Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Real Facts

Why do people believe that the most complex designs in the known universe evolved? Teams of our best scientists and their super computers cannot figure out how these wonders work, but we're sure they just happened to arise in a warm little pond somewhere. Somehow the mud created designs that outperform our best military systems. How do we know this to be true? Here is some example reasoning from PZ Myers' blog:

Biologists recognize that the basis of life is chemistry — that we are the product of some wonderfully interesting biochemical reactions. We do not believe in spontaneous generation, but we do know that the boundary between biology and chemistry is very, very fuzzy indeed, and that there was a transition in the history of life where chemical replicators gradually acquired sufficient complexity that they became the basis for life. Again, this is the product of evidence and experiment: we see molecular indicators of the common origin of all life, and that we see even in our own cells the hallmarks of a history with a much simpler origin.

Evidence and experiment? Molecular indicators of the common origin of all life? Such claims are, of course, false. It is not controversial that origin of life research has always been motivated by evolutionary thinking. The impetus for thinking that biology's incredible gizmos come from muddy water comes from evolution, not science. Indeed, the scientific evidence has always been a problem for origin of life research. Even the National Academy of Sciences has admitted that:

Constructing a plausible hypothesis of life’s origins will require that many questions be answered. Scientists who study the origin of life do not yet know which sets of chemicals could have begun replicating themselves.

But Myers' rewrite of both science and history is not uncommon. This is the sort of anti intellectualism to which evolutionary thinking leads. Myers continues:

The evolution of whales is also a matter of fact and evidence. We have the fossils; we can see a pattern of change across geological time, from those hooved terrestrial quadrupeds to flippered ambush predators adapted to living in the shallows to four-flippered, paddle-tailed swimmers to obligate water-dwellers with flukes and no hind limbs, with many stages in between. It is a beautiful and strongly-supported example of macroevolutionary change. So yes, we believe it — you'd have to be blind to ignore the testimony of the rocks.

Blind? How about logical? Myers here confidently proclaims the fact of evolution based on affirming the consequent. But this fallacy is only the beginning. The pattern Myers celebrates is so often contradicted in the rocks that this evolutionary illogic is also guilty of confirmation bias. Beyond these two fallacies, there is the problem there really wasn't a consequent to affirm in the first place. Not surprisingly, since the evidence is so often at variance with the pattern Myers finds so persuasive, evolution has long since dropped such a prediction. Increasing complexity, decreasing complexity, rapid appearance, trees, bushes, diversity explosions, stasis for eons—evolution predicts them all.

This is it folks. This is the kind of evidence and reasoning evolutionary thinking brings to the table. To be sure, earth's history is packed with an incredible menagerie of life forms. For those interested in real facts, that is a real fact. But how they got there is a different question. They may have just evolved there, courtesy of the wind, rain, and natural forces. There are of course mammoth scientific problems with that idea. But it could be true. What we do know about that idea, however, is that it is not a scientific fact. Rather it is an unlikely hypothesis that, amazingly, evolutionists insist must be true. Religion drives science and it matters.