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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
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To: longshadow

500. Prime!


501 posted on 05/25/2005 6:49:34 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
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To: jwalsh07
technocrats

Ward Churchill used this term to denigrate the victims in the WTC towers.

Ward Churchill is a Marxist.

Therefore jwalsh is a Marxist.

502 posted on 05/25/2005 6:49:56 PM PDT by RightWingNilla
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To: VadeRetro

I've been to England too, courtesy of the U.S. Navy. I'm beginning to see the elements of a conspiracy here...


503 posted on 05/25/2005 6:51:12 PM PDT by Junior (“Even if you are one-in-a-million, there are still 6,000 others just like you.”)
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To: AntiGuv
Who do you consider "his fellow travellers" and more importantly what do you propose is the "dent" that should be made by "what Dawkins says about President Bush

The Euro left and their allies in America. Simple, Dawkins deserves scorn. You won't find Dawkins being scorned on an evo/crevo thread, except by me of course, because science trumps ideology and politics here.

504 posted on 05/25/2005 6:51:18 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: VadeRetro
Marx lived in England for a time. I visited England for three days. (Hangs head.)

Never been there. (Whew!)

505 posted on 05/25/2005 6:52:04 PM PDT by RightWingNilla
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To: jwalsh07
"the man is vile, therefore the points he raises are invalid."
argumentum ad hominem.

"the man's general attitudes on a broad subject are hostile, therefore the points he raises in this narrow and specific case are invalid."
also argumentum ad hominem.

Perhaps also an example of the Genetic Fallacy: You assert that he is wrongheaded on religion in general, therefore he must be wrong in any point he raises on any topic involved with religion. I'm not certain this is quite within the bounds of Genetic Fallacy but, if it is not, it is closely related.

Address the points, not the man.
If you are going to bandy semantics with me, Walsh, it would behoove you think it through first.

506 posted on 05/25/2005 6:52:18 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
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To: PatrickHenry

Is 501 a prime?


507 posted on 05/25/2005 6:52:58 PM PDT by RightWingNilla
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To: VadeRetro; PatrickHenry

PH isn't avid for Primes today?


508 posted on 05/25/2005 6:53:04 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
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To: VadeRetro
You don't consider yourself a creationist? What is this, Lying A**hole Night? Or Stupid Night?

Still the internet hero Mr STFU?

509 posted on 05/25/2005 6:53:08 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: King Prout; RightWingNilla
Because of all this trollish activity, I'm being distracted from the important task of claiming my sacred right to all primes.
510 posted on 05/25/2005 6:55:44 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
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To: jwalsh07
Yes. So what aside from who wrote it do you understand about Dawkins's article?
511 posted on 05/25/2005 6:56:00 PM PDT by VadeRetro ( Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: RightWingNilla

Hahahahaha! Hot damn, LOLOLOLOLOLOL. What a guy!


512 posted on 05/25/2005 6:56:13 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: PatrickHenry

well, damn, I'll let you have the leftover of the one I bagged earlier. want me to nuke it, or is cold all right?


513 posted on 05/25/2005 6:57:50 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
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To: RightWingNilla
Multiple of 3.
514 posted on 05/25/2005 6:57:54 PM PDT by VadeRetro ( Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: King Prout

I've debated you before Prout, you ended up crawling off mumbling about Downs Syndrome not being a mutation. You're just a good ole southern blowhard.


515 posted on 05/25/2005 6:58:03 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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I see we're all playing nicely tonight ;)


516 posted on 05/25/2005 6:58:21 PM PDT by general_re ("Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith, but in doubt." - Reinhold Niebuhr)
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To: jwalsh07
Hahahahaha! Hot damn, LOLOLOLOLOLOL. What a guy!

Glad you like it :)

Seriously, that was the first time I heard that word.

517 posted on 05/25/2005 7:00:36 PM PDT by RightWingNilla
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To: jwalsh07
I see. Well, your statements have all the hallmarks of a guilt-by-association fallacy. If my interpretation was incorrect with relation to evolutionary biology, then I retract my dim assessment of your aims.

science trumps ideology and politics here

As well it should. Science is eternal. Ideology and politics are ephemera. You would do well to remember that. JMO.

518 posted on 05/25/2005 7:00:37 PM PDT by AntiGuv (™)
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To: VadeRetro
Yes.

Proud of being an internet hero who uses foul language and makes stupid assertions behind the anonymity of the keyboard?

So what aside from who wrote it do you understand about Dawkins's article?

I understand what I read Retro. I also understand that you're a punk.

And there you have it.

519 posted on 05/25/2005 7:01:22 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: AntiGuv

I don't give you advice. I don't need yours.


520 posted on 05/25/2005 7:04:04 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: King Prout
I'll let you have the leftover of the one I bagged earlier. want me to nuke it, or is cold all right?

That's okay. They're all mine anyway.

521 posted on 05/25/2005 7:04:39 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
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To: jwalsh07
Maybe you'd like to comment on this section here. It's about the creationist love of ignorance.

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.
I'll throw in my two cents. What he does not address is how creationists literally bludgeon with their own abismal ignorance (usually of science and/or logic but in some cases even history). Militant ignorance. The most relentlessly and militantly misinformed arguments around come from the creation/ID camp.
522 posted on 05/25/2005 7:04:49 PM PDT by VadeRetro ( Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: jwalsh07; PatrickHenry; VadeRetro
You're just a good ole southern blowhard.

cute. factually erroneous, but from you that is no surprise.
Nor is the fact that you neglected either to refute the analysis to which you replied or show the grace to admit you just got #wn3d.
Instead, true to your long-established form, you oozed out from beneath the anvil with the following:

I've debated you before Prout, you ended up crawling off mumbling about Downs Syndrome not being a mutation.

I have forgotten the technical name for this form of argumentative deflection. PH, VR... what is the above dodge called?

523 posted on 05/25/2005 7:05:35 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
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To: VadeRetro

and of seven.


524 posted on 05/25/2005 7:06:34 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
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To: jwalsh07
Proud of being an internet hero who uses foul language and makes stupid assertions behind the anonymity of the keyboard?

BTW, you're projecting here. You're anonymous. I'm not. You're the coward.

525 posted on 05/25/2005 7:07:03 PM PDT by VadeRetro ( Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: PatrickHenry

and a gold mine they are, too.


526 posted on 05/25/2005 7:07:20 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
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To: VadeRetro
Ignorance is God’s gift to Kansas.

Wonderfully scientific.

I don't have a problem with evolution. I have a problem with guys like you who exhibit faux concern for conservatism on the evo threads and never show their face on the threads concerning conservatism having to do with conservtaism and the constitution.

527 posted on 05/25/2005 7:09:08 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: King Prout

501 / 3 = 167.

501 / 7 = 71.57142857.

;)


528 posted on 05/25/2005 7:09:20 PM PDT by VadeRetro ( Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: jwalsh07
I don't have a problem with evolution.

That answers my question on what night it is.

529 posted on 05/25/2005 7:10:05 PM PDT by VadeRetro ( Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: PatrickHenry; RadioAstronomer

I'm unsure exactly when and how stellar parallaxes were first observed, but my recollection is that it was not until the 19th century. That would've been very close to the invention of early photography so that may very well have been the prerequisite. Hmm..


530 posted on 05/25/2005 7:10:05 PM PDT by AntiGuv (™)
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To: jwalsh07

I didn't give you advice. I made an observation.


531 posted on 05/25/2005 7:10:49 PM PDT by AntiGuv (™)
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To: King Prout
jwalsh07 to you: You're just a good ole southern blowhard.

The guy is projecting, and it ain't pretty.

532 posted on 05/25/2005 7:11:15 PM PDT by VadeRetro ( Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: King Prout
Your reply wasn't worth replying to. Dawkins views on religion obtain when Dawkins speaks of science and religion in the same breath. When he does, his views are subject to criticism. Preety simple, nothing ad hominem about it.

If you want to see ad hominem, just look at Retros posts, he's an expert.

533 posted on 05/25/2005 7:11:26 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: VadeRetro

exactly! it's PRIME, baby!


534 posted on 05/25/2005 7:12:34 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
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To: King Prout
A PatrickHenry prime, yes. Out for the night.
535 posted on 05/25/2005 7:13:27 PM PDT by VadeRetro ( Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: jwalsh07

You'd be surprised what threads we appear on. Do a search on Poster and plug in any of our names.


536 posted on 05/25/2005 7:14:07 PM PDT by Junior (“Even if you are one-in-a-million, there are still 6,000 others just like you.”)
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To: VadeRetro
BTW, you're projecting here.

Right, in OZ.

You're anonymous.

No, I post under my real name. My first names John, presumably your's is Vade right?.

I'm not.

Yes, you are, you post using an pseudonym.

You're the coward.

:-}

537 posted on 05/25/2005 7:14:43 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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Comment #538 Removed by Moderator

To: jwalsh07

"his views" do not equate to the points he raised in this article.
"criticism" requires address to the points raised in the subject matter at hand.
ad hominem dismissal does not equate to criticism.


539 posted on 05/25/2005 7:17:28 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
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To: AntiGuv

OK, gotcha.


540 posted on 05/25/2005 7:17:46 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: VadeRetro

'nite.
headed that way myself.


541 posted on 05/25/2005 7:17:59 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
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To: RightWingNilla; King Prout; VadeRetro; AntiGuv; Junior
What is wrong with you guys? Virtual Ignore is the only appropriate response. You're letting a good thread degenerate into utter putridity.
542 posted on 05/25/2005 7:19:20 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
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To: Junior
You'd be surprised what threads we appear on. Do a search on Poster and plug in any of our names.

No thanks. I know who participates in the important conservative threads and who doesn't. Antiguv and general_re are two who do.

543 posted on 05/25/2005 7:19:27 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: jwalsh07

And it's an observation I make frequently, by some form or another, in many different contexts. Don't take it personally! =)


544 posted on 05/25/2005 7:20:17 PM PDT by AntiGuv (™)
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To: King Prout

Hey dingbat, read his "views" on Kansas at the end of the article. Cripes.


545 posted on 05/25/2005 7:20:47 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: AntiGuv
I apologize. I admit too being a bit "testy" in that reply.

We sometimes agree, we sometimes disagree but you have no hypocritical bones in your body that I've seen.

And besides you're a good opponent in constitutional debates, you and the general. :-}

546 posted on 05/25/2005 7:23:09 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: PatrickHenry

but, but.. If I stop responding I'll have to go do something productive.. =(

Oh, alright. Back to organizing my library!


547 posted on 05/25/2005 7:23:37 PM PDT by AntiGuv (™)
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To: jwalsh07
Because he rouses the lefty rebels in Europe with his anti Bush articles in the local Brit rags resulting in less support from Europe and more young Americans in harms way. Not too freaking brilliant from my point of view.

I don't give a sh!t if he's a flamin' jihadist. I would pull him into a lifeboat over a troll like you.

548 posted on 05/25/2005 7:25:08 PM PDT by balrog666 (A myth by any other name is still inane.)
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To: balrog666
I don't give a sh!t if he's a flamin' jihadist. I would pull him into a lifeboat over a troll like you.

LOL, you guys are too much.

549 posted on 05/25/2005 7:26:56 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: jwalsh07
Yes Junior, I'm well aware of that. I misspoke. God I'm sure wii forgive me for misspeaking.

But not for lying - unless She's a wimp too.

550 posted on 05/25/2005 7:27:38 PM PDT by balrog666 (A myth by any other name is still inane.)
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