Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Journal DumbSwede's Journal: Christians in Scientists' Clothing 1

I have a short list of topics I submit to the Google News search engine frequently to keep abreast of recent developments in them. One such topic is SETI or "Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence." Doing this search on's main page would return close to 10 million page matches, while the news section produces a more manageable 300. These three hundred page matches are News coverage for about the last year, so about one item per day. Probably only about 1 in 4 are really about SETI. SETI matches many names around the World, and often SETI is referred to ever so tangentially. With duplication of news stories across news sites you get maybe one good piece of news on SETI a month. Of course we have yet to get the BIG news which would rocket SETI's numbers to past 300 mentions (if not 3,000) per day.

But I'm not really writing this essay about SETI, but about the ID (Intelligent Design) versus Evolution debate. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, web articles may only tangentially mention a topic you are looking for. Such was the case today while searching for SETI related items that I stumbled on a news item entitled "Intelligent Design is Empirically Testable and Makes Predictions". I am an Evolution proponent, but I like to consider myself open-minded. More importantly I like to hone my analytic skills dissecting poorly reasoned arguments.

What struck me first upon entering the website was how slick and professional its layout is. How very "Scientific" the look with a banner that shows the near occlusion of a star by a planet (Earth and Sun?), Leonardo da Vinci 's famous anatomy sketch, and a portion of a DNA molecule. All laid out in an artful graphic design that reads "Center For Science & Culture" I'm not exactly sure who's "Culture" but it sounds nice.

I began to read hoping to punch holes in Jay Richards' and Jonathan Witt's (the authors) article quickly, but the text is dry and pedantic, hard to slog through, and I suspect purposely so. It has the syntax and narrative style of a scientific paper, but no actual science. We get lots of pronouncements about what is right and wrong with other peoples science, but nothing in the way of actual supporting scientific evidence other than "we think this or that" in references to what are or aren't other peoples' good analogies.

The scientific terms are there to be sure: Empirical testability, correlation, falsifiability, criteria, conditions, continuously functional Darwinian pathway, natural selection, simple precursors, irreducibly complex. OK that last one, "irreducibly complex", is more an IDism than a scientific term, but it sounds pretty.

Lets be honest is a shame news site hoping to sucker people in. Granted I knew what I would likely find when I got there because I had Googled a headline, but the site itself is an example of the Christian Right trying to wear Scientists' clothing, allowing them to mingle with a different flock in their battle for hearts and minds.

Oh you won't find a lot of scriptural quotes on, but you just gotta know people like Jay Richards' and Jonathan Witt's hands tremble over the keyboard as they compose their articles for Oh how I bet they would like to slip in just a few quotes from Matthew or First Corinthians to bolster their arguments, but then the thin veneer of scientificating (you like that word? I just made it) would wear off.

Now I could spend another 5000 words trying to logically refute Jay Richards' and Jonathan Witt's illogical refutations of why the recent "Dover vs. Kitzmiller " court decision is bad science, which finds ID has no place in the public classroom. But that's the game they want you to play, because then they do get to be scientists because you're then in a debate with them as if their ideas had some underlining merit. No matter they haven't done one lick of scientific work, it's all words, bad thought experiments, and mostly poor analogies. They would like to elevate Michael Behe, main front man for ID, to the same stature of legitimacy as a giant like Darwin who spent years of study and years collecting, measuring, cataloging, meticulously getting the supporting facts for his assertions. Not to mention the millions of man years of study since by other dedicated researchers like Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Sewall Wright, Edward Osborne Wilson, Allan Wilson, George C. Williams, and hundreds more. Why do all the hard work when you can just form a hypothesis that resonates with a populace that generally have been raised as Christians?

Michael Behe and others would like to be considered scientists and their ideas considered science because they use scientific words. And this really shouldn't surprise as the Christian community as always been about accepting words as truth without question.

I think the reason the far Christian Right is so rabid in getting the secular world to back off from explanations of the universe that don't involve the daily intervention of an omnipotent God is some ill formed idea that the universe will melt into whatever notion a majority of people believe in -- that perhaps if we all believe in a statistical universe run on iron clad rules alone then that is what it will become. Perhaps heaven will wink out of existence, or as Tinkerbell put it: "Every time someone says: "I don't believe in fairies" there's a fairy that falls down dead."

Of course I'm not an evolutionary biologist, though I suspect my experimentation with genetic algorithms gives me an above average lay understanding of concepts like punctuated equilibrium and is superior to faux scientists like Behe. Still all I have provided here are words, not unlike those I am criticizing. I am an Agnostic. While I do not believe in Behe's explanations for why complex life couldn't come from lower forms guided by natural selection (notice how I didn't say chance) I have to allow some possibility Behe could be right. Only to the degree though that the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" could be the ultimate creator of the universe if we allow that all things are possible. I'm already running long or else I would spend a few more paragraphs on my odds on belief in an infinite number of universes where all possibilities and probabilities playing out, especially given an infinite time scale. So we end with the irony that I believe in Evolution, but believe that all things are possible, and Behe believes that not all things are possible, things like evolution for instance, but has to rely on the existence of a creator for whom all things are possible.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Christians in Scientists' Clothing

Comments Filter:

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl