Home » Intelligent Design » Michael Majerus: Peppered Moths DO Rest On Tree Trunks, And Incidentally, God Doesn’t Exist

Michael Majerus: Peppered Moths DO Rest On Tree Trunks, And Incidentally, God Doesn’t Exist

Michael Majerus

Last week at the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) meeting in Sweden, Michael Majerus of Cambridge University — one of world’s leading experts on the peppered moth, of textbook fame — gave a plenary lecture where he argued that his observations over the past 7 years, in his own garden in the UK, had corrected the shortcomings of Kettlewell’s classic experiments. Bottom line: peppered moths truly are “the proof of Darwinian evolution.”

Really. You can read his talk for yourself, here (click on the first link, “Stop Press,” for the pdf).

Majerus is unlikely to persuade skeptical evolutionary biologists that the peppered moth story, even when told with Kettlewell’s shortcomings corrected, is a good model for evolutionary theory generally. Twenty years ago, well prior to the hubbub about the peppered moth (started in large measure by Majerus himself), evolutionary geneticist Wallace Arthur doubted that industrial melanism — observed in many other taxa besides moths, by the way — provided much, or any, insight into the problem of macroevolution:

There is much current debate on whether the ‘micro-evolutionary’ studies of population geneticists, which deal with minor evolutionary changes occurring within present-day species, provides the whole story (or even an important part of the story) of ‘macroevolution’….equally one can argue that there is no direct evidence for a Darwinian origin of a body plan — black Biston betularia [melanic moths] certainly do not constitute one! Thus in the end we have to admit that we do not really know how body plans originate.

(W. Arthur, Theories of Life [Penguin, 1987], pp. 156, 180)

Arthur’s skepticism, like that of many other evolutionary biologists, has only grown in the intervening period.

So what does Majerus mean, when he says that the peppered moth is the “proof” of Darwinian evolution?

Only Majerus can say exactly, but here’s a worrisome clue: read what he saves for the Big Finish, Take-Home Lesson, of his ESEB plenary address:

I believe in the existence of god in that same way that Douglas Adams believed in the existence of god. Just as Terry Pratchett proved, through logical argument the existence of Father Christmas (well, actually it was the Hogfather), saying that if you can draw him, he must have existence, so Douglas Adams proved the existence of God. Moreover, he also proved that humans invented him or her.

Now place yourself in the role of an ordinary listener who, now and then, wonders about the enterprise of evolutionary theory, objectivity-wise. You know: dispassion, evidence, no stake in theology one way or another. All that.

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29 Responses to Michael Majerus: Peppered Moths DO Rest On Tree Trunks, And Incidentally, God Doesn’t Exist

  1. I must admit, I’m beginning to be puzzled. Why do Darwinists believe something for which there is no evidence? I’m beginning to think it’s a true mental illness, such a deep antipathy for God that anything that suggests Him/Her/It must be countered, even at the cost of their own sanity and good sense. I just don’t see how extra melanin is the first step towards becoming Mothra for these creatures, or any other differing species for that matter.

    Also, does every scientist in this field have to look so much like, well, a scientist? This guy definitely was the sort to get beat up a lot in high school. Could that be part of the problem?

    I’m wondering if others have any insight. Is it that the Darwinists believe something because it is a cudgel to attack religious thought, or is it that they, unable to accept religious thought, are also unable to accept that they don’t know, and thus latch on to something despite lack of evidence?

    One thing that always strikes me as a little odd is, even if they were to find, say, a clear series of transitional fossils, that tells you absolutely nothing about how that transition was made. Even if you were to find such a thing, there is still no evidence that it could come about through mutation and natural selection, and indeed, much evidence against it. Why couln’t an intelligence have shaped that gradual transition?

  2. “I believe in evolution in that same way that Darwin believed in evolution. Just as Terry Pratchett proved, through logical argument the existence of Father Christmas (well, actually it was the Hogfather), saying that if you can think of it, it must have existence, so Darwin proved evolution. Moreover, he also proved that humans invented evolution.”

    It really is a shame, his arguement if anything is more a reason to disbelieve evolution than a god. Atleast I can point out the man who made it up.

    I would much rather have darwinists answer questions than say a point is invalid. These ad hoc attacks on religion need to stop, it is boiling down to “evolution is true because god is false”. Either it is “evolution is true” or “evolution is false”, the push for a dichotemy between religion and science is only causing anguish.

  3. Could his evolutionary classes be taught in America? I doubt it.

    He looks a lot like Tony Shalhoub from the movie ‘Men in Black’ who played Jack Jeebs the alien shop owner.

  4. You mean this image of Tony:

    Tony Shalhoub in MIB

  5. So good to see you Paul! Great find.

    Hope you swing by more often.

    Sal

  6. Does anyone know where the salted moths rest?

    :)

  7. Um, Mr. Dembski, no offense, but people who live in glass houses…

  8. Shoot. Apparently, I can’t load pictures. Well, it’s not my blog, so I guess that makes sense. Still, I had this great side-by-side of you and Napoleon Dynamite.

  9. “I must admit, I’m beginning to be puzzled. Why do Darwinists believe something for which there is no evidence?”

    LOL! That’s all I need to say, just LOL. Also, looking at that guys pic, I feel like taking his lunch money. I’m glad he settled that whole God thing for me too. You know matter, when it gets arranged in certain ways, can really be quite smart – at least that’s what “I” keep hearing.

  10. Hey, Charles, you should go on Google images and see what they other side has done with my image — what I do here is tame by comparison. I’m not sure where you come up with the glass houses. I give as good as I take and I take a lot.

  11. Hey, Charles, you should go on Google images and see what they other side has done with my image —

    They are pretty rough. Check out the one second row, second from right :-)

    In the old days, definite grounds for a duel :-)

  12. I’m glad your arrangement of matter was amused.

    http://outrageoracle.blogspot.com/

  13. I’m not implying that you’re fragile, Bill. It’s just a joke.

  14. I think this post captures the root of the problem with many of the Darwinians. Like Majerus they are biased, mistaking their intellectual accomplishments as being above others and right on all subjects, making them very bitter at times. Their worldview issues forth in these typical snide comments. Their science flows and is corrupted from this base. In their rejection of God, they reject good science altogether in keeping a closed mind.

    The efforts by those like Smith to discredit Behe and justify their continued dogmatic stances is explained succinctly by George Gilder in a lecture at Bar Ilan University, podcast @ idthefuture.com

    Gilder during this short 14 minute except, mentions Gamows; a well regarded physicist, who wrote a letter to Francis Crick, re: “code that was independent of the substrate” for DNA, which Crick said helped him on his way to solve the problem at hand.

    Gilder notes the DNA message is seperate from the carrier.

    Darwinian materialist refuse to see this truth about information and are sucked into a materialist only solution.

    As Gilder goes on, paraphrasing, he states that Francis Crick called this “nothing less than central dogma of biology” defined as the DNA message programming the amino acids into the requisite proteins, as Gilder states, “from the word(the genomic program), to the flesh(proteins),” but not the other way, the proteins and amino acids cannot influence or shape the contents of the DNA message.

    Today’s Darwinist are on their last straw random straw so to speak, actually I’d call it a give up, since NDE is now seen as having been “superceded” by the latest materialist concept of forcing the issue – symbiosys, or exchange of the message, they imagine the building blocks having shared information on the way up to our current structure. This is yet another dead end, I believe.

    Gilder stated during the lecture, “Information proceeds incarnation.” This seems staggeringly simple in comparison to the materialist objections, but the observation is true today thru every creative activity, whether scientific or artistic.

    Gilder then mentions Max Delbruck, another physicist @ Copenhagen w/Neils Bohr, later interested in biology, said, “the effort of neuroscientist to seperate, or reduce the mind to mere matter, reminds him of nothing so much as the effort of Baron Munchausen to extract himself from a swamp by pulling ever harder on his own hair.”

    Gilder updates this shrewd observation “this is really what Darwinian materialism is about, its about sophisticated intellectuals trying to extract themselves from the swamp by pulling ever harder on their own hair.”

    I couldn’t agree more, nor state it better and the picture of PZ pulling his hair out over this is well worth the thousand words.

    And so the moth stays a moth… and the twitching of the eye at each hair pulled, continues in vain.

  15. Charle F:
    “…t must be countered, even at the cost of their own sanity and good sense. ”

    “So it came about from 1860 onward that new believers [in Darwinism] became in a sense mentally ill, or, more precisely, either you became mentally ill or you quitted the subject of biology, as I had done in my early teens.” Fred Hoyle – Math & Evolution
    my emphasis

    i.e. Darwinists choose mental illness – and boy does it show!

  16. If you examine Majerus’ though process you will see that it is the same old Darwinian talking points, confusing Augustine with Aquinas, Anselm with Paley, and by extension, CS with ID. No progress can be made in the dialogue until these lapses in logic are sufficiently dramatized. I know, I know, old, boring, stuff. But we can’t discuss statistical inference with people who have not yet mastered arithmetic. They are still accusing us of the Augustian formula, “faith seeking understanding,” which is the creation science battle cry.

    Consider, for example, the notion: “If I can draw him, he must exist.” That is a rather crude, one might say, juvenile formulation of Anselms argument, which, of course, begins with a presupposition—part and parcel of creation science and anathema to intelligent design.
    In other words, when people continue to make the stupid statement that ID is faith based, we cannot just let it go and discuss more advanced topics. The big lie is the problem; repetition is the cure. The fact that it is boring should not keep us from doing what is necessary.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Majerus is stupid, only that he can’t do elementary logic. Wait a minute, that’s the definition of stupid, isn’t it?

  17. [...] Michael Majerus: Peppered Moths DO Rest On Tree Trunks, And Incidentally, God Doesn’t Exist Twenty years ago, well prior to the hubbub about the peppered moth (started in large measure by Majerus himself), evolutionary geneticist Wallace Arthur doubted that industrial melanism — observed in many other taxa besides moths, by the way — provided much, or any, insight into the problem of macroevolution: [...]

  18. “Michael Majerus: Peppered Moths DO Rest On Tree Trunks, And Incidentally, God Doesn’t Exist”

    Unincidentally, using “Science” to justify a religious position can work both ways.

  19. One can’t help but reach the conclusion God doesn’t exist after knowing that peppered moths rest on tree trunks.

  20. That likeness is exactly what I had in mind.

    I’m starting to notice a pattern here. Evolutionary scientist seem to have a high probability of suffering from a genetic defect which manifests itself in a socially unattractive appearance. This disorder naturally causes them to feel like unworthy children, which inturn produces a strong desire for approval. A side effect of this genetic disorder is a second rate intellect. With their strong need for approval, and less than stellar intellect, these suffers gravitate to a field with low requirements to fulfill their feelings of inadequacy. Evolutionary biology is perfectly suited to their condition. The status as professor, while it won’t fool an IDer, provides a source of prestige from their students, and the gullible public. I call this syndrome turpis-liber (latin for ugly child). Turpis-liber explains why evolutionist have such a hard time with ID. ID tells them, in effect, that their father never loved them. This is a message that is very difficult for them to accept.

    Bill, if you’re not too busy you could get another Ph.D. in psychology analyzing this syndrome. Hopefully you come up with a cure for these poor people. This I think is the only possibility we have of helping them to lead a normal life.

  21. “Moreover, he also proved that humans invented him or her.”

    Boy, for creatures that are products of chance and irrationality, those humans sure do a lot of inventing.

  22. Michaels 7

    I like your post. Can you think of any situation where molecules drive information?

  23. One can’t help but reach the conclusion God doesn’t exist after knowing that peppered moths rest on tree trunks.

    lol

  24. 24

    If any of you’s can assure me you look like Brad, Denzel, or Catherine, then you can make fun of this guys looks.

    Everyone is funny-looking if you look at them long enough.

    I’m less concerned about the shape of his nose than I am with the shape of his ideas.

    Feel free to go to town on those.

  25. Does anyone know where the salted moths rest?

    Aisle 4, top shelf, right next to the salted cashews and mixed nuts.

  26. Regarding the peppered moths, there is always the nasty side of the story which Darwinists fail to appreciate.

    If there are varieties of traits within a species, the variety is suggestive of absence of selection, not presence of it. Selection is the enemy of diversity. Thus if varieties have persisted, selection cannot account for the variety, thus selection is a flimsy explanation for what is observed.

    Appeals to balancing selection, etc. have proven insufficient to rescue Darwinism from the obvious consequence of Fisher’s fundamental theorem of natural selection. One simply cannot explain diversity through a mechanism which works by extinguishing diversity.

  27. [...] Paul Nelson highlighted new developments in the Peppered Myth story here. [...]

  28. [...] Uncommon Descent | Michael Majerus: Peppered Moths DO Rest …Aug 28, 2007 … Last week at the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) meeting in Sweden, Michael Majerus of Cambridge University — one of … [...]

  29. [...] have such inflated pronouncements such as: Peppered Moths Rest on Tree Trunks and God Doesn’t Exist or the Darwinists going on and on about new species of birds and fishes that were not really new [...]

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