The Discoveroids Have Wonderful News

With all the disturbing news in the world, it’s comforting to know that the Discovery Institute hasn’t lost its focus. At their creationist blog we found this today: Evolution and the “Experts” — A Liberating Message from Molecular Biologist Doug Axe. It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

As molecular biologist Douglas Axe recalls, the Greek philosopher Gorgias (born about 483 BC) spent a lifetime pondering the nature of existence. At last he arrived at a firm conclusion: “Nothing exists.” In a presentation at the 2020 Dallas Conference on Science & Faith, Dr. Axe used Gorgias to illustrate his point that “expertise does not necessarily drive you in the right direction.” Sometimes it does the exact opposite. How could that be? Watch now and find out:

There’s a video embedded in the Discoveroid post; presumably it’s Axe discussing Gorgias. We haven’t looked at it. We understand there’s some dispute about whether Gorgias was serious, or if he was just being ironic — but we’re not well informed about him.

Some of you may be wondering: Who is Douglas Axe? He isn’t a Discoveroid “fellow.” Instead, he’s the director of Biologic Institute, the Discoveroids’ in-house research lab, where all the work is “peer reviewed” by Discoveroids. The Biologic website has a bio page which mentions Axe, so you can learn even more about him there — if you care to do so. Anyway, Klinghoffer says:

When Dr. Axe was planning his book, Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed [link omitted], he considered doing as other scientists have done: distill a lot of technical literature down for a lay audience. But he ultimately decided that that was to “play into the hands” of those atheists and materialists he was arguing against. [Can’t do that!] They would simply tell his lay readers that the readers were in no position to judge even an ultimate question like this — the origins of life — and must instead docilely confirm the majority or “consensus” view of people holding PhDs in the correct fields. As Axe says here, “I firmly believe you don’t need a PhD to decide whether we are cosmic accidents or not.”

Ooooooooooooh! Axe says you don’t need a fancy college degree; you can decide the Big Questions for yourself! After that liberating information, Klinghoffer tells us:

Axe tells some of his own personal story, which I did not know. As a high school student he dissected frogs in biology class and found that uninspiring. [But it was fun to watch the girls squirm.] It wasn’t until college at U.C. Berkley and grad school at Caltech that he came to appreciate the wonders of life at the molecular level. He realized, “This is engineering, remarkable engineering, far beyond anything humans can do.” [Brilliant insight!]

It seems inevitable that Axe would become a Discoveroid. Klinghoffer continues:

But he explains why, even without his background as a professional scientist, we all already know what we need to know to decide whether life reflects intelligent purpose. [Yes!] This is an affirming and liberating message.

It brings tears of joy to your eyes, doesn’t it? And now we’ve arrived at Klinghoffer’s final paragraph:

Looking for more great content in contrast to all the negativity everywhere else in the media and online? [Of course! Isn’t everyone?] We have been releasing videos from Discovery Institute’s January event in Dallas. [Ooooooooooooh!] Come back next Wednesday for Stephen Meyer on “The Return of the God Hypothesis.”

Wowie! Best news we’ve heard in a long time. We’ll be here!

Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “The Discoveroids Have Wonderful News

  1. Michael Fugate

    This is exactly what Glenn Branch was discussing in your link from yesterday’s post – “religious anti-rationalism, populist anti-elitism, and unreflective instrumentalism”. Great job Doug!

  2. Dougie makes an offer I can’t refuse:

    “I firmly believe you don’t need a PhD to decide whether we are cosmic accidents or not.”
    My decision: we are neither cosmic accidents nor created by some Grand Old Designer (blessed be MOFO!).
    And so does Klunkcerduncker:

    “we all already know what we need to know to decide whether life reflects intelligent purpose”
    Yup. And my decision has been negative since I found the IDiot’s blog.
    Our dear SC is a bit worried about my well being:

    “It brings tears of joy to your eyes, doesn’t it?”
    Yes, but only after I had picked up my lower jaw – that first time I found the IDiot’s blog it had fallen to the ground. The joy came when I realized that there is still hope for me – I never have sunk that low. The tears started to flow from laughter.

  3. I like the argument that goes:
    This is beyond the scope of engineering.
    Therefore, it must be engineered.

  4. Axe thinks there’s a purpose in life, and so do so many other people, PhD or not. I agree, it’s very simple, but it’s not what Axe would agree with. In addition it’s an outcome dictated by evolution.

    Survival is of primary importance to every living life form in order to reproduce to ensure the continuance of your species. Once reproduction has been achieved by you, your further survival is not necessary for your offspring will continue the process. Your purpose has been fulfilled.

  5. @DavidK
    What about the “purpose” of worker bees? They are “designed” to be without reproduction.

  6. @TomS
    Worker bees are produced in large numbers and are expendable. I think their being bred also lacks certain proteins given by the queen that consigns then to a lower caste, but please verify.

  7. @DavidK puts the cart before the horse:

    “Once reproduction has been achieved by you, your purpose has been fulfilled.”
    It’s the other way round.
    Don’t reproduce and your genes are removed from the gene pool
    Reproduce and they stay there.
    Reproduction is not a purpose, it’s a cause.
    “Purpose” adds exactly zilch to our understanding. It’s outdated Aristotelean philosophy without explanatory power.

    “Purpose” is only useful when we can point out an individu who formulates it and then makes a choice to do this or that, expecting to achieve X or Y. In that case
    a) “purpose” becomes a cause;
    b) we need additional evidence to confirm that an individual formulated a purpose and acted accordingly (eg to reproduce or not).

    When Dougie presents his Grand Old Designer (blessed be MOFO!) he, like all creacrappers, forgets point b. TomS, correctly I think, maintains it’s impossible.

  8. chris schilling

    “Expert” Douglas Axe is the man who thinks children’s intuitions about purposeful design in nature should govern biology, over and above mainstream explanations based along naturalistic, evolutionary lines.

    When it comes to kids using intuition (and commonsense) to recognise fossils with intermediate features, however — Tiktaalik, for example — then it becomes a bridge too far for Axe and his Discoveroid pals.

  9. Dave Luckett

    I sat through Axe’s video. He spends the first few minutes explaining how he came to be an Evangelical Christian. The process occurred in his teenage years. His mother got religion quite late on, but she took all her offspring to an evangelical church, starting when he was fourteen. He went to UC Berkely when he was eighteen, and by that time he had been attending his church and “reading scripture and coming to an understanding of reality” for four years. Those are his words. He read scripture to come to an understanding of reality. Yes, he really said that. He also said that UC Berkely was not “a Christian school”, this with an air of apology, for the laughter of his audience.

    This is a man who thinks one comes to an understanding of reality by reading scripture, and apologises for not attending a “Christian school”.

    Having established his credentials, Axe proceeds to the issue: how “to know whether we are cosmic accidents or not”. Unsurprisingly, given the above, he does not cite evidence, nor even supposed evidence. In fact, he dismisses at the outset the very idea that this is “a technical question”, by which he appears to mean that it can be decided by considering evidence at all. Instead, he proclaims, it’s “a matter of commonsense”. So “you don’t need a PhD or technical training to know that we are the personal creation of a Creator God”.

    Having reached that conclusion through, I don’t know, gut instinct I guess, and being firm in that “knowledge”, “you can go into the lab to confirm it”. Yes, I know. It’s difficult to believe that so complete an inversion of science was asserted by a Berkely-trained chemist, but that is what the man actually said.

    If “you know what you know, and this (gut feeling) is how you know it, you’re immune to all the claims to the contrary”. Yes, he said that. too. Unpacking it is a worthwhile exercise in itself, for it is a great truth, known to every propagandist. The gut rules. Feelings are not only a complete substitute for knowledge, they are an effective inoculation against it. Axe knows that. And the shocking thing, the truly hideous thing, is that he thinks that this is right. That this is how it should be. He really does think that.

    The next phase of his lecture starts there, at about the ten minute mark. It is not, of course, any consideration of any of the things he did in the lab to confirm his gut knowledge. Not even that wilted travesty of science is admitted. No, it’s an attack on “the ivory tower” (his words), the very idea of rigorously acquired intellectual knowledge itself.

    From there it only gets wilder. We have an excursion into ersatz epistemology, which Axe calls the argument from introspection. “Is thought a reasonable thing to pursue?” How do we decide? Axe answers, as we’d expect, “faith”. We have to take the evidence of our senses on faith, which means we take reality on faith. Never mind that what we observe is internally consistent, even if it surprises us, and that if “faith” were the determinant, we wouldn’t be surprised. We’d already know.

    The fact of “concept” is not material, he says, (quietly disposing of the reality of physical consequence of physical action by not mentioning it) so therefore there is a non-physical realm. And “someone has to be in charge in the interface between the two” – an entity that “pushes thought” into our brains.

    This is the “common sense” he’s talking about. Yes, really.

    At 26:21 he comes to what he calls the argument from observation. Are there any, you know, observations involved? Not hardly. It’s a stumble through a calculation of probability, starting from the mistaken notion that humans “instinctively” know what is implausible. Even I know that his maths is wonky, but beyond that, the false premise reeks to the mind. Humans can assess probability when the event involves factors that they know, in a limited field whose size is comprehensible. Take them out of that situation, and their estimates of probability rapidly become wildly wrong. When the field is the size of the Universe and coves 14.7 billion years and the factors operating are all those that affect physical reality, including their necessary interactions, no human estimate of probability without full knowledge and very exhaustive calculation, is meaningful at all. “Instinct”, “gut knowledge”, “intuition” is actively misleading and worse than useless. Specific, full and complete knowledge and enormous intellectual rigour is required. That’s the “ivory tower” that Axe decries. Of course he decries it. It shows him to be a fraud and a fool.

    And then, at the 37th minute, we get an “observation”. Finally. And what is it? Would you believe, it’s the human eye? Yes. Gobsmacking, I know, but there it is, in all its complexity – complexity that Darwin explained. And then a blatantly fraudulent “demonstration” of chance, involving blindly pointing a laser at the wall on which there was another point of light and the chance of them coinciding. Another iteration of the false idea that the coincidences are too great, neglecting both the size of the event space and the fact of selection. Forget pointing a single laser at random. Try pointing tens of millions of them. Forget doing it once. Do it a million times each, and then a million times more every year for a million years, discarding each and every one that missed. Then talk to me about coincidence.

    And that was it. Ignorance enshrined as a virtue, faith misrepresented as knowledge, fraud compounded by falsehood, propaganda used as a tool – and incredibly, specifically and openly asserted as one. It would have been ridiculous, but somehow I’m not laughing.

    Put it down to my inadequate sense of humour that I find something so abjectly stupid, so flagrantly fraudulent, not funny at all. FrankB will no doubt chide me for that, and damn it, he would be right. I should be laughing. I expected to laugh. Laughter is the best – in fact, the only – response. But I can’t manage it.

  10. @DaveLuckett
    If the issue is whether I am the personal
    Creation of God or whether science is right – then the science at issue is NOT evolution. The sciences involved in studying the origin of my body are reproductive biology, embtyology, genetics, etc.

  11. Karl Goldsmith

    “expertise does not necessarily drive you in the right direction.” I have said many times, creationists don’t get irony.

  12. Karl Goldsmith

    Isn’t Axe just like Georgia Purdom, like to call themselves research scientists and yet have very few legitimate published research in genuine science journals?