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Mohamed Noor: Evolution is True Because We Say So

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Today’s first set of lectures in Mohamed Noor’s Introduction to Genetics and Evolutioncourse would seem downright bizarre to anyone not familiar with evolutionary thinking. Noor is teaching this course via through the coursera on-line service and the Earl D. McLean Professor and Associate Chair of Biology at Duke University is maximizing accessibility to his material by minimizing the course prerequisites. Non specialists are welcome and many newcomers to evolutionary thought, now seeing what is—or should we say what isn’t—have sunk back in their chairs with blank stares wondering what in the world evolutionists such as Noor are thinking.  Read more

Eric Anderson. Your right. Darwin made a lot about replacing fixity of biology by the island stuff. Yet who really believed there was not migrations to minor places. He was impressed also by the island differences. He could of looked at people. We didn't evolve but yes there must be mechanisms to bring diversity. Creationists need mechanisms but not unlikely and impossible mechanisms of glorious mutations being selected on and add time and bubbles to buffalos occurs. Naw! Robert Byers
I've completed Week 1 (trying to catch up) and I thought for the most part, I agree with what was said. But that's because for the most part, Dr. Noor was talking about a bland catch-all evolution, and the supposed criticisms of evolution that he brought up in video 1.4 were softballs, including a Christine O'Donnell quote. He also glazes over the vanilla version of the question most of us are interested in, which he phrases as "Too much change for evolution to explain". When he went into detail, showing how long the evolution of dogs has taken (1000 years) compared to how long life has been on Earth and putting it into perspective using 1 mm vs 3.5 km, he said the following:
We can’t conceive of the scale of time, and that’s why people are very unwilling to accept that you could get so much change. You can’t conceive of the scale that we’re talking about.
Maybe some people who have not seriously tried to reason through this profound question, Dr. Noor, but us in the ID community are deeply interested in the "scale that we're talking about", i.e. the available information generating resources of the known universe. His interview with Dr. Coyne went more directly into the topic of ID, and it was the same stuff we've heard a thousand times. He basically equated ID with supernaturalism, god-of-the-gaps, etc. I obviously didn't expect some type of truly interesting argument against ID in this class, as we have been ravenously searching for that for more than a decade now, so I will continue to study this course. I think the remaining 9 weeks will be much more interesting just from the standpoint that I may actually learn something each week. Looking forward to it, actually. I do appreciate Dr. Noor taking the time the put this course together. uoflcard
Robert Byers. You make an excellent point (notwithstanding the use of '1's and '0's which make reading a bit interesting). :) Even outside the question of a biblical flood, there is no reason why a creator of life couldn't start life at one or a few locations and then allow them to expand and migrate, rather than creating each and every species at every specific location. The island discussion that evolutionists think is such great evidence is really a red herring and is only useful for countering people who think that no migration happens and that there is absolute fixity of species. I don't know, maybe there were some people in Darwin's time who held such views, but probably no-one these days, so the island discussion is largely beside the point. Further, it only relates to microevolution anyway. Eric Anderson
F0r the rec0rd YEC be1ieves in a bibica1 f100d. S a creatures m0ved t0 their h0mes frm a singe starting pace. S it cud ny be that is1ands were c010nized by migrat0ns and n0t specia1 creati0ns. I sh0udnt have t0 say this but Darwin and 0thers seem t0 think they make a g00d case because its n0t a g00d case t0 have critters n i1sands 0ut 0f n0where! Robert Byers
JoeCoder, Nick is a strawman fabricator, equivocator and mostly confused. I too, find that interesting. So we are in agreement. I would love Nick to step up and provide a testable hypothesis, along with testable predictions. That we would know what he accepts and he couldn't backpeddle once we demonstrate ID meets HIS standards. Joe
@Joe Monoculture is a dangerous thing, and Nick keeps things interesting around here. I disagree with most of what he posts, but I still enjoy his contributions. JoeCoder
It is very noticeable that Nick matzke always runs always runs away rather than dealing with the tough questions. I am getting the impression that believing in evolutionism turns one into a coward. Joe
Nick Matzke, How can unguided evolution be a better explanation when it can't even produce a testable hypothesis and predictions? So perhaps you should focus on that. Joe
Just to clarify: Im affirming that if some organism has an intermediate structure (e.g. lobe fins), he can be considered in intermediate between two forms. This is to point out the use of modern and old living beings as intermediates the way they want. MaxAug
I think a few things Dr. Mohamed says or implies in the videos may be interpreted as contradictions: Week 01: On intermediate forms: Vid 03: "We expect transitions between ancient forms and modern forms. We don't expect things that are connecting modern day forms to each other. That would be more like a hybrid than an evolutionary chain." Vid 04: "We often hear people say, well we don't see intermediates to eyes. Well in fact, even the single celled organism here, the Euglena, has an eye spot photo-receptor. A simple photo-receptor is probably what was the first step into evolving what we see as the modern eye." In other words, we can consider and don’t consider present living forms as intermediates or having intermediate structures. If some organism has an intermediate structure (e.g. lobe fins), he can be considered in intermediate between two forms. On God and the supernatural: Vid 04: …”this idea that evolution is of itself or the teaching of evolution denies the existence of God. Absolutely untrue, in fact, there is no intrinsic theism or atheism in anything we've discussed. Vid 05 (interview with Jerry Coyne, quotes from him): “But I think that in the next 50 years we'll be able to replicate the origin of life or not replicate it but get the origin of life in the laboratory under proto life conditions, those that are obtained at the beginning of. Of life about 3.5 billion years ago. And that'll answer the question that it couldn't have occurred naturally, that doesn't tell us how it did occur naturally. And that question may forever elude us. But it will at least eliminate the common objection that because life couldn't have originated naturally, it must have been done by God or some other supernatural agents.” […] “And the whole history of science it's been wondering which supernatural explanations have been continuously discarded one after the other. So now the situation is we don't really consider them, not because they're not worth considering but because they've never shown themselves to be useful in understanding any phenomena. But I'm still willing to consider them, if something happened, you know, if prayer worked, but it was only Jewish prayers, the Catholics prayers, or of, you know. If telepathy seemed to work or spiritual healing seemed to work, then I for one would be willing to consider the supernatural. But so far there's been no reason to do that, so.” There are also a bunch of comments on bad design, but these are enough for today. MaxAug
Eric Anderson: "This first week is heavy on indoctrination." Just watched it all. Yup! AussieID
What’s YOUR explanation for the lack of mammals, amphibians, etc., on oceanic islands, Cornelius? If God created new “kinds”, why did he leave those kinds off of oceanic islands? This is one of innumerable facts that makes sense on the theory of evolution, and doesn’t make sense under special creation. Or if you don’t like special creation, present another explanation. Or shut up and admit that evolutionists have the best available explanation, and it will remain the best one until someone presents a better one.
AussieID's response illustrates that your argument is based on theological premises. AussieID doesn't buy it. Others will. In fact many will find it to be quite powerful. I agree with you that evolutionists have the best available explanation, given their religious beliefs. There is no better explanation, and calling it a fact in that case is valid. So your conclusion is that the biological world (and as long as we're at it, everything else for that matter) arose spontaneously, by chance events under natural law. There's only one way one would not only accept, but mandate, such a narrative. There's only one thing powerful enough to motivate that. It's religion. I'm agreeing with you that the narrative is powerful, and that evolutionists have the best available explanation, given their religious beliefs. Also, I'm not saying the narrative is false. Maybe you're spot on. But it's religious, and it is anti realistic. From a scientific perspective, it makes little sense. Yes you draw on all kinds of scientific evidence, but it is all passed through the metaphysical filter. With that filter removed, it is no better than those veering atoms of old. I think you know all this. But from your comments you clearly are convinced of the metaphysics. Like all evolutionists (and creationists, and many others) you are synthesizing. You're combining empirical evidence with metaphysical assumptions. You're just so convinced of your metaphysics that it doesn't even seem like metaphysics to you. It is just good, solid reasoning. As Alfred North Whitehead once observed, we often take our most crucial assumptions to be obvious and in no need of justification. These underlying assumptions are unspoken and undefended because, as Whitehead put it, “Such assumptions appear so obvious that people do not know what they are assuming because no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them.” So you see Nick, it is you, not I, who brings the religion. You're just so convinced of it that you don't even consider it religion. And when someone like myself won't go along with your religion, which seems to true and obvious, then you accuse us of bringing the religion. Can you see what's going on? Cornelius Hunter
Nick, everyone knows evolution is true if you define it as loosely as evolutionists often like to do (and Noor did), namely: change over time. Then provide a few examples here and there, and viola, we have proven evolution. Peppered moths, finch beaks, different populations on islands, and so on. All examples of micro adaptations (at most an occasional speciation event, if we define species rather narrowly). You can call this "evolution," but the deceptive thing about doing so is that you also use the term "evolution" to describe the whole grand creative process that, allegedly, brought everything about in the first place. One of the keys, as you well know, to maintaining the rhetorical dominance of the theory is to provide evidence of inconsequential things at one end of the spectrum and then claim that they "prove" evolution, which of course is understood to mean far different things at the other end of the spectrum. This is nothing new. This tactic has been going on since day one. Noor is simply parroting the line and Hunter is calling him on it. Eric Anderson
G'day Nick, I live on an island. Nice one too. If I have understood your point correctly, (and often I don't) you are essentially saying, 'If God exists, He should have done it the way I would do it!' Not so. I'll explain. If I have a chess board and you notice that there are many squares without pieces, would you likely say that the chess board is incomplete because all the squares are not filled with a diversity of pieces? I'd hope not. Just because a square hasn't got a piece on it 'yet' doesn't mean that it won't later. The game of chess works on programmed movements (or haphazard ones!). Just because the square never has a piece doesn't mean the game has a weakness. Because my island is endemic with macropods and monotremes, and where you live does not, does that mean there is something faulty with your scientific synthesis? Because I find Cubism in one continent and not on others does that conflict with art theory? Because I find a dearth of baseball where I live but reams of cricketers in white, does that conflict with sporting history? Because baseball has done exceptionally well in Japan, outdoing 'native' bat-ball culture, does that mean it should/should not have occured? Because cricket hasn't achieved real inroads there, does that disharmonise your theory? MY answer to why there is a lack of:'mammals, amphibians, etc., on oceanic islands" is this: Some animals don't get there because they aren't going that way. That's OK. Some animals make it there and thrive. That's OK. Some come later and either thrive or die. That's OK. If you're talking God, then having the same everywhere is ... boring. Variety is cool. Why have the same thing everywhere? If you are talking plain science, then your point is weak. AussieID
Nick, the quote mine you used just coughted up this bit:
At this point Noor’s presentation was increasingly incoherent. He didn’t attempt to provide predictions or otherwise explain how this biogeographical evidence confirmed evolution as he claimed it did.
IOW, Noor claimed this was evidence that evolution is true, without bothering to explain why. Mung
I tried to leave the following comment on Hunter's blog post, but I got the following:
Comments on this blog are restricted to team members
. Here's what I wanted to say: Hunter writes,
"Noor followed this with examples from biogeography. Oceanic islands have many native birds and insects, but lack native mammals, amphibians, and freshwater fish. And new species introduced to the islands competed very well. Also, these islands often have species that are similar to those on the nearest mainland."
What's YOUR explanation for the lack of mammals, amphibians, etc., on oceanic islands, Cornelius? If God created new "kinds", why did he leave those kinds off of oceanic islands? This is one of innumerable facts that makes sense on the theory of evolution, and doesn't make sense under special creation. Or if you don't like special creation, present another explanation. Or shut up and admit that evolutionists have the best available explanation, and it will remain the best one until someone presents a better one. NickMatzke_UD
I think the first week was supposed to remove any doubt that evolution is true, from now it that’s to be accepted as fact. So don’t expect the remainder of the course to actually provide any evidence. Mung
To be honest, the first lectures were disapponting for me: it seems like a course on "I believe in Darwinism and so should you". My real interest is to learn more on population genetics, but if things don't change I'll finish the course just because it is for free. Sorry for the bad joke, but seems like Dr. Mohamed in playing false prophet really well. MaxAug
Mung, just you sayin it's true don't make it true! However, when the Creator Himself speaks, I'm all ears. tjguy
I'm all signed up and ready to LEARN! Looks like the weekend is gonna be filled up with theory. Thanks to Jonathan M for spotting this opportunity to be led by an enthusiastic and acknowledged presenter of evolutionary theory. Thanks too to Eric as I would also like to begin this course and, like a stage play, appreciate everything that the drama may offer. Although I come with a certain set of scientific beliefs and will be presented with another, I want to capture the 'best' that the brightest can offer. Let's learn, appreciate and discover if the evidence will convince. AussieID
But evolution is true. Mung
The Christian bible says otherwise. Whoops. Darwin is God and Mohamed is his prophet! Actually there is a aggressive scholarly Islamic criticism to evolution here and there. Robert Byers
Eric Anderson, thank you for the level-headed response. These are my sentiments as well. JoeCoder
Couple of thoughts: This first week is heavy on indoctrination. The rest of the course looks to be more objective (hopefully). The peppered moth: What can we say about the peppered moth that has not already been said? I guess it is OK to talk about it as an example of natural selection (I realize there are open issues regarding even this aspect, but I'm willing to grant for purposes of discussion that it is a valid example of natural selection in action). That is not the problem. The problem is using it as "proof" of some larger idea of evolution, something much more significant than just variations within a population. (BTW, the real takeaway from the peppered moth story is that under heavy selection pressure populations tend to survive by oscillating around a norm, without ultimately undergoing substantive change.) The key to all of this is that Professor Noor, as so many evolutionists, is making the mistake of thinking that everything they see is just a process of evolution. Thus if we see rather trivial examples of "evolution in action" it proves the whole story. It is remarkable that an otherwise intelligent individual can utterly fail to see the distinction between, say, "change over time" and "new body plans." But he is not alone. The rhetorical trick is using the same word, "evolution," to describe everything from the obvious and the well-supported to the outrageous and the wildly-speculative. The squirrels: I don't think we should make too much of the simplistic squirrel example. Look, his point was simply that if two variants in a population have a different reproductive rate then it will affect the ratio of the variants in the population. That is perfectly true. I don't begrudge him that point. The problem, again, is using that as "proof" of some larger theory-of-everything kind of evolution. Finally, I think we should cut Professor Noor some slack. It is only the first week. He is a true believer and probably needs to lay out some of the basic evolutionary doctrine in the first week. Let's see how the rest of the course plays out and evaluate it as a whole before we completely trash what he is presenting. Eric Anderson
JoeCoder: I am participating in the General "Discussion/Professor Noor Makes Several Mistakes" thread. Cornelius Hunter
Dr. Hunter, do you plan to participate in the class discussions? JoeCoder
I won't have time to go through the lectures until this weekend, but I did peek ahead at the notes. I was surprised to see all the same arguments for Darwinism from wikipedia and talk origins, most being long-discredited by the design movement, as Dr. Hunter notes.
Students were astonished as Noor presented a cartoon example of a population of squirrels, some of which feared asphalt and so avoided being run over by automobiles, and the rest which did not fear asphalt and so were not able to leave as many offspring.
I wouldn't describe student reactions as "astonished". From the discussion forums, most seem to be buying it hook, like, and sinker. Although there is some dissension. JoeCoder
OT: William Lane Craig - "Eastwooding Richard Dawkins at Watermark" - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XZb8m7p8ng bornagain77
It's called "mass indoctrination" Joe

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