Home » Intelligent Design » Do You “Believe” In “Evolution”?

Do You “Believe” In “Evolution”?

Yet again, we have this utterly meaningless question asked of an electoral candidate during a debate, in an attempt to discredit her. My response, had I been asked this question, would have been as follows:

Does evolution mean that living things have changed over time? Does evolution mean universal common ancestry? Does evolution mean that random errors filtered by natural selection explain all of biology, including the origin of the functionally specified information encoded in the base-four digital code of the DNA molecule, along with the information-processing machinery that translates it, performs error detection and repair, and much more?

If your definition of “evolution” is the latter, can you supply us with adequate evidence that the probabilistic resources have existed to make this hypothesis a reasonable inference?

Had the debate host, who asked the question in the title of my post, been presented with such a challenge, I can guarantee what his answer would have been:

Huh?

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17 Responses to Do You “Believe” In “Evolution”?

  1. Yeah, but you’re probably over-qualified to run for the Senate. Besides, O’Donnell was asked about it because back in the day she asked (on national television) why monkeys weren’t evolving into humans if evolution is true. I’d say that makes it a reasonably meaningful question.

    And, in response to your questions, I believe the consensus answers are yes, yes, no and N/A.

  2. Oiy. I thought along similar lines. I thought the ‘moderators’ seemed intent on bringing out her cultural views and were almost nakedly partisan. That said, O’Donnell seemed out of her league. She’d do well to turn that on the questioner and say the Senate has no business deciding what science is and isn’t and needs to stop spending us into oblivion. Again. And again. And again.

  3. heh. only fools believe in any naturalistic explanation for life – and that a massive national debt and devaluation of the currency makes a nation better off… :-)

  4. I believe the question was prompted by a comment made by the candidate that evolution is a myth. If by “evolution” she meant that all life supposedly evolved in a step-by-tiny-step process of random mutation and natural selection, then I suggest that it’s perfectly reasonable to describe it as a myth — the creation myth of metaphysical materialism.

  5. Do You “Believe” In “Evolution”?

    Had the debate host, who asked the question in the title of my post…

    Gil, I feel I must point out that you have written an article about the specific phrasing of a specific question, and that you even have the question that you are critiquing as the title of the article, but you got the question wrong! Wolf never asked her if she ‘believed in evolution.’ The question he actually asked was: “Do you believe evolution is a myth?” (which was prompted by previous statements of hers)

    I know this may seem like a little thing, but the lack of care in accurately conveying what was actually said reflects poorly competence of IDers to accurately convey easily verifiable information, let alone information more technical in nature. I mean, you even titled you article after the non-existant question!

  6. I saw the debate…when they asked that question, I wanted to scream. What kind of question is that? I would have simply said, of course evolution is not a myth…duh. Gads. Such an ambiguous question.

    But, yeah, she blew it with her response. Like you said, she could have blown them away with a well thought out response…and, she should cetainly come up with one since she *knows* she will be hit with this question over and over and over again.

  7. The question in the title is the generic form, as exemplified here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4Cc8t3Zd5E

    And note in this instance the insistence upon a yes or no answer, with no definition of what “evolution” means.

  8. Here is a answer to that question, that would not be ‘politically correct’:

    “Charles Darwin said (paraphrase), ‘If anyone could find anything that could not be had through a number of slight, successive, modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.’ Well that condition has been met time and time again. Basically every gene, every protein fold. There is nothing of significance that we can show that can be had in a gradualist way. It’s a mirage. None of it happens that way. – Doug Axe PhD.

    No Examples Of Gradualism In Molecular Biology – Doug Axe PhD.
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5347797

  9. Gil:

    And note in this instance the insistence upon a yes or no answer, with no definition of what “evolution” means.

    Moderator: Do you believe heliocentricity?

    Respondent: Well, that depends on how you ‘define’ heliocentricity. If by heliocentricity, you mean the theory that the earth rotates around the sun, then sure, I don’t deny that. But if you mean the inherently atheistic theory which proclaims that the planets’ orbits have absolutely nothing to do with God and that Psalm 93:1, and therefore the entire bible is a complete fairy tale, and that the motions of all the heavenly bodies can be explained completely in naturalistic terms thus denying the existence of anything supernatural, then no, I don’t ‘believe’ in heliocentricity.

    ———————————

    I think almost every rational person is clear on the definition of evolution in the context of political debate:

    “Do you accept the scientific consensus that all life on earth shares a common ancestor, that life changes over time, and that change is driven primarily by natural forces like natural selection.”

    Asking if one accepts evolution is not equivalent to asking: “Do you believe that God does not exist?”

    A scientific theory like evolution simply has nothing to say about the existence, or providence of God. It merely maintains that miraculous intervention is not necessary to explain how life got to be in its current form. But this is true for all branches of science. If supernatural intervention is invoked, it’s not science, period.

  10. Why do I have to believe in evolution, if it is as well established scientific fact as gravity?

    Or let me turn it around:

    Why does Wolf believe in evolution if it is so dead obvious? We do not use the word “believe”, unless it takes faith to accept something.

    Very revealing, hmmmm…..

  11. H’mm:

    You mean, like, we “have” to redefine science a la Lewontin:

    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.]

    In short, to those ideologised into this error, science is applied atheism, and Darwin is its prophet. (Cf the corrective here, and you will find the weak argument correctives top right relevant as well.)

    I must also note that the inference from empirical sign — functionally specific, complex digitally coded information and associated organised machinery to give it effect — to its reliably tested cause, is NOT an inference to the supernatural.

    Unless, you mean to say that intelligence is automatically supernatural.

    On which the game would be over, for we are intelligent.

    Of course, when we look at the cluster of viable candidates to cause life AND the observed universe that is fine-tuned to facilitate life way back in the unobserved past of origins, then the list of possible intelligences gets a little narrow. But that is not the scientific inference proper — we are well beyond the world of observables. That intelligence best explains FSCI is not the same as that that intelligence “must” be supernatural as such.

    Whatever “supernatural” — and “natural” — carries by way of meaning.

    (We ask on comparative difficulty which worldview makes better sense of what we see. And refuse to censor the conclusion a la Lewontin et al.)

    Back to constitution crises . . .

    GEM of TKI

  12. Alex 73:

    Why does Wolf believe in evolution if it is so dead obvious? We do not use the word “believe”, unless it takes faith to accept something.
    Very revealing, hmmmm…..

    Again, Wolf did not say “Do you ‘believe’ in evolution?” Has no one here actually watched the video, is it too tempting to put easily refutable words in their opponent’s mouths?

    And even if Wolf had asked “Do you believe in evolution,” How would that be any different from asking: “Do you believe universal healthcare is a good idea,” or “Do you believe that condoms prevent the spread of HIV?” or “Do you believe that the earth is round?”

    If he had asked one of those questions, would your response be:

    “Why does Wolf believe in a round earth if it is so dead obvious? We do not use the word believe unless it takes faith to accept something.

    Very revealing, hmmmm…..”

  13. jurassicmac,

    You contribution of quoting Wolf word-by-word is indeed appreciated. However, I do not think that much can be gained by contrasting the question ‘Do you believe in evolution?’ with ‘Do you believe that evolution is a myth?’ as the both would be intended to test O’Donnell’s attitude towards Darwinism. By the way, why is Gil’s version easily refutable and the original isn’t? I don’t get it.

    As Gil has pointed to it this question is frequently used by people as a test. I can personally confirm it, that if you mention ID or creationism in an affirmative way then you are likely to be asked this question. Other versions can be ‘So you do not believe in evolution, huh?’ etc.

    My point was that it is revealing to use the word ‘believe’ and I would add that I think they do it honestly, correctly and in the original meaning of the word.

    You are right, from the question it does not follow that Wolf believes in evolution, but given the context I would bet on it.

    As far as your example questions are concerned, none of these are related to the big issue of whether there is an intelligence behind our existence or not, the main theme of UD. The very essence of Darwinism to assert that there is not, and this thesis has far reaching consequences to personal lives, societies etc. This is why many at UD are also interested in the philosophical ramifications of ID.

    Because of these, although your questions are formally identical, they are infinitely less significant and divisive than the theme of this thread.

  14. jurassicmac:

    This is your form of the question:

    “Do you accept the scientific consensus that all life on earth shares a common ancestor, that life changes over time, and that change is driven primarily by natural forces like natural selection.”

    I would definitely answer “no” to that, and I would appreciate to be able to motivate my answer, and not to be labeled as a fanatic or worse only becasue I say “no”.

    Consensus is one thing, “racist” classification of people according to gross misrepresentation of their ideas is all another thing.

    And please, notice that you have, more or less consciously I suppose, “reduced” the implications of the current scientific “consensus” in your form of the question.

    Indeed, the current “consensus” would probably be:

    “Do you accept the scientific consensus that all life on earth shares a common ancestor, that life changes over time, and that change is driven exclusively by natural forces like natural selection.”

    I understand that the scientific “consensus” is very obstinate in excluding any possible “non natural” force, whatever that may mean. Indeed, it is extremely determined to exclude any design component.

    So, my “no” to all that would resound with strength and conviction in any context. And I would be immediately labeled for that “no” in many of those contexts, without being offered any real chance to motivate it. That’s the problem when scientific “consensus” becomes a form of imposed faith.

  15. GP:

    Actually, I would explain a bit: the problem is that we are dealing with an unacknowledged metaphysical — worldview level — imposition, which has become a reigning orthodoxy.

    Yes, it is an imposed faith. But it is perceived as “scientific” — note the appeal to modesty in the face of high prestige authority — truth or the closest we can get to it.

    Somehow, it hardly ever dawns on those caught up in the system that:

    1: We simply were not there, so, we cannot directly observe the real past. (This is the point of Job 38:1 – 4: one darkens counsel without knowledge when s/he pretends to know what one cannot properly know, as you were not there to see what actually happened.)

    2: An imaginative reconstruction is being portrayed as though it were “fact,” when at best it is an explanation of the facts we observe in the present. (When I see Wiki’s attempt to justify the assertion that “evolution is a fact” [on the level of the natural regularity that makes a guava fall when dropped, which we do directly observe], it is sad.)

    3: Through the ideology of evolutionary materialistic methodological naturalism, otherwise reasonable explanations are a priori ruled out.

    4: This sets up and allows insitutionalisation of the fallacy of the closed, ideologised mind, which of course manifests itself in selective hyperskepticism [Stephen, keep it up!] whenever it is questioned or challenged. And yes, NCSE etc. — I can see that you monitor — this includes you. You are violating the first ethical premise of sound education.

    (But then, ever since Plato’s protest in The Laws Bk X, we have known that evolutionary materialism is utterly amoral. So — and again as Plato noted — it is naturally corrosive of ethics in education. And that, to the detriment of society as it pretends to guide the bright young people who will take over leadership. For shame!)

    5: And, from that imposed indoctrination, ever so many become blind to what is indeed directly observable.

    6: Namely, that we have very strong empirical basis [literally billions of cases, with no counter cases] to say that it is a fact that whenever we observe the origin of a case of digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information [dFSCI], that source is intelligent.

    7: So, we have every epistemic right, every scientific right on induction, to infer that such dFSCI is a SIGNATURE of intelligent cause. That is, we have the right to infer from sign to signified causal factor.

    8: And, on that inference — NCSE monitor, this is speaking directly to you, you should be ashamed (but are you shamelessly amoral as Plato warned?) — we have every right to challenge the sort of ideological, a priori, closed-minded imposition of materialistic explanation that Lewontin so aptly exemplifies:

    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 . . . [Billions and billions of demons, NYRB, Jan 1997; cf discussion here. (And, NCSE monitor, I would appreciate it if you would address the context instead of picking points out to set up a convenient strawman to slander.)]

    9: So, when we see such dFSCI in the case Mr Dodgen highlighted in the original post, we have every SCIENTIFIC reason to infer to intelligent cause:

    Does evolution mean that random errors filtered by natural selection explain all of biology, including the origin of the functionally specified information encoded in the base-four digital code of the DNA molecule, along with the information-processing machinery that translates it, performs error detection and repair, and much more?

    If your definition of “evolution” is the latter, can you supply us with adequate evidence that the probabilistic resources have existed to make this hypothesis a reasonable inference?

    11: The chirping crickets tell us that we are dealing with ideology, not sound empirically warranted inference.

    12: And, it is notorious, that those caught up in a viciously amoral dominant ideology routinely resort to caricaturing, labelling, slandering and dismissing those who dare to disagree with them. Which seems to be at the heart of Mr Blitzer’s loaded question to Ms O’Donnell.

    Well did the Apostle Paul warn about those who, professing profound wisdom, descend into the folly of refusing to listen to the signs in the world around us and the signs in our own inner lives as conscious, intelligent enconsciencerd creatures.

    We have been warned, the issue is will we heed it before we suffer the consequences of the amorality that as Plato counselled, leads on to the horrendous abuse of the privilege of education: “They are told by [their avant garde evolutionary materialistic teachers . . . and yes, evo mat was thriving c. 400 BC] that the highest right is might.”

    (And notice, such an implication of an ideological agenda is a central issue that reasonable voters should ponder very seriously indeed. Guess why that issue is NEVER allowed to be properly surfaced and discussed seriously on the merits when we are to decide on who will represent us as leaders of the political system? [Sheeple of the world, let us wake up! We need shepherds, not wolves hiding in shepherds' clothing!!!!!])

    GEM of TKI

  16. PS: It is worth drawing attention to Plato’s analysis of evo mat, c. 360 BC:

    _______________________

    >> Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view!] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others, and not in legal subjection to them. >>
    _______________________

    This problem has been with us for over 2300 years, and it has predictably led to the same consequences time after time after time. And, NCSE, ethics is a part of any sound education system or any sound political system. So, it is entirely in order to highlight the ethical consequences of the amorality of evo mat ideology. (And the thread on Joel Marks is utterly revealing, as is the onward First things article.)

  17. KF:

    Thank you for the detailed comment. It’s somewhat reassuring to be on Plato’s side :)

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