On the Evolution of a Novel Function

Published on 5 March 2019 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America:

Molecular mechanism and history of non-sense to sense evolution of antifreeze glycoprotein gene in northern gadids

Xuan Zhuang, Chun Yang, Katherine R. Murphy, and C.-H. Christina Cheng

You can read the article here: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/10/4400

The authors show how an apparently irreduciblly complex phenotypical element arose by a combination of mutation and natural selection.

Skepticism, Pragmatism, and “Postmodernism”

Over in Sandbox I started discussing some of my readings of Sellars, Rorty, and related philosophers, and a few folks said they’d be interested in an OP. So here we go.

Much of my training and scholarship over the past 12 years has been on what’s called (variously) “pragmatism” and/or “American philosophy.” What I want to do here is tell a brief story about the history of American pragmatism, without getting too technical or pedantic. In particular I want to focus on the distinct kind of philosophy that American pragmatism was and is, because it’s very different from the sort of Western philosophy that most people are taught in schools and colleges.

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The cholesterol paradox

As the reviews of professor Behe’s new book Darwin Devolves continue, many who participate in the discussions on many blogs or websites may have noticed the seeming paradox involving high fat, high cholesterol diet and heart disease issues… Dr. Behe devoted a good portion of his book to the issue of the devolution of the polar bear, which supposedly evolved, or rather devolved according to Behe, to tolerate the drastic switch from the dietary habits of its ancestors some 400 000 years ago…This particular issue I’m planning to cover in one the upcoming OPs…

This OP is more of an introduction to the fat/cholesterol/heart disease issue that while it seems complicated at the first glance, it really isn’t…

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Ethereal spaces

Look up at the dark clear moonless night-time sky. What do we see? Points of light arranged against a deep dark background. I propose that in the points of light we see physical substance, matter, and in the darkness we are looking into the encompassing ethereal realm.

There are certain fundamental processes in the universe, one of which is expansion and contraction. Goethe observed this in plants and in crystallisation out of solution we see a contraction of a substance into its solid state.

Likewise the points of light we see in the night sky are processes of matter condensing out of the surrounding ethereal space. The ethereal creates a void in which matter forms and cosmic space which is void of matter is actually filled with etheric activity.

The processes of expansion and contraction are taking place at all levels, as above, so below. Our physical eyes allow us to see the stars and other heavenly bodies but it takes more than physical senses to see the etheric.

Why there probably wasn’t a guard at Jesus’ tomb

Christian apologist Professor Tim McGrew recently defended the historicity of Matthew’s account of the guard at the tomb, in a post put up by his wife, Dr. Lydia McGrew. Professor McGrew’s post was written in response to a challenge he issued to me, in response to my (generally positive) review of Michael Alter’s book, The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry (2015), which was published at The Skeptical Zone last year. Not wishing to address the bulk of Alter’s arguments, which he considered unconvincing, Professor McGrew challenged me to narrow the focus of our discussion, by listing three of Alter’s arguments which I had found particularly convincing. The first topic on my list which Professor McGrew chose to address was the question: was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb? However, it turns out that McGrew’s argument for the historicity of Matthew’s story of the guard is based on faulty math – a surprising flaw, coming from a man who has written extensively on the subject of Bayes’ Theorem and its role in Christian apologetics. Before we have a look at the math, though, I have a special announcement: Michael Alter himself has decided to weigh in on the controversy, and I have included his remarks in this post.

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Darwinism is dead

Apparently. This, at least, is the latest incantation. Repeat it often enough, and it is so. So what has actually died? What elements of Darwin’s theory(/ies) of evolution have been buried? I can certainly think of one – his theories of variation were wrong, superseded by Mendel, which simultaneously solved one of his dilemmas. But is that it?

Comparing Internet Argument Styles: Creationists, IDists, Scientists

Skeptic magazine has an interesting article, based on a 2017 article in Science & Education, describing a study that compared the argument topics and argument types found on websites discussing origins issues. It is not clear from the Skeptic article whether they counted arguments on discussion forums.

The comment I found most interesting is:

[T]he ID creationism approach has been, and continues to be, primarily a program meant to prove the existence of God. It therefore bears more resemblance to natural theology and apologetics than it does to science. Seen in this light, it is surprising that ID creationists once believed that ID would somehow help them achieve their goals.

The author characterizes the irreducible complexity argument as an argument meant to prove the existence of God. I suppose some here would disagree.

I think the ID creationists may have believed ID would help them achieve their goals only because creation science had been so decisively rejected. At that point it was either become more scientific or become more apologetic, and science was clearly not a way forward.

The original article is R. M. Barnes, R. A. Church, and S. Draznin-Nagy. 2017. “The Nature of the Arguments for Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Evolution.” Science & Education, 26, pp. 27–47.

Darwin Day Devolves?

I have always been perplexed as to why people would want to celebrate Darwin’s day…What has Darwins really accomplished? Was he a savior or enslavor?

Here is what Richard Dawkins wrote about Darwin:

“An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: “I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.” I can’t help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” – Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker

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Swamidass’ ‘genealogical Adam’ vs. Adam’s genealogy: Peaceful Scientism on Display

S. Joshua Swamidass of WUSTL recently received a 1-year grant from the Templeton Foundation for a hypothesis that he calls “the genealogical Adam” and to build his website “Peaceful Science,” which he likes to call a ‘fifth voice’ alongside Answers in Genesis, BioLogos, the Discovery Institute and Reasons to Believe. https://www.templeton.org/grant/the-genealogical-adam-and-peaceful-science.

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Is it possible to ‘falsify’ Darwinism or neo-Darwinism? The ongoing confusion of S. Joshua Swamidass regarding ideology vs. science.

Computational biologist & MD Joshua Swamidass continues to misunderstand ideology. Whether he does so intentionally or not, it reveals a rather important social problem of pseudo-knowledge being presented as knowledge simply because it is being said by a natural scientist. Swamidass has multiple times claimed that “Darwinism was falsified by population genetics back in 1968” (https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/darwinism-falsified-in-science-long-ago/4325). Yet he still doesn’t seem to understand that one cannot actually ‘falsify’ Darwinism. That is the wrong language (likely based on an outdated view of Karl Popper’s notion of ‘falsifiability’) that is rather harming than helping the conversation.

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Evolution doesn’t require experimental verification?

Recently, I have been awestruck by the statement of one of the “reputable” regulars at TSZ that evolutionary theory doesn’t need to be subjected to any experimental testing or experimental verification…

How do you like that?

He erroneously used the famous experiment that verified Einstein’s prediction of gravity’s ability to bend light. Here are the details:
See? Experiments don’t need to be run in the lab, and they can still be valid experiments.

While this kind of statement is nothing new to me that Darwinists deny or ignore the need for the experimental verification of their evolutionary claims, on the other hand, they demand ID to be subjected to the scientific method processes for their claims to be verified…Hypocrisy at its best…

So, why can’t evolution be tested?

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Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting

BruceS’s link to a series of discussions with the leading atheists of our day, about emergence, reductionism, and mostly just about how to make naturalism sound believable to the gathered masses the atheist preachers exist to proselytize to, is a rather entertaining bit of folly to indulge in. Its the end result of what you get when you band together the most well known atheists, each who consider themselves to be solely the smartest person in the world (due wholly to the history of their lucky accidental mutations which have no meaning, they will remind you over and over) and get them all to agree that they believe the same thing, and then listen as they all try to figure out what it is they believe. Madcap slapstick ensues.

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