Pharyngula

Uncommon Descent linked to my criticisms of the Biology of the Baroque, Intelligent Design creationism’s latest misconception, that biologists believe every detail of every organism is the product of natural selection…but they didn’t bother to quote any of my criticisms. It’s weird. They could have quoted the gist of my complaint:

So evolution should produce only the biological equivalent of sterile gray Soviet architecture, and if you find something that is the equivalent of a Baroque church, then evolution is refuted. This entire argument is built around what Michael Denton calls the fundamental assumption of Darwinism…that all novelties are adaptive. To which biologists around the world can only say, “Fu…wha?” in total confusion. That is not one of our assumptions at all. Novelties are going to arise as a product of chance mutation; if they are not maladaptive (and sometimes even if they are), they can spread through a population by chance-driven processes like drift. And some elaborate fripperies can acquire a selective advantage, like that example of Soviet architecture, the peacock’s tail, which this video actually uses as an example of non-adaptive order.

But instead they quote my introduction, where I state that the Discovery Institute is always trying out new slogans and hoping that they’ll hit a sweet spot with the public…which history shows is also true, by the way. But my main point was that their new slogan, non-adaptive order, relies on lying about what mainstream biology argues.

They can’t say that, though, so instead they suggest that I’m just a big meanie who calls them names, and then proceed to say that I’m a senile old fool, and a malignant narcissist and psychopath. While I’m quite savoring the irony, I’d rather they tried to wrestle with their real problem: modern evolutionary biology actually predicts that a majority of the fine details (and some of the major features) of organisms are not the product of selection, and that there are distinct limits to how precisely natural selection can work. Yet their non-adaptive order argument rests entirely on the claim that biology insists that every feature is adaptive.

When your premises are totally false, shouldn’t all your conclusions be rejected?

Apparently, not if you are a creationist!

By the way, if miss the opportunity to rip into some old-school clueless creationists, they’re hanging out on my scienceblogs page.

Comments

  1. #1 Craig Thomas
    February 16, 2016

    I gather your Creationists are still wading through “Origin of the Species”.

    Maybe one day, they will manage to finish it and move on to “Selection in Relation to Sex”.
    At that point they’ll go, “oh, doh! We’re now so embarrassed about that utterly stupid ‘non-adaptive order’ crap we were banging on about back in 2016”.

  2. #2 See Noevo
    February 17, 2016

    A couple questions:

    “And some elaborate fripperies can acquire a selective advantage, like that example of Soviet architecture, the peacock’s tail…”

    What IS the selective advantage of the peacock’s tail, aside from being a glaring “Here I am, come eat me” sign to predators?

    ………..
    “… modern evolutionary biology actually predicts that a majority of the fine details (and some of the major features) of organisms are not the product of selection, and that there are distinct limits to how precisely natural selection can work.”

    What traits in, say, humans, are NOT the product of selection?

    If any human traits are NOT the product of selection, why do we still have those traits?

  3. #3 Richard Forrest
    United Kingdom
    February 17, 2016

    The advantage of the peacock’s tail is that it signals “Look at me, I’m so fit and healthy that I can waste a lot of effort on producing this dazzling creation and still evade predators, ( and I’m horny) ” to peahens. It’s the avian equivalent of a Ferrari.
    As for humans having non-adaptive traits, we have loads of them. it doesn’t mater much what colour your eyes or hair are, for example. There are also many aspects of our anatomy which have no particular advantage or even function such as the appendix which are a legacy of our evolutionary ancestry.

  4. #4 dean
    United States
    February 17, 2016

    sn, you make the perfect supporting data point for the ignorance and dishonesty of creationists.

  5. #5 Jim
    February 17, 2016

    Sn
    Where is the intelligent design in the common back problems in humans, along with hemorrhoids, high infant mortality at birth, choking, cancers, heart valve defects, miscarriages, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy…..99% extinction rate…..etc. These unfortunate realities have easy answers in science (evolution), but not so easy for your intelligent designer myth. Unless of course the little invisible guy in the sky is an amateur tinker (or maybe one who hit the bottle a little too often whilst creating), more so than an intelligent designer. So back to your pounding round pegs through square holes all day.

  6. #6 See Noevo
    February 17, 2016

    To Richard Forrest #3:

    “[the peacock’s tail is] the avian equivalent of a Ferrari.”

    Except the Ferrari is planned and intelligently designed.

    And I think you’re too dismissive regarding color being “non –adaptive” (e.g. with hair, eyes).
    In the mating dance, one might not be attracted to black-haired beauties, but be dazzled by redheads.
    Likewise, for the potential buyer of an F12 Berlinetta, black may be a non-starter while red could seal the deal.

    And on the appendix, are you here stating infallibly that it has no function? I hope not.
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151130130021.htm

  7. #7 See Noevo
    February 17, 2016

    To Jim #5:

    “Where is the intelligent design in the common back problems in humans, along with hemorrhoids, high infant mortality at birth…etc.”

    And when that Ferrari F12 Berlinetta needs a new clutch or a valve job or an oil change, the owner exclaims
    “This $300,000 piece of crap obviously wasn’t intelligently designed!”

  8. #8 MobiusKlein
    February 18, 2016

    See No Evo,
    The car analogy is …
    an analogy.

    It is not meant to be a perfect 1-1 match. You may also note that a peacock lacks wheels, and wonder how it moves! (Until you realize, again, it’s an analogy.)

  9. #9 Chris
    Salem, MA
    February 18, 2016

    @MobiusKlein: Good point. All analogies break down eventually.

  10. #10 Job's Folly
    Canada
    February 23, 2016

    “Except the Ferrari is planned and intelligently designed.”

    Well… yeah.

    The peacock’s tale was designed too. By peahens.

    Which is precisely why the analogy was used, I would imagine, though I can’t speak for Forrest.

  11. #11 See Noevo
    February 23, 2016

    To Job’s Folly #10:

    “The peacock’s tale was designed too. By peahens.”

    Looks like you’ve coined a new evolutionary theory: ‘Animals design themselves.’

    I’ll name it Job’s Folly Evolution.

  12. #12 Job's Folly
    February 23, 2016

    To the extent that sexual selection occurs, yes, of course they do.

    The design process just doesn’t involve blueprints and patents and research labs, is all.

  13. #13 Jim
    February 23, 2016

    SN
    So, is all the cool stuff (e.g. “beautiful” Peacock tail feathers) evidence of your invisible designer, and all the bad stuff (e.g. cancer, prostate problems, arthritis, cystic fibrosis, etc.) things we shouldn’t talk about, or are we to blindly conclude (as so many pathetically do) that “God” works in a mysterious way. And if your invisible designer is able to create the entire universe, along withal of us living things on this tiny speck we call earth, why is modern science able to improve upon your invisible creator’s creations (e.g. cures for diseases, genetic engineering, artificial hips, lazik surgery, insulin pumps, Viagra, etc.). And what’s up with ~99% of your designer’s creations (species) going extinct (failing). Not to be rude, but it appears your invisible designer couldn’t design an Italian sports car, let alone the universe and everything in it.
    Failure is an expected outcome for the blind process of evolution. And we see endless failures and not overly impressive “desigs.” Not the expected case for your ultimate intelligent designer (i.e. the imaginary invisible guy in the sky).

  14. #14 See Noevo
    February 23, 2016

    Translation of Jim’s #13:

    ‘I am an atheist because there is at least one thing – anything in this world – that I don’t like.’

  15. #15 Jim
    February 24, 2016

    SN
    I have no idea what you are trying to say, nor what it has to do with the endless failures of your intellingent designer that apparently you can’t acknowledge or explain.

    Remember that an atheist is just a person who believes in one less God than you believe in. I won’t fault you for your athestic views of Zeus. So stick to the topic SN.

  16. #16 See Noevo
    February 24, 2016

    To Jim #15:

    “SN
    I have no idea what you are trying to say, nor what it has to do with the endless failures of your intellingent designer that apparently you can’t acknowledge or explain.”

    I’ll allow for some obtuseness on your end. But this shouldn’t be so hard for you to comprehend.
    You are an atheist because the world is NOT as you would like. In this world you can you can stub your toe, you can suffer from a hangover. Why, you can even experience “cancer, prostate problems, arthritis, cystic fibrosis, etc.”
    And then you die!
    Therefore, in your view, there is no God.

    In short, as I said earlier, you are an atheist because there is at least one thing – anything in this world – that you don’t like.

    Comprende?

    Si?

  17. #17 Jim
    February 24, 2016

    SN
    What an ignorant conclusion on your part. Atheists are atheists because “the world is NOT as they would like it,” so nonatheists are nonatheists because the world is exactly as they like it? So you must embrace disease, poverty….and ALL parts of our world in order to make such an ridiculous claim. Dumbest thing I ever heard in my life SN.

    But now I’m curious. If you don’t believe in Zeus is that because the world is NOT as you would like it to be? I know it’s an incredibly stupid question, that’s my point.

  18. #18 See Noevo
    February 24, 2016

    To Jim #17:

    “SN
    What an ignorant conclusion on your part. Atheists are atheists because “the world is NOT as they would like it,” so nonatheists are nonatheists because the world is exactly as they like it?”

    Of course not.
    Both atheists and non-atheists dislike things in this world.
    But atheists do the wrong thing as a result, i.e. deny Divinity.

    It’s like with courage and cowardice.
    Both the courageous and the cowardly experience fear.
    But the cowardly do the wrong thing as a result.
    The courageous, on the other hand, do the right and noble thing DESPITE the fear they feel.

  19. #19 Job's Folly
    February 24, 2016

    See Noevo,

    If you really believed that, you would do the right and noble thing and acknowledge the existence of the invisible purple potato, who is the only true master of life in this universe.

    Instead you take the cowardly and fearful way out by claiming to believe in this “God” of yours.

  20. #20 dean
    United States
    February 24, 2016

    Why is it wrong to deny Divinity? There are many myths I don’t believe in.

    And going from the first sentence of this pair

    Both atheists and non-atheists dislike things in this world.
    But atheists do the wrong thing as a result, i.e. deny Divinity.

    to the second is an incredibly stupid bit of failed logic, even for you.

  21. #21 dean
    February 24, 2016

    You are an atheist because the world is NOT as you would like.

    Wow – you are on a roll with really stupid things. You understand the reason every person in the world who says he or she is an atheist, and claim it is this? You looked (presumably) at a body of information and decided you were better giving up any time in education, understanding science, and practicing basic decency, to go into the creationist camp in order to be (in your mind) a better person.
    How do you know other people who looked at the same stuff decided they could be better people on a different path.
    Were you this stupid before you became a creationist, or do you simply have to work at it?

  22. #22 Jim
    February 25, 2016

    SN

    Believing in an invisible guy in the sky: courageous and rational.

    Not blindly believing in an invisible guy in the sky: cowardly and irrational.

    Outside of brain damaged gophers and you, I don’t who could buy into such nonsense.

  23. #23 See Noevo
    February 25, 2016

    To Jim #22:

    No. I was not saying that atheists are cowards, necessarily.

    I was using “cowardice/courage re: fear” AS AN ANALOGY for “atheism/nonatheism re: disagreeable things.”

    I was trying to illustrate why your attempted corollary was false (“Atheists are atheists because “the world is NOT as they would like it,” so nonatheists are nonatheists because the world is exactly as they like it?”)

    Two people can have very different reactions and views of disagreeable things, just as they can have very different reactions and views of fear.

    However, as far as atheism being “irrational”, well, I didn’t say that either.
    But I would agree.
    ………..
    Lastly, Jim, in this year 2016 Anno Domini,
    who do you say Jesus Christ is?

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