Heckler’s Veto: Latest Tool To Suppress Dissent From Darwinism On College Campuses

by Casey Luskin - Guest Column on October 24, 2013

OPINION

Many Americans find their introduction to the debate over evolution by watching Inherit the Wind, a movie based upon the Scopes Trial from 1925 which casts Darwin-skeptics as constantly trying to shut down scientific discussion. Today, in 2013, the situation is very different – what Justice Scalia once called “Scopes-in-reverse.”

Academic freedom is now threatened for credible scientists to teach and publish dissent from neo-Darwinian theory. I’m not talking about Uncle Joe who runs the Bible-science museum out in Montana. And I am not merely complaining about a lack of academic freedom at the high school level. I’m talking about scientists who work at, and hold Ph.D.’s from, the same research establishments as leading evolutionary biologists.

Some of the most prominent examples of discrimination against Darwin-doubting scientists in the past decade have occurred at respected institutions like Iowa State University, the Smithsonian, and Jet Propulsion Lab. Indeed, three recent incidents show this is a growing trend that isn’t going away.

In June of 2011, scientists from around the world convened at Cornell University to present original research which challenged the ability of neo-Darwinian evolution to create new biological information. Those papers were then collected into a peer-reviewed volume, Biological Information: New Perspectives, scheduled to be published by Springer-Verlag, one of the top scientific publishing houses in the world.

Materialists often charge that proponents of intelligent design don’t publish peer-reviewed scientific research. But in this case they didn’t praise these ID-friendly scientists for meeting high standards. Instead, they tried to censor them.

In February 2012, just before the book was about to go to print, a popular pro-Darwin blog discovered the Cornell volume being offered for sale on Springer’s website. In a short post titled “Springer gets suckered by creationist pseudoscience,” UC Berkeley graduate student Nick Matzke insinuated threats of an economic boycott against Springer if they published anything by these “cranks.”

Inspired by Matzke’s call to action, Darwin defenders on the Internet fumed that the prestigious company would dare publish a book endorsing ID, and pressured the publisher to abandon the project. A few months later, Springer cancelled the publication contract and refused to publish the book.

This past spring, Eric Hedin, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Ball State University, was quietly teaching a course he’d taught since 2007. Titled “The Boundaries of Science,” the interdisciplinary course aimed to “give a scientifically accurate introduction to the origin and development of the physical universe (cosmology) which has led up to the formation of Earth as a uniquely suitable environment to support life.” As part of this investigation, the course would allow students to learn about intelligent design.

In April, University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, a leading “new atheist,” learned about Hedin’s course. He stated on his blog, Why Evolution is True, that the class “violates the First Amendment” because it’s “heavily larded with the works of Intelligent Design advocates.”

Stirred by Coyne, angry ID-critics bombarded BSU with e-mails urging the university to cancel the course. The Freedom from Religion Foundation got involved, charging the class “crosses ethical and constitutional lines” because it failed to emphasize that “[t]he vast majority of scientists are nonreligious and many take the view that science disproves a creator-god.” Under implied threats of an impending lawsuit, they pressed the university to investigate and cancel the course.

Ball State administrators got the memo. On July 31, president Jo Ann Gora announced a speech code prohibiting ID from being taught in BSU science classrooms since that “would fail to accurately represent the consensus of science scholars.”

This past August, Stanley Wilson was scheduled to teach a non-credit, personal enrichment course, “Evolution vs Intelligent Design,” in the continuing education program at Amarillo College in North Texas.

You can guess what happened next.

The president of a local atheist group, euphemistically named the “Freethought Oasis,” boasted on Facebook that the “course on Intelligent Design has been cancelled following my meeting with the VP of Academic Affairs.” We don’t know exactly what was said at that meeting, but in a news article soon thereafter, the administration claimed they scuttled the course because of fears “there could be a disruption.”

These incidents mark a disturbing trend. Darwin defenders – from elite scientists to rank-and-file activists – are using a heckler’s veto to intimidate academic institutions into shutting down scientific inquiry over life’s origins.

The incidents begin when scientific skeptics of Darwinian evolution merely seek to publish or teach their views, but then follow a predictable arc. Darwin defenders demand – under penalty of threats of making a great fuss – that ID-friendly viewpoints must be suppressed. Wary of controversy and offending the wrong people, academic institutions quickly cave to the censors.

People who are confident the evidence is on their side don’t normally seek to deny academic freedom to those who hold dissenting viewpoints. But students and the public are losing out on important opportunities to investigate the how humans arose.

The real loser, however, is free speech and freedom of scientific inquiry. In their eager crusade to shut down scientific debate over evolution, Darwin Lobbyists may be sacrificing the very values that undergird our free and prosperous society.

Casey Luskin is an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law. He works as Research Coordinator at Discovery Institute and is also a senior editor at Salvo Magazine. This is an original column written exclusively for The College Fix.

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  • Nullifidian

    Hi, Casey!

    It’s a novel experience to see you leaving your paranoid dribblings where, unlike at Evolution News and Views, people have the ability to reply.

    Some of the most prominent examples of discrimination against
    Darwin-doubting scientists in the past decade have occurred at respected
    institutions like Iowa State University, the Smithsonian, and Jet
    Propulsion Lab.

    So your prime examples are Guillermo Gonzalez, Richard Sternberg, and David Coppedge.

    Gonzalez was unproductive at ISU by any metric you care to name (papers published, first author publications, mentoring students, collaborating with fellow scientists, telescope time, grants awarded, etc.). When the cdesign proponentsists undertake to defend Gonzalez, they always point to his publication record from his days as a postdoc and at the University of Washington, when he was still collaborating with his postdoc contacts. However, ISU isn’t concerned about what he did at another institution, but what he did while on his probationary period there. Answer: not enough to justify giving him tenure. Tenure isn’t a guarantee for just sitting on your ass for three to five years. You actually have to do something to earn it. Gonzalez’s failure to get tenure is his own damn fault.

    Now, turning to Sternberg. Nothing happened to this man. He had an unpaid research position that allowed him access to an office and to the specimens held by the Smithsonian. He did not lose access to his office or to his specimens. He and the other cdesign proponentsists made a big deal about him having to give back his keys, but they didn’t mention the fact that this was pursuant to a reorganization affecting 16 other people and 20 offices. It’s like claiming that I was thrown out of my last apartment because I had to give back the keys when I moved out. The fact that I had a new place to move into all lined up should prevent anyone from weeping for my plight. They also claim he was ‘forced’ to step down as the editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, even though Sternberg knew full well that it was a rotating position and his term as editor was soon coming to an end. That’s what made him pull this stunt. And let’s look into what Sternberg did that allegedly led to this ‘persecution’. As editor of the PBSW, he used the opportunity to force a wholly irrelevant article into the journal, bypassing not only the basic standards for his job as editor (whose first task is to ensure the relevance of the article to the focus of the journal), but also the basic standards of peer review for that journal, which required the participation of an associate editor in the process. Sternberg behaved deviously and underhandedly, and now whines that his devious and underhanded behavior was found out.

    Lastly, David Coppedge lost his suit for religious discrimination. I’m pleased to see that the Discovery Institute, through its paid mouthpiece, thinks that handing out creationist videos to his colleagues (Creation: A Key to Dynamic Witnessing, The Creation Answers Book, Creation Astronomy, From Atheist to Creationist, etc. are some of the video offerings one can buy through Coppedge’s site, Creation Revolution) amounts to a “credible” scientific contribution. In reality, Coppedge was let go as part of a downsizing scheme because he refused to keep his skills updated (Coppedge isn’t a scientist, contrary to Luskin’s assertion, but a sysadmin). The court ruled against every claim made by Coppedge and every objection filed by his attorneys.

    So there you have “the most prominent examples of discrimination”, according to Luskin himself: one unproductive time-server, one man who wasn’t punished for his devious subversion of the journal he served as editor in any way, and a creationist sysadmin who refused to update his skills and whined to the courts when he got fired, but whose charges he couldn’t adequately defend in his lawsuit. Bravo, Luskin. Thanks for confirming, by the weakness of your examples and the willingness to include a creationist sysadmin pestering his colleagues with videos, that ID is indistinguishable from creationism, that there is no real science there but only propaganda, and that IDiots aren’t being persecuted at all.

    • Bill

      imwrotemto every ISU prof who signed the petition and none knew much or any science.

    • Noremacam
      • Timothy Horton

        No, the IDiots over at the DI never get tired of lying.

        They’re paid professional prevaricators. Lying is what they do.

        • KDude

          Much like the left and its president….

      • Nullifidian

        It’s difficult to avoid ‘lying’ when Evolution News and Views is your standard for ‘truth’.

        I find it amusing that you’re citing an article written by Luskin to support the claims that Luskin makes. Luskin can’t possibly be lying—he says so himself!

        But he is, alas. Not only is he engaging in quote-mining, and obscuring which period of tenure denial we’re talking about—there were two, the first in 2004 after his first three-year probationary period expired, which is why John Hauptman speaks of an “initial vote”: he voted to deny tenure in 2004, but not in 2007, when he wasn’t on the committee—but in many of the quotes he can’t even find what he needs in the original text, so he papers over the lack of material by making things up out of whole cloth. Take, for example, this little tidbit:

        “John Clem, ISU physicist:

        “Then: Apparently Clem prejudges Gonzalez’s tenure case because of ID, stating: ‘Many of us here at Iowa State are embarrassed by the work of Guillermo Gonzalez, who with Jay Richards published the book “The Privileged Planet.” … I now feel that publication of such a statement might become the most important piece of evidence in a successful court case to guarantee tenure to the person whose scientific credibility we would be attempting to discredit. … As for the unfortunate publicity we are receiving and the embarrassment we feel as a department, I think the best policy is to just grin and bear it for the next couple of years.’”

        But this has nothing to do with Gonzalez’s case for tenure! It’s in response to the proposed petition that was circulating around ISU to clarify the faculty’s position on intelligent design. Clem fears that signing such a petition might prejudice the case if it ever came to court, and suggests just bearing with Gonzalez and weathering the bad publicity for “the next couple of years”. Even if The Privileged Planet had formed part of the discussion for tenure, Gonzalez opened that door himself by including this publication in his tenure packet!

        Furthermore, the DI’s attack mouse goes on to defend Gonzalez on the subject of grants by claiming that “…he has a $50,000 grant from Discovery Institute….” and that “Gonzalez’s ID book, The Privileged Planet, was written by a grant funded by the prestigious Templeton Foundation….” If this is supposed to be a defense of Gonzalez’s grant-winning abilities, then surely it’s not beyond the pale for the tenure committee to inquire into where the money comes from and why. Or are they supposed to be like robber barons who don’t care where the money comes from as long as they have got it? Incidentally, Luskin is lying here, trying to drag the Templeton Foundation into this squabble as an ID supporter. In fact, the Templeton Foundation explicitly denied that they had funded Gonzalez’s ID book, stating that the funding was for another subject entirely.

        Here’s what they have to say about the matter, through their subsidiary FQXi:

        “An important example is Guillermo Gonzalez, an astronomer with the University of Washington, who recently published The Privileged Planet with Regenry, the publishing arm of the Discovery Institute. In 2000, Dr. Gonzalez received Templeton funding in a program overseen by the current Scientific Director of FQXi, Max Tegmark. At the time of his award, Dr. Gonzalez had not publicly revealed his association with ID, and none of the scientific reviewers of his grant application knew of his sympathy with ID. Dr. Gonzalez’s grant application prevailed over other qualified candidates in a fair competition, independent of JTF, using standard, rigorous peer reviewing methodology. The Privileged Planet has nonetheless been subsequently and wrongly attributed directly to JTF in public comments, along with the incorrect implication that JTF supports ID.”

        They go on to say that “[i]t is the view of FQXi that Intelligent Design is at best very poor science driven largely by a political agenda. We emphatically reject both.”

        The timing of his funding also needs to be highlighted. The Discovery Institute makes a big deal of the fact that he was awarded a four-year NASA grant for $64,000 from 2001-2004 and one of equal length funded by the JTF for $58,000 (2000-2003), and the only other one is a five-year $50,000 grant from the Discovery Institute which was awarded in 2007, the year of Gonzalez’s tenure review, which was obviously a last-minute grant intended to game the system by strengthening his position for tenure. But it was too little too late, and you know why? Because during his six years at ISU, there were NO grants awarded from any scientific institutions. There were spillover grants that were applied to and granted during his time at the University of Washington, but his grants ran out in 2004, and were pitifully small in any case. Between 2004 and 2007, he had no sources of funding until the Discovery Institute stepped in. How could he have been a productive scientist? How could he have supported graduate students, whose stipends are often paid out of grants? Answer is: he couldn’t. The absence of major grants, and finally the absence of any grants at all, while not dispositive, is a strong indicator of his fundamental lack of substance as a scientist.

        Just like their crowing about Gonzalez’s “68 peer-reviewed publications” (I count only 61 in total so I have no idea where they get this figure, unless they’re counting Privileged Planet and other BS written for their in-house journals, which don’t count as peer-reviewed), only fourteen of which were written while he was at ISU and of which he was only first author on three, the institution you’re seeking tenure for doesn’t give a damn about what you did elsewhere, but what your record is as a scholar there and the likelihood of continuing (or not) to be a productive scholar while at that institution.

        Before I close this lengthy rebuttal, I just want to point out one other form of misrepresentation that the DI cynically employs. They evaluate Gonzalez’s output not against untenured ISU professors, but against those with tenure. But Gonzalez didn’t have tenure, so the two figures aren’t remotely comparable. It is an acknowledged fact at the university level that tenured members take on more administrative responsibilities than their untenured colleagues, therefore their productivity as measured by papers published declines even while their workload stays the same or even increases. A person similarly unburdened should be attracting more grants and publishing more papers in general. Considering that in his six years at ISU, Gonzalez attracted no grants excluding the last-minute one from the DI and only published 14 papers in total, for an average of 2.33 papers a year and one first-author paper once every two years, I doubt very much if he was competitive even with his tenured colleagues, let alone his untenured ones, whatever the Discovery Institute’s propaganda arm might say.

    • E.G

      “Gonzalez was unproductive at ISU by any metric you care to name (papers published, first author publications, mentoring students, collaborating with fellow scientists, telescope time, grants awarded, etc.)”

      This is a complicated world. Different people, different views. John West seems to have a different take on this issue of Gonzalez’s performance:
      http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/07/setting_the_rec074301.html

      • Timothy Horton

        John West is the head of the Disco Tute, the organization of professional liars who started the whole ID charade and the “Expelled” bullshit in the first place. Citing the source of the lies to prop up the lies doesn’t work.

      • Nullifidian

        Yes, but there’s a slight problem here in that John West is lying. I’ve already debunked the lies in my response to Noremacam above. West inflates the number of journal articles Gonzalez published while at ISU (adding 11 to Gonzalez’s actual 14, while Luskin was comparatively restrained in only adding 7 to Gonzalez’s actual total of 61), he lies about the amount of “outside grants while at ISU” and doesn’t reveal the fact that Gonzalez’s only “outside” source of grants while at ISU was from the very institution where West is vice president and only was awarded in 2007 immediately before his application for tenure came up for review (as I said above, most likely to game the system), he only cites other Discovery Institute propaganda for support (many of them his own articles—John West can’t be lying because John West backs him up!), and most of his assertions comparing Gonzalez to his colleagues aren’t backed up by any evidence at all.

        For example, “In fact, Dr. Gonzalez had more peer-reviewed journal articles than all but 5 faculty granted tenure at ISU between 2003 and 2007!” But where’s the evidence for this? There’s absolutely none beyond West’s word. As I pointed out above, when you average Gonzalez’s 14 publications over 6 years, you get an average publication rate of 2.33 publications a year and a first-authored publication once every two years (he only published three while at ISU). Does he seriously expect us to believe that this is better than all but five of Gonzalez’s colleagues? Even if West is telling the “truth”, it may be a “technical truth in order to tell a substantive lie”, to use a phrase Dr. Peter Steinberger of Reed employed to describe the output of David Horowitz. One way this statement could be true, but a substantive lie, is that tenure at ISU comes up for review once every three years. Gonzalez could rack up more publications over 6 years than another researcher could in 3, but still lag in the average amount of publications per year (e.g. a scientist who publishes a scientific paper every quarter would have 12 publications at the end of her three-year probationary period), which is why this is the relevant comparison. The amount of first-authored publications is also a factor, because it generally means that you were leading the research. But considering that West nearly doubles the number of papers Gonzalez published while at ISU, it’s impossible to say if his ‘analysis’ (assuming he did any) was honest in the first place.

        A similar problem faces his claim that Gonzalez took in “more grant money than 35% of ISU faculty granted tenure in 2007 whose CVs listed grant dollars.” First off, he gets that figure by adding in grants awarded before Gonzalez came to ISU, and he doesn’t link to his sources for comparison, so we cannot tell how it was judged, or even if any comparison were done at all. Were the comparison professors also scientists, or in the humanities where grants are generally less because less money is needed? (Incidentally, this is another potential substantive lie of West’s: he ignores the department average of $1.3 million—indeed, even denies that it exists—so one can only conclude he’s averaging over the whole university.) Who were the professors compared? Was any data thrown out? How representative are these people? And so on and so on. West’s assertions here are worse than useless.

        His analysis certainly wasn’t honest when he claimed that Gonzalez’s record was 350% better than the 15 papers the department required. Not only does he lie (with Luskin) about the total number of papers, claiming seven more than Gonzalez published in total, but pretends as if papers published elsewhere factor into the analysis of the tenure committee. Well, I’ve done practically nothing here, but I was really productive once upon a time! is not the sort of thing that wins resounding support for your tenure bid. Ironically, by pointing out ISU’s own figure for papers published—which, despite his claims to the contrary, does represent a minimum standard—he shows inadvertently that Gonzalez didn’t meet it. He only had 14 publications over a total of 6 years, while tenure review is once every three. His maths is also wonky, because 68 is 4.53 times 15, but that’s irrelevant since Gonzalez didn’t publish 68 papers by 2007 and ISU was largely concerned with papers published between 2002-2007, when he was at ISU. Still, you have to wonder how West fails to realize that 4 * 15 is 60.

        This is a consistent problem with the claims made by the Disco ‘tute: unverifiable claims based on comparisons according to unknown methods that always seem to ignore the fact that tenure is bestowed by the members of one’s department, not the university as a whole, therefore departmental standards apply, not averages from across the university.

        Finally, it brings up the obvious question, as yet unanswered: if this case were as unambiguously a wrongful denial of tenure and subversion of the principle of academic freedom as the Discoveroids claim, then why hasn’t Gonzalez filed his ironclad tenure denial lawsuit? You can’t tell me it’s because the Discoveroids aren’t litigious! I’m laughing at the very idea.

    • Peter Gorman

      Thank you for the fact checking. The world is a slightly better place now.

  • Timothy Horton

    LOL! Looks like Casey Luskin, the DI’s famous attack gerbil, is back with his usual load of Creationist bullshit and propaganda.

    Guess what Gerbs – “academic freedom” doesn’t give you the right to teach Holocaust denial, or a flat Earth, or Biblical Creationists rebranded as “Intelligent Design”. The only way any science gets into a science classroom is by EARNING its way in. It has to provide its own testable hypotheses , has to be falsifiable, has to provide its own own positive evidence, and has to withstand critical review from experts in the field. You IDiots have none of that, not even a sniff.

    Go ahead and push the woeful ignorance and stupidity of Meyer, Behe, and Dembski, all laughingstocks of the scientific world. Make up more meaningless undefined alphabet soup like CSI and dFSCI. Watch your lying asses get booted from court room after court room. Act all butthurt when the scientific community first ridicules you, then ignores you.

    • an observer

      The tone of these comments says a great deal.

      • Timothy Horton

        an observer

        The tone of these comments says a great deal.

        Indeed it does. It says many of us in the scientific community are sick and tired of having to deal with the nonstop lies and propaganda provided by those like Gerbil Luskin here. We’re fed up with having to waste real time and real money defending ourselves against scurrilous and baseless accusations by a bunch of ignorant Liars-For-Jesus with a political agenda to push. Of having these assholes who have never done a days’ research in their lives telling everyone that professional scientists are incompetent, or deliberate frauds in our work, or both.

        Damn right we have an attitude.

        • an observer

          I can understand your frustration. Unfortunately, simply venting your frustration as you are doing does nothing to solve your problem. Preaching to the choir may give you a sense of satisfaction, but it only adds to the resolve of those you view as your enemies. ‘Name calling’ serves only to indicate a lack of cogent arguments on your part. I’m not saying that you in fact lack cogent arguments, only that you would be better off using them.

          • Timothy Horton

            I hear you, but come back after you’ve had two solid decades of a bunch of lying ignoramuses attacking your work and calling you an incompetent fraud then lecture me on my tone.

            The scientific literature is full of cogent arguments and data. The Liars-For-Jesus here like Gerbil and the DI love to scream “discrimination!!” but they won’t allow any of the clear scientific rebuttals to be published on their websites.

          • KDude

            Can you possibly make one post without being insulting? I know you are a liberal and all.. but can you try?

        • Steve

          Translation: “Many in the scientific community are sick and tired of having to defend pseudo-scientific blind faith in the efficacy of evolution from people who don’t follow our dumb religious worship of neo-Darwinism and actually do real science.”

          It must be so difficult having your ignorant, biased, and uneducated faith in the god of Evolution questioned. The modern evolutionist is functionally equivalent to a 15th century catholic. At least today it’s illegal for evolutionists to burn their critics at the stake, although I’m sure, given your desperation and burning hate, you would if you could.

          • Timothy Horton

            LOL! Of course besides the professional Liars-For-Jesus we also get the desperately ignorant mouth-breathing Fundy amateurs like Steve here. These ones aren’t necessarily lying about the scientific evidence supporting ToE, they’re just too lazy to learn what the theory actually says and/or too stupid to understand it. The thought that maybe they weren’t “Specially Created” frightens them no end. Thus they blindly lash out on sites like these against the imaginary threat to their Fundy religious beliefs.

          • Steve

            For a so-called “scientific” mind, your post is full of dumb, baseless assumptions. But that’s what comes out of inferior intellect, isn’t it? Always bringing up the “Christians don’t know science” straw-man while proving with your comments you couldn’t pass a 2nd grade science class. Your foaming rants on the topic are yawn worthy. You’re just the typical, uneducated evolution fundimentalist (yea, nice try hijacking that from my first post, you’re not even intelligent enough to be original). Maybe that’s why no one takes your desperate and incoherent defenses of evolution seriously. See, to do science, you have to be capable of making logical points, and all I’m seeing from you is a whole lot of mentally deficient gibberish.

          • Nullifidian

            Why should he be providing any detailed argument when you don’t bother to do so? The only thing one can infer that you know about evolution from what you’ve written is how to spell it. Why don’t you provide a substantive critique of evolution—if you have one—and then you might find substantive replies.

          • Steve

            I don’t need to provide a detailed argument. ID has been providing a substantive critique of evolution for at least 20 years. Tim’s response to this critique, as far as I can tell, has been to foam at the mouth and make religion-baiting slurs about Christians.

            As far as your inference, given my background, I’m pretty sure I know a lot more about evolution than likely you or Tim, but that’s really irrelevant. It’s the internet, so I could be king of Mars. My point is that Tim, like most rabid evolutionists, don’t actually have any good arguments discrediting ID. He just does a lot of dumb yelling about the ‘evils’ of Christians, creationism and Jesus, which he thinks is somehow a valid substitute for an actual argument against ID.

          • Nullifidian

            I don’t need to provide a detailed argument.

            If you mean “need to” as in you can survive without doing this, you’re probably right, but if you expect to be taken seriously then you do need to provide a substantive argument.

            ID has been providing a substantive critique of evolution for at least 20 years.

            The fact that you think this shows clearly that you don’t understand much of anything about evolution.

            As far as your inference, given my background, I’m pretty sure I know a lot more about evolution than likely you or Tim, but that’s really irrelevant. It’s the internet, so I could be king of Mars.

            Unfortunately, the issue isn’t who you are or what your background is, but what your level of knowledge is. So far you’ve not given any indication that you know anything about evolution, regardless of your background.

            If you want an argument against ID, how about this one: it’s useless. In over 20 years of propagandizing, not a single one of them has ever provided a detailed explanation of how any biological system emerged as the result of intelligent designed, or explained anything about this design process. It’s all been purely negative arguments against evolution, which themselves fail because the IDiots don’t understand evolution any better than you do. Chief among their intellectual sins is their insistence that it’s either design or natural selection (and then employing a caricature of natural selection that doesn’t match the real thing), while ignoring the fact that neutral and nearly neutral theory have been incorporated into evolutionary theory for over four decades.

          • Steve

            “The fact that you think this shows clearly that you don’t understand much if anything about evolution.”

            You’re confusing the biased value judgement of evolutionists with unanswered factual challenges to the claims of evolution. I realize what evolutionists think, but that’s like a priest claiming that there has been no substantive critique of catholic doctrine. The critique is there, that many biologists don’t acknowledge it isn’t particularly relevant.

            Nevertheless, I don’t think that a bachelor’s degree in computer information technology from DeVry is likely to give you a more comprehensive background in biology than I’ve had by actually studying and researching in biology.

            My degree is not relevant to my background in this area, besides the small benefit that my understanding of computer science makes the parallel between biological information and programming code far clearer than for you, perhaps. I’ve studied the philosophy of science, and specifically the philosophical assumptions of evolution in depth for about 6 years. I’ve heard all the arguments, and I’ve debated a number of biologists on the topic.

            The problem with biologists, I’ve found, is that biology is very much an observational science, with weak emphasis on objective criteria and test-ability, and an even weaker emphasis on deductive reasoning. This gives biologists a huge blind-spot when it comes to evolution; which is demonstrated as a tendency to make huge leaps of faith from small pieces of evidence to grandiose and untestable conclusions. So while your education may have given you a good background in the technical aspects of genetics, or whatever your focus might be, I wouldn’t immediately consider you credible when discussing evolution. Now, obviously, your credibility on this topic also depends greatly on other factors about your background that I know nothing about, so I’d reserve judgement until we’ve discussed further.

            On the other hand, you’re not foaming at the mouth like Tim Horton, so that’s a good start. :)

            Chief among their intellectual sins is their insistence that it’s either design or natural selection

            Those are the only two scientific theories in competition regarding the origin and development of life. No one is “insisting” that it’s either one or the other, there just isn’t a third option. If you want to propose one, go ahead. Otherwise, trying to blame ID theorists for working within the framework of the existing theories is just a little desperate.

            and then employing a caricature of natural selection that bears no resemblance to the real concept—e.g. Behe’s analogy of a singlegroundhog trying to cross the entire Schuylkill Expressway

            Behe’s illustration of natural selection is accurate. The caricatures come from evolutionists who either don’t understand or choose to ignore to rational implications of their belief. Evolutionists don’t like ID theorists’ examples because ID theorists draw the assumptions of natural selection to their ultimate conclusion, which exposes the idea of natural selection to be idiotic and absurd.

          • Timothy Horton

            More farting and blustering from Steve, still too stupid to understand that “Science can’t explain it yet so ID wins by default” is a worthless false dichotomy. Still relying on dumb inappropriate analogies as his entire ID argument. Still too stupid to understand that all scientific ideas must provide
            their own positive evidence and ID has none. Zero.
            Squat. Zilch. Nada.

            Par for the course for the religiously motivated and scientifically ignorant cdesignproponentist. :D

          • Nullifidian

            You’re confusing the biased value judgement of evolutionists with unanswered factual challenges to the claims of evolution.

            No, I’m basing my assessment of their quality of arguments, which demonstrate their ignorance of the last half century of work in evolutionary theory, or even more fundamental ignorance like confusing phylogenetics with population genetics (and then not having an accurate picture of either). As for the claim that their arguments are unanswered, that is simply false. Every single argument they’ve made has been picked to pieces multiple times in multiple places. If you reject the rebuttals, then you must show why they fail, not just waive them away with a flick of your hand.

            My degree is not relevant to my background in this area, besides the small benefit that my understanding of computer science makes the parallel between biological information and programming code far clearer than for you, perhaps.

            Yes, I must admit that my background in molecular genetics and knowing how genomes actually work has definitely made the parallel between biological information and programming code considerably less clear.

            I’ve studied the philosophy of science, and specifically the philosophical assumptions of evolution in depth for about 6 years.

            Great. I’ve studied the philosophy of science too, and my background came from reading and studying under actual philosophers of science, not from IDists who whine about the “naturalistic” assumptions of evolutionary biology (not unique to biology alone, and a strange thing to be concerned about if you’re not presenting ID as a supernaturalistic alternative).

            I’ve heard all the arguments….

            But do you have refutations for all of them? That’s the big question. I’d also accept a demonstration that ID can explain all the evidence currently explained by evolution, which is the bare minimum one would expect of a replacement theory.

            [snip material insulting the intelligence of at least 1/3rd of the world's scientists]

            This gives biologists, especially evolutionary biologists, a huge blind-spot when it comes to evolution; which is demonstrated as a tendency to make huge leaps of faith from small pieces of evidence to grandiose and untestable conclusions.

            I thought you said that you’d studied philosophy of science. If you had, you’d have known that verificationism (or following A. J. Ayer, “strong” verificationism) is a dead letter in phil sci. So is the notion that only direct observation and experience is valid criterion. So can you point to what’s actually wrong with evolution and how doing it “right” by your lights would yield a different answer? Finally, can you show that doing it “right” would be productive?

            That’s because ID would get accused (even more so than now) of being a cover for theology.

            Why should it be accused of that if ID isn’t a variant of creationism?

            Making an argument for the process of design implies that you know something about the designer, which is something ID theorists want to stay away from.

            But why should they want to if it’s purely a scientific theory? Surely knowing everything we possibly can about the process of design is important, right?

            Further, it’s not necessary to prove how in order to infer design. (The only reason that evolution is required to prove “how” is because is denies design in what appears to be design. Evolution has to explain how something looks designed but isn’t.) ID doesn’t have to explain how something that looks designed was actually designed to prove it was designed (although that would be a nice bonus).

            Actually, yes it does, because ID proposes that design occurred when, to all evidence, there were no designers around. This poses something of a problem for widespread acceptance of ID theory. Moreover, they propose ongoing acts of design that at various times have included the fundamental laws and constants of the universe (13.7 Ga), the origin of the solar system (4.6 Ga), the origin of life (3.5-3.8 Ga), the origin of eukaryotes (c. 2 Ga), the origin and diversification of animal life (600 – 800 Ma to the scientists, a five-million-year period in the Atdabanian stage to Stephen Meyer), the origin of the vertebrate clotting cascade (c. 500 Ma), the origin of bird flight (c. 150 Ma), to the evolution of humans (6 Ma to present). It would be very important to know what kind of designer can stick around for this long and show such single-minded, even obsessive, application in designing things for the benefit of the residents of a utterly insignificant little blue-green planet orbiting a small, unregarded yellow sun in the uncharted backwaters of the western spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. There’s only one proposed entity with the lifespan and obsession with Earth that I know of, and it rhymes with “Todd”. If Rhymes-with-Todd isn’t the designer, or at least not necessarily, then what else could it be? And yes, it is necessary to prove that something that looks designed was actually designed, because “looks designed” is not an irrefragable scientific fact. It is a subjective assessment that was made back in the era when everybody believed (or kept quiet if they didn’t) that Rhymes-with-Todd was the creator and sustainer of the universe and people with a vested interest in the story were attempting to perpetuate it by writing books like Natural Theology. If ID wants to disassociate itself from this era of creationism, then it can’t take that era’s assessments for granted, but must demonstrate their empirical basis.

            Imagine if an archaeologist found a tablet in the desert. It was cut in a square, and had an organized pattern of scribbles resembling a language cut into the front face. Given that we know that perfect squares rarely form on accident, and that language is typically a hallmark of intelligence, the archaeologist would be quite rational to
            assume that the tablet was a product of some intelligence.

            But this is not how archaeologists work. Like Paley before you, you insist on the fallacy that it’s possible to simply know as an act of revelation that an object was designed, even while ignoring the basis of comparison you must make. Paley postulated a watch. How do you know it’s a watch? By comparing it with other watches. You postulate a tablet with language-like etchings. How do you know it’s a language? By comparing it with the known examples of other languages (which is exactly what your archaeologist would then start doing). At each stage in the process, you can only infer design by reference to the works of known entities capable of designing these things. If no known entities capable of designing the thing under question existed during the period the thing was allegedly “made”, then that is a strong argument against the design hypothesis.

            We aren’t sure how the pyramids were made.

            If by we you mean you and a couple other non-experts you may know, that is true. But if by “we” you mean archaeologists, that is not true. We know where the limestone was quarried, we know how the blocks were removed and hauled to the building site, we know how ramps and scaffolding were erected around the building site to assist in moving these blocks to the upper levels, and we have tools and graffiti from the work crews left over at the building sites. ID, in this analogy, is taking the Erich von Däniken route and claiming that we can’t ascribe the pyramids to any earthly mechanism, therefore we have to postulate alien intervention.

            Does that mean they are the product of environmental forces? Of course not.

            There are pyramids on Mars too. Are those also not the product of environmental forces? If no, please explain your reasoning. Plenty of people have made a “design inference” about those pyramids and also the so-called “Face on Mars”. Is their design inference a false one? Would it be because there are no known designers who could have put pyramids and supposedly man-like sculptures on the face of Mars?

            Not exactly. A lack of arguments for “how” something might have been designed is not equivalent to a lack of positive arguments for ID. ID has proposed a number of good and functional criteria for identifying design, and those are positive arguments for ID.

            No, they’re just obscured negative arguments against evolution. Behe’s irreducible complexity identifies “design” solely because of the inference that evolution can’t do that. Dembski’s “design filter” operates by excluding “regularity” and “chance”. Seriously, go through the list of criteria and every one of them is about denying evolution. That’s because ID is really just the latest variant of “creation science” and its obsession with evolution is inherited from the earlier pseudoscience.

            “Chief among their intellectual sins is their insistence that it’s either design or natural selection”

            Those are the only two scientific theories in competition regarding the origin and development of life. No one is “insisting” that it’s either one or the other, there just isn’t a third option.

            You’re really quite incredible. You have managed the feat of denying what is right in front of your face. I mentioned neutral and nearly neutral theory and had pointed out that they’d been incorporated into evolutionary theory for over 40 years, and you snip that and then go on to tell me (who has in no uncertain terms told you otherwise) that natural selection and ID clear out the field between them. Do you think I’m going to be convinced by such dishonesty and forget what I wrote less than a day ago? You’re not only ignorant, but you’re so propagandized that you’ll even ignore anything that doesn’t fit with the line being fed you by the ID propagandists.

            Furthermore, ID is not a scientific theory. A scientific theory actually has to have an explanatory and predictive function. ID explains nothing, nor are its so-called ‘predictions’ new, accurate, and logical consequences of the theory. E.g., Jonathan Wells’ “centrioles kinda look like turbines, therefore they must spin like turbines and generate a polar ejection force!” That one was refuted before he even made it, which also shows his ability to do a literature search is nonexistent.

            Otherwise, trying to blame ID theorists for working within the framework of the existing theories is just a little desperate.

            How desperate does it look to be presented with one of the issues ID ignores in treating natural selection and design as if they were the only two possible explanations for biology, then snip that without comment, apparently hoping that I’ll forget all about it, and reassert that they are really too the only possible two options?

          • Steve

            Also, you have to admit, Tim Horton has done more to prove the original article right than anyone else on this board could have. Let guys like him into the debate and you evolutionists are going to have a big PR problem. :D

          • Timothy Horton

            You have to admit Steve certainly has done more to demonstrate the scientific worthlessness of ID and the hopeless ineptitude of the amateur ID pushers than all the others on this board combined.

          • KDude

            It is all due to the liberal invasion of academia. When it comes to the issue, I don’t care honestly. What does bother me is the tactics employed buy the so-called enlightened people on this threat. Your liberalism is showing… and puddling on the floor. It is fine though.. Some day they will grow up and realize how much of an intolerable prick they were… well.. no.. a prick is part of a man and manhood is evil to liberals right?

          • Timothy Horton

            LOL! Steve still with the standard ID-Creationist ploy. He doesn’t have to supply any positive evidence for ID, but if he flings enough mud at evolutionary theory then ID magically wins by default.

            Besides being woefully ignorant of the actual sciences involved Steve is apparently too dumb to recognize the false dichotomy in his ID argument.

            BTW Steve, I still haven’t mentioned Christians anywhere. That’s just you with a chip on your shoulder, as always. I also don’t have to disprove ID anymore than I have to disprove the magic gravity fairies. In science you have to provide your own positive evidence to be taken seriously, not just knee jerk attack other ideas. That’s another thing you IDiots just don’t get.

          • Timothy Horton

            LOL once more! Poor Steve fails again. I never said “Christians don’t know science”. I merely pointed out that the ignorant Fundies like you who are blindly attacking ToE don’t know or understand actual evolutionary theory, which you don’t.

            Go ahead and show everyone what you know. Summarize in your own words the basic concepts, mechanisms, and evidence for actual evolutionary theory, not your stupid creationist cartoon version. Cite the professional scientific literature with any place that shows ToE commenting on the existence or non-existence of any God or Gods. Back up your bluster for a change.

          • Steve

            I think the burden of proving your education / credibility falls on you, given your liberal use of caps, religion-baiting nonsense, blind assumption that everyone who disagrees with you is a creationist, and general raving irrationality that you’ve shown, at least here. You tell me why ID’s scientific claims are wrong [without resorting to red herrings about religion] and then I’ll be happy to explain to you how evolution actually works, what is actually claims, and why ID provides a better explanation for the evidence.

          • Timothy Horton

            Exactly as expected, Steve can’t even begin to describe actual evolutionary theory. He’s just another ignorant Fundy attacking the solid science he doesn’t understand because it scares him.

            As far as ID’s scientific claims, that’s easy. ID doesn’t have any scientific claims. ID has a bunch of professional liars like the Gerbil and ignorant amateurs like you yelling “Science can’t explain this to my personal satisfaction, so ID wins by default!!”.

            Go ahead, list the “scientific” positive evidence for ID. Start with some details, like the physical mechanisms the Designer used and the timelines for when the design was done. Give us some testable hypotheses generated by ID, and explain what findings would falsify the Design hypotheses.

            You won’t of course because such things don’t exist, but it will be funny to see your next evasion.

          • Steve

            “As far as ID’s scientific claims, that’s easy. ID doesn’t have any scientific claims.”

            Translation: I know nothing about ID and I have no good arguments to offer. But, I can call people who support ID names!!!

            Remember this?

            “You tell me why ID’s scientific claims are wrong [without resorting to red herrings about religion] and then I’ll be happy to explain to you how evolution actually works, what it actually claims, and why ID provides a better explanation for the evidence.”

            This was the open offer. YOU could have answered my question, and I would have been required to back up my word and demonstrate my knowledge of evolution. But YOU are too ignorant / uneducated to answer my question, so you DODGED IT.

            I think we’re done here. You’ve clearly got nothing. You can rant and rave all you want, but I won’t be here on the other end. I was happy to answer your questions, if you could answer mine, BUT YOU COULDN’T. So, instead, people who read this will see how weak your side’s argument is, that you’ve resorted to accusing people you’ve never met of lying about something you don’t know anything about.

            That’s pretty pathetic, it’s it? I hope you come up with a good, childish come-back to this post, because that’s all you’ve got, shouting 2nd grade insults at ID boogie monsters in your head. Again, you had the opportunity to show your knowledge and challenge mine, but you turned it down because you don’t have anything intelligent to say.

          • Timothy Horton

            LOL! Poor Steve. Caught with his woeful scientific ignorance exposed again, has nothing to do but fart and bluster to try and save face.

            Science doesn’t have to disprove something like ID that has no positive evidence in the first place. Pity you’re too stupid to understand, but that’s not science’s problem.

            Oh well. If it wasn’t for farting and blustering IDiots like Steve would have nothing to offer at all.

          • Steve

            You can read my posts with you’re less rabid and desperate fellow evolutionist, Nullifidian, if you are actually interested in a discussion of the facts on this topic. I’m just not going to engage with you anymore, since you don’t seem to have even a passing knowledge of the topic.

          • Timothy Horton

            Still more farting and blustering as Steve runs for the door. I bet that serves him well with his fellow Creationists. Not so much so in the scientific community.

            Notice that we still haven’t seen one iota of positive evidence for his ID position, not even an attempt. I’ve found that’s the surest way to send the cockroaches scurrying – ask them technical questions about their IDiot claims.

        • KDude

          I suppose it would be easier if the opposition just stopped talking.. *PSST* Your liberalism is showing.

    • Steve

      The pathetic, sophomoric, mentally deficient smears [like yours] that have spouted from desperate evolution fundies and atheists on this comment section alone are ample proof of the original author’s point.

  • AYearningForPublius

    In reading Mr. Luskin’s article and the one by “Nullifidian” below, it is obvious that only one can be a true account of what happened re. Dr. Richard Sternberg; the other … well let’s look at the record as provided by Dr. Sternberg himself on his web site at http://www.richardsternberg.com/smithsonian.php.
    There you will find two US Government investigations into the Sternberg matter … read them as I have. Both strongly support Mr. Luskin’s account and expose Nullifdian’s account as a blatent lie.

    • Nullifidian

      If you’re going to accuse me of lying, perhaps you could have the courage to tell me what specifically I’m supposed to have lied about, and provide the evidence that shows I’ve told a deliberate (rather than an inadvertent) untruth. Please, provide me the evidence that Sternberg lost his job with the NIH or lost his position as research associate at the Smithsonian or that the editorship of the PBSW wasn’t a rotating position that he was scheduled to step down from, but was instead forced out by the journal. Please show any evidence of his being ‘persecuted’ at all besides a few people saying unflattering things about him in supposedly private emails.

      • AYearningForPublius

        After once again reading Mr. Luskin’s article and your smear of him, I can only repeat what I said before. Read the information provided in Dr. Sternberg web site, in particular the investigations by the US government.

        Based on the tone of your smear of Mr. Luskin, my hope is that others, in particular students, will read Dr. Sternberg’s defense of himself and decide for themselves who is telling the truth here.

        • Nullifidian

          To sum up, you have no evidence to substantiate your entirely unwarranted attack on my character, but you’re too much of coward to admit it and apologize.

          The only thing that needs to be read are the appendices. The reports themselves are only “evidence” if we accept the proposition that politicians never lie. And in those appendices, there is not a hint of evidence that Sternberg was forced out of anything. In fact, his position as research associate (later re-termed “research collaborator”) at the NMNH was not only not withdrawn, but extended through 2009, despite the fact that he repeatedly misrepresented his relationship with the NMNH and the Smithsonian. His actual paid job at the NIH was never threatened, and as I remarked before the position of chief editor at the PBSW is a rotating position that was coming to a close for Sternberg before any of this nonsense began. However, had the PBSW chosen to remove Sternberg as editor, they would have just cause because not only did he bypass the journal’s peer review process in Meyer’s paper, but he’d done it the year before for Martha Nizinski. On that occasion, he had to be badgered into soliciting outside peer review and all four reviewers recommended rejecting the paper. He published it anyway. That’s another thing that comes out in the e-mails and letters. So does the fact that there really was a reorganization and security upgrade that led to him being asked to return his keys and being issued with a security badge instead. And you can see Sternberg trying to shake down the Smithsonian for a $300,000 grant—an attempt which failed hilariously because the Smithsonian doesn’t bestow grants.

          In short, none of the documents support the claim that there was any sort of retaliation at all beyond a few harsh words which, like the eavesdropper who hears nothing but ill of himself, Sternberg wouldn’t have known about but for the fact that he went whining to a few dimwitted ideologues up on Capitol Hill.

          • AYearningForPublius

            Over and out

        • Timothy Horton

          AYearningForPublius

          After once again reading Mr. Luskin’s article and your smear of him, I can only repeat what I said before. Read the information provided in Dr. Sternberg web site, in particular the investigations by the US government.

          You apparently didn’t read them. There were no investigations by the U.S. Government.

          The first link is Sternberg whining to the Justice Department, and the J.D. politely telling to pound sand because he didn’t have even the beginnings of a case.

          The second isn’t any sort of investigation either. It’s a one-sided smear letter done by a friend of Sternberg’s who happens to be a Congressional staffer. It carries zero weight in any legal or official capacity.

          I notice the only place you went for info was Sternberg’s own website – now there’s an unbiased source! Apparently you’re one of those clueless individuals who think if something – anything – is posted on the web it must be true. Ken Ham and the other Creationist liars for Jesus love folks like you.

  • mofo

    Hopefully, as more people become aware of the irreparable damage this dangerous philosophy has caused to not only science but human kind as well, the world will wake up and give these secular priests, and their Darwinian fairy tales, the boot.

    I don’t believe in hell, but if there was one, I have no doubt this filth would be destined to spend eternity there. You animals have a lot to answer for, it’s about time you are held accountable for the terrors and atrocities against mankind, both in the past and in the present.

    Your secular superstitious nonsense is coming to an end. Thank you Casey Luskin, the Discovery Institute and all all those who fight against this tyranny. Keep up the good work, please continue the research and drive these pseudo-religious nut jobs out.

    • Nullifidian

      Hopefully, as more people become aware of the irreparable damage this
      dangerous philosophy has caused to not only science but human kind as
      well….

      This is very amusing. Leaving aside the hyperbolic nonsense about “human kind [sic]“, which I bet will amount to blaming Darwin for the Holocaust and ignoring the fact that Hitler and all his ‘scientific’ authorities for his racialist folderol were anti-evolution, I wonder how you plan to substantiate your claim that evolution has done “irreparable damage” to science. Please be specific, and explain why, if evolution is so harmful to science, why the creationists aren’t doing any better. Why, for example, do we see biotech companies trading on their use of evolutionary principles, when the smart money should be on those companies that employ creationism as their guide to research?

      …please continue the research….

      That’ll be a neat trick considering they haven’t even started doing research yet. Unless we’re talking about research in how to part fools from their money, in which they have decades of experience.

  • StateofReason

    Of course people complain when you try to teach religion (ID) in a science class. You teach religion in church, or even in a comparative religion class or philosophy class, but never in a science class. Should we let them teach that the world rests on the back of a turtle or that we were blessed by the noodly appendage of the FSM? No, of course not, because science class is not a place to discuss religion.

    If someone wants to study ID in a scientific way (as though there’s any way to prove or disprove god) then nobody’s going to stop you but you’d better expect your research to be held to the same scientific rigor that other studies are held to and if you can’t hold your study to those standards you can’t expect anybody to take them seriously.

  • Reason

    Theory of evolution, theory of religion, theory of theory. I don’t really tend towards either end of this debate, as either one has more holes than are in the arms of an average drug addict. It is Ironic, that the dissenters of this article serve only to prove its accuracy, the base idea that evolutionists continuously censor creationists through heckling. bottom line, neither side can prove, or even come close to proving their stance is the correct one. I know both will point to this or that human observation, but in the end, there is no answer book on this one. neither can show distinct, credible evidence they are right, but both want others to accept their answer on faith. Personally, I feel both sides are as right as they are wrong, and could probably learn a lot from one another, if they’d close their mouths, in this case, stop typing, and open their minds to each others’ views. That said, good evening, to all of you.

    • Nullifidian

      It is Ironic, that the dissenters of this article serve only to prove
      its accuracy, the base idea that evolutionists continuously censor
      creationists through heckling.

      As one of the “dissenters of this article”, I critiqued the claims made by Casey Luskin that the cases of Guillermo Gonzalez, Richard Sternberg, and David Coppedge represented “prominent examples of discrimination”. Was I supposed to ignore the fact that he was lying?

      neither can show distinct, credible evidence they are right, but both want others to accept their answer on faith.

      Have you actually examined the evidence for evolution? If so, what sort of evidence, and how did you rebut it?

      Personally, I feel both sides are as right as they are wrong, and could
      probably learn a lot from one another, if they’d close their mouths, in
      this case, stop typing, and open their minds to each others’ views.

      Sure, the IDists could learn biology from us, and we could learn about propaganda techniques from ID. However, if we’re supposed to find something in ID that aids us in our day to day work, that’s going to be a bit difficult because there isn’t a single IDist who has ever demonstrated any practical, empirical consequences of ID. Not one. So what are we supposed to do with a ‘theory’ that would be just as useful to us if it didn’t exist?

  • desperado49

    Darwinism can be refuted on many grounds. They use fossil records in circular arguments to prove their point. The so called Cambrian Explosion where many species suddenly appeared without intermediate levels of mutation cannot be explained by evolutionists. Even Darwin admitted he could not explain the evolution of the eye. Ann Coulter has done a lot of work refuting the arguments, as well as the website of the Most Holy Family monastery. progs think if you believe in intelligent design it implies a God exists, rather than their sacred god of big government.

    • Nullifidian

      Darwinism can be refuted on many grounds.

      Evolutionary biology is not Darwinism.

      For your next three claims, I’m going to link to one website and then list the specific code which will allow you to look up the rebuttal.

      Here is the website: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

      They use fossil records in circular arguments to prove their point.

      CC 310

      The so called Cambrian Explosion where many species suddenly appeared without intermediate levels of mutation cannot be explained by
      evolutionists.

      CC 300

      See also the chapter on the Cambrian in Donald Prothero’s Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters (and then the rest of the book) or Douglas Erwin and James Valentine’s The Cambrian Explosion: The Construction of Animal Biodiversity.

      There is nothing about the Cambrian which is necessarily inconsistent with evolution, and the Cambrian fauna are largely transitional fossils (you clearly mixed up the concept of mutations with transitional fossils: mutations do not fossilize—ever). Budd and Jensen (A critical reappraisal of the fossil record of the bilaterian phyla. Biol. Rev. Camb. Philos. Soc. 2000 May;75(2):253-95.) was the revolutionary paper that brought phylogenetic reasoning to the Cambrian fauna, and discovered that a great many of the Cambrian fauna are stem group representatives. Stem groups are groups whose members have some but not all of the characteristics that identify a member of the crown (or “true”) clade. In short, they are transitional forms by definition, whether living or fossilized.

      Even Darwin admitted he could not explain the evolution of the eye.

      CA 113.1

      Darwin did not admit any such thing. You have been hoodwinked by a case of quote-mining typical of the creationists’ dishonesty. They take the statement of a problem and then ignore the resolution. In the case of the Darwin quote, he went on showing how living species exist with all gradations of eye types, from the simplest eyespot or pigment cup eye to the modern camera type eye. He spent two or three pages on the topic, of which you’ve seen one or two sentences at best.

      Even if Darwin had no answer to the evolution of the eye, that is not a refutation of evolution. Like many religionists, you assume that Darwin functions as a kind of ‘prophet’, and if you can undermine the credibility of the ‘prophet’ and his ‘holy book’, then you will have destroyed ‘faith’ in his system. But Darwin is not a prophet, he did not write any holy books, and we don’t have faith in evolution, much less undying faith in Darwin’s original formulation of it. Science progresses by the successive addition of knowledge. No one person’s contribution, however historic, is set as dogma for all time, nor do any things the originator understood little of compromise the soundness of the general idea, because chances are we have found the answer after him. I’ll give you an example of something Darwin genuinely admitted not understanding: the distribution of plants in the southern latitudes. He couldn’t explain why plants native to the cape of South Africa and western Australia resembled each other. The answer is plate tectonics. Australia, Africa, South America, Antarctica and the Indian subcontinent were all one supercontinent called Gondwana. What is now separated by several thousands of miles of ocean was originally in close contact. Although perhaps you deny plate tectonics with evolutionary biology.

      Ann Coulter has done a lot of work refuting the arguments, as well as the website of the Most Holy Family monastery.

      Do you honestly think that evolution would survive as a theory among scientists if a vapid TV talking head and a religious website were sufficient to refute it? That’s like claiming a kindergartner has refuted quantum mechanics. Surely you should be able to see that what these people are ‘refuting’ has nothing to do with evolution as scientists understand it, otherwise it already would have been refuted by the people best positioned to do so. The idea that Ann Coulter is going to find some devastating rebuttal that millions of biologists have missed for generations is just laughable.

  • http://cogitarus.wordpress.com/ ★✩★ David ★✩★

    I find it so odd that the self proclaimed “open minded” are so afraid of other points of view. Wasn’t it the “open-minded” that has so vehemently defended “dissent” over the years and especially free speech? Wasn’t it the “open-minded” that ridiculed book burning and censorship? Wasn’t it the “open-minded” that says evolutionary change is random/arbitrary? Isn’t it the “open-minded” that demands tolerance of other perspectives? If so, why the hypocrisy when it comes to ID or Creationism? Isn’t it the “open-minded” that advocated for alternative viewpoints? Seems that openness of the mind has suddenly slammed shut now that the professorships and universities are controlled by those who once claimed to be of and for an “open-mind.” If ID and Creationism is so astonishingly ridiculous I would think they would welcome the opportunity to expose it — lay bare all it’s flaws — in the class room, for each individual student to make up his or her own mind as to the facts, logic, reason and rationality of each presumption. If a books needs a writer, if a building needs a builder, if a painting needs a painter, if a design needs a designer, then logic follows that a creation must have a Creator. You do not get anything from nothing unless you have a power big enough for the task. To think everything came from nothing (in a big bang) is as preposterous as to think an explosion in a print shop could produce a dictionary or a set of encyclopedias. And at least with that, you started with something. The kind of thinking that allows a person to believe that everything came from nothing has a definition, it’s called, insanity.

    • Nullifidian

      Open-mindedness simply requires that scientists give the ideas a hearing, which they have. ID arguments have been debunked thoroughly by many scientists the world over, including in one court case (Kitzmiller v. Dover). See Unintelligent Design by Mark Perakh, Why Intelligent Design Fails by Wesley Elsberry and Taner Edis (eds.), Scientists Confront Creationism: Intelligent Design and Beyond by Andrew J. Petto and Laurie R. Godfrey (eds.), Intelligent Thought: Science versus the Intelligent Design Movement by John Brockman (ed.), Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design by Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross (for a historical look at the creationist roots of ID), etc. Open-mindedness does not require creating a free-for-all in the classroom where every crank idea gets a hearing. There have to be standards for what’s taught in science class, and like it or not the best standard available is what is the basic set of facts agreed by the relevant scientific experts. Another potent reason for not including ID in the classroom, aside from the fact that it’s vacuous religion in disguise with no secular purpose, thus failing every prong of the Lemon Test, is that IDists have no case to make aside from misrepresenting the consensus view of scientists. In short, they lie. They lie flagrantly and often, and any attempt to teach ID could only involve teaching their misrepresentations of biology to students, because there is no positive case for ID that has been made. Teaching lies about biology while at the same time trying to give a grounding to students in the basics of biology is a recipe for confusion, which would suit the IDists fine, but would harm genuine science education.

      I’m not wholly opposed to teaching ID in the science classroom, but it should be confined to the kind of science classroom where new and largely untried hypotheses are routinely discussed: the graduate school seminar. But if you turned a bunch of grad student biologists loose on ID, they’d shred it out of their own knowledge without any prompting from their professor, so the IDists don’t like that idea. Instead, they want to try out their ideas on the group least able to evaluate them scientifically, because they have no background knowledge. Think back: how much did you know about biology prior to high school? How much do you know now even? Admittedly, this is the same way they approach their ‘science’: producing books and videos for the general market instead of peer-reviewed paper for scientific experts, so at least you can’t fault their consistency.

      If a books needs a writer, if a building needs a builder, if a painting
      needs a painter, if a design needs a designer, then logic follows that a
      creation must have a Creator.

      Yes it does, but this has nothing to do with evolution, which is both in principle and in practice consistent with theism (theists who accepted Darwin’s view of evolution go back to Asa Gray, the American botanist, Congregationalist, and Darwin’s main American defender), and it’s begging the question that the natural world is a “creation” in the first place. I wouldn’t expect any atheists to be convinced by this tautological reasoning.

      To think everything came from nothing (in a big bang) is as preposterous as to think an explosion in a print shop could produce a dictionary or a set of encyclopedias.

      The Big Bang is not an explosion, but a period of expansion. Explosions have central points from which things spread out. The universe has no center: it’s homogenous and isotropic in all directions. Nor does the Big Bang give any hint of an origin, but confines itself to describing what happened after roughly the first minute of cosmic evolution (in the general sense of “change”, not the biological sense of the change in frequency of a heritable traits in a population over generations). For theories dealing with the earlier periods, you have to look at inflationary theory or other competing models. I recommend checking out Ned Wright’s Big Bang FAQ for information on what the Big Bang really is about. Furthermore, “something from nothing” may strike you as unintuitive, but it’s a consequence of quantum mechanics (the production of virtual particles) and may really be the explanation for the universe whether you want to accept it or not. Lawrence Krauss’ A Universe from Nothing discusses the meaning in physics of “nothing” and why it’s not impossible that this is how the universe emerged. Besides, something from nothing is necessary at some point because saying that the set of all somethings came from something else is one heckuva way of restating Russell’s Paradox.

  • JimDoggg

    My problem with evolution is not with it is as a theory but with evolutionists (not all) who ignore their own premises if it does not agree with their view of society or PC. Example: as distasteful as it may be there was a rationale for the Holocaust by the Nazis. Applied evolution, if you will. Stephen Gould tried to dismiss this with the final solution being “unnatural”. How anything in nature can be unnatural escapes me, but no one held Gould’s feet to the fire. The unpalatable truth is that the Nazis were merely applying “selection” as their methodology. This was technique used for centuries to produce desirable (or eliminate undesirable) traits in animals. Also, the differences in human races or subgroups could have only have been produced (according to evolutionary theory) by isolation and selection based on environmental pressures. To deny that the Holocaust was not Darwinian or that evolution did not produce differences in races of humans is to deny the evolutionists own theories. In the case of the Nazis, they decided who were the fittest for their new world order. To but it bluntly, millions of genetic pairs and their characteristics were wiped out and this could not but have had an effect on future human populations. I once confronted a geneticist at a DNA workshop with the concept of whether abortion could be a selective pressure. He conceded that it was possible if we knew what was advertently or inadvertently being selected for. Soviet scientists under Stalin believed that environment could change humans to the “New Soviet Man’ and Marx admired Darwin. Some evolutionists, like Dawkins, don’t deny this conundrum but most evolution scientists, in concordance, with their liberal academic colleagues, will offer convoluted excuses to explain all of this away because it conflicts with their views of society and how it can changed. Bottom line. These individual don’t really believe their own science. Or when evolution comes up against liberalism, scientific evolution loses. Maybe someone posting here can clear this up for me but as a scientist I see double standards here.

    • Nullifidian

      The reason “evolutionists” (I guess I’m also a “gravitationist”) reject the idea that Hitler’s genocides were due to evolutionary reasoning is because that they weren’t. Trying to lay the blame for them at evolution’s door is both historically and scientifically inept. For one obvious reason, there is no heritable set of traits that make one a Jew or Romani, much less a Jehovah’s Witness or a Communist or anarchist, and it’s possible there is no genetic predisposition for homosexuality either (the evidence is ambiguous). And even if we restrict the Holocaust to just the forced euthanization of the disabled, even that doesn’t have an adequate scientific basis. As early as 1917, biologist R. C. Punnet calculated that in order to reduce the incidence of “feeblemindedness” (here treated as a condition caused by only a single recessive trait: these estimates become even longer if “feeblemindedness” is pleiotropic or an umbrella name for a bunch of unrelated conditions, the latter of which is the case) from an incidence of one out of every one hundred people to one out of every thousand, you’d have to eliminate every “feebleminded” person for 22 generations. To get it down to one out of every ten thousand, 70 generations, and ten times that—700 generations—for an incidence of one out of every one million. At a generous assumption of one new generation every 20 years, that carries us back to the English Restoration. Do you know of any government policies which have been systematically applied in every jurisdiction and without alteration for over 400 years? Obviously any idea of improving the species by the systematic elimination of those with hereditary diseases (and not all of the conditions the Nazis killed people for were heritable) is impracticable and was known to be impracticable well before even a single death camp was built. Your geneticist should have known about this.

      And on a historical level, the Nazis simply were not, institutionally, evolutionists. Hitler was a creationist who affirmed in his Table Talk that we have no right to assume that anywhere in nature there is a leap as large as would be necessary to produce a human from an ape (where have I heard that before?), his closest “science advisor” was Houston Stewart Chamberlain, another anti-Darwinist, their inspiration came from the 19th century creationist Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau, who believed that races were separate creations (then known as “polygenism”, which Darwin rejected and predicted must be wrong if evolution were correct), and the overall tenor of German biology under the Nazis was anti-Darwinist, because Darwinian evolution was regarded as “mechanistic” and philosophically unacceptable because it emphasized individual difference while fascism saw itself as the subsuming of all difference into the unified identity of the Volk.

      Finally, even if it were feasible to engage in this kind of large-scale “selection” of human beings and the benefits were clear and followed from the science, that does not mean that we would be obliged to do it. As numerous philosophers have pointed out through the ages, just because you can find a precedent in nature for it doesn’t mean that it is right or a good idea. It’s a fallacy called the appeal to nature. Conversely, just because something is the product of synthetic materials and human manufacture doesn’t make it necessarily good or bad either. Not suggesting that we base our social planning around a reductive and narrow view of what evolution is does not indicate that we “don’t believe [our] own science”.

      P. S. You do know that natural selection is not the only mechanism of evolution, I hope. Sexual selection is another important mechanism (especially for maintaining species barriers in overlapping populations) and genetic drift may be more important than even natural selection.

  • daniel

    This is true for Holocaust revisionism and AIDS dissidence as well. Why are people so afraid of the truth? Let the facts come out and deal with it. For example, the six million figure has been seared into our brains by the Israel lobby, when it pre-dates WW1! That doesn’t mean Jews weren’t killed and put into camps, but it does show how it has been used to manipulate opinion. And the fact that HIV has never been shown to kill t cells does not mean one shouldn’t care about AIDS.

  • daniel

    Why do militant atheists assume that ID is a Christian concept? One can believe in both evolution and ID. Vedanta in fact says that consciousness is creative and intelligent and that intention can be a motive force behind evolution.