Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Rant of a Douche

Like a fool, I continue to visit Uncommon Descent. The truth is that I hope to find something that may be useful in my dissertation studies. I have found a few things, but generally the site is home to fairly bright people who crow stupidly.

Case in point: Gil Dodgen, a whiny baby who packed up his toys and stomped away from UD before. He's back, I guess, and here's his latest ridiculousness, "The Sad Case of the Darwinian Fundamentalist":

In the 20th century, a powerful confluence of evidence emerged that essentially eviscerated the creative power of Darwinian mechanisms. This is not hard to figure out.

The most “simple” cell is a marvel of functionally integrated information-processing technology. Those who propose that the Darwinian mechanisms of random errors filtered by natural selection explain all of life are living in an era gone by, a time when it was thought that the foundation of life was chemistry, physics, time, and chance.

The fossil record is a grand and ever-persistent testimony that Darwin was wrong about gradualism. Simple logic, trivial combinatoric mathematical analysis, and the monstrous problems presented by the likelihood of functional, naturally-selectable intermediates, present overwhelming evidence that Darwinian mechanisms are on their deathbed in terms of their explanatory power for anything but the utterly trivial.

In a sense I feel sorry for Darwinian fundamentalists. It must be depressing to realize that one has wasted his life defending a transparently ephemeral goal that has little to do with reality, nothing to do with real scientific investigation, and that has nothing whatsoever to recommend itself besides philosophical nihilism.
*Shakes head*

OK, let's take this bit by bit.

In the 20th century, a powerful confluence of evidence emerged that essentially eviscerated the creative power of Darwinian mechanisms. This is not hard to figure out.
Translation: We are now almost 10 years away from the century that supposedly proved evolution is wrong, so why isn't evolution dead yet? One can already sense Dodgen's bewilderment turning into a temper tantrum.

The most “simple” cell is a marvel of functionally integrated information-processing technology. Those who propose that the Darwinian mechanisms of random errors filtered by natural selection explain all of life are living in an era gone by, a time when it was thought that the foundation of life was chemistry, physics, time, and chance.
If Dodgen is looking to support his position, he's doing a crappy job of it. Sentence #1 is an argument from personal awe and incredulity. His cherished machine metaphor ("functionally integrated information-processing technology") is ultimately unhelpful because it already invokes the watchmaker analogy. In other words, the metaphor stacks the deck in favor of the machine being made by a sentient engineer.

Of course, it's not established that such an engineer made anything. In other words, the very thing under investigation is how the cell came to be what it is today. Dodgen is clearly skeptical about the ability of cells to have evolved. So what's the alternative theory? That they were designed in god's shop and then launched fully-formed on earth? OK. Is there any tangible evidence to suggest that the design hypothesis itself is anything other than gratuitous? What is it? How strong is it as evidence? Does Dodgen have anything more than "I don't like your theory"?

Only two paragraphs in and we're already at the grand stupidity of Dodgen's post: he's completely vague about what - if not everything - in the evolutionary model he takes issue with, and he provides zero argument for how another model better explains the existence and functionality of "simple" cells.

The fossil record is a grand and ever-persistent testimony that Darwin was wrong about gradualism. Simple logic, trivial combinatoric mathematical analysis, and the monstrous problems presented by the likelihood of functional, naturally-selectable intermediates, present overwhelming evidence that Darwinian mechanisms are on their deathbed in terms of their explanatory power for anything but the utterly trivial.
Same problem here. Wrong about what in gradualism, exactly? Is all of gradualism incorrect? How so? If Dodgen has any actual data to back up his topic sentence, he chooses not to divulge them. Instead he goes to a non-sequitur that again argues from personal incredulity. Ho-hum.

In a sense I feel sorry for Darwinian fundamentalists. It must be depressing to realize that one has wasted his life defending a transparently ephemeral goal that has little to do with reality, nothing to do with real scientific investigation, and that has nothing whatsoever to recommend itself besides philosophical nihilism.
OK, here's where Dodgen gets to say what's really on his mind. The stuff before was right out of the ID "science" playbook and he doesn't care about all that anyway. What he really cares about is (1) prognosticating the imminent demise of (the obligatory strawman) "Darwinism" and (2) visualizing mean atheists consigned to the hell-like margins of science and society.

That's what he wants, to fantasize about atheists writhing in a hell on earth. How (christian) loving of him. If we listen hard, we can still hear the echo of his Dr. Evil laugh as he typed up the final paragraph. Maybe he had his eyes closed in a psycho-sexual reverie as he dreamed of Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers weeping together that all their work and teaching had been in vain. "Why didn't we see it, chap?" Dawkins asks. "Why weren't we as clever as that Gil Dodgen fellow to see that our work was not based in reality, was not scientific, and was not as philosophically hopeful as a jewish guy/god sending unbelievers to eternal damnation?"

I swear these UD/ID people make perfect mockeries of themselves.

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