Monday, May 30, 2005

William Dembski's Weblog, Richard Dawkins, and ID

Check out William Dembski's weblog for his ongoing thoughts about Intelligent Design theory and much more.
Here, for example, are two letters Dembski posts, written by UK scientists who are reacting negatively to Richard Dawkins.

Two Gifts for Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins’s recent piece titled Creationism: God’s Gift to the Ignorant has not met with full acceptance among UK scientists. Here are two letters by UK scientists who aren’t buying his latest attack on ID:

From Professor Andy McIntosh
Sir, By building a straw man of creationists (supposedly) misquoting Darwin and Lewontin, Professor Dawkins labels the lot as “ignorant” and skirts the big issue — there is no hard evidence for molecules-to-man evolution.
Dawkins has long touted stories on how the eye and other organs came into being by supposed slow evolutionary processes, but there is no experimental evidence, even if one did accept the fossils as a record of such changes. Any serious thinker knows that the fossils of the “Cambrian Explosion” period, near the base of the geological column, include some of the most sophisticated eyes ever known to have existed — the compound eyes of trilobites have double calcite lenses, which defeat any slow evolutionary explanation, and, what is more, they have no precursor in the rocks.
The non-evolutionist side of the argument is growing not because of ignorance, but because of the rise of knowledge about the real facts of science without the fairytale additions of evolutionism. A growing number of academics on both sides of the Atlantic are attracted to the straightforward logic of scientific reasoning.
The logical, coded machinery of DNA and the information system it carries shout design to an unprejudiced mind. Dawkins’s defence is based not on scientific facts, but on ideology. Evolutionary thinking is teetering as a way of looking at the evidence, not because of some isolated problems here and there, but because the whole structure is scientifically wrong.
Yours faithfully,
(Professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory),
Energy and Resources Research Institute,
Houldsworth Building,
University of Leeds,
Clarendon Road, Leeds LS2 9JT.
May 23.

Evolving theory of intelligent designFrom Dr Milton Wainwright

Sir, Like many biologists, Richard Dawkins (Weekend Review, May 21) views the theory of intelligent design merely as an attack on evolution when, being essentially identical to the anthropic principle, it has far wider implications.
Such ideas should not be dismissed simply because they have been hijacked by creationists. Despite Dawkins’s relentless propaganda, rational criticism of evolution and a distaste for biological reductionism do not equate to religious fundamentalism; bigotry should be resisted from whichever direction it comes.
Yours faithfully,
Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology,
University of Sheffield,Sheffield S10 2TN.
May 21.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Islam, the Koran, and American Ignorance

The recent Islamic outrage over perceived desecration of the Koran reveals the basic ignorance of the American media and Americans in general when it comes to understanding Islam and the religious instinct. What the American media cannot fathom is that Muslims who have not been westernized still believe in absolute truth. The democratization of human experience and the ideology of cultural relativism found in western American culture cannot grasp what is going on inside a non-westernized Muslim’s mind and heart. For non-westernized Muslims the Koran really is from God. For them the Koran really is holy. From their perspective it logically follows that to treat the Koran as just another book is scandalous.
For a non-westernized Muslim to question anything in the Koran is blasphemous. Remember what happened to Salman Rushdie? That a fatwa should be put out against Rushdie was unintelligible to the western mind. But Rushdie knew it was real because he understood the Islamic paradigm. There really were Muslims who would want to kill him because, in their eyes, he defamed Mohammed. Thus he went into hiding to save his life.
This past week Muslims were reported to have been chanting “We will cut off the legs of those who defile the Koran!” In logic, this is called an “appeal to force.” It is an informal logical fallacy, adding nothing to support the claim that the Koran is not to be physically mishandled. But it is a deep, ingrained religious conviction that characterizes many serious Muslims. Such Muslims really would cut off the legs of someone who abused the Koran.
Islam is a growing force in international relations. Muslims are moving into American neighborhoods. If they become indoctrinated into American culture they will grow relativistic and become secularized. As nominal Muslims they will affect no one. Muslim scholars and clerics know this. That is why the really great threat to Islam is not Christianity, but Western American culture. That is why effigies of President Bush were being burned this past week. And that explains why Muslim scholars so easily reduce Christianity to a hidden agenda, which is to indoctrinate Muslim peoples with capitalistic values. (See, e.g., Ali Bulac, "Whose Side Was Jesus On?")