Biologos, Valiant Defender of Common Descent
|March 15, 2011||Posted by William Dembski under Evolution, Darwinism|
Kathryn Applegate writes a long post at Biologos purporting to refute a short observation of mine here at UD, namely, my post about Craig Venter challenging Richard Dawkins over common descent.
Most of her post does not merit response, but I will note the following:
(1) Yes, I did carefully view the video in question.
(2) To talk about a “bush of life” is to deny, or at least question, common descent: the geometry of a bush is fundamentally different from the geometry of a tree, which has one main trunk; a bush, by contrast suggests multiple “origins.”
(3) In line with the last point, Venter agrees that life on earth is all of the same genetically based type (we’re not doing “astrobiology” when we investigate microbial species from different domains); and yet that commonality, he is suggesting, is not the result of common ancestry but of some sort of convergence.
(4) Applegate suggests that such an admission, if I am accurately representing it, would be big news; but since it hasn’t been reported, therefore I must be mistaken. Let me suggest that the reason it isn’t big news is because the Darwin industry has a vast number of worker bees, like Applegate, who will trot out the party line whenever common descent is called into question.
(5) Where is Venter getting his doubts about common descent? Probably from origin-of-life researchers like Carl Woese. Over five years ago, I posted at UD a Chicago Tribune interview with Woese by Ronald Kotulak (8 Jan 2006):
“Woese next went after a big stumbling block in classical evolution,” writes Kotulak. “Darwin’s doctrine postulated that all living things eventually could be traced back to a single founding cell.” Woese says No — life could have started “millions of times,” and no single cell was ancestral to all organisms on Earth.
Would Applegate concede that Woese is here denying, or at least calling into question, common descent?
(6) Applegate cites Osawa and Jukes to the effect that “it is even understood mechanistically how the variations [in the genetic code] came about.” This claim is absurd. Researchers like Osawa have some speculative hypotheses, bereft of detail, that cloak vast ignorance. There are no detailed testable models of how the variations in the genetic code may have arisen under common descent.
(7) Finally, I have no dog in this fight. If common descent were true and well supported scientifically, I could make my peace with it. My beef, and that of the ID community, is with non-teleological mechanisms like natural selection being invoked by Darwinists as designer substitutes. But common descent is, for Darwinists, the Great Wall of China that protects natural selection, and that wall must itself be kept secure. Applegate’s post at Biologos is therefore entirely predictable.