Guest Column: Casey Luskin and the Evolution of Birds

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Ed Note: This is a guest column written by Sean Starcher and JA Pourtless. You can read the original version of this column on Sean’s blog.

Casey Luskin of the IDEA Center has really had it piled on lately. We don’t want it to seem like we’re picking on him (there are certainly a healthy number of creationist websites out there that are in serious need of a reality check!), but his primer on “Problems with Evolutionary Explanations of the Fossil Record” contains some serious errors that are in immediate need of correcting.

That there are “some” errors is a bit of an understatement, but for the time being we’re going to focus in on two of his major criticisms. He says:

But what did Archaeopteryx come from? Given the similarities to therapod [sic] dinosaurs, it is usually claimed to be a nice clean relative of the therapods [sic]. The catch? These therapods [sic] are only known from one locality–the Yixian formation in China, and according to the radiometric dates, the Therapods [sic] are “at least 20 Myr younger than Archaopteryx” [sic]. To give an analogy, that’s sort of like saying that the first apes came from modern humans (which appeared out of no where 25 million years ago and then disappeared).

This passage is confused on a number of different counts. Firstly, that bird-like theropods are limited to a single locality, the Yixian, is just flat-out wrong. Dromaeosaurids are known from North America (e.g. Bambiraptor, from the Two Medicine Formation of Montana, Dromaeosaurs and Saurornitholestes from the Judith River Formation of Alberta Canada, Deinonychus from the Cloverly Formation of Wyoming), Europe (teeth, mostly undescribed, from the UK and Portugal), Mongolia (Velociraptor from the Djadoctha Formation, Adasaurus from Nemegtskaya Svita), and Africa (undescribed teeth). Oviraptorosaurs are known from North America, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Therizinosaurs have been found in Mongolia and the United States. Alvarezsaurids are known from Mongolia and the US. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

That there exists some intractable temporal paradox involved with the theropod hypothesis of avian ancestry is also far from accurate. The earliest unquestionable coelurosaur is represented by an incomplete braincase from the Early Jurassic La Boca Formation of Mexico which displays a distinct caudal tympanic recess, strongly suggesting its status as a coelurosaurian theropod (Clark et al. 1994, Munter 1999, Clark et al. 2002). Witmer (2002) and Clark et al. (2002) suggested that “Protoavis texensis” Chatterjee’s dubious Triassic “bird” (which is discussed elsewhere) might in fact represent a coelurosaur. An alleged ornithomimid, also recovered from the Dockum Formation, Shuvosaurus inexpectatus, if valid would push the origin of at least one major coelurosaur clade to the Late Triassic. An isolated troodontid tooth has been recovered from the Morrison Formation of Upper Jurassic age (Chure 1994, Clark et al. 2002) and teeth referable to Dromaeosauridae and Troodontidae are reported from two separate medial Jurassic sites in Great Britain, among other places (Evans & Milner 1994, Metcalf & Walker 1994, Clark et al. 2002). A dentary recovered from the Early Jurassic Lower Lufeng Formation of China displays multiple characters diagnostic of Therizinosauridae (Xu et al. 2001).

In order to successfully argue that these fossils do not indicate a Jurassic or even terminal Triassic adaptive radiation of Coelurosauria, as some have suggested, the characters present in the indicated material must either be shown to be misinterpreted, or greater similarity must be demonstrated to more primitive groupings. To date this has not been done.

It is interesting to document the stratigraphic position of more complete finds as well. Way back in 1994, Feduccia and others subscribing to his heterodox views of avian evolution were telling us that Archaeopteryx’s closest non-avian relations “lived 80 to 100 million years later” (Feduccia 1994, p.g. 32). In 1996 (p.g. vii), it had become “75 million or more years,” and in 1999 (p.g. 4740), “30 to 80 million years after the appearance of the earliest known bird.” The same year this last statement was published, the primitive dromaeosaurid Sinornithosaurus, dated at 125 MYA, pushed back the “gap” in more complete material to 20 million years (Xu et al. 1999), and just recently, another basal dromaeosaurid from the lowest section of the Yixian formation, Graciliraptor, has made it 17 MY (Xu & Wang 2004). The troodontid Sinovenator, a basal member of the group most commonly hypothesized to be the sister to Dromoaeosauridae, is known of the same age (Xu et al. 2002), which was as least tentatively admitted to by Feduccia (2002). Whittled down to next to nothing, how long do Mr. Luskin and the individuals he cites plan on continuing with this sham argument?

Next, Luskin decides to mix it up and have a try at Longisquama:

“To throw a final bone into the problems with reptile-bird evolution, an ancient reptile called Longisquama, found in Krygyztan, Russia in the 1970’s, has recently been re-analyzed and posed as a challenge to the traditional dinosaur-to-bird theories of evolution25. The fossil basically looks like a lizard with feathers, and like Protoavis, was found in strata of about the same geological period as the first dinosaurs. It is interesting because it had feathers which are extremely similar to birds in many fashions…”

Despite Mr. Luskin’s uncritical recitation of the conclusions of Jones et al. (2000), there is little suggesting Longisquama’s dorsal appendages have anything to do with feathers.

According to Senter (2003), the structures are divided into three membranous “lobes”, of which the posterior narrows and disappears as one moves distally. The periodic ridges that Jones et al. interpret as featherlike barbs fused to a rachis are instead pleats on the two larger lobes (Reisz & Sues 2000, Prum 2001, Unwin & Benton 2001, Senter 2003). Proximally, troughs between these ridges on the middle lobe are interpreted as the “air spaces” on the interior of the “rachis” by Jones et al. (2000). Additionally, Prum (2001) observes that “many portions of the membranous “vanes” of the Longisquama appendages lack any such structures,” which is in sharp contrast to the condition in feathers, whereby the vein is composed entirely of barbs. Furthermore, while a “pennaceous feather vane is created by interlocking barbules…the Longisquama “pinnae” lack them.” Perhaps most damaging, the “rachis” is not a continuous element proximodistally (Senter 2003).

Although Jones et al. (2001) and Feduccia (2002) derided Prum’s examination of the fossil material as perfunctory, his observations are consistent with nearly two decades of comments by Feduccia himself. In 1985 (p. 76) he wrote that:

Alan Feduccia Wrote:

“Notwithstanding speculations on the nature of the elongated scales found in such forms as Longisquama…as being featherlike structures, there is simply no demonstrable evidence that they in fact are. In 1982 I examined the specimen of Longisquama in Moscow and could see no indication that the elongated scales were particularly feather-like. They are very interesting, highly modified and elongated scales, and are not incipient feathers.”

Although they were to become “featherlike scales” in 1999, he still maintained that “the scales of Longisquama were not transmuted into feathers.” (p.g. 133) To quote Prum (2003: p. 557), “somehow he made a complete and rapid conversion from thinking that Longisquama was “a bizarre and unique solution to the problem of gliding” (Feduccia 1999b: 95) to thinking that Longisquama is the closest known relative of birds (Jones et al. 2000).”

Why did the “featherlike nature” of these structures, “observable facts” (Jones et al. 2001) apparently previously invisible to Feduccia, Sharov (Longisquama’s original describer; Regal 1975), and a host of others, come to light when they did? If forced to speculate, we’d guess it had something to do with the authors, all of whom are outspoken critics of the theropod hypothesis, trying to mount some sort of counteroffensive after the discovery of a host of unambiguously feathered non-avian dinosaurs prior to the paper’s publication. This sort of flim-flam is nothing new, of course.

Back in 1998, Martin et al. argued that the avian hypocleideum was a separate ossification that they identified with an interclavicle. Because interclavicles are unknown in dinosaurs, the wishbones of both groups must be non-homologous. The very same year, Feduccia & Martin (1998), in response to a 1997 paper by Norell et al. in Nature, suggested that the Velociraptor furcula could not be homologous with the avian furcula because now, it was composed of an interclavicle! Now, because Martin has contradicted decades of his own pronouncements and adopted what he calls the “Paulian” (after paleontologist and dino-artist Greg Paul) view of Manirapotra, whereby these dinosaurs are actually flightless birds (pers. comm.), he would now apparently believe they are the same structures. In each case, contradictory statements are interpreted as conclusion proof of pseudo-homology. The first time because dinosaurs don’t have interclavicles, the second because they do, the third because, ostensibly belonging to birds, these wishbones in no way supply evidence for the theropod origin of birds. When the going gets tough, the “thecodont origins” camp seem remarkably skilled at reinterpreting the evidence, but always in a way that supposedly casts doubt on the consensus view.

Mr. Luskin continues by positing what he calls “two bad options”: either “Longisquama is a direct ancestor of the birds (including Archaeopteryx),” in which case “the feathers on Longisquama are ancestral to the feathers on birds,” or, “claim that birds still came from dinosaurs, but then Longisquama is in now way an ancestor of birds.” This second option is unacceptable, he says, because “the evolutionist has to wake up each morning trying to understand how feathers could evolve twice independently.”

Ignoring the preceding discussion and fact that modern systematists cannot and do not posit taxa as ancestral to others, these are not our only options. As Prum & Brush (2002) point out, if Longisquama’s appendages were indeed feathers, it is possible that they were primitive for archosaurs but lost repeatedly in divergent lineages. Like Prum & Brush (2002), we find this an unacceptable conclusion for a number of reasons, and like Luskin, agree that his first option is nearly impossible to defend. What we do not agree with is the need to invoke his second option, for the reasons described above. Hypothetically though, what would truly strain credulity is not the convergence of dinosaur feathers on Longisquama – a single, albeit complex structure – but any supposed Longisquama-bird group on dinosaurs, which at various levels of inclusiveness are united by literally hundreds of derived similarities (Padian & Chiappe 1998, Paul 2002). The number of ad hoc assumptions required to make dinosaurs and birds phony look-alikes simply boggles the mind.

Lastly, we find his suggestion that we “kill two birds with one stone,” throw out evolution altogether and adopt “the hypothesis” that birds are the result of intelligent design, totally unacceptable. We are unaware of any “intelligent design” theory of bird origins that makes testable, falsifiable predictions, or more precisely, are unaware of any scientific ID theory of birds.

References

Chure, D.J. 1994. Koparion douglassi, a new dinosaur from the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) of Dinosaur National Monument; the oldest troodontid (Theropoda: Maniraptora). Brigham Young University Studies in Geology 40: 11-15.

Clark, J.M. et al. 1994. An Early or Middle Jurassic tetrapod assemblage from the La Boca Formation, northeastern Mexico. In: In the Shadow of Dinosaurs: Early Mesozoic Tetrapods, N. Fraser & H-D. Sues, Eds. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 295-302

Clark, J.M. et al. 2002. Cladistic approaches to the relationships of birds to other theropod dinosaurs. In: Mesozoic Birds: Above the Heads of Dinosaurs, L. Chiappe & L. Witmer, Eds. University of California Press, Berkeley: 31-61.

Evans, S.E. & Milner, A.R. 1994. Middle Jurassic microvertebrate assemblages from the British Isles. In: In the Shadow of Dinosaurs: Early Mesozoic Tetrapods, N. Fraser & H-D. Sues, Eds. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 303-321.

Feduccia, A. 1985. On why the dinosaurs lacked feathers. In: The Beginnings of Birds: Proceedings of the International Archaeopteryx Conference, Eichstatt, 1984, M.K. Hecht et al., Eds. Freunde des Jura-Museums Eichstatt, Eichstatt: 75-79.

Feduccia, A. 1994. The great dinosaur debate. Living Bird 13: 29-33.

Feduccia, A. 1996. The Origin and Evolution of Birds, First Edition. Yale University Press, New Haven.

Feduccia, A. 1999. 1,2,3=2,3,4: Accommodating the cladogram. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 96: 4740-4742.

Feduccia, A. 2002. Birds are dinosaurs: simple answer to a complex problem. The Auk 119: 1187-1201.

Feduccia, A. & Martin, L.D. 1998. Theropod-bird link reconsidered. Nature 391: 754.

Jones, T.D. et al. 2000. Nonavian feathers in a Late Triassic archosaur. Science 288: 2202-2208.

Jones, T.D. et al. 2001. Longisquama fossil and feather morphology: Response. Science 291: 1990-1902.

Martin, L.D. et al. 1998. The furcula in early birds. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 18 (suppl. 3): 60A-61A.

Metcalf, S.J. & Walker, R.J. 1994. A New Bathonian microvertebrate locality in the English Midlands. In: In the Shadow of the Dinosaurs: Early Mesozoic Tetrapods, N. Fraser & H-D. Sues, Eds. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 322-332.

Munter, R. 1999. Two new theropod dinosaurs from Huizachal Canyon, Mexico. Masters thesis, George Washington Univeristy, Washingtion, D. C.

Norell, M.A. et al. 1997. A Velociraptor wishbone. Nature 389: 447.

Padian, K. & Chiappe, L.M. 1998. The origin and evolution of birds. Biological Reviews 73: 1-42.

Paul, G.S. 2002. Dinosaurs of the Air: The Evolution and Loss of Flight in Dinosaurs and Birds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Prum, R. 2001. Longisquama fossil and feather morphology. Science 291: 1899-1900.

Prum, R. 2003. Are current critiques of the theropod origin of birds science? reply to Feduccia (2002). The Auk 120: 550-561.

Prum, R. & Brush A.H. 2002. The evolutionary origin and diversification of feathers. The Quarterly Review of Biology 77: 261-295.

Regal, P.J. 1975. The evolutionary origin of feathers. The Quarterly Review of Biology 50: 35-66.

Reisz, R.R. & Sues, H.-D. 2000. The “feathers” of Longisquama. Nature 408: 428.

Senter, P. 2003. Taxon sampling artifacts and the phylogenetic position of Aves. PhD dissertation, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Il.

Unwin, D.M. & Benton, M.J. 2001. Longisquama fossil and feather morphology. Science 291: 1900-1901.

Witmer, L.M. The debate on avian ancestry: phylogeny, function and fossils. In: Mesozoic Birds: Above the Heads of Dinosaurs, L. Chiappe & L. Witmer, Eds. University of California Press, Berkeley: 3-30.

Xu, X. & Wang,X.-L. 2004. A new dromaeosaur (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of western Liaoning, China. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 42: 111-119.

Xu, X. et al. 1999. A dromaeosaurid dinosaur with a filamentous integument from the Yixian Formation of China. Nature 401: 262-266.

Xu, X. et al. 2001. A new therizinosaur from the Lower Jurassic lower Lufeng Formation of Yunnan, China. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 21: 477-483.

Xu, X. et al. 2002. A basal troodontid from the Early Cretaceous of China. Nature 415: 780-784.

78 Comments

Creationist - someone who’s interested in evolution being wrong, but has distorted or absent scientific curiosity

Creationist - someone who’s interested in evolution being wrong, but has distorted or absent scientific curiosity

Creationist - someone who’s interested in evolution being wrong, but has distorted or absent scientific curiosity

Don’t be silly.

A creationist is someone who thinks that the natural world we live in is the product of a creative act (whether creation ex nihilo, by a gradual process, by a divinely inspired unfolding plan, so on and so on) of a being (whether it be God of the Bible, some other God, a demiurge, beings, force, other non-supernatural entity, and so on and on) who existed before the existence of the natural world.

Really Les, Rhetoric and “strawman lumping” is wholly deleterious to real discussion.

M-M-M-M-MULTIPOST!

There’s no such thing as a “real discussion” with a creationist. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

Posted by Andrew on June 25, 2004 03:32 PM

There’s no such thing as a “real discussion” with a creationist. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

. That’s pretty much true. In principle you could have people who were creationists for logical reasons, i.e. they were completely ignorant of science, and considered creationism to be the most rational explanation they were aware of. These hypothetical people could be reasoned with. In reality, creationists tend to be people with strong religious faith. Religious faith is often incompatible with some of the rational beliefs science has developed. It’s a different method of generating beliefs, and naturally it produces a set of beliefs which aren’t indentical to the set produced by the rational method. Creationists consider the rational method weaker than the faith method, and when there’s conflict, they assert flaws in the rational beliefs. Which makes sense in light of their premises. Scientists admit the rational method isn’t perfect, and the creationist has faith that the faith beliefs are, so of course the rational method must be in error, to them. As long as people believe that the faith method is superior to the rational method, this conflict, and related ones like Jihad, will endure.

Andrew said: “There’s no such thing as a “real discussion” with a creationist.”

There was this one time, when the non-creationist JBS Haldane had a real discussion with the creationist RA Fisher.

Again, I’m only attempting to straightin out this silly (what I call “lump straw-manning”) rhetoric that so many of you pandasthumb regulars use when refering to people as “creationists.” The definition provided in Les Lanes muti-post is entirely worthless. Historically, philosophically, and rhetorically inadequate.

And Steven, you do not seem to be aware that many great thinkers in the history of both philosophy and science have grounded rationality (their epistemologies) enitrely in some form of a creationistic episteme. See Bacon, Descartes, Kepler, Newton, Einstein,…

T. Russ,

So, tell me/us, what would be your idea of a real, honest discussion between evolutionists and creationists? As an aside, I’m doing away with quotation marks, across the board, for convenience’s sake.

Forget about Les’s fun definitions and give me yours. And when you’ve done that, explain and defend your “lump straw-manning” claim.

Casey Luskin and I are tiptoeing through a quite civil dialogue; one of my best friends is a born-again Christian IDer. We used to debate it, but don’t anymore at his insistence.

C’mon, let’s be upfront here and try to find a common ground for discourse. It can only help all concerned.

Perhaps Mr Russ would like to enlarge on his claim that Fisher was a creationist. Since Fisher, like Haldane is remembered as one of the founders of the neo-Darwinian “New Synthesis” it seems unlikely that he remained a creationist even if he was when at the time of the discussion referenced above.

There are so many bird like theropods and or theropod like bird fossils now known that there is no use debating whether birds descended from theropods unless you have startling new evidence. At least that’s the consensus of the experts. Madagascar is another place where such fossils have been found.

Somehow this has become a discussion of what’s a creationist. Can we agree to narrow this down as follows? The creationists that we are talking about are anti evolution, so people from centuries ago don’t count. They do not merely believe in ‘a creative act’. They insist that the origin of species was done by God (aka the Designer, Rael, …) and was done is a way that means that evolution did not do it, as opposed to evolution being God’s method. Indeed they insist that evolution simply could not account for the diversity of life, and never tire of presenting arguments to that effect. Note that the Designer might have created species from scratch or may have made vertebrates as we know them possible by, say creating the vertebrate immune system, blood clotting system etc. in an existing lineage. We are not talking about your neighbor or your uncle who just doesn’t know any better, but about a few top creationists from whom the nonsense flows, and their internet avatars. There are young earth creationists (YEC) and old earth creationists (OEC) and intelligent design creationists (IDC) who profess agnosticism about whether the earth is more than a few thousand years old.

Any “creationist” who actually has an honest sense of curiosity about Life and its origins can, of course, be engaged in a serious discussion. I believe that was the case when the early theories were proposed, and certainly the case when Darwin’s “Origins” was published. The problem in this, and pretty much every debate in my layman’s world, is whether one’s curiosity is strong enough to allow one’s pre-conceptions and comfortable assumptions to be challenged. Oh, and whether one has the basic courage to admit a degree of ignorance or idiocy.

The religious type who has made a single book’s infallacy the cornerstone of their knowledge is unlikely to admit the latter quality, while having spent years crushing the former.

Paul, Concerning my claim on RA Fisher as a creationist (even though Pete Dunkelburg has said that it is invalid to bring up creationists from the past … ):

RA Fisher, statistician and co-founder of the genetical theory of natural selection, retained his Christian faith throughout his career. Fisher adopted the Darwinian perspective at an early stage in his career, but was determined throughout it to show that Darwinian selection was compatible with his modernist Anglicanism. He was one of a small number of serious Christians who welcomed Darwin’s mechanism because it made evolution historically contingent and because its harshness fitted their vision of a world based on suffering. (a central belief of Christianity) Fisher was interested in Darwinism because he saw that with it, free will could then be ushered back into the natural world for human beings. He was very anxious to defend the traditional view that human beings have free will. The element of choice was important for Fisher because it allowed him to argue that we ourselves can contribute to the good of the world, and combat evil in it, by our actions. This in turn allowed us to participate in and extend the evolutionary process, by taking control of selective breeding in the human population through a eugenics program. He thus presented natural selection as the mechanism that God had chosen (designed) to use for the creation of humanity. All of this, in order to supply human beings with free will as well as a clever theodicy.

Fisher was convinced that his religion played an important role in sustaining the worldview that made his work possible. For Fisher God had instituted a much less direct method of creation based on adaptation to the local environment by natural selection. His work on the genetical theory, far from deserving its old image as a key plank in the case for a mechanistic universe, undermined determinism and was thus a plausible means by which a creator sought to encourage the development of higher forms of life with a degree of freedom of choice.

Fisher was a creationist in the actual sense of the word. Specifically he was a Christian Creationist. “Creationist” doesn’t in itself carry any specification on timescale, mechanism, and so forth. All that one must think in order to be a creationist is that a creator played the role of creating the natural world. Really! that is all the title can imply. That is why we have all these other subcategories of creationists. (YEC, OEC, IDC,) As for being a YECer, OECer, IDCer, or any of the other current day creationist types, Fisher might possibly be eligible for the title of IDCer. Because it appears that he saw the laws which governed nature as intelligently designed for a purpose. (namely to bring about human free will and humanities progress.)*

Darwinfinch: When you say …

“Any “creationist” who actually has an honest sense of curiosity about Life and its origins can, of course, be engaged in a serious discussion.”

I agree with you fully. “I believe that was the case when the early theories were proposed, and certainly the case when Darwin’s “Origins” was published”

And if this was the case in the past, then it certainly is theoretically possible that this is the case today. Of course, some of us have such strong biases and our minds are so thoroughly made up on the subject that if anyone did want to have an honest discussion about origins we would lump them with the craziest YECer we could find (see the blog on pandasthumb initiated by Creationist Timmy. See for a case in point Comment #4208 by Ian Menzies) and laugh at them before we seriously gave em any chance at all.

* This information is taken from “Reconciling Science and Religion: The Debate in Early-Twentieth-Century Britain (Science and Its Conceptual Foundations) by Peter J. Bowler as well as some good articles by James Moore. There is much more information on Fishers Christianity and its relationship with his science in these brilliant histories.

In response to Mr. Luskin’s comment about the theropods supposedly being younger than Archaeopteryx, their presumed descendant, it is important to point out (as he evidently does not) that the first fossil of a particular group we find usually does not represent the earliest member of that group. In short, just because theropod fossils are found from date X onward does not mean that theropods first appeared at date X. Glenn Morton discusses this concept in this talk.origins Post of the Month:

http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/[…]04.html#hon2

T. Russ wrote

As for being a YECer, OECer, IDCer, or any of the other current day creationist types, Fisher might possibly be eligible for the title of IDCer. Because it appears that he saw the laws which governed nature as intelligently designed for a purpose. (namely to bring about human free will and humanities progress.)*

T.Russ’s conclusion requires considerable contortions and distortions. The description preceding that conclusion almost certainly implies that Fisher was a theistic evolutionist, not an IDCer. Recall that the central claim of current Intelligent Design Creationism is that the activities of a designing agent are empirically detectable in biological phenomena. And Dembski has written

Design theorists are no friends of theistic evolution. As far as design theorists are concerned, theistic evolution is American evangelicalism’s ill-conceived accommodation to Darwinism. What theistic evolution does is take the Darwinian picture of the biological world and baptize it, identifying this picture with the way God created life. When boiled down to its scientific content, theistic evolution is no different from atheistic evolution, accepting as it does only purposeless, naturalistic, material processes for the origin and development of life. (Emphasis original)

While Dembski adopted Fisherian hypothesis testing as his core statistical model, I doubt very much that he or Phil Johnson or Jonathan Wells could honestly claim Fisher as an Intelligent Design Creationist. On T. Russ’s definition, Ken Miller is an intelligent design creationist!

RBH

Theistic evolution fits my framework above. Someone would adopt this position because he is willing to go only so far against the evidence to keep his religious beliefs. A belief in theistic evolution is a modification of the set of christian religious beliefs to make the beliefs more compatible with the evidence. Such people have much less blind faith than some other creationists; it is a more rational position.

Glad you commented, RBH. By improperly vague usage of creationist, the guy above called Einstein a creationist. It’s a sneaky way of implying something which isn’t true, without really saying it.

T. Russ said: All that one must think in order to be a creationist is that a creator played the role of creating the natural world.

No, this is an example of what is sometimes called Low redefinition - broadening a definition and distracting from the actual subject.

“Creationist” is a broad defintion. Thats why we need YEC OEC IDC ID etc

It seems to me that T. Russ makes a valid point about the definition of “creationism.” It’s something that I briefly explore in my book Law, Darwinsim, and Public Education. In fact, the following is an excerpt from the book:

Creationism is minimally the belief that nature, indeed the entire universe, could not have come into being without a Supreme Being as its ultimate cause. In other words, an exhaustive materialist (or naturalist) description and explanation of the events and entities in the universe is not a real possibility, for there are causes, agents, and entities, including God, that are non-material (or non-natural) and are thus non-detectable under the strictures of a materialist paradigm. Under this definition of creationism, young-earth creationism, old-earth creationism, and even Aristotle’s cosmological views are “creationist,” for each posits a Supreme Being as the ultimate cause of the universe and maintains that there are non-material entities, such as agents, that can be causes for physical events and other entities.… One may even include theistic evolution as a form of creationism. Theistic evolution (or “the fully gifted creation”) is the view that a complete and exhaustive description of origins and nature in wholly material terms is in principle compatible with the existence of God and other apparently non-material philosophical and theological entities (e.g., souls, minds, moral properties, etc). Some issues raised by theistic evolution could, however, exclude it as a version of creationism. For example, it is not clear what theoretical role God or other non-material entities and agents play for the theistic evolutionist. In other words, if the theoretical components, empirical predictions, and materialist presuppositions of evolution are adequate to explain the order and nature of things without either a Creator or other non-material entities, then per Ockham’s Razor, they are superfluous.

I should have said in the book that it does not follow from this particular understanding of theistic evolution that there could not be a version of it in which an agent plays a role that has explanatory power. Some of the cosmological design guys–the anthropic principle supporters–seem to embrace such a view, since for them an agent starts the whole universe off in such a way that human life will result from evolution. This view is technically “creationist” even though it is not inconsistent with evolution

Beckwith Wrote:

For example, it is not clear what theoretical role God or other non-material entities and agents play for the theistic evolutionist. In other words, if the theoretical components, empirical predictions, and materialist presuppositions of evolution are adequate to explain the order and nature of things without either a Creator or other non-material entities, then per Ockham’s Razor, they are superfluous.

I find this somewhat troubling, while one may surely use Ockham’s Razor to reject that they are superfluous, this hardly means that they could not exist. In fact, it’s faith and faith alone which seems relevant here. Mike Gene’s front loading comes close to theistic ideas. And while scientifically I see little hope for such a stance, I see it as one of the more defensible theological approaches.

Strictly speaking, theistic evolution involves Creation, but as the term CreationISM is generally used, I would be inclined to place theistic evolution in a “neutral ground” place between evolution on the one side and YEC,OEC,ID and the other CreationISMs on the other.

We can probably never know whether or not a supernatural God exists, short of Him parting the clouds, peering imperiously down, flinging a few thunderbolts around, pointing a mighty finger and saying, “Listen up y’all - I’m only going to say this once!”

Short of that, Big Bang and Divine Creation are equally possible, and equally impossible.

Francis Beckwith, a Fellow of The Wedge says

Creationism is minimally the belief that nature, indeed the entire universe, could not have come into being without a Supreme Being as its ultimate cause.

“minimally” here means in part; this is a low redefinition, “defining” something using just one of its characteristics so that the redefined term has lower resolution and seems to encompass a broader class.

Precisely rather than minimally, creationists are people who reject modern science, especially evolutionary biology. The ancient Greeks and Romans don’t count; there was no modern science for them to reject. I’m not going to hit you with “Pontius Pilate was a creationist”. Theologically, creationists are a type of interventionist who believe that God intervenes in biology in numerous ways.

The Bible was not intended as a science text. The were no science texts in old testament times. Metaphor was the high standard, and it is still quite fine. Let’s just not confuse it with something else. Since people in old testament times did not make God “superfluous”, the DI line that you have to think of the Bible as a science book or else you are doing that must be wrong.

Why should good religion rage against scientific discoveries? Much as the ID advocates don’t like it, it is a fact that one does not have to be anti science to be religious. For more information:

http://www-personal.ksu.edu/~kbmill/Book_Ann.html

http://www.nabt.org/sub/evolution/panda1.asp

Francis Beckwith Wrote:

For example, it is not clear what theoretical role God or other non-material entities and agents play for the theistic evolutionist. In other words, if the theoretical components, empirical predictions, and materialist presuppositions of evolution are adequate to explain the order and nature of things without either a Creator or other non-material entities, then per Ockham’s Razor, they are superfluous.

This kind of statement really does drive me insane because it completely distorts what evolution is. Evolution does not explain or attempt to explain “the order and nature of things”. Evolution is the theory that modern life forms on earth are derived from a common ancestor. Period. That’s it. There are lots of ancillary theories that explain specific aspects of that, but it does not explain the origin of the earth, the origin of the universe, and certainly not the “order and nature of things.” Your argument is not with evolution, it is with atheism, and while the arguments between William Lane Craig and Quentin Smith on whether big bang cosmology (which actually DOES deal with the “order and nature of things”) implies theism or atheism are interesting, they have precisely nothing to do with evolutionary theory. To claim otherwise is to be just as ridiculous as Kent Hovind, who claims that in order to prove evolution you have to create a universe in a lab.

There is something both deeper and weirder at work here, however. Why do creationists so relentlessly want to broaden the definitions of both creationism and evolution? They want creationism to mean anyone who believes in God, and they want evolution to mean, essentially, “everything modern science says about anything that we view as conflicting with the existence of God”. Except of course when you call Dembski or any other IDer a creationist - then they howl with rage and want the definition suddenly narrowed to exclude them from it. I detect a shell game going on here, not a serious attempt to define terms and use them consistently and objectively.

Beckwith wrote

It seems to me that T. Russ makes a valid point about the definition of “creationism.”

But T.Russ made a more specific claim. He claimed that

As for being a YECer, OECer, IDCer, or any of the other current day creationist types, Fisher might possibly be eligible for the title of IDCer.

Intelligent Design Creationism is a subset of “creationism” in the general (and largely vacuous) definition Beckwith offers. Among other things, IDC makes specific claims about the detectabilty of intelligent design in nature that other varieties of “creationism” deny. Hence Beckwith’s remarks are irrelevant and serve only to deflect attention from T.Russ’s invalid claim about Fisher.

RBH

Ed Brayton Wrote:

I detect a shell game going on here, not a serious attempt to define terms and use them consistently and objectively.

That perfectly sums up the whole ID movement, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: obfuscation without end, Amen.

It’s deliciously ironic that the ID strategic command center calls itself the “Discovery” institute.

Beckwith and the Fellows say God gave E. coli its flagellum (the better to make us sick, they might add). That’s creationism. A combined scientific & religious statement, and dumb both ways. It is not fundamentalism and not evangelicalism, before anyone starts abusing those groups. The ID crusade’s biggest argument is with the churches. And if they can use public schools to convert the next generation, they win.

The problem in this, and pretty much every debate in my layman’s world, is whether one’s curiosity is strong enough to allow one’s pre-conceptions and comfortable assumptions to be challenged.

And that, for sure, is a two-way street up in these parts.…

(Side note: I’m currently reading through Beckwith’s book; in fact, I saw that same passage he quoted. Makes sense to me.)

FL :-)

Well, I think that I should provide some more info on why I would speculate on whether RA Fisher might be considered an ID theorist. But before that, let me just say that the only reason I brought up Fisher was to illustrate how broad the term “creationist” is. For he certainly was a creationist. I speculated on whether he could be considered an IDer because it seems to me that ID is also a rather broad category. If Fisher believed that the natural world was designed and worked out in the mind of the creator so as to progress by evolution by random variation and natural selection, then it seems to me that this might be “intelligent design” of some kind. I understand this is nothing like what the modern ID guys argue for but nonetheless, intelligent design is invoked. Admittedly, Fisher is hard to place. His religious ideas are very complex and he only began writing about them toward the end of his life.

To add another interesting historical character in our considering theistic evolution, (because that is apparently what this blog has become about) what was Asa Gray? (Harvard Botanist, early american supporter of Darwinism, debated Agassiz…) The quick answer is that he was a theistic evolutionist. However, he thought that God reached in an instigated beneficial variations. (God-guided evolution as opposed to natural selection guided.) This to me seems like gradualism by constant creationism. And thus a form of both creationism and intellligent design. Where do we classify a thinker like this. It my experience, it seems that this sort of divinely guided (as opposed to divinely instigated) theistic evolution is actually the prevalent belief of most americans. (at least this is what the theistic evolutionists I know believe)

But I digress…

Basically, it seems to me that at ID’s theoretical foundation all that is claimed is that there are many things in the natural world which result from the agent causation of some intelligent being. On top of this, modern ID has added that that activity or design is detectible. I’m not quite sure yet whether Dembski’s explanatory filter is wholly viable as a design detector, but I do know one thing about it, It certainly seems worthy of honest discussion. However, honest discussions can’t get off the ground because of all the religious motivation in this debate. And I mean on both sides.

Dr. Beckwith I look forward to getting a hold of your book. I read your article in the Notre Dame Journal and thought it was quite reasonable and clearly argued. Actually, I think your dead on. (But, I have no religiously motivated reason to argue with you.)

God creates via evolution. God gave e. coli the flagellum. The Easter Bunny puts a Pizza Hut on the dark side of the moon when you aren’t looking. Equally stupid ideas, equally unscientific. 100 books by philosophers, or by anonymous shepherds, will not change that; it will just waste our time and their potential.

It seems to me that Ed is making the case that Phil Johnson makes in his works: naturalistic evolution (as a comprehensive worldview) must be the case because (1) the universe is here; (2) science is methodologically naturalistic; and (3) any claim that conflicts with “science” is de facto wrong or at best “religious” (which is just a nice way to say wrong).

But this is too easy. I think what you want to say is that all the non-naturalistic accounts of phenomena fail because they lack explanatory power, not because they are “not science.” For you don’t want to make your position look like it wins based on mere stipulation of a few unquestioned axioms. For one can imagine a non-naturalistic account that does have better explanatory power than a naturalist account–e.g., non-material moral properties better account for human virtue than sociobiology, or the universe’s beginning is more likely than not the result of a powerful agent given evidence X, Y, and Z, and so on. I don’t think you want to say that the naturalistic account is real science but nevertheless not the best account of the phenomenon.

Now, I can see the downside of conceding this ground from your perspective. Frankly, I don’t think it should matter, for it should be about whether one’s arguments work and not whether one’s conclusions pass some metaphysical litmus test.

Francis Beckwith Wrote:

It seems to me that Ed is making the case that Phil Johnson makes in his works: naturalistic evolution (as a comprehensive worldview) must be the case because (1) the universe is here; (2) science is methodologically naturalistic; and (3) any claim that conflicts with “science” is de facto wrong or at best “religious” (which is just a nice way to say wrong).

No, this is not at all what I said. In fact, I didn’t say anything at all here about trying to distinguish science from non-science. Regardless of where one stands on the demarcation issue, one would have to admit that the theory of gravity and the germ theory of disease are both naturalistic theories. Neither attempts to explain any set of facts by reference to anything but entirely natural causes and phenomena and, by and large, no sane person really questions why that is. No one rails against the “grand materialist paradigm” that underlies gravitational theory or modern medicine. But the fact is that the scientific work based upon those theories is “materialist” in exactly the same sense that evolution or big bang cosmology is “materialist” - because as a matter of method, assuming natural causes and assuming no supernatural intervention to screw up the results works.

That does not necessarily mean that there is nothing over and above natural causes that might intervene (and I am not myself a philosophical naturalist/materialist), but it means that operating from that assumption has served scientists well. Pick any theory you wish and you can always think of supernatural alternatives to that theory, but none of them provide fruitful research possibilities or real explanatory power, and if any of them had been accepted in lieu of a natural explanation, we would never have figured out the truth. Methodological naturalism does not necessarily entail philosophical naturalism. That’s why there are supernaturalists of one form or another in every field of science and it does not change the nature of their work at all. A Christian chemist who believes that God is able to intervene does not do an experiment any differently than an atheist chemist does because both start from the useful assumption that nothing supernatural is going to contravene the basic laws of nature. That does not require them to believe that nothing could do so, as one of them clearly does. That is not necessarily analogous to a historical theory, of course, because believing that God won’t intervene in your experiments is not equivalent to believing that God never has intervened in nature in the past. But the only point I’m trying to make is that it is false to equate methodological naturalism with philosophical naturalism or materialism.

Let me also make clear here that your phrase “naturalistic evolution (as a comprehensive worldview)”, is, in my view, a nonsense phrase. At the very least, it is incorrect to read any such concept into anything I have written or any position I have taken, primarily because I flatly reject the notion that evolution is a “comprehensive worldview”. Evolution is a discrete theory that explains a specific set of data, and that is all it is. It does not, in my view, imply or require any other view on any other subject whatsoever. In fact, I regard this as probably the single biggest misconception fostered by those who reject evolution. I hate even using the term “evolutionism” or “evolutionist” because I don’t believe evolution is an “ism” any more than gravity is, and no one would dream of saying “gravityism”.

Getting back to the point of this dispute in the first place, which was your broad definition of “evolution” to really mean a “grand materialist theory”, I don’t think you’ve really answered the objection here at all. If the only thing that these theories that you object to have in common is that they are all methodologically naturalistic, then why pick and choose those ones? ALL sciences are methodologically naturalistic, are they not? So why not include the kinetic theory of gasses or the germ theory of disease or the theory of relativity as part of this “grand materialistic theory”? They qualify on the same basis on which you are arguing that evolution and big bang cosmology, for instance, qualify. None of them refer to supernatural causes, all of them start from the assumption that there is a natural, material cause. And all of them, I might add, are very successful in explaining the evidence after beginning with that starting point. So why single out just biological and stellar/cosmic evolution and label them part of a “grand materialistic theory” when every other scientific theory has the same trait on which you base the inclusion of those under that label?

T. Russ Wrote:

Basically, it seems to me that at ID’s theoretical foundation all that is claimed is that there are many things in the natural world which result from the agent causation of some intelligent being. On top of this, modern ID has added that that activity or design is detectible. I’m not quite sure yet whether Dembski’s explanatory filter is wholly viable as a design detector, but I do know one thing about it, It certainly seems worthy of honest discussion. However, honest discussions can’t get off the ground because of all the religious motivation in this debate. And I mean on both sides.

T. Russ Wrote:

Wes, I’ve checked out the papers you recommended me. However, I haven’t yet given them the time they deserve. But I will shortly.

I have read Ratzch’s book and believe that he provides a compelling argument. (I’m waiting to here Dembski’s reply, if anyone has seen one please hook me up with a link) I’m sure that some time soon we will be able to discuss Dembski once more.

T. Russ: There is a problem that remains. You have labeled all pre-existing discussion of Dembski’s Explanatory Filter as being dishonest. That includes the material that you have read closely (Del Ratzsch) and the material that you haven’t (at least the three URLs that I provided). Perhaps you might re-consider your original claim and offer a retraction? If you don’t plan on offering a retraction, I at least would like to know what it is that you find to be dishonest in the various essays on Dembski’s Explanatory Filter, thereby substantiating your claim.

Francis said

For one can imagine a non-naturalistic account that does have better explanatory power than a naturalist account—e.g., non-material moral properties better account for human virtue than sociobiology

I think we all agree, Francis, that non-naturalistic accounts are quite powerful when it comes to explaining non-scientific concepts such as “human virtue” or souls or other spiritual “stuff.” As I understand it, your disagreement is (and has been for a while) with the contention of scientists that (1) evolution is not a spiritual question, and (2) it is a question about nature, and therefore (3) an appeal to a spiritual explanation is inappropriate (and useless).

Wes, my comment concerning Dembski’s filter deserving honest discussion was in reference to the earlier posts in this blog in which people were speculating about, or claiming that non-evolutionists could not have honest discussions with evolutionists. I was only saying that although many people here disagree with Dembskis work, it is still worthy of honest discussion (which you yourself have participated in) and not dismissal by way of rhetoric or straw-man. (eg. pulling out some statement Dembski’s made concerning his faith and then argueing from that that the filter is therefore ridiculous, whatever)

But, Sorry for the confusion. Your papers don’t look dishonest to me.

Wes, my comment concerning Dembski’s filter deserving honest discussion was in reference to the earlier posts in this blog in which people were speculating about, or claiming that non-evolutionists could not have honest discussions with evolutionists. I was only saying that although many people here disagree with Dembskis work, it is still worthy of honest discussion (which you yourself have participated in) and not dismissal by way of rhetoric or straw-man. (eg. pulling out some statement that Dembski’s made concerning his faith, then arguing from there that the filter is therefore ridiculous)

But, Sorry for the confusion. Your papers don’t look dishonest to me.

Russ Wrote:

Ed, to my knowledge ID never mentions angels as an explanans for anything. Intelligence is the explanans. That sort of comment comes real close to a Straw-man.

I never said they did. I never implied they did. In fact, I was pointing out the fact that they don’t push supernatural explanations in other fields of science that are every bit as “materialist” as evolution or big bang cosmology. You don’t hear them questioning the methodological naturalism assumption as it’s used in, say, plate tectonics or medicine, but those are imperfect theories with alternative supernatural explanations as well. And I maintain that they do not do so because those materialist theories do not threaten their religious views, while evolution, which is materialist in precisely the same sense that the other theories are, does threaten their religious views. Can you think of another reason why they single out one or two theories out of thousands of equally materialist theories and label them a “grand materialist paradigm”, while excusing all of the others from that label?

Wes, my comment concerning Dembski’s filter deserving honest discussion was in reference to the earlier posts in this blog in which people were speculating about, or claiming that non-evolutionists could not have honest discussions with evolutionists. I was only saying that although many people here disagree with Dembskis work, it is still worthy of honest discussion (which you yourself have participated in) and not dismissal by way of rhetoric or straw-man. (eg. pulling out some statement that Dembski’s made concerning his faith, then arguing from there that the filter is therefore ridiculous)

But, Sorry for the confusion. Your papers don’t look dishonest to me.

T.Russ Wrote:

… honest discussions can’t get off the ground because of all the religious motivation in this debate. And I mean on both sides.

later he Wrote:

[M]y comment concerning Dembski’s filter deserving honest discussion was in reference to the earlier posts in this blog in which people were speculating about, or claiming that non-evolutionists could not have honest discussions with evolutionists.I was only saying that although many people here disagree with Dembskis work, it is still worthy of honest discussion (which you yourself have participated in) and not dismissal by way of rhetoric or straw-man.

T. Russ needs to be more precise in his language. The first quote seems to be saying that there has been no honest discussion of Dembski’s IDeas on this blog. So either there’s been no discussion of Dembski’s IDeas, or all the discussion has been dishonest. Then the second quote seems to say that, really, you were just criticizing comments dismissive of creationists.

I have a problem with these free-floating accusations. I asked you to back up your accusation that most or all of Dembski’s critics here are religiously motivated. So far, you have declined to do so. Now we have the added “dismissal by way of rhetoric or straw-man”. Sure, in an open forum like this you’ll probably get some of that, but that doesn’t prevent any honest discussion. Having tossed out your “rhetoric or straw-man” accusation without anchoring it to any specific comment(s) constitutes exactly the sort of well-poisoning you might have had a legitimate gripe with in the first place.

Here’s your chance to be specific:

(eg. pulling out some statement that Dembski’s made concerning his faith, then arguing from there that the filter is therefore ridiculous)

Whom are you talking about?

Though it is seldom noticed, there is something peculiar about complaining about evolution as a grand materialist story. Modern versions of evolution reject the grand story of evolution, at least if that narrative implies that there is a mechanism that produces complicated life forms with some regularity. Complicated life forms have arisen, obviously, but only as an exceedingly rare side effect of processes that normally don’t produce anything. Nature is not in the business of creating interesting animals. All we’ve learned is that it’s laws don’t absolutely rule ‘em out and that the emergence of the super scarce exceptions can be understood without signing up with the Seventh Day Adventists.

T.Russ Wrote:

Ed, to my knowledge ID never mentions angels as an explanans for anything. Intelligence is the explanans. That sort of comment comes real close to a Straw-man.

As Ed notes, he never said they did, he was pointing out that all sciences use the same methodologies as evolutionary biology and cosmology, yet they are not accused of being “grand materialist stories” when they ignore non-material explanations.

Intelligence cannot be the explans. If it were, then there would be no harping by Paleyists on the supposed “naturalistic” or “materialistic” bias of science, because intelligence is firmly within the grasp of the methodologies of science. Biology can and does deal with the actions of intelligent agents such as humans, chimpanzees and Pacific Island Ravens. They are natural entities acting within the natural world.

For example, within science there is no apriori rejection of the existence of intelligent, space faring aliens. Such aliens would be natural agents acting within the natural world, and as such could be investigated by the current methods of science. Yet a hypothesis that the KT impactor was guided to Earth by spacefaring aliens would get short shrift, because we have no evidence for spacefaring aliens hanging around our solar system 75 million years ago, and significant evidence that large asteroids or comets periodically bump into planets of their own accord. No one in the Paleyist camp would disagree with the above logic, yet when the same logic is applied to evolutionary biology, the cries of “materialist bias” emerge.

The emphasis on “naturalism” and “materialism” only makes sense if “intelligence” is meant to be “supernatural intelligence” as these are the only kinds of agents science cannot currently deal with.

T. Russ Wrote:

Dr. Beckwith, Perhaps the “Evolutionary Paradigm” could be called the “Evolutionary Episteme?” M. Foucault’s word is a little more rigid and can’t be dismissed by siting how many different ways he used it.

No, because the concept does not apply. Beckwith’s so called “evolutionary paradigm/epistme” is the methodology of all science.

T.Russ Wrote:

Ed, to my knowledge ID never mentions angels as an explanans for anything. Intelligence is the explanans. That sort of comment comes real close to a Straw-man.

As Ed notes, he never said they did, he was pointing out that all sciences use the same methodologies as evolutionary biology and cosmology, yet they are not accused of being “grand materialist stories” when they ignore non-material explanations.

Intelligence cannot be the explans. If it were, then there would be no harping by Paleyists on the supposed “naturalistic” or “materialistic” bias of science, because intelligence is firmly within the grasp of the methodologies of science. Biology can and does deal with the actions of intelligent agents such as humans, chimpanzees and Pacific Island Ravens. They are natural entities acting within the natural world.

For example, within science there is no apriori rejection of the existence of intelligent, space faring aliens. Such aliens would be natural agents acting within the natural world, and as such could be investigated by the current methods of science. Yet a hypothesis that the KT impactor was guided to Earth by spacefaring aliens would get short shrift, because we have no evidence for spacefaring aliens hanging around our solar system 75 million years ago, and significant evidence that large asteroids or comets periodically bump into planets of their own accord. No one in the Paleyist camp would disagree with the above logic, yet when the same logic is applied to evolutionary biology, the cries of “materialist bias” emerge.

The emphasis on “naturalism” and “materialism” only makes sense if “intelligence” is meant to be “supernatural intelligence” as these are the only kinds of agents science cannot currently deal with.

T. Russ Wrote:

Dr. Beckwith, Perhaps the “Evolutionary Paradigm” could be called the “Evolutionary Episteme?” M. Foucault’s word is a little more rigid and can’t be dismissed by siting how many different ways he used it.

No, because the concept does not apply. Beckwith’s so called “evolutionary paradigm/epistme” is the methodology of all science.

Casey Luskin wrote:

”…if [complex entities in the cell] change at all they cease to function.”

http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmg[…].php/id/1135

The statement above is an blatant lie and Casey knows it.

Casey, would you care to admit that the above statement is a lie? And then retract your statement publicly? Or would you prefer to continue dragging the reputations of scientists, lawyers and Christians through the mud as you elevate your status among the world’s charlatans?

Ian, when you say,

“Intelligence cannot be the explans. If it were, then there would be no harping by Paleyists on the supposed “naturalistic” or “materialistic” bias of science, because intelligence is firmly within the grasp of the methodologies of science.”

You both concede to one of intelligent design theories most important theoretical claims and reveal that you really aren’t all that aware of the basic argument for ID.

T. Russ.:

Before ID can have a “theoretical claim”, it has to have a theory. So far, ID doesn’t have a theory. ID advocates make plenty of assertions and put forward lots of conjectures, but so far, no theory. Someone could prove me wrong by giving a specific reference to a clear statement of such a theory that’s in the peer-reviewed literature.

Ian has read Wilkins and Elsberry 2001 and therefore already knows that what we know about ordinary design doesn’t underwrite the inference to rarefied design that ID advocates want people to make. I think that Ian is quite aware of the ID arguments; he just knows their failings already.

Which reminds me: it’s just a few days until “Why Intelligent Design Fails” hits the bookstores. Be on the lookout for it.

“Irreducibly complex” entities in the cell simply could not have arisen through natural selection, for if they change at all they cease to function, and natural selection is blind to functionless biological entities. There are many irreducibly complex structures in biology for which no functional evolutionary origin can be constructed.

Thanks for the link, Marty. That’s not just wrong, it’s babble. It’s a guy making incoherent statements, just trying to keep believing.

Ian Musgrave writes

Beckwith’s so called “evolutionary paradigm/epistme” is the methodology of all science.

Let no one forget: The Wedge saith

If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a “wedge” that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. … Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

Science, not just biology, is to be replaced with theoscience. The Fellows of The Wedge see biology as a first target, not a final one.

Ian Musgrave writes

Beckwith’s so called “evolutionary paradigm/epistme” is the methodology of all science.

Let no one forget: The Wedge saith

If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a “wedge” that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. … Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

Science, not just biology, is to be replaced with theoscience. The Fellows of The Wedge see biology as a first target, not a final one.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ed Brayton published on June 26, 2004 9:49 AM.

Better Living Through Evolution, pt. 1: Cleaning up a mess/upending the “scientific key” of ID. was the previous entry in this blog.

Privileged Planet: Nature review is the next entry in this blog.

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