Saturday, January 28, 2012

Neil deGrasse Tyson: No engineer would design that, at all. Ever!

Evolutionist Neil deGrasse Tyson has pointed out that notions of creationism and intelligent design ignore a fundamental and important problem—the fact that the universe, and most of the things in it, would never have been designed. As Tyson explains:

Star formation is completely inefficient. Most places in the universe will kill life instantly—instantly! People say “Oh, the forces of nature are just right for life.” Excuse me. Just look at the volume of the universe where you can’t live. You will die instantly. That is not what I call the Garden of Eden, alright. … We’re on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy—gone is this beautiful spiral that we have. And of course we’re on a one-way, expanding universe as we wind down to oblivion, as the temperature of the universe approaches absolute zero. 

The inner solar system is a shooting gallery. And look how long it took for multicellular life to evolve—3.5 billion years! Obviously not a good design. Then there are the earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and one of Darwin’s favorites, lightning strikes. 99% of all life that ever lived is now extinct. “None of this,” Tyson explains, “is any sign that there is a benevolent anything out there.”

And consider all the natural diseases. Lukemia, hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and ALS. The list goes on and on. But that’s not all. Our limited human vision system can only perceive a narrow band of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. As Tyson makes clear:

Anyone who has seen the full breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum will recognize how blind we are.

We have to eat constantly because we’re warm-blooded. So we’re always looking for food. And what about carbon monoxide? You can’t smell it or taste, but you breath it in and “your dead.”

The problem, Tyson explains, is that we tend to ignore these obvious problems:

This is all simply stupid design. The problem is, if you look for what is intelligent, and yes you can find some things that are really beautiful, and really—“hey, that’s clever,” such as the ball-socket of the shoulder. There are a lot of things you can point to, but then you stop looking at all the things that confound that revelation. And so, if I came upon a frozen waterfall, and it just struck me for all its beauty, I would then turn over the rock and try to find a millipede, or some kind of deadly newt, and put that in context, and realize, of course, the universe is not here for us.

And so the final verdict: “No engineer would design that, at all. Ever!” As Hume’s character Philo put it more than two centuries ago,

Here, Cleanthes, I find myself at ease in my argument. Here I triumph. Formerly, when we argued concerning the natural attributes of intelligence and design, I needed all my skeptical and metaphysical subtlety to elude your grasp. In many views of the universe and of its parts, particularly the latter, the beauty and fitness of final causes strike us with such irresistible force, that all objections appear (what I believe they really are) mere cavils and sophisms; nor can we then imagine how it was ever possible for us to repose any weight on them. But there is no view of human life, or of the condition of mankind, from which, without the greatest violence, we can infer the moral attributes, or learn that infinite benevolence, conjoined with infinite power and infinite wisdom, which we must discover by the eyes of faith alone. It is your turn now to tug the laboring oar, and to support your philosophical subtleties against the dictates of plain reason and experience.

Tyson has more evidence than Hume ever had, and it confirms that age old message. Complexity and beauty may suggest design, but dysteleology and evil refute it. The world must have evolved. Religion trumps science every time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Evolution Professors: Evolution is Simply Genetic Change (And a Fact)

As we saw here, here, here and here Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner, in their new book Arguing for Evolution: An Encyclopedia for Understanding Science, list altruism as an evidence for evolution, make religious arguments that prove evolution, say that evolution predicts “There will be anatomical similarities among related organisms,” begin the book with a bogus prediction claim, define science as strictly naturalistic and say it would be perverse not to accept the scientific fact of evolution.

Of course Moore and Cotner are not saying anything new. These types of arguments are standard in evolutionary thought. They can be found throughout evolutionary apologetics. After all, the book is meant to be an encyclopedia. So the book is a useful compendium of evolutionary thought.

And as the book reveals, the most serious problems in evolutionary thought lie not in the scientific details that are brought forth as evidence, but in how those details are interpreted and arranged. Everyone agrees on the scientific observations, but how are we to understand those observations? It is here that the main problems arise, and it is here where one begins to learn the essence of evolutionary thought.

The underlying religious motivation drives evolutionary thinking into several common, predictable patterns. These include the construction of bogus predictions, the ignoring of substantial scientific problems, and misrepresenting how the evidence bears on the theory.

This is all in support of the false claim that evolution is a scientific fact. Evolution may have occurred or it may not have occurred. People can argue over the this, but there is no question that evolution is not a scientific fact. That is to say, the scientific evidence, no matter how generously interpreted, does not make evolution a fact. Not even close. There are significant scientific problems with the theory.

So evolutionists have a problem. The science contradicts their theory yet they say it is a fact.  One strategy evolutionists use to rationalize their claims is to make undefendable demarcation claims about what science is. Though they have made metaphysical claim after metaphysical claim, they then hypocritically say science must be strictly naturalistic. And if science is strictly naturalistic, then the species must have arisen naturalistically, at least according to science.

So evolutionists both rely on and eschew metaphysics. Not surprisingly Moore and Cotner follow in this tradition. For instance, they tell us that “Nonnatural, or supernatural explanations, are neither scientific nor evidentiary.” Yet elsewhere they approvingly quote Darwin who wrote that “nothing can be more hopeless than to attempt to explain this similarity [pentadactyl pattern] … by utility or by the doctrine of final causes.”

So when convenient, metaphysics are allowed, but when not convenient metaphysics are ruled out as “not scientific.” After all, we all know metaphysical claims are not scientific (except when we make them).

As if sensing a problem, evolutionists deploy yet another backstop. To rationalize their rationalizations, they lower the bar and reduce evolution to mere change over time. This way, no one can argue that evolution is not a fact. Change occurs over time, therefore all of biology arose spontaneously, strictly by the play of natural laws.

For instance, Isaac Asimov once wrote that mere color changes in the peppered moth prove evolution. How could such trivial change prove evolution? Of course it doesn’t—this is an equivocation on evolution.

Similarly Steve Jones wrote that the changes observed in HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) contain Darwin’s “entire argument.” According to science writer Jonathan Weiner, the changes in the beaks of birds show us “Darwin’s process in action.”

Likewise Professor Marta Wayne tells us that “Evolution is change in gene frequency” and science writer Emily Willingham defines evolution as “a change in population over time.” Professor Pamela Bjorkman states that a mutating virus is “evolution at work” and that “In the same way, people have evolved, but over a much slower time scale.”

So it is not surprising that Moore and Cotner follow this tradition of equivocation. After approvingly quoting Stephen Jay Gould that it would be perverse not to accept the fact of evolution, they next inform the reader that “Most simply, evolution is any change in a population’s genetic composition over time.”

All of this would be laughable if it weren’t so real. The book’s promotional material states that:

The book shows how scientists have tested the predictions of evolutionary theory and created an unshakeable foundation of evidence supporting its truth. As such, it demonstrates how evolution serves as a case study for understanding the scientific method and presents a logical model for scientific inquiry.

Unfortunately the truth is close to the exact opposite. This new book by Moore and Cotner does not demonstrate the truth of evolution any more than previous apologetics have. Nor do Moore and Cotner help reveal anything about “the scientific method” or “scientific inquiry.”

There’s nothing wrong with exploring new or unlikely ideas, but evolution is about the manipulation and misrepresentation of science to prove a preconceived conclusion. Evolutionists do not merely explore an unlikely idea, they insist it is a fact in spite of the science.

Moore and Cotner are not demonstrating the scientific method, they show yet again how evolution abuses science. They do not reveal the truth of evolution, but rather how unfounded are its proofs. Evolutionary thought is a Trojan Horse that has infected science. This new book from Moore and Cotner is simply one more example.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Evolution Professors: Science Must be Naturalistic and Testable (Can You Find the Fallacy?)

As we saw here, here and here Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner, in their new book Arguing for Evolution: An Encyclopedia for Understanding Science, list altruism as an evidence for evolution, make the typical religious arguments that prove evolution, say that evolution predicts “There will be anatomical similarities among related organisms,” and begin the book with a bogus prediction claim.

But this is only the beginning. In their next move Moore and Cotner attempt to precondition the reader by mandating naturalism. In a section entitled “Definitions of Science and Scientific Theory,” Moore and Cotner inform the reader that:

Nonnatural, or supernatural explanations, are neither scientific nor evidentiary (i.e., they cannot be supported by scientific evidence). Scientific hypotheses must be testable and falsifiable. Making conclusions that cannot be tested through experimentation and observation is not scientifically valid.

So if the ground rules are that science must be strictly naturalistic—if science must not stray from the naturalism paradigm—then science cannot test naturalism. Naturalism, insofar as science would be concerned, cannot be falsified. Therefore, according to the evolutionist’s logic, the naturalism ground rule is not scientifically valid.

Next Moore and Cotner explain that the theory of evolution has been, in the words of Stephen Jay Gould “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.”


In fact the naturalistic origin of all of biology (and everything else for that matter) is not even testable. Of course it has been confirmed, for there is no other choice. We don’t know how the entire biosphere could have arisen spontaneously, and evolutionary predictions have fallen one after the other, but one way or another, evolution must be the answer. It would be perverse to think otherwise. That’s just the Stuff of Good Solid Scientific Research.

Religion drives science and it matters.

Professors: Evolution Predicts Unknown Moth

As we saw here and here Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner, in their new book Arguing for Evolution: An Encyclopedia for Understanding Science, list altruism as an evidence for evolution, make the typical religious arguments that prove evolution, and say that evolution predicts “There will be anatomical similarities among related organisms.” That religion is doing the heavy lifting behind the phony science is not news, but Moore and Cotner’s book gives us yet another example of this hypocrisy.

In fact the book begins with yet another silly claim that evolutionists find to be significant. In 1862 Darwin examined an orchid, originating from Madagascar, with an incredible foot-long nectary. How could an insect reach all the way down to the base of the tube where the nectar was? The logical conclusion was that there must be a moth species, somewhere in Madagascar, with a very long proboscis with which to pollinate the freak orchid. Darwin may have been an evolutionist, but he could also come to common sense conclusions.

Such a moth was eventually found, and of course evolutionists interpret the orchid-moth pair as a result of evolutionary change. But Darwin’s successful prediction was hardly an evolutionary one. One need not believe orchids and moths (and everything else) just happened to spontaneously arise due to chance in order to reason that for every orchid there must be a pollinator.

Moore and Cotner, however, tell the reader otherwise. They begin their volume with this example on arguing for evolution as though it is an example of the success of evolutionary thinking. This is not unusual. Evolutionists often claim, as successes, predictions and findings where evolution is, in fact, gratuitous. This is understandable if one begins with the assumption that evolution, one way or another, must be true.

Religion drives science and it matters.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Evolution Professors: There Will be Anatomical Similarities Among Related Organisms

What exactly is a scientific prediction? Philosophers have long since pointed out that many so-called scientific predictions do not qualify. For instance, sometimes a prediction is made after the fact. Other times the prediction is too broad or vague. In some cases a failure of the prediction can be too easily accommodated, using minor adjustments to the theory. In fact sometimes the prediction is not even required by the theory. It is simply used to make the theory look good. These textbook examples from the philosophy of science can be found in abundance in evolutionary theory. Consider, for example, Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner who, in their new book Arguing for Evolution: An Encyclopedia for Understanding Science, state that evolution predicts “There will be anatomical similarities among related organisms.” It is a typical example of how evolutionists commit even obvious fallacies in their apologetics.

The evolutionary prediction that “There will be anatomical similarities among related organisms” is, for starters, an after-the-fact prediction. It has been known since antiquity that species are not simply randomly designed, but instead share at least some patterns. And the prediction is incredibly vague. It could mean just about anything. But this is only the beginning.

The prediction that “There will be anatomical similarities among related organisms” is not even binding. Biology is full of falsifications of this prediction. We humans and squids, yes squids, share similar vision systems. It is an incredible anatomical similarity among very different species. On the other hand, different frog species have completely different development pathways to form their vision systems. These are just two of biology’s many examples of unrelated organisms with striking similarities and related organisms with striking differences. When confronted with such falsifications, evolutionists respond that “evolution does that too.” As the philosopher warned, sometimes prediction failure can be too easily accommodated.

In fact, evolution’s ability to accommodate such massive contradictions to the prediction shows that the prediction was not even required by the theory in the first place. Evolutionists have no problem explaining violations of their expected pattern. Evolution, they say, can temporarily speed up, thus creating big change and erasing the expected similarities. This and other just-so explanations reveal that this prediction never really was a genuine prediction in the first place. It is just there to make the theory look good.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Is Evolution an Enabler of All Kinds of Absurdities?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Book on Arguing for Evolution

Did you know that helping is evidence for evolution? As Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner explain in their new book Arguing for Evolution: An Encyclopedia for Understanding Science, this and most everything else in biology proves evolution to be an undeniable fact. Altruism, they explain, may seem to be a “problem” for evolution. (They put “problem” in quotes because, of course, there are no real problems for evolution. All those false predictions are simply explained by adjusting the theory.) In this case, most acts of so-called altruism are “anything but.” If an individual sounds an alarm to warn the others or dies to save the group, it is really just another evolutionary calculation. Does not such risky behavior maximize the chances that the all important genes will be propagated to the next generation? And so falling on hand grenades may seem to be a noble, heroic act, but actually it is simply a product of natural selection. As John Haldane once put it, “I would lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins.”

But how did such complex behaviors evolve in the first place? How do we decide which behaviors maximize gene propagation versus simply terminating such propagation? Even something as seemingly simple as bacteria suicide is enormously intricate and complex. It is an elaborate molecular choreograph that isn’t going to arise by a few chance mutations.

Remember that selection cannot induce such designs. It can only select them once they have been randomly produced by those epicurean veering atoms. But chance mutations can’t create real-life complexities. There is no gradual path of tiny changes that morphs a tricycle into a jet airliner. Even simple molecular machines don’t show signs of gradual buildup.

There is also the “problem” of the many altruistic behaviors that don’t fit the evolutionary model. Such non reciprocal altruism hardly helps get one’s gene into future generations. Why does Mother Theresa help the needy in far away countries?

These and other thorny “problems” are not seriously addressed. Instead, Moore and Cotner present the usual non scientific, metaphysical proofs that mandate evolution. As philosopher Elliott Sober has pointed out, the strong evidences for evolution come from metaphysical rebukes of creationism.

For example, Moore and Cotner point to the pentadactyl pattern which is:

difficult to explain if the organisms originated independently of (and were therefore unrelated to) each other, for such an origin would not require pentadactyl limbs or, any other shared traits.

Why are such similarities difficult to explain if the organisms are not related by common descent? Because the organisms should not share any similarities. And how do evolutionists know that the organisms should not share any similarities? Because such similarities are not required. And what is the basis for these requirements? Evolutionary fitness, of course. But the pentadactyl pattern is presented as evidence for evolution and as such, it needs to be interpreted objectively. Otherwise the argument is circular.

Of course what is lurking behind all this is the usual evolutionary metaphysics. It is what Sober calls Darwin’s Principle. And if there was any doubt that evolution is a religious theory the authors dig deeper into the metaphysics:

Creationists have explained these developmental and structural similarities as the handiwork of a Creator who saved time and work by varying a basic theme. Darwin, however, considered such explanations to be useless, noting that “nothing can be more hopeless than to attempt to explain this similarity … by utility or by the doctrine of final causes,” and that the similarities are “inexplicable” by traditional views of creationism.

Final causes is hopeless? Creationism is inexplicable? Well then yes, evolution is a fact. So while the evidence is unlikely on evolution, as Sober points out, it ironically makes evolution a fact:

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]

No matter that the evidence doesn’t fit evolution very well. Creationism is inexplicable, so evolution is a fact.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This Just In: Everything Came From Nothing and if You Don’t Agree You Know Nothing

Evolution professor Lawrence Krauss is now saying that the universe, and everything in it, came from nothing. Not only that, but there are probably billions and billions of universes that have spontaneously arisen. Occasionally a universe happens to have all the right properties for life to arise spontaneously within it, and that would be us.

Krauss, a theoretical physicist and head of The Origins Project at Arizona State University, is not the first evolutionist to defy the age-old wisdom that something does not come from nothing. World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking popularized the idea in a recent book he co-authored entitled The Grand Design.

Krauss and Hawking use gravitational theory and quantum mechanics to argue that, in fact, such spontaneous creation is all but inevitable. Their narratives appeal to graduate-level physics which most people do not understand, but the basic idea of a strictly naturalistic creation story goes back centuries.

The intellectual necessity of naturalism

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with the rise of modern science and the Enlightenment, the urge for strict naturalism was promoted by various Christian traditions. Both in England and on the continent, Christians were refining a range of theological views that required science to describe the world’s origins strictly in terms of natural law. The dozen or so views that emerged fell into two broad categories. One category dealt with the divine attributes while the other dealt with epistemology and man’s knowledge. For short, we may refer to them as the “greater god mandate” and the “intellectual necessity” for naturalism.

In each category a foundational theological view supported various specific arguments for naturalism. One argument from the intellectual necessity view, which became more clear in the eighteenth century, was that special divine action (or primary causation) interfered with scientific progress, or even made science impossible.

As Baden Powell had insisted, all of science depends on the principles of uniformitarianism. Darwin’s confidant J. D. Hooker was more direct. Though he found special creation and evolution at an empirical standoff, neither theory with a clear advantage, he opted for the latter for its “great organizing potential.” It was not that evolutionary theories were “the truest,” he wrote to William H. Harvey in 1859, “but because they do give you room to reason and reflect at present, and hopes for the future, whereas the old stick-in-the-mud doctrines … are all used up. They are so many stops to further inquiry; if they are admitted as truths, why there is an end of the whole matter, and it is no use hoping ever to get any rational explanation of origin or dispersion of species—so I hate them.”

A law-like origins of the world, on the other hand, supported the accrual of knowledge. Darwin enunciated this view when he explained that acceptance of his theory of evolution was less important than the rejection of special divine action:

Whether the naturalist believes in the views given by Lamarck, by Geoffroy St. Hilaire, by the author of the ‘Vestiges,’ by Mr. Wallace or by myself, signifies extremely little in comparison with the admission that species have descended from other species, and have not been created immutable: for he who admits this as a great truth has a wide field open to him for further inquiry.

The rejection of special divine action was equated with scientific progress. Here Darwin extrapolated his metaphysical argument to arrive at the ultimate proof against creation. His main point, that no creator ever would have intended for this world, was now protected against counter arguments because such counter arguments would be unscientific.

Darwin repeatedly used metaphysical arguments against creation to prop up evolution, but now he declared that counter arguments would be out-of-bounds since they were unscientific. Darwin correctly observed that creation and its supporting arguments hinge on one’s concept of God, but he conveniently forgot that arguments against creation equally hinge on one’s concept of God. For Darwin, it was fair game to argue against creation but not for it. Thus, evolution was the correct scientific conclusion. In fact, what good science required was a naturalistic explanation, regardless of what particular explanation was used.

Since Darwin this theological argument has gained strength. For Niles Eldredge, the key responsibility of science—to predict—becomes impossible when a capricious Creator is entertained:

But the Creator obviously could have fashioned each species in any way imaginable. There is no basis for us to make predictions about what we should find when we study animals and plants if we accept the basic creationist position. … the creator could have fashioned each organ system or physiological process (such as digestion) in whatever fashion the Creator pleased.

In his text Paul Moody explains that without strict naturalism one does not have an explanation at all:

it amounts to saying, ‘Things are this way because they are this way.’ Furthermore, it removes the subject from scientific inquiry. One can do no more than speculate as to why the Creator chose to follow one pattern in creating diverse animals rather than to use differing patterns.

Likewise Tim Berra warns that we must not be led astray by the apparent design in biological systems, for it “is not the sudden brainstorm of a creator, but an expression of the operation of impersonal natural laws, of water seeking its level. An appeal to a supernatural explanation is unscientific and unnecessary—and certain to stifle intellectual curiosity and leave important questions unasked and unanswered. ” In fact, “Creationism has no explanatory powers, no application for future investigation, no way to advance knowledge, no way to lead to new discoveries. As far as science is concerned, creationism is a sterile concept.”

Lawrence Krauss and the intellectual necessity

And so it is not surprising to hear Lawrence Krauss, at the 3:14 mark in the above lecture, rehearse the same, centuries-old, intellectual necessity theology in support of his conviction that something, in fact the entire universe, just happened to spontaneously arise from nothing:

I am going to a talk about our modern picture of cosmology and how it has changed our view of the universe—the past and the future, and in some sense how that picture is clearly remarkable. And far more remarkable than the fairly tales that are made up in most religious situations.

But the key point is mystery. That is one of the things that makes science so special I think. It is that scientists love mysteries. They love not knowing. That’s a key part of science. The excitement of learning about the universe. And that again is so different than the sterile aspect of religion where the excitement is apparently knowing everything, although clearly knowing nothing.

There you have it. Without naturalism there is not only no excitement, there is no knowledge. We are left “apparently knowing everything” but “clearly knowing nothing.” Given this truth, then of course, we must have evolution.

Everything came from nothing and if you don’t agree, then you know nothing. Religion drives science, and it matters.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rib Development Interdependencies: More Complicated Than We Would Have Imagined

Research published last year out of Portugal shows that the development of ribs is more complicated than evolutionists imagined. It turns out that in the developing embryo, rib growth is promoted by one pathway and inhibited by another. The end result is a delicate balancing act between the two to construct the proper design.

And on top of that, the balancing act is further complicated by its coordination with muscle development. As one writer explained:

The researchers went on to unpick the genes involved in this process, and came up with yet another surprising finding: that the whole process relies on first hitting so-called muscle genes in the embryo, which then provide signals to switch on the 'rib' genes to make both ribs and muscle, in a coordinated process.

Did evolution get lucky again by randomly constructing another complex, interdependent process that needs all the major components? Who knows but who cares. After all, evolution is a fact. As the lead researcher assures us, the perplexing result “makes perfect sense” from an evolutionary perspective. And why is that true? Because:

it is no good to make ribs without muscle, so, in the embryo, the production of both ribs and their associated muscles is under the control of a single and coordinated mechanism.

Of course. It is all so clear now. Evolution constructed incredible complexity because ribs are no good without muscles. That’s just the Stuff of Good Solid Scientific Research.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Evolution Professor: I Wrote a Thoughtful Response

An evolution professor who wrote a profanity-laced diatribe in response to a question about evolution is now saying it was a “thoughtful response.” He writes:

I wrote, what I thought, was a thoughtful response to a question I was asked regarding math and evolution and creationists.

But as I pointed out here, here and here, aside from the foul language the professor’s response contained several scientific blunders. And now those blunders are being amplified in the professor’s next response. But as usual a straightforward discussion about the science won’t be easy.

Evolution is a religiously driven theory that is weak on the science, so you can guess where the discussion goes. Here is how the professor begins his next “thoughtful” response:

In my original post, I pointed out one creationist argument against the theory of evolution misuses probability. The argument goes like this: using these assumptions, the odds of life originating is infinitesimally small therefore god and Jesus and homosexuals can not visit each other in the hospital.

Aside from the usual mocking that evolutionists rely on, the misuse of probability is not a “creationist argument.” Again, this is typical. Evolutionists think they can cover over the problems with their theory by raising the “Creationist” alarm and turning to ridicule.

The professor’s first mistake was his misuse of probability. They say there are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics. We might now add probability to the list. A problem with evolution, and the origin of life, is that they are astronomically unlikely. They have low probability.

The professor attempted to explain this away by arguing that all outcomes are equiprobable. Incredibly complex cellular life arising on its own is no different than a blob of mud. After all, all possible outcomes have a probability of 1/#Outcomes. This is an old, and frankly pathetic, trick. Laplace explained the problem centuries ago and I elaborated on it here.

Using the professor’s rationale, we would credulously accept all manner of bizarre events. If all our roulette wheel bets turned out winners, if our poker hands always gave a royal flush, if random letters spelled out CONSTANTINOPLE, it all would be just another equiprobable event.

But not surprisingly all of this was lost on the professor. He writes:

Instead of dealing with the fact that creationist assumptions are pure fiction …

That would be difficult to do since the professor gave no specifics to deal with. The professor gave no references, no citations, no links, not even any names. In fact the professor’s characterization of “creationist assumptions” was a convenient strawman rather than a serious criticism.

For instance, the professor characterizes creationists as assuming evolution occurs instantaneously. I’m not up on the creationist literature so perhaps they do say this. But if so, this hardly addresses the serious problems with evolution. (More on this below). The professor continues:

Cornelius takes a different tact. Poker and scrabble. See the odds of three players each getting an amazing poker hand at the same time is a really small number therefore evolution can not be true or the odds of pulling out scrabble tiles in order that spell out CONSTANTINOPLE is a really small number therefore evolution can not be true.

Here the professor avoids the problem and instead distorts what I said. The problem is not that “evolution cannot be true,” which of course I never said. The problem is that evolution is unlikely, and his equiprobable argument doesn’t help. After failing to address the problem, the remainder of the professor’s response degrades further:

So if flipping a coin or the lottery are not sufficient evidence, then poker and scrabble will be? Poker and scrabble did not even exist 10,000 years ago, therefore the world can not be that old (if I understand Cornelius' way of thinking). The problem isn't getting small numbers. That's easy, I brought up two ways and now we have two more. The problem is the assumptions creationists make, they are not reality.

10,000 years ago? The world can not be that old? The assumptions creationists make? Where did that come from? Later the professor contrived more opponents to attack:

He is stuck on the idea that scientists think a cell just poofed into existence, regardless of what we say, he refuses to accept it and keeps harping the same lie over and over. … Cornelius' world-view is that the Bible (as he interprets it) is correct and the universe must fit into that tiny little corpuscle of his imagination.

Poofed into existence? Of course I never said any such thing. The professor is simply contriving strawmen to knock down. Unfortunately this is typical. Try discussing the science with evolutionists and too often they attack imagined motives. The irony is that while they promote the religiously-driven theory of evolution, they criticize everyone else for the same. Sorry, but misrepresenting science and resorting to various fallacies is not “thoughtful.”

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Evolution Professor: You’re Quote-Mining Elliott Sober

It is well known that evolution is a religious theory except, that is, to evolutionists. Amazingly, they make their religious claims but then immediately turn around and deny ever having done any such thing. And those who are in a position to expose this denial, professional philosophers, too often are of little help. Evolutionists literally deny their religious premises right after making them and philosophers fail to point out the problem. That is why a peer-reviewed paper on this topic by leading philosopher Elliott Sober, in a leading journal, was helpful. Sober analyzes arguments in great detail and in the paper he points out how evolutionary reasoning entails metaphysical premises. According to evolutionists the scientific evidence falsifies creation and so evolution, of one sort or another, is the only alternative. As Sober has pointed out elsewhere, this contrastive logic works even though evolution itself fares so poorly on the scientific evidence:

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.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

University of Toronto Conference: The Wise Scientist

The Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Toronto is hosting a conference this summer entitled “The Wise Scientist: Historical and Philosophical Reflections on the Place of Wisdom in Science” and their first suggested topic is: “Case studies which highlight particularly wise (or spectacularly unwise) scientists.” I think I have an idea. Here is my abstract:

In 1859 Charles Darwin presented his theory of evolution which stated that the species originated spontaneously. From whatever initial conditions existed in the early earth, millions upon millions of species arose by themselves. Indeed, from biochemistry to anatomy, the entire biological world arose on its own. Not surprisingly the theory was met with a degree of skepticism from some scientists. But Darwin’s idea was greeted by theologians and soon was hailed as an undisputable fact. In spite of its heroic claims and a long series of failed predictions, the theory of evolution became entrenched orthodoxy in the twentieth century. As evolutionist Ernst Mayr explained, the fact of evolution is so overwhelmingly established that it would be irrational to call it a theory. Even consciousness, evolutionists insist, is merely an emergent result of the seemingly limitless complexity which spontaneously arose.

But evolutionary thinking did not begin with Darwin and is not limited to biology. The theory that the world arose by itself traces back to antiquity, and in modern times was promoted by cosmologists centuries before Darwin. As Kant explained, a strictly naturalistic origins was based on “incontrovertible principles” which left no doubt of the conclusion. Recently the cover of the venerable Scientific American informed its loyal readers that “Infinite Earths in Parallel Universes Really Exist” and the internationally renown physicist Stephen Hawking proclaimed that even the universe arose on its own.

It would be difficult to overstate the sheer intellectual strength and academic credentials of these leading evolutionists. They are the best and the brightest the world has to offer. Similarly, it would be difficult to overstate the enormous chasm that separates their dogmatic truth claims and reality. While evolutionary theories have been called unwise, evolutionary thinking is undoubtedly the most “spectacularly unwise” movement in history. It would be difficult to imagine a more unlikely science proclaimed with more certainty. Brilliance and intelligence are not necessarily accompanied by wisdom.

Think they will accept it? Religion drives science, and it matters.