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October 2014: Events that made a difference to ID

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Further to September 2014 (and to Barry’s suggestion that readers kindly remember Uncommon Descent in their year end giving tax receipt) – via the Donate button (our Christmas stocking) on the main page):

My sense is that we are making some headway against what Leon Wieseltier has referred to as Darwinist dittoheads, and I’d like to point to some more stories, this time from October 2014, that explain why:

Even establishment science media are now moving to recognize the problems with Darwinian evolution theory.

First, as Barry Arrington put it,

No Bomb After 10 Years

I have been studying the origins issue for 22 years, and I have been debating the origins issue with literally hundreds of Darwinists for a decade. Here’s a brief report:

I have to admit that when I first started debating the origins issue I did so with some trepidation. After all, there are a lot of highly educated, credentialed, intelligent professionals who say they believe the Darwinian narrative. To tell the truth, when I first started debating origins, I assumed not only that there was a very good chance that I was on the wrong side of the debate, but also that one or more of those highly educated, credentialed, intelligent professionals would come along and drop a science bomb on me that would destroy my naïve belief in ID.

UD has 47,782 registered users. Some of those are duplicates, but it is safe to assume that over 40,000 unique individuals have commented on this site. And I think it is safe to assume also that at least one of those 40,000 individuals is the highly educated, credentialed, intelligent professional who, if they could, would drop a science bomb on me that would destroy my naïve belief in ID.

Ten years later, 40,000 commenters later. No bomb. I’m beginning to think that maybe there isn’t a bomb. Maybe my confidence in ID is not naïve after all.

No indeed. It is difficult to swim against a flood tide of bilge, but apparently not impossible. After all, we did it, and we make no great claims for ourselves.

– First, with respect to ID and the importance of high levels of information in life forms—and of information theory in understanding them: In Guillermoe: Champion of Abductive Reasoning at the Heart of the Design Inference, Barry underlines the importance of understanding abductive reasoning:

Abductive reasoning is different from deductive reasoning. In deductive reasoning if the premises are true the conclusion follows necessarily as a matter of logic. But even if the premise of the abductive inference is true (rain the previous night makes my lawn wet in the morning), the conclusion might nevertheless be false. It is possible, for example, that someone drove a water tanker and sprayed my lawn with water. Thus, an abductive inference is not logically compelled like a deductive conclusion. That is why it is called “inference to the BEST explanation,” not “inference to the only explanation”. Note that when a particular cause X is the only known cause of a particular effect Y, the abductive inference is much stronger.

See also: How is ID Different?

Of course he, and all of us, have had to deal with ramped up distortions, as in, for example: Sorry Tin, Nature Does Not Do CSI.

You see, Tin, it does no good to criticize a distorted caricature of ID. Say you were in a gunfight and opposing you down the street were a life-sized cardboard image of the bad guy and the actual bad guy. Which one would you shoot at? I hope you see my point. Go study ID Tin until you actually understand it. Then, if after your studies you still want to criticize it, by all means do so. But if you continue to shoot at the cardboard image, don’t be surprised when you look down and find your arguments are lying on the ground bleeding.

Indeed, re Dembski’s recent talk based on his new book, Being as Communion, Darwin stalwart PZ Myers is not short of an opinion, only of useful ideas.

As a commenter noted,

Joe Felsenstein chides Dembski for a lack of evidence yet Joe has never presented any evidence for natural selection actually doing something. The point is no one can refute Dembski without providing that evidence. PZ cannot offer up any evidence tat refutes Dembski, that’s a certainty

In any event, as another commenter put it, “Demski’s talk could not be compressed into 144 characters or less.”

Well no. After all, the book isn’t about Kim Kardashian’s shoes.

Oh and, there was also a little drama in the aisles as well: Shoutout to Tom English: How much of the animus you display against Marks and Dembski is scholarly?

Meanwhile, a Large Hadron Collider physics prof tells college kids that the universe shows evidence of design, and still has a job. Last we heard, anyway.

See also: Intelligent Design Basics – Information – Part IV – Shannon II, to get up to speed, with Eric Anderson. Also try: an introduction to information theory and ID, for a much more leisurely ride. Plus, here’s a paper for you if you are interested in pro level information science.

–- There was a lot happening in Darwinian evolution theory too—but it wasn’t good for the theory. Top science mag Nature says a rethink is needed:

The number of biologists calling for change in how evolution is conceptualized is growing rapidly. Strong support comes from allied disciplines, particularly developmental biology, but also genomics, epigenetics, ecology and social science1, 2. We contend that evolutionary biology needs revision if it is to benefit fully from these other disciplines. The data supporting our position gets stronger every day.

This should be no surprise, to the extent that at least some people at Nature, want to connect with the real world. The stories we had been covering for years have made the need for a rethink pretty plain. The people calling for change must have been catching the same drift. Here’s Rob Sheldon on the muted response to Nature’s suggested evolution rethink.

New Atlantis also dumped on the hard Darwinism of Dawkins and Dennett. As Barry Arrington observed in Engineering Tradeoffs and the Vacuity of “Fitness,”

Over at The New Atlantis Stephen L. Talbott has a great discussion of the vacuity of the idea of “fitness” as used in Darwinian theory. As we all know, Darwinian theory “predicts” that the “fittest” organisms will survive and leave more offspring. And what makes an organism “fit” under the theory? Why, the fact that it survived and left offspring. There is an obvious circularity here:

Not only that, but Talbott’s career is apparently safe (so far as we know). That’s another straw in the wind. Compared to 15 years ago, it is becoming increasingly safer to just say: This makes no sense. We need new theory.

Interesting that some online thinkmags are experimenting with ideas their deadtree predecessors would not touch, not seriously anyway. Besides which, there is also: Evolution driven by laws? Not random mutations? (Darwinian evolution):

So claims a recent book, Arrival of the Fittest, by Andreas Wagner, professor of evolutionary biology at U Zurich in Switzerland (also associated with the Santa Fe Institute). He lectures worldwide and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences.

The big issue right now is twofold:  Darwinian evolution is not a correct theory but worse,  it doesn’t need to be. It only needs to satisfy the career and emotional needs of followers.

Still, the world is changing: Someone has noticed, for example, what “evolutionary science” has become, and laughed. From The BAHfest (Bad Ad Hoc hypothesis):

The inspiration for BAHFest came from a 2013 comic strip drawn by Zach Weinersmith, of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal fame. In the strip in question, a professor stands in front of a packed auditorium and declares that babies are shaped like footballs and have more bendable bones than adults, because primitive man wanted to spread his genes as widely as possible—by punting babies from village to village. This, the professor explains, also accounts for babies’ smooth skin and hairlessness, both necessary for good aerodynamics.

Well, that could certainly have been published in an evo psych journal. But perhaps not everyone wishes to spend their career scrounging Darwin’s wastebasket.

See also: Is “Natural Selection” a Superior Explanation?, More pushback against evolutionary biology’s takeover by nonsense?, and Biophysics, not Darwinism, explains ammonite shell shape

– Flash! Hollywood Flash! The media romance with Neil deGrasse Tyson is off? Naw. Can’t be. Look, we dunno. But … Apparently, people started calling him out a on a fabricated quotation from a former U.S. president, Bush 43. All we know is, people don’t do that to a fellow when the romance is still on. He probably earned some demerit points by dissing philosophy. Look, even Stephen Hawking took heat for that. Here’s William Lane Craig on Tyson’s dismissal of philosophy.

But here is a sobering possibility: What difference, at this point, does it make if Tyson fabricates quotes? In a world where our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth, his narrative is as good as any other and convinced his base. Maybe that’s all that matters now. In any event, here’s An unofficial guide to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos remake.

See also: January 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  (My sense is that we are making some headway against what Leon Wieseltier has referred to as Darwinist dittoheads.)

February 2014: Events that made a difference to ID   We are definitely past having to care what Christians for Darwin think.

March 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  Old, taken-for-granted “truths” are collapsing; an information theory approach may help us forward.

April 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  Despite these developments, naturalists would prefer chaos and nonsense to signals that point away from naturalism.

May 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  BUT then things took a really odd turn: It turned out that everyone who doubts Wade’s race theories is a creationist. Hey, is “creationist” the new “think for yourself”?

June 2014: Events that made a difference to ID In June we began to think seriously about William Dembski’s then upcoming Being as Communion, a more philosophical look at design in nature

July 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  Among many other events, a UD Post where a famous chemist says no scientist understands “macroevolution” passed 200,000 views.

August 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  Famous Darwin follower, Jerry “Why evolution is true” Coyne, was really mad that information theorist William Dembski is allowed to speak at his fort, Fort Chicago University

September 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  It was becoming obvious that those who know the facts need no longer be defensive about doubting the spin.

November 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  Not only has the kill-ID bomb not exploded, but lots of people besides us are beginning to notice that fact.

December 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  Fake Facebook pages started in an attempt to discredit ID theorists. (People fake Rolexes, not Timexes.)

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