Uncommon Descent’s “Special Audience”

Uncommon Descent is William Dembski’s blog. (Dembski, one of the princes of intelligent design propaganda). The target audience of his blog is “special”. What I mean by that is that Dembski and his guest bloggers stick to a script – a political / religious / social message – and the commetors lap it up like starving puppies. The “puppies” stick to their own script too, but they do it out of ignorance, stupidity, and laziness. Let’s look at an example.

A guy named Paul Nelson has written a little something called “Jerry Fedor: Natural Selection Has Gone Bust”. Clearly, it’s a work of fantasy about a work of fantasy, like The Wizard of Oz meets the Gandalf the Wizard. Jerry Fedor of Rutgers University argues that natural selection is in trouble, and the Uncommon Descent crowd loves the idea. But neither Nelson nor Fedor offer any evidence except cheap argumentation.

But what chaps my hide are the tired ignorant comments on the blog. Take number four which also captured the attention of Mathematician, Jason Rosenhouse at Science Blogs.com. Number 4, aka GilDodgen writes:

The notion that natural selection ever produced anything or has any creative power is simply absurd on its face. Natural selection throws stuff out. New things are not created by throwing old things out. Natural selection is death, and death has never created anything new.

It seems to me that this should not be difficult to understand — except, apparently, for those who are philosophically committed to a certain ideology.

Gee whiz. Does natural selection really throw stuff out? Tell us more, Mister. But what is so irritating about such flummery are the ommisions of fact. Does natural selection work alone?

No, it works on sexually reproducing creatures that have generation times. Each new generation is selected, and those selected to live get to pass on their genes to the next generation. Also, each new generation is a recombination of the old. And mutations are passed on to different degrees or they are eliminated completely.

If life on Earth were a giant pool of long living creatures (nearly immortal but not quite, like The Highlander) that never reproduced, then natural selection would be a process of death, one that only “throws stuff out”. But since it works along with the process of sexual reproduction, it isn’t. But I guess an Intelligent Design believer on an Intelligent Design blog isn’t interested in facts, only preserving an endangered world view.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Uncommon Descent’s “Special Audience”

  1. James Gambrell

    “interested in facts, only” Really? Is it not a fact that selection, or choice, requires intelligence? Why is a selection made except to change, improve, or complete the design of the subject in question? If we are to initiate a scientific inquiry by using simple phrases should we not properly define the words used in those phrases before proceeding? Maybe we need new phrases like; “Natural Design”, or “Intelligent Selection” or maybe “Natural Intelligence” or “Design Selection”. Or maybe we could inquire of “Natural, Intelligent Selection of Design”. And since there are claims that science only applies to the physical, natural world, we can leave out the redundant “natural” and begin our inquiry of: “The Intelligent Selection of Design”.
    James E. Gambrell

  2. thedarwinreport

    The “selection” in natural selection is simply the limiting factors of the environment interacting with living organisms. No intelligence is required. If a trout’s path upstream is narrowed to one river because of a drought is that not a forced choice? Neither the fish nor the environment make any “intelligent” decision. It is just two variables interacting and changing, a matter of induction, if you will.

    I see no reason for new terminology. But there is a need for some people to understand the current usage properly.

    In the game of craps, for example, two dice are rolled. The results are random, but the odds are highest that the combined number will be 7. Random events can still have a pattern. Two dice, two variables.

  3. James Gambrell

    ooooh-kay, Tell me more about the natural in “natural selection”. Can we discuss natural without considering unnatural or supernatural? If there is no supernatural why do need to use the word natural. If all is natural the word is meaningless, without comparison and definition. I believe that as commonly used it references the physical realm. If there are no other realms then why do we need a special word to speak of the physical world. Scientists have written of “virtual particles”. Could not the virtual realm be overlaping the physical realm? Then there is quantum mechanics which doesn’t follow physical laws and caused the introduction of nonliner dynamics. Can this be the interaction of the physical realm with another realm? So, lets get real and stop prentending that a few self appointed experts have all the answer and entertain the possibility that there may be realms beyond our, and their, understanding. Maybe logic, a derivative of Logos, can lead the way James E. Gambrell

  4. MarcusA

    “If there is no supernatural why do need to use the word natural.”

    If there’s no Superman why do some of us watch his movies?

    As humans we obviously use the term natural to distinguish man made processes from natural occurring ones. Reasonable people use the term supernatural to describe unprovable concepts, ESP, ghosts, ID, etc.

    If something is measurable or observable it cannot be SUPERNATURAL. By the very definition of supernatural, that would be a contradiction. If we can observe or measure it, it’s part of the material world.

    “Then there is quantum mechanics which doesn’t follow physical laws and caused the introduction of nonliner dynamics.”

    No. We don’t yet understand how the laws of quantum mechanics match up with the laws of the larger physical world. Quantum particles make up the physical world, they are not separate from it.

    Scientists don’t claim to know everything. They do, however, claim to have the best method for uncovering the secrets of the natural world.

    Invoking a whole new unmeasurable realm (the supernatural) to explain a problem in this universe is just silly. It adds more questions, while answering none.

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