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How Evolution will be Taught Someday

In any debate, it is always good strategy to acknowledge your opponent’s strongest points up front, effectively taking those points off the table. The evolutionist’s strongest points are the fact that science has been so successful to date in finding “natural” (unintelligent) causes in other areas of science, and the fact that the development of life, in many ways, simply “looks like” it was due to natural causes. On the other hand, there is virtually no evidence that natural selection can explain anything more than trivial changes, and the idea that it can account for the complexity of life is patently absurd. In all debates over evolution, our opponents emphasize the features of evolution which, admittedly, suggest natural causes (“a designer wouldn’t have done things this way”, as Darwin himself often wrote), and can usually count on this as being mistaken as evidence for the default natural cause (Darwinism), without the need to even discuss natural selection’s role.

My essay “How Evolution will be Taught Someday” approaches the debate by saying, ok, maybe evolution does give the appearance of natural causes, and we’ll even let you call it a “natural” process, as long as you don’t claim you know what those natural causes are. Then what?

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40 Responses to How Evolution will be Taught Someday

  1. If evolution is to be taught intelligently then there has to be some basic understanding of terms and how each species arrived on the planet.

    For example, what is meant by evolution? What is a trivial change? When would a change not be trivial?

    Which species can point to natural selection as the cause of their origin and which cannot? Dr. Sewell point to the giraffe. The giraffe is a mammal. Which other mammals are in the same category and which are not?

    What type of information would be necessary to determine if a species arrived by natural selection or not?

    What are the definitions of micro-evolution and macro-evolution? Is there a gap between them?

    Is there a direction to evolution? And if there is what is the direction?

    What is meant by common descent? Should the term be differentiated from universal common descent?

    If we use the term “theistic evolution” what does it mean” How is it different from ID?

    If there are other natural mechanisms besides natural selection, what are they and how likely are they to explain evolutionary changes?

    There are probably many other questions to be answered. Everyone here like to use their favorite terms and arguments but I believe these all should be standardized and maybe Dr. Sewell’s post could act as a stimulus for such a process.

  2. Granville Sewell:

    … mysterious “natural” process, which scientists do not now understand, but hope to understand some day. Natural selection may then be mentioned only as a historical footnote, as a very simplistic early attempt to explain the workings of this natural process.

    If the texts took out the “natural” part, I would be richly satisfied. I respect methodological naturalism as long as it remains distinctively separate from philosophical naturalism. As soon as the word “natural” is placed in the sentances, the sentance becomes a statement of philosophical naturalism — a religious belief that should be banned in schools. Alternatively, however, I would find the following sentance to be appropriate:

    … mysterious process, scientists do not now understand. We are exploring possible natural causes.

  3. 3

    bFast,

    I agree with you, but I think you would also agree that this would still be a big improvement, and probably the best we can hope for in the near future.

  4. Thanks Granville
    I started a page on the Giraffe at ResearchID.org listing Lönnig’s papers and summary comments. Readers are welcome to add further material.

  5. Alas, if we could put a mighty wedge between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism, the problem with science would be fully solved in my opinion.

    If science were to hold to methodological naturalism, it would look at every unknown with a child’s wonder, “is this going to be the unsolvable problem, the limit of a naturalistic explanation?” Such a science would get past its cocky opinion that “we will solve the problem of OOL very soon”, and it would admit to a plethora of unprovens within biology. Such a science would also not be bothered when philosophers and theologians point to those unknowns and say “God is here”. Rather they would just say, “maybe, however we are continuing to look for a natural explanation.”

    If science had a humble committment to methodological naturalism, I would have to find something else to spend my free time on.

  6. To the people who insist on “natural” processes I would ask them about the processes responsible for the origin of nature (natural processes only exist in nature and cannot be responsible for its origin).

    I would also point out that both “intelligence” and “design”* are natural in that both exist in nature.

    Then what?

    *I use “design” in the same sense as Del Ratzsch in “Nature, Design and Science”, as an indicator of agency activity.

  7. Granville: I certainly agree with your opening proposition. To begin with your opponents’ best argument is a very effective TACTIC. The technique is to “inoculate” the audience early, so that they become “immune” and can no longer be “infected” by the arguments. I keeping with your point, I submit, that the most important STRATEGY is to frame the argument to your advantage. As G. K. Chesterton once said, “grant me his one assumption, and the rest will be easy.”

    The principle involved is this: He who frames the issue wins the argument.
    Consider, for example, Michael Behe’s thesis, “the edge of evolution.” Think about that for a minute. Darwinism teaches that there is no edge to evolution. To frame the issue of evolution in terms of its “edge” is to win the argument. The only thing left to consider is where that edge may be. Similarly, once one broaches the subject of information, the one subject that Darwinism can’t touch, the battle is half won even before you enter the arena.

    While we labor incessantly over details, we tend to forget the most important issue. The headline is the most important part of the argument, because that is where the context of the argument is established. The corollary to the framing principle is this: He who asks the questions controls the dialogue. Our opponents frame the issue when they bring up the “wedge” document or when they allude to the Dover trial. In effect, they are framing the issue by perpetuating the lie that CS is synonymous with ID. We should reframe the issue with this question: “Don’t you know the difference between a presupposition and an inference?”

  8. The paper about the giraffe that Dr. Sewell refers to uses the term “synthetic theory of evolution” which as I understand it meant to describe what evolutionary biology calls the current theory to explain changes in organisms over time. It is the first time I heard this term. Here is one description of it

    “We now understand that natural selection is just one of a number of processes that can lead to evolution. This knowledge has resulted in the development of a more complete understanding of genetic changes that is usually described as the synthetic theory of evolution. This is essentially a combination of Charles Darwin’s concept of natural selection, Gregor Mendel’s basic understanding of genetic inheritance, along with evolutionary theories developed since the early 20th century by population geneticists and more recently by molecular biologists.”

    If we are going to propose a better way to teach and explain evolution, then it would probably be good to understand just how it is taught today and which aspects of it are not based on good empirical data.

    We should also should separate what is science and what is philosophical in its approach. We often conflate the two and when that is done the arguments get more emotional than reasoned.

  9. If science were to hold to methodological naturalism, it would look at every unknown with a child’s wonder, “is this going to be the unsolvable problem, the limit of a naturalistic explanation?”

    But how would one know that this was the unsolvable problem if one didn’t try to solve it? A commitment to methodological naturalism encourages trying to solve this sort of problem, i.e. not to asking “is this the problem that’s unsolvable”, but rather “how can we try and solve it”?

    Methodological naturalism is a form of pragmatism – committing to it is committing to trying to solve problems, rather than worrying if they have a solution. We accept that we might not solve it ourselves, and indeed that solving one small question raises more unsolved problems – that’s science for you. It’s what makes it fun. The wonder comes from seeing that we can solve these problems, and understand the natural world.

    It might be that there are scientific problems that cannot be solved through methodological naturalism, but I can’t see any way of finding out which they are other than by trying to solve them, and repeatedly failing.

  10. Bob O’H:

    But how would one know that this was the unsolvable problem if one didn’t try to solve it? A commitment to methodological naturalism encourages trying to solve this sort of problem, i.e. not to asking “is this the problem that’s unsolvable”, but rather “how can we try and solve it”?

    Absolutely, methodological naturalism encourages trying to solve every problem — with a natural solution. However, the difference between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism is that methodological naturalism tries to solve the problem where philosophical naturalism assumes that every problem can be solved with a natural solution. Methodological naturalism admits to every problem, always wondering if this will be the problem that is unsolvable via natural means; philosophical naturalism assumes that there really isn’t any problem. Don’t believe me, look at how inconsequential the issue of OOL is presented to be.

  11. Bob O’H,

    I don’t thing anyone is ever saying that anything is an absolutely unsolvable problem and shouldn’t be investigated. I personally think the OOL is an unsolvable but encourage research on it for two reasons. One we may learn something that is useful but hasn’t anything to do with OOL and two, we get further confirmation that the issue is intractable or most likely impossible

    But the problem is not the un-solvability of the issue but how the research community cooks the books to make it appear that the issue is easily solved or is within solution. If you deny that such would be the case, read the reference that Dr. Sewell provides how evolutionary biologist have cooked the books on giraffe evolution. It is

    http://www.weloennig.de/Giraffe.pdf

    One is our good friend, Richard Dawkins.

  12. Naturalistic “science” clearly limits the extent of scientific research, philosophical argument, and moral turpitude. It is only when we open up science to a non-naturalistic form of science that real answers are given. Even though we may not know the characteristics of the designer, we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that there must be a designer.

    Just as Mt. Rushmore is clearly the result of an intelligent designer, so is the cell, the human body, rocks, trees, and all other phenomena. We remain incredulous of the aethistic naturalists because when we infer design, it’s so obvious: we know there must be design.

  13. I find one thing very frustrating as I read about the articles on the evolution of the giraffe. It seems that IDers have a hobby of seeing the challenge of evolution to be much larger than it is. Consider the following two quotes from the papers:

    Lönnig part 1, p4:

    For every one of these links, on the one hand, literally thousands of components (genes, hormones, skeletons, muscles, nerves, etc.) must be so fine-tuned with each other and preserved, that a functional and survivable organism is always guaranteed.

    Burkhard Müller,part 2 p19:

    The neck vertebrae must grow, of course, but not only they but also the skin, the muscles, all nerves, arteries and veins, sinews. Do they really all sit together on the same scales, so that one only needs to assign a higher value?

    When we think of biology as a simple machine, these sort of challenges make sense. But biology is ingenious. Consider polydactilism, the fact that some mammals, including humans, grow an extra digit on their hands or feet. With one small mutation, the extra digit grows. All of the muscles, nerves, sinews, blood vessels work out the extra digit without any challenge whatsoever. How is this done? A parallel is standard fare when developing computer software. We develop subroutines that accept parameters. In biology it is clearly implemented slightly differently, as an embrio grows, it establishes the starting and ending point of a muscle, a nerve, etc, then these components grow on an “as needed” basis.

    Consider also the handicapped people you know. I know people who, through injury, have shortened limbs. They don’t end up with a shorter bone, but muscles, blood vescles, nerves flopping loose around the shorter bone. No, biology makes surprising sense of the modified instruction to grow shorter.

    We recently had an article about a munchkin mutation in house-cats. The mutant has short legs, but they work perfectly. The short-legged cats do very well, thank you. And they don’t have a thousand complicating issues with muscles, nerves, sinews, blood vescles, skin, etc.

    I think it behooves the ID community to get past the exaggeration of the challenge of biological evolution so that we can present the true challenges of evolution without being mocked off stage.

  14. bFast
    While I support not overstating the argument, I believe you underestimate the matching complexity that is required to which Lönnig refers.

    You observation that systems still appear to work in biology actually points out that the corresponding systems that provide those features are marvelously designed to accommodate such changes.

    In particular, there are regulated systems for the formation of blood vessels, bones, nerves and flesh that accomplish this together with complementary DNA.

    These unsung regulated systems are worth much more press, not less.

  15. DLH:

    You observation that systems still appear to work in biology actually points out that the corresponding systems that provide those features are marvelously designed to accommodate such changes

    Absolutely. Biology, especially multi-cellular biology, is truly marvelously designed. That said, the findimentals of this design were established in the early cambrian, the best I can tell.

    Because this “designed to evolve” feature of multicellular life exists, we needn’t buzz too loudly about it when discussing the challenge of evolving a giraffe. I am very intrigued by the specific systems that exist in the giraffe for blood-pressure management, etc. But these challenges are being lost in the noise of designed solutions that have been around since the beginning.

  16. “But how would one know that this was the unsolvable problem if one didn’t try to solve it?”

    Science as a whole has given up searching for cold-fusion in a test-tube, based on reasons no more convincing than the ones brought forth arguing against a naturalistic OOL.

    At least in that case there actually appeared to be reasonable physical indications that made it look faintly possible for a time.

    OOL research, on the other hand is distinguished by its inability to produce more than the simplest of precursors, and its wild speculations.

    It is only the pre-disposition to philosophical materialism that keeps the modern-day alchemists searching for their biological philosophers stone, capable of transforming base molecules into the gold of life.

    There is plenty of evidence to turn these clever minds to something more productive, were it not for their Holy Quest.

  17. SCheesman, there is a fundimental difference between OOL research and cold fusion. There is a serious question whether cold fusion has ever happened, on the other hand life originated.

    I personally see it perfectly appropriate for scientists to spend their careers searching for a naturalistic explanation for OOL. As long as scientists are searching for a naturalistic explanation of the origin of life, we know that they haven’t found it. I would love to see vastly fewer declarations of Eureka!

    OOL is no small problem to the naturalistic model. I find it puzzling how dismissive the evolutionary biology community is of the problem. Evolutionary biologists seem to regularly say, “abiogenesis is not evolution, it’s not my problem.” Though they may be technically correct, it is in the perview of “evolutionary biology” to try to explain how cellular life came from pre-cellular life, how pre-cellular life existed without ATP synthase, and how ATP synthase evolved. It is within the purview of evolutionary biology to explain life back to something that is at least concievable as a chance event. The evolutionary biologist’s dismissiveness of the OOL problem is just one piece of a philosophy of dismissivness that dominates the science of evolutionary biology. Hey, they are so dismissive, that they don’t want students to discover that their science has anything left to learn.

  18. Concerning the giraffe. The notion is that developmental plasticity during embryological growth (itself an extremely ingenious and complicated self-regulating system) explains much of the supposedly irreducible complexity of the special adaptations. This innate developmental plasticity causes most of the associated tissues and organs to some extent to accommodate a particular selected for genetic variation, like for neck length. Like larger and longer blood vessels and muscles to go along. But this plasticity isn’t unlimited and doesn’t ingeniously come up with solutions to problems like high blood pressure. That would require real new innovation.

    Natural variation within the population along with developmental plasticity couldn’t create most of the coordinated special adaptations actually achieved in the giraffe as described by Lonnig, like a special set of valves in the veins, special blood-storing arteries at the base of the brain, much thicker arterial walls, pressure sensors and nerve feedback with these to control blood pressure, special muscular esophagus, and extra thick hide. There are also the required coordinated behavioral changes. These mostly are ingenious engineering solutions to the problems that require some source other than embryological plasticity.

    There still had to be specific genetic changes coming simultaneously at the right times. The numerous special adaptations listed by Lonnig had to be introduced simultaneously by random mutation and coordinated with each other to maintain viability of the evolving proto-giraffe. The plasticity of embryological development could produce only a little of the required coordination.

  19. magnan:

    The notion is that developmental plasticity during embryological growth (itself an extremely ingenious and complicated self-regulating system) explains much of the supposedly irreducible complexity of the special adaptations.

    If you got this from my posts, you completely misunderstand me. My view is that the issues of the special adaptations and of the missing fossils is shrouded by a litany of presumed issues that are non-issues in light of the ingenuity of developmental plasticity.

    All I want is to get rid of the dross so that the stuff that genuinely challenges NDE is left.

  20. bfast: “… a litany of presumed issues that are non-issues in light of the ingenuity of developmental plasticity.”

    What are these non-issues, that apparently don’t relate to the need for multiple, coordinated but still ingenious solutions to engineering problems?

  21. This is one example of what I think is a description of micro-evolution (read: the only) evolution from the bible:

    Genesis 30:27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.” 28 He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”

    29 Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. 30 The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?”

    31 “What shall I give you?” he asked.
    “Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32 Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33 And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.”

    34 “Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” 35 That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. 36 Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.

    37 Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38 Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, 39 they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 40 Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals. 41 Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, 42 but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43 In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and maidservants and menservants, and camels and donkeys.

  22. magnan, please read my post #13

  23. Methodological naturalism admits to every problem, always wondering if this will be the problem that is unsolvable via natural means;

    No, it doesn’t wonder if this is an unsolvable problem. To do that would mean taking a stance on philosophical naturalism – i.e. saying it’s wrong. The whole point behind methodological naturalism is that it is an approach to studying the natural world that can ignore metaphysical issues.

  24. Bob O’H,

    you said

    “The whole point behind methodological naturalism is that it is an approach to studying the natural world that can ignore metaphysical issues”

    But science as preached by the science community doesn’t ignore metaphysical issues. It dictates a specific metaphysical point of view.

  25. How does methodological naturalilism deal with the fact that natural processes cannot account for the origins of nature because natural processes only exist in nature?

    That’s right it ignores anything and everything that contradicts it.

    It might be that there are scientific problems that cannot be solved through methodological naturalism, but I can’t see any way of finding out which they are other than by trying to solve them, and repeatedly failing.–Bob O’H

    Is failing the ONLY way to learn?

    That seems bass-ackwards to me…

  26. But science as preached by the science community doesn’t ignore metaphysical issues. It dictates a specific metaphysical point of view.

    If the transmission in my car needs replacement, and I take it to a mechanic, rather than to a priest, is it because I have made an arbitrary metaphysical commitment to a naturalistic belief system?

    In like manner, if I want to test a hypothesis about the efficacy of an anticancer treatment and I test that hypothesis in a double-blind study, is it because I am metaphysically blinded to non-naturalistic approaches to problem-solving?

    In other words, if I am biased about solving real-world problems in this way, is my bias unreasonable?

  27. 27

    If the transmission in my car needs replacement, and I take it to a mechanic, rather than to a priest, is it because I have made an arbitrary metaphysical commitment to a naturalistic belief system?
    ——-
    No, but if you rule out a priori the possibility that your car was designed by an intelligent agent, you have.

  28. “Is failing the ONLY way to learn?”

    It is the best way to learn as long as the failures are not too great. No one learns by always being right. I first heard this from my brother when we lost the Philadelphia basketball championship game when I was a junior in high school. He popped into the dressing room after the game and told the team “No one learns by winning, only by losing.” We didn’t like that message but he was right. He later told me about all his set backs before becoming a successful college football player.

    Here is a Teddy Roosevelt quote:

    “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

    Bill Belachik was a failure as a head coach before he went to New England.

    One of my favorite Garth Brooks songs is “Standing outside the Fire.” Here are some of the lyrics

    “We call them cool
    Those hearts that have no scars to show
    The ones that never do let go
    And risk the tables being turned

    We call them fools
    Who have to dance within the flame
    Who chance the sorrow and the shame
    That always comes with getting burned

    But you’ve got to be tough when consumed by desire
    ‘Cause it’s not enough just to stand outside the fire

    There is no way to success except through failure.

  29. Granville Sewell:

    If the transmission in my car needs replacement, and I take it to a mechanic, rather than to a priest, is it because I have made an arbitrary metaphysical commitment to a naturalistic belief system?
    ——-
    No, but if you rule out a priori the possibility that your car was designed by an intelligent agent, you have.

    Experience has taught me that cars, being artifacts, are the products of human action. If it is a metaphysical commitment to trust my experience, all sane persons are metaphysians.

  30. Bob O’H:

    It might be that there are scientific problems that cannot be solved through methodological naturalism, but I can’t see any way of finding out which they are other than by trying to solve them, and repeatedly failing.

    Agreed.

    If the methodological naturalist has spent many years (how long has OOL research been active?) trying to solve a problem, if he did not have a committment to philosophical naturalism, at what point would he begin to consider that he had failed? The problem with your complete argument is that your a-priori committment to philosophical naturalism sees your methodological naturalism fail and fail again, and it premises the failure with the mantra, “yet”.

    Either methodological naturalism recognizes a point of failure, or methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism become one and the same thing.

    To the 98th percentile, the scientific community has lost the separation between methodological and scientific naturalism. This is religion. Not recognizing it as religoin is wrong.

  31. Bfast, I don’t think I misunderstood you. I stated in #18 describing some of the special ingenious adaptations, “…like a special set of valves in the veins, special blood-storing arteries at the base of the brain, much thicker arterial walls, pressure sensors and nerve feedback with these to control blood pressure, special muscular esophagus, and extra thick hide. There are also the required coordinated behavioral changes.”

    You apparently are claiming that embryological developmental plasticity can explain the production of these features from much simpler random single genetic changes for some aspect of the total complicated adaptation. It would have to be with simple single genetic changes because the probabilities are virtually nil to get multiple needed changes simultaneously. For instance a selected for increase in neck length (ignoring the issue of such selection itself) through developmental plasticity bringing about automatically at least the beginnings of various needed accompanying complex subsystems such as the “Rete Mirabile”, blood pressure control, special valves, etc. This would assign a very intelligent and creative ability to embryological development, which would then have to be demonstrated.

  32. “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science” – Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

  33. “Is failing the ONLY way to learn?”

    It is the best way to learn as long as the failures are not too great.-Jerry

    The smaller the risk the smaller the reward. And not everyone learns from failures.

    No one learns by always being right.

    So if I learn to do something, something I have never done before, and I do it right, I really didn’t learn anything? And I will only learn when I fail?

    So I take it that evolutionists have been learning quite a bit with all of their failures to explain life and its diversity via non-telic processes.

    There is only one lesson to be learned by failure- don’t. Or as you said, make sure they are trivial. And make sure that if you fail and live, that you learn something.

  34. Magnan:

    Bfast, I don’t think I misunderstood you…. You apparently are claiming that embryological developmental plasticity can explain the production of these features

    Magnan, you obviously misunderstand me. The papers extensively discuss the extra vetertebrate in the giraffe’s neck. Yet humans periodically have an extra vertibrate, without dire consequences. The article discusses the giraffe’s large lung capacity. I think that lung capacity is well within the scope of what naturalistic evolution can balance. The article seems to imply that making a long neck or long legs takes the coordination of muscles, tendons, blood vessles, nerves etc. It doesn’t. These are self-balancing.

    I am interested in details about “these features”, the added mechanisms that manage blood pressure as the giraffe raises and lowers its head, etc. These features would be discussed with more detail, or the paper would be significantly shorter, if we didn’t have to wade throught the stuff that evolution and embriology can handle, such as lengthening limbs, expanding lung capacity, even adding vertibrae. (The fact that the 8th vertibrae is of a somewhat different design proves interesting, however, I wonder if it is nothing more than a natural “half-way” vertibrae — a natural blending of the neck and back vertibrae.)

    Again — the special features are interesting, embriology and a system designed to evolve explains bunches of stuff like the length of limbs that are also seen as “impossible” in the paper.

  35. Joseph, “Is failing the ONLY way to learn?”

    This is a much broader and more sweeping interpretation of the discussion than is valid. The only way to separate what natural law can do from what requires miracle is to study natural law finding the point where natural law fails.

    This is very different than the question of me learning to fly an airplane. It is imparitive that failure not happen as I learn to fly an airplane, yet many people learn the skill.

  36. On the other hand, there is virtually no evidence that natural selection can explain anything more than trivial changes, and the idea that it can account for the complexity of life is patently absurd.

    It’s important to teach the sorts of changes that natural selection can explain.

    Natural selection has the potential to explain why certain “traits” are more prevalent than others in a population.

    What it is capable of explaining, beyond this, is beyond me. It certainly is not an explanation for how those traits arose in the first place.

  37. Just as Mt. Rushmore is clearly the result of an intelligent designer…

    I disagree.

    From where I sit, I cannot even see Mt. Rushmore. I have no basis on which to judge whether it is designed or not.

    Along the same lines, I imagine that if you were right up against the rock you wouldn’t even be able to discern faces, and thus would have not basis upon which to infer any design.

  38. If the methodological naturalist has spent many years (how long has OOL research been active?) trying to solve a problem, if he did not have a committment to philosophical naturalism, at what point would he begin to consider that he had failed?

    When there are no visible avenues left to explore. Yes, it might take a long time, but then it took over 350 years to find a proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem.

    I can’t see that methodological materialism can make a definitive decision that a phenomenon has a non-material. At least it’s difficult for me to see how it could be done – even miracles would have to be repeatable.

    As far as I can see, a definitive decision over whether something has a non-material cause has to be left to a higher-level analysis, like meta-physics.

  39. As far as I can see, a definitive decision over whether something has a non-material cause has to be left to a higher-level analysis, like meta-physics.-Bob O’H

    The debate is about intelligent vs unintelligent causes.

    As IDists have been making it clear we cannot tell if said intelligence is within or outside of nature.

    Cars exist in nature but unintelligent causes are not responsible for it.

    Stonehenge- made of stones and no laws prevent nature, operating freely, from creating such a structure. Yet no one thinks that nature, operating freely, produced it.

  40. Bob O’H,

    This debate, by that I mean all aspects of the progression of life, would disappear if the researchers in it were honest. By that I mean if they would gladly admit to the general public what they do not know and the severity of the problems with the research then we could all go home. But they constantly distort the extent of the findings to overstate what has been shown.

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