Wednesday, July 04, 2007

UD Outrage Du Jour

In a comment on his own post at Uncommon Descent, Dembski writes

Jonathan Wells and I make the same point regarding the origin of life in our book THE DESIGN OF LIFE, which is coming out in two months:

"Proof-of-concept works only when one proves the concept. Origin-of-life researchers are a long way from establishing proof of concept. Indeed, it has completely eluded them. Their willingness to embrace just about any highly speculative scenario for life's origin suggests that in fact they are giving up on proof of concept and acting out of desperation, trying to shore up a materialistic explanation of life's origin when life is clearly telling us that its origin is not materialistic."

"they?" "willingness to embrace?" "acting out of desperation?" "shore up?" "life is clearly telling us?"


This book is intended, I'll remind you, not as a popularization—in which case virtually anything would be acceptable, but as a science text book. No science text should read, as that paragraph reads, like an editorial penned by Ken Ham (or anyone else—such as Richard Dawkins). And you should agree with me on this, even if you agree with Ken Ham's creationism, because science text books are not supposed to editorialize.

Don't tell us what is wrong with the prevailing science, show us.

Here, I'll rewrite it the way the editor should have demanded, keeping the point they wanted to make intact but with all the garbage removed:

Current research into the origins of life has made little, if any, experimental progress.

A statement that is more or less beyond dispute and conveys to the student that OoL research is still in its infancy.

Jonathan Wells is a Moonie—so none of his actions—in light of that peculiar choice—can surprise. Indeed, a member of a heretical cult would be expected to act in a manner that is damaging to the church. But Dembski is a Christian. His insistence on driving a wedge between God's church and the study of God's general revelation (science) is inexplicable.

And by that I don't mean that it is wrong for him to point out where he thinks mainstream science is wrong, or to propose alternative theories. Those are proper activities for the researcher. But the political rather than scientific manner in which he engages in his crusade—the reliance on hyperbole rather than substance—is worse than embarrassing: it is harmful. Christians are supposed to offend with the gospel—they are not supposed to come across as rubes and bumpkins (as St. Augustine so ably wrote). Instead of carrying out research Dembski finds fulfillment, it would appear, in serving as a guru and basking in the validation by his followers.


No comments:

Post a Comment