Poor beleaguered Melanie Phillips!

Thanks to an alert reader, I’ve learned that Melanie Phillips has responded to the spate of criticism she got for her recent Spectator article claiming that intelligent design grew out of science, not religion.  She got it in the neck from bloggers and readers for that, most especially for her moronic claim that ID is not a form of creationism.  Now she has posted a long response to her critics, distancing herself somewhat from ID but still claiming that it’s not creationism.  She mentions Michael Behe as one of the scientific IDers, asserting that “He is not a Creationist.” Does she know that he once said that new species were “poofed” into being by the designer? If that ain’t creationism, I don’t know what is.

Ms. Phillips claims she’s the victim of a “secular inquisition.”

I hold no particular brief for ID, but am intrigued by the ideas it raises and want it to be given a fair crack of the whip to see where the argument will lead. What I have also seen, however, is an attempt to shut down that argument by distorting and misrepresenting ID and defaming and intimidating its proponents.

One way of doing so is to conflate ID with Creationism. I wrote below that this is wrong, since ID comes out of science and creationism comes out of Biblical literalism. This provoked Charles Johnson on LGF to accuse me of being either duped or dishonest. Johnson – who has become unhealthily obsessed with ID and Creationism in recent months — says I am wrong to say that ID is based on science rather than on religion, and wrong to say that it is different from Creationism. . .

Dogma is certainly what is on the other side of ID in this fight – a materialist dogma which, posing as the standard-bearer of reason against obscurantism, actually embodies irrationality and a kind of intellectual fascism. It is a secular inquisition – as the reaction to my post makes all too plain.

On the other head, maybe she’s just ignorant and biased, like the Inquisitors themselves.

16 Comments

  1. SeanK
    Posted May 4, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Ugh…I couldn’t read her whole article; too frustrating.

  2. Rebecca
    Posted May 4, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Is she just taking the claims of ID at face-value? Because their strategy is to claim that ID comes from scientific inquiry, therefore it’s okay to teach in schools.

  3. Ian
    Posted May 4, 2009 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    She claims that she is “following the facts”, and yet provides a facts-free column. So either she’s being dishonest when she says she’s “following the facts” (and is simply ignorantly repeating IDist talking points) or she has followed the facts, and has chosen to misrepresent them.

    It’s pretty hilarious though when you compare it to her previous column where she seemed to claim to know more than Judge Jones and Ken Miller.

  4. Posted May 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Dogma is certainly what is on the other side of ID in this fight – a materialist dogma which, posing as the standard-bearer of reason against obscurantism, actually embodies irrationality and a kind of intellectual fascism.
    She says this and claims that she’s not a creationist? This is creationist rhetoric, pure and simple. Just because it’s hidden behind obfuscatory terms, it still is as clear as day.

    Honestly, is there any believer out there who doesn’t play on the ignorance of the audience?

  5. newenglandbob
    Posted May 4, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Melanie Phillips – a prime example of “stupid is as stupid does”

  6. Posted May 5, 2009 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    You’re all doing an excellent job of proving her point. I encourage you to keep it up!

    • newenglandbob
      Posted May 5, 2009 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      Can you defend that ridiculous statement Tom Gilson? Can you show any facts?

  7. Thom
    Posted May 5, 2009 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    The essential question being debated here is whether the physical Universe had a beginning, or has the physical Universe always existed with no beginning or prior causation?

    Modern scientists rely on the principle of causation as a pillar of the scientific method.

    For example, the theory of evolution is based on the premise that everything in existence (life in particular) can be attributed to a prior cause. Biologists trace the origin of a chicken not to hatching from a magical egg that always physically existed forever in time and had no beginning, but to evolution from primordial one-celled amoebic life-forms. (Biologists still haven’t discovered the origin of life.)

    The critical question for scientists (and really for everybody): IF there is a cause for the existence of the Universe (just like everything else in the Universe has a prior cause), what could create existence from non-existence?

    And why?

    I don’t think Melanie Phillips deserves to be pilloried for daring to imagine the Universe may also have a cause, just like every other physical object in existence.

    • newenglandbob
      Posted May 8, 2009 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      Thom @ 7:

      The critical question for scientists (and really for everybody): IF there is a cause for the existence of the Universe (just like everything else in the Universe has a prior cause), what could create existence from non-existence?

      It has been shown by several in the scientific community that there is no need for a cause for the existence of the universe.

      eg. see: “God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist” by Victor Stenger.

      Also:

      …the theory of evolution is based on the premise that everything in existence (life in particular)

      evolution by natural selection only talks about life, not ‘everything’.

  8. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted May 5, 2009 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    since ID comes out of science

    Oh right, I read that somewhere. Yeah, it was in the Wedge Document:

    Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.

    Yeah, that was it.

  9. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted May 5, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Which science did ID come out of? Was it carried out by cdesign proponentsists?

    • newenglandbob
      Posted May 5, 2009 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      ID came out of creationism. They took a book all about creationism and changed each occurrence of the word ‘creation’ with the word ‘design’.

      The ‘science’ of cut, paste, lie and obfuscate.

  10. Posted May 5, 2009 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    “Intellectual fascism”? My goodness, she’s being even nuttier and more ignorant than usual.

  11. Posted May 6, 2009 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Jerry Coyne said,
    –She mentions Michael Behe as one of the scientific IDers, asserting that “He is not a Creationist.” Does she know that he once said that new species were “poofed” into being by the designer?–

    Well, Jerry, you have also accused some theistic evolutionists — e.g., Ken Miller — of being “de facto creationists, whether they admit it or not.”
    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/truckling-to-the-faithful-a-spoonful-of-jesus-helps-darwin-go-down/

    In Kitzmiller v. Dover, Judge Jones ruled that Ken Miller’s theistic evolutionism is constitutional but Michael Behe’s intelligent design is not. Go figure.

  12. Posted May 26, 2009 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Poor beleaguered Melanie Phillips indeed. She’s as beleaguered as a venomous rattlesnake and not half so beguiling. bonkers and bigoted is right. What worries me is that more and more people are listening to junk like that.

  13. LogicMonster
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    It’s irrelevant where it came from. The truth or falsity of an idea isn’t affected by the place, or situation of origin. To believe that it does is to commit the genetic fallacy, which is a basic failure to see the difference between an explanation for why someone believes something and the thing, itself believed.

    Why can’t we just be honest with each other about this? ID clearly has emerged from both scientific observations AND religious motives. You might disagree with its scientific observations, and/or its religious heritage, but to try to pretend that it is not making real scientific claims is to beg the question – isn’t it?

    If you start off saying that science should be a purely naturalistic business, in its final deliverances AND conclusions, then haven’t you presumed that the naturalism that you set out to prove is correct? That is begging the question, isn’t it?

    Isn’t it clear that the theist and atheist both conduct science with a certain set of philosophical presuppositions which limits what they are able to say with the science? So while the ID enthusiast may in part be moved by a religious motive, is the atheist not moved by a similar set (of negative) presuppositions.

    The very ground that you profess to hold to so dearly – logic and rationality – is the very ground that denies the key thrusts of your argument.


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] dig herself deeper with the second.  Jerry Coyne’s latest response can be found at his blog (Poor beleaguered Melanie Phillips!). He finishes with this line “On the other head, maybe she’s just ignorant and biased, like […]

  2. […] For another take on Melanie Phillips, try here or here or here or here.  She is about as scientifically ignorant as they come, and by that I mean […]

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