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cambrian explosion

Casey Luskin cries censorship

Darwin's Dilemma Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute is all up in arms about censorship because, he claims, the Smithsonian-affiliated California Science Center cancelled its screening of the “documentary” Darwin’s Dilemma when it found out that the film was promoting intelligent design. While I agree that censorship is generally not good, Luskin seems to (again) misunderstand that a science center doesn’t want to promote unscientific ideas and that intelligent design is an unscientific idea. That’s been firmly established time and time and time and time again, but Luskin and his compatriots at the Discovery Institute can’t seem to wrap their heads around it.

Says Luskin…

As soon as word of the screening went public the Darwinian thought police started complaining about a government-supported science center renting its facilities to a group showing a film that challenges Darwinian evolution.

Why the outrage? Isn’t there academic freedom to express scientific viewpoints that dissent from the evolutionary “consensus”?

Yes, Luskin. There is academic freedom to express scientific viewpoints that dissent from the evolutionary consensus. The key word is “scientific,” however. Intelligent design is not scientific, no matter how badly you want it to be.

Luskin (and the film) attempt to use the Cambrian explosion as evidence for intelligent design, claiming that it poses a problem for evolutionary theory. I don’t want to ruin the ending, but… it doesn’t. Luskin, in true form, sets up a false dichotomy by saying that there are “two ways that modern evolutionists approach the Cambrian explosion” and lists them as follows.

A. Some freely acknowledge that the Cambrian fossil evidence essentially shows the opposite of what was expected under neo-Darwinian evolution.

B. Others deal with the Cambrian explosion by sweeping its problems under the rug and trying to change the subject.

Strangely enough, neither option is correct… or accurate… or honest. The Cambrian explosion is not a dilemma and the reason it’s not is that it hasn’t been swept under the rug, but has been openly (and repeatedly) addressed and shown to fit easily and neatly within the bounds of evolutionary theory. Evidently word hasn’t filtered down to Luskin yet.

The other concept that hasn’t reached Luskin yet is that even if science hasn’t discovered the answer for something yet, it doesn’t mean that simply asserting an “intelligent designer” is a valid answer. It’s certainly not even remotely scientific.

Luskin goes on to complain about “Darwinian elites” (envy much?), censorship, harassment, and Carl Sagan. His claims are nonsensical, including the one about a 2004 “pro-ID peer reviewed scientific article by Stephen Meyer (seriously?) and one about Richard Sternberg experiencing “retaliation” for being pro-ID (seriously?).

What it boils down to is the fact that Luskin just can’t accept the fact that intelligent design is not science… hence it shouldn’t be presented as science at science-based institutions. It’s not censorship any more than refusing to promote astrology as an alternative to astronomy is censorship.

Luskin’s closing paragraphs are where he glaringly makes my point that he just doesn’t get it.

Darwin’s dilemma isn’t just about a lack of transitional fossils in ancient rocks. It’s about how the guards of evolutionary orthodoxy will treat contrary scientific viewpoints.

Will they silence minority views, or will they grant dissenting scientists freedom of speech and scientific inquiry to make their case?

Evolutionary scientists welcome contrary scientific viewpoints. They actually debate the fine points of evolution constantly and review new scientific ideas. Dissention is welcomed, but the key word (again… and still) is “scientific.” That’s where Luskin and his Discovery Institute peers get left in the dust. They’re not scientific. Intelligent design is not science. As much as they want to believe it, saying it over and over again does not make it true and the more they do it, the more they make a mockery of themselves.

…which is something, it seems, they do on a regular basis.

4.6 Billion Years in 60 Seconds

Claire L. Evans of Seed Magazine produced a short video which… well… let her explain it in her own words.

The Evolution of Life in 60 Seconds is an experiment in scale: By condensing 4.6 billion years of history into a minute, the video is a self-contained timepiece. Like a specialized clock, it gives one a sense of perspective. Everything — from the formation of the Earth, to the Cambrian Explosion, to the evolution of mice and squirrels — is proportionate to everything else, displaying humankind as a blip, almost indiscernible in the layered course of history.

Very cool. Check it out.

Thanks to Pharyngula for the link!