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The island that (maps notwithstanding) simply wasn’t there . . .


This morning, I ran across a news item on the “undiscovery” of Sandy Island off Australia:

Most explorers dream of discovering uncharted territory, but a team of Australian scientists have done the exact opposite.

They have found an island that doesn’t exist. (vid at the linked)

This led me to think about the institution of an award for exposing scientific fraud and a NewScientist interview with Shi-min Fang, its first recipient:

What prompted you to start challenging dubious pseudoscientific claims in China?

In 1998, after eight years studying in the US, I returned to China and was shocked to see it was deluged with pseudosciences, superstitions and scientific misconduct. . . .

(This one is disturbing, NS even speaks of a threat to life for whistle-blowing. Let us trust the problem can be fixed and that it will not cost blood to do so.)

From this sort of news, however, I am then led to ponder about how much of our “map” of the remote, unobserved past of origins is really accurate and what grounds the emphatic confidence in the consensus we commonly hear concerning a timeline that is so often announced as being almost final. Especially, the “maps” of the origin of life (which admittedly is the acknowledged zone of uncertainty) and of the origin of major body plans.

Especially, as today marks two months of no comprehensive response on my 6,000 word essay offer to proponents of the chance and necessity only account of origins.

What are our thoughts? END

Well, I've only completed the first chapter. So we'll see. :) He doesn't hesitate to take potshots at "the Church" but the only case of an actual stoppage of science that he offers was due not to the church but due to the French revolution. He provides the following quote:
The Republic needs neither scientists nor chemists; the course of justice cannot be delayed.
That should give us all pause. Mung
Presumably, Mung, the author would have been on defensible ground if he'd clearly distinguished between "natural purposes" -- purposes that inhere within nature as such, whether of immanent (e.g. Aristotelian) or transcendent (e.g. Thomistic) origin -- and "existential purposes" -- purposes that human beings choose and act upon. It's widely claimed that Darwinian and neo-Darwinian theories of evolution undermine support for positing natural purposes. I think that there is an element of truth to such claims but they are usually exaggerated, sometimes considerably. Kantian Naturalist
I'm currently reading Life's Ratchet. It's pretty astounding how the author asserts that science has solved the mystery of the origin of life. By removing the last vestiges of purpose, Darwin's theory of evolution made God unnecessary for explaining the natural world. The last refuge of the supernatural seemed to be the wondrous multiplicity of life forms. Indeed, together with the life force, purpose could now be placed on the ash heap of scientific history. One has to wonder then, why he wrote this book. To what end? Mung
I don't think your invitation was extended to rational people; how could it have been when they do not believe in Intelligent Design? Indeed, implicitly mock the greatest scientific minds of the last century, from whose paradigms they earn their daily bread. A mainstream religious faith must surely be the minimal requirement for a rational being; granted that intelligence, itself, is fraught with ambiguity. I've never thought that ancient human beings possessed inferior intelligence to ourselves, but that they would have been simply more focused on less, i.e. survival in a pre-civilised society, as somebody mentioned in an article here the other day. In fact, when we look at so-called 'abiogenesis' we are, in effect, looking at a graven image, an idol carved out of a piece of wood by members of a very, very strange cult. So when the ancient Hebrews fleeing from Egyptian servitude saw miracles, wonders, signs, scarcely imaginable by us, such as Christ's calming of the wind and waves, yet turned to fashioning a golden calf to worship, I was always puzzled. Indeed, Aaron, the high priest and Moses own brother took charge of the affair. How could it have been so. Bowing the knee to a blind, deaf and dumb artifact of their own fashioning. One of the Psalmists asks the same question? It's as if supreme folly is hard-wired in us, and we need something special to save us from ourselves. Christians identify that as the gift from God of supernatural grace. Until I recognized the correspondence of those ancient Hebrew idolators with the adherents of the abiogenesis cult, I had found it really difficult to imagine that human beings with a fully-formed capacity for thought, however infantile, could behave in such a patently such a cretinous manner. They may contend that they cannot be a cult, since they represent the mainstream, but so were the adherents of the Aryan heresy. They cannot be weaned or belaboured away from their folly in any kind of short order, in normal circumstances, anyway. As Max Planck put it: 'Science advances one funeral at a time.' Abiogenesis is just not negotiable - any more than explaining to an ancient Hebrew idolator that worshipping an inanimate, stone-dead idol, is utter madness, would be received with wisdom and gratitude. Axel

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