Friday, September 28, 2007


So the next question is one of the reasons I recorded Dembskis presentation. It is physically impossible for a Creationist to speak for more than one hour without pulling a Leeroy Jenkins**. Dembski did not disappoint. Now, I cant convey this in words, but Dembski was being a dick to this young lady. After getting burned by the first question, he made the decision to act like a brat to the next questioner:

Young lady: "I wanted to ask you about your use of Darwins purported atheism as support for your argument..."

Dembski: "No, I never said that Darwin was an atheist. He was not. Darwin made it possible to be an atheist."

*rabble rabble*

Dembski: "Its no small point. DAWKINS has coopted Darwin to support his atheism, but Darwin himself was not an atheist."

Young lady: "Well I was interested since you could have ulterior motives..."

LEEROY: "I have plenty of ulterior motives. Ive got plenty of religious motives. I am Christian, I am motivated and want this to succeed in part because of my Christianity. Im not ashamed of that. But I mean motivations, if you want motivations, Stephen J. Gould was motivated by his atheistic and communistic world view. I mean Richard Dawkins writes 'The God Delusion' and justifies his atheism in terms of his science. Eh eeeh So eeeh we all have motivations, but science needs to stand on its own merits!"

Person in the audience: "In the future would you let people ask their questions?"

Dembski: "Well Im not sure there is going to be a future." (girl had left the auditorium by this point)

Creationists in the audience laugh, cause bullying students is what makes Dembski great.

So what just happened? This was a weird exchange.
  1. While we will never know what this young ladys question was, she was not wrong about what Dembski implied in his presentation. During his speech, Dembski clearly said that Darwins goal was to support 'materialism'. Darwins religious beliefs (or lack thereof) are frequently used to support Creationism, so this young lady was right to ask for clarification. Zero reason for Dembski to be a dick.
  2. "Darwin made it possible to be an atheist." Dembski was also insistent that "Everyone needs a Creation story." These phrases highlight a very important Creationist theme-- Their inability to say "I dont know", and a willingness to make up answers to questions they cannot answer.
    • I would still be an atheist if Darwin decided to be a hairdresser, and the concept of 'evolution' never occurred to anyone else. I am an atheist because I see no evidence to support anyones personal choice of deity. One might declare CREATION is proof of their deity, but I am not particularly impressed with magics track record as an 'explanation' for mundane things, much less the creation of universes. If I were living in an alternate, Darwin-Hairdresser universe, if I were questioned about CREATION I would shrug my shoulders and say "I dont know. Lets try to figure it out." I dont 'need' evolution. I dont 'need' a Creation story. I can just say "I dont know." Its okay not to know things.
    • I dont suppose any of us need examples of how creationists make up things and insist their imagination correctly describes reality, but here are a couple just in case: One Two
    • This unwillingness to say 'I dont know', this inability to see the limits of ones own knowledge, baffles me. How can you ever learn anything with that world view?
  3. Dembski and Secret Agent Man both firmly stated that everyones religion effects their science. "Its not just Creationists! Gould was a COMMUNIST!"
    • Dembski knows his Creationism could not, and cannot function outside of radical theistic circles, therefore Evilution shouldnt be able to survive outside of atheistic circles.
    • Dembski supports Creationism because of his Christianity, therefore Dawkins supports Evilution because of his atheism.
    • Someone who defends science because they feel the need to defend SCIENCE is a foreign concept in Dembskis world. Dembski cannot 'defend' science for sciences sake. He can only function in a manner that he thinks is consistent with the desires of his current choice of deity.

ID Creationism has absolutely nothing to do with 'defending' science. It is to 'defend' the supposed will of a god, nothing else. You werent supposed to say that in public, Leeroy.

** Leeroy Jenkins: Doing something stupid and hurting all of your friends.


dochocson said...

Just to clarify, given the topic of talk, is it in fact clear that when Dr.Dr. Dembski says "I am motivated and want this to succeed in part because of my Christianity" (emphasis mine), he is referring to Intelligent Design?

I can see the spinners trying to clam that he was talking about adopting puppies or something.

Anonymous said...

... I didn't even know Gould was a communist.

Primarily because it does not matter.

Ian said...

Actually he called ID a "ground clearing operation" that would allow something else to grow after it has done its work...a something he hopes will be Christianity.

dochocson said...

Just a little twist on the inability of creationists to say "I don't know":

When I was a medical student, the worst possible response to an attending's question was "I don't know". A far better answer was "I don't know, but I'll find out". (best answer of course, was the right one).

That's how I see science: the desire to find out

quantok said...

If Dembski had read any of Gould's books he would know that Gould's religion was baseball - specifically the confession practised at Fenway Park.

John said...

Motivation is an interesting phenomenon. Actually i think Gould (and others such as Lewontin and Rose) did let their political motivations dictate their science when it came to the whole sociobiology issue. Usually Gould's writing did not betray his allegiances.

In general motivation can be important in inspiring someone to make a discovery or to form some theoretical hypothesis. However, motivation has nothing to do with the epistemic legitimation of a particular scientific theory. Since such legitimation rests purely on the logical and evidential foundations for that particular theory.

Gerald said...

Even if Darwin decided to become a hairdresser, we still have Wallace who also discovered natural selection. So basically even if Darwin never lived there is enough evidence for evolution that others would have figured it out.

dave souza said...

Great shame about the girl getting that put-down, hope she's all right.

While Darwin did write in his secret notebooks "oh, you materialist" he was writing and working in a different theological context to today. While his friends at Cambridge University and on his return from the Beagle voyage were mostly Church of England clerics, and all were Christians, his father and grandfather were freethinkers and he'd met the materialist freethinker, probably atheist, Robert Edmond Grant at Edinburgh University. It's blatantly obvious that you didn't need Darwin's work to be an atheist, as Hume would testify. discusses how Darwin followed Paley and Malthus in an "empiricist" Christian tradition which expected physical evidence supporting Christianity. When the laws which this tradition sought were found by Darwin to show no need for supernatural intervention in creating new species, this contributed both to his agnosticism and to the liberal theology of Baden Powell and others which supported the idea of evolution and sought to separate religion from science - BEFORE Darwin published his ideas in the Origin of Species.

Torbjörn Larsson said...

People who has been religious often describe some hangup that when solved felt like a turning point. For Dawkins it seems to have been a natural theory explaining the process of life.

But outside that context, if we still didn't know a natural explanation the simpler assumption is still to expect one. (And that expectation increases for every new theory.) So Dawkins is describing his personal experience. Else he is simply wrong.

This is one of the very few points where I expect Dembski to not lie deliberately. As ERV says, someone who defends science because they feel the need to defend it is a foreign concept in Dembskis world. He doesn't know what science is, for him it should be replaced with religion as noted.

I didn't even know Gould was a communist.

When mentioned here, it feels vaguely familiar. Ironically, that we keep remembering that William Dembski, Adnan Oktar, Michael Cremo et al are with few or none exceptions xians, muslims or hinduists is because it matter.

ERV said...

doc-- I learned from watching other kids defend their dissertations not to make up answers if you dont know the answer. Your committee will KILL you for bullshitting, no doubt about it.

Dave-- I really wish she stayed :(

Freelancer said...

I can hear the peanut gallery at DI
agonizing whenever WD speaks:

-Goddamnit Demski!
-Demski! You fucking moron!
-Oh Jeez, Stick to the plan, guys. Stick to the-Oh,God, Oh Fuck.
-Demski, you idiot.

Demski: It not Iz fault.

-Demski, you are just stupid as hell.

Demski: Least I can haz chikun.

Perfect Metaphor ERV, he's a niche celebrity for all the WRONG reasons

Freelancer said...

Now then, if only I was smart enough to spell the prick's name right.


I feel better