The Edge Becomes Clearer

Douglas Axe has written an interesting post in which he reviews a recent article by Darwinists and further demonstrates the edge of evolution (i.e., Michael Behe).(1) Darwinists are consistently unable to demonstrate how useful mutations can occur on a level to result in anything other than minor advantages (usually with a single point mutation that just breaks things), and I think Axe’s analogy to computer software is very apt.

By way of analogy, you might easily cause your favorite software to crash by changing a bit or two in the compiled executable file, but you can’t possibly convert it into something altogether different (and equally useful) by such a simple change, or even by a series of such changes with each version improving on the prior one.  To get a substantially new piece of software, you would need to substantially re-engineer the original code knowing that your work wouldn’t pay off until it’s finished.  Darwinism just doesn’t have the patience for this.

Furthermore, returning to the first question, it seems that even humble binding-site conversions are typically beyond the reach of Darwinian evolution.  Durrett and Schmidt conclude that “this type of change would take >100 million years” in a human line [1], which is problematic in view of the fact that the entire history of primates is thought to be shorter than that [3].

Might the prospects be less bleak for more prolific species with shorter generation times?  As it turns out, even there Darwinism appears to be teetering on the brink of collapse.  Choosing fruit flies as a favorable organism, Durrett and Schmidt calculate that what is impossible in humans would take only “a few million years” in these insects.  To get that figure, however, they had to assume that the damage caused buy the first mutation has a negligible effect on fitness.  In other words, they had to leap from “the mutation need not be lethal” to (in effect) ‘the mutation causes no significant harm’.  That’s a big leap.

What happens if we instead assume a small but significant cost—say, a 5% reduction in fitness?  By their math it would then take around 400 million years for the binding-site switch to prove its benefit (if it had one) by becoming fully established in the fruit fly population.  [4] By way of comparison, the whole insect class—the most diverse animal group on the planet—is thought to have come into existence well within that time frame. [5]

Do you see the problem?  On the one hand we’re supposed to believe that the Darwinian mechanism converted a proto-insect into a stunning array of radically different life forms (termites, beetles, ants, wasps, bees, dragonflies, stick insects, aphids, fleas, flies, mantises, cockroaches, moths, butterflies, etc., each group with its own diversity) well within the space of 400 million years.  But on the other hand, when we actually do the math we find that a single insignificant conversion of binding sites would reasonably be expected to consume all of that time.

(1). Bold Biology for 2009

Advertisements

76 Responses

  1. >> “Furthermore, returning to the first question, it seems that even humble binding-site conversions are typically beyond the reach of Darwinian evolution. Durrett and Schmidt conclude….”

    The problem with limiting yourself to creationist sources is that you start out with a second-hand account (because there is no original creationist research), then add to that a contorted interpretation as well. Going no further than the abstract of the D & S paper reveals this pertinent note: “In addition, we use these results to expose flaws in some of Michael Behe’s arguments concerning mathematical limits to Darwinian evolution.”

    Evolution researchers may occasionally strain at a gnat, while you have swallowed the Discovery Institute camel whole.

  2. Going no further than the abstract of the D & S paper reveals this pertinent note: “In addition, we use these results to expose flaws in some of Michael Behe’s arguments concerning mathematical limits to Darwinian evolution.”

    It’s interesting how on the one hand it is said that ID is unfalsifiable nonsense that has never been published in peer reviewed literature and so on while on the other ID arguments are said to be falsified in peer reviewed literature.

    Ironically Darwinists should be the first to seek mathematical limits to evolution, they should be the first to seek its “edge,” perhaps even going so far as to use the theory of natural selection to trace a testable trajectory of adaptation and then actually verify or falsify it. If there is no edge to evolution and no definable mathematical limits to the so-called “theory of evolution” then it is merely hypothetical goo.

    The closest that someone here has come to actually specifying much about the hypothetical goo typical to “evolution” was when John pointed out that a nested hierarchy is a “mathematical relationship” predicted by common descent but this type of specification/verification may be an illusion brought about by the prevalent assumption that common design does not exist and the consistent censorship of ideas about common design. Common descent should be debated rather than merely assumed as a working hypothesis, just as ID arguments should be debated in the peer reviewed literature and scientific forums in general instead of being censored and excluded from science while supposedly also being falsified scientifically.

  3. …that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1: 19-21)

    By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

    These two scriptures came to mind as I read your post!

  4. 2nd verse is Hebrews 11: 3

  5. Ragnarok?

    From the poem: Völuspá

    It sates itself on the life-blood
    of fated men,
    paints red the powers’ homes
    with crimson gore.
    Black become the sun’s beams
    in the summers that follow,
    weathers all treacherous.

    Do you still seek to know? And what?[8]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnar%C3%B6k

  6. Shrink: “How’s life Olorin?”

    Life here on makai-side Maui is no ka ‘oi. Sorry for not choosing an appropriate name, such as humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Our church home in the Islands, Keawala’i Congregational, was founded in 1832, not long after the first (Buddhist) missionaries had arrived from Japan. The present sanctuary dates from 1854. The adjacent cemetery goes way back to the time of the kupuna. We do the liturgy and hymns in Hawaiian. The kahu, Rev. Keahalou Aliki was born and raised near Kona.

  7. Sounds very nifty. You should have chosen, “humuhumunukunukuapua’a.” That might have taken me a bit longer to figure out. 😉

    You’ve been missing out on all the lovely weather we’ve been having. My Goldwing has a 3 ft snow drift in front of it. Oh well, it’s supposed to hit 59 on Saturday, so I should be able to get 200-300 miles in. 😉

    DB, I agree!

  8. mynym wrote:

    Ironically Darwinists should be the first to seek mathematical limits to evolution, they should be the first to seek its “edge,” perhaps even going so far as to use the theory of natural selection to trace a testable trajectory of adaptation and then actually verify or falsify it. If there is no edge to evolution and no definable mathematical limits to the so-called “theory of evolution” then it is merely hypothetical goo.

    But they don’t think there is any need to seek the mathematical limits to evolution. They know their theory is true. It has to be. It’s the only option. The only thing they focus on is trying to continuously add layers of complexity to their “theory” as they are continuously “surprised” by the fact that things were more complex than they thought before. Their edge of evolution is “goo-to-you-and-beyond.” To the Darwinist, evolution is unlimited in its ability to create biological complexity as a powerful, blind, and dumb process.

  9. Quoth mynym: “It’s interesting how on the one hand it is said that ID is unfalsifiable nonsense that has never been published in peer reviewed literature and so on while on the other ID arguments are said to be falsified in peer reviewed literature.”

    Two separate aspects are being conflated here. “ID” per se is not a scientific theory, and thus cannot be falsified. However, ID proponents make other arguments that can be falsified. None of Behe’s arguments in Edge are arguments for ID. They are all arguments against specific aspects of the scientific theory of evolution, and thus can be falsified.

    (Must go now. Time for our weekly pupu party on the beach.)

  10. “The only thing they focus on is trying to continuously add layers of complexity to their “theory” as they are continuously “surprised” by the fact that things were more complex than they thought before.”

    You’ll just have to make up your mind, Shrink: (A) Arrogant scientists smugly think they know everything and will never change their minds, or (B) Shifty stupid scientists keep changing their minds when new evidence pops up. Your choice, but please stick with it.

  11. Shrink: “My Goldwing has a 3 ft snow drift in front of it.”

    You have a Goldwing? I’m jealous.
    (My ride is a VW Fahrenheit with chipped engine, Euro-spec suspension and DSG (2 three-speed transmissions, each with its own clutch, and paddle shifters on the steering wheel.) Probably the nearest I can ever get to a European Audi S3.)

    You have 3 feet of snow? Not jealous.
    (Nearby Kahului hit 54 degrees one night last week. Broke an all-time record for low temp there. Ever. The natives shivered. We just laughed.)

  12. Olorin writes:

    You’ll just have to make up your mind, Shrink: (A) Arrogant scientists smugly think they know everything and will never change their minds, or (B) Shifty stupid scientists keep changing their minds when new evidence pops up. Your choice, but please stick with it.

    Here’s the important distinction. They KNOW common descent occurred. That’s a fact to them, and no it’s not because of the data. They KNOW abiogenesis occurred, and no it’s not because of the data. The only way they ever change their minds is for HOW it occurred. Every time they look in the mirror all they see is evidence of stupid design. They KNOW no designer was involved. This is based on philosophical naturalism. There are no other options.

    As Cornelius Hunter of Darwin’s Predictions writes:

    And after Kant the great French mathematician and scientist, Pierre Laplace repeated the argument. Laplace and Kant are, to this day, credited with elucidating the foundational thesis of the evolution of the solar system. They both were quite certain their reasoning had led to a new truth. This was no mere hypothesis or theory.

    The key here is that random design was viewed as the default option against which natural evolution is tested. Random design was, in twentieth century terminology, the null hypothesis. Null hypothesis testing was formalized in the last century, but it was alive and well in the seventeenth century as well.

    Like astronomy, biology also reveals many patterns. And like Bernoulli, Kant and Laplace, Darwin proved his theory of evolution to be true using random design as the null hypothesis. Darwin cited patterns that revealed biological designs are not random. Echoing Kant, Darwin rhetorically asked, “Why should not Nature take a sudden leap from structure to structure?” For Darwin biology revealed consistent patterns. “We never find the bones of the arm and forearm, or of the thigh and leg, transposed.” This was his null hypothesis: unconstrained, random design. Its failure and the patterns in biology left non evolutionary explanations “hopeless.” [4]

    Following Darwin, evolutionists continued to interpret patterns in biology as proofs of their theory. [5] Everything from blood immunity data to chimp-human DNA comparisons are, for Darwinists, mandates for common descent, regardless of evidential difficulties. [6] The important point here is that evolution is viewed as the only alternative to random design. As Fig. 14 illustrates, any pattern or non randomness that is observed is interpreted as a product of evolution because random design is the only alternative.

    See also my previous post: Naturalism is true; therefore, evolution is a fact.

  13. Not only is Evolution factual but it fits every scientific discipline from geology to physics

    The Christian Myth is quite obviously and easily shown to be false, so what are the ID people even offering up as an alternative to evolution. For ID to make any sense an intelligent agent would have to pop in and perform a creation event millions of times over hundreds of millions of years. That agent waited over three billion years to make his first move. Simple organisms were created first, then those that are more complex all in a perfect progression. If a creator had been involved it is ironic that he has made things look exactly as if evolution were happening. Even in our own lifetimes new bacteria have evolved. There are bacteria that can eat nylon that never existed before the advent of nylon.

  14. “Here’s the important distinction. They KNOW common descent occurred. That’s a fact to them, and no it’s not because of the data. They KNOW abiogenesis occurred, and no it’s not because of the data.”

    Surprise, surprise! It is because of the data. What other reason makes any sense? A worldwide conspiracy of 484,000 research biologists? Why? To protect their careers? Pardon me, but that’s a load of dingoes kidneys. To join some exclusive club with a secret handshake? Come on. Remember that, in the early 20thC, before Mendelian genetics got integrated into the new synthesis, a great many biologists were a least highly dubious of Darwinian evolution. What changed their minds? The evidence.

    On the other hand, non-scientific motivations for denying evolution abound. Almost all are religious. Even the supposedly non-religious IDers, such as David Berlinski, are philosophically uncomfortable with it. How else can you reject a theory for which tons of evidence exist, while believing in intelligent design, for which there is no positive scientific evidence whatever?

    It is beyond doubt that acceptance of evolution is highly correlated with education—especially education in the biological and geological sciences. The more people know about it, the more they accept it. The correlation is even stronger in countries where the local religion does not seem to pose any obstacles. India and China are 100% on-board, for example.

    Do you really, in your heart of hearts, believe that all those scientists are deluded, hypocritical or outright dishonest? If so, do you still trust them to discover new drugs for you, to find new oil fields, to inspect your food supply? If so, please justify your actions.

    If you’re still unconvinced, ask yourself how you can reject evolution, yet accept quantum theory, which flies i the face of common sense ans experience: where an atom can decay without any cause, where an electron can be in two different places at once, where two particles separated by light-years can affect each other instantaneously? Quantum theory is much harder to swallow than evolution. The difference is that quantum theory does not challenge religious beliefs.

  15. Quantum theory is much harder to swallow than evolution. The difference is that quantum theory does not challenge religious beliefs.

    Depends in part on what’s meant by “quantum theory” and in part on what’s meant by “religious beliefs,” right? Einstein, for example, held a priori that the universe has a determinate causal structure at every level of description, and rejected the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics for that very reason. Or so I understand the situation, at any rate.

    And of course there are many people for whom evolution doesn’t challenge their religious or metaphysical views at all — it all depends on the details.

  16. And of course there are many people for whom evolution doesn’t challenge their religious or metaphysical views at all — it all depends on the details.

    No, Carl, it doesn’t depend on the “details,” it is dependent on the Truth of God!

  17. I was not speaking in terms of what is true, but in terms of whether the beliefs in question provoke people to take issue with evolution or not — likewise with quantum mechanics. It was not a remark about what is true or false about reality, but a remark about human psychology: whether or not one accepts some belief depends, in part, whether or not it is consistent with the family of beliefs he or she already accepts. Einstein held beliefs which provoked him to take issue with the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics. Bohr, obviously, was not bothered.

  18. DB: “No, Carl, it doesn’t depend on the ‘details,’ it is dependent on the Truth of God!”

    I think you just proved Carl’s point. Your Truth of God differs from Carl’s Truth of God, and from my Truth of God, and from Mohamed Atta’s Truth of God, which called for the destruction of the World Trade Center. When you are absolutely sure of what God thinks, then maybe you have defined God in your own image.

    There seem to be a lot of people whose Truth of God is compatible with evolution. Can you deny that?

  19. Carl: “Depends in part on what’s meant by ‘quantum theory’ and in part on what’s meant by ‘religious beliefs,’ right? Einstein, for example, held a priori that the universe has a determinate causal structure at every level of description….”

    True, as to religious beliefs. And religion fades into metaphysics and philosophy. I wouldn’t consider any of Einstein’s beliefs to be religious. His “Der Alte” was almost certainly neither more nor less than the natural universe. As to QT, I mentioned 3 phenomena that are all entailed in the theory. People may take issue with 1, 2, 3, or N of them. Lack of causality (EPR paradox) probably gives theological ulcers to more people than the others.

    But it depends. Leibniz rejected Newton’s gravitational “force” on theological grounds. God, he said, could not be reduced to a mere force between bodies. Now no one has a problem with that. Vitalism held that organic chemicals could only be made by God. Then urea was synthesized in 1896. Today, that’s a non-issue. Tomorrow … who knows?

    PS: Unlike the past few days, the sunset was its usual gorgeous just now. Perfect, except for no green flash. Not everyone sees it when it’s there, but today no one saw it when the conch was blown.

  20. Olorin,

    He who conceals hatred has lying lips,
    And he who spreads slander is a fool. Proverbs 10: 18

    The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
    But a wise man is he who listens to counsel. Proverbs 12: 15

    The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
    But the hearts of fools are not so. Proverbs 15: 7

    A fool does not delight in understanding,
    But only in revealing his own mind. Proverbs 18: 2

    Take notes!

    Bye Bye!

  21. Olorin,

    A question! Are your familiar with the Urantia book?

  22. DB: “A question! Are your familiar with the Urantia book?”

    Not much more than the name and a bit of its provenance—or lack thereof. I’ve heard that it is as big as a Manhattan telephone directory, and has about the same amount of style.

    I do have a well-thumbed Book of Mormon, which seems to have a similar theme.

    If you’re into alternative history, and like really long books that are much better written, you might try Harry Turtledove. I’m just now finishing up his “Colonization” series, which starts out with an alien invasion of Tesov 3 (alias Urantia) in 1942, right in the muddle of WWII. Unfortunately, the aliens’ last probe to Tesov 3 was in 1200 AD, so their projected easy conquest went somewhat awry. And, since their other conquests had been so facile, the humans were often able to obtain advantage by lying, cheating, and stealing where they could not win militarily. As of the last book (alt. 1970), WWII was still going on, although mostly as a three-sided old war among US/Canada, Germany/France/England, and the USSR. China, Australia, and Africa are held by the aliens. Makes you think about how things could have been. Earl Warren as president of the US, V.M. Molotov in the USSR, for example. Being a history professor at Berkeley, Turtledove draws his characters accurately.

  23. A worldwide conspiracy of 484,000 research biologists? Why? To protect their careers? Pardon me, but that’s a load of dingoes kidneys. To join some exclusive club with a secret handshake?

    It wasn’t so long ago that the vast majority of biologists were eugenicists. In fact, much like other forms of Darwinism many sought to make adherence to such views the definition of “science” itself:

    For the biologists, the test of a scientific outlook was generally identified with a society’s attitude towards eugenics; that is, its willingness to adopt a genuinely scientific stance towards questions of what used to be called “race betterment.” The Marxist and Fabian biologists believed that Western societies had largely failed this test. (Eugenics and the Left by Diane Paul
    Journal of the History of Ideas,
    Vol. 45, No. 4. (Oct. – Dec., 1984), pp. :569)

    Do you think that a worldwide conspiracy was necessary?

    On the other hand, non-scientific motivations for denying evolution abound. Almost all are religious.

    Many people who denied the eugenic consensus were religious, in fact to the degree that the “Jewish influence” was strong many denied eugenic principles. Is it always wrong to deny the “consensus” of biologists for religious reasons?

    How else can you reject a theory for which tons of evidence exist….

    Evolution is not a theory, it’s a collection of hypotheses which apparently allows for people to cite their own imaginations as the equivalent of empirical evidence while even going so far as to condemn critics for a “failure of the imagination.” When imagining things about the past is included as if it is evidence then it is little wonder that tons of evidence exists.

    It is beyond doubt that acceptance of evolution is highly correlated with education —especially education in the biological and geological sciences. The more people know about it, the more they accept it.

    Would it be surprising to you that acceptance of eugenics was highly correlated with education, especially education in evolutionary biology?

    Do you really, in your heart of hearts, believe that all those scientists are deluded, hypocritical or outright dishonest?

    Perhaps…. do you really believe that all scientists are pure as the driven snow and only seek true knowledge no matter what? Note that many already say that they are seeking explanations which seem natural to them, not the truth, so one should not be surprised if they fail to find the truth of things.

    If so, do you still trust them to discover new drugs for you, to find new oil fields, to inspect your food supply? If so, please justify your actions.

    Is our reliance on Islamic nations for oil evidence that we ought to trust their take on origins or adhere to their worldview? The irrationality of this shift away from fact, logic and evidence and towards the propaganda typical to identity politics has always interested me.

    Why do you suppose that debates about origins so often shift to a debate about the professional identity of scientists?

  24. Not only is Evolution factual but it fits every scientific discipline from geology to physics.

    Not only that but it also seems to fit all possible empirical observations. Amazing, isn’t it?

    The Christian Myth is quite obviously and easily shown to be false…

    I’m not sure what you mean by the Christian myth but if you mean a general Christian genesis such as: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” then that is not easily shown to be false.

    …so what are the ID people even offering up as an alternative to evolution.

    ID people generally are not offering an alternative to “evolution” because evolution is rooted in hypothetical goo which can comport with all empirical observations.

    That agent waited over three billion years to make his first move. Simple organisms were created first, then those that are more complex all in a perfect progression.

    The fossil record does not show “perfect progression,” nor is the sort of creative progression necessary to explain the origins of all the specification and form observed in living species observed in the way that they unfold and evolve currently.

    If a creator had been involved it is ironic that he has made things look exactly as if evolution were happening.

    It’s telling that people have to be willing to imagine things about the past in order for things to look exactly as if constructive and progressive forms of evolution are happening.

    Even in our own lifetimes new bacteria have evolved. There are bacteria that can eat nylon that never existed before the advent of nylon.

    As I once noted here* there’s a difference between constructive and destructive processes even when a destructive process happens to benefit survival.

    *A hypothetical analogy with a touch of satire might help illustrate the difference between construction and destruction: If a group of humans existed and only those without hands survived because they couldn’t eat a poisonous form of food then it wouldn’t make sense for them to argue that the generally destructive process of survival and death which they could observe brought about humans and hands in the first place. All they would actually be observing is a general reduction in form and function which benefited survival their environment, after whatever original capacity for form and adaptation they had thanks to their origins was played out they would most likely simply go extinct. Some of them might try to point to processes of death and destruction as “evidence” or an “explanation” for the origins of life, form and function but eventually they wouldn’t have the hands to do so.

    Similarly, if you had a lobotomy and %50 of your brain was removed and that happened by an evolutionary “happenstance” to benefit your survival you’d still be left as a hypothetical half-wit.

  25. For the 10^Nth time, mynym confuses science with social policy. As a group, scientists have no more claim to expertise in social policy than, say, architects.[1] That’s why bioethics groups include clergy, philosophers, and laymen as well as scientists.

    “For the biologists, the test of a scientific outlook was generally identified with a society’s attitude towards eugenics….” And in Nazi Germany, a test of a proper Christian outlook included killing Jews. Remember “Gott mit uns”? Remember Martin Luther and the pogroms initiated by “good” Christians who thought they were carrying out the will of God. Do these attitudes refute Christian theology? Just so, the social attitudes of scientists, are hors d’oeuvres of their theories. They can claim no special insight in applying their theories to social issues, because setting social policy involves much more than science alone.[2]

    The logical error here, as mynym is well aware, is the poisoned well: the theory is false because people did evil things in its name. Is Christianity false because many priests sexually abused children?

    “Evolution is not a theory, it’s a collection of hypotheses which apparently allows for people to cite their own imaginations as the equivalent of empirical evidence while even going so far as to condemn critics for a “failure of the imagination.” When imagining things about the past is included as if it is evidence then it is little wonder that tons of evidence exists.”

    Darwinian evolution is a theory of common descent arising from heritable variation, overfecundity, and selection. Within that framework, there are many subsidiary hypotheses, some of which have been confirmed, some disputed, some overthrown by new evidence. Testing continues; perhaps someday we shall find that the whole megillah is partially or even totally wrong. But so far….[3]

    Rag: “If so, do you still trust them to discover new drugs for you, to find new oil fields, to inspect your food supply? If so, please justify your actions. Myn: “Is our reliance on Islamic nations for oil evidence that we ought to trust their take on origins or adhere to their worldview?’

    The fallacy here is ignoratio elenchi. My question was, do you trust scientists to perform scientific tasks when you doubt their scientific credibility? The counterquestion was, do I trust Muslims to sell me stuff they dig out of the ground when I doubt their theology? Unless you believe that an Islamic worldview necessarily entails deceitful business practices, I fail to see the connection.

    “Why do you suppose that debates about origins so often shift to a debate about the professional identity of scientists?”

    Because the poisoned-well argument seems to be a favorite of creationists.[4] I rarely see scientists making a fuss about, say, the moral standards of clergy—or at least any more fuss than the general public makes. Scientists are, believe it or not, human beings. I know many, both professionally and personally. Scientists are not science. Where science excels is in understanding and controlling the natural world. The reason is not that it is oracular (like religions), but that has mechanisms for self-correction: peer review for completeness of research, publication for evincing opposing views, replication for validity of results. The process occasionally fails, but seems to right itself and carry on.[5] I much prefer that to religious disputes, which frequently involve stakes and swords.

    ============
    [1] You have to admit that the eugenicists were right, in that people can indeed be bred like dogs to achieve (some) desired characteristics. The arch-Darwinists of 4thC BC Sparta laid down strict rules as to who could marry who, and they left “defective” newborns on the hillside to die. The question is not can it be done, but rather, is it ethical, and to what extent.

    [2] Richard Dawkins’ attempts to disprove God is of the same ilk. How do his scientific credentials qualify him in theology? Many people by a car because a famous actor does a commercial on TV. Again, what are his relevant qualifications? (Well, maybe I’d buy a Porsche 550 from James Dean, or a 1954 Hudson Hornet from Paul Newman….)

    [3] We don’t “imagine” the past any more than astronomers “imagine” stellar processes because they can’t perform experiments on stars, or “imagine” their histories because they can’t observe stars changing from one form to another. I hope you never get to serve on a jury where the defendant’s guilt must be ascertained only on the basis of circumstantial evidence, such as DNA or fingerprints or—heaven forfend—motive. No eyewitness, no conviction. Nosiree.

    [4] Remember the brouhaha last year as to whether Darwin had renounced his theory on his deathbed? About Thomas Jefferson’s views as a naturalist? And many others.

    [5] The mortal sin of research is dishonesty. Cf. the fudged results of Hwang and Verfaille. Even plagiarism is a killer, as Gray et al. very recently discovered to their detriment. (Gray MW, Burger G, Lang BF. 2001. The origin and early evolution of mitochondria. Genome Biology 2 (6): reviews1018.1–1018.5.)

  26. For the 10^Nth time, mynym confuses science with social policy.

    Your argument conflated science with a form of social consensus. I merely pointed out that the old consensus was eugenics.

    You said: A worldwide conspiracy of 484,000 research biologists? Why? To protect their careers? Pardon me, but that’s a load of dingoes kidneys.

    So my question is, why was there generally a worldwide consensus and movement for eugenics? Was it a worldwide conspiracy among researchers or were they taking small observations and “micro” theories and engaging in charlatanism by claiming a vast amount of knowledge about biological progress in the future and so on? If they were engaging in “macro” charlatanism based on “micro” observations and claiming a vast knowledge of future progress based on it then couldn’t Darwinists also claim a vast “consensus” knowledge about progress in the past in the same way? It seems that the only difference between charlatanism of this sort would be that one form was rooted in claims about knowledge of future progress and one is rooted in claims in claims about knowledge of past progress.

    The logical error here, as mynym is well aware, is the poisoned well: the theory is false because people did evil things in its name. Is Christianity false because many priests sexually abused children?

    If they pointed to Christian reasoning and Christian texts to justify their abuse of children then one could look at their conceptual or text based arguments. They do not do that because they know that Christianity has nothing to do with it. On the other hand Darwinian theory does have something to do with eugenics and the conflation of breeding by natural selection with artificial selection, etc. It also had something to do with charlatanism with respect to a supposed knowledge of future and past biological progress. (For all the claims about past Darwinian progress in forms of functional complexity and so on the actual process almost never seems to be observed empirically at present. Note that creative forms of evolution should be pervasive.)

    The theory is not false based on a general view of the total truth (ethics, philosophy, history, etc.) instead of the myopic view often typical to science because people justified evil things in its name in some loose or incorrect way. It is false because they are justified in doing evil things in its name. For example, if a priest abused a child and argued that doing so comported with the teachings of Christ one could point out that Jesus supported an ideal of marriage and one could point to texts in which he said it would be better for a person to be cast into the sea than to cause a little one to stumble. Priests who abuse children do not even bother to make a conceptual or textual argument because everyone would know it to be false based on a very basic understanding of the spirit/meaning of Christianity. On the other hand, when someone like Margaret Sangers argues that it would be better if poor children were eliminated through abortion and justifies her views based on the basic spirit/meaning of Darwinian thinking it is not apparent that she is incorrect, probably because she is not.

    You have to admit that the eugenicists were right, in that people can indeed be bred like dogs to achieve (some) desired characteristics.

    I admit that the eugenicists were right just like evolutionists are right in a very “micro” sort of way. But someone who is not mindful of basic distinctions like Dawkins has gone so far as to claim that musical or mathematical ability can be bred for. Would you agree with that?

    The arch-Darwinists of 4thC BC Sparta laid down strict rules as to who could marry who, and they left “defective” newborns on the hillside to die.

    That’s because Darwinian naturalism is a variant of Nature based paganism.

    The question is not can it be done, but rather, is it ethical, and to what extent.

    If evolutionists are allowed to turn the myopic and “micro” observations typical to science into a vast mythology of Progress which explains all, including ethics, there are no limitations. But if there are limitations then “evolution” is not the be all, end all, that evolutionists often make it out to be.

  27. My question was, do you trust scientists to perform scientific tasks when you doubt their scientific credibility?

    Do you trust that the theory of gravity holds even when you doubt Newton’s view on the origins, structure and roots of his scientia/knowledge? Shall I argue that you should not use a cell phone unless you agree that James Maxwell’s view of the origins of his knowledge was correct?

    Your arguments are very blunt and propagandistic. It would take a little refining but in the end of course I would be less likely to trust a Darwinist to perform certain scientific tasks just as a I would be less likely to trust an abortionist to deliver my baby.

    You use the word “science” as a cudgel but science is not an epistemic equalizer, different forms of science are not equal. It’s in the interests of scientists whose science is weak to use the word “science” in a crude way while making arguments of association with stronger forms of refined science. That’s probably why evolutionary biologists murmur the term “science” as if it is a magic word and engage in arguments of association so often.

  28. mynym: “Do you trust that the theory of gravity holds even when you doubt Newton’s view on the origins, structure and roots of his scientia/knowledge? Shall I argue that you should not use a cell phone unless you agree that James Maxwell’s view of the origins of his knowledge was correct?”

    Those are consequences of your argument, not of mine. My argument is that Newton’s & Maxwell’s views have no effect on whether their theories are correct or not. Their views on anything: religion, social policy, the source of their knowledge, even whether they themselves believed in their own theories.

    Mynym: “different forms of science are not equal.”

    I was not aware that science comes in different forms. Pray what might they be, and in what way(s) are they not equal?

  29. My argument is that Newton’s & Maxwell’s views have no effect on whether their theories are correct or not.

    You seem to be setting yourself up to judge things from a totally objective or transcendent perspective in some way. But your argument is wrong and you are not necessarily the judge of what their scientia/knowledge is or whether it is correct or not. They said that their knowledge was rooted in theism and only made sense given that so why shouldn’t one believe them rather than you? In the case of Newton his view of the world as a sort of Cosmic cryptogram clearly inspired his obsessive search for knowledge, so why should one believe that theism is supposedly irrelevant or a “science stopper” and so on.

    Their views on anything: religion, social policy, the source of their knowledge, even whether they themselves believed in their own theories.

    You almost seem to be arguing that we can have scientia/knowledge sans sentience and beliefs while also claiming to be the one to speak from such a perspective. Do you have beliefs or are you “purely” objective?

    At any rate, I certainly would take into account a scientist’s view on the source of their knowledge.

    (A side note for Christians, it seems to me that the Christ said to the cold toads of his day who kept things clean, clean, safe and pure that they were actually dead in the head. They are like white washed sepulchers, supposedly objectively clean and pure and capable of reducing all to Law but it seems that they’ve killed themselves in the process. As subjective creatures of sin they do not have a knowledge of the Law, nor do they keep the Law. So I say to the cold toads of our day when they look with their beady little eyes to render judgment, go dissect yourself.)

    I was not aware that science comes in different forms. Pray what might they be, and in what way(s) are they not equal?

    Hypotheses are not theories and so on while different fields of study call for different methods and some fields of study have more advanced knowledge than others. Do you honestly think that all “science” is equal? I ask because biologists typically seem to think that if something is scientific then it may as well be the theory of gravity, etc. Views of that sort are the material of satire, yet examples abound.

  30. It seems that you didn’t answer my question. Why was there generally a worldwide consensus and movement for eugenics?

    I repeat it because if you begin to answer it then you may find many possible answers to your own question: A worldwide conspiracy of 484,000 research biologists? Why?

  31. mynym: “It seems that you didn’t answer my question. Why was there generally a worldwide consensus and movement for eugenics?”

    First, there was not a consensus. A consensus occurs when it becomes perverse to hold a contrary view. Certainly a number of high-profile biologists embraced eugenics; but then so did a number of high-profile legislators and jurists: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Not a consensus.

    I don’t know why there was a movement for eugenics. Sparta had one in 4thC BC, and you can’t pin that on Darwin. I might guess that, because this was a can-do, full-speed-ahead period in American & European history when people commonly believed that science & technology could solve all our problems, the attitude was, if we can do it, then we should do it.

    mynym: “if you begin to answer it then you may find many possible answers to your own question: A worldwide conspiracy of 484,000 research biologists? Why?”

    A conspiracy is an agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act. Even if, as you claim, there was a consensus for eugenics, why would this entail a conspiracy? And how might such conspiracy affect the validity of the theory of evolution? Almost all Christians believe in the Trinity. Is this too a conspiracy? My question used the word “conspiracy” to denote an agreement not to pursue a line of research for which there was scientific evidence, or the deliberate withholding of evidence against evolution or for creationism. I am still wondering what rationale you might have for proposing such a conspiracy?

  32. Olorin said,

    A consensus occurs when it becomes perverse to hold a contrary view.

    Therefore, Darwinism is a “consensus!”

  33. First, there was not a consensus. A consensus occurs when it becomes perverse to hold a contrary view.

    If there was not a consensus on eugenics then Darwinism is not a consensus now. It can easily be argued that there is more opposition to Darwinism now than there was to eugenics then. There was an “overwhelming” consensus to the point that eugenics was taught in high school text books. A historical side note on this point, William Jennings Bryan noticed the proto-Nazi tendencies of the people writing such text books and tried to oppose them. Yet what many people know of Bryan is only false caricature attributed to anyone who challenges proto-Nazi paganism or Nature based mythologies of Progress like the Darwinian creation myth. So many think that Bryan was merely an ignorant rube who opposed Progress, despite the fact that he was a populist progressive and so on.

    Certainly a number of high-profile biologists embraced eugenics; but then so did a number of high-profile legislators and jurists… Not a consensus.

    What biologists published scientific papers against eugenic principles and so on? If a “number” of high-profile biologists embraced eugenics then what high-profile biologists publicly opposed it? Did they oppose it based on science? Was their opposition allowed to be taught in schools, was it published in text books, did it become part of the public language?

    As Chesterton noted, for all the complains about fundamentalism or ID leading to theocracy and so on:

    The thing that really is trying to tyrannise through government is Science. The thing that really does use the secular arm is Science. And the creed that really is levying tithes and capturing schools, the creed that really is enforced by fine and imprisonment, the creed that really is proclaimed not in sermons but in statutes, and spread not by pilgrims but by policemen–that creed is the great but disputed system of thought which began with Evolution and has ended in Eugenics.
    (Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized Society by G.K. Chesterton
    (With Additional Articles by his Eugenic and Birth Control Opponents, edited by Michael W. Perry)

    Many of Chesterton’s arguments apply with equal force to modern Darwinists and the charlatanism typical to them. Note the “overwhelming” consensus on Darwinian eugenics that Chesterton was referring to:

    American eugenicists enjoyed a gargantuan research establishment, well funded and well staffed. The list of official and quasi-official bodies supporting or engaged in eugenical activities was long: the Carnegie Institution’s Experimental Station, the Eugenics Record Office, the Eugenics Section of the American Breeders Association (which had by now changed its name to the American Genetic Association), the U.S. Army, the Department of Agriculture, the Labor Department, agencies of the State Department, and a Committee of Congress. Moreover, scores of state, county and municipal agencies and institutions added their contributions, as did a network of biology, zoology, genetic and eugenic departments at some of the country’s most respected private and state universities. Buttressing all of it was a network of organizations, such as the Eugenics Research Association in New York, the Human Betterment Foundation in California, the Race Betterment Foundation in Michigan, as well as professional organizations throughout the medical and scientific fields.
    (War Against the Weak: Eugenics and
    America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race by Edwin Black :219)

    I don’t know why there was a movement for eugenics. Sparta had one in 4thC BC, and you can’t pin that on Darwin.

    Darwin was warned that his revival of Nature based paganism in the name of gradualism/naturalism would lead back to “survival of the fittest” but like many biologists he was simply too myopic to see the whole truth of things. For example, in the Descent of Man he describe the emergence of master races as a supposed scientific fact which was inevitable while relegating opposition to this pattern(including his own) as the mere vestiges of some “noble instinct.” Despite his humility as a person he could not see that things like his cultural context might have something to do with his “scientific facts.” It’s a curious mix of blinding myopia combined with a vast hubris with respect to knowledge that has typified many of the biologists I’ve debated as well.

    …the attitude was, if we can do it, then we should do it.

    Not at all, the attitude was that if Darwinism is actually true then our application of it follows and flows from it, naturally enough. There is no “should,” it simply follows from what is on purely scientific grounds. Given this view things like the “Jewish influence” and the Jewish creation myth, i.e. creationism, are like an organism* which will go extinct as a result of a natural progression that is inevitable. We know this by science, there is no “should” or “should not.”

    My question used the word “conspiracy” to denote an agreement not to pursue a line of research for which there was scientific evidence, or the deliberate withholding of evidence against evolution or for creationism. I am still wondering what rationale you might have for proposing such a conspiracy?

    I did not propose a conspiracy, you did. I did not argue that consensus comes about by a “deliberate conspiracy” to withhold evidence but that does not mean that the withholding of evidence does not occur. For example:

    The most negative of all strategies-a quite unconscious conspiracy of silence-dictated the canonical response of paleontologists to their observations of stasis. Again, a “culprit” may be identified in the ineluctable embedding of observation within theory. Facts have no independent existence in science, or in any human endeavor; theories grant differing weights, values, and descriptions, even to the most empirical and undeniable of observations. Darwin’s expectations defined evolution as gradual change. Generations of paleontologists learned to equate the potential documentation of evolution with the discovery of insensible intermediacy in a sequence of fossils. In this context, stasis can only record sorrow and disappointment.
    Paleontologists therefore came to view stasis as just another failure to document evolution. Stasis existed in overwhelming abundance, as every paleontologist knew. But this primary signal of the fossil record, defined as an absence of data for evolution, only highlighted our frustration-and certainly did not represent anything worth publishing. Paleontology therefore fell into a literally absurd vicious circle. No one ventured to document or quantify-indeed, hardly anyone even bothered to mention or publish at all-the most common pattern in the fossil record: the stasis of most morpho-species throughout all their geological duration.
    (The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (Harvard College) by Stephen Jay Gould :759-760) (Emphasis added)

    No deliberate conspiracy is necessary for a false consensus to emerge from the hypothetical goo typical to evolution, naturally enough. Your appeals to the worldwide consensus of the Herd are rather ironic. But at any rate, do you think that ID and creationism are not scientific topics and that they should be censored from scientific discussions?

  34. But at any rate, do you think that ID and creationism are not scientific topics and that they should be censored from scientific discussions?

    If you want to really do Luskin, Behe, and Dembski a favor, you’ll follow their lead in distinguishing between intelligent design and creationism. (Unless intelligent design really is creationism in disguise after all!)

    To be honest, I think that there is an important difference between them, and not because the Discovery Institute insists that there is. Creationism, I’ll maintain, is untestable, because it requires a priori commitments which are insulated from scrutiny. Intelligent design is a different animal altogether, and it is testable. (I say “untestable” rather than “unfalsifiable” because of philosophical objections to Popper’s falsifiability criterion.) And I’ll go one step further: intelligent design would still be testable even if it is necessarily committed to claims about supernatural agency. (Does this mean that I reject “methodological naturalism”?)

    My only complaint, really, is that the hypothesis of design is an “inferior” explanation, compared with the hypothesis of the modern synthesis. But I am all in favor of having both taught in biology courses; it’s only in terms of the contrast that the explanatory power of the hypothesis of the modern synthesis can be clearly brought into view.

    Now, of course the hypothesis of the modern synthesis does not explain everything that we want explanations of. In particular, I think the design proponents are exactly right to point out that we do not have a good explanation of the origins of major clades (of “body-plans,” if you will), of the origins of life, and the origins of phenotypic variation remain murky. Moreover, it is not difficult to see that the modern synthesis rests on an uncashed IOU — that phenotypic variations can be explained in terms of genetic mutations. In one sense this is true — but exactly what that sense is, remains unclear.

    However, merely pointing out that the hypothesis does not explain everything that needs to be explained is never, by itself, a recommendation for an alternative hypothesis. What must be done is show that the alternative can do most (if not all) of the explanatory work done by the first hypothesis, and then some. This, intelligent design has thus far failed to do.

    The failure of intelligent design is instructive in one significant way. Design theory has proceeded entirely by arguing as follows: “if A or B, and not-A, then B.” (Or, in Dembski’s terms, “if A or B or C, and not-A and not-B, then C”)

    But scientific reasoning is not reducible to set theory, and it is a mark of the lack of scientific training on the part of most design proponents that they do not see that this is so. Instead, scientific reasoning is better modeled using the far more complex machinery that allows us to conceptualize formally the sorts of probabilistic inductive inferences that are central to modern scientific practice. For example, Bayesian epistemology.

  35. Rag: …the attitude was, if we can do it, then we should do it.”

    Myn: Not at all, the attitude was that if Darwinism is actually true then our application of it follows and flows from it, naturally enough. There is no “should,” it simply follows from what is on purely scientific grounds.

    It seems impossible to convince Mynym that the truth of a scientific theory is independent of the ethics or social desirability of a particular application of that theory. This is also, of course, the deliberate point of the movie “Expelled: No Intelligence.” Eugenics is evil, eugenics is an application of evolution, ergo evolution is incorrect. We have been around that same block several times in this thread alone, and that simple concept keeps getting denied.

    There is a test for creationists. They were given ten blocks of wood, and a board with ten correspondingly shaped holes. Half of them flunked. The conclusion was that half of creationists are very stupid and the other half are very strong.

  36. mynym: “I did not propose a conspiracy, you did. I did not argue that consensus comes about by a “deliberate conspiracy” to withhold evidence but that does not mean that the withholding of evidence does not occur.”

    Casey Luskin: “Most Darwinists involved in the public debate today have one, and only one goal: To stifle free debate on this subject and thereby discourage you, the public, from scrutinizing the scientific evidence for yourself.” (Newsweek, yesterday, at http://www.usnews.com/blogs/room-for-debate/2009/02/12/darwin-believers-hide-fears-of-intelligent-design-behind-a-wall-of-denial-and-ridicule.html)

    This is the language of conspiracy, not of “consensus.” It clearly implies illicit motive. My contention was that conspiracy is a frequent argument (along with several others) for the failure of ID to gain any scientific traction. Didn’t have to wait long for an example to roll past.

  37. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures… And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1: 18 18-23, 32)

  38. Carl: “To be honest, I think that there is an important difference between [creationism and ID]….”

    Me too. But it is the opposite of what you said. Actually, creationism—at least the YEC version—is testable. It makes positive, falsifiable claims. We can look for evidence as to whether the universe as created in six days. We know how to look for evidence about the claimed age of the universe.

    On the other hand, ID cannot be tested. Look at the definition of ID. Some aspects of living systems are too complex to have been produced by any natural cause, and therefore are the product of an intelligent designer.[1] First of all, the definition is a negative: life could not possibly have been produced by any natural mechanism. No finite number of observations or experiments can verify this. Second, since ID proposes no features of or limitations on either the designs or the designer, any claim could be consistent with design.[2]

    Although certain claims made by ID proponents may be falsifiable, these are either not a consequence of definition[3] or are at most negative evidence as to certain features or mechanisms of evolution rather than positive evidence for ID.[4] Although many of these claims have been shown to be false, it is immaterial whether they are correct or incorrect. They are not evidence for ID.

    As I’ve said many times before, my brief with ID is not so much that it is wrong, but that the above characteristics make it a dead end for guiding research or for increasing our ability to control natural phenomena for useful applications. Actually, creationists conduct more research than ID. They write papers on radiometric dating, on whether bacteria were created on the 3d day or the 4th day, on where the division point is between different “kinds” that were separately created (baraminology), and on possible sources of the water of the Noachian flood. Creationists may be wrong, but ID is not even wrong.

    =========
    [1] IDers will say that this definition is a straw man. But that is the one given on the DI’s site, and they refuse to propose any other. And certainly no one can test a theory that cannot be defined. If you can find another definition that IDers will agree to, please let me know.

    [2] This is the characteristic that allows even contradictory claims. For example, (a) a good designer would not clutter up a genome with useless junk DNA will have a purpose, and (b) the human vitamin-C chain is present but broken because the designer need not produce good designs.

    [3] Such as (a) and (b) above, which rely upon assumed characteristics of the designer that are not in the definition nor implied by it.

    [4] That is, they present a false dichotomy. Most of the “gap” claims or “weaknesses of evolution” are of this type. Incompleteness of the fossil record. The Cambrian explosion. Absence of evidence for evolution is not evidence of absence of evolution.

  39. “Absence of evidence for evolution is not evidence of absence of evolution.”

    If that, then why not this:

    “Absence of evidence for creation is not evidence of absence for creation”?

    But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

  40. On the other hand, ID cannot be tested. Look at the definition of ID. Some aspects of living systems are too complex to have been produced by any natural cause, and therefore are the product of an intelligent designer.[1] First of all, the definition is a negative: life could not possibly have been produced by any natural mechanism. No finite number of observations or experiments can verify this. Second, since ID proposes no features of or limitations on either the designs or the designer, any claim could be consistent with design.[2]

    Well, the claims of design theorists are a little more sophisticated than that. Dembski and Behe both make probabilistic arguments. The gist seems to be that if the probability of some feature’s being a result of chance or law falls below some critical threshold, then it is more likely that the feature is a result of design. Under those conditions, it is more reasonable to posit the existence of some designer than it is to refuse to posit the existence of a designer. So I think that objection (1) rests on an uncharitable interpretation of what Dembski and Behe claim to be doing.

    On the other hand, I agree with Objection (2), and I think that this is the real problem with design theory, and the objection needs to be made more clearly.

    Given some hypothesis H, we want to know what observations O would, if made, increase or decrease the probability of the truth of H? But the matter is vastly complicated by several factors:

    1) W do not test hypotheses singly, one by one — rather we test systems of hypotheses;

    2) Any set of observations is consistent with more than one hypothesis;

    3) Any hypothesis can be rescued from falsification through the introduction of ad hoc hypotheses which explain why some given set of observations are, or are not, relevant to the probability of the truth of H;

    4) It is not always wrong to introduce such ad hoc hypotheses — on the contrary, there are many instances in the history of science where doing so has been crucial for moving knowledge forward;

    5) So Popper must be wrong — falsification is never enough — instead we need to appeal to a variety of epistemic values in guiding theory selection, such as simplicity, fruitfulness, explanatory unity, opening up of direction for future research, etc. And it is in those terms that the modern synthesis still has some life left in it, whereas design theory has none, so far as I can tell.

  41. Carl: “The gist seems to be that if the probability of some feature’s being a result of chance or law falls below some critical threshold, then it is more likely that the feature is a result of design.”

    This is what I was talking about in calling ID claims at most negative evidence as to certain features or mechanisms of evolution rather than positive evidence for ID: “If you can’t show me what else it is, then it must be design.” In Dembski’s explanatory filter, all the other buckets require evidence. But design is the default, the one a phenomenon goes into if you don’t have positive evidence for putting it somewhat else. For example, we don’t know all of the physical laws as of February 2009. Suppose that something complex and “specified” is in fact produced by an as-yet unknown law. Dembski would unhesitatingly throw it into the “design” bin. In other words, Ignorance=Design. Dembski may be more sophisticated than the unadorned definition, but it is no less a shell game. Being a mathematician, Dembski attempts to bypass the requirement for physical evidence by invoking pure deductive logic.

    You’re certainly correct that theory selection is guided by a number of factors. After sitting through two complete lecture series on the philosophy of science, nothing seems to be the one and only polestar. Popper has a lot of holes, the Holy Kuhn sometimes quits his throne. (Feyerabend was here in Minnesota for a few years, but half the time he didn’t believe what he himself said.) I tend to side with the “bearing fruit” crowd. Evolution bore about 1,750 papayas last year, ID couldn’t manage a single raisin. Even the failed hypotheses of evolution are productive: the discovery of non-genetic inherited traits spawned the burgeoning field of epigenetics. ID can excuse its failed predictions, and therefore need not consider any alternatives.

  42. Carl and Rago consistently raise weak arguments against ID.

    From UD’s FAQ:

    3. It is falsifiable: any positive demonstration that CSI can easily be generated by non design mechanisms is a potential falsification of the ID theory.

    Also see:

    The ID explanatory filter cannot rule out chance or unknown laws!

    Rago’s comments and objections are consistently obtuse, repetitive, and unmodulated. I don’t think he comes by it naturally, but has rather practiced being that way.

  43. UD: “3. It is falsifiable: any positive demonstration that CSI can easily be generated by non design mechanisms is a potential falsification of the ID theory.”

    Well, according to Dembski’s explanatory filter, CSI is information that cannot be generated by any natural mechanism. So you’ve got me there.

    You made no attempt to sink my example: If we do not yet know all the laws of nature, how can we tell whether a phenomenon exhibiting CSI (in whatever way you wish to define it, as long as you do define it) is a product of design or of the unknown law?

    I realize we’ve been through this game before. But there is still no physical evidence under any of your shells, no matter how fast you move them around.

  44. It seems impossible to convince Mynym that the truth of a scientific theory is independent of the ethics or social desirability of a particular application of that theory.

    There is little actual evidence that a fact/value split is possible or has good results because people simply shift to think that “scientific facts” are all there is. In the comment that you are failing to reply to I noted that in the real world the attitude was that if Darwinism is actually true then our application of it follows and flows from it, naturally enough. There is no “should,” it simply follows from what is on purely scientific grounds. Ironically many involved in the eugenics movement would agree with you that “pure” science can be divorced from ethics, social desirability and sentient beings in general. That’s the view typical to half-wits who are dead in the head, as they deny about half of all wit/knowledge. There is no “separating” the truth.

    Perhaps you can see this point easier if you’re not the one making such arguments. From another comment section:Kris said:It’s what’s known as a thought experiment, which is often used when reasoning to test the logical veracity of an idea. In this case, we’re testing the idea that a scientists personal views determines the truth or falsity of any theory that originated with that scientist.

    Given that it’s a thought experiment which has nothing to do with the real world it’s not much of a test for the fact/value split. If the only way that an apparently beautiful or useful idea can be supported is with imaginary evidence then it remains at the level of Darwinism.

    Presumably, you accept Newton’s theory of gravitation as essentially right (though incomplete, of course). Let us now assume only for the sake of argument that some long lost historical documents were discovered whose accuracy could be verified…

    But we don’t have to assume or imagine anything, history shows that no great physicist was a serial killer or took part in the patterns typical to them as instead they seek the “Mind of God.” If there was a great physicist who turned out to be a serial killer that would call into question his supposed knowledge/scientia because we already know that physicists understand beauty and use the elegance or beauty of a theory as part of the evidence that it is true.

    There is no “pure” form of science that exists sans sentience.

    If we assume that your idea is correct, logically you must then say that the theory of gravitation is no longer a valid theory.

    I’m not focusing on thought experiments which deal with imaginary evidence. If you could point out many great physicists who were serial killers or who matched that pattern (drowning puppies, etc.) then the idea that all truth is linked would be undermined. It’s telling that apparently the only way you can find evidence supporting the fact/value split is by imagining some in thought experiments.

    Understand, we’re not saying that this has happened, or will happen, or is even remotely likely to happen.

    Exactly…so if I’m interested in what actually happens in the real world who should I talk to?

    ….generally indicates that the idea being tested (that a scientists personal views determines the truth or falsity of any theory that originated with that scientist) is itself wrong.

    So you’ve tested the idea that true knowledge is linked based on imaginary evidence and found that it may be wrong, yet on your own imaginary account your theory may have nothing to do with anything real? As compelling as the argument that a supposedly “pure” scientia/knowledge can be separated from sentience I think I’ll reject your arguments until you provide something more substantive than imaginary evidence for them. For example, what great physicist was a serial killer or actually did enjoy drowning puppies and so on?

  45. This is also, of course, the deliberate point of the movie “Expelled: No Intelligence.” Eugenics is evil, eugenics is an application of evolution, ergo evolution is incorrect. We have been around that same block several times in this thread alone, and that simple concept keeps getting denied.

    The point of the movie Expelled is about what actually happened. In the real world when people think that they understand the truth of something they tend to apply it in their lives. So if they think that they have a form of knowledge which is as certain as the theory of gravity and the fact that the earth revolves around the sun then the application of that idea is the censorship of anyone inane enough to deny what they know to be true.* The argument that people can have knowledge of that sort and then totally separate it or fail to apply it is merely an abstraction. History shows that in theory they could but in fact they do not.

  46. If we do not yet know all the laws of nature, how can we tell whether a phenomenon exhibiting CSI (in whatever way you wish to define it, as long as you do define it) is a product of design or of the unknown law?

    It’s funny how epistemic standards begin to go up given that numerous “just so” stories and imaginary evidence permeate Darwinian theory. But at any rate, if we don’t know all the laws of nature then we cannot be certain that Darwinism is true either.

    It’s not about knowing everything, ID is merely the best inference based on what we know about intelligent agency and the laws of nature now.

  47. mynym: “In the comment that you are failing to reply to I noted that in the real world the attitude was that if Darwinism is actually true then our application of it follows and flows from it, naturally enough. There is no ‘should,’ it simply follows from what is on purely scientific grounds.”

    Yet once again, no. “Should” expresses obligation or duty. If E=mc^2 is true, then we should drop atomic bombs on our enemies. If evolution says that those organisms best adapted to their environment do survive, then we humans should (a) decide which of ourselves are the best adapted to their environment, and (b) kill off those whom we have decided are not the best adapted. If we decide that duck-billed platypuses are primitive and maladapted to the modern environment, it ipso facto becomes our obligation to seek them out and kill them all. I would not agree with your logic on that.

    Reminds me of the story about two hunters. Suddenly, one of them keels over and isn’t moving. Panicked, the other whips out his cell phone and calls 911: “I think mu buddy is dead!” The operator says, “First make sure he’s really dead.” A pause, then BANG! “OK, he’s really dead. Now what?”

  48. Yet once again, no. “Should” expresses obligation or duty.

    Not at all. There is no ‘should,’ their view was that it simply follows from what is on purely scientific grounds. If you’re trying to disagree with Darwin and the Nazis on this point then you need to understand what they said first.

    If E=mc^2 is true, then we should drop atomic bombs on our enemies.

    In typical Nazi thinking there is no real “should” or should not, there is only what is true scientifically and biologically. They typically believed that the emergence of a master race was inevitable due to natural processes like natural selection or “nature’s engine” as they put it, just as Darwin argued originally. Some even lamented the fact that the extermination of lower races was inevitable. Darwin suffered from the same type of mental incompetence, e.g.

    At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

    At any rate, there are problems with your comparison of Darwinism to physics given that Einsteins theory is generally tangential to explaining the origins of man and ethics while Darwinian theory has been used to explain the very existence of our sense of “should.” (Note that Darwinian theory is far from the epistemic equivalent of physical theories.)

    If evolution says that those organisms best adapted to their environment do survive, then we humans should (a) decide which of ourselves are the best adapted to their environment, and (b) kill off those whom we have decided are not the best adapted.

    That’s not what Darwin and the Nazis were saying, instead they were saying that it as all a matter of scientific facts. Darwin viewed his imbecilic hypotheses as nothing more than the way things actually were and the Nazis viewed what they did as nothing more than applied biology, an application that was as inevitable and natural as objects falling to the ground. After all, it’s all just like the theory of gravity according to imbeciles of this sort.

    E.g.

    The Auschwitz self could feel itself to be tapping the power source of nature itself in becoming the engine of the Nazi movement, or nature’s engine.
    That metaphor of “nature’s engine” suggests the relationship of omnipotence to the apparently opposite feeling of powerlessness or impotence, of being no more than a tiny cog in someone else’s machine.
    […]
    Moreover the Auschwitz self quickly sought that stance of powerlessness… This emotional and moral surrender to the environment had great psychological advantages. The Auschwitz self could feel: “I am not responsible for selections. I am not responsible for phenol injections. I am a victim of the environment no less than the inmates.” (The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide by Robert J. Lifton :449-450)

    You seem to be arguing that there is no “should” in science as if the Nazis would disagree but generally their answer would be: “Exactly!”

    If we decide that duck-billed platypuses are primitive and maladapted to the modern environment, it ipso facto becomes our obligation to seek them out and kill them all. I would not agree with your logic on that.

    It’s not my logic. Again, given the mentally incompetent logic of the Nazis and Darwin it’s not a matter of us deciding/”selecting” anything on moral grounds, instead it is imagined that natural “selection” makes the extinction of certain races as inevitable as the motions of the planets and so on.

    E.g.

    National Socialism as Applied Biology:
    The nation would now be run according to what Johann S. and his cohorts considered biological truth, “the way human beings really are.” That is why he had a genuine “eureka” experience—a sense of “That’s exactly it!”—when he heard Rudolf Hess declare National Socialism to be “nothing but applied biology” (see page 31).
    (The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide
    by Robert Jay Lifton :129)

    There is no “should” given this view of things, as they were merely the hand of nature and biology itself. Note that language is polluted with oxymoronic Darwinian concepts like natural “selection” which attribute intelligence and knowledge to nature. Natural selection should have been called natural culling or natural preservation, yet it was not because Darwin was trying portray natural “selection” as the main cause of creative/progressive forms of evolution instead of admitting that the only known cause for evolution of that sort is exactly what he argued against, the impact of sight and intelligence on the natural world by design.

    I’m curious as to how you would answer Darwin or a eugenicist arguing that Darwinian theory predicts the extinction and the extermination of the less fit and so on. Again, Darwin and many eugenicists did not believe that should or should not entered into their purely “scientific” picture of things so there’s no need to repeat your agreement with their amoral view of biology.

  49. You’ll never get it, mynym. You’ll never understand. All I ask is, please do not help your children with their science homework.

    And Ragnarok mus now stow his kayak and snorkel to return to the land of snowmobiles and cross-country skis. Olorin will probably not be back soon, either; our church choir starts a concert tour of Germany in a couple of weeks, and there is a symphony concert to prepare for before that. I know you’ll miss us.

  50. Until then,

    Na Iehova e ho’omaika’i, a e malama mai.

  51. You’ll never get it, mynym. You’ll never understand.

    You’re settling into charlatanism now, claiming to have knowledge and understanding that you clearly do not have. Apparently you could hardly even understand that you’re arguing in favor of Darwin and the Nazi’s views when you “separate” ethics from biology. You kept pointing to the distinction between scientific thinking and ethics and so on but the application of your conflation of the sciences of physics and chemistry with biology is typical to Darwinism and was typical to Nazism. You’re still supporting the view that a “pure” scientific view of biology has nothing to do with ethics, judgments of success and failure and so on.

    In one of your conflations of physics and biology you said: Yet once again, no. “Should” expresses obligation or duty. If E=mc^2 is true, then we should drop atomic bombs on our enemies.

    But biology isn’t physics, as a critic of imbecilic notions that you’re promoting here pointed out:

    The achievements which form the subject matter of biology can be identified only by a kind of appraisal which requires a higher degree of participation by the observer in his subject matter than can be mediated by the tests of physics and chemistry. The current ideal of “scientificality” which would refuse such participation would indeed destroy biology but for the wise neglect of consistency on the part of its supporters.
    (Scientific Outlook: Its Sickness and Cure by Michael Polanyi
    Science New Series, Vol. 125, No. 3246 (Mar., 1957), pp. 482)

    All I ask is, please do not help your children with their science homework.

    I shrug at that, as it seems that you’re just another “biological” charlatan claiming to have knowledge and understanding that you clearly do not have. As Polanyi pointed out to those who tend to talk more about an abstract ideal of “scientificality” than actual knowledge:

    …nothing is relevant to biology, even at the lowest level of life, unless it bears on the achievements of living beings: achievements such as their perfection of form, their morphogenesis, or the proper functioning of their organs; and the very conception of such achievements implies a distinction between success or failure—a distinction unknown to physics and chemistry. (Ib.)

    A knowledge of life/bios itself and therfore some conception of success and failure, progress and therefore ethics is woven throughout biology, denying this will lead back to scholarship of this sort:

    The scholars whom we shall quote in such impressive numbers, like those others who were instrumental in any other part of the German pre-war and war efforts, were to a large extent people of long and high standing, university professors and academy members, some of them world famous, authors with familiar names and guest lecturers abroad…
    If the products of their research work, even apart from their rude tone, strike us as unconvincing and hollow, this weakness is due not to inferior training but to the mendacity inherent in any scholarship that overlooks or openly repudiates all moral and spiritual values and, by standing order, knows exactly its ultimate conclusions well in advance.
    (Hitler’s Professors: The Part of Scholarship in Germany’s Crimes Against the Jewish People by Max Weinreich
    (New York:The Yiddish Scientific Institute, 1946) :7)

  52. Further thoughts from Polyani:

    In the days when an idea could be silenced by showing that it was contrary to religion, theology was the greatest single source of fallacies. Today, when any human thought can be discredited by branding it as unscientific, the power exercised previously by theology has passed over to science; hence, science has become in its turn the greatest single source of error.
    In saying this I am not rebelling against the preponderant influence of science on modern thought. No, I support it. But I am convinced that the abuses of the scientific method must be checked, both in the interest of other human ideals which they threaten and in the interest of science itself, which is menaced by self-destruction, unless it can be attuned to the whole range of human thought.

    He goes on to note that the science most in need of reform is biology.

  53. mynym,

    You are wasting your time on olorin, or whatever his name is this week? “Willful ignorance” abounds, as you know so well, mynym, among such people as olorin! He’s too much in love with himself, and the god he has created, to hear the truth that you put before him. Just as he cannot hear the truth that God has put before him. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”

  54. You are wasting your time on olorin, or whatever his name is this week? “Willful ignorance” abounds, as you know so well, mynym, among such people as olorin! He’s too much in love with himself, and the god he has created, to hear the truth that you put before him. Just as he cannot hear the truth that God has put before him. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”

    Of course, Ragnarok (and, to be honest, myself) tend to think the same of Mynym and those who agree with him.

    So what is to be done?

  55. So what is to be done?

    I typically appeal to language. For example, if I made a claim like this: “You’ll never get it, mynym. You’ll never understand.” then I would explain what is being misunderstood and perhaps cite a bit of text as evidence.

    For example, I would claim that he clearly does not understand what the Nazis said. For instance, I summarized their view of things as: “There is no ‘should,’ their view was that it simply follows from what is on purely scientific grounds.” and he replied by arguing that there is no “should” on purely scientific grounds in support of the same mistake that the Nazis made. Apparently you agree that I’m ignorant of something or misunderstanding something, so what is it?

    The Nazis did not consider themselves separate from nature, they generally considered what they did as the inevitable result of nature and evolutionary processes like natural “selection.” It is possible to cite anomalies or contradictory bits of text* written by Hitler given his limited intellect as evidence against what was true of Nazis in general but the doctors, the scientists, the intellectuals and the “technically proficient barbarians” without which Nazism probably would have never succeeded generally adhered to a very crude fact/value split.

    (One of the things I enjoy about the writings of Stephen Jay Gould is that he openly deals with cultural context, values and so on and sometimes criticizes the way that some focus on a supposedly “purely” objective ideal of “scientificality.”)

    *But even this may be little more than the contradictory language which typifies theories of evolution and the conflation of physics and biology. E.g. “selfish genes” which aren’t actually selfish it’s just that they’re said to be selfish. Natural “selections” which are not really a “selection” in the way that the word is commonly understood, it’s just preservation and culling which comes about by environmental happenstance which is said to be a “selection” as if some living being selected something. And so on. It’s as if Darwinists cannot mean what they say and do not mean to say the majority of what they say. It seems that at some level their view of things is fundamentally unintelligible.

  56. That link may not work correctly. Here is the relevant portion of Stove’s argument about the contradictory language typical to Darwinian theory:

    It must be admitted that sociobiologists sometimes say other things which are inconsistent with statements like the ones I have just quoted. Dawkins, for example, sometimes protests that he does not at all believe that genes are ‘conscious, purposeful agents.’ But these disclaimers are in vain. Of course genes are not conscious purposeful agents: everyone will agree with that. Where sociobiologists differe from other people is just that they also say, over and over again, things which imply that genes are conscious purposeful agents; and agents, at that, of so much intelligence and power that human beings are merely among the tools they make and use.
    (Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity and Other Fables of Evolution by David Stove: 249)

  57. So what is to be done?

    One must wonder, then, what you keep coming back to “do” here Carl. It is a blog by a Christian on Intelligent Design, is it not? If you are just interested in creationist viewpoints, I would hope that you spend equal amounts of time prodding members of other faiths that are also creationist – from Islam to Cherokee. (The Cherokee creation myth in particular is almost identical to the Jewish one).

  58. You are wasting your time on olorin, or whatever his name is this week?

    I’m not writing for the benefit of Olorin, although if he does benefit in some way that’s fine with me.

  59. One must wonder, then, what you keep coming back to “do” here Carl. It is a blog by a Christian on Intelligent Design, is it not? If you are just interested in creationist viewpoints, I would hope that you spend equal amounts of time prodding members of other faiths that are also creationist – from Islam to Cherokee. (The Cherokee creation myth in particular is almost identical to the Jewish one).

    I enjoy discussing ideas and arguing about them. But I take a special interest in creationism because I’m fascinated by it. And this is not a new fascination on my part; I became interested in creationism many, many years ago, and in fact developed my interest in philosophy of science as a result. Creationists make assumptions that strike me as curious, to say the least — for example (as it seems to me) the assumption that Scripture must be interpreted as making claims on the same terrain as scientific theories in order for it to be taken seriously. I’m such an committed pluralist* that I find it very challenging to understand the opposite point of view — and I enjoy a challenge!

    * for example, I’m a scientific pluralist, an epistemological pluralist, and in general, a pragmatist.

  60. I read the long quote from Polanyi and, much as it might surprise you, I completely agree with him.

    We cannot have a coherent biology, a science of life, without a coherent concept of what life is. And we cannot succeed in developing an adequate concept of life if we assume, a priori, that life is (somehow) reducible to physico-chemical causes. I’m quite fond of Hans Jonas, and especially of his The Phenomenon of Life.

    Quite recently I purchased a copy of Life and Action: Elementary Structures of Practice and Practical Thought, though I haven’t had a chance to crack into it yet. There is no listing for “Darwin,” “Darwinism,” or “evolution” in the index. So I shall have to read it before passing judgment on whether his ontology of life is consistent with evolutionary theory.

    My own sense of the matter is that modern evolutionary theory is a very “big tent,” big enough to encompass arch-reductionists like Dawkins and also anti-reductionists like Brian Goodwin, Stuart Kauffman, and Evan Thompson. I don’t get the sense, from reading Goodwin, Kauffman, or Thompson, that we must reject the modern synthesis — instead, they call out for supplementing it.

    And indeed, this is not far from the position of the most sophisticated design theorists. The disagreement between design theorists and self-organization theorists could be construed along a number of different dimensions, but I find it most helpful to think about it in terms of testable explanations, and indeed, testable in different ways. Self-organization theorists will be the first to confess that their testable models are, thus far, only computer simulations. So it’s an open question whether living things are self-organizing systems in the ways that computer simulations suggest — at best we can say only that it is possible. (Actually, I think it is not only possible but probable, but that’s probably more a confession of wishful thinking at this stage, given how vast our ignorance remains.)

    By contrast, I have not yet seen coming out of the design theorists a testable model of design as applied to biology. That design detection has been successfully applied to archeology or forensic design is beyond question; the question is whether there is in biology anything analogous to the huge background of beliefs that allow us to make design inferences in archeology. Since we cannot, so say the design theorists, make any assumptions about the nature of the designer, with respect to biological or cosmic design, I cannot see how design principles can be applied to biology, let alone to cosmology, in such a way as to yield testable hypotheses.

  61. Creationists make assumptions that strike me as curious, to say the least — for example (as it seems to me) the assumption that Scripture must be interpreted as making claims on the same terrain as scientific theories in order for it to be taken seriously.

    Sounds like a self-imposed stumbling block. You’re simply not asking the right questions (perhaps subconsciously?). I would phrase it like this:

    Must scientific theories be evaluated and interpreted on the terrain of metaphysical truth, just as scripture should be?

    You seem to raise the same questions and objections, and receive answers that can only be understood if you allow yourself to think metaphysically. If you want to understand what makes someone point to a God/Creator/Artist/Logos/Divine Mind etc…, you must in the very least allow yourself access to the same thought processes. Because believe it or not, it’s not just a brain exercise in hypotheticals. People literally get changed when they venture into those waters. Perhaps you like your world the way it is, and that’s fine – but I don’t think you will never be satisfied with mere facts about creationism. Have you ever wondered why creationism fascinates you? (Sorry, you’ll have to get out of that box of yours to answer that one).

  62. Here an analogy for Carl:

    You seem to be the guy who would enthusiastically show up at a meeting of UFO fanatics, speculate on all sorts of interesting theories and evidence, then drive home without bothering once to look up at the night sky 😉

  63. Must scientific theories be evaluated and interpreted on the terrain of metaphysical truth, just as scripture should be?

    I appreciate this correction, Mike, but allow me to issue a counter-correction:

    “Is ‘the terrain of metaphysical truth’ the best way to evaluate and interpret either scientific theories or scripture?”

    You see, my opposition is not at all to scripture — my opposition is the very idea of “metaphysical truth,” if metaphysical truth is construed — as it usually is — as entailing, or presupposing, the rejection of pluralism.

    Have you ever wondered why creationism fascinates you? (Sorry, you’ll have to get out of that box of yours to answer that one).

    Of course I’ve wondered this! For now, the best answer I can give is that I’m fascinated by the fact that there are people who desperately crave something — let’s call it “the terrain of metaphysical truth” — which I’ve found a way to live without. It’s that difference which I find somehow very compelling. And yet we are members of the same society, we are neighbors and citizens, and we have found, and will hopefully continue to find, some way to live together despite this yawning chasm of difference in our fundamental world-views.

  64. “Is ‘the terrain of metaphysical truth’ the best way to evaluate and interpret either scientific theories or scripture?”

    Well, maybe that’s the pluralist version! But questions like that won’t help you understand the “craving” (your word) of creationists. Creationists are primarily concerned with Being. Therefore what science brings to light concerning Being, is of primary interest to them.

  65. In other words, Darwinism is ultimately a theology of Non-Existence, not Being. I wouldn’t expect you to understand that from your perspective.

  66. mynym wrote,

    You are wasting your time on olorin, or whatever his name is this week?

    I’m not writing for the benefit of Olorin, although if he does benefit in some way that’s fine with me.

    I know, mynym! It’s just that I, once again, let olorin’s dishonesty get to me! MY BAD!!!!

    Carl,

    Although we disagree, you have a different and less obnoxious way of communicating than Olorin. Thus my comment about rag, ol or whatever…

  67. Mike said to Carl,

    In other words, Darwinism is ultimately a theology of Non-Existence, not Being. I wouldn’t expect you to understand that from your perspective.

    For to me, to live is Christ… Philippians 1: 21

    Mike also said to Carl,

    You seem to be the guy who would enthusiastically show up at a meeting of UFO fanatics, speculate on all sorts of interesting theories and evidence, then drive home without bothering once to look up at the night sky 😉

    ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; <strongif anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.</strong Revelation 3: 20

  68. So it’s an open question….
    ….given how vast our ignorance remains.

    It’s interesting how different the reaction of Darwinists is to people with different worldviews. If an ID proponent argues that origins is generally an “open question” and points out our “vast ignorance” then they are met with censorship and arguments about how it is not an open question and so on. Yet when you and others make the same point the reaction tends to be different, although not totally different.

    It may be that your claims generally will not be met with quite the same amount of “overwhelming” charlatanism because they do not touch on a neurosis typical to a Darwinian urge to merge back into the womb of Mother Nature. (I.e. to do away with the advice of Plato and to do away with the reality of form in general.) It seems to me that their reaction is irrational and inconsistent because their position is not based on rationality in the first place. Arguments about psychological dynamics may be inherently ad hominem but that doesn’t change the fact that feeelings are a powerful motivation to be irrational and we are actually just people with feelings about things and so on.

    For example, note Dawkins’ experience with a father figure and the irrational views that seem to result:

    Happily I was spared the misfortune of a Roman Catholic upbringing (Anglicanism is a significantly less noxious strain of the virus). Being fondled by the Latin master in the squash court was a disagreeable sensation for a nine-year-old, a mixture of embarrassment and skin-crawling revulsion, but it was certainly not in the same league as being led to believe that I, or someone I knew, might go to everlasting fire. As soon as I could wriggle off his knee, I ran to tell my friends and we had a good laugh, our fellowship enhanced [But is there safety in the consensus of the Herd if they’re all wrong?] by the shared experience of the same sad pedophile.

    The position that emerged from his experience is irrational and inconsistent, like many victims he argues that child abuse isn’t really that bad but then he consistently argues that religion is bad because it’s like child abuse. But if child abuse isn’t really that bad then neither is religion, just as if God or Good and Evil does not exist then nothing is really evil. Of course Dawkins and Nazism are an extreme example of certain patterns but when people’s hands start shaking in debates and their voices tremble and so on there’s probably something more going on than a rational debate about origins and creationism (i.e. the Jewish creation story).

  69. In other words, Darwinism is ultimately a theology of Non-Existence, not Being.

    As Dawkins says: “In nature, the usual selecting agent is direct, stark and simple. It is the grim reaper.”

    That is the Nazi view as well which lead to death squads and so on. Of course nature is not an agent that “selects” anything yet Dawkins still argues that some sort of “god of death” has “….the power to dissolve astronomical improbabilities and explain prodigies of apparent miracle.” (The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design by Richard Dawkins :250)

    It seems that everyone here agrees that Dawkins is dead wrong. But people who are dead in the head like Dawkins and PZ Myers have power and argue that people who believe that origins is an open question should be denied tenure and so on, so it seems to me that one can’t just discard their type of mental incompetence.

  70. Creationists are primarily concerned with Being. Therefore what science brings to light concerning Being, is of primary interest to them. In other words, Darwinism is ultimately a theology of Non-Existence, not Being. I wouldn’t expect you to understand that from your perspective.

    I don’t quite understand what you mean here, but I think that’s because I’m being thrown off by “a theology of not-Being.” Presumably a philosophy that denies the reality of Being would be an “atheology” or an “anti-theology”, no? A “theology of Non-Being” does not make sense to me. I’m sorry to be such a nitpicker over words, but words are all we have to go on.

    It may interest you to know that I’m not entirely alien to philosophies which insist upon the reality of Being (or, as Mymym would have it, the reality of form). I teach Plato and Aristotle every fall to undergraduate philosophy majors, for one thing, and I enjoy it immensely. I can get on board with Republic and with the Metaphysics, and for that matter, I think there are insights in On the Soul and in the Nicomachean Ethics which go far deeper than most everything which has been written since.

    So for me, the questions are: can there be a reconciliation between Darwinism and Aristotelianism? I think that there can be, but the way to see it is to distinguish between Darwinism as a scientific theory and the broader metaphysical doctrines with which it is usually associated. There is, after all, nothing in the Origin of Species which denies the reality of form — what it denies is the fixity of form.

  71. You can put evolution on a horizontal axis of time and Aristotelianism on a vertical axis of humanity/sentience and plot points all day if you want. That seems to be your perspective. And that’s why you didn’t get my meaning.

  72. That seems to be your perspective. And that’s why you didn’t get my meaning.

    If I didn’t get your meaning, that’s not my fault alone — communication is a two-way street, after all. Would you be willing to clarify where I went wrong?

    For example, you seem to object to my criticisms concerning your term, a “theology of non-being.” Would you be willing to explain how a “theology of non-being” is different from an “atheology” or “anti-theology”?

  73. I should add, Mike, that I really do understand part of where you’re coming from, insofar as you’re talking about experiences of profound and fundamental transformations in one’s world-view and self-conception. I’m not engaging with that side of your posts because that’s very personal, and I’m not going open up that side of myself in an Internet forum, available to public view, with people I don’t know. It’s a very private side of my life, as it is for yours, and while you or the others may be joyfully enjoined to reveal that side of yourselves as an expression of your faith, the same does not hold for me.

  74. I can appreciate that. But that’s where I always come from, so I can’t help it.

    To me it is so utterly obvious that Being, and all it entails, is the result of a free decision made by a Mind to act; making a free choice to create in the face of nothingness and non-existence. My firm belief is that we all inherently know this. But many choose to ignore it and rather casually throw anthropomorphisms around that nature is “brilliant”, or “clever”, or evolution “seeks/affirms life”. This is nothing but self-evident design (or art, if you will) speaking to our souls. And while there is plenty of scriptural support for that theory, I need not appeal to it because it can be proved just by observing our species.

    In fact, just by observing your efforts to synthesize Darwin and Aristotle, it is obvious to me that the work of the Artist has touched your soul too. But better to be hot or cold (like Dawkins!), than to be lukewarm.

    Also, just a note: I wrote “non-Existence”, not “non-being”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: