Forbes has published a collection of pseudoscientific nonsense, giving free rein to the hacks and frauds of the Discovery Institute, along with a few other crackpots. There is no hint given that these are marginal characters with no connection to modern science, who are following an ideological agenda with the admitted goal of replacing science and secular government with a Christian “spiritual” rule. There are no rebuttals. I’m sure the DI was thrilled to use Forbes as an arm of their propaganda machine.
I can’t possibly go through all of it; practically every sentence these guys write is misdirection, error, or outright lie. I’ll just try to give you a taste — a nasty, bitter taste, vile and rancid, but apparently the flavor Forbes wants to attach to their magazine — and you can decide whether you want to dig deeper into the cesspit.
Jonathan Wells, one of the more contemptible charlatans behind the Intelligent Design movement. Here’s one snippet of his sleight of hand.
Before 1859 science meant (and still means, for most people) testing hypotheses by comparing them with the evidence. For Darwin and his followers, however, “science” is the search for natural explanations. Such explanations should be plausible–that is, they cannot blatantly contradict the facts–but instead of being based on evidence they are based on the assumption that everything can be explained materialistically.
See what he did there? He implies that Darwin was doing something that his peers of that time should not have recognized as science, because science is based on “evidence” and not on “materialism”…and if you read further in his load of tripe, you’ll discover that he claims that “Darwinism” has no evidence, and that ID does, and will therefore win.
In addition to redefining the meaning of science, the intelligent design creationists apparently want to redefine evidence, too. Somehow, the fact that science demands material evidence — evidence that can by measured, repeated, analyzed, and integrated into theory — is a rule that means the kind of evidence that the DI wants to present is invalid. Which is true. We aren’t going to accept immaterial, supernatural claims as evidence, no matter how much Jonathan Wells whines that his Moonie fantasies ought to constitute legitimate support for his anti-science crusade.
Of course, Michael Egnor has to ramble vacuously in there. He’s a neurosurgeon, you know. It’s always the first thing he types. But then he makes the same empty claim as Wells.
But the evidence is unassailable. The most reasonable scientific explanation for functional biological complexity–the genetic code and the intricate nanotechnology inside living cells–is that they were designed by intelligent agency. There is no scientific evidence that unintelligent processes can create substantial new biological structures and function. There is no unintelligent process known to science that can generate codes and machines.
What evidence? All they do is wave their hands at the wonderful complexity that real scientists have discovered — which nobody denies — and repeat their mantra that natural processes can’t generate complexity, therefore God. But we know that natural, unguided processes are remarkably good at building elaborate innovations, and that chance can produce surprising novelties … and that natural selection acts to prune back the exuberance of random variation to a functional diversity. Their syllogism is false. One example: look at the nylonase enzyme, produced by a frameshift error. That’s a natural process, not design, and it produced new functionality.
John West repeats his bogus argument that Darwin was to blame for 20th century racism and mass murder.
Darwin waffled about following these ideas to their logical conclusion, but his followers were not so squeamish. The Darwinian rationale for eugenics was embraced by leading biologists at Harvard, Princeton and Columbia, as well as by leading European scientists, giving the movement the clear backing of the scientific community for decades and providing for justification of the forced sterilization of more than 60,000 people in the United States and the killing of more than 200,000 disabled persons in Nazi Germany.
Darwin did not “waffle”. He understood the sense of what people like Galton were proposing, that by protecting against selection by smallpox, for instance, we are allowing people with susceptibility to the disease to propagate, which would result in populations having a greater weakness to disease. That does not mean that he endorsed shutting down modern medicine, or any of the other institutions which support the poor or infirm. He had his own ideas about better ways to promote the common good.
The more efficient causes of progress seem to consist of a good education during youth whilst the brain is impressible, and of a high standard of excellence, inculcated by the ablest and best men, embodied in the laws, customs, and traditions of the nation, and enforced by public opinion. It should, however, be borne in mind, that the enforcement of public opinion depends on our appreciation of the approbation and disapprobation of others; and this appreciation is founded on our sympathy, which it can hardly be doubted was originally developed through Natural Selection as one of the most important elements on the social instincts.
It is also true that some few in the scientific community did endorse eugenics, and even that some scientists helped the Nazis. But it is a complete lie on the part of West that there was a “clear backing of the scientific community”: there were many vocal dissenters from the eugenics program, and eugenics as a whole was less the product of scientific consensus than a façade for the endemic racism of the population as a whole. Martin Luther was pushing his crude version of eugenics in the 16th century, after all.
Another clown in this show is Michael Flannery, someone I’ve never heard of before, who has apparently written a biography of Alfred Russel Wallace that I don’t think I need to read, if this is the quality of his history.
For one thing, Darwin’s own theory could hardly be called objectively scientific. Early influences on Darwin’s youth established his predisposition to materialism and a dogmatic methodological naturalism long before his voyage on the Beagle. In short, Darwin’s metaphysic compelled his science. Wallace, on the other hand, was a tireless investigator who increasingly discerned design in nature. Unlike Darwin, Wallace’s science compelled his metaphysics.
Say what? Darwin, trained to be a theologian, admirer of Paley, was philosophically predisposed to dogmatic materialism? That is a bit of a stretch, don’t you think?
But I think it’s part of the DI’s general strategy. Relying on real, physical evidence to make a case is to be declared anathema; True Scientists™ build their case on metaphysical imaginary supernatural “evidence”, like the creationist’s rationale for a god.
I think their new motto ought to be “Making Stuff Up for Jesus”. It’s all they’ve got.
Now why Forbes would willingly act as a mouthpiece for these shills is the real mystery — I‘ve written for Forbes before, and they usually seem sensible. But since they are implicitly endorsing the DI’s approach to evidence, I guess I actually don’t need to find out — I can just invent an explanation and it’s as good as any other. Therefore, I think somebody snuck into the editorial staff’s homes late at night and carried out involuntary lobotomies on everyone. And if you try to disagree with me, obviously you are an ideologue with an a priori commitment to the metaphysic of materialism.