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When will evolution be “well understood” by the unwashed masses?

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Judgment Day, a Nova documentary on the Dover case, will be aired next month. In a report about this documentary, one reads the following:

“Judgment Day captures on film a landmark court case with a powerful scientific message at its core,” said Paula S. Apsell, NOVA Senior Executive Producer. “Evolution is one of the most essential and least understood of all scientific theories, the foundation of biological science. We felt it was important for NOVA to do this program to heighten the public understanding of what constitutes science and what does not, and therefore, what is acceptable for inclusion in the science curriculum in our public schools.”

The phrase that jumps out here is “least understood of all scientific theories.” Reality check: the basics of evolutionary theory are not hard to fathom — evolution is not rocket science (presumably Paula Apsell thinks she understands them). Moreover, tax payers have been paying megabucks to have their children indoctrinated in this theory. So perhaps the problem is not that evolutionary theory is poorly understood but that it is sufficiently well understood and disbelieved.

[...] A critique of the above is found here. [...] Dogbert on Evolution. « l3rucewayne’s blog
gpuccio: Admittedly, much of Dembski's math is over my head. Being an excellent writer, however, he provides enough real-world examples and analogies that I believe I get the gist of 90% of his arguments for design detection. Enough, at least, to be able to appreciate them. "Elegance" in science, and much else, consists of boiling down the complex into its simplest essence. E=MC2 is simple enough algebra, even for me, although its proofs are complex. Design detection has been in use since before humans first tracked Pleistocene buffalo across the wind-swept plains. Humans use it today in everything from literary criticism, to forensics, to "who ate the last of the ice cream?" (I knew that kid had "designs" on it! Heh.) Dembski's contribution has been to make design detection scientifically rigorous. ("How do you know, Granpa, that the cat didn't eat it?" "Because, young lady, the cat can't open the refrigerator!") In my book, however complex its mathematical and statistical proofs, the theory that a design requires a designer is not only simple, it's self-evident. Plenty simple enough for a man on the street, like me, to understand. In fact, it's proving simple enough, compared to NDE, to cause panic among the orthodox; so simple that a NOVA producer feels like she has to posture herself, that, “Evolution is one of the most essential and least understood of all scientific theories," even though her ilk has owned the educational establishment for more than a century. jstanley01
jstanley01: Yes, but ID is all about demonstrating: a) That design can be detected and how b) That it can be detected in biological beings Most og the conceptual foundations of that detection are due to Dembski: they are brilliant and rigorous, but not necessarily easy. They require some comprehension of mathematics and statistics, and of their meaning, and a correct philosophical approach to science and the sciemtific method. That's why I said that ID theory is fairly complex. Obviously, some other approaches of ID, like Behe's IC, or the analysis of fossils, are simpler, but never trivial. gpuccio
gpuccio I'd argue with your premise that "...darwinian evolution theory is simple ... and ID theory is fairly complex..." ID theory can be posited as simply and elegantly -- not to mention as intuitively -- as the Law of Cause and Effect upon which it is based: A design requires a designer. jstanley01
mattghg, as promised... These are, admittedly, from an evangelist's web-page about evolution, but every quote is cited, usually from a book written by the evolutionist himself, so I have little reason to believe that the following are not authentic: Mae-Wan Ho and Peter Saunders: Much of the problem is that neo-Darwinism appears completely invincible to falsification by observations or by experiments, so much so that many doubt if it is a scientific theory at all. Partly, the stochastic nature of evolutionary changes must demand that there should be an unique explanation for each event, so that any difficulty raised by observations could be explained or explained away with ease, and partly, the practitioners of neo-Darwinism exhibit a great power of assimilation, incorporating any opposing viewpoint as yet another “mechanism” in the grand “synthesis”. But a real synthesis should begin by identifying conflicting elements in the theory, rather than in accommodating contradictions as quickly as they arise. “Beyond neo- Darwinism - An Epigenetic Approach to Evolution” Journal of Theoretical Biology Vol. 78, 1979 p.574 "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going." Life Itself (1981) p.88 - Francis Crick "The account of the origin of life that I shall give is necessarily speculative; by definition, nobody was around to see what happened. The Selfish Gene (1989) p.14 "- Richard Dawkins "I should have been talking about the combined probability of life's originating on a planet and leading, eventually, to the evolution of intelligent beings capable of anthropic reflection. It could be that the chemical origin of a self-replicating molecule (the necessary trigger for the origin of natural selection) was a relatively probable event but later steps in the evolution of intelligent life were highly improbable." Intelligent Thought (2006) p. 95-6 - Richard Dawkins "I can understand such an attitude directed toward photographs of objects -- through opportunities for subtle manipulation are legion even here. But many of our pictures are incarnations of concepts masquerading as neutral descriptions of nature. These are the most potent sources of conformity, since ideas passing as descriptions lead us to equate the tentative with the unambiguously factual. Suggestions for the organization of thought are transformed to established patterns in nature. Guesses and hunches become things." Wonderful Life (1991) p.28 - Stephen Jay Gould "Today, our duty is to destroy the myth of evolution, considered as a simple, understood, and explained phenomenon which keeps rapidly unfolding before us. Biologists must be encouraged to think about the weaknesses of the interpretations and extrapolations that theoreticians put forward or lay down as established truths. The deceit is sometimes unconscious, but not always, since some people, owing to their sectarianism, purposely overlook reality and refuse to acknowledge the inadequacies and the falsity of their beliefs." Evolution of Living Organisms (1977) p.8 - Pierre Grasse "It follows that any explanation of the mechanism in creative evolution of the fundamental structural plans is heavily burdened with hypotheses. This should appear as an epigraph to every book on evolution. The lack of direct evidence leads to the formation of pure conjectures as to the genesis of the phyla; we do not even have a basis to determine the extent to which these opinions are correct." Evolution of Living Organisms (1977) p.31 - Pierre Grass "If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just about where these levels are actually found to be... A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question. To press the matter further, if there were a basic principle of matter which somehow drove organic systems toward life, its existence should easily be demonstrable in the laboratory. One could, for instance, take a swimming bath to represent the primordial soup. Fill it with any chemicals of a non- biological nature you please. Pump any gases over it, or through it, you please, and shine any kind of radiation on it that takes your fancy. Let the experiment proceed for a year and see how many of those 2,000 enzymes have appeared in the bath. I will give the answer, and so save the time and trouble and expense of actually doing the experiment. You would find nothing at all, except possibly for a tarry sludge composed of amino acids and other simple organic chemicals. How can I be so confident of this statement? Well, if it were otherwise, the experiment would long since have been done and would be well known and famous throughout the world. The cost of it would be trivial compared to the cost of landing a man on the Moon... In short there is not a shred of objective evidence to support the hypothesis that life began in an organic soup here on Earth." The Intelligent Universe (1983) pp.20-21, 23 - Fred Hoyle "At all events, anyone with even a nodding acquaintance with the Rubik cube will concede the near-impossibility of a solution being obtained by a blind person moving the cube faces at random. Now imagine 1050 blind persons each with a scrambled Rubik cube, and try to conceive of the chance of them all simultaneously arriving at the solved form. You then have the chance of arriving by random shuffling of just one of the many biopolymers on which life depends. The notion that not only the biopolymers but the operating programme of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order." "The Big Bang in Astronomy" New Scientist November 19, 1981 pp.521-527 - Fred Hoyle "Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection in particular is hopelessly metaphysical, according to the rules of etiquette laid down in the Logic of Scientific Inquiry and widely believed in by practicing scientists who bother to think about the problem. The first rule for any scientific hypothesis ought to be that it is at least possible to conceive of an observation that would contradict the theory. For what good is a theory that is guaranteed by its internal logical structure to agree with all conceivable observations, irrespective of the real structure of the world? If scientists are going to use logically unbeatable theories about the world, they might as well give up natural science and take up religion. Yet is that not exactly the situation with regard to Darwinism? The theory of evolution by natural selection states that changes in the inherited characters of species occur, giving rise to differentiation in space and time, because different genetical types leave different numbers of offspring in different environments... Such a theory can never be falsified, for it asserts that some environmental difference created the conditions for natural selection of a new character. It is existentially quantified so that the failure to find the environmental factor proves nothing, except that one has not looked hard enough. Can one really imagine observations about nature that would disprove natural selection as a cause of the difference in bill size? The theory of natural selection is then revealed as metaphysical rather than scientific. Natural selection explains nothing because it explains everything." “Testing the Theory of Natural Selection” Nature March 24, 1972 p.181 - Richard Lewontin "As to assertions without adequate evidence, the literature of science is filled with them, especially the literature of popular science writing. Carl Sagan's list of the "best contemporary science-popularizers" includes E.O. Wilson, Lewis Thomas, and Richard Dawkins, each of whom has put unsubstantiated assertions or counterfactual claims at the very center of the stories they have retailed in the market." "Billions and Billions of Demons" - Richard Lewontin "I think that we should recognize, both historically and perhaps philosophically, certainly that the science side has certain metaphysical assumptions built into doing science, which -- it may not be a good thing to admit in a court of law -- but I think that in honesty that we should recognize, and that we should be thinking about some of these sorts of things." Speech at 'The New Antievolutionism' symposium February 13,1993 - Michael Ruse "It's certainly been the case that evolution has functioned, if not as a religion as such, certainly with elements akin to a secular religion. Those of us who teach philosophy of religion always say there's no way of defining religion by a neat, necessary and sufficient condition. The best that you can do is list a number of characteristics, some of which all religions have, and none of which any religion, whatever or however you sort of put it. And certainly, there's no doubt about it, that in the past, and I think also in the present, for many evolutionists, evolution has functioned as something with elements which are, let us say, akin to being a secular religion." Speech at 'The New Antievolutionism' symposium February 13,1993 - Michael Ruse There's much more where that came from, but I'm getting a little tired of copying and pasting... Some of those quotes are decades old, and may have (though I haven't read the references) been taken out of context, but my aim was to debunk the idea that there isn't a single respectable scientist that questions, or does not follow, evolutionary theory's "objective" and "scientific" conclusions from hard "evidence." Do we see that happening here? How do people miss this? Berceuse
ex-xian- emotions and philosophies that meet our desires can completely blind one ability to true rationality. there is no such thing as an ex-xian. just read Isa. 53 and open the door "again" with your mind and your heart. alan
Ohh, forgot to add, I'm aware the live example link @ ScienceDaily of the MicroCrystal display is considered a hybrid compound of Aluminum Carboxylate. Michaels7
guys, while you're not pounding away as "Ex-ian" if anyone is interested, this relates to what I consider guided evolution or ID-Evo. I've been doing a little research on Dr. Pellionisz's work and came across some other ComSci work for fractal gene evolutionary programming. I thought some might enjoy it, if not already familiar with the concepts. The papers title: Evolving Fractal Gene Regulatory Networks for Robot Control, by Peter J. Bentley, Dept CS, University College London. Maybe some of you have seen this approach already. The link: http://www-misa.cs.ucl.ac.uk/staff/P.Bentley/BEC13.pdf Some excerpts...
"As we know in evolutionary computation, using a fixed binary string as a genotype, prohibits complexity growth. But variable-length representations such as genetic programming do not guarantee an increase in complexity either (unless you count introns as complexity). Even if a seemingly ideal representation is found, often it is not evolvable, or it only achieves its complexity increases through the careful highlevel structures (e.g. modularity) imposed on it by the developer. This work takes a different approach. A developmental process maps variablelength genotypes to phenotypes, through the use of fractal proteins. Genes are expressed into complex fractal shapes (subsets of the Mandelbrot Set) that interact according to their forms. The resulting network of gene interactions can be designed by evolution to produce specific gene activation patterns, that in turn can be used to solve problems. In this paper the use of fractal gene regulatory networks for learning a robot path through a series of obstacles is described."
please bear with me, and...
Translating these ideas into computer science is not a simple prospect. As we know in evolutionary computation, using a fixed binary string as a genotype, prohibits complexity growth. But variable-length representations such as genetic programming do not guarantee an increase in complexity either (unless you count introns as complexity). Even if a seemingly ideal representation is found, often it is not evolvable, or it only achieves its complexity increases through the careful highlevel structures (e.g. modularity) imposed on it by the developer. This work takes a different approach. A developmental process maps variablelength genotypes to phenotypes, through the use of fractal proteins. Genes are expressed into complex fractal shapes (subsets of the Mandelbrot Set) that interact according to their forms."
Please note, the paper is evolutionist in presentation. But a) it points out current limits of EC programs, b) the actual Design within and external to programmed gene expressions. While the current use is robotic, the application itself is useful with Fractal Genes and guided evolution of interactive processes that form patterns which, I do think is on the right track. If you have read this far, thanks. Next, compare the programs fractal output in the paper with actual results available today by new XRay microdiffraction equipment that is 1000 times more powerful. Here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071004092126.htm While the CompSci paper is not all the answers, nor does it espouse design by the author, it certainly does in my opinion as a reader. Some of the background for the paper list these subjects...
Other scientists in the field have been focussing on the ability of developmental methods to enable self-repairing behaviour and graceful degradation of solutions. For example, the work of Andy Tyrrell and his group create fault-tolerant hardware inspired by ideas of embryology and immune systems.
This may be old news. But I liked how they attacked the problem with modularity(which is exactly what I'd hope Design markers show), and by mapping variable length genotypes to phenotypes in a development process utilizing fractal genes. Expressing them as subsets of MandelBrot Set. Cool! So, Bentley, in describing problems with EC... "Instead of using a gene for a parameter value as we do in standard EC (i.e., a gene for long legs), natural development uses genes to define proteins." Now, this is cognizant recognition of complex issues with specific solutions, that include If then Conditional Processing logic. I can't believe I'm looking at conditional logic, lol ;-) which accounts for simple processes. Yet, those conditions are supposed to be naturaly evolved, Heh! And the resultant checking software conditions. Sure, all remembered, duplicated and error free. So, it is very similar to any cascading conditional process that we may code for multiple variable inputs, translations or unexpected results. Well, it is still evolution ;-) Just guided, mimicing design. I'm not able to keep up with all the latest, but am I way off base here in recognizing this can be utilized as a front-loaded mechanism for reactionary events and environments? Logic, software, patterns. Whodda Thunkit. Curious what others think if you take time to look at it. Michaels7
Hey, I did a crossout on the understanding preceeding [neo-Darwinan]. It showed up in the preview, but not in the post. The line needs to read: I would say rather that random mutation and natural selection is all there is to [the theory of neo-Darwinian] evolution. bFast
What's strange is that the "preview" had it exactly correct: it had 10 with the 20 raised above it. When I posted, it got lost. PaV
ex-xian, "Saying that random mutation and natural selection is all there is to understand evolution..." I would say rather that random mutation and natural selection is all there is to understanding [neo-Darwinian] evolution. Understanding the theory is one thing, but the only thing in the theory is random variation and natural selection. That's it, beginning to end. Please feel free to show me my error. bFast
Thanks Atom. Yeah, I used HTML tags for the power term. I guess they don't work here. Yes, it's 10^20; not 1020 PaV
ex-xian, I suggest you enlighten us about what we do not know about the evolution controversy. Please no vague claims, just specifics we do not consider so we can discuss them. jerry
ex-xian: Like your handle my handle says exactly where I stand...I make no apologies for my poem or for the few instances where I allude to Almighty God in my post. Yet proving who the designer is SCIENTIFICALLY is another thing altogether. For instance, although the evidence that is already established is clearly enough to warrant an inference to design, whether you believe it or not, there still is not enough evidence, or more likely I still have not gathered enough evidence, to solidly challenge the radical front-loading scenario that DaveScot and many others hold. As for you, I don't know how much evidence you have been directly exposed to, but if it is as much as I think it is, then I'm fairly certain that no answer other than a materialistic one will ever satisfy you. I've been debating evolutionists for many years now and I find many will not believe no matter what evidence was presented to them! I hope you don't fall in that category, but these many years of debating have made me cynical! bornagain77
*edit: change over time... Atom
ex-xian, depends on what you mean by the forever nebulous "evolution." If you mean simply "cahnge over time", then you're correct, we would need to include built-in intelligently designed mechanisms to understand how species change over time. If not, then please define "evolution" for us. Atom
Ex-xian, this UD article was written especially for you... Patrick
Hey PaV, I think the filter ate your ^ symbol. (10^20 not 1020)... Atom
I believe this following poem is fitting to the shallow assertion of materialists that all there is to reality is blind material processes that have no ultimate meaning or purpose for our lives. There Is More Once I saw a very old Godly man who, being very near , had Become deaf, blind and invalid; Yet somehow he glowed happily Then it occurred to me... There is more to seeing than the light we see with our eyes There is more to beholding than to watch setting skies There is more to hearing than perceiving a sound There is more to standing than being upright on the ground There is more to feeling than touching with our skin There is more to all things, things that come from deeper within Then I saw a miserly old rich man who had angrily driven away his family Now he was in a coma, in his mansion, with no one around who loved him Then it occurred to me... There is more to words than to sticks and stones There is more to people than just skin and bones There is more to a home than bricks, steel, and lumber There is more to waking up than rising from slumber There is more to riches than having money piled high There is more to living than just being alive Then I saw a Godly young woman full of compassion Working with homeless people helping them get off the street Then it occurred to me... There is more to loving than the warmth of feeling good There is more to understanding than a fact being understood There is more to work with than the tools of our crafts There is more to cleaning up than taking a bath There is more to freedom than having no prison walls There is more to poverty than having nothing at all Then I saw a bitter old man who angrily didn't believe in Miracles at all and thinks that this cold world is all there is Then it occurred to me... There is more to being than a body in a tomb There is more to being born than coming out of a womb There is more to heaven than all the stars above There is more to Jesus Christ than a distant example of God's love There is more to learning than books teach us in schools And there is more to walking with God than keeping TEN rules Then I got home at the end of the day Went into my room and quietly prayed Lord, If there is more than a lesson to my heart You could teach Would You teach me to see spiritually to add depth to my reach And Lord, If there is more than a gift to this world You might give Would You give the miracle that in all hearts Your light would live bornagain77
Religion Prof: Behe’s example of the Harlem gene that, through a 2-step process, provides immunity to malaria without the sickle-cell side effects, is also a good example. . . . [I]t still shows that evolution comes up with useful things in more than one-step processes. Excuse me for jumping in here, but I'm wondering if some perspective on your part is needed here. What if we asked this question: What if C-Harlem represented a '100-step' process, and not just a 2-step process? Well, for perspective, let's remember that in the malarial example there were 1020 replications needed to come up with the two amino acid substitution. What, then, does 1020 malarial parasite replications represent? It represents way in excess of all of the elephants that have ever been alive on planet earth since the day they showed up 65 million years ago. That means that if their ancient ancestor was alive 130 million years ago (an additional 65 million year period of time), then '100 steps' of evolution took place before the elephant was 'found' in the fossil record. This means that the mammalian ancestor had to be some kind of dinosaur. Does this mean that dinosaurs and mammals are '100 steps' away from each other? The answer is obviously that they aren't. If you can't immediately see that, then I think you're simply engaged in wishful thinking--as most Darwinists are. OTOH, we, here at UD, take these questions seriously. And because we do, we don't fall for the RM+NS bait. PaV
ReligionProf, Yes the antifreeze example is interesting but it is a minor accomplishment. It is an example of an adaptation working. There are a few other similar examples but all are small changes which can be accounted for by NDE (Neo Darwinian Evolution theory). I realize now it is also an abbreviation for near death experience. What we believe is that the evidence supports only trivial changes to the genome happening through neo Darwinian processes. They happen but they are small and some times these small changes let an organism adapt better. But there is no evidence it has gone beyond the trivial and any other claims are at best speculative. To get the really big changes in evolution massive changes to the genome have to happen not only to the protein coding parts of the genome but to the regulatory sections where the really important changes have to take place. There is no evidence that NDE can explain these changes other than wishful speculation. Or what we often refer to as just so stories. The only reply is that over deep time everything happened but there is no evidence to support that other than what I just said, namely, wishful thinking. So it is like religious faith in a lot of ways. Actually I think some aspects of religious faith have more evidence than NDE. As I said, we are not dumb here or ignorant of the evidence and arguments proposed to explain evolution nor are we all YEC. Many of us are just as opposed to the YEC science as those who oppose ID. This is a place where pro YEC and anti YEC can post and not get into too many discussions about YEC science. When discussions come up about anything involving old earth such as the Cambrian Explosion you will not get too many YEC's commenting. I rarely see YEC science pushed here because it gets challenged fairly quickly. jerry
Re: #31 Behe does not "dismiss" C-Harlem. Behe discusses the likelihood of getting the two necessary mutations simultaneously (1 in 10^16). He discusses how it came to be conferred, as per Neo-Darwinian thought, via successive mutations (a likelihood of once per hundred million Sickle Cell carriers), and why it is so rare. He discusses how it would be a boon if it appeared in Africa, how it will likely be lost from the population since it hasn't appeared there, and why it, or something like it probably will. He backs up the theoretical obstacles to such mutations with the empirical observation that Sickle Cell arose very few times, perhaps only once, and how C-Harlem has arisen very few times, perhaps only once, that we know of. His claim that the mutations do not confer new functions has nothing to do with the fact that C-Harlem was discovered in New York but is based upon the nature of the mutation and the benefits it confers. "No matter which way it turns, in this war fought by random mutations and natural selection, it is losing function, not gaining it." page 30 His book is not a dismissal of RM/NS but an argument about what it actually is and is not capable of. Charlie
...have you seen today's featured Wikipedia article? From the Wiki article: The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has stated that "intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life" are not science because they cannot be tested by experiment, do not generate any predictions, and propose no new hypotheses of their own. Three questions: How have Darwinian mechanisms been tested by experiment to demonstrate that they account for macroevolution? What prediction does Darwinian theory make, besides the prediction that living things will change? What new hypotheses are proposed? GilDodgen
mattghg, I will put up some of the quotes later, but I am really swamped right now, busy week...(I'm a college student) Berceuse
The antifreeze in icefish blood has already been covered in detail by multiple ID authors. I remember discussing it via email and no one was impressed. More recently, Behe discusses this in Edge of Evolution. In short, he says that it looks reasonably convincing, but that it's a relatively minor development involving an atypically simple gene, and probably marks the limit of what unguided Darwinian processes can reasonably be expected to do in vertebrate populations. Although I should note that some ID proponents are not convinced it's a valid example of observed unguided Darwinian evolution. Whether or not that particular example is valid, I don't think you will get many people here objecting to such examples in general. ID proponents have been saying for years Darwinian mechanisms DO function BUT are only capable of making minor changes. The latest research by ID proponents is attempting to ascertain the exact limits of unguided Darwinian processes. Darwinists on the other hand are taking these minor examples and extrapolating without justification that these same mechanisms are capable of major objectives. Enter the hand-waving and storytelling... Patrick
Hi Jerry! At first I thought NDE was 'Near Death Experience' and so was confused...but I eventually figured it out. AIG isn't always "Answers in Genesis", either. :) You said: "But NDE can not explain any major new capability in biological function. It is all speculative and that is why we object to it. It is being offered as absolute truth in the educational curriculum and at best is very, very speculative." Would the antifreeze in icefish blood and their lack of hemoglobic count? Sean Carroll features this in his recent book, and it would seem a pretty good example of a new capability in biological function. Behe's example of the Harlem gene that, through a 2-step process, provides immunity to malaria without the sickle-cell side effects, is also a good example. He discounts it because it happened in Harlem and not Africa. But were it not for the fact that we move unnaturally far distances in the present thanks to modern technology, that might not have been the case; and at any rate, it still shows that evolution comes up with useful things in more than one-step processes. Are these the sorts of things you meant? ReligionProf
religionProf: "without positing implausible scenarios involving scientists’ unwillingness to think critically, it seems clear that something hasn’t been understood." "implausible"? Surely you jest?! Since when are scientists immune from being "unwilling to think critically"? Indeed, one short glance at Dawkins, Provine and a few hundred other Darwinian fundamentalists is clear and simple proof that loads of scientists do indeed refuse to think critically. Since when does being a scientist remove subjective conclusions being made in the face of evidence? You speak as though scientists are necessarily honest and good people. Not so. They may be but then they many are not. And history proves it. Take a good look at the scientists that bolstered Hitler in the Darwinian theory they used to justify mass killings. After all we're just "animals sharing a common heritage with earth worms" (so why then is it wrong to kill humans and not animals since it's the same? Darwinists don't know). I suggest you take a look at "The Subjectivity of Scientists and the Bayesian Approach" - S. James Press & Judith M. Tanur - Available on Amazon Borne
I find the whole question posed by Darwinistic materialists to be inane; by their perspective, people **don't believe** in Darwinian Evolution for the same reason people **do believe** in Darwinian Evolution; they have each been programmed by physics, biology and chance to believe whatever they believe and say whatever they say, regardless of whether or not it has anything whatsoever to do with any "truth". When examined from their own materialistic point of view, their questions, their process, and their conclusions are inane abrogations of their own philsophical axiom. William J. Murray
Rude: I like this comment from your wikipedia "featured" article, Intelligent design's advocates claim it is a scientific theory, and seek to fundamentally redefine science to accept supernatural explanations. I have a few questions for them: Since when was science limited to accept only certain "acceptable" explanations for phenomena? Is not the foundational goal of science to relentlessly pursue the truth no matter how weird that truth may be? Are quantum mechanics, relativity and the big bang , unacceptable because they they don't fit into the neat preconcieved materialistic world view you have? What if there truly is a bigger explanation than time and chance to life? Will not your bias prevent you from finding it with science? What gives you the gall to believe you have the authority to dictate what science is allowed to find and what is not allowed to find? Why doesn't the fossil record or mutation rates line up with your theory if it is such a proven fact? Where is your conclusive evidence ? bornagain77
And then of course, which I forgot to mention, is today's announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize. Nihilism, anger, paranoia, self-delusion, obfuscation ... thank y'all for the bright light of ID in these gloomy times! Rude
ReligionProf, There is another religion professor who is also a world class scientist who comments on evolution. He believes in NDE but also admits that there is not one species that can be attributed to its mechanism. His name is Stanley Jaki and he is in his 80's now and is a Catholic priest but still writes on science and theology. He is critical of ID but not as severely as most. The reason he says NDE has been so accepted is not because of the empirical evidence that supports it but because the theory unifies all biological thought and as such make sense to biologists. I doubt that most biologist are aware that not one species can claim its origin to NDE but understand the simplicity and logic of NDE. They know that NDE isn't perfect but like most theories is being fine tuned. I bet if you probed any biology professors this is what you get from them. They may be quite surprised that no species can be identified and may suggest some examples but at best they will be trivial examples of NDE which as Behe has shown does work in very limited examples. But NDE can not explain any major new capability in biological function. It is all speculative and that is why we object to it. It is being offered as absolute truth in the educational curriculum and at best is very, very speculative. If you can find anyone that can disprove this last paragraph we would be all ears here to learn about it but no one ever has and like you many have come here to prove us wrong. All have failed to produce anything of substance. So don't be critical of us here till you or anyone else can enlighten us. We are not dumb or ignorant of any of the arguments for NDE or anything else relevant to it. jerry
Darwinism is a kindergarten level myth---yes---but have you seen today’s featured Wikipedia article? When will they ever learn? Rude
This guy has figured out how to explain evolution to a four-year-old: http://notgartner.wordpress.com/2006/12/31/explaining-evolution-to-a-four-year-old/ (How do you insert a hyperlink on this blog?) russ
shaner74: I agree with you. Gpuccio's point #4 was a terrific summation! russ
To be fair to Darwinists if a system is set up (trying to avoid the word "designed"...) properly I can see it being amicable to large-scale positive evolution by unguided mechanisms. I presume this is why earlier models of biological life were so simple as to be accommodating to unguided evolution. Problem is, the simplistic notion that a beneficial mutation will be acted on by natural selection is severely limited by the actual real-life system (effects of pleiotropy, etc). Patrick
Offtopic: Today's Wall Street Journal "Taste" section comments on the Dawkins/Lennox debate in Alabama here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119214767015956720.html A subscription may be required. Sample:
Each scholar received a round of applause after a few of his smarter remarks. But there was no hooting or hollering. Indeed, not one stray comment could be heard from the audience. I didn't make out a single sarcastic whisper from the college students sitting to my left or the middle-aged couples to my right. * * * Perhaps Mr. Dawkins was surprised by this reception. He recently referred to the Bible Belt states as "the reptilian brain of southern and middle America," in contrast to the "country's cerebral cortex to the north and down the coasts." This debate marks the first time Mr. Dawkins has appeared in the Old South. Maybe his publishers suggested it would be a good idea. After all, "The God Delusion" and similar atheist tracts have been selling like hotcakes (or buttered grits) down here.
"Finally, while darwinian evolution theory is simple, simplistic and wrong, and ID theory is fairly complex and right, all the attempts made, more or less recently, by darwinists to solve some of the problems arising from their own theory are incredibly complicated, meaningless, obfuscating and wrong." - gpuccio This quote should be at the top of the UD page. I love it. shaner74
Something that always bugs me, as it does Phil Johnson, is the use of the word "evolution." I'm especially annoyed by the phrase "understanding of evolution." If asked if I believe in evolution I would say, sure, things are not now as they once were, so they have evolved, by definition. If asked if I believe in the the blind-watchmaker thesis I would say, no, it's obviously bunk that doesn't comport with evidence and doesn't withstand even the most trivial analytical scrutiny. GilDodgen
Powerful Newspeak from NOVA -- wow. We are in the middle of having to reunderstand DNA-RNA, etc., a complexity increase that could arguably put evolution's timeline beyond statistical possibility, but somehow evolution is "foundational." _Right._ offcenter
1) Darwinian evolution theory, in its essential form (a la Dawkins), is very simple and easy to understand. RM + NS, and everything is cooked. That deceptive simplicity is certainly one of the main factors of its success, both by the general public and mainstream scientists. 2) At the same time, it is totally counter-intuitive if you consider it better. That's still another argument of darwinists, who often praise their theory as a very simple way of explaining an apparently counter-intuitive "truth". In principle, obviously, they could be right: a theory being counter-inyuitive does not in any way mean it's wrong, as the theory of relativity and especially quantum nechanics have clearly shown. 3) On the contrary, there are a lot of precise reasons which clearly demonstrate that darwinian evolution theory is completely wrong. These reasons, although supporting a perfectly intuitive point of view, are indeed not simple, and that's why many can't easily appreciate them: most people can easily understand intuitively that RM + NS cannot reasonably have created biological information, but really understanding "why" it is so, on solid scientific grounds, requires some good basic scientific preparation, if possible multidisciplinar, and a lot of attention, dedication and patience. And, I would say, a mind as free as possible from prejudice. The task of ID is definitely to formulate, elaborate, formalize and clearly explain all these reasons, and help people understand and freely judge them. 4) Finally, while darwinian evolution theory is simple, simplistic and wrong, and ID theory is fairly complex and right, all the attempts made, more or less recently, by darwinists to solve some of the problems arising fron their own theory are incredibly complicated, meaningless, obfuscating and wrong. These "darwinian salvage theories", like punctuated equilibrium, information generation by neutral mutation and genetic drifting, the supposed crucial importance of gene duplication, cooption, the various follies about OOL, genetic big bangs, and so on, are so complex, artificial and unsubstantiated that their only role is to confound the minds of those who cannot see through them, and leave people with a vague sensation that "evolution" has evolved, that ID people are rude for calling darwinists darwinists, and that if you don't understand how darwinian evolution can work, well, that's only your fault. Against these lies and artificial constructions ID has an important role: to stick to truth, even if it is not always simple, even if it is not always popular. gpuccio
Rejoice! The long journey of Darwnism to religious status is accomplished. It is now a form of Gnosticism--only the privileged few are capable of absorbing its hidden wisdom. See how mystical they are! One imagines their master taking them aside to impart the Secret Things that cannot be conned by the masses. But now that the theorists have all gone into the world of light, the door is open once again for science; which, after all, is the study of physical things. allanius
Another problem in this debate is that Darwinists use a typical sleight of hand by calling any change as "evolution". If you keep calling "evolution" any change that happens in the genome, soon enough you'll have "overwhelming evidence" for evolution, not because you have actually found the evidence, but because you have called "evolution" to everything. Mats
While the basic concept of evolution is easy to comprehend what becomes difficult is when you apply it to a real world scenario. Quickly it "should" become obvious that the basic concept of evolution does not completely work as advertised in the real world beyond trivial observances. So while the basic concept of evolution is simple, nowadays a bewildering array of alternate mechanisms are being proposed in order to prop up the underlying set of assumptions. Really, the problems come about when it comes to "applied science".
But when people cannot even understand why the theory is so widely accepted, without positing implausible scenarios involving scientists’ unwillingness to think critically, it seems clear that something hasn’t been understood.
I find that humorous. What is more implausible: that social dynamics plays a part in science or the scenarios commonly cited by Darwinists as being "reasonable"? If a Darwinist is honest and is willing to state that Darwinism is currently in an uncertain condition and more investigation must be done that is a fine stance by me. What makes me roll my eyes is when Darwinists insist everything is fine. Even as an ID proponent I think that the limits of Darwinian mechanisms should be investigated thoroughly. Maybe I'll be surprised and a combination of certain mechanisms in certain environments under certain conditions will result in more than I would expect. Patrick
Beyond "survivors survive" and random mutation creates new features for natural selection to act on, what's there to know? Answer: *****hand-waiving****** Darwinists hand-wave all the time around hard problems. Philosophy drives scientific conclusions. Not observations. Not measurements. Not mathematical models. geoffrobinson
Berceuse, could you repeat (some of) those quotations here for future use, please? mattghg
I also think that evolution is not rocket science. However, I believe that evolution is much more complex than rocket science, as it is dealing with the entire complexity of life (which, as you will agree, Dr Dembsky) is infinitely more complex than rocket science. with the rest of your statements, I do agree. IrrDan
Bill, Evolution is so easy to understand that only the superstitious, ignorant (and possibly wicked) don't understand it. /sarcasm Well, seriously, evolution is not hard to understand. The "problem" is that we look at it without the naturalistic gogles, so we don't swallow it. Darwinists, on the other hand, are schocked that people don't believe that things created themselves because thay have been totally defeated by naturalistic myths. If they really want to see why people who think about these issues fairly don't believe in it, they should ask themselves the simple question: "Has anyone ever seen mindless/impersonal process generating living forms?" OR "If we put aside the assumption that nature is a closed system, do we have any reason to believe that living forms are the result of forces operating within nature itself?" Once they are willing to step back, and look at the big picture, they will realize it. The problem of course, is that taking a step back demands that one puts aside many cherished philosophical beliefs, and most Darwinists are not willing to take that chance. They have too much to loose if Darwinism is not true. Mats
I can relate to what you're saying, bFast, to some degree. And I think some of those who do believe evolution don't know enough about it. Not to long ago I was debating with another evolutionist on a message board, and I was telling him how even evolutionists themselves admit the speculative and metaphysical nature of their theory. When he asked for proof, I posted several quotes by noted evolutionists/naturalists like Huxley, Francis Crick, Gould, etc. He wrote them all off as biased creationists, and it became clear to me he didn't know what he was talking about. Either that or he thought considering my arguments would be beneath him and therefore unworthy of consideration. I'm inclined to think the latter because one of these "creationists," Gould, was a consistent point of reference that he used when defending his case. Berceuse
[...] William Dembski has nailed it! You should hit his blog for the whole story and for associated comments by readers, but here’s a snippet: The phrase that jumps out here is “least understood of all scientific theories.” Reality check: the basics of evolutionary theory are not hard to fathom — evolution is not rocket science (presumably Paula Apsell thinks she understands them). Moreover, tax payers have been paying megabucks to have their children indoctrinated in this theory. So perhaps the problem is not that evolutionary theory is poorly understood but that it is sufficiently well understood and disbelieved.” [...] Dembski Nails It! « Life Under the Blue Sky: The View From Below
I would like to know where I can take an "Evolutionary Biology" exam that establishes where my understanding of the theory of evolution is in relation to that of society. I bet bones my understanding is top 1%. In fact, I bet that nearly all of the biological non-professionals who regularly post on this board would rate in that top 1%. If we are the cream of the crop, why don't we buy the theory? bFast
idnet.com.au, I do too, which, in a way, is unfortunate for me, I suppose, because it would be so much easier to swim with the cultural current than against it, but, as Phil Johnson says, I simply cannot manage the faith commitments necessary to believe in materialism -- and Darwinism, which is more a logical deduction from materialist philosophy than a scientific theory. While I swim upstream I'll just have to content myself with the thought that, while it may be hard swimming, at least I'm going in toward truth (and Truth) and not away from it. BarryA
I find evolution by random mutation and natural selection easy to understand but hard to believe. idnet.com.au
It truly is not that hard to see the fallacies of evolution.. Once I was told about the actual state of the fossil record in Johnson's "Darwin On Trial" the shock hit me. I remember sitting there reading it with my mouth wide open ,,Absolutely Astounded,,, I think I marked like 75% of the book in yellow highlighter,,, LOL,,, I was amazed that I had been so thoroughly lied to for all those years by the science I had grown to love through the American Space Program. Then once I found out the harmful/fatal mutation rate to DNA from Dr. Hugh Ross, I knew the case was airtight against Darwinism... Your right Dr. Dembski,,evolution is not that hard to understand, in fact it is real simple...Random mutation to the DNA of some sort then natural selection on that mutation...Remove either of those two pillars and the stack of cards for evolution collapses... And what a truly tall stack of cards it is!!! It seems to me evolutionists love to play intellectual games to try to obfuscate the shallowness of their evidence...They truly hide behind smoke and mirrors,,,and are magicians are worse yet charlatans with words.. I'm truly proud of America's accomplishments in science ...I believe it is high time the integrity of science was taken away from the intellectually dishonest Darwinists, who have hijacked biology in the name of materialism and be restored it to its proper position of the fearless pursuit of truth in American culture! bornagain77
I don't think I claimed it is beyond your understanding or anyone else's. I may at times have expressed doubt about whether someone DOES understand it, but I have no doubt they CAN. :) I think that the comparison with rocket science is interesting. I wonder if there is any evidence that the science involved in unravelling and mapping the genome, understanding the workings of cells, and so on are significantly easier than launching a rocket. Of course, in the case of the latter the concept is relatively easy to grasp: ignight it, stand back and cover your ears. :) But just as there is expertise involved in getting the rock to not merely ignite but follow a specific trajectory, there is expertise involved in understanding the details of the workings of a cell, DNA, etc. Returning to the main point - I don't think that biology is significantly harder or easier for people to understand than most other areas of science, if we are talking about basic concepts. I suspect that what the NOVA producer had in mind is the failure of so many Americans to understand why most biologists and most educated people (in other countries, at least) find the evidence for evolution persuasive, when in America various people keep proclaiming that it isn't. One may or may not, in the end, be convinced that evolution is the best explanation of the evidence. But when people cannot even understand why the theory is so widely accepted, without positing implausible scenarios involving scientists' unwillingness to think critically, it seems clear that something hasn't been understood. ReligionProf
I agree that the basics of evolution are relatively easy to understand, but when one speaks to your average guy on the street, one hears an alarming number of misconceptions--irrespective of whether they believe in evolution or not. For example, most of the non-biologists that I know still equate "fitness" in the evolutionary sense with being fast, strong, having sharp claws, etc. I have met multiple skeptics of evolution who still use the old "why are there still monkeys?" response, without any clue as to why that might be a ridiculous question. Reed Orak
ReligionProf claims that evolution is beyond our understanding (those that comment here at UD) implying we do not have the technical knowledge here to criticize it and should accept as gospel what the biological community tells us. As an aside I have purchased a lot of Teaching Company courses and find them easy ways to keep up to date on various topics in science. Yesterday I purchased their course on Natural Law since this topic comes up occasionally in posts here. And the first book on their recommended reading list was Behe's Darwin's Black Box. I was astounded since the Teaching Company tends to be mainstream academia. So I guess the Teaching Company thinks those who purchase a philosophy course can understand critical thinking about evolution and should not have to listen uncritically to the biology establishment. jerry

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