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A better kind of beauty, or: Why some people mistakenly reject Intelligent Design as unaesthetic

This post is intended as a follow-up on the post, Children of a better god? by idnet.com.au.

I would like to suggest that the real reason why some people (including many Christians) dislike Intelligent Design is an aesthetic one. Their notion of beauty is overly influenced by mathematics: they define beauty as a delicate and interesting balance between variety (or plenitude) and simplicity (or economy). This kind of thinking goes back to Leibniz and beyond. Both qualities are needed: a very simple world containing just one object would be simple but intolerably boring, while a world lacking simple laws would appear messy and mathematically inelegant. It follows that according to this account of beauty, a beautiful world should contain many different kinds of things, governed by just a few underlying laws or principles. The variety of elements in the periodic table is a good example: it is aesthetically pleasing, because they can all be explained in terms of just a few underlying principles: the laws of physics and chemistry, whose underlying mathematical simplicity is evident in their regularity, symmetry and order. Many people would like to think that living things possess the same kind of beauty: an ideal balance between variety and underlying simplicity. Because the underlying laws are mathematically simple in this model of beauty, these people reason that the act of generating things that possess the attribute of beauty should be a simple one. Neo-Darwinism appeals to them as a scientific theory, because it purports to account for the variety of living things we see today, on the basis of a few simple underlying principles (natural selection acting on variation arising stochastically, without any foresight of long-term goals).

But living things aren’t like the periodic table. The phenomenon that characterizes them is not order but complexity – and complexity of a particular kind, at that. The beauty you see in a living cell is more like the beauty of a story than the beauty of crystals, which are highly ordered but still not very interesting, even when you contemplate them in all their variety. Stories have a much richer kind of beauty: they have parts (e.g. a beginning, a middle and an end; or the chapters in a novel), and these parts have to be ordered in a sequence specified by the author. The idea of writing a mathematical program that can generate a meaningful story from a “word bank” is comically absurd. Even a master programmer could not do that, unless he/she “cheated” and pre-specified the story (or a data bank of stories) in the program itself. But that wouldn’t save any effort, would it? And one cannot even imagine a simple procedure for writing a story. Stories are inherently complex; so the notion that they could be generated by a single, simple act makes no sense. The same goes for living things. They cannot be produced by a single, simple act. And just as one story cannot be changed step-by-step into another while still remaining a coherent story, so too, it is impossible for one type of living thing to change into another as a result of a step-by-step process, while remaining a viable organism.

Stories are not like mathematical formulas; and yet, undoubtedly they are still beautiful. They require a lot of work to produce. They are not simple, regular or symmetrical; they have to be specified in considerable detail. Who are we to deny God the privilege of producing life in this way, if He so wishes? The universe is governed by His conception of beauty, not ours, and if it contained nothing but mathematically elegant forms, it would be a boring, sterile place indeed. Crystals are pretty; but life is much richer and more interesting than any crystal. Life cannot be generated with the aid of a few simple rules. It needs to be planned and designed very carefully, in a very “hands-on” fashion. In order to facilitate this, God needs a universe which is ontologically “open” to manipulation by Him whenever He sees fit, rather than a closed, autonomous universe.

The beauty found in living things, then, cannot be defined as a balance between plenitude and economy, as Leibniz thought. It is a different kind of beauty, like that of a story. That is why life needs to be intelligently designed.

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39 Responses to A better kind of beauty, or: Why some people mistakenly reject Intelligent Design as unaesthetic

  1. vjt I am glad you posted a new thread for your comment. If you didn’t do it, I was going to. When are you writing your book?

  2. Dr. Torley, the theme of your post reminds me of this wonderful little book I read a few years back:

    A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature by Benjamin Wiker and Jonathan Witt
    http://www.thinkingchristian.n.....index.html

    excerpt:

    Their first variation comes from an unusual source for this topic: human genius as embodied by William Shakespeare. Richard Dawkins, in The Blind Watchmaker, had claimed to show that a computer program analogous to evolution could, after a few generations of trial and error, produce a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “Methinks it is like a weasel.” Wiker and Witt pause briefly to point out how far that program really is from the reality of what evolution is supposed to be; it is for one thing intelligently guided, and for another thing, very dependent on a host of pre-built structures in which it is processed. But for them that is low-hanging fruit, easy to point out and then move on.

    They focus instead on what “Methinks it is like a weasel” really means. In isolation, in fact, it means almost nothing. Who said it? Why? What does the “it” refer to? What does it reveal about the characters? How does it advance the plot? In the context of the entire play, and of Elizabethan culture, this brief line takes on significance of surprising depth. The whole is required to give meaning to the part.

  3. As a mathematician, I suppose it could be said that I am “overly influenced by mathematics.” However, I never did find neo-Darwinism to be mathematically appealing. And I can’t recall any of my mathematical colleagues ever indicating that they found it mathematically appealing. If that was a typo, and you really meant “appalling” then that might be closer to how mathematicians see neo-Darwinism.

    In short, I think you misspoke (or mis-wrote). I think you were really commenting on mechanistic thinking, rather than mathematical thinking. Mathematical thinking is not particularly mechanistic.

    The beauty found in living things, then, cannot be defined as a balance between plenitude and economy, as Leibniz thought. It is a different kind of beauty, like that of a story. That is why life needs to be intelligently designed.

    And that is where I see you as jumping to a conclusion. I think it is fair to say that life is a different kind of beauty than what one might see in mechanism. And that is why one should doubt that life is mechanistic. However, you appear to be making a huge leap from “is not mechanistic” to “is intelligently designed.” And I cannot find a basis for such a leap.

  4. I don’t think you are going to get anywhere with this VJ.

    For one thing, the whole “story” motif is becoming very popular at the “popular” level, and once the educated class realizes that they will drop it like a hot potato.

  5. This seems likes a rather roundabout way of tackling the subject of beauty. We would agree that cell biology suggests a story that is, in a special sense, “aesthetically” pleasing. This is due to the ongoing revelation of the perfect organization and functionality of the cell, which resists the ugliness of chaos and appeals to reason and its desire for order.

    But this special notion of “beauty” is almost purely negative—“beauty” as that which resists undifferentiated matter; beauty as form. It is an intellectual notion of beauty and not beauty itself, drawing an analogy between the pleasure provided by beautiful things to the pleasure provided by contemplating the orderly composition of the cell.

    If some of us are a little wary of ID, it is precisely because of this Platonizing tendency. We do not necessarily agree that the intellectual beauty of the cell “story” (which is metaphorical) is of greater or even equal value to the sensuous beauty of nature itself. Nor are we willing to concede that Natural Selection has the explanatory power to account for the overwhelming beauty of nature.

    The Bible tells us that God looked at what he had made and saw that it was “very good.” The word “good” in this sense simply means that it was highly desirable, or pleasing. Creation is pleasing in two very different ways: it is beautiful as a physical thing and pleasing to look at—aesthetically pleasing—but it is also pleasing to the mind, being astonishingly well-made, or functionally optimal, as we discover by looking under the hood of the cell.

    Nothing is gained for the glory of God, it seems to us, by discounting the difference between these two kinds of goodness; by attempting, for example, to describe the purely intellectual pleasure provided by the functionality of the cell as an “aesthetic” value as if the real aesthetic values that exist in nature were somehow not worthy of God. The sensuous beauty of nature declares the glory of God just as plainly as its formal properties.

    True, Natural Selection cannot account for the pleasing stories now being told by microbiologists about the complex functionality of the cell—but neither can it account for the overwhelming beauty of nature. Darwin’s notion of sexual selection was wishful thinking. The results of the studies are equivocal. It seems that males—but not females—exhibit some selection preferences based on certain physical characteristics, but no one has been able to show that these weak preferences lead to an increase in beauty, or that the resulting beauty confers any kind of survival advantage.

    Let the indelible glory of the red cardinal perched in a snowy forsythia bush stand as a proof against the wishful thinking of the Darwinists and the fantastic notion that nature has any power to select beautiful things from chaos. And sexual selection, even if it were verifiable, would apply to living things only. It cannot account for the beauty of the sky, the stars, the ocean, snow, icicles in wintry mountain streams.

    The materialists like to laugh at claims about the goodness of nature’s beauty. Laughter is their only weapon, since this goodness cannot be explained by any natural process. Some of them try to pretend that nature is not beautiful at all; that its beauty is nothing more than a construct, or that we perceive nature to be beautiful because this perception leads to happiness and confers a survival advantage.

    The foolishness of these arguments is shown by comparing human art with nature. When art is imitative, it can never approach the threshold of creative greatness seen in the beauty of nature itself. This can be shown by taking a painting of any natural scene into nature and comparing them in the light of day. When art is “transgressive,” it simply demonstrates that the spitefulness and egotism of men is less gratifying than the beauty of nature, which is freely and graciously given.

    We are living through a dark, skeptical phase of our history, not unlike what is depicted in Chapter 11 of Hume’s “Inquiry,” where nature is devalued and the grandeur of its beauty becomes veiled to the understanding by the zeitgeist. The spirit of the times is not the spirit of life however, which overturns all human notions of value through their own vanity. Just as the aesthetic narrowness of Rationalism led to its own demise, giving way to Romantisicm and a renewed awe at nature’s beauty, so there is hope that the narrowness of nihilism and its resistance to natural beauty will lead to a thaw in the intellectual climate and allow us literally to come to our senses.

  6. It seems to me that evolutionary biologists do provide a story about life – a rather complex and messy one with lots of bits missing – but a story. While there is no ID story – that’s one of its problems. It does not say a single thing about the story of how life developed.

  7. Neil Rickert

    Since you’re a real mathematician, I’m sure you wouldn’t find neo-Darwinism appealing, precisely because of its total lack of mathematical rigor. However, the average person in the street imagines that it is an elegant theory that can be expressed rigorously in terms of a few well-defined principles, because it’s been sold to the public that way. That’s why the “chattering classes” do find neo-Darwinism appealing.

  8. markf

    I agree with you that ID theorists should attempt to uncover the whole story of life, and I hope they do a much better job in the future than they have to date. However, before we can tell the story of life (an historical epic) we first need to understand how the cell works. Now that’s quite a story in itself – and it’s the more fundamental one.

  9. idnet.com.au

    Thank you for asking about my book, but I’m still getting advice on how (and by whom) it should be published. If anyone has ideas, I’m open to them.

  10. markf, unlike Dr. Torley, I find that ID offers a rock solid framework in which ‘the real story’ of life finds firm footing in which to cohere in the overarching puzzle that is now coming together much more clearly as a resolution of past events increases, whereas I find the evolutionary/materialistic story (fairy tale) to be completely devoid of any rational foundation in science in the first place (i.e. materialism is now the laughing stock of philosophies due to quantum mechanics!) and moreover the only firm thing in the evolutionary ‘story’ is its inability to be falsified by the overwhelming evidence against it.

    Intelligent Design – The Anthropic Hypothesis
    http://lettherebelight-77.blog.....is_19.html

    OT:

    speaking of beauty:

    Heather Williams – “Hallelujah” [live]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFpeZOIzXPk

  11. vjtorley:

    “However, the average person in the street imagines that it is an elegant theory that can be expressed rigorously in terms of a few well-defined principles, because it’s been sold to the public that way.”
    ===

    Seriously, the average person on the street doesn’t even bother to do their own homework. They let what they perceive as Geniuses do their thinking and study for them. But there is also a more important source that has zero to do with the Scientists, College(any type of schooling), leading celebrity philosophers and ideologues and it’s called HOLLYWOOD. Has anyone taken a clear look at the garbage Hollywood pimps to the public on this subject in any one of the products the shove in the Public’s faces as entertainment ??? They cleverly and subtly slip the drug of this ideology throughout the script.

    Take or retake a healthy look at in particular, the Science Fiction stories they produce and anything with regards this dogma(evolution) is taken for granted and spoken as fact. Echo this enough times under the guise of entertainment and even you can slowly become immersed in the fogma of the doctrine. The public in general is mostly lazy and this is what Evolutionists are counting on. Of course the job is made easier when raw materialistic decadent ammoral celeb icons are on the same page as your side as well. It’s called marketing.

  12. markf:

    It seems to me that evolutionary biologists do provide a story about life – a rather complex and messy one with lots of bits missing – but a story.

    So science is done via story-telling?

    No wonder most people think the theory of evolution is a joke…

  13. #12

    So science is done via story-telling?

    Of course not. One of the consequences of evolutionary biology is the ability to reconstruct the story of life to a limited extent. Just as astronomy allows us to reconstruct the story of the universe and the solar system.

    No wonder most people think the theory of evolution is a joke…</em

    Except they don't. Worldwide most people believe in evolution.

  14. Talking Point correctives:

    Re: MF, 12:

    1: Truth is not settled by a majority vote or public opinion poll, but by warrant. For as Aristotle aptly said, truth is that which says of what is that it is, and of what is not, that it is not.

    2: While evolutionary materialism is probably not a majority view of the world at large, it is a common enough view and it is so because it has been assiduously promoted in the name of science and progress for the past 150 years. (I suspect that most people who believe that the biodiversity we see came by common descent with modification, believe this was divinely guided, not a solely materialistic process.)

    2: The dominance of the evolutionary materialistic view of origins in today’s science, policy and education institutions is easily and best explained on the power of absolutely small but influential factions to dominate key institutions and drive their policy process.

    3: When it comes to origins science, the evidence strongly supports the conclusion that despite many strident declarations otherwise, it boils down to the telling of materialistic just so stories. This, because of the undeclared implications of the imposition of so-called methodological naturalism on origins science.

    4: For, Lewontin spoke truthfully when he wrote the following in the NYRB, in 1997 and let the cat out of the bag that should have held a piglet:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. cf context and discussion here.]

    More corrections of MF’s talking points today can be accessed here on.

    GEM of TKI

  15. markf:

    One of the consequences of evolutionary biology is the ability to reconstruct the story of life to a limited extent.

    Not via science.

    markf:

    Worldwide most people believe in evolution.

    According to the Gallup Polls most people think the theory of evolution is nonsense- ie only a small % believe in it- and “believe in” is the correct term as not one person can provide positive evidence for it.

  16. markf,

    Worldwide most people believe in evolution.

    No they don’t. Worldwide most people are religious. They don’t believe in their children shape-shifting.

  17. #16 Clive

    No they don’t. Worldwide most people are religious. They don’t believe in their children shape-shifting.

    People can be religious and believe in evolution.

    Of course it depends on what you mean by “believe in evolution”.  Also there appears to be a shortage of comprehensive data.  No doubt you are familiar with this survey which shows that the majority of people in Western countries believe that "Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals."  But of course what really matters is what people in China, India etc believe.  I found this recent survey by the British Council and IPSOS which covered India and China (among others).

    They key results are:

    Agree scientific evidence for evolution exists?

    China 55% India 38%

    Do not think there is scientific evidence for evolution?

    China 5% India 2%

    Neither agree or disagree

    China 17% India 8%

    (Quite why they don’t add up to 100% I am not sure)

    Of course one survey is not proof – but I haven’t seen anything to the contrary.

  18. markf-

    The theory of evolution is more specific than that. It posits that all living organisms owether ollective common ancestry o sme unknown population of single-celed organisms via accumulations of geeti accidents.

    IOW this:

    “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.”

    Is total nonsense. Not only that but “earlier species of animals” could still be a human!

    But thanks for pointing out that bogus poll…

  19. And the second poll is also a farce- ID is not anti-evolution. IOW frst they need to define what they mean by “evolution” and then ask their questions.

  20. Talking point corrections:

    re MF, 17:

    If you were to ask Ken Ham of the AiG whether scientific evidence for evolution exists, he would have to say yes, if the matter is left as vague as that.

    If evolution is defined as empiricaly supported chanfes in populations across time, i.e. what is sometimes called microevo, the obvious answer is yes.

    If that is extrapolated into the claim that the empirical evidence supports the common decent of all species of life from a universal common ancestor by strictly blind chance variation and natural selection or the like in a materialistic world (and where that remote claimed ancestor was itself the product of blind chemical changes in some warm little pond or the like giving rise to an RNA or metabolism first world], the answer would be very different.

    Going beyond that, majority or minority opinion on matters like these, where we did not observe the actual deep past, nor do we have generally accepted record from those who did, simply reflects balance of power in insittutions of power and influence. The fact that very few people on the whole are evolutionary materialists as described above — despite the steady drumbeat of he a priori materialists who dominate scientific institutions and their publicists and popularisers — is simply proof that even the strongest propaganda efforts have their limits.

    Onlookers, to understand what agenda lies behind MF’s comments, cf here on.

    Happy New Year to all

    GEM of TKI

  21. Joseph

    I find it hard to understand your comments. But I think they relate to the ambiguity of the key phrases in the two polls:

    “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals”

    “scientific evidence for evolution exists”

    As I pointed out in comment #17, when discussing how many people do or do not believe in evolution (or think it is a joke) the phrase is unclear. I don’t think there is any way round that. The best evidence you are going to get is polls such as these which take some evolution related phrase and ask for people’s opinion – which probably only measure a generic anti- or pro- evolution sentiment. Given the huge prevalence of the pro-evolution over the anti-evolution answers in both polls this is quite strong circumstantial evidence that globally most people are pro-evolution. (A much bigger problem with the second poll is the sampling method which is not documented but I suspect may not be at all rigorous). I have not come across any poll at all suggesting that worldwide anti-evolution sentiment comes anywhere close to pro-evolution sentiment. Maybe you have some data to back up your opinion?

  22. markf-

    Neither ID nor YEC is anti-evolution in the sense that evolution = a change in allele frequncies over time. YECs also accet speciation.

    As I said neither poll defines what it means by “evolution” and as such are totally useless.

  23. markf:

    I have not come across any poll at all suggesting that worldwide anti-evolution sentiment comes anywhere close to pro-evolution sentiment.

    How are you defining “evolution”?

    see the following:

    Biological evolution- what is being debated?

  24. To recap:

    I had said- No wonder most people think the theory of evolution is a joke…

    The THEORY OF EVOLUTION which posits that all living organisms owe their collective common ancestry to some unknown prokaryotic-like population(s) of organisms via accumulations of genetic accidents.

    So markf counters with the usual equivocation of “evolution”.

    And that is why most people think the theory is a joke, because of the continued equivocation…

  25. markf (#13)

    Thank you for your comment. You wrote:

    One of the consequences of evolutionary biology is the ability to reconstruct the story of life to a limited extent. Just as astronomy allows us to reconstruct the story of the universe and the solar system.

    Two quick comments:

    (1) Scientists have done a magnificent job in piecing together the story of life on Earth. The vast majority of these scientists are neo-Darwinian evolutionists, but the facts that have been ascertained so far are certainly consistent with other explanations of the development of life, such as common descent with occasional inputs of specified information into living organisms, by an Intelligent Source. We know that certain changes happened in certain lineages, at certain times in the Earth’s history, but we still don’t know how.

    (2) As I argued earlier, the story of how a living organism works, and how it is put together, is even more fundamental than the story of how life evolved, because we cannot hope to understand the latter unless we understand the former. Francis Crick acknowledged the same point in a quote that someone drew my attention to recently:

    “I think there are two fair criticisms of natural selection. The first is that we cannot as yet calculate, from first principles, the rate of natural selection, except in a very approximate way, though this may become a little easier when we understand in more details how organisms develop. It is, after all, rather odd that we worry so much how organisms evolved (a process difficult to study, since it happened in the past and is inherently unpredictable), when we still don’t know exactly how they work today. Embryology is much easier to study than evolution. The more logical strategy would be to find out first, in considerable detail, how organisms develop and how they work, and only then to worry how they evolved. Yet evolution is so fascinating a subject that we cannot resist the temptation to try to explain it now, even though our knowledge of embryology is still very incomplete.”

    - Francis Crick, What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery (New York: Basic Books, 1988), pp. 30-1; emphasis added.

  26. #25 vj

    Thank you for comment. The only point I wanted to make is that evolutionary scientists have put together an incomplete but recognisably story about how life developed. ID theorists have not even made a start on it. So it seems rather odd to claim that evolutionary biologists were wedded to a “non-story” account of events while ID proponent are open to story explanation.

  27. #23, #24

    Joseph – far be it from me to accuse you of equivocation but I repeat my question. Do you have any data to support your statement:

    “most people think the theory of evolution is a joke…”

  28. 28

    I for one have no problem admitting there is evidence for things I don’t actually believe, such as the old age of the earth.

    As for evolution being a joke? I have no idea whether most people think that. However, I’m almost 100% certain that if I discussed evolution with an average person he will go away thinking it was a joke. lol

    Ditto even if there was an evolutionist present to disagree with me.

  29. markf:

    Do you have any data to support your statement:

    “most people think the theory of evolution is a joke…”

    Gallup Poll- (even though it too asks the wrong question)

    markf:

    The only point I wanted to make is that evolutionary scientists have put together an incomplete but recognisably story about how life developed.

    It is a substance-free story- IOW it lacks evidentiary support.

  30. Talking point correctives:

    Re MF, 26: The only point I wanted to make is that evolutionary scientists have put together an incomplete but recognisably story about how life developed. ID theorists have not even made a start on it.

    I call onlookers’ attention to 14 above, which MF steadfastly refuses to address.

    In particular, he refuses to admit that the key point of the design inference is that we have empirically reliable signs of design, which are abundant in cell based life forms, and which invalidate the evolutionary materialistic narrative of common descent on blind chance variation plus natural selection and related forms of blind chance + mechanical necessity

    Let us scoop out the devastating admission by Lewontin in the 1997 NYRB article, so we may see how the story was constructed on what controlling principles:

    __________________

    >> It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Cf discussion of context here.>>
    ___________________

    A story constructed under such censorship may well have institutional support and may be popular with those who have yet to learn of its grave defects, but it is an ideological narrative, not an unfettered pursuit of the truth about our world based on empirical evidence and inference to the best explanation of that evidence though free discussion.

    For more on MF’s agenda, cf here on, esp at 88.

    GEM of TKI

  31. F/N: It is well worth noting that to identify on reasonable evidence — empirically reliable [and well tested] signs of intelligent configuration — that key steps in the origin of life on earth and its diversification into major body plans required intelligent inputs, is a major indeed revolutionary contribution to our thinking on origins. The last time that such a key point was put forth, on the implication of Hubble expansion that the observed cosmos had a beginning, it took nearly 40 years for the science establishment to finally accept it.

  32. #29 Joseph

    I think you will find that is a US poll.

  33. markf,

    Do you always base your search for truth on the consensus of the majority of people in the world? If so why do you not believe in almighty God who created this universe and all life in it since most people of the world believe in God?

    Major Religions of the World
    Ranked by Number of Adherents
    http://www.adherents.com/Relig.....rents.html

  34. #33

    Do you always base your search for truth on the consensus of the majority of people in the world?

    No. However, I do base my answer to the question “do most people think evolution is a joke” on what the majority of people think – which was the issue.

  35. But markf I am fairly certain you know that for a fact Darwinian evolution has no corroborating evidence to support its grand claims (If you disagree, present your evidence so that it may be thoroughly dismantled), Thus why do you play games? Do you imagine that repeating a lie often enough will make it true? Do you think that when you die and are judged by God, as we all certainly will be, that your deeds will be forgotten? Thus once again, since the consequences are so severe for those who try to suppress the truth with deception, why do you play these games?

  36. markf:

    I think you will find that is a US poll.

    Yes it is. And seeing that the rest of the world is more open-minded than we appear to be, neo-darwinism doesn’t stand a chance.

  37. #36

    So, given that the USA is not “most people”, you still have not produced any data to support your proposal:

    “most people think the theory of evolution is a joke…”

  38. And no one has produced any data to support the theory of evolution- that is the claim that all living oganisms owe their collective common ancestry to some unknown population(s) of prokaryotic-like organisms via accumulations of genetic accidents.

    So given that, why would anyone take the “theory” seriously?

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