Is Evolution A Theory in Crisis?

Michael Denton’s 1985 book Evolution: A Theory In Crisis was one of the most influential scientific critiques of Darwinian evolution in the 20th century. That’s why I eagerly anticipated the release of his 2016 book, Evolution: Still A Theory In Crisis, which both updates and expands his original arguments.

While Denton believes in common descent, and embraces a non-Darwinian law-based explanation for the diversity and complexity of life (although he concedes that his theory “may point to the intelligent design of the universe as uniquely fit for life” ), he launches a trenchant critique of the Darwinian model of adaptive gradualism. Essentially, he defies the claim that macroevolution is merely an extension of microevolution. There exist certain “homologs” or “primal patterns” in nature, claims Denton, which simply cannot be accounted for by cumulative selection. According to Denton, natural selection does play a minor role in the development of various organisms in nature, but there must be other operational forces. He explains:

The Darwinian claim that all homologs were gradually achieved over millions of generations by incremental functionalism—the genetic code, human language, the flower, the diaphragm, etc.—is a phantasm. The near-universal absence of intermediates leading from antecedent structures to the homologs speaks volumes.”

Simply put, there are not the innumerable transitional links Darwin predicted, and in many cases, there is not even conceivable links to account for various “structures” in nature. According to Denton, this is one of the major unsolved challenges for Darwinian evolution.

Denton provides a number of examples in nature that lack Darwinian pathways, such as the cell, limbs, feathers, wings, flowering plants, language, and more. Let’s briefly consider a few of his examples:

SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF THE ANGIOSPERM (group of plants)

The sudden appearance of angiosperms in the fossil record has been a persistent problem for Darwinian evolution. According to Denton, “None of the taxa-defining characteristics of angiosperms, including the key novelties of the flower—sepals, petals, stamens, carpels—are found in any group of plants, extant or fossil, outside of the angiosperm clade.” The angiosperm, along with many other groups of land plants, appears suddenly in the fossil record without antecedents.

According to Denton, the problem is that the evolution of the angiosperm requires large-scale changes that cannot be accounted for by incrementalism: “Not only are there no transitional forms, but to my knowledge, there does not appear to exist anywhere in academic botanical literature even a tentative hypothetical Darwinian functionalist scheme showing how the flower Bauplan or any of its defining homologs—sepals, petals, etc.,—might have emerged via a series of tiny adaptive steps from some ancestral reproductive organ...”

THE TETRAPOD LIMB

It is generally believed that fish are the evolutionary precursors for amphibians. But according to Denton, there is a gap between the tetrapod limb (for amphibians) and the fin (for fish). Some Darwinists have offered Tiktaalik as the best transitional candidate, but the problem is that tetrapod tracks have been found ten million years earlier, which calls the entire scenario into question. Denton concludes:

No matter what Darwinian evolutionary ‘spin’ is put on the gap between fin and hand, there is no avoiding the fact that a significant break does exist in the natural order, and the new evo-devo picture provides no support for any sort of Darwinian gradualist, functionalist scenario…trying to envisage the process as occurring under the direction of gradual natural selection poses herculean challenges.”

FINAL EXAMPLES

Another example Denton raises is the wing of the bat. The problem for Darwinian evolution, says Denton, is that the first known bat appears in the fossil record with fully developed wings (as developed as modern bats), and there is no evidence for transitional precursors. Again, with this example, there is no evidence for the kind of incrementalism Darwinian evolution requires.

The development of language also poses a serious problem for Darwinian evolution. Denton raises an interesting Darwinian paradox: “How could blind unintelligent cumulative selection, the blind watchmaker, have assembled a device—the language organ—of such complexity and sophistication that intelligent humans cannot ‘intelligently’ simulate these unique abilities in a machine?” Denton raises further problems for the origin of language, such as how our intellectual abilities (mathematical, musical, artistic, etc.) could have emerged through a Darwinian pathway when these abilities did not possess any initial utility.

CONCLUSION

Evolution: Still A Theory In Crisis is a challenging book to read. It’s not written for the novice! But if you have the interest and time to wrestle with an important scientific critique of the neo-Darwinian synthesis, it is well worth the investment. Even if you end up disagreeing with Denton (as I do on some points), his book is thoughtful and timely.

Denton concludes that natural selection has a minor role to play in the development of various organisms, but as an explanation for the whole of nature, the Darwinian model of incremental change fails. If he is right, then where do we go from here?

He concludes: “Either the ‘jump’ was…already prefigured into the biology of the ancestral form and its actualization due to internal causal factors according to a structuralist ‘laws of form’ framework, or it came about as the result of special creation.”

He’s right. The Darwinian model faces significant hurdles, which seem to get increasingly higher. Either the naturalist needs to answer the challenges raised by Denton, pose another naturalistic model (as Denton does at the end of his book), or be open to special creation. There are only so many available options.


 

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

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103 replies
  1. Bob Seidensticker says:

    Hilarious! We’ve got Denton’s “Evolution: A theory in crisis” and the updated edition 30 years later, “Evolution: a theory still in crisis”?! What’s the next one to be called–“Evolution: I’ll believe it’s a theory in crisis if I wanna!”?

    How could it have been in crisis 30 years ago and yet it’s still going strong today?

    Evolution is the scientific consensus. Deal with it.

    Reply
    • Brian Hunt says:

      Bob, as an active biologist I can tell you that evolution is indeed in crisis. Biologists across the globe are scrambling for a mechanism that is plausible. So as a discipline we’ve moved on from vertical gene transfer (neo-Darwinian theory) to mechanisms such as horizontal gene transfer that can happen quickly and have dramatic effects. Of course every example of HGT is on the microscopic level – meaning that nothing truly new is created, only a slightly different, yet same kind of thing – think antibiotic resistant bacteria. In humans it is claimed to be seen in response to vaccines and GMO food consumption. So in humans, the only purported examples do not lead to survive and thrive, but to writhe and die. Moreover, HGT is not actually seen in nature but rather inferred from mathematical models based upon assumptions yet to be substantiated.

      Evolution is not a done deal, and the discipline is trying to deal with that reality.

      Reply
      • Kyle says:

        The point you are missing is that evolutionary biologists are seeking to explain these issues. They are not coming to these unanswered problems, throwing their hands up, and saying “Too hard to figure out. Must’ve been God.” Evolution is as much of a done deal as relativity and gravity. It is precisely why it is a scientific theory.

        Reply
      • Bob Seidensticker says:

        You’re saying that new discoveries are being made and new questions raised? Cool. When evolution makes no sense, the field of biology will tell us. What the field of biology is telling us right now is that evolution is doing just fine, thank you very much.

        nothing truly new is created, only a slightly different, yet same kind of thing

        Yeah—how does that work? You must acknowledge some sort of change to allow for antibiotic resistance, but there’s some sort of wall to keep things from changing too much? No one ever seems to want to give a theory for that (and show the evidence that backs it up).

        Evolution is not a done deal

        Nothing within science is a done deal—you should know that. There is no proof within science, and everything is tentative. Nevertheless, evolution is the overwhelming consensus of the scientists who are capable of evaluating the evidence. I’d be an idiot to acknowledge anything different until that consensus changes.

        Reply
        • Robert says:

          Change with the bacteria resistance is still bacteria. This is adaptation which is very observable. The wall is the specific information within DNA that will not allow for the change to something completely new. Lab results in biology show this. No matter how much interference, one of three things always happens: normal, defective or dead, but never a change from one kind to a new kind.

          Also, consensus means nothing. The majority of people in the world are religious (Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, or some pantheistic religion). Show would say there is a God because of that? No, evidence gives the most reasonable conclusion.

          Your right, evolution is not a done deal, but the evidence points in a different direction. There are many questions evolution does not have answers for. No one is saying to stop looking, but a wall is being reached (if it hasn’t already) that evolution just can’t answer the questions of life. No one was there to observe the beginning of the universe, origin of first life, or the origin of new life. One must piece together the pieces like a puzzle to come to the most reasonable conclusion. You may feel like evolution has the answers, but as a Christian myself, I have studied all fields on the topic and feel the Christian God of the Bible is the most reasonable answer and can answer all the questions.

          If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

          By the way, the scientists that had the greatest impact on science in the past are the ones that went against the consensus or their findings did.

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            “The wall is the specific information within DNA that will not allow for the change to something completely new.”

            How are you defining ‘completely new’? What does that mean? What’s your evidence for this ‘wall’?

            “but never a change from one kind to a new kind.”

            How are you defining ‘kind’? This is not a scientific term. All you’re saying is ‘it’s still bacteria’. I don’t think you actually understand

            “Also, consensus means nothing”

            With respect, you don’t come across like you understand more about biology than the vast majority of scientists who accept evolution.

            “By the way, the scientists that had the greatest impact on science in the past are the ones that went against the consensus or their findings did.”

            Without the ‘findings’ you might as well be arguing against the germ theory of disease or that babies come from storks not conception.

          • KR says:

            Aww shucks, beaten to the punch by Andy yet again. 🙁 Oh well, here’s my response to Robert anyway:

            Robert wrote: “Change with the bacteria resistance is still bacteria. This is adaptation which is very observable.”

            It’s also what evolutionary theory would predict so it’s hardly a problem for the theory.

            “The wall is the specific information within DNA that will not allow for the change to something completely new.”

            Speciation events are never about changing into “something completely new”. Again, what we see (small, incremental changes) is exactly what the theory predicts. There’s obviously no “wall” against speciation since we’ve been able to observe it happening.

            “No matter how much interference, one of three things always happens: normal, defective or dead, but never a change from one kind to a new kind.”

            Until we get a stringent definition of “kind”, this is a completely content-free statement. What is a “kind” and why would speciation require a change into a new “kind”? What would stop many speciation events within one “kind” from accumulating into a new “kind”?

            “Your right, evolution is not a done deal, but the evidence points in a different direction. There are many questions evolution does not have answers for.”

            If there were no questions left unanswered, we would have stopped studying evolution. Since evolutionary biology is still very much an active field of research, this obviously hasn’t happened. It seems rather odd to point to unanswered questions as a problem for evolutionary theory. Unanswered questions is the very reason we do science and develop theories.

            “No one is saying to stop looking, but a wall is being reached (if it hasn’t already) that evolution just can’t answer the questions of life.”

            What’s your evidence that a wall is being reached? What I see is the exact opposite. New technologies in genome sequencing has provided enormous amounts of new data that’s opening up new avenues of research which were previously unavailable. I recently saw a talk by Neil Shubin where he explains how he and his colleagues are now combining paleontological and genetic data in new ways which has shed new light on the fish-to-amphibian transition – specifically the transition from fin to limb which Michael Denton found so problematic.

            “One must piece together the pieces like a puzzle to come to the most reasonable conclusion. You may feel like evolution has the answers, but as a Christian myself, I have studied all fields on the topic and feel the Christian God of the Bible is the most reasonable answer and can answer all the questions.”

            Scientific theories provide explanations which can be tested by making predictions which can either be confirmed or falsified. E.g., evolutionary theory makes the prediction that biological features (whether we’re looking at anatomy, biochemistry or genetics) should fall into patterns of nested hierarchies, i.e. tree-shaped patterns of relatedness. This is an unavoidable result of the proposed mechanism (mutation, recombination, natural selection and genetic drift) leading to a process of descent with modification and speciation. The theory also predicts the patterns of differences we should be able to see within these nested hierarchies. These predictions have been confirmed time and time again.

            In contrast, the “God did it” proposition has no suggested mechanism and makes no predictions of what we should be able to observe. How could it? God is supposedly omnipotent and can obviously create any imaginable evidence. As a scientific theory, “God did it” fails because it cannot be tested and there’s nothing we can learn from it. It’s an attempt to explain a mystery by suggesting another mystery, which isn’t going to help us understand the process.

            If you say that you believe on faith that God did it, that’s fine but if you claim that it’s a better scientific explanation than modern evolutionary theory, then you need to bring something to the table. At the very least, you’ll need a working, testable hypothesis on how God did it and what evidence this process should leave behind. Until then, not only is “God did it” not a better scientific theory – it’s not even in the running.

    • Terry Capehart says:

      The intellectual dishonesty of the evolutionist crowd that present their assumptions as scientific fact without a shred of objective scientific proof, always searching for the missing link argumentum ad absurdum, is simply astounding. Anyone who supports the assumption that the evidence for evolution will inevitably be forth coming so it is presented as a scientific fact now is not only intellectually dishonest but they intentionally ignore, distort, disregard and disparage any fact, truth, or viewpoint that disagrees with their agenda (note – the so-called babble that spouts forth evolution as fact is in fact a feeble minded attempt to forward the atheistic agenda). The proof of evolution using spurious evidence and conclusions is an affront to objective scientific methodologies. The scientific ideal of pursuing the discovery of truth and knowledge with the utmost integrity and objectivity is now in danger of becoming extinct in favor of political correctness, personal aggrandizement, and furthering an agenda that has no basis for improvement of mankind’s understanding of truth and which actually threatens his very existence. If the I.R.S decided to tax everyone right now based on the assumption that everyone would be making millions of dollars in the future claiming that fact would inevitably be forthcoming I don’t know of one single atheistic so-called scientist, such as, Bill Nye, that would not scream bloody murder! Yet, day in and day out, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary you blindly adhere to this relic of dogma because your pride cannot allow you to admit you have been deceived and cannot escape being held accountable to God no matter how many volumes the atheistic pseudo-scientists publish trying to assuage your conscience. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

      Reply
        • Terry Capehart says:

          That’s exactly what I am saying – the kettle is black – evolution is an ideology, a world view NOT science. Christianity does not deny it is a world view but evolutionists deny the fact that they are nothing more than an atheistic religion. Consensus is not truth nor does it prove anything to be true. The Nazis came to a consensus based on evolution that they were a more “evolved” race and felt justified in murdering 6 million humans they felt were inferior to them. The question I have is very simple – what benefit or perceived advantage to you believe mankind has for believing in evolution other than the fact it has been used to justify the elimination of well over a hundred million people in order to advance your world view – survival of the fittest or so it would seem. The Final Solution of evolution is to produce a single “enlightened” homogeneous group of people in which “science” has advanced mankind to the point of creating life in a lab thus eliminating the need for males and females and ending up with a sterile single super race in which everyone is genetically identical and there is no mind, personality, free thought or soul. What a laudable goal. Evolution very early on discovered the very obvious flaws in its assumptions such as the statistical impossibility of accidental re-combination of elements, amino acids and energy to create a life form from non living materials so “millions”, “billions”, and “thousands” of years were arbitrarily thrown in to make it seem plausible. The problem is that nothing in our world supports this. Carbon 14 dating is maxed out at a 100K, fresh lava using current state of the art dating techniques shows to be millions of years old, the moon’s orbit is leaving the earth at a rate that negates a 4.5 billion year old earth, the salinity of the ocean, desertification rates ditto, coral reef development ditto, laws of thermodynamics, vertical petrified trees penetrating “thousands” of years of sediments, fossils of a T-rex with soft tissues in the marrow unfossilized, etc. etc. There is NOT a consensus in the scientific literature unless you arbitrarily rule out the thousands and thousands of journal articles that disagree with your world view. My background is in botany and genetics. If you knew the most basic understanding of genetics you would know that mutations do NOT create new information but only causes the loss of information. The design of any life form is so complex and interconnected with irreducible systems that they cannot be explained by accidental natural causes. If evolution is so factual and beyond reproach why then is it so protected by the media and academia who will not let it be tested or challenged or compared to other viewpoints? It is because it is a religion that has a fanatical following bent on converting or annihilating everyone with a different world view.

          Reply
          • TGM says:

            What a blatant misunderstanding of the Theory of Evolution. I don’t see how you could have a background in genetics or botany from this rant. Did a paleontologist drop you when you were a child? Your objections, Terry, read like the Kent Hovind lollipop version of evolution. I would encourage you to take an introductory paleontology course from an accredited university. Please. Even if you still disagree, your facts will be better.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Terry, there is so much falsehood in your gish gallop of a paragraph there that it would take several posts to sort through it all. So I’ll restrict myself to pointing out that Hitler banned books on evolution and rejected the very idea that speciation was possible.

            Hitler: “Where do we acquire the right to believe that man has not always been what he is now? The study of nature teaches us that, in the animal kingdom just as much as in the vegetable kingdom, variations have occurred. They’ve occurred within the species, but none of these variations has an importance comparable with that which separates man from the monkey — assuming that this transformation really took place”

            And also:

            Hitler: “The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a time”

            “evolutionists deny the fact that they are nothing more than an atheistic religion”

            I’m pretty sure the majority of people who accept the science of evolution are Christians. You’re talking nonsense. Is accepting that man landed on the moon an atheistic religion? Is believing in a spherical earth an atheistic religion? How’s about believing that diseases are caused by germs and viruses rather than diseases?

          • KR says:

            I’ll just add that it seems very odd to dismiss a scientific theory because some people misunderstand or misuse it. Last time I looked, this was categorized as an “appeal to consequences” fallacy. Scientific theories are descriptive, not prescriptive – they don’t tell us what to do or how to behave. The germ theory explains the cause of infectious disease. If someone decides to create a super bug as a biological weapon, does this somehow falsify the theory? Of course not.

            Like it or not, the theory of evolution represents our best understanding of how life develops and diversifies. Reality doesn’t bend to what Terry Capehart or anyone else would prefer it to be.

            Finally, that Final Solution fantasy was truly bizarre. Where on earth did that come from?

      • Andy Ryan says:

        That’s a pretty odd rant, Terry. Evolution is one the most solid theories in science. You might as well say there’s no evidence for the germ theory of disease or that babies are conceived through intercourse. You not being aware of evidence doesn’t mean it isn’t there. There are hundreds of thousands of scientific papers supporting evolution.

        Reply
      • Kyle says:

        That whole rant boiled down to “Here are 5 different ways to say evolution is wrong,” yet not offer any evidence to support your own claim or prove the already proven and accepted theory wrong. As Andy said, you not understanding how it works, does not mean it doesn’t work. What possible background or footing do you have to claim almost the entirety of the scientific community is wrong?

        Reply
      • TGM says:

        I’d like to add that evolution has nothing to do with atheism. A theist can be convinced of evolutionary theory and an atheist can reject evolutionary theory without compromising either of their respective positions on the god issue. In this regard, the theory of evolution is only inconsistent with a literal reading of the bible – a position which also has nothing to do with atheism. So, yeah.

        Reply
        • Terry Capehart says:

          ‘The Germans were the higher race, destined for a glorious evolutionary future. For this reason it was essential that the Jews should be segregated, otherwise mixed marriages would take place. Were this to happen, all nature’s efforts “to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being may thus be rendered futile” (Mein Kampf).’ – ’nuff said about Hitler’s devotion to evolution in carrying out his Social Darwinism.

          “So basic are these erroneous assumptions that the whole theory is maintained in spite of, rather than because of the evidence. It has become in the strictest sense, irrational, yet concepts which challenge the theory are almost never given a fair hearing.”
          Arthur C. Custance (1910–1985) Canadian anthropologist, scientist and author specializing in science and Christianity.

          Speaking about the statistical and mathematical impossibility of ‘accidental’ or ‘natural’ random combinations of amino acids or proteins that somehow miraculously come to life, Sir Fred Hoyle remarked, “It is enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution. There was NO primeval soup, neither on this planet nor any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence.”

          We are now in the Post Pure Science Era – we are now in the Sound Byte Science Era where the search for truth and fact has been substituted for popular consensus and political agendas where millions of people are left to die of food contamination because an electrical power plant might contribute to global warming – oops – I mean climate change:
          http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/mar/24/obama-keeps-africa-in-the-dark/

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            “nuff said about Hitler’s devotion to evolution in carrying out his Social Darwinism”

            Doesn’t sound like he believed in natural selection if he thought man needed to intervene. The whole thing about natural selection is that it happens… naturally. Hitler was trying to carry out artificial selection, which humans had been doing for thousands of years before Darwin was born. That aside, Hitler wasn’t an atheist anyway. He constantly said he was carrying out the work of his “Lord”.

            “Speaking about the statistical and mathematical impossibility of ‘accidental’ or ‘natural’ random combinations of amino acids or proteins that somehow miraculously come to life”

            That’s not evolution, is it? It’s biogenesis. And you’re quoting an astronomer, not a biologist, or even a chemist.

            “We are now in the Post Pure Science Era”

            Speak for yourself.

          • Kyle says:

            As Andy pointed out you are gravely mistaken as to what constitutes evolution. Your argument from statistics doesn’t even touch on the subject.

            It would be the epitome of this “sound byte science” to differentiate and fixate on the differences between global warming and climate change. Climate change came about because those ignorant to what the dilemma actually entails did crazy stuff like bring a snowball on the floor of Congress to prove it wrong. So it stems from the ignorant and their usual misunderstanding of things they are told to be afraid of the left pushing on them.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            ” ’nuff said about Hitler’s devotion to evolution in carrying out his Social Darwinism.”

            That’s like saying: “This guy REALLY believed in laissez faire capitalism and that the market will decide the best product”, and then you support that with a quote where the guy says that the government should decide what the best products are and then intervene in the market to make those products cheaper.

            If he really believed the market decides the best products – i.e. the original meaning of “Survival of the fittest” as coined by Herbert Spencer – then he wouldn’t think the government needed to intervene to promote certain brands. Instead they would naturally become the most popular.

            Likewise, if Hitler believed in natural selection then he wouldn’t think ‘inferior races’ needed to be wiped out. They’d die out naturally.

          • Terry Capehart says:

            With a continuous trail of fraudulent concocted evidences for evolution dating back to the very beginnings of the so-called theory as well as scientists prostituting themselves to the universities and grant organizations which only fund research which publishes articles favorable to their politically correct agendas taints any claim that overwhelming consensus in favor of evolution is a valid argument.
            “Haeckel’s forceful, eminently comprehensible, if not always accurate, books appeared in all major languages and surely exerted more influence than the works of any other scientist, including Darwin…in convincing people throughout the world about the validity of evolution… Haeckel had exaggerated the similarities [between embryos of different species] by idealizations and omissions. He also, in some cases — in a procedure that can only be called fraudulent”, Stephen J. Gould.
            Nebraska man – passed off as a primitive hominid was nothing more than a single pig’s tooth. In 1971 National Geographic shocked the world with the discovery of a “stone-age” tribe called the Tasaday which took fifteen years before it was exposed as a total fraud. Then in 1983 “flipperpithecus was determined to be a rib bone of a porpoise not the 5 million year old collarbone of a hominid as Dr. Boaz claimed. Archaeoraptor, in 1999, a forged fossil passed off as a missing link between dinosaurs and birds was a hoax perpetrated by a Chinese farmer but accepted by National Geographic as genuine.
            Richard Dawkins once said in an interview, “But the fact that we and chimpanzees are cousins, the fact that we and amoebas are cousins, is beyond all educated dispute.” As stated earlier, Sir Fred Hoyle, the notable mathematician calculated that the chances of the 2,000 proteins in an amoeba assembling themselves by mutation and natural selection is 1 chance in 10 to the 40,000th power. An event with only ten percent of the above elements would still be less than one chance out of a billion trillion. Then take that concept to myriads upon myriads of different complex organisms and plants and you have a theory that is mathematically and logically beyond any reach of the imagination.
            “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils… We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.” Stephen J. Gould.
            Now back to the issue of intellectual dishonesty, since the vast majority of the media, academic institutions, and government agencies have adopted uber liberal policies and philosophies anyone with a different world view or different scientific view which does not validate evolution are severely discriminated against. They are not hired, they are fired, they are not given research grants or any funding, they are ridiculed, not given access to publication venues and not even given access to debate in an open forum at most schools and universities. “Scientists, particularly at the most prestigious institutions, regularly suppress and ridicule findings which contradict their current theories and assumptions . . . they now feel compelled to fit the observations to the theory and not vice versa.” Halton Arp. An example how the research funding is used to bully scientists was in the “so-called” aids epidemic in Africa in which no scientist received funding unless it was related to aids. In a very short period of time over 200 different diseases and disorders were classified as a part of the aids spectrum in order to receive funding which dramatically distorted the actual occurrence of aids. To quote Dr. Phil, “What gets rewarded gets repeated.” It is time for the theory of evolution to face the truth – the search for Bigfoot needs to have a reality check.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Terry, are you able to respond to any points we’ve made, or are you just going to quote mine now?

          • Kyle says:

            Your last reply seemed to offer literally no new argument against the validity of evolution. We have already dismissed your 1 in 10 to the 40,000th claim because that is not even about evolution. This has called into question your understanding of evolution for which you have not answered. You point out a few instances where people went to make a quick buck or get their 15 minutes of fame by falsifying and exaggerating claims based on evolution and think you have the knockout punch. That no more proves evolution wrong than the myriad cases of the religious lying and falsifying information for millennia. Everyone likes to point fingers at the liberal media and bias towards evolution without giving a seconds pause to question why that might be. Could it be that climate change and evolution and other such hot button issues for the regressed religious right are just true? Could it be that ID and creationism are just wrong? “No no. It can’t be. God said so!” or some such trumped up nonsense. No, it is in fact time that Christians join us in reality by accepting and understanding these issues.

  2. toby says:

    Transitional fossils will always be the bone stuck in the throat of intelligent design supporters. They will consider any gap in the record as positive evidence that there isn’t a gap and therefore some superbeing monkeyed around and BAM! new species. How this intelligent designer performs this feat is never addressed or probably even worried about or considered.

    1. Designer
    2. ????
    3. Species

    It’s an easy, factless answer to avoid the hard work and possible disappointment. Certain species may have never been in the ideal conditions to fossilize or they did and we just haven’t seen them yet because there are lots and lots of places to dig.

    Reply
  3. Mark says:

    I’m a Christian and I don’t have a problem with evolution. Although I do believe that modern humans (homo sapiens sapiens) were specially created by God approx. 150,000 years ago. The latest anthropological research on the LCA (last common ancestor) of modern humans seems to bear this out. It’s called the Out of Africa Hypothesis, and traces human origins back to either one man and one woman, or a small group of people, in East Africa. Which jives very well with the Genesis account. The study uses the Y-chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA of people-groups worldwide to reach its conclusions, so it’s grounded in solid science, and not just speculation.

    Reply
      • Beck says:

        “DNA shows very clearly that we’re just one more primate” No, we are “primates” because we have phisical characteristics (not DNA) that fit into that category. Furthermore, DNA doesn’t really “show” anything but common information which isn’t surprising considering our body plans are very similar. It can be used just as easy to show a common designer, but you believe what you want.

        Reply
        • Bob Seidensticker says:

          [DNA] can be used just as easy to show a common designer …

          Does it? That our DNA puts us squarely with the rest of the primates is certainly something that God could do, but wouldn’t his special creation look very, very different than just another primate?

          … but you believe what you want.

          This isn’t a choice thing. I always accept the scientific consensus. (What else can I do when I’m an outsider to science?)

          Reply
          • Beck says:

            You’re assuming what God would or shold do which is a a silly thing to attempt. The fact that an engineer would use stone for both a bridge and a house just means its a good building material not that one evolved into another. As for part 2 I would like to point out if you look at history being on the side of the “consensus” doesn’t make you right.

          • Bob Seidensticker says:

            Beck:

            I have no choice but to evaluate claims about God myself. I’m not telling God he’s doing it wrong since I don’t yet see sufficient evidence for God. Could God create so that mankind doesn’t look special? Sure, but that simply means that the natural explanation works just fine.

            You’re right that the consensus isn’t always right. But in the case of me being a layman, the scientific consensus is the best option we have.

          • Beck says:

            I have no choice but to evaluate claims about science myself. I’m not telling scientists they’re doing it wrong simply because I don’t yet see sufficient evidence for neo-Darwinian evolution.
            Why insist on waiting for the answers simply through natural means when the intelligent one works better.

          • toby says:

            Sorry to jump in, but Beck please tell us how intelligent design explains anything and how does one go about testing any claims made by it. It seems to me the only claim is “it’s all designed”. Fine, then tell us how that might be tested and how that design takes place. No one can. Maybe that’ll change, but until someone comes up with a way to test it or observe it, or find any evidence, then it’s not really an effective hypothesis.

          • Bob Seidensticker says:

            Beck:

            I have no choice but to evaluate claims about science myself.

            No choice? On the contrary: you could let the scientists decide what the science is. Laymen like you and I don’t get a vote.

            I’m not telling scientists they’re doing it wrong simply because I don’t yet see sufficient evidence for neo-Darwinian evolution.

            Good–don’t tell the scientists they’re doing it wrong. And if you don’t understand evolution, perhaps that’s because you’re not a biologist.

            Why insist on waiting for the answers simply through natural means when the intelligent one works better.

            (1) Evolution explains things nicely right now. I know that because the people qualified to evaluate the evidence have said so.

            (2) Waiting? Is that your concern–you’re just impatient, and Christianity has an answer while science doesn’t? In the first place, science does (it’s evolution). In the second place, where there is a bona fide question, who would want to jump in with religion’s answer when religion has never taught us anything new about reality? I think the discipline you’re looking for is science.

          • Beck says:

            It appears to me people that question the preditiction power of ID don’t really see how some seemingly mundane predictions have already come true, such as how we are slowly realizing how “junk DNA” contains less and less junk. To me it seems people like you define “effective hypothesis” as one that can have money poured into it to test if it holds up, but even when you do those things that doesn’t mean it’s the truth. I’d like to make it clear that I think studying to see if something can be done by only processes we observe in nature is a very effective tool to understand mechanisms of nature, but that doesn’t mean that acknowledging intelligence may be involved isn’t helpful in certain situations.

          • Beck says:

            Bob, if you wanna be a sheep and follow an “expert” just because they say so go ahead, but I’m not gonna limit my intelligence and say “I’m too dumb to look at data and decide which scientists may have it right and which ones may be misguided”.

          • Beck says:

            BTW that was real cute how you just threw out “if you don’t understand evolution” acting like I said anything that could be interpreted as that or you know what I do and do not understand.

          • Bob Seidensticker says:

            Beck:

            how we are slowly realizing how “junk DNA” contains less and less junk.

            So there’s less junk DNA? I’m not sure that’s surprising. If you’re good at making predictions, then tell us how much DNA we should see as junk. If you say that it’ll be a negligible fraction, then I suggest you look up “c-value paradox” or “c-value enigma.” The best illustration IMO is the chart labeled “C-value (pg)” near the bottom of this page:

            http://mol-biol4masters.masters.grkraj.org/html/DNA_C_Value_Paradox1-Introduction.htm

            To me it seems people like you define “effective hypothesis” as one that can have money poured into it to test if it holds up, but even when you do those things that doesn’t mean it’s the truth.

            Science doesn’t find the truth. It only finds an approximation. It’s always provisional.

            that doesn’t mean that acknowledging intelligence may be involved isn’t helpful in certain situations.

            That’s a fine hypothesis, but it’s an extraordinary one and should only be the result of following the evidence. So far, it’s not been necessary.

            Bob, if you wanna be a sheep and follow an “expert” just because they say so go ahead, but I’m not gonna limit my intelligence and say “I’m too dumb to look at data and decide which scientists may have it right and which ones may be misguided”.

            ?? You’re an expert in everything? You give the pilot tips when there’s turbulence? You barge into the operating room to critique the surgeon?

            You’re not too dumb—you’re too ignorant. When you correct that ignorance with a doctorate in biology, then go for it. I’ll respect your opinion. Until that point, it’s simply arrogant to set yourself up as Judge of All Science. (I’m assuming you have no doctorates in any science; correct me if that’s wrong.)

            BTW that was real cute how you just threw out “if you don’t understand evolution” acting like I said anything that could be interpreted as that or you know what I do and do not understand.

            Then fill me in instead of whining about how hurtful I am. “If you don’t understand evolution, perhaps that’s because you’re not a biologist” sounds like a reasonable observation to me.

          • Beck says:

            Should you require a PHD on me before having opinions about me? I didn’t think so. There are plenty of scientists who think evolution is a farce but keep quiet so they can continue to be hired ,but there are some brave enough to speak out you just dont want to accept their interpretation of the data.
            As for the article the impression i got from it is that the only reason they were surprised at the genome size is because they were committed to the idea of common decent. If they weren’t tied to that belief seeing a large genome size not being associated with a complex creature wouldn’t be a paradox. I will admit I briefly glanced at the parts you didn’t say to skip to and I didn’t get much sleep so if I miss read I’m open to your interpretation.

          • Beck says:

            And if you actuall understood what I meant when I spoke of misguided scientists I was saying im not the judge of science ,but I can judge which scientists it seems more reasonable to follow.

          • Bob Seidensticker says:

            Beck:

            There are plenty of scientists who think evolution is a farce but keep quiet so they can continue to be hired

            Is evolution still the consensus? I thought so.

            but there are some brave enough to speak out you just dont want to accept their interpretation of the data.

            What’s brave about blowing the lid off this enormous discipline and accepting your Nobel Prize? Sounds pretty straightforward to me. I’d do it. It’s a widely held secret within biology that evolution is nonsense? Show me.

            If they weren’t tied to that belief seeing a large genome size not being associated with a complex creature wouldn’t be a paradox.

            Do I misunderstand your position? You’re saying that junk DNA is nonsense, right? OK, then explain why protozoa have 200× more DNA than humans. Are they really that much more complicated that they need all that?

            And if you actuall understood what I meant when I spoke of misguided scientists I was saying im not the judge of science ,but I can judge which scientists it seems more reasonable to follow.

            Here’s how I do it: I look for the consensus. And then I follow it. Is there any other way for we laymen to do it?

          • Beck says:

            “Here’s how I do it: I look for the consensus. And then I follow it. Is there any other way for we laymen to do it?” Ya, you could pick a name out of a hat and only listen to scientists of that name. I dont care how you pick who’s opinions you believe but I like to scrutinize my selections. And it seems like now you are the one arguing from ignorance, you don’t know what the extra information for and the scientists don’t seem to either really. So you are saying either God wouldn’t do it this way (assuming) or that the extra information couldn’t possibly have a reasonable function (assuming).

          • toby says:

            . . . we are slowly realizing how “junk DNA” contains less and less junk
            Explain how this implies intelligent design. Frank and other apologists like to throw out how that the human genome would fill a 1000 encyclopedias (or whatever number) implying that the amount of DNA is somehow confirmatory of ID, yet they are silent on things like the Paris japonica plant that has 50 times more DNA than humans. It would seem that if we’re the pinnacle of some intelligent being’s design then the designer is incredibly sloppy or wasteful of DNA if a simple plant takes more than we do (and when we know other plants have far less DNA).

          • Beck says:

            I never said it “implied” anything, I said it was a prediction. Therefore, answering your original question.

          • Bob Seidensticker says:

            Beck:

            you could pick a name out of a hat and only listen to scientists of that name.

            I could … but I don’t. I go with the consensus. But thanks for the suggestion.

            I dont care how you pick who’s opinions you believe but I like to scrutinize my selections.

            Why is this hard? If you’re not a biologist, you’re not qualified to critique the science.

            you don’t know what the extra information for and the scientists don’t seem to either really.

            You’ve got a killer argument for the biologists? Then give it to them. Don’t waste time with me. I’ve already made clear that I’m not a biologist, remember?

            Or are you saying that your arguments are only effective with other laymen? Not very useful arguments then.

          • Beck says:

            Apparently you cant tell the difference between critiquing science and critiquing scientists. I know I’m not the best at writing (in this case typing) , but surely you should have been able to differentiate between the to from what I have already said.
            And I am no arguing anything with scientists I’m telling you they are saying they don’t know. I really don’t understand why you can’t grasp my position.

          • Kevin Haug says:

            “Why is this hard? If you’re not a biologist, you’re not qualified to critique the science.”

            And are you a theologian? If not, then I suggest that logically you have no place critiquing God. 🙂

          • Kyle says:

            And if the topic was how parts of the bible can be interpreted or why you feel a particular doctrine has more validity than another, by all means let the theologians decide that. A biologist shouldn’t be taking the time to critique such things. The same way a theologian should not critique scientific fact. If the basis of your practice/occupation/career is the belief the bible is true, you are more than welcome to it and to argue and debate with those that are working from the same worldview. When the topic has no footing or basis in religion you are punching out of your weight class trying to argue with no education in the area.

          • Bob Seidensticker says:

            Kevin: Clever comeback, but it doesn’t work that way. Even theologians disagree over the facts of religion. Get Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, and Scientology experts in a room and ask them the name(s) of the god(s) and what to do to placate them. They can’t even agree on the number.

            That’s why there’s a map of world religions but not a map of world science.

        • Bob Seidensticker says:

          I’m well read on Creationism/ID, thanks.

          But what distinction do you find between these two categories of sites? I’d say that talkorigins.org is supported by science and gives evidence the highest priority while reasons.org and others with a faith-centric statement of purpose have a different agenda.

          Reply
          • Kyle says:

            Dr. Turek, attempting to explain away scientific findings that don’t jive with your worldview by saying they could be bias can be turned right back around on you. You are biased towards finding an intelligent cause. Your prior philosophical commitment is getting in the way. Theology doesn’t say anything, theologians do. When the subject is science, I’m more inclined to believe the scientists. If the topic was theology, I’d give the theologians more credit.

          • Bob Seidensticker says:

            Frank:

            It’s not about the scientific evidence (everyone has access to that), but about how to interpret the scientific evidence.

            And the people able to evaluate that evidence are certainly not me (a layman) but the professionals in that particular scientific field. Evolution is pretty much universally accepted within biology. What option do I have but to accept evolution as the best explanation for life being the way it is that we have at the moment?

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Everyone may have access to the information but that doesn’t mean everyone is equally qualified to understand it. And it certainly doesn’t mean that everyone HAS accessed it. Who here has examined the evidence as a much as the average biologist?

            And the claims of philosophical bias appear odd when biologists supporting evolution come in all philosophical stripes, including Christian, whereas virtually all the opponents of it are Christian apologists or work for the Discovery Institute or similar organisations.

            In short, the only people making it a religious issue are Fundamentalist Christians and Muslims.

          • Mark says:

            The above-mentioned websites do not espouse IS, Bob, nor do they believe in Young-Earth Creationism. See for yourself.

  4. Frank Turek says:

    Gentlemen, Of course there may be bias both ways. However, if one is going to assert macroevolution is true, that person must show us the naturalistic mechanism that can create the millions of pages of specified and complex unique codes we find in even the simplest genomes. In all of our observational experience repetitive natural processes can’t do that, only minds can. Certainly macroevolution is possible, but it doesn’t seem likely given the inability of natural laws do to what is necessary with the genome, not to mention the problems presented by epigenetic information, genetic limits, irreducible complexity, the Cambrian Explosion and the like.

    One can assert that naturalistic macroevolution has occurred, but without a naturalistic mechanism it can’t be supported. If a sound naturalistic mechanism had been found, the Royal Society would not be convening this conference in November where they say:” Developments in evolutionary biology and adjacent fields have produced calls for revision of the standard theory of evolution, although the issues involved remain hotly contested.” https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/2016/11/evolutionary-biology/
    Note: the Royal Society is not the Discovery Institute.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Frank, this strikes me as similar to pointing at two Christians debating points of doctrine and painting it as a crisis of faith. That’s a debate about the ‘standard THEORY of evolution’, not evolution itself.

      You mention many ‘problems’. To take one of them – irreducible complexity is dead as a proposition. It has no currency in mainstream biology. It was never more than an argument from ignorance and incredulity in the first place.

      Reply
      • Frank Turek says:

        Andy, What is the naturalistic mechanism that can gradually create the genome and irreducibly complex biological systems?

        Reply
        • Bob Seidensticker says:

          If this is an honest question driven by ignorance, I suggest you ask a biologist or read a textbook. If it’s just a gotcha question, the commenters here are probably not professional biologists. I’m sure you could ask a puzzler that we couldn’t answer. But how does that address the fact that evolution is the scientific consensus?

          Reply
          • Frank Turek says:

            Bob, I’m open to correction. Please cite me a professional biologist who has answered the question: What is the naturalistic mechanism that can gradually create the genome and irreducibly complex biological systems?

            When we say that only a mind can do so, we are not arguing from ignorance. We are not arguing from what we don’t know but from what we do know– that only intelligence produces messages and codes and has the foresight to put together working systems all at once.

            Again, I believe the consensus (which is unraveling at the moment) is based on a philosophical commitment to naturalism. It is not because the evidence is behind macroevolution. If it was, biologists would simply identify the naturalistic mechanism that can create biologically complex systems and millions of pages of digital code and shut the folks up at the Discovery Institute forever. They can’t do that because no such natural process exists.

          • Bob Seidensticker says:

            Frank:

            Bob, I’m open to correction.

            Great to hear.

            Please cite me a professional biologist who has answered the question: What is the naturalistic mechanism that can gradually create the genome and irreducibly complex biological systems?

            This all sounds like something a basic biology textbook covers, but that’s beside the point. The burden of proof is yours. Evolution is the scientific consensus, and you’re the underdog. If you have a killer argument that will expose evolution for the crumbling pile of cards that it is, great. But don’t talk to me about it—I’m a layman. Tell it to someone who has a useful opinion.

            When we say that only a mind can do so, we are not arguing from ignorance.

            You know of no counterexamples to “intelligence comes from minds,” but you also know of no counterexamples to “minds come from physical brains.” If you want to point to the former, you must acknowledge the latter.

            I believe the consensus (which is unraveling at the moment)

            That’s a bold claim, but it’s just what an outsider would say. Show me that from the inside. In fact, every discussion about the evolution/ID argument from the evolution side that I’ve ever heard denies this.

        • KR says:

          It’s my understanding that the general mechanism of evolution is (broadly) mutation, recombination, natural selection and genetic drift (there are other factors but they can mostly be sorted under one of the above). All of these can be demonstrated to have an effect on the allelic frequencies within a population over time (i.e. evolution). What other mechanism would you suggest?

          Reply
      • TGM says:

        Hi Frank, the naturalistic mechanism is ‘chemistry’. It’s a fascinating process and biochemists are constantly unweaving its facets. As for irreducibly complex systems, your unstated implication is that such things exist. The common examples have all been debunked and the champion of irreducible complexity, Michael Behe, was publicly embarrassed in Dover. Design proponents might claim as irreducible a system that has not been adequately deciphered, but this is simply an argument from ignorance. Just because a system _has not_ been reduced in our understanding, does not mean that it _cannot_ be reduced. So I respectfully disagree on both naturalistic and philosophical grounds.

        Reply
          • Kyle says:

            You say “millions of pages of digital code” like it is a book that had to be written from scratch. It’s much more plausible that in the copying of a book that is millions of pages mistakes are bound to be made, thus introducing variation in the “code”. Again, you not understanding how it works is no basis to say it does not work. Science isn’t obligated to provide answers that everyone can understand.

          • toby says:

            Frank, it’s not a digital code. Modern use of digital is usually a reference to binary. Using the etymology of the word still doesn’t help as it is bound to numbers (very basically it means ‘of fingers and toes’ as pertains to counting). I suppose you could coin a new term for your next publication. Alphaquaternary. But really DNA has nothing to do with the letters that were assigned to it.

            As to what chemistry produces codes? All of them. H20. CH4. All molecules big and small produce a “code”. But the code, the information, is our processing the make up of the chemical into something we can understand.

    • toby says:

      Gentlemen, Of course there may be bias both ways. However, if one is going to assert macroevolution is true, that person must show us the naturalistic mechanism that can create the millions of pages of specified and complex unique codes we find in even the simplest genomes.

      Certainly macroevolution is possible, but it doesn’t seem likely given the inability of natural laws do to what is necessary with the genome, not to mention the problems presented by epigenetic information, genetic limits, irreducible complexity, the Cambrian Explosion and the like.

      Frank, philosophically speaking, can you see how these statements can be seen to be arguments from ignorance? Can you see how, in light of these statements, someone might consider your hypothesis (a god) rather ad hoc?

      Reply
      • Frank Turek says:

        Yes, agree Toby. Those statements taken alone may give that impression. However, as I mentioned elsewhere, millions of pages of digital code provide positive evidence FOR an intelligent being. In other words, we don’t merely lack a natural cause; we have evidence pointing to intelligence. This is the same principle used by detectives and archaeologists. The folks that discovered the Rosetta Stone didn’t merely lack a natural explanation; the three messages on the Rosetta Stone provide positive evidence for an intelligent being.

        Reply
        • Bob Seidensticker says:

          millions of pages of digital code provide positive evidence FOR an intelligent being

          And the crazy stuff in DNA–atavisms, vestigial features, endogenous retroviruses, pseudogenes, the c-value enigma–soundly defeat the design hypothesis. Sure, that doesn’t prove that God didn’t make DNA in a way that makes no sense to us, but the design hypothesis (DNA bears the hallmarks of a designer) fails. I discuss this in more detail here.

          Reply
        • toby says:

          You mentioned the code stuff in what I quoted. You’re conflating things that we know are intelligent codes (the rosetta stone) with things that we don’t know to be intelligently originated. What you’re doing is asserting intelligence onto DNA when we don’t know that to be the case. Let’s call it the “putting the cart before the horse fallacy”. It seems that you’re ignoring other “information” in nature. Tree rings would be an example of us imposing intelligence. Just because we get information from something, doesn’t mean that that information was put into it by design. You can fill millions of pages with the code you can generate from the atomic structure you find in a specific quantity of water in a cup. H20, repeated over and over. You can draw it all out with hydrogen bonds, a huge map of water with information of chemical shape and volume and weight and temperature and density.

          Apologists don’t argue for design in “regular chemistry”. But as an extension of your beliefs it is designed. So if the entire universe is designed then how do you recognize design? You’re cherry picking one thing, genetics, and saying, “AH! Look! Design!” when you literally believe everything around it is too! What’s un-designed look like then? Demonstrate to us that. Show us why the design argument doesn’t reduce down to “all of the universe is designed and un-designed would be not the universe”.

          Reply
          • Bob Seidensticker says:

            toby: Nicely put. This is the problem with the example of Paley’s watch. He sees the watch stand out from the background and concludes that it was designed. But then the stuff in the background (rocks, trees, bushes, rivers) must not have been designed! He defeats his own argument.

          • TGM says:

            Actually Bob, what I think Paley does is that he infers design from the complexity of the watch, not because it stands out. This, to me, is the wrong justification for inferring design. If he did what you suggest (properly), Paley would have to come to the correct conclusion and defeat his own argument.

            So the question is, why would a design proponent think complexity is better evidence of design than distinctiveness? Complexity is everywhere. It seems that theists are selective in their evaluation of which complexities constitute design and which do not. Curiously, the complexities they choose to be designed are those for which they have external evidence for design. Go figure.

          • Bob Seidensticker says:

            TGM: The examples that Creationists raise (Mount Rushmore, etc.) are always ones where we know that it’s created. What is needed is something like the black slab on the moon in the movie 2001.

            So much of nature is clearly governed and explained by natural laws, that to look at it in a meta way and say, “Golly–so darn complex!” and infer design from that is simply an argument from ignorance.

  5. Mack says:

    Millions of intelligent people beleive in God now and throughout history. If you rest your beleif system on consensus this is one for you. By the way do you live your life totally by the consensus of others? Seems to me to be a very precarious way to live.

    Reply
    • Kyle says:

      Great solution. Having a little trouble picking one though. Do I choose Allah? Yahweh? Zeus? Vishnu? All of these currently have or have had a consensus.

      Reply
    • Bob Seidensticker says:

      Mack: I don’t live my life by the consensus of others, but I do get my scientific conclusions from the consensus of scientists. (Kind of obvious, right? I mean, where else would I get my science, given that I’m not a scientist?)

      Reply
  6. Bob Seidensticker says:

    Frank:

    if one is going to assert macroevolution is true, that person must show us the naturalistic mechanism that can create the millions of pages of specified and complex unique codes we find in even the simplest genomes.

    Evolution is the scientific consensus. If you’re saying that you don’t understand it yet, OK, but that’s hardly surprising assuming you don’t have an advanced degree in biology. “I don’t understand it” is no reason to reject it. That you don’t fully understand avionics doesn’t mean that you’re justified in saying that planes don’t fly.

    As for the complexity of DNA, I find that DNA alone defeats the design hypothesis. More at this post:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/11/argument-from-design-busted-2/

    In all of our observational experience repetitive natural processes can’t do that, only minds can.

    And in all our observational experience, the only minds are housed in brains.

    Certainly macroevolution is possible

    You mean speciation? I’ve always wondered how those who reject evolution can accept what they call microevolution without accepting speciation. If a little change can happen over a certain amount of time, lots of change happens over longer time. Or, if there’s some sort of barrier that means that a “kind” can only become another of the same kind, what is that barrier?

    If a sound naturalistic mechanism had been found, the Royal Society would not be convening this conference in November where they say:” Developments in evolutionary biology and adjacent fields have produced calls for revision of the standard theory of evolution, although the issues involved remain hotly contested.”

    Where’s the problem? Do these people reject evolution? Will they do so after the conference?

    And if you say that evolution is about to be overturned now—it’s a theory in crisis … for 30 years and counting—that’s great! I’ll happily accept whatever they come up with next. Let me know what the consensus is, and I’m there. I have no agenda.

    Reply
    • Frank Turek says:

      Bob, they are admitting the neo-Darwinian mechanism is inadequate to explain the rich diversity of life, hence the conference. If they don’t have a mechanism, how can they say that macroevolution is true?

      Reply
      • Bob Seidensticker says:

        As I stated, I follow the consensus. You say that it’s changing? Then let me know when that happens. You say it’s changed? Then show me that the majority of biologists reject evolution. Can’t do it? Then why are we having this conversation?

        Your opening paragraph is a punch line I’ve already used myself. The desperate subtitle on Denton’s new book is a clear admission of failure. A theory still in crisis? After 30 years? When does it move from in crisis to dead? This is the slowest moving death I’ve ever heard of, especially when all the people qualified to be Evolution’s physician are saying that it’s healthier than ever.

        Reply
        • Frank Turek says:

          Hi Bob, it took 30 years for the scientific community to admit that Piltdown Man was a hoax. They knew it couldn’t be a hoax because they had already philosophically decided macroevolution was true. The “consensus” changes very slowly and, in this case, is built off the philosophical presupposition that life has to be explained naturally. Intelligence is ruled out in advance.

          Reply
          • Kyle says:

            Everything that has been explained has a natural explanation. Most of these natural explanations once had super-natural explanations courtesy of religion. Intelligence is ruled out because it is utterly implausible with no evidence to support. Continuing to point at “irreducible complexity” and “the diversity of the genome” at best only points out a problem. Claiming some intelligence was the guiding hand is and absolute abdication of the responsibility of figuring out the answer. We are now allowed to wash our hands of this and not delve any further. You say it took 30 years to admit the Piltdown Man was a hoax, but how many years did it take for the church to admit the earth revolved around the sun or the earth was round? Someone correct me if I’m wrong but I believe it was Christopher Hitchens who proffered this challenge. Name one question for which there had been an adequate scientific explanation that has since been better explained by a religious one. Also name a question for which there had been an adequate religious explanation that has since been better explained by science. The latter proposition has innumerable answers, the former not so much. All you do in asserting that evolution doesn’t have a mechanism to explain these issues (and it may very well have one, I’m certainly not an expert) and because of that we should assume intelligence, is invoke the God of the gaps. As soon as we have an adequate explanation you will drop this argument and pick up the argument over the new gaps in knowledge. It seems like most Christians who invoke the God of the gaps don’t understand that science doesn’t attempt to exactly explain every detail or answer questions in a manner that prevents more questions from being asked. It is a constant push closer to the truth and as the journey continues more questions will be uncovered.

          • TGM says:

            “As soon as we have an adequate explanation you will drop this argument and pick up the argument over the new gaps in knowledge.”

            Actually, experience tells us that they’ll still deny the explanation while simultaneously identifying new gaps.

            And Frank, the subtle point that you overlooked regarding Piltdown Man is that it was scientists, using scientific methods, who discovered the hoax. It’s not like there were wily theologians running around telling us Piltdown Man was a fraud.

          • Mark says:

            “Name one question for which there had been an adequate scientific explanation that has since been better explained by a religious one.”
            OK, what caused the universe to begin to exist?
            Science used to say the universe was eternal; now we know it’s not.
            Science is the study of nature.
            The cause of the beginning of all nature therefore cannot be natural.
            It must come from outside nature (supernatural), for nothing can cause itself to come into existence.

          • KR says:

            Mark wrote: “Science used to say the universe was eternal; now we know it’s not.”

            We do? Everything I’ve read on this matter tells me it’s very much an open question. There are certainly cosmologists like Alan Guth and Sean Carroll that seem open to the idea that the universe may be eternal in the past.

          • Kyle says:

            Not sure what you’re trying to get at, but any proof of a beginning to the universe vs a past eternal one is coming from science. Religion is just using scientific findings to corroborate a narrative they are trying to establish.

            That is not at all how the terms natural and supernatural are used. Re-purposing terms to fit your worldview does not make a good argument.

          • Bob Seidensticker says:

            Frank:

            it took 30 years for the scientific community to admit that Piltdown Man was a hoax.

            Not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about a very important theory, not a single hoax. Evolution has been the scientific consensus for about 150 years. I can’t think of a single example of science going from A to B and back to A again (in our case: Creationism to evolution and then back).

            You need to make your arguments from within biology. When they say that evolution doesn’t work, I’ll believe it. It would be foolish to reject it based on the opinion of a single not-biologist.

  7. toby says:

    Can someone here explain the mechanism of design? Frank points to the rosetta stone as being an example of intelligent design. This implies a mechanism. Language transformed into graphics and recorded with a utensil onto stone. How does an intelligent designer make DNA, RNA, etc? So far as we know from research there are ways to go about this—or at least edit genetic materials with things like Crispr cas9. Wouldn’t this suggest that an intelligent designer is working within the bounds of nature, with nature’s chemistry and physics? Explain other mechanisms.
    What excludes the designer from being an alien race? If the designer is or could be an alien race it would certainly seem to destroy any of the christian ideas of creation. Unless, of course, if they simply say, “Well they didn’t talk about that in the bible . . . that doesn’t mean the christian god isn’t real though . . . they just left that part out.”

    Reply
    • Mark says:

      Then the question becomes: “Who designed the aliens?”

      When it comes to the origin of life, God IS the alien.

      Why aliens and not God?

      Reply
      • Kyle says:

        This is where Christianity loses credibility. Your definition of God and his powers is so broad and vague that you make him unfalsifiable. You would argue from things like the beauty of nature and more earthbound reasons… unless there are aliens that made us. Then he made them. It’s ridiculous.

        Reply
      • toby says:

        Then the question becomes: “Who designed the aliens?”
        When it comes to the origin of life, God IS the alien.
        Why aliens and not God?

        Yes, a regress, but still this isn’t mentioned in the bible, a book by an all knowing being “revealed” to men to write it down. It clearly says that people were made from dirt and ribs. And this still gets you no further to a mechanism by which the design occurred.

        This is an admission that intelligent design is a rebranding of creationism which is not allow to be taught in public schools. I’ve heard intelligent design proponents say that, yes, designers could have been aliens, but then they’re undermining their religious texts which is the only reason they’re pushing this weak hypothesis.

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  8. Rosser says:

    Interesting article and discussions, but I need some clarification. I thought science looked at HOW God acts in the world, not IF God acts in the world. This is the framework in which science began, and it seems to have maintained the same framework. Does God act through a process of Darwinian evolution or does God use some other method to produce or change life seems to be the question on the table. To ask science if God exists seems to be somewhat nonsensical? What am I missing?

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