Over at the blog of the Discoveroids, described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page, they’ve posted an unintentionally funny new article. It’s Why Does the History of Technology Give the Appearance of Evolution?
The thing is by Granville Sewell, about whom we last wrote Discovery Institute Gives Us Their Best Argument. Reviewing that should give you a good feel for the quality of his work. Now he follows the example of Jonathan Wells and tries to respond to a challenge from Kenneth R. Miller, who was a lead expert for the winning side in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Miller asked critics of Darwinism to explain why, in the fossil record, we find “one organism after another in places and in sequences…that clearly give the appearance of evolution.”
Miller’s underlying assumption seems to be that if a designer had anything to do with the origin of species, then we should see evidence in the fossil record that someone waved a magic wand and new species appeared suddenly out of nowhere, unconnected to past species. And in fact, we don’t see that (except possibly in the Cambrian explosion).
Okay, that’s the challenge. Perhaps you recall how Wells answered it — he said that things look that way because Earth is a mirror of heaven (see Jonathan Wells Explains Away the Evidence). Now let’s see how Sewell handles Miller’s question. Maybe he’ll do even better than Wells. First, he talks about the way human technology “evolves” compared to biological evolution:
In neither case — the development of life or of technology — do we really see very gradual development. In both cases, there are smaller gaps where minor new features appear, and larger gaps where major new features (new orders, classes or phyla) appear
Sewell is stretching the evidence. Technology gaps are small and entirely comprehensible, and the biological gaps keep getting fewer and smaller all the time, but it’s true that we haven’t found fossils to fill all biological gaps. That’s where creationists move in with their God of the gaps — oops, we mean the designer of the gaps. But there’s no possibility of playing the gap game with human technology, because anyone who suggested a supernatural intervention would be universally regarded as a fool (although he’d probably appear on the History Channel babbling about ancient aliens). Let’s read on:
So then given that the fossil record looks like the way we design things, why is that an argument against intelligent design?
Huh? Well, it’s definitely an argument against six-day creationism. For millennia the superficial appearance of design was an argument for creationism — until Darwin provided a natural explanation for the proliferation of species. But the Discoveroids are old-Earthers, so they claim their magic designer — blessed be he! — for mysterious reasons of his own, prefers to function over geological ages. Thus, they claim that the gradual appearance of biological forms isn’t an argument against their designer. Yes, he could be cleverly simulating evolution. In such matters, say the mystics, one can never really trust his senses. Here’s the end of Sewell’s brilliant essay:
So I would answer Kenneth Miller’s question with another question: “Why does the history of technology give the appearance of evolution?” when it was really the result of intelligent design?
Aaaargh!! The fallacies in that question are immense, and we can’t do them justice in a few paragraphs — but we’ll try. Look, we know how technology developed. Humans did it. We’re still doing it. There was never any mystery about it, and no one (except a few ancient alien buffs) claims that humans didn’t develop our technology. There being zero mystery about causes, there is zero incentive to propose supernatural agents.
Not only is there no reason to imagine supernatural causes for technology, there is no reason to imagine any natural cause other than our own intentional efforts. No one has ever claimed that technology is the undirected product of blind natural forces. Therefore, technology just isn’t analogous in any way to biological evolution — except in Seattle.
It’s true that human technology was once a popular analogy for creationism, in spite of there being no evidence of the designer’s existence, because there wasn’t any other viable explanation. That’s the essence of William Paley’s watchmaker analogy, which was very appealing in the days before Darwin. But now that we have a natural explanation for evolution, Paley’s analogy is obsolete.
Well, it’s not obsolete for the Discoveroids. Paley’s watchmaker is pretty much their entire argument. Alas for Sewell, it’s not only obsolete, but it certainly doesn’t work as a two-way analogy. No one (until now) ever dreamed of saying: “Hey, Rev Paley — if frogs evolved, why didn’t watches?” But we’ll give Sewell credit for originality. And we’ll give Miller credit for what his challenge is doing to the Discoveroids.
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