Monday, March 31, 2014

Government Now Says Denial of the Science is Malpractice

Another Slice

When we recently warned that professor Lawrence Torcello—who calls for the incarceration of those who question the faltering AGW (anthropogenic, or man-made, global warming) theory—might not merely be an extremist but rather may be the leading edge of the next logical move in evolutionary thought’s abuse of science, we did not expect a disturbing confirmation to come within days. But with the publication of the latest report from the United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change—which once predicted radical changes to the Himalayan mountain range due to AGW, and now urges and requires governments to take immediate action against AGW because harsh, widespread and irreversible impacts are on the way, including floods, damaged crops, worse health, deeper poverty and dangerous economic shocks—Secretary of State John Kerry now states that our way of life is “literally in jeopardy,” and that “denial of the science is malpractice.”

This term “denier” is a favorite pejorative of evolutionists. It is Orwellian newspeak for those who do not automatically affirm the politically-correct answer, and the charge of malpractice from the government is extremely serious. Torcello calls for governments to enact laws enabling the incarceration of climate “denialists,” and now the government is, yes, equating AGW skepticism with malpractice.

When industries falter they seek protection and unfair advantage via government mandate and controls. Similarly, evolution has a long history of marshaling government controls to enforce its non scientific claim of spontaneous origins.

In recent years environmentalism has also been moving toward this strategy. But the labeling of those who don’t go along with questionable and urgent claims as “science deniers,” and charging them as guilty of malpractice, takes evolutionary thought to a whole a new level.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Friday, March 28, 2014

New IPCC Report Forced to Soften the Rhetoric

Science Prevails

Because when people like Matt Ridley question your theory, and when even the notorious United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change so much as softens the rhetoric, you know the hypothesis—in this case anthropogenic, or man-made, global warming—is in trouble. To wit, Ridley points out that in its next report the IPCC moves toward a more sober view of AGW. Gone are the various warnings which inevitably will turn out to be false. Instead the IPCC will issue sufficiently vague warnings, such as dangerous cyclones and changes in rainfall, that are resistant to falsification. And the cost of all this calamity will be scaled back from the 5-20% of the world’s gross domestic product that has been discussed, to less than 2%. The IPCC will be forced now to admit that the economic impact of global warming will be, err, “small relative to the impacts of other drivers.” The report will also admit that not only has climate change not brought any species to extinction, but that the IPCC has “very little confidence” that it will do so. Not surprisingly, as AGW wanes, the IPCC will begin to lay the groundwork for other environmental catastrophes to be alarmed about, showing that, as with evolution, while the various hypotheses are forfeitable (global cooling, global warming, acid rain, the ozone hole, etc.), it is the theoretical core (in this case, environmentalism) that must be protected. None of this is to say that protecting the environment is not important. In fact, it is crucial.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Debate on Origins and the Tree of Life

Intelligent Discussion

Tired of the same old he-said, she-said origins debate babble? Looking for an intelligent discussion between informed and level-headed experts? Then stop by Johnstown, Pennsylvania this weekend for “A Debate on Origins and the Tree of Life” with philosophers Paul Nelson and Joel Velasco. The debate takes place at 3:00 pm on Saturday at the local community college (Richland Campus).

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Professor Proposes Dystopia Where Climate Deniers Bold Enough to Talk Face Incarceration

It’s All About Control

Ground crews around the country are battling permafrost for the upcoming baseball season, the Coast Guard is dealing with 30 inch ice on Lake Superior and another major snow storm just put Philadelphia over 67 inches of snow making this winter the second snowiest on record there while another major Nor’Easter appears to be shaping up. March certainly isn’t going out like a lamb and all of this is merely an exclamation point on the frigid cold from earlier in the season. From the snow in Cairo to the coldest football game ever played, the weather has not cooperated with the so-called AGW (anthropogenic, or man-made, global warming) theory. AGW has a trail of failed predictions and years ago leaked emails revealed a massive effort to manipulate and control the science by AGW proponents. So it was already clear that AGW did not come from unbiased, objective truth-seeking scientists in their clean white lab coats. And their recruitment of Al Gore to shout-out the message further demonstrated AGW was about more than “just science.” Of course none of this necessarily means AGW is incorrect. It is possible that politics, abuse of science, manipulation and theoretical failures are just accidentally tainting what at the core is legitimate and thoughtful science. It does however reveal the dogmatic AGW truth claims for what they are. As the old saying goes, it’s not what they don’t know that scares me, but what they know for sure. AGW may well be true, it may be false, or it may be somewhere in between. We just don’t know for sure. But that’s the point—we don’t know, and what we need are thoughtful minds to come forward on this important issue. Instead AGW proponents are doubling down.

This month Lawrence Torcello, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology, asks the question, “Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent?” Torcello’s use of the term “climate denial” foreshadows his answer. This question of climate change is too important and too complicated for such overreach, but for Torcello if you do not support AGW then you are in “climate denial” and if you talk about it then your next stop should be jail.

Torcello thinks the government should enact laws enabling the incarceration of climate denialists who, after all, are “not only corrupt and deceitful, but criminally negligent in their willful disregard for human life.” It is time for modern societies, Torcello concludes ominously, to “update their legal systems accordingly.”

Torcello’s concern for human life stands in contrast to his advocacy of the termination of unborn human beings, for elsewhere he “promotes completely the permissive position on abortion from conception to birth.” According to Torcello, murder of the unborn should be legal but questioning AGW should be illegal because, after all, it demonstrates a “willful disregard for human life.”

And does anyone believe that in such a perverse world the inquisition will stop with climate deniers? Certainly evolution denial is at least as dangerous.

While one would hope that Torcello is an academic anomaly, the fact is he is not alone and his new found interest in criminal justice will likely help to earn him tenure. There was, for example, University of Texas evolutionist Eric Pianka who advocated the elimination of 90% of the human population (deadly viruses were his weapons of choice) and received standing ovations, and an award from his peers at the Texas Academy of Science.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Still Trending: Now Biotechnology is an Evolutionary Mechanism

Darwinian Anachronisms

Like contemporary hairstyles in a western movie, evolution also has its anachronisms. As we have discussed before, when the leading edge in biology was breeding, evolution was cast as a natural breeder. Now the state of the art is genetic engineering and, so, evolution is cast as a natural genetic engineer. Evolution also uses “networks” and “molecular intelligence.” And so it is not surprising that teaching standards out of Canada now define “Biotechnology” as an evolutionary mechanism that students must understand and explain.

h/t: A friend

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Guess the Evidence for Early Evolution

A Complicated Narrative

As Aaron David Goldman summarized this month, the evolution of early life was a complicated affair. First of all there was the origin of life (OOL) events that produced the first living organism. Then there was a tremendous amount of evolutionary progress leading to the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) of today’s extant species. LUCA probably had DNA, an impermeable phospholipid membrane with much the same small army of proteins that attend to today’s cell membranes, the famed ATPase turbine-driven enzyme for ATP construction, protein synthesis machinery like today’s cells, the universal DNA code and DNA repair mechanisms. In short, LUCA was, as Goldman explains, a “sophisticated cellular organism that, if alive today, would probably be difficult to distinguish from other extant bacteria or archaea.”

Strangely enough DNA replication that we see in today’s cells was not present in LUCA. Instead RNA polymerases performed that job. Later in evolutionary history, today’s complex and circuitous DNA replication incredibly evolved independently several times. Also the aminoacyl tRNA synthetases underwent considerable horizontal gene transfer (HGT).

This is but a small sampling of the complicated evolutionary narrative of early life. And what exactly is the evidence for this Darwinian choreography leading from OOL to LUCA and finally to the three cell domains? Well actually there is, err, none.

In fact, not only is there no evidence for this narrative, evolutionists have repeatedly been stymied in their attempts to demonstrate how it would work in the laboratory. In fact, they can’t even demonstrate how it would work outside of the laboratory. Even when evolutionists are free to speculate and hypothesize with computer models or cartoon renditions, the problem still resists solution because it is too unlikely.

And so why do evolutionists believe all these things about early evolution? Because this circuitous narrative is required if evolution is true. In other words, the evidence for all these things is the fact of evolution. If the species spontaneously arose, as evolutionists insist is a fact, then this early life narrative, in one form or another must have occurred.

They are forced to believe that the OOL somehow occurred, in spite of the science. They are forced to believe that incredible complexity evolved early in evolutionary history because today’s extant species have too much in common. From an evolutionary perspective, those similarities must have been present in LUCA. Likewise DNA replication must not have been present in LUCA because the DNA replication machinery in today’s species reveals too many differences.

Furthermore the aminoacyl tRNA synthetases fail to form an evolutionary tree. So evolutionists must believe HGT caused the confusion. There is no independent evidence that HGT changed around the aminoacyl tRNA synthetases. The evidence simply is the failure to find an adequate evolutionary tree to explain these enzymes.

Similarly there is no evidence that today’s complex and circuitous DNA replication evolved independently several times. Again it is a result of believing in evolution. If the species spontaneously arose then, yes, DNA replication must have evolved independently several times.

Early evolution is an example of how evolution violates Occam’s Razor. Science seeks parsimonious solutions, but evolution leads to circuitous narratives. Religion drives science, and it matters.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Here’s Darwin’s Solution for Convergent Evolution: Like Two Inventors “Independently Hit on the Very Same Invention”

Bad Analogy

One of the powerful arguments for evolution is that the species and the various biological organs and structures fall into the expected common descent pattern. We may not understand how they could have evolved and what transitional forms led to what we observe, but if they were created would they not show discontinuities from species to species? Darwin captures all of these ideas in this famous passage from Origins:

Although in many cases it is most difficult to conjecture by what transitions an organ could have arrived at its present state; yet, considering that the proportion of living and known forms to the extinct and unknown is very small, I have been astonished how rarely an organ can be named, towards which no transitional grade is known to lead. The truth of this remark is indeed shown by that old canon in natural history of "Natura non facit saltum." We meet with this admission in the writings of almost every experienced naturalist; or, as Milne Edwards has well expressed it, nature is prodigal in variety, but niggard in innovation. Why, on the theory of Creation, should this be so? Why should all the parts and organs of many independent beings, each supposed to have been separately created for its proper place in nature, be so invariably linked together by graduated steps? Why should not Nature have taken a leap from structure to structure? On the theory of natural selection, we can clearly understand why she should not; for natural selection can act only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a leap, but must advance by the shortest and slowest steps. [Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, 1st ed., 1859, Ch. 6, p. 194]

Here Darwin makes a compelling argument for his theory. Isn’t it a bit suspicious that all those “parts and organs” from so many different species fall into a common descent pattern with small, gradual steps of change between them? Why would they be created that way by an all-powerful designer?

You can imagine how many readers have been swayed by this passage and others like it in Origins. There’s only one problem: This is all wrong.

The species and their “parts and organs” do not fall into such a pattern. Similar species have very different parts, and distant species have very similar parts. These cases are not exceptions but rather are rampant in the biological world and evolutionists maintain their common descent narrative to this day only by careful filtering of the data. Even in Darwin’s day there were hints of this problem and in one of those often overlooked foibles Darwin addressed this just before the passage above:

The electric organs offer another and even more serious difficulty; for they occur in only about a dozen fishes, of which several are widely remote in their affinities. Generally when the same organ appears in several members of the same class, especially if in members having very different habits of life, we may attribute its presence to inheritance from a common ancestor; and its absence in some of the members to its loss through disuse or natural selection. But if the electric organs had been inherited from one ancient progenitor thus provided, we might have expected that all electric fishes would have been specially related to each other. Nor does geology at all lead to the belief that formerly most fishes had electric organs, which most of their modified descendants have lost. The presence of luminous organs in a few insects, belonging to different families and orders, offers a parallel case of difficulty. Other cases could be given; for instance in plants, the very curious contrivance of a mass of pollen-grains, borne on a foot-stalk with a sticky gland at the end, is the same in Orchis and Asclepias,—genera almost as remote as possible amongst flowering plants. In all these cases of two very distinct species furnished with apparently the same anomalous organ, it should be observed that, although the general appearance and function of the organ may be the same, yet some fundamental difference can generally be detected. I am inclined to believe that in nearly the same way as two men have sometimes independently hit on the very same invention, so natural selection, working for the good of each being and taking advantage of analogous variations, has sometimes modified in very nearly the same manner two parts in two organic beings, which owe but little of their structure in common to inheritance from the same ancestor. [Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, 1st ed., 1859, Ch. 6, p. 193]

Here Darwin notes that there are several examples of similar organs in more distant species, indicating that they must have evolved independently. These are the sorts of similarities that would have been ascribed to evolution’s common descent, as in the powerful passage quoted above, if they had appeared in sister species. But these similarities do not appear in sister species—they appear in more distant species. So Darwin produced a new explanation: they evolved independently just as “two men have sometimes independently hit on the very same invention,” such as Leibniz and Newton independently developing calculus. Such personification of evolution and natural selection was common in Origins, and remains common in today’s literature. Aristotelianism never really died, it just changed names.

This has the virtue of not having to explain how low entropy, high Kolmogorov complexity designs which are astronomically unlikely to have spontaneously arisen (yes, that is what evolution says) even once could have evolved, err, multiple times independently.

And so there you have it. Evolution can explain common descent patterns and .NOT. common descent patterns. This is an example of the great flexibility of evolutionary theory. It doesn’t matter what the pattern is, evolution can explain it. And if a theory can explain both X and not X, then the scientist must not claim X (or not X) as evidence for his theory.

But this isn’t about science. Look at the first passage quoted above. Halfway down Darwin makes the argument compelling. Sure there are species that don’t fit the common descent pattern, but the important point is that the species would not have been created this way. X is powerful evidence, not because evolution can explain it but because creation cannot explain it. Evolution must be true—our religion demands it.

Religion drives science, and it matters.