Monday, December 7, 2009

Joe Felsenstein: Just Look at the Evidence

As a follow-up to his earlier comments that design is not a legitimate scientific hypothesis, evolutionist Joe Felsenstein adds this comment:

Thanks to Cornelius Hunter for quoting my comment at Panda's Thumb in its entirety, without emendation (he did add some emphasis, in color, but not in a way that changed my meaning).

My comment was not responsive to the origin of T-urf13 but was intended as a response to many other comments Hunter has made on this blog (and at Uncommon Descent) in which he argues that one cannot predict what a Designer would do, and thus that arguments that she would not make bad design are invalid.

As should be clear from my statement, I was pointing out that this makes the hypothesis of a Designer not a scientific theory, and thus not a credible alternative to naturalist explanations.

Oh, and it should be clear that naturalism does *not* create an "intellectual necessity" of evolution. There are explanations that might be advanced that are not evolutionary but are natural. It is the evidence, not simply naturalism itself, that is the basis for concluding that life has evolved.

Unfortunately these misrepresentations are typical of evolutionists. Not only are evolution's metaphysical arguments from dysteleology, or bad design, perfectly valid, they can also be quite powerful. Felsenstein's strawman that we say otherwise would be bizarre if it wasn't so common.

Next Felsenstein explains that his message is that he thinks that the hypothesis of a Designer is "not a scientific theory, and thus not a credible alternative to naturalist explanations."

Yes, that is precisely the point. The intellectual necessity is a metaphysical argument for naturalistic explanations. As with all the dozen or more metaphysical mandates for evolution, the argument attacks design or creation using non scientific premises that a design or creation advocate would not recognize.

Felsenstein next writes that "naturalism does *not* create an "intellectual necessity" of evolution." Of course it doesn't and it is a wonder that Felsenstein arrived at such a backward reading. The mandates for naturalism and evolution come from religious and philosophical traditions entailing non scientific premises.

Evolutionists consistently mischaracterize criticism to convert serious problems into so many strawmen to knockdown.

Finally Felsenstein appeals to the evidence. Evolutionists are notorious for their claims that the science proves evolution to be a fact. But such proofs always rely on metaphysics. The number of evolutionists who have explained how the science proves evolution is precisely zero.

And, to forestall the usual response, no one is misunderstanding what "fact" means. Evolutionists say their theory is a fact as much as is gravity or the round shape of the earth. That is an absurd claim which, not surprisingly, has never been justified scientifically.

I have tremendous respect for Felsenstein's smarts as a scientist and the quality of his work. But so often we see world-class scientists appear foolish propping up evolution. Religion drives science and it matters.


  1. Human Genomics: Vestiges of Eden or Skeletons in the Closet?

  2. Sorry to have taken so long (partly because it was the end of our academic quarter). I have now posted a response to this post at Panda's Thumb.