CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Well, PZ Myers has yet again expended his time and energy, not on conducting scientific research, or educating his students, but instead trashing anyone – intelligent design proponents especially – with the temerity to doubt his own blinkered metaphysical interpretation of natural history. Intelligent design theorists, he says this time around, are "flailing about trying to emphasize their pretense of scholarliness," whose ideas "haven't worked so well" and whose arguments "fall flat." So if intelligent design proponents are really just a bunch of dolts whose arguments are hopelessly ineffectual, why does Myers not move on to more important things and simply let their ideas die a natural death? Why devote endless hours combating them, as if they represented a genuine threat?
 
That's just it. He can't afford to ignore intelligent design, because with no one like him standing in the way some observers might actually (and often do in fact) find it persuasive. At the same time he can't afford to treat intelligent design seriously, because some observers again might find the arguments for it persuasive quite regardless of his best efforts at a serious refutation. Contemptuous insults are pretty much the only strategy left for someone determined to defend orthodoxy without the aid of substantive arguments and explanations. Say what we will about the ad hominem tactic being a fallacy; it's almost always effective. In the hands of a skilled academic bully like Myers, it routinely badgers uncommitted observers (or the "hapless ignorati" as he affectionately terms them) into intellectual submission. After all, most of us would rather not be labeled an idiot, or a pathological liar or a deluded religious crackpot if we can avoid it. 
 
Now aside from all that Myers does make a point that appears legitimate on its face. That is, if intelligent design promoters have wrongly defined Darwinism* in terms of "randomness and unguided evolutionary processes" on one hand, and "adaptation and fitness" on the other, then they should find out which view actually represents Darwinism and stick with that. The problem there is that just about everything already represents Darwinism. So in the case at hand, Darwinists happily explain examples of seemingly useless non-adaptive characteristics like junk DNA as evidence of unguided randomness; but they also explain stunning examples of functional complexity (like the mammalian eye or echolocation in bats) as evidence of boundless adaptability. Similarly every biological eventuality is explainable in terms of "descent with modification," where extremely wide levels of taxa-spanning variation and diversity are evidence of modification, but shared characteristics like homologous structures and identifiable body plans are evidence of (common) descent.
 
In short, there's no conceivable biological feature that Darwinism cannot explain in principle. But if there's nothing that it cannot adequately explain in principle, there's also no way in principle to falsify it. So on this I have to agree with Myers, Dawkins, Coyne, et al: Because his particular brand of evolution is not falsifiable there is nothing in biology that "could not have evolved." But ordinarily science doesn't accept mere possibility as its burden of proof. Under this sort of methodological libertinism the evidence for Darwinism is indeed overwhelming – so overwhelming that it explains not only all the biological evidence currently at our disposal but any biological evidence we can imagine.
 
This uncritical acceptance of Darwinism may be inspired by the naturalistic metaphysics that arguably drives Darwinism in the first place. For many naturalists, after all, even the strongest conceivable evidence for a miracle would not be strong enough to falsify naturalism. Keith Parsons, for example, says, "Perhaps if all the galaxies in the Virgo cluster were instantly rearranged so that when viewed from earth they spelled out 'PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD' this would be a good candidate for the scientifically inexplicable." But then he hedges his bets: "It nonetheless remains that we do not have, and have little prospect of getting, an adequate criterion for distinguishing the inexplicable from the merely extraordinary." (Science, Confirmation, and the Theistic Hypothesis, 1986).
 
In other words there may yet be a naturalistic explanation for even the most clearly miraculous event. But at least Parsons grants the possibility of a miracle in principle. Myers is unequivocal: "There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us." To recap: All possible evidence confirms Darwinism by default, while no possible evidence is sufficient to confirm that God exists. It looks as if Myers has created for himself the best of all possible atheistic worlds.  
 
 
* As I use it here, "Darwinism" means belief that the entire range of biodiversity is readily explicable in terms of descent with modification from an original common ancestral stock, by purely natural mechanisms like selection.

50 comments:

good article. Meyers is a solider not a scholar. He has the scholarly credentials and he knows how to be one but he is a soldier for atheism. very narrow minded.

you say " So in the case at hand, Darwinists happily explain examples of seemingly useless non-adaptive characteristics like junk DNA as evidence of unguided randomness; but they also explain stunning examples of functional complexity (like the mammalian eye or echolocation in bats) as evidence of boundless adaptability"

great point. There are several double talk issues like that where they flip back and forth when they need to. One is descriptive vs prescriptive laws of physics.

I have no problem with evolution I don't see it as a disproof of the Bible. But this guy probably does.

Right. Though I do have problems with large-scale evolution I agree that it doesn't strictly contradict the Bible, certainly not the gospel. I'm all for teaching about evolution as long as it's subject to the same ongoing scrutiny and re-examination as every other idea.

What gets me is this deep, emotionally volatile metaphysical commitment pressed upon us in the name of science. So somehow it's intellectually cool to question just about everything, up to and including the existence of the external world around us (think philosophical idealism and "The Matrix" here), but to question Darwinism is simply verboten. It's weird.

Here is an interesting site that deals with Evolution:

Science Against Evolution

The person who runs it is a Christian, although he usually doesn't talk about his faith on this site.

He wrote a book called Turbo Charge Your Church:

Turbo Charge Your Church

In that book, seems to be a proponent of Soul Sleep and keeping Jewish law.

Thanks for the comments JB. That site has some interesting stuff, though it wasn't the easiest for me to navigate. I like this bit from one of the newsletters, which should help, at least, to debunk the myth that criticism of evolution must be "religiously motivated":

"Furthermore, proving any particular evolutionary theory...does not prove any particular religious belief is correct. That's why we never try to prove any particular religious view is correct to disprove evolution, and never claim that any particular religion is true because evolution is false."

I agree with Joe that the truth of Christianity thrives independently of evolutionary theory. At the same time I see no reason to believe that evolutionary theory is so special that one may not doubt it for a host of non-religious reasons. For starters, I have heard much about a certain "mountain of evidence" supporting the larger-scale theory, but wherever that mountain is supposed to be, for me at least it seems to be shrouded in thick clouds of metaphysical speculation.

So in the case at hand, Darwinists happily explain examples of seemingly useless non-adaptive characteristics like junk DNA as evidence of unguided randomness; but they also explain stunning examples of functional complexity (like the mammalian eye or echolocation in bats) as evidence of boundless adaptability.

Perhaps if you had a better understanding of the science, you would see that there is no inconsistency. Evolution theory explains what we observe because it's a theory that works. However it is not true that it explains "any biological evidence we can imagine". Show me the remains of large dinosaurs that date to the Cambrian era, and I guarantee that the whole field of evolutionary science will be turned upside-down. There are any number of imaginable things that, if they were ever observed, would break the theory. The reason the theory is so solid, and so strongly held by people who value evidence, is that we haven't observed any such thing that would cast it into doubt.

I think you're mixing biological with geological evidence, but let's run with it.

Let's say someone finds large dinosaurs (or better, a rabbit) in the Precambrian. Here are some of the options facing evolution theorists:

1. Immediately scrap the theory of evolution completely. Would anyone really expect evolution theorists to do this?

2. Decide that the discovery is not in fact a large dinosaur or a rabbit.

3. Decide that the rocks where the discovery is found are not in fact Precambrian.

4. Revise the theory as necessary. Hypothesize that dinosaurs evolved much more rapidly than previously supposed, which evolution was followed by a longer period of stasis than previously supposed. Consult Gould and Eldredge (1977) for details on how this works.

Despite your guarantee, then, I very much doubt that with such a finding "the whole field of evolutionary science would be turned upside-down."

Let's take a closer look. Option 2 is irrelevant, because whatever it is, it has the characteristics of a land-dwelling vertebrate, and there was no such thing during the Cambrian period. So that would pose a serious problem for the theory. Option 3 is not in keeping with the hypothetical situation. If the dating was definitive (the remains were found in context with Cambrian fossils), then again this would be a huge problem.

Option 4 is much more difficult than you seem to think. Yes, theories are revised, but it's not ad hoc. The revised theory must still be consistent with the broader body of evidence and scientific understanding. And it must withstand scrutiny. To simply say that dinosaurs evolved earlier than thought would still entail big problems for the theory. There would be no plausible evolutionary path for such a thing, unless the whole fossil record was found to be drastically different from what we currently have in evidence. This option would essentially break the theory. At the very least, it would involve a drastic revision, resulting in something that bears only superficial resemblance to evolution science as we know it today.

Option 1 would seem to be the only reasonable choice. But that would also be very difficult, because the theory is so well established. That means that it has withstood all kinds of scrutiny, and it is consistent with all the evidence we have, as well as all the other branches of science that work together to form a matrix of interrelated understanding. If this was a single piece of evidence that is inconsistent with everything else we know, I suspect that it would be regarded with extreme suspicion. And rightfully so. After all, no such thing has ever been found yet. And that's why people like Myers are confident in their position.

That's the thing about science. It doesn't just make ad hoc postulations to account for individual pieces of evidence, and theories are not formulated before the search for evidence proceeds (as is the case with ID). A genuine scientific theory must account for all of the available evidence. Then if additional evidence comes to light, it may result in the theory being modified somewhat, but not in the drastic manner that we have discussed here. That's a direct consequence of scientific method ensuring that the theory is consistent with observation in the first place.

I appreciate your thoughtful replies here, Skeptical, but please allow me to point your skepticism in a new direction:

"Let's take a closer look. Option 2 is irrelevant, because whatever it is, it has the characteristics of a land-dwelling vertebrate, and there was no such thing during the Cambrian period. So that would pose a serious problem for the theory. Option 3 is not in keeping with the hypothetical situation. If the dating was definitive (the remains were found in context with Cambrian fossils), then again this would be a huge problem."

Okay, I'll have to go ahead and agree on Option 2. I'm not so sure about Option 3, though. I recall hearing of cases of divergence between expected and actual distribution of fossils among successive layers of strata, of fossils organisms basically popping up in the "wrong place at the wrong time." In other words, the geological column continues to present various anomalies or problems for evolution. That a dinosaur, or rabbit, would turn up among Cambrian fossils would be a more extreme ("huge") example of a problem that already exists.

As to Option 4: I don't see why the theory could not accommodate rapid, early dinosaur evolution followed by a long dinosaur equilibrium of some 300 million years – only because evolution has made these sorts of accommodations in the past. Recall the finding of a Coelacanth, thought to have gone extinct during the Late Cretaceous (ca. 66 mya) when a modern specimen was discovered in 1938. Sharks have changed very little over what is supposed to be 400+ million year history. Etc. Again we seem to disagree on the degree of difficulty such a finding would entail for the theory, not whether there are such difficulties. This is what I mean by evolution being so malleable. How can it be a genuine law of science, hence subject to potential falsification, if it doesn't apply equally or even predictably to all organisms?

Skeptical:

"Option 1 would seem to be the only reasonable choice. But that would also be very difficult, because the theory is so well established. That means that it has withstood all kinds of scrutiny, and it is consistent with all the evidence we have, as well as all the other branches of science that work together to form a matrix of interrelated understanding. If this was a single piece of evidence that is inconsistent with everything else we know, I suspect that it would be regarded with extreme suspicion. And rightfully so. After all, no such thing has ever been found yet. And that's why people like Myers are confident in their position."

I disagree that "no such thing has ever been found." Examples of anomalies abound, but as Kuhn pointed out years ago, these are quite easily and routinely swept under the rug as individual outliers (regardless of how many are encountered) within the larger paradigm. Otherwise I agree completely. A Cambrian dinosaur would not falsify evolution. Nor would anything else. And that's just my point.

What's one little out-of-place dinosaur fossil, after all, in comparison with a "mountain of evidence" for evolution that is totally and completely "overwhelming"? But an overwhelming mountain of evidence isn't a testable hypothesis. It's a subjective declaration of confidence in the theory. Hence the confidence of Myers et al, a confidence which, ironically, cannot be shaken by any form of evidence.

I recall hearing of cases of divergence between expected and actual distribution of fossils among successive layers of strata, of fossils organisms basically popping up in the "wrong place at the wrong time." In other words, the geological column continues to present various anomalies or problems for evolution. That a dinosaur, or rabbit, would turn up among Cambrian fossils would be a more extreme ("huge") example of a problem that already exists.
- Those cases you heard about are not genuine. They are found in creationist literature, but are in fact examples of pseudo-scientific efforts by creationists to discredit genuine science. See here. In our example, It would be a major problem for the theory, provided it's not a case of fraud or some kind of gross mistake in identifying the evidence.

I don't see why the theory could not accommodate rapid, early dinosaur evolution followed by a long dinosaur equilibrium
- As I said, there's no evolutionary path for this. There are no land-dwelling vertebrates from which the dinosaur could evolve. These things have to occur in some plausible sequence. And that's what we see in the fossil record.

Recall the finding of a Coelacanth, thought to have gone extinct during the Late Cretaceous
- This is no problem at all for the theory. A particular species may remain relatively unchanged, even as new species diverge and evolve from it.

This is what I mean by evolution being so malleable. How can it be a genuine law of science, hence subject to potential falsification, if it doesn't apply equally or even predictably to all organisms?
- It's not that the theory is malleable in the way you imagine. You may have a particular idea of what the theory entails, and upon seeing something that doesn't fit that idea, you think science has had to bend and reshape the theory, but that's not true.

Examples of anomalies abound, but as Kuhn pointed out years ago, these are quite easily and routinely swept under the rug as individual outliers
- I'm not too familiar with Kuhn, but my understanding of his position is that when the accumulation of anomalous evidence becomes sufficient, then there is a "paradigm shift". In other words, a new theory is adopted. The issue seems to be what we do with the evidence before it gains that accumulated weight. A single anomalous finding is indeed likely to be explained away, especially if an explanation can be found for it. The anomaly that can't be explained still presents a problem. Is there an alternate theory that works better? If not, then we really have no choice but to wait for more information.

A Cambrian dinosaur would not falsify evolution. Nor would anything else. And that's just my point.
- I think you're wrong. If it couldn't be explained, it would be a huge problem.

What's one little out-of-place dinosaur fossil, after all, in comparison with a "mountain of evidence" for evolution that is totally and completely "overwhelming"?
- As I said, this would be a big problem. But remember, this is a hypothetical. We haven't seen anything like that.

Hence the confidence of Myers et al, a confidence which, ironically, cannot be shaken by any form of evidence.
- Myers is wrong. He should be willing to consider evidence. But his position is based on evidence already available, not some hypothetical evidence, that probably will never be seen.

Im-skeptical, you should go to this blog, and read the Evolution info on the right hand side of the page:

Atheism-Analyzed

I'm sure that Stan would love to have a talk with you about your defense of evolution.

JBsptfn,

I read the first article in the list. It says, right up front, "There is absolutely no, NO, creationism involved whatsoever."

As I read, I quickly noticed that he was saying things that are strictly creationist party-line. Then I noticed that he asserts things as fact that are absolutely not fact. Then I noticed that he asserts things that are clearly creationist.

I can conclude only that he's not honest about the creationist content of his "course on evolution", or he's simply unaware of it. At any rate, I don't expect any kind of objective analysis from him, but I'll look at more of what he has to say.

Stan may be a creationist, but he isn't one of those that doesn't believe in a young earth, and he would have some good objections to the things you say about him.

Skeptical:

"Those cases you heard about are not genuine. They are found in creationist literature, but are in fact examples of pseudo-scientific efforts by creationists to discredit genuine science. See here. In our example, It would be a major problem for the theory, provided it's not a case of fraud or some kind of gross mistake in identifying the evidence."

You're starting to lose me here. Creationist stereotypes and links to sites dedicated to defeating them falls short of an argument that large-scale evolutionary theory is not laden with problems. Now if it is laden with problems, as I maintain with many others, then a "major" problem would again be merely another of many along a scale ranging from "trivial" to "almost but not quite fatal."

"As I said, there's no evolutionary path for this. There are no land-dwelling vertebrates from which the dinosaur could evolve. These things have to occur in some plausible sequence. And that's what we see in the fossil record."

Well, to be fair, we only see what the fossil record provides us, which I've been told by certain evolutionary apologists is not much. Indeed, to the charge that the fossil record is systematically fragmented, the stock reply is that fossilization is so rare that "we are lucky to have any fossils at all." Evolutionary paths, then, can just as easily be theorized as observed. There's no reason I can see why no fossils preceding the emergence of earlier-than expected dinosaur fossils would be any more problematic than no fossils preceding the very earliest fossils on record.

"A particular species may remain relatively unchanged, even as new species diverge and evolve from it."

That's like saying massive objects that do not attract are no problem for gravitational theory. How can a theory be falsifiable in principle if it easily accommodates direct counterexamples?

"Myers is wrong."

And at last we agree! :-)

Thanks again for your contribution here. I think this whole subject is fascinating, but I need to move on to other things. The last word on this exchange is yours if you want it.

"The last word on this exchange is yours if you want it."

…but I will quickly toss in an addendum to my own word, which I meant to include earlier:

"Indeed, to the charge that the fossil record is systematically fragmented, the stock reply is that fossilization is so rare that 'we are lucky to have any fossils at all.' Evolutionary paths, then, can just as easily be theorized as observed. There's no reason I can see why no fossils preceding the emergence of earlier-than expected dinosaur fossils would be any more problematic than no fossils preceding the very earliest fossils on record.'"

To this I would add:

Similarly, if evolution is proposed to have occurred during vast stretches of geological time to which we have zero or nearly zero corresponding extant fossils, a non-evolutionist may just as easily propose that during that same time no evolution occurred at all. For that matter, the same "gaps" in the fossil record that fail to disclose an unbroken evolutionary history may also fail to disclose remains of a huge population of rabbits that lived in what we have identified as the Precambrian eon. That may sound impossible, but only to those who are committed to the truth of currently prevailing theory.

Okay, now I'm done. :-)

JBsptfn,

I recently got involved in a lengthy discussion with a climate science denier. I saw that there was a whole large community of like-minded people, with their own body of literature, their own "facts", and mythos about the shortcomings and the conspiracies of the scientific community. And they had "experts" who were well versed in the science denial literature. Without previously having studied climate science intensively, I found that I wasn't always able to know whether certain statements they make are actually true, but I do know that they said many things that were patently false. I know this because I have a fairly extensive background in science, and I can often recognize pseudo-scientific bullshit, even if it's outside my own fields of expertise. A particular field of science doesn't exist in a vacuum. It meshes and fits with the broader structure of scientific knowledge. What I was able to do is look some things up, find out what the real scientific facts are, and very often, see that these pseudo-scientists are blowing smoke.

What I learned was that for them, the pseudo-science became a religion in its own right. They were fervent believers, and you couldn't sway them with factual information. They would always turn to their own community's literature and resources, and say, "You're wrong. Here's the truth."

I don't know how much scientific knowledge you have, but it doesn't matter that much. If you are interested in learning the truth, there's plenty of information out there. All you have to do is open your mind, and look outside the narrow confines of creationist pseudo-science.

Don McIntosh,

When I first commented here, I thought that there was a simple misunderstanding about what evolution theory actually entails. I thought I could help to clear that up for the benefit of you and your readers. I had no intention of getting engaged in a heated debate with a group of hard-core science deniers. All I can tell you now is that some of the things you say are just plain factually wrong. Your statement, "That's like saying massive objects that do not attract are no problem for gravitational theory. How can a theory be falsifiable in principle if it easily accommodates direct counterexamples?" reveals a real lack of knowledge about evolution science and what it entails. I tried to explain it, and it's up to you to decide whether you want to listen. If you'd rather believe the pseudo-scientists, that's your choice. I suspect you'd rather believe them because what they offer is in line with your religious beliefs. But please don't fool yourself into thinking it's science.

And with that, I'm done too.

I detect an intellectual coward, posting as a skeptic. Nothing in any of my articles is creationist. NOTHING. This "skeptic" found points which he cannot deny, either rationally or using empirical evidence - which neither he nor any evolutionist actually has. His reaction is typical of Ideologists: make unfounded claims in order to hide from actual attacks on the ideology.

Here are the issues which he cannot intellectually survive in a debate:
1. There is zero empirical evidence of macro-evolution.
2. All those "mountains of evidence" are merely speculations based on sets of creatures found in certain geologic layers. There is no actual "evidence" beyond that.
3. The premises which underlie the hypothesis of evolution are indefensible, logically, and therefore are false, leaving evolution intellectually stranded on its own island of falseness.
4. Evolution cannot be used to predict anything. Prediction of fossil finds is paleontology, not evolution.
5. No serious science is ever called "settled"; no serious science requires protection from government and battalions of lawyers.
6. Falsification is impossible, regardless of claims to the contrary. The precambrian dinosaur will cheerfully be "evidence" of new evolutionary findings, to which the hypothesis will immediately be adjusted. Since it predicts nothing, then there is no evidence which falsifies it. (Karl Popper).
7. Evolution is a belief, and ideology which is proclaimed Truth and "you just don't understand the science". But when empirical evidence is demanded, and data from experimental observations of evolution are requested, evolutionists typically dole out Red Herrings or hit the door.

This "skeptic" is like all self-appelled skeptics: they are NOT skeptical of the unprovable ideologies which benefit the Atheist Left. Rather, they defend them with unprovable claims against the persons who challenge them. They are, in general, intellectually anti-logic while claiming logic, and specifically anti-Aristotelian deductive procedures which are the only intellectual path to true statements regarding physical existence.


2/18/2016 06:02:00 AM
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Blogger im-skeptical said...
So in the case at hand, Darwinists happily explain examples of seemingly useless non-adaptive characteristics like junk DNA as evidence of unguided randomness; but they also explain stunning examples of functional complexity (like the mammalian eye or echolocation in bats) as evidence of boundless adaptability.

Perhaps if you had a better understanding of the science, you would see that there is no inconsistency. Evolution theory explains what we observe because it's a theory that works. However it is not true that it explains "any biological evidence we can imagine". Show me the remains of large dinosaurs that date to the Cambrian era, and I guarantee that the whole field of evolutionary science will be turned upside-down. There are any number of imaginable things that, if they were ever observed, would break the theory. The reason the theory is so solid, and so strongly held by people who value evidence, is that we haven't observed any such thing that would cast it into doubt.

IS, have no problem with evolution. I do have a problem with your defense of evolution.

(1) Don's argument need not be construed as creationist or even I

ID in the creationism=dressed-up" sense. If evidence implies an organizing principle in nature, or if evolutionists contradict themselves in explanation that does not mean evolution itself is wrong;

(2) you use circular reasoning. " Evolution theory explains what we observe because it's a theory that works" That sentence begs the question. Obviously it doesn't work all the time since there is an inconsistency, and saying that is odes doesn't answer the issue.

(3) special pleading. your answer as to why it'sno0t an inconsistency is special pleading because it asserts that we can allow an inconsistency because the theory works.

In taking that tact you are doing what Thomas Kuhn said would be done in paradigm shifts, absorbing the anomaly into the paradigm.

IS:>>>What's one little out-of-place dinosaur fossil, after all, in comparison with a "mountain of evidence" for evolution that is totally and completely "overwhelming"?

what I just said. Right now in heaven Kuhn is Telling Darwin "check."

To be sure they are in the lower levels of heaven, the outer most circle, but they are there.

5. No serious science is ever called "settled"; no serious science requires protection from government and battalions of lawyers.

I disagree with that. We are at a phase of cultural decline where we are just about to hit the J curve. We need to protect as much learning as we can.



6. Falsification is impossible, regardless of claims to the contrary. The precambrian dinosaur will cheerfully be "evidence" of new evolutionary findings, to which the hypothesis will immediately be adjusted. Since it predicts nothing, then there is no evidence which falsifies it. (Karl Popper).

I applaud your reading of Popper. I thin it's hilarious because I'm willing to bet none of the army of evangelical atheists solider like Myeres is sufficiently read in Popper to defend his views and evolution at the same time. And I'm equally willing to bet there are people somewhere who can. I haven atheist apologists give up on Popper to prevent being shaken in evolution.


7. Evolution is a belief, and ideology which is proclaimed Truth and "you just don't understand the science". But when empirical evidence is demanded, and data from experimental observations of evolution are requested, evolutionists typically dole out Red Herrings or hit the door.

First science is a belief. there is no pure truth to which humans lay claim to that doesn't involve belief and is not at some point laced with ideology., That is just as true of Christianity which I hold to be truth.("we see through a glass darkly").

I am not sufficiently grounded in science that I can defend what I'm about to say but I think paleontology is the science of evolution so saying that that is not a dense of evolution is just wrong. Even though I can't spit it back I have seen arguments carried off to the effect that evolutionary proof goes all the way down through every aspect of our biological understanding. it's not just fossils.



Joe,
Interesting. Let's discuss.
The comment on lawyers and legal defense is meant within the context in which it occurred: defending a specific science from competitive knowledge by legal means rather than allowing it to stand on its own. But I agree that knowledge of all kinds is in danger in the millennial generation and perhaps subsequent generations, as they are taught what to think, rather than how.

Science is not a belief, it is a discipline which is based on observed regularities as a common denominator amongst physical "things". This leads to "cause and effect" which is accepted as a First Principle, which is in fact a belief, as Hume showed. Yet cause and effect has not been falsified in disciplined empirical trials, and so science based on cause and effect is useful, but not determinative (which is why all science factoids are contingent and not truth). To consider scientific findings to be "Truth" is false; it is Scientism which is a religious-type worship of science.

I have not seen any "evolution theorist" who self-appells as a Paleontologist. Paleontology includes evolutionary story telling, and is well defined here:
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/paleo/paleowhat.html

Modern evolution theorists have veered into meta-theories (also unprovable) such as emergence theories and epigenetics - which does exist but can't be factually related to evolutionary phenomena such as the Cambrian explosion, and most importantly the evolution of first life from minerals which they refuse to discuss.

First life theories (Metabolism first, and RNA World) have been investigated and discarded, leading to the complete absence of even a Just So Story to cover the issue. This is the biggest intellectual failure of evolution: it's claim that it doesn't cover first life, only subsequent life. Crick and others realize the enormity of the first life singularity and its impossible odds, so they go with alien spoors, thereby pushing the issue off of Earth and onto someone else.

"Science is not a belief, it is a discipline which is based on observed regularities as a common denominator amongst physical "things".

True but as I said there is no pure science unsullied by ideological coattail riding. I think replicability and falsification are better hallmarks


This leads to "cause and effect" which is accepted as a First Principle, which is in fact a belief, as Hume showed.

c/e is not all that it used to be, Just got through reading "why are almost all cosmologists atheists" by Sean
Carroll he actually says science no longer accepts c/e. that's so obviously inaccurate. But at quantum level they don't think in those terms many more. Shocking that he would say that. Look for my critique of his paper on Metacrock's blog.




Yet cause and effect has not been falsified in disciplined empirical trials, and so science based on cause and effect is useful, but not determinative (which is why all science factoids are contingent and not truth). To consider scientific findings to be "Truth" is false; it is Scientism which is a religious-type worship of science.


I still believe in C/e I don't how you falsify it.



I have not seen any "evolution theorist" who self-appells as a Paleontologist. Paleontology includes evolutionary story telling, and is well defined here:
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/paleo/paleowhat.html

evolution is the fossil record and that's what Paleontologists do. I have never seen a Paleontologist who says he/she is a creationist.



Modern evolution theorists have veered into meta-theories (also unprovable) such as emergence theories and epigenetics - which does exist but can't be factually related to evolutionary phenomena such as the Cambrian explosion, and most importantly the evolution of first life from minerals which they refuse to discuss.

Modern physicists are trying t0 be metaphysicians. In that article Carroll says science tells us about all of reality. Pinker says that too but to make it works he includes history and philosophy as part of science. I say just expand that principle and include theology and poetry I'll be happy/




First life theories (Metabolism first, and RNA World) have been investigated and discarded, leading to the complete absence of even a Just So Story to cover the issue. This is the biggest intellectual failure of evolution: it's claim that it doesn't cover first life, only subsequent life. Crick and others realize the enormity of the first life singularity and its impossible odds, so they go with alien spoors, thereby pushing the issue off of Earth and onto someone else.

They want to pretend that science and evolutionary theory account for all aspects of reality but there's no reason to think that is evolution. Nor does science account for everything.

In my view the failing of creationism is not just I it's view of science (I know there are scientists who are creationists, rare, but existent) my real beef with it is the literalistic umderstamdimng ovff bible


(2) you use circular reasoning. " Evolution theory explains what we observe because it's a theory that works" That sentence begs the question. Obviously it doesn't work all the time since there is an inconsistency, and saying that is odes doesn't answer the issue.

I missed that particular fallacy, but it’s obvious now that you’ve pointed it out. Thanks.

(3) special pleading. your answer as to why it'sno0t an inconsistency is special pleading because it asserts that we can allow an inconsistency because the theory works.

In taking that tact you are doing what Thomas Kuhn said would be done in paradigm shifts, absorbing the anomaly into the paradigm.


Well stated, Joe. I know you’re not as critical of evolution as I am, so I do appreciate your fair-minded take on all this. My personal view is that what I am calling Darwinism has absorbed more than its fair share of anomalies, and would have been displaced some time ago were it not for all the political and sociological implications of accepting an alternative. For an atheist, it's pretty much evolution or nothing.

Stan:

7. Evolution is a belief, and ideology which is proclaimed Truth and "you just don't understand the science".

Yes, That last part I’ve heard more times than I can count, even as a young student at the University sincerely trying to understand evolution decades ago. And I never heard it when I had questions about any other theory in any other field of study. It struck me then, as now, as a defensive conversation stopper. The way I usually hear it boils down basically to this:

1. Evolution is a fact of science.
2. You suggest there are reasons to think evolution is not a fact of science.
3. You don’t understand evolution.

- or –

3. You don’t understand science.

The argument appears valid, though it doesn’t seem possible to establish premise one without either restricting “evolution” to its more modest “micro” definition (“change in frequency of alleles in a population over time” and the like), or completely begging the question.

Don McIntosh,

You said you were done, and here you are mischaracterizing my arguments. Let's set a few things straight.

1. To say that "evolution theory explains what we observe because it's a theory that works" is not a circular argument. It is more of a tautology. Any theory that works is successful in explaining what we observe. If a theory successfully explains what we observe, then it is a theory that works. Evolution does explain what we observe. This is not a circular argument.

2. "Darwinism has absorbed more than its fair share of anomalies, and would have been displaced some time ago were it not for all the political and sociological implications of accepting an alternative. For an atheist, it's pretty much evolution or nothing."
- The so-called anomalies are creationist fiction. The example you pointed out about things being found in the wrong geographic strata are false or mistaken. If there really were so many instances of significant anomalies, then it would indeed have a significant impact on the scientific theory. In fact, it is creationism (or any of its variants like ID) that are ideologically constrained to ignore anomalous information.

3. The reason people keep telling you you don't understand evolution science is because you don't understand it. If you think that evolution doesn't account for species that persist over a long time period, then you don't understand the theory. If you think that evolution doesn't account for junk DNA, then you don't understand the theory. And if you believe what Stan (a creationist ideologue if there ever was one) tells you, then you don't understand the theory.

You make a straw man of what I said:
1. Evolution is a fact of science.
2. You suggest there are reasons to think evolution is not a fact of science.
3. You don’t understand evolution.


Statement 1 should say something more like "Evolution theory is strongly supported by factual data. It is the best scientific theory available to explain these observations. It is so strongly supported that many people regard it as fact."

Statement 2: You can suggest that there are reasons to think that evolution is not the best theory, but if you can't support the assertion with factual information, you are only blowing hot air. Hint: creationist literature is loaded with half-truths, lies, and unsubstantiated assertions.

Statement 3 does not follow from 1 and 2, and I never suggested that it does. The reason I say you don't understand it is because you make claims about evolution that are factually wrong, and I have explained some of them to you.

4. If you want to see an example of begging the question, look no further than creationism. It starts with an assertion of teleology in nature, which assumes a creator with purposeful intent. Arguments then proceed from that assumption. Talk about begging the question.

Oops, apparently I need to clarify something I said earlier, to Skeptical:

“Thanks again for your contribution here. I think this whole subject is fascinating, but I need to move on to other things. The last word on this exchange is yours if you want it.”

What I meant there is that I didn’t want to continue the exchange with Skeptical in particular. That’s because we were beginning to talk past one another, and typically once that happens the discussion quickly becomes (for me at least) rather pointless. I have no interest, for instance, in defending my understanding of science, my integrity, my honesty, my motives, my intelligence, etc. I welcome anyone to say whatever they like about me, but I won’t be participating in an argument about it.

However, I do intend to continue to address Darwinism, a subject which I still find fascinating.

Oh, I see. You just want to talk about me and misrepresent my arguments, but you don't want me to be able to speak for myself. Figures.

To the skeptic:
”3. The reason people keep telling you you don't understand evolution science is because you don't understand it. If you think that evolution doesn't account for species that persist over a long time period, then you don't understand the theory. If you think that evolution doesn't account for junk DNA, then you don't understand the theory. And if you believe what Stan (a creationist ideologue if there ever was one) tells you, then you don't understand the theory.”

This is absolute trash talk and totally without any merit or intellectual meat. It is the product of rhetoric which is completely outside the realm of either dialectical logic or empirical science. And it is false, to boot. It has already been claimed above that evolution accounts for anything and everything and therefore, it cannot predict anything because random mutation and/or epigenetic failures produce random results. So randomness is the “scientific” explanation for not having an hypothesis with a predictable cause and effect which is deducible using empirical techniques. Here’s the perfect example: evolution accounts for Junk DNA, but according to researchers there is no junk DNA, only portions which are not yet understood as more and more of the “junk” is attributed to actual functions which are not production of amino acids.

Further, it is a childish Ad Hominem attack attempt to discredit without actually addressing the embedded issues within evolutions by calling names over your shoulder.

The theory is quite plainly addressed in the Modern Synthesis; its expansions have been clearly outlined in the Extended Synthesis theories and the writings of Pigliucci, Muller, Jablonski, Kirschner, Wagner, Pinker, Kauffman, Dobzhansky, Mayr, Haldane, Fisher, Wright, etc. Here’s Futuyama:

"The major tenets of the evolutionary synthesis, then, were that populations contain genetic variation that arises by random (ie. not adaptively directed) mutation and recombination; that populations evolve by changes in gene frequency brought about by random genetic drift, gene flow, and especially natural selection; that most adaptive genetic variants have individually slight phenotypic effects so that phenotypic changes are gradual (although some alleles with discrete effects may be advantageous, as in certain color polymorphisms); that diversification comes about by speciation, which normally entails the gradual evolution of reproductive isolation among populations; and that these processes, continued for sufficiently long, give rise to changes of such great magnitude as to warrant the designation of higher taxonomic levels (genera, families, and so forth)."
- Futuyma, D.J. in Evolutionary Biology, Sinauer Associates, 1986; p.12”


Now then, take this meta-Darwinist definition and list of “causes” and produce one (1) empirical validation for any one (1) of these causes.

You cannot do that. Therefore, the belief that this definition (or any similar definition) is scientific FACT is FALSE. There is no actual knowledge involved in this definition. It is all 100% speculation, without a single verification ever made or even possible.

Don’t scream “Creationism” over shoulder as you dodge these actual facts regarding the unverified, unvalidated BELIEF SYSTEM which is evolution.

Next, when you’re done with that, prove conclusively using empirical validation that naturalism is True. That is important because that is a necessary premise of Philosophical Materialism, and Philosophical Materialism is a necessary but insufficient premise for material evolution. You won’t be able to provide any science on this, because both of these necessary premises are false.

Your arrogance is a perfect metric for the degree of your Scientistic ignorance of the faults and failures which underlie the non-empirical “science” which you claim no one but you understands.

Now to your numbered statements:
1. Evolution is definitely NOT supported by any factual data. Evolution is Compatible with much factual data, because it is a random-outcome generator. Compatibility is not support; correlation is not causation. To declare otherwise is anti-scientific.

2. Forget your hatred of creationism: it is not the subject. Your statement unconsciously belies the true position of evolution:

” You can suggest that there are reasons to think that evolution is […] the best theory, but if you can't support the assertion with factual information, you are only blowing hot air. Hint: Evolutionary literature is loaded with half-truths, lies, and unsubstantiated assertions.”

This is, in fact, the fundamental reason for the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (Altenberg 16). The Modern Synthesis (mutation and selection) is insufficient to be the process of evolution.

3. Just more arrogance.

4. If you want to see an example of begging the question, look no further than creationism. It starts with an assertion of teleology in nature, which assumes a creator with purposeful intent. Arguments then proceed from that assumption. Talk about begging the question.

Continuing RED HERRING. Deviating the conversation in order to avoid addressing the failures of evolutionary theory to be empirically viable, with solid premises which are not self-referential. You cannot discuss this, you will fail.

And you fail rhetorically also, because you provide every reason to counter attack your arrogance with the fact of your avoidance by Red HERRINGS consisting of denigrations, insults, and bullshit, rather than to produce any experimental data which confirms deductive predictions based on inductive observations, i.e., ACTUAL empirical science. Because there is none. NONE. Or you would produce it. Especially since you consider yourself to be the intellectual science-savvy elite with all the answers.

So do it. Produce actual data which experimentally verifies and validates evolution, has been replicated and non-falsified, with open data and processes, peer reviewed and published in reputable journals.

Do it. Do it NOW or admit that you cannot.

Don,
I apologize for taking this guy to task so harshly. But these people who are armed with primary school evolutionary theory and show up to pretend to be science gurus abound, and they have no actual knowledge to impart. They are maximally arrogant - a common feature of adherents to Scientism - and when they are cornered (easily done) they scream epithets and Ad Hominems to cover up their own lack of actual scientific knowledge.

I'm sure you know this, and that he does not: Science was intended to produce reliable knowledge of physical existence which is first found inductively by observation, capable of a cause and effect hypothesis in order to be demonstrable experimentally, experimentally reproduced, replicated successfully without falsification, peer reviewed and published with open data.

All the data surrounding evolution is for modern biology or for bones found in geologic layers. There is no observation of macro-evolution as an actual process, much less with a cause and effect prediction, and much less still with replication without falsification. So anyone who boasts about science says this/that must be compelled to produce actual empirical, experimental, replicable data, or admit that it does not exist. And it does not. So evolution is NOT a science; it is a belief in unprovable correlation speculations and wild hypotheses with no data, and that belief is held tightly and religiously, without any empirical proof whatsoever.

So evolution is NOT a science; it is a belief in unprovable correlation speculations and wild hypotheses with no data, and that belief is held tightly and religiously, without any empirical proof whatsoever.

Wow. Sorry to disturb your little fantasy world, Stan, but your creationism is pseudo-science that lacks evidence or empirical validation, and is completely unfalsifiable. You can toss around your ad hominems. You can rant about cause and effect. But nobody outside your little fantasy world accepts what you're peddling. You're a good little creationist robot, echoing all their literature for them. You're impervious to real scientific knowledge. It's pointless to argue with you.

For anyone else who might be interested in learning about evidence for macro-evolution, I found a decent primer on it:
Evidence for Macroevolution/. It's a lot to read, but that's because there's a wealth of evidence, despite what people like Stan want you to believe.

"All the data surrounding evolution is for modern biology or for bones found in geologic layers. There is no observation of macro-evolution as an actual process."

how could there be an actual observation of a process that takes millions of years by beings who only live 70 or years and whose writing skills only go back about 3000 years?

Joe,
That is exactly the point. Evolution is an unobservable and unprovable hypothesis which is given credence by attaching countless stories to it. All and every story is science fiction in the sense that none of the stories can be proven, due to the nature of the proposed mechanism.

Further the Cambrian explosion falsifies the "deep time as an agent" component of Darwin's original descent with modification over time. The Cambrian explosion also falsifies the concept of a common ancestor for all phyla: none can be found and no single cell contains all the components required to form all phyla. And this is illuminated by the geologically fast arrival of all phyla, simultaneously.

I will give you one thing, you are light years over ICR.

"That is exactly the point. Evolution is an unobservable and unprovable hypothesis which is given credence by attaching countless stories to it."

Hey you yourself quoted Popper, you should listen to him. He would say science is not about proof. It's about nullifying. In place of proof we get verisimilitude. The argument that we can't observe does not disprove it. It's unprovable but nothing is provable.

It wont bother me if God came down and said "evolution is false." Because either say God is the origin of all things.

Don,
I apologize for taking this guy to task so harshly.


No worries Stan. Anyone who dishes it out eventually must learn to take it.

I'm sure you know this, and that he does not: Science was intended to produce reliable knowledge of physical existence which is first found inductively by observation, capable of a cause and effect hypothesis in order to be demonstrable experimentally, experimentally reproduced, replicated successfully without falsification, peer reviewed and published with open data.

Yes. I would add, and I'm guessing you would agree, that scientific confirmations are provisional, not final, and at any time subject and revision or replacement in keeping with the accumulation of evidence and experimental results. Yet I've been told (not by anyone on this blog, lest I be accused of building a straw man) that criticism of evolution is a waste of time because evo is a "fact of science," that the issue was "settled long ago," that "there is no controversy," etc.

There are even institutions (like the NCSE) dedicated to promoting teaching of evolution in schools. This again seems inconsistent with the ideal of falsifiability-in-principle. Why build, staff and fund an entire institution around a theory that may turn out to be false?

All the data surrounding evolution is for modern biology or for bones found in geologic layers. There is no observation of macro-evolution as an actual process, much less with a cause and effect prediction, and much less still with replication without falsification. So anyone who boasts about science says this/that must be compelled to produce actual empirical, experimental, replicable data, or admit that it does not exist. And it does not.

That's pretty much my reading also.

Now I've heard some people (not anyone on this blog, lest I be accused of building a straw man) argue that macroevolution is simply accumulated or extrapolated macroevolution. The problem with that is systems whose function depends on their complexity. There is no reason to think that lots of separate selectively advantageous micro-adaptations of individual parts or components within a complex biological system – say an eye or a flagellum – would somehow "add up" to selectively advantageous macro-adaptation of the whole system. To say that any number of individually evolved components equals an evolved system, even a system with novel emerging function (like vision), is to commit the fallacy of composition.

Dear skeptic,
As predicted you have not and cannot produce a single, empirical, validated, non-falsified, peer-reviewed, published with open data in a reputable journal which represents the claimed contingent factoid that evolution even exists.

Your method of evangelism is entirely superficial and without any useful content. You are obviously a true believer, unable to even examine any rational content which does, in fact, falsify the activity which is called "evolutionary science".

So without EITHER real proof other than links to inferential opinion, OR any ability to even review actual falsification, you are reduced to the hostile blathering you have produced above.

When you cannot disprove the attacks on your precious Scientistic worldview you resort to name-calling trying to discredit not with fact, but with false charges against the person wielding the actual facts regarding - NOT Creationism - But the facts regarding evolutionary stories. This merely decorates the lack of substance in both evolution and yourself. You claim "real scientific knowledge" but you cannot and do not produce it... because it does not exist. What exists is science fiction, Just So Stories, and people like yourself who use the tactics you use to claim Truth for an unproven and unprovable, empirical evidence-free, bed-time story book for Philosophical Materialists, Determinists, and Atheists (which constitute even more unproven and unprovable worldview stories, used to free the minds of true believers from logic in order for acceptance of dogma rather than replicable material evidence which is actually falsifiable).

So without EITHER real proof other than links to inferential opinion, OR any ability to even review actual falsification, you are reduced to the hostile blathering you have produced above.

How perfectly you describe yourself. What a fraud.

evolution is just the way life progresses. It could be a method of creation as easily as it could be a random accident. It's not a tie breaker.

Skeptic:
Your childishness does not conceal your inability to produce any actual science, contrary to your claims. You can be childish as long as you wish. I will continue to hector you about your total failure to produce. Readers will, of course, be able to recognize your inabilities. So keep it up, you're becoming a poster boy for Scientism and its fallacies.

Further discussion here. Your comments are welcome.

I prefer to discuss your empirical evidence here, on this blog. So, present it. To help you decide which of your evidence is empirical in nature, here is the definition:

"Full Definition of empirical

1 : originating in or based on observation or experience

2 : relying on experience or observation alone often without due regard for system and theory

3 : capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment

4 : of or relating to empiricism

em·pir·i·cal·ly play \-i-k(ə-)lē\ adverb "

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empirical

This is exactly the type of evidence which Atheists demand for proof of the existence of a deity. In order to support their own unprovable ideology, "there is no deity", they assert the demand for empirical evidence, as the golden standard for knowledge. This is the process of materialist science: to be observable, or reproducible and falsifiable experimentally to their satisfaction.

But when it comes to evolution, they change the rules to the opposite end of the spectrum. For evolution, there is no need for observation of evolution as it occurs, and there is no need for any ability to produce demonstrable experimental evidence which is falsifiable.

Why should that be the case? It is because evolution is a non-empirical belief system which supports Atheism. (necessary but certainly not sufficient)

But the only reason that it supports Atheism is that it asserts Atheism as a fundamental premise: only material hypotheses are allowed for evolution, no matter how wildly improbable they are. So the logic failure of circularity is entrenched:

Evolution is defined to be material-only (Atheist);
Therefore its unprovable hypothetical conjectures support Atheism.


However, there are no empirical scientific laws which can be used to predict the emergence of life from minerals (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, chlorine, etc.). So there is no possible empirical hypothesis which can predict life in a non-living universe.

Further, the Copenhagen understanding of the principles of Quantum Theory have led some quantum scientists to conclude that material existence is wholly dependent upon pre-existing consciousness:

“Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”
Erwin Schrödinger

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
Max Planck

“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
Max Planck"


Clearly under quantum theory, the materialist restriction such as applied by evolution is false. Further, the existence of non-material consciousness (and agency, intellect, free will) are not just diametrically oppositional to deterministic materialism; the existence of consciousness et. al. is direct empirical falsification of evolution and its deterministic, materialistic basis.

To know these things and yet to claim that evolution is valid knowledge is irrational. It is an ideology based on false premises regarding the character of reality as is understood in empirical science using today's standards. It is an ideology which persists in spite of the logical and scientific failures of its principles.

I don't think "skeptic" is coming back. He's over at my blog calling me names. But I'll continue to watch here for awhile.

Skeptic's tu quoque response is duly noted as well as his failure to respond to Stan's arguments both logically and empirically. These pseudo-skeptics claim to be logic and evidence-based but consistently fail to live up to their own standards.

Stan does not make arguments. He makes assertions (at least on the pages where I commented - if I'm mistaken about that, please point out the logical argument that I missed). And that's what I told him. I also noted that his responses employ the very same tactics that he accuses atheists of using. One more thing: I never addressed him or referred to him by any name other than Stan.

Skeptic:
Here's an argument:
1. IF [you have no evidence to support your claims], THEN [you don't know what you're talking about];

2. You have no evidence to support your claims;

3. Therefore, you don't know what you are talking about.

This has been proven empirically: you have been challenged to provide basic science: empirical evidence for evolution; you have not done so. Why? because there is NO basic scientific empirical evidence for evolution.

The same goes for Atheism: You have NO empirical evidence support of Atheism; further you have only false premises for any logical argument which you might produce: Deterministic Philosophical Materialism (unprovable by empirical science and internally non-coherent by logical deductions using Aristotelian logical procedures)

I'll repeat: you don't know what you're talking about, but that doesn't stop you. Despite your complete de facto ignorance of any actual, real, demonstrable evolution which is not merely inferential opinion, you blast around acting as if you are an expert who will "educate" people, presumably to bring them into line with your personal ignorance. It is apparent that you "learned" 6th grade science overviews and that made you an expert. That would make you a Scientistic troll who doesn't know what he's talking about.

So. Now you have an argument or two. What will you do with them?

Stan,

Don't put words in my mouth. I make my own arguments. You make a straw man. Your arrogance and hostile attitude prevents you from looking objectively at evidence, and from objectively evaluating an argument.

And don't tell me about ignorance of science. Your science denialism and your rejection of overwhelming evidence proves just how pig-ignorant you are. You are the one who acts like some kind of expert, but you don't have a leg to stand on.

Your theistic worldview is incoherent, not mine. I have looked at your site and seen that your positions are based on serious logical flaws. Read about it here.


I have responded to your article HERE.

Im Skeptical, here is a response to the Talk Origins article you posted on the 29 evidences for Macroevolution:

True Origins: Rebuttal to 29 Evidences for Macrovolution

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