Friday, January 27, 2006


Reviews of Horizon's Anti-ID documentry

Exhiled from Groggs, 'Review of BBC Horizon' @

Telic Thoughts, Joy, ‘Darwin “replaced God”?’ @


Evolution is a minority belief in Britian & 17% accept ID!

An astonishing new MORI poll, comissioned by the BBC to coincide with their recent shallow Horizon science-documentary episode examining ID, reveals that when over 2,000 survey participants were asked what best described their view of the origin and development of life:That means that 39% of Britains are decidely unconvinced by 'evolution', that 13% are agnostic (they 'did not know' what they believed), and that a belief in evolution is (just) a minority position amongst British adults.

Andrew Cohen, editor of Horizon, comments:

'I think that this poll represents our first introduction to the British public's views on this issue. Most people would have expected the public to go for evolution theory, but it seems there are lots of people who appear to believe in an alternative theory for life's origins.'

As for the British public's views on science education: 'when given a choice of three descriptions for the development of life on Earth, people were asked which one or ones they would like to see taught in science lessons in British schools:

These results make an interesting contrast with the recent Haris poll of American adults' beliefs about creation, evolution and intelligent design, where 64% chose 'creationism', 10% 'intelligent design' and 22% 'evolution'. Astonishingly, when ID as a movement has its roots in America, 7% more Britons than American's subscribe to the theory. Indeed, speaking very roughly, the figures for belief in both ID and evolution in Britian are both double that of America. Clearly, 'creationism' has a much greater following in the USA than in Britain. Perhaps this bodes well for the correct framing of the discussion about ID in Britain as a matter of 'science vs. science' rather than the tired 'science vs. religion' track taken by much of the media.

Once again, the BBC manage to inacurrately define ID as: 'the concept that certain features of living things are so complex that their existence is better explained by an "intelligent process" than natural selection.' Let me repeat, complexity per se is not the issue. The issue of specified and/or irreducible complexity.

(cf. 'Britons Unconvinced on Evolution' @


Selective Presentation of Harris Poll about Evolution, Creationism & ID

The selectively Skeptical Inquirer (Volume 29, Issue 6, Nov/Dec 2005, pp. 56-60) presents data from a recent Harris Poll exploring the beliefs of American adults about evolution, creationism and Intelligent Design

The lamented headline figures are that 64% of American adults believe that 'human beings were created directly by God', while 22% believe that 'human beings evolved from earlier species' and 10% believe that 'human beings are so complex that they required a powerful force or intelligent being to help create them.' These three positions are respectively abled 'creationism', 'evolution' and 'intelligent design'. It is good to see creationism being distinguished from ID in this way, something Professor Lawrence S. Lerner does only grudgingly in his commentry upon the poll (refering to 'Intelligent Design Creationism' as one of several 'forms of creationism'). However, one could subscribe to ID without thinking that 'human beings are so complex that they required a powerful force or intelligent being to help create them', and one could subscribe to both the 'creationist' and 'ID' statements; hence these categories are not water-tight.

Some of the numbers generated by the poll don't quite add up. For example, if 64% are creationists, how come 46% agree that 'Darwin's theory of evolution is proven by fossil discoveries'? (In fact, the fossil record is in severe tension with the grander claims of macroevolution.) And how come only 54% think that human beings did not develop from earlier species if 64% think that 'human beings were created directly by God'? Perhaps because some respondents are not consistent!

It seems to me that if one ignored the headline figure of 64% creationists and took an average of the responses to other questions that could signal a belief in creationism (and/or ID) then about 50% of American adults reject evolution (e.g. 47% reject the idea that humans and apes have a common ancestor, 45% reject the idea that plants and animals have evolved from other species).

Skeptical Inquirer focus on the fact that there is a strong correlation between age, geography, politics and education and beliefs about evolution: 'Those with college educations, independents, liberals, adults aged 18 to 54, and those from the Northeast and West support the belief in evolution in large numbers. However, even among these groups, majorities believe in creationism.' In other words, creationists are a bunch of southern, conservative, republican voting old folk with little or no education! Indeed: 'older adults... adults without a college degree, Republicans, concervatives, and Southerners were more likely to embrace the creationism positions...'

How should we interpret these correlations? As Professor Lerner cautions:

'In interpreting such polls, one must be careful about their underlying meaning. What does it mean to "believe" in evolution or creationism (or, for that matter, both at once)? Scientific thinking of any kind plays a very small role in the daily lives of most Americans. Since their beliefs on scientific matters have little or no bearing on anything they do, they feel free to "believe" whatever is convenient and comfortable.'

Lerner immediately applies this wisdom to creationists: 'Because many persons have come to believe that creationist notions are consistent with other social, political, and religious views they hold, they will respond with creationist opinions when asked by a pollster.' While I've no doubt that there is truth in what Lerner says here, he does seem to be implying that no one adopts creationist views on rational, let alone evidential grounds. It seems to me that one should at least leave the door open to such a possibilit! Moreover, Lerner's wisdom can and should be applied to many of the American adults who believe in evolution. One could very well assert that: 'Because many persons have come to believe that evolutionary notions are consistent with other social, political, and religious or non-religious views they hold, they will respond with evolutionary notions when asked by a pollster.'

Lerner goes on to make the frankly astonishing assertion that:

'Unlike scientists, the general public does not understand that belief takes no part in scientific thinking. It is always the preponderance of evidence that takes precedence over personal feelings, no matter how strong they may be.'

I truly wonder if Lerner has ever read any philosophy of science, such as Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions? The preponderance of evidence might win out in the long run, but it can certainly take some doing as scientists cling tenatiously to their beliefs in the face of mounting empirical evidence to the contrary. Kuhn codified this fact in his distinction between 'normal science' and 'paradigm shifts'. Did 'personal feelings' about metaphysical issues of a religious nature really have nothing to do with Fred Hoyle's opposition to the cosmological theory he derided as the 'big bang theory'? Moreover, philosophers of science have pointed out time and again that science makes a number of metaphysical assumptions. In that sense too, 'belief' plays an indispensible role in science.

Lerner submits that 'scientists are well aware of how extraordinarily preponderant the evidence is in favour of evolution, including human evolution.' Lerner implies that 'scientists' are a monolithic grouping who all accept evolution. They are not, and they do not.

Those scientists who dissent from evolution are a small, but growing, minority

Lerner dismisses the 'apparent scientific credentials' of creationist proponents, and explains that ordinary Americans only believe such folk because they do not have the knowledge to recognize such a person as 'a crank or a pseudoscientist or a religious polemicist.' Once again, Lerner cannot even leave the door open to a scientist with credentials who is a creationist but not 'a crank'. Lerner is 'poisoning the well' with such ad hominem attacks. Of course being a polemicist (religious or irreleigious) does not exclude one's being a scientist or advancing arguments that should be engaged with on their merits. Newton advocated the design argument in the Principia, and Dawkins takes every opportunity to provide Britians with a polemic in favour of his metaphysical beliefs.

Lerner references the many 'scientists, philosophers, and theologians' who have:

'written extensively about all the forms of creationism, from young-earth to Intelligent Design Creationism. They have demolished the scientific pretentions of the creationists [in some cases I would agree, in others I would disagree!], demonstrated clearly their sectarian religious agendas [again, I agree but only in part and with the cavieat that a religous agenda does not automatically vitiate a scientific theory seen by proponents of either as promoting, however indirectly, the other], and exposed their ultimately political aims [the same point applies - does evolution never get used for political ends?! Of course it does].'

Lerner's mention of theologians does at least acknowledge that evolution is compatible with theology, at least in one understanding of both subjects. This is a point I wholeheartedly endorse. You see, I am one of those folk who has come to endorse Intelligent Design on non-religious grounds, exclusively on the basis of reviewing the arguments of ID theorists concerning the philosophy of science and the empirical evidence. And while I am not a credentialed scientist, I am a credentialed philosopher who has published a fair amount of material on this subject.

Finally, I'd like to highlight some Haris findings that were not discussed by Skeptical Inquirer. In particular, consider the following statistics relating level of education to belief in evolution, creationism and ID (these statistics were published in the Skeptical Inquirer's report):

All Adults/H.S or less/Some College/College Grad /Post Drad
Belief in Evolution 22%/17/21/31/35
Belief in Creationism 64 /73 /66 /48/42
Belief in ID 10 /6 /10 /15 /17

The first thing to note is that belief in evolution rises with increased level of education. This could indicate that the more people know the data and how to handle it rationally, the more likely they are to believe in evolution. It might mean that the more people are indoctrinated by the establishement view the more likely thay are to 'compromise' (as the creationists say), that is, the more likely they are to adopt that view themsleves. It probably means a combination of these possibilities is at play. The second thing to note is that belief in creationism drops with increased level of education. The same explanatory options apply. It seems reasonable to conjecture that poll results such as these encourage Darwinists to think that the best answer to creationism is more science education. The third and fourth things to note are that:

a) belief in ID amongst the population as a whole lies at just under half the percentage of belief in evolution, and that
b) unlike belief in creationism but like belief in evolution, belief in ID rises with increased level of education.

On the one hand, creationists will find it difficult to explain this correlation as a result of 'compromise', since ID is also an ill-regarded minority position amongst the majority of evolution believing scientists. On the other hand, evolutionists will have to acknowledge that they cannot dismiss ID as the preserve of the ill-educated. Forthermore, if more science education is the answer to creationism, these poll results suggest that it is equally fertle ground for ID believers. Hence Darwinists are apparently caught between a rock and a hard place: increased education will decrease the number of creationists and increase the number of evolution believers, but it will also increase the number of ID believers.
Hence, it seems to me that the headline ignored by Skeptical Inquirer is this:

Friday, January 20, 2006


More disapointed secular reviews of Dawkins' recent TV series

Edited highlights of two secular reviews of 'The Root of all Evil':

'Dawkins presented a thoroughly unscientific argument that 'religion is the root of all evil' and came across as a fundamentalist himself... He tried to play on our fears about suicide bombers and terrorists, as if they were the only 'evil' things done in history. He seems to have forgotten that the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Communist China had little, if anything, to do with religion... Dawkins seems to have chosen a deliberately condescending, patronising and aggressive approach... When interviewing a celebrity pastor in the US, Ted Haggard, Dawkins compared Haggard's Christian service with the 'Nuremberg Rally' in an obvious attempt to get a rise out of the guy. The pastor laughed the suggestion off and proceeded to demolish Dawkins, accusing him of being arrogant. When the pastor challenged Dawkins with the notion that evolution might one day be laughed at by his grandchildren, Dawkins response was simply to retort angrily 'do you want to bet?' Hardly the height of sophisticated argument... Dawkins repeatedly stressed the importance of evidence in science. Yet he was guilty of ignoring his own advice as he talked of Christian Fascism and the 'American Taliban' without providing any evidence for their existence. At one point, when interviewing someone who can only be described a nutter, Dawkins, rather disingenuously, stated that he was an atheist who didn't 'hate' anyone. The film so far put the lie to this - Dawkins' contempt for the religious masses was obvious throughout the film. Why did Dawkins choose to interview someone who was obviously a nutter when there are several intelligent, articulate Muslims who he could have met? ...I understand Dawkins' anger and frustration. I grew up in a Muslim community but rejected Islam at a young age. I lose patience with people who believe in astrology or think that homoeopathy is something scientists simply don't understand... However, even with my strong views, I found Dawkins' polemic unpalatable and suspect it may have done more harm than good for 'the cause'.' - Alom Shaha, 'The Root of all Anti-Science?' @

'it was the type of crimson-inducing programme whereby peering through half-closed fingers seemed highly advisable... it is depressing that Dawkins seems to have little to offer. And what he does say contains all the insight of a saloon-bar loudmouth... when explaining why religion continues to play a part in modern life, Dawkins' explanation is to flash the 'you must be stupid' card... Ironically, Dawkins fails to appreciate how religion has contributed to the humanism he is seeking to defend. Instead he presents atheist humanism as something straight out of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World - all machine-like creatures bedazzled by reductive technology yet blind to what makes us truly human... For all his scientific arguments, he seems to take more exception to the concepts of truth, absolutes and commitment to a higher cause. Yet these are invaluable tramlines that can guide purposeful human action. Dawkins casts the existence of firm belief systems as being responsible for conflicts around the world. So for Dawkins, the dispute between Jewish settlers and Palestinians is reducible to religious dogma rather than more complex issues arising from politics and oppression... The other problem is that singling out religion for diminished humanism sets up a false battleground. In fact, even today religion expresses kernels of humanism that sometimes even appear progressive compared to contemporary thinking. For example, the major religions recognise that as humans are capable of making moral choices, we are fundamentally different from animals. How many secularists share such views today? Elsewhere, religion's understanding of truth and selfless commitment to a wider community or cause appears preferable to today's culture of narcissism and navel-gazing... Many aspects of religion certainly have a shameful and woeful repute. Dawkins is in danger of doing the same to atheist humanism.' - Neil Davenport, 'Is Religion the Root of all Evil?' @

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Updated ARN Author's Page and musings sparked by 'I, Robot' and A.J. Ayer!

Eddie at arn has kindly updated my featured author's page. It now features my article on the recent coverage of ID in Focus Magazine @

It also now features an updated book list of my publications with links to on-line book stores. New to this list is Back in Time: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Doctor Who (Damaris, 2005) and Truth Wars (Damaris, 2005), which is a multi author book in Damaris' new 'Talking About' series of books to which I contributed a chapter on philosopher David Hume. Also available is Sex and the Cynics: Talking about Love (Damaris, 2005), to which I contributed a chapter on philosopher Arthur Shopenheur.

I was recently comissioned to write chapters on 'Logical Positivism & A.J. Ayer' and on the film I, Robot for the next two 'Talking About' books, due out this year.

The latter has got me reading Issac Asimov's robot stories again, and noticing how his famous 'Three Laws' of robotics (a term he coined) are a good plot device because they are suficiently ambiguous to be interpreted any number of ways. For example, it's no good telling a robot that it can't 'harm' a human being if you don't define what actions would 'harm' a human. Hence, in the 2004 film starring Will Smith, the mastermind of a robot coup (I won't tell you which character that is, in case you want to watch it) thinks it is acting in humanity's best interest by imposing a totalitarian dictatorship in order to prevent people harming themselves by creating polution etc.; but in doing so it simply replaces one form of 'harm' with another that it fails to recognize! So the whole plot depends crucially upon the failure of a programmer to carefully define the meaning of 'harm' to include more than physical damage! This is a nice theoretical example of how the bredth of meaning of a term really can matter in a very pragmatic way! A recent real life example occured in Britain when the House of Lords sent back a government anti-terrorism bill because it contained the phrase 'the glorification of terrorism' (which the government wants to ban). The Lords suggested replacing 'glorification' with something about not being allowed to 'encourage' terrorism. Another example is when people criticise ID as not being 'scientific' when the term has so many competing definitions! ID is not scientific in the sense of the term used by its critics, because they define science in such as way as to exclude ID - but that doesn't mean ID isn't scientific in another, equally, or even more legitimate sense! If you define 'science' so that it excludes explaining anything with reference to intelligent design, then of course ID isn't 'science' in that sense of the term. But then neither is forensic science, or archaeology, or psychology, or cryptography or SETI! Just as the logical positivist's failed to define their now notorious verification priciple in such a way as to exclude religious claims whilst including scientific claims, so the definitional critics of ID fail to define 'science' in such a way as to exclude ID while including claims that even they admit are scientific.


What does Dawkins mean by 'evil'?

Richard Dawkins says that religion is 'the root of all evil', but what does he mean by 'evil' and how does this fit with his worldview? Dawkins actually ends up explaining away morality rather than explaining it - because his explanation requires us to translate all talk about things being actually and objectively wrong into talk about certain members of our species having the feeling that something is wrong because they just happen to have evolved that way through a process of unintended and blind evolution.

Hence Dawkins claims to have 'seen through' morality in precisely the same way in which his explanation of religion - that it is nothing but an activity that happens to aids group survival (interesting that he doesn't explain the group activity of science like this!) - 'sees through' religion.

Our evolutionary history might account for us having certain moral feelings about actions (although even this is questionable), but it can't objectively prescribe that we ought to pay attention to those feelings, or objectively obligate us to pay attention to them, because only persons can prescribe and obligate behaviour, whilst a naturalistic evolutionary history is not a person! So when Dawkins says that religion is 'the root of all evil' what he really means by 'evil' is 'things that a blind material process happens to have caused me to feel bad about'! If he meant objectively evil he would contradict himself when he failed to acknowledge the necessity of explaining morality with reference to a personal source.

Moreover, if Dawkins' evolutionary 'explanation' of morality allows for the diversification of different 'social norms' (evolving in different environmental conditions say), then what's to stop religious people explaining to Dawkins that they just happen to have a different 'social norm' concerning what things count as 'evil' than he does, and that since his explanation of morality leaves no room for making truth claims about any such 'norm' being objectively better than any other, he can't criticize their 'norm' without adding 'but of course, I'm not saying that their norm is actually wrong, just that its a different norm than mine happens to be'.

You can read a more detailed analysis and critique of Dawkins' views on morality (and other matters) by purchasing a copy of my book I Wish I Could Believe In Meaning (Damaris, 2004) from or from the Damaris web-shop @ My book also presents the moral argument, as does this paper by Professor William Lane Craig, ‘The Indispensability of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for morality’, @

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Responding to Dawkins' Polemic: Part II

Nick Pollard, 'The Problem with Richard Dawkins' Faith: Part II' @

Monday, January 16, 2006


Responses to Dawkins' Recent Polemic

Evangelical British atheist Richard Dawkins doesn't seem to have done himself any favours with his latest polemic against monotheistic religion, Channel 4 TV's 'The Root of All Evil?' Here are links to a selection of secular and Christian responses to Part One of this Two part series, 'The God of Delusion':

Madeleine Bunting, 'No Wonder atheists are angry: they seem ready to believe anything' @,,1681235,00.html

'Oh come all ye faithless: A new series depicts religion as dangerous bunk. But is presenter Richard Dawkins just preaching to the converted? By Stephen Phelan' @

Fortean Times TV Review @

Roger Scruton, 'Dawkins is Wrong About God', @
(Requires a free subscription)

Denyse O'Leary, 'Arch Darwinist Richard Dawkins Launches Anti-Religion TV Series: Attacked on Left as Well as Right' @

Dave Crofts, 'Review: The Root of All Evil' @

Nick Pollard, 'The Problem with Richard Dawkins' Faith' @

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Letter to Focus Magazine

A copy of the e-mail I just sent Focus Magazine about their inaccurate article on ID. Just writing this sort of letter feels like striking one's head against a brick wall. I did once write a letter to a journalist praising their even-handed coverage of ID... Ah, memories.

Dear Focus magazine,

I was disappointed to find David Whitehouse's article on intelligent design (issue 159) littered with inaccuracies: ID does not say ‘all the living things we see around us... are too complicated to have been produced by natural processes’. ID says evolution is an adequate explanation for many things. ID theorizes that some things weren't produced this way, but by design. The criteria used to justify this claim is not that (some) living things ‘are too complicated to have been produced by natural processes’, but that they exhibit a particular type of complexity, called specified complexity, which is best explained by design. Even those ID theorists who believe the source of design is God are clear this conclusion is not a part of ID as a scientific theory. ID is not 'creationism', as any creationist would tell you. The science standards adopted by the Kansas Board of Education in 2005 did not insist that ID ‘be taught in a science class alongside evolution’. Whitehouse confuses the ‘formal verdict’ of the court case concerning Pennsylvania's Dover School Board with the Kansas Board of Education’s science standards (where no lawsuit had been filed as of December). As for there being ‘no serious controversy raging over the basics of evolutionary science, in the same way there is about intelligent design’, it should be clear to everyone that the debate about ID just is a controversy about the basics of evolutionary science!

Your Sincerely,

Peter S. Williams (MA, MPhil)

Friday, January 13, 2006


Scruton-izing Dawkins

I couldn't resist the pun, but British philosopher Roger Scruton has an interesting piece in the latest edition of The Spectator in which he responds to Richard Dawkins' latest TV series 'The Root of All Evil?', in which the Darwinist data picks to portray religion as an irrational mental virus or 'meme':

'...And what happens to societies that have been vaccinated against the infection — Soviet society, for instance, or Nazi Germany — do they experience a gain in reproductive potential? Clearly, a lot more research is needed if we are to come down firmly on the side of mass vaccination rather than (my preferred option) lending support to the religion that seems most suited to temper our belligerent instincts, and which, in doing so, asks us to forgive those who trespass against us and humbly atone for our faults... To blame religion for the wars conducted in its name... is like blaming love for the Trojan war. All human motives, even the most noble, will feed the flames of conflict when subsumed by the ‘territorial imperative’ — this too Darwin teaches us, and Dawkins surely must have noticed it. Take religion away, as the Nazis and the communists did, and you do nothing to suppress the pursuit of Lebensraum. You simply remove the principal source of mercy in the ordinary human heart and so make war pitiless; atheism found its proof at Stalingrad... Religion, like patriotism, gets a bad press among those for whom war is the one human reality, the one occasion when the Other in all of us is noticeable. But the real test of a human institution is in peacetime. Peace is boring... and also rotten television. But you can learn about it from books. Those nurtured in the Christian faith know that Christianity’s ability to maintain peace in the world around us reflects its gift of peace to the world within. In a Christian society there is no need for Asbos, and in the world after religion those Asbos will do no good — they are a last desperate attempt to save us from the effects of godlessness, and the attempt is doomed... Rational argument can get us just so far, in raising the monotheistic faiths above the muddled world of superstition. It can help us to understand the real difference between a faith that commands us to forgive our enemies, and one that commands us to slaughter them. But the leap of faith itself — this placing of your life at God’s service — is a leap over reason’s edge. This does not make it irrational, any more than falling in love is irrational. On the contrary, it is the heart’s submission to an ideal, and a bid for the love, peace and forgiveness that Dawkins too is seeking, since he, like the rest of us, was made in just that way.'

- Roger Scruton, 'Dawkins is Wrong About God', The Spectator, 14th January 2006.

You can read the whole article by subscribing (free) to The Spectator on-line @

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Focus on Intelligent Design

The January 2006 issue (No 159) of Focus Magazine, published by the BBC, carries a two-page cover story, by Dr David Whitehouse (science editor for BBC News Online) on ‘the intelligent design furore’. The article is highlighted as ‘Darwin vs God’ on the front cover and entitled ‘Teacher vs Preacher’ (pp. 20-21). These titles should be enough to forewarn informed readers of the kind of treatment ID receives. The article manages to get just about everything wrong, primarily by misrepresenting the claims of ID.

ID is confused with young earth creationism, in the teeth of quotes to the contrary. Purple prose abounds. The article incorrectly reports that the recently adopted Kansas Education Board science standards insist on the teaching of intelligent design theory in class alongside the theory of evolution, and is so confused that it manages to present the recently finnished court case concerning the Dover School Board in Pennsylvania as giving the verdict on the Education Board in Kansas (where there are no court cases, at least as of December)!

Ironically, this article on the intelligent design controversy claims that there is no controversy concerning evolutionary theory. Surely the controversy about ID is a controversy about evolution?!

I've written a longer article reviewing the Focus magazine coverage of ID which will eventually end up on my arn author's page.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Army reviews 'Back in Time'

Glowing review of Back in Time: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Doctor Who (Damaris/Authenitc, 2005) from the Salvation Army's website:

'Back in Time is the latest in the Damaris Thinking Fan’s Guide series ‘written by fans for fans’. Couch, Watkins and Williams are established Christian writers on popular culture, and self-confessed avids of Doctor Who. With rigour and humour, they demonstrate their encyclopaedic knowledge which includes a brief history of the Time Lords, a 2005 episode guide and a 26-page Who’s Who. Trivia abounds... Whilst the facts, figures, obscure references and cross-links will delight Who fans of all generations, the book’s purpose is to encourage readers to ponder the themes and issues the series raises. Sci-fi it may be, but whether it’s in the fundamentalism of the Emperor-worshipping Daleks or the recurring theme of good overcoming evil, religion is never far from Doctor Who storylines. The parallels between The Doctor and Jesus – both having given their lives sacrificially, only to be ‘regenerated’ – are explored. Morality, ethics, meaning and purpose are studied, using episodes of the 2005 series as a reference. The tensions between science and religion are laid bare. Science fiction is skilfully weaved with spiritual fact as the writers take us on a journey from Eccleston to Ecclesiastes... Who fans are encouraged to approach faith in an intelligent, informed manner – just as their hero The Doctor might... Back in Time is accessible and well-written, designed to be read by Who aficionados regardless of background. It offers a cringe-free ‘way in’ to the Christian faith, grounded in concepts and language which will be familiar to sci-fi devotees. It’s also a good introduction to Who for anyone wishing to keep abreast of this most contemporary of cultural phenomena.' - David Giles


Friday, January 06, 2006


Updated Links

I try to keep a roving eye out for other ID related blogs and websites, and from time to time I update the list displayed on the left hand side of your screen :-) So do remember to check out some of the recent editions, such as ID Net Australia and Thomist meta-blog 'Tu Quoque'. I hope this blog will act as a useful portal to sites of interest.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


ITV's new SF show based on a fossil record which is 'quirky', 'odd in places' and contains 'bits that can't be explained'.

A Happy New Year to one and all.

After the ratings success of BBC 1's Doctor Who in 2005, ITV has announced development of its own six part, £6 million, family freindly science fiction series: Primaeval. Of particluar interest to this blog is the show's underlying plot premise. According to co-creator and executive producer Tim Haines (as reported in SFX magazine, Jan 2006):

'The premise of the show is that if you're a zoologist you know that the whole of evolution is based on the fossil record and the fossil record is very quirky - there are some strange things in there. We've invented the idea that the reason that it's so odd in places and why there are bits that can't be explained, is because there are holes in time that occasionally open up and an animal wanders through from one time to another. So you can get strange mixings of creatures and indeed that might lead to evolution, rather than happening very, very gradually, occasionally going into overdrive.'

Primaeval will follow a group of scientists, led by Professor Cutter, who have to tackle invading pre-historic creatures.

Haine's company Impossible Pictures was responsible for the natural history shows Walking with Dinosaurs and Walking with Beasts. ITV's need to compete with Doctor Who is Impossible Pictures opportunity to re-invest their technology and expertise into a drama show.

The exclusive SFX magazine article on Primaeval (SFX, Jan 2006, p. 14-15) raises the question of whether Haines is concerned:

'whether a series so concerned with evolution might be unsellable in a United States now seemingly obsessed by the debate on creationism and so-called intelligent design.'

The perjoritive use of 'so-called' and the incorrect equation of ID with creationism are just the sort of thing one unfortunately has to expect from the majority of reporters today.

Haines replies:

"I had a lovely note from Arthur C. Clark after Walking with Dinosaurs. He thought the series was fantastic and said I should parachute in hundreds of copies to the American Mid-West!" Haines laughed. "Discovery has been running this stuff in the US. There are just as many people there who have no idea about intelligent design. Creation science has been around for some time and I think it's a rather sad Frankenstein of ideas. If you are a Christian and you believe in all that, that's fine, but why try to cobble it together with scientific evidence and create your own weird mix?'

To my mind, these comments only go to show that it is not only many Americans who have 'no idea about intelligent design'. Once again ID is incorrectly equated with creation science and a critique of the latter (whether or not it is justified) is applied to the former.

Ironically, for all the concern over how a show 'concerned with evolution' will be received by creationists and proponents of Intelligent Design theory, the show in question is set to highlight one of the problems with evolution that fuels the debate about the merits of that theory; namely, the non-Darwinian nature of the fossil record considered overall!

Perhaps Haines and SFX magazine should worry instead about how Darwinists (like Arthur C. Clark in America or Richard Dawkins in the UK) will react to a major prime time SF show, produced by the company that made Walking with Dinosaurs, being based on the real life observation that 'the fossil record is very quirky', that it is 'odd in places' and contains 'bits that can't be explained' (from a Darwinian viewpoint that is)!

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