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Darwin’s Three Monkeys: Science Has Spoken!

posted by David Klinghoffer
Three Monkeys.jpg

My post from Monday “Slouching Toward Columbine: Darwin’s Tree of Death” continues to get comments, many poignantly indignant expressions of faith in “science”:

What matters is the evidence for evolution and that evidence is massive and extremely powerful. The facts of evolution are the strongest facts of science.

Why poignant? From my own post at Evolution News & Views on James Le Fanu’s new book:

Anyone who raises doubts about evolution in public discussions with non-scientists knows the automatic response you always get from the Three Monkeys crowd. Hands wrapped tightly over eyes, ears, and mouth, they chant: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil — about Darwin!

That’s not exactly how it comes out. People will say things more like: But science has spoken! Scientists say! Science wins! Which sounds reasonable at first, until you reflect that it’s a little like a Roman Catholic fending off some challenge to his faith by pointing out that 98 percent of Catholic priests agree with Catholic doctrine, and who knows more about Catholicism than Catholic priests? So it must be true. (Or substitute rabbis and Jewish doctrine, pastors and Protestant belief, etc.) As James Le Fanu smartly notes in his new book Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves (Pantheon), there is a similar circularity to the “Scientists say!” case for Darwinian dogma:

“The commitment to Darwin’s materialist explanation of the living world would, in time, become a qualification requirement for all who aspired to pursue a career in biology — where to express doubt (at least publicly) was tantamount to confessing to being of unsound (or at least unscientific) mind.”

Read the rest there.


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Glen Davidson

posted April 24, 2009 at 5:23 pm


The commitment to Darwin’s materialist explanation of the living world would, in time, become a qualification requirement for all who aspired to pursue a career in biology

You mean like having to agree to cause and effect relationships in the classical realm is a requirement in science?
How odd that science studies the phenomena which may be studied, like the evolutionary relationships between organisms, and the adaptation of eukaryotic machinery in the eukaryotic flagellum. I mean, why aren’t they doing theology instead? Why aren’t they doing seances to understand the souls of monkeys?
Le Fanu is a purveyor of woo who has absolutely no alternative method for studying life. He can cavil, illegitimately attack (as David constantly does) those who actually do the work, and project his own lack of tolerance onto others. What he cannot do, any more than David ever has, is to actually back up his scurrilous charges.
Notably, evolution has not been closed off, and has changed substantially over the years. Anyone who knows science recognizes this, although this seems to leave out Le Fanu. Mechanism of evolution was in serious crisis prior to the neo-Darwinism. The modern synthesis also reflected changes in evolutionary thought.
Neutral theory in evolution, jumping genes, and endosymbiosis were all more minor changes to the theory in later times. Often these met with opposition which really wasn’t warranted, but which is common throughout science. Regardless of initial resistance, the theory has changed with the times, dissent has been given and taken under consideration. There continue to be disputes regarding early evolution of biomolecular pathways, understandably, since the evidence surviving from that time is meager. The Cambrian radiation is still an issue, although a dramatic increase in oxygen levels appears to be an important causal factor.
So of course David and Le Fanu are simply blowing smoke. They have nothing with which to legitimately challenge evolution, hence they try to hide that fact by claiming suppression.
Yes, oddly enough, one has to accept that momentum is conserved if one is trying to be a physicist. Yes, one has to accept organic chemistry if one is going to do biochemistry. Yes, one generally has to accept evolution if one is going to be certified as a biologist, although Jonathan Wells received his degree, yet writes the usual discredited creationist nonsense even today.
Does David think that his physician should pass his boards without recognizing the physicality of the body? Does he even believe in free association, such that scientific bodies can come to agreement about indisputable facts, such as that the body (including brain) works considerably via biochemistry, and that observable causal effects are what science can study?
Or is this the USSR circa 1950, when the “Darwinists” are to be persecuted for maintaining scientific integrity, and pseudoscience is forced into science by decree?
Funny, David never addresses the issues we bring up, he merely repeats the same old nonsense that had been adequately answered prior to his getting involved in these matters. It’s so, you know, like what pseudoscientists do. But he has a new woo-meister who also repeats the same exploded claptrap, so instead of filling in his lacunae of knowledge, this gives him an excuse to repeat the same paranoid delusions in a slightly different manner.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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Denise Thorbjornsen

posted April 24, 2009 at 8:33 pm


I take comfort in knowing that God created me.I am not from some priordial ooze.I was perfectly and wonderfully made by God.I don’t relate to men trying to convince me that I’m related to primates.I know that’s a lie. God created animals in their likeness.Fish as well.Also the entire earth and everyone on it.You can’t look at the world and say it came from some priordial ooze pit.That’s just a bold face lie.



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Mike Corum

posted April 24, 2009 at 8:36 pm


Hmmmm…. I’m still waiting for the vaunted fossil record to show me one instance of real evolution, somthing other than bird beaks changing. And, I’d like for those excellent scientists to be free to follow the evidence wherever it leads, even if that means agreeing that there is some order to all that we see, and perhaps an intelligence that created the order.
No, I don’t wear a lab coat, but I don’t wear blinders, either.



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R Hampton

posted April 24, 2009 at 8:39 pm


You “lose” because you have no interest in doing so — experiments, data, analysis, peer review, publication, all open to scientists across the globe to repeat your work and then challenge you on the same basis. That’s where the Discovery Institute fails as well because rhetoric is not objective, empirical evidence.



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R Hampton

posted April 24, 2009 at 9:01 pm


Mike Corum,
Dogs came from Wolves which came from Foxes and they all trace their lineage back to Hesperocyons which came from Cynodictis (the in between-dog) which came from Miacids. Now take a good look at the Miacids – strange looking cat/dog/weasel thing at home in the trees. No wonder then that the Miacids are the ancestor of cats, dogs, and carnivores in general.
A molecular phylogeny of the Canidae based on six nuclear loci
Molecular phylogenetics and evolution, Oct 2005
Phylogenetic analysis with a data set combining the six nuclear loci using MP, ML, and Bayesian approaches produced a more resolved tree that agreed with previously published mitochondrial trees in finding three well-defined clades, including the red fox-like canids, the South American foxes, and the wolf-like canids. In addition, the nuclear data set provides novel indel support for several previously inferred clades. Differences between trees derived from the nuclear data and those from the mitochondrial data include the grouping of the bush dog and maned wolf into a clade with the South American foxes, the grouping of the side-striped jackal (Canis adustus) and black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) and the grouping of the bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis) with the raccoon dog (Nycteruetes procyonoides).



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Steve

posted April 25, 2009 at 12:56 am


David, evolution is true. Specifically, some of my ancestors are fish. Here is a link to some of the kinds of data that has helped some people determine that some of my ancestors are fish:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/
1. James Le Fanu wrote: “Anyone who raises doubts about evolution in public discussions with non-scientists knows the automatic response you always get from the Three Monkeys crowd. Hands wrapped tightly over eyes, ears, and mouth, they chant: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil — about Darwin!”
First, that is not true. Second, even if it were true, it is irrelevant to whether I know that some of my ancestors are fish. Analogously, people do the same thing when others claim that the sun revolves the sun. And I’m quite sure that the earth revolves around the sun. I chant “spherical earth” when people claim that the earth is flat. And I’m quite sure that the earth is not flat. Le Fanu has committed the ad hominem fallacy.
Le Fanue wrote: “That’s not exactly how it comes out. People will say things more like: But science has spoken! Scientists say! Science wins! Which sounds reasonable at first, until you reflect that it’s a little like a Roman Catholic fending off some challenge to his faith by pointing out that 98 percent of Catholic priests agree with Catholic doctrine, and who knows more about Catholicism than Catholic priests? So it must be true. (Or substitute rabbis and Jewish doctrine, pastors and Protestant belief, etc.) As James Le Fanu smartly notes in his new book Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves (Pantheon), there is a similar circularity to the “Scientists say!” case for Darwinian dogma:
“The commitment to Darwin’s materialist explanation of the living world would, in time, become a qualification requirement for all who aspired to pursue a career in biology — where to express doubt (at least publicly) was tantamount to confessing to being of unsound (or at least unscientific) mind.”
I’m not sure I see his point. I’ve presented a link to an article that presents some of the kinds of data that has helped some people determine that some of my ancestors are fish. If you think that the data is not convincing, please say why. It will help one determine whether any skepticism you might have about common descent is warranted.



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Steve

posted April 25, 2009 at 1:03 am


Denise Thorbjornson wrote:
“I take comfort in knowing that God created me.I am not from some priordial ooze.”
You are a descendant of single-celled organisms. Here is a quote from Ernst Mayr What Evolution Is. Mayr was one of the great biologists to ever live. He died recently.
“Astronomical and geophysical evidence indicate that the Earth originated about 4.6 billion years ago. At first the young Earth was not suitable for life, owing to the heat and exposure to radiation. Astronomers estimate that it became liveable about 3.8 billion years ago, and life apparently originated about that time, but we do not know what the first life looked like. Undoubtedly, it consisted of aggregates of macromolecules able to derive substance and energy from surrounding inanimate molecules and from the sun’s energy. Life may well have originated repeatedly at this early stage, but we know nothing about this. If there have been several origins of life, the other forms have since become extinct. Life as it now exists on Earth, including the simplest bacteria, was obviously derived from a single origin. This is indicated by the genetic code, which is the same for all organisms, including the simplest ones, as well as by many aspects of cells, including microbial cells. The earliest fossil life was found in strata about 3.5 billion years old. These earliest fossils are bacterialike, indeed they are remarkably similar to some blue-green bacteria and other bacteria that are still living” (p. 40).
“I was perfectly and wonderfully made by God.”
Some of your ancestors are bacteria.
“I don’t relate to men trying to convince me that I’m related to primates.”
Whether you relate to them or not, it’s true. Some of your ancestors are monkeys. Some of your ancestors are apes.
“I know that’s a lie.”
It’s no a lie. It’s true.
“God created animals in their likeness.Fish as well.Also the entire earth and everyone on it.”
No, that’s not true. Please see the quote by Mayr.
“You can’t look at the world and say it came from some priordial ooze pit.”
I can say that. I do say it. It’s true.



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Steve

posted April 25, 2009 at 1:14 am


Mike Corum wrote: “Hmmmm…. I’m still waiting for the vaunted fossil record to show me one instance of real evolution, somthing other than bird beaks changing.”
Please see the sequences of fossil specimens from land mammals to whales; from fish to amphibians; from amphibians to reptiles; from reptiles to early mammals; from apes to humans. Consider the specimens tiktaalik, ambulocetus, australopithicus and homo erectus. Here is a link to various skulls showing the sequences from apes to humans:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section1.html#morphological_intermediates_ex3
Mike wrote: “…even if that means agreeing that there is some order to all that we see, and perhaps an intelligence that created the order.”
All complex organisms that have lived on earth descended from single-celled organisms that lived on earth about 3.8 billion years ago. Please see my previous posts. No person currently knows that exact sequences of events that resulted in inert matter forming into the first single-celled organisms on earth. We are working on it.
“No, I don’t wear a lab coat, but I don’t wear blinders, either.”
I recommend Ernst Mayr’s book What Evolution Is.



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Steve

posted April 25, 2009 at 1:34 am


Denise Thorbjornsen wrote: “You can’t look at the world and say it came from some priordial ooze pit.That’s just a bold face lie.”
I responded: “I can say that. I do say it. It’s true.”
Actually, my response was problematic. Planet earth obviously didn’t come from some primordial ooze pit. It probably came from star dust. The most reasonable theory of planetary formation we have is the solar nebular theory. You can read about it on the internet. There are billions and billions of planets in the known universe. We’ve already identified some with telescopes that are earth-sized.
Also, no person currently knows exactly which sequence of events resulted in inert matter forming into the first cells on earth about 3.8 billion years ago. It might not have even happened in some primordial ooze pit. We don’t even know for sure that it happened in liquid water, but I think it probably did.



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Mike Corum

posted April 25, 2009 at 8:50 am


R Hampton,
Lots of technical terms. Very interesting. Clades, mitochondrial data, etc. Where is this all demonstrated in the fossil record?
Thanks.



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R Hampton

posted April 25, 2009 at 2:38 pm


Mike Corum,
there are fossils of all the known members of the carnivore family – that’s how we have come to know of them. Spend some time doing the research (its not hard these days with Google).



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Guy Allen

posted April 27, 2009 at 2:39 pm


From the comments I just read it seams that a lot of people seperate what they know form what they believe.



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Donald Wolberg

posted May 7, 2009 at 11:58 pm


Unfortunately there is the silly, and there is the absurd; the price of allowing knowledge based hypotheses that can be tested is to also consider that which is contrary to rational observation. The grand unifying principle of all that is biological (the now of all organisms) and paleontological (the past of all organisms in so far as is documented by discoveries) is the “synthetic” theory of evolution as brilliantly documented by Charles Darwin, and later enhanced by workers such as Mayr, Dobzhansky and Simpson, never mind Watson and Crick. The accomplishment stands beside Einstein’s revolution in physics as theories that explainn more than any others in all of space and all of time. Both work on Earth and at the edges of a 13.2 billion light year universe. Evolutionary science is as universally real as the rotation of the earth and the craters of the Moon; denial seems such a terrific waste of time and intellect and not to be taken seriously.
Any framwork or philosophy of religion must accept that fact or risk appearing not just silly, but patently absurd.



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Mike Corum

posted May 14, 2009 at 9:49 am


I read about the similarity of the dna of different species. That is a demonstrable fact. The question then becomes, why the similarity? Some say that it is because all life descended (interesting term there) from a single organism. I propose that it is just as plausible that the Designer knew He had something going in this dna stuff, and decided to replicate it in other living things. Just as an auto maker uses the same general design of motor, transmission, etc., in all the automobiles he builds.
My point is that the similarity of basic building blocks does not rule out the possibility of a Designer, but conversely could just as easliy argue for the existence of such a Designer. When you think about it, if you were designing a carbon based life system, you would probably use some very simliar structures to achieve that end.



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