The continued confusion of Intelligent Design Creationists

On Uncommon Descent Bill Dembski

Evolutionists continue to be much exercised about evolution being treated as “merely a theory,” arguing that to identify it as such is as disreputable as treating gravity or the second law as “merely a theory.” But consider, as a close colleague recently reminded me:

And continues to quote from two scientists, Niels Bohr and Stanislaw Ulam (both physicists)

about Bohr, he quotes from Mayr’s “Evolution and the Diversity of Life”:

“When I lectured in the mid-1950’s to a small audience in Copenhagen, the great physicist Niels Bohr stated in the discussion that he could not conceive how accidental mutations could account for the immense diversity of the organic world and its remarkable adaptations. As far as he was concerned, the period of 3 billion years since life had originated was too short by several orders of magnitude to achieve all of this.” (Quoted from page 53; the book is online at Google Books.)

Note that Mayr continues:

“His conclusion was of course vigorously opposed by the evolutionary biologists whose painstaking analysis of the facts of evolution led them to confirm the original Darwinian thesis that genetic variability combined with natural selection is indeed able to account for the seeming perfection of the living world.”

In other words, Bohr’s argument was, like the argument of the modern day Intelligent Design Creationist, based on a personal incredulity, a disbelief.

And indeed on page 68-69 we read:

“In the ensuing discussion, he [Bohr] agreed with my conclusions, except for reminding me that an emergence of new characteristics in a system was not peculiar to living systems. He cited chemical elements, which are systems that owe their highly specific properties to the quantity and patterns of their simple unit components, the nuclei and elections. These properties, Bohr said, could not have been predicted in detail on the basis of knowledge of the individual protons, neutrons and electrons. “

What a difference it makes when people are educated in the basics of evolutionary theory. Let this be a lesson to those who object to evolutionary theory being taught in schools.

about Ulam

“[Darwinism] seems to require many thousands, perhaps millions, of successive mutations to produce even the easiest complexity we see in life now. It appears, naively at least, that no matter how large the probability of a single mutation is, should it be even as great as one-half, you would get this probability raised to a millionth power, which is so very close to zero that the chances of such a chain seem to be practically non-existent.” (Ulam’s remark on page 21 of the Wistar conference Proceedings.)

Note how Ulam is abusing mathematics in true Intelligent Design Creationist fashion by assuming that the process of evolution is fully random.

the ‘conclusion’?

In other words, Bohr and Ulam both believed that Darwinism was a false theory. If Darwinism is false, then it cannot be a fact. It can only be a theory.

And again we see how Intelligent Design Creationists confuse the concept of fact and theory. Yes, Darwinism is and will always be a theory of evolution (a status which no ID proposal will likely ever achieve) which best explains the fact of evolution

Bill wonders

Do evolutionists think that Bohr and Ulam were anti-science crackpots? Did they doubt the validity of the law of gravity or the second law of thermodynamics? Were they ignorant of these laws?

No, they were ignorant of the mechanism of evolution. Ironically, this shows that relying on the perspectives on those unfamiliar with evolutionary theory can lead to a false impression that ‘scientists’ reject or object to Darwinian theory as being sufficient to explain the fact of evolution.

Of course, most any biological scientist, including Darwin himself, would agree that Darwinian theory is but one of various mechanisms that have shaped the biological world.

No Bill, your ‘close friend’s’ examples are not really what you believed them to be.