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I have read Berlinski's polemic online.

Good. You should also read William Dembski's articles on his homepage.

I find Richard Dawkins a very lucid advocate of Darwin, and find it odd to see him described as a "most prominent representative of ultra-Darwinists".

Dawkins is an extremist and an intellectual bigot. He openly claims that anyone who doubts the truth of Darwin is either dishonest or evil. That might be lucid, but it certainly isn't fair.

Fred Hoyle was most famous for getting it wrong and then generously admitting it.

What does "it" refer to? Do you mean his original steady-state theory? Yes. That theory has also been amended by various colleagues and disciples. Big-Bang theory has also been amended and patched to make it consistent with observation. It's beginning to resemble the old geocentric model, with its awkward cycles-upon-epicycles. It was pretty good at predicting things (like eclipses), but it was difficult to accept the idea that nature would be that inelegant. The same applies to the so-called "standard model" of the big-bang. Read "Seeing Red" by Halton Arp.

I don't think his field was other than astrophysics and his later panspermia theories don't impinge on evolutionary theory.

Math is math. Anyone trained in mathematics -- whether an astrophysicist or an actuarial accountant at an insurance company -- can see for himself the absurdity of the neo-Darwinian claims regarding random mutation, natural selection, "convergent evolution," etc. To say, as you do, "Hoyle was merely an astrophysicist, so he naturally was blind to the subtleties that a real biologist such as Dawkins was sensitive to," is nonsense. It's simply a way of saying "no one but a True Believer in Darwinism is qualified to make a statement or calculation regarding Darwinism." This is an excellent way of stifling debate (which is the reason Dawkins and others use it). Panspermia directly contradicts Darwinism. The former theory, which really DOES correspond to observed reality, starts with the notion that life only comes from life. Therefore, if we have an earth that's too inhospitable for life in its early history, then life did not originate here. It came from OUT THERE, and developed by means of lateral transfer of genetic material. The latter idea has gained quite a bit of acceptance, even amongst orthodox academics, who are beginning to understand the evolutionary role that viruses have played. But as for the idea that life originated on this planet out of some non-living substrate -- chemicals struck by lightning, etc. -- that's nonsense, and most of it has been proved to be nonsense.

While searching Berlinski I found critiques describing his theories of intelligent design as crank science.

I have found critiques of Dawkins, Gould, and the folks at talkorigins.com as crank science. Additionally, Berlinski has never, to my knowledge, claimed to be a proponent of intelligent design. He is simply a skeptic. He disbelieves the Darwinian "just so" stories about evolution, but he has also written articles in Commentary on problems with intelligent design. When you're a skeptic in a courtroom, you needn't promote a scenario as to who actually DID commit the crime; you merely have to show who DID NOT commit it. Berlinksi does a very good job of showing that random-mutation/natural-selection could not have led to increased biological information.

Darwinism may not satisfy everyone, but it does not depart form observed reality.

What "observed reality" are you talking about? Have you personally observed the genome of a tree-shrew gaining additional information until it becomes the genome of a human? No? Neither has anyone else. In fact, honest evolutionists are the first to admit that NO evolutionary process, or evolutionary chemical pathway, has EVER been observed; neither in nature, nor in the laboratory. Evolutionists such as Dawkins don't believe in Darwinism because it has been observed; they believe in it because ( a ) it is founded on a philosophy of materialism; and ( b ) it apparently dispenses with the need for a non-material Creator (and all the questions and problems such an Entity would pose for us). Much has been made of so-called genetic algorithms (GAs) that use computer programs to simulate a putative evolutionary process. Berlinski and Dembski (both professional mathematicians) debunk this, showing that in all cases, the programmer has slipped in either a pre-conceived "target" toward which the program is instructed to move, or some other information that -- in the real world --would have to be fed into the Darwinian model FROM THE OUTSIDE. So WHO or WHAT is creating the information and feeding it into the biocosm? The big Programmer in the Sky.

Despite impressive titles in peer-reviewed journals that promise to show detailed biochemical evolutionary pathways to various structures (e.g., the flagellum, the eye, the vision cascade, the blood-clotting cascade, the immune system, etc.), the authors of such articles always, without exception, resort to the usual "hand waving" arguments just at the moment when they are required to show proof. They usually write things like "While we observe no evolutionary progression today, it clearly must have been otherwise in the primordial past with the proto-organism that we THINK MUST HAVE EXISTED." Any evidence that such a proto-organism actually did exist? No. For these authors, such proto-organism must have existed IN ORDER to make their present-day conclusions correct. The situation is known as a "procrustean bed."
I've always felt that way about the writings of Dawkins, Sagan, and Gould. (I can forgive Darwin because he admitted that he had an agenda: to create a naturalistic paradigm with no Creator. Besides, the technical concept of "information" hadn't yet appeared.)

I agree with Davison, Berg, Schindewolff, et al. The information involved in evolution was already there from the very start. The Darwinian forces of random-mutation (i.e., DNA single-nucleotide substitutions, or DNA copying errors) and natural selection (which can mean anything you want it to mean, and HAS, in fact, meant different things to different evolutionists -- differential reproduction/sexual selection/survival of the fittest/genetic drift/the colony principle/etc. etc. etc.) always act to subtract information from the biocosm, not add to it.
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Well, you have a point of view. However the bigot here is not Richard Dawkins. I put my faith in peer review. Lysenko had a point of view too.
Hey guys, lighten up, how does this help non-native speakers of English? And could you possibly have drifted off-topic?
Truth is beauty; beauty is truth. Mathemaicians have claimed the truth of a theorem is supported by the simple beauty of its proof. The incredible beauty of the DNA spiral must support the seductive simpicity of the theory of the gene
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I excuse myself. I made several spelling errors. Can I spell check before posting?
always act to subtract information from the biocosm, not add to it.

Yes, that's the point; mutations arise randomly and are then tested to destruction by natural selection. Lots of possibilties, only the fit survive.
Thank-you for an insight into the murky world of neo-creationists and their attempts to "grab 'em young" by trying to get the pseudo-science of intelligent design into school text books in the US
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Please carry on! We may not all understand exactly what you are talking about but this is an excellent example of reasoned and civilised debating.
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