Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NOVA Judgment Day: Dover PA judge would sentence us to no hygiene, no antiseptic surgery, no electronics, no labor-saving devices, no gravity

Ted Mahar, writer for the Oregonian newspaper, wrote a review of the NOVA program "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial." See:

http://www.oregonlive.com/entertainment/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/entertainment/119490270485010.xml&coll=7

Following is a letter of response sent to the Oregonian by a friend of Darwin's Undertaker.

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Letter to Ted Mahar, The Oregonian, November 13, 2007.

I was saddened to read your review of the NOVA program "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial" (Oregonian, November 13, 2007, p. B8). Oregonian readers would have been well served by a good dose of critical thinking instead of your swallowing and regurgitation of the NOVA piece. While ostensibly a documentary, "Judgment Day" applies a transparently selective pro-evolution bias in the quantity and depth of material presented. You aid and abet this propagandist wolf dressed in sheep's documentary clothing in both your introductory paragraphs (e.g., "Earth is not the center of the universe") and by the gushingly glowing description ("clear, eloquent, and thorough") of the opinion rendered by Judge John E. Jones III.

Well, you can put "clear, eloquent, and thorough" perfume on a skunk, and the thing will still stink. I thought the Jones decision stunk even more than the no-whistle travesty near the end of the OSU-Washington football game last week. The only difference is that (a) the Pac-10 referee crew was rebuked and (b) the good-guy Beavers still got the win. We still await the day of redemption for the Dover debacle

It really is time to blow the whistle on Judge Jones III and put his play up for review, but NOVA just swallowed the whistle. In reply, I do not have the time to repeat the volumes of material readily available in a multitude of sources, and I doubt if you would want to read it all. So at least here are a few items to slide under your thinking cap.

(1) You pontificate that the earth is not at the center. Why aren't many wide-distribution media informing folks that "quantized redshifts" support some creationist cosmologies? The quantized redshifts suggest that our home galaxy, the Milky way, is in fact at the center of the universe. This, by the way, is a "galactocentric" concept, not a geocentric concept. But earth still wins the cosmos lottery by winding up in the one-in-a-million galaxy that happens to be at the inferred center. You can read about it at: http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/1570
or
http://darwin-is-dead.blogspot.com/2007/10/creation-cosmology-god-did-it-is-lookin.html

And if you get bored down there on Broadway (or Cesar Chavez Avenue or whatever), why not publish a frontpiece article mentioning that quantized redshifts are supportive of certain creationist cosmologies. Then double your inbox size and watch the hate mail roll in. And keep an updated resume in your coat pocket just in case our friendly Oregonian turns nasty on you.

(2) Was science served by the Dover trial? In particular, were logic and substance front and center in the intelligent design debate? Or did Dover school board opponents, in the end, finally resort to technicalities and jurisprudential diversions to dump God? I vote for the latter. As much as the expression "breathtaking inanity" rankles me, it is fair to apply to school board members who misrepresented ("lied"?) about their motives and prior knowledge. But it seems that substance of science was displaced and that motives and prior knowledge became the substance of the case. Now that was too bad.

(3) So is Intelligent Design (ID) science? To get some traction on this question, let's ask if all the money the US is spending on "search for extraterrestrial intelligence" (SETI) is for "science". My take on it is that the ID folks are the first to really try to synthesize a science framework to discern whether things we observe are sourced in intelligent or in non-intelligent entities or processes. If there is no formal framework to do so, all our SETI money is down the rathole since whatever we observe can not be objectively ("scientifically") identified as inferring intelligent origin. If congress would threaten to eliminate SETI funding because it can produce no verifiable "scientific" result, there will be a whole bunch of salary-threatened folks out at NASA and elsewhere jumping on the ID bandwagon.

Now that would really be fun to watch.

Can you catch even a wisp of the irony that detection of 100 "characters" emanating from some place in outer space would produce three-inch high headlines in world newspapers the following day, while the existence of one human DNA molecule (information equivalent of about one billion characters) is viewed with awe yet denial of intelligent origin? The Wall Street Journal had a piece about three years ago pointing out this obviously flawed thinking. If you get serious about this, I will dig up the reference for you. But I don't want to put too much into something you may not even read.

(4) Why did the NOVA program quote the first amendment only partially? The salient text is:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
The NOVA program presented the trial as all about the non-establishment clause, while the non-prohibition clause was swept under the table. All operational-empirical science is axiomatic, that is, it begins with an assumption of truth which is then evaluated under criteria of observability, repeatability, and falsifiablity. But if you boil down the Dover decision to its essence, it establishes a tragic precedent that engaging in science with a faith-motivated axiom invalidates the process. That would seem to be a clear violation of the non-prohibition right we are all guaranteed. I am a scientist with a PhD in engineering, and I also believe absolutely in Biblical creation (for very good reasons I might add). I have been very pleased over the years of my life to discover again and again that the Bible record is in marvelous accord (NOT discord) with observations of our natural world. If I have a faith motive to investigate the marvels of the natural world, that absolutely should not invalidate any discoveries I make. In fact, that is where most of the founders of modern science began. Examples:

(a.) Isaac Newton said, "We account the Scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy. I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane (non-Biblical) history whatsoever." Maybe if Sir Isaac Newton had been on the Dover school board, he also would have been voted out of office during a trial at which his three fundamental laws of mechanics would have been junked. Oh, and trash that law of gravitation as well. Calculus? Out! Numerical calculus? Gone!! Reflecting telescope? Wait for another genius to come up with it who won't yap about God.

(b.) Louis Pasteur saw no conflict between science and Christianity. In fact, he believed that "science brings men closer to God." In his work as a scientist, he perceived evidence of wisdom and design, not randomness and chaos. Pasteur stated that: "The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator." So would Pasteur's germ theory be thrown out of court by our enlightened Judge Jones III?

(c.) In The handwritten prayer of James Clerk Maxwell, found after his death, he wrote: "Almighty God, Who hast created man in Thine own image, and made him a living soul that he might seek after Thee, and have dominion over thy creatures, teach us to study the works of Thy hands, that we may subdue the earth for our use, and strengthen the reason for Thy service; so to receive thy blessed Word, that we may believe on Him Whom Thou hast sent, to give us the knowledge of salvation and the remission of our sins. All of which we ask in the name of the same Jesus Christ, our Lord." So, accordingly, it seems that Judge Jones III would, with breathtaking obtusity, toss Maxwell's four laws of physics describing electromagnetic fields.

NOVA's spinmeisters would assure that viewers would never know anything about these things. Now that is true "breathtaking inanity".

Sooooo … there you go, Ted. Due to the faith motive of some special folks, the essence of Judge Jones III's "clear, eloquent, and thorough" ruling would have sentenced us to a world devoid of modern public health practices, devoid of antiseptic surgery (a derivative of Pasteur's work by James Lister), devoid of modern communications, and devoid of a vast array of labor-saving devices which give us time today to read the Oregonian. And in fact maybe we would all be floating around in space somewhere since gravitation would be suspended, presumably on appeal.

Speaking of floating around in space, maybe that is where truth ("TRUTH") resides nowadays.

So much more to say, so little time.

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Copied for D-is-Dead blog followers for your enlightenment.

Hoping for more light than heat, respectfully submitted,

D.U.

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