Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community


Oddities Living in the Deep Blue Sea

We all know that our planet is awash with wonderful and beautiful life forms, none more so than we find in our oceans. This photo essay from the Fox News Website provides a glimpse into the strange world of creatures that inhabit the deepest parts of the seas. Truly remarkable. Here is but one example — the blind lobster:

Darwin in Polite Liberal Society — British Edition

Every Friday, the BBC-TV’s flagship public affairs programme, Newsnight, broadcasts ‘Newsnight Review’, which covers the week’s worth of cultural events. This week’s was devoted to Things Darwin-ish. The panel consisted of Richard Dawkins, the Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood (whose latest book, The Year of the Flood, is about an Ultra-Green cult that, amongst other things, turns the sociobiologist and biodiversity guru E.O. Wilson into a saint), the poet Ruth Padel (who happens to be a descendant of Darwin’s) and the writer on religious and cultural affairs, the Rev. Richard Coles (who was half of the 1980s synth-pop group, Communards). As I’m writing this, I realize just how ‘postmodern’ Britain must seem to people who don’t live in this country. To me, this line-up looks pretty normal.

I want simply to highlight some remarks that were made on this programme because it gives you a sense of how well-behaved cultured liberals understand Darwin’s significance.

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Coffee! What can’t be denied can’t be believed either

Some readers may know that, here in Canada, I am a free speech journalist. That is, I think public discussion of any issue is distorted by the currently rampant Offended lobby.

My own view is simple: If you are selected to attend a university or smart enough to find and read a magazine or blog, then get used to the fact that you will encounter ideas you strongly dispute. Otherwise, I recommend a good trade school where you can learn how to earn a decent living – and the subject matter will not likely offend your beliefs. Read More ›

Cambrian Explosion Caught on Film

Illustra's new film "Darwin's Dilemma" delivers a knockout punch to Darwinism on Sept. 15. Darwin has tried to dodge the Cambrian explosion for 150 years; how can he survive this? Read More ›

‘Did Darwin Kill God?’ BBC TV Programme

 On 31 March, I gave one of the keynote addresses at the annual meeting of the British Sociological Association’s Religion Study Group in Durham. This meant that I could not watch the first airing of ‘Did Darwin Kill God?’ on BBC2.  I recommend that you watch this show over the next couple of days, while it’s still available on-line at the BBC website. It may be the most sophisticated treatment of this general topic on television, though as you’ll see from my comments below I found it profoundly unsatisfying. The person who scripted and presents the programme is Conor Cunningham, an academic theologian, about whom more below. Even those who disagree with his take on things – as I do – should welcome what he has done here. The challenge is to do better. Read More ›

‘Lincoln and Darwin — Live For One Night Only!’ Now On-Line

I am pleased to say that an audio version (MP3) of my play ‘Lincoln and Darwin — Live for One Night Only!’ is now on-line at ‘The Sci-Phi Show’, courtesy of Jason Rennie, the Sydneyside philosophical broadcaster. Here it is, just in time for Lincoln and Darwin’s 200th birthday (tomorrow). The play runs to 85 minutes and is premised on Lincoln and Darwin coming on one of today’s TV chat shows to talk about has happened since they died.  Each then is given the option of staying in 2009 or returning to the 19th century. One decides to stay and the other goes.  The play was originally staged in Liverpool in September 2008 as part of the annual meeting of the British Read More ›

Theos Survey: A Case of Unintelligent Design?

Andrew Sibley has drawn attention to the recent Theos survey of the UK public’s beliefs in evolution, creationism and intelligent design. Wearing my sociologist’s hat, one overriding conclusion comes through in this survey: It was very poorly designed. Theos should get its money back from the social researchers they hired. Theos wants to give the impression that the public holds confused views about the various positions relating to the origins of life. In fact, Theos is the one confused. Have a look at how the various positions were described and what people thought of them. I’ve collapsed the statistics because I want to focus on the exact wording: Young Earth Creationism is the idea that God created the world sometime Read More ›

Introduction to a Science of God: Fathoming the Intelligence Behind Intelligent Design

This is the first of a series of posts on ‘The Science of God’, aka my response to the charge that ID is indistinguishable from Pastafarianism. Let me start with a familiar Q and A:


Q: What, in a nutshell, is the Darwinist argument against ID?

A: First of all, nature doesn’t exhibit the sort of design that requires a prior intelligence to explain it. But even if nature were shown to exhibit ‘intelligent design’, ID has no way of specifying the responsible intelligence. It might as well be the Flying Spaghetti Monster. So at best ID might undermine the adequacy of Darwinist accounts without advancing anything positive on its own behalf.


The import of this analysis is obvious: ID is a science-stopper: ID tries to leverage Darwinism’s own difficulties into grounds for concluding that science can only go so far before one needs to turn to something else, presumably blind faith of some sort. It’s easy to see why Judge Jones didn’t have much time for ID at the Dover Trial. He basically bought this analysis, as spoon-fed to him by the ACLU lawyers. What worries me is that some ID supporters may buy it as well. In other words, they would wish to have ID taught in science classes, not as an alternative to Darwinism but as a means of demonstrating the limits of scientific inquiry altogether.

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I would like to donate to Wikipedia, but …

Wikipedia has a big fundraising push right now. Here’s what I sent to donate@wikimedia.org: To whom it may concern, Wikipedia is a useful resource for uncontroversial areas, but in areas of controversy I find it quite biased. My own extensive biography at Wikipedia is terribly slanted. Colleagues who try to correct misrepresentations find their edits scrupulously removed. Until and unless Wikipedia is more careful about fact-checking and provides some means for correcting the bias of editors, I cannot in good conscience donate to Wikipedia. At the very least, I would suggest that acknowledged experts in an area (such as the living subjects of biographies) be given a 1,000-word response section to relevant articles — sections completely at their discretion and Read More ›

Bill Maher’s “Religulous” documentary a flop?

Bill Maher’s “Religulous” documentary mocking religion in the United States opening weekend box office revenues were 10% higher than “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”. Our atheist Darwinian friends proclaimed that Expelled was a flop. By that standard so is Religulous. Correction: That should read our atheist and theistic Darwinian friends… the common denominator is being in the tank for Darwin. Mibad.

Burning Down the House

The YouTube of the this video was shut down by Unversal and Warner music groups. You can still see it at Liveleak.com. Click here to see it. Make it viral. Link to email to everyone you know, post everywhere you go: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f67_1222761495

Legacy media on the way out quite soon, says tech guru – how will that affect the ID controversy?

Paul Gillin, a veteran technology journalist and formerly editor-in-chief of ComputerWorld, thinks that legacy mainstream media (MSM) are toast.

Sure, lots of people think so, and yet another techhead’s view wouldn’t matter – except that I keep hearing the same thing from journalists who hoped it wasn’t true, and used to say it wasn’t. From Gilpin:

Why now? People have been wrongly forecasting the death of newspapers for years. Why is this time different?

The first decade of the consumer Internet was very different from that which we’re now entering. Web 1.0 was the display Internet. It was a decade when organizations put their brochures online and users got comfortable with the idea of a global network. Search tools were rudimentary, Web content was difficult to create and interactivity was limited.

Yes, Paul! And even worse, Yapster the Terrier was more likely to have a Web page than his master’s business was. Yawn. Not much of a threat to established media, that. But …

That’s all changed. It’s now easy for individuals to create Web content. Computing power, storage and bandwidth costs are declining rapidly. The open-source software movement has dropped the price of software to near zero. Search engines have become a more effective marketing channel than e-mail. Google AdSense and affiliate marketing networks can generate income for Web site operators, even at low traffic levels. Today, a small group of people with a few thousand dollars and a good idea can build a self-sustaining Web franchise in a matter of months. You couldn’t have done that five years ago.

Layered on top of that is a demographic shift that is about to move a large new group of Web-savvy consumers into the economic mainstream. This new generation simply doesn’t have the loyalty to established media that their parents do. And they don’t read newspapers at all.

Don’t read newspapers? No, and for good reason. At my local convenience store, the guy flogging subscriptions to the Globe & Mail couldn’t even give away a pile of free papers. For one thing, now that Toronto makes us pay for recycling by the size of the bin, who wants a big pile of newsprint?

I’m more skeptical of Gilpin’s claim that the “new journalism” doesn’t need to be accurate because industrious armies of readers will correct stories, and that’s okay. Okay for whom? For people who don’t need accurate information?

If I need to know the expected overnight temperature in Toronto tonight, I’ll go with the Weather Network’s Internet forecast, right or wrong – because one thing that hasn’t changed is that there are only 24 hours in a day and I can only invest a tiny amount of time in finding out – and I don’t need one hundred commenters’ opinions on the subject. In general, a system that cannot distinguish between informed and uninformed opinion will likely be replaced by one that can. But we shall see.

Now, how will this affect the ID controversy? Well, let’s see: Darwin’s mob will lose the considerable advantage they gained from the formula pro-Darwin stories generated by the legacy MSM. They will, however, still have the advantage that so many of them are supported by the taxpayer, and they may gravitate increasingly toward political action to silence dissent.

One thing about predicting the future is that it is riskier than predicting the past.

Also: Just up at the Post-Darwinist

Jailed Canuck media mogul Conrad (Tubby) Black endorses ID-friendly Jindal for McCain’s veep. Go Tubs! Read More ›