The biggest news of this week for the “conversation” this blog is in some small way a part of will likely be the discussion between Drs. Michael Behe and S. Joshua Swamidass in Texas. The answer for both men to the polemical question above is not “God w/out evolution”, but rather “God with evolution,” iow both God and evolution. So what else important is there left for them to disagree about? http://www.veritas.org/location/texas-a-m-university/
For Behe, “evolution” has a narrower meaning than it does for Swamidass. One key question, that likely won’t be asked, is: how wide is Swamidass’ meaning of “evolution” and where does it stop (i.e. what doesn’t ‘evolve’)? Is Swamidass, who somewhat incredulously claims to be neither a creationist nor an evolutionist, actually both? One of the biggest challenges unaddressed still by Swamidass regarding his evolutionism will be met when he starts describing or explaining the “limits of evolutionary theories”, rather than only “the great possibilities of evolutionary theories”, now as we live in a post-Darwinian, extended synthesis scenario.
We may nevertheless hope for some reconciliation, or even a moment or two of peace amidst an artificial storm in the USA involving “Intelligent Design”, evolution, and creationism. Those moments will likely constitute a rare pause in their otherwise contrary apologetics approaches, both taking a “public understanding of science” attitude of pedagogical communication to the stage. We may thus, purely on the communications front, simply get either a parody of abstract intellectualism driven by “religious” or “quasi-religious” agendas, or more positively, a few simple concessions of common ground that shouldn’t be too difficult for either of them to find, or to make towards each other.
In his recent video Michael Behe explains the reasons for his acceptance of common descent.
Do you find it confusing?
Most members of the Discovery Institute find the idea of common descent lacking. Behe, ‘for the sake of the argument’ , is willing to accept it and, instead, focus on the mechanism of Darwinian evolution, natural selection and random mutations, as insufficient to explain evolution.
A psychiatrist in Toronto, Canada, in defense of swamidass’ fellow secular methodological naturalist and atheist partner in provocation over at PS, Nathan Lents (Human Errors), just said something I find quite curious, in case he is serious in his claim. It had appeared to me that this person who said it promotes ideological evolutionism. Yet this claim establishes at least some kind of important knowledge ‘boundary’ or ‘limit’ that ‘evolutionary’ thinking does not and cannot cross by definition. Perhaps he will come here to try to explain his terms in an effort to help clarify this difficulty.
As shown repeatedly, “Nothing in Evolution Makes Sense. Period.” Not natural selection, gradualism, human evolution, UCD, tree of life, etc. And just to confirm, let’s look at another one of the nonsensical concepts of “evolution”.
As 2020 both cools down in temperature and heats up in rhetoric, here is a response to S. Joshua Swamidass’ recent book that deserves more air time given how a few evangelical Protestant theologians and apologists are expressing surprised praise at it, calling it a ‘game changer’ because of ‘genealogy’ vs. ‘genetics’. I would consider it a ‘game changer’ only in a borrowed or catch-up sense of that term, given Swamidass’ YECist+ audience. Any thoughts here on this critical review of the book by a fellow evangelical active at BioLogos?
From what I’ve read so far, I do not see that Swamidass “makes God a monster” in the book. That rather appears to be what comes from Johnson’s hermeneutics, rather than Swamidass’ intentions or expressions. BioLogos was similarly confused, and hadn’t read Kemp, much like Swamidass (that is, until he finally did). Swamidass has previously written about dungeons & suffering, which perhaps by some people may be mistaken as ‘monstrous’. It would be more appropriate and charitable to say, ‘he knows not what he does’ by opening this rift. Thus, he speaks about “what it means to be human?” as a distant (methodological) naturalist, with an important background personal concern involving local fellow YECists and activistic sociology behind the book’s publication (e.g. choice of publishing house).
I was short with Joe Felsenstein in the comments section of “Stark Incompetence,” a post in which I address, well, um, the stark incompetence on display in a recent publication of Eric Holloway. I have apologized to Joe, and promised to make amends with a brief post on the topic that he wants to address. Now, the topic is a putative model that Eric introduced in “Mutual Algorithmic Information, Information Non-growth, and Allele Frequency” (or perhaps an improved version of the model). Here is a remark that I addressed to Joe:
Tom English: As you know, if a putative model is logically inconsistent, then it is not a model of anything. I claim that that EricMH’s putative model is logically inconsistent. You had better prove that it is consistent, or turn it into something that you can prove is consistent, before going on to discuss its biological relevance.
I will not have to go far into Eric’s post to identify inconsistencies. After explaining the inconsistencies, which I doubt can be eliminated, I will remark on why the “model” is not worth salvaging. The gist is that Eric’s attempted analysis puts a halting, output-generating simulator of a non-halting, non-output-generating evolutionary process in place of the process itself. An analysis of the simulator would not, in any case, be an analysis of the simuland.
This past Friday, I bumped into Dr. Michael Behe, and again on Saturday, along with Drs. Brian Miller (DI), Research Coordinator CSC, and Robert Larmer (UNB), currently President of the Canadian Society of (Evangelical) Christian Philosophers. Venue: local apologetics conference (https://www.diganddelve.ca/). The topic of the event “Science vs. Atheism: Is Modern Science Making Atheism Improbable?” makes it relevant here at TSZ, where there are more atheists & agnostics among ‘skeptics’ than average.
On the positive side, I would encourage folks who visit this site to go to such events for learning/teaching purposes. Whether for the ID speakers or not; good conversations are available among people honestly wrestling with and questioning the relationship between science, philosophy and theology/worldview, including on issues related to evolution, creation, and intelligence in the universe or on Earth. Don’t go to such events expecting miracles for your personal worldview in conversation with others, credibility in scientific publications or in the classroom, if you are using ‘science’ as a worldview weapon against ‘religion’ or ‘theology’. That argument just won’t fly anymore and the Discovery Institute, to their credit, has played a role, of whatever size may still be difficult to tell, in making this shift happen.
A question arises: what would be the first question you would ask or thing you would say to Michael Behe if you bumped into him on the street?
Over at Peaceful Science, Joshua Swamidass has made another strange and unsubstantiated claim. He has attempted to speak again on behalf of (all) ‘scientists,’ as is his linguistic tendency, yet in this case about ‘social Darwinism’:
It’s a bit saucy, perhaps all well & good to suggest that atheists should thank God for something, anything. Yet one of the most active living and agitating ideological evolutionists and one of his co-authors are actually trying to get people to accept ‘Social Darwinism’. https://evolution-institute.org/truth-and-reconciliation-for-social-darwinism/ How does Joshua deal with this apparent blindspot in his approach?
I’ll intervene on this conversation started by S. Joshua Swamidass as my guess is he’s going to mangle terms & then claim mastery over them, as he has done in the past on the topic of ‘methodological naturalism’ (MN). Paul Nelson (of micro-/macro- distinction) has posted here in the past & has done a fine job of staying more neutral, scholarly and welcoming to discussion than most IDists at the DI. It would be welcome for Nelson to clarify, re-iterate or to add any points here that Swamidass might not wish to address at PS, or in case the naive scientism cum MN lobby grows too loud there.
This is one of those topics where in my view Swamidass scores quite low in credibility and coherency (much like I score in biology! = P). This makes sense because he has little training and doesn’t seem to have done much personal reading in philosophy, social sciences or humanities. Paul Nelson, on the other hand, did a PhD in the philosophy of biology. So if Swamidass starts to try to out-philosophize Nelson, things could get hilarious quickly, as they have in the past, e.g. with Jonathan Burke, who discovered predecessors to GA -> GAE that Swamidass missed & had to add at the last minute.
Let’s see if Swamidass is ready to learn if the term ‘methodological naturalism’ is really a sword he wants to fall on or not. So far, it has been. Nelson, as do I, rejects MNism, & not just as a misnomer.
Biological cloning leading to clones such as identical twins who share exactly the same DNA.
Or artificial, genetically engineered cloning leading to such clones as plants whose DNA is also identical.
But there exists a more precise kind of cloning in physics that reaches all the way to the subatomic level of particles. Everything in the universe is made up of elementary quantum particles and the forces by which they interact, including DNA and us. This kind of cloning is more detailed because it involves the superposition of subatomic particles; their relative positions (particles can be in more than 1 position or state at the time), momenta and energy levels of every particle and all of their bonds and interactions are exactly the same in the copy (clone) as the original.
This kind of perfect cloning is impossible. It has been proven mathematically and formulated into the no cloning theorem, which states:
“In physics, the no-cloning theorem states that it is impossible to create an identical copy of an arbitrary unknown quantum state.”
How those two types of cloning apply to life systems, such as us, our DNA and so forth?
Unarguably, young earth creationism (YECism) was & still is an echo chamber. It’s a shock to YECists when then get out of their common circles to hear statistically higher educated Christians than they are speaking about how compatible accepting limited biological evolutionary theories with their religious faith actually is. So when they get out of their echo chamber and realize that learning and research hasn’t stopped but rather continues, even among their fellow religious, that they didn’t know existed, it can have a chilling or liberating effect.
The Intelligent Design movement with its Intelligent Design theory/ideology (IDism) was & still is an echo chamber, based, governed & funded in Seattle, USA. I’d welcome an open conversation with Stephen C. Meyer & John G. West about this. Indoctrination going one way is all they’ve focused on, while indoctrination going the other way is an elephant in the room that IDists will eventually need to come around to address.
Given the ideological opposition by the site’s founder to having ‘debates’ as a way of making progress or solving disagreements over at Peaceful Science (https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/, “In my view, science is not up for public debate.”) on topics related to human and life origins, I wonder what the attitudes of people towards ‘origins debates’ are here at TSZ. Do you call it ‘the Creation Wars’ as S. Joshua Swamidass does?
Below are a few questions for those who do not wish to play by Swamidass’ rules and who indeed, don’t mind putting their ideas, knowledge and ability to answer challenges to their theories, dogmas and biases, to the test in debate. It’s not like Joshua can actually defend ‘methodological naturalism’ other than with multiple falsehoods and having to sell his ‘Me-Scientist’ piety badge at a discount. So, let us imagine a hypothetical and suppose a ‘friendly debate’ were possible to construct and see if anyone here can play along. These are survey questions about a ‘debate’ that many people seem willing to admit they are themselves already engaged in here and elsewhere.
1. When considered as not only a discussion, but rather as a ‘debate,’ what is/are the key debate topic(s) over human & life origins really about?
Each time I stumble upon a provocative article like this it makes me wonder what makes one so certain that for one evolutionary failure another evolutionary bluff is going to be the answer… Is it the blind and absolute commitment to materialism?
“New findings challenge the long-standing idea that multi-celled animals evolved from a single-celled ancestor resembling a modern sponge cell known as a choanocyte.”
Biologists for decades believed the existing theory was a no-brainer, as sponge choanocytes look so much like single-celled choanoflagellates — the organism considered to be the closest living relatives of the animals,” she said.
“But their transcriptome signatures simply don’t match, meaning that these aren’t the core building blocks of animal life that we originally thought they were.
“This technology has been used only for the last few years, but it’s helped us finally address an age-old question, discovering something completely contrary to what anyone had ever proposed.”
“We’re taking a core theory of evolutionary biology and turning it on its head,” she said.
“Now we have an opportunity to re-imagine the steps that gave rise to the first animals, the underlying rules that turned single cells into multicellular animal life.”
Now, the Darwinian Police and the damage control and propaganda machine are going to get busy… The strategy never changes though:
“To us it looks like it could have evolved, so it must have evolved.” The “HOW” it evolved issue is never addressed and the testing of the hypothesis always remains in the realm of speculative, evolutionary science…
Affirming the Consequent is a logical fallacy that takes a known true statement [if P then Q] and invalidly concludes its converse [if Q then P]:
If Bill Gates owns Fort Knox, then Bill Gates is rich. Bill Gates is rich. Therefore, Bill Gates owns Fort Knox. False!
If an animal is a dog, then it has four legs. My cat has four legs. Therefore, my cat is a dog. False!
If it’s raining, then the streets are wet. The streets are wet. Therefore it’s raining. False! It could be raining or it could be something else. The “therefore” claim is false.
How does ‘Affirming the consequent’ apply to evolution? We have not observed “evolution”. No one has, and no one will, despite the effort (see LTEE). What was observed is Resemblance, the Birth Mechanism, Variability and Adaptability. Neither of these (even combined) can logically be extrapolated to “evolution”, namely the hypothesized transmutation of one type of organism into another. Proofs of “evolution” always take the form: If “evolution” is true, then XYZ is true. XYZ is true. Therefore “evolution” is true. This is a classical Affirming the Consequent logical fallacy.
Let’s see some concrete examples of “proof of evolution” fallacies:
If “evolution” is true, some fossils are ancestors of and therefore resemble existing organisms. Fossils resemble one another and existing organisms. Therefore “evolution” is true. This argument fails because there will always be some resemblance between two or more entities (even chairs and cats have four legs in general). Also, a fossil can always be from an unrelated branch of the “tree of life” which circularly presupposes “evolution” anyway.
If “evolution” is true, organisms are genetically similar. Organisms are genetically similar. Therefore “evolution” is true. This argument is false because other hypotheses such as common design account for genetic similarities just as well.
If “evolution” is true, one might expect common embryology. Similar organisms have similar embryology. Therefore “evolution” is true. This fails because embryology is expected to match genetics and morphology, hence the previous counterargument applies.
If “evolution” is true, one might expect vestigial organs. What looks like vestigial organs can be observed. Therefore “evolution” is true. This fails because what if those organs are useful rather that “vestigial”? And why would “evolution” not do away with “vestigial” organs as soon as they become useless? In sum, why can’t these organs have another reason or origin than “evolution”?
If “evolution” is true, one expects adaptability such as antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is observed. Therefore “evolution” is true. This fails because adaptabilities such as antibiotic resistance are compatible with other hypotheses, not just “evolution”. In addition, antibiotic resistance is ubiquitous, limited, reversible, and never observed to result in organism transmutation aka “evolution”.
How can “proofs of evolution” avoid the ‘Affirming the Consequent’ logical fallacy? Direct confirmation of “evolution” is unlikely as shown by the LTEE study. Alternatively, an observation that is true for “evolution” and only for “evolution” might also work. In other words, what’s missing from all the examples above is a true statement of the kind: “only if evolution is true, then XYZ”. Of course, excluding all alternatives to “evolution” is an impossible task therefore, given that Intelligent Design is the main rival, proponents of “evolution” need only add a true statement of the kind: “if Intelligent Design is true, then XYZ is not true” to turn their invalid arguments into valid ones. But even this lower bar cannot be met by “evolution” proponents, thus making all “proofs of evolution” invalid.
Isn’t then all science ‘Affirming the Consequent’? For example, “if Newtonian physics is true, a ball thrown at angle Theta and speed V will land D meters away. The experiment is carried out, and we find that the ball landed distance D away. Therefor physics is true.” No! This is not a fallacy because it meets the “if and only if” requirement and is limited to “everything else equal” cases. Rockets do not disprove this claim because everything else is not equal between them and thrown inactive projectiles. In addition, no one claims a single experiment confirms all Newtonian Mechanics the way “proofs of evolution” are presented. In this case, multiple combinations of Angles and Speed result in the same Distance without violating Newtonian Mechanics because this experiment proves only portions of the theory.
Evolution of KRAB Zinc Finger Proteins vs. the Law of Large Numbers
There are patterns in biology that violate the law of large numbers, and thus suggests Intelligent Design or at the very least statistical miracles. The pattern involves KRAB-ZnF proteins that have multiple zinc finger domains side by side that are inexact copies of each other and would require a scenario of co-evolution of their DNA binding partners with every additional zinc-finger insertion — a scenario indistinguishable from a miracle.
Darwinists are not much different than their God-fearing counterparts when it comes to their belief system. Theists believe in the omnipotent God, or Creator and yet Darwinists believe in the omnipotent, creative powers of natural selection.. In short, the belief systems are fundamentally the same, except that Darwinists supplanted the omnipotent God for another god-the omnipotent natural selection Therefore, due to this widespread belief in the omnipotence of natural selection among great number of evolutionary biologists everything and anything in evolution can be explained by inserting the omnipotence of natural selection when scientific evidence is lacking…
I call it the 1+1=3 (or any number you wish it to equal ) the first commandment of evolutionary theory, which includes that irreducible complexity coined by Behe, the chicken and egg paradoxes in the origins of life and life systems-the indispensable components need to be present for the life system to function, the miraculous appearance of genes in the supposedly evolved organisms and many, many more… The most interesting, and hilarious at the same time, is that this believe is not consistent among all the Darwinists as it should, because there are so called errors (Lents) or imperfections, that at least seem to contradict the omnipotence of natural selection…However, what is consistent about it is that the omnipotence of natural selection is often applied when it is called upon… or what I call the natural selection of the gaps… One of the rebels, or misinformed Darwinists about the omnipotence of natural selection, is professor Losos… He seems to strongly believe that natural selection, while powerful in its creative works, is not really omnipotent, but works with the materials it has available…which implies what?
Here is his assay:
2017 : WHAT SCIENTIFIC TERM OR CONCEPT OUGHT TO BE MORE WIDELY KNOWN?
TSZ member Eric Holloway is the latest rising star of the “Intelligent Design” movement. Such a meteoric rise is bound to attract attention and it has indeed caught the eye of veteran biologist Professor Joseph Felsentein who noticed a comment young Eric posted here at TSZ and remarks
Eric Holloway just made a dramatic announcement on The Skeptical Zone, in Dieb’s thread on the number of posts at the ID site Uncommon Descent. In this comment he concludes “At least in my personal interactions with people, it seems like ID has won the debate”.
Professor Felsenstein has a few questions for Eric and hopes he may find the time to respond. I’m just helping out in case Eric has missed Joe’s post at the Panda’s Thumb.