And from the world of scientific illiteracy and boneheadedness, we have this exciting new development in the realm of Intelligent Design:
We're getting signs that the Discovery Institute is going to be shifting their strategy a little bit.
Um ... no, it's not just "a little bit." Read on:
[The Discovery Institute's] Stephen Meyer has an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News today. This is the Stephen Meyer who claims to be one of the "architects of Intelligent Design", Stephen Meyer the Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute, the Stephen Meyer who, when asked whether he accepted the principle of common descent, said:
I won't answer that question as a yes or no. I accept the idea of limited common descent. I am skeptical about universal common descent. I do not take it as a principle; it is a theory. And I think the evidence supporting the theory of universal common descent is weak.
Today, though, Meyer declares that ID has no complaint with common ancestry.
The theory [of ID] does not challenge the idea of evolution defined as change over time, or even common ancestry, but it does dispute Darwin's idea that the cause of biological change is wholly blind and undirected.
In plain English, what the Discovery Institute's Stephen Meyer is saying is that he no longer has any gripe with the fact that biological evolution and common ancestry has occurred -- he's just going to nitpick over the details and mechanism. Let me explain why this is a huge development.
First, some of you will recognize the corner the folks at the DI have painted themselves into -- it's little more than an updated version of the "God of the Gaps" in which the devout saw the workings of God in damned near everything until science started explaining it quite nicely, thank you very much. ("Yes, Reverend, I understand that things fall down. It's called 'gravity'.") And so the devout had to content themselves with finding an increasingly-reduced role for God to play.
One would think that the devout might have learned something from that but, no, along comes the Discovery Institute, making grandiose claims for "irreducible complexity" and so on, and now having to back off on those same claims, leaving themselves with smaller and smaller gaps into which they can try to cram a requirement for ID. And I think we all know how that story ends. But that's not the best part.
At this point, any discussion regarding ID should open with an explanation that Intelligent Design fully accepts an ancient Earth and the fact of biological evolution via common descent. If you plan on writing a letter to the editor or having an extended discussion or even getting into a formal debate, you absolutely have to set the stage by making this clear.
It's a fact that most supporters of ID (being scientific morons) have this bizarre idea that ID is in direct conflict with biological evolution and, perhaps, even supports the idea of strict, young-earth creationism. The instant you explain Meyer's new position, you'll literally see the air go out of those people.
And if you get involved in a debate, not only do you have to make all of this clear right up front, but you have to watch for the inevitable back-pedaling on the part of ID supporters as they try to misrepresent this new definition of ID. And you have to call them on it instantly. I guarantee that nothing will deflate an audience of the religiously ignorant faster than being forced to listen to a supporter of ID admit that biological evolution is not just a theory, but that it has in fact happened, and the disagreement is purely pedantic.
If you get a chance to try this, by all means, let me know how it turns out.