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John Kwok – the Jekyll and Hyde of Paleobiology



Man, this guy makes PZ Myers look calm, cool, and collected.

Click here to read this hilarious exchange between David Heddle and John Kwok on a typical “science” blog. It’s funny until Kwok starts throwing ill-advised libels about. I wonder if Abbie “Potty Mouth” Smith will do him a big favor and flush this down the memory hole (in the words of Jerry Pournelle) “Real Soon Now”.

Smithers, release the hounds.

And will someone PLEASE do Kwok a huge favor and give him an Amazon gift certificate redeemable for a thesaurus of his choice. I’ve never read anyone who needs one more than this raving lunatic.

StephenB There is a further consequence to the claimed not having free will. For, as Antony Flew -- in his atheist days, no less! -- pointed out:
. . . choice-choice between at least two real alternatives either of which the agent possibly could take-must be a presupposition of any actual knowledge. For no creature incapable of making choices between alternative possibilities of belief could properly be said "to know something." Second, choices, in this understanding, cannot be causally necessitated. For to say that there was necessitation in one particular sense would be to deny that there were any real alternatives to that particular commitment. Third, we all acquire the crucial and complementary notions both of practical necessitation and of being able to do other than we do in what is, surely, the only way in which such fundamental notions could be acquired. We acquire them from our everyday and utterly familiar experience both of making choices in action, and of bringing some things about while finding it utterly impossible to effect others.
In short, in this issue lurks utter breakdown of any claim to evolutionary materialism's being rational; once it begins to reduce thought to in the end chance + necessity acting in our brains as mediated by whatever psycho- socio-cultural, genetic and electrochemical influences. Reductio ad absurdum, in effect. Or, as I put it at a simpler level (originally a long time ago now, and as discussed at length in the thread form a year or so ago):
. . . [evolutionary] materialism [a worldview that often likes to wear the mantle of "science"] . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance. But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as "thoughts" and "conclusions" can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance ["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning ["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].) Therefore, if materialism is true, the "thoughts" we have and the "conclusions" we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited! Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic . . . .
So, plainly, ev
terialism fatally undermines BOTH the credibility of mind and the binding nature of morality. But, if it can pass itself off as well-established "science" it can preserve enough credibility to prevail in the culture, especially in the education system. Thus, too, the contentiousness and hostility we see exposed above. GEM of TKI PS: And, BTW, that is also why the link from Darwinism to the repeatedly sad story of what happened over the past 100 or so years when convinced evolutionists gained enough power to try to impose their ideas on populations, is important. Very important. (And, even more resented by evolutionary materialists. No prizes for guessing why.) kairosfocus
Let’s take a brief journey into the wacky world of materialist Darwinism and let’s play by their rules for just a moment. If, according to Kwok, we have no free will, then we really have no choice about whether we will lie to children or anyone else. So, the obvious question is this: Even if these authors did like to children, why should they be held accountable for something over which they had no control? Further, what is so special about children that they deserve the truth? According to the materialists, young people are just as soulless as we are? Further, as kairosfocus points out, Kwok has no basis for claiming that lying is wrong. What universal standard of justice is he appealing to and where did it come from? Further, how does Kwok know that the authors did, in fact, lie? For him and materialists, truth is subjective. I have my truth, you have your truth, Kwok has his truth, and the authors have their truths (except for the fact of Darwinism, which, as it turns out, is the only truth). Don’t ask me to explain that. It’s their gig. So, what is the problem here, anyway? The authors, understanding that there is no universal standard of justice, and, through no choice of their own, were simply imparting their subjective truth to a soulless collection of atoms? Kwok should rejoice over the fact that the laws of nature are simply playing themselves out as they will. Materialism sure lets you off the hook, doesn’t it? For the record, I have read the book and I think it is about as honest as books get. StephenB
Re Mr Dart: "These people [the authors of Understanding Intelligent Design] are claiming the moral high ground but seem to have no issue with lying to children . . ." This, is worth a footnote, as first of all, it makes a very interesting comparison with remarks by Prof Provine as discussed in the recent July 7th "What happens . . ." thread here at UD. Namely:
. . . There is no intelligent design in the natural world. When mammals die, they are really and truly dead. No ultimate foundations for ethics exist, no ultimate meaning in life exists, and free will is merely a human myth. These are all conclusions to which Darwin came quite clearly. (Stanford University, April 30, 1994) [Cf my response on points in that thread, here and here.]
As Denyse went on to say, "Provine has said this elsewhere over the years, most notably in the Expelled movie." Some remarks are in order: 1 --> First, Mr Dart, on what evolutionary materialist basis do you think that "l[ying] to children" is wrong? (Especially if you can get away with it, thanks to a known "friendly" media, education and judicial establishment . . . ? [Starting with, well, distorting the very term intelligent design, the actual history of that movement classically and in the modern age, the actual academic and scientific credentials and contributions of key figures [FYI, a certain Wm A Dembski holds Doctorates in Mathematics and Philosophy, and a certain Michael Behe is a PhD scientist and professor] and using the earlier smearing of the Creation Science movement to smear ID through guilt by association . . .) 2 --> In short, there is a classic issue of mirror psychology morality at work here . . . [Cf Rom 2:1 - 3 if you can pardon a theological allusion; I assume you are sufficiently familiar with Matt 7:1 - 5 (being part of a culture shaped in significant part by the Figure speaking in that text) that I need only allude to the significance of first needing to deal with planks in one's own eye when one sets out to remove sawdust from another's eye.] 3 --> Further, what is the moral status of the side that wishes to use its power in the media, courts and education establishment to suppress discussion of the serious issues, concerns and critiques surrounding Darwinian theory? 4 --> Is not the suppression of one side of a significant issue with material consequences, "indoctrination not education"? (Newbies, cf. my always linked LH col, through my handle, for a 101 level look at some of the challenges and issues that need to be discussed in the HS and College classroom, but mostly are not. Then, ask yourselves, why . . .) 5 -- > For, ideas of cosmological then chemical evolution spontaneously giving rise to life, macro-level evolution spontaneously originating major body plans, and such evolution giving rise to the credibility of the mind and conscience of man are plainly far less supported than Newtonian Dynamics and especially the associated Universal Law of Gravitation. 6 --> And, that is in full knowledge that post-Einstein and post-Planck et al, there are quite significant modifications to the Newtonian Picture of the world! 7 --> In short, there is far, far, far less basis for teaching NDT et al as "classical biology" than there is for so teaching Newtonian physics. And, when we teach classical physics, it is always in the context that there is a modern physics too. 8 --> Moreover, that is in a context where, ESPECIALLY, GIVEN REMARKS SUCH AS ABOVE FROM PROF PROVINE ON THE WORLDVIEW LEVEL ASSOCIATIONS AND PROBABLE INFERENCES FROM DARWINIAN THEORY, STARTING WITH DARWIN HIMSELF, the evolutionary materialist view of origins has far more serious personal, societal and spiritual consequences than classical physics. (And, there are a lot of parallel inferences, assertions and remarks by a lot of others of similar stature over the past 150 years; with an associated history of over 100 millions slaughtered by Governments influenced by and using darwinist and derived or associated arguments to rationalise mass murder.) [Not to mention, a certain ongoing Abortion holocaust . . . ?] 9 --> In that light, then, just who is suppressing truth that is known or should be known, and just who is substituting a convenient, amoral agenda-serving myth; all in the name of truth, science and education? 10 --> Given this situation, why do you therefore accuse a popular level presentation of the worldview level issues and scientific questions at stake -- with an introduction that brings it home though realistic cases of what can happen when young people are given a one sided presentation of the evolutionary materialist case in the name of education -- "l[ying] to children"? For shame! GEM of TKI kairosfocus
Just when you think they couldn't get any nuttier: “Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?” - PJ Myers http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ODZlYmE3ZjcyMTY4OGMxOTg4ZDczMjNiMWFmMmYxMTQ= I think these Darwinist-Atheists are changing people's viewpoints alright: More people are now likely to support them being put into psychiatric care than into any position of power of influence. :-) steveO
John Cock is a pretty useful recruiting tool for those who like to stand for the oppressed. Just show them the threat he made to Dembski and they immediately want nothing to do with his views. Is he 12, 67? Or does anyone even know? I hope we've all learned never to risk your money on an ID book until John Cock has made his public approval. When I have a month off I'm thinking I might wanna get in a flamewar with this guy. He seems too fun to miss. XD This guy seems to be onto something: http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2008/07/green_buttocks.php#comment-972998 I'm officially stealing his spelling for his last name as you can see. F2XL
John Kwok - scholar.google.com Zero hits. FAIL. Fine company you keep there, Abbie. With allies like John Kwok you really don't need critics, do you? But hey, don't you let it worry your pretty little head. We all know you're soon going to dazzle us, finally, "Real Soon Now", with some overwhelming evidence of evolution that will surely win you that Nobel prize you so richly deserve. We anxiously await with bated breath your imminent rise to scientific stardom. :lol: DaveScot
H'mm: What strikes me is the vast gap between the substance of the book and the presentation and comments on it in the linked blog post. I began to wonder what was going on when I saw, in the original post -- not counting the "Creationism" mislabelling, that is now a standard slander/smear -- the following: "You just KNOW their bizarrely erotic book on Creationism for kids is gonna be something new and awesome!" It turns out, that some sicko in an onward linked page has turned a picture of the simulation of life in the cell -- and issue well worth serious reflection on -- into a nasty distortion. That tells us a lot about the level and mindset involved. In such a delusional, slanderous, contemptuous, un-civil, Plato's Cave environment -- and Mr John Kwok, this especially and with abundant reason means YOU -- it is unsurprising that one who stands up for so basic a point as that one should READ a book before reviewing it, is now himself attacked. Sad, but utterly revealing. I found this comment particularly illuminating by way of sad contrast:
I downloaded the sample chapter and made it about four pages into it before the lies, distortions and down right [XXXX] made me so angry I couldn't read on. These people are claiming the moral high ground but seem to have no issue with lying to children. It makes me sick. Posted by: Anderw Dart July 3, 2008 11:27 AM
Now, after a bit of follow-up -- broken link -- I have found and looked at the sample chapter. It is a motivating and context-setting discussion about worldview level challenges faced by teens and college students, and of how issues connected to Intelligent Design are relevant to that set of challenges. It is plain from the chapter that Mr Dart, sadly, cannot distinguish between disagreement and deception; he also seems to wish to reject what appears to be real cases of people facing challenges to their worldview because of one-sided presentations on the science, as if this is lying -- that is where the chapter starts. And, he directly illustrates the point Aristotle warned of in his The Rhetoric: "Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are very different from those we make when we are pained and hostile." Mr Dart, rage is a BLINDING emotion. Please calm down and think again. [BTW, I did think that the reference to Darwisnims as "propaganda" [p. 15, 6 of 20 in the PDF] was a bit overblown, as it to easily invites the inference that genuine science is the same as evolutionary materialist/ Naturalistic Scientism. Mind you, the context does make the point that this is in a phil and rhetorical/ "educational"/ advocacy not a sci context. But we must recognise the real reading level of those we are dealing with!] Note to original poster: ERV, one who holds a PhD in philosophy, i.e. Dr Wm A Dembski, is plainly qualified to speak on worldviews matters. And, he is qualified to do so to teens and their parents who are concerned that Science is being hijacked in service to atheism. GEM of TKI PS: ERV, there is much more to the story of modernist theology and its promotion of unwarranted, worldview level question-begging hyper-skepticism than you seem to be aware of. kairosfocus
Nothing like repeating "clever" little phrases over and over again because you believe they're just too good to be missed. Genuine cleverness is really not so easily exhausted. Apollos
Why is David Heddle - whom I reasonably believe to be a respectable physicist somewhere - involved in a dogfight with (?) John Kwok (?) Heddle has said foolish* things about Bill Dembski and about me but if he thinks he needs to interact with ... well, in my opinion, he should book himself for some rest and relaxation - and a refresher course in why we do what we do. Half the secret is knowing what fights you do not need. *He once referred to this site as "Usually Down" (due to server problems, as it happens) and he seemed not to understand when I was making a joke. (But - it must be admitted - the Canadian sense of humour can be recessive.) O'Leary
As you're reading that keep in mind that this is the top shelf for science blogs. The elite of the elite among our critics. It just doesn't get any better. ROFLMAO DaveScot

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