Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Alien to Truth
Matt Zeitlin, a sophomore at Northwestern University and an editorial intern at Campus Progress, an online magazine affiliated with the Center for American Progress, has a nice takedown of the Discoveyless Institute's Stephen Meyer and his new book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. The title of the piece, "The Greatest Trick Intelligent Design Ever Pulled," refers to the slick veneer of science that Intelligent Design Creationism tries to put on the old "creation science":
But when asked at the McLean church if young earth creationists—i.e., those that follow a literal biblical timeline stretching back roughly 10,000—had "fueled New Atheism by giving it something to caricature," Meyer said the Discovery Institute takes a "neutral position on this" and that the prevalence of young-earth creationist views didn't matter because "we would have been treated exactly the same way."
It's no surprise that Meyer remained open, or at least didn't condemn, such an anti-scientific belief. Creationists are the ID movement's base. A 2006 Gallup poll showed that 46 percent of Americans believed that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so"—a position that is totally out of line with basic scientific knowledge of geology and archaeology. The Discovery Institute specifically targets these very people. Part of the long-term plan in the Wedge Document is to "build up a popular base of support among our natural constituency, namely, Christians. We will do this primarily through apologetics seminars." McLean Bible Church, for example, hosted an apologetics event a month before Meyer's to discuss how Noah's Ark actually could have held all those animals. So it made sense that Meyer avoided offending his "natural constituency." ...
Meyer, despite his thin scientific coating, is trafficking the half-baked, over-motivated arguments that have always been peddled by creationists ...
But what does Meyer say?:
When I asked him to speculate on the nature of this designer, Meyer hedged and carefully said that his argument left open two possible agents for creation of life on earth, "aliens or God." He just so happened to favor the God hypothesis.
It is a neat demonstration of the ad hoc nature of creationist arguments, if not the conscious dishonesty of them.
On the stupidity/malice question regarding the Disco 'Tute, I now default to malice.
As for dealing with the issues of the book head on, it's not hard. I'm sure there will be more detailed dissections as time goes on, as there was with Behe's last book. After all, this is a faux "debate" and real scientists have more important fish to fry. The more limited set of scientists who subject themselves to such foolishness for the purpose of refuting it will get around to it.