Grey Thoughts
10.6.05
 
Evolution - James Pinkerton peddling fallacies and falsehoods
Instapundit recently linked to an article on the Evolution/Creation Debate and Intelligent Design by James Pinkerton. James apparently feels that as a Columnist and a Lecturer in a graduate school of management he is qualified to make bold pronouncements such as one of the oldest canards in the book, that "No serious scientist believes the literal Biblical creation account". This is commonly known as the 'No true scotsman' logical fallacy and is patently and demostratively false. Answers in Genesis (AIG) and the Institute of Creation Research have a number of staff that do serious scientific research. AIG has a list here of such scientists. Note that I am not saying anything about the proportion of scientists who believe anything, merely that serious scientists belief in the biblical creation account. This is enough to show that James is peddling an insulting falsehood.

James continues to poison the well as he goes on to say
And ID, of course, is religiously inspired....But that "intelligent cause," which the IDN does not further identify, is by definition some sort of metaphysical -- or, if one prefers, divine -- Creator.
James is trying to appeal to the concept that any non-naturalistic explanation is religion, but restricting explanations to naturalistic causes is not. Both are metaphysical claims, and so both a essentially 'religious'. Essentially, James is spouting materialist bigotry.

And while religion is at the core of ID, its proponents generate lots of science-y arguments.
'science-y'? Maybe we should start calling James work 'professional-y'? That James is committed to evolution as explaining all things is evident by his next comments
Behe argues that it just isn't possible that random evolution could have produced the flagellum -- the propeller/tail -- on a bacteria. Such an organ, he concludes, is "irreducibly complex," which is to say, only a Master of Complexity could have created it.
But it's a fallacy to argue that just because one person -- or even all the people of an era -- can't figure out how something works,

Actually, Michael Behe's arguement is not an argument from ignorance, as James seems to think. Behe's argument is made from the knowledge of how chance and natural law works. It seems however that James is the one arguing from ignorance as he claims that "And so it is with science: eventually, some scientist will figure out how the "trick" of the bacteria's flagellum is done." I.e. It must have happened via naturalistic causes, even though we can't understand how it is possible. James is promoting a naturalism of the gaps argument.

So to defend their particular religious worldview, they must undercut the work of Charles Darwin.
Just how many times will James continue to show his materialist bigotry. As if he and darwnists are somehow not trying to promote their own worldview. This is known as hypocrisy in most circles.

James goes on to contradict his own article by bring out another faithful canard of the evolutionist.
As TCS's own Nick Schulz, a certified non-leftist free marketer, observes, "There's plenty of room for God in a Darwinian universe. Darwin operates on different plane altogether from theology."
Of course, as James previously said that "No serious scientist believes the literal Biblical creation account" it is quite clear that he does not think that science and theology operate on a different plane, and indeed have implications that affect each other. So which is it James?

James has obviously read the evolutionist playbook and is using it play by play, because he continues with yet another standard myth...
And that's the problem with ID: it's simplistic. To argue that complex biological phenomena are "irreducibly complex" is to abandon the scientific quest.
Sure, and a forensic scientist deciding that a particular event was caused by a human agent stops scientific investigation too. Oh, and an archaeologist who concludes an artifact was made by humans 4000 years ago is stopping science...

As Schulz suggests, religion is simply on a different plane than science. The whole point is that you take it on faith: you either believe or you don't. In fact, the Catholics put Mysterium Fidei, the mystery of faith, at the center of their belief system. Which is fine, but once again, it's not science.
Again, James creates a false distinction between science and faith. His own faith in materialism has been clearly shown throughout his article, yet this materialism CANNOT be proved by science. Clearly, science relies on assumptions that are accepted by faith.

So enough on what might be called RID, for Religious Intelligent Design. One can either believe in it, or not, but if one does, it must be taken on faith.
You have to wonder why James thinks science can determine intelligent causes in many fields, but not in evolution. Clearly, he is taking this on faith himself. The real question however is this. If we cannot detect design with scientific methods, then how can we detect non-design (i.e. things caused by chance and natural law) with scientific methods?

Well, James seems to think Intelligent design can be scientific, and he indicates when he thinks it is....
But here's something coming that's real, replicatable, and thus inarguable. Let's call it SID, for Scientific Intelligent Design -- that is, designed here on earth by mortal, tangible human beings....Consider, as one example of early SID in action, our best friend, the dog. Gazing down at a Chihuahua next to a Cocker Spaniel, it's hard to believe that those different breeds are the same species, Canis lupus familiaris. And all dogs, however cute, are descended from the fierce wolf, Canis lupus. Yes, these interconnections are hard to believe at first, but biologists can prove them.
Bzzt, Sorry James. But history cannot be repeated. You may be able to show that it was 'possible' that it happened a certain way, but you cannot show that it DID happen in that way. And as any scientist should tell you, 'proof' is for maths, not experimental science. What is most ironic though, is that those wacky creation scientists, you know, the ones who don't have any 'serious scientists' have been pointing out the examples of dogs and wolves being releated for many years...well before biologists 'proved' it.

Clearly, this is just another example of a committed materialist evangelising his faith and pretending he somehow believes in the 'default' postion.
Comments:
It's almost getting too easy to discredit these "attacks" by evolutionists. They're all the same - from the same "playbook" as you state. Good critique.
 
Try this one...

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05154/515467.stm

This was originally published in the Wall St Journal's Science Journal 2 weeks ago. Same old playbook.
 
Yeah...another brilliant play by play...
I just love the straw men in that article....
 
Just noticed this post via a Google search. I also did a posting on the Pinkerton article (found via the Instapundit link) and the argument from ignorance, though later than yours. You might also find this posting of mine and the news item it links to interesting.

I'll have to keep an eye on your blog. Best wishes!
 
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