Home » Biology, Complex Specified Information, Creationism, Darwinism, Intelligent Design, Science » Debating Darwin and Design: A Dialogue Between Two Christians

Debating Darwin and Design: A Dialogue Between Two Christians

A couple of months ago, I agreed to take part in a written debate with a good friend of mine, Francis Smallwood. Francis, like me, is a commited Christian. Unlike me though, he is also a neo-Darwinist. On his blog Musings Of A Scientific Nature he writes on many different scientific issues, although his primary focus is on Darwinism. I encourage UD readers to check his blog out.

As an enthusiastic ID proponent, I obviously think his embrace of Darwinian theory is profoundly mistaken, and equally I think his criticisms of ID are weak. However, he is at least willing to engage in debate with people of opposing view points and is not as dismissive as most Darwinists.

Our idea was to chose several points of contention that are related to the debate between ID and Darwinism. These will include questions such as: Is ID science or creationism? Can we detect design in nature? What is the evidence for neo-Darwinism?, and several others. In turn, we will focus on each particular issue and have an extended back and forth.

We have aimed to keep the discussion civil and measured, making sure we refrain from lapsing into the usual name-calling and vituperation. Though this is intended to be an extended debate over a long period of time, we have only just scratched the surface of the debate. The first issue we have chosen to focus on is the question whether ID is genuine science or merely a form of stealth creationism. So far we have had a couple of exchanges and more will be forthcoming.

I thought some readers here may be interested in this discussion and so will post my responses to Francis on here over time. At the top will be a link to his blog so you can go there and read his responses yourself. Though the discussion so far is fairly elementary, I hope some will find it edifying and we will be sure to get into deeper waters as these issues are opened up and probed further.

We began by writing opening statements to this discussion. You can read Francis’ statement here My statement can be read below:

Debating Darwin and Design

A Dialogue Between Two Christians

Joshua Gidney-Opening Statement

‘Automatically rejecting dissenting views that challenge the conventional wisdom is a dangerous fallacy, for almost every generally accepted view was once deemed eccentric or heretical. Perpetuating the reign of a supposed scientific orthodoxy in this way, whether in a research laboratory or in a court room, is profoundly inimical to the search for truth…’1

Stephen J. Gould

When it comes to the ultimate, vexing questions of origins, life, meaning and purpose, few are as hotly debated as questions about Darwin’s theory of evolution and Intelligent Design theory. For decades there has been much controversy in public and academic circles and although this controversy is most prevalent in America, the heated discussion can be found thriving almost anywhere. Due to the nature of the issues, discussions are often fraught with emotion, ideological baggage, worldview and religious beliefs and so it is often remarkably difficult to get to the truth behind the matters at hand. These questions are so important and attract such passion because they are to do with our own history, nature and origin. As philosopher and mathematician David Berlinski notes ‘There is a wide appreciation of the fact that if biologists are wrong about Darwin, they are wrong about life…’2 They are also important because science is one of the most successful and powerful cultural authorities, and theories firmly held to be true within the scientific community often have a huge influence on how everybody else views the world.

It is true to say that Neo-Darwinism ‘The synthesis of Darwin’s original theory with Mendelian genetics…’3, is zealously affirmed by the majority of those within the scientific community. Biological complexity, they claim, has evolved by natural selection acting upon random/chance genetic mutations, producing descent with modification. Neo-Darwinian theory can be expressed simply in the following way:

RV + NS –> DWM

These are purely non-teleological unguided mechanisms and so it is argued that Neo-Darwinism is sufficient to explain the diversification of all biological life without reference to any creative intelligence. The theory is said to be strongly supported by several different lines of evidence which ‘Taken together…converge to provide a mutually supporting evidential framework.’4, and although the theory has been voluptuously embraced by the majority of the scientific community, it has been rejected with contempt and disdain by many people ever since it was first proposed.

Amongst Darwin dissenters are Creationists who mistakenly oppose it based on their particular literalistic interpretation of the Genesis account of creation. On the other hand many committed atheists attempt to surreptitiously foist a metaphysically naturalistic philosophy onto the theory. Since the majority of the human race is religious in some sense, no wonder it’s opposed and disbelieved by so many! Despite all this it is vital to note that ‘There is an important difference between the biological theory of evolution and the various philosophies that people have tried to derive from it…’5 Neo-Darwinism, if true, would not in any way imply atheism as there are many independent reasons to think that it is false. Also it seems that it is perfectly possible to reconcile scripture with the theory of evolution as Christians are open to a wide variety of interpretations, allowing them to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Science is not in a perpetual conflict with Christianity. The more fundamental question is whether or not Neo-Darwinism is true. I myself do not think so. Being a committed Christian, I used to be a tentative theistic evolutionist but against my will I have recently been persuaded to join another party.

As I have mentioned, the clash between creationism and evolution has a long and turbulent history, but in the last couple of decades the Neo-Darwinian paradigm has been challenged by another voice. This challenge has come from the Intelligent Design movement. They are a small but growing number of scientists and academics from various fields, who believe strongly that Neo-Darwinian theory is inadequate to explain certain physical features within the universe. They also believe that there is positive, scientifically detectable evidence that some form of intelligent agency is involved. Being a born again Darwinian, Richard Dawkins, along with most other evolutionary biologists, affirm that biology is ‘The study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed.’6 The appearance of design being entirely illusory. In contrast, ID theorists believe that ‘…real design exists in nature and is empirically detectable by the methods of science’7 (emphasis added). Philosopher Peter S. Williams succinctly summarizes the core claim of ID theory as claiming that ‘empirical evidence warrants a scientific design inference using reliable design detection criteria.’8

ID advocates claim that to recognise something as having been designed, it needs to exhibit both complexity and specificity. Design theorist William A. Dembski has defended this design detection criteria at length and it is known as “specified complexity”, also referred to as “complex specified information” (CSI). This criterion tells us that ‘Neither complexity without specificity nor specificity without complexity compels us to infer design’9, but a combination of both does. It is important to note that ‘Design detection is used in a number of scientific fields, including anthropology, forensic sciences that seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, cryptanalysis and the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI)’10, and thus design detection is already used in other scientific circles. Once the design detection criteria is applied to particular features in the universe, design theorists argue that intelligent design can be shown in several areas within nature (this is a point that’s often forgotten by many critics). Proposed areas that claim to exhibit signs of intelligent causation are the information rich structures found in DNA, irreducibly complex bio-molecular machines, the Cambrian explosion, the fine-tuning of our solar system and local habitat, and the fine-tuning of the initial conditions of the universe for the development of carbon based life. Design inferences tend to be more controversial in the area of biology because they suggest that there are certain features that cannot be explained by purely Darwinian processes.

Although the ID movement is growing, it is true to say that the majority of the mainstream scientific community do not accept it. In fact, to say this would be an understatement. There are many people who hold ID theory in such withering contempt, that it probably makes their blood pressure rise to triple digits when they discuss it. Witness chemist Peter Atkins in his remarkably apoplectic review of biochemist Michael Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box:

‘Dr Behe waves his magic wand, discards the scientific method, and launches into his philosopher’s stone of universal explanation: it was all designed. Presenting this silly, lazy, ignorant, and intellectually abominable view — essentially discarding reason and invoking that first resort of the intellectually challenged (that is, God).’11

Vacuous objurgations such as these are often hurled by many scientists who oppose ID and it often prompts a lapse from the well-ordered decencies of academia. As the controversial movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed revealed, opposition amongst the scientific ‘elite’ is often so vociferous that many people who have expressed support for ID, have been ostracized and ‘expelled’ from academia, several supporters losing their jobs.12 As well as provoking indignation amongst many atheistic scientists, it also frustrates many theistic evolutionists and Creationists. Theistic evolutionist Denis Alexander claims that ‘it fails to meet the most basic criteria of scientific theorising and practice.’13 whilst biologist and Catholic Kenneth Miller, one of ID’s most vehement critics, argues that ‘…design is built upon a stunning lack of curiosity and a remarkable unwillingness to embrace scientific discovery. Design rests ultimately on the claim of ignorance…’14 Critics claim incessantly that ID theory is merely a form of “stealth creationism”, that ‘Not a single paper espousing creationism or intelligent design has ever been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.’15, and that all of the claims made by ID theorists have been refuted or are devoid of any content.

As mentioned, despite all the controversy and often vituperative debate that this topic provokes, these questions remain at once profound, fascinating and important. As a committed Christian, I used to hold the position of theist evolution but have gradually been persuaded that the Neo-Darwinian synthesis is deficient and that the ID theorists are correct. I think that ID is too often misrepresented, misunderstood and its various criticisms are largely without merit. I also affirm that it is a legitimate scientific theory. My good friend Francis is also a committed Christian but holds to a theistic evolutionary view and so on this issue we are in disagreement. Because we are both fascinated with questions such as these, we have decided to initiate a respectful written dialogue, all of which will gradually be published on both our blogs. It should be said that neither of us are scientists or are formally qualified in the areas pertinent to the issues, but we will attempt to responsibly present research and substantial and informed argumentation. We both hope that readers will find the discussion edifying, thought provoking, and helpful.

References

    1. Brief Amici Curiae of Phys., Scientists, and Historians of Sci. in Support of Petitioners, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., at 2–6, 509 U.S. 579 (1993) (No. 92–102).
    2. David Berlinski. The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions. (United states: Basic Books. 2009). p.186.
    3. Graeme Finlay. Stephen Lloyd. Stephen Pattemore. David Swift. Debating Darwin: Two Debates: Is Darwinism True & Does it Matter? (Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press. 2009). p.X.
    4. ibid. p.131.
    5. Dennis Alexander. Robert S. White. Beyond Belief: Science, Faith and Ethical Challenges. (Oxford: Lion Hudson. 2004). p.106.
    6. Richard Dawkins. The Blind Watchmaker. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 1986). p. 1.
    7. Marcus R. Ross. Intelligent Design and Young Earth Creationism: Investigating Nested Hierarchies of Philosophy and Belief. (2003) Available at: http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2003AM/finalprogram/abstract_58668.htm
    8. Peter S. Williams. The Design Inference from Specified Complexity Defended by Scholars Outside the Intelligent Design Movement: A Critical Review. Philosophia Christi (Vol. 9, Issue 2, 2007). Available at: http://epsociety.org/library/articles.asp?pid=54
    9. Williams. The Design Inference from Specified Complexity Defended by Scholars Outside the Intelligent Design Movement: A Critical Review. Op.cit.
    10. Uncommon Descent. ID Defined. Available at: http://www.uncommondescent.com/id-defined/. (Accessed 25th August 2011).
    11. The Secular Web. 1998. Peter Atkins Review of Darwin’s Black Box. Available at: http: < http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/peter_atkins/behe.html>. (Accessed 25th August 2011).
    12. Cf. Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Premise Media/Vivendi Entertainment, 2008).
    13. Denis Alexander. ‘Designs on Science’. Available at: < http://www.bethinking.org/resource.php?ID=260&TopicID=2&CategoryID=1>. (Accessed 26th August 2011).
    14. Kenneth Miller. Only a theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul. (Viking Penguin: New York. 2008). p.87
    15. Charles Foster. The Selfless Gene: Living With God and Darwin. (Hodder & Stoughton: London. 2009) p. xiv.
  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

73 Responses to Debating Darwin and Design: A Dialogue Between Two Christians

  1. Two questions, Joshua:

    1) It seems that you use ‘Neo-Darwinian’ and ‘Neo-Darwinism’ interchangeably. Do you conflate ‘Neo-Darwinian’ with ‘Neo-Darwinism’ or do you distinguish them between a scientific theory and an ideology? If you distinguish them, then what is the difference between Neo-Darwinian evolution or Neo-Darwinian Synthesis (e.g. J. Huxley, T. Dobzhansky and R. Fisher) and Neo-Darwinism?

    2) You say you think “ID theorists are correct.” Do you think ID theory is ‘scientific’? If so, in which fields is it ‘scientific’? Please be specific and exhaustive. Is ID theory ‘scientific’ in *every* field that is ‘scientific’ or just in some scientific fields?

  2. Thanks for posting this. This looks like it will be a good and productive exchange.

    Sal

  3. Joshua,

    You’re opponent is making some bald assertions. Your arguement will be more pointed if you quote authorities on their side a bit more.

    Francis opens with numerous bald assertions about evolution

    Second, we can assume for the sake of argument that common descent is true, it doesn’t mean the mechanisms of evolutionism have been elucidated.

    So just for fun, I’ll pretend that I’m debating Francis. My opening statement.

    “In sciences pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics.” — Jerry Coyne

    Darwin himself said:

    One cannot look at this Universe with all living productions & man without believing that all has been intelligently designed

    but then he goes on to say in the very next phrase:

    yet when I look to each individual organism, I can see no evidence of this.

    So in Darwin’s mind on a large scale the universe suggest intelligent design, but in his examination of individual organism he fails to see it. Part of the problem is that in his day he had insufficient access to see the ubiquitous complex machines that are pervasive in biology.

    If one can overturn Darwin’s own view of the supposed lack of design in biology, and then further demonstrate the difficulty that Darwinian mechanism face in constructing such Design’s, then it would seem reasonable, that by Darwin’s own words:

    One cannot look at this Universe with all living productions & man without believing that all has been intelligently designed

    The problem is that arguments supporting Darwian mechanisms full of circular reasonings and non-sequiturs. For example, in many cases it is evident Natural Selection is an agency that would hinder change rather than facilitate it. Gould famously articulated the problem of Irreducible Complexity this way: “what good is half a wing?”

    Worse, arguments that favor Darwinian evolution go like this: If we remove this trait the organism and it descendants dies out of the population, therefore natural selection created that feature. But this is a gross non-sequitur.

    Let us take the example of modern day genetically engineered organisms. Let us suppose we endowed it with capabilities that cause it to dominate and eventually eradicate its competitors in a population. If we applied Darwinian “logic” to this example whereby we later remove this genetically engineered trait from some individuals and see that it becomes reproductively disadvantaged, would we concluded that the trait (which was engineered by man) was the product of natural selection. According to Darwinian “logic” we would, but we, being the intelligent designers know otherwise. Hence the supposed “proof” of natural selection by pointing to disadvantaged traits as evidence those traits emerged via natural selection is flawed logic times 10!

    And this problem arises even without supposing there is intelligent design. Another evolutionary or developmental mechanism, could in principle fortuitiously construct a trait that gives an organism and its offspring superior advantage. An example is the evolution of Chlorquine resistance in malaria carrying insects. The intermediate stages are acutally selected against or are neutral. Pure random chance rather than natural selection is a better explanation for the emergence of the trait, natural seleciton only explains the fixation of the trait not the emergence of the trait. As one biologist put it, natural seleciton explains the survival of the fittest, not the arrival of the fittest.

    And it should be noted, the idea of natural selection was pioneered by Creationists like Blyth. Esteemed scientists like Loren Eisely believe Darwin plagiarized much of the Blyths work…..

    Evolutionism doesn’t deserve a place at the table with other science. That’s not to say the ID does either, but the question is not whether ID is scientific or not, the question is whether it is a more adequate explanation for the features of life and the universe.

  4. correction:

    Chloroquine resistance evolves in the malaria strains not the instects.

  5. 5
    sagebrush gardener

    Joshua G said:

    There are many people who hold ID theory in such withering contempt, that it probably makes their blood pressure rise to triple digits when they discuss it.

    Normal systolic blood pressure is in the range of 90-120, so one’s blood pressure does not “rise to triple digits” unless it was rather low to begin with. I don’t think this was the meaning you intended.

  6. Off topic, but it appears we’ve won the junk DNA debate once and for all. Phase 2 of the ENCODE Project was published today:

    “These data enabled us to assign biochemical functions for 80% of the genome, in particular outside of the well-studied protein-coding regions.”

  7. Sorry JoeCoder, the paper obvioulsy wrong. Nice try though… :roll:

    :)

  8. Nice link JoeCoder! :)

  9. I wonder if PZ Myers, Francis Collins, Venema, Ayala, Avise, etc.. will be humble enough to publicly admit, as best they can, they were wrong to all the people they misled about there being +50% junk DNA??? ,,,

  10. JoeCoder and Joe, here is a related article:

    Scientists debunk ‘junk DNA’ theory to reveal vast majority of human genes perform a vital function – September 5, 2012
    Excerpt: Scientists have once and for all swept away any notion of “junk DNA” by showing that that the vast majority of the human genome does after all have a vital function by regulating the genes that build and maintain the body.
    Junk DNA was a term coined 40 years ago to describe the part of the genome that does not contain any genes, the individual instructions for making the body’s vital proteins. Now, this vast genetic landscape could hold hidden clues to eradicating human disease, scientists said.
    Hundreds of researchers from 32 institutes around the world collaborated on the immense effort to decipher the hidden messages within the 98 per cent of the human genome without any genes and was thought, therefore, to have no function.
    They have concluded in a series of 30 research papers published simultaneously today, in Nature, Science and other journals, that this so-called junk DNA is in fact an elaborate patchwork of regulatory sequences that act as a huge operating system for controlling the genome.,,,
    Deciphering the human genome revealed that less than 2 per cent of the 3 billion building blocks of human DNA actually consists of working genes. The ENCODE consortium has shown that the rest of the genome still has an active, biochemical function in the cells of the body.
    “We see that 80 per cent of the genome is actively doing something. We found that a much bigger part of the genome – a surprising amount in fact – is involved in controlling when and where proteins are produced,” he said.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....06777.html

  11. I think kudos is in order to ID for correctly predicting this but there’s 20% that’s still “junk”. Evolutionists can still hold on to that term as proof , can’t they? Also, ID takes credit for this prediction but shouldn’t evolution take credit for correctly predicting the fusion of chromosome 2?

  12. No, there’s 20% that we don’t know what it does, and it’s very difficult to tell that a given stretch of DNA provides no function. From Pseudogenes and Their Evolution, Encyclopedia of Life Sciences, 2010:

    in practice, it is virtually impossible to experimentally establish nonfunctionality; the lack of any observable phenotypic effect upon the deletion of a putative pseudogene does not necessarily mean that the deletion has no phenotypic effect, because the effect may be too subtle to observe. When more and more research groups are coming across cases where a so-called pseudogene is potentially involved in a meaningful biological interaction, primarily in gene regulation (Tam et al., 2008; Watanabe et al., 2008), it becomes increasingly difficult to define pseudogenes.

    They’re talking about pseudogenes, but I see no reason to suspect it any easier with other types of non-coding DNA.

    JLAfan2001 wrote:

    shouldn’t evolution take credit for correctly predicting the fusion of chromosome 2?

    I suppose so, unless someone else has a counter-argument? But the fusion no more proves shared primate descent true than the lack of junk DNA proves it false.

  13. Off-topic but awesome: Junk DNA debunked:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....ml?hpid=z3

  14. JoeCoder you are much too modest:

    Here is a good summary by JoeCoder of exactly why the chromosome 2 argument fails
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-431951

    further notes debunking Chromosome 2 argument:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1enllGchcY4Thz0xWFG8Rj8Y0bddOcBdIzKeoY1XxSqs/edit

    As well JLAfan2001, I seriously, if I were you, would not place any of my money on the remaining 20% being found to be non-functional Junk as you seem to be so anxious to do:

    What Is The Genome? It’s Certainly Not Junk! – Dr. Robert Carter – video – (Notes in video description)
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8905583

    Multidimensional Genome – Dr. Robert Carter – video (Notes in video description)
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8905048

    The Extreme Complexity Of Genes – Dr. Raymond G. Bohlin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/8593991/

    The Mysterious Epigenome. What lies beyond DNA – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpXs8uShFMo

  15. Of Related note: The information density found in DNA is many orders of magnitude greater than anything man has yet designed in computer memory:

    Harvard cracks DNA storage, crams 700 terabytes of data into a single gram – Sebastian Anthony – August 17, 2012
    Excerpt: A bioengineer and geneticist at Harvard’s Wyss Institute have successfully stored 5.5 petabits of data — around 700 terabytes — in a single gram of DNA, smashing the previous DNA data density record by a thousand times.,,, Just think about it for a moment: One gram of DNA can store 700 terabytes of data. That’s 14,000 50-gigabyte Blu-ray discs… in a droplet of DNA that would fit on the tip of your pinky. To store the same kind of data on hard drives — the densest storage medium in use today — you’d need 233 3TB drives, weighing a total of 151 kilos. In Church and Kosuri’s case, they have successfully stored around 700 kilobytes of data in DNA — Church’s latest book, in fact — and proceeded to make 70 billion copies (which they claim, jokingly, makes it the best-selling book of all time!) totaling 44 petabytes of data stored.
    http://www.extremetech.com/ext.....ingle-gram

    Information Storage in DNA by Wyss Institute – video
    https://vimeo.com/47615970

    DNA Stores Data More Efficiently than Anything We’ve Created – Casey Luskin – August 29, 2012
    Excerpt: Nothing made by humans can approach these kind of specs. Who would have thought that DNA can store data more efficiently than anything we’ve created. But DNA wasn’t designed — right?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....63701.html

    3-D Structure Of Human Genome: Fractal Globule Architecture Packs Two Meters Of DNA Into Each Cell – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: the information density in the nucleus is trillions of times higher than on a computer chip — while avoiding the knots and tangles that might interfere with the cell’s ability to read its own genome. Moreover, the DNA can easily unfold and refold during gene activation, gene repression, and cell replication.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142957.htm

    Biochemical Turing Machines “Reboot” the Watchmaker Argument – Fazale Rana – July 2012
    Excerpt: Researchers recognize several advantages to DNA computers.(7) One is the ability to perform a massive number of operations at the same time (in parallel) as opposed to one at a time (serially) as demanded by silicon-based computers. Secondly, DNA has the capacity to store an enormous quantity of information. One gram of DNA can house as much information as nearly 1 trillion CDs. And a third benefit is that DNA computing operates near the theoretical capacity with regard to energy efficiency.
    http://stevebrownetc.com/2012/.....-argument/

    For comparison sake the following, is the extremely meager result that man has accomplished using all his brain power trying to get purely material processes to generate DNA/RNA molecules:

    Scientists Say Intelligent Designer Needed for Origin of Life Chemistry
    Excerpt: Organic chemist Dr. Charles Garner recently noted in private correspondence that “while this work helps one imagine how RNA might form, it does nothing to address the information content of RNA. So, yes, there was a lot of guidance by an intelligent chemist.” Sutherland’s research produced only 2 of the 4 RNA nucleobases, and Dr. Garner also explained why, as is often the case, “the basic chemistry itself also required the hand of an intelligent chemist.” http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....t_des.html

    Stirring the Soup – May 2009
    “essentially, the scientists have succeeded in creating a couple of letters of the biological alphabet (in a “thermodynamically uphill” environment). What they need to do now is create the remaining letters, and then show how these letters were able to attach themselves together to form long chains of RNA, and arrange themselves in a specific order to encode information for creating specific proteins, and instructions to assemble the proteins into cells, tissues, organs, systems, and finally, complete phenotypes.”
    Uncommon Descent – C Bass:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com...../#comments

    Origin of Life: Claiming Something for Almost Nothing
    Excerpt: A press release from the University of Colorado advertised a paper by Michael Yarus and team in PNAS.1 The team, funded by a $415,610 grant from the National Institutes of Health, concocted a “Tiny RNA Molecule With Big Implications for the Origin of Life.” It’s the smallest ribozyme yet, with only five nucleotides, and it is able to “catalyze a key reaction that would be needed to synthesize proteins.” Tom Blumenthal, a colleague working with Yarus, said, “Nobody expected an RNA molecule this small and simple to be able to do such a complicated thing as that.” By implication, this ribozyme could have been a stepping stone on the way to larger and more complex molecules of life.
    Yarus has been a strong proponent of the “RNA World” hypothesis. The team’s findings argue that RNA enzymes (ribozymes) did not have to be as complex at first to have a function. He said, “If there exists that kind of mini-catalyst, a ‘sister’ to the one we describe, the world of the replicators would also jump a long step closer and we could really feel we were closing in on the first things on Earth that could undergo Darwinian evolution.” He refers to the fact that Darwinian evolution by natural selection cannot be invoked till there is a replicator – a system able to duplicate its parts accurately. Yarus admitted, “the tiny replicator has not been found, and that its existence will be decided by experiments not yet done, perhaps not yet imagined.”
    But does this work support a naturalistic origin of life? A key question is whether the molecule would form under plausible prebiotic conditions. Here’s how the paper described their work in the lab to get this molecule:

    RNA was synthesized by Dharmacon. GUGGC = 5’-GUGGC-30 ; GCCU – 5’P-GCCU-3’ ; 5’OH-GCCU = 5’-GCCU-3’ ; GCCU20dU = 5’-GCC-2’-dU; GCC = 5’-GCC-3’ ; dGdCdCrU = 5’-dGdCdCU-3’ . RNA GCC3’dU was prepared by first synthesizing 5’-O-(4,4’- Dimethoxytrityl)3’-deoxyuridine as follows: 3’-deoxyuridine (MP Biomedicals; 991 mg, 0.434 mmol) was dissolved in 5 mL anhydrous pyridine and pyridine was then removed under vacuum while stirring. Solid was then redissolved in 2 mL pyridine. Dimethoxytrityl chloride (170 mg, 0.499 mmol) was dissolved in 12 mL pyridine and slowly added to 3’-deoxyuridine solution. Solution was stirred at room temperature for 4 h. All solutions were sequestered from exposure to air throughout.
    Reaction was then quenched by addition of 5 mL methanol, and solvent was removed by rotary evaporation. Remaining solvent evaporated overnight in a vacuum chamber. Product was then dissolved in 1 mL acetonitrile and purified through a silica column (acetonitrile elution). Final product fractions (confirmed through TLC, 1.1 hexane:acetonitrile) were pooled and rotary evaporated. Yield was 71%. Dimethoxytrityl-protected 30dU was then sent to Dharmacon for immobilization of 30-dU on glass and synthesis of 5’-GCC-3’-dU.
    PheAMP, PheUMP, and MetAMP were synthesized by the method of Berg (25) with modifications and purification as described in ref. 6. Yield was as follows: PheAMP 85%, PheUMP 67%, and MetAMP 36%.

    Even more purification and isolation steps under controlled conditions, using multiple solvents at various temperatures, were needed to prevent cross-reactions. It is doubtful such complex lab procedures have analogues in nature.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100302a

  16. Thanks Colin…

    Off-topic but awesome2: Junk DNA debunked:
    Here is a video from Channel 4 news (UK).

    Scientists go deeper into DNA (Video report)
    http://bcove.me/26vjjl5a

  17. Junk No More: ENCODE Project Nature Paper Finds “Biochemical Functions for 80% of the Genome” – Casey Luskin September 5, 2012
    Excerpt: The Discover Magazine article further explains that the rest of the 20% of the genome is likely to have function as well:
    “And what’s in the remaining 20 percent? Possibly not junk either, according to Ewan Birney, the project’s Lead Analysis Coordinator and self-described “cat-herder-in-chief”. He explains that ENCODE only (!) looked at 147 types of cells, and the human body has a few thousand. A given part of the genome might control a gene in one cell type, but not others. If every cell is included, functions may emerge for the phantom proportion. “It’s likely that 80 percent will go to 100 percent,” says Birney. “We don’t really have any large chunks of redundant DNA. This metaphor of junk isn’t that useful.”"
    We will have more to say about this blockbuster paper from ENCODE researchers in coming days, but for now, let’s simply observe that it provides a stunning vindication of the prediction of intelligent design that the genome will turn out to have mass functionality for so-called “junk” DNA. ENCODE researchers use words like “surprising” or “unprecedented.” They talk about of how “human DNA is a lot more active than we expected.” But under an intelligent design paradigm, none of this is surprising. In fact, it is exactly what ID predicted.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....64001.html

  18. Possible “onion test” solution-

    onion test:

    The onion test is a simple reality check for anyone who thinks they have come up with a universal function for non-coding DNA. Whatever your proposed function, ask yourself this question: Can I explain why an onion needs about five times more non-coding DNA for this function than a human?

    Further, if you think perhaps onions are somehow special, consider that members of the genus Allium range in genome size from 7 pg to 31.5 pg. So why can A. altyncolicum make do with one fifth as much regulation, structural maintenance, protection against mutagens, or [insert preferred universal function] as A. ursinum?

    Why do older computers contain more parts than their modern counterparts? Why are older computer codes longer and more cumbersome than their modern counterparts?

    The point is some designs just require more parts. Multiple designers or one designer trying new/ different things.

    For example think of how large our genome would have to be if it wasn’t for alternative (gene) splicing allowing for more proteins than there are genes. A genome without that functionality would need more DNA for those gene products that cannot be manufactured via alternative splicing.

    Or even, as another pro-ID blogger put it:

    What could some onion “junk” DNA be used for? Well, unlike humans, onions can’t control their environment or move away from it. Onions have no choice but to adapt. It could be that onions were designed with a lot of adaptive capacitance allowing its descendents to change into different kinds of onions that could thrive in many different environments. Deletion of DNA used for adaptive capacitance could then still easily result in a viable onion. It would be an onion with less adaptive capacitance than the original but still able to produce offspring that could thrive in the current environment. Multiple lines of deletion of DNA used for adaptive capacitance could also result in speciation and account for the various DNA sizes for different species of onion.

    The idea of adaptive capacitance is hardly far-fetched. We already know that stem cells change into other types of cells even though most of the cell types that derive from stem cells have the same DNA coding. In fact, this hypothesis that some non-coding DNA may serve as adaptive capacitance has already been unwittingly tested at least once. PZ Myers describes the experiment in his blog here. To summarize, the experiment involved moving 10 lizards out of their environment to the tiny island of Pod Mrcaru. After only 36 years these lizards changed into a different kind of lizard. There were changes to their skulls, limbs and even personality. Even more remarkable is the fact that their digestive system “evolved” cecal valves allowing them to digest a broader range of plant material. It’s just plain silly to think that this could be the result random mutation and natural selection over the course of just 36 years (could someone please do the math). This could only happen if previously existing information in the collective genomes of these lizards was selected in response to the environment.

  19. Here in TN, they have taken steps though new legislation to allow creationism back into the classroom. This law turns the clock back nearly 100 years here in the seemingly unprogressive South and is simply embarrassing. There is no argument against the Theory of Evolution other than that of religious doctrine. The Monkey Law only opens the door for fanatic Christianity to creep its way back into our classrooms. You can see my visual response as a Tennessean to this absurd law on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.....da-in.html with some evolutionary art and a little bit of simple logic.

  20. 21
    CentralScrutinizer

    “There is no argument against the Theory of Evolution other than that of religious doctrine.”

    Nonsense. Show me how random mutations + natural selection was responsible for the development of any novel cell type, tissue type, organ or body plan. Please provide a blow by blow, gap free account. Thank you.

    P.S. I’m not religious.

  21. Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role – September 2012
    Excerpt: The system, though, is stunningly complex, with many redundancies. Just the idea of so many switches was almost incomprehensible, Dr. Bernstein said.
    There also is a sort of DNA wiring system that is almost inconceivably intricate.
    “It is like opening a wiring closet and seeing a hairball of wires,” said Mark Gerstein, an Encode researcher from Yale. “We tried to unravel this hairball and make it interpretable.”
    There is another sort of hairball as well: the complex three-dimensional structure of DNA. Human DNA is such a long strand — about 10 feet of DNA stuffed into a microscopic nucleus of a cell — that it fits only because it is tightly wound and coiled around itself. When they looked at the three-dimensional structure — the hairball — Encode researchers discovered that small segments of dark-matter DNA are often quite close to genes they control. In the past, when they analyzed only the uncoiled length of DNA, those controlling regions appeared to be far from the genes they affect.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09.....wanted=all

  22. The more fundamental question is whether or not Neo-Darwinism is true.

    No, that is not an important question at all.

    What matters for a scientific theory, is whether it is useful as a guide to further research. The evidence strongly suggests that neo-Darwinism has been useful and continues to be useful, regardless of whether it is true.

    As best I can tell, ID is unlikely to be at all useful to further research in biology, even if it turns out to be true.

    My own personal view: A scientific theory is neither true nor false. And that’s because a scientific theory is not a description of the world. Rather, it is a system of practices and standards to be followed by the scientists in their research.

    I’ll illustrate this with the example of heliocentrism. It makes no sense to say that heliocentrism is true. Einstein taught us that there is no such thing as absolute motion; there is only relative motion. If we want a true statement about the sun and earth, we should say that both are hurtling through the cosmos in intertwining paths. What heliocentrism gives us, is a standardized way of making observations and of interpreting observations. And that is part of what makes it more useful than the true statement about intertwining paths.

    By the way, I have bookmarked the blogs of you and your opponent, where you have been having this debate. I’ll spend some time looking through the argument. I’ve read the intros, and they promise a good discussion. So thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  23. Francis Smallwood: The statement that ‘life has evolved’ is uncontroversial (at least it should be!) and accepted by me and Joshua, although perhaps to slightly different degrees. So it is not a debate over evolution, as such, but a debate over causal mechanisms.

    Imagine that; two Christians who accept the MAIN CLAIM of Darwinism (= Materialism)!

    “But I had gradually come, by this time [1837-1838], to see that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rainbow as a sign, etc., etc., and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian” (Darwin, Autobio: 85).

    Darwin rejected the Bible during the same two years in which he “clearly conceived” his fully material theory of evolution (Darwin, Autobio: 124).

    In short, our two “Christians” are standing with closet Atheist Charles Darwin and fanatical Atheist Richard Dawkins.

    *****

    Their “debate” presupposes the truth of evolution and the only thing up for grabs is how evolution occurs!

    Imagine that; an alleged IDist accepts the MAIN CLAIM of his sworn enemy (Darwinism)!

    Are we to believe Joshua Gidney does NOT know that evolution was accepted as fully material and unintelligent?—that there is no such thing as “Intelligent evolution”?
    If Intelligence is involved with biological production then no effect can be described as having evolved. Effects must be described in terms supporting teleology, like design.

    Why must an IDist be told these 101 facts?

    Answer: Because our “IDist” is really an Evolutionist, and an ignorant one at that. We should not be viewed as attacking poor Joshua Gidney; for his position is Dembski’s position undoubtedly. Are we to believe the super-educated William Dembski does not know that effects cannot be called evolutionary if caused by Intelligence?

    Since Dembski has spoken up for evolution the issue is moot. He now must defend the “logic” of “Intelligence created unintelligent process.”

    And if the process is not unintelligent why call it evolution? One cannot have it both ways since evolution is inextricably associated with unintelligence.

    Ray Martinez (Old Earth, Paleyan IDist-species immutabilist)

  24. As best I can tell, ID is unlikely to be at all useful to further research in biology, even if it turns out to be true.

    That is a valid concern, but consider this — if we are de-evolving, losing complexity and getting sicker, etc., that has medical significance. It may well be that real evolution is loss of integrated complexity, not acquisition of it. This has implications for understanding the human condition and eco systems.

    Secondly, if steganography is true, it will enable biolgoical understanding and medical science in ways we never dreamed. See:
    How IDists can win the war

  25. @dregstudios

    First time I’ve seen you here, so welcome to UD :) I’d like to oppose your claim:

    There is no argument against the Theory of Evolution other than that of religious doctrine.

    Evolution could not produce a human from a chimp-like ancestor in periods even much longer than 6m years. Take HIV and p. falciparum (common human malaria), two examples from Michael Behe’s book, Edge of Evolution. Due to their short generation times and staggering populations, in the last several decades, each have had around a million times more selection and mutation events than humans would’ve had since a chimp divergence. Yet they’ve each developed 1 and 0 new protein-protein binding sites, respectively, and HIV has had a duplicated a gene. Other microbes have also shown remarkable little evolution over similarly vast and rapidly reproducing populations. But in the same time, humans would have needed to develop around 280 -1400 proteins of novel function (depending on which study you read and how “novel” is defined) through processes of duplications, fusions, de novo from junk DNA, and some without homologs at all.

    Give a million times less opportunity, hominins would have had to evolve a thousand times faster. Evolution is a billion times too slow. But even that’s too conservative, since:

    1. Sexual recombination slows macroevolution, (summary)
    2. Epigenetic changes that form gene networks add another layer of complexity not accounted for here, causing the road from micro to macro to be logarithmic, not linear.
    3. Some microbes show similarly little-to-no evolution over not just dozens, but millions of years.
    4. Our high mutation rate of 30-60 SNP’s gives the fittest members of every primate population (including humans) multiple deleterious mutations (most slightly, like rust on a car), causing a net decrease in fitness every generation. Yet beneficials take thousands of years to appear and fixate. Evolution is one step forward, two thousand backward.

    If you need me to, I can provide more details or sources for any of these claims. As it is, I’m trying to avoid spamming the thread.

  26. Ray Martinez:

    Still beating the same creationist drum, I see.

    It’s been explained to you maybe 50 times that “evolution” and “Darwinism” aren’t the same thing, but you persist in identifying them.

    Your statements about “evolution” necessarily excluding intelligent causes are simply false. Philosophically false, and historically false. You have not studied the history of the term “evolution.” (Or at least, you have relied on intellectually poor creationist sources, instead of serious academic sources.) Originally “evolution” was in fact a *teleological* concept, and when Darwin came along, he *avoided* using the term “evolution” for a long time precisely for that reason. The word “evolved” occurs only once in *The Origin of Species*, and only at the end. Later Darwin acceded to the usage that became common, the usage that identified his theory as a theory of “evolution”; and later still, people started speaking of “*the* theory of evolution” as if it were identical with “Darwinism” — which it never was. You can read a good academic account of all this in Gilson’s book on Aristotle and Darwin.

    There have been many theories of what in Darwin’s day and later was often called “transformism” — the view that some species have changed into other species. Each theory offers its own scientific or metaphysical “mechanism” by which such changes could occur. Darwin offered one view — the main agent of change was natural selection acting on heritable variation. Others offered other views. Lamarck, Bergson, etc. You clearly have not studied the very wide range of evolutionary views, and have wrongly identified “evolution” with “Darwinism.” This indicates to me that your reading comes largely from popular rather than scholarly sources.

    None of your quotations from Darwin prove what you are trying to prove from them. That Darwin did not believe the stories of the Old Testament were true does not make him a materialist. Certainly he was a “naturalist” — thought that the origin of species could be explained wholly by natural causes, given a universe operating by natural laws (which he as often as not supposed to have been established by God). He may also, at some points in his life, have been nearly a “materialist” — holding the belief that nothing other than matter exists, not even God. But in his biology he never argued from materialism as a philosophical position. His work presupposes only the more modest claim of naturalism, i.e., that if there is a God, he never operates except through the natural causes that he has ordained.

    There is only one point in your diatribe that is valid. It is wrong simply to “assume” the existence of a macroevolutionary process, as Francis Smallwood does. There is circumstantial evidence for such a process, but it is not so firmly established that it can be taken as a simple fact. But the arguments against such a process must come from science, not from the Bible — that is, if you are going to claim that macroevolution is bad *science* (as opposed to bad theology). So raving about how Darwin rejected the Old Testament accomplishes nothing. You have to show why the circumstantial evidence that seems to point to evolution is counteracted by biological, geological, and other data, and why evolution is not the most parsimonious explanation of the data.

  27. Neil Rickert:

    In your divorce of science from truth, you are representing one particular position within the philosophy of science, as if there are no others.

    But even if we accept your narrow understanding of science, it still does not follow that non-scientific questions are unimportant. They might be very important. The question whether or not neo-Darwinism is true is quite important philosophically and theologically.

    And of course, you remarks overlook the fact that, even under your model of science, while no theory can ever be proved true, some observations can prove certain theories false. It is imaginable that neo-Darwinian theory could be proved false — i.e., that it could be shown that random mutations plus natural selection could not deliver the goods.

    And in fact, some theories have been proved true. William Harvey’s theory about the circulation of the blood was for a long time merely one possible explanation of the data; it is now the only possible explanation of the data. The best word in English for that is “true.”

    As for whether ID can be useful as a heuristic in biology, see the writings of Steve Fuller. Historically, design notions have proved useful in every natural science; the contrary view, that everything originates in chance and blind natural laws, has been relatively useless. Newton and Boyle were animated by design thinking: they understood the universe as a planned and structured whole, whose laws were given by God.

    And of course, the recent blow to the “junk DNA” view indicates that design theory makes much more useful predictions than Darwinism does, so even on your narrow theory of what science is, ID is actually a better scientific approach.

  28. Neil Rickert:

    What matters for a scientific theory, is whether it is useful as a guide to further research. The evidence strongly suggests that neo-Darwinism has been useful and continues to be useful, regardless of whether it is true.

    No one uses it Neil- it is a useless heuristic. It doesn’t generate any predictions- so what good is it?

    As best I can tell, ID is unlikely to be at all useful to further research in biology, even if it turns out to be true.

    Yeah archaeology and forensics also have nothing to offer science. :roll:

  29. NR:

    Scientific theories must also reasonably be potential truth bearers. That is, in the end, we are interested to know the truth about the world. The notion that research can be guided is just one factor, if it is allowed to displace others, we can easily have ideological lock-up in a failed paradigm that has too much invested in it by power brokers to be allowed to fail.

    KF

  30. PS: re “It makes no sense to say that heliocentrism is true,” let us note that the barycentre of the orbits of the planets are within the sun. And, Mercury’s orbital drift that is a support to relativity, is premised on just that, orbiting the sun. Sorry, the frame of reference of the sun is a very valid one for addressing the motion of the planets, which orbit in near ellipses. Don’t forget the impact of Galileo’s direct observation of moons orbiting Jupiter.

  31. Timaeus#28:

    In your divorce of science from truth, you are representing one particular position within the philosophy of science, as if there are no others.

    Let me be clear here.

    I did not divorce science from truth. Indeed, truth is very important to science. My comment was specific to scientific theories. There’s a lot more to science than theories.

    And in fact, some theories have been proved true.

    It’s an unfortunate fact that the term “theory” is sometimes applied to what should be called an hypothesis. While I say that a theory is neither true nor false, I do not say that an hypothesis is true or false. The whole point of an hypothesis is to assert a tentative belief so that we can investigate whether it is true or false.

    It may well be that Darwin intended his ideas to be an hypothesis, and did not think of them as a scientific theory. However, they have become a theory because of the way that they are used, the way that they have become a very useful and productive guide to biological research.

  32. Joe#29:

    Yeah archaeology and forensics also have nothing to offer science.

    You seem to be disagreeing with something that I did not say.

    My comment was specifically about the usefulness of ID to research in biology. Yes, if ID is found to be true, that might have value in other parts of science, such as an anthropological study of the intelligent designers. What I am doubting, is that it would have any importance within biology.

  33. kairosfocus#30:

    Scientific theories must also reasonably be potential truth bearers.

    I agree with that. But a theory does not need to be true, in order to be a truth bearer.

    The English language is a truth bearer. We express a great many truths in English. Nevertheless we see the English language as neither true nor false. We apply assessments of truth to statements expressed in English. Similarly, we assess the truth of statements that are made under a scientific theory.

  34. Ok Neil, I will help you out- ID is as useful to biology as archaeology and forensics are to other physical sciences.

    Ya see, Neil, science asks three basic questions, one of which is “how did it come to be this way?”. IOW Neil, it matters to an investigation whether or not something was designed- you need to know that before you can understand it.

  35. For example say there is software, ie something other than matter and energy, inside living organisms. The only way we would even look for such a thing is under the design paradigm, and we would never find it under evolutionism because such a thing couldn’t exist under that paradigm.

    Next say there are limits to which genetic change can alter a population. Well THAT would also be nice to know in order to understand ourselves and the organisms we observe.

  36. Timaeus #27 “Still beating the same creationist drum, I see.

    It’s been explained to you maybe 50 times that “evolution” and “Darwinism” aren’t the same thing, but you persist in identifying them.”

    Discovery Institute propaganda.

    Darwinism and evolution are perfectly synonymous. Before 1859 species were considered immutable (Darwin 1859:6; London: Murray). Science accepted evolution as explicated by Darwin. It has never looked back since.

    Because the fact is SO basic, rudimentary and uncontested among scholars, this is why I say the Discovery Institute, as represented here by Timaeus, is engaged in propaganda. These “Christians” and “IDists” stand with Darwin and Dawkins, not science as it existed before the rise of evolution. This is why these persons deny, by assertion, Darwinism and evolution to not be synonymous—as if Darwinism is not about evolution!

    [snip more long-winded subjective, convoluted and non-referenced propaganda by D.I. apologist Timaeus....]

    RM (Old Earth Paleyan IDist-species immutabilist)

  37. Timaeus:

    Still beating the same creationist drum, I see.

    But species are immutable, within limits.

  38. Ray Martinez:

    I don’t work for the Discovery Institute. I’m a freelancer.

    Nor does Francis Smallwood, the person whose words you are criticizing. In fact, Francis Smallwood openly admits to *not* being an ID proponent, so why you would take his view as typical of the people here, or at Discovery, I have no idea.

    As for your historical remarks, you continue to publically embarrass yourself when you make them. Have you ever set foot inside a library? And if not, how would you know what is “uncontested among scholars”?

    As for references, I did provide one reference to cover several of the things that I said — Etienne Gilson’s book, from *Aristotle to Darwin and Back Again*. It’s recently been reprinted; you can buy it quite cheaply. But I don’t expect that you will read it. Your mind is already made up, and you don’t want to be confused by the facts.

    Ray, the reason you are not popular here is that you are a dogmatist. That difficulty could be overcome, however, if you were a dogmatist who was willing to learn. But you aren’t. You are still making the same errors you made when you first started posting about evolution on the internet, years ago. There has been no growth, no maturing of your thought. People give you corrections, and you repeat the same errors as if you had not heard them. People give you book recommendations, and you don’t read them. People tell you to go back to school and study these subjects, and you won’t.

    Ray, you want people to take your views seriously. There is an easy way to guarantee that they will do that. Learn the subject that you are talking about. If you do that, people will respect what you have to say. If you don’t, you will continue to be dismissed as a backwoods “fundy.” It’s your choice.

    Let’s put this to the test. I’ve told you about Gilson’s book. Now, suppose you withhold all further comments on this site until you have read that book. Suppose that after you have read the book, you post here again, with either (a) a scholarly refutation of Gilson’s historical remarks, citing other academic literature of similar quality to show where Gilson was wrong; or (b) a confession Gilson was right, and that you were wrong, about the history of evolutionary theory. If you were to do this, my respect for you would go up, and I would start to take you seriously as a conversation partner. The ball’s in your court.

  39. Etienne Gilson’s book, from *Aristotle to Darwin and Back Again*. It’s recently been reprinted; you can buy it quite cheaply.

    Great book.

  40. Mung:

    Whether species are immutable, within limits, is something that I don’t claim to have enough knowledge to pronounce upon.

    I certainly agree that one could never get macroevolution if the only mechanism operating is the Darwinian. But that doesn’t mean that macroevolution didn’t happen. It just means that, if it happened, something else was driving it — possibly other natural mechanisms, or possibly God.

    Ray, as his past posts here and elsewhere show, is committed, for a priori religious reasons, and in advance of reading any scientific research, to the view that macroevolution did not happen. Thus, he is not against just Darwinism, but against any formulation of macroevolution. And that’s his right, to be against macroevolution if he wishes. But it’s not his right to peddle historical ignorance. It’s socially irresponsible to do so. I’ve challenged him to stop being socially irresponsible, and acquire learning before he speaks. We’ll see if he does.

  41. Timaeus,

    My comment about species being immutable within limits was meant tongue in cheek :).

    They are either mutable or immutable.

    I often challenge young earth creationists to explain the rate of evolution that must have taken place since the flood in order to explain the vast diversity of species we observe today.

  42. Sorry, Mung; I missed the wink of the eye.

  43. Timaeus #39: I don’t work for the Discovery Institute. I’m a freelancer.

    I didn’t say that you did. I said your thought reflects the thought of the Discovery Institute.

    Nor does Francis Smallwood, the person whose words you are criticizing. In fact, Francis Smallwood openly admits to *not* being an ID proponent, so why you would take his view as typical of the people here, or at Discovery, I have no idea.

    The problem, again, is that you are not listening. I know Smallwood is a Darwinist. I am criticizing Joshua, yourself and the D.I. mainly.

    As for your historical remarks, you continue to publically embarrass yourself when you make them. Have you ever set foot inside a library? And if not, how would you know what is ‘uncontested among scholars’?

    Just the opposite is true: you have shown yourself ignorant in 101 matters. For example: There is, like I said, no dispute among scholars that species, before Darwin published, were held to be immutable by scientific men. I even provided a reference (Darwin 1859:6; London: Murray).

    You, on the other hand, have evaded while patting yourself on the back.

    Persons reading our exchanges might wonder, if you are indeed ignorant, why am I responding to such a person?

    I will get back to this point in a moment.

    As for references, I did provide one reference to cover several of the things that I said….[omit agree-with-me-or-you-are-ignorant remarks]….Let’s put this to the test. I’ve told you about Gilson’s book. Now, suppose you withhold all further comments on this site until you have read that book.

    Yes, you provided ONE “reference” for several assertions. You did not provide a proper reference with page numbers. And I offer your one “reference” as evidence that you are showing signs of ignorance since nobody would stake everything said on ONE incomplete reference.

    I have posted two messages in this thread (#24, #37). You have evaded my content. Anyone can fact check and confirm.

    I have taken the time to respond because I am interested in learning about your claims. I am interested because I believe your thought reflects Dembski’s thought (and other fellows from the D.I.). This is why I am responding to a person who shows signs of being ignorant in 101 matters, like the undisputed fact that species were held to be immutable before 1859.

    That said, I would like to ask a few questions?

    The questions:

    1. Where did you obtain the idea that species are mutable?

    I am asking you to name the scientist and publication that science points to as providing the evidence for species mutability (evolution).

    2. How does mutability occur?

    I am asking you to name the publication(s) that show how evolution occurs, that is, the major publication(s) that science points to as showing them the causal agent.

    3. Earlier you said Darwinism and evolution are not the same thing. What **exactly** is the difference? Your claim seems to imply that Darwinism is not about evolution. Please explain and support your answer with proper references.

    4. How does the Biological Species Concept appear in nature; that is, I am asking you how new species appear in the wild?

    5. If “Intelligent agency causes evolution,” where did you obtain **this** idea?

    I am asking you to name the major publications that support your claim.

    I feel each question is squarely on topic and fair for persons who claim knowledge in the history of science.

    Thanks.

    RM (Old Earth, Paleyan IDist-species immutabilist)

    PS: Feel free to ask me any question. I will reply with proper references (as I have done in this topic).

  44. It’s ok. After you’ve read enough of my posts you’ll look for it automatically, even if it’s not there explicitly. :)

    But then you’ll be scratching your head, wondering if I am being serious.

    I employ a great deal of sarcasm. I also try to be humorous. But usually there’s a nugget of truth in there somewhere, or a point to be made, even if it’s not at first immediately evident.

  45. NR:

    The English language is a truth bearer. We express a great many truths in English. Nevertheless we see the English language as neither true nor false. We apply assessments of truth to statements expressed in English. Similarly, we assess the truth of statements that are made under a scientific theory.

    One distinction between a model and a theory is that the former is typically deliberately “simplified” and as such cannot be true. A good case in point is modelling a transistor as if it were made up of controlled generators, resistors, capacitors etc. Useful in design but known false.

    Scientific theories, in their claims and constructs when they are put on the table, must be seen as potentially true. That is the sense of truth bearers used.

    (The English language — as a language — does not purport to be a specific description or explanation of reality or how it works, though it enables us to discuss such in that language. To do that it does have words that refer to real things and speaks in terms of subjects acting on objects, but that has little to do with what something like Newton’s theories of optics or gravitation and mechanics set out to be in the mid-late 1600′s.)

    Being potentially true is an important criterion of a serious scientific theory, particularly when it first seeks to gain currency.

    Think here of Einstein’s response to ever so many denunciations of his theory, and of the response when Eddington’s eclipse observations showing gravitational lensing of a size compatible only with relativity were made in 1919.

    Scientific theories seek to be factually accurate and adequate (covering known and predicted facts — empirically reliable and trustworthy), coherent and elegantly simple (neither an ad hoc patchwork nor simplistic).

    KF

  46. PS: Let’s try:

    “The [Neo-] Darwinian theory of macro evolution is not meant to be accurate to what happened in the past. It is only meant as a narrative that suggests ways we can unify certain phenomena, providing a language we can use to suggest an imaginary past of origins useful for finding fossils etc and for tying them together in a coherent narrative. It is not now — nor has it ever been — meant to be grounded in the truth about the world and its actual origin.”

    You would never see such a disclaimer issued by the US NAS etc.

    That is, they do accept that scientific theories should seek to be accurate to reality. (Whether they SUCCEED is a different matter.)

    KF

  47. Ray Martinez:

    1. I didn’t provide you with page numbers, because I want you to get out of the habit of looking up proof-texts and into the habit of reading entire books, books written by people who know what they are talking about. I’m suggesting that you make the first book Gilson’s. Once you read it, you will be embarrassed by the uninformed statements you have made above, and in earlier postings on this site. On almost every page of the book you will find information that corrects your errors, or explanations that improve your understanding. If you are truly interested in becoming informed on the history of evolutionary thought, rather than in just mouthing off based on hearsay, you will do this.

    2. I already explained the difference between evolution and Darwinism. But I’ll try putting it another way. “Evolution” refers to an alleged process by which all living forms have descended from a few original forms, perhaps even a single original form; “Darwinism” or “the Darwinian mechanism” offers an *explanation* of how that process could take place. It is like saying that “rain” is the downward motion of water droplets from the clouds, while “evaporation, cooling, condensation into clouds, and cloud breakup” are an *explanation* for why raindrops form and fall. The explanation and the process are not the same thing. Regarding evolution, you’re equating the explanation and the process, without even realizing that you are doing it.

    There are thus many versions of “evolution” — Darwinian evolution, neo-Darwinian evolution (the latter being the 1930s-1940s update of the former), Lamarckian evolution, Bergsonian evolution, Dentonian evolution, Margulisian evolution, Shapironian evolution, etc. In each case, “evolution” refers to the process, and the proper adjective in front of the noun refers to the *explanation* for the process.

    Not all versions of evolution are atheistic or materialistic. Not all of them are even naturalistic. Darwin’s evolutionary theory was naturalistic. It was not inherently materialistic, because it did not deny the existence of a being outside of nature, i.e., God. But it was naturalistic because it argued that God did not involve himself in evolution, except through wholly natural causes.

    I’m not going to give you page references for any of this, any more than I would give you a page reference for “2+2=4″ or “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 14 hundred and 92.” This is is basic knowledge that everyone well-versed in the field already knows. If you don’t know it, that’s your problem. And if you want to know it, do what I did: read Darwin’s *Origin* in its entirety. Read his Autobiography and his Letters. Read Desmond and Moore’s biography of Darwin. If you want to know more about the other types of evolution, get out the *Encyclopedia Britannica*, and look up Lamarck, Bergson, etc. For neo-Darwinism you can buy used editions of popular books by Mayr or Gaylord Simpson. For other versions of evolutionary theory, you can also buy Bergson’s *Creative Evolution* cheaply on the internet; Shapiro’s new book *Evolution* is relatively inexpensive as well; Lynn Margulis’s ideas on evolution you will find summarized in her interview in Mazur’s *Altenberg 16* book; Denton’s view is in *Nature’s Destiny*. Do some work. Until you read this sort of stuff and digest it, you’re not competent to speak on these matters.

    3. Your reference from Darwin is from the first edition of *The Origin of Species*. In almost all later editions he included a historical sketch which clearly indicates that others before him had spoken of transformation of species. He did not claim that the idea of transformation was an innovation of his.

    If you want a reference, here is one of innumerable ones that can be found on the first page of Google hits for “Darwin historical sketch edition”:

    http://spot.colorado.edu/~frie.....-minor.pdf

    “For well over a half century prior to the publication of the Origin of Species (1859), naturalists, theologians, horticulturalists, medical practitioners, poets, and philosophers had been advancing evolutionary concepts for the diversification of life through modification of species. Shortly after the initial publication of Origin of Species, Darwin felt the pressure to formally acknowledge his evolutionist predecessors. The first intellectual history of evolutionism, by Darwin himself, appeared in the first German edition and fourth printing of the first American edition of Origin in 1860; in 1861, Darwin’s “Historical Sketch” finally appeared in the third English edition of Origin.”

    The fact that you are unaware of this difference between the editions of the Origin tells me that you are a novice when it comes to the study of Darwin. And the fact that you have continued to insist that Darwin was the first to come up with the idea of evolution tells me that you have no training in the history of ideas.

    4. Most of your other comments are irrelevant. I didn’t say that I knew that species were mutable, and I didn’t say that I knew what the causes of such changes would be if species were mutable. I was defending neither evolution nor Darwinism. I was saying that your historical statements were incorrect and show your lack of scholarly training, plus a back-country stubbornness that prevents you from learning from people who do have such training. And I find this historical ignorance and this stubbornness embarrassing to ID, since critics of ID often associate ID with the opinions of untrained creationist ignoramuses, and try to tar ID with the same brush.

    Having you as an ally against the Darwinians effectively means that ID people have only one hand to fight the Darwinians with, as they have to use the other hand to cover your mouth so you can’t utter scientific and historical nonsense, and this division of attention handicaps the anti-Darwinist cause. So please, either stop talking, or get an education. I doubt very much whether you have ever taken a university course in your entire life, or read a real academic book from cover to cover in your entire life. Now would be a good time to start.

    Sorry for my impatience, but this is not the first time you’ve wasted everyone’s time here. I have no trouble with well-educated creationists — there are a significant number of them in the ID camp, and they are assets. But uneducated creationists play right into the hands of the Darwinists, and they are liabilities. You’re doing more harm than good, until you acquire more knowledge. That is the kindest way I can put it, for one with your track record of inflexible stubbornness.

  48. Timaeus #48 is supposed to be a response to R. Martinez #44.

    General Audience:

    I urge you to read and compare messages #44 and #48: see the level of evasion and downright dishonesty by Timaeus (an Evolutionist).

    Tim heaps praise upon himself (“I’m so knowledgeable”) yet he is ignorant of the 101 fact that species, before Darwin 1859, were considered immutable by scientific men (C. Darwin, “On The Origin” 1859:6, 310; London: John Murray). His entire “response” literally ignores and/or misrepresents everything that I said (please fact check and confirm for yourself).

    Why?

    Why didn’t Timaeus take the time to quote me and respond like I did with him? Why didn’t he answer my questions in a forthright manner (blockquote then response)?

    If truth is on his side why behave this way?

    Answer: Because he cannot refute even one thing that I said—that’s why.

    This is why I am an anti-evolutionist-species immutabilist.

    Timaeus is a product of the Discovery Institute, who are, in essence, Evolutionists in sheep’s clothing.

    RM (Old Earth Paleyan IDist-species immutabilist)

  49. Ray Martinez:

    I already replied in full to your reference to Darwin, under Point 3 of my reply 48. Your level of reading comprehension is apparently insufficient for you to recognize that your point has been refuted.

    You said in your P.S. in 44 above that I should feel free to ask you “any question.” I have a question:

    What is the highest level of formal education that you have completed?

  50. Ray Martinez/Timaeus

    Quote:

    After having produced aquatic animals of all ranks and having caused extensive variations in them by the different environments provided by the waters, nature led them little by little to the habit of living in the air, first by the water’s edge and afterwards on all the dry parts of the globe. These animals have in course of time been profoundly altered by such novel conditions; which so greatly influenced their habits and organs that the regular gradation which they should have exhibited in complexity of organisation is often scarcely recognisable.
    Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Hydraéologie (1802)

    I make that 57 years before 1859, a scientific man (the one who coined the term “biology”), describing mutable (and mutated) species. He’s famous, too – I learned about him in school zoology 45 years ago.

    I give the point to Timaeus. It really does help ones case to get properly informed.

  51. “Timaeus is a product of the Discovery Institute, who are, in essence, Evolutionists in sheep’s clothing.”

    While I agree that Timaeus appears to be highly moulded and deeply influenced by the Discovery Institute and its Fellows, I’ve never before heard the claim of such Fellows being “Evolutionists in sheep’s clothing.” That’s quite a statement, Ray Martinez!

    Now, as it turns out, I’m among a new generation of ‘anti-evolutionists.’ In so far as there are ‘evolutionists’ at DI, I would gladly debate them. Dembski, for example, is an ‘evolutionist’ in his defense of ‘technological evolution.’ Iow, he supports the exaggeration of ‘evolution’ into the realm of human-made things. I would quickly tie Dembski’s tongue in a knot quite easily given his abuse of TRIZ to promote ‘technological evolution,’ if ever Dembski wanted to debate this.

    But simply accepting biological evolution, including its strengths and weaknesses as a scientific theory, does not make one an ‘evolutionist.’ Likewise, accepting ‘Darwinian evolution,’ even with its theoretical limits taken into account, does not make one a ‘Darwinist,’ although this is a distinction many don’t wish to carefully make. Tying ‘Darwinism’ with ‘mechanism’ contains only a sliver of accuracy; but doing this doesn’t make on into an ‘evolutionist’.

    “There are thus many versions of “evolution” — Darwinian evolution, neo-Darwinian evolution, Lamarckian evolution, Bergsonian evolution, Dentonian evolution, Margulisian evolution, Shapironian evolution, etc. In each case, “evolution” refers to the process, and the proper adjective in front of the noun refers to the *explanation* for the process.”

    Right, and ‘Intelligent Design’ refers to the origin/Origin. That ID has nothing to do with ‘the process’ shows why ID is not a suitable alternative to evolution.

    p.s. a name is not an “explanation for the process”. But noteably, not included was Johnsonian evolution, Behean evolution, Dembskian evolution, Meyerean evolution, Wellsian evolution, Nelsonian evolution, etc. *in* the IDM. Dentonian evolution, from Denton the vitalist seems to be the greatest case for promoting ‘teaching the controversy’ from a person that has allowed himself (temporarily) to be associated with ID. And the term ‘Dentonian evolution’ is used where exactly in professional biological literature?! Citation requested for ‘Dentonian evolution,’ in professional literature please.

  52. Jon,

    You quote of Lamarck in defense of ‘mutability’ is fine as far as that goes. At the same time, however, perhaps you don’t realise that you shot your own foot in the process?

    “nature led them little by little”

    That sounds pretty naturalistic, Jon. You’re a supernaturalistic, bring-in-theology kind of guy who wants ‘intervention,’ ‘governance,’ ‘guidance,’ ‘steering,’ etc. (in your own language) to be ‘detectable’ (in IDs language) in biological evolution. The quotation above would be better used by Aristotelian-Thomist anti-IDists than for ID with its ‘intelligent causes should become part of natural sciences,’ strategy.

    ‘Environmental conditions’ sounds a lot like ‘natural selection’ and not much like ‘intelligent agent selection.’

  53. Gregory – you’ve missed one important factor out. And that is, most people recognise that quoting what someone says does not obligate one to agree with them.

    “Adolph Hitler wrote that the Jews were inferior long before the Holocaust” is not the same as saying “I agree with Hitler’s anti-semitism.” Why on earth should it be, any more than Ray’s quoting from Darwin is inappropriate because he’s a Creationist?

    Regarding your second paragraph, what I actually want is an adequate explanation of living things that does not deny the Christian revelation of God’s creative nature. That’s not incompatible with his using “natural” efficient causes in an evolutionary process, even for the whole of evolution.

    But evolution as currently formulated (a) is inadequate as a series of efficient causes b) is highly open to doubt as a truthful explanation for what it does try to explain (c) is associated (even in theistic circles) with false views both of God’s detailed concern for his creatures and of his power to implement it and (d) tries to explain the spiritual in naturalistic terms.

    Lamarckism, actually, would provide quite a reasonable series of efficient causes, including (unlike Darwin’s theory) an explanation of life’s origins. And that’s not surprising as he was a Deist. Unfortunately his theory is shot full with errors – being theologically orthodox but untrue is no great advantage.

  54. Gregory wrote:

    “ID is not a suitable alternative to evolution.”

    Exactly! ID is an alternative to “chance,” not “evolution.” Ray, however, thinks that ID should be an alternative to “evolution,” and in fact that it should be a *creationist* alternative, and that is why he is so angry with those ID proponents who either endorse evolution (Behe, Denton) or allow that some forms of evolution could be compatible with ID (Dembski, Meyer). Ray thinks that evolution, in any form at all, by any mechanism whatsoever, or even guided directly by divine action, is anti-Christian. And Ray’s wrong.

    As for Ray’s characterization of the Discovery Institute as a group of closet evolutionists, the ludicrousness of that is shown by enumerating the positions of several of the more prominent fellows and staff members:

    Nelson — YEC;
    Dembski, Meyer — OEC;
    Wells, Hunter, Luskin — all either YEC or OEC

    Ray can’t be bothered by such trivialities as “research,” which is why he constantly makes factually erroneous statements. He just vents his spleen on all forms of Christianity that don’t match his own narrow literalism. From his point of view, if the ID folks aren’t narrow 6-day literalists, they are as spiritually lost as Richard Dawkins, so there is no need to pay attention to any of the nuances in their discussions. In Ray’s religious world, everyone who is not with him is against him.

    Regarding Denton, he is certainly not a “vitalist” in any historically recognizable usage of that term.

    On another point, I said that the name “refers to,” not “is,” the explanation for the process.

    As for the list of types of evolution, I never claimed they were all in common usage. Some of them, as far as I know, I coined myself, to enrich by examples (for Ray’s benefit) the general naming principle involved in the phrase “Darwinian evolution.” But I have many times seen some of these forms in the history of science literature, especially “Lamarckian evolution” and “Bergsonian evolution.” And while the phrase “Dentonian evolution” has probably not been used in any professional literature, “Dentonian evolution” is faster to write than “Denton’s theory of evolution” — and quite intelligible, on the model of “Darwinian evolution.” So there is no terminological problem, to anyone who is reading contextually and with a view to understanding what I am driving at, as opposed to someone who might prefer to derail the discussion of substance by pedantic objections regarding language.

    I suspect, however, that Ray’s reaction will be not to cavil over terminology, but simply to ignore everything I wrote, so I probably wasted my time in even trying to produce a layman’s summary for him. Hope springs eternal for those who love to teach, but sometimes hopes are unrealistic.

  55. Gregory #52: “Timaeus is a product of the Discovery Institute, who are, in essence, Evolutionists in sheep’s clothing (Ray Martinez).”

    While I agree that Timaeus appears to be highly moulded and deeply influenced by the Discovery Institute and its Fellows, I’ve never before heard the claim of such Fellows being “Evolutionists in sheep’s clothing.” That’s quite a statement, Ray Martinez!

    Yes, it is.

    Go to YouTube and listen to Dembski on the Jon Stewart Show (the clip is relatively short):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGai8LE622A

    Darwinist Edward Larson speaks first and he, in essence, says evolution is the core concept in biology. Dembski does not protest, but indicates agreement.

    A genuine ANTI-evolutionist would have said something against. He gives the distinct impression that he too accepts this core Darwinian concept to exist in nature. Moreover, in “Darwin On Trial” by Phillip Johnson he says almost everyone accepts species mutability. His context, in my estimation, includes himself and his good friend William Dembski (I do not have a page number at hand). And in “Intelligent Design” (1999) Dembski actually argues that Darwinian evolution is agnostic (I do not have a page number at hand).

    Why would Dembski take the time to argue accepted evolution to be agnostic?

    Well, if you aint naive, it is because he accepts evolution (species mutability). Evolution is not agnostic, if that were true then Richard Dawkins and all other Atheists are incredibly stupid!

    Dembski accepts evolution (species mutability). The fact that you didn’t know supports my claim that he is an Evolutionist in sheep’s clothing, conducting the same business as Ken Miller but on the “opposite side of the street.”

    RM (Old Earth, Paleyan IDist-species immutabilist)

  56. Jon Garvey #51: I give the point to Timaeus.

    What point?

    I never said Darwin invented evolution—that was Timmy’s straw man. Search my messages in this topic (#24, #37, #44, #49, #56) and fact check for yourself.

    I have said—repeatedly—that species, before Darwin published, were held to be immutable by scientific men (Darwin 1859:6, 310; London: Murray). Therefore the evolution that science accepted, and still accepts, is Darwinian.

    The reason Timmy set up this straw man is because he is attempting to deflect away from the fact that he is on record as saying the exact opposite—that science accepted evolution before 1859. In “support” he posted an unscholarly link that contained no references. His secondary source did NOT say evolution enjoyed scientific acceptance. It said various persons advocated the concept—that’s all.

    My source (Charles Darwin) is a primary source. IF a secondary source were to contradict a primary source then the secondary source cannot be held as conveying fact.

    Here are the Darwin quotes from the first edition “Origin Of Species.”

    “I can entertain no doubt, after the most deliberate study and dispassionate judgment of which I am capable, that the view which most naturalists entertain, and which I formerly entertained—namely, that each species has been independently created—is erroneous. I am fully convinced that species are not immutable” (p.6).

    “We see this in the plainest manner by the fact that all the most eminent palæontologists, namely Cuvier, Owen, Agassiz, Barrande, Falconer, E. Forbes, &c., and all our greatest geologists, as Lyell, Murchison, Sedgwick, &c., have unanimously, often vehemently, maintained the immutability of species” (p.310).

    Where did Timmy obtain the idea that science, before Darwin, accepted species mutability?

    Since the issue is BASIC, Timaeus is not nearly as knowledgeable as he claims to be. Are we to believe he is not well versed in Darwin’s “Origin Of Species”?

    Apparently not.

    RM (Old Earth, Paleyan IDist-species immutabilist)

  57. ???————–!!!

    (approximate sound of jaw dropping open)

    re: reply 56 above

  58. #57

    Ray “Egregious Error of Stupendous Ignorance” Martinez strikes again.

    :)

  59. Upright BiPed #59: [Regarding] #57

    Ray “Egregious Error of Stupendous Ignorance” Martinez strikes again.

    The total lack of substance plainly indicates that our Atheist-Evolutionist, Upright BiPed, cannot address, much less refute, anything that I said.

    In essence, as one might expect, our Atheist-Evolutionist is backing fellow Evolutionists Timaeus and the Discovery Institute. This is what happens when a real anti-Evolutionist shows up: the phony anti-Evolutionists (Timaeus and the Discovery Institute) are exposed.

    RM (Old Earth, Paleyan IDist-species immutabilist)

  60. Ray Martinez wrote:

    “I never said Darwin invented evolution—that was Timmy’s straw man. Search my messages in this topic (#24, #37, #44, #49, #56) and fact check for yourself.”

    Yes, let’s do that. From #37:

    “Darwinism and evolution are perfectly synonymous. Before 1859 species were considered immutable (Darwin 1859:6; London: Murray). Science accepted evolution as explicated by Darwin. It has never looked back since.”

    So “Darwinism” and “evolution” are “perfectly synonymous.” This means that, whatever “evolution” is, it’s “Darwinism,” and whatever “Darwinism” is, it’s “evolution.” And “Darwinism” is the doctrine “explicated by Darwin.” And that doctrine was not explicated until 1859, before which there was no “Darwinism” in the world. And if there was no doctrine of “Darwinism” in the world before 1859, then there couldn’t have been any doctrine of “evolution” in the world before 1859, since, as Ray has told us, the two words are “perfectly synonymous.” So Darwin must have “invented evolution.”

    Could we, out of charity, rescue Ray’s argument, by making a point which Ray himself did not make, and did not even think of? For example, could we argue that the teaching of “Darwinism” existed in the world before 1859, but wasn’t called by that name? Well, maybe. But then, since “Darwinism” = “evolution” that means that the teaching of “evolution” also existed before 1859. Would Ray allow that?

    It seems not. Ray writes “Before 1859 species were considered immutable,” and then he immediately and directly contrasts that with the situation after 1859, when “science accepted evolution as explicated by Darwin.” So “evolution” for Ray means “species are not immutable.” And conversely, “species are immutable” for Ray means “no evolution has occurred.” So no one believed that evolution occurred before Darwin’s book in 1859.

    Ray might answer: “OK, maybe *some* scientists believed that species were mutable before 1859.” But he said “scientific men” without qualification. He never said “some scientific men” or “most scientific men.” Just “scientific men.” Without qualification, the natural way of reading “scientific men” is “all scientific men.” Which means that no scientific men held to the mutability of species before 1859; so Darwin must have been first “scientific man” to champion the notion.

    But even if we, out of intellectual charity, accept that Ray was just writing poorly, and meant to say only “some scientific men” (which would be more correct, as I indicated with reference to Darwin’s historical sketch, in the editions Ray has not only not read, but not even heard of), that still destroys one of Ray’s contentions. If “some scientific men” believed in “the mutability of species” (which by implication Ray has equated with “evolution”) before 1859, then the notion of “evolution” existed on its own, separate from the presentation Darwin gave it in 1859. It is therefore separate from “Darwinism.” So then “evolution” and “Darwinism” cannot be synonymous. (Well, they *could* be, if *all* pre-Darwinian versions of evolution postulated the same mechanism as Darwin did. But they didn’t; the example of Lamarck alone proves that.)

    So whatever way Ray turns, he lands himself in a mess of contradictions. The cause of this is: ( a ) he does not understand the vocabulary he is using; ( b ) he is ignorant of the history of the doctrines he is writing about; ( c ) his powers of logical inference and logical connection are almost non-existent.

    If Ray is wondering how I avoid getting entangled in similar messes of contradictions, I’ll tell him: I’ve actually read Darwin’s book. All of it. Has Ray? (Odds against: 100 to 1.) And I’ve read Darwin’s historical sketch from the later editions. We know that Ray hasn’t. And I’ve read numerous scholarly works on the history of evolutionary theory. Ray apparently hasn’t. Finally, I had a lengthy university education, during the course of which I had my essays mercilessly criticized (by very bright and competent scholars, themselves trained in the world’s top universities), until I (a) learned my subjects properly, and (b) learned to express myself in logically tight and readable English prose. And this last point about education reminds me:

    Ray, are you going to answer the question I asked in #50 above? You promised!

  61. Upright BiPed #59: [Regarding] #57

    Ray “Egregious Error of Stupendous Ignorance” Martinez strikes again.

    The total lack of substance plainly indicates that our Atheist-Evolutionist, Upright BiPed, cannot address, much less refute, anything that I said.

    Actually, what it indicates is that I think Christians going through their lives trying to out-Christian other Christains are a sore lot, suitable for mockery.

  62. In a bizarre reply to Upright BiPed (61), Ray writes:

    “This is what happens when a real anti-Evolutionist shows up: the phony anti-Evolutionists (Timaeus and the Discovery Institute) are exposed.”

    In order to be a “phony anti-Evolutionist,” I’d first of all have to be representing myself as an “anti-evolutionist.” But I’ve never represented myself as anti-evolutionist. Nor is ID, *per se*, anti-evolutionist. ID is anti-chance.

    Thus, ID proponents can be Young Earth or Old Earth creationists, and they can also be evolutionists who believe the evolutionary process is planned or guided, rather than driven by random mutations and natural selection.

    Ray’s problem is that he would like ID to be creationism, and he’s angry that it isn’t. Somewhere along the line, when he first heard of ID, he must have picked up the impression that it was creationist, and he has been fighting ever since to maintain that impression, condemning ID people who endorse or even merely allow evolution, as if they were wicked or cowardly backsliders from creationism.

    But of course, if Ray had listened in the first place, he would have learned that ID is not opposed to “evolution” but only to “chance” explanations of biological origins. And he would have learned the difference between “Darwinian evolution” and “evolution” simply. But listening is not Ray’s strong point. He knows all the answers, and when you know all the answers, you don’t have to bother to listen to anyone else. You don’t have to read good books by informed people. You don’t have to go to school and learn science, theology, history, etc. You already know it all.

    It must be nice to be one of those rare human beings who simply knows the truth, who has somehow “picked it up” from the atmosphere (or from God) without having to do any intellectual work for it. As for me, I’m not one of those gifted folks, so I’ll continue to try to learn the truth the old-fashioned way — through formal education, conversation with intelligent people, and private study.

    I don’t expect that Ray will answer my question from #50, but I have a pretty good idea what the answer is, and I can understand why he doesn’t want to give it. He won’t be the first person on the internet to bluff about his level of scientific or theological knowledge, and then, when asked where he acquired it, to go silent.

  63. Wait, Upright Biped is an atheist? Then why is he fighting so hard for ID on another thread? I know that ID is not partial to religion but who would the designer be if you don’t believe in any diety?

  64. “Exactly! ID is an alternative to ‘chance,’ not ‘evolution’.” – Timaeus

    So, ‘intelligently designed chance’ is a misnomer in your view of ID? Another way to ask it, are you saying that God *cannot* (and *does* not) control random natural processes?

    I asked this recently elsewhere and the ID supporter responded: “God can design and even control apparently random processes.” (And then, of course, added a ‘but’…)

    “Dembski, Meyer — OEC; Wells, Hunter, Luskin — all either YEC or OEC.” – Timaeus

    You’re calling all 5 of these guys ‘Creationists’!?!? I don’t really care what the qualifier signifies, OE or YE. But seriously, they are ‘Creationists’?!?

    “Regarding Denton, he is certainly not a “vitalist” in any historically recognizable usage of that term.” – Timaeus

    He sure sounds like a vitalist to me. He speaks of ‘vital difference,’ ‘vital characteristics,’ ‘vitalistic principles’ and the ‘vitalist position’ at the beginning and in the conclusion of his “Organism and Machine: The Flawed Analogy” paper.

    Just saying it ain’t so because it suits your caricature of Denton as ideologue for ID doesn’t make it true, Timaeus. In fact, Denton basically refers to himself as a ‘vitalist’ in this ID-hosted video – he talks about a ‘vitalistic’ era and even refers to ‘classic vitalism’: Michael Denton Interview

    He also promotes the Aristotelian viewpoint of natural forms, which just takes a short step towards Aristotelian-Thomism and away from ID.

    What I find fascinating is that Denton looks back beyond Darwin to the 17th century, indeed to Descartes. I raised this issue re: anti-Darwinism to ID leaders at the DI’s Summer Program in 2008, saying that many of the problems they were indicating are present in Darwin, actually precede Darwin. Darwin cannot be held guilty for the mechanistic paradigm, which Denton is suggesting is on the cusp of being overtaking by a ‘vitalistic revolution.’

    p.s. in the video, do you notice another ID leader refering the IDM, Timaeus? Not long ago here at UD you told me you thought ID leaders don’t use ‘Intelligent Design Movement’ to characterise themselves. Add Denton to the list of almost every ID leader that in fact *does* use the term IDM. It gets tiring correcting you, Timaeus, but perhaps it is worth the cause of keeping the record straight.

  65. Gregory:

    So, ‘intelligently designed chance’ is a misnomer in your view of ID? Another way to ask it, are you saying that God *cannot* (and *does* not) control random natural processes?

    What does that even mean- to control random natural processes?

    And if you cannot tell the difference between a God and no God at all then you don’t add one.

  66. Gregory:

    Right, and ‘Intelligent Design’ refers to the origin/Origin. That ID has nothing to do with ‘the process’ shows why ID is not a suitable alternative to evolution.

    Dude, you are confused. ID is OK with “evolution” as in change in allele frequency and descent with modification. ID says it wasn’t by chance- meaning organisms were designed to evolve and evolved by design.

    Just say it Gregory- you have no interest in ID you are just interested in strawmen.

  67. Timaeus #50: What is the highest level of formal education that you have completed?

    Timaeus #63: I don’t expect that Ray will answer my question from #50, but I have a pretty good idea what the answer is, and I can understand why he doesn’t want to give it. He won’t be the first person on the internet to bluff about his level of scientific or theological knowledge, and then, when asked where he acquired it, to go silent.

    Timaeus #61: I had a lengthy university education.

    Timaeus #55: Hope springs eternal for those who love to teach.

    Regarding #63:

    Timmy says I bluffed concerning education credentials. This statement is completely false. I never said anything at all about education credentials. What I did say, by implication, is that I possess knowledge in Theology, Logic, Philosophy, and History of Science. So far Timmy is showing that he does not listen or that he deliberately misrepresents. In either case the same supports a claim that Timmy is not educated or civilized.

    Regarding #55:

    Where did Timmy obtain the idea that in this blog or forum he is recognized as a teacher? Please tell us who sanctioned you to be a teacher and post the link? Then post the link where anyone submitted themself to you as a student?

    I seriously doubt that Timmy will answer these questions in a forthright manner.

    The larger point is that on this blog or forum no one is a teacher per se. The whole point or purpose of the blog or forum is to challenge claims, to show a presumed on-looking audience that your claims are true and your opponents claims are false.

    Regarding #50 and many other statements Timmy has made proclaiming how knowledgeable he is:

    His underlying point is that credentials make one correct automatically. If Timmy was educated, that is, if he actually possessed knowledge as opposed to passing classes, he would know that his underlying point is known commonly as an “invalid argument from authority.”

    An argument from authority is when a person cites credentials as the only criteria to win a point or argument. The argument from authority is wholly invalid because it says persons that possess credentials—their claims cannot be questioned or challenged.

    This is exactly what Timmy has done in this thread. He has thrown a tantrum each and everytime I challenged his claims while crying “How dare you!”

    Again, the whole pupose of this blog or forum is to show your opponents claims to be false. Timmy, in response, has said his claims cannot be challenged based only on his perceived educational credentials, the invalid argument from authority.

    Most people do not know that the founding treatise of the Darwinian genetical theory of natural selection was written by a person (Ronald Fisher) who did not have a college degree in biology. Fisher had a BA degree in Astronomy. The only advanced degree he had was Professor of Eugenics (white superiority).

    Yet Fisher is regarded as one of the greatest biologists since Darwin.

    Now Timmy has alluded to the fact that he has a college degree. I do not have a college degree. But Timmy has not told us what his degree is in or any details. But I am not asking him for any details, because in these context it doesn’t matter. The fact that Timmy would base everything he says on the invalid argument from authority once again supports a claim that he is not very bright despite any credential that he might possess.

    RM (Paleyan IDist-species immutabilist)

  68. Ray Martinez:

    I made no argument based on authority. I made my argument from texts. I showed, for example, that you had used an inadequate text of Darwin, and directed you to a later edition, containing a historical sketch which I myself have read. That historical sketch — which you apparently have no interest in hunting down and consulting — indicates that Darwin had predecessors in evolutionary theory. So does the book by Gilson which I mentioned. So do a score of other books which you have not consulted. Your account of the history is just plain wrong.

    I mentioned your lack of education not to give me any authority, but to explain to you *why* you keep making these elementary errors. You lack the intellectual training to read texts in these subject areas — theology, history of science, design theory, etc. You could make up for that defect by getting some training. Why you won’t do this, I don’t know. Certainly it’s not lack of time — you spend endless hours on the internet, so you could easily spend that time in a classroom. Perhaps you don’t have the money for tuition. Well, then it wouldn’t be your fault. But I sense that the problem is that you have no *desire* to improve your knowledge by submitting yourself to the instruction of teachers. I sense that you think you can figure out these things for yourself, just by reading a very small number of narrow literalist sources and reasoning as you go along. But you can’t. The material is too hard. Training is needed.

    (And by the way, from his astronomy degree, Fisher *did* acquire relevant training — mathematical training — for the task he set himself, i.e., to put population genetics on a firm quantitative footing.)

    To answer your question, my Ph.D. research was smack in the area we are talking about — religion and science. One of the authors I read for my comprehensive exams was Darwin. Another was Bergson. That’s how I know about their differing versions of evolution, and how I know — as you do not — that Darwinism and evolution are not synonymous. And I’ve been reading about the history of science for probably 45 years now. For all these reasons, and more, I’m confident that my presentation of the facts is more or less accurate, though of course we all make slips in detail from time to time. And that’s why I’m confident that your presentation of the facts is uninformed.

    I don’t have any more time to talk to you, Ray. Either you are interested in intellectual growth, or you are interested only in manning the battlements to defend the literalist, Biblicist view of life that you decided on years ago. If you are interested in learning about theology, evolution, and ID, I can give you a reading list of good books to bring you up to speed. If you are interested only in fighting and arguing to defend a fixed dogmatic position, we have nothing useful to say to each other, so let’s cut this short and move on.

  69. “For all these reasons, and more, I’m confident that my presentation of the facts is more or less accurate, though of course we all make slips in detail from time to time.” – Timaeus

    Right, slips in detail, just like how you were confident in the facts that ID leaders don’t refer to the IDM when they actually do?

    Let the tables be turned: Are you interested in intellectual growth, Timaeus or only interested in manning the battlements for…’the design revolution’? Do you actually want to be ‘brought up to speed’ and would you put in the effort to do so if I gave you a reading and viewing list?

    I’m convinced that your ‘science and religion’ (you mentioned it was History of Ideas and Philosophy of Religion here before, not ‘science and religion’ per se) research from 40 years ago is quite outdated and that it could be updated, should you commit to and humbly accept the possibility of re-education.

    I think Ray is very wrong in many ways, but also that you are not right in many ways. Will you accept my challenge, Timaeus, just as Joshua has done with Francis – the main topic of this thread?

  70. Gregory:

    I don’t know how Denton is currently using the word “vitalism.” But Denton, who is well-versed in the history of evolutionary thought, should also be well-versed enough in the history of scientific thought to know that in recent centuries “vitalism” has referred primarily to (i) a 19th-century theory about the special quality of organic (vs. inorganic) compounds (a theory associated with a contemporaneous sharp distinction between living and non-living matter); (ii) the view of evolution associated with Bergson, involving an “elan vital.” The argument in *Nature’s Destiny* is completely incompatible with either of these notions of vitalism. So Denton is inviting massive confusion if he is now calling himself a vitalist. But it’s not clear to me from your quoted words that he actually calls himself that; it seems to me that you may be yanking the word “vital” out of context. If you want me to check it out, give me the exact locations on the interview where he uses the term; I’m not going to hunt for them.

    I certainly would not call Denton an “ideologue” for ID. I don’t consider Denton an “ideologue” at all. You sometimes say very silly things. I do consider Denton an intelligent design proponent. (And I couldn’t care less what case you put the initials in, so please yourself.)

    No one ever said that Darwin alone was responsible for the mechanistic paradigm of nature. Certainly Darwin further extended and promoted it, but he was not its originator. It has roots going much further back, in Kant and Hobbes and Descartes, and in ancient times as well.

    On another point, I’ve never seen the phrase “intelligently designed chance” in scientific, philosophical, or theological literature. Have you? Or did you just coin the phrase now?

    I didn’t speak of God controlling random processes. I spoke of design vs. chance. If you come home and find your room vacuumed, your clothes hung up, and all your papers stacked neatly on your desk, you know that design, not chance, was responsible for this situation. ID people say that, if evolution occurred, design, not chance, was responsible for it, or at least for its major thrust. I don’t find this a complicated thing to understand.

    I believe that I already conceded to you the point about the ID “movement,” in another discussion, so I’m not sure why you are harping about it again, as if I hadn’t done so. Perhaps you are getting old and can’t remember discussions from just a few weeks ago?

    Finally, yes, all the people I named are creationists. They might not always call themselves that in all contexts, since the term is often misunderstood to suggest loony anti-science Bible-thumpers, and they are not anti-science, and their criticisms of Darwinian biology are science-based; but they certainly would call themselves creationists in some contexts. Of course, I am using “creationist” in the standard American popular sense of (i) a person who denies that macroevolution has occurred, and that species, or at least basic types of creatures, were separately created; (ii) a person who thinks that scientific theories about origins are invalid if they are not compatible with the teaching of the Bible on that subject. I think that (i) represents the position of all the people I named, and that (ii) would represent the position of most of them — not sure about Wells.

  71. “If you want me to check it out, give me the exact locations on the interview where he uses the term; I’m not going to hunt for them.”

    Follow the link in #65. It’s an 8 minute interview. Denton uses ‘vital’ and ‘vitalist’ and speaks about “the vitalist scenario of the world,” which appears to be the way he sees things.

    He says some very nice things about ‘ID people,’ as you like to call them, Timaeus, so you’ll like that. The guy obviously has no clue what ideology is and how it influences him. He couldn’t discern an -ism from an -ian to save a dying snowflake.

    That’s all the time I have for now.

  72. Gregory:

    I listened to the interview. I see now what the problem is.

    I spent a long time studying *Nature’s Destiny*, and imbibed the thought of that book, but had not yet heard this interview; you, on the other hand, had heard the interview, but have not (as I far as I know), read *Nature’s Destiny*. So we have been basing our discussions on different statements of Denton.

    I would suggest that his thought is in the process of change, and that, while retaining much of what he said in *Nature’s Destiny* (which he still largely defends, as a recent Discovery podcast on ENV shows), he is modifying some of his thought in the light of new developments in biology since 1998.

    Denton in the interview suggests two alternatives to the mechanistic model of life: (a) the vitalist; (b) the “Aristotelian.” At the end of his discussion, he somewhat blurs them together, as if forgetting that he had distinguished them from each other. (But we must be merciful; he said he was suffering from jet lag at the time.)

    By “vitalism” in the interview he appears to have in mind a view in which life possesses some properties which are not machinelike [see my parenthesis to sense (i) in 71 above], but he does not endorse the old 19th-century vitalism [my sense (i) in 71 above] which made organic molecules somehow fundamentally different from inorganic ones. (That he view, he says in *Nature’s Destiny*, was exploded in the later 19th century.) How he connects the “vital” properties of life with evolution is not yet clear; there is nothing in the interview that suggests he regards evolution as directed by the “elan vital” of Bergson, for example [my sense (ii) in 71 above].

    My sense from the interview is that his thinking is now moving beyond what he said in *Nature’s Destiny*, which did not defend “vitalism” (or even mention it, except as a discredited view of biochemistry from the 19th century), toward a new understanding which revives, not the biochemical doctrine called “vitalism,” but the background sensibility which informed it, i.e., a perception of the features of life which cannot be exhausted by mechanical description. And I have no objection to this move. I certainly do not endorse a purely mechanical view of living organisms, and while his previous book did not endorse such a view, it might have seemed to some readers to encourage it.

    It will be, however, important for him to give more precise content to the term “vitalism,” if he is going to start using it to characterize his thought, and he needs to explain exactly how this term connects with the picture of life he drew in *Nature’s Destiny*, given that he still supports the main theses put forward in that book.

    So I’ll concede to you his use of the term, but I want to impress upon you that this term is for a him a departure from his previous vocabulary, and is not even clearly in step with his most recent long interview on ENV. In short, Denton’s thought in the future will require attentive scrutiny. I look forward to his long-delayed third book.

    As for your remarks about ideology, they seem to me to be sudden outbursts of indignation for an ill-identified offense. How is Denton’s thought influenced by “ideology”? What do you see in the 8-minute interview that makes his remarks “ideological”?

Leave a Reply