Darwinism Intelligent Design

Well then, no birthday cake for you, David!

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The Ottawa Citizen’s David Warren‘s birthday greeting to Darwin is

“I oppose Darwinism because it is an intellectual & scientific fraud. I have opposed it all my adult life on that account alone; as I’ve told you before, I opposed it as crap science when I was an atheist. But I oppose it today with greater & greater passion, because I see that it provides the cosmological groundwork for real evil.”

 He offers a link to a discussion of what it means to say that humans are unique.

Here are some further reflections from his column of today:

Darwin was an honest, capable, plodding man. Alas, of his great hypothesis of “the origin of species, by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life,” it must be said that what was true in it was not original, and what was original was not true.

The basic notion of evolution — that all living creatures are related, and that man himself descends from the primordial slime as the product of purely material forces — is an ancient one, going back at least to Anaximander in the 6th century B.C. Likewise, the notion that creatures may be altered by selective breeding goes back as long as humans have bred animals.

Darwin’s contribution was the mechanism of natural (and later, sexual) selection. This mechanism was simultaneously proposed by Alfred Russel Wallace, a true genius who made many other signal observations and discoveries; but Darwin alone became obsessed with this one, and insisted that it could carry us beyond adaptation within a species, across natural barriers to the creation of entirely new forms, over eons of time. Wallace was not so sure, and to this day, Darwin’s notion exists merely as a surmise. It has never been proven.

Which is its great strength. For what cannot be proven can never be disproven, either. The Darwinian account is merely belied by the fossil record, which has provided none of the inter-species “missing links” that Darwin anticipated, and which instead yields only sudden radical changes.

I would add that when Darwinists claim that their theory is overwhelmingly confirmed, what they mean is that it must be true because otherwise atheist materialism (or liberal Christianity?) would not be true. Can’t help that, I am afraid.

I also suspect that they would dump it in a minute if they could think of an alternative satisfactory to atheist materialism or liberal Christianity.

Also just up at The Post-Darwinist:

Twitter account for the Post-Darwinist

Polls: Slight majority of Britons are okay with intelligent design

Teaching evolution: A note from The Cranky Professor

 Mark Steyn’s testimony on the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s misdoings is here.)

24 Replies to “Well then, no birthday cake for you, David!

  1. 1
    Joseph says:


    Darwinists claim their theory is overwhelmingly confirmed because bacteria can gain resitance to anti-biotics, the beak of the finch varies, stickle-back fish vary due to ocean to lake adaptation and viruses also vary enough to elude our intervention.

    Now if THAT isn’t enough to convince you then you have to introduce us to the designer(s) before we will even take a look at your position.

    And remember, methodological naturalism has given us knowledge.

    What knowledge I am unable to say, but I am asured it has.

  2. 2
    tribune7 says:

    I like this:

    Over the 151 years since the apparitions of Mary to the devout little peasant girl, Bernadette Soubiros, countless millions have visited that remote shrine, and the medical bureau that was established to test claims of miraculous cures has identified many cases beyond human explanation. In other words, there is far more empirical evidence of the miracle at Lourdes than there has ever been, or can ever be, of Darwinism.

  3. 3
    uoflcard says:

    I’ve been following google news headlines, and the last few days, every headline has either been about the stimulus package or Darwin’s b-day. The Darwin articles always go something like “he was a genius ahead of his time. his theory has withstood the test of time and scientific scrutinity. Creationists have tried and failed and tried and failed to overturn him. But evolution has been proven right.”

    Some type of evolution has most certainly occurred. But basically every article builds up a strawman ID and ignites it in flames with “evolution happened”. Too bad I.D. doesn’t necessarily conflict with evolution. But what DOES conflict with the apruptness of the fossil record, the incredible specified complexity of molecular machinery and the mutiplicity and meta-information of the genome is neo-Darwinian evolution. That’s not to mention the supposed fact that Einstein’s mind descended from apes in an evolutionary instant just because of natural selection.

    If neo-Darwinian evolution happened, there would have been countless successful evolution simulations at this point. Unfortunatetly, the simple mechanisms of random variation and natural selection are incapable of developing the information found in nature; they are only good at preserving/decaying it.

  4. 4
    Joseph says:


    That is all part of the propaganda:

    ID = Creation = fixation of species = anti-evolution

    Organizations such as the NCSE cannot allow people to understand that “evolution” is NOT being debated.

    Once we clear that hurdle, public support will grow even more than it is.

  5. 5
    nullasalus says:

    Frankly, I’m of the mind that evolution – mutation, drift, selection, HGT, etc – doesn’t do much to ‘confirm’ atheist materialism. It’s a scenario vastly more preferable to, say, one which directly comports with a strict, literal creation narrative. But the idea that evolution as we know it provides even marginal support for atheist materialism seems like bunk to me.

    Atheists cling to evolution for the same reason some people drink nothing but the cheapest beer available. It usually isn’t because they think it’s great – it’s because they really don’t have any other options.

  6. 6
    Seversky says:

    From David Warren:

    So, Darwin Day is tomorrow. But today, Feb. 11, is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

    Over the 151 years since the apparitions of Mary to the devout little peasant girl, Bernadette Soubiros, countless millions have visited that remote shrine, and the medical bureau that was established to test claims of miraculous cures has identified many cases beyond human explanation. In other words, there is far more empirical evidence of the miracle at Lourdes than there has ever been, or can ever be, of Darwinism.

    From p221 of The Demon-Haunted World by the late Carl Sagan”

    The spontaneous remission rates of all cancers… is estimated to be something between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 100,000. If no more than 5% of those who come to Lourdes were there to treat their cancers, there should have been something between 50 and 500 ‘miraculous’ cures of cancer alone. Since only 3 of the attested [by the Roman Catholic Church] 65 cures are of cancer, the rate of spontaneous remission at Lourdes seems to be lower than if the victims had just stayed at home.

  7. 7
    nullasalus says:

    So even if a miracle is investigated by the church and the lourdes medical bureau and is confirmed to have no scientific explanation, we can be confident there are no miracles unless they occur at a certain rate?

    Yeesh. There’s skepticism, and then there’s silliness. Not that I’m saying miracles obviously occurred, but the burden implied here is ridiculous.

  8. 8
    vjtorley says:


    Carl Sagan repeats the myth that there have been only 65 or so miraculous cures at Lourdes. That’s an under-estimate, based on very stringent Church requirements that in order for a cure to be certified as a miraculous, the patient must not have undergone any conventional medical treatments, such as drugs or therapy – a very rare thing in today’s day and age, when people usually go to Lourdes after those avenues have been exhausted. Here’s a quote from the 1909 Catholic encyclopedia, to set that figure in perspective:

    Passing over spiritual cures, which more often than not escape human observance, we shall confine ourselves to bodily diseases. The writer of this article has recorded every recovery, whether partial or complete, and in the first half-century of the shrine’s existence he has counted 3962. Notwithstanding very careful statistics which give the names and surnames of the patients who have recovered, the date of the cure, the name of the disease, and generally that of the physician who had charge of the case, there are inevitably doubtful or mistaken cases, attributable, as a rule, to the excited fancy of the afflicted one and which time soon dispels. But it is only right to note: first, that these unavoidable errors regard only secondary cases which have not like the others been the object of special study; it must also be noted that the number of cases is equalled and exceeded by actual cures which are not put on record. The afflicted who have recovered are not obliged to present themselves and half of them do not present themselves, at the Bureau des Constatations Médicales at Lourdes, and it is from this bureau’s official reports that the list of cures is drawn up.

    The estimate that about 4000 cures have been obtained at Lourdes within the first fifty years of the pilgrimage is undoubtedly considerably less than the actual number. The Bureau des Constatations stands near the shrine, and there are recorded and checked the certificates of maladies and also the certificates of cure; it is free to all physicians, whatever their nationality or religious belief. Consequently, on an average, from two to three hundred physicians annual visit this marvellous clinic. As to the nature of the diseases which are cured, nervous disorders so frequently mentioned, do not furnish even the fourteenth part of the whole; 278 have been counted, out of a total of 3962. The present writer has published the number of cases of each disease or infirmity, among them tuberculosis, tumours, sores, cancers, deafness, blindness, etc. The “Annales des Sciences Physiques”, a sceptical review whose chief editor is Doctor Ch. Richet, Professor at the Medical Faculty of Paris, said in the course of a long article, apropos of this faithful study: “On reading it, unprejudiced minds cannot but be convinced that the facts stated are authentic.”

    (Source: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09389b.htm )

    By the way, if you want a real miracle, try this one: the cure of Pierre de Rudder, which converted his atheist doctor.



  9. 9
    Mark Frank says:

    nullasus [7]

    So even if a miracle is investigated by the church and the lourdes medical bureau and is confirmed to have no scientific explanation, we can be confident there are no miracles unless they occur at a certain rate?

    Perhaps not confident – but we have no reason to suppose miracles unless the rate of remissions exceeds that which would have happened without miracles.

    vjtorly [8]

    Any quack complementary therapy can produce a similar set of figures and arguments to this. In fact many can give a better impression of being scientific. They can do it because they are not rigorous in their use of statistics and in particular take no account of the placebo effect. They all collapse if required to meet the standards of evidence based medicine.

    As a doctor, I imagine Gpuccio will verify this.

    Looking at your account in more detail:

    * The Catholic Encyclopedia is hardly a neutral source.

    * Figures and accounts from the second half of the 19th century need to be treated sceptically and interpreted. For example, what was meant by “conventional medicine” in those days? What was it to be a qualified physician?

    However, even if we take the figures as true the quote proves nothing. All these figures are irrelevant unless you can compare them to the rate of remission that would have happened naturally and take into account the placebo effect. We are not told the nature of the conditions that were cured except that they were “bodily diseases” and very few of them were nervous disorders. We are told there were about 5 million pilgrims and 4000 cures. We have no idea how many of these pilgrims had something wrong with them – but let’s assume it is half of them. A natural remission rate of 1 in 600 for unspecified bodily conditions seems unremarkable – we usually recover from most conditions given time.

  10. 10
    allanius says:

    Congratulations to Mark Frank on his admirable skepticism. That’s just the spirit of open inquiry that we need when looking at the proposition that life can come from that which is not life or that DNA can spontaneously assemble itself into complex information. Forge on, brave Doubter!

  11. 11
    tribune7 says:

    IOW, vjtorley, the Church takes such stringent measures to weed out false positives, false negatives are expected 🙂

    Mark Frank: The Catholic Encyclopedia is hardly a neutral source.

    How about The Demon-Haunted World?

  12. 12
    Mark Frank says:

    Re [10] – I have no problem with being sceptical about various theories of evolution. In the case of ID I have a problem knowing what to be sceptical about, as it does not include a hypothesis about how evolution happened.

  13. 13
    Mark Frank says:

    Re [11] – I know nothing about The Demon-Haunted World. It may well also be a biased source.

  14. 14
    tribune7 says:

    Mark, the citation from The Demon Haunted World in Post 6 is what started this line of discussion.

    Every source is arguably biased. With regard to the Catholic Church and the miracles at Lourdes, the Church recognizes its bias and takes an almost hyper-skeptical position in declaring miracles (and Marian apparitions for that matter).

    It’s appropriate to point out that Carl Sagan rather unfairly used the Church’s quite proper reluctance to declare a miracle against it.

  15. 15
    vjtorley says:

    Mark Frank [9]

    I take your point about the percentage of cures being relatively low, even if thousands were cured as I suggested. However, I cannot take seriously your suggestion that the placebo effect can account for the cures at Lourdes.

    Here’s an extract from the Wikipedia article on the placebo effect:

    Does it actually exist?

    Hrobjartsson and Peter Gotzsche published a study in 2001 and a follow-up study in 2004 questioning the nature of the placebo effect. They performed two meta-analyses involving all published 156 clinical trials in which an experimental drug or treatment protocol was compared to a placebo group and an untreated group, and specifically asked whether the placebo group improved compared to the untreated group. Hrobjartsson and Gotzsche found that in studies with a binary outcome, meaning patients were classified as improved or not improved, the placebo group had no statistically significant improvement over the no-treatment group. Similarly, there was no significant placebo effect in studies in which objective outcomes (such as blood pressure) were measured by an independent observer. The placebo effect could only be documented in studies in which the outcomes (improvement or failure to improve) were reported by the subjects themselves. The authors concluded that the placebo effect does not have “powerful clinical effects,” (objective effects) and that patient-reported improvements (subjective effects) in pain were small and could not be clearly distinguished from reporting bias.

    Their conclusion has been criticised on several grounds. First, that did in fact find an effect for pain. Second, they studied a highly mixed group of conditions: the placebo effect does occur with peripheral disease processes (such as Hypertension, asthma, prostatic hyperplasia, anal fissure, bronchitis) though not for processes reflecting physical disease (such as venous leg ulcers, Crohn’s disease, urinary tract infection chronic heart failure. Third, that placebos do not work strongly in clinical trials because the subjects do not know whether they might be getting a real treatment or a sham one. Where studies are made of placebos in which people think they are receiving actual treatment (rather than merely its possibility) the placebo effect is found. Other writers pointed to the empirical data showing that placebos can have measurable biological effects, especially in pain relief, or argued that the use of a placebo to “please the patient” fosters real healing as part of a caring doctor-patient relationship.

    Elsewhere, the article points out that “[a]ll placebo effects eventually wear off, thus making the placebo effect impractical for long term or chronic medical matters.” (All italics are mine.)

    It seems to me that the placebo effect is frequently bandied about by Lourdes skeptics as a catch-all explanation for the cures, when in fact it doesn’t explain much at all in medicine.

  16. 16
    vjtorley says:

    Mark Frank [9]

    You write:

    Figures and accounts from the second half of the 19th century need to be treated sceptically and interpreted.

    That may be so, but here is one cure, described in Arnold Lunn’s The Third Day (see http://www.ewtn.com/library/answers/thrday.htm ), which should give even the most die-hard sceptic pause: the case of Pierre de Rudder.

    De Rudder was a Belgian farm laborer whose left leg was shattered in 1867 by the fall of a tree. Seven years passed and the bones had not united. De Rudder’s doctors advised amputation but De Rudder determined to ask our Lady of Lourdes, venerated at the shrine of Oostacker, near Ghent, to cure his leg. His doctor, Van Hoestenberghe, who returned to the Faith as a result of the miracle, had given up the case. He testified to De Rudder’s condition before the cure in the following words.

    “I declare on my conscience and on my soul:

    “1. I have examined De Rudder a dozen times and my last visit was two or three months before the cure.

    “2. Each time I was able to make the ends of the bones come out of the wound: they were deprived of their periosteum, there was necrosis, the suppuration was fetid and abundant and has passed along the tendons….

    “3. At each examination I introduced two fingers to the bottom of the wound, and always felt a separation of 4 to 5 centimeters between the broken parts, and this right across their breadth. I was able to turn them about easily.

    “4. A large sequestrum had come away at the beginning and little bits of bone often came away during these years.”

    This testimony was confirmed by witnesses who saw De Rudder a few days before the cure, and on the way to Oostacker. The driver of the train on which he traveled to Oostacker observed the broken leg swinging to and fro and remarked “there goes a man who is going to lose his leg”. De Rudder entered the Grotto and began to pray. Suddenly he felt a strange sensation. He rose, forgetting his crutches, without which he had not taken a single step for eight years, knelt before the statue of Our Lady, and, rising unaided, walked three times round the Grotto. He was cured. He was immediately taken to a neighboring chateau. The restored limb was examined; the two wounds had healed up, leaving two scars. The broken bones had suddenly been united. There was no shortening of the leg, in spite of the fact that De Rudder had lost substantial pieces of bone. The cure was attested by the entire village. The case was examined and re-examined by various doctors, and the bones, when exhumed, after De Rudder’s death, fully support the above history of the case.

    [J.B.S.]Haldane, after reading the Catholic Truth Society pamphlet, “A Modern Miracle,” wrote: “I think the odds are that the bones were united, and the septic wounds healed, in a few hours, the most probable alternative being a pious fraud enacted by a large number of people. The only remarkable element in the cure is its speed.”

    This is much as if someone were to remark “the only remarkable fact about the Resurrection was that Christ rose from the dead.” Medical science can no more explain the instantaneous mending of a fracture which had defied the doctors for years than the resurrection of a man who has died.

    I am only concerned for the moment to establish the fact that cures, inexplicable by medical science, have taken place at Lourdes. Cures take place at Lourdes which cannot be explained as the results of “suggestion”. Small children and babies, incapable of profiting by “mental” treatment, have been cured at Lourdes of organic diseases, as for example the cure of a double club-foot in a two-year-old child, the miracle occurring as the father, Dr. Aumaitre, held the child’s feet in the water. Men have been cured when unconscious, or asleep.

    The Lourdes water has been analyzed and is ordinary spring-water with no radio-activity. Many cures occur without its intervention.

    Placebo effect, indeed!

  17. 17
    Mark Frank says:

    Re[15]. That’s interesting. I thought the possibility of a strong placebo effect was firmly established even in clinical trials. Thanks for pointing this out.

    Of course, the placebo effect is still a strong candidate to have a large effect on reporting of cures. We are not talking double-blind trials here! But I am content to stick with “would have recovered anyway” as the biggest explanation.

    Re #16. I am sorry but I am just not going to take much notice of an anecdote of a single case 150 years ago. I guess we will have to agree to differ on our ideas of what we find plausible.

  18. 18
    vjtorley says:

    Mark Frank [17]

    Fair enough. Here’s an out-of-print book on Lourdes which you might find interesting as a medical man:


    It’s by E. Le Bec, Honorary Surgeon to St. Joseph’s Hospital, Paris.

  19. 19
    faithandshadow says:

    As a skeptic and a Christian … I have trouble believing in any kind of miracle, and that includes the miracles needed for Darwinian evolution to be true.

    Yes, I’m a Christian and a skeptic. On the whole, I think miracles do occur, but very rarely. I don’t assume stories of miracles today are true … I more often assume there are probably natural explanations to most of them. Since Darwinian evolution can’t be explained without an enormous amounts of miracles and a spin of the “god in the gaps” argument, it isn’t very convincing to this skeptic.

  20. 20
    Berceuse says:

    Mark, the case of Pierre de Rudder is hardly an “anecdote.” That’s belittling.

  21. 21
    GSV says:

    I don’t post often (but read and learn a lot) however this discussion may change that, grown adults believing in miracles at Lourdes?

    Back to the science please.

  22. 22
    tribune7 says:

    GSV — I don’t post often (but read and learn a lot) however this discussion may change that, grown adults believing in miracles at Lourdes?

    There are those of us who do. If you believe in God, why think it impossible?

    If you don’t believe in God, well the notion that a material cause to the universe is logically inconsistent and it would be much more reasonable to believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran

  23. 23
    GSV says:

    To tribune7:

    Thinking something is impossible is very different to not believing a Catholic marketing scam.

    For example I think God is capable of making statues cry milk in India but I do not think He does. Do you?

  24. 24
    Seversky says:

    nullasalus @ 7

    So even if a miracle is investigated by the church and the lourdes medical bureau and is confirmed to have no scientific explanation, we can be confident there are no miracles unless they occur at a certain rate?

    The church investigates alleged miracles and I can understand how many people want them to be true but have any of the claimed miracles been evaluated as such by independent investigators.

    It reminds me of the claims made for faith healing which seem to evaporate when examined closely:

    Louis Rose, a British psychiatrist, investigated hundreds of alleged faith-healing cures. As his interest became well known, he received communications from healers and patients throughout the world. He sent each correspondent a questionnaire and sought corroborating information from physicians. In Faith Healing [Penguin Books 1971], he concluded, “I have been unsuccessful. After nearly twenty years of work I have yet to find one ‘miracle cure’; and without that (or, alternatively, massive statistics which others must provide) I cannot be convinced of the efficacy of what is commonly termed faith healing.” [1]

    During the early 1970s, Minnesota surgeon William Nolen, M.D., attended a service conducted by Katherine Kuhlman, the leading evangelical healer of that period. After noting the names of 25 people who had been “miraculously healed,” he was able to perform follow-up interviews and examinations. Among other things, he discovered that one woman who had been announced as cured of “lung cancer” actually had Hodgkin’s disease — which was unaffected by the experience. Another woman with cancer of the spine had discarded her brace and followed Ms. Kuhlman’s enthusiastic command to run across the stage. The following day her backbone collapsed, and four months later she died. Overall, not one person with organic disease had been helped. Dr. Nolen reported his findings, which included observations of several other healers, in Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle , a book that I heartily recommend [2].

    C. Eugene Emery, Jr., a science writer for the Providence Journal, has looked closely at the work of Reverend Ralph DiOrio, a Roman Catholic priest whose healing services attract people by the thousands. In 1987 Emery attended one of DiOrio’s services and recorded the names of nine people who had been blessed during the service and nine others who had been proclaimed cured. DiOrio’s organization provided ten more cases that supposedly provided irrefutable proof of the priest’s ability to cure. During a six-month investigation, Emery found no evidence that any of these 28 individuals had been helped [3].

    Some Thoughts about Faith Healing by Stephen Barrett MD

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