguise the fact that their aim. Phillip Johnson, the founder of ID has said it many times. The above 3 quotes are representative.



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Olorin

posted May 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm


Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.
American Family Radio, Jan 10, 2003 broadcast, in which Johnson discusses his book “The Right Questions”



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