Micharah Bachlin and Evolution

At MinnPost, scientist and humanist Shawn Otto writes about the far-reaching consequences of an evolution-denier like Micharah Bachlin* running for president.  He writes that many creationists, like Bachlin, agree with “natural selection,” but deny the broader concept of evolution.  But in do this, they’re mistaken:

Creationists, including Bachmann, often refer to the writings of Michael Behe, a biochemistry professor and creationist and the author of Darwin’s Black Box, a book arguing that some structures, such as the human eye, are just too complex to be the result of evolution and thus must be evidence of “intelligent design,” a more recent version of creationism.  Behe has made the mistake of clinging to an a priori first principle rather than building his understanding with observational evidence, and so his conclusions are not science; they’re what Francis Bacon called “science as one would,” full of examples of “the vulgar Induction,” in which Behe cherry picks examples that seem to prove his point while ignoring the ones that seem to contradict it.  In other words, rhetoric. [READ THE REST]


* Yes, “Micharah Bachlin” is my mash-up of Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin, two human beings who seem virtually indistinguishable.

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  • James

    I remember that picture from when I was a kid. It was on a series of videos they used to show us at church telling us how bad evolution was and how you can’t believe in it because you are a Christian. Oh those were the days of getting yelled at all the time about the “hymnal rule” being violated. Yes those two people are virtually the same person and both give me a headache.

  • Hey Tony,

    Interesting read. I am currently taking a “creation studies” class at the very conservative college I attend. And it appears that I am the only one in my class that doesn’t think The Genesis account of creation is literal.

    The class goes above and beyond to try a d discredit any kind of scientific evidence that seems to contradict a literal interpretation of a 6 day creation. The first week of class was all about how science and scientist can not be trusted and how corrupt it is. By doing this, any argument I bring to the table has already been discredited. I am having a wonderful time with it. 🙂

  • Nate T

    I don’t think it is fair to conflate Bachmann with Palin. Bachmann is much more disciplined as a politician who is actually serious in her attempt to be President, while Palin is an entertainer. Sure, disagree with Bachmann, but give her a degree of respect.

  • I mentioned my evolution belief at my conservative church and they took me out, chained me to a tree, and gave me 39 lashes. Won’t do that again.

    Science needs to be able to breath and allowed to theorize. The first part of Genesis can be taken literal, but doesn’t have to explain things like a scientific publication.

    I love this, “Behe has made the mistake of clinging to an a priori first principle rather than building his understanding with OBSERVATIONAL EVIDENCE and so his conclusions are not science.” Evolution has the same problem in that it has never been observed, excuses abound. Pure as the wind driven snow, scientists are, they wouldn’t inject ideology like Creationists to line their pockets with “T” trillions of dollars from “global warming,” oh, I mean, “climate change” research to save the world.

    Oh that silly Sarahelle Palmann. What a goon she is for holding onto her guns and Bible.

    We need to vote Obama back in for another four years. There’s a wise choice. Can’t get enough of this change we got go’en on here.

    • Scot Miller

      John —

      Of course, there’s no observational evidence that the earth revolves around the sun, but there’s lots of observational evidence that the sun revolves around the earth (at least, it appears to rise in the east and set in the west). So should I assume you mistrust the scientists like Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, etc., who argued for a heliocentric universe because their “theory” accounted for the observable phenomena better than a geocentric universe? Since there is no spot in the universe any observer could every occupy to actually observe the earth revolving around the sun, is it really wrong to reject the heliocentric model of the universe?

      My point, of course, is that induction doesn’t exhaust the “scientific method.” Scientists often have to propose theories to account for what is observed. If a theory is falsifiable, simple, elegant, and has explanatory power, it is more likely to be accepted by other rational members of the scientific community. The problem with “creationism” or “intelligent design” is that it isn’t falsifiable (i.e., there isn’t any evidence that can be presented as evidence against God’s design… if everything shows God’s design, the claim is not falsifiable). Moreover, intelligent design lacks simplicity and little explanatory power (i.e., it wouldn’t help explain anything else in the universe).

      The problem with a literal reading of Genesis is that such a reading has serious conflict with the facts we know about the age of the earth and the adaptation and evolution of species through time. The truth of Genesis isn’t a scientific truth, but a theological truth: God is the reason that there is something rather than nothing. Read literally, Genesis is false (if not silly and incoherent); read as a myth, Genesis expresses a theological truth about the human condition and nature (i.e., God is the ultimate source for reality and the meaning of being).

      • Hey, hey, hey now Scot,

        Shawn Otto is the one using observations as the end all definition of science, and attacking others for it. So I guess you got him. There are trillions TIMES trillions of biological events every second on this planet, and evolutionary scientists can’t find one instance to record progressive evolution happening and don’t know where to look to find on instance of it happening. Apples and oranges, Scot. Every article about examples of evolutionary finds have words like “maybe” and “they think” tied to any event of biological progression. Don’t get me wrong, evolution has a good story to it, and there are elements within the story that I find reasonable about adaptation, but not a complete move to another specie. It doesn’t even really matter. The point of the story was that Sarmichah Bapalmann holds to Creationist views. A budget can be balanced without evolutionary theory.

        Sarmichah Bapalmannin is so stupid, one of her scientific views is held from Michael Behe’s book that didn’t build its science from OBSERVATIONAL EVIDENCE.

        Last point, again, science needs to be able to breath and theorize. Every scientific theory that is held as a consensus doesn’t have to mesh with the Bible. Science isn’t my religion. I will not be going into the afterlife saying “E=MC2.” I will probably be saying, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…..”

        • Scot Miller


          I have to admit, I’m having a hard time figuring out your position about evolution, but I’m pretty sure you’re misunderstanding what Otto and I are both saying. I didn’t say that observations play no role in evolution or in the heliocentric model of the universe. In fact, it was better observations from Galileo and Brahe and Kepler that led people to accept a sun-centered universe, precisely because they didn’t fit well with the old paradigm. It was observations about the diversity and adaptations of species in the Galapagos islands that led Darwin to posit natural selection and his theory of evolution. Did he have all the details right? No, because he didn’t understand the mechanism of the changes (which we now know to be changes in genetics, thanks to Gregor Mendel and Watson and Crick). The theory of intelligent design (or creationism) is not observational in the sense that it doesn’t begin with observations and work to a theory which best explains the observations; it begins with an a priori commitment to the existence of a God who is creator of the universe. That is hardly a scientific theory.

          I’m also puzzled by your comment that There are trillions TIMES trillions of biological events every second on this planet, and evolutionary scientists can’t find one instance to record progressive evolution happening and don’t know where to look to find on instance of it happening. First of all, evolutionary theory does not talk about “progressive” evolution, merely the changes which take place in a species over time as the species adapts to the environment. Secondly, we can observe genetic mutations (some of which are beneficial, some which aren’t). If these mutations lead to survival and are passed on to future generations, there is a chance that over time enough changes would occur so that a new species evolves (i.e., a member of a species can reproduce fertile offspring with other members of the same species, but not with a different species). Thirdly, the theory of evolution explains how viruses change, which has the practical effect of allowing scientists to develop new vaccines each year for the flu virus. Because the flu virus evolves, each year requires a new vaccine. So I’m not sure what you mean about scientists not finding any evidence of evolution.

          Like I said, I’m somewhat confused about your position about evolution. You say that “science needs to be able to breath(e) and theorize,” yet make disparaging comments about the theory of evolution. I’m trying to say that the evidence for the theory of evolution is such that any rational person will accept it over the much weaker position of intelligent design (which doesn’t even rise to the level of a plausible scientific theory). Instead of accepting a literal reading of Genesis, the theory of evolution suggests that there is a better reading of Genesis as myth.

          • John Edmond


            We are chasing rabbits by moving away from the political point of Tony’s entry. I would like to chase this endless discussion over epistemology (I know I am taking cheap jabs at evolution), this isn’t the place to hammer it out. I don’t know if theologians have come to a precise understanding of how to receive the Genesis creation account in light of scientific knowledge. I do know that Leviathan was transmitted knowingly to be taken as myth, and an analogy in its meaning, while the Genesis account was knowingly to be transmitted as an accurate record of how things began.

            While Christianity has had its gaffe with the Earth’s orbit, the biggest gaffe of science has just happened with the leaked climate change emails. Scientist place in influencing the direction of society will be rethought because of a group effort to cheat the global public into a false scientific belief.

            If you want to level the accusation of myth at Genesis, you can also level the accusation at any scientific narrative floating around, including evolution.

          • Scot Miller


            Your criticism of “the political point of Tony’s entry” appears to rest on a misunderstanding of science and of biblical interpretation, and my comments are directed to your mistaken assumptions. The biggest difference between scientific theories and biblical interpretation (in my judgment) is the nature of what counts for evidence. Science is limited to the (observational) evidence which arises from the shared human experience of the natural world, whereas interpretation of scripture arises in the narrower community of believers who happen to believe that a particular text is somehow revelatory of God. (Since many different religions exist, and many different texts count as revelation of the divine, it’s pretty clear that biblical interpretation is a sub-set of a larger concept, scriptural interpretation.) Scientific theories are open to revision and rejection based on better evidence and argument. Scriptural interpretations should be open to such revision and rejection based on better evidence and argument, but often religious communities are committed to a priori ideas that are uncritically accepted. It makes more sense to hold both scientific and theological claims as fallible and incomplete, subject to revision based on better evidence and argument.

            You seem to want to make scientific claims and religious claims about the origin of species equivalent, since (you seem to believe) both are ultimately political claims. Here you offer the leaked e-mails about global warming as evidence, but you overstate your inference. As Factcheck.org reports, “…there was no solid evidence of wrongdoing in the e-mails…” (see http://www.factcheck.org/2010/04/some-climategate-conclusions/). But even if political bias shapes some scientists, the authority of their claims does not reside in the “scientists” per se, but in the public evidence that all scientists can evaluate. Moreover, the scientific community isn’t monolithic; differences of judgment take place all the time, and are necessary for scientific advances. It just so happens that the consensus of the majority of the scientific community is on the side that says (a) climate change is a fact, and (b) the actions of human beings has contributed to climate change.

            So I think it matters that Michelle Bachmann rejects scientific thinking. Now, it’s pretty clear that you don’t think it matters, which is fine. But if you don’t like President Obama, you need to come up with a better argument than that Bachmann’s position is just as rational as other scientific positions. Intelligent design is a religious belief, not a scientific one. Bachmann’s belief about intelligent design is a good reason for me not to support her (but not a good reason for me to support Obama).

  • I think Myer’s Signature in the Cell is a great book for this decade to understand Intelligent Design.
    God is good

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