More Expelled! Reviews: Intelligent Design Film Chock Full of Hitler

The producers of Expelled! apparently invited a member of the New Orlando Sentinel to an early screening by accident. The result is another early glimpse at Ben Stein’s Intelligent Design flick that didn’t exactly impress so much as enrage the reviewer with its duplicity.

I lost track of the number of times Stalin’s image hit the screen, and in the ways the movie equated science with Darwinism with atheism with Hitler or Stalin. Subtle, it’s not.

The guy from the Sentinel did seem to think there was something to the “academic freedom” message of the film, however. Which means that it was effective enough to at least partially hoodwink even a hostile reviewer into thinking that ID proponents have been merely “shouted down” or even discriminated against on the basis of their beliefs. Educating viewers on this scam is going to have to be a major focus of efforts to counter this propaganda when it reaches a wider audience.

The reviewer also mentioned something I’d been previously unaware of: Stein was apparently involved in the utterly crackpot right-wing movement alleging that Bill Clinton was part of a huge murder conspiracy in Arkansas. He even wrote a forward to one of the books.

Stein wanted to call Expelled! “From Darwin to Hitler.” Perhaps a better title for this latest outing would have been “From One Loony Conspiracy Theory to Another.”

Addendum: More posts about more recent reviews: from Josh Timonen (his is nice and detailed), Richard Dawkins, & Greg Laden’s nearly endless linkfest about the infamous “Myers/Dawkins” showing in which Myers, a thanked interviewee, was refused entry to a showing.

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75 Responses to More Expelled! Reviews: Intelligent Design Film Chock Full of Hitler

  1. Matt says:

    It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.
    Oh, the sheer idiocy of the ID movement is funny anyhow. Ha!

  2. swandiver says:

    Knowing some very “religious” people, I often have the ID debate with them. Every time I tell them, “Show me the scientific method.” Until they can do that, it has no place in a science class. Hell, anyone can have a theory. They’re only slightly more rare than opinions and you know what opinions are like.

  3. cometothewell says:

    And they muddy the water for those of us who are people of deep faith AND deep scientific bias. I find no reason why I, as a believer, must support this ID travesty. Dawkins notwithstanding, I find no conflict between science and God. Absolutely, we must insist on the scientific method. How sorry the state of our faith must be if it can’t stand up to science.

  4. cometothewell says:

    PS: unrelated–a mild “criticism.” Shouldn’t your tag read “Science, Skepticism and Silliness”? I’m a newcomer to your blog, so you may take me with a whole handful of salt.

  5. Bad says:

    I considered that phrasing, but Silly is punchier. There really is no “correct” grammar for sentence fragments in any case. :)

    I doubt even Dawkins, by the way, would argue that one cannot be a good scientist and believe in God. He certainly would argue that the methodology of science is incompatible with faith, but even in his “God Delusion” book he starts out by noting that he isn’t attacking the “philosophers God” i.e. only revealed religion rather than deistic theisms.

  6. cometothewell says:

    Unfortunately, I’m an English teacher. So I might argue that! But I won’t.

    I’m not sure I can agree, though, that scientific methodology and faith are “incompatible”–it assumes a correlation that I don’t think exists. It is science and God that I believe are not at odds with one another, not science and faith. Faith is tied up with philosophy, and that can apply to either science or religion. Ah, semantics!

  7. batchoy says:

    well! i do agree with this thats and there is no need to debate on this issue .

  8. frodo441 says:

    Perhaps in the very use of duplicity is the answer…I would think that the main premise for the Intelligent Design theory is to avoid “social darwinism”…the theory that we all progress at the same rate in society…although not unlike the secularizing tendencies of Renaissance movements of all times…not unlike Leonardo DiVincis’ famed last supper…here the effort to convey the message of the Lord Jesus Christ was denoted out of a communal tradition and well set aside within the middle of the picture. I personally donot believe in a perfect universe…perfection goes against the grain of reason and the truth, should you ever really come to fathom the presence of sentient life with in the galaxies…does any one really ponder the odds. Granted the argument is extremely obfuscated by many well intentioned people. My self if the argument fundamentally relieves all this pseudo consumeristic aesthetic, I will be none to pleased.

  9. frodo441 says:

    I fathom the odds of sentient life forms in this part of the Universe to be something (off hand) 247,000,000,000 to 1. You have been prepared for the introduction of astrophysics since the 8th century bce. in origin and beyond…and you still ponder many of the same things as the ancients did. I shudder to think what the real time in our evolution really is.

  10. frodo441 says:

    Granted it is nice for people to want to believe in what they do in this economy of means, but the consumer aesthetic is too unconsciouble. It is likened to a dichotomy of reason somewhere between a dollar twenty nine and a million dollars…with everyone running around trying to fulfill their endeavor of being a rockstar, supermodel or hollywood actress…I can see the problem many of you have with this, considering first off, you must have to understand how movies are made today…movies, living in a factual contemporary homogenized learning surrogate must function on some sort of “time” truncation of actual times and events…they are spliced up images of movements throughout history with a personal flare that appeals to the public…a public that more often than not, seeks a new or rather predicatble expression through the median road…it is within the median road that has allowed this revolution to take place…in Sartre’s own words “with the displacement of a defunct nobility, a traditional underclass of citizens saw their opportunity to move up.”

  11. cubiksrube says:

    I finally got round to watching (and blogging about) one of the trailers for this lately. I figured it might be slightly more fair to the guy, to actually see how he presents it rather than just reading the responses from the skeptical community, but he really didn’t help himself.

    Incidentally, I think “faith” is much more of a problem incompatible with science than “God”. The latter is a hypothesis which, although it seems unlikely to me, many people hold to without necessarily being poor scientists or inadequate skeptics. But the idea of blind, unwarranted belief is anathema to the scientific process and to all reasonable thought. As Bad’s pointed out before, it’s rationality and critical thinking that are much more fundamentally important than anything which often results from them, such as atheism.

  12. BobC says:

    This movie which will be full of lies about evolution will only be attended by the flat-earthers, so it’s not likely to make our country any more stupid than it already is. The anti-science god-did-it nuts have always lost in court and always will lose in court. However, they have successfully harassed and threatened enough science teachers so that in some states half the public schools don’t teach evolution at all, and the students and parents don’t care. Something must be done to improve science education, but I’m not sure what the solution is.

  13. Tom G says:

    I don’t understand the issue or the heavy-duty reaction to the movie, “Expelled”. People of science are supposed to be unbiasedly open to exploration of evidences and theories. (Finding anyone who has no biases whatsoever is easier said than done.) Belief in God and belief in evolution are very compatible. Darwin’s own theory of evolution is another matter and aspects of that theory are up for debate among rational and truly scientific minds. What’s the big threat of ID? Science that rejects evidence for the existence of God has no plausable theory of first-cause. It makes scientific sense to at least explore the possibility.

  14. Matt says:

    Simply because doing so is not science. One thing science never does is introduce an unneeded mechanism to explain observed events or reactions. There are a number of scientific theories (some similar to others, some not) that have evidence to support them which explains the beginnings of the universe.

    ID is not a scientific theory, it’s not even a theory by definition. It is a hypothesis at best for it has no testable mechanism and also no evidence to support it.

  15. Tom G says:

    I would respectfully disagree with Matt. By definition ID is a theory because it does have evidence to support it. That’s what makes ID worthy of scientific consideration and what makes flatly disregarding it so unscientific.

  16. Mark says:

    I am at a friends house and don’t have the time to enter into this fully, but if what Matt says is true than most of the police work in the world is unrealiable and unscientific because they are most often coming into a scene “after the fact” and using the basic framework of scientific method applied to the scene of the crime to discover what caused it. If this isn’t reliable we need to shut down out court system. Of course it is a valid form of science – I am aware that the narrow “in the box” description of science requires the observation of the thing being studied, but it is just as valid to study the after effects of something in order to theorize about the cause. When it comes to the existance of a universe and everthing in it – the ONLY plausible answer is a god. Something which exists independent of the creation and has transcendant qualities. If the universe is finite, framed inside of space and time then the cause must transcend these qualities – the cause must be infinite in scope and power, not bound by time and not created itself. I don’t have time to go into this – I’m already late, but I will check in later to see how this blog is progressing. i just hope we can all stay “grown-ups” and not resort to the type of “creation” or “evolution” bashing which usualy takes place on these type of sites.
    I will later offer some info on the very real connection between socialism, communism and Darwinism (or evolution at large). I’m certain that a group like this must know that Hitler virtually always carried a copy of Darwin’s origin of Species around with him during his tyrannical movement.

    Also I would love to explain to the one who posted the comment of “flat earthers” as referring to creationists or ID proponents that nothing could be further from the truth. they might want to check out some of the information which is surprisingly somewhat accurate on Wikipedia on the subject of the Copernican Principle. This had virtually NOTHING to do with religion and neither he nor Galileo were persecuted for their heliocentric views.

    man I’ve got to go . . .-Mark

  17. Matt says:

    What testable evidence does ID have? The mechanism is claims is the force behind it can not be tested. All criteria listed by places such as the discovery institute, such as irreducible complexity, have been shown to be false. There is simply no evidence for ID which has not been taken apart by mainstream science.

    And the analogy to police work is false.
    Why? Because police forensics is all about coming up with a theory given the evidence at hand and then testing that theory through lab work. For example, those at the crime scene come up with the theory (by looking at the obvious evidence at the crime scene) that the victim was shot with a certain calibre weapon from a certain distances and angle. They then take that theory to a weapons testing lab where they set up the circumstances behind the crime and test them using all manner of tools and methods. Perfectly scientific.

    And then the above commenter proceeds with a logical fallacy, of trying to insert a mechanism for which there is no prove. There are perfectly good theories which explain the origins of the universe already. Theories which are being tested each and every day, refined as mistakes are found and time passes.
    And none of them involve a supernatural creator.

    Then he proceeds to, for whatever silly reason, tie social darwinism to Hitler. This tactic is old, false and also utterly irrelevant.
    * Social Darwinism existed long before Darwin was even a glint in his father’s eye. One of the biggest historical proponents of it was actually a guy called Thomas Malthus who was, oddly enough, a christian minister. Go figure.
    * It also does not a mean thing and is only a poor attempt to somehow tie morality to some form of supernatural creator, which again is just plain false given the horrible immoral acts carried out in the bible, the immoral laws laid down in it and that there are far more sensible theories about the origins of ethics and morality around anyhow.

  18. Mark says:

    I would have to take exception with most of what you said Matt – which I’m sure comes as no surprise. The testable evidence is found in a number of their fields of research. It was not an ID proponent that recognized the clear implications of the Big bang pointing to an “outside of the universe” cause – it has repeatedly been evolutionary scientists. It became an issue ever since the discovery of the Cosmic Background radiation – there had to be a beginning. Yes, there are some hypothesis out there for how something can come from nothing which avoid the “God hypothesis” but up until now – they have only created more questions than they have answered (I am not implying that they will not overcome these – it is simply a matter of current fact). Even Hawkings couldn’t avoid a beginning of matter, space and time without resorting to mathematical constructs based on false numbers (multiples of the square root of -1) which do not exist in reality. – and lest you think I’m dogging Hawkins – I am not saying he claimed the model to be real – he admits it is only a hypothetical construct – but what’s the point? Why develope a model which could have no existence in real physics? It’s impressive – not not relevant! Even the hypothesis of quantum fluctuations causing vitual particles to pop into and out of existence does not answer anything concerning the first cause. The quantum vacuum is replete with energy which had to have a beginning outside of itself. Sure their is an exchange rate from enery into matter (though it has never been proven that virtual particles even exist – they too are theoretical) and so it is plausible that virtual particles do in fact pop into and out of space but not existence/ They existed before in the form of energy – where did that energy come from?

    As for some for specifics in the area of evidence for some of the claims of ID – though I would not have used it – irreducible complexity is actually a very good example if you actually look at it unbiasedly. Every “disproving” I’ve seen of this relies entirely on taking the claims of irreducible comlexity out of context or making some reference to “a different type of mouse trap”. But that was not the issue – Behe was saying that you cannot arrive at THAT mouse trap or THAT complex cell by gradual steps – not in real science. Sure there have been some silly attempts but they are really reaching and have no testability themselves. You can test Behe’s statements – he has even offered some good plausible ways of doing so, but if someone has done so successfully, they did a terrible job and publicizing it – it would be front line stuff. Evolutionary magazines rarely miss an opportunity to slam creationsits or ID proponents (and I am not implying that the shoe does not sometimes fit equally well on the other foot – creationists and ID proponents have done their share of slamming as well – all of it is childish regardles of who is slinging mud).
    The example I offered of forensics is actually a very good one – I’m surprised that you seemed to miss it entirely. The methodology is the same – the only way around it is to claim foul ball when someone mentions it. I would be open (and I do not mean this in a attacking way) to hearing a logical and “in context” examle of irreducible complexity being proven to have no evidence. Even common sense tells you the ball does not roll uphill. In order to go from basic chemicals to even single celled life you need huge amounts of detailed and organizedinformation and more and more has to be added from some outside source to get it moving upwards. Neither mutation (which is virtually always realized as a deletion or distortion of information) cannot ADD information. This is very well supported in science – not by creationists but by honest scientists.
    I know I did not address everything you said, I have to do to dinner – it’s Valentines Day and all. I will come back and hopefully we can sustain a meaningful and non-competative dialog.
    Thanks for your comments.
    -Mark

    PS: I wasnot attempting to imply that Darwin was the seed of socialism – I do know some history. I do not think that is the claim of the movie either – though I have not seen it yet- so I cannot say. However, the whole idea of survival of the fittist does not exactly play into the paradigm of treating everyone with deference and respect. It fits better in the realm of whole sale slaughter – though it does not necessarily preclude this. I’m not sure where the Bible came nto our discussion, unless of course, you see it as the only book which is pro-creation or depicted wars in the name of a deity – which it is not and really isn’t the issue anyway. I agree that religion can be a source of tremendous “evils” but so can and has Darwinism. One thing Darwin has on most religions is – there is no God and therefore, there can be no none-subjective (my own word) morality for humans. There can be no “created equally” or “inalienable rights” these just become philisophical fodder for thinkers to ponder -when in reality it is the one with the biggest gun who dictates what is moral. If Darwinism is right -them moralty of subjective and up for grabs. That is one of the connections with social ism (I did not say that religon could not and had not been used the same way).

  19. Matt says:

    The testable evidence is found in a number of their fields of research.

    Such as? So far they have presented nothing I have seen or read about which has any scientific merit or has not already been examined by people that seem to know what they’re talking about.

    they have only created more questions than they have answered

    Which is the same as the supposed creator hypothesis in that regard, it does nothing but create more questions in itself. Where did that creator come from? What is his natural form? From where does it derive its morals and intelligence? Is it a single creator or part of a ‘pantheon’ of many such beings?
    All questions which are untestable, unanswerable and thus remove it from the realm of science entirely.
    It is also, as stated, trying to introduce a mechanism for which there simply is no evidence. There is no evidence for design (and, surely, is there was an intelligent designer then they sure did a rather poor job of it) and all such attempts to prove such have been shot down rather easily.

    Your argument about adding information from mutation or other mechanism is also false. Unless you subscribe that your supposed designer somehow magics information into organisms so they can adapt – and yes, science has many observed instances of organisms (both macro and micro) changing and adapting to environmental needs.

    I do not think that is the claim of the movie either

    By all accounts, it seriously else. A claim which is a complete falsehood, obviously.

    There can be no “created equally” or “inalienable rights” these just become philisophical fodder for thinkers to ponder -when in reality it is the one with the biggest gun who dictates what is moral.

    Then I have assume you have done no research into the social contract or that ethics/morality is also evolutionary in nature. We’ve seen what is regarded as ethical change over time as human society has progressed, certainly. Once it was thought just fine to burn people alive or brand them like cattle. Not anymore.
    It really is quite simple, those earliest of nomadic tribes that worked together (didn’t steal from each other, didn’t kill each other and so on) tended to have much greater survival rates than those that fell into bitter infighting and self centred acts such as rampant theft. We can see examples of this even in modern primates in their natural environment – they will remove members of their group who commit actions against the group permanently, exiling them, all for the greater survival of that whole group.
    Humans, really, have just taken that concept a couple of steps further.

    You speak of Behe as well, which is probably not wise. His testimony, as just one example, at the Dover trial portrayed him to be a man whose own definition of science would also include astrology and other crackpot concepts. It also revealed that he was considerably ignorant of a field he claimed expertise in (such as claiming science does not understand the human immune system, whereon dozens of peer reviewed papers were almost instantly produced to prove otherwise) and … well, if you read the trial transcript you’ll see for yourself. His later works, such as ‘Darwins Black Box’ has also come away from reviews being left in rather tattered shreds.

    But, like most ID proponents I have encountered, Behe is but one example of ignorance and a very low class of research. In a recent radio debate a man called Simmons, also from the discovery institute, debated PZ Myers.
    Simmons was shown to be rather ignorant of the theory he was there to disprove, not even knowing that dozens of whale transitionary fossils have been found, studied and carefully recorded – instead claiming none had been found and verified. Of course, Myers was then able to list off instantly the numerous finds which also showed the evolutionary progress of the whales airways from a front based nostril affair to the more modern blowhole arrangement.

    There is a reason the discovery institute is derided and generally ignored by scientists. The people working there have time and again failed to produced evidence that stands up to any sort of critical analysis, they have time and again been demonstrated to be ignorant of the fields they claim to be studying and they simply do not seem to understand what science actually is.

  20. Kat says:

    I’m at work skimming what everyone has said – waiting for my program to stop chugging through information. Please forgive me if I say anything already said.

    The problem I have seen is that ID’s premise starts with an assumption which they cannot prove. It’s a huge assumption also. Evolutionist have performed experiments that genetic information does mutate and simple cell organisms will adopt different traits to suit changing environments. There are more premises, but I think this is the driving force of evolution. There is no problem with science putting a question mark on the unknown.

    ID’s “research” is based upon the assumption there was an intelligent force which created species. Their premise has been questioned for centuries now. This says very little. ID scientists seem to know nothing but biology, information theory, and where evolution seems flawed.

    Basing your conclusion on the flaws of another theory does not strength your own – it most likely will piss off a bunch of scientists. Coming from a research lab, if ID scientists do not produce tangable results (which I haven’t seen and heard they do not), they are not going to obtain much funding. If their research, lets say they are right, does not lead to advancement – they will get little funding. Well, maybe they will from Churches. From my understanding, one of the scientists denied tenure “because of his beliefs” produced little funding ($22k) and no results. He was promoted to Assistant professor because he did not meet tenure requirements. ( I’m sure Ben Stein will not present that information either in the film. )

    All in all, ID looks hazy from a growth perspective as well as a scientific perspective.

  21. Bad says:

    TomG: I don’t understand the issue or the heavy-duty reaction to the movie,

    This is what I find most amazing about this latest “ahhhh we’re victims!” approach to selling ID though. In real science, hard-hitting criticism and skepticism are the norm, not treating things with kid gloves. Scientists are vicious when it comes to critiquing the work of their peers (who are, after all, in many ways, often their competitors).

    And on top of that, this particular movie is chock full of complete lies and slanderous accusations. It’s wrong to be passionately against that? How is that even close to fair? They can call scientists Hitler’s best friends, and then we aren’t supposed to vehemently disagree with that characterization?

    What’s the big threat of ID? Science that rejects evidence for the existence of God has no plausable theory of first-cause.

    Science may well not ever be able to address an ontological “first cause” in the sense that such a thing may not be testable. If so, so be it. Science has limits, and if you desire something outside of its scope, that’s for you to delve into, not science to basically break all its own mechanisms to get to.

  22. Bad says:

    Mark: I’m certain that a group like this must know that Hitler virtually always carried a copy of Darwin’s origin of Species around with him during his tyrannical movement.

    I’d like to see a citation for this, because in all the histories and biographies I’ve read of Hitler, I’ve never seen this. I highly suspect its completely made up. Hitler and his regime may have borrowed some evolutionary language just as they borrowed liberally from the long history of Christian Antisemitism, but sparingly in both cases and without much real depth. After all, evolution suggested that all Aryans are near cousins with all Jews, as opposed to the distinct creatures that Nazis believed. Evolution suggested that genetic mono-cultures are ultimately weak and artificial selection often creates ill-adaptive features. None of this really fits into the Nazi paradigm.

    Of course, it would be utterly irrelevant even if it was true. Hitler also wrapped himself pretty tightly in the cloak of Christianity, even though he and his cabal were decidedly more paganite (though not, as often claimed, atheists): does that mean that every Christian is Hitler’s best pal? No. Nor does the validity of a scientific explanation have anything to do with who liked it.

    Evolution is not a proscriptive guide to how to live life. It has never been. Darwin never thought it was, and virtually none of the major biologists who have carried it forward since have advocated it as such. And it still wouldn’t matter if they had. What matters to theories is the evidence for them or against them, period.

  23. erik says:

    Seriously… they are both based on faith. No one witnessed and no “evidence” exists from the beginning. Just because one is researched more does not make it true. There has been years of research on how humans can teleport this does not make it true. I can show evidence of me being in both Colorado and Arizona… did I teleport? I can say I did and you cannot prove otherwise. Bottom line – after thousands of years of research we have shown we cannot prove something does not exist. We can only prove what actually exists thus providing evidence.

    PS can someone show me the species that precedes termites – they cannot digest wood but the organisms inside them can. Neither can live without the other.

    Keep the faith!

  24. Bad says:

    Seriously… they are both based on faith. No one witnessed and no “evidence” exists from the beginning.

    I beg to differ. We use evidence of past events to learn more about the past all the time. There’s nothing out of the ordinary in doing this. In fact, you yourself do this all the time everyday in your life, so complaining about it being illegitimate in general seems pretty silly.

    Calling both people working off evidence vs. those just making things up as they go along “faith” seems like a pretty bizarre and paranoid characterization to me.

    I can say I did and you cannot prove otherwise.

    You’ve got things quite backwards: you can’t just go around insisting something like that and then demanding that others disprove it. You have to prove it first in order for anyone to take you seriously in the first place. Providing evidence that you were once in Colorado and then once in Arizona is not sufficient for anyone to take such claims seriously.

    PS can someone show me the species that precedes termites – they cannot digest wood but the organisms inside them can. Neither can live without the other.

    Actually, there are many species of creatures that can digest wood outside of termite stomachs. It’s not particularly rocket science to imagine that termite ancestors once chewed through wood merely as a matter of construction, imbibed the organisms already eating the wood in the process, and then from there forth the two co-evolved to rely on each other.

    That’s not to say that this is how it really happened, or that we know how it happened. We don’t: in this case we don’t have much historical evidence to point us towards a particular set of events. But the point is that you’ve offered nothing at all here to suggest that this part of evolutionary history would be implausible and impossible. And the fact that we don’t know every single historical event in the past does not mean that we have more than enough evidence to say with confidence what the overall pattern and picture was (anymore than we need to account for every second of your journey from Colorado to Arizona via conventional means to provide enough evidence to demonstrate that you rode there on a bus). We do.

    If you could raise some sincere problems with that picture, we might well have reason to think that other sorts of things were going on as yet unknown (though what those were would also have to be established by evidence). But you haven’t done so.

    As such, you haven’t even begun to justify your claim that its all based on “faith,” at least on the science side of things.

  25. Mark says:

    Matt Says:
    February 14, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    The testable evidence is found in a number of their fields of research.

    Such as? So far they have presented nothing I have seen or read about which has any scientific merit or has not already been examined by people that seem to know what they’re talking about.

    Darwinian evolutionists such as Kenneth Miller point us to the future hope of discoveries to the type III secretory system as a machine possibly co-opted on the evolutionary path to the flagellum – but no hard evidence. The argument is replete with problems, but it demonstrates that Miller, understands very well the testability of Behe’s claims for IC. Miller attempted to “sidestep this obvious point” at the Dover trial by conceding that Behe’s argument was testable but that it was a purely negative argument against Neo-Darwinism, not a positive case for intelligent design. Which is also not true.

    Take a cell, remove any part of its constituents, inject it into a host cell and see if this “part” can be or will be co-adapted to serve another function. This can be done by damaging the DNA causing a partially developed component. repeat this test over and over – does the cell ever adapt the “damaged part” into a functional part of the cell? Does it acclimate it’s components to serve a new function? . . . etc. there are innumerable ways to test this theory. These are some I just made up – Behe does in fact offer possible testing schemes as have Stephen Myers – Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards offer a whole plethora of ways to test their ID theories.

    As to Miller’s claim of no positive arguments being offer – Behe’s argument is based on positive evidence for design. What Miler really means is that he does not accept Behe’s positive argument – but he does so without testing it. More than not, if a scientist does not agree with the postulates of another scientist’s theories – they prove the ineffability of that theory by testing it. When they test it, they do not go to the theories’ author and demand that they create testing models – they test it themselves. However, in ID, they not only demand it, the continue to ignore those testing methods – claiming none have been offered. I find this highly suspect! Behe points to strongly positive grounds for inferring design from the presence of irreducibly complex machines, circuits and the like. The testable evidence is so powerful, and “right under their noses” that it often goes without notice. Find any irreducibly complex machine, discovery their causal history. Over and again one it is clear that irreducibly complex machines (mousetraps, motors, computer programs . . . etc.) were designed by intelligence. Behe and other design theorists like Scott Minnich and Stephen Meyer have offered positive evidence for the design of the flagellum based on standard uniformitarian reasoning, a method of reasoning which enjoys a long established history in science.

    Furthermore in the very Dover trial you refer to, mentions it.
    This quote is taken from October 12th, PM session Part 2

    “Q. Matt, could I ask you to please do one more exhibit for me? Exhibit 718, page 697. Can you highlight the paragraph which begins “in fact”? Dr. Behe, my understanding is this is an experiment that you proposed to be able to falsify your claims or your ideas, is that correct?

    A. Yes, that’s right.

    Q. I believe as we have gone through in your direct testimony, it’s one that could readily be conducted in the laboratories that we have today?

    A. Well, it would take effort, but it could be conducted, yes.

    Q. And Mr. Rothschild had asked you whether any intelligent design proponent has actually tried to do this experiment, is that correct?

    A. That’s right.

    Q. Sir, has anyone from the National Academy of Sciences ventured to take up this challenge to refute your claim through experimental evidence?

    A. Not to my knowledge, no.

    Q. Has anyone from the AAAS taken up your challenge to refute your claim through experimental evidence?

    A. No, not to my knowledge.

    MR. MUISE: No further questions, Your Honor.

    If there were no way to falsify, why would Rothschild attempt to grill him on it and why would Mr. Muise refer to it?

    Matt says:
    Which is the same as the supposed creator hypothesis in that regard, it does nothing but create more questions in itself.

    -So I see that you do not deny that they are both in the same boat.

    Matt says:
    Where did that creator come from?
    If the creator is the creator then “he” (please take as a gender neutral pronoun) is the ‘first cause’ – not the second. Nobody in science denies the fact that the first cause never had a cause. This is based primarily upon the Kalam argument – the question is not whatever exists has a cause – it is whatever begins to exist has a cause. In ID ‘God’ would not ‘begin to exist’ – therefore no cause. Back in the old days of “eternally existing matter” – Matter itself was the cause and therefore was assumed to be “not created” – it was the ‘first cause’.

    Matt says:
    What is his natural form? From where does it derive its morals and intelligence? Is it a single creator or part of a ‘pantheon’ of many such beings?
    All questions which are untestable, unanswerable and thus remove it from the realm of science entirely.

    This is not as factual as it might seem. As I stated earlier – many things can be inferred and tested concerning the character and intelligence by studying what was made by ‘him’. Why are mathematical theorems “beautiful”, why does music exist, why does music follow and obey mathematical laws and when they do not they are not “observed” as being beautiful but discordant?

    You claim that
    It is also, as stated, trying to introduce a mechanism for which there simply is no evidence. There is no evidence for design (and, surely, is there was an intelligent designer then they sure did a rather poor job of it)

    This is a poor and presumptuous argument from ignorance (a scientific term not a slam). Disteleology is an argument best settled between engineers that anyone else. The question is not whether a system could be better – the question is which compromises must be made in order to make the whole what it was designed to be. Using a computer as an example, for business man a laptop with a 17″ screen is a poor design because of portability issues. A video renderer may look at it and say poor design, it should have a better graphics adapter, a computational theorist might say bad design, it should have more memory, but a child, for whom it was designed the screen is exciting, the graphics show cartoon graphics exceedingly well, the RAM processes point and click children’s games without a hitch and the lack of bloated features makes it affordable for the parent buying for the child. You see in order to settle the question disteleology, you must know what in intended purpose of the thing created. One “purpose suggested by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards is discovery – for which we are admirably equipped for. You cannot possible call a design bad unless you know it’s intended function. As suggested by Gonzalez and Richards, the purpose of mankind can be inferred by their design, their location in the universe, the surrounding in which they have been placed . . .etc. which in turn tells us more about the one who create it . . .etc and so on. Yes, these are theoretical constructs but so is much of science.

    People like Miller and Dawkins attempt to use the human eye as a example of poor design.(I’d love to see them attempt to do better.) In fact it is hard to imagine how any improvement could be physiologically made without compromising other features. Their main uneducated gripe is why an IDer would create the retina upside down while placing its neural wiring facing incoming light, because it lessons the detail we can perceive, scatters the light and even creates a blind spot. The physiological reason for this is that the upside down retina allows for the eye to process the vast amount of oxygen needed for eye-sight in vertebrates, and the blind spots do not overlap so a “full”, uninterrupted image is processed in the brain. Now, how is that a bad design?

    Not to antagonize but, I would like to see if you (Matt) consider yourself intelligent. If so, suggest a better design within the framework of what “appears” to be our function (not necessarily the one I suggested here, but what you might infer from your surroundings and life – what would you say (if you had to) is our function as humans, what purposes – pursuits do we fulfill and then suggest a viable alternative design for which would help us achieve this goal better than the one we currently have.

    Matt says:
    all such attempts to prove such have been shot down rather easily.

    Oh really? like . . .

    Your argument about adding information from mutation or other mechanism is also false. Unless you subscribe that your supposed designer somehow magics information into organisms so they can adapt

    You obviously misread what I said. NO INFORMATION HAS BE ADDED. The examples Miller cites just creates a puddle of drool at his feet. They are all variation on the same theme – a copy of pre-existing information – regardless of whether it is from an exon, a gene or whatever does not represent NEW information – not even if it is shuffled. Never has any of this “new” information acquired entirely without aid, been able to demonstrate the arising of an unique protein, enzyme leading to a unique trait making an organism better adapted for survival in their indigenous environment. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER! It’s not been done or witnessed and certainly not to the point of the generation of a new and unique species! Sure evolutionists like to take animal pieces and by homology or cladistics like to claim ancestry – but empirically demonstrate it – No, not even close!

    yes, science has many observed instances of organisms (both macro and micro) changing and adapting to environmental needs.

    Micro yes- duh?

    Macro – PLEASE site a REAL example with verified empirical evidence:

    There can be no “created equally” or “inalienable rights” these just become philosophical fodder for thinkers to ponder -when in reality it is the one with the biggest gun who dictates what is moral.

    Then I have assume you have done no research into the social contract or that ethics/morality is also evolutionary in nature. We’ve seen what is regarded as ethical change over time as human society has progressed, certainly. Once it was thought just fine to burn people alive or brand them like cattle. Not anymore.

    Oh really? Perhaps you are too sheltered to know but such inhumanities to man are practiced all over the globe today, sure some for religious reasons -Muslims crucifying Christians and setting their arms on fire as the hang has been done by the dozens in 2007. Women murdering they and their husbands babies in America. In China, workers are often abused and mistreated – to the point of raping a woman and beating and branding her breasts until she is both mutilated and near death with infection . . .etc. Yeah, we’ve really evolved! Maybe you and I see these (or at least some of these) as disreputable and sick, but we are far from the majority!

    It really is quite simple, those earliest of nomadic tribes that worked together (didn’t steal from each other, didn’t kill each other and so on) tended to have much greater survival rates than those that fell into bitter infighting and self centered acts such as rampant theft.

    . . .and exactly how did they achieve this Utopian moralistic society and who were they? Usually the “peace” is kept by punishment.

    You speak of Behe as well, which is probably not wise. His testimony, as just one example, at the Dover trial portrayed him to be a man whose own definition of science would also include astrology?

    I’m beginning to wonder if you really read the transcripts. I understand how you could have come to this verdict if you only read part of them, but he clearly explain that he was using it as an example of how the word “theory” has been used to apply to things which “appear” to be true at the time – and so, if ID appears or is observed to be true for any reason for any part of the populous – science has no right to disqualify it unless it can disprove it.

    Matt says:
    It also revealed that he was considerably ignorant of a field he claimed expertise in (such as claiming science does not understand the human immune system, whereon dozens of peer reviewed papers were almost instantly produced to prove otherwise) and … well, if you read the trial transcript you’ll see for yourself.

    Okay, again, I’m wondering – did you read the transcripts at all?

    Trial transcript: Day 11 (October 18), AM Session, Part 1

    Q. Dr. Behe, is there another paper that scientists point to for the support that the immune system can be explained by this Darwinian process?

    A. Yes, there is. There is one more that I have to discuss. Here is a recent paper, again the year 2005, by Klein and Nikolaidis entitled The Descent of the Antibody-Based Immune System by Gradual Evolution. And on the next slide is an excerpt from the initial part of their discussion where they say, quote, According to a currently popular view, the Big Bang hypothesis, the adaptive immune system arose suddenly, within a relatively short time interval, in association with the postulated two rounds of genome-wide duplications.

    So these people, Klein and Nikolaidis, are going to argue against what is the currently popular view among immunologists and people who study the immune system on how that system arose.

    Q. And what is the Big Bang hypothesis that’s referred to here?

    A. Well, that’s kind of a label that they put on to kind of indicate the fact that the immune system appears in one branch of animals, the vertebrates, and any obvious pre-cursors or functional parts of such a system do not appear to be obvious in other branches of animals.

    So it seems like the immune system arose almost complete in conjunction with the branching of vertebrates from invertebrate.

    Q. Do scientists acknowledge that or treat that as a problem for Darwin’s theory?

    A. Well, in my experience, no, nobody treats such a thing as a problem for Darwin’s theory.

    Q. Do you consider it a problem?

    A. I certainly consider it a problem. But other scientists who think that Darwinian evolution simply is true don’t consider much of anything to be a problem for their theory.

    Q. Why do you consider it a problem?

    A. Because the — as Darwin insisted, he insisted that adaptations had to arise by numerous successive slight modifications in a very gradual fashion. And this seems to go against the very gradual nature of his view.

    Q. Now has this paper been held up by scientists as refuting claims against intelligent design?

    A. Yes, it has. As a matter of fact, Professor Miller cited it in his expert report, although he didn’t refer to it in his testimony. Additionally, I attended a meeting on evolution at Penn State in the summer of 2004 where one of the authors, Juan Kline, spoke on his work, and he interpreted it in those terms.

    Q. Now we have some quotes, I believe, from this paper that you want to highlight?

    A. Yes. Again, I want to pull out some excerpts from that paper just to show you why I regard this as speculative and unpersuasive. For example, they start with, by saying, quote, Here, we sketch out some of the changes and speculate how they may have come about. We argue that the origin only appears to be sudden. They talk about something as probably genuine.

    It probably evolved. Probably would require a few substitutions. It might have the potential of signaling. It seems to possess. The motifs presumably needed. One can imagine that a limited number. It might have been relatively minor. Quote, The kind of experimental molecular evolution should nevertheless shed light on events that would otherwise remain hopelessly in the realm of mere speculation. They’re talking about experiments that have yet to be done.

    Next slide, I have even more such quotations. These factors are probably genuine. Nonetheless. They might have postdated. Nevertheless. Albeit. It seems. This might have been. These might represent. They might have been needed. This might have functioned. This might have. And this might have contributed.

    So again, this is just a shorthand way of trying to convey that, when I read papers like this, I do not see any support for Darwin’s theory. I read them as speculative and — but nonetheless, people who already do believe in Darwin’s theory fit them into their own framework.

    and later he summarizes:

    Q. So all these papers that are being used to provide evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution, in particular, the mechanism evolution of natural selection, yet they don’t mention random mutation or natural selection in the body of the works?

    A. That’s correct.

    His later works, such as ‘Darwins Black Box’ has also come away from reviews being left in rather tattered shreds.
    – yes – I do not doubt it, but I have yet too see their objections based upon real empirical science – only bias posturing.

    But, like most ID proponents I have encountered, Behe is but one example of ignorance and a very low class of research. In a recent radio debate a man called Simmons, also from the discovery institute, debated PZ Myers.
    Simmons was shown to be rather ignorant of the theory he was there to disprove, not even knowing that dozens of whale transitionary fossils have been found, studied and carefully recorded – instead claiming none had been found and verified.

    Of course, Myers was then able to list off instantly the numerous finds which also showed the evolutionary progress of the whales airways from a front based nostril affair to the more modern blowhole arrangement.

    Please provide a reference for me to check this out. All of the studies I’ve seen show fragmentary skeletons which rely upon cladistics (which according to evolutionists who are against ID – is not scientific! The reasoning of cladists is “it looks like so it must be . . .”) and absolutely monumental evolutionary gaps with virtually no reference to the multitude of organs and systems which would have to be radically altered to bridge the gap between these species. It all boils down to “looks like, feels like science” with no honest appraisal of the difficulties (impossibilities) involved nor the mechanism to demonstrate how such changes took place.

    Kat Says:
    February 15, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    I’m at work skimming what everyone has said – waiting for my program to stop chugging through information. Please forgive me if I say anything already said.

    The problem I have seen is that ID’s premise starts with an assumption which they cannot prove. It’s a huge assumption also. Evolutionist have performed experiments that genetic information does mutate and simple cell organisms will adopt different traits to suit changing environments. There are more premises, but I think this is the driving force of evolution.

    There is a HUGE difference between making dominant genes recessive or recessive dominant and evolutionary adaptation to an environment. One only requires some genetic on/off switches, the other requires entirely new instruction manuals for assembling aminos, proteins, enzymes, structures and functions – never witnessed – I’m sorry!

    There is no problem with science putting a question mark on the unknown.

    ID’s “research” is based upon the assumption there was an intelligent force which created species.

    Evolution is based upon naturalistic assumptions. You’re point?

    Basing your conclusion on the flaws of another theory does not strength your own – it most likely will piss off a bunch of scientists. Coming from a research lab, if ID scientists do not produce tangible results (which I haven’t seen and heard they do not), they are not going to obtain much funding.
    This is not the foundation of ID – MANY ID proponents have become such – not due to theological preconceptions, but by searching for the answers traditional evolution was failing to provide. (Not to say some did not come from a theological basis, because I’m sure they did, but that is not the standard they should be judged by if so, then we should judged evolutionists as coming to their conclusions due to a naturalistic bias. No neither one is the right thing to do – you cannot judge a theory because you reject the beliefs or even the motives of the one developing it – it either stand or falls on it’s merits alone. Perhaps you should expand your reading to include those not opposed to ID.

    You might also wish to consider this list which is growing all the time:

    http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1207#list

    There is also a document entitled “A Scientific Decent from Dawinism” which has many signers (up to 1,000 signatures from scientists around the world in virtually every known discipline with some very prestigious name on it as well.

    Bad Says:
    February 16, 2008 at 10:26 am

    This is what I find most amazing about this latest “ahhhh we’re victims!” approach to selling ID though. In real science, hard-hitting criticism and skepticism are the norm, not treating things with kid gloves. Scientists are vicious when it comes to critiquing the work of their peers (who are, after all, in many ways, often their competitors).

    – aha! Bas – you show promise! What might you expect – to be the result of a growing group of scientists who do not simply just disagree with one scientist, but a naturalistic, materialistic group well-indoctrinated by their universities to accept Darwinian mechanisms without question. Who do you think subsidizes these universities? The same people subsidizing research. Evolution pays.

    And on top of that, this particular movie is chock full of complete lies and slanderous accusations. It’s wrong to be passionately against that? How is that even close to fair? They can call scientists Hitler’s best friends, and then we aren’t supposed to vehemently disagree with that characterization?

    Wow, Bad – tell me more about this movie. I thought it released in April, but you’ve obviously seen it. What lies or are you referring to – did you in an unbiased way, investigate both sides of this issue?

    Science may well not ever be able to address an ontological “first cause” in the sense that such a thing may not be testable. If so, so be it. Science has limits, and if you desire something outside of its scope, that’s for you to delve into, not science to basically break all its own mechanisms to get to.
    Those “mechanisms” are no more valid than a Pope to command no one to use condoms. Who is he to tell me what I need to do? The National Academy of Sciences is a bureaucratic hungry corporation – nothing more, Steven Gould just a man nothing more – who says that NOMA has to apply? and who are they to say!

    Bad Says:
    February 16, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Mark: I’m certain that a group like this must know that Hitler virtually always carried a copy of Darwin’s origin of Species around with him during his tyrannical movement.

    I’d like to see a citation for this, because in all the histories and biographies I’ve read of Hitler, I’ve never seen this. I highly suspect its completely made up.

    Here are several for you to follow up on:
    Following in Lenin’s footsteps, Stalin took control of Soviet Russia. Earlier in life, right before Stalin became a priest he read Origin of Species, and his life quickly changed; he became atheist and joined the Bolsheviks.

    Evolutionist Steven Jay Gould, wrote that following the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, “subsequent arguments for slavery, colonialism, racial differences, class structures, and sex roles would go forth primarily under the banner of science” (The Mismeasure of Man, W.W. Norton and Company, New York, 1981, p. 72). Darwin himself seemed to approve of the application of his evolutionary ideas to moral and social issues. In a letter to H. Thiel in 1869, Darwin said:

    “You will really believe how much interested I am in observing that you apply to moral and social questions analogous views to those which I have used in regard to the modification of species. It did not occur to me formerly that my views could be extended to such widely different and most important subjects.” (The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Francis Darwin editor, D. Appleton and Co., 1896, Vol. 2, p . 294).

    In an effort to promote the evolution of “higher forms” of humans, Darwin’s cousin, Sir Francis Galton, founded the Eugenics Movement. Eugenics is the “science” which seeks to improve the biological makeup of the human species by selective breeding. Galton advocated the regulation of marriage and family size according to the genetic quality of the parents. He believed that if controlled breeding was applied to humans, as it was to farm animals, a perfect human breed could be developed. This concept of the “master race” was put into practice by Adolph Hitler in Germany in an effort to create a “pure Aryan race,” while exterminating “inferior” Jews.

    German politicians and scholars first used Social Darwinism around the turn of the century to justify Germany’s increasingly aggressive militarism. The German militarist, Friederich von Bernhardi, praised the virtues of war in strong evolutionary terms in his influential book Germany and the Next War. Bernhardi declared that war, like Darwinian survival of the fittest, was a “biological necessity” and that it “gives a biologically just decision, since its decisions rest on the very nature of things.” Bernhardi dismissed the whole idea of peaceful arbitration as a “presumptuous encroachment on the natural laws of development.” According to Bernhardi, a study of plant and animal life clearly showed that “war is a universal law of nature.” (As quoted by Ashley Montagu in Man in Process, World Pub. Co., 1961, pp. 76-77). Bernhardi’s book, published in 1911, had Germany’s highest official sanction and approval — three years later, Germany plunged the world into World War I.

    By the time of the Second World War, we find the full “flower” of Social Darwinism in fascism. Hitler based his fascism on evolutionary theory, as is evident from both his speeches and his book Mein Kampf. Benito Mussolini, who brought fascism to Italy, was also greatly influenced by Darwinism, which he thought supported his belief that violence is essential for beneficial social transformation. Mussolini repeatedly used Darwinian catchwords in his speeches and ridiculed efforts at peace because they interfered with natural evolutionary process.

    No discussion of the devastating impact of Social Darwinism on society would be complete without considering its strong influence on the development of Marxism and communism. Frederich Engels and Karl Marx (co-founders of Marxist communism) were exceedingly enthusiastic over Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species. Karl Marx wrote a letter to Engels in December of 1860 declaring that On the Origin of Species was “the book which contains the basis in natural history for our views.” In another letter to Engels in January of 1861, Marx declared:

    “Darwin’s book is very important and serves me as a basis of struggle in history…not only is a death blow dealt here for the first time to ‘Teleology’ in the natural sciences, but their rational meaning is emphatically explained.” (As quoted by Conway Zirkle in: Evolution, Marxian Biology, and the Social Scene, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1959, p. 86).

    The three things for which Marx was most indebted to Darwinism were: 1) an atheistic explanation for the origin of the Cosmos (Marxism doesn’t recognize anything as being higher than the state so it demands atheism); 2) the struggle for existence; and 3) the progressive development and improvement of man (Marxism insists that man’s well-being is inevitably and progressively improved through a blind process of class struggle and revolution). Indeed, Karl Marx was so deeply indebted to Darwin that he wanted to dedicate his book Das Capital to him, but Darwin declined the “honor.”

    The close affinity between Marxism and Darwinism continues to be evident in the currently popular evolutionary speculation called “punctuated equilibrium.” (This declares that evolution occurs by sudden lucky-leaps forward, separated by long periods of essentially no change.) Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge, who first popularized this notion, recently pointed out that:

    “Hegel’s dialectical laws, translated into a materialist context, have become the official ‘state philosophy’ of many socialist nations. These laws of change are explicitly punctuational, as befits a theory of revolutionary transformation in human society. In the light of this official philosophy, it is not at all surprising that a punctuational view of speciation, much like our own, but devoid of references to synthetic evolutionary theory, has long been favored by many Russian paleontologists. It may also not be irrelevant to our personal preferences that one of us learned his Marxism, literally, at his daddy’s knee” (Eldredge, Niles and Stephen Jay Gould, Paleobiology, Vol. 3, Spring 1977, pp. 145-146.).

    Fascist forms of government indoctrinate the same concepts of Darwinism as Communist governments. Mussolini and Hitler were great advocates of Darwin and Spencer’s work. Hitler’s National Socialist German Worker’s (Nazi) Party combined their deep mystical beliefs with Darwinism to inspire a grandiose vision of world conquest, leading the globe into a new age of enlightenment. Anyone who did not conform to Hitler’s ideas of the model citizen were rounded up and executed as inferior races that were holding back the rest of society from evolving. Professor of modern European History, Richard Weikart reviewing his book, From Darwin to Hitler, says “Darwinism played a key role not only in the rise of eugenics, but also in euthanasia, infanticide, abortion, and racial extermination, all ultimately embraced by the Nazis” (Weikart).

    Alsocheck Eric Voegelin’s Hitler and the Germans
    This is a good passage, and includes statements by Hitler. p.124-125

    “Hitler’s ideas on religion were those of relatively primitive monism, approximately corresponding to Haeckel’s Weltratsel at the turn of the century. Let me quote and comment on a few passages from the later years up to 1944, contained in the English edition of Hitler’s Table Talk but not in Hitlers Tischgespache, which Schramm edited. There, Hitler explained- that …

    ‘the dogma of Christianity gets worn away before the advances of science… All that is left is to prove that in nature there is no frontier between the organic and the inorganic.[so,final reduction to the material basis.] When understanding of the universe[as something caused materially.] has become widespread, when the majority of men know that the stars are not sources of light, but worlds, perhaps inhabited worlds like ours, the the Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity. “

    Voegelin continues;

    p. 140-141

    I will now analyze this similarity by comparing two passages. Schramm is an impartial researcher of sources and in this volume of the Table Talks he also presents Hitler’s speech of May 30, 1942, given to the young officers of the Germon Wehrmacht.

    Hitler:

    My young comrades! A deeply serious sentence of a great military philosopher enunciates that struggle, and thereby war, is the father of all things. Whoever casts an eye on nature, as it is, will find this sentence confirmed as valid for all living things and for all events, not only on this earth, but far beyond it. The entire universe seems to be ruled by just one idea, that an eternal selection [Totally natural!]takes place in which the stronger in the end maintains life and the right to live, and the weaker falls. One will say that nature is therefore cruel and merciless, but the other will grasp that nature is thus only obeying an iron law of logic…”
    Hitler and the Germans
    Eric Voegelin
    Translated, Edited, and with an Introduction
    by Detlev Clemens
    and Brendan Purcell

    PS: you may not like weikart but judge him on the merit of his content not his affiliations.

    Have fun guys – I’m out!

    -Mark

  26. Bad says:

    Wow, boy did that novel ever get stuck right into the spam trap. I just found and retrieved it.

    You’re really heaping on the misconceptions here. Miller never claimed that he knew for certain that the type III system was demonstrably the precursor to the flagellum: nor did he ever need to claim that. Behe’s argument was one of plausibility, and arguments about plausibility only require answers of possibility to refute. This is exactly what Miller did. Behe and others demanding proof of an exact historical chain of events is simply moving the goalposts after their original challenge was defeated (without admitting defeat): and the place they move the goalposts to is absurd. Piecing together the evolutionary history of tiny cellular structures that would have evolved hundreds of millions of years ago is simply out of reach with our current technology.

    The fact that we don’t know the exact specifics, however, does not render the idea implausible, nor mean that an evolutionary explanation is mere speculation. What we see is that all the available facts are consistent, sometimes amazingly so, with the evolutionary explanation. Many facts are not available: we will continue to search for them. But merely pointing to something unknown and declaring it impossible sight unseen isn’t much of an argument when your critics have laid out plenty of reasonable possibilities.

    As for ID being testable, I simply don’t agree. None of the proposals from Behe or others are actually tests of ID. Almost all are merely tests of evolutionary biology as an explanation, not of ID. And those few predictions that ID’sts have made do not flow necessarily, nor are constrained by, the idea of ID itself in the way that the testable predictions of evolution do. They are simply shots in the dark that, if they turn out to be wrong, do not actually impact the status of ID in any way.

    Take a cell, remove any part of its constituents, inject it into a host cell and see if this “part” can be or will be co-adapted to serve another function.

    Again, this is just a test of evolution, not of ID, and amusingly, researchers have done exactly these sorts of things: so many times that such experiments are rarely notable anymore. Miller outlines one picked at random in his book: a bacteria whose normal metabolic pathway for processing nutrients is destroyed, which then proceeds to develop a new pathway to replace it that requires three different, independent mutation sites and works differently than the original pathway.

    I find this highly suspect! Behe points to strongly positive grounds for inferring design from the presence of irreducibly complex machines, circuits and the like. The testable evidence is so powerful, and “right under their noses” that it often goes without notice. Find any irreducibly complex machine, discovery their causal history.

    This is not a testable argument: it’s merely an canned assumption that things which look complex must be designed based on what turn out to be some very weak analogies. And saying “find any IC machine” is actually just begging the question: assuming your conclusion. That’s because to actually determine that something is IC in the first place, and for that term to not simply beg the question, you’d first have to demonstrate that it could not have evolved, which is all that IC ends up meaning. But this Behe and others have simply failed to do: example after example in nature (and even for mousetraps!) has failed to hold up to scrutiny. And further, even if they could demonstrate that something couldn’t have evolved… all it would demonstrate is that it did not evolve. This does not eliminate all other possibilities other than design, and is certainly not positive evidence for design.

    Your post is pretty insanely long, so I’ll leave it there for now until I have more time. I’d consider boiling things down into a few key points: otherwise I may have time to read and respond, but I may not. For now I’ll just note this.

    This is based primarily upon the Kalam argument – the question is not whatever exists has a cause – it is whatever begins to exist has a cause.

    This is known as the logical fallacy of special pleading. The “begins to exist” was added in order to try and exclude the universe. But, in fact, we cannot rule out the universe as having a beginning if we cannot rule all things out. We do not know anything about the ontological nature of the universe: the best we know is that the universe as we know it began shortly after the BB: but this is simply not the sort of “beginning” that the Kalam argument requires. This simply puts us back where we started: the argument’s conclusion essentially ends up contradicting the premises it takes to reach its conclusion, rendering the exercise absurd.

  27. mike says:

    I guess, at the crux of this thing, truly is a battle over whether or not there is a God. I hear one side say, ID = God and the other side saying Darwinism = no God. Is this fair? If not, why is it such a big deal?

    If I understand this correctly… if you believe in the biblical God you believe God made man, then made woman out of man’s rib… established life. I don’t see how you can be a “biblical” believer and a darwinist at the same time. I guess an argument can be made that God started life then it evolved or something… but that is still not belief in the God of the Bible.

    Hmmmm… Am I wrong here?

  28. Ross says:

    Intelligent Design is merely a stepping stone for Creationism and by extension God. If they can play their cards to get something without evidence put into the scientific community or school system, then it’s only a short step to religion.

  29. Bad says:

    I guess, at the crux of this thing, truly is a battle over whether or not there is a God.

    It isn’t. That is what this film and creationists would like people to think, because then they can try to wave that issue around, or big scary atheists with all those opinions, which pulls attention away from the evidential weakness of their claims.

    But the reality is that tons of people both believe in God, and think evolution’s place in modern biology is legitimate and sound. Indeed, the largest single Christian denomination, Catholicism, takes this position.

    I hear one side say, ID = God and the other side saying Darwinism = no God. Is this fair? If not, why is it such a big deal?

    It’s not fair. Even outspoken atheists like Dawkins who think that the natural world and evolution reduce the need to appeal to God for explanations for things still allow that people can believe in a God and evolution at the same time, and be reasonable. They may not agree with their arguments for God, but that’s not the same thing as them claiming that evolution mandates atheism.

    If I understand this correctly… if you believe in the biblical God you believe God made man, then made woman out of man’s rib… established life. I don’t see how you can be a “biblical” believer and a darwinist at the same time. I guess an argument can be made that God started life then it evolved or something… but that is still not belief in the God of the Bible.

    It isn’t a belief in biblical literalism, no. But that is a minority view even amongst Christians. You were talking about God vs. no God before. But now you’ve completely changed the subject to a single, very narrow theological view being incompatible with modern science. That’s not the same thing.

  30. Regina says:

    Matt,

    Let me see you change one species into another one and I’ll give you a little more thought.

  31. Matt says:

    If I changed one species into another, I could probably call myself god and be done with the whole business.

    However, no one has ever actually said that a species will spontaneously/instantly change into another as you imply. Though your comment is rather vague so I’m not entirely sure what you mean precisely.

    That being said, speciation has been observed. I suggest you brush up on your research.

  32. mike says:

    Thanks for the answers. First off I hope it wasn’t conceived this way, but I am NOT attacking your position, nor Darwinism as a whole. I do, however, not understand why this is such a big deal with everyone. There has got to be a reason everyone is so passionate about this whole thing. Both sides are attacking each other like crazy. Each side calls the other intellectual dwarfs (on a kind day). I think there are extremely smart people on both sides of this discussion. But I have been curious as to why this discussion is such a big deal… Why it’s so important to people.

    You said I was saying two different things. But the reality is, i don’t see how someone can claim to both believe in the God of the Bible and believe in the Darwinian position. If one believes in evolution and not established life like the Bible claims, then it’s safe to say there is no God based on the Torahs claim, itself.

    The crux of the debate, non doubt, is the origin of life. Either God made man or He didn’t. And if God did not do that, then what else didn’t He do? We are left to our own device to determine.

    I’m not here to say one side is right and the other is wrong. I’ll leave that to people much smarter than I. My curiousity stems from the root of the heated debate. To give a fair approach to all sides… Creationists believe in God and use all science to justify their claim. Intelligent Designers believe life began by something greater than ourselves and rejects Darwinism, or at least forms of it. Darwinists believe life did not need God to start and evolved without a higher power making it so. In Dawkin’s own words, in the movie, he said, “God is about as unlikely… and he is openly athiest.”

    In my eyes, just as radical as Creationists seem, Dawkins is on the other end of the spectrum. He is resigned to the fact that their is no God. That we were not created. And he will use all science for his argument. Whether a creationist like Kent Hovind or a Darwinist like Dawkins, both will work hard at what they do… what they believe. And the crux of it is God Vs. No God.

    SO, it leads me to one thought – Origin of life. That’s go to be why it’s so stinking important to people. You can’t both believe in the God of the Bible and believe in evolution. I think it’s fair enough to say that. I mean, I hear both sides of the argument, and in the end it’s about how things started.

    Regarding the “biblical God” comment – Follow me here. It fits right in with my original thought. Ben Stein is a Jew. And Christians believe the same thing. God made man as an established being. To not believe that rejects the very foundation of life as established in the Bible. To say Christians do not hold to biblical literalism on a small scale might be true. But to say they reject the Bible’s creation account…? Really? I have not met too many Christians who reject the creation account of the Bible.

    If I am wrong in all of this then why is it such a stinkin big deal with everyone? Why all the name calling and name defamation? This still has not been answered.

    The truth is we can only really speak for ourselves. So, allow me to ask a few questions. Bad, could you at least share your perspective with me? Do you believe in a god? Or the God of the Bible? Do you believe there is no God? You’ve said evolution and God are not incompatible. I’m trying to wrap my mind on all of this and I think the crux of it is they are incompatible. If not why can’t we just leave it be?

    My final thought is this – Neither side has any deinitive proof that we know of. Of course it would be extremely hard to prove God. I’ve heard people try. But, so far, evolution began on a thesis that is still yet unproven… at least on a scale that proves how life began. SO – it’s an argument nobody can really prove. Which takes us back down a trail of where we began… origin of life… and God Vs. No God.

  33. Bad says:

    mike Says: But the reality is, i don’t see how someone can claim to both believe in the God of the Bible and believe in the Darwinian position. If one believes in evolution and not established life like the Bible claims, then it’s safe to say there is no God based on the Torahs claim, itself.

    Logically, it should be obvious that your position here is wrong. Even if it were true that the Torah was complete nonsense, that wouldn’t preclude there being a God, and that God being knowable through other means (like faith). But even with the Bible, many many people believe that the Bible is a theological document of poetic insight into God and God’s people, rather than a historical document. In fact, the strict literalist view that many seem to hold in the US is actually not only not a majority view of the Bible amongst Christians, but in its current form, it is of very recent vintage.

    You might think that all Catholics, and all liberal Christians are wrong, but they think you are wrong. I’m not a believer, so I don’t have much of an opinion on who is the “true” Christian here, but I am just pointing out that your claim that science and religion/God are incompatible is simply false. Even if you think all these people have the wrong religion, they are still religious, and they still believe in God. So the argument that science necessarily requires or leads to atheism fails.

    You also are confusing evolution with the origin of life. However life began, it wasn’t by evolution as is normally debated. Evolution as in Darwin’s theory of evolution requires life in the first place: what it explains is not life, but the diversity and adaptability of life on Earth. You can believe that God created life and then it evolved as biology says without any contradiction. In fact, some people even believe that God simply created the universe, with things like the natural origins of life built into the laws of the universe from the start, but not requiring a specific separate intervention.

    But to say they reject the Bible’s creation account…? Really? I have not met too many Christians who reject the creation account of the Bible.

    Then you have no met many Christians outside of a very narrow band. I should know: I live with a Christian who doesn’t believe that the creation story in the Bible is a literal history of events.

    If I am wrong in all of this then why is it such a stinkin big deal with everyone? Why all the name calling and name defamation? This still has not been answered.

    Because there ARE many people who believe that Genesis is literal. And there are many other people who think that science should basically pay homage to God at every turn. And on the other side, there are scientists, both religious and non, who know that these things are not the makings of good, sound science.

    I’m not sure why you find this clash to be so mysterious. It’s a big, very politicized issue. And over the years, there’s been a lot of bad blood. And in the case of creationists, it’s to their advantage to try and frame the debate as one of atheists vs. believers. They can gain a lot more support that way, because atheists are one of the most hated minorities in the country. But this doesn’t mean that their framing of the issue is valid.

    Bad, could you at least share your perspective with me? Do you believe in a god?

    No, not in a god (which should not be confused with believing that there is no god: a subtle but important distinction). I used to believe, but at some point in my adult life, stopped. I can’t even remember why or exactly when. And when I recognized the difference, I realized that I didn’t have any justified reason to start again.

    Or the God of the Bible?

    No.

    Do you believe there is no God?

    No (I don’t believe in, but that doesn’t mean I have to believe anything about there no being a God).

    You’ve said evolution and God are not incompatible. I’m trying to wrap my mind on all of this and I think the crux of it is they are incompatible. If not why can’t we just leave it be?

    Well, because there are people who hold beliefs that are incompatible with science. The key is that those beliefs are not ALL of what religions can be or say. They are just one particular kind of religious belief, with on particular view on certain questions that science touches on.

    My final thought is this – Neither side has any deinitive proof that we know of.

    I don’t think that’s accurate, at least depending on what you mean by “side.” Things like the age of the earth, the general history of life on earth (common descent) and so forth are about as definitive as anything can be. As to whether or not there is a God, on this separate question I would agree that there really isn’t much to say. But keep in mind that this is far more of a problem for those claiming that there is a god than it is for those that simply do not believe.

    But, so far, evolution began on a thesis that is still yet unproven… at least on a scale that proves how life began.

    Again, the origin of life is logically and scientifically a different and independent issue from evolution. And you’re right: we really don’t know just how life began (though, this is not to be confused with the idea that we don’t have ANY ideas or evidence bearing on the question).

    Which takes us back down a trail of where we began… origin of life… and God Vs. No God.

    The difference is that science isn’t having that debate. The question of whether or not there is a God is basically untestable, and that simply puts it outside the scope of science. You are free to

  34. mike says:

    Sorry… the last part got cut off. So far I see what you’re saying, but I also think you’ve got a biased perspective being a Darwinist and an Atheist, suggesting an unproven theory brought forth by Darwin is, in fact, proven. I’m sure I don’t know nearly as much as you do on this topic. But the reality is evolution is still a theory and, inasmuch, leaves many questions still unanswered. So you’ve got two sides arguing over something that has not been proven in either direction.

    Faith is the bottom line, right? Where we are unsure, that’s where we must place our trust/faith. I guess I’m being stubborn here, and maybe we’re just arguing semantics, but I’m sincerely trying to figure this out here.

    Finally, is it possible to hold an ID position, pointing to God, while believing in evolution? If I understand you correctly it is possible to believe in evolution, yet still believe in God. So, the same could be said on the other side, right? If so, why can’t we have that discussion in a public format.

    I admit I’m a bit confused, and I’m probably oversimplifying, but your insight is helpful.

  35. Don says:

    Hello!? The film is about the prevalent hostility in the scientific community toward any suggestion that ID/Creationism and science can coexist.

  36. That is because ID is hostile to the idea that science and ID can co-exist, and because ID regularly flouts the basic rules of the science as a human activity. The film in question is also hostile to the idea that ID and Science can actually co-exist.

    What makes public discussion impossible is the logn history of Creationism acting in bad faith, being willing to “accept” science, only so long as in the back room they can gleefully rub plan pushing Science out entirely. On the whole, astrology, creationism, and alchemy are three pseudo-sciences which are historical curiosities, we can point to how, in the history of science, investigations into the pseudo-science, or then proto-science, led to actual science. Kepler was an astrologer, Newton an alchemist, and Linnaeus a creationist.

    The problem with ID, is that it is stuck someplace around 1700 or so.

  37. Alan Niven says:

    When you consider the sheer volume of evidence counting against Darwinism today, you almost feel sorry for its supporters. When you look at the complexity of even a single cell for example, it’s laughable to suggest that the origin of complex multicellular creatures like ourselves can be explained by Darwinism. The cell must have turned out to be a real dissappointment for Darwinists who hoped it would be nothing more than a blob of protoplasm. In my experience, no one who argues against irreducible complexity has bothered to read Behes book. Behe makes wide use of the principle of charity when characterising his opponents arguments before demolishing them. Contrast them to Dawkins pathetic attempt to deal with irreducible complexity in his recent book “The God Delusion”. If this is the standard of defence available then Darwinism truly is finished. I almost died laughing at his efforts to evade the problem by liberal use of the straw man and adhominem arguments peppered with attacks on religion. After thinking about irreducible complexity for ten years, the best he could come to an actual scientific defence was repeat the co option argument which Behe had already refuted. By the way, the co option argument is also sheer speculation. This kind of propaganda dressed as science is fine if you are preaching to the converted (atheist) but will never convince anyone who understands the problem posed to Darwinian explanations by iredducible complexity and the complexity of life in general. The only reason Behe was forced to coin the term irreducible complexity was because he was fed up with Darwinists such as Dawkins speculating wildly about how this or that feature evolved massively against the probabilities and without proof. For them it is a game and the one with the wildest imagination wins. If you can stand up in a lecture hall for one hour and speculate on how the defensive system of the bombardier beetle evolved then you are a great evolutionist and scientist. Never mind that you don’t have a shread of evidence that it realy did evolve that way. Physicists laugh at the standard of proof that evolutionary biologists are happy to accept. Oh and by the way, whether the idea is strictly scientific or not, the only answer not acceptable is a supernatural Creator. Real scientists concentrate on how biological systems work which is hard enough. Given the current state of our knowledge speculation about how they came to be that way is meaningless. The thing I like most about this argument is that Darwinists are digging then selves deeper and deeper into a hole on this issue. One day, the Darwinian paradigm is going to be scrapped like everyother scientific paradigm, but not before there is a huge amount of egg on faces. And the persecution of those who advocate intelligent design is like Galileo in reverse. This time its the Atheist holding back scientific progress. Great!

  38. Matt says:

    What evidence is there against the Theory of Evolution, exactly? (and I should note that the term ‘Darwinism’ does not actually exist in science. It describes nothing but a complete misunderstanding of a scientific mechanism).

    Because living cells happen to be complex that disproves Evolution? How do you figure that? You may not be able to understand how the Theory of Evolution explains such things (and since you don’t understand it, I have to assume you’re too lazy to do any research of your own) but your ignorance is not evidence.
    To phrase it another way; I don’t understand automotive mechanics but my car still works just fine under the mechanism of an internal combustion engine. Going down your particular branch of logic, I could simply claim Leprechauns do it.

    Behe has been pretty much discredited since the Dover trial, where he was clearly shown to be horrible ignorant about the field he claims expertise in. For example, He claimed science could not explain the human immune system. At which point dozens of papers, text books, journal articles and so on were produced which does explain it rather nicely and neatly. Needless to say, of course, Behe (and anyone else looking into the matter) have yet to produce one example of irreducible complexity.

    The rest of your comment seems to be filled with incoherent rantings, poor writing skills (learn what a paragraph is), claims which you utterly fail to back up in any way and general silliness.

    I do suggest you try a lot harder next time.

  39. I think we should feel sorry for people who have been os crassly deceived by such slender arguments as the anti-science movement can mount. Our understanding of biology will advance, and it will be enriched, and they will stand on the other side of a vast cloack of ignorance, seething against the wonders which we have yet to discover.

    Evolution is a program, it points forward to what has not been understood, and will be adapted and changed. The ID proponents attack particular weaknesses. We should thank them for doing so, even if what they propose is absurd. And then show our thanks by demonstrating how scientific inquiry can fill the voids in our knowledge.

    But I feel sorry for anyone who worships a God of the Gaps, because it is a deity that gets smaller every day.

  40. Glazius says:

    The ID proponents attack particular weaknesses. We should thank them for doing so, even if what they propose is absurd. And then show our thanks by demonstrating how scientific inquiry can fill the voids in our knowledge.

    When they come up with novel arguments instead of saying the same thing and pretending it hasn’t already been shot down 50 times in the past, there’ll be something to thank them for.

    Though I guess it does some good to get the occasional point-by-point refutation out there.

  41. Alan Niven says:

    The complexity of the cell is something which Darwinism will manifestly fail to shed any light on. While science will progress it will be due the careful study of how things work. Darwinism will be seen to be hopelessly inadequate when it comes to explaining how these marvellous wonders got there in the first place although alternative naturalist explanations may be more successful. Continued dogmatic adherence to Darwinism will be seen to have hindered scientific progress. Darwinism is a bankrupt Victorian theory and the explanations put forward by its advocates remain the same as those that Darwin would have used. Take the rehash of explanations for the evolution of the eye for example. They are still very much the same as those which Darwin would have used.

    Step 1 Point to a variety of currently existing eyes at “various stages of evolutionary development” from the simplest light sensors to complex mammalian eyes.

    Step 2 Argue that 5% of vision is better than no vision ( true)

    Step 3 Suggest to a gullible public that actual eyes might have evolved along similar lines through natural selection and without a shred of evidence that the examples cited have any evolutionary connection or that there was ever any actual evolutionary sequence of eyes.

    Steps one and two are manifestly obviously true and are used by the conjurer or the con artist to win our trust. But it is step three where the multiple fallacies creep in. Do we have an real examples of an actual evolutionary sequence from the fossil record showing how an eye has really evolved. Can we demonstrate it in the lab. Of course not and any way, its not fair that the poor Darwinist should have to meet this ridiculously high standard of corroboration and actually work for his money. Any way, the argument has been won by previous generations. Today’s Darwinists should be left free to speculate without the indignity of having to provide real evidence.

    Darwinism was accepted by the general public on the basis of a host of imaginary scenarios such as how the Giraffe got its long neck; how the lobster got its big claw and how the peacock got its tail. Until Darwinist eventually realised that they had no actual (fossil) proof for any of this. They are works of pure fiction and deception which eventually became embarrassing to some Darwinists. Niles Eldredge, the co author with Stephen Jay Gould of punctuated equilibria calls them “just So stories” like the stories of Rudyard Kipling. He also terms the failure of palaeontologists over the last 150 years to eventually find the countless examples of gradual evolutionary change and gradual extinction that Darwin predicted must exist as “palaeontologies trade secret”. He confirms that what we have instead is a majority of cases in which novelty turns up with a bang. Instead we have the Cambrian explosion following a period of two billion years of non evolution, the most un-Darwinian scenario imaginable and one that even Darwin was aware of. But as Behe states, all the fossil evidence in the world against Darwinism is only the beginning of the problems faced by today’s Darwinists.

    In order for a creature to possess any vision at all, let alone 5%, a host of complex biochemical steps have to be appearing and functioning SIMULTANEOUSLY. If even one of these steps is absent, we have no vision and no advantage to select for. The body is choked full of probability defying examples such as this. As Behe says, “it will only get worse”. So what is the response of Darwinists to this realisation that like Newtonian physics at the beginning of the 20th century, Darwinism is a paradigm in crisis.

    1. Act like there is no problem and bury the head in the sand.

    2. Make brash confident noises that the current problems are part of the normal course of science.

    3. Try to argue that our support of Darwinism is essential to the very survival of science and that the only alternative is the literal interpretation of the Bible.

    4. Come out fighting, attacking any group who dares to question the Darwinian religion using ad hominem and straw man arguments.

    “It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution*, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”

    5. Pollute the environment with as much misinformation as possible so that the general public find it impossible to make an informed choice.

    6. Try to stifle debate among the general public and try to enforce the teaching of the Darwinian orthodoxy in schools.

    These are all desperate strategies designed to buy time for a new materialist approach to the problem of our origins to emerge. Please do come up with a new materialist approach but one that goes at least half way to being credible. What Darwinists never do is attempt to address the true depth of criticism currently being levelled at the theory. This would be to concede failure.

    Its great to see that humanity really is one. Rather than having the cliché division of clever objective materialist scientists defending a theory by logical arguments and the supply of stunning corroborating evidence, we have this enormous irrational tribal defensive response, showing that we are all religious in some sense.

    At the same time we have scientist who are often but not always open to the idea of a Supreme Creator advancing sound rational criticism against a theory in the spirit of the scientific method and being persecuted for it.

    Thomas Kuhn the author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions would have had a field day with this and Karl Popper would have turned in his grave.

    *It is important to realise that, Dawkin’s and others evolutionary biologists like him take the vague term evolution to mean specifically Darwinian evolution which they conceive of as a blind unguided process in which the role of a Creator plays no part.

  42. Matt says:

    An argument from incredulity, that’s the best you can do?

    You bring up the matter of the eye, which is a matter that even Darwin solved two hundred years ago – not completely, no. But he did not have all the data available due to limits of technology. Even he managed to write a reasonably complete list of intermediate stages of eye formation.

    And all those he listed can be found in life forms today, which you admit. No problems there.

    Eye fossils? No one would expect to really find any since soft organic matter doesn’t tend to fossilise very well.

    Where you fall down is where you say things would have to form and work together simultaneously, which is faulty for the same reason where all proposed examples of Irreducible Complexity have been shown to be wrong. Something can indeed need certain parts working together to perform a function but those parts can also serve a completely different function by themselves.

    And, for some reason, you seem to focus on just fossil records. This ignores all the genetic links that researchers have found.

    And this has been addressed so many times by credible scientists, I’m surprised anyone even tries to bring it up yet again.

    Then again, I still see people trying to claim the second law of thermodynamics disproves evolution so I guess not…

  43. Alan Niven says:

    Matt, not even Dawkins on drugs would be arrogant enough to suggest that the problem of eye evolution had been solved. If you can believe in Darwinian evolution without the need for proof and corroborating evidence and based on the authority of others (i.e. blind faith) then you are a fully fleged devotee of the religion of Darwinism. The only people who think the eye problem has been solved are people who walk around with their eyes and minds closed. You are a category 1 candidate.

    1. Act like there is no problem and bury your head in the sand.

    Simply refusing to get to grips with a valid criticism will not make it go away. I would add to that that your answer makes it clear that you have failed to grasp that sight is a complex biochemical system. Removing any one of the many steps in the process causes vision to fail. How did such a process appear in small steps in a Darwinian fashion?. This is the standard of explanation which Darwinists must provide nowadays in order to remain relevant. They are failing miserably. Darwin didn’t know this at the time so he had a good excuse. Things have moved on and so has science and I am certain Darwin would have so why can’t you?

  44. Bad says:

    Removing any one of the many steps in the process causes vision to fail.

    But in many cases, not entirely, which is sort of the point. 45% vision is better than 0%, and since the whole point is that vision worked its way up from 0%, it’s not exactly a problem. Plus, the basic scenarios outlined, the basic case for how our eyes evolved, already includes several descriptions of how certain parts become irreplaceable and necessary.

    Additionally, the co-evolution of various features is actually pretty common, and delivers exactly this result. For instance, higher and higher blood pressures, and more and more effective blood clotting (to deal with the danger of cuts letting out too much blood) would have developed together. Remove either, and you’d indeed end up with disaster. But scale them both back together, at the same time, and you basically end up tracing back what would have been our evolutionary family tree all the way back to non-pressurized systems with no clotting at all.

    How did such a process appear in small steps in a Darwinian fashion?

    You keep switching back and forth between demanding possible answers and the actual historical answer. And then when someone meets your challenge of plausibility you suddenly call them arrogant for not being able to prove the historical pathway. Yes, it’s true that we don’t always know how, historically, this or that feature DID evolve. But since most of your arguments are phrased in terms of asserting that it CAN’T have done so, possibility and plausibility are all anyone needs to rebut you and thus solve the problems you are raising.

    In this case, the reason your “any one of the many steps in the process causes vision to fail” example doesn’t work in practice as a guide to anything is that in many cases, parts that were optional can become necessary and linked to other parts over time. Simply ripping out those parts can indeed break the whole system, but this doesn’t really refute the idea that the system could have evolved by successive modification over time. There’s no substitute for simply figuring out the specific situation in question. And in many cases, there either isn’t enough evidence to say either way, or ID folks have failed to sustain their examples in the face of evidence.

  45. Alan Niven says:

    To Darwin vision was a black box, but today, after the hard, cumulative work of many biochemists, we are approaching answers to the question of sight. Here is a brief overview of the biochemistry of vision. When light first strikes the retina, a photon interacts with a molecule called 11-cis-retinal, which rearranges within picoseconds to trans-retinal. The change in the shape of retinal forces a change in the shape of the protein, rhodopsin, to which the retinal is tightly bound. The protein’s metamorphosis alters its behavior, making it stick to another protein called transducin. Before bumping into activated rhodopsin, transducin had tightly bound a small molecule called GDP. But when transducin interacts with activated rhodopsin, the GDP falls off and a molecule called GTP binds to transducin. (GTP is closely related to, but critically different from, GDP.)

    GTP-transducin-activated rhodopsin now binds to a protein called phosphodiesterase, located in the inner membrane of the cell. When attached to activated rhodopsin and its entourage, the phosphodiesterase acquires the ability to chemically cut a molecule called cGMP (a chemical relative of both GDP and GTP). Initially there are a lot of cGMP molecules in the cell, but the phosphodiesterase lowers its concentration, like a pulled plug lowers the water level in a bathtub.

    Another membrane protein that binds cGMP is called an ion channel. It acts as a gateway that regulates the number of sodium ions in the cell. Normally the ion channel allows sodium ions to flow into the cell, while a separate protein actively pumps them out again. The dual action of the ion channel and pump keeps the level of sodium ions in the cell within a narrow range. When the amount of cGMP is reduced because of cleavage by the phosphodiesterase, the ion channel closes, causing the cellular concentration of positively charged sodium ions to be reduced. This causes an imbalance of charge across the cell membrane which, finally, causes a current to be transmitted down the optic nerve to the brain. The result, when interpreted by the brain, is vision.

    My explanation is just a sketchy overview of the biochemistry of vision. Ultimately, though, this is what it means to “explain” vision. This is the level of explanation for which biological science must aim. In order to truly understand a function, one must understand in detail every relevant step in the process. The relevant steps in biological processes occur ultimately at the molecular level, so a satisfactory explanation of a biological phenomenon such as vision, or digestion, or immunity must include its molecular explanation.

    It is no longer enough for an “evolutionary explanation” of that power to consider only the anatomical structures of whole eyes, as Darwin did in the nineteenth century, and as popularizers of evolution continue to do today. Each of the anatomical steps and structures that Darwin thought were so simple actually involves staggeringly complicated biochemical processes that cannot be papered over with rhetoric. Darwin’s simple steps are now revealed to be huge leaps between carefully tailored machines.

  46. Matt says:

    You speak as if the evolutionary process for the formation of a fully working eye has not been thoroughly researched and looked into (and pretty much answered) already.

    For example, there’s this research into how long it would take for a fish eye to evolve and the various steps it would take to get there:
    http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/creation/eye_time.html

    So your claims that it is not possible for an eye to evolve seem to be rather suspect at very best.

  47. Bad says:

    I think you missed his new point there Matt: now he’s doing the usual shifting off into different questions after his first line of argument falls apart. To wit:

    It is no longer enough for an “evolutionary explanation” of that power to consider only the anatomical structures of whole eyes, as Darwin did in the nineteenth century, and as popularizers of evolution continue to do today.

    I don’t know what you mean by “it’s not enough.” There’s been no lack of continued exploration into this topic right into the biochemical realm. The reason creationists now like citing biochemistry better in this case is simply that there’s far less of a historical record to go by to figure out exactly how things happened in the past: comparative genomics and other such methods are the best we have, and they are crude tools for nailing down exact specifics. So there’s less evidence with which to illustrate what the successive changes were. But that doesn’t make your argument from incredulity any stronger, because incredulity is, again, based on judgments of plausibility, not historicity, and we’ve already seen how easily those judgments fall apart under scrutiny. And you have things quite backwards in any case: the problem with explaining the evolution of vision is that there are too many possible channels and directions to consider, not too few or none. Lack of direction-giving-evidence is not a boon for your side in the least: it makes you less capable of demonstrating that there are any certain barriers to or problems with evolution. Meanwhile, evolutionary explanations of cellular mechanisms creep along at precisely the pace one might expect based on the way the evidence creeps in. There doesn’t seem to be any more fundamental hangup for evolutionary explanation in this realm than there was anatomically.

    So you can go on about biochemistry all you want. The anatomy example already demonstrated how your sort of challenge of incredulity falls apart on closer examination. Nothing about retreating to biochemistry makes that same argument any more convincing when simply reapplied to something else. And the idea that evolutionary scientists haven’t looked at, or aren’t aware of molecular functions, or aren’t capable of dealing with claimed IC in these structures as well, is just nonsense.

    Behe and others play the exact same game: they make accusations based on the plausibility of the evolution of these cellular functions. Those accusations get answered in detail with possible explanations, sometimes even including decently derived examples of various forms of the cellular mechanisms we find in modern creatures, along with genetic analysis that shows how they might have linked up and transitioned (it’s no accident, for instance, that many of the proteins in all of these systems are related to each other, and that you can sometimes even derive family trees from them).

    Having lost on that score, Behe and others do not acknowledge it, and then simply shift the goalposts, insisting that only proof that this is what did happen will do. But of course they know that there just isn’t enough evidence at present to say one way or the other exactly how some system evolved, especially when most of the cellular mechanisms they choose to complain about are rooted hundreds of millions of years in the past, where even comparative genetics become a hazy guide to relationships. And then they try to portray this lack of detailed knowledge of the past as if it somehow justified their original argument. But only the original, refuted form of their argument ever had any hope of challenging the plausibility of evolution as an explanatory mechanism. And since they have nothing to offer of their own, let alone anything that can explain anything in the detail that evolutionary explanations can, they’re dead in the water. Aside from empty rhetoric.

  48. Alan Niven says:

    Matt, the link you gave was to an “explanation” of eye evolution similar to that which Darwin himself would have given and to his credit, which popularizers nowadays such as Richard Dawkins still use. It’s a crude mathematical model based entirely on speculation and devoid of any evidence that eyes actually evolve that way. It does however have the advantage of grossly oversimplifying the structure of eye so that the general public can at least follow the accompanying evolutionary explanation even though its wrong.

    You can compare Darwins understanding of the eye to an early model of the atom before we had suitable instruments and techniques to uncover its detail. For example, compare J. J. Thompsons plumb pudding model of the atom with the greatly improved modern quantum mechanical model. Thompson didn’t know what the atom was like so he assumed it was very simple and made a best guess. When technology improved, this crude model was replaced by a probabilistic distribution of electrons given as solutions to Scrodingers equation (i.e. quantum mechanics).

    Similarly, in the biological sciences we now have powerful microscopes and have spent decades understanding the actual biochemical processes which convert light into neural signals. Darwins understanding of the eye is redundant and just plain wrong. The question is now, COULD THE COMPLEX BIOCHEMICAL PROCESSES WE HAVE DISCOVERED EVOLVE IN A DARWINIAN FASHION?, such as the process of vision. Now that we have a far greater understanding of HOW the eye works at the biochemical level, can we come up with a plausible set of evolutionary steps showing how it got there? When you consider the various molecular machines and processes in vision, it becomes apparent that vision could not have evolved by a series of small changes. Huge probability defying leaps are needed.

    The body is packed with complex biochemical processes such as this and more are being discovered all the time. If Darwinian mechanisms fail to provide viable evolutionary sequences to account for the origin of vision and the multitude of other biochemical processes then an alternative approach must be found. The ball is in the court of the Darwinists. As Behe says “publish or perish”.

    As for you “Bad”, the burden is on the Darwinists to make a credible case. Incredulity is what objective observers experience when they see Darwinian attempts to explain complex biochemical processes. It is the explanations which give rise to incredulity, not the processes themselves. Darwinists failed to make the case with the fossil record. The fossil record is one long argument against gradual Darwinian change. It is the Darwinists who have turned in desperation to molecular biology not the creationists. Your post was one long rambling attempt to evade the specific challenge of the biochemical evolution of vision using typically vague Darwinist arguments. I’m assuming that you have not read Darwins Black Box but feel sufficiently confident to attack Behe’s argument based on someone else’s “critique” in the following terms:

    “Those accusations get answered in detail with POSSIBLE explanations, SOMETIMES EVEN INCLUDING DECENTLY DERIVED EXAMPLES of various forms of the cellular mechanisms we find in modern creatures, along with genetic analysis that shows how they MIGHT have linked up and transitioned. (emphasis mine)

    “Possible”, “sometimes”, “might”. This is what Darwinists do best. Speculate endlessly while avoiding contact with the facts. Richard Dawkins believes that if we see a statue of the virgin Mary wave at us, we should not imagine that we had witnessed a miracle. Instead we should assume that all the atoms had by sheer chance moved in the same direction at the same time. This is in spite of the vanishingly small probability of it actually happening once during the lifetime of the universe. This example illustrates the way that Darwinists deal with the improbability of their claims. The can ignore the vanishing probabilities strengthened by their absolute faith in the power of natural selection to achieve miracles.

  49. Daron Lawing says:

    The thing that continues to perplex me in this entire debate is what appears to be an unwillingness to admit that the foundation for both sides of the debate is an element of “faith”.

    The Darwinists/Neo-Darwinists/Evolutionists/Naturalists/yada yada are scandalized by that admission. This to me is the fatal flaw in their inquiries which eventually leads to a kind of back-handed subjectivism.

    I saw the movie. Ben asks a lot of good questions. Is there something wrong with question asking? The point of the movie from beginning to end is that there should be freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry without fear of retribution.

    The logical connection to the outcomes of philosophical naturalism are highlighted.

    I think a starting point is to admit that there are things we don’t know and cannot know by science and reason alone. First causes, properly basic beliefs, etc.

    I’m always stumped by the proof of the reliability of the senses. It cannot be proven that the senses are reliable. Yet every scientific inquiry rests firmly on the fact that our senses are reliable. We must believe that they are or scientific pursuit itself would be impossible. We trust by faith that our senses are reliable.

    If we cannot begin with agreement on the assumption that fundamentally our approach to scientific questions rests on a certain amount of faith in properly basic beliefs (law of non-contradiction, reliability of the senses, etc.) then conversations like these will never go anywhere. They will devolve to name calling and explosive strawman arguments.

    I of course cynically can’t imagine that my little comments will affect anything either.

  50. Bad says:

    Daron Lawing: The thing that continues to perplex me in this entire debate is what appears to be an unwillingness to admit that the foundation for both sides of the debate is an element of “faith”.

    Have you considered that the reason it might perplex you could possibly be that you are incorrect in this assessment? After all, you being mistaken would be a far simpler explanation than the countless scientists and philosophers of science who think that you’re wrong about this.

    Is there something wrong with question asking?

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with asking questions. However, when those questions contain invalid assumptions and allegations, other people are perfectly right to criticize those questions and the people making them.

    There’s also a problem when the questions are insincere. When the people asking don’t really care about the answers, or don’t want to accept what the answers are even after they’ve been answered a million times over, or refuse to accept any sort of reliable standard against which to judge an answer… that’s also a problem. People can of course, freely continue to do this, but it will simply be exposed for what it is: a rhetorical tactic, rather than really asking questions or engaging in a real debate.

    The point of the movie from beginning to end is that there should be freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry without fear of retribution.

    That’s clearly not “the” point of the movie “from beginning to end,” as you yourself go on to state several other points.

    And as I’ve explained over and over and over in countless posts and comments on this site, the movie’s position on those issues is deceptive: exploiting those ideas as a cover to advocate for things that are quite different (i.e. affirmative action for positions that have not proven their merit) than any commitment to free speech. Which, as far as I can tell from the countless books and movies and websites promoting their ideas, they seem to exercise just fine.

    The logical connection to the outcomes of philosophical naturalism are highlighted.

    I don’t see much evidence that the producers understand what philosophical naturalism is, who holds such a position (far fewer than they seem to think), and what the actual premise of science is, which is not philosophical but rather methodological naturalism or empiricism.

    I think a starting point is to admit that there are things we don’t know and cannot know by science and reason alone.

    And yet, that’s precisely what scientists do, and precisely why they object to people trying to foist the alogic of the supernatural and the inexplicable onto science. They understand the scope and the limitations of science, and thus by what merits a good scientific explanation can be judged.

    First causes, properly basic beliefs, etc.

    Forgive me, but I don’t think one can possibly assert anything sensible about what is or isn’t a “first cause” or whether such a concept really illuminates anything useful. That seems to beg a lot of questions, and not really explain much of anything.

    I’m always stumped by the proof of the reliability of the senses. It cannot be proven that the senses are reliable. Yet every scientific inquiry rests firmly on the fact that our senses are reliable. We must believe that they are or scientific pursuit itself would be impossible. We trust by faith that our senses are reliable.

    Again, I think you’ll find this to be a mistake. Science is not premised on a belief that our senses are reliable, but rather on the openly provisional assumption.

    As one philosopher said to someone who claimed to hold a position that doubted the existence of a certain stone, “I refute it thus!” and kicked the stone. The point being that utterly regardless of some sort of fundamental justification for reality, reality is what we all seem to commonly experience and have and want to talk about and debate the content of. These assumptions are basically a moot point for all practical purposes: by even getting out of bed in the morning and getting onto the computer to argue the point, you’ve already conceded these points thousands of times over.

    If we cannot begin with agreement on the assumption that fundamentally our approach to scientific questions rests on a certain amount of faith in properly basic beliefs (law of non-contradiction, reliability of the senses, etc.) then conversations like these will never go anywhere. They will devolve to name calling and explosive strawman arguments.

    The thing is, I think you’ll find that scientists already understand these assumptions quite clearly, perhaps far more clearly than their opponents, and do not hold them on any sort of “faith” in any meaningful sense. They are, simply, the basic assumptions necessary for any attempt to function in our common reality. If anyone has any ideas on how to function or do science without them, they are more than welcome to reveal this secret to the class.

  51. Alan Niven says:

    “If we cannot begin with agreement on the assumption that fundamentally our approach to scientific questions rests on a certain amount of faith in properly basic beliefs (law of non-contradiction, reliability of the senses, etc.) then conversations like these will never go anywhere. They will devolve to name calling and explosive strawman arguments.”

    Well done Daron! At last a voice of sanity.

    One problem is that there are too many people who are ignorant of the lessons, learned from the philosophy of science over the last century. Karl Popper who was almost certainly the most Influential philosopher of science in the 20th century wrote:

    “Science is not a system of certain, or well-established statements; nor is it a system which steadily advances towards a state of finality. Our science is not knowledge (episteme); it can never claim to have attained truth, or even a substitute for it, such as probability…We do not know: we can only guess…The old scientific ideal of episteme – of absolutely certain, demonstrable knowledge- has proved to be an idol. The demand for scientific objectivity makes it inevitable that every scientific statement must remain tentative for ever.” (Karl Popper- The Logic of Scientific Discovery.)

    Notice how Popper uses the word “idol”. It perfectly captures the mindset of those scientists and laymen (and atheists) who see science as an object of worthy of genuine religious devotion. At the same time it points out the fallacy of this belief.

    Thomas Kuhn went even further with his concept of scientist subscribing to an unprovable “paradigm”. He also suggested that the process of switching from one paradigm to another, such as from Newtonian physics to Relativity theory is irrational.

    Similar discoveries which shake the foundations of maths and logic were made by Kurt Godel.

    http://www.time.com/time/time100/scientist/profile/godel.html

    The idea of empirical science, maths and logic as sources of certain knowledge was abandoned by most scientists and philosophers several decades ago but continues to gain popular currency.

    Without unprovable assumptions, you have nothing to build on. This applies to religion, science mathematics, logic and everything else. There is no such thing as an absolute certain demonstrable starting point. Without taking some principles for granted i.e. “on faith” we get an infinite regress. I look at the universe and the assumption that it was created by a Divine Intelligence leaps out at me as a good starting point and the most secure foundation to build upon. But that’s just my belief.

    It’s hard to educate people who like to think that empirical science has, barring a few details, got the ultimate questions all wrapped up, but we have to try.

    “Our knowledge can only be finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite.” –
    Karl Popper

  52. Bad says:

    Alan Niven: The idea of empirical science, maths and logic as sources of certain knowledge was abandoned by most scientists and philosophers several decades ago but continues to gain popular currency.

    Actually, its Kuhn and Popper whose approaches have largely been abandoned, and the confused and mangled uses that people try to put Godel to were never legitimate in the first place.

    There is no such thing as an absolute certain demonstrable starting point. Without taking some principles for granted i.e. “on faith” we get an infinite regress.

    Your “i.e.” does not follow. Openly provisional assumptions do not need to be taken on any sort of faith. No one needs to swear by them. In the case of empirical science, we have the rather convenient and special case that the assumptions in question are unavoidable for anyone seeking to say anything at all about our common existence, let alone even just live in it.

    I look at the universe and the assumption that it was created by a Divine Intelligence leaps out at me as a good starting point and the most secure foundation to build upon.

    The problem is that merely looking at the universe requires you already conceding the core set of ideas necessary for empirical science. Your additional Divine Intelligence belief is either unnecessary in a way that the assumptions required to look at the universe are not, or a questionable conclusion, not an assumption at all.

    It’s hard to educate people who like to think that empirical science has, barring a few details, got the ultimate questions all wrapped up, but we have to try.

    No one claims that empirical science has already got all the ultimate questions wrapped up, or necessarily ever will. But at the moment, it seems to be the only game in town that actually in the business of answering questions in any meaningful, confirmable sense.

  53. Alan Niven says:

    No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude. – Karl Popper

    I think I have just discovered a perfectly evolved specimin of Darwinian fundamentalism!

  54. Bad says:

    Sorry, but what amounts to yet another tedious “yo mamma” insult is not an “argument,” let alone a rational one.

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