Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's like Mardi Gras...only without the beads and boobs.

Apparently, "Atheism Is Masquerading As Science." Or, so says Dinesh D'Souza.

"The problem with evolution is not that it is unscientific but that it is
routinely taught in textbooks and in the classroom in an atheist way. "

Evolution isn't scientific? WTF? Says who? But, I love the not-so-subtle attempt at poisoning the well. His arguments against teaching evolution in the classroom are so weak that he has to set about creating bias towards the concept as a whole. And, how many times do we, as atheists, have to point out to this idiot that evolution is not atheism. Believing in evolution is not a requirement for being an atheist! The two subjects are completely separate issues and any intelligent human being would understand that fact.

Textbooks frequently go beyond the scientific evidence to make metaphysical
claims about how evolution renders the idea of a Creator superfluous. Here are
some examples that are drawn from my recent bestseller What’s So Great About

I realize that it's unlikely, but I really hope Mr. D'Souza reads this blog: because, I would love for him to put his money where his mouth is. I have never seen a public school, science textbook wherein the theory of evolution is posited as a claim against a creator. I have a fifth, sixth, and eighth grade science text in front of me as I type this and all explanations of evolution are carefully worded to avoid any claims of the "metaphysical". They simply lay out; what we know about evolution as a people, how Darwin came up with the theory, how the theory has been re-tested and confirmed time and time again, and how it's one of the best explanations for how species seem to be suited to their environments. In fact, as someone who believes evolution is THE explanation, and not "one of", I think the textbook is very politically correct. How anyone could see that as a diatribe against a deity is beyond me and suggests serious projection issues...not to mention shitty reading comprehension skills.

Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson writes in his widely-assigned book On Human
Nature: "If humankind evolved by Darwinian natural selection, genetic chance and
environmental necessity, not God, made the species."

Is this accurate? I was under the impression that evolution didn't address the origins of life. So, has D'Souza misquoted the Harvard biologist or do we need to ask Professor Wilson to clarify his position? Is there any way we can find out if this quotation is accurate? Given D'Souza's track record, I wouldn't be surprised if he was quote mining.

Biologist Stephen Jay Gould writes in his essay in the book Darwin's Legacy: "No
intervening spirit watches lovingly over the affairs of nature...whatever we
think of God, his existence is not manifest in the products of nature."

What's the problem here? Gould is expressing his opinion. And, what is the context for this quote of Gould's? Did D'Souza not notice that Gould doesn't deny that a God may exist? Again, his inability to employ his reading comprehensions skills is mind-boggling. Gould says, "WHATEVER we think of God..."! That seems to suggest that Gould realizes some will believe in God even if they accept evolution as a valid scientific theory. Furthermore, D'Souza needs to put up or shut up. Quit whining and show us the evidence of God in nature. Show us something that can't be explained by scientific theory and has iron clad evidence of a creator God.

Douglas Futuyma asserts in his textbook Evolutionary Biology: "By coupling
undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural
selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life
processes superfluous."

So? Again, Futuyma doesn't out-and-out say "there's no god". He only says that he sees no need for a spiritual explanation for life processes. How is this an atheist position? At best, it's a statement against creationism, but not against theism.

Biologist William Provine writes, "Modern science directly implies that there
are no inherent moral or ethical laws...We must conclude that when we die, we
die, and that is the end of us." Evolution, Provine has also said, is the
"greatest engine of atheism."

Again...I ask, "And?" Science DOESN'T provide moral and ethical laws. If it did, it wouldn't be science. It would be ethics! What the fark' is so difficult to understand about this?

In his essay on "Darwin's Revolution" in the book Creative Evolution, Francisco
Ayala credits Darwin with proving that life is "the result of a natural
process...without any need to resort to a Creator."

Good Christ on Toast... I hate to sound like a broken record, but is D'Souza being intentionally obtuse? Once again, atheism is the position that God does not exist. Atheism says NOT ONE DAMN THING about evolution, abiogensis, science, or ethics. I happen to agree with Ayala, but not because I'm an atheist. I agree with Ayala, and the others noted above, because I find their positions and thoughts to be valid and interesting. I believe evolution is the best explanation for the adaptations and speciation we see on planet earth. To continuously misrepresent atheism (by claiming that atheism is directly tied to evolution) is disingenuous as hell and uninformed.

Some Christians seek to counter this atheism by trying to expose the flaws in
the Darwinian account of evolution. This explains the appeal of "creation
science" and the "intelligent design" (ID) movement. These critiques, however,
have not made any headway in the scientific community and they have also failed
whenever they have been tried in the courts.

Heck. I'd like to see a Christian point out "a" flaw, let alone many "flaws". Generally, when I've talked to Christians about what they perceive as "flaws" in evolution, I find that they've a poor understanding of evolution or have been misled by asshats like D'Souza. The reason ID and Creation Science haven't made much headway is because they're not scientifically sound! It has nothing to do with court hearings or "eeebil atheists". It has everything to do with rational people opposing the instruction pseudo science in public schools. Personally, asking me to allow ID to be taught in the classroom is a bit like asking me to let Sylvia Brown teach a course in forensic science. Or, like tossing Big Foot into the unit on animals of the Pacific Northwest. It's a waste of time and a disservice to the kids who deserve an education based on facts.

Most Christians don't care whether the eye evolved by natural selection or
whether Darwin's theories can account for macroevolution or only microevolution.

For a group of people who don't care, they sure spend a lot of time and effort creating websites full of dishonest conjecture to refute what science tells us on these subjects.

What they care about is that evolution is being used to deny God as the
creator. For those who are concerned about this atheism masquerading as
science, there is a better way.

*head meets desk*
Instead of trying to get unscientific ID theories included in the classroom, a
better strategy would be to get the unscientific atheist propaganda out.

Again,...show me the "atheist propoganda" in the classroom. I suspect that it would be difficult since I've never seen it. I have, however, seen money wasted on signs that boldly claim "In God We Trust". Talk about your propoganda...

The rest of D'Souza's article rambles on about the Constitution and his misinterpretation of the separation clause and his continuous, false belief that atheism is "just another religion". He also suggests that teaching evolution is unconstitutional because it supports "the atheist religion". Bullshit. It's one thing to make statements and write articles from emotional positions without fact checking once. It's, possibly, even understandable to not comprehend what evolution is and isn't until you've sat down with an evolutionary scientist to discuss the matter. And, it's possible to misunderstand atheism. But, when you've discussed these issues with prominent scientists and atheists time-and-time again...and they try to explain to you how you're making very simple and childish mistakes, and you continue to stubbornly stick to a mantra that you know is crap...then you're lying. When you continue to misrepresent a scientific theory and a philosophy, despite multiple corrections and evidence, then you're a close-minded bigot.


Tantalus Prime said...

Yes, once again D'Souza has shown his inability to grasp even the basic concepts of logic and reason.

On the bright side, in an earlier post on his blog he said that ID doesn't hold a candle to evolution as a scientific theory. So at least he has a few brain cells working.

shaun said...

Dinesh = asshat. While he may utterly fail at Logic 101, at least he got a good plug for his book in. Someone should point out that if he's going to give examples of TEXTBOOKS that do this, he should use more than just TWO out of his 8 or so examples.

Josh said...

Ah, D'Souza. I had forgotten about him. He really doesn't understand logic, and it's a shame that he has been in the positions of power he has been in.

ChaSim said...

D'Souza is an intellectually bankrupted crook. To me he is the literary equivalent of a factory owner who poisons a region's water supply to maximize his profits.

P.S. "Believing in evolution"... Forgive me but regarding Evolution as a valid scientific theory isn't a question of beliefs.

P.P.S. You have a great blog. Keep up the good work.

Carrie said...

You know, it's interesting... I became an atheist at approximately age 12, and it wasn't because of what I was learning in my science classes. It was because of what I was reading at the time -- specifically, some combination of the Bible and Greek mythology. Once I started seeing the parallels, I began looking at the Bible a little more critically, and that shortly led to atheism. Science? That came much later.

badger3k said...

Granted, DD is an idiot, but as long as he continues to put forth the "ID=religion" meme, then we can laugh while he keeps on spewing his bile. I wonder how hard the DI is trying to shush him, or if they even try anymore.

Jim Royal said...

As Carl Sagan pointed out, science does not invalidate the general idea of God, but it does shut down certain specific ideas about the nature of God. For those who are attached to those (childish and parochial) ideas, then science is definitely a legitimate threat.

What we see from people like D'Souza is the anguish of someone who is refusing to grow up. If reality is undermining his preconceptions about the world, he will push as hard as he can to redefine reality.

Short of that, he'll hold his breath until he turns blue.

Calladus said...

You know, I used to really dislike D'Souza. But recently I've taken quite a liking to him. If it were not for him, our local Atheist / Skeptic membership would not be expanding as quickly.

It's like a natural law, action and reaction, similar to Newton's third law. For every rise of asshattery, there is an equal and opposite rise in rational indignation. The only problem is focusing that reaction into a purpose instead of allowing it to fade back into noise.

It's like Berlzebub has said before - Atheists are like cats. You don't herd them, you focus their attention with a laser pointer. And D'Souza's words place a fascinating laser light on his own forehead.

So go ahead Dinesh! Say those outragious things! Blame Atheists for the evils of the world. Show a profound disrespect and misunderstanding of the methods of science! The indignation and anger that you foster translates into organized response, and we'll all be hear to bat and chew at you, until you come to resemble something the cat dragged in.

AlisonM said...

There's no hope for Mr. D'Souza, really. Every time he writes something like this, he's bombarded with facts. Comments in response on his blog will run 200-1 against him. Authors he quote mined will write to him and explain what they meant in language a 5th grader could understand. None of this has any impact, because the next time he writes, it's like he's picking up where he left off, never having heard or read anything that contradicted what he last wrote. He lives in his own little bubble.

Calladus has it right (and now I need to find that cat comment from Berlezebub so I can quote it verbatim - priceless!), he's actually doing us a great service. Not only are rational people rallying together in response to him, but anyone going to his site will be able to see the response, read the logical counters to his statements, maybe even learn a little about science and/or atheism from the comments. Sure, there will be plenty of "dittoheads" who will read and understand just as well as D'Souza does, but if even a few people take a look and think - "hey, what's going on here?!" - that's a few more people on the side of rational thought.

smellincoffee said...

I don't see how the E.O. Wilson comment addresses the ultimate origin of life; it seems to address only the origin of humankind from whatever our predecessors were. He says "made the species", after all...not "made life".

Psychodiva said...

well- I'm glad this is happening in the USA and not here- well not much anyhow- we tend to laugh at bufoons like this dickhead - please keep him over here- and warn our border security that we are gong to be invaded by idiots if he ever decides to come and spout off over here