Skip to comments.Intellectuals Who Doubt Darwin
Posted on 11/23/2004 9:53:55 PM PST by nickcarraway
Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing
Edited by William A. Dembski
(ISI Books, 366 pages, $28; $18 paper)
WACO, Texas -- At one time, the debate over Darwin's theory existed as a cartoon in the modern imagination. Thanks to popular portrayals of the Scopes Trial, secularists regularly reviewed the happy image of Clarence Darrow goading William Jennings Bryan into agreeing to be examined as an expert witness on the Bible and then taking him apart on the stand. Because of the legal nature of the proceedings that made evolution such a permanent part of the tapestry of American pop culture, it is fitting that this same section of the tapestry began to unravel due to the sharp tugs of another prominent legal mind, Phillip Johnson.
The publication of his book, Darwin on Trial, now appears to have marked a new milestone in the debate over origins. Prior to Johnson's book, the critics of evolution tended to occupy marginalized sectarian positions and focused largely on contrasting Darwin's ideas with literalist readings of the Genesis account. Johnson's work was different. Here we had a doubter of Darwin willing to come out of the closet, even though his credentials were solid gold establishment in nature. He had attended the finest schools, clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, taught law as a professor at highly ranked Berkeley, and authored widely-used texts on criminal law. Just as Darrow cross-examined the Bible and Bryan's understanding of it, Johnson cross-examined Darwin and got noticed in the process. He spent much of the last decade debating the issue with various Darwinian bulldogs and holding up his end pretty well.
PHILLIP JOHNSON, AND a number of others, raised enough doubts about the dominant theory to cause a number of intellectuals to take a hard look, particularly at the gap between what can be proven and what is simply asserted to be true. Since that time, authors with more technical backgrounds, like mathematician/philosopher William Dembski and biochemist Michael Behe, have published books providing even more powerful critiques of the neo-Darwinian synthesis based on intelligent design theory. Behe's work has been particularly disturbing to evolution advocates because he seems to have proven that organic machines at the molecular level are irreducibly complex and therefore could not have been the products of natural selection because there never would have been any intermediate working mechanism to select. Now, the two team up as Dembski edits and Behe contributes to a bracing collection of controversial writings titled Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing.
Dembski displays the intellectual doggedness of the group of contributors when he uses his introductory essay to ruthlessly track down and scrutinize the footnotes offered by those who would refute Behe's case. Reference after reference claiming to have decisively defeated Behe turns out to be inadequate to the task. What passes for refutation is instead a collection of question-begging and "just-so stories." Right away, Dembski sets the tone for the book. Nothing will be uncontested. The pro-evolution community will be made to fight for every inch of intellectual real estate without relying on the aura of prestige or the lack of competent critics to bolster their case.
The best way to read the book is by beginning at the end and perusing the profiles of the contributors. There, the reader will be able to select essays from representatives of a variety of disciplines, including mathematics, philosophy, biochemistry, biophysics, chemistry, genetics, law, and medicine. The most enjoyable in terms of sheer brio are the essays by Dembski, Behe, Frank Tipler, Cornelius Hunter, and David Berlinski. Tipler's essay on the process of getting published in a peer-reviewed journal is particularly relevant and rewarding because it deals with one of the biggest strikes against Intelligent Design. ID theorists have had a notoriously difficult time getting their work published in professional journals. Tipler, a professor of mathematical physics at Tulane, crankily and enjoyably explains why.
TOP HONORS, HOWEVER, go to David Berlinski's essay, "The Deniable Darwin," which originally appeared in Commentary. The essay is rhetorically devastating. Berlinski is particularly strong in taking apart Richard Dawkins' celebrated computer simulation of monkeys re-creating a Shakespearean sentence and thereby "proving" the ability of natural selection to generate complex information. The mathematician and logician skillfully points out that Dawkins rigged the game by including the very intelligence in his simulation he disavows as a cause of ordered biological complexity. It's clear that Berlinski hits a sore spot when one reads the letters Commentary received in response to the article. Esteemed Darwinists like Dawkins and Daniel Dennett respond with a mixture of near-hysterical outrage and ridicule. Berlinski's responses are also included. At no point does he seem the slightest bit cowed or overwhelmed by the personalities arrayed against him.
For the reader, the result is simply one of the most rewarding reading experiences available. Berlinski and his critics engage in a tremendous intellectual bloodletting, with Berlinski returning fire magnificently. In a particularly amusing segment, Berlinski, constantly accused of misperception, writes, "For reasons that are obscure to me, both [Mr. Gross] and Daniel Dennett carelessly assume that they are in a position to instruct me on a point of usage in German, my first language." Though his foes repeatedly accuse Berlinski of being a "creationist," the tag has little chance of sticking to a man arguing for little more than agnosticism on the question of origins and who disavows any religious principles aside from the possible exception of hoping to "have a good time all the time." One suspects that the portion of the book occupied by the Berlinski essay and subsequent exchanges will gain wide currency.
For far too long, the apologists for Darwin have relied on a strategy of portraying challengers as simple-minded religious zealots. The publication of Uncommon Dissent and many more books like it, will severely undermine the success of such portrayals. During the past decade, it has become far too obvious that there are such things as intellectuals who doubt Darwin and that their ranks are growing. The dull repetition of polemical charges in place of open inquiry, debate, and exchange may continue, but with fewer and fewer honest souls ready to listen.
Hunter Baker is a Ph.D. student at Baylor University and contributes to the Reform Club.
Darwin doubted Darwin
"Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution"
Irreducible Complexity, the enigma that only creation explains.
That is my biggest complaint. In any discussion on evolutionary theory, I am painted as a "Creationist", when in reality I tend to believe evolutionary theory as well as God's hand.
The absolute, scientific proof is simply not there for evolutionists, no matter what they say.
Here we go...
When in reality, it is the apologists for Darwin who are anti-religous zealots.
I say we just let the Scopes Trial Verdict be the last word.
Institute for Creation Research -- http://icr.org/
What about cosmologists? Its a rather big place out there.
Barrel, meet fish.
Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldridge thought Darwin was wrong too.
Absolutely. A careful reading of "Origin" shows a Darwin who would have been dismayed at the underwhelming lack of evidence for his theory.
Those who cling to it blindly normally do so as it affords them the luxury of viewing themselves as merely animals, acting instinctively, without the consequence or judgement of a Creator.
"The absolute, scientific proof is simply not there for evolutionists"
The best proof and argument for evolution are the creationists, for they have not evolved.
Sure no problem. Scopes was convicted.
Just wanted to make sure someone was awake out there! Most folks think that the evolutionists WON that trial. However, Scopes was only fined $100, and the Supreme Court later ruled it a faulty verdict on a technicality (but not on the constitution).
Did you miss the part where I said I'm not a Creationist? It boggles the Darwinist mind, but the fossil record doesn't exactly remove all doubt on evolution. I'm agnostic on the subject of Darwinist evolutionary theory, and if we are going to go on blind faith, as Darwinists also do, I'll also say my faith in God has a role.
Existence and that which makes it possible is far to perfect, complex, and the same, to have randomly evolved. The theory of evolution will ultimetely take its proper place alongside the theory of the flat earth.
I'm not a Creationist.
Try again...and try reading the original article.
We have a winner. Try telling this to the Darwin freaks who refuse to believe there may be holes in their theory.
Again, I'm not a Creationist, I'm more agnostic, but it is funny to see scientific types accept Darwinist Evolutionary theory as it relates to "Origin" on their own faith.
Is there a difference between a "Creationist" and a creationist?
What is the part of the universe that you don't get? I hate to break it to you, but Earth is NOT the center of the universe. Let alone this Galaxy or solar system. It is larger than that.
"I'm not a Creationist."
And what in my post, pray, made you think that I was referring to you?
"try reading the original article".
I DID read that article. As a professional working in biochemistry, I could tell you that, besides a small thing that other that within evolution theory, the field does not make much sense, this field is where the next (or even the current) wave of not-yet-outsourced knowledge jobs is going to be, just like computerese was a decade ago. Thus we need a serious educational effort (way better than what we have now) in this field. And that effort better be evolutionist, not creationist.
this is really a reply to everyone so far...
We'll see :)
The problem with evolution theory is that it is not treated like a theory at all, but rather a religious faith. Subscribers have structured both the debate and the inquiry around a framework where evolution cannot ever be proven wrong. I don't mean to say it can't be proven wrong because they have shown it to be true, I mean it can't be proven wrong because it is has been exempted from the most basic of scientific requirements--that the evidence has to support the thesis. Instead, what we see is that any evidence that does not fit is either seamlessly assimilated ("ahh, it appears that under certain circumstances, X will happen, despite our previous expectation of Y") or pushed aside ("we still do not understand why we have not found X, and instead find Y, but someday we will"). In other words, it cannot be proved wrong. You can't really consider a discipline that does not allow for the possibility its organizing theory could be proven wrong, no matter what the evidence, to be truly scientific. Actually, it sounds a lot like liberalism, doesn't it?
I remember reading about a Chinese paleontologist (?) who was asked about the biggest difference between working in America and working in China. He said in China you can criticize Darwin, but not the government. In America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin. I think that says it all.
Ping for later reading.
...William Dembski and biochemist Michael Behe, have published books providing even more powerful critiques of the neo-Darwinian synthesis based on intelligent design theory.
Sanctuary, intelligent design theory, sanctuary! Oops, you were refuted--in the 18th century!--by this giant. Those who forget the past are...oh to hell with it...
Humans can barely coexist with other ethnic groups. Do you really think we would have tolerated another intelligent species? We would have murdered them by any means available.
Moral Absolutes ping - Absolutely the last ping of the day. I probably wouldn't be able to understand the book in question, I find it hard to read very scientific tomes without getting narcolepsy.
But I am always glad such books are there! Maybe I will give it a try anyway. This article confirms something that is very significant - liberals/atheists/secularists [including the subset here of "Darwinists"] always hate to debate fact. They are reduced to name calling, sloganeering, ridicule, straw man arguments, and attempting to define terms and stand on agreed upon foundation which only they believe in. IOW, if a person disagrees with their premise in the beginning (say evolution), then the disagreer is condemned at the outset as a Neanderthal (no pun intended!), knuckledragger, etc.
Let me know if anyone wants on/off this pinglist.
(Another interesting book about the lack of real evidence for evolution, and how the Darwinists lie and cheat, is "Forbidden Archeology - the Hidden History of the Human Race" by Michael Cremo.)
Check out the book I recommend at the end of my post above. It doesn't claim any of those things.
The problem with evolution theory is that it doesn't take into consideration what happened pre-Earth. I believe the 4 billion year fossil record is accurate. I believe that evolution occured. I just think that the Creator planned/designed (whatever it is they do) it all. To me, it's not one or the other, it's both. Geez, what a peacemaker I am.
Or one can go with Hume and his modern relatives, Derrida and his disciples, and settle for "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die".
You're comparing Hume to some flavor-of-the-week charlatan? I'm appalled, and curious: what does Derrida have in common with Hume?
The absolute, scientific proof is simply not there for evolutionists, no matter what they say.
I could have written that comment. ;-)
What I would have added is that I get two types of responses. The most common response is to imply that I'm so backwards and ignorant that I'm proof of the missing link. The other approach to discussions is to bombard me with a gazillion, boring links (often from the same site) with the expectation that I should read and refute the thousands of pages of blather that is presented.
It always surprises me how fiercely frustrated evolutionists are when somebody doubts the dogma, but if they truly believed in evolution, why don't they relax: we that disagree should eventually disappear from the gene pool anyway. ;-)
I suspect that most evolutionists got their belief because they were ridiculed or intimidated by people who they respected as somehow intellectual. Later, when somebody comes along and pokes holes in the new religion that these evolutionary converts accepted via intimidation, they resort to the same technique of ridicule and forward the tougher cases either to the "intellectuals" or to All Those People Who Know Better (a gazillion web pages) as their second line of defense.
If they had actually finished the trial, I could agree with you here.
But the problem is that, after they played Beat Up the Religious Guy in Court, they cheated and bowed out early so that there was never a chance for a rebuttal.
Imagine having John Kerry getting to go on for hours and hours in the debate and then, just as Bush gets his chance to say something, one of the liberal moderators says, "Whoa, times up! And the winner is ... surprise ... John Kerry!"
ID'ers are cowardly creationists.
I think it's funny (tragic really) to see Creationists try to tell God how He should have done things.
ID is much better at supporting the argument that the Universe was created, or that there is purpose to it, rather than disproving evolution.
It's also amazing that our species probably only numbered in the dozens at one time, and that most of the other similar species died out. Then combine that with the possibility that planets with evolved life of any sort are extremely rare.
We can say that the creator is refining gold in the furnace of affliction. Greatness comes through trial. So does the knowledge of the faithful. Love is proved and matures through trial. If you never suffered loss you could not understand the wonderfulness of life, loving and being loved. How intense love grows as one lives a life for the LORD.
No, because that's not how science is done. A courtroom (or a popular election) is not the proper forum. Besides, elections sometimes go wrong (e.g., Clinton) and trials can produce the wrong result (e.g., OJ is free).
The value of the theory of evolution is already solidly established among educated people who understand the evidence, and overwhelmingly among scientists in the biological fields, so the pathetic struggle of the creationoids to gain respect for their creation "science" is about a century out of date. It's an old, long-decided issue, all the creationoid talking-points have been refuted long ago, and nothing remains to be done except to improve our educational system -- which is obviously failing a whole bunch of people.
I've got a zillion really useful evolution links at my freeper homepage, if you scroll down a bit to find them. Check them out.
In a sense you are right except it does not speak of numerous designers but rather of the Trinity of God. Nothing exists as a single but rather as a melding of more than one to make a one. All of creation attest to the concept of unity, more than one to make a one which is really a unified one. For instance you have a proton, electrons and nucleus that make up one atom. Our bodies are formed by countless individual cells that make up our one body. All of design does reflect a God that is more than a singular one but rather a unified one.
Theories, in science, never become laws. Laws are descriptions of phenomena, often couched in mathematics that explain what is happening. Theories, on the other hand, are frameworks based on evidence (including the aforementioned laws) that describe why the phenomena happen the way they do. Creationists are forever getting this one wrong, proving they are scientifically illiterate and incapable of commenting on any scientific subject knowledgeably.
For instance it is well known in the occular sciences that the human eye could not have evolved to its current state.
Bull puckey. Even Darwin, 150+ years ago, showed the extent gradations of the eye from the simple light-sensitive organ to the full-blown eye complete with focusing lens. You're research is a bit behind the times, don't you think?
Another problem is that none of the fossils from the "missing link", that is the creature that is supposed to have come betweeen [sic] the chimpanzee and man, have ever been found.
First off, we didn't come from chimps (another common creationist misconception). We and the chimps came from a common ancestor. VadeRetro occasionally publishes his link to an image showing the smooth transition of hominid skulls to modern humans.
It seems odd that teaching evolution in schools is such a priority when basic English and Math skills are so far behind.
Evolution (and by extension, Biology) is under assault by the scientifically ignorant, whereas English and Math are not. However, from the quality of posts on these threads of late, the latter two are not being taught all that well, either.
BTW, I, and several other folks here, are veterans of a thousand crevo wars. You would do well to do some research before posting the same-old, worn-out, thrice-refuted creationist canards on these threads.