Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Flowcharts for the Foolish

In part three of a projected 10-part series, the Discovery Institute's cub reporter, Casey Luskin, having decided, apparently, to make up in industry what he's lacking in brains, goes after philosopher Barbara Forrest, and Pooh-like gets lost in the trees of his own 100-acre woods.

Having spent the better part of his last, interminable post attempting to prove that Forrest was mistaken to have cited statements by a number of intelligent design leaders, including Phillip Johnson, to demonstrate that they are motivated not by science but faith, Luskin now shifts ground to say,"Okay, maybe they are creationists and evangelical scholars, so what?"

Scratching his imaginary chin whiskers, young Luskin writes, "Hmmm. So now being a 'creationist' or an 'evangelical scholar' disqualifies you from promoting your views as a legitimate scientific theory, even if your scientific views have empirical justification outside of your religious beliefs?"

Well, no Casey, being a creationist or evangelical scholar doesn't disqualify you from promoting your views. Until this country becomes a theocracy, liberal, card carrying ACLU -Darwinist, god-despisers will defend your right to promote your views whether you provide empirical justification outside of your religious beliefs or not.

But when people who believe the earth is 6,000 years old tell us that they want to "defend" science from scientists, the rest of us -- having our inboxes filled with offers of cash from Nigerians who just need a little assistance making a money transfer -- may want to take a closer look at your "empirical justifications" before we shovel 150 years of research into the dustbin of history.

While intelligent design activists are fond of telling us there is a mountain of evidence to support ID theory, RSR finds that we almost never hear any particulars. However, in the latest installment of his chef-d'oeuvre, Luskin, ever eager to please, provides us at last with a handy link to those empirical justifications that -- much like a stack of tortoises -- bear the ponderous weight of ID upon their backs.

RSR clicked on the link in the hope of finding ID's holy grail -- actual physical evidence that supports the ID hypothesis. And we must confess, now, that -- like the person who says the pea is under the middle shell -- we don't quite know what we expected to find exactly: the GPS coordinates describing the current location of the designer, a set of blueprints for the bacterial flagellum, a Star Trek-like transporter that could poof fish with fins and scales, or birds with feathers, beaks, and wings into existence out of thin air. Something. Anything.

What we got was a flowchart.

The last time RSR looked, the word empirical was defined as relying on observation or experiment. A flowchart, we foolishly believed, was a schematic representation of a sequence of operations -- a sort of logic.

Luskin set out to prove Forrest wrong, by arguing it's okay that intelligent design theorists are all creationists and evangelical scholars because they have this mountain of scientific evidence to back up their claims.

But losing his way in the dense underbrush of his own words, Luskin ends up asserting that a creationist armed with a three-step flowchart trumps any number of fossils, homeobox genes that perform the same developmental function in both fruit flies and man, and the succession of fossils from the simple forms found in older rock to the more complex in newer rock strata. (For a more comprehensive list of the physical evidence supporting evolution look here.)

On the basis of Luskin's proffered evidence, RSR has concluded that you're more likely to get rich sending money to a Nigerian post office box than you are to gaze on the promised land from the flanks of ID's Mount Evidence.


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