A Response to David Gelernter’s Attack on Evolution (5 of 4)

A Response to David Gelernter’s Attack on Evolution (5 of 4) September 4, 2019

In part 5 of this 4-part series, we’ll conclude our critique of a popular article in which David Gelernter (who’s not a biologist) attacks evolution (part 1). We’ll look at the agendas of the various parties to get a better understanding of what motivates the players.

Warning: the Discovery Institute has an unsavory agenda

The Discovery Institute has several divisions, the most prominent of which is the Center for Science and Culture. This is the one advocating Intelligent Design:

The mission of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture is to advance the understanding that human beings and nature are the result of intelligent design rather than a blind and undirected process.

Their mission isn’t to follow the facts like scientists but to advocate for their predetermined conclusion, like theists.

You might say that it’s a think tank, so obviously it’s going to have an agenda, but note the difference between advocating for policies (small government, tighter gun laws, etc.) and advocating for a supposedly scientific claim (Intelligent Design).

Scientific claims should stand on their own, supported by evidence, and not need advocates. And maybe even the Discovery Institute itself doesn’t see Intelligent Design as a scientific claim.

The focus of the Discovery Institute isn’t on following the evidence, nor is it convincing the scientific community. They’ve lost that battle, and they know it. Science works by scientists sharing ideas and debating among themselves, trying to find flaws in their own work and others’. There are popularizers (Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and many others) who help explain science to the public, but discovering new truths about nature happens within science.

The Discovery Institute doesn’t publish papers in conventional science journals; they bypass science and go right to the public. Give a grant to a university lab and they will fund new research, but give it to the Discovery Institute, and they will just do more PR.

It’s a smart move, in a Machiavellian sort of way. Getting the public convinced that evolution is nonsense so that they demand Creationism in schools is one step in the Discovery Institute’s leaked 1998 Wedge Strategy. Their goal was to replace naturalistic explanations in society with Christian ones and advance the conservative political agenda. They wanted to return to God as the foundation of Western civilization.

And the Creationism/ID movement has been effective. A 2018 study shows only 33 percent of Americans accepting evolution. Perhaps when they imagine “Making America Great Again,” they see Europe of the thirteenth century, long before meddlesome science started explaining things better than Christianity.

News update

We can see the agenda of the Discovery Institute made plain in an article from a few days ago in response to the press coverage of Gelernter’s article. They said, “We get encouraged to see voices in mainstream media catching up with the idea that there are serious scientific reasons to doubt evolutionary theory.”

Huh? They care about the mainstream media and not biologists? They’re publicly admitting that PR and not science is their goal! They want mainstream press coverage since they know that there is no debate within science. They’ve lost the argument in the only forum where it matters, they know it, and they’re admitting it.

Gelernter’s agenda

What was the point of Gelernter’s article? If it was just a book report on Stephen Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt, Meyer himself would’ve been the better person to write it.

I wonder about his motivation. It’s obviously not a scientist’s honest search for the truth, because he unashamedly references only Intelligent Design (ID) sources. He’s comfortable rejecting the consensus in scientific disciplines to which he’s an outsider. He’s already rejected manmade climate change, so going public with his rejection of evolution isn’t that reckless. Time magazine called him, “A conservative among mostly liberal Ivy League professors, a religious believer among the often disbelieving ranks of computer scientists.”

The Christian community is doing to him what they did to atheist philosopher Antony Flew. Attacked as “the world’s most notorious atheist” (as he was identified in the subtitle of his 2007 book explaining his change of heart), Flew became a darling among Christians when he switched to deism. (I responded to Flew’s book here.)

Flew’s book was co-written with (more likely, written by) another author. The argument for his conversion was the standard Creationist views, none of which Flew, as a non-scientist, brought any value to. Flew was simply a marionette whose strings were pulled by his Creationist controller.

Similarly, Gelernter the Ivy League full professor is another nice catch for Creationists. Like Flew, he brings nothing to the scientific conversation, but then Creationism isn’t about the science. If Gelernter is willing to prostitute himself, for whatever puzzling reason, I can see why the Discovery Institute would celebrate that.

Gelernter vs. Intelligent Design

Curiously, Gelernter ends with an incisive critique of ID that is unexpected, given the lap dog praise of Meyer’s book in the body of the article. I’ve complained so much in this series of posts that, on this rare bit of agreement, I’d like to give him the last word.

He begins by saying that a single intervention by some Designer to start life or create the phylum that eventually produced mammals or create consciousness is one thing, but that doesn’t explain Meyer’s primary complaint, his contention that evolution can’t explain the Cambrian explosion.

An intelligent designer who interferes repeatedly, on the other hand, poses an even harder problem of explaining why he chose to act when he did. Such a cause would necessarily have some sense of the big picture of life on earth. What was his strategy? How did he manage to back himself into so many corners, wasting energy on so many doomed organisms? Granted, they might each have contributed genes to our common stockpile—but could hardly have done so in the most efficient way. What was his purpose? And why did he do such an awfully slipshod job? Why are we so disease prone, heartbreak prone, and so on? An intelligent designer makes perfect sense in the abstract. The real challenge is how to fit this designer into life as we know it. Intelligent design might well be the ultimate answer. But as a theory, it would seem to have a long way to go.

The scientist believes in proof without certainty,
the bigot in certainty without proof.
Let us never forget that tyranny most often springs
from a fanatical faith in the absoluteness of one’s beliefs.
— Ashley Montagu

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Image from Richard Stock, CC license
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  • ThaneOfDrones

    Curiously, Gelernter ends with an incisive critique of ID that is unexpected…

    I dunno. Maybe he’s just trying to posture himself as being fair and objective. But he’s given such one-sided fanboy treatment to Meyer that it is hard to pull off.

    • Jim Jones

      Let’s wait for his review of Justin Bieber.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Two more gaps:

    Ancient worm fossil rolls back origins of animal life

    Half-a-billion-year-old creature challenges theory that animals burst onto the scene in an abrupt event known as the Cambrian explosion.

    The fossil, which formed some time between 551 million and 539 million years ago, in the Ediacaran period, joins a growing body of evidence that challenges the idea that animal life on Earth burst onto the scene in an event known as the Cambrian explosion, which began about 539 million years ago.

    “What’s extraordinary about this paper is it’s three home runs in the same five-page manuscript,” says Simon Darroch, a palaeontologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. First, it’s exceptionally rare to find a dead animal preserved at the end of a trail it made when alive, he says. Second, the fossil dates to a crucial moment in the evolution of animal life.

    And third: “It’s such a bizarre-looking organism,” says Darroch. The creature, which has been named Yilingia spiciformis and was up to 27 centimetres long, seems to be a biologically complex animal with a distinct front and rear end. “We don’t really have many of those from the Ediacaran,” he says.

    • Helpful data point, thanks.

    • NS Alito

      Aha! Evilution is wrong again!

    • Lark62

      Thanks. Great link.

      One of the commenters described the caecilian – a wormlike amphibian:

      The skull is hardened and reinforced, the double-sets of jaw muscles being encased inside plates of bone. … Some can grow to be 5 feet long. While some are aquatic, others live under the soil, invisible and mysterious, almost entirely unmapped by science. They eat bugs, lizards, frogs, mice, the hearts of cows. …

      Their skin exudes poison that is toxic to a diverse array of animals, from rats to frogs to each other.

      Some of them actually practice maternal care. When the young hatch, they’re surrounded by the mother who cuddles them, nuzzling them with anti-fungal secretions.

      Then, in a simultaneous frenzy, the young eat their mother’s skin.

      They stop. She grows more.

      And they do it again.

      And again.

      Until they’ve consumed roughly 30% of her weight in the form of her tasty, nutritious flesh.

      And people say there’s no proof of a loving creator. /s

      • ThaneOfDrones

        “Never go in against a caecilian when death is on the line.”

        https://getyarn.io/yarn-clip/277fe61b-9fa5-4ee7-9f4e-749f2fa610da

      • Buckminsterfullerene

        The fact that we have to consume living organisms (whether plant or animal) speaks against an omni-benevolent creator. Why would some loving God want it’s creations eating other creatures in order to survive…it is grotesque. God could rain manna down but I guess slaughtering chickens is the next best thing to starvation this omniscient creator could come up with. Don’t get me wrong I like chicken but if there was an alternative I would be for it.

        • Greg G.

          What do god thingies eat? If it is possible to live and do things without eating, why should we be required to turn food into biowaste?

        • Buckminsterfullerene

          Good question.

        • I’m optimistic that synthetic meat will soon replace the on-the-hoof kind.

        • Greg G.

          Then there won’t be a need for domesticated stock. They will go extinct unless zoos keep them.

        • Think of how society’s relationship to horses has changed over the last century–from essential beasts of burden to quaint farm animals or pets.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Too late to revert to aurochs? Curses!

        • TheNuszAbides

          Just checked out Beyond Beef recently; flavor-wise it doesn’t seem to have hit upon anything Boca hadn’t years ago, but the range of texture is impressive.

        • Just yesterday I had a Beyond Beef burger, but it’s been a long time since I had a Boca Burger. I thought the Beyond was very good, much more burger-like than any Boca burger I’d had.

          Just one data point.

        • TheNuszAbides

          My samples were in stroganoff form; trying a minestrone next. Burger is a much better mass to assay, so I defer to your depth of experience.

          The product certainly looks far more like meat than any other TVP I know of.

  • Lex Lata

    Judge Jones ably discussed the DI’s crypto-evangelical agenda in his lengthy but fascinating opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover. An excerpt:

    * * *

    Phillip Johnson, considered to be the father of the IDM, developer of ID’s “Wedge Strategy,” which will be discussed below, and author of the 1991 book entitled Darwin on Trial, has written that “theistic realism” or “mere creation” are defining concepts of the IDM. This means “that God is objectively real as Creator and recorded in the biological evidence …” (Trial Tr. vol. 10, Forrest Test., 80-81, Oct. 5, 2005; P-328). In addition, Phillip Johnson states that the “Darwinian theory of evolution contradicts not just the Book of Genesis, but every word in the Bible from beginning to end. It contradicts the idea that we are here because a creator brought about our existence for a purpose.” (11:16-17 (Forrest); P-524 at 1). ID proponents Johnson, William Dembski, and Charles Thaxton, one of the editors of Pandas, situate ID in the Book of John in the New Testament of the Bible, which begins, “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was God.” (11:18-20, 54-55 (Forrest); P-524; P-355; P-357). Dembski has written that ID is a “ground clearing operation” to allow Christianity to receive serious consideration, and “Christ is never an addendum to a scientific theory but always a completion.” (11:50-53 (Forrest); *720 P-386; P-390). Moreover, in turning to Defendants’ lead expert, Professor Behe, his testimony at trial indicated that ID is only a scientific, as opposed to a religious, project for him; however, considerable evidence was introduced to refute this claim. Consider, to illustrate, that Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God. (P-718 at 705) (emphasis added). As no evidence in the record indicates that any other scientific proposition’s validity rests on belief in God, nor is the Court aware of any such scientific propositions, Professor Behe’s assertion constitutes substantial evidence that in his view, as is commensurate with other prominent ID leaders, ID is a religious and not a scientific proposition . . . .

    Defendants’ expert witness ID proponents confirmed that the existence of a supernatural designer is a hallmark of ID. First, Professor Behe has written that by ID he means “not designed by the laws of nature,” and that it is “implausible that the designer is a natural entity.” (P-647 at 193; P-718 at 696, 700). Second, Professor Minnich testified that for ID to be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened so that supernatural forces can be considered. (38:97 (Minnich)). Third, Professor Steven William Fuller testified that it is ID’s project to change the ground rules of science to include the supernatural. (Trial Tr. vol. 28, Fuller Test., 20-24, Oct. 24, 2005). Turning from defense expert witnesses to leading ID proponents, Johnson has concluded that science must be redefined to include the supernatural if religious challenges to evolution are to get a hearing. (11:8-15 (Forrest); P-429). Additionally, Dembski agrees that science is ruled by methodological naturalism and argues that *721 this rule must be overturned if ID is to prosper. (Trial Tr. vol. 5, Pennock Test., 32-34, Sept. 28, 2005).

    * * *

    That’s just a taste. For anyone interested in the modern ID movement, as well as Establishment Clause jurisprudence, the full opinion should be mandatory reading.

    • Raging Bee

      ZOMG ATHEIST INDOCTRINATION!!!

      • Lex Lata

        🙂 Written by a Lutheran, Republican Bush appointee. The Devil musta made him do it.

        • Michael Neville

          Jones takes being a judge very seriously. He also struck down Pennsylvania’s law against same-sex marriage. In a 2006 talk given at Bennington College, Jones rejected “activist judge” criticisms and explained the judiciary role:

          If you look at public polls in the United States, at any given time a significant percentage of Americans believe that it is acceptable to teach creationism in public high schools. And that gives rise to an assumption on the part of the public that judges should ‘get with the program’ and make decisions according to the popular will.

          There’s a problem with that. … The framers of the Constitution, in their almost infinite wisdom, designed the legislative and executive branches under Articles I and II to be directly responsive to the public will. They designed the judiciary, under Article III, to be responsive not to the public will–in effect to be a bulwark against public will at any given time–but to be responsible to the Constitution and the laws of the United States. That distinction, just like the role of precedent, tends to be lost in the analysis of judges’ decisions, including my decision.

    • MR

      Very interesting, Lex. Thank you.

    • Ann Kah

      Judge Jones will forever be known for his apt phrase “breathtaking inanity”.

    • Raging Bee

      Notice how our creationist troll JBSchmidt totally avoids dealing with any of that?

      • epeeist

        Notice how he presents almost nothing of substance.

      • Lex Lata

        Well, if I were an ID advocate, I’d probably work diligently to ignore, deny, and/or forget everything about that litigation. From “cdesign proponentsists” in the sham Of Pandas and People textbook to the numbskullery and probable perjury of the creationist Dover school board members to the 11th-hour decision of William Dembski and Steven Meyer to back out as expert witnesses for the defense just before trial (a forum where cross-examination would happen), the whole thing was a farce and embarrassment for Team ID.

        By my reckoning, it’s a story of good science, great law, human drama, and boundless unintended comedy. IDers would prefer to write the episode off as a bad dream, no doubt.

  • RichardSRussell

    Disbelieves both climate change and evolution, eh? I wonder what he thinks about relativity. After all, the explanation for that was formulated by the notorious rationalist Albert Einstein, so clearly it should be viewed with suspicion.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      Is anyone willing to pay him for disbelieving relativity?

    • Doesn’t WLC reject special relativity because of the implication that the A-theory of time is false?

      • Don’t forget–WLC is a philosopher. Y’know, the guys that the physicists call when they’re stumped.

    • eric

      I wonder what he thinks about relativity.

      He’s probably saving that one for his next fifteen minutes.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Since relativity is closely allied with what makes modern computers possible, I’m thinking he’s going to avoid that topic indefinitely.

      • ThaneOfDrones

        Uh, what? I would say modern computers are more about quantum physics than about relativity.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Quantum physics is a LOT closer…I was considering modes of thought that lead to great scientific discoveries.

          Also, Mea Culpa 😉

        • eric

          IIRC one of the early problems Einstein was given to work on was to figure out how Maxwell’s equations would work or be modified for a moving frame of reference. The very first clue of special relativity was that unmoving charges don’t produce a magnetic field, but moving ones do. So imagine a charge moving past you with someone riding on it. The bystander says “it’s producing a magnetic field.” The rider says “no it’s not.” Einstein had to figure out a theory that would predict both observations, allow both to be true. How could that be? 🙂

          That probably doesn’t matter much for computer programmers though. AFAIK Einstein’s early work on EM is largely overlooked (at least by lay people).

        • Chuck Johnson

          So imagine a charge moving past you with someone riding on it. The bystander says “it’s producing a magnetic field.” The rider says “no it’s not.” Einstein had to figure out a theory that would predict both observations, allow both to be true. How could that be?

          The explanation is simple:
          When a moving piece of test equipment goes past a stationary charge, then the motion of that test equipment generates a magnetic field which the equipment can indicate.

          In this way, stationary electrostatic charges can cause a magnetic field to occur.

        • Len

          Sounds a lot like Scotty saying he’d never thought of space being what’s moving. Gene’s legacy (albeit rebooted) lives on 🙂

        • Chuck Johnson

          Sounds a lot like Scotty saying he’d never thought of space being what’s moving. Gene’s legacy (albeit rebooted) lives on 🙂

          The concept of relativity is not just important in scientific studies, and in non-scientific contexts it has not only been thought of by Einstein.

          When The Waters Were Changed

          Once upon a time Khidr, the teacher of Moses, called upon mankind with a warning. At a certain date, he said, all the water in the world which had not been specially hoarded, would disappear. It would then be renewed, with different water, which would drive men mad.
          Only one man listened to the meaning of this advice. He collected water and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the water to change its character.
          On the appointed date the streams stopped running, the wells went dry, and the man who had listened, seeing this happening, went to his retreat and drank his preserved water.
          When he saw, from his security, the waterfalls again beginning to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men. He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before; yet they had no memory of what had happened, nor of having been warned. When he tried to talk to them, he realized that they thought that he was mad, and they showed hostility or compassion, not understanding.
          At first, he drank none of the new water, but went back to his concealment, to draw on his supplies, every day. Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving and thinking in a different way from everyone else. He drank the new water, and became like the rest. Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had miraculously been restored to sanity.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Sounds a lot like Scotty saying he’d never thought of space being what’s moving. Gene’s legacy (albeit rebooted) lives on :-

          Then here’s a puzzle for you.

          Look up the “Twin Paradox” and then tell me if you can, since the twin on Earth moves very rapidly relative to the twin who rides the spacecraft, why is it not the twin on Earth who remains young relative to the twin who rides the spacecraft ?

        • You need General, not just Special, relativity to solve that one – the twins are not both in inertial reference frames, one of them has to be accelerated.

          If you construct the problem such that neither is accelerated then the result becomes symmetrical.

        • Chuck Johnson

          The problem can be solved by changing the way that the problem is stated.
          When the presence or absence of acceleration is emphasized, then the the outcome becomes clear as to which twin ends up being older.

          If you construct the problem such that neither is accelerated, then the problem becomes symmetrical”

          That doesn’t help.
          If neither is accelerated, then the mystery of the aging twins does not exist. Acceleration is needed for the experiment.

          With regard to symmetry, this would do it:
          The paradox of the aging triplets.
          Triplet 1 stays home.
          Triplet 2 accelerates in a direction.
          Triplet 3 accelerates in the opposite direction.

          When the two triplets return home, then the ages are compared.
          What would be that result?

        • Triplets 2 and 3 (assuming they perform identical journeys in opposite directions) are the same age as each other, and younger than triplet 1, when they return. The symmetry is only between 2 and 3, not 1.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I agree.
          Also, I think that it is interesting that the direction of travel does not enter into it, only the degree of movement or acceleration matters.

        • eric

          Nope, for two reasons:

          (1) the bystander would characterize the field as centered on the moving charge and moving with it. All field lines, field strength calculations, etc. would show it centered on the moving charge. If the observed field was the result of induction in the test equipment, all that stuff would be centered on the equipment.

          (2) as long as the equipment isn’t carrying a charge, the rider would tell you that the equipment isn’t producing a magnetic field, either. Relative to him, there simply isn’t any field.

        • Chuck Johnson

          (1) It doesn’t matter where the field is centered.
          The field would be present and it would be detected.
          That’s what I said and you have agreed with that.

          (2) Relative to him, there simply isn’t any field is correct.
          Relative to the moving observer, there simply is a field.

          You have agreed with what I have said in order to tell me that I am wrong.

        • ThaneOfDrones

          An interesting physics problem, but I don’t see what it has to do with the operation of modern computers.

          BTW, Charles Babbage had no trouble inventing the (non-modern) computer without knowledge of relativity nor quantum mechanics.

        • And the earliest electronic computers (or even electrical analog computers before them) had no need for quantum mechanics, either.

        • eric

          A Babbage difference engine is mechanical, so Maxwell’s laws would be irrelevant to them.

          But that’s a quibble. I agree – computer programmers and users need know practically nothing whatsoever about how circuits work or EM theory to do their jobs – so most of them don’t. I’m not sure whether that counts as a success of our educational system, or a failure.

        • NS Alito

          Hey, Newton got us to the moon.

    • Ann Kah

      So not-a-physicist as well as not-a-biologist. Helluva way to build a reputation, advertising all the things he is not.

    • And don’t get him started about quantum physics. I’ll bet Intelligent Design dispenses with that “theory” as well.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    New fossil reveals face of ‘Lucy’ ancestor who lived almost 4 million years ago

    Scientists have long known that this species — A. anamensis — existed,
    and previous fossils of it extend back to 4.2 million years ago. But the
    discovered facial remains were limited to jaws and teeth. The newly
    reported fossil includes much of the skull and face…

    • Raging Bee

      Too bad she was born too early to see God creating all life on Earth.

      • Jim Jones

        Schöningen spears

        The Schöningen spears are a set of eight wooden throwing spears from the Palaeolithic Age that were excavated between 1994 and 1998 in the open-cast lignite mine in Schöningen, Helmstedt district, Germany, together with an associated cache of approximately 16,000 animal bones. The excavations took place under the management of Hartmut Thieme of the Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage (NLD).

        Originally assessed as being between 380,000 and 400,000 years old, they represent the oldest completely preserved hunting weapons of prehistoric Europe so far discovered. As such they predate the age of Neanderthal Man (by convention taken to emerge after 300,000 years ago), and is associated with Homo heidelbergensis. The spears support the practice of hunting by archaic humans in Europe in the late Lower Paleolithic.

        More recently, thermoluminescence dating of heated flints in a deposit beneath that which contained the spears suggested that the spears were between 337,000 and 300,000 years old.

        God is lucky he didn’t get speared with them!

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Originally assessed as being between 380,000 and 400,000 years old.

          More recently, thermoluminescence dating of heated flints in a deposit beneath that which contained the spears suggested that the spears were between 337,000 and 300,000 years old.

          See? How can you count on science when it’s always changing its mind? And look at that trend! Who knows how young it will be the next time they test it?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          LOL

      • Thanks4AllTheFish

        True, but at least it explains how Cain found a mate.

        • Raging Bee

          Lucy was a Cro-Magnon AND a cougar?!

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          Well, maybe not Lucy herself, but certainly her progeny.

        • NS Alito

          Generation-wise, 18 was the new 12.

        • ThaneOfDrones

          Lucy was not a Cro-Magnon. Off by a few million years and a continent.

        • Michael Murray

          Lucy was estimated to be 12 when she died.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Fossil Trees Reveal the Oldest Known Forest in Asia

    The grove of lycopsid trees is 365 million years old and covers 2.7 million square feet

  • eric

    The real challenge is how to fit this designer into life as we know it.

    A challenge that has gone unmet for 30+ years and about which Dembski, at least, has said ID has no interest in meeting.

    If he’s right about that, it’s not biology and it’s not science. Period. End of story.

    • skl

      eric, please let me know if you can see the comment I just posted immediately above yours. Thanks.

  • skl

    Bob S., please let me know if you have “silently” banned me.

    In part 3 you posted that “Sadly, skl has been banished to the place where there is weeping and gnashing of
    teeth. Oh, and also rending of garments.”
    Yet subsequent to that I appeared to have successfully posted a comment
    on part 4. But later realized I could see it only when I’m signed
    on. In other words, other viewers apparently will never see this post.

    RSVP.

  • The real challenge is that, even if things had turned out to be as they claim, that prove is the entity mentioned in their sourcebook and not any other equivalent.

  • Jim Jones

    > If Gelernter is willing to prostitute himself, for whatever puzzling reason, I can see why the Discovery Institute would celebrate that.

    Don’t they pay big bucks for ‘support’ such as this?

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Gelernter: “I may be easy but I’m not *cheap*!!!”

      😉

  • Chuck Johnson

    We get encouraged to see voices in mainstream media catching up with the idea that there are serious scientific reasons to doubt evolutionary theory.

    Yes, there are serious scientific reasons to doubt evolutionary theory.
    Just as there are serious scientific reasons to doubt Newton’s laws of motion.
    Just as there are serious scientific reasons to doubt that any scientific theory or law is perfect and will undergo no change in the future.

    But the Creationists want the reader to interpret “doubt” as meaning “it’s fundamentally wrong”.
    These are professional deceivers.

  • JBSchmidt

    “Curiously, Gelernter ends with an incisive critique of ID that is unexpected, given the lap dog praise of Meyer’s book in the body of the article.”

    You are blinded by your own dogma. He is not the only atheist calling out Darwinian evolution as incomparable with current science. You and ‘consensus science’ crowd are the reason Gelernter wrote the article. The science of evolution has become a religion with its own zealots such as yourself (which could be the title of this final article).

    As an example, show us were the Discovery Institute has published a piece of scientific work that can be proven wrong using science.

    • Chuck Johnson

      As an example, show us were the Discovery Institute has published a piece of scientific work that can be proven wrong using science.

      Evolutionary biology tells us that new living species arise (entirely) through the mechanisms of mutation and selection pressure.

      The Discovery Institute publishes papers that tell us that without the help of God, no new species can come into existence.

      Therefore, any and all papers that require the mechanism of God are examples of papers that are disproved by the science of evolutionary biology.

    • Otto

      As an example, show us were the Discovery Institute has published a piece of scientific work…

      You could have stopped there.

      • Joe

        I admit, I’ve got nothing to counter that. Checkmate atheist.

    • You and ‘consensus science’ crowd are the reason Gelernter wrote the article.

      Yeah? How’s he coming with his articles dismissing the scientific consensuses of relativity? Germ theory? Quantum mechanics?

      Y’know, if I didn’t know better, I’d say that it’s not consensus science at all but rather someone with a particular agenda against evolution. Weird.

      As an example, show us were the Discovery Institute has published a piece of scientific work that can be proven wrong using science.

      You first. Show me where they’ve published a piece of scientific work.

      • JBSchmidt

        “How’s he coming with his articles dismissing the scientific consensuses of……”

        Strawman and completely discounts the numerous challenges to those theories that are given space to challenge the consensus.

        “I’d say that it’s not consensus science at all but rather someone with a particular agenda against evolution.”

        The fact that your article 5 of 4 was little more then propaganda, and the first 4 articles contained little science to actually take a stance against Gelernter, it would seem you have the agenda.

        “You first.”

        As I figured. You have nothing. Keep preaching your dogma.

        • islandbrewer

          “You first.”

          As I figured. You have nothing. Keep preaching your dogma.

          *sigh* No. His point was that the Discovery Institute has never published a piece of scientific work. Thus, something that doesn’t exist cannot be proven wrong.

          Did I really need to spell that out? Did you really not get that?

        • epeeist

          Did you really not get that?

          More a case of, “Do you really not want to get that?”

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          I’m reading your comments and not finding anything of substance.

          We get it. You think evolution is faulty.

          Now quit goofing around and show us the methodology that makes your theories better than evolution. Otherwise, I see no reason to seriously accept anything you have to say and I’m betting no critical thinking person will, either.

      • NS Alito

        Is there a term of art for scientific knowledge beyond merely human consensus, like the Periodic Table or any other discovery that is buried beneath generations of subsequent dependent disciplines or technologies?

        • ThaneOfDrones

          Stephen Jay Gould wrote:

          In science, “fact” can only mean “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.”

        • NS Alito

          “Fact” it is, then.

    • Otto

      You know the funny thing is in my experience the only reason atheists talk about evolution is because it is quite apparent that theists find it so threatening. You see it doesn’t matter to me one iota if evolution is proven wrong in any way, it wouldn’t threaten my world view at all. You or Gelernter could prove evolution is all wrong and you would still have the entire field to go to show ID is in fact correct. And as you have so unintentionally pointed out… the Discovery Institute has literally done nothing to move the ball in that direction.

      • NS Alito

        Personally I would be fascinated by a turnover in evolutionary biology, even though I can’t imagine what it would be. Unfortunately, I think a lot of the potentially useful research in epigenetics is drowned out by the cranks. It’s the biological version of “quantum”.

    • Susan

      You are blinded by your own dogma.

      I’ve repeatedly asked you to spell out the dogma of which you accuse us. You have yet to respond.

      Support it or retract it.

      show us were the Discovery Institute has published a piece of scientific work that can be proven wrong using science.

      Show us where the Discovery Institure has published a piece of scientific work.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Yes, and the unfalsifiability of the DI’s work demonstrates that it is unscientific. JB is unwittingly arguing against himself.

    • Lex Lata

      “He is not the only atheist calling out Darwinian evolution as incomparable [sic] with current science.”

      1. Gelernter isn’t an atheist at all. He even wrote a book titled Judaism: A Way of Being.

      2. But let’s put that error aside. I know of plenty of atheist scientists who readily acknowledge that of course the theory of natural selection has evolved (pun intended) beyond Darwin’s original version, and that the theory is provisional, limited, and corrigible, adjusting to accommodate new evidence and analyses. But I can think of no atheist scientists who reject the modern theory of natural selection as being “incompatible with current science,” and certainly none who endorse ID as the better explanation for speciation. Can you name any?

    • Our ”dogma” is very strongly suspected by observations and how the real world is. Much unlike your consensus, that turns about to accept texts from the Bronze Age era written by desert herders who thought Earth was flat without questioning it the minimal. Texts that do not even explain very basic things related to their faith.

      I will pray Mielikki the Forest Queen, for you.

      • NS Alito

        Go with Pele. She’s better at getting people’s attention.

    • Lark62

      Intelligent Design is creationism renamed. In 1987, the Supreme Court said creationism is religion and could not be taught in schools, so the authors of an upcoming creationism textbook did a search and replace to change “creationism” to “intelligent design”. They also changed “creationists” to either “design proponents” or “cdesign proponentsists”. Oops.

      You are getting science backwards. Promoters of creationism / intelligent design do not put forward a single testable hypothesis. None. Zero. There is nothing for any scientist to test. ID is not science.

      If you think they have put forward a testable hypothesis, do tell us what it is.

      Meanwhile, pick any aspect of evolution. The evolution of sight. The evolution of limbs. The evolution of ancient marine reptiles. The evolution of bats. The evolution of marsupials. On these topics and thousands of others you will find hypotheses, testing, published peer reviewed papers and more testing to confirm results.

    • Michael Neville

      You’re blinded by your own dogma. Gelernter is an observant Jew, which means he’s not an atheist.

      As for “other atheists calling out Darwinian evolution”, so what? When you and your fellow creationists can bring up (here’s the word creationists hate and fear because you don’t have any) evidence to support your religious mythology, then you’ll have a point. But when all you can do is try (and fail) to poke holes in evolution, then all of us including you know that you’ve lost your feeble attempt at arguing against evolution.

      As an example, show us were the Discovery Institute has published a piece of scientific work that can be proven wrong using science.

      You’ve got a point but not the one you hoped to make. It’s impossible to show any scientific work from the Discovery Institute to be wrong because they’ve never published any scientific papers.

    • Rudy R

      He is not the only atheist calling out Darwinian evolution as incomparable with current science.

      You do realize that Gelernter is Jewish and not an atheist? And who is this credentialed biologist that is an atheist you speak of?

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        For ol’ J. B., if’n he ain’t KRISCHUN, he’m be un AYYYTHEEEEYIST!!

    • epeeist

      He is not the only atheist calling out Darwinian evolution as incomparable with current science.

      I have challenged you on this before, another question which you didn’t answer.

    • Raging Bee

      What “dogma” are we blinded by, exactly?

      Oh, and we’re not doing “Darwinian evolution” anymore. We’ve gone well past where Darwin started in the 19th century. Try harder to keep up, okay? Thanks.

    • Phil Rimmer

      Show us a scientifically formed hypothesis by them first.

      It must be negatable or its a waste of all our time. All they can do in the meantime is wait until they find rabbits in the Pre-Camrian.

      • Joe

        Oddly enough, they as aren’t sending teams out there with shovels looking for bunny bones in the correct layers.

        • Phil Rimmer

          “Discovery” is exactly what they have no interest in.

        • Greg G.

          Dagnabbit! That was a point I was going to make.

    • Joe

      “As an example, show us were the Discovery Institute has published a piece of scientific work that can be proven wrong using science.”

      I can’t do that because that haven’t published any scientific work.

    • Donalbain

      As an example, show us were the Discovery Institute has published a piece of scientific work.

  • Chuck Johnson

    The mission of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture is to advance the understanding that human beings and nature are the result of intelligent design rather than a blind and undirected process.

    False dichotomy.
    Intelligent Design tells us that origin of living things has been directed by an intelligent designer called God.
    Darwinian evolution tells us that the origin of living things has been directed by a (largely unintelligent) designer called selection pressure.

    The religionists are forever pushing the false idea that evolutionary biologists think that evolution is undirected.
    They are strongly motivated to promote this false idea, so that’s what they do.

    • NS Alito

      Artificial selection may have direction, but saying that natural selection is “directed” sounds like painting targets around the bullet holes in the side of the barn.

      • Chuck Johnson

        Natural selection (figuratively) paints targets around that minority of bullet holes which represent successful mutations.

        Natural selection has been selecting preferred biological forms and promoting them for billions of years.
        The non-preferred forms of living things die out.

        Do not try to undermine this scientific truth in order to support the language and the politics of your favorite version of atheism.

        It’s not just the Christians that undermine scientific truth in order to promote their preferred politics.
        Atheists do it too.
        You have done it here.

        • NS Alito

          I object to the term “directed” being applied to natural selection, that’s all. It smacks of reification.

          And for your information, my interest in evolution predates my atheism.

          Still, I’d like to know more about these atheists who are undermining scientific proof in support of their politics. Please elaborate.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Still, I’d like to know more about these atheists who are undermining scientific proof in support of their politics. Please elaborate.

          The example that I was thinking of here was you.
          However, any time that pseudoscience is used by atheists as a counterargument to theism, this is a problem.

          And as Bob Seidensticker’s present essay tells us plenty of this problem is perpetrated by overzealous theists.

        • NS Alito

          I don’t get it. Could you be more specific, like a quote or something?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Oh hell no…Chuckie-poo is way short on specifics.

        • Chuck Johnson

          No.
          The commeters at Crossexamined have a hobby of trolling to support their favorite pseudoscience, so I won’t bother.

          But if you want to tell me about your favorite scientific evidence against theism, I can comment.

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          What’s the attraction that brings you here if so many of us are merely trolling and gullible to pseudoscience? Are you the designated adult in the room?

        • Chuck Johnson

          So you haven’t noticed the trolling.
          That’s an interesting reflection on you.

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          “So you haven’t noticed the trolling.”

          I have blocked most of the actual trolls so, no.

          “That’s an interesting reflection on you.”

          Yes, fascinatingly, it is. Apparently I’m not nearly as astute as you are. But enough about me. Perhaps you’d like to address the rest of my previous comment? What is the attraction what with all the pseudoscience trolls lurking about? And are you the designated adult in the room?

        • Chuck Johnson

          “What is the attraction what with all the pseudoscience trolls lurking about?”

          Are you designating yourself as a pseudoscience troll?

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          Are you going to answer the questions or demonstrate to everyone reading this , precisely how trolls do their thing?

        • Chuck Johnson

          No need.
          You are demonstrating that just fine.

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          Hilarious! Self-awareness not one of your better traits, I see. Still can’t even answer a simple question. Classic troll behavior and you know what I do with trolls?
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e682be663c4df0181e84923d7f2e8a94fe4a5fc4ceccb31182e1d3b8cca66c50.gif

        • Chuck Johnson

          You are narcissistic, and you are trolling.

        • Susan

          Could you be more specific, like a quote or something?

          Chuck has a history of calling people trolls without providing support.

          Even questioning him can get you called a troll.

        • NS Alito

          It’s weird. He admits he has no examples to back his accusation.

        • ildi

          It’s almost like not everybody got the Team Atheism memo from ozarkmichael or something… /s

        • Susan

          almost like not everybody got the Team Atheism memo from ozarkmichael

          Yes. The dogma requires us nodding knowingly when Chuck speaks.

          Any requests for clarification are insubordination to the speaking that Chuck does.

          That will get you called a troll and severely impede your secret-volcano-monorail privileges.

          And just forget about the handshake.

          Chuck will say you’re not doing it right. Any requests for clarification are insubordination… etc.

        • MR

          Just another gaslighting troll to drag the conversation down and through the muck.

        • Chuck Johnson

          And for your information, my interest in evolution predates my atheism.

          Very Good.
          Cause-and-effect are suggested here.

        • NS Alito

          And for your information, my interest in evolution predates my atheism.

          Very Good.
          Cause-and-effect are suggested here.

          The proximal cause for my atheism had nothing to do with evolution, but with my interest in human cognition, and why grown-ups who seemed so smart to me couldn’t understand basic questions about how different people had different religions. I started reading books about optical illusions, and mental tricks. I read Martin Gardner and Randi. Even the 18th and 19th century English fiction I preferred focused on quirky beliefs of various characters.

          That’s why I think religious fundamentalists don’t know that the science disciplines that are the biggest threats to their beliefs are anthropology (with respect to religions) and cognitive science, rather than evolution. I was otherwise more than content to remain a theistic evolutionist.

        • Chuck Johnson

          History, politics, the rape of children by priests.
          The list goes on and on.
          Also, anthropology outside of the study of religions.

        • Phil Rimmer

          This may be why in a survey (ten or so years ago) looking at the relative religiosity of various scientists, most religious were mathematicians and physicists and least, psychiatrists and psychologists. Seeing the sudden jump in religious certainty with schizotypy, seeing how situated human cognitions actually are, is quite an ah-ha moment.

        • Phil Rimmer

          It smacks of mind and teleology, too.

          “Selection pressure” isn’t a thing but a human (mindful!) applied tag to millions of differing instances of differential reproductive fitness, themselves the result of happenstance.

          This is (merely) a semantic issue, that you and MR highlight.

        • If you’re saying that atheists err or lie, just like anyone does, I agree. But do you have in mind particular points that atheists tend to make?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes, I agree with what you are saying here.
          There will be a number of ways that atheists will do this, as your comment suggests.
          The only thing that I thought of in this comment is the false argument made by atheists against creationism or ID.

          The false argument comes about because the atheist notices that Creationists tell us that God guides biological evolution and the atheist objects and argues (which is correct).

          But then, instead of referring to the evolutionary biology which applies, some atheists will reach for the simplest counter-argument which is : “God doesn’t guide evolution, nothing guides evolution”.
          That’s where the argument is false.

          So you and I both recognize that the kind of false statements made by politically-motivated Christians are exactly mirrored by false statements made by atheists.

          And I don’t think that the mistakes or lies made by atheists will be found to be as numerous as the ones made by fundamentalist Christians. This is because modern atheist understandings are more heavily supported by empiricism and science then fundamentalist understandings.

          How about the politically-motivated mistakes or lies made by modern atheists compared to the ones made by very progressive Christians?
          Who makes more mistakes in that comparison?
          I don’t know.
          But here is a link to the Fred Clark Progressive Christian blog:

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/

          Read a few of his essays.
          I leave it to you to figure out how much of a deceiver Fred Clark is in support of his Christian beliefs.

          If I didn’t know better, I would think that Fred is an atheist.

        • “God doesn’t guide evolution, nothing guides evolution”.
          That’s where the argument is false.

          Perhaps they should’ve said “no one guides evolution.”

          the kind of false statements made by politically-motivated Christians are exactly mirrored by false statements made by atheists.

          The two sides may be parallel in that they both make errors, but the atheists’ errors are ones that they’d be happy to accept correction for. That would only make their position stronger. The Creationists, on the other hand, have little interest in the truth or evidence and are motivated by a religious agenda.

          So no, I don’t think “exactly mirrored” is correct.

        • MR

          No, evolution doesn’t select or direct or guide. We only use those words because there’s no concise way to express the concept of what is really happening. Those words imply an agent with intent, but that’s not what is happening. It’s a limitation in our language to express the process in a simple manner, so we use those words metaphorically. It creates an ambiguity for those who don’t really understand the process, or who want to take advantage of the ambiguity to confuse.

        • Chuck Johnson

          The two sides may be parallel in that they both make errors, but the atheists’ errors are ones that they’d be happy to accept correction for.

          On your blog, I have repeatedly experienced an explosion of trolling in order to promote atheist tropes and errors.

          The trolling was intended to avoid any correction in the errors that were being promoted.

          Since you encouraged the trolling, Bob, you may be blind to this fact.

        • NS Alito

          On your blog, I have repeatedly experienced an explosion of trolling in order to promote atheist tropes and errors.

          I would love love love it if you gave me an example of one of these “atheist tropes and errors”, I’d still like to know how I was undermining scientific proof or whatever in some vaguely “atheistic” way.

        • Chuck Johnson

          No, no examples.
          I object to the trolling.
          But you can tell me about your favorite scientific evidence against theism.

        • NS Alito

          But you can tell me about your favorite scientific evidence against theism.

          Of course not. Theism is real. People readily attribute agency to all sorts of things. Gods are just one manifestation.

          I was very devout myself. Then I realized my uniquely personal cognitive construct of a caring creator was a product of my own attempt to understand the disparate teachings and readings I was exposed to.

          Are there actual entities which have supernatural-seeming powers out there? Considering the size and age of this universe, it’s quite plausible, though I don’t see them really lining up with the “kindergarten” version of gods that a lot of people seem to come up with.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You like to misuse the English language to prove that you are right.
          Such dishonesty is commonplace.

        • NS Alito

          Among never-believers I’ve encountered people who question the devout belief of others, and attribute religious statements to wishful thinking or tribal responses. I cannot provide scientific evidence against theism.

          If you want a more specific response, ask a more specific question. My proof of theism is I was a devout believer in a god, therefore I am not in a position to provide scientific evidence against theism, only evidence that people readily believe in gods (or ghosts or angels or reincarnation) without proper evidence.

          Before you libel me as dishonest, ask a serious question, not some bullcrap about me providing evidence against something existing. If you want logical contradictions within certain god beliefs, there’s more than enough of that available. If you want evidence against some fuzzy concept of deism that no one can clearly define, it’s shelved right next to the evidence against Russell’s teapot.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I would respond, but your comment is not fit to respond to.

        • NS Alito

          Stumped you, eh?

        • MR

          Trolls hate being put on the spot. It’s not for him to respond to you!

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes.
          Your level of dishonesty was just too much.

        • NS Alito

          Be very specific at how I was dishonest.
          1. I was a devout believer.
          2. I have corrected never-believers who say that believers don’t really believe.
          3. I believe it’s possible that there are entities in the universe whose behavior and technology would seem supernatural to us.
          4. I’ve read the research on how human brains have a tendency to generate cognitive constructs to explain things they don’t understand, including gods, astrology, astral planes, ESP, etc.

          If you avoid responding by making another unsupported assertion that I am somehow dishonest, but without backing up the libel, I’m seriously going to ask Bob to nuke you as a proven troll.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “I’m seriously going to ask Bob to nuke you as a proven troll.”
          You are trolling.

        • NS Alito

          I realized after I posted that that there was no need to drag Bob into this. Based on what others have reported, your posts make more sense to me if every time you avoid specifics it’s just your way of saying “Old lady, you’re a stupid stinky poo-poo head!”

        • Susan

          Stumped you, eh?

          No.

          Chuck has this filter, that translates “stumped” into “You’re a troll if you ask me to support a single thing.”

          No one will ever stump Chuck.

          Because Chuck is always right (because Chuck says so, and Chuck must be right because Chuck is always right on Chuck’s sayso).

          Asking Chuck to support something means you’re a troll.

          I’m a troll for doing so. epeeist too. Several others who’ve attempted to engage with Chuck.

          We’re all trolls unless we nod solemnly when Chuck types.

        • NS Alito

          So Chuck is…The Bible?

        • ildi
        • NS Alito

          So be it.

        • ildi

          I may be getting my troll pin soon…I cited an actual evolutionary biologist but I’m the one who doesn’t understand the science lol

        • epeeist

          I’m a troll for doing so. epeeist too.

          Yep, I gave up on Chucky-boy and his delusions of adequacy long ago.

        • MR

          He claims to be a scientist, complains about other people’s sloppy use of scientific language and then says something like

          “Natural selection has been selecting preferred biological forms and promoting them for billions of years.”

          What manner of farce is this?

        • epeeist

          He claims to be a scientist

          What kind of “scientist” says, “I am a scientist”? How is one to tell whether he works in chemistry, social science or domestic science?

          The other thing he hasn’t divulged is what sort of level he is working at, it could be anything from routine work in a lab upwards (though somehow I doubt whether he is a fully tenured professor).

          What manner of farce is this?

          The other thing to realise is that most of those working in science are doing what Kuhn might call “puzzle science” or “normal science”, i.e. working within the current paradigm. There are few who work at the foundations or leading edge of their subject.

        • Greg G.

          Yet he responded to your comment.

        • Susan

          ,You like to misuse the English language,

          Show that they are engaging in equivocation or retract your claim.

          Are you the guy in charge of the English language?

          Or are you woefully resisting any standard requests that you support your claims?

          Hmmmmmm….

          (chin solemnly placed in palm)…

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Are you the guy in charge of the English language?”

          Some comments are so low-quality that they are not worth responding to.

        • Rann

          Low quality…no. Accurate assessment of your word gaming and moving the goal posts…. YES.

        • ildi

          Natural selection has been selecting preferred biological forms and promoting them for billions of years.
          The non-preferred forms of living things die out.

          No…

          Natural selection is a non-random difference in reproductive output among replicating entities, often due indirectly to differences in survival in a particular environment, leading to an increase in the proportion of beneficial, heritable characteristics within a population from one generation to the next.

          Thirty years ago, widely respected broadcaster Sir David Attenborough (1979) aptly described the challenge of avoiding anthropomorphic shorthand in descriptions of adaptation:
          Darwin demonstrated that the driving force of [adaptive] evolution comes from the accumulation, over countless generations, of chance genetical changes sifted by the rigors of natural selection. In describing the consequences of this process it is only too easy to use a form of words that suggests that the animals themselves were striving to bring about change in a purposeful way–that fish wanted to climb onto dry land, and to modify their fins into legs, that reptiles wished to fly, strove to change their scales into feathers and so ultimately became birds.
          Unlike many authors, Attenborough (1979) admirably endeavored to not use such misleading terminology. However, this quote inadvertently highlights an additional challenge in describing natural selection without loaded language. In it, natural selection is described as a “driving force” that rigorously “sifts” genetic variation, which could be misunderstood to imply that it takes an active role in prompting evolutionary change. Much more seriously, one often encounters descriptions of natural selection as a processes that “chooses” among “preferred” variants or “experiments with” or “explores” different options. Some expressions, such as “favored” and “selected for” are used commonly as shorthand in evolutionary biology and are not meant to impart consciousness to natural selection; however, these too may be misinterpreted in the vernacular sense by non-experts and must be clarified.

          https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12052-009-0128-1

        • MR

          Thanks for finding this, ildi. It’s an important point.

          We often use language in a metaphorical sense. It’s a great feature of our language that we can use generalized linguistic constructs to help us understand abstract concepts, but it can also cause confusion.

          Stephen Pinker talks about this, probably in “The Stuff of Thought.” Not specifically about evolution but about how we use language.

        • ildi

          The whole article is interesting:

          Intuitive interpretations of the world, though sufficient for navigating daily life, are usually fundamentally at odds with scientific principles. If common sense were more than superficially accurate, scientific explanations would be less counterintuitive, but they also would be largely unnecessary.

          and

          At the very least, it is abundantly clear that teaching and learning natural selection must include efforts to identify, confront, and supplant misconceptions. Most of these derive from deeply held conceptual biases that may have been present since childhood. Natural selection, like most complex scientific theories, runs counter to common experience and therefore competes—usually unsuccessfully—with intuitive ideas about inheritance, variation, function, intentionality, and probability. The tendency, both outside and within academic settings, to use inaccurate language to describe evolutionary phenomena probably serves to reinforce these problems.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Your worry about the language which is used shows us that you do not understand the science.

        • ildi

          Right….. just admit you were wrong, my duck! It only hurts a little bit the first time.

        • Chuck Johnson

          But you do understand the politics of how you can try to win an argument using insult and dishonesty.

          I prefer science.

        • ildi

          I prefer science.

          Then read the article I linked to because you may not be as conversant with the theory of natural selection as you think you are, my lamb!

        • I think you’ve moved into the “you’re being mean to me!” phase.

          If you have a point to make, I suggest you resist the temptation to wag your finger at others and just make your point.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You have done this to me before by telling me that I was “whining”.
          I made my point repeatedly and your response was to be dismissive and patronizing.

          Now you are doing the same.
          Making my point again and being treated dismissively and with dishonesty would end up once again being pointless.

          Although it is possible that you have forgotten the details of my scientific argument with you, and the scientific assertions that you were making at the time.

        • ildi
        • Every time you get ready to respond to someone by complaining about their attitude, remember this conversation. That’s what I’m talking about.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Apparently, you do not think that you and your sycophantic followers have a problem showing honesty, insight and respect with the comments that are presented.

          I see a very serious problem.

        • Chuck Johnson

          If the point that you refer to is my scientific point, making such a point is often a waste of time in your blog.

          You and your followers here at Crossexamined have discovered that any idea at all can be proved or disproved using the politics of insult and dishonesty.

          You have taken the lead in turning scientific conversations into political conversations, the politics of dishonesty and disrespect.
          Many commenters noticed this and then follow your lead.

          This habit is a lot like Christian apologetics.
          Real scientific conversations are a lot different than what we see here.

        • Susan

          If the point that you refer to is my scientific point, making such a point is often a waste of time in your blog.

          You make assertions, using language that is often questionable, about science.

          When anyone asks your for clarification, you call them trolls. You don’t even attempt to make it past step one.

          In this manner, you have called epeeist, a former physicist, and someone well-versed in the philosophy of science, a troll.

          You never answer his scientific questions.

          You call everyone a troll who even asks you to clarify or support your position.

          Real scientific conversations are a lot different than what we see here.

          Real scientific conversations don’t mean one person gets to call everyone a troll who asks him to clarify and support his position.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Your ignorance and dishonesty are showing.

        • Susan

          Your ignorance and dishonesty are showing.

          No.

          This is your standard response when someone asks you to support your claims.

          If they were showing, you could show them.

          You could respond to the requests for scientific validation.

          Instead, you call people trolls and accuse them of ignorance and dishonesty.

          Your slip is constantly showing.

        • ildi

          Real scientific conversations are a lot different than what we see here.

          It saddens me to have to inform you that based on your quite-shall we say-inflexible exchanges here I don’t believe you would recognize a real scientific conversation if it bit you on the tuchis, my cabbage!

        • Rudy R

          Let’s cut to the chase. There is a natural and supernatural explanation for the origin of living things. We know the science behind the current natural explanation, which is evolution. What is the supernatural explanation? God magic?

        • Chuck Johnson

          The Christian and Jewish God is used to explain the origin of living things.
          There are religious and supernatural traditional stories from all over the world that have origin explanations included.
          In many cases, a god or gods decided to create living things.

        • Rudy R

          Sure, the Christian god is the explanation for the Christian’s explanation for the origin of life. And like I said, god magic is implied, which has no explanatory value and answers a mystery with another mystery.
          There is natural evidence for everything in the universe, so the origin of life would be more probably caused by natural forces, than the nonsensical “supernatural” cause, if even that is possible.

        • Chuck Johnson

          In ancient times when humans originated the God stories, people apparently believed that the gods were natural beings like humans except bigger, more powerful, more knowledgeable, etc.

          Over time, the ideas of supernatural beings (gods) and supernatural events (miracles) gradually came into being.
          This is because growing evidence and knowledge showed that the gods do not exist the way ordinary objects, plants, animals and humans exist.

          Then, to avoid admitting that the living and material God was a false idea, God gradually evolved into a supernatural being, and that God moved in mysterious ways.

          Now the religionists could continue to believe in their God despite the growing evidence that He did not really exist as anything more than an idea that humans invented.

          They told each other that God exists in a special category (a supernatural being) which is not connected with ordinary proof and evidence.

          Special proof and evidence such as church authority, emotionalism, faith, and other types of shabby evidence were called into service to convince people that God had some extraordinary and supernatural kinds of thought and substance.

          Christian apologists make a living thinking up shabby evidence.
          This is to counteract the growing scientific evidence that God only exists as an idea that humans have invented.

      • Chuck Johnson

        Artificial selection may have direction, but saying that natural selection is “directed” sounds like painting targets around the bullet holes in the side of the barn.

        Here, you have the language wrong.

        Natural selection is not directed by some unspecified force.
        Natural selection itself is the directing force.

        Evolution is made possible by the occurrence of mutations.
        Evolution is guided by selection pressure.

        The result is organisms which are better able to survive.
        The result is organisms which fit better into the ecological niches which are available on Earth.

  • NS Alito

    With this coverage of Gelernter’s views of science, he seems like a plausible candidate for DJT’s science advisor. None of those pesky facts and math are necessary when you can use common sense the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.

  • NS Alito

    They said, “We get encouraged to see voices in mainstream media catching up with the idea that there are serious scientific reasons to doubt evolutionary theory.”

    Huh? They care about the mainstream media and not biologists? They’re publicly admitting that PR and not science is their goal! They want mainstream press coverage since they know that there is no debate within science.

    Their approach to science is like Fox’ Roger Ailes’ approach to news coverage: He put up a façade that looked like the then-established CNN, with none of the expense of background research and journalism. “People don’t want to be informed,” he said. “They want to feel informed”

    Likewise, Creationists want the apparent prestige that comes with mainstream acceptance, wasting little time or money on the essence of science.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Almost all life on Earth was wiped out 2 billion years ago, a new study says

    A new study found extreme changes in the atmosphere killed almost 100% of life on Earth about 2 billion years ago…
    The study focused on a phenomenon called the “Great Oxidation Event.” It goes like this: Billions of years ago, only micro-organisms survived on Earth. When they photosynthesized, they altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere, creating a glut of oxygen they ultimately could not sustain.
    Micro-organisms exhausted the nutrients they needed to create oxygen, which knocked the Earth’s atmosphere off-kilter. This led to an “enormous drop” in the biosphere — the amount of life on Earth. Scientists weren’t sure just how drastic the drop was until now.
    The team’s calculations showed that anywhere from 80 to 99.5% of organisms were wiped out at the end of the Great Oxidation Event, Hodgskiss said. There were simply too many of them, and they produced too much oxygen.

    —–
    Evolution stuck in slime for a billion years (2014)
    (Linked here because I like their graph of oxygenation)

    https://scx1.b-cdn.net/csz/news/800/2014/evolutionstu.jpg

    • ThaneOfDrones

      The exponential scale of the Y axis brings out the features you may not see on other graphs, like the one you will find on Wikipedia.

      • Michael Neville

        I like the “Boring Billion”,

        • ThaneOfDrones
        • Lark62

          Have you read Robert Hazen’s The Story of Earth? It ealks through the history of earth including snowball and boring billion.

        • ThaneOfDrones

          No, but I read his remake of Genesis. Much better than the original.

    • In other words, a sort of filter. I can imagine a lot of worlds where life went extinct as things went as pear-shaped if not more and could not adapt. Either that or there was no oxigenation event, so lifeforms would at best be rudimentary multi-celled ones highly unlikely to evolve to something more developed even if the star lasted more than the Sun.

      In one side science’s findings, as beautiful as terrible and subject to change, and in the other the ruminations of either Bronze Age cattle herders or people who wrote anti-Roman Empire propaganda, maybe having a bad trip, that have not changed in millennia and are taken by some as the only, absolute truth. It’s crystal clear what I prefer.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    The Earth began to move 2.5 billion years ago

    Plate tectonics …

    Exactly when the
    phenomenon began in the 4.5 billion-year history of the Earth is a matter of considerable debate. One school of thought contends that it has been a feature of the planet’s geology almost since its formation, while another suggests that it emerged only comparatively recently, about one billion years ago.
    The latest findings, published in the journal Nature, place the start of tectonics pretty much midway between the two estimates…

    • NS Alito

      As it cools, the Earth’s crust has thickened; plate tectonics requires some amount of…well, plate. I look at Mars’ Olympic Mons and think that eventually, as the Earth cools, it will fewer and fewer paths by which the magma can escape.

    • Cozmo the Magician

      The Turtle Moves!

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Thank goodness no one is bringing up oldcay usionfay in this thread. I think we’ve heard enough about that for a while.

  • MadScientist1023

    It is funny how an alleged ID believer hits the nail on the head when he basically voices the biggest problem with Intelligent Design: if we were the product of Intellident Design, why isn’t our design more intelligent? Why is the history that lead to us so complex and convoluted? Why did life on Earth hit so many dead-ends and spend *so* much time on unintelligent life? If we are the product of someone’s design, why does it seem like life ultimately designed by Rube Goldberg? IDers claim the design in life is self-evident, which is why it’s so hilarious to watch them get stuck on how poorly designed we are.

    • NS Alito

      My own hypothesis derived from the original ID thinking was that life was designed by sleep-deprived cosmic grad students while they were stymied on unrelated research.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    In which someone tries to correct a popular misconception:

    Evolution doesn’t proceed in a straight line

  • Cozmo the Magician

    I want to start my own ‘think tank’. I think I’ll call it ‘The Un-Covery Institue’. Our mission will be to promote the idea that buried under all the sauce and pasta on every plate is a hidden secret meatball that only the devote will find. This Magic Meatball will then allow them to send Thoughts & Prayers back in time to create the species of their choice, as long as it is a species that was already approved by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But , having that meatball means the species was really created by the person who eats it.

    Go ahead Discovery Institute, Prove ME WRONG.

  • ThaneOfDrones
    • NS Alito

      Great. Now we can discover species as they die off….

  • Raging Bee

    A Response to David Gelernter’s Attack on Evolution (5 of 4)

    I’m waiting to hear Seven of Nine’s response…

  • ThaneOfDrones
  • TheNuszAbides

    An intelligent designer makes perfect sense in the abstract.

    Spoken like a true acid-head.