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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Intelligent design and popular culture: Secular humanists lead the way in offering open debate

Steve Fuller, an agnostic sociologist who has chosen for his subject the debate between intelligent design and Darwinism has come under predictable attack from widely publicised Darwinoid trolls and has responded.

Kudos to New Humanist for having the good sense to actually ask for a response, instead of sitting, fat and contented, like a toad in a hole, spouting ... whatever a fat, contented toad spouts.

Given this evidence, I must perhaps revise my opinion of secular humanists. Maybe not all are useless tax-supported sludge, launching government-funded persecutions. Some may actually enjoy a serious exchange of ideas. Well, I like those sorts of revisions. Moving people into the category of "interesting" is always good.

Meanwhile, Steve Fuller has also written a play:

He expects the play to stir up Darwinists, even though its aim was not to "beat (the Darwinists) over the head" or argue that they had to believe in God. He said he was seeking to show that the evidence base Darwin had to work with had "really shifted a lot".

Writing a dramatic work had been an interesting experience, he said. "(It) requires a different kind of thinking from normal academic work. You have to lay the stuff out much more slowly than you would if you were writing a paper, where someone has the option of rereading."

Professor Fuller wrote the play, Lincoln and Darwin: Live for One Night Only!, as a "creative" replacement to the usual symposium he would be expected to give in his capacity as president of the sociological section of the BA festival.

He hopes to stage the work at next year's festival of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
It is hard to imagine that the American Association for the Advancement of Science will be as open as New Humanist. Too much public money, too many orgmen involved.

But, in my view, Fuller's troupe should go to the AAAS Festival nonetheless, perform the play on the outskirts, and use viral marketing to guarantee a bigger crowd for their show than for the boring establishment sludge.

That would perfectly mirror the intelligent design controversy in North America.

Then all we need is more useless pundettes who flunked Grade Six math freaking out over why anyone supposes that the universe shows evidence of design.

Pundette cannot get through her own day without sixteen image assistants/consultants, so that proves her point conclusively, right?

Yuh. Camera Two, dolly in to cleavage.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Intelligent design and elite culture: Why evidence would not convince many top people that there is design in the universe

My lawyer friend, Ed Sisson draws my attention to the Wikipedia entry on the X Club.
That was a dinner group of 8 or 9 men, started by Thomas Huxley, whose primary purpose was to promote Darwin and combat religious influence on science. Another member, John Tyndall, gave a very popular lecture tour in the US Oct. 1872 - Feb. 1873. The X Club placed people in leading positions in science institutions -- indeed, played a key role in founding them.

At the same time, in the US there was great optimism for the future. With the civil war having resolved the great issue of slavery, with railroads, etc., there was a big push for public education and the founding of German-style research universities. The early 1870s saw the beginning of a wave of fossil hunting (see the Bone Wars entry on Wikipedia). The major institutions of science got their start in those years.

Basically, it was an era where science gave hope for the future if only it could be freed not only from religion, but from fantasists and charletons and seance-leaders, etc. Darwinism gave them a
creation story that was vital to their effort to keep free of religions, and so it has remained ever since.

The X-Club was also involved in religious matters, basically in the way Eugenie Scott's NCSE is today: promoting the idea that the Bible can't possibly be literally true, that science and religion each have their own spheres, etc. They don't really care so much about religion, they care about their way of doing science, and are happy to influence religions in a way that leaves them the freedom to continue.

If you read the Wikipedia entries on Tyndall and others, you will see people who loved to do science, and by implication, had no interest in using the teachings of religious texts such as the Bible to guide their thinking on any matter that came within their understanding of science. Tyndall comes across much as Carl Sagan did: friendly, curious, smart, caring about young people.

I don't think anything we see in the debate today is much different than it was in 1875 -- except for something that ought to have transformed the debate, but hasn't: that the data collected since Tyndall's 1872-73 US tour and Huxley's 1876 US tour refute the "natural processes are sufficient" foundation of Darwinism.

As a matter of sociology and human nature, I do not think it reasonable to expect that institutions set up 130 years ago in reliance on the "natural causes are sufficient" principle, that have trained thousands upon thousands of people whose careers are also dependent on the same principle, will ever acknowledge the refutational effect of this data, or indeed of any data.
No, I don’t think so either, Edward. And it’s not just them. The typical science journalist can look at a pattern of data from the history of life that clearly refutes Darwinism and somehow "see" Darwin in it. It's a religion, and not evidently a very inspiring one.

In my experience, a law of human nature is that when the elite try to improve on popular religion, they invent something worse. All good change comes from way above them.

I do not recommend to anyone that they pay attention to Wikipedia, except to tell us the prejudices of the age.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Intelligent design and popular culture: Why respect people?

Irrepressible columnist, prof, and scourge of worthless admins Mike Adams warned his students recently:
If you have not yet heard (or read) about me, I am an outspoken Christian professor who has, at times, been critical of certain aspects of evolution. I mention this because it affects the way I see you and the way I will treat you this semester.

Rather than seeing you as the mere product of random mutation, I see you as a unique individual who is of infinite worth to his Creator. Each one of you has unique and special talents and along with that a distinct purpose in life that makes you not just unique but irreplaceable.
I wonder how many of Adams’s students would prefer to be a mere evolved amoeba, as long as they knew that they would not be held accountable for their own behaviour?

Apparently, Adams, for example, refuses to allow people to squawk into cell phones during class time. Such oppression, honestly. [Hip hip hurray!]

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


Intelligent design and popular culture: Sherlock Holmes on design

Friend Alan Yoshioka, otherwise The Sheepcat, sends me this item which he titles, “Sherlock Holmes on design”. In the words of The Spirit’s Sword, "Here, in the first forty seconds of the clip, Holmes deduces the existence of God from the existence of flowers, the speech delivered in beautiful tones by Brett. "

According to Sword,
The speech in the original story is rather longer. In the original Holmes explains that there are many aspects of the flowers which are necessary in the first case for their survival, however their beauty is an "extra" not necessary for the immediate survival of the flowers, and is therefore a gift from a divine and loving providence, which not only gives us enough, but an abundance and more.
It is an argument for design that, I confess, I have never clearly understood. Perhaps I have spent too much time in survivable ugliness. Maybe when I retire ...

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Message to Canadian readers: Make intellectual freedom an election issue

Rob Breckenridge, host of The World Tonight, weeknights from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on AM770 CHQR, urges Canadians to make free speech an issue in the current Canadian election campaign (vote October 14):
Election gag laws are just one symptom of the malaise descending over Canadian society. When freedom of speech is ailing, democracy itself cannot be well.

Let's take advantage of the opportunity presented to us, and use this election campaign to find out how committed all of the parties are to the issue of freedom of expression, and what if anything needs to change.

It's not as though the politicians need to be dragged kicking and screaming into a debate over freedom of speech - it's right there beneath the surface:

The national critical issues survey sent out to Conservative candidates includes this question: "Do you agree that some of these 'human rights tribunals' have overstepped their bounds?" Sounds like the perfect question to ask during the leaders debate.

Earlier this year, a Liberal MP brought forward private member's motion M-446, which would eliminate Section 13(1) from the federal human rights legislation, thus removing the ability of human rights commissions to take on complaints regarding speech. How do the various parties feel about M-446? Or about Section 13 itself?

The opposition parties, meanwhile, have assailed the government over Bill C-10, which could deny film tax credits to Canadian-made movies deemed to be "too controversial" in content. While denying a tax credit is hardly tantamount to censorship, one could envision financial pressures exerting a chill of sorts on the Canadian film industry.

By all means, let's revisit that debate and gauge the parties' views on artistic expression. Whether it's "Young People F---ing" or the infamous Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoons, artistic freedom and freedom of speech are one and the same.

For what it is worth, here are my views on the three key topics Rob raises:

- Election gag laws. They are supported by all parties because they benefit the professional politician over against the voter. Conservative Stephen Harper, Liberal Stephane Dion, socialist Jack Layton, that Green party gal - politicians from fruit right over to nuts - benefit from restricting the issues that people are allowed to bring up during a campaign.

Essentially, under an election gag law, all the politicians can agree to ignore an issue and then no one else can bring it up in advertising - no matter how important the electorate feels it is. So are you surprised that they all tend to support election gag laws? We should all join Rob in opposing them.

- the infamous Section 13 and the Canadian "human rights" commissions in general. I have written much on them, and have appended some links below. Essentially, when you ask your local politicians where they stand on Section 13 and the "human rights" commissions, you are asking them whether they still think liberal democracy is a worthwhile form of government.

Expect to hear massive hesitancy and qualification from some. Some politicians enjoy wielding unchecked power. And the pay isn't bad, either - they vote their pay themselves, of course.

- Bill C-10. Happily, I cannot yet be forced to see the awful "controversial Canadian films" that opponents of C-10 want to protect. However, until we shut down the "human rights" commissions, I agree with Stephen Harper that the government should distance itself as far as possible from anything that might "offend" anybody. Taxpayers cannot be on the hook for massive awards to people who are offended by garbage whose only connection to us is that fatuous civil servants agreed to front it.

However, if the commissions are shut down and no one can get awards simply for feeling offended, I won't get my shirt in a knot about the government throwing some cash at Moon Bat City's many film crews. It's a bit better for national stats than just putting them on welfare. We can pretend a little longer that we have a viable film industry that isn't merely Hollywood North.

E-mail Rob here if you want to comment on the article linked above.

Here's Suzanne Fortin on free speech:

We're at a crucial juncture in the history of Canada. We either protect free speech, or we go down the road of imposed ideological conformity.

This may sound a little alarmist to the average Canadian, who probably does not have a lot of time for these issues. I know this-- I'm a mom, and I know I can't follow all the issues, either.

The erosion of free speech is nothing less than the erosion to seek and expound Truth. How can I find Truth if I am not allowed to ask uncomfortable questions? How can I spread the Truth-- or even just test a working hypothesis-- if I cannot say what's on my mind?

Suzanne! Why don't you trust government-paid hacks to tell you what you may think? You must need therapy! You can be ordered into therapy, you know ....

(Note: Readers, if you are just itching to write and remind me that Rob and I were recently involved in a public squabble over his membership in the ridiculous Darwin cult, save your typing fingers. We both want to live in a country where his membership is okay, and it is okay for me to make fun of it. )

Recent posts on Canada's intellectual freedom crisis:

Liberal fascism: A survival manual for non-fascists in Canada (and probably in Europe)

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Political science profs nervous about coming here ...

Intellectual freedom: Survival is design not chance. O'Leary's plenary address to Write! Canada 2008, for which she received a standing ovation

Canadian election nears ... a chance to vote for freedom?

Intellectual Freedom in Canada: Oops ... a political party has actually noticed the problem? Not just collecting fat pay cheques?

The Mark Steyn show trial in Vancouver

Canadian radio bureau chief: Yes, the campaign to suppress free speech in Canada does affect the United States

Intellectual freedom: Is misunderstanding of Internet
part of Canada's "human rights" problem?

Write! Canada coverage highlights intellectual freedom risks, troubles of book industry

Open letter to comedian Guy Earle ... the latest to be charged by a Canadian "human rights"commission

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Friends fear the comics won't dare be funny in ways that matter

Intellectual freedom in Canada: ... Look out, PC bigots! The True North strong and free is shaking off your chains ...

Canadian comics rally for freedom: Let's
LAUGH Canada's "human rights" commissions out of existence!

I must reserve a ticket for the Canuck Comics' rally for freedom

Intellectual freedom in Canada: The first order of business is comedy!

Dutch cartoonist arrested for rude cartoons

No, not without a fight ...

Roundup, plus, Focus, guys, focus: To restore civil rights, get our laws changed, don't attack individuals

To find out why there is an intelligent design controversy, read:

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