8/27/09

Richard Dawkins’ New Book – The Evolution Delusion

If Richard Dawkins is good at anything—besides vociferously displaying a lack of knowledge on a vast range of subjects—it is weaving quaint Victorian Era tall tales which he refers to as being an intellectually satisfied atheist.

He has stated that his new book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution is “about the positive evidence that evolution is a fact. It is not intended as an antireligious book” and he, again, sets the bar very, very high in claiming that “No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.” Of course, “it” refers to “evolution” which is a term that he will hopefully define in the book as within the article from which I am quoting he does not do so.[1] Except for these hints, as he states that those who “deny evolution”,

believe the world’s age is measured in thousands of years rather than thousands of millions of years, and who believe humans walked with dinosaurs.

And also,

that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips.

Note, however, that from the get go he has established a line of demarcation: if a scientist disputes or doubts, even dares to doubt, whatever the Dawkinsian definition of “evolution” will be, they are labeled irreputable—on this basis alone; thus saith Dawkins.

Keep in mind that with regards to “assertions without adequate evidence” evolutionary biologist and geneticist Prof. Richard Lewontin referenced Carl Sagan’s list of the “best contemporary science-popularizers” which includes Richard Dawkins. These authors have, as Lewontin puts it, “put unsubstantiated assertions or counterfactual claims at the very center of the stories they have retailed in the market.” Lewontin specifically mentions “Dawkins’s vulgarizations of Darwinism” (his entire fascinating, eye opening and muse inducing article is found here).

You may recall that he made a likewise grandiose claim in the preface to The God Delusion

If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.

Delusion indeed.

He then downgraded his proselytizing goal to stating that it would turn people sitting on the fence post and already leaning toward atheism into admitted, out of the closet, atheists. Lastly, he simply stated that The God Delusion was meant to be a very funny book. I suppose that is what happens when you are writing a book from well-within-the-atheist-group-think-box. Apparently, once his book was dissected and had its very, very many fallacies exposed it went from the power to convert to the power of elbowing your buddy in the ribs while chortling (for other astonishing claims about their own books consider the claims of the New Atheists).

Despite his lack of definition, Richard Dawkins appears to be lightly hinting at something in his article. It may be difficult to discern his point but here is are his hints,

Evolution is a fact…evolution is a fact…all except the woefully uninformed are forced to accept the fact of evolution…Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact…It is the plain truth…It didn’t have to be true, but it is…Evolution is a fact…Evolution is a fact…some theories are beyond sensible doubt, and we call them facts…Evolution is an inescapable fact…the fact of evolution

Considering that “evolution” is a fact one wonders what is to be made of those who do not accept it. Well, we already saw that any scientist who even dares to doubt it will be labeled irreputable. Yet, being the story teller that he is, Richard Dawkins begins the article with a slimily in which he likens evolution doubters with a “baying pack of ignoramuses” who display “ignorant prejudice” in claiming “that the Romans never existed.” He also envisages a scenario in which a teacher of modern history is “boycotted, heckled or otherwise disrupted by well-organised, well-financed and politically muscular groups of Holocaust-deniers” who make “belligerent demands.” And do not forget those “logic-choppers” and “brainwashed children.”




Having set the stage of ridicule he then draws a faulty correlation between Roman deniers, Holocaust deniers and evolution doubters—and another entry into the Reductio ad Hitlerum Awards files is born (and this coming from Richard Dawkins who denies that Communism is atheistic).

Now, if scientists are irreputable for doubting “evolution” (recall that this would amount to doubting that they are related to bananas and turnips) and those who “deny” evolution are tantamount to denying the existence of Rome and the occurrence of the Holocaust (for as he states it, “The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth”) what are we to make of those, especially those religious types, who accept it?
Well, these chosen ones, who have seen the true light of evolution, largely dodge Dawkins’ reproach and are sainted as,
Bishops and theologians who have attended to the evidence for evolution have given up the struggle against it…

thoughtful and rational churchmen and women accept the evidence for evolution…

the enlightened bishops and theologians…

Moreover, Dawkins himself collaborated with the Bishop of Oxford (now, Lord Harries) on an article which stated,
Nowadays there is nothing to debate. Evolution is a fact and, from a Christian perspective, one of the greatest of God’s works.

Dawkins is quite to note that “The last sentence was written by Richard Harries, but we agreed about all the rest of our article.”

Indeed, the light of evolution has shone and only the thoughtful, rational and enlightened will escape the wrath of Dawkins which is to come, and is now here. Indeed as Richard Dawkins writes in his Gospel of Evolution,
Evolution is within us, around us, between us, and its workings are embedded in the rocks of aeons past.




Or perhaps:



But, not so fast all yea thoughtful, rational and enlightened churchmen, bishops and theologians—you may yet lose your salvation if you fail to, get this, preach from your pulpits, your churches, your cathedrals in the manner that Pope Dawkins doeth bequeath,
All too many preachers, while agreeing that evolution is true and Adam and Eve never existed, will then blithely go into the pulpit and make some moral or theological point about Adam and Eve in their sermons without once mentioning that, of course, Adam and Eve never actually existed!

If challenged, they will protest that they intended a purely “symbolic” meaning, perhaps something to do with “original sin”, or the virtues of innocence. They may add witheringly that, obviously, nobody would be so foolish as to take their words literally…

Think about it, Bishop. Be careful, Vicar…Shouldn’t you take greater care, when speaking in public…Lest ye fall into condemnation…

No, I am not making this up.

Besides likening those who doubt that we are related to bananas and turnips with Holocaust deniers; Richard Dawkins has concocted two additional terms of derision: “historydeniers” and “40percenters”:
More than 40 per cent of Americans deny that humans evolved from other animals [and bananas and turnips]…I shall be using the name “historydeniers” for those people who deny evolution…I shall from time to time refer to the history-deniers as the “40percenters”.

A recent poll concluded,
asked if life developed “through an unguided process of random mutations and natural selection,” a standard definition of Darwinism, only 33 percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement. But 52 percent agreed that “the development of life was guided by intelligent design.”

Consider Richard Dawkins’ comments on theory and fact:
Evolution is a theory in the same sense as the heliocentric theory…

As for the claim that evolution has never been “proved”, proof is a notion that scientists have been intimidated into mistrusting. Influential philosophers tell us we can’t prove anything in science.

Mathematicians can prove things — according to one strict view, they are the only people who can…

Even the undisputed theory that the Moon is smaller than the Sun cannot, to the satisfaction of a certain kind of philosopher, be proved in the way that, for example, the Pythagorean Theorem can be proved. But massive accretions of evidence support it so strongly that to deny it the status of “fact” seems ridiculous to all but pedants. The same is true of evolution.
Evolution is a fact in the same sense as it is a fact that Paris is in the northern hemisphere…

in most cases, we don’t live long enough to watch evolution happening before our eyes

This is a typical Dawkinsian tactic. Via misdirection and fallacious correlations he attempts to have his audience arrive at a predetermined destination which is that whatever “evolution” is, it is a fact; just like heliocentrism, just like that the Moon is smaller than the Sun, just like Paris being in the northern hemisphere.

This is so even though “we can’t prove anything in science” while he declares that “evolution” is a fact. Why, because “Mathematicians” not biologists “can prove things — according to one strict view, they are the only people who can” and mathematicians are constantly demonstrating that what is generally thought of as “evolution” simply does not occur—particularly related to the amount of time that it would require to happenstantially concoct even the mythical “simple” cell or even a strand of proteins.

“Evolution” is even “a fact in the same sense as it is a fact that Paris is in the northern hemisphere” but this is purely arbitrary since the country named “Paris” could be renamed “Fresno” tonight and then it would no longer be a fact that “Paris is in the northern hemisphere.” Or, is a rose by any other name still a rose? Is “evolution” still “evolution” regardless of what is being observed, described and interpreted? Is what is being observed, described and interpreted still “evolution” regardless of what we call it?
As Vox Day puts it,
…few can manage to keep up with adaptive devo punk-echthroi neo-quasi-Darwinism, or whatever the evolutionary biologists are calling this week’s spin on St. Darwin’s dangerous idea.[2]

Moreover, while generally we may not “live long enough to watch evolution happening before our eyes” we have watched hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of generations of fruit flies and have purposefully subjected them to mutagens. We have observed fruit flies end up with extra and useless wings, shriveled up wings and even legs on their faces but their “evolution” has, vastly, been deteriorative—devolution would be more descriptive.





Cornelius Hunter notes:
Massive genetic differences were also found between different fruit fly species. The fruit fly is one of the most intensely researched organisms and in recent years a systematic study of the genomes of a dozen different species was undertaken. Evolutionists were surprised to find novel features in the genomes of each of these different fruit fly species. Thousands of genes showed up missing in many of the species, and some genes showed up in only a single species.[3] As one science writer put it, “an astonishing 12 per cent of recently evolved genes in fruit flies appear to have evolved from scratch.”[4] These so-called novel genes would have had to have evolved over a few million years—a time period previously considered to allow only for minor genetic changes[5].[6]


In conclusion, we shall have to see what The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution has to say. The only thing that we know for certain thus far is that “It is not intended as an antireligious book” and that “no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.”

[1] Richard Dawkins, “Creationists, Now They’re Coming For Your Children,” Times Online, August 24, 2009
[2] Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist (downloadable here), p. 225
[3] M. T. Levine, C. D. Jones, A. D. Kern, H. A. Lindfors, D. J. Begun, “Novel genes derived from noncoding DNA in Drosophila melanogaster are frequently X-linked and exhibit testis-biased expression,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (2006): 9935-9939
[4] M. Le Page, “Recipes for life: How genes evolve,” New Scientist, 24 November 2008. (found here)
[5] D. J. Begun, H. A. Lindfors, A. D. Kern, C. D. Jones, “Evidence for de novo evolution of testis-expressed genes in the Drosophila yakuba/Drosophila erecta clade,” Genetics 176 (2007): 1131-1137
And
S. Chen, H. Cheng, D. A. Barbash, H. Yang, “Evolution of hydra, a recently evolved testis-expressed gene with nine alternative first exons in Drosophila melanogaster,” PLoS Genetics 3 (2007)
[6] Cornelius Hunter, “Darwin’s Predictions,” © 2009, Version 2.03, Last updated: June 11, 2009

14 comments:

  1. And dont dare question it !!

    ReplyDelete
  2. "If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down."


    Delusion indeed.


    Mariano, you really don't have foggiest clue about what 'delusion' means.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jdhuey,
    I am certain that your comment was supposed to mean something (that is, beyond being yet another argument to ridicule).

    Thanks for stopping by.

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mariano.

    I look forward to this book coming out. The God Delusion was one of the funniest things I have ever read and i can only expect this next one to show Dawkins own area of expertise with the same amount of logic he has shown in other writings.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wasn't considering buying the book, but now Mariano has payed some attention to it, I certainly will.

    After all, if Mariano hates it, it must be good.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "...mathematicians are constantly demonstrating that what is generally thought of as “evolution” simply does not occur—particularly related to the amount of time that it would require to happenstantially concoct even the mythical “simple” cell or even a strand of proteins"

    Oh c'mon. Any of them published any papers
    about it?

    "Moreover, while generally we may not “live long enough to watch evolution happening before our eyes” we have watched hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of generations of fruit flies and have purposefully subjected them to mutagens. We have observed fruit flies end up with extra and useless wings, shriveled up wings and even legs on their faces but their “evolution” has, vastly, been deteriorative—devolution would be more descriptive."

    How about lab fruit flies developing ability to survive in lethally low oxygen levels? Still devolution?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am certain that your comment was supposed to mean something (that is, beyond being yet another argument to ridicule).


    My point was simple and, I thought, obvious. You misused the word ‘delusion’. The Dawkins quote you cite does not illustrate a delusional statement. I had hoped that you would just look the word up in the dictionary and I would not have to spell it out. ‘Delusion’ refers to holding a false belief despite ample evidence to the contrary. The Dawkins quote was referring to his intent; his intent was his intent – no beliefs stated, false or otherwise. Anyone can have an intent or desire to do something while knowing full well that there is no hope of being 100% successful. It is not delusional for a doctor to intend to cure all of his patients; it is not delusional for the coach of a sports team to have the intent for his team to be undefeated and it is not delusional for an author to have the intent to convince all of his readers. Nothing Dawkins wrote was the least bit delusional, just ambitious and hopeful.


    Thanks for stopping by.

    I do what I can.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I bought RDs new book today. I have only read the first chapter so far which in laymans terms would go something like this "Evolution is true, Evolution is true ........ .................."
    The layman will also have to consult a dictionary every paragraph to get the same message.
    I hope it gets better

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well you can't fault him for making his point and expressing his intention (not his delusion). Good for you Richard.

    I'm fascinated as to why so many theists spend so much time obsessing over the few well-known names who dare to stand up and defend science when the atheists have been surrounded for years by people telling them they'll burn in hell/ aren't human/cause global warming/whatever else they can be blamed for, and have learned to live with the nasty (and more importantly unfactual) comments. I can only conclude the scientists are hitting a few raw nerves. If your only response is boast that 52% of people are daft enough to believe in intelligent design and not 40% then that raw nerve must be very painful indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  10. " So many theists "

    Au contrair ,I think youll find that this is not the case most wouldnt even know or even care who these people are.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I cant believe people are still, still saying that "evolution is random chance" or "the odds of this happening randomly are astronomical" or "a storm through a junkyard cant assemble a 747" when it has been told to them, repeatedly that evolution is not random.

    How can a process that uses a mechanism called Natural SELECTION be random? It's selection! Selection is the oposite of random! It's right in the mother loving name people! Not only do we tell you this over and over, its in the damn name!

    Please, for the love of GOD and all that is holy, stop saying that evolution and natural SELECTION are random!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mariano,

    You are clearly very bright. You write very well. And you clearly find Richard Dawkins highly irritating.

    However, you might stop to consider this: Why do you think Dawkins is such a avid dismanteler of religious beliefs? He's an evolutionary biologist by trade. That's where he started, not as a militant atheist. His early books, like the selfish gene, for example, barely even mention religion. Why should they? It has absolutely nothing to do with science. Yet some of his later books are focused entirely on religion. Why?

    The answer, I believe, is simple. When intelligent, religious people read his compelling, early works, they realised his message, although scientific (and built on over 100 years of scientific papers, from dozens of hugely respected authors), disagreed with claims made by their religion(s).

    The problem with such a challenge, these people realised, is that if a *part* of their religious dogma is proved false by science, then this casts doubt on the whole lot, potentially threatening their entire religious beliefs. Many people have much invested in religion of choice, and gain much from it: Friendships, their feeling of belonging to a group, the comforting feeling of life after death, the reassuring feeling of everything being part of a 'master plan'; all of this they stood to lose from the claims of an evolutionary biologist with a penchant for writing for the lay reader. And so they attacked him.

    They through the book at him. They made every effort to show that all of the claims he made were false. 'Half an eye is no use, hence it cannot possibly evolve'. And what did Dawkins do? What any respectable academic does in the face of criticism: Studiously found evidence to refute all of the claims, and then wrote another book in which to publish it. And so he did. But he was still attacked by people with a vested interest in ensuring their religion was not challenged. They just ignored his refutations, and moved on to other arguments.

    Dawkins refuted those, too. In fact, he didn't really refute them himself - much of the evidence required was already present in the huge scientific literature on evolution - he just included it in his books for the lay reader. but eventually, he became embroiled in a dirty fight with the religious lobby. He started as a mere evolutionary biologist, but after continuous bating, seems to have decided that he will not stop until religion is completely unmasked as superstition. Modern Dawkins is a product of religious attacks.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Mariano,

    You are clearly very bright. You write very well. And you clearly find Richard Dawkins highly irritating.

    However, you might stop to consider this: Why do you think Dawkins is such a avid dismanteler of religious beliefs? He's an evolutionary biologist by trade. That's where he started, not as a militant atheist. His early books, like the selfish gene, for example, barely even mention religion. Why should they? It has absolutely nothing to do with science. Yet some of his later books are focused entirely on religion. Why?

    The answer, I believe, is simple. When intelligent, religious people read his compelling, early works, they realised his message, although scientific (and built on over 100 years of scientific papers, from dozens of hugely respected authors), disagreed with claims made by their religion(s).

    The problem with such a challenge, these people realised, is that if a *part* of their religious dogma is proved false by science, then this casts doubt on the whole lot, potentially threatening their entire religious beliefs. Many people have much invested in religion of choice, and gain much from it: Friendships, their feeling of belonging to a group, the comforting feeling of life after death, the reassuring feeling of everything being part of a 'master plan'; all of this they stood to lose from the claims of an evolutionary biologist with a penchant for writing for the lay reader. And so they attacked him.

    They through the book at him. They made every effort to show that all of the claims he made were false. 'Half an eye is no use, hence it cannot possibly evolve'. And what did Dawkins do? What any respectable academic does in the face of criticism: Studiously found evidence to refute all of the claims, and then wrote another book in which to publish it. And so he did. But he was still attacked by people with a vested interest in ensuring their religion was not challenged. They just ignored his refutations, and moved on to other arguments.

    Dawkins refuted those, too. In fact, he didn't really refute them himself - much of the evidence required was already present in the huge scientific literature on evolution - he just included it in his books for the lay reader. but eventually, he became embroiled in a dirty fight with the religious lobby. He started as a mere evolutionary biologist, but after continuous bating, seems to have decided that he will not stop until religion is completely unmasked as superstition. Modern Dawkins is a product of religious attacks.

    ReplyDelete
  14. What is this blog... The Marianio Delusion?

    ReplyDelete