Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Ahem!

 
David Klinghoffer is at it again: How Ignorance Insulates the New Atheists
First, that's because the key argument against belief in God lies, as it always did, in the attempted critique of the design argument. New Atheists like Richard Dawkins recognize this, and so does Coyne. Otherwise why would he name his blog, a venue overwhelmingly devoted to religion bashing, "Why Evolution Is True"? Yet the New Atheists have uniformly kept themselves just as ignorant of modern expressions of the design argument as they have of adult religious beliefs. When Dawkins goes after Darwin-doubters, he ignores -- will not debate, will not grapple with in print, probably doesn't even read -- proponents of intelligent design, a credible scientific alternative to and critique of Darwinian evolution. So too with Coyne. When Dawkins or PZ Myers or the rest does critique a Darwin doubter, it's always some hapless creationist, apprehended unarmed in the Internet wasteland and presenting a nice easy target. Like a schoolyard bully, they will pick on the little kids, but never on an opponent their own size.
Aside from David Kinghoffer, I don't usually pick on hapless creationists. I'm more than happy to pick on the very best that Intelligent Design Creationism has to offer. Problem is, they don't listen to me.

Is that because the IDiots prefer to attack the small fry rather than stand up to someone their own size (or larger)?


30 comments :

  1. The other odd thing about that passage is its exclusive concern with 'New' atheists. Neither 'old-style' nor philosophical nor any other type of atheist accepts intelligent design, including people such as Philip Kitcher who are very familiar with all the intelligent design arguments.

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  2. Wow, that's truly ridiculous. I mean, the argument against the existence of god is primarily that there isn't any evidence of such a being. Coyne's website is named after his book.

    And I'd love to see the supposed "modern" presentations of the design argument; every one that I've seen so far has pretty much been the same as the old ones. They start with the same conclusion, fall prey to the same fallacies, and are easily dismissed for the same reasons.

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  3. I am inclined to think that they are mainly putting on a show. Their main concern is with religious people, and they want to persuade those religious folk to keep the faith. So they put on a show of presenting arguments, in order to provide faux support for their cover story that ID is science.

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  4. Klinghoffer is a sideshow clown, and should be ignored.

    Larry, you give him far more attention than he deserves.

    Just sayin' . . . . ..

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  5. Matt said:
    "And I'd love to see the supposed "modern" presentations of the design argument; every one that I've seen so far has pretty much been the same as the old ones."
    The modern version of the design argument involves 'fine tuning', consciousness and altruism - and is used by both old fashioned creationists and theistic evolutionists (or "New Creationists")

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  6. I agree with Waldteufel, most of the Creationists (perhaps all) don't merit the effort to rebut their ideas, except as they may actually influence science teaching or policy, and even then only the ideas not the individuals actually need be of concern - I think many of those people are attention seekers and would be gleeful that they are mentioned in a blog like this. Certainly being an atheist actually has nothing at all to do with religion, as Matt Prorok said, it has to do with lack of evidence and lack of any logical necessity. Finally on a trivial point how did "schoolyard bully" on Klinghoffer's site become "schoolyard buddy" here

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  7. Gary says,

    ... how did "schoolyard bully" on Klinghoffer's site become "schoolyard buddy" here

    I don't know, but I fixed it.

    Thanks.

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  8. walfteufel says,

    Klinghoffer is a sideshow clown, and should be ignored.

    Larry, you give him far more attention than he deserves.


    Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. Other Senior Fellows are William Dembski, Michael Behe, and Jonathan Wells. The Director is Stephen Meyer and the Associate Director is Jonathan G. West.

    Paul Nelson, William Lane Craig, and Scott Minnich are just Fellows.

    Intelligent Design Creationism is a political/cultural movement that's largely directed by the Discovery Institute. David Klinghoffer is a prominent member of that movement so it's fair game to mock him. He's also one of the most prominent bloggers on the Discovery Institute website.

    If that's the best they can do, it should be widely known that the movement is full of IDiots. I'm doing my best to make it widely known.

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  9. "Neither 'old-style' nor philosophical nor any other type of atheist accepts intelligent design"

    Here's the difference: 'Old atheism', people like Shaw (say) would engage the Christian theologians on their own ground, point out how their arguments weren't logical.

    Dawkins has a much better plan, I think: say he'll discuss the matter when one iota of evidence can be produced to back up its claim.

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  10. "If that's the best they can do, it should be widely known that the movement is full of IDiots."

    I spent a while on Prosblogion, where 'respected theologians' hang out (presumably with the 'extant unicorns'). They're convinced that there's a distinction between the pigfucker 'it's in t'Bible and that's good nuff fer me' types and the intellectual creationists who talk about the anthropic principle and fine tuning.

    Every one of them I talked to there is *so* scientifically ignorant it's painful. I had a conversation with a man who seriously seemed to think the Sun 'went in' at night. In *where* for fuck's sake?! He proceeded to tell me that he had a better understanding of the universe than me.

    But it's worse than that. The 'smart' creationist argument is 'the universe has laws of physics, there is rationality, who underwrites those?'.

    They just don't see the problem with this argument. Take two seconds to see if you can.

    If you answered: 'for any universe to endure it *has* to have laws ... I mean, just try imagining one without them', then ... well done, you're smarter than a theologian.

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  11. "being an atheist actually has nothing at all to do with religion, as Matt Prorok said, it has to do with lack of evidence and lack of any logical necessity."

    This is it. Is the statement 'God exists' axiomatic or testable? That's the divide, and that's why neither side can get through to the other.

    The 'first cause' argument for God, for example, hinges on it being *impossible* that there's any explanation for the origin of the universe than God. It doesn't matter if the current scientific cosmology is right or not. The mere fact it *might be* kills the traditional argument, where God is 'necessary'.

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  12. "I think many of those people are attention seekers and would be gleeful that they are mentioned in a blog like this."

    I'm sympathetic to this, and clearly some of them get off on being beaten up.

    But ... organizations like this thrive in the darkness. Their brand of Christianity is an old school mystery cult: 'there are great answers, but we're not allowed to tell you'.

    Calling them out, getting them to put their cards on the table, seeing that, no, there's nothing new there, just some cargo cult muttering of trendy science buzz words that boils down to 'there are some gaps in the current scientific model, therefore the Bible's true'.

    Go on, then, creationists: explain your great arguments. Lay them out for us.

    The most startling thing for me has been just how banal the religious experience is. 'I went for a walk in the woods once, and I was struck by beauty ... therefore God'.

    I go for walks in the woods every week where I'm struck by beauty. It is an entirely common experience to me, it's lovely. Did you really only get that sensation *once*? You poor thing. I guess if you understand what you're looking at, you can appreciate it better. Who knew?

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  13. Larry Moran: "If that's the best they can do, it should be widely known that the movement is full of IDiots. I'm doing my best to make it widely known."

    Since Meyer, Dembski, Behe, Klinghoffer, Luskin, Wells, etc.etc. accept the main claims of Darwinism (micro/macro-evolution, selection, common descent and in Behe's case human evolution) they are indeed IDiots, not IDists.

    Ray Martinez (Old Earth Paleyan IDist-species immutabilist)

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  14. Ray Martinez,

    I don't think anyone in your list of names agrees with everything in your list of concepts. Some seem to change their mind daily. It would be clearer if they adopted your sig style; we would have an idea where they stood.

    Allan Miller (Old earth common-descent-with-mutation-drift-selectionist species-a-bit-of-a-temporal-illusionist)

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  15. Ray Martinez (Old Earth Paleyan IDist-species immutabilist)

    Thus. You are an IDIot too.

    And no, not all of them other IDiots you listed accept evolution. Though they try not to tell what they accept and not accept. That you have not noticed makes you even more of both an IDiot and an idiot. Imbecile, ass-hole. And self-righteous about it.

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  16. Klinghoffer's statement is one lie after another. He should be ashamed of himself. Jesus would be.

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  17. It does seem odd that no matter how many times they claim it's a scientific issue, it comes back to God. On what grounds do they have to say those biologists aren't keeping up with the advances in the design argument? This just sounds like posturing...

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  18. Klinghoffer's assertions are exacty the reverse of the truth. Critics of ID have brought up severe (nay, lethal) criticisms of the "modern design argument". And what has been the response to these criticisms? Have the ID types rushed to refute them? Not at all -- they have been the ones ignoring the latest arguments!

    In addition, the use of arguments about fine-tuning of the Universe shows the ID types at their silliest and most irrelevant. For if the Universe is fine-tuned so that natural selection works ... then they have conceded that it does work!

    In short, Klinghoffer's description of critics of ID actually describes his own side of the argument, and he's in denial about that: "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:3)

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  19. I think if *we* just wanted to seed a planet with life, that was the only objective, and we didn't care about what sort of life or how long it took, then creating a little piece of nanotechnology that was a self replicating molecule that could build itself from common materials and adapt to changing environments would be a really smart engineering solution.

    So I can see DNA as possibly being artificial. There is the 'well, what were the people who built it made of?' problem, of course.

    Thing is ... it's completely incompatible with the idea of a divine plan. And given that the Bible *starts* by telling us that God could just magic up complete organisms, and ends by saying he's personally invested in our moral growth ... well, if he picked DNA as the way of achieving those aims, he's clearly not so bright.

    The problem with the design argument is that its proponents are very clear on what we're designed *for*. And if they're right, we're very, very poorly designed, particularly given the means the designer is said to have at his disposal.

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  20. > Ray Martinez (Old Earth Paleyan IDist-species immutabilist) <

    Ray, I'll play.

    Do you believe DNA exists and would you like to list, say, five of its key properties?

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  21. Anonymous "Do you believe DNA exists and would you like to list, say, five of its key properties?"

    Are you actually suggesting that the mere existence of DNA and its properties means evolution occurs?

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  22. Akan Miller: "I don't think anyone in your list of names agrees with everything in your list of concepts. Some seem to change their mind daily. It would be clearer if they adopted your sig style; we would have an idea where they stood."

    Both Dembski and Behe accept the concepts of evolution, selection and common descent to exist in nature.

    Once again: Imagine that; "IDists" who accept the main claims of their alleged enemy!

    DI "IDism" is conducting the same business on the opposite side of the street. Both Dembski and Behe are in bed with Darwin and Dawkins.

    Species mutability was not accepted until the rise of Darwinism.

    RM (Old Earth Paleyan IDist-species immutabilist)

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  23. Ray Martinez,

    You listed Meyer, Klinghoffer, Luskin, Wells in addition to Dembski/Behe.

    None of them would be too keen to be perceived as 'in bed with Darwin/Dawkins' - although I suppose to an entrenched reactionary, everyone looks like they belong on "the other side". Wells appears to reject much of evolution. (Lawyer) Luskin rejects common descent in favour of common design. None of them proposes that ID can be viewed as a neat little extension to the more naturalistic elements of evolutionary theory, and indeed spend well over half their time attacking the latter, rather than gathering evidence for ID.

    Some of them even seem to support some kind of "species immutablism" - it helps the ID case to see species as stuck on islands of functionality which only a prod from the designer can dislodge.

    This position, of course - "species immutabilism" - is complete and utter bollocks.

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  24. ALL of them (Meyer, Dembski, Behe, Klinghoffer and Wells) accept microevolution/species mutability and natural selection. Dembski accepts common descent too. Behe accepts common descent and human evolution!

    The point, which seems to escape Alan Miller, is that the claims mentioned above are the main claims of Darwinism. No one said these individuals accepted natural causation. They accept Intelligent causation, which means their acceptance of the main claims of Darwinism is embarrassing ignorance or evidence of delusion.

    Effects cannot be described as evolved if caused by Intelligence.

    Evolution corresponds to unintelligent causation.

    Design corresponds to Intelligent causation.

    The big wigs at the DI exist in a state of humiliation. History won't forget.

    RM

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  25. "Are you actually suggesting that the mere existence of DNA and its properties means evolution occurs?"

    Answer my question, I'll answer yours:

    Do you believe DNA exists and if so please list five of its key properties?

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  26. If Dembski accepts common descent, I would guess his days at SWBTS are limited. He got called to the principal's office last year for suggesting that the flood might be only local, so I doubt seriously that he has told anyone that he accepts common descent, and certainly not for humans and primates.

    I don't think anyone on that list accepts common descent except Behe.

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  27. "I don't think anyone on that list accepts common descent except Behe."

    Someone really should file paternity suits against a few of them, just to see how many of them insist on a DNA test.

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  28. ALL of them (Meyer, Dembski, Behe, Klinghoffer and Wells) accept microevolution/species mutability and natural selection. Dembski accepts common descent too. Behe accepts common descent and human evolution!

    The point, which seems to escape Alan Miller, is that the claims mentioned above are the main claims of Darwinism.


    Yes, I got the point, ta. I simply disagree with your assessment of their leanings. But ultimately ... I don't really give a damn what they think. To the extent that they recognise the need to accommodate real-world biological facts into their worldview, they are a couple of intellectual notches above the average Creationist ...

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  29. Ray Martinez writes:

    The big wigs at the DI exist in a state of humiliation. History won't forget.

    I doubt history is aware of the DI's area code, let alone the names of individual "big wigs." So there's naught to forget.

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  30. Ray Martinez,

    Evolution corresponds to unintelligent causation.

    Ah, but we aren't permitted to speculate on the nature of the Selector ... ! Evolution is simply change in allele frequency. Whether that is caused by (say) cold enriching the population in furrier exemplars, or an intelligent agent who chooses furry individuals for breeding for some internally-motivated reason, does not matter.

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