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Gray
47964.  Fri Jan 27, 2006 6:44 am Reply with quote

Quote:
I thought Richard Dawkins was a riot by the way, so utterly dissmissive. It was hilarious, completely brilliant.

He was quite amusing: "...people who just don't know anything."

The problem - and I'm trying to see this from the point of view of the kind of person who doesn't understand science enough for the whole thing to be completely obvious - is that when Dawkins talks like that, just appearing to hand down 'decrees', he's indistinguishable from the ID evangelists, just appearing to have a 'this is true' message of his own. He's sinking to their level, which is exactly what they want him to do.

The trick is to ask them questions - that's the way to reveal their ignorance. Don't just shout indignantly at them or pronounce their stupidity because that's just preaching to the converted (!). Those that understand science don't really need bolstering up, however entertaining it might be.

Dawkins' job as a Communicator of Science, as I see it, should be to utterly convince all those whose minds are not yet made up - those who are receptive to rational argument. To do this successfully, he needs to be calm, charming and gentle - not his natural strongpoints...

-------

It still freaks me out to see Bush evangelising when making national addresses. "God will protect us!" He's doing just the same thing with religion that the Romans did, knowing how well it plays, and knowing how many people will side with him if he says things like that. It's, well, sort of evil, in fact.

 
samivel
47971.  Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:12 am Reply with quote

Gray wrote:
Quote:
I thought Richard Dawkins was a riot by the way, so utterly dissmissive. It was hilarious, completely brilliant.

He was quite amusing: "...people who just don't know anything."

The problem - and I'm trying to see this from the point of view of the kind of person who doesn't understand science enough for the whole thing to be completely obvious - is that when Dawkins talks like that, just appearing to hand down 'decrees', he's indistinguishable from the ID evangelists, just appearing to have a 'this is true' message of his own. He's sinking to their level, which is exactly what they want him to do.


As someone who doesn't understand sufficent science for Dawkins' standpoint to seem obvious to me, I agree that his dismissive attitude looks and sounds like the Intelligent Design proponents. I find it difficult to take information which is 'forced' on me in this way - much better to explain it like this thread (and others) has been doing.
Also, the ID argument that DNA is incredibly complex, therefore must have some intelligence behind it, seems a complete load of Archer to me. If you had a combination padlock of, say, 1,000 numbers, each possible combination would be as complex as any other, but only one combination would unlock it. Is it not true to say that the make-up of DNA could be just as complex as it is, but without resulting in intelligent life?

 
Celebaelin
47973.  Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:41 am Reply with quote

samivel wrote:
Also, the ID argument that DNA is incredibly complex, therefore must have some intelligence behind it, seems a complete load of Archer to me. If you had a combination padlock of, say, 1,000 numbers, each possible combination would be as complex as any other, but only one combination would unlock it. Is it not true to say that the make-up of DNA could be just as complex as it is, but without resulting in intelligent life?

Exactly, in fact I find it difficult to imagine that the mathematician didn't grasp this. He must have been taking the Michael surely? A mathematician that doesn't understand probability? Then there's the fact that the extensively characterised method of DNA replication is the source of the minor variations on which natural selection functions and which the ID lobby are seeking to 'shut off' prior to a certain, fairly recent, point in the history of life.

The way we think it works (I'm very confident of this myself, having seen mutation/evolution in action in bacteria because of their short generation time) is that the process of evolution is a consequence of the imperfection of the molecular biology! Nothing can ever be 100% perfect and DNA PolIII makes an error once in every 10^14 operations; moderately often in fact when you're talking about all the DNA in all the cells in every organism - that's a lot of typos. BUT most of them are completely irrelevant evolutionarily because they are either lethal (call it a day at that then) or have no effect for one of a number of reasons (way more common). Only when a mutation leads to an advantage can it spread to the population as a whole. The entire process occurs because of imperfection and can only occur because of the presence of imperfection! Beautiful!

IMO there are some implications about junk DNA and the perfect organism but I'll leave those with you while I have a quiet chuckle to myself about how elegant it all is.

 
Gray
48024.  Fri Jan 27, 2006 2:07 pm Reply with quote

It was very clear to me that that mathematician was just saying what he was saying to make money out of it - he knew he was simplifying everything to the point of complete nonsense, I'll bet.

He also seemed to be considering only the probability that the organism popped into existence all at once, which is, as he said, vanishingly small, but this is not how evolution works: there are billions of tiny incremental changes in the DNA, over millions of years, each of which increases the organism's ability to reproduce and pass on that DNA. A single codon change at random can change an entire organism - as we've said, tiny changes in DNA can result in huge fitness changes in the organism.

Life evolves in exactly the same way as science - by its 'mistakes'.

 
Caradoc
48283.  Sun Jan 29, 2006 6:14 pm Reply with quote

samivel wrote:
Is it not true to say that the make-up of DNA could be just as complex as it is, but without resulting in intelligent life?


Absolutely, where else do creationists come from.

When in school we had compulsory religious knowledge lessons, the teacher was a fundamentalist Christian, who believed that the bible was the TRUTH & could only be interpreted literally. She believed in bishop Usher’s calculations & her argument against evolution was quite simple, the world is only about 6,000 years old how could evolution have led to the variety of life that the lord has created for us.

The IC bods are careful not to sound quite as stupid as she did but their arguments are just as flimsy, I think that Dawkins is so dismissive as a result of long frustration, you cannot persuade a closed mind.

With regard to my teacher eventually I refused to attend her classes on the grounds that she was persecuting me for my lack of religious belief, that cost me several detentions until I persuaded my mother to write a letter allowing me to skip the class.

 
samivel
48305.  Sun Jan 29, 2006 11:10 pm Reply with quote

Caradoc wrote:
samivel wrote:
Is it not true to say that the make-up of DNA could be just as complex as it is, but without resulting in intelligent life?


Absolutely, where else do creationists come from.



<laughs>

 
Gray
48314.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 5:25 am Reply with quote

Quote:
I find it difficult to take information which is 'forced' on me in this way - much better to explain it like this thread (and others) has been doing.

This is a good point - if something seems 'forced' then it naturally causes suspicion. Dawkins is perfectly capable of making a clear argument without having to resort to 'forcing tricks' in the way he does. While it's perfectly true that the ID people are saying some insane things, he was constantly using extremely provocative and extremist descriptions to hammer his point home. Just like the evangelists do.

This brings about the most unfortunate point in his character as a communicator: he can't help falling into playground tactics of shouting back. He should be able to rise above it.
Quote:
I think that Dawkins is so dismissive as a result of long frustration, you cannot persuade a closed mind.

I'm sure this is true; you can see it at every moment in his delivery - he's tired of it all, and quite understandably. But giving in to frustration and letting it bring you down to their indignant and dismissive level is a waste of his sizeable talent (in written form at least) as an explainer.

He's had so many chances to 'do a Sagan' but has somehow ended up making a lot of unmade-up minds dismiss him and his theory - the baby has gone out with the bathwater. I think he needs to work on his humour a bit, at the very least to quench his own frustration. If Douglas Adams were still around, he'd be his script writer...

 
eggshaped
48423.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 5:01 pm Reply with quote

Gray, I think you should get to writing a book with a reasoned argument against ID.

I'd pay 20 quid for a book which put across the Dawkins mantra without his sixth-form-debating-team style reasonings.

...well, I'd get it on paperback at least.

 
djgordy
48425.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 5:13 pm Reply with quote

The argument against ID is simple. There was a long running (over 1300 posts) about it on one of the BBC boards, into which I stuck my oar every so often and I made the point repeatedly.

ID is self contradictary. The ID argument is that intelligent and complex beings like ourselves could only have arisen through the intervention of an intelligent agent. But since that agent must itself be intelligent and complex then there must have been a prior intelligent designer for that agent, and so on ad infinitum.

If the IDers say that the designer arose through some other means other than being designed then they have to admit the possibility that we did not arise through the intervention of a Designer.


Last edited by djgordy on Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:39 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
eggshaped
48426.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 5:26 pm Reply with quote

If I was an ID-iot (and I'm not), I would claim that god trancends time, so need not be created.

In fact, I'd probably find some biblical rhetoric to back myself up as well.

 
Quaintly Ignorant
48427.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 5:32 pm Reply with quote

That's where ID-iots ( :-) ) differ from creationuts. ID-iots do not specify whom the intelligent creator is but djgordy is right, eventually logic brings us to a point: who created the creator? It is here where their theory lets them down and they are exposed as the creationuts they truly are.

 
eggshaped
48428.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 5:33 pm Reply with quote

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Isaiah 57:15

What say thee to that, heathen?

 
samivel
48438.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:33 pm Reply with quote

I say 'Bollocks"! ;)

 
djgordy
48444.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:37 pm Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:
If I was an ID-iot (and I'm not), I would claim that god trancends time, so need not be created.

In fact, I'd probably find some biblical rhetoric to back myself up as well.


As Quaintly Ignorant says, the IDers can't specify God as the Designer because then the 'theory' stops masquerading as science and becomes explicitly religious. Which means that it cannot be taught as science.

 
dr.bob
48465.  Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:00 am Reply with quote

But it cannot be taught as science anyway because it's not scientific. The fundamental principles of science are measurability and testability, yet ID postulates that life was created by something that is inherently unmeasurable and therefore can't be tested.

But, of course, I'm preaching to the choir here.

I would like to express my sincere thanks for teaching me the term ID-iot, though. Priceless :)

 

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