Intelligent Design

Materialist Equivocations

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Evolution is a Fact!  Depending on what one means by “evolution,” of course it is.  There are no living dinosaurs.  This leads to the indisputable conclusion that the earth’s biosphere has “evolved” from a place where dinosaurs were common to a place where dinosaurs exist not at all.  “Evolution” in this sense is an indisputable fact.

Materialists shamelessly trade on an equivocation between the “fact” of evolution in this sense and the “fact” of a materialist account of evolution.  There are no dinosaurs.  Therefore, the competence of blind, unguided mechanical forces to transform the biosphere from a place where dinosaurs were common to a place where dinosaurs exist not at all is indisputably established.  Notice the linguistic flim flam employed here.  The indisputable fact of change is asserted as the same thing as the indisputable fact of a particular means by which the change came about.

Suppose we know that at one time Charlie was in London.  We know that Charlie is presently in New York.  It is an indisputable fact that Charlie’s location changed from London to New York.  Now suppose that someone were to say the fact that Charlie’s location changed from London to New York establishes as an indisputable fact that Charlie took a voyage on the Queen Mary II.  It is not hard to see how absurd that assertion is.  Yet the two cases are identical in that they both confuse certainty about the fact of a particular change with certainty about how that change came about.

In the case of Charlie’s travels, that absurdity would be compounded if we knew that Charlie was in London only twelve hours ago.  It is impossible for the QMII to travel between England and the United States in twelve hours.  With this new information, therefore, we have a very good reason to discard “passage by Queen Mary II” as a possible means by which Charlie’s change in location came about.

Again there are parallels with the evolution debate.  The Cambrian Explosion occurred in a geological blink of an eye.  That is why Darwin himself cited it as a major objection to his theory.  Darwin thought that objection would be answered eventually, but it has not.  The absurdity of insisting that the indisputable fact of the change in the biosphere is the same thing as the indisputable fact of a particular materialist means by which the change came about is compounded if there are very good reasons to believe that means asserted – Darwinian gradualism – is not up to the task of bringing about the change observed.

The distinction between fact of change and means of change is easy to see in Charlie’s trip to New York.  Why is the exact same distinction so hard for many people to grasp when we are talking about evolution?

41 Replies to “Materialist Equivocations

  1. 1
    FourFaces says:

    Well reasoned article. Keep in mind that Darwinists do not win arguments through reasoned debates. They win arguments by repeating the same flawed narrative over and over as if it were an established fact. It’s evil.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    To lie is to speak with disregard to truth; in hope that what one says or suggests will be taken as true.

  3. 3
    Bob O'H says:

    There are no dinosaurs. Therefore, the competence of blind, unguided mechanical forces to transform the biosphere from a place where dinosaurs were common to a place where dinosaurs exist not at all is indisputably established.

    Barry, can you point to someone making this argument?

    Oh, and there are a lot of living dinosaurs – I’m sure that even you’ve seen some.

  4. 4
    polistra says:

    The Carbon scam works the same way. The climate is unusual lately, therefore CO2 caused it. Ignoring the better correlated changes in Earth’s magma flows and magnetic fields, which nicely explain the fact that the ice in Greenland and Antarctica is melting FROM THE BOTTOM.

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob O’H

    Oh, and there are a lot of living dinosaurs

    Thanks Bob! A materialist equivocation in the combox of a post entitled “Materialist Equivocations.” Priceless.

  6. 6
    ET says:

    Bob O’H:

    Oh, and there are a lot of living dinosaurs

    I have heard that untestable claim. And if someone ever finds a way to scientifically test it people will listen. Until then it is just a story with support. More like a fantasy, really.

  7. 7
    Axel says:

    Well, speaking about the son of the Reverend Ian Paisely, currently, himself an MP in the N. Irish parliament, a young female journalist proferred to one of the critics of the family succession, the amusing blandishment : ‘Well even dinsosaurs must be allowed to have baby dinosaurs.’

  8. 8
    john_a_designer says:

    Here is a video clip interviewing some scientists and engineers who worked on the Voyager I and II missions speculating about the odds of finding other intelligent life (ETI) elsewhere in the universe.

    http://www.pbs.org/the-farthest/video/

    This is not a direct link. You’ll need to click on the video entitled:

    Is There Anybody Out There?
    Engineers and scientists discuss the probability of finding intelligent life in space.

    Equivocation? Nah. It is equivocation raised to at least the 550th power. (In other words, it’s a lot of scientifically unwarranted wishful thinking.)

    The full hour and a half program btw is very well done and very worth watching. Warning: they feature Lawrence Krauss in a couple of the segments where he waxes philosophical. Why? Who knows?

  9. 9
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 5 – can you answer my question at 3, please?

    On present day dinosaurs, there’s one sat on my laptop at the moment. In case you haven’t heard, birds are now considered dinosaurs. This isn’t ambiguous.

  10. 10
    ET says:

    Yes, Bob, we all know the story that birds are considered dinosaurs because they are allegedly directly descended from them. It’s just a story, Bob, regardless of who or how many believe it.

    If only there was a mechanism capable of producing all of the changes and differences required. A mechanism that could actually be tested would be best if you want it to be considered science.

  11. 11
    john_a_designer says:

    Birds? I thought Bob was referring to Nessie.

  12. 12
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob,

    birds are now considered dinosaurs

    You’re always good for a few grins Bob.

  13. 13
    ET says:

    Barry, you will love this:

    Are birds really dinosaurs?

    Ask your average paleontologist who is familiar with the phylogeny of vertebrates and they will probably tell you that yes, birds (avians) are dinosaurs. Using proper terminology, birds are avian dinosaurs; other dinosaurs are non-avian dinosaurs, and (strange as it may sound) birds are technically considered reptiles.

    Go over to sandbox and Moran will tell you the same thing.

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    ET,

    Fortunately, Larry Moran does not determine the meaning of words. Neither does Bob. Here is what the dictionary says:

    any chiefly terrestrial, herbivorous or carnivorous reptile of the extinct orders Saurischia and Ornithischia, from the Mesozoic Era, certain species of which are the largest known land animals.

    This is an interesting question in linguistics. It is certainly true that some idiosyncratic cladists classify chickens as dinosaurs. OK. You can call a chicken a dinosaur if you want, but that does not change the meaning of the English word “dinosaur.” How do we determine that meaning? To answer that question we must first answer “what does it mean to mean?” Wittgenstein answer this question with the famous aphorism “meaning is usage.” In other words, the meaning of any word depends on the usage of that word among speakers of that language. Sometimes a word can have more than one meaning, and the usage inquiry is determined in context. So how do we find out what the usage is? The best way to find that out is by consulting a dictionary. Are people like Larry Moran and Bob OH free to use words in an idiosyncratic way? Of course they are. But it is stupid for them to insist that their idiosyncratic usage actually defines the word for the rest of us.

  15. 15
    Mung says:

    Could you imagine what it would be like to have a real dinosaur poop on your head?

  16. 16
    aarceng says:

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Therefore if Charlie can take one step in London he can walk all the way to New York.

  17. 17
    ET says:

    Barry, I am not arguing I am just telling you what they think-

    They are using the word in a way to suggest birds and dinosaurs are separated by generations along the same lineage. That birds are modern, evolved versions of the former dinosaurs.

    It’s like that game “electricity” where everyone in the chain is connected as one. Each node (person) is the same as every other node along the link (nodal analysis). Evolutionists have an imagined link from birds to dinosaurs so to them it’s all the same. Notice that they will also refer to humans as apes. The Zachriel is famous for that.

  18. 18
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry, I think you missed my question in between your dinosaur apostasy, so here it is again:

    There are no dinosaurs. Therefore, the competence of blind, unguided mechanical forces to transform the biosphere from a place where dinosaurs were common to a place where dinosaurs exist not at all is indisputably established.

    Barry, can you point to someone making this argument?

  19. 19
    Bob O'H says:

    JAD @ 11 – No, nessie is definitely NOT a bird. 🙂

  20. 20
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob @ 19.

    [sigh] Here ya go: https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/11/is-it-a-theory-is-it-a-law-no-its-a-fact/

    Notice how Dawkins asserts that Darwin’s asserted mechanism is a fact, not a theory.

  21. 21
    ET says:

    Bob O’H- All evolutionists make that argument. For example we “know” vision systems evolved because the original life forms didn’t have them and today’s do.

  22. 22
    Mung says:

    Bob O’H- All evolutionists make that argument. For example we “know” vision systems evolved because the original life forms didn’t have them and today’s do.

    Finding an eye in the Cambrian would falsify evolution. Oh. Wait.

  23. 23
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 20 – In the link, where does Dawkins argue “There are no dinosaurs. Therefore, the competence of blind, unguided mechanical forces to transform the biosphere from a place where dinosaurs were common to a place where dinosaurs exist not at all is indisputably established.”? I don’t see that he does.

    UD Editors: Bob, if you are unable to grasp the gist of an argument and determine whether a summary of that argument captures the gist, we are unable to help you. Move along.

    Please, can you give me a link to something that actually argues that?

  24. 24
    john_a_designer says:

    Just because birds may have evolved FROM dinosaurs it does not necessarily follow that they ARE dinosaurs. However, even the hypothesis they evolved from dinosaurs may be in doubt.

    Researchers have made a fundamental new discovery about how birds breathe and have a lung capacity that allows for flight — and the finding means it’s unlikely that birds descended from any known theropod dinosaurs…

    During walking and running in birds, hindlimb movement is generated primarily at the knee and ankle joints; in humans, movement occurs at the knee, ankle and hip joints. The bird’s thigh does not move substantially from its nearly horizontal position where it provides rigid lateral support to the thin walled air-sacs of the respiratory system…

    The conclusions add to other evolving evidence that may finally force many paleontologists to reconsider their long-held belief that modern birds are the direct descendants of ancient, meat-eating dinosaurs, OSU researchers say…

    “Frankly, there’s a lot of museum politics involved in this, a lot of careers committed to a particular point of view even if new scientific evidence raises questions,” [said John Ruben, an OSU professor of zoology.] In some museum displays, he said, the birds-descended-from-dinosaurs evolutionary theory has been portrayed as a largely accepted fact, with an asterisk pointing out in small type that “some scientists disagree.”

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609092055.htm

    In other words, it is not a universally accepted fact that birds evolved from dinosaurs. But even if that were true, it is completely unwarranted and logically fallacious to argue that because birds evolved FROM dinosaurs they ARE dinosaurs.

  25. 25
    mullers_ratchet says:

    is completely unwarranted and logically fallacious to argue that because birds evolved FROM dinosaurs they ARE dinosaurs

    taxonomically, this is pretty much the definition of being a dinosaur. A group is defined as a particular ancestor and all of descendants. So, anything that evolved from a dinosaur is a dinosaur.

  26. 26
    Seversky says:

    @

    Evolution is a Fact! Depending on what one means by “evolution,” of course it is. There are no living dinosaurs. This leads to the indisputable conclusion that the earth’s biosphere has “evolved” from a place where dinosaurs were common to a place where dinosaurs exist not at all. “Evolution” in this sense is an indisputable fact.

    Stepeh Jay Gould put it this way:

    Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein’s theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered.

    Materialists shamelessly trade on an equivocation between the “fact” of evolution in this sense and the “fact” of a materialist account of evolution. There are no dinosaurs. Therefore, the competence of blind, unguided mechanical forces to transform the biosphere from a place where dinosaurs were common to a place where dinosaurs exist not at all is indisputably established.

    Fossil evidence shows that the dinosaurs were the dominant life form on the planet until they were erased by one cataclysmic event or possibly a combination of environmental catastrophes. The environmental niches left vacant were subsequently filled by other animals. Either they were shipped in by some alien intelligence intending to re-stock the planet or some natural process like evolution did the job. If you can find evidence of alien intervention then we’d love to hear about it. Otherwise, we’re left with ” blind, unguided mechanical forces”

    Suppose we know that at one time Charlie was in London. We know that Charlie is presently in New York. It is an indisputable fact that Charlie’s location changed from London to New York. Now suppose that someone were to say the fact that Charlie’s location changed from London to New York establishes as an indisputable fact that Charlie took a voyage on the Queen Mary II. It is not hard to see how absurd that assertion is. Yet the two cases are identical in that they both confuse certainty about the fact of a particular change with certainty about how that change came about.

    If there were no other way for Charlie to get from London to New York other than by sea then is highly probable that is what happened. Whether it was on the QMII or some other ship may be undetermined but that doesn’t change our confidence in the explanation that the journey was by sea. If someone claimed that Charlie definitely traveled on the QMII we would need more evidence to establish that more specific claim as a certainty.

    In the case of Charlie’s travels, that absurdity would be compounded if we knew that Charlie was in London only twelve hours ago. It is impossible for the QMII to travel between England and the United States in twelve hours. With this new information, therefore, we have a very good reason to discard “passage by Queen Mary II” as a possible means by which Charlie’s change in location came about.

    Again there are parallels with the evolution debate. The Cambrian Explosion occurred in a geological blink of an eye. That is why Darwin himself cited it as a major objection to his theory. Darwin thought that objection would be answered eventually, but it has not.

    We know for certain that no ocean liner yet built could cross the Atlantic in 12 hours. The duration of the Cambrian Explosion may have been a “blink of an eye” on geological timescales but 25-40 million years is a really long time by our standards. We have no reason for thinking that the expansion of life-forms recorded in the fossils from that period was impossible by the known processes of evolution. If you have a better alternative, of course, then let’s hear it.

  27. 27
    john_a_designer says:

    If it’s true that because birds evolved FROM dinosaurs they ARE dinosaurs, then according to that logic, if mammals evolved FROM reptiles they ARE reptiles.

    [Therapsid of the order (Therapsida) of synapsid reptiles that flourished during the Permian and Triassic periods with the last forms becoming extinct during the Cretaceous period and that are considered ancestors of the mammals.]

    My point here is not to derail the thread by starting a debate about dinosaurs but to argue the Barry is not necessarily wrong when he argues, “There are no dinosaurs.” He was using it as an example of group of species going extinct, which is an example of evolutionary change. Are extinctions not an example of evolutionary change? His point: “The indisputable fact of change is asserted as the same thing as the indisputable fact of a particular means by which the change came about.” He then goes on to argue that it is absurd to insist that the mere “fact of the change in the biosphere is the same thing as the indisputable fact of a particular materialist means by which the change came about is compounded if there are very good reasons to believe that means asserted – Darwinian gradualism – is not up to the task of bringing about the change observed.”

    In other words, just because there is a major change in the biosphere it is not enough to establish what the mechanism was behind that change. For example, the fact of change does not that establish that it was the result of Darwinian evolution.

  28. 28
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev,

    Fossil evidence shows that the dinosaurs were the dominant life form on the planet until they were erased by one cataclysmic event or possibly a combination of environmental catastrophes

    .

    Can you explain this to Bob OH? He thinks dinosaurs are still all around us.

  29. 29
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev,

    If you can find evidence of alien intervention then we’d love to hear about it. Otherwise, we’re left with ” blind, unguided mechanical forces”

    If you can find evidence that “blind, unguided mechanical forces,” have the capacity to create elegant semantic code, staggeringly complex nano-machines, and irreducibly complex structures, then we would love to hear about it. Remember, we want you to actually demonstrate it, not assume it, which is what materialists have been doing for over 150 years now. Otherwise, we are left with “design by intelligent agent” as the best explanation.

  30. 30
    ET says:

    Well, evolution is a theory.

    Not in the scientific sense.

    And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered.

    If only that was a testable claim. You would think that chimps and humans being so genetically similar, something like 98%+ similar, that biologists could easily link the genetic differences to the anatomical and physiological differences observed. Especially if 90% of the genome is junk. And yet no one can. No one knows of a mechanism capable of producing the changes necessary.

    Throwing time and generations at the problem isn’t going to make it go away.

    Better alternative? Blind and mindless processes isn’t an alternative. It has nothing to offer. It can’t be tested and relies on nothing but sheer dumb luck. And even Dawkins says science can only allow so much of that. Evolution by means of blind and mindless processes is sheer dumb luck all the way down. Materialism is sheer dumb luck all the way down.

    At least Intelligent Design makes testable claims. And ID gives materialists all of the power. If they can ever demonstrate the efficacy of blind and mindless processes in producing what ID says required a Designer, they win due to Occam’s razor (Newton’s 4 Rules of Scientific Investigation).

    So if all we are left with are ” blind, unguided mechanical forces”, then science is screwed, details will never be forthcoming and biological evolution becomes nothing but a fantasy-like narrative.

  31. 31
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev,

    We have no reason for thinking that the expansion of life-forms recorded in the fossils from that period was impossible by the known processes of evolution.

    Yes, actually, we do. That’s why Darwin knew the Cambrian explosion was a huge problem for his theory. And the problem has gotten worse, not better, since 1859. Sev, your attempt to just “assert” away the problem of the CE is kind of pathetic. Do you have evidence?

  32. 32
    Barry Arrington says:

    JAD:

    If it’s true that because birds evolved FROM dinosaurs they ARE dinosaurs, then according to that logic, if mammals evolved FROM reptiles they ARE reptiles.

    Let’s go all in. If there was a universal common ancestor as many or most materialist evolutionists believe, then all living species evolved from that singled celled UCA. Then under Bob’s logic all species that have ever lived are UCAs.

  33. 33
    Origenes says:

    In the words of the Harvard chemist George Whitesides:

    “How remarkable is life? The answer is: very. Those of us who deal in networks of chemical reactions know of nothing like it. How could a chemical sludge become a rose, even with billions of years to try?”

  34. 34
    Latemarch says:

    Seversky@26

    Fossil evidence shows that the dinosaurs were the dominant life form on the planet until they were erased by one cataclysmic event or possibly a combination of environmental catastrophes. The environmental niches left vacant were subsequently filled by other animals. Either they were shipped in by some alien intelligence intending to re-stock the planet or some natural process like evolution did the job. If you can find evidence of alien intervention then we’d love to hear about it. Otherwise, we’re left with ” blind, unguided mechanical forces”

    This is known as an “either or” fallacy. Either my preferred explanation or a fanciful option that everyone knows is ridiculous.
    How about this, the catastrophic event is Noah’s flood and after the flood the dinosaurs that Noah carried on the ark didn’t do well in the post flood environment of an ice age and thus went extinct.
    Parsimonious and it has the advantage of historical evidence of an ice age. As well as evidence that archaeology continues to affirm the biblical narrative. No aliens required.

  35. 35
    ET says:

    How do we get from a mere change in allele frequency over time, to the proliferation of “certain properties that increase the probability of survival”*, to new body plans and new body parts?

    (*”Actually, survival is not a property of the organism but only an indication of the existence of certain survival-favoring attributes. To be fit means to possess certain properties that increase the probability of survival“- Mayr, Ernst; 2001; page118, discussing natural selection being non-random and clarifying what is meant by the “survival of the fittest”)

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    Until you have a sound, empirically grounded answer to the blind chance and/or mechanical necessity origin of the functionally specific, complex organisation and [large quantities of] associated information required to make a flying bird, creating a definition based on imposing an assumption as above is simply grand question-begging.

    Your empirically and analytically sound answer (as opposed to ideologically correct talking points] is: _____ .

    Making a crooked yardstick your standard of — and definition for — straightness and accuracy in length is in the end mind-closing, question-begging, ill advised and ruinous.

    KF

  37. 37
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 32 – that’s not the logic I would use, so please don’t ascribe it to me. If for no other reason than it makes you look uninformed.

  38. 38
    daveS says:

    Bob O’H,

    Pardon the dumb question, but the property “is a UCA” is not hereditary, while “is a dinosaur” could be hereditary—is that correct?

    Back to the original question, I was doing some googling just now and ran across this quote, and learned something new:

    Bird are dinosaurs not just because they evolved from dinosaurs, but because they are more closely related to some of the extinct dinosaurs than those dinosaurs are to each other!

  39. 39
    john_a_designer says:

    Barry @ 32,

    I don’t think that Bob would be that foolish to make such an argument. (Indeed, he has just said so himself.) Nevertheless, at least from what I have seen, he doesn’t seem to understand the difference between making a valid argument and just being argumentative.

    Of course, being argumentative is a good way to obfuscate and obstruct if you don’t like what the other guys are saying. Of course he’s not alone. Very few of our regular interlocutors are here to make good faith arguments.

  40. 40
    Bob O'H says:

    daveS @38 – yes, that’s about it. Of course, “is a dinosaur” is a classification we make, so taxonomy has a rule that “if X is in clade Y, then a ll of its descendants are too”.

    JAD – I would love to have made a valid argument, but Barry won’t back up his claims. That birds are dinosaurs is now accepted by almost all biologists (some of the evidence is described here). I guess Barry wasn’t aware of this.

  41. 41
    ET says:

    Birds are birds and dinosaurs are dinosaurs. Only wishful thinking has the two related via common descent.

    “Oh but ET the genetics!” When someone can link the genetics to the anatomical and physiological differences between the two groups only then will the genetics support the claim. As of now not one biologist has been able to do so. And as a matter of fact not one biologist knows what makes a bird a bird other than a chick arises from an egg of a successfully mated pair of birds. The same goes for dinosaurs.

    And if you don’t know what actually determines the type of organism that will develop you don’t know what to change in order to change the type of organism that will develop.

    But evolutionists don’t care cuz they have a good story and that is all they were after.

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