Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Creationism: God's gift to the ignorant (Religion bashing alert)
Times Online UK ^ | May 21, 2005 | Richard Dawkins

Posted on 05/25/2005 3:41:22 AM PDT by billorites

Science feeds on mystery. As my colleague Matt Ridley has put it: “Most scientists are bored by what they have already discovered. It is ignorance that drives them on.” Science mines ignorance. Mystery — that which we don’t yet know; that which we don’t yet understand — is the mother lode that scientists seek out. Mystics exult in mystery and want it to stay mysterious. Scientists exult in mystery for a very different reason: it gives them something to do.

Admissions of ignorance and mystification are vital to good science. It is therefore galling, to say the least, when enemies of science turn those constructive admissions around and abuse them for political advantage. Worse, it threatens the enterprise of science itself. This is exactly the effect that creationism or “intelligent design theory” (ID) is having, especially because its propagandists are slick, superficially plausible and, above all, well financed. ID, by the way, is not a new form of creationism. It simply is creationism disguised, for political reasons, under a new name.

It isn’t even safe for a scientist to express temporary doubt as a rhetorical device before going on to dispel it.

“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” You will find this sentence of Charles Darwin quoted again and again by creationists. They never quote what follows. Darwin immediately went on to confound his initial incredulity. Others have built on his foundation, and the eye is today a showpiece of the gradual, cumulative evolution of an almost perfect illusion of design. The relevant chapter of my Climbing Mount Improbable is called “The fortyfold Path to Enlightenment” in honour of the fact that, far from being difficult to evolve, the eye has evolved at least 40 times independently around the animal kingdom.

The distinguished Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin is widely quoted as saying that organisms “appear to have been carefully and artfully designed”. Again, this was a rhetorical preliminary to explaining how the powerful illusion of design actually comes about by natural selection. The isolated quotation strips out the implied emphasis on “appear to”, leaving exactly what a simple-mindedly pious audience — in Kansas, for instance — wants to hear.

The deceitful misquoting of scientists to suit an anti-scientific agenda ranks among the many unchristian habits of fundamentalist authors. But such Telling Lies for God (the book title of the splendidly pugnacious Australian geologist Ian Plimer) is not the most serious problem. There is a more important point to be made, and it goes right to the philosophical heart of creationism.

The standard methodology of creationists is to find some phenomenon in nature which Darwinism cannot readily explain. Darwin said: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Creationists mine ignorance and uncertainty in order to abuse his challenge. “Bet you can’t tell me how the elbow joint of the lesser spotted weasel frog evolved by slow gradual degrees?” If the scientist fails to give an immediate and comprehensive answer, a default conclusion is drawn: “Right, then, the alternative theory; ‘intelligent design’ wins by default.”

Notice the biased logic: if theory A fails in some particular, theory B must be right! Notice, too, how the creationist ploy undermines the scientist’s rejoicing in uncertainty. Today’s scientist in America dare not say: “Hm, interesting point. I wonder how the weasel frog’s ancestors did evolve their elbow joint. I’ll have to go to the university library and take a look.” No, the moment a scientist said something like that the default conclusion would become a headline in a creationist pamphlet: “Weasel frog could only have been designed by God.”

I once introduced a chapter on the so-called Cambrian Explosion with the words: “It is as though the fossils were planted there without any evolutionary history.” Again, this was a rhetorical overture, intended to whet the reader’s appetite for the explanation. Inevitably, my remark was gleefully quoted out of context. Creationists adore “gaps” in the fossil record.

Many evolutionary transitions are elegantly documented by more or less continuous series of changing intermediate fossils. Some are not, and these are the famous “gaps”. Michael Shermer has wittily pointed out that if a new fossil discovery neatly bisects a “gap”, the creationist will declare that there are now two gaps! Note yet again the use of a default. If there are no fossils to document a postulated evolutionary transition, the assumption is that there was no evolutionary transition: God must have intervened.

The creationists’ fondness for “gaps” in the fossil record is a metaphor for their love of gaps in knowledge generally. Gaps, by default, are filled by God. You don’t know how the nerve impulse works? Good! You don’t understand how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! Is photosynthesis a bafflingly complex process? Wonderful! Please don’t go to work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God. Dear scientist, don’t work on your mysteries. Bring us your mysteries for we can use them. Don’t squander precious ignorance by researching it away. Ignorance is God’s gift to Kansas.

Richard Dawkins, FRS, is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, at Oxford University. His latest book is The Ancestor’s Tale


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: biblethumpers; cary; creation; crevolist; dawkins; evolution; excellentessay; funnyresponses; hahahahahahaha; liberalgarbage; phenryjerkalert; smegheads
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-50 ... 351-400401-450451-500 ... 2,651-2,678 next last
To: PatrickHenry

HAH! I got the BEST Prime on this thread!


401 posted on 05/25/2005 3:10:51 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 400 | View Replies]

To: js1138
The supression of ideas by authority is the greatest single crime that can be committed. Worse than rape or murder, because crimes against the body affect a limited number of people. Crimes agains free speech are crimes against the mind, the greatest gift we have.

I don't think so. Suppression breeds revolution and is as such a temporary state of affairs. Dead is dead.

402 posted on 05/25/2005 3:11:35 PM PDT by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 398 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
His views are remarkably similar to Marx vis a vis religion and he is an economic lefty to boot.

'Marx was an atheist; Dawkins is an atheist; therefore Dawkins is a Marxist' is idiotic. And being a leftist does not make one a Marxist. Words have meanings; their purpose is not simply so you can fling ill-directed insults.

I have no further reason to assume anything you write bears more than accidental relationship with the truth. Shame.

403 posted on 05/25/2005 3:12:56 PM PDT by Right Wing Professor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 392 | View Replies]

To: King Prout

I think one day we should hold a crevo filk and poetry contest. Everyone could trot out his or her best efforts. It might go some way to breaking the tensions that arise on these threads.


404 posted on 05/25/2005 3:13:26 PM PDT by Junior (“Even if you are one-in-a-million, there are still 6,000 others just like you.”)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 400 | View Replies]

To: A Balrog of Morgoth

By killing God, evolutionists kill that which gave rise to our Western Culture, namely Christianity. By killing Western Culture...

To control the present is to control the past and, hence, the future of mankind.


405 posted on 05/25/2005 3:15:41 PM PDT by Baraonda (Demographic is destiny. Don't hire 3rd world illegal aliens nor support businesses that hire them.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
Dead is dead

I find it interesting that you would say that.

406 posted on 05/25/2005 3:19:08 PM PDT by js1138 (e unum pluribus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 402 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
Your opinion, I don't share it.

Its not my opinion...marxists can't stand the guy.

407 posted on 05/25/2005 3:19:21 PM PDT by RightWingNilla
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 392 | View Replies]

To: Right Wing Professor
I always thought you were an honest guy. Honesty would compel you to acknowledge that Dawkins' views on religion are Marxist. Dishonesty compelled you to bring up the word atheist. Some of my best friends are atheists. I married an atheist. Doesn't quite fit the picture you've drawn, now does it?

As for "shame" I can only laugh. Your response was pathetic.

408 posted on 05/25/2005 3:20:13 PM PDT by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 403 | View Replies]

To: js1138
I find it interesting that you would say that.

Why?

409 posted on 05/25/2005 3:22:07 PM PDT by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 406 | View Replies]

To: RightWingNilla

Dawkins views on religion are marxist. There is no reason to argue that point, it is a fact.


410 posted on 05/25/2005 3:23:29 PM PDT by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 407 | View Replies]

To: Junior
It might go some way to breaking the tensions that arise on these threads.

or throw gas on the fire...

filk? what is filk?

411 posted on 05/25/2005 3:26:38 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 404 | View Replies]

To: ArGee
As an aside, why is it impossible to have discussions on FR?

Because when people post nonsense, such as you've posted in your characterization of Galileo, then others are compelled to correct the nonsense. When the nonsense gets corrected, the poster of the nonsense generally refuses to step down and instead becomes defensive and combative. It's all downhill from there..

Galileo was never at odds with either Christianity or with the Catholic Church. It was certain influential officials of the Church who were at odds with Galileo. When Galileo was ordered to halt teaching the Copernican heliocentric model in 1616 he did so until 1623. He did not resume his endeavors in that regard until 1623 when his friend Pope Urban VIII succeeded to the Holy See, and lifted the prohibition. His pivotal exposition of Copernican theory was published in 1632 with the imprimatur of the Catholic censors. It was only thereafter that Church opponents of science brought him before the Inquisition on the basis of the 1616 prohibition. As we all know, Galileo duly recanted before the Inquisition; he was always profoundly religious and never sought to undermine the Church. It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that Galileo 'misbehaved' with regard to the Catholic Church.

PS. As an idle aside, it's worth noting that Sir Francis Bacon, despite his admirable formulation of the scientific method, nonetheless firmly rejected the Copernican model on religious grounds.

PPS. It's also noteworthy that Nicholas Copernicus drew his inspiration from the heliocentric theory of the ancient Greek astronomer Aristarchus formulated 17 centuries before Copernicus. It was Copernicus however that worked out the basic physics and transformed Aristarchus' model into a science.

412 posted on 05/25/2005 3:26:44 PM PDT by AntiGuv (™)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 297 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07

I thought those with faith do not believe dead is dead.

I personally would rather be dead with my ideas preserved than alive without the ability to express my thoughts. Death is going to happen anyway. It's how we live while we are alive that matters.


413 posted on 05/25/2005 3:26:58 PM PDT by js1138 (e unum pluribus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 409 | View Replies]

To: Baraonda; A Balrog of Morgoth; Junior
...evolutionists kill that which gave rise to our Western Culture...

booze and war are under no threat from evolutionary theory.

414 posted on 05/25/2005 3:28:53 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 405 | View Replies]

To: Baraonda
First off, no one can kill God. If He exists, then He is untouchable. And, if He doesn't exist, well, He's untouchable also.

Second, while some of Western Culture can be attributed to Christianity, pre-Christian cultures have also informed what is now Western Culture: there is, of course, the influence of the Jews (who are not Christian); but you cannot discount the Romans (constitutional government, the rule of law), or the Greeks (mathematics, engineering, the concept of research, the roots of modern medicine [think Galen], military organization and drill). Indeed, one can accurately claim that Christianity actually stifled Western Civilization for centuries until the re-emergence of classical thought in the Rennaissance.

415 posted on 05/25/2005 3:30:52 PM PDT by Junior (“Even if you are one-in-a-million, there are still 6,000 others just like you.”)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 405 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
After some searching, I found a definitive statement by Dawkins on his politics. He says he voted Liberal Democrat in the last election.

The Lib. Dems are not Marxists. They are part of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (formerly European Liberal Democrat and Reform) group in the European Parliament, which includes the German FDP. They're considered to be old-fashioned free-market liberals (not liberals in the American sense). The British LibDems are probably towards the left of the ALDE, but calling them Marxists is just asinine.

416 posted on 05/25/2005 3:31:42 PM PDT by Right Wing Professor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 392 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
Dawkins views on religion are marxist.

On a superficial level I suppose. Marx thought religion was a tool of the ruling classes to keep the workers pacified. Do you think Dawkins subscribes to this conspiracy?

It is irrelevant anyway...just because someone is anti-religion doesn't at all suggest he is a marxist. Several on this forum have strong views against religion, does that make them marxists? Your argument is silly. The philosophy of Marx entails a lot more than atheism.

417 posted on 05/25/2005 3:32:21 PM PDT by RightWingNilla
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 410 | View Replies]

To: King Prout
Filk Music
418 posted on 05/25/2005 3:33:11 PM PDT by Junior (“Even if you are one-in-a-million, there are still 6,000 others just like you.”)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 411 | View Replies]

To: js1138
I thought those with faith do not believe dead is dead.

Yeah, I know. A shame you have so little understanding of people of faith.

We, us luddite creationists, believe that when our bodies die we can no longer pick up arms against the "suppressors". We also believe that our souls are eternal. And so it goes.

419 posted on 05/25/2005 3:33:51 PM PDT by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 413 | View Replies]

To: Right Wing Professor

Whats assinine is you resorting to calling me a liar when the fact of the matter is that Dawkins' views on religion are marxist. His economic views are leftist. His views on the jihadists are a freaking disgrace.


420 posted on 05/25/2005 3:37:14 PM PDT by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 416 | View Replies]

To: RightWingNilla
My views on how to make an omelet are Nazi.
421 posted on 05/25/2005 3:39:40 PM PDT by VadeRetro ( Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 417 | View Replies]

To: Junior

OH, a snappy way of indicating "funny parody of extant popular song"


422 posted on 05/25/2005 3:40:03 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 418 | View Replies]

To: donh

Check out my post #412.


423 posted on 05/25/2005 3:40:21 PM PDT by AntiGuv (™)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 352 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
Honesty would compel you to acknowledge that Dawkins' views on religion are Marxist.

Marxism is not a religion. It's a political/economic philosophy. This is like saying I'm an evangelical Christian because I probably agree broadly with Jerry Falwell on economic matters.

Dishonesty compelled you to bring up the word atheist.

Really? Marx was and Dawkins is an atheist. And in saying 'his views are remarkably similar to Marx vis a vis religion', you weren't alluding to the fact they're both atheists?

Give me a break.

424 posted on 05/25/2005 3:40:25 PM PDT by Right Wing Professor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 408 | View Replies]

To: VadeRetro

don't you mean Stalinist?


425 posted on 05/25/2005 3:41:10 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 421 | View Replies]

To: Junior

The Torah is a bit different from the later books in that they WERE all written after the fact. This is of course undisputed. Not so for others, for example the major prophets such as Ezekiel, Daniel and Isaiah.


426 posted on 05/25/2005 3:42:12 PM PDT by agrace (All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. - Ralph Waldo Emerson)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 373 | View Replies]

To: King Prout

I thought it was Hitler. Who said, "You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs?"


427 posted on 05/25/2005 3:42:18 PM PDT by VadeRetro ( Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 425 | View Replies]

To: King Prout

To a greater or lesser extent...


428 posted on 05/25/2005 3:42:31 PM PDT by Junior (“Even if you are one-in-a-million, there are still 6,000 others just like you.”)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 422 | View Replies]

To: Right Wing Professor

Yep.


429 posted on 05/25/2005 3:42:48 PM PDT by agrace (All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. - Ralph Waldo Emerson)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 377 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
Dawkins' views on religion are marxist. His economic views are leftist. His views on the jihadists are a freaking disgrace.

perhaps... none of which indicates that the article from which this thread derives is in any significant way inaccurate in its description of "ID". Argumentum ad Hominem never goes out of style, but it never becomes less of a fallacy.

430 posted on 05/25/2005 3:45:15 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 420 | View Replies]

To: VadeRetro

Stalin, IIRC... concerning his deliberate ravaging of the Ukraine (again: IIRC).


431 posted on 05/25/2005 3:46:47 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 427 | View Replies]

To: Junior

ah. sehr gut.


432 posted on 05/25/2005 3:47:09 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 428 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
Dawkins views on religion are marxist.

I think you're wrong. As I understand it, Marx considered religion to be the "opium of the people," a kind of self-medication to deal with the world's indifference toward us. Dawkins thinks that it is pre-scientific thinking that persists largely because children are naturally gullible which he perceives as an evolved behavior.

433 posted on 05/25/2005 3:50:25 PM PDT by edsheppa
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 410 | View Replies]

To: VadeRetro
both of us were mistaken:

Of all the foreign corespondents who betrayed their craft with blatant distortions and fabrications, none is more loathsome than the opium-indulging Walter Duranty, The New York Times foreign correspondent in Moscow during Stalin's genocidal destruction of Ukraine's peasantry in 1932-1933. Duranty is the father of the "give them a break" journalistic approach to communism.

It was Duranty who knowingly denied the famine in dispatches to The New York Times with descriptive euphemisms such as "serious food shortage," "mismanagement of collective farming," a conspiracy of "wreckers" and "spoilers" who had "made a mass of Soviet food production" (i.e. poor Ukrainian peasants who resisted collectivization) and the like. "There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation," he wrote, "but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition." There was suffering, Duranty admitted but "to put it brutally - you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs..."

http://www.ukrweekly.com/Archive/2003/100317.shtml

434 posted on 05/25/2005 3:51:46 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 427 | View Replies]

To: King Prout
Could be. Google is a mess on the subject. Hitler, omelet, eggs gets more hits. Stalin, omelet, eggs gets more specific attributions. I'm also seeing Lenin, Lincoln Stephens (on the October Revolution), and Walter Duranty (notorious NYT Red apologist) on Stalin's crushing of the Ukraine with famine.
435 posted on 05/25/2005 3:52:17 PM PDT by VadeRetro ( Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 431 | View Replies]

To: King Prout
You beat me. That Duranty quote looks pretty convincing, unless he lifted it.
436 posted on 05/25/2005 3:53:42 PM PDT by VadeRetro ( Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 434 | View Replies]

To: VadeRetro; King Prout

My dictionary of quotations says that it was used by Robespierre, but that it may already have been a proverb at that time.


437 posted on 05/25/2005 3:54:37 PM PDT by Right Wing Professor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 435 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
Marxist or not, I'm glad I have no association with Dawkins.

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,9174,770408,00.html

Richard Dawkins, an Oxford science don, suggested Mr Bush was just as much of a danger to world peace as Saddam Hussein, adding: "It would be a tragedy if Tony Blair were to be brought down through playing poodle to this unelected and deeply stupid little oil-spiv."

438 posted on 05/25/2005 3:55:23 PM PDT by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 410 | View Replies]

To: VadeRetro

perhaps the phrase is an old and common one in middle europe?

I lean towards the duranty/stalin cite, but that might just be my Uke blood talking.


439 posted on 05/25/2005 3:55:52 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 435 | View Replies]

To: Right Wing Professor

thanks. see 439. I begin to suspect it is of long-standing use


440 posted on 05/25/2005 3:57:04 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 437 | View Replies]

To: wideawake
[Galileo] broke a legal agreement.

What legal agreement? Here's an excellent account I just tracked down of the persecution of Galileo by the enemies of science in the Catholic Church. Perhaps you should read that before answering.

Note, btw, the shady methods of Galileo's enemies and how remarkably similar they are to modern creationist tactics....

441 posted on 05/25/2005 4:02:22 PM PDT by AntiGuv (™)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 303 | View Replies]

To: donh; ArGee
> The first task of ID is to define the characteristics of something that was designed vs. something that wasn't. This would provide the basis for discussion.

But, I am afraid that the specifics of my research project are not quite delineated yet. As far as I can tell, everything in the living world was, in some sense or another "designed" to serve some purpose. I'm afraid you will have to be more specific, or I will be unable to write my grant proposal.

That'd be Dembski's "explanatory filter".

johnnyb and I argued and talked right past each other in this thread.

442 posted on 05/25/2005 4:10:37 PM PDT by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 226 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
Yeah, I know. A shame you have so little understanding of people of faith.

We, us luddite creationists, believe that when our bodies die we can no longer pick up arms against the "suppressors".

I am learning lots about people of faith. I was raised to think that one fought oppression best by being a good example to your children and to others.

I didn't know that Frodo was supposed to use the ring to overthrow his opprseeors.

443 posted on 05/25/2005 4:11:37 PM PDT by js1138 (e unum pluribus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 419 | View Replies]

To: AntiGuv; PatrickHenry; Doctor Stochastic; Dawsonville_Doc; RadioAstronomer; Right Wing Professor; ..
"My dear Kepler, what would you say of the learned here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the asp, have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope? What shall we make of this? Shall we laugh, or shall we cry?"

sounds awfully familiar...

444 posted on 05/25/2005 4:23:04 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 441 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
We, us luddite creationists, believe that when our bodies die we can no longer pick up arms against the "suppressors"...

Might I point out a fact that should be obvious, that Galileo has done more to defeat his oppressors while dead than he could have by taking up arms while alive. If he had been a good boy and suppressed his publications, his ideas would have died with him, or at least been delayed.

445 posted on 05/25/2005 4:23:48 PM PDT by js1138 (e unum pluribus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 419 | View Replies]

To: Right Wing Professor
>Ich bin der Rechtsprofessor.

A professor of law? Aren't you teaching chemistry? :-)
446 posted on 05/25/2005 4:24:39 PM PDT by si tacuissem (.. lurker mansissem)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 339 | View Replies]

To: wideawake; donh; ArGee

BTW, one more little historical footnote. Aristotle had also envisioned the heliocentric model but came to reject it for what were actually valid scientific objections: that if the earth moved then the stars should evidence a parallax. This was the same basis upon which Ptolemy and others would then resist the ideas of Aristarchus. What the ancient Greeks didn't comprehend was how far away the stars were, and therefore how miniscule their parallax.


447 posted on 05/25/2005 4:29:37 PM PDT by AntiGuv (™)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 303 | View Replies]

To: donh

There are probably a number of reasons, one is the possibility that what appears to be random might be law governed (cf. Wolfram's work on cellular automata), another is an observation made by a pro-Darwinian-mechanism-evolution FReeper in response to a query of mine ages ago: selection works at a cellular level, too. (Which opens the possibility that filtering cellularly lethal variation out of changes at the level of precursors to germ cells might produce some slight bias toward globally beneficial variation at the level of heritable changes.)

There is also the fact that the 'randomness' for all Dawkins confidence that it is randomness on the ontological level like Brownian motion or the collapse of the wave-function, was really always just epistemological randomness--we don't know a law governing pre-selection variation, and it's unpredictable to us.

It might also be a political move: admitting that it's epistemological randomness rather than "chance" takes a bit of the heat out of the debate.


448 posted on 05/25/2005 4:31:38 PM PDT by The_Reader_David (Christ is Risen! Christos Anesti! Khristos Voskrese! Al-Masih Qam! Hristos a Inviat!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 382 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry
"Poor chose of words on my part."

Poor chose of words? Did I write that?

My goodness. I just came home and see all these posts because of my lousy "chose" of words this morning.

I'd blame it on not having my morning coffee, but I did.

Thanks for your understanding. Memo to self...

"Post in haste, repent at leisure.

449 posted on 05/25/2005 4:34:49 PM PDT by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 80 | View Replies]

To: AntiGuv
Aristotle had also envisioned the heliocentric model but came to reject it for what were actually valid scientific objections: that if the earth moved then the stars should evidence a parallax.

There was another very powerful reason for the ancients to believe that the earth didn't move. It's so ridiculous sounding now that it's virtually never mentioned, but before Isaac Newton (a generation after Galileo's trial) it was regarded as a great problem. The argument was that if the earth moves, then why doesn't it leave the moon behind?

Think about it. If no one knew (before Newton) that gravity was the same on earth and in the heavens, then the problem was a very real concern. Galileo's telescope, which showed that Jupiter (which everyone agreed was moving) had moons, yet the moons somehow stayed with it, was the killer observation. But it wasn't until Newton that any real understanding of this was possible.

450 posted on 05/25/2005 4:37:07 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 447 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-50 ... 351-400401-450451-500 ... 2,651-2,678 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson