Thursday, February 27, 2014

Richard Dawkins: How Could Anyone “Possibly Doubt the Fact of Evolution”

The Single Most Convincing Fact

Evolutionists like to say that there are mountains of evidence for evolution, but what is the best evidence? What would make a creationist think twice? Twenty five seconds into this video evolutionist Richard Dawkins answers this question. His killer evidence is the congruence between the genes of different plants and animals. Compare the genes across a range of species and you’ll see a “perfect hierarchy, a perfect family tree.” In fact, you’ll see the same result for evolutionary trees using just single genes—the so-called gene trees. It works “with every gene you do separately.”

[0.25] I think perhaps the single most convincing fact—observation—you could point to would be the pattern of resemblances that you see when you compare the genes, using modern DNA techniques, such as looking at the letter-to-letter correspondences between the genes—compare the genes of any pair of animals you like—a pair of animals or a pair of plants—and then plot out the resemblances and they fall in a perfect hierarchy, a perfect family tree. … [1.05] Moreover the same thing works with every gene you do separately and even pseudogenes that don’t do anything but are vestigial relics of genes that once did something. I find it extremely hard to imagine how any creationist that actually bothered to listen to that, could possibly doubt the fact of evolution.

Dawkins went on to have some rather harsh words for creationists. The message was clear. The evidence for evolution falls perfectly into place. It makes evolution a fact that is beyond any reasonable doubt. And anyone who doubts this is a bad person.

This sentiment is by no means particular to Dawkins. I have heard this same claim, and others like it, dozens of times. Sometimes informally in lectures, discussions, debates and so forth. Other times in textbooks or other literature.

What is amazing is the evolutionist’s high confidence and self-assuredness in such a blatant misrepresentation of science. It would be difficult to imagine a bigger falsehood. Phylogenetic incongruence is rampant in evolutionary studies. Conflicts exist at all levels of the evolutionary tree and throughout both morphological and molecular traits. This paper reports on incongruent gene trees in bats. That is one example of many. These incongruences are caused by just about every kind of contradiction possible. Molecular sequences in one or a few species may be out of place amongst similar species. Or sequences in distant species may be strangely similar. As one paper admitted, there is “no known mechanism or function that would account for this level of conservation at the observed evolutionary distances.” Or as another evolutionist admitted, the many examples of nearly identical molecular sequences of totally unrelated animals are “astonishing.”

An even more severe problem is that in many cases no comparison is even possible. The molecular sequence is found in one species but not its neighbors. When this problem first became apparent evolutionists thought it would be resolved as the genomes of more species were decoded. No such luck—the problem just became worse. Not surprisingly evolutionists carefully prefilter their data. As one paper explained, “data are routinely filtered in order to satisfy stringent criteria so as to eliminate the possibility of incongruence.”

Short genes that produce what are known as microRNA also contradict Dawkins’ high claim. In fact one evolutionist, who has studied thousands of microRNA genes, explained that he has not found “a single example that would support the traditional tree.” It is, another evolutionist admitted, “a very serious incongruence.”

Another paper admits that “the more molecular data is analysed, the more difficult it is to interpret straightforwardly the evolutionary histories of those molecules.”

And yet in public presentations of their theory, evolutionists present a very different story. As Dawkins explained, gene comparisons “fall in a perfect hierarchy, a perfect family tree.” This statement is so false it isn’t even wrong—it is absurd. And then Dawkins chastises anyone who “could possibly doubt the fact of evolution.” Unfortunately this sentiment is typical. Evolutionists have no credibility.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Shocking Scientific Literacy Poll

Or How to Measure the Height of a Skyscraper

Last week the National Science Foundation released its Science and Engineering Indicators report which includes the results of a scientific literacy poll which reveals levels of scientific ignorance that are being called shocking. The poll, which the NSF calls “high-quality,” is a “major source of data” for the NSF report. One question about heliocentrism and geocentrism (“Does the Earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the Earth?”) is drawing attention from journalists and commentators because one in four American got it wrong. But amidst all the hand wringing and calls for more funding there is one minor issue: the scientific literacy poll is itself scientifically illiterate.

It is said that he who defines the terms wins the debate. Nowhere is that more true with evolution and this scientific literacy poll is a good example. As the NSF puts it, the poll asks “factual knowledge questions.” And just what is a factual knowledge question? What are the truths that Americans ought to know?

One of them is that lasers do not work by focusing sound waves, but rather light waves. It seems that half of Americans don’t know this. Perhaps this is because lasers not only are quite complicated, but they come in a tremendous variety of types. In fact there are lasers that, yes, focus sound waves.

Another “truth” that we are supposed to know is that it is the father's gene that decides whether the baby is a boy or girl. The only problem is this isn’t true. Sex determination varies between species and, like most of biology, defies rules.

Another question asks about continental drift: “The continents have been moving their location for millions of years and will continue to move.” We are supposed to say this is true, but science doesn’t know the future.

Of course there is the mandatory evolution question. We must agree that “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.” But that is a religiously-driven claim that goes against science.

And what about the heliocentrism versus geocentrism question? It is a non scientific false dichotomy. The Earth does not “go around the sun,” any more than does the “sun go around the Earth.”

That is because neither statement makes sense. In order to make a meaningful statement about what goes around what, one first needs to specify a frame of reference. For an observer on the sun, the Earth circles the sun. And for an observer on Earth, the sun circles the Earth. That is “factual knowledge.” When the weatherman gives the sunrise time he is not guilty of scientific illiteracy. What Copernicus, Galileo and Newton showed is that the Earth circles the sun once a year in a sun-fixed inertial frame and that the sun does not circle the Earth once a day in an Earth-fixed inertial frame.

With evolution science has become a vehicle used to advocate beliefs. In the process science is diluted and mediocrity is rewarded. All of this reminds us of simple-minded exam question about how to measure the height of a skyscraper with a barometer. The “correct” answer has to do with using the barometer to compare the air pressure at the street level and on the roof of the skyscraper, and using those measurements to compute the vertical distance between the two points.

But the young physics student who was far more creative than the dull professor wrote that one could tie a string to the instrument and lower it from the roof until it touched the sidewalk below. Then measure the string.

Or better yet, one could drop the instrument from the roof and measure the seconds to impact. Square the value, divide by two, and multiply by 32.174 to get the height in feet.

Or if one wanted to avoid the liability of striking pedestrians below, one could approach the janitor of the building, explaining to him that you will give him this very nice, expensive instrument if he will tell you the height of the skyscraper.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A New Documentary: The War on Humans

It Starts With Ideas

As we have discussed many times, evolution is the most influential scientific theory in areas outside of science, for evolution carries a message that goes far beyond biology. And what is that message? As Peter Singer succinctly put it, “Darwin’s theory undermined the foundations of that entire Western way of thinking about the place of our species in the universe.” That may sound abstract, but its implications couldn’t be more real. This underlying metaphysic of evolution permeates our culture and, from abortion clinics to war machines, is now baked into our thinking. It transcends the political spectrum with both the right and the left finding ways to replace those “certain unalienable Rights” with their own ideas of how a species that evolved by chance should be treated. At the extreme there is, as this documentary explains, “The War on Humans.”

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Evolution Professor Praises Andrew Dickson White’s Whig History


The winners, as they say, get to write the history, and nowhere is this more obvious than with evolution. Evolution has long since won the battle of who gets to tell our creation story, and so evolution also gets to tell the history of that battle. And tell it they do. The problem is that, as with the science, evolutionists misrepresent the history as well.

Two classic examples are (i) Andrew Dickson White’s nineteenth century mythical tome, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom and (ii) Jerome Lawrence’s and Robert Lee’s cartoon rendition of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, Inherit the Wind. The latter is slightly complicated by the fact that Lawrence and Lee made no attempt to represent accurately the events in Dayton, Tennessee in the summer of 1925, but rather liberally adapted the story to fit their purpose of criticizing McCarthyism and its witch hunts. But that only makes matters worse for evolutionists, for they have no excuse for coopting the screenplay as an important and insightful historical reference point in the twentieth century origins debate. Indeed, if you compare the history with the script, you can see Lawrence and Lee altered the former in order to sanitize and exalt the evolutionists while slandering their opponents.

Likewise evolutionists have no excuse for adopting White’s contrived Warfare Thesis based on his silly misrepresentations of the history of thought.

The fact that evolutionists do enlist both Inherit the Wind and White’s Warfare Thesis is just another sign of the anti intellectualism at the heart of evolution. Notable examples in recent years include Judge John Jones of Dover fame hilariously revealing that he actually wanted to see Inherit the Wind a second time in preparation for the Dover case because, after all, the film puts the origins debate into its proper “historical context” (Jones later unbelievably explained that “I understood the general theme. I’d seen Inherit the Wind”), and legal expert Andrew Cohen not only giving high praise to Inherit the Wind, but absurdly calling it “one of the great trial movies of all time.”

Now arch evolutionist Jerry Coyne joins in with his laughable approbation of White’s Warfare Thesis, revealing that he is reading through White’s “famous 840-page anti-accommodationist book.”


If White’s book is famous for anything it is for the immediate debunking of its mythical content. No historian takes it seriously. Or perhaps it is famous for serving as a keystone of evolution’s false history.

Evolutionists are making public spectacles of themselves with their blatant misrepresentations of both science and history. They insist it is a fact that the biological world arose spontaneously and they insist that skepticism of their “fact” comes from parochial, anti-intellectualism. This is like a bad dream.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Pale Blue Dot

And a Bright Evening Star

On Christmas Eve, 1968, Jim Anders snapped one of the most profound photographs in history. Anders was one of three men aboard Apollo 8, the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon, and as they circled the Moon they suddenly noticed an incredible sight—the Earth was rising off the Moon’s horizon. The photograph became known as “Earthrise” and its incredible perspective of our beautiful planet sparked the rise of the environmental movement. It is in Life magazine’s list of “100 Photographs that Changed the World.”

Four years later the last manned mission to the Moon took another famous photograph of Earth, shortly after departing Earth orbit for the Moon. It may be the most widely distributed image in human history and is called “The Blue Marble” because from the perspective of the crew, the Earth was about the size of a marble.

In 1990 Voyager 1, a small NASA spacecraft, had finished its tour of the solar system and took a picture of Earth as it headed for interstellar space. Voyager 1 was the first spacecraft to leave the solar system and today is the farthest man-made object from Earth. For almost ten years leading up to the 1990 photograph, astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan had promoted the idea of Voyager 1 taking a picture of Earth as the spacecraft made its way out of the solar system. But concerns about instrument damage from the Sun’s glare delayed the photograph, and shrinking budgets and staff put it at risk altogether. Finally the NASA Administrator intervened to have the photograph taken. The photo is called “The Pale Blue Dot” for at a distance of almost 4 billion miles Earth appears as a tiny blue dot (see blue pixel right of center in the brown band). That name also served as the title of Sagan’s 1994 book about the future of space travel and much more. Sagan was a proponent of what historians call the Copernican Principle—the idea that Earth, and more generally the human race, are not special or privileged, but rather are merely a statistical result of chance evolutionary events—which was an important theme in Sagan’s book. Like the ancient Epicureans, Sagan used the inconceivable vastness of the universe, as implied by The Pale Blue Dot photograph, to advance the Copernican Principle theme (though its sixteenth century namesake astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, would not have agreed) and its underlying evolutionary ideas:

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

And if the reader did not properly infer the religious implications, Sagan made them clear:

Ann Druyan suggests an experiment: Look back again at the pale blue dot of the preceding chapter. Take a good long look at it. Stare at the dot for any length of time and then try to convince yourself that God created the whole Universe for one of the 10 million or so species of life that inhabit that speck of dust. Now take it a step further: Imagine that everything was made just for a single shade of that species, or gender, or ethnic or religious subdivision. If this doesn’t strike you as unlikely, pick another dot. Imagine it to be inhabited by a different form of intelligent life. They, too, cherish the notion of a God who has created everything for their benefit. How seriously do you take their claim?

Clearly photographs can convey, or be used to convey, ideas that go far beyond the photograph itself. That is why it just may be important that this week another profound photograph was taken of Earth.

The NASA rover Curiosity has been exploring the surface of the planet Mars. It has discovered many interesting things, but in the twilight hours after sundown on January 31, the robotic explorer turned a camera upwards to the sky, and toward home. With the Martian hills on the horizon, Curiosity photographed a bright “Evening Star” in the Martian sky called Earth. What will this photograph inspire?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Evolutionist: “This Picture Has Creationists Terrified”

Chromosomal Comparisons and a Fusion Event

Popular evidences for evolution are the DNA comparisons between species and how they align with the expected common descent pattern. Species that are thought to be more closely related on the evolutionary tree have been found to have more similar DNA, and species that are thought to be more distant on the evolutionary tree have been found to have greater differences in their DNA. The DNA comparisons, evolutionists argue, confirm the expected pattern. Indeed, evolutionists often presented such evidence with great confidence. As Christian de Duve once triumphantly declared: “All [organisms] are descendants of a single ancestral form of life. This fact is now established thanks to the comparative sequencing of proteins and nucleic acids.” But while evolutionists were quick to celebrate these comparisons that confirmed their expectations, contradictory findings slowly but surely arose. Increasingly genome similarities in otherwise distant species, and genome differences in otherwise similar species were discovered. And while evolutionists sometimes tried to explain these uncooperative findings, the evolutionary histories they needed to construct became increasingly complex and circuitous. Today these uncooperative findings have become undeniable and in response evolutionists have all but dropped the common descent prediction, replacing it with a lineage-specific model where evolution is constantly creating new genome features, even between nearest neighbors on the evolutionary tree. What evolutionists have not reckoned with is the implications of this move. If evolution can produce a lineage-specific pattern as well as a common descent pattern, then the comparisons lose their confirmation power. If evolution explains either A or B, then the observation of A, or of B, cannot support evolution very well. Nonetheless evolutionists continue to proclaim those comparisons that align with common descent as powerful and compelling proof texts for evolution. One such comparison is between the chromosomes of humans, chimpanzees and gorillas.

Chimpanzees and gorillas have 24 pairs of chromosomes but humans have only 23 pairs. Did humans lose a set of chromosomes after splitting off from the human-chimp common ancestor? Perhaps, but when scientists looked more closely they found evidence for the fusion of two of the human chromosome pairs. In other words, after splitting off from the human-chimp common ancestor, the branch leading to humans initially had 24 chromosome pairs but at some point two of the pairs fused together to form a larger, single chromosome. Evolution dodged a potential problem.

Evolution also was able to make the argument that before that fusion event, the 24 chromosome pairs in the lineage leading to humans would have been all the more similar to the chimpanzee’s 24 chromosomes. In other words, with the hypothesized fusion event, the evidence fit the common descent pattern pretty well.

But as we have seen above, comparisons that fit the common descent pattern have lost their evidential status because there are so many contradictory findings. Furthermore, any evidence that confirms a prediction is, well, just that. An observed confirmation, of a prediction of a theory, has very limited power to prove anything in science. In fact, to think otherwise, as evolutionists such as de Duve have, is the fallacy of affirming the consequent. If P then Q does not imply that if Q the P.

So readers may have been flummoxed by Chris Mooney’s piece this week touting the human, chimp and gorilla chromosome comparisons as a “particularly stunning evidence of evolution,” and a “compelling piece of evidence” that serves “to clinch the argument for evolution.” Indeed, Mooney characterized these comparisons as “the most powerful evidence for evolution that you can imagine.”

Evolution dodged a problem and the result was a similarity between humans, chimps and gorillas. That’s hardly a clincher for evolution.

But evolutionists are not simply committing the fallacy of affirming the consequent. And they are well aware that there are many other similarities between the primates. They are also quite knowledgeable of all those differences between the species that don’t fit the common descent pattern.

So why the high confidence? The answer, as usual, is religion. This chromosomal comparison does not prove evolution in any sort of direct sense. Rather, it disproves creationism. These data do not somehow demonstrate that humans, or any other species for that matter, must have arisen from chance mutations. Indeed, the evolutionary narrative that Mooney and the evolutionists set forth to explain the comparison is a chromosomal fusion event.

So what?

The chromosomal fusion event doesn’t even require any species to be created—it occurs in the human genome, period. Evolution has nothing to do with it.

But evolutionists triumphantly declare this evidence to prove evolution because it disproves creationism. Mooney’s headline says it all: “This Picture Has Creationists Terrified.” For evolutionists it’s all about their metaphysics.

As evolutionist Barry Starr explains:

An alternative explanation is that the designers fused the two chromosomes together when they created humans. ...

The difficulty with this idea is that there is no obvious advantage to having 46 chromosomes instead of 48. ...

And even if there were, a designer who can easily put in the 60 million or so differences between humans and chimpanzees should be able to accomplish whatever results a chromosome fusion gives more elegantly than sticking two ape chromosomes together.

The power of the argument is not that evolution is confirmed, but rather than design is falsified. As Denis Alexander elaborates in his book Creation or Evolution, the fused chromosome “reveals our shared ancestry with the apes.” [211] Of course the chromosome reveals no such thing. It provides no more evidence for evolution than any other similarity. Starr, Alexander and the evolutionists may as well be discussing similarities we share with the apes in our bones or our biochemistry. But the evolutionists focus on cases such as the fused chromosome because these cases provide far more powerful religious evidence. As Alexander explains:

The suggestion that God has planted misleading ‘molecular fossils’ in our bodies is parallel to the suggestion that God planted misleading physical fossils in the rocks to test the faith of the believer. The obvious and profound theological problem with such a suggestion, as we considered in Chapter Six, is that it makes God into a deceiver on a grand scale. It would mean believing in a God who deliberately confuses people, making it look certain that we had shared common ancestry with the apes, when really this was not the case. [213]

And likewise Ken Miller makes this same argument about the very evidence he presented in the Dover court:

So all we have to do is to look at our own genome, look at our own DNA, and see, do we have a chromosome that fits these features?

We do. It's human chromosome number 2, and the evidence is unmistakable. We have two centromeres, we have telomere DNA near the center, and the genes even line up corresponding to primate chromosome numbers 12 and 13.

Is there any way that intelligent design or special creation could explain why we have a chromosome like this? The only way that I can think of is if you're willing to say that the intelligent designer rigged chromosome number 2 to fool us into thinking that we had evolved. The closer we look at our own DNA, the more detailed a glimpse we get of our own genome, the more powerful the evidence becomes for our common ancestry with other species.

In his testimony, Miller told the Dover court that:

the closer that we can get to looking at the details of the human genome, the more powerful the evidence has become.

And when out of court, he makes the same statement:

The closer we look at our own DNA, the more detailed a glimpse we get of our own genome, the more powerful the evidence becomes for our common ancestry with other species.

The difference is he carefully omits the religion when in court. Nor did Miller reveal to the court that evolution is in no way required to explain the chromosome fusion evidence and that, beyond speculation, evolution has no explanation for how chromosomes evolved in the first place.

And so while creationists say evolution is atheism in disguise, and evolutionists say evolution is nothing more than just science, the fact is it is neither. Evolutionist’s conclusions that evolution must be true because a creator or designer would never have made this world can be true only if a creator or designer really would never have made this world. Evolutionists are convinced these premises of theirs are true, but those premises do not come from science.

Evolution is far more powerful than is often understood. For evolution is not atheism, it is theism.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

This Journalist Uses Critical Thinking

Evolution Can Even Explain How the Human Eye Evolved

Benjamin Radford writes for the Discovery News and is interested in why people believe things for which there is little or no evidence. He applies critical thinking and scientific methodologies to unusual claims. One of those things that interests Radford is skepticism of evolution. After all, as Radford notes, there is “overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution,” and it is “confirmed by nearly every scientific discipline.” Evolution is all around us, all the time. Evolution is why we need to get a new flu shot every year and, notes Radford, evolution can even explain how the human eye evolved. It is strange that such claims come from a critical thinker such as Radford because, in fact, they are all false.

Consider the evolution of the human eye. Charles Darwin considered the eye to be an “organ of extreme perfection.” Even after writing Origins he confessed it gave him a cold shudder. He needed to focus on his theory’s fine gradations to give himself comfort. But one hundred and thirty four years later, in 1994, evolutionists claimed they had solved the problem. The evolution of the eye was finally understood. It turned out such evolution was no big deal after all. In fact the eye could rather easily evolve.

The only catch to the conclusion was that it was circular. The evolutionists, who believe evolution is a fact, first assumed the evolution of the eye in order to solve the problem of the evolution of the eye.

With evolution taken as a given, whether or not vision systems evolved was no longer in question—they did. The only question was how they have evolved. The 1994 paper explained that although Darwin “anticipated that the eye would become a favorite target for criticism,” the problem “has now almost become a historical curiosity” and “the question is now one of process rate rather than one of principle.” The evolutionists estimated this rate by first assuming that the eye indeed evolved. They wrote:

The evolution of complex structures, however, involves modifications of a large number of separate quantitative characters, and in addition there may be discrete innovations and an unknown number of hidden but necessary phenotypic changes. These complications seem effectively to prevent evolution rate estimates for entire organs and other complex structures. An eye is unique in this respect because the structures necessary for image formation, although there may be several, are all typically quantitative in their nature, and can be treated as local modifications of pre-existing tissues. Taking a patch of pigmented light-sensitive epithelium as the starting point, we avoid the more inaccessible problem of photoreceptor cell evolution. Thus, if the objective is limited to finding the number of generations required for the evolution of an eye’s optical geometry, then the problem becomes solvable.

The problem becomes solvable? The evolutionists skipped the entire evolution of cellular signal transduction and the vision cascade. That would be like saying you have showed how motorcycles evolved although you took the engine, drive train and wheels as your starting point.

The evolutionists then skipped all of the major problems that arise after you have a signal transduction system in place, such as the incredible post processing system and the creation of the machinery to construct the vision system. The problem they ended up solving is sometimes affectionately referred to as a “cartoon” version of the real world problem.

The research, if you can call it that, did not demonstrate that the eye evolved or could have evolved. Yet the paper became a favorite reference for evolutionists wanting to promote evolution. Eye evolution, they insisted, was now known to be straightforward. Here, for instance, is how our tax dollars are used by PBS to promote this abuse of science:

Zoologist Dan-Erik Nilsson demonstrates how the complex human eye could have evolved through natural selection acting on small variations. Starting with a simple patch of light sensitive cells, Nilsson’s model “evolves” until a clear image is produced.

This spreading of false information is not limited to popular presentations. A paper reporting on “highly advanced compound eyes” which are “as advanced as those of many living forms” in early arthropods begins by informing the reader that “theory (i.e., the Nilsson paper) suggests that complex eyes can evolve very rapidly.” This helps them to conclude that those incredible arthropod eyes are “further evidence that the Cambrian explosion involved rapid innovation.”

With the mythological framework in place, the findings could then safely be presented as confirmations of evolution. As the journal’s editor added:

Charles Darwin thought that the eye, which he called an “organ of extreme perfection,” was a serious challenge to evolutionary theory — but he was mistaken. Theory predicts that eyes can evolve with great speed, and now there is support for this prediction from the fossil record.

Support for this prediction? You’ve got to be kidding. A cartoon version of reality, taking the myth of evolution as true, is considered a “prediction” and amazing early complexity in the fossils then becomes a “support for this prediction”?

What the arthropod fossils revealed is an early Cambrian, highly advanced vision system more elaborate than any so far discovered. Its compound eyes have more then 3,000 lenses optimally arranged in the densest and most efficient packing pattern. As the paper explains:

The extremely regular arrangement of lenses seen here exceeds even that in certain modern taxa, such as the horseshoe crab Limulus, in which up to one-third of lenses deviate from hexagonal packing.

All of this is presented to the reader as merely another demonstration of how fantastic designs just happen spontaneously to arise:

The new fossils reveal that some of the earliest arthropods had already acquired visual systems similar to those of living forms, underscoring the speed and magnitude of the evolutionary innovation that occurred during the Cambrian explosion.

Ho-hum, yet more evolutionary innovation. For evolutionists it was just another day in the office. As PZ Myers explained, we already knew that complex animals appear rapidly. After all, that is why they call it the “Cambrian explosion.” Evolutionists have written “whole books on the subject.”

Myers follows this circular reasoning with yet more question begging:

The sudden appearance of complexity is no surprise, either. We know that the fundamental mechanisms of eye function evolved long before the Cambrian, from the molecular evidence;

Of course there is no “molecular evidence” that gives us such knowledge (see here for example). But if you assume evolution is true to begin with, as do evolutionists who analyze the molecular patterns, then Myers’ fictional, question begging, world makes sense.

Myers follows these circular arguments with a more subtle type of fallacy. He explains that these particular findings are no big deal because both this finding and the similar trilobite vision systems require cellular signal transduction, development machines and so forth:

It is also the case that the measure of complexity here is determined by a simple meristic trait, the number of ommatidia. This is not radical. The hard part in the evolution of the compound eye was the development of the signal transduction mechanism, followed by the developmental rules that governed the formation of a regular, repeating structure of the eye. The number of ommatidia is a reflection of the degree of commitment of tissues in the head to eye formation, and is a quantitative difference, not a qualitative one.

Setting aside the usual evolutionary speculation about how easily designs evolve, the problem here is that the cellular signal transduction, development machines and so forth are themselves problems for evolution. Indeed, even the simplest of light detection systems sport such incredible designs for which evolution has no explanation beyond vague speculation.

Next Myers is back to question-begging. In typical fashion he attempts to shore up the evolution position with the usual reference to, yes, the mythical 1994 Nilsson paper:

And finally, there’s nothing in the data from this paper that implies sudden origins; there can’t be. If it takes a few hundred thousand years for a complex eye to evolve from a simple light sensing organ, there is no way to determine that one sample of a set of fossils was the product of millions of years of evolution, or one day of magical creation.

Next is the fallacy of credulity. If you present an evolutionist with the scientific failures of his theory, he will accuse you of basing your skepticism on your own failure to imagine a solution. As Myers puts it:

It’s a logical error and a failure of the imagination to assume that these descriptions are of a population that spontaneously emerged nearly-instantaneously.

Failure of the imagination? Indeed, we just need to do more imagining, that’s the problem.

Finally Myers reiterates the flawed Darwinian argument that whatever abruptness you see in the fossil record is, after all, merely a consequence of all those gaps in the fossils:

Darwin himself explained in great detail how one should not expect fine-grained fossil series, due to the imperfection of the geological record.

When in doubt, doubt the data. Paleontologists agree that the fossil record reveals abrupt appearances, but when convenient evolutionists can always protect their theory with those gaps in the fossil record.

Evolutionary thinking is remarkable. I am reminded of John Earman’s remarks about Hume’s arguments. For it is astonishing how well evolution is treated, given how completely the confection collapses under a little probing. So if Benjamin Radford really is interested in why people believe things for which there is little or no evidence, we have just the topic for him.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson: “How come this number isn’t zero?”

They’re Not Buying It

While evolutionists ascribe the public’s skepticism to ignorance and educational failures (and so evolutionists, of course, must have more power and control in order to set things straight) there is, as Neil deGrasse Tyson points out, one little problem: the greatest minds in history didn’t buy it and a non trivial percentage of today’s scientists also aren’t quite sure that astronomical entropy barriers have repeatedly been climbed an astronomical number of times by, err, random chance events. This is disturbing to Tyson and his fellow modern-day Epicureans for whom the world must have spontaneously formed but, as Tyson admits, their focus on the public’s skepticism is misplaced. How can they expect the lay audience to accept their message of chance creation of, well, everything, if all the elites are not on-board? The key number is not the percentage of unbelievers in the general public, but among scientists. As Tyson puts it: “How come this number isn’t zero?” [13:40 in this video]

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson: We are the “truth-seekers”

Rationalism on Steroids

While informing his friendly Berkeley audience that the world must not have been designed because of all its evil and dysteleology (there are earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis and lightning strikes, and for every beautiful waterfall there is a deadly newt hiding under a rock), Neil deGrasse Tyson also reminds his fellow evolutionists that they are the “truth-seekers.” [7:10 in this video] The Director of the Hayden Planetarium is an entertaining speaker but this was not meant to be funny. The lesson here is that evolutionists are so confident and convincing not because they are good liars, but because they actually believe their lies.

When evolutionists make religious claims about how the world would be created, if it had been created, they are utterly convinced that their claims are nothing less than obvious statements of truth. Evolutionists take their personal religious belief not as personal religious belief but rather as what A.F. Chalmers appropriately referred to as a “universal criterion”:

The typical rationalist will believe that theories that meet the demands of the universal criterion are true or approximately true or probably true … The distinction between science and non-science is straight-forward for the rationalist. Only those theories that are such that they can be clearly assessed in terms of the universal criterion and which survive the test are scientific … The typical rationalist will take it as self-evident that a high value is to be placed on knowledge developed in accordance with the universal criterion. This will be especially so if the process is understood as leading towards truth. Truth, rationality, and hence science, are seen as intrinsically good. [What is this thing called science?, 2d ed, 1982, p. 102]

It is ironic that those who are most beholden to their metaphysics are those who are most oblivious to their metaphysics. As Alfred North Whitehead observed, people take their most crucial assumptions to be obvious and in no need of justification. These underlying assumptions are unspoken and undefended because, as Whitehead put it, “Such assumptions appear so obvious that people do not know what they are assuming because no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them.”

And so while evolutionists enforce their religion, misrepresent science and persecute those who disagree, it is, for evolutionists, all in the service of truth and righteousness. After all, they are the truth-seekers.

Religion drives science, and it matters.