Friday, June 28, 2013
Flame wars between Darwinists and fans of Intelligent Design seem to be one way God teaches America science. So with Steve Meyer's new book, Darwin's Doubt, now off the presses, it is the season in which the kings go to war. Bombast rises like a smoke screen over the field of battle, lame and wounded arguments limp slowly to the rear, and explosions of high-octane vitriol are beginning to split the evening air. It is hard to tell, under the fog of war, who is advancing, and who retreating.
Especially since I haven't pressed the "Proceed to Checkout" button, yet.
But here are a few of my prejudices, since you can't find those anywhere else on the Internet (heh):
(1) Why are so many people reviewing the book without reading it, on both sides? And why are people on both sides pointing out that the other guys are doing this, without admitting sin on their side of the trench? Do people who do that really think they're going to convince anyone? Is integrity really so cheap a commodity? I do understand the desire the jump into the fray, obviously.
(2) I'm inclined to be skeptical of Meyer's thesis. Five hundred million years ago, we are supposed to believe that after watching life squirm around for billions of years and taking a "hands-off" attitude, suddenly God started testing a few dozen new varieties of life, which took him several million years. But most of them died off after a while, and the phyla we have now are what survived.
Does that make sense to anyone?
(3) I wrote the lead four-star review on Amazon of Meyer's last book, Signature in the Cell. In retrospect, I'd probably give it three stars, now. It rambles too much, and spends too much time playing footsie with the reader, taking it for granted he is a scientific ignoramus, rather than debating the science with Meyer's qualified opponents . When he does get to the science, the book seems pretty good, but more thorough interaction might persuade me more thoroughly. (A few of the negative Amazon reviews seem to make good rebuttal points.)
(4) Despite (2), I don't mind if God messes with the history of life in odd ways. Miracles appear to happen in human history. If God does miracles when we're around, as He seems to, why should we object if he cooked up some critters 400 million years ago?
(5) Still, I don't see that the ID story of life makes sense, right now. That's a theological objection. Nor am I sure that life really can create itself, as materialists suppose. That's a scientific objection. So theology pushes me away from ID, roughly, while science pushes me -- somewhat -- towards it. Yes, I do recognize the irony.
(6) All that leaves me not knowing what so many other people seem to know and be quite sure of --
what happened to get us where we are on this planet. Having followed the debate for decades, including fascinating recent discoveries about so-called "junk DNA," I still don't really claim to know how life arose, or whether or not it provides strong evidence for design. I'm inclined to think our recognition of design is inchoate, as in EO Wilson's spontaneous praise a post or two ago. And beyond that, I'm not sure that anyone really knows what is ultimately going on.
Aside from the fact that clouds of bombast are being chased by the winds of time across the field of battle, where the snarks continue to snarl and rage.