Discovery Institute “fellow” Michael Flannery has just posted Fred Hoyle: Intelligent Design Advocate at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog. Flannery is some kind of librarian at the University of Alabama, and he’s also an adjunct instructor of history and sociology — splendid qualifications for a Discoveroid.
Flannery plays the Hitler card — see Discovery Institute: Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Part VI. Further, he wrote a biography of Alfred Wallace, which was published by — who else? — the Discovery Institute Press. He’s also skilled at other creationist techniques — see More Discoveroid Quote Mining by Michael Flannery. Okay, you know what we’re dealing with. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
I would like to correct a common misconception about the astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle. It is widely known that Hoyle was a proponent of panspermia, the notion of intergalactic “seeding” of planet Earth advocated by a number of atheists such as Francis Crick and Professor Brig Klyce. But it is important to recognize that panspermia need not be tantamount to an end-run around theism to a negation of God.
The Wikipedia article on Fred Hoyle informs us that he was an astronomer who also wrote some decent science fiction. His scientific work (e.g., Stellar nucleosynthesis) was sufficiently outstanding to win him several honors, including a knighthood. Hoyle was an advocate of the Steady State theory, a credible alternative to the Big Bang theory — until the cosmic microwave background radiation was detected, which was consistent only with the Big Bang. Unfortunately, Hoyle never abandoned Steady State, even when the evidence was against him.
We must digress for a moment to discuss the Discoveroids’ teach the controversy campaign — an argument that public school teachers should have the “academic freedom” to present intelligent design as an alternative to evolution. If intelligent design were a legitimate scientific theory as viable as evolution, no such campaign would be necessary. Both would be taught. To illustrate this, back when Big Bang and Steady State were both viable theories, they were both taught — no public relations campaign or legislation was needed. Now that astronomers and cosmologists have decided the issue — based on verifiable evidence — no one teaches the discredited Steady State theory in high school, and no one argues that Steady State should still be taught so the kiddies will be free to choose the universe they prefer. Okay, end of digression.
Despite the good work he did, and aside from clinging to the Steady State theory, Hoyle is probably best known for his famous junkyard tornado analogy, which is forever quoted by creationists. He reminds us of the joke about Pierre the Bridge Builder. You probably know about Pierre — if not, you can Google the phrase.
Okay, back to the Discoveroid post. Flannery just told us that Hoyle’s advocacy of panspermia wasn’t “an end-run around theism to a negation of God.” Then he says:
Hoyle is often regarded as a panspermia atheist, and his book The Intelligent Universe (1983) [Amazon link] is cited as evidence for this alleged “fact.” Nevertheless, a careful reading of that fascinating book suggests otherwise. While Hoyle did argue for a version of panspermia, he insisted that “The origin of the Universe…requires an intelligence,” and he devoted an entire chapter to this topic.
[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] Then Flannery says:
He further stated, “Even after widening the stage for the origin of life from our tiny Earth to the Universe at large, we must still return to the same problem that opened this book — the vast unlikelihood that life, even on a cosmic scale, arose from non-living matter.”
Alas, that seems to be what Hoyle said. No quote-mining is necessary. The Wikipedia article on Hoyle says:
Though Hoyle declared himself an atheist, this apparent suggestion of a guiding hand led him to the conclusion that “a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and … there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” He would go on to compare the random emergence of even the simplest cell without panspermia to the likelihood that “a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein” and to compare the chance of obtaining even a single functioning protein by chance combination of amino acids to a solar system full of blind men solving Rubik’s Cubes simultaneously.
That’s why the Discoveroids like Hoyle. Flannery finishes his brief post with this:
I would argue that far from being an atheist, Hoyle was in his own way an ID advocate who believed in a form of classical panentheism.
Flannery seems unaware that he just declared intelligent design to a form of theism. Anyway, the Discoveroids are claiming Hoyle as one of their own. It’s risk-free for them to do so. Hoyle died in 2001; he won’t put up much of a fight.
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