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Exposing the Darwin religion – Booker in the UK Telegraph

Christopher Booker offers his observations on the enthusiasm shown by adherents to Darwin’s theory in the run up to the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth. Booker too has noticed the analogy between devotion to Darwin and organised religion. Charles Darwin zealots have made science a substitute religion

Booker firstly points out some unresolved problems with Darwin’s theory that are generally ignored or supressed today. He then compares global warming adherents with the Darwinists and comments that “It becomes increasingly obvious that…the Darwinians…are so convinced by the simplicity of their theory that they are unable to recognise how much they do not know – and …their response has been to become ever more fanatically intolerant of anyone who dares question their dogma.”

Furthermore he comments that seeing Richard Owen (the intelligent design proponent who established the Natural History Museum in celebration of God’s handiwork) replaced by Darwin in centre stage in the British Natural History Museum ‘is a warning of what happens when science ceases to be scientific and becomes a substitute religion. The symbolism of the change is more perfect than its perpetrators know.’

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18 Responses to Exposing the Darwin religion – Booker in the UK Telegraph

  1. Years ago, a good illustration of this was Attenborough himself claiming to ‘prove’ Darwin’s theory by showing us a mouse and a bat, explaining how one evolved into the other. He seemed oblivious to the obvious point that, as the mouse’s forelegs evolved by minute variations to wings, there must have been a long period when the creature, no longer with properly functioning legs but as yet unable to fly, was much less ‘adapted to survive’ than it had been before.

    Yes, how did the mouse-bat survive when it could neither run nor fly? It’s obvious problems with Darwinian gradualism like this that inspire justified skepticism among the unwashed masses. Responses like “You’re just a religious fanatic who doesn’t know how science works,” or “This challenge has been refuted time and time again,” tend not to be very persuasive, since the problem is obviously intractable in Darwinian terms.

    An obvious conclusion is that the fossil record is profoundly and consistently discontinuous because Darwinian gradualism never happened, and it didn’t happen because it doesn’t work.

  2. Years ago, a good illustration of this was Attenborough himself claiming to ‘prove’ Darwin’s theory by showing us a mouse and a bat, explaining how one evolved into the other. He seemed oblivious to the obvious point that, as the mouse’s forelegs evolved by minute variations to wings, there must have been a long period when the creature, no longer with properly functioning legs but as yet unable to fly, was much less ‘adapted to survive’ than it had been before.

    If you ask a partially-blind person whether or not 10% of normal eyesight is better than none at all and they will almost invariably answer ‘yes’. And it is not hard to imagine that even a limited sensitivity to light could be a big advantage, in terms of survival, to being totally blind.

    In the case of the mouse evolving into a bat, it is not hard to imagine that some intermediate forms would have been unlucky enough to get the worst of both worlds, being able to neither run nor fly well, and been less likely to survive. Others, however, would have been lucky enough to develop a sufficient capacity for flying – or at least gliding – to more than compensate for the partial loss of running ability and that would have given them an edge in terms of survival. That would have been sufficient for the eventual evolution of bats all other things being equal.

  3. Others, however, would have been lucky enough to develop a sufficient capacity for flying – or at least gliding – to more than compensate for the partial loss of running ability and that would have given them an edge in terms of survival.

    Speaking of speculation and just-so stories, the other day someone on this site pointed to the fossil discovery of a land-dwelling ancestor of the whale, which gave birth to her young on land.

    That brought to mind this puzzler in gradualistic whale evolution, from Denton’s book (Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, p. 217):

    …[T]he creature in anticipation of a time when it will give birth to its young under water, gradually develops apparatus by means of which the milk is forced into the mouth of the young one, and meanwhile a cap has to be formed round the nipple into which the snout of the young one fits tightly, the epiglottis and laryngeal cartilage become prolonged downwards so as tightly to embrace this tube, in order that the adult will be able to breathe
    while taking water into the mouth and the young while taking in milk These changes must be effected completely before the calf can be born under water. Be it noted that there is no stage intermediate between being born and suckled under water and being born and suckled in the air.

    Is anyone aware of a speculative just-so story which explains how this might be possible? I’ve searched, and can’t find one.

    (Actually, although it’s in Denton’s book, he’s quoting another biologist named Dewar, from the 1930s.)

  4. Seversky,

    In the case of the mouse evolving into a bat, it is not hard to imagine that some intermediate forms would have been unlucky enough to get the worst of both worlds, being able to neither run nor fly well, and been less likely to survive. Others, however, would have been lucky enough to develop a sufficient capacity for flying – or at least gliding – to more than compensate for the partial loss of running ability and that would have given them an edge in terms of survival. That would have been sufficient for the eventual evolution of bats all other things being equal.

    You do realize there is no legitimate, scientific reason to believe this story don’t you? Just-so stories have been used to try and explain such things as a peacock’s tail, Viceroy’s mimicry of the Monarch, and the eyespots on butterflies and moths. Too bad when these stories were actually tested, they failed.

    http://post-darwinist.blogspot.....esign.html

    What you would have to do to prove that mice somehow evolved into bats, is not show supposed chains in the fossil record, or DNA “evidence,” but rather show that it could happen in the first place.

    It does no good to suggest something happened with a mechanism that has not been reasonably proven. Especially if another mechanism can explain it better.

    So far all I reasonably see in nature is genetic entropy, and that’s nothing close to evolution. Rather the opposite.

  5. It does no good to suggest something happened with a mechanism that has not been reasonably proven. Especially if another mechanism can explain it better.

    Another mechanism? Yes, that would be interesting. Any ideas about what it could be? Anyone looking for it?

  6. Michael Denton discusses the avian lung as an example of a feature that could not evolve in a Darwinian step-by-tiny-step fashion. Birds have a continuous-flow, circulatory respiratory system, as opposed to a bellows system in reptiles and mammals. There is no possible way to transition from one to the other in a step-by-step fashion and maintain function:

    …the maintenance of respiratory function is absolutely vital to the life of an organism to the extent that the slightest malfunction leads to death within minutes… the avian lung cannot function as an organ of respiration until the parabronchi system which permeates it and the air sac system which guarantees the parabronchi their air supply are both highly developed and able to function together in a perfectly integrated manner… The fact that the design of the avian respiratory system is essentially invariant in all birds merely increases one’s suspicion that no fundamental variation of the system is compatible with the preservation of respiratory function. One is irresistibly reminded of Cuvier’s view that the great divisions of nature are grounded in necessity and that intermediates cannot exist because such forms are incoherent and non-functional.

    The important point is that the avian lung is not a rare example. Virtually every system in living things, from the sub-cellular level to the level of the entire individual, presents insurmountable problems for the Darwinian gradualism thesis (although these problems mysteriously disappear in the fertile imaginations of Darwinists). At the lowest level, the DNA molecule cannot replicate without proteins, the information for which is contained in the DNA molecule. Things get worse from there.

  7. Pubdef,

    Another mechanism? Yes, that would be interesting. Any ideas about what it could be? Anyone looking for it?

    I’m assuming sarcasm here. If that’s the case, then I’m sure you can figure out another better working mechanism on your own.

    On the off chance that you’re not being sarcastic I can easily offer ideas behind different possible mechanisms and/or scenarios to explain life on earth.

    What be you?

  8. Pubdef,

    Another mechanism? Yes, that would be interesting. Any ideas about what it could be? Anyone looking for it?

    I’m assuming sarcasm here. If that’s the case, then I’m sure you can figure out another better working mechanism on your own.

    On the off chance that you’re not being sarcastic I can easily offer ideas behind different possible mechanisms and/or scenarios to explain life on earth.

    What be you?

  9. The Argument

    Said the mouse to his mate years ago,
    “Here’s a tidbit you might like to know.
    All this limping and lurching
    Will be gliding and perching.
    I read it in Kipling’s, ‘Just-so . . .’”

    But his mate, after a moment’s reflection,
    Noticed a flaw in his fine introspection.
    “We can glide or just swerve,
    But we’re still and hors d’oeuvre
    Unless we evolve wind and that to perfection.”

    “No! We’ll be bats by Darwin’s grand fate.
    We’ll limp to high places and wait
    For the hunter’s arrival
    To end our survival,
    But we’ll glide on past; ain’t it great?”

    “Oh Baldrick, what your cunning plan lacks is
    An account of just what the facts is.
    Seeking ledges of sorts
    For mouse-gliding airports
    Ain’t exactly common mice praxis!”

    “Your negativism’s left me astounded.”
    “No, trust me, we’re going to get pounded.”
    “A flight mutant gene I’m invoking.”
    “What HAVE YOU BEEN SMOKING?
    We’re dead, here and now, ‘cause we’re grounded!!”

  10. pubdef,

    “Design” is the alternative mechanism to blind, undirecetd processes.

    As in organisms were designed to evolve as opposed to evolving via an accumulation of genetic accidents.

    Two specific design mechanisms include:

    1- Artificial selection

    2- Pre-programmed genetic algorithms

    As for the alleged evolution of the vision system- just how can we objectively test the premise?

    The same goes for the alleged evolution of bats from non-flying mammals.

    Ya see Seversky the problem is we don’t even understand the genetics behind our own eye development. Therefor we cannot possibly know whether or not such a system could “evolve” from an organism (population) that never had one.

    As for the “Darwin religion” the way Richard Dawkins worships natural selection, that premise is a given.

    However that also demonstrates that Dawkins is not an atheist.

  11. On the walking-to-flying transition, here’s what I posted on my evolution parody Youtibe video as a response to someone asking how it could happen:

    Lizards kept jumping off cliffs until they got protofeathers and protowings, at which point they fell more slowly. The ones that survived falling mated with others who survived (they had to jump as couples), despite their broken bones, and made crooked little birds who then later straightened out and flew. Other reptiles evolved into lawyers.

  12. Now that I re-read it, it’s not too far off from Seversky’s explanation.

    It’s really difficult to parody this stuff.

  13. And it is not hard to imagine that even a limited sensitivity to light could be a big advantage…

    It seems that few here agree that imagining things about the past counts as evidence of any sort. That’s probably because it is not, although Darwinists often cite their own imaginations as the equivalent of evidence. If merely imagining things is all that’s necessary to verify Darwinian “theory” then Darwinism does not rise to the level of a theory. Instead it remains unfalsifiable hypothetical goo because one can always imagine things.

    In the case of the mouse evolving into a bat, it is not hard to imagine that some intermediate forms would have been unlucky…

    It seems to me that people become confused about the difference between a theory which can be verified or falsified based on empirical evidence and imagining things because it is hard to imagine. It is hard to imagine how gradualism/”naturalism” could apply, so when they can imagine something they think it is evidence when actually it is nothing but a mythological narrative of naturalism.

    It’s interesting to note that the pattern of things being “hard to imagine” is as prevalent in biology as the mistake of citing imaginary evidence. Why would that be the case? It almost seems as if things are designed to resist naturalism/gradualism rooted in common descent while still pointing to a common source.

  14. Others commenting here mentioned examples which Denton cites which resist Darwinian “explanation”/imagination, one he mentions is the copulatory organ of the male dragon fly:

    “The living world is full of innumerable other systems, particularly among the insects and invertebrates, for which gradual evolutionary explanations have never been provided. A particularly fascinating case is the mating flight of the dragonfly. The male flies ahead of the female and grips her head with terminal claspers. The female then bends her abdomen forward and receives the sperm from a special copulatory organ which is situated toward the front on the under surface of the abdomen of the male dragonfly and which he fills with semen from the true reproductive aperture before the start of the mating flight. This strange manoeuvre, which seems a curiously round about way to bring sperm to egg, depends on the unique and complex machinery which forms the male copulatory organ. Although in its detailed structure it varies enormously in different species, the fundamental design of this extraordinary complex organ is essentially the same in all species of dragonfly. No other insect possesses anything remotely like it, nor is it led up to gradually by a sequence of simpler transitional structures.
    (Evolution: A Theory In Crisis
    by Michael Denton :219)

    I’d be interested to know if has imagined a mythological narrative of naturalism to “explain” it. As far as I’m concerned explanations of this sort are not scientific explanations based on a scientific theory. I’m interested because all truth is not scientific and they are the sort of mythological explanations necessary to support some form of Nature based paganism/naturalism in the name of science. (Naturalism has always been associated with gradualism in the Darwinian mind.)

  15. #10: I think it is obvious that “design” is not a “mechanism,” and I think you recognize this point when you refer to “design mechanisms.” (If you disagree with me so far, it probably does not bode well for the rest of the discussion.)

    Your two examples are reasonable enough but is either really an example of what Domoman claimed (“another mechanism can explain it better”)? Is either artificial selection or a pre-programmed genetic algorithm a satisfactory explanation of the sort of biological development we’re talking about here? What was artificially selected, how, and by whom? How was a genetic algorithm implemented in biological material?

    On one side of this discussion, we have a broad approach that goes by a number of names (Darwinism, the Modern Synthesis, MET) but can, I think, be called “non-teleological explanations” (or, in your terms, “blind, undirected processes”) to establish its dichotomy with “design.” Under this rubric, there are a number of proposed mechanisms, the most prominent being RM+NS but also including “drift” and other things I know nothing about. What are the counterparts to the nonteleological mechanisms under the rubric of “design?”

    I understand the objection to the nonteleological mechanisms as wildly improbable. While I think that objection is most likely invalid, my point here is that even the most improbable mechanism can be described and, in theory, tested or explored. Is there any counterpart, any “design mechanism,” that can be described, tested, or explored? (And I hope it won’t seem unreasonable, but I’m not interested in any analogies to Mt. Rushmore or C++. We’re talking about mechanisms that could lead from a rat to a bat.)

    As for the “Darwin religion” the way Richard Dawkins worships natural selection, that premise is a given.

    I don’t know what “worship” means in this context. “Take as a presumptive starting point for explanations of biological development?”
    One closing note to Domoman: I was sarcastic at first, but now I’m curious. What do you have in the way of “different possible mechanisms and/or scenarios to explain life on earth” — anything beyond what Joseph #10 offered?

  16. 16

    pubdef,

    What (at least) some research is suggesting is that life on earth (the organization of inanimate material into living tissue that metabolizes energy, replicates, and passes down an inheritable set of traits) has to be impacted at the information level (that which causes inanimated material to become animated into living tissue).
    In other words, selection for fitness at the nucleic level.

    Thats requires some qualitative abilities on the part of whatever causal mechanism we wish to explain it.

    Of the three known causal mechanisms (chance, necessity, and agency) necessity brings order, but order is not what is found in nucleic sequencing. Chance brings an independence from the order that dominates necessity, but its that very independence that makes it unable to organize function. Only agency has proven to have the qualitative ability to provide the aperiodic sequence of nucleotides that is observed in fitness at the information level.

    You see the objection is more than just about being “wildly improbable” its about the evidence, and rationality as well.

  17. To recap, The Just So Stories For Little Children were written by 19th century British author Rudyard Kipling. They were fanciful origins stories intended to entertain and amuse children. Referring to speculative explanations as ‘just so stories’ implies that they are just fantasies that have no foundation in reality and cannot be tested. If that is true then it is fair comment.

    But if the explanations do offer the chance of being verified or falsified then they qualify as hypotheses which can be tested in the way that the mimicry explanation of the markings on butterfly wings was tested and found wanting in the research quoted above. That was done by scientists and is exactly what science should do. It is the sort of research that ID proponents could do if they chose.

    Where, however, someone is so intemperate as claim that there is absolutely no conceivable way for evolution to lead to a certain outcome they are claiming a certainty to which neither side is entitled and which is refuted by the provision of a testable selectionist explanation.

    I do not deny that a God exists or that it is possible that advanced aliens might have been involved in the origin or development of life on Earth. On the other hand, in spite of what many people clearly believe, I know of no good reason for thinking such things might be true so I do not assume them to be so. If we ever find a Stargate buried under the Antarctic I will be more than happy to change my mind about aliens. Find the same sort of evidence for God and I will become a believer. Until then are God and aliens more than ‘just so’ stories?

  18. #16 Upright BiPed — I appreciate your thoughtful response. Let me point out one global and one specific problem I have with it.

    By “global,” I mean “how well does it answer my question,” and I have to say that it really doesn’t. I asked, “What are the counterparts to the nonteleological mechanisms under the rubric of design?” (Pardon me if that’s not the question you thought you were answering.) Your final sentence illustrates my frustration; by referring to “the objection” [to the mechanism of RM+NS], you are falling into the ID trap of substituting criticism of “Darwinism” for affirmative claims.

    Your answer can be seen as an explanation of how you see RM+NS (chance and necessity) as lacking the qualitative abilities required by the causal mechanism, or, alternatively, as a description of the necessary components of a causal mechanism. But I see no description of any mechanism or any suggestion of how it could be tested or explored. My bottom line question for you would be “how is life on earth impacted at the information level?”

    But I really can’t even ask that question, because of my second problem with your post: I don’t know what you mean by “the information level,” and I certainly don’t know how or why “the information level” is “that which causes inanimated material to become animated into living tissue.”

    Finally:

    Only agency has proven to have the qualitative ability to provide the aperiodic sequence of nucleotides that is observed in fitness at the information level.

    This assumes your conclusion: that RM+NS, or some other nonteleological mechanism, could not be the explanation for the development of biological processes.

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