March 14, 2005

MASKED? TRY, THINLY VEILED:

Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens (Peter Slevin, March 14, 2005, Washington Post)

Propelled by a polished strategy crafted by activists on America's political right, a battle is intensifying across the nation over how students are taught about the origins of life. Policymakers in 19 states are weighing proposals that question the science of evolution.

The proposals typically stop short of overturning evolution or introducing biblical accounts. Instead, they are calculated pleas to teach what advocates consider gaps in long-accepted Darwinian theory, with many relying on the idea of intelligent design, which posits the central role of a creator.

The growing trend has alarmed scientists and educators who consider it a masked effort to replace science with theology. [...]

Polls show that a large majority of Americans believe God alone created man or had a guiding hand. Advocates invoke the First Amendment and say the current campaigns are partly about respect for those beliefs.

"It's an academic freedom proposal. What we would like to foment is a civil discussion about science. That falls right down the middle of the fairway of American pluralism," said the Discovery Institute's Stephen C. Meyer, who believes evolution alone cannot explain life's unfurling. "We are interested in seeing that spread state by state across the country."

Some evolution opponents are trying to use Bush's No Child Left Behind law, saying it creates an opening for states to set new teaching standards. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a Christian who draws on Discovery Institute material, drafted language accompanying the law that said students should be exposed to "the full range of scientific views that exist."

"Anyone who expresses anything other than the dominant worldview is shunned and booted from the academy," Santorum said in an interview. "My reading of the science is there's a legitimate debate. My feeling is let the debate be had." [...]

"If students only have one thing to consider, one option, that's really more brainwashing," said [Cindy Duckett, a Wichita mother], who sent her children to Christian schools because of her frustration. Students should be exposed to the Big Bang, evolution, intelligent design "and, beyond that, any other belief that a kid in class has. It should all be okay."

Fox -- pastor of the largest Southern Baptist church in the Midwest, drawing 6,000 worshipers a week to his Wichita church -- said the compromise is an important tactic. "The strategy this time is not to go for the whole enchilada. We're trying to be a little more subtle," he said.

To fundamentalist Christians, Fox said, the fight to teach God's role in creation is becoming the essential front in America's culture war. The issue is on the agenda at every meeting of pastors he attends. If evolution's boosters can be forced to back down, he said, the Christian right's agenda will advance.

"If you believe God created that baby, it makes it a whole lot harder to get rid of that baby," Fox said. "If you can cause enough doubt on evolution, liberalism will die."

Like Meyer, Fox is glad to make common cause with people who do not entirely agree.

"Creationism's going to be our big battle. We're hoping that Kansas will be the model, and we're in it for the long haul," Fox said. He added that it does not matter "who gets the credit, as long as we win."


With 87% of Americans skeptical about Darwinism, its defenders are not just fighting a losing battle but one that puts them on the extreme margins of society.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 14, 2005 7:46 AM
Comments

"With 87% of Americans skeptical about Darwinism"

I see you couldn't resist throwing out that bait. Well here goes: you're demonstrating intellectual dishonesty by counting undecideds as agreeing with you. Since we discussed this only very recently, I can't put it down as a simple oversight or honest mistake.

Incidentally, the highest number of 'skeptics' of Darwin's theory of evolution are high school dropouts.

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 2:02 PM

Let me rephrase that: the highest percentage of skepticism of Darwin's theory of evolution is among high school dropouts.

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 2:05 PM

They don't agree with me, they're just dubious about Darwinism...like most Americans.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 2:15 PM

You're including the undecideds as agreeing with you in being skeptical of Darwinism.

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 2:20 PM

"If you can cause enough doubt on evolution, liberalism will die."

If the facts are on the side of Creationism, why should this be so hard?

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 2:26 PM

It's not hard--13% is virtually dead.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 2:39 PM

they are by definition.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 2:40 PM

Here are the poll results:

2004 Nov 7-10

Man developed, with God guiding--38%

Man developed, but God had no part in process--13%

God created man in present form--45%

Other/No opinion--4%

If you don't count the fence sitters, its 83% who do not believe in the one damn thing after another school. Since no poll is that good, probably the fairest thing to say is that less than one Americanin six is ready to sign up to be Richard Dawkins' towel boy.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 14, 2005 2:55 PM

If the facts are on the side of Creationism, why did Darwin's theory ever even see the light of day? Why was it not disproven instead of expanded on? Why can't Creationism defeat the modern synthesis even today by simple and accepted means, by disproving the scientific basis for evolution? Why the need for all the Appeals to Ignorance?

"they are by definition."

If you mean by that that the undecideds are skeptical of Darwinism, then they are also skeptical of Creationism, of God, of Zeus, of everything, basically.

It's a skewed logic which you quite obviously only put in place for self-serving purposes. The logical extension of this stance is that you're looking at a disagreement of 87-17, not 87-13.

Not that that makes any sense, of course, since there are only 100% to go around. The more reasonable way of looking at it is to simply say 83-13, with 4 undecided.

(And never mind that 35% agree that Darwin's theory is a scientific theory that has been well-supported by evidence - real skeptics there.)

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 3:04 PM

Yes, they are skeptical of both.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 3:15 PM

creeper:

Darwinism/Freudianism/Marxism etc. were just attempts to assert the primacy of human reason against Judeo-Christian faith. They failed.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 3:16 PM

"Yes, they are skeptical of both."

Or neither. We just don't know. They may well be entirely apathetic.

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 3:35 PM

Or entirely ignorant, which obviates skepticism of any kind.

In another, similar, OJ cited poll last year found some 13% of self-avowed Creationists, when asked questions about their beliefs, agreed with statements undergirding evolution with God nudging things along--which could mean anything.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 14, 2005 4:14 PM

This post and comments has instigated the following amusing post:

What would Darwinism predict about the acceptance of Darwinism, given the fact that the vast majority of people on earth are religious and believe in a creation myth based on a deity? First, the definition of Darwinism, for the purposes of this post are taken from Wikipedia, and is limited to the description of a process which "requires the following schema:

  1. Self-replication/Inheritance: Some number of entities must be capable of producing copies of themselves, and those copies must also be capable of reproduction. The new copies must inherit the traits of old ones. Sometimes the different variations are recombined in sexual reproduction.
  2. Variation: There must be a range of different traits in the population of entities, and there must be a mechanism for introducing new variations into the population.
  3. Selection: Inherited traits must somehow affect the ability of the entities to reproduce themselves, either by survival, or natural selection, or by ability to produce offspring by finding partners, or sexual selection."
In particular, this definition of Darwinism does not include any philosophical, sociological, or theological extensions that are sometimes (in my opinion wrongly) attributed to Darwinism.

Assuming Darwinism is an accurate description of biological evolution, then a reasonable hypothesis is that a trait that is very common in a population is evidence that the trait confers fitness on members of that population relative to natural selection. Since belief in a deity based creation myth is a very common trait in humans, it follows that such belief is likely to be advantageous in a Darwinian sense. In addition, in order to maintain belief in deity based creation myths, it may be necessary to have a natural resistance to ideas or theories that conflict with creation myths or offer alternate, natural explanations for parts of the creation process. Darwinism is possibly one such theory to which people might therefore have a natural resistance.

Thus, it is plausible that Darwinism predicts resistance to the acceptance of Darwinism.

Posted by: Bret at March 14, 2005 4:18 PM

Calm down.

All it means is that 87% of those polled (or think they were polled, perhaps not) have doubts about their skepticism.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 14, 2005 4:20 PM

"If you believe God created that baby, it makes it a whole lot harder to get rid of that baby," Fox said. "If you can cause enough doubt on evolution, liberalism will die."

You can't get any dumber than this. 90% believe that God makes babies now, it isn't stopping abortion. Does he really think that evolution is the only thing supporting liberalism? Remember the congressman who wanted to display the 10 Commandments in schools after Columbine, thinking that it would prevent murder? Gee, it didn't stop the dirtbag who killed 8 of his fellow Christians in Wisconsin last Saturday.

"Students should be exposed to the Big Bang, evolution, intelligent design "and, beyond that, any other belief that a kid in class has. It should all be okay."

Science by public opinion poll. There's a way to teach science. Lets not focus on facts, but on how we feel. Gee, where have we heard that before. They're not trying to eliminate the Left, they're trying to be the Left.


Posted by: Robert Duquette at March 14, 2005 4:25 PM

"Since no poll is that good, probably the fairest thing to say is that less than one Americanin six is ready to sign up to be Richard Dawkins' towel boy."

Yeah, that's what it's all about. It's a cult of personality.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at March 14, 2005 4:27 PM

Robert:

Yes it is. The tide has turned on abortion.

Darwinism isn't about facts, just politics.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 4:29 PM

With a bearded prophet no less, just like its sisters Marxism and Freudianism.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 4:33 PM

Bret:

That's the beauty of Darwinism--no matter what happens that's what it predicted would happen. It's completely circular.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 4:35 PM

"Yes it is. The tide has turned on abortion."

It can't have, we haven't eliminated evolution from school curriculums yet!

Posted by: Robert Duquette at March 14, 2005 4:36 PM

Robert:

As good as. Teachers have just stopped teaching it rather than be hassled. And no one buys it anymore in the general public.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 4:41 PM

"And no one buys it anymore in the general public."

35% in the US think it is well supported by the evidence.

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 4:51 PM

If the facts are on the side of Creationism, why did Darwin's theory ever even see the light of day? Why was it not disproven instead of expanded on?

Can a Darwinist in the house please explain how exactly Darwinism could be falsified?

Posted by: Timothy at March 14, 2005 4:52 PM

Timothy:

They claim that they'd have to see God intervene again before they'd admit defeat.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 4:57 PM

creeper;

tut, tut, everyone's still laughing at your last attempt. 12-13% of Americans in polls over the last several decades say they believe in Darwinism.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 4:58 PM

And if you want to talk about trends, the 35% saying Darwin's theory of evolution is "well supported by the evidence" is steady from 4 years ago, while 4% have moved from saying Darwin's theory of evolution is "not supported by the evidence" to "don't know enough to say".

Since 1982, 4% have moved to "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process" while "Other, no opinion" declined 4%.

It ain't much, but the trend is certainly not the opposite, as Orrin would like to see it.

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 5:08 PM

"They claim that they'd have to see God intervene again before they'd admit defeat."

Again? Where's the evidence he intervened even once?

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 5:09 PM

creeper:

That's within the margin of error. The number is very steady over the decades. It's about 12-13% believe in Darwinism, 87% skeptical.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 5:12 PM

"12-13% of Americans in polls over the last several decades say they believe in Darwinism."

And a bunch more think evolution makes sense due to the scientific evidence that supports it, but also try to fit it into a worldview that includes God.

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 5:14 PM

Jeepers, creeper. When you're up gluteous maximus in data, it's hard to remember your understandings are all based on faith.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 14, 2005 5:20 PM

"That's within the margin of error. The number is very steady over the decades."

It ain't much, but the trend is certainly not the opposite, as Orrin would like to see it.
Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 5:20 PM

ghostcat, don't believe everything Orrin tells you. Definitely look things up for yourself.

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 5:23 PM

creeper:

Everyone believes evolution makes sense if you allow for God guiding it. Genesis is an evolutionary account of Creation.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 5:30 PM

"Everyone believes evolution makes sense if you allow for God guiding it."

Evidently not, as you pointed out earlier.

"Genesis is an evolutionary account of Creation."

One could see Genesis as a metaphorical account of evolution with a bunch of stages left out and highlighting certain symbols.

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 5:38 PM

"Can a Darwinist in the house please explain how exactly Darwinism could be falsified?"

Start here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

It's worth reading the introduction parts, but once you get to Part 1 and onwards, just about every section shows the appropriate potential falsification.

There are quite a few of them.

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 5:46 PM

Incidentally, Orrin, do you still take issue with microevolution?

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 5:50 PM

creeper:

My skepticism is quiote specific: nothing has ever speciated/undergone significant morphological change due to Natural Selection.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 5:53 PM

How would you define significant in that context?

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 5:55 PM

eye, arm, wing, etc.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 5:58 PM

"My skepticism is quiote specific: nothing has ever speciated/undergone significant morphological change due to Natural Selection."

You might want to work your way through the link I posted above; it's very interesting.

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 5:59 PM

"eye, arm, wing, etc."

That sounds more like macroevolution to me - in that case, the link should definitely be interesting... if you happen to be interested, that is.

Back to my question though: do you still take issue with microevolution?

Posted by: creeper at March 14, 2005 6:01 PM

By microevolution do you mean that the species finch has varieties with different size beaks?

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 6:25 PM

creeper (you from Virginia?) -

Heck, I take everything OJ sez with a chunk of Lot's wife.

Here's the thing, though. Freud may have had his head where there was no need for SPF-30, but Jung did not.

The brain's choice of "data to be perceived" is shaped by it's unconscious assumptions about the nature of things. The brain's subsequent interpretation of the selected data ... its ascription of meaning to those data ... is even more fundamentally shaped by those unconscious assumptions.

The unconscious assumptions, in turn, are derivative of both the brain's innate characteristics and its experience. And those innate characteristics are the closest thing to eternal truth in the whole shebang. Jung intuited all of this, then demonstrated the existence of a limited number of unconscious archetypes.

OJ and I might ... might ... disagree about the source of the archetypes. The notion of an eternal soul resonates with this heretic, however. I have seen too much in my nearly 62 years to buy either the tabula rasa idiocy or the total faith in reason.

I offer all this pedantry as a Non-Anthropomorphic Monotheist vaguely in the Hebrew/Abenaki tradition.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 14, 2005 6:44 PM

Jung? Lord above, I'm a little shocked. The only point of Jung's existence was to let psychologists say that it wasn't true that they'd believe any loony theory that came down the pike.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 14, 2005 6:54 PM

Now, David. Jung did serve that purpose, it's true. But it's not the sole value of his work.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 14, 2005 6:56 PM

With 87% of Americans skeptical about Darwinism, its defenders are not just fighting a losing battle but one that puts them on the extreme margins of society.

Next: Scientists to be burned at stakes?

If you righties want to turn the U.S. into a poverty-striken third-world backwater, let me say that you are doing one hell of a job. Keep people ignorant and kneecap science -- great work. The next step is to jiggle tax structures so that all of the wealth of the nation flows into the hands of a small elitist corporate oligarchy -- oh, wait, you did that one already. Sorry.

Posted by: maha at March 14, 2005 7:07 PM

maha -

Posted by: ghostcat at March 14, 2005 7:09 PM

maha:

We have the highest rate of home ownership in our history--maybe in recorded history--and a household net worth of $48 trillion dollars. Our poverty rate is the per capita GDP of even many European countries. Whatever we've been doing since 1980, you're right, we should keep doing.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 7:13 PM

maha, why have all the famines of the last 100+ years been in leftist run countrues ? and none in capitalistic run countries ? you do realize what a walking (and i am giving you the benefit of the doubt here) cliche you are ? still, a little humor is always welcome.

Posted by: cjm at March 14, 2005 7:26 PM

maha, why have all the famines of the last 100+ years been in leftist run countrues ?

Not true, unless you define "leftist countries" as those having had famines in the last 100+ years. I suspect you are confusing "leftist" with "military dictatorship," which accounts for a lot of famine-ridden countries.

Posted by: maha at March 14, 2005 7:43 PM

Why else would a country move Left unless forced by a dictatorship?

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 7:50 PM

"By microevolution do you mean that the species finch has varieties with different size beaks?"

That would fall under microevolution, yes.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 1:54 AM

"Why else would a country move Left unless forced by a dictatorship?"

Good question. Why else would a country move to either extreme unless forced by a dictatorship?

Let's see: Communist Russia, for example, came into being as the result of a popular uprising, a revolution of the people, before turning into a dictatorship of sorts, but at that point it was already very much on the left side of the political spectrum.

So one possible answer to your question would be some kind of political idealism, even if it did turn out to be misguided in hindsight.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 2:04 AM

"That's the beauty of Darwinism--no matter what happens that's what it predicted would happen."

What's your position on the Book of Revelations?

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 2:06 AM

"We have the highest rate of home ownership in our history--maybe in recorded history--and a household net worth of $48 trillion dollars. Our poverty rate is the per capita GDP of even many European countries. Whatever we've been doing since 1980, you're right, we should keep doing."

You make it sound like the teaching of evolution was abolished and suddenly we had an economic boom or something. I'm also not sure what the point of comparing us to a handful of Eastern European countries emerging from a Communist past (essentially third-world countries) is.

Let's keep in mind, your anecdotal evidence of timid teachers in Alabama aside, that evolution has been taught for some time, and was not suddenly abolished the moment Reagan got into office.

What does home ownership have to do with teaching evolution anyway? They're either not related, or if you think they are, then it looks like the teaching of evolution hasn't done the household networth or home ownership statistics any harm whatsoever.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 2:45 AM

creeper:

That's precisely right. Darwinism and Statism go hand in hand. The economic boom times returned with a president who didn't buy Darwinism.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 7:32 AM

creeper:

Yes, we know microevolution is possible from breeding plants and animals, just not speciation.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 7:50 AM

Speciation of the level that you are talking about falls under macroevolution.

" we know microevolution is possible from breeding plants and animals"

Are you claiming microevolution is not possible in nature?

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 8:12 AM

"That's precisely right. Darwinism and Statism go hand in hand. The economic boom times returned with a president who didn't buy Darwinism."

1. How much statism was there in the US before Reagan took over?

Statism: The practice or doctrine of giving a centralized government control over economic planning and policy.

And what on Earth does statism have to do with Darwinism?

2. Reagan was fond of unleashing market forces, wasn't he? Seems to me the pure market forces are more Darwinist than Creationist in nature.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 8:20 AM

Yes, as Reagan understood, darwinian economic forces are a function of intelligent design and rational decision making.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 8:33 AM

No, I'm saying it isn't Evolution.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 8:34 AM

Microevolution is not evolution?

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 8:53 AM

Intelligent design and rational decision making by themselves apply to this quite strongly:

centralized government control over economic planning and policy

Market forces are more than that. Though they rely in part on the (hopefully rational) decision making of the individual agents, they add up to something considerably more. That 'something' can be said to be somewhat analogous to natural selection, in that weak entities do not survive for long, whereas strong ones do - it's the cherished principle of competition being the strength of the free market, isn't it?

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 9:00 AM

No, it isn't.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 10:11 AM

Yes, I agree, a whole series of decisions within an intelligent design is evolution.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 10:16 AM

"No, it isn't."

Is there some confusion here about the difference between "is synonymous with" and "is part of"?

mi·cro·ev·o·lu·tion, n.

Evolution resulting from a succession of relatively small genetic variations that often cause the formation of new subspecies.

Are you contending that microevolution is not even part of evolution?

On what basis?

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 11:00 AM

"Yes, I agree, a whole series of decisions within an intelligent design is evolution."

It's true that the individual organisms can exhibit intelligent decision-making in their daily survival. It is not necessary that the context needs to be within an intelligent design, however.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 11:03 AM

Except that the examples you guys offer are always are intelligent designed.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 11:12 AM

Evolution in modern terms means just Darwinism which means speciation via Natural Selection.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 11:13 AM

Evolution in modern terms means a lot more than "just Darwinism", and it also means more than just "speciation via Natural Selection". It means the modern synthesis, and has done for quite some time. I find it difficult to believe that this is news to you, as it is pointed out to you relatively frequently.

You can find a little introduction here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/modern-synthesis.html

Evolution most certainly does include microevolution. The reason you disagreed with that turns out to be nothing more than your inexplicable unawareness of the existence of the modern synthesis.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 11:39 AM

"Except that the examples you guys offer are always are intelligent designed."

We can bring up examples from nature, but since you have defined everything as intelligently designed, it's kind of difficult to get around this little mental moebius strip you've constructed for yourself.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 11:43 AM

That's not Evolution.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 11:43 AM

Wow! oj commits to a definition:

"Darwinism which means speciation via Natural Selection."

Creeper, I know you're hoping for much, much more, but hey, it's not a bad start, is it? It's much better than oj's usual implied (but never quite explicitly defined) definition which is something to the effect of "all evils in modern society caused by the mere thought of the possibility of speciation via Natural Selection."

Posted by: Bret at March 15, 2005 11:45 AM

The modern synthesis is indeed evolution as it is understood today, incorporating current scientific knowledge. Time did not stop in the late 19th century.

In what way do you think it is not evolution?

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 11:46 AM

No speciation and no significant differentiation of physical traits.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 11:49 AM

That is not the criterium for evolution in general, Orrin. Perhaps you're thinking of the criterium for macroevolution.

Microevolution, for example, is a part of evolution but does not require changes to the level of speciation - though it does feature "significant differentiation of physical traits".

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 12:12 PM

yes, there are none.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 12:20 PM

If you're referring to "significant differentiation of physical traits": No, there are.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 12:52 PM

Yes, there are none.

You haven't looked at recent ornithiscian dinosaur fossil discoveries in the Gobi desert, have you?

Of course not. No point impeding your preconceptions with inconvenient facts.

Doing so might well make you look at birds differently.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 15, 2005 12:54 PM

Jeff:

You're aware that the fossils aren't recent?

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 2:12 PM

Fossils tend to be old.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 2:51 PM

Precisely.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 2:59 PM

?

... which invalidates them how?

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 3:06 PM

"The modern synthesis is indeed evolution as it is understood today, incorporating current scientific knowledge. Time did not stop in the late 19th century.

In what way do you think it is not evolution?"

"No speciation and no significant differentiation of physical traits."

http://www.gcssepm.org/special/cuffey_05.htm

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 3:35 PM

What a load of ignorant cretinist bullshit. It's very sad and scary that the most powerful country on earth is controlled by extreme-right brainless zombified fundy bigots who are opposed to science and knowledge, and intent on destroying anyone who is better educated than them. Pol Pot would be proud of you.

Posted by: No More Mr. Nice Guy! at March 15, 2005 4:23 PM

Pol Pot would be first up against the wall--a Rationalist, don't you know.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 4:28 PM

Timothy, if the Paluxy River hoax had been authentic, that would have debunked darwinism.

Everybody, pro- and antidarwinists alike, agreed with that.

People who assert that darwinism predicts nothing and therefore cannot be disproven in the Popperian sense are contradicting themselves, since they constantly propose 'data' that, they believe, proves that darwinism is false.

Try to have it just one way for a while. It might clear things up a bit.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at March 15, 2005 4:49 PM

Harry:

That's right, all the "data" Darwinists have produced has been manufactured, but the hoaxes don't disprove it, just demonstrate the nervousness of the adherents at the failure of what would be predicted to occur.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 4:57 PM

"That's right, all the "data" Darwinists have produced has been manufactured"

Is this manufactured?

http://www.gcssepm.org/special/cuffey_05.htm

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 5:03 PM

Probably, but more importantly, it's not evidence of Evolution.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 5:13 PM

Actually, the whole thing is kind of interesting.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 5:14 PM

Probably. I see. And you're basing this on...?

Zip.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 5:16 PM

Not evidence of evolution. I see. One of the things I always hear as an 'argument' against evolution is that there is no evidence of speciation, and no transitional fossils.

This shows both.

Transitional fossils and a gradual transition from one major higher taxon to another.

If you have evidence of this being a hoax, as you casually and instinctively implied above - please present it.

I know it's pretty pointless to nail you, Orrin, down on this, since it seems you will never accept any evidence supporting evolution - you even go so far as to deny something as basic as variability of traits ("I wasn't anywhere near the window, I didn't throw the rock, I've never even touched a rock or seen a window in my life." - deny everything all the time, no matter how implausible and inconsistent) and on another thread are currently performing the breathtaking feat of denying that gravity is scientific.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 5:31 PM

It demonstrates the absence of gradation, as the finds represent complete steps. It doesn't represent evolution since the first can likely breed with the last. I assume it's a hoax, but it need not be. It's as reliable evidence for Design or Creationism as for Natural Selection.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 5:35 PM

"It demonstrates the absence of gradation, as the finds represent complete steps."

?

Gradation consists of gradual steps. This clearly demonstrates those gradual steps. Now you want to fault it for consisting of steps?!

Besides, what makes you call any one of these fossils a complete step?

And how do these gradual steps demonstrate, of all things, the absence of graduation? It's like saying a strip of motion picture film showing someone running demonstrates the absence of motion. After all, each frame represents a "complete step" according to some arbitrary, undefined parameter. So the runner must never have moved.

This kind of comment from the man who claims dust to man and man's rib to woman correspond to gradual changes and should be counted as evolution...!

"It doesn't represent evolution since the first can likely breed with the last."

Keeping in mind that they did not even live at the same time, not by about 200 million years, on what exactly are you basing this likelihood? Not just possibility, but likelihood. Anything at all?

Even if we threw some kind of time machine into the mix, since one is a reptile and one is a mammal (maybe you missed that bit), the likelihood is right up there with, say, Chevy Chase copulating with a crocodile.

And producing offspring.

"I assume it's a hoax, but it need not be."

You assume this for the sole reason that thinking otherwise would involve you having to rethink your views on evolution. There's no shame in that, by the way, and I think you would gain some credibility by acquainting yourself with the modern synthesis.

Keep in mind that this is not based on one or two spectacular finds that could have been forged - it is based on a fossil record representing a span of hundreds of millions of years and based on a large number of archeological discoveries stretching back for decades.

Look at the sources.

Point out the hoax.

"It's as reliable evidence for Design or Creationism as for Natural Selection."

For starters, it is clearly at odds with biblical literalism. So clearly, this is much more evidence for natural selection than it is for straight creationism ("Belief in the literal interpretation of the account of the creation of the universe and of all living things related in the Bible").

Intelligent Design - well heck, anything's evidence for Intelligent Design, isn't it? All you have to do is take uninformed potshots at evolution while claiming all the unexplained parts as God's work as well as adopting the undeniable and then saying God did that bit too, all in a bid to score political points in some kind of absurd cultural conflict.

Like I said earlier, one of the things I always hear as an 'argument' against evolution is that there is no evidence of speciation, and no transitional fossils. Yet here we have transitional fossils and a gradual transition from one major higher taxon to another. In addressing an (uninformed) argument against evolution, it serves of course to bolster the case for evolution.

And if the IDers predictably enough want to borrow that for their hollow attempt at an alternative theory and stick their "God did this" label on it, they can do so. That's hardly unexpected. But it would take a pretty hands-off kind of God (you wouldn't miss him, really, might as well leave the job to natural selection) to take 200 million years to have a reptile turn into a mammal.

I know it's pointless to nail you down on this, since you are exceptionally prepared to accept utter incoherence for merely political/philosophical purposes, but maybe other people will take some of these facts on board. It's an interesting read, starting right here.

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 6:50 PM

Gradualism isn't steps.

There's no speciation.

Yes, the thorough fossil record which shows such large steps suggests interventions rather than gradualism.

Yes, we have fossils and any explanation anyone cooks up can be plausible for how they changed. [Darwinism was, after all, just created to fit the evidence.] Until something is observed to change all of them remain equally likely.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 6:58 PM

"Gradualism isn't steps."

grad·u·al Advancing or progressing by regular or continuous degrees. From Middle English, having steps, from Medieval Latin gradulis, from Latin gradus, step

degree One of a series of steps in a process, course, or progression; a stage: proceeded to the next degree of difficulty.
A step in a direct hereditary line of descent or ascent:

Like I said, you are exceptionally prepared to accept utter incoherence for merely political/philosophical purposes.


"There's no speciation."

Yes, Orrin, this is speciation. Speciation is the evolutionary formation of new species. Your usual complaint is that something does not rise to the level of species change. This one goes from reptile to mammal, clearly and gradually.

I'll expect you'll come up with a homebaked definition of speciation, but no dice, Orrin. You can't pretend evolution isn't evolution. Saying evolution is restricted to the level of knowledge of the 19th century is a stretch, or a massive display of ignorance, but you can't redefine speciation.


"Yes, the thorough fossil record which shows such large steps suggests interventions rather than gradualism."

Seeing as gradualism by definition is actually by steps, you now quibble over the size of these steps. Well Orrin, what is the exact number of steps and size of each step that are permissible? Instead of seeing the dentary portion of the jaw going from 75% to 80% to 85%, we should see it go 75% to 77.5% to 80% to 82.5% to 85%? What is the exact number at which you would say that the clear requirements of 'gradualism' have been satisfied? What is the threshold?

Why do you consider these to be unacceptably large steps, when at the same time you yourself have claimed to be satisfied that the leap from dust to man is compatible with the idea of gradual evolution?


"Until something is observed to change all of them remain equally likely.

And yet right here something is observed to change... species are changing over time. Reptiles turn to mammals over time. So now some of them are less likely.

Like I said, Intelligent Design simply takes on board the unexplained and claims the undeniable as God's work, without the need to subject itself to the same standards as science (the Lord works in mysterious ways, after all), so of course it is utterly unfalsifiable, by definition.

Biblical literalism is out the window. Nothing wrong with interpreting the bible metaphorically, though.

That Darwinism link in your comment doesn't work for some reason - could you post it as a plain URL please? And of course Darwinism was constructed to make sense of the evidence - that's what science is supposed to do. What's your complaint about that?

Posted by: creeper at March 15, 2005 7:46 PM

Who observed it changing?

Note that you analogize to Creation as well for your version of "gradualism ?" That is indeed what this appears to demonstrate--periodic intervention by someone or something.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 8:03 PM

Creeper:

Excellent link--thanks for posting it.

OJ denies evolution because no one has observed it.

Well, no one has observed a new continent getting formed, but he seems to have no trouble accepting plate tectonics. (And, OJ, please don't start with earthquakes, they are analagous to allele drift in reproductively isolated human populations, for just one example.)

But what strikes me most is the completely shameless lying Creationists/IDers routinely get up to.

Its as if they decided the divine prohibition against bearing false witness doesn't apply to them.

Oh, and when someone complains about the lack of transitional organisms, I can only guess they have never heard of otters.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 15, 2005 9:03 PM

Jeff:

No, I deny that evolution occurs via Natural Selection. No one has observed it.


I believe in plate tectonics. We observe and measure it.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 9:10 PM

"Who observed it changing?"

We did, via the fossil record. Or do you really want to restrict science to just the things that you can observe with the naked eye happening in front of you this instant, even if the subject is something that took place over hundreds of millions of years?

"Note that you analogize to Creation as well for your version of "gradualism ?""

First, it is not "my" version of gradualism. It is the commonly understood version of gradualism; it is a plain English word which we use to communicate. In case you hadn't figured it out, I copied that definition from a dictionary. Why do you always attribute dictionary definitions as being something I made up, when it is routinely you who alters definitions in defiance of their plain meaning?

Second, where did I analogize to Creation? You mean the part where I pointed out the hypocrisy of you counting biblical creation (dust to man, man's rib to woman) as being gradual, but claiming that the gradual change over time from 75% to 80% to 85% of dentary along a jawline are "such large steps" as to make evolution implausible?

That's very clearly not an analogy to Creation, but a comparison of arguments in order to point out the hypocrisy in your argument.

"That is indeed what this appears to demonstrate--periodic intervention by someone or something."

It is entirely compatible with natural evolution. It does not demonstrate any active outside intervention. The only outside intervention this is compatible with is of such a laissez-faire kind as to be non-existent. (You're doing an excellent job of demonstrating this, by the way: "Intelligent Design simply takes on board the unexplained and claims the undeniable as God's work, without feeling the need to subject itself to the same standards as science.")

"I deny that evolution occurs via Natural Selection. No one has observed it."

Microevolution via natural selection has been observed and demonstrated in nature and in lab conditions countless times. If you know of any serious biologist who questions this today, then let's hear it.

Macroevolution takes place over millions and millions of years and can by its nature not be observed happening in front of us in real time in our brief lifetimes, but there is an extensive fossil record. I strongly encourage you to read up on the subject.

If you really think that evolution is just natural selection and you have your quibbles with natural selection being the only thing that causes evolution, well join the club of an extensive number of scientists... about a hundred years ago. They didn't know about genes and such. Then move forward to the 21st century and read up on the state of today's scientific knowledge: the modern evolutionary synthesis.

At this point in human history it would take a very deliberately obtuse person to deny the fact of evolution, given the overwhelming body of evidence for it. Richt now we are merely trying to figure out what mechanisms caused it.

Posted by: creeper at March 16, 2005 2:20 AM

"I believe in plate tectonics. We observe and measure it."

How do you know God doesn't come along right before we measure it and just moves the continents apart another inch?

Posted by: creeper at March 16, 2005 2:21 AM

creeper:

He does. But the plates move.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 7:44 AM

That's not observing.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 7:45 AM

"That's not observing."

Actually, it is... but now you want to rule out the fossil record as a source of evidence?

Posted by: creeper at March 16, 2005 7:59 AM

He does. But the plates move.

And you know this how? Is it in the bible?

Posted by: creeper at March 16, 2005 8:02 AM

The fossil record is evidence that evolution has occurred, not evidence for Evolution.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 8:25 AM

It is also evidence for speciation.

Posted by: creeper at March 16, 2005 8:32 AM

Yes, evolution is speciation. Evolution (capital E) is Darwinism, which seems false from everything we observe.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 8:39 AM

We observe and measure tectonics.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 8:45 AM

"Evolution (capital E) is Darwinism, which seems false from everything we observe."

Let me know when you're willing to catch up and take the modern synthesis on board. Evolution is more than Darwin's theories.

Which part of the modern synthesis do you think you can disprove, and why?

What is it that we can observe that makes it clear that the modern evolutionary synthesis is false? Keep in mind that natural selection is seen and demonstrated quite often.

BTW, I'm pleased to see that you've come on board to see creationism ("belief in the literal interpretation of the account of the creation of the universe and of all living things related in the Bible") disproved. Also that you've moved from "there is no speciation" to "we have seen evidence of speciation".

Posted by: creeper at March 16, 2005 9:00 AM

"We observe and measure tectonics"

Great! Then we should have evidence of those little moments when God suddenly moves the continents around.

Posted by: creeper at March 16, 2005 9:04 AM

You can't disprove it. It isn't science.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 9:06 AM

"You can't disprove it. It isn't science."

I assume by "You can't disprove it", you're referring to potential falsification?

The theory of evolution contains a number of potential falsifications, which I've linked to previously. Does Intelligent Design have any? If not, then you've just conceded Intelligent Design as well as Creationism.

Posted by: creeper at March 16, 2005 9:22 AM

creeper:

Conceded them? The aren't science either.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 10:04 AM

Well thank you for conceding that Intelligent Design is not science and that the evidence available to us does show speciation, something that you've been reluctant to agree with until now.

As for the theory of evolution "not being science", you appear to base this on your belief that the theory of evolution is not potentially falsifiable. This is simply not true, as has been pointed out to you more than once.

Evolution is potentially falsifiable; Intelligent Design is not. This is why the theory of evolution is science, as inconvenient as that may be in the political arena, and Intelligent Design is not.

Posted by: creeper at March 16, 2005 12:52 PM

No, none of them are falsifiable. There's no scientific difference between Creationism, ID, ufology, and Darwinism. All just take existing evidence that speciation has occurred and propose an untestable mechanism. That's why these arguments are generally fruitless.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 1:02 PM

"No, none of them are falsifiable."

If you'll recall, I have posted a link to the potential falsifications of evolutions before.

Posted by: creeper at March 16, 2005 4:28 PM

'evolutions' should read 'the theory of evolution'.

Posted by: creeper at March 16, 2005 4:30 PM

and I to the unfalsifiability.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 4:42 PM

Where? Could you post them again?

Posted by: creeper at March 16, 2005 4:48 PM

Creeper:

As you note, there are many ways evolution could be falsified.

I went through this very discussion with OJ on the hypothetico-deductive nature of Evolutionary Theory.

I must have listed a dozen deductions (I'm sure there are more; I merely reached the limit of my amateur knowledge) in a wide variety of areas that had to be true for naturalistic evolution to be true.

Creationism/ID has exactly zero.

OJ spent the entire discussion attempting to convince the casual observer he has no idea of the difference between induction, deduction, and circularity.

We know better of course. But the motivation to engage in such a shameless display is rather more mysterious.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 16, 2005 5:22 PM

Jeff:

As you'll recall from Of Moths and Men, the main prediction that has to be true for Darwinism to be true is that speciation and morphological change should be occuring continuously in nature (that lifeforms be "steadily changing, and that organisms are transformed in time" that there be "abundant production of genetic variation in every generation" and that "the relatively few individuals who survive, owing to a particularly well-adapted combination of inheritable characters"). It is the failure to find this happening at all that created the pressures that led to both the falsifying of peppered moth data and the delirious reception it received among Darwinists. It's now so thoroughly debunked that even you're aware of the hoax. No other example has ever withstood scrutiny either. Thus we get the ludicrous argument that this happens to be a stasis point in the process.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 5:37 PM

creeper, give it up. It's interesting, though, that tim never came back.

Orrin misrepresents the Biston data, as with everything else. No point in debating someone who won't play by the rules.

Anyhow, if darwinism cannot be falsified, what are Discovery Institute or ICR about? All they do is try to falsify darwinism.

I have not read every post these last couple weeks, but so far as I have, never saw Orrin react to my citation that Jesus admitted natural selection.

Of course, Orrin doesn't buy much else that Jesus said, either, so I guess that's no surprise.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at March 16, 2005 7:47 PM

The moths didn't change.


Jesus was talking about breeding, though I know you guys think that's Natural Selection.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 7:52 PM

OJ:

the main prediction that has to be true for Darwinism to be true is that speciation and morphological change should be occuring continuously in nature

Strawman alert.

First, continuously and quickly are two different things.

Second, evolutionary theory today includes many things of which Darwin could not be aware.

It would be most welcome if you would address evolutionary theory as it stands, not as it was 150 years ago.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 16, 2005 8:06 PM

Jeff:

Yes, whichever you choose it should be happening all the time insterad of never.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 8:13 PM

creeper:

It is most clearly stated thus:

"Someone asked how we determine who are the fittest. The answer came back that we determine this by the test of survival; there is no other criterion. But this means that a species survives because it is the fittest and is the fittest be cause it survives, which is circular reasoning and equivalent to saying that whatever is, is fit. The gist is that some survive and some die, but we knew this at the onset. Nothing has been explained."
—Norman Macbeth

or

"The real problem with Darwin's selection theory, however, is that it can explain everything and therefore, nothing, By logical necessity what survives (or what produces more offspring) is more fit than what doesn't. What is more, it is therefore better adapted, and what is better adapted is therefore `selected for' (or in other words, survives). Of course selection is successful in explaining nature, since the characteristic of tautologies is that they explain everything. And, of course, that is the true measure of selection's appeal."
—D. Rosen, "Darwin's Demon," in Systematic Zoology 27 (1978)

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 9:03 PM

Yes, whichever you choose it should be happening all the time instead of never.

Right, and that is exactly what we have in front of us, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. Why do you have such difficulty comprehending the timescales involved in evolution and speciation?

(And what is this nonsense about 'never'? You even admitted yourself that the fossil record shows evidence of speciation.)

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 4:00 AM

"Survival of the fittest" is a redundant phrase, that's true, but I think that just makes clear how stunningly obvious the concept of "survival of those best equipped to survive" is.

Darwin used it as part of his reasoning (along with variability of traits and offspring inheriting traits from their progenitors) to argue that over time, organisms will evolve to favor traits more suited to survival.

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 4:07 AM

Orrin,

I'm curious how you manage to contain the notion that "natural selection is unfalsifiable" and the notion that "natural selection is obviously false" in your head at the same time.

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 4:36 AM

creeper:

It's only unfalsifiable via Reason, a quite limited tool.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 7:40 AM

creeper:

Using more words to say the exact same thing doesn't get you out of the tautology.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 7:41 AM

"It's only unfalsifiable via Reason, a quite limited tool."

Potential falsification is a test used specifically in a scientific context, which I assume you mean by 'Reason' (if you mean something else, please provide what you specifically understand by 'Reason' with a capital R). Having been made aware of the blatant contradiction in your arguments, you now wish to flee to some other domain.

Just out of curiosity, to what domain were you hoping to flee, and in which domain or using which 'less limited tool' is natural selection unfalsifiable, and why?

Since you have not presented anything to back up your claims that natural selection is 'obviously false', I have to assume you're conceding the point, hence answering my question how you keep such contradictory notions in your head: one of them appears to be a (possibly deliberate) untruth on your part.

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 10:00 AM

"The moths didn't change."

I'm pretty sure you're aware that the moths did change. The question is why

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 10:30 AM

creeper:

No, they didn't.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 10:47 AM

creeper:

to run an experiment on Evolutiuon, the normal scientific method, is to prove Intelligent Design, rather than Natural Selection, so it isn't provable via Science either.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 10:50 AM

"to run an experiment on Evolutiuon, the normal scientific method, is to prove Intelligent Design, rather than Natural Selection"

How does a lab experiment on, say, natural selection or gene sequences, prove the existence and involvement of God?

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 11:41 AM

It doesn't it proves that evolution will function via intelligent design.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 11:48 AM

I figured you incorrectly capitalized intelligent design in that claim.

Some mechanisms and elements of the theory of evolution can be examined or demonstrated in a lab or controlled setting, but many others can also be observed in nature, without artificial control.

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 12:10 PM

Could, were it true, but they aren't.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 12:13 PM

How do you know that?

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 12:22 PM

Observation, a key component of the scientific method.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 12:25 PM

Sounds mighty vague.

Okay, what did you observe that makes you know that?

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 12:31 PM

creeper:

I have no problem with you believing in things not seen, all faiths require that.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 12:35 PM

That's not even a good deflection.

What did you observe that makes you know that?

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 12:38 PM

Everything we observe demonstrates it. You believe in what you don't see. It's a faith.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 12:40 PM

"it [in reference to "a lab experiment on, say, natural selection or gene sequences"] proves that evolution will function via intelligent design"

Does it prove that evolution can only function via intelligent design?

If so, how?

Don't run away talking about faith. You were making a claim that certain experiments 'proved' something.

Now back it up.

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 12:48 PM

Because we'd have evolved something via intelligent design.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 12:54 PM

Maybe there is some taxonomic issue regarding 'species' or 'variation within species', but I spot a distinct evolution between the Australopithecus Amarensis on the left of the diagram to the Homo sapiens on the right. And look at that, Professor Hennenberg also says so in the article.

So there, human beings did not stop evolving 4 million years ago.

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 1:02 PM

Oops, sorry... wrong thread.

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 1:04 PM

"Because we'd have evolved something via intelligent design."

Meaning we would have created an entirely new species in the lab, using the principles of natural selection?

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 1:08 PM

see, you do get it.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 1:11 PM

Just thought I'd make sure that's what you meant.

Well, given that due to the time scales involved in evolution and number of generations involved, experiments are naturally confined to organisms with as short a lifespan as possible. Hence the endless fruitfly experiments that you like to poke fun at.

New species (by biological definition) have been created in the lab, and such instances are not terribly difficult to find on the Internet eg. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html

If you're expecting somehow for a lab experiment in which cow is turned into a pig, I don't think anyone is currently attempting such a feat, not least due to the fact that anything approximating that would take millions of years.

Posted by: creeper at March 17, 2005 1:22 PM

creeper:

You'll note those are all intelligent design, not natural selection and aren'speciation. For instance, the fruit flies show a preference, but can still crossbreed.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 1:29 PM

How is the mustard seed falling among the tares or stones an example of breeding?

Matt 13:31 is the most succinct description of Natural Selection ever written. Even Darwin didn't do it better.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at March 17, 2005 4:59 PM

At last there's something we agree on:

"he kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field."

So too is evolution a prodiuct of intelligent design.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 5:10 PM
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