Friday, April 20, 2007
Darwin vs. Design: The Evidence is (Th)In
While it's almost surely true that given enough time monkeys pounding randomly on keyboards might one day produce a Shakespeare play, all the Casey Luskins, Anika Smiths, Michael Egnors, Bruce Chapmans, John Wests, and a thousand more just like them, will never be able to cover all the crap emanating from the Discovery Institute.
Despite all their apparent industry, they've been unable to prevent the stink of these these little absurdities from reaching the public nose over their Darwin vs. Design road show and gospel hour at SMU:
- After loudly calling "Darwinists" cowards for being unwilling to debate at SMU, it came to light that Discovery quietly turned down a debate challenge from Ken Ueda, a sophomore math, physics and philosophy major there.
- Discovery howled their right to free speech was endangered by SMU faculty who objected to the perception of an association between the university and Discovery. Then they turned around and called the cops on student protesters who handed out leaflets and displayed posters during a silent protest at the conference.
- Discovery promised "astonishing scientific evidence." It delivered a talk by Lee Strobel identifying the designer as the God of the Bible.
- They also guaranteed us "astounding implications," and here, for a change, they delivered. Michael Behe told the crowd that ID theory can't explain the similarity between protein synthesizing machinery in human mitochondria and those of bacteria. Perhaps, Behe ventured, there is no good reason. Perhaps they just landed there by chance -- like a radio falling from the upper floors of an apartment into the dashboard of a car.
And now there's more coming out. Blogger Zach Moore, who has a PhD in Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine, attended the conference. And, he's written a couple of long, lovingly detailed posts on the conference here.
Here's what Moore has to say:
Stephen Meyer, writes Moore, is a likable, charismatic guy who exudes an air of intelligence. Although he's a philosopher, not a scientist, Meyer did a better job with the science than other speakers, but still appeared out of his element. In essence, Meyer made a philosophical appeal couched in scientific language.
On the evening that Lee Strobel, author of The Case for a Creator, made his presentation, Moore, detected "a slight air of a revival." He even caught a few "Amens" echoing through the audience when speakers made a point about science proving God's existence.
Jay Richards, who has a doctoral degree in philosophy and theology though not astronomy, did "nothing but speak authoritatively about astronomy." Richards spent most of his time making a fine tuning argument whose "major premise seems to be an obvious non sequitur leading into a tautology -- discovery isn't possible without the existence of sentient organisms to do the discovering, which would require the existence of habitable locations in the Universe."
By the way, if you're still interested in those student protesters, Moore reports them to be "about as tranquil and unassuming as protesters can be."
Like WMD in Iraq, astonishing scientific evidence, with or without astounding implications, was hard to come by at the Darwin vs. Design conference. On the other hand, there was a super abundance of evidence that intelligent design, even with the slickest of spinning, is nothing more than a right-wing religious movement that seeks to replace science with fundamentalist Christianity.
Many of the SMU presentations were identical to those presented at the Louisville Darwin vs. Design conference. Moore refers to Jason Rosenhouse's reports on that conference, which can be read here.