Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Quote of the Day (29)

Fred Reed is a smart guy. Definitely smarter than me. Closing in on seventy and anticipating the economic, cultural and political disasters looming over the United States, the former journalist bolted to Mexico to write away his retirement, mostly online.

Fred is that special sort of smart that sees the holes in both sides of an argument. The great thing about being alert in that particular way is that it generally means you are humble enough to say “I don’t know” on a regular basis, something you never hear from the majority of scientists, politicians and media pundits.

“I Don’t Know”

From Fred, you never stop hearing it:
“We are not as wise as we think. We are just smarter than anything else we know about. I reiterate Fred’s Principle: The smartest of a large number of hamsters is still a hamster.”
The danger, of course, is that being the rare individual able to admit “I don’t know” in a world full of people who think they DO know (and invariably don’t) ends up defining you. So your exceptional intellectual humility actually becomes a secret source of pride, and you keep saying “I don’t know” even when the evidence is leading you in a very obvious direction. Why? Because, well, that’s your schtick.

The smart hamster settles for wallowing in his hamster-hood.

Brilliantly Relentless Fisking

Still, despite my conviction that if Fred really DOESN’T know, he definitely suspects, Darwin Unhinged: The Bugs in Evolution stands as one of the most brilliantly relentless fiskings to which Charles Darwin and his modern evolutionary cronies have been exposed.

The piece is long, thorough, largely non-technical and wickedly witty. Fred dissects the Argument from Time, stirs the always-nondescript Primordial Soup, unpeels layers of Irreducible Complexity and unmasks Transparent Tautologies — like the fact that “Survival of the Fittest” in reality means nothing more profound than “Survival of the Survivors”:
“Most people think that, ‘fitness’ meaning ‘suitability for a purpose,’ survival of the fittest means that the smarter, stronger, and faster survive and produce more offspring than the stupid, weak, and slow. It does not. The study of such things is called population genetics and, as a professor of it says, ‘In population genetics, fitness means the rate of successful reproduction, nothing else.’ That is, fitness does not promote survival, but is survival. The circularity is well known: Why do they survive? Because they are fit. How do you know that they are fit? Because they survive.”
Oops. But don’t stop now:
“If fitness means the rate of successful reproduction, we encounter the interesting conclusion that a woman with a genetic IQ of sixty and twelve retarded children by forty-five drive-by fathers is more fit than a Harvard math professor who runs Triathlons but has two children.”
Yup, that’s it right there.

No Closet Creationist

It’s a great dance made even better by Reed’s through-and-through agnosticism. No reasonable person could accuse him of being a closet creationist, though he points out this happens regularly whenever he questions scientists.
“Interestingly, atheism has to be part of the evolutionist’s mental equipment since if any sort of god exists, or if there is life after death, or anything beyond the laws of physics, then these things might influence existence in a way outside of physics — and this cannot be allowed.”
Reed’s common-sense objections to evolution as currently packaged lead almost inevitably to the conviction that there IS something outside of physics. Something with a capital ‘S’. It’s a case he makes without rhetorical heat and maybe even involuntarily, which oddly makes it more compelling than some of the ploddingly sincere but less agile creationist arguments I’ve read.

Despite its imperfect editing and unapologetic bloggishness, Darwin Unhinged should be required reading for every Christian kid on his or her way out the door to university.

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