Behe v Sean Carroll

| 88 Comments

David Lampe, Associate Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at the Duquesne University, provides some interesting data: A comparison between Michael Behe and Sean Carroll.

Certain people seem attracted to “intelligent design” creationism because some (actually, very few) people with real Ph.D.’s advocate it. One of these is Michael Behe, a biochemist from Lehigh University. I have heard him described as “a scientist of the first rank.” People can argue over “rankings” but there exist some objective measures as to how influential a scientist is and how good their ideas actually are. These measurements are generally of two kinds:

  • Number and kind of publications of the scientist;
  • Citations of these works (which show that the scientist’s ideas are being used to do productive work).

An interesting exercise which shows how ID can quickly become a ‘science killer’.

88 Comments

Here is what Dr. Behe has published since 1996 (to 9/30/2005)

Hmm two more years to analyze…

This should be a warning to the younger folks interested in creationism and its many variants. This is what will happen to your career if you pursue it. No evolutionary biologist or science supporter will hunt you down and get you fired in some fantastic scandal - your scientific work will whither away to nothing of your own accord.

What could Behe have discovered if he continued to do science for the last 11 years? What patents could his name be on, what “molecular machine”’s evolutionary history could his work have helped to unravel? (The same goes for two other scientists, Hugh Ross and Fazale Rana) Instead, we see a long list of authorship, but not in the scientific literature. No laboratory research conducted, no results to report, and no one is citing or using your work to make future discoveries. Grants pass you by, the only honors are the honorariums paid to you by church groups for flying out to reassure them that your super-secret research in your lab website proves their predispositions correct. “Buy my book” becomes your mortgage-paying mantra, and “piddling” becomes what you say of accomplished scientists around you, when “piddling” is exactly what you’re doing.

Creationists have careers only a few times as long as a pornstar - 20 years later and the arguments you made will be swiped by a younger model and you’ll be forgotten by your followers. Where are the creationists of the 1980s today? Where will you be in 20 years, grabbing for attention from some forgotten assistant teaching position while classmates of yours from long ago are running whole labs and research centers and solving difficult problems that you can only caricature in an endlessly revisited lecture that you wrote long ago on a few unfounded ideas and can’t seem to get over a squabble with Dr. Doolittle and others?

All on your own. No, actually, with droves of fickle, yet adoring fans supporting your every word, you won’t be able to produce anything with all that support. Millions of dollars at a think tank can’t even fill a single test tube of yours with a single meaningful experiment. You might even stop fooling yourself, but you’ll be stuck in an ever-downward spiral, where deviation will alienate the only base left to you, who would drop you like a hotcake if you broke from the ranks.

Just Say No to Pseudoscience. DARE to keep kids off of Creationism.

This is your Science on Creationism. (egg frying)

Hey, this article could really use a graph to illustrate how sharply the scientific output and citations drop off once you get into this stuff. I’ve corresponded with one person who seems very interested in it all, yet at a critical point where they could turn around and do actual science.

Evolution is fact————because I said it is and we all voted on it and majority wins! So there you dumb creationists. BIG BROTHER! BIG BROTHER1

Les, do you have any opinion on what David Lampe’s analysis says about Behe’s scientific output? Do you agree that his few research publications and their low number of citations identifies Behe as a mediocre scientist at best?

Help! Help! I’m being repressed!

we all voted on it and majority wins

There’s no vote. Theory and evidence win. Creationism has neither. Unless you can point to some? We’re all ears, ignorant drive-by troll.

Thanks, PvM, for linking to Dr Lampe’s interesting article. I was actually most impressed by Dr Carroll’s publication record. 9 Nature papers in 10 years is superb. I’m not sure that I would rank PNAS up there with Nature and Science, though, but it is still a widely-recognised science journal.

It is most curious that Behe lists letters to magazines and newspapers in his publication record. It is certainly unusual for a scientist to do this.

Oh, hey, hang on a second: I’ve twice had letters published in New Scientist, and my publications list could do with fattening up…

Where are the creationists of the 1980s today?

in jail, last i looked.

at least Hovind is, anyway.

Les:

Click here and take the challenge. Let’s see what you can actually come up with.

As an aside, regarding the question of what rank Behe is: he’s a Rank Bajin…

for explanation, turn to

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bud_Neill

Maybe I should get onto a campus again and analyze my undergraduate papers from that same time period. I think I might have a chance at beating Behe. And I never earned my PhD.

Its not ID/creationism that blights a career - its being a bad scientist. If Behe et al. actually did some ID research everyone would be a lot more tolerant.

When reading a paper it’s nice to see a citation even if the authors disagree with you. At least it means your work is being read and considered as important in the field.

Citations are probably a better guide than publications since some authors publish the same (or virtually the same) work in several different journals. Its quite amusing when you get both papers to referee. Its makes it much easier to reject one of them (which is normally the option of last resort unless the work is truly dire).

Actually, millipj, yes, ID/Creationism is guaranteed to blight a scientific career, as ID/Creationism forcibly encourages the person to become a lousy scientist, if at all. As a ID proponent/Creationist, you’re not allowed to contradict the party dogma under pain of hellfire (yes, hellfire), which helps to nurture a complete and total lack of motivation to do any sort of science beyond the cultivation of really stupid and illogical talking points that allegedly poke holes in “rival” sciences. Plus, that ID/Creationism forces one to wed illogic and self-imposed ignorance foments extraordinarily hostile relationships between the ID proponent/Creationist and other actual scientists.

That ID proponents/Creationists suffer a total inability to comprehend the Scientific Method simply adds salt to everybody’s wounds, too.

millipj wrote, “Its not ID/creationism that blights a career - its being a bad scientist.”

No, it’s ID/creationism that creates bad scientists and blighted careers. Once you decide what the results of an experiment MUST be, rather than accepting what they are, you’re dead as a scientist.

No wonder the IDers, in what little research they do, prefer to play with models on computers, where they can change the assumptions until the results come out the way they want them to. Living creatures, even bacteria, aren’t that malleable.

Hey, I’ve published 3 peer-reviewed papers in the past five years, and I work at a liberal arts college, not a research institution. I guess that makes me three times the scientist that Behe is, not that he’s set a very high standard.

One thing about the Lampe article, though. Sean Carroll works at the University of Wisconsin, which is a leading research institution. (Full disclosure: I did a post-doc in chemistry at Wisconsin) Lehigh isn’t. Behe doesn’t measure up to Carroll, but then even real scientists at Lehigh don’t. In fact, if someone at a place like Lehigh were to show the ability of a Sean Carroll, a place like Wisconsin would quickly woo them away.

I’m with millipj here. Steve Austin, for example, is a creationist geologist who continues to produce valid science. He’s not considered first rank, but his output hasn’t dried up either. And others have also successfully adopted this career model, of doing real science while spouting creationism. We should not underestimate the ability of the human mind to compartmentalize.

My reading is, the compartmentalized model that works resembles theistic science - that we won’t understand exactly how to misrepresent reality if we don’t know exactly that that reality is.

Conversely, structuring research and experimental design, deliberately or otherwise, to support foregone conclusions has a very long history in traditional science. I think all of us enter any sort of investigation with some expectation of what we’ll find, and that this colors our interpretations every step of the way. Some of us are better at neutralizing this than others, and some creationists can neutralize it as well.

Creationism doesn’t necessarily force someone to do bad research. But it probably does force them to misinterpret their results.

Equally relevant is the case of Guillermo Gonzalez, formerly of ISU. Like Behe, Gonzalez was a promising young scientist when he arrived at ISU. However, the quality and quantity of his output deteriorated markedly during his tenure there. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for ISU, unlike Behe, Gonzalez turned into an ID whackjob before he got tenure.

Flint, is that the same Steve Austin who tried to prove that the world was less than 10,000 years old, and invalidate radiometric dating by deliberately dating the wrong kinds of rock with the wrong kinds of dating methods? I honestly doubt that religiously inspired fraud can be considered “valid science.”

http://wiki.cotch.net/index.php/Iso[…]essively_old

http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2[…]_for_chr.php

The bold comments are mine, added parenthetically.

On page 162 we find this:

“Some babies die very soon after birth as a result of genetic disorders. It appears that God designed into the genetic mechanism of humans (and most organisms) a genetic screen that eliminates many greatly deformed individuals, preventing major genetic disorders from continuing.”

This genetic screen doesn’t exist. Babies with genetic defects die because the defect doesn’t work well enough to sustain life. It is simple ad hoc biology.

The authors do not explain why God sometimes does this near birth, and at other times (as in cystic fibrosis) over a period of many painful years.

On page 201, “Thought Question” 3 reads:

Compile a list of modern beliefs, practices, or activities that reflect the philosophy of evolution rather than a biblical philosophy. The answer is found in the Teacher’s Edition:

“(1) Communism denies the existence of God. (2) Advances in technology will solve all of man’s physical and social problems. (3) The ecumenical movement endorses humanism as the world religion. (4) Environmental control is overemphasized, and man’s God-given command to exercise dominion is deemphasized.”

All False. Lies. Evolution is a scientific theory about life changing through time. Soviet communism was hostile to Darwinian Evolution to the point that it could and did get scientists killed. It has nothing to do with points 2-4.

Behe’s scientific output might have declined but he has a new schtick as a highly dishonest shill for the creos. The above quotes are from the SatanBob Jones U. “Xian” textbook that is part of the California textbook case, from the Dunford blog link.

Behe is getting paid $20,000 to defend stuff like the above material. In a gruesome textbook meant for child abusechildren’s science classes.

We have only one data point here. But it looks like with the creo mentality, his ability to see reality has deteriorated as well. Either that or he needs a quick 20 grand.

PS. This is an open forum. He is free to show up and defend his scientific output or the BJU textbook he approves of. It would be interesting, but somehow I’m not expecting him soon.

Sean Carroll is quite prolific, and he’s got a tremendous breadth of knowledge. He publishes both on evo-devo and cosmology.

It was nice to read this post today, since I just posted something on my own blog about the notion (which young earth creationists and proponents of ID have to maintain) that there is a conspiracy against ideas that seem consonant with religion. Fred Hoyle and the Big Bang theory shows that there is no atheist conspiracy - just your average, run of the mill scientific concern that one be able to provide evidence for one’s claims.

http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.[…]spiracy.html

I’ve got more SCI cites than Behe, and I’m a nobody!

I hope the lawyers don’t use this against Beheeee in an attempt to discredit him as an ‘expert’ witness. What reputation does he have any more? It’s got to be worth 20K for another performance on the stand just like we got in Dover.

Note that there are two Sean Carrolls: Sean M. Carroll the physicist is at CalTech. Sean B. Carroll the evolutionary developmental biologist is at Univ. Wisconsin.

What valid science does Austin produce? Not that much. A quick search reveals a meeting abstract on uniformitarianism (probably shortly after his PhD and then his PhD and then his 2000 effort in International Geology Review (on a historic earthquake that he links with various theological issues*). Not much else.

Anyway, that aside, I remember thinking that Behe’s response to Carrol was quite interesting. I didn’t have time to go into great depth at this time, but I recall wondering if maybe Behe had a point when he said:

In his enthusiasm Carroll seems not to have noticed that, as I discuss at great length in my book, no protein binding sites — neither short linear peptide motifs nor any other — developed in a hundred billion billion (1020) malarial cells. Or in HIV. Or E. coli. Or in human defenses against malaria, save that of sickle hemoglobin. Like Coyne, Carroll simply overlooks observational evidence that goes against Darwinian views. In fact, Carroll seems unable to separate Darwinian theory from data. He writes that “what [Behe] alleges to be beyond the limits of Darwinian evolution falls well within its demonstrated [my emphasis] powers”, and “Indeed, it has been demonstrated [my emphasis] that new protein interactions (10) and protein networks (11) can evolve fairly rapidly and are thus well within the limits of evolution.” Yet if one looks up the papers he cites, one finds no “demonstration” at all. Those papers show, respectively, that: A) different species have different protein binding sites (but, although the authors assume Darwinian processes, they demonstrate nothing about how the sites arose); or B) different species have different protein networks (but, again, the authors demonstrate nothing about how the networks arose). Like Jerry Coyne, Sean Carroll simply begs the question. Like Coyne, Carroll assumes whatever exists in biology arose by Darwinian processes. Apparently Darwinism has eroded Coyne’s and Carroll’s ability to separate data from theory.

I’m not particularly expert in these matters and I only looked up references 10 and 11 briefly, but I do remember thinking that maybe Behe had a point. I’d certainly be interested in seeing Carroll’s response. The relevant papers are here if anyone is interested (at least one will be free access):

http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/102/39/13933

http://compbiol.plosjournals.org/pe[…]pcbi.0030025

* from the paper:

This severe geologic disaster has been linked historically to a speech delivered at the city of Bethel by a shepherd-farmer named Amos of Tekoa. Amos’s earthquake was synchronous with the introduction of “seismic theophany” imagery into Hebrew literature, with the appearance of the “Day of the Lord” eschatological motif, and with the explosive emergence of “writing prophets” in Israel.

This genetic screen doesn’t exist. Babies with genetic defects die because the defect doesn’t work well enough to sustain life. It is simple ad hoc biology.

You may be right but it’s ironic that you disagree with the way that they include theological claims in their textbook when writing on a blog named after a theological argument.

All False. Lies. Evolution is a scientific theory about life changing through time.

Wrong. If evolution explains the complexity of higher life forms then it is generally a theory about progression. It seems that progressives and socialists need a creation myth of progress which Darwinism fits.

Also, as the philosopher David Stove notes:

What deserves to be well known, but has in fact been virtually forgotten, is this: that if Darwinism once furnished a justification, retrospective or prospective, for the crimes of capitalists or National Socialists, it performed the same office to an even greater extent, between about 1880 and 1920, for the crimes, already committed or still to be committed, of Marxists. It is in fact scarcely possible to exaggerate the extent to which Marxist thought in the period incorporated Darwinism as an essential component. Marxists do not believe, of course, that there will be any struggle for life among human beings in the future classless society. But it was that Darwinian conception which Marxists at this time adopted as their description of human life under capitalism. The reader can easily verify this statement, by opening any Marxist book, pamphlet, or newspaper of that period… (Darwinian Fairytales by David Stove: 106-107)

I would note that one shouldn’t be surprised that Marxists would include Darwinism in their economic theories given that that the notion of a Darwinian struggle seems to have more to do with Victorian era economics than the empirical facts of biology.

Stove also notes:

It will perhaps be said, in defense of Darwinism, that many and enormous crimes have been committed in the name of every large and influential body of ideas bearing on human life. Whether that is true or not, I do not know. But even if it is, there are great and obvious differences, among such bodies of ideas, in how easily and naturally they amount to incitement to the commission of crimes. Confucianism, for example, or Buddhism does not appear to incite their adherents to crime easily or often. National Socialism, by contrast, and likewise Marxism, do easily and naturally hold out such incitements to their adherents… It is impossible to deny that, in this respect, Darwinism has a closer affinity to National Socialism or Marxism than with Confucianism or Buddhism. Darwin told the world that a “struggle for life,” a “struggle for existence,” a “battle for life” is always going on among the members of every species. Although this proposition was at the time novel and surprising, an immense number of people accepted it. Now, will any rational person believe that accepting this proposition would have no effect, or only randomly varying effects, on people’s attitudes towards their own conspecifics? No. Will any rational person believe that accepting this novel proposition would tend to improve people’s attitudes towards their conspecifics–for example, would tend to make them less selfish, or less inclined to domineering behavior, than they had been before they accepted it? No. (Darwinian Fairytales by David Stove :108-109)

It’s ironic that progressives often act as if their creation myth is tied to progress, civilization and technology as we know it simply because the myth they imagine about the past includes progression. Therefore if their creation myth is attacked then progress will come to a halt and so on and one finds arguments of this structure: “You criticize the stories of progress that I imagine about the past but you like modern medicine!” Etc. It seems that imaginary/hypothetical progress comes to be treated as the equivalent of actual/empirical progress once a mind takes the Darwinian step of citing its imagination as the equivalent of empirical evidence.

peoplesfrontofjudea Wrote:

Help! Help! I’m being repressed!

No fair mixing two different Python movies!

Cool, as I already have more peer-reviewer articles as Behe, and he is a associate (?) professor, I should be able to get an assistant professorship soon!

bjm:

I hope the lawyers don’t use this against Beheeee in an attempt to discredit him as an ‘expert’ witness. What reputation does he have any more? It’s got to be worth 20K for another performance on the stand just like we got in Dover.

“Beheeee”?? Pretty tacky insult, you who go by the name of Bowel J. Movement …

Scott

If Beheeee wants to be taken seriously he knows what he needs to do but for 20K he seems to have taken a page out of Dumbski’s book and sold his soul (and his credibility). I wish him well.

mynym:

mynym Wrote:

sitting on a false paradigm.

Except that the quoted passage is relating a period of history where several non-standard cosmologies were proposed. The old hypothesis fell when Hubble’s observations became accepted.

Note also that the steady state universe was only an hypothesis, never tested, further detracting from descriptions of earlier “paradigms”.

mynym Wrote:

if scientists were given the anthropic principle and other lines of evidence

The main working hypothesis of physicists have been that the fundamental theory may be unique. Then the anthropic principle has no relevance.

Currently multiverses are natural consequences from two major independent theories, eternal inflation and string theory. Multiverses naturally explains finetunings, but the hope of a unique theory remains.

mynym Wrote:

You act as if all progress is the result of science, yet ironically “mainstream science” has often stymied the progress of engineers, inventors, etc. Examples which could be cited: the Wright Brothers, Edison and more.

False, harold didn’t act so at all. What he described is consistent with what we observe, that science and technology are codependent.

Please explain how Wrights and Edison was stymied instead of supported by the science they used. Wright’s famously understanding the aerodynamic need for three axis stabilization, for example. I’m rejecting your reference unseen, because Richard Milton is a multidenialist engineer, who denies evolution, radiometric dating, and geology.

Ah, Richard Milton! I remember listening to 20 of my brain cells die while reading his supremely moronic book.

I should probably add that I reject the reference for the purpose of this discussion as neutral sources should be readily available.

mynym Wrote:

… Darwinian theory is rooted in a metaphoric Tree of Life that generally progresses from simple to complex, that is its interpretive scheme. Your ignorance isn’t necessarily my responsibility…

Ahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Nice one, mynym!

In just two sentences you display your ignorance for all to see, and accuse one of your critics of ignorance.

You quite obviously have not taken the time to understand evolutionary theory, and instead you appear to be regurgitating a line that has been firmly refuted. Several times over.

You are fooling yourself if you think you know what claims evolutionary theory makes. I suggest you go and learn some actual biology. From a textbook that has been written by actual scientists, i.e. people who know what they’re talking about. Then go and read The Origin of Species. Only after you’ve done that should you come back here to participate in the discussions.

I just have one question for you to ponder: if evolutionary theory has a “scheme” that life proceeds from simple to complex, how come there are still simple organisms?*

* And, no, I won’t make the obvious parody, i.e. who else would believe biblical literalism, because that’s a cheap shot and too easy.**

** Oops. Looks like I did anyway.

mynym (short for “minimum mental effort?”) blithered thusly:

I suspect that you’re too stupid to understand half of what I write obviously that’s just your Mommy Nature at work selecting the excretions of your brain as your limited intellect struggles to think that it has to do with something more than your own excrement.

I’ve read more sensible ramblings on Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Soap (a.k.a. “God Soap”) labels. (And the product actually serves a purpose!)

This paragraph, and his utterly incoherent “response” to my last post, prove beyond a shadow of doubt that he is simply unable to participate in any form of adult debate, and has no intellectual substance to bring to the grownups’ table. His talking-points have been debunked long ago, and even many cdesign proponentsists have abandoned them. Arguing with such an immature (and possibly insane) Fafarmanesque troll is a wate of time. He’s clearly not engaging with us, so why should we engage with him?

As I tried to say earlier:

SteveF:

Yet if one looks up the papers he cites, one finds no demonstrationà at all. Those papers show, respectively, that: A) different species have different protein binding sites (but, although the authors assume Darwinian processes, they demonstrate nothing about how the sites arose); or B) different species have different protein networks (but, again, the authors demonstrate nothing about how the networks arose). Like Jerry Coyne, Sean Carroll simply begs the question. Like Coyne, Carroll assumes whatever exists in biology arose by Darwinian processes. Apparently Darwinism has eroded Coyne’s and Carroll’s ability to separate data from theory.

I’m not particularly expert in these matters and I only looked up references 10 and 11 briefly, but I do remember thinking that maybe Behe had a point. I’d certainly be interested in seeing Carroll’s response. The relevant papers are here if anyone is interested (at least one will be free access):

SteveF, just how would one demonstrate that an event (e.g. well-known biological occurence such as point mutation, recombination, gene duplication, transposition, etc) happened through natural “Darwinian” processes rather than through demonic (or other supernatural) intervention? Even supposing the experiments were carried out in a laboratory, rather than by identifying subjects in field studies? Should one run a control experiment in a demon-proof cage? How would one construct such a thing? Is this a reasonable demand by Behe?

Shouldn’t it be enough to establish that such events could plausibly happen through well-known natural processes? Since, after all, Behe’s claim is that such a natural pathway to the result is impossible?

Wamba

SteveF, just how would one demonstrate that an event (e.g. well-known biological occurence such as point mutation, recombination, gene duplication, transposition, etc) happened through natural Darwinian processes rather than through demonic (or other supernatural) intervention? Even supposing the experiments were carried out in a laboratory, rather than by identifying subjects in field studies? Should one run a control experiment in a demon-proof cage? How would one construct such a thing? Is this a reasonable demand by Behe?

Shouldn’t it be enough to establish that such events could plausibly happen through well-known natural processes? Since, after all, Behe’s claim is that such a natural pathway to the result is impossible?

In general terms I agree with the thrust of your argument. It’s not reasonable for Behe to demand that every single step in a pathway be provided or direct evidence for precisely which pathway was taken.

However, this is a seperate issue. What interests me here is that Carroll puts forward references to support his claim that new protein interactions and networks can evolve pretty easily (I provide links to the relevant articles). Behe disputes that these papers provide such evidence, not simply handwaving them away as showing insufficient detail (his usual trick), but by arguing that they simply do not support Carroll’s case (i.e. no evidence to show how networks or sites evolved). I was wondering what others, more knowledgeable than I, though about this. As I mentioned, from my scan of them a couple of months back, I thought that Behe may have had a point.

Hitler claimed over and over to be a devout Catholic.

Of course, he had to claim to be Catholic publicly in order to overcome Catholic resistance to his form of biologism. E.g.

The most ringing Catholic protest against “euthanasia” was the famous sermon of Clemens Count von Galen, then bishop of Munster. It was given on 3 August 1941,just four Sundays after the highly significant pastoral letter of German bishops had been read from every Catholic pulpit in the country; the letter reaffirmed “obligations of conscience” at opposing the taking of “innocent” life, “even if it were to cost us our lives.” The first part of Galen’s sermon explored the Biblical theme of how “Jesus, the Son of God, wept,” how even God wept “be cause of stupidity, injustice … and because of the disaster which came about as a result.” Then, after declaring, “It is a terrible, unjust and catastrophic thing when man opposes his will to the will of God,” Galen quoted the pastoral letter of 6 July and made clear that the “catastrophic thing” he had in mind was the killing of innocent mental patients and “a doctrine which authorizes the violent death of invalids and elderly people.” He further declared that he himself had “filed formal charges” with police and legal authorities in Munster over deportations from a nearby institution. He went on in words that every farmer and laborer could understand: “It is said of these patients: They are like an old machine which no longer runs, like an old horse which is hopelessly paralyzed, like a cow which no longer gives milk. What do we do with a machine of this kind? We put it in the junkyard. What do we do with a paralyzed horse? No, I do not wish to push the comparison to the end. … We are not talking here about a machine, a horse, nor a cow.… No, we are talking about men and women, our compatriots, our brothers and sisters. Poor unproductive people if you wish, but does this mean that they have lost their right to live?” And after a couple of poignant examples of specific people killed, the bishop concluded, as he had begun, with Biblical imagery, this time not of Jesus weeping but of “divine justice”—ultimate punishment—for those “making a blasphemy of our faith” by persecuting clergy and “sending innocent people to their death.” He asked that such people (who could only be the Nazi authorities) be ostracized and left to their divine retribution… Galen’s sermon probably had a greater impact than any other one statement in consolidating anti-”euthanasia” sentiment; hence, Bormann’s judgment that the bishop deserved the death penalty.

(The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide By Robert Lifton :93-94)

The truth is what it is. I could post a dozen quotes by him saying that…

And given your level of intelligence I suppose you’ll believe that any anti-Christ type figure that emerges in the future is actually a good Christian just like he says.

And why did Hitler often invoke Xianity? Because his audience was receptive and shared his views.

Because even given the moral degeneracy of the Weimar Republic his general audience still wasn’t as morally degenerate as the biologists, doctors and other elites who believed in the scientism of their day.

Hitler couldn’t have done his crimes alone. He had lots of help. All Xians obviously…

That’s incorrect. Many no longer bothered with a veneer of Christianity:

It is hard to explain what the neopagans.…believe. They do not know themselves. Their movement is a part of the new nationalism and of a peculiar National Socialist mysticism. It has no articles of faith and it parades its lack of dogma. All of the various types of neopagans are agreed only in one thing-their rejection of Christianity…(The Nordic Pagan Chant Grows Louder by Albion Rossberlin The New York Times, Aug 4, 1935; pg. 3-4) (Emphasis added)

As “fundamentalist” or evangelical Christians who believed in involving themselves in politics said:

“The political problem of our day” is the problem of National Socialism. Its “double character as a political experiment and as a religious institution of salvation shuts out any possibility of dealing with the question it puts ‘only’ as a political question and not, indirectly and directly, as a question of faith as well. Consequently, in no event can the church adopt a neutral attitude to the political problem of today.” National Socialism cannot be understood unless it is seen “as a new Islam, its myth as a new Allah, and Hitler as this new Allah’s prophet.” It is a church, although a very secular one, of which to be a member means to affirm its principles “in the form of faith, of mysticism and fanaticism.” If it exhibits, therefore, “all the characteristics of an ‘anti- church’ fundamentally hostile to Christianity,” then it must become evident, by the way in which the church of Jesus Christ confesses its faith, that the Christian rule of faith and life and the National Socialist rule of faith and life are mutually exclusive. No peace is possible between confessing to Jesus Christ and accepting the sovereignty of National Socialism. It follows, then, that “the church may and should pray for the suppression and casting out of National Socialism, just in the same sense as in former times and when confronted by a similar danger she prayed for the ‘destruction of the bulwarks of the false prophet Mohammed.’” This argument formed the basic content of a lecture by Barth before a meeting of the Swiss Evangelical Organization of Help for the Confessional Church in Germany on December 5, 1938. It was therefore presented in support of the Confessional churches of Germany, whose fight for the independence of the church from Nazi politics and Nazi views has attracted the attention of the entire world. (National Socialism and Christianity: Can They Be Reconciled? by Wilhelm Pauck The Journal of Religion, Vol. 20, No. 1. (Jan., 1940), pp. 15-17)

It would probably help someone of your limited knowledge and intelligence to try to think of it this way, given the growing decadence and apathy typical to the American Republic how many American “Christians” would actually do anything politically if some evil form of Nature based paganism and scientism emerged on naturalistic grounds like a metaphoric Beast? Ironically the only people actually spirited enough to do anything against it would most likely cause a deep visceral reaction of hatred in your mentally incompetent biology.

This is logically false. The statement, “Evolution explains how complex life may derive from simple life.” does not imply that life at any given moment (i.e. now) is more complex that at any other point in time.

Given the empirical evidence that Darwinism is said to explain it is generally a theory that explains progression, that’s why its main metaphor is a Tree of Life and so on.

In other words, life today may be less complex than it was yesterday. This is not a theory of progression.

Except that it generally has to be given what exists. Progress isn’t “necessary” in the abstract or in every specific instance, it just generally has to be an explanation of the progression of Life given the empirical evidence.

Evolution merely describes how one type of living thing may evolve into another. The average layman tends to confuse a path with a direction.

Uh uh. The average person assumes that evolution is generally a theory of progression not because of all the imagery and metaphors of progression but because they’re just simple people.

So here we have a bald assertion, followed by a few suppositions, followed by a non sequiter, followed by a conclusion. I note a painful lack of anything resembling evidence.

But your ignorance isn’t necessarily my responsibility. If you want to believe that the economic metaphors which Darwin projected onto Nature “just happened” to match late-nineteenth century capitalism (as Marx suggested) instead of Darwin projecting them and drawing them out, that’s fine with me. For that matter, perhaps that same form of capitalism came to recognize itself in Darwinism by another happenstance too. God knows that we can’t admit things happen by intention because people are intelligent.…

Arguing with such an immature (and possibly insane) Fafarmanesque troll is a wate of time. He’s clearly not engaging with us, so why should we engage with him?

I’m talking past the Herd to anyone capable of intelligence and intelligent design anyway. Given your terms the text that you write here was dictated by natural selection or some other blind process, therefore it is actually caused by the mating habits of ancient worms and the like.

In just two sentences you display your ignorance for all to see, and accuse one of your critics of ignorance.

Only because he is ignorant. Darwinian evolution was proposed as a theory of progression, its metaphors and imagery are drawn to show sequences of progression and given the fossil record it generally has to explain progression and that is what it is said to explain.

You quite obviously have not taken the time to understand evolutionary theory…

You will obviously parrot whatever argument is popular within the Herd. Ever since the Herd began to see a need to distance itself from the scientific racism and so on in its past it has begun to deny the history of the theory of evolution as well as basic logic.

You are fooling yourself if you think you know what claims evolutionary theory makes. I suggest you go and learn some actual biology. From a textbook that has been written by actual scientists, i.e. people who know what they’re talking about.

A textbook about basic biology: “Deduction 3: If the hypothesis of evolution is true, then we would expect to find only the simplest organisms in the very oldest fossiliferous strata and hte more complex ones only in more recent strata.” (Science as a Way of Knowing: The Foundations of Modern Biology by John Moore :151)

I just have one question for you to ponder: if evolutionary theory has a “scheme” that life proceeds from simple to complex, how come there are still simple organisms?

It seems that you need to go read a basic biology textbook.

Then go and read The Origin of Species. Only after you’ve done that should you come back here to participate in the discussions.

“…and as natural selection works solely by and fore the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection.” –The Origin of Species (Darwin: The Indelible Stamp (Four Essential Volumes in One) Edited by James D. Watson :600)

I just have one question for you to ponder: if evolutionary theory has a “scheme” that life proceeds from simple to complex, how come there are still simple organisms? And, no, I won’t make the obvious parody, i.e. who else would believe biblical literalism, because that’s a cheap shot and too easy.

You remind me of a creationist rube. In fact you’re like a bad parody of them from the Darwinian side. At any rate, I’ll go along with Darwin and some ancient genius in believing that a good summary of things is: “Let the Earth bring forth Life…”

So, then, Mynym, can you please explain in detail how the Theory of Evolution was able to inspire both Communism and Nazism? Can you please explain how studying extinct animals and trying to understand how these organisms interacted with their environments would inspire a person to go out, round up and kill as many non-Aryans as possible?

A textbook about basic biology: “Deduction 3: If the hypothesis of evolution is true, then we would expect to find only the simplest organisms in the very oldest fossiliferous strata and hte more complex ones only in more recent strata.” (Science as a Way of Knowing: The Foundations of Modern Biology by John Moore :151)

You are confusing the mechanism and the predictions. Since we know that there is multicellular life, the theory predicts that multicellular life came from single cellular life. Not because evolution requires increased complexity but rather because evolution is the best explanation. However, a random ‘drunkard walk’ with a minimal ‘complexity’ of 1 at the left hand side, will inevitably lead to a diffusion away from the wall towards potential higher ‘complexity’ as defined by the number of cells. However complexity is a very complex concept and unless well defined can be, as ID has shown, be used to conflate and confuse.

In other words, given single cellular organisms, evolutionary theory does not predict that multicellularity will have to arise inevitably, however given the existence of single and multicellular life, the theory does explain this ‘progression’.

One has to be careful with words here because it may suggest that multicellularity is somehow better than single cells, or ‘more complex’. If one define complexity by the number of ‘unique’ and ‘differentiated’ cell types then yes, mulicellularity is by definition more complex but then we have an issue of deciding why this definition of complexity is more privileged than say one based on the number of genes, the length of the DNA, etc.

Hope this clarifies the confusion

I checke dout Mynym’s blog hoping to find some evidence of reason. When I read

It’s ironic that progressives are typically ignorant enough to believe in the Darwinian creation myth and seem to derive much of their moral relativism from a Darwinian worldview which they believe to be scientific.

I understood that reason is not what Mynym is all about. Too bad.

mynym:

This is logically false. The statement, “Evolution explains how complex life may derive from simple life.” does not imply that life at any given moment (i.e. now) is more complex that at any other point in time.

Given the empirical evidence that Darwinism is said to explain it is generally a theory that explains progression, that’s why its main metaphor is a Tree of Life and so on.

In other words, life today may be less complex than it was yesterday. This is not a theory of progression.

Except that it generally has to be given what exists. Progress isn’t “necessary” in the abstract or in every specific instance, it just generally has to be an explanation of the progression of Life given the empirical evidence.

The metaphor of the “tree of life” has been adequately dealt with by others.

Progression in the sense of “change over time” is not the same as progression in the sense of “improvement” on some absolute scale. An adaptation which is advantageous today may not be advantageous tomorrow. Likewise a non-advantageous trait that you had yesterday might prove to be advantageous today. In that sense, evolution is balanced.

My question to you is: where does gawd (or the designer, if you prefer) get into the picture, and how might scientists observe it?

But your ignorance isn’t necessarily my responsibility. If you want to believe that the economic metaphors which Darwin projected onto Nature “just happened” to match late-nineteenth century capitalism (as Marx suggested) instead of Darwin projecting them and drawing them out, that’s fine with me. For that matter, perhaps that same form of capitalism came to recognize itself in Darwinism by another happenstance too. God knows that we can’t admit things happen by intention because people are intelligent.…

I said all living creatures have their own economy, using what they have to get what they need. That’s not the same thing as projecting a particular human economic model on nature. Ants have a different economic behavior than beavers or horses or fish.

Of course we can admit things happen intentionally, assuming that, based on empirical observation, we can logically hypothesize the existence of a purposeful instigator and find corroborating empirical evidence of influence and intent. ID fulfills none of these necessities.

not a DIdiot; just playing devil’s advocate

One sample size of each is not very extensive though. Not sure a conclusion can be drawn from so little data. Or if there is a conclusion it is probably not very scientific.

How about the other Discovery Institute fellows? Do they have publications too?

Also people could argue that picking Carrol who is a especially distingushed scientist as a comparision was not very fair. Using somebody a little more ordinary for comparison would have been better.

Ok this website sucks. It eat my well written comment replacing it with a silly error. I’m too lazy to write it again. Sorry folks

But your ignorance isn’t necessarily my responsibility.

Then why are you here, trolling away? Just leave us in our pathetic evidence- and logic- based ignorance.

It eat my well written comment replacing it with a silly error.

Always use the preview button.

so why should we engage with him?

Indeed. Unlike the typical creationist troll, mynym doesn’t even get the biological facts wrong. His ignorant blather about “Darwinism” is unrelated to any facts and is unchanging.

If one define complexity by the number of ‘unique’ and ‘differentiated’ cell types then yes, mulicellularity is by definition more complex but then we have an issue of deciding why this definition of complexity is more privileged than say one based on the number of genes, the length of the DNA, etc.

Increasing maximal complexity, by any measure, over time is a logical necessity. Imagine a drunk on a random walk – he must reach 200 feet from his starting point after, not before, he has reached 100 feet from his starting point. This of course does not mean that he gets further and further away from his starting point over time, only that he has been further and further away (asymptotically; the increase in maximal distance slows over time, because he has to cover more and more ground in order to cross the boundary).

Since this is a logical necessity of the phenomenon, it is not a characteristic of the explanation of the phenomenon. The theory of evolution is no more “rooted in a metaphor of progression” than is the mathematics used to explain the path of a random walk.

Also people could argue that picking Carrol who is a especially distingushed scientist as a comparision was not very fair.

You say you are lazy – apparently too lazy to spell his name correctly, and too lazy to read the post where it says I have heard [Behe] described as “a scientist of the first rank.”

I suspect that you’re too stupid to understand half of what I write

How convenient for you. But it doesn’t make you any less of a pathetically ignorant and intellectually dishonest troll.

I want to hit at the old Hitler charge. I think it’s rather bizarre to try to blame Hitler on any particular idea or belief, naturally, especially when his psychology is almost certainly the most explanatory aspect to him (a psychologist during WWII was able to figure out his psyche enough to quite well predict what he’d do as fortune turned against him).

What tends to be missing from these fights is the fact that Enlightenment (with science, like evolution) has generally made countries much better than those who have not been enlightened. So I responded to Ben Stein’s nonsense with the following, over at the Expelled blog:

Glen Davidson Says:

September 29th, 2007 at 10:59 pm As it happens, Ben Stein doesn’t seem particularly impressed by the ID nonsense either. Not that it really should matter, given that he neither has expertise in science, nor has sense enough to recognize the importance of keeping pseudoscience from being forced into the university science departments. Nevertheless, this is what NY Times reports of Stein’s response:

–…said in a telephone interview that he [Ben] accepted the producers’ invitation to participate in the film not because he disavows the theory of evolution — he said there was a “very high likelihood” that Darwin was on to something — but because he does not accept that evolution alone can explain life on earth.

He said he also believed the theory of evolution leads to racism and ultimately genocide, an idea common among creationist thinkers. If it were up to him, he said, the film would be called “From Darwin to Hitler.–

www.reason.com/blog/printer/122721.html

Now this is a bizarre notion, though one pushed by IDists often enough.

Ben needs to study the history of Germany versus that of England and the United States. Both of the latter have had and continue to have their faults, but they were the Enlightenment countries (the US in particular was founded on Enlightenment principles), and thus were not fertile ground for the nonsense of the Nazis (it is believed that occult beliefs played a large role in fostering Nazi anti-Semitism, for instance). Germany was open to such ideas, for a number of reasons, naturally (WWI, depression, etc.), but especially because the Enlightenment hadn’t really taken hold in Germany.

From Germany came Hegel, Marx, and Heidegger (actually, Kant, too, but Kant’s pro-enlightenment notions had been quickly turned into Romantic thought by people like Hegel and Heidegger). Of course great scientists came from Germany as well, but the overall attitude of Germany was Romantic, and favored “spirit” over theories about hard evidence.

Darwin, by contrast, was in the tradition of Hume, Newton, and a tradition that in both the judiciary and in science favored evidence over “feelings” and vague notions like ID or, indeed, the German Haeckel’s magical notions. Among the intellectuals of the Anglo world, Darwinism was taken up almost as a matter of course (most religious people in power did not oppose it), and despite a fair amount of Victorian notions in Darwin’s writings, including racist ideas, evolutionary theory was part of far saner societies than what appeared in Germany and in Italy.

Evolutionary theory needed to move on from Darwin, in part because he included Victorian prejudices, and it most certainly did (one reason we don’t like yahoos like Ruloff calling today’s evolution “Darwinism”), for it was evidence-based science and thus became well-integrated with other science, like Mendelism. Meanwhile, the non-Enlightenment societies of Germany and the USSR largely rejected the “materialistic” ideas of Mendel and of Darwin. Did this itself make them the totalitarian nightmares that they were? No, of course not, however, bad ideas in science frequently are associated with bad ideas in government, and Nazi Germany and Stalinist USSR were no exceptions.

In spite of all their faults, the UK and the US remained beacons of Englightenment, as the rejectors of the Enlightenment brought us war and genocides.

Stein really ought to know about all of this much better than he does, for he ought to know a little about Jews and the improvement of their lot as the Enlightenment took hold. Medieval theocracies were cruel to Jews, and actually, to many many Christians as well. The Enlightenment brought relief to most everybody, other than that we had to fight and oppose the anti-Enlightenment societies of Germany and the USSR.

So now what does Ben do? He attacks the Enlightenment itself through this movie, claiming that those who have no evidence and only desires to impose their will onto science, have been persecuted. You want Hitler, or at least theocratic dominance over what should be free science? Then keep this up, Ben.

The Enlightenment is what demanded evidence before one is determined to be guilty, and the Enlightenment is what demands that science remain based in evidence and not in the wishes of Romantics and of atavistic theocrats. As ID’s Wedge Document points out, ID is really only a way of getting rid of Enlightenment ideas (it doesn’t call them that, but it is what they are), and hence the way to attack both our Constitution and the science that America needs to compete.

If you don’t know science, Ben, at least try boning up some on history. Attacking the Enlightenment is the way to Hitler, as well as to other less odious but still objectionable impositions upon humanity. Force science to accept “standards” that reject the need for legitimate evidence, and not only have you destroyed the First Amendment, you have destroyed the Declaration of Indepence as well, and all that gave rise to freedom of thought and of science.

There you go. You’re free, of course, to oppose the Allies and their anti-fascist standards, but if you succeed in your gambit, you had better not count on having freedom for much longer.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

By the way, I’m beginning to suspect that they “approve” certain of my posts late over there, so that they’ll be lost where few will read them. I can’t think of any other reason why my latest post is either delayed, or even rejected.

Glen D

Good piece, Glen, but there seems to be a contradiction between “it’s rather bizarre to try to blame Hitler on any particular idea or belief” and “Attacking the Enlightenment is the way to Hitler”. I favor the latter; Hitler’s psychology explains him, but it doesn’t fully explain his place in world events.

Good piece, Glen, but there seems to be a contradiction between “it’s rather bizarre to try to blame Hitler on any particular idea or belief” and “Attacking the Enlightenment is the way to Hitler”. I favor the latter; Hitler’s psychology explains him, but it doesn’t fully explain his place in world events.

Thanks PG.

I was aware of the apparent contradiction to which you point, but I thought that the context might make be sufficient to differentiate between the two (I was in a rush). In the first instance I was discussing Hitler as a person, which seemed to be mainly what had been discussed in this thread.

In the piece from the “Expelled” blog I was referring to the acceptance of non-Enlightenment ideas by Germans, like those of the occult and of Hitler. That piece was meant to broaden the issue beyond the strict “Hitler believed” whatever, the issues to which Stein and most creationists and IDists try to narrow the focus. Hitler being accepted by a society that had not really grasped the Enlightenment was the subject matter in the “Expelled” piece, not Hitler as a single diseased psyche.

Well, okay, it was too ambiguously worded. My apologies.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Hmmm … the original context here was mynym’s quoting Stove: “if Darwinism once furnished a justification, retrospective or prospective, for the crimes of capitalists or National Socialists”, and later he wrote “It’s silly to focus on Hitler, his ramblings or his limited intellect given that he wouldn’t have been able to do anything without support.” So I don’t think it was “Hitler’s diseased psyche” that was “blamed on any particular idea or belief”, at least not by our troll, and your comments about rejection of the Enlightenment leading to fascism struck me as more a propos.

Hmmm … the original context here was mynym’s quoting Stove: “if Darwinism once furnished a justification, retrospective or prospective, for the crimes of capitalists or National Socialists”, and later he wrote “It’s silly to focus on Hitler, his ramblings or his limited intellect given that he wouldn’t have been able to do anything without support.” So I don’t think it was “Hitler’s diseased psyche” that was “blamed on any particular idea or belief”, at least not by our troll, and your comments about rejection of the Enlightenment leading to fascism struck me as more a propos.

Good points, sure enough.

However, by no means did I go through the whole piece, and referenced what “seemed to be mainly what had been discussed in this thread.” Raven was discussing Hitler, while as you say, Mynym was discussing “the Nazis”.

Whether any of the foregoing is important enough to hash out, I don’t know. However, unlike Stalinism (a way of Stalin to use communism to make himself a sort reincarnation of Ivan the Terrible, and, he hoped, Peter the Great (also quite a bloody ruler, of course)), I believe that National Socialism per se is heavily stamped with Hitler’s personality, prejudices, and hatreds. I do not think that Mynym can separate Nazism from Hitler as he tries to do (which I had not known, and wouldn’t have guessed for the reasons I gave), and Raven is closer to dealing with Nazism as a party and an ideology by referring directly to Hitler (I don’t know what role Xianity played in Hitler’s personal thoughts (does anybody, really?), but it’s clear that he exploited Luther’s anti-Semitism effectively).

Of course Nazism wasn’t only Hitler’s doing, but I don’t think that National Socialism has much definition or meaning (except as an anemic pre-Hitler party) apart from Hitler, whatever Mynym supposes. It’s absurd of him to think that it isn’t so much what Hitler thought as what the people thought, because the problem is that the people were too easily persuaded to trust Hitler as the “Great Fuehrer”, which trust had much to do with German non-Enlightenment, and little to do with the science of the times–even as distorted as pop science was by racial nonsense.

I thought about going on, but that’s enough for me. I, too, think that the comments about rejection of the Enlightenment at least leaving Germany open to fascism were more apropos.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on October 3, 2007 11:26 PM.

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