Today’s letter-to-the-editor is titled Beware intellectual pride, and it appears in the Juneau Empire of Juneau, Alaska, the state capitol. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and as we usually do we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. Here we go, with a bit of bold font added for emphasis:
Wally Olson submitted a My Turn column (“What is the theory of evolution?”) that was printed in the Aug. 21 Empire to which I would like to respond.
He refers to What is the theory of evolution?, written by a professor of anthropology (emeritus) at the University of Alaska Southeast. That was excellent and we recommend it. However, our focus is on today’s creationist response, with which we continue:
Olson’s letter first attempts to build a good case for the theory of evolution and then he unilaterally dismisses all other beliefs as “folklore.”
That was Olson’s term for the multitude of different creation accounts in the world’s religions; and yes, he dismissed them “unilaterally” — whatever that’s supposed to mean. Let’s read on:
First and foremost, Olson asserts that the theory of evolution is not a belief. This could not be further from the truth as the theory of evolution is absolutely a belief. It has never been proven nor do I believe ever will be.
After seeing what was so well expressed in Olson’s letter, today’s response is painful to read. Olson took considerable care to explain what is meant by a scientific theory, and why a theory becomes accepted. Perhaps he should have also discussed the meaning of “proof,” but one can’t pack everything into a few paragraphs, and it wouldn’t have changed the opinion of today’s letter-writer. We continue:
I would encourage Olson to watch the movie “No Intelligence Allowed” by Ben Stein.
Aaaargh!! We would encourage today’s letter-writer to take a look at Expelled Exposed. Here’s more, and we assume he’s talking about the “experts” featured in Expelled!:
While many of these scientists have not embraced the notion of a supreme, omnipotent God who created the universe, they do believe that the universe is not the result of chance but at the very least is the result of intelligent design. I believe this obviously leads to the fact that there then has to be an intelligent designer.
Right, “obviously.” It’s amazing to see how one trashy piece of propaganda can take over the brain. It’s like watching an Alaskan re-make of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Moving along:
The very last scene in the movie has Stein interviewing Richard Dawkins, probably the best known atheist in the world. Under intensive questioning from Stein, Dawkins ultimately states he really doesn’t have a clue how life originated on Earth but then postulates that perhaps a super intelligent alien race from a far off planet came and planted life on Earth.
Aaaargh!! This guy thinks Stein demolished Dawkins. However, you might want to see what Dawkins has to say about it. We quote from Lying for Jesus?:
Toward the end of his interview with me, Stein asked whether I could think of any circumstances whatsoever under which intelligent design might have occurred. It’s the kind of challenge I relish, and I set myself the task of imagining the most plausible scenario I could. I wanted to give ID its best shot, however poor that best shot might be. I must have been feeling magnanimous that day, because I was aware that the leading advocates of Intelligent Design are very fond of protesting that they are not talking about God as the designer, but about some unnamed and unspecified intelligence, which might even be an alien from another planet. Indeed, this is the only way they differentiate themselves from fundamentalist creationists, and they do it only when they need to, in order to weasel their way around church/state separation laws.
[Still quoting Dawkins:] I patiently explained to him that life could conceivably have been seeded on Earth by an alien intelligence from another planet (Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel suggested something similar — semi tongue-in-cheek). The conclusion I was heading towards was that, even in the highly unlikely event that some such ‘Directed Panspermia’ was responsible for designing life on this planet, the alien beings would THEMSELVES have to have evolved … . My point here was that design can never be an ULTIMATE explanation for organized complexity. Even if life on Earth was seeded by intelligent designers on another planet, and even if the alien life form was itself seeded four billion years earlier, the regress must ultimately be terminated (and we have only some 13 billion years to play with because of the finite age of the universe). Organized complexity cannot just spontaneously happen.
I was bending over backwards to make the best case I could for a form of intelligent design. And my clear implication was that the best case I could make was a very implausible case indeed. In other words, I was using the thought experiment as a way of demonstrating strong opposition to all theories of intelligent design.
Let’s get back to today’s letter. We’ll skip the part where he quotes some scripture to rebut Dawkins. Then, in the style of a street preacher wearing an apocalyptic sandwich board predicting the end of the world, the letter-writer warns:
Beware intellectual pride.
We hope Professor Olson appreciates the warning. If not, at least it gave the editors of the Juneau Empire a title for today’s letter. Here’s another excerpt:
I also take exception to Olson’s characterization of my Christian belief of creation as “folklore.” There are hundreds of millions of people on planet Earth that do not believe in evolution but in an omnipotent God who created our universe.
Oh, that means creationism isn’t just folklore — it’s very popular folklore. On with the letter:
As far as evidence, I can only point to the billions of lives radically changed by Jesus over the past couple of millennia. I personally can testify to my own life being changed by Jesus from 30 years of addiction to alcohol and drugs to a clean and sober life for almost 10 years now.
We’re happy to learn of that evidence against evolution. And now we come to the letter’s end. Hey, he wraps it up with Pascal’s Wager:
What if my savior Jesus I believe in is not truth? Then I will have lived out my life with more joy and peace than I ever thought possible. But what if what I believe is true and Jesus is alive and is God? What does that mean for you?
What can we say? We’ll be polite and say thank you for an interesting letter.
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