The Questionable Authority

Michael Majerus has spent countless hours conducting research on the Peppered Moth (Biston betularia). He’s observed them in the field, bred them in the lab, watched them get eaten by things, kept careful count of the things that he’s seen, and, recently, given a talk about his findings. Jonathan Wells has spent, to the best of my knowledge, absolutely no time doing any actual research on natural selection or moths, but that certainly didn’t stop him from launching a full-throated attack on Majerus.

In this attack, Wells manages to misrepresent a lot of things. This should come as no surprise to those of you who have followed his work in the past, of course. Wells vendetta against all things evolutionary might be a mission from God, but his tactics are hardly heavenly. A Jonathan Wells essay that lies about something is hardly news, and it wouldn’t ordinarily be something that I’d write about. In this case, though, I’m going to make an exception. I simply can’t abide seeing good science and good scientists maligned by a two-bit hack with a defective moral compass.

Wells article is long enough that I’m not going to bother with the whole thing. Instead, I’m just going to hit the more egregious parts. Let’s start with this one:

So crucial evidence for Darwin’s theory – the origin of species by means of natural selection – is missing. And peppered moths don’t provide it.

Even if the classic peppered moth story were 100% true, it would demonstrate only a reversible shift in the proportions of two varieties in a preexisting species. It would tell us nothing about the origin of those varieties, much less of Biston betularia, moths, insects, or animals in the first place. [bold in original]

So the peppered myth is not only dead, but also irrelevant.

To begin with, the peppered moths are, at least in most of the examples I’ve seen, not cited as an example of the formation of a new species. They are cited as an example of how a new trait can spread through a population if it confers a selective advantage.

You see, what Wells does not tell you is that the dark (melanic) form of the peppered moth was entirely unknown prior to 1848. Remember, we’re not talking about an insect from the Amazon here. This is a moth that is found in Great Britain. The Industrial Revolution was well into it’s second half-century, and insect collecting had been a popular hobby for almost as long. Despite these two facts, no dark moth was found prior to 1848. After 1848, the proportion rose rapidly – according to Majerus, over 95% of the moths in some areas were dark forms by the end of the century.

It is true that the frequency of the dark forms is now in decline. The environment is (slowly) recovering from the heavy pollution that favored the dark moths, and as the environment returns to its prior condition the dark form becomes a disadvantage. That does not mean that what happened prior to the environmental recovery is irrelevant to evolution by natural selection – it’s a very good example of the mechanism acting to significantly change the makeup of a population.

Wells continues:

Re-enter Michael Majerus. According to an August 25 story in The Independent (London), Majerus has “spent the past seven years collecting data from a series of experiments he has carried out in his own rambling back garden. It has involved him getting up each day before dawn and then spending several hours looking out of his study window armed with a telescope and notepad.”

In his August 23 lecture, Majerus summarized his results as follows:

“I have had occasion to spend time carefully scrutinizing the trunks, branches and twigs of a limited set of trees at the experimental site. During this time I have found 135 peppered moths, resting in what I have no reason to presume are not their freely chosen natural resting sites…

Wells then goes on to criticize this. We’ll get to that set of misrepresentations shortly, but before we do I think it’s important to note that Wells creates the impression here that all that Majerus did was look at resting sites. In reality, that was secondary to the main focus of his experiment.

The bulk of the work that Majerus did involved running a set of predation experiments to see how much more often dark forms were eaten by birds compared with light forms. He compared the results with these experiments with the changes in frequency that he found by doing capture experiments at a different site over a period of several years, and found a strong correlation between the predation likelihood he observed and the actual decline in dark forms.

Put more simply, Majerus found that the decline in the proportion of dark moths is due to natural selection driven by bird predation. Wells definitely doesn’t want to talk about that, so he pretends that it didn’t happen. Instead, he raises some entirely irrelevant criticisms of Majerus’s empirical observations:

Majerus concludes: “While the results may be somewhat biased towards lower parts of the tree, due to sampling technique, I believe that they give the best field evidence that we have to date of where peppered moths spend the day.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

In the seven years during which Majerus was peering out his window, far more than 135 peppered moths visited his back yard, but (as previous research showed) he couldn’t see most of them because they were resting high in the upper branches of his trees. Those he could see from the ground represented only a tiny fraction of the total.

In his 1954 classic, How To Lie With Statistics, Darrell Huff devoted his first chapter to sampling bias. He wrote: “The test of the random sample is this: Does every name or thing in the whole group have an equal chance to be in the sample?” Obviously, the vast majority of peppered moths were NOT in Majerus’s sample because they were resting where he couldn’t see them. Yet the very question he set out to answer was where they rest! If Huff were writing his book today, he might well use Majerus’s statistic as an egregious example of sampling bias.

I’ve got to hand it to Wells. The man calls someone else a liar, lying in the process. That’s chutzpah.

If you haven’t spotted it, the problem with Wells claim is this: Majerus did not claim to have collected a random sample. He did not carry out statistical tests as if he had collected a random sample. He clearly stated that he did not sample randomly, and he described exactly how his sampling method differed from a random sample. The only claim that he made about the resting spot data is that it’s “the best field evidence that we have to date” about where the moths rest. Period. End of claim. Wells’ obfuscatory nattering about random samples is completely irrelevant to that claim.

Finally, we have Well’s (mis)characterization of some remarks Majerus made on the subject of religion at the end of his talk. Wells writes:

And witness Majerus’s mind-numbing conclusion: The “fact of Darwinian evolution” shows that humans invented God and that there will be “no second coming; no helping hand from on high.”

If Jonathan Wells strings multiple very short quotes together in a single sentence, it’s a safe bet that a look at the broader context will show something very different. As it turns out, this is actually one of the times when the safe bet really is a winner. The bit that Wells quoted about the fact of evolution actually appears a few paragraphs after the rest of the material. It also seems that Majerus didn’t actually say that Darwinian evolution disproves God. That fact is merely an inconvenience for Wells, who wasn’t about to let what Majerus said interfere with his description of what Majerus said.

Here’s what Majerus wrote. It’s a long quote, but I’m going to reproduce it in full both to make sure that the full context shows up and because it’s worth reading just for its own sake. I’m also going to conclude with it, because I don’t think I could come up with a better explanation of why it’s so important to keep fighting Wells and the others like him who are trying so hard to extinguish the light of reason.

It is not my place to tell people what to believe. But I know that we are making a horrendous mess of this planet, and I do not have faith in some supernatural intervention putting it right: No second coming; No helping hand from on high; No last minute redemption.

I caught my first butterfly when I was four, and started recording peppered moth forms when I was 10. I am getting old, and have spent my life in scientific enquiry and discovery. And it has been a great life!

Until now, for instead of the vision of a world made better by the appliance of science, I see a future of ever-increasing global problems. I probably won’t see the worst of what’s coming – but I fear for my children, who will face escalating problems of climate change, over-population, pollution, starvation, disease and conflict. And for their children and grandchildren, I have little optimism.

We need to address global problems now, and to do so with any chance of success, we have to base our decisions on scientific facts: and that includes the fact of Darwinian evolution.

Comments

  1. #1 Cedric Katesby
    August 30, 2007

    Well’s criticisms look decidedly moth-eaten.

  2. #2 RBH
    August 30, 2007

    That Wells is a liar, pure and simple, is as well established as, well, the theory of evolution. That the Disco Institute continues to pay him to lie is an indictment of not only their morality and judgment, but of their entire theistic worldview, the one they want to put in place of “materialism.”

  3. #3 Troy Britain
    August 30, 2007

    You have to love it. The ID crowd spent years crapping on the text book example of the Peppered moth in magazine and newspaper articles, books, and speeches, but now that it has been re-confirmed as a legitimate example of natural selection in action, they try and play it off as if it was no big deal in the first place.

    If it was really no big deal then why did they put SO much energy into attacking it?

    You’re not fooling anyone Dr. Wells.

  4. #4 IanBrown_101
    August 30, 2007

    Ahhh, FtK, that wonderful bastion of logical thought and free thinking, posted the Wells stuff on Wes Elsberry’s blog as evidence against the moth research.

    Kinda looks like she was a leeeeettle hasty there.

  5. #5 Nick (Matzke)
    August 30, 2007

    You have to love it. The ID crowd spent years crapping on the text book example of the Peppered moth in magazine and newspaper articles, books, and speeches, but now that it has been re-confirmed as a legitimate example of natural selection in action, they try and play it off as if it was no big deal in the first place.

    If it was really no big deal then why did they put SO much energy into attacking it?

    You’re not fooling anyone Dr. Wells.

    Posted by: Troy Britain | August 30, 2007 10:27 PM

    This is exactly on point. What really strikes me is their cowardice. A real man would suck it up and admit that the science went the other way. Jonathan Wells, Paul Nelson, et al., have decided to just obfuscate instead. I never had much respect for Wells, but I thought Nelson had a few glimmerings of honesty. I guess not.

  6. #6 Les Lane
    August 30, 2007

    The best irony is that the peppered moth story is an example of microevolution which creationists claim to accept.

  7. #7 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    August 31, 2007

    Hey, Les, the whole of ID is such a jumble of mixed opinions and obfuscations and propaganda that it doesn’t really matter how they natter about macro- v micro- evolution. IF they perceive it to be an icon of evolution, they just need to write bad stuff about it on the premise that anything that hurts real Darwinism helps their cause.

    They don’t get the irony because they don’t care. Kettlewell pinned moths to a display, ergo God wins. Majerus didn’t use a truly random sampling technique, ergo God wins. Haeckel mis-represented some drawings, ergo God wins. Leakey stole a shinbone, ergo God wins. Malaria responds to chloroquine, ergo God wins. Altruism is an abstract concept, ergo God wins. God always wins, even if they have to twist stuff and obfuscate it so God can win.

  8. #8 Stephen
    August 31, 2007

    Leakey stole a shinbone …

    [pedantry mode on]
    I think you’re thinking of Johanson and the incident with the femur.
    [pedantry mode off]

  9. #9 Soren
    August 31, 2007

    I think you’re thinking of Johanson and the incident with the femur.

    Now the truth is out its to late to put it back in the bottle. Expect to see creationists referring to the great Leakey shinbone heist of ’57!

  10. #10 Daniel
    August 31, 2007

    I attended this lecture during the XI Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology here in Uppsala and I have to say that seeing someone speak with such eloquence, clarity, dedication and joy as Michael Majerus did only worsens my reaction to these ignorant and pathetic little men and their ignorant and pathetic little ideas.

    Thanks for the link to the transcript by the way.

  11. #11 Jud
    August 31, 2007

    From the Kitzmiller opinion:

    “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.”

    More unintentional irony from Wells, I see.

  12. #12 rimpal
    August 31, 2007

    The ID chumps are cowards first. Now Wells could simply have written a letter to the journal concerned or to the refrees. But the guy has been so out of touch with science that he can scarcely stribng a couple of sentences together. Even if it is monumental waste of time, we must look forward to the next kangaroo court style “hearing” to mock these guys!

  13. #13 Josh
    August 31, 2007

    Anyone else notice that by the criteria he used here:

    “The test of the random sample is this: Does every name or thing in the whole group have an equal chance to be in the sample?”

    Each moth does have an equal chance to be in the sample. Unless he feels that they’re choosing resting sites based on some form of hierarchy? Most of them arn’t in the sample, but they each have an equal chance to be. If a sample includes the entire population then it IS the entire population, not a sample.

  14. #14 Mike Dunford
    August 31, 2007

    Josh:

    In this instance, the population being sampled was the resting places, not the moths themselves.

  15. #15 Julian
    August 31, 2007

    Of course they don’t push their campaign in the journals; every time they’ve done so they’ve been exposed as the liars and cheats that they are. Better to fight their campaign in the public square, where most of the audience not only lacks scientific knowledge, but where sophistry can make a lie just as competitive as the truth.

  16. #16 Ftk
    August 31, 2007

    Personally, I’d have to agree that the whole moth saga is getting old. What irritates me though, is that since the dawn of Darwin, high school textbooks have used these simple changes in microevolution and extrapolated them to no end.

    Good examples of actual macroevolutionary changes are never mentioned in the texbooks because there really aren’t any.

    It seems to me, that students leave class with the understanding that micro=macro. Case closed – all aspects of the ToE are “fact”. Darwinism rules.

    And to claim that the peppered moth provides “proof of evolution”? *eyes rolling* It provides proof that the mechanisms of evolution are certainly observable in nature, but even Jacob in OT history understood how natural selection worked. Darwinism is a whole different ball of wax.

    And, I simply can’t imagine that Darwin is going to be the saving grace from “over-population, pollution, starvation, disease and conflict” in the world.

    Good grief…

    One other thing that always amuses me is that those who don’t agree with the infamous “second coming”, seem to relay to their cohorts that Christians could care less about the future of our planet…as if we just abuse and use because we’re waiting for the almighty to come clean it up. Sorry, but that is assinine. We believe all of nature to be a *gift* from God…to be cherished and cared for. That should be evident in that Christian churches organize many events in regard to this theme. If some are skeptical of what they hear in regard to global warming, etc…I think a certain amount of skepticism is usually a good thing. Goodness knows, we’re not the only skeptics out there!

  17. #17 IanBrown_101
    August 31, 2007

    ‘And to claim that the peppered moth provides “proof of evolution”? *eyes rolling* It provides proof that the mechanisms of evolution are certainly observable in nature, but even Jacob in OT history understood how natural selection worked. Darwinism is a whole different ball of wax.’

    Here is a good example of how FtK totally fails to understnad what’s going on, and makes the other half of the conversation up in her head.

  18. #18 Jeff
    August 31, 2007

    Examples of ‘macroevolution’ FtK:

    -evolution of whales
    -evolution of horses
    -evolution of humans
    -evolution of amphibians
    -evolution of mammmals from synapsid reptiles
    -evolution of birds from archosaurian reptiles

    I guess there aren’t any good examples, eh FtK?

    The examples of the peppered moths are used to demonstrate the mechanism of natural selection. Natural selection was not widely accepted by biologist as the prime mover of evolution until th 1940s, so it does make sense to spend some time on the issue.

  19. #19 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 31, 2007

    Wells’ distortion of Majerus context in the end is an example of why I dislike the use of unnecessary religious metaphors. It is always a “heads you win, tails I loose” situation with some crackpots in the audience.

    Other than that I think Majerus went far beyond duty on this one. Early mornings, bleech! Now I remember why I prefer lab reproducible phenomena.

    and makes the other half of the conversation up in her head.

    Apparently she needs to fill that head with something.

    Knowing full well that Wells lies Ftk still consider the creationist moth myth as a moral tale to tell kids. (“And to claim that the peppered moth provides “proof of evolution”?”) I can’t help but read that tag as “Frak the kids”.

  20. #20 Mooser
    August 31, 2007

    Science is the depressing process of finding out how much we don’t know. It’ll really bring you down, folks.
    And so many books, and so many specialities and sub-specialities, it’s awful. It’s enough to make you feel dumb. And nobody likes feeling dumb.
    But if you had all the answers, you would never need to feel dumb, and if you could get them all by reading, or just brandishing, a certain book, you would be smarter than all those worry wart scientists.
    It’s your choice people! Dumb or smart, you have the power to choose. Think about it this way: what kind of grades would your child get in school if all he told the teacher was how much he didn’t know? Wouldn’t you rather your child knew everything?

  21. #21 Mooser
    August 31, 2007

    I just thought of this: I’m convinced telling your child how much he doesn’t know, and that he will never know it all, is probably tantamount to child abuse! Who would do that to a child? It would break his spirit completely!
    And what a disadvantage he would be at when competing with other children who knew it all, and knew they know it all, and were ready to tell the teacher how much they knew when called upon?

  22. #22 FungiFromYuggoth
    August 31, 2007

    even Jacob in OT history understood how natural selection worked

    Great googly moogly. I’ll admit that Jacob’s understanding of natural selection was about equivalent to FtK’s, but that’s as far as I’ll go. In Genesis 30:37-39, Jacob places striped branches in front of the flocks when they mate in order to create streaked, speckled, or spotted young. That isn’t natural selection, and it sure isn’t Mendelianism either.

  23. #23 Altabin
    August 31, 2007

    And to claim that the peppered moth provides “proof of evolution”? *eyes rolling* It provides proof that the mechanisms of evolution are certainly observable in nature, but even Jacob in OT history understood how natural selection worked. Darwinism is a whole different ball of wax.

    Yes. Because only a damn fool would believe that lots of tiny changes could add up to a big change.

  24. #24 Ftk
    August 31, 2007

    Mike,

    I just noticed you’re moderating. I posted my last comment twice because I thought the first one hadn’t gone through. My initial comment to this post went through without moderation.

    Please post my second entry in moderation rather than the first because I added a few things to my second try at getting it to go through.

    Thanks.

  25. #25 Kesh
    August 31, 2007

    Posted by: Ftk

    One other thing that always amuses me is that those who don’t agree with the infamous “second coming”, seem to relay to their cohorts that Christians could care less about the future of our planet…as if we just abuse and use because we’re waiting for the almighty to come clean it up. Sorry, but that is assinine. We believe all of nature to be a *gift* from God…to be cherished and cared for.

    You should tell that to the young men who left the Christian college I was attending. See, they were majoring in Agriculture, but decided to leave for another college. Why?

    Because this school taught responsible farming, and ethical treatment of livestock. They objected because, according to the Bible, mankind has “dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.” (Genesis 1:26) To these men, that meant they could do what they wanted with the land and animals; environmentally friendly farming was “nature worship” in their view.

    For some Christians, being responsible with the planet is far too liberal a concept. They have control and they want to keep it. And they feel a God-given mandate to do as they please, regardless of the consequences, because God will put it right in the end.

    I know that not all Christians are that way. But I had to call you out for using such a broad brush, and trying to paint all Christians as environmentalists.

  26. #26 Ftk
    August 31, 2007

    hmmm…must be a length of post thing. My short posts seem to go through, but my longer ones don’t.

    Crap…I’ll await moderation, Mike.

  27. #27 Ftk
    August 31, 2007

    Well, Kesh, quite thankfully I’ve never met those type of Christians personally, so perhaps others should be aware of their “broad brushing” as well.

  28. #28 R. Paul Wiegand
    August 31, 2007

    FtK: I’ll leave the specifics on evolution to others.

    … those who don’t agree with the infamous “second coming”, seem to relay to their cohorts that Christians could care less about the future of our planet…

    That’s unfair. I don’t believe in the second coming, and I also do not believe any generalizations about theists with respect to environmental stewardship. Can you define “those”? Or perhaps I a merely a “cohort”?

    I don’t understand how you get that from the quote Mike provided in any event. The point at the end of the piece was that there are serious global environmental issues, and we cannot rely on divine intervention to solve them. Where did Majerus state that Christians don’t care about the environment?

    If some are skeptical of what they hear in regard to global warming, etc…I think a certain amount of skepticism is usually a good thing. Goodness knows, we’re not the only skeptics out there!

    Certainly scientific skepticism is good! And not just “usually” or by a “certain” amount, but about all things observable in the natural world.

    How are you being skeptical?

    To be clear: Scientific/empirical skepticism is a method that assigns a very low likelihood to any assertion until sufficient evidence demonstrates its verisimilitude. Simply denying that something is true, regardless of the evidence, is not skepticism.

    You do not find the extent evidence of evolution and global warming convincing? Surprising, but so be it … I wont tell you what to believe or how to evaluate what you read and ponder; however, to claim that there is no evidence is simply dishonest.

    But I think the main point of this post is not about accepting the evidence of Darwinian evolution, but rather about the integrity of Jonathan Wells. Do you find him credible?

    Regardless of your views on the work itself or the science of evolutionary biology, look at Wells’ and Majerus’ two quotes and explain how Wells’ was faithfully summarizing Majerus. And if you agree that it was a gross and unreasonable distortion of Majerus’ meaning, surely you must agree that Wells’ credibility is severely reduced by that tactic?

  29. #29 Ftk
    August 31, 2007

    btw, Ian, please tell “Oldman” to read the entire story. He’s actually the one who is showing his “ignorance”. Jacob certainly knew what he was doing! lol

    Here ya go.

  30. #30 Kesh
    August 31, 2007

    Posted by: Ftk

    Well, Kesh, quite thankfully I’ve never met those type of Christians personally, so perhaps others should be aware of their “broad brushing” as well.

    I’m trying to parse this statement, but it’s not entirely clear to me what you’re saying. Who are the “others” you’re referring to?

    And I wouldn’t be so thankful you’ve never met that type of Christian. Try visiting some other churches, or even reading about them. I admire the core tenets of Christianity, but I’ve found far, far too many churches that espouse very un-Christian tenets. If you’d never met any who believe in the “dominion over the Earth” concept, you should make yourself aware of what some other Christians are espousing. You might be disturbed by some of it, and then could at least defend your own branch from accusations they do/believe the same.

  31. #31 Ftk
    August 31, 2007

    Kesh,

    It’s interesting to me that I’d never heard of the term “dominionism” until I entered this debate about 3 years ago.

    I’ve *certainly* not lived a sheltered life. I’ve lived in 5 different states and been a member of and visited *numerous* churches. I’ve been on boards at some of these churches as well, and I’ve never seen or heard of any plans or even a whisper of anyone suggesting that we should support a Christian theocracy.

    I think rather the fear is the overwhelming fact that a rather modern form of secularism is taking over the nation and what that actually means for our students and our own children.

    Actually, I take that back. *One* time I remember a woman telling me about one of Barton’s books…the guy who, according to some, is on this supposed mission to take over the government and establish a “theocracy”. The book was certainly not part of anything going on at the church, and I didn’t get the idea from this woman that she had a “theocracy” in mind either. She just relayed some of the things that the founding father’s said that she wasn’t aware of. Barton can be misleading if one doesn’t do their homework.

  32. #32 Kesh
    August 31, 2007

    No, they never use the word “theocracy.” But I’ve heard plenty of people just say we should have a nation based on Christian law, Christian morals, Christian ideals. A government based on the teachings of Christianity.

    In other words, a Christian theocracy. If the entire rule of law is based on one religion, that’s a theocracy, whether one uses the word or not.

    I was a bit surprised by this quote:

    It’s interesting to me that I’d never heard of the term “dominionism” until I entered this debate about 3 years ago.

    I was raised in a Baptist church at first, later a Methodist one. The Baptist church explicitly endorsed dominionism, right to the very word, while the Methodist one took a more neutral stance and warned against that view being used for materialistic purposes. Both of these sermons I heard as a kid, at least 20 years ago. I’m not denigrating your experiences, but I’m surprised you never crossed paths with it until so recently.

  33. #33 Ftk
    August 31, 2007

    I think it may be more likely that people tend to vote on issues in accordance with their worldview. Of course, that is to be expected from anyone regardless of their philosophy about life.

    I learned, after landing in this debate, that there are those out there somewhere who would like to inject Old Testament law on the government, which is what I’ve been led to believe is part of “domionionism”. But, these groups have to be few and far between because the *grand* majority of Christian churches believe that Christ’s sacrifice for us did away with the OT law codes.

    I also can’t imagine that most people would want a government based on only the religious teaching of Christianity. That would raise riots like never seen before. And, if the government were ever to allow one particular brand of religion to be taught in our public schools, it would open the door to all. I hardly think that most Christians want to deal with all of that either…hell, all we’d ever have time for in school would be religion!

    While I wasn’t brought up in a baptist church, I was brought up Lutheran and my husband Methodist, and neither of us has run across domionionism. We’re non-denominational now.

  34. #34 MartinM
    August 31, 2007

    surely you must agree that Wells’ credibility is severely reduced by that tactic?

    That depends. Can credibility be negative?

  35. #35 mark
    August 31, 2007

    It seems to me, that students leave class with the understanding that micro=macro.

    Please, ftk, explain what the difference between micro- and macro-evolution is. How does one distinguish between microevolution and macroevolution in a particular evolving form? For the examples of macroevolution given above (by Jeff), what specifically leads you to deny they exemplify macroevolution (“no it isn’t! is not a valid answer)? I’m also curious about textbooks extrapolating this example of natural selection “to no end”–I’ve never come across an example of such extrapolation; could you please provide some?

  36. #36 windy
    August 31, 2007

    …even Jacob in OT history understood how natural selection worked.

    If it works anything like in the OT, maybe the moths bear speckled young because they mate in sight of tree trunks speckled with lichen! Has anyone tested this?

  37. #37 Kesh
    August 31, 2007

    Posted by: Ftk

    I learned, after landing in this debate, that there are those out there somewhere who would like to inject Old Testament law on the government, which is what I’ve been led to believe is part of “domionionism”. But, these groups have to be few and far between because the *grand* majority of Christian churches believe that Christ’s sacrifice for us did away with the OT law codes.

    Ah, no. I’m curious which part of the country you’re familiar with, as this is nothing like my experiences in the midwest and south.

    The *grand* majority of Christians in these areas believe that Christ did away with some of the OT laws: the ones dealing with eating specific animals, what fabrics to wear, etc. The laws regarding behavior, such as homosexuality, a wife’s obedience to her husband, etc. are considered to be inherent to their Christianity. These are the sorts of laws they push for in their communities, and wish to be applied to the whole country.

    I’ve yet to find any church that claims Jesus did away with all of those laws. Most cite Matthew to find a loophole that only the material laws are invalid, and Jesus wants to uphold the behavioral ones. Of course, each church selects a slightly different list of which law goes into which category…

  38. #38 JJ Anderson
    August 31, 2007

    I’m grateful for the hard work that Michael Majerus did to splendidly confirm the previous peppered moth results. But I wish he hadn’t launched into comments about God at the end of his speech. It seems inappropriate in that venue (unless other speakers at the conference in Sweden were doing the same thing?). His wording was relatively mild and meant to be humorous, but ironically it has backfired because it confirms the worst fears of those at Uncommon Descent and elsewhere that acceptance of evolution requires giving up God. That’s not at all what Majerus said, but of course it’s being construed that way.

  39. #39 Lee
    August 31, 2007

    JJ Anderson,

    No, Majerus’ words are not being construed that way. They are being LIED ABOUT that way.

    In context, Majerus was clearly saying nothing more than that the world is in a mess, and we can’t count on divine intervention to fix it. That is as close as he came to sayign anything at all about “g_d.”

    I strenuously oppose any argument that anyone should censor thoughts and ideas just because some IDiot might lie about what he said to make a point.

  40. #40 windy
    August 31, 2007

    That is as close as he came to sayign anything at all about “g_d.”

    No, see the PDF of his talk, he does mention God. But so what – this was in Sweden, God is lucky to get any press there, good or bad.

    And besides, I think a large part of his motivation for this talk was the creationist-driven attacks on him and the whole moth business, so it’s not so far fetched that he mentions religion.

  41. #41 Ftk
    August 31, 2007

    Just fyi, I’ve tried to address several points made in various comments today, but I can’t get them through. Could be that I’m too verbose and the length of my posts might be keeping them from going through.

    Hopefully, Mike will get in here at some point.

  42. #42 truth machine
    September 1, 2007

    thought Nelson had a few glimmerings of honesty. I guess not.

    Isn’t this the 20th or so time you’ve said this, Nick? There must be something about Nelson that I’m missing (or immune to) that causes people to get the impression that he’s honest despite the extensive evidence to the contrary.

  43. #43 truth machine
    September 1, 2007

    FtK: I’ve tried to address several points made in various comments today, but I can’t get them through.

    Maybe there’s a truth and logic filter in place.

  44. #44 truth machine
    September 1, 2007

    But I wish he hadn’t launched into comments about God at the end of his speech.

    Don’t be an ass; all he said is that he doesn’t have faith in the supernatural to solve the problems we face — it was a personal statement about the importance of basing our decisions on reality.

  45. #45 truth machine
    September 1, 2007

    I also can’t imagine …

    Why do people say this as if it indicated anything other than their own limitations?

  46. #46 truth machine
    September 1, 2007

    Good examples of actual macroevolutionary changes are never mentioned in the texbooks because there really aren’t any.

    False and false — radically so. The “tree of life” in all those textbooks is nothing but such examples. Of course it doesn’t show cats turning into dogs, or a species that is half fish and half buffalo. But every single organism is “transitional”, as I’m sure you have been told over and over and over …

    If some are skeptical of what they hear in regard to global warming, etc…I think a certain amount of skepticism is usually a good thing.

    There’s a difference between skepticism and denial. The global warming deniers are in fact extremely gullible, believing every false claim put out by industry hacks — much the way that you believe the most absurd nonsense about biology.

  47. #47 truth machine
    September 1, 2007

    Wells’ distortion of Majerus context in the end is an example of why I dislike the use of unnecessary religious metaphors. It is always a “heads you win, tails I loose” situation with some crackpots in the audience.

    But they’ll lie about what you say even if you say nothing. I’m with Lee: “I strenuously oppose any argument that anyone should censor thoughts and ideas just because some IDiot might lie about what he said to make a point.”

  48. #48 truth machine
    September 1, 2007

    One other thing that always amuses me is that those who don’t agree with the infamous “second coming”, seem to relay to their cohorts that Christians could care less about the future of our planet…

    It’s often hard to distinguish between stupidity and dishonesty, but that comment reflects at least one of them. Certainly there are some Christians like that, such as James Watts, but Al Gore is a Christian and he seems to care quite a bit, to name just one. And as Kesh pointed out, Majerus didn’t say anything of the sort.

  49. #49 truth machine
    September 1, 2007

    Er, James Watt (secy of the Interior under Reagan, not the inventor of the steam engine)

  50. #50 truth machine
    September 1, 2007

    In this instance, the population being sampled was the resting places, not the moths themselves.

    Uh, no. “The position of each moth was scored for resting site (trunk, branch, twig)” — moths were sampled and their resting sites were recorded. Certainly it isn’t the case that resting places were sampled and the presence of moths then recorded.

  51. #51 truth machine
    September 1, 2007

    “Each moth does have an equal chance to be in the sample.”

    Uh, no. Moths that predominately rest in places that weren’t observable don’t have an equal chance of being in the sample. The question is, is there any reason to suppose that moths resting higher have significantly different habits than moths resting lower? If not, then Well’s objection is no more relevant than that Majerus only observed his own trees and not those of his neighbors.

  52. #52 truth machine
    September 1, 2007

    even Jacob in OT history understood how natural selection worked. Darwinism is a whole different ball of wax.

    Natural selection is the process that Darwin proposed for how evolution occurs, oh clueless one. And the story of Joseph says nothing about evolution or natural selection, only about the ignorance of nomads thousands of years ago — ignorance that persists among those who worship their relics.

  53. #53 fusilier
    September 1, 2007

    I think truthmachine has already mentioned this, but BOTH James Watt, Sec. Interior, and Earl Butz, Sec. Agriculture, under Reagan, were “dominionists” who saw no problem in raping the environment, since the End Times were a’comin’.

    Further, I’m elderly and decrepit enough to have seen the Cuyahoga River on fire back in the late 1960s. the cause was refinery discharges from Marathon Oil Co. (Ashland, OH. Where the heck were the fundie churches then?

    Nowhere.

    fusilier
    James 2:24

  54. #54 truth machine
    September 1, 2007

    the story of Joseph

    I meant Jacob, of course.

  55. #55 Ftk
    September 1, 2007

    Well, I give up. Evidently, Mike’s not going to put my stuff through.

    My website will be back up in a couple days and I’ve included a FAQ site that addresses several of the issues above.

    http://reasonablekansans.blogspot.com/

    If you’re interested, I hope to have it running by tommorrow or Monday.

  56. #56 Mike Dunford
    September 1, 2007

    Ftk:

    As I just said in my email response, I can’t find them to put them through in the first place. If I could find them, I would. I can’t.

    As I said in my email response, I apologize. Please feel free to resubmit them.

  57. #57 And on the seventh day, I have a day off
    September 2, 2007

    I love it where Liar-Liar-Pants-On-Fire Wells writes:

    In other words, the “conclusion” of Majerus’s argument is actually his starting-point. In this Alice-in-Wonderland logic, it’s “conclusion first, evidence later”.

    Um, isn’t this the Discovery Institutes’s only approved research method? What’s his gripe?

  58. #58 slpage
    September 4, 2007

    It is interesting to note that FtK ‘moderated’ (i.e., did not allow) posts critical of her position on her blog and had for a time turned it into an invitation-only gabfest, yet here she is, basking in the glow of free speech on the blog of one of those mind-shckling, oppression of dissent Darwin-lovers…

    I left a post at her blog re: falsification. It will be interesitng to see if ti gets past “moderation.”

  59. #59 S. Fisher
    September 4, 2007

    FtK: Come to the light…come to the light. You’re close. It’s hard to come to the realization that what you learned as a child was no more than indoctrination in the cult of preferance of your parents and geographical area. Open your mind a little further…you do seem capable of that realization.

  60. #60 Ichthyic
    September 5, 2007

    I’ve *certainly* not lived a sheltered life. I’ve lived in 5 different states and been a member of and visited *numerous* churches.

    “I’m not a hermit! I’ve lived in several different caves!”

    uh…

  61. #61 Ichthyic
    September 5, 2007

    Open your mind a little further…you do seem capable of that realization.

    trust me, she’s not. don’t even waste your time.

  62. #62 slpage
    September 5, 2007

    Nope, didn’t get through.

    The usual creationist double-standard. FtK is busily censoring those she does nto agree with while being allowed to freely comment on places like this. It is really the only way the creationist mythology can propogate.

  63. #63 Bob :
    September 6, 2007

    Ftk is from Kansas and she claims to have never heard of a “Dominionist”. I find my self skeptical of this since we are talking about Fed Phelps home state and all that.

    Tell me Ftk; are you one of those Christians who believes that you have the right to lie to unbelievers just as long as it is doing God’s work?

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