Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Discovery Institute Takes Aim at Darwinist Internet Postings

In a recent article titled Asking the Right Questions Brings Out Darwinists' True Colors, the Discovery Institute continues to applaud the arguments of anti-Darwinist neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Egnor.

Will these guys never give up? No, no they won't. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Discovery Institute, it's a conservative Christian think tank that campaigns against evolution being taught in public schools in the United States. They'd rather have their own theory, "Intelligent Design," taught in classrooms. Intelligent Design (ID) argues that life is too complex to have possibly evolved on its own, and must have some type of intelligent designer at its ultimate beginning.

Since ID is not really a scientific theory at all, I'm not going to spend time arguing against it here. Just type it into Google and you'll find lots of scientists and lawyers who will tell you why it shouldn't be allowed in science classrooms. What I AM going to talk about is how silly the Discovery Institute is for posting an article like the one above.

What the Discovery Institute is resorting to are the same type of ad hominem attacks they claim to be victimized by. Get a clue, Discovery Institute. The only thing that such inflammatory blog comments and post titles reflects is that there is a great deal of opposition for Egnor and his ideas. To say that he's making Darwinians show their "true colors" by forcing remarks such as "Michael Egnor is a Crappy Neurosurgeon Who Will Cut out Your Brain and Eat It," is, quite frankly, embarrassing. I doubt for that anyone at the Discovery Institute thinks for a second that all Darwinists would make such statements. And, if they do, they are obviously stupid; if blog titles could be used as ammunition against a cause, I bet I could find a lot of pretty stupid ones relating to Christianity and ID. In fact, here are a bunch I found in less than five minutes:

  • "The critical thinking and precision of science began to really affect my ability to just believe something without any tangible evidence." - Salvador Cordova
  • "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture." - Pastor Ray Mummert
  • "It is a just retribution for improper sexual misconduct" - Mother Teresa, on AIDS
  • "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."
  • "We don't have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand." - James Watt, Secretary of the Interior under Ronald Regan

So, there you go. If the Discovery Institute doesn't want to admit that it's spewing out worthless ad hominem propaganda,
then they'd better have a pretty good defence against these comments. If we are going to admit anything said by any supporter of an ideology as representative of an entire group, I think proponents of Christianity and ID are going to have their hands full explaining a way a lot of nonsense that's flying around out there.

Incidentally, if Egnor would like an answer from the blogosphere to his question "how does [sic] Darwinian mechanisms produce new biological information?", I'm only too happy to obliged. There really is no doubt at all that genetic variation and recombination accounts for the physical differences we can observe in organisms around us. Take dog breeders, for example. Nobody's going to argue that two German Shepherds will have German Shepherd puppies, or that Chihuahuas have Chihuahua puppies. But a neither of these dogs are wolves. Humans have selected for traits they desire in dogs for thousands of years, and through selective breeding have developed the hundreds of dog breeds around the world today.

Now, it doesn't take too much of a stretch of the imagination to understand that similar selection can happen in nature. The only difference is, this selection is unconscious. Maybe one year is extra-dry, or extra-wet, for example. These conditions favour, or "select for", various different qualities in animals, much like a dog breeder would. Those animals whith characteristics that are selected for are more successful, and therefore go on to have more babies, many of which would probably share the trait which made their parents successful. Thus, that particular trait increases in the gene pool of the species, and that animal can be said to have undergone evolutionary change under Darwinian selection. After millions of years of such small changes adding up, we've ended up with all the biological variety we see around us today.

Of course, one would hope that a neurosurgeon would have some training and experience in basic biological theory, but I guess Egnor didn't pay attention during that part of university.

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