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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: balrog666

Liar, liar panties on fire. Nahnahnahnahnah.


551 posted on 05/25/2005 7:28:22 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: All

Trapped rat placemarker.


552 posted on 05/25/2005 7:29:54 PM PDT by furball4paws (One of the last Evil Geniuses, or the first of their return.)
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To: balrog666

Bullpens empty, the second string right fielder comes into pitch?


553 posted on 05/25/2005 7:29:55 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: jwalsh07

Just callin' as I see 'em, sh!thead.


554 posted on 05/25/2005 7:34:16 PM PDT by balrog666 (A myth by any other name is still inane.)
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To: balrog666

Who lets you out of the attic at night?


555 posted on 05/25/2005 7:35:40 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: jwalsh07

Is this a contest? Should I say "your mother after she services me" or something similar?


556 posted on 05/25/2005 7:37:42 PM PDT by balrog666 (A myth by any other name is still inane.)
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To: balrog666

Well, ain't nothin' left but the electrons. Turn the lights out when you go.


557 posted on 05/25/2005 7:38:46 PM PDT by furball4paws (One of the last Evil Geniuses, or the first of their return.)
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To: jwalsh07

No apologies needed! The only point I meant to make is one I've made many times before - reality is eternal and immutable no matter our perception of it. Few things are more characteristic of mankind than a drive to know the truth of all things.

The apocryphal remark of Galileo upon his condemnation puts it quite well: "And yet the earth still moves!"

Now I'm off to wrap up the week-long project of organizing my books. Later!


558 posted on 05/25/2005 7:39:31 PM PDT by AntiGuv ()
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To: PatrickHenry
You're letting a good thread degenerate into utter putridity.

Well, ya gotta admit, it better than chasing after stray primes......

559 posted on 05/25/2005 7:42:48 PM PDT by longshadow
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To: PatrickHenry; RightWingNilla; VadeRetro; AntiGuv; Junior

Ignore? Ignore who? I'm sorry, but I don't know what you mean. I had thought that you, RightWingNilla, VadeRetro, AntiGuv, Junior, and I were having a productive round-table discussion concerning Primes.


560 posted on 05/25/2005 7:43:28 PM PDT by King Prout (blast and char it among fetid buzzard guts!)
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To: furball4paws

Did I say anything anybody else wasn't thinking?

561 posted on 05/25/2005 7:52:56 PM PDT by balrog666 (A myth by any other name is still inane.)
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To: jwalsh07
"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."

It seems to me that Dawkins is attacking the invocation of God as a substitute for, and an excuse not to engage in, rational scientific inquiry and analysis. His crack about God's gift to Kansas was a sarcastic jibe at this mindset. I don't see anything in his screed that is anti religion, or anti God. Are you giving him a bum rap, or am I missing something?

562 posted on 05/25/2005 7:54:22 PM PDT by Torie (Constrain rogue state courts; repeal your state constitution)
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To: balrog666

I'll give you the opportunity to say that to my face. And then I'll hurt you. Where do you live?


563 posted on 05/25/2005 7:56:08 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: Torie
Are you giving him a bum rap, or am I missing something?

I don't think so but obviously there are some who have different opinions. :-}

564 posted on 05/25/2005 7:58:44 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: jwalsh07
Your response is a bit vague. Either you are a self admitted hanging judge or I lack perspicacity - say you. Which is it? :)
565 posted on 05/25/2005 8:01:28 PM PDT by Torie (Constrain rogue state courts; repeal your state constitution)
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To: jwalsh07

Down's is trisomy 21, in other words 3 instead of 2 of chromosome 21.

It's not a point mutation if that's what you were arguing about.


566 posted on 05/25/2005 8:05:29 PM PDT by From many - one.
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To: cyborg

I was present when my father and some co-workers observed bacterial speciation in a laboratory. That is, they observed bacteria split into two groups that did not interbreed through exchange of genetic material. It was old hat then (in the 1950s.)


567 posted on 05/25/2005 8:05:38 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: js1138
The supression of ideas by authority is the greatest single crime that can be committed.

I like that. Judges and School Boards seem to enjoy supressing the notion that biology as we know it may not be a product or natural selection and random mutations after all. Shall they be charged with a crime?

568 posted on 05/25/2005 8:07:33 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: King Prout

prime


569 posted on 05/25/2005 8:08:47 PM PDT by AntiGuv ()
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To: jwalsh07; billorites
You think some of these people care what Dawkins says about President Bush? It doesn't even make a dent.

No, but that is my point. They complain and carp about others, but they are the "putrid" ones. When "creationism" is used in a school context it is religious. When Dawkins attacks it, it is not. Marilyn Monroe logic. They are famous for it.

570 posted on 05/25/2005 8:10:35 PM PDT by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: Doctor Stochastic

No scientist has ever made a blade of grass. I'm not all that impressed with evolutionary theory.


571 posted on 05/25/2005 8:11:11 PM PDT by cyborg (Serving fresh, hot Anti-opus since 18 April 2005)
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To: jwalsh07
I'll give you the opportunity to say that to my face. And then I'll hurt you. Where do you live?

You can join exmarine in that line, Bozo.

572 posted on 05/25/2005 8:11:35 PM PDT by balrog666 (A myth by any other name is still inane.)
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To: Torie
You can search on your own a make your own judgements but this is a good place to start from my point of view.

Religions Misguided Missiles

573 posted on 05/25/2005 8:15:28 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: balrog666
You ever mention anybodys mother here again in that foul way and I will break my record and send your foul mouth packing.

Punk.

574 posted on 05/25/2005 8:17:26 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: jwalsh07

Looks like your "brave" antagonist has a waiting line. I wouldn't waste a stream of urine on him.


575 posted on 05/25/2005 8:18:18 PM PDT by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: From many - one.

Downs is a chromosomal mutation. Period.


576 posted on 05/25/2005 8:18:55 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: AndrewC

Good advice but like I said if I ever meet him, I'll hurt him.


577 posted on 05/25/2005 8:19:59 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: billorites

Oxford University evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins

Science's scourge of believers declares his faith in Darwin

Prof Dawkins said believers might now be disillusioned with an omnipotent being who had just drowned tens of thousands of innocent people in Asia. "My naive guess was that believers might be feeling more inclined to curse their god than pray to him."

"I believe, but I cannot prove, that all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all 'design' anywhere in the universe is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection," said Prof Dawkins

578 posted on 05/25/2005 8:20:12 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: cyborg

You are moving the target again. I expect better from you.


579 posted on 05/25/2005 8:21:30 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: jwalsh07
Ya, that has a different tone. One thing the guy misses though. Assuming arguendo that belief in the hereafter facilitates risk taking, the taking of risk, and the risk taker mentality, has fostered most of the improvement of the human condition, and helped facilitiate the filling out of not only the ranks of the shock troops of tyranny, but also those who risk their lives to oppose it.

The cup is either half full or half empty to the atheist. This guy is of the half empty cohort.

Putting it another way, the improvement of the human condition has not been fueled by risk adverse near atheistic lawyer types, as a general rule. And that is a fact.

580 posted on 05/25/2005 8:23:37 PM PDT by Torie (Constrain rogue state courts; repeal your state constitution)
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To: Doctor Stochastic

I've not said anything I haven't said before. I just don't debate evolution. Only reason why I'm in this thread was a claim made by someone that I thought was ridiculous. I still do but doesn't mean I'm going to try and change anyone's mind about evolution. The Bible says there's nothing new under the sun and I happen to believe that.


581 posted on 05/25/2005 8:25:33 PM PDT by cyborg (Serving fresh, hot Anti-opus since 18 April 2005)
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To: Torie
Good observation. Bigots paint a narrow picture with a wide brush. Dawkins is a bigot and like Marx would ban religion if he could.

But he's written plenty. It's their for the reading.

582 posted on 05/25/2005 8:25:44 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: Junior

If you don't believe in G-d's word as in the book of Genesis which states G-d created the heavens and the earth, then it would suffice to say this bloke is bashing anyone who believes in the word of G-d? Once again we have intolerance from the far left. One thing they seem to forget about science, men are the ones who come up with the theories and men are the ones who prove these theories so who is to say they are always correct in their findings?


583 posted on 05/25/2005 8:34:36 PM PDT by Paige ("Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism." --George Washington)
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To: jwalsh07
No, you are wrong. Marx and Dawkins have very distinct thinking about religion. There is not rational way in which they can be said to be of the same school.

But hell, as long as you're bringing up schools, let's discuss the way Creationists belong to the Goebbels Big Lie school.

584 posted on 05/25/2005 8:35:46 PM PDT by edsheppa
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To: edsheppa

How are they different? Both seem to assert it deadens the synapses to reality and reason, without qualification. Help me with some of this Ed.


585 posted on 05/25/2005 8:38:49 PM PDT by Torie (Constrain rogue state courts; repeal your state constitution)
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To: edsheppa
No, you are wrong. Marx and Dawkins have very distinct thinking about religion. There is not rational way in which they can be said to be of the same school.

Pshaw. If either had had their way religion would be banned. To say otherwise is irrational. You are being irrational Ed.

But hell, as long as you're bringing up schools, let's discuss the way Creationists belong to the Goebbels Big Lie school.

Which Creationist Ed? A lie is a lie. A bigot is a bigot. They come in all flavors.

586 posted on 05/25/2005 8:39:16 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: jwalsh07

OK, you don't want to expand your knowledge base. I offered.

Now I'm back to work for a few hours.


587 posted on 05/25/2005 8:42:42 PM PDT by From many - one.
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To: kcvl
"I believe, but I cannot prove, that all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all 'design' anywhere in the universe is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection," said Prof Dawkins

A fine preacher of philosophy indeed. Even has his own choir, cheerleaders, and hymn writers.

588 posted on 05/25/2005 8:44:18 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: edsheppa

Ed, Mr Walsh thinks the ranks of those who point out the excesses of creationism are more than well represented around here. He thinks the ranks of those whose attack paints a bit too broad brush, from a rational scientific point of view, are under represented. Mr. Walsh saw an empty niche, and decided to fill it, as the challenge, and for the pleasure of not only himself, but for his God. That is my take.


589 posted on 05/25/2005 8:45:20 PM PDT by Torie (Constrain rogue state courts; repeal your state constitution)
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To: Torie

A retreat into a niche is one of the mechanisms supporting evolution. Do we really have a creationist "proving" evolution?


590 posted on 05/25/2005 8:50:54 PM PDT by furball4paws (One of the last Evil Geniuses, or the first of their return.)
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To: L,TOWM
see here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Kingdom_of_Egypt

Amenemhat III (1817 BC - 1772 BC) was the last great Pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom. Egypt's population began to exceed the food production levels and Amenemhat III ordered the exploitation of the Fayyum and increased mining operations in the Sinaï desert. He made sure that nomarchs could no longer inherit their nomes as Amenemhat II had allowed. He also invited Asiatic settlers to Egypt to labor on Egypt's monuments. But late in his reign the annual floods began to fail and his son Amenemhat IV ruled 10 years (1773 BC - 1763 BC) before dying prematurely.

If a person is willing to put a few minutes into studying Egyptian history and cross referencing it with the Bible it is possible to see the correlation.
591 posted on 05/25/2005 8:51:56 PM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com)
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To: Jorge
Now it is up to people if they want to gamble that these scriptures are lies, or if they are the truth.

The False Dichotomy rides again... It's getting quite a workout on this thread.

592 posted on 05/25/2005 8:53:45 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: furball4paws

Yes, of the thought provoking kind. Fostering a good debate, even as the devil's advocate, is a grand thing really.


593 posted on 05/25/2005 8:55:06 PM PDT by Torie (Constrain rogue state courts; repeal your state constitution)
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To: PatrickHenry
I think (RA will correct me if I'm wrong) that the lack of any visible parallax shifts wasn't something that could be dealt with until the development of photography, which made possible very detailed records of star positions.

After some Googling it seems Friedrich Bessel made the first parallax measurment two years before John Draper made the first daguerreotype image of the Moon.
Modern measurment are done with photography and spectroscopy, but it seems the pioneering work was done with sextants.

594 posted on 05/25/2005 8:57:49 PM PDT by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: From many - one.
Down's is trisomy 21, in other words 3 instead of 2 of chromosome 21.

Sometimes, sometimes not. Always with nondysjunction. Partial trisomy does not affect every chromosome 21. Translocation does not result always result in trisomy but results in Downs, the extra #21 chromosome can attach elsewhere. Translocation is heritable.

It's not a point mutation if that's what you were arguing about.

Now you're on my side.

595 posted on 05/25/2005 8:59:00 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: jwalsh07; billorites
If either had had their way religion would be banned.

Find me one, in context quote of Dawkins where he advocates for the banning (dictionary meaning: an official prohibition or edict) of religion. He's so prolific, it should be easy for you.

Which Creationist Ed?

Oh let's see, how about the poster of the article who felt compelled to add his a lie to the title? Or how about those who inevitabley claim that all evolutionists are atheists? Or maybe folks who claim that Dawkins is from the Marx school of religious thought? Creationists lies are a dime a dozen.

596 posted on 05/25/2005 8:59:44 PM PDT by edsheppa
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To: edsheppa
An irrational man can read Dawkins views on religion and come away thinking Dawkins would not ban religion if he were King. A rational man would not I think.

Is it a requirement that I now call you a liar because we disagree on this? I don't see how that gets us anywhere but if it's in the rules I'll do it.

597 posted on 05/25/2005 9:04:35 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: jwalsh07; Right Wing Professor
Honesty would compel you to acknowledge that Dawkins' views on religion are Marxist.

Why, because in your arrogance you believe it's utterly impossible that any reasonable person could disagree with you on this point for any reason other than willful dishonesty?

Seek professional help. Seriously.

You owe him an apology for your appalling behavior.

598 posted on 05/25/2005 9:07:21 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Baraonda
By killing God, evolutionists kill that which gave rise to our Western Culture, namely Christianity. By killing Western Culture...

Ooooookay... You really need to stop reading the creationist propaganda and get out in the real world some more.

And it has apparently escaped your notice that the *majority* of Americans who are "evolutionists" are *Christians*. I'm sorry if that punctures your cherished preconceptions, or makes your head explode.

599 posted on 05/25/2005 9:09:35 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Ichneumon

I'd have to see your "Fair Witness" registration card before I'd consider that.


600 posted on 05/25/2005 9:11:00 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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