Claim: “An Atheist Professor of Medicine Exposes Weaknesses in Darwinian Tales” … really?

Mike Keas, a Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute writes … Yes OK, pause there because that’s really all you need to know. A “Discovery Institute” creationist writing in a Christian publication is not something I would normally bother with, but it was the “Atheist Professor” bit that caught my eye.

OK, first lets take a look at what he writes. The claim is that “Raymond Tallis, who is an atheistic Professor of Medicine, and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences” has written a book in which”he voices concern about the overuse of materialistic explanations of all things human” and does this by asserting that “the purposeful, goal-directed traits of human consciousness seem to defy Darwinian explanation” … then presents us with one … count it … one … paragraph from the book to verify this claim.

Then … to verify all this even more, points to a blog posting written by yet another DI staffer on the same book.

OK, first lets step back and ask ourselves, “who is Raymond Tallis?”

Professor Raymond Tallis is a philosopher, poet, novelist and cultural critic and was until recently a physician and clinical scientist. In the Economist’s Intelligent Life Magazine (Autumn 2009) he was listed as one of the top living polymaths in the world. (Impressive)

Is he really an atheist? (some of the comments in the Christian Post article cast doubt on that).

Yep, he is … and remains so, he is indeed a passionate atheist and is also on the list of Distinguished Supporters of the British Humanist Association.

OK, so what about the book itself, what is that really all about? His new book “Aping Mankind” is not in any way a religious book, nor does it support religious belief in any way. He does indeed criticize current thinking regarding consciousness, and so in that context he rejects the orthodox view of the brain. Suddenly we find “Creationists” leaping in, grasping some little gem they agree with, and then touting it as implicit support for their religious beliefs.

Now here is what I really wanted to get to … two simple words can be deployed to describe what is really happening here …

Confirmation Bias.

Yep, pluck out the bits that support the belief and simply ignore the stuff the conflicts … the elephant in the room here is the obvious fact that Prof Tallis remains an atheist, he has not changed his mind in that regard.

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