Category: Evolution

Reviewer: Mind is “elephant in the room” as far as evolution is concerned

Snoke: On reflection, it is surprising that the existence of Mind has not been considered a major problem to address in evolutionary thought. This stems from the early commitment of Western science to a sharp distinction between observer and observed. more

Why life remained just slime for a billion years: Turns out low oxygen WAS to blame after all (?)

Whatever, but anyway, add “trace metals” to attempts to account for the Cambrian explosion. more

Theory on how animals evolved challenged: Some need almost no oxygen

Essentially, the appearance of complex animals was assumed to be caused by the rise in oxygen levels; sponge experiment suggests it may have only coincided with it. more

Microbiologist admits Darwinism’s shortcomings, says we should stick with it for now because …

… the alternative is complete ignorance. Trouble is, a theory that so consistently misleads as he describes is probably wrong, not just incomplete. more

Moderator for science mag article on how DNA studies shake tree of life bans discussion of “whether evolution is true.”

The big problem now isn’t whether “evolution” is true or untrue but whether current findings are making it nonsense. more

“Starling” type of bird lived alongside dinosaurs?

A mostly normal bird among all the feathered dinoflaps? The past sure isn’t what it used to be.

My take on the Nye-Ham Debate (and its wider context)

I have felt it useful to blog on the Nye-Ham debate at my personal blog, here. I trust the thoughts there will be helpful for onward discussion. My conclusion, in light of say the life and career of this notorious Creationist  ignoramus, and blundering incompetent at scientific fields . . . NOT: . . . […] more

Sneezing sponges – existence challenges assumptions about ‘primitive’ organism

“For a sponge to have a sensory organ is totally new. This does not appear in a textbook; this doesn’t appear in someone’s concept of what sponges are permitted to have,” said Leys. more

Attenborough, read your mail: Evolution is messier than TV

A friend writes to point out a modern-day examples that illustrates this, the walking shark: more

A Short Commentary on the Nye-Ham Debate

I originally wrote this for a friend, but decided that other people might be interested, too. Anyway, this is not a blow-by-blow, and I’m sure I’m missing some important points, but here is my commentary on the debate. If parts of it read like an email to a friend, well, that’s because that’s where it […] more

Linc RNA–once believed useless–plays a role in the genome

Here is a piece over at Phys.Org dealing with “long, intergenic non-coding” RNA. “When we removed the specific lincRNA, we looked at the mouse brain and the progenitors were reduced. As a consequence probably, the population [of neurons] that sits on top of the cerebral cortex are reduced … It’s likely that in the future […] more

Is Modularity a Pre-Requisite for Evolvability?

One of my favorite biologists is Gunter Wagner. He makes the claim in Genome Biology and Evolution that evolvability and modularity are highly associated. While not proof of a requirement, I think that Wagner is on the right track. In fact, this sort of research can actually bridge the gap between Intelligent Design and Evolutionary […] more

Climate change will wipe out a quarter of species … no, spur the evolution of new species

Just think; we will finally have evidence for the evolution of new species. A silver lining in the clouds of climate change. more

Who would have expected Darwinian evolution to come up in The Edge’s list of …

… science ideas ready to be retired, along with the Big Bang? more

Early tetrapod (“fishapod”) sheds light on transition to land—maybe

The Polish trackways establish that Tiktaalik wasn’t anywhere near the first tetrapod, so the most important information about the transition to land doesn’t even include Tiktaalik at present. more

Controversy swirls around last common ancestor of placental mammals

Is the molecular clock right (88-117 mya) or are the bones right (65 mya)? more

Human evolution is a “privileged” process?

Lahn probably hadn’t got the memo yet about how loaded the concept of privileged is in this context. In any event, he attributed the rapidity of the process to the development of human society, which he says, made selection for intelligence work faster more

Evolutionary biologist sees mutation driving evolution and thinks natural selection is of secondary importance

The author is Matastoshi Nei, Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Director of the Institute of Molecular Evolutionary Genetics, who seems well-connected in the science world more

Molecular biologist Michael Denton is back!

Yes, him, the post-Darwinian. Remember Evolution: A Theory in Crisis? Nature’s Destiny? more

ID Foundations, 22: What about evolutionary trees of descent and homologies? (An answer to Jaceli123′s presentation of a typical icon of evolution . . . )

As has been noted, sometimes people come to UD looking for answers to questions about what they have been taught regarding “Evolution”; typically in the context of indoctrination under the Lewontinian ideological a priori materialism that he outlined thusly in his infamous 1997 NYRB article: [T]he problem is to get [the general public] to reject […] more

Here is a bit of what Wells says  about homology (resemblance) based arguments . . . which answers to the ape and human hand part of the image:

Most  introductory  biology  textbooks  carry  draw-ings of vertebrate limbs showing similarities in their bone structures.  Biologists before Darwin had noticed this sort  of similarity and called it “homology,” and they attributed it  to  construction  on  a  common  archetype  or  design.    In The Origin of Species, however, Darwin argued that the best explanation for homology is descent with modification, and he considered it evidence for his theory.

Darwin’s followers rely on homologies to arrange fossils  in  branching  trees  that  supposedly  show  ancestor-descendant relationships.  In his 1990 book, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism, biologist Tim Berra compared the fossil record to a series of Corvette models: “If you compare a 1953 and a 1954 Corvette, side by side, then a 1954 and a 1955 model, and so on, the descent with modification is overwhelmingly obvious.”

But this is, of course, the notorious Berra’s blunder.

For there is a missing aspect in the story of Corvette Evolution: common design by GM’s Engineers.

That is, common design and technological evolution can account for homologies just as well as common descent, and indeed — given that genetic engineering exists, genetic engineering joined to common descent is a very viable design explanation. One that also takes in cases of evident code reuse and libraries of parts such as the close resemblance of code for micro bats and whales,  the case of the Platypus and other mosaic creatures, as well as the astonishing discovery that a kangaroo has in it huge swaths of the human genome. Blend in the ability of engineers to do multiple code inheritance, and we also see how common design could account for the astonishing diversity of various molecular trees of life that are constructed on the same idea that resemblance is a measure of common ancestry.

Where, let us recall, too, from the very first technical level ID work, Thaxton et al’s The Mystery of Life’s Origin, it has been repeatedly pointed out that evidence inferred to point to design of life is not the same as inference to the supernatural. For instance, it has often been noted at UD that a sufficient explanation of the world of life as we observe it could be a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond where Venter et al have reached in our day. Inference to design is an inference on sign regarding causal factors that point to nature acting freely and without foresight or direction (i.e. acting blindly) through chance and necessity, vs designers acting by art.  Hence, the relevance of the per aspect design inference explanatory filter:


So, obviously, contrary to Lewontin et al, NCSE et al, ACLU et al and ever so many objectors to design theory, the inference to design per the explanatory filter is not to be equated to inference to the (to them, suspect) supernatural.

And this, for the very good reason that that tweredun is prior to whodunit.

The signs of design such as functionally specific complex organisation and associated information [FSCO/I] are reliable indices of design is one thing. That the designer responsible may or may not be God or the like, is another.

(And, objectors to the design inference tend to be very thin on the ground at the cosmological fine tuning level, where the evidence does raise serious questions of an observed cosmos that credibly had a beginning, and where from its physics on up it is evidently set to a fine tuned local operating point that enables Carbon-chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life. The contingency and evident fine tuning of the material world we observe — the ONLY such world we observe (i.e. the multiverse is a speculation, and it is a philosophical argument not a scientific one . . . ) — then strongly points to an immaterial, powerful, purposeful, intelligent designer of a cosmos set up for life such as we experience. This, in a context where the root of a contingent cosmos, even through a speculated multiverse, is a necessary and thus eternal being. And coming forward, such a being would indeed have power to design and effect what we see in the world of life. But this is a much broader argument and in part it is a philosophical one, that has to address things like being, contingency and necessity, cf here on for a 101.)

From this, we move to the even more crucial Tree of life diagram, which first appears in Darwin’s notebooks c, 1837 (HT: Guardian):


So, this naturally raises the issue of the connexions leading from roots, to the trunk and to the branches, twigs, buds and leaves, including us. Accordingly, after many vexed exchanges at UD on Sept 23, 2012, I posted a pro-Darwinist essay challenge [as a successful answer would devastate the design theory movement so this is the heart of the matter], highlighting the following representation of the tree of life from the Smithsonian, which reveals the root . . .  Origin of Life [OOL]:


The upshot?

After a full year (during which I took time in the original thread to take apart a main Wikipedia article or two as a stand-in for the empty chair [--> cf here on on abiogenesis and here on on evolution . . . ] and also time to take apart a presentation of 29 claimed evidences of Macroevolution at the TalkOrigins archive [--> Cf. here, also see the true origins critique here and the onward response to talkorigins' rebuttal, here]), I had to put together a composite and very unsatisfactory answer that simply refused to address the bigger half of the problem, origin of life.

Speaks volumes, that does.

Anyway, the diagram Jaceli123 gives us, shows a chain of human ancestry, within this wider tree of life context.

Going on to the chain of alleged ancestors diagram, Wells observes:

Darwin’s theory really comes into its own when it is applied  to  human  origins.    While  he  scarcely  mentioned the  topic  in  The  Origin  of  Species,  Darwin  later  wrote extensively about it in The Descent of Man.  “My object,” he  explained,  “is  to  show  that  there  is  no  fundamental difference  between  man  and  the  higher  animals  in  their mental faculties” – even morality and religion.  According to Darwin, a dog’s tendency to imagine hidden agency in things moved by the wind “would easily pass into the belief in the existence of one or more gods.”

Of course, the awareness that the human body is part of nature was around long before Darwin.  But Darwin was claiming much more.  Like materialistic philosophers since ancient Greece, Darwin believed that human beings are nothing more than animals . . . .

Accord-ing to paleoanthropologist Misia Landau, theories of human origins  “far  exceed  what  can  be  inferred  from  the  study of fossils alone and in fact place a heavy burden of inter-pretation on the fossil record – a burden which is relieved by  placing  fossils  into  pre-existing  narrative  structures.”  In  1996,  American  Museum  of  Natural  History  Curator Ian Tattersall acknowledged that “in paleoanthropology, the patterns we perceive are as likely to result from our uncon-scious mindsets as from the evidence itself.”  Arizona State University anthropologist Geoffrey Clark echoed this view in 1997 when he wrote: “We select among alternative sets of research conclusions in accordance with our biases and preconceptions.”  Clark suggested that “paleoanthropology has the form but not the substance of science.”

Biology students and the general public are rarely informed of the deep-seated uncertainty about human ori-gins that is reflected in these statements by scientific experts. Instead, they are simply fed the latest speculation as though it were a fact.  And the speculation is typically illustrated with fanciful drawings of cave men, or pictures of human  actors wearing heavy make-up.

Hard words, but in light of the sort of patterns we have seen ever so often of announced, headlined missing links — found, that turn out to be of much less substance, it is hard to escape the force of the point that Lewontinian materialist faith has more to do with the aura of confident certainty we see than the actual weight of evidence.

It is in this context that I responded to Jaceli123 as follows (in a thread where he subsequently vanished):


>> I will take for a moment, as one slice of the cake with all the ingredients in it, the case illustrated here, an argument from broad-brush homology and reconstruction, which portrays first an ape’s hand compared to a man’s hand, and secondly a compressed sequence of a series of mammals (possibly led off by a reptile with feathers and/or hair) culminating in an ape then an ape-man then possibly a neanderthal then a modern man of caucasoid race.

This is an example of a misleading icon of evolution presented as documented, unquestionable fact.

On stepwise points of thought:

1 –> It is circular to define homology as resemblance due to evolutionary descent — as has often been done, e.g. Wiki: “homology is the existence of shared ancestry between a pair of structures, or genes, in different species. A common example of homologous structures in evolutionary biology are the wings of bats and the arms of primates — then present homology as if it were factual proof of evolution.

2 –> This first fails to highlight that there are ever so many structures that are held to be independently and separately derived, as with the examples of multiple origins of flight, eyes, and echolocation in bats and whales. In short close resemblance is due to ancestry, except where it isn’t. Circularity and special pleading, presented while dressed up in the lab coat.

3 –> Similarly, a major duck-dodge is being done on accounting for the origin of required FSCO/I and particularly genetic info to account for the difference. Just 500 – 1,000 bits worth . . . i.e. 250 – 500 genetic base pairs, taxes the entire capability of blind chance and mechanical necessity across the solar system or the observed cosmos.

4 –> For example it has been commonly said that we are 98% similar in genome to chimps. But 2% of 3 billion base pairs, is 6 * 10^7, or 12 mn bits. And, with reasonable population sizes and generation times, as well as population genetics factors, this would require hundreds of millions of years and up, not the six million or so that are commonly held to be available. Assuming, that there is an incremental path.

5 –> In fact, to transform an ape-like ancestor into a human requires a huge reconstructive job, starting with posture, hanging of the head on the spine, angles of bones, creating linguistic capacity and speech organs co-ordinated with such, and more.

6 –> The number of intermediate steps required is huge, especially if we realise that on empirical genetic evidence, ~ 6 – 7 co-ordinated mutations at a time is an upper empirically plausible limit. So, transitionals from the implied ancestor to both the chimp and the modern man, should dominate the fossil forms and/or still be around. They simply are not — the screaming headlines of the past 150 years starting with Neanderthal, notwithstanding. Nor is the time that would be required. (Never mind convenient distractors on chromosome fusion events and whatnot, these are just red herrings compared to the real and unanswered challenge.)

7 –> Where, just on linguistic and closely linked rational ability, until a Darwinist can explain to you how — on observed empirical evidence not just so stories full of hypotheticals — by chance speech, language, and credible reasoning ability arose and have succeeded in accounting for our minds and their capacities to know, understand, reason and so forth, as well as consciousness, s/he refutes himself every time s/he opens the mouth to speak or keys in words on a keyboard or draws a meaningful drawing, as I discuss in more details in this current thread. A rock has no dreams and GIGO limited computation critically dependent on functionally specific organisation is not equal to conscious rational thought, insight and knowledge.

8 –> the broad-brush Darwinist sequence of reptile to mammal to ape to ape-man to man then collapses for the same basic reasons. There is no credible, properly empirically grounded incrementalist account of how the required body plan transformation changes can happen by blind chance and mechanical necessity without intelligent direction, so it is a strawman caricature — an argument from resemblance that ducks the real challenge of explaining the origin of required functional information of requisite complexity on available material resources and time on the usual timelines. (Cf the more detailed 101 level discussion of OO body plans challenges here on.)

9 –> Where, I again underscore that design theory does not deny common descent or even universal common descent, e.g. cf Behe who accepts UCD. What it highlights is that body plan origins is a case of origin of FSCO/I and often of many irreducibly complex — IC –systems [the two overlap but are not equivalent], and that even granting an ancestral branching tree pattern, this still requires design to account for the underlying information and structures. Until that origin of FSCO/I challenge is satisfactorily answered, the darwinist narrative is little more than, having a priori imposed evolutionary materialism by playing with definition games and caricatures, one then looks at the evidence and asks, what is the best evolutionary materialist account of our cosmos and the world of life, from hydrogen to humans.

10 –> In case you doubt me, here is Harvard prof Richard Lewontin responding to Cornell prof Carl Sagan’s last book:

[T]he problem is to get [people] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis and notes added. If you have been led to imagine that this is "quote mined" kindly see the filler citation and notes here.]

. . . and here is ID thinker Philip Johnson’s well merited rebuke to such tactics:

For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

. . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

11 –> Likewise, a major case in point is the Cambrian revolution, the subject of a current major ID book by Stephen Meyer, Darwin’s Doubt. {Preview here.} Laying all the side tracks and distractors to one side, the basic facts are as Meyer laid them out in his 2004 PBSW paper, which passed proper peer review by “renowned scientists” and was then retracted under the impact of inexcusably abusive political pressure games that inter alia cost the editor of the journal his marriage:

The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the specified complexity or “complex specified information” (CSI) of the biological world. For over three billions years, the biological realm included little more than bacteria and algae (Brocks et al. 1999). Then, beginning about 570-565 million years ago (mya), the first complex multicellular organisms appeared in the rock strata, including sponges, cnidarians, and the peculiar Ediacaran biota (Grotzinger et al. 1995). Forty million years later, the Cambrian explosion occurred (Bowring et al. 1993) . . . One way to estimate the amount of new CSI that appeared with the Cambrian animals is to count the number of new cell types that emerged with them (Valentine 1995:91-93) . . . the more complex animals that appeared in the Cambrian (e.g., arthropods) would have required fifty or more cell types . . . New cell types require many new and specialized proteins. New proteins, in turn, require new genetic information. Thus an increase in the number of cell types implies (at a minimum) a considerable increase in the amount of specified genetic information. Molecular biologists have recently estimated that a minimally complex single-celled organism would require between 318 and 562 kilobase pairs of DNA to produce the proteins necessary to maintain life (Koonin 2000). More complex single cells might require upward of a million base pairs. Yet to build the proteins necessary to sustain a complex arthropod such as a trilobite would require orders of magnitude more coding instructions. The genome size of a modern arthropod, the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, is approximately 180 million base pairs (Gerhart & Kirschner 1997:121, Adams et al. 2000). Transitions from a single cell to colonies of cells to complex animals represent significant (and, in principle, measurable) increases in CSI . . . .

In order to explain the origin of the Cambrian animals, one must account not only for new proteins and cell types, but also for the origin of new body plans . . . Mutations in genes that are expressed late in the development of an organism will not affect the body plan. Mutations expressed early in development, however, could conceivably produce significant morphological change (Arthur 1997:21) . . . [but] processes of development are tightly integrated spatially and temporally such that changes early in development will require a host of other coordinated changes in separate but functionally interrelated developmental processes downstream. For this reason, mutations will be much more likely to be deadly if they disrupt a functionally deeply-embedded structure such as a spinal column than if they affect more isolated anatomical features such as fingers (Kauffman 1995:200) . . . McDonald notes that genes that are observed to vary within natural populations do not lead to major adaptive changes, while genes that could cause major changes–the very stuff of macroevolution–apparently do not vary. In other words, mutations of the kind that macroevolution doesn’t need (namely, viable genetic mutations in DNA expressed late in development) do occur, but those that it does need (namely, beneficial body plan mutations expressed early in development) apparently don’t occur . . .

12 –> In short, once question-begging ideological materialist a prioris are laid aside, there is not a good non question-begging, empirically grounded case on the origin of the main branches of the animal kingdom of life. And this has been so ever since Darwin had to deal with this case and admitted that he had no solid empirical evidence based — as in chains of fossils showing clear transitions across what we now know to be dozens of phyla and subphyla — answer but hoped that future evidence would bear him out.

13 –> Huffing and puffing and dismissals notwithstanding, the future evidence is abundantly in and after 150 years,the problem is worse than in Darwin’s day. If you doubt me, simply ask Nick Matzke et al to provide the chains of observed credibly . . . non question-beggingly . . . dated fossils. Such advocates will not . . . as they cannot. (And, remember, this is across dozens of basic body plans, in a context where the transitionals should be there across hundreds of millions of years worth of rocks.)

14 –> Do not let the Ediacaran fossils, which seem to be further extinct body plans, be used as a distractor: we need to see the chains of fossils, and the empirically grounded observed demonstration of he body-plan originating capacity of Darwinist mechanisms of chance variation and subtraction of less successful varieties to originate the scope of incremental descent with modification leading to body plan level macro-evo, required.

15 –> Nor is this the biggest problem by any means. The real Sunday punch is the origin of life {cf. Meyer’s 2009 Signature in the Cell, nb: debates}, which Darwinists will typically tell you is not part of the theory of evolution. But, as you know it is commonly presented in textbooks with an air of assurance, and it is the root of the whole tree of life. (I speak here in a context where for a full year there was an unmet open challenge to answer to the tree of life here at UD. In the end I had to accept something that simply ducked the root issue and had no solid answer to the sort of challenges laid out above. All the meanwhile the circle of objector and fever swamp sites carried on with business as usual and abuse as usual as though there were no problems.)

16 –> The problem here is that you have to start with chemistry and physics in Darwin’s warm little pond or the like and get to an encapsulated, intelligently gated, metabolising automaton with a code-using self replicating facility, based on aqueous medium Carbon chemistry in a cosmos that is evidently fine tuned for the possibility of such life. Where also, the empirically grounded lower scale of the genome is going to be about 100 – 1,000 k bits. Well beyond the FSCO/I threshold of 500 – 1,0000 bits where empirical evidence and needle in the haystack challenge grounds both say that such organised and functionally specific complexity is a reliable sign of design as cause.

17 –> Even leaving off the fine tuning question — and that is actually the bigger half of the design theory, the key issue is that one cannot appeal to natural selection as there is no reproduction to begin with, that too has to be explained, and explained as to how it begins and is integrated with the sort of encapsulated, gated metabolising entity that has been summarised. Explained, on empirical, observational evidence.

18 –> Which just is not there, leading to a situation where the major schools of thought stand in mutual ruin; each successfully pointing out the fatal flaws in the other. (Cf 101 level details here on.)

19 –> So, from the root of the tree of life, there is good reason to infer to intelligent design, and this continues through the main branches up to the very tips, including human origins.

20 –> That is, in an ideal world ID should sit at the table of biological origins science discussions and education policy discussion, not by sufferance but by right. It does not, because of ideological dominance of materialism, which is actually self refuting. So much so that if you harbour or come to harbour serious doubts about Darwin, I must counsel you to keep quiet about them, until you hold the sort of tenure or stature that Darwinist bullies cannot do you serious harm.>>


One last thing, in my 101 survey of the issues on body plan evo, I closed off with a list of ten questions adapted from Wells’ list:

In light of concerns and limitations of the evidence for macro-evolution, such as the above, Dr. Jonathan Wells has suggested a list of controversial questions students should bear in mind (and, if their teachers are open to it, ask). In slightly softened form:

1] ORIGIN OF LIFE. Why do many textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life’s building blocks may have formed on the early Earth — when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?

2] DARWIN’S TREE OF LIFE. Why don’t textbooks critically discuss the “Cambrian explosion,” in which major animal groups appear together in the fossil record fully formed instead of branching from a common ancestor — thus contradicting the root-and- gradual- branching  picture given by the evolutionary tree of life?

3] HOMOLOGY. Why do textbooks often define homology as similarity due to common ancestry, then claim that it is evidence for common ancestry — isn’t that a circular argument masquerading as  evidence?

4] VERTEBRATE EMBRYOS. Why have some textbooks up to a few years ago still used drawings of similarities in vertebrate embryos as evidence for their common ancestry — even though biologists have known for over a century that vertebrate embryos are not most similar in their early stages, and that Ernst Haeckel’s drawings are faked?

5] ARCHAEOPTERYX. Why do some textbooks portray this fossil as the missing link between dinosaurs and modern birds — even though modern birds are probably not descended from it, and its supposed ancestors do not appear until millions of years after it?

6] PEPPERED MOTHS. Why do some textbooks use pictures of peppered moths camouflaged on tree trunks as evidence for natural selection — when biologists have known since the 1980s that the moths don’t normally rest on tree trunks, and all the pictures have been staged?

7] DARWIN’S FINCHES. Why do some textbooks claim that beak changes in Galapagos finches during a severe drought can explain the origin of species by natural selection — even though the changes were reversed after the drought ended, and no net evolution occurred?

8] MUTANT FRUIT FLIES. Why do some textbooks use fruit flies with an extra pair of wings as evidence that DNA mutations can supply raw materials for evolution — even though the extra wings have no muscles and these disabled mutants cannot survive outside the laboratory?

9] HUMAN ORIGINS. Why are artists’ drawings of ape-like humans commonly used to justify materialistic claims that we are just animals and our existence is a mere accident — when fossil experts cannot even agree on who our supposed ancestors were or what they looked like?

10] EVOLUTION A FACT? Why are we sometimes told that Darwin’s theory of evolution is a scientific “fact” — even though (a) we cannot actually directly observe the remote past as it actually was,  (b) many of the claims are arguably based on the assumption that “blind watchmaker” evolution is true, or (c) on facts that could also be effectively explained based on common design?

Of course, such questions are provocative, and while they should be borne in mind, they should only be raised respectfully, and with due caution . . .

So, now, what should we conclude in this new year of our Lord, 2014? Why? On what grounds? With what warrant?

Again, a happy new year to all. END

PS, Jan 5: I have directed Jaceli123 to the following basic and somewhat more involved readings, to help him or her find a way to become a tub standing on its own intellectual bottom:

B1: Straight thinking 101

B2: Fixing the problem of rhetorical or agit-prop spin-tactics “everywhere”

B3: Understanding basics of scientific methods and approaches, beyond what is in B1.

I1: Setting out on building a worldview (sorry, you have opened that can of worms)

I2: Basic philosophical thinking tool kit

I3: A Critical survey of origins science informed by a design perspective.

In addition, I suggest that the list of units linked from I3 — the intro-summary for the IOSE critical survey of origins science, may help sort out a range of issues connected to origins science, evolutionism and design theory:

this independent origins science course – bearing in mind various perspectives and controversies — will seek to clarify and discuss the decisive scientific facts, theories, ideas, issues and alternatives on origins, regarding:

1] Overview and significance of origins Science ideas and issues – Origins Science as the scientifically informed study and reconstruction of our “roots,” from hydrogen to humans. Thus, its inextricable connections to worldview level issues and scientific methods issues. Can we scientifically reconstruct a deep past that we did not observe, based on traces in our present? If so, with what degree of credibility or certainty? What may we then conclude from, for instance, the apparent fine-tuning of the observed cosmos for cell-based life? Or, from the role that complex, code-based, functionally specific information plays in such life?
2] Cosmological origins — setting the stage for cell-based life, through
reconstructed origins of the apparently fine-tuned cosmos, galaxies and stars, and solar systems origins; associated modelling of the past of the cosmos and questions on dating and timelines. What is the key empirical evidence, and how reliable are such reconstructions and timelines?
3] The origin of life — classical and current views on Origin of Life, in light of the origination of complex functionally specific information required to create self-replicating, cell based life. The key challenge: where did functionally specific, code-based complex biological information – e.g. the genetic code, the amino acid sequences of proteins — come from?
4] The origin of biodiversity — Major historic and current views on, theories of, and models for the origin of body plan level biodiversity; issues over chance, necessity and design, and alternatives. Are “icons” of evolution and the action of chance variation and natural selection able to answer the question of where complex body-plan originating biological information comes from?
5] Origin of mind the nature and roots of mind, with associated issues on the significance of morality. Does mind reduce to neurological matter in electrochemical “motion” under forces tracing to chance and necessity? If so, what are the grounds of knowledge, reasoning and moral principles? If not, what would that imply about the nature of mind, morality and humanity?
6] Origins Science in Society — Implications of alternative views on origins of the cosmos, of life and of man for morality, policy, law and society. Since “ideas have consequences,” what are the consequences of the rise and dominance of evolutionary materialism in our civilisation? In light of the balance of the science, the opinion-shaping stories and the power-plays, what should we then do? How, why?

I trust these onward readings may help the perplexed begin to find solid footing.