Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Fraud, Disgrace & Swindle: A Few Thoughts on Richard Dawkins’s “Greatest Show”

posted by David Klinghoffer
A variety of consumer fraud depends on an advertiser using undefined or vaguely defined terms to mislead the buyer. A food item, for example, might be offered as “organic,” “light,” “natural,” or “Animal Care Certified,” according to a definition known to the seller but never clarified for the purchaser. In his bestselling recent defense of “evolution,” The Greatest Show on Earth, atheist biologist Richard Dawkins can be charged with engaging in just that sort of deception. Dawkins continues to win plaudits even from surprising venues like the conservative interfaith journal First Things. Allow me to contribute a few thoughts.
Why did I put “evolution” in quote marks just now? Because the word is used to mean many different things. If it simply refers to the fact that life has taken varying forms, with species coming and going from the fossil record over the course of hundreds of millions of years, then the case for “evolution” seems undeniable. If it means that all life is joined by a continuum of descent, then there is evidence to support the idea and Dawkins presents it — though other, contradictory evidence exists as well, unacknowledged by Dawkins, pointing in other directions.
If it means that species themselves take varying forms over time depending on environmental factors or human manipulation — with modern dogs, for instance, emerging from wolf ancestors through the intervention of breeders — then again the case for evolution seems airtight if trivial. Not even the Biblical creationists that Dawkins rejoices in abusing as “history-deniers” (on the model of “Holocaust deniers”) deny the fact of microevolution. Dawkins, like Darwin before him, makes much of artificial selection. It’s quite a trick, however, for an artificially derived animal breed to survive in that form in the wild. Darwinian evolution is about nature’s selecting genes for enhanced survival. If you release your poodle in the forest and leave him there, be prepared for tragedy.
Against literalists who read the Bible as if it were a newspaper retelling of past events, Dawkins argues strongly for an “old” earth. Against, well, nobody, he argues at great length for microevolution. Yet with his undoubted gift for lucid expression as a scientific popularizer and cheerleader for other people’s research, he raises no serious objections to the case for intelligent design made by any of its foremost champions.
Intelligent design is the scientific theory that finds positive evidence of a guiding, designing purpose at work in life’s history. It stands in contrast with Darwinian evolution, which finds blindly, purposelessly churning natural selection operating on random variation to be adequate in explaining the forms that organisms have taken.
In the contemporary debate about life’s origins and history, the two main opponents locked in combat are Darwinian evolution and intelligent design. The really meaningful definition of evolution, the one that’s actually up for discussion between the majority of orthodox biologists and a dissenting, frequently suppressed yet growing minority of Darwin doubters, is the definition that has to do with the evolutionary mechanism. If that mechanism, natural selection, explains everything, then that leaves no role or purpose for a designer like the God in whom Jews, Christians, and other theists believe. 

Whether intelligent design advocates are right or wrong on the scientific merits, this is why Darwinism remains controversial with many millions of thoughtful people — with, in fact, most Americans. A Zogby poll commissioned by the Discovery Institute in 2009 showed that 52 percent of Americans agree “the development of life was guided by intelligent design.”
Dawkins keeps these facts veiled from his reader, whom he must picture as the sort of faux sophisticate who likes to believe that sophisticated types are all Darwinians while it’s only rubes from the Bible Belt who would deny “evolution,” whatever that word even means.
As for intelligent design, Dawkins alludes to it by name in one chapter. He mocks the “unintelligent design” evident, he thinks, in the recurrent laryngeal nerve’s detour from the brain to the chest and then back up to the larynx. In a giraffe, he points out, the detour is extremely long. Furthermore, look at what a seemingly disordered jumble a creature is once you cut it open: 

The overwhelming impression you get from surveying any part of the innards of a large animal is that it is a mess! Not only would a designer never have made a mistake like nervous detour; a decent designer would never have perpetrated anything of the shambles that is the criss-crossing maze of arteries, veins, nerves, intestines, wads of fat and muscle, mesenteries and more.

This is not science. It’s embarrassingly naïve theology. How exactly does Dr. Dawkins know what a designer that he doesn’t believe in would do? It is also an example of the famous “argument from incredulity” with which design theorists are always tagged. Repeatedly, Dawkins discovers that he can’t understand why a designer would make this or that design choice as we find it in certain organisms. Therefore, a designer didn’t do it.
Dawkins compares the “haphazard mess” inside a person or animal unfavorably with an automobile’s orderly manifold with its “neat line of pipes.” Are we humans poorly designed compared to our cars? Rare indeed is the car that can reason, dream, love, create exquisite art, or engage in a conversation. The origins of fully modern human beings capable of all those things, the Cromagnon man whose sudden burst into creative life about 35,000 BCE the British physician and writer James Le Fanu powerfully describes in his recent book Why Us? (Pantheon), is another subject that Dawkins ignores.
Writers in the intelligent design community have offered cogent responses to the challenge of seemingly flawed design — not that Dawkins gives any evidence of being aware of those responses. But this is all a distraction. The major arguments for design go unremarked upon or unanswered. Nowhere mentioned in the book are the names and thoughts of the leading ID proponents: Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, Philip Johnson, Jonathan Wells, Doug Axe, Robert Marks, just for a few examples. Dr. Dawkins, famous for his evangelizing atheism, stays very far away from Meyer’s topic in particular — the origin of the first life — than which nothing could be more fundamental. 
Dawkins alludes to ID proponent Michael Behe not by naming him or quoting from his work but by dismissing the argument for design, articulated by Behe, from “irreducible complexity.” The illustration Dawkins offers that’s supposed to refute the implied Dr. Behe is one that Behe has written about extensively. It has to do with the evolutionarily acquired ability of E. coli bacteria to digest citrate. Behe has demonstrated that nothing in the enthusiastically trumpeted experiment by Richard Lenski, fawningly praised by Dawkins, falls outside what Behe calls the “edge” of Darwinian natural selection, its modest capacity to effect change at a microevolutionary level.
Dawkins seems unaware of Behe’s published response to Lenski, just as he appears not to know that Behe’s analysis of how extraordinarily difficult it would be for a human population to develop evolutionarily just two linked mutations has been confirmed in the page of the journal Genetics. Writers there, who started out seeking to refute Behe, estimated that it indeed would take more than 100 million years just for that couple of measly mutations to pop up, making even such a minor genetic event “very unlikely to occur on a reasonable timescale.”
Dawkins said recently that intelligent design proponents do not deserve to be debated by him because they haven’t “earned it.” The putdown would presumably apply to the more than eight hundred scientists who have signed a statement declaring their doubts on the ability of natural selection to produce macroevolutionary changes in life’s shapes and forms. The signers include professors at institutions including MIT, Yale, and Rice universities.
In Dawkins’s view, who does deserve to be debated? Who has “earned it”? The opponents cited and attacked in the pages of The Greatest Show on Earth include Answers in Genesis, a website associated with the young-Earth creationist ministry of Ken Ham; Andrew Schlafly, a lawyer and proprietor of the website Conservapedia; and Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America. At one point Dr. Dawkins reproduces the text of a television exchange he had with Mrs. Wright, apparently thinking that he, the retired Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, came out pretty well in the encounter. 
This is a disgrace. Many a father has warned his young, rambunctious son that if he’s going to bother or fight with other kids at school, at least let it be a boy who’s older and bigger. Richard Dawkins is the cowardly school boy who elects to harass girls and littler kids exclusively, while steering a safe course well away from boys his own size or bigger.
With a tin ear for Americanisms, Dawkins doesn’t know what an ironic title he has chosen for his book. The phrase “Greatest Show on Earth” was first applied to the circus run by Dan Rice, the 19th-century clown and showman, decades before P.T. Barnum scooped up the slogan for his own. Rice prided himself on his honesty. He strove to keep his circus free of the fraudulent entertainments he disdained in other circuses — men dressed up as bears performing stunts, fake pythons stuffed with sawdust, “strong men” lifting phony weights, and the like. 
This book’s defense of Darwin, which ignores the weightiest critics that evolution has and deflects the reader’s attention from the main problems that Darwinism faces, is a swindle. Its hucksterism would not be allowed under Dan Rice’s circus tent.


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Turmarion

posted January 5, 2010 at 9:43 pm


If it simply refers to the fact that life has taken varying forms, with species coming and going from the fossil record over the course of hundreds of millions of years, then the case for “evolution” seems undeniable.
This in essence concedes the argument on evolution. The majority of people who are anti-evolution, I’m inclined to believe, don’t even accept what you say here, and/or are young Earth creationists. You, Behe, and the other IDers who accept evolution, though a minority among “Darwin doubters”, are really more in accord with Dawkins on this issue than with YECers.
The opponents cited and attacked in the pages of The Greatest Show on Earth include Answers in Genesis, a website associated with the young-Earth creationist ministry of Ken Ham…. Many a father has warned his young, rambunctious son that if he’s going to bother or fight with other kids at school, at least let it be a boy who’s older and bigger. Richard Dawkins is the cowardly school boy who elects to harass girls and littler kids exclusively, while steering a safe course well away from boys his own size or bigger.
By which you concede the hollowness of YEC, implying that it’s not worth debating since its proponents hold a view too weak to defend, as opposed, presumably, to the proponents of ID. Strike two in arguing against your own side.
How exactly does Dr. Dawkins know what a designer that he doesn’t believe in would do?
How does either of us know, either? How does anyone besides God know? The issue here is consistency–IDers will point to the flagellum or the eye or certain chemical processes and say, “See, this could be explained only by a wise designer; thus, this is proof of God,” but then when defective designs are pointed out they say, “Who can say how God designs? That’s no proof against Him.” One can’t legitimately argue both ways. If the flagellum points to design, one would expect a giraffe’s nerves to, also; if the latter don’t point to design, then there is no a priori assumption that the flagellum does, either.
If that mechanism, natural selection, explains everything, then that leaves no role or purpose for a designer like the God in whom Jews, Christians, and other theists believe.
This is the real crux of it all, which proves it’s not really about science or the consequences of ideas, but about religion, contra the claims of many in the ID community. As I and others have explained at great length here in the past, the portion in boldface is something we disagree with. God, in our view, works through natural selection; there is thus plenty of “role or purpose” for God. So it’s not really about the science or the culture; it’s about your views of God and how He works. Those of us in the theistic evolution camp would say that the evidence available favors our view (though it could hypothetically change with new evidence), but it’s more about how one conceives of God than about the evidence as such.
I’m inclined that, barring some earth-shattering scientific discovery or Divine intervention, nothing either side says will convince the other, since it’s about views of God, and those don’t easily change. I do think it is salutary to come clean about one’s presuppositions and what one accepts and rejects, which to some extent at least David has done here (probably to the disappointment of more of those young Earthers whom he seems so reluctant to offend).



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Your Name

posted January 5, 2010 at 10:11 pm


This is pathetic. Making infantile judgements about Dawkins personally shows ID believers like yourself have got nothing. Science is not there to prove or disprove god nor is the supernatural in any science theory. So evolution has nothing to do with views on god. Science is materialist, which is another way of saying it deals with reality only. Every ID claim has been utterly debunked but even if they weren’t it could never be regarded as science as it has supernatural causality. For ID to be science it has to at least state who the designer is (it is too gutless to even do that) and what mechanisms that designer used. Then you could study which mechanism fits the evidence. A design theory with omits who or what the designer is just a cherry picking public relations exercise.



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Steve

posted January 5, 2010 at 11:15 pm


David wrote: “If it means that all life is joined by a continuum of descent, then there is evidence to support the idea and Dawkins presents it — though other, contradictory evidence exists as well, unacknowledged by Dawkins, pointing in other directions.”
David, what “contradictory evidence” that “point[s] in other directions” are you referring to? Many people know that bacteria that was on earth about 3.5 billion years ago evolved into all of the complex organisms that have lived on earth. For instance, some of the ancestors of all elephants are bacteria. Here is a quote from Ernst Mayr’s (from his book What Evolution Is):
“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).
Here is a link to some of the kinds of reasons that have helped me know that some of the ancestors or all elephants are bacteria:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/



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David Klinghoffer

posted January 5, 2010 at 11:22 pm


Steve, you’ve now written eight lengthy comments that at a glance seem to make the same points. One such is enough. The rest I’ve unpublished.



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Steve

posted January 5, 2010 at 11:26 pm


No, most of my posts are different. A few were the same because they didn’t get published, and I though there was something wrong with the blog. Please let the posts stay. This is different than the other post of mine you published:
David wrote: “Intelligent design is the scientific theory that finds positive evidence of a guiding, designing purpose at work in life’s history. It stands in contrast with Darwinian evolution, which finds blindly, purposelessly churning natural selection operating on random variation to be adequate in explaining the forms that organisms have taken.”
David, what are you suggesting occurred? Specifically, what are some of the biological events on earth that you believe a designer proximately caused? Did the designer poof the first two elephants into existence? Poof! Poof!
It is overwhelmingly unlikely that any deity or extraterrestrial proximately caused the existence of any organism on earth or proximately caused the existence of any parts of any organisms to be on earth. First, the proximate cause of the existence of trillions and trillions of organisms (and parts of organisms) is known to be some event other than the acts of any deity or extraterrestrial. For instance, my existence was proximately caused by two people reproducing. Second, no person knows of any event remotely similar to a deity or extraterrestrial proximately causing the existence of any organism. For instance, I’ve never seen an extraterrestrial use a high-tech device (for instance, the transporter on Star Trek) to poof an elephant into existence
David wrote: “Dawkins alludes to ID proponent Michael Behe not by naming him or quoting from his work but by dismissing the argument for design, articulated by Behe, from ‘irreducible complexity.’ The illustration Dawkins offers that’s supposed to refute the implied Dr. Behe is one that Behe has written about extensively. It has to do with the evolutionarily acquired ability of E. coli bacteria to digest citrate. Behe has demonstrated that nothing in the enthusiastically trumpeted experiment by Richard Lenski, fawningly praised by Dawkins, falls outside what Behe calls the ‘edge’ of Darwinian natural selection, its modest capacity to effect change at a microevolutionary level.”
It is overwhelmingly unlikely that any deity or extraterrestrial proximately caused the existence of any of the parts of any E. coli. First, the proximate cause of the existence of trillions and trillions of parts of trillions and trillions of organisms is known to be some event other than the acts of any deity or extraterrestrial. For instance, we see lots of E coli with the ability to digest citrate come into being through asexual reproduction. It happens every day. Second, no person knows of any event remotely similar to a deity or extraterrestrial proximately causing the existence of any organism or any part of any organism. For instance, I’ve never seen an extraterrestrial use a high-tech device (for instance, the transporter on Star Trek) to poof into existence the trunk of an elephant.



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Steve

posted January 6, 2010 at 12:25 am


David, thanks for posting my previous post. The following post is different than the two that you have published:
1. David wrote: “Dawkins, like Darwin before him, makes much of artificial selection. It’s quite a trick, however, for an artificially derived animal breed to survive in that form in the wild. Darwinian evolution is about nature’s selecting genes for enhanced survival. If you release your poodle in the forest and leave him there, be prepared for tragedy.”
That humans played a role in helping some dogs be as different as they are from other dogs doesn’t make the differences among dogs unhelpful in determining that common descent is true. Humans merely caused some dogs to reproduce with some dogs rather than other dogs. Non-human events have also caused some organisms to reproduce with some organisms rather than other organisms. For instance, if one population of organisms is geographically isolated from another because of a weather event, this can limit which organisms any given organism can reproduce with. Geographic isolation caused by a storm may have contributed to the differences among some of the Galapagos finches. So, the kinds of events that caused certain dogs to reproduce with other dogs are similar to events caused by non-humans that caused some organisms to reproduce with others.
2. David wrote: “Dawkins seems unaware of Behe’s published response to Lenski, just as he appears not to know that Behe’s analysis of how extraordinarily difficult it would be for a human population to develop evolutionarily just two linked mutations has been confirmed in the page of the journal Genetics. Writers there, who started out seeking to refute Behe, estimated that it indeed would take more than 100 million years just for that couple of measly mutations to pop up, making even such a minor genetic event “very unlikely to occur on a reasonable timescale.”
David, could you provide a citation to this article in Genetics? Many people know that all humans share common ancestors with all chimpanzees. Please see my previous posts.
3. David wrote: “It stands in contrast with Darwinian evolution, which finds blindly, purposelessly churning natural selection operating on random variation to be adequate in explaining the forms that organisms have taken.”
What do you mean by “random variation?” Not all genetic and phenotypic variation is completely unpredictable. For instance, some humans can predict with a reasonable degree of confidence the mutation rates of some organisms. For instance, humans average about 130 new mutations per sexual generation. And some parts of a genome mutate at a higher rate than other parts. The higher mutating parts are often called “hot spots.” There are even so-called “mutator alleles.” In other words, some people can predict that some alleles will mutate at a higher rate than other alleles, and some humans can determine which alleles mutate at this higher rate. Here is a link:
http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/MAR07/Event/63045



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Paul Burnett

posted January 6, 2010 at 7:34 am


David wrote: “Intelligent design is the scientific theory…”
Intelligent design creationism is not “scientific” and it is not a “theory” in any scientific sense. The National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and essentially every other actual scientific organization in the country agree that intelligent design creationism is a pseudoscience – not science.
And a Zogby poll commissioned by the Dishonesty Institute in 2009 showed that 52 percent of Americans are scientifically illiterate proves exactly what? Other than that the Dishonesty Institute has its work cut out to convince the other 48 percent that intelligent design creationism is not pseudoscience but science. So who defines “science” – the Dishonesty Institute or the National Academy of Sciences?



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Turmarion

posted January 6, 2010 at 8:56 am


I think this paragraph, from the David Hart essay to which you linked in First Things says it all elegantly and concisely (emphasis added):
“The best argument against ID theory, when all is said and done, is that it rests on a premise—’irreducible complexity’—that may seem compelling at the purely intuitive level but that can never logically be demonstrated. At the end of the day, it is—as Francis Collins rightly remarks—an argument from personal incredulity. While it is true that very suggestive metaphysical arguments can be drawn from the reality of form, the intelligibility of the universe, consciousness, the laws of physics, or (most importantly) ontological contingency, the mere biological complexity of this or that organism can never amount to an irrefutable proof of anything other than the incalculable complexity of that organism’s phylogenic antecedents.
Please note that Hart took Dawkins to task (rightly, in my view) on issues where he was in error, and that Hart has also written books against the New Atheists, so he’s definitely not an enemy of theists or a friend of Dawkins and company.



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Wayne Hollyoak

posted January 6, 2010 at 9:07 am


Dawkins really demonstrates how atheism has latched onto evolution as one of their main apologetics. If atheists hadn’t protected the theory from open inquiry it may not have survived the explosion of understanding about genetics that followed Mendel’s work.
Of course Darwin knew about the “reversion to wilds” principle of breeding and how novel traits fail to persist when breeding regimens are not vigorously maintained. Darwin also erroneously uses the most extreme cases of geological isolation and the extreme forms of adaptation that it produced on Galapogos Island, (beak variants on finches, etc.)and tries to apply this sort of process to living things as a whole. Now, connecting a very toothy velociraptor jaws to the tiny toothless jawless beak of a finch presents a much bigger dilemna.
I agree, the title is very fitting. This “show” is much more P.T. Barnum.
Wayne Hollyoak
http://www.scifaith.com



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Bruce

posted January 6, 2010 at 10:38 am


The universe dies, just like everything in it. Even though it’s lifetime is in billions of years, any finite number, no matter how large, when compared to the infinite is equal to zero (!). Therefore, the chances of the universe being here now are zero unless it at once always has been and will be as it is here now. Nothing as a condition is known to be unstable as maximal entropy results in a change in phase state that needs no prime mover. Thus, all thought is prayer and all thoughts are answered, it must be so; the infinite as multiverse construes it. This is both a comfort and your only warning.



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Ray Ingles

posted January 6, 2010 at 11:25 am


Intelligent design is the scientific theory
Really? I was not aware that it had moved beyond ‘hypothesis’ yet. A ‘scientific theory’ accounts for a large body of data, makes testable predictions, and has had a large number of those predictions tested and verified.
I’m not aware of any ID proponents actually doing research driven by the theory. At most, I’ve seen them propose isolated examples of biological systems that “couldn’t have evolved” (e.g. the bacterial flagellum, the clotting cascade, the vertebrate immune system) which subsequent research has show to be quite evolvable.



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Ray Ingles

posted January 6, 2010 at 11:32 am


How exactly does Dr. Dawkins know what a designer that he doesn’t believe in would do?
Um, wait. How do ‘intelligent design’ proponents know what a designer would do?
I mean, either design can be detected or it can’t. If the purposes of the designer are unknowable, then how can you say that the design fulfils the designer’s purposes?



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Ray Ingles

posted January 6, 2010 at 11:41 am


Behe’s analysis of how extraordinarily difficult it would be for a human population to develop evolutionarily just two linked mutations has been confirmed in the page of the journal Genetics.
I’d advise people to follow this link to the actual paper. To quote from the abstract: “In addition, we use these results to expose flaws in some of Michael Behe’s arguments concerning mathematical limits to Darwinian evolution.”
In addition to some other problems (“One obvious problem with their analysis is that they do their calculations for N = 1 individual ignoring the population genetics effects that produce the factor of sqrt(u2)”) they point out the effects of the population varying in size over time (large populations allow more mutations, shrinking populations increase the chances for fixation) and temporarily-isolated subpopulations allowing separate fixation that’s later combined.



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Dan

posted January 6, 2010 at 12:53 pm


Intelligent seems not to be a scientific theory. It has no testable hypothesis and is not falsifiable. Meyer’s lists in his book are bizarre and unscientific. Further, if it is as easy as he asserts, why does he have nothing to show of it after 20 years. I sure wouldn’t want to go 20 years without publishing some significant scientific discoveries on a “theory” I’m espousing. I’d look like a hack. (for the record, Dawkins title is one of an educator, not a researcher; further, much of his science teaching covers the fact of evolution, it’s not theory)
Behe also started this kick over 15 years ago and he still has how many publications supporting it? Oh, none. Just this year alone I have published more than Behe has in the past decade.
Can someone please provide the experimentally or observationally derived biological evidence and data demonstrating intelligent design and its mechanism; this data must be reviewed and critiqued by experts – no hacks. Something so groundbreaking ought to be in some premiere journals – Science, Nature, Cell, PNAS, etc. I have been unable to find it in the scientific literature. Thank you.



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Ray Ingles

posted January 6, 2010 at 1:33 pm


Wayne Hollyoak – you write, Now, connecting a very toothy velociraptor jaws to the tiny toothless jawless beak of a finch presents a much bigger dilemna.
Well, actually, that’s kind of a non-problem. The earliest beaked birds appeared about 130 million years ago, long before velociraptors (75 million years ago)



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Steve

posted January 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm


1. Wayne Hollyoak wrote: “Dawkins really demonstrates how atheism has latched onto evolution as one of their main apologetics. If atheists hadn’t protected the theory from open inquiry it may not have survived the explosion of understanding about genetics that followed Mendel’s work.”
I not sure what you mean. Many people know that bacteria evolved into elephants. Please see my previous posts. And human knowledge of genetics has helped many people know that bacteria evolved into all the complex organisms that have lived on earth. For instance, there is a strong correlation between how anatomically similar any two organisms are and how genetically similar they are. For instance, I’m more anatomically similar to chimps than I am to fish, and I’m more genetically similar to chimps than I am to fish. Humans are remarkably similar genetically to chimps.
2. Wayne Hollyoak wrote: “Of course Darwin knew about the ‘reversion to wilds’ principle of breeding and how novel traits fail to persist when breeding regimens are not vigorously maintained.”
Darwin knew that many people believed that domestic varieties, when put in the wild, would revert to their non-domestic traits. And he thought it was possible that if domestic cabbage was left in the wild, it might evolve into cabbage more like its non-domesticated ancestors. But he also claimed that any reversion to non-domesticated varieties would not refute the idea of common descent, because populations of organisms can be in very different circumstances. So, the habitat that led to the first australopithecines was a savannah, which is a very different habitat than the forest habitat in which lived the most recent common ancestor that we share with chimps. Darwin believed that if domestic varieties, after being domesticated, would eventually produce offspring that were similar to their non-domesticated ancestors, this might cast doubt on the idea of common descent. But he also said that domesticated populations don’t evolve to their non-domesticated ancestors when domesticated varieties are kept in their domesticated circumstances. This is in the first chapter of Origin of Species.
3. Wayne wrote: “Darwin also erroneously uses the most extreme cases of geological isolation and the extreme forms of adaptation that it produced on Galapogos Island, (beak variants on finches, etc.)and tries to apply this sort of process to living things as a whole. Now, connecting a very toothy velociraptor jaws to the tiny toothless jawless beak of a finch presents a much bigger dilemna.”
The variety of finches in the Galapagos is not sufficient for me to know that reptiles evolved into birds. But the variety of finches in the Galapagos is not the only data available to me. For instance, there is fossil data.



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Dave

posted January 6, 2010 at 2:25 pm


Stop calling Intelligent Design a scientific theory. There is no science.



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John

posted January 6, 2010 at 2:59 pm


“Intelligent design is the scientific theory that finds positive…”
I had to stop reading right there. Calling ID a scientific theory only exposes your ignorance of science, kind of like an overcoat wearing pervert in a park. Until you faith-heads can learn the difference between science and wishful thinking, you should just stick with your bible studies and leave the real science to those willing to do the hard stuff.



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Mark2

posted January 6, 2010 at 3:40 pm


Turmarion writes: “IDers will point to the flagellum or the eye or certain chemical processes and say, “See, this could be explained only by a wise designer; thus, this is proof of God…”
Not the ones I prefer to listen to. I prefer the ones who say, “See, this could best be explained by a wise designer.” Catch the difference?
YourName writes: “Every ID claim has been utterly debunked… ”
Not 60% of their claims. Not 80%. Not even 99%. Nope, Every Single One. Wow! (Not bad for a theory that isn’t even supposed to be falsifiable!!)
Klinghoffer writes: “This is not science. It’s embarrassingly naïve theology. How exactly does Dr. Dawkins know what a designer that he doesn’t believe in would do? It is also an example of the famous “argument from incredulity” with which design theorists are always tagged.”
Besides Turmarion’s not-exactly-a-defense of Dawkins on this, (which was tu quoque-ish: “How does either of us know, either? … The issue here is consistency–) does anyone else want to defend Dawkins from this charge?



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Lee Vegas

posted January 6, 2010 at 3:54 pm


I, too had to stop reading at “Intelligent design is the scientific theory that finds positive…” NO. ID is in no way a scientific theory.
You put evolution in quotes but not “intelligent design?”
LV



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Max

posted January 6, 2010 at 5:06 pm


“Intelligent Design Theory”? Please elaborate. You apparently know something that the Discovery Institute and the other ID cheerleaders don’t.



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Dan

posted January 6, 2010 at 5:19 pm


Ok, let’s try a different approach.
If you read Dawkins’ book (I have not), perform the following:
1. Prove Dawkins’ claims wrong with evidence and data: demonstrate the fact of evolution does not and has not occurred and that natural selection does not and has not occurred as a means to cause evolution.
2. Provide the biological experimental data showing intelligent design.



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David Klinghoffer

posted January 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm


What I wish that Dawkins-defenders like Dan et al. would do is explain to me why, if ID is such a lame excuse for a scientific idea, Dawkins in his book defending evolution will not address ID’s arguments? He will argue with Bible literalists who have no scientific background, but he will not address ID advocates who make their case based on their own scientific training which is not inferior to his own? Please explain to me why this does not constitute bullying and cowardice on his part.
Dan, you don’t seem to understand that in reviewing his book, I’m not obliged to write a book of my own making the opposite case. Others have done that but Dawkins won’t grapple with them. And that is the entire point of what I wrote.



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Brett Allen

posted January 6, 2010 at 6:45 pm


Mark2 being falsifiable and being a pile nonsense is not the same. Falsifiable means you have a experiment or claim on the evidence which if true would categorically invalidate your theory. TalkOrigins.org addresses most of the ID claims. Also this rubbish that Dawkins is hiding from the wonderful ID arguements is just that. His book the God delusion addresses many. But really the science of evolution is not reliant soley on Dawkins. It has 150 years of research behind it. What this is really about is the religious fear that evolution turns people into athiests and thus must be opposed. People don’t turn atheist because of evolution, they turn atheist due to the complete lack on any evidence for a diety. Faith is the only real thing about religion as it is real as any human behavior.



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Your Name

posted January 6, 2010 at 7:32 pm


When anthropologists find a piece of flnt with a sharp edge, they infer that it was designed by a proto-human. If they find rocks arrainged in a circle they sya it was the foundation of a prehistoric hut. Why is design allowed as an explanation in anthropology but not in biology?



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Your Name

posted January 6, 2010 at 8:11 pm


Your Name, because flint rocks have un-natural cleaves and certain arrangements of rocks also are un-naturally arranged. They are facts not theories. ID nonsense about irreducibility (Dembinski), “its a design because I say so” (Behe), and “DNA looks like a computer program” (meyer) are not facts but theories based on cherry picked evidence that have other readily available explainations. Firstly, Genes can be co-opted to produce different protiens, Behe nonsense is just riculous and Meyer nonsense relies on the stupidty that a metaphor is a thing. My daughter’s smile is like a sunrise does not make my daughter’s smile able to warm the earth. So DNA being like a computer program does not make it a computer program. It is all aimed to convince non-scientists.



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Jorg

posted January 6, 2010 at 8:28 pm


“this is why Darwinism remains controversial with many millions of thoughtful people — with, in fact, most Americans. ”
That demonstrates nothing but the poor quality of American educational system. Get real.



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Turmarion

posted January 6, 2010 at 9:18 pm


Mark2: Not the ones I prefer to listen to. I prefer the ones who say, “See, this could best be explained by a wise designer.” Catch the difference?
I should know better than to argue with you at all but: “Best” is often in the eyes of the beholder, right? Is superstring theory the “best” explanation for the structure of the cosmos, with present demonstrable knowledge? Physicists have different intuitions, and there is insufficient data thus far to prove anyone right or wrong, so they disagree. This is exactly what Hart (a believer, I might point out) meant when he talked about intuitions regarding complexity. They might be compelling to an individual, but they aren’t science. The luminiferous ether was, intuitively, a very sound theory, but unfortunately Michelson and Morley disproved it by rigorous experimentation.
Besides Turmarion’s not-exactly-a-defense of Dawkins on this, (which was tu quoque-ish: “How does either of us know, either? … The issue here is consistency–) does anyone else want to defend Dawkins from this charge?
Unless anyone here wants to claim direct revelation from God, no one knows how the Designer would choose to design anything. Heck, Job, chapters 38-41 forcefully emphasizes humanity’s sheer ignorance of how God works. Let’s put it like this: If we look at the biological world, there are some things that seem to be amazing signs of remarkable design, and others that seem to be absolute botches that a high-school biology student could improve upon. In short the evidence we have points both toward andagainst a wise designer. Barring an increase in the state of our knowledge, either through scientific research or Divine Revelation, neither side, from a strictly logical perspective, can use the evidence to support their case without being inconsistent. There’s just not enough evidence either way.
The point for evolution is that in areas where it is possible to demonstrate what happened (e.g. radiometric dating, intermediate fossil forms, genetic relationship between various organisms such as chimps and humans, etc.), the evidence all favors the evolution side. Yes, there are gaps in our knowledge–but such gaps have been filled in the past and may be filled in the future, so it’s dangerous to try to use them as “proof” of anything. An argumentum ad ignorantiam (argument from ignorance) is a logical fallacy.
David: What I wish that Dawkins-defenders like Dan et al. would do is explain to me why, if ID is such a lame excuse for a scientific idea, Dawkins in his book defending evolution will not address ID’s arguments?
For the same reason no serious scientist would address the flat Earth theory or the geocentric cosmos (you never have said anything in response to my extensive discussions on that, btw) or Lamarckianism.
He will argue with Bible literalists who have no scientific background, but he will not address ID advocates who make their case based on their own scientific training which is not inferior to his own?
I don’t know the tone or tenor of the discussions of Dawkins with the YEC people, so I don’t know if he “bullied” them or not, though I would grant that his attitude often comes off in his books as bullying. In fact, the article you linked to at First Things gave what I thought to be an excellent critique of Dawkins’s errors, shortcomings, and bad attitude. However, if someone said to me that two plus two equals five; and I patiently explained to them, “Look, here are two apples, and here are two more. Count them–how many are there?” and the other person still said “Five,”–well, what do you do?
This is kind of what Dawkins did–the person would say, “There is no evidence for X,” Dawkins would say, “But this right here is an example of evidence for X,” and the person wouldn’t say, “Gee, I don’t understand that,” or “I need to talk to someone who knows more about it than I do.” They simply ignored it.
Look–if one were to give a broad, conceptual explanation of how a car or a computer works, or why aspirin kills pain, or some such, to a person with no scientific training, even if the person didn’t completely understand it, they’d probably assume you knew what you were talking about. They’d at least listen to what you had to say and respond as best they could, rather than ignoring it or flatly saying, “That’s not so.” However when it comes to Genesis, YECers do just this–they ignore or deny the science, even if it is the basis of other things (e.g. nuclear power plants) that they may rely on (e.g. for electricity).
David, you have said that you believe the evidence is unimpeachable for a multi-million-year-old cosmos and for (at least) long-standing change in species. Do you think that young-Earth creationists should go on holding incorrect views on these matters? Sure, they may be nice, wonderful people, but there may be nice, wonderful flat-Earthers. Isn’t truth a value that Judaism and Christianity share? Shouldn’t those who hold erroneous notions be (charitably and gently) set right and corrected? Or is it OK if they happen to be on your side?



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Your Name

posted January 6, 2010 at 10:23 pm


Your Name at 8:11
So design is admissible as an explanation. Its just a question which is better. And better just means more intellectually satisfying, which is just a question of taste.



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Your Name

posted January 6, 2010 at 10:47 pm


Your Name at 10.23.pm how on earth do you draw that conclusion. Design would be admissible if the casusality was based on reality and it was falsifiable and not explained better by theories that do not cherry pick evidence but use all of the evidence. It is not about beliefs or emotionally satifying anything it is about science which ID is not.



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Your Name

posted January 6, 2010 at 11:42 pm


I’m just trying to understand why ID isn’t science. It can’t be because design is not admissible, because it is admissible in the case of the flint knife. It can’t be because it isn’t fasifiable because people have claimed to have disproven ID, which means it has been falsified. If it has been falsified, it is falsifiable. And it can’t be because because it depends on the supernatural, because it doesn’t necessarily depend on the supernatural. The designersmight have been extraterrestrials, ala Hoyle and Crick. And supernatural explanations are allowed in the multiverse theory. Its just that the magic is happening somewhere else. I’m just trying to understand.



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Your Name

posted January 6, 2010 at 11:46 pm


But peopel have calimed to falsify design. That means that it is falsifiable. And how is the multiverse theory any more reality based than ID? It certainly isn’t falsifiable.



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Your Name

posted January 7, 2010 at 12:44 am


Falsifiable means you have a test that if true would invalidate your theory. Debunked is your theory is better explained by other theories, based on cherry picked evidence or is complete rubbish. If you do not understand that than you do understand science so no argument will make sense to you and you can only decide emotionally. I don’t know why you think multiverse theory invokes the supernatural, it doesn’t. Also Crick et are on about panspermia which is an old unscientific idea that came about because at that time catalytic RNA wasn’t found. It has been now. You are right in saying it was a supernatural explaination as it was a ‘God of the gaps’idea. As such it was never accepted science. Hoyle and Crick had many wacky ideas that were disproved.



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Turmarion

posted January 7, 2010 at 12:49 am


Your Name at 10:23: So design is admissible as an explanation. Its just a question which is better. And better just means more intellectually satisfying, which is just a question of taste.
Not quite. We know, from observing humans, what kinds of cultural traces and artifacts they leave; we know, for example, what kinds of stone tools they made (or in some cases still make) and how they made them. Thus, we have some frame of reference. By definition, no one knows how or why an omnipotent Creator would do anything (even the Bible agrees on this point). Thus we have no frame of reference to which we can refer and say, “Gee, this looks like a creation of God,” as we could point to a stone knife and say that it is evidence of human activity.
Based on observed biology, there is no decisive evidence for or against design philosophically speaking. One’s intuitions here are indeed a matter of taste. Really, for a theist, it’s not even a question of design vs. randomness, but a God who creates with little or no evolution (that is, who more or less makes the cosmos “as is”) vs. a God who uses evolution and natural selection to work His will. The question is whose intuitions are better supported by evidence. Radiometric dating, the distance of distant stars in relation to the speed of light, and many other factors long ago demolished the young-Earther idea that the cosmos is only six millennia old. The common descent of all life and the kinship, say, of chimps and humans have also been well-demonstrated–even Behe accepts these notions.
So observed evidence can’t prove or disprove the existence of God or that He did or didn’t create the cosmos. Contra some on both sides of the issue, this is a question that cannot be settled either way empirically or by science, even in principle. Thus belief in a Creator God is a matter of intuition and taste. However, observed evidence can and does provide strong evidence that evolution has indeed occurred more or less as described by the neo-evolutionary synthesis. The ID claims that the existence of a designer can be proved (as opposed to intuited or believed) because certain biological facts have no other possible explanation has not to date been demonstrated.
The point is that it’s not a matter of proving or disproving God, but of what mechanisms the evidence supports–evolution over millions of years by natural selection (which of course can be God’s instrument, if one believes in God) as opposed to a God who either created the world as is a few thousand years ago, or who created it so that evolution runs for awhile but then needs to be “jimmied” by Him. There is as yet no evidence for any such “jimmies” as ID claims; hence it has no validity.



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Jim

posted January 7, 2010 at 3:58 am


You talk about frauds and then you call ID a scientific theory? Are you a biologist or a theologian? Let’s let biologists do their jobs which frankly, if infinitely more difficult and takes far more training than yours.
-just sayin’



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Your Name

posted January 7, 2010 at 5:57 am


But debunked means proven untrue, which means falsified.
Multiverse says that there are a numbert of universes where the laws are different, which means that there are universes where unicorns do exist, and magic happens. Its just happening somewhere else. And it isn’t falsifiable.
And during Hoyle’s time the accepted orthodoxy was a primordial protein replicator. His main problem was that the chances of a replicator, protein or RNA happening by chance was so small, that it would requie more time than the universe has been around for it to happen. The biggest problem was his rejection of the Big Bang theory and a universe that isn’t infinitely old. He did provide lots of evidence for panspermia in his book.
And ID does not speak about God.



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Your Name

posted January 7, 2010 at 6:01 am


Utterly feeble article. Yet another attack on the greatest evolutionary biologist of a generation that is totally without merit. Intelligent design is so transparently the last vestige of those who are finding it increasingly difficult to rationalise their belief in God.
As atheists have pointed out on thousands of occasions you cannot disprove a negative and ID proponents can keep postulating their ludicrous proposition without any evidence becasue it’s not actually disprovable. It’s just so obviously Christianity dressed up as something more modern that it’s painful to behold for anyone free of religious dogma.
Please stop wasting our time with idiotic concepts such as ‘faith’ ‘belief’ ‘mystery’ ‘spirituality’ and any other bronze age scribblings you thing are still relevant but clearly aren’t.



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Turmarion

posted January 7, 2010 at 7:04 am


It looks like there are two or three different “Your Names” running about here. Could some of you guys use some different handles so we can distinguish?
Your Name at 5:57 AM: Multiverse says that there are a number of universes where the laws are different, which means that there are universes where unicorns do exist, and magic happens. Its just happening somewhere else. And it isn’t falsifiable.
Which is why it is no more science than ID is. Yes, many physicists accept it, but there are many who oppose it on the grounds that it is neither empirically verifiable or falsifiable. I agree with the latter. I think some of the hoopla about the multiverse is because it sounds interesting in a sci-fi sort of way; and I think many of its proponents are dissatisfied with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics and are trying to come up with something they perceive to be better. That still doesn’t make it science. Sorry.



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Mark2

posted January 7, 2010 at 8:14 am


YourName at 6:01 writes: “As atheists have pointed out on thousands of occasions you cannot disprove a negative ”
I bet that if you claimed you had an elephant in your house, and I were to claim you didn’t, (and brought some friends to inspect your house), I think that they would all conclude that I was right. And they would just laugh at your “but you didn’t prove it!”
See also:
http://philosophersplayground.blogspot.com/2007/01/bell-inequalities-and-proving-negative.html



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GalapagosPete

posted January 7, 2010 at 11:48 am


Mark2, I think what YourName was trying to get at was something along the lines of “The Dragon in My Garage.” Google it.
An inability to disprove a hypotheses does not mean the hypothesis is therefore true. For a hypothesis to be considered valid a way to disprove it must be provided; ID has no such falsifiability to it. ID is perfect: good design, bad design, heck, even *no* design – everything supports it!
Which makes it an invalid hypothesis.



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GalapagosPete

posted January 7, 2010 at 11:52 am


“Why did I put “evolution” in quote marks just now? Because the word is used to mean many different things.”
Not in science. In science it has only one meaning: descent with modification.
The explanation goes on for some length, but that’s not the same as having different meanings.



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Mark2

posted January 7, 2010 at 1:14 pm


Galapagos Pete, thanks for the reference. I was displeased with the way I approached my last post anyway. Wasn’t thinking so clearly this morning.



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John K

posted January 7, 2010 at 1:55 pm


When anthropologists find a piece of flnt with a sharp edge, they infer that it was designed by a proto-human. If they find rocks arrainged in a circle they sya it was the foundation of a prehistoric hut. Why is design allowed as an explanation in anthropology but not in biology?
How many pieces of flint do you suppose have been observed breeding and procreating? None. That puts them outside the realm of evolution by natural selection.



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Turmarion

posted January 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm


David, I’ll point out the same thing here I did on the other thread–you still haven’t answered my questions, posted above. Well?t



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Your Name

posted January 7, 2010 at 8:03 pm


John K:
Maybe the flinst where sharpened by weathering, or maybe they were part of land slide where the rocks got banged together. And maybe a flood deposited rocsk in a circle. But they always assuem design.



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Schlofster

posted January 8, 2010 at 3:43 am


David, you Say “Writers there, who started out seeking to refute Behe, estimated that it indeed would take more than 100 million years just for that couple of measly mutations to pop up, making even such a minor genetic event “very unlikely to occur on a reasonable timescale.”
As a religious person, I am surprised that you don’t feel ashamed that you conveniently leave out the next paragraph where they show why that conclusion is false.
You are being dishonest, here is the next paragraph from the article in question:
“To be precise, the last argument shows that it takes a long time to wait for two prespecified mutations with the indicated probabilities. The probability of a seven of eight match to a specified eight-letter word is 8(3/4)(1/4)7 {approx} 3.7 x 10–4, so in a 1-kb stretch of DNA there is likely to be only one such match. However, LYNCH (2007, see p. 805) notes that transcription factor binding sites can be found within a larger regulatory region (104 – 106 bp) in humans. If one can search for the new target sequence in 104 – 106 bp, then there are many more chances. Indeed since (1/4)8 {approx} 1.6 x 10–5, then in 106 bp we expect to find 16 copies of the eight-letter word.”



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Rohan

posted January 8, 2010 at 7:19 am


Thanks Galapagos Pete for clarifying my point more eruditely to Mark2
It’s essentially the same as Russell’s famous teapot argument:
“If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.”



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Your Name

posted January 8, 2010 at 2:12 pm


To the author of this article, did you actually read the The Greatest Show on Earth? That entire book is about the evidence for evolution and you called it a farce by not presenting a single opposing argument. I challenge you to research every person who signed that ‘anti-evolution’ petition, you’ll find most weren’t scientists, and none of them are biologists except a few who have asked to have their name taken off the list. Where did you get the information for this article? How ridiculous.



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fanfare

posted January 9, 2010 at 11:25 am


You write “In the contemporary debate about life’s orgins and history, the TWO main opponents locked in combat are Darwinian evolution, and Intelligent design (creationism).” You are manifestly wrong. You neglect the FSM counter theory. Noodly appendages can do wonderous and astonishing things. The FSM can even manipulate and distort the thoughts of charlatans throughout history—from a murderous Abraham to Moses, from the long haired hippie LIBERAL like Jesus to a sociopath like Mohammed to more recently Joeseph Smith, Charles Manson, and David Koresh. FSM.



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Mark2

posted January 10, 2010 at 12:10 am


YourName at 2:12pm writes: “That entire book is about the evidence for evolution and you called it a farce by not presenting a single opposing argument.”
One, he never called it a farce, and two, if he was /thinking/ that it is a farce, all he was doing was pinpointing farcical /parts/ of it.



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Your Name

posted January 10, 2010 at 9:07 am


Schlofster:
I don’t understand why the section of the article that you quoted makes a difference. The relevant point of the article is the time it takes for two point mutations, one that truns a control sections, off, and anotjher thaty tunrs it in in a different context. Unless, I am mistaken, the quote you sited is about the chances of the control gene working in a different context because you need a close match to the control proteins.



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V for Victory

posted January 11, 2010 at 5:10 am


What did Dawkins mean with ID proponents not being worthy of serious debate?
Perhaps it has something to do with Judge John E Jones III conclusions after the famous Kitzmiller v Dover trial:
“After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID IS NOT SCIENCE. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are:
(1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation;
(2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980’s; and
(3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community.”
Hope that helps.



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Your Name

posted January 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm


V,
Looks like the “Jones Ruling” points out major flaws in the criteria used to qualify stuff as science. If ID is true and everything was placed here by a supernatural designer, then science is completely irrelevant. A totally useless endeavor. It cannot lead to any basic understanding of origins. Science is forced to remain atheistic in order to remain “legal” in the US.
That’s the complete hypocrisy of the scientific establishment. They institute athiesm as the national religion by hiding behind their funky form of science. While trying to force creationists and ID proponents out of “legit science” because of faith.
I’m beginning to wonder, what is “science” really good for?
Wayne



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JOHNBOY

posted January 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm


Dawkins always states correctly a designer of our complicated selves must be at least equally complicated. If your design argument is correct, then the intelligent designers would be required to have intelligent designers. This would lead to an endless parade of designers. If we argue that there is intelligence (such as a supernatural designer – which no one can know exists) that needs no designer, then we may as well argue nature is this designer. We at least know there is something we call nature. We have no clue as to what a “supernatural anything ” is.



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Mark2

posted January 12, 2010 at 2:59 am


Johnboy writes: “Dawkins always states correctly a designer of our complicated selves must be at least equally complicated.”
Problem is, he’s incorrect.
The “Who created God?” argument that is asked in the first class in Theology 101. Next time, don’t skip out on the rest of the semester, and you’ll get an answer.



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Your Name

posted January 12, 2010 at 12:32 pm


Mark 2: Conspicuously, you don’t actually provide an answer yourself. The infinite regression problem seems intractable to those of us who skipped Theology 101 (aka the Invisible Fabrics requirement for a B.A. in Emperor’s Clothing), as well as to far greater lights. Perhaps rather than simply being flip you’d care to take a stab at it?



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D. Balmat

posted January 12, 2010 at 3:23 pm


David,
You assign great significance to certain numbers, including the “eight hundred scientists” who have declared their doubts regarding evolution. To paraphrase (I think) Charles Bukowski’s response to a young poet who sought to impress with the sheer number of poems he had written: Eight hundred? Oooh! Yale? MIT?! Ooooooh!!
I expect you have heard of Project Steve? Initiated in response to the list you note, the Project asks scientists to endorse a statement that the scientific evidence is “overwhelmingly in favor” of evolution and that there is “no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence,” and that ID is a “pseudoscience.” The catch? To qualify, a scientist must be named “Steve” (or a variant, e.g., Stephen, Esteban, Stephanie). As of this writing, more than 1100 Steves have signed. One can only imagine the final tally if eligibility were expanded to include every scientific Tom, Dick and Harry.
As to the Zogby data you cite, popular opinion polls are of course completely irrelevant to scientific inquiry. Other polls regularly reconfirm widespread belief in all sorts of nonsense, including alien abduction and alternative medicine. Would you have an oncologist debating various cancer treatment methods consider polling data establishing that lots of people believe that acupuncture works? Your suggestion that Dawkins is being duplicitous in “keeping veiled” this irrelevant polling data is misguided at best, disingenuous at worst.
The point, of course, is that whether of the lay or scientific community, polls are meaningless with regard to actual science. Scientists and their theories are not entitled to respect or serious consideration simply by virtue of advanced degrees or popular vote. Scientists first must practice actual science, by proposing falsifiable theories that may be tested by replicable experiments.
ID proponents may do this some day, but they have not done it yet. “Irreducible complexity,” the cornerstone of ID, puts the cart before the scientific horse. Per your own Discovery Institute, an object is irreducibly complex if it “contains high levels of complex and specified information (CSI).” However, “CSI” is itself an abstract, intellectual construct; ID “researchers” define CSI and then go look for examples that, they claim, fit their definition. And guess who determines what constitute a sufficiently “high level” of CSI to indicate irreducible complexity? In any event, the tired examples of irreducible complexity regularly trotted out by ID proponents – e.g. the bacterial flagellum, the eye – have been demolished by Dawkins (“it turns out half an eye is indeed better than no eye at all”) and others time and again.
You accuse Dawkins of arguing from personal incredulity. However, your “champions” are guilty of much more egregious examples of such fallacious thinking. Your support of Behe in particular sounds a variation on the theme: Despite your desire to believe it so, “extraordinarily difficult” and “very unlikely” are not the same as “impossible” or “didn’t happen.”
Of course, the thrust of Dawkins’ giraffe example is that at the first level of investigation the proposal of a Designer is an odd one to make. And to the extent that the designer is argued to be God, anyone who made such clumsy blunders is not worthy of the Name. For despite protests that ID is not tarted-up creationism, ID is indeed a direct response to the fear that if “natural selection [] explains everything” it “leaves no role or purpose for a designer like the God in whom Jews, Christians, and other theists believe. “
And this explains Dawkins’ current concentration on the non-scientific crowd. As with much other bogus science, ID is being trumpeted most loudly by lay people with a profound misunderstanding of science as a discipline, such as Ken Ham, the Texas Board of Education, and everyone’s favorite thinking idiot, Ben Stein.
The “weightiest critics that evolution has”are truly bantams who continue to be thoroughly trounced in the scientific arena. Unfortunately, the piffle of ID is working its mischief in the public sphere, and this harm to public knowledge must be countered. Fortunately, Richard Dawkins is there to counter it.



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Timothy (TRiG)

posted January 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm


You really shouldn’t review books you haven’t read. There’s an entire appendix article on the (scientifically irrelevant) polling data you accuse Dawkins of hiding.
TRiG.



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Alan

posted January 21, 2010 at 1:04 am


“This book’s defense of Darwin, which ignores the weightiest critics that evolution has and deflects the reader’s attention from the main problems that Darwinism faces, is a swindle. Its hucksterism would not be allowed under Dan Rice’s circus tent.”
The author is absolutely correct.
What all the opponents here are able to say are either: “ID is not a scientific theory” or “Who is God’s designer?”, which do nothing
to prove anything. Such questions can be refuted easily.



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Alan

posted January 21, 2010 at 1:19 am


“This book’s defense of Darwin, which ignores the weightiest critics that evolution has and deflects the reader’s attention from the main problems that Darwinism faces, is a swindle. Its hucksterism would not be allowed under Dan Rice’s circus tent.”
The author is absolutely correct.
What all the opponents had to say was either (1) “ID is not a scientific theory” or (2) “Who is God’s designer?”, which does
nothing to prove anything.
Evolution is a scientific theoy but it is unable to prove itself correct. ID, even if not a scientific theory, makes MORE sense to
an honest and unbiased person.



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GalapagosPete

posted January 26, 2010 at 2:55 am


“,,,the weightiest critics that evolution has…”
“Weighty critics”? Well, these “weighty critics” with whom you are so impressed have been unable to falsify evolution. “Weighty failures” is more like it.
“…the main problems that Darwinism faces…”
Such as? There is no evidence that undermines Darwinian evolution. None.
Feel free to prove me wrong, though.
And ID is not a scientific theory because there is no evidence for it. Come up with evidence and submit some papers for peer review. Until then, ID will remain not science.
Well, who *is* your god’s designer?
You say these questions prove nothing, and I submit that you’re wrong. The fact that you are unable to answer them and try to deflect the reader’s attention from that inability says volumes.
“ID, even if not a scientific theory, makes MORE sense to an honest and unbiased person.”
If by “honest and unbiased” you mean “deliberately ignorant”, I agree, although that’s a strange use of “honest and unbiased.”



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Matris Fututor

posted April 22, 2010 at 6:25 pm


Richard Dawkins forgets that evolution can be disproved by asking “WHY ARE THERE STILL PYGMIES + DWARVES?”. Scientists just don’t know. Only God knows.
Matris:)



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mythical hell

posted September 5, 2010 at 7:14 pm


The writer talks about Dawkins as a huckster? WOW!! Let’s take a look at the vast number of tv evangelists who are the cream of the crop when it comes to hucksters, they take advantage of many, many, suffering christians(and they themselves are supposed to be christians)for their own monitary benefit! Example: Benny Hinn is worth 200+ million dollars and Pat Robertson is valued at 300 million plus a diamond mine in Africa! WHEN ARE CHRISTIAN AUTHORITIES GOING TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST THIS??!! It’s been a problem for many decades! Jesus said take the beam out of your eye before you try to remove the speck from another!



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amy likes sun energy

posted June 24, 2011 at 7:00 am


Intelligent design is the proposition that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.



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