Christian Darwinism Culture Intelligent Design

Why Caroline Crocker observed that ID was treated with disdain at the ASA conference

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The discussion between ASA conference atttendee Caroline Crocker, here, and Ted Davis, (here) (here), and (here), is a classic unsolvable conflict because two groups are proceeding from different assumptions.

Crocker (like the ID theorists) thinks there is evidence for design in nature. The ASA honchoes think the matter is forever uncertain, a birdie indefinitely batted between philosophy of science profs, and there is no evidence worth taking seriously. Maybe it’s even wrong to look for evidence. God wouldn’t have done it that way ….

It is deeply threatening to ASA when someone like Crocker suggests that a fact base, rather than loyalty to making the gospel relevant to the culture through science should decide such issues.

Second, another apparent ASA view is that Christians in science should believe the status quo to commend the gospel to unbelievers. That includes professing to the uttermost wholehearted acceptance of any nonsense talked in Darwin’s name – a river of which has gone through this site alone, and we are sandbagging for more.

Unwavering faith saves souls, even if the folly is on any other ground an offense to the informed intellect?

Crocker, by contrast, thinks she is following up on an evidence base. That gives her the sovereign right to ignore or dispute nonsense. Which sounds like “denialism” or “lack of charity” to the ASA honcho.

The ASA position is called, in some parts of the world, dhimmitude: One accepts (in this case) the dominance of atheism in evolutionary biology and attempts to save souls – one’s own and others – by accommodating to the intellectual atmosphere that government-funded atheists, clustered in large numbers, create. In general, as long as everything is an intellectual high tea, the ASA members are safe with their faith. The price is: They are expected to uphold the status quo and never permitted to challenge it.

The evidence-based scientist accepts no such thing, and suffers accordingly.

Here’s a thought: Is there any Darwin proposition so foolish that a typical ASA honcho would not require the assent of the critically thinking ASA scientist? They usually say yes in principle, but that principle is somehow never acted on. One could, I suspect, say the same about just about every issue they deem of interest. What is wanted is faith, and faith of a particular sort.

I don’t know why Crocker wants to be associated with ASA. I’ll back her for her guts, but tend to think Dembski is right: She’d be best to form a confraternity of scientists who think evidence matters and want to research it, wherever it leads. There’ll be trouble, but the nature of the trouble proves they matter.

24 Replies to “Why Caroline Crocker observed that ID was treated with disdain at the ASA conference

  1. 1
    butifnot says:

    Spot on

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    lastyearon says:

    [Caroline would] be best to form a confraternity of scientists who think evidence matters and want to research it, wherever it leads.

    Hmm…Didn’t Caroline also say this..

    Therefore, I think I am justified in pointing out that is important to remember that for Christians nothing trumps the Bible, not even science.

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    lastyearon says:

    Does Caroline’s anti evolutionism come from “following the evidence wherever it leads” or believing that “nothing trumps the Bible, not even science”?

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    The first. More details can be found in my post.

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    lastyearon says:

    There’s only one sentence in that post covering your “evolutionary agnosticism”..

    my knowledge of the cell shows me that the stated mechanism whereby macroevolution is said to proceed does not work

    The rest of the article discusses what you see as the ASA’s waning commitment to Christian faith and the truth of the Bible. This in particular stands out to me…

    But, what I learned at the ASA conference was that reason the debate over evolution matters is that it is a symptom of a much more serious disease: the elevation of the authority of science and the scientific community above the claims and values of the Bible and Christianity.

    Two more questions, then…
    One, can you explain what you mean when you say that your “knowledge of the cell shows me that the stated mechanism whereby macroevolution is said to proceed does not work”?

    And second, a two part question: Do you believe that the claims of the bible should have any role in the scientific process? Do the claims of the bible have any relevance with respect to the age of the earth or the origin of species?

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    butifnot says:

    Lastyearon, it’s self evident in this age of knowledge that the stated mechanism is absolutely inadequate and quite trivial.

    EVERYONE brings their beliefs with them to ‘science’. None more so than the committed materialist. Remember we are talking about forensic science explaining events that occurred in the distant past and are not repeatable. The claims of the bible certainly have relevance to bible believers, but why not leave peoples beliefs out and just evaluate observations and interpretations.

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    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Following the evidence wherever it leads, eh? Caroline Crocker’s record does not suggest that she is any good at doing this. Instead she just brazenly repeats the crudest creationist arguments. Documentation:

    In the above-mentioned article in the Washington Post, Crocker is described teaching her students a laundry list of discredited Creationist arguments. In a video on the Coral Ridge Ministries site, several of Crocker’s slides are shown. Though it’s not known whether Crocker used the same slides while teaching at George Mason, the Washington Post article provides evidence that they were part of her Northern Virginia Community College lectures. Her use of these slides suggests that Crocker shows either a shocking ignorance of evolutionary science, or a rather shameless willingness to distort the evidence.

    The following are just a small sample of her erroneous and clearly creationist claims:

    * Archeopteryx [sic] is a bird (like an Ostrich), not a reptobird
    * Only one complete fossil, and has been questioned as a fraud

    Archaeopteryx is indeed classified as a bird by scientists, but it is a transitional form because it possesses traits characteristic of birds and other traits characteristic of the ancestors of birds. Like dinosaurs, it has teeth and a long bony tail, as well as many other characteristics which modern birds lack, but it possesses feathers and other adaptations to flight, like birds. (See http://www.talkorigins.org/faq.....l#features) Note that “reptobird” seems to be a term entirely of Crocker’s invention.

    Contrary to what Dr. Crocker’s slide suggests, there are several well-preserved Archaeopteryx fossils, and while it is true that two non-paleontologists (astronomers!) claimed in the 1980s that the original fossil was a fraud, the allegation was quickly disproved. Even Answers in Genesis, the pre-eminent Creationist organization, lists this as a creationist argument against evolution that should not be used, because it was so easily disproven.

    Eohippus is same as modern-day hyrax

    EohippusThis argument also has a long creationist history, and is equally erroneous. Eohippus is an extinct member of the horse family, while the hyrax is a modern, rabbit-sized, mammal living in the Middle East and Africa. They were part of an early radiation of African mammals and are more closely related to elephants than to horses. Even a brief consideration of skulls makes it clear that these are two completely different animals. The rest of the skeleton and soft tissues also help differentiate hyraxes from horses.
    A noble steed?
    In another slide, titled “Scientists are confused”, Crocker offers the following quote:

    Gould and Eldridge [sic] (evolutionists): “There is no validation of the position that speciation causes significant morphological change.”

    Gould never wrote these words. Crocker’s dishonest quotation follows from a long tradition of creationists misusing quotations from legitimate scientific sources – a problem we also find in Expelled.

    Gould actually said “But continuing unhappiness, justified this time, focuses upon claims that speciation causes significant morphological change, for no validation of such a position has emerged.” (Gould, SJ and Eldredge, N, “Punctuated equilibrium comes of age” Nature 366, 223-227, 1993). In other words, there is a question of the order in which speciation and physical diversification take place, not “confusion” over whether any link exists between such diversification and speciation. Crocker’s erroneous quotation and mischaracterization of the author’s intent show poor scholarship, and encourage her students to misunderstand key concepts.

    The Washington Post article discussing Crocker’s lecture at Northern Virginia Community College reveals her relying upon several more creationist talking points, all of which have been thoroughly debunked. These include:

    Crocker “told the students there were two kinds of evolution: microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution …easily seen in any microbiology lab… is … quite different from macroevolution. No one has ever seen a dog turn into a cat in a laboratory.”

    No evolutionary biologist ever proposed that “dogs turn into cats in a laboratory”, and ironically, this would be disproof of evolution! Such rapid changes are exactly contrary to any expectation of evolutionary processes. Dogs and cats do share a common ancestor, but can no more turn into one another than you can transform into your cousins. If Crocker doesn’t understand that, she is stunningly ignorant of basic evolutionary theory, and she has no right to force her ignorance on students. Furthermore, her misrepresentation of the “micro/macro” distinction is a standard creationist distortion of evolutionary theory.

    Biologists use “macroevolution” to describe the broad patterns and trends of the evolution and diversification of life over long stretches of time. Macroevolution includes such subjects as extinction, speciation, changes in traits over time, rates of change, adaptive radiation, and similar processes. To creationists, macroevolution is the change from one “kind” (in the Biblical sense of “created kind”) to another, such as “a dog turning into a cat.” Microevolution refers to changes in gene frequencies within a species. Microevolution is not “quite different” from macroevolution: microevolution is a necessary part of macroevolution, as the combined effect of microevolutionary changes produces macroevolutionary patterns. Despite Crocker’s claim, macroevolution and microevolution do not exhaust the possibilities: there are evolutionary processes which are neither microevolutionary nor macroevolutionary.

    Creationists accept microevolution, but, as in Crocker’s lecture, reject macroevolution. Crocker’s statement implies that microevolution is the primary evidence for macroevolution, when there is significant and overwhelming evidence for the latter in geology, biogeography, biochemistry, anatomy and genetics. For her to teach this would be further miseducation of her students.

    In the 1950s, she said, scientists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey ran electricity through a soup of chemicals to show how chemicals on the early Earth could assemble themselves into the building blocks of life.”… Crocker said that subsequent research had shown that chemicals used in the experiment did not exist on Earth 4 billion years ago. “The experiment is irrelevant, but you still find it in your books,” she said.

    Crocker’s recitation of standard creationist attacks on origin of life research doesn’t even accurately regurgitate their false claims! Informed creationists do not deny, as she does, that “chemicals used in the experiment did not exist on Earth 4 billion years ago,” they deny that the atmospheric conditions of the Miller-Urey experiments accurately modeled the Earth’s early atmosphere. Crocker presents this information as evidence that scientists are clinging to inaccurate experiments to prop up a failed theory. She ignores the results of the past 50 years of origin of life research. In the specific case of the Miller-Urey experiment, scientists have re-run the experiment with revised conditions and obtained similar results.

    She cited another experiment, involving researcher Bernard Kettlewell, who produced pictures of variously colored peppered moths on tree trunks to show that when the moths were not well camouflaged, they were more likely to be eaten by birds — a process of natural selection that influenced the color of the moths. “This comes from your book — it is not actually true,” Crocker said. “The experiment was falsified. He glued his moths to the trees.”

    Another creationist shibboleth drawn from the discredited intelligent design book, Icons of Evolution, the “peppered moth experiment is a fraud” argument has been debunked for several years. Whether and under what circumstances moths were glued in place is a distraction from the main point of Kettlewell’s (many) experiments which explained why the frequencies of light colored and dark colored moths changed in different areas in Great Britain. Kettlewell contended that birds differentially preyed upon moths that contrasted against different backgrounds, resulting in more dark colored moths in polluted areas and more light colored moths in cleaner areas. The staged photos of moths glued to a surface were to illustrate that dark and light forms of the moths contrast against light and dark backgrounds. Kettlewell additionally glued moths to trees to test whether birds ate this species of moth (they do).
    Peppered Moths
    But what Crocker and other creationists avoid reporting is that no moths were glued to trees during the actual experiments that clearly demonstrated natural selection for light and dark varieties in different environments. Thus, Crocker was lying to the students – or was profoundly ignorant of Kettlewell’s research – in claiming that “the experiment was falsified.” And in fact, while scientists have questioned certain aspects of Kettlewell’s methodology, none doubt that his ultimate conclusion is accurate, and a recent replication of the experiments confirmed the original findings.

    http://www.expelledexposed.com.....th/crocker

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    Nick, I’m not familiar with Caroline’s work, so can’t comment on the bulk of your concerns, but this caught my eye:

    “She ignores the results of the past 50 years of origin of life research.”

    Methinks thou doth protest too much. Miller-Urey is still an important icon in textbooks, so it is completely appropriate to refer to Miller-Urey (again, I’m not defending how well she may have homed in on nuances between “chemicals” that existed and “atmospheric constituents”). Further, I have to laugh at the “results of the past 50 years” comment that is left hanging, as though to mislead the reader into thinking that the last 50 years have closed many of the gaps. Any objective review of the past 50 years clearly demonstrates that the problems haunting a materialistic abiogenesis scenario have grown much more obvious and acute, not the other way around. If you want folks to blindly believe in abiogenesis, then you’re much better off not having them learn anything about the last 50 years of research.

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    bornagain77 says:

    So Nick, among your many ‘excuses’ defending a indefensible theory that has no foundation in reality, I noticed the gem of a rant in which you attacked Caroline for stating gross morphological change has never been observed: Well since you are so defensive of this particular point perhaps you would like to point us to the exact experiment where a virus was mutated into a bacteria, or a bacteria mutated into a eukaryote, or a eukaryote mutated into a animal, or perhaps one kind of animal was mutated into another kind of animal. Personally I want a ‘bird-dog’,,, No, not a dog that hunts birds Nick, but a dog that actually flies!!! That would be just plain cool!!!,,, Now Nick, I know you will probably claim that the magic wand of ‘deep time’ can work all these miracles we see before our eyes and that we just can’t see them now in our experiments, but I have reasons to believe that you are not being truthful in this matter either:

    Well despite the magical ‘god-like’ power that atheist give to time, we do know exactly what time actually does ‘do’, with solely energy and matter to work with, and no input of information from any Intelligence, What time does is irresistibly decay things:

    Scientific American: After Humans – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCGhnwfNQtI

    80 years in 40 seconds – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9wToWdXaQg

    The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them? Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”

    The Future of the Universe
    Excerpt: After all the black holes have evaporated, (and after all the ordinary matter made of protons has disintegrated, if protons are unstable), the universe will be nearly empty. Photons, neutrinos, electrons and positrons will fly from place to place, hardly ever encountering each other. It will be cold, and dark, and there is no known process which will ever change things. — Not a happy ending.

    Big Rip
    Excerpt: The Big Rip is a cosmological hypothesis first published in 2003, about the ultimate fate of the universe, in which the matter of universe, from stars and galaxies to atoms and subatomic particles, are progressively torn apart by the expansion of the universe at a certain time in the future. Theoretically, the scale factor of the universe becomes infinite at a finite time in the future.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Rip

    Thermodynamic Argument Against Evolution – Thomas Kindell – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4168488

    Can “ANYTHING” Happen in an Open System? – Granville Sewell PhD. Math
    Excerpt: If we found evidence that DNA, auto parts, computer chips, and books entered through the Earth’s atmosphere at some time in the past, then perhaps the appearance of humans, cars, computers, and encyclopedias on a previously barren planet could be explained without postulating a violation of the second law here (it would have been violated somewhere else!). But if all we see entering is radiation and meteorite fragments, it seems clear that what is entering through the boundary cannot explain the increase in order observed here.”

    Evolution Vs. Thermodynamics – Open System Refutation – Thomas Kindell – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4143014

    “there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems.”
    John Ross, Chemical and Engineering News, 7 July 1980

    “…the quantity of entropy generated locally cannot be negative irrespective of whether the system is isolated or not.”
    Arnold Sommerfel, Thermodynamics And Statistical Mechanics, p.155

    “Bertalanffy (1968) called the relation between irreversible thermodynamics and information theory one of the most fundamental unsolved problems in biology.”
    Charles J. Smith – Biosystems, Vol.1, p259.

    “The laws of probability apply to open as well as closed systems.”
    Granville Sewell – Professor Of Mathematics – University Of Texas El Paso

    The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations — then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation — well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
    Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1915), chapter 4

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    butifnot says:

    Maybe she was referencing the Archaeoraptor debacle among the many chinese hoaxes sold to gullible paleontologists.

    Archaeopteryx is transitional because Nick and his ilk desperately want it to be. But hey, there’s lots of others, right??? By the way it has – feathers – which are transitional to …. feathers? And teeth and a long bony tail which is transitional from … teeth and a long bony tail ? Do you see how when you say transitional what everyone expects is something NOT A FEATHER but t r a n s i t i o n a l. Lots of possibilities would do – barely a feather, almost a feather, halfway a feather …

    but it possesses feathers and other adaptations to flight, like birds

    That’s just funny – feathers an adaptation to flight! Well thats putting it mildly.

    And how old is the currently oldest bird anyways?

    “when pigs fly”

    It means never and if anyone dwells on that for a moment I think they will see the truth of it.

  11. 11
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    That’s pretty silly — the success of the RNA world model alone justifies the statement, but there were a great many other successful prebiotic syntheses of important molecules subsequent to Miller-Urey (including the progress in RNA synthesis, but also various cofactors, lipids, etc.

    Care to defend her statements about Archeopteryx, anyone? Why should any scientists take Crocker seriously when she was expounding falsehoods on par with those of Duane Gish from back in the bad old young-earth creationism days, and doing it before introductory biology students to boot?

  12. 12

    Any objective review of the past 50 years clearly demonstrates that the problems haunting a materialistic abiogenesis scenario have grown much more obvious and acute, not the other way around. If you want folks to blindly believe in abiogenesis, then you’re much better off not having them learn anything about the last 50 years of research.

    Seriously? Can you give me some examples of findings in the past 50 years that make abiogenesis less likely?

  13. 13
    kellyhomes says:

    Perhaps ID is treated with disdain for the same reason that Joseph cannot explain how GAs can help solve encryption issues.

  14. 14
    kellyhomes says:

    To clarify, Joseph made a specific claim (he has personally used GAs to problem solve with regard to encryption) but has ignored multiple questions from multiple people asking him to substantiate his claim. I can’t think why…..

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    Joseph says:

    There aren’t any examples of findings taht makes abiogenesis via blind, undirected chemical processes likely.

    The findings that it is unlikely is there isn’t any data that demonstrates living organisms are reducible to matter, energy, chance and necessity.

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    Joseph says:

    I have used them. I have used them more than just with encryption.

    Also I have nothing to prove to anyone, let alone evos who cannot/ will not support their position.

  17. 17
    Joseph says:

    I can explain that- ya see the comp[any I worked for was an encrytion company- Technical Communications Corp- and guess what? We wanted to make sure our customers’ data stayed secure! An evolving encryption scheme would do just that.

    And not only that at least one person used an evolutionary algorithm to design FPGAs- the thinking was that no one would be able to reverse engineer our products if we went that route.

    So the encryption issue was to keep data secure.

    I apologize that you got your panties in a twist but I don’t have anything to prove to intellectual coward evos.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    I can: if you are concerned to encrypt, you are concerned with security, where the only 100% foolproof method is a one-time code pad. But, a “random walk” driven by real random inputs like sky noise and canalised would be about the same; just make sure it’s one use only. But then, KH et al, per track record, are not going to be persuadable by mere facts and reason.

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    Ted Davis says:

    Grant you, Denyse, I didn’t get to meet Caroline this summer, but I haven’t seen anything here to suggest that the ASA should view her as a threat. Perhaps I’ll be able to meet her at a future meeting, in which case I can form my own opinion of any potential threat she allegedly poses. I hope she takes my suggestion to study Ramm’s class work and lets me know what she thinks of it–I doubt that would threaten her, me, or the ASA, but it might be time well spent. Only she can be the judge of that.

    I do wonder, however, why you need to interpret her experience for her, rather than just let her speak for herself as she did elsewhere here.

  22. 22
    Ted Davis says:

    You might even say that not having her speak for herself on this dhumfounds me, but as everyone knows I’m just dhimwitted. Please forgive me; it can’t be helped.

  23. 23
    PNG says:

    I’ve been a member of the ASA for awhile and no “ASA honcho” has ever required anything of me (other than paying dues to remain a member.)

  24. 24

    Sorry to be so late in my responses to this thread, which appears to have “evolved” to be about evolution, rather than the point of my original post.

    Nick, you recite a litany of comments that were lifted from the notoriously inaccurate and now out-dated Expelled Exposed. I have previously responded to some of these allegations, but the link does not appear to work. Therefore, for the convenience of readers, I have re-posted that article on the AITSE website. With regard to the details about my former teaching on the subject of evolution, in the interest of integrity, I do need to acknowledge that there are a few things I included in my lecture that, with the benefit of hindsight and further reading on the subject, I would now handle differently. A fuller response, and indeed, Lastyearon, a complete explanation of my views on evolution (which are continuously “evolving”) can be found in my book, Free to Think: Why Scientific Integrity Matters.

    Lastyearon, you also asked other questions, which of course deserve an answer, however brief I must be. First, “Do you believe that the claims of the bible should have any role in the scientific process?” The short answer is, “Of course!” To explain, because I am a Christian, I believe that our conduct must reflect Biblical values. This and my experiences as a research scientist and professor who saw and continues to see the results of dishonesty and lack of ethics is why I am so committed to integrity in science. In fact, I founded a nonprofit organization to promote just that.

    The second question, “Do the claims of the bible have any relevance with respect to the age of the earth or the origin of species?” requires an answer where I must move outside my area of expertise and into theology. In my opinion, the writings in the Bible should be read in the context of their literary intent. That is, the poetry should be read as poetry. The history should be understood as history. The letters full of instructions to developing churches should be taken as instructions. The Bible is not meant to be a scientific text. Therefore, I find no Biblical grounds for believing in a literal seven-day creation nor for insisting that all species were created de novo, although I realize that many whom I respect do not agree.

    In addition, because my faith is grounded in the historical evidence of Jesus, the witness of the Church and my experience, I do not find that evolution, per se, threatens my faith in the least. It appears to me that the Genesis creation accounts focus on who did it and why He did it, not how. My issues with aspects of evolutionary theory were initiated as a result of my doctoral studies on phosphodiesterases about twenty years after I made my faith commitment—again, a fuller explanation can be found in my book (p. 26). In short, they arose from science, not faith.

    I see myself as an evolutionary agnostic because there is intriguing scientific evidence that could be interpreted as indicating common descent, but there are gaps in our knowledge of how this might have happened, if indeed we are interpreting the data accurately in the first place. For example, there are many theories about how random mutations might lead to increasing information, but few are anywhere near convincing. In the future the neo-Darwinian mechanism may be shown sufficient to explain the specified complexity of life—or not. I do not have the faith that Mr. Matzke exhibits in “science of the gaps.” Rather, I am quite comfortable to say, “I don’t know,” simply because my worldview is neither based on science nor on the need to prove the accuracy of a theory based on materialistic presuppositions, but on the Bible. Whether evolution, in all its glory, is true or not does not rock my world. However, when speakers at Christian groups who say that they are open to honest discussion demean those with whom they disagree, that does—and thus I object.

    Finally, Ted, I am certainly not posturing myself as a threat to ASA nor am I threatened by ASA. Rather, I am a concerned ASA member trying to raise legitimate concerns about the organization’s adherence to its stated goals and values. AITSE, the organization that Denyse mentioned, has the mission of providing education to enhance scientific understanding and integrity. It seems to me that we have a different, but complementary, role in the world of science. Hopefully, that will continue. I look forward to meeting you, perhaps in San Diego.

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