There are two or three different threads running through the latest essay by David Klinghoffer, the Discoveroids’ journalistic slasher and poo flinger. His post at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog is George Johnson in the New York Times; Steve Meyer at the Chabad of Snohomish County.
He’s primarily criticizing this column in the New York Times: Creation, in the Eye of the Beholder. We remember seeing it a couple of days ago. It’s good, but we rarely blog about columns with which we agree. However, now that it has provoked an agonized reaction from the Discoveroids, that Times article has become a source of entertainment.
The background, or “frame,” for Klinghoffer’s post is an auto ride to attend a presentation by Stephen Meyer, Vice President and Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute and a central figure in the infamous Sternberg peer review controversy. Meyer spoke to a Jewish group in Lynnwood, Snohomish County about his book, Darwin’s Doubt, in which he claims that the Cambrian “explosion” is powerful evidence of the mystical activity of the Discoveroids’ un-named intelligent designer. His “scientific” claim is that the supernatural designer visited Earth around 450 million years ago and performed his mysterious work to magically create a variety of “kinds” which (he insists) couldn’t possibly have been the result of evolution.
We’ve previously discussed that conjecture. It’s nothing but a God of the gaps argument. Wikipedia says: “God of the gaps is a type of theological perspective in which gaps in scientific knowledge are taken to be evidence or proof of God’s existence.” Aside from that and William Paley’s watchmaker analogy, that’s all there is to the Discoveroids’ “theory” of intelligent design.
Meyer’s appearance is mostly background, but it plays a role later. According to Klinghoffer’s post:
Steve [Meyer] was speaking to Chabad of Snohomish County, not a mega-synagogue by any stretch. Basically a storefront, the room was packed out with what looked like a little more than thirty people.
That’s nice. But the fun part is Klinghoffer’s discussion in the car on the way to the event, in which Johnson’s column in the Times was discussed, so we’ll focus on that. With bold font added by us, Klinghoffer says that the column was:
… a typically complaisant reflection on what Johnson sees as the foolishness of perceiving design in nature. One thing’s for sure: It’s not possible to detect any familiarity on the part of this veteran Times reporter with the evidence or arguments that Meyer or other leading intelligent-design advocates offer.
That’s standard. Whenever anyone dismisses the Discoveroids’ “theory” as being jazzed-up creationism and utterly silly pseudo-science, they always respond by asserting that their critics are uninformed. Let’s read on:
Johnson writes about his wonderment 27 years ago on seeing an artistically rendered schematic drawing of the AIDS virus. He makes a lot of that. Intricately beautiful yet unspeakably cruel, HIV for him embodies what’s wrong with the design argument.
Johnson has a good point. If the Discoveroids can swoon over the “design” of DNA, why isn’t the HIV virus also attributed to the designer? And if the designer is responsible for HIV, what was his purpose? Klinghoffer continues:
Johnson goes on to compare “creationists” (by which he means ID advocates) to conspiracy buffs:
[Klinghoffer quotes Johnson:] What creationists and conspiracy theorists share is a deep disbelief in accidents like the ones that drive evolution, and a certainty that everything that happens was somehow intended.
Excellent point! Why didn’t we think of it? Here’s Klinghoffer’s response:
He’s incredulous that anyone could attribute design to nature when nature includes cruel things. Johnson wouldn’t allow such in his world if he were God.
We’ve mentioned before that this is a big weakness of the Discoveroids’ attempt to immunize their teachings from a First Amendment challenge by insisting that intelligent design is science, not religion. Biblical creationists can blame bad things on Adam & Eve, but the Discoveroids’ litigation strategy doesn’t allow them that handy escape hatch. They’re stuck with the fact that their magical designer — blessed be he! — sometimes gets things screwed up. This is how Klinghoffer handles the, ah, Discoveroids’ Dilemma:
But that’s a theological objection to design. Why is it that Darwin defenders always answer science with theology? The theory of intelligent design is not theology. It leaves such valid doubts to religious thinkers, restricting itself to science — explaining the origin of the genetic and epigenetic information needed to build animal forms, the “explosive origin” of animal life in the Cambrian event, and much more — letting the chips fall where they may.
Ah, so that’s how they handle the problem — by waiving it away. Hey, David — the question remains: Why does your designer produce such stunningly malevolent handiwork? No answer? We weren’t expecting one.
We promised you that Meyer’s appearance before a small group would return to play a role in Klinghoffer’s essay. Here it comes. Klinghoffer changes the subject from the embarrassing fact of designer’s malignity. Instead, he gushes about how attentive Meyer’s little audience was. He contrasts that with “the incuriousness on the part of a reporter for a world-class newspaper.” Good rebuttal, Klinghoffer!
He devotes a few paragraphs to praising Meyer’s wonderful audience, and he finishes his essay with this:
How does it happen? A reporter for the New York Times tosses off a column mocking the design argument as “creationism,” reflecting no knowledge of what design theorists say more than two centuries after Paley. Yet gather together a random group of Jews in a random town in Washington State and you get an intense, serious and illuminating discussion exploring the cutting edge of ID. Guys like Mr. Johnson should get out a bit more. Read a book perhaps. Here’s one. [Link to Meyer’s book at Amazon.]
Don’t be too hasty in dismissing Klinghoffer’s essay, dear reader. There’s a good lesson to be learned here. If a major newspaper publishes a column that says you’re a world-class idiot, now you know how to respond in a way that crushingly defeats your critic. Point out that a group of 30 people in the middle of nowhere think you’re endlessly fascinating.
Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.