Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Censorship and incoherence: the classy way to lose an argument

So, I happened to wander back over to zenbullets' post denying evolution (previously covered here and here) and I noticed that several comments had disappeared. I posted a comment asking what had happened - it disappeared. I posted a comment asking if he was deleting comments. That also disappeared, and I got an e-mail saying that some comments had been 'selected out', but not to worry as none of mine had. Well, I'm flattered, but I'm guessing the people whose comments have been summarily removed without any form of explanation are going to be a bit pissed off, and with good reason. He also informed me a paragraph had been added to the original post clarifying his argument (again with no indication that anything had been changed - time for a blogger ethics course perhaps?). When I tell you that his clarification of the argument has the line

He calls Evolution a science, but this is a common misconception. It is a faith.
followed by
Darwin’s great theory is most probably right on the mark, there is a lot for evidence for it.
you'll probably have some kind of idea of the incisive logic that has led him to take his position. Anyway, the new paragraph consists of something of a climbdown, starting off with the aforementioned acknowledgement that hey, maybe there is some evidence for this evolution thing after all. It then continues with a classic creationist defence, a la Answers in Genesis:
But Evolution is not the kind of theory that can be conclusively proved in the same way gravity, heliocentricism, or a round earth can be proved. You cannot make a prediction of a state that can be measured after time t, which can then be tested at time t to see if it meets the prediction. The fossil record is very incomplete (representing less than 1% of all species who have lived on our planet), so if you were to look at time t for a fossil, it is very unlikely you would find it there.
You hear that, all you geologists, palaeontologists and biologists? You should probably just disband your departments now, hand your grant money back and shuffle out the door nice and quietly. Historical science is just not science any more guys. Alternatively, possibly someone should read some more philosophy of science.


heather said...

I read the original post and your very sensible comments on it (hoping that there weren't many others that disappeared.)

I can't see why an acknowledgement of evolution has any necessary association with atheism, anyomre than the laws of thermodynamics have. I find it really hard to understand why theists see it as the one scientific theory that is a problem to them. Why don't they object to gravity, given that the bible has people ascending bodily?

At the same time, I am genuinely amazed that someone without a fundamentalist axe to grind can doubt evolution for a minute. I can only guess that this madness was posted by someone for a joke or to try to stir up a controversy.

As for falsifying the theory, that would be an easy experiment. Just find a species that thrives when it's badly adapted to its environment.... If people really doubt the truth of evolution, let them try to do that. :-D

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Hey, he deleted my comment!

Zenbullets claimed that Dawkins wrote in his book (Ancestor's Tale?) that there is no proof for evolution, but Dawkins believes that the proof will appear someday.

Doesn't sound like Dawkins, so I wrote the comment.

He edited that claim out of his blog post too.

Ben D said...

heather - You also have to wonder why they don't object to space travel, as the people ascending bodily apparently reached heaven when they got high enough. When your holy book is based on a 2000 year old understanding of the world, there's a lot of modern science you have to object to if you want to take it literally. I guess a lot of the objections to evolution are based on the simple 'I ain't no monkey!' yuk factor.

lim - He replaced the Dawkins claim with one misrepresenting Darwin's views: In The Origin of Species, Darwin worried that Evolution was without sufficient proof, but held tightly to the belief that one day the fossil record would provide it. Which would be a quote mine of Darwin, had he only bothered to supply a quote to back it up.