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Benjamin Wiker - The Darwin Myth
Posted: 15 October 2009 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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I was extremely dissapointed with this podcast. There was no real critical view of Wiker’s argument. It was just a vehicle to allow him to talk lies and nonsense. It was a completely ad-hominem attack on Darwin. Should ‘point of inquiry’ not confront this clear logical falicy? Darwinism only exists in the mind of critics of evolution (specificaly creationists), there is no such thing in science. Evolution by natural selection is a theory that stands on its own, attacking darwin, his motives and beliefs are completely irrelevant and have no place in the discussion.

I have to evaluate my subscription to this podcast if it does not represent what the centre stands for. There was absolutely no reason to have done this interview.

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Posted: 15 October 2009 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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As a former journalist I can see why DJ conducts the interviews as he does. A journalist’s job is to present information fairly, and in the case of these podcasts DJ’s job as a journalist is not to confront his guests, but to get them to explain their views so his listeners can come to informed conclusions. We can decide for ourselves if the interviewee is making sense or talking woo. One of the key aspects of having an open mind is listening to differing viewpoints and reaching your own conclusions. Shutting out someone with whom you disagree is ideology, not skepticism.

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Posted: 15 October 2009 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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fotobits - 15 October 2009 10:03 AM

As a former journalist I can see why DJ conducts the interviews as he does. A journalist’s job is to present information fairly, and in the case of these podcasts DJ’s job as a journalist is not to confront his guests, but to get them to explain their views so his listeners can come to informed conclusions. We can decide for ourselves if the interviewee is making sense or talking woo. One of the key aspects of having an open mind is listening to differing viewpoints and reaching your own conclusions. Shutting out someone with whom you disagree is ideology, not skepticism.

I’d agree with fotobits here. I think DJ handled this guest exactly the right way. Just lay back and let the guy talk. Then occasionally, just lean in and give him a whack with the clue-stick, and then lay back and let the guy talk some more. Guys like this guest inevitably wind up burying themselves under the weight of their own rhetoric.

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Posted: 17 October 2009 03:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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tinyfrog - 11 October 2009 02:55 PM

Interesting podcast.  It’s nice that Point of Inquiry has interviews with the other side.  ......

I almost get the feeling that Intelligent Design advocates think that disparaging and minimizing Darwin has the same effect on Evolution as disparaging and minimizing Jesus has on diminishing Christianity.  That’s a completely wrong understanding of the situations though.  . ......

I agree 100%

1. D.J. did a great job interviewing.  It is really great to hear these other perspectives.  I would like to understand how many people share Wiker’s perspective so that we can tailor our explanations.  Since Wiker is from the Discovery Institute, I assume Intelligent Design is being referred to indirectly.

2. I also felt that this was what I would consider an ad hominem attack on evolution & science. 

That somehow disparaging Darwin undercuts the arguments against Intelligent Design etc.  I agree with tinyfrog.  One can explain that current evolutionary understanding stands independent of Darwin, with independent verification and extensions,  but one cannot say that current Christian understanding stands independent of the AD 325 Nicene Creed—there is no way to verify Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary you just have to believe it (etc etc).

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Posted: 18 October 2009 09:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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First off, thank you D.J. for always being a fair-minded interviewer who allows your interviewees to present their argument. You are really good about this. 

Second, there is a great deal of hagiographical material about Darwin. Anyone happen to see NOVA’s recent “Darwin’s Darkest Hour”? I felt like I was watching an EWTN (Catholic channel) production of the life of Saint Francis!

This is what Professor Wiker is saying—let’s not treat Mr. Darwin as an infallible pope, as a saint, as a source of salvation. He was none of these. Neither is his science (nor anyone else’s) inerrant, inspired, and infallible.

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Posted: 18 October 2009 03:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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rodneycwilson - 18 October 2009 09:45 AM

First off, thank you D.J. for always being a fair-minded interviewer who allows your interviewees to present their argument. You are really good about this. 

Second, there is a great deal of hagiographical material about Darwin. Anyone happen to see NOVA’s recent “Darwin’s Darkest Hour”? I felt like I was watching an EWTN (Catholic channel) production of the life of Saint Francis!

This is what Professor Wiker is saying—let’s not treat Mr. Darwin as an infallible pope, as a saint, as a source of salvation. He was none of these. Neither is his science (nor anyone else’s) inerrant, inspired, and infallible.

No one argues for treating Darwin like a ‘saint’. Many of his theories have been expanded on based on science not available to him in his time. Newton and Einstein’s theories have been expanded on over time, and some parts have been found to be incorrect—-and corrected. This doesn’t make the overall premise incorrect, gravity, relativity and evolution are still facts. That is the great thing about science…when mistakes are discovered, they are corrected.

I agree with your assessment of the film, it was a treacly made for TV movie for the masses. It was a ‘safe’ movie. The producers were looking for ratings, not to teach or explain.

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Posted: 18 October 2009 04:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Two questions for you, asanta (or others).

I could not quite pin down the professor’s creed on the origin of species. He is not a creationist or literalist on Genesis 1 and 2. That much seemed clear, right? He seems to embrace something like ID—what he called a “more robust view of nature” that does not “rely on the miraculous” yet still on some kind of theistic source. He also stated that science is pointing toward an ultimate “theistic solution.” I found this hard to follow, in part because my mind is not sharp for things of science. Is he of the ID school of origins?

We know there are dangers to religion, particularly “hard religion” and strident application of certain scriptural injunctions. Is the professor correct that there is also a dangerous side to Darwin? Do both sides need to “come to the confessional,” as the professor put it, regarding the potential and the historical dark side of religion and scripture *and* of the no-god naturalistic worldview that Darwin espoused? I’m thinking specifically regarding his views on eugenics, racial superiority, and—after his demise—what some call Social Darwinism? (This would get back to the ability of a free thinker to accept and reject what he wishes of scripture/religion and Darwin/evolution, based strictly on his/her understanding of reality and not on the understanding of any other authority or prevailing consensus.)

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Posted: 19 October 2009 04:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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rodneycwilson - 18 October 2009 04:15 PM

Two questions for you, asanta (or others).

I could not quite pin down the professor’s creed on the origin of species. He is not a creationist or literalist on Genesis 1 and 2. That much seemed clear, right? He seems to embrace something like ID—what he called a “more robust view of nature” that does not “rely on the miraculous” yet still on some kind of theistic source. He also stated that science is pointing toward an ultimate “theistic solution.” I found this hard to follow, in part because my mind is not sharp for things of science. Is he of the ID school of origins?

We know there are dangers to religion, particularly “hard religion” and strident application of certain scriptural injunctions. Is the professor correct that there is also a dangerous side to Darwin? Do both sides need to “come to the confessional,” as the professor put it, regarding the potential and the historical dark side of religion and scripture *and* of the no-god naturalistic worldview that Darwin espoused? I’m thinking specifically regarding his views on eugenics, racial superiority, and—after his demise—what some call Social Darwinism? (This would get back to the ability of a free thinker to accept and reject what he wishes of scripture/religion and Darwin/evolution, based strictly on his/her understanding of reality and not on the understanding of any other authority or prevailing consensus.)

He’s affiliated with Discovery Institute. An organization that makes its money by lying its butt off on an hourly basis.

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Posted: 19 October 2009 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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steveg144 - 15 October 2009 11:54 AM
fotobits - 15 October 2009 10:03 AM

As a former journalist I can see why DJ conducts the interviews as he does. A journalist’s job is to present information fairly, and in the case of these podcasts DJ’s job as a journalist is not to confront his guests, but to get them to explain their views so his listeners can come to informed conclusions. We can decide for ourselves if the interviewee is making sense or talking woo. One of the key aspects of having an open mind is listening to differing viewpoints and reaching your own conclusions. Shutting out someone with whom you disagree is ideology, not skepticism.

I’d agree with fotobits here. I think DJ handled this guest exactly the right way. Just lay back and let the guy talk. Then occasionally, just lean in and give him a whack with the clue-stick, and then lay back and let the guy talk some more. Guys like this guest inevitably wind up burying themselves under the weight of their own rhetoric.

Yes! Exactly like in the Behe interview.

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Posted: 19 October 2009 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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F451 - 19 October 2009 04:10 PM

He’s affiliated with Discovery Institute. An organization that makes its money by lying its butt off on an hourly basis

ahh, that explains a LOT!! LOL

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Posted: 21 October 2009 04:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Hi, DJ-

You did a model oppositional interview here, and congratulations! Extremely even tempered while investigating the subject’s views in great detail.

I realized a good question to ask would have been about his model of how he thought the non-Darwinian evolutionary process works. It would have been worth drilling down in some detail to the point where he would naturally have had to say.. I have no idea how it works, or evidence that anything like this goes on (twiddling by god, etc.), just that I can not bring myself to conceive of the extrapolation that Darwinian evolution demands (to what ID terms “macro”-evolution), and thus I promote some kind of vague, unknown, supernatural “out” without knowing anything about it.

-Burk

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Posted: 23 October 2009 05:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Benjamin Wiker reminds me of Francis Collins. Both know that what’s in the bible isn’t quite true, and they readily admit that while being imprecise about which is the good and which is the bad information, and they conclude that, anyway, there is a God (a Christian one I guess), and he’s the one who adds the magic ingredient that helps all the natural processes defined by science to actually go. So some large percentage of the bible isn’t true, but still that god is real, and his role is actually… Well, He does all the mind-boggling stuff.

I think it’s also important to realize that when Darwin was formulating his theory on evolution that he excluded – I believe consciously – the possible contribution of various vibes going on that may well act as drivers of the whole process. For example, good vibes may enhance an organism’s ability to adapt to shit.

I agree with those who think the interviewer’s job is to get the interviewee to open up and be understood, not to debate them per se. Sure, that requires some pointed questioning but “beating” the person is not the point (of inquiry).

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Posted: 28 October 2009 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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steveg144 - 15 October 2009 11:54 AM

I’d agree with fotobits here. I think DJ handled this guest exactly the right way. Just lay back and let the guy talk. Then occasionally, just lean in and give him a whack with the clue-stick, and then lay back and let the guy talk some more. Guys like this guest inevitably wind up burying themselves under the weight of their own rhetoric.

I agree D.J. did a great job with this interview.  I think though to give the guest an opportunity to trip himself up I would liked to have heard D.J. provoke an exchange like the following:

D.J. - “Dr. Wiker, is dog breeding evidence for evolution by natural selection?”
Wiker - “No, the selection pressures involved are not natural but rather man imposed.  It’s artificial and not natural selection.”
D.J. - “So any selection pressures put on plants or animals are only artificial selection?”
Wiker “That’s correct.”
D.J. “Sir, what are humans?  Are humans animals?”
Wiker “Well sure….”
D.J. “So any selection pressures humans put on their own animal species, like the eugenics movement in America or Hitler and his Nazi eugenics, that would be artificial selection, right?”
Wiker “Yes.”
D.J. “So is it disingenuous to argue that there is a correlation between Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and Eugenics or the Nazis?  Shouldn’t the line be drawn from the Nazis back to some Stone Age person who decided to domesticate a wolf or decided to replant the seeds from his stronger crops?”

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Posted: 07 November 2009 07:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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SO WHAT?

It is interesting that Mr. Wiker considers this ad hominem attack to actually mean something.

To someone who comes at issues from a religious position, it is not unusual to hear ad hominem arguments.  After all, the argument from authority can be devastated by an ad hominem argument. 

But science really doesn’t care what Darwin thought or what Darwin’s motivations were.  It is pragmatic, and only cares whether Darwin’s ideas work.  And every aspect of modern life, from genetics to epidemiology, from animal husbandry to psychology, from ecology to geology, depends on the concept of evolution by natural selection.  If you have had your swine flu vaccination, then you believe in Darwinism too.

It works.  It doesn’t require magic.  End of game.

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Posted: 08 November 2009 12:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Captain Spaulding - 07 November 2009 07:51 PM

SO WHAT?

It is interesting that Mr. Wiker considers this ad hominem attack to actually mean something.

To someone who comes at issues from a religious position, it is not unusual to hear ad hominem arguments.  After all, the argument from authority can be devastated by an ad hominem argument. 

But science really doesn’t care what Darwin thought or what Darwin’s motivations were.  It is pragmatic, and only cares whether Darwin’s ideas work.  And every aspect of modern life, from genetics to epidemiology, from animal husbandry to psychology, from ecology to geology, depends on the concept of evolution by natural selection.  If you have had your swine flu vaccination, then you believe in Darwinism too.

It works.  It doesn’t require magic.  End of game.

Let me introduce you to Adonai888 over in the religion forum cheese

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