Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Football Player Just Ran 50 Yards the Wrong Way Until the Other Team Tackled Him

You’ve heard of football players occasionally recovering a fumble and in the confusion running the wrong way with the ball. But this time not only did the player advance the ball half the field in the wrong direction, he did so with the other team chasing him down and eventually tackling him, thus preventing him from scoring a two-point safety—for them!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

William Dembski on the Conservation of Information

If you have ever wondered how information theory relates to evolution but found the topic too complicated, then William Dembski’s latest explanation of the concept of the conservation of information might be just for you. As Dembski explains in his introduction:

In this article, I'm going to follow the example of these books, laying out as simply and clearly as I can what conservation of information is and why it poses a challenge to conventional evolutionary thinking. I'll break this concept down so that it seems natural and straightforward. Right now, it's too easy for critics of intelligent design to say, "Oh, that conservation of information stuff is just mumbo-jumbo. It's part of the ID agenda to make a gullible public think there's some science backing ID when it's really all smoke and mirrors." Conservation of information is not a difficult concept and once it is understood, it becomes clear that evolutionary processes cannot create the information required to power biological evolution.

There is no debate that biological designs are astronomically unlikely. Evolutionary theory addresses this with its concept of natural selection. Yes the species and mechanisms we observe are intricate, but of all the randomly occurring designs that happen to arise, those that contribute to fitness will reproduce more often. And so the evolutionary process is not random, but directed.

This is, simply put, how evolution creates nature’s exquisite designs. But does this explanation really work? The conservation of information suggests there is more to the story. As Dembski concludes:

This is the relevance of conservation of information for evolution: it shows that the vast improbabilities that evolution is supposed to mitigate in fact never do get mitigated. Yes, you can reach the top of Mount Improbable, but the tools that enable you to find a gradual ascent up the mountain are as improbably acquired as simply scaling it in one fell swoop. This is the lesson of conservation of information.

Regardless of where you stand this latest contribution from Dembski is well worth a read.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Science Guy: Evolution is True, Creationism is False

Bill Nye, host of the 1990s “Bill Nye the Science Guy” children’s show, makes a plea for evolution in this new video clip. Nye explains that evolution deniers are not scientifically literate and have no future:

Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It's like, it's very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates. You're just not going to get the right answer. Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place.

… Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don't believe in evolution. I mean, here are these ancient dinosaur bones or fossils, here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like our star but they're at a different point in their lifecycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent.

And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems. 

It is not so much that the evidence proves evolution but that it disproves creationism. As Nye explains, evidence such as the fossils, radioactivity and distant stars leaves evolution deniers with massive inconsistencies. Such rejection of science leaves one unable to pursue any kind of technical career.

Nye is moving quickly and there is much that he leaves unspoken. But listen carefully and you will understand the message.