Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community


At Mind Matters News: Would cognition in bacteria “dethrone” humans?

Takehome: Of course we can “see ourselves” as an earthworm. But it doesn’t work in reverse. And Pamela Lyon sheds no light on that fact, apart from denigrating humans. Read More ›

New Video Presentation on YouTube: Intelligent Design & Scientific Conservatism

I have recently posted a new video on my Intelligent Design YouTube channel. In this video I discuss several areas in the philosophy of science and modern evolutionary biology, and their relationship to ID. These thoughts were prompted initially by an interesting paper by philosopher of science Jeffrey Koperski ‘Two Bad Ways to Attack Intelligent Design, and Two Good Ones’. Koperski thinks that one good way to critique ID is to point out that it violates principles like ‘scientific conservatism’. Because there are several potential naturalistic mechanisms on the table, even if orthodox neo-Darwinism fails, ID is an unnecessary proposal. To turn to design explanations would be to adjust our theories too drastically. I argue against this claim, concluding that Read More ›

Writing Science Fiction Helps Students Understand Science Better

A recent study published in Issues in Teaching Earth Science suggests that having student write a science fiction story incorporating a concept helps them understand the concept better. Students in an introductory college geology course engaged in one of two exercises to learn more about the concept of cross cutting relationships, a major principle in stratigraphy. One exercise involved writing a report on the concept, the other involved writing a science fiction story based on the concept. Preliminary results suggest that students who engaged with the material within the context of science fiction writing gained a deeper understanding. While the study was focused on geological concepts, we might suggest that Darwinists have been writing science fiction for decades and publishing Read More ›

What Does It Mean To Be Human? Don’t Ask A Darwinist

“What does it mean to be human?” is one of the fundamental questions we all ask.  Every once in a while something happens to remind us that those influenced by Darwinism usually only answer the question with “not much”.   As a case in point, just today it’s being reported that the father of a son born with two rare diseases was trying to raise money for medical expenses.  He had put up signs at a local mall to raise awareness and funds.  “KC Ahlers said he posted six signs around the Franklin Park Mall in Toledo, Ohio to spread awareness about an upcoming fundraiser for his 4-month-old son, RJ. The father told WTVG on Friday that he discovered three additional Read More ›

Interview with Berlinski on “Human Nature”

In a couple of prior posts, here and here, we mentioned David Berlinksi’s new book Human Nature.  Here’s a podcast of Berlinksi being interviewed by Jonathan Witt, regarding the book.    On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher, mathematician, and Discovery Institute Senior Fellow David Berlinski answers questions from Jonathan Witt about Berlinski’s celebrated new book Human Nature. Is evolution carrying us upward to new heights of human goodness, as some have claimed? If not that, then will a computer-connected singularity take us on that upward trajectory, as Yuval Noah Harari argues in Homo Deus? With his famous quick wit, Berlinski says no, and warns of a new “explosion of religion,” but a new religion, one without rational grounding Read More ›

New Book by David Berlinski Challenges the Darwinian View of Progress

Evolution News has announced the publication of a new book by David Berlinski entitled Human Nature.  In Human Nature, Berlinski takes aim at the standard narrative of history in our secular culture, the fatuous Whig view that sees human life and human nature on an upward-inclining plane, evolving toward ever greater, even god-like enlightenment. In this telling, represented by the likes of Steven Pinker and Yuval Harari, an accomplishment like the Cathedral of Notre Dame is just part of the dark, regrettable past, which modern, secular men are in the process of transcending. What is medieval, they would have us believe, is embarrassing, whereas modernity, with its keystone of Darwinian materialism, means peace, contentment, true understanding. Berlinski’s wiser perspective sees Read More ›

Matzke is Back on the Flagellum Horse

In October 2006, Nick Matzke, a name not unfamiliar to denizens of UD, and Mark Pallen co-authored a review article for Nature Review of Microbiology regarding the status of research into the evolutionary origins of the bacterial flagellum.  Matzke and Pallen felt the need to write such an article because since the publication of Michael Behe’s book “Darwin’s Black Box” ten years prior, there had been much hand waving and hand wringing over exactly what is the evolutionary explanation for the seemingly irreducibly complex flagellar system.  Matzke’s first line of attack prior to the ’06 article was to lurk various discussion threads and offer up lists of studies that supposedly provided the very thing that Behe said was nowhere to Read More ›

My Tribute to Phillip Johnson

Many of us here were greatly influenced by Phillip Johnson’s books, articles, and lectures. Indeed, if not for Johnson, this blog might never have come to be. Like so many, I was saddened to learn of his death on November 2nd. While several of Johnson’s fellow academics and colleagues have written some wonderful tributes to him, I wanted to give one from the perspective of a layman. My tribute was published in The Stream last week and republished today over at Evolution News.

But who says today’s philosophers must make sense?

A friend can’t make sense of this, from philosopher Keith Frankish in Aeon: Consciousness is a life-transforming illusion So, again, what is consciousness for? In his 2011 book Soul Dust, Humphrey proposes a novel idea. He argues that consciousness enriches life. It doesn’t add information; it adds interests and goals. Qualia are wonderful, magical things, and conscious creatures enjoy having them. They relish their sensations, and this relish gives them a deeper interest in their own existence. They also project qualia onto their surroundings and take a deeper interest in them too; and they come to think of themselves as having a self, which is of great importance to them. These developments, Humphrey argues, have great survival value and explain Read More ›

Try thinking harder about supporting National Public Radio

From NPR: Don’t Believe In Evolution? Try Thinking Harder … The theory of evolution by natural selection is among the best established in science, yet also among the most controversial for subsets of the American public. It’s appalling that this pysch prof can get away with misinforming the public about the fact that evolution by natural selection (= Darwinism) is increasingly regarded as a millstone around the necks of evolutionary biologists, so few are its demonstrated effects. By contrast with the many common, little-publicized modes of evolution, such as horizontal gene transfer and genome doubling, to say nothing of genetic drift. For decades we’ve known that beliefs about evolution are well-predicted by demographic factors, such as religious upbringing and political Read More ›

You: a trillion tiny random machines

In “How You Consist of Trillions of Tiny Machines,” a review of two books, Australian palaeontologist Tim Flannery encapsulates the problem facing origin of life studies. Assessing Paul Falkowski’s Life’s Engines: How Microbes Made Earth Habitable, he notes, Today, driven by ongoing technological innovations, the exploration of the “nanoverse,” as the realm of the minuscule is often termed, continues to gather pace. One of the field’s greatest pioneers is Paul Falkowski, a biological oceanographer who has spent much of his scientific career working at the intersection of physics, chemistry, and biology. His book Life’s Engines: How Microbes Made Earth Habitable focuses on one of the most astonishing discoveries of the twentieth century—that our cells are comprised of a series of Read More ›

Darwinian ethics

In this article in the Daily Telegraph (UK), we see some typical philosophical and cultural applications of Darwinism: People are unfaithful to their marriages Therefore, it is natural Therefore, it is right i.e. What is, is what is right. Since we are no more than nature, all that we do is thus natural – and who can object to that? Take away the Darwinian assumptions, and what is the basis of this article? There are none. But does the author ever examine those assumptions? Nope.

Was Norway shooter a Social Darwinian terrorist?

Breivik instead hails Charles Darwin, whose evolutionary theories stand in contrast to the claims of the Bible, and affirms: "As for the Church and science, it is essential that science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings. [Note: Also, the Finnish school shooter and the Columbine shooters attributed their actions to Darwinism. Barry Arrington here was the lawyer for the Columbine victims and ... Read More ›

Predisposed to believe

Science Daily reports “A three-year international research project, directed by two academics at the University of Oxford, finds that humans have natural tendencies to believe in gods and an afterlife.” As my friend added, “This research was quite costly – they could have saved money by reading the Bible!” Link here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714103828.htm I wonder how the New Atheists will take this research. There are two possible logical spins on it I can see, if you take the research’s conclusions at face value. You could say, “Belief is hard-wired – that’s why it’s so hard to reprogram people to think rationally!” But this avoids the key issue of why it would be hard-wired. That leads to the second possible response: “Belief Read More ›