Thursday, June 3, 2010

Arguing with Evolutionists or How I Could be Rich

If I had a nickel for every time evolutionists insisted that they are merely following the evidence, immediately after (or before) making religious arguments, I think I would be a zillionaire. You can read about Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers insisting on their innocence here and here, but this self contradiction is not limited to the big shots. From laboratories to sanctuaries, and dorm rooms to chat rooms, the constant refrain of evolutionists is that the raw data make their idea a fact, but then the supporting arguments are religious. Evolutionists are the proverbial fish that doesn’t know it’s in water, the lampshade partier who doesn’t know he is drunk.

Recently an evolutionist informed me that this idea that evolution is religious is all wrong. Oh really? Indeed, yes, utter nonsense. The evidence behind evolution is compelling and obvious. How embarrassing for anyone to question it. Like it or not, evolution is a fact.

Oh boy, here we go again. So what sort of evidence is so powerful that it can make such an unlikely idea into a fact? We’re supposed to think that the most complex designs known arose on their own, and indeed we must accept this as fact or we are ignorant. This must be very persuasive, powerful evidence. So what are some examples?

As usual, the evolutionist provided evidences that are indeed very powerful. But their power comes not from a scientific interpretation, but from a religious or metaphysical interpretation. For example, the evolutionist cited pseudogenes.

Pseudogenes are disabled genes and similar pseudogenes, with similar disabling mutations, are found in cousin species. Surely, as the argument goes, this is proof positive of common descent. There’s only one problem, the premise of the proof is not scientific.

This pseudogene example is a good one because it mirrors so many others that have come before. The evidence, from a scientific perspective, is circumstantial and mixed. Yes, some pseudogenes have similar disabling mutations in different species, the so-called shared errors. But there is evidence that mutations are not always random to begin with, and hot spots have been observed in pseudogenes. Furthermore, there are disabling mutation patterns in some pseudogenes that cannot be explained by common descent. So here even evolutionists agree that repeated mutations must have occurred independently.

We can certainly chalk up some instances of the pseudogene evidence as successful predictions of evolution, but on the whole it is not that simple.

So at best, from a scientific perspective, we have a successful prediction. But there are many failed predictions as well. In science we do not select the evidences the help our case and claim victory. We need to look at all the evidence.

Such details, however, are not a problem for evolutionists for there is another side to the pseudogene argument. As with so many other evidences that have been enlisted by evolutionists, the pseudogenes, they say, would never have been designed or created.

As Elliott Sober explained recently (though it has been obvious for centuries), the strength of the evolutionary argument is not in its driving up the probability of evolution, but in its driving down the probability of creation or design.

At its core evolutionary thinking is contrastive. It’s evolution versus creation—us versus them. In this zero sum game, either they’re right and we’re wrong, or they’re wrong and we’re right. And since the evidence shows that they’re wrong, then we must be right. There you have it, evolution is a fact. But the argument is not scientific. It relies on private, subjective premises about design or creation.

The logic is rarely spelled out as plainly as in Sober’s paper. A rhetorical question or snide comment will usually do to make the point. “We’ll leave others to figure out why god would create such junk,” is a typical taunt.

And so isn’t it obvious that in all of this evolution is just science? When probed about his metaphysics, the evolutionist has a variety of canards at the ready to separate himself from the religion he has planted. “Why, we’re just testing your theory of creationism,” is the usual first stop.

But that’s not my theory of creationism. And even if it was, your rebuke would then allow only for the conclusion that my particular theory of creationism is false—not that evolution is compelling.

In fact, most of the strong evolutionary arguments entail religious premises which are not found in creationism or design—instead they arose in various traditions within the web of evolutionary thought. As with so many other origin tales, evolution entails strong religious feelings about god and the world. If I only had a nickel.

64 comments:


  1. At its core evolutionary thinking is contrastive. It’s evolution versus creation—us versus them. In this zero sum game, either they’re right and we’re wrong, or they’re wrong and we’re right. And since the evidence shows that they’re wrong, then we must be right.


    Absolutely, totally, completely, decidedly, categorically, unambiguously, 100%, 24 carat WRONG.

    Could not be more wrong! Could not be further from the truth. I tried to push it a little further away from the truth but it was already as far away as it could get! It's a big bag of wrong, a whole heap of wrong, a great big seven course meal of wrong when every course comes with another huge side-plate of wrong!

    I have tried to make you understand so many times that I'm running out of ways to say it. I can do it in Italian if that will help...?

    In a post littered with half-truths and distortions, this particular false assertion howls out like a banshee.

    Evolution is NOT, and I'll repeat that, NOT built upon the assumption that creation (or any other SPECIFIC hypothesis) is wrong.

    To do so would be unscientific in the extreme.

    I don't know where you got the idea that it does, but you are certainly holding onto it very tightly and refuse to let go. Possibly because without it the basis of your 'religion drives science' argument unravels very quickly - as it does in the minds of those of us who do not subscribe to this total non-fact.

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  2. No doubt that just sounded like a blustery rant, so let's go through this slowly.

    We're just creatures in the midst of a world we are trying to understand. There is mystery all around us. But how do we figure out how this world works?

    Well, the way we have come up with is to use the scientific method - that is to look at the world around us and draw up theories which we then test and try to pull apart to see which ones stand up and which ones don't.

    It is at this point - square one - that creationism is shown the door. It fails as being science. The result of any possible experiment could be accounted for with 'God did it/set it up to be like that'.

    Does the exclusion of creationism from the table assist any other particular theory? Nope. We are still left with lots of questions. But explaining things in terms of magic or miracles won't help.

    So now we get onto figuring out how the world DOES work. Well, some people think up clever theories which we can test to see if they fit in with the way the world works. Like Darwin. He thought up a theory. And we tested it lots to see if it was true.

    If it was true, then we would, for example, see a very particular pattern in the fossil record. We would see very specific patterns in biodiversity. We would see specific pattern in our DNA record. And these predictions have been largely vindicated.

    The theory of evolution was built on observations of similarities between species and went from there. These observations are facts, not religiously motivated premeses. The theory initially simply explained these facts - and a whole lot more once it got going.

    Does this theory make metaphysical assumptions? Apart from the general 'we must not use magic and miracles in our explanations' which absolutely every scientific theory makes, then no. Does it assume anything at all about characterists of a God which may or may not exist? No.

    Creationism of any sort utterly fails as science. That is one fact. Evolution has held up to years of intense scientific scrutiny. That is another fact. Are these two fact connected? Well they are similar in that creationism and the theory of evolution are differeing explanations of the same data and try to address the same questions. But apart from that, no. Creationism fails as science. Evolution does not. These are distinct points. Not built upon each other. Evolution is not true BECAUSE creationism fails as science. Creationism does not fail as science BECAUSE evolution is true. They are distinct facts. Not inter-related ones.

    Where you got the silly 'evolution-or-creationism' idea, I really don't know. But you have been flogging this particular horse for a very long time without apparently noticing it is long, long dead.

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  3. Cornelius (or do you prefer George?) would you rather argue creationism than evolution? Are they in fact mutually exclusive? There are many contributors to the Biologos forum that have no problem with sharing a belief in God's creation with an interest in Science.

    How old did you say you thought the Earth is?

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  4. Have a look at Gordon glover's comments in this Biologos thread.

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  5. Oh and @ Ilion (if he's still around). You might take a look at the comments section. You could learn something about the art of civil discourse and making a substantive point.

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  6. Hmmm, just going over my last post I think I should re-word something. Instead of:


    Evolution is not true BECAUSE creationism fails as science. Creationism does not fail as science BECAUSE evolution is true.


    read

    "It is not true that evolution is correct BECAUSE creationism fails as science. It is likewise not true that creationism fails as science BECAUSE evolution is true."

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  7. Can we explain phenomena like Stonehenge and the Easter Island statues without invoking magic and miracles? Is it unreasonable to say these are more likely the products of some intelligent force since we know of no natural processes capable of producing things like these? Is this science?

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  8. CH, you couldn't give a more clear example of how little you understand the workings of science and how much support the theory of evolution has if you tried.

    But since you're not interested in science, only blustering empty rhetoric, I suppose that's not a problem for you.

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  9. another nickel? I thought the last one got taken back after you thoroughly embarrassed yourself misinterpreting Theobald's paper. Is SOber going to have to appear next and explain how you're misinterpreting his work as well (here's a hint: separate ancestry is not the same thing as creationism)?

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  10. Science is about finding the rules that bind cause to effect. We have life--the effect--so what was the cause? The rule evolution proposes is replication with mutation and selection. Its pretty simple at its core. Gain of function has been tested and proven.

    Science requires testability and repeatibility. For that reason we disallow explanations involving the supernatural. So, while it is wrong minded to use "God wouldn't have" arguments, it is in effect the same as leaving the supernatural out of the picture. This isn't metaphysics, this is the basis of science.

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  11. Suckerspawn -


    Can we explain phenomena like Stonehenge and the Easter Island statues without invoking magic and miracles?


    Well, yes we can. People built and crafted them. That alone is a hypothesis. We can then test it by going out and looking for evidence of human habitation in the right areas at the right times. This will not prove conclusively that humans built them, but will be good supporting evidence.


    Is it unreasonable to say these are more likely the products of some intelligent force since we know of no natural processes capable of producing things like these?


    No, it is not unreasonable, because we have natural candidates for these 'intelligent agents' - humans. This is a million miles away from 'some random agent about whom we know nothing and cannot discover anything, ever'.


    Is this science?


    That would be archaeology. Notice the pattern of the scientific method - observation, hypothesis, experimentation.

    And even if we couldn't think up a natural hypothesis which explained them, the scientific conclusion would be 'For the moment, it's a mystery', not 'It must have been magic/a miracle'.

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  12. T. Cook,

    Mutation and selection are explanations of evolution as long as one does not have to define the step-by-step pathways that actually performed these amazing biological construction feats.

    There is no net gain in actual knowledge by not painstakingly showing the pathways to how all these wonderful things are actually produced by evolutionary processes.

    Mutation/selection is like a magical black box that can do anything and requires little explanation as to how. You avoid invoking God or a Designer by adovocating unrealistic abilities to the magical box of mutation/selection. That is not the basis for science, but a fairy tale.

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  13. "You can read about Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers, ...but this self contradiction is not limited to the big shots."

    Wow. You just showed how removed you are from data. If PZ is a "big shot" in your eyes, when was the last time he published in the primary scientific literature, Dr. Hunter?

    More importantly, when was the last time that you've read any of the primary scientific literature?

    Why do you claim familiarity with the evidence, when every one of your blog posts is about what people say, not evidence?

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  14. Evolutionary Biology is an empirical science. That you can find some evolutionary biologists who have taken shots at design 'hypotheses' doesn't change this.

    The power of selection to produce novel traits (more information?) is observed in directed evolution experiments, genetic algorithms, gain-of-function mutations and de-novo genes.

    Evolution itself (including speciation) has been directly observed, and with newer sequencing techniques, whole genomes can be observed during evolution.

    Molecular Phylogenetics, built without bias on primary data presents "trees of life," the most parsimonious explanation for which is shared ancestry.

    Evo-devo and other experimental approaches demonstrate the functionality of the changes.

    These are just a few of the bases for the science of evolution.

    Now, for example, someone will come along and argue that that the evidence for common descent is really evidence for common design. We will ask how, and point out many of the changes (wobble positions) have no effect, that this is design that apparently is generated to look evolved. We will also point out there is no evidence, no proof, no means of investigating design, and no testable hypothesis. At this point, we will be accused of contrastive thinking, and you will conclude evolution is religious. No?

    I think mistaking the arguments against creationism for the data for evolution is a function of these blogs, and reading too little of the primary literature.

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  15. Cornelius, I presume the conversation you reference is ours in the comments of: http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2010/05/hibernation-evolution-confirmed-again.html. May as well let every one else follow along. I think it started at:

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2010/05/hibernation-evolution-confirmed-again.html?showComment=1275017463656#c8539847879498642258

    If it is not our conversation that your article refers to, but one that is merely identical in almost every single way, I apologize for the confusion.

    I also plan a longer response as time permits.

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  16. Neal wrote:

    "Mutation and selection are explanations of evolution as long as one does not have to define the step-by-step pathways that actually performed these amazing biological construction feats."

    We do define step-by-step pathways that perform amazing biological construction feats. Everything we learn about them screams that they are modifications of other pathways, not designed de novo.

    I always find it amusing to get an IDer or creationist to speculate as to the nature of biological, especially genetic, pathways, because their false assumptions drive their false conclusions.

    Neal, how about answering two questions about the amazing biological construction feats:

    1) How many orthologous genes are present in human and absent in mouse, or vice versa? Note that this is NOT a question about percent identity or percent similarity. It's a question about finding a K-ras gene in mice means that one expects a K-ras gene to be found in humans, not how similar they are when they are aligned.

    2) Do specific structures (say, hind limbs) require specific genes? Put another way, how many hind limb genes do you think there are in the human genome vs. the orca genome? Remember, whales don't have hind limbs.

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  17. lol, Church of Darwin strikes back!

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  18. Neal Tedford said...

    Mutation and selection are explanations of evolution as long as one does not have to define the step-by-step pathways that actually performed these amazing biological construction feats.

    There is no net gain in actual knowledge by not painstakingly showing the pathways to how all these wonderful things are actually produced by evolutionary processes.


    What an incredibly stupid thing to say. Science doesn't have to know every last individual step to ascertain the overall evolutionary pathway by which a particular function evolved.

    It's as stupid as saying since historians can't tell us the precise location of the Lewis and Clarke expedition every minute of every hour of every day during their two year journey, the expedition never happened.

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  19. Alan Fox:
    "There are many contributors to the Biologos forum that have no problem with sharing a belief in God's creation with an interest in Science.

    How old did you say you thought the Earth is? "


    What an incredibly witless thing to say to CH.

    Its just unbelievable to say something that irrelevant and plain dumb on this blog.

    But then why am I not surprised? The perpetual load of bantha dung unloaded by Darwinian fundamentalist fanatics here is worthy of a Times best-seller book in the "Darwin Award" humor category.

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  20. Neal Telford:
    Mutation and selection are explanations of evolution as long as one does not have to define the step-by-step pathways that actually performed these amazing biological construction feats.

    I could not have said that better myself. But according to Thorton this is an incredibly stupid thing to say. Science doesn't have to know every last individual step to ascertain the overall evolutionary pathway by which a particular function evolved.

    I don't think this is an incredibly stupid thing to say. Maybe the question could be phrased differently to point out the problem that apparently both Neal and I see with evolutionary explanations.

    Having said that, I do agree with Thorton that science doesn't have to know every last individual step to ascertain an evolutionary pathway.

    This, of course, begs the question what does science need to know in order to show that they fully understand how evolution works?

    For example, one piece of information that I came across, and it frankly surprised me, came at the end of the video Darwin's Dilemma.

    Richard Sternberg said that a lot of the information to build an animal does not reside at the DNA level.

    Jonathan Wells said that as far as we know the body plan is not in the DNA.

    I have not checked the truth of these statements yet, but if they are true they raise some very interesting questions.

    For example, if the body plan is not in the DNA, then a mutation in a gene cannot modify the body plan. If so, what can vary the body plan?

    And an even higher level question. If the theory of evolution relies on random mutations and they cannot affect the body plan, does this falsify the theory?

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  21. Doublee said...

    Jonathan Wells said that as far as we know the body plan is not in the DNA.


    Jonathan Wells is an idiot. Animal body plans are controlled by HOX genes, which are part of every animal's DNA.

    And an even higher level question. If the theory of evolution relies on random mutations and they cannot affect the body plan, does this falsify the theory?

    Random genetic variation (not just mutations) filtered by selection and used for subsequent generations. Why do creationists always omit the selection part?

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  22. "Richard Sternberg said that a lot of the information to build an animal does not reside at the DNA level.

    Jonathan Wells said that as far as we know the body plan is not in the DNA.

    I have not checked the truth of these statements yet, but if they are true they raise some very interesting questions.

    For example, if the body plan is not in the DNA, then a mutation in a gene cannot modify the body plan."

    This is false. I don't know what they were getting at in the video (sounds like a odd form of animism) but the data is against them, and it sounds like they are spreading obvious falsehoods.

    The body plan is undeniably "in the DNA"-mutation or experimental changes to Hox genes, for example, change body plan. Scientists have even swapped genes between animals with distinct body plans, resulting in profound changes.

    Even more profoundly, if you transfer a nucleus (holds the DNA) from one animal into another, you get the animal whose DNA was transferred.

    http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/abstract/S1934-5909%2807%2900226-3

    Genetic rescue of an endangered mammal by cross-species nuclear transfer using post-mortem somatic cells.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11581663

    "injected enucleated sheep oocytes with granulosa cells collected from two female mouflons found dead in the pasture. Blastocyst-stage cloned embryos transferred into sheep foster mothers established two pregnancies, one of which produced an apparently normal mouflon"

    So, where do they think the blueprints for body plan hide?

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  23. Let's not forget that there's no excuse for anyone here not knowing about this, as it was first done in 1952 with frogs:

    http://www.pnas.org/site/misc/classics4.shtml

    Robert, the problem with the predictions of mechanisms made by an ID hypothesis (which in reality are utterly false assumptions) is that the "blueprint" metaphor is a very bad one—hence my questions about genetic pathways to Neal, which I predict he'll run away from, as he, like all creationists and IDers, has no faith that his hypothesis is correct.

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  24. Smokey-
    I should have used scare quotes around "blueprint."

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  25. Robert,

    I agree. It's better to avoid labels and probe how they think biology works, because their argument is essentially that the way biology works suggests ID. They don't seem to realize that human beings use analogies and metaphors as explanatory strategies. Ironically, even those that they consider to be more than human beings did so:

    The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables:
    Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand."

    Matthew 13:10-17

    Do you think that Neal (or Gary or Doublee or Dr. Hunter) will answer my questions about the mechanisms by which things in biology are built?

    I predict that none will, despite their claims to be evidence-driven.

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  26. Smokey said...

    I agree. It's better to avoid labels and probe how they think biology works, because their argument is essentially that the way biology works suggests ID. They don't seem to realize that human beings use analogies and metaphors as explanatory strategies.


    It's amazing how so many of them, especially the ones with computer science backgrounds, just can't figure out the difference between analogies and reality. Must be some sort of universal ID disease.

    Do you think that Neal (or Gary or Doublee or Dr. Hunter) will answer my questions about the mechanisms by which things in biology are built?

    Nope. But you may get the standard lecture about how ID doesn't deal with mechanisms or explanations or any of that messy scientific evidence stuff. It's only about detecting design doncha know.

    I predict that none will, despite their claims to be evidence-driven.

    In other equally risky predictions - sun will rise in the east, water will be wet.

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  27. Thorton:

    "But you may get the standard lecture about how ID doesn't deal with mechanisms or explanations or any of that messy scientific evidence stuff. It's only about detecting design doncha know."

    I was unclear. I'm just trying to get them to state how they think that the building itself (morphogenesis) works, without going into evolution.

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  28. "It is not true that evolution is correct BECAUSE creationism fails as science. It is likewise not true that creationism fails as science BECAUSE evolution is true."

    The truth is that Darwinian evolution fails because it is not science. It is religiously based promoted by Darwinian Priors just as Hunter said.



    This will not prove conclusively that humans built them, but will be good supporting evidence.

    This is Darwinian hypocrisy. Darwinists are allowed to use design examples to conclude something like Stonehenge was designed without any direct evidence that it was designed. But ID is not allowed to use design examples to infer design in biology?

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  29. teleological_blog said...

    The truth is that Darwinian evolution fails because it is not science. It is religiously based promoted by Darwinian Priors just as Hunter said.


    Does that mean you'll get the rest of the room-temperature-IQ creationists to stop screaming "Darwinists are all atheists!!" ?

    This is Darwinian hypocrisy. Darwinists are allowed to use design examples to conclude something like Stonehenge was designed without any direct evidence that it was designed. But ID is not allowed to use design examples to infer design in biology?

    There's lots of direct evidence Stonehenge was human designed. There are tool marks on the stones that match known human designed tools found in the area. There are ample other known human produced artifacts in and around the site that match the workmanship and date to the same age. The bluestones have been matched to a known quarry, and the quarry is also known to have been worked by humans.

    In the same way, ID is free to show a match with tool marks / materials / techniques known to be used by non human supernatural designers. Knock yourself out, call us when you get some positive results.

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  30. Ya Know,

    Before I give Cornelius his 5 cents, I'd like him to debate an actual 'evolutionist' and not just the strawman of his own making.....

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  31. In the realm of all possible worlds, there are thousands of ways life might hypothetically arise without divine assistance, most of them quite different from our particular universe's system of descent with modification resulting in a common tree.

    This (along with many other points made by commenters) refutes the contention that biological evolution is the set-theoretic complement of design, the central repeated assertion of this blog. Of course, this blog tends to define evolution as the set-theoretic complement of design, rather than as what it actually is, so there you are.

    Try this on for size: There is no God. Therefore, the Earth orbits the Sun.

    There is no God. Therefore, the traits of life forms arise by means of descent with modification under the selective pressure of limited resources, which results in a large, diverse tree of related forms.

    Does the second really follow from the first premise alone? Or does one need to input more data from the outside world, discovering that that's how things seem to work?

    And what alternative mechanism is being proposed? Even Stonehenge and murders, those old ID standbys, aren't remotely "explained" by saying "intelligent agents are responsible."

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  32. Does that mean you'll get the rest of the room-temperature-IQ creationists to stop screaming "Darwinists are all atheists!!" ?

    I am shocked that you actually have a high enough IQ to know what IQ is. The question is that do you have high enough of an IQ to know that throwing insults around is neither here nor there. And atheism is a religion.


    There's lots of direct evidence Stonehenge was human designed.

    Direct? You’ve got to be joking. Direct evidence would be some documentation by the designers or documentation by the witnesses of the designers. What you have is a bunch of speculations and inferences.


    There are tool marks on the stones that match known human designed tools found in the area.

    It is impossible for you to know that the stones were tooled. The stone might have been formed by Darwinian magic just so stories like this. The stones broke off from an earthquake. Then during one of the ice age glacier carried the stones to their current location. And a flood created the holes and pushed the stones into place. See no design necessary.


    There are ample other known human produced artifacts in and around the site that match the workmanship and date to the same age. The bluestones have been matched to a known quarry, and the quarry is also known to have been worked by humans.

    So your best argument is that Stonehenge resembles some “known human artifacts” therefore it is designed. You mean like a series of interdependent actions with a feedback loop like the blood cascade, which resembles the workings of a human designed electronic circuits. Or do you mean like a bacterium and let’s call it “A” and another bacterium and let’s call it “B”. The DNA of bacterium “B” is exactly the same as the DNA of bacterium “A” except it also has the designers name encoded into the genome. So if we know bacterium “B” was designed then we also know that bacterium “A” was designed. I agree with your logic here. Wow so you can infer design of biological artifacts by comparing it to human designed artifacts. Why did those room temperature IQ ID proponents think of that.

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  33. teleological_blog said...

    Direct? You’ve got to be joking. Direct evidence would be some documentation by the designers or documentation by the witnesses of the designers. What you have is a bunch of speculations and inferences.


    Sorry, but you don't get to make up your own definition of "direct".

    So your best argument is that Stonehenge resembles some “known human artifacts” therefore it is designed. You mean like a series of interdependent actions with a feedback loop like the blood cascade, which resembles the workings of a human designed electronic circuits.

    No, I don't mean the extremely superficial analogies that the scientifically illiterate IDCers fall for.

    Or do you mean like a bacterium and let’s call it “A” and another bacterium and let’s call it “B”. The DNA of bacterium “B” is exactly the same as the DNA of bacterium “A” except it also has the designers name encoded into the genome. So if we know bacterium “B” was designed then we also know that bacterium “A” was designed.

    No. That humans can make an identical copy of something found in nature doesn't mean the original object was designed. I'll add logic to the list of things you're clueless on.

    You're not doing too good here teleo. Looks like your IQ must be room temperature Celsius.

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  34. Derick:

    "I presume the conversation you reference is ours"

    That was the motivation, but it is common.

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  35. What is the positive evidence for an undirected origin of life?

    I ask this because in two years of following this hot controversy (which I'd say I.D. is winning in a blowout) the only argument for an undirected origin of life I've seen is by using a shoddy definition of science that disqualifies intelligence, a priori.

    In my humble opinion, if a position is so weak that its supporters must resort to cheap semantic trickery to keep it propped up and as a defense against opposing theories, then it's not a position worth having.

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  36. Sorry, but you don't get to make up your own definition of "direct".

    I am not the one creating a new definition. Pulling a Clintonian will not help you on this one.


    No. That humans can make an identical copy of something found in nature doesn't mean the original object was designed. I'll add logic to the list of things you're clueless on.

    You are more clueless than I thought. Now you are saying that human artifacts that look like Stonehenge doesn’t mean Stonehenge was designed? You really don’t know your head from your tail do you?

    There is nothing superficial about the examples that I presented. You obviously are too dense to understand the complexity required to create the simplest lifeform. If it takes the best brain power that we have to create a copy of another lifeform. Yet you would believe that the original of this lifeform would just pop into existence by random chance. You don’t have the IQ to judge anyone else’s IQ.

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  37. Alan Fox:

    "Have a look at Gordon glover's comments in this Biologos thread."

    Redshifts? You lost me. How is that relevant to religion driving evolution?

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  38. Jared Jammer -


    What is the positive evidence for an undirected origin of life?


    You have it backwards. We should assume undirected origin unless evidence suggests otherwise, which frankly it does not.

    Asking for positive evidence for an undirected origin of life is like asking for positive evidence of NO God, or positive evidence that the world is unguided by fate or magic. You are asking us to prove a negative.

    The notion that the origin of life is directed is the positive claim. It is the supporting evidence for this that we should be assessing. And none of it really stand up.

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  39. Redshifts? You lost me. How is that relevant to religion driving evolution?

    Let me answer you unequivocally, Cornelius (or do you prefer George); it is not relevant at all.

    May I ask you a couple of questions, now? Do you consider bald to be a hair colour? Do you consider not collecting stamps to be a hobby?

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  40. Smokey said...

    Everything we learn about them screams that they are modifications of other pathways, not designed de novo.

    Thorton said...

    What an incredibly stupid thing to say. Science doesn't have to know every last individual step to ascertain the overall evolutionary pathway by which a particular function evolved.


    I say... there you go again!

    Smokey, does "everything" in the Cambrian Explosion fossil record scream of descent with modification??? Your everything screams statement is debunked by this one simple example alone.


    Thorton, your arguing from ignorance. Evolutionists are not even close to knowing "every last" step. It's not about filling in a few missing pieces but chunks the size of Arizona. Seeing the big picture ("overall") is sufficient for evolutionists because scientific support for evolution is secondary. Unfortunately for evolutionists more and more people are beginning to ask the right questions.

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  41. Evolutionists, global warming... I see a trend towards science becoming more interested in coming to the "right" conclusions rather than using the right methodology. This is a dangerous trend and a sorry era for science.

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  42. Jared Jammer:

    What is the positive evidence that volcanoes are unemotional? Where is the evidence that they are capable of emitting tons of molten and ashen matter without being in some way assisted by the emotion of anger?

    The naturalistic hypotheses on the subject are simply so much metaphysical insistence that "angry volcanoes wouldn't do that".

    You can tell me until you're red in the face (ironically) either that volcanoes "don't feel anger" (huh, guess you've never experienced one), or that proposing that they are angry contributes nothing to further study or explanation. It doesn't matter, because you are eliminating a perfectly valid possibility, and are doing it for religious reasons.

    Look, there can never, ever be any evidence or proof that anything is "undirected". It's just the null hypothesis for any situation.

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  43. Smokey,

    What is your point about the orthologous genes? Are they ancestral just because evolutionists say they are? Saying something is ancestral doesn't make it so.

    I think I know where you going with the whale hind limbs, but behold there are a million other differences between whales and land mammals. Where are the step-by-step evolutionary pathways for the development of the blowhole? Blowing hot air is an evolutionist specialty, perhaps that is one area that you have details on.

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  44. So then you fellas agree that there is zero positive evidence that unguided natural processes can create life? Interesting confession, one that matches what I've found (haven't found, to be precise) while searching around.

    I'm currently reading Stephen C. Meyer's brilliant Signature in the Cell, and he's making an overwhelming positive argument for design, an argument every bit as strong as the argument for Heliocentrism. It's a really great read.

    Anyways, we now have:

    Zero positive evidence (unguided origin of life)

    vs.

    Overwhelming positive evidence (intelligence-driven origin of life).

    I consider myself a man of reason and evidence, so why should I -- or any progressive thinker -- choose the former over the latter?

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  45. Jared Jammer said...

    Overwhelming positive evidence (intelligence-driven origin of life).


    Could you please describe in your own words some of this positive evidence for intelligence-driven origin of life, and supply the supporting scientific references?

    Keep in mind that positive evidence does not include arguments from personal incredulity ("it's so complex, it must be designed") nor arguments from false dichotomy ("evolutionary theory currently doesn't explain all the details, so ID must be true"). Nor does it include probability estimates based upon incomplete information and unsubstantiated assumptions.

    Thanks in advance.

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  46. Thornton, I've read many of your posts and I've yet to see you present yourself as anything more than an irrationalist attempting to keep science stuck in the early 20th century. As a rule of thumb I don't debate with irrationalists as it would be giving them more respect than warranted while also potentially sullying my own reputation (guilt by association).

    With that said, I'll throw you a bone and give you some links to people much smarter than myself (and thus much, much, much smarter than you) discussing the positive case for scientific revolution of Intelligent Design.

    Intelligent Design the Future: Biomimetics and the Positive Implications for Intelligent Design

    Intelligent Design the Future: The Positive Case for Intelligent Design and Why It’s Being Expelled from Academia

    Intelligent Design the Future: The Positive Case for Intelligent Design

    More can be found at Evolution News & Views, and as stated earlier, Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell makes an overwhelming case (try the media section of his website to see him embarrass Darwinist over Darwinist in debate).

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  47. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  48. Jared Jammer said...

    With that said, I'll throw you a bone and give you some links to people much smarter than myself (and thus much, much, much smarter than you) discussing the positive case for scientific revolution of Intelligent Design.


    BWAHAHAHA!! The Discovery Institute as a credible scientific source. Good one!

    Sadly, it seems you can't tell me in your own words what the positive evidence for ID is. You must not understand it very well if you can't come up with even one example. The reality is that positive evidence for ID doesn't exist. Every last bit is negative, just baseless attacks on established evolutionary sciences and a claim that somehow ID wins by default.

    BTW if you think the DI's attack gerbil Casey 'the eyebrow' Luskin is smarter than you, that tells us all we need to know about your competence to judge scientific evidence.

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  49. Jared Jammer said...

    With that said, I'll throw you a bone and give you some links to people much smarter than myself (and thus much, much, much smarter than you) discussing the positive case for scientific revolution of Intelligent Design.


    I dug around and found a printed copy of Luskin's "positive evidence for ID" here:

    The Positive Case For ID

    I though it might be fun to examine them.

    Luskin first makes four claims about the way Intelligent Designers think and act. I assume he took the examples from human behavior since they're the only designers we currently know of. He then makes four 'predictions', one for each of the four claims. Finally he states the natural evidence (kinda) and crows loudly that he has supplied 'positive evidence'. But has he? Let's look at the first one

    Claim:(1) Intelligent agents think with an “end goal” in mind, allowing them to solve complex problems by taking many parts and arranging them in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information):

    Prediction:(1) Natural structures will be found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information).

    Evidence: (1)Natural structures have been found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information), such as irreducibly complex machines in the cell.)


    Right off the bat Luskin makes a beginner's logic error that would shame a high school freshman.

    "Fish live in the sea
    we find whales in the sea
    therefore whales are fish"

    "Designers make complex things
    We find complex things in nature
    therefore natural things are designed"

    This from the guy who is way smarter than Jared Jammer.

    The other three examples from the attack gerbil are just as bad.

    How about it Jared - you want to go over the other three? You want to defend any of Luskin's steaming pile of idiocy?

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  50. Neal asked:

    "What is your point about the orthologous genes?"

    That you have assumptions about how living things were "designed," and you are basing your claim on false assumptions.

    "Are they ancestral just because evolutionists say they are?"

    My point has nothing to do with whether they are ancestral or not. "Orthologous" and "ortholog" make no suppositions about ancestry.

    "Saying something is ancestral doesn't make it so."

    Falsely claiming that I'm claiming that something is ancestral doesn't mean that I've claimed that. So how about having sufficient faith to answer my simple question?


    1) How many orthologous genes are present in human and absent in mouse, or vice versa? Note that this is NOT a question about percent identity or percent similarity. It's a question about finding a K-ras gene in mice means that one expects a K-ras gene to be found in humans, not how similar they are when they are aligned.


    No explicit or implicit claim about ancestry. This is about a simple fact. If you don't know the answer, answer it based on your beliefs about how biology works.

    "I think I know where you going with the whale hind limbs…"

    It's not relevant to my point. Again, you show complete cowardice. Answer the question if you have the slightest faith in your conclusions:


    2) Do specific structures (say, hind limbs) require specific genes? Put another way, how many hind limb genes do you think there are in the human genome vs. the orca genome? Remember, whales don't have hind limbs.


    "Where are the step-by-step evolutionary pathways for the development of the blowhole?"

    Sorry, your question is gibberish. Are you talking about evolution or development? How would you predict the blowhole would develop in an embryo if it had been designed?

    "...but behold there are a million other differences between whales and land mammals."

    So answer my question and stop being so cowardly. How many of those million other differences are genes?

    "Blowing hot air is an evolutionist specialty, perhaps that is one area that you have details on."

    I'm asking simple questions. You're the one blowing hot air because you lack sufficient faith to answer them.

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  51. I wrote:
    "We do define step-by-step pathways that perform amazing biological construction feats. Everything we learn about them screams that they are modifications of other pathways, not designed de novo."

    Neal dishonestly removed the first sentence and pretended that I was writing about evolution instead of the morphogenesis of an organism in real time:

    "Smokey, does "everything" in the Cambrian Explosion fossil record scream of descent with modification??? Your everything screams statement is debunked by this one simple example alone. "

    Um, Neal, what is the antecedent of "them" in the statement you claim you debunked? Was it biological construction (morphogenesis) or evolution?

    Answer my questions about morphogenesis if you have the courage. I predict that you won't because your faith is thin.

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  52. "Fish live in the sea
    we find whales in the sea
    therefore whales are fish"

    "Land mammals have limbs
    we see stubs of limbs in water mammals
    therefore water mammals used to be land mammals"

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  53. Fil: "therefore water mammals used to be land mammals"

    Each animal is what it is. Populations evolve. Individual organisms don't.

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  54. Fil said...

    "Fish live in the sea
    we find whales in the sea
    therefore whales are fish"

    "Land mammals have limbs
    we see stubs of limbs in water mammals
    and we find the genes for creating hind limbs in water mammals
    and we find the a sequence of fossils that when arranged by age show a clear morphological transition from land mammals to water mammals
    Given the consilience of evidence

    therefore water mammals used to be land mammals"


    Fixed it for you Fil.

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  55. Lmao. At least you are funny about it.

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  56. What's funny about your desperate need to misrepresent?

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  57. "What's funny about your desperate need to misrepresent?"

    Don't be a smart ass smokey, I was just saying I liked the way thornton retorted.

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  58. This board needs smileys and other huggy emoticons so we can all remember to keep it light.

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  59. "Don't be a smart ass smokey, I was just saying I liked the way thornton retorted."

    You're projecting. So does that mean that you concede Thornton's point that your analogy was fatally flawed?

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  60. Nope. But I can appreciate humor in posts I read, even directed at the posts I wrote. I can stop thinking "creation vs evolution" for the moment and laugh at witticisms.

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  61. Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya! :)

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  62. "I can stop thinking "creation vs evolution" for the moment and laugh at witticisms."

    You mean that you can stop thinking about the fact that you've been pwned.

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  63. Smokey said...

    "I can stop thinking "creation vs evolution" for the moment and laugh at witticisms."

    You mean that you can stop thinking about the fact that you've been pwned.


    Cut Fil a bit of slack here Smokey. He seems to be the only IDCer around here who's not an arrogant juvenile delinquent with a chip on his shoulder.

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