[The following commentary is provided by a friend of this blog who wishes to remain anonymous. He has stated flatly that were his views on religion made public, it would harm his business with the locals. The workshop he critiques took place on October 14-15, 2011.]
Dr. John West tackles “The Challenge of Scientific Materialism.”
Dr. John is bummed. He reels off surveys that show 65% of scientists identified as either Atheist or Agnostic. A whopping 87% of evolutionary scientists deny God. This must be due to the scientific materialism. What else could possibly explain it?. It does not occur to him and the fine folks at the Discovery Institute that the people who have studied and understand the concepts of evolution find you don’t need a God to fill the gaps. Hence they don’t believe in a God, personal or otherwise. He sums up the problem as he sees it, “Natural selection, a design substitute, scientific materialism in general, and Darwinism in particular, has hijacked science and nearly every area of our culture has suffered as a result.” Let that sink in: “…nearly every area of our culture has suffered.” We will leave the comments sections open for you gentle readers to respond.
As he continued, West reminded me of a bank robber complaining that his hostages don’t respect him. Yes, I know that he will trumpet that some backwater Atheist called him a criminal, but somebody has to do it.
Dr. Francis Collins gets his lumps. “I have no doubt that Dr. Collins is a sincere Christian [author note: you know what’s coming, don’t you?] …BUT.” West then bludgeons Collins with a No True Scotsman Fallacy. Throws in a Dawkins quote: “Even Dawkins looking around the world concedes it looks designed.”
He scrambles a bit, looking for bad/evil science guys on the Atheist side and settles on James Lee, the guy who took hostages at the Discovery Channel, who was a big evolution fan, according to the manifesto found in his apartment. While he admits Lee is crazy, West submits Lee’s views are the same as any evolutionary scientist and other academics. Is he really picking this fight? Does he really want to see whose crazy train is longer: Atheists’ or Christians’?
Then to the parade of martyrs.
The room is hushed, except for a few gentle sobs, as West reels off a list of scientists who believe in stupid things and have paid a academic price for that stupidly. “There is a war on free speech. People are blacklisted, intimated, bullied and they are even trying to shut down OUR PRIVATE EVENTS.” The air around me (only me) is rich with irony as I recall that not four days earlier a private Dawkins events was shut down by a theist. When he complains that people post bad things on blogs there is an audible gasp in the room. Okay, I made the last part up. He did say people post bad things on blogs, the gasp was really a snort that I made, faithfully recorded by my iPad. Thanks, Steve.
During the Question Time (they referred to it as Q & A but I never really heard or could understand the A part), West so artfully exhibited such a wonderful example of cognitive dissonance that I would suggest it have its own Wikipiedia page. West totally rejects the notion that he and the DI ever made any God of the gaps arguments or arguments from authority, or arguments from ignorance, in fact nobody from the Intelligent Design community would ever do such a thing. They know better, they would be laughed out the door. Eighty-seven econds later on the subject of cellular biology he uncorked, “If you look at the intricate machinery in the cell, if you just look at it, it screams design.” JUST LOOK AT IT, IT SCREAMS DESIGN. (Emphasis mine.)
At that point I started for the exit, hoping to find a good single malt and to prepare for Saturday’s madness.