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He said it: John Templeton on meaning and purpose

Would it not be strange if a universe without purpose accidentally created humans who are so obsessed with purpose? – Sir John Templeton, The Humble Approach: Scientists Discover God (Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation, 1998) Some of wouldn’t recognize that Templeton Foundation today. Curious to know what has changed.

Speciation Reduced To Little More Than A ‘Gut Feeling’

Buried in the most recent scientific literature there is a story of love, sex, and intrigue that has all the makings of a hearty Mills & Boon novel.  The central characters of this plot are not lovers wrapped in each others arms but fruit flies that choose their sexual partners according to the microbiota that line their guts (1,2).  Lactobacillus plantarum is the ‘cupid gut bug’ that seems to have greatest influence on sexual preferences (1,2)  And it appears to do so by influencing the release of a class of Drosophila pherormones known as cuticular hydrocarbons (1,2).  For evolutionists this finding is cited as one possible avenue through which speciation might take place in Drosophila (1,2).  For those of us who are critical of such work however there exists one small but important catch.  That is that the sexual preferences observed are easily eradicated by simply treating fruit flies that had been raised on different diets, with antibiotics (1,2).  In other words no genetic changes that would ensure irreversible reproductive isolation, and hence speciation, have taken place.   Read More ›


Well, it seems that the silly season is upon us. A study conducted earlier this month by the University College of London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (directed by Professor Geraint Rees) reveals a startling correlation between between people’s political beliefs and the size of two specific regions of their brains: the amygdala and the anterior cingulate cortex. Among those who describe themselves as liberal, or left wing, the gray matter of the anterior cingulate cortex is significantly thicker; whereas for those who regard themselves as conservative, or right wing, the amygdala is relatively larger. The study has been widely reported in the press, but has yet to be published. Believe it or not, the study was commissioned by a British actor and comedian, Colin Firth, who wanted to know if it was possible to identify people’s political belief from the structure of their brains. For example, could scientists predict whether a person was left or right wing, just by looking at their brains?

The general standard of reporting in the media on Professor Rees’s study has been so poor that I thought readers would benefit from a more critical analysis. Read More ›

New Peer-Reviewed Paper Challenges Darwinian Evolution

Over recent months, papers challenging key elements of Darwinian theory — the kind of papers which are supposed not to exist — have increasingly been slipping through the net and finding their way into the peer-reviewed literature. One such paper, “Is gene duplication a viable explanation for the origination of biological information and complexity?,” authored by Joseph Esfandier Hannon Bozorgmeh and published online last week in the journal, Complexity, challenges the standard gene duplication/divergence model regarding the origin of evolutionary novelty. Read More>>>

Peeking through the Forrest to look at the trees …

Christian Darwinists are fond of reassuring us all that Christianity and Darwinism are a natural fit. They don’t seem to have taught the chant to everyone yet. Old Earth creationist Stephen E. Jones has noted, Barbara Forrest, has explored what she believes are the religious implications of neo-Darwinism and astronomy in her article, “The Possibility of Meaning in Human Evolution,” Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science 35.4 (Dec 2000), 861-889. She writes (p. 862, notes omitted): We have established scientifically some disquieting facts: (1) human beings have evolved from nonhuman life forms, meaning that (2) at one time we did not exist, and that (3) according to paleontological and astronomical evidence, at some time in the future we shall cease Read More ›

ID – Predicton or accommodation?

Alister McGrath makes some interesting comments on the need for prediction in science, noting that a natural theology may be possible on the basis of accommodation within an ‘inference to the best explanation.’  He writes; ‘…some theories concern entities or situations in which predictions may seem inappropriate or simply impossible. If natural theology rests primarily upon accommodation [and not prediction], it is in good scientific company.’ McGrath, (2009) A Fine Tuned Universe, Louisville: Westminster John Knox, p.60 McGrath is still a keen Darwinist and not really a friend of ID, but it does imply that ID can be justified on the basis of accommodation and need not necessarily seek justification on the basis of explanatory power.

A better kind of beauty, or: Why some people mistakenly reject Intelligent Design as unaesthetic

This post is intended as a follow-up on the post, Children of a better god? by idnet.com.au.

I would like to suggest that the real reason why some people (including many Christians) dislike Intelligent Design is an aesthetic one. Their notion of beauty is overly influenced by mathematics: they define beauty as a delicate and interesting balance between variety (or plenitude) and simplicity (or economy). This kind of thinking goes back to Leibniz and beyond. Both qualities are needed: a very simple world containing just one object would be simple but intolerably boring, while a world lacking simple laws would appear messy and mathematically inelegant. It follows that according to this account of beauty, a beautiful world should contain many different kinds of things, governed by just a few underlying laws or principles. The variety of elements in the periodic table is a good example: it is aesthetically pleasing, because they can all be explained in terms of just a few underlying principles: the laws of physics and chemistry, whose underlying mathematical simplicity is evident in their regularity, symmetry and order. Many people would like to think that living things possess the same kind of beauty: an ideal balance between variety and underlying simplicity. Because the underlying laws are mathematically simple in this model of beauty, these people reason that the act of generating things that possess the attribute of beauty should be a simple one. Neo-Darwinism appeals to them as a scientific theory, because it purports to account for the variety of living things we see today, on the basis of a few simple underlying principles (natural selection acting on variation arising stochastically, without any foresight of long-term goals).

But living things aren’t like the periodic table. The phenomenon that characterizes them is not order but complexity – and complexity of a particular kind, at that. The beauty you see in a living cell is more like the beauty of a story than the beauty of crystals, which are highly ordered but still not very interesting, even when you contemplate them in all their variety. Read More ›

Has the growth in interest in design helped to chase blatant philosophical materialism out of textbooks?

Wanted: Examples from recent textbooks that match these examples from the 1990s through 2001?:

From Joseph S. Levine and Kenneth R. Miller, Biology: Discovering Life (D.C. Heath and Co., 1st ed. 1992, p. 152:

Darwin knew that accepting his theory required believing in philosophical materialism, the conviction that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its by-products. Darwinian evolution was not only purposeless but also heartless–a process in which the rigors of nature ruthlessly eliminate the unfit.Suddenly, humanity was reduced to just one more species in a world that cared nothing for us. The great human mind was no more than a mass of evolving neurons. Worst of all, there was no divine plan to guide us.

(My source tells me that this language was not removed for the 2nd ed. in 1994.)

From Douglas Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology (1998, 3rd Ed., Sinauer Associates), p. 5:

Darwin showed that material causes are a sufficient explanation not only for physical phenomena, as Descartes and Newton had shown, but also for biological phenomena with all their seeming evidence of design and purpose. By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous. Together with Marx’s materialistic theory of history and society and Freud’s attribution of human behavior to influences over which we have little control, Darwin’s theory of evolution was a crucial plank in the platform of mechanism and materialism…

Read More ›

Hello World! – An Introductory Post

Greetings all. Since I’m going to be contributing some posts here at Uncommon Descent, it’s been suggested I explain to everyone just where I’m coming from intellectually and in the context of the Intelligent Design discussion. Before I do that, I just want to express my thanks to the powers that be on this site for allowing me this opportunity – with luck it may lead to some interesting conversations on a topic I’ve enjoyed following over the years.

So if you’re at all curious of where I stand on the questions of ID, evolution, and so on… Well, just read on.

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Do you have to be an American liberal to believe in extraterrestrials?

Yes, folks, I thought this was Hoax News at work too. But Michael Medved reports, These clashing opinions on extraterrestrials amount to more than a trivial split on an arcane topic; they connect, in fact, both logically and emotionally to big conflicts over worldview, culture, politics and America’s role in history.In Colorado, these conflicts erupted in a recent battle over a proposed Denver commission to investigate visitations from alien life forms. Initiative 300 won enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in November 2010 but lost in a landslide, with conservatives leading the derision of the “ET Initiative,” as a loony waste of taxpayer money. The chief support for “greater transparency” regarding sightings and encounters came from the city’s Bohemian Read More ›

First cup of coffee!! At last – a man for Misshelver!

A friend has unearthed another Darwin troll “reshelving” books: Reshelving antievolution books in the name of science Every time I go into the Hastings bookstore here in Butte, Montana, I get annoyed to see antievolution books in the science section, especially since these books are not scientific in their antievolutionism, but motivated by the intelligent design movement or other religious factors. So, I usually remove the books from the science section and reshelve them in the religion section. Usually I find the books eventually returned to the science section, and wonder if the bookstore employee returning them ever thinks, “Why do these particular books keep ending up in the religion section?” So, I keep moving them. Today I went to Read More ›

James Bradley disses Dembski’s The Design Inference — 12 years after its publication!

It looks as though the folks at BioLogos are targeting all the main works of design theorists, and the flavor of the month this time is William Dembski’s The Design Inference. Retired Calvin College mathematics professor James Bradley has been called in to do the demolition. His “scholarly” take-down of Dembski’s book is here: http://biologos.org/uploads/projects/bradley_scholarly_essay.pdf The first of two blog posts by him against Dembski’s book is here: http://biologos.org/blog/why-dembskis-design-inference-doesnt-work All of this seems quite hamfisted. Why review a book 12 years AFTER its publication? Why focus only on the book and ignore all that Dembski has subsequently written on design inferences (e.g., in his books NO FREE LUNCH, THE DESIGN REVOLUTION, and THE DESIGN OF LIFE, all of which extend and clarify his Read More ›

Children of a better god?

 I have been listening to a few lectures by Christians who are convinced that the standard models of evolution explain all of biology including life’s origin. They say that evolution also explains all of cosmology. For them, this gives them, the evolutionary creationists, “a better god” than any model that requires a lesser form of “interventionist god”.  To quote loosely from a conversation between two of these good willed gentlemen.  “If we think of the cosmos as a game of billiards. The ID proponents have their god taking in turns and using the cue. Chance and nature are given a turn, then god comes in and sinks a ball. Finally after a long game, the eight ball is sunk, and we have Read More ›

Coffee!! But the fake past was so much more FUN!!

In Science , we read: Altering the Past: China’s Faked Fossils Problem Richard Stone Specialists and collectors around the world have long decried the flood of sham fossils pouring out of China. But Science has learned that many composites and fakes are now finding their way into Chinese museums, especially local museums. One paleontologist estimates that more than 80% of marine reptile specimens now on display in Chinese museums have been “altered or artificially combined to varying degrees.” One consequence of the fakery is an erosion of trust in museums, which are supposed to enlighten—not con—the public. Scholars, too, pay a price: They waste time sifting authentic specimens from counterfeit chaff. And a genuine blockbuster fossil can be destroyed by Read More ›

Professor: God Would Not Create the Giraffe’s Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve

One thing evolutionists agree on is that their theory is also a scientific fact. It is a curious point of consensus given that, of all the many, many evolutionary claims, it is the one that is most obviously and undeniably false. It is not that evolutionists fail to prove their theory to be a fact. They most definitely have done so, many times over. But their proofs are not scientific.  Read more