"It's quite exhilarating, actually, to be shot at and totally missed."
The Boston Globe continues to report on the debate over evolution with nary a care for anything resembling a basic understanding of what's being debated. Today they have an interesting interview with Discovery co-founder and senior fellow George Gilder, "The Evolution of George Gilder."
Right out of the gate the reporter mischaracterizes the issue by giving some terrible definitions to three key terms.
CREATIONISM: Ascribes creation of all matter and species to the work of a divine agency such as God.In fact, the theory of intelligent design simply holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Intelligent design theory does NOT claim that science can determine the identity of the intelligent cause. All it proposes is that science can identify whether certain features of the natural world are the products of intelligence.
EVOLUTION: Theorizes that plant and animal species developed from earlier life forms by a process of random mutation and natural selection.
INTELLIGENT DESIGN: Asserts that life is too complex to be explained by purely natural processes, and therefore some agent or agents of higher intelligence played a role in its creation.
Gilder however can hold his own in any interview, no matter how ignorant the reporter might be. (Indeed, when speaking with Gilder about anything, most of us are ignorant in comparison.)
In conversation, Gilder is something of a rhetorical hummingbird, darting from topic to topic so rapidly it's difficult to get a word (much less a question) in edgewise. Each topic arrives with its own set of footnotes, reference texts, and unvarnished -- some might say unhinged -- opinions. Predictable Gilder is not, however. On balance, it's much easier to peg him as a hip-shooting contrarian than a cookie-cutter conservative or raving holy roller.
At maximum conversational velocity, he waves his arms as though battling through nylon netting to get to the next point. And battle he does, with the energy of a 65-year-old man who runs 5 miles daily and could outtalk either Al, Franken or Sharpton, at the drop of a hat. Have you read this?, he asks frequently during a two-hour interview. Looked into that? Sixty-codon alphabets, amino-acid source codes, low-entropy carriers: Hey, check them out. Although a PhD in electrical engineering might be helpful, too.
Gilder sets the record straight on why he's interested in the debate over evolution, and why he's an ID proponent.
Addressing the stereotype of ID proponents as scientific illiterates and Bible-thumping boobs, Gilder can barely restrain himself. The media-spun image is just that, he fumes: a cartoon version of people like himself.
"There's no biblical literalism -- none -- to the ID movement," he says flatly. ''So presenting us as troglodytes who believe in Noah's Ark is quite bizarre. If people want to attack me that way, fine. It's quite exhilarating, actually, to be shot at and totally missed."