THE intellectual connection between free enterprise, political freedom, and the theory of evolution is an old subject for us. We’ve previously discussed Darwin’s theory in connection with free-market economics. For example, see: Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand and Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection. And this: Economics, Intelligent Design, and Evolution. We like this one too: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Barack Obama.
Given that reason, science, liberty, and free enterprise are such natural allies, we’re never surprised to see all of them being opposed by outfits like Pravda, which is run by some of the same people who once ran the official Soviet news organ of the same name. It’s a great embarrassment to the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) in Seattle, but as we’ve written before, Discovery Institute & Pravda: Soul Mates.
Today, dear reader, we have another example illustrating the mindset that binds political and economic tyranny together with faith in creationism. In Pravda we read Intelligent Design On Another Planet?
This Pravda article is written by Babu G. Ranganathan, whose creationist work we’ve discussed a few times before. Like Babu’s other Pravda essays, this one is long and it repeats his earlier arguments. We understand the repetitive part, because there’s never anything new to be said in favor of creationism. As for the length, we’ll pick out only a few choice excerpts, and add some bold font for emphasis. If you want to read the whole thing you can click over to Pravda.
Babu begins the essay with his own version of William Paley’s pre-Darwin watchmaker argument. Paley’s argument was shredded by David Hume, the great Enlightenment philosopher. A couple of generations later, in the context of biology, it was put to rest by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Nevertheless, Paley’s argument appeals to third-rate intellects, so it persists. It’s really all there is to the “theory” of intelligent design.
Okay, that’s enough introduction. Here we go:
Imagine finding a planet where robots are programmed so that they can make other robots just like themselves from raw materials.
Now, imagine an alien scientist visitor coming to the planet and, after many years of studying these robots, the alien scientist visitor comes to the conclusion that since science can explain how these robots work, operate, function, and reproduce there’s no reason to believe that there was an ultimate intelligent designer behind them.
The analogy above certainly is not perfect but it is sufficient to reveal the fallacious thinking of those who attack intelligent design behind life and the universe.
See what we mean? Paley said it better. This comes from the Wikipedia link we gave above:
In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. (…) There must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. (…) Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.
– William Paley, Natural Theology (1802)
Babu uses robots, but it’s still the watchmaker argument. Babu doesn’t mention Paley, however, leaving it to his mentally-impoverished readers to imagine that what they’re reading is Babu’s original insight. Let’s read on in Pravda:
Intelligent Design theory does not oppose natural laws but simply states that mere undirected natural laws can never account for the high complexity found in life and the universe.
That’s exactly what the Discoveroids say about their “theory.” Here’s their Definition of Intelligent Design:
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
Let’s continue with Babu’s article in Pravda:
Contrary to popular belief, scientists have never created life in the laboratory. What scientists have done is genetically alter or engineer already existing forms of life, and by doing this scientists have been able to produce new forms of life. However, they did not produce these new life forms from non-living matter. Even if scientists ever do produce life from non-living matter it won’t be by chance so it still wouldn’t help support any argument for evolution.
There’s no way to win with those guys. Here’s more:
The great British scientist Sir Frederick Hoyle has said that the probability of the sequence of molecules in the simplest cell coming into existence by chance is equivalent to a tornado going through a junk yard of airplane parts and assembling a 747 Jumbo Jet!
Wowie! Tornado in a junk yard! See: Hoyle’s fallacy. We thought even creationists had outgrown that one. Not Babu. Moving along:
The evidence from science shows that only microevolution (variations within a biological “kind” such as the varieties of dogs, cats, horses, cows, etc.) is possible but not macroevolution (variations across biological “kinds”, especially from simpler kinds to more complex ones). … There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that genetic mutations (random changes in the genetic code) caused by various environmental forces such as radiation have any capability to increase the genetic complexity of a species so that macroevolution from earthworm to man would be possible.
This is low-grade ore, even for a creationist. See: Micro Macro, Tutti Frutti. We’ll select just one more excerpt:
Science cannot prove how life originated since no human observed the origin of life by either chance or design. Observation and detection by the human senses, either directly or indirectly through scientific instruments, is the basis of science and for establishing proof.
The issue is which position has better scientific support. Both sides should have the opportunity to present their case.
When the creationists actually do produce a scientific case, it will be taught. Until then, their ravings will be ignored. Anyway, Pravda, the Discovery Institute, and all the other cults and cliques and factions promoting their versions of creationism will continue to preach their dogma. But the rational world has left them behind.
Update: See Babu and Pravda: Creationism’s Missing Link.
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Its very name is such a huge irony, considering both its history and their current usual content, which includes anything from alien abductions to the antimicrobial powers of prayer. (Orthodox prayers recited in old liturgy-Slavonic, specifically — not just any kind of prayer…)
You would think that the fact none of these guys can come up with a new argument would tip them off that they’ve got nothing. Do they really think that scientists are going to suddenly realize “Oh wow, we’ve never thought of a watchmaker before. There goes evolution.” Or “Wow. There are no crocoducks. Guess the fossil record’s bunk.” No, of course not. They are just making the same old noises to keep the same old crowd supporting them.
More of a case of trying to convince themselves than us?