Why no one can confute Darwinism and, consequently, no one should believe it

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In “Carl Zimmer Doubles Down on Chromosome Two Lies and Misdemeanors,” Cornelius Hunter talks about “shifting the burden of proof,” noting,

Ever since Darwin called for skeptics to prove his speculative ideas wrong this strategy of shifting the burden of proof has been a favorite of evolutionists. Darwin wrote:

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case.

Christian Darwinists sometimes cite this passage as evidence that Darwinism could be confuted and therefore is believed because of evidence. As Hunter puts it,

But this was hardly a concession. Darwin may sound generous here, allowing that his theory would “absolutely break down,” but his requirement for such a failure is no less than impossible. For no one can show that an organ “could not possibly” have been formed in such a way. So in short order Darwin reduced what seemed to be a dilemma for his theory into a logical truism. Evolution was protected from criticism and all that was needed to explain complexity was a clever thought experiment. Darwin so lowered the requirements that anyone with a pen and a vivid imagination can now claim to have solved the problem of complexity.

Zimmer used this same strategy this week when he demanded that skeptics of the chromosome two argument show why the evolutionary fusion hypothesis is not possible:

We’ve formally invited science writer Carl Zimmer to write a guest post here at Uncommon Descent because the Facebook thingy is much less suited to a debate than a community blog is. So far, he thinks not, but we have left the door open.

Darwinian atheist Steve Gould (who claimed to have some disagreements but capitulated in the end, as they usually do, to protect materialist atheism) used to denounce the idea of using courtroom standards when assessing Darwinism’s claims. It is easy to see why.

Consider Darwin’s “could not possibly”challenge. No sane person actually uses such a standard. It is possible to make up a scenario by which anyone could have done anything or by which anything could have just happened by chance. But sane people use “balance of probabilities” (civil courts) or “beyond reasonable doubt” (criminal courts).

Note that in the more exacting criminal court standard, “beyond reasonable doubt,” the emphasis is on the word “reasonable.” The standard does not say “beyond any possible doubt, raised by anyone, on any account.”

So, reassessing:

Zimmer used this same strategy this week when he demanded that skeptics of the chromosome two argument show why the evolutionary fusion hypothesis is not possible:

Of course it is possible. Just as it is possible that a murder was in reality committed by a space alien who assumed the form of the suspect arrested at the scene of the crime, soaked in blood, knife in hand. And that guilty alien got clean away, leaving the innocent human suspect in the dock …

Can we say, using Darwin’s formula, that it “could not possibly” be true? Not really. If we doubt that there are any space aliens out there, we will not seriously entertain them as an explanation.

But that is just one belief following from another. We do not know for sure that there are no space aliens out there. That is why we do not use the “could not possibly” standard. We default to “beyond reasonable doubt.”

Is it reasonable to doubt that the suspect arrested at the scene of the crime is guilty? Maybe, depending on other time-tested rules of evidence (that can be admitted at trial). But now we are entertaining only reasonable doubt, not all doubt whatever, for any cause.

In the same vein, the question is not – properly – whether the chromosome 2 fusion hypothesis is not possible, but whether it is reasonable based on the evidence. There may be two opinions about that.

Mike’s open, Carl.

4 Replies to “Why no one can confute Darwinism and, consequently, no one should believe it

  1. 1
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Why not just answer the man’s question? It appears that the ID guys made an assertion, but when asked a simple question about the evidence for it, can provide none, and so instead are trying to cover this up in a flurry of grandstanding and challenges to debate i.e. “we want you to write for our blogs for free”.

  2. 2
    Upright BiPed says:

    I know how you feel Nick. I asked you if it was even possible to transfer the recorded information in the genome without the use of physical representations and physical protocols, and if such a dual requirement (based upon both logic and observation) exemplified an Irreducibly Complex system. I am still awaitng your simple answer. Either it does, or it doesn’t.

  3. 3
    Maus says:

    “Why not just answer the man’s question?”

    Nick, perhaps you missed this part: “Of course it is possible.” A rather impressive grandstanding about the grandstanding of others on your part nonetheless.

    So here’s a question for you: Is logical possibility or a lack of ‘reasonable doubt’, confirmation bias, sufficient to claim that the abductive reasonings of any theory are a True Fact?

    Because if they aren’t then this is a case of ‘shut up and calculate’. Let Zimmer, UD, and the rest wear any philosophical dogma on their sleeves that they wish.

  4. 4
    Robert Byers says:

    Darwin and the boys did shift the burden of evidence.
    Right back at them.
    Why must one prove a “theory” is wrong by showing how a conclusion of the theory could not happen when the whole point of a “theory’ or a scientific one is that its susposed to have demonstrate by the evidence how things did work or come about.
    Darwin really did use just lines of reasoning to prove his conclusions.
    He really did just say if pigeons under artificial selection can have different shapes of bodies then why not all birds in nature under natural selection likewise owe their origin.
    Then why not birds from bugs to and onto buffalos.?
    Wht not?
    Well thats just he point here!
    Its a line of reasoning and nothing more even if true.
    If it wasn’t true the line of reasoning would still work the same.
    Biological theories must be based on biological investigation and not a hunch.

    Evolutionists always try to teach me that macro evolution is true because micro evolution is true.
    I don’t know if micro is true as artificial pigeons revert back if not controlled. It seems there needs a wee bit more help.

    Truly a logical error of evolutionists was persuading themselves micro equals macro is reasonable and counts as evidence for the biological results.

    they just wanted evolution to be true I think!

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