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Weird story: Darwin prof targets Discovery Institute

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[Update: A reader kindly writes to say re the post below: “Professor Dave is now claiming that this post represents some kind of official response from Discovery Institute. In fact, Discovery Institute has no affiliation with Uncommon Descent, and had no input or connection to this post. Just another one of the many things that Professor Dave is getting wrong right now!”

For the record, no. Uncommon Descent is not affiliated with the Discovery Institute. And never claimed to be.

While we are on the subject, with what institution of higher learning is “Professor Dave” associated? That would take far more research than discovering that Uncommon Descent is not associated with the Discovery Institute. Over to you [ courtesy here] “Professor” Dave.]

See, most Darwin profs aren’t very smart. They emit crap that they heard fifty years ago to students and if we are lucky, they remember to feed worms to the garter snakes in the class terrarium. But this guy has bigger ambitions.

“Professor Dave” (Dave Farina with 1.92 million YouTube subscribers) — has started a campaign against the Discovery Institute. His first video, attacking Casey Luskin, went up yesterday.

He plans more videos. He allowed the world to know his idea for this campaign on January 31, 2022, in an interview with another anti-ID YouTuber, the biology student Jackson Wheat:

A friend observes that “Professor Dave” presents himself as a science educator, but his hatred of Discovery (or anyone supporting design) is so great that, wildly swinging the broadsword of “science,” he chops off heads and limbs of would-be allies.

Take the term “Darwinism,” for instance. Dave claims “Darwinism” is “outdated” and “dishonest”:

Dave should let the leading origin-of-life researcher Steven Benner know. In his prestigious Mendel Lecture in Brno, Czech Republic, Benner uses, without hesitation, the very term Dave said was DI propaganda:

Isn’t Darwinism the Darwinist’s proudest boast? Didn’t even Lynn Margulis have to go along with it?

46 Replies to “Weird story: Darwin prof targets Discovery Institute

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    A wild unhinged enemy is the best kind of enemy. (Unless the wild enemy has control of a real army or real guns, but that’s not the case here.)

  2. 2
    Fasteddious says:

    It seems that “Professor Dave” did not learn from the drubbing he received from James Tour about the origin of life.

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    I think “Professor Dave” is right in that the term “Darwinism” implies – and is clearly intended to imply – that the theory of evolution is no more than some sort of mid-Victorian ideology that hasn’t moved on since 1859. I think he’s wasting his time in the sense that the word is now too well-established in the lexicon of ID/Creationism. Probably better to return the favor and refer to ID/C as neo-Paleyism.

  4. 4
    martin_r says:

    Exceptionally i have to agree with ‘professor’ Dave.
    Darwinism is an outdated and DISHONEST term …
    so let’s be honest, from now out let’s call it Moronism…

    From wikipedia:
    Noun. moronism (uncountable) (medicine, dated) The condition of being a moron (person of borderline intelligence).

  5. 5
    jerry says:

    Isn’t it about time that DI pushed the truth on Darwin and hopefully change the narrative?

    Darwin had a lot of ideas and some are fantastic science. They are the basics for genetics.

    1) variations happen to every species’ genome. 100% proven. Darwin did not know how these variations happened but he was right about them happening.

    2) these variations are inherited. 100% proven. He was unaware of the means of inheritance but right on that inheritance did happen.

    3) some of these variations get selected and become preponderant. 100% proven. He was unaware of all the factors affecting preservation of changes but natural selection is one of the outcomes of genetic changes and adaptation to the environment.

    As said, this is a major part of modern genetics.

    Many other ideas Darwin had have proven useless. That’s to be expected in any scientific venture.

    One of the ideas he had that proved useless was that these variations would accumulate and produce new systems or the basis for new species. That prediction failed utterly.

    So the DI should become positive on Darwin’s contributions even if they were very limited. Darwin’s idea turned out to only be relevant to DNA and DNA has nothing to do with Evolution. But it has everything to do with genetics.

    If such were the official position of DI, then people such as Weird Dave would have to defend the indefensible. Right now the DI is forced to defend that Darwin’s idea are irrelevant when they are definitely valid science.

  6. 6
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Take the term “Darwinism,” for instance. Dave claims “Darwinism” is “outdated” and “dishonest”:

    He’s trying to defend the good name of mindless-evolution against those who would smear it as having something to do with Darwin. Yes, that’s insulting.
    Plus, the DI is a bully, pushing its weight around.
    Thankfully, evolution has a science communicator with a BA in chemistry to try to defend it and enable it, hopefully, possibly, to survive.

  7. 7
    hnorman42 says:

    I first became acquainted with the term “Darwinism” through Michael Behe’s books in the early part of the century. At the time it seemed an appropriate way to distinguish between common descent and the blind watchmaker type of evolution. There may be many mechanisms of change but only natural selection was ever even represented as a mechanism that could answer Paley’s problem.

    I don’t think it’s important to keep the term “Darwinism” but it is very important to keep the debate free of equivocation. Actually, accusations of equivocation on this point have come from both sides.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    See weak arguments in the Resources tab

  9. 9
    hnorman42 says:

    What weak argument am I making? I think I’m on your side here.

  10. 10
    T2 says:

    From memory (I may be wrong), wasn’t the term “Darwinism” coined by Darwin’s co-disvoverer, Wallace?

  11. 11
    johnnyb says:

    The problem is obvious – they are Darwinists, but can’t admit to it. See, since the Discovery Institute is against Darwinism, the simple (and obvious) answer would be to simply say, “we agree with Discovery Institute that Darwinism is problematic, and will work with them to get rid of any remaining vestiges.” But, the response is always to attack *Discovery*. The reason is obvious – they may say they have gone “beyond” Darwinism, but, having had many, many conversations with such people, 95% of the time, even though they complain bitterly about the label, Darwinism is lurking beneath the surface.

    “There’s many new modes of evolution we have discovered since Darwin.” Okay. So, are these informationally-based modes or not? How did they come to exist in the first place? If they are complex modes of evolution, how did it work in the early days of evolution? As you dig beyond the first layer, you will quickly find Darwinism coming up again.

  12. 12
    jerry says:

    There’s many new modes of evolution we have discovered since Darwin.

    Obviously true.

    These are all part one of his ideas listed above. This is still Darwinian change. His basic ideas of 1859 are still very relevant even with all these new discoveries of how the genome changes. I’m sure we will find more.

    Why not acknowledge this?

    They definitely lead to change. They just don’t have anything to do with Evolution. Take the smart road with truth. It’s like the truth is a fate worse than death.

    A good analogy is Linus in the Charlie Brown cartoons. Trashing Darwin is like his blanket for most UD posters/commenters. Can’t live without it. But it may be preventing them from growing up.

  13. 13
    johnnyb says:

    Jerry –

    The ideas you mention are true, but they aren’t *unique* to Darwin. Many others before Darwin said so. If you are just saying, “Darwin included true things” that’s trivially true. We could probably say the same thing about flat-earthers. I’m sure they include trivially true, well-known statements as well. If that’s all that’s required to get your name in history books, we should prop up every third grader to Nobel status.

    What was unique to Darwin is that natural selection is capable of *producing* the intricacy we see in life. And that is precisely what we now know to be false. That’s why the term “Darwinism” is still worthwhile – it still precisely describes the intellectual program that is problematic.

  14. 14
    jerry says:

    The ideas you mention are true

    Everything I said is absolutely true.

    So who cares if others had some of the same ideas before him. And most of his ideas were wrong.

    Even with all his mistakes, it would be hard to argue that his ideas did not lead to many scientific discoveries. They just had nothing to do with Evolution.

    Also true, is the fixation on trashing Darwin. It’s counterproductive.

    Let me give you an analogy. Plato’s ideas led to the justification of slavery/serfdom for 2000 years. Yet Plato is held in high regard even though he was egregiously wrong on a very major idea.

    The Truth will set you free.

    Aside: what did all these scientific discoveries lead to. Certainly not to a greater understanding of Evolution. They led to modern day genetics. Along with the contributions of others

  15. 15
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Darwin needs to be taken down from the pedestal. What he contributed to science is minimal and, in fact, if he never existed his good ideas were already in circulation and would have continued without him. The damage he did to science and the world is not entirely his fault, but it is the fault of those who used him as an icon of materialist-atheism.
    Darwin is a mythological figure.
    It’s “counterproductive” to criticize Darwin because that’s how the narrative has been constructed. Creationists are bad, ignorant and laughable. Darwin is smart, good and progressive.

  16. 16
    asauber says:

    “Even with all his mistakes…”

    Jerry,

    You mean all of the “mistakes” the mass of unwashed get edumacated about in all the updated textbooks?

    Andrew

  17. 17
    jerry says:

    Everyone is missing the point.

    I am not trying to lionize Darwin. I am trying to limit his achievements. I know exactly what he has contributed but nearly everyone here believes the way to diminish him is by trashing him. When 99% of the world associates an obvious truth with him, a truth they believe is profound.

    That is “natural selection.” Want to come off as a looney, argue against “natural selection.” Anyone doing so will just reinforce the image of ID as fringe creationist science and will get nowhere.

    Take Darwin off the table as a negative person and his ideas can then be evaluated.

    Just as an example, someone wrote a book about 10 years ago on the ranking of most influential people in history. Darwin ranked 12th.

    Also someone published another list 3 years ago and he was 9th most influential person in history.

    So whatever is being done is definitely not working.

    As I said, trashing Darwin is counterproductive.

  18. 18
    asauber says:

    Jerry,

    I don’t think bashing Darwin-bashers is accomplishing anything, either.

    Andrew

  19. 19
    jerry says:

    I don’t think bashing Darwin-bashers is accomplishing anything, either

    I disagree.

    I bet if you ask anyone what they think of those who trash Darwin you will get an image of a kook. Bashing kooks is a common sport these days. Actually it always was.

    And they would be right. Natural Selection is a powerful and valid idea. Anyone who denies this is a kook.

    The truth is however, that while valid and powerful, natural selection has nothing to do with Evolution.

  20. 20
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Jerry

    I bet if you ask anyone what they think of those who trash Darwin you will get an image of a kook

    Not “anyone”. It depends who you ask. There are many people who think all religious believers are kooks. I’m not going to stop believing because they don’t like me.
    I know a lot of people who bash Darwin, It’s like bashing Karl Marx or Richard Dawkins. Those guys have their fan clubs also.

  21. 21
    asauber says:

    “I bet if you ask anyone what they think of those who trash Darwin you will get an image of a kook.”

    Jerry,

    Disagree.

    “Anyone” in your wager is clearly hyperbole. “Kook” is pejorative.

    It really seems like you are attempting to appear friendly to Darwinist culture.

    Andrew

  22. 22
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Jerry

    Want to come off as a looney, argue against “natural selection.”

    Larry Moran does it.

    Then there’s this:
    “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. ”
    It’s called “Dissent from Darwin”
    https://dissentfromdarwin.org/about/

    That list of signatures has tripled over the past 7 years or so, and it’s among academics not the general public.

    So, I don’t think ID Is the abject failure that it may seem to be.
    Darwin may be influential – like Sigmund Freud was. But nobody wants to go to a Freudian psychiatrist. Freud’s ideas have been mostly debunked and many proven damaging.

  23. 23
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Andrew

    It really seems like you are attempting to appear friendly to Darwinist culture.

    That’s the way it seems to me also. I can understand, people get tired of always being an outsider or on the losing end. There’s a big world in favor of the Darwinist culture and it’s very difficult being shunned and ridiculed by them.
    But I’ve seen ID supporters eventually become full-fledged Darwinists just because they started attacking ID as being “out of touch with mainstream science”.
    I think of Vince Torley as an example. Vince went from ID promoter to ID attacker – and he’s still a strong opponent of ID and believer in the power of the Darwinian mechanism.

  24. 24
    Seversky says:

    The mark Darwin left on the field of biology is indelible and his position in the history of the science is assured. Even long after his death he is still providing a useful service as a lightning-rod for the more extreme elements in the ID/C movement.

  25. 25
    asauber says:

    SA,

    Jerry is using the same language that someone would use to demoralize. For instance, popular media presents a lot of stuff that is intended to demoralize people with traditional/Christian values. I see the same trappings.

    Andrew

  26. 26
    jerry says:

    Natural selection disproves Evolution by a natural mechanism.

    So anyone arguing against natural selection is arguing against ID.

    I bet the people here never realized that Darwin’s ideas actually prove ID. Now Darwin never realized that but that is what the implications of natural selection are.

    So the pro ID position is to support Darwin’s three main ideas I listed above.

    Aside: the personal attacks are coming from people who identify as Christians.

    Aside2: there no one more pro ID here than myself.

  27. 27
    hnorman42 says:

    “… while valid and powerful, natural selection has nothing to do with Evolution.”

    That sounds like a powerful hook for an argument. If you can establish that natural selection is only relevant to genetics, that would tend to stick with people.

    Can you tell us how you you would follow up if say — a high school student — asks for clarification? I think I have an idea but I want to find out for sure.

    P.S. Could someone tell me how to do block quotes?

  28. 28
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Andrew

    Agreed. I would suggest to Jerry, instead of spreading demoralizing negativity and complaints about ID as a “failure” – take a break from UD for a while. Take a couple of months off. Go out somewhere on other blogs and try arguing with atheists and Darwinists elsewhere.

  29. 29
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Yes, Darwin remains a cultural hero.
    People think they’re being revolutionary by wearing his face on a t-shirt.
    He’s got his name on the walking-fish bumper sticker.
    He’s like Che Guevara – the bold revolutionary.
    There’s a strong market for anti-Christian sentiment among some sectors of the population.

  30. 30
    Silver Asiatic says:

    HNorman

    If you can establish that natural selection is only relevant to genetics, that would tend to stick with people.

    We’ve had the micro vs macro evolution idea for a long time.

    For blockquotes
    https://www.w3schools.com/tags/tag_blockquote.asp

  31. 31
    jerry says:

    That sounds like a powerful hook for an argument. If you can establish that natural selection is only relevant to genetics, that would tend to stick with people

    Exactly.

    It was obvious to me several years ago that people were talking past each other on this site so I proposed a multi tier level of evolution. Tier 4 was just micro evolution and all the arguments by those proposing natural evolution were in this tier.

    Over time I realized that micro evolution and genetics are the same thing. So really all they were pushing was genetics and then making the switch and calling it evolution. Here is a link to this 16 years ago.

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-argument-from-incredulity-vs-the-argument-from-gullibility/#comment-40952

    But bashing Darwin is in the DNA of a lot of people here. But as I said above I can show how natural selection actually supports design.

    So the bashing is knee jerk. And now it’s getting personal. Which reminds me

    Father, forgive them for they know not what they do

  32. 32
    asauber says:

    “Darwin’s ideas actually prove ID”

    Jerry,

    Try this on “anyone” and see who gets called a “kook”.

    Andrew

  33. 33
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Jerry

    the personal attacks

    I think its more like people trying to defend themselves from being called “kooks”.

  34. 34
    jerry says:

    Evolution by natural selection is self refuting.

    Why? Nothing in natural selection places a limitation on new capabilities but new capabilities increases success in reproduction. But if there were true then eventually the new capabilities would destroy the ecology and the entity developing all these capabilities.

    But we don’t see this. So something is limiting the developing of new capabilities. It has to be built in or designed such that there is a limitation.

  35. 35
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Jerry @34

    You’re attacking the power of natural selection to fit organisms to the environment in exactly the right way so that the ecology is not damaged.
    So, you’re not defending the claims of natural selection here. You’re saying those claims are wrong and actually natural selection has built-in limits that Darwinists do not admit or recognize.
    Again, this is criticism of natural selection, not acceptance of it. Thus, you risk being called a “kook” under your own definition.

  36. 36
    hnorman42 says:

    SA @ 30

    I’ve known about microevolution and macroevolution for a while.

    It’s the fact that microevolution is synonymous with genetics that has the vividness that could be readily perceived by young minds. The expression “macroevolution is just genetics writ large” is a lot easier to see through than the same expression with “microevolution” substituted for “genetics.”

    Thanks for the help with the quotes – and the response as well.

  37. 37
    asauber says:

    The real problem here will not be solved with simple changes in terminology.

    Andrew

  38. 38
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Andrew

    Exactly. Evolutionary biology will claim “evolution is a fact” by looking at antibiotic resistance in bacteria, then that supposedly explains the development of all life on earth.
    So that’s the deception. They prove that there is a change in the population, no matter how minor – then that becomes the Darwinian process for the emergence of everything.
    They don’t stop with micro-evolution.

  39. 39
    asauber says:

    “So that’s the deception.”

    SA,

    Yes! The problem is the buy-in to the narrative. You can’t just snap your fingers and change a few words and Presto! You are just rearranging the furniture. The house is still a wreck. The lyrics are new but the song remains the same.

    Andrew

  40. 40
    jerry says:

    Again, this is criticism of natural selection, not acceptance of it. Thus, you risk being called a “kook” under your own definition

    No contradiction!!!!

    It’s just limited. That has to be by design.

    It is another strike against DNA as the source of Evolution.

    Observation: there is a very definitive tactic of attacking as opposed to understanding what’s being said.

  41. 41
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Jerry

    there is a very definitive tactic of attacking

    I’m sorry if my comments appeared that way. That was not my intent.

  42. 42
    hnorman42 says:

    Regarding my last couple of comments:

    I do not expect a change in terminology to effect the collapse of the Darwinian establishment. This is a talking point – no more and no less.

    A while back Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini pointed out that looking at a survival event and expressing it as “selection for” gave it an unwarranted power in people’s minds. Their observations had not the slightest effect on the scientific establishment. They were highly illuminating to me and many other people though.

    If you doubt the perfect equivalence between genetics and microevolution, then carefully define the difference in your own mind and ask someone you debate (a real seeker – not a propagandist) to define the difference. Some fruitful dialog will most likely follow.

  43. 43
    jerry says:

    I do not expect a change in terminology to effect the collapse of the Darwinian establishment.

    Neither do I!!!

    It’s a small step to possibly changing the nature of the dialogue though. That ID accepts Darwin for certain things but not others may get some curious.

    Another discussion from the past on this issue. This comment and subsequent responses

    https://uncommondescent.com/biology/michael-egnor-responds-to-michael-lemonick-at-time-online/#comment-92306

  44. 44
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Professor Dave is now claiming that this post represents some kind of official response from Discovery Institute.

    We might think that a professor would be interested in a discussion on his ideas here to learn something before making false statements.
    But that’s the kind of scholarship and “research” we’ve come to expect from Darwinists.
    Yes, I couldn’t find where he’s actually employed as a “Professor”. People usually hide information like that for a reason.

  45. 45
    ET says:

    Dave Farina is not a real professor. And he thinks that materialism, a failed philosophy, = science. Isaac Newton would disagree.

    However, Luskin was wrong about what Lovejoy did. And even if Lucy walked upright, it doesn’t mean blind and mindless processes, like natural selection, did it.

  46. 46
    ET says:

    Perfessor Dave has now taken on Stephen Meyer. He doesn’t realize that Meyer has already taken on actual scientists over his claims.

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