Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lee Meadows' Blog

Lee Meadows, who's new book The Missing Link I mentioned a few posts back has a blog called "Never Give In" about science education. The site is heavily pedagogical and approaches each new discovery from the perspective of how it can be taught as opposed to what it teaches us about evolution. Although I am sympathetic to the comments of Kent that we need to help students understand how important a role evolution plays in daily life and that, in that sense, they need to "believe it," I am also cognisant of the Kurt Wise's of the world, who will take all of it in and not believe a word of it. We can only bang our heads on the desk so many times. I know what I am going to do with my Christmas money this year. Time to add Lee's book to the list.

Now playing: Resurrection Band - Colours
via FoxyTunes


  1. Since you mention me in this post I feel I must comment.

    First, I went to Lee's blog. I saw the point of his compassion argument. So I did a little soul searching. I decided to broach the subject with a highly educated friend and non-believer (in evolution). He told me:
    a) he does not like Christians that say you can't be a believer if you believe in evolution,
    b) he is okay with evolution if that is the way God did it, but
    c) it is impossible to know which view of origins is true. After all God could have created with an appearance of age.

    Rather that arguing I, just listened and realized that he was agnostic with regard to origins.
    Essentially he was accepting the evolutionary evidence without believing it---Lee's limited goal.

    Upon reflection it seems to me that those who are true deniers, never see the evidence, even if it is staring them in the skull. Those who are agnostic, see the evidence to some extent, but try various coping strategies to deal with it. (The most plausible is perhaps the appearance of age. What can you say about that? The only arguments against it are theological.)

    My conclusions: The reason religious believers do not accept the evidence for evolution is, not because they are stupid, but because of their worldview. Evolutionary agnosticism is the first step to accepting the overwhelming evidence for evolution.

  2. Very good point, Kent. I have several friends who are "agnostic" about evolution. They aren't going to stand up and say it doesn't happen but they are deeply uncomfortable with it. In some senses, my wife is this way.

    I have two problems with the appearance of age argument. First, as you point out, it is unassailable, logically. For that reason, I have seen it referred to as "last Thursday-ism." For all we know the world was created just before I wrote this message. The other problem I have is that purveyors of this argument also usually buy into the YEC model. At this point, the cognitive dissonance reaches out, grabs your ears and shakes really hard. If the universe does have the appearance of age, then why do they claim there is evidence for a 6 000 year-old creation? That would mean that God, while he was aging things, "forgot" a few details. "Oops, missed that. Sorry." Not the sort of God I believe in.

    I understand the worldview perspective to a point. Marcellin Boule, when he described the original La Chapelle Neandertal, wrote up a truly horrid report in which the skeleton was a stoop-backed, rickets-riddled deformed human. This was based on his world view that Humans were the noble species, not related to any of those "lower forms." Of course, he only had the Spy Neandertals from Belgium to work from. As soon as they starting fishing other Neandertals out of the ground in the 1860s-1890s, his position became untenable.

    It is this untenability which creates the problem that I have with people like David Menton, who, as an anatomist, should know better than to stand up and spout idiocy. He knows what an anterior, inferior iliac spine is. He knows that if you find that on an ilium, it means the person belonging to it walked upright. Boule eventually admitted that he had screwed up and let his worldview interfere with his science. If your worldview is causing you, as a scientist, to accept intellectual dishonesty, it needs to be examined. Most YECs like Menton steadfastly refuse to do this. I suspect that, at least in part, this is because if they accept any sort of evolution, their worldview will come crashing down.Glenn Morton's story is instructive in this matter.

  3. Jimpithicus,

    I would make a distinction between non-professionals like your wife or even my non-expert, though PhD bearing friends, and David Menton an his Creation "scientist" buddies who produce the non-nutritive comfort food that the evangelical church is addicted too.

    It is the world-view of the first category that makes otherwise rational people simply say, "Well you just can't know." They are the evolutionary agnostics. They believe, or at least respect, what those they trust and look up to believe. If their pastors and Christian friends decided TE was OK they would go along.

    The second category are the true deniers. they are the "experts" that the other's trust. You say they should know better. For them something more is at stake. Obviously they are theologically and philosophically committed. They may have a ministry or a reputation to protect. Can you ever imagine Ken Ham ever saying "Sorry, I was wrong"? It takes more than the evidence being untenable for such people to change, it takes real courage, humility and a willingness to suffer the loss of the most important things this life can offer, their friends and family. Though we must judge their teaching, I must refrain from judging the person.

    I admit that two categories grossly simplifies reality. You could make it a continuum or two large galaxies in a universe of ideas. It is just to say I agree that the world-view hypothesis does not explain people like Menton.It is certainly true that for people who go into a field where evolutionary thought is critical, it is impossible to be an agnostic.

    Regarding Morton's demon. It is a nice just-so story, but not very scientific! I wonder if Morton intends the reader to actually take the demons literally? There is I would admit, an aspect of spiritual warfare in this scandelous controversy.

  4. "non-nutritive comfort food." I like that. That is where I have the largest problem. I probably should not have put my wife in that category because she is perfectly well aware of the evidence. She is also aware that open recognition of such would put her at odds with most of her friends who have swallowed said "comfort food."

    I understand the theological and philosophical commitments that people like Ken Ham and Henry Morris have made to the flat-earth message and I sympathize that, to admit that the Young earth model is wrong would bring an end to their way of life but I cannot let them off the hook that easily. It is sort of like the old "there are no transitional fossils" canard. Folks like Ham, Gish, Morris, Vardimann and Snelling (just to name a few) are attempting to educate people in supposedly scientific position for which the evidence is demonstrably false. That's where I have the problem. They are attempting to lead people to Jesus by promoting false witness. Do they see it as false witness? Assuredly not. When Ken Ham says "we both have the same evidence, we just interpret it differently," he is, as they say in the psychological world, in denial. That doesn't change things. You can't wish away the geological column or the evidence for evolution. As the New Seekers sang in "Georgy Girl": "Life is a reality. You can't always run away." I am sure that Ken Ham is a very good man and committed Christian. I certainly can't hold him accountable for his world view. But I can hold him accountable for the misinformation he perpetuates.