Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Purple Pain

Ronald Bailey of Reason magazine has a version available of his remarks during the FreedomFest 2008 debate: "Is There Scientific Evidence for Intelligent Design in Nature?" They are good reading.

One point well worth emulating when discussing the subject with doubtful but still open minded people is Bailey's skillful weaving together of various forms of evidence from the fossil record, genetics and development to make a multifaceted case for evolution that is neither too complex to be understood by people with no particular expertise nor too simple to convey the true richness of the evidence for evolution.

In this instance, though, that part of Bailey's case is only the substrate to his real aim. Noting the Discovery Institute's statement: "Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text," Bailey sets the stage:

Near the end of the silly new anti-evolution film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed—in which fellow panelist Steve Meyer appeared—host Ben Stein asks Richard Dawkins, who is arguably the best-known living evolutionary biologist on the planet, if he could think of any circumstances under which intelligent design might have occurred. Incautiously, Dawkins brings up the idea that aliens might have seeded life on earth; so-called directed panspermia. This idea was suggested by biologists Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel back in the 1970s. In the film, Stein acts like this is a great "gotcha," like it's the silliest thing he's ever heard. Of course, the irony is that this is precisely what proponents of intelligent design are claiming—that a higher intelligence has repeatedly created life on earth.

So, since our esteemed opponents are agnostic with regard to the "source of design," and because intelligent design cannot rule out the hypothesis that super-intelligent purple space squids are not the "source of design" of life on earth, I will provisionally accept that hypothesis for the remainder of my talk.

Besides defusing a minor embarrassment, Mr. Bailey forges the issue of aliens into a cudgel with which to bludgeon the Intelligent Design Creationists:

As I understand it, intelligent design proponents—such as our distinguished Discovery Institute panelists here—fully accept the fact that the earth is around 4.5 billion years old and that some form of life has existed on earth for about 3 billion or so years. If that is the case, it would seem the record shows that the intelligent designers—which I am hypothesizing are super-intelligent purple space squids—evidently spent more than 2 billion years tinkering with single-cell algae and bacteria before they got around to creating multi-cellular species. Do intelligent design proponents have a theory to explain that? Were the space squid creators just lazy?

Trust me. It goes down hill for the IDers after that. Better yet, don't trust me ... go read it yourself.

John. I love you. Posts like this are a major part of the reason why.

And I lurrve the purple squid pic!
John. I love you.

I'm pretty sure you have to get my wife's permission for that.

Oh, you meant ... uh ... never mind!
That's the single best succinct put-down of intelligent design creationism I've read in more than 20 years of reading and writing on this stuff. I'd give a lot to have seen Meyer's and Gilder's faces during the presentation of it. And I'd sure like to know what their response was (I can't say rebuttal because there is no way of rebutting it!).
You mean now I have to make a choice between SuperIntelligent Purple Space Squids, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or the Invisible Pink Unicorn? I think I need Pascal's Roulette Wheel.
Get 'cher scorecards here! Can't tell the Designers without 'cher scorecard!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

. . . . .


How to Support Science Education