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The Groupthink Syndrome

Read the following and ask yourself which side in the ID vs. Darwinism debate exhibits the groupthink syndrome:

The groupthink syndrome: Review of the major symptoms
Source: http://www.swans.com/library/art9/xxx099.html

In order to test generalization about the conditions that increase the chances of groupthink, we must operationalize the concept of groupthink by describing the symptoms to which it refers. Eight main symptoms run through the case studies of historic fiascoes. Each symptom can be identified by a variety of indicators, derived from historical records, observer’s accounts of conversations, and participants’ memoirs. The eight symptoms of groupthink are:

1. an illusion of invulnerability, shared by most or all the members, which creates excessive optimism and encourages taking extreme risks;

2. collective efforts to rationalize in order to discount warnings which might lead the members to reconsider their assumptions before they recommit themselves to their past policy decisions;

3. an unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality, inclining the members to ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions;

4. stereotyped views of enemy leaders as too evil to warrant genuine attempts to negotiate, or as too weak and stupid to counter whatever risky attempts are made to defeat their purposes;

5. direct pressure on any member who expresses strong arguments against any of the group’s stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, making clear that this type of dissent is contrary to what is expected of all loyal members;

6. self-censorship of deviations from the apparent group consensus, reflecting each member’s inclination to minimize to himself the importance of his doubts and counterarguments;

7. a shared illusion of unanimity concerning judgments conforming to the majority view (partly resulting from self-censorship of deviations, augmented by the false assumption that silence means consent);

8. the emergence of self-appointed mindguards – members who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decisions.

When a policy-making group displays most or all of these symptoms, the members perform their collective tasks ineffectively and are likely to fail to attain their collective objectives. Although concurrence-seeking may contribute to maintaining morale after a defeat and to muddling through a crisis when prospects for a successful outcome look bleak, these positive effects are generally outweighed by the poor quality of the group’s decision-making. My assumption is that the more frequently a group displays the symptoms, the worse will be the quality of its decisions. Even when some symptoms are absent, the others may be so pronounced that we can predict all the unfortunate consequences of groupthink.

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90 Responses to The Groupthink Syndrome

  1. Speaking as an evolutionary biologist who argues regularly with other evolutionary biologists about almost everything, I can state that (at Cornell at least) none of the characteristics listed apply to any of the evolutionary biologists I know personally.

    However, every single one of them apply (in spades) to some of the anti-evolution/YEC groups with which I have had contact over the years. Let me hasten to add that I do NOT include the Cornell IDEA club in this, as my interactions with them have always indicated to me that they have as healthy a skepticism about their own beliefs as I have about mine. But in general, I have found that most anti-evolution group members begin with the unshakeable position that no amount of empirical evidence can possibly make them change their beliefs. In fact, most such groups require a “confession of faith” in which such absolute adherence to dogma is required for group membership (the ICR is just the most notorious of such organizations).

    Let me repeat once again a point that seems to be constantly overlooked: I have come to my current beliefs about nature and natural processes through a long process of investigation and interpretation of evidence. I have changed my mind about how I believe nature works many times since beginning to study it, and expect that this will happen again as more evidence is presented. This is what a scientist does, and so the list of characteristics heading this post quite literally is antithetical to both the spirit and practice of science as I understand it.

    However, it seems to me to pretty accurately describe the behavior and mindset of many religously-motivated anti-evolution groups.

  2. This syndrome, IMO, is commonly known as,”Follow the leader”.
    I have never known a leader to have a guide, a pathfinder a path, nor a trailblazer a trail.
    Blessings

  3. Allen_MacNeill :
    “I can state that (at Cornell at least) none of the characteristics listed apply to any of the evolutionary biologists I know personally.”

    Obviously you don’t know Will Provine.

    Obviously also you haven’t heard, participated or read any debates involving many key characters in the debate on a whole in a long time. And it would seem, by your comments, that neither do you read the typical sci magazines when focusing on the issue.

    Quite surprising. You must be very busy indeed.

    As for the ID side – it is not, inspite of the most common claims by darwinists, the same thing as theistic “creationism” – such as adhered to by your mentioned ICR.

    Indeed, religiously-motivated anti-evo groups can be very stubborn as well. But at least those who adhere to the christian view have a good reason to be such, since they’re right about human origins. ;-)

  4. Allen: You really need to mix more in the real world. Question: did your views on evolution ever lead to you losing an academic job? No? From your cossetted little academic fiefdom, it’s all very easy to blow smoke. For your fatuous remarks above, I should boot you from this forum, but that would only confirm your delusions.

  5. Actually, Will Provine is my best friend: we co-teach the introductory evolution course at Cornell. And we disagree, sometimes pretty vehemently, on many topics in evolution. We also regularly invite members of the ID community to make presentations in our courses – indeed, in my evolution/design seminar this past summer, the founder and president of the Cornell IDEA club was one of the course organizers and moderator of the course website.

    And contrary to your assertions, I have been engaged in debating anti-evolutionists for years – pretty much the same length of time I have been engaged in debating evolutionary biologists whose ideas I do not agree with.

    What I have found as the result of such debates is that scientists are always ready, willing, and able to change their minds about their own sciences, so long as they are presented with convincing empirical evidence. Until then, however, they will continue to use the “rough and ready” – and tentative – generalizations that they have formulated as the result of past empirical investigation.

    This is precisely what religiously motivated anti-evolutions do not (indeed, cannot) do, since their beliefs are not based on empirical evidence, nor are they open to question, much less skepticism. Here is where the difference between scientists and anti-scientists is most obvious. As T. H. Huxley (and Charles Darwin) said on numerous occasions, one should be most skeptical about one’s own most deeply held beliefs. Otherwise, one is likely to believe in something because one wants to, rather than because the evidence demands it.

    For an example of how science is always “tentative”, see this essay:

    http://arstechnica.com/journal.....10/13/5609

    And, if you have the time, please find for me an equivalent statement of “skeptical tentativeness” presented as a defining characteristic of religiously motivated anti-evolutionism.

  6. Dr. Dembski:

    Once again you attack me personally, without knowing anything about my beliefs or history.

    Please, for the record, which of my comments was “fatuous” and in what way?

    And, for the record, I came close to having my evolution/design seminar “delisted” this summer, but with Will Provine’s help, it went on as planned…with Hannah Maxson (founder and president of the Cornell IDEA Club as a full participant and moderator of the course website).

    I can understand your bitterness as the result of the Baylor affair, but does that give you the right to attack me in what virtually anyone would recognize as pure ad hominem viciousness? What happened to arguing propositions on their intellectual merits? Are you that much less of a gentleman and a scholar as my friend and colleague Hannah Maxson?

  7. And, for the record, exactly what would “booting me from this forum” confirm – my “fatuousness” or “delusions”, or your inability to countenance opposing opinions in an atmosphere of collegial debate?

    My own blog is online at
    http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/
    Please feel free to visit at your leisure, and post comments on whatever topic you wish. And, rest assured, so long as you adhere to the rules of “spirited academic debate” you will not be “booted” from that forum, and I will not characterize your self or your actions as either “fatuous” or “deluded.”

  8. “I have found that most anti-evolution group members…”

    ID proponents are not anti-evolution. I am an evolutionist: Living systems have changed. This is obvious.

    “I have come to my current beliefs about nature and natural processes through a long process of investigation and interpretation of evidence…”

    So have I, and it is transparently obvious that random mutation and natural selection is hopelessly inadequate as an explanation of life’s complexity, information content, and functionally integrated machinery. This is a fantasy of the highest order, which flies in the face of evidence and logic.

    The main point is this: Religious believers are free to associate or dissociate as they please within the religious and secular communities. Darwinists have a monopoly on public education, with the power of the State and the legal system to impose their beliefs and speculations on other people’s children (along with all the attendant philosophical and religious implications, which children pick up on immediately).

    Darwinists also use the power of the State and the legal system to suppress dissent, even when that dissent is based on scientific evidence. They also use their power, in publicly funded institutions, to attempt to demonize, vilify, and even excommunicate heretics who dare to raise questions about the reigning orthodoxy.

    Everyone is susceptible to groupthink. That’s human nature. The danger occurs when groupthink is coercively imposed.

  9. The fundamental criterion in science has always been “is there empirical evidence for the generalization?” If the answer is “yes,” then it’s admitted into the canon; if the answer is “no,” then it isn’t.

    I would be the first to admit that “random mutation and natural selection” alone is insufficient to explain both the diversity of life on Earth and the exquisiteness of biological adaptations. However, the phrase “random mutation and natural selection” captures about as much of the full scope of evolutionary theory as “what goes up must come down” captures the full scope of general relativity and Newtonian gravitation.

    As I always emphasize to my students, natural selection is not a process, nor is “random mutation” either “random” nor simply limited to “mutation.” As anyone who understands the underlying structure of evolutionary theory understands, the real source of all evolutionary change is not natural selection, but rather the “engine of variation” that provides the raw material that is passed from parents to offspring (and sometimes horizontally as well) and then parsed by the demographic processes we lump together under the heading of “differential reproductive success.”

    It is the “engine of variation” that both IDers and EBers are really interested in, and which is only just now becoming amenable to scientific investigation. I believe that it is still an open question just exactly how this “engine” operates, and what its scope (and limitations) might be. That said, it is only empirical investigations that will unlock its secrets. Unless and until ID begins to perform empirical investigations that can unambiguously separate standard EB explanations from ID ones, the scientific community will continue to investigate (and to teach) the former.

    And no amount of press releases or public debates or political maneuvering in school boards will change that basic principle.

  10. Allen: Pardon me for not being impressed with the threat of having a course “delisted.” As for being willing to argue the evidence and its interpretation, please refer me to any of your writings in which you lay out the positive case for evolution (why you are a believer) and your refutation of ID. URLs will be fine. As for evolutionary theory being so much richer than strict Darwinism, this holds little water with me, especially since most attempted refutations of ID look to the power of natural selection (have a look at my intro to UNCOMMON DISSENT — the book — in which I spell out why Darwinism is the core of evolutionary biology). Oh, please stop the whining about ad hominems — you seem to give as good as you get. Finally, Baylor and I have patched up our differences — I have good colleagues there in a number of departments and some active research projects with them which I expect will in the next year to bear fruit.

  11. William: The URL you requested is already listed in the previous comments. You might also be interested in my most recent publication:

    “The Capacity for Religious Experience is an Evolutionary Adaptation for Warfare”, Evolution & Cognition, 10:1, pp. 43-60.

    It’s also available as chapter 10 in Fitzduff & Stout, eds. (2005) The Psychology of Resolving Global Conflicts, Vol. 1, Praeger Security International/Greenwood Pubs., Westport, CT, pp. 257-284

    Unfortunately, my introductory evolution textbook is still being written (under contract with Wiley) and my lecture series on evolutionary psychology from The Teaching Company won’t be out until next year. However, if you go back through the archives at my blog at:
    http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/
    you can probably get a good idea of where I stand on most of these issues.

    And, for the record, let me publically apologize for the tone of my criticism of your comments found at:
    http://scienceblogs.com/dispat.....l_fisk.php
    Had I stuck to statements of fact (and analyzed simply your statements and compared them to the record), I believe that I might not have strayed into ad hominem territory. But the last couple of paragraphs were pure speculation about your motives and state of mind, and only you know what those are. Such speculation is out of bounds for any intellectual debate, and I therefore apologize for it and hope that you do not continue to hold it against me.

    Henceforth, I will try to conduct myself as a “gentleman and a scholar” in our interactions (assuming there are any), and trust that you will do the same.

  12. Allen

    Unless and until EB begins to perform empirical investigations that can unambiguously separate standard EB explanations from ID ones, the layperson community will continue to push for the teaching of both regardless of the academic groupthink conclusion that ID is religion.

    And no amount of press releases or public debates or political maneuvering in school boards will change that basic principle.

  13. This is precisely why both Will Provine and I always invite both our students and faculty members (such as Michael Behe) to make presentations in our evolution courses in support of whatever side they believe in.

    However, at present I can’t think of any empirical investigations that have unambiguously supported the ID position and falsified the EB position. For example, although I provide students with copies of Behe and Snoke (2004), they pretty quickly realize that it is not a report of an empirical investigation, but rather is simply a report of a computer simulation of a theoretical model.

    And, although we teach an entire semester of evolutionary biology to our students, a significant fraction of the class continues to believe in either God-guided evolution or ID (around 30% of the class, to be precise). Furthermore, very few students actually change their minds between the beginning and the end of the course, according to a pre- and post-course poll (modeled on the 1982 Gallup poll). I believe that’s because we present the evidence as fairly as we can, and let the students make up their own minds. The fact that 60% of them come into the course believing in naturalistic evolution and slightly more than that leave the course at the end is testimony to something, but I’m willing to think it’s the persistence of belief in the face of evidence (on both sides).

  14. “the raw material that is passed from parents to offspring (and sometimes horizontally as well) ”
    ********************************
    Allen, how would one know this is “raw” and
    how is it passed “horizontally?
    Also, if you learn how the engine of a car functions, what does that tell you about
    the driver, where he’s going, or how much
    gas is in the tank?

    Zero

  15. The fact that 60% of them come into the course believing in naturalistic evolution and slightly more than that leave the course at the end is testimony to something

    Testimony to the truth in that if authority figures repeat a lie enough times to a child he will eventually believe it.

  16. Precisely, and this of course refers to the other 30% who are God-guided evolutionists and IDers, and to the 10% that are young-Earth creationists, right?

    And the students who do change their minds, becoming naturalist evolutionists – have Will and I “lied” to them? Or have they, presented with the evidence from both sides (including lectures by Michael Behe, John Stannard, Hannah Maxson, and many others), changed their minds and decided that the evidence points to naturalistic evolution?

  17. Zero:

    The “raw material” to which I referred is the huge amount of genetic and phenotypic variation that is produced in every generation of a typical population of organisms. This is what differential survival and reproduction parses and what results in the phenomenon we call “natural selection.”

    “Horizontal information transfer” is what viruses do: transfer information from individual to individual, regardless of direction (i.e. not just from parents to offspring).

    And as to the analogy between the engine of a car and its historical trajectory (i.e. where is has been and where it appears to be going), that is precisely where the traditional split between microevolution and macroevolution apertains.

    Microevolution is those processes by which populations change over time: natural selection, sexual selection, genetic drift/draft, meiotic drive, etc. – these are the “engine” that drives the car, and all of them ultimately depend on the “engine of variation” that produces new genotypes and phenotypes (and which includes at least two dozen genetic and developmental processes in addition to “random mutation”).

    Macroevolution is the actual patterns of change at and above the species level that have occurred over deep evolutionary time. The mechanisms of macroevolution appear now to be not simply reducible to microevolution in many cases. Rather, they involve historically contingent processes, such as mass extinction/adaptive radiation, endosymbiosis, developmental plasticity, and large-scale genome rearrangements that produce effects that are not capturable in the standard mathematical models of microevolution.

  18. Allen, thank you.
    Perhaps we might continue some of this
    on your site sometime.

    You mean, as a driver, I might learn
    where I’m going by where I’ve been?

    I’m just a carpenter. I once clipped a bird’s wing and learned he couldn’t fly. Does that make me a scientist?

    Zero

  19. Macroevolution could also be largely an unfolding of preexisting information. Just as an individual organism is the ontogenetic unfolding of preexisting information so too could macroevolution be the phylogenetic unfolding of preexisting information.

  20. have Will and I “lied” to them

    Possibly unwittingly but yes. Dogma taught as empirical truth is a lie. It doesn’t matter whether the dogma is religious or secular.

    and this of course refers to the other 30% who are God-guided evolutionists and IDers, and to the 10% that are young-Earth creationists, right?

    True. The thing of it is that one side’s dogma gets exclusivity in public education while any opposing dogma or even just criticism is legally censored.

    I wonder what that 60% figure would be reduced to if there was a level playing field in public school where the other side gets a few minutes on the podium to present an opposing view, hmmmm? Not much interested in a level playing field are you, Allen?

  21. Allen MacNeill

    Thanks a lot for coming onto UD. It is easier to see what is truth, and what is dogma by interactions with those of an opposing view.

    Unfortunately the ID / NDE debate comes with a history and it is easy, even within a family, for history to result in heated exchanges.

    We all need to understand eachother and that we in ID like many of those in non ID EB really want to find out what are the processes that generate the variations upon which geographical and environmental selection pressures work.

    I think it is true to say that many of us in the ID movement are of the opinion that organisms are built in such a way that their software modules would not be greatly enhanced through random mistakes. These potentially unproductive mistakes would seem also to cover transcription reversals, but of course would not include modules borrowed from other species in horizontal gene transfer and symbiosis.

    I think the real difficulty we have is much more basic. The improbability and specificity of biomolecules and their highly interdependent nature within any conceivable early life candidate, would seem to preclude non-design models of origins. Dawkins calls this arguing from incredulity, but I think all of science generally works from a very sceptical base, except maybe when it comes to naturalistic origin of life and origin of biological designs.

    I hope you pop in here at times to have your say.

  22. 22

    Allen. I will bring this up again, just to remind others here how full of it you are.

    You said this above about Dr. Dembski:

    I can understand your bitterness as the result of the Baylor affair, but does that give you the right to attack me in what virtually anyone would recognize as pure ad hominem viciousness? What happened to arguing propositions on their intellectual merits? Are you that much less of a gentleman and a scholar as my friend and colleague Hannah Maxson?

    BUTm uh oh!…this is your comment to Denyse and Bill in another post here on the website:

    “This is precisely the reason why I find people like you folks on this website so utterly without moral or intellectual fiber of any kind…in particular William Demski. You assume a priori that Wilson is disingenuous and cynical in his call for cooperation between evangelicals and scientists to save the creation, and therefore ignore (and even heap abuse on) his message. This kind of behavior is what one expects from bigots…so I’m not surprised to find it here.

    There is a reason why people like Dembski and yourselves are reviled by members of the “community of scholars”, and it doesn’t have to do with ID. It has to do with basic human decency, a trait which he and you have repeatedly shown that you entirely lack. A true scholar attacks the argument, but never the person. Shame on you…shame on you all.”

    The best part of the quote there is where you attack Bill and Denyse as lacking any human decency and having not a shred of moral fiber, and in the very next sentence saying that a true scholar attacks the argument not the person. Which means what Al? You’ve proven you are 1. very very confused. 2. A hypocite, and 3. Not a true scholar since you just defied your own rule on what a true scholar is! (Lesson? Being a scientist doesn’t necessarily make you the smartest or smoothest guy around.)

    Now, please stop speaking out of both sides of your mouth. You place your foot firmly in one side when you complain that you think Bill is better and isn’t a gentlemen when you YOURSELF came to THEIR website to say they were bigots with not a shred of moral fiber.

    I mean, seriously Al, who DO you think you are? Do your students have to put up with this bologna too?

    Don’t worry…anytime you spout your nonsense about being a gentleman, I’ll be sure to post the above quote to make sure everyone knows the great gentleman you are yourself!

    I wouldn’t waste my time with Al here. I mean- he called us bigots- can we really expect him to have anything meaningful to say? I especially like how he calls us here at the site bigots, when he complains that Bill attacked him but knows nothing about him? Another example of doublespeak from the good professor!

  23. 23

    To everyone else- my apologies for having to bring that all up again, but I’m not going to let Al come into a thread, whine about personal attacks, apologize for his personal attacks at Brayton’s site, then come here and attack Bill, Denyse, and “people like [us] on this website [UD]” as having no decency, no morals, etc.

    It’s just silly. If you come into a forum attacking someone with a MAJOR overreaction and call them bigots, you have little to nothing of meaning to add to the conversation. If I start of my comment saying “You are all bigoted scumbags with no moral fiber…” then there’s no possible way to have a civil discussion. Allen has proven himself on at least 3 occassions incapable of being civil (at Brayton’s site and twice here at UD). When someone comes here and starts attacking the people and not their ideas or their actions, we should expose it.

    I don’t know Allen, and with his VERY rude attitude here, I frankly don’t care to know him, but the quote above is accurate and that’s all I’m attacking. I’m attacking his actions and his comments. He can’t live by his own rules to attack a person’s ideas and not the person, but hopefully the rest of us can. And hopefully we can do our best to ignore those who call us bigots and worse, but do our best to let others know the true nature of those who called us bigots to begin with.

    I’d like to finally second the comment that ID isn’t anti-evolution. That’s a distortion to trick the general public into equating ID with creationism (which I have nothing against, but let’s be honest on what ID is and what it isn’t.)

  24. John A Hewitt, not an ID supporter, writes of his views on the Groupthink Syndrome.

    “I spent spent many years working as a scientist but, during those years, I was very disappointed to find that professional colleagues were generally reluctant to engage in the kind of rational debate that is usually taken to characterize science.

    Put bluntly, my experience was that many, though by no means all, real scientists commonly engage in various forms of deception. Even quite extreme acts such as the theft of other workers’ results, misrepresentation and lying are all common patterns of behavior.

    Nowadays I realize that such experiences are quite common and that studies into the history and sociology of science indicate that, in varying degrees and despite the contrary propaganda, disingenuous or deceitful debating tactics have always been widespread in science. In practice scientific debate does not seem like a real search for truth. Rather it seems like a multiplayer game in which, though formal rules are asserted to exist, those rules are never enforced.

    In science, the referees are never willing to blow their whistle and, as a result, many players just seek to win their game, whatever game they may perceive it to be, by any means, fair or foul.”

  25. “…in general, I have found that most anti-evolution group members begin with the unshakeable position that no amount of empirical evidence can possibly make them change their beliefs.”

    Speaking as a YEC myself, I would say that I’m open minded, but there is no evidence that would change my mind. That is, if presented with solid empirical evidence for evolution I would change my position, but such evidence does not exist. Certainly I’ve never seen any. (which is the basis of my belief that it does not exist)

  26. The Groupthink Syndrome aplies perfectly to the Darwinian priesthood, specially points 4, 5 and 6.

  27. Allen,

    You say that most anti-evolutionists provide no empirical evidence. Maybe that is too broad a characterization but it is far from true.

    The anti evolutionists is a misnomer for most of us as Gil Dodgen says most of believe in change in life forms over time. What we dispute is the mechanism for these changes.

    We have seen no evidence for the gradualism mechanism as advocated by Darwin and his neo Darwin successors. The fossil record is empirical evidence enough to falsify that position.

    Such mechanism as co-option, lateral transfer of genetic information, other massive changes to a genome such as gene duplication make nice academic discussions but we have yet to see examples where this could be the engine of allele changes or allele creation that is necessary to explain the diversity of life over the last 540 million years.

    It would be nice if you could present such information some place and not just refer to a blog where it may or may not be embedded some place.

    No one else who has come here has been able to do so and unless you have some definitive cites and examples we will have to say the same about your comment.

    I recently went through a semester course of videos on biology that Berkeley posts on their website and the evolution section failed to do what I have asked so I assume the information does not exist or why would not Berkeley present it.

  28. 1. an illusion of invulnerability, shared by most or all the members, which creates excessive optimism and encourages taking extreme risks;

    Which is illustrated nicely by Ernst Mayr who, after the first Wistar confernce proclaimed-

    Somehow or other by adjusting these figures we will come out all right. We are comforted by the fact that evolution has occurred.

    Then there is the fact that common descent is first assumed and then “confirming” evidence gathered. However there is still no way to test the original assumption!

    2. collective efforts to rationalize in order to discount warnings which might lead the members to reconsider their assumptions before they recommit themselves to their past policy decisions;

    This was observed (and carries on today) after “Darwin’s Black Box” was first published and irreducible complexity was popularized.

    I could go on but it is obvious the conditions in the OP match anti-IDists to a tee.

    I wonder if DR McNeil tells his students that we don’t even know what makes an organism what it is beyond the following (from geneticist Giusseppe Sermonti):

    The scientist enjoys a privilege denied the theologian. To any question, even one central to his theories, he may reply “I’m sorry but I do not know.” This is the only honest answer to the question posed by the title of this chapter. We are fully aware of what makes a flower red rather than white, what it is that prevents a dwarf from growing taller, or what goes wrong in a paraplegic or a thalassemic. But the mystery of species eludes us, and we have made no progress beyond what we already have long known, namely, that a kitty is born because its mother was a she-cat that mated with a tom, and that a fly emerges as a fly larva from a fly egg.

    Does he tell his students that the materialistic anti-ID position is nothing more than “sheer-dumb-luck”? If not, why not?

  29. “My argument will be that Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. If I am right it means that, even if there were no actual evidence in favour of Darwinian theory (there is, of course) we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories. ”

    Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (1996) pp.287-288

    Is this dogma or sound scientific reasoning? Would Dawkins justify this statement because the materialism requirement of science disqualifies ID?

  30. Jerry wrote:

    “We have seen no evidence for the gradualism mechanism as advocated by Darwin and his neo Darwin successors. The fossil record is empirical evidence enough to falsify that position.”

    And here, I would pretty much agree with you. As Eldredge and Gould first pointed out in 1972, the fossil record does not support the gradualist model that Darwin implied and that later was institutionalized in the “modern evolutionary synthesis.” As Will Provine has pointed out, the “synthesis” was actually more of a “constriction,” as it tended to put primacy of place on mathematical models of allele frequency change in populations, to the exclusion of all other arguments.

    What made Eldredge and Gould’s theory of punctuated equilibrium so controversial was that it shook the foundations of the “synthetic” (i.e. mathematical-model-based) theory and pointed out that theory should conform to empirical observations (i.e. the fossil record), and not the other way around. The accrimony that “punk eek” generated within the community of evolutionary biologists was certainly as intense as that between EBers and IDers today, and still lingers in some quarters. However, what seems to me to be the big difference so far is that supports of punk eek did the hard work of finding and presenting empirical evidence for the theory, and have now begun the exciting work of tying it to evo-devo mechanisms. That, in my opinion, is how science proceeds, and why to date I have such a low opinion of most IDers.

    Jerry also wrote:

    “Such mechanisms as co-option, lateral transfer of genetic information, other massive changes to a genome such as gene duplication make nice academic discussions but we have yet to see examples where this could be the engine of allele changes or allele creation that is necessary to explain the diversity of life over the last 540 million years.”

    On the contrary, my good friend Lynn Margulis has spent the last three decades providing extremely detailed empirical evidence in favor of the hypothesis that much significant macroevolutionary change has come about through what she and her son Dorian have called “acquiring genomes” (from the recent book of the same name. That is, the lateral combination of genetic systems from unrelated organisms by the process of symbiosis, especially endosymbiosis. The origin of eukaryotic cells is only example of how such lateral genetic recombination can produce an immense amount of genetic and developmental novelty, none of it explainable using the limited mathematical machinery of the “modern synthesis.”

    If it sounds like I’m critical of the neo-darwinian “synthesis,” that’s because I am. And I’m not alone: Will Provine has shown repeatedly that virtually all of the central tenets of the “modern synthesis” of circa 1959 have been superceded or shown to be unsupported by the evidence.

    Should this surprise anyone? After all, the “modern synthesis” is now almost a half century old. Has physics changed much since 1959? Chemistry? Developmental genetics? That’s the nature of science: it changes over time as the result of new discoveries. Theories get modified all the time, and sometimes what seems to be central to a discipline is what must be changed.

    But none of this happens via press release or appeals to the lay public. Science is not democratic: no amount of voting or slick advertising can alter the value of the gravitational constant or change the AUG start codon for methionine. Science evolves as the result of the hard, often slogging work of researchers in the field and laboratory, who formulate and test hypotheses using empirical methods and statistical analysis. So far, the vast majority of IDers have not deigned to participate. Until they do, what they do cannot be considered science. Public relations perhaps, or some amalgam of PR and politics, mixed at times with religious proselitizing. But not science…

  31. Joseph wrote:

    “I wonder if DR McNeil tells his students that we don’t even know what makes an organism what it is…”

    No, I must admit that I do not tell them that. Instead, I assign them Sean Carroll’s new book, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, and we spend a few weeks talking about precisely what Joseph seems to think we know nothing about: how a unicellular zygote becomes a multicellular animal.

    And no, we don’t throw up our hands and say “It’s a mystery about which we know nothing.” Nope, we do our level best to figure it out, using the tools that experience has shown will serve best for that process: empirical investigation combined with rigorous statistical (and sometimes mathematical) analysis.

    That’s how real science is done.

  32. Zero asked:

    “You mean, as a driver, I might learn
    where I’m going by where I’ve been?”

    An interesting analogy: from an evolutionary viewpoint, that is exactly right. The future is entirely determined by the past; events in the past constraint the trajectory of events in the future. That’s what cause-and-effect and the “arrow of time” are all about.

    “I’m just a carpenter. I once clipped a bird’s wing and learned he couldn’t fly. Does that make me a scientist?”

    Yep, especially if you wondered beforehand if clipping the bird’s wing might prevent it from flying. That’s the hypothetico-deductive method in a nutshell: observe reality (birds seem to use their winds to fly), formulate a testable hypothesis (wings are necessary for bird flight), make a prediction (therefore, if I clip this bird’s wing, it should be unable to fly), test the prediction (clip the birds wing and see if it can fly afterward), and compare the outcome of the test to the original hypothesis (can the bird still fly? If it can, your hypothesis has been falsified; if not, your hypothesis has been validated).

  33. I am reminded of Ernst Mayr, in his last book What Makes Biology Unique, in which he argues that Thomas Kuhn’s work on Revolutions does not apply to EB at all. Of course, EBs are free to disagree, but I’ve only seen praise of his work…

    Allen writes,
    “However, every single one of them apply (in spades) to some of the anti-evolution/YEC groups”….

    Forgive me for not understanding what “in spades” means, but I do direct you to the book “Three Views on Creation and Evolution” in which John Mark Reynolds-YEC-says in his part that the scientific evidence is not strongest for his position. Does that sound like invincibility? And the fact that he’s writing in a book with two other positions, does that not show a willingness to exchange views?

    Have you read James Porter Moreland’s book Christianity and the Nature of Science on the scientific status of a creation hypothesis? Or Bruce Gordon’s essay, http://www.4truth.net/site/app.....ct=1740333, on the scientific status of design inferences? Have you responded?

    Have you seen the one hour documentary on evolution on the Science channel? It’s like hearing atheism 101. No differing views are discussed… sure, not all EBs are like that, but I haven’t seen any condemn the show.

    Al:
    “…have Will and I “lied” to them?”…
    Dave:
    Possibly unwittingly but yes.
    Me: Isn’t the essence of a lie the fact that you know it’s not true?

  34. Sheut, you get bored with the website and suddenly you realize that you missed out on the heart of a great thread.

    Dr. MacNeill, its been enjoyable to have your opinion expressed here, even though you did start out surprisingly “spirited”. I am puzzled that you seem to have encountered honest IDers quite a bit, yet you still seem to equate us with the “Bible first (my interpretation only please)” crowd down at ICR.

    I am fairly typical of bloggers on this site — not a professional biologist, or scientist for that matter. I have a religious perspective, and I realize that it colors my interpretation of the facts. However, having a bias is much different than having a closed mind.

    It seems, however, that your position is very ID friendly. I was most intrigued by your statement:

    It is the “engine of variation” that both IDers and EBers are really interested in, and which is only just now becoming amenable to scientific investigation. I believe that it is still an open question just exactly how this “engine” operates, and what its scope (and limitations) might be.

    As I read the view of IDers, this “engine of variation” is the main bone of contention that exists between the ID evolutionist and the NDE evolutionist. I respect that your position is that the nature of this “engine” is not well understood.

    You have also introduced me to a few new terms, “endosymbiosis, developmental plasticity, and large-scale genome rearrangements”. I will be exploring the net to learn about these because I am not in a position to take your courses.

    Lastly, you mention the issue of few people changing camps in your course, but more moving to evolution than otherwise. It brings me back to when I was in Bible College. I took a course called “The Pentatute”, which taught only Genesis 1. The position of the instructor was clearly young earth. It worked for many in the class, but brought me to the conclusion that I now had a thorough enough grasp of all of the available evidence to make up my mind. I have not held a young earth theology since.

    However, I also recall a fellow sharing on one of these forums, this one I believe. His Ph. D. thesis was on ATP synthase. When he had finished his thesis he had concluded that NDE was in error, and that his religious conviction “athieism” was also in error. This knife certainly cuts both ways.

    When Cornell offered your science course that was giving ID a seat at the table, this website was all abuz. We, in general, were very excited to see honest discussion about ID. I, for one, would love to see you be a regular poster on this site.

  35. DaveScot wrote:

    “Macroevolution could also be largely an unfolding of preexisting information. Just as an individual organism is the ontogenetic unfolding of preexisting information so too could macroevolution be the phylogenetic unfolding of preexisting information.”

    This is an interesting hypothesis, and one that is potentially testable. For example, Lynn Margulis has suggested that most of animal developmental genetics, and especially sex, are the result of the peculiar mechanism by which animals make gametes and zygotes: meiosis, followed by the fusion of haploid gametes. Unlike in other organisms, sexual reproduction appears to be obligate in most animals (but c.f. whiptail lizards). Margulis has proposed that this is because the complexity of animal developmental genetics requires a much higher level of genetic fidelity during gamete production and fusion: as some IDers have rightly pointed out, genetic alterations in animals (e.g. “mutations”) are much more likely to result in non-viability than equivalent alterations in other organisms. Hence, a very complex mechanism (the entire prophase I through anaphase I apparatus) is required to minimize the deleterious effects of genetic changes, essentially by using comparison between non-identical genomes for error-correction.

    And so, because of developmental genetic constraints, most animals are “required” to have sex as a prerequisite to reproduction. In the fullness of evolutionary time, this seemingly simple constraint has resulted in Darwin’s “mechanism” of sexual selection, and the immense complexity that accompanies the physiological and behavioral differences between the sexes in animals, including significant portions of our own behavior.

    Is this “front-loading” or “the unfolding of a pre-existing plan?” Not exactly; there is no evidence that indicates that the peculiar mechanism of meiotic sex—>haploid gametic fusion—>diploid development was in any way “intended” to bring about such things as the reluctance of men to ask for directions or women’s seeming obsession with shoes. However, that’s the way contingency works in evolutionary biology: it sets things in motion that, in the fullness of time, bring about complexity piled on complexity.

  36. As to the question of “lying” to students, I once overheard a conversation between two professors (while showering at the gym). One mentioned how he taught a particular concept, to which the other replied “Isn’t that just a little deceptive?” The other replied “Every educational act begins with an act of deception.”

    And I agree. When we investigate the world around us, we are as scientists required to be as skeptical as possible, especially about our own most cherished preconceptions. Otherwise we may miss the anomaly that leads to a whole new field of investigation.

    However, when we communicate this to our students (and to granting agencies, etc.), we have to sound much more certain about what we think we know than we are amongst ourselves. Why? Because the most common reaction to ambiguity is immediate rejection. Students who are constantly exposed to a litany of ambiguous statements quickly come to the conclusion that a teacher who deals only in ambiguities doesn’t know anything about the subject.

    In other words, to make it possible to understand the flaws in a theory, one must first understand the theory. One cannot attack a position that is composed entirely of vague ambiguities. This is why Ernst Mayr always stated his beliefs in the strongest possible terms. He wanted people to understand as clearly as possible what he was asserting, so that if they disagreed with him (which many of us did), we would know exactly what it was we disagreed with, and how best to attack it.

  37. BenZ wrote:

    “I am reminded of Ernst Mayr, in his last book What Makes Biology Unique, in which he argues that Thomas Kuhn’s work on Revolutions does not apply to EB at all.”

    And here I could not disagree more with Ernst Mayr. On the contrary, I believe that evolutionary biology has a larger than usual quotient of scientific revolutions of the type described by Kuhn. That is how I structure my introductory evolution course: we take a historical approach to evolutionary biology, pointing out the various revolutions and controversies that have accompanied them.

    I believe that Ernst, especially in his later years, was trying his best to “hold together” a discipline that had exploded since he himself revolutionized it in the 1930s. That’s what happens when you get old and stop doing field work: you rely more and more on memory, and less and less on observation to draw conclusions. It’s already happening to me, as hard as I try not to fall prey to it.

    Maybe this is why most Nobel prize winners in science are either under the age of 40, or did the work for which they were finally recognized when they were much younger?

  38. So when Ernst Mayr wrote, in his 1998 book What Evolution Is in the questions in the back of the book, “Evolution is simply a fact”, he was stating it in clear terms? I’ve always admired Mayr, however, for his quote in the same book on the status of Christian ethics.

    “That’s what happens when you get old and stop doing field work: you rely more and more on memory, and less and less on observation to draw conclusions.”

    I have considered this, but I think Mayr at least has some merit to him–he tried to learn more Philosophy later in life and apply it to Biology so that I’m not so sure that this crituqe applies in full (I think he might have been reading up on the newest info and history of evolution).

  39. Also, I am reminded of Richard Feynman in his book “Surely You’re Joking”…

    “That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school–we never say explicitly what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards.”

  40. “I wonder if DR McNeil tells his students that we don’t even know what makes an organism what it is…”

    Allen MacNeill:
    No, I must admit that I do not tell them that. Instead, I assign them Sean Carroll’s new book, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, and we spend a few weeks talking about precisely what Joseph seems to think we know nothing about: how a unicellular zygote becomes a multicellular animal.

    First I don’t think we know nothing about what makes an organism what it is. However we do know that although genes may influence every aspect of development they do not determine it.

    For example we can take a gene from a mouse that controls eye development, stick in a fly genome lacking that gene and the subsequent fly emerges with fly eyes, not mouse eyes.

    Allen MacNeill
    And no, we don’t throw up our hands and say “It’s a mystery about which we know nothing.” Nope, we do our level best to figure it out, using the tools that experience has shown will serve best for that process: empirical investigation combined with rigorous statistical (and sometimes mathematical) analysis.

    I never implied nor suggested we throw up our hands.

    Your strawman responses are duly noted.

    Allen MacNeill
    That’s how real science is done.

    Real science is concerned with finding out the reality behind what we are observing. And by ruling out ID a priori, especially seeing that the materialistic alternative is a science stopping “sheer-dumb-luck” scenario, one has to wonder if anti-IDists are conducting science at all.

    As for “endless forms…”- real science seems to have refuted that:
    Unified physics theory explains animals’ running, flying and swimming:

    The findings may have implications for understanding animal evolution, Marden said. One view of evolution holds that it is not a purely deterministic process; that history is full of chance and historical contingency. It is the idea purported by Steven Jay Gould and others that if you were to “rewind the tape” and run it again, evolution would proceed down a different path, Marden said.

    “Our finding that animal locomotion adheres to constructal theory tells us that — even though you couldn’t predict exactly what animals would look like if you started evolution over on earth, or it happened on another planet — with a given gravity and density of their tissues, the same basic patterns of their design would evolve again,” Marden said.

    I guess neither you nor Dr Carroll received the memo…

  41. Hey,

    We have made progress. Allen has admitted that Darwinism and neo Darwinism does not drive all or most of the allele change and creation that has happened in the last 540 million years.

    Allen, why such strong resistance to a critical analysis of Darwin and neo Darwinism in high school and college curriculums? Here we have you as an evolutionary scientist admitting that a lot of what is taught is bogus but will you step up to the plate and join us in getting criticism of Darwin into the curriculum. We can then put your other mechanisms in for examination also.

    So those of us who have found Darwin deficient have to look elsewhere to direct our understanding, namely Lynn Margulis and her ideas such as “acquiring genomes” or other mechanisms.

    Allen, I have read Sean Carroll’s book and found no evidence for naturalistic evolution other than the homology argument. It is a fascinating book but his defense of naturalistic evolution depend upon the existence of a pre-Cambrian organism with all the genes necessary for body parts, eyes, IC systems etc. already in place and I did not see any evidence other than assertion for such an organism or how such a complex organism could have developed in such a short time. His ideas also depend upon some mechanism which modifies the tens of thousands of switches and their firing patterns to get the “novel” evolution of new body plans, systems etc. Only speculation at best.

    Homology and co-option just don’t get it done. These are just terms pulled out of the back pocket when one gets stuck. We will have to examine the other league to see if Lynn Margulis is really hitting the ball out of the park or just an aside for her speculation for the origin of eukaryotes?

    Thank you for your comments. If we can keep it civil, we can learn a lot from each other. One of them is that many of us here are not creationists in any religious form and for me, one who in the past accepted the Darwinian explanation till I saw the evidence.

  42. AM: “The Capacity for Religious Experience is an Evolutionary Adaptation for Warfare”, Evolution & Cognition,”

    Now that is funny!

    How about this one – the push for rape is an evolutionary adaptation for spreading one’s genes to the maximum number of viable females?
    Such as in Thornhill’s ridiculous and in fact rather morally disgusting book?

    A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion: by Randy Thornhill,Craig T. Palmer.
    *they also have the idiocy to claim there is no other viable point of view!!*

    The authors explain rape as an evolutionary, sexual reproductive, adaptation in human males.

    They also claim that it “is not a debatable issue”, since evolution theory says that this is what rape actually is – an adaptive behavioral pattern based on bio-chemical interactions in the male system and selection pressures.

    As for Provine, it aint for nothin’ he’s often referred to as one of the high priests of darwinian fundamentalism.

    Example:
    “There is no intelligent design in the natural world. When mammals die, they are really and truly dead. No ultimate foundations for ethics exist, no ultimate meaning in life exists, and free will is merely a human myth. These are all conclusions to which Darwin came quite clearly.”

    Ah, so there is no ultimate foundation for ethics?
    Meaning of course that nothing is either ultimately right or wrong ethically – so why the complaints on ad hominem attacks – or any thing else?

    He continues, “Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear — and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either. What an unintelligible idea.”

    No purposes? So what is your purpose here? Or in life? Or anyone’s purpose?

    And: “Life may have no ultimate meaning, but I sure think it can have lots of proximate meaning. Free will is not hard to give up, because it’s a horribly destructive idea to our society.”

    Now of course the funny thing about all his talk about no free will existing is that, if true, then none of what he or anyone believes, says or does is of personal choice – it’s all hard-wired – like the rape adaptation.

    Ohhh, the courts would have a catastrophe on their hands if lawyers started defending rapists on that basis!

    Under these views, nothing anyone says on any subject whatsoever is accomplished by choice but of necessity – thus demolishing all Provine’s own ideas and every other action or thought in history.

    As CS Lewis so aptly said, “If naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes…it cuts its own throat.”
    and thus, “The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike…Unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective values, we perish.”

    Whatever. Provine is just one such totally self-contradictory reasoner in the debate. Dawkins is another – and the list is very long.

  43. 8. the emergence of self-appointed mindguards – members who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decisions.

    There are NCSE and the KCFS- to name a couple such “mindguards”…

  44. “For example we can take a gene from a mouse that controls eye development, stick in a fly genome lacking that gene and the subsequent fly emerges with fly eyes, not mouse eyes.”

    Depending on the gene Im not sure what the problem is here. Surely it just means that downstream the same gene initiates eye development in both species.

    “As for “endless forms…”- real science seems to have refuted that:”

    Doesn’t that just explain some aspects of convergence. I don’t see how it refutes evo-devo.

    “Allen, why such strong resistance to a critical analysis of Darwin and neo Darwinism in high school and college curriculums? Here we have you as an evolutionary scientist admitting that a lot of what is taught is bogus but will you step up to the plate and join us in getting criticism of Darwin into the curriculum. We can then put your other mechanisms in for examination also.”

    I think the difference between what I was taught in high school biology and what i learned in university is no different than with someone who does a degree in physics or chemistry. There are legitimate critisisms to be sure, but I don’t think that a lengthire treatment would have much affect on this deabate, and I certainly don’t see any evidence of any kind of conspiracy as is often talked about.

    “His ideas also depend upon some mechanism which modifies the tens of thousands of switches and their firing patterns to get the “novel” evolution of new body plans, systems etc. Only speculation at best.”

    Its mostly to do with processes like genes altering and aquiring/losing new promoter sequences. This has been repeatedly observed occuring at the molecular level. I spoke to a professor recently who does large scale studies of transcription factor proteins binding to these promotor sequences to try and figire out what activates what. He said in a cell culture you have to account for the fact that genes will aquire binding regions for new transcription factors and, this can complicate the expermiment.

    “So those of us who have found Darwin deficient have to look elsewhere to direct our understanding, namely Lynn Margulis and her ideas such as “acquiring genomes” or other mechanisms.”

    I got taught about symbiosis in high school when we were being taught about organelles.

    “Homology and co-option just don’t get it done. These are just terms pulled out of the back pocket when one gets stuck.”

    I don’t get what this is supposed to mean, co-option is a process we know occurs.

    “Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear — and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either. What an unintelligible idea.”

    I don’t particularly agree with him here but I don’t see how it’s much different to someone saying that science affirms their belief in God. Obviously if when confronted he were to say that this is scientific inference or teach it as science then I would be just as angry as any of you.

  45. Chris Hyland,

    I would be interested in evidence for co-option.

  46. Chris Hyland,

    I wonder if you suggested that criticism of Darwinism and neo Darwinism be part of the biology curriculum in the UK and the US how long you would last in your postion.

  47. 47

    Thanks for the quotes Borne. Really shows the absurd nature of the debate here. If Provine views all of his thoughts and conclusions as merely chemical reactions that he has no control over- why does he ever give his opinion at all? I never understood this.

    How on earth is free will destructive, I wonder?! Our courts would indeed be a disaster if we said that we have no control over our actions, that we’re just fancy machines of meat acting out a program till death!

    Provine’s view can’t ever make sense. If all he says is the result of a simple chemical reaction and nothing else- then nothing he says means ANYTHING. If there’s no meaning at all in life or the world, that means that Provine’s very proclamations of no meaning are just as devoid of any meaning! If all the Provine has done is meaningless in every sense, why has he done it? If we have no free will, no way to control our thoughts, our actions, etc- why waste your time in telling us? Clearly, if there’s no free will, we cannot possibly come to your side of the debate, as our actions are merely following a set course of action!

    When your very argument starts off with- “everything I’m about to say has no meaning and is merely the result of chemical reactions not under my control” you’re screwed from the start!

  48. 48

    By the way- I wonder if Provine had a child and someone murdered that child if he would be angry or upset? Would he go to court and tell them all- ‘it’s okay, this man had no control over his actions…let him go free.’

    I so highly doubt it.

    No one can think as Provine does without living a completely contradictory life. It’s impossible. A complete contradiction tho, can’t have much truth to it if you ask me.

  49. JasonTheGreek,

    If all the Provine has done is meaningless in every sense, why has he done it? If we have no free will, no way to control our thoughts, our actions, etc- why waste your time in telling us? Clearly, if there’s no free will, we cannot possibly come to your side of the debate, as our actions are merely following a set course of action!

    He can’t help himself, naturally!

    That’s the real problem with the worldview presented. The people who make it so many times proceed to talk about the important implications it should have for the world, society – almost always the wisdom, reason, and obvious validity of the view itself.

    “The universe is meaningless, there is no purpose, our destiny is oblivion. Now, here’s why this should be important to you…”

  50. It seems to me that this debate frequently finds a strange, circuitous route to the issue of science teaching in the public school system. This is unfortunate. I wonder how the debate would change if it was removed from the equation. As a lifelong Democrat, I’ve always been uneasy with my fellow liberals who express an inordinate fondness for government acting as parent, teacher, piggy bank, etc. In my view, socialism, run amok, is the most dangerous of situations. Unfortunately, the Republican platform of small government and fiscal conservatism seems to have lost steam in recent years. Now everyone raids the public trough with impunity and dreams of marshalling the power of government to support their views.

    I suggest the abolition of public schools, as economist Milton Friedman once suggested. It need not be harsh. There are smart people who can develop a system that is fair and equitable and provides people with choice.

  51. Symmetry (empirical evidence derived from observation)

    Every leaf is symmetrical. Every blade of grass is symmetrical.
    You and I are symmetrical. Every living thing starts out symmetrical, even a flounder.
    If you fold a piece of paper and cut out a paper doll, it is symmetrical
    and the “fold” is the balance point (cg), center.
    If you begin at the cg, you can count (measure) as far as you like, up or down, left or right,
    ahead or behind, more or less, and plus or minus, from a beginning to any amount. Any number stated always means, “This quanity is this amount (units) away from zero”.
    If you fold (halve) 74, Jesus,( the two ends of G-D), you get 37 (cg) *, the middle.
    Jhn 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring,
    and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd.
    (BTW, the last I heard, shepherds don’t marry sheep.)
    Does the Intelligent Designer mean, “They are lost sheep and don’t know where
    the fold is?” or does he mean, “They know and could care less.”
    Does “must bring” leave them with FOC?
    Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
    O (none) is in the middle of G-D
    Eze 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge,
    and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
    Jhn 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
    Dan 9:25 Know therefore and understand, [that] from the going forth of the
    commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince
    [shall be] seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built
    again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
    If you fold infinity once, you can find the middle, zero.
    Here in reality, O is real.
    Every thing in the Inteligent Designer’s house (temple) is measured.
    Rev 11:1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel
    stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and
    them that worship therein.
    Rev 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out,
    and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the
    holy city shall they tread under foot forty [and] two months.

    In my observations of creation and life, chaos is natural. Symmetry and order are “mind made”.
    Randomness, chance, never ever produces symmetry, ordered functionality. or life.
    I am astonished no one has asked about man’s 6th sense or the analogy of Soloman and a lilly.
    Blessings
    Zero
    *Psa 37:37 Mark the perfect [man], and behold the upright: for the end of [that] man [is] peace.

  52. If there’s no meaning at all in life or the world, that means that Provine’s very proclamations of no meaning are just as devoid of any meaning!

    That’s right! I just love it when naturalists say that the universe is meaningless! They say it so innocently–as if they’re clueless to the disasterous consequences it carries with it. ;)

  53. I have been a long time lurker but first time poster. I come to this site in order to educate myself, not to support or deny any view.

    May I some questions please ( first post, but I am trying to keep an open mind here ).

    If I happen to question both ID and or Evolution proponents, it is because I am trying to clarify things.

    Since this is an ID website, I will try to address this to ID proponents first.

    1) If I am not mistaken, We have two very obvious processes within Evolution that have been verified – mutation and selection.

    We know that mutations, everything from single point changes to chromosome duplication to genome duplication (polyploidy) occur on a regular basis. Through observation of the effect of selection on domestic animals we also know that alleles can and do change frequency within a population due to external selection pressures. (Whether mutation and selection can produce macro-evolution is irrelevant to my question).

    We have observed that same allele variation in wild populations and we know through observation that the environment can split a population and tend the two new groups to diverge far enough that interbreeding does not happen.

    If we posit an Intelligent Designer.

    How does the designer know how a given change will affect all other nearby species and how the target species will react to any unintended feedback loops? How does the designer know what changes in environment, including climate and geology, the target population will experience in the future?

    2) Is ID Science simply interested in DESIGN DETECTION, PERIOD ?

    How about the INTENT and PURPOSE of the Designer ?

    What if we have a whimsical designer whose designs purposefully resemble nature as closely as possible. What if we have multiple designers who take wildly different approaches to biological design?

    Are ID proponents interested in these questions a t all, or do you leave the answer to these question to Philosophy and Theology ?

    Thanks for reading and responding.

  54. Allen,

    do you believe that all life came from a single ancestor via naturalistic means and that this has been established beyond argument?

  55. Barrett1,

    You are man after my heart. I would love to abolish the public schools. My wife and I went to private schools and all our children went to private schools except one daughter who went to Penn State for college and then we paid out of state tuition.

    However, most people went to public schools and I doubt you could ever get even a significant minority let alone a majority to agree to it.

    You are a rarity, an anti Darwinist, anti socialist who reads Milton Friedman and is a Democrat. You are an endangered species.

    SeekandFind,

    There lots of different people here so you will get a variety of answers if they answer.

    In your first question you are essentially asking about ecology and this is a question that is dear to me. One of the things that has to be considered if someone was starting life is that it must exist in some sort of ecology and this will probably be as important a consideration as the design of individual organisms themselves. If in the future, humans start life someplace they will have to spend an inordinate amount of time developing an ecology which not only includes several life forms but the physical environment of chemicals, temperature, seasonal changes etc. It would be a huge problem. Especially if you want them to interact and not have one life form dominate and wipe the others out.

    For the designer(s) who started our world maybe it took several hundred million years to get it right or set up properly. Who knows.

    As to your second question, the intent of the designer gets brought up all the time by the Darwinists who try to trap the ID people into admitting ID is all a game and that ID is really pseudo religious theory so that it can be thrown out of the schools if it ever gets in. ID people deny that ID is nothing more than detection to avoid this trap.

    Many on the pro ID side here may be interested in the intent of the designer but it is nothing more than speculation. You could spend months or years discussing it and it would be difficult to do so and remove any religious background one might have. You may have spirited discussion but you would never come to any conclusions. They have been discussing the meaning of life for thousands of years and look how much we know today about it.

  56. SeekAndFind wrote:
    “Is ID Science simply interested in DESIGN DETECTION, PERIOD ?”

    Many others here are for more knowledgeable than I am, so I won’t be offended if you take what I say with a grain of salt, but the short answer is “yes”. ID looks at something like the information content in living things and makes the logical inference that the best explanation for it is design, period. ID doesn’t care about the identity of the designer, the will or purpose of the designer, or “who designed the designer”. Those are philosophical considerations. Design is simply a logical conclusion based upon the available evidence, not a crutch-theory that tries to make up for lack of evidence. I recommend you watch or listen to as many ID vs. Darwin debates as you can find, because for me, it has been very helpful to hear both sides presented at once. Most of my misconceptions of ID were just that – misconceptions.

  57. Hello SeekAndFind. As a fairly typical poster around here — a non-scientist who is interested in discovering truth, let me respond to your questions.

    1 – Your general descrption of neo-Darwinian evolution is a pretty good one. Your question, however, I think presumes a much more controlling designer than most of us expect to find. You as, “How does the designer know how a given change will affect all other nearby species and how the target species will react to any unintended feedback loops?” I really think that natural selection is the great balancer, and that the designer counts on natural selection to cause all of nature to adjust to the specific characteristics that are developed in a given species. If lynxes become better at hunting rabbits, then the rabbits near those lynxes which happen to have the best allele mix to survive will soon dominate the population. Do the rabbits need to be bigger or smaller, better camoflaged, more cautious, etc., all of these traits already exist within the rabbit. If this is not so, then the rabbit will die out, or near so, in the area and the lynx will have to find other food. I don’t think that anything significant about ID theory is demonstrated in this context.

    Here is a puzzle for you: If you take your description of evolution and extrapolate over deep time, you would expect that we would find a single organism species which separates to become two organism species. These species should then each divide to become more species, and the diversity of life should appear through such a process. We wouldn’t expect that it would be pretty, or rythmic, but that diversity would slowly be achieved. Rather what we see in the earliest form of life is that there are already three very distinct domains. Some billions of years later, the kingdoms suddenly appear in the rock record. Then there is the great phylum event — the cambrian explosion. Though there seems to be some multi-cellular animal life preceeding the explosion, rather suddenly (non-Iders breath fire again please, 10 million years is a long time) a whole bunch of phyla show up. These creatures are as different from each other as can be. Since then, no new philums. Some time later the classes happen, then the orders and so on. We simply do not see the kind of progression that one would expect as species diverge through a RM+NS process. I, therefore, have concluded — happy to be proved wrong — that the process as you described does not describe the phenomenon that created the diversity of life.

    SeekAndFind, “Is ID Science simply interested in DESIGN DETECTION, PERIOD ?”

    I think ID Science and IDers must be divided into two camps here. The science of ID (non-IDers, feel free to spit fire) is interested in design detection, period. (caviat, some pursue the detection of design by posing a specific design purpose, then attempting to prove that this design purpose is being fulfilled; therefore evidence that a purpose is being fulfilled is evidence for the designer.) IDers, on the other hand, are interested in all of the above, and hold views similar to all of the above.

  58. My post #55 was pulled.
    That’s a first. May I ask why?

    Zero

    You’re comment got caught in the spam filter, and it ended up here when I approved it. I’m not quite sure why at the moment.–Crandaddy

  59. Welcome to UD, SeekAndFind. Looks like you’ve already gotten some good answers from other commenters, so I’ll be brief. ID, as I understand it (and I’m pretty sure this is correct), is fundamentally a study of minds and the patterns they produce in the external world. IDists look at marks in nature and then try to determine whether or not the cause of those marks is intelligence. The characteristics of the designer, how many designers there are, how competently it/they design, etc.–these are all interesting subjects of inquiry, but they’re not ID. In fact, ID doesn’t even postulate a designer. The way design detection works on any level is first, a pattern is recognized, and then, the most probable cause (intelligence/nonintelligence) is determined. Designer detection is folly–even in cases involving humans.

  60. Cornelius Hunter comments here on the essentially religious nature of Darwinism:

    http://www.idthefuture.com/200......html#more

    His says basically that Darwinism is rationalism – the triumph of reason over empirical evidence and experience.

  61. Allen MacNeill:

    Your diatribe against “anti-evolution groups” here makes you appear disingenuous or ignorant. You really should know better. And we should be able to expect more from a Cornell professor.

  62. “For example we can take a gene from a mouse that controls eye development, stick in a fly genome lacking that gene and the subsequent fly emerges with fly eyes, not mouse eyes.”

    Chris Hyland:
    Depending on the gene Im not sure what the problem is here. Surely it just means that downstream the same gene initiates eye development in both species.

    The “problem” is no one, I repeat NO ONE. knows what holds the information for “mouse eye” nor “fly eye”. The best we can do is to control the development of said eyes, not the type of eye. Got it.

    “As for “endless forms…”- real science seems to have refuted that:”

    Chris Hyland:
    Doesn’t that just explain some aspects of convergence. I don’t see how it refutes evo-devo.

    It shows the forms are finite and therefore refutes “endless forms”.
    ———————————————————–

    To seek:

    ID is about the DETECTION AND UNDERSTANDING of the design in question. As Wm. Dembski puts it:

    Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence.

    Note the words “the study of…”

    As for the intent and purpose of the designer, the authors of “The Privileged Planet”, one purpose of the universe was for scientific discovery.

  63. “I wonder if you suggested that criticism of Darwinism and neo Darwinism be part of the biology curriculum in the UK and the US how long you would last in your postion.”

    I dont think any of the ideas that Allen suggested are particularly controversial.

    “I’ve always been uneasy with my fellow liberals who express an inordinate fondness for government acting as parent, teacher, piggy bank, etc. In my view, socialism, run amok, is the most dangerous of situations.”

    The argument isn’t so much about government and education it is that the science curriculum should be based on accepted science.

    “I just love it when naturalists say that the universe is meaningless! They say it so innocently–as if they’re clueless to the disasterous consequences it carries with it.”

    Most people who think the universe is meaningless don’t think their lives are meaningless.

    “The “problem” is no one, I repeat NO ONE. knows what holds the information for “mouse eye” nor “fly eye”. The best we can do is to control the development of said eyes, not the type of eye. Got it.”

    I understand what your getting at, and although theres a lot we don’t know I don’t think we’re completely clueless. The day we know the entire developmental cycle in terms of genes, a lot of developmental biologists are going to have to find a new research area.

    “It shows the forms are finite and therefore refutes “endless forms”.”

    Fair enough, but it doesn’t affect the main thesis of the book. It does add an interesting aspect to the problem though which is addressed by Wallace Arthur in ‘Biased Embryos and Evolution’.

  64. Note the words “the study of…”

    As for the intent and purpose of the designer, the authors of “The Privileged Planet”, one purpose of the universe was for scientific discovery.

    Comment by Joseph — October 16, 2006 @ 6:47 am
    ****************************
    Yes, Joseph, I agree.That’s the reason the
    IDOL, (Intelligent Designer Of Life ) gave
    us eyes.

    Blessings

  65. Zero
    You’re comment got caught in the spam filter, and it ended up here (cutting room floor) when I approved it. I’m not quite sure why at the moment.–Crandaddy

    ***************************

    Crandaddy, now all my posts are being pulled.
    Am I banned?
    Zero

    Your comments are being moderated. We discourage commenters from being excessively theological. Religion tends to be a sensitve topic for many people, and it strays from the general theme of this blog.–Crandaddy

  66. Allen said:
    “… I have changed my mind about how I believe nature works many times since beginning to study it, and expect that this will happen again as more evidence is presented. This is what a scientist does, and so the list of characteristics heading this post quite literally is antithetical to both the spirit and practice of science as I understand it. ”

    This represents what I think is a fairly common view: lots of debate and discussion about _how_ macroevolution may have happened, but if you have the effrontery to question _if_ macroevolution happened, you end up like Richard Sternberg. In such cases, it’s hard to see how #5 in the original list doesn’t directly apply. I’d say getting summarily sacked counts as “direct pressure.”

  67. “The “problem” is no one, I repeat NO ONE. knows what holds the information for “mouse eye” nor “fly eye”. The best we can do is to control the development of said eyes, not the type of eye. Got it.”

    Chris Hyland:
    I understand what your getting at, and although theres a lot we don’t know I don’t think we’re completely clueless. The day we know the entire developmental cycle in terms of genes, a lot of developmental biologists are going to have to find a new research area.

    Knowing how something develops will not tell us what makes it what it is.

    And I, for one, am very hopeful scientists will unravel that mystery. Then we may be able to actually test the premise of common descent beyond I am the child of my parents and their parents before them.

    “It shows the forms are finite and therefore refutes “endless forms”.”

    Chris Hyland:
    Fair enough, but it doesn’t affect the main thesis of the book.

    The “main thesis of the book”? You mean besides revisiting “hopeful monsters” and further popularizing evolutionary nonsense? ;)

    Chris Hyland:
    It does add an interesting aspect to the problem though which is addressed by Wallace Arthur in ‘Biased Embryos and Evolution’.

    Thanks for the tip. I haven’t read that one.

  68. Chris Hyland wrote:

    “The argument isn’t so much about government and education it is that the science curriculum should be based on accepted science. ”

    How is this legitimate if Big Science is actively and aggressively suppressing alternative theories using large amounts of U.S. taxpayer money? Was Darwinian evolution “accepted science” 100 years ago? If not, then should skeptics have worked to destroy proponents of Darwin’s ideas?

  69. 69

    My point exactly Russ. Darwinism is the mainstream today, but if NDE groups had their way- nde would have never had a chance, because we could have all just said- ‘golly, the mainstream consensus is special creation- we will not allow any question of it…we will ban Darwinism.’

    They owe their pet theory to questioning the consensus, but then their double standard demands that they attack ID because it’s not mainstream, thus it’s clearly bogus. I guess I’ll agree with them. That means that since special creation was consensus for most of the history of science- it must be correct. :) Afterall- TRUE science is clearly what the NAS says it is, and special creation was the accepted paradigm first!

  70. J said: “And we should be able to expect more from a Cornell professor.
    The economist Murray Rothbard gives groupthink in the social sciences a good verbal caning here. The physical sciences, however, are protected from the frailties of humanity by a Magical Force Field.

  71. “Knowing how something develops will not tell us what makes it what it is.”

    “The “main thesis of the book”? You mean besides revisiting “hopeful monsters” and further popularizing evolutionary nonsense?”

    The book specifically rejects hopeful mosters several times.

    “How is this legitimate if Big Science is actively and aggressively suppressing alternative theories using large amounts of U.S. taxpayer money? Was Darwinian evolution “accepted science” 100 years ago? If not, then should skeptics have worked to destroy proponents of Darwin’s ideas?”

    “My point exactly Russ. Darwinism is the mainstream today, but if NDE groups had their way- nde would have never had a chance, because we could have all just said- ‘golly, the mainstream consensus is special creation- we will not allow any question of it…we will ban Darwinism.’”

    And they would have had every right to be concerned if Darwin and Wallace had tried to get their theories taught in schools before convinving the scientific community, but they didn’t. Stopping ID from getting taught in schools hardly counts as suppresing alternative theories. From what I am hearing people are expanding ID into a theory and using it to do research. When that happens we can properly discuss whether or not scientists are supressing science.

  72. Chris Nyland:
    From what I am hearing people are expanding ID into a theory and using it to do research.

    And from what I am hearing no one uses the NDE for biological research. So does that mean we should take it out of the curriculum?

  73. Professor MacNeill, why are you here? Posting on UD? I am very curious to know a complete and honest answer.

  74. My primary motivation for posting on UD is that there appears to me to be an extraordinary misperception of what constitutes evolutionary biology among the majority of the people posting and commenting at this site. Very basic concepts in biology, such as the operation of homeotic genes or the relationship between nucleotide sequences and homology, are so wildly misunderstood by so many people posting to this site that it doesn’t surprise me in the least that we usually talk at cross purposes.

    So, in a nutshell, I can’t escape the motivation that first led me to becoming an academic and teacher in the first place: to try to make some sense out of reality, and to help others make the same kind of sense.

    As perhaps the best example of this process, I invited Hannah Maxson (founder and president of the Cornell IDEA Club) to be a full participant in the evolution/design seminar I facilitated that past summer. Our groud rules were simple and straightforward: we were at all times to respect each other as persons and to therefore treat each other as intelligent and conscientious scholars, interested only in the pursuit of intellectual clarity and logical argument, wherever that pursuit might lead. You can read about what we concluded here:

    http://evolutionanddesign.blog.....continues/

    and here:

    http://www.geocities.com/lclane2/macneill.html

    I firmly believe that the way to better understanding is through engagement, principled debate, and logical argument, supported at all times by empirical evidence. That’s what “community of scholars” and “the life of the mind” are all about, isn’t it? What a dreary and uninteresting world it would be if we all agreed on everything…

  75. As an example of the total misunderstanding of what evolutionary biology is about, consider this statement:

    “And from what I am hearing no one uses the NDE for biological research.”

    This statement could only be made by someone who has literally no idea of what biologists in general, and evolutionary biologists in particular do. At the very least, consider the fact that it is literally impossible for one person (who wishes to occasionally eat and sleep) to keep up with the explosion of publications in scientific journals on all of the details of evolutionary biology. I can’t possibly keep up with all of the books being published on the subject, and the number of journal articles numbers in the thousands every month (indeed, almost every week).

    In other words, the quotation I cited above is equivalent to saying that physicists no longer use the principles of Newtonian mechanics and gravitional theory to do physics and cosmology, or that chemists no longer use atomic theory to do chemistry. It strikes a person who actually knows about the current state of the sciences as laughably absurd, and so grotesquely misinformed as to be either the result of willful blindness on the part of its author, or a testimony to abject failure on the part of our educational system.

    We cannot possibly come to any kind of clarity on any of these subjects unless we all make a conscientious effort to educate ourselves about the content of our loyal adversaries’ intellectual armamentarium. This is why I have spent years reading and analyzing the published works of ID theorists (and why I assigned them in my seminar this summer, along with equivalent readings by EBers). All I ask is that, for the sake of reasoned debate, you folks do the same.

  76. In comment 57, Tribune7 asked:

    “Do you believe that all life came from a single ancestor via naturalistic means and that this has been established beyond argument?”

    No; I side with evolutionary biologists Ford Doolittle, Lynn Margulis, and Stephen J. Gould (among others) in inferring that life itself may be massively polyphyletic: that rather than there being a single common ancestor to all current living organisms, there may have been many. The extent of lateral genetic transfer among prokaryotes makes it almost impossible to reconstruct a phylogeny with a single root, and the lack of genetic evidence for either a single or multiple origin of life may be permanent, as all living organisms are the result of four billion years of phylogenetic evolution, and no fossils preserve any genetic evidence of the origin of life.

    That said, there is one very strong piece of evidence in favor of a monophyletic origin of all current forms of life: the universality of the genetic code. However, I believe that it is still an open question whether the code is arbitrary (and therefore strong evidence for homology) or necessary (and therefore strong evidence for convergence, despite multiple origins). It may very well be the case that, in the early stages of the origin of the genetic code, there were multiple codes (and multiple ways of translating it), but that over time one code and one translation mechanism (the “universal” one that we observe today) replaced all other alternatives. Given the fact that molecules don’t fossilize, and the rocks that might contain such fossils have already been subducted into oblivion anyway, it seems problematic at the present time to assert that one or the other hypothesis is “true.” Indeed, I strongly suspect that we will never have a definitive answer to this question.

    So what? Darwin didn’t speculate on any of this, but rather “started in the middle” and proposed a testable hypothesis for decent with modification and the mechanisms by which it occurs (i.e. natural and sexual selection). After a century and a half of intensive biological research, no other hypothesis has generated anything close to the same amount of confirmatory evidence, and so we continue to investigate the world around us using Darwin’s original insights.

    Is evolutionary theory therefore “true?” No, of course not. I can’t emphasize this enough: NO SCIENTIFIC THEORY IS “TRUE”, at least not “true” in the sense that most people use that word. On the contrary, it’s the most useful and productive “guess” we have at the present, and until new evidence is discovered that unambiguously falsifies it, we will continue to use it as the underlying basis for nearly all of the science of biology.

  77. Dr MacNeill writes

    “rather than there being a single common ancestor to all current living organisms, there may have been many.”

    Do you believe that life spontaneously generated on many occasions? What is the evidence that life can spontaneously generate even once? Richard Dawkins believs that life had a lucky start. Do you believe life had many lucky starts?

    “Is evolutionary theory therefore “true?” No, of course not. I can’t emphasize this enough: NO SCIENTIFIC THEORY IS “TRUE”, at least not “true” in the sense that most people use that word. ”

    Would you agree with Ernst Mayr that evolution is a fact?

  78. “And from what I am hearing no one uses the NDE for biological research.”

    Allen MacNeil:
    This statement could only be made by someone who has literally no idea of what biologists in general, and evolutionary biologists in particular do.

    Gee Allen, we have Dr Skell telling us the same thing that I posted:

    Darwinian evolution – whatever its other virtues – does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology. This becomes especially clear when we compare it with a heuristic framework such as the atomic model, which opens up structural chemistry and leads to advances in the synthesis of a multitude of new molecules of practical benefit.None of this demonstrates that Darwinism is false. It does, however, mean that the claim that it is the cornerstone of modern experimental biology will be met with quiet skepticism from a growing number of scientists in fields where theories actually do serve as cornerstones for tangible breakthroughs.

    See Why do we invoke Darwin?

    Allen MacNeil:
    At the very least, consider the fact that it is literally impossible for one person (who wishes to occasionally eat and sleep) to keep up with the explosion of publications in scientific journals on all of the details of evolutionary biology.

    As John Davison once posted:
    “‘Of course evolution is the cornerstone of biology. That does not mean the Darwinian version of the process has any validity.”

    Allen MacNeil:
    In other words, the quotation I cited above is equivalent to saying that physicists no longer use the principles of Newtonian mechanics and gravitional theory to do physics and cosmology, or that chemists no longer use atomic theory to do chemistry.

    Most likely because when you read “NDE” you truncate it to just “E”, which isn’t correct.

    Allen MacNeil:
    It strikes a person who actually knows about the current state of the sciences as laughably absurd, and so grotesquely misinformed as to be either the result of willful blindness on the part of its author, or a testimony to abject failure on the part of our educational system.

    Or perhaps it is you who is confusing what was posted with what you wanted to read. That would be my guess.

    Allen MacNeil:
    This is why I have spent years reading and analyzing the published works of ID theorists (and why I assigned them in my seminar this summer, along with equivalent readings by EBers). All I ask is that, for the sake of reasoned debate, you folks do the same.

    I have and will stand by my statement until someone demonstrates that NDE leads to a “fruitful heuristic in experimental biology”.

  79. Allen MacNeil:
    That said, there is one very strong piece of evidence in favor of a monophyletic origin of all current forms of life: the universality of the genetic code.

    Really? I use the same data to infer a common design.

    Allen MacNeil:
    So what? Darwin didn’t speculate on any of this, but rather “started in the middle” and proposed a testable hypothesis for decent with modification and the mechanisms by which it occurs (i.e. natural and sexual selection).

    The only “testable hypothesis for decent with modification” is that I can trace my ancestry back X generations. We canNOT test the premise that cetaceans “evolved” from land animals or that land animals “evolved” from fish.

    We can assume that premise and then set out to find what we consider to be confirming evidence but that is not scientific.

  80. Allen MacNeil (from his second link in comment 74):
    I believe that the primary reason that there is essentially no empirical research being done to either validate or falsify ID theory is that ID theory in general does not consist of positive hypotheses that can be empirically tested.

    How can you say that and also say “This is why I have spent years reading and analyzing the published works of ID theorists “?

    ID is based on three premises and the inference that follows (DeWolf et al., “Darwinism, Design and Public Education”, pg. 92):

    1) High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.
    2) Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.
    3) Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.
    4) Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.

    As anyone can see the first two are positive premises.

    Allen MacNeil:
    As many have pointed out, Behe’s concept of “irreducible complexity” is based almost entirely on ignorance and lack of information, rather than on “first principles” (i.e. on theoretical formulations that lead to the conclusion that the evolution of “irreducibly complex” objects or processes are impossible).

    This too is false:

    “Thus, Behe concludes on the basis of our knowledge of present cause-and-effect relationships (in accord with the standard uniformitarian method employed in the historical sciences) that the molecular machines and complex systems we observe in cells can be best explained as the result of an intelligent cause.
    In brief, molecular motors appear designed because they were designed” Pg. 72 of “Darwinism, Design and Public Education”

    Also imagination is nice but sooner or later one needs actual data for support. And once again IC does NOT argue against “evolution”. It is an argument against a particular mechanism- that of the blind watchmaker.

    That you post such nonsense and also say that you have read and analyzed ID is a direct contradiction. Or perhaps you need better reading comprehension skills.

    Reality demonstrates that BOTH concepts- IC and CSI can be tested against their existing definitions. Reality also demonstrates both can also be falsified by demonstrating intelligence is not required for the origin of either.

    It should also be noted that scientists have at least tried to falsify IC:

    ]“Coyne’s conclusion that design is unfalsifiable, however, seems to be at odds with the arguments of other reviewers of my book. Clearly, Russell Doolittle (Doolittle 1997), Kenneth Miller (Miller 1999), and others have advanced scientific arguments aimed at falsifying ID. (See my articles on blood clotting and the “acid test” on this web site.) If the results with knock-out mice (Bugge et al. 1996) had been as Doolittle first thought, or if Barry Hall’s work (Hall 1999) had indeed shown what Miller implied, then they correctly believed my claims about irreducible complexity would have suffered quite a blow. And since my claim for intelligent design requires that no unintelligent process be sufficient to produce such irreducibly complex systems, then the plausibility of ID would suffer enormously. Other scientists, including those on the National Academy of Science’s Steering Committee on Science and Creationism, in commenting on my book have also pointed to physical evidence (such as the similar structures of hemoglobin and myoglobin) which they think shows that irreducibly complex biochemical systems can be produced by natural selection: “However, structures and processes that are claimed to be ‘irreducibly’ complex typically are not on closer inspection.” (National Academy of Sciences 1999, p. 22)

    Now, one can’t have it both ways. One can’t say both that ID is unfalsifiable (or untestable) and that there is evidence against it. Either it is unfalsifiable and floats serenely beyond experimental reproach, or it can be criticized on the basis of our observations and is therefore testable. The fact that critical reviewers advance scientific arguments against ID (whether successfully or not) shows that intelligent design is indeed falsifiable.

    In fact, my argument for intelligent design is open to direct experimental rebuttal. Here is a thought experiment that makes the point clear. In Darwin’s Black Box (Behe 1996) I claimed that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex and so required deliberate intelligent design. The flip side of this claim is that the flagellum can’t be produced by natural selection acting on random mutation, or any other unintelligent process. To falsify such a claim, a scientist could go into the laboratory, place a bacterial species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure (for mobility, say), grow it for ten thousand generations, and see if a flagellum–or any equally complex system–was produced. If that happened, my claims would be neatly disproven.

    How about Professor Coyne’s concern that, if one system were shown to be the result of natural selection, proponents of ID could just claim that some other system was designed? I think the objection has little force. If natural selection were shown to be capable of producing a system of a certain degree of complexity, then the assumption would be that it could produce any other system of an equal or lesser degree of complexity. If Coyne demonstrated that the flagellum (which requires approximately forty gene products) could be produced by selection, I would be rather foolish to then assert that the blood clotting system (which consists of about twenty proteins) required intelligent design.”

    Living organisms encompass both IC and CSI. Therefore by demonstrating living organisms can arise from non-living matter without the aid of an intelligence would TKO ID as Dr Behe’s criteria would have been met.

  81. As perhaps the best example of this process, I invited Hannah Maxson (founder and president of the Cornell IDEA Club) to be a full participant in the evolution/design seminar I facilitated that past summer.

    And if anyone missed the UD posts on that:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....hives/1362

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....hives/1320

  82. In comment #77. idnet.com.au asked:

    “Would you agree with Ernst Mayr that evolution is a fact?”

    As much as I admired Ernst Mayr when he was alive ( met and talked with him when he lectured here at Cornell), and as much as I respect and honor his legacy as a giant in the field of evolutionary biology, I must respectfully disagree with him on this point:

    Evolution, like gravitation, is a theory, not a fact.

    Facts are what we observe, either directly or with observational aids (such as microscopes, ultracentrifuges, flourescent DNA probes, etc.). By themselves, facts are meaningless. Theories are the generalizations that we infer from facts, generalizations that help us look for more facts, which can then be used to infer yet more generalizations.

    At the risk of “talking down” to the readers on this list, consider the following:

    I have never tasted an apple before (you may assume that I am a former resident of Arrakis, newly arrived on Terra). I am handed a green apple and (being a person of enlarged curiosity) I taste it; I discover it is sour. What can I conclude from this observation?

    Clearly, I cannot conclude that “green apples are sour” because I have only a single “fact” upon which to base this generalization. This is what is known in science as “anecdotal evidence” and is the reason why, fascinating as such anecdotes may be (I remember one about a fellow named Lazarus, for example), they absolutely, positively are not part of what anyone would think of as “science.”

    So, out of curiosity, I taste another green apple; it too is sour. I taste another and another, and each is sour. Now what can I conclude about green apples (i.e. about them as a “class” or “category”)? I can now tentatively conclude that “green apples are sour.”

    Is this generalization about green apples a “fact?” No, it’s an inference, and like all inferences based on inductive reasoning, it’s necessarily (indeed irreducibly) tentative.

    Remember, I haven’t yet tasted a Grannie Smith – if I do, and I discover it’s sweet, what must I do with my inferred generalization? Modify it, of course: if I taste several Grannie Smith apples and all of them are sweet, then I can conclude that “all green apples, except Grannie Smith apples, are sour; Grannie Smith apples are sweet.”

    This, in a nutshell, is the difference and the relationship between “facts” (i.e. individual observations) and “theories” (i.e. generalizations arrived at by inductive inference). To sum up: NO THEORIES ARE FACTS (and vice versa, OC), and to assert the contrary is to mistake fundamentally different logical categories.

  83. Dr. MacNiell,

    Based upon the above post, would it be right to say that you disagree with Gould–and Talk Origins, for that matter–when he famously said that evolution is a scientific fact in the sense that it is “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent?” Just curious.

    Dave

    (See this link for the source of the quote:

    http://www.stephenjaygould.org.....heory.html)

  84. Just in case people are wondering, I deleted two overtly hostile comments, one from an ID proponent and one from a Darwinist who are regular contributers. I’m not going to name names…but both of you know who you are. Play nice.

  85. Joseph says [my comments in brackets]

    1)High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.
    [Specified complexity and irreducible complexity are produced by Darwinian evolution.]

    2) Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity. [Agreed]

    3) Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.
    [Science says they do. If ID says otherwise, please show us some evidence to support this claim.]

    4) Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.
    Therefore we have two competing claims. One claim is that a designer is responsible for the specified complexity we find in living organisms. The other theory says that variation and natural selection is responsible. We can show you the second theory at work. ID has no examples of the Designer at work.]

  86. Houdin: “[Specified complexity and irreducible complexity are produced by Darwinian evolution.]”

    I can demonstrate all day long CSI made by intelligent agents. Can you do the same for NDE? Conjecture doesn’t count as a demonstration.

    Houdin: “3) Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.
    [Science says they do.]”

    No. Darwinian “science” merely conjectures that they do.

    There is lots and lots of hard evidence that intelligence agents can create CSI. There is none for NDE mechanisms. Therefore, so far, ID is the best explanation for the CSI in found in bio-forms.

  87. Well Mike1962, Houdin can type a response but we both know he can substantiate what he responded with.

    His response is a typical bluff and a poor one at that.

  88. In comment #86 mike1962 states:

    “There is lots and lots of hard evidence that intelligence agents can create CSI. There is none for NDE mechanisms. Therefore, so far, ID is the best explanation for the CSI in found in bio-forms.”

    This is precisely where our seminar this summer at Cornell reached an impass. After reading and analyzing Dr. Dembski’s Design Inference and other papers updating his mathematical analysis of CSI, we concluded that, although his ideas were intriguing, there didn’t seem to be any way of actually applying them to an analysis of either unambiguously design objects, such as a ballpoint pen or a flashlight, and a “natural” object, such as a bacterium or a maple tree, in such a way as to clearly distinguish whether the object is the result of purposeful design or not.

    For exampe, consider the following two examples:

    (1) a large boulder placed by a human in the middle of a country lane in order to block traffic in the lane

    (2) the sum total of all of the snowflakes at the top of Mount Blanc

    The first object (the boulder in the lane) is unambiguously the result of purposeful design, yet its complexity (according to Dembski’s mathematics) would identify it otherwise. By contrast, the staggering complexity of the crystalline forms contained in all the snowflakes is beyond computation, yet no one that I know of would argue that they were the result of purposeful design.

    Furthermore, “specification” doesn’t solve the problem, as the position and “function” of the boulder are certainly specified, yet according to the mathematics of Dembski’s CSI they would not so qualify. And, folk wisdom to contrary, given a sufficiently large number of snowflakes, the probability that more than one of them will exhibit virtually identical crystalline structures is pretty high (i.e. their shapes are “specified” by the hydrogen bonding capabilities inherent in the “natural” shape of water molecules), and yet once again no one that I know of would argue that such immense complexity was the result of purposeful design, “specified” or not.

    In other words, Dr. Dembski’s mathematical models amount to interesting philosophical speculations, without any empirical application that we can infer. Simply “doing the math” isn’t what is going on, here: when one compares the results of an actual experiment with the predicted outcome, to determine if the results are “significant” evidence in favor of one’s hypothesis, one is actually doing science. However, deriving a mathematical model that has no real basis in actual practice nor any application to hypothesis testing isn’t doing science at all.

    ID will be ready to take its place among the other sciences when a person schooled in its mathematical methods can unambiguously determine that the boulder in the lane is the result of purposeful design, but the collective crystalline structure snowflakes on Mount Blanc are not. Until then, it’s all airy speculation…

  89. Allen MacNeil:
    Until then, it’s all airy speculation…

    I would agree with that. That is is ALL airy speculation, even evolutionary biology and especially common descent.

    I am also sure that anyone can fail to understand “No Free Lunch” and “The Design Inference”.

    However given the materialistic alternative to ID is “sheer-dumb-luck”, sooner or later people, ie the general population, will start to realize that all objections to ID are nothing more than philosphical whinings.

    As for “unambiguously” well with science you give it your best shot with the knowledge/ data available. Then future research can/will either confirm or refute the initial inference.

    And BTW ball point pens and flashlights are just as “natural” as a bacterium or a maple tree. That is they exist in nature. And although we can say with confidence that neither ball point pens nor flashlights were produced by nature (acting freely) we have no idea how a bacterium nor a maple tree was originally produced- by nature operating freely or by intentional design.

  90. As if CSI was the only tool in the ID toolset… For your two examples:

    1. I would start by asking what is the environment and the composition of the boulder. The simple description of the scenario doesn’t offer the evidence required to make a firm design inference. If this boulder is located on a road in a mountainous region where rockslides are not unheard of then step 1 of the EF would conclude that the law in question is simply gravity. Yes, a false negative is generated but that’s not unexpected.

    If instead this boulder is composed of granite and the country road is located along the mostly flat and sandy beaches of FL then the answer for step 1 of the EF would be no. I’m not a geologist but I’ve yet to run into natural formations of granite in Florida that could conceivably roll free…never mind for hundreds of miles on a mostly flat surface. And if this boulder had emerged from the earth due to geological processes one would surely find evidence for that event nearby. Or perhaps this “boulder” is in fact a meteor…but again evidence for such an impact would be found nearby.

    One could conceivably posit a chance occurence where by which an airplane or a truck lost its cargo and the boulder came to rest in the middle of the country lane. A design inference doesn’t take place in a void so one could ask around to see if such an event had taken place. A boulder large enough to block an entire road would surely be missed by its owners.

    Now for the final step of the EF. As noted the “the position and “function” of the boulder are certainly specified”…if only loosely, I might add. We’re also assuming that all evidence of this boulder’s transportation has been erased so we’re left to consider just the object, its environment, and its circumstances. So we now consider any plausible probability distribution that might account for the boulder in the country lane.

    But wait, what about the UPB? The EF is a net. Things that are designed will occasionally slip past the net. We would “prefer” that the net catch more than it does, omitting nothing due to design. But given the ability of design to mimic unintelligent causes and the possibility of our own ignorance passing over things that are designed, this problem cannot be fixed. Nevertheless, we want to be very sure that whatever the net does catch includes ONLY what we intend it to catch, to wit, things that are designed. So even in a scenario with a granite boulder in flat, sandy FL there “might” not be 500 informational bits and ID “might” produce another false negative. I say “might” because I’d first want a trained mathematician do the calculations. I’d also state any conclusion as being more tentative than usual considering additional facts about the case might come to light.

    2. As for scenario two, you answered the question yourself. Again, a design inference doesn’t take place in a void and the fact that “shapes are “specified” by the hydrogen bonding capabilities inherent in the “natural” shape of water molecules” would be taken into account. The question would be answered in step 1 of the EF.

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