Two Billion Years Without Evolution?

Over at UD, we have a thread entitled:

Why does defending Darwin increasingly remind one of defending communist economics?

It features some quotes from J. William Schopf, regarding some ancient fossils that appear morphologically identical to modern microorganisms.

“It seems astounding that life has not evolved for more than 2 billion years — nearly half the history of Earth,” said J. William Schopf, a UCLA professor of earth, planetary and space sciences in the UCLA College who was the study’s lead author. “Given that evolution is a fact, this lack of evolution needs to be explained.”


“The rule of biology is not to evolve unless the physical or biological environment changes, which is consistent with Darwin,” said Schopf, who also is director of UCLA’s Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life. The environment in which these microorganisms live has remained essentially unchanged for 3 billion years, he said.

Jerry Coyne has blogged the same topic:

At UD, Mapou has posted:

The only problem with this is that random mutations, the engine of change in Darwinian evolution, do not care whether the environment changes or not. Mutations keep occurring no matter what. You just got to love Darwinists.

Which, ironically, is the same thing Jerry Coyne says.

A note to our friends at Uncommon Descent

I see that Denyse has taken time away from misinterpreting / misrepresenting decade old articles she found on google to visit our little home. Come on in Denyse! Would you like a cuppa? Don’t worry, there are no “Brit Toffs” here.

Listen, as you’ve stopped by, we’d like to have a quick chat about UD:

Frankly, we’re a bit disappointed. We were hoping for some design science to chew on, some CSI calculations to review. But instead we were saddened when we learned that neither Barry Arrington nor KairosFocus understand CSI. We’re going to give you a little time to get up to speed with the literature so that we can re-engage when you know the stuff. You don’t need to make up more acronyms like FIASCO: FOCUS on mainstream ID concepts. We may find fault with Dembski’s work but he was leagues ahead of where you are now.

Start here:

There’s an EleP(T|H)ant in the room that you need to come to terms with. Perhaps when you understand the source material we can have a better chat (and therefore more posts).

We also note that UD has expanded to more general science denialism / Republican talking points. Are you sure you want to do that? Pretending to be a science blog was more entertaining.

Well thanks for dropping by. We’ll keep our ears to the ground and report back if scientists ever isolate the specific, “selfish gene”.

The Twilight of Intelligent Design (Open thread)


It just dawned on me that ID is dead.

Dembski is off all radar. He doesn’t even show up in the search box at South Carolina bible college or whatever. The last post on the Design Inference is a year old.

Meyer’s book went up like a firework and came down with the stick.

Most of the static websites are moribund. UD has banned virtually all dissenters. The few brave enough to wander over to TSZ bail out after a couple of rounds. The biologic institute inflates its “selected publications” with publications that have nothing to do with the biologic institute and seems to be doing no more than pretending to produce output.

Bio-Complexity is moribund.

Behe doesn’t seem to have much to say.

The big guys won’t come out to debate. The small ones mostly won’t leave heavily censored sites. Even the UD newsdesk peddles 6 year old stories as “news”.

And all the threads are about religion. Or tossing coins.

I don’t know why I hadn’t seen it before.

It’s dead.

Posted at “After the Bar Closes on Jan. 05 2014,16:37 by Febble (Elizabeth Liddle) Continue reading

Circularity of using CSI to conclude Design?

At Uncommon Descent, William Dembski’s and Robert Marks’s coauthor Winston Ewert has made a post conceding that using Complex Specified Information to conclude that evolution of an adaptation is improbable is in fact circular. This was argued at UD by “Keith S.” (our own “keiths”) in recent weeks. It was long asserted by various people here, and was argued in posts here by Elizabeth Liddle in her “Belling the Cat” and “EleP(T|H)ant in the room” series of posts (here, here, and here). I had posted at Panda’s Thumb on the same issue.

Here is a bit of what Ewert posted at UD:

CSI and Specified complexity do not help in any way to establish that the evolution of the bacterial flagellum is improbable. Rather, the only way to establish that the bacterial flagellum exhibits CSI is to first show that it was improbable. Any attempt to use CSI to establish the improbability of evolution is deeply fallacious.

I have put up this post so that keiths and others can discuss what Ewert conceded. I urge people to read his post carefully. There are still aspects of it that I am not sure I understand. What for example is the practical distinction between showing that evolution is very improbable and showing that it is impossible? Ewert seems to think that CSI has a role to play there.

Having this concession from Ewert may surprise Denyse O’Leary (“News” at UD) and UD’s head honcho Barry Arrington. Both of them have declared that a big problem for evolution is the observation of CSI. Here is Barry in 2011 (here):

All it would take is even one instance of CSI or IC being observed to arise through chance or mechanical necessity or a combination of the two. Such an observation would blow the ID project out of the water.

Ewert is conceding that one does not first find CSI and then conclude from this that evolution is improbable. Barry and Denyse O’Leary said the opposite — that having observed CSI, one could conclude that evolution was improbable.

The discussion of Ewert’s post at UD is interesting, but maybe we can have some useful discussion here too.

Uncommon Descent: Back to Banning?

Couldn’t resist the tribute to Denyse?

The new open policy at Uncommon Descent appears to have stalled somewhat. In trying to post a comment this morning I find it disappears. I tried on a couple of threads to no avail. Going on past behaviour, I suspect Barry Arrington has found having an open venue even less appealing than a blog dying from lack of traffic. Of course I could be wrong and will be ready to eat my hat if it turns out to be a glitch. Continue reading

Andre: “PCD stops unguided evolution in its tracks”

UD commenter Andre has a bad case of PCD OCD.

PCD stands for “programmed cell death”. Andre is convinced that it is the death knell not only of cells, but of modern evolutionary theory. He has been spamming the “bomb” thread at UD in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade us of this. (112 mentions of PCD in that thread, but no intelligible argument from Andre.)

Rich suggested that we set up a thread for him here, which I think is a great idea.

Here you go, Andre.  Tell us why PCD is an unguided evolution killer, and be prepared to learn why it is not.

Compressed Sensing / Sampling

I’m still trying to push ID forward as science. I previously suggest Bendford’s Law might be a fruitful avenue for ID research, but there were no takers I know of. Recently I came across Compressed Sensing, and I think this might also be a concept IDist want to explore. Here is the Wikipedia page:

See also:

It seems to be able to recreate structured datasets with surprisingly high fidelity from very low samples. Could it be used to find a hallmark of design?
So, Barry@UD – time to stop the apologetics wagon and do some science. Unfortunately you’ve banned the brightest minds at UD but a couple of the regulars might want to have a crack at this?

Critique of Dembski’s not-so-new argument, at PT

We interrupt all this philosophy for a brief announcement: I have written a critique of the arguments William Dembski used in his talk on 14 August at the Computations in Science Seminar at the University of Chicago, which can watch on this Youtube video. These were based primarily on the Conservation of Information (CoI) argument of William Dembski and Robert Marks, and these were in turn based on their earlier Search For a Search (SFS) argument. Neither those arguments nor my response are new, but I hope that the new post will explain the issues clearly.

The critique will be found here, at Panda’s Thumb.

I suspect that most of the discussion will occur at PT but I will try to respond here as well.

Definitive Demise of “Intelligent Design”?

I don’t know if anyone is still following the Uncommon Descent blog, currently owned by lawyer Barry Arrington. It is supposed to be a blog dedicated to “Intelligent Design” – the idea that evolutionary theories are unable to account for the diversity of life on Earth. However, interest in ID has been on the wane since its peak around December 2005 (the run-up to the decision on whether ID is genuinely scientific).



Hat-tip – Rich Hughes

Continue reading

ID’s grand quest

Scordova has posted something that caught my attention at UD.

William Dembski:

It’s up to ID proponents to demonstrate a few incontrovertible instances where design is uniquely fruitful for biology. Scientists without an inordinate attachment to Darwinian evolution (and there are many, though this fact is not widely advertised) will be only too happy to shift their allegiance if they think that intelligent design is where the interesting problems in biology lie.

Continue reading