Thursday, July 17, 2008

Facts and "Facts"

The evolution debate plummeted to a new low. This incredibly silly, fallacy-laden, contradictory, stupid article is not doing National Review any favors. Some conservatives happen not to believe that there is a monolithic neo-Darwinian...wait, before I finish this sentence, I just have to say - "neo-Darwinian" as an epithet makes as much sense as "neo-Euclidean" for a geometer. All right, so some of us don't believe in a neo-Darwinian conspiracy to suppress science.

Fearful of being branded “anti-science,” some conservatives are skittish about such efforts to allow challenges to the consensus view of science.
I, and I'm sure many others, am not afraid of being called names, I'm afraid of being incorrect. If we cared about name-calling, the last seven years surely would have induced suicide.
They insist that conservatives should not question currently accepted “facts” of science, only the supposedly misguided application of those facts by scientists to politics, morality, and religion.
"Facts"!!! Who is this guy, Bruno Latour? Facts are facts, until they become "facts" when they are inconvenient for the speaker (of any ideological persuasion). Let's leave this kind of thinking to solipsist Continentals, k?

It gets more bizarre:
If it really is a “fact” that the evolution of life was an unplanned process of chance and necessity (as Neo-Darwinism asserts), then that fact has consequences for how we view life. It does not lead necessarily to Richard Dawkins’s militant atheism, but it certainly makes less plausible the idea of a God who intentionally directs the development of life toward a specific end.
Facts are facts no matter their consequences; what this fool is saying is that if the conclusion is unpleasant, then the premises must be false. But...huh? If a premise is false, then prove that it's false. Proving that it leads to a false conclusion would be one way to go about this; claiming it leads to an unpalatable conclusion is anti-scientific. Hey! You're anti-science! Nyah nyah!

Further, if evolution makes Aristotelian occasionalism* less plausible, hooray! Aristotle's physics was never very good anyway, and our greatest advances in science came when we rejected it.
In a Darwinian worldview, even God himself cannot know how evolution will turn out...
Is there such a thing as a "Darwinian worldview"? I mean, the guy developed the theory of evolution, not the theory of absolutely everything that has happened or will happen, right? So unless there is a Darwinian theology that necessarily accompanies his biology, this seems false.

Creationists: stop.

*I sort of made this up. Sort of. But if you understand Aristotle's concept of telos and know what occasionalism is, I think you'll find my new phrase appropriate.


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