When faced with wacky ideas or beliefs that are quite frankly silly, it may at times become very emotionally frustrating and that it turn might tempt us to simply yell at the proponents. However, there is a better way to respond and at the same time to get the key point across – deploy satire and parody the daft claims. One great example of this is the Centre for Unintelligent Design.
The news here is that Professor Paul Braterman (From Stars To Stalagmites), has just written a critique/review of the site. He writes …
My friend Keith Gilmour has just updated his delightful Centre For Unintelligent Design website. All the old favourites are there, together with numerous new examples, and revealing correspondence with those strange people who insist on believing that our ramshackle bodies, and indeed our ramshackle Universe, are the products of intelligent design.
Yes indeed, rather sadly, there are people out there who will quite happily dismiss all that sciency stuff (because thinking is way too hard), and will also willingly dismiss all the evidence (geology, natural history, biology, etc…). Why is it like this? Not because there is evidence that casts doubt upon the scientific evidence-based consensus, but rather because once you embrace an idea that has no evidence as “truth” it will soon lead to another and then another, and before you know where you are, you end up reaching some rather insane conclusions, and will stick with them because everybody around you believes the same and you have become too emotionally invested to be reached with reason. It might indeed tell us nothing at all about the things that are actually true, but it does reveal a great deal about human psychology.
There are specific things that are well-established facts, for example we know that water is a chemical where each molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. If somebody should pop up and claim something different, you could perhaps explain why water is like that. If they then dismiss the evidence and have no real reason for doing so, what can you possibly do then? Any further debate is pointless and the only recourse left is satire and parody. Lets be clear, evolution is a “scientific theory“, there is no guessing going on, for something to be deemed a scientific theory it must be well-substantiated, and evolution truly is backed by mountains of evidence.
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. – Daniel Patrick Moynihan
If you surf on over the Centre For Unintelligent Design website what will you find? Well, Professor Braterman’s review tells you all about it …
The examples are arranged higgledy-piggledy, but fall readily into a few distinct categories. There are cosmological examples; why all that wasted space and time? Then there are examples such as disease caused by pathogens. These merely show that if the Universe is intelligently designed, it is not so designed for our benefit; if I wanted to make a plausible case for intelligent design, I would point to the complex life cycle of the malaria parasite, or the liver fluke, but for some strange reason Intelligent Design advocates never seem to do this. Finally, and most importantly, there are examples of design defects that can only be explained by reference to our or some other species’ evolutionary history. And that, of course, is the whole point. Intelligent Design advocates, almost without exception, seek to deny that we have any evolutionary history at all, preferring to imagine that we were supernaturally handcrafted. If so, the site leads us to ask, why are our eyes back to front, why do our sinuses fail to drain, and while there are no doubt good reasons why there are two sets of nerves to the larynx, why does one of them have to loop round the aorta and back up again, a distance (if you happen to be a giraffe) of around 20 feet? And 142 other examples of this kind, ranging in severity from the end-Permian extinctions to acne and halitosis? And, all joking apart, why do we give birth through the pelvic girdle, with all that implies in the way of maternal pain, death, and brain damage to the innocent newborn? (One contributor asserts that there are people who justify this by quoting Genesis 3:16, but do such moral monsters as this really exist?)
Last but not least, there are updates on correspondence with those who persist in believing in Intelligent Design. One highlight here is where the social constructivist Steve Fuller, while describing himself as an atheist, refers us to the literature on theodicy in order to repudiate the claims of unintelligent design. (If you don’t know – and why should you? – theodicy is a branch of theological apologetics, devoted to proving that nothing is ever really God’s fault so He has nothing to apologise for). Another is the head-on attack by Alastair Noble, ofGlasgow’s own Centre for Intelligent Design (yes, there is such a thing), on Keith’s analogy between Holocaust denial and creationism. Since Dr. Noble frequently and forcefully insists that Intelligent Design has nothing to do with creationism, we must wonder why these comments attracted his attention. We have Glasgow’s own Jonathan McLatchie telling us that “that ID is not committed to interventionalism”. Clearly we have underestimated the preternatural capabilities of the intelligent design process, which can make things happen without a natural cause and now, we learn, without even intervening. And of course, anybody who is anybody has been attacked by Casey Luskin, and Keith is no exception.
Then again, instead of reading a review, why not surf on over and check it all out for yourself. The point is well made, if there is indeed a designer out there, then you will find 220 examples that illustrate that this all-powerful all-knowing supernatural entity who supposedly did it all by magic and left no evidence behind that he did it, did a rather crap job and is not a very good designer.