Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Web Weavers

Imagine if you called a car salesman, explained the type of car you wanted to buy, and he exclaimed he has exactly what you are looking for. Furthermore, the car is almost new, has only a few miles, and yet is priced at a mere ten thousand dollars! You and a friend hurry over to the car lot and with a big smile the salesman shows you a junker. You recognize the make as being at least thirty years old, and the car looks like it has at least 200,000 miles. The tires are worn bare, the body is rusted away, the seats are so worn down there are holes in the fabric, the paint is so faded that you can see bare metal in places, the rear window is smashed, the hood doesn’t close properly, and half the steering wheel is missing. “Wait, this beauty is only ten thousand dollars, and it only has a few miles …” exclaims the salesman as you and your friend walk away in disgust. "Incredible,” you complain to your friend, “that salesman misled us.”

Evolutionists say that evolution is a scientific fact. Evolutionists, who disagree on many things, come together on this basic point. There is no question, they insist, evolution is beyond any shadow of a doubt—it is a scientific fact every bit as much as gravity or the roundness of the earth is a scientific fact.

This is not a statement about evolution, it is a statement about our knowledge of evolution. And while people can disagree about the details of evolution, there is less room for disagreement when it comes to our knowledge. Particularly when it is said to be such a clear cut fact. As the leading evolutionist Ernst Mayr wrote:

It is very questionable whether the term “evolutionary theory” should be used any longer. That evolution has occurred and takes place all the time is a fact so overwhelmingly established that it has become irrational to call it a theory. [What Evolution Is, 264]

Strangely enough, nowhere in Mayr’s exhaustive volume does he prove this claim. Yes there is evidence for evolution, but there is also evidence the earth is flat. In fact there are substantial scientific problems with the theory of evolution. We can argue about its standing, but if ever there was a fact it is that evolutionists have nowhere shown why those problems don’t matter, and why evolution is such a no-brainer. This is not nit picking—from a scientific perspective evolution is nowhere near facthood.

So it is not surprising that evolutionists don’t actually deliver on their claim. And there simply is very little wiggle room. Their high claims about evolution and the comparisons with the shape of the earth and gravity (one evolutionist said it is far more certain than gravity) don’t allow for much caveat.

The evidence must be overwhelming. Certainly the explanation of the evidence and the reasoning must be well documented. There must be books and articles for all to understand this incredible finding.

But it is nowhere to be found. Evolutionists have been challenged about this strange claim ever since they began making it centuries ago. Yet they continue to insist on their problematic claim without backing it up. Such backup usually isn’t required because they typically issue their claims to non scientific audiences and students—those who are not in a position to see through the false claims.

If ever there was a false claim, this is it. The claim that evolution is a scientific fact simply is not true. Evolution itself may well be true, but we do not know it to be true with the kind of confidence and certainty evolutionists insist on. I do not know what the truth about evolution is, but I do know what our knowledge about evolution is.

When informed skeptics probe evolutionists about this false claim, it is typical for evolutionists to equivocate on evolution. They will say, for instance, that we observe viruses or bacteria adapting, so therefore evolution is a fact. But all the while, when evolutionists claim their idea is a fact, they have been referring to the origin of all the species. That is a very different claim than the mere adaptation of viruses or bacteria.

This common equivocation helps to expose the problem. If the fact of evolution was so obvious they would simply explain it (or provide the reference). Instead they equivocate.

But it doesn’t stop there. Evolutionists practice all kinds of logical excursions in their efforts to convince people of their dogma. One even more absurd tactic is to present evidence as ipso facto proof. It would be like pointing to the rising sun as proof (not evidence for) geocentrism. Here is how one textbook makes this absurd argument:

It is important not to miss the key point of the result you see illustrated in figure 17.3: evolution is an observation, not a conclusion. Because the dating of the samples is independent of what the samples are like, successive change through time is a data statement. While the statement that evolution is the result of natural selection is a theory advanced by Darwin, the statement that macroevolution has occurred is a factual observation.

In other words, the student is told that while the details of how the fossils evolved may be uncertain, the fossils themselves are a factual observation that macroevolution has occurred.

Many people do not understand the details of the scientific evidence, and how badly evolution fares. Likewise, they do not understand the extent to which evolutionists will go to cover up the science and propagate false claims. For scientists these falsehoods are obvious and disturbing, but non scientists often are unaware of how blatant is the problem.

This argument that the fossils are a factual observation of macroevolution, as exemplified by the quote above, helps to clarify the situation.

As in the case of the car salesman, there is no graceful exit. We cannot say that the car salesman made a mistake. Likewise, evolutionists are not making mistakes when they perpetrate these falsehoods.

And when you point this out to evolutionists, as I did here, they continue to defend the claim with more canards. One such canard is that the authors of the textbook are using a highly nuanced definition of macroevolution. Don’t we all understand that by “macroevolution” evolutionists such as the authors don’t actually mean evolution on a grand scale? Rather, they use the word to refer to the patterns that emerge from such evolution.

This is, of course, a distinction without a difference. It is another example of the web of falsehoods needed by evolutionists. Certainly the term macroevolution can entail the mechanisms required for and patterns that emerge from the process. But this doesn’t help matters.

The authors of the text are perfectly clear. The student is to understand that the fossil sequence is a factual observation that macroevolution has occurred, regardless of what combination of selection and other processes were involved. Here, for example, is how Mayr defines macroevolution:

Evolution above the species level; the evolution of higher taxa and the production of evolutionary novelties, such as new structures. [287]

And here is how Jerry Coyne, another leading evolutionist, defines macroevolution in his book Why Evolution is True:

“Major” evolutionary change, usually thought of as large changes in body form or the evolution of one type of plant or animal from another type. The change from our primate ancestor to modern humans, or from early reptiles to birds, would be considered macroevolution.

And here is how Mark Ridley defines macroevolution in his leading university textbook, Evolution:

Evolution on the grand scale: the term refers to events above the species level; the origin of a new higher group, such as the vertebrates, would be an example of a macroevolutionary event.

But why restrict ourselves to such luminaries as Mayr, Coyne and Ridley? Here is how the text authors themselves explain macroevolution to the student:

evolutionary change on a grand scale. Macroevolution is larger, more complex changes that result in the creation of new species and higher taxonomic groups.

A sequence of fossil species is not a factual observation that they are related via common descent. The sequence is not a factual observation of evolution on a grand scale. There is no question this is a false statement, and it is obviously false.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blind Guides

Biology textbook authors George Johnson and Jonathan Losos are leaders in the life sciences. They are accomplished researchers and professors from leading universities. But their writings mislead students. In their otherwise well written and highly produced textbook The Living World ((Fifth Edition, McGraw Hill, 2008), Johnson and Losos misrepresent science and make fallacious arguments when they present evolution to the student. It is yet another example of smart people spreading the usual evolutionary message.

Consider the chapter on evolution and natural selection. After misrepresenting what we know about the relationship between microevolution and macroevolution and biological variation, and making a non scientific, metaphysical, truth claim that just happens to mandate the truth of evolution, one would think it couldn’t get any worse.

One would be wrong.

Regarding a fossil sequence of hoofed mammals, Johnson and Losos write:

It is important not to miss the key point of the result you see illustrated in figure 17.3: evolution is an observation, not a conclusion. Because the dating of the samples is independent of what the samples are like, successive change through time is a data statement. While the statement that evolution is the result of natural selection is a theory advanced by Darwin, the statement that macroevolution has occurred is a factual observation.

A sequence of fossils is an observation of macroevolution? It would be difficult to imagine a more misleading statement than this. And it is not as though this was an unintended mistake that just happened to elude the 100+ reviewers. Johnson and Losos went out of their way to make and elaborate this message, and the army of evolutionist reviewers all nodded their heads.

Johnson and Losos are not some computer hackers throwing mud around an Internet chat room. They are full professors at top schools (Washington University and Harvard University). McGraw Hill is not a second rate publisher and The Living World is not hastily prepared volume. These are the best authors, working with a top publisher, under the review of hundreds of evolutionists, to create a beautiful textbook used ats campuses across the country.

And so there is no excuse for misinformation in the guise of science.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back to School: Do You Know What Your Child is Learning?

Another school year is set to begin at high schools and colleges where the next round of biology students will be filled with evolutionary misinformation. At the center of this propaganda campaign are the many biology textbooks used to indoctrinate young minds with old dogma. These textbooks contain the latest evolutionary newspeak, but the underlying message is no different.

In their text The Living World (Fifth Edition, McGraw Hill, 2008) evolutionists George Johnson and Jonathan Losos rehearse the usual teachings. Students are told that “Microevolution Leads to Macroevolution” with the giraffe’s neck serving as the example of how small change is supposed to accumulate to the large-scale change evolution needs.

Of course this is a long-standing, well-known problem for evolution. Mechanisms for large-scale change are speculative for it does not appear merely to be the result of repeated rounds of microevolution. Johnson and Losos, of course, inform the student of none of this.

The giraffe example is also useful in explaining evolution’s concept of biological variation. The text explains that according to evolution variation arises independent of need or experience via mechanisms such as random mutation.

Contrary to such evolutionary dogma, it has been known for decades that variation is sensitive to experience and need. Evolutionists have resisted this and the text again leaves the student ignorant of the science.

Such misrepresentations of science, as damaging as they are, pale in comparison to Johnson’s and Losos’ next move. The apologists make a failed attempt to enlist the fossil record as powerful evidence for evolution, and end up with only the usual metaphysics. They write:

If the theory of evolution is not correct, on the other hand, then such orderly change is not expected.

Very interesting. And how do evolutionists know so much? From where did Johnson and Losos learn such ultimate truths? If evolution is not correct then such orderly change is not expected? Tell us more.

What are all the possibilities aside from evolution and why do none of them predict “such orderly change”? Why is it that evolution, and only evolution, predicts such an outcome? This is truly fascinating. If and only if evolution is true would we see such orderly change. Johnson and Losos are real geniuses—they have knowledge of all possible causes.

You cannot make this stuff up. In two and half pages the text's chapter on evolution has gone from misleading to absurd. What will come next?

But this is nothing new in evolutionary circles. Only evolutionists teach such a biased version of science.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Evolutionary Thought in Action: The Subtlety of Metaphysics

In my previous post I gave a typical example of evolutionary thinking and asked readers to identify the usual metaphysics that is interwoven. Here is the example:

Do I need to recount for you the instances of observed evolution, past and present? You already have rejected short-term examples of the phenomenon, but when the exact same pseudogene for Vitamin C is broken in the exact same place in humans and chimpanzees, indicating we inherited it from a common ancestor, what else do you say it is other than a fact that we evolved from that common ancestor? If you have read the authors you claim to have, how many more examples of evolution in action do you want? You say that it's "immediately obvious from the evolution genre...that while evolutionists consistently make this claim, it is nowhere demonstrated." It baffles me how you can make that statement. How gilded do you insist the lily be?

There is something fascinating about powerful lies that animate proponents into self-righteous indignation, and befuddle opponents. Proponents of evolution are absolutely sure they are right, that evolution is squarely scientific, and that skepticism must be the result of religious motives. The certainty of evolution is matched only by its hypocrisy.

Like a virus the lie makes its way into one's thinking and then hijacks the thinking process for reproduction and further dissemination. Today's evolutionists not only have the lie firmly embedded in their thinking, they constantly communicate the lie with tremendous assurance and authority.

But unlike most lies, this one deals with a downright bizarre notion. Evolution convinces us of the absurd, making it a great lie. I may convince you I am a straight A student though I actually have a few B grades. That would be a small, unimpressive lie. But what if I actually have received no grades at all? What if I have never attended a single class, turned in any homework, or taken any tests? Then my lie would be much more significant. And imagine that I have so convinced you that you vociferously attack any and all who would doubt my perfections? Then my lie is yielding its fruit--it is truly powerful.

Evolutionists insist that all of biology just happened to arise by itself. Indeed, they insist this is an obvious, undeniable fact that is beyond any shadow of a doubt. In fact, say evolutionists, this is so obvious that those who will not go along must be marginalized and attacked.

This lie gives assurance and self-righteousness. And so evolutionists blackball opponents and bar skepticism from important venues while planting their lies into public policy, the media, the law, the education system, and who knows where else. In the past century this meme has gone viral and now dominates global thinking. Hans Christian Andersen could not have dreamed of anything more.

Pseudogenes and metaphysics

In the above example, the crucial metaphysics is woven in here:

but when the exact same pseudogene for Vitamin C is broken in the exact same place in humans and chimpanzees, indicating we inherited it from a common ancestor, what else do you say it is other than a fact that we evolved from that common ancestor?

This shared-error argument is a good example of how the evolution lie depends on subtle misrepresentations of the science and unspoken metaphysical claims. Any scientific analysis of the evidence would come up empty handed. Pseudogenes reveal various patterns, some which can be employed to argue for common descent, others which violate common descent (they could be explained, for instance, by common mechanism). Furthermore pseudogenes reveal evidence of mutational hotspots.

But such quandaries are left unmentioned. Evolutionists selectively present the evidence to make evolution appear to be well supported. The evolution lie corrupts scientific knowledge.

Such scientific problems are inconsequential for evolution though, because evolution has metaphysical certainty. In this case, the claim is that shared errors are powerful and compelling proofs of evolution. The subtlety here is not in the evidence itself but in how it is transformed from a successful prediction to a proof text.

This claim, that such shared errors indicate, or demonstrate, or reveal common ancestry, is the result of an implicit truth claim which does not, and cannot, come from science. It is the claim that evolution and only evolution can explain such evidences. It is the equivalent of what is known as an IF-AND-ONLY-IF claim.

Science makes IF-THEN statements (if evolution is true, then species with recent common ancestors should have similarities between them). IF-AND-ONLY-IF statements (if and only if evolution is true, then species with recent common ancestors should have similarities between them) cannot be known from science.

Such statements are truth claims that are at the foundation of evolutionary thought. The evolutionist chastises skeptics for somehow attacking science, while at the same time making metaphysical pronouncements in the name of science. The evolutionist should look in a mirror.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Evolutionary Thought in Action

Evolutionists claim evolution is a fact as much as gravity is a fact. As with gravity, we may not yet understand the details of evolution, but evolution in one way or another is an undeniable fact. Well is it? One evolutionist is certain and wrote this to me:

Do I need to recount for you the instances of observed evolution, past and present? You already have rejected short-term examples of the phenomenon, but when the exact same pseudogene for Vitamin C is broken in the exact same place in humans and chimpanzees, indicating we inherited it from a common ancestor, what else do you say it is other than a fact that we evolved from that common ancestor? If you have read the authors you claim to have, how many more examples of evolution in action do you want? You say that it's "immediately obvious from the evolution genre...that while evolutionists consistently make this claim, it is nowhere demonstrated." It baffles me how you can make that statement. How gilded do you insist the lily be?

I like this comment because it is a succinct example of evolutionary thinking. Can you see the metaphysics at work?

Yes there are scientific problems. Cases of observed evolution are of limited value in proving evolution to be a fact, unless we equivocate on evolution. In fact, they reveal complex response mechanisms at work which evolutionists have resisted acknowledging.

But these problems are inconsequential, for evolutionists have metaphysical certainty. If you can see the metaphysics at work, then you understand the evolution genre.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Evolution is a Scientific Fact: Day 74

Evolutionists have little doubt about their idea. Indeed they consistently claim it to be an undeniable scientific fact. As one textbook explained, “The term theory is no longer appropriate except when referring to the various models that attempt to explain how life evolves … it is important to understand that the current questions about how life evolves in no way implies any disagreement over the fact of evolution.” I was trying to explain this fact when I discovered I couldn’t. Quite the opposite, there are substantial scientific problems with evolution. My proposition to evolutionists is that I will help their cause if they will help me understand. I will be an evolutionist if they can explain why it is a scientific fact.

Many evolutionists have responded to my proposition, but their comments make me wonder. One criticized me for not offering an alternative while others blamed me for bias in my beliefs. Another said my purpose is to drive creation/ID and another said I am a Biblical fundamentalist. Yet another said that my basic complaint is that science refuses to work on the assumption that maybe things were magicked into existence. Aside from being false, the main problem with such comments is they leave me no closer to the fact of evolution.

Another evolutionist explained the intellectual necessity of Darwin’s idea:

Science stops when we use the “God made the mosquito” assumption. There’s nothing to be done and nothing more to learn about our universe or ourselves: save listening to the people who believe they have cornered the truth. This critique of evolution is not an effort to further understanding, but to halt it.

This is certainly a popular mandate for evolution, but it hardly makes it a scientific fact. Another argued for why evolution is better than creation or design:

The argument is that evolution—common descent with gradual, opportunistic modification—would produce such effects, and we have no good reason to suppose that a Designer of life—supernatural or otherwise—would choose to do so.

It is another popular argument but, again, it does little to explain why evolution is a scientific fact. Another evolutionist argued that virtually everyone educated accepted descent with modification within a decade or two of the Origin. But given Darwin’s reasoning and the limited state of nineteenth century biology, this point raises more questions than answers about the claim that evolution is a scientific fact.

He further criticized me for ignoring the overwhelming statistical confirmations of common ancestry:

The odds of e.g. morphological and molecular phylogenies agreeing as much as they do (there are sometimes disagreements, but they are statistically minor, at least if you are open-minded enough to actually learn about the relevant statistics, and not just quote mine from people who don’t) are miniscule. The fossil record shows similar statistical agreement. Etc.

But if the disagreements are not statistically significant, they certainly are biologically significant. Massive similarities and differences show up where they shouldn’t be. Perhaps evolution somehow constructed such contradictions, but from a scientific perspective they are not merely statistically insignificant. Aside from speculation, we have no good explanation for the many significant disagreements we find. The argument that they are statistically insignificant and can safely be ignored while maintaining that evolution is a fact ignores the science.

Furthermore, the idea that the aligning of various traits, of various species, makes evolution a fact is a fallacy. A repeated pattern of similarities proves, well, a repeated pattern of similarities. To conclude that evolution or common descent is a scientific fact would we not also need powerful evidence that such disparate populations could somehow follow an evolutionary path, one into the other? But this is a major problem in evolutionary theory.

Another evolutionist compared evolution to heliocentrism, and evolution denial to holocaust denial:

Surely it is in theory possible to explain the evidence in another way, with miracles that alter the relative position of earth and sun in a manner that misleadingly resembles the earth following a gravitational orbit around the sun.

Likewise, it will always be theoretically possible to deny evolution, provided one is willing to posit a misleading miracle where observable natural phenomena and forces would be perfectly adequate to account for what we see.

In the case of evolution, we had pretty reliable evidence even when we simply had the succession of fossils, the evidence of related morphology, and other such data. Now that we have DNA evidence, and can determine relatedness between all living things using genetics, the situation is summed up nicely by Francisco Ayala: "there are no more gaps."

Of course, it will always be possible to deny scientific facts, just as it is possible to deny historical facts. And so the question is whether one wants to follow the most straightforward reading of the evidence, or whether one prefers to engage in something that is to science what holocaust denial is to history.

But the evolutionary explanations are not perfectly adequate to account for what we see, that’s the point. The positing of miracles is irrelevant. Genetics, for instance, reveals substantial problems for evolution. We know there is a genetic resistance to change and we would have to believe that evolution somehow serendipitously created the very mechanisms crucial for evolution itself.

Another evolutionist argued that mutations, recombination and selection create novel traits and speciation, as has been observed in the lab and in nature. But this doesn’t make all of evolution a fact. Even evolutionists agree that the large scale changes required by the theory are not well explained by known mechanisms. And in any case we would have to believe that evolution somehow created recombination itself, so that such evolution could occur. Perhaps so, but such a story is hardly a fact.

Novel traits have been observed to emerge rapidly and via complex mechanisms that respond to the environmental need. Yes, adaptation is observed, but it makes little sense under evolution. How did evolution create adaptation mechanisms that respond to environmental challenges with rapid design changes? The explanation that “such mechanisms increase fitness, so it is no surprise they evolved” is more dogma than science.

I would gladly accept and promote evolution, but it has substantial scientific problems papered over with strident claims of being a fact. Is there evidence for evolution? Certainly. But in each case there are profound subtleties and problems. Whether or not evolution, in one form or another, actually occurred is difficult to say. But what is clear is the state of the evidence. Evolutionists dogmatically claim the idea is a scientific fact, but they don’t show why.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Random Mutations and the Heroics of Evolution

A child once informed his friends his toy bulldozer could dig all the way through the Earth. But wasn’t the Earth too big? No, look at the Grand Canyon—it is proof of what such small shovels can do. Such childish logic, amazingly, shows up repeatedly in evolutionary “theory.” It is a treasure trove of bizarre and silly claims and justifications which rises to the surface, as with the child’s reasoning, when the evolutionist is questioned about his convictions. Consider, for example, the oft heard evolutionary mechanism of random mutation followed by natural selection which, like the toy bulldozer, apparently can do just about anything. When queried about this most amazing idea, the underlying evolutionary logic is revealed.

One response evolutionists give when confronted with their own extraordinary claims about random mutation and natural selection is to complain that mutations aren’t really random, and any such notion is clearly erroneous. They don’t just happen willy-nilly but in fact reveal non random patterns both across the genome and across time.

But this is an equivocation on the word “random,” which is used with reference to something. When evolutionists speak of random mutations, they mean that the mutations are random with respect to the need of the organism. There is no plan or intelligence behind mutations—evolution has no final causes.

When questioned about their bizarre claim that the entire field of biology is a consequence of such Lucretian bloopers, their rebuttal that mutations actually aren’t random after all reveals how shallow is their thinking.

Evolutionists are the ones who claimed mutations are random (with respect to the need) and the fact that mutations are not random over space and time does not change that Epicurean claim. (By the way, this is yet another evolutionary expectation that turned out to be false. That became clear when the empirical evidence caught up with evolutionary speculation.)

Another response evolutionists give when questioned about their startling ideas of the power of random mutation and natural selection is to focus on the latter. Mutations may be random but evolution certainly is not, for selection pressure brings out the winners.

Of course this is false. Selection “pressure” is another evolutionary euphemism. The only thing Darwin’s natural selection can do is kill off the faulty or inferior designs—it does not induce helpful mutations to magically arise. All evolutionary creations must arise from those random mutations.

Yet another revealing response evolutionists give when queried about their heroic claims of random mutation and natural selection is to complain that such a query is nothing more than a strawman rendition of evolution.

Random mutations, after all, are only one of a great many evolutionary mechanisms. One professor has listed almost fifty different so-called “engines of variation” that work together to build biology’s wonders. How silly to think random mutation was the sole artist in Darwin’s montage.

For example, biological variation can arise from changes in the expression levels of genes, which in turn can arise from changes to sequences that control such expression levels, or changes to the protein machines that bind to those sequences. And there are far more involved examples, such as the various forms of symbiotic mechanisms. The professor concludes:

So, next time you hear or read a creationist or IDer cite "RM & NS" as the sole explanation for evolutionary change, point out to them and everyone else that there are at least 47 different sources of variation

But does this really rescue random mutation from its overachiever status? No. Once again the evolutionary logic has bubbled up to the surface for all to see. The most obvious problem here is simply that biology’s various engines of variation are, according to evolutionary mandate, ultimately the product of, yes, random mutation.

Of course RM/NS is the ultimate explanation for evolutionary change. The fact that biology reveals incredibly complex adaptive and physiological changes does not give evolutionists license to invoke them as evolutionary starting points, without reference to their own origin.

Indeed, with evolution what we must believe is that its blind mutations just happened to create phenomenal mechanisms which, themselves, not only are astonishingly complex but become crucial agents of evolutionary change. The heroics continue to mount at an astronomical pace as evolution, we must believe, creates evolution. If a toy bulldozer can dig through the Earth, then why not?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Retro Virus Turned Evolutionary Hero

In its never ending tales of serendipity, evolutionary theory now exalts the once lowly virus as crucial to the evolutionary process itself. It seems that those pockmarked sequences of ancient retroviruses tend to show up in important DNA binding sites where regulatory proteins perch and control which genes are expressed. As one science writer explained:

Surprisingly, the infected hosts and their primate descendants also appear to have benefited from this genetic invasion, new evidence suggests. The ancient retroviruses … helped a gene called p53 become an important “master gene regulator” in primates, …

The advent of gene regulatory networks allowed for greater control over gene expression in higher vertebrates. With tightly controlled variations in gene expression, species that had very similar genetic codes—for instance, humans and chimpanzees—could nevertheless exhibit striking differences.

Amazing how viruses can help create humans. We must be living in the right universe. The tale continues:

Scientists have long wondered how a master regulator such as p53 gained the ability to turn on and off a broad range of other genes related to cell division, DNA repair, and programmed cell death. How did p53 build its complex and powerful empire, so to speak?

Using the tools of computational genomics, the UCSC team gathered compelling evidence that retroviruses helped out. ERVs jumped into new positions throughout the human genome and spread numerous copies of repetitive DNA sequences that allowed p53 to regulate many other genes, the team contends.

Compelling evidence that viruses allowed p53 to regulate many other genes? Of course there is no such compelling evidence. The findings revealed that p53 binding sites sometimes fall within the ancient virus sequences. But for the evolutionary faithful this has profound, if idiotic, implications.

"This would have provided a mechanism to quickly establish a gene regulatory network in a very short evolutionary time frame," said Ting Wang, a post-doctoral researcher at UCSC and lead author of the paper.

Thus, p53 was crowned "guardian of the genome," as biologists now call it. …

Moreover, the team has proposed a new mechanism for evolutionary change. Conventional wisdom says that evolution is driven by small changes--point mutations--to the genetic code. If a change is beneficial, the mutation is passed onto future generations.

Now it appears that another level of evolution occurs that is not driven by point mutations. Instead, retroviruses insert DNA sequences and rearrange the genome, which leads to changes in gene regulation and expression. If such a change in gene regulation is beneficial, it is passed onto future generations.

You cannot make this stuff up. Retroviruses insert DNA sequences and bingo, new amazing designs rapidly appear. It all happens automagically. Junk religion breeds junk science.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Junk Religion

One of reasons evolutionists find their theory to be so compelling is the so-called “shared error” evidence. Designs that are shared between species are evidence for evolution, but junk that is shared between species are veritable proofs for evolution. This evolutionary interpretation of shared junk is yet another example the religious foundation of evolutionary thought. We might say it is another example of evolution’s junk religion.

Similarities between species are evidence for evolution, but the evidence is decidedly mixed. While there are similarities that support the evolution expectation, there are others that contradict the pattern. But erroneous similarities are particularly persuasive for evolutionists.

For example broken genes, referred to as pseudogenes, are sometimes found to be disabled by identical mutations in cousin species. As evolutionist Jerry Coyne concludes in his book Why Evolution is True, “Only evolution and common ancestry can explain these facts.” [68]

That of course is the sort of non scientific, metaphysical, IF-AND-ONLY-IF claim which is fundamental to evolution. Coyne summarizes this important finding:

But if you believe that primates and guinea pigs were specially created, these facts don't make sense. Why would a creator put a pathway for making vitamin C in all these species, and then inactivate it? Wouldn’t it be easier simply to omit the whole pathway from the beginning? Why would the same inactivating mutation be present in all primates, and a different one in guinea pigs? Why would the sequences of the dead gene exactly mirror the pattern of resemblance predicted from the known ancestry of these species? And why do humans have thousands of pseudogenes in the first place? [69]

Should we laugh or cry? The evolution genre is loaded with such trash posing as science, yet I am still struck by the astonishing banality of evolutionary thought.

Of course Coyne omits the scientific details. He omits the findings of non randomness of mutations. And he omits the examples of pseudogenes that don’t fit the pattern, which require even evolutionists to admit to convergent mutations. He omits the fact that evolution fails to explain how the protein synthesis machine, including the genes, arose in the first place.

But can these omissions be at all serious when Coyne and the evolutionists know evolution must be true? After all, they know what a creator would and would not do, and obviously said creator would not have created these pseudogene patterns. Indeed, he wouldn’t have created pseudogenes at all. The evolutionist’s anti intellectualism is exceeded only by his certainty.

The fact that evolution struggles with the evidence is of little consequence—it is true by virtue of creation being false. So what if pseudogenes do not always cooperate. Elliot Sober calls this Darwin’s Principle.

This naïve and facile dorm room argument reveals the astonishing level of anti intellectualism at the heart of evolutionary thought. It is the junk religion behind the junk science. Religion drives science, and it matters.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

John Horgan and Evolution’s Anti Intellectualism

At Scientific American John Horgan has provided a helpful reminder of Karl Popper’s skepticism of evolutionary theory and why it doesn’t matter. The great philosopher found evolution to be “almost a tautology” and “not a testable scientific theory but a metaphysical research program.” He was browbeaten by evolutionists into a forced retraction but in fact he remained a skeptic as evidenced when Horgan interviewed him in 1992. “One ought to look for alternatives!” Popper exclaimed to Horgan, banging his kitchen table.

Popper’s call for alternatives may sound reminiscent of evolutionists themselves, but it is altogether different. One of the most common rebuttals evolutionists make when confronted with science is “so what’s your alternative?”

That question is the barcode on a long history of religious claims regarding origins. Open the box and you’ll find thinkers from Leibniz and Kant in the Enlightenment days to Jerry Coyne and Ken Miller these days pronouncing metaphysical truths that mandate a strictly naturalistic origins narrative. Darwin and his theory were, at bottom, all about what god would and wouldn’t do. And he wouldn’t create this world, that was for certain.

So when evolutionists ask “so what’s your alternative?” it is implicit that god must not be the answer. That answer is dismissed out of hand, for it has long since been falsified. The answer must be strictly naturalistic. Horgan makes this abundantly clear:

The philosopher Daniel Dennett once called the theory of evolution by natural selection "the single best idea anyone has ever had." I'm inclined to agree. But Darwinism sticks in the craw of some really smart people. I don't mean intelligent-designers (aka IDiots) and other religious ignorami but knowledgeable scientists and scholars.

If you think biology was designed, you’re one of the religious ignorami—an IDiot. And why is that? Because you have violated the religious mandates of evolutionary thought. Evolution is an anti intellectual, cowardly religious movement that propagates lies about science. Don’t expect intelligence to emerge from it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Whitewashing Evolution

The Understanding Evolution for Teachers website makes the usual claim that evolution is a fact, but because that is undefendable it is first careful to redefine evolution.

Evolutionists face a dilemma. They cannot forfeit their dogma that evolution is a fact, but when confronted with even a Biology 101 student's questions the claim quickly is shown to be false. Of that there is absolutely no question.

Readers may wonder how I can know it is false. Is this not yet more dogma? The evolutionist spouts his dogma, and the skeptic retorts with his counter dogma. Isn't this the same old he said she said of the origins debate?

No, we need to be careful. I am not saying evolution is absolutely false, I am saying the claim it is a fact is absolutely false. Whether or not evolution (and in what flavor) occurred is a question of distant history. Whether or not evolution is a fact is a question of our current level of knowledge.

I try not to be dogmatic about ancient history, especially when dealing with underdetermined questions. But it is not dogmatic to point out that evolution is not a fact. In fact, it would be dishonest to say otherwise.

The consensus, indeed overwhelming, position within evolutionary thought is that evolution is a fact, or beyond a shadow of a doubt, or highly compelling, or ... well, pick your favorite superlative, it probably has been used by evolutionists.

But evolution is not a fact, and that is a fact, no question about it. Evolutionists attempts to support their claim are, frankly, downright silly. Evolution may be true, but it is not true that we know it is true--far from it.

And so increasingly evolutionists are resorting to whitewashing their claim. They cannot admit it is not a fact, so they quietly switch shells. Suddenly evolution is not the idea that the species have evolved one from another. It is no longer mutations and other happenstance mechanisms creating incredibly complex designs.

Instead, evolution is now merely change over time. Over eons of time life has changed, that's it, that's evolution these days. As the Understanding Evolution for Teachers website put it:

At the heart of evolutionary theory is the basic idea that life has existed for billions of years and has changed over time.

Overwhelming evidence supports this fact. Scientists continue to argue about details of evolution, but the question of whether life has a long history or not was answered in the affirmative at least two centuries ago.

Of course once the new convert is won, then the definition quickly reverts to what we all know evolution really to mean. Call it an equivocation, an obfuscation, or whatever, this is simply a dishonest whitewash. It is a debating trick that evolutionists are increasingly using to avoid their own absurdity.

The website is ostensibly a pedagogical tool, but in fact it is a lie.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Genomic Junk and Evolution

Evolution was claimed to be an undeniable fact in the nineteenth century so today new proofs hardly seem necessary. But science continues to offer them up, say evolutionists, as we probe the depths of biology. These days a common source of such proofs is the genomic data which exploded onto the scene in recent decades. But are the new data really undeniable confirmations of Enlightenment speculation or are the new data merely interpreted according to the same old metaphysics?

The genomic revolution has taught us that genomes contain far more than an inventory of genes. Included is a genomic cast of characters, including viruses, pseudogenes, and LINEs and SINEs (long and short interspersed elements, respectively), to name a few. Evolutionists were quick to find that such intruders were not only useless junk but in accordance with common descent—they appear in the same genetic location in cousin species. Such evidence, according to evolutionists, proved their theory yet again, and once and for all.

The molecular revolution was providing the usual evidence of dysteleology, but it was coupled with commonality across species. The so-called shared error evidence, like identical typos in homework assignments from different students, provided the ultimate proof text of a common source. There could no longer be any doubt, evolution was mandated by the evidence.

Evidential Problems

Indeed there is much evidence here that supports evolution. But there are problems as well. Occasionally, for instance, this genomic junk does not align with the pattern required by common descent but instead mysteriously appears where it shouldn’t (such as in distant species rather than close cousins) or is absent from where it should be (such as in a particular species among many).

Such anomalies can be explained by various mechanisms. Perhaps junk occasionally goes missing because it failed to become fixed in the population, though it succeeded in cousin species. Or perhaps DNA repair processes sometimes erase the junk repeatedly and independently in cousin species. Or perhaps insertion site preferences cause the same pattern to appear in distant species.

Aside from speculation, we don’t know how evolution created such mechanisms. But given their existence and utility in explaining anomalous patterns, this means that evolutionists can explain a wide variety of patterns. And that means the particular pattern we do observe is less compelling evidence for evolution.

The Finding of Function and Theory-Dependent Interpretations of Evidence

Another problem altogether is the failure of the evolutionary expectation (and triumphant proclamation) that these genomic intruders are nothing more than junk. In fact this so-called junk has occasionally been discovered to perform various functions, such as in embryonic development and gene regulation. Indeed evolutionists have had to conclude that this junk actually played an important role in, yes, evolution itself.

But if you already believe that all of biology just happened to arise by itself, then it is hardly a challenge to believe that retro viruses and the like could have serendipitously played important roles in the narrative. Philosophers refer to this as theory-dependent observations. The evolutionist’s credulous interpretation is a consequence of the fact that they are evolutionists to begin with.

From a theory-neutral perspective these functions cast a long shadow on evolution. Are we simply and automatically to believe that evolution just happened to create retro viruses which then, in turn, just happened to play crucial roles in the evolution of the species?

The Religion in Evolution

Given these conundrums one might think evolutionists would go easy on these evidences. There certainly is plenty of supporting evidence, but there are complicating questions. The complicating questions, however, have to do with the details of evolutionary history. How could this happen and how could that happen?

Those are merely the details of evolutionary theory, and evolutionary theory never was motivated by the liklihood of evolution. Evolutionary theory is, and always has been, motivated by the mandate for naturalistic explanation. As so many Christians have argued, naturalism is required for both philosophy and theology. Both man and god need a natural history, for anything less is bad science and bad religion.

In this case, it is obvious that god never would have designed or created pseudogenes, viruses and the rest of the genomic malcontents. We would have to believe, as Ken Miller explains, that the designer made serious errors, wasting millions of bases of DNA on a blueprint full of junk and scribbles. As Elliot Sober has pointed out, this is the Darwinian principle—it is not that the probability of the evidence is so high on evolution, but that it is so low on creation.

Whether the pattern always fits, or whether unlikely functions are discovered, is altogether irrelevant. Yes, they reduce the probability of the evidence on evolution, but so what? What’s the difference between 0.1/0 and 0.01/0? Either way evolution wins.

This is evolutionary thinking. Darwin and evolutionists before and after, evaluate the evidence on creation and find it wanting. Furthermore naturalistic explanation is necessary for good science. Evolutionary theory is unlikely, but necessarily true, for the alternatives are both false and not allowed anyway.

Yes there is evidence for evolution in the genome. It is complicated but any objective analysis would tally points for Darwin. But those points would have to be compared to the many other evidences, both for and against the theory. The problematic evidences are formidable and evolution would not emerge unscathed. The genomic evidence in particular, and the totality of evidence in general, do not bode well for evolution, whichever version one favors. The idea from Kent certainly would not qualify for anything close to the status of fact. Unless, that is, the idea had to be true. Religion drives science and it matters.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Evolution Not Crucial in the Life Sciences

Finally someone has stated the obvious: Evolution does not play a crucial role in life science research. Of course evolution, like the flat earth theory, does make some helpful predictions. But one need not have one eye on the evolution text in order to rightly do life science research, as Steven Shapin explains:

I have taught many talented biology students, both in the US and the UK, who could not give a coherent account of evolution by natural selection – teleology remains strikingly popular – and while it may or may not be the case that
evolution provides the conceptual ‘foundation’ of life science, it is certainly not the case that biologists need to have command of any such theory to do competent work, for example, on the sex life of marine worms, on algal photosynthesis, or on the nucleotide sequence of breast cancer genes. Lots of practitioners of lots of modern expert practices turn out not to be very good at articulating their practices’ supposed foundations.

Don't count the evolutionary myth of self-importance to go away anytime soon though.