But the origins debate is different. Here the evolution paradigm itself is questioned. That evolutionary framework and filter through which all data and hypotheses must fit is up for debate. Perhaps evolution, or at least core parts of the framework, are not true.
One may scorn at such folly and remain within the paradigm. Or one may argue against such folly. But one may not do both. It makes no sense to interpret the evidence from within the paradigm, and then argue that such interpretations prove the paradigm. In order to defend evolution as true, one must examine the evidence from a theory-neutral perspective.
Here is a simple example: A new horse fossil is discovered and evolutionists decide where it fits best amongst the already known fossils. It may not fit perfectly, and the evolutionists may be unsure about which twig in the evolutionary bush is right for this new fossil (or if perhaps a new twig should be hypothesized). But they believe evolution is true and so the fossil must fit somewhere. They announce to the world that horse evolution is now better understood and apologists then use the finding as an example of powerful evidence for evolution. After all, the evolution of the horse has been revealed.
But of course the fossil revealed no such evolutionary step—it was interpreted as an evolutionary step. Unfortunately this sophistry is common. All the time I see evolutionists making just this sort of argument. Arthur Hunt, for instance, uses de novo genes in just such an argument. Genes that are found in only one or a few allied species are sometimes thought to be newly evolved. Hunt realizes the evolution of such genes might seem “difficult to some” as there are “judicious” events that must have occurred.
Now from within the evolution paradigm, there is the question of whether such genes really are de novo. Could they not have evolved via some other mechanisms, such as lateral gene transfer. Evolutionists investigate such options, and sometimes can find none that work. In these instances they conclude a gene must be newly evolved. Hunt explains these issues and then erroneously argues that since the other evolutionary options have been eliminated for these genes, therefore they must be de novo genes, and therefore de novo genes do not pose a problem for evolution. He writes:
I would encourage readers to read the paper … This is the best way to appreciate that this one pillar of [design] thought, that new protein-coding genes cannot arise by “natural” means, is an illusion.
Design can occur by natural means but that is another story. What is even more problematic than this caricature of design is Hunt’s argument for evolution according to its own assumptions.
The paper, of course, provides no compelling explanation for the blind evolution of de novo genes. As usual the paper presupposes that such blind evolution must have occurred. Therefore the paper’s conclusions must be carefully weighed rather than simply employed as evidence for blind evolution. This logical fallacy is, unfortunately, pervasive in the origins discussion.