Follow-up from my post on the advance of Creationism in British universities.
The Times Higher Education Supplement arrives in our departmental library on an uneven schedule, so I was able to read the letters column responding to the article today. Andrew McIntosh, one of the professors quoted in the original article, and in my subsequent post, contributed to the letters page these gems of scholarly wisdom:
“One accepts that most academics believe that evolution has got us to where we are after 4 billion years, but a recent ‘Horizon’ poll showed that less than 50 per cent of Britons accept the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life…”
This would constitute the ‘Apples and Oranges’ argument: Comparison of two completely different groups that most likely would not agree, namely, academics and poll respondents, presumably the general public. The main problem is lack of context: where, by whom, and when was the poll conducted? How was the question asked? What is the definition of the word ‘best’ in this context?
“To suggest that design is not a valid scientific alternative is absurd, since any engineer knows how to recognise design and improve on what has been done.”
Ok, the ‘Argument from Authority’, which invokes a professional group as the example of proper comprehension. The assertion is valid as far as it goes, but what he fails to mention is that in this case, the original designer is an unseen, divine, omnipotent supernatural entity. The concept completely violates Occam’s Razor, and therefore is not science.
Now, another view:
“..The first and second laws of thermodynamics find explicit expression in the scriptures. The first law, on mass/energy conservation with respect to quantity, is found in Nehemiah ix, 6, which reveals with respect to the heavens and the earth ‘and all things that are therein’ that ‘thou (God) preservest them all’. The second law, addressing entropy and the degradation of energy and matter by all real processes with respect to quality, is found in Isaiah li, 6, which states that ‘the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner’.” – Alan O’Reilly, Teesside University
This is surely enough to make Nostradamus go, “Dude, what the f**k are you talking about?” This is certainly the most creative semantic interpretative reaching I’ve ever seen, akin to reading the word ‘dog’, but assuming the writer actually meant ‘cat’.
I sincerely hope that this is a big inside joke among British academics, because if not, centuries of revered tradition of British scholarship is in serious jeopardy.