Skip to comments."One Side Can Be Wrong" - Rebuttal of Dawkins/Coyne Evolution Opinion Piece
Posted on 09/10/2005 8:03:12 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger
On Thursday, September 1, renown humanist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins (known by some as Darwins Rottweiler) teamed up with evolutionary scientist Jerry Coyne to author an opinion piece opposing balance and fairness in teaching in the classroom regarding the topic of Creation/Intelligent Design versus Evolution, entitled One side can be wrong. I have read the piece and now offer my rebuttal.
Warning: the propaganda I refute below was structured to include not a small amount of hyperbole.
It sounds so reasonable, doesn't it? Such a modest proposal. Why not teach "both sides" and let the children decide for themselves? As President Bush said, "You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes." At first hearing, everything about the phrase "both sides" warms the hearts of educators like ourselves.
Were glad to hear it
but we know that as an ardent evolutionist, Mr. Dawkins and Mr. Cyone are disingenuous to pretend they are open to an equal and fair debate, as we shall see.
One of us spent years as an Oxford tutor and it was his habit to choose controversial topics for the students' weekly essays. They were required to go to the library, read about both sides of an argument, give a fair account of both, and then come to a balanced judgment in their essay. The call for balance, by the way, was always tempered by the maxim, "When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly half way between. It is possible for one side simply to be wrong."
This wouldnt be admitted unless Dawkins/Coyne believed they are right.
And, by the way, don't be fooled by the disingenuous euphemism. There is nothing new about ID. It is simply creationism camouflaged with a new name
First, lets make the distinction between Intelligent Design and Creationism. Creationism is founded in a belief in the Bible. Intelligent Design is an independent body of scientists who have arrived at the conclusion that there had to be a designer, but we dont know who he (or she, why not?) was. They also believe god (with the lower-case G) simply designed evolution.
to slip (with some success, thanks to loads of tax-free money and slick public-relations professionals) under the radar of the US Constitution's mandate for separation between church and state.
It will be interesting to find out what the trollish FRevolutionists will say to this argument about separation of church and state. This is an ancient argument, well-worn and ill-conceived
a French wine-stained and faded page from the Democrat playbook, a complete opposite from what the establishment clause was created for, and a complete misinterpretation of a semi-obscure phrase used by Thomas Jefferson.
Why, then, would two lifelong educators and passionate advocates of the "both sides" style of teaching join with essentially all biologists in making an exception of the alleged controversy between creation and evolution?
Watch as it is set up to say because Creation is not a legitimate viewpoint.
What is wrong with the apparently sweet reasonableness of "it is only fair to teach both sides"? The answer is simple. This is not a scientific controversy at all. And it is a time-wasting distraction because evolutionary science, perhaps more than any other major science, is bountifully endowed with genuine controversy.
Nothing like letting your opponent make your point for you! Evolutionists have appointed themselves the arbitrators of right and wrong in the realm of scientific debate. Since they are, by definition, evolutionists (representing one side of the debate) they would naturally repress any attempts at counter-argument because thats who they are. But since most of the evolutionists have managed to hold positions of authority in the hierarchical world of scientific elitist strata, they are able to repress any debate, disagreement, or opposition. The refereeing is rigged, in other words.
Among the controversies that students of evolution commonly face, these are genuinely challenging and of great educational value: neutralism versus selectionism in molecular evolution; adaptationism; group selection; punctuated equilibrium; cladism; "evo-devo"; the "Cambrian Explosion"; mass extinctions; interspecies competition; sympatric speciation; sexual selection; the evolution of sex itself; evolutionary psychology; Darwinian medicine and so on. The point is that all these controversies, and many more, provide fodder for fascinating and lively argument, not just in essays but for student discussions late at night.
In other words, the only debate that should be allowed is about the finer points of evolution. We must accept evolution as our schoolmasters demand of us, and not dare to question the governing council of scientific elite. Just like we should trust the powerful news media dinosaurs.
Intelligent design is not an argument of the same character as these controversies. It is not a scientific argument at all, but a religious one.
It is saddening that we can never hope for new arguments from evolutionists than this; Creationism is not science. It cannot be emphasized too often that evolution, like creation, begins with a fundamental premise which cannot be proven but must be accepted by faith. Evolution begins with the assumption that in the beginning there was nothing. Through cataclysmic events beyond our understanding, somehow order came from non-order, and life came from non-life, defying all scientific laws and odds to give rise to the complex forms of life we see today. Creation begins with the assumption that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Gods Word has proven infallible for the past couple thousand years, whereas science is undergoing a continual stage of evolution all its own. The underlying premises on which creation and evolution both begin with, and are sustained by, faith.
It might be worth discussing in a class on the history of ideas, in a philosophy class on popular logical fallacies, or in a comparative religion class on origin myths from around the world. But it no more belongs in a biology class than alchemy belongs in a chemistry class, phlogiston in a physics class or the stork theory in a sex education class. In those cases, the demand for equal time for "both theories" would be ludicrous. Similarly, in a class on 20th-century European history, who would demand equal time for the theory that the Holocaust never happened?
Once again, another page out of the well-worn playbook make your opponent look absurd; an age-old logical fallacy. Dawkins naturally does not acknowledge the various legitimate scientific challenges that exist in opposition to evolution. When they are raised, the objections themselves are ignored in favor of scorning the individual raising them. (Funny thing is, in any other form of debate, this degrading into the defamatory is an indication of victory)
So, why are we so sure that intelligent design is not a real scientific theory, worthy of "both sides" treatment? Isn't that just our personal opinion?
It is an opinion shared by the vast majority of professional biologists, but of course science does not proceed by majority vote among scientists. Why isn't creationism (or its incarnation as intelligent design) just another scientific controversy, as worthy of scientific debate as the dozen essay topics we listed above?
Dawkins clearly anticipated that someone would raise the objection that majority does not dictate morality. Yet this is the appeal to authority we find most often in the creation/evolution debate. Notably, the list of Steves
a list of people who agree with evolution named Steve. Naturally, those who incorporate this argument do not answer whether or not they would shift their opinion if the majority of scientists did.
Here's why. If ID really were a scientific theory, positive evidence for it, gathered through research, would fill peer-reviewed scientific journals. This doesn't happen. It isn't that editors refuse to publish ID research.
Once again, theres nothing like letting your opponent make your point for you. Who runs these scientific journals? Should we take a poll to determine whether or not they support evolution? Wed find an overwhelming majority do. This is once again resembles The New York Times or another left-leaning publication refusing to publish conservative materials refuting liberal ideology, and then the editor going on network television to insist that conservatism is not a legitimate point of view, because they are not published in scholarly or professional publications.
There simply isn't any ID research to publish. Its advocates bypass normal scientific due process by appealing directly to the non-scientific public and - with great shrewdness - to the government officials they elect.
In other words, evolutionists refuse to read research and theorems by Creationists (for instance, the White Hole Cosmology theory by Russ Humphries) and therefore fabricate grounds on which to reject evolution. Convenient, isnt it?
The argument the ID advocates put, such as it is, is always of the same character. Never do they offer positive evidence in favour of intelligent design. All we ever get is a list of alleged deficiencies in evolution. We are told of "gaps" in the fossil record. Or organs are stated, by fiat and without supporting evidence, to be "irreducibly complex": too complex to have evolved by natural selection.
One cannot begin inserting an opinion without first giving just cause for why the current opinion is inadequate. Creationists first show the enormity of inconsistencies and conflictions in evolution as an explanation of origins, and then steps in with a demonstration of exactly why evolution wont work, but why creationism does fit.
As well, you notice that Dawkins really does not answer the challenges given to evolution. Except for these challenges, evolution is dandy, he in effect states. Yes, and except for 9/11, were getting along with terrorist states just fine!
In all cases there is a hidden (actually they scarcely even bother to hide it) "default" assumption that if Theory A has some difficulty in explaining Phenomenon X, we must automatically prefer Theory B without even asking whether Theory B (creationism in this case) is any better at explaining it.
Im not even sure where this mischaracterization comes from...it borders on the level of fiction. There exists not a single creationist who pounds a pulpit, deals out rapid-fire objections to evolution, and then sits back and folds his arms, grinning, confident that the crowds must now accept creationism. Clearly Dawkins and Coyne have not done their homework about the opposition, or else they would know otherwise.
Creation materials often focus initially on disproving evolution (given its widespread acceptance and/or propagation) to demonstrate the need for accepting creation. Show the inadequacy for the current foundation, or belief system, then show how the foundation of Creationism works instead. It demonstrates how creation actually works with the current evidence. In other words, knock down the old foundation before building the new one. Creationists must peel back the layers of evolutionary propaganda that have been tacked on by educators and pro-evolution scientists who are eager to see future generations continue the crusade of proving an absence of God by a presence of evolution.
What evolutionists would have you believe is that the evidence all points towards evolution, and that evolutionists have scarffed up all the evidence, leaving creationism without any. The fact is, creationism uses the same evidence as evolution, and arrives at a different conclusion. The facts do not speak for themselves; they need someone or someones to interpret them. As Stephen Jay Gould said, "Facts do not 'speak for themselves' they are read in light of theory."
Evolutionists are pre-fitted and preconditioned with evolutionary bias, and thus interpret the evidence towards evolution. Likewise, Creationists are convinced that the Bible got it right the first time, and thus interpret the evidence according to the Bible.
Note how unbalanced this is, and how it gives the lie to the apparent reasonableness of "let's teach both sides". One side is required to produce evidence, every step of the way.
It is only now, now that we have entered the Blogospheric age, that evolutionists are suddenly compelled to produce evidence for their claims. And it is only now that the mass public has suddenly woken up and decided that it doesnt have to accept every word from the mouths of science elites as gospel.
The other side is never required to produce one iota of evidence, but is deemed to have won automatically, the moment the first side encounters a difficulty - the sort of difficulty that all sciences encounter every day, and go to work to solve, with relish.
And THIS reminds me of media elites, whining about conservative bias in media. (See, for instance, Maureen Dowds recent column about the media press dinner Bush hosted, where Dowd alleges that the press fawned over Bush, following him around in packs every time he moved.) Evolutionists present scant conclusive evidence to back up the claims of evolution, but with enough pulpit-pounding and affirmation of their own, its successfully infiltrated society. It is only in the minds of Dawkins and Coyne that the other side automatically wins if a theory is presented difficulty. (If only it were that easy!)
What, after all, is a gap in the fossil record? It is simply the absence of a fossil which would otherwise have documented a particular evolutionary transition. The gap means that we lack a complete cinematic record of every step in the evolutionary process.
Observe, class, how Mr. Dawkins (or Mr. Coyne, this sounds more like one person authored it, and another signed his name alongside) downplays the grave (get it?) problem that presents one of the biggest challenges to evolution. It is not simply anything! We do not lack a few pieces of the puzzle
we lack any evidence that the puzzle ever existed! The fossil record has been a problem to many evolutionists
many have been caught admitting as much!
"If I knew of any Evolutionary transitional's, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them in my book, 'Evolution' " Dr. Colin Patterson, evolutionist and senior Paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History.
"The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualist accounts of evolution." Stephen Jay Gould, Professor of Geology and Paleontology, Harvard University
"The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as a trade secret of Paleontology. Evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils." Stephen Jay Gould, Professor of Geology and Paleontology, Harvard University
"Scientists concede that their most cherished theories are based on embarrassingly few fossil fragments and that huge gaps exist in the fossil record." Time Magazine
"Contrary to what most scientists write, the fossil record does not support the Darwinian theory of evolution because it is this theory which we use to interpret the fossil record. By doing so we are guilty of circular reasoning if we then say the fossil record supports this theory." Dr. Ronald R. West
"It remains true, as every paleontologist knows, that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of families, appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual completely continuous transitional sequences." Dr. George Gaylord Simpson of Harvard
But how incredibly presumptuous to demand a complete record, given that only a minuscule proportion of deaths result in a fossil anyway.
Evolution (as a theory of origins) maintains that ancient primordial goo gave rise to complex life forms. (Presumably, this includes evolutionists, but we might be pushing it just a little) Therefore, if the entire story, the entire tale since this accidental creation was of death and transition down through countless eons of time, one would expect to find no less than a hundred undeniable fossil specimens which prove the simple-to-complex evolution. My friends, we have not found one, not one indisputable transitional fossil. Dawkins and Coyne are attempting to gloss over the egregious difficulties this provides evolutionists with by insisting it is simplistic and foolish to expect it to be the case. Behind the scenes, theyre scratching their heads about the very problem Darwin himself confessed was the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory.
"Why then is not every Geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record." Charles Darwin
The equivalent evidential demand of creationism would be a complete cinematic record of God's behaviour on the day that he went to work on, say, the mammalian ear bones or the bacterial flagellum - the small, hair-like organ that propels mobile bacteria. Not even the most ardent advocate of intelligent design claims that any such divine videotape will ever become available.
Even the most ardent, snide and arrogant evolutionists would not advocate the need for it. Is this what qualifies as evidence for creation? Home video of some Da Vinci-style God zapping trees into place? Creationists have wondered exactly what qualifies as evidence for creation, since any and all evidence (or, rather, alternate interpretations of the same evidence) currently offered in support of creation is denied.
Yet it seems Dawkins and Coyne are going against their own policy
they just launched an attack against a typical mischaracterization of creationist beliefs. Once again, they insist that evolution is scientific in origin, and creation is sheer philosophical hogwash. Both are, by definition, faith in practice. Evolution simply has more professors advocating it. (Remember, to profess is to preach, confess or acknowledge something
so a professor is preaching, confessing or acknowledging something
in this case, evolution)
Biologists, on the other hand, can confidently claim the equivalent "cinematic" sequence of fossils for a very large number of evolutionary transitions. Not all, but very many, including our own descent from the bipedal ape Australopithecus.
I should dearly like to see examples
particularly when the Australopithecus series was already determined to be ape...not human.
And - far more telling - not a single authentic fossil has ever been found in the "wrong" place in the evolutionary sequence. Such an anachronistic fossil, if one were ever unearthed, would blow evolution out of the water.
The claim means nothing
not a single fossil has been found out of place with evolution? Just one of myriads of fossil finds that has forced revisions in evolutionary thought was the baby dinosaur shown in a mammalian fossil, disrupting the postulated evolutionary order.
As the great biologist J B S Haldane growled, when asked what might disprove evolution: "Fossil rabbits in the pre-Cambrian."
Would that be the same J B S Haldane who was a Communist, advocating socialist principles and who said If I live to see an England in which socialism has made the occupation of a grocer as honourable as that of a soldier, I shall die happy? He also was quoted as saying in 1949 that evolution could never produce various mechanisms, such as the wheel and magnet, which would be useless till fairly perfect.
Evolution, like all good theories, makes itself vulnerable to disproof. Needless to say, it has always come through with flying colours.
A rather grandiose claim, considering the drastic transformations the theory has undergone in recent decades.
Similarly, the claim that something - say the bacterial flagellum - is too complex to have evolved by natural selection is alleged, by a lamentably common but false syllogism, to support the "rival" intelligent design theory by default. This kind of default reasoning leaves completely open the possibility that, if the bacterial flagellum is too complex to have evolved, it might also be too complex to have been created.
The incredible absence of logic in this paragraph (particularly the last sentence) is absolutely staggering. You cannot obtain such an intense level of complexity by natural selection or mutation that you would obtain from a divine Designer. It is a kind of bizarre backwards rendition of the traditional teleological argument in favor of the existence of God.
And indeed, a moment's thought shows that any God capable of creating a bacterial flagellum (to say nothing of a universe) would have to be a far more complex, and therefore statistically improbable, entity than the bacterial flagellum (or universe) itself - even more in need of an explanation than the object he is alleged to have created.
This betrays an intense amount of arrogance on the side of these two authors. To assume that an entity is too complex to exist, strictly because the concept of God necessitates a level of complexity beyond the mortal understanding of two human beings, is absurd. If one were to assume God exists, then one would also assume that He transcends human wisdom and thought. A God that designs and builds natural mechanisms that befuddle modern science to this day would, by definition, be slightly above the intellectual capacity of these authors. Modern science is still trying to figure out why the flag flutters.
If complex organisms demand an explanation, so does a complex designer. And it's no solution to raise the theologian's plea that God (or the Intelligent Designer) is simply immune to the normal demands of scientific explanation.
This doesnt make a whole lot of sense. Ill repeat; if God exists, He would, by definition, be outside of all human attempts to justify His existence. Dawkins/Coyne will get nowhere by alleging that demanding for proof of Gods existence is at all equivalent to insisting that evolutionists present demonstrable proof of particle-to-people evolution. But isnt it convenient! Ill tell you this if you tell me that knowing full well no one can tell you that. The ground is then laid to dismiss the need to present their own evidence. Quite convenient indeed.
To do so would be to shoot yourself in the foot. You cannot have it both ways. Either ID belongs in the science classroom, in which case it must submit to the discipline required of a scientific hypothesis. Or it does not, in which case get it out of the science classroom and send it back into the church, where it belongs.
Permit Creationism and Intelligent Design (I cannot emphasize too often for the reader the difference between these two) in the elitist circles of pro-evolution scientific studies, and then well see.
In fact, the bacterial flagellum is certainly not too complex to have evolved, nor is any other living structure that has ever been carefully studied.
I beg to differ
Dr. Dudley Eirich has written on the subject here and further documentation of the complexity of bacterial locomotion is located here.
As well, regardless of current level of complexity, Dawkins and Coyne ignore the problem of how these complex mechanisms could have come to exist randomly in the first place. Mutations do not add positive information to the genetic code
how else could these processes have arrived?
Biologists have located plausible series of intermediates, using ingredients to be found elsewhere in living systems. But even if some particular case were found for which biologists could offer no ready explanation, the important point is that the "default" logic of the creationists remains thoroughly rotten.
You dont expect an ethologist (studies animal behavior) like Dawkins, or an evolutionary scientist like Coyne to readily confess how woefully flawed and fallible the sciences they practice actually are? In fact, Mr. Coynes website says that he is actively working on problems relating to Darwinism quote: the laboratory's main focus is on the original problem raised by Darwin: the origin of species.
Lets approach this with a healthy amount of skepticism, folks. Evolutionary elites are conditioned to having every word they utter being accepted as scientific fact no matter how often they change their story. Will they freely admit the intrinsic flaws or prejudice inherent to the study of evolution? I dont think so.
There is no evidence in favour of intelligent design: only alleged gaps in the completeness of the evolutionary account, coupled with the "default" fallacy we have identified.
This is a common misunderstanding, although I scarcely doubt that Mr. Dawkins or Mr. Coyne actually misunderstand the concept. Creationism (and Intelligent Design) do not use different evidence than evolution. You do not have a Creationist and an Evolutionist pawing through a paleontological dig, and the creationist grabs a bone and examines it closely, then his face falls, and he tosses it to the evolutionist saying aw nuts, another one for your stack. Rather, the evidence remains the same, and the interpretation (weve already learned that the interpretation is subject to scientific preconceptions, which are rampant to say the least) is what differs from creation to evolution.
And, while it is inevitably true that there are incompletenesses in evolutionary science,
Thats putting it mildly.
the positive evidence for the fact of evolution is truly massive, made up of hundreds of thousands of mutually corroborating observations. These come from areas such as geology, paleontology, comparative anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, ethology, biogeography, embryology and - increasingly nowadays - molecular genetics.
We are proud proud, I say to know that evolution boasts proponents in all scientific fields of study. What is NOT presented is the fact that the theories and postulations resulting from so many different fields is contradictory, and as previously stated, continually forces the theory of evolution to evolve. Their explanations are always tentative; their theories can be expected to prevail only as long as they outperform rival explanations of the same event or phenomena. As soon as the newest piece of information is discovered, the master template of evolution is quietly removed from the publics eye (leaving a carbon-copy facsimile) whereupon it is thoroughly scrubbed, the old parts (now discarded and disqualified) snipped and trimmed away, modified to fit with the latest and greatest data, and then quietly (taking months or years) the new version trickles its way down into society.
Geology: Evolutionists still insist that it takes millions of years for stalactites/stalagmites to form in caves, or for erosion to create gullies/valleys/canyons. This argument does not provide adequate evidence for evolution, since in many cases, these things have proven to take place quickly.
Paleontology: Fossils dont present themselves as 65 million years old. Scientists dig them up, fit them with their preconceived notions of the age of the earth, and brand them as millions of years old.
Comparative anatomy: Sometimes referred to as structural homology. In short, how different structures of anatomy in humans and animals is similar. (IE, you have five digits on your hand, a bat has similar outstretched digits, a dog, a duck, a bear, etc.) Unusual that this should be brought forth as evidence for evolution; genetic mapping has long since removed any question that the resemblances in anatomical structures are related. Rather, they reflect a common Designer.
The weight of the evidence has become so heavy that opposition to the fact of evolution is laughable to all who are acquainted with even a fraction of the published data.
And once again, an appeal to emotions
an attempt to make anyone reading desire to be looked upon as smart, wise and intelligent because the authors are insisting that only smart people believe in evolution. As if this is anything new.
Evolution is a fact: as much a fact as plate tectonics or the heliocentric solar system.
Wrong. Evolution is speculation based on a majority of scientists formulating opinions and interpreting evidence to fit the framework of their already-existing preconceptions.
Why, finally, does it matter whether these issues are discussed in science classes?
Preferably, a whole lot of time is not spent on the subject. People make a big deal about teaching Intelligent Design or Creation in the classroom. People, how much time do you think you HAVE to spend on Creation or Evolution? Since Ive been told over and over that biogenesis is scarcely a part of evolution (a convenient factor, since they can ignore how on earth evolution got started to begin with by saying thats not my department, let me transfer you.), the question of origins should hardly take an entire class to discuss.
There is a case for saying that it doesn't - that biologists shouldn't get so hot under the collar. Perhaps we should just accept the popular demand that we teach ID as well as evolution in science classes. It would, after all, take only about 10 minutes to exhaust the case for ID, then we could get back to teaching real science and genuine controversy.
Im soaked clear through in self-righteousness and priggishness. Luckily, the opinion piece is almost over.
Tempting as this is, a serious worry remains.
Be worried; be very worried.
The seductive "let's teach the controversy" language still conveys the false, and highly pernicious, idea that there really are two sides.
There are, and these authors are terrified that you might actually examine the other side. Therefore, by holding most of the referee positions, they are able to insist its not a legitimate point of view. Tell me; are you going to let a couple of arrogant elite scientists tell you what you can and cannot learn or teach your children?
I do not intend to bother with the arguments worth having since it is a simple regurgitation of arguments long since dealt with by creationist organizations such as the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis.
I would not dishonor any ancestors. But I do not currently have a Crow story in the Crow language. Will you accept one in English? Or, if you can provide a source for the story in Crow that I can find, I will do that as well.
In the beginning, Old Man Coyote stood alone with water surrounding him. Two ducks swam by, and Coyote asked if they had seen anyone else. The ducks said no but thought that something might exist under the water.
Coyote asked if they would travel underwater for him and report on what they saw. The ducks did as they were asked, finding nothing. He asked again, and the ducks returned with a root. On the third try, they found mud and Coyote was happy. He told the ducks that they could build with it, and he began to shape and mold the mud into an island. He blew on it, and it expanded. He blew again, and it grew into the earth. The ducks said they did not like the earth's emptiness, so Coyote created grass and trees out of the roots that came from the water.
Coyote and the ducks loved the earth, but it was flat. They wanted rivers, valleys, mountains, and lakes. So it was done. Soon Coyote and the ducks made a perfect earth, but they grew lonely, with only the three of them to sit and enjoy the land. So Coyote molded dirt to form men and then more mud to create many types of male ducks. Soon, they realized that without women, the males could not have children. So with more dirt he made women and female ducks to populate the earth.
One day Old Man Coyote traveled upon the land and was surprised to find another Coyote. When asked where he came from, the younger brother, named Shirape, said he was unsure of his origin and only knew he existed. As the two traveled along, Shirape wanted Old Man Coyote to make other animals, for only ducks, humans, and the two Coyotes had been created. The elder Coyote agreed, and as he spoke the new animals' names, they were created. He said "Elk" and an elk appeared. He said "Bear" and a bear appeared. This is how it was until all animals were created.
All of this could be true, and yet irrelevent.
Unless the theory states a specific agent or agency, such as the Christian God, then the scientific community, in whose ownership the theory now resides for discussion and testing, is free to postulate any agency they feel fits the terms of the theory, one of which could be the Christian God.
The Christian God is not a contingent agency of the theory, and to infer that it is...is simply untennable, especially for someone who prides themself on logic so much, that the term is reflected in their monker.
I assumed there weren't any creationists smart enough to read it and understand it, and I was right.
Go ahead, prove me wrong.
You must need a dose of humor on these threads again: didn't you see my reference to the Asimov short story?
As for the article you posted, I didn't read it at all--this is the first I had even heard of the subject at all, and I was skimming the thread looking for pun-worthy material.
But since you took it upon yourself to post to me, I read your posting.
My response is primarily, "Hey, cool!"
Enter random quote mode:
Schweitzer claims that there is "fresh-looking" material (at least to the naked eye), and is backed up by other evo. scientists.
No "Jurassic Park" footage, but here again, Schweitzer made easily misinterpreted statements contradicted by her published work. Just one example was her statement that the contents of vessels could be readily "squeezed out." Since she offered no laboratory procedure as a context, this left the impression that these remains just popped out of the bone as fresh as if the dinosaur died yesterday.
Adding fuel to the simmering sense of cultural inferiority many Americans harbor toward the British, the BBC Word News did a much superior job of reportage which is available online at, T. rex fossil has 'soft tissues'. There the reader learns that, "Dr. Schweitzer is not making any grand claims that these soft traces are the degraded remnants of the original material -- only that they give that appearance."
So from this I gather that the so-called "soft tissues" give a macroscopic appearance (without resorting to say detailed chemical analysis) similar to unfossilized original material--see the phrase "only that they give that appearance".
The second point I gather is that the scientists are keeping their powder dry either way:
(snip again, the following quote appears to be from Jack Horner...)
He also said, "It would be nice to know what this stuff is made of ... if there are proteins present, is it biological?" And, "We're not looking for DNA, we are trying to determine what this stuff is and why it is flexible."
The third point is that the creationists seem to have jumped the shark by claiming a) that the "soft material" in question is in fact unfossilized soft tissue (i.e., "is definitely" instead of "could possibly be, subject to testing and verification"):
The fact that this really is unfossilized soft tissue from a dinosaur is in this instance so obvious to the naked eye that any scepticism directed at the previous discovery is completely "history".
The fourth point is that there is (upon further examination) the appearance of microscopic, organic structure within the sample. This is the reason I said, "Hey, cool!". My understanding of dinosaurs and fossils is (by choice) approximately at the Calvin and Hobbes level: Tyrannosaurs in F-14's !!
This is the first I had ever heard of anything even resembling the preservation of microscopic organic structures within a fossil.
But the scientists again keep their powder dry, and do not assume that even the microscopic structures are necessarily the original protein and/or DNA (snip from earlier in article):
"This may not be fossilisation as we know it, of large macrostructures, but fossilisation at a molecular level," commented Dr Matthew Collins, who studies ancient bio-molecules at York University, UK. "My suspicion is this process has led to the reaction of more resistant molecules with the normal proteins and carbohydrates which make up these cellular structures, and replaced them, so that we have a very tough, resistant, very lipid-rich material -- a polymer that would be very difficult to break down and characterise, but which has preserved the structure," he told the BBC.
The fifth point is that one mistake made about the T.Rex fossil by Menton, is that he claimed the scientific papers made no mention of the nuclei in the red blood cells:
Regardless, Menton objects that, "While the authors report what appear to be red blood cells in both the dinosaur and the ostrich, they do not mention the presence of nuclei in the red blood cells."
But a citation from one of the scientific works--I believe it was the same one quoted by Merton--mentions the nuclei directly:
Most notably, an image taken from cortical bone of T. rex FMNH-PR-2081, are directly compared with those from fresh ostrich blood, and fresh chicken blood. Schweitzer et al say, "These microstructures are of a consistent size and character, and contain what appears to be a central nucleus (inset). These structures are virtually identical in size (approximately 20 µm), shape, and overall appearance with mature nucleated blood cells from ostrich (Fig. S1D) and chicken (Fig. S1E).
Sixth point: The prior claim notwithstanding, some testing of the fossil materials indicates that there are some actual non-fossilized materials left within the sample:
Comparison to the burial matrix, and other controls which showed little reaction clearly demonstrates that there are protein fragments assoiated with the fossil bone. The ratio of collagen reaction to osteocalcin reaction contrasted between the dinosaur samples and the chicken tendon and chicken bone samples helps further fix these as bone derived protein fragments.
But my wife's telling me it's time to go to bed...
If it is true, then it isn't irrelevant.
Unless the theory states a specific agent or agency . . . then the scientific community, in whose ownership the theory now resides for discussion and testing, is free to postulate any agency they feel fits the terms of the theory . . .
If no specific agent as a designer is specified then there is no theory. The "scientific community" doesn't recognize any such theory, just a handful of pseudo-scientists who keep asserting the same tripe that cannot, by the very definition of the theory "be tested."
I can postulate a theory that all new species are the result of Unicorn droppings but it isn't science until I can prove the existence of Unicorns as the source of the droppings, and therefore the new species. The theory cannot be "tested" because there is no evidence that Unicorns exist any more than a "designer" exists. It is all conjecture and will forever remain so.
The Christian God is not a contingent agency of the theory, and to infer that it is...is simply untennable
No it is tennable. It is the whole reason that Intelligent Design is being advocated, to eventually justify that the "designer" is the Christian God. As I said, I've read the Discovery Institute's website carefully. They are the only alleged "scientists" that advocate this theory anyway. It isn't like it is taken seriously in the general scientific community, it isn't.
especially for someone who prides themself on logic so much, that the term is reflected in their monker.
You don't know what I "pride" myself on, you aren't in my head and your lousy inference doesn't do justice to the concept of logic, which you apparently don't understand a nit's worth.
Because creationism is on a wrong-headed campaign to damage science education. We don't want to be dirty in that.
The Democrats make a mistake IMHO with their "big tent" embracing radical Aztlan activists, gay-lesbian activists, socialists, etc. But even they are smart enough to distance themselves from NAMBLA (at least, so far). A big tent can be too big.
Creationism hasn't had the visibility to cause much real harm, thus far. That's been lucky, because I've been looking at it for over six years now and it doesn't bear up under close scrutiny at all. It's nothing but nutcases who consider themselves allowed to lie and cheat as needed destroy science and science education.
I can especially except to get grief from the closed-minded Darwinists here, who are the most ingracious lot imaginable.
From a couple of posts, there are people here would like to ban me. They may be "Freepers," but they have a DU mindset.
Sorry if I offended you. The answer to your question is no, I missed your previous posts. I have been skimming through. these threads because there is such a high drivel content.
My only point is that the creationists on these threads are such an embarrassment to their religion. They fabricate quotes and repeat the fabrications after their lies are pointed out.
They misread science articles and repeat the misreadings after they have been pointed out. They mock their own religion by failing to police each other.
What explanations? I read the author's supposition and it basically boils down to:
It was dissolved in a lot of minerals, and somehow preserved in a way we don't understand yet.
That's a paradigm at work. The dating is unquestioningly assumed to be absolutely infallable (that's the paradigm), so attempts are made to explain away something that would, under any conceivable scenario (soft tissue samples), be impossible.
By the way, this is not unique to evolutionary biology. Other fields suffer from it, too. A couple of years ago, cocaine was discovered with Egyptian mummies. The immediate assumption was contamination because everyone KNOWS Egypt had no contact with the New World.
The Bat Creek stone is quietly ignored for the same reason (everyone "knows" there were no Jews in America circa 90 AD).
It's all about the paradigm.
Yes. His response in #65 completely missed the point that I'd made. He ignores Haldane's point (not an argument from authority by Dawkins but an attributed quote that supports Dawkins case) instead introducing the irrelevance that Haldane was a communist (which has nothing to do with either the strength or weakness of Haldane's scientific arguments which stand or fall on their own merits). Dave uses here a style of argument (ad hominem) which elsewhere in his own article he characterises as an admission of defeat. And then when called on it he gets offensive. Par for the course.
And still no replies to his critics are seen.
-- As you say, typical.
Darwin's third line of evidence came from biogeography, the study of the geographic distribution of plants and animals. I have already mentioned what Darwin called his "Law of Succession": living organisms in an area most closely resemble fossils found in the same location. This implies that the former evolved from the latter. But Darwin found his strongest evidence on "oceanic islands"--those islands, such as Hawaii and the Galápagos, that were never connected to continents but arose, bereft of life, from beneath the sea.
What struck Darwin about oceanic islands--as opposed to continents or "continental islands" such as Great Britain, which were once connected to continents--was the bizarre nature of their flora and fauna. Oceanic islands are simply missing or impoverished in many types of animals. Hawaii has no native mammals, reptiles, or amphibians. These animals, as well as freshwater fish, are also missing on St. Helena, a remote oceanic island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. It seems that the intelligent designer forgot to stock oceanic (but not continental!) islands with a sufficient variety of animals. One might respond that this was a strategy of the creator, as those organisms might not survive on islands. But this objection fails, because such animals often do spectacularly well when introduced by humans. Hawaii has been overrun by the introduced cane toad and mongoose, to the detriment of its native fauna.
Strikingly, the native groups that are present on these islands--mainly plants, insects, and birds--are present in profusion, consisting of clusters of numerous similar species. The Galápagos archipelago harbors twenty-three species of land birds, of which fourteen species are finches. Nowhere else in the world will you find an area in which two-thirds of the birds are finches. Hawaii has similar "radiations" of fruit flies and silversword plants, while St. Helena is overloaded with ferns and weevils. Compared with continents or continental islands, then, oceanic islands have unbalanced flora and fauna, lacking many familiar groups but having an over-representation of some species.
Moreover, the animals and the plants inhabiting oceanic islands bear the greatest similarity to species found on the nearest mainland. As Darwin noted when describing the species of the Galápagos, this similarity occurs despite a great difference in habitat, a fact militating against creationism:
Why should the species which are supposed to have been created in the Galápagos Archipelago, and nowhere else, bear so plainly the stamp of affinity to those created in America? There is nothing in the conditions of life, in the geological nature of the islands, in their height or climate, or in the proportions in which the several classes are associated together, which resembles closely the conditions of the South American coast: in fact there is a considerable dissimilarity in all these respects.
As the final peg in Darwin's biogeographic argument, he noted that the kinds of organisms commonly found on oceanic islands--birds, plants, and insects--are those that can easily get there. Insects and birds can fly to islands (or be blown there by winds), and the seeds of plants can be transported by winds or ocean currents, or in the stomachs of birds. Hawaii may have no native terrestrial mammals, but the islands do harbor one native aquatic mammal, the monk seal, and one native flying mammal, the hoary bat. In a direct challenge to creationists (and now also to advocates of ID), Darwin posed this rhetorical question:
Though terrestrial mammals do not occur on oceanic islands, aerial mammals do occur on almost every island. New Zealand possesses two bats found nowhere else in the world: Norfolk Island, the Viti Archipelago, the Bonin Islands, the Caroline and Marianne Archipelagoes, and Mauritius, all possess their peculiar bats. Why, it may be asked, has the supposed creative force produced bats and no other mammals on remote islands?
The answer is that the creative force did not produce bats, or any other creatures, on oceanic islands. All of Darwin's observations about island biogeography point to one explanation: species on islands descend from individuals who successfully colonized from the mainland and subsequently evolved into new species. Only the theory of evolution explains the paucity of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and freshwater fish on oceanic islands (they cannot get there), the radiation of some groups into many species (the few species that make it to islands find empty niches and speciate profusely), and the resemblance of island species to those from the nearest mainland (an island colonist is most likely to have come from the closest source).
Will IDists ever address this argument? Or will they continue to pretend that it doesn't exist?
For "it's inability" read "its inability" in my previous post.
Aha, God^h^h^h the designer could just has easily have designed things that way, for some mysterious reason. [/raving YEC you can't make me see contradictory evidence mode]
Will IDists ever address this argument? Or will they continue to pretend that it doesn't exist?
Aha, God^h^h^h the designer could just has easily have designed things that way, for some mysterious reason. [/raving YEC you can't make me see contradictory evidence mode]
The special thing about the biogeographic problem is that the evidence is incontrovertible. The fossils and presently existing species on isolated islands and archipelagos are a matter of record. So IDists face a tri-forking path of pain:
- acknowledge the evidence and say that the 'designer' has ways that surpass our understanding (thereby conceding that ID is in fact not science at all, since there is no ignoramus et ignorabimus in science);
- deny that the evidence exists (thereby conceding that they're as blind as Dawkins's watchmaker);
- ignore the evidence and the biogeography argument entirely (thereby opening themselves up even further to the ridicule they so richly deserve and so vehemently detest).
Nothing could preserve hamburger meat for 65 million years. That stuff looked like hamburger meat.
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