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Darwinism: Why it is philosophy, not science

My most recent post talked about why Fr. George Coyne was asked to retire from the Vatican Observatory, after his vigorous campaign to oppose the Vatican’s efforts to distance itself from Darwinism (or “evolutionism,” as Cardinal Schoenborn likes to call it).

I shouldn’t have to point this out, but hey. Sidelining Fr. Coyne does not mean that the Vatican is weighing in on the interminable US school board wars.

Yes, the Pope used the term “progetto intelligente,” which is a functionally equivalent rendering of “intelligent design” in a homily. But only a naive person would imagine that the Catholic Church, which is thousands of years old, would stake all on current specific ideas of American biochemists, mathematicians, or astronomers.

Why? It need not. Philosopher David Stove has already demolished Darwinism by doing nothing more than unpacking what neo-Darwinists really expect us to believe, to help them preserve their theory.

And if you really believe all that the Darwinists wish, you had better ask a solicitous friend to answer the door for you whenever you see two frumpy people approaching your house, armed with tracts … .

I expect ID ideas to come thick and fast in the next few decades, and it certainly won’t be the job of the Catholic Church to keep up with, let alone pass judgment on, all of them. The main thing the Church seems to want to get across is that “evolutionism” (Darwinism) fails to account for human life in the present day, which happens to be true.

A given ID hypothesis may turn out to be well or poorly supported. That, in a nutshell, is the science game. But an ancient institution like the Catholic Church can well afford to wait and see what happens, as Darwinism self-destructs.

Of course the universe and life forms show evidence of intelligent design! It is a measure of the sheer stunnedness of a materialist culture that such a proposition would even be controversial. Or that academics should be obsessing about why the American public doesn’t believe in Darwinist materialism. Well, primarily because Americans enjoy the unique and enviable freedom to say that they don’t believe nonsense. I hope the freedom spreads. Lots of places could sure use it right now.

Meanwhile, I was recently involved in a somewhat heated private discussion about whether Darwinism can be held in a purely “scientific” way, devoid of the philosophy that usually animates its most fervent promoters.

Well, maybe. And maybe I can wake up my old cat and learn him to play the fiddle, and then we can all have a dance …

From everything I can see, 150 years later, Darwinism is still the creation story of materialism. That is the real reason for its persistence.

Physics has got on fine in the last century without a Grand Unified Theory, and biology could too. But materialism, unlike biology, needs a creation story in order to function as a religion – hence the value of Darwinism.

In the private debate noted above, I discovered that philosophers who argue for fine distinctions between Darwinism as a theory in science and Darwinism as a philosophy have rarely actually encountered serious Darwinists in their native state. The Thumbsmen are a case in point , and a piece of work, too (scroll down). But the philosophers are unlikely to go out and discover that for themselves.

Essentially, no Darwinist has any motive whatever to clear up the confusion between Darwinism as a theory about how species develop and Darwinism as a philosophy. The confusion is precisely what maintains Darwinism’s social power.

The last thing the Darwinists want is to see Darwinism evaluated on its own merits as a strictly defined theory of the origin of species (with such issues as origin of life and human consciousness off the table because Darwinism is probably inapplicable to them). You may as well expect communists to accept an objective evaluation of the performance of Marxist economics!

To anyone who doubts this, I have three-word suggestion: Google “evolutionary psychology.”

You could sink a canal barge with all the nonsense that has been talked about cave guys and gals, as a speculative explanation for the life around us. Guarantee: You will wake up in the morning, and the sun is shining and all that is still nonsense.

Indeed, Darwinists will stoop a long, long way in their efforts to prevent an objective evaluation. I am reminded of a sentence from journalist Michael Powell’s masterly Washington Post piece on Richard Sternberg:

Sternberg was advised not to attend. ‘I was told that feelings were running so high, they could not guarantee me that they could keep order,’ Sternberg said.

Oh yes? Indeed. And yet I was informed by certain sniffy philosophers that my distrust of a point of view on account of the behaviour of those who hold is a “genetic fallacy.”

I want to say here and now that I do not believe in the genetic fallacy in any systematic way.

Some points of view are only held by persons of poor character.

The eminent Darwinists who can no more be trusted to keep order than the guys in the Court Services van that shuttles between the jailhouse and the courthouse are a possible case in point ….

Here’s another interesting “Darwinism” item: University of Washington psychology professor and Darwinist David P. Barash recently looked forward enthusiastically to the day when “thanks to advances in reproductive technology, there will be hybrids, or some other mixed human-animal genetic composite, in our future.”

Barash objects to drawing a line between humans and other life forms: “It is a line that exists only in the minds of those who proclaim that the human species, unlike all others, possesses a spark of the divine and that we therefore stand outside nature.”

There, you see. It is as plain as daylight. Barash is NOT making a secret of his aim to denigrate humans and there is NO big philosophical conundrum. If you can read a newspaper, you an understand what he is saying.

Barash’s point of view is NOT the inevitable outcome of any reasonable interpretation of science, it is merely the outcome of radical materialism.

I know of no serious proposition to separate that sort of thing from the teaching of Darwinism in tax-supported schools. And that is the main reason why there is an intelligent design controversy in the public at large.

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74 Responses to Darwinism: Why it is philosophy, not science

  1. Love reading your posts!

  2. What is the difference between philosophy and science?

    Is there a difference?

  3. Well at least you guys are trying to narrow down what you mean by “Darwinism”…..

    Thus saith Michael Behe:

    “The point I’m trying to drive home here by discussing my own work as well as the work of Miller and Haught, is that a very wide range of views about the mechanism of evolution is consistent with Catholic teaching, from the natural selection defended by [Kenneth] Miller, to the intelligent design I have proposed, to the animated, information-suffused universe that John Haught sees. Those mechanisms are all proposed by persons who attach the same bottom-line philosophy to their ideas that Pope John Paul described: that ‘it is the God of Israel who acts’ and that ‘it is the one and the same God who establishes and guarantees the intelligibility and reasonableness of the natural order of things upon which scientists confidently depend, and who reveals himself as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Indeed, the range of possibilities that are available under a Catholic viewpoint is much wider than under a materialistic viewpoint.” (Michael Behe, from “A Catholic Scientist Looks at Darwinism” in Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing edited by William Dembski [2004], page 143-144)

    “From the natural selection defended by Miller….” says Behe.

    Darwinism as science
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/darwinism.html

    Darwinism as philosophy
    http://service.spiegel.de/cach.....19,00.html

    Phil P

  4. “Americans enjoy the unique and enviable freedom to say that they don’t believe nonsense”

    Many other countries, including most of Godless Europe, are perfectly free to say that they don’t believe nonsense. What are you trying to say?

  5. I don’t think Barash has the aim of denigrating humans, rather in his mind and in the minds of many others they believe that they are liberating humans from the shackles of mentally restrictive foolish religious beliefs. They don’t see themselves as warriors for materialism, rather they see themselves as enlightened beings ministering to the deluded fools who believe in fairy tales whose beliefs are harmful to human society. They believe they are actually helping humans and human civilization in general.

    That’s why they are so arrogant. They feel they have truth, justice, and the american way on their side and that anyone who disagrees with their views are just deluded and beneath them. Of course there are exceptions to this rule i.e people like Ken Miller, but who knows? He may just be an atheist who pretends to be a theist in order to promote evolution in some convoluted plan of divide of conquer.

    I really don’t think many serious evolutionists get seriously introspective on their motivations and philosophical vision. Some of the more mentallu unbalanced evolutionists may have wacky ideas about using darwinism as an all purpose lens with which to view the world, but most are content to not be philosophical at all. How can they be philosophically minded when anybody who is philosophically minded and not insane and a darwinist would be faced with an overwhelming cognitive dissonance? The reason they are not faced with an overwhelming cognitive dissonace is because they are either unphilosophical in their mental outlook or they are mentally disturbed.

  6. By the way, Prof. Barash is another Darwinist (in this case an evolutionary psychologist) that uses the word “Darwinism” and has even co-authored a book with “Darwinian” in the title. I only mention this because I keep reading about objections to the use of Darwin’s name as a “pejorative used by creationists”.

  7. Of course they use the term \”Darwinist/Darwinism!\”

    And if they really believed in what they were telling us, they wouldn\’t be ashamed to do so, either.

    It is a characteristic of the collapse of Darwinism as a worldview that the Darwinists would actually start a minor uproar claiming that ID types use the term to describe them but that they don\’t themselves.

    One way I knew that communism was dying was when communists began to insist that they weren\’t really communists, merely socialists. And certainly not Marxists …. True, the collapse took some years, but it – of course – happened.

  8. The whole charade of people saying they are offended by ID people or others saying they are Darwinist or that they support Darwinism is a joke. The official name they dreamed up was neo-Darwinism. That is their term. So are they not offended if we call them neo Darwinists or that they support neo Darwinism. Are they upset because many just drop the “neo?”

    Neo Darwinism has an official definition. At least one professor who teaches evolution at Berkeley defines it as natural selection plus genetics so I assume that is standard. Here is the definition from wikipedia which is the same

    “The modern evolutionary synthesis (often referred to simply as the new synthesis, the modern synthesis, the evolutionary synthesis, neo-Darwinian synthesis or neo-Darwinism), generally denotes the integration of Charles Darwin’s theory of the evolution of species by natural selection, Gregor Mendel’s theory of genetics as the basis for biological inheritance, random genetic mutation as the source of variation, and mathematical population genetics.”

    As far as I know this is how most use the term Darwinism on this site though they tend not to mention the population genetics as much as natural selection.

  9. (7) One way I knew that communism was dying was when communists began to insist that they weren\’t really communists, merely socialists.

    Actually, the split between “socialists” and “communists” can be traced back to Eduard Bernstein’s program of social democracy during the Second International.

    (4) Many other countries, including most of Godless Europe, are perfectly free to say that they don’t believe nonsense. What are you trying to say?

    In a recent survey, people from Europe and America were asked, “Did human beings, as we know them, develop from earlier species of animals?” Americans were less likely to answer “yes” than citizens of most European countries — including Croatia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Latvia.

    Presumably this should concern intelligent design theorists and supporters as much as it concerns neo-Darwinians — since (a) the debate between intelligent design and neo-Darwinism is not about whether humans developed from earlier species, but whether that development was guided by an intelligence or not, and (b) intelligent design theorists and supporters often insist that they are not creationists — but to deny that human beings developed from earlier species is to affirm creationism.

    In other words, an intelligent design advocate (IDA, if you will) can look at these data and say, “yay! the chokehold of Darwinism is loosening!” — but one cannot do that and cry foul when he or she is then lumped in with creationists. Or, an IDA can acknowledge that he has much more in common with neo-Darwinian supporters than either may like to admit.

    On Darwin and philosophy: speaking as a philosopher (see, I’m wearing my other hat!), Darwin insisted on two points that re-conceptualized our picture of what life is. The first is the reality of variation: there are only populations defined by a distribution of traits — hence there are no “kinds,” as imagined by Aristotle. The second is the reality of contingency: there is no necessity or intention to evolutionary change.

    Darwin does not provide arguments for either assertion. What he did, rather, is show that if these premises are accepted, then much which was previously inexplicable suddenly becomes understandable.

    For a philosophical examination of Darwin, I recommend Philip Kitcher’s “Giving Darwin His Due

  10. 10

    If Darwinism is on the verge of collapse as is so often started on this blog, where does that leave us? And is there in fact solid evidence that this is the case, or is this just a much-desired assertion based on popular opinion? Let’s be a little scientific here, if Darwinism were to collapse, what would be the predictable signs? For example, would Universities stop teaching evolution classes? Would there be statements by prominent evolutionists (and preferable non-religious ones such as Dawkins) that declare that evolution theory is incorrect? So far I haven’t see these things occur, or maybe I’m not looking in the right place?

    And if Darwinism is a defunct theory, what exactly do we now teach? After all most IDers do accept common descent don’t they? And didn’t most of the scientific work around common descent in fact come from the evolutionist camp? Does ID theory alone have enough substance to fully replace evolution wholesale? Are the IDers then going to throw out the baby with the bath water, or is there going to be an acknowledgement that there is an overlapping body of knowledge that both the ID and evolution sides agree on? I think doing so would be a very good thing — acknowledging what ID and evolution have in common could help not only mend fences but allow for a more constructive dialog between the two groups.

  11. Carlos,

    You are confused. Creationism is associated with those who hold a literal interpretation of Genesis. I understand there can be an old earth literal interpretation and a young earth literal interpretation. There are many other religious interpretations of creation besides a literal Genesis. So you should use the term correctly especially here. If I am not correct then others here can comment on this to delineate other differences.

    For example, there have been several threads recently on Catholic Church activity on evolution. The Catholic Church does not take a literal interpretation of Genesis but is certainly associated with the view that God created at various times. So are they creationist according to your definition? There are Catholics here and non-Catholics who are not creationist by their own view but think ID explains certain things that naturalistic processes couldn’t on their own “create.” Is everyone a creationist who thinks that at one past time an intelligence intervened? You have to be precise because these terms are frequently used in the press and popular literature as if they were the same when most here do not think they are.

  12. John Singleton,

    I think you could make a case that ID subsumes neo Darwinism. Few here will say that neo Darwinism does not have application in a lot of areas of biology. I doubt there would be too many at the Discovery Institute who would object to neo Darwinism in the areas it has been shown to work.

    What neo Darwinism does not do is explain a lot of phenomena in the history of life on the planet, that is most of the major evolutionary events. Modern biology could go on its merry way and never broach these topics of past evolutionary events and may be even more effective. Neo Darwinism is nothing more than modern genetics with natural selection thrown in. I don’t think ID advocates have any problems with genetics. It is just when neo Darwinism claims it can explain all of life history that we have a problem.

    In other words there should be no problem with the education system or research activity if neo Darwinism is just limited to what it can explain which in evolution is trivial. Right now that is not the case and an indoctrination has been going on and those who support neo Darwinism are not trying to save science but their indoctrination machine, which is the public school science program.

    You could still teach evolution and biology but do it honestly. We all would be better off.

  13. You could still teach evolution and biology but do it honestly.

    Do you seriously believe or expect others to believe that those who teach evolution and biology are dishonest? I do not doubt John Davison’s honest belief in his PEH, even though I find it unconvincing.

  14. 14

    Jerry,

    Thanks for your comments, including “I doubt there would be too many at the Discovery Institute who would object to neo Darwinism in the areas it has been shown to work.”

    As somebody who is new to the ID vs. evolution argument, I do get the impression that it is very polarized, but as you say yourself there are in fact some aspects of neo-Darwinism that have been helpful and will continue to be. I guess I don’t understand why the ID community doesn’t stress this more — particularly the issue of common descent and natural selection (which would after all help ensure they are distinct from creationist and not lumped in with them as many evolutionists believe). After all some of this is just simple psychology — if you want to win somebody over to your viewpoint one tried-and-tested strategy is to emphasize what you have in common. In my job I use this technique all the time and can attest that it is effective. This way a true dialog on a solid foundation can be built. But judging by the polemic ‘anti-Darwinian’ posts on this blog I have yet to see this happen — and I think science as a whole is all the poorer for this.

  15. “Yes, the Pope used the term “progetto intelligente,” which is a functionally equivalent rendering of “intelligent design” in a homily

    I expect ID ideas to come thick and fast in the next few decades, and it certainly won’t be the job of the Catholic Church to keep up with, let alone pass judgment on, all of them. The main thing the Church seems to want to get across is that “evolutionism” (Darwinism) fails to account for human life in the present day, which happens to be true.”

    I agree only partially. It is true that the Catholic Church will not directly support the scientific ID movement, but this does not means that its criticism of Darwinism will be constrained to the birth of human life nor that its influence will be less important.

    Let us consider the famous speech of Pope Benedict XVI last November; you can read the ful text in the English translation in http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....38;id=3035
    After a citation by St. Basil the Great about world creation, the Pope commented as follows

    “… I find that when this Father from the fourth century says that some people, “deceived by the atheism they bear within them, imagined that the universe was deprived of any guidance and order, as though it were at the mercy of fate,” his words are surprisingly relevant today. Who are these people today, who, deceived by atheism, hold onto and try to prove that it is scientific to think that everything is deprived of any guidance and order, as though it were at the mercy of fate? The Lord, through sacred Scripture, awakens the reasoning that is asleep within us and tells us: In the beginning was the creative Word – the Word that created everything, that created this intelligent design that is the universe – and also love.
    Therefore, allow this Word of God to awaken us. Let us pray that it will also enlighten our minds so that we might perceive the message of creation, which is inscribed in our hearts, that the beginning of everything is creative Wisdom, and that this Wisdom is love and goodness: “His mercy endures forever!”

    This speech is very important because we can observe that:

    1. The inference of a Creation of the world is stated as evident and only people “deceived by atheism, hold onto and try to prove that it is scientific to think that everything is deprived of any guidance and order, as though it were at the mercy of fate”.

    2. The recognition of the Creation is also a rational affair: “The Lord … awakens the reasoning that is asleep”

    3. This awaken reason leads us to realize that “In the beginning was the creative Word – the Word that created everything, that created this intelligent design that is the universe”.

    4. A very important thing, that cannot be appreciated in the English translation, is that the Pope used in his speech the Italian term “progetto intelligente”. Whereas this is the usual and correct translation for the English “intelligent design”, it is very meaningful that the term “progetto” IS NOT the typical one which is used in any Church documents and homilies to indicate the past and present action of God in the history of the world. To this aim the Italian word “disegno” (which better denotes the work of an artist who perform his painting or his plan) is nearly always used.

    Kairos

  16. Alan Fox,

    To the extent that any biologist willfully distorts the ID position or implies that neo Darwinism can do anything beyond micro-evolution, they are being dishonest. I will point to the textbooks being used in biology classes today and their authors as examples. One of major college biology textbooks openly endorses the ideas of Richard Dawkins. That to me is being dishonest in a big way not only for the biology espoused by Richard Dawkins but for the philosophical implications.

    Can you defend any biology class or book that references Richard Dawkins in a positive way?

  17. John Singleton,

    There are a lot of different people who visit this site and comment. Some are creationists; some are atheists and obviously a lot have other points of view. The official ID definition is linked to on the side of each thread above. There is no reason according to this definition why neo Darwinism will have no role in biology and evolution but most of here believe it is a minor one. Wherever the evidence supports it, we will support it. The problem is the evidence does not support it in too many evolutionary events.

    Most of the polarization comes from without and the attacks on the Darwinists by people here including myself are essentially attacks on the unreasonalbeness of those who want total dominion for naturalistic evolution which primarily means neo Darwinism. Most want to portray the ID people as kooks or only religiously motivated. We have yet to meet anyone who can actually defend neo Darwinism for anything beyond its limited role. Sometimes that limited role has important implications for biology and for life and health and we will agree with the findings. But in terms of evolution it is limited to trivial events.

  18. In response to (11): you’re right to point out that creationism consists of several different, and detachable, claims. My point was that intelligent design, just like neo-Darwinism, is consistent with the denial that every single species arose through a unique act of creation.

    So if creationism just is the assertion, “every single species arose through a unique act of creation,” than one could easily deny that and still support intelligent design, or theistic evolution, or atheistic evolution.

    I’ll confess that the differences between theistic evolution and intelligent design still elude me. So far as I can tell, theistic evolution is committed only to the claim that God somehow guided or directed evolutionary change. And intelligent design would hardly disagree with that! But intelligent design makes a stronger claim: that the indications of God’s guidance and direction can be established on the basis of scientific evidence. Theistic evolution, on the other hand, is committed to the much weaker claim that science is not incompatible with creation.

    In other words, theistic evolution is committed to the general assertion, “there are things that we can know without knowing them scientifically,” and the corollary, “one of those things we can know is that God created the world and all within it.” This is not presented as a scientific claim, but as a claim that is not inconsistent with scientific knowledge.

    Interestingly, then, we see here that both intelligent design and atheistic evolution are fully committed to the assertion, “all truth can be known through scientific means,” whereas theistic evolutionists are not. That’s perhaps why theistic evolutionists like Miller and Collins get attacked from both sides.

    (17) Sometimes that limited role has important implications for biology and for life and health and we will agree with the findings. But in terms of evolution it is limited to trivial events.

    I agree. Ever since the major body-plans were established 500 million years ago, the history of life has been trivial, if not downright boring. You’ve seen one vertebrate, you’ve seen ‘em all.

  19. Carlos,

    I don’t think that ID says that everything is knowable by science but that it says that some things defy any natural explanation and point to design. However, it is always possible that a natural explanation for a specific event may be identified.

    The best example is the origin of life. Right now ID says the probability of that happening by natural means is so remote that it had to have an intelligent input. Not only because the cell is so complex and so are many of its components but how each of the parts works together in an organized manner. There is complexity on complexity in the cell. ID does not say we will eventually find out how it happened or who did it. So it is essentially saying that some areas of scientific inquiry may be dead ends. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try though.

    I don’t object to origin of life research personally and doubt it will ever turn up anything about the event. However, people should not be limited in what they research and often we get side benefits from research even if it did not solve the original problem. What I object to is the false messages that are disseminated by its proponents. I guess they have to or they would lose their funding but it gives a dishonest appraisal of the problem.

  20. 20

    Jerry,

    Thanks again for the comments and I’m enjoying this discourse. Glad to hear you say that there is common ground — this is actually refreshing and I again I wish that this was promoted more. I truly think that finding some commonality may actually be a better ‘wedge’ than some previous strategies.

    Now regarding your comment: “Most of the polarization comes from without and the attacks on the Darwinists by people here including myself are essentially attacks on the unreasonalbeness of those who want total dominion for naturalistic evolution which primarily means neo Darwinism. Most want to portray the ID people as kooks or only religiously motivated.”

    Well, remember that you guys are the new kids on the block. Evolution has been around a long time and for better or worse is considered the established truth, so don’t be surprised if the establishment do not welcome you with open arms – particularly if you do paint a picture that all evolution is ‘wrong’ (even though that isn’t the case). That’s why I think ID should consider a more conciliatory approach — particulary if ultimately ID wants to win the support of scientists (rather than the general public which though valuable may do little to actually further promote science). As to ID being religiously motivated — well unfortunately that is a real perception and I think ID needs to work harder to dispell this. After all the Discovery Institute is considered largely Christian in origin and many of the leading proponents of ID do have strong religious beliefs (Wells, Dembski, Behe etc). What ID needs is a true agnostic scientist on board – that woud go a long way to change this perception.

  21. (19) I don’t think that ID says that everything is knowable by science but that it says that some things defy any natural explanation and point to design. However, it is always possible that a natural explanation for a specific event may be identified.

    Now we’ve switched from “material” to “natural” as the Mystery Word, and things go from bad to worse. What does “natural” mean, anyway? Does it mean anything, or any one thing? I fear that the terms “natural,” “naturalism,” etc. are used in too many different senses, and too many different armies have fought under such banners, for these terms to be of any help to us — at least a great deal of philosophical work would have to be carried out.

    That aside — it strikes me that this is not the most helpful way of presenting the assertions of intelligent design theory. A better way to put it would be to say that, according to intelligent design theory, it is possible to scientifically demonstrate that unguided, purposeless (“blind,” if you will) causes are insufficient to generate biological complexity.

    Notice: the claim is not merely that “blind” causes are insufficient to generate biological complexity — that much could be affirmed by theistic evolution! — but that this insufficiency can itself be scientifically demonstrated.

    That, it seems to me, is where theistic evolution and intelligent design part ways. For theistic evolution can, at least in the Catholic tradition, fall back on the distinction between “truths of reason” (which are scientifically demonstrable) and “truths of faith” (which are not) — and then simply assert that the Creation is a truth of faith.

    Most want to portray the ID people as kooks or only religiously motivated.

    I don’t doubt that ID advocates are, for the most part, sane and sincere. Some of you are clearly religiously motivated, but I don’t think that all of you are. In any event, most of those that are religiously motivated nevertheless recognize the difference between a motivation and a reason; motivations may inspire one to keep fighting the good fight, but only reasons can persuade.

  22. John I don’t think that you are correct in saying that most ID supporters support common descent. Common descent has no provable evidence to support it, it is really nothing more then a speculation based upon homology…which for evolutionist is based on…common descent. So what we have is circular reasoning. I would venture to estimate that most ID people belive in common design not common descent. As to your concern that ID supporters should try to find common ground with evolution in an attempt to get respect, that is really not possible. Evolution theory is supporting countless careers and reputations besides it being a social and political tool for those who wish to attack religious beliefs. The evolutionst camp do not want compromise they want total dominace, any evolutionist who has compromised is attacked by the evolutionist camp because they see ID as nothing more then an attack on them i.e their careers, reputations, social views, political views, religious views.

    Anyways there is really very little room to compromise on anything. The problem evolutionsts have (most of them) is of allowing the conception of a designer to have scientific credibility. That is their concern. They aren’t concerned about proving evolution, they are concerned with allowing “supernatural” concepts (god) legitimization. Without their changing of that view there is no room for compromise, they will not allow compromise on that subject. ID is professing that a designer exists, without that there is no ID. So the two camps cannot reconcile because they have diametrically opposed views on what should ne considered science. Since ID extols that which is vehemently not allowed by the evolutionst oligarchy, ID therefore becomes public enemy #1 to them.

    Can this change? Sure, but it will take some serious soul searching by the evolutionst camp, otherwise they will not change for a while. The simplest way to disprove their basal paradigm (no desinger allowed because a designer doesn’t exist) is to press on the origins of life. That is where we got them and it is the weakest link in their chain. It is easy to prove that the earliest life forms could not have come about due to random natural causes. Once they accept that as truth (which they hate more then anything to confront because it shakes them to their core) then their whole artifical demand that only metaphysical naturalism is allowed as “science” (i.e absolute truth) will be done away with.

  23. John Singleton,

    ID does have its non religious types. David Berlinski is an impressive figure. Read about his background and then read or listen to what he has to say. He says he has no particular religious beliefs.

    A link to his page on the Discovery website is

    http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....ellow=true

    Yes, the Discovery Institute is largely Christian but the members range the gamut of Christian belief. It is interesting that many people today suspect an organization that has a variety of Christians on it but will not think twice when atheist rule an organization which they do with many science organizations. How the world has changed.

    Athiest have more at stake with proving Darwinism correct then do Christians with proving it wrong but that is never discussed.

  24. I think the reason theistic evolutionists get attacked from both sides is that their position is ultimately incoherent and incompatible with either materialistic naturalism or the existence of God.

    I don’t know what to think about common descent versus common design. I’m kind of an advaitist (God is the “One without a second” i.e., all things arise out of and are a manifestation of God who is never separated from anything in the universe). But I don’t think of God as a local and personal character and basically I am stumped as to how we all got here.

    Maybe one reason many scientists are so against admitting a designer into the universe, is that there is a particular designer they have taken a dislike to. So maybe it would be useful for them to expand their notions of what the word ‘God’ might mean.

  25. It could be that most intelligent design advocates also reject common descent. But nothing in the theory of intelligent design commits them to that rejection. All that an IDA need reject is the claim that common descent (“descent with modification”) is “blind” or unguided. Or am I getting the theory wrong?

    (24) I think the reason theistic evolutionists get attacked from both sides is that their position is ultimately incoherent and incompatible with either materialistic naturalism or the existence of God.

    Theistic evolution is incompatible with the existence of God?? Huh? How does that work?

  26. 26

    Re: Post 22 by Montek. Firstly, yes, it may not be true that all IDers support common descent. I know that at least some on this blog have indicated they accepted it. I’m not sure I agree with your stance on ‘no compromise’. Remember that given that evolution is so widely accepted and established in the scientific community, then the burden of proof really does fall on the ID community. After all, you are not only trying to change scientists views on what many of them consider mainstream science, but you are also really trying to redefine the very nature of science itself – which if accepted would have massive ramifications way beyond biology. I think taking an entrenched and uncompromising view will not be very fruitful (unless of course ID’s real aim is just to sway public opinion to reject evolution, but ultimately that will be changing the course of science by fiat rather than through proper scientific exploration). If you want to change how scientists think you first must find a basis on which you can rationally discuss these matters – like it or not they still do dominate the playing board so before you can change the rules you may find you are going to have to go along with a few of them (e.g., through more peer-reviewed papers).

    But it sounds like you are just hoping “Darwinism” will simply collapse under its own weight – yet there isn’t really any evidence that this will happen. And if you do have ‘proofs’ “that the earliest life forms could not have come about due to random natural causes” these need to be very clearly articulated and presented. I think this is possible — we already see that the scientific community is willing to seriously discuss speculative science such as string theory and alternate universes, so there’s no reason why ID couldn’t also be included. Sometimes I think though, ID is like a moviemaker who wants the Oscar but without paying the dues of actually getting the movie funded and film in the can.

  27. John I don’t know how well read you are on evolution or ID so I will try to respond as if you are not well read on these.

    In fact the origins of life have been proven to be impossible by random natural events by numerous people, the information is not some hidden secret, it is well known. Even the building blocks of life (the right types of amino acids, proteins etc) cannot come together by random chance, what to speak highly sophisticated machines (cells). This should be obvious to any scientist who studies the data. So do they admit this even though it is so obvious, well yeah, a few of them. Fred Hoyle for example, but he proposed life must have been brought to earth possbily by aliens. Others propose life coming on meteors. Of course any type of theory like those are still faced with the same problem i.e. how did disorganized matter form extremely complex replicating bio-machines on any planet? Hoyle compared the chance of that happening to that of a 747 jet being built by a tornado going through a junkyard. In fact the chances are even smaller. It would have to be a 747 that self replicated being built by a tornado.

    Anyways it doesn’t seem to matter for most evolutionsts. Even Hoyle makes a copout by ascribing life on earth to ET’s. Most evolutionists don’t give any or much thought to this major blow to their ontology, nor do all the problems of evolutionary theory seem to dent their confidence. Why? They do not believe they can be wrong. They know that evolution is true and the only thing they care about is telling us how nature points out how evolution sent this species in one direction and that species in another. They don’t question the actual possibility and probability of evolution being able to occur according to the basic rules of the scientific method. They pretend to do that in order to take in gullible uneducated peoeple, but if you watch them closely and you are educated in the same areas as they are you will see them simply provide a bunch of irrelevant or outdated “facts”.

    Now this is not news to ID people, the whole “emperors new clothes” scenario of the “mainsteram scientific” establishment is written about all the time in all the ID books and websites. Does any of it seem to matter to ardent evolutionists? Seemingly not. I presume it is because they cannot see what is obvious to so many because they cannot accept the possibility of ID. They claim ID is unscientific, but in reality their real objection is they cannot accept even the possiblity of ID regardless of the science. We know this because the science is so overwhelmingly on the side of ID but still they cannot comprehend simple provable facts, This is probably because they a complex which blocks their ability to comprehend truths which are so totaly transformative to their ontology.

    I don’t “hope” that darwinism will simply go away. The proofs against darwinism have been done over and over by very qualified people, the problem is the “scientific establishment”. They are not using the same thought process as an average person, so an average person can comprehend what ID authors have been saying while the “establishment” have been getting more and more upset. They have hysterical blindness. How do you deal with people like that? I wouldn’t waste my time on them so much, they cannot see. Sure stuff should get into peer reviewed journals, but it’s not like the information isn’t already easily available from numerous scientists which cutterly demolish the “modern” scientific ideal of science as metaphysical naturalism and evolution as the be all and all of life on earth.

    So ID has already proven itself. You can lead a horse to water…

  28. “So far as I can tell, theistic evolution is committed only to the claim that God somehow guided or directed evolutionary change. And intelligent design would hardly disagree with that! But intelligent design makes a stronger claim: that the indications of God’s guidance and direction can be established on the basis of scientific evidence. Theistic evolution, on the other hand, is committed to the much weaker claim that science is not incompatible with creation.”

    That’s one of the best summaries of the difference between ID and TE I’ve read.

    “In fact the origins of life have been proven to be impossible by random natural events by numerous people, the information is not some hidden secret, it is well known.”

    Most scientists would disagree with you. All the mathematical arguments I’ve read on the topic are suspect at best. My own feeling is that we’ll probably never know one way or the other.

    “Athiest have more at stake with proving Darwinism correct then do Christians with proving it wrong but that is never discussed.”

    This may be true but most scientists really don’t care.

    “They aren’t concerned about proving evolution, they are concerned with allowing “supernatural” concepts (god) legitimization. Without their changing of that view there is no room for compromise, they will not allow compromise on that subject.”

    Currently we have no idea how the supernatural could be used in science. Someone may come up with a way but until then of course you are going to get resistance to the idea.

    “Maybe one reason many scientists are so against admitting a designer into the universe, is that there is a particular designer they have taken a dislike to.”

    Or it is because they can’t see how the concept of a designer can be used in scince.

    “What I object to is the false messages that are disseminated by its proponents. I guess they have to or they would lose their funding but it gives a dishonest appraisal of the problem.”

    This is a general problem with science I find, although physics is much more guilty of it than biology. The popular press doesn’t help either.

  29. Chris

    Or it is because they can’t see how the concept of a designer can be used in scince.

    I’m not aware of how a flat universe can be “used” in science but that doesn’t seem to stop scientists from trying to determine if it is or isn’t flat.

    Since when does the truth have to be useful to justify seeking it? Knowing if there is design in the universe that isn’t ours seems like a pretty important question to me. More important than anything at all in cosmology or astronomy. It bears on who we are, where we came from, and where we’re going.

    The truth of the matter is that many scientists just don’t like the idea of design in the universe because it opposes their core claim that everything material can be explained by unintelligent causes. If that’s not true science is obliged to correct itself not use the federal courts to maintain exclusivity for chance worship in public education.

  30. Chris you wrote:

    “Most scientists would disagree with you. All the mathematical arguments I’ve read on the topic are suspect at best. My own feeling is that we’ll probably never know one way or the other.”

    I mentioned that most scientists would disagree. Most scientists are totaly at odds with everything ID stands for. That doesn’t mean facts are no longer facts. Facts are not consensus based, opinions may be consensus based, but facts don’t care about opinions. From what I have studied the case for biogenesis is closed. It shouldn’t even be up for debate anymore. With what we know about the complexity of even the most simple form of life, to simply live in denial that dirt and water cannot magically form into unbelievably complex replicating cells is indicative of a denial based reality amongst the evolutionist community. Of course evolutionists will argue with that because it completely shatters their entire basal paradigm, denial is a way of life with them, they don’t even notice it. So because they are unable to refute the facts they simply pretend they don’t exist or are not important or that there is some “suspect arguments at best” which leads to us “never knowing”. It’s always one excuse or another.

  31. I would say that the real problem among abiogenesis researchers isn’t that they don’t have any good ideas, but that they have too many good ideas, and no way to determine which one — if any of them — shed light on how life actually arose.

  32. I made a typo and wrote biogenesis instead of abiogenesis. Chris from reading your past posts at pandas thumb and other forums you clearly see ID and ID advocates as:

    “This may be true, but that does not change the fact that it is a religious movement, all of the main proponents are christians and are religiously motivated in their attacks on evolution”

    “Irreducible complexity is simply an argument from ignorance”

    “quote – Alas, ID simply doesn’t have anything to do with science, and everything to do with politics.

    Chris – Agreed, the only avantage of focusing strictly on the science would be to show that stripped to the bare bones any scientific claim of ID is based simply on unreasonable demands of evidence or mischaracterisations of evolution. But this has been done a hundred times before.”

    In fact you are a well known evanglelical evolutionist who finds plenty of time to focus on spreading the word on numeorus forums and blogs that ID is a nonsensical creationist plot without any scientific credibility and indeed without any scientific goal i.e ID just a trojan horse for political and religious exploitative purposes.

    Why I should spend any time at all relating to you is a wonder in and of itself.

  33. No Carlos, they don’t have any good ideas. They have a few ideas covering specific bits of the process all of which have fatal problems in the chemistry. No one has a working idea of how all the essential nucleic and amino acids were formed and concentrated in solution. No one has a working idea of how long polymer chains of said acids could hang together long enough to do anything interesting. There is one decent idea that RNA can serve as both information storage molecule and enzyme in protein synthesis but there is no good idea on how to get to a self-replicating protein-producing information-storage molecule could have been constructed due to chemistry constraints – RNA is an unstable molecule which is why DNA is the molecule used for information storage. It’s a complete mystery with no hint of a solution even after many decades of research.

  34. Actually Carlos, abiogenesis is something that IS testable. Environments on the early earth/solar system can be determined within reasonable ranges, these environments can be reproduced in the proverbial test tube, and the chemistry that emerges evaluated to see if it produces ever more complex organic molecules. This is what the Miller-Urey experiment did. Unfortunately it didn’t demonstrate much. It produced an incomplete set of building blocks in concentrations too low to do anything more. The assumptions behind the setup of the chemical environment have since been called into serious question as well. No one has come up with a plausible (read demonstrable) chemistry where abiogenesis could happen. But that’s only a problem for real science. For ideological dogma, which is what abiogenesis is, they simply say “Well, we simply haven’t figured out how it happened. Just give us more time and we will.” This isn’t just a moving goalpost, it’s an imagined goalpost made of smoke and mirrors.

  35. Can you defend any biology class or book that references Richard Dawkins in a positive way?

    I doubt Dawkins gets much of a mention in any US biology class. I certainly defend Richard Dawkins’ honesty and sincerity. You may not agree with him but you cannot honestly accuse him of being dishonest or that he does not sincerely believe what he writes.

  36. Chris Hyland,

    You must live in a vaccum. I suggest you read the thread about the University of Virginia or google Richard Sternberg if you think scientists don’t give a damn. We could provide you with many others.

    If they in fact don’t give a damm and sit by while the attacks take place then I suggest you google Kitty Genovese.

  37. DaveScot: “No one has a working idea of how all the essential nucleic and amino acids were formed and concentrated in solution.

    True. There is no complete theory of abiogenesis. There is strong evidence of the common descent of eukaryotes, some evidence indicating the historical evolution of cellular life, but abiogenesis is still largely a mystery.

    DaveScot: “It’s a complete mystery with no hint of a solution even after many decades of research.

    But that is not to say nothing is known. The discovery of self-replicating molecules and the spontaneous formation of vesicles is confirmation of the basic concepts, though in and of itself, not sufficient to form a general theory.

  38. It would have to be a 747 that self replicated being built by a tornado.

    Even worse. It would have to be a 747 that self-replicated, self-repaired, and used nothing but sunflower seeds for fuel and raw materials. :lol:

  39. Allan Fox,

    If we find ways that Richard Dawkins has “cooked the books” to support his arguments will you still agree that he is honest? By the way the reference to Dawkins was in Campbell’s textbook. I don’t know if it was in the current edition but it was in a past edition. Dawkins is an avowed atheist who uses Darwin’s ideas to proselytize his world view. What would you respond to a textbook that used references to creationist literature to support its arguments? According to your statement you should gladly accept it if the science was ok.

    Just after you posed the question about honesty and I replied, I witnessed an egregious example of dishonesty by a respected teacher and researcher, Dr. Robert Weinberg at MIT. They have published on video of a couple of their biology courses and he was giving a lecture on biochemistry which was very good when he diverted into talking about the RNA world like it was established fact and this is how the original cell came about. The tone was that this was how it was when the truth is that this hypothesis is no more than wishful speculation.

  40. Actually the RNA world is more than wishful speculation. It’s a complete work of fiction with fatal flaws in the scientific underpinning. It’s on a par with the Starship Enterprise’s warp engines and dilithium crystals that enable faster than light travel. RNA is an unstable molecule. No one has come up with a way where all the requisite nucleic acids could be formed, concentrated, and somehow stabilized so that polymer chains long enough to do interesting things could form and remain together. In other words the proposed chemistry is just plain impossible outside the rigidly controlled environment of a living cell.

  41. If we find ways that Richard Dawkins has “cooked the books” to support his arguments will you still agree that he is honest?

    If you can show that Dawkins has written material that he knows to be untrue, then of course I would accept that as dishonesty. Generally, people who make untrue statements may be ignorant or misinformed, but not necessarily dishonest. Dishonesty involves ingnoring facts and repeating falsehoods.

    Re RNA being unstable. I can certainly voutch for that. I recall doing a lab experiment as an undergrad (many years ago)intended to compare samples of rat and rabbit RNA extracted from the liver by column chromatography (as an indicator of relatedness). No RNA turned up in the test samples. I was consoled by my tutor remarking “Don’t worry, RNA is very unstable.”

    I too find OOL theories generally unsatisfactory. Robert Shapiro has some thoughts on the subject:

    I am not expert in evolutionary theory, but have no reason to
    quarrel with the conclusions of my scientific colleagues who are better
    informed. I feel however that the origin of life is a topic that is more
    fundamental to the debate over intelligent design. The difference between a
    mixture of simple chemicals and a bacterium is much more profound than the
    gulf between a bacterium and an elephant. My criticisms of the dominant
    scientific dogma on the origin of life (by which I mean RNA World and
    closely related theories) are shared by Nobel Laureate Christian de Duve
    and a number of other prominent scientists who nonetheless are a minority
    in the field. For a brief, technical summary of my criticisms, see my
    paper: A Replicator Was Not Involved in the Origin of Life: IUBMB Life 49,
    173-176 (2000). A much more thorough discussion, which also describes a
    path that I believe will lead to a good scientific solution, will appear in
    next June’s issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology. For those of you who
    are impatient, and wish a fairly similar point of view, I would suggest
    that you consult the books and papers of Professor Harold Morowitz.

  42. Thank you Dave. You have made my example even more outrageous. But I am sure that this cocky assertiveness is standard throughout biology land. The lecture was very good and did not need him to go off on this topic. I am sure Weinberg never thought twice about what he was doing.

  43. I’ve never heard of RNA testing for relatedness. Was there some reason you didn’t use amplified DNA?

  44. I’ve never heard of RNA testing for relatedness. Was there some reason you didn’t use amplified DNA?

    It was thirty years ago. Now I recall, we were working with DNA too. DNA was fixed in the chromatography column and samples of DNA and RNA extract with a radioactive marker were sent through the column. The amount of radioactivity (unfortunately zero in my sample) was an indicator of the amount of RNA retained in the column and this was taken as an indicator of the similarity of the sample to the DNA in the column. Compared to current expertise with DNA sequencing, etc. these were very crude experiments, and were only intended as teaching exercises.

  45. “Since when does the truth have to be useful to justify seeking it? Knowing if there is design in the universe that isn’t ours seems like a pretty important question to me. More important than anything at all in cosmology or astronomy. It bears on who we are, where we came from, and where we’re going.”

    And the best way to scientifically show that something true that happened in the distant past is to use the hypothesis to make predicitons and advance scientific progress.

    “From what I have studied the case for biogenesis is closed.”

    If you are saying that is is a proven fact that abiogenesis is impossible then I would say that is just your opinion. I have not seen anything that comes close to proving that.

    “In fact you are a well known evanglelical evolutionist who finds plenty of time to focus on spreading the word on numeorus forums and blogs that ID is a nonsensical creationist plot without any scientific credibility and indeed without any scientific goal i.e ID just a trojan horse for political and religious exploitative purposes.”

    Im don’t it was concieved as a trojan horse for political and religious exploitative purposes, although I do think that a great deal of people who support it use it that way. I have said on this blog and others that I think many ID supporters who are scientifically literate belive it is scientifically valid, otherwise why would i bother posting here? I don’t think it currently has scientific credibility, but as I have said in this blog I certainly don’t discount that it could have at some point.

    “You must live in a vaccum. I suggest you read the thread about the University of Virginia or google Richard Sternberg if you think scientists don’t give a damn.”

    I know a lot of scientists give a damn about ID, what I said was most of them don’t give a damn about religion one way or the other.

  46. “And the best way to scientifically show that something true that happened in the distant past is to use the hypothesis to make predicitons and advance scientific progress.”

    No Chris, that’s the scientific method and it doesn’t apply to forensic science. In evolution we are dealing with a one-time event that is unpredictable, unrepeatable, unwitnessed, and undemonstrated. If evolution is still happening today it is happening too slowly to observe. So what we do in a forensic science is gather whatever evidence we can and then form a hypothesis that fits it. The plain fact of the matter is that a front-loaded evolution that followed a predetermined plan fits the observations better than chance evolution. And unlike abiogenesis which we haven’t been able to demonstrate is possible, we already know that intelligent agents 1) exist in the universe and 2) can tinker with DNA to achieve desired ends. So we know design by intelligent agency is possible in the universe. We just don’t when or who or what did the designing. But that’s still more than we know about abiogenesis. From that point on a front-loaded evolution explains all observations as well as or better than anything else. There are no “mount improbables” to climb in the front loaded case. Omne vivum ex ovo (every living thing comes from another living thing) which is the most well observed and unexcepted law in all of biology need not be broken to explain how the diversification of life on earth got started. The pattern of one cell unfolding in a prespecified manner into a complex network of dedicated, differentiated components in ontogenesis is elegantly repeated in phylogenesis. Phylogenesis can continue the pattern of life by transporting seeds younger worlds where it can start all over again. Now THAT is elegant. And it’s a prediction that is coming true even as we speak. The next generation telescopes will be able to resolve and spectrographically analyze earth size planets in distant solar systems and our first intersteller spacecraft (Voyager 1) just recently exited the solar system. Did Darwin predict that?

  47. DaveScot: “that’s the scientific method and it doesn’t apply to forensic science.

    Um, that sentence appears self-contradictory. The methodology of forensic sciences is, well, the scientific method. The fundamental principle of forensics is that “every contact leaves a trace”, and that we can use scientific methodology to investigate these traces.

    DaveScot: “In evolution we are dealing with a one-time event that is unpredictable, unrepeatable, unwitnessed, and undemonstrated.

    A one-time ‘event’ that spanned hundreds-of-millions of years.

    DaveScot: “If evolution is still happening today it is happening too slowly to observe.

    Evolution can be directly observed, from simple mutations to morphological adaptations, while common descent can be inferred from the nested hierarchy and the fossil succession.

  48. A primer on the stability of RNA:

    Now let’s be fair to poor ol’ RNA. The reason why RNA is “unstable” is primarily and above all the fact that all cells contain RNAse, an enzyme that specifically degrades only RNA but not DNA or protein. It is one of the most rugged enzymes known; boiling won’t destroy it all. A fingerprint contains RNAse. The saying is that if a fly lands in the right place in your container with RNA, that could well deposit enough RNAse to mess up your experiment.

    Where you don’t find RNAse is in the “primordial soup” since it doesn’t contain enzymes yet. So RNA is stable for the purpose of this discussion, regardless of whether RNA participated in the original formation of “life.”

    Having said that, it is possible that RNA is chemically not quite as stable as DNA in the complete absence of enzymatic activity. But that is more of an academic issue than one relating to abiogenesis.

  49. In evolution we are dealing with a one-time event that is unpredictable, unrepeatable, unwitnessed, and undemonstrated. If evolution is still happening today it is happening too slowly to observe.

    Cane-toad-eating snakes?

    The plain fact of the matter is that a front-loaded evolution that followed a predetermined plan fits the observations better than chance evolution.

    Tube-worms at deep-sea vents?

    we already know that intelligent agents 1) exist in the universe and 2) can tinker with DNA to achieve desired ends.

    Are they called humans? Or do you have evidence of extra-terrestrials?

    Omne vivum ex ovo (every living thing comes from another living thing) which is the most well observed and unexcepted law in all of biology need not be broken to explain how the diversification of life on earth got started.

    Descent with modification from a common ancestor is indeed the best explanation of how the diversity of life on earth arose.

    The pattern of one cell unfolding in a prespecified manner into a complex network of dedicated, differentiated components in ontogenesis is elegantly repeated in phylogenesis.

    Evo-devo is one of the most interesting and rapidly developing of the biological sciences. We have come a long way from Haeckel’s drawings.

    The next generation telescopes will be able to resolve and spectrographically analyze earth size planets in distant solar systems and our first intersteller spacecraft (Voyager 1) just recently exited the solar system. Did Darwin predict that?

    I am pretty sure Darwin did not predict space travel, but why would it matter?

  50. The reason why RNA is “unstable” is primarily and above all the fact that all cells contain RNAse, an enzyme that specifically degrades only RNA but not DNA or protein.

    Thanks for the memory jog (It was thirty-six years ago, not thirty). Liver cells have RNAase in spades, and my tutor mentioned that was why it was difficult to obtain RNA from liver cells.

  51. 51

    The error the Darwinians continue to perpetuate is the assumption that evolution had an external cause. Such a cause has never been found because it does not and never did exist. Does such an external cause operate in ontogeny? No matter how you stimulate an egg, it can do only one thing which is to begin development. No matter how you stimulate a muscle cell it can only contract, a nerve cell conduct, a gland cell secrete, etc, etc. The environment can only stimulate and release an internal potential, whether it be in ontogeny, phylogeny or physiology. It explains why when you are hit on the head you see stars and hear thunder afterwards. In physiology it is called The Law of Specific Nerve Energies. It has all been “prescribed” don’t you know.

    Furthermore, the only role for allelic mutation, sexual reproduction and natural selection WAS and STILL IS to prevent evolution, bring it to a halt, and promote extinction, indispensable features for evolution to have ever occurred. How wrong can the Darwinian pipe dream possibly be? Have some more crack cocaine and pass the pipe I say!

    “Darwinians of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your natural selection.”
    after Karl Marx

    “Marx, Darwin and Freud are the three most crashing bores in the Western World.”
    William Golding

    There is not a shred of evidence that any contemporary organism will ever be able to become very different from what it is right now. The vast majority and perhaps all are doomed, as were their predecessors, to ultimate extinction.

    “Extinction is to the species what the death of the individual is to each member of that species.”
    John A. Davison

    It is all over. Get used to it. I have and published as much thirteen years ago. “Evolution as a self-limiting process.” Rivista di Biologia 91: 199-220, 1993, and again more recently. “Is evolution finished?” Rivista di Biologia 97: 111-116, 2004.

    Of course you must understand that I, like my invaluable sources, simply do not now and never have existed. The “establishment” ruled as it still is by “prescribed” atheists cannot afford to let that happen. Nevertheless -

    “Meine Zeit wird schon kommen!”
    Gregor Mendel

    A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  52. Ofro

    I don’t know where you got the information on DNA vs. RNA stability but it’s wrong.

    http://www.mun.ca/biochem/cour.....rties.html

  53. Alan

    I’m afraid you’ll have to do better than this:

    “Cane-toad-eating snakes?”
    “Tube-worms at deep-sea vents?”

    I have no bloody idea what point you meant to make from these cryptic incomplete sentences.

    “Are they called humans? Or do you have evidence of extra-terrestrials?”

    They are called humans and they are proof positive that intelligent agents who can tinker with DNA for their own purposes exist in the universe. Is there some part of that you don’t understand? The second part of the point was that there is no evidence at all that abiogenesis is even possible.

  54. 54

    DaveScot

    I am not at all certain as you are that “intelligent agents who can tinker with DNA for their own purposes exist in the universe.” There is neither any evidence for them nor need for them in the postulates of the PEH. All that is required is a long past existence of one or more intelligences far beyond our power to comprehend.

    Pierre Grasse felt as I do.

    “Let us not invoke God in realities in which He NO LONGER HAS TO INTERVENE. The single absolute act of creation was enough for Him.
    Evolution of Living Organisms, page 166. his emphasis.

    I would only add that I see no necessity for a single act of creation and much evidence against it. Monophyleticism is basically a Darwinian, chance dependent idea anyway which means I don’t give it much credence. The evidence for that will be presented in a subsequent installment of the Manifesto if that ever occurs. There are sound reasons to favor several independent origins of life. Whether or not that is the case is still not resolved but there is sure no evidence for any recent “tinkering.”

    Life in all its manifestations is miraculous and a dozen miracles are neither more nor less miraculous than one.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  55. 55

    Abiogenesis most certainly WAS possible and it DID occur or we wouldn’t be here would we? The only issue is how many times and where did it occur, and how many Creators were involved. I am betting on at least two Creators, one malevolent, the other benevolent. It makes the world much easier for me to understand.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  56. No, abiogenesis has not been demonstrated as possible. We have never observed anything but biogenesis. Maybe life has been a part of the universe since its beginning. Maybe life preceded the universe we observe today. Whatever the case, we have never, ever observed anything other than life coming from life (biogenesis). Abiogenesis is pure axiomatic presumption without a shred of supporting evidence.

  57. I am not at all certain as you are that “intelligent agents who can tinker with DNA for their own purposes exist in the universe.

    Does intelligent agents who can tinker with DNA for their own purposes not describe the people employed in the field of genetic engineering?

    Don’t make me throw a genetically engineered rotten tomato at you. I’d have to wait a long time for it to rot as its DNA was modified to give it a longer shelf life. So which part of genetic engineering are you uncertain about – all of it or some specific aspect?

  58. The error the Darwinians continue to perpetuate is the assumption that evolution had an external cause. Such a cause has never been found because it does not and never did exist. Does such an external cause operate in ontogeny? No matter how you stimulate an egg, it can do only one thing which is to begin development. No matter how you stimulate a muscle cell it can only contract, a nerve cell conduct, a gland cell secrete, etc, etc. The environment can only stimulate and release an internal potential, whether it be in ontogeny, phylogeny or physiology. It explains why when you are hit on the head you see stars and hear thunder afterwards. In physiology it is called The Law of Specific Nerve Energies. It has all been “prescribed” don’t you know.

    Furthermore, the only role for allelic mutation, sexual reproduction and natural selection WAS and STILL IS to prevent evolution, bring it to a halt, and promote extinction, indispensable features for evolution to have ever occurred. How wrong can the Darwinian pipe dream possibly be? Have some more crack cocaine and pass the pipe I say!

    “Darwinians of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your natural selection.”
    after Karl Marx

    “Marx, Darwin and Freud are the three most crashing bores in the Western World.”
    William Golding

    There is not a shred of evidence that any contemporary organism will ever be able to become very different from what it is right now. The vast majority and perhaps all are doomed, as were their predecessors, to ultimate extinction.

    “Extinction is to the species what the death of the individual is to each member of that species.”
    John A. Davison

    It is all over. Get used to it. I have and published as much thirteen years ago. “Evolution as a self-limiting process.” Rivista di Biologia 91: 199-220, 1993, and again more recently. “Is evolution finished?” Rivista di Biologia 97: 111-116, 2004.

    Of course you must understand that I, like my invaluable sources, simply do not now and never have existed. The “establishment” ruled as it still is by “prescribed” atheists cannot afford to let that happen. Nevertheless -

    “Meine Zeit wird schon kommen!”
    Gregor Mendel

    A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

    Comment by John A. Davison — August 29, 2006 @ 4:23 pm

    John, lest you again accuse me of having no motive but to discredit you I want to make it clear that I agree with every bit of the above comment you made. It is profoundly insightful. But just because I agree with that doesn’t mean I’m going to agree with everything you say. I would also like to add my belief that humans are still capable of evolving through the use of intellect and technology such as recombinant DNA. I agree that prescribed organic evolution has terminated and that we are the final product of it. Where organic evolution ends technological evolution begins. That has been prescribed too.

  59. Theistic evolution is incompatible with the existence of God?? Huh? Ho”w does that work?”

    Theistic evolution as it has been explained to me by its advocates, is the belief that there is a God, generally even an omnipotent and omniscient one, but that science can never discover any evidence that points to said existence of God or her Mind underpinning this universe. So that means our universe looks identical to an unplanned and accidental one. But if there is a God, then there is not and could not be an accidental universe, there being nothing but this one. If there is a God, an accidental universe is a nonpossibility in every way, including to the imagination. Therefore we cannot possibly say that the universe appears undesigned. That would require that there be some other sort of universe with which to compare.

  60. Alan

    I’m afraid you’ll have to do better than this:

    “Cane-toad-eating snakes?”
    “Tube-worms at deep-sea vents?”

    I have no bloody idea what point you meant to make from these cryptic incomplete sentences.

    I was repeating points from this comment in another thread which I assumed you had read as you responded to it. That thread is closed at the moment.

    Several species of Australian snake have adapted smaller head size, as they are thus prevented from attempting to predate the recently introduced poisonous cane toad. This example of selection has taken place over only a few decades. Evolution is merely accumulation over time of such changes.

    The giant tube worm, Riftia pachyptila, is supremely adapted, along with its symbiotic bacteria, to its environment at deep sea vents, and could exist nowhere else on earth. How can front-loading explain how this worm was designed and arrived at its only possible niche on the planet?

  61. Alan

    I hadn’t yet read your comment in the other thread. When I did I addressed it there – at least on the snake. The accumulation of changes in scale and cosmetics does not add up to evolution of novel biological features. The Chihuahua and the St. Bernard are seperated by great gulfs in scale and cosmetics yet there isn’t a novel difference between them and they remain the same species. The Chuhuahua and the Mexican Hairless Cat are remarkably alike in scale and cosmetics. The difference between them is a retractible claw on the cat which is not a difference in scale or cosmetics. They are not the same species. Similarly, a snake with a larger or smaller head does not a new species make. All species appear to exhibit the ability to quickly (on evolutionary timescales) vary scale and cosmetics to best suit the environment.

    On the tube worm. I don’t see any reason why deep-sea vents would be an unforseeable environment unique to the earth. Presumably a front-loaded design would include in its toolbox all requisite components for living in a wide variety of environments likely to be encountered. A Humvee comes with a snorkel on it regardless of whether its owner plans on driving it through water deep enough to submerge the engine or not. It was designed to handle that situation. The tube worm could simply be exploiting design features not needed unless that particular environment is encountered.

  62. DaveScot: “All species appear to exhibit the ability to quickly (on evolutionary timescales) vary scale and cosmetics to best suit the environment.

    Almost everyone would agree that the broad morphological changes in dogs and cats represent significant evolutionary change. Specific mutations can be determined for many recent changes. There is a gradation of sterility between species; there is no species barrier. And there is strong evidence of common descent in the succession of fossils, in the nested hierarchy of physical forms, and in the recently discovered nested hierarchy of genomes.

  63. 63

    My conviction that evolution is finished applies only to the organic component. Technical evolution is an entirely different matter. I feel we are reaching the limits of that as well as we are now at the molecular level. Just as all other ages terminated, I believe the Age of Technology will as well. Of course I may be wrong. The important thing is to stop destroying the earth if we expect to have the necessary time to be able to make much further progress. I repeat Robert Leakey’s final words in The Sixth Extinction.

    “For the sixth extinction, however, we do know the culprit. We are.”

    I hope that will be allowed to stand without further comment. It is after all only the judgement of a distinguished paleontologist with whom this investigator happens to agree.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  64. 64

    Of course abiogenesis is impossible NOW. That it must have occurred an unknown number of times is undeniable. The origin and subsequent evolution of life is a miracle and miracles have a nasty way of taking place against all odds any number of times. That is why chance had absolutely nothing to do with either ontogeny or phylogeny. That is why it is inconceivable that any thinking person could ever either be a Darwinian or one to deny one or more supernatural Creators. In that sense every rational human must be a creationist of some sort.

    “When little is known with certainty, every man is an expert.”
    John A. Davison

    “Men are most apt to believe what they least understand.”
    Montaigne

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  65. Oh yeah, I forgot that science calls upon miracles to explain things.

    Abiogenesis is impossible NOW but the reason is because miracles no longer happen.

    That some strong science you got there, John. I’m envious.

  66. (59) Theistic evolution as it has been explained to me by its advocates, is the belief that there is a God, generally even an omnipotent and omniscient one, but that science can never discover any evidence that points to said existence of God or her Mind underpinning this universe.

    Interesting. I wonder if theistic evolution might be cashed out as follows:

    (a) scientific procedures — observation, experiment, and inference — indicate to us a world produced through contingency and randomness; nevertheless

    (b) we are rationally entitled to believe that the world is more than what is empirically revealed to us, because

    (c) science does not have exclusive access to truth.

    As I said before, atheist evolutionists (e.g. Dennett, Dawkins) deny (c); they insist that only science can provide us with access to truth (i.e. with knowledge).

    (Notice that (a)-(c) are compatible with more than just theistic evolution. I agree with (a) through (c), but I wouldn’t consider myself a theistic evolutionist. I don’t want to reconcile science and faith; I want to preserve and uphold the antinomy of science and faith.)

    It seems to me that intelligent design theorists also deny (c). They want to demonstrate, through stricly scientific means, that there was an intelligent designer of some kind. But that’s where the science presumably stops, and it’s then up the individual to decide if she or she thinks that the intelligent designer was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or Vishnu, or an advanced alien race.

    Here’s the catch, then: intelligent design is not going to provide us with an alternative to fideism, precisely because intelligent design theory cannot identify the designer. That’s where faith has to step up to the plate. So the fideist move is only pushed further out, not refuted.

    Or, put another way, intelligent design is caught in a catch-22: it can either assert that the designer is God or a god — in which case ID cannot be taught in public school science classrooms without violating Edwards v. Aguillard — or it can preserve its scientific credibility, assert that the identity of the designer cannot be known by scientific means, in which case fideism is not refuted, but only postponed.

  67. Why can’t the designer be known by scientific means? It’s beyond the scope of intelligent design to identify a designer – ID is design detection not designer characterization. It doesn’t follow that science can never discover a designer. To put it analogously, it’s beyond the scope of biology to identify the source of matter in the universe. It doesn’t follow that science can never discover the source of matter in the universe. ID critics seem to think that unless ID can identify the designer it’s not science. That’s incorrect. It’s simply outside the scope of ID. Of course ID critics will never accept that because it blows the false dichotomy strategy that you outlined. Straw men with “ID” tatooed on their foreheads are legion.

  68. DaveScot,

    You raise an excellent point — I’d gone against my own sage advice that one shouldn’t prescribe a priori limits to what can be discovered by some future science. Perhaps some science yet to come can identify the designer.

    But nothing in contemporary ID theory allows us to do so, and that means that the catch-22 I presented above remains a problem for contemporary ID theory — either it gives us what we want theologically, in which case it goes beyond what can be established scientifically — or it remains within the limits of science alone, in which case it doesn’t deliver on theology.

    Another way of getting at the same problem is by pointing out that intelligent design theory doesn’t give us what Paley’s argument from design gave us — an a posteriori justification for identifying the designer as the Biblical God.

  69. Regarding abiogenesis:

    The “RNA world” hypothesis has been severely criticized, but it’s not yet evident (to me, at least) that there is no good response to these criticisms.

    For example, I’ve recently read “The two ages of the RNA world and the transition to the DNA world: a story of viruses and cells” (Forterre, Patrick. Biochemie 87 (2005), 793-803). The story unfolded there is, so far as I can tell, plausible and coherent. But is it testable? Not so far as can tell. Did live actually arise that way? I don’t know, and I’d be suspicious of anyone who thought they did know.

    If you don’t care for the RNA world scenarios, then maybe you’d like to visit the debate between the replication-first and the metabolism-first schools. And I’d like to mention my favorite proposal, if for nothing else than sheer wackiness — A. G. Cairns-Smith’s proposal that the first organisms may have been clay crystals. Could the first organisms have been clay crystals? Sure, why not? Were they? Who knows — and who could know?

    None of these scenarios are immune to criticism, and all of them have something strangely compelling about them. But as things stand now, they are about as testable as string theory. And string theory isn’t physics; it’s metaphysics.

    (And I never metaphysics I didn’t like.)

  70. 70

    Now that Darwinism is finally defunct, we might start teaching a prescribed evolution, since obviously there is no other viable alternative.

    Davison, J.A. A prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis. Rivista di Biologia 98: 155-166, 2005.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  71. 71

    Since DaveScot denies supernatural intervention at any level, I take it he is a Darwinist? How does he otherwise account for the origin or origins of life and its subsequent evolution? Those are questions that I feel DaveScot should be willing to answer. But will he? Somehow I doubt it. We will soon see unless of course this message never appears.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  72. 72

    Richard Dawkins is either congenitally deranged or was molested as an altar boy by an Anglican priest. I can conceive of no other explanations for his writings, each book more bizarre than its predecessor. God only knows what he will come up with next. I shudder to think.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    “Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics and it stems from the same source…They are creatures that can’t hear the music of the spheres.”
    Alice Calaprice, The New Quotable Einstein, page 204

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  73. Flippantly talking about priests molesting altar boys is over the top, John.

    Yer outta here. Again.

  74. Carlos: “But as things stand now, they are about as testable as string theory. And string theory isn’t physics; it’s metaphysics.

    The association with metaphysics is only weakly made. These tentative assertions are more properly called theoretical speculation. The intent of both string theory and theories of abiogenesis is to eventually find a valid explanation and empirically predictive theory.

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