This last result provides a reminder of how important the contrastive framework is for evaluating evidence. It seems to offend against common sense to say that E is stronger evidence for the common-ancestry hypothesis the lower the value is of [the probability of E given the common-ancestry hypothesis]. This seems tantamount to saying that the evidence better supports a hypothesis the more miraculous the evidence would be if the hypothesis were true. Have we entered a Lewis Carroll world in which down is up? No, the point is that, in the models we have examined, the ratio [the probability of E given the common-ancestry hypothesis divided by the probability of E given the separate-ancestry hypothesis] goes up as [the probability of E given the common-ancestry hypothesis] goes down. … When the likelihoods of the two hypotheses are linked in this way, it is a point in favor of the common-ancestry hypothesis that it says that the evidence is very improbable. [Evidence and Evolution, p. 314]
But the contrastive logic entails religious assumptions. This is not about science. In the journal paper Sober explains how this argument works and how Darwin used it to rebuke creationists. The paper is a valuable contribution to our understanding of how religion has penetrated science, and of the evolutionist’s denials.
But, not surprisingly, evolutionists are not only in denial of the religion in evolution, they are even in denial of Sober’s assessment. One evolutionist professor, for example, criticized me for quote-mining and mis reading Sober’s paper. He explained that Sober was merely pointing out the failure of creationism as a sidebar:
It's ridiculous to say that the mere mention of creationists necessarily implies something about a creator. Sober's just saying that creationists hold the idea that species don't differentiate beyond certain fixed boundaries, and that that idea was shown wrong. There's no statement about any creator there.
But how could Darwin show that creationism had become untenable if he hadn’t assumed something about the creator? Not a problem, the professor explained. For Darwin used two models, adaptation for common ancestry and chance for separate ancestry:
[Darwin] considers the possible causes for unrelated organisms to share certain character. These would be adaptation and pure chance.
But if the separate ancestry model doesn’t represent creationism, then how can this show creationism to be so improbable? Again, the professor answered that religious assumptions were incidental to Darwin’s logic:
Sober mentioned creationists because they postulated separate ancestry. Whatever else they'd have thought is irrelevant. If we remove the reference to them, the logic of the paper remains the same.
The professor was clearly in denial of the religious premises Sober had pointed out in the paper. One cannot rebuke creationism without modeling creationism. I tried again to explain this:
the evolutionists cannot evaluate Pr(O|separate ancestry) without a model of separate ancestry. Unless that model is based on creationism, they cannot refute creationism. If that model is based on some other notion of separate ancestry, then it carries no force against creationism.
At this point the professor’s denialism became more obvious as he simply rewrote Sober’s explanation of the evolutionary argument, saying it has nothing to do with divine intent:
There's no relationship of necessity between [separate ancestry] and divine intervention. One can consider the former separately. …
it refutes [separate ancestry], not divine intent. The argument explained by Sober in the paper cannot conclude that divine intervention is unlikely. It cannot do that, though you wish Sober said it does. … nobody's interested in your precious creationism in that paper.
But if there is no relationship between separate ancestry and divine intervention, and if Darwin’s logic refuted separate ancestry but not divine intent then, I reminded the professor, Darwin could not rebuke creationism as Sober had explained.
At this point the evolutionist’s denial of his own religious premises were exposed as he simply refused to acknowledge the Sober paper. Sober explained that Darwin had shown to be a myth the creationist notion that species or “kinds” are separated from each other by walls. But one cannot show this creationist notion to be a myth without assuming something about that creationist notion.
The evolution professor had accused me of quote-mining the Sober paper and interpreting it according to personal biases, but in fact this is what the professor was doing.
At this point the professor changed his tack with a new argument and again blamed the problem on me:
What it rebukes is the "species separated by walls" thesis of creationism, but not "creation theory" as a whole, nor the most important claim of creationism: divine intervention in the origin of species. Again, you're equivocating a single creationist thesis with "creation theory" with all of its postulates.
But of course whether the evolutionary logic rebukes a particular thesis of creationism or creationism as a whole is irrelevant, as I explained:
If Darwin rebukes even just some creation theories using religious assumptions, that still amounts to the use of religious assumptions. You’re raising red herrings.
Of course none of this is new. It is just another example of the denialism that comes with evolution. You can see more examples here and here (from Jerry Coyne), here (from PZ Myers) and here (from Douglas Theobald).
Evolutionists say the world arose spontaneously, by itself, they claim this is a scientific fact beyond any shadow of a doubt in spite of massive empirical problems, they make religious arguments to prove their claim, and then they deny it. Evolution is a truly amazing movement in the history of thought. If this wasn’t fully documented by the evolutionists themselves one would never believe it.
Religion drives science, and it matters.