Will Richard Dawkins Join the Discovery Institute?

This one isn’t quote-mining, but it’s related. We found it at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog, titled Dawkins Is Knocked “Sideways with Wonder” by Cell’s Design. 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]:

Our colleague Andrew McDiarmid [He hosts their podcasts!] found a pretty stunning tweet from an unlikely person. [This is about a tweet?] Atheist biologist Richard Dawkins is “[knocked] sideways with wonder at the miniaturized intricacy of the data-processing machinery in the living cell.”

You know who Richard Dawkins is. He’s knowledgeable, respected, and as Wikipedia says, he’s “well known for his criticism of creationism and intelligent design.” What can Klinghoffer do with that tweet? He says:

Yes, he doesn’t call it “intelligent design,” of course, and I’m confident he would deny the cell is designed. But that’s the kind of thing ID proponents say all the time. [They’re knocked sideways?] In fact, if I didn’t know the source, I would guess it might be someone writing at Evolution News [the Discoveroids’ creationist blog]. I am knocked sideways at hearing it from Dawkins.

Klinghoffer is knocked sideways? Okay. While in that posture, he tells us:

Andrew [the Discoveroid podcast host, presumably] asks why the technology we use every day naturally prompts a design inference, but the far more fantastically advanced biological machinery in the cell does not.

This looks like nothing more than the old Watchmaker analogy. The TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims has a zillion items regarding design — for example: Complexity indicates intelligent design. Klinghoffer continues with a big quote, presumably from Andrew McDiarmid. Here’s some of it:

These days, we surround ourselves with technology to stay in touch, to keep ourselves informed, and to manage the challenges of our daily lives. We also recognize in our devices and machines all the hallmarks of design, understanding reflexively that they express the ingenuity of engineers or software developers. Our appreciation for applied intelligence comes as second nature to us — we intuitively recognize the work of other minds.

But what happens when we look up from our technology and survey the world of nature? When we look up at the movement of the planets, or into the eyes of our children, or when we peer through a microscope into a living cell? Do we see signs of minds in those places? Do we sense intelligence and forethought? Or does our intuition of design stop at the iPhone and the jet airplane?

Yeah, yeah — you agree that your computer is designed, so why not your tushie? You want more of that quote from McDiarmid? Okay, but just a bit more:

In a recent tweet, the world’s most famous scientific atheist, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, confessed to being knocked “sideways with wonder at the miniaturized intricacy of the data-processing machinery in the living cell.”

Dawkins wrote the tweet after watching an animation produced by an Australian medical institute showing how cells store and copy the vast amounts of digital information present in DNA. The digital information technology found in living cells (as depicted in this and other animations) has raised profound questions about an enduring scientific mystery: how did the very first life begin? And did a mind or intelligent designer play a role?

That’s enough! Oh, Klinghoffer’s post ends with what he says is the video that Dawkins was watching when he made the “knocked sideways” remark. Go ahead, take a look. Then let us know if you too are knocked sideways. And if you are, does that mean you’re a creationist?

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17 responses to “Will Richard Dawkins Join the Discovery Institute?

  1. I’ll go with Gilligan’s Island’s Wrongway Feldman as the intelligent designer. Everything points to Wrongway Feldman.

  2. Let me try to make my point clear. I
    am NOT arguing against design. I only mean to point out the analogy being invoked is rather a disanalogy. Any design that we can think of doesn’t work the way that DNA produces an adaptation. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t some secret, hidden design which produces DNA somehow as a solution.

  3. Perhaps Klinghoffer has been drinking…..An article in the WSJ weekend edition asks ” Does Evolution Want US To Drink”? In it, they describe evidence that suggests modern agriculture came about in order to grow grain, to make beer. In other words, vats for brewing beer 12,000 years old in Turkey from C14, reveals that man’s affinity for alcohol precedes agriculture.
    So,,,,I think Klinghoffer is really a secret heavy drinker. There. Explained it all..Finally !!!!! Hurrah.

  4. If it’s the result of design, then there is no variance. Every new thing is a straight knockoff for Mehta op proceeded it. Variance is the result of mutations, but there can be only one true design.

  5. Things that proceeded it.

  6. I’m pretty sure most physicists think quantum mechanics and quarks are pretty amazing. And astrophysicists are impressed by the size and age of the universe (hint — it’s a lot older than a few thousand years!) And in the days when I studied muscle structure and physiology, I thought that was pretty interesting. But I never thought my favorite goddy thing (Ganesha) had anything to do with it.

  7. @ochwill did you know that everyone in the Middle Ages drank beer all the time instead of water because all of the water was bad? I learned it on the History Channel so it must be true!

  8. If you want to argue that X is like Y, it is not a good idea to point out how little X is like Y. Yet ever since the beginning, those who argue that living things are like designed things could not resist pointing out that living things differ in great degree from anything that we know of which is designed.
    David Sedley, Creationism and its Critics in Antiquity, describes the argument that Socrates is said to have make. as reported by Xenophonl. Sedley describes part of the argument thus (page 84):
    “3. If that which produces living beings does so by design, it is more admirable than represtational artists. … its products are superior to theirs…״.
    There is a separation in admirability. There is no effort made in arguing that very good artists might approach in admirability.
    And the latest example of the design argument as presented here continues in that tradition: living things are so much more complicated than any example of design that we know of.
    Those who argue for design of life seem to have this kind of compulsion to self-refutation, they have to go beyond saying that X is like Y, they have to over-do it, that X is different from any Y.

  9. bewilderbeast

    Honesty allows Dawkins to express wonder; Dishonesty allows creationists to pounce on that expression of wonder. Sad, sad people lyin’ for Jesus.

  10. Dave Luckett

    bewilderbeast: that’s part of it. Zeroing in on anything that might offer a verbal advantage, no matter how shoddy, no matter how illusory, is a creationist staple. But there might be more to it than that. It might be simply ego, simple arrogance: I don’t understand this, therefore it must be divine, because otherwise I’d understand it.

    Real scientists deal with the unknown. They know to their core that they don’t know everything, and that most of their working lives will be spent butting their heads against what they don’t know. It’s a humbling experience, to know that reality, nature, the Universe itself, are stranger and more complex than you understand, or ever will.

    Contrast that experience with Klockdropper’s. He’s never done science in his life, and has spent the last – what? – twenty years or more certain that he knows the answer. How many times has he told himself, with comfortable satisfaction, that he knows it? He watches with mild amusement as the scientists struggle towards understanding, only to find, when they get there, more questions. Having decided that the answer is “God”, he has no need to engage in so fruitless a pursuit.

    That’s the converse of “humbling”. It pulls in exactly the opposite direction. And Klanghopper’s discourse doesn’t half show it.

  11. Dave Luckett

    Oh, blast. Incorrect closure. Aid me, oh Mighty One!

    [Voice from above:] All is well, my son.

  12. @ Richard ……..awwwwwwww…….. how funny !

  13. So, it is self evident that a stick, sharpened to be used a a spear, clearly demonstrates intelligent design – but the DNA depicted in this astonishing animation does not…

    Maybe I just “don’t understand how science works”?

    Hahaha! 😀🤣😂

  14. It isn’t at all obvious how particular string of DNA results in a particular shape of a protein. Let alone how the entirety of a chromosome divides up into producing genes; and, in the larger scales, how those proteins act together in growth and structure and metabolism, end up as organs which work together as a functioning individual; let alone how those individuals form a population; let alone how populations act together in an environment, make an ecosystem.
    To take one small fraction of this, how would a designer figure out what stretches of DNA would result in a functioning eye?
    But what I try to point out is that the analogy of design has always gone beyond an obvious analogy. The proponents of the analogy overplay their hand, and make a point of how living things are far beyond the sort of thing that we recognize as Design. Socrates, according to Xenophon, was not content with making the analogy of a statue of a living thing, but went beyond that in pointing out that there was so much more in any living thing, beyond the activity of any designer.

  15. I am reminded of what people think of UFOs.
    We are told that such-and-such phenomenon was seen to behave in such a spectacular way, far beyond and aircraft that we could imagine. Therefore, so we are told, it must be an
    aircraft of a super technology.
    Not that it is not any kind of aircraft at all.

  16. I am sure that Dawkins would say that the cell *was* designed. That Evolution + NS *is* a design process.

  17. @KeithB
    I will be so bold as to challenge anyone who says that there is a design process at work in the production of living things.
    How is that process like the way that designers that we know about go about their business?