Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Irony, Thy Name Is David Wells...

Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars, a certain David Wells from the ID-supporting Discovery Institute (DI) has an essay in which he says:

I recently found myself in a conversation with two college undergraduates, both of them seniors in the natural sciences (physics and biochemistry, respectively). At one point we were discussing alchemy, which they knew as a pre-modern attempt to transmute lead into gold. I asked them whether they could name any famous alchemists. They could not, though one of them dimly recalled hearing of "someone whose name began with A."

I then predicted that Darwinian evolution would eventually fade into the same obscurity that now shrouds alchemy. Although I knew from previous conversations that my young friends were skeptical of Darwinian theory, they expressed considerable surprise at my prediction, if only because Darwinism is presently held in such high esteem by their professors.

Mr. Wells, you've made a mistake here. Ironically enough, your analogy works, but only if you replace all instances of "evolution" with "creationism," as creationism is clearly the equivalent of alchemy, not evolution.

For one thing, creationism and alchemy are both based on how some people think the world should work, rather than on any evidence about how it does work. In fact, they are more alike than that, because both are based on what some people want to be true rather than what is true. Alchemists wanted it to be true that they could transmute lead into gold, for obvious reasons. Creationists want it to be true that species were all specially created instead of evolving from common ancestors, because it would support their belief in God.

Alchemy was once held in high esteem by the supposedly learned because they wanted it to be true and they had texts in which supposed "authorities" told them it was true. Creationism is held in high esteem by creationists because they want it to be true and because they have the "authority" of a text telling them it's true.

Neither alchemy nor creationism have been borne out by the evidence.

Likening evolution to alchemy is just stupid.

Also, Mr. Wells, I can name at least one famous alchemist off the top of my head. You may have heard of him:

Isaac Newton.

He was wrong about alchemy, of course. But maybe, Mr. Wells, the reason you haven't heard of Mr. Newton is because you not only reject alchemy, as do I, but because you also reject gravity in favor of "intelligent falling," where, when you fall, God is really pushing you down. That makes about as much sense as creationism or intelligent design, or alchemy, for that matter.



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