Ken Miller's Final Guest Post: Looking Forward

By Carl Zimmer | January 4, 2009 7:01 am

miller-220.jpgHere’s the third of Ken Miller’s three guest posts on blood clotting, evolution, and intelligent design. (In case you missed them, here are the first and second posts.)

If you’ve had the patience to follow Part 1 and Part 2 of my replies to Casey Luskin’s postings on the blood-clotting cascade, you might be wondering why he’s gone to such trouble to beat a horse (Kitzmiller v. Dover) that left the barn more than three years ago (when that decision was filed).  Quite frankly, I wondered a bit about that, too.

Now he’s revealed his hand in Part 3 of the series.  It’s now apparent that his employers at the Discovery Institute are kicking off a attempt to show that Judge John E. Jones III got it wrong, and the Dover case was wrongly decided.  What Casey is doing is laying down an artillery barrage designed to soften up the strongest part of the defenses against ID — its record of failure in the Dover trial.

Why is this necessary?  Why bother re-trying a case that Luskin’s colleagues have already lost?  Because the Dover decision remains an open, and potentially fatal wound to the ID movement.

If ID surrogates in Louisiana, Texas, and other states are to argue that evolution is a controversial idea with serious scientific flaws, they’ve got a problem.  They know that the parents and educators backing genuine science education for American students will pick up the Dover decision and cite chapter and verse from its ringing indictment of everything that Casey and the Discover Institute stand for.  They also know that state legislators and school board members will consider the legal troubles that beset Dover and decide to pass on Discovery’s persistent offers to guide them along the path of undermining evolution.  In short, if Kitzmiller v. Dover stands, they’re done for.

But they can’t appeal the case — only the Dover School Board could have done that.  Unfortunately for the Discovery Institute, it lost that opportunity in November of 2005, when the voters of Dover threw out their pro-ID Board and replaced it with one entirely happy with the decision that Judge Jones rendered six weeks later.

So, they’ve got only one recourse — to produce a revisionist narrative showing that the decision was flawed.  Clearly they hope that their surrogates will then be able to pick up that narrative and use it to counter the scientific and legal disaster that was Kitzmiller v. Dover.

What Casey Luskin has done in Parts 1 and 2 of his revisionist history is to argue:

1) That I supposedly misled the court in my testimony about the “irreducible complexity” of the blood-clotting system by incorrectly characterizing the position of ID scientist Michael Behe.

2) That my testimony about missing parts of the blood-clotting system was supposedly irrelevant, since I hadn’t done any experiments to show that the system would work despite the absence of several parts in some organisms.

And, now, what he’s argued in Part 3 is that as a result of points (1) and (2), Kitzmiller v. Dover was a case wrongly decided on the basis of bogus scientific testimony.  That means, according to Mr. Luskin, that it should not be used against the ID movement.  And, just for good measure, he complains that key parts of Jones’ decision were “copied” from statements provided by the plaintiffs.

As I showed in earlier responses to Luskin’s revisionist history of the Dover trial, his narrative is wrong on each and every count.

• First, I didn’t mislead anyone when I testified about the blood-clotting system on the opening days of the Dover trial.  In fact, it’s Mr. Luskin who is trying to mislead his readers today by misrepresenting Michael Behe’s very clear written claims about the irreducible complexity of the system.   Behe made that claim very clearly in his portion of the ID textbook Of Pandas and People, and he did it again on page 87 of Darwin’s Black Box where he stated:

“Since each step necessarily requires several parts, not only is the entire blood-clotting system irreducibly complex, but so is each step in the pathway.”

• Second, Luskin’s willingness to misread Behe is then followed by an even more brazen attempt to misrepresent, “irreducible complexity,” ID’s own argument against evolution.  The one strength of that argument is that it makes a testable prediction, namely, that the individual parts of an irreducibly complex biochemical system should have no function until all of those parts are assembled together.  The difficulty, which Luskin has worked mightily to obscure, is that “irreducible complexity” fails that test at every turn.  So he pretends that the existence of fully-functional clotting systems that are missing as many as five parts of the “irreducibly complex” system is no big deal.    It is, in fact, a very, very big deal — because it shows that his argument, the claim of “design,” and his revisionist account of the Dover trial are all dead wrong.

• What all of this means is very clear.  The case that Luskin has attempted to make against the Kitzmiller decision is rotten from the ground up.  The testimony I presented in court was accurate, the scientific case for the evolution of the blood clotting system is getting stronger every day, and his plea to ignore the facts case is an act of desperation from a side unable either to do scientific research or to assemble a coherent legal argument.

The only relevant question at this point is why the Discovery Institute keeps highlighting its own failings in this way. Why are Casey and his employers now — three years after the Dover trial — trying to rehabilitate the tattered credibility of both Michael Behe and Pandas? What mischief are they planning now? The only conclusion I can draw is that they must be maneuvering for the next round of state board hearings or legislative sessions — and I’m concerned.  These folks are a whole lot better at politics and public relations than they are at science, and that means that everyone who cares about science education should be on guard.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Evolution

Comments (65)

  1. Jonathan Smith

    Thanks Ken,

    I think your last paragraph hits the nail on the head,the DI must be have some trick up their nasty little sleeves,perhaps a new catch phrase,
    “Academic Freedom” is getting a little worn out.
    We at the Florida Citizens for Science are well prepared and will continue to fight for real science education in our state.

  2. overshoot

    And, just for good measure, he complains that key parts of Jones’ decision were “copied” from statements provided by the plaintiffs.

    Since it’s common practice in the USA for prevailing attorneys to save (very) busy Federal judges’ time by drafting portions of the Courts’ final orders, this is just lame.

  3. Your conclusion is an important one. Many people have made the mistake that the Jones opinion settled the matter, but instead it will either be brushed aside in favor of “Academic Freedom Legislation,” or that a masked ID will be codified into state science standards. Even though the preliminary Texas draft of standards is favorable to science education it has yet to be reviewed by a largely creationist board. I can guarantee that there will be some changes made by this board and we need to keep a watchful eye in Texas.

  4. Bravo, Ken Miller!

    I was first introduced to you and your work two years ago in my 8th grade science class when we were learning about evolution (my teacher had, in fact, met you at some sort of conference and gotten a textbook signed). It was an interesting class considering the fact that half the students were creationists, yet I can think of only one student who chose to remain in the fog of ignorance afterwards. I think that his use of your work in the classroom (on the fusing of two chromosomes in the ape genome) contributed tremendously to that transformation.

    I’ll be passing these guest posts on to said teacher, as well as to a fellow student, a grade level older than me, who read Darwin’s Black Box and didn’t bother investigating its claims further.

  5. Michael Heath

    When people criticize Jones’ ruling, we should encourage them to read the trial transcripts, particularly Forrest’s, Behe’s, and Miller’s testimonies. My only point of reference reading them prior to Jones’ ruling was to the football game that set an NCAA record for being the most lopsided game ever, 220 – 0. I am not sure how a good, smart judge could have ruled any other way.

    In fact, I’d argue they lost worse than the football team who lost 220 – 0 given that: the losing team’s owner bailed during the game (DI saying ID wasn’t ready for schools), the star running back chickening out from even playing (Dembski’s refusal to testify after years of taunting scientists about wanting his day in court in spite of zero peer-reviewed findings by him or Behe that supported ID), the owners of the losers handing over their game plans, e.g., the Wedge Document leak, repeated claims in religious forums that ID was about God, not science, and complaining about the refs.

    How do you complain about the refs when your losing 220 – 0? You do when your followers are gullible idiotic ideologues like Bill Buckingham, who provided convincing evidence he was more concerned about proselytizing his religious beliefs than insuring his community’s children got an education that opens up all available doors.

  6. John Kwok

    Dear Ken,

    As you very well know, Casey Luskin is engaged in the metaphorical equivalent of “Custer’s Last Stand”, though here he’s hoping that the general public will be far more gullible than the Sioux warriors led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull were towards Custer and his men. It’s so much a rear guard action that I am surprised Luskin isn’t stepping in line with his fellow Dishonesty Institute IDiot Borg drones by asserting that public schools around the country should teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolutionary theory.

    As Judge Jones himself has noted on the PBS NOVA special pertaining to the trial, his ruling was legally binding only to the Dover Area School District itself, though he is quite delighted that it is being used as legal precedent around the country (An unfortunate fact which Luskin, Bill Dembski and their fellow intellectually-challenged acolytes at Dembski’s Uncommon Descent and elsewhere, most notably at the Discovery Institute’s website, have been frantically trying to dismiss ever since Jones issued his historic ruling.).

    Appreciatively yours,

    John

  7. Adam Spragg

    I think you’re missing a word in the first sentence of the final paragraph. Maybe a “why” between “is” and “the”?

    [CZ: Thanks, Adam]

  8. Mike

    Here’s another part of the strategy: Focus attention on state government and court cases while successfully lobbying individual schools at the grass roots. That’s working, but the anti-creationism movement doesn’t seem to be aware of it. It can’t be countered in court, too many schools, not enough ACLU. It can only be countered by publicity, with people with recognized authority speaking up and addressing the key issue for the general population: Is teaching evolution essentially teaching atheism. This is the only issue the majority cares about. Its what creationists really care about. They really don’t care about irreducible complexity. Ken Miller’s books make it abundantly clear that he understands this. The problem is that the members of the scientific community most likely to speak up against “balancing” evolution education, with the exception of Dr. Miller and few others, are the atheists, and they seem fundamentally incapable of addressing biology education outside of an anti-religion crusade. The link between evolution and atheism in the public perception has to be severed. Everything else is secondary.

  9. steve s

    And, just for good measure, he complains that key parts of Jones’ decision were “copied” from statements provided by the plaintiffs.

    Since it’s common practice in the USA for prevailing attorneys to save (very) busy Federal judges’ time by drafting portions of the Courts’ final orders, this is just lame.

    And since Casey has been to law school, either he knows this is standard practice and is deliberately trying to mislead his readers, or he is incompetent.

  10. John Kwok said: Casey Luskin is engaged in the metaphorical equivalent of “Custer’s Last Stand

    Yes, Custer’s last words were Don’t take any prisoners, men!

  11. Karen S.

    That was an excellent series of posts! Thanks so much.

  12. John Kwok

    @ Karen S. -

    I too echo your sentiment. ‘Tis a great way to start the Darwin Year here at the Loom.

    John

  13. JoshH

    Thanks, Dr. Miller, for everything you do to promote real science and the public’s understanding of it.

  14. Michael

    Thank you Dr. Miller for continuing to fight the good fight. I would love to see a prime time show dedicated to educating people on the origins of life on any of the three networks. I leave FOX out because, well, their FOX! Oh to dream

  15. Mark Farmer

    “These folks are a whole lot better at politics and public relations than they are at science, and that means that everyone who cares about science education should be on guard.”

    Thanks Ken for a terrific 3 part series. While our neighboring southern states are considering various “Academic Freedom” acts we here in Georgia remain vigilant. While we would love to invite you back for a visit hopefully it will not be to offer expert testimony to the legislature.

    Keep fighting the good fight!

  16. James F

    Mike wrote:

    The problem is that the members of the scientific community most likely to speak up against “balancing” evolution education, with the exception of Dr. Miller and few others, are the atheists, and they seem fundamentally incapable of addressing biology education outside of an anti-religion crusade.

    There are more scientists than you might think who take the approach of peaceful coexistence between science and religion, including those associated with the Clergy Letter Project and the vast majority of those who work with the NCSE and local citizens for science groups. You’ve nailed the main objection, now the challenge is to get the word out.

  17. Thanks for the excellent posts Mr Miller.

    I haven’t read much of their work, but I wonder if the ID crowd considers things like symbiotic relationships as irreducibly complex, since if you remove one species from the relationship the social interaction can no longer work. I can only guess that some of these relationships are sufficiently complex that nobody knows for sure how they got that way, which is presumably the case with blood clotting and why they’re using that as an example of IC. Essentially the entire ecosystem could be viewed as an irreducibly complex system of relationships.

  18. Mark Farmer

    James F Says:
    “There are more scientists than you might think who take the approach of peaceful coexistence between science and religion, including those associated with the Clergy Letter Project and the vast majority of those who work with the NCSE and local citizens for science groups.”

    Like Ken Miller I consider myself a “scientist of faith” and I acknowledge that this often enables me to more easily engage in discussions with people of strong religious convictions. I also recognize that a great many scientists consider themselves agnostic or even atheists. However this should NOT be a barrier to our willingness to engage the religious public. One need not be a believer in order to understand and appreciate those who are. By linking acceptance of evolution with atheism (e.g. Richard Dawkins)the scientific community is doing itself a disservice and playing into the hands of the DI and other critics.

    I urge all to read the books of Ken Miller and Francis Collins. I say this not in the hopes of bringing anyone to faith but rather so that all scientists are better prepared to constructively engage the majority of Americans who do believe in God. In this way you can help them understand what is, and what is not, true science.

  19. Mike from Ottawa

    As much fun as it is seeing the attack mouse of the Disinformation Institute once again come away with a headache and no cheese, Luskin et al. are not done. Like a zombie horde bent only on reducing human brains to excrement, they will keep on shuffling mindlessly across the landscape making up in implacable determination what they lack in knowledge, wit and wonder. The struggle will be a long one, and often repetitious (which is my view of zombie movies) but one we need to continue to fight. The biological world as illuminated by evolution is too full of wonder and splendour to allow the zombie hordes of creationism to blot out its beauty for others, quite apart from the practical benefits of a theory that works.

    My thanks to Ken Miller and our host for their good work.

  20. Casey deserves a “cdesign proponentsist award” (for outstanding ability to ignore the obvious).

  21. name

    “by asserting that public schools around the country should teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolutionary theory.”

    They should

    To do otherwise would be to end up like the Inquisition, or, as the last, childish, post shows, Mike from Ottawa

  22. Franc Fischer, Seattle

    I couldn’t agree more with Mark Farmer. Belief in science and evolution is not antithetical to religion, but merely requires a different belief in how the end is being achieved. The purpose or ultimate end may be obscure, but science shows the history, method, and progression to date. If a Creator established the universe and its laws, how is it that learning what, how and why He/She/It did so is contrary to believing in that Creator?

    On the other hand, the persistence of ID fanatics to fit the universe into their little box, ignoring the laws of science that describe and control the universe, is simply devoid of logic. While I am all in favor of examining snd testing any claims that any scientific theory is flawed (it is by doing so that advances in science and knowledge are usually made), “irreducible complexity” simply asks people to ignore the advances so far and concentrate on what we don’t know, assuming this shows some design that no one can prove or, allegedly, disprove.

    However, irreducible-complexity advocates ignore the most complex part of human biology, the human genome, because it doesn’t support their case. What could be more complex than the DNA code that controls human development from birth and makes us what we are? And yet 95% or more of human DNA is useless, meaningless sequences that have no current function whatsoever. If humans were intelligently designed as a whole, what kind of intelligence make 95% of the most-important construct worthless? Not a very smart intelligence, much less an infinite intellignece, to say the least. Compare the percentage of useless DNA to the amount of useless parts in any intelligently designed human product, such as an automobile. However, large segments of now-useless DNA is consistent with evolution: gradual changes over time in the codes controlling growth or form could be expected to leave bits and pieces of previous superseded versions that are no longer necessary, much as computer programs can have unused data and codes remaining after better versions have taken over. An actual ID change (such as the one set out in the bible) would be more in the nature of a complete over-write that would not leave such unuseful portions behind.

  23. Mike

    Luskin has just supported my previous comment. The only thing they truthfully care about is the assertion that evolution education promotes atheism.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/01/a_partisan_affair_part_5_misco.html#more

  24. While laughing at Luskin’s ridiculous spin, we shouldn’t forget that, even were Behe’s claims correct, they would constitute no evidence for design. It would only be a problem for evolution, not the positive evidence that even Paley (not a biochemist, but a cleric) recognized was essential for scientific conceptions of design.

    Behe failed not only to provide any sort of causal design evidence or argument, he failed to explain why clotting factors are made up of precisely the “physical precursors” that evolution predicts, and not the “conceptual precursors” that he acknowledged show up in designed objects and systems. The man appears to have no inkling of what science is about–coming up with predictive theories (at least that’s a major goal).

    Luskin apparently hopes that by shifting among the various claims made by various ID proponents that he’ll be able to wiggle out of the most egregious statements. That is to say, suppose that Miller had conflated “Panda’s” and Behe’s claims. What actual difference would that make to the primary issue involved (though clearly Miller would be chagrined had he made such a mistake)? Clearly the main issue is that there is no science of ID, hence the frequently shifting claims (if not necessarily on this issue). Plus, it was “Pandas” that school board members had wanted to push, and finally to make available to students through shady means.

    So although I understand Miller’s defense against Luskin’s typically wrong and disgusting claims, the fact is that it would have made precious little difference to the main arguments. The biggest remaining the fact that Behe and all other IDists predictably fail to provide any of the evidence of design that we’d expect in, say, an alien machine, especially evident purpose and rational principles in its design.

    Luskin’s just sprinkling a bit of powdered manure as topping to the enormous pile of manure that ID is. As far as I can tell, he simply can’t get anything right, and doesn’t have sense enough to quit.

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

  25. Shelama

    What is deliciously safe to recognize is that ALL attempts everywhere to introduce ID into the science curriculum in public education are doomed to embarrassing and humiliating failure. Because of Ken Miller, the NCSE and a large host of other concerned, informed and willing experts and citizens. And the growing number of legal precedents.

    I look forward to a time when ID will, in fact, be subject to critical study within the appropriate public school curricula, whether comparative religion, philosophy and history of science, or sociology, etc.

    What is certain is that the concerned scientific community and supporting public have their act beautifully together. I’m somewhat bemused to find myself feeling a tad sorry for Behe and Dembski, et. al., for they are relatively young and have nothing but continuing failure to look forward to in what may still be many additional years of futility, frustration and failure.

  26. Mike from Ottawa

    Luskin shows good sense in not quitting his IDC work with the Disinformation Institute. With the quality of the work he displays, I think the job is the ideal fit for his skill set.

  27. Mike from Ottawa

    “And since Casey has been to law school, either he knows this is standard practice and is deliberately trying to mislead his readers, or he is incompetent. ”

    An informal practice like judges having lawyers for the winning site draft part of the reasons is not something that would necessarily come up in law school. I know that I learned of this while articling, not in law school. Luskin does not appear to have actually engaged in any litigation, so he may have been able, at one time, to plead innocent ignorance on this matter. However, the issue came up shortly after Judge Jones’ decision and this practice was pointed out, so at this time the inescapable conclusion is that Luskin seeks to mislead when he paints Jones’ use of plaintiff drafted materials as casting any aspersions on Jones’ impartiality or understanding of the science and the law.

  28. amphiox

    Bower birds/Bowers. Hermit crabs/Shells. Beavers/Dams. Spiders/Webs. Bees/Honeycombs. Ants and Wasps/Nests. Humpback whales/bubble fishnets. Various primates/assorted crap.

    Designers of varying levels of intelligence (and they all have intelligence of some sort) and their designs are all over the place in nature. Evolution produces intelligent designers routinely. No amount of evidence for ID, even if it actually did exist, would constitute any challenge to evolutionary theory whatsoever. Evolution stands and falls on the merits of its own explanatory and predictive power, and on nothing else.

  29. MartinV

    I wonder how such a bizzare naturalist view like darwinism (aka natural selection) is still taught at schools as “science”. Almost every far-fetched invention that does not use “supranatural power” as its resource is “scientific” enough in the eyes of atheist universities establishment. Because Russell showed that Petromyzon marinus posesses Factors IX and X like humans, Behe’s argument of irreducible complexity must be wrong. Maybe such armvcair logical excercise is imaginable. But due to this fact judges came to the conclusion that darwinism – aka “natural selection” – is right.
    Such a syllogism is possible only in the neodarwinian world. Mathematics and physics where logic play crucial role do not use such logical leaps. They are science, not myths. I wonder how neodarwinism – where no general rules apply, but every case must be studied in its historicity and “evolutionary uniqueness” – is considered to be at the same level as physics or chemistry.

    The only laws proposed so far was orthogenesis By Eimer, nomogenesis by Berg or prescribed evolutionary hypothesis by John Davison. Only laws make a science, not unprovable “random mutation and natural selection”. Unless such laws exists, neodarwinism should be taught like history of literature.
    Other views should be also accepted, as is in the history of literature common.

  30. John A. Davison

    Thanks for the plug Martin.

    amphiox, whoever that is and we will probably never know.

    Darwinism has no predictive power as it is a “random walk” don’t you know. It is the only hypothesis in the history of science which presumes it is untestable.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

  31. MartinV

    You are right John. Neodarwinists in order to look more scientifically invented some mathematical formulas where they use undefined variables no one knows values of (and with these “mathematics” they count probabilities of spreading genes in populations or nowadays also “inclusive fitness”). The conesequence is total mess with regard on which level their pressuposed “natural selection” acts. According late Gould it atcs on individual level, Dawkins thinks it are genes which are selected and O.E.Wilson brushed off “group selection” two years ago. There is no agreement among these neodarwinian pundits. I don’t know how such a mess can be taught at school as “science”.
    Darwin came to the bizarre idea that evolution is equivalent to amateur pigeon breeder. Artifical selection has been transformed into “natural selection” and a new science has arisen.

  32. Alan Fox

    Hi Martin

    Pleased to see you back in the blogosphere. I guess switching over to the euro from the old koruna must have involved you in extra work at the bank over the last few weeks.

    Looking forward to more of your erudite and informative posts.

    What would be the best source of Eimers concept of “orthogenesis”?

  33. John A. Davison

    Alan Fox has a long history of following Martin and I around the internet. He has never offered a constructive comment about anything. His only purpose has always been to disrupt and prevent any disturbance to the atheist Darwinian model. He is a regular at After the Bar Closes. I recommend that he be ignored.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  34. SkasasParadigm

    What is deliciously safe to recognize is that ALL attempts everywhere to introduce ID into the science curriculum in public education are doomed to embarrassing and humiliating failure. Because of Ken Miller, the NCSE and a large host of other concerned, informed and willing experts and citizens. And the growing number of legal precedents.

    In the same aspects, the Darwinian model has been exposed for the fraud it is and is now losing ground. Thanks to people like Prf. Davison, Vmartin and others. In a word your on the titanic and it’s sinking. They thought they were invincible too.

  35. John A. Davison

    SkasasParadigm, whoever that is.

    Thanks for the anonymous support. It would be much more significant if you used your real name.

  36. MartinV

    Thank you John.
    Alan Fox is a hard-core darwinian zealot and a staunch laudator of P.Z. Myers. Neverthenless he thinks that “University Basel” is a Swiss professor and “On the origin of species” was written by “Erasmus Darwin” – check professor John Davison’s blog for more of Alan’s ideas.

    Regarding Eimer’s Orthogenesis: only one work by him has been translated into English as far as I know. Jay Gould quoted and criticised only it because he was obviously wholly dependent on translations. It is a good custom and token of Anglo-American darwinists that they do not know languages. Darwin, Gould, Dawkins – none of them could read German. Consequently important works by German anti-darwinists were never discussed and darwinists pretend they do not exist. Eimer, Driesch, Portman, Suchantke, etc, etc…

  37. John A. Davison

    Thank you Martin.

    It is true that Darwin could not read German but that is not true of Stephen Jay Gould, P.Z. Myers, Richard Dawkins, Ernst Mayr and William Provine, devout, rabid Darwinians all. They knee-jerk reject any model that isn’t firmly based on chance. Their’s is a congenital, deficiency disease for which there is no present cure. Ernst Mayr even described himself as a “dyed-in-the-wool” Darwinian.
    The Growth of Biological Thought, page 132.

    It was an English biologist, William Bateson, that read and recognized the significance of Mendel’s 1868 paper (in German) and founded the science of Modern Genetics: but Bateson later rejected Mendelism as having nothing to do with either speciation or evolution in general.
    Davison, J.A. 1993, The “Blind Alley”: Its significance for evolutionary theory. Rivista di Biologia, 86: 101-111.

    I believe that we are all victims in a determined universe exactly as Einstein remained convinced to his dying day. The only place chance plays a role is on the quantum level and I do not believe that quantum physics ever had anything to do with evolution. I also do not believe that it is intrinsic in the nature of matter to self-assemble into a living, evolving entity even once. I believe, with Robert Broom, that there was a Plan. a word he had the temerity to capitalize. I further believe the Plan has been realized with the present, terminal biota.

    “Everything is determined… by forces over which we have no control…..Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source…They are creatures who can’t hear the music of the spheres.”
    Albert Einstein

  38. Erasmus, FCD

    Oh Goody, a tard fight.

    Davison in your illicit fornication with Laplace have you ever considered that you could not argue otherwise? It must be so, for it is so, and it could not be so in any other way, for it is perfect and must be perfect and can be nothing but.

    Martin still running around saying Gould couldn’t read German, I see. I offer the suggestion that everything that VMartin says be tempered with a shot of grain alcohol followed by a jabbing a needle to the hand. It just doesn’t ever make sense otherwise.

  39. John A. Davison

    Erasmus FCD, whoever that anonymous blowhard is.

    I know you as a regular at After The Bar Closes, Panda’s Thumb “inner sanctum.” Martin’s cardinal sin is that he happens to be one of my supporters. We have both been banished from the proceedings at Pharyngula and Panda’s Thumb and God (or Gods) only knows how many other bastions of Darwinian mysticism.

    Is Carl willing to let the Loom turn into a flame pit? We will soon see.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  40. MartinV

    I see. Alan Fox invited some of his cronies from neodarwinian alcoholic AtBC forum. As far as I can recall “Erasmus FCD” is a man who – or his colleague – is unable to tell apart spiders and ants. He thinks that spiders mimic ants in order to survive their “struggle for life” and “natural selection”. You wouldn’t believe what nonsense those selectionists at AtBC claims unless you read their naive forum. I have sent them pictures of ants and spiders to learn them how to tell these species apart. If you want links I can sent them.

  41. MartinV

    Here you are. Erasmus FCD, the link:
    http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?s=4967da85847ce942;act=ST;f=14;t=5203;st=90

    Erasmus thinks that ants using their antenae could be mislead like him using his human eyes. But no wonder. Selectiosts think that ants percieve the reality the same way as an armchair neodarwinist looking at collection of dried insects drinking whiskey. Franz Heikertinger had a great fun discussing selections concept of “mimicry” in his voluminous work refuting “natural selection” as the source of so-called “mimicry”.

  42. John A. Davison

    Many of the so called instances of “mimicry” probably represent nothing more than a shared common reservoir of “prescribed” morphogenetic “blueprints: in other words not mimicry at all, just accidental coincidences which may have little or no adaptive value. Others like the similarity between many animals and the plants with which they are associated may also represent a shared developmental reservoir which may have real adaptive significance.

    It is naive to assume that everything one sees must have an adaptive value. Yet that is the way the Darwinian mind invariably operates. They can’t help it because they are congenitally unable to imagine a purpose in the origin and evolution of life. Like nearly all pure white cats they are stone deaf to what Einstein called “the music of the spheres,” a music some of us can hear loud and clear.

    Once again I quote Bertrand Russell -

    “It is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no grounds whatsoever for believing it to be true.”

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  43. John A. Davison

    Now that Carl Zimmer has properly introduced Ken Miller into the “blogosphere,” perhaps Ken or Carl will respond to the “heresies” presented by some of us skeptics of the Darwinian model. Or will they, by remaining silent, continue with the assumption that there have never been any valid objections to the Darwinian scheme?

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  44. roy

    I am new to the Loom but already feel right at home. You people are doing great work (from a layperson).

  45. roy

    Davidson – a reply to you would only be necessary if YOU posited a valid objection to Darwinism. I see nothing in your posts that merits response. It seems your arguments are of the “…you ignore the possiblity of…” species, which has a fatal rhetorical weakness. A Darwinian need only defend herself if a credible, specific impeachment is leveled against her theory.

    If there is the possiblity of an alternative explanation proceeding on a contradictory path from a shared beginning point with Darwinian theory, you are obliged to pursue it to a credible alternative theory before you attack someone else, and I don’t see the ID people putting in any work.

  46. Alan Fox

    Michael Behe comments on Ken Miller’s posts, and promises more, later.

  47. Brian Metscher

    Following Mike’s comment (January 4th, 2009 at 1:29 pm – “Here’s another part of the strategy:…”):
    You have really hit on something I’ve been seeing too. Another component of the continuing strategy is a new successor to Pandas and People from the DI, a book called Explore Evolution (http://www.exploreevolution.com/). It is a scrapbook of all the old creationist heirlooms printed on glossy paper with all the creationist flag words removed. It is probably already being handed out in states like Louisiana that have passed some kind of “Academic Freedom” or “strengths and weaknesses” legislation. This one is designed to fly under the Establishment Clause radar, and fits exactly the strategy you described. (I just reviewed that book for the journal Evolution & Development.)

    And you’re right that we need to make clear to educators and education authorities that evolution is just science – teaching what scientists know about it is in no way teaching atheist materialism.

  48. roy

    I also am personally disturbed how this ID brouhaha is diminishing America’ s standing in the world. I am worried that other countries who have reality-based polities will see America as less strong or less powerful, because the ID garbage is allowed to pollute our science curricula.

    This stuff should be moved to current events or religion classes, in order to protect America’s science reputation.

  49. Patrick

    I have a serious question. Can someone please describe how you can believe in evolution and still believe in God? Are you reading the bible in a literal or metaphorical sense?

  50. Wayne Robinson

    So Darwin is now being attacked because “he couldn’t read German” (Martin V and John Davidson). So what? And anyway, he could. He took a German translation of the Bible with him on the Beagle to keep up his proficiency in German. If you are going to argue irrelevant facts, then you should at least make certain that they are true.

  51. Antaeus Feldspar

    How embarrassing. I was almost about to reply to “MartinV” and then read further and realized that he’s just a sockpuppet of Davison.

  52. Jack

    Patrick:
    “I have a serious question. Can someone please describe how you can believe in evolution and still believe in God? Are you reading the bible in a literal or metaphorical sense?”

    I suggest Dr. Miller’s classic on that very subject: “Finding Darwin’s God”.

    ISBN-13: 978-0060930493

    http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Darwins-God-Scientists-Evolution/dp/0060930497

  53. Greg

    Thanks for the laughs, boys! Whenever I become over-awed by the beauty and complexity of the natural world, it’s great to relax with a few giggles over the mind-boggling stupidity of creationists. Frankly, this round is a little short on the spittle-flecked delirium that has kept me smirking in the past, but there’s some good material in there – it just needs polishing up!

    Ok, I’m good for a couple of months now. [Goes back to work.]

  54. Hugh Troy

    “It is naive to assume that everything one sees must have an adaptive value. Yet that is the way the Darwinian mind invariably operates. They can’t help it because they are congenitally unable to imagine a purpose in the origin and evolution of life.”

    It is naive to assume that some imaginary sky fairy, or fairies, created the universe as a one off effort, before retiring and that evolution ended after humanity appeared. But creationist cranks can’t help it because they don’t live in the real world where research and evidence are needed to back up their outlandish claims.

  55. Jose

    Amazing Dr Miller!!!

  56. Jack Wilson

    I predict sometime in the distant future someone will come across a functioning personal computer from our era and determine that the graphics and video they see evolved on their own through random mutation.

  57. kyazu

    Indeed, the graphics and video evolved based on their ability to appeal to the indigenous human population, mutating in an essentially random(for the computer) way guided through natural selection-where man is defined as part of nature.

    You can, however, say that magic man done it and poofed the computer into existence as it was at that point in time

  58. Thanks for sharing canım arkadaşım..

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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.

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