Darwinism Intelligent Design

Douglas Axe on the central weaknesses of Darwinism today

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Here’s Douglas Axe, author of Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed, (Harper One, 2016) in an interview at Biola prof Sean McDowell’s blog:

MCDOWELL: Scientifically speaking, what is your biggest critique of Darwinian evolution?

AXE: Darwin’s mechanism explains some things, such as the ongoing annual battle between the flu virus and humans. These things may impact human lives greatly, but they have no bearing at all on the weighty question of where humans came from. With respect to that question, the only thing that keeps Darwinism going is the culture of intimidation that makes so many of us afraid to question it. In other words, as an answer to the big question of our origin, Darwinism has succeeded only socially, not scientifically. It is living proof of the power of herdthink.

If I’m right about this, then there should be no shortage of scientific refutations of the theory. This is indeed the case. Take your pick. Those who like math may prefer the various refutations based on probability—all boiling down to the plain fact that blind causes are stupendously unlikely to stumble upon any of the ingenious contrivances that characterize life (and, again, natural selection is completely irrelevant until these things are stumbled upon). Those intrigued by the problem of consciousness might prefer refutations based on the incoherence of physical explanations of mind. Or, if common-sense reasoning is your thing, I’ve developed a refutation based on the unacceptability of appeals to scary coincidences (which Darwinism ends up being).

Then again, if you simply value scientific honesty, you ought to be moved by the fact that thousands of professional Darwinists laboring for 160 years have not explained the origin of a single complex functional feature of life with the degree of rigor expected in all serious sciences. Lots of imaginative storytelling and vigorous handwaving, but nothing at all that rises to the level of a demonstration. Not even close.

Sean McDowell, “The Origin of Species Turns 160 Years Old. What Is the State of Darwinism Today?” at Sean McDowell: Bringing truth to a new generation

But central weaknesses in a bread-and-butter position are easy to ignore. Especially with science media to help.

Though, come to think of it, that last part may be changing. There is definitely more interest now in new ideas. If only to keep the interest level up. 😉

14 Replies to “Douglas Axe on the central weaknesses of Darwinism today

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    One thing that I learned spending 4 decades working with government bureaucrats is that certain things CANNOT be true, and even if you have data showing The Horrid Thing is true, that isn’t any reason for us to talk about it in public. The people In Charge are MOSTLY concerned about remaining In Charge. And insignificant technicians waving pages of Facts are to be ignored until it becomes clear that they will NOT shut up and sit, at which point they are fired.
    So, as with many public problems (um, making the entrenched bureaucrats of the Veterans Administration actually DO something useful…), the fundamental problem is that the entrenched bureaucrats in Science do not benefit PERSONALLY from admitting that obscure professors from obscure colleges can more accurately describe things than the entrenched Experts.
    The US Navy is now in the middle of The Fiasco of All Fiascos: they have WASTED perhaps a TRILLION (with a T) USDs building “all electric” aircraft carriers. The lead ship FLUNKED sea trials. No one has ANY idea how much of the ship will have to be GUTTED and rebuilt with tried and proven hydraulic and pneumatic systems. But since the fundamental design is based on everything electric, it may turned out to be cheaper (we only waste 500 billion…) to simply SCRAP the 4 all-electric ships and build another copy of the conventional carrier. Note that DOZENS, if not HUNDREDS, of USN officers, SENIOR civil servants, and WELL paid contractors will still be enjoying VERY well funded retirements.

  2. 2
    MatSpirit says:

    “Then again, if you simply value scientific honesty, you ought to be moved by the fact that thousands of professional Christians laboring for 160 years have not explained the origin of a single complex functional feature of life with the degree of rigor expected in all serious sciences. Lots of imaginative storytelling and vigorous handwaving, but nothing at all that rises to the level of a demonstration. Not even close.”

    I say Amen! to this, once you change a single word. Listening to you ID Theorists complain, you’d almost think that you had the answers to how life started and how the various organisms developed. But you’re not even looking.

  3. 3
    ET says:

    MatSpirit, Because we don’t even know what is required I say its stupid to think that we can determine how someone else did something that we cannot. But, if it helps, imagine a laboratory with the capability of cranking out living organisms using techniques not unlike those used by Craig Venter’s lab. Or large scale CRISPR, even.

  4. 4
    BobRyan says:

    MatSpirit @ 2

    You are on the side of the hand waving and story telling, but it is your side that has no scientific evidence to support a single claim. Not one positive mutation has ever been witnessed. Without positive mutations, there can be no evolution. There is nothing that has ever been witnessed to support evolution, which is a requirement of science.
    Science dictates that something cannot come from nothing, which means life cannot come from no life. It is a scientific impossibility. Only through something with far greater intellect than man can bring about life from no life. There is order in the universe that shows signs of that intellect and the order can be witnessed, which makes ID far more scientific than evolution.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    MatSpirit, in his comment where he changed the word Darwinists to Christians, (i.e. “professional Darwinists Christians laboring for 160 years have not explained the origin of a single complex functional feature of life), in that comment MatSpirit should be the very definition of ‘miss the forest for the trees’.

    Definition of “miss the forest for the trees”
    : to not understand or appreciate a larger situation, problem, etc., because one is considering only a few parts of it

    MatSpirit instead of honestly admitting that 160 of research has been utterly futile in regards to explaining the naturalistic origin of a single complex functional feature of life, much less explaining the naturalistic origin of life itself, instead, (being the militant anti-Christian that he is), falsely claims that, “you’d almost think that you (Christians) had the answers to how life started and how the various organisms developed. But you’re not even looking.”

    Well contrary to the false accusations of MatSpirit, Christians, and other scientists who are not beholden to atheistic materialism as a unquestionable presupposition, the ‘answer’ to the question for how life got started is in fact turning out to be in answering this one very specific, and fairly simple, question, “Where does the information come from?”

    Information Enigma: Where does information come from? – video (Stephen Meyer and Douglas Axe)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA-FcnLsF1g

    As Dr. Meyer has repeatedly pointed out, only Intelligence has ever shown the capacity to create information

    First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form). Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question .
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/id-foundations-18-video-dr-stephen-meyer-of-discovery-institute-presents-the-case-for-intelligent-design/

    Moreover, as was pointed out the other day on the thermodynamic thread of JohnnyB, advances in quantum information theory and quantum biology now give us strong empirical footing for inferring that it must be God who is imparting information into life so as to raise it to a state that is far from thermodynamic equilibrium (on the order of 10 to the 12 bits for ‘simple’ bacterial life):

    ,,, advances in quantum biology now prove that quantum coherence is ubiquitous within life,,, i.e “in a wide range of important biomolecules”,,, that fact, coupled with the fact that quantum coherence is a thoroughly ‘non-local’ beyond space and time affair, gives Christian Theists evidence that it must be God who is imparting that massive amount of ‘positional information’ into our bodies during embryological development and ‘forming’ our bodies to be so far out of thermodynamic equilibrium.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/thermodynamic-efficiency-of-cellular-computation/#comment-688431

    via advances in quantum information theory, that “an object does not have a certain amount of entropy per se, instead an object’s entropy is always dependent on the observer.”
    Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology – Part II
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSig2CsjKbg

    Thus it is certainly not that Christians don’t have an empirically backed answer to the question of how life started. It is that Atheistic Materialists, such as MatSpirit, simply refuse to ever accept the fact that Intelligence of any sort, much less God, must be behind life no matter what the evidence may say to the contrary of his naturalistic/atheistic presupposition.

    Of supplemental note to ‘160 years of research’, in the following video Dr. James Tour, (who is considered one of the top ten synthetic Chemists in the world), points out that the more we know about the specific scientific problems surrounding the origin of life, then the worse the problem(s) actually becomes for atheistic materialists, (i.e. atheistic materialists, contrary to what they may claim, are actually going backwards, not forwards, in terms of making progress on understanding the ‘problem’ of the origin of life.)

    James Tour: The Origin of Life Has Not Been Explained (The more we know, the worse the problem gets for materialists)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4sP1E1Jd_Y

    Verse:

    John 1:1-4
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

  6. 6
    Seversky says:

    Bornagain77@ 5
    I’m wondering how much Axe actually understands about the theory of evolution if he thinks it’s about the origins of the universe and life itself or that it’s still only about natural selection.

    Well contrary to the false accusations of MatSpirit, Christians, and other scientists who are not beholden to atheistic materialism as a unquestionable presupposition, the ‘answer’ to the question for how life got started is in fact turning out to be in answering this one very specific, and fairly simple, question, “Where does the information come from?”

    What information? What is information according to Christians?

    As Dr. Meyer has repeatedly pointed out, only Intelligence has ever shown the capacity to create information

    What version of information was he talking about?

    Thus it is certainly not that Christians don’t have an empirically backed answer to the question of how life started.

    “God did it” is not an empirically-backed answer.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    LOL. I will gladly let my post at 5 stand as is.

  8. 8
    ET says:

    What version of information was he talking about?

    With respect to biology he is talking about Crick’s version. That has been made abundantly clear from the ID literature.

    “God did it” is not an empirically-backed answer

    How would you know? Given what you accept as science it is clear that you don’t know what an “empirically-backed answer” is.

  9. 9
    ET says:

    The Crick definition of information with respect to biology:

    Information means here the precise determination of sequence, either of bases in the nucleic acid or on amino acid residues in the protein.

    In “Signature in the Cell” Meyer defines “information” basically as it is found in standard and accepted dictionaries:

    the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (such as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects

    The specific effects are biologically relevant and required macromolecules. The sequence specificity is the inherent attribute.

    Seems like a very simple concept so it is very telling that the anti-ID minions refuse to understand it.

  10. 10
    Yarrgonaut says:

    Seversky,

    ““God did it” is not an empirically-backed answer.”
    It is also a strawman of ID, so it doesn’t matter.

    I would think that the development and diversification of life occurs by non-random mechanisms that are empirically detectable, (and many have been). Randomness is just a gap invoked to fill our lack of knowledge about which directed mechanisms are responsible for incorporating information into biological systems.

  11. 11
    MatSpirit says:

    As I said, ID “scientists” are not even trying to “prove” ID. They spend all their time trying to DISprove evolution. Thanks for the opportunity to show you how.

    For this first message, I’ll start with the number one ID “scientist”, William Dembski, the man who started this blog. For some reason nobody can adequately explain, Dembski seems to think that evolution is a sort of a searching operation. He looks at the number of different combinations a given length of DNA could have and finds very large numbers. For instance, a 100 base pair string of DNA can be arranged in 4^100 different ways, which is 1.6^60 different ways in decimal. A number sixty digits long. Wow!

    The human genome is about 3 billion base pairs long which is a fabulously large number. It’s beyond astronomically large. 4^3,000,000,000 is such a large number that if every subatomic particle in the universe was a digit, there still wouldn’t be enough matter to even write that number down. No doubt about it, it’s big.

    According to Dembski, evolution essentially amounts to searching through that unimaginably large number of combinations, looking for one that will sustain life. (Well, there are actually seven billion combinations that are known to work in a human and should you decide to have a child I’m sure another one can be found for you, but still the total numbers of viable combinations is minute compared to the total number of possible combinations.) Dr. Dembski spends most of his time and has written several papers proving to his satisfaction that such a search is impossible without evolution somehow “sneaking in” external information to guide the search, said information presumably coming from some sort of Intelligent Designer.

    Unfortunately for Dr. Dembski, evolution is not a search. If you are alive at all, then both of your parents had viable DNA patterns that produced a viable child, namely you. Furthermore, your parent’s parents must had DNA patterns that produced a viable child, namely your parents. Your grandparent’s had viable DNA too. And before that, your great grand parents must had a viable DNA patterns, and their parents, and theirs, and theirs, and so on, all the way back to where a bunch of apes had viable DNA patterns, and before them whatever preceded apes and so on back to the original living thing. (Which had no DNA. I’m lookin at you, Upright Biped.)

    Not one of those organisms searched through any three billion base pair long strings of DNA looking for a viable string. Not one. Instead, they gave their offspring DNA that was as close to their own known viable string as they could. Your single celled ancestors could just copy their DNA, stuff it into Junior, and cut him loose. Easy peasey. Once your ancestors developed sex, they had a way that could create brand new strings of viable DNA by combining two known viable DNA strings into one that would probably work and which enabled new strings of viable DNA made from the best of existing strings to be produced. (And some that were less successful, incorporating the worst parts of existing strings. That’s the trouble with sex.)

    Note well that they are COPYING DNA, not searching through it.

    In case your filters block the above, here’s the executive summary:

    1. No organism has to search for a viable DNA string. His parents give him one by copying their own. His parents and all the rest of his ancestors are already in the viable zone. No search is necessary.

    2. To give his own child a good string of DNA, he copies his own. No searching necessary.

    3. Evolution happens when mutations, Horizontal DNA Transfer or any other cause changes one or more base pairs in Junior’s DNA string. If only a few pairs change or a longer length of viable DNA is brought in by HDT, Junior’s DNA will probably still be in the viable zone. If it is, it will probably be passed on to Junior’s offspring and if it’s really good, it may increase in numbers. If not, Junior will die without making any ancestors and that string of defective DNA will die with him. Both cases are natural selection at work.

    That’s Dembski’s main error: Life is not a search. It’s a copy and paste. I’d be happy to explain where other ID heroes are mistaken, particularly Meyer, but it looks like narrowing the focus of what I write to you might produce better answers, at least better than #7 above, so I’ll wait till you respond to this before examining him.

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    The above “executive summary” of MatSpirit’s simplistic understanding of evolution, reminds me of this quote:

    “You might think that a theory so profound would be laden with intimidating mathematical formulas and at least as difficult to master as Newton’s Mechanics or Einstein’s Relativity. But such is not the case. Darwinism is the most accessible “scientific” theory ever proposed. It needs no math, no mastery of biology, no depth of understanding on any level. The dullest person can understand the basic story line: “Some mistakes are good. When enough good mistakes accumulate you get a new species. If you let the mistakes run long enough, you get every complicated living thing descending from one simple living thing in the beginning. There is no need for God in this process. In fact there is no need for God at all. So the Bible, which claims that God is important, is wrong.” You can be drunk, addled, or stupid and still understand this. And the real beauty of it is that when you first glimpse this revelation with its “aha!” moment, you feel like an Einstein yourself. You feel superior, far superior, to those religious nuts who still believe in God. Without having paid any dues whatsoever, you breathe the same rarified air as the smartest people who have ever lived.”
    – Laszlo Bencze

    If MatSpirit was ever capable of understanding the math, (or at least understanding the principles behind the math), say understanding the Law of Conservation of Information, (Dembski and Marks), he might not be so simplistic in his understanding of Darwinian evolution:

    “Darwin’s theory is easily the dumbest idea ever taken seriously by science.”
    Granville Sewell – Professor Of Mathematics – University Of Texas – El Paso

    “In light of Doug Axe’s number, and other similar results,, (1 in 10^77), it is overwhelmingly more likely than not that the mutation, random selection, mechanism will fail to produce even one gene or protein given the whole multi-billion year history of life on earth. There is not enough opportunities in the whole history of life on earth to search but a tiny fraction of the space of 10^77 possible combinations that correspond to every functional combination. Why? Well just one little number will help you put this in perspective. There have been only 10^40 organisms living in the entire history of life on earth. So if every organism, when it replicated, produced a new sequence of DNA to search that (1 in 10^77) space of possibilities, you would have only searched 10^40th of them. 10^40 over 10^77 is 1 in 10^37. Which is 10 trillion, trillion, trillion. In other words, If every organism in the history of life would have been searching for one those (functional) gene sequences we need, you would have searched 1 in 10 trillion, trillion, trillionth of the haystack. Which makes it overwhelmingly more likely than not that the (Darwinian) mechanism will fail. And if it is overwhelmingly more likely than not that the (Darwinian) mechanism will fail should we believe that is the way that life arose?”
    Stephen Meyer – 46:19 minute mark – Darwin’s Doubt – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg8bqXGrRa0&feature=player_detailpage#t=2778

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, you speak in both contempt — scare quotes — and ignorance.

    FYI:

    BIBLIOGRAPHIC AND ANNOTATED LIST OF
    PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS
    SUPPORTING INTELLIGENT DESIGN
    UPDATED MARCH, 2017

    PART I: INTRODUCTION
    While intelligent design (ID) research is a new scientific field, recent years have been a period of encouraging growth, producing a strong record of peer-reviewed scientific publications.

    In 2011, the ID movement counted its 50th peer-reviewed scientific paper and new publications continue to appear. As of 2015, the peer-reviewed scientific publication count had reached 90. Many of these papers are recent, published since 2004, when Discovery Institute senior fellow Stephen Meyer published a groundbreaking paper advocating ID in the journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. There are multiple hubs of ID-related research.

    Biologic Institute, led by molecular biologist Doug Axe, is “developing and testing the scientific case for intelligent design in biology.” Biologic conducts laboratory and theoretical research on the origin and role of information in biology, the fine-tuning of the universe for life, and methods of detecting design in nature.

    Another ID research group is the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, founded by senior Discovery Institute fellow William Dembski along with Robert Marks, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University. Their lab has attracted graduate-student researchers and published multiple peer-reviewed articles in technical science and engineering journals showing that computer programming ”points to the need for an ultimate information source qua intelligent designer.”

    Other pro-ID scientists around the world are publishing peer-reviewed pro-ID scientific papers. These include biologist Ralph Seelke at the University of Wisconsin Superior, Wolf-Ekkehard Lonnig who recently retired from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Germany, and Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe.

    These and other labs and researchers have published their work in a variety of appropriate technical venues, including peer-reviewed scientific journals, peer-reviewed scientific books (some published by mainstream university presses), trade-press books, peer-edited scientific anthologies, peer-edited scientific conference proceedings and peer-reviewed philosophy of science journals and books. These papers have appeared in scientific journals such as Protein Science, Journal of Molecular Biology, Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Complexity, Quarterly Review of Biology, Cell Biology International, Physics Essays, Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum, Physics of Life Reviews, Quarterly Review of Biology, Journal of Bacteriology , Annual Review of Genetics, and many others. At the same time, pro-ID scientists have presented their research at conferences worldwide in fields such as genetics, biochemistry, engineering, and computer science.

    Collectively, this body of research is converging on a consensus: complex biological features cannot arise by unguided Darwinian mechanisms, but require an intelligent cause.

    Despite ID’s publication record, we note parenthetically that recognition in peer-reviewed literature is not an absolute requirement to demonstrate an idea’s scientific merit. Darwin’s own theory of evolution was first published in a book for a general and scientific audience — his Origin of Species — not in a peer-reviewed paper. Nonetheless, ID’s peer-reviewed publication record shows that it deserves — and is receiving — serious consideration by the scientific community.

    The purpose of ID’s budding research program is thus to engage open-minded scientists and thoughtful laypersons with credible, persuasive, peer-reviewed, empirical data supporting intelligent design. And this is happening. ID has already gained the kind of scientific recognition you would expect from a young (and vastly underfunded) but promising scientific field . . .

    More since of course but that makes the point.

    You would be well advised to reconsider the credibility of the sources that led you to such gross error.

    KF

  14. 14
    ET says:

    MatSpirit:

    As I said, ID “scientists” are not even trying to “prove” ID. They spend all their time trying to DISprove evolution.

    Seeing that ID is NOT anti-evolution, it is obvious that you don’t know what you are talking about. And seeing that IDists have presented the positive evidence and case for ID, it is obvious that you are just a willfully ignorant troll.

    That said, evolution by means of blind and mindless processes doesn’t make testable claims and as such is out of the realm of science.

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