Key Words: Still not happy

Daniel Macintyre, the Key Words blogger, is still not happy with me. Apparently, he thinks (or would like us to think) that he is being unfairly portrayed as a creationist, even though I went to quite a bit of trouble last time to make it plain that I was not arguing that he was.

Yes, the professor is not speculating who believes what – even though his article is in direct response to mine. He brings up creation AGAIN and AGAIN – states that creationists arguments are flawed and then acts as if this proves I am wrong, but he is NOT saying I am a creationist.

This leads us to a small problem with his approach – If his argument is NOT based on the idea that I am a creationist, then his attacks on creationism don’t have any bearing on my argument and can therefore be dismissed.

I think a bit of review is in order.

On Oct. 25, 2007, Mr. MacIntyre wrote:

First of all, the professor seems to think that I have a problem with the idea that God is smarter than Darwin. I don’t. God beats Darwin any day of the week and six times on Sunday. This is easily exemplified by the fact that I have attacked Darwinists before – most recently in an article posted only one month prior.

In another post on the same day, he wrote:

My argument has been that Darwinists haven’t shown that this is sufficient to explain the full picture. Specifically, that the Intelligent design is still a valid competing theory.

On Nov. 1, he wrote:

The simple fact is, while I acknowledge that Darwinism is a valid theory, I don’t believe it has proven its case. My primary reason is that, while I have seen a great deal of evidence that Darwinism is a sufficient explanation for the current state of the diversity of species we see, I have not seen anything to establish it as a NECESSARY explanation…

Along a similar line, Vox Day has made a pretty strong case for a second argument against Darwinian theory. It’s an unscientific model because it fails as a predictive model – and in fact is not even that effective as a historical one.

And on Dec. 21st:

The thing is, none of the above disputes the fact that Darwinism is STILL dependent on abductive reasoning. Darwinists STILL started with evidence and picked a theory that fit it, which is a good way of selecting a theory, but is NOT a proof of the reality of the facts behind the theory…

and ONCE AGAIN arguing against intelligent design when I NEVER ARGUED FOR IT!But why would I think he’s speculating about what I believe?

Why indeed? I’m clearly not “speculating,” I’m simply responding to the second post he made on Oct. 25 in which he claimed that Intelligent Design was “still a valid competing theory.” If he does not, in fact, believe that ID is a valid competing theory, he has only to say so, but until he does, I think it’s cogent to point out the ways in which ID fails to live up to the standards required of valid science.

I notice, too, that his objections to evolutionary theory are evolving. The second 10/25 post claimed that “Darwinists haven’t shown that this is sufficient to explain the full picture,” but by Nov. 1 he apparently realized that there is “a great deal of evidence that Darwinism is a sufficient explanation.” His new objection, therefore, is that it isn’t “necessary.” (One wonders what would be required in order for any theory to qualify as “necessary.” Is the theory of relativity, or gravity, or subatomic particles, really “necessary”?)

Mr. MacIntyre seems to have an ambivalent, if not self-contradictory, attitude towards evolutionary theory, aka “Darwinism.” On the one hand, he claims to agree with it, and even uses it to justify his naive and inaccurate views on race. On the other hand, he claims that superstitious alternatives like ID are “valid competing theories,” and supports and defends spurious arguments like Vox Day’s against evolution. Nor is his grasp of fundamental science any less confused.

Darwinism is STILL dependent on abductive reasoning. Darwinists STILL started with evidence and picked a theory that fit it, which is a good way of selecting a theory, but is NOT a proof of the reality of the facts behind the theory.

What he’s describing here is not evolutionary theory, but Intelligent Design. ID starts with the evidence, picks an “explanation” that fits it (since it fits any conceivable set of circumstances), and then quits. What makes evolutionary theory more than just “abductive reasoning” is that, like other areas of science, it starts with the evidence, proposes a hypothesis that tries to show how the evidence would arise, and then tests the hypothesis by figuring out which observable consequences would result if the hypothesized mechanism exists and is operating in the real world. If the calculated consequences match the observed evidence, we say the evidence supports the hypothesis. If it does this enough times, without failing to explain any relevant observed evidence, it gets promoted to the status of scientific theory, like atomic theory, evolutionary theory, and the germ theory of disease.

Remember, science is basically the practical application of the principle that truth is consistent with itself. Evolutionary theory is the scientific theory that is most consistent with the truth we observe in the real world, and evolution is the only mechanism whose consequences can be calculated analytically, without requiring real-world observation to tell us what those consequences ought to be.

Evolution doesn’t just tell us, for instance, that related species should have shared genetic markers. ID could tell us that related species share genetic markers, but it can only do so because it sees shared genetic markers in related species. A lack of shared markers would be just as likely, given only the premise that life was designed. But evolutionary theory explains why we ought to see shared genetic markers: it’s because the related species each inherited a slightly modified copy of the genetic information that was passed on to them from a common ancestor. We don’t need to observe whether relates species have shared genetic markers or not. Related species would have to share common genetic markers, because they arose by copying the genes of a common ancestor. So we know that shared markers should show up, and have known it since we first discovered what genes were!

Naturally, I’m just using ID as a handy tool for contrasting genuine scientific theories like evolution versus superstitious and unscientific ideas like ID. Evolutionary theory works the way science in general works, and it works because science in general works. Object to evolution if you like, but let’s not kid ourselves: if you don’t have anything better (i.e. more consistent with real-world truth), then you’re merely posing.

One Response to “Key Words: Still not happy”

  1. The meaning of “race.” « Evangelical Realism Says:

    […] question of race, as exemplified by Daniel MacIntyre’s comments on the topic. In the post I discussed previously, he writes: I think I found the problem! the Professor is confusing race with species! […]

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