More Wisdom That Kevin D. At Dean’s World Learned From Expelled

Dean’s world blogger Kevin D, fresh from his weekend viewing of Expelled, has been busy putting what he learned from the film to good use. First there was his screed about the importance of free debate, after which, without any apparent sense of irony or self-parody, he immediately disabled commenting and response.

In his latest post, he tosses in a generous helping of the endlessly tiresome “see, I told you you’d all disagree with me, and the fact that you did just goes to show I’m right!” followed by one of the central fallacies of the film: that we could have any sort of sensible debate over whether ID is mistreated in academia… without ever seriously exploring the actual scientific merits of ID itself.

No no, says Kevin: if anyone tries to debate that issue, game over. Apparently, in order to critique the same arguments ID proponents have been making for decades, we now must all first pay 10$ to an evangelical film outfit for the privilege of listening to them repeat these very same accusations on screen. Then we may sensibly comment on the controversy and claims again, or respond to the claims made by the producers and reviewers such as Kevin.

But the best part of his latest is when he deploys one of the kookiest arguments I’ve encountered in a long time: basically, ‘how dare you try to respond to my assertions about the film’s claims without having seen the film: don’t you know how potentially unreliable I am?

And no, I’m not making that last one up:

You’ve not seen the documentary but feel compelled to tell us all how it’s wrong. Or, in Mr. Kirwin’s case, how Ben Stein is wrong about connecting Nazism to Darwinsim but not taking into consideration that perhaps I misunderstood Mr. Stein. Instead he chides Ben Stein anyway rather than doing the responsible thing, seeing the film for himself, and then writing his opinion. So, Scott Kirwin doesn’t correct something stated in the documentary he heard for himself, but goes off half-cocked based upon the very definition of hearsay. If this is the way Scott treats people he claims to like I’d hate to see how he treats people he doesn’t like. (emphasis added)

Kevin’s not always the clearest of writers (a sin I’m all too familiar with myself), but if I’m following his logic correctly, I’m pretty sure that he’s implying that it’s irresponsible to listen to what he [Kevin] has to say.

Point taken, I guess?

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56 Responses to More Wisdom That Kevin D. At Dean’s World Learned From Expelled

  1. furmatte says:

    Hi there :)

    I foolishly got involved in an ID debate a few months back, and it took me quite some time to recover from it. As I’m sure you and your readership are well aware (but I’m going to say it explicitly anway), ID really has *no* scientific merits. At all. There isn’t so much as one hint of a suggestion of anything even vaguely scientific in the ID argument. I even tried to coax them into responding to me in a semi-scientific manner, but to no avail. This is just a wild stab in the dark, but perhaps this is why Expelled fails to address ID’s scientific merits…?

    The crux of their argument seems to be “You can’t prove that ID isn’t true”, but of course this is because they’ve constructed something entirely unfalsifiable. Which seems pretty anti-scientific to me.

    Great blog, by the way! :D

  2. Mark Shaw says:

    It’s really pretty sad, but it’s standard operating procedure for those who put more faith in, well, faith than they do science and direct observation. They’re right, and you’re wrong – but not only wrong; also hateful and evil – and there’s no reason for them put up with all that evil hatred, so they just walk away.

    The disappointing thing is that this sort of thing obscures peoples’ basic personalities. It’s likely that Kevin D. is a really nice fellow who’d be fun to have over for dinner or the like, but as soon as questions of faith come up all possibility of any connection like that goes right out the window.

    I feel the same way about Stein. I like him a lot, and remember reading his column first as soon as my copy of “American Spectator” came in the mail. This latest project of his has put quite a tarnish on that memory….

  3. “…but if I’m following his logic correctly, I’m pretty sure that he’s implying that it’s irresponsible to listen to what he [Kevin] has to say.”

    That’s pretty damn funny. It also reminds me of Al Franken’s take on David Brock’s conversion from right-wing attack dog to left-wing media critic. Paraphrasing Al Franken, “The right made the uncharacteristically reasonable argument that he’d spent so much time lying for them that he couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth now.”

  4. Kevin D. says:

    I got fans! Sweet!

    XOXOXOXO

  5. L. Ron Brown says:

    Kevin: If your concept of “fans” is “people who think you’re a dishonest nitwit”, then yes, you’ve probably got a few.

  6. Bad says:

    I got fans! Sweet!

    It’s New Diet Kevin D: now in even more content-free form!

  7. Mark Shaw says:

    L. Ron: For the record, I don’t know Kevin, and I certainly don’t know him well enough to agree that he’s either dishonest or a nitwit. In particular, nothing in the disagreements we’ve had over on Dean’s World – and this isn’t the first – would suggest that to me.

    Chauvinistic, sure. Arrogant, maybe. Perhaps other adjectives as well, but I’ll reserve judgment on those.

    Anyway: again, this is just for the record, since you seemed to be ascribing opinions or sentiments to me that I do not hold or feel.

  8. Bad says:

    I agree that nitwit is not what I’m going for here. If making bad arguments, even consistently, made you a nitwit, then I’d be a nitwit several times over for the long streaks of stupid I’ve pulled in my day.

  9. The Truth says:

    Never explained why there wasn’t any scientific merit to intelligent design. I mean, quite honestly both sides make it more like it’s about God (creationists say that there has to be one because everything is so complex and evolutionists say that everything evolved because there can’t be one.)

  10. Bad says:

    Never explained why there wasn’t any scientific merit to intelligent design.

    How many times do we have to go over it, in how many places? Incredulity coupled with a default fallback on supernaturalism is not an explanation, much less a testable one.

    and evolutionists say that everything evolved because there can’t be one.

    Quite a basic misunderstanding here. Even firebrands like Dawkins and Myers don’t say that everything evolved BECAUSE there can’t be a God. They don’t think there is one, and they think that evolution undercuts the need for one. But they as biologists don’t argue that evolution or biology is about disproving a God.

  11. Rwinindy says:

    Bad, where are you? I’m still waitiing for a reponse to my post on 4-22-2008 at 10:58 p.m. ( your post “Expellled movie producer exposes the holy hand of God”). I will not have accesss to e-mail till monday but I look forward to hearing from you.

  12. Never explained why there wasn’t any scientific merit to intelligent design.

    Um, that’s not how science works. The IDers have to explain how there is merit to intelligent design. Shouldn’t be too hard: all they need to do is come up with some predictions based on their theory. Once those predictions are found to be ‘true’, all us scientists will have to give it a serious look. Unfortunately, the IDers have never made a scientific prediction that has been shown to be true. In fact, I don’t think they’ve made any scientific predictions at all.

  13. Kevin D. says:

    This is lovely. I love you people, I really, really do. Here you are attacking me and “Expelled” and I bet not a single one of you saw it. If you did, you’d know it doesn’t seek to defend ID, or say it’s correct, but that, if there’s only two possible answers to a question, both deserved honest investigation.

    Talk about letting your worldview lead you by the nose.

    But, really, keep going, I’m loving it. It’s a fascinating study of people giving opinions about something they know nothing about.

    I might right a book about this. If I do, don’t you worry, you’ll get all the credit you deserve!

  14. If you did, you’d know it doesn’t seek to defend ID, or say it’s correct, but that, if there’s only two possible answers to a question, both deserved honest investigation.

    Ah, I see you’ve got the proper tense on that sentence: “deserved”, not “deserve”. Creationism had its chance, about 150 years ago, and it produced zero evidence of creation. Its dressed-up form, ID, had similar results over a decade ago, and similarly produced nada.

    You see, science moves forward; scientists don’t endlessly debate opposing points of view once one point of view is shown to have all the evidence on its side.

    We know that the movie doesn’t defend ID: it can’t. There’s nothing worth defending. That’s the whole point of the reality-based community: if you want equal time for your ideas, show us one scrap of evidence that suggests that your ideas have merit. The fact that Expelled spends all its time complaining that the IDers ‘ideas’ are being suppressed without bothering to tell us any reason why those ideas are worth examining tells most of us all we need to know.

    I might right a book about this. If I do, don’t you worry, you’ll get all the credit you deserve!

    Good luck “righting” that book. From the content of your arguments, you’ve got much more “righting” ahead of you than you realize.

  15. The Truth says:

    “You see, science moves forward; scientists don’t endlessly debate opposing points of view once one point of view is shown to have all the evidence on its side.”

    Hmm, that is interesting. Evolution doesn’t have all the evidence on its side. There is no scientifically proven explanation for missing fossils.

  16. The Truth says:

    Also, creationists talk about irreducible complexity. The fact that a flagellum of a bacteria needs all of its 15 proteins to work makes one wonder how a bacteria could evolve to that point. If you want to see any scientific support for creationism, you should see The Case For a Creator.

  17. furmatte says:

    Kevin D: “if there’s only two possible answers to a question, both deserve honest investigation.”

    But, if we’re being honest, ID is not a possible answer to the question. It’s not an answer to any question. In fact, it’s not even an answer. It’s more a collection of pseudotheological musings which offers absolutely no scientifically verifiable tenets. There may yet be another answer to the question which deserves equal examination with evolution, but ID isn’t it.

    The Truth: “There is no scientifically proven explanation for missing fossils.”

    It’s kind of hard to prove an explanation for why something is missing. There are only two ways of solving this problem: either find that which is missing, or prove that it *can’t* exist in the first place.

  18. Evolution doesn’t have all the evidence on its side. There is no scientifically proven explanation for missing fossils.

    Hmm, though I hate we’re reduced to this, let me try an answer: 1. The world is a big, big place, 2. Fossils are relatively small, and hard to find and dig up. Of course, creationists have been complaining about ‘missing links’ since Darwin’s time. Then came Archeopteryx. And Tiktaalik. And Epihippus. And… oh, hell, go read the list.

    The fact that a flagellum of a bacteria needs all of its 15 proteins to work makes one wonder how a bacteria could evolve to that point.

    More accurately, it makes you wonder. Biologists are not particularly concerned. Plenty of proteins and more complex structures are known to have performed ‘double duty’ during their existence, meaning that they had one function at one time, another function at another time. Assuming that those 15 proteins existed only for flagellum motion is flawed thinking.

    Both your arguments fall in the realm of argumentum ad ignorantiam, politely called “argument from lack of imagination”, a logical flaw.

  19. The Truth says:

    “But, if we’re being honest, ID is not a possible answer to the question. It’s not an answer to any question. In fact, it’s not even an answer. It’s more a collection of pseudotheological musings which offers absolutely no scientifically verifiable tenets.”
    ID’s possible, but it is hard to scientifically verify. However, there is evidence to suggest things are too complex to evolve, and the universe too complex to exist on its own.

  20. furmatte says:

    Perhaps I should have said “ID is not a possible *scientific* answer to the question.” ID has as much to do with science as beef has to vegetarianism. That’s the reason that scientists have no time for ID – you can’t have a scientific debate if your “rival” is completely non-scientific. If a scholar stood up and said, “the works of William Shakespeare are scientific proof of life after death” would the scientific community engage in a debate about it?

    ID may be possible, if there is a God or supreme being, but it’s not just “hard” to scientifically verify – it’s completely *impossible* to verify. This is precisely what makes it non-scientific.

    How do you define “too complex to evolve”, precisely? And besides the whole “organic lifeforms” issue, the Universe is actually a surprisingly simple place – determining what the actual “rules” are may be difficult, but once determined they are generally very elegant and straightforward. (And I say “rules” in quotes because these are not Rules in the everyday intelligently generated sense…)

  21. Bad says:

    This is lovely. I love you people, I really, really do. Here you are attacking me and “Expelled” and I bet not a single one of you saw it.

    This isn’t a coherent response Kevin, and I suspect you know it. If anything we’re saying is so incorrect, you’d be able to rebut it, rather than hiding behind the “you haven’t seen it” as a talisman.

    If you did, you’d know it doesn’t seek to defend ID, or say it’s correct, but that, if there’s only two possible answers to a question, both deserved honest investigation.

    Honest investigation allows for the possibility that something could turn out to be bad science. But neither you, the film, nor any ID proponent seems willing to confront or even acknowledge that possibility: so how can the investigation be “honest”?

    And there’s now another tiny problem with this claim: as of last night, I have seen the film, and you’re full of it (I’ll have my final thoughts up this weekend). Yes, the filmmakers have spun it that the film does not support ID, and you and others have repeated this claim. But it’s nonsense. The film never comes out and says “ID is correct, evolution blows” but it most certainly implies over and over that ID has merit that scientists are too scared to confront. It’s rhetoric is virtually verbatim exactly what ID the movement claims and avoids (i.e. the topic of whether ID is science).

    How is it even in the least sensible in any case to claim that it doesn’t, say, support the teaching of ID as legitimate science? It bemoans the case of Carolyn Crocker, who it claims was fired… for teaching ID (actually, it tries to play it off as a mere “mention” to downplay the reality). How can you have it both ways? Either ID is good science that can be taught or it can’t, and a school deciding what can or can’t be taught is ok. The film makes no bones about where it wants the audience to come down on this issue, even as distorted a presentation of this incident as it gives.

    Of course, that’s only assuming that it’s telling the truth about these cases in the first place. But it isn’t: it basically outright lies to make its case. Here’s something Stein says, for instance:

    There are a number of scientists and academics who’ve been fired, denied tenure, lost tenure or lost grants because they even suggested the possibility of intelligent design. The most egregious is Richard Sternberg at the Smithsonian, the editor of a magazine that published a peer-reviewed paper about ID. He lost his job.

    Before you go off on the “you haven’t seen the film” thing again, I’ve picked this quote because this wasn’t said in the film. It was said by Stein here. Of course, he also makes this case in the film, though there they use some very coy language to imply that Sternberg was fired, without actually literally saying so (virtually every unaware audience member I’ve seen comes away with the unambiguous impression that Sternberg was fired). Why so coy? Because Sternberg never “lost his job.” Period.

    What do you have to say to that, Kevin? Oh wait, some people somewhere still haven’t paid to see the film. So, magically, we can’t discuss those claims, and their relevance to the phony theme of the movie?

    But, really, keep going, I’m loving it. It’s a fascinating study of people giving opinions about something they know nothing about.

    Except you can’t seem to come up with an example of people giving opinions that are incorrect: you use the “you didn’t see it” as a shield to avoid having to deal with substantive criticism.

    If people were judging the film as a work of art, you might have a point. But since people are attacking the film’s message and claims, and these are not exactly a secret or unique to the film, and tons of people that have seen it, now including myself, have reported what these claims and tactics are, your evasion has become ridiculous.

  22. Mark Shaw says:

    I might right a book about this.

    Yah. Good luck with that, eh?

  23. Chad says:

    Does Kevin not see the irony in his own words? “But, really, keep going, I’m loving it. It’s a fascinating study of people giving opinions about something they know nothing about.”

    Seriously?!?! Kevin, I’m sorry you’re so stupid, I really am. I’d spell out the why what you said was the definition of irony, but that would make what you said even more pathetic. Poor, poor Kevin. What will we ever do with you…

  24. The Truth says:

    “How do you define “too complex to evolve”, precisely? And besides the whole “organic lifeforms” issue, the Universe is actually a surprisingly simple place – determining what the actual “rules” are may be difficult, but once determined they are generally very elegant and straightforward. (And I say “rules” in quotes because these are not Rules in the everyday intelligently generated sense…)”
    I am basically taking about irreducible complexity. Evolution works by slight changes caused by slight mutations and natural selection. 15 proteins are in the flagellum of a bacterium and all are required for it to work. Also, considering the fact bacteria reproduce by self-replication, how can there be much change?

  25. The Truth says:

    I am aware that they mutate, but somehow I don’t think bad genes preventing reproduction would apply in that case, considering bacteria can increase as soon as they are “born.”

  26. furmatte says:

    So far, I do not believe that a case of so-called “irreducible complexity” has actually been proven to be irreducibly complex. Even the evolution of the flagellum has been broken down into feasible stages. Until such a time as a supposedly irreducibly complex organism has been proven to actually be irreducibly complex then the ID argument has absolutely no substance.

  27. Smokey says:

    furmatte wrote:
    “So far, I do not believe that a case of so-called “irreducible complexity” has actually been proven to be irreducibly complex.”

    Correct, but it’s irrelevant. You’re missing the Big Lie here.

    “Even the evolution of the flagellum has been broken down into feasible stages.”

    Yes, but more importantly, the eubacterial (there are different kinds of flagella with completely different compositions and therefore origins) flagellum is not IC. Plenty of its component proteins can be absent without loss of function.

    “Until such a time as a supposedly irreducibly complex organism has been proven to actually be irreducibly complex then the ID argument has absolutely no substance.”

    Here’s where you’re missing the point. IC is merely a definition. The hypothesis that they refuse to test is: IC structures cannot have evolved. See the dishonesty? They state a hypothesis as fact.

  28. furmatte says:

    Greed, Smokey :) What I was trying to say is that there is no such thing as a truly Irreducibly Complex structure, since all allegedly IC structures have been proven to be reducible (such as is the case with eubacterial flagella, which can be broken down into separate functioning bits).

    Of course, the discovery of a truly Irreducibly complex structure would be the *only* feather in the ID cap, and it still wouldn’t actually be any kind of proof of ID!

  29. furmatte says:

    I beg your pardon, Smokey – that first word was supposed to be “Agreed”, not “Greed”! Oops.

  30. Smokey says:

    “What I was trying to say is that there is no such thing as a truly Irreducibly Complex structure, since all allegedly IC structures have been proven to be reducible (such as is the case with eubacterial flagella, which can be broken down into separate functioning bits).”

    I don’t agree. Evolutionary theory predicts the evolution of structures that could meet the definition of IC. While you are correct in noting that all allegedly IC structures have been shown to be reducible, that just reflects the incompetence of ID proponents.

    “Of course, the discovery of a truly Irreducibly complex structure would be the *only* feather in the ID cap, and it still wouldn’t actually be any kind of proof of ID!”

    Correct, because they are lying, stating their hypothesis as fact.

  31. The Truth says:

    “Even the evolution of the flagellum has been broken down into feasible stages.”
    And they are…?
    “Of course, the discovery of a truly Irreducibly complex structure would be the *only* feather in the ID cap, and it still wouldn’t actually be any kind of proof of ID!”
    I think it would be. If something can’t have evolved, then it would have to be created.
    “Correct, because they are lying, stating their hypothesis as fact.”
    Funny how both sides seem to use this argument.
    “The hypothesis that they refuse to test is: IC structures cannot have evolved.”
    It is pretty difficult to test this, as evolution is supposed to have happened over millions of years.
    “Evolutionary theory predicts the evolution of structures that could meet the definition of IC.”
    I thought evolutionary theory stated that life started when lightning created a life-form, and through natural selection and random mutation it evolved into everything we have today.

  32. Dude says:

    “Of course, the discovery of a truly Irreducibly complex structure would be the *only* feather in the ID cap, and it still wouldn’t actually be any kind of proof of ID!”
    If a creature that can’t evolve isn’t proof of ID, is there any proof of evolution? :roll:

  33. The Truth says:

    Here is some info on why the universe could not have originated by itself. This suggests that there actually is a God and threatens the evolutionary theory.
    http://www.angelfire.com/mi/dinosaurs/bigbang.html

  34. Ideaman says:

    “I thought evolutionary theory stated that life started when lightning created a life-form, and through natural selection and random mutation it evolved into everything we have today.”
    Then why do some things have more chromosomes than others?

  35. Ideaman says:

    I mean if it increased genetic information wouldn’t it make it harder for an animal to produce viable offspring, i.e. horse-donkey hybrids are non-viable?

  36. Ideaman says:

    “Correct, but it’s irrelevant. You’re missing the Big Lie here.”
    Creationists resort to accusing Darwin of being a liar, and evolutionists resort to calling creationists liars. Can’t you argue without stirring up hate and making accusations?

  37. Ideaman says:

    “Correct, because they are lying, stating their hypothesis as fact.”
    The irony in that statement is that you are stating your hypothesis is fact because you are calling the other viewpoint a lie.

  38. Ideaman says:

    Also, what about this criticism of evolution? I know the first 2 points are immediate throwaways, but what about the rest? There could be some merit…

  39. Glazius says:

    Ideaman wrote (variously):

    Then why do some things have more chromosomes than others?

    Chromosomes are a kind of cellular filing cabinet. Some life-forms don’t have chromosomes at all. Others have varying numbers. Chromosomes can split or merge over the course of DNA reproduction and cell division. Multiple chromosomes tend to be bad for humans not because of the number but because they’re really more copies of the same genes than we should have.

    Mules and other hybrids, say horse/zebra, can live pretty normal lives but not reliably reproduce, because the genetic content has been shuffled more over the chromosomes than you’d expect from a single generation of merged or split chromosomes. When it comes time to create haploid sex cells, the chromosomes are just too randomly mixed to reliably produce viable offspring. Key word: reliably. Even after all this time, mules and horsebras/zeborses/whatever can still rarely reproduce, not with each other necessarily but with a parent species.

    Chromosome number is a distinguishing mark of species, but not necessarily a barrier to reproduction, especially for the first few generations.

    Creationists resort to accusing Darwin of being a liar, and evolutionists resort to calling creationists liars. Can’t you argue without stirring up hate and making accusations?

    Well, in Expelled the filmmakers say things that are either provably false or using some rather bizarre definitions. Their “blacklisted” professor and journalist continued full-time in their careers for two years, the professor getting a new job at a different college, the journalist retaining her column. The professor now gives lectures for an intelligent design advocacy organization, though there’s no evidence she wouldn’t be able to get another job as a researcher, and the journalist still publishes columns in the newspaper she left, in addition to other newspapers with a national audience.

    Also, science by most definitions involves methodological naturalism – it seeks natural explanations for natural phenomena. Assuming that a designer created life via supernatural means doesn’t generate any scientifically testable hypotheses, because it’s not a natural explanation. Calling ID a scientific theory is either a deliberate falsehood or a deliberate perversion of the definition.

  40. Glazius says:

    Also, what about this criticism of evolution? I know the first 2 points are immediate throwaways, but what about the rest? There could be some merit…

    If you meant to link something there, it didn’t take. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  41. Bad says:

    The fact that there such things as hybrids at all is a serious problem for creationist barminology (i.e. the idea of set “kinds” that reproduce after their “kind”).

    The reality is that there is a whole continuum of hybridization as two species become less and less like each other genetically, and hence more likely to end up with a difference that cripples the reproductive or evo-devo process. It’s a virtual real time demonstration of why defining a “species” is so difficult (which Berlinski, in the Expelled movie dishonestly cites as a problem for biology, instead of what it really is: a problem with discrete human language being used to characterize something that is that simple or discrete). And all of that is, of course, exactly what you’d expect if speciation and genetic change worked the way biologists say it does…

  42. furmatte says:

    In response to “The Truth” and others, if there was to be found a single case of irreducible complexity, all it would prove is that that *one case* does not fit our models of evolution. Furthermore, just because an organism might be considered to be “irreducibly complex” does not mean that it truly is – it could well be that we simply haven’t found an explanation yet (though this argument is purely academic because nobody has yet found a truly IC organism, and I doubt anyone ever will).

    As for the development of bacterial flagella, try Googling “Evolution of Flagella” and take your pick of nearly half a million hits. Perhaps you will find something compelling.

  43. Bad says:

    I think the key point is that since most ID figures are inherently unwilling to specify any particular alternative mechanism, and since their range of possible explanations can include anything including the supernatural, their position is essentially so weak that it only works as a fallback once you’ve been able to rule out all possible natural explanation, including (and this is key) all the things we don’t know about nature (which is likely to be one heck of a lot!) In other words, their claims only work if and when we have perfect knowledge of all of physical existence: something we don’t have, and aren’t ever likely to. If we did, though, THEN we could fall back on their “explanation,” despite the fact that it’s basically “I don’t know/it was magic.”

    Now that’s not to say that particular hypotheses which include an intelligent designer can’t be made and tested. One good example is the idea of “front loading,” which at least makes some predictions about measurable things, even though the decisive evidence is conveniently lost in the past (i.e. what the genomes of past life included, as opposed to what they include today) with little hope of the necessary level of recovery. But even if, say, front loading were conclusively refuted, this would do much at all to even touch the claimed “minimal” definition of ID, which has infinite fallbacks in a way that scientific explanations never do.

  44. furmatte says:

    “ID…has infinite fallbacks in a way that scientific explanations never do.”

    You’re absolutely right (of course!). I tend to grow tired of debates such as these pretty quickly because it doesn’t matter how much evidence you produce, how much research you present or how many arguments you make, the IDers will always counter it with something that is invariably nonsensical and irrelevant.

    On the plus side, I’m glad I came across your blog – it never ceases to put a smile on my face, and it always makes me think (and getting my brain to work on a daily basis is no mean feat). And might I add what a fantastic and thorough review you have made of Expelled. Compelling reading. :)

  45. Ideaman says:

    Yes Glazius, there was supposed to be a link. The first two points were simple propaganda, but there were some that were actually scientific. As for whether or not ID is testable, I don’t see how either is testable. We weren’t there to see it happen.
    “ID…has infinite fallbacks in a way that scientific explanations never do.”
    IDers claim evolution has fallbacks, such as missing links in the fossil record, ancient organisms that are still surviving today (i.e. coelecanth, okapi, Mokele-mbembe [just kidding]), the complexity of DNA structure (improbable it should exist on its own).

  46. Glazius says:

    Ideaman says:

    Yes Glazius, there was supposed to be a link. The first two points were simple propaganda, but there were some that were actually scientific.

    You know, saying that but still not providing the link doesn’t help me understand you any better.

    As for whether or not ID is testable, I don’t see how either is testable. We weren’t there to see it happen.

    But we are here to see it happening. We can actually track the origin of the species through taking a look at the genetic mistakes that we still carry. “Pseudogenes”, or copies of genes which are nonfunctional due to omissions, and “ERVs”, or retroviruses which spliced themselves into the genome but couldn’t get back out again, are used to track species relationship. Finding a pseudogene or ERV common to a number of organisms is both predicted by evolution (as a neutral sequence it will endure since there’s no selective pressure to change it) and evidence of common ancestry.

    Similarly, people can make testable predictions about selection pressure by looking at the involved genetics and comparing the variation within a species to the variation of otherwise neutral DNA – if a gene is playing a role in selection, there will be less variation among population members than if it doesn’t, since mutations to the gene will affect survival in a way that mutations in neutral DNA do not.

    IDers claim evolution has fallbacks,

    Not in the way ID does. If we find a fossil rabbit in pre-Cambrian strata, then the theory of evolution has a lot of explaining to do and not much of a place to start. But ID postulates an interventionist being with unknown and limitless powers – any finding of fact will confirm ID because, well, the designer must have done it a different way than we thought.

    such as missing links in the fossil record,

    The fossil record is incomplete, but that’s not a problem. A problem would arise if, like the out-of-depth rabbit, there was a fossil much earlier than it “should be”.

    ancient organisms that are still surviving today

    The good earth is rich, and can provide for all.

    Seriously, though, there’s way more livable ocean than there is livable land, and coelacanths are deep-sea fish, meaning that you’d need an exposed seabed to find a coelacanth fossil, and at least for more “recent” time scales, those are rare. Coelacanths show up in the fossil record because they were everywhere in the ancient oceans, so it’s not surprising that there are still a few environments they’re well-adapted to.

    the complexity of DNA structure

    This is not a problem for evolution, which is concerned with the propagation of life, not its origin.

  47. The Truth says:

    “In response to “The Truth” and others, if there was to be found a single case of irreducible complexity, all it would prove is that that *one case* does not fit our models of evolution.”
    Are you basically saying that one case could be an exception? What if it is impossible for one case to have evolved???

  48. Ideaman says:

    “You know, saying that but still not providing the link doesn’t help me understand you any better.”
    Here it is: http://www.twoorthree.net/2006/09/ten_major_flaws.html
    “But we are here to see it happening.”
    Of course we can see creatures adapting, but can we see that they are actually creating the diverse conditions today?
    “Seriously, though, there’s way more livable ocean than there is livable land”
    I also mentioned the okapi…
    “This is not a problem for evolution, which is concerned with the propagation of life, not its origin.”
    That’s the problem with evolution for ID. There needs to be a way for it to have originally started, and that’s where God (or the alien) comes in.

  49. Ideaman says:

    Or rather, where ID comes in. IDers complain you aren’t answering that question.

  50. furmatte says:

    In response to The Truth, I said *IF* a single case of IC were to be found that didn’t fit evoultion then it wouldn’t negate evolution. Firstly, if evolution explains the development of *every other* form of life then, yes, the one case would be an exception, but only insofar as it would require us to re-examine the specifics of our definition of evolution. Secondly, this argument is, as I said, academic since it is not likely to happen.

    The onus is on the IDers to prove a case of IC, and so far they have been woefully incapable of doing so. Until the IDers have offered any evidence or proof whatsoever then their “hypothesis” lies in the realm of fantasy.

    In response to Ideaman, I don’t see why IDers should complain that we “aren’t answering that question”. Evolution doesn’t pretend to explain the origin of *life* – Darwin’s work was, after all, called “On The Origin Of *Species*”.

  51. Ideaman says:

    Wouldn’t there have to be a way life started?

  52. furmatte says:

    “Wouldn’t there have to be a way life started?”

    Of course, but evolution is about what happened *after* life started. Scientists have spent decades studying Cosmology, but they can still only speculate about how the Universe began. The study of Cosmology is basically about what happened *after* the Big Bang.

    The Origin of *Life* is a whole different issue from Evolution.

    To put it another way, a cookery book gives you a list of ingredients and tells you how to combine them to make a meal, but it doesn’t tell you where the ingredients came from.

  53. Arrow says:

    Along those lines….

    If every species of plant and animal is created with no ancestral connection to any other species, then where do IDers think the first organisms of a particular species come from? I mean, Biblical stories aside. What do they really think? Do these animals just fall out of the sky one day? Come walking out of the rain forest? Emerge from a cave somewhere? What?

  54. Ideaman says:

    They think God (or an alien) created them. It’s simple.

  55. Ideaman says:

    Not much detail, but I think out of thin air. Assuming that God can create matter, it’s possible.

  56. Glazius says:

    Here it is: http://www.twoorthree.net/2006/09/ten_major_flaws.html

    Ah, okay.

    So, in order:

    3) There are mutant people with superdense bones (in Connecticut), accelerated muscular development (in Germany), relative immunity to cholesterol-based heart disease (in Italy), and most notably, resistance to otherwise fatal illnesses including the legendary Black Plague and the modern HIV (about 10% of all Europeans). These are most of them recent developments, not observed before. Sounds like new stuff to me.

    4) The second law of thermodynamics applies only to closed systems. The Earth is hooked up to a 175 petawatt fusion reactor. You can see it in the sky half of the day on average, and its energy is often used to convert gas and liquids into a solid form.

    5) The entire fossil record is made up of transitional forms. Of course some of them are missing. Most of the things that have ever lived are never fossilized. But more tellingly we haven’t found any counterexamples in the fossil record.

    6) Even if no fossil records existed at all, humans and apes still share genetic mistakes – pseudogenes and ERVs that are conserved, not being beneficial or harmful.

    7) Radiometric dating has known problems. Some forms have “resolution frames” millions of years wide, meaning they may mark recent rocks as ancient. Some rock formations contain xenoliths, older rock which carried along in newer rock without melting. The fact that problems exist does not make dating methods useless, but it does place restrictions on their use which scientists respect and follow.

    And again, even if there were no fossil record, there’s still a genetic record.

    8) This is actually an argument in support of the theory of evolution, since if a structure were useful it would persist instead of vanishing entirely. Not all vestigial structures need a use to persist – they only need to do no harm to an organism’s chances for survival.

    9) Evolution is not said to have begun any more than motion is. It is an ongoing and real process, and doesn’t need to have a defined start for its study to be useful.

    10) Evolution does not discuss origins.

    Of course we can see creatures adapting, but can we see that they are actually creating the diverse conditions today?

    …I’m not sure what you’re asking here. Is the current generation produced by a previous generation? Will the current generation produce a future generation? Both of these are reasonable assumptions and have stood up to most tests that might call them into question.

    Do you have evidence that the current generation did not come from a previous generation, or will not give rise to a future generation?

    I also mentioned the okapi…

    Yes, but my telepathy’s gone on the blink again. What, exactly, is the problem with the okapi? It and the giraffe are the only two extant members of the order Giraffidae, which is believed to have given rise to modern horses. So what?

    That’s the problem with evolution for ID. There needs to be a way for it to have originally started, and that’s where God (or the alien) comes in.

    Yes, and there needs to be a way for motion to have originally started, but nobody’s suggesting that we ban Newtonian mechanics from physics class and replace them with Intelligent Moving – because the mechanics concern themselves with the propagation of motion, not its origin, much as the modern theory of evolution concerns itself with the propagation of life, not its origin.

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