Oh No! I've Seen the Impossible! My Eyes!

By Carl Zimmer | December 30, 2008 3:24 pm

Ah, the things you learn from creationists…

If you’ve ever read about intelligent design (a k a “the progeny of creationism”), you’ve probably encountered their favorite buzz words, “irreducible complexity.” If you take a piece out of a complex biological system (like the cascade of blood-clotting proteins) and it fails to work, this is taken as evidence that the system could not have evolved. After all, without all the pieces in place, it couldn’t work.

Scientists have shown over and over again that this is a false argument. At the famous intelligent-design trial in Dover in 2005, Pennsylvania, for example, Brown biologist Ken Miller showed how dolphins and other species are missing various proteins found in our blood-clotting cascade, and they can still clot blood. (Here’s Miller on Youtube giving a lecture on the experience–the blood starts to clot at 39:00.)

Three years later, the creationists are still trying to salvage irreducible complexity. This generally involves a bait-and-switch game. Today, for example, the Discovery Institute tells us that the evidence of dolphins does not touch the argument for irreducible complexity. See, what you have here are two different irreducibly complex systems, with one that just happens to have an extra part. Just think about bicycles…

“Bicycles have two wheels. Unicycles, having only one wheel, are missing an obvious component found on bicycles. Does this imply that you can remove one wheel from a bicycle and it will still function? Of course not. Try removing a wheel from a bike and you’ll quickly see that it requires two wheels to function. The fact that a unicycle lacks certain components of a bicycle does not mean that the bicycle is therefore not irreducibly complex.”

Of course not. No. It’s not as if five seconds of googling could turn up a bicycle that still functioned without both wheels…

Hey! You there! Get off that bike! You’re ruining a metaphor!

[Image: Trackosaurus]

Update, 12/31: Lonely housewife in Duluth says: “To be fair, in the picture the guy has one foot on the ground…”

I, for one, believe that both feet are off the ground, judging from the angle of the rider’s body, arms, and drooping cigarette. But scholars of irreducibly complex velocipedality will no doubt debate this point fiercely for centuries. Lest we lose sight of the fundamental revelation here, let me point you to Abercrombie Fitch’s discovery on YouTube. (What’s with these commenter handles these days, you may wonder? Don’t ask me.) Behold:

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Evolution

Comments (182)

  1. BEHE’S MOUSETRAP REVISITED

    In his book “Darwin’s Black Box”, Michael Behe discusses what he refers to as “irreducible complexity”. He defines IC as “a single system, composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning”. He goes on to say that “an irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly…by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition non-functional”. He should have seen it coming. The critics had a field day with this because he handed them on a silver platter the means to defeat his claim. All the detractors had to do was to show that even if a part is removed some function, perhaps a different function, still remains and that there can be a workable but simpler form of the system. One can readily see by the most cursory of examinations that one could easily remove the platform and nail the other parts to the floor. Clearly Behe’s mousetrap is not irreducibly complex when measured against the definition that he provided. Behe missed the boat by measuring irreducibly complexity against simpler, non-functional systems. He approached the problem backwards by saying that if any part was removed the system would become non-functional. He should have known better. But Behe was right about one thing. The mousetrap is unevolvable by random, non-directed, accidental processes but not for the reason he provided. The reason for this is that a mousetrap has a quality called organization, which is much different from complexity or order. Each part of the mousetrap, the platform, the holding bar, the spring, the hammer and the catch each have specific functions. And each of these functions are organized in such a way that they support the overall function of the mousetrap, which is to catch mice. The function of the platform is to hold the parts, but it’s there ultimately to facilitate the process of mouse catching. The function of the spring is to exert a force on the hammer, but it’s ultimate goal is to enable the process of mouse catching. All of the parts have functions that not only support the other functions, but ultimately support the overall function of the device. This type of organization is not obtainable without insight, and insight always requires intelligence. There is no way that these parts could be assembled in such a manner without insight. A mousetrap is a simple machine, made up of several structures and processes and exists for a purpose. The construction of the mousetrap was initiated with intent, and fashioned for a purpose. Living organisms are similarly machines, with structures and processes that work together to create a function. In fact, all complex, highly organized machines in which means are adapted to ends are the product of intelligent design. The important point is that the adaptation of means to ends, the adaptation of structure and process to function requires insight. Behe’s mousetrap is unevolvable, not because you can’t take it apart without it losing it’s function, it’s unevolvable because you can’t put it together in the first place using only random, non-directed, accidental occurrences. The selection of the parts, the configuration in which they’re aligned, the assembly into one unit all require intelligent decisions at every step of the way. Similarly, living organisms show the same characteristics. It’s not that you can’t remove parts and lose total function, it’s that you can’t explain why these particular parts were selected, why they’re integrated together in just such a way and how they were assembled from raw materials without invoking an intelligent agent.

    http://tinyurl.com/89348w

    [Note from Carl: "Great Spirit" is actually Charlie Wagner, frequent commenter here at the Loom. (Evidence: same IP address, and tinyurl leading to Charlie Wagner's site. Take that, CSI!) As for the sock-puppetry, I can only guess that Charlie has reached a higher spiritual plane.]

  2. Barry Roth

    The inescapable conclusion is that creationists are unbalanced!

  3. Carl forgot to mention that the author of the Dishonesty Institute article is not an expert biochemist or other blood-clotting expert, but that famous Liar For Jesus(TM) Casey Luskin, professional shill for intelligent design creationism and an employee of the Dishonesty Institute. It will be interesting to see how Casey gets out of this particular “mis-statement of fact.”

  4. [cretinist babbling mode ON]

    Well, OBVIOUSLY the existence of bicycles and unicycles IMPLIES the presence of an Intelligent Wheel-Maker who WANTED two types of bikes. Of course, then teh question become, how did TRICYCLES arise? And DON’T even get me started on four-wheeled cycles!

    Clearly, EACH of these tpyes require a separete and completely unconected craeative path (still fully functoinal and irreducibly complex at ALL stages), but not anyone but than the IWM do cause any “hopeful monster” jumps between wheel-kinds. No Darwinist will ever be able to drawe a evilution path to each.

    [/cretinist babbling mode OFF]

    Or, just perhaps, are Luskin and the DiscoTute trying to ride a bike with no handlebars?

  5. Charlie Wagner is still at it? He used to haunt the talk.origins newgroup in the late ’90s, early ’00s and took to posting under ‘nyms there too. Once posing as an 8 year old girl, if I remember correctly.

    Hi, Charlie!

  6. Owen

    So the creationists, as usual, revel in making life difficult for themselves. Just as it’s tricky to ride a bike that’s missing a wheel, it’s difficult to reason sensibly when you’re not using the rational part of your brain…
    Oh, and Charlie, do you own a cat? I’m guessing not…

  7. Jumblepudding

    One of my favorite creationist arguments-If you found a pocketwatch on the ground and studied its mechanisms, would you think it came to be by chance, or that it had a creator?
    well, if there was vestigial evidence that its ancestors had been sundials, and that its offspring displayed mutations that showed they were evolving to tell time more accurately, yeah I would think it came to be by chance…
    That response is just silly enough to catch a young-earther off guard.

  8. You can assemble a custom laptop? That’s pretty cool :) I imagine it’ll be more expensive than a comparative pre-configured system though.

    I love this quote to death :)

    And about the Great Spirit:

    Similarly, living organisms show the same characteristics. It’s not that you can’t remove parts and lose total function, it’s that you can’t explain why these particular parts were selected, why they’re integrated together in just such a way and how they were assembled from raw materials without invoking an intelligent agent.

    Argument from ignorance. Clearly, some people are quite happy to explain exactly this.

    Also, the implicit assumption that there is a higher purpose to life is unfounded. And if purpose shows design, as Mr. Great spirit argues, and life is so clearly designed, as he indicates, than I’m sure Mr. Great Spirit has no problem telling us what this very obvious purpose of life is.

  9. StevenB

    It occurs to me, I’m sure obvious to most, that the real issue here is that they are retroactively breaking systems rather than providing any evidence that the system could never have evolved without a component. I understand how they think of this.. that the system could never have reached end state but I’m a little surprised they don’t seem willing to accept that it would have simply evolved into a different mechanism.

    If we didn’t invent fuel injectors, no one would posit that there would be no cars.. they’d just be using carburetors or some other technology. Sure, If I go out to my car and rip the fuel injection out it won’t start.
    However the argument holds sway if you look at the world with the wonder of a child. A car is a big miraculous thing to a child but they don’t understand how it works even though the more precocious children may try to lecture you about the faeries that make the engine go.

    The difference between IDers and Children is that we expect adults to learn a little bit about a subject before they lecture us. We also have little tolerance for adults who explain things with ‘it’s too hard [for me] to understand so you don’t know what you’re talking about’.

  10. chaos_engineer

    The critics had a field day with this because he handed them on a silver platter the means to defeat his claim. All the detractors had to do was to show that even if a part is removed some function, perhaps a different function, still remains and that there can be a workable but simpler form of the system.

    No, it’s not that easy! If the critics show that a single part can be removed, Behe can just say, “Oh, that’s microevolution. I’m not disputing that some features evolved, I’m saying that other features were designed.” That puts the burden on the critics: They have to show a sequence where every single part is removed or simplified, leaving a functional system at each stage.

    Obviously the critics are allowed to do a certain amount of hand-waving…it’s impossible to come up with a neat list showing every single mutation. But I think it’s fair to ask them to describe some of the intermediate stages between simple systems and complicated ones.

    They’ve actually done a suprisingly good job of that with some systems, like blood-clotting. At this stage in the game, I don’t think any sensible person can deny that the blood-clotting ability evolved.

    But now the burden is back on Luskin: He needs to identify at least one system that couldn’t have evolved. Blood-clotting was good for a first try. But now he’s just wasting everybody’s time with these silly “mousetrap” and “bicycle” analogies. Everybody knows that mousetraps and bicycles are manufactured objects that didn’t evolve biologically, so what’s the point in saying that they couldn’t have evolved?! Honestly, I’m starting to wonder if the poor man is overtired.

  11. Argh, copy/paste error *holds head in shame*. I was trying to refer to this one of course:

    Hey! You there! Get off that bike! You’re ruining a metaphor!

  12. Dave Wiley

    “Living organisms are similarly machines, with structures and processes that work together to create a function.”

    This provides some insight into the ID fallacy that I hadn’t seen before. This sentence presumes that that the parts only exist to create that whole. To assume the parts have no other function or that the intermediate steps on the way to something like blood clotting aren’t useful for something else is an argument from ignorance. Actually the whole ID theory rather reeks of argument from ignorance.

    To take the bicycle metaphor farther, the simplest bicycle-like thing that performs a bicycle like function is an ultimate wheel (http://www.tux.org/~bagleyd/ultimate.html) basically just pedals, an axle, and a wheel. Seats are for wusses. If you only need to go down hill all you really need is a disc with a rod through the center and really, really good balance. Now that I think about it isn’t this what the characters in that bastion of creationist thinking, B.C., used to get around? Clearly an argument for evolution if I’ve ever seen one.

  13. druidbros

    “The selection of the parts, the configuration in which they’re aligned, the assembly into one unit all require intelligent decisions at every step of the way. Similarly, living organisms show the same characteristics. It’s not that you can’t remove parts and lose total function, it’s that you can’t explain why these particular parts were selected, why they’re integrated together in just such a way and how they were assembled from raw materials without invoking an intelligent agent…..”

    Well I know you think it sounds good but you get a grade of F for your understanding of evolution. And ‘irreducible complexity’ is not a valid scientific term. Every time the IDbots use an example to try and ‘prove’ IC they get pwned by a true scientist who explains why the IDbots are wrong. Then the IDbots just change the example and the dance begins again.

  14. littlejohn

    I saw the unicycle coming, of course, but there’s another possibility: Until it became an unsightly place to hang dirty clothes, my wife and I had a one-wheeled bicycle. We called it an exercise bike.

  15. T. Bruce McNeely

    From SMgr’s link:
    This item has been discontinued and is no longer available. No further information is available.

    Like any good transitional form – it’s extinct!

  16. Jeremy

    The argument that if you remove a part of something and then it fails to work disproves evolution is ridiculous. Do creationists think that that humans had no eyes and then all of a sudden *poof* our eyes appeared in one generation?

    For creationists to prove their case they need to show that for a given part, it’s impossible to construct a simpler part that doesn’t work quite as well. Instead of removing the wheel of the bicycle they should replace it with a slightly less round wheel. Does the bike still function? Yes. Does it not function as well, suggesting room for an evolution towards rounder wheels? Yes.

    Of course it would be illogical to continually reduce the complexity of the wheel while leaving everything else in its “final” state. Rather they need to demonstrate that it’s impossible to continually modify some part of the bike to make it slightly more simple leading to slightly worse performance. Of course if they reach a dead end, they need to demonstrate that the path of “devolution” they took was the only path you could take, or that all the paths lead to dead ends, and of course this experiment also fails to take into account the possibility that complex parts of the bike became less useful due to changing environments and disappeared – perhaps it initially had off road tires but lost the grip because it was only used as a track bike?

  17. Nomen Nescio

    i’ve even seen a functional bicycle without any wheels.

    granted, it was somebody’s crazy notion of a new winter sport — a ski mounted in the front fork, and a strange snowmobile-track derived contraption where the back wheel belonged. but there are evolutionary analogs for such things too, after all.

  18. Sir Craig

    I just want to thank you all (Carl and commenters alike – even “great spirit” for the logical fallacy) for finally educating me on ‘irreducible complexity.’ I knew it was a bogus argument, as the evidence for evolution is just too strong, but for the life of me I never bothered to think about what IC actually meant – for years I thought the IDiots meant following an evolutionary chain all the way down until you could no longer find what came before, and if there was still complexity involved (multicellular, reproducing, whatever) there was your proof of design.

    Seems my definition makes a better argument than theirs, if only they could find an example to back it up…

  19. The Mad LOLScientist

    Mr. Great Spirit, I would like to introduce Mr. Return Key. :-P

  20. “[Note from Carl: “Great Spirit” is actually Charlie Wagner, frequent commenter here at the Loom. (Evidence: same IP address, and tinyurl leading to Charlie Wagner’s site. Take that, CSI!) As for the sock-puppetry, I can only guess that Charlie has reached a higher spiritual plane.]

    Absolutely true.
    This is not an attempt to deceive.
    As you stated I clearly posted the URL of my website.
    I guess my reputation precedes me!

    BTW, do you care to comment on the substance of my post?

  21. “Charlie Wagner is still at it? He used to haunt the talk.origins newgroup in the late ’90s, early ’00s and took to posting under ‘nyms there too. Once posing as an 8 year old girl, if I remember correctly.

    Hi, Charlie!

    Hi, John
    I left t.o because the tone changed.
    I really became a snob and I only wanted to talk to people with PhD’ s or equivalent competence. They seemed to become fewer and fewer. The comments became more and more callow. Where is the challenge?
    T.O is now a shadow of its former self.

    Besides, how many times can you keep advocating an unpopular position that invariably falls on closed minds?

    (BTW I NEVER posted under pseudonyms. Why would I?)

  22. Geoff

    Amazing. That someone can take a bad metaphor and try to correct it by not making it a metaphor is astoundingly moronic.

  23. amphiox

    Charlie Wagner’s ID arguments are all based on the unexamined premise that “lifeform = machine”. The big problem, of course, is that living things AREN’T machines. The analogy is based on gross oversimplification of both entities. There are some parts of living things that resemble, to varying degrees of vagueness, some parts of living things. But there are many, many features of living organisms that no engineer would ever contemplate putting in a machine, and many, many machines, some blindingly obvious and simple, that have never been reproduced in a biological system, even after 4 billion years of evolution. (And the bicycle, as far as I am aware, is one of them!)

  24. “Charlie Wagner’s ID arguments are all based on the unexamined premise that “lifeform = machine”.

    The premise has been fully examined.

    http://www.charliewagner.com/casefor.htm

  25. shonny

    However the argument holds sway if you look at the world with the wonder of a child. A car is a big miraculous thing to a child but they don’t understand how it works even though the more precocious children may try to lecture you about the faeries that make the engine go.

    The difference between IDers and Children is that we expect adults to learn a little bit about a subject before they lecture us. We also have little tolerance for adults who explain things with ‘it’s too hard [for me] to understand so you don’t know what you’re talking about’.
    ———-
    Well put, Steve B!

  26. b. j. edwards

    Charlie dear,

    Do I have to remind you again that your ID is agenda-driven whereas evolution is evidence-driven? Have you already forgotten that we we right through you?

    We’ll ask you – again – to adopt intellectual honesty as your New Year’s Resolution. Please? Thanks.

    Hugs,

    b. j.

  27. Behe’s mousetrap is unevolvable, not because you can’t take it apart without it losing it’s function, it’s unevolvable because you can’t put it together in the first place using only random, non-directed, accidental occurrences.

    But it’s not non-directed. Natural selection directs it. NS is Maxwell’s demon, if you like.

  28. Jeff

    Who “designed” that parking lot?

  29. Zirrad

    Hey Charlie/GrSpirit!

    Who says: “It’s not that you can’t remove parts and lose total function, it’s that you can’t explain why these particular parts were selected, why they’re integrated together in just such a way and how they were assembled from raw materials without invoking an intelligent agent…..”

    Here’s a simulation of a system that does just what you’re asking.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcAq9bmCeR0

    And don’t bother to say the intelligence is in the code unless you’ve thought it out a lot better than your other arguments.

  30. BTW, do you care to comment on the substance of my post?

    The substance of Wag-in-er’s posts
    Are somewhat confusing to mosts
    A bitch and a moan
    Not even a koan
    And the facts are fleeting as ghosts!

  31. (BTW I NEVER posted under pseudonyms. Why would I?)

    Except for just now, of course.

    The premise has been fully examined.

    Oh please, your definition of “machine” in there is so ridiculously broad that almost anything would qualify as a machine, as long as it has “functions”. Tell me then, what “function” does your daughter Leslie have? And what intelligent input was required to create her? Or couldn’t you figure out how she was created either? By the way, very convenient for you that you allow yourself to ignore those “machines” for which you couldn’t figure out how they were created.

    And why would evolution fail the requirements of the “first principle” that could explain the complexity and organization of organisms? You don’t even mention the possibility of evolution here.

    Finally, you completely fail to mention the biggest difference between life and human-made machines: life can reproduce itself, machines can’t. Therefore, life can evolve, and machines can’t. To equate life and machines without mentioning this crucial difference is not a small oversight, and I’m inclined to even call it dishonest.

  32. amphiox

    I’d be more than just inclined! Dishonest is perhaps the most polite word to describe this argument. Evolution requires imperfect self-replication. It is, in all probability, an inevitable emergent property of imperfectly self-replicating systems.

    Machines do not self-replicate. At least not yet. Perhaps in the future self-replicating machines will be created, at which point I am certain that they will immediately begin to evolve, and the distinction between “evolved” life and “designed” life will blur. But, as of now, there are no self-replicating machines, and it is not even proven if (though probably likely) a self-replicating machine that is not simply a pale copy of an organism is even possible.

    So to make an analogy that equates life with an entity that lacks the fundamental defining property of life, and the one property that is absolutely required for evolution to occur, and then argue that this analogy implies design and invalidates evolution, is nothing but dishonest.

  33. Jon

    from Charlie Wagner’s link: “Evolutionary biology has not demonstrated to my satisfaction that random mutations and natural selection are capable of producing the highly organized biochemical machines that are living organisms.”

    Translation: I don’t get it (or believe it; take your choice), so it can’t be true. Argument from incredulity.

  34. zeph

    If you found a god on the beach, would you assume it had evolved? Of course not! You would realize that someone must have created it.

  35. Mike from Ottawa

    Charlie Wagner can spend lots of time posting on intelligent design creationism because he’s made a fortune selling mousetraps. See, Charlie’s mousetraps reproduce.

  36. Stuart Weinstein

    “Charlie Wagner can spend lots of time posting on intelligent design creationism because he’s made a fortune selling mousetraps. See, Charlie’s mousetraps reproduce.”

    I have a reproducing mousetrap.

    Its a 13lb Hawaiian Tabby.

  37. “This is not an attempt to deceive.”

    You just like sock-puppets?
    Tool.
    Get a life.

  38. Lonely housewife in Duluth

    To be fair, in the picture the guy has one foot on the ground…

  39. snaxalotl

    charlie says: “a mousetrap has a quality called organization”

    funny, seems like only yesterday Behe was in court saying that anything with a function had a “purpose”, under the delusion that just calling function purpose amounted to an argument that intelligent design was involved. apparently, function is now called organization for the purposes of priming people’s intuition pumps.

    can I suggest that, when this wears thin, we call it “inspired awsomeness”?

  40. Bottom line is that irreducible complexity misunderstand evolution. When Behe wrote it he didn’t understand evolution. For a guy with a PhD that is insane. I am amazed at the amount of stupid people who have actual PhDs.

  41. You guys, you’re being misled into this IC nonsense for no reason. There is *no way* to prove IC because just as you can’t prove the non-existence of God, you can also not prove the non-existence of potential evolutionary pathways. I find it amazingly ironic that creationists, who will loudly and proudly state that you can’t disprove the existence of God (and this somehow validates their belief in him) but will write miles of text on how you can prove, positively prove, the non-existence of evolution.

    It is impossible, not even on principle, to prove that something could not evolve. The worst thing you can say about a system is that you don’t have any idea how it *could* evolve. If there weren’t any reasons to believe that systems could evolve (again, similar to the God analogy), then people wouldn’t buy into all this evolution stuff anyway. It’s the evidence that makes scientists surmise that evolution occurred, but there can never be any evidence that evolution cannot occur, only that it did not occur in certain cases (say, a mammal with feathers will disprove utterly the claim that birds and mammals have a common ancestor).

    Don’t play their game. If they want to disprove evolution, let them use the evolutionary predictions that are actually falsifiable (and Darwin was misleading himself when he said that if a way was shown in which a system could not evolve gradually, then evolution fails, because again, it is impossible in principle to prove that).

  42. Abercrombie Fitch
  43. Karl

    Why don’t people just let natural selection speak for itself. After all it has a mind of its own, a will of its own, an existence all its own, and an ability to evolve all its own. Sounds to me like natural selection is just another guise for naturalism, a pantheistic worship of nature.

    Send in the gods, there ought to be gods, don’t bother they’re here.

  44. MrG

    Little wasted verbiage in this article, I admire that.
    I have commented repeatedly on Panda’s Thumb that while Casey
    Luskin deserves everything he gets, it still feels a bit unsporting. It’s
    just TOO easy. Cheers — MrG

  45. Mike

    Mr. Zimmer,

    Is there any chance that you might be able to tell the story of how the prominent creationist and DI fellow Forrest Mims was awarded praise in the last issue of Discover? I’ve been sending emails around, but no one seems to want to talk about it. You even repeated Mims’ claim that he published in Nature when all that was printed was a letter to the editor, not a research report. All I’ve been given so far is that the freelance writer was given the list of recipients and told to write praise for them. Who produced the list, and why?

    [Carl: I don't know anything about that story, so I can't help you, I'm afraid.]

  46. Mike asked Carl: “Is there any chance that you might be able to tell the story of how the prominent creationist and DI fellow Forrest Mims was awarded praise in the last issue of Discover?”

    While Forrest Mims may be a creationist, there is no doubt he is also a very smart guy. See his article in Wikipedia which discusses some of the good works he has done for science: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forrest_Mims

  47. BTW, do you care to comment on the substance of my post?

    That was the commentary on the substance, and it’s all some of us need to know.

  48. Bonobo

    Man religious ppl are just DUMB. I don’t know if they TRY to be dumb on purpose because ‘creationism cant possibly be wrong so I will defend it by all means’ therefore appear dumb or they are just utterly ignorant of this world because they’ve only been reading ONE book their entire life.

  49. The Mad LOLScientist

    “Charlie Wagner’s ID arguments are all based on the unexamined premise that “lifeform = machine”.

    The premise has been fully examined.

    Thoroughly examined, probably by every biologist in the universe (and plenty of non-biologists), and determined to be utter bull****.

    BTW, do you care to comment on the substance of my post?

    Maybe, if there were any. And if it were broken up into proper paragraphs instead of being presented as a solid, impenetrable block of rambling verbiage.

    Just 2 brass farthings’ worth from another commenter with a weird handle. YMMV. AWYSB. =^..^=

  50. LotharLoo

    [i]BTW, do you care to comment on the substance of my post?[/i]

    You probably mean this:

    [i]The mousetrap is unevolvable by random, non-directed, accidental processes but not for the reason he provided.[/i]

    Here’s the comment:

    It’s nothing beyond your personal opinion and I don’t care at all about your or anyone’s personal opinion. Return when you come up with something solid, e.g., a mathematical model that proves your opinion that can be tested to conform to reality.

  51. The Mad LOLScientist

    I have a reproducing mousetrap.

    Its a 13lb Hawaiian Tabby.

    bestest. mous trap. evar. im in ur comments, aproovin dis mesij. =^..^=

  52. Amos Kenigsberg (Discover Web Editor)

    @Mike, re: DISCOVER giving a shout-out to amateur scientist Forrest Mims, who also happens to be a fellow of the Discovery Institute:

    Here’s a letter from the editors that’s running in the February issue, which is coming out soon:

    In our feature, we recognized Mims specifically for his contributions as an amateur scientist, and we stand by that assessment. His work on the Altair 8800 computer, on RadioShack’s home electronics kit, and on The Citizen Scientist newsletter has been undeniably influential. DISCOVER does not in any way endorse the Discovery Institute’s views on “intelligent design.” At the same time, Mims’s association with that group does not invalidate his role as a leading figure in the American amateur science community, any more than James Watson’s dubious speculations about race take away from his groundbreaking research on DNA.

  53. It is impossible, not even on principle, to prove that something could not evolve. The worst thing you can say about a system is that you don’t have any idea how it *could* evolve.

    You’re straining too hard, reaching for absolutes. For while one cannot absolutely prove that a steam locomotive did not evolve, we have very very good reasons to believe that it did not (evolve in a biological manner).

    If you could find another’s purpose in organisms, you could show that it did not evolve. While GMOs are not identified in that way, they could be.

    If you could find rational planning behind the structure of an organism, it would be good evidence that it didn’t evolve, or at least that evolution wasn’t all that produced the organism. Find an organism with a wing structured like those on a Boeing jet, rather than being the modified forelimbs that all vertebrate wings are, and you have good evidence that said wing did not evolve.

    Indeed, find anything in life that could not be the result of successive modifications, and you’ve shown that evolution isn’t all that’s happening.

    No, evolution has been tested adequately, that is, to the standards of science, and it has passed (questions about very early events remain). ID avoids addressing the lack of rational design in life, and the absurd (from a design standpoint) modifications of unpromising parts to produce wings, panda thumbs, etc.

    This goes for “evolutionary pathways” as well, which can be tested, namely by examining genes. Behe is completely insane when he accepts that the “molecular clocks,” such as DNA, may very well work. How could they, if God is intervening in a creative and unpredictable way? But the general applicability of DNA changes to understanding evolutionary time (even if there may be deviations and exceptions) indicates nothing except sensibly the same evolutionary processes that we see occurring today. The DNA clock works tolerably well only if intervention is not occurring–and I really don’t care to discuss the IDiots’ ways of hiding every evidence of intervention of their deity.

    And again, though some evolutionary pathways might be unfalsifiable (theories don’t depend upon every instance being demonstrated–which is why IDists demand that virtually every instance be demonstrated. They’re pseudoscientists), due to lost information and complexity, we know what could not evolve. Metal wheels found on a cheetah would be evidence of intervention, not of evolution. There is no reasonable evolutionary pathway from today’s cheetahs to cheetahs with metal wheels. We do not find animals with the novel, the rationally planned, the evolutionarily unexpected.

    So while I agree that playing the ID game of coming up with evolutionary pathways anywhere and everywhere is a fool’s game, the issue has to be, and has been, addressed adequately. Evolutionary pathways must utilize what Behe calls “physical precursors,” not “conceptual precursors,” and they do. I really have no idea why Behe brought up such a great test (not new, of course) of evolution in Darwin’s Black Box, though he knew better than to apply it. For of course we only find organs and systems which had “physical precursors” (within our ability to resolve the issue, naturally), and none with the “conceptual precursors” that may be found on a steam locomotive, for instance.

    The fact is that we can reasonably determine whether or not evolutionary pathways were possible for life (yes), and if evolution has occurred essentially in the same way in the past as in the present (molecular clocks say yes). It’s just a matter of reasonable scientific inference, and not at all a matter of being able to explain everything that happened in evolution. No historical science is, or can be, complete.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  54. Mike

    Paul Burnett Says:
    “While Forrest Mims may be a creationist, there is no doubt he is also a very smart guy. See his article in Wikipedia which discusses some of the good works he has done for science: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forrest_Mims

    William Dembski, Casey Luskin, Michael Behe, etc, all very smart guys, but how do they choose to use these gifts? Maybe Discover should honor them too? No, not even the Discover article announcing the honor to Mims actually listed a convincing reason for why he should be thought of as one of the 50 most brilliant. Teaching electronics? Directing an amatuer scientist organization? Taking out patents? Surely Discover could have found someone who has done similar things without also being a leader of the science denial movement. How about honoring a brilliant Louisiana public school biology teacher who teaches evolution the way it should be taught instead of ducking it, or “balancing” it? The list wasn’t just about “smart people”, it was honoring smart people who had actually produced something useful for humanity.

    No, the creationism movement is doing real harm to the majority’s understanding of what science is, and how news about science can be used and interpretted. In this age it is a very serious problem when the public does not understand the central importance of peer review, and what the actual limitations of science are. Being a leader of the science denial movement is an automatic disqualification for being “brilliant”.

    Here’s some other articles on Mims:
    http://www.inoculatedmind.com/2006/04/stupid-is-as-stupid-does/
    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/04/mims-dishing-it.html
    For the global warming denial you can just go to his own self promotion web page.

    I’m just curious to know why Discover did this. Was it a mistake? Did they believe he actually had published in Nature because it seems to say so on Mims’ web site? Did they just want to be sure that he didn’t sue them too?

  55. The Mad LOLScientist

    Mims’s association with that group does not invalidate his role as a leading figure in the American amateur science community, any more than James Watson’s dubious speculations about race take away from his groundbreaking research on DNA.

    Ditto Linus Pauling’s megavitamin BS vs. his two Nobel Prizes (Chemistry and Peace).

  56. Jason Heldenbrand

    This argument is dumb. Intelligent designers will never be dissuaded by evidence, they believe as they believe now despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. You could show them the entire evolution of life on earth by time lapse down to the cellular level along with explanations of various reasons why a particular feature evolved and they would still find a way to try to fit God into the mix.

    Stop looking for warm, bearded men in the sky and an eternity in paradise. I’m sorry, evolution is cold, hard science. It may not be pretty or make a good allegorical tale for an emotional society, but it’s fact. If you’re pining for fantasy that much, go watch a movie or go read your Bible. If you want eternal life then pursue genetics to find out a way to turn off cell decay. If you want paradise look towards ecology and numerous other scientific pursuits to help turn the earth into one. Stop looking to God to make it better and do it yourself.

    Until someone shows up with the mythical power to heal the sick with a mere touch or who can influence the development of life with absolutely no tools or environmental manipulation… then I will remain unconvinced.

  57. Mike

    Mims has taught, tinkered, and self-promoted. He hasn’t done anything truly groundbreaking to warrent being in the top 50 “brilliant”. His notariety is in promoting science related causes of the political right. T
    As far as Watson and Pauling, the dubious statements of ancient science celebreties shouldn’t detract from what they had accomplished as young people. I don’t recall Watson or Pauling ever teaching that biological and climate sciences were a conspiracy.

  58. Lee Bowmn

    amphiox Says:

    December 30th, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Charlie Wagner’s ID arguments are all based on the unexamined premise that “lifeform = machine”. The big problem, of course, is that living things AREN’T machines.

    Merriam-Webster online:
    Ma-chine 2 a: a living organism or one of its functional systems.

    The analogy is based on gross oversimplification of both entities. There are some parts of living things that resemble, to varying degrees of vagueness, some parts of living things.

    Did you mean parts of ‘man made things?’

    But there are many, many features of living organisms that no engineer would ever contemplate putting in a machine, and many, many machines, some blindingly obvious and simple, that have never been reproduced in a biological system …

    Disagree. The flagellum has an armature, bearings, and rotates in both directions. It even has a braking function, and propels the cell. But that’s not a machine?

    Kenneth Miller’s co option arguments are easily refutable, given that the Tye III secretory device came after the flagellum, and that even if his proposed sequence was true, the intermediate evolutionary steps were never provided.

    As far as bike wheels, I guess that proves evolution and exaptation as valid. No IC? BS

  59. “Even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and the whole temper of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”

    “Here we are in this wholly fantastic Universe with scarcely a clue as to whether our existence has any real significance. No wonder then that many people feel the need for some belief that gives them some sense of security, and no wonder that they become angry with people like me who say that this security is illusory. But I do not like the situation any better than they do.” – Fred Hoyle

  60. Mike

    A letter from the editors that’s running in the February issue, which is coming out soon:

    “His work on the Altair 8800 computer, on RadioShack’s home electronics kit”

    So that’s it? That’s puts him in the top 50 brillant? Neither the Altair 8800, or Mims contribution to it, was unique. And a Radioshack product?

    “DISCOVER does not in any way endorse the Discovery Institute’s views on “intelligent design.” ”

    I’m sorry, but the Discovery Institute, and the rest of the population that knows of Mims work with them, have loudly stated that it is an endorsement. You haven’t just endorsed him as a good influence on Radioshack products. You’ve endorsed him as one of the top ten extradinary amatuer scientists, and one of the 50 most brillant people. Since his notoriety is in promoting science denial the conclusion that his views are being endorsed is understandable.

    “and on The Citizen Scientist newsletter has been undeniably influential.”

    And why is Mims thought of as a great amatuer scientist? Because The Citizen Scientist says so.

    “James Watson’s dubious speculations about race take away from his groundbreaking research on DNA. ”

    The comparison is unreasonable. Mims has denied evolution and global warming for decades. Watson was a very old man when he made his mistatement.

    I suppose this is the best answer I’m going to get. From this I’m forced to conclude that a mistake was made, but Discover isn’t going to own up to it.

  61. I would have liked to have seen you refute Michael Behe’s claims by pointing to any one actual example from biology.

    Where do we see function for any existing system if we subtract one or more parts? Even a theoretical attempt would be nice.

    thanks

  62. Dan

    I’m a complex system and my gall bladder was designed to work in this complex system. I had mine removed and my body didn’t fail. I’m a less complex system now. Sure I can’t digest all the foods I could before but my digestive system still functions at some level. I have one less part then before and yet I still function. That’s basically the argument you’ve put forward with your bike/unicycle, mouse trap analogy. Take the peddles from a bike and it still functions at some level. Just not the same level as before. But I don’t think of evolution this way. I think more along the lines of a simple one gear bike. Evolution is the adding of higher or lower gears one at a time based on what type of terrain you are riding on. That is of course if you want to reduce evolution to some sort of analogy using bicycles.

    Take an eye. Remove the rods and cones. The eye may still function but can’t see color anymore. Remove more and more parts from the eye and soon you may find that it’s simply a light detecting single cell.

    I’m sorry you feel slighted by being told you aren’t exactly as god created you in his image. I’m sorry you feel offended that we share a common ancestor with chimps and other primates. I’m sorry you need to feel so much above the rest of the animals on the planet. But feelings don’t change facts. Now quit trying to force your mythology on me and my children.

  63. amphiox

    Lee Bowmn: “The flagellum has an armature, bearings, and rotates in both directions. It even has a braking function, and propels the cell. But that’s not a machine?”

    No, the flagellum does NOT have an armature, or bearings. It has organic polymers that sort of resemble armatures and bearings, IF one uses overly simplified models of what armatures, bearings, and flagellum proteins really are and do. The more closely you look at the flagellum, as it actually is, and not as you might imagine it to be in some simplified diagram intended for a textbook for high school students, the less like “machines” do the biological systems appear. As one blindingly obvious and simple example, the bacterial flagellum is MUCH smaller than its supposed machine analogs. Scale down your outboard motor to a molecular scale, and it wouldn’t work at all. Brownian motion and other stochastic effects which are essential aspects of how bacterial flagella work would jam up your motor instantly. Scale up your bacterial flagellum to the size of your outboard motor, and the whole thing would collapse into a puddle of goop.

    As for braking function, that is a irrelevant argument, and part of the same flawed analogy that having function=machine=must be designed. A roundish rock with one chipped flat crack in it has a breaking function. Are you trying to argue that said rock therefore must be a machine, and must have been intelligently designed?

    But this tired old flagellum argument actually misses the entire point. It’s like saying because my cousin Bob has a cochlear implant, and I can prove beyond any reasonable doubt that said implant is a machine, intelligently designed by a human being, then Bob himself, in his entirety, must also have been designed by the same human being. Maybe, one day, someone will figure out how to make a machine on a molecular scale. Perhaps Craig Venter’s grandson will assemble a little propeller, and stick it into a mycoplasma. That won’t change the fact that the rest of the mycoplasma arose through natural evolution.

    Here are just a few examples of features of living organisms which one should not expect to see in any intelligently designed system, things which intelligent designers would generally try to avoid whenever they could:

    1. noncoding DNA in eukaryotes. Monumental waste of resources replicating all this junk.
    2. all those thousands of nonfunctional human olfactory receptor genes.
    3. mammalian lungs. Birds have a far superior version in virtually every conceivable mode of comparison. Any self-respecting engineer would have swapped out the inferior system and replaced it with the superior version long ago.
    4. the wings of pterosaurs, birds, and bats. Again, a known pattern for intelligent designers is to re-use successful designs. It’s a colossal waste of effort to R+D a new system from scratch when a highly functional alternative is already available that you could just take off the shelf and graft on.
    5. Multipart systems that fail if a single part is missing (yes, the supposed IC stuff). Functional redundancy is a hallmark of intelligent design. An engineer who designed a machine that failed if a single component stopped working perfectly would probably be fired.

    There are other examples, of course, and any one alone could be explained by an intelligent designer who wasn’t all-knowing and all-powerful. He could have had a bad day, or been rushed, or simply couldn’t think of a better way to get the job done. But all of them together, one observation piled atop another, so many incomprehensible mistakes, makes for an intelligent designer that is so stupid, so feeble, so incompetent, as to be essentially mindless, without purpose or plan.

    Which of course is what evolution is.

  64. gribley

    Emmanuel, have you read any of the previous discussion on this topic? In the very first paragraph of this post, Carl references the example of the blood-clotting cascade, which does function when parts are removed; see the video linked. Other examples (the eye, the flagellum) have been discussed ad infinitum.

    The problem is not that scientists haven’t shown a biological refutation of Behe’s argument. The problem is that Behe and other IDers can’t describe a single biological system which fails to function when parts are removed. In every case, there seems to be clear evolutionary value for the remaining parts of the system.

    The joke is that since no biological system fit the bill, Luskin turned to an obvious mechanical example — and fell as flat on his face as the bicyclist in the photo didn’t.

  65. amphiox

    Emmanuel: Here’s a theoretical example.

    Consider protein A, coded by gene a, which functions by dimerizing with itself (ie A-A is the functional form). Such proteins are quite common.

    Duplication mutations of gene a can occur without changing the function of A-A. In some cases natural selection might favor extra copies (say it causes A to be made more quickly, increasing the concentration of A-A). In other cases genetic drift alone can cause accumulation of copies of a. This has also been observed in many different examples, like human salivary amylase.

    The copies of gene a mutate. Many become nonfunctional, but that doesn’t matter as long as one working copy of a remains. Suppose in one instance a copy of a undergoes a point mutation, a single base-pair change that alters one amino acid in the binding site of the protein. We can call the new protein B (and the gene b). Because of the change in amino acids, B binds only weakly to A, and cannot bind with another B at all. We’ll get a scenario where we get lots of A-A produced, and a small fraction of A-B, but A-B and A-A are functionally identical because the active site of B has not been changed.

    Suppose another copy of a mutates in the binding site, a different single amino acid change to become c. Protein C also binds to A weakly, and can no longer bind to itself, but it can now bind to B relatively well. We’ll now have a situation where there will be lots of A-A, lots of B-C, and little bit of A-B and A-C. All of them are functionally identical, since the active sites of B and C have not mutated and are the same as A.

    Now gene a gets silenced by a destructive mutation. Now we have only B-C, and B-C is irreducibly complex. B can only work in the presence of C, and vice versa.

    I would actually wager that the vast majority of multiple protein complexes in your average cell arose through variations and repeated cycles of the above events.

    Some real world examples:
    1. The mammalian clotting cascade. Cetaceans have a simplified version missing several proteins, and it still works. Humans with clotting disorders have one or more components mutated, and as a result their blood clots more slowly. But, in most cases, it still clots. So function is reduced by the loss of a component, but not destroyed. In reverse that means that function, pre-existing, can be improved by adding a component. That is all natural selection needs to work with.

    2. The bacterial flagellum and the Type III Secretory device. You can argue, like Bowmn did, that the Type III comes after the flagellum, but what you prove by doing so is the flagellum is not irreducibly complex, since parts have been removed by evolution and the remaining still functions, albeit a different function. But it is actually irrelevant which came first, because evolution doesn’t have to act on the whole assemblage, only the individual parts. Remember that in real life, multiple component membrane protein complexes aren’t made preassembled. Instead the component proteins are often made separately and inserted into the membrane, where they float around randomly, joining up with their counterparts as they go, spontaneously assembling and reassembling.

    So, if you consider a simple complex of A-B, and allow for simple gene duplication events followed by subsequent mutations that generate C, D, E, etc. The cell is going to get, randomly forming and unforming, multiple complexes A-B, A-C, B-C, A-E, etc, all of which will function slightly differently than the original A-B. A single mutation event, creating a new protein F, generates instantaneously an exponentially increased number of possible combinations, each of which will function slightly differently than any of the pre-existing precursors. And if any of them, say B-D for example, functions better than A-B, or differently than A-B (for example, imagine A-B is a sodium channel, while B-D, being slightly different, turns out to have a better affinity for a different positive ion, like potassium), then we now have variation in the population that natural selection can act on.

  66. Lee Bowmn isn’t the only one who can use an online dicti0nary, and I can’t help but wonder why he chose to skip no fewer than eight definitions to find the one he liked.

  67. amphiox

    I could also point out that since language also evolves, dictionaries, on-line or not, are provisional. Definitions are arbitrary at any rate, reflecting popular sentiment, and can be factually incorrect.

    And typically dictionaries order their definitions by frequency of usage, and frequency of usage is affected by things like ease of communication of intended ideas and clarity of understanding. By the time one gets to number 9, one has generally devolved into bad metaphor.

  68. Mike

    It seems that some here might not have seen this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdwTwNPyR9w

  69. Dan

    amphoix:
    “5. Multipart systems that fail if a single part is missing (yes, the supposed IC stuff). Functional redundancy is a hallmark of intelligent design. An engineer who designed a machine that failed if a single component stopped working perfectly would probably be fired.”

    I don’t think it could have been said any better. I’m a computer “engineer” if you will. I design data centers and server or phone rooms for companies. If I designed a server room that failed if say a single switch or a single server failed, I would lose my job in an instant.

    If anything the bicycle analogy makes a better case for evolution then ID. If say a bike did fail because some part was removed then it’s a sign that it was poorly designed in the first place. However in the case of a bike we can see that it has a designer because I can always go by the bike shop and buy another wheel that fits just like the old one. Humans cannot do this (as of yet). There aren’t a whole lot of replacement parts for people laying around. We evolved in such a way that our body will reject parts from another human without heavy medication. If we are all made in god’s image shouldn’t parts be easily replaced with parts from other humans designed by the same creator?

    If god is the engineer of the human body why did he add unused parts? Is that like the extra screws left over when you finish building the chair you bought from Ikea?

  70. Could the simplest possible form of life be considered irreducibly complex?

    Doesn’t the “Origin of Species” hinge on the “Origin of the First Species”?

    Doesn’t the “Origin of the First Species” point back to the origin of entire universe (or multiverse)?

    Didn’t creation precede evolution?

    What’s all the fuss about?

  71. Mike: thanks for that link, I like CDK007′s videos a lot and somehow had missed that one.

  72. tom

    As random mutations have never been shown experimentally/scientifically to build new physiological structures such as flagellum anyway, it’s all just a silly argument. ToE is nothing but a religion.

  73. Dan

    tom
    As random mutations have never been shown experimentally/scientifically to build new physiological structures such as flagellum anyway, it’s all just a silly argument. ToE is nothing but a religion.

    Since we didn’t see it the bearded magic sky man must have done it? That’s your argument? It sounds to me like the same explanation my English teacher gave us about Greek and Roman mythology before delving into the subject.

    But since you make the point, here you go
    http://www.gate.net/~rwms/EvoMutations.html
    evidence, created in a laboratory, of genetic mutation due.

  74. Andrew

    We know how physiological structures are made, and it has been shown that evolutionary mechanisms (which are not exclusively mutation and NS) are able to produce those structures. This knowledge is one of the foundations for work in genetic manipulation.

    Evolutionary theory is backed by 150+ years of evidence and verification, and it is still the best scientific explanation we have for the development of life on Earth. Its not a religion.

  75. Kel

    Ahhh, good ol’ Charlie Wagner. Still fighting the blog circuit for his ideas as opposed to academia. Someone should really tell him one day that science is done in the scientific arena – blogs are merely a means for the scientists to engage with a wider audience.

    Stop evangelising and start writing that peer-review paper for Nature.

  76. Mel

    tom said:

    “As random mutations have never been shown experimentally/scientifically to build new physiological structures such as flagellum anyway, it’s all just a silly argument. ToE is nothing but a religion.”

    Interesting that a person who has admitted to having done no reading of actual research papers (really, tom, reading the research isn’t that hard. You would learn just how appallingly wrong you have been by going through a few back issues of “Evolution”. You would likely find it intensely embarrassing, but so what?), fails to follow links provided to him, and has shown himself to lack any actual understanding of evolutionary biology or science in general can make so definitive and sweeping a statement. It is also interesting that someone who has made clear that he is a religious person is willing to use “religion” as an insult with which to attack the science he has made no effort to understand. However, given his general lack of civility or rationality, such is not surprising…only sad.

  77. Dan

    I am not a biologist or even a scientist in any sense of the word. I cannot explain genetic mutations as eloquently as some have done. Yet with my limited knowledge of the subject I can still see the logic in evolution. It’s really not a hard concept when you sit and think about it. So to argue against it is to argue blindly based on some religious text that’s more than 2000 years old. My problem isn’t your religion. My problem is you forcing your religion on me. I have no faith and choose to raise my children without forcing a belief system on them. What I want is this argument taken out of the realm of science. Take your religion out of my science class. I pay taxes to a government with one of it’s founding principals being the separation of church and state. I do not want your god story taught to my children. Teach it to your own at home or in private schools. I don’t have a problem with that. When Young Earth Creationists and the folks backing Intelligent Design decide that me and my children or my grandchildren in the future should be forced to learn about their god, I have a problem. When you take away the notion that something can be unknown only to later be explained and replace that unknown with a magic all knowing all seeing man in the sky that created everything, you take science out of the equation. Here’s my problem

    ID “scientific” method
    Witness some event or object
    The bible tells us how the event occurred or object came to be
    Make evidence fit bible
    Attack the scientific community if they disagree with said evidence

    Real scientific method
    Witness some event or object
    formulate hypothesis about how said object or event could occur
    test hypothesis using experimentation
    if evidence does not point to hypothesis as actually being the cause change hypothesis
    if evidence does point to hypothesis as possible solution document
    hypothesis because theory (sorry people the arguement that evolution is ONLY a theory is retarded if you know anything about science)

    So you are arguing from the point that you already know the answer. That god is the answer. Now you have to change your evidence and experiment to prove that god is actually the answer.

  78. Randy T

    The dialogue here is interesting. A discussion of theories may be an intellectual exercise but the essential point is whether or not a Creator exists. Everything else is babble attempting to prove or to disprove that point; theres been enough babble on both sides that counterarguments abound…proving nothing but the existence of a preconceived opinion.

    In the spirit of full disclosure…I believe the evidence supports the existence of that Creator…and the Creator designed the system to evolve.

  79. Dan

    “Everything else is babble attempting to prove or to disprove that point; theres been enough babble on both sides that counterarguments abound…proving nothing but the existence of a preconceived opinion.

    In the spirit of full disclosure…I believe the evidence supports the existence of that Creator…and the Creator designed the system to evolve.”

    And yet another example of your own point. A preconceived notion that a creator exists. How about some evidence. Because when you make a claim that something as complex as a creator of everything exists you are going to need some really good evidence to back that assumption.

  80. Mike

    Randy T Says:
    “A discussion of theories may be an intellectual exercise but the essential point is whether or not a Creator exists.”

    Theologians, that is scholars who actually spend their time studying, using logic, and writing, have concluded that the science of evolution has (next to) nothing to do with proving the existance of God. It seems that the rest of the population needs to catch up. The two extreme minority camps that create all the excitement (aggressive atheists, and science denying fundamentalists) are simply creating confusion and a major impediment to biology education. That’s not trivial. Biology education is now essential to society.

  81. Dan

    Mike Says:
    Theologians, that is scholars who actually spend their time studying, using logic, and writing, have concluded that the science of evolution has (next to) nothing to do with proving the existance of God. It seems that the rest of the population needs to catch up. The two extreme minority camps that create all the excitement (aggressive atheists, and science denying fundamentalists) are simply creating confusion and a major impediment to biology education. That’s not trivial. Biology education is now essential to society.

    You are correct. Although Darwin mis-titled his Origins of the Species, he did not actual discuss the origins only the evolution of species as a means of diversification. Biology should be a fundamental part of education and evolution is a huge part of biology and the only logic means to explain the huge diversity of life and the fossil records.

    My question is how are atheists causing an impediment to biology education by stating leave god out of science? That’s a simple request. Don’t throw your god of the gaps at us. Young Earth Creationists want there to be no question about there being a god and that his holy book is the end all be all to science. That’s the impediment. Atheists like myself simple don’t want a god belief forced on us through the guise of science. If you want to believe that god created the heavens and the earth but made life in such a way that it could evolve then whatever. Just don’t tell me I have to believe in your god with no evidence and don’t be surprised when I don’t believe in light of the overwhelming lack there of.

  82. Dan

    Creation is not a theory. It’s not even a hypothesis. It can’t be dis-proven, it can’t even be tested. Evolution was a hypothesis. Supporting evidence was gathered and it became a theory. For nearly 150 years it’s been tested and has not been dis-proven. Sure adjustments and corrections have been made but the core concept is still intact. Creation is not science and goes against the evidence (such as the fossil record decreasing in complexity as we dig deeper).

    Evolution will never advance beyond a theory in science. That’s how the scientific process works. The more we fail to disprove a theory, the more likely it is actually correct. It’s always possible that something will come along and change our ideas on evolution and we will adjust the theory based on new evidence. In fact it’s happened quite a few times. However we see evolution happen all the time. New strains of influenza pop up every year for instance.

    Do you believe that an animal that is better suited to its environment will produce more often and more successfully than one that is not? I don’t know why this strikes only some of us as obvious. In spite of the mountains (some times literally) of evidence you choose to ignore the facts that state emphatically that god did it.

  83. James

    All complex life on earth has developed from simpler life forms over billions of years. This is a fact that no longer admits of intelligent dispute. If you doubt that human beings evolved from prior species, you may as well doubt that the sun is a star. Granted, the sun doesn’t seem like an ordinary star, but we know that it is a star that just happens to be relatively close to the earth. Imagine your potential for embarrassment if your religious faith rested on the presumption that the sun was not a star at all. Imagine millions of Christians in the United States spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year to battle the godless astronomers and astrophysicists on this point. Imagine them working passionately to get their unfounded notions about the sun taught in our nation’s schools. This is exactly the situation you are now in with respect to evolution.

    Christians who doubt the truth of evolution are apt to say things like “Evolution is just a theory, not a fact.” Such statements betray a serious misunderstanding of the way the term “theory” is used in scientific discourse. In science, facts must be explained with reference to other facts. These larger explanatory models are “theories.” Theories make predictions and can, in principle, be tested. The phrase “the theory of evolution” does not in the least suggest that evolution is not a fact. One can speak about “the germ theory of disease” or “the theory of gravitation” without casting doubt upon disease or gravity as facts of nature.

    In 2005, a survey was conducted in thirty four countries measuring the percentage of adults who accept evolution. The United States ranked thirty third, just above Turkey. Meanwhile, high school students in the United States test below those of every European and Asian nation in their understanding of science and math. These data are unequivocal: America is building a civilization of ignorance.

  84. Argument ad unicyclum!

  85. tom

    Dan: “Creation is not a theory. It’s not even a hypothesis. It can’t be dis-proven, it can’t even be tested. Evolution was a hypothesis. Supporting evidence was gathered and it became a theory. For nearly 150 years it’s been tested and has not been dis-proven”

    First of all you have mistakenly pit darwinism up against creationism. Neither is a theory of origins. Darwinism is a theory of how things change…therefore, to keep things on an even playing field, the challenge to darwinism’s biological mechanism of change is not creationism — it is a competing mechanism of change. I have repeatedly shown numerous alternatives. DArwinism’s sole mechanism of adaptive change is RMNS, that is random mutations sifted by natural selection. This is an external mechanism of change…that is, the individual organism supposedly does not have the intelligence nor the adaptive mechanisms within, therefore selection must act as adaptor. This was Darwin’s whole premise; that natural selection was responsible for the adaptations in the field and fossil record.

    This mechanism, however has never been validated scientifically. Instead, what HAS been validate scientifically is an array of adaptive mechanisms residing within individuals. Epigenetics, horizontal gene transfer, phenotypic plasticity, mutations…etc etc. Everything from bacteria to humans evolve every day epigenetically. Humans re-express genes all the time from simple changes in thoughts. “Immediate early genes” get re-expressed in seconds, changing bodies, adaptively altering them to environmental or social threats. Heck, healing wounds and injuries is simply unexplainable materialistically — what is the mechanism?…what senses the need for repair, and how do all the cells know how to work together to restore the body as it was before?

    The reality is animals all over creation use this same unseen, internal, intelligent mechanism that is used to heal wounds to adapt them to the environment. This often happens during development even. Evo Devo has been the thorn in the neo-darwinists’ side for years…and the reason is they posit an alternative explanation for adaptaion: an internal mechanism as opposed to an external mechanism. In a recent debate even PZ myers backed away from being a darwinist:

    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.php/3/2008/04/24/neuroscience_debate_pz_myers_vs_angus_me

    “I had two very big surprises. First, Dr. Myers denied being a Darwinist, which produced the kind of stunned silence one would expect if the Pope announced his non-Catholicity. Myers’ stated grounds were that Darwin has been dead for over a hundred years.”

  86. Ralph

    I’m gonna take a stab at a definition of ‘irreducible complexity’ here. An example I once heard was the eye, which seems to me a good one. I think the idea is to work backwards from the simplest functioning eye, like a simple one on a fish or something that just senses the presence or non presence of light. Now the question is, can you go back a single step, via mutation, to produce something that, though it isn’t a functioning eye anymore, is evolutionarily competitive. This is the intermediate step and you would like to imagine that it’s competitive advantage is similar to that of the ‘finished product’, so that a single evolutionary pressure could be imagined to influence the process from start to finish. It does seem to me to be a challenging argument, especially when we just consider how much more complex we understand life to be today. I truly believe Darwin would have come up with a different theory had he known what we know.

  87. Evolution Is Silly

    Geat job, you disproved a metaphor. =_=

  88. Kit

    Tom, I was under the distinct impression that the biologists backing evolution don’t call themselves “Darwinists.”

    The theory has changed enough over the years that the term is incorrect. Maybe that is why Meyers emphatically denied that he was a “Darwinist”…?

  89. xyz

    Aha! Arguments from ignorance! You folks know nothing about bicycles and unicycles!

    What if you needed a one-wheeled bike that could balance without any net forward motion? Then you would need a fixed-gear (i.e., no freewheeling or coasting mechanism) — like on a track or messenger bicycle — so that you could rock the bike back and forth like a unicycle.

    Well, you might argue that there is the same limitation on a two-wheeled bicycle. Not so. A freewheeling two-wheeled bicycle that is cross-wise on a slope can be rocked back and forth by pointing the front wheel up the slope and using gravity to push the bike backwards.

    BTW, track-bike sprinters sometimes do “trackstands” by using their fixed gears to rock their bikes back and forth — the idea is to try to force the other rider(s) to take the lead (it is considered to be an advantage to be in the rear to help see what the other rider(s) are doing).

  90. James

    @Ralph

    Over 99 percent of the species that ever walked, flew, or slithered upon this earth are now extinct. This fact alone appears to rule out intelligent design. When we look at the natural world, we see extraordinary complexity, but we do not see optimal design. We see redundancy, regressions, and unnecessary complications; we see bewildering inefficiencies that result in suffering and death. We see flightless birds and snakes with pelvises. We see species of fish, salamanders, and crustaceans that have nonfunctional eyes, because they continued to evolve in darkness for millions of years. We see whales that produce teeth during fetal development, only to reabsorb them as adults. Such features of our world are utterly mysterious if God created all species of life on earth “intelligently”; none of them are perplexing in light of evolution.

  91. Kit: yes, just like modern astronomers don’t call themselves “Keplerists”, cosmologists don’t call themselves “Einsteinists” and quantum physicists don’t call themselves “Schröderists”.

    “Darwinism” appears to be mostly a bit of projection by creationists, who like to identify a cult by its founder, and who like to believe that evolution is a cult too.

  92. “Over 99 percent of the species that ever walked, flew, or slithered upon this earth are now extinct. “

    This is absolutely false.
    It’s a perfect example of the process of repeating something enough times, so that it’s taken to be true.

    This claim originated in David Raup’s book and is completely unsupported
    Dr. Raup is the original source of that 99.9% extinct quote, in
    his 1991 book “Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck?”
    Raup is a catastrophist and puts more emphasis on contingency in the
    extinction of taxa than cause. I wouldn’t exactly call him a devout
    darwinist.

    If you think about it for a moment, you’ll see that I’m right. The
    notion that 99.9% of all of the species that have ever lived are extinct
    is based on the darwinian paradigm that demands their existence. It’s a
    number based on no evidence at all, just the notion that if darwinism is
    correct (which everybody assumes is true) then all of these must have
    existed to explain evolution. But the numbers tell a different story.
    There are at *least* 2 million living species and perhaps as many as 10
    million. Even if 90% were extinct, this would require a *minimum* of 20
    million extinct species. If the number 99.9% is used, then it requires
    at least 2 billion species to be extinct. If the number of known, living
    species is even greater than my conservative numbers, then the number of
    extinct species could reach to 10 billion. Where are all of these
    fossils? You might say that they weren’t preserved and there is no
    record of them, but we certainly should have found more than the few
    10′s of thousands that we have. Look at the Burgess Shale and you’ll
    only find a few hundred taxa. The Chengjiang has about the same stuff as
    the Burgess. (And interestingly enough, is 40 million years younger).
    My conclusion is that these alleged species never existed.

  93. Owlmirror

    Charlie, charlie, charlie…. we all know that you’re a crackpot, but you’re being a little more crackpot than usual. You yourself have acknowledged that evolution occurs; your usual crackpot blatherings are about mechanism (perhaps arising from your stubborn ignorance of genetics and reproduction, but whatever).

    Well, the implicit multiplicity of species arises from that same evolution you’ve already accepted. The “mechanism” is rather beside the point.

  94. James

    @ Charlie

    “This is absolutely false.
    It’s a perfect example of the process of repeating something enough times, so that it’s taken to be true.”

    You have a lot of reading to do.

    Based on current evidence, the widely accepted conclusion from scientists is that 99% of all species that have ever lived have gone extinct. That is the fact.

    Over 99% of species that ever lived are now extinct

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event

    In the broadest sense, “science” (from the Latin scire, “to know”) represents our best efforts to know what is true about our world. We need not distinguish between “hard” and “soft” science here, or between science and a branch of the humanities like history. It is a historical fact, for instance, that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Consequently, this fact forms part of the worldview of scientific rationality. Given the evidence that attests to this fact, anyone believing that it happened on another date, or that the Egyptians really dropped those bombs, has a lot of explaining to do. The core of science is not controlled experiment or mathematical modeling; it is intellectual honesty. It is time we acknowledged a basic feature of human discourse: when considering the truth of a proposition, one is either engaged in an honest appraisal of the evidence and logical arguments, or one isn’t……

  95. “Over 99% of species that ever lived are now extinct

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event

    And you believe everything you read in Wikipedia? ;-)

    If what you say is true, where are all the fossils?

    I’m not any kind of expert on sampling, but I know that very small
    samples can effectively represent very large trends. If I selected
    10,000 random New Yorkers out of the 7.5 million person population, I’d
    hit just about every racial, religious, and ethnic group in my sample. I
    *might* miss some of the very rare ones, like if there were only 60
    Zoroastrians and they all lived in one apartment building in Brooklyn,
    but I’d get *most* of them. The same with extinct species. If I sample
    fossil beds all around the world for 150 years, I’m going to expect to
    hit at least one example of *most* of the extinct species. Not all of
    them, of course,and certainly not all the examples, but *most* of the
    species. Now, what we have is a prediction of 10 billion and an actual
    number closer to 10,000 That’s only 10^-5 of my prediction.
    I’d say you must re-evaluate your theory.

  96. Gerard

    “After all, without all the pieces in place, it couldn’t work.”

    Then it probably didn’t need to work in the way it does today at the time it developed. The whole bike analogy is missing the point (of redundancy) in a big way. The bike rebuttal only shows that the people at the DI didn’t really want to think about the critiques of IC. Or couldn’t really…

  97. James

    “And you believe everything you read in Wikipedia?”

    I tire of you……

    “If what you say is true, where are all the fossils?”

    I’m going to credit you with ignorance rather then stupidity, go do your own research on just how fossils are made & the likely hood.

  98. Peter Hilton

    Who says all the fossil beds have been located & examined? It would seem only those who wish to look no further.

  99. eyesoars

    I see that the IDiots are as ignorant of mechanical history as they are of biological history. Apparently they’re superb researchers.

    Anyone familiar with unicycle history should know that unicycles evolved from bicycles. Remember the old ‘penny farthing’ bicycles with large front wheels and tiny rear wheels (and pedals connected directly to the large wheel)?

    Riders discovered that these were easier (and safer) to ride with the rear wheel disconnected. Then the seat was fixed to the large wheel. Presto, a unicycle. And the frame doesn’t get in the way when dismounting (making them much safer), and the rider can lean backwards arbitrarily far when attempting to stop (rather than pitching over forwards during a hard stop).

    Of course, bicycles continued to evolve too, and we now have modern bicycles with equal-sized wheels, chain (and now shaft) drives, gear-shifts, &c.

    So even with unicycles and bicycles, we have common descent.

    LOSE!

  100. TheJerk

    It is a sad state of affairs when modern scientists have to defend the most important discovery in life/health/biological sciences ever made from disbelieving religious zealots, whose goal is to “educate” the public (i.e., anyone young or gullible enough to buy it) to the contrary. When will this end? It is so reminiscent of what Galileo’s discovery did for our understanding of the universe, and how society/religion reacted to him. How many times must the ID/creationism emperor’s lack of clothing be exposed?

    “…the adaptation of means to ends, the adaptation of structure and process to function requires insight.”

    Why is it so difficult to understand that you don’t need insight or design, and there isn’t necessarily purpose/perfection/complexity to explain life? Silly examples and metaphors only obfuscate the logic in many cases. In a system where you start from very simple, you have really only one direction to go if change occurs: more “complex”. The natural world is all about achieving balance. When one thing changes (e.g., climate, competing species, whatever) other things change as well. It isn’t that it is random, it has order– but the order developed along with the system, by following the same natural principles. Predators and preys, in eternal arms races, change one another across the millenia. We see order because we know it is there. Our lungs breathe oxygen, not because it is the best way to do it, or that was a goal of someone or some ancestor down the line… but because at some point, that worked. If the atmosphere changed to be something else, and life didn’t extinguish, it would evolve to work with what it had. Randomly? No. At the will of a creator? No. Through some form of natural selection? Exactly.

    Think of the origins of life as not unlike the way water freezes when conditions are right. It is an (amazing!) product of natural processes.

  101. Antaeus Feldspar

    “Why don’t people just let natural selection speak for itself. After all it has a mind of its own, a will of its own, an existence all its own, and an ability to evolve all its own. Sounds to me like natural selection is just another guise for naturalism, a pantheistic worship of nature.

    Send in the gods, there ought to be gods, don’t bother they’re here.”

    At the risk of over-dignifying nonsense by responding to it, Karl’s argument could just as easily be rephrased as “Let’s let that kitchen strainer speak for itself. After all, it’s very clearly got a mind of its own; when a pot of pasta and boiling water was poured into it, it achieved the sophisticated intellectual task of selecting out only the pasta, and discarding the water. That means it has a mind of its own, a will of its own, an existence all its own, and an ability to evolve all its own. Sounds to me like ‘kitchen strainer’ is just another guise for Annapurna, the Hindu goddess of cooking and food.”

  102. Mike G

    Charlie,
    By your own account, after more than 300 years of looking we have only cataloged about 20% of the estimated extant diversity on the planet. Where are the other 80%? These are currently living species that we have yet to locate. Why do you assume that we are even close to this good at finding and resolving extinct species from any given time period in the past, especially when most of that history is dominated by single celled or soft-bodied organisms?

  103. truth machine

    Once again the IDiots are being let off the hook by not pointing out how completely they have failed to meet their burden, which is to PROVE that there’s no evolutionary path to the entity that is supposedly irreducibly complex. When Luskin says “The fact that a unicycle lacks certain components of a bicycle does not mean that the bicycle is therefore not irreducibly complex.”, rather than pointing to pictures of the obvious, we should all loudly say SO THE EFF WHAT? It’s irrelevant if something DOESN’T show that that a system ISN’T irreducibly complex — the burden isn’t on US.

  104. truth machine

    “My conclusion is that these alleged species never existed.”

    Since you have proven, over and over again, that you are dishonest, ignorant, and stupid, what you conclude is irrelevant.

  105. truth machine

    “it is considered to be an advantage to be in the rear to help see what the other rider(s) are doing”

    Um, you can see what other rides are doing by looking at them … pro riders know how to look backwards without losing their line. The primary advantage of being behind someone is drafting.

  106. truth machine

    “I, for one, believe that both feet are off the ground”

    She’s right and you’re wrong, as evidenced by his foot not being the dangling left pedal cage.

  107. truth machine

    “it’s that you can’t explain why these particular parts were selected, why they’re integrated together in just such a way and how they were assembled from raw materials without invoking an intelligent agent.”

    Actually, Charlie, you ignorant sockpuppet slut, that can be explained, and the explanation is the theory of evolution. Of course, as so often happens in science, the explanation requires a reframing — the organisms we observe did not arise by having their parts selected and integrated, but rather via a lengthy iterative process that RESULTS in integrated systems.

  108. truth machine

    Make that “his foot not being IN the dangling left pedal cage”.

  109. truth machine

    “Charlie Wagner’s ID arguments are all based on the unexamined premise that “lifeform = machine”. The big problem, of course, is that living things AREN’T machines.”

    No, that’s not the big problem with Charlie’s arguments, and it’s quite reasonable to view life forms as machines as long as one doesn’t erroneously confuse function with purpose.

    “there are many, many features of living organisms that no engineer would ever contemplate putting in a machine”

    So what? Living organisms weren’t engineered, so the contemplations of engineers are irrelevant.

    “and many, many machines, some blindingly obvious and simple, that have never been reproduced in a biological system, even after 4 billion years of evolution. (And the bicycle, as far as I am aware, is one of them!)”

    So what? Biological evolution puts severe constraints on which machines arise.

  110. truth machine

    “Behe’s mousetrap is unevolvable, not because you can’t take it apart without it losing it’s function, it’s unevolvable because you can’t put it together in the first place using only random, non-directed, accidental occurrences.”

    Prove it. In fact, this is obviously false.

    But it’s also utterly irrelevant. The mousetrap is *Behe’s* example, of irreducible complexity. If, as you admit, it’s not irreducibly complex, Behe loses, period. We don’t have to show that the mousetrap is a result of evolution, because we never claimed it is, IDiot.

  111. truth machine

    “Oh please, your definition of “machine” in there is so ridiculously broad that almost anything would qualify as a machine, as long as it has “functions”. Tell me then, what “function” does your daughter Leslie have? And what intelligent input was required to create her? …
    Finally, you completely fail to mention the biggest difference between life and human-made machines: life can reproduce itself, machines can’t. Therefore, life can evolve, and machines can’t. To equate life and machines without mentioning this crucial difference is not a small oversight, and I’m inclined to even call it dishonest.”

    Man, some of you are a lot more mystical than Charlie. A broad definition of “machine” in terms of functions is normal in the mathematics of computation, Leslie has plenty of quite obvious functions without any need for intelligent input into her creation, and it’s simply false that machines can’t reproduce and that this is a fundamental difference between life and machines. SOME machines can reproduce, and some of them are biological and some aren’t.

  112. truth machine

    “Evolution requires imperfect self-replication. It is, in all probability, an inevitable emergent property of imperfectly self-replicating systems.”

    Wrong. It’s not hard to produce models of imperfectly self-replicating systems that don’t evolve.

  113. truth machine

    “The problem is that Behe and other IDers can’t describe a single biological system which fails to function when parts are removed. In every case, there seems to be clear evolutionary value for the remaining parts of the system.”

    Even if true (and I don’t think it is), this is irrelevant, because the evolutionary predecessor of an organism need not be another organism with one fewer part. “irreducible complexity” is an UTTER FAIL as an argument against evolution. In fact, a century ago, an evolutionary biologist showed that evolution can be expected to produce irreducibly complex systems; such systems are robust, since mutations that alter them are likely to produce non-viable offspring.

  114. truth machine

    “Lee Bowmn isn’t the only one who can use an online dicti0nary, and I can’t help but wonder why he chose to skip no fewer than eight definitions to find the one he liked.”

    That’s not a valid counterargument. Amphiox claimed that life forms AREN’T machines; any definition that says they are serves as a refutation.

  115. truth machine

    “If say a bike did fail because some part was removed then it’s a sign that it was poorly designed in the first place. ”

    You may be a computer “engineer”, but you’re no engineer. Bicycles are designed to be light and fast; system redundancy is not a requirement. To claim that the fact a bike will fail if, say, the chain is removed shows the bike “was poorly designed in the first place” is, frankly, STUPID. And if you’re inclined to argue that it didn’t really fail because you can still propel it with your feet, that would just show that you’re intellectually dishonest.

  116. truth machine

    “Could the simplest possible form of life be considered irreducibly complex?”

    No, because the boundary between “alive” and “not alive” is not well defined.

    “Doesn’t the “Origin of Species” hinge on the “Origin of the First Species”?”

    No, Darwin explicitly stated that they are orthogonal.

    “Doesn’t the “Origin of the First Species” point back to the origin of entire universe (or multiverse)?”

    No.

    “Didn’t creation precede evolution?”

    There’s no evidence of any (purposeful) creation prior to the evolution of goal-seeking agents.

  117. truth machine

    “As random mutations have never been shown experimentally/scientifically to build new physiological structures such as flagellum anyway, it’s all just a silly argument. ToE is nothing but a religion.”

    No, it’s inference to the best explanation. It would be religion if it were believed for no good reason, but there can be all sorts of good reasons other than direct observation to believe something. For instance, it isn’t religion to believe that George Washington crossed the Delaware.

  118. truth machine

    “A discussion of theories may be an intellectual exercise but the essential point is whether or not a Creator exists. Everything else is babble attempting to prove or to disprove that point; theres been enough babble on both sides that counterarguments abound…proving nothing but the existence of a preconceived opinion.”

    A profoundly anti-intellectual and stupid statement.

    “I believe the evidence supports the existence of that Creator…and the Creator designed the system to evolve.”

    Bully for you.

  119. Man, some of you are a lot more mystical than Charlie. A broad definition of “machine” in terms of functions is normal in the mathematics of computation, Leslie has plenty of quite obvious functions without any need for intelligent input into her creation, and it’s simply false that machines can’t reproduce and that this is a fundamental difference between life and machines. SOME machines can reproduce, and some of them are biological and some aren’t.

    Sure, if you want to consider biological organisms machines, with a clear understanding what a machine is, that’s fine. But that means you can’t equivocate later that machines are things created for a particular purpose, like Charlie implicitly did in the piece I referred to, and use that to argue that therefore living organisms are designed too. In that context it is patently dishonest to not point out the obvious differences between organisms and the examples Charlie put forward as machines.

    BTW, if you know any examples of machines that can evolve, I’m interested to see them. I know computer programs can evolve, and I suppose you could consider those machines too, in a sense, but a mechanical device that evolves I’ve not heard of before.

  120. Antaeus Feldspar

    “And if you’re inclined to argue that [a bike without a chain] didn’t really fail because you can still propel it with your feet, that would just show that you’re intellectually dishonest.”

    Sorry, truth machine, but on this point you’re just plain wrong. To “fail” in the context of evolution is to provide NO survival advantage over others, not to provide a level of survival advantage that is less than perfect. Therefore, to “fail” in the analogical context of a bicycle would be to provide NO transport advantage. A bike without a chain is certainly not as good as a bike WITH a chain, but if you can sit on a bike and push yourself along with your feet, you will still get where you’re going about as fast, or faster, and with less energy on your part. That’s some transport advantage; it doesn’t matter than bikes with chains do even better until you’re competing with them.

    It’s important to keep this issue because it’s one of the ways that ID’ers try to move the goalposts when the theories they set forth get demolished. The ID’er points to a particular system X and claims that X is “IC” and thereby asserts that NO subset of the parts of that system could have conferred ANY survival advantage, therefore the system could not have evolved to system X by way of subset W. When you prove that, yes, there IS a subset of X which provides some sort of advantage, the ID’er says “oh, well, that doesn’t count because obviously subset W doesn’t provide AS MUCH advantage as system X” — forgetting, or hoping YOU will forget, that their argument hinges upon EVERY subset of the parts providing NO advantage.

  121. James

    The theory of childhood, also known as child origin, is a damnable, loathsome and indefensible lie. How can any thinking person suppose all humans used to be babies once?
    There is no development path from babies to adults, no transitional forms between these two species. Show me even one baby with the head of a grown man on his body. Can you? No? Not even a bearded toddler? No adults with unfused skull bones, outside unfortunate disorders? Not even a tiny little newborn girl suddenly sprouting a respectable bosom? You can’t find them, because they don’t exist. There isn’t a single transitional form between children and adults, and you will never find one because the theory simply is an unscientific lie.

    The development of children has been well-researched in our six-month study following a sample of one thousand children and adults of various ages. We have conclusively proven that while there are minor changes in features like height and body fat, and replacement of deciduous teeth with permanent teeth, incontrovertibly still every creature in the study that started out as a child had only slightly more adult features at the end of the observation period than at its beginning. Children and adults are separate kinds and there will never be sufficient changes to change one into the other. We reject any evidence from longer-term studies as we believe the laws of physics have changed within the last year.

    To claim people come from children is demeaning and morally degrading. We have observed how children behave. If we acted like small children we’d all be demanding and impatient, and we’d be cheating, lying, and stealing from each other all the time. If the theory of childhood were true there would be no morality, and with no morality to build one on, no society. Childhood is a wicked lie used by charlatans to justify evils such as public schools.

    There is no consensus on the theory of childhood in the scientific community. We should teach the controversy. Our children will be served well to learn that the prospect of them becoming adults is merely a theoretical idea. Many children come from families that do not subscribe to the theory of childhood, and they could be disturbed if the theory were taught as fact.

  122. i.knew.it.was.

    Dear Little James,
    how bout if ur going to give some huge “trying-to-be-satirical-but-failing-miserably” rant u actually choose something that is ever-so-slightly relevant– as in not the childhood to adulthood thing which obviously lacks context seeing as that is the development of one organism into its mature stage. ur whole little metaphor functions under the assumption that the development of an individual organism perfectly mirrors the supposed evolution of a population. However, as i am sure we all know, Darwinism states that evolution occurs only in a population, not an individual organism. Your use of this of this analogy is, therefore, pretty much insulting to proponents of both the theory of evolution AND id. So, lets have a little bit less fanciful imagery, and a little more scientific evidence please.

  123. James

    @ I knew it was…

    I didn’t write it, it just found it a while ago online, but it touched a nerve with you huh

    Ha great!

    News flash for you……..

    The scientific evidence was in a loooong time ago and it backs evolution. There is no question of this.

    Christians who doubt the truth of evolution are apt to say things like “Evolution is just a theory, not a fact.” Such statements betray a serious misunderstanding of the way the term “theory” is used in scientific discourse. In science, facts must be explained with reference to other facts. These larger explanatory models are “theories.” Theories make predictions and can, in principle, be tested. The phrase “the theory of evolution” does not in the least suggest that evolution is not a fact. One can speak about “the germ theory of disease” or “the theory of gravitation” without casting doubt upon disease or gravity as facts of nature.

    The only this left for the (ID)iots is ridicule, and mockery. They are dangerous, delusional, and are no different to members of a brainwashed cult that think the whole world is against them.

    For the ID’ers that doubts evolution…. The very best they could hope to be credited is with ignorance, and have a lot of reading to do.

  124. Sam Platts

    I notice that there seem to be plenty of angry personal attacks directed at I.Ders, such as this above, which leads me to think there are other issues involved for the poster that we are not hearing about. Anthropologically speaking, it is impossible to get away from religion. We all have it, its what makes us human, but we don’t all have the same religion, and for some strange reason, the more similar our beliefs, the worse the fight.

  125. Antaeus Feldspar

    Sam, if you watch Ben Stein’s movie Expelled, you will see Stein claim preposterously that “Darwinism” led to Nazism and the Holocaust, without a twang of conscience for perpetrating such a vicious libel. If you were unaware that ID advocates regularly insult not just the intelligence and education of those who understand and believe evolution, but also their basic morality, falsely suggesting that only those who reject evolution can have an understanding of right and wrong — then, I suppose, one might actually wonder about “other issues involved for the poster” without finding it dead obvious.

    Your comments that “for some strange reason, the more similar our beliefs, the worse the fight” would be very perceptive indeed — if you were addressing the ID advocates and not the advocates of evolution. After all, the secular humanists who believe in evolution acknowledge that there are religious creationists (of which IDers are a subset), and religious believers in evolution. The religious believers in evolution acknowledge the existence of religious creationists and of secular humanist believers in evolution. The only ones who seem determined to pretend someone else just plain doesn’t exist are the religious creationists. Are they trying to wish away the existence of the secular humanist evolutionists? No! They’re trying to wish out of existence the very people who share their religion, the theistic evolutionists!

  126. i.knew.it.was.

    @ Dear Little James:
    The fact that you found some random crap and passed it off as your own is in itself pathetic, as is your questionable diction and grammar, which contributes to the overall vagueness and lack of meaning in your vituperative comments. However, even more pitiful is your apparent inability to actually say anything of relevance.

    Your ever-so-random attachment to the word “theory,” which was in no way precipitated by any comments of mine, is a defensive evasion that provides no noteworthy commentary on the controversy. But, since you raised the issue, regardless of what you would like to think, a theory is just that because it lacks essential supporting evidence that is testable and falsifiable. Were reality as you like to say it is where evolution were an unquestionable truth, then it would be called a law. Unless you can actually come up with a practical way to test this theory and then carry out that test, you have no basis for accrediting any more truth to the theory of evolution than it has been given. It would appear that you are the one with a serious misunderstanding.

    You also commented that “The only this left for the (ID)iots is ridicule, and mockery. They are dangerous, delusional, and are no different to members of a brainwashed cult that think the whole world is against them.” I am sure that individuals of actual intellect on both sides of this issue cringe with equal disdain as people like you corrode the discourse of thought with name-calling. Because you obviously have a very innaccurate view of people who support ID, as is evident from your ignorant and downright childish comments, it is apparent that YOU are the one who has some reading to do, fool (and that is a personal bash on you and you alone, not all of those who I am sure wish earnestly to disown you as an advocate of their beliefs).

  127. I notice that there seem to be plenty of angry personal attacks directed at I.Ders, such as this above, which leads me to think there are other issues involved for the poster that we are not hearing about.

    What I would add to what Feldspar is a quote from the guy who bankrolled Expelled:

    We wanted to generate anger,” Ruloff said.

    http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/thesearch/archive/2009/01/03/no-apologies-allowed-producer-defends-anti-darwin-movie.aspx

    So it’s the usual, vile dishonest epithets are hurled at people for using honest scientific methods to arrive at a conclusion, and then Sam and others whine piteously about people getting angry at such viciousness. Of course, if they didn’t become angry at lies, they’d triumphantly claim that was because it is the truth.

    There really is no end to the depravity of ID.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  128. Mike G

    IKIW,
    Go take an elementary lesson in science and then come back and join the discussion. Statements such as this- “But, since you raised the issue, regardless of what you would like to think, a theory is just that because it lacks essential supporting evidence that is testable and falsifiable. Were reality as you like to say it is where evolution were an unquestionable truth, then it would be called a law.” illustrate perfectly that you are not arguing from any knowledge on the subject.

    A scientific theory is an explanation of a [i]complex[/i] phenomenon that is by definition supported by large amounts of evidence including experiments, laws, and facts- all of which have already stood up to attempts to falsify them. It is in not a hypothesis, speculation, or just a guess. [b]It is the highest level of certainty in science[/i] and cannot be overturned or even significantly weakened by disproving one (or even several) of the supporting hypotheses, nor can any further evidence turn a theory into a law.

    Laws are simple explanations of simple phenomena, usually expressed mathematically. F=ma is one example. Theories cannot be distilled down into laws. However, laws can support theories.

    And just for fun, here are several observations that could falsify evolution since it’s “unfalsifiable.”
    1. Find a population whose genetic identities do not change over time in response to directional selective pressure.
    2. Observe one of creationists favorite examples- a cat giving birth to a dog, or any species naturally producing a species of a different genus.
    3. Find a fossil in undisturbed strata that predates its unambiguously proposed ancestors- e.g. a bird older than reptiles or a reptile older than fish.
    4. The recent emergence of new phyla (though this would throw a wrench in the whole creation thing too).
    5. A species suddenly developing a complex, fully formed structure with no evolutionary (including genetic) precursor.

  129. James

    @ .knew.it.was.

    Ha, you are an amusing child aren’t you?

    My post was a proper answer to your last question

    “a little more scientific evidence please.”

    If you understood the scientific meaning of the word theory, then you would not make a statement like that. That was the direction of my post. Clearly a virus has taken over your mind & hijacked your ability to reason. It is very severe in your case. There are people on this planet still convinced the world is flat against all the evidence & you my friend are barking up the same tree. Have another round of ridicule and mockery

    You are a very angry/delusional person and I sit here with a smile on my face watching the metal gymnastics you go through trying to circle a square. It seems like you are an (ID)er but I cant tell for certain….. It seems like you just want to keep a tired worn out and lost argument going.

    People like you are the most reprehensible. You live your life taking all the advantages that scientific discovery has brought you, Increase life expectancy, living conditions etc & on the other hand you are doing nothing more then making it your business to damage the integrity of the scientific method.

    Since you show no understanding of the Scientific Method Vs ID…….

    The ID argument is:

    ID: Here is the conclusion. What facts can we find to support it?

    The Scientific Method: Here are the facts. What conclusions can we draw from them?

    Now go do some reading other then Genesis Page 1, before you embarrass yourself further!

  130. truth machine

    “Sorry, truth machine, but on this point you’re just plain wrong.”

    No, I’m not, and you have displayed exactly the sort of intellectual dishonesty that I alluded to but didn’t actually expect you to commit — by pursuing a strawman, with an undisputed argument that a bicycle without a chain can be propelled. This is true, but has no bearing on your erroneous claim that an absence of redundancy indicates bad design. But in hindsight I should have expected it, because your original claim displayed such a lack of capacity for clear thinking.

  131. truth machine

    But that means you can’t equivocate later that machines are things created for a particular purpose, like Charlie implicitly did

    I wasn’t defending Charlie or anything he said, silly.

    BTW, if you know any examples of machines that can evolve, I’m interested to see them. I know computer programs can evolve, and I suppose you could consider those machines too, in a sense, but a mechanical device that evolves I’ve not heard of before.

    I responded to a claim that machines can’t reproduce; to deny that is not to assert that they have reproduced, silly.

  132. Antaeus Feldspar

    ““Sorry, truth machine, but on this point you’re just plain wrong.”

    No, I’m not, and you have displayed exactly the sort of intellectual dishonesty that I alluded to but didn’t actually expect you to commit — by pursuing a strawman, with an undisputed argument that a bicycle without a chain can be propelled. This is true, but has no bearing on your erroneous claim that an absence of redundancy indicates bad design. But in hindsight I should have expected it, because your original claim displayed such a lack of capacity for clear thinking.”

    Sorry. Not only are you wrong AGAIN, but you’ve just demonstrated that you don’t really read very carefully. The argument that “an absence of redundancy indicates bad design” might have been made by someone on this page, but not by me. In fact, you seem to think you are responding to an ID advocate, completely ignoring that the entire last paragraph of my message was about how YOU have to keep from falling for a common gambit of ID’ers.

    You claim that it’s “intellectually dishonest” to say that “[a bike without a chain] d[oes]n’t really fail because you can still propel it with your feet”. But the fact is, if we are drawing lines of analogy between the world of machines and the world of biological evolution, then the only way to FAIL is to have NO advantage versus competitors. Those who believe in “irreducibly complex” systems try to claim that EVERY POSSIBLE SUBSET of an IC system fails in this way; that is in fact an absolutely key part of their argument. Yet instead of admitting, when presented with a functional subset of a supposedly IC system that provides an advantage, that their claim has failed — ID’ers sometimes try to cheat. They say “oh, that subset doesn’t count because it doesn’t provide AS MUCH advantage as the complete system” — hoping you won’t notice that they’ve just moved the goalposts, or won’t call them on it.

    Notice. Call them on it.

  133. @Mike questions my recent listing by Discover Magazine and writes that one of my publications in Nature “was a letter to the editor, not a research report.” The publication in question is “Satellite ozone monitoring error,” Nature 361, 505 (11 February 1993). Unfortunately, I cannot find this online, but Mike can be assured that this publication, which Nature designated a “Scientific Correspondence,” reports real research and was based on two years of near daily total column ozone measurements from the ground using TOPS-1 and 2, two homemade ozone monitoring instruments that I designed, built and calibrated.

    (TOPS led to a Rolex Award–http://rolexawards.com/en/the-laureates/forrestmarionmims-home.jsp– Mike can build his own TOPS using instruction published in Science Probe! magazine and linked at http://www.forrestmims.org.)

    The satellite error was confirmed in 1992 during my first four visits to Hawaii’s high altitude Mauna Loa Observatory, where world standard Dobson ozone instrument (I83) also identified a drift in ozone measurements by NASA’s TOMS instrument aboard the Nimbus 7 satellite. After my note and a graph of my data and the satellite data were published in Nature, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center invited me to give a talk they entitled “Doing Earth Science on a Shoestring Budget.” That talk began a relationship with NASA that resulted in two field assignments to Brazil to study the atmosphere during the burning season there and assignments to make measurements at 7 major forest fires in Western States.

    Returning to Mike’s concern that I advocate Intelligent Design, it is rather ironic that my first visit to Hawaii when the satellite drift was independently confirmed by I83 was to give a keynote talk at a scientific meeting about how I lost “The Amateur Scientist” column at Scientific American when the editor learned I rejected Darwinian macroevolution and abortion. That talk resulted in an annual teaching assignment in Hawaii that has allowed me to continue annual calibrations at the Mauna Loa Observatory since 1992 and to write a 270,000-word book on the amazing history of this world famous atmospheric research station. (The book will be published late in 2009 or in 2010.)

    Mike and others who are troubled by Intelligent Design advocates who do serious science and publish in leading scholarly journals (please see my web sites for a list of my publications) need not be so worried, for part of the foundation of modern science was laid by men and women who believed in a designer God. A classic example is the amateur scientist and Christian Michael Faraday, who invented the electric motor and refrigeration and whose ideas led directly to Maxwell’s equations. Without the foundational work of Faraday, Mike and I (and the rest of us) would be unable to exchange in this dialogue.

    Mike and his allies might also wish to read the letter sent to me following a unanimous approval by the 16-member Committee of Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that supports the rights of scientists to hold personal views that others my oppose. A JPEG copy of this letter is on my main website (see below).

    Clearly the editorial staff at Discover Magazine supports the principles outlined in the AAAS letter, and I thank them for including me on their list and for explaining why.

    Forrest M. Mims III
    http://www.forrestmims.org
    http://www.sunandsky.org
    twitter.com/fmims

  134. Antaeus Feldspar

    Mr. Mims, would you have a great deal of respect for the scientific integrity of a person who, in this day and age, chose to believe that the Earth was the center of the universe and everything including the Sun moved around it? I feel reasonably confident in saying you wouldn’t. Why wouldn’t you? Why, because it’s been a very long time since Copernicus unveiled his theory that the Earth wasn’t even at the center of the solar system, let alone the universe, and in that very long time, the evidence for the Copernican view has become overwhelming. We would not try to defend the scientific credentials of someone propounding the Ptolemaic worldview today by pointing to people who lived before Copernicus and noting that they held the Ptolemaic worldview. Those people were not ACTIVELY REJECTING a scientific theory for which the evidence accumulated at the time of their consideration was overwhelming.

    Asserting that Michael Faraday did not accept the theory of evolution within eight years* after the publication of “On the Origin of Species”, even if true, does not provide a very strong defense for someone who TODAY chooses to reject a much, much more comprehensive understanding of evolution and the mechanisms by which it operates, and the much, much larger body of evidence supporting evolution that has accumulated in a century and a half.

    * “Origin of Species” was published in 1859; Faraday died in 1867.

  135. Mike Treat

    I love it when the pot calls the kettle black. Perusing the attacks on ID above one finds a cornucopia of logical fallacies, ad hominem, and straw-man attacks. Don’t have enough of an open mind to allow for research regarding the possibility of design detection within biology? Just conflate ID with creationism (anyone with an open mind that has done *any* objective research understands the difference) and proceed to refer to ID’ers as IDiots. That sure wins the argument! Find yourself wrapped up in a definition of science that *requires* that you exclude design detection? To the point that *you* are driven by a philosophical position (naturalism) rather than the hard science? Just attack the ID folks for being “agenda-driven”, right-wing, religious nuts. No irony there! (The ID tent is bigger than you think and you would know this if you had enough of an open mind to look into it objectively.)

    To say that Behe’s idea of irreducible complexity has been disproved is wishful thinking. I’ve heard all kinds of silliness (ranging from co-option, disappearing scaffolding, etc.). All of it is what is commonly called hand-waving. No one has anything approaching empirical evidence that anything with specified complexity has ever evolved without the benefit of design (front-loading, etc.). We have direct evidence of small-scale, undirected evolution (viruses, etc.). That undirected evolution can accomplish anything useful is strictly conjecture. In any other area of science, what currently passes as “proof” within evolutionist circles would be cause for hysterical laughter.

    It’s also rich that ID critics pompously proclaim that ID is NOT science because it can’t be falsified – and then confidently claim to have disproved it. You can’t falsify that which is not falsifiable. Just another in a long line of logical fallacies committed by those that are emotionally and financially invested in the *TRUTH* of macro-evolution.

    Design detection is routinely used in various scientific endeavors (SETI, archaeology, cryptography, forensics, etc.). No one freaks out if a medical examiner detects an intelligent agent when determining cause of death (even if he/she doesn’t identify the culprit). This isn’t CSI where the forensic scientist also has to play detective. But everyone has a cow if someone attempts to detect design within biology. Oh! Those big, scary, flat-earthers are trying to take over! What will we ever do!? Somehow, the very consideration of design detection within biology is off-limits.

    Darwin’s dangerous idea is dangerous because the evidence *hasn’t* confirmed his theory and there are folks that use it to justify all kinds of ridiculous behavior (from Hitler’s ideas regarding the master race, eugenics, euthanasia, etc). The more we learn about the actual fossil record, the various explosions of complexity (the various “big bangs” of biological forms and types), the ridiculous complexity of the cell, the vast interdependence of bio-mechanisms necessary for life and it’s myriad complex functions, and the information-laden wonder of DNA, the less likely it is that this all happened by accident. And it’s not an argument from ignorance. The medical examiner isn’t accused of an argument from ignorance simply because he/she can’t figure out how the evidence could have resulted from purely undirected mechanisms. The medical examiner has a set of tools (math, science, chemistry, reason, etc.) that he/she uses to make a determination. ID researchers are simply attempting to develop the math, science, and reason of design detection within biology. They are just making the mistake of applying those concepts to biology and it casts doubt on undirected evolution – the holy grail of science.

    The evolutionists are behaving like religious fundamentalists when their faith is questioned. In a delicious case of role reversal, the evolutionists have become like the church at the time of Galileo and Copernicus. Evolutionists now *worship* the gods of random chance and time. The evolutionists cry *heretic* anytime someone has the nerve to question whether random chance and time alone can account for what we now know about life, human consciousness, etc. The evolutionists are the ones that are arguing from ignorance. For the evolutionists, time and random chance fill all the gaps. Time-Chance is their “god of the gaps.” Instead of locking up or killing the heretics as in times past, the priests of the church of Darwin settle for character and career assassinations.

    Any new idea that goes against the prevailing opinion tends to go through the same stages (if it is ever accepted): 1) First seen as ridiculous, laughable, easily ignored. 2) Then seen as evil and can therefore no longer be ignored. 3) Eventually seen as a possibility that can be safely considered. 4) Accepted as obviously true and everyone wonders why it took so long for the establishment to change! I contend that ID is somewhere between stages 2 and 3. Who knows if it will progress beyond that — but it won’t be the end of the age of reason if it does. It may be the beginning of a new age where scientists are free to go *wherever* the evidence leads – no matter how uncomfortable that direction. Keep in mind that even if ID becomes respected, it says *nothing* about the identity of the designer(s) (little green men, time travelers, God, a giant turtle with the world on its back, etc.). Just as a medical examiner isn’t required to identify the murderer, ID’s scope ends with design detection. That’s why while ID may have metaphysical implications, those metaphysical implications are outside of the ID arena.

    Calm down. Relax. The sky isn’t falling.

  136. Antaeus Feldspar

    Mike Treat –

    Thank you for your commentary. Unfortunately, your grasp on the state of the evidence seems rather weak. To claim that the scientific evidence hasn’t confirmed “Darwin’s theory” indicates that you haven’t spent as much time examining the scientific evidence as you have reading the propaganda of cdesign proponentsists. The scientific evidence has been confirming evolution for about one hundred and fifty years now.

    I’ll skip over your boring and tendentious armchair psychoanalysis of “evolutionists” — it is, after all, an attempt to “explain” a state of affairs that doesn’t exist. I admit that the very organized creationist lobby has shown great creativity (if zero morals) trying to invent answers to the question “why do evolutionists cling so tenaciously to a theory that the scientific evidence doesn’t support??” and you seem to have truly studied and absorbed their counter-factual narrative to the point where you can dispense it out again freely in a prolix (if patronizing and pretentious) style. But, as we are dealing with the real world, the answer to “why do evolutionists cling so tenaciously to the theory of evolution?” is, quite obviously, “because the evidence has been supporting the theory of evolution for a hundred and fifty years now, and shows no sign of stopping.” It’s rather hilarious to watch you spin wild fantasies of how “evolutionists now *worship* the gods of random chance and time”; tell me, do you also accuse the mathematical establishment of “*worshipping* the gods 2 and 2 and their supposed ability to *miraculously* create a 4 where none was before”?

    “To say that Behe’s idea of irreducible complexity has been disproved is wishful thinking.”

    Oh, of course the IDEA of irreducible complexity has not been disproved. The only way you could disprove it is to prove that each and every single system which Behe et al. have ever — or WILL ever — claim is IC, isn’t.

    No, what we have disproved is not the IDEA of irreducible complexity — we’ve just disproved that any of the systems which Behe etc. claim to be “irreducibly complex” actually meet his definition. Behe presents the blood-clotting cascade and says “THIS is irreducibly complex because if this system were missing any of its parts it would provide no survival advantage at all!” Of course, we look at it and we say “Gee, dolphins have that same blood-clotting cascade — except that it’s missing some of the parts you say it won’t work without, and, wouldn’t you know it, it DOES work and provide a survival advantage without those parts.” And what’s Behe’s answer? Well, typically, for a while he just tries to pretend he hasn’t noticed that his evidence has vanished. After a while he stops using THAT system as an example of IC and starts touting something else that he SAYS is IC. What he DOESN’T do is find a system that actually MEETS HIS OWN DEFINITION of irreducible complexity.

    To ask “has Behe’s idea been completely disproven?” is to ask the wrong question. The correct question is “has Behe met the burden of proof for getting his idea taken seriously?” If Behe were to actually come up with a system that meets his own definition of IC, his idea would be taken seriously. But as previously mentioned, Behe’s proposed examples fail under scrutiny. Until he comes up with a successful example, his ideas really merit no more than casual curiosity — the kind we might give to someone who insists that Bigfeet roam out there in the woods, but can’t provide any evidence.

    If there was a well-organized and well-funded public relations effort to push the idea that Bigfoot is out there — the way that there is a well-organized and well-funded public relations effort to try and push the idea of creationism — then we’d probably be hearing the same, tired old propaganda from them: The scientific establishment has made a religion out of denying Bigfoot. The scientific establishment is trying to destroy the careers of Bigfoot researchers. The scientists who deny Bigfoot are somehow responsible for the Holocaust, at the very least are spiritual kin to the Nazis. Bigfoot MUST be the correct idea because scientists are getting so angry at Bigfoot researchers (somehow the Bigfoot researchers never quite grasp the fact that they might be making the scientists angry with slanders like the above-mentioned “responsible for the Holocaust” nonsense.)

    None of it would change the basic fact that the burden of proof is on the person with the unproven idea, to prove that it DOES merit further study — not on everyone else to prove it DOESN’T.

  137. Mike G

    Mike Treat,
    You do an excellent job of illustrating why how ID advocates have earned the title of IDiots. You demonstrate a clear lack of knowledge about evolution or even science in general, yet you rail against science using mostly old talking points and $2 words (specified complexity anyone?) that have been thoroughly addressed before.

    “Naturalism” isn’t some philosophical blinder opposed to objective hard science as you suggest. Science is by definition naturalistic. It is limited to what can be observed and measured empirically. Those things that cannot be measured, such as the actions of deities and the like are supernatural and are outside the bounds of science regardless of whether that pleases you or not. Attempting to use supernatural explanations of phenomena is decidedly unscientific.

    You also repeatedly mention and seem to emphasize “undirected evolution” which is an ID concept not found in evolutionary theory. Am I to suspect that you are truly this ignorant of evolutionary theory (and aren’t really qualified to be arguing the case) or that you’re being intentionally dishonest as seems to be the norm among the more influential ID crowd?

    If you could, I’ll ask you to direct us to an example of someone proclaiming to disprove ID. As you pointed out it is an untestable hypothesis. Showing that Behe’s argument is a logical fallacy is not a test of the hypothesis- simply the logical soundness of the argument he chose to make. Above I listed several lines of evidence that could falsify evolutionary theory. Now is your chance. What conditions would falsify ID and could not be written off simply because “God works in mysterious ways?”

    While you’re at it, please provide us with a definition of “design detection” and a biologically useful method of such that 1) does not presuppose design and 2) can distinguish between intelligent guidance vs. guidance from directed selection.

    As for “Darwin’s dangerous idea”- replace “Darwin” with “bronze age goat herder.” Following your same line of logic, belief in God is dangerous because his existence hasn’t been proven and the belief in him has been used to justify all sorts of ridiculous behavior (abortion clinic bombings, 9/11, crusades). Not only is it not true that there is no clear evidence of evolution, the consequences of the theory are no bearing on its validity.

    You insist that your lines of evidence that make evolution more and more unlikely are no arguments from ignorance, yet they are- both in the logical sense and the more colloquial sense. They make evolution seem more unlikely TO YOU because you cannot imagine how these observations could be accounted for. You are making the assumption that because something cannot be explained currently, it will never be explainable. That is the very definition of an argument from ignorance. The arguments you make are also ignorant in that you assert that this information can’t be accounted for with current knowledge. Your comment about biological explosions and the emergence of phyla is a particularly good example. This is no mystery to someone with an understanding of taxonomy. It’s akin to asking why none of the trees in your yard have sprouted new trunks on the ends of their branches lately.

    Your example of the medical examiner is a poor one. They determination of the contribution of an intelligent being is a sensible one because we already that A) humans exist B) humans can and do kill other people C) when humans kill each other usually distinctive signs are left D) natural deaths do not generally leave these same signs. The determination of intelligent action is based on the presence of evidence, not the lack of a better explanation. In biology there is no demonstrable intelligent guiding being, the mechanism by which said being designs organisms is unknown, and there are no clear signs of this design that could not be explained by other mechanisms. To presume to be able to answer these questions is reliance on religion.

    Religion is static belief in ultimate knowledge without or in spite of evidence. Science is self correcting and always assumes incomplete knowledge based on evidence. Evolutionary theory is no different from any other scientific theory in this regard and in no way resembles religion any more than any well tested scientific theory. The unwillingness of biologists to budge on the issue is a reflection of scientific skepticism and the weight of evidence, not religion. Regardless of how often they’re repeated, the same nonsensical arguments are still unconvincing. Similarly the fact that biologists get so frustrated with “heretics” is not proof of the validity of the “heretical” argument or the religious nature of biologists. It’s proof that we have little tolerance for dealing with the same old obfuscation with no honest attempt to educate oneself.

  138. JASON

    its all very simple, really. i am assuming that everyone that has read and commented on this blog is at least in their twenties. so, that would be another…what? sixty to seventy years of life left for the majority of everyone here at the very outside? ok. when that very, very short span of time has passed (trust me when i say that it will have seemed to go by very quickly) – everyone here will then know the truth about the origins of the universe and everything in it. if i were you, in that time, i would think very carefully about the ratio between what mankind really knows for sure and what it doesn’t know at all. you want proof that the Almighty exists? Wait awhile. In the meantime, I wish you all of the King’s rich blessings. I also wish you all good luck…some of you might not have seventy years.

  139. Antaeus Feldspar

    Jason –

    For one who calls himself a Christian to leave such a malicious, manipulative comment leaves me speechless. I, too, know that YOU will someday die, but I do not rub YOUR nose in it, especially not to score some shabby, cheap rhetorical point. If I were you, Jason, I would make a printout of your comment, and then imagine yourself in front of Jesus, reading every sentence aloud to Him, trying to justify to Him why you gloated with barely-concealed schadenfreude over the deaths of others. Go on — try to pretend to Him that you weren’t relishing the death and comeuppance you were wishing upon us. You will not fool Him.

  140. JASON

    antaneus-

    wow – did you think i was wishing death on you. i apologize very sincerely if that was the impression that my comment left on you. i’ve re-read it and i can’t pick out the part of it that would suggest that i’m looking forward to anyone’s death and subsequent judgement by the Almighty. Trust me, although death holds no mystery for me and i don’t fear it, my fervent wish is that no one die before knowing your Creator through Christ, his Son, your King. Unfortunately, time is not guaranteed. Our lives are like a morning fog that appears and stays a short while and then is soon burned off by the sun. I urge anyone here that may have doubts about their chosen life view to consider the design of the universe that unfailingly reveals the Creator. its planned. its harmonious. its ordered. its subtleties are vastly more complex than anything the collective wisdom of mankind could hope to imitate much less random chance duplicate. Forget the false science of evolution. I promise you its nothing more than a lie – seeded in the minds of men by a vile creature that has had millennia to perfect this deception with the sole purpose of keeping you from the path the Almighty has set for you from before your conception. Eternity awaits but your time is so very, very short. Please think on it carefully.

  141. Mel

    I, for one, have often found myself wondering just how one can worship so vindictive and immoral a god as Jason describes and still call themselves good people. Scientific issues aside, I would say that one would, should such a god exist, be morally bound to refuse to bow before such a god, and to withhold worship or belief regardless of the cost – even if it be torment or death. In any case, a god worthy of worship would not make threats, and would also not be threatened by anyone’s failure to worship him/her.

    Perhaps that is just me…

  142. JASON

    in what part of my comment did i describe a “vindictive and immoral” god? The Lord is completely righteous and perfectly holy, without spot or stain and completely beyond the reproach of us sinners. This is the One who created the universe and everything contained in it. He alone is worthy to judge and He is perfectly just. Sin, believe it or not, carries consequences. Of course he will punish us for being sinners just as a parent would rebuke a child that has done something he or she knows they shouldn’t have. Does the child say that the parent is then not worthy of love and respect because they were punished? you may refuse to bow before the Almighty now out of nothing more than an inflated sense of self and foolish pride, but that will change sooner or later – scripture says that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord and King. You should consider doing it now while the gift of salvation is still possible because after death…all bets are off as they say.

  143. Mel

    Jason, I’ll take my chances.

    As for you, I think you need to actually read up on actual research into evolution before dismissing it. You would also do to realize that there is no inherent conflict between an understanding and acceptance of evolutionary theory (or any of science, for that matter), and a belief in a god or even in many gods. If you believe in a creator deity, you are missing a great deal of the wondrous universe he/she created, but that is your prerogative (indeed, I were I a Christian, I would say that your stance is very much an insult of god). Besides, it is really very interesting in it’s own right.

  144. Antaeus Feldspar

    Jason, did it ever occur to you that some of us who believe in God, and who also believe in evolution and understand the way it truly works (it’s not “random chance” as you seem to think) might regard evolution as one of God’s most glorious creations? Who are YOU, presuming to speak for God and point to this amazing, simple but subtle process that runs through the world and DENY that it is an amazing and true aspect of the world he created?

    The world does not have to be flat for us to believe in God.

    The Earth does not have to be at the center of the universe for us to believe in God.

    The wide and amazing variety of life that populates the Earth does not have to have been put here by an act of special creation for us to believe in God. And if you are indeed limited in that way — you cannot possibly believe in evolution AND in God — that is a fault in your own faith, and not (as you would have it) in evolution or God.

  145. JASON

    let me clarify something. i do not believe in gods. i also do not believe in a god. i believe in THE God. The God of the Israelites and of Abraham and of Moses. All other gods are false and do not exist. i also believe the scripture contained in the Bible. i believe that it is THE word of God, written by men of God that were divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit – inerrant and complete without omission or substitution. i don’t believe some of it – i believe all of it. now, having said all of that, i’ll say this – scripture very plainly states the universe and everything in it were created by God in the span of six days. when He created the first man, Adam, he was fully formed and in adulthood. he was self aware, aware of his Creator, and able to intelligently speak with God, and God with him. now, i’m no biologist, but that doesn’t sound like any type of evolution has taken place to me. obviously, science and God cannot be at odds with each other – so, either evolution is a false science (wouldn’t be the first time in history a false science was accepted as truth by educated people) or the Bible is mistaken and God is a fairy tale. there can be no denial, however. the Almighty is as real as the ground you walk on. i’m glad that you have belief in God but it sounds like that you may not know Him all that well. if you don’t have a Bible, go out today and pick one up – may i suggest the NIV of the King James – and get to know your God. trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

  146. Mel

    Jason, are you aware that the very idea that the Bible is to be read literally is only about a century old? Are you aware that Jewish and Christian theologians of the likes of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas specifically likened ascribing single, particular interpretations to the Bible to idolatry (bibliolotry, actually), and to be a quite un-Christian concept, as it minimizes god? (Seriously, if you say that a book that supposedly has infinite meaning in each of its passages clearly states anything, you haven’t read it very much)

    Regardless of what you say, there is no conflict between evolutionary theory and religion. Indeed, there is no necessary conflict between evolutionary theory, modern science, and Christianity. Truly. You can go and talk to the Vatican and the Pope, or to the Ecumenical Patriarch, or to a variety of Protestant thinkers and ministers. This is not to say that they cannot conflict with particular, ahistorical and improper interpretations of religious dogma – dogmas that tend to minimize the Christian god and make him a mean little god.

    If your god brings you comfort and helps you get through the day, then great, but leave others alone. I tell you, the more I hear of the type of god ones like you believe in, the more troubled I get, as I cannot believe that anyone would wish to believe in such a god much less worship it. Still, to you be your religion, and to me be mine, as a wise man once said.

  147. Owlmirror

    I promise you its nothing more than a lie – seeded in the minds of men by a vile creature that has had millennia to perfect this deception with the sole purpose of keeping you from the path the Almighty has set for you from before your conception.

    Uh-huh. And who created this vile creature whose sole purpose is to allegedly keep us from the path that the Almighty has allegedly set for us?

    Who but the Almighty himself?

    That is one reason why the “Almighty” is immoral, if he were even real: With one hand he giveth, and makes damned sure to take away with the other.

    in what part of my comment did i describe a “vindictive and immoral” god?

    The traits of vindictiveness and immorality are inferred from Scripture. Think of some human tyrant; theists like to point at Josef Stalin. Given that you know that Stalin had millions killed without trial because they objected to his dictates, including women and children, would it not be correct and accurate to describe him as vindictive and immoral?

    Given that it is claimed that God personally killed millions in the flood, and killed some unknown but very large number of children in Egypt, and ordered the killings of thousands more, including the deaths of small children, would it not be correct and accurate to describe him as vindictive and immoral?

    Given that it is claimed that God will torture for all eternity the moral non-Christians, and even those moral Christians who fail to worship him in exactly the right way, exactly the same as someone as genuinely immoral as Stalin, would it not be correct and accurate to describe God as vindictive and immoral?

    This is the One who created the universe and everything contained in it.

    So it is claimed. Why can’t “the One” speak for himself? Why does he need weak and imperfect sinners, whose judgment is clouded by this “vile creature” (who he also created!) to speak for him, to us, whose judgment is also clouded by this “vile creature”?

    He alone is worthy to judge and He is perfectly just.

    So you say. Where is God, to say for himself what is just and what is not?

    Sin, believe it or not, carries consequences. Of course he will punish us for being sinners just as a parent would rebuke a child that has done something he or she knows they shouldn’t have.

    A “rebuke” assumes the possibility that the child can change their behavior. What change is possible after death? And as noted above, the child’s misbehavior is because of something that the parent knowingly put in place to deceive the child.

    Does the child say that the parent is then not worthy of love and respect because they were punished?

    If the punishment is excessive and eternal, then damned right the parent is not worthy of love and respect.

    And if the parent created the cause of the misbehavior, then damned right the parent is not worthy of love and respect.

    And if the parent does not speak for himself, then damned right the parent is not worthy of love and respect.

  148. Owlmirror

    there can be no denial, however.

    Why not?

    the Almighty is as real as the ground you walk on.

    Nonsense. I can see, feel, smell, even taste and hear the ground (if I walk loudly enough). Where is “the Almighty”, that I can perceive him and test him for his alleged attributes? Oh, right, Scripture says no testing God. Well, then you lied when you said that the Almighty is as real as the ground we walk on.

  149. Antaeus Feldspar

    I think it would be wisest to disregard Jason at this point. Discussions of pure theology have their place, but this blog isn’t that place, and Jason has made clear he has nothing else to contribute.

  150. JASON

    a couple of points in response to some of your comments.

    God created lucifer – an angel – the same as he created man. angels are, like us, free-willed sentient beings that serve God in different capacities. a portion of the angels rebelled against God, very foolishly i might add, for unlike us, they have no hope in salvation. before man sinned, the lake of fire, or what some may refer to as “hell”, was created and reserved solely for them. their dissent was a free-willed, conscious decision, individually made by each angel. God is no more immoral for their creation than a mother would be for giving birth to a an individual who eventually goes on to commit heinous crimes.

    the scripture tells us that the wages of sin are death. it also tells us that all have sinned. therefore, your just and deserved recompense is to die. scripture also tells us that tomorrow is not guaranteed – death may happen at any age. that sounds harsh to those who have no hope for anything after their time here ceases but the Bible states that even though death is inevitable, God’s gift to you is eternal life if you accept it.
    at the time of the flood, scripture states that there were no righteous people except one. He sent the flood waters to destroy these ungodly people and saved the one righteous man and his family that they might start again anew.
    in egypt, God, in his mercy, did provide that whomever had the blood of a lamb (a glimpse of things to come) on the doors of their home would be spared the visit of the angel of death. even an egyptian home. i might point out that the pharaoh had many opportunities to spare his people God’s judgment but in his pride, he defied God even though he could directly see the effect on his lands and kinsman.

    man does not speak for God. so why doesn’t God speak directly to us? He did, actually. God became human in Jesus Christ who was sent by his Father, the Almighty. He spoke to many, many people, taught men the will of God, performed miracles, healed the sick, and even returned the dead to life. there were a great deal, though, that even after witnessing first hand the power and majesty of the King, still rejected Him. He speaks to us even today through His holy word, the Bible.

    physical death, eternal separation from God and exile in the lake of fire is the end judgment for those who have sinned. that is what is just and deserved. that was not what was intended, though. that place was originally reserved for lucifer and the other angels who rebelled against God. man, however, made the choice to sin and now the judgment for that awaits. but, God, because His love for you and i is so powerful and unerring, provided an alternative. instead of us, He sent His only Son to die in our stead. that sacrifice must be acknowledged and accepted on an individual basis for the redemption to be counted. Christ said that anyone who denies Him before man, He will deny them before His Father.

    death is the payment demanded by God for sin. however, he can punish individuals for their continued and unrepentant sins by means other than death. there are many examples in scripture of righteous and unrighteous men being rebuked by God and not slain outright.

    a question, and then i’ll leave you all to yourselves – well, maybe… depending on your responses. what do you suppose happens after death? oblivion? it would be hard to imagine that’s not what you’d expect if there is no God. i personally find that hard to visualize and i would imagine most people that have given thought to it would agree. scripture says that God has set eternity in the hearts of man. i’m not saying that that’s the proof God exists. There is no definitive proof of that because if there were, well, lets face it, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. we’d all be at Bible study discussing His glory over coffee. i know, i know… “if only it were true!” is what you’re thinking, right? i kid, i kid. but seriously, lets say, that nothingness is what awaits us. what then is the purpose of life? to take what pleasure you may in the the short span you have and procreate so that future generations can do the same? let’s say you give the “to sacrifice and serve mankind and live the best life you can” answer – which, by the way, i’m not mocking. if that’s what you truly think, that would be very honorable and noble. but, in the vast and endless march of time, what makes that any better or worse than the person who says “i’m out for me and me only”? imagine the world one hundred billion years in the future when, as some scientists say, all life on this world has been snuffed out and has been for some time. what significance were your years compared to the billions that have come and gone since then. what lasting impact was your life in this universe that will supposedly collapse back in on itself in another umpteen gazillion years. i’m interested to hear your answers.

  151. Owlmirror

    SIWOTI!

    angels are, like us, free-willed sentient beings that serve God in different capacities. a portion of the angels rebelled against God, very foolishly i might add, for unlike us, they have no hope in salvation. before man sinned, the lake of fire, or what some may refer to as “hell”, was created and reserved solely for them. their dissent was a free-willed, conscious decision, individually made by each angel.

    And where in the bible does it say that? Oh? It doesn’t say it anywhere? So it’s just a story made up by people after the bible was written? OK, then. By all means, make up more fairytales to add on to the written fairytale.

    God is no more immoral for their creation than a mother would be for giving birth to a an individual who eventually goes on to commit heinous crimes.

    The mother is innocent precisely because she would have no knowledge of what her putative evil child would become, nor presumably, be able to prevent the child from acting. If she did know, and was able to prevent the individual from acting yet did not do so, then she is complicit in the heinous crimes, and thus, immoral.

    Are you saying that God had no knowledge of what the angels would do? Are you saying that God was completely incapable of preventing them from acting? Are you denying here and now that God is all-knowing and all-powerful?

    the scripture tells us that the wages of sin are death. it also tells us that all have sinned. therefore, your just and deserved recompense is to die.

    The words of a tyrant, in other words. Just like Stalin saying “Everyone deserves to die”. Or the actual words of the Khmer Rouge: “To keep you is no benefit, to destroy you is no loss.”

    but the Bible states that even though death is inevitable, God’s gift to you is eternal life if you accept it.

    Just like Stalin saying “Oh, but I’ll let you live… with certain conditions…”

    at the time of the flood, scripture states that there were no righteous people except one.

    And that included all the women (pregnant and not) and children, of course. What, the babies were crying too loudly? The fetuses were kicking too hard? What the hell is an entire population doing such that every single one of them, down to the unborn infants, are all not “righteous”?

    i might point out that the pharaoh had many opportunities to spare his people God’s judgment but in his pride, he defied God even though he could directly see the effect on his lands and kinsman.

    WRONG! I guess you don’t know your own bible. Pharaoh defied God because God forced him to defy God.The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh

    So much for free will.

    And that does not explain or excuse the deaths of the firstborn; infants and children.

    man does not speak for God. so why doesn’t God speak directly to us? He did, actually. [...] He speaks to us even today through His holy word, the Bible.

    So that makes sense to you? “Speaking” is exactly the same as fixed words in a 2000-year-old book in a different language? Why then does anyone even bother to use words, sentences and paragraphs that aren’t in the bible?

    Why do you use words, sentences and paragraphs that aren’t in the bible?

    physical death, eternal separation from God and exile in the lake of fire is the end judgment for those who have sinned. that is what is just and deserved

    Just like Stalin/Pol Pot saying that everyone who does not embrace Bolshevism/Maoism deserves to be tortured to death, and then tortured forever after that.

    Your idea of “just” and “deserved” are exactly like that of the greatest butchers in the world.

    God, because His love for you and i is so powerful and unerring, provided an alternative. instead of us, He sent His only Son to die in our stead.

    No, he didn’t. Death is permanent. Unless Jesus died forever, he did not actually die. By your own mythology, God brought Jesus back to life. So Jesus did not die.

    that sacrifice must be acknowledged and accepted on an individual basis for the redemption to be counted. Christ said that anyone who denies Him before man, He will deny them before His Father.

    That doesn’t sound like “love” to me. It sounds like Stalin/Pol Pot telling people to accept Bolshevism/Maoism … or be tortured forever by the secret police.

    death is the payment demanded by God for sin. however, he can punish individuals for their continued and unrepentant sins by means other than death. there are many examples in scripture of righteous and unrighteous men being rebuked by God and not slain outright.

    death is the payment demanded by Stalin for not being Bolshevist. however, he can punish individuals for their continued and unrepentant “sins” by means other than death. there are many examples in history of righteous and unrighteous men being sent to the Gulag by Stalin and not slain outright.

    Why would “righteous” men be rebuked? Maybe because God is just as evil as Stalin?

    what do you suppose happens after death? oblivion?

    Better oblivion than an eternity of groveling before a cruel and evil tyrant.

  152. JASON

    i sense much hate in this one……..star wars joke……….never mind.

    owlmirror, look, its pretty apparent that you’re an atheist. most atheists that i’ve encountered and have talked with are intellectuals that are usually employed in either a field of science or medicine or have careers in academia – usually in a tenured position. interestingly, almost all of them have a similar viewpoint as yourself. they also all have trouble answering the questions i posed at the end of my last comment. what’s the significance of your life compared to, let’s say, a chimpanzee’s life. if you’re both animals at different points along the evolutionary time line – aren’t both lives of equal value. if they’re not – why? if a Creator has not given men the authority to govern other men – where does that authority come from and why should anyone be beholden to it? is there truly such things as good and evil? if there are, where in the animal kingdom is there basis for those things? are there such things as love, hope, compassion, empathy, and pride or are they just an anomaly of the human species – an evolution, if you will, of baser animal instincts?
    why do we see certain things as beautiful? why do we have a sense of humor and what is the purpose of laughter? why do we care for our injured and sick even when there is no possibility of recovery? why do we mourn for those lost to us? what makes us human?

    well, because roughly a kajillion years ago the matter and elements of the universe, (gee, where did that stuff come from? never you mind that) by sheer random chance, combined and aligned itself just so with a mixture of just the right amount of chemicals in a primordial sludge and then something happened (don’t ask what exactly but something) and then there was life. oh, and by the way, instead of being snuffed out within a couple of minutes or hours or days in an extremely hostile environment, it survived…..oh, and then, wonder of wonders, was able to completely replicate itself and flourish. and theeeeen, over the course of the next one hundred zillion years, again by sheer, random, fantastically improbable (but not impossible, no way jose) chance it slowly evolved into……well, would you believe every last life form on earth?

    why didn’t i think of that?!

  153. Mel

    ‘well, because roughly a kajillion years ago the matter and elements of the universe, (gee, where did that stuff come from? never you mind that) by sheer random chance, combined and aligned itself just so with a mixture of just the right amount of chemicals in a primordial sludge and then something happened (don’t ask what exactly but something) and then there was life. oh, and by the way, instead of being snuffed out within a couple of minutes or hours or days in an extremely hostile environment, it survived…..oh, and then, wonder of wonders, was able to completely replicate itself and flourish. and theeeeen, over the course of the next one hundred zillion years, again by sheer, random, fantastically improbable (but not impossible, no way jose) chance it slowly evolved into……well, would you believe every last life form on earth?”

    Such arrogance and ignorance – a poisonous brew. Jason, you have shamed the name of Christianity with your haughtiness and overweening pride uninformed by thought or knowledge.

    As to the questions you posed in the previous paragraph, what makes you think atheists and agnostics don’t ask those questions? Is it not possible that it people can ask those questions and reach far different conclusions than you, or are you so arrogant you cannot imagine views other than yours?

    Antaeus Feldspar, I am glad you are out there to be a religious person to stand as an example to those who make the mistake of thinking that all religious individuals are like Jason.

  154. JASON

    yikes. well, i guess we don’t ALL have a sense of humor after all. you guys really need to start getting more sleep, or lay off the caffeine, or something. its gonna be ok buddy, ill help you through this. its just a friendly discussion

    and yeah, they ask the questions. i’m not hearing any answers, though.

  155. Mel

    “i’m not hearing any answers, though.”

    Then you aren’t listening or reading, are you? Another mark of your arrogance and pride.

  156. Owlmirror

    owlmirror, look, its pretty apparent that you’re an atheist.

    Of course I’m an atheist. The only question, given the horror of the God you describe, is why you aren’t.

    if a Creator has not given men the authority to govern other men – where does that authority come from and why should anyone be beholden to it? is there truly such things as good and evil? if there are, where in the animal kingdom is there basis for those things? are there such things as love, hope, compassion, empathy, and pride or are they just an anomaly of the human species – an evolution, if you will, of baser animal instincts? why do we see certain things as beautiful? why do we have a sense of humor and what is the purpose of laughter? why do we care for our injured and sick even when there is no possibility of recovery? why do we mourn for those lost to us? what makes us human?

    What does that have to do with anything? Christianity’s answer, as given by you, is that none of it matters; that no love, hope, compassion, empathy, or pride make any difference whatsoever. Your religion is that there is no point to beauty, there is no point to laughter, there is no point to caring, there is no point to mourning. There is even no point to being human. There is only God’s will and God’s wants.

    You claim that we are all equally evil; that God thinks that we all deserve eternal suffering. Your God hates us with such a cruel passion that he insists that we all suffer eternal agony, no matter how much love, hope, compassion, empathy, or pride we may have; no matter how much we may appreciate beauty or laugh, or care for other humans, or mourn their loss … unless we jump through God’s moronic hoop, and call being forced to jump through that hoop “love”.

    No.

    I think there are answers to those questions; I think it is possible to discuss them and come to a greater understanding of the answers, or the potential for answers. But it is not possible to discuss them with someone utterly steeped in dogma; with someone whose only answer is “God wants it that way, and oh, by the way, God will torture you after you die forever unless you believe this particular stupid and utterly contradictory thing about God.”

    What, indeed, has Athens to do with Jerusalem?

  157. Owlmirror

    Oh, and one more point about those who write confused blitherings about evolution:

    Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.
     — Augustine of Hippo

  158. JASON

    i noticed you sidestepped all of those questions. like i said – i’m not hearing any answers. not one so far. by the way – i was being pretty sarcastic on the whole kajillion years ago comment. sarcasm aside – that is exactly what evolutionists believe. the universe had a beginning – we both, i’m sure, agree on that much. you know how i think the universe started – what i’m unclear on is the evolutionist’s side of the debate. how exactly did life arise from non-life? i’m a little hazy on that explanation. where again did all this matter that forms the universe come from? its not like it could have been just spoken into existence, right? that would just be crazy talk.

  159. Mel

    i noticed you sidestepped all of those questions. like i said – i’m not hearing any answers.

    The perspectives of non-Christians and atheists are treated quite well if you choose to look on the internet or in the library.

    “what i’m unclear on is the evolutionist’s side of the debate. how exactly did life arise from non-life? ”

    The question of the origin of life is still not settled. It is a large, and vibrant field of science that is still quite young. Does it have definitive answers yet? No, and it won’t for a very long while. Give it a few hundred years and come back if this is unsatisfactory to you.

    What is becoming clear is that you are not really religious at all, but simply yet another typical fundamentalist who is utterly afraid of uncertainty. Maybe this is why you choose to so mock and demean your god with your conception of him/her/it.

  160. Owlmirror

    i noticed you sidestepped all of those questions.

    And I noticed that you ignored all of my questions; you sidestepped every point that I raised about your religion.

    That’s my point: You cannot discuss your religion rationally. Indeed, all you can do is make assertions, and ignore any questions or problems or contradictions that are pointed out about those assertions.

    And I certainly cannot make science fit with your insane theology. All I can do is point at the evidence that exists, and that which can be inferred from current evidence, and the science that is being done to find the evidence that is still unknown. Such as for example, this:

    http://genetics.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/

    But how does my offering that link help? I’m certain that you don’t have the knowledge of organic chemistry to criticize it. All you can do is spout religious gibberish, like calling organic chemistry “false science” or “a lie – seeded in the minds of men by a vile creature”.

    We want no curious disputation after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after enjoying the gospel! With our faith, we desire no further belief. — Tertullian

    See? That’s your position, laid out proudly centuries ago. Even if I had the time and inclination to get down to the basics of science; of what is known and how it is that we know it, you simply do not really care. You just bring up questions about science so that you can smack down your ravings about what God wants, after ignoring everything said anyway.

  161. Antaeus Feldspar

    “what i’m unclear on is the evolutionist’s side of the debate. how exactly did life arise from non-life? ”

    That’s a little like asking what the Christian position on tofu is. There is no such thing. You could, possibly, ask a large number of people from the group in question what THEIR position is on it, and if you received the same answer from a large number of people in the group, you might mistakenly think that you are getting “the” position of the group — but the group is defined by beliefs, and those beliefs do not have any relevance to the ‘group position’ you are trying in theory to ascertain.

    Evolution is the explanation for how complex forms of life came from other, simpler forms of life. Are there scientific hypotheses for how the earliest, simplest forms of life came from non-life? Yes, there are, but those hypotheses are not part of the theory of evolution.

  162. JASON

    sorry, what questions of yours did i not answer? was it the one about jerusalem and athens? or the one about the angels? and its not necessary for me to defend God, Christ, or the Bible. believe me – they are not mocked.

    it would only be a false science if its conclusions contradict the fact that there is a Creator. otherwise it sounds like a good gig to have. by the way, thanks for the snarky remark about being certain of my level of education. i always enjoy a little inetllectual elitism before bed.

    was this terullian dude a christian? if he wasn’t he shouldn’t be speaking in the first person as if he were – sounds to me that maybe he didn’t like Christians. now why would someone say something disparaging about a group of people he didn’t particularly like? thats really bad manners. ditto that for augustine of hippo.

    mel – you are indeed correct. i’m not religious.

    and i was hoping for some possible answers to those questions from you fine gents. afterall, it was you that i asked.

  163. Mel

    You don’t know who Tertullian is? Wow. You are aware that there was some 1900 years of Christian history and thought prior to the advent of fundamentalism, right? Are you that ignorant of the early church? You probably don’t know who Irenaeus was, either, do you? Apollonius? John Chrysostom? And, really, you don’t know who St. Augustine was?

  164. Owlmirror

    sorry, what questions of yours did i not answer?

    I asked a lot of questions, and implied many more. Why don’t you start with the explicit ones, though?

    was it the one about jerusalem and athens?

    *Sigh.* I really thought you would have some basic familiarity with your own religion, at the very least. That one was a famous quote from Tertullian; more famous than the bit that I cited explicitly that comes after it, and he was being rhetorical, as was I. If you don’t know that, or what he meant by the question… then never mind. Just skip that one. Just forget it.

    and its not necessary for me to defend God, Christ, or the Bible.

    Then why are you even here? Almost everything you’ve been posting up until now has been an apology; an apology is a defense.

    by the way, thanks for the snarky remark about being certain of my level of education. i always enjoy a little inetllectual elitism before bed.

    Utter hypocrisy, from the one demonstrating religious elitism.

    I am certain that you don’t know much about science, though, because you have demonstrated no knowledge of science, and plenty of ignorance.

    was this terullian dude a christian? if he wasn’t he shouldn’t be speaking in the first person as if he were – sounds to me that maybe he didn’t like Christians. now why would someone say something disparaging about a group of people he didn’t particularly like? thats really bad manners. ditto that for augustine of hippo.

    I really have no response to this. It’s like seeing an American not knowing who Thomas Jefferson was, or Alexander Hamilton, or Benjamin Franklin.

    Uh, you do know who Paul of Tarsus, doubting Thomas, and Pilate were, yes? Are you aware that the bible was not originally in English?

    Have you even read the bible, for that matter? Or do you just spout off about it?

    and i was hoping for some possible answers to those questions from you fine gents.

    Nonsense. You didn’t start off with honest questions; you started off with several rants about how evolution is just a lie and everyone deserves to burn in hell.

    Tell you what, you retract those rants, and we’ll see what happens. Otherwise, we’re back to you putting religious dogma before everything else.

  165. JASON

    again with the inellectual elitsim? really? i’m beginning to suspect that you truly beleive in that you are somehow more complete or superior to those who have not had the educational opportunites that you its seems you have been blessed with.

    by “early church” i assume you are referring to the catholic church. i’m not catholic so, no, i can’t speak with any great detail about its founders, origins, theologies and popular saints. i’m a Christian which is a pretty broad and loosely used term these days, applied to anything from mormonism to judasim. i do not beleive the tenets of those faiths either. most catholics would call themselves christians, i’m sure, but the gospel of Christ and catholicism are two very different ideas. in fact, each one has nothing to do with the other at all. my core beliefs would be:

    1. Father, Son, and Spirit are one God. There are no other gods.
    2. God created man in His likeness for His pleasure. man being the creation is subject to God’s authority.
    3. through adam sin entered the world and thereby all mankind is in bondage to sin.
    4. God, being holy, can have no fellowship with sin or a sinner. the wages of sin are death – physical and spiritual.
    5. God loves man so much that in mercy he provided that the judgment of sin be transferred from man to another vessel.
    6. He sent His Son, Christ to die for us, in our place that we may have life eternal and no be seperated from God.
    7. those who willingly aceept this sacrifice will be redeemed, their sins forgiven – those who reject Christ also reject their own salvation from the consequences of sin.
    8. man has free will. the choice to accept or deny Christ is not forced.
    9. whether redeemed or not, we will be judged according to our deeds by the Father.
    10. the Bible plainly explains all of this in great detail. it is complete and inerrant and the actual Word of God, written by man, inspired by the Spirit.

    i’m sure, even you would agree that one need not have a phd in religious studies in order to read, comprehend, and apply the bible. even us simple folk can do that much.

  166. Owlmirror

    again with the inellectual elitsim? really?

    Again with your hypocritical religious elitism? Really?

    i’m beginning to suspect that you truly beleive in that you are somehow more complete or superior

    Dunno if I’m “superior”, but I certainly know more.


    to those who have not had the educational opportunites that you its seems you have been blessed with.

    You mean, like Google? On the Internet that you are using to post this very message?

    Really, the internet is thick with seminaries, early Christian writings, different bible translations, theological archives and schools and… lots of stuff. You could, you know, look it up.

    I may not be “superior”, but I’m sure as hell not as intellectually lazy as you are.

    by “early church” i assume you are referring to the catholic church.

    *shrug* While Roman Catholics like to claim that the church’s pedigree really does go back that far, it was not as unified as they claim.

    i’m not catholic so, no, i can’t speak with any great detail about its founders, origins, theologies and popular saints.

    *sigh* And where did you think your flavor of Christianity, whatever it is, came from? Before the Protestant Reformation, there was pretty much just the Catholic Church — and even Martin Luther (uh, you do know who Martin Luther was?) didn’t think that all of the early theologians were wrong. After the Reformation, well things got a bit messier. I’m guessing that your flavor of Christianity is one of the less historically inclined, though.

    But not all Christians are as cut off from their past as you are. I mean, I was arguing with a Calvinist (uh, you do know who John Calvin was?) just the other day, and he did say that he agreed with Augustine.

    i’m a Christian which is a pretty broad and loosely used term these days, applied to anything from mormonism to judasim.

    Glk. Not by those who are actually Jewish, nor by those who actually know what Judaism is.

    Sheesh.

    i do not beleive the tenets of those faiths either.

    Why not? Do you have any knowledge of what they are, and why they should be wrong, and yours right?


    most catholics would call themselves christians, i’m sure, but the gospel of Christ and catholicism are two very different ideas. in fact, each one has nothing to do with the other at all.

    You astound me with your ever more profound ignorance of religion in general.

    i’m sure, even you would agree that one need not have a phd in religious studies in order to read, comprehend, and apply the bible. even us simple folk can do that much.

    Ah, sola scriptura.

    But that’s my point, once again: you’re certain that you need no other knowledge. You don’t care about other knowledge. How is your certainty in your tenets of faith different from what Tertullian wrote? Why on earth do you think he was “disparaging” Christians when you agree with his words, and assert that you need nothing else more than the bible?

    By the way, you’re still quite wrong. Some of what you wrote is not in the bible. The first line, for example, the doctrine of Trinitarianism was picked up by some and was decided on over other interpretations at the Council of Nicaea , some 300 years after Jesus allegedly died. The third line is a bit iffy as well; it certainly does not appear in Genesis, although Paul pretty much insisted on it, and most, but not all, later Christians decided that Paul was right.

    The eighth line is disputed by those who have a doctrine of predestination (such as Calvinists); again, it does not appear in the bible.

    And the tenth line is, of course, ridiculous. The bible is not complete, otherwise you would not need doctrines and explanations external to the bible. And the bible is not inerrant, because it is full of statements that contradict itself, directly and indirectly, and statements that contradict, directly and indirectly, reality itself.

  167. Mel

    “by “early church” i assume you are referring to the catholic church. ”

    That pretty much answers my question. You are completely ignorant of the formation and history of your religion. And you might want to be aware that the Catholic church as it is called is really the primary branch of Western Christendom that emerged as separate and distinct in the great schism between Eastern and Western Christendom that became final in the 11th century (prior to that, there was just “The Church” – the indivisible entity that encompassed all Christianity and grew from the apostles themselves . You might also want to realize that, from the stand point of the Eastern Orthodox, you are Catholic, as you a part of a splinter of a splinter of a splinter that splintered off from the Western Church.

    And even if you are one of those who thinks that the Church went astray after Constantine made it the Imperial religion, you might want to recall that Constantine didn’t rule until the fourth century. Tertullian and Irenaeus were both late second and early third century Church fathers, both of whom greatly influenced the development of Christian thought (Irenaeus was one of the originators of the concept of the pre-Millenniumism, for instance). Apollonius was an early and highly regarded apologist and martyr (he was executed by the emperor Commodus in 192). They all lived, incidentally, before the Bible itself was assembled into its current form (in 382 during the Council of Rome under Pope Damasus I), and likely influenced its final assembly.

    You really don’t know this stuff? I’m not a Christian, nor even a religious scholar – I just find it interesting. It is not like it is hidden knowledge or anything, after all. There are plenty of books on all of it at any library. There is a great deal on the internet, as well. You might want to learn a bit about your religion before being so arrogant about it. After all, the history of a document can be greatly informing to the understanding of it. If nothing else, such knowledge can help a great deal in avoiding dogmatic false certainty and the evil that comes of that. For that matter, you should probably learn a bit about science before being so judgmental about science, those who accept it, or those who work in it. As it stands, you come across as among the least Christian people with whom I have ever interacted. Indeed, I almost suspect that you are really a strange, bitter atheist who is out to discredit fundamentalist Christianity.

  168. Mel

    Owlmirror, I just wanted to say that it is nice to meet you. It is nice to meet someone else who thinks religious history is an interesting thing to study in addition to science.
    Never, though, say that the Catholic church was really the only Church before the Reformation. The Eastern Orthodox really, really take issue with that idea. That said, in the West, you’re right. The Catholic Church was the only game in town in the West until the Reformation (save for transient groups like the Cathars, of course).

  169. Owlmirror

    Never, though, say that the Catholic church was really the only Church before the Reformation. The Eastern Orthodox really, really take issue with that idea. That said, in the West, you’re right. The Catholic Church was the only game in town in the West until the Reformation (save for transient groups like the Cathars, of course).

    You’re quite right; I completely blew off the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Churches in the East that were (and are) not unified with the Eastern Orthodox (Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopian, Armenian… and probably some others). The history of religion is pretty complex.

  170. Mel

    The history of religion is pretty complex.

    No kidding. Especially with those early break-away sects that are hard to keep track of, and some of the doctrinal disputes at their hearts are difficult to grasp. It is amazing how worked up people got (and get) over such esoteric ideas. Interesting, though.

  171. Mike

    Seems I missed the boat in responding to Mims comments. In case anyone comes to the thread late, and looks past the “evolution is all about atheism” obfuscation:

    One of the standard tools of the evolution denial campaign is to claim improper persecution for one’s personal beliefs (“Expelled”). Mims has been relying on this one for (going on) several decades now, even using it in court. What makes opposing Mims’ assertions imperative is not, of course, a need to attack Mims, but the stated goal of the evolution denial campaign: Subverting the science education of the general public. Mims is a noted member of this campaign that uses misinformation and propaganda to lobby for laws and policies blocking good science education at the federal and state levels, as well as lobbying of individual schools and school districts. Despite setbacks in court, they continue to be increasingly successful at the local level, and gaining support from politicians.

    Evolution denial is unique among the science denial of the far right (overpopulation denial, global warming denial, pollution denial, etc), in that it seeks to remove from the general population an understanding of an entire branch of science, biology, at a time when it is critical that the general population understand it. Yes, the other topics are also critical, but in order to remove evolution education science education as a whole is being subverted. It goes well beyond just denying some data on global warming, or oddly claiming that balancing population to available resources isn’t necessary for good quality of life. This is the reason that Scientific American was correct in not renewing Mims’ column, and why Discover is wrong for providing him with notoriety that he doesn’t deserve, and which could have gone to any number of deserving people instead. Both Scientific American and Discover have an obligation to the success of science education, and that is why Discover pretending that Mims’ activities with the Discovery Institute aren’t of any real concern is tragic.

    Correspondence is not a research publication, and you will not find correspondence listed in a scientist’s CV. Data and experiments that are actually of interest to the field get published in a paper. There are several varieties of varying size, but they follow standards of scholarship.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »