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Dawkins’ Latest Book Sees Criticism of Evolution in Same Vein as Holocaust Denial

The TimesOnline (go here) has an extract from Dawkins’ latest book, THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH. Here’s an extract of the extract:

…Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips . . . continue the list as long as desired. That didn’t have to be true. It is not self-evidently, tautologically, obviously true, and there was a time when most people, even educated people, thought it wasn’t. It didn’t have to be true, but it is. We know this because a rising flood of evidence supports it. Evolution is a fact, and [my] book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.

Why, then, do we speak of “Darwin’s theory of evolution”, thereby, it seems, giving spurious comfort to those of a creationist persuasion — the history-deniers, the 40-percenters — who think the word “theory” is a concession, handing them some kind of gift or victory? Evolution is a theory in the same sense as the heliocentric theory. In neither case should the word “only” be used, as in “only a theory”. As for the claim that evolution has never been “proved”, proof is a notion that scientists have been intimidated into mistrusting.

Influential philosophers tell us we can’t prove anything in science.

Mathematicians can prove things — according to one strict view, they are the only people who can — but the best that scientists can do is fail to disprove things while pointing to how hard they tried. Even the undisputed theory that the Moon is smaller than the Sun cannot, to the satisfaction of a certain kind of philosopher, be proved in the way that, for example, the Pythagorean Theorem can be proved. But massive accretions of evidence support it so strongly that to deny it the status of “fact” seems ridiculous to all but pedants. The same is true of evolution. Evolution is a fact in the same sense as it is a fact that Paris is in the northern hemisphere. Though logic-choppers rule the town,* some theories are beyond sensible doubt, and we call them facts. The more energetically and thoroughly you try to disprove a theory, if it survives the assault, the more closely it approaches what common sense happily calls a fact.

We are like detectives who come on the scene after a crime has been committed. The murderer’s actions have vanished into the past.

The detective has no hope of witnessing the actual crime with his own eyes. What the detective does have is traces that remain, and there is a great deal to trust there. There are footprints, fingerprints (and nowadays DNA fingerprints too), bloodstains, letters, diaries. The world is the way the world should be if this and this history, but not that and that history, led up to the present.

Evolution is an inescapable fact, and we should celebrate its astonishing power, simplicity and beauty. Evolution is within us, around us, between us, and its workings are embedded in the rocks of aeons past. Given that, in most cases, we don’t live long enough to watch evolution happening before our eyes, we shall revisit the metaphor of the detective coming upon the scene of a crime after the event and making inferences. The aids to inference that lead scientists to the fact of evolution are far more numerous, more convincing, more incontrovertible, than any eyewitness reports that have ever been used, in any court of law, in any century, to establish guilt in any crime. Proof beyond reasonable doubt? Reasonable doubt? That is the understatement of all time…

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135 Responses to Dawkins’ Latest Book Sees Criticism of Evolution in Same Vein as Holocaust Denial

  1. After quick scan of the excerpt, I don’t see that Dawkins is drawing a moral equivalence between science denialism and Holocaust denialism. Let us pause to observe that, in contrast, ID’s media campaign does attempt to pin responsibility for the Holocaust itself–not merely revisionist history, but the actual murders–on biologists.

  2. 2

    Dawkins has slipped badly here by inviting his readers to consider the crime scene analogy. That analogy plays right into the hands of ID. The police detective’s essential task it to detect the presence or absence of design.

  3. So Dawkins whole book can be summed down to “Evolution is a fact, inescapable fact, it’s the truth, undeniable truth, better believe it or you are stupid or insane”.

    Sounds like brainwashing to me.

    Just repeat after me:
    Evolution is a fact
    Evolution is a fact
    Evolution is a fact
    Evolution is a fact
    Evolution is a fact
    Evolution is a fact
    Evolution is a fact
    Evolution is a fact
    Evolution is a fact

  4. Good point, Barry.

    What’s more, many of ID’s critics are demanding a burden of proof on design detection far beyond what we are used to in determining cause of death. When is a crime scene investigator ever forced to name the murderer and his motives before the evidence for the death being deliberate can be considered? Once a medical examiner demonstrates that a death is consistent with deliberate cause based on scientific observation of the body an the scene of the death, and on the historical body of knowledge on what things cause death, how easy is it to dismiss this design inference by saying he’s given up on finding some as-yet-undescribed natural cause?

  5. landru:

    Once a medical examiner demonstrates that a death is consistent with deliberate cause based on scientific observation of the body an the scene of the death, and on the historical body of knowledge on what things cause death, how easy is it to dismiss this design inference by saying he’s given up on finding some as-yet-undescribed natural cause?

    It’s easy if he’s also given up on finding the unnatural phenomenon responsible.

    The murder of one human being by another with a knife is a known phenomenon, unlike the proposed phenomenon of design. The “historical body of knowledge on what things cause death” (or in this case, cause life) is irrelevant to ID. Beyond “design, not evolution, of complex forms”, no claims have been made that are agreed upon throughout the ID community.

  6. I saw a recent video of Dawkins, and I must say, the man’s starting to look as nutty as he sounds.

  7. The engineering of a digital error correction system is a known phenomenon.

  8. The murder of one human being by another with a knife is a known phenomenon, unlike the proposed phenomenon of design.

    Not only the act itself, but also the various methods by which the act was accomplished. MEs don’t ask just “was a murder committed,” but rather, “how did this person die?” An ME’s report that could not connect the cause of death with the proposed method of murder would not be credible in court, or otherwise. This makes it a poor analogy to ID, which rejects any attempt to analyze the methods and techniques of design.

    A more analogous situation, although still strained, would be a mathematician or computer scientist arriving at an incident scene that has already been thoroughly studied and well-documented by trained professionals, who unanimously concluded that death was by natural causes. Having given the scene a cursory examination, the new arrival declares that the death could not possibly have occurred by natural causes, but that she has no idea how the murder was committed, and she will not attempt to find out. Moreover, she announces, the investigators who preceded her are moral monsters whose materialism caused the Holocaust. Few professionals would take this conclusion seriously.

  9. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips . . . continue the list as long as desired.

    This is a strawman. Who is disputing this? I am a Christian and I certainly believe that humans are related to chimpanzees and manatees. The DNA evidence for this is irrefutable. I believe in it for the same reason that I believe that Windows 7 is related to Windows 95. I still don’t see how that supports Darwinian evolution.

  10. Are there really people in this very blog entry denying the process of design and instead pleading to what amounts to magic (ascribing supernatural attributes to nature)? Is this the level of self-delusional poppycock that Darwinists have stooped to? I’ll have to agree with Jerry, the anti-I.D. arguments are absolutely pathetic. No wonder you people have to resort to censorship.

    Anyways, this is what I’ve gathered from about 18 months of following this debate:

    Microevolution is as proven as the law of gravity; Both are observable in real-time thus both can be said to be fact (as far as anything can be said to be fact). No one disputes this, not even the six-day creationists.

    Macroevolution is as proven as the big bang; neither can be observed in real-time, thus neither can be said to be fact. However both have enough evidence supporting them that they’re perfectly valid conclusions, although neither are absolute certainties. (for the record, I would put I.D. in this category as well)

    Darwinian Evolution (Darwinism) is valid on a small-scale (micro) basis, but on a large-scale (macro) basis is as unproven as astrology; both have little to no supporting evidence and plenty of opposing evidence (inconsistent fossil record, mutation rates, genetic entropy, etc.). Just like rational people abandoned astrology, we’re now seeing rational people abandon Darwinism. There are those that still cling to a belief in astrology (Miss Cleo, for financial reasons) just as there are those that still cling to a belief in Darwinism (Richard Dawkins, for religious reasons). That will likely never change.

    Would you more knowledgeable folks say these are pretty accurate descriptions? If not, in what ways would you say they could be corrected?

  11. Yeah, Dawkins is losing it. Just a matter of time now…

  12. The more Dawkins insists that evolution is “fact,” the less I am convinced. He comes off as a childish brat, kicking and screaming that no one will believe him.

  13. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips . . . continue the list as long as desired.

    Common ancestry ipso facto neo-Darwinism is a non sequitur. Common ancestry does not disprove ID in the least. Common ancestry does not establish neo-Darwinism as its cause in the least.

  14. Lenoxus:

    The murder of one human being by another with a knife is a known phenomenon, unlike the proposed phenomenon of design.

    Like what planet are you from? How the heck do you think your computer got there — by neo-Darwinian evolution.

    Oh, I know, you were referring to biology by design. However, your satatement overreaches badly enough that it is invalid on its face.

  15. Wait, did someone here just say that the phenomenon of design is not known? Holy schnikeys, the Darwinist position has become self-parodying of late.

    When you wrote that the phenomenon of design is not known, did you use the well-known phenomenon of language design to express that belief?

  16. Dawkins immediately confuses “evolution” (change over time) with “Darwinism” (RM + NS)and gets no more precise from there. He compares the evidence for evolution as being equal to that for the Holocaust, then decries the “history-deniers”. It’s reasonable to interpret that to mean “Holocaust-deniers” given his imprecise language.

    By the way, for what it’s worth, I think ShawnBoy nailed it.

  17. “The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust.”

    So, um, who are the eyewitnesses who saw the evolution of a fish from a marine animal to a land-dwelling animal? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

  18. 18

    Evolution must be in dire straits if Dawkins requires all this rhetoric to make a case.

  19. It all sounds a bit hysterical to me, and well below Dawkins’s usual standard of writing.

  20. “ShawnBoy” (#9) asks: “Are there really people in this very blog entry denying the process of design and instead pleading to what amounts to magic (ascribing supernatural attributes to nature)?

    Yes, I will admit to denying the likelihood of the process of design as proposed by intelligent design proponents. I prefer “design” by natural variation, random mutation and natural selection over deep time as making far more sense than design by the supernatural anonymous invisible intelligent designer (who almost everybody unofficially admits is actually the Creator God of Genesis).

    “ShawnBoy” continued (possibly quoting): “Macroevolution is as proven as the big bang; neither can be observed in real-time, thus neither can be said to be fact. ” So nothing unobservable in real-time can be a fact? You don’t do astronomy, astrophysics or cosmology, do you? Are you denying the factuality of astronomy?

    Accepting microevolution but denying macroevolution is like accepting teaspoons but denying gallons; accepting inches but denying miles. Most actual scientists just use “evolution,” not using the terms microevolution and macroevolution, as eventually enough iterations of microevolution become macroevolution.

  21. When ID is asked to define complexity, shouldn’t the same be asked of Darwinists, to define randomity?

    Little off topic but just occurred to me.

  22. For the benefit of readers, I’d like to contrast Professor Dawkins’ bald statement that although “in most cases, we don’t live long enough to watch evolution happening before our eyes,” nevertheless “[t]he aids to inference that lead scientists to the fact of evolution are far more numerous, more convincing, more incontrovertible, than any eyewitness reports that have ever been used, in any court of law, in any century, to establish guilt in any crime,” with the more measured remarks recently made by Professor Richard C. Lewontin in The New York Review of Books (Volume 56, Number 9, May 28, 2009), in a book review entitled “Why Darwin?” (see http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22694 ):

    Coyne is an evolutionary biologist who, like his former student H. Allen Orr, has been a leader in our understanding of the genetic changes that occur when species are formed. His primary object in writing this book [Why Evolution Is True - VJT] is to present the incontrovertible evidence that evolution is a physical fact of the history of life on earth. In referring to the theory of evolution he makes it clear that we do not mean the weak sense of “theory,” an ingenious tentative mental construct that might or might not be objectively true, but the strong sense of a coherent set of true assertions about physical reality. In this he is entirely successful.

    Where he is less successful, as all other commentators have been, is in his insistence that the evidence for natural selection as the driving force of evolution is of the same inferential strength as the evidence that evolution has occurred. So, for example, he gives the game away by writing that when we examine a sequence of changes in the fossil record, we can

    determine whether the sequences of changes at least conform to a step-by-step adaptive process. And in every case, we can find at least a feasible Darwinian explanation.

    But to say that some example is not falsification of a theory because we can always “find” (invent) a feasible explanation says more about the flexibility of the theory and the ingenuity of its supporters than it says about physical nature. Indeed in his later discussion of theories of behavioral evolution he becomes appropriately skeptical when he writes that

    imaginative reconstructions of how things might have evolved are not science; they are stories.

    While this is a perfectly good argument against those who claim that there are things that are so complex that evolutionary biology cannot explain them, it allows evolutionary “theory” to fall back into the category of being reasonable but not an incontrovertible material fact.

    There is, of course, nothing that Coyne can do about the situation. There are different modes of “knowing,” and we “know” that evolution has, in fact, occurred in a stronger sense than we “know” that some sequence of evolutionary change has been the result of natural selection. Despite these misgivings, it is the case that Coyne’s book is the best general explication of evolution that I know of and deserves its success as a best seller. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

    Many ID theorists, including Professor Michael Behe, readily accept common descent. If Professor Dawkins wants to argue for common descent then the ID community has no quarrel with him. However, evolutionary mechanisms are another matter.

    In his critique of ID, Learned Hand (#8) made the following comment on the act of murder, used by Dawkins to illustrate his case for evolution:

    Not only the act itself, but also the various methods by which the act was accomplished. MEs don’t ask just “was a murder committed,” but rather, “how did this person die?” An ME’s report that could not connect the cause of death with the proposed method of murder would not be credible in court, or otherwise. This makes it a poor analogy to ID, which rejects any attempt to analyze the methods and techniques of design.

    I think it should now be clear that LearnedHand’s criticism is wide of the mark. As the above quote from Professor Lewontin shows, at the present time, we do not know for a fact that the “method” proposed by contemporary evolutionists (i.e. natural selection) is adequate to generate the diversity of life on earth. LearnedHand’s criticism that the mechanism of ID is unknown is equally telling against neo-Darwinism, where the mechanism is known, but its capacity to produce large scale changes, over a very long term, remains open to reasonable doubt.

  23. Berceuse and any other takers,

    The more Dawkins insists that evolution is “fact,” the less I am convinced. He comes off as a childish brat, kicking and screaming that no one will believe him.
    </blockquote
    Suppose he took a less strident tone, and instead wrote this:

    Despite some remaining puzzles, there’s no reason to doubt that Darwin had this point right, that all creatures on earth are biological relatives.

    What would your reaction be then?

  24. Oops, blockquote fail. Here’s a corrected version:

    The more Dawkins insists that evolution is “fact,” the less I am convinced. He comes off as a childish brat, kicking and screaming that no one will believe him.

    Suppose he took a less strident tone, and instead wrote this:

    Despite some remaining puzzles, there’s no reason to doubt that Darwin had this point right, that all creatures on earth are biological relatives.

    What would your reaction be then?

  25. To yakky d,

    I think the reaction would be that the statement is correct, but so limited that its of little value. All humans are (ultimately) ‘related’ but how does this help us understand anything ?

    The power of evolution is that it makes sense of the the ‘relatedness’, in that it enable us to organize all of life into a tree, so we can also tell who are our closer and who the more distant ‘relatives’.

  26. yakky d,

    Same as it is now. Show me the money.

  27. Of course evolution is a fact. Things are not now as they once were, so evolution has taken place by definition, and is a fact.

    I’ve evolved. I was once a little baby, and now I’m a great big baby.

    …we should celebrate [evolution's]…simplicity…

    Say what? There is nothing simple about complex information-processing machinery. (Yes, I know, he thinks that random errors with the bad mistakes being thrown out and the good mistakes being kept around explains everything, and that’s simple. It is simple, but it’s also naive, except in the cases of the utterly trivial.)

    Dawkins is still fighting those who propose that the universe is 6,000 years old and that humans coexisted with dinosaurs. He is simply a dinosaur himself, and has no comprehension of the challenges presented by ID, the discoveries of modern molecular biology, or information theory.

    As Phil Johnson once quipped (in good humor about Will Provine), Dawkins is one of the great minds of the 19th century.

  28. Of course this long debate betrays personal feelings beyond rationality. Beliefs of a defender of one side may slightly tremble inside when touched by the opponents. When emotions come along, it’s expected that people on the discussion table will stand up and start to cry. yakky d’s comment remembers that both sides should sit down and find a solution as civilized men. Feeling highly unsecured like Dawkins will lead nowhere. ID defenders must always be ready to acknowledge and cite darwinist’s correct assertions as well. After all, isn’t it the truth that we must reach? Or it’s the success of our ideologies?

  29. Graham,

    I think the reaction would be that the statement is correct, but so limited that its of little value. All humans are (ultimately) ‘related’ but how does this help us understand anything ?

    I think those here who dispute common descent would object to the statement I posted above. Of course some would be ok with it as well.

  30. vjtorley:

    LearnedHand’s criticism that the mechanism of ID is unknown is equally telling against neo-Darwinism, where the mechanism is known, but its capacity to produce large scale changes, over a very long term, remains open to reasonable doubt.

    I wonder, could the mechanism of ID be thought of inversely so — that is, we know that “design” is capable of large scale changes, but we don’t know how (mechanistically) it does them?

  31. To Edson,

    I think Dawkins point is that appeasement isnt part of science. If the evidence supports an idea, then watering it down to keep everyone happy is just a cop out.
    Evolution is so widely supported by the evidence that its really the only game in town. Thats why the science community (and yes, with a few exceptions) accepts it. If, for eg, the geological evidence showed no change over time, we wouldnt have a subject called ‘evolution’, but we do and we do.

    Dawkins sounds strident, simply because he is uncompromising in his refusal to placate some special interest groups.

  32. Hmm, common descent without evolution, common descent without evolution…

    *chews on pencil*

    Non-random mutation all the way? Whaddya say, gang?

    What non-naturalistic means does it take to, say, get a whale from a land-going creature?

    Cuz I think all those ‘cetuses are pretty awesome and don’t want to see them ignored.

  33. 33

    The more they talk the more thay make Corenelius Hunter’s point.

    They (Dawkins and his tribe) are not driven by empiricism, they are driven only (only) by their need to do away with the Divine. Apparently, for them, the facts of biology lead to a spooky ghost that haunts them in having their own way with the world.

    Recently on UD there was another such article posted; one linking out to a peer-reviewed paper. The author of the paper commented in the article that they could show how this and that could happen “without any need for Divine intervention”. Oops.

    The same applies to the self-assured thimbleriggers here on UD. Diffy can’t have a conversation if all the possibilities are on the table. Emotionally speaking, it’s simply too much to ask of him. He must (without exception) rig the outcome prior to the start. Dave Whisker musters his intellect and happily steps off into the same revine. His imagination flys with eviable ease past any empirically-based chemical challenge to his speculations (read: conclusions). Formose reaction? Who cares! Nucleic acids and sugars forming alongside amino acids? Who cares! Reverse transcription? Who cares! What templating might be used to perform such a thing? Who cares! In his estimation, the explanations only start after the conclusions have been made. The details (particularly those that have any viable explanatory value) matter not in the least. The only thing that’s truly important – is the conclusion.

    The reason is always the same: “anything but design”

  34. 34

    Graham,

    “Evolution is so widely supported by the evidence that its really the only game in town”

    A perfect example.

    You DO KNOW, that ID is not specifically about evolution, right?

    Dawkin’s repeated conflation is con-job.

    Dawkins isn’t “strident” because he wishes to caringly cajole the public herd for their own good. He is a intellectual coward, wanting no one to go anywhere that he might find he is as wrong as the evidence suggests.

  35. Indeed, the “just not” story.

  36. To Upright Biped,

    We meet again.

    Id is not about evolution ?
    Eh ?
    Are we on the same planet here ?

  37. 37

    Graham,

    Don’t be coy, its hardly your best suit.

    You know that ID is about recognizing the observational design instantiated within living things.

    The fact that organisms can adapt and change within an environment is hardly the issue.

  38. Upright Biped,

    ID is about recognizing design

    Yeah, right.
    Remember Dover ?, the wedge document ?. Dont be coy now.

  39. 39

    Graham,

    ID is based on evidence contained within such studies as:

    Abiogenesis
    Genetic Instructions
    Irreducible Complexity
    Cellular Orgainization
    Functional Specificity
    Biological Information
    Ect…
    - – - –

    Which of these empirical disciplines deals with political trials regarding grammar school teaching standards?

    If it is in none of them, then the demarcation should be apparent.

  40. Graham,

    Yeah, right.
    Remember Dover ?, the wedge document ?. Dont be coy now.

    Yeah, don’t be coy about the Jewish, Muslim, agnostic and atheistic ID advocates now.

  41. To Upright Biped,

    Some of the items on the list are a bit vague (eg: Genetic instructions), but some I recognize, eg: Irreducible Complexity (Behe) and Functional Spcificity (Dembski ?). The stuff from these 2 authors, at least, has been pretty well shredded by the scientific/mathematical community (eg: Dembskys NFL fiasco, written in Jello).

    Theres a reason that its all been published in popular books, rather than the usual scientific publishing route.

    I can only repeat: Dover.

  42. 42

    Graham,

    “I can only repeat: Dover.”

    Well you are certainly welcome to repeat whatever nonsense comes to your mind. Empirically speaking though, you have an empty bag where the balls go. Even though you can say you’ve slayed the dragon, all you’ve actually done is ignored it. That suffices for many, and you too can be one of them.

    If you decide you want back in the game, you might try:

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.g.....id=1208958

    or

    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247

    Let me know what the authors have wrong.

  43. Hi Denyse,

    It all sounds a bit hysterical to me, and well below Dawkins’s usual standard of writing.

    I’m (mostly) skeptical of the ID/UD position, and this statement piques my interest. Which of Dawkins’s writings do you recommend as representing his usual (or even better) standard of writing?

  44. To Upright Biped,

    My previous posting was a bit fruity and is ‘awaiting moderation’, so I dont know if you will ever see it.

    In the meantime, I followed both links and both lead to papers prepared as part of the Origin-of-Life Foundation. The lead author David Abels is the director. If you go there you will see, um, a religious site. Its even got an appeal to the 2nd law of Thermodynamics. Yep, its all there.

    So, Jones got it right at Dover. Scratch ID and you uncover religion. Its always there, just beneath the surface.

    Maybe Abels paper is great stuff, but its a credibility thing.

  45. landru wrote @ 4:

    When is a crime scene investigator ever forced to name the murderer and his motives before the evidence for the death being deliberate can be considered?

    Excellent point.

    I saw an episode of “Cold Case Files” recently in which a woman’s death had previously been ruled a suicide but it was later proved that she had been murdered. This was the result of the development of a new body of knowledge – blood spatter analysis – which wasn’t available at the time of her death.

    And that’s the thing; if you’re going to correctly determine the cause of any historical event you have to know everything, absolutely everything, about how such events may occur. If you don’t know absolutely everything then you might guess right but you might also guess wrong because you are committing the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent.

    All this blather about “overwhelming” evidence for macroevolution is just that, blather. The reason is that after a hundred years of irradiating and otherwise stressing fruit flies, and a few decades less of studying the Galapagos finches, what we know about microevolution gives no comfort to those who want to believe that one living thing can turn into something completely different. No mechanism has been identified that can do the job of turning a single living cell into every other living creature that now exists or has ever existed.

    I think Dawkins has cut his own throat with this analogy because he is admitting that how people put together the story of macroevolution has nothing to do with experimentation and everything to do with logic and court room tactics. That is, it’s not science; it’s merely a logically fallacious argument based on the presupposition that matter is all there is.

  46. Janice:

    No mechanism has been identified that can do the job of turning a single living cell into every other living creature that now exists or has ever existed.

    I wonder, at what point in the process of its evolution would a species make the mistake of looking down and hence fall, Warner-Brothers-cartoon style? Hmm…

  47. OK, here’s an actual response to the quoted bit:

    No mechanism has been identified that can do the job of turning a single living cell into every other living creature that now exists or has ever existed.

    No mechanism, huh? Well, I guess that rules out ID!

  48. Lenoxus,

    Design is a mechanism.

    Also directed mutations and artificial selection are two specific design mechanisms.

    Also there is a peer-reviewed paper tat tells us there isn’t enough time in the universe for non-telic processes to operate.

  49. Graham,

    Dover?

    The trial in which the judge wouldn’t let the publisher defend its book?

    The book that was the center-piece of the anti-IDists?

    The trial in which the judge didn’t listen to the ID experts rather he listened to the people who have an anti-ID agenda?

    That trial?

    Ya see it is also a fact that ID is not anti-evolution.

    However it has become obvious that no one outside of ID understands that fact.

  50. Joseph:

    Also directed mutations and artificial selection are two specific design mechanisms.

    Interestingly, I’ve never heard artificial selection put forth as an ID hypothesis before. Huh. Food for thought.

    As for directed mutation, I’d love to see a paper or study that estimates what percentage of mutations are directed. That’s probably a tall order right now, given how relatively little we’ve sequenced so far.

  51. Oh, and what is this peer-reviewed paper you’ve been referring to lately?

  52. I think it should now be clear that LearnedHand’s criticism is wide of the mark. As the above quote from Professor Lewontin shows, at the present time, we do not know for a fact that the “method” proposed by contemporary evolutionists (i.e. natural selection) is adequate to generate the diversity of life on earth.

    I think you’re overstating Lewontin’s argument, but even under your reading, please note the sharp distinction between the approaches the scientific community and the ID community take towards studying biology. Lewontin is discussing the state of scientists’ knowledge regarding the mechanisms of evolution, which is the subject of diverse theories, experiments, tests, arguments, debates, etc. ID refuses investigate the mechanisms of design. Why is that?

  53. About evolution, Dawkins writes: “No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.” Note the clever ad hominem argument here. If you’re a scientist and you have doubts about evolution, then you’re “disreputable” (Mike Behe, take note!). If you read the book and have doubts, you’re “biased” (I guess that would include me and all the other UD ops). (Yawn)….we’ve heard all this before…<i.ad nauseum.

  54. About evolution, Dawkins writes: “No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.” Note the clever ad hominem argument here.

    This is not an ad hominem. You may read it as an insult, but an ad hominem argument is something different.

  55. PaulBurnett in #20 writes:

    Accepting microevolution but denying macroevolution is like accepting teaspoons but denying gallons; accepting inches but denying miles. Most actual scientists just use “evolution,” not using the terms microevolution and macroevolution, as eventually enough iterations of microevolution become macroevolution.

    Hi Paul, I need to point out that this argument does not work becuase it committs the fallacy of begging the question. Whether or not micro evolution leads to macro evolution is precisely the point at issue. Here, you are merely assuming it to be true, thus assuming the consequent of your consequent of your argument.

    The analogies of teaspoons to gallons or inches to miles doesn’t work either, because in those instances we can actually observe those accumulations and measurements. Whether or not we can with respect to biological systems is, again, precisely the point at issue.

    I know of no one who has ever demonstrated “beyond a reasonable doubt” that observed small scale adaptations and changes (microevlution) accumulate to large scale macroevolutionary changes above the species level. Its widely speculated upon and often just assumed, but where has it ever been acutally demonstrated? By whom? In what peer reviewed scientific journal were these findings reported? These questions form the heart of much of the debate. One cannot just assume that micro leads to macro evolution. That is begging the question!

  56. Lenoxus,

    I would love to read the paper that demonstrates all mutations are genetic accidents.

    The paper I have been referencing:

    Waiting for Two Mutations: With Applications to Regulatory Sequence Evolution and the Limits of Darwinian Evolution

    The paper was an attempt to refute Dr Behe’s “Edge of Evolution” but on closer inspection actually substantiated his claim.

  57. Learned Hand

    This is not an ad hominem. You may read it as an insult, but an ad hominem argument is something different.

    No it isn’t. An ad hominem argument takes the basic form of

    Person A makes claim X
    There is something objectionable about Person A
    Therefore claim X is false

    (from Wikipedia)

    Applied to Dawkins’s claim then, person A, a scientist, reads Dawkins’s book and still doubts evolution. That scientist must be disreputable then, because no “reputable ” scientist doubts evolution. Therefore A’s doubts about evolution must be false, and can therefore be dismissed as coming from a disreputable source. The same applies to the non-scientist reader who still doubts – they’re biased.

    It’s a perfect example of ad hominem. I’ve seen this same claim made in other ways. In one case the ID critic maintained that he had never met anyone who both understood and rejected evolution. Thus any objection raised against evolution is the result of the critic being uninformed, ignorant, uneducated, too thick to get it, etc etc. A cleverly disguiesed ad homimem, but an ad hominem none-the-less. Dawkins has essentially done the same here.

  58. Learned Hand,

    The specific mechanism of design:

    In the absence of direct observation or designer input, the only possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer(s) or the specific process(es) used is by studying the design in question.

    IOW the designer(s) and the process(es) are separate questions.

    Stonehenge- design determined then many years of investigation to try to figure out the who and how.

  59. Accepting micro but rejecting macro is like saying I can drive my car to the store but I can’t drive it to the Moon.

    It is just obvious they aren’t connected.

  60. The aids to inference that lead scientists to the fact of evolution are far more numerous, more convincing, more incontrovertible, than any eyewitness reports that have ever been used, in any court of law, in any century, to establish guilt in any crime.

    This has to be one of the most ludicrous, lunatic statements ever to form on the lips of any respected ‘scientist’ in all history.

    An eye witness at a murder trial might say, “I saw the defendant pull out his gun and shoot the victim 3 times in the chest”
    Then 3 other proved eye witnesses say the same thing, backed by the smoking gun, the bullets etc etc.

    There 100′s of such court cases wherein no shadow of doubt remained as to the events.

    So Dawkins is now claiming that NDE has better than eye witness testimony?!

    The man is insane and I swear I heard the pulpit thunderously being pounded to shreds while I read it.

    Still in one sense, one must thank God for poor Richard – he’s doing more damage to NDE’s credibility than his “formidable intellect” (from the book cover) could ever fathom.

  61. Applied to Dawkins’s claim then, person A, a scientist, reads Dawkins’s book and still doubts evolution. That scientist must be disreputable then, because no “reputable ” scientist doubts evolution. Therefore A’s doubts about evolution must be false, and can therefore be dismissed as coming from a disreputable source. The same applies to the non-scientist reader who still doubts – they’re biased.

    Would you mind pointing out where, exactly, you are reading that part of Dawkins’ essay? I don’t see anything in his writing arguing that because dissenters are disreputable, therefore their arguments are wrong.

  62. It is just obvious they aren’t connected.

    “It is just obvious” is a powerful argument, especially with laypeople. Obvious, however, is not synonymous with true. The fact that obvious inferences are often wrong is why biologists test their ideas, and their colleagues’ ideas. ID’s reliance on “obvious” inferences, and reluctance to engage in any testing of its ideas, is one reason why Dawkins can credibly accuse IDists of being unserious.

  63. PaulB says:

    Accepting microevolution but denying macroevolution is like accepting teaspoons but denying gallons; accepting inches but denying miles.

    To back up your claim, Paul, would you say that the following items are a process of microevolution:

    1. Darwin’s finch beaks.

    2. Peppered moth coloration.

    3. Labrador retrievers and other modern dog breeds.

    You may add some other examples if you wish.

  64. Learned hand:

    Would you list the items in the previous post as examples of micrevolution?

  65. Would you list the items in the previous post as examples of micrevolution?

    I would list them as examples of evolution. I don’t know where to draw the line between “micro” and “macro” evolution. I’d assume that most people who make the distinction would probably call it “micro” evolution.

  66. “I don’t know where to draw the line between “micro” and “macro” evolution.”

    Indeed.

    “I’d assume that most people who make the distinction would probably call it “micro” evolution.”

    The educated man gets a cookie!

  67. Learned Hand

    Would you mind pointing out where, exactly, you are reading that part of Dawkins’ essay? I don’t see anything in his writing arguing that because dissenters are disreputable, therefore their arguments are wrong.

    I already did in my original post on the matter. Dawkins wrote in the quote provided by Dr. Dembski:

    “No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.”

    The implication being made here is clear: if you’re a scientist, and you read Dawkins’s book AND you still doubt evolution, then, by implication you are not a “reputable” scientist, and therefore disreputable. If you read the book and still doubt, you are “biased” because “no unbiased reader…” It amounts to a cleverly disguised ad hominem. Any doubts you maintain after reading Dawkins’s book can only be the result of being either biased or disreputable (or perhaps both). Its in the same vein as his famous “…anyone who doubts evolution is either ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that.)”, which he wrote in The Blind Watchmaker. These are ad hominem comments anyway you look at it.

    You’re free to try and defend Dawkins all you like, but his characterization of evolution doubters is clear: he holds them in disdain as disreputable, biased, ignorant, stupid, insane and probably wicked. Therefore, those expressing doubts can be dismissed as one or all of the above. I see no reason whatsoever to give Dawkins the benefit of the doubt in his statement above, especially when viewed in the light of everything else he has said or written about evolution doubters over the years.

    His aim is to frame his argument such that only someone disreputable, biased, ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked would doubt it. That’s why I point it out as an ad hominem, which it clearly is.

  68. Learned Hand

    It is just obvious” is a powerful argument, especially with laypeople. Obvious, however, is not synonymous with true. The fact that obvious inferences are often wrong is why biologists test their ideas, and their colleagues’ ideas. ID’s reliance on “obvious” inferences, and reluctance to engage in any testing of its ideas, is one reason why Dawkins can credibly accuse IDists of being unserious.

    The state of evolutionary theory is equivalent to saying (as Dr. Dembski has said more than once) that we can walk from Californial to Japan because we discovered the Hawiian Islands. Just ignore the thousands of miles of wet stuff in between, and you’ll be okay. The reality is, evolution hasn’t even explained how to walk from California to Catalina Island, much less go any further. It ought to be “just obvious” to anyone attempting it that there is no way at all to WALK from California to Japan.

    ID’s claims have been tested. For example, Michael Behe’s claim that certain biological systems are irreducibly complex has been tested many times. To date, no one has falsified his claim, because no one has been able to provide a detailed testable model of how evolution builds an IC system. There’s been all sorts of articles providing wishful and sometimes wild speculations, but clearly no falsification. For a claim that was supposed to “unscientific”, there sure seems to be a lot of work being done to falsify it. Dawkins claim is just plain silly and uninformed.

    As I’ve said many times here and elsewhere, Dawkins doesn’t reject ID on scientific grounds, but on worldview grounds. In other words, his atheism dictates his science. On his atheistic worldview evolution isn’t just the “greatest show on earth”, its also the only game in town! When he writes

    It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips . . . continue the list as long as desired. That didn’t have to be true. It is not self-evidently, tautologically, obviously true, and there was a time when most people, even educated people, thought it wasn’t. It didn’t have to be true, but it is.

    , he’s being disingenous. On atheism, evolution, or something very much like it, is the only possible way biological systems could have developed. There’s nothing else but the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy evolving over eons of time through chance and/or necssity. Nothing else whatsoever. So, naturally he scoffs at any notion of actual design in biological systems…the very notion runs afoul of his worldview!

  69. The implication being made here is clear: if you’re a scientist, and you read Dawkins’s book AND you still doubt evolution, then, by implication you are not a “reputable” scientist, and therefore disreputable. If you read the book and still doubt, you are “biased” because “no unbiased reader…” It amounts to a cleverly disguised ad hominem.

    Well, then we agree at least that he doesn’t say the things you attribute to him. But even if we take your implication from this excerpt as Dawkins’ explicit argument, it still isn’t an ad hominem statement. An ad hominem claim is the assertion that a person’s arguments are wrong because of that person’s unrelated personal failings.

    You’re asserting that Dawkins made an ad hominem assertion by calling science skeptics disreputable. But he’s only describing them, whether fairly or not–he’s not saying that their arguments are wrong because the skeptics are disreputable.

    You’re free to try and defend Dawkins all you like, but his characterization of evolution doubters is clear: he holds them in disdain as disreputable, biased, ignorant, stupid, insane and probably wicked. Therefore, those expressing doubts can be dismissed as one or all of the above.

    Once again, everything after “therefore” appears to be what you expect Dawkins to say, not what he actually wrote.

  70. Learned Hand:

    You’re asserting that Dawkins made an ad hominem assertion by calling science skeptics disreputable. But he’s only describing them, whether fairly or not–he’s not saying that their arguments are wrong because the skeptics are disreputable.

    No, he’s not “only describing them.” He’s saying that any scientist who doubts evolution is disreputable. That’s the fair conclusion to draw from “no reputable scientist…” Put another way, he is saying that no reputable scientist could possibly read his book and still have doubts about evolution. If they do, they must be disreputable.

    You can try to finesse this any way you wish, but in context of all he writes Dawkins clearly holds all evolution doubters in contempt and it is very fair to describe this quote as an ad homnimem and fallacious. You’re free to remain unconvinced…but I will say no more on this, as it is quite pointless.

  71. You can try to finesse this any way you wish, but in context of all he writes Dawkins clearly holds all evolution doubters in contempt and it is very fair to describe this quote as an ad homnimem and fallacious. You’re free to remain unconvinced…but I will say no more on this, as it is quite pointless.

    I don’t mean to waste your time, and I’m honestly not trying to be argumentative. But what you’re describing is just not an ad hominem argument. Saying that “X is disreputable” may be insulting, but it’s not an ad hominem. He just doesn’t contend that skeptics’ claims are false because they are disreputable people. If has such a claim anywhere, I haven’t seen it. I certainly don’t see it here.

    In fact, his argument seems to be the reverse – he seems to be saying that the skeptics are disreputable because their positions are wrong, not vice versa.

  72. DonaldM:

    The state of evolutionary theory is equivalent to saying (as Dr. Dembski has said more than once) that we can walk from Californial to Japan because we discovered the Hawiian Islands. Just ignore the thousands of miles of wet stuff in between, and you’ll be okay.

    In this metaphor, what’s the equivalent of the “wet stuff”? Would that be the intermediary forms that natural selection ought to cull, or the intermediary forms that mutation is simply incapable of? Or is it the intermediaries that are hypothetically possible, but man, for that die roll to come up again and again is just too much for statistics to handle…?

  73. Perhaps I’ll listen to Dawkins when I see evidence this strong for evolution.

    Otherwise, he’s a crank who’s laying the groundwork for the New Inquisitors who will purify the world by purging the heretics.

  74. And the fallacy you’re looking for DonaldM is the “true Scotsman” fallacy, described by the one and only Antony Flew.

  75. To Upright Biped,

    I seem to fallen out of favour with the moderator.
    The spirit of DaveScott lives on.

  76. “Joseph” (#49) asked: “Dover? The trial in which the judge wouldn’t let the publisher defend its book? The book that was the center-piece of the anti-IDists?

    The book whose intermediate draft gave us the derisive term “cdesign proponentsists”? The publisher whose president did appear in Judge Jones’ court and made a laughingstock of himself? The publisher whose president clumsily lied about the religious affiliation of his company in spite of being shown his signature on a “begging letter” to churches and his initials on his IRS “religious exemption” form? See http://austringer.net/wp/index.....-in-court/ for the gory details.

    Jon Buell (along with Messrs. Buckingham and Bonsell) led Judge Jone to remark in his decision “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

  77. “SpitfireIXA” (#63) asked me: “
    To back up your claim, Paul, would you say that the following items are a process of microevolution:

    1. Darwin’s finch beaks.
    2. Peppered moth coloration.
    3. Labrador retrievers and other modern dog breeds.

    #1 is evolution (different species), possibly microevolution under some definitions; #2 is not evolution (therefore not microevolution) but random variation plus natural selection (remaining the same species but a different color morph); #3 is not evolution (therefore not microevolution) but artificial selection of exaggerated random variation (remaining the same species). (My opinion as a non-biologist.)

  78. About evolution, Dawkins writes: “No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.” Note the clever ad hominem argument here.

    This is not an ad hominem. You may read it as an insult, but an ad hominem argument is something different.”

    You’re right. It’s another logical fallacy called argument from authority. Still proves nothing.

  79. You’re right. It’s another logical fallacy called argument from authority. Still proves nothing.

    It’s not that, either. It would be an argument from authority if he said, “This argument is correct because I am a learned doctor.” The cited statement is just an observation that no reputable scientist rejects evolution, and a prediction that no unbiased reader will reject his arguments. The merits of that statement aside, it’s not logically fallacious. An argument can be untrue without being a fallacy.

  80. Graham @ 44

    Whatever credibility you had on this forum has instantly evaporated with your last post. You pissed it away with a blatantly demonstrable falshood.

    You state: “I followed both links and both lead to papers prepared as part of the Origin-of-Life Foundation. The lead author David Abels is the director. If you go there you will see, um, a religious site.

    Your comment is nothing less than an outright lie – it’s not a mistake, nor is it a misunderstanding. It is a lie. Clearly, you told this lie for a singular reason. That reason is that you cannot address the evidence for ID within DNA, and therefore must spread lies in place of simply admitting that you cannot cut it with the evidence.

    While other materialist ideologues here will choose better to ignore the evidence, or will misrepresent the arguments being made, or post wishful appeals to speculative nonsense, you on the other hand, are a more simple-minded individual. Your response is to simply tar and feather anyone who might present evidence that suggests you are wrong about your “enlightened” conclusions. The question quickly becomes, how enlightened are your conclusions if you must lie about other people in order to support them?

    David Abel does not go onto the web to defend himself against your brand of sleaze. He makes no such associations with either side of this argument. The most I have ever seen him do is to issue a polite demarcation between the warring factions, and make an appeal to people to remain courageously honest with the evidence, and to be honest with themselves and others within the debate. In this regard, you have failed miserably.

    Here is what the Origin of Life Foundation states on their website:

    The Origin-of-Life Science Foundation, Inc. is a science and education foundation encouraging the pursuit of natural-process explanations and mechanisms within nature. The Foundation’s main thrust is to encourage interdisciplinary, multi-institutional research projects by theoretical biophysicists and origin-of-life researchers specifically into the origin of genetic information/instructions/message/recipe in living organisms.

    Concerning their “Origin of Life Prize” the website states the following:

    “The Origin-of-Life Prize” ® is being offered to stimulate research into chaos, complexity, information, probability, self-organization, and artificial life/intelligence theories as they relate directly to biochemical and molecular biological reality. The Foundation wishes to encourage the pursuit of natural-process explanations and mechanisms of initial “gene” emergence within nature. The subject of interest is the genesis of primordial functional information itself rather than its physico-chemical matrix of retention and transmission. Bioinformation fits into the category of “prescriptive information” (“instruction,” rather than mere probabilistic combinatorics [Abel, 2000]). By what mechanisms do stochastic ensembles acquire instructive/integrative potential? In other words, what are the processes whereby random biopolymeric sequences self-organize into indirect, functional code?

    In their “Suggested Texts” column they present the following list of appropriate material:

    Schroedinger, E. What is Life? (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1955)

    Donald M. MacKay. Information, Mechanism and Meaning (Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, 1969)

    Jacques Monod. Chance and Necessity (New York: Knopf, 1971)

    Leslie E. Orgel. The Origins of Life: Molecules and Natural Selection (New York, John Wiley, 1973)

    Stanley L. Miller and Leslie E. Orgel. The Origins of Life on Earth (Eaglewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1974)

    R. W. Hamming. Coding and Information Theory (Englewood Cliffs, Prentice- Hall, l980)

    M. Kimura. The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983)

    Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley, Roger L. Olsen. The Mystery of Life’s Origin (Dallas: Lewis and Stanley, 1984)

    A. G. Cairns-Smith. Seven Clues to the Origin of Life (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985).

    Freeman Dyson. The Origins of Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985) Now second edition, (1999).

    Robert Shapiro. Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth (New York: Summit Books, 1986)

    John Maynard-Smith. The Problems of Biology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986)

    Bernd-Olaf Küppers. Information and the Origin of Life (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990)

    Cyril Ponnamperuma and F. R. Eirich, Editors Prebiological Self-Organization of Matter (A. Deepak Publishing: Hampton, VA, 1990)

    Christian De Duve, Blueprint for a Cell:The Nature and Origin of Life (Burlington, NC: Patterson, 1991)

    Hubert P. Yockey. Information Theory and Molecular Biology, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

    H. J. Morowitz. Beginnings of Cellular Life: Metabolism Recapitulates Biogenesis (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992)

    Cyril Ponnamperuma and Julian Chela-Flores. Chemical Evolution: Origin of Life Proceedings of The Trieste Conference on Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life, 26-30 October, 1992 (Hampton, VA: A Deepak Publishing, 1993)

    Walter James ReMine. The Biotic Message (Saint Paul, MN: St. Paul Science, 1993)

    Stuart A. Kauffman. The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993)

    David W. Deamer and Gail R. Fleischaker. Origins of Life: The Central Concepts (Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 1994).

    Periannan Senapathy. Independent Birth of Organisms (Madison: Genome Press, 1994).

    Julian Chela-Flores, Mohindra Chadha, Alicia Negron-Mendoza, Tairo Oshima, Editors. Chemical Evolution: Self-organization of the Macromolecules of Life Proceedings of The Trieste Conference on Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life, 25-29 October 1993 (Hampton, VA: A. Deepak Publishing, 1995)

    John H. Holland. Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity (Reading, Mass.: Perseus Books, 1995)

    Christopher G. Langton. Artificial Life: An Overview (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995)

    Stuart Kauffman. At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).

    Christian De Duve, Vital Dust–Life as a Cosmic Imperative (New York: Basic Books, 1995)

    Syozo Osawa, Evolution of the Genetic Code (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)

    Lynn Margulis and D. Sagan. ‘What is Life’ (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1995)

    Rizzoti (ed.): ‘Defining Life’ (Padua, Italy: University Padua Press, 1996)

    Geoffrey Zubay. Origins of Life on the Earth and in the Cosmos (New York: WCB/McGraw Hill, 1996)

    Michael J. Behe. Darwin’s Black Box, (New York: The Free Press/Simon and Schuster, 1996).

    Julian Chela-Flores and Francois Raulin. Chemical Evolution: Physics of the Origins and Evolution of Life, Proceedings of the 4th Trieste Conference on Chemical Evolution, Trieste, Italy, 4-8 September 1995 (Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1996)

    Manfred Eigen and Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch. Steps Toward Life: A Perspective on Evolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

    Dean Overman. The Case Against Accident and Self-Organization, (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997)

    Christoph Adami. Artificial Life (New York: Springer-Telos, 1998)

    William A. Dembski. The Design Inference, in Cambridge Studies in Probability, Induction, and Decision Theory. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
    Noam Lahav. Biogenesis: Theories of Life’s Origin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)

    André Brack. The Molecular Origins of Life: Assembling the Pieces of the Puzzle (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

    Michael Gross. Life on the Edge (New York: Plenum Press, 1998)

    John Maynard Smith. Shaping Life: Genes, Embryos, and Evolution (UK, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1998; U.S., Yale University Press, 1999)

    James P. Ferris, Editor. Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere, Papers presented at the 1996 ISSOL Meeting in Orleans, France. Volume 28, Nos.4-6 October 1998 (Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998)

    Martin J. Medhurst and John Angus Campbell, Editors Rhetoric & Public Affairs (East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press, Vol 1, No 4, Winter 1998 Entire issue)

    Fred Hoyle. Mathematics of Evolution (Memphis, Tenn: Acorn Enterprises, 1999)

    John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary. The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origins of Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

    Gesteland, R. F., Cech, T. R. & J F. Atkins, eds. The RNA World (Plainview, 2ND Edition, (NY: Cold Spring Harbor Lab. Press, 1999)

    Werner R. Loewenstein. The Touchstone of Life: Molecular Information, Cell Communication, and the Foundations of Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

    Hans Kuhn and Horst-Dieter Forsterling. Principles of Physical Chemistry (England: Wiley Press, 1999) pp 880-921; see also p 953
    Gyula Palyi, Claudia Zucchi, Luciano Caglioti (Eds.) Advances in BioChirality., (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1999)

    Freeman Dyson. The Origins of Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Second Edition, (1999)

    David Berlinski. The Advent of the Algorithm: the Idea That Rules the World (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2000)

    Iris Fry. The Emergence of Life on Earth: A Historical and Scientific Overview (N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2000)

    L Kay. Who Wrote the Book of Life? A History of the Genetic Code (Stanford: Stanford Univeristy Press, 2000)

    Richard Sole and Brian Goodwin. Signs of Life: How Complexity Pervades Biology (New York: Basic Books Persius, 2000)

    Stuart Kauffman. Investigations (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000)

    Christopher Wills and Jeffrey Bada. The Spark of Life, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Persius, 2001)

    Gyula Palyi, Claudia Zucchi, Luciano Caglioti (Eds.) Fundamentals of Life, (Paris: Elsevier, 2002)

    William A. Dembski, No Free Lunch, (New York, Rowman and Littlefield, 2002)
    Henry Harris, Things Come to Life: Spontaneous generation Revisited, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002)

    J William Schopt, Ed, Life’s Origin: The Beginnings of Biological Evolution, (Ewing, N. J., Univer. of California Press, 2002)

    Tom Fenchel, Origin and Early Evolution of Life (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2003)

    Marcello Barbieri, The Organic Codes: An Introduction to Semantic Biology (Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 2003)

    Tibor Ganti, The Principles of Life (Oxford, UK, Oxford Unversity Press, 2003)

    Nancy Forbes, Imitation of Life: How Biology is Inspiring Computing (MIT Press, 2004)

    Clive Trotman, The Feathered Onion – Creation of life in the Universe (John Wiley and Sons, 2004)

    William Day, How Life Began, Marvin Solit, Foundation for New Directions,
    Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005)

    Robert M. Hazen, Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origin (Joseph Henry Press, Washington, D.C.2005)

    Marc W. Kirschner and John C. Gerhart: The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin’s Dilemma (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2005)

    Samir Okasha: Evolution and the Levels of Selection (Clarendon Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006)

    Jastrow and M. Rampino: Origins of Life in the Universe (Cambridge Univ Press, New York, 2008)

    And finally, in the list of 200-something judges for the Origin of Life Prize, the institutions of which they are associated include:

    Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, University of Glasgow, Dept. of Molecular Biology – Massachusetts Gen. Hosp., Hong Kong Univ.of Sci.& Tech, Physics Dept – University of California at Berkeley, Appl Math & Theor Physics, Cambridge, Institut fur Polymere ETH-Zurich, Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, The Scripps Research Institute, Skaggs Institute, Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, M.I.T.; Inst Adv Stud in Biology at Berkeley, Department of Chemistry New York University, Academy of Sciences – Centre de Neurochemie, California Institute of Technology, Dept.of Molecular & Cell Biology at Univ.of Connecticut, Nagoaka Univ.of Technol – Dept.of Bioengineering, Biologie/Chemie, Universitat Bremen, Internat Instit of Genetics & Biophysics, Biology Department – Yale University, The Scripps Research Institute, JPL, Geol & Planetary Sciences – Caltech, The Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem – Faculty of Agriculture, Mol Biol, Mass Gen Hosp – Harvard Medical School, Biochemical & Biophysical Sci – Univ. Houston, Inst. de Genetique et Microbiol – Universit Paris, Dept Membrane Res & Biophys, Weizmann Inst Sci., Lab Physique Statis – Ecole Normale Supervieure, Biomolecular Recognition – The Panum Institute, Biologica Gen, Inst. Ciencias Biol, Dept. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Princeton, NASA Ames Research Center, Department of Biochemistry – Indiana University, Biol. Sciences – Univ. Wollongong, Max Planck Institut Biophysikalische Chemie, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Cognitive & Computing Sci U. Sussex, Department of Physics, Inner Mongolia University, Oxford University, Institute of Applied Biochemistry – Univ.of Tsukuba, Biological Inst., Konan Univ., California Institute of Technology, Planetary Sciences, Cornell University, Dept.of Chem.and Biotech – Yokohama Nat.Univ., Organic Catalysis – Moscow State U., Inst for Inorganic & Theor Chem., etc, etc.

    - – - – - – - – -

    This is what you call a religious site? Sure, Skippy….sure. The rest of us look at it as you giving out one weak-assed defense after another.

    Let’s just be honest: your brand of argument is the cornerstone of the materialist’s defense of their worldview. You will do ANYTHING but address the evidence on its face. You and yours gave up on the science long ago.

  81. Learned Hand (#52)

    Thank you for your post.

    ID refuses investigate the mechanisms of design. Why is that?

    ID proponents are not opposed to investigating mechanisms of design. They simply believe in solving scientifically tractable questions first, and addressing the less tractable questions last. That’s why investigating how an artificially designed structure was made ranks low on ID theorists’ list of scientific priorities, when the designer of the structure in question was not human.

    Many scientists believe that there are alien civilizations inhabiting our galaxy. As they are likely to be millions of years ahead of us, technologically speaking, it is extremely unlikely that we will be able to apprehend their modus operandi. However, there is a possibility that we may be able to identify some of their designs, which they may have left scattered around the galaxy, purely on the basis of their formal and functional features. It would be even better if we could identify designs containing a built-in code for generating the functions, as well. That would be a better place to begin our scientific investigation. Having identified some promising candidates for designs manufactured by aliens, we might then try to date them. Only after we had exhaustively described their form and functionality – and perhaps met their designers as well – could we even begin to speculate about how they were made. Thus the correct order of investigation is: (1) Which of the patterns around us are good candidates for being the products of intelligent agency? (2) When were they made? (3) By whom were they made? (4) How were they made?

    Critics of ID take issue with the above line of reasoning. They contend that on the contrary, we will never be able to conclusively identify an alien-manufactured design as being the product of intelligent agency until we are well-acquainted with both the biology and culture of the alien designers. In reply: I guess that depends on how much certainty you want, when atttributing a design to intelligent agency. If you really want to be absolutely sure, then you would need to meet the designers. But let’s face it: the only alien designers we’ll be able to recognize are ones whose biology is not too dissimilar to our own, and whose technology is not much more advanced than our own. Finding aliens meeting these specifications would be like finding a needle in a haystack. Thus imposing these methodological restrictions on the quest for signs of intelligent agency in the cosmos would severely constrain scientific research in a legitimate field of enquiry. In fact, I would go so far as to call such a methodological requirement a science-stopper.

  82. To Upright Biped,

    Not a religious site ?

    Lets see,

    Contact information: A ministry of the Collegiate Discipleship Ministry (the very 1st line)

    1st page of the site: Presenting Creation Evidence

    2nd page: Bible Science

    Sounds kind of religious to me.

  83. Graham, to continue the lie is just pathetic.

    From the Origin of Life Foundation homepage:

    “The Origin-of-Life Science Foundation should not be confused with “creation science” or “intelligent design” groups. It has no religious affiliations of any kind, nor are we connected in any way with any New Age, Gaia, or “Science and Spirit” groups. The Origin-of-Life Science Foundation, Inc. is a science and education foundation encouraging the pursuit of natural-process explanations and mechanisms within nature.

    http://lifeorigin.org/

  84. Barb:

    One and the same argument can be:

    1 –> An improper appeal to blind modesty in the face of the alleged authority of today’s neo-magisterium [the class of "reputable scientists" . . . (no authority, on any topic of consequence, is better than his or her facts, reasoning and assumptions.)]

    2 –> A No True Scotsman fallacy [terms of expulsion from the class . . . failing to toe the partyline]

    3 –> An ad hominem. [expelled scientists and their followers are "ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked" -- lo and behold, the same CRD]

    4 –> A blame the victim tactic [It's YOUR fault you were expelled]

    5 –> A turnabout accusation [YOU are the one who is absurd for doubting the partyline put out by the new Ministry of Truth -- cf Lewontin's notorious remarks]

    6 –> A red herring diversion from the track of truth and a strawman mischaracterisation of both the case made by dissidents and an ad hominem attack against their character and/or qualifications [put the above together]

    7 –> A wedge tactic designed to divide and polarise the audience, while clouding and confusing the issue in the heat and noxious smoke spewed forth by the resulting high-emotion exchange. [Red herring led out to strawmen soaked in ad hominems and ignited to distract, cloud and confuse and polarise. (Notice how the discussion now is NOT on the outrageous thought police tactics of trying to equate seriously grounded doubts of the assertions of evolutionary materialism with Holocaust Denial. And, somehow no-one is pointing out that when someone on my side of the exchange so much as points out the historical exemplars for such tactics, Godwin's law and calls for moderation are shouted for. Clive, please note.)]

    Sadly, fallacies often gain power from synergy. And uncivil, destructive agendas gain power from bad arguments.

    GEM of TKI

  85. PaulB and Learned:

    1. Darwin’s finch beaks are NOT an example of microevolution. Darwin never witnessed finches turning into different species. He witnessed variation in beak sizes within — which is caused by variation within the existing gene pool, NOT mutations.

    2. Peppered moths have dark and light phases within their existing gene pool. Not caused by mutation, not microevolution.

    3. Dogs have a significant variance (as do all species) within their highly flexible existing gene pool. Not mutations, not microevolution.

    Yet all of these have been used as evidence of microevolution. In fact, the finches and the moths are taught as “hard facts” of evolution, which shows how valid Darwinian hard facts are.

    Variation within an existing gene pool is constantly used FALSELY as an example of microevolution.

    Paul, that is why your inches/gallons comment is not accurate. You ARE comparing inches to gallons, not to miles.

    PaulB gets 2 out 3, not bad. Learned, 0 out of 3, time to reassess the data.

  86. To Upright Biped,

    To disclaim all connections with religion, then give your site the bold title: Creation Insights … cmon, get real.

    The contact person has the title Missionary to academic communities

    But its not religious. Yeah, right.

  87. Graham,

    Erm, I think you need to work on your google-fu. Are you looking at this website:

    http://www.uark.edu/~cdm/creation/index.htm

    That’s not it.

  88. yak,

    Graham knows that he is pulling words from the wrong website. It doesn’t matter.

    He needs what he needs when he needs it. And right now he needs a flank.

    Pulling lines from a website that he knows is not the related to David Abel is of little consequence. The only thing that is important is to not have to address the evidence.

  89. As I said earlier, his is the centerpiece of the materialist’ defense of their ideology.

    Nothing matters as long as you don’t have to address the evidence itself.

  90. To Upright Biped & Yakky D,

    Jeez, your right.
    The creationist website is merely referring to the origin-of-life thingy.

    I apologize for my mistake.
    Now thats a post I know the moderator will let through.

  91. Graham, I posted two papers that did not have any links to ministries of any kind. You were being deceitful when you said that the papers lead you to a ministries website. You can neither Google, nor use Yahoo (Alta Vista, Bing, Dogpile, Lygo, MSN, etc) in a way that did not take you directly to LifeOrigin.org. And, you would not find David Abel’s name anywhere else.

    That’s did not stop you from making your ad homenum attack on the authors of the paper.

    Then when I posted the text directly from the site in #80 and you could CLEARLY see what the Origins site was about, you still came back in #82 with the same old canard.

    Then when I posted additional text AND the actual web address in #83, you then came back in #86 with the same old attack.

    So, the bottom line is that you didn’t want to address the evidence presented by the papers, and you found a way not to have to. So be it. Not to worry, neither have any of your cohorts. They simply ignore it, misrepresent it, or speculate preposterous events around it – perhaps as you should have done.

    – - – - – - – -

    Since you will not address the evidence in a factual manner, then it’s on to the root of the attack you were willing to make. (Personally, I’d pass on the discussion, but then again, I wanted to talk about the science). So anyway, here is my question:

    Do you believe that anyone who believes in a creation is a liar? Can these people that you repeatedly group together and deride be trusted to analyze empirical evidence within their scientific specialties? If not, then please be specific as to why not. I would like to understand your logic as to why you are so adamant that people who have a faith in a God cannot be trusted investigators, yet those who have a faith that there is no God can be trusted – apparently at all times.

    And, when I say “trusted” I am talking about “trusted” in a way that would lead someone to ignore what was directly in front of them in order to carry on about a creationist website that has nothing whatsoever to do with the conversation at hand.

  92. To Upright Biped,

    I made a mistake, and when I do I admit it. I was hoping that you would accept my admission with good grace.

    As for whether investigators of creation are liars, thats not how I would put it. Its your term, not mine.

    At one extreme are the religious fundamentalists, and probably no comment needed there.
    At the other extreme are people like your Mr Abel who seem to be making a real effort to investigate the issues.
    In between are most people who probably accept the results of their upbringing without being too analytical about it.

    My beef with the supernatural/spiritual is that it is unproductive. The main institutions that we trust with the truth are the courts, medical bodies, etc etc, and without exception all these bodies run on a purely materialistic basis. (My doctor doesnt usually pray for my health).

    So, when a priest cures a disease, or conjures up a mathematical formula, maybe the science community will take notice, but in the meantime they are not impressed.

  93. Graham,

    I was hoping that you would accept my admission with good grace.

    I accept it just fine. And, I use the same general level of grace you used in making it in the first place.

    As for whether investigators of creation are liars, thats not how I would put it. Its your term, not mine.

    Let’s see how you put it. In between repeating Dover, you put it like this: “If you go there you will see, um, a religious site. Its even got an appeal to the 2nd law of Thermodynamics. Yep, its all there. So, Jones got it right at Dover. Scratch ID and you uncover religion. Its always there, just beneath the surface.” And also – “its a credibility thing”.

    So no, you don’t call them liars outright, you simply group them all together, and then deride them for no other reason than because they believe that there was a creation. You allow the subtle innuendo to do the heavy lifting so that you may keep your gentlemanly character intact. After all it’s a credibility thing, right? The fact that you were wrong in everything you were saying is…well…an unfortunate mistake. Who could have known, with such an easy rush to judgment.

    At one extreme are the religious fundamentalists, and probably no comment needed there. At the other extreme are people like your Mr Abel who seem to be making a real effort to investigate the issues.

    Who are the religious fundamentalists? Are those the ones that really believe or are they someone else? The reason I asked is that I didn’t see you making any distinctions when you thought you were beating up on Dr Abel.

    Shall we go ahead now and make no distinctions in non-believers as well? If we want to talk about, say, a public figure who has said they have doubts about the existence of God, can we then lump them in with those who perhaps go on vampire killing sprees, ala Rod Ferrell?

    Of course not, and neither should you. But, you do it anyway.

    My beef with the supernatural/spiritual is that it is unproductive.

    This is a comment that says more loudly than any I have recently heard: “I don’t care about the truth.”

    Actually I take that back; it was Megan in here a week or so ago arguing the same thing. “What good is the truth if it doesn’t cure cancer” she asked. Of course it was certainly clear; the real problem had more to do with protecting her worldview than curing cancer, but I am certain she felt better about wrapping herself in the flag.

    I told her I thought her comment was intellectually primitive. I now say the same to you.

    My doctor doesnt usually pray for my health

    Having made a complete mess of your argument, one might have thought you’d be wary about going even further. Yet, here you go anyway.
    Graham, take some advice. Since you attacked David Abel without any merit whatsoever, perhaps you can set things straight by taking the time to critically read and understand his work. When you’re through you might then turn back to the comment about your doctor praying and ask yourself if your comments are “productive” (or if they are just plain old bullshit).

  94. Upright:

    While I understand your unhappiness with G et al, please, in recent weeks there has been a tendency to use vulgarities. That does not help the tone problem.

    GEM of TKI

  95. Vjtorley,

    Thus imposing these methodological restrictions on the quest for signs of intelligent agency in the cosmos would severely constrain scientific research in a legitimate field of enquiry. In fact, I would go so far as to call such a methodological requirement a science-stopper.

    Here, we agree, except that the only “methodological limitations” I observe are in ID’s self-imposed embargo on any research into the methods of design. While the existence of design may be severable from the mechanisms of design, there is no reason to presume that it must be so, and even less to refuse to draw even preliminary conclusions at all about the nature of the presumed designer from the characteristics of what is assumed to be design. ID’s line-drawing appears to be more related to ideology and strategy than sound science; I’m not aware of any scientific field in which researchers declare that certain questions are absolutely off limits, as ID has.

    Spitfire,

    I’m no biologist, but I was under the impression that mutation was only one engine of evolution. Genetic drift also causes evolution, doesn’t it? Aren’t the morphological changes you identify caused by a change in allele frequency?

  96. 96

    Learned Hand writes: “I observe . . . ID’s self-imposed embargo on any research into the methods of design. While the existence of design may be severable from the mechanisms of design, there is no reason to presume that it must be so, and even less to refuse to draw even preliminary conclusions at all about the nature of the presumed designer from the characteristics of what is assumed to be design.”

    First, ID theorists do not “assume” design. They demonstrate that the markers universally associated with design are found in living things and therefore infer design based on the evidence. You should try to obtain a rudimentary understanding of the most basic principles of a discipline before you presume to criticize it.

    To your specific point, you misunderstand the ID project. As a scientific enterprise, ID seeks to ground its conclusions on data, not speculations. Ruminations about the methods used (and the nature of) the designer cannot be so grounded. Therefore, they are beyond the scope of ID proper.

  97. First, ID theorists do not “assume” design. They demonstrate that the markers universally associated with design are found in living things and therefore infer design based on the evidence.

    Those “markers” are universally associated with human designs, and are invariably the result of certain characteristics inherent in humans and the things we make. Our designs reflect the fact that we are causal agents, for example, limited by the standard logical causality rules. Similarly, we are always limited by scarcity; no human designer ever has infinite time, resources, or knowledge with which to create a design. The “markers” that our designs carry reflect those limitations.

    Can we accordingly conclude that the Designer sought by ID shares our limitations, if its designs share our markers? A mainstream science would engage the question directly, as it impacts the search for “markers” of design. Natural and supernatural designers would probably leave very different designs, and some investigation into that delineation is a natural outgrowth of ID’s existing methods.

    But for unclear reasons, ID strictly abstains from any serious look at methodology. I don’t agree with your explanation; an investigation into the methods of design would be founded on the same “data” as an investigation into the existence of design. An alternate explanation is that IDists disagree on the characteristics of the presumed Designer; whether it is natural or supernatural, for example. Opening up an investigation into the characteristics of the Designer would alienate some parts of the movement, and make it much more vulnerable to accusations of being thinly-veiled religious ideology. I find the latter explanation more persuasive.

    Incidentally, you remark that “ID theorists . . . demonstrate that the markers universally associated with design are found in living things. . . .” Have those theorists ever actually demonstrated an ability to identify such markers? This relates to my prior points in that, like ID’s refusal to ask inevitable and relevant questions, it seems to be a way in which ID distinguishes itself from traditional science. One would expect scientists who have discovered a way to identify “markers associated with design” to be able to demonstrate a repeatable ability to detect design. Has ID ever applied its tools and methods in a blind test, to discover whether they are actually capable of discovering signs of human design where the testers are unaware of the subject’s origins?

  98. Barry, that was a great apologetic for ID. Probably the best I’ve heard to date.

    Of course, the others were mostly from the opposition.

  99. Barry

    ID theorists do not “assume” design. They demonstrate that the markers universally associated with design are found in living things and therefore infer design based on the evidence.

    Do they? Have they?

    As a scientific enterprise, ID seeks to ground its conclusions on data, not speculations.

    This seems at odds with what Phillip Johnson said

    “I also don’t think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove…No product is ready for competition in the educational world”

    If the time has indeed come where markers associated with design have been found in living things then could you provide a list? As ID seeks to ground its conclusions on data, not speculations, where can I find that data that indicates markers universally associated with design have been found in living things?

    As far as I know, only one such example has been claimed by the ID camp, the bac flag. Are you counting IC as a “marker” then?

  100. 100

    Blue Lotus, re your comment at [99].

    Darwinists have had 150 years to develop their theory. Yet, no matter how often they act like petulant children, getting red in the face and jumping up and down screaming “fact! fact! fact!”, it is plain that they have experienced a catastrophic failure to seal the deal, and their flailing about serves only to bring that failure into stark relief.

    ID as a scientific project is less than 15 years old, and already it has made impressive gains in laying the framework for further research, and peer-reviewed articles supporting its basic premise (e.g. the Dembski-Marks article published this month) are starting to appear.

    Scoff now while you still can. 20 years from now we will see who was on the wrong side of history. I suspect you will get to know first hand how dedicated Marxists felt the day after the Soviet Union fell and America won the cold war.

  101. Barry

    Darwinists have had 150 years to develop their theory.

    But you’ve had 2000+ years plus to develop yours? Why only starting the scientific investgations now?

    Yet, no matter how often they act like petulant children, getting red in the face and jumping up and down screaming “fact! fact! fact!”

    Who does that? What are you basing that on?

    it is plain that they have experienced a catastrophic failure to seal the deal

    Yet 99%+ of biologists disagree. Is that a “catastrophic failure” in your terms?

    and their flailing about serves only to bring that failure into stark relief.

    Does it? How does that go then? Can you give me an example of such happening?

    ID as a scientific project is less than 15 years old, and already it has made impressive gains in laying the framework for further research

    Already eh? I used to keep up on developments at the international society for complexity information and design.
    http://www.iscid.org/
    Not much been happening the last, oh, half decade or so.
    Or we could visit the nexus for researching intelligent design
    http://www.researchintelligentdesign.org
    No edits for, oh, coming up to half a decade.

    and peer-reviewed articles supporting its basic premise (e.g. the Dembski-Marks article published this month) are starting to appear.

    The Dembski-Marks paper starts off assuming “Darwinism” is true. They don’t mention or allude to intelligent design anywhere in the paper itself. If it supports ID can you tell me in what specific way it does so? Be specific.

    Scoff now while you still can. 20 years from now we will see who was on the wrong side of history.

    You do know there is a website that notes how people down through the years have claimed “Darwinism” is about to fall and collects the quotes together. As yet, “Darwinism” has not fallen and they have many decades of quotes and no sign of stopping yet.

    I suspect you will get to know first hand how dedicated Marxists felt the day after the Soviet Union fell and America won the cold war.

    And how was that then? And how do political power plays relate to the simple fact of imperfect reproduction and selection?

  102. 102

    1. In [101] Blue Lotus claims ID proponents have had 2,000 years to develop a scientific case.

    Is the Darwinist camp so intellectually bankrupt that it attempts to divert attention from its failures by suggesting that ID proponents should have made a scientific case for ID 1,600 years before the scientific method was invented? Blue, evolution has an ancient pedigree going back to the Greeks too. So in the spirit of your question I could ask you why the ancient evolutionists did not apply the yet-to-be-invented scientific method to their theories? Hmmmm?

    2. Blue then claims that he has never heard of Darwinists yelling fact! fact! fact! in an attempt to stifle the debate.

    Is that all you’ve got? You want me to demonstrate that which has been demonstrated dozens (if not hundreds) of times before on this site? Are there any other obvious and non-controvertible facts you want me to demonstrate again? How about I provide quotes demonstrating the Pope is Catholic? Give me a break. Don’t be tedious.

    3. Blue then points to orthodoxy to support his position.

    Blue, let me clue you in. Scientific orthodoxies come and go. A theory is orthodox up until the time it isn’t. Let me give you two examples. Plate tectonics went from lunacy to orthodoxy in a matter of decades. The steady state universe was orthodoxy until it was not longer tenable and had to be replaced by the standard model.

    In summary, your appeal to authority instead of evidence and logic would make a medieval churchman blush and proves nothing.

    4. You point to some defunct websites to demonstrate . . .what? That those websites are defunct. I’ll grant you that. So? The action has moved on to other forums. Do try to keep up won’t you Blue.

    5. Your assertion that that Dembski-Marks paper does not support the basic premises of ID is risible. Do you know better than the authors themselves, both of whom say the opposite? That question was rhetorical Blue. Stop typing.

    If I ever have doubts that Darwinism is in trouble, all I have to do is read its supporters and my doubts are laid to rest.

  103. Barry

    I can see Kintyre from my house.

    The above sentence, which I co-wrote with my dog, supports a flat earth. My dog agrees with me.

    5. Your assertion that that Dembski-Marks paper does not support the basic premises of ID is risible. Do you know better than the authors themselves, both of whom say the opposite? That question was rhetorical Blue. Stop typing.

    So lets leave the Humpty-Dumpty arguments from authority at the door…
    Blue did not assert that the D&M paper does not support ID. He merely noted that the paper fails to mention ID, and asked you to specify how it supports ID. It is, OTOH, D&M who appear to be doing the asserting.

  104. Barry:

    Your assertion that that Dembski-Marks paper does not support the basic premises of ID is risible.

    Then by all means, share the joke. The paper presents a relativized measure of search performance and applies it to various searches. How do you connect the dots to ID? (Without bringing up the tautological “If any search algorithm is to perform better than random search, active information must be resident”, please.)

  105. R0b,

    (Without bringing up the tautological “If any search algorithm is to perform better than random search, active information must be resident”…)

    How is that a tautology?

  106. Clive:

    How is that a tautology?

    Active information is quantified by measuring how much better the search is than random search. To say that a search is better than random search is to say that there is non-zero active information, by definition.

  107. R0b,

    So, to give an anology, to give any positive number, is to say that it is more than zero. That’s not a tautology, for the positive number isn’t all positive numbers, it is a specific number, a specific amount. It’s not exhaustive, so it’s not a tautology, because it is not all numbers, but rather a specific number.

  108. To Upright Biped,

    I read your comments, and I think weve done this to death.

    Its intersting but Ive got work to do.

  109. Barry Arrington

    Is the Darwinist camp so intellectually bankrupt that it attempts to divert attention from its failures by suggesting that ID proponents should have made a scientific case for ID 1,600 years before the scientific method was invented?

    1: According to many on this site it was Christinanity that trigged scientific understanding with the understanding that your god make the universe suitable for human understanding. Despite that, it takes the invention of the scientific method (deity agnostic) to make a start.

    And Barry, I don’t represent “the Darwinist camp”. And yes, I can see how tens of thousands of peer reviewed papers, articles and university level text books on “Darwinism” and it’s acceptance by 99%+ of the worlds biologists would be considered a failure by you.

    2:

    You want me to demonstrate that which has been demonstrated dozens (if not hundreds) of times before on this site?

    You said it, now back it up or admit it’s just bluster.

    3:

    Scientific orthodoxies come and go. A theory is orthodox up until the time it isn’t. Let me give you two examples. Plate tectonics went from lunacy to orthodoxy in a matter of decades. The steady state universe was orthodoxy until it was not longer tenable and had to be replaced by the standard model.

    In summary, your appeal to authority instead of evidence and logic would make a medieval churchman blush and proves nothing.

    This is true, however such orthodoxy is only ever overturned when the replacement can better explain the observed facts.

    I don’t think ID is in that position is it? Not now, not in 20 years time. If in 15 years all ID has is a single peer reviewed paper that does not explicity support ID then, well….
    4:

    You point to some defunct websites to demonstrate . . .what? That those websites are defunct. I’ll grant you that. So? The action has moved on to other forums. Do try to keep up won’t you Blue.

    To demonstrate that your claim that ID is about to take over is wrong. If there is no ground work being done then there is no takeover.

    Tell me Barry, where is the science of ID being discussed? And those websites are not just defunct, ISCID represents the only ID peer reviewed journal out there.

    So it’s not “just” a website it represents, it’s the scientific side of ID. Which, from looking at those websites has not progressed since 2005.
    5:

    5. Your assertion that that Dembski-Marks paper does not support the basic premises of ID is risible. Do you know better than the authors themselves, both of whom say the opposite? That question was rhetorical Blue. Stop typing.

    And what I asked you was in what way does it support ID?

    It’s ironic that one moment you can say

    In summary, your appeal to authority instead of evidence and logic would make a medieval churchman blush and proves nothing.

    and then with a straight face you say

    Do you know better than the authors themselves, both of whom say the opposite? That question was rhetorical Blue. Stop typing.

    And appeal to authority if ever I saw one.

    Tell you what Barry, I’ll stop typing if you say in your own words exactly how the Dembski/Marks paper supports ID. Why don’t you show me up in front of all these people by simply explaining to me how that paper supports ID?

  110. Barry Arrington

    Is the Darwinist camp so intellectually bankrupt that it attempts to divert attention from its failures

    Nope, but I’d like you to explain how that paper supports ID please, in your own words.

  111. Clive:

    So, to give an anology, to give any positive number, is to say that it is more than zero. That’s not a tautology, for the positive number isn’t all positive numbers, it is a specific number, a specific amount. It’s not exhaustive, so it’s not a tautology, because it is not all numbers, but rather a specific number.

    I’m afraid that I don’t understand how the analogy applies. The sentence in question communicates no specifics. I would analogize it to something like “In order for a car to move, it must have a non-zero velocity.”

  112. R0b,

    I’m afraid that I don’t understand how the analogy applies. The sentence in question communicates no specifics. I would analogize it to something like “In order for a car to move, it must have a non-zero velocity.”

    Of course, but the velocity is something in particular, not just generic “velocity” or all “velocities”. It is a particular, so it is not exhaustive, so it is not a tautology. So, your question to Barry is a non sequitur, for the “active information” involved is not a tautology.

  113. for the “active information” involved is not a tautology

    Clive, I don’t understand what it means for “active information” to be (or not be) a tautology. Is it your position that the sentence, “In order for a car to move, it must have a non-zero velocity,” is not tautological?

  114. Hi Clive

    So, your question to Barry is a non sequitur, for the “active information” involved is not a tautology.

    Out of interest, what units are “active information” measured in?

  115. 115

    Clive,

    Way off topic

    - – - – - – - -

    Not to inhibit this thread’s progress, but…

    Barrett Brown wants you to know that he is sensitive to having his name mis-spelled.

    http://trueslant.com/barrettbr.....t_comments

    Being one of UD’s more gracious regulars, I wanted to relay this important information to you, and ask that we all be more respectful in the future.

    /gratuitous satire

  116. 116

    By the way, Blue

    What causes one nucleotide to be followed by another along the linear chain of DNA?

  117. Upright Biped,

    Thanks for the update about Barrett Clown, I’ll be sure to spell his name correctly.

  118. R0b,

    To say that a car moves at a certain velocity is not tautological. So you’re still asserting a non sequitur about a certain amount of active information being tautological, so your question to Barry is a non starter.

  119. Clive:

    To say that a car moves at a certain velocity is not tautological.

    That, of course, does not answer the question that I asked.

    So you’re still asserting a non sequitur about a certain amount of active information being tautological

    I’m not asserting anything about a certain amount of active information being tautological. As I said, I don’t even know what that means. I only know what it means for a statement to be tautological. And the statement that I’m saying is tautological is, “If any search algorithm is to perform better than random search, active information must be resident.”

    Not sure we’re communicating here.

  120. Thanks for the update about Barrett Clown, I’ll be sure to spell his name correctly.

    That comment is embarrassingly juvenile.

    To say that a car moves at a certain velocity is not tautological. So you’re still asserting a non sequitur about a certain amount of active information being tautological, so your question to Barry is a non starter.

    R0b wrote, “In order for a car to move, it must have a non-zero velocity.” His example is a tautology; yours either misreads his or misunderstands the concept.

  121. Learned Hand:

    Genetic drift also causes evolution, doesn’t it?

    Since no-one has ever empirically witnessed cross-species (much less cross-class and above) evolution via genetic drift, it’s anybody’s guess. Makes for a nice story, though.

    Aren’t the morphological changes you identify caused by a change in allele frequency?

    Exactly, which occurs within the existing gene pool. Within a species, the gene pool does not cross outside of its constraints without mutation. Which is why in the case of the finches, the beak returns to its more common size average several generations after a drought.

    It’s like cards. The gene pool is like a fixed deck of 52, but yet highly variable when dealing out four cards. You can deal yourself four Twos from a deck of cards (and thus make an annoying, inbred little yap dog). But you can never, ever deal yourself five.

    Inches versus gallons…

  122. Spitfire,

    Speaking of tautologies, it appears that you have adopted an idiosyncratic definition of “evolution” that excludes, for some reason, genetic drift. Using your terminology, then changes in allele frequency caused by genetic drift are not “evolution.” I don’t know of anyone else who defines “evolution” that way, though. Perhaps you could consult a biologist regarding the best definition to use.

  123. Learned Hand,

    Barrett Brown and I have a bit of fun at each others expense. You should read his post.

    R0b wrote, “In order for a car to move, it must have a non-zero velocity.” His example is a tautology; yours either misreads his or misunderstands the concept.

    The misunderstanding is with him applying a tautology to active information, I don’t care what he has to say about a misleading car analogy that has no import to Dembski and Marks’ paper, and is a total non sequitur in reference to his question to Barry.

  124. R0b,

    “If any search algorithm is to perform better than random search, active information must be resident.”

    That’s not a tautology when you consider an amount of active information. How are you defining tautology?

  125. Clive,
    performing better than a random search is tautological with having active info, because this is just how active info is defined.

    Active info is DEFINED as by how much a search algorithm outperforms a random search. Therefore its is also tautological for specific values of active info. It is certainly tautological the way ROb has phrased it.

    This is a perfect example of a tautology. I could give you the advice to have a look at Wikipedia for a definition of “Tautology” but I am sure you know that already. So, why are you doing this?

  126. Indium,

    Active info is DEFINED as by how much a search algorithm outperforms a random search. Therefore its is also tautological for specific values of active info.

    No it’s not. You may as well say that any value, in any setting, is tautological because it’s that value. It could have been some other value. It’s not exhaustive among all sets of probabilities or instances, therefore it’s not a tautology. A tautology is exhaustive, particular values or specifics within a range, are not.

  127. Clive,
    What units is active information measured in?

    Is that different to the units FSCI is measured in?

    As to the tautology, could you give a few examples perhaps of both tautologys and non-tautologys realting to the subject matter at hand.

    That would help clear the picture I think.

  128. Clive,
    saying that a search can use (positive) active info is the same as saying it will outperform a random search. This is exhaustively true for all values of active info.

    Saying a car has a velocity is the same as saying that it moves faster then a non-moving object.

    Saying that a search uses active info is the same as saying it outperforms a random search.

    Saying a car moves at a velocity of 10 mph is the same as saying it moves 10 mph faster than an unmoving object.

    Saying that a search uses x bits of active info is the same as saying it outperforms a random search by a corresponding factor (look at Eq 4 in the D+M paper).

    It is tautological because all members of the group “having active info” are part of the group “outperform a random search”. We can also describe this in terms of information: Let´s say you have the information that a search can use active info. You then gain no additional info when somebody tells you that it outperfroms a random search. You knew that already, because it´s part of the definition of active info. Please have a look at Chapter II of the D+M paper for a definition of active info if you don´t believe me (especially Eq 4 and its explanation).


    Just to be sure: In this discussion having 0 active info is called having no active info. Having 0 velocity is called having no velocity.

  129. Clive:

    That’s not a tautology when you consider an amount of active information.

    Setting aside the question of whether considering an amount of active information can render the statement non-tautological, is the statement a tautology if no particular amount of active information is being considered?

  130. R0b,

    Setting aside the question of whether considering an amount of active information can render the statement non-tautological, is the statement a tautology if no particular amount of active information is being considered?

    A tautology is true by definition, like saying that it’s either raining outside, or it’s not; it has to be true for all values of its variables, meaning, that all values have been exhausted and there is no new information being given. This is not the case when citing active information that produces a refined search better than random, for not all of the variables have been exhausted. There is new information being given. It is tantamount to saying that, to use your analogy, the car is moving, which conveys that it is not still. If we say that the car is either moving or not, then it is a tautology, for no information at all is given. Thus, your question to Barry is a non sequitur.

  131. Clive, is there a hidden premise or ambiguity in my question that prevents you from answering yes or no?

    Speaking of which, I’m still waiting for you to tell me where I intentionally used vague language in this thread.

  132. This is not the case when citing active information that produces a refined search better than random, for not all of the variables have been exhausted. There is new information being given.

    What is the unexhausted variable? What is the new information?

  133. R0b,

    I answered you, your example is not a tautology. If you had said “a car is either in motion or not” then it would be. Asserting that it must have a velocity greater than zero is the same as saying that it must have a velocity, which is giving information, namely, what would occur, “velocity”, if a car were in motion on our planet given all of our natural laws. In certain circumstances, “velocity” wouldn’t be a given, so there is information that is obtained. But that’s only one instance of how your analogy isn’t a tautology.

  134. Learned Hand,

    What is the unexhausted variable? What is the new information?

    The unexhausted variable is all of the other variables not at hand in the active information. The new information is the fact that not all of the variables are exhausted, that active information isn’t all variables whatsoever, but particular.

  135. The unexhausted variable is all of the other variables not at hand in the active information. The new information is the fact that not all of the variables are exhausted, that active information isn’t all variables whatsoever, but particular.

    I don’t follow. Rob’s point was that active information is quantified by the improvement in the search over a random search, no? If that’s correct, then any quantifiable amount of active information means that the search in question must, also by definition, outperform a random search.

    It’s the same as defining a “moving” car as having a non-zero velocity; it’s tautological to say that the moving car has non-zero velocity. It’s tautological to say that a better-than random search has non-zero active information. It’s a rhetorical tautology–the repetition of the same concept in different terms.

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