My sense is that we are making some headway against what Leon Wieseltier has referred to as Darwinist dittoheads, and I’d like to point to some more stories, this time from June 2014, that explain why:
— In June we began to think seriously about William Dembski’s then upcoming Being as Communion, a more philosophical look at design in nature (only US$18.57 on Kindle). He argues, of course, that the fundamental stuff of the world is information. The great physicists have said much about immateriality and consciousness that assumes so. But they keep getting drowned out by naturalism and claims for the material nature of information instead.
Another, less exotic problem is misunderstanding of information theory terminology. See, for example, Intelligent Design Basics – Information – Part III – Shannon Also: On the nature and detection of intelligence: A reply to RDFish. And we even encountered an honest critique of intelligent design theory.
Mostly, of course, there was the low level buzz of mundane detraction from people who would not want to understand anyway: A writer for The Atlantic hopes intelligent design is going out of fashion, helpfully providing a questionable definition to her readers.
All that said, a chess master says intelligent design featured large in his initial literature search – so he must hope ID doesn’t abandon him on a catwalk somewhere, along with the alligator elevator shoes. We also looked at the ID implications of the detection of insider trading (lots of fun in the comments there).
Oh, and the question of when the term “intelligent design” itself originated came up again: In the eighteenth century, it turns out; the modern contribution is its association with information theory.
Of course, the main reason for the hostility among the fashion-conscious is that seeing life as information means seeing it more accurately—but that is fatal to current evolution theory. Most evolutionary biologists would prefer to spend their careers pursuing the dead ends of Darwinian thinking—and to their credit they have made that pretty clear.
— Speaking of evolution, we also looked at different means by which it can really happen. The interesting thing is that none of them works anything like the miracles claimed for natural selection acting on random mutation (Darwin’s mechanism): See, for example, A third way of evolution? (Shapiro). Sometimes, it involves one life form absorbing another: Cells “hiring” functions they can’t do (endosymbiosis). Sometimes, it’s convergent: When snakes crowdsource. Then there is horizontal gene transfer: Ferns adapted to low light via HGT.
Evolution DOES bump up “against constraints”. Other times, it seems to develop internal guidance systems: Bacteria modify their lag time “just as much as they need to”. Genome duplication may or may not “explain” the existence of flowers, as some claim, but it happens and may contribute some permanent changes.
Meanwhile, one problem with heavy reliance on claims for natural selection is that it is so often a substitute for evidence: Birds don’t “sacrifice” song for showy plumage, as Darwin thought. But that won’t deter believers. We encountered a case of teaching Darwinism by using a story of FAKE animals, presumably because real ones never behave quite the way needed.
There were lighter moments too. Riffing off May’s discovery that anyone who thinks for himself is apparently, a creationist (or anyway not a fan of Nicholas Wade’s Troublesome Inheritance) or of crackpot cosmology, PZ Myers (who is now a creationist, remember?) continued to insist that he is not a creationist.
We don’t know why he bothers. Now that the term has come unglued from any association with acts of creation, we think it should just be retired. Maybe Darwin’s diehards can just insist that we all “have cooties” instead. On to July.
See also: January 2014: Events that made a difference to ID (My sense is that we are making some headway against what Leon Wieseltier has referred to as Darwinist dittoheads.)
February 2014: Events that made a difference to ID We are definitely past having to care what Christians for Darwin think.
March 2014: Events that made a difference to ID Old, taken-for-granted “truths” are collapsing; an information theory approach may help us forward.
April 2014: Events that made a difference to ID Despite these developments, naturalists would prefer chaos and nonsense to signals that point away from naturalism.
May 2014: Events that made a difference to ID BUT then things took a really odd turn: It turned out that everyone who doubts Wade’s race theories is a creationist. Hey, is “creationist” the new “think for yourself”?
July 2014: Events that made a difference to ID Among many other events, a UD Post where a famous chemist says no scientist understands “macroevolution” passed 200,000 views.
August 2014: Events that made a difference to ID Famous Darwin follower, Jerry “Why evolution is true” Coyne, was really mad that information theorist William Dembski is allowed to speak at his fort, Fort Chicago University
September 2014: Events that made a difference to ID It was becoming obvious that no one who knows the facts need be defensive about doubting the naturalist spin.
October 2014: Events that made a difference to ID Even establishment science media are now moving to recognize the problems with Darwinian evolution theory.
November 2014: Events that made a difference to ID Not only has the kill-ID bomb not exploded, but lots of people besides us are beginning to notice that fact.
December 2014: Events that made a difference to ID Fake Facebook pages started in an attempt to discredit ID theorists. (People fake Rolexes, not Timexes.)
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