David Warren gets it exactly backwards

Writing for the Ottawa Citizen, David Warren explores what he calls “the limits of atheism.” After maundering on about how he must be onto something significant because so many people write to him when he mentions “evolutionism,” he gets down to the point of his screed:

Much of the “star chamber” atmosphere, that has accompanied the public invigilation of microbiologists such as Michael J. Behe, and other very qualified scientists working on questions of design in natural systems, can only be explained in this way. The establishment wants such research to be stopped, because it challenges the received religious order, of atheist materialism.

No, David, that’s backwards. The criticisms of the scientific community are about Behe’s manifest failure to start any actual research. There’s no point in trying to stop Behe’s research, because in the ten years since he published Darwin’s Black Box, he hasn’t done a lick of research in support of the conclusions he’s arguing for. Not only has he not found any verifiable answers, he hasn’t even seriously looked for any. All he’s done is to say, “Surely you don’t believe evolution could do all this?” And many of his supporters have replied, “No, you’re right, I don’t believe it.” And that has settled it, for them.

Warren continues:

Any attempt, or suspected attempt, to acknowledge God in scientific proceedings, must be exposed and punished to the limit of the law; or by other ruthless means where the law does not suffice.

But again, that’s quite wrong. What scientists are exposing is not merely the acknowledgment of God in scientific proceedings (which theistic evolutionists have been doing for years), but rather the superstitious practice of invoking God instead of providing documentable, verifiable evidence in support of one’s conclusions. And in the case of Intelligent Design, of doing so while pretending that one is not really invoking God, but only some unknown Designer, about which any and all questions are, oddly, taboo.

Dr. Behe is more than welcome to submit any quantifiable, verifiable, objectively-real evidence which he can produce in favor of God’s existence. Science promises to consider it fairly and rigorously, and to accept any conclusion which is adequately supported by the evidence, the more so since a number of scientists are already Christian. But so long as Christians like Behe continue to present their theistic conclusions as scientific despite the lack of evidence and the blatant appeal to superstition, science will and should continue to denounce their charlatanry.

But Warren is not done yet.

Mr. Behe’s recent book, The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, does a fairly good job of surveying the three iron struts from which Darwinism was welded: random mutation, natural selection, and common descent. He is able to leave only this last standing.

Evidently Warren’s irony detector is switched off. Common descent is the fact of evolution. Mutation and natural selection are, among others, the mechanisms of evolution, and yes, we do still have some questions about the mechanisms and how they all worked. But Behe’s work, of which Warren is so proud, only reinforces the factual nature of evolutionary theory. We have questions about how it happened, but not about whether it happened, as even Behe and Warren concede.

Nevertheless, Warren charges blithely ahead.

This last week we learned of the collapse of one of the latest props of “deep evolutionism,” which was also one of the earliest (the ancient Greeks first thought of it): The very popular “panspermian” hypothesis that life was first seeded on the earth by materials arriving in comets….

Like every other modern essay in “evolutionism” (i.e. evolution as a religious cosmology), the idea behind panspermianism is to transfer the problem of life’s origin on earth, out of the finite space and time of the earth’s own geological history, and into some abstract place where the laws of chance have an infinite amount of time to do whatever is necessary. But the game is almost up. We can now roughly date the origin of our universe, and 15 billion years more-or-less is proving much too short a time for random processes to produce a non-random result. Fifteen billion times 15 billion years is still not nearly enough time.

Oops. Mr. Warren apparently forgot that Intelligent Design is supposed to not know that the Designer is God. Part of the strategy for denying that ID is just creationism in disguise is the argument that the Designer(s) could be some kind of advanced space alien. Panspermianism is actually pretty irrelevant to evolutionary theory, and even to abiogenesis, because, as Warren points out, it just transfers the problem somewhere else. If panspermianism is out, it’s no big deal for evolutionary science, but it’s a huge deal for ID, because that means Behe et al must now either admit that their Designer is a supernatural Creator, or else admit that they’ve got it all wrong as far as the chances for abiogenesis happening here on earth. After all, it would take longer for life to evolve elsewhere and then cross the vast distances of interstellar space to reach the earth than it would for life to originate here to start with.

I’ve always admired the ability some people have to stand there smiling despite the double load of self-inflicted buckshot in both feet. Mr. Warren, I salute you.

One Response to “David Warren gets it exactly backwards”

  1. davidwarrenonline Says:

    Warren’s a silly little man. His main trick is to command a decent (if dated) vocabulary. He combines that with dogmatic triumphalism. Idiots imagine that this makes him a “man of letters”. Personally I think it makes him sound like a poor man’s CS Lewis, preaching to a small group of inarticulate dimwits who seem him as some sort of visionary.

    His scribblings about politics are even worse, amounting to nothing more than limp-wristed attempts at chest-thumping. The same man who a few years ago was deriding Ariel Sharon for being soft on the Palestinians and lauding Bush’s manliness was also writing columns fuming about how some teenage girl accidentally bumped into him on the street, sending him flying and spilling coffee all over himself. Canada’s living Walter Mitty responded by…whining about it in his column. You could practically hear the sobs and see the fat tears of wounded pride trickling over his overheated cheeks. What a he-man.

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