Expelled’s intelligent design theory – this IS your daddy’s creationism (Part I)

While doing research for an earlier post I ran across a document called a “Leader’s Guide” on one of the official Expelled web-sites. This little bit of propaganda which was created “to assist you with promoting the issues surrounding the film Expelled“. It is filled to the brim with rhetoric, misinformation, out of context quotations, and half-truths that have been staples in antievolutionist literature, since long before the latest version, “intelligent design” evolved from its parent species “creation science” in the late 1980′s. To demonstrate the evolutionary link between these ideologies I will often follow quotes from the Guide (in blue for clarity) with quotes from pre-ID movement, “creation science” sources making identical, or nearly identical, statements.

The “creation science” material I am referencing is mostly from well known young Earth creationists dated prior to 1991, the year Phillip Johnson published Darwin On Trial, which is often said to have launched the ID movement. The use of pre-1991 material ensures that there was no chance of backwards contamination from ID creationists back to “creation science” advocates. Something common in later YEC literature.

leaders guide

The document is divided up into six sections.

  1. Introduction
  2. Cosmology
  3. Molecular Biology
  4. Paleontology
  5. Where does the science lead?
  6. Why Does It Matter?

I will primarily address the material in sections 1, 3, and 4 which are areas I am more familiar with. This is in no way intended to be a complete refutation of the material found in the “Leader’s Guide”, rather I am just going to hit a few highlights that I felt were particularly telling or egregious.

The Introduction

The introduction begins with a logical fallacy known as an “argumentum ad populum“. The idea that if a lot of people believe something then there must be something to it or that at least it should be seriously considered merely because it is popular. Attached to this fallacy is essentially a conspiracy theory interwoven with an appeal to let the masses decide.

L.G. Despite the fact that most Americans believe that God created life, the only “origin of life” theory taught in the majority of American schools is Neo-Darwinism…

Despite the compelling modern science in support of intelligent design, and despite the fact that most Americans want the evidence for and against Darwin’s theory taught in schools, any questioning of Darwinism is systematically suppressed in nearly all academic and scientific communities.

The suppression of new scientific ideas – particularly those that pertain to the origins of life – presents today’s students with a one-sided argument in the court of public opinion. It’s as if they’re a jury being shown evidence for only ONE SIDE of the case. All evidence from the opposing side is being thrown out of court, not by the jury or even the judge, but by the side presenting the contrary argument!

It’s suppression at its worst, where the implications reach far beyond the classroom. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed seeks to expose this suppression and give today’s students a glimpse into the amazing discoveries that modern science is revealing. In the pages of this Expelled Discussion Guide, you’ll be given the facts being hidden from most students today. (p.2)

Setting aside the argumentum ad populum and the conspiracy theory, we have here a clear echo of the “equal time for creation science” and appeal to fairness that was common in the literature of the ancestor of ID creationism.

To restrict the teaching concerning origins to a single theory, that of organic evolution, and to teach it as an established scientific fact, constitutes indoctrination in a humanistic religious philosophy. Such a procedure violates the Constitutional prohibition against the teaching of sectarian religious views just as clearly as if the teaching concerning origins were restricted to the Book of Genesis. In the spirit of fairness and of academic freedom we plead for a balanced presentation of all the evidence. (Duane Gish 1973, emphasis mine)

In view of the fact that evolution and creation are the only two possible concepts of origins, that evolution requires at least as much of a “religious” faith as does creation, and that creation fits all the “scientific” data at least as well as does evolution, it is clear that both should be taught in the schools and other public institutions of our country, and that this should be done on an equal-time, equal-emphasis basis, in so far as possible.

This is obviously the only equitable and fair approach to take, the only one consistent with traditional American principles of religious freedom, civil rights, freedom of information, scientific objectivity, academic freedom, and constitutionality. (Henry Morris 1975, emphasis mine)

The present practice of programming young minds in public schools to a single religious (and anti-theistic) point of view is unconscionable. Nevertheless, the anti-creationist, the humanist and the liberal theologian continue to demand this new religion, and they are succeeding only because they control curricula in our schools.

Scientific integrity! It doesn’t appear that students can expect to find it among the anti-creationists. On the other hand, creationist scientists are pleading, on behalf of students around the world, for good science, good education, and the highest standards of integrity in science education. These students deserve to hear all the scientific data in an honest context. They deserve to be educated so they can be their own decision makers. This is the essence of “scientific integrity.” (Richard Bliss 1985, emphasis mine)

Of course the viability of scientific theories is not determined by the “court of public opinion”, i.e. the general public (the majority of the jurors in that “court” being scientifically illiterate), rather it is decided by the consensus view of the relevant portion of the scientific community; in this case primarily biologists and paleontologists. Of course the court of science reached its verdict in the case of creation v. evolution nearly 150 years ago, and the facts of nature being what they are, it didn’t go the creationist’s way.

No jury of ill informed lay persons, tainted as they are by creationist propaganda like that found in this Guide, can change the facts of nature.

A theme that runs throughout this document is another creationist staple; that being a not so subtle attempt to characterize evolution as a “random”, “accidental” process, here are the to most blatant examples:

L.G. …Neo-Darwinism, which at its core holds that a random undirected process has led from non-life to all of the marvellous [sic] complexity we see in the living world. (p.2, emphasis mine)

L.G.Darwinian evolution argues that life arose from a primordial sea on a lifeless planet through a chance collision of chemicals, and that over billions of years, this biological accident gave rise to all of life, including humans. In other words: NOTHING + TIME AND CHANCE = EVERYTHING (p.6, emphasis mine)

L.G. What is Darwinism?

  • Unguided process produces new forms of life through random mutations
  • Nothing + Time/Chance = Everything (outline p. 3, emphasis mine)

Natural selection is mentioned repeatedly (usually in conjunction with random mutation), but its relationship to random mutation in neo-Darwinian theory is never adequately explained. Nor is it made clear that while natural selection may be a “blind”, “unguided” process it is absolutely non-random. Of course, like much in the Guide this mischaracterization of Darwinian evolution as being merely a chance process has its roots in earlier forms of creationism:

At the heart of the evolutionary viewpoint is the assumption that the universe, including its psychological life forms, is the result of a strictly materialistic process involving vast amounts of time and random changes. If one assumes the validity of this “time plus chance” explanation, it becomes very difficult to believe that present natural phenomena are as complex as they might superficially appear. (Paul D. Ackerman 1977, emphasis mine)

Evolutionists ultimately believe, to use an example from commercial television, that frogs turn into princes. But if the mechanism turned out to be the kiss of a princess rather than time, chance, and the properties of matter, then the evolutionary explanation for change would be wrong and the theory falsified in this instance. Whether it’s the changing of frogs into princes, fish into philosophers, or molecules into men, calling evolution a fact without at least broadly specifying a mechanism is both non-science and non-sense – unless evolutionists are willing to consider the kiss of a princess a potentially valid evolutionary hypothesis!

Creationists don’t believe that frogs turn into princes at all, of course, but rather that frogs and people were separately created from the same kinds of molecular “building blocks.” Remember the tumbled pebble and the arrowhead (Fig. 1)? Both were shaped from the same substance, one by the means or mechanism of time and chance acting on the inherent properties of matter; the other by the means of [sic] mechanism of design and creation, producing irreducible properties of organization. Mechanisms – the explanation of how – is, therefore, the heart of the creation/evolution issue. Substance, adaptation, and change are the “givens” or “facts” shared by those on both sides. The central question is: how – by what means or mechanism – did these patterns of order come into being: by time and chance like the tumbled pebble; or, like the arrowhead, by design and creation? (Morris & Parker 1987, pp. 110-111, emphasis mine)

Their real objection is that evolutionary theory seems to conflict with their theological beliefs in an interventionalist deity:

L.G. At its core, Darwinism explicitly excludes purpose or intelligent guidance from the history of the development of life. (p.3)

However, what they really mean is that it excludes supernatural intelligent guidance. This makes evolutionary theory no different than any other scientific theory. Strangely though we don’t hear about how horrible germ theory is given that it excludes supernatural intelligent guidance (except maybe from the followers of Christian Science), or how atomic theory is just a cover for atheism because it excludes supernatural intelligent guidance as an explainatory mechanism.

The difference here is not that evolutionary theory is somehow more “materialistic” or “atheistic” than any other scientific theory; it is that evolutionary theory conflicts with their theology whereas germ and atomic theory do not.

L.G. Despite what we continue to read in the popular press and textbooks, modern science is increasingly raising serious questions about Darwinism along with other key elements of the “materialistic” worldview. (p.3)

There are no “serious questions” about the overall validity of evolutionary theory in the scientific community; though disputes about the details continue, as they do around all well established scientific theories. The only people pushing this business about there being a “controversy” or “serious questions” about evolution, are antievolutionists motivated largely by the fact that evolutionary theory (and often other scientific theories) conflicts with their personal theological beliefs.

Cosmology

L.G. The “Anthropic Principle” states that if the physical structure of the universe were even slightly different, life would not exist. (p.5)

I won’t linger here as cosmology is outside my main area of knowledge (evolutionary biology, paleontology, and creationist claims about them). The whole section seems to be little more than a reiteration of the anthropic principle which always struck me as something akin to being surprised that our legs are long enough to reach the ground. That life like ours exists in a universe suitable to supporting our form of life isn’t terribly shocking. It would be much more puzzling if life like ours existed in a universe that wasn’t suitable to support our form of life.

Molecular Biology section

L.G. When Charles Darwin first proposed his theory, the world within the cell was unknown. Darwin and his contemporaries built their early theories believing the cell was very simple. They could not have been more wrong.

The inner workings of the cell are a fantastic assembly of intricately intertwined biological machinery which is vastly more complicated than anything humans have engineered. (p.6)

It is true that in the mid-19th century, science had not yet learned of how complex the inner workings of the cell are. But at the time, and for that matter even today, living things outside their cells are more complex than anything engineered by humans. The average adult human has something like one trillion cells making up their bodies with different cell types making up our various organs and tissues.

Cell theory was well accepted by the time Darwin published the Origin of Species (1859), so even though he and his contemporaries were not aware of the further complexity of the interior of cells, they did understand that they were dealing with incredibly complex systems. And they faced basically the same argument from creationists of their day, only then the focus was on “organs of extreme perfection” such as the eye, rather than bacterial flagella.

In fact Darwin titled a section of the sixth chapter of the Origin of Species “Organs of extreme Perfection and Complication”. Ironically, the Leader’s Guide prominently quotes the very first paragraph from this section in a sidebar (p.9) to the molecular biology section of the document entitled “Darwin in his own words”.

L.G. “To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” (p.9)

This quote will be recognizable to just about anyone who follows the machinations of the antievolutionist movement, as it is probably the archetypal creationist out-of-context quotation (something they never tire of using).

Darwin himself was acutely aware of this evidence of creation and the problem it posed for his theory. In a chapter of Origin of Species called “Difficulties With the Theory,” he included traits that depend on separately meaningless parts. Consider the human eye with the different features required to focus at different distances, to accommodate different amounts of light, and to correct for the “rainbow effect.” Regarding the origin of the eye Darwin wrote these words:

To suppose the eye, [with so many parts all working together] …could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.

Absurd in the highest degree.” That’s Darwin’s own opinion of using natural selection to explain the origin of traits that depend on many parts working together. (Morris & Parker 1987, pp. 86-88, emphasis mine)

Charles Darwin acknowledged the utter inadequacy of the evolutionary theory when attempting to account for a structure such as the eye:

“To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree… The belief that an organ as perfect as the eye could have formed by natural selection is more than enough to stagger anyone”

An incomprehensible constellation of favorable, integrated, and synchronized mutations would have to occur to produce an organ such as the eye. (Huse 1983, p. 73, emphasis mine)

Consider the eye, for example, “with all its inimitable contrivances,” as Darwin called them, which can admit different amounts of light, focus at different distances, and correct spherical and chromatic aberration. Consider also the splitting of pigment molecules that must be coupled to nerve impulse initiation, and consider that none of these impulses has any meaning apart from millions of neurons integrated into interpretive centers in the brain. Each of these features of optic structure and function is a complex trait itself, and none of these separate components would have any meaning or “survival value,” until nearly all were put together in a functioning whole of compounded complexities. No wonder Darwin wrote: “To suppose that the eye, … could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” (Gary Parker 1980, emphasis mine)

And just to show you how far back this goes with creationists, here is a 19th century example:

The believer in the teleological argument, that the Supreme Creator worked by design, when He pronounced all things “very good,” naturally thinks of such an object as “the eye,” in contradiction of this speculative theory; but Darwin has anticipated him by candidly owning the weakness of his own argument. “To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” I suppose most persons possessed with the average amount of common sense will agree with him. Nevertheless there are infidels bold enough to declare that this complicated and wonderful organ, the eye, which gives evidence of an Almighty designer more than any thing else in creation, so far from this, proves to be a very poor specimen of workmanship in their estimation. (Savile 1885, pp. 52-53, emphasis mine)

Here is the quote back in context:

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself originated; but I may remark that, as some of the lowest organisms, in which nerves cannot be detected, are capable of perceiving light, it does not seem impossible that certain sensitive elements in their sarcode should become aggregated and developed into nerves, endowed with this special sensibility.

In searching for the gradations through which an organ in any species has been perfected, we ought to look exclusively to its lineal progenitors; but this is scarcely ever possible, and we are forced to look to other species and genera of the same group, that is to the collateral descendants from the same parent-form, in order to see what gradations are possible, and for the chance of some gradations having been transmitted in an unaltered or little altered condition. But the state of the same organ in distinct classes may incidentally throw light on the steps by which it has been perfected. (Darwin 1872, emphasis mine)

Darwin then continues on for several more paragraphs giving examples.

In the same sidebar we find this quotation which is from the same chapter of the Origin of Species:

L.G.“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” (p.9)

This is another favorite creationist out-of-context target. Once again here is the quote back in context:

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case. No doubt many organs exist of which we do not know the transitional grades, more especially if we look to much-isolated species, round which, according to the theory, there has been much extinction. Or again, if we take an organ common to all the members of a class, for in this latter case the organ must have been originally formed at a remote period, since which all the many members of the class have been developed; and in order to discover the early transitional grades through which the organ has passed, we should have to look to very ancient ancestral forms, long since become extinct.

We should be extremely cautious in concluding that an organ could not have been formed by transitional gradations of some kind. Numerous cases could be given amongst the lower animals of the same organ performing at the same time wholly distinct functions; thus in the larva of the dragon-fly and in the fish Cobitis the alimentary canal respires, digests, and excretes. In the Hydra, the animal may be turned inside out, and the exterior surface will then digest and the stomach respire. In such cases natural selection might specialise, if any advantage were thus gained, the whole or part of an organ, which had previously performed two functions, for one function alone, and thus by insensible steps greatly change its nature. (Darwin 1872, emphasis mine)

Interestingly in the context of this quote Darwin presages the idea of exaptation or “preadaptation“, that structures or organs originally used for one function can, if they are no longer used for their primary purpose, be co-opted for other uses. This principle in both morphological and genetic contexts explains many (if not all) of the “irreducibly complex” features found in living things that creationists claim are unexplainable by evolutionary means.

Next we have the claim that the only source of new “information” is an “intelligent source”:

L.G.What is the source of that information encoded in the DNA? Dr. Stephen Meyer points out that

“Everything we know from our uniform and repeated experience is that information always comes from an intelligent source. So when we find information in the cell in the form of the digital code in DNA, the most likely explanation is that DNA also had an intelligent source.” (p.6)

And this claim by Meyer also traces back to its “creation science” forbearer:

Creationists maintain that highly ordered systems could not arise by chance, since random processes generate disorder rather than order, simplicity rather than complexity and confusion instead of “information.” …This means that, whenever one sees any kind of real ordered complexity in nature, particularly as found in living systems, he can be sure this complexity was designed. (Henry Morris 1979, emphasis mine)

Meyer’s is doing a double bait and switch here. First, ‘information’, we as natural intelligent beings generate (written language, computer programs etc.) comes, in our experience, from natural intelligent sources. If we started receiving alien sitcom reruns coming from the vicinity of Tau Ceti we would assume that the source of the signal was a natural intelligence, something like ourselves, using some technology comparable to what we use to broadcast TV and radio signals.

However, ID creationism advocates are not just calling upon their intelligent designer to create new information in the DNA of living things. They argue that the designer set up the conditions of the entire universe. Or as comedian Jon Stewart quipped when describing ID proponents: “they’re not saying its God, just someone with the basic skill set to create an entire working universe.” In other words they’re not arguing for another natural intelligence like ours at all, but a supernatural intelligence of a sort that is not part of “our uniform and repeated experience.”

Secondly we have no experience whatsoever of biological information being generated by anything other than natural processes (mutation and selection).

L.G. Dr. Michael Behe (Professor of Biochemistry, Lehigh University) says, “Molecular evolution is not based on scientific authority. There is no publication in the scientific literature—in prestigious journals, specialty journals, or books—that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred.” (p.7)

Putting this quote in context, it was said during his direct testimony, at the Dover Pennsylvania intelligent design trial (Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District). During the trial Behe was confronted with the scientific literature on one of the complex biochemical systems that he talked about in his book Darwin’s Black Box (1996), the immune system. The journal Nature published a commentary on what happened when he was cross-examined by one of the plaintiff’s attorneys’ on this subject:

During cross-examination by the plaintiffs’ lead counsel Eric Rothschild, Behe reiterated his claim about the scientific literature on the evolution of the immune system, testifying that “the scientific literature has no detailed testable answers on how the immune system could have arisen by random mutation and natural selection.” Rothschild then presented Behe with a thick file of publications on immune system evolution, dating from 1971 to 2006, plus several books and textbook chapters. Asked for his response, Behe admitted he had not read many of the publications presented (a small

fraction of all the literature on evolutionary immunology of the past 35 years), but summarily rejected them as unsatisfactory and dismissed the idea of doing research on the topic as “unfruitful.”

This exchange clearly made an impression on Judge Jones, who specifically described it in his opinion:

In fact, on cross-examination, Professor Behe was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with fifty-eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not ‘good enough.’

We find that such evidence demonstrates that the ID argument is dependent upon setting a scientifically unreasonable burden of proof for the theory of evolution.

Other important scientific points stood out during trial relating to other purported irreducibly complex systems such as the flagellum and the clotting cascade, the nature of science itself and the lack of experimental tests and supporting peer-reviewed publications for ID. But the stark contrast between the lively and productive field of evolutionary immunology and the stubborn refusal by ID advocates such as Behe to even consider the evidence was undoubtedly crucial in convincing the judge that the ID movement has little to do with science. As Rothschild remarked in his closing argument,

Thankfully, there are scientists who do search for answers to the question of the origin of the immune system. It’s the immune system. It’s our defense against debilitating and fatal diseases. The scientists who wrote those books and articles toil in obscurity, without book royalties or speaking engagements. Their efforts help us combat and cure serious medical conditions. By contrast, Professor Behe and the entire intelligent design movement are doing nothing to advance scientific or medical knowledge and are telling future generations of scientists, don’t bother. (Bottaro et al. 2006, p.)

So contrary to Behe’s claim there has been work published in the scientific literature on the evolution of complex biochemical systems, it is just that Dr. Behe doesn’t like what they have to say, or perhaps he doesn’t even care.

L.G. Breeding essentially mixes and matches among all the genes in an existing gene pool, much like you would shuffle and deal a deck of cards. But breeding cannot create new genes, any more than shuffling a deck can create new cards. (p.7)

Darwin didn’t even know about genetic mutations or DNA, he only spoke of variations. And while it is true that breeding (artificial selection) doesn’t create new genes, no one from Darwin onward ever claimed otherwise:

Man can hardly select, or only with much difficulty, any deviation of structure excepting such as is externally visible; and indeed he rarely cares for what is internal. He can never act by selection, excepting on variations which are first given to him in some slight degree by nature. No man would ever try to make a fantail till he saw a pigeon with a tail developed in some slight degree in an unusual manner, or a pouter till he saw a pigeon with a crop of somewhat unusual size; and the more abnormal or unusual any character was when it first appeared, the more likely it would be to catch his attention. (Darwin 1872, emphasis mine)

We now understand that mutations create new genes (new variations) randomly with respect to the needs of the organisms. Natural and artificial selection, which are both non-random processes, act on these mutations to produce adaptive (in the case of natural selection) changes in populations over time.

L.G. Plus, selective breeding of plants and animals is a process guided by intelligence, not mere chance and survival of the fittest—unlike Darwinian evolution.

Yet Darwinists from Charles Darwin to Francis Crick to Richard Dawkins have continued to cite selective breeding as if it were a powerful example of unguided “evolution”! (p.7)

Darwin cited artificial selection merely to show the power of selective processes to bring about morphological changes in living things and to argue that an analogous process (natural selection) could do likewise.

In the case of artificial selection it is the breeder who selects for some particular shape or color etc. in a plant or animal from the available variations they find in a captive population of organisms. Those they select are bred again, the rest are weeded out. With natural selection it is the differential reproductive success of organisms in their particular environments which “guides” adaptive changes.

L.G. What about the power of mutations to promote evolution by introducing dramatic changes in an organism—like adding an extra pair of wings to a fruit-fly? (p.7)

As is typical with antievolutionists they focus on large scale mutations (macromutations). While these are obvious and dramatic, they are not thought by most evolutionary biologists to play a major role in evolution compared to the smaller less obvious mutations, which all living things have in varying amounts.

L.G. Scientists are still struggling to understand the full impact of mutations on living things, but what they do know is that the vast majority of mutations are damaging to an organism or neutral. Far less than one percent might actually be beneficial. (p.7)

Also from another side bar:

L.G. Mutations are almost always harmful or neutral, and those that are beneficial cannot create genuinely new genetic information. (p.8)

This is yet more warmed over creationist rhetoric that they have been spouting for decades:

Creationists maintain that it is extremely doubtful if a truly beneficial mutation ever occurs. A random change in a highly complex and intricately coordinated machine could produce only disorder and loss of function. Even if a beneficial mutation could occur, a mutation could only bring about a change in an existing characteristic and thus could not create any new trait or generate increasing complexity. (Duane Gish 1975), emphasis mine)

Something that should always be remembered is that what is deleterious and what is beneficial are not necessarily absolutes. What might be a deleterious mutation in one environment may be beneficial in another. Nor do mutations that might be beneficial overall necessarily come without a downside.

For example a single copy of the sickle cell gene is beneficial for people in malaria ridden areas granting them resistance to the disease and therefore allowing them to survive at much higher rates than those with out the gene. The downside is persons born with two copies of the gene suffer from sickle cell anemia. So the distinction between deleterious and beneficial is not always clear cut.

L.G. So how can incomprehensibly complex organisms be the result of mutations that are rarely if ever beneficial? (p.7)

This can be so because natural selection acts as ratcheting filter, weeding out the large number of mutations that are deleterious, ignoring neutral mutations that may become deleterious or beneficial in an ever changing environment, and preserving the few beneficial (under present conditions) mutations that do occur.

L.G. As biologist Lynn Margulis at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has concluded: “New mutations don’t create new species; they create offspring that are impaired.” (p.7)

Setting aside this particular quote from Dr. Margulis (which comes from a newspaper article rather than a peer reviewed source), it is interesting nonetheless to note that they are quoting her at all. This is because she is a good counter example to their claims that anyone who questions the “Darwinian orthodoxy” is subject to censure and expulsion.

You see, despite the fact that Margulis is respected for her work on endosymbiotic theory – the now widely accepted explanation for the origin of eukaryotic cells (cells with a nucleus and organelles like chloroplastsmitochondria) – she has significantly parted ways with the majority of biologists in her fervor to promote symbiosis as a major explanatory factor in evolution. and

However, despite the fact that she is promoting a “non-Darwinian” mechanism for evolutionary change and often says unflattering things about neo-Darwinian theory, she has not been censured or expelled.

Not only is she not shunned by biologists with more traditional views but they sometimes even go out of there way to encourage the airing of her ideas in spite of their disagreement. For example one of Margulis’ more recent books (coauthored with her son Dorion Sagan) Acquiring Genomes: A theory of the origin of species (2002), argues that random mutation is of “marginal importance” in evolution and that a more significant source of new genes comes via what she calls “symbiotic merger”. But despite this blatant departure from standard neo-Darwinian theory the foreword of the book was written by the late Ernst Mayr (one of the founders of the modern evolutionary synthesis).

Mayr makes it clear in his foreword that he disagrees strongly with many of the ideas set forth in the book but nevertheless thinks that she and her coauthor have interesting and important things to say.

This seems greatly at odds with the idea that the “Darwinian establishment” squelches dissent. Perhaps it is because her ideas, though they may not be accepted by other biologists, are still natural testable hypotheses, not patently religious beliefs masquerading as science.

End part 1 of 2 (click here for part 2)

References

Bottaro Andrea et al (2006) “Immunology in the spotlight at the Dover ‘Intelligent Design’ trial“, Nature Immunology 7:433-435

Bourchier Wrey Savile (1885) The Neanderthal Skull on Evolution in an address supposed to be delivered A.D. 2085

Darwin, Charles (1872) On the Origin of Species, 6th Ed.

Huse, Scott (1983) The Collapse of Evolution

Morris, Henry & Parker, Gary (1987) What is Creation Science (Revised Edition).

175 thoughts on “Expelled’s intelligent design theory – this IS your daddy’s creationism (Part I)

  1. So if ID evolved from creationism, what’s your beef? Isn’t that the way evolution is supposed to work?

    BTW, Ben Stein really pinned Dawkins in Expelled. The old atheist fluffed his way through an awkard confession that it might be an intelligent race who evolved long ago from another planet who seeded life on earth. In other words, intelligent beings whose purpose was to plant life on this planet…ID from an theist and all caught on film. Sweeeet!

    What has Dawkins been reading lately – Erik Von Daniken???

    What a hoot!

  2. So if ID evolved from creationism, what’s your beef? Isn’t that the way evolution is supposed to work?

    Easily the dumbest thing I’ve read all day.

    You do know the difference in offering a remote possibility and also believing or supporting it?

    i think it is remotely possible that there is an invisible green dragon in your garage, but I seriously doubt it.

  3. Stushie,
    I was at a talk by Richard yesterday and he was asked about this.
    He said that he was bending over backwards to find a way that ID could explain life on Earth – he was trying to help them! But he does not believe that the alien explanation is remotely likely, and even that is far more plausible than the god hypothesis.

    Trust a creationist to twist his words!

  4. Stushie -

    You are right, the great scientist Ben Stein certainly pinned that codgery old atheist kook! Gosh, it was so great! (praise Jesus!) Ben Stein is so smart, he should have been a speechwriter for the President.

    Actually, he was! The greatest president in our nation’s history (and notorious anti-semite) Richard Milhous Nixon employed Mr. Stein during his time in office. I’m assuming this was before he set limits on how many Jews could have positions of power in his administration.

    Nevertheless, Ben Stein is truly a great man, with great integrity, who would never sell out his people or his beliefs to make a buck. In light of that, everything in the great documentary Expelled must be true. We need to seek out all the atheists in the world and put them in concentration camps, because that’s what they did to the Jews! Praise be to Jesus!

  5. Pingback: Expelled Exposed | The Michigan Independent

  6. Stushie,

    If you read here: http://richarddawkins.net/article,2394,Lying-for-Jesus,Richard-Dawkins

    You will find Mr. Dawkins in depth explaination of his answer as follows:
    “Another example. Toward the end of his interview with me, Stein asked whether I could think of any circumstances whatsoever under which intelligent design might have occurred. It’s the kind of challenge I relish, and I set myself the task of imagining the most plausible scenario I could. I wanted to give ID its best shot, however poor that best shot might be. I must have been feeling magnanimous that day, because I was aware that the leading advocates of Intelligent Design are very fond of protesting that they are not talking about God as the designer, but about some unnamed and unspecified intelligence, which might even be an alien from another planet. Indeed, this is the only way they differentiate themselves from fundamentalist creationists, and they do it only when they need to, in order to weasel their way around church/state separation laws. So, bending over backwards to accommodate the IDiots (“oh NOOOOO, of course we aren’t talking about God, this is SCIENCE”) and bending over backwards to make the best case I could for intelligent design, I constructed a science fiction scenario. Like Michael Ruse (as I surmise) I still hadn’t rumbled Stein, and I was charitable enough to think he was an honestly stupid man, sincerely seeking enlightenment from a scientist. I patiently explained to him that life could conceivably have been seeded on Earth by an alien intelligence from another planet (Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel suggested something similar — semi tongue-in-cheek). The conclusion I was heading towards was that, even in the highly unlikely event that some such ‘Directed Panspermia’ was responsible for designing life on this planet, the alien beings would THEMSELVES have to have evolved, if not by Darwinian selection, by some equivalent ‘crane’ (to quote Dan Dennett). My point here was that design can never be an ULTIMATE explanation for organized complexity. Even if life on Earth was seeded by intelligent designers on another planet, and even if the alien life form was itself seeded four billion years earlier, the regress must ultimately be terminated (and we have only some 13 billion years to play with because of the finite age of the universe). Organized complexity cannot just spontaneously happen. That, for goodness sake, is the creationists’ whole point, when they bang on about eyes and bacterial flagella! Evolution by natural selection is the only known process whereby organized complexity can ultimately come into being. Organized complexity — and that includes everything capable of designing anything intelligently — comes LATE into the universe. It cannot exist at the beginning, as I have explained again and again in my writings. ”

    You really should research before you speak.

  7. To Stushie, I believe Dawkins read ID literature so that when he was asked to comment he replied correctly that the only valid design “agents” would be space aliens. At least that is what Dembski, Luskin and Behe claim in their writings. as an example, Behe says, “Possible candidates for the role of designer include: the God of Christianity; an angel–fallen or not; Plato’s demi-urge; some mystical new age force; space aliens from Alpha Centauri; time travelers; or some utterly unknown intelligent being.” (“The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis,” Philosophia Christi, Series 2, Vol. 3, No. 1 (2001), pg. 165). Somehow the fact the ID does use space aliens as plausible agents is not mentioned in the movie.

  8. if you want to see Ben Stein get totally owned

    its part of a remarkable series called “Why People Laugh at Creationists”

    a must see!!!!

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  10. I just amazes me that people would fight to the death to be able to claim that their ancestry came from a monkey. Why would anyone want to believe such unproven theory? Do you guys really hate God so much that you would rather believe you came from a monkey than admit He created you? That’s really hard for me to believe and very sad. What’s worse is when you go back further than the monkey…everything came out of slim. So is that how much you are worth….are you worth only slim? God says you were made in His image which would make you worth much!

  11. It’s wonderful to see this blog feature on the WordPress homepage! This is such an important issue, and we can’t expect the mainstream news to handle it with an integrity. Kudos to you.

    I’ve been blogging about this on my wordpress blog too, only I”m focusing more on the religious aspects of ID instead of the Science of Evolution.:

    http://calvinlawson.wordpress.com/

    You might want to check out the part on Biblical Infallibility. It’s sad that this concept applies to something that should be pure Science, but that’s the way things are right now.

  12. Ben Stein’s documentary seems to have all the atheist’s panties in a bundle. But anyways, speaking of atomic theory and germ theory, they both make the most sense when ID is accounted for as opposed to Evolution. An atom itself bears the marks of irreducible complexity and intelligence because atoms serve a purpose, are complex, and come together in a precise way, as opposed to another precise way. I would say the same for how micro-organisms behave such as in germ theory. Finally, I wanted to add that Evolution generally assumes naturalism. Why it does I’m not sure and would really like to know. Evolution, as viewed through a purely natural lens, can’t account for anything happening for a reason or purpose. Things just happen to happen how they happen. How can you be consistent as an Evolutionist (if also a naturalist) and really believe that things don’t mutate randomly???

    You said “A theme that runs throughout this document is another creationist staple; that being a not so subtle attempt to characterize evolution as a “random”, “accidental”, process, here are the to most blatant examples”

    Please help…

  13. sarah,

    If you seriously believe that evolution says that we are descended from monkeys, then you have drunk way too much creationist kool-aid. Evolution merely states that humans and apes (and monkeys — which are not apes) have a common ancestor (neither human, ape, nor monkey).

    I daresay you are seeking the truth; well, so are we! We evolutionists did not come to our conclusion by chance — our scientists have amassed a huge mountain of evidence and spent countless hours researching the issue, and so far there is no indication that evolution is wrong. It could well be so, but for now there is no evidence against it. Nor is ID/creationism a viable replacement for it.

    As for the Bible, perhaps you would benefit from a course on its history, particularly that of the Old Testament. You may find that Genesis is not as factually reliable as you first thought…

  14. My first reaction to these comments is, how the heck are people posting tomorrow? Today is April 22, yet the posts are from April 23… Besides that remarkable occurrence, the argument that it sucks if evolution is correct and we came from monkeys is fallacious. The fact that a fact is bad isn’t a reason that disproves the fact. I suppose you can believe whatever you like; stick your head in the sand like an ostrich. The lion is still there despite your non-belief, and he’s still going to eat you. He’s just going to think you’re dumb before he chows down.

    As for Cameron’s assertion that atoms are evidence of design and creation, that seems to assume that what we observe with atoms is design. If we could have a definition of what design is, then we could test it against what we observe when examining atoms. But since we have no definition of what design is, we’re just told that design is what we mean when we point at this, we can’t really test this hypothesis.

    Moving on the assertion that evolution assumes naturalism is also misguided. Evolution is based on what is observable. There’s mo assumption in favor of naturalism or theism. Just a reporting based on the evidence observed.

    As for evolution not being able to countenance random mutation, that’s a blatant mischaracterization. Random mutation is the basis for evolutionary theory. Randomness is factored out when we examine the forces driving evolution. That certain things are selected for isn’t random. Those things which survive and therefore breed more profusely win out. A random mutation that gives one critter a slight advantage over another leads to more of the advantaged critter. What survives isn’t selected at random. What survives is the organism with the best set of mutations to advantage it over competitors.

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  16. An atom itself bears the marks of irreducible complexity and intelligence because atoms serve a purpose, are complex, and come together in a precise way, as opposed to another precise way.

    Errr … atoms are very much reducible. They consist of electrons and a nucleus, which in turn is composed of protons and neutron, which in turn are made up of up and down quarks held together by gluons.

    But of course, when we get to that level, we do indeed seem to have reached something irreducible. If that makes you happy. Still don’t see how that entails goddidit.

    As for ‘purpose’ and ‘com[ing] together in a precise way, as opposed to another precise way’ I have nooooooo idea what you’re on about. Do you mean to imply that there’s some other groundstate for quarks to come together in that would make matter as we know it unstable?

  17. #9 choose reality…Dawkins explanation…wow! what a lot of fluff and filibuster! I used to work for insurance and it always amazed me that the person who was trying to defend their actions with a lie always wrote big explanations.

    It seems that Dawkins is embarassed by what is on film! He and Bill Clinton should team up together.

    And an old codger like Ben catching Dawkins the Dodger – priceless!

  18. The Darwin out of context quote — gets used all the time, all it says is that Darwin was very intellectually honest and included all the potential objections in the book (and refuted them)!

  19. Cameron,

    “irreducible complexity” is an ID buzzword. The only other use is in Emergence, or Complexity Theory, to describe NP-hard problems.

    I suggest you learn the language of Evolution, not just ID, if you wish to talk about it in an educated way. Otherwise I recommend you only talk to those who already agree with you.

  20. Josh James, you said “Randomness is factored out when we examine the forces driving evolution. That certain things are selected for isn’t random. Those things which survive and therefore breed more profusely win out. A random mutation that gives one critter a slight advantage over another leads to more of the advantaged critter. What survives isn’t selected at random. What survives is the organism with the best set of mutations to advantage it over competitors.”

    The videos I watched in biology class in High School claimed that mutations were random. So it isn’t only non-Evolutionists who misrepresent Evolution, but sometimes Evolutionists themselves. Anyways, you would be more consistent in believing in ID when you say you believe natural selection explains the evolutionary process. That is, mindless matter cannot know what is an “advantage” and what is not. Survival of the fittest assumes that mindless matter favors survival over non-survival for some reason. As a Christian I know why life is important, but from an Evolutionary standpoint there is an explanation which is without explanation.

    Sili, I look at an atom and see that it 1. has purpose (to give us matter, which gives us stuff), and 2. it is irreducibly complex in the sense that if you take away one of its many yet needed parts (electrons, protons, neutrons, etc), it fails to be a working atom. An atom must precisely have it’s intended parts or it will not work. If I open a set of legos with a spaceship on the cover, I need precise parts for a spaceship, as opposed to a house. These are marks of intelligence: purpose, complexity, and specificity.

  21. calvinlawson, Do you suggest I replace my buzzwords with Evolutionary buzzwords which if Evolution were true couldn’t be used? Some of these examples would be: “favorable”, “advantageous”, and “fittest”. Mindless matter can’t account for minds, and certainly can’t account for know if something is either of these buzzwords.

  22. sarah said
    it just amazes me that people would fight to the death to be able to claim that their ancestry came from a monkey. Why would anyone want to believe such unproven theory? Do you guys really hate God so much that you would rather believe you came from a monkey than admit He created you? That’s really hard for me to believe and very sad. What’s worse is when you go back further than the monkey…everything came out of slim. So is that how much you are worth….are you worth only slim? God says you were made in His image which would make you worth much!

    oh sarah where does one begin when confronted with such blatant ignorance. first, we’re not fighting to the death, were merely pointing out how ignorant and deceptive creotards claims are.
    If you knew anything about evolution, which you clearly have shown you don’t, you would know that we didn’t evolve from monkeys.
    In addition, god does not exist. we don’t hate your imaginary friend. After all, its imaginary. its like hating santa claus. there’s no point.
    Also, yes, we can trace our origins 4.5 billions years back to fish. we can provide transitional fossils to show the evolution of man and we can provide evidence of speciation. Unlike you we value our lives and think they are worth more than anything. we would never cheapen this life with the thought of sucking imaginary god cock in order to get to some supposed afterlife. Your childish beliefs cheapen and degrade the awesome wonder of the universe.
    But i digress…
    Let me ask you, there is a particulary deadly strain of tuberculosis going around. We know this because the CDC has been tracking its progress. Anyone who has it, is basically quarantined – its that bad. So let me ask you, if you do contract this disease, and i certainly hope you don’t, will you ask your doctor for the drugs that killed the tuberculosis 20 years ago, or do you want the new drugs that kill the EVOLVED bacteria. I guess the question is, are you a fool or a hypocrite?

  23. You’re very correct that mindless matter doesn’t know what is an advantage. As was stated in the above piece, something that’s an advantage in one case may be deleterious in another instance. There’s no selection for any particular feature.

    Those features that lead to greater reproductive output are advantageous. There’s not a selection for anything just environmental pressures that reward certain features.

    And, atoms are not irreducibly complex. They gain and looses electrons all the time. They change isotopes by picking up or loosing neutrons. Removing those pieces doesn’t prevent them from working.

    Your assertion that atoms are “meant” to give us matter assumes the answer you want. If one goes seeking a purpose in everything, you’re likely to find it whether there’s a purpose or not. Atoms are not like the legos you reference, as pointed out in the article. If legos had some sort of innate attraction to join together, as atoms do with their chemical properties, then the analogy might work. As facts stand legos are inert.

    I’m still trying to figure out how today got to be tomorrow…

  24. “Mindless matter can’t account for minds, and certainly can’t account for know if something is either of these buzzwords.”

    Cameron, I apologize if I seemed harsh; it’s just that if you are interested in making statements about this debate it’s important to know both the Intelligent Design language and the language of Evolution.

    The term “Irreducible complexity” in this context refers to the hypothesis of Michael Behe. This could be an interesting area of research, but so far Michael Behe’s evidence has not held up under peer review.

    It would be possible to disprove the Standard Theory, if you found examples of organisms that could not have evolved by small changes over time. In contrast, can you point at one testable conclusion that would disprove Intelligent Design? This issue is at the heart of the matter.

    One thing you need to understand, the theory of evolution was not dreamed up to spoil the Young Earth Creationists good time! It was not created to give godless commie atheists ammunition! It is a scientific theory that best fits the facts we have. It might be discredited at some point, but it is the best we’ve got so far. And if it is discredited, it will be by scientific evidence, not wishful thinking or philosophy.

    Regarding your statements about mindless matter; again you are showing your ignorance. Just like the earth does not “know” to go around the sun, competing and cooperating organisms form what is called a “fitness landscape”, in which organisms “mindlessly” navigate in the same way the planets orbit their stars, and electrons orbit the nucleus.

    Leibniz spoke of monads that had minds, and he meant it in manner above. But you get this confused with consciousness. Speaking of that; you are made of matter and yet you have a mind. Further proof of the existence of matter with mind should not be necessary even to the most skeptical among us! Your addition of the “aether” of mind seems unnecessary to me; accept the fact that YOU ARE HERE, and then try to discover how that came to be.

    Good luck!

  25. Sarah, I am sure you are a nice person but your ignorance is appalling. Darwin did not try to explain how life began; his theory attempts to explain the diversity of life. The study of the theory of evolution is, to me anyway, a work-in-progress and as the years go by more and more boxes are being ticked. I am quite happy to believe we came from monkeys. Why should I not be so? It makes more sense than believing a book that was cobbled together hundreds of years ago by people with different agendas, years after the supposed events took place. Finally, my dear, as to hating God. How can an atheist hate something that does not exist?

  26. “Mindless matter can’t account for minds”

    There is Nobel prize for you if you can prove this one, or more generally, the assertion that there are no emergent properties at all. It is like saying that atoms can’t account for molecules, or molecules can’t account for galaxies, because atoms don’t behave like galaxies. Many features of the natural world that we see are not properties of the constituent parts, but in how they act together.

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  28. Cameron wrote: The videos I watched in biology class in High School claimed that mutations were random.

    That’s correct in general. Because of the strength/weakness of chemical bonds, for example, when one gets down to the details there may be physical reasons why some mutations may be more likely than others. And there may be physical reasons why certain living things are more likely to have mutations occur (for example, Australians living on Bondi Beach may be more subject to UV-induced skin cell mutations and resulting cancers than folks living in Seattle). But yes, fundamentally, mutations are a lottery – whether UV radiation hits that one particular molecule in your skin cell’s DNA, and whether that cell with its altered DNA survives and multiplies are pretty much chance events.

    The next step in Darwin’s theory is *not* random. This is natural selection, which acts on the variations that mutation makes possible. It’s the simple but profound observation that some variations are more successful at surviving and therefore passing their characteristics (we’d now say their genes) to future generations.

    From your previous comments, Cameron, I think you’re getting confused by the fact that the first step (mutation, causing variation) is random. That doesn’t mean evolution as a whole is a random process, just that randomly caused variation is one of the engines driving the process.

  29. Cameron said:
    “The videos I watched in biology class in High School claimed that mutations were random.”

    That is correct — mutations (changes in alleles, but NOT changes in allele expression) ARE random occurences; but are quantifiable. I forget the exact percentage, but it’s less than 5% (I think it’s even less than 1%).

    However — the mutations are random but the SELECTIVE PRESSURES (this is some of the “evolution language” you would need to learn) of the environment cause certain germ lines to be better adapted for survival whereas others are not.

    There’s a mutant strain of flavobacteria that autonomously developed the enzymes necessary to digest NYLON. (A synthetic polymer developed by humans in 1956). The population of flavobacteria that lives in that small body of water (nearby a factory where nylon is a waste product) are almost exclusively the mutated variety, since that mutation is so beneficial those bacteria were far more successful in reproducing and passing on their DNA.

    Other selective pressures include the presence of certain diseases, such as malaria — having sickle cell anemia may ultimately lead to your demise, but it makes you less likely to contract malaria; so you can at least survive long enough to reproduce; and that’s all it needs. Hemochromatosis is a mutation that causes the body to sequester too much iron away throughout the body (you literally rust to death) which ultimately will kill you if left unchecked — but it’s a terrific defense against pathogens such as the Bubonic Plague (seriously.), which thrive on the iron found in phagocytes / white blood cells.

    Cameron then said:
    “That is, mindless matter cannot know what is an “advantage” and what is not. Survival of the fittest assumes that mindless matter favors survival over non-survival for some reason.”

    This is wrong — the matter doesn’t need to know what is advantageous and what isn’t — evolution doesn’t happen at an individual level, it happens at a population level. When selective pressures are applied, genetic variations (alleles) that are FAVORABLE for the selective pressure will continue to reproduce, whereas NON-FAVORABLE alleles will slowly decay away. THAT is survival of the fittest.
    As an odd analogy: let’s say you had a circuit that randomly spouted out random numbers, and another circuit that only allowed odd numbers to pass through — the first circuit represents genetic drift (mutations) which are RANDOM; the second circuit represents selective pressure applied by the environment (also random) — the end result is a population of numbers that is perfectly fitted to the environment (the second circuit) — no intelligent intervention required — just a randomized source and a randomized filter.

    Cameron said:
    “1. has purpose (to give us matter, which gives us stuff)”

    Atoms don’t have purpose. All the atoms in the universe could care less if they help you, or me, or anyone. They are just *there*. The only thing atoms really want is a full octet of electrons in their valence shell — seeking this out (which occurs randomly — except there is such an abundance of atoms it happens randomly quite often) leads to more stable arrangements of molecules. That’s about the limit of their determinism.

    Cameron said:
    “2. it is irreducibly complex in the sense that if you take away one of its many yet needed parts (electrons, protons, neutrons, etc), it fails to be a working atom.”

    Ahh — but here’s the rub — and this is exactly why irreducibly complex arguments fail in biology as well: Take away an electron… you have an ion. Take away a proton — you have a different element. Take away a neutron — you have an isotope. The unit itself changes its nature, but it is still fully functional.

    Same thing with I.C. in biology — a flagellum was ultimately developed over time from things with an entirely different function. the Type III secretory system most closely resembles the formative parts of the flagellum.

    You can change the form, but the function also changes — we see this in secondary structures of proteins as well.

    Cameron said:
    An atom must precisely have it’s intended parts or it will not work. If I open a set of legos with a spaceship on the cover, I need precise parts for a spaceship, as opposed to a house. These are marks of intelligence: purpose, complexity, and specificity.

    Atoms works just fine as isotopes and ions — that’s the very basis of radioactivity (isotopes) and pretty much ALL chemical reactions.

    I understand HOW you are reaching that conclusion, but it’s incorrect. Nature doesn’t work on the basis of “well, I really need *this* so that’s what I need to work towards.” The legos may be POSSIBLY arranged into a spaceship — but that’s not their only destiny, is it? My lego arrangements as a child frequently looked QUITE different from the picture on the box. If you were to randomize the arrangements of the legos, but apply some simple rules for selective pressure (perhaps certain arrangements are more “stable” than others) you will see an increase in stability which will appear to be an increase in complexity.

    That’s where the “tornado passing through a junkyard –> 747″ argument fails — things aren’t ONLY randomly combined. The idea of selective pressure is *EXTREMELY* important — you can’t consider these things in a vacuum; you have to consider the environmental pressures as well as genetic drift.

    Check out the website: http://answersincreation.org — they have a lot of explanations for Evolution and other aspects of science that are reconciled with Christianity specifically — it may help explain things in a context that is more in line with your beliefs.

  30. Great job! I also picked the Leader’s Guide apart at my blog, http://www.wheatdogg.com. It wasn’t hard to do, given the source material, but tracking down the sources of the quotes was time consuming.

    The Guide is as every bit as bad as the movie.

    I’d welcome comments on my handiwork.

  31. The videos I watched in biology class in High School claimed that mutations were random. So it isn’t only non-Evolutionists who misrepresent Evolution, but sometimes Evolutionists themselves. Anyways, you would be more consistent in believing in ID when you say you believe natural selection explains the evolutionary process.

    Mutations are random.

    Survival is less so.

    Not completely, of course. There are plenty of people with brown hair and brown eyes, and plenty of people with blond hair and blue eyes, suggesting that whichever one of those is a mutation doesn’t significantly impact survival rates.

  32. Sarah says:

    Do you guys really hate God so much that you would rather believe you came from a monkey than admit He created you?

    Do you really hate God so much that you have to put Him in an increasingly smaller box, where He is only capable of doing things nobody can understand?

  33. Kudos to everyone who has tackled this “Guide” in perverting easily accessible knowledge on a basic science theory. Different individuals would have responded differently, without meaning a serious critique, so I will expand on some points.

    The whole section seems to be little more than a reiteration of the anthropic principle which always struck me as something akin to being surprised that our legs are long enough to reach the ground.

    Well, it isn’t. There are several possible AP’s, but none mixes that with anthropic finetuning to result in a false probability claim. As only religious persons do this I call it “the religious anthropic argument”.

    The article gives never the less one of the best answers to the texas sharpshooter fallacy of the religious argument (substituting a posteriori likelihoods with a priori probabilities): any probabilistic version of AP that results in the observable result of at least one instance of biosphere would have to have a substantial likelihood for it.

    the archetypal creationist out-of-context quotation

    It’s not only taken out of context, in context the text they use support the opposite conclusion. It is a scientific lie, plain and simple.

  34. random processes generate disorder rather than order, simplicity rather than complexity and confusion instead of “information.”

    As creationists refuse to define such concepts as disorder, complexity and “information” as applied to biology, one can’t really discuss the topic sensibly with them. Except to say that this is bass-ackwards for normally used information measures.

    The commonly used Shannon information and algorithmic information theories maximizes information when a process generates random results. In the former case because you need redundancy to express a message, so you will lower the information over the Shannon channel. In the later case because you need a less compressible algorithm to describe random messages.

    So I think the creationism blather on information is a triple bait-and switch, actually.

    However, what they really mean is that it excludes supernatural intelligent guidance. This makes evolutionary theory no different than any other scientific theory.

    This is a controversial point. For myself I adhere to the physicist Sean Carroll/biologist Dawkins camp: with or without a suitable definition of “supernatural”, any irregular agency instead of regular process is both unlikely and unparsimonious. (Dawkins famously defines a creator when he discusses creationism. Carroll doesn’t, he discusses natural processes only.)

    So FWIW my take is that natural processes excludes teleology because of simple characteristics of the working process of science. (So theistic evolution is not even wrong.) If creationists of any stripe wants to change that they have to do what we constantly ask of them, the work to get positive proof.

  35. So Aaron, you’re basically saying “what survives, survives”. That has no explanatory power as to how the process of macro Evolution takes place. This is why Evolution is at best a theory. There is no rhyme of reason as to how things evolve. Saying something is “favorable” makes not sense. Matter does not deem itself “favorable” when it is arranged in a certain way as opposed to another way. It just is what it is.

    Further, intelligent design is proven because of this forum. All your responses require you to use the laws of logic. But the laws of logic can’t be accounted for by natural processes. Only from other intelligence.

  36. So Aaron, you’re basically saying “what survives, survives”.

    I don’t think that’s what he is saying. Those that are more favoured to survive in a given environment are the ones more likey to survive (to pass on their genes to make fertile offspring).

    That has no explanatory power as to how the process of macro Evolution takes place. This is why Evolution is at best a theory.

    Sure its a theory. Just like the atomic theory of matter, the germ theory of disease, the theory of relativity, kinetic molecular theory, etc. Being a theory is the best thing there is in science.

    There is no rhyme of reason as to how things evolve. Saying something is “favorable” makes not sense. Matter does not deem itself “favorable” when it is arranged in a certain way as opposed to another way. It just is what it is.

    Even in pure chemistry there are favoured reactions that are predictable based on the reaction and the environmenmt in which it takes place. The only thing missing there is reproduction, which life does well.

    Further, intelligent design is proven because of this forum. All your responses require you to use the laws of logic. But the laws of logic can’t be accounted for by natural processes. Only from other intelligence

    You are equivovcating between ordinary design (which we already know is amenable to science, think archeology) and the rarefied, disembodied design by supposed elimination of material causes that epitomizes Intelligent Design.

  37. Dave S, you haven’t explained how mindless matter deems something “favorable” as opposed to non-favorable. Mindless matter in motion CANNOT do this. It makes no sense whatsoever. It is just borrowed language. Evolution is barely a theory because the mechanism by how it functions, “survival of what survives”, has no explanatory power. Evolution can’t even explain what “survival” is or what “living” is!

    These are just borrowed terms from other worldviews which make no sense if Evolution were true and ID were not. Matter does not know what surviving is and what living is, nor why it should do these things as opposed to not do these things.

    If Evolution were true, 1. no one could argue, and 2. no one could be right or wrong if arguing. Weeds growing in the yard don’t argue.

  38. If Evolution were true and ID were not, we wouldn’t even have scientific theories. To have a plausible theory you must first be able to do science. Science requires an observer (who uses the laws of logic). It makes no sense to have a theory which says “people evolved from non-intelligence, to then have intelligence, and happen to come up with theories”.

  39. Amen, Cameron.

    By the way, NOT ALL followers of Creationism believe in a young Earth. There are plenty of people that value both real science AND biblical faith. For a wealth of information on the topic (i.e. good, testable science AND a logical, defensible faith position working in harmony) visit http://www.reasons.org/.

  40. Cameron, I am only a layman not a scientist but I am certain you are stating a load of rubbish with your comments and I am sure PZ would destroy your arguments in a second. One question; what laws of logic and what testable evidence is there for ID? It never ceases to amuse me that the creationists and ID enthusiasts can never come up with anything testable to confirm their views. They rely only on trying to refute science and evolution, using vague untestable cliams for the purpose of promoting their ideas. A form of pseudoscience!

  41. Dave S, you haven’t explained how mindless matter deems something “favorable” as opposed to non-favorable. Mindless matter in motion CANNOT do this.

    The matter does not have to “deem” anything favourable. It just is. How do a pair of fair dice, both mindless bits of matter unaware of the other let alone the world around them, still manage to favour a total of 7 when rolled over a total of 2? Not only that, it’s predicable how much 7 will be favoured by … 6 to 1.

    Of the rest, I have little idea of what you’re saying.

  42. Cameron: Dave S. did not explain how “mindless matter” deems something as favorable because he actually explained to you how “mindless matter” is not the object that does the “deeming” – it is environment that does that. Think of it this way; squeeze an egg. At what point does the egg “give up” and “decide” to crack? It doesn’t, of course; the stress you exert on the components of the egg has a large-scale effect on the egg as a whole.

    Also, you’re quite wrong about if evolution is true nobody could argue: Relativity is true, and yet plenty of peple argued about it, and still do to this day. There are a few “anti-Relativity” kooks out there, believe me. There are even some trying to resurrect Platonic Cosmology.
    Your second assertion (about weeds arguing) is based on your same ridiculous conflation of the idea that if evolution is correct, then minds cannot exist, thus we could not argue about anything. Evolutionary theory in no way precludes the development of intelligence. Indeed, intelligence is certainly a survival trait for a small, relatively innocuous and entirely defenseless hominid living on a plain in Africa 2 million years ago, surrounded by predators and looking for food, shelter and water, wouldn’t you say?

    (Not sure why I ask that – of course you wouldn’t say that…)

  43. Cameron said:
    Further, intelligent design is proven because of this forum. All your responses require you to use the laws of logic. But the laws of logic can’t be accounted for by natural processes. Only from other intelligence.

    Actually, the responses in this forum did NOT require the use of logic (for examples, see posts by Stushie and Sarah.) Since human response is not bound to the laws of logic, then it follows God does not exist. QED

  44. Cameron wrote: Dave S, you haven’t explained how mindless matter deems something “favorable” as opposed to non-favorable. Mindless matter in motion CANNOT do this.

    Cameron’s worldview explained in a story -

    Three friends are having an argument over what is the greatest invention of all time. The first picks the wheel; the second, fire; the third, the Thermos. The other two are surprised:

    “The Thermos? Why?”

    “Well, you put something hot in it, it stays hot. You put something cold in it, it stays cold, right?

    “Yeah, so what?”

    “How does it KNOW?”

  45. You have all given wonderful examples which back micro evolution NOT macro evolution.

    MartinOne question; what laws of logic and what testable evidence is there for ID? It never ceases to amuse me that the creationists and ID enthusiasts can never come up with anything testable to confirm their views. They rely only on trying to refute science and evolution, using vague untestable cliams for the purpose of promoting their ideas. A form of pseudoscience!

    I’m not sure what your question is on the laws of logic? Not everything scientists assume is testable, ex. macro Evolution one “species” to another) and the big bang. Yet, all scientists make inferences. Otherwise there would be no science. I can make an inference that something was designed as opposed to not designed.

    Michael, you’re very funny. However, you prove my point all the more because you assert that logic must be a certain way to be logical as opposed to another way, illogical. When I say logic I mean the laws of logic. Nothing in nature says these laws ‘ought’ to function the way they do, yet we assume they must, otherwise our intelligence and communication would cease to be rational. This is better accounted for by assuming ID theory then not assuming it.

  46. Cameron says:

    But the laws of logic can’t be accounted for by natural processes.

    Laws of logic? Laws of logic? What, so I’m going to be tracked down by the Logic Police and dragged along to Logic Court and thrown into Logic Jail?

    People don’t actually work by laws of logic – the mental process is more like set theory with a small and personally constructed example set. If you say “there are a bunch of blocks in a box. Some of them are square, and some of them are green. Are there any green squares?” then most people will say ‘yes’ and do 5 to 10 with the Logic Chain Gang, because it ain’t necessarily so. But people take a mental set of blocks, and make some of them squares and splash some green on, and hey, there are some green squares!

    Even teaching people how to think logically is more an exercise in refinement of the sample set than it is in molding any particular thought process.

    The laws of logic are entirely made up.

  47. I’m sort of partial to Sarah’s implication that “all life comes from slim,” though I can’t quite reconcile the fossil record with the idea of a cowboy as our common ancestor.

  48. Cameron, I must confess I give up on this issue. Nothing you say, about logic, laws of logic, or whatever, makes any sense. Logic is not an issue for evolution. Furthermore, from reading the responses of others, who try to make reasoned comments, I feel they know they are not getting through your wall of irrational thinking. And you still have not answered my question, you have merely diverted it by raising a query. Forget logic then, what testable evidence is there for your beliefs? Plain simple language will do, not pseudoscience language.

  49. Cameron,
    Whoever said that the theory of evolution applies to atoms? Can you please point me to the biology textbook that says this? If you cannot, please explain why you are making accusations that have no basis.

    And are you really sure you want to be saying we can’t explain what survival is? Penguin 1 dives into the ocean and is eaten by a shark. Penguin 2 dives into the ocean dives into the ocean and is not eaten by a shark. Which penguin exhibits survival in this case? Take your time.

  50. Glazius said “The laws of logic are entirely made up.”

    You are using and assuming the laws of logic to even say that.

    borehole , you bring up a good point. There is no proof that we evolved from “slime”. This is not part of micro evolution nor macro evolution which explain changes in species and the origin of species. How “life” comes from non-life is a philosophical question thus far.

    Beasley, I did not first bring up atoms. The Evolutionists on this blog first said other theories, such as germ theory and atomic theory are just as plausible as Evolutionary theory. I’m saying we can’t even have theories if ID isn’t true. Only observers (using the laws of logic) can make theories. Mindless matter can’t produce a mind. However, mindless man can think it can.

    Your Penguin example begs the question. First, to say something survives you have to say it is living. To say it is living you have to define what living is. Is it when something breathes? Not all “living” things breathe. Is it when something moves? But even dust moves. Really, there is no surviving and no living. Everything is just matter in motion.

    sidenote: And “natural selection”? What is natural?! Everything is natural. Me arguing against Evolution is just a by-product of nature. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just part of nature. If the sky turns pink tomorrow, it’s natural. Nature is whatever happens. Whatever happens is natural. What is natural isn’t defined by what “ought” to happen, but only by what “does” happen.

  51. Glazius, the laws of science didn’t “fall from the sky” either. They were “made up” by scientist over the years to explain phenomenon. They’re not written down in the fossil record or anything, so how can you argue that the laws of logic (which accurately describe part of our world just as the scientific laws do) are made up?

  52. Cameron Said:

    Your Penguin example begs the question. First, to say something survives you have to say it is living. To say it is living you have to define what living is. Is it when something breathes? Not all “living” things breathe. Is it when something moves? But even dust moves. Really, there is no surviving and no living. Everything is just matter in motion.

    Answer my question. Which penguin survived? Why can’t you answer that question?

    Also, how do you respond to the fact that Expelled is now being sued for copyright infringement?

    Can you answer any questions?

    Can you show me the biology textbook that says the theory of evolution applies to atoms? Why can’t you answer any of my questions?

  53. Martin said, “Forget logic then, what testable evidence is there for your beliefs? Plain simple language will do, not pseudoscience language.”

    Well, unfortunately, due to the rules of the game, the best method available freely to all to test such a belief system is for you to die. At the point, you will either clearly have been correct as an non-deist evolutionist… proven by the fact that you’ll cease to be “intelligent” your self per your new status as non-existent and having relinquished your randomly assembled atomic matter back to the universe. Or you will have been incorrect and have other problems. I can understand the agnostic evolutionist’s plight… but it’s an exercise in futility… even if your point were true, which is not my view obviously,… it doesn’t help.

  54. dsmith77, great point. Further, the laws of nature are simply unvarying uniformities. In other words, occurrences which don’t change. However, once major difference between the laws of logic and laws of nature is that laws of logic CAN’T change. Otherwise we would be illogical. However, laws of nature can change, yet would still be considered laws. They would just act differently. The laws of logic do not describe “how” we identify things, but rather how we “ought” to identify things. Without identifying things according to the laws of logic, we can’t be logical.

  55. Martin, one of the problems the whole creation-vs-evolution debate tries to address is the fact that evolution, when used in reference to the origin of life, overlaps areas of religion, philosophy, and (yes) logic. We cannot know for certain what happened at the singularity to bring about the big bang and the universe. You asked where the proof is, where the testable evidence is (the science). The answer is that there is none (not even for science). We cannot look back at that moment earlier than about 300,000 years after the big bang. We can build theories (and many people have) to explain how the universe progressed from the beginning, but we cannot measure or scientifically probe what happened at the moment of the beginning of time. This is an area of uncertainty and as such is open to interpretation by the religious and philosophical communities.

    And that causes a lot of people to get very emotional.

    Strangely, since science is all about what can be measured, science *should* have no say whatsoever in what caused the universe to form and *should* not care either. In short, it should deal only with what came after the moment of the singularity. The fact is scientists are human too with all the emotions and innate desires that go along with it and they can’t just let this issue – the ultimate issue of why we’re here and where we came from – go to be debated exclusively by others. And I don’t think they should have to. It’s too important an issue.

  56. V, what is reproduction? Is it when something continues itself? Does the wind reproduce then? Is wind living according to you?

    Beasly, one penguin’s matter stopped being in motion, and another penguin’s matter stayed in motion. Again, what do you mean by survival? If you mean when something ceases to be in motion, then the penguin who got eaten stopped surviving. But then maybe it is still surviving, because the wind blows its body parts around, thus perhaps it is still considered to be alive. You still need to give a definition of “survival” and I can answer your question from a naturalistic standpoint.

  57. Cameron stutters:

    “Beasly, one penguin’s matter stopped being in motion, and another penguin’s matter stayed in motion. Again, what do you mean by survival?”

    WHICH ONE IS ALIVE? If you can’t wrap your mind around survival meaning “staying alive,” then why the hell should we have you teaching a high school biology course?

    Answer the question!

    Also, how do you react to the makers of Expelled being sued for copyright infringement and where is this magical high school biology textbook that says the theory of evolution applies to atoms?

    Why can’t you answer questions!? Are you making a run for a political office?

  58. dsmith; your assertion that “Strangely, since science is all about what can be measured, science *should* have no say whatsoever in what caused the universe to form and *should* not care either” is faulty. By that assumption, science should not have tried to peer into the atom, since before the advent of the techniques to do so, it was impossible. Science is desperately concerned with what can be measured, yes, but it also is concerned with taking that information and extending it to map out things that we cannot currently see or measure directly. If your world-view was correct, we would not have proceeded beyond the Greeks’ elemental view of the universe.

    The “laws of logic” argument is pretty hollow, I’m sorry to say. Yes, there are certain logical laws, in the sense of “if A then B”, which are fundamental. Numeric logic is founded on mathematics, which appears to be a natural product of the Universe (mathematicians speak of “discovering” rather than “inventing” mathematical theorems), and that numeric logic forms the basis of some forms of logic. Boolean logic is the simplest type, of course (simple yes/no, if/then) but it, too can be extended.

    That said, there is little logic if any on display from the Creationist side of the argument, since logic depends first and foremost on the arrangement of fact, and creationists have little facts at hand.

    Here’s a logical arrangement of the simplest type that even creationists could follow.

    “GIVEN that life exists, and GIVEN that self-organizing systems exist within organic compounds, THEREFORE life is an organic, self-organizing system.”

    Creationist arguments of same would have to have a different set of initial conditions (e.g. GIVEN that God exists, which is NOT a given).

    Since the “givens” that Creationists and IDers adhere to are certainly not givens, there is no inherent logic in their arguments.

    Martin: “Forget logic then, what testable evidence is there for your beliefs?”

    OK.. the fossil record, observed genetic changes in organisms, familial relationships between species, shared structures between related species, shared genomes between species, transitional forms in the fossil record, etc, etc, etc.

    Now: what TESTABLE evidence is there for yours? I showed you (some) of mine.

  59. Cameron: “what do you mean by survival?”

    Uh.. how about (to use your vague terms) “remaining in motion long enough to reproduce”.

  60. V, when cold and hot air collide, this usually produces wind. Again, is wind alive to you?

    Beasley, you can’t first tell me what you mean by the term “alive” itself. How can I tell you which one survives from an Evolutionary standpoint, when I can’t first know what being “alive” is from an Evolutionary standpoint? Just because you are asking me to do the impossible, doesn’t mean I’m avoiding your question.

    It’s funny. You can’t even tell me what it is to be “alive”. How, then do you expect mindless matter to tell!!!!! This is what Evolutionists believe though!

    I wasn’t aware that the makers of Expelled are being sued. My opinion is that that sucks for them. What do you think about it?

    I never said the theory of Evolution applies to atoms. That notion was first raised by the author of this blog. I can see how atomic theory reinforces ID and how ID reinforces atomic theory. That has been my point from the beginning.

  61. *sigh*… Cameron…. Alive: (n) having existence in the physical world: the quality that makes living animals and plants different from dead organisms and inorganic matter, including the ability to take in food, adapt to the environment, grow, and reproduce. Simple definition.. The “evolutionary definition” is about the same.

    And if you can “how atomic theory reinforces ID and how ID reinforces atomic theory” then you really don’t know atomic theory, do you? Let’s take it simply: Energy and matter are interchangeable. Energy exists and expresses itself in certain circumstances as matter. Matter exists in certain forms (elementary particles) that often (though not always) “club together” to form atoms. The most basic, and “original” atom is Hydrogen; the formation of most others requires fusion in the heart of stars to for them. The existence of other atoms is actually an evolutionary process

  62. rebeldreams, do you know what the laws of logic are? They certainly are not if A then B. That is called a preposition. The laws of logic state: 1. A=A, 2. A cannot be non-A, and 3. A must be A. We all assume these laws in order to read, go to work, pay our taxes, and communicate. The fundamental problem that philosophers have had for years is: what in nature tells us we are to identify things these ways as opposed to other ways? This is why Plato had “forms”. There were unseen identities out there which we consulted. Just to clarify.

  63. Cameron,

    You can’t even tell what being alive means? Why do you want ID taught in a biology classroom if you can’t even tell what being alive is? Will you teach children that rocks are alive? Alive is pretty damn simple dude.

    Cameron said:

    “I never said the theory of Evolution applies to atoms. That notion was first raised by the author of this blog. I can see how atomic theory reinforces ID and how ID reinforces atomic theory. That has been my point from the beginning.”

    Please explain how ID explain atomic theory better than atomic theory.

    As such, you will need to provide a testable experiment that explains what hold the nucleus of an atom together. That’s just step 1. So, according to ID, what holds an atom together? Current atomic theory states that gluons mediate the strong nuclear force holding these particles together. Please explain how ID has a different theory.

    Also, if the makers of Expelled, who are huge proponents of ID are flagrant thieves of music in their movie, that means they are dishonest. If they are dishonest about that, obviously it’s not a huge stretch to call them dishonest about anything else.

  64. You know, I’ve got to wonder if people had this sort of reaction to the 1936 paragon of factual correctness, Reefer Madness.

  65. rebeldreams, the first part of the definition says being “alive” is a quality. Let’s stop right there. How do “qualities” even exist in a material universe, when a quality is something immaterial?

  66. Beasley, you’re profoundly missing my point. I think aspects of Macro Evolution should be taught, micro Evolution should be emphasized, and ID should be ‘free’ be taught, but not standard. This is the overarching reason! Concepts such as being “alive” make better sense in an ID framework, then a purely Evolutionary one. If we only teach an Evolutionary framework to explain ourselves, then we are left committing intellectual suicide, such as in your case in not being able to explain or account for being “alive”. I don’t want our children to be left to that outcome. Do you?

  67. Outstanding post!

    And uh, Cameron… So many choice quotes.

    If Evolution were true and ID were not, we wouldn’t even have scientific theories. To have a plausible theory you must first be able to do science. Science requires an observer (who uses the laws of logic). It makes no sense to have a theory which says “people evolved from non-intelligence, to then have intelligence, and happen to come up with theories”.

    Whether ID is valid science is a simple question. Is it testable? The answer is no. Its fine to teach ID in religious classes, or even in philosophy classes. But its not, at all, science.

  68. Microevolution and macroevolution are the same thing Cameron.

    Think about it this way. There’s a snowfield and there are 10 footprints leading from point A to point B. You’re accepting that the 10 footprints exist in and of themselves, but you’re simultaneously saying that someone did not walk from point A to point B.

    If you accept that tiny changes occur to something, give it enough time and eventually those changes will have to add up. You can’t just draw your own line wherever you want.

    I see you still won’t tell me how ID explains atomic theory better than atomic theory and you also can’t explain which penguin survived.

    I didn’t know I needed a whole complete scientific theory to explain what ‘alive’ is. I really just thought I had to use basic common sense, but I guess you’re right. Let’s put ID into schools and start teaching that rocks are alive and drywall is alive and computers are alive.

    Why do you want to teach kids in a biology class that rocks, drywall, and computers are alive? And why can’t you tell me how ID explains atomic theory?

  69. I saw a tsunami build a mansion once. I told a group of contractors and they thought I was an idiot.

    God doesn’t believe in atheists…but it would be convenient if He did.

  70. Cameron,

    I find it amusing that you are getting lots of responses and questions, but you are only responding to some of them.

    I ask again, If ID is scientific, what does it predict? I have yet to find even a single prediction, and it’s not for want of trying. The only scientific activity that has occured in ID’s name is the attempts to refute the Modern Synthesis, not make any new predictions.

    The fact is, per the Discovery Institute’s own words they are taking a stand against Scientific Materialism, and attacking the theory of evolution is just a tactic:

    http://wiki.cotch.net/index.php/Wedge_document

    Scientific Materialism (more commonly called “Naturalism”) is NOT science, it is PHILOSOPHY. Just like ‘Scientology” or “Christian Science”; just because it has “science” in the name does make it Scientific.

    Like these other philosophies, ID is also NOT science. By its proponents own words, they have a religious philosophy that they are using to subdue a competing secular philosophy.

    The tone and contents of your posts make it very clear that you are part of this PHILOSOPHICAL struggle. They belong on a Philosophy 101 board, and not on a scienc board. By attempting to use Science to support it, you fall victim to the very same error you claim for secular humanist. And you are being deceptive.

  71. Cameron, your response is more to do with logical positivism than pure logic itself. Philosophical logic is nothing more than attempting to apply logival induction (IF A THEN B) to nonmaterial thought. Pure logic, in the sense that it applies to science, is purely of the “If A then B form”. Science is an extension using logical induction, built upon the laws of nature as derived through experiment.

    For example, if it is known that fusion exists, and it needs heat, and stars radiate heat, and that heat source would have died out, then fusion must occur in stars. Until recently, this was not confirmed, merely supposed, but it was logical. Evolution requires the use of this sort of logic, rather than philosophy.

  72. “rebeldreams, the first part of the definition says being “alive” is a quality. Let’s stop right there. How do “qualities” even exist in a material universe, when a quality is something immaterial?”

    Wow! You really did come from Philosophy 101. Qualities are inherent to objects, otherwise they would not be qualities. Blue exists conceptually, but is not a quality UNLESS it is applied to a “blue object”. Similarly, “life” may be an abstract, but it becomes a quality when applied. Really, you should read a few more books on your recommended reading list before this sort of pseudo-philosophical jousting, which, as usual in creationist debates simply serve to muddy the waters and cloud the issue.

  73. “The fundamental problem that philosophers have had for years is: what in nature tells us we are to identify things these ways as opposed to other ways?”

    You gave yourself away with this one; and you’re not a terribly good philosopher, either, just to clarify. Science does not concern itself with this sort of problem; it simply says “this is what we observe, and these are the conclusions we can draw from it”. Your “objections” to evolution should also have you knocking down the doors to chemistry, geology, astronomy and physics discussion boards. After all, how can physicists be sure that the universe “intends” for us to interpret an electron as a wave?

  74. This might seem odd, but I believe in God and I believe he created the universe. I also accept evolution in broad outline (I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know the details). I find nothing incompatible with belief in God and accepting evolution and other scientific theories. How is this possible? Well, if God created us, he gave us our power of reason, right? Reason tells us that evolution is a better explanation for the development of life than any other explanation currently available. I should also include that there’s more to know that neither God nor science has yet revealed. In both religion and science, we can only deal with what we know right now, both of each develop over time. Ah yes, religion evolves, too (although I admit the evidence can often seem hard to detect).
    What religion am I?
    Baha’i.
    One of our basic principles: harmony of science and religion
    Another one: independent investigation of truth
    That’s how I came to both religion and science.
    Victor Kulkosky

    http://outofmymindblog.wordpress.com

  75. Nothing odd about that at all 2xvoice. I’m a Catholic and we accept that evolution occurs as well. There can definitely be peaceful co-existence.

  76. Dear Reginald – although I would need some convincing that the Pope believes in evolution I, as an atheist, believe your comment about peaceful co-existence is spot on, and something we should all aim for, all creeds, all races, all religions. Religion could never bring me comfort but I do know it does help millions through life and as long as those millions practice their beliefs in a benign manner, never trying to force it down other people’s throats, then well & good.

  77. Martin,
    Agreed. I definitely don’t want to push my religion on anybody. It’s my faith and everyone else’s faith or lack thereof is fine by me. As for the pope believing in evolution, I know what you mean. The current fellow is a little wishy-washy, but John Paul the Second was definitively in favour as was Pope Pius.

    Basically the belief is that evolution occurs, but God is the imbuer of the soul. What the soul is isn’t really outlined, of course, but we figure it’s something eternal and something outside the realm of testable science – it’s just something that needs taken on faith and most sensible Catholics never want it taught in a science class.

  78. One correction to your story. While it is true that many “creation scientists” have jumped on the bandwagon of ID. ID theory is not the same. There are many Atheist ID scientists who do not believe in any of the Christian creation theories.

    So it is incorrect to say that ID is an evolved form of Creationism.

    All Creationists would hold to ID, but not ID is creationism.

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  80. I’m curious about the motivation: your title correctly characterizes the futility of “arguing” with creationists.

    The only real way to deal with them is to publicly identify what they are – misguided idiots – and refuse to give them equal time. If you tell them they’re stupid often enough and loud enough, they’ll eventually believe it. After all, look at the swill they’ve already swallowed

  81. Cameron thinks I brought up a good point. Way to blow your credibility, homeboy–I’ve NEVER brought up a good point.

    Still, let the record show that Cameron is the first individual in the history of the internet to use “begs the question” correctly. That’s impressive, and it makes the fact that he let ID get its lying, mendacious hooks into him all the sadder.

  82. Ok, based on my understanding of IDism, God kept a disarray of ledgers, notes and black board where he spent most of eternity pondering how each life and thing has to be made. And there was not a few nights that he jumped out of bed to make some modifications to his plans. Nobody can dispute that belief.

    I have have my own belief that I guess nobody can dispute, too. That God, because he is God, simply flicked things into space and we see everything today. And he gave us scientists to unravel and explain to us the laws that He put into each thing that makes them tick…how they were created by him…so man does not grope in ignorance.

  83. However, once major difference between the laws of logic and laws of nature is that laws of logic CAN’T change. Otherwise we would be illogical.

    Otherwise we would be illogical?

    Otherwise we would be illogical?

    What do you think logic is, that you think people are logical?

    I present to you Johnson-Laird, P. N.; Legrenzi, Paolo; Legrenzi, Maria S. “Reasoning and a sense of reality.” British Journal of Psychology. 63(3):395-400A 1972

    This is an experiment where otherwise intelligent psychology students failed miserably at a pure logical task! And the researchers were able to improve their performance dramatically on the same task, just by telling them a story!

    These are your laws of logic? They must be as weak as tissue paper!

  84. The problem with your entire critique is that Ben Stein’s movie is about the fact that SCIENTISTS, not “ill informed lay persons” as you so kindly insulted us, are the ones who continue to deny the fact that Darwin’s theories are being disproved each and every day by SCIENCE 150 years on.

    As a naturalist and Christian, I am always interested in these debates. This movie is one of the most incredible because it deals with Science on it’s own level and terms. I have many friends who are biologists and Christians. Their faith is in no way compromised by their job. They understand how wrong Darwin truly was. The Science only confirms God’s creation.

    Whether you choose to believe that or not.

  85. Hmm. I’ve been taught ID the creationist way all of my life, and it really startles me to hear people disagree so vehemently. But that’s just me. That’s beside the point, though.
    I just wanted to say that as a Christian, I find creationism extremely comforting.
    It was unbelievable to hear that one professor guy on the movie going on about how Evolution killed his faith and he doesn’t miss it.
    For, me, believing that God thoughtfully created the universe with specific design and detail and intricacy and knowing (or, rather, trusting) that He is still in control is very comforting.
    The idea that everything randomly came together and is still just going along with whatever chance happens to be there is scary to me, and I’m sure that other believers would agree. When I think about all the terrible things going on – all the murder and rape and terrorism – I feel like there’s nothing to live for.
    You know what I mean?
    Sorry for the rant, but I just had to say that.

    • Felicity,

      First, lets define our terms. It’s easy in talking about evolution to combine the fact of evolution with theoretical explanations of evolution.

      Evolution – the statement that life forms show a sequence of development over time – has been accepted as a fact since c1830 – long before Darwin’s work.

      Look here for 29+ Evidences for macroevolution.

      To pick just two – the fossil record shows a clear, if incomplete sequence of development. This sequence is independent of dating assumptions and never is a descendant species found before an ancestral one (note that an ancestral species occurring at the same time as a descendant is not only natural, but expected).

      As has been said Chimpanzees and Man share common ERV – virus DNA injected into the Chimp/Man DNA. The evolutionary explanation is that this happened in a species ancestral to both. To explain it without common descent, you have to propose that exactly the same virus was injected in exactly the same position in both Chimp and Human DNA totally independently of each other, which is preposterous. It is worth noting that this can be carried further back: Gorillas, Chimps and Humans also have shared EVAs, and so on.

  86. The problem with your entire critique is that Ben Stein’s movie is about the fact that SCIENTISTS, not “ill informed lay persons” as you so kindly insulted us, are the ones who continue to deny the fact that Darwin’s theories are being disproved each and every day by SCIENCE 150 years on.

    Then I’m sure that, not being an ill-informed lay person, you can lay hands to an exhaustive disproof and present it.

  87. The dumbing down in America becomes more pervasive every minute. With the Creation Museum in Kentucky and the release of “Expelled”, I was worrying that “Idiocracy” had indeed arrived. No one has mentioned that “Expelled” is tanking at the box office. This, plus the departure of Bush and his faith-based idiots, should end these tiresome debates and allow America to be the smart country again.

  88. Felicity says:

    For, me, believing that God thoughtfully created the universe with specific design and detail and intricacy and knowing (or, rather, trusting) that He is still in control is very comforting.

    Why can’t God have created the universe in a way that people can understand? Are we not made in the image and likeness of God? Can we not share in the joy He felt, seeing His creation down to its finest detail? Watching it change as He must have known it would? It is more a miracle that we can understand this universe, however imperfectly, than it would be if we could not.

    Studying evolution can turn people off their faith, certainly, but the analogy goes roughly, “I don’t teach people to doubt their faith. All their lives they’ve been taught that their faith requires they believe that the sky is green. I tell them to open their eyes and look up.” The fault is in the original instruction, not the reality.

    When I think about all the terrible things going on – all the murder and rape and terrorism – I feel like there’s nothing to live for.

    Would you believe there’s less murder and rape and terrorism in the United States than there was 27 years ago, when they banned creationism from state schools? Half as much. One-third as much property crime. There are terrible things in this world, but people not teaching creationism doesn’t seem to contribute to them all that much.

  89. J. R. Miller says “There are many Atheist ID scientists who do not believe in any of the Christian creation theories.”

    Please give me the name of a SINGLE atheist who believes in ID. Please…I dare you, double dog dare you! I also challenge the idea that Creationism and ID are someow separate; they are identical in the most important details. Have you read the “Wedge Document” from Discovery Institute?

    1wmcaw says, “As a naturalist and Christian, I am always interested in these debates.”

    Do you understand that ID is AGAINST Naturalism (it calls it Scientific Materialism)?

  90. Felicity, don’t be sorry–you’ve encapsulated your side of the argument perfectly, and without the usual veiled threats to the wellbeing of your opponents’ eternal souls. Also, you didn’t lie about (insert prominent scientific figure) having a deathbed conversion, which makes you rare indeed. If the people behind “Expelled” had half your class, they wouldn’t be the people behind “Expelled.”

  91. 1wmcaw…really?

    Can you explain how Darwin’s ideas are disproved scientifically each and every day? There is no science in Expelled…ID is untestable, meaning it is not science.

  92. Cameron,

    I’ll answer your question.

    There are a few competing definitions of “life”, some of them more general than others, and each with its strengths and weaknesses.

    The best definition I’ve ever seen is this, from the “Life” wikipedia article:

    “According to physicists such as John Bernal, Erwin Schrödinger, Eugene Wigner, and John Avery, life is a member of the class of phenomena which are open or continuous systems able to decrease their internal entropy at the expense of substances or free energy taken in from the environment and subsequently rejected in a degraded form.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life

    That bit about “decreasing their internal entropy” is just a fancy way of saying that an organism is capable of internal self-organization.

    Using that definition, we can also cobble together a definition of “death” as the cascading failure of the systems which define life. When the internal processes of any living entity (cell or organism) cease functioning, the environmental entropy consumes it and it decays.

    Conveniently, you can apply this definition at multiple levels of granularity. An organism can still be “alive” even after the death of some, or most, of its cells (like a planarian). An organ with dead cells (like a liver) might regain its health if you remove the diseased and diseased cells.

    So, this definition of life is not only observable, but it’s extremely USEFUL. Based on this definition, medical science has found clever ways of preserving the life of a dying organism (heart transplant recipient) by harvesting a living organ from another dying organism that we don’t yet know how to revive (catastrophic head injury victim), as long as the heart cells can receive a continuous source of oxygen-rich blood.

    When the heart transplant recipient wakes up, his body will be a hodgepodge of parts from different sources: mostly his own original body, but with the new heart, and the blood, platelets, and plasma of dozens of anonymous donors. Whose “life” is lying in that hospital bed now?

    I think the point Cameron is trying to get at is his own personal definition of “life”: a body inhabited by a ghost.

    The penguin body that swims safely back to shore continues to be inhabited by a ghost, whereas the penguin ghost vacates the body eaten by a shark.

    But what about our heart transplant victim: do his heart cells maintain part of the ghost of the donor? Is he haunted by the ghosts of a dozen different blood donors? Can a ghost be divided into little bits, like the body? Or does the ghost just occupy the consciousness?

    Who cares? So what if there actually is a ghost inhabiting my body?

    The ghost doesn’t physically animate the body, which we know is controlled by muscles (and actuated by adenosine triphosphate). It doesn’t do the thinking or feeling, because modern brain imaging shows that cerebral structures are fully capable of doing the thinking without a ghost. Emotions, desires and passions can be directly attributed to hormones, endorphins, and neurotransmitters. Researchers have even identified brain structures responsible for ethical and moral decision making.

    So, if you define life as the comingling of body and soul, then tell me, what exactly does the soul actually do?

    Defining “life” as a ghost in a machine is not only unobservable, but it isn’t even USEFUL for anything. Even if living beings do have a soul, if that soul is completely undetectable in the natural universe, then it makes little difference whether I have a soul, since my body and brain will continue to function in exactly the same way without them.

    On the other hand, observing the mechanisms of the MACHINE allows us to fine-tune it, and to fix it when it breaks.

    Understanding evolutionary biology enables us to observe body and brain structures in other organisms to gain a greater insight about how our own bodies and brains work (to the extent of the organism’s proximity to us on the phylogenic tree).

    Cool, huh?

  93. Dan(fitness), ID is science simply because it uses inference. If you really want to drive the dogmatic stake in which says all facts must be testable, then show me the test for that very fact.

    rebeldreams, I think you’re likening ‘logic’ to ‘rationality’ which is fine if one were simply talking about rationality. Historically, however, the laws of logic have been used by philosophers to explain the criterion by which we identify things. Hence the 3 common laws of logic. Nature can’t account for the laws of logic because nature can’t say something must be a certain way. However, the laws of logic must be a certain way otherwise no one could distinguish things, identify things, and communicate.

    calvinlawson, I’m happy you respond to me along with others. When we teach micro evolution in the class room, we ARE teaching philosophy because philosophical concepts are assumed such as “survival of the fittest” and “natural selection” which has no explanatory power as to why things “survive”. Also,characteristics are deemed “advantageous”, “favorable” and “useful” by mindless matter.

  94. rebeldreams, you said way earlier that environment “deems” what is favorable. So weather acts as the hands which turn species A into species B? I would say weather plays a factor into natural selection on a micro evolution level, eg. certain animals die off so others have to be eaten instead. But this has nothing to do with how a species evolving “favorable” mutations.

    you said “Also, you’re quite wrong about if evolution is true nobody could argue: Relativity is true, and yet plenty of peple argued about it, and still do to this day. There are a few “anti-Relativity” kooks out there, believe me.”

    So why should I even listen to anything you say if all is relative? Are you truly consistent in believing that everything is relative? Then is saying “everything is relative” itself a relative statement, therefore there can be absolute truths? Wow…

  95. Josh James said “As for Cameron’s assertion that atoms are evidence of design and creation, that seems to assume that what we observe with atoms is design.”

    I believe atoms serve a purpose, which is for stuff and matter to exist. This is given my worldview.

    and Aaron said “Atoms don’t have purpose. All the atoms in the universe could care less if they help you, or me, or anyone. They are just *there*.”

    Sounds like my take on matter trying to make itself “survive”. Again, according to my worldview, I believe they do have purpose. This is because the Triune God of Christianity provides a consistent and solid bases for anything existing at all within time and space. It is His creation. He is the 4th dimension holding together our 3rd dimension, but that is for another forum.

    and Take away an electron… you have an ion. Take away a proton — you have a different element. Take away a neutron — you have an isotope. The unit itself changes its nature, but it is still fully functional.

    Ok, and take away all atoms and you have no matter. That explanation doesn’t suffice. Just because something is “useful” for something else, doesn’t make it useful for what else is needed. And saying that bacterial flagellum borrowed from other working parts assumes those borrowed and those borrowed and the list goes on and so does the initial problem. In addition, “already working flagellum” is an assumption at best.

    When selective pressures are applied, genetic variations (alleles) that are FAVORABLE for the selective pressure will continue to reproduce, whereas NON-FAVORABLE alleles will slowly decay away. THAT is survival of the fittest.

    “Selective pressure” still has no explanatory power as to why “favorable alleles” come about. This is all philosophical conjecture which permits “natural selection” to be best accounted for with thought experiments (barely). No one knows exactly what these “pressures” are, whether “living” or “non-living”, and why “organisms” “adapt” with “favorable” changes as opposed to non-favorable ones.

    All the words in ” ” are words that belong in a philosophy class, if ID weren’t true.

  96. calvin, ID encompasses creation by God or even by Alien life forms. ID simply means we got here by some intelligence, but it does not try to define that intelligence. Creationists go beyond ID and assign YHWH as creator.

    It is my understanding that Robert Jastrow is an agnostic (agnostic meaning an atheist who is smart) and he wrote “God and the Astronomers”

    I am not real familiar with this group, but a quick google search turned up this this resource with several links that explain the difference between ID and Creationism.

    But you will find that I really don’t have a dog in this hunt. As a scientist, I think both Creationism and Evolution are junk posing as good science.

    Give me a good physics book any day over the crap that passes as science today!

  97. Since logic was brought up, here’s my take on that, being a logician myself.

    Logic is simply the study of what kinds of thinking lead to true conclusions, and what kinds don’t. Fallacy lists are a major part of what logicians look at, for example. These are “ways of thinking” that can be used with totally true premises and yet lead to false conclusions. They’re called “invalid.”

    (For example, Ad Populum is the fallacy that says because a majority thinks something, it must be true. As another example, Ad Hominem is the fallacy that insults the debate opponent rather than addressing her/his argument. There are many other such fallacies.)

    Valid ways of thinking are also looked at, and these can still lead to incorrect conclusions if the premises are untrue, but if the premises are true, these valid argument formats always lead to true conclusions. Whether the premises or true or not is called “sound” or “unsound.”

    These “laws” aren’t based on anything like legislative laws, but simply observation over the centuries as to which ways of thinking lead to true conclusions or not. For example, if a majority believes the world is flat, and yet we eventually find out that it is not through other means, it helps pin “Ad Populum” down as an untrustworthy way of thinking.

    But not everybody realizes that or has been educated about it, so obviously people do still use “illogical” ways of thinking. And sometimes there are illogical ways of thinking that haven’t yet been formally identified.

    What this means for the debate, I’d rather let everybody draw their own conclusions for themselves. :)

    I have my opinions on this, but 1) I’m not a scientist, I’m a logician, and 2) people usually don’t seem to care what other people’s opinions happen to be — they want to know why. My opinions are based on finding the most sound and valid logic I can on one “side” or another, because all I want to find is the truth. I would hope that others would share that goal. :) So I’m fine with not trying to beat people over the head with whatever my opinion happens to be.

  98. Cameron,

    I appreciate you taking the time to respond, but for the life of me I still can’t understand exactly what you are protesting! You spout philosophy without offering one testable conclusion about the world.

    You deny the language of Evolution, and yet you have no understanding of what those words mean. You do not understand that genes experience “survival of the fittest”, not individual organisms. You simply don’t understand the issues, so it is difficult to discuss them with you.

    And yes, this has a lot to do with the mythology called Science that is taught in our public school system. You yourself are obviously a product of this education; you probably still consider the Piltdown Man hoax to be damning evidence against evolution, don’t you? Or you have serious doubts about Carbon 14 dating, right?

    All I have to say is phylogenetics, Evo-devo, and artificial selection. Try to read “The Origins of Order” in between Bible Studies; or maybe “Godel, Escher, Bach” that will blow the philosophical hubcaps off your mindless matter, you Strange Loop you.

    Oh yeah, and you inspired me to finish my blog on Creationism, thanks!

    http://calvinlawson.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/answers-in-genesis-part-iii-creationism/

  99. Cameron – “ID is science simply because it uses inferences”. More meaningless gibberish I’m afraid! The word “science” comes from the Latin word for “knowledge” and scientific conclusions must be based on observable phenomena and MUST be testable by others. Anything relating to the use of inferences means that conclusions are based on assumptions, not observable facts. That is why ID is a pseudoscience. I repeat what I have said before – why won’t you provide some evidence for ID which all us unbelievers can study?

  100. calvinlawson: I appreciate you taking the time to respond, but for the life of me I still can’t understand exactly what you are protesting! You spout philosophy without offering one testable conclusion about the world.

    Hi Calvin. You’re probably wasting your time trying to reason with Cameron. I picking up the foul stench of presuppositionalism from his posts which means he is immune to reason. Presuppositionalism is a particularly toxic form of onanistic anti-reason to which facts are irrelevancies. Presuppositionalist claim (with no rational supports that I have ever seen) that to even use logic is to presuppose the existence of the Biblical god, therefore to them the mere fact that you are arguing with them “proves” their position. See also the: “Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God” (TAG)

  101. J. R. Miller: One correction to your story.

    Not a “correction”, an assertion.

    J. R. Miller: While it is true that many “creation scientists” have jumped on the bandwagon of ID. ID theory is not the same.

    No they are not the same. ID “theory” is all the erroneous arguments against evolution used by “creation science” stripped of all the more testable claims about a young Earth/universe and animals going two-by-two onto an Ark before a global flood.

    Of course I understand that not all ID creationists are YEC, but their anti-evolution arguments are nigh on indistinguishable from those of YEC and their theological motivations are clearly the same.

    J. R. Miller: There are many Atheist ID scientists who do not believe in any of the Christian creation theories.

    “Many” ID scientists are atheists? That’s nonsense. I know of exactly one person in the ID creationist camp to claims to be a non-theist; David Berlinski, who describes himself as a “secular Jew”. I don’t know what Berlinski’s motives are but one or two people like him in the ID crowd doesn’t change the fact that 99% of ID creationism proponents are theists (mostly Protestant Christians).

    J. R. Miller: So it is incorrect to say that ID is an evolved form of Creationism.

    Oh sure, they’re not creationists, they’re “cdesign proponentsists”…

    J. R. Miller: if you think Evolution is any better than creation science, you are equally foolish.

    A) You don’t capitalize ‘e’ in evolution unless it is the first word in the sentence.

    B) Evolution is a collection of observed facts and a coherent, well tested, scientific theory that explains those facts. “Creation science” (an oxymoron) is a sectarian religious belief, rationalized via misinformation, illogic, innuendo, paranoia, and often outright lies.

    If you think that this makes them equivalent, then I fear your judgment is beyond repair.

    J. R. Miller: ID encompasses creation by God or even by Alien life forms. ID simply means we got here by some intelligence, but it does not try to define that intelligence. Creationists go beyond ID and assign YHWH as creator.

    The ET alternative is a bit of disingenuousness on the part of ID creationists as they are proposing an intelligent designer that not only created life (and tinkered around with it as it developed over 4 billion years or so, according to old Earth IDers) but also setup the universe itself.

    An extraterrestrial that not only created life but also created the universe is indistinguishable from a god.

    J. R. Miller: I am not real familiar with this group, but a quick google search turned up this this resource with several links that explain the difference between ID and Creationism.

    Sure the Discovery Institutes’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, they’re an objective source of information…not.

    J. R. Miller: But you will find that I really don’t have a dog in this hunt. As a scientist, I think both Creationism and Evolution are junk posing as good science.

    Ah, the old “I’m an outside observer, above the fray” gambit, yeah right. As I said, beyond repair…

  102. Ah, the old “I’m an outside observer, above the fray” gambit, yeah right. As I said, beyond repair…

    And besides, isn’t this what old time Creationists like Gish also say…that creationism is not a science, but neither is Evolution?

  103. So why should I even listen to anything you say if all is relative? Are you truly consistent in believing that everything is relative? Then is saying “everything is relative” itself a relative statement, therefore there can be absolute truths?

    Uh… I was referring to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, not “relativism”.

    And for the record, in my discussion of logic, I was referring to the type of inductive logi used by science, not philosophical logic, which has no real bearing on science, except those involved in the philosophy of science, which is not exactly what is up for discussion here. Basically, your argument is “all science is suspect because we cannot be certain our inferences are correct”, but science continues without worrying about the philosophical basis for those inferences; it simply takes observed facts and logically extends them, using other observed facts. If at some point it can be utterly demonstrated beyond all doubt that every observation is faulty, then there is a point here, but that day, after hundreds of years of philosophical musings on the matter, has still not arrived. Science remains a self-consistent edifice erected by humans, using induction.

  104. Troy Britain, calvinlawson et al…

    Cameron may or may not be a philosophy student (if he is, then he’s not a good one). Personally I think he’s of the “I’m not a philosopher but I play one on the Internet” brand. Even the pseud-philosophy he spouts is half-formed, and does not even have the courage of its own conviction; namely, why not attack all science, instead of just evolution, since ALL science is based on observation, which, cameron believes, is faulty.

    Cameron is, like all creationists that I have run into over several years in this sort of discussion, seeking solely to obfuscate to conceal a huge lack of anything resembling scientific acumen, while trying to appear knowledgeable. It’s intellectually dishonest, of course, but “lying for Jesus” is a recognized tactic of Creationists.

    In the meantime, it distracts everyone from the real debate (to which they have no true answers, and still less ability to conduct) and gives those other creationists in the discussion the sense that they are “winning” the debate, because we poor scientists simply can’t even define our terms. It’s the same “gotcha!” tactic that people with nothing to say use in every debate, be it scientific, religious or political.

  105. rebeldreams, you stated:

    “It’s intellectually dishonest, of course, but “lying for Jesus” is a recognized tactic of Creationists.”

    I won’t defend past individuals that have indeed used that tactic in an attempt to “do good”. There are far too many Christians out there that don’t have a scientific bone in their body. Quite frankly, I think they get into a discussion assuming that they have all the answers and when someone proposes additional information or a competing, but viable, viewpoint they get defensive. And they can get defensive in the worst way.

    What I will defend is that they believe they are right when they do this. These people are not “lying for Jesus” as you put it. They are wrong oftentimes, but they are not wrong on purpose. They may be misguided, misinformed, or even have a few screws loose, but they most certainly are NOT lying in their own minds.

  106. BTW, rebeldreams is quite right when he speaks about logic (in post #118) and the foundation for science being observable phenomena. Science does assume that what can be seen and observed in the universe is real. It is a philosophical trap to state that we can’t know for certain that the information we gather from what enters through our senses is truly ‘real’ a la something like The Matrix.

    But it is a trap because if you state that, then absolutely nothing in this world can be known for sure or depended on and all bases for knowledge fall apart. We have to include a pinch of practicality and make the assumption that what can be observed is real. Thus, science has a basis from which to build even if that basis cannot be empirically proven.

    It is an interesting historical note that ancient Greek culture before Christianity was introduced did actually include some of these notions. After all, it was the Greek philosophers that first developed these ideas. The spread of Christianity is credited with establishing ‘what can be observed as what is real’ in that culture due to the influence of the bodily resurrection of Jesus among other Christian teachings. Christianity, at least at the beginning, had a strong thread of “what’s physical is what’s real” running through its teachings.

  107. Troy, thank you for demonstrating the mighty powers of your presuppositional logic. Your public education and shop class have prepared you to be a first class scientist. (and your skills at spell checking are amazing… if your career as a printer does not work out, you have a promising future as secretary for a science teacher).

  108. These people are not “lying for Jesus” as you put it. They are wrong oftentimes, but they are not wrong on purpose. They may be misguided, misinformed, or even have a few screws loose, but they most certainly are NOT lying in their own minds.

    I would say that is true in a large number of cases; many (if not most) of the “lay-preachers” of Creationism and ID on discussions like this are not lying in their own minds. However, the blatant intellectual dishonesty of Behe and many, many others like him, who truly should know better is staggering. Behe actually did acheive a high enough level of academic knowledge to gain a diploma, and thus the falsehoods he propagates cannot be attributable to a lack of understanding, but rather a deliberate untruth; therefore “lying for Jesus” is a ligitimate term. However, I certainly accept that the use of it as a broad brush attack on most Creationists posting here and in most other places is misguided, and inasmuch as I cannot demonstrate that most of the people thus accused actually are doing it deliberately, I apologize.

  109. Reply to FO in #17

    First, let me say that I seek truth too. I’m just open to seeking that truth in more places than strictly science.

    FO said “…scientists have amassed a huge mountain of evidence and spent countless hours researching the issue, and so far there is no indication that evolution is wrong. It could well be so, but for now there is no evidence against it. Nor is ID/creationism a viable replacement for it.”

    That’s not quite true though. There are a lot of challenges to an evolutionary view of how the Earth formed and where human beings came from. Evolution cannot explain the source of life, create life, or even easily define it. Evolution cannot explain the Faint Sun Paradox. Evolution provides no viable common ancestor for humanity now that the DNA evidence for (I think) the Neanderthals has been compared to modern humans. There is no known evolutionary process that leads to the formation of a viable cell membrane. We now know that there was no primordial soup.

    All of these things are great challenges to evolution being a viable explanation for how we got here. And there are plenty more challenges where those came from.

    FO said “As for the Bible, perhaps you would benefit from a course on its history, particularly that of the Old Testament. You may find that Genesis is not as factually reliable as you first thought…”

    No, the Genesis account of creation (specifically) is not particularly factual by modern standards. But taken on its own merits, it’s actually an amazing piece of antiquity. Before science existed as a discipline, before the agricultural revolution, before our modern languages were ever spoken, there was this account of the creation in a book called Genesis. It is orderly, if poetic, and contains real facts that other creation myths lack. There is a concept of building in it, of cause and effect, of cycles before these concepts really came to be associated with objective, scientific inquiry. So don’t rag on the Bible or the book of Genesis. We used to call the Middle Ages the Medieval Ages before we properly understood them.

    Also, the account in Genesis is not the only account of creation in the Bible. There are dozens more verses including large portions of the books of Job and the Psalms. You can find an extensive (if not exhaustive) list at http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/p0014.shtml

  110. “That’s not quite true though. There are a lot of challenges to an evolutionary view of how the Earth formed and where human beings came from. ”

    This is undeniably true! It’s one of the few things Creationists say that has any scientific validity. Just like gravity, we do not fully understand how evolution works. However, our theories of gravity are still scientific; becaue we can make observations that prove that gravity exists. Ditto evolution.

    But look at the leap of FAITH taken here, “Evolution has problems, so Creationism must be the correct answer.” I say, “Prove it!” I have a feeling your proof will have even more problems, if it could even be stated scientifically.

    Heck, Newton’s theories had major problems, and were wrong on a lot of things, but nobody would deny there were scientific! Read Kuhn’s if you don’t understand scientific revolutions.

  111. dsmith77 – you are deluded if you think you seek the truth, you are just a bible-thumper. One main point that people such as you cannot seem to accept – evolution as proposed by Darwin does not try to solve the origin of life, it only tries to scientifically discuss the diversity of life! Primordial soup was nothing to Darwin. Secondly, come on man, Genesis contains “real facts”! Give me a break, if you are right tell us what these real facts are and how they can be independently proved. Your God is supposed to be all knowing, all seeing etc etc. Why does the Bible make no reference to earthquakes, tsuanamis, the Great Plague that devastated Europe, the Holocaust, the Atomic Bomb, the fact that most of the population of the world would never become Chrisrtian.

  112. J. R. Miller: Troy, thank you for demonstrating the mighty powers of your presuppositional logic. Your public education and shop class have prepared you to be a first class scientist. (and your skills at spell checking are amazing… if your career as a printer does not work out, you have a promising future as secretary for a science teacher).

    Is that it Joe? Are you sure you don’t want to take a shot at my weight problem as well?

    I take it that you have nothing substantive to say on the subject and given this you thought that you’d try to take a personal shot at me instead. Very Christ-like Joe, I am sure that is exactly what Jesus would have done in this situation.

    What did you think? That you would be the first antievolutionist to attack me based on my “secret” lack of a college degree? Not even close.

    Obviously going to college and formally studying science (as you say you did) doesn’t always guarantee that someone will be able to perceive the rather obvious distinction between productive mainstream science (evolutionary theory) and pseudoscientific religious clap-trap (creationism, YE, OE, ID or whatever).

    Your comments here make that quite clear.

    For the record, I wasn’t being a typo-fascist when I pointed out your incorrect capitalization of evolution (I assume that is what prompted your snark about spelling). I certainly make plenty of typos and spelling errors myself. Rather I was correcting you because in my experience antievolutionists often capitalize “evolution” like they might capitalize “Christianity” or “Islam.” Evolution is not a religion, so there is no need to capitalize the word.

    I wouldn’t want you to be offended where I intended no offense.

    Have a nice day Joe.

  113. One of the problems with debates like the one going on right now, here, is “fevered opinions”. As I said before, I would hope that all of you are above all interested in finding the truth. But what I see, and this extends to debates about just about anything, is that both sides get into a “fevered pitch” whenever they discuss whatever issue is at hand. Akin to just throwing mud at each other, going nowhere fast.

    Not convincing the other side of anything, not being convinced of anything. Is this really the way to find the truth?

  114. Pingback: Nicio minciună nu-i prea gogonată « TLP

  115. Evolution cannot explain the source of life, create life, or even easily define it. Evolution cannot explain the Faint Sun Paradox. Evolution provides no viable common ancestor for humanity now that the DNA evidence for (I think) the Neanderthals has been compared to modern humans. There is no known evolutionary process that leads to the formation of a viable cell membrane. We now know that there was no primordial soup.

    These are not quite true: evolution in general does not seek to explain any of these points except the descent of humanity; however modern evolutionary principles DO provide explanations. These principles such as self-organization in complex systems certainly provide a basis for understanding the formation of life; for example, phospholipids created even in such primitive situations as the Urey-Miller experiment have a tendency to form “bubbles” that resemble cell membranes in general.

    The DNA comparison of Neanderthals only showed that we are not directly descended from Neanderthals, but it demonstrated a high degree of relationship, indicating that H.sapiens and H. neanderthalensis shared a recent common ancestor.

    I’m not sure where you get the claim “we now know there was no primordial soup” from; Archaean rocks found in Iceland and elsewhere show a high concentration of organic compounds which seem to confirm the “primordial soup” hypothesis, although it was probably somewhat less concentrated than originally assumed. Recent discoveries in the fields of self-organization, however, have demonstrated that the concentration of organic molecules required to produce complex molecules is much lower than previously assumed.

    Evolution cannot explain the Faint Sun Paradox.

    Firstly, evolution does not seek to address this problem in solar physics, but it has been ably demonstrated that this is not a problem whatsoever. I direct your attention to this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faint_young_sun_paradox

    Before science existed as a discipline, before the agricultural revolution, before our modern languages were ever spoken, there was this account of the creation in a book called Genesis

    Again, not really true; the “agricultural revolution” occurred someewhere on the order of 10,000 years ago, far earlier than the tradition of Genesis, and certainly way before it was ever written down!

    Finally, I want to reiterate that evolution does not “rag on” genesis, the Bible or any specific religion; only those people who adhere blindly to them, and refuse to accept the evidence that shows that Genesis is a mythological account, not a scientific one, but who seek to use psuedo-scientific language to justify their beliefs.

  116. Re: CalvinLawson #127

    Evolution is a very wide-ranging topic. I was trying to be specific to how it applied to human origins, where the evidence is weakest, but I apparently failed. I’ve even heard evolution applied to star formation – and I accept that explanation and that language.

    CalvinLawson said: “But look at the leap of FAITH taken here, “Evolution has problems, so Creationism must be the correct answer.” I say, “Prove it!” I have a feeling your proof will have even more problems, if it could even be stated scientifically.”

    No, I didn’t take a leap of faith here and I did not say that Creationism has to be correct because Evolution is wrong. That’s a foolish argument. You are reading in something that isn’t there.

    Similar to Troy’s statement on his Locus web site About page, I do not see a conflict between the existence of God and the factuality of science. If indeed the God of the bible is the one, true God and what is said about him in the scriptures is true, then He cannot contradict himself, is perfect, and created the universe as we know it. Thus, He setup the natural laws with all their complexity. Since He cannot contradict Himself and science merely uncovers how everything works, there should be NO contradictions or conflict between a biblical worldview and a scientific one. Despite the fact that each is a different viewpoint, they should sync up. That is the position I hold and have been able to hold without sacrificing either half.

    CalvinLawson said: “Heck, Newton’s theories had major problems, and were wrong on a lot of things, but nobody would deny there were scientific! Read Kuhn’s if you don’t understand scientific revolutions.”

    Yes, Newton’s theories did not precisely predict or explain everything once they came to be broadly applied. That’s why Einstein’s theories have replaced them. It’s not that Newton’s theories were wrong, but that they were a special case and incomplete. Additional information showed the flaws and the need for a revised theory, In this case, it was a completely new theory, though that is not the norm in science. It takes a lot for a paradigm shift.

    Now, since CalvinLawson has asked me to prove some of these claims that evolution has challenges, I would like to direct him to a book called “Origins of Life” http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Life-Biblical-Evolutionary-Models/dp/1576833445/ It is written from a scientific perspective, not pseudoscience.

    Again, let me spell out that I am trying to focus on the evolutionary evidence for human origins. I will say that the later chapters in the book do not appear “fleshed out” like the earlier chapters. I can only guess that the authors hit some kind of deadline. But, the information in the earlier chapters is good. The book is worth looking into if for no other reason because of the excellent comparison at the back. For pages and pages, four different models for the origin of life are compared – Evolution, Young-Earth Creationism, Theistic Evolution (Troy’s original position based on his web site about page), and the Reasons to Believe Model if memory serves me correctly. And predictions are made for each model.

  117. Re: Martin #128

    Martin said: “dsmith77 – you are deluded if you think you seek the truth, you are just a bible-thumper. One main point that people such as you cannot seem to accept – evolution as proposed by Darwin does not try to solve the origin of life, it only tries to scientifically discuss the diversity of life!”

    You’re right, Darwin himself didn’t propose any kind of mechanism for the purpose of explaining the origin of life. But he did open the door for it and those that came after him went through the door. Today, evolution IS used as a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life whatever Darwin thought or intended. And that’s what gets religious folk so upset. They see science as crossing a line into their exclusive territory. Thus, they fought back – rather badly I must say – you got involved with them at some point, and here we are in this discussion. It doesn’t have to be like this. I am not one of those people and I don’t claim them. I do claim to have an intellectual faith whereby I have no problem accepting what science tells us as an accurate representation of reality. I just also believe that there is a God in heaven who started it all.

    Martin said: “Primordial soup was nothing to Darwin. Secondly, come on man, Genesis contains “real facts”! Give me a break, if you are right tell us what these real facts are and how they can be independently proved. Your God is supposed to be all knowing, all seeing etc etc. Why does the Bible make no reference to earthquakes, tsuanamis, the Great Plague that devastated Europe, the Holocaust, the Atomic Bomb, the fact that most of the population of the world would never become Chrisrtian.”

    Admittedly, it’s hard to see “facts” in Genesis but they are there. One of the six days describes the setup of a stable water cycle for example. Oh, and the point of reference is identified at the beginning as the surface of the Earth which explains the darkness when there must have already been stars. You have to understand the context behind the writing. Ancient Hebrew only had two verb tenses – a present-tense linear and a cycling. There was no concept of past or future per se. So, as archaic as it may be to us, it was an amazing written account back then.

    Now, why does the Bible make no reference to natural disasters and other conflicts? Simple. It’s because of faith. The best explanation I ever heard is this: God created humanity so that He could have a relationship with us. This relationship requires a conscious choice on our part to choose to want this relationship. That choice requires free will. Thus, the angels, not having free will though in existence before us, could not fulfill this desire of God. Now, it doesn’t take a leap of faith to realize that if God revealed Himself to humanity in such a way that it could not be denied that people would flock to Him for all kinds of reasons and thwart this goal. He wants an honest relationship. He wants us to choose to explore a relationship with Him and that means He will not reveal Himself to us directly. So, he uses people, books, and the natural world to reveal Himself. Thus, we must have faith to believe in Him.

  118. Right on, bonesiii! Let’s keep the discussion, but lose the fever. Let’s also lose the personal attacks and focus on the issues. If we must attack, let it be an issue.

  119. dsmith77: Evolution is a very wide-ranging topic. I was trying to be specific to how it applied to human origins, where the evidence is weakest, but I apparently failed.

    I’m sorry but the idea that the evidence for human evolution is weak is simple denial. All the empirical evidence from comparative anatomy of living primates, genetics, paleontology, and even behavior, points consistently in one direction; that humans share a common ancestor with other primates.

    The only “creationist” alternative is to argue that God created us independently but falsified the evidence to make it look like we share ancestry with other primates for some reason known only to him. Of course, most creationists won’t particularly like that alterative, but it is at least consistent with the evidence.

    dsmith77: I’ve even heard evolution applied to star formation – and I accept that explanation and that language.

    Just because the word evolution is used doesn’t mean that the theory of evolution was intended to explain it. The word ‘evolution’, meaning a process of unfolding, was originally used to describe the process of embryological development. It was later co-opted to describe the process of species development rather that that of the individual.

    However it is sometimes used in its more original sense to describe any developmental process: “The evolution of stars”, “The evolution of the Conservation Movement”, “The evolution of democracy”, etc. Needless to say none of these, even the ‘life cycles’ of stars, is part of evolutionary theory which is a biological theory intended to explain the changes in life on Earth though time as well as current biological diversity.

    dsmith77: Similar to Troy’s statement on his Locus web site About page, I do not see a conflict between the existence of God and the factuality of science.

    There isn’t any necessary conflict between the existence of ‘A’ God and science. The Biblical God might be a different story, depending on how liberal your reading of the Bible is. Many people are able to reconcile the two, at least to their own personal satisfaction, I don’t see it though.

    dsmith77: Now, since CalvinLawson has asked me to prove some of these claims that evolution has challenges, I would like to direct him to a book called “Origins of Life” [snip] It is written from a scientific perspective, not pseudoscience.

    I beg to differ. Huge Ross (an old Earth creationist) certainly puts forth less pseudoscience when he is talking about his own field (astronomy) than YE creationists, but he goes off the tracks with the best of them when he talks about biology.

    dsmith77: …the Reasons to Believe Model if memory serves me correctly. And predictions are made for each model.

    Yeah I’ve heard some of his “predictions” and they are often simply restatements of what is without any logical connection to how his model actually predicts them being the way they are.

    For example evolutionary theory ‘predicts’, in the sense that this must be true if evolution is true, that we should find that there is a progressive pattern to the fossil record. There is no parallel to this in the “God did it” explanations. Ross can only point to the fossil record and proclaim that it is the way it is because God wanted it that way. But there is no necessity for God to have wanted it exactly that way. He could just as easily chosen another way.

    dsmith77: Today, evolution IS used as a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life whatever Darwin thought or intended.

    No it isn’t. Evolutionary theory only explains the diversification of life after it originated by whatever means (even supernatural). You are conflating multiple scientific explanations (or searches for them) with evolutionary theory.

    Yes evolution is understandably connected to abiogenesis hypotheses (which are all currently speculative) since life had to originate before it could evolve, but that doesn’t make them the same. Similar relationships exist between all scientific theories. For example the universe had to originate (Big Bang theory) before atoms could form and interact (atomic theory).

    Demanding that evolutionary theory explain abiogenesis is like demanding that atomic theory explain the ultimate origin of matter, or that the theory of plate tectonics explain the origin of the Earth. Yes they are connected but they are not the same things.

  120. “If indeed the God of the bible is the one, true God and what is said about him in the scriptures is true, then He cannot contradict himself, is perfect, and created the universe as we know it. Thus, He setup the natural laws with all their complexity. Since He cannot contradict Himself and science merely uncovers how everything works, there should be NO contradictions or conflict between a biblical worldview and a scientific one.”

    dsmith, I apologize for putting words into your mouth; that was wrong of me. It’s always difficult when talking to religious people about this stuff, does he accept evolution, does he not accept evolution; does he believe in biblically innerancy or limited infallibility?

    As someone who used to accept Biblical Infallibility, I can certainly emphasize with what you have to say. I believed it enough to genuinely tried to back it up with cold hard facts. Unfortunately, what I found was that the Bible isn’t even close to infallible; it is riddled with contradictions, fallacies, and blatantly incorrect information. It is impossible to learn the history of the Bible and not recognize the very fallible human voice in it.

    My blog below touches on one of these hundreds of contradictions; it’s hard to believe that Matthew was not making things up so that Jesus fit better into Jewish prophecies about the Messiah:

    http://calvinlawson.wordpress.com/2008/03/05/did-jesus-ride-one-donkey-or-two/

    But of course people claim that when you find problems it’s not the book’s fault, it’s your heurmeneutics that are invalid, or maybe your reasoning ability. You are AUTOMATICALLY dismissed when when your arguments are well researched and and your interpretations based on a historical-grammatical reading.

    It’s always the same; “YOU screwed up, not the writers of the Bible”. Not to say that Scientists never do this with their dogmas, it’s a human thing! But while it is considered a negative thing in science it is considered a very positive thing in Religion, to have faith in the face of contradictory or missing evidence.

    I find this Confirmation Bias to be very frustrating, and it makes it difficult to reason with believers. They just turn you off, or say, “Well, that’s why it’s called Faith!”. And to be fair, this is not limited to Christianity; Scientologist claim the same thing for Hubbard’s “Tech” and Moslems for the Koran.

    When it comes down to it, it’s between those who accept science over faith, and those who accept faith over science. The two cannot be “equal” in a battle; although there is no contradiction as long as their “domains” never overlap (my own personal opinion). I have no doubt that some are able to validate both these things, but that is very difficult to do, like being greedy and following Christ at the same time.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with faith, mysticism, or even philosophy! But IT’S NOT SCIENCE. It’s the opposite of Science.

    Thanks for the reading recommendation, though; I added it to my amazon wish list. I read a lot of books by Christians, even when I completely disagree with the contents. Have you ever read “The Blind Watchmaker”? It covers a lot of this from evolutionist’s viewpoint.

  121. I wish an analogous documentary film was made concerning the DINOGLYFS or dinolits:

    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/dinosaur.htm

    It seems that the ancient man not only saw but also documented the last megafauna (gigafauna, I should say).

    Bruce Alberts it was who first accepted from his post as the president of the National Academy of Sciences USA that the biological machinery can be called as such, machinery, without asserting to metaphora. He gave the students that license in 1998. Other animations on the tiny cellular machineries apart from the Expelled movie can be seen in here:

    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Videos_animations_flagella_evidence_existence_creation_contra_evolution.htm

    Anyway: It is interesting that it is the People of the Book who once more are the initiative spectators who have the balls to question the ambient amen and go against the loudy majority. Not the first time. Here’s some statistics and charts regarding the success of the Jews in science and technological innovations when the others were too stubborn to change their minds:

    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Indicator.html

    This conference poster of mine shows how profoundly the continental, Haeckelian type of evolutionism drived not only the racial World War II but also the nationalistic World War I:

    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Haeckelian_legacy.pdf

    pauli.ojala@gmail.com
    Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)

    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-ID.htm

  122. I wish an analogous documentary film was made concerning the DINOGLYFS or dinolits…

    Well, if there were any real evidence, perhaps there will be. Since we have skeletal evidence of everything early man encountered in his travels and hunts, and no dinosaur evidence above the K-T boundary of any type (predating man’s arrival on the stage by a mere 63 million years) I would hazard that the “dinoglyphs” are about as meaningful as the “human footprints” at Paluxy.

    Alberts’ acceptance of the use of the word “machinery” to describe the intricate workings of cells is just that – a description. Perhaps you should, in your capacity as a drop-out biochemist, actually examine how flagella and so on actually came into existence (on which many dozen papers have been written).

    WW1 and WW2 driven by “…continental, Haeckelian type of evolutionism”. Oh, and you have a poster to prove it? Wow. I have a poster that proves that young women in chainmail bikinis ride dragons; expect an earth-shattering article in “Nature” soon…

  123. Evolution is barely a theory because the mechanism by how it functions, “survival of what survives”, has no explanatory power. Evolution can’t even explain what “survival” is or what “living” is!

    Science doesn’t give learned and fallible “common sense” descriptions (“explanations”), it provides observational facts and validated theories.

    How can we see that evolution is a science? (Besides that it is already accepted as such by biologists and other scientists.) Well, first we need to have repeatable observations that fall under a minimal definition of evolution:

    Evolution is a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations.

    That we have – antibiotic resistance, genetic lineages, molecular lineages, organelle lineages, domestication, observed speciations, and fossils.

    Second, we need a predictive theory based on the observed mechanisms (variation, selection, et cetera). That we have – we can predict spread of antibiotic resistance, population changes, stable phylogenetic trees, and transitional fossils such as Tiktaalik.

    Incidentally, evolution can describe survival and life. Survival as described by evolution is what happens under reproductive success, and life is what happens to organisms – organisms that can be defined under evolution as:

    An organism is the unit element of a continuous lineage with an individual evolutionary history.

    So viruses are (arguably) organisms that follow an evolutionary pathway, while for example prions are (arguably) not. (Too “dirty” and unfaithful assemblages of misfolded proteins.)

  124. To be perfectly clear, evolution can be seen as the ongoing process of life, and the more particular organismic or anthropomorphic sense of life is what happens to the individual organism.

  125. Would you believe there’s less murder and rape and terrorism in the United States than there was 27 years ago, when they banned creationism from state schools? Half as much. One-third as much property crime. There are terrible things in this world, but people not teaching creationism doesn’t seem to contribute to them all that much.

    Glazius, I think you misunderstood my point. I didn’t mean that the way people believe in creation or evolution and/or how it is taught makes a difference in the crime rate.
    What I meant is that when I see all of that crime, and evolution implies that it is simply random chance and occurrence with nothing to keep it in check, it scares me. When there is no purpose to different events, especially disasters, it shows me that these bad things can happen to me and nothing is there to stop them or show me why they happened. Do you know what I mean? It’s kind of hard to put in words. . .
    I’m sorry for the miscommunication.
    Thanks, borehole. . . :)

    V, your comment about how ID is untestable interests me. . I agree with you, in a sense. It is a theory. Just like evolution is a theory.
    Evolution hasn’t really been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, obviously, because people are questioning it. I realize that ID also has its issues.
    The thing about theories is that sometimes they’re hard to prove.
    ID seems to explain the orderliness and detail in the universe. . . You can’t prove it the way you can prove that air is made up of nitrogen and oxygen and different gases – by investigating and experimenting. . .
    How do scientists try to prove evolution, I’d like to know? I’m not being sarcastic, actually. I really want to know.
    As far as I know, and I’m no expert, what scientists do is speculate about the different points of progress. . . How do they really become absolutely, totally, positively certain of Evolution?
    ID seems to explain the orderliness and detail in the universe. . . You can’t prove it the way you can prove that air is made up of nitrogen and oxygen and different gases – by investigating and experimenting. . .

  126. your comment about how ID is untestable interests me. . I agree with you, in a sense. It is a theory. Just like evolution is a theory.

    Well, it’s not really a theory at all, nor even an hypothesis. At best it’s a statement, and not a scientific one. In order to be a theory, as has been pointed out many, many times in this discussion and elsewhere, it would have to make a prediction SOMEWHERE; it does not, and nor has it ever done that.

    The gall of ID proponents is astonishing at times; one of my pet peeves is the title of Behe’s book “Darwin’s Black Box”. Darwin has no “black box” processes; indeed, evolutionary theory practically states that all its processes must be transparent; they may be hard to see, but they should be, and are, able to be seen. The only “black box” in the ID-evolution discussion is Behe’s own, although he would never admit to it.

    Science abhors the black box ; everything must be understandable in order to be testable, ultimately. While certain theories currently DO conatin “black box” processes (such as Dark Matter/Dark Energy), the business of science is not to propagate these black boxes, but to ultimately crack them open and dispel them. ID does not WANT to open its own black box, and when science actually does open up the box of so-called “irreducible complexity”, IDers simply won’t accept it, and change the subject, which is completely anti-science.

    If ID proponents are not amenable to the concepts and techniques of science, and their idea itself actively seeks to remove inquiry by use of black boxes, then ID cannot be a theory!

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  128. V, your comment about how ID is untestable interests me. . I agree with you, in a sense. It is a theory. Just like evolution is a theory. Evolution hasn’t really been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, obviously, because people are questioning it.

    Oh, this is so … wrong.

    I would think it has been said often enough; but “theory”, a term with about as long history within science as the theory of evolution, has never been used in its more modern colloquial meaning in science.

    In math it can simply mean “area of study”, but in natural sciences it means a collection of data and the means with which this data is predicted. If an idea, which is what ID amounts to, has no means of test, it is not a theory.

    Likewise, you don’t “prove” theories, by your own words scientists test them. If they can’t predict new data with the data they are based on they must be rejected. The survivors are provisionally accepted.

    To validate a theory beyond reasonable doubt it has to predict the data precisely and robustly, again and again. This is easily quantifiable in physics, but even such complicated fields as biology can do this over a longer period. It will actually work to these theories advantage, because predicting robustly such a plethora of effects means that it will be very unlikely that the theories are wrong.

    Suffice to say, that all parts of science accepts biology as another science, and that evolution as the basic biology theory has been validated beyond reasonable doubt long since. The theory is 150 years old, and the process of evolution itself has been known as a fact for over 200 years, so how could it be otherwise?

    How to make this known to the public seems a bit of a problem though.

  129. Glazius – I may be a lay person. I am not, however, ill-informed.

    Darwin disproved: Take a look at his drawings of in utero creatures. He constantly compared the early embryo and fetus’ of human beings to that of pigs and other animals.

    I’m here to tell you that medical science has roundly disproved those drawings/pictures/whatever you want to call them. I’ve seen them with my own eyes, as a lay person. Medical professionals, biologists, anthropologists, abortionists, all of them will concede that the embryo and early human fetus looks absolutely nothing like Darwin’s crude drawing and compares nothing to a fetal pig. We were able to distinguish my son’s genitalia at 13 weeks in utero. He did not possess any “tail” as so classically drawn. Many scientists will admit that human beings do not develop a tail at all in the womb, but that it fits the theory of evolution nicely and so it is still promoted in popular scientific literature.

    Oh, and plenty of people understand how God’s creation works. Simply because you do not does not make it untrue.

  130. Torbjörn Larsson, OM, can you wrote.. “To validate a theory beyond reasonable doubt it has to predict the data precisely and robustly, again and again.”

    Can you please share with me the laboratory experiment that demonstrates again and again that one species evolves into another? I would love to recreate that test at home.

  131. Hey J.R. Miller, did you ever think about doing something like googling “speciation” or even taking a little time out of your day to go to the library to pick up a book about it. Here’s a hint: Jerry Coyne wrote a book called (get this) “Speciation” that should answer many of your questions. But who are we kidding, you’ve already made up your mind and no amount of evidence will change it. On second thought, leave that book in the library for someone who really wants to learn something.

  132. I’ll take that as a no then that you are unable to meet the same standard of scientific testing that you require of Creationists. Why, because Evolution Theory, and Creation Theory, is weak on science on strong in philosophy.

  133. Re: Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Re: Troy Britain

    Torbjörn, I like your explanation of the word theory and how it is used in scientific explanations. Very well put I think.

    I have a question, though, for either of you.

    Torbjörn said “Suffice to say, that all parts of science accepts biology as another science, and that evolution as the basic biology theory has been validated beyond reasonable doubt long since. The theory is 150 years old, and the process of evolution itself has been known as a fact for over 200 years, so how could it be otherwise?”

    I found myself having to clarify a position earlier in one of my posts. Troy, you corrected me on how I used evolution to refer to abiogenesis and I appreciate that. I must admit that I was confusing the terms. I really do try to be as clear and honest as possible.

    In the above quote from Torbjörn’s post, evolutionary theory is described as a well understood process and an accurate explanation of natural phenomena in biology. So, am I correct in concluding that I am now in agreement with both you and Troy (and probably some others) that evolution is a proven mechanism for how life changes over time and adapts to its environment AFTER life originated?

    Troy, you said that “abiogenesis hypotheses … [were] … currently speculative”. That is what I was referring to in an earlier post although I referred to it as origin of life I think. For me, the term ‘abiogenesis’ has an implied assumption about where life came from. The semantics notwithstanding, I believe we are also in agreement on this issue as well. To state it more clearly, we are in agreement that current evolutionary theory has explanatory power over existing life, but not as yet over how that life came to be.

    I am simply trying to clarify my understanding and language on these topics. I think that the same mistaken assumption I made is the same basic mistake that many Christians also make – that evolution is used to describe the origin of life. Isn’t the current morass of debate the likely result of this oversimplification? It is this area regarding life origins that fuels the fires, so to speak, on the religious side.

    I do not believe evolutionary theory will provide the answer to the origin of life. I think that will continue to elude biologists as long as they seek a naturalistic explanation for life’s origin. And that point is where I think we differ the most and it is the most fundamental point for me. So far, there is little evidence to support a naturalistic (evolutionary) origin for life in the scientific research.

    Pardon me if I have again ‘mixed my metaphors’ though I would appreciate a response.

  134. I do not believe evolutionary theory will provide the answer to the origin of life.

    Well, it’s not intended to, much as gravitational theory does not provide an answer to the origins of the universe; it is simply one part of an ongoing scientific quest for knowledge.

    That said, there are ELEMENTS of evolutionary theory (especially those that pertain to self-organizing principles and the amazing fact that life actually requires far fewer operating genes to actually exist) that may feed in to abiogenesis. Science is profoundly honest on the question of abiogensis, and that honesty is taken advantage of by IDers and other creaitonists; namely, when asked how life began, science says “I don’t know”. Further, it may NEVER know, and accepts that fact; even if a fully operational and working theory of abiogenesis is formulated, it is impossible to know if it is the way it occurred on the infant Earth almost 4 billion years ago.

    IDers and other cranks take advantage of science’s honesty daily; defenders of evolution and other theories that cranks subject to attack must remain honest in their defense, even if it lets the door be opened to the outrageous tactics of those same cranks.

    BTW – anyone catch Stein on “Glenn Beck”? I don’t usually watch Beck, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to watch two fools get their hatchets out for science. To swipe from Beck himself, blood did, indeed, shoot out of my eyeballs.

    Mind you, I shouldn’t be surprised, since, as far as I can tell, every other Friday, Beck interviews someone who claims we are living in the End Times…

  135. dsmith77 says:

    So, am I correct in concluding that I am now in agreement with both you and Troy (and probably some others) that evolution is a proven mechanism for how life changes over time and adapts to its environment AFTER life originated?

    Scientific thoeries are not proven, but supported.

    But yes, evolution is a theory of the development of life, not it’s origin. Obviously though, however life arose on Earth, it must have been compatible with its subsequent evolution. Therefore there must have been some sort of overlap between chemisty and biology where the two morphed together, to coin a phrase.

    J. R. Miller writes:

    Can you please share with me the laboratory experiment that demonstrates again and again that one species evolves into another?

    Let me guess. Engineer, right?

    You are under the unfortunate missapprehension that only experiments done on top of a lab bench count as science. Looking at your own source, you will note that they talk about planetary motions and how study of that constitutes science. Can you reproduce planetary motions in a lab experiment?

  136. dsmith77: So, am I correct in concluding that I am now in agreement with both you and Troy (and probably some others) that evolution is a proven mechanism for how life changes over time and adapts to its environment AFTER life originated?

    Not ‘proven’. Nothing is ever proven, at least not in the final sense, in science. It would be more proper to say that evolution is a thoroughly tested and well supported explanation (theory) for how life has changed and diversified on Earth through time. And it continues to be tested and refined day after day.

    Just a note on Torbjörn’s comment: I think he might have overstated the timeline a bit. The descent with modification/common descent part of Darwin’s theory was accepted by most in the scientific community shortly after he published the Origin of Species. The evidence had been building for decades (under the creationist paradigm) and was only a matter of time before the shift happened. There were quasi-evolutionary ideas floating around before Darwin (Lamarck etc.), but these were a minority view.

    And real widespread acceptance of Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection as a main driving force behind evolution didn’t come until much later (1930′s) with the initiation of the modern evolutionary synthesis.

    To state it more clearly, we are in agreement that current evolutionary theory has explanatory power over existing life, but not as yet over how that life came to be.

    I do not believe evolutionary theory will provide the answer to the origin of life.

    Rebeldreams, answered in much the way I would have so I will just reiterate. Evolutionary theory will not answer the question because it is not intended to even try to answer it. Again your statement is the equivalent of saying something like: I do not believe the theory of plate tectonics will provide the answer to the origin of the Earth. Or I do not believe the atomic theory will provide the answer to the origin of the universe.

    I think that will continue to elude biologists as long as they seek a naturalistic explanation for life’s origin.

    There is no other sort of explanation they can seek as long as they are seeking a scientific explanation for life’s origin. Supernatural explanations are not amenable to testing and are therefore scientifically useless.

    So their option is to either give up or continue to search for possible natural explanations. Not a tough choice for anyone with even a little bit of curiosity, especially considering sciences successful track record for finding natural explanations for things previously thought to be of divine origin.

    And that point is where I think we differ the most and it is the most fundamental point for me.

    Well, you have to either propose a testable non-natural mechanism for the origin of life (pardon me if I don’t hold my breath waiting for that), or you can abandon any pretense of caring about science (“I believe God did it and that settles it”).

    So far, there is little evidence to support a naturalistic (evolutionary) origin for life in the scientific research.

    You can give up and take a faith position on the question if you like but it will be just that, a faith position.

  137. Pingback: Darwin’s embryo drawings flawed? « Playing Chess with Pigeons

  138. Can you please share with me the laboratory experiment that demonstrates again and again that one species evolves into another? I would love to recreate that test at home.

    Certainly, phylogenetic trees of molecules such as DNA or proteins, in species and/or between species. While IANAB AFAIU those converge on robust trees when you get enough data, so later additions will improve the certainties. Talkorigins have a basic description with references. [No link, seems it gets stuck for moderation.]

    To do this at home you would need for example a DNA sequencer, so I think the cost is prohibitive at the moment. Wait a few years. Meanwhile you can access such data free over the internet, and do your own trees that no one has done before. Sundry science blogs have walked through this procedure many times for us laymen.

    Isn’t that wonderful, being able to objectively evaluating the science of evolutionary theory at home?! (As long as you remember that this isn’t “validating”. It takes real studies to do that.) No large particle accelerators or radio telescopes there.

    You can of course go outside the lab environment and extract data from fossils as well, or rather let the scientists do as it is more qualified work. Remember that validation by prediction isn’t restricted to lab experiments, all observations is of course admissible.

  139. And real widespread acceptance of Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection as a main driving force behind evolution didn’t come until much later (1930’s) with the initiation of the modern evolutionary synthesis.

    Oops, my bad. While my wording has some leeway (depending on what “The theory” is taken to mean), I certainly didn’t mean to give a false impression.

    Thanks for the description of the history on the subject!

  140. So far, there is little evidence to support a naturalistic (evolutionary) origin for life in the scientific research.

    I have yet another perspective on this. It seems from recent research that it will be relatively easy to study the statistics of nearby earth analog biospheres starting in one or two decades for such things as atmospheric composition and temperatures. If life is so easy to start that current data on earth history indicates we can expect quite a sample in a few decades.

    Such data can presumably both restrict the search for ETI as well as abiogenesis theories, for the benefit of both fields. But in any case it will in such a case be difficult to claim that life including abiogenesis isn’t common natural phenomena.

    So I don’t quite see the rationality in expecting otherwise, even now and certainly not later. But that is the question here, isn’t it?

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  142. “Suffice to say, that all parts of science accepts biology as another science, and that evolution as the basic biology theory has been validated beyond reasonable doubt long since. The theory is 150 years old, and the process of evolution itself has been known as a fact for over 200 years, so how could it be otherwise?”

    Could you please tell me when and how Evolution has been validated. :D
    Just because the thoery (or rather, statement) has been around and in use for over 200 years does not make it true. People believed the world was flat for thousands of years, only to find that it was round. . . .

  143. Here is a link to a post my dad made about evolution. Take it for what it is. .

    Uh… OK. Ill-informed? Check. Factually inaccurate? Check. Regurgitating the same old tenets of creationist and/or ID belief… uh, that would be a “check”.

    But thanks for playing anyway.

    Could you please tell me when and how Evolution has been validated

    Well, OK… try talkorigins.org, pick up a few hundred back-issues of “Nature”, “Cellular Biology”, “Natural History Magazine”, “Proccedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, “Proceedings of the Royal Society”, drop in on your friendly-neighborhood university Biology department, and their Zoology and Geology departments too, if you wish. Ask your doctor, your local drug-company rep, your pharmacist and even exterminator.

    Talk to any actually involved in the life-sciences and they’d be happy to give you a rundown on exactly how evolution informs their little part of it, and maybe even a good lecture on a more general overview than, perhaps, you were able to get in this discussion here, since evidently you missed it.

  144. @ Felicity:

    Could you please tell me when and how Evolution has been validated.

    You can read any history of science book, look up evolution history on Wikipedia et cetera. As for the lowdown to how, I gave examples and references in earlier comments.

  145. What I’m trying to say is that just because the books say it doesn’t necessarily mean it happened. I want to know how they have proven evolution. I mean, tested it, found real, stable evidence. The timeline on Wikipedia is interesting, but just because information is placed before you doesn’t mean that it is right. (And I’m not talking about Wikipedia. :) )
    I have a science project to do within the next few weeks, and I am going to try to prove my hypothesis by testing it out on multiple subjects, etc. Can you prove evolution like that?

    I’ll take that as a no then that you are unable to meet the same standard of scientific testing that you require of Creationists. Why, because Evolution Theory, and Creation Theory, is weak on science on strong in philosophy.

    I agree with J.R. Miller.
    Everyone seems to think that it is real scientific material, proven and everything, but I think it’s not so much of a scientific standpoint as a philosophical standpoint. If so, then you can’t really prove it.
    To be fair, I have to put the same standards to my own beliefs – creationism/ID isn’t really a scientific standpoint so much as it is a philosophical standpoint.
    No one knows for absolute certain where life came from or how it got to be the way it is now. We can only speculate.

    So far, there is little evidence to support a naturalistic (evolutionary) origin for life in the scientific research.

    You can give up and take a faith position on the question if you like but it will be just that, a faith position.

    This is what I’m trying to say. No matter what your beliefs are about evolution or ID, they are faith positions, as Troy Britain just said.

    Thanks for listening to my rant. :)

  146. Felicity says:

    I want to know how they have proven evolution. I mean, tested it, found real, stable evidence.

    K.

    There are two types of genetic mistakes which leave broad-ranging evidence. They’re called “pseudogenes” and “endogenous retroviral sequences”, or ERVs.

    Psuedogenes are flawed copies of actual genes that are nonfunctional. ERVs are what happens when a retrovirus writes itself into the DNA but can’t get back out again. There are a lot of possible ERV sites in any given genome, but only a few where a retrovirus has actually gotten stuck.

    PURPOSE: Prove that humans and chimpanzees share a more recent common ancestor than any other extant species.

    METHODS: Sequence several human and chimpanzee genomes. (and some other species like dogs, cattle, gorillas, etc.) Since pseudogenes and ERVs don’t affect survival one way or the other these sequences should be conserved in the long run.

    HYPOTHESIS: Humans will share more pseudogenes and ERVs with chimpanzees than with any other species tested.

    RESULTS: well, look here for starters.

    That’s how you test evolutionary theory. Use it to make a prediction and see if the prediction holds up.

    Everyone seems to think that it is real scientific material, proven and everything, but I think it’s not so much of a scientific standpoint as a philosophical standpoint. If so, then you can’t really prove it.

    You’re only half right.

    Evolutionary theory is a framework which, on its own, cannot be tested – only the predictions it makes about the ancestry and progress of life can be tested. Fortunately we have some life here on Earth and we can observe its ancestry and follow its progress. Otherwise evolution would be useless.

    Similarly, algebra would be useless if we didn’t have any numbers, and no critical analysis of Shakespeare’s Hamlet would be any good if there was no Hamlet.

    You see where I’m going with this, I hope. Evolution and whatever coat creationism has chosen to wear today are both frameworks for thinking about the progress of life. You’re right to say that you can’t test a framework. However, you CAN test the predictions made by the framework, and if they don’t come out the way you thought, then either your assumptions going into the test were wrong or the framework is flawed.

    And the difference between evolution and crintelligent designtionism is that evolution makes testable predictions and the other one doesn’t.

  147. @ Felicity:

    A history book will give you further references. It is 150 years of research, on the order of 100 000 papers, and 10′s of thousands of independent tests, so you can’t expect anyone to detail them all for you. Do your homework.

    Oh, and read Glazius comment for an excellent example among those thousands of independent tests.

  148. Felicity: I want to know how they have proven evolution.

    Your first problem is that nothing in science is ever proven, certainly not in the final sense. Your second is that scientific theories, and especially evolutionary theory, do not come into being by someone thinking up an idea (like say, writing a creation story) and then looking for evidence to prop up that idea. Rather science begins with observations (facts) and attempts to explain them. So the question is does evolutionary theory explain the facts in a coherent and testable manner, not “how do you prove it?”

    For example it wasn’t Darwin who came up with the idea of the fossil record showing a clear pattern of progressive change; it was the creationist scientists who came before him who documented that this was the case. Darwin merely took what was already accepted as fact by the creationists and gave it (and many others) a better explanation.

    I mean, tested it, found real, stable evidence.

    That there is a progressive pattern to the fossil record has been considered established fact since the 1830′s.

    I have a science project to do within the next few weeks, and I am going to try to prove my hypothesis by testing it out on multiple subjects, etc. Can you prove evolution like that?

    You can’t “prove” anything like that.

    Everyone seems to think that it is real scientific material, proven and everything, but I think it’s not so much of a scientific standpoint as a philosophical standpoint.

    And you’re mistaken.

    To be fair, I have to put the same standards to my own beliefs – creationism/ID isn’t really a scientific standpoint so much as it is a philosophical standpoint.

    Even calling it a “philosophical” standpoint is perhaps being overgenerous but I won’t quibble.

    No one knows for absolute certain where life came from or how it got to be the way it is now. We can only speculate.

    As far as the origin of life goes we can do more than speculate we can continue to search for possible natural explanations for how it may have occurred. How life got to be the way it is now (regardless as to how it fist formed) is pretty well established, your desire to believe otherwise notwithstanding.

    dsmith77: So far, there is little evidence to support a naturalistic (evolutionary) origin for life in the scientific research.

    Me: You can give up and take a faith position on the question if you like but it will be just that, a faith position.

    Felicity: This is what I’m trying to say. No matter what your beliefs are about evolution or ID, they are faith positions, as Troy Britain just said.

    No Felicity that is not what I said. I was talking about the origin of life only, not evolution. And there is a non-faith, ‘scientific’ position to take on the origin of life… we don’t know. If dsmith77, or you, claim that you do know how life originated and that it was God that did it, then you are taking not only a faith position but an untestable one at that.

  149. Personally I belive the theory of stupid design or SD. This theory states that living things where created, but in a way to flawed and senseless for the the creator to be considered intelligent.
    I mean seriously, take the appendix (the one in the stomach). In humans it sole function is to get an infection kill you, it has no other use and can be safely removed. What kind of moron design something like that?
    Or the disks in the spine. If they are subject to pressure for an extended time the start to slowly compress, dry out and get fragile. Only way to decompress them is hang from something as much as possible. Why would anyone design a walking creature that way. I mean it make some sense if we were meant to hang and climb, but when walking? Quite frankly it’s just idiotic to design humans in a way.
    Or that fish in the amasonas that swims into the your penis and locks itself there with a bunch of barbed hooks. Why would anyone make something like that in the first place? The only possible explanation is that the designer is’nt just stupid but also a major bastard.

    Those are just some examples I could think of for the moment, there are plenty more.

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