Friday, February 02, 2007

The Dawkins Delusion.

I have noticed several pieces about this odd phenomenon. Bill Dembski seems to have got hold of a very strange interview with Dr Terry Tommyrot, available here. Another interesting report of a discussion on the same subject is here.

Labels:

15 Comments:

Anonymous Hrafn said...

The Dembski Delusion

William 'Master of Flatulence' Dembski has a real bee in his bonnet about Dawkins. Not only is Dawkins a real scientist, at a famous university (not a theologian scientist-wannabe at a small and obscure seminary), he is a best-selling author who is invited to speak all around the world. It's really more than Dembski's oversized, but fragile, ego can stand.

Does Dembski Still Exist?

While we have the word of a world-famous university that Dawkins is still with us, together with thousands of witnesses to personal appearances and millions of witnesses to his tv & radio appearances, what evidence have we that Dembski still exists? All we have are his comments on his blog, and quite frankly, a petulant 12-year old could manufacture those.

All Dembski's latest piece of inane 'street theatre' has done is to further highlight his own insignificance.

12:25 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Andrew,

Why are you people so afraid of Dawkins? He's only a man, as the song goes.


Richard Dawkins, superstar, he's just a man, he's just one man....

6:20 pm  
Blogger David Anderson said...

YouTube version here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QERyh9YYEis

"If a Dawkins designed the books... who designed the Dawkins?"

David

6:23 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

"If a Dawkins designed the books... who designed the Dawkins?"

It certainly wasn't a god!

11:33 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"If a Dawkins designed the books..."

He didn't. He wrote them and had them printed, using purely natural processes, no supernatural whizz-bangery involved.

"who designed the Dawkins?"

Nobody did. His parents conceived him in the normal way, so he is a random combination of their DNA +/- some minor (and most probably benign) mutations.

Only a bunch of Creationists could take two everyday, perfectly natural, processes and turn them into an argument for the existence of a supreme supernatural being.

3:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hrafn,

How do you define a 'real' scientist?

Please could you give everyone an accepted definition that all can work with.


Thanks.

12:27 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Anonymous:

I don't propose to offer a formal definition of "real scientist", as there would inevitably be a fair amount of fuzziness between the categories of "real scientist" and "not real scientist".

However, there is an old saying that paraphrases to: "just because we have dawn and dusk, doesn't mean that we can't tell the difference between night and day."

Any reasonable definition of "real scientist" would include somebody with a DPhil and a DSci in Zoology, who had been a an Assistant Professor of Zoology at UC-Berkeley, a Reader in Zoology at Oxford, and is now currently the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science there.

Any reasonable definition of "real scientist" would exclude a Apologist/Theologian/Philosopher/Mathematician with no advanced qualifications in any science and no record of scientific research.

1:15 pm  
Anonymous onlooker said...

hrafn,

According to your worldview is it at all possible for a "real" scientist to believe in a supernatural Creator. A simple "yes" or "no" answer would be appreciated. Thanks.

2:57 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Anonymous:

Most certainly it is possible. For example, Ken Miller believes in a supernatural Creator, and is also a highly regarded scientist. And I am sure there are numerous other examples.

4:16 pm  
Anonymous onlooker said...

Thanks Hrafn. Would you say, for example, that Andy McIntosh Professor of Combustion Theory and Thermodynamics at Leeds University who, I understand, believes in the Bible's account of a special creation, is a "real" scientist ?

5:03 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Onlooker:

I would say that Andy McIntosh falls into the fuzzy area I mentioned before. He has the qualifications of a "real scientist" but makes claims in his own field that are blatantly unsupported by the relevant scientific theories, and seems even more free with with wild claims outside his field. These are not things I would expect of a "real scientist".

I would also point out the belief in 'Special Creation' is a far more restrictive belief set than mere belief in a "supernatural Creator" and that all formulations of Special Creation that I have seen to date are directly contradicted by the scientific evidence. Would a "real scientist" believe something that is directly contradicted by the scientific evidence? It would seem unlikely.

5:57 pm  
Blogger Tony Jackson said...

Onlooker: “Would you say, for example, that Andy McIntosh Professor of Combustion Theory and Thermodynamics at Leeds University who, I understand, believes in the Bible's account of a special creation, is a "real" scientist ?”

A common mistake is to imagine that scientists are a monolithic group who are equally expert in all sub-fields of science. Hence the classic Daily Mail headline “SCIENTISTS SAY....”.

However, expertise in one field of science most certainly doesn’t automatically make you an expert in another. Occasionally, some scientists forget that with predictably embarrassing results. For example, Linus Pauling - arguably the greatest chemist of the twentieth century - made a sad spectacle of himself in his declining years by championing cranky areas of medicine such as mega-dose vitamin therapy.

At least Pauling wasn’t motivated by religious beliefs (I suspect in his case it was ego), but McIntosh is a million times worse because he’s a young earth biblical literalist and that automatically shackles him to a whole host of scientific absurdities that are flatly contradicted by the data.

If you go to his official departmental website at Leeds University, you’ll see his research interests and list of publications in the highly specialised field of combustion science. I’m a biochemist/cell biologist and I’m certainly not competent to judge the technical merits of his work, but it does seem to have been published in the serious peer-reviewed journals of the field. Indeed, the very fact that he’s a professor means that he must have a strong and consistent record of research and he probably has an international reputation.

Presumably in these publications, McIntosh doesn’t try to claim that explosions are caused by fire-breathing demons. In other words, within his own narrowly prescribed field, he plays by the accepted rules of science. So it’s all the more bizarre that we also get this sort of thing from him, published on the ‘Answers in Genesis’ website:

“Flood models: the need for an integrated approach” by A.C. McIntosh, T. Edmondson & S. Taylor

http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v14/i1/flood_models.asp

To read this paper is to fall into a surreal parallel world in which jaw-dropping nonsense is presented with a straight face in the accepted style of a scientific publication.

I'm not psychologist enough to understand this, but it perhaps suggests that McIntosh somehow has watertight compartments in his brain.

One final thought. I notice that the ‘Answers in Genesis’ articles, despite being described as ‘publications’ in the AIG website, are unaccountably missing from his official publication list on his departmental website. Now of course this could be at the insistence of Leeds University, who’s patience must have been sorely tested these past few months. But if McIntosh himself has carefully omitted them, what does that really say about his true faith in his belief system?

7:59 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

tony jackson said: "But if McIntosh himself has carefully omitted them, what does that really say about his true faith in his belief system?"

Tony, I have also noted that the fierceness of some of the creationist argument looks like it is linked to a shaky faith. Otherwise, why try to prove god by science at all? If you have faith, that should be good enough. If all the Bible stuff is true, Christianity will triumph in the long run.

Relax. Pour a stiff whisky. Watch the world go by... god' son your side. Why worry about the arguments...UNLESS YOU AREN'T REALLY CERTIAN IN YOURSELF?

4:49 pm  
Blogger Smokey said...

A lack of faith is the only hypothesis that predicts their behavior, particularly the avoidance of data.

If they had any confidence or faith, they'd be tearing into the data and producing some themselves. Instead, apologetics gets placed above data, and any superficial demonstration of interest in looking at data quickly disappears before any discussion of data can occur.

Quote-mining, however, is a different story...

5:04 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's not lack of faith that leads scientifically minded christians to fight so fiercely, but rather a hope that through a medium to which many are familiar, many may be reached and brought into the glory that is a relationship with the Savior of mankind

5:17 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home