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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mailvox: evolution and the slippery slope

Mike Williamson answered the question I posed to him in response to his claims about creationists.
1. How do creationists "pose a serious threat to society"?

Society only functions when the majority of the people agree on basic fundamental ideas. A critical mass of people who believe reason and evidence don't matter is a slippery slope to tyranny.
Williamson's reasoning is totally specious here.  The overwhelming majority of Americans were creationists from the very beginning, and yet somehow, with the exception of the Lincoln presidency, managed to avoid slipping into tyranny.  And, as a matter of fact, there is a positive correlation between the number of non-Creationists in the United States and the growth of increasingly intrusive government.

Williamson is engaging in the very intellectual dishonesty he falsely imputed to me by erroneously attempting to equate "creationists" with "people who believe reason and evidence don't matter".  I am a creationist.  I also believe that reason and evidence matter a very great deal indeed.  Williamson has asserted a false dichotomy that my mere existence is sufficient to expose.  And I am very far from the only creationist who not only believes reason and evidence matter, but utilizes them more adroitly than Mr. Williamson does.

Moreover, Mr. Williamson's entire argument is based on a demonstrably false assumption that a belief in creationism necessarily conflicts with a belief in evolution by natural selection.  While I am a creationist who is skeptical of the Theorum of Evolution by (probably) Natural Selection as described by Richard Dawkins, it should be obvious that creationism and evolution by natural selection are at least potentially complimentary because natural selection intrinsically requires genes from which to select.  As the brighter sort of evolutionists are fond of pointing out when pressed, evolution says absolutely nothing about the origins of life, it only concerns the transformation of one existing species into another.  Even to a mere +3 SD intelligence like Mr. Williamson, it should be readily apparent that evolution by natural selection cannot possibly take place via the mutation of nonexistent genes.

Only evolution by natural selection combined with abiogenesis can be considered to be intrinsically opposed to creationism, and even that is debatable given that logic dictates the artificial replication of abiogenesis by scientists would offer more support a creator behind the abiogenesis than it taking place by time and chance alone.
2. There are an estimated 1,263,186 animal species and 326,175 plant species in the world. Assuming the age of the Earth is 4.54 billion years, what is the average rate of speciation?

The technical definition of species is somewhat iffy, at times arbitrary, and needs more work to be fleshed out.
Mr. Williamson not only cannot calculate a rate that absolutely must exist if his belief in evolution by natural selection is true, but admits that he cannot even define the species whose origins he strongly implies are incontrovertible. It should be apparent that he is not defending actual quantifiable, testable, and replicable science here, he is defending his irreligious faith in a particular historical science fiction that may or may not have any basis in fact.  That doesn't mean his faith may not be logically well-founded, it merely means that he cannot even begin to provide scientific evidence for what he is claiming is beyond skepticism. This is philosophy, not modern science.
3. How many mutations, on average, are required per speciation?

See above.
It is interesting, is it not, how even the most blindly faithful evolutionist runs from the sort of precision and quantification that is absolutely necessary if something is to be considered genuinely scientific in any meaningful sense?  Being both trained and well-read in economics, the reader can safely believe me, I know pseudo-science when I see it. Biologists like to appeal to physics as the foundation of their claimed authority, but the fact of the matter is that if physicists were as haplessly ignorant and as unable to provide predictive models as evolutionary biologists, no one would take them very seriously either.  This is why Daniel Dennett's atheist logic is always so amusing: he asserts we are to trust biologists because physicists get amazingly accurate results.
4. What scientifically significant predictive model relies primarily upon evolution by natural selection?

Nothing as precise as physics, but holding a life science to that standard is stupid. Our understanding of genetics, animal behavior patterns, and in an incomplete way, social science, are all aided by the concept of natural selection.
Holding a life science to precise standards is stupid?  That should be news to all those idiots working in genetics and medical science. And what about those amazingly accurate results Mr. Dennett promised us? In addition to that insulting blunder, Williamson resorts to trying to blatantly move the goalposts.  But it's not really his fault. What choice does he have? He can't cite any scientifically significant predictive models that rely primarily upon evolution by natural selection because they don't exist.  After more than 150 years, TENS is still a useless and onanistic "science" that has little purpose beyond trying to prove itself.

Our understanding of genetics was not, and is not, aided by the concept of natural selection. The mindless adherence to evolution by natural selection actually inhibited the initial acceptance of Mendelian genetics, hence the need for the "Neo-Darwinian Synthesis" that finally allowed biologists to move on with the real science while still genuflecting respectfully to Saint Darwin.  However, as I noted, we're already seeing biologists admit that clinging to Darwin and Darwinism is unhelpful, and it won't be too terribly long before they admit that the concept of natural selection is largely irrelevant with regards to manipulating genes as well.
5. Which of the various human sub-species is the most evolved; i.e. modified by mutation and natural selection from the most recent common human ancestor? Which is the least evolved?

There is no such thing as more evolved or less evolved. Evolution is not a linear progressive process where species "get better" over time. It is an amoral process. Genes either get passed on or they don't. All evolution can tell is is which traits are more likely to thrive in specific environments. As for which human group has the most mutations from the baseline original human group, no idea.
Oh, Sweet Darwin! Someone obviously didn't understand the question.  It must be that pesky dearth of IQ points again. Since evolution by natural selection concerns the selection of mutations, there are most certainly "more evolved" and "less evolved" species; the reason the coelocanth is called a "living fossil" is because it has fewer mutations that have been selected over time than most other extant species.  And it would not be possible to produce phylograms if it were not possible to declare which species was more evolved or less evolved from the purported common ancestor.  Williamson not only incorrectly assumed the idea that "more evolved" means "better", he incorrectly assumed that was the only possible meaning for the term even though I provided him with a different one.
6. Is the theory of evolution by natural selection strengthened or weakened by the claim that most DNA is devoid of purpose?

Strengthened. Junk DNA would seem to indicate evolution is a chaotic process with some unnecessary leftovers, which weakens the claim of specific intelligent design.
I just wanted to get him on record here.  Remember, the ID model suggests that most DNA is NOT devoid of purpose.  So, if junk DNA turns out to be more than junk, that will show that ID is a successfully predictive model and thereby provide scientific evidence for the idea that creatures on earth did not evolve by natural selection, but were designed.  It will also show that another predictive model based on evolution by natural selection failed. Again.
I await any evidence that any creature on Earth is "intelligently" designed.

The usual response is, "but you don't know the designer's criteria," which is a copout and unfalsifiable.

Any objective observation shows that every life form on Earth works just well enough to pass on its genes to its offspring. Most of the time. Those that don't go extinct.

I'd like to see someone explain the "intelligence" behind a human foot, which no longer works as an effective grasper, and is not nearly as effective as a hoof for walking. Without modern footwear, we're prone to serious mechanical failure of the joints and bone, usually shortly after our prime reproductive time.

And tiny babies will clutch with their feet when picked up from a crib, an instinctive hangover from our brachiator ancestors.
Keep an eye on genetic science. As we begin to learn more about how to manipulate genes, then we should begin to discover evidence of past genetic manipulations, if there is in fact any to be discovered.  As for infelicities of design, I fail to see how anyone who has ever used Windows Vista or Windows 8 can claim that suboptimal design is evidence of an absence of either intelligence or design.
Religion has really become a bad joke. Physics destroys creation myths. Biology destroys creation myths. Geology destroys creation myths. Either Creation is a tale told to Bronze Age peasants as a way to explain a universe they couldn't grasp, or this God person is running a serious long con.

It's hilarious to watch an alleged "genius" trot out crap that was debunked a half century ago.
I will leave it to the resident physics PhD to demonstrate the absurdity of his claim about physics.  I've already shown that biology cannot destroy creation myths because it doesn't deal with them. As for geology, I can do no better than to quote the immortal words of Dr. Sheldon Cooper, "geology isn't a real science".

I will first mention that I am not a genius, "alleged" or otherwise, as I reject the idea that it is related to a specific IQ and I have no accomplishments that would merit the title. But I fear Mr. Williamson woefully misinterpreted that very significant peer-reviewed paper of fifty years ago that he cites, as it quite clearly not only defended, rather than debunked, the "crap" that I trotted out, but also provided absolutely conclusive scientific evidence for the existence of a Creator God as well as the precise age of the Earth down to the millesecond.  It's a pity I cannot quite recall the name of the highly reputable scientists who authored it or the exact issue of Nature in which it was published, but perhaps Mr. Williamson could be a lamb and remind us.

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236 Comments:

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Anonymous Idle Spectator April 24, 2013 1:08 AM  

Geology is too a real science.

Also keep in mind, Sheldon cannot even drive a car.

Anonymous A. Man April 24, 2013 1:25 AM  

"I will leave it to the resident physics PhD to demonstrate the absurdity of his claim about physics. I've already shown that biology cannot destroy creation myths because it doesn't deal with them."

On thing is absolutely true: Advancements in the understanding of the natural world have completely destroyed he biblical creation myth, as well as other claims made in the bible.

In the end, though, it matters little. folks aren't taught the creation myth any more in school. And to the extent that people even think about the biblical creation myth, it's likely only as a matter of tradition and curiosity. But it's just not taken seriously by most people, regardless of what they say. The South excepted.

Anonymous Toby Temple April 24, 2013 1:34 AM  

Are you saying, A.Man, that you have been in every school in the planet?

I would suggest going to a christian school first located near where you live.

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 1:35 AM  

Uniformitarianism, and naturalism, the twin pillars of modern "science," are philosophical assumptions, not claims that can be proven.

Blogger Shimshon April 24, 2013 1:44 AM  

What really killed evolution for me was seeing an article, in Scientific American, depicting the flagellum of some species of bacteria next to a common motor. It wasn't that the flagellum was like a motor. It was an actual motor. Naturally occurring nano-technology. And I realized right there that this was The Watch (being in college at the time and having taken some Philosophy courses), as in:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchmaker_analogy

I wish I could remember which issue.

Anonymous Noah B. April 24, 2013 1:44 AM  

"In the end, though, it matters little. folks aren't taught the creation myth any more in school."

Instead, they're taught why Cindy has two mommies, how the Framers were just racist slaveowners, and how to apply for federal student loans, unemployment, food stamps, and Obamacare. And aren't we so much better of because of it?

Smile for the drone camera.

Anonymous dh April 24, 2013 1:46 AM  

I would suggest going to a christian school first located near where you live.

I only know a handful of very devout Christians. I know a large number who are basically Christian, but would admittedly tell you that it's not a priority in their day-to-day life. I know a handful of Christians who are somewhat hostile to some elements of basic dogma (gays, etc). I am also antiquated with a few orthodox prelates. The husband of a close friend is a teacher at a fairly serious Christian school.

But every single one - literally everyone - discounts the Genesis creation myth.

Is this at all typical?

Anonymous Noah B. April 24, 2013 1:55 AM  

"On thing is absolutely true: Advancements in the understanding of the natural world have completely destroyed he biblical creation myth, as well as other claims made in the bible."

So you're unable to grasp the concept of a discontinuity. How quaint.

Anonymous Will Best April 24, 2013 2:06 AM  

If you accept the all powerfulness of God, then you can accept that he can design a system that appears one way even if it was created another. And perhaps that is easy for me to believe as I have some experience in software development where I was creating a user environment.

It also could be a matter that we just don't understand enough about the universe/world yet. Einstein had to revise Newton and so forth.

Anonymous Pa Kur April 24, 2013 2:09 AM  

The Christian school where I send my daughter teaches Young Earth Creation. Our preacher just taught it in church, too. I also believe it because the evidence points to it.

Anonymous Toby Temple April 24, 2013 2:10 AM  

Is this at all typical?

Typical in the US, especially in highly liberal areas who are more secular than religious.

Do you honestly think that a Catholic school with priests as teachers would discount Genesis?

Blogger Crude April 24, 2013 2:12 AM  

Society only functions when the majority of the people agree on basic fundamental ideas. A critical mass of people who believe reason and evidence don't matter is a slippery slope to tyranny.

As Vox said, this is an inane claim right out of the gates. I'd also note the irony of someone warning against tyranny while at the same time insisting that in order to avoid it we must ensure that our ideas about nature are homogenous.

Religion has really become a bad joke. Physics destroys creation myths. Biology destroys creation myths. Geology destroys creation myths. Either Creation is a tale told to Bronze Age peasants as a way to explain a universe they couldn't grasp, or this God person is running a serious long con.

More flat out stupidity. Neither physics, nor biology, nor geology, nor any other science 'destroys' the claim that God created the universe, or even that God continues to maintain it moment to moment. Even if someone accepted that, say, YEC claims turned out to be incompatible with science, they never were the only views on offer, even within Christian tradition.

I'll offer an either-or of my own: either Williamson is tragically ignorant of science, religion or both, or he's knowingly bullshitting about science in order to advance an agenda.

His junk DNA comments are also a punt, and you can look at the opinions of various biologists to see why. If it turns out junk DNA is abundant, well, evolution is an imperfect process - clearly ID is wrong. If it turns out junk DNA is not abundant, well, evolution is a purifying process, of course there wouldn't be an abundance of junk.

I've long noticed that the very people who don't shut up with their praise of science tend to be the ones who either don't understand it and don't care to (the typical Cult of Gnu members) or the ones who actually gave up doing it (PZ Myers, Dawkins, etc.)

Blogger Crude April 24, 2013 2:14 AM  

Correct: not a punt, since he answered clearly. It's just ultimately useless - an escape hatch is already there, and is always there.

I say this as a theistic evolutionist who thinks ID isn't science.

Anonymous kh123 April 24, 2013 2:20 AM  

"Biology destroys creation myths. Geology destroys..."

"Advancements in the understanding of the natural world have completely destroyed he biblical creation myth, as well as other claims made in the bible."


So on the one hand, the bible is potentially falsifiable.

On the other, how could we falsify:

-Any particular historical phylogeny, by a means other than "This tooth or allele has closer affinities this year to our target organism than any of the other candidates did last year"? In other words, how can we arrive at a truly scientific phylogeny for extinct organisms that doesn't resemble Alexander the Great's?

-Any particular time line in the geologic column? For that matter, any particular radiometric date?

-Any particular index fossil when it either a) transgresses well outside of its normal stratigraphic placement; or b) pushes the time on either the first or last appearance to such a degree that it effectively widens and muddies its (and others') time index?

Anonymous Christian in Hollyweird April 24, 2013 2:24 AM  

"Is this [discounting the Genesis creation myth] at all typical?"

Among fundamentalists, no. And for those with a supernatural worldview, no. And most Christians would not "discount it", no. The universe is a wonderful, wide, and weird place. Could God have created the world in literally six 24 hour days, with day and night coming chronologically before a sun and a moon? Yup. Could God have inspired and chosen Moses to pen the world's greatest (and trues t) creation myth? Yup. Could God have created a cosmic turtle that carries us in his divine shell? Yup. We weren't there at the creation of the All. But we have been given a revelation -- Genesis -- but the point remains the same no matter what the interpretation: God created the cosmos and man is fallen. Jesus the Messiah, the Promised One, the Savior, is the way back to God. Ever longed for something greater, something truer? Something bigger than this moment? Then don't let the current claims of science trip you up from recognizing the bigger picture. It's all there in Genesis. Read it with open eyes, and an open heart, friend. If you seek the truth, you will find it. I promise.

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 2:29 AM  

I say this as a theistic evolutionist who thinks ID isn't science.

Can one scientifically distinguish arson from accident? How about detecting insurance fraud? What about distinguishing suicide from murder? Cheating on tests? Copyright infringement?

Why is it design theory is acceptable as science in these instances, but not when applied to biology?

And I suppose further you have the math and computer science training to understand the fundamentals of design theory, and you have from that understanding rejected design theory as science?

Anonymous kh123 April 24, 2013 2:34 AM  

(And I realize that the last question sounds the same for both a) and b).

a) would be an index found well out of its normal range - Carboniferous found in Pleistocene, etc...

b) would be something like a Lystrosaur or some other regularly reoccurring, well known common index fossil pushing its first or last known appearance gradually, until it's considered contemporary with an ever increasing number of other organisms thought to be chronologically distinct from it. Hence the muddying of its index qualities.)

Blogger Crude April 24, 2013 2:37 AM  

Log,

Can one scientifically distinguish arson from accident? How about detecting insurance fraud? What about distinguishing suicide from murder? Cheating on tests? Copyright infringement?

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. In order of your questions.

Why is it design theory is acceptable as science in these instances, but not when applied to biology?

It's not.

Before you pull the trigger on me, let me explain where I'm coming from. Distinguishing arson from accident? Detecting insurance fraud? Distinguishing suicide from murder? Cheating on tests? Copyright infringement? You can make very valid inferences in all of those areas. You can also use technology, maybe even some limited amount of science, in the process of forming your answers. You can come to entirely reasonable conclusions, properly qualified - in fact, conclusions so reasonable that any person who rejects them could rightly be regarded as wrong, maybe even kind of nuts.

Because not every valid form of reasoning is automatically science. In fact, science is restricted to a tremendously small sphere of human experience and knowledge.

I'll also add that not only is ID not science (by my view), but neither is its opposite. Science is completely incapable of saying X was not designed, that X has no ultimate purpose, that X came about without intention or, etc.

And I suppose further you have the math and computer science training to understand the fundamentals of design theory, and you have from that understanding rejected design theory as science?

Are you talking about Bill Dembski's design filter? If so, nope, I do not. I do understand Michael Behe's claims about irreducible complexity - enough to know that 99% of the critiques directed at him are complete and utter bullshit, usually spouted by the intentionally dishonest. I also understand that most critiques of intelligent design, period, are complete hogwash - they usually trade on lies like 'ID proposes that it's scientific to state that God performed miracles to create the bacterial flagellum'. I think quite a lot of ID critiques of mainstream biology and evolutionary thought have considerable merit. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that some ID arguments are persuasive, even compelling - but a persuasive, compelling argument is not automatically a scientific one.

Anonymous Roundtine April 24, 2013 2:47 AM  

Is this at all typical?

Notice Vox uses Creationist and creationist. A quick and dirty way to estimate the intelligence of your atheist interlocutor is to see how they define (C)creationist.

I believe the Creation story in the Bible is an interpretation/approximation because there's no way we could understand how God actually created the universe. There are studies indicating that humans can only really comprehend small numbers. Beyond a certain threshold, a surprisingly low one, everything higher is just "a lot." You see this most clearly in news stories, where $1 million, $1 billion and $1 trillion are pretty much interchangeable and if you told someone the President wasted $1 million or $1 billion, their reaction is the same. See also the attention on foreign aid in the budget. We cannot even come close to comprehending WHAT God created (the Universe), let alone HOW he did it.

Anonymous Christian in Hollyweird April 24, 2013 2:49 AM  

One idea never brought about in the evolution/creation debate is that God SUSTAINS everything in the universe by the Word of his power (which is Jesus, by the way, the divine herald). In Him we live and move and have our being. God is literally holding us up, sustaining, maintaining, continuing our very existence. He's not just the Unmoved Mover knocking down dominos. For you materialists, ask yourself who or what keeps this whole place running smoothly? If "what", why not a who?

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 2:52 AM  

Is forensic science, in your view, an oxymoron?

Anonymous Christian in Hollyweird April 24, 2013 3:00 AM  

"We cannot even come close to comprehending WHAT God created (the Universe), let alone HOW he did it."

I feel so much pity for the materialists who cannot even imagine the sheer awesome epic scale of a cup of hot tea let alone fathom the massive fabric of the cosmos or the infinite majesty of our Father in heaven. Your fabricated sense of natural awe is blinded by the nothingness at the root of of your vision. Truly, the whole earth is filled with his glory! The whole creation is joyfully shouting about God all the time -- open your ears, and hear!

Blogger Crude April 24, 2013 3:08 AM  

Log,

Is forensic science, in your view, an oxymoron?

Depends on what's meant by it. Studying whether, say, a given fire was most likely caused by source X, Y, Z? That's science. The moment you start talking intention, emotion, or all things mental, you're in trouble. At the extreme neuroscience end maybe you can get as far as correlation talk.

Reasoning that fire X was most likely caused by arson is totally reasonable and a sphere accessible to human inquiry, and you can come to very, very solid conclusions. But is reasoning about motivations and thoughts and desires and intentions 'science'? Not really.

Anonymous Jack Amok April 24, 2013 3:10 AM  

Society only functions when the majority of the people agree on basic fundamental ideas.

That is a Rabbit Mantra if I ever saw one. God forbid anyone have an original idea. And this from they guy who claims Vox is anti-science? I would assume then that Mr. Williamson approves of the Roman Inquisitions against scientists like Galileo for promoting heresy ((noun): dissent or deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice; any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs)? I assume he thinks Martin Luther should have been jailed, and at the very least shut up so he couldn't continue undermining agreement on basic fundamental ideas?

Perhaps Mr. +3 would care to re-think that one?


Regarding all that "junk DNA", I seem to recall recent findings that DNA functions not so much as a linear encoding, but rather it's made up of functional blocks that create certain structures when activated, and create them differently depending on how they're activated. You could say - if you wanted to use a programming analogy - that DNA has a bunch of subroutines which can be called, and many of the subroutines even accept input parameters which alter their behavior. For example, the same DNA sequence that creates scales in reptiles creates feathers in birds, but it's activated slightly differently.

So if you're a Creationist, God prefers Object Oriented Programming over linear programming. And the junk DNA just means that He's like me (what's that? You think it's the other way around?) in that He doesn't always clean up dead code or delete all the commented out code left over from cut-n-paste.

Or, if you're an Evolutionist, it means that DNA is a big functionality toolkit, with different modules that can be activated (or deactivated, or heavily modified) by small mutations, allowing large changes to happen relatively fast. E.g. feathers "evolving" from scales doesn't require an implausibly long series of complementary mutations. It only requires a small change to the input for the feathers/scales subroutine.

Anonymous Myrddin April 24, 2013 3:24 AM  

I am a YEC because Genesis seems like straightforward history, and because I write computer games. That last has two ramifications:

1) It ultimately matters not if I am wrong. If I were a doctor or biologist, I would care more and do more research into the matter, but my view of origins doesn't change C/C++/C#/Java syntax even a little.

2) YEC (or at least ID) predicts that I should get much better results by thinking through my code than by banging my forehead against the keyboard and compiling whatever results. /* insert Perl slam here */ And if you are throwing in the origin of life as an issue, since we are trying to get away from Bronze-Age tribal sky gods, YEC and ID both hold that it's plainly impossible to get a computer with a functioning, playable game written on it by starting a rockslide and hoping the components assemble themselves via chance and gravity. Evolution minus ID asserts that transformations even more spectacular from an IT perspective than rockslide to XBox happened not only at the origin of life, but also continue to happen behind the scenes of observation and the fossil record (for instance, the jump from therapod arm to bird wing, which is admitedly more like an Apple II falling downhill and becoming an XBox, but there it is).

Anonymous TheExpat April 24, 2013 3:27 AM  

Turtles. All the way down.

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 3:28 AM  

Depends on what's meant by it. Studying whether, say, a given fire was most likely caused by source X, Y, Z? That's science.

Great. So we can distinguish, scientifically, between arson and lightning strikes, correct?

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 3:30 AM  

To cut to the chase, design theory simply distinguishes between events which are caused solely by chance, and events which are not caused solely by chance, without commenting on why an intelligence might have influenced the latter events.

Anonymous VryeDenker April 24, 2013 3:33 AM  

So, DNA resembles the Class Factory design pattern?

Anonymous Redneck Joe April 24, 2013 3:35 AM  

Williamson is not used to discussions like this. It makes me want to read one of his books to find the missing pieces to this puzzle. 99.8%? He took the bait like a mall chick and had no idea he was being railed. I spend a lot of time around mere +2SD people. They just don't do that.
I cringed when I was reading his replies because after getting a very rudimentary idea of what he was like on Monday (never heard of him before) I knew his answer to #5 was going to basically take the track of some PC version of "no group is any better than the others," even though the question had nothing to do with that.
Maybe he took one of those 20 question IQ tests on the internet that try to sell a membership after you enter a valid email address, thought it was legit, then looked up his 143 in a rarity chart.
Maybe his books are very simple and just entertaining because of his interesting military past? I did notice on his Wiki page that each book lists an editor. I've never written a book, and never thought to look before, but is that significant? Like he tells some colorful stories, someone else writes them down?
A mystery. He communicates like a tv character. Decent grammar, not a slob/idiot, but manufactured.

Anonymous VryeDenker April 24, 2013 3:40 AM  

Interestingly enough, I took one of those online "IQ tests" and scored about the same as I did on the Mensa tests. Assuming I barely scraped by in the latter.

Anonymous Peter Garstig April 24, 2013 3:40 AM  

Can't believe he actually bit.

3SD? Bring out the big ones.

Blogger Crude April 24, 2013 3:42 AM  

Log,

Great. So we can distinguish, scientifically, between arson and lightning strikes, correct?

Nope. We can distinguish between various of fires - a match, lightning, a whole bunch of gasoline and a lighter, etc. Once we're talking about intentions - and arson is entirely tied up with intention - we're off into the land of non-science.

I don't know about you, but personally, my experience is that it's difficult to get people to understand that various Good Argument They Agree With X is nevertheless not science. It's easy to defend, but man, people will hold out for ages rather than admit it sometimes.

To cut to the chase, design theory simply distinguishes between events which are caused solely by chance, and events which are not caused solely by chance, without commenting on why an intelligence might have influenced the latter events.

At heart, design theory absolutely needs to talk about intention of some kind to get off the ground. Michael Behe can make all the criticisms he wants of Darwinism (and I think he makes some very good points), but that inference to design requires, at minimum, assent to the claim that say... a given IC structure was designed on purpose. The IC structure cannot have merely possibly involved intelligence in some peripheral sense, like an intelligent accident.

And that's where I say ID is not science. Now, I'm just one guy, and I'm not a scientist. Other people have their own definitions. In my opinion, usually those definitions are terrible. Jerry Coyne will call any-fuggin-thing science if he likes it. I'm pretty sure he thinks he has a scientific method of taking a leak in the morning.

And some guy who claims that 'science' tells us that the romans built such and such structures, who admits that inferring intention and design and purpose is science - he's going to have a much harder time disputing you. Again, I think ID *reasoning* has a lot going for it. I accept some of that. I accept that the typical anti-ID arguments are abysmal, and some of them outright fail. (The appeal to methodological naturalism does not even rule out ID, though goddamn, it's tough to get ID proponents themselves to realize this.) So it's not like I'm sitting here as part of the NCSE idiot brigade. I'm also looking forward to Meyer's next book - hell, I wish Michael Denton would do another.

Anonymous Peter Garstig April 24, 2013 3:55 AM  

I liked his answer to question 5 the most. All projection, not understanding the question. The kind of projection is also telling.

Which makes me wonder: is this man real?

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 4:01 AM  

At heart, design theory absolutely needs to talk about intention of some kind to get off the ground.

Actually, it does not. Design theory simply says this: given an event X, where taken jointly all known chance hypotheses which could potentially account for X confer a probability of less than %50 upon X, then it is more likely than not that chance does not account for X. Nevertheless, X could potentially have happened by chance regardless. However, if X displays descriptional simplicity, or if there exists a description of X which displays algorithmic compressibility, as well as low probability factoring in all known chance hypotheses which could potentially account for X, then we know by the normal process of induction that X was in fact due to intelligent intervention. Because it so happens that in each and every case in the past where an event displayed descriptional simplicity and low probability with reference to all relevant chance hypotheses, and the causal history of the event has been known, that event has universally been due at least in part to intelligent intervention.

Now, it has been some years since I researched design theory, but this is a good resource just to ensure my description here hasn't shortchanged the actual design detection apparatus.

Therefore, we need not assent to any claim of intent or purpose. Intent or purpose is an entirely different issue than whether the causal history of an event evinces intelligent intervention.

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 4:04 AM  

To be clear, objections to design theory must be objections to the formal work on specification by the experts and not my characterization of that work. As the real thing is available here, to treat my gloss as the final word is to commit the strawman fallacy.

Anonymous VD April 24, 2013 4:05 AM  

I don't know about you, but personally, my experience is that it's difficult to get people to understand that various Good Argument They Agree With X is nevertheless not science. It's easy to defend, but man, people will hold out for ages rather than admit it sometimes.

The amount of magical thinking by those who decry magical thinking is truly astounding. And it is hilarious, as kh123 points out, that he appears to be one of those who somehow manage to simultaneously believe religion to be a) disproved by science, and, b) unfalsifiable.

Blogger redlegben April 24, 2013 4:09 AM  

Perhaps Stickwick's experience is different than mine. As a physicist, I have found that the soft sciences (biology, geology, meteorology) is where you find the atheists and darwinists. I find a significant difference with the hard sciences (physics, chemistry, engineering). I also find those soft sciences to be less intelligent. Mathematicians are in between in my experience. Most of the genius mathematicians are too busy trying to find their keys to contemplate God.

Blogger Crude April 24, 2013 4:11 AM  

Log,

Actually, it does not. Design theory simply says this: given an event X, where taken jointly all known chance hypotheses which could potentially account for X confer a probability of less than %50 upon X, then it is more likely than not that chance does not account for X. Nevertheless, X could potentially have happened by chance regardless. However, if X displays descriptional simplicity, or if there exists a description of X which displays algorithmic compressibility, as well as low probability factoring in all known chance hypotheses which could potentially account for X, then we know by the normal process of induction that X was in fact due to intelligent intervention.

But there it is right there - the very thing I said you needed. There's your talk of intention. Remove that and ID cannot get off the ground. When I say 'talk about intention' is needed, I don't mean that we need to know the specific purpose of the designer. Broad intention - the intention to design at least that such and such irreducibly complex structure - suffices. But the moment you're talking intention, you're dealing with philosophy of mind by necessity.

I repeat again: I find various ID arguments reasonable. Even compelling. Why is it so important that we call it science? Because there are so many idiots who won't listen to any reasoning unless they hear it called 'scientific'? If so, I agree that those exist. I think that's the problem we should be addressing.

I don't say what I do lightly. I've been pretty damn active in ID debates since around or before Dover. I've argued with Nick Matzke numerous times. I've written to Behe, Dembski and others on multiple occasions with questions (and graciously, they usually wrote back.) I've written to Ken Miller (that guy wrote back, less than graciously.) I follow evo news and views pretty much daily, and I'm very sympathetic to the arguments, very aware of the hypocrisy and lies of so many of their critics.

But why is it important I call it science? Really, explain that to me, because regardless of my thinking it's not science, I also question why so many people seem to find it important to call it exactly that.

Anonymous Peter Garstig April 24, 2013 4:16 AM  

Also, this exchange clearly should make us appreciate Nate. He, at least, avoided the most obvious pitfalls and actually understood what was asked, answered it (for the most part) and even sometimes knew in advance what was coming.

This guy? Primary proof that IQ and intelligence don't need to correlate.

Anonymous VD April 24, 2013 4:21 AM  

But why is it important I call it science? Really, explain that to me, because regardless of my thinking it's not science, I also question why so many people seem to find it important to call it exactly that.

Because that's the rhetorical debate. The evolutionary faithful won a rhetorical victory when they managed to get Popper to recant and declare that evolution is science, while repeatedly insisting themselves that creationism is not. That is why they are determined to drive home the "ID is not Science" mantra, because it threatens that rhetorical victory.

Of course, as you've shown, one can easily make the dialectic case that neither ID nor evolution are science. And both cases are irrelevant in the end, because the geneticists are calmly going about their business, which requires adherence to neither TE(p)NS or ID, and should eventually settle the matter... using actual science.

Blogger Crude April 24, 2013 4:21 AM  

Log,

To be clear, objections to design theory must be objections to the formal work on specification by the experts and not my characterization of that work. As the real thing is available here, to treat my gloss as the final word is to commit the strawman fallacy.

Dembski's specific work is only one ID argument among a variety. You can argue that the various arguments and claims are related, but there's a reason Dembski always called ID 'big tent' - because there's a diversity of views in the ID movement, and a diversity of arguments too. They all have some rock-bottom commitments at the end of the day, but you can hit Mike Behe's blog and do your damndest to find where he references Dembski's design filter. He doesn't make use of it, because his argument is off in a different direction in many ways.

VD,

The amount of magical thinking by those who decry magical thinking is truly astounding. And it is hilarious, as kh123 points out, that he appears to be one of those who somehow manage to simultaneously believe religion to be a) disproved by science, and, b) unfalsifiable.

Pretty much. Glad you asked him those questions, by the way. The answers say more than he probably hoped they would.

Blogger redlegben April 24, 2013 4:27 AM  

*Stickwick/Stingray

I can't keep you two straight. Who's the physicist? I've got too much mathematician going on. Give me a mnemonic device.

Blogger Crude April 24, 2013 4:28 AM  

VD,

Because that's the rhetorical debate. The evolutionary faithful won a rhetorical victory when they managed to get Popper to recant and declare that evolution is science, while repeatedly insisting themselves that creationism is not. That is why they are determined to drive home the "ID is not Science" mantra, because it threatens that rhetorical victory.

Sure, that much I get. I understand the rhetorical use of the Authority of Science routine, even when it's a complete load. And for what it's worth, I think ID is ultimately winning anyway. But for me, this 'call every good argument a scientific argument' bit is actually a major problem. Maybe it's a rhetorical mistake, but I'd rather oppose this BS view of science's authority than play along with it.

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 4:54 AM  

There's your talk of intention.

There is no talk of intention. If for every instance of microprocessors, each microprocessor has been at least in part the result of intelligent intervention, then that is a fact about microprocessors. We do not care what intelligences intended by acting in a manner to bring about the existence of microprocessors

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 4:56 AM  

... because what they intended has not got any relevance to whether they actually acted in a manner which brought about microprocessors.

Anonymous VD April 24, 2013 5:01 AM  

But for me, this 'call every good argument a scientific argument' bit is actually a major problem. Maybe it's a rhetorical mistake, but I'd rather oppose this BS view of science's authority than play along with it.

I agree. That's why I think it is wiser to attack the scientific status of evolution than claim it for ID.

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 5:09 AM  

The scientific status of evolution hinges critically upon the definition of science. That is another point at issue here.

If the sole criterion which renders theories scientific is that they only invoke particles, forces, and the void, then evolution is scientific and design theory cannot be.

If, however, the first criterion is combined with testability, then evolution cannot be scientific as its negation fails to be scientific.

I reject the first criterion.

Anonymous JohnR April 24, 2013 5:10 AM  

Redlegben: Stickwick is the scientist. Stingray is not. I think Stickwick's handle is the mnemonic device.

Anonymous DT April 24, 2013 5:24 AM  

I would like to add something, but...what can I possibly add to the smouldering crater where once Vox's opponent stood?

Blogger Crude April 24, 2013 5:26 AM  

Log,

There is no talk of intention. If for every instance of microprocessors, each microprocessor has been at least in part the result of intelligent intervention, then that is a fact about microprocessors.

Your talk of intention is built right in. Sure, I'll grant you that 'each microprocessor has been at least in part the result of intelligent intervention' - but I don't consider this a scientific claim either. It's one I agree with wholeheartedly, but it's not science.

... because what they intended has not got any relevance to whether they actually acted in a manner which brought about microprocessors.

If your only reference to designers is mechanistic action utterly stripped of all reference to intention, mind and intellect, you are left with a Rube Goldberg device. You're just describing blind mechanisms that just so happen to result in such a such a result - the Intelligent Design is gone in any meaningful sense of the term. But if you include the intentional, a mental state directed towards an end result, you're in philosophy of mind and metaphysics territory.

VD,

I agree. That's why I think it is wiser to attack the scientific status of evolution than claim it for ID.

Well, I agree with that too. A lot of the attack-evolution talk will come down to what you mean by evolution - I think Plantinga's recent book is pretty damn good on the subject of what's really problematic about evolution as it's often portrayed - but in general I gave up all the weird dogma that many theistic evolutionists are beholden to years ago. I'm not interested in pretending the state of evolutionary science is vastly better than it is or can reasonably hope to be, I'm sick of having to pretend that the limitations of evolutionary science don't matter, and I'm not about to pretend that a guy who denies common descent is somehow incapable of being a contributing member of society, or is even particularly hobbled when it comes to doing 99.9% of what could legitimately be called scientific research.

Not that you need to read all this - I just felt like ranting for a moment. Done for now.

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 5:31 AM  

Your talk of intention is built right in.

I have already demonstrated there is no reference to intent. All we look to is improbability and descriptive simplicity. We can speculate on reasons once those two features have been established.

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 5:32 AM  

Or, maybe I should take a page out of the Ilk's playbook and ask you directly to show me where "intent" can even in principle be read out of "improbability and descriptive simplicity."

Anonymous Red April 24, 2013 5:41 AM  

After reading a few books on genetics and realizing evolution added nothing to the field, I began to view evolution as a creation myth. I use arguments from it from time to time, but primarily it's just a tool to appeal to like the bible, the church, or history was in the past. People want a story for why things are as they are. Evolution caused it is just as easy as saying Allah willed it and it satisfies most people.

Blogger Taylor Kessinger April 24, 2013 5:43 AM  

@Crude: If it turns out junk DNA is abundant, well, evolution is an imperfect process - clearly ID is wrong. If it turns out junk DNA is not abundant, well, evolution is a purifying process, of course there wouldn't be an abundance of junk.

Well, the prediction here is that even if junk DNA turns out to be useful, evolutionists will simply shrug their shoulders, say "duh, of course it is!" and incorporate it into their theory.

This is a testable prediction, because when the ENCODE project's results came about last year, project members and the popular science press roundly proclaimed the "death" of junk DNA, asserting that non-coding DNA in the human genome overwhelmingly served a useful function.

Unfortunately for your hypothesis, the reaction from evolutionary biologists was the opposite of your prediction; they overwhelmingly questioned the validity of the research, since the idea that just about every site in the genome is under a selective constraint flies in the face of evolutionary theory (having a large amount of "junk" DNA does not incur that much of a fitness cost, and in organisms with low population sizes like large mammals, selection is not all that efficient), and since it is well known that the amount of non-coding DNA and the complexity of an organism are not well correlated at all. And indeed, they were right to do so; as Graur et al (2013) and Doolittle (2013) showed, the ENCODE Consortium's claims were not justified by their research.

Anonymous VD April 24, 2013 5:54 AM  

Unfortunately for your hypothesis, the reaction from evolutionary biologists was the opposite of your prediction; they overwhelmingly questioned the validity of the research

Thereby supporting my own hypothesis. I have always asserted the evolutionary biologists have so little scientific integrity that they will vehemently battle against all the evidence indicating that their holy theory is false, just as Thomas Kuhn describes in his Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

And indeed, they were right to do so; as Graur et al (2013) and Doolittle (2013) showed, the ENCODE Consortium's claims were not justified by their research.

That may well be. I haven't gone over the ENCODE Consortium's claims or the hasty attempts to attack them. But if you can't see that the clock is ticking and time is running out, your pattern recognition skills are sub-par. The battle between what we can reasonably describe as Mendelians and Darwinians is just beginning; the so-called "Synthesis" is breaking down.

Blogger Taylor Kessinger April 24, 2013 5:59 AM  

@VD: I have always asserted the evolutionary biologists have so little scientific integrity that they will vehemently battle against all the evidence indicating that their holy theory is false, just as Thomas Kuhn describes in his Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Well, on the one hand you claim this: on the other hand you've claimed (and the person to whom I was responding claimed) that evolution is a slippery and unscientific theory because it can explain just about any piece of possible evidence. Which one is it? Do evolutionists modify their theory to be consistent with all evidence, or do they protest against all evidence inconsistent with it? Is evolution falsified or unfalsifiable?

Anonymous Crude April 24, 2013 6:13 AM  

One last from me before I take off for a bit. Back later.

Log,

Or, maybe I should take a page out of the Ilk's playbook and ask you directly to show me where "intent" can even in principle be read out of "improbability and descriptive simplicity."

Sure, take the page. But you're going to have to complete the sentence. Specifically, you're going to have to show me a way where your reasoning leads you to infer intelligent design, while at no point making reference to intention - and 'designing', even arguably 'intelligent', are intention-laden concepts.

Again, you seem to think that the 'intent' problem only pops up if the intention is specific: 'Designer X made the bacterial flagellum in order to do Y.' But 'Someone designed the bacterial flagellum.', period, full stop, still involves intention. It's fundamental to the very concept of design. If you manage to remove all intention from design, you're left with no kind of design that ID proponents actually care about.

Anonymous Crude April 24, 2013 6:13 AM  

Taylor,

Well, the prediction here is that even if junk DNA turns out to be useful, evolutionists will simply shrug their shoulders, say "duh, of course it is!" and incorporate it into their theory.

I think that junk DNA being shown to be useful could be absorbed trivially by 'evolutionists'. This has already happened - some things previously regarded as 'junk' have turned out not to be so. There's no reason to expect that it couldn't happen with more. Evolutionary theory is nothing if not elastic (and it damn well better be, because if it wasn't, the only other option would be 'refuted' at this point.)

Unfortunately for your hypothesis, the reaction from evolutionary biologists was the opposite of your prediction; they overwhelmingly questioned the validity of the research

So, you tell me that my hypothesis entails the prediction that, if Junk DNA is found to be useful, 'evolutionists' will incorporate it into their theory. But your example involves scientists denying the usefulness of Junk DNA. This isn't much of a refutation of my claim, you realize.

Not to mention, this was a reaction from some evolutionary biologists - and quite a lot of that reaction was based on the wharblegarble of 'This is going to make the ID guys look good how could you DO this!' Go see Larry Moran talking about ENCODE. See how many of his posts about it can go without reference to ID proponents.

since the idea that just about every site in the genome is under a selective constraint flies in the face of evolutionary theory (having a large amount of "junk" DNA does not incur that much of a fitness cost, and in organisms with low population sizes like large mammals, selection is not all that efficient)

It doesn't 'fly in the face of evolutionary theory'. It flies in the face of a current understanding of evolutionary theory. Horizontal gene transfer, neutral evolution and symbiosis were also the Odd Man Out at each of their respective times as far as then-mainstream evolutionary theory went. What happened? They ended up being incorporated. But an increase in the amount of 'useful' junk DNA would be the dagger through the heart? C'mon.

It wasn't 'just about every site' anyway - instead it was around 80% according to ENCODE.

And indeed, they were right to do so; as Graur et al (2013) and Doolittle (2013) showed, the ENCODE Consortium's claims were not justified by their research.

By that you mean that people posted papers disputing ENCODE's results and their interpretations - in the Graur case, in a way so emotionally worked up that it managed to turn some heads for that reason alone - then sure. At this point it's largely reduced to squabbles about what does and doesn't count as a proper definition of function. If you want to go down that particular rabbit hole, by all means, jump - I'm not interested. It's about as interesting to me as archaeology is.

Anonymous VD April 24, 2013 6:15 AM  

Well, on the one hand you claim this: on the other hand you've claimed (and the person to whom I was responding claimed) that evolution is a slippery and unscientific theory because it can explain just about any piece of possible evidence. Which one is it? Do evolutionists modify their theory to be consistent with all evidence, or do they protest against all evidence inconsistent with it? Is evolution falsified or unfalsifiable?

It is both, Taylor. Do you not know your scientific history? They initially protest against all evidence inconsistent with it, in some cases even destroying the evidence. Only when they can no longer successfully hide, destroy, or deny the evidence do they then modify the theory rather than abandon it.

Notice that it doesn't matter how often geologists or archeologists change the current timescales involved, evolutionary theory is never called into question even when it becomes obvious that there simply isn't time for the necessary number of genetic mutations.

Do you seriously believe that if Haldane's famous rabbit fossils are found in the Precambrian that even ten percent of the evolutionary biologists would admit that the theory was false and abandon it? Would you, yourself, abandon it?

Anonymous Crude April 24, 2013 6:16 AM  

Taylor,

I'll also add on this little bit:

The ENCODE project involved quite a number of scientists. Show me one - just one scientist on the ENCODE team - who drew the conclusion that their findings falsified evolutionary theory.

These results were celebrated in a wide variety of newspapers, in Nature magazine, and elsewhere. Are you telling me that as of last year, quite a number of biologists and scientists believed they falsified evolutionary theory? Seriously?

Anonymous Myrddin April 24, 2013 6:35 AM  

"Do evolutionists modify theory to be consistent with all evidence, or do they protest against all evidence inconsistent with it?"

Yes.

Typically they begin with the second and retreat to the first, but occasionally they will only do one or the other. False dichotomy.

"Is evolution falsified or unfalsifiable? "

That's a different question. A thing may be falsifiable and yet its proponents unable to accept its falsification.

Blogger Rantor April 24, 2013 6:46 AM  

Thanks to VD. For this conversation over the last few days. I spent the weekend at a theological conference on the historicity of Adam. Most of the speakers were YECs, but we weren't there to discuss or debate that. (I have no problem with YEC, but tend to align with Old Earth Creationists for the time being)

In traditional, theological terms Adam has a significant role in the Bible and in the requirement for Jesus sacrifice as the Second Adam. The first Adam was formed by God and life breathed into him. We were and are wonderfully and beautifully made. What a blessing.

Many modern theologians try to reconcile evolution and Genesis, always to the detriment of Adam. Because of Adam, traditional Christians believe that we are all brothers, through Adam, through Noah for that matter and thus should love one another. This is not to argue that there are no cultural differences among people, only that we all, as humans created by God have value in His eyes.

Well that is dangerous Christianity. How about evolution, what hath it wrought? The eugenics movement of the early 1900s for starters. The inspiration for Adolph Hitler. The division of man into races which they no longer consider to be important, not because of science but because of where their theory led. Hate, murder, war and strife are the result of evolution and eugenics. Sanger's abortion mills are still killing in the US.

Williamson's answers show a desire to ignore the implications of his beloved theory and an inability to deal honestly with what he claims to be a better belief system.

Anonymous Tractor Dan April 24, 2013 6:50 AM  

And in the words of Tractor Dan, Dr. Sheldon Cooper can piss off. Geology is a science. Though it may be one the most subjective of the sciences, it still is. a. science.
But, if one did not believe in science and only believed in snarks, ghosts, demons, and clairvoyants, then I suppose I have a moot point.

Anonymous VD April 24, 2013 6:55 AM  

Is evolution falsified or unfalsifiable?

Sorry, I neglected to answer this. Evolution has not yet been falsified to my satisfaction. That is why I describe myself as a skeptic, not a denier. It should be falsifiable, but as it is presently adhered to and defended, it appears to be unfalsifiable. That is why it should not be considered a science, but rather, a quasi-scientific conceptual model.

Anonymous Logan April 24, 2013 6:55 AM  

"Williamson is engaging in the very intellectual dishonesty he falsely imputed to me by erroneously attempting to equate "creationists" with "people who believe reason and evidence don't matter". I am a creationist. I also believe that reason and evidence matter a very great deal indeed."

Well said, though I would add that it's an absolute textbook case of begging the question -- he's assuming to be true the very thing his interlocutor denies. If he believes that creationists don't believe that reason and evidence matter, he may want to, oh I don't know, give an argument to back up his claim.

Williamson knows that Vox is a creationist. Does he really believe that Vox doesn't care about reason and evidence? If so, then how does he account for the fact that Vox is engaging him in a rational discussion concerning the plausibility of TENS?? He knows that Vox cares about reason and evidence but claims the opposite, hence the intellectual dishonesty.

This is precisely why I have to make an effort not to read the comments of atheists on Youtube. So many of the brights love to give lip service to critical thinking, but their reasoning so often boils down to, "I'm right and you're wrong. Why? Well, because I'm right."

Anonymous LOL April 24, 2013 7:10 AM  

Society only functions when the majority of the people agree on basic fundamental ideas. A critical mass of people who believe reason and evidence don't matter is a slippery slope to tyranny.

Everybody must think the same, or we will have a terrible tyranny!

Massive, massive facepalm.

And this from the type of person who thinks reason and evidence don't matter when it comes to the application of evolutionary precepts to the behavior of certain human groups...

Anonymous Tom B April 24, 2013 7:20 AM  

"I believe the Creation story in the Bible is an interpretation/approximation because there's no way we could understand how God actually created the universe. There are studies indicating that humans can only really comprehend small numbers. Beyond a certain threshold, a surprisingly low one, everything higher is just "a lot." You see this most clearly in news stories, where $1 million, $1 billion and $1 trillion are pretty much interchangeable and if you told someone the President wasted $1 million or $1 billion, their reaction is the same. See also the attention on foreign aid in the budget. We cannot even come close to comprehending WHAT God created (the Universe), let alone HOW he did it."

There is another factor to throw into this equasion. Semitic peoples like the Israelites were not precise with their numbers in the way we 21st century members of Western Civilization are. They were much more interested in conveying the notion that there were a lot of something rather than noting the precise number.

Anonymous scoobius dubious April 24, 2013 7:28 AM  

Even if evolution turns out to be true, I don't see how that disproves or undermines Genesis. When God creates the living beings, He says, "let the Earth bring forth all manner of creatures." In other words, He created them by setting in motion a process. It says so, right there in the book. If evolution is that process, or if it turns out to be something more complex and mysterious, well, so be it. But evolution doesn't debunk God.

Blogger JD Curtis April 24, 2013 7:29 AM  

@ Crude & Log,

Would this experiment proposed by ID proponent Michael Behe be considered 'science'?

Blogger Taylor Kessinger April 24, 2013 7:39 AM  

@Crude: The ENCODE project involved quite a number of scientists. Show me one - just one scientist on the ENCODE team - who drew the conclusion that their findings falsified evolutionary theory. These results were celebrated in a wide variety of newspapers, in Nature magazine, and elsewhere. Are you telling me that as of last year, quite a number of biologists and scientists believed they falsified evolutionary theory? Seriously?

I'll grant you that probably very few people thought they outright falsified the theory of evolution, but a substantial number of people (on both sides) did think it was at odds with the theory. I don't think asking for strict falsification is a useful standard, but showing that a purported piece of evidence is problematic for a theory is pretty similar.

So, you tell me that my hypothesis entails the prediction that, if Junk DNA is found to be useful, 'evolutionists' will incorporate it into their theory. But your example involves scientists denying the usefulness of Junk DNA. This isn't much of a refutation of my claim, you realize.

Granted.

Not to mention, this was a reaction from some evolutionary biologists - and quite a lot of that reaction was based on the wharblegarble of 'This is going to make the ID guys look good how could you DO this!' Go see Larry Moran talking about ENCODE. See how many of his posts about it can go without reference to ID proponents.

Sure, but none of Moran's posts were to the effect of "your data strengthens the ID theorists, how could you this?" Rather, it was "the gross extent to which you've misrepresented your data strengthens the ID theorists, how could you do this?"

It doesn't 'fly in the face of evolutionary theory'. It flies in the face of a current understanding of evolutionary theory. Horizontal gene transfer, neutral evolution and symbiosis were also the Odd Man Out at each of their respective times as far as then-mainstream evolutionary theory went. What happened? They ended up being incorporated. But an increase in the amount of 'useful' junk DNA would be the dagger through the heart? C'mon.

Were any of these ideas reacted to with widespread vitriol or scoffing? Neutral theory handily took care of (what was then perceived to be) a pretty major problem for evolutionary theory, namely the substitutional load. As far as I can tell, it spread quickly in popularity. Anyway, I don't think junk DNA being mostly useful would outright falsify evolutionary theory, but it would be very hard to explain, and since junk DNA is often cited as evidence for the theory (it is what you'd expect given an imperfect and sloppy evolutionary "design" process), it would indeed weaken the theory.

Blogger Nate April 24, 2013 7:44 AM  

" Being both trained and well-read in economics, the reader can safely believe me, I know pseudo-science when I see it."

WINNING!

Blogger Taylor Kessinger April 24, 2013 7:49 AM  

@VD: It is both, Taylor. Do you not know your scientific history? They initially protest against all evidence inconsistent with it, in some cases even destroying the evidence. Only when they can no longer successfully hide, destroy, or deny the evidence do they then modify the theory rather than abandon it.

Your citation from this is a highly questionable claim from a young-earth creationist. Given my experience that young earth creationists are often unrepentant liars, I remain skeptical.

Notice that it doesn't matter how often geologists or archeologists change the current timescales involved, evolutionary theory is never called into question even when it becomes obvious that there simply isn't time for the necessary number of genetic mutations.

But this has never actually been made obvious. All one gets are models showing that, e.g., the waiting time between a given pair of mutations is very long, followed by sloppy extrapolating this to the entirety of adaptation. One example is Durrett and Schmidt (2008), which does precisely the former and was then used by Axe to claim the latter.

Do you seriously believe that if Haldane's famous rabbit fossils are found in the Precambrian that even ten percent of the evolutionary biologists would admit that the theory was false and abandon it? Would you, yourself, abandon it?

There would be a number of possible explanations for a rabbit fossil being found in the Precambrian, viz.:
1) Rabbits were alive during the Precambrian.
2) A modern rabbit fossil somehow snuck its way into Precambrian strata.
3) The fossil is a forgery.
If 1) were established, you would see a number of biologists continuing to adhere to the theory because the genetic evidence for it is still pretty good, and you'd also see a number of biologists throwing their hands up and saying "well, I have no idea," with some of those adhering to evolution because even a bad explanation can still be the best explanation, and a number of them rejecting evolution for the converse reason, because even the best explanation is not a good explanation. I don't know which fraction of biologists would fall into each camp, but it would be a major shakeup for the theory. I think I'd fall into the last one.

Blogger Nate April 24, 2013 7:54 AM  

Also... I don't watch the Big Bang Theory... but having taken geology in college... I am moved to agree.

Geology is even less a science than Biology is.

Blogger Nate April 24, 2013 7:59 AM  

"Your citation from this is a highly questionable claim from a young-earth creationist. Given my experience that young earth creationists are often unrepentant liars, I remain skeptical."

So... You haven't read much Dawkins then huh?

Blogger Nate April 24, 2013 8:01 AM  

Young Earth Creationist: Biologists are unrepentant liars.

Biologists: Young Earth Creationists are unrepentant liars.

Everyone: Why are the geologists drunk?

Anonymous VD April 24, 2013 8:16 AM  

Your citation from this is a highly questionable claim from a young-earth creationist. Given my experience that young earth creationists are often unrepentant liars, I remain skeptical.

Are you aware that the evolutionist accused, Glenn Kuban, has admitted to flying to Dallas from Dayton, Ohio and being in the river the very next day? Are you aware that there were two witnesses to him using "an iron bar" in the river?

This is far from the only case of evidence being destroyed and buried. Remain skeptical if you like. The facts are what they are.

But this has never actually been made obvious.

Come on. We are provided timelines all the time that we are expected to take seriously, until they are revised by when shown to have massive margins of error. It's a joke to anyone who pays attention.

If 1) were established, you would see a number of biologists continuing to adhere to the theory because the genetic evidence for it is still pretty good, and you'd also see a number of biologists throwing their hands up and saying "well, I have no idea," with some of those adhering to evolution because even a bad explanation can still be the best explanation, and a number of them rejecting evolution for the converse reason, because even the best explanation is not a good explanation. I don't know which fraction of biologists would fall into each camp, but it would be a major shakeup for the theory. I think I'd fall into the last one.

Well, it's good to know that apparently the theory is not COMPLETELY unfalsifiable, though obviously Haldane was an optimist. Look, you can certainly do as you see fit, but it's clear that you evolutionists will cling to your sacred theory more firmly than the average religious individual clings to their faith. Call that what you want, but it's certainly not science.

And the more firmly evolutionists cling to the theory and refuse to even look at the actual reason and evidence concerned, the more obvious that becomes to even the casual observer. And neither time nor science is on your side.

Anonymous DrTorch April 24, 2013 8:23 AM  

"After reading a few books on genetics and realizing evolution added nothing to the field, I began to view evolution as a creation myth."

That most certainly is the case. And when deconstructionism was hot in university campuses, you saw the aware biologists terrified that everyone was going to catch on.

Williamson's answers were weak, really week. Science is not his game. Neither is critical thought. At this point the only possibly interesting thing how much he can bench.

Anonymous Ayn Randian April 24, 2013 8:29 AM  

How is stickers on public school textbooks not fascist tryanny by a tiny minority of mystics?

Blogger Ashley April 24, 2013 8:39 AM  

Very funny comment y amishtom supporting Williams over at http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/blog/item/the-fail-it-burns#c

I had a person I have known on and off all my life tell me that I wasn't smarter than him, I just knew how to take standardized IQ tests well when we were kids and had probably studied for them, when I was generally in the shop building bicycles and reading military history or fiddling with guns and machine tools, not IQ test cheat books. He said it with a straight face. Some people really have no clue. "I don't agree with you, even though I don't actually understand your full view points, so therefore I am smarter than you..." And the beat goes on.

Keep giving them hell. When he has a backlog on his hobby businesses, an interesting trajectory through life with loads of varied experiences and skills, and is a noted published author...then, maybe, this feller is entitled to open his pie hole. As is you didn't even have to slaughter him, as he slaughtered himself with his own words. Hoisted by his own keyboard...

Anonymous Stickwick April 24, 2013 8:48 AM  

Physics destroys creation myths.

I wonder if Mr. Williamson believes the big bang theory is correct. If he does, then logically he cannot deny that the universe was created. The best physicists in the world have attempted to reconcile the overwhelming evidence that the universe had a beginning with mathematical models that somehow avoid a beginning, and have thrown up their hands in despair. As Alexander Vilenkin announced at Hawking's 70th birthday last year, "All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning." The article in New Scientist that describes the failure of these models requires a subscription, but as he can see from the title, physics affirms that there was a creation event. The only question remaining is who or what created the universe.

Either Creation is a tale told to Bronze Age peasants as a way to explain a universe they couldn't grasp, or this God person is running a serious long con.

It's wonderful he put it this way. Does Mr. Williamson realize that Genesis 1 makes 20+ scientifically-verifiable statements? It gets every single one of them correct, and in the correct order*. Let's put aside the inexplicable fact that the Bronze Age author of Genesis 1 somehow knew of these milestones in the development of the universe thousands of years before science discovered them, but instead just calculate the odds of Mr. Bronze Age getting them in the right order. The odds are at the very least 20! (twenty factorial), which is one in 2.4 x 10^18. Is it understatement to say that these odds strongly suggest some sort of divine revelation?

* Gerald Schroeder uses careful translation from the Hebrew as well as exegesis from ancient and medieval commentaries to show that, for instance, Genesis 1 is consistent with the Sun and the Moon appearing at the scientifically-correct times.

Blogger RandalThorn April 24, 2013 8:48 AM  

Vox, I was waiting allmost a whole year for this to come back on topic so I can share this with you.

I had a "discussion" with some peers of mine in a forum post about theology, one of them it was your average sceince fetishist Low Churchian and started trotting about how TE(p)NS destroyed the idea of God alltogether and that (by his own words) it was the PERFECT science, capable of answering all the questions it's polemists (the ID crowd he meant) have pushed in it's way.

I remembered your words:
"If you want to destroy them, focus on the science. What is the next animal to evolve? What is the next insect species to be created through this wondrous mechanism of TEpNS? What is the evidence for natural selection as opposed to sexual selection or any of the various options? How fast does TEpNS operate and what is the correct metric?

These are the relevant questions that still can't be answered after 150 years of the 'science'."


I possed them these questions and asked them to provide proof for them all, proof that their beloved th...hypothesis was not just one of the tons of educated guesses we have had in all of years in scientific inquiry dateing back to Aristotle that would be proven wrong with time and understanding, you know what happened?

What you yourself have observed to happen, atheists like monkeys launching filth left and right, attempting to change the topic to theology and claim that their theorum still has more evidence than mine and generally I heard a lot of angry words,acussations and stuff, but a real answer, that was the only thing I did not heard.

Just wanted to share this one with you.

Anonymous dh April 24, 2013 8:51 AM  

but rather, a quasi-scientific conceptual model

Can you give an example of another such model, from another field?

Anonymous VD April 24, 2013 8:54 AM  

Just wanted to share this one with you.

Thanks. I can't say I'm surprised.

Can you give an example of another such model, from another field?

The rational consumer in economics. It's in even worse shape, empirically, but it still serves as the basis for an awful lot of theories, models, and policies. It's nothing but a groundless assumption upon which a mass of "science" has been constructed.

Blogger Eric April 24, 2013 8:57 AM  

It is really far more logical to start by saying 'In the beginning God created heaven and earth' even if you only mean 'In the beginning some unthinkable power began some unthinkable process.' For God is by its nature a name of mystery, and nobody ever supposed that man could imagine how a world was created any more than he could create one. But evolution really is mistaken for explanation. It has the fatal quality of leaving on many minds the impression that they do understand it and everything else; just as many of them live under a sort of illusion that they have read the Origin of Species. - G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

Blogger Nate April 24, 2013 9:00 AM  

"Can you give an example of another such model, from another field?"

Geology

"Processes that can be observed at work today, have always been at work."

Its a ridiculous assumption on its face... but never the less it serves for literally the whole foundation of the so-called science.

Blogger Markku April 24, 2013 9:04 AM  

Interestingly enough, I took one of those online "IQ tests" and scored about the same as I did on the Mensa tests. Assuming I barely scraped by in the latter.

Interesting. I got somewhere between 140 and 150 (can't remember exactly) but I wrote it off as bullshit, since I was told that I was merely slightly over average in an IQ-like test when I applied to Nokia.

However, I didn't ask them to specify if I was slightly over average in the total population, or in that group of applicants tested at the same time.

Anonymous Sigyn April 24, 2013 9:06 AM  

Well, while you guys are chasing the science, I'm noticing this:

Society only functions when the majority of the people agree on basic fundamental ideas. A critical mass of people who believe reason and evidence don't matter is a slippery slope to tyranny.

Laying aside that most people actually don't care about evidence and never have, regardless of their underlying religious beliefs or lack thereof, this sounds to me like a call for a state-endorsed "church" (or religion, or philosophy, or whatever it needs to be called).

Anonymous A. Man April 24, 2013 9:07 AM  

"Do you honestly think that a Catholic school with priests as teachers would discount Genesis?"

Of course they would. And they probably do on a daily basis. They probably discount a great deal in the bible by brushing right past things.

Whether it's the contradictions, the incoherent and frightening morals exhibited or the base inaccuracies about how the world works, it's hard to read or teach the bible without encountering these things.

The thing is, we generally don't expect a great deal of accuracy from mythic tales. And we are often willing to brush by much of the barbarism we find in them.

We simply don't expect an inerrant picture drawn by the various myths and holy books. We expect them to provide examples of how earlier peoples attempted to understand what was beyond their then intellectual capabilities and the unknowns.

Yet, across the globe, and particularly here in the U.S., we have these pockets of Christians who still make up tortured and twisted rationales for why the inconsistencies, errors and bad judgment found in their bible don't mean what we know they mean: The bible is not an accurate rendering of history, science, moral decision making or the future.

Anonymous Mike M. April 24, 2013 9:07 AM  

All this being said, creationists do NOT pose a significant threat to society. Any serious student of history knows that religion has a stabilizing effect on society. It provides a code of behavior with better provenance than the whim of the legislature, backed by inescapable punishment and undeniable reward.

It works better than worshiping the State and Maximum Leader.

Anonymous dh April 24, 2013 9:14 AM  

that religion has a stabilizing effect on society.

I think that this is true for the correct definition of religion.

Anonymous Stickwick April 24, 2013 9:18 AM  

How is stickers on public school textbooks not fascist tryanny by a tiny minority of mystics?

And what did those stickers say? Anything to which any person guided by reason and evidence would object? Let's see:

"This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

Isn't this how everyone is supposed to approach all scientific ideas? How interesting, then, that the judge who ruled on the constitutionality of these stickers declared that requiring such a statement on textbooks was "promoting religious dogma." What are students supposed to do, approach science with a closed mind, don't bother to study it carefully, and accept what they're told uncritically? Furthermore, the statement that evolution is a theory regarding the origin of living things is unbelievably charitable, given that, to my knowledge anyway, evolution has yet to come up with even a strong hypothesis regarding the origin of life.

Anonymous Josh April 24, 2013 9:19 AM  

The bible is not an accurate rendering of history, science, moral decision making or the future.

Where has the Bible been proven to be historically inaccurate?

Is the order of creation described in Genesis different from what science has discovered?

What other parts of history have you decided to reject due to a lack of evidence?

Anonymous Josh April 24, 2013 9:20 AM  

evolution has yet to come up with even a strong hypothesis regarding the origin of life.

Primordial ooze doesn't do it for you?

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 24, 2013 9:23 AM  

@A-man "On thing is absolutely true: Advancements in the understanding of the natural world have completely destroyed he biblical creation myth, as well as other claims made in the bible"

Please. Every time I hear this I shake my head. Folks, the 24-Hour, 6-day, 6-10K years ago interpretation of the Genesis account i.e.: The YEC has really only been the dominant one for a little over 100 years. It was actually dragged over from Seventh Day Adventism by the infamous Dr. Henry Morris.

The Old Earth interpretation of the Genesis account is quite exegetically sound. I would defy A-Man to explain how modern science wrecks it.

Even forgetting the Old-Young timing, I'd like to see how A-Man thinks even the sequence of events described in Genesis doesn't dovetail with what an Observer on the surface of the Earth would have seen based on what we know.

OpenID akatsukami April 24, 2013 9:28 AM  

"The bible is not an accurate rendering of history, science, moral decision making or the future."

Translated from Progressive:

"The Tanakh and the Nazarene Codicil do not describe the world the way I would like it to be, so I'm going to ignore them."

Anonymous QuestionTadAsher April 24, 2013 9:29 AM  

... and A. Man uses up one of his 7 posts with yet another cut-and-paste job. Wonderful. Only 6 more to go...

Blogger tz April 24, 2013 9:32 AM  

A critical mass of people who believe reason and evidence don't matter is a slippery slope to tyranny. True. Those who would impose rather than discuss and argue their opinion are the tyrants, and in every debate, the creationists present evidence and reason, and the evolutionists go ad-hominem, or directly attack. Expelled shows their view about evidence and reason. The side with evidence and reason can tolerate dissent. Those holding onto myths must use force.

I'd like to see someone explain the "intelligence" behind a human foot, which no longer works as an effective grasper, and is not nearly as effective as a hoof for walking. Without modern footwear, we're prone to serious mechanical failure of the joints and bone, usually shortly after our prime reproductive time. This is a howler. Read any modern work on running. Modern footwear is why knees get injured. The arch is like a leaf spring taking the stress of the whole weight of the body. Barefoot runners end up with thickened skins (like the pads of a dog) and have no trouble except with really sharp objects. The arch was designed to take the stress of running, the knees weren't. And except for those few old piano 4 hands works, we have enough grasping ability with two.

On design in general Behe and others have presented more than enough. Dismissing is not reason. It might be reasonable to disagree, but counter reason with reason, evidence with evidence. Rhetoric won't get very far, especially here.

There are no shortage of those who would have a serious discussion and debate here, but it would br reason and evidence. That is likely why the Fowl Atheist won't consent. Perhaps he now has another member of the flock?

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 24, 2013 9:33 AM  

For folks that would like to see what the Old Earth Interpretation of Genesis looks like on a time line:

Creation Timeline Chart

Anonymous Stickwick April 24, 2013 9:35 AM  

Folks, the 24-Hour, 6-day, 6-10K years ago interpretation of the Genesis account i.e.: The YEC has really only been the dominant one for a little over 100 years.

It's important to note that there is only one error in this interpretation of Genesis. Schroeder shows that a literal 24-hour, 6-day interpretation is quite sound, both theologically and in terms of the physics. The key is whether adding the six days of creation to the 6-10k years that are counted after is theologically correct. Turns out it is not. The Jewish calendar has always kept the six days of Genesis 1 separate, because there is something special about them. What's special about them is that they are described, not from the point of view of earthly humans (Adam doesn't show up until halfway through Day 6), but from the perspective of God, who is the sole observer during the first 5.5 days. In terms of modern physics, we have to be very careful about frames of reference when describing the passage of time. The six days of Genesis are described from God's FoR; once Adam shows up, time is described from man's FoR. With this understanding, it's a straightforward matter to reconcile six days with 14 billion years.

Blogger tz April 24, 2013 9:36 AM  

Oh, and do read history. St Ignatius of Loyola started something with his Jesuits. Some of the greatest but less known scientists were Jesuits - like Pope Francis. The church was doing science - real science - all this time trying to better understand creation so much the better to glorify God.

Anonymous Godfrey April 24, 2013 9:40 AM  

Disappointing, I've come to realize it's all more about their personal hates than about reason, evidence or science. I'm sure there are many better representatives for the evolution argument than this.

Anonymous buzzcut April 24, 2013 9:40 AM  

I come for the knowledge, I stay for the beatdowns.

Anonymous Salt April 24, 2013 9:48 AM  

@Stickwick

I've read that time is actually slowing down, perhaps due to Universe expansion. I think that was also Schroeder, if I'm remembering the right person. He also described how one could live hundreds of years, all framed within the realm of physics.

Anonymous VD April 24, 2013 9:49 AM  

Disappointing, I've come to realize it's all more about their personal hates than about reason, evidence or science. I'm sure there are many better representatives for the evolution argument than this.

Are you kidding? 99.8th percentile, Godfrey. Three Standard freaking Deviations above average! Statistically speaking, this is very, very close to the best that they've even theoretically got!

Anonymous 15er April 24, 2013 9:51 AM  

Honest question, how is a reply along the lines of not knowing the intent of the designer a "cop out"?

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 24, 2013 9:51 AM  

Good point Stickwick. The first part of Genesis is written from God's point of view...the observer hovering over the surface of the Earth. Schroeder makes a good point about the separation of the calendars.

The Old Earth interpretation is one of the three major interpretations (YEC and Literary Framework being the other two).

The day-age interpretation of the text is certainly within the usage limits of the Hebrew word translated as "day", Yom; which has at least as much flexibility as "day" does in English.

Also, due to the words translated as father/son in the Genesis later timeline actually being more correctly rendered as "ancestor"/"descendant" gives a spread of more like 6-60 thousand years instead of 6-10KYA.

Anonymous DrTorch April 24, 2013 9:54 AM  

I come for the knowledge, I stay for the beatdowns.

Heh. That's about right.

Still, Williamson could make it up w/ a decent bench press. I'm still waiting.

Anonymous CrazyDiamond April 24, 2013 9:58 AM  

I'll just take a stab at one of the questions posed, although it isn't a full answer. I have no idea what the average number of mutations required for speciation is, and I'm not sure anyone does (how would you even get a representative sample to assess this?) but the minimum seems to be one gene -- many snails have the right-handedness/left-handedness of their shell determined by one gene, and right-handed snails usually cannot mate with left-handed snails, because the positions of genitals and such don't line up.

You can probably find more with Google, but here's a paper discussing the possible advantages of left-handedness (protection from predators specialized for eating right-handed snails) that may allow them to survive and reproduce even in a very small initial population, and establish a larger population of a new species.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3105295/

Anonymous SkepticSkeptic April 24, 2013 9:58 AM  

http://www.forteantimes.com/features/articles/5593/phantom_time.html

It's not like even our sense of time is 100% reliable. Check out "phantom time" ...the idea that the Dark Ages was faked and never happened. See link above.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 24, 2013 10:00 AM  

"Still, Williamson could make it up w/ a decent bench press. I'm still waiting."

That would work too, I'm thinking I need to see 250lbs or more, what do you think Doctor?

Anonymous jay c April 24, 2013 10:01 AM  

I'm a skeptic of every creation myth, especially TENS, but my default position is YEC. The points that led me to this place:

1. When I was younger (~15-30 yo), every time I investigated any apparently dubious historical claim in the Bible, it turned out not to be so dubious after all.
2. Later (~30-today) my Torah studies showed me a level of depth, complexity, and reliability in Scripture that seem to me extremely unlikely to have been the product of neolithic mysticism and bronze age manipulation.
3. The wording of Genesis 1-3 appears to be intended to be taken literally and the plain meaning seems to preclude any "long age" interpretation. Given 1 & 2, I'm willing to trust that there is evidence we don't have yet that will prove out the Biblical text once again.
4. A dogmatic belief in naturalistic evolution seems to be symptomatic of some form of brain injury or innate mental retardation that hinders the evolutionist's ability to detect and interpret patterns in the natural world. (See Shimshon's observation re flagella and many years' worth of Darwin's kryptonite at CREV.)

Blogger Joshua_D April 24, 2013 10:01 AM  

I don't believe Mr. Williamson is +3 SD, or he's a liar. I mean, I'm sure I'm not +3 SD, and it was obvious that his answers weren't answers at all.

Anonymous Stickwick April 24, 2013 10:01 AM  

I've read that time is actually slowing down, perhaps due to Universe expansion. I think that was also Schroeder, if I'm remembering the right person.

Time is dilated by the expansion of the universe; this is only perceived when comparing the flow of time in one epoch to another. This is standard cosmological physics, and I have to account for it in my research or none of what I do makes any sense. Schroeder simply applies this cosmological model to the ancient Jewish interpretation of Genesis 1. He notes that God, as the sole observer for the first 5.5 days and looking forward in time from Day 1, marks 5.5 literal 24-hour days while we here on Earth, necessarily looking backward in time, mark 14 billion years or so. Because the universe has been expanding all along, and thus stretching out the flow of time, each Genesis day from our earthly perspective encompasses less and less cosmic time.

Anonymous Noah B. April 24, 2013 10:02 AM  

"I'm sure there are many better representatives for the evolution argument than this."

I would consider myself to be one of them, although it doesn't sound like my position differs all that greatly from Vox's.

Anonymous jay c April 24, 2013 10:03 AM  

But every single one - literally everyone - discounts the Genesis creation myth.

Is this at all typical?


I think it's a case of hanging around people who tend to be more like you. Almost every Christian I know and with whom I have discussed the issue, is a young earth creationist.

Anonymous Tractor Dan April 24, 2013 10:05 AM  

There is a difference between structural, mining, hydro, geophysical, and paleo geologist's. The levels of science applied to each of the fields is different. As a structural guy, I apply a great deal of engineering to my work, that is to say, we have to substantially prove that bedrock is safe to construct on by various testing procedures following scientific method. A paleo guy, not so much, they have their own set of standards that I won't pretend to understand. There is a difference in the discipline.
That said, some sciences are more subjective than others and some geologist's are bigger drunkards than others. We like us some cold beer and strong bourbon. And piss off, Sheldon Cooper.

Anonymous Josh April 24, 2013 10:05 AM  

Honesty, I doubt that many of the evolutionists have ever studied cosmology. Or are even capable of understanding that perspective matters when it comes to time.

Blogger Joshua Dyal April 24, 2013 10:05 AM  

Just a minor correction--the Wilson presidency was a clear case of tyranny. Jonah Goldberg, in fact, makes a compelling case for it being the FIRST fascist government in the world.

Anonymous The other skeptic April 24, 2013 10:14 AM  

"Mr President, if you are on TV reading a book to children when this thing goes down, no one will suspect you're involved" the CIA man said with an air of exasperation.

"Ok, Carl, I'll do it" the President agreed finally, "but I don't like reading to the pleb's rugrats. They're so dumb they make me wanna puke."

Anonymous DrTorch April 24, 2013 10:15 AM  

"That would work too, I'm thinking I need to see 250lbs or more, what do you think Doctor?"

250lbs is certainly good, but I think it would take 275lbs to really impress.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 24, 2013 10:23 AM  

Can't argue with that, Doctor. Especially given that he's got a hardcore rep to validate: a purveyor of wereseal romance can get by with a couple of (proper) pushups, but Mike produces some reasonably Hooah! fare, so yeah, 275 is a good mark.

Mike ZW: video works, bit pics will suffice in a pinch. Points deducted for lifting your butt.

Anonymous Razoraid April 24, 2013 10:23 AM  

About the only thing I agree with Hawkins' is as follows:

What do you think most about during the day?
"Women. They are a complete mystery."

Anonymous DrTorch April 24, 2013 10:25 AM  

"http://www.forteantimes.com/features/articles/5593/phantom_time.html

It's not like even our sense of time is 100% reliable. Check out "phantom time" ...the idea that the Dark Ages was faked and never happened. See link above."

Pretty interesting. Just wonder if astronomy, and/or other calendar systems could prove/disprove this.

Anonymous Josh April 24, 2013 10:27 AM  

Just a minor correction--the Wilson presidency was a clear case of tyranny. Jonah Goldberg, in fact, makes a compelling case for it being the FIRST fascist government in the world.

Only because Goldberg doesn't want to tarnish the reputation of King Lincoln.

Anonymous Mr. B.A.D. April 24, 2013 10:28 AM  

proponents of barefoot running swear that it is our reliance on shoes that leads to crippling back and legs problems latter in life. They cite the many historically documented barefoot runners

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barefoot_running

and did you see this string theory guy who says he found internet code in string theory equations?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1LCVknKUJ4

Anonymous The other skeptic April 24, 2013 10:34 AM  

I'll just take a stab at one of the questions posed, although it isn't a full answer. I have no idea what the average number of mutations required for speciation is, and I'm not sure anyone does (how would you even get a representative sample to assess this?) but the minimum seems to be one gene -- many snails have the right-handedness/left-handedness of their shell determined by one gene, and right-handed snails usually cannot mate with left-handed snails, because the positions of genitals and such don't line up.

To answer that question, it seems we have to understand:

1. The definition of a mutation, but more importantly,

2. The definition of speciation.

Since speciation is a slippery concept, in that there are several definitions in biology, the one appropriate to speciation is probably reproductive isolation.

Now, if, due to mistakes during meiosis a fusion of two chromosomes were to occur, would this be considered a mutation, and by who?

Anonymous Razoraid April 24, 2013 10:41 AM  

Blah. ***Hawking's***

Anonymous Redneck Joe April 24, 2013 10:47 AM  

Comment from Williamson's blog after his answers to Vox:
"Keep giving them hell. When he has a backlog on his hobby businesses, an interesting trajectory through life with loads of varied experiences and skills, and is a noted published author...then, maybe, this feller is entitled to open his pie hole. As is you didn't even have to slaughter him, as he slaughtered himself with his own words. Hoisted by his own keyboard..."

I'm not kidding.

Anonymous Spoos in August April 24, 2013 10:52 AM  

The worst thing about Lincoln is that he could have entirely avoided the Civil War. Evacuate Fort Sumter, instead of trying to resupply it, thus negating the casus belli. Virginia stays in the Union, and the seceding states, stripped of their tariff-free Yankee market for cotton, have a harder time economically.

Eventually, especially after it becomes clear that Lincoln won't dismantle slavery in the states which remained within the Union, the states of the Confederacy petition to rejoin the Union. Constitutional crisis and unwarranted expansion of federal power are thus averted.

It's not that implausible an alternate history, really. The Southern states were economically hurting before the Civil War, and secession would not have changed that (arguably, sovereign control of money would have precipitated a monetary crisis due to the temptation to print money to paper over the issues). The other great irony of the Civil War is that John Wilkes Booth made Reconstruction worse than it would have been; Lincoln was avuncular compared to the Radical Republicans who wound up running the show.

Anonymous the bandit April 24, 2013 11:18 AM  

Stickwick, just wanted to confirm the work of Schroeder's that you're referring to in regards to the correct order on the cosmological timeline is Genesis and the Big Bang, yes?

Anonymous Stickwick April 24, 2013 11:41 AM  

@ the bandit: The Science of God explains the timeline. He also has an article on his website that explains the basic ideas that are explored in greater detail in TSoG.

Anonymous scoobius dubious April 24, 2013 11:42 AM  

One of the non-scientific ideas that I always found persuasive about the Bible as being the authentic voice of the one true God (and not some "random made-up Bronze Age tribal god") is that his personality and voice are so unique, so unlike the other tribal gods of the time. Zeus and Odin and Shiva and so forth don't say the sorts of things God says. Other creation myths don't sound like Genesis, they're usually like, "Then the moon married the sun and a giant egg was born, and when the egg hatched the earth came out," stuff like that.

Genesis simply doesn't sound like a guy sitting around a campfire, just making stuff up.

Anonymous G.Veil April 24, 2013 11:42 AM  

That isn't really fair to Lincoln's situation, if he does evacuate Fort Sumter then he essentially concedes and acknowledges the Confederate's ability to dictate to the rightful Federal Government. How can you call yourself a Head of State and fearfully concede to a militarily inferior opponent? As for the belief that the South would have crawled back to the Union while true I would question whether that really settles the deeper issues. Most importantly whether the states have the ability to up and leave the Union whenever they wish. While I agree that it is an entirely plausible alternate history I question whether it solves anything in the long term. I think Lincoln was an excellent President who accomplished a great deal under extremely trying circumstances. Do not blame the sins of other men at the feet of Lincoln, he paved the way, they chose the road

Anonymous LL April 24, 2013 11:43 AM  

I am simultaneously amused and alarmed at how quickly you all get your geek on.

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 11:49 AM  

Sure, take the page. But you're going to have to complete the sentence. Specifically, you're going to have to show me a way where your reasoning leads you to infer intelligent design, while at no point making reference to intention - and 'designing', even arguably 'intelligent', are intention-laden concepts.

I point you again, for the third time, to this paper, wherein it is explained how "high improbability and low descriptional complexity" gives warrant to infer design without reference to intent on the part of the designer.

Now answer my question.

Blogger Log April 24, 2013 12:01 PM  

And, let me be clear - your task is to show where intent is smuggled into either "high improbability" or "descriptional simplicity (algorithmic compressibility)" or both.

Anonymous Spoos in August April 24, 2013 12:11 PM  

...I would question whether that really settles the deeper issues. Most importantly whether the states have the ability to up and leave the Union whenever they wish...

If they didn't, then Lincoln was arguably guilty of treason, for waging war against the United States (Article 3, Section 3), and if they did, he usurped the Congressional prerogative to declare war (Article 1, Section 8). Lincoln marks the beginning of the Imperial Presidency, and, whatever his intentions, he set some very bad precedents.

Secession is a needed counterweight to the power of the federal government, as is nullification. States cannot otherwise guard the undelegated powers reserved to them and their peoples, because, in a federation where leaving is not permitted, the usurpation of sovereign power from both member states and people is inevitable. With the states largely dependent on the federal trough, the people have no intercessor to guard them from abuse by Leviathan.

Anonymous Jack Amok April 24, 2013 12:11 PM  

Lincoln's faults don't excuse Wilson's. Woodrow Wilson's government was indeed the first 20th Century fascist government.

Anonymous scoobius dubious April 24, 2013 12:18 PM  

"States cannot otherwise guard the undelegated powers reserved to them and their peoples"

Oh there's no need to guard those undelegated powers, they're long gone.

Anonymous JRL April 24, 2013 12:29 PM  

Society only functions when the majority of the people agree on basic fundamental ideas.

The idea here is essentially correct.


Anonymous redsash April 24, 2013 12:30 PM  

Vox, your number of animal species leaves out fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, birds, and one celled organisms. Also, the earth may be 4.54 billion years old, but I believe evolutionist claim that a one celled organism emerged from the slime much later. For living species I have numbers ranging from 8.7 million to 11.3 million, throw in a number for extinct species (logic and reason indicates that it is much easier to destroy a species than to create one), and one could easily arrive at a figure of 12 million species of life having existed at one time or another. Creationist appear to believe that life appeared 3.5 billion years ago. 3,500,000,000 divided by 12,000,000 equals 291.6 species evolving each year.

New species numbering 261 each year by simple arithmetical progression. If one is stupid enough to assume that each species is capable of evolving into another species, and goes with geometrical progression, we would be looking at new species of life appearing every few minutes. And yet, I am the illogical one for believing that Jesus created the earth and all it contains in six days.

Anonymous Spoos in August April 24, 2013 12:31 PM  

Oh there's no need to guard those undelegated powers, they're long gone.

Which rather proves my point. Secession has been considered de facto insurrection since the Civil War, and so no one has seriously threatened it. And now the federal government does whatever it wants, under the guise of "penumbras" and other such judicial augury.

This isn't about worshipping the Framers, but it's important to recognize that they were essentially correct to surmise that the demos alone is not very capable of restraining any state, and that the state must be pitted against itself, and against other states in order to maintain the allostatic mechanisms required for stable government.

Anonymous G.Veil April 24, 2013 12:31 PM  

Show me where in the Constitution that grants the states the authority to secede from the Union, irregardless of whether Lincoln believed the states had or could secede they were in direct defiance of the rightful government that had lawfully elected Lincoln who was their rightful President. Simply because I don't like Obama or agree with his policies doesn't mean I can ignore them or his authority. As to usurping the Congressional prerogative of declaring war I would point out that by firing on those resupply ships the Confederates declared war for him, do you expect Lincoln to sit idly by and wait on Congress for the proper procedure while the Confederates seize Federal assets?

Blogger Markku April 24, 2013 12:32 PM  

Ah, geek out!
Le geek, c'est chic

Anonymous BAJ April 24, 2013 12:35 PM  

What I find fascinating is that neurons can be modeled mathematically in a computer. This leads to the notion that, in principle, an entire brain could be modeled. And therefore, the entirity of human thought could be represented through mathematics. So, given this fact, would it not seem to indicate that math's existence lies outside the realm of human consciousness and is therefore an expression of its Creator?

Anonymous Josh April 24, 2013 12:36 PM  

Oh hell.

Folks, round one is OT...

Anonymous Sheeshyarbooti April 24, 2013 12:39 PM  

"Show me where in the Constitution that grants the states the authority to secede from the Union..."

It's right there in the MPAI section.

Anonymous David April 24, 2013 12:43 PM  

"And to the extent that people even think about the biblical creation myth, it's likely only as a matter of tradition and curiosity. But it's just not taken seriously by most people, regardless of what they say."

LOL, this comment is the most stupid and absurd thing A. Man has said yet. According to A. Man, we CANNOT know whether people take the Biblical creation story seriously by ASKING them. In other words, most people who SAY they take the Biblical creation story seriously are...lying.

And we know this how? Again A. Man absurdly implies he can read minds, and that he can reach past surface thoughts to really get deep into their inner thoughts...and find the truth.

So we can forget polling and surveys, even if they are conducted with the most rigorous statistical standards. Apparently all those people who say they believe Biblical creation...are lying just to spite A. Man and make him look bad.

Blogger RobertT April 24, 2013 12:44 PM  

"Society only functions when the majority of the people agree on basic fundamental ideas."

In other words, Williamson thinks that civilizations are most vibrant when they reach a state of equilibrium, or atrophy. Others define that state as "death." Also, it is my understanding that quantum physics has proved mathematically that even chaotic systems, such as a wildfire, are inherently organized in repeating fractals, but are looking for the best alternate form which they will ultimately emerge into. In any event, Williamson's favored civilization would be a dying civilization.

Anonymous Josh April 24, 2013 12:45 PM  

irregardless

This is not a word.

Anonymous Tallen April 24, 2013 12:52 PM  

Show me where in the Constitution that grants the states the authority to secede from the Union

Authority is not granted to the Federal Government within the Constitution to permit/force secession of any State(s) therefore it seems to me that Amendment X applies:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Blogger Brad Andrews April 24, 2013 12:54 PM  

@Myrrdon,

That is the exact thing that pushes this whole issue to the forefront of my mind. I can't see how I make enterprises less safe because I hold to the YEC view. Nor do I see how it impacts the code I wrote in the past, some of which I believe is still in use!

You may not win the Obfuscated Perl contest without banging your head on the keyboard to produce it, but even that takes a lot of though and design.

dh,

Many Christians do not believe the first part of Genesis is really true because they have been swayed to believe otherwise. I think it matches the post by VD a while back about watching how much you immerse yourself in the modern media narrative. Hearing something over and over sways you, whether it is right or wrong. I am bullheaded enough to buck that trend in many ways, but most are not. (And I have to watch it myself!)

Blogger Brad Andrews April 24, 2013 12:55 PM  

@RobertT,

Most holding his views are far more intolerant than any they oppose.

Anonymous Spoos in August April 24, 2013 12:58 PM  

As to usurping the Congressional prerogative of declaring war I would point out that by firing on those resupply ships the Confederates declared war for him, do you expect Lincoln to sit idly by and wait on Congress for the proper procedure while the Confederates seize Federal assets?

You've contradicted yourself. Either states have the right to secede, and thus reclaim their sovereign power to declare war (which the Constitution delegates to Congress), or the attack on Fort Sumter was not an act of war, but an act of insurrection. Incidentally, Congress also retains the power to call forth the militia to deal with insurrections. The militia, not the army.

If the seceding states remained in the Union, then Lincoln's actions should have precipitated an indictment for treason, as he was waging war against them, not using the militia to quell an insurrection. Any way you slice it, Lincoln did not act within the remand of his office, setting the precedent that, in times of "crisis," it is perfectly acceptable to break the rules. Would it really have been so difficult to round up enough members of Congress to form a quorum to vote on the issue of federalizing the militia? I think not.

I will give you a hint: the correct answer is that states reserve the sovereign power to secede, and Lincoln should have acted with more restraint to avoid needless loss of American life.

Anonymous Tallen April 24, 2013 12:58 PM  

http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/irregardless

Blogger Nate April 24, 2013 1:07 PM  

FFS... (see urban dictionary)

How many times do we have to humiliate the historically ignorant anti-self-determination crowd?

Anonymous robwbright April 24, 2013 1:25 PM  

"Show me where in the Constitution that grants the states the authority to secede from the Union"

Wow. Absolutely no understanding of the Constitution or history at all.

If you observe party "A" delegating a task/responsibility to party "B", which one would you think is the boss?

The states delegated power to fedgov and specifically reserved all remaining powers to themselves. Which is more legally powerful? States or fedgov?

Further, if party "A" agrees to join a union with several other parties - and absent a specific waiver of right to withdraw - is party "A" bound to remain in that union forever and ever?

All practically irrelevant now, of course, but the lack of understanding on this issue is amazing. Public schools have certainly done their job.

Anonymous A. Man April 24, 2013 1:25 PM  

"the correct answer is that states reserve the sovereign power to secede, and Lincoln should have acted with more restraint to avoid needless loss of American life."

The states are sovereign, yet they may not regulate commerce between other sovereign powers (states), nor enact treaties with other sovereign powers. That's a weird and unusual kind of sovereignty.

No. The Constitution is quite clear that the states are not sovereign powers with the right to secede any more than the Bronx may secede from the state of NY.

Anonymous Objectivist April 24, 2013 1:27 PM  

new species of bacteria and viruses come into existance every year

in fact, just look at the common cold or the flu ...a new species of bird flu has evolved in china last week

thus the evolution of new species is rather common, as per the examples above

this is common sense and common knowledge to those of us who follow reason... instead of dusty, ancient mystical tomes

Blogger Nate April 24, 2013 1:40 PM  

A.Man is on the side of the union.

About 20 yankee sympathizers are now totally rethinking their position just based on that one revelation.

Anonymous Spoos in August April 24, 2013 1:47 PM  

The states are sovereign, yet they may not regulate commerce between other sovereign powers (states), nor enact treaties with other sovereign powers. That's a weird and unusual kind of sovereignty.

Because they have delegated certain powers to the federal government in order to better provide for the common defense and welfare of the several states and their citizens.

No. The Constitution is quite clear that the states are not sovereign powers with the right to secede any more than the Bronx may secede from the state of NY.

Where, explicitly, does the Constitution prohibit secession? Keep in mind that the ratification of the Constitution was an act of secession on the part of nine states.

[N]ew species of bacteria and viruses come into existance every year...

Defining species of bacteria and viruses, which do not reproduce sexually as most multicellular eukaryotes do, is quite difficult. The concept of a bacterial species is more valid than that of a viral species, since bacteria can horizontally transfer plasmids, and this is generally more easily accomplished between bacteria with compatible "sex pili." However, other methods of bacterial horizontal gene transfer exist, muddying the waters.

A better example would be the reproductive isolation of a hybrid population of Galapagos finches, which has since died out. Nascent species (operating under the reproductive incompatibility definition) may be emerging all the time; however, they face stiff competition from existing species.

It is worth noting, here, that chromosome number and arrangement seems likely to be a major driver of primate evolution, and is far more likely a source of initial divergence, given the mechanism of sexual reproduction, than randomly-accrued point mutations.

Anonymous jay c April 24, 2013 1:52 PM  

Variations on a theme, Objectivist. Viruses do not become bacteria and bacteria do not become fungi.

Besides, claiming that a new variety of bird flu is a new species is specious, not to mention irrelevant. It's just a new variety of the same species. It's irrelevant because even the most ardent young earth creationists don't dispute the concept of speciation via mutations and natural selection.

Anonymous RedJack April 24, 2013 1:53 PM  

Creation, Lincoln,.. All we need is Japan invading LA and we've hit it all!

Back on topic. So the guys problem with Christians is that it violates his religion, and he wants them tried for blasphemy.

Got to love it.

Anonymous jay c April 24, 2013 1:53 PM  

And the definition of "species" when it comes to influenza seems to be even more arbitrary than with other life forms.

Anonymous jay c April 24, 2013 1:54 PM  

RedJack, why would Japan want to invade Louisiana anyway?

Anonymous RedJack April 24, 2013 1:56 PM  

redsash April 24, 2013 12:30 PM Vox, your number of animal species leaves out fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, birds, and one celled organisms. Also, the earth may be 4.54 billion years old, but I believe evolutionist claim that a one celled organism emerged from the slime much later. For living species I have numbers ranging from 8.7 million to 11.3 million, throw in a number for extinct species (logic and reason indicates that it is much easier to destroy a species than to create one), and one could easily arrive at a figure of 12 million species of life having existed at one time or another. Creationist appear to believe that life appeared 3.5 billion years ago. 3,500,000,000 divided by 12,000,000 equals 291.6 species evolving each year.

New species numbering 261 each year by simple arithmetical progression. If one is stupid enough to assume that each species is capable of evolving into another species, and goes with geometrical progression, we would be looking at new species of life appearing every few minutes. And yet, I am the illogical one for believing that Jesus created the earth and all it contains in six days.

And that is only the amount that developed enough to form a stable breeding population. Which as I said before, is a lot more than 2. Still, most biologist can't do math.

Blogger RobertT April 24, 2013 1:58 PM  

"Are you kidding? 99.8th percentile, Godfrey. Three Standard freaking Deviations above average! Statistically speaking, this is very, very close to the best that they've even theoretically got!"

My first reaction was, Good grief, three standard deviations is that unusual? But that soon morphed into the same reaction I got when I joined mensa and observed the topics being widely discussed on forums and newsletters there. Apparently iQ is not a panacea for sloppy thinking and nonsense. Those conversations were not a lot unlike the kind of thing regularly held up to ridicule here - liberal, feminist, foolish. I'm sure they're all over the immigration issue right now. I really just wanted the 'qualified member' certificate anyway so i let it lapse. I have friends who love mensa, but for me it's an idiot repository.

Anonymous David April 24, 2013 1:59 PM  

"The states are sovereign, yet they may not regulate commerce between other sovereign powers (states), nor enact treaties with other sovereign powers."

This is correct, because the states specifically delegated this power to the federal government when they ratified the Constitution.

"That's a weird and unusual kind of sovereignty."

This is incorrect, there is nothing "weird" about delegating a power you possess to another. It might be unusual, but it is done.


"No. The Constitution is quite clear that the states are not sovereign powers with the right to secede"

Feel free to show where in the Constitution the states delegated or gave up their right to secede A. Man.

Or are you now going to assert that only you, the A. Man, can truly tell us what the Constitution means, regardless of what it actually says?

Just like you assured us that most people don't take Biblical creation seriously, regardless of what they actually say?

Blogger Joshua Dyal April 24, 2013 2:01 PM  

Only because Goldberg doesn't want to tarnish the reputation of King Lincoln.
I don't disregard the many ways in which Lincoln can be seen as a tyrant. But that doesn't make him a fascist. A fascist is a very specific kind of tyrant.

Blogger tz April 24, 2013 2:05 PM  

Society only functions when the majority of the people agree on basic fundamental ideas. A critical mass of people who believe reason and evidence don't matter is a slippery slope to tyranny.

But to point out the self contradictory nature:

What if only a few people in a society agree on the fundamental idea that reason and evidence matter?

The first half of your statement implies Society only functions when the culture is homogeneous (a majority are of the same opinion). So it would not be tyranny if the majority believed A or not-A as long as it was a stable majority and not a coalition government like many European Parliaments that have many minority opinions but collect to form a majority.

The second half says when there is a critical mass of people (I'll take a cheap shot and add: e.g. "Liberals") who believe reason and evidence don't matter is a slippery slope to tyranny.

So which is it?

As others have pointed out, it is the Evolutionists who do not believe that reason or evidence matter since they will uniformly avoid discussing either in a debate. When asked about probability, the quality of the evidence, explanations for things like the Cambrian explosion, the response is "you stupid bible-thumping fundamentalist!". Someone else compared the transformation to poo-flinging primates, which is an insult to primates.

The same thing happens with both neo-classical and keynesian economists (and the "debates" between them are entertaining but not informative, though I can see why they might want to ban guns). Same with "climate change" or whatever we are calling the new cold and rain records recently set.

I always defer to those who with a level head will discuss and argue the point logically over anyone who first descends to the rhetorical, and when called to return, instead goes all-out emotional.

Many things will not be certain, but someone who disagrees honestly is far better than one who agrees dishonestly.

Anonymous A. Man April 24, 2013 2:25 PM  

"Feel free to show where in the Constitution the states delegated or gave up their right to secede A. Man."

When it was adopted, and before.

George Washington, Jefferson, Madison and even Patrick Henry (who opposed the Constitution on the grounds that it did not provide the states with sovereignty) all disagree with your interpretation.

It's also notable the patriots of 1776, who essentially seceded from Gr. Britain, were quite clear under which circumstances would allow and justify them to take such an action. They are laid out in the Declaration of Independence and boil down to when fundamental rights have been repeatedly violated and no means of non-violent addressing those violations exist. And incidentally, it was not under these conditions that the south committed treason and attempted to dissemble the United States after Lincoln was elected.

Anonymous Tallen April 24, 2013 2:28 PM  

George Washington, Jefferson, Madison and even Patrick Henry (who opposed the Constitution on the grounds that it did not provide the states with sovereignty) all disagree with your interpretation.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and even my great grand uncle's poodle's former owner's baby sitter all disagree with this statement. I don't have any proof that they do but I'm just going to say it and that makes it right.

Anonymous Credo in Unum Deum April 24, 2013 2:30 PM  

"calculate a rate that absolutely must exist if his belief in evolution by natural selection is true"

Why must this rate even exist, let alone be constant, if evolution is to be true?



Events such as the Cretaceous Paleogene extinction event that killed the dinosaurs would seriously disrupt the rate of speciation. If a bunch of species suddenly die-off, and new batch of species take their place, then your rate is going to be changed.



VD, you and your cohorts don't have the Fullness of Truth, so I won't hold that against you, but at the same time: You could do much better than this.

Sacred Scriptures, which are composed of a variety of a different books, written down from a period from c. 1000 BC to about the year AD 100 by dozens of different authors, all of them not even speaking/writing in the same language, all predate the scientific method, which only came about in the late 19th century.

How could the authors of Sacred Scripture be written down science? They weren't even aware of the concept.

"...even the most blindly faithful evolutionist runs from the sort of precision and quantification that is absolutely necessary if something is to be considered genuinely scientific in any meaningful sense?"

Why do creationists run away from questions posed to them by the scientific community.

Such as:

How do you reconcile the story of creation in Genesis when it was merely copied from Babylonian creation myths, with the main change being that God stating that creation was "good". The Church teaches that the story of Genesis, in light of scientific discoveries, shouldn't be taken literally, but that God Sanctified that Babylonian creation story to make a wider point about how creation is "Good".

If creationism is scientifically valid, then why is it necessary to emphasize that the sectarian religious dogma of the Book of Genesis (which was never intended as a scientific textbook) is the ultimate scientific authority? We should be able to see, quite plainly, that Genesis is truth without having to reference it.

We've found and observed proto-solar systems in the Galaxy, so our model for the formation of the Earth has been observationally verified, along with mathematically verified. We have also found 800+ planets outside of our own solar system as well, with the number of Earth-like planets in habitable zones of their stars growing as well. These observations are in-line with the model of our own planet Earth forming in more the 6000 years.

If Creationism is scientifically valid, please show an example of another planet forming within 6000 years. Be specific as to the right ascension and declination of the location of this planet being formed as observed from the Earth, as well as the stellar classification of the star it orbits, the planet's own orbital elements around this star, and finally, the distance of this star from the Earth in light years. If your observations are the truth, then this information shouldn't be hard to come up with. If the Earth was formed in this timeframe, than it stands to reason that another planet should have formed within this same timeframe, should be forming right now as you read this, and this formation should appear completely different from what we have currently observed. Please provide the evidence for this.

If the world is merely 6000 years old, how did the iron that forms the Earth's crust come about within that timeframe? Be specific. Our experimental observations as well observations of supermassive stars producing this element, not to mention our mathematical models for nuclear fusion hold up this model of the universe.

Those are just a few of the simple questions and concerns that make me seriously doubt creationism, which is at its core, and abuse of Sacred Scripture.

Anonymous JRL April 24, 2013 2:35 PM  

new species of bacteria and viruses come into existance every year.

Swing and a miss...

Logically, can a non-eukaryote be a eukaryote?

Anonymous David April 24, 2013 2:37 PM  

"When it was adopted, and before."

Wrong again A. Man. You need to cite the text. Watch, I will do it...

Tenth Amendment
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

You see A. Man? Powers delegated.

"George Washington, Jefferson, Madison and even Patrick Henry (who opposed the Constitution on the grounds that it did not provide the states with sovereignty) all disagree with your interpretation."

I provided you with what the text actually says, not an interpretation. You want to show any of those men agree with you...cite them.

"It's also notable the patriots of 1776, who essentially seceded from Gr. Britain, were quite clear under which circumstances would allow and justify them to take such an action. They are laid out in the Declaration of Independence"

And everyone notice that A. Man can't back up what he claims about the Constitution, so now he tries to change the subject to the Declaration of Indepenedence.

"And incidentally, it was not under these conditions that the south committed treason and attempted to dissemble the United States after Lincoln was elected."

You not understanding what delegating powers means A. Man has very little to do with the Civil War. It has no bearing on the fact that the states delegated certain powers to the Federal government by ratifying the US Constitution.

You have failed once again A. Man, try harder next time, because you only have a few precious comments left.

Anonymous Spoos in August April 24, 2013 2:40 PM  

3,500,000,000 divided by 12,000,000 equals 291.6 species evolving each year.

You've transposed your numerator and denominator; the figure would be one species every 292 years.

One could explain the Cambrian explosion thus:

The substrate for evolution (that is to say, speciation and phenotypic divergence over time) is a population of reproductively contiguous organisms; a species is a reproductively compatible set of populations.

Mass extinctions increase the number of populations, and thus the chance of speciation and subsequent divergence, by reducing the population density to the point where it interrupts reproductive contiguity. In a stable environment, it is also unlikely that a new phenotype will spontaneously arise and confer a large enough advantage in fecundity to become ubiquitous; this is less true in an environment where previous, common phenotypes are dramatically less adaptive (c.f. rising oxygen levels and various photo- and chemo-autotrophs).

Anonymous JRL April 24, 2013 2:40 PM  

But to point out the self contradictory nature:

Well pointed out tz.

Anonymous Stilicho April 24, 2013 2:42 PM  

Even if evolution turns out to be true, I don't see how that disproves or undermines Genesis.

It doesn't. This is one of those things that simply is not that complicated despite the best efforts of a lot of people to make it so. Those that pursue this route simply assume that Genesis cannot be reconciled with TE(p)NS and, therefore, any evidence that supports TE(p)NS is also support for the non-existence of God (some go further and argue that this "proves" that God does not exist).

Anonymous PandaThumb April 24, 2013 2:45 PM  

Two questions for Creationists like Mr. Day, or Theo as you were baptised...

1) Do you really believe human beings rode dinosaurs like in the link below?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-janssen/ride-a-dinosaur-visit-a-c_b_556119.htl

2) Do you really not see what theocratic nonsense this is -- a direct threat to our democracy?

Anonymous PandaThumb April 24, 2013 2:46 PM  

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-janssen/ride-a-dinosaur-visit-a-c_b_556119.html

Anonymous Spoos in August April 24, 2013 2:51 PM  

Do you really not see what theocratic nonsense this is -- a direct threat to our democracy?

In before someone references Justice Black's footnote on secular humanism.

Or that modern statist progressives are basically just atheistic Calvinist Puritans.

Anonymous G.Veil April 24, 2013 3:08 PM  

Mr. Spoos I regret to inform you that you are wrong the Constitution was adopted in 1787 and went into effect in 1789 so the States already defeated the British Empire well before the Constitution was even brought up. As for not calling out the militia, that is exactly what Lincoln did, he called for 75,000 Volunteers to serve a 3 month term to put down the rebellion, which was well within his rights as granted by the Militia Acts of 1792. That Act stated "whenever the United States shall be invaded, or be in imminent danger of invasion from any foreign nation or Indian tribe". The law also authorized the President to call the militias into Federal service "whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed or the execution thereof obstructed, in any state, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by this act". Those powers were granted to Lincoln for up to two years this was in case the war took longer than anticipated.

Blogger Brad Andrews April 24, 2013 3:11 PM  

@Credo
> How do you reconcile the story of creation in Genesis when it was merely copied from Babylonian creation myths, with the main change being that God stating that creation was "good".

And you know this how? Pure assertion. More likely those were corrupted versions of what really happened. You really need to study more.

As to how all those things happened: Are you really an idiot? That is like asking how the computer you are using got put together since we know that metals don't spontaneously bond like that in less than X million years. Look at the basic assumption of a creator of some kind and your questions are irrelevant. You are assuming that such a creator had to do things slowly over time.

Though I do not believe VD is a YEC by any means. I am, but I certainly don't speak for them all and find fewer inconsistencies with this position than any other view.

Enjoy feeling morally superior, but you are quite ignorant in your post.

Anonymous Albatross April 24, 2013 3:13 PM  

"Mr. Williamson not only cannot calculate a rate that absolutely must exist if his belief in evolution by natural selection is true, but admits that he cannot even define the species whose origins he strongly implies are incontrovertible. It should be apparent that he is not defending actual quantifiable, testable, and replicable science here, he is defending his irreligious faith in a particular historical science fiction that may or may not have any basis in fact. That doesn't mean his faith may not be logically well-founded, it merely means that he cannot even begin to provide scientific evidence for what he is claiming is beyond skepticism. This is philosophy, not modern science."

No. There are lots of quantities in pure mathematics that are known to exist, yet impossible to calculate precisely. The truth of mathematics does not rest on the ability to calculate these quantities. Williamson's answers is correct *on this count*: "species", "subspecies" and most phenotypically generated taxonomical divisions are not well-defined and to give an answer just by dividing the #of species in existence by the #of years that "life" would be bad biology.
In terms of genotypically defined mutations, one should only refer Vox to fields like population genetics to see the utility of Fisher's quantitative evolutionary theories. The same thing is true of Vox's "highly evolved" questions. Is the species with the most chromosomes the most highly evolved? Who knows.

Anonymous G.Veil April 24, 2013 3:15 PM  

A.Man might be unable to back up what he says about the Constitution, that does not make his use of the Declaration of Independence any less relevant it merely means you are incapable of refuting his assertion that the criteria laid out by our founding fathers for the rightful secession from the current ruling body were not met by the South. If you are capable of refuting it then by all means correct him.

Anonymous LOL April 24, 2013 3:19 PM  

They are laid out in the Declaration of Independence and boil down to when fundamental rights have been repeatedly violated and no means of non-violent addressing those violations exist. And incidentally, it was not under these conditions that the south committed treason and attempted to dissemble the United States after Lincoln was elected.

Um, what now? It was exactly under those conditions that the South seceded.

Anonymous LOL April 24, 2013 3:21 PM  

The idea that the Declaration of Independence laid out the "rightful" conditions for secession from the ruling body certainly seemed laughable enough to tbe British.

Anonymous A. Man April 24, 2013 3:23 PM  

"You see A. Man? Powers delegated."

But not "expressly" delegated are they? And this matters. Look up the votes in the convention concerning whether powers ought to be "expressly" delegated to the states. It's important.

"
And everyone notice that A. Man can't back up what he claims about the Constitution, so now he tries to change the subject to the Declaration of Indepenedence."

The Constitution tells us how the Union will be formed more perfectly...by a vote of the people in convention. We are told how the entire people will be governed. Yet we have nothing as to how the union may be dissolved or how one state may leave it.

Also note that the U.S. isn't made up of only 2 states if only two states ratfify the constitution. There must be a super majority. At the very least, the same principle would apply for secession if it were anything like allowable. In other words, the consent of the people (all the people or a super majority) would be necessary for secession or the breaking up of the union.

"You not understanding what delegating powers means A. Man has very little to do with the Civil War. It has no bearing on the fact that the states delegated certain powers to the Federal government by ratifying the US Constitution."

You just said that the delegation of power, under the 10th Amendment has everything to do with secession, which is what the South claimed to have done during the civil war.

Anonymous Crude April 24, 2013 3:23 PM  

Taylor,

I'll grant you that probably very few people thought they outright falsified the theory of evolution, but a substantial number of people (on both sides) did think it was at odds with the theory. I don't think asking for strict falsification is a useful standard, but showing that a purported piece of evidence is problematic for a theory is pretty similar.

No, it's not similar, because there's no shortage of data that is problematic for evolutionary theory as currently understood. There are puzzles, there are things that are difficult to account for. But this is, always, taken as a reason to doubt our current formulation of the theory at best. Not a reason to doubt the theory itself.

You say this view was out there? Great. Show me the ENCODE members who said 'these results cast doubt on the theory of evolution'. Show me the mainstream media writeup of the ENCODE results that framed it as 'a very large group of mainstream scientists with over a hundred million in funding and performing some groundbreaking work just received results that cast doubt on the theory of evolution'. Here's my prediction: you're not going to find this, because it does not exist.

Sure, but none of Moran's posts were to the effect of "your data strengthens the ID theorists, how could you this?" Rather, it was "the gross extent to which you've misrepresented your data strengthens the ID theorists, how could you do this?"

Po-tay-toh, po-tah-toh. Any representation of the data regarded as strengthening an ID claim will necessarily be regarded, in public discourse by people who hate ID with a passion, as misrepresentation. Even if the framing is valid. It's absurdly easy to pull quotes showing that even saying 'Darwin was wrong', even if 'evolutionists' admit he was in fact wrong about the issue in question, gets hostile reactions.

Were any of these ideas reacted to with widespread vitriol or scoffing? Neutral theory handily took care of (what was then perceived to be) a pretty major problem for evolutionary theory, namely the substitutional load. As far as I can tell, it spread quickly in popularity.

I didn't say they were reacted to with vitriol. I said that each of them required some pretty major reinterpretations/expansions of evolutionary theory - but no one regarded them as refutations of the theory on those grounds. The theory was simply expanded, amended, and life went on.

So too would be the case with an expansion of Junk DNA.

(more)

Anonymous Crude April 24, 2013 3:24 PM  

Anyway, I don't think junk DNA being mostly useful would outright falsify evolutionary theory, but it would be very hard to explain, and since junk DNA is often cited as evidence for the theory (it is what you'd expect given an imperfect and sloppy evolutionary "design" process), it would indeed weaken the theory.

You can 'expect' any number of things from the evolutionary design process. No one regards the tremendous efficiency of such and such an organism's trait as a strike against evolutionary theory - because natural selection will hone a surviving population's advantageous trait under the right pressure. No one regards the tremendous inefficiency of such and such an organism's trait as a strike against evolutionary theory - it just means there wasn't very much selective pressure in that environment for however long. It is a ridiculously elastic concept.

Now, a common argument against intelligent design would certainly bite the dust if junk DNA is regarded as, contrary to past understandings, not being very numerous. Just as the whole 'the appendix is a useless organ, why would a designer make a useless organ' schtick has fallen off the radar ever since function has been found for it. But a common argument against ID != evolutionary theory. Even ID would continue to thrive if a large amount of junk DNA were found - it too is supremely elastic, and ID proponents never tire of saying that bad or buggy or inefficient design is design all the same.

Anonymous A. Man April 24, 2013 3:27 PM  

"They are laid out in the Declaration of Independence and boil down to when fundamental rights have been repeatedly violated and no means of non-violent addressing those violations exist. And incidentally, it was not under these conditions that the south committed treason and attempted to dissemble the United States after Lincoln was elected.

Um, what now? It was exactly under those conditions that the South seceded."

In fact those were not the conditions under which the South claimed to secede. Rather, they merely claimed they "de-ratified" after Lincoln won the election. Further, they had numerous ways to pursue their grievances.

Anonymous G.Veil April 24, 2013 3:27 PM  

@Spoos

I do have another question, are the powers in article expressly delegated to the States, or to the People?

Anonymous Crude April 24, 2013 3:33 PM  

JD Curtis,

Would this experiment proposed by ID proponent Michael Behe be considered 'science'?

It absolutely would be.

But notice what Behe is doing in that proposal. Let's quote the relevant part.

In Darwin’s Black Box (Behe 1996) I claimed that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex and so required deliberate intelligent design. The flip side of this claim is that the flagellum can’t be produced by natural selection acting on random mutation, or any other unintelligent process. To falsify such a claim, a scientist could go into the laboratory, place a bacterial species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure (for mobility, say), grow it for ten thousand generations, and see if a flagellum--or any equally complex system--was produced. If that happened, my claims would be neatly disproven.

First off, I question Behe's regarding of evolution as 'an unintelligent process'. But I'll put that aside.

Second, 'evolutionists' would jump all over Behe's described experiment on the grounds that it does not grant nearly enough time to the process.

But third, and most importantly - notice that, at best, Behe's experiment would yield a falsification of such and such evolutionary processes in such and such environments over such and such period of time. But the experiment doesn't conclude, 'Therefore, ID is true.'

Here's what's important to remember about ID. It basically has two components: various criticisms of mainstream evolutionary theory, and an inference to ID. The former are entirely capable of being scientific. Indeed, I think Behe has made some valid criticisms and arguments and has even written peer-reviewed scientific papers of note on that topic. Other ID proponents likely have as well.

But all the falsifications in the world of mainstream evolutionary claims does not get you to an ID inference. And the moment that ID inference is made - OR, the moment that no-ID inference is made - you are outside of science, and you're staying there.

Anonymous David April 24, 2013 3:47 PM  

'But not "expressly" delegated are they? And this matters. Look up the votes in the convention concerning whether powers ought to be "expressly" delegated to the states. It's important.'

Wrong again A. Man. Everyone, notice how A. Man cherry picks and pretends to not notice this part of the
Tenth Amendment?

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, NOR PROHIBITED TO IT BY THE STATES, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So you see A. Man, the Constitution is silent on secession, and that which is not expressly prohibited to the States, is reserved to the States and the people.

"Expressly prohibited" see how that was important?

"The Constitution tells us how the Union will be formed more perfectly...by a vote of the people in convention. We are told how the entire people will be governed. "

The Constitution does this by creating the federal government, replacing the previous one formed under the Articles of the Confederation and granting it specific powers.

"Yet we have nothing as to how the union may be dissolved or how one state may leave it."

And thus the Constitution is silent on the issue, as you admit. And that which is not prohibited is reserved to the States and the people. The Federal government, according to the US Constitution, has no say on secession.

"Also note that the U.S. isn't made up of only 2 states if only two states ratfify the constitution. There must be a super majority. At the very least, the same principle would apply for secession if it were anything like allowable."

Empty assertions with no basis in the text of the US Constitution.

" In other words, the consent of the people"

This is true.

"(all the people or a super majority)"

This is not.

" would be necessary for secession or the breaking up of the union."

The consent of the people would be necessary yes, but your assertions of a super majority or all have no textual support.

A. Man, do you know which state or states ratified the US Constitution only under the stipulation that they reserved the right of secession?

Why did George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry or James Madison not declare that ratification(s) null and void since the state could not reserve this right?

"You just said that the delegation of power, under the 10th Amendment has everything to do with secession, which is what the South claimed to have done during the civil war."

Your lack of understanding what delegating power means A. Man does not just include secession. You also claimed that the states do not have the power to make treaties with other sovereign powers, or regulate commerce between each other, failing to realize they did originally have those powers. I corrected you by pointing out the reason they do not have this power is because they specifically delegated it to the Federal government(and not before, as you also erroneously asserted).

You have failed once again A. Man, two chances left...want to go for double jeopardy where the scores can really change?

Anonymous hideous April 24, 2013 3:56 PM  

@Credo,
"Why must this rate even exist... if evolution is to be true?"
Allow me to help you out here, along with all the other apparently deeply-mathematically-challenged Darwin Defenders that have asked a similar question.
I'll type slowly here, try to follow: If an event, ANY event, occurs more than once in a given time period then an AVERAGE rate of occurence can NECESSARILY be calculated. Whether it be lottery wins, meteorites striking the earth, solar flares, me scratching my armpit. Because, well... MATH.
Now you probably want to argue instead that the AVERAGE rate is not meaningful, but you (probably dimly) foresee that leads to intellectually bad places almost as much as just answering the question.

"...let alone be constant..."
Who said that, or even implied it? Did you miss the key word AVERAGE in the question?

"If a bunch of species suddenly die-off, and new batch of species take their place, then your rate is going to be changed."
Right, it would have to be much faster. You think that helps YOUR position?

Anonymous jay c April 24, 2013 4:04 PM  

PandaThumb April 24, 2013 2:45 PM

Two questions for Creationists like Mr. Day, or Theo as you were baptised...

1) Do you really believe human beings rode dinosaurs like in the link below?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-janssen/ride-a-dinosaur-visit-a-c_b_556119.htl

2) Do you really not see what theocratic nonsense this is -- a direct threat to our democracy?


This is an example of "not paying attention", "poor reading comprehension", or "just plain stupid". Take your pick.

Anonymous jay c April 24, 2013 4:10 PM  

Credo in Unum Deum April 24, 2013 2:30 PM

"calculate a rate that absolutely must exist if his belief in evolution by natural selection is true"

Why must this rate even exist, let alone be constant, if evolution is to be true?


There are two questions here:
1) Must this rate exist? Yes. If evolution happened, then it has happened at some particular, average rate. To borrow VD's analogy, if a car moved from one place to another place over a period of time, then by definition it moved at some rate. Or do evolutionists assert that evolution took a short cut through a wormhole? (But that would amount to creationism, so...)
2) Must it be a constant? No, and nobody here to my knowledge has asserted anything of the sort.

Anonymous jay c April 24, 2013 4:11 PM  

...or rather if all the cars in a city moved from place to place over a period of time, then by definition they moved at some particular, average rate.

Anonymous LOL April 24, 2013 4:23 PM  

In fact those were not the conditions under which the South claimed to secede. Rather, they merely claimed they "de-ratified" after Lincoln won the election. Further, they had numerous ways to pursue their grievances.

I didn't say those were the conditions under which they claimed to secede.

I said those were the conditions that actually obtained.

And no, they had no ways to pursue their grievances. In fact they had far fewer ways to do so than the colonies did in the 1770s.

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