Intelligent Design creationism in the Star Tribune

| 77 Comments

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune has a series of articles on their op-ex page today on the Intelligent Design creationism "debate". It's not bad; they set the tone with a set of quotes on the front page from Darwin, Einstein, Twain, and Pope Pius XII that provide no comfort to creationists at all.

They've also got an article by yours truly, Pseudoscience would waste teaching time (which I've also put on Pharyngula, if you don't want to register with the Strib), and another pro-science article by a staff writer, When two core beliefs go head to head. There's a peculiar (to this atheist's way of thinking) article on the religious viewpoint, Truth of faith doesn't depend on this debate, which basically supports the theistic evolutionist's point of view, while arguing for the importance of faith.

Then there is, of course, the token article for "balance", Students should learn the weaknesses of evolutionary theory, too. It's by Dave Eaton, who has no credentials in biology at all, but was appointed by the conservative creationist who used to run our state board of education to be on our standards committee. That article is a stunning pile of drivel, as you'll discover if you'd care to read my critique.


By the way, there is a big bold invitation on the op-ex page.

An invitation to readers on ID/evolution.
We're interested in your thoughts on intelligent design, evolution, and their proper places in school curricula. Write us an e-mail of no more than 150 words and send it to opinion@startribune.com, with the word "evolution" in the subject line. Be sure to include your name, address and telephone number so we can contact you if we decide to publish your response. Please reply by Monday, May 2.

77 Comments

PZ Myers, on Pharyngula, Wrote:

Throughout the article, Eaton invents fantasy critics and supporters. For instance, he declares that “many scientists now question [blah blah blah…]” [then later…] … “Some evolutionists go too far when they insist that evolution should be taught completely without criticism.”

Actually, this is something I’ve learned here at PT. It’s easy to miss as just “background music” to their arguments, but this sort of “creationist scatter-shot”, the sweeping - false - generality, is the heart and soul of the strategy. Just throw out these nebulously targetted, unsourced, charges hoping for a sort of cumulative Big Picture to emerge in the mind of the uninformed undecided.

PZ hits exactly the right note:

What the heck does that mean? Name some.

…Again, name some. I don’t know any who think this.

Hold them to specifics. Demand names. Demand quotes - and their sources. The creationist troops will try to change the subject [don’t let them], or retreat in blithering disarray, hoping no one will notice.

If readers have the time and motivation, I suggest going through Eaton’s article, picking out all of the creationist scatter-shots, then writing the Star Tribune demanding specifics on each.

You just don’t get it, do you EA?

It’s not that evolution should be taught without criticism, it’s that evolution should be taught without RELIGIOUS criticism.

scientific criticism is more than welcome.

As many have said to you before, scientists love nothing more than to prove each other wrong. but we do it with solid evidence, not random hyperbole with no basis in fact.

If you don’t want science to pain you as a kook, come up with a competing theory that explains all the current and past evidence that shows that evolution has taken place, explains why the currently accepted theory is incorrect (and shows exactly how the evidence was somehow misintrepeted - like the entire fossil record, like all the field experiments showing natural selection acting on heritable characteristics, like all the lab experiments and field experiments showing speciation, etc, etc), then show how your new theory produces a better explanation for all of the data, and can be differentiated by the old by new, testable predictions.

If anyone who proposes ID is somehow a scientific critique of evolutionary theory could do that, scientists would be falling over themselves to test your new theory.

However, we don’t see this do we?

all we see are close minded, ignorant folks like yourself, absolutely convinced you see the “Truth”, but with absolutely no evidence to support your viewpoint. Moreover, you figure if you can change the politics of the situation by your constant whining, you can simply make reality go “poof” and change to fit your viewpoint.

Open your eyes. the world is a very interesting place if you should choose to do so.

this is as nice as i can be to a troll.

“1. To imply that a high school student who believe’s his existence was not entirely due to chance mutations and natural selection will be behind is ridiculous.”

no, actually it is not.

Look, if you want to be a mathematician, but avoid studying algebra because it somehow “disagrees” with your religious beliefs, you would be “behind” as a student of math, yes?

If you want to be a student of biology, the issue is NO different. Without understanding evolutionary theory, you will be far behind as a student of biology.

Just think for a moment, go ahead and substitute creationism for all of evolutionary theory, and then actually try to actually DO biology. You won’t be able to answer a whole lot of questions. Really, try it. Take any advanced (graduate level) text in biology, and substitute creationism where you see evoltionary theory being referenced, and see how far you get. You’ll find you are now left with about 10% (maybe less) of the text actually making any sense.

This would be a good experiment for you EA. Also, as you go through that text, you will find nothing that challenges the existence of “god”, or any new testament belief.

Er, that’s why the Catholic Church made the statement it did. Think you know more about religion than the Pope, eh?

It boils down to this, nobody is stopping you from believing what you want, but don’t expect to become a biologist and believe in creationism at the same time. Plenty of other fields that won’t conflict with your belief structure to get involved with and do well in.

The reDiscovery Institute - if a bad idea works in one branch of science why not in all?

you mean if a bad idea DOESN’T work in one branch, why not try them all?

lmao @ rDI… that has to be one of the most amusing things I’ve ever read.

Why hasn’t Apeman been banished to the bathroom wall yet?

EA-

Have you ever attended professional or graduate level biology (biochemistry) seminars? If you attend these regularly, you’ll find that a good grounding in evolution is essential to fully grasp many of the concepts. You’ll find neither a grasp of Intelligent Design, nor antipathy to macroevolution, useful aids to understanding.

Now, personally, I’ve concluded that the Apeman is just, well, aping creationists for fun. It’s a common pastime around here. But, for practice, one can still parse his comment as if he were serious.

(1) Continuous repetition of “Darwinian Fundamentalist”. Try and extract a definition of this. Presumably it’s the basis of the entire rest of his comment, but if there are any such persons as Darwinian Fundamentalists, they must exist in vanishingly small numbers, and exert vanishingly little influence. So, right off, we’re in Strawman territory.

(2) Characterization of “Sticker Controversy”. First of all, notice the Apeman is not responding to the post; he’s changing the subject! Then, if you look carefully, he doesn’t actually say anything about the Sticker Controversey with enough substance to actually have its merits weighed. It’s pure subject-change for the sake of subject-change. But he takes the opportunity to throw in a couple of those meaningless generalities: “Darwinists” (am I a “Darwinist”? Is Lynn Margulis? Was Steven Jay Gould? What’s it mean?) and their supposed “religion”.

(3) Apeman now manages to work in two creationist scatter-shots in one sentence. He accuses PZ Myers of being a “pathological liar” - with, of course, the obligatory lack of any substantiation whatsoever - and that Myers thinks evolution should not be criticized. Evidence? None, of course. But the underlying assumption is that, because criticism is supposed to be healthy and welcome, a particular line of criticism is necessarily valid. Want to criticize “Darwinism”? Great! Let’s talk about Gould and Margulis - not Sarfati and PT Barnum.

(4) That last paragraph is a lot like the final spectacular blowout on a July 4th fireworks show - creationist scatter-shots going off faster than you can keep track of them. But let’s try:

“if you had any integrity” note insinuating use of the conditional subjunctive

“you would allow science to be taught” Myers, and presumably a shadowy cabal of “Darwinist Fundamentalists”, evidently have the power to allow or disallow science to be taught!

“instead of your nihilistic athiest [sic] religion (Darwinism)” Wow. Apparently Darwinism, even though it’s not defined, manages to be a “religion”. (Are quantum mechanics and relativity also religions?) But it’s apparently a false religion, because it’s standing in the way of teaching true science. So, while True Science should not be confused with religion, it turns out that the Truth of Science is to be assessed by one particular religious faction.

You gotta hand it to him: Evolving Apeman - the M.C. Escher of creationist apers.

Russel Wrote:

Now, personally, I’ve concluded that the Apeman is just, well, aping creationists for fun. It’s a common pastime around here. But, for practice, one can still parse his comment as if he were serious.

Really? Well, I must not have noticed it, then. Honestly, it’s sometimes hard to tell creationists and those who’re only mocking them apart.

Paul wrote: “Microevolution is a fact; it happened and is happening. There is debate within the scientific community on details of mechanisms and relative importance of various processes. Macroevolution is also a fact. It happened and is happening. The scientific community is in virtually 100% agreement on both processes going on, and they are both analogous in the unanimity of support and the continuing research into their precise mechanisms. Macroevolution is not a concept that undermines evolutionary thinking.”

Yes, but what scientists fail to do is establish a nexus between these two phenomena and demonstrate that macroevolution is a sequelae of microevolution. Microevolution can be explained by mutation and natural selection or by other unguided processes but macroevolution, the emergence of highly organized systems and processes, cannot. It can only be explained by invoking intelligent input. In short, a lot of microevolution does not macroevolution make.

Now, personally, I’ve concluded that the Apeman is just, well, aping creationists for fun. It’s a common pastime around here. But, for practice, one can still parse his comment as if he were serious.

It’s hard to tell, isn’t it.

It amuses me that I have never seen any argument presented in jest that was *so* utterly stupid and idiotic that SOME creationut somewhere doesn’t present it in all absolute seriousness.

Just ask all the fools who STILL fall for the “Neandertal musical band” gag . … .

So my comments are being censored. A civil discourse is just not possible with Darwinian Fundamentalists. But your inability to reason fairly is a hallmark feature of your religion.

Toe Jam, I and others have done just fine in biology without resorting to Darwinian nihilism to explain our existence.

Profs, like PZ, harass students who are not athiests all the time. Every student knows that to get the A, you need to agree with the prof. Unless of course you “defend your views”, which is never possible with Darwinists. You are simply a heretic for questioning naturalism. Censorship and harassment are key techniques for the high priests of Darwinism to ensure their ranks are not polluted with skeptics. After all we need to be sure that we continue to proclaim “..we’ve embraced evolution more fully than before..”

An open-minded skeptic

Sir_Toejam Wrote:

scientific criticism is more than welcome.

ROFLMAO!!!!

Here’s a tip for browsing the Strib: If you don’t want to register, just turn off cookies for that site. You can read it all with no restrictions.

Apeman Wrote:

Profs, like PZ, harass students who are not athiests all the time. Every student knows that to get the A, you need to agree with the prof. Unless of course you “defend your views”, which is never possible with Darwinists.

This is nothing new, it’s been going on for a long time. In the late 60’s there were 2 Professors at Queens College in New York City, Wasserman and Hecht, who were the evolution gurus. I enrolled for their course because I needed 2 quick credits to graduate from NYU. I approached Wasserman one day and told him that I had some reservations about some of the things he was teaching as fact. (Remember, this was just after the 60’s when revolution was in the air). He asked me if I believed in evolution. When I told him I had some doubts, his advice was to drop the course because if I didn’t accept evolution I didn’t belong there and probably wouldn’t get the grade I needed. It was a little like the priest who I went to to express some doubts about catholicism. Something along the lines of “if you don’t believe, you’ll probably not get into heaven”

Les Lane Wrote:

If you attend these regularly, you’ll find that a good grounding in evolution is essential to fully grasp many of the concepts.

I would be interested in hearing about just one topic that is discussed in graduate level biochemistry seminars that requires a “good grounding in evolution.

I would be interested in hearing about just one topic that is discussed in graduate level biochemistry seminars that requires a “good grounding in evolution.

Protein structure. I can’t imagine a thorough discussion of the families of protein structure without some understanding of evolution.

What a curious and transparently false claim from our resident IDiots. The majority of my students are christians to some degree or another; do you seriously believe that only a minority of students pass my classes? The administrators at my university would be very disturbed if that were the case.

Russel,

Let me help you out. Scientists often use similar (homologous) proteins in animals or even bacteria as model for studying the form-to-function for humans, where it is less convenient. As a scientist, I see the importance of recognizing families of protein structure. Darwinists will say these families of protein structure cross-humans and bacteria due to evolution. Creationist say the creator used a common blueprint. Both our teleological and not science based. An honest scientists, will recognize the utility of the classification for understanding the function of proteins in different species. The why is largely irrelevent and untestable.

Guys, I think you misunderstand. Let’s read it again:

“I would be interested in hearing about just one topic that is discussed in graduate level biochemistry seminars that requires a “good grounding in evolution.”

I think he just means he would be interested in hearing about such a topic, because he hasn’t, because he has no advanced education in biology or biochemistry.

Just a guess.

;-)

He asked me if I believed in evolution. When I told him I had some doubts, his advice was to drop the course because if I didn’t accept evolution I didn’t belong there and probably wouldn’t get the grade I needed. It was a little like the priest who I went to to express some doubts about catholicism. Something along the lines of “if you don’t believe, you’ll probably not get into heaven”

Well, he couldn’t come right out and say, “You’ve got shit for brains, get away from me.”

Charlie,

You should look up the work of Randolph Nesse, especially his pieces on why physicians need to know evolution really well. I’m searching for a quick, on-line source (Nesse will e-mail them to you if you ask nicely; e-mail me if you can’t find his address at the University of Michigan), but in the meantime, look at this review of a book he co-wrote, by a fellow who teaches biology:

Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine

Nesse and Williams (1994) proposed a unique method to approach medicine – from the evolutionary biologist’s point of view – that will revolutionize the way diseases and other medical conditions are diagnosed and treated.

Traditionally, the medical community has not looked at the ultimate, or evolutionary, causes behind disease and medical conditions. Nesse and Williams detail the need for physicians to look at the role of natural selection when treating patients. For example, fever evolved to kill bacteria and viruses by disrupting the ideal conditions they thrive in; therefore, the current medical practice of prescribing antipyretics leads to an increase in recovery time. Why We Get Sick also asks and answers the questions behind maladaptive genes. Huntington’s chorea is an autosomal dominant disorder, which affects many individuals late in life. In theory, selection would have favoured the elimination of such genes unless they held an advantage. Recent studies have shown that women with Huntington’s produce a significantly higher number of offspring than those without the gene. Thus, evolutionary biologists are able to answer questions that have previously dumbfounded doctors.

Why We Get Sick has tremendous implications in the high school curriculum. Renowned biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky once wrote, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Interestingly, nothing in medicine makes sense except in the light of biology. By teaching young adults the importance of evolution in understanding a variety of medical diseases, we enable these individuals to look into different possibilities for disease prevention and treatment.

I highly recommend this book for any biologist, physician or layperson. It has provided me with insights into disease that I had not thought of before. I believe that if the evolutionary medicine paradigm is adopted, health care systems would save billions of dollars and countless lives.

http://educ.queensu.ca/~science/mai[…]/PDBRMK1.htm

Does that help? The example of why the Huntington’s chorea gene is actually selected for should tell you why understanding evolution is essential in understanding and controlling genetic “diseases.” Without evolution, what is the “intelligent design” answer to why we have Huntington’s? The designer doesn’t like us? The designer is incompetent?

But, Charlie, “gurus” in evolution are not priests. They are not there to hear your confession. They are not there to offer you a spiritual journey, except as their special insight into nature gives you as a by-product. (There are plenty of sometimes-unintended spiritual journeys in science – go read PZ’s posts on human bones a couple of weeks ago, at Pharyngula.com, for an outstanding example.) In an upper division science course, the material should come fast and furious. If you don’t get one of the basic, elemental chunks of knowledge that everyone who passes the course must have, you had no business there.

I was an assistant in a graduate level air pollution class once, taught by the fellow who headed the lab I was working in. One of the students knew me from political stuff, and he asked me about the political leanings of the prof. Air pollution is mostly chemistry, I told him, with a lot of meteorology in the spread of it, and a lot of biology on the receiving end (crops and trees act as sinks for pollutants, and our lab measured how and how much of the poisons various plants could soak up before they started to suffer themselves, among other things). This student had assumed an air pollution class in biology was like a political science class, and that somehow the prof would be a liberal tree-hugger. When I pointed out that the guy was instead a very conservative Republican, and that chemistry doesn’t have politics (I mean the chemistry itself, not the chemists), the guy changed his attitude to the course.

If one “doesn’t believe in” air pollution, one has no business taking a graduate level course in how to measure it and fight it. If one doesn’t “believe in” evolution, one has no business wasting time and money dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS in humans. You were honest, at least – which gives you a leg up on guys like Jonathan Wells, who fought against understanding the material, to avoid getting it, so as not to think about how it might rattle his theological cage.

That prof did you a favor, Charlie. Don’t confuse science with religion. Don’t confuse a professor with a confessor. Don’t take an upper division course without having understood the prerequisite material. There probably was another course you should have taken in basic evolution. I regret you did not find it. Perhaps you can find one at a school near you – are you close to BYU-Hawaii? I’ll bet they have some outsanding undergraduate courses in biology, and Hawaii is one of God’s great evolution sites. (At BYU-Hawaii you’ll be reminded that conservative people of faith who take nature straight, no chaser, study evolution, too.)

CW-

I would be interested in hearing about just one topic that is discussed in graduate level biochemistry seminars that requires a “good grounding in evolution

Last week I attended Direct Metabolic Sensing by Leader RNAs in Bacteria (Tina Henkin, Ohio State). The original RNA controlling element was identified by genetic techniques. Homologous sequences were recognized in databases and aligned by phylogenetic programs. Structural predictions and comparative alignments enabled identification of putative active sites which were confirmed by artificial constructions. Genes containing these elements are relatively common in Gram negative bacteria, but distributed somewhat erratically.

Have a look at Felsenstein’s Inferring Phylogenies. While it’s not necessary to be an expert on the book, one can expect to encounter at least a few of it’s principles in most modern biochemistry (molecular biology) lectures.

[An examination of the posting history of “Evolving Apeman” shows him to be in violation of Rule 6, having posted under another person’s name. “Evolving Apeman” is no longer accorded posting privileges here at PT. - WRE]

Charlie, and others, Here’s a link to Nesse’s 2003 piece on evolution in medicine: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~ness[…]2003(dot)pdf

Okay, that link doesn’t work. For some, no doubt interesting reason, the program won’t accept the URL.

Hmmm.

Try this. Type in: “http://www-personal.umich.edu/~ness[…]ticles/Nesse-“

Then, without spacing, add “Evol”

Then add (without spacing) “BiolMedCurric”

then add “-BioScience-2003”

and be sure to indicate it’s a portable document format, by adding at the end [dot]”pdf”

Ed Darrell Wrote:

Does that help? The example of why the Huntington’s chorea gene is actually selected for should tell you why understanding evolution is essential in understanding and controlling genetic “diseases.” Without evolution, what is the “intelligent design” answer to why we have Huntington’s? The designer doesn’t like us? The designer is incompetent?

Thanks for the heads up on Randolph Nesse. I’ll get those papers and read them. A few thoughts come to my mind, but perhaps I should wait til I read the papers. One thing that I should point out is that I have no problem with natural selection and if that’s what you mean by “evolution”, selection for beneficial alleles in certain environments or against harmful alleles in certain environments you will not get any argument from me. The intelligence comes in in the emergence of structures and processes that are highly organized and require insight for their assembly. In short, random processes are adequate to explain changes in allele frequencies under selection pressure but they are inadequate to explain the complex, highly organized systems.

But, Charlie, “gurus” in evolution are not priests.

Some times they act like priests, handing down the dogma, refusing to entertain criticism and banishing those who don’t accept their teachings. This is not science, this is ideology. A professor of evolution should be willing and able to listen to thoughtful criticisms of what he is teaching and offer scientific explanations and empirical data to back it up. That’s all I was asking for, and it’s the leastI should expect.

If one “doesn’t believe in” air pollution, one has no business taking a graduate level course in how to measure it and fight it. If one doesn’t “believe in” evolution, one has no business wasting time and money dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS in humans.

I don’t agree. Students should be able to challenge the conclusions reached by the experts. Take for example the oil well fires in Kuwait, set by Saddam. All of the computer models, advocated by experts and backed up by computer simulations pointed to an ecological disaster of biblical proportions. But they were all wrong. The effect was minimal and no long term damage occurred. Surely, at some point in time, some student had questioned those faulty models. We need this. It keeps the “experts” on their toes and acts as a self-check. Only when the experts refuse to accept criticism and spout their “truth” as dogma, are we in real trouble.

Don’t confuse science with religion.

I never have. In fact I’ve spent my whole life trying to keep religion out of my affairs and out of science. I have been a lifelong atheist and agnostic and I’ve always taken sides against religion when it tries to encroach on my liberties.

There probably was another course you should have taken in basic evolution. I regret you did not find it.

I had all the evolution I ever needed. Too much for my taste. I hold advanced degrees in biology and have over 60 credits of biology on the undergraduate level, two graduate degrees in science (biology and chemistry) and over 40 graduate level credits. I have a B.S. from NYU and an M.A. from Hofstra University. I have advanced graduate courses at NYU, Columbia and Queens College. I didn’t just arrive at the party. I’m 61 years old, in poor health and all I really want to do now is lie on the beach at Ka’anapali and watch the girls. In fact, my wife has threatened on more than one occasion that if she sees me with my laptop on the beach, she’s going to throw it in the ocean. I have good reason to believe that she will do just that. ;-)

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Our local Apeman posted a confusing piece.

He said, referring to Randolph Nesse’s work and to my post:

Of course, survival of the fittest. Abortion and the rest of eugenics are largely based on Darwinism.

“Survival of the fittest” was Herbert Spencer’s term, not Darwin’s. As Darwin struggled to make clear – unsuccessfully in the case of Evolving Apeman, it appears – the “struggle for survival” involves the search for food most often, and in almost no case means “stabbing somebody else in the back.” It’s the ability to get food for one’s self and the kids that makes an individual successful, not a soul-less and brainless brutality towards others. In fact, Darwin noted that altruism is a survival advantage among social species, such as humans.

So, “survival of the fittest” in humans would have nothing at all to do with either abortion or eugenics, which are post-insemination decisions made on other-than survival issues. Consider the modern dog breeder; often the selection criterion is “cute,” and nothing at all to do with “fitness for survival.” Maloccluded teeth in some miniature breeds is considered cute, but is a handicap by all other measures. Still, the dog breeders breed for those characteristics. Evolving Apeman appears to be unfamiliar with artificial selection as well as unfamiliar with natural selection.

Darwin argued that we cannot outguess nature on what might be a survival advantage in the future. Eugenics is based on a skewed understanding of selection, but not on Darwinism. Abortion, which predates Darwinian theory by at least 100,000 years, cannot accurately be ascribed to any basis in evolution. A review of Roe v. Wade reveals no such arguments made on either side.

Evolving Apeman’s arguments are in error.

EA said:

And he thinks Huntington’s Chorea provides a survival advantage because of a few more kids. What a load of BS. What survival advantage do children of a debilitated and dying parent have.

The disease does not strike until after the conclusion of childbearing in women, usually. The sole survival advantage is to the genes of the mother, who is more prolific than others who lack the Huntington’s disease gene. The “BS” is not on the part of the book reviewed, EA.

EA said:

On what basis do you conclude all illnesses with a genetic basis have a survival advantage.

I don’t, nor does the book. On what basis did you make that unwarranted conclusion? Certainly you didn’t make it on the basis of having read the book, nor on the basis of having read my post.

EA said:

Of course as I have said before anything to do with humans can be explained by evolution, which highlights how it is a religion to Darwinists. I suppose you could argue that being heterozygous for the hemoglobin S gene protects you from malaria despite the risk of Sickle Cell anemia for homozygotes. But examples like that are few and far between.

The three different mutations that produce sickle cell all die out quickly in populations that are not afflicted with malaria. Yes, those are classic cases of natural selection in action. Evolution explains the phenomena perfectly, while intelligent design offers no explanation at all.

My religion, by the way, is Christianity. I mention that only to note that your charge that scientists somehow worship something that involves Darwin is pure, unadulterated hooey – perhaps that is what made you realize there was “BS” about. Odors are non-specific to their victims.

EA said:

There is way too much emphasis on genetics in medicine these days. It is a fad as the clinical utility of gene chips, proteonomics I believe will be few and far between.

Can you cite any example of an “intelligent design” answer to any clinical question in medicine?

No, I didn’t think so. Until you can, then, please forgive the rest of the world if continue to seek treatments and cures for cancers, HIV, cystic fibrosis, and other diseases. Genetics has protected us nicely against an influenza pandemic for quite a while, and against dozens of other diseases. Applied evolution diagnosed and gave us treatments for diabetes. Forgive us if we, as people concerned with healing, ignore your rant.

I had written:

Without evolution, what is the “intelligent design” answer to why we have Huntington’s? The designer doesn’t like us? The designer is incompetent?

EA said:

Thus, evolutionary biologists are able to answer questions that have previously dumbfounded doctors.

Baloney, nothing more than atheist-teleology. Zippo diagnostic, management or treatment implications. Provide me with one reference how macro-evolution helped medicine, where ID would have interfered as an alternative explaination.

There are probably better examples, but the bovine and porcine insulin treatments for human diabetes provide two solid examples. I’m not sure how ID would have interfered, except that you certainly cannot cite any tenet from the non-existent science of ID which would have provided a quicker realization that cow insulin would work. ID offers nothing at all to the treatment of any disease.

EA said:

At least he’s starting to be honest here. The reason he believes in macroevolution is because chance-did-it supports his ideology of nihilism. Intelligent design unlike Darwinism doesn’t attempt to answer the why, but focuses on the how within the context of a broader metaphysical picture than pure naturalism.

You’re not the first to mistake Christianity and understanding of science for nihilism – but being later makes you no more correct, EA. Call Dr. Beckwith, see if he can explain to you what nihilism is. It isn’t science, it isn’t Christianity. Your argument is unjustified ad hominem, however, and false because of that.

CW-

Do you reject Motoo Kimura’s neutral evolution insights? Do you not agree that “relative rate tests” tell us something about process similarity? How do you regard Bonobo origins? Did they arise independently of Chimpanzees? Are they as likely to have evolved from Gorilla-like ancestors as from chimpanzee-like ancestors? When two of my student’s essays share 95% of the same words, need I consider them independent unless I actually saw them copying?

Of course all fish are sister species! But some (i.e. Comoran coelacanths and Indonesian coleacanths) share more recent common ancestors than others (i.e coelacanths and sharks).

CW:

“Rubbish.

I’m a teacher.”

I think you had a grammatical error there, your sentence should read:

I’m a rubbish teacher.

As far as i can tell, that is all you have been attempting to “teach” here.

The second quoted sentence above is false and you know it.

I believe it to be true. I welcome any evidence to the contrary.

Les Lane Wrote:

Do you reject Motoo Kimura’s neutral evolution insights?

Darwin’s great accomplishment, which I fully recognize and give credit for, was debunking the prevailing view that each species was separately created. On the other hand, he had nothing to replace it with that could be investigated by the scientific method and verified. Kimura likewise put an end to the notion that natural selection was the be-all and end-all of evolution. But like Darwin, his theory was even weaker and less convincing. The reasons for these problems is because both theories are based on random, chance occurrences, on unguided accidental and fortuitous events. Any theory that doesn’t consider intelligent input is doomed to the dustbin of history.

How do you regard Bonobo origins? Did they arise independently of Chimpanzees? Are they as likely to have evolved from Gorilla-like ancestors as from chimpanzee-like ancestors?

I don’t have a clue where Bonobos or chimpanzees (nasty little buggers!) or gorillas came from and neither does anyone else. I can only tell you that they are very closely related and probably had a common origin. I consider it significant that while they are so closely related, Bonobos and chimps have very different personalities. I always wondered why. Bonobos have more human social qualities are more loving and loyal and peaceful. Chimps are nasty, aggressive and violent. A male chimp will approach a female and if she refuses to submit to him, he’ll bash her baby’s brains out. Bonobos mate for life and have strong family loyalty. How do you explain that from an evolutionary perspective?

I’m not going to do your homework Charlie.

You’ve made so many false statements here that your credibility is ZILCHO.

Sorry to break that news to you, bro’. Think about that next time you decide to troll a blog.

The burden’s on you to provide evidence to support your claim that “All of the computer models, advocated by experts and backed up by computer simulations pointed to an ecological disaster of biblical proportions.”

Now, if you were clever you would dissemble based on the fact that an ecological disaster of “biblical proportions” is hopelessly vague and, in fact, might be construed to cover some relatively minor “disasters” (e.g., emergence of Brood X cicadas last summer might qualify).

Consider

In addition, Kuwait is still cleaning up its desert and shorelines, estimating it could cost $1 billion to do it right. And Iraq’s neighbors estimate that monitoring and assessing environmental damage has cost them $1 billion.

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3073272/

I’m guessing if as many barrels of black sludge were spilled in any sea during Moses’ alleged lifetime, we’d be reading about it in the Bible.

Anyway, Charlie: you lied. A grown man would just admit it and clarify his asinine statement. Even the most despicable politicians apologize for their gross mistatements when they are pointed out.

Are you not up to that level of decency, Charlie?

I don’t have a clue where Bonobos or chimpanzees… or gorillas came from and neither does anyone else.

I do. They came from a common ancestor native to Africa.

Any theory that doesn’t consider intelligent input is doomed to the dustbin of history.

And there we have the smoking gun … explicit acknowledgement that Charlie assumes his conclusion.

CW-

I’m beginning to get a feel for where you’re at (not that I agree with you). I’m not going to let you off the hook with Kimura (who’s one of my intellectual heroes). Kimura was largely disbelieved early in his career. Because Kimura’s ideas are simpler (and more limited) than Darwin’s they can be more easily tested. No scientist I know considers Kimura’s ideas “weaker and less convincing.” Random mutagenesis exhibits “clock like” behavior, much like radioactive decay. Unlike radioactive decay it consists of several chemically independent processes. Despite the complexity, the number of neutral mutations per unit length of DNA is a clock. It varies somewhat in rate, but “relative rate tests” show it to be useful. In a given lineage it’s certainly good enough to distinguish older from younger. “Relative ages” obtained from a given gene sequence predict relative ages of other genes in the same set of organisms. The clock has been tested with laboratory organisms and behaves similarly to the natural clock. Laboratory tests of necessity cover short time periods (with few accummulated mutations).

We discussed fathers and grandfathers earlier. Your DNA sequence as a fixed time point is sufficient to establish a vector which would distinguish which DNA sequence was your father’s and which was your grandfather’s. However simplistic, this is phylogeny.

Probability and statistics are crucial to undertanding evolution. Processes are not deterministic in the same way they are in classical physics. If you’re convinced that Felsenstein is wrong, I believe it’s your solemn reponsibility to convince him (or have him convince you).

Re: Charlie

Why the heck is anyone paying any attention at all to this nut case . . ?

I’m waiting for him to explain why he believes the medical community is lying to us about cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart disease. I asked him to a while ago in comment 26592. I believe it will be funnier than his crank biology.

Flank

Why the heck is anyone paying any attention at all to this nut case . . ?

Target practice?

The same Sunday that PZ’s piece appeared in the Star Tribune, the Southwest Daily Times of Liberal, Kansas, featured a wonderful essay by a retired (39 years teaching in Liberal) biology teacher, Vernon L. Gilliland “The creationist who does not believe in creation and the evolutionist who does”. Gilliland delivers it with a marvelous down home style exemplified by the following:

“Some say that evolution (natural selection and its various attributes) does not include God and therefore must be anti-God. Of course, scientific evolution does not include God it cannot. Evolution is a branch of science and God is beyond the reach and measurements of science. Science is man’s methods of measuring what is created (the physical world) and cannot measure the creator who is not created. God is beyond measurement because all man’s means of measurement are part of the physical world. To measure God, man would also have to be God.

“What is the creation? We refer to it as mass (matter), energy, space and time. All these things can be measured by the rules and laws of the physical world because they are defined by the laws and rules. Now, if God existed before the physical world and is separate from the physical world, then God cannot be measured by these laws and rules and therefore cannot be measured by science. In other words, there is no scientific way to either directly prove or disprove God. I can measure a gram of water or wavelengths of light. Try to measure an ounce of God or light up a flashlight with the energy of a soul. But is God still there? My faith says, ‘Yes.’ My proof is written only inside.”

And he goes on in a similar vein, showing sympathy but no cigar for the promoters of ID and creationism. It’s a good piece and well worth reading, and illustrates that even in remote places (Liberal, south of Garden City and southwest of Dodge City, right next the Oklahoma Panhandle, is even more remote than Morris IMHO) one finds well-educated sane folks who speak the local language.

Vernon L. Gilliland is awesome. Buy that guy some barbecue and an ice cold beer.

Les Lane Wrote:

I’m not going to let you off the hook with Kimura (who’s one of my intellectual heroes).

Speaking of heroes, the Post Office is issuing a 4 stamp pane with two of my heroes, Barbara McClintock and Richard Feynman. Also included will be Gibbs and von Neumann. Anyway, wrt Kimura, I certainly don’t want to disrespect someone you admire but the high hopes for a reliable molecular clock envisioned after it was first suggested in 1965 by Zuckerkandel and Pauling have fallen short of their expectations. As early as 1986, it was realized that the rates of molecular evolution are not stochastically constant and do not behave like a stochastic clock. Evolutionary rates vary too much to be supportive of neutral theory. Of course, modifications have been proposed to account for the overdispersion of the clock taking into consideration generation-time, population size, slightly deleterious mutations, repair mechanisms, and the like. But if you look at the GPDH and SOD clocks, none of these modifications can account for the dissimilar patterns in these proteins. GPDH changes very slowly in Drosophila but much faster in other forms while SOD changes fast in Drosophila and much more slowly in plants and fungi. And when there are fossils available to compare with, molecular clocks invariable overestimate the age of the forms.

Charlie, plase tell us why you believe the medical community is lying to us about cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart disease.

CW-

You’re too literal here. Lack of constancy doesn’t mean “wrong”. Clocks don’t have to run at constant speed to be useful (it’s nice if they do). Clearly neutral means “roughly neutral”. The “clock” is useful only when the bulk of mutations are “neutral”. For organisms evolved over the last 20 million years the clock is useful for restricted lineages (especially mammals). Obviously one can’t use it for lineages that encompass more than one kingdom.

Kimura’s critical insight is that nonselected mutations become fixed (in fact at a higher rate than selected mutations). Variations in DNA synthesis and repair may alter clock rates but, at least over short time periods, selection will not. It’s fixation of random “neutral” mutations which makes molecular phylogenetics “accurate” (and why it’s less accurate with ancient lineages).

The fossil record is incomplete. One would expect it’s agreement with “clocks” to be limited. Again, limited precision doesn’t mean “false”

And when there are fossils available to compare with, molecular clocks invariable overestimate the age of the forms. Well, considering that most evolutionary biologists are probably somewhat surprised at how slow evolution has “progressed” (i.e. in regards to amount of change), it is quite probable that the current amount of diversification (phylogenetics!) could easily have arisen in a substanially less amount of time than is currently accepted.

Of course, this is not even considering the fact that large bottlenecks have occurred on this planet, most of the time from natural disaster. Don’t you consider the vast array of extant mammals is (at least) somewhat of an explosion - maybe even on the order of the so-called “Cambrian Explosion” [sic] - especially considering that it all began with a few little furry creatures?

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on April 24, 2005 10:35 AM.

Dr. Eugenie Scott on “Hardball” was the previous entry in this blog.

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