Barr Bashes ID

Writing in the religious journal First Things University of Delaware physics professor Stephen Barr lays into the ID Movement. Here’s the first paragraph:

It is time to take stock: What has the intelligent design movement achieved? As science, nothing. The goal of science is to increase our understanding of the natural world, and there is not a single phenomenon that we understand better today or are likely to understand better in the future through the efforts of ID theorists. If we are to look for ID achievements, then, it must be in the realm of natural theology. And there, I think, the movement must be judged not only a failure, but a debacle.

Preach it, brother!

Sadly, much of what comes after this most excellent opening is not very persuasive. Let us take a more detailed look:

Here’s paragraph two:

Very few religious skeptics have been made more open to religious belief because of ID arguments. These arguments not only have failed to persuade, they have done positive harm by convincing many people that the concept of an intelligent designer is bound up with a rejection of mainstream science.

I can not imagine how Barr presumes to know any of this. He certainly does not provide any evidence to support his claims. I have no doubt the ID crowd will come back with philosopher Antony Flew, who, after a lifetime of defending atheism, became more open to religious claims as the result of ID-style arguments.

I hope he is right about no one being moved toward religious belief by ID writing, but I do not think he is. The ID folks are tapping into deep intuitions people have that complex, functioning structures do not arise from natural, non-intelligent causes. Many are already uncomfortable with the naturalism of modern science and see evolution as dehumanizing and implausible. They like the idea that modern science can provide some rational support for theism. My experiences at ID gatherings suggest to me that an awful lot of people are being led just where they want to go. Certainly the public opinion polls show a great deal of sympathy for ID, to the point of wanting it taught next to evolution in science classes.

The ID claim is that certain biological phenomena lie outside the ordinary course of nature. Aside from the fact that such a claim is, in practice, impossible to substantiate, it has the effect of pitting natural theology against science by asserting an incompetence of science. To be sure, there are questions that natural science is not competent to address, and too many scientists have lost all sense of the limitations of their disciplines, not to mention their own limitations. But the ID arguments effectively declare natural science incompetent even in what most would regard as its own proper sphere. Nothing could be better calculated to provoke the antagonism of the scientific community. This throwing down of the gauntlet to science explains not a little of the fervor of the scientific backlash against ID.

ID posits the incompetence of science only if you begin from the premise that everything we find in nature must have a natural cause. As many philosophers and theologians, such as Alvin Plantinga, have asked, why should that be the expectation from a theistic standpoint? Perhaps we should expect that many things, perhaps most things, in nature will yield to scientific explanations, since God needed to create a natural world in which we could live. But certain other things might be found to be best explained by direct action by God.

In that case ID arguments, if they were correct, could be viewed as a great triumph for science. It seems a bit odd to say that conclusive scientific evidence of intelligent design, which is what the ID folks claim to provide, represents a failure of science. Biology is not “incompetent” for having found God’s “signature in the cell.”

The biggest problems with ID lie not in abstract philosophical considerations or in drawing clear lines between science and theology. ID fails so completely because its arguments are simply wrong. They are not even interesting. They are simply retreads of old arguments that are easily refuted by anyone with basic scientific education.

“Throwing down the gauntlet to science” explains nothing of the scientific backlash against ID. If the ID folks were just throwing down gauntlets, scientists would be happy to ignore them. The backlash is the result of the obvious political dimension of the ID movement, coupled with the ludicrous caricature of modern science they present in their publications and public talks.

The older (and wiser) form of the design argument for the existence of God–one found implicitly in Scripture and in many early Christian writings–did not point to the naturally inexplicable or to effects outside the course of nature, but to nature itself and its ordinary operations–operations whose “power and working” were seen as reflecting the power and wisdom of God.

There certainly is a long tradition of interpreting the general orderliness of nature as evidence of divine design. But the idea of locating design in the complexity of living organisms also has a long tradition within Christianity. The style of argument used by modern ID folks is not some aberration within the context of Christian theology. Indeed, in the nineteenth century Paley’s version of the design argument was one of the centerpieces of natural theology. This is precisely why the theory of evolution was such a blow to the enterprise.

Furthermore, it is not much of an argument to say that the orderliness of nature is evidence for God. Unbroken natural law is too easily and plausibly interpreted as evidence for an impersonal universe. The power of Paley’s argument was to find something that seemed to nearly everyone at the time that was explicable only by the assumption of some intelligence far greater than man’s. Certainly you could level abstract, philosophical arguments at Paley, such as those made by David Hume. To which Paley could reply, “All fine points. But you still have not explained how adaptive complexity can arise from purely natural causes.”

I do not believe that Paley was guilty of bad theology. I see nothing inherently wrong in the sort of argument he was making. He just did not have all the relevant facts.

Skipping ahead:

The emphasis in early Christian writings was not on complexity, irreducible or otherwise, but on the beauty, order, lawfulness, and harmony found in the world that God had made. As science advances, it brings this beautiful order ever more clearly into view.

So much the worse for the early Christians. They made the best arguments they could given what was known at the time. It does not reflect badly on the ID folks that, in addition to basing their beliefs on the beautiful order of nature, they also make use of what is now known about biochemistry. Their arguments are not offered as an alternative to the more general sort of design argument Barr is endorsing. As they see it they are enriching this older body of thought with the most recent insights of modern science.

Note that “atoms of the world” are not irreducibly complex, nor is “every part of the world.” Irreducible complexity has never been the central principle of traditional natural theology.

How is that an argument against irreducible complexity? As Michael Behe first introduced it, irreducible complexity was applied specifically to the fine structure of biochemical systems like flagellae and blood-clotting cascades. Previous generations of Christians would not have been able to make such arguments since the relevant science was not yet known. Why should natural theology not expand to encompass the latest scientific developments? Is the whole enterprise nothing more than expressions of awe at the beauty of nature?

Once again Barr completely misses the point. The problem with Behe’s argument about irreducible complexity is that it is wrong. Simple as that. The problem does not lie in some perceived change in focus relative to early Christian writers.

Science must fail for ID to succeed. In the famous “explanatory filter” of William A. Dembski, one finds “design” by eliminating “law” and “chance” as explanations. This, in effect, makes it a zero-sum game between God and nature. What nature does and science can explain is crossed off the list, and what remains is the evidence for God. This conception of design plays right into the hands of atheists, whose caricature of religion has always been that it is a substitute for the scientific understanding of nature.

That religion in its most common forms has frequently served as a substitute for a scientific understanding of nature is hardly a caricature created by atheists. It is the obvious conclusion of how so many religious people and religious institutions have behaved over the centuries. Barr may be unhappy about the fact, but the creationists and ID folks do represent a huge segment of American religious thought. I hardly think atheists can be faulted for pointing it out and objecting.

Far be it from me to defend William Dembski, but this paragraph is not a correct presentation of his argument. He is very clear in his writing that he sees evidence for God in all aspects of nature, and he certainly would not object to using the general orderliness of nature as evidence for God. His argument about the explanatory filter, as he presents it, is not about finding evidence for God at all (though in his view when his methods are applied to certain phenomena in nature they point very strongly in that direction). It is about locating phenomena that can only be explained by recourse to an intelligent agent. He is not handing those things science can explain to the atheists. He sees God in them just as surely as in everything else. Instead he would say simply that such things do not compel you to infer design.

There is almost no end to the number of things that are wrong with Dembski’s argument, starting with the fact that he has never managed to formulate it in a consistent, coherent way. The fact remains, though, that Barr has been unfair to him in this paragraph.

So, when the ID movement came along and suggested that its ideas be taught in science classrooms, it touched a nerve. This is one reason that the New Atheists attracted such a huge audience.

It’s nice that in this paragraph Barr finally gets around to noting both the scientific vacuity and the political ambitions of both creationism and ID. But where is his evidence that hostility to teaching ID in science classrooms was one reason for the huge audience for the New Atheist books? (On the other hand, if Barr is right about this then I would say that we finally found something good that came out of ID.)

There is a bit more to Barr’s essay. It is disappointing that such a promising beginning should give way to such a poorly-argued mess. Still, it is certainly very helpful to have a high-profile religious publication like First Things publish such an essay.

Comments

  1. #1 Lee Harrison
    February 9, 2010

    Jason, I’ve only been reading your blog for a few months but everything I’ve seen so far has been of excellent quality. This post is fantastic, well reasoned and well stated, and this seems like an excellent opportunity to just say ‘thank you’. Keep writing, and reasoning, this well and I’ll keep reading.

  2. #2 Mr. Hopey Changey
    February 9, 2010

    I somewhat agree. I am not into the ID thing. I am a young earth creationists at heart. I disagree with most of the ID movement becuase the ID people use the words “intelligent designer” instead of God or Jesus and they never discuss the 10,000 – year old earth. I think they believer it, but are afre to go that route in the classroom for fear of ridicule from those who have been indoctrinated by our wonderful anti-Christian, anti-conservative, anti-capitalist education system. Who cares, we win in the end anyway.

  3. #3 Jason Rosenhouse
    February 9, 2010

    Lee -

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog.

  4. #4 dean
    February 9, 2010

    “anti-Christian, anti-conservative, anti-capitalist education system”

    That is as off course as many of the things Jason points out above. Mr Hopey Changey needs to spend time in education instead of listening to others who believe as he does talk about it.

  5. #5 Hopey Changey
    February 9, 2010

    dean,

    ever heard of the NEA? A very socialist propaganda machine indeed. One organization that needs to be defunded and the quicker the better.

    Socialism is creeping into our schools and we have to sniff it out and kill it before it takes root.

    Ever heard the the kid who bought this nice lead pencil and took it to school only to have the teacher take it away. She had a bucket in the classroom that the student would get pencils, erasers, etc. out of as they needed them. They were denied private ownership of these things. This is a prime example of a teacher in need ot a good butt kicking by the parents and maybe even a good scolding by the board if not banned from teaching for life entirely. That is socialism and it is wrong. That little boy worked for his allowance and bought the pencil with his money that he earned. It was his and he had the right to fight tooth and nail to keep what was rightfully his. Socialist tendencies should be banned in the education system. There should be a zero tolerance policy for this type stuff.

    Don’t even get me started on those soviet style school uniforms either. Individualism and freedom is failing to be taught by anyone these days. Epic fail.

  6. #6 Jonathan
    February 9, 2010

    I have to say, #2, it seems a bit of a stretch to call the US education system “anti-Christian, anti-conservative, anti-capitalist”, when to those of us from the rest of the western world it produces the most christian, conservative, capitalist adults in the world. The reason creationism is not in the schools is not because of prejudice. It is because, like the flat – earth theory, it is either wrong or the entire method of science is invalid.
    There are dozens of evidentiary routes that indicate that the earth is older than 10,000 years. Here are two:
    Chalk. Chalk is formed in the deep ocean by coccoliths, the skeletons of microorganisms. As they are so small, they sink very slowly. To form the vast chalk beds of the Chilterns and the Downs – a tiny slice of the rock record – would take millions of years.
    Radioisotope decay. It is often said that the decay rates of radioisotopes could have changed over time, but this (physically improbable) solution poses its’ own problem: at present, the decay of radioisotopes provides approx. 40% of the energy budget that keeps the interior of the Earth warm. It maintains a temperature of 6,400 C over the course of millions of years. Now, if all that energy was released in thousands of years instead of billions? About 6 orders of magnitude faster? The Earth would be vapour.
    For more info (and so that you don’t make an already defeated argument), look here:
    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=AC3481305829426D

    Lot of videos, but only about 10 mins each.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdEZTdOlGss&feature=PlayList&p=AC3481305829426D&index=2 is frankly hilarious.
    Feel free to try to provide evidence against the videos, though. If you can find any.

  7. #8 NewEnglandBob
    February 9, 2010

    Hopey Changey must be a Poe or a joker. No one could write such stupid nonsense and actually mean it. It is hilariously funny though. Some comedian should work it up into a routine for the next atheist convention.

  8. #9 Hopey Changey
    February 9, 2010

    The reason creationism is not in the schools is not because of prejudice. It is because, like the flat – earth theory, it is either wrong or the entire method of science is invalid.
    There are dozens of evidentiary routes that indicate that the earth is older than 10,000 years.”

    ———-

    Not true. Accoring to actual Biblical geneologies, the earth is less than 10,000 years old. Remember that at one time it had never rained on earth before the great flood. The flood itself has caused much debate over the age of the earth simply becuase if rapidly buried all life on earth except for what was on the ark. What flat earth theory? Most people never belived that. Some did, but even the Prophet Isaiah described a round earth 800 years BC. Imagine that, 800 years BEFORE CHRIST Isaiah knew the earth was round. Now, how did he know that?

    Here’s soem for you:

    You have failed to provide billions upon billions of so called transitional fossils that should be found everywhere. You have found some strange fossils indeedd, but they were fossils of a different species or a gentic mutation unique to perhaps that one individual animal.

    Then trilobite – a marine animal that was supposedly wiped out 450,000,000 years ago. On June 1, 1968 evolutionist William J. Meister opened a slab of rock in Antelope Springs, Utah. he discovered a fossilized trilobite – IN A HUMAN SANDAL FOOTPRINT.

    Coal was supposedly laid down 250,000,000 years ago, yet coal veins in Kentucky have provided human footprints embedd in them.

    Each year 300,000,000 cubic yards of sediment are dumped into the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. Do thte math. If the this has been happeening as long as this stretch of land has supposedly existed the Gulf of Mexico would have been filled up long ago.

    All fossil evidence points to a single catastrophic event involving water. The flood?

  9. #10 R Hampton
    February 9, 2010

    Aquinas vs. Intelligent Design, Michael W. Tkacz

    …What about the apparent conflict between notion of creation from nothing and the scientific principle that for every natural motion or state there is an antecedent motion or state? Seeing a conflict here, Thomas Aquinas says, is a result of a confusion regarding the nature of creation and natural change. It is an error that might be called the Cosmogonical Fallacy.

    …In light of this sketch of the Thomistic account of creation and natural cause, one can perhaps understand the reluctance of contemporary Thomists to rush to the defense of ID theorists. It would seem that ID theory is grounded on the Cosmogonical Fallacy. Many who oppose the standard Darwinian account of biological evolution identify creation with divine intervention into nature. This is why many are so concerned with discontinuities in nature, such as discontinuities in the fossil record. They see in them evidence of divine action in the world, on the grounds that such discontinuities could only be explained by direct divine action. This insistence that creation must mean that God has periodically produced new and distinct forms of life is to confuse the fact of creation with the manner or mode of the development of natural beings in the universe. This is the Cosmogonical Fallacy.

  10. #11 Uncle Bob
    February 9, 2010

    I have to ask, Hopey Changey,

    Did you go to public school?

  11. #12 Damian
    February 9, 2010

    While “order, lawfulness, and harmony” is consistent with God as the author of all things, it is also consistent with naturalism. After all, God could surely have arranged things in such a way that the universe was fundamentally chaotic and lawless and unexplainable, yet still able to support life and everything else that we see. If that were the case, and we simply couldn’t explain anything about the universe because there was no order to it at all, I would be far more convinced by design arguments. Naturalism couldn’t explain that, in my opinion.

    And the problem, as usual, is that God explains everything, and thus, nothing, because even if you point to the relative level of chaos and randomness and how order can arise from disorder that has superseded the previous notion of a “clockwork universe” on which Paley’s design argument and natural theology was largely built, those who see “order, lawfulness, and harmony” as evidence for God are not moved by it at all.

    In fact, the modern understanding of nature, where at different levels there is order and disorder, and where one can be derived from, and is perhaps fundamental to, the other, is partly the basis for the modern ID movement. They go further than Paley, and are essentially asking how so much order can arise from disorder.

    But I can name several things that would be suggestive of a designed universe, including a fundamentally unexplainable and random and chaotic universe at all levels, but as is so often the case, whatever state of affairs we find ourselves in, it will used as evidence for God and design.

  12. #13 Hopey Changey
    February 9, 2010

    Yes I went to government school. That’s why I have trouble spelling. They were more focused on putting saran wrap on our pecker and making sure we were safe from bullies (like we couldn’t kick their ass ourselves)than actual education. Thanks for funding my education though.

  13. #14 Tyler DiPietro
    February 9, 2010

    There’s a solution to bad spelling, bud. It’s called reading.

    Whatever happened to the conservative love for individual initiative and responsibility?

    (This is the last serious business post I’ll be making for a while, it’s just not me.)

  14. #15 Hansen
    February 9, 2010

    Hopey, this may be news for you: Socialism is not the same as atheism.

  15. #16 Ken
    February 9, 2010

    Wow hopey changey.

    So much stupid in so few words.

    But thats what happens when you get all your science from a book written by nomadic dessert goat herders.

    Ignorance is just another way to lie for jesus.

    And as a liar, He will punish you for eternity after you die for making such a mockery of his creation, by ignoring all the fine details scientists have found in his work.

  16. #17 Hopey Changey
    February 9, 2010

    The initiative is still there for me. For modern education individualism is discouraged and losers are rewarded alongside winners. I think these kids will be very disappointed when they enter the real world.

    Besides I told you my situation. I went to government school. Reading was optional. The main requirements for learning including wrapping our pecker so that Jill don;t get pregnant and if she does, hoe to kill the baby through Planned Parenthood and hide the procedure from the parents.

    Now kids are being taught homopathic people are normal and the personal lifestyle choice is okay. nevermind, math, science, history, reading, etc. You know the important stuff. What matters is that Johnny grows up to be a good little tolerant marxist who loves hompaths and hates anything good. That’s education reform for you. Only in a government school. A one wonders why so many people are pulling their kids out and homeschooling. At least at home, they get taught to be normal people.

  17. #18 Hopey Changey
    February 9, 2010

    Wow evilution.

    But thats what happens when you get all your science from a book written by a long bearded slave owner who though he looked like a monkey so he decided to teach civilization to act like one. Only about half the population took his advice though.

  18. #19 NJ
    February 9, 2010

    On June 1, 1968 evolutionist William J. Meister opened a slab of rock in Antelope Springs, Utah. he discovered a fossilized trilobite – IN A HUMAN SANDAL FOOTPRINT.

    Did. Not. Happen. See:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC102.html

    In fact, instead of posting here, go and read every single item at that location. Follow up with the references provided. What you will find will demonstrate the utter mendacity of the people who have been telling you what to think.

  19. #20 Hopey Changey
    February 9, 2010

    NJ,

    Your site is not a very good reference. I have been there before. It sucks. They always try to discredit everything creationists say. But they fail every time. Did happen.

    Furthermore, did happen. Just becuase some people with a bias and politcal motive wish to censor an event, doesn’t mean the event never took place. Talk Origins are good censors of information – even more so than the far left hate site Media Matters. It’s run by the most dangerous man in the world, yet leftists eat their every word like candy.

    Talk Origins is not a legitimate source of information and neither is the far left hate site Media Matters for that matter.

  20. #21 Hopey Changey
    February 9, 2010

    You provided Talk origins, I provided one of numeorus sites I could have provided:

    http://www.creationevidence.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=29

  21. #22 Paul Murray
    February 9, 2010

    “Ever heard the the kid who bought this nice lead pencil and took it to school only to have the teacher take it away. She had a bucket in the classroom that the student would get pencils, erasers, etc. out of as they needed them. They were denied private ownership of these things.”

    I grew up christian, and used to take those stories seriously – the Harold Hill books and so on. It’s only much later in life that I realised that christians – *particularly* preachers and evangelists – simply *make stuff up*. All those “just so” glurge stories: most of ‘em simply never happened.

  22. #23 Hopey Changey
    February 9, 2010

    Also see http://www.godsaidmansaid.com

    ————

    Paul,

    This story happened about a month ago. The mother was furious. It is a real story. Most preacher stories I heard were true. I knew some of the people in the story most of the time.

  23. #24 Damian
    February 9, 2010

    Hopey Changey:

    Why are you here? If nothing could ever convince you, and if you aren’t even open to rational discourse, what’s the point?

    You’re happy to use all of the fruits of scientific and rational discovery, but you simply ignore or misrepresent anything that doesn’t quite fit with your interpretation of the bible. That is, in my opinion, unbelievably hypocritical of you, because you can offer no real basis for doing so.

    I honestly don’t care whether you believe in God, but it saddens me that the kind of religion that you believe in forces to make such a choice between science and religion. Thankfully, that isn’t the case for all, or even most, religious believers in the world. While I may not understand how they do it, millions of Christians accept every single scientific finding as evidence for God’s creation.

    But I have to ask, what if you are rejecting God’s method of creation? Given that evolution is accepted by all scientific academies around the world, do you honestly believe that you have special knowledge that some of the brightest minds don’t have? It’s unlikely, wouldn’t you say?

    Wouldn’t it be sensible to at least attempt to find out if you are in fact rejecting God’s method of creation by seriously and dispassionately looking at the evidence? After all, no other scientific theory is mentioned in the bible (and there are hundreds), so unless you reject them all, what makes you think that God’s actual method of creation, with all of its infinite complexities, can fit on a few pages and be stated in such a lack of detail as it is in Genesis? And why do you think that all serious biblical scholars accept that Genesis is allegorical and not a literal account of creation?

  24. #25 Hopey Changey
    February 9, 2010

    I am not rejecting God’s method of creation. He spoke everything into existence in six days just as He and His son Jesus said.

  25. #26 Damian
    February 9, 2010

    I am not rejecting God’s method of creation. He spoke everything into existence in six days just as He and His son Jesus said.

    And how do you know this? I’m not interested in what you think that you know, but how I can verify it without having to go to the bible, as doing so would make your argument circular (i.e. it says so in the bible, so therefore it must be true).

    Think about it. There are lots of things in the bible that are not meant to be taken literally, and which I can be certain that you don’t in fact take literally, so why is this different?

    In other words, how many passages do I need to show you that I know that you don’t take literally (because you’d be in jail if you did), before you will accept that some parts weren’t meant in that way?

    Look, it doesn’t affect my life if you spend the rest of yours denying God’s real method of creation. I just think that it is a sad to miss out on the wonder of science when it won’t make a difference to your belief in God, as evidenced by the fact that millions of people enrich their faith by learning about how God created all things.

  26. #27 Jason Rosenhouse
    February 9, 2010

    Okay guys, enough. Hopey Changey, I think we all understand your point of view now. You have left an awful lot of comments in this thread, so I’d appreciate it if you took a break from commenting for 24 hours. Please respect my wishes in this. Everyone else, stop replying to Hopey Changey. I will be deleting any comments that are not directly relevant to the opening post.

  27. #28 Richard Eis
    February 10, 2010

    He can come play in the Cincinatti thread if he wants. He and Jon can tag team. I’m sure they will get on like a house on fire (lots of people screaming, lives in tatters)

  28. #29 SLC
    February 10, 2010

    Re Jason Rosenhouse

    I can understand Prof. Rosenhouses’ desire that Mr. Hopey Changey and his critics cease and desist. However, I really must respond to one comment that Mr. Changy made in reference to Charles Darwin as it is a god damn lie.

    But thats what happens when you get all your science from a book written by a long bearded slave owner who though he looked like a monkey so he decided to teach civilization to act like one. Only about half the population took his advice though

    Mr. Changy is a lying piece of filth. In the first place, slavery had been outlawed in Great Britain long before Mr. Darwin was born. In the second place, Darwin was a dedicated opponent of slavery and was part of a movement that publicly supported the Union side in the US Civil War. This movement was greatly responsible for preventing intervention by the British Government on the side of the Confederacy. Mr. Changy is not only ignorant of science, he is also ignorant of history. To paraphrase Richard Dawkins, anyone who claims that Charles Darwin was a slaveholder or a supporter of slavery is either ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked and I suspect that Mr. Changey is all of the above.

  29. #30 dean
    February 10, 2010

    HC: this
    “ever heard of the NEA? A very socialist propaganda machine indeed. One organization that needs to be defunded and the quicker the better.

    Socialism is creeping into our schools and we have to sniff it out and kill it before it takes root.

    Ever heard the the kid who bought this nice lead pencil and took it to school only to have the teacher take it away. She had a bucket in the classroom that the student would get pencils, erasers, etc. out of as they needed them. They were denied private ownership of these things. This is a prime example of a teacher in need ot a good butt kicking by the parents and maybe even a good scolding by the board if not banned from teaching for life entirely. That is socialism and it is wrong. That little boy worked for his allowance and bought the pencil with his money that he earned. It was his and he had the right to fight tooth and nail to keep what was rightfully his. Socialist tendencies should be banned in the education system. There should be a zero tolerance policy for this type stuff.

    Don’t even get me started on those soviet style school uniforms either. Individualism and freedom is failing to be taught by anyone these days.”

    is amazing. So many assertions that any basis in reality in such a short time – you were busy. After I read it I didn’t think it could be surpassed.
    But then I read this:

    “Now kids are being taught homopathic people are normal and the personal lifestyle choice is okay. nevermind, math, science, history, reading, etc. You know the important stuff. What matters is that Johnny grows up to be a good little tolerant marxist who loves hompaths and hates anything good.”

    Amazing. I’ve never encountered a homopath, or a hompath (is the shorter name what the offspring of a homopath is known as?) so I can’t say anything about them. I reasonably sure I wouldn’t hate them – hate is a terrible thing. Why do you hate them?

    Seriously, it is difficult to tell whether really are the uninformed, unintelligent, ignorant person your posts make you out to be, or whether you’re just trying to stir people up. Your denials of science of suggested references don’t seem to have the real fire of a true believer, but they do have the stupid in all the right spots.

    So which is it: are you the fountain of ignorance you seem to be, or are you a moderately clever poe?

  30. #31 John Farrell
    February 10, 2010

    Good points, Jason. I applaud Barr and imagine there is going to be a shitstorm behind the scenes as the usual suspects from the DI complain to editors at both FT and National Review and the other conservative mags.

    My hope is that this will encourage some of the hitherto quieter voices among conservative journalists to join ranks.

    (Okay, I can dream, can’t I?)
    :)

  31. #32 Tim Tesar
    February 10, 2010

    William Dembski responds to Barr’s First Things piece here.

  32. #33 John Kwok
    February 10, 2010

    @ John Farrell -

    Well, NR’s John Derbyshire had a “field day” with Ben Stein when he soundly condemned “Expelled” – and Stein’s participation in it – while also noting that biological evolution is a sound, well-established, fact of science.

    @ Jason -

    An especially well-reasoned, quite thoughtful bit of commentary here, and one that is definitely among your best at this very blog. While I commend Barr’s sincerity, I have to concur with virtually all of your assessment of his muddle-headed thought.

  33. #34 John Kwok
    February 10, 2010

    @ Tim Tesar -

    Not surprisingly, it’s the usual narcissistic bulls**t that one can count on from my “pal” Bill Dembski. I especially love how he quote-mined eminent invertebrate paleobiologist Dave Raup (though I should note that Raup, of all people, did attend Philip Johnson’s first ID “big tent” conference back in the early 1990s).

  34. #35 jswise
    February 10, 2010

    Sure enough, Antony Flew is mentioned in the comments on Barr’s essay. Good call!

  35. #36 Allen MacNeill
    February 10, 2010

    Hopey Changey is an obvious Poe/troll, and not a very good one at that. Why are so many commentators spending so much time responding to its trollbait?
    DFTT!

  36. #37 ohioobserver
    February 10, 2010

    There’s much to comment on in your post, but I was struck by this one bit:

    “Many are already uncomfortable with the naturalism of modern science and see evolution as dehumanizing…”

    I hope that those who understand science, and particularly evolution, can make the case that evolution, and science in general, are actually the most humanizing ideas every undertaken by our species. Science proudly declares that we all share a universe, that that universe operates according to universal rules, and that we, humble humans that we are, can FIGURE OUT THE RULES, and apply them to our and our fellow creatures’ benefit. This is an exhilarating, gloriously exciting idea — that we are not at the mercy of mysteries beyond our control, but that we can understand what the mysteries are and how they work. The science community needs to communicate this exhilaration, which far exceeds any numinous feeling of religion, to the general public. Carl Sagan did a wonderful job of this, and we need more like him.

    Evolution itself takes out of the category of shamefaced sinner in the eyes of a problematical god and puts us in the world in which we actually live, linked to all the other wonderful and complex beings on the planet. It says our guilt, whatever guilt there may be, is the result of our own life history and not laid upon us before we were born. Evolution empowers the human spirit. Evolution gives us a place in the universe. “There is grandeur in this view of life…”

    Give me 10,000 teachers with this sense of the wonder of the world, and creationism would be dead in a generation.

  37. #38 John Farrell
    February 10, 2010

    @John Kwok. Yes, Derb does a great job. But for every pro science piece he writes, unfortunately, NR will offer two or three pieces of swill from the DI “fellows”. That’s what irritates me. Remember George Gilder’s ludicrous cover article “Darwin and Me”. It should have been called “Schizophrenia and Me.”
    :)

  38. #39 qbsmd
    February 10, 2010

    “The goal of science is to increase our understanding of the natural world, and there is not a single phenomenon that we understand better today or are likely to understand better in the future through the efforts of ID theorists. If we are to look for ID achievements, then, it must be in the realm of natural theology. And there, I think, the movement must be judged not only a failure, but a debacle.”

    I don’t think he intended to address any of the scientific points mentioned; he seems to consider the scientific argument to have been settled, and intends to discuss ID purely on theological grounds. The problems are that he never explained why natural theology is worth discussing and he frequently gets side-tracked with taking pot-shots at scientists.

  39. #40 Rokkaku
    February 11, 2010

    Dembski’s article is hilarious. You can practically hear the teardrops bouncing off it. It’s all there: the ‘dogmatic slumber’ of the evolutionist; the Damascene conversion of Anthony Flew; the great accomplishments of ID (namely…?)

  40. #41 Rolf Aalberg
    February 11, 2010

    What’s your problem, Hopey? I taught myself to read and write Norwegian at four, two years before going to school where I spent a total of seven years. This English is something I have picked up later, hope it is good enough. But then I live in a country you better beware of; the secular, social-democratic but oh so wonderful in which to live: Norway, Europe. Been here 79 years by now.

    We live like good Christians but don’t go to chuck too often, evolution is accepted without any raised eyebrows and our fundies are no bother, just something to laugh at.

  41. #42 KeithB
    February 11, 2010

    I know I should not Feed the Troll, but here in the Socialist State of California the pencils come out of a vending machine. Capitalism at work!

  42. #43 James Sweet
    February 11, 2010

    Ever hear of the kid who came to comment on a blog and brought his own troll food, only to have the blogger take it away. He had a bucket that the commenters would get troll food out of as they needed it. They were denied private ownership of things. This is a prime example of a blogger in need ot a good butt kicking by the commenters and maybe even a good scolding by Seed if not banned from blogging for life entirely. That is socialism and it is wrong. That little boy worked for his allowance and bought the troll food with his money that he earned. It was his and he had the right to fight tooth and nail to keep what was rightfully his. Socialist tendencies should be banned in the blogosphere. There should be a zero tolerance policy for this type stuff.

  43. #44 raven
    February 11, 2010

    So, when the ID movement came along and suggested that its ideas be taught in science classrooms, it touched a nerve. This is one reason that the New Atheists attracted such a huge audience.

    Worked for me. I first got seriously alarmed when a friend was killed in Iraq and I met a wild eyed old guy who was babbling on about creationism.

    I discovered the xian fundie Dominionists had taken over the USA and were heading on back to the Dark Ages.

    I’m now an exXian.

    It isn’t just the creationists and IDists who have created the New (or Militant) atheists. It is the whole fundie xian death cult moron-ignorant complex. Robertson, Dobson, Hagee, Parsley, Falwell, Palin, Kennedy etc. have create more atheists in a day than Myers or Dawkins have in a year.

    The fundies have nothing to offer but a new Dark Age. People are fleeing US xianity at the rate of millions/year. According to ARIS 2008, the No Religions make up 24% of the population. This is 72 million people, one of the 3 largest sects if they were a sect. In a few decades, xianity will be below 50% of the population.

    The New Dark Age program isn’t selling well.

  44. #45 heddle
    February 11, 2010

    Nice post Jason, but I have to agree with Barr that ID has not persuaded skeptics into the theist camp. (It’s a big world, you can always find the occasional exception.) Several comments.

    Once again we have to remind ourselves that we exist in a niche. I know from talking to many, many Christians that some may have heard of Dawkins, and something about ID–but that’s about it. A doubt one in a hundred Christians know who Dembski is, or what the DI is. Or who PZ Myers is.

    I have heard no testimony (well, maybe one) of someone who told how something ID-like helped them turn to God. (And that one isolated case several years ago was in regards to cosmological fine-tuning, not biological ID.)

    In the same time I have spoken to literally hundreds of other new converts to Christianity–all of whom had testimonies that credited their conversion to something other than ID.

    As an evangelical tool, ID sucks. The best evangelical tool, not surprising to my fellow Christians, is the gospel. People who convert to Christianity do so because they feel, acutely, the need for a savior–not because they have become convinced that science and religion have been reconciled via ID.

    Of course that was before Dembski’s theodicy, which has been validated by the theory of the Higgs boson going back in time and sabotaging the LHC. We’re in a new age now.

    I discovered the xian fundie Dominionists had taken over the USA and were heading on back to the Dark Ages.

    Earth to raven, earth to raven…

  45. #46 John Kwok
    February 11, 2010

    @ John Farrell -

    I usually don’t read NR as much as I once did, and apparently missed George Gilder’s abysmal screed (though not surprising since he founded the DI). At least John Derbyshire is one notable voice of reason amongst my fellow conservatives, along with of course P. J. O’Rourke, Charles Krauthammer and George Will (Both Krauthammer and Will were among the first to praise John Jones’s decision in the 2005 Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial; however, as someone who recognizes – based on my academic training – that AGW is real, I don’t agree at all with their ongoing foolishness with regards to that…. and of course must commend both Carl Zimmer and Chris Mooney for taking Will to task.).

    @ heddle -

    Glad you stopped by here. Won’t comment on raven’s comment, except to acknowledge that he is an important contributor over at PT.

  46. #47 eric
    February 11, 2010

    FYI there is a new thread up on UD where they comment on Jason’s piece. I briefly scanned it, the arguments appear to be a lot of the same ‘ol same ‘ol, but thought I’d mention it.

  47. #48 John Kwok
    February 11, 2010

    eric -

    If they didn’t comment on Jason’s commentary here, then I’d really be surprised. But regrettably, what more can you expect from the folks who are Uncommonly Dense at Uncommon Dissent?

  48. #49 SLC
    February 11, 2010

    Re John Kwok @ #46

    In fairness to Dr. Krauthammer, it is my impression that his position on AGW is that he doesn’t have a position. I recall that he wrote a column some time ago in which he admitted that he lacked an understanding of the scientific issues involved and therefore was not going to comment on it. This is much the same tack taken by Ed Brayton over at the dispatches blog.

  49. #50 SLC
    February 11, 2010

    Re John Kwok @ #46

    I notice that Mr. Mooney is taking some pretty heavy flack in comments on his blog because of his apparent inconsistency in advocating accommodation of anti-vaxers and anti-evolutionists but taking a much harder line against AGW deniers.

  50. #51 Jason Rosenhouse
    February 11, 2010

    eric -

    Thanks for pointing out the UD piece. Now having read it, I feel no need to reply beyond this brief comment. Their main criticism of me seems to be that I did not bother to rehash the extensive scientific case against ID in my blog post. Of course, that case has been presented at book length on numerous occasions.

    Frankly, I think I could have written a better refutation of my own opening post, but if anyone else wants to have a look here is the link.

  51. #52 Gerry
    February 11, 2010

    The best evangelical tool, not surprising to my fellow Christians, is the gospel. People who convert to Christianity do so because they feel, acutely, the need for a savior

    Not really, it appears by poll to be a sense of belonging to a group. It is this missing sense – emotinal at the core- which makes people convert. It’s not the gospel per se as people in Muslim and other religious traditions also report the same idea. The idea of whatever the religion is presenting is secondary to the very human need to belong. Being saved from being alone.

  52. #53 Knockgoats
    February 11, 2010

    People who convert to Christianity do so because they feel, acutely, the need for a savior – heddle

    Exactly: Christianity preys on the insecure, the despairing, those who hate themselves in order to reproduce itself; it’s the guinea-worm of the mind.

  53. #54 Modusoperandi
    February 12, 2010

    Hopey Changey “Socialism is creeping into our schools and we have to sniff it out and kill it before it takes root.”
    If we don’t STOP it now, we will end up just like FRANCE! We’ll be eating cressent shaped buns, surrendering and being rude to tourists!

    “Don’t even get me started on those soviet style school uniforms either.”
    I’m also AGAINST stnadarizing students. First the schools force the males to all wear “GANGSTER” hoodies and baggy pants and the girls TO dress like WHORES, then soon we’ll be waiting in line for bread and blue jeans!

    “The flood itself has caused much debate over the age of the earth simply becuase if rapidly buried all life on earth except for what was on the ark.”
    AND radioactive decay, thermal dynamics and hydrodynamic sorting ALL worked completely DIFFERENT back then! Take that, science!

    “They were more focused on putting saran wrap on our pecker…”
    Hey! Watch the potty mouth!

    “I think these kids will be very disappointed when they enter the real world.”
    It’s worse than that. They’ll find out that THE democrats sent all their jobs to CHINA!

    “Now kids are being taught homopathic people are normal and the personal lifestyle choice is okay.”
    I thought that homopathy was the so-called “science” of mixing things with water, SHAKING, then drinking?

    “But thats what happens when you get all your science from a book written by a long bearded slave owner who though he looked like a monkey so he decided to teach civilization to act like one.”
    Exactly! Leftists don’t like to talk about all the SLAVES that Darwin OWNED! Plus his grandson turned out to be hitler! And Stalin!

    “Talk Origins is not a legitimate source of information..”
    I agree. If tlakorigins was so great, they’d have a Statement of Faith. If it ain’t inerrant, it ain’t nuthin’.

    “…and neither is the far left hate site Media Matters for that matter.”
    Because research, so-called “facts” and criticism are EXACTLY the same as HATE!

    NewEnglandBob “Some comedian should work it up into a routine for the next atheist convention.”
    I went to one once. Acidentally. I thought it was an anti-Atheist convention. The comedians there SUCK! It was all about how, since they don’t believe in God they don’t believe in ANYTHING! And even tho it was called a “convention”, nobody rode around in tiny cars. Just like FRANCE!

    Damian “While ‘order, lawfulness, and harmony is consistent with God as the author of all things, it is also consistent with naturalism.”
    NO! An Atheist universe would be completely random, like the so-called “natural selection”. I know this is TRUE because someone in my in-group said it, and declaration is FACT!

    Hansen “Hopey, this may be news for you: Socialism is not the same as atheism.”
    NO! Thay are the same thing! Socialsim came from Groucho Marx and he was an Atheist. Think about it!

    NJ “Did. Not. Happen. See:…”
    Oh, sure. “talkingorigins”. Talk biased, more like!

    Jason Rosenhouse “I will be deleting any comments that are not directly relevant to the opening post.”
    It sounds to ME like your FAITH in Atheism has been shaken by Hopy Changey’s fine and SOLID foundation of crass biblical literalism!

    SLC “In the first place, slavery had been outlawed in Great Britain long before Mr. Darwin was born. In the second place, Darwin was a dedicated opponent of slavery and was part of a movement that publicly supported the Union side in the US Civil War.”
    Oh, sure. I’m gessing you got that so-called “fact” from a so-called “history” “book”! Everybody knows that TRUE history validates your pre-drawn conclusions!

  54. #55 DuckPhup
    February 12, 2010

    Damian @24 wrote: “And why do you think that all serious biblical scholars accept that Genesis is allegorical and not a literal account of creation?”

    If ‘all serious biblical scholars accept that Genesis is allegorical’, then all serious biblical scholars are incompetents.

    The way the Christians tell it, anybody who thinks that the bible means exactly what it says is obviously misinterpreting it, because they are not possessed of the ‘Secret Magic Decoder Ring’… er… oops… scratch that… ahhhh… I mean they are not possessed of ‘Holy Spirit’.

    Right.

    An intellectually-honest look backwards… with the benefit of reason and 20/20 hindsight… reveals that ‘God’ is a HUMAN creation… essentially, a place-holder for ‘knowledge’.

    As humans evolved to the point of being able to communicate abstract ideas, they inevitably reached the point of being able to ask questions about their environment and their existence… profound questions, such as…

    “What holds the sky up?”

    “Why are we here?”

    Of course, there were no extant answers. The sky, as an example, gave every appearance of being a solid physical structure, with big lights and little lights upon it, that moved… and they did NOT have the technical means or the knowledge-base what would enable to extract the answers… KNOWLEDGE… from nature. But they had to deal with ‘cognitive dissonance’. They KNEW that if you hold something up and let it go, it falls to earth… yet they SAW all these objects ON the sky which did NOT fall to earth (except occasionally). There had to be a REASON that these big lights and little lights didn’t fall down.

    God.

    Where something demanded an answer, but there was no way to extract an answer from nature, they would MAKE UP an answer… based upon the supernatural… and simply accept it as a matter of ‘faith’.

    The operative human impulse here is the imperative to SUPPRESS ‘cognitive dissonance’. Ideally, the cure for cognitive dissonance is KNOWLEDGE. But what do you do when knowledge is unavailable or inaccessible? Simple… you substitute the ILLUSION of knowledge, which is JUST as effective a cure for cognitive dissonance as ACTUAL knowledge is, and is MUCH easier to come by, and to disseminate. You don’t have to DISCOVER it… you just have to MAKE IT UP.

    God did it.

    Oh… by the way… there is a WORD for ‘the ILLUSION of knowledge’. That word if ‘BELIEF’.

    It takes no more that an attentive (and rational) reading of the first few verses of Genesis to realize that it… and all that depends from it… is myth. In a rational reading of Genesis, a LITERAL interpretation is required in order to make sense of it… no metaphors… no allegory… no hidden meanings. It means EXACTLY what it says… otherwise, it makes no sense at all.

    The story of Genesis is comprised of the myths, fairy tales and fantastical delusions of a superstitious and ignorant (lacking in knowledge) gaggle of Bronze Age fishermen and peripatetic, militant, marauding, murdering, genocidal goat herders, sprinkled with folk-tales lifted from the oral traditions of their own and other cultures, and crafted into a pseudo-history. This the foundation and basis for the Abrahamic death cults of desert monotheism… Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

    The cosmological aspects of Genesis are perfectly understandable, if you contemplate them in the proper context… that context being profound ignorance (lack of knowledge) and superstition… and take ‘zeitgeist’ (the spirit of the times) into account.

    At the time the bible stories were concocted, the perception was that the earth and the sky (which included an imagined heaven) were all that there was. Why? Because they had no basis upon which to think otherwise. Today, as we advance science, we stand upon the shoulders of all the scientists that came before. Back then there were no shoulders to stand upon… so they did the best they could with what they had… their senses (which LIE), their imaginations and their appreciation of a good story. They were desperately trying to answer profound questions relating to their world and their existence… and there was NO CHOICE beyond ‘making up’ answers to quell their cognitive dissonance and anxiety about the unknown.

    They had no concept of ‘outer space’, and so they conceived that in the beginning all that existed were dark waters.

    They had no concept of ‘nothingness’. The concept of ‘zero’ wasn’t invented (discovered?) until thousands of years later, and they had no experience with ‘nothingness’. With that in mind, the term ‘void’, as it is employed in Genesis, can not refer to ‘nothingness’… it can only be applied in its alternative definition, which is ‘empty’. So, the PRE-EXISTING water… the raw material that god had to work with in his ‘creating’… was dark, formless and void (empty – devoid of content).

    They thought that all of creation consisted of the earth and an unseen ‘heaven’, and they thought that the sky was a ‘thing’… a substantive ‘firmament’ that was created by god to separate the waters and differentiate earth from heaven, when both were created. (By the way… this ‘dividing the waters’ bit neatly gave them a credible way to explain why the sky is blue.)

    They had no idea that Earth was a planet, orbiting a star.

    They had no idea that there is no firmament… that the sky is not a ‘thing’.

    If you don’t believe that they thought the sky was an object… a solid barrier… consider the Tower of Babel, which they were (supposedly) building to reach heaven. Apparently, God ALSO thought that the sky was an object, since the tower vexed him so much that he confounded their speech, in order to disrupt their project and keep them from reaching his domain. Also… where do you think Jesus went, when he ‘ascended into heaven’… floated up into the sky… supposedly in front of witnesses? What does that tell us? Well… knowing that the people who wrote that nonsense believed that the sky was a solid crystalline structure, and that ‘heaven’ was on the ‘other side of the sky’… that informs us that those people were LYING… and our present-day KNOWLEDGE with respect to the universe REVEALS their lies. They thought that their fiction was consistent with ‘physical reality’… but it WASN’T.

    GOD apparently DID NOT KNOW the actual configuration of the universe that HE had created. Ain’t that sumpthin’? So… what does that tell you about GOD?

    God ‘created’ light BEFORE he created the sun. Apologists spin all kinds of tales about what THAT means… but what it REALLY means that the primitive people who concocted the fable DID NOT KNOW that the sun was the SOURCE of the light of day… they thought it was a big light that ONLY CAME OUT in the light of day… and that it was only a few miles above their heads… operated by angels. (See ‘The Book of Enoch’.)

    They had no idea that the sun is a star… the center of our solar system.

    They had no idea that night and day were a consequence of the earth’s rotation.

    They thought that the moon was a ‘lesser’ light that god had caused to travel across the firmament to enable man to differentiate the seasons, and provide illumination at night… and that it was a source… a PRODUCER… of light… like the sun, only not as bright.

    They had no concept of the moon as a satellite orbiting the earth.

    They thought that the stars were tiny lights that god had placed upon the firmament to provide for omens and portents. (Some people of that time thought that the stars were ‘holes’ in the fabric of the firmament, which allowed the ‘light of heaven’ to shine through.)

    They had no concept of ‘stars’ in the same sense that we understand them today… and certainly did not know that there are other stars like our sun. In fact in 1600, Giordano Bruno had his tongue nailed to the roof of his mouth and got burned at the stake for heresy… his crimes included promoting the idea that the stars WEREN’T REALLY little lights up there above our heads… they were ACTUALLY suns like our own, only VERY far away… and maybe even having planets of their own.

    They thought the eyeball-visible planets (Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn) were ‘wandering stars’.

    They had no idea that the planets were actually sun-orbiting bodies, just like earth.

    They had no idea that the earth, itself, is a planet.

    They had no clue as to the actual nature of our solar system, the place of our solar system in the galaxy… or even of the existence of our galaxy. (Less than 100 years ago, we didn’t even know that there even WERE other galaxies. Our galaxy, when it was first known that there actually WAS a galaxy, was thought to comprise the whole universe.) From their perspective of the bible folks, the ‘earth’ (covered by the ‘firmament’) and ‘heaven’ (i.e., whatever existed on the other side of the sky) represented ALL THAT THERE WAS. Essentially… the Genesis ‘universe’ is a terrarium.

    They simply DID NOT KNOW… and so they MADE UP things that they could ‘believe’ as a matter of ‘faith’… because those explanations sounded REASONABLE to primitive, ignorant people. Today, we have technology and disciplined meta-procedures (scientific method) to help us extract answers from nature… but back then, they did not. Instead of curing their fear… their ‘cognitive dissonance’… with KNOWLEDGE, they cured it with the ILLUSION of knowledge… i.e., self-deception… self delusion… BELIEF. But they had not REALLY cured their ignorance… they only THOUGHT they had cured their ignorance.

    Today, we have ‘theories’ to provide a consistent explanatory framework for what we are able to observe in nature, supplemented and validated by the additional information that we are able to extract from nature by means of our technology, our disciplined methods and our intellectual tools (mathematics, logic). Most of our theories are incomplete, so we continue to work on them… because we KNOW that they are incomplete.

    Back then, they did not have disciplined methods, and they did not have the technology to extract answers from nature. The only information they had access to was what they could see with their own eyeballs. There was no technological knowledge base or scientific context in which to interpret their observations, so they had to appeal to their imaginations… and the ‘supernatural’… in order to make sense out of what they saw. Actually, what they really achieved was deluding themselves into thinking that they knew the truth.

    Amazingly… over time… their delusions and ignorance have become codified, institutionalized, and incorporated… complete with franchises.

    Basically, the ‘creation’ account of Genesis… and the very concept of god(s)… can be thought of as a crudely plausible explanation, concocted by people who were trying to explain the (then) unexplainable… fathom the (then) unfathomable. They were constrained by lack of knowledge-base, technology, methodology and intellectual tools… although they don’t seem to have been constrained by lack of imagination. Over time, though, even the FOUNDATIONS of their ‘explanations’ have been proven to be WRONG. The sky is NOT a solid object with a supernatural realm and a whole bunch of water on the other side of it. The lights in the sky are NOT there for signs, portents, omens, dividing day from night and differentiating the seasons. And all the while god was creating this terrarium, and fashioning Adam from a dust-bunny… right outside the ‘gates’ of the Garden of Eden… back here in the REAL universe… the Mesopotamians were making beer.

    Today, we try to interpret Genesis in the context of what we KNOW about the universe… galaxies, stars, planets, moons, gravity, orbits, inclination of the earth’s axis, planetary rotation, accretion disks, supernovae, solar nebulae, etc. They problem is that Genesis CAN’T be interpreted in terms of those things, because Genesis was written by ignorant men, based on oral traditions and their own imaginings, and those men DID NOT KNOW about ANY of those things. They could only write about what they could see and what they could imagine about the reasons that lay behind what they saw. In any event, it provided them with a mechanism to quell the innate anxiety that comes with fretting about how and why they came to be here… cognitive dissonance… and achieve cognitive harmony. Key point here… ‘self-delusion’ cures cognitive dissonance just as well as ‘knowledge’ does.

    They imagined wrong.

    So… the cosmological aspects of Genesis require a literal interpretation… no metaphors… no allegory… no hidden meaning. We don’t need to be possessed of the ‘Secret Magic Decoder Ring’ ‘Holy Spirit’. The key, though, is in understanding that the literal interpretation DOES NOT LEAD to a description of the way things ARE… it leads to a description of the way they THOUGHT things are, and how they got to be that way. It leads to a naive description of reality, concocted by people who were doing the best they could with what they had… and that INCLUDES the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah’s flood, the Tower of Babel, and all the rest. Understanding that, it is easy to appreciate Genesis (and the bible in general) for what it actually is… a piece of primitive myth-based literature.

    Let’s recap: There is an all-powerful magical sky-fairy who got bored and divided a previously-existing (‘though empty) big glob of water… one side of his divider (the firmament… i.e., the sky), with half of the water, becomes heaven, where he sets-up shop. From the water on the other side of the solid divider, he brings forth dirt. Then he abracadabras living things into existence, populating this clump of dirt and water. Then he speckles his divider with a few thousand little lights (like sprinkles on a Christmas cookie), to interpret for signs of things-to-come, a really big light so they could tell if it was day or night, and a smaller, dimmer light so they could see a little bit at night (sometimes), and tell what season it was. While all of this was going on… right outside the gates of the Garden of Eden… here in the REAL universe… the Mesopotamians were making beer. Other stuff ensues, causing this magical dude to get honked off, so he releases all the water on HIS side of the sky, completely douching his sandbox world… except for a few creatures for whom he has a lingering fondness. (Let that be a lesson to them.) There’s lots more… but it is comprised of nothing more than equally silly details. The whole thing reminds me of a malevolent 8-year old kid, at noon, hunched over an ant-hill with a magnifying glass… roasting ants.

    Apologists have had a lot of fun with this, trying to explain how ‘revealed knowledge’, which was once the cosmic, holy, divine, God-given TRUTH, has magically transformed into allegory and metaphors, as these ‘truths’ have been bumped aside by REAL knowledge. This is how the ‘God of the Gaps’ was born.

    ‘God’ is nothing more than a man-made (imagined) PLACE-HOLDER for ‘knowledge’.

    As these myths and misconceptions have been dispelled, over the course of centuries, god has been reduced from an all-powerful being who could create a whole universe at a whim… i.e., brought forth some dirt from some water, and put a dome over it… to a ‘God of the Gaps’, who lurks in an ever-decreasing network of cracks and crevices that are still waiting to be filled in by knowledge. These cracks and crevices are defended by a stalwart army of ‘believers’, fighting a rear-guard action against knowledge and reason. Their tactics mainly consist of throwing up roadblocks on the path to knowledge, which they stand behind, waving their arms, and loudly proclaiming: “No… no… that ain’t so… god did it.” And every time a new piece of knowledge emerges, the God of the Gaps scurries away like a cockroach when the kitchen light gets turned on, searching for a new crevice to cower again… until the next time…

    Today, morons continue to ‘believe’ that a cosmic Jewish zombie, who is his own father, can make you live forever if you submit to a magical soul-douching ceremony (complete with magical water, incantations and waving of hands), symbolically eat his flesh (in the form of a cracker) and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was tricked by a malevolent entity (disguised a talking snake… with legs) into eating a piece of magical fruit from an enchanted tree… (etc.)… and that there is something horribly wrong with people who ARE NOT so stupid and gullible that they can be made to believe such outrageously ridiculous codswallop.

    OK… SANE people do not BELIEVE such absurd nonsense. It is REALLY really stupid.

  55. #56 SLC
    February 12, 2010

    Re DuckPhup @ #55

    We have a perfect example of such a nutcase who posts the most idiotic comments on various threads of this blog. He calls himself Mr. JonS and I would consider him a perfect example of brainwashing except that I doubt that there is anything there to be washed. One has to read his comments with disbelief that anyone could believe such unadulterated horse manure and still retain the ability to put his shoes and socks on in the morning.

  56. #57 Robert O'Brien
    February 12, 2010

    But thats[sic] what happens when you get all your science from a book written by nomadic dessert[sic] goat herders.

    What book is that dumb ass? It’s certainly not the Bible. And where are goats served as dessert?

    Exactly: Christianity preys on the insecure, the despairing, those who hate themselves in order to reproduce itself; it’s the guinea-worm of the mind.

    Any parasite that tried to sustain itself on your mind would quickly perish.

    Worked for me. I first got seriously alarmed when a friend was killed in Iraq and I met a wild eyed old guy who was babbling on about creationism.

    I discovered the xian fundie Dominionists had taken over the USA and were heading on back to the Dark Ages.

    I’m now an exXian.

    It isn’t just the creationists and IDists who have created the New (or Militant) atheists. It is the whole fundie xian death cult moron-ignorant complex. Robertson, Dobson, Hagee, Parsley, Falwell, Palin, Kennedy etc. have create more atheists in a day than Myers or Dawkins have in a year.

    The fundies have nothing to offer but a new Dark Age. People are fleeing US xianity at the rate of millions/year. According to ARIS 2008, the No Religions make up 24% of the population. This is 72 million people, one of the 3 largest sects if they were a sect. In a few decades, xianity will be below 50% of the population.

    The New Dark Age program isn’t selling well.

    You can add those delusions to your stockpile, raven.

  57. #58 Modusoperandi
    February 13, 2010

    SLC “…and still retain the ability to put his shoes and socks on in the morning.”
    To be fair, I too find the morning riddle of shoes/socks to be, with some measure of regularity, quite vexing.

    Robert O’Brien “And where are goats served as dessert?”
    Goat banana split. Mmmmm…

    “Any parasite that tried to sustain itself on your mind would quickly perish.”
    1. Not one that both makes you think you’re sick and also purports to be the treatment, ne cure.
    2. (in a way) Parasite Rex. (After I read it, I broke out in a rash which didn’t stop itching for a week. I shit you not)

    “You can add those delusions to your stockpile, raven.”
    How come Raven gets a stockpile? I want one too! I does!
    Note that I haven’t actually read what Raven wrote, as I never learned how to read (thanks to Sesame Street though, I vaguely understand a smattering of Spanish, which will come in handy if I ever move to Spani), but if you look up to the “fundie xian death cult moron-ignorant complex” of “Robertson, Dobson, Hagee, Parsley, Falwell, Palin, Kennedy etc” as paragons of anything other than fear mongering, willful ignorance and malevolently power-mad paranoia, you’re an tool. And not a good tool, like a hammer or Phillips head screwdriver. Instead, you’re that flathead screwdriver that’s both too thin and too narrow for the screw that needs to be tightened. You know, the screwdriver that takes a chunk out of your thumb.
    Yes, you’re the screwdriver that damages its own thumb. Don’t question The Metaphor. The Metaphor knows all.

  58. #59 yum install Jesus
    February 14, 2010

    INTELLIGENT DESIGN THEORY MERELY STATES THAT THINGS AREN’T CREATED IN RANDOM EXPLOSIONS. IF DARWINISM WAS TRUE THE EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI WOULD HAVE BUILT BETTER BUILDINGS IN PORT AU PRINCE AND HEALED THE INJURIES OF THE ALREADY HURT BUT THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN. IT IS TAKING INTELLIGENT DESIGN TO REBUILD THE BUILDINGS AND PROVIDE HEALTH CARE FOR THE INJURED. STUFF LIKE THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN IN RANDOM EXPLOSIONS EVER. THAT IS INTELLIGENT DESIGN’S POINT!

    IF YOU EVOLANDERS CAN PROVIDE ANY EXAMPLE OF CREATION OCCURRING IN A RANDOM EXPLOSION I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR IT!

  59. #60 SLC
    February 14, 2010

    Re yum install Jesus

    I strongly suspect that Mr. yum is a Poe but I wuld suggest that he release the caps lock on his keyboard which appears to be stuck.

  60. #61 Neal
    February 16, 2010

    Perhaps you should do a blog on the “concensus” and “settled science” about GLOBAL WARMING. It is amazing how so many scientists like sheep followed the data of so few scientists in what is becoming the biggest scientific scam of at least a generation.

    DARWINISM is the scientific scam of the millenium!

  61. #62 Neal
    February 16, 2010

    Jason, the foundation of Darwinism is basically negative theology, “God would not have done it this way”. I’ve found that after so called evidence for evolution is pealed away by looking into the DETAILS of its so called evidence, that a little naked man is left barking with anger about why God wouldn’t have created things the way they are! Evolution is very much about religion and all data is filtered through its prejudiced viewpoint. They are boxed in by their viewpoint because they feel they are the self appointed guardians of science, when they are in fact blinded by their philosophy to see the evidence in any other light. It makes so much sense to them that they can not step back and asked the most basic and hard questions of what they actually know for sure about their theory. The storm is coming.

  62. #63 SLC
    February 16, 2010

    Re Neal

    Well, not at all surprising that Mr. Neal is not only an evolution denier but also an AGW denier. It would be interesting to know what else Mr. Neal denies. HIV/AIDS, CFCs/ozone depletion, cigarette smoking/lung cancer anyone?

  63. #64 Modusoperandi
    February 16, 2010

    And Neal’s screed would work better with minor edits, like swapping “Darwinism/evolution” for “Creationism/YEC”.
    Ironic, really.

  64. #65 raven
    February 16, 2010

    Well, not at all surprising that Mr. Neal is not only an evolution denier but also an AGW denier. It would be interesting to know what else Mr. Neal denies. HIV/AIDS, CFCs/ozone depletion, cigarette smoking/lung cancer anyone?

    Neal is a poly-reality denier. His biggest delusions are assuming that he isn’t ignorant and crazy and that anyone takes him seriously.

  65. #66 Neal
    February 17, 2010

    I see you guys are following the old playbook with typical ad hominem arguments. You also wrongly assume I’m YEC. Let’s get to the point and see if you have anything underneath the hood to support evolution.

    So called evidence for evolution is equally or better explained by creation.

  66. #67 Modusoperandi
    February 17, 2010

    Neal, go read a book. Start with Your Inner Fish.

  67. #68 eric
    February 17, 2010

    So called evidence for evolution is equally or better explained by creation.

    The only “evidence for creation” you’ve given on this thread would require earth’s gravity in the past to be a billion times higher than it is.

    Forget equal or better; how about not laughable? How is an explanation that hypothesizes people running around on a planet with a billion times the current gravity of the earth not laughable?

  68. #69 Jason Rosenhouse
    February 17, 2010

    DuckPhup -

    I have been on the road lately, and therefore have fallen behind in my comment reading. But I have to say that your comment is really excellent. I might have to steal some of your material for future posts!

  69. #70 DogLog
    February 18, 2010

    Just found this blog….

    I appreciate Dr. Rosenhouse’s thoughtfulness in analysing Barr’s essay. The above comments seem to deviate far from topic – so much so that by the time I finished reading them all, I completely forgot what I was thinking to add.

    I find it interesting that non-theology-based creation believers/supporters/theorists are the “skeptics.” It seems to me that the young Earth believers and scriptural literalists are the true skeptics: people who believe and follow the laws and theories of science until the point at which it conflicts with their faith. As such, they are the ones showing skepticism. In science, theology is irrelevant. It is not science’s duty to disprove religious beliefs or texts. The goal of science is pure and simple: to accurately explain the natural world.

    Where ID fails is in its goal: to find a way to fit science into a pre-existing faith-based model, namely Genesis. Because of this, I really don’t see the need for debate. ID isn’t science, and at best it’s theological philosophy that cites cherry-picked scientific evidence or lack thereof. A scientific theory isn’t a theory if the conclusion is drawn before the evidence is examined.

    From young Earth believers, I would like to see a scientific answer to the following question… If the universe is ~10,000 years old, then how do you explain our ability to peer through telescopes and witness cosmological bodies and events that are millions of light-years away? Again, a scientific answer – not “the universe is 10,000 yrs old because the bible says so.” I already know the bible says so.

  70. #71 Neal
    February 18, 2010

    Eric, your comment on “gravity” is totally off the wall. What are you talking about?

    Duckphup, your exegesis of Genesis 1 is a joke. Just like clockwork, evolutionists always go back to their negative theology… but in the name of science.

    I would make the opposite case about “new evidence”. I say bring it on, because the more we know about the fossil record and the complexity of the living cell and DNA the more evolutionists are required to recant their earlier predictions. Evolution has failed to make accurate predictions time and time again. The Tiktalik fossil is just one of the more recent ones. Certainly a theory that can’t make accurate predictions is not a good theory.

  71. #72 tomh
    February 18, 2010

    DogLog wrote:
    … I really don’t see the need for debate. ID isn’t science,…

    Unfortunately, the debate is needed because of creationists’ persistence in attempting to force ID into the public education system. If it were not for this, most people would be content to ignore or merely chuckle at their delusions.

  72. #73 eric
    February 18, 2010

    Eric, your comment on “gravity” is totally off the wall.

    You’re right, it was! For some reason I got you confused with John S. of the “Cinncinati Magazine on the Creationist Museum” thread and his ridiculous claim that GR helps explain why the universe looks billions of years old when it was actually created in 6 days less than 10k years ago.

    I apologize for misattributing such an idiotic position to you.

  73. #74 eric
    February 18, 2010

    Neal: Certainly a theory that can’t make accurate predictions is not a good theory.

    Certainly no theory is going to be accurate all the time. But a theory that makes accurate predictions a lot of the time is infinitely better than a vague idea that says nothing of scientific value.

    For instance, a theory that tells you that a fossil like Tiktaalik exists and can be found in a specific strata and is right about that is infinitely better than some special creation idea that tells you nothing about whether such a species exists, and gives you no clue where to find it if it does.

  74. #75 DogLog
    February 18, 2010

    Neal, I find it interesting that you write off Duckphup’s exegesis of Genesis as “a joke” (though it was quite humorous) and mere “negative theology” rather than refuting it point-by-point or offering evidence to the contrary.

    As to the Tiktaalik fossil and it’s findings, I would urge you to understand that Darwinism provides a useful basis for evolutional theories moving forward, much in the same way early cardiology, astronomy, (enter field of science here) were imperfect, but we’re learning more and more about all of these disciplines, ruling out disproven theories and methods and focusing on new ones. In reality and practice, there is no such thing as “strict Darwinism.” Scientific theory can and MUST change as predictions are both proven and disproven.

    It’s understandable that Creationists and IDers try to paint Natural Evolutionists/Darwinists as having a rigid theory in place – a theory that can be disregarded and disproven by failed predictions, but in reality and by definition, scientific theories of evolution are fluid and the greater theory changes as evidence is gathered and examined.

    Can you imagine what science would look like today if societies had abandoned each and every discipline of science in their early stages because of failed experiments and inaccurate predictions? Where would cardiology be today if doctors had given up on heart surgery after the first failed attempt? Where would our understanding of our galaxy be if we had given up on astronomy because predictions about Venus being a star were proven untrue? We would not even be using this internet to communicate had computer programmers given up every time their predictions failed.

    I would contend that inaccurate predictions serve to FURTHER scientific disciplines rather than to disprove them. Time and time again, science proves predictions to be both accurate and inaccurate, and scientists learn a great deal in the process setting us on a more accurate course to achive a better understanding of the natural world.

    What these inaccurate predictions do not and cannot do is prove mythical and unscientific biases to be correct. You may acquire some sense of relief when Darwinist predictions fail, but those failures do not support any one theological creation myth over another, and they certainly do not rule out the greater aim of evolution theories. Accurate predictions, however, call into question the legitimacy of claims made in Genesis and other theological creation myths. The formula for the speed of light, for example, disproves young Earth theory which essentially rules out Genesis all-together from a literalist standpoint.

    I also find it interesting that Genesis creationists like Neal throw the concept of “negative theology” around like some kind of magic Johnny Cochran glove-doesn’t-fit defense mechanism, yet how do they explain their disbelief in the countless other theological and cultural creation myths? Is it not “negative theology” to dismiss the Bantu tribe’s notion that Bumba vomitted the sun, moon and stars in their creation myth. And what of the many unknown and culturally extinct creation myths? Is it negative theology to not believe something you’ve never encountered because you believe in something else? Aren’t you, by definition, guilty of the same charge of which you accuse Duckphup?

    A few years after studying religion in college, I lived in Japan where my wife taught English. My Japanese was never very good, but many of our Japanese friends spoke English well enough to answer some of my questions about their view of Western religion. When asked about Adam and Eve, our friend Kazu had a puzzled look on his face, as if we had just asked him about Jack and the Beanstalk. Then he proceeded to chuckle and explain to me that he does not believe in fairy tales, dragons or ghosts.

    A simple answer, and on this computer screen in your living room or cubicle this anecdote might not mean very much. But to me at the time, living in a culture unfamiliar to me and watching the people of Japan function in a polite and orderly manner with little to no regard for Western religion, I felt a sense of freedom and understanding that for many years had been repressed growing up in the largely unenlightened and intellectually disinterested bible belt.

    As Duckphup explained, it’s easy to see how an uneducated, unenlightened, technology-free bronze age society could create and accept the Genesis creation myth. And having grown up in the American South, it’s easy for me to see how generations of Westerners, educated or otherwise, could hold onto these ancient and outdated beliefs as a cultural security blanket. But to introduce or reference this mythology to a individuals living in a modern, technologically-advanced and well-educated culture largely unaffected by Judeo-Christian belief systems was truly an eye-opening experience. As such, it would be hard for me to dismiss Kazu’s view of Genesis as mere “negative theology.” I don’t believe in Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Kazu doesn’t believe in the Genesis myth. You can accuse us in these cases of negative theology, but as such everyone is guilty of this, even Neal.

    Point being … if you limit yourself to a theological worldview in which evidence and advances in science must conform to said worldview, you have no hope of truly understanding the natural world. ID is merely a pseudoscience that prevents the believer from achieving a true sense of understanding nature and shackles him to ancient and outdated explanations of existence, absorbing theologically acceptable scientific evidence to support a creation myth.

  75. #76 Sholom
    February 18, 2010

    I don’t get it. Can someone explain to me how its possible to hold that both the entire universe and specific objects within it are intelligently designed? It seems to me that these two positions are mutually exclusive.
    The argument that some specific things are evidence of intelligent design rests entirely on their dissimilarity to objects that are easily explainable via ‘undirected’ natural causes. Behe’s irreducible complexity, and Demski’s explanatory filter both aim to identify things that aren’t explainable by ‘undirected’ natural law, and hence design should be inferred. But if everything is the result of design, then that entire argument falls apart.

    I’m confused. Can someone please explain this?

  76. #77 Modusoperandi
    February 18, 2010

    Well, Sholom, there’s design and then there’s *design*. The wonderful atom is mere design, but the flagellum is *design*. One’s workmanlike and doesn’t raise a stink and the other’s got pizazz and moxie!

  77. #78 SLC
    February 18, 2010

    Re Neal

    1. Attached is a link to a Youtube video featuring Brown Un. professor of biology Ken Miller, no atheist he, which describes a specific prediction that the theory of evolution makes relative to the relationship between chimpanzees and humans. I’m not going to discuss it further because Prof. Miller does a far better job then I, a non-biologist, could possibly do.

    2. Just as a matter of fact, observations and experiments that raise questions about a theory are just as valuable as experiments that verify a theory. Case in point, the Michaelson-Morley experiments which attempted to measure the absolute speed that the solar system was moving in the cosmos. This was arguably the most important experiment in the history of science, despite the fact that the result was negative, i.e. a null result was found. The eventual result of this experiment was Einsteins’ Theory of Relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics.

  78. #79 Neal
    February 18, 2010

    Back in 2006 Tiktaalik was heralded as the transition between fish and land animals… just as the evolutionists predicted where they would find it! Oops, now in Jan 2010 new fossils points to land animals nearly 20 million years before Tiktaalik.

    A good theory should make good predictions. It can only be “fluid” up to a point when it has to be totally replaced. Take for example the great lengths that were taken to support the dwindling case for Ptolemy’s view of the solar system back in the middle ages. The theory became so complex and full of flexibility that a better theory greatly simplified things and replaced it. Evolution has failed many times to make accurate predictions. It is a theory that is sooo fluid that it can accomodate nearly anything, but successfully predicts very little accurately.

    If physicists were as stuck on Newtonian physics as biologists are on Darwinism, Einstein would have been booted out of academia and forced to sell shoes or teach elementary school in Kurdistan.

  79. #80 Modusoperandi
    February 19, 2010

    So, Neal, you’re saying that:
    *…approximately 375,000,000 years ago is okay, but approximately 400,000,000 is too much?
    *…Tiktaalik wasn’t a transitional between sea and land?
    *…that life can only do something once in history? That a population here can be “naturally select” via environmental pressures and mutations, but that a population over there can’t?…that, in effect, emus exist but ostriches don’t?

  80. #81 SLC
    February 19, 2010

    Re Neal

    Excuse me Mr. Neal. At comment #78 I posted a link to a portion of a presentation by Prof. Ken Miller which specifically points to a successful prediction of the theory of evolution. As Prof. Miller states in the presentation, when he testified in the Dover trial about this finding, the opposing counsel didn’t even attempt to cross examine him on the subject and the defendants “expert witnesses” ignored it when they testified. Apparently, Mr. Neal, like Prof. Michael Behe, chooses to ignore it.

  81. #82 Neal
    February 19, 2010

    Regarding the Ken Miller chromosone fusion, again it is offered as proof of evolution because they want it too. It is really neutral evidence, since fusion could just as well be the result of DESIGN. Fusion is something that happens in design often, so Design in this case is an equally good answer to the human chromosone. Saying that a creator wouldn’t have fused a chromosone is not a scientific argument but a religious one by evolutionists. Again, it is only prejudice that says evolution must have been the way it happened.

    Regarding the Tiktaalik, it was heralded as a huge proof of the transition between fish and land animals… “right where it should have been found” they said. My response is, “really”? The new fossil find shows evidence of land animals walking around millions of years before the transition. Again, evolutionists saw it as a transition because they wanted to see it as a transition. To continue to believe that means that the child is older than the great granddaddy. If you assume evolution is true to begin with then any reasonable story that explains away the earlier prediction is feasible.

  82. #83 Neal
    February 19, 2010

    Also, the “life can only do something once?” comment is certainly not a strong point for evolutionists. Again, Convergence is more of a nightmare to evolutionists if they were really honest and allowed themselves to see the depth and extent of convergence in nature.

  83. #84 SLC
    February 19, 2010

    Re Neal

    Regarding the Ken Miller chromosone fusion, again it is offered as proof of evolution because they want it too

    1. Just for the information of Mr. Neal, the chromosome fusion is not ‘proof” of the theory of evolution. In science, there is no such thing as “proof”. There is only evidence that confirms a given hypothesis or evidence that falsifies a given hypothesis. No scientific theory has ever been proved in the history of science. In this case, the chromosome fusion observation confirms a prediction of evolution.

    2. Mr. Neal argues that an intelligent designer or god could have designed the human genome with the apparent fusion. As usual with creationists, Mr. Neal misses the point. The theory of evolution predicts that, if chimpanzees and humans have a common ancestor, the fusion must occur. Creation notions don’t predict anything. That’s why they aren’t science.

    A scientific theory must satisfy three criteria to qualify as science. It must be explanatory, it must be predictive, and it must be falsifiable. Creation notions satisfy none of these criteria. Creationism explains everything as “god did it”. That’s a science stopper. Creation notions predict nothing, as no creationist tract predicted the observed fusion, nor could it. Creation notions are not falsifiable as “god did it” can’t be falsified as god is all powerful and can do anything.

  84. #85 DogLog
    February 19, 2010

    Neal: “To continue to believe that means that the child is older than the great granddaddy.”

    That’s a very simplistic argument. If you’re willing to stand behind that comment, then why bother referencing the Tiktaalik? By the same logic you could have more easily said that because bacteria exist today, other lifeforms could not have evolved from single-cellular organisms. Likewise, I do not see how you could honestly suggest that convergence is any kind of obstacle or “nightmare” for evolutionists.

    Just because scientists predicted that the Tiktaalik was a transitional fossil doesn’t mean they were under the assumption that it was the first land/sea transitional creature. To rule out the tiktaalik fossil as an example of a transitional fossil would be to suggest that there could not have been other transitional creatures long before the tiktaalik that evolved into the land animals whose fossils predate the tiktaalik, or that the titaalik evolved into another form of land animal after other transitional creatures had long since run their course. You seem to be assuming that evolutionists predicted that ALL land animals evolved from the tiktaalik and that evolutional transitions are black and white with no room for shades of grey.

  85. #86 SLC
    February 19, 2010

    Re Neal

    Let’s examine the implications of intelligent design as a science stopper in physics, rather then in evolutionary biology.

    1. Earlier on, I mentioned the Michaelson/Morley experiment. An explanation based on intelligent design would posit that they got the results they did because god diddled with the experimental apparatus (an interferometer) in order to prevent them from observing the absolute motion of the solar system. Who needs relativity?

    2. An intelligent design explanation for why electrons don’t radiate energy when orbiting the atomic nucleus, as predicted by Maxwell’s Equations, would say that god prevents the electrons from radiating so as to preserve atomic and molecular stability. Who needs quantum mechanics?

  86. #87 Neal
    February 19, 2010

    Okay on your definition of “proof”. We’ll save that for Math, and not the slippery world of evolutionary definitions. It’s funny how chromosone fusion was predicted by evolutionists. My response is that a clock is right twice a day too. I mean for every prediction that is made by evolution, a box of failed perdictions is tossed out. Someone does not have to be very accurate to hit the center of a target with a shotgun. Through enough junk out and something is bound to stick every now and then. Ptolemy’s theory on the solar system made some accurate predictions too, but the bigger question is what to make of the failed predictions. And what to make of the growing monstrosity of additions to a theory in order to plug all the holes.

    Dr Miller also wrote a book on “Junk DNA”. Unfortunately research is finding more and more uses for the so called Junk.

  87. #88 DogLog
    February 19, 2010

    We can agree that failed predictions are part of science and research. It’s interesting that you mention Ptolemy’s theory on the solar system. Ptolemy did not have the technology we have today and like you said, his failed predictions outnumbered his accurate ones. Darwinism could very well be analogous to Ptolemy’s astronomy, but Ptolemy’s inability to accurately understand atronomy did not make the field of astronomy itself a deadend. On the contrary, centuries later modern scientists furthered the study of astronomy and continue to do so, not by succumbing to theological mythology and its biases, but via techonology and the scientific method. Observing failed predictions and learning from them is simply part of the process. Evolutionary theory moving forward will no doubt be assisted by advances in technology and academia (as well as failed predictions), not by searching for evidence that supports ancient mythology and rejecting evidence that does not.

  88. #89 eric
    February 19, 2010

    Neal: My response is that a clock is right twice a day too. I mean for every prediction that is made by evolution, a box of failed perdictions is tossed out. Someone does not have to be very accurate to hit the center of a target with a shotgun.

    You have no alternative hypothesis. To use your metaphors: you don’t even have a clock. You refuse to even shoot at the target. Therefore, our clock is better and we win the target competition. Our clock and gun will will remain better than yours, until you use your creationist hypothesis to do something, predict something.

    We’re waiting.

  89. #90 SLC
    February 19, 2010

    Re eric

    It would be nice of Mr. neal could cite a creationist publication that predicted the apparent fusion in human chromosome 2 before the human and chimpanzee genomes were decoded. I suspect that the shrimps will learn to whistle before Mr. neal comes up with such a publication.

  90. #91 Kennesaw Williams
    February 20, 2010

    It is time to take stock: What has evolution “science” achieved? As science, nothing. The goal of science is to increase our understanding of the natural world, and there is not a single phenomenon that we understand better today or are likely to understand better in the future through the efforts of wishful thinking evolutionists. If we are to look for evolution science achievements, then, it must be in the realm of scientistic fantasy. And there, I think, the movement must be judged a stupendous success! For what other fantasy genre is taught so jealously in our public schools?

  91. #92 tresmal
    February 20, 2010

    Some things that evolution helps us understand: the history of life on Earth, antibiotic resistance, developmental biology, cancer malignancy and its resistance to chemo, taxonomy, ecology, genetics, cellular and molecular biology, the natural distribution of taxa around the Earth, pesticide resistance etc..

  92. #93 Kennesaw Williams
    February 20, 2010

    Okay. One at a time.
    History of life on Earth: That’s tautological (evolutionary history helps us understand evolutionary history).
    Natural distribution of taxa around the Earth: There’s a procrustean bed if I ever saw one. I cannot (nor can you) imagine any distribution that could not be “explained” by the infinitely accommodating and elastic theory of evolution. (Evolutionists, after all, are very clever blokes.)
    All the rest: Just plain false. Evo has contributed nada of substance to these fields. You just think it has because evolutionary paradigms are almost always trotted out whenever these fields are discussed. What in fact usually happens is that someone makes a discovery and then retroactively gushes over the insights provided by evo when writing up the discovery. It’s done every day. It’s the way science is done. Am I accusing these discoverers/reporters of intellectual dishonesty. You bet your life I am.

  93. #94 tresmal
    February 20, 2010

    Okay. One at a time.

    For 2 anyway.

    History of life on Earth: That’s tautological (evolutionary history helps us understand evolutionary history).

    No. Scientists understood that there was a history of life before Darwin came along. That is, before Darwin there was enough of a fossil record for scientists to know that here had been a succession of whole categories of flora and fauna replacing each other in turn. They knew (thanks to the new science of Geology) that the upper layers of the fossil record were younger than the lower. They knew that the younger fossils were more like contemporary taxa than the older, and that the outlines of a progression could be made out. They knew that the Earth was much older than previously thought, and that life had continually changed during that time. They didn’t know how old the Earth was (that would have to wait for radioactive dating techniques in the 20th century) but by observing geological processes and studying geological features they could constrain that age to a minimum of 10s of millions of years. All this before Darwin. When Darwin put out a version of and well argued case for evolution that finally passed scientific muster (the idea had been floating around for decades) it helped explain the history of life that scientists were already putting together. No tautology.

    Natural distribution of taxa around the Earth: There’s a procrustean bed if I ever saw one. I cannot (nor can you) imagine any distribution that could not be “explained” by the infinitely accommodating and elastic theory of evolution. (Evolutionists, after all, are very clever blokes.)

    Wrong again. Any natural distribution of life has to be compatible the fossil record and the independently worked out geological history of the Earth.

    All the rest:

    Argument by assertion.
    Plus completely unjustified and unsupported claims of massive and widespread dishonesty.

  94. #95 tresmal
    February 20, 2010

    Btw. Amongst “all the rest” were antibiotic and pesticide resistance. Are you saying evolution says nothing about those 2? That’s hard core even for a creationist.

  95. #96 tomh
    February 20, 2010

    Kennesaw Williams @ #91

    There is so much ignorance in this one comment that it’s difficult to absorb with a single reading. I take it the author has never enjoyed any modern fruits or vegetables, virtually all of which have been achieved by evolution through selection. And he has never benefited from modern medicines, most of which are only possible because of evolution. The list goes on and on, but obviously, no amount of evidence can convince a true believer. He will simply wallow in his ignorance as he enjoys all the benefits of modern life that evolutionary theory brings him.

  96. #97 Kennesaw
    February 21, 2010

    I love the way you guys chide me (and any of your detractors) for making “completely unjustified and unsupported claims” when you yourselves do not support anything you say. This is a blog, fellows, not the Smithsonian and not Harvard or Yale. As for “antibiotic and pesticide resistance,” evolutionists may say a lot about it, but evolution itself says nothing. Everybody knows that there is abundant adaptability within species; it did not require an evolutionist to make this observation. But what has that to do anyway with the development of a new species, or of a new organ?
    And, dear me, what in the world is all this from tomh about fruits and vegetables and evolution? Surely he is not referring to the successes of horticulturists, successes which (like those of animal breeders) have absolutely nothing to do with Evolution.
    Oh, and about my tautology argument, by “evolutionary history” it should have been obvious that I refer to “history as imagined by evolutionists” and not the “history OF evolution.” So your rebuttal is just a wee bit wide of its mark.
    And I simply cannot resist replying to tomh’s threadbare remark that “no amount of evidence can convince a true believer.”
    I am a believer. You are a believer. I believe that God created the universe and all things, including life. You believe this all came about by chance. But consider the differences between our believing. I, on the one hand, believe for the same reasons that Christians have always believed. You, on the other, believe for quite different reasons than your fellow believers (Lamark, Darwin, Thomas Huxley, etc.) of yesteryear. For what has evolved, my dear fellows, is not life or man or any other species, but the doctrine of evolution itself. From pre-Darwinian theory we “progressed” to Darwinism, neo-Darwinism, to whatever. So to chide me for being inured to any amount of evidence is interesting insofar as the “evidence” which has buttressed the faith of evolutionists is hardly the same today as it was 40 or 70 or 100 years ago.
    One of my favorite “evidences” for evolution, btw, is the recapitulation nonsense (long since debunked and abandoned by serious scientists, but still taught in some of our schools), you know, that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. This is not science, boys. This is mysticism and sorcery. Philosophically speaking, this “evidence” supports the Tooth Fairy as well as it does evolution.

  97. #98 Modusoperandi
    February 21, 2010

    Kennesaw “You believe this all came about by chance.”
    Incomplete. I believe that if God is and God does then this is how He did it. Occasional dalliances with deism aside, I also doubt that God (or gods) is and, if God (or gods) is doubt very much that it/he/she/them are any of ones posited thus far.

    “For what has evolved, my dear fellows, is not life or man or any other species, but the doctrine of evolution itself.”
    No. What has evolved is both of those. Common descent is true and the Theory of Evolution has changed (adapted, if you will, as data like genetics and comparative genomics, which Darwin didn’t have access to, expands our knowledge on how and when things that are, did).

    “So to chide me for being inured to any amount of evidence is interesting insofar as the “evidence” which has buttressed the faith of evolutionists is hardly the same today as it was 40 or 70 or 100 years ago.”
    Do I detect a hint of “science has been wrong before”? Science is always wrong. “New” theories just happens to be a little bit less wrong than the ones that came before. Newton was wrong, for instance, but his model was close enough at the time (and still close enough that it works pretty well). Darwin, too, got a bunch wrong (some of his writings come across as practically Lamarckian, if memory serves) but he was close enough for the time with the data he had at hand that the larger part of his narrative held (and hold) up. Things like genetics and further discoveries in the fossil record (a bunch, like whale ancestors, many “transitionals” and feathered dinosaurs) back up the things he got right.
    Theories link together an incomplete knowledge of the facts of the real world into incomplete models of reality. As more stuff is discovered, the jigsaw puzzle of the universe is slowly filled in and the models get closer. Good theories, like incompletely filled jigsaw puzzles, point to their own gaps. “If there’s X here and Z over there, then their should be Y there and not F.” (hence Tiktaalik and no pre-Cambrian rabbit)
    That theories change (or abandoned entirely for models that explain both the old data and new discoveries better) with new data isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength.
    Getting closer (becoming less wrong) is far better than being wrong and, come hell or high water, sticking with it.

    “One of my favorite “evidences” for evolution, btw, is the recapitulation nonsense (long since debunked and abandoned by serious scientists, but still taught in some of our schools), you know, that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. This is not science, boys.”
    If they’re teaching Haeckel as anything other than history, then you’re right, they’re doing it wrong.
    Evo-devo, however, is pretty solid.


    It should be noted that I’m not a scientist and have probably mangled everything in to incoherence. I’m just a dork who reads books.

  98. #99 Kennesaw
    February 21, 2010

    P.S. Pardon me for commenting on my own comment, but I know that you will “misunderstand” my intent in writing that “the ‘evidence’ which has buttressed the faith of evolutionists is hardly the same today as it was 40 or 70 or 100 years ago.”
    The point here is qualitative, not quantitative. The point is not that you now have “more evidence,” but that your “evidence” today is quite different than what it used to be. So, you don’t have MORE evidence today, you have quite DIFFERENT evidence.
    Let me illustrate with a parable. Fifty years ago, a man was convicted of killing his wife, and executed, because a witness said he saw it happen. Later it was discovered that the witness was (a) blind, (b) a convicted perjurer, and (c) in a coma at the time of the murder. But justice was said to have been properly served, nevertheless, because of new and completely different evidence which “came to light” after the trial and execution. So, returning to evolution, here we have a philosophical movement that was joined, and believed in, by your forebears (rigorous scientists all) FOR THE WRONG REASONS. This is an embarrassment for evolutionists. Christian believers suffer no such embarrassment.

  99. #100 Modusoperandi
    February 22, 2010

    Not different. More. Darwin had a smidge of the fossil record we have, taxonomy (less genetics), biodiversity, extrapolating short-term artificial selection to long-term natural selection and the like. We have that and more. He, and those of his era, had some of the puzzle. We have more of it.
    The picture is basically the same, but it’s got more detail.
    To borrow your analogy, instead of your twist beginning we had the weapon and a letter from the murderer confessing the crime and instead of your twist ending, handwriting analysis confirmed that it was indeed his note and we found his fingerprints on the knife and a nearby video camera took video footage of him getting all stabby, and…and…and…
    Also note that arguments from analogy suck. Like anecdotes, a good analogy (much like a bad analogy) can prove everything.

    “This is an embarrassment for evolutionists. Christian believers suffer no such embarrassment.”
    What embarrassment do they suffer? The embarrassment that comes from ignoring how God (if He exists, etc) really did it because it conflicts with how God told (but not really) Moses (but not really), who wrote it down (but not really) He did it (but not really)?

  100. #101 Neal
    February 22, 2010

    “Some things that evolution helps us understand: the history of life on Earth, antibiotic resistance, developmental biology, cancer malignancy and its resistance to chemo, taxonomy, ecology, genetics, cellular and molecular biology, the natural distribution of taxa around the Earth, pesticide resistance etc..”

    On the contrary, evolution is inadequate to explain these as accurately as they should be. The design of DNA and its built-in ability to respond efficiently to environmental changes is better understood by DESIGN and not the randomness of evolution. Too much emphasis has been placed on species changing via mutation and natural selection, and not enough on adaption triggered by built-in design capabilities.

  101. #102 eric
    February 22, 2010

    Neal Too much emphasis has been placed on species changing via mutation and natural selection, and not enough on adaption triggered by built-in design capabilities.

    That should be easy enough for you to demonstrate. Do a genetic analysis of flu strains and tell us what built-in design capababilites the flu virus has for dealing specifically with the vaccines we will use in 2020.

    If you’re right about built-in capabilities, and you can show them, you’ll probably win a nobel prize for nothing more difficult than a genetic analysis of a critter that’s already been genetically sequenced.

  102. #103 Kennesaw
    February 23, 2010

    “It should be noted that I’m not a scientist and have probably mangled everything in to incoherence. I’m just a dork who reads books.”
    Posted by: Modusoperandi | February 21, 2010 5:
    Glad to see you got that right anyway. JK JK
    But you really are adept at missing the point. It has to be a learned skill, like an adaptation. The embarrassment that Christians do not suffer is the embarrassment of having the foundations of their core beliefs in a constant state of flux, rather like sand. And you know, of course, what Jesus said about folks who build their [even intellectual] houses on the sand. (Matt 7:24-27)

  103. #104 Modusoperandi
    February 23, 2010

    I’m guessing that’s why slavery is banned. Now.
    I’m guessing that’s why women have the vote. Now.
    I’m guessing that’s why black people have civil rights. Now.
    Etc. Now.
    …because the Christian foundation is that solid.

  104. #105 Neal
    February 23, 2010

    Modusoperandi,you have a twisted view history. The ban on slavery was driven mostly by Christians. Wilberforce, etc. Onesimus was to be treated as a brother. Do you know who Onesimus was? Civil Rights… Rev. ML King was a Christian preacher. The problem with mankind is that they are slow to follow the instructions from God word. So too with the so-called false science of Darwinism. A generation from now Darwinism will be a joke and the joke will be on those that drank the Darwinist Kool-aid.

  105. #106 Modusoperandi
    February 23, 2010

    Neal “Modusoperandi,you have a twisted view history.”
    And having the view that the groups that ended up winning were the True Christians all along is, what, exactly?
    It’s certainly not a helpful metric. 1,800+ years to figure out that God didn’t mean what He said seems a piss-poor path to anything except taking the hard path unnecessarily.

    “The ban on slavery was driven mostly by Christians.”
    Yes, and the push against abolution was also “mostly driven by Christians”.
    The abolutionists (as with the Universal Suffragists and the Civil Rights movement, etc) won, eventually, not because of the Word, but in spite of it.

    “The problem with mankind is that they are slow to follow the instructions from God word.”
    I dunno, 1Pe 2:18 seems pretty clear to me. The pro-slavery arguments saying that God was for it was stronger than the abolutionist’s one that He really meant something else virtually every time the bible mentions the subject.

    “So too with the so-called false science of Darwinism.”
    So, it is a science then? (And, yes, I know what you meant, but I’m well beyond the point of trying to argue in good faith with you. As such, I’m quite willing to play semantics at your expense. It’s not you, it’s me. If I can’t have dialogue, I will have amusement, dagnabit)

    “A generation from now Darwinism will be a joke and the joke will be on those that drank the Darwinist Kool-aid.”
    Uh huh. Good luck with that.

  106. #107 SLC
    February 28, 2010

    Re Anton Mates

    It’s very interesting how clowns like Mr. Alden who are evolution deniers are also global warming deniers. It would be very interesting to know if there exists anywhere in the world an evolution denier who is not also a global warming denier.

  107. #108 SciGuy
    February 28, 2010

    There is an interesting bit about non-science factors influencing science suggesting that the existence of ID and creationism is actually negatively affecting real evolutionary science. The claim is that real scientists feel pressure to act more certain about the mechanisms of evolution than is actually justified by the science in order to counter pseudo-science to the detriment of science generally and medicine in particular. The article distinguishes between the idea that evolution happened (scientifically certain) and theories regarding the exact mechanism of evolution (increasingly uncertain). What is your read on this?

  108. #109 Neal
    March 2, 2010

    Distinguishing between the “fact” of evolution and the increasingly uncertain theories that support it is not a badge of honor nor a strong argument in favor of the so-called “fact”. If the dog doesn’t hunt, don’t call it a hunting dog… cut its hair and put it in a poodle show.

    I’m sure that there is someone who is a evolutionist who is a global warming denier, but I think that there is an interesting connection between those that are so willing to gobble down contrived and falsified data if a peer-reviewed scientists presents it as a “settled” science. Darwinism will be harder to crack than the “global warming” because Darwinism at it core is philosophical and can be made to fit nearly any data that is discovered. About the only thing that Darwinism needs to maintain itself is that the earth is old. It can morph and change to accommodate anything else.

  109. #110 Steven Sullivan
    March 15, 2010

    Neal wrote (emphasis mine(:

    “Distinguishing between the “fact” of evolution and the *increasingly uncertain theories that support it*…”

    And what ‘increasingly uncertain’ “theories” would these be, and who, exactly, is finding them increasingly uncertain?

    “Darwinism at it core is philosophical and can be made to fit nearly any data that is discovered. About the only thing that Darwinism needs to maintain itself is that the earth is old. It can morph and change to accommodate anything else.”

    Liar. If we began repeatedly finding fossils of reptiles, mammals, amphibians, dinosaurs, or flowering plants in Precambrian strata , then both as ‘theory’ and ‘fact’ evolution would collapse utterly. As it happens, we do not.

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