Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Darwin’s (Failed) Predictions

posted by David Klinghoffer

Over at Evolution News & Views, I have a two-parter up on Darwinism’s failed predictions, an interview with molecular biophysicist Cornelius Hunter, that I recommend to you. Excerpt:

The testability of scientific ideas by making predictions about reality is a favorite theme with Darwinists and the atheists who love them. In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins endorses a new atheist Ten Commandments, whose seventh commandment reads: “Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be read to discard even a cherished belief it if does not conform to them.” Incidentally, that would replace the old seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Dawkins hails evolution’s “strong prediction that if a single fossil turned up in the wrong geological stratrum, the theory would be blown out of the water.” He contrasts this with the Bible’s record of predictions. In another New Atheist tract, God: The Failed Hypothesis, physicist Victor Stenger writes, “We have no risky prediction in the scriptures that has come true.”

So with Darwinian activists, quite a lot hangs on predictions and testability. Intelligent design advocates argue that their idea is empirically testable, and Stephen Meyer lists a variety of applicable tests in his new book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. The heart of Dawkins’ argument for atheism is a critique of the design hypothesis. If it’s true that ID can be successfully tested by making predictions about empirical reality, what of Darwinian theory? Is it enough to say, as J.B. Haldane quipped, that Darwinism would be falsified if fossil rabbits were discovered in the Cambrian strata?

Read the rest at ENV.


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Glen Davidson

posted June 16, 2009 at 4:56 pm


Do you never tire of repeating nonsense, David? What does Cornelius state that is true through and through? All I can see is a litany of dishonesty, by someone who isn’t at all trained in evolutionary biology.
Indeed, testing is the cornerstone of science. That is why evolutionary theory is science, and ID is a lie that spawns endless numbers of supporting lies.
The fact is that evolutionary theory predicts a number of things, all of which turn out to be true. Here are some I can think of quickly:
1. Life will begin with simple organisms. This is where it is in fact true that evolution and abiogenesis are intertwined, although not the same thing. For, the chance of abiogenesis producing complex, multicellular forms is fantastically against, while simple life may not be turn out to be very difficult to produce by “random trial and error.” In this sense, life must begin simple, and more complex organisms will appear later. This is what we see in the geological record.
2. Older organisms will be more unlike later ones. More of the (especially higher) taxa that we see in early times will be extinct today. This is true because evolution cannot remake, say, a phylum, and, organisms will evolve, even if they are in relative stasis. This is what we see in the fossil record, of course.
3. Evident radiations will have causes, like extinctions. This was true for the mammal radiation after the Cretaceous. Extinction may have played a role in the Cambrian radiation as well, but that was almost certainly driven in part by dramatic increases in oxygen levels as well. So again, the prediction succeeds.
4. All life coming from a shared origination event will be related. Of course the prediction is not that all life will be related, but perhaps that’s the most likely event, regardless, since it seems likely enough that later abiogenetic events will be eaten by extant life, or it will be so dramatically improved over earlier life that it will outcompete and drive to extinction the earlier life forms (less likely). Anyhow, we do find all life to be related, using the same genetic code and mostly the same amino acids, with a few variations. So again, another prediction succeeds.
5. Life will branch off into clades. This is a more difficult one, because it hangs upon the unrepeatability of evolution, and yet convergence can make identification from mere fossils difficult. Nonetheless, in living forms there little question that organisms whose genes are essentially vertically transferred only, there is only divergence, and no repetition of anything without substantial differences being obvious. Fossils are largely that way as well, the unrepeatability of evolution meaning that geologists can use “index fossils.” This is also why evolution is now used almost exclusively for taxonomy, because analogies do occur, but there are always underlying homologies that betray evolution’s unfailing divergences (apart from lateral gene transfer, of course).
6. Rationality will not be found to have been behind life. Perhaps this is more of the opposite of ID’s inherent prediction, but regardless of that, in some sense evolution predicts that the expectations of design will not be found in life (save where brains have caused limited design). And of course we never find the predictions of design in life, except for things like genetically-engineered corn.
7. Transitional organisms had to exist in the past. Evolution cannot make leaps via “hopeful monsters” and the like, so a reptile has to evolve gradually into a bird, if birds are to evolve. It may be gradual evolution, yet it may occur relatively rapidly, hence transitionals are often not readily found. Nonetheless, we have found a large number, from the obvious Archaeopteryx reptile-bird transition, to transitions between dinosaurs and even a few species transitions. Some of these would have to be found by now, at least among relatively robust fossils, and they have been, another successful prediction. Evolutionary theory is what identifies transitionals, as well, since some organisms may be “intermediate” without at all being transitional–and nothing looks like the transitions among human designs.
8. Another prediction is that the DNA “clock” will work reasonably well, despite the fact that selectional pressures vary. This prediction, which might be one of the less certain ones, relies upon neutral evolution, because this is what is behind much of the “ticking” of the evolutionary clock. Anyway, it works quite well. Attendant with this is the fact that in most proteins one finds increasing numbers of changes as the taxonomic divergences increase, which, on average, is the expectation of evolution. Again, the prediction succeeds, and Behe agrees that it does, apparently without recognizing that divine intervention would not be expected to work much like neutral evolution does. So while selective and neutral evolution are not particularly in sync, they do accord rather well with each other, as expected.
9. Convergence will occur, but will betray its separate origins. I have mentioned this before, yet I wish to emphasize the importance. Sometimes the similarities of eyes in cephalopods is brought up by creationists as too difficult for evolution to effect. However, the cuttlefish eye comes about via an invagination of its skin, while our eyes come partly as an outgrowth of our brains. The receptors in the two are completely different.
10. Parts of organisms and of organs will be made up of the parts of previously existing organs. We see this voluminously in the eukaryotic flagellum, and then we see, yes, in the vertebrate eye we have the eukaryotic flagellum operating in its seemingly very unlikely manner. But how else is an eye to be made by evolution, except by co-opting other parts? And, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, vertebrate wings are always made from the limbs of the terrestrial antecedents to those organisms, not from other wings as a designer might do (a really good designer would probably begin from first principles).
Well, that’s enough. I could probably think of some more, but these ten are an excellent list of how evolution makes predictions, and these are fulfilled. Quite unlike ID, which doesn’t make predictions, and the ones that honest IDists like Paley made failed completely.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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Glen Davidson

posted June 16, 2009 at 5:55 pm


Intelligent design advocates argue that their idea is empirically testable, and Stephen Meyer lists a variety of applicable tests in his new book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design.

No, they don’t argue it, they simply repeat it over and over because they have nothing.
If Cornelius Hunter were making an honest case, instead of the usual blather to cover the lack of substance, he’d tell us what these supposed “tests” for ID are. I’m not holding my breath, because we have never ended up with honest tests in the past, only false dilemmas like the idea that if evolution couldn’t do it, god the designer did it. And even that fallacious tests occurs only by ignoring the fact that evolutionary markers exist in all of the supposedly “too difficult to evolve” organs and organelles.
That life is complex is hardly a “test” for design, as it seems rather likely that it would be complex in any case. Less complex, most likely, than we see, however, since it is ridiculous (if essential in ID) to expect an intelligent designer to make diseases and defenses for organisms. By the way, the very existence of malaria as supposedly unable to evolve should be held as a falsification of any “ID hypothesis,” as making diseases to attack organisms (particularly the usually privileged IDist organism, the human) is utterly contrary to any actual design predictions.
Paley was relatively honest. He was not an honest scientist, but he was (IMO) an honest apologist. He appealed quite directly and honestly to what designers are known to do, and he “predicted,” more or less, that organisms would have the characteristics expected to come from an artificer or an architect. And by contrast, he attacked several other ideas, including at least one evolutionary one, by pointing out that these were ideas that could not be tested.
Darwin took him quite seriously–and showed that life does not have the characteristics expected from an artificer or an architect, rather to be modifications of often very unlikely precursors in the only way that evolution can proceed. I mentioned some of these in the previous post, though I don’t believe those were Darwin’s examples. So yes, ID can be tested, but only if it’s put out by honest folk, not people who are trying to re-define design into life, by using non-entailed “predictions” of complexity in life.
The only entailed prediction I can recall from an IDist was Behe in Darwin’s Black Box, when he pointed out the (rather obvious) fact that designed objects need only have “conceptual precursors,” and do not require “physical precursors” as evolution does. Well and good, but soon after he mentions that he largely ignores it (I believe he occasionally suggests some “conceptual precursors” exist as supposedly irreducibly complex pathways, but that’s merely stupid, because this irreducible complexity is made up of evolution’s physical precursors exclusively (ORFans are a complication, yet there’s nothing odd about proteins losing their relatives over the course of evolution)). Why? Because life is not made up of merely “conceptual precursors” which are rampant throughout known design evolution, but of physical precursors only, that anyone can ever show.
So there’s your one entailed test brought up by an IDist, and it fails miserably. If you want us to consider ID falsifiable via that, fine, we’ll call it falsifiable, and falsified.
That test is nearly the same as my favorite test, that of rationality being evident in life, which it is not.
“Purpose” is more difficult, perhaps, but it is at least a possible test for ID. So if humans were prone to perceive and praise god, without benefit to themselves, that could be an indication that we were designed to do so. Or if organisms existed to aid us without receiving reciprocal benefits (not counting domesticates, of course), that might indicate a purpose that wouldn’t come from evolution. You know, things like that might test ID, but of course, none of life has such evident purposes, meaning that this test falsifies ID as well.
This is an unworthy comment:

The metaphysics underlying evolution, and its history, are somewhat complex, but the bottom line is they rule out design.

Yeah, right. Darwin took Paley’s falsifiable ID seriously, and falsified it. The weaseling nonsense of today’s IDists changes nothing there, as it only tries to baptize evolutionary expectations (such as complexity) as “design predictions,” when they are nothing of the sort.
We do test for design of organisms. Largely through known specific effects, nevertheless we could be almost certain that, say, Bt toxin produced by corn plants is due to design without first knowing that corn plants were engineered to produce it. Contextual information would be needed, such as that corn plants rarely pick up bacterial genes (I believe that’s so), that none of the precursors existed in corn plants, and that there would be reason for an organism to put Bt genes in corn plants. Other crop plants having the same change within a few decades would be supporting evidence.
In many cases, domesticated animals and plants would be discernable via their reduced genetic diversity, and traits which are not survival related (sexual selection can confound matters, but would not appear to be behind, say, the many dog traits that we’ve selected, which are in both sexes).
Indeed, how could anyone detect design in life except that life does not otherwise have any evidence for design? It is only against the backdrop of unguided processes (and the “wild types” that are produced by them) that we will ever be able to detect design in organisms.
Or do David and Cornelius actually think that we cannot detect engineered organisms which may be loosed upon us? Might a god suddenly intervene, as supposedly in the past, and smite us with a radically different disease organism than what we have seen? If smallpox is designed to kill as many humans as possible, how are we to know that it wasn’t part of the normal course of god changing things to harm humanity, rather than some diabolical terrorist plot?\
No, we are not the ones who deny “design,” indeed, we are the ones who maintain the standards which allow for detecting design. The hint is, we look for changes that known designers actually cause, and not for the evolutionarily predicted aspects of life which would actually be disrupted by any known design process.
By the way, I thought of another evolutionary prediction worth mentioning (Hunter mentioned it, but it faded out with the droning nonsense of the apologist), for the fact that it tells against ID (along with everything else). Evolution predicts that evolution will take a very long time, given its processes and beginnings. Design has never once been seen to work over billions of years. So there’s another test of design.
To be sure, the reason why IDists will never accept the tests of “design” is that they know that life wasn’t designed, they think it is simply miraculous. In fact, that’s behind the ongoing fight of IDists against neuroscience, which also doesn’t manage to find god, but does manage to account for information as far as it is now able. They only claim life was designed because saying that it was poofed into being doesn’t cut it with the courts. Their “design” is unfalsifiable because it rests on the idea that “God can do anything,” and so don’t even care that life has no characteristics of design, save those that evolution explains much better.
Presumably, that’s also why Cornelius Hunter neither gets around to any actual “failed predictions of Darwinism” (other than obviously incorrect junk about altruism which continues to be investigated due to the fact that much previous research has been promising for the evolutionary approach), nor to any meaningful predictions of ID. It’s all about “god can do anything,” which to the IDist “mind” obviates all successful evolutionary predictions, and the abject failure of any entailed design predictions.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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David Klinghoffer

posted June 16, 2009 at 6:06 pm


Glen, why don’t you read Meyer’s book first, specifically on the issue of testability, and *then* respond rather than declaring in advance that you’ve got it all figured out and ID is untestable?



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Glen Davidson

posted June 16, 2009 at 6:27 pm


Glen, why don’t you read Meyer’s book first, specifically on the issue of testability, and *then* respond rather than declaring in advance that you’ve got it all figured out and ID is untestable?

David, why don’t you pay attention to what I wrote. If Hunter has anything to say on that score, he should say it.
I don’t need someone telling me that I will be enlightened by a book, when I have read Behe’s books, and much written by the IDists, and have not been given the slightest whiff of genuine ID prediction, save Behe’s prediction which fails so badly.
The mere fact that Hunter is woefully wrong on any number of points gives me no reason to believe him. And I’ve seen Expelled as well as Privileged Planet, and nothing was forthcoming there.
Here’s the real question. Why don’t you, David, actually read up on evolution before facilitating Hunter’s prattle and ad hominem attacks upon good honest scientists? I’ve read heavily on evolution, and significantly in ID. Neither you nor Hunter appear to know more than the barest aspects, and appear to have seriously distorted views even with respect to that minimal amount of knowledge, coincident with the nonsense emanating from the DI’s CSC and its various fellows.
In other words, it takes some chutzpah to suggest that I have not done my homework, when you so clearly have not done yours. Nor has Hunter, who seems oblivious to the actual meaning of evidence, instead meandering about in generalities and generally false ID platitudes.
Above all, it is not incumbent upon me to buy a book from someone who I find to be untrustworthy in order for me to answer an unsupported assertion by Cornelius Hunter (nearly all of his claims were unsupported). It is up to you guys to for once support your many claims, and a proper interviewer would have pressed Hunter for meaningful statements and evidence, or at least readily available sources of evidence.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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David Klinghoffer

posted June 16, 2009 at 7:02 pm


OK, Glen, you don’t want to read Meyer. So why not read Hunter’s website, which is effectively a book, rather than basing your view on a quick Q&A?



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Glen Davidson

posted June 16, 2009 at 7:42 pm


OK, Glen, you don’t want to read Meyer. So why not read Hunter’s website, which is effectively a book, rather than basing your view on a quick Q&A?

Here’s a thought, why don’t you answer our questions, and our responses?
I have never encountered an IDist who would do so. I wrote lengthy responses to your link, pointing out the inconsistencies and falsehoods put out by Cornelius, and all you do is tell me that I should read some more.
I have read plenty, and I have seen no reason to credit any of you, since we bring up important issues that you ignore to restate the same failed junk.
I didn’t know that Cornelius had a blog. I also don’t care, because I’ve read his stuff on UD and on ENV, and I find him to be both ignorant and prone to state what is not so. You have to give us a reason to bother with the pseudoscientists, rather than demand that we read everything they write, suggesting that we may have missed some substance when we’ve never found any.
And what remains is that it is the pot calling the kettle black. Above all, why should I read anything by anyone who hasn’t answered my 10 (or 11) predictions? Why don’t you explain through design Archaeopteryx‘s “poor design” which just happens to be what evolution from reptiles is predicted to produce? Then we could talk.
As no answers have come from your side about anything of substance, I have no reason to read further, particularly not the appalling nonsense of Cornelius Hunter.
And you have yet to begin to learn the science, or to properly interview someone spouting unevidenced nonsense. We have the reasons and the evidence, it’s that you and Cornelius simply deny it in order to demand that we take your lack of substantive discussion seriously.
I have to end by noting that if you do respond to me it will only to suggest once again that I should pay attention to those whose previous statements have proven endlessly untrustworthy, while you ignore the substantive remarks I have made. It won’t do, and I will repeat what I wrote beforehand, which covers well the game that you IDists play, and the reason behind it:

Presumably, that’s also why Cornelius Hunter neither gets around to any actual “failed predictions of Darwinism” (other than obviously incorrect junk about altruism which continues to be investigated due to the fact that much previous research has been promising for the evolutionary approach), nor to any meaningful predictions of ID. It’s all about “god can do anything,” which to the IDist “mind” obviates all successful evolutionary predictions, and the abject failure of any entailed design predictions.

If you or Cornelius at last have something substantive to present, by all means do. Until then, it is up to you and him to actually come up with some answers, to the heavy list of evidence we have for evolution, and the utter lack of evidence presented by your side.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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Curt Cameron

posted June 17, 2009 at 12:19 pm


How is Glen supposed to read Meyer’s book when it’s not even out until later this month?
And what kind of ridiculous announcement style is it, to publish your breakthrough scientific announcement in a book?
The honest way to do it is to submit it to a journal, subject it to peer review, and let it withstand the process of scientific scrutiny. If it survives that, THEN put it in a book for the lay audience.
Meyer is trying to give Pons & Fleischmann a run for the most inept way to announce a world-changing science finding. But this IS the Dishonesty Institute, so it’s the method I expect from them. I also expect this “breakthrough” to be a dud.



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Alchemist

posted June 17, 2009 at 12:30 pm


Glen,
Nice cogent responses which Klinghoffer deftly avoids in order to hide the shallowness of ID Creationist reasoning. As you well know, Glen, the problem with IDers, like Creationist, is they don’t do science. ID Creationism offers this formula for its followers:
God is the ultimate answer. Examine the empirical evidence and read it in the light that answer (i.e., God is responsible). Anything that isn’t readily explainable is caused by God. So, if you are an experimenter who runs up against a thorny and apparently unexplainable sample/process/organ/etc. just write it off as evidence of the divine and there is no need to inquire further. Case closed–those curious for a more elaborate assessment need not apply.
As Kenneth Miller succinctly states in ‘Only a Theory’ (Penguin, 2008), “For design to work, for it to succeed as a genuine scientific theory, it has to reward that curiosity. Unfortunately design is built upon a stunning lack of curiosity and a remarkable unwillingness to embrace scientific discovery. Design rests ultimately on the claim of ignorance, upon the hope that science cannot show evolution to be capable of producing complex organs, assemblies of molocules, or novel biological information. If evolution cannot achieve that, the argument goes, then design must be the answer” (p.87).
Science, which makes no claims about what God can or cannot do (and many scientists were devout individuals, like Einstein or Newton, who kept miracles out of their equations), attempts to study the mechanisms of creation and uncover the marvelous and awe-inspiring methodology of natural processes. Since science, by its very nature, cannot incorporate the divine/supernatural as an equation, the ID Creationists have set their sights on eliminating it all together. By sprinkling terms such as “intelligent,” “design,” “experimentation,” “tests,” etc., they make their mythos seem like an non-religious explanation of the cosmos.
Nonetheless, their own statements betray them. Steven W. Fuller stated at the Dover, PA trial that the ID Creationists plan to “change the ground rules of science to include the supernatural” (Judge Jones’ ruling, p. 30). Couple that with the IDers plan to sow doubt about the validity of scientific methodology far and wide, and you have the recipe for the destruction of post-Enlightenment civilization as we know it, which is just what they plan with impeccable clarity.
For instance, William Dembski makes it clear in the Preface to ‘Intelligent Design: The Bridge between Science and Theology,’ that the enemy is science because during the Englightenment “the rational foundations of the Christian faith were fundamentally altered” and lest we wonder just what the ID Creationists vehemently object to, Dembski continues, “evidence of any sort that could support the Christian faith was increasingly abandoned [...] Miracles, which had been regarded as particularly powerful evidence for faith, were now regardes as incoherent” (p. 16).
Aye, there’s the rub at the root of : religion (specifically Christianity) had a privileged position in pre-Enlightenment culture (what with the Inquisition and all), and the post-Darwin religionists have formed a hogepodge coalition to rectify the situation.
Ironically, while many folk think they are hearing a radical and revolutionary idea, in reality, this is a virulent, poisonous, anti-rational, non-scientific endeavor to put human civilization back in the medieval mindset with religion once again in its exalted position as arbitrator of all things human and divine.
By the way, in case readers are curious, I have no problem with religion and the existence of a higher power. Nonetheless, I seek scientific explanations for how this universe works and a simplistic “God did it” just isn’t good enough. I didn’t buy that from Sunday School teachers as a kid, and I don’t buy it as a well-educated adult. If God is involved directly, it is in the scientifically ascertainable natural laws, such as evolution, genetics, etc. that can be analyzed and understood via empirical science, not some slight-of-hand (“miracle”) show as the ID Creationists would have us believe.
Keep standing up for curiosity & true science, Glen!



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Your Name

posted June 17, 2009 at 12:39 pm


Ron,
Please put the cat out and water the flowers. Thanks much! Love Ya!
D.



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Matteo

posted June 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm


“And what kind of ridiculous announcement style is it, to publish your breakthrough scientific announcement in a book?”
Gee, I don’t know. Ask Charles Darwin.
From the original post:
“Is it enough to say, as J.B. Haldane quipped, that Darwinism would be falsified if fossil rabbits were discovered in the Cambrian strata?”
Darwinists are reasonable people, and don’t need something that wild and crazy to falsify their theory. For them, it would probably even suffice for God to write “Darwinism is false” on the moon or in the Horsehead Nebula. But no promises.



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Your Name

posted June 17, 2009 at 2:31 pm


Didn’t Darwinists predict that junk DNA would never be found to serve a purpose? That was the whole point of Dawkins’ “the Selfish Gene”. ID proponenst predicted junk DNA woudl be found to have somfe functions. It seems that junk DNA does have a host of functions. They don’t call it juk anymore, but rather non-coding DNA.
And Michael Behe predicted that HIV would have a hard time developing resistance to a three drug cocktail. So far, it has held up.



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Turmarion

posted June 17, 2009 at 3:50 pm


David, the posts on religious conversion and provincial orthodoxy were really intereting. I wish you’d post more like that.
However, at the risk of beating a dead horse, I will post yet again a series of questions that I have posted about two or three times so far.
1. Do you, David, believe that the teaching and promotion of evolution is somehow creating a milieu that is breeding killers like von Brunn or potential Hitlers?
2. If the answer to 1. is “no”, then what is the relevance of von Brunn’s beliefs?
3. Do you think that all the nasty things you mention (eugenics, shootings, etc.) are the necessary and inevitable outcome of evolution; or are you willing to admit that these may be mere twisted interpretations that are not representative of current thought among current biologists?
4. Do you understand the analogy I’ve made with Christianity and anti-Semitism, i.e. that some want to argue that Christianity necessarily and inevitably leads to anti-Semitism, when in fact this is not representative or true of most modern Christianity? If you don’t accept the analogy, what’s the difference?
5. Do you understand how your statements are seen by those who support evolution as vicious smears and slurs despite your repeated insistence that you don’t intend that? Do you understand how this poisons any possible dialogue?
6. Are you willing to concede at least the possibility that much of the Nazi atrocities, eugenics, etc. might have happened anyway, or at least that there are pre-Darwinian sources for them?
I realize that these questions aren’t directly relevant to the current post. However, you have never answered them, which seems to cast doubt on the sincerity of your desire for dialogue. Also, the main focus of your argument against evolution seems to be cultural, not scientific. Of course, I can see why, since I agree completely with Glen on this–no IDer has ever made testable predictions, and the attacks they make on evolutionary theroy in this regard are incorrect and ill-informed.
You didn’t respond to Glen’s points on the correct predictions of evolutionary theory. I’ll give you a pass on that–you’re not a scientist, although that’s not really an excuse, since you could have a colleague give you the appropriate answers, if there were any. I will not, however, give you a pass for not answering my questions, since they are in the area you’ve been harping on of late, and it seems that you are steadfastly ignoring and avoiding them. Which makes your statements sound like talking points to be repeated, not views to be defended by rational argumentation.
We’re all waiting.



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Curt Cameron

posted June 17, 2009 at 5:07 pm


Matteo wrote:
“Gee, I don’t know. Ask Charles Darwin.”
Maybe you’re not aware, but Darwin floated his ideas among scientists for years, and finally they were presented in a paper (jointly with Alfred Russell Wallace) to the Linnean Society in London.
His book came later.



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Matteo

posted June 17, 2009 at 6:29 pm


“Maybe you’re not aware, but Darwin floated his ideas among scientists for years, and finally they were presented in a paper (jointly with Alfred Russell Wallace) to the Linnean Society in London.”
What, and Meyer hasn’t? Is it his fault that everyone wets their atheist pants and tries to get people fired when his ideas are published in a peer-reviewed journal?



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Flasher702

posted June 17, 2009 at 6:51 pm


typo: “read” should be “ready” in the quote from Dawkins.
There is no such thing as a “Darwinist”…
You don’t appear to give any examples of failed predictions based on evolutionary theory. There are LOTS of them. They exist because it’s possible to use evolutionary theory to make all kinds of predictions, test them, and then go back and improve the theory based on the results. What’s your excuse for not even talking about a single one specifically, or any of them in general, and how it supports your position after including it in your title?
I do, however, have to agree that you could use ID to make ALL KINDS of predictions… but nearly any such predictions have been preemptively proven false by all the evidence showing that it didn’t happen that way that’s been gathered since before the first time Pasteur boiled pond muck in a bottle. Had the prevailing predictions based on ID-like ideas about how life is created been true it would have been proven way back then. How could you modify ID, while also keeping it testable, if a prediction used making it failed? If you can’t fix it to better fit reality you must discard it.



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David Klinghoffer

posted June 17, 2009 at 6:52 pm


Well said, Matteo. Are we really to think that if Darwin hadn’t been worried about being beaten to the punch by Wallace, he would have insisted on *first* publishing his idea as a brief article and only *then* following up with a book? Anyway, Meyer is a good illustration of the thought-policing that goes on in journals. I wrote in the Wall Street Journal about what happened to him, and more so to his editor at the peer-reviewed Smithsonian journal: http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110006220



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David Klinghoffer

posted June 17, 2009 at 6:55 pm


Flasher, why don’t you *read* Hunter’s book/website that my post refers to, rather than responding merely to my little summary? What is this Darwinist terror of actually confronting primary texts they don’t think they’ll agree with?



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Flasher702

posted June 17, 2009 at 7:41 pm


I made 3 points. You responded to one of them… the one that didn’t actually force you to address the topic. And I already admitted that there are TONS of failed evolutionary predictions why do I need to read about more of them?



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Turmarion

posted June 17, 2009 at 7:43 pm


Flasher is exactly right.
Science doesn’t work by finding one or two or a dozen predictions that theory X is wrong on and then saying, “Ha! Theory X is WRONG!” Instead, as Flasher said, you check which predictions are correct, which ones aren’t, you go back and refine and improve the theory, and then you continue to make tests, observations, and predictions.
Theories are usualy discarded only when new observations arise which it cannot account for, even with improving and refining, or which cut at its fundamental roots. or when the number of failures becomes so high that there is no alternative but to develop a new paradigm. For example, the theory of the luminiferous ether as the medium through which light travels in a vacuum worked fine until Michelson and Moreley’s famous experiment failed to find an ether at all. Even then, the theory was not discarded right away; speculation, research, and puzzlement ensued for almost thirty years until Einstein resolved the issue by discarding the notion of an ether altogether. The important point is that his theory explained all preceding phenomena as well as accounting for the new one, and made testable predictions. Einstein also based his theory on a new interpretation of the existing data, not on God-of-the-gaps argument (“the lack of an ether proves that God must cause light to propagate!”).
Now some of Einstein’s predictions were in fact wrong (e.g. his predictions that there was no real randomness in quantum phenomena, that quantum entanglement did not exist, and his proposal of the cosmological constant to preserve his preferred “steady state” cosmos). This didn’t mean that relativity was wrong. It meant that Einstein made some mistakes. They were corrected, relativity and quantum mechanics allowed for the revision, and they stood. Do they explain everything? No–quantum gravity is still elusive. The point is that the errors were fixable and the overall explanatory power of relativity is so great and the number of its successes so much greater than the number of its failures, that it is not seriously questioned.
Likewise with evolution. It does not explain everything, and it has made errors and required refinements. This, however, is par for the course for any scientific model. The overall accuracy and explanatory power of evolution far exceeds its real shortcomings.
Now, during the time between the Michelson and Moreley experiment and Einstein, it was unclear whether ether theory would be salvageable, or whether it would need to be discarded. Likewise, in the early days of relativity, it was uncertain if experiement would support it or not. It is conceivablY possible that some theory might come down the pike that displaces evolution (or any other model, for that matter). However at the present time there is no reason to believe this, any more than there is to believe that the days of relativity are numbered. Certainly ID doesn’t seem to be a contender, since it has as yet made no testable predictions and seems to have no method for self-adjustment, as other theories have shown in the past. God-of-the-gaps arguments are bad for science and religion both.
By the way, David, you still haven’t answered my questions.



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David Klinghoffer

posted June 17, 2009 at 9:14 pm


OK, Turmarion, so it turns out that your 1 urgent question is really 5 questions, but they all boil down to this: Are you, David, a simple-minded, hurtful ninny? Answer: No. At least I don’t think so.
In all seriousness, you raise an obvious question that Ron Rosenbaum and others have asked about Hitler. Was he “sincere” or a mountebank? Did ideas really drive him or did he use whatever intellectual detritus came to hand for his own purposes? That question is interesting to contemplate but I don’t see any ready answer.
You could ask the same about Christian anti-Semitism. Did some Christians hate Jews because of what’s written in the Gospels or would they have hated Jews anyway, and found other reasons for doing so, if the Gospels were written differently? Who knows?
But just as it’s legitimate to inquire into what anti-Semitic Christians said about Jews, and their use of the Gospels, it’s legit to do the same vis a vis Hitler’s and other haters’ Darwinian writings. Will this hurt the feelings of nice, current-day Darwin-believers? It shouldn’t. If Christians can endure this kind of historical inquiry, why can’t Darwinists?



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David Klinghoffer

posted June 17, 2009 at 9:25 pm


Flasher, if you’ll just take a chance and *read* Hunter’s website you’ll see why you need to read more about evo’s failed predictions.



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Scott M.

posted June 17, 2009 at 10:50 pm


Dear Mr. Klinghoffer,
I hope you’ll have the chance to pick up a book I’ve almost finished with. It’s called WHY EVOLUTION IS TRUE by Jerry Coyne. It’s very readable for a layman such as myself. What I really like is he lists a number of items that evolutionary theory would predict to be true and shows that they are.
One of my favorite pieces of information from this book is learning about the recurrent pharyngeal nerve (sp?). This nerve which controls the pharynx and helps with swallowing SHOULD be about 1 ft. long. It should go from the brain to the pharynx and the esophagus but it doesn’t. Instead, it goes down the throat, wraps around the aorta and then back up to the pharynx. So you can lose your ability to talk and swallow from a blow to the chest. Now for the really interesting bit – this nerve does the same thing in the giraffe! The giraffe’s recurrent pharyngeal nerve leaves its brain, goes down to its torso, once around the aorta and back up the neck. This particular nerve is something like 15 feet long!
What do you think? Intelligent Design?? or evolution by common descent?
It also has a picture of a baby human born with a(n atavistic) tail.
Best wishes.



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Turmarion

posted June 18, 2009 at 12:39 am


David: OK, Turmarion, so it turns out that your 1 urgent question is really 5 questions, but they all boil down to this: Are you, David, a simple-minded, hurtful ninny?
That was not, of course, what I was asking, and you are diverting the question.
Was [Hitler] “sincere” or a mountebank? Did ideas really drive him or did he use whatever intellectual detritus came to hand for his own purposes? That question is interesting to contemplate but I don’t see any ready answer.…Did some Christians hate Jews because of what’s written in the Gospels or would they have hated Jews anyway, and found other reasons for doing so, if the Gospels were written differently? Who knows? (emphasis added)
See, this is what I’m getting at. You’ve been beating the horse of “ideas have consequences”, and in these passages you appear to shrug and say, “Who knows whether Hilter was influenced by ideas? Who knows if anti-Semitism is intrinsic to Christianity or not?” After harping on the importance of ideas, you’re blowing them off! If Hitler was indeed directly influenced by Darwin’s ideas, and if such influence is more or less inevitiable, that’s an extremely important fact, right? If anti-Semitism is intrinsic to the Gospels themselves, and thus naturally endemic to Christianity, that’s very important, too, right?
[I]t’s legitimate to inquire into what anti-Semitic Christians said about Jews
I would never deny this and I completely agree.
it’s legit to do the same vis a vis Hitler’s and other haters’ Darwinian writings.
See, this was my point–you’re coflating science and religion. Even the term “Darwinist” indicates this. You don’t call someone who believes that classical physics is correct a “Newtonian”, or a believer in the correctness of relativity an “Einsteinian”, right? And as many, many posters here have pointed out time and again, modern evolutinary theory has been developed, changed, and refined many times since the day of Darwin. It would be like calling modern relativistic physics “Newtoninism” as if Einstein never existed! As if it were some religious belief, to boot! If the science is true it doesn’t matter what the sociological effects are! One doesn’t ditch the science–one just tries to get people to understand what really does and doesn’t derive from it. It’s just as with the earlier question I asked you about heliocentrism and it’s socio-cultural effects, which you never responded to.
Will this hurt the feelings of nice, current-day Darwin-believers? It shouldn’t. If Christians can endure this kind of historical inquiry, why can’t Darwinists?
Once again dodging the point. If someone wants to say (as Daniel Goldhagen and others more or less have) that Christianity is anti-Semitic in its very roots and in the Gospels itself, this is equivalent to saying that the two are part and parcel of each other. Christians who think otherwise are thus fools or dupes who are trying to pretty up the sordid backgrond of their own religion, to try to make is something nice when it’s really something nasty. If a person believes that, he is certainly free to say so, but I think it would be obvious why Christians would be offended. If I thought it were true, I wouldn’t be a Christian, since I would not belong to a faith for which hatred of any other people was an intrinsic, indelible aspect.
Likewise, if one wanted to argue (as some anti-Semites do) that Judaism is by its nature a vicious, warlike, and blood-thirsty religion because of the commands of God to obliterate whole populations (as opposed to the New Testament God of love), or because of supposed things in the Talmud, one is free to do so. However, I think Jews would rightly be offended. I don’t think Jews believe that genocide and destruction of innocents is an intrinsic part of Judaism, and that those who make such claims misunderstand, misinterpret, and/or distort the Tanakh and the Talmud.
Analagously, you clearly imply, without actually saying it in so many words, that it is not a mere accident that some have used evolutionary ideas to justify abominable behavior, but that it necessarily proceeds from it. In a sense this implies that those who believe in evolution are deluded fools who might be nice in person but who just can’t see the evil being perpetrated by evolution and who are making the matter worse by denying this. Likewise, if Christianity is intrinsically anti-Semitic, those of us (the vast majority) who are not and who deny that our faith is intrinsically anti-Semitic are deluded enablers of those who are anti-Semitic.
Thus, I am not calling you simple-minded, or hurtful, or a ninny. I am, however, trying to get you to talk straight. If you really and truly believe that Hitler, eugenics, Nazism, and shooters like von Brunn are the natural and inevitable outcome of belief in and teaching of evolution, then say so. I’m a big boy–won’t hurt my feelings, no matter how mistaken I might think you’d be.
On the other hand, if you think that this is not a necessary outcome of evolutionary thought, if you admit that it may be a misinterpretation, misrepresentation, or distortion of evolutionary thought, you can say that, too. I don’t think you want to say that because it would undercut your implicit argument that evolutionary thought naturally leads to bad things and that it should therefore be called into question.
To shurg and say, “Who knows if it’s the inevitable outcome?” is not an answer and is really rather irresponsible after all the heavy implications you’ve made. Anyway, if the situation is so unclear that “who knows” is a real answer, then it is certainly impossible to draw a line from Darwin to Hitler, right?
I understand that you believe that the concept of evolution by its nature undermines religious belief and that it cannot be made compatible with religion, and that it is therefore a bad thing. If I believed that, I would reject evolution myself. However, many, many committed Christians, and the majority of committed Jews see no contradiction in the two. They agree that the evidence is overwhelming for evolution, while at the same time not seeing that as inimical to or contradictory to faith, rightly understood.
You recommend books and reading to posters here, but you dismiss people like Francis Collins who are not only religious but who have excellent credentials as more or less nice people who can’t see what a delusion (or “fog”, as you’ve said) they’re bying into, how they are in effect trying to believe that 2+2=4 and that it also equals 5! You don’t say it in so many words, but you imply that compatibilists are either deluded or too stupid to understand the situation–which is something you have in common with Dawkins, I might point out.
Anyway, I am not trying to be unpleasant or personal. I compliment you highly on your non-evolution related posts. They are consistently well-written, thoughtful, and interesting. The tone is certainly radically different from the take-no-hostages, damn-the-torpedoes rhetorical style of the evolution-related posts. I don’t appreciate that tone much in Dawkins or P. Z. Myers, and I don’t appreciate it from the ID side, either.



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Your Name

posted June 18, 2009 at 7:54 am


You guys should really read Hunter’s website. My favorite is “Evolution has hundreds of millions of years available.”
Hunter points out that Darwin thought that the earth was 400 million years or older. But then William Thomson came along and said the earth was only 100 million years old, and later revised that down to 20-40 million years.
Later Hunter refers to evidence that life began 3.8 billion years ago. And refers to the cambrian period as being 600 million years ago.
But he then refers to the cambrian expolsion not being long enough and summarizes with this…
[i]
It is not a successful prediction because Darwin predicted that hundreds of millions of years would be available for evolutionary processes. Geology gave us deep time but paleontology made it irrelevant. Evolution must occur much faster than Darwin predicted. Today’s theory of evolution has been modified to account for the shorter time windows, and as a consequence is substantially more complicated. Evolutionists yet again claim success while the empirical data challenge their theory.[/i]
Really, you should read this stuff.
http://www.darwinspredictions.com/#_3.1_Evolution_has



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Glen Davidson

posted June 18, 2009 at 2:12 pm


Flasher, if you’ll just take a chance and *read* Hunter’s website you’ll see why you need to read more about evo’s failed predictions.

David, why did you even do the interview if it can only be backed up by us rooting through Cornelius Hunter’s tiresome litany of ancient and ridiculous creationist nonsense?
What always happens is that we get some “challenge,” meet it, and then we’re told that over the next rainbow the IDists will finally provide some substance. Well, they don’t, and the runaround is tiresome, very tiresome.
Do you really think that Hunter has something we haven’t seen before? I don’t even know what “Your Name” is on about, since the earth is even older than Darwin thought necessary. OK, I do know the tendentious tripe that is trotted out again and again, which is that the Cambrian “explosion” was too fast or what-not, while Hunter utterly ignores the fact that the life in the “Cambrian explosion” shows the same taxonomic patterns that creationists accept when it’s “microevolution,” but, without any reason or evidence, reject when it’s “macroevolution.”
So David answers none of the pressing issues of evolution, he just says over the next rainbow are the answers, or, failing that, over the still further rainbow, ad infinitum.

Why don’t you explain through design Archaeopteryx’s “poor design” which just happens to be what evolution from reptiles is predicted to produce? Then we could talk

Will Hunter, David, or any of the rest of these recyclers of YEC nonsense explain that, or any of the ten (or 11) predictions of evolution that I listed? Of course not, they can’t, and all they will ever do is ignore the issues while claiming that the answers all lie over some rainbow or another.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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Your Name

posted June 18, 2009 at 3:03 pm


According to this article:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/323/5915/732
there is no evidence that adaptive radiation ever took place.



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Your Name

posted June 18, 2009 at 3:11 pm


And as far as more modern species resembling existing species, to the bets of my knowledge that only applies to vertebrates. Invertebrates haven’t change much since the Devonian. The surtures on the amonites shell became more curvy, but most of the basic body plans have been around without much modification for >300,000,000 years. And since the overwhelming majority of species are invertebrates, that means that the overall pattern of life has been little or no evolution.



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Flasher702

posted June 18, 2009 at 5:28 pm


David,
You still didn’t respond to most of the content of my original post… In your title you said your post is about failed evolutionary predictions, but it isn’t, but you say people should go read the other article you’re promoting. Ok, fine. But you don’t say WHY they should read it. WHY does it matter that there are failed evolutionary predictions? It’s your main point and you don’t even include it in the excerpt. Hunter talks about it, you could have included it, but you didn’t. I asked you why you didn’t include it. Why did you include only negative attack on Dawkins, “darwinists”, and atheists that has. At least one of those groups is both real AND a group of biologists, 1/3rd relevant. What does this have to do with atheists? What does this have to do with normative human mating practices? It’s probably because Hunter’s conclusion when looking at the same parameters I discussed is whining about how evolutionary theory has become too complex and many of their explanations need further testing “The evolutionary epicycles, on the other hand, have become intricate and complex, and quite disconnected from any observable phenomenon in nature.”. Not very quotable but sometimes scientists are like that. Oh, and it’s nonsense and as a biophysicist he knows it (cuz, you know, physics theory hasn’t gotten too complicated to be understood by laymen or anything).
A great number of predictions about life based on creationism have also been proven false. How has ID amended the theory in a way that keeps it both useful and testable? (hint: the answer is “it hasn’t… we just ignore negative results and make new predictions about things that are increasingly obscure/hard-to-test and increasingly compatible with evolutionary theory”)
I essentially had three questions for you:
1. Where is the content? (you answered… and added ad hominem arguments for extra flare you git)
2. Why is the content important? (I answered for you)
3. How has ID dealt with this same situation?
And now I really also want to know:
4. Why are you so obsessed with attacking “darwinists”, atheists, (ok, I can at least understand why you’d go after Dawkins), and improperly conflating morality with ID, instead of actually providing information or answering simple questions? You did it in your OP, the article you linked to isn’t much better, and when called on it you did it more. Does ID have answers or is it just a rallying cause for people who hate “darwinists”?
I await your reply.



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Flasher702

posted June 18, 2009 at 5:32 pm


I even agreed with one of your main points, that you *can*, quite easily, make predictions with ID (and the package deal agreement that people who claim otherwise are either lying or stupid)… and I still get no love. Is it because you’d rather argue about whether it can be done or not instead of whether or not such predictions have any value? ;)



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Glen Davidson

posted June 18, 2009 at 6:22 pm


I tend to ignore the obviously YEC-inspired tripe that “Your Name” goes out and finds, because it’s so devoid of substance.
But I got a bit curious about “According to this article:
sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/323/5915/732
there is no evidence that adaptive radiation ever took place,” as it’s actually from a good source. And it does nothing but confirm that adaptive radiations do take place. The abstract:

Biologists have long been fascinated by the exceptionally high diversity displayed by some evolutionary groups. Adaptive radiation in such clades is not only spectacular, but is also an extremely complex process influenced by a variety of ecological, genetic, and developmental factors and strongly dependent on historical contingencies. Using modeling approaches, we identify 10 general patterns concerning the temporal, spatial, and genetic/morphological properties of adaptive radiation. Some of these are strongly supported by empirical work, whereas for others, empirical support is more tentative. In almost all cases, more data are needed. Future progress in our understanding of adaptive radiation will be most successful if theoretical and empirical approaches are integrated, as has happened in other areas of evolutionary biology.

Here’s a sample of some of what the article says:

1) Early burst of evolutionary divergence: Typically, there is a burst of speciation and morphological diversification soon after the beginning of the radiation rather than similar rates through time.

2) Overshooting: An early increase in species diversity is followed by a decline that plateaus (or substantially decelerates).

Etc. There’s a list of 10 patterns of adaptive radiation.
Who knows where “Your Name” dug up such a horrifyingly opposite description of the article from what it actually is.
On to speciation:

Invertebrates haven’t change much since the Devonian. The surtures on the amonites shell became more curvy, but most of the basic body plans have been around without much modification for >300,000,000 years. And since the overwhelming majority of species are invertebrates, that means that the overall pattern of life has been little or no evolution

Considering what I actually wrote, “Older organisms will be more unlike later ones,” and that ammonites are extinct, of course the pattern holds. Like I said, organisms evolve, extinctions occur, and quite unlike designed objects, they never appear again if they’ve gone extinct.
There is no species that has lasted from the Cambrian onward, and in fact the Cambrian animals are often unrecognizable from what exists today. Insects hadn’t even evolved. Picking the Devonian as the starting point is only done to deny the considerable evolution taking place before then, although one also has to ignore the considerable evolution afterward. Think of shelless (on the outside) cephalopods, for instance.
Go back to the Ediacaran, and it becomes impossible to say definitively that any of those organisms have descendants today. It’s argued both ways. Before that, multicellular organisms as we know them today (not simple colonies and the like) do not appear to have existed, unless a few worms might have.
Even if invertebrates hadn’t evolved, or evolved much, the vertebrates alone would fit the predicted pattern of evolution–since nothing in evolution insists that organisms have to evolve. But creationists cheat, by saying that the “basic body plan” didn’t evolve, when a great deal of invertebrate evolution happened. Indeed, the “basic body plans” appear to have become nearly unalterable, while a fantastic array of digestive chemistries and behaviors continued to evolve in invertebrates.
In addition to the rather later evolution of octopuses (Cretaceous), termites and other social insects evolved well after the Devonian. Nautiluses, in fact, are said to have recently undergone an adaptive radiation, in just the last few million years.
“Your Name” has failed even to address the issues. But then, at least it was closer to a good faith effort than either David or Cornelius gave us.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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Glen Davidson

posted June 18, 2009 at 6:58 pm


Hunter, as I noted, is ignorant. I went off to his “failed predictions” nonsense, and found this at #2: “Eukaryotes evolved from prokaryotes.”
Of course they did, although it’s difficult to say how fully, and impossible to say exactly how it was done. We know that eukaryotes evolved (at least via lateral gene transfers) from prokaryotes because there are a host of genes in eukaryotes that are homologous with those of eubacteria and of archaebacteria.
Yet in what way is the evolution of eukaryotes from prokaryotes with extant lines at this time predicted by evolution at all? This is just it, Hunter either makes junk up, or more likely, steals it from creationist “literature,” then passes it off as if it were meaningful. David points us to it as something we should pay heed to, without giving us any reason to believe that Hunter is an honest seeker of truth, competent in this area, or even knows how to evaluate evolutionary predictions. And the fact is that his writings are second-rate junk.
There are people who think that eukaryotes were always separate, and did not evolve from what we call “prokaryotes,” save for the extensive lateral transfers of genes. Possibly eukaryotes would have to evolve from some kind of prokaryote, or kinds of prokaryotes broadly defined, if we consider evolutionary theory in context, but Hunter’s supposed failure of “Darwinism” hinges upon eukaryotes purportedly not evolving from the ancestors of today’s prokaryotes, not the possibility of eukaryotes evolving separately from quite a different prokaryote, then picking up large numbers of genes from other prokaryotes.
Hunter doesn’t even understand what an evolutionary prediction is, then.
More to the point, if you look at his list of supposed predictions (www.darwinspredictions.com/#_3.1_Evolution_has), he mostly avoids the ones that I listed, while he opts for something someone said some time that didn’t turn out to be the case (or so he alleges).
It’s pure attack, no evaluation of the successes of evolution and the abject failure of ID or any other idea to provide answers that evolution provides. That’s why he’s been brought up here, at UD, and at the DI’s blog, because he ignores what is ably explained by evolution, while he uses cheesy arguments to make up “Darwinian predictions,” then shoots them down as ridiculously as he brought them up.
But then, the ad hominems and lack of substance in his interview gave away the fact that he is no honest seeker after truth, merely an attack-dog on science. His idiotic list of “failed predictions” only drives home the fact that he has nothing, even though anyone with discernment could tell that from his substance-free attack in the interview.
Glen Davidson
http://electricconsciousness.tripod.com



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Your Name

posted June 18, 2009 at 9:04 pm


I read that the brachiopods, almost identical to modern brachiopods showed up in the Cambrian. Same thing with the nautilus. Same thing with bivalves, snails annelids, modern coral showed up a little later. Insects, spiders, scorpions, and horseshoe crabs that are only slightly different from modern species are from the Devonian, after the cambrian but still a long time ago. It seems like a lot of the changes you are describing are mostly cosmetic. Plants very similar to modern plants made big forests in the carboniferous. Angiosperms showed up in cretaceous but they haven’t evolved muc since then. We really don’t know when termites and octopi showed up. They didn’t fossilize well due to soft bodies. Since ~95% of organisms have not evolved much in 300,000,000 years it looks like the overall pattern is not what evolution predicted.



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