Behe vs. Swamidass I, as “God and/or Evolution?” Time to yawn, politely applaud or cheer?

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?

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.

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Definitions involving “Intelligent Design”: DI Fellows’ language vs. Everyone Else’s

Not long ago in a comment here, I posted a short version of definitions involving the Discovery Institute’s “Intelligent Design” (ID) paradigm, hypothesis, movement, theory, inference, policy, heuristic, or whatever one wants to call it, depending on which person they’re speaking with. This was done because the person in the conversation I was responding to appeared to be, to me at least, quite obviously conflating two meanings into one term (thing & theory). And he didn’t seem to realize that he was doing it. (Aside: there appear to be multiple reasons why people tempted by ideological Intelligent Designism [IDism] or repelled by it, may feel they need to intentionally conflate definitions of ID.) I wondered what might be the issue with what was merely an attempt to lay out simple definitions, for mutual benefit towards clearer communications, or ‘operations’ as some people here like to call it.

Within days, to my surprise, I discovered the exact same thing in a long exchange with a Discovery Institute () Fellow on a social media platform. This person too conflated two meanings into one. Why also is that? And this person wanted to equivocate over whether or not there even is a “movement” at play, before finally conceding that yes, indeed, there is = the IDM based at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, USA. The conversation reminded me of previous ones at Uncommon Descent & BioLogos with Eddie, now of Peaceful Science and Potiphar, who only begrudgingly, after listing off a number of ways that this “Movement” could only properly or ‘officially’ be spoken about, according to his somewhat “philosophistic” definition of “Intelligent Design theory” (IDT), conceded the point of there being a “Movement”, with all of DI-CSC’s Fellows admitted as members.

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If ID is false, why can we detect human engineered virii?

There is a strong suspicion the coronavirus is an escaped specimen from a Chinese lab.

An Indian scientist has purportedly discovered HIV inserted into the coronavirus. If true, this is pretty conclusive evidence the virus is humanly engineered, i.e. intelligently designed.

So, herein lies the conundrum. According to popular imagination, ID is both bad science and false (remember, good science is the falsifiable sort ;). If true, then it should not be possible to detect intelligent intervention in the genetic code.

Yet, this recent news item purports to be exactly that: identification of intelligent intervention in the genetic code.

Please explain this to me like I am 5: how can ID be both bad science and false, yet at the same time it is possible to identify intelligent intervention in the genetic code? If we can do so for the recent past, why can’t we do the same for the distant past?



Is anything in biology , man, beast, plant, in millions etc of species evolving as we speak?

I say no but why do evolutionists?

This is a sly way to demonstrate how unlikely evolutionism is on a probability curve.when on thinks of the millions (billions?) of segregated populations in biology(species) then it should be a high, or respectable percentage, are evolving as we speak to create new populations with new bodyplans to survive in some niche. By high I mean millions, with a allowance for mere hundreds of thousands. YET I am confident there is none evolving today. further i suspect evolutionists would say there is none evolving today. WHY? If not today what about yesterday or 300 years ago? Why couldn’t creationists say its not happening today because it never happened? Its accurate sampling of todays non evolution for predicting none in the past!

i think the only hope (hope?) is if evolutionism said , under pE influence, that all biology today is in the stasis stage and just waiting for a sudden need to change, qickly done, then stasis again. Yet why would it be that stasis has been reached so perfectly today relative to the enormous claim of the need in the past for evolutionism?

Anyways i think creationists have a good point here but willing to be corrected.


15.5 hours.

Over two working days.

In this comment colewd says: “Let’s start with this overview.”

An “overview” that according to this tool contains 187153 words.

Where those words according to this tool will take over 15 hours to read.

15 hours for an “overview”. 15 hours.

If only there was some way to take a sprawling set of claims and refine them down into a core that could then be reviewed by others and feedback given until it is a reasonable size (typically 3,000 to 10,000 words on the average scientific paper) where all claims have been tested by other experts and errors removed.

It seems to be it’s a strategy. Never get pinned down on anything too specific and you never have to be wrong. Hence the sprawl.

colewd, do you seriously expect people to spend 15 hours reading an “overview”? How long is the main argument? A million or two words?


Does Swamidass’ new “genealogical adams and eves” hypothesis unknowingly serve to “make God a monster”?

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).

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Quantum jitters behind DNA mutations

It was just a matter of time before quantum mechanics were to be identified as the driving force behind DNA mutations…

“In the past, we knew DNA polymerases make mistakes during DNA replication but did not know how they do it,” said Zucai Suo, Ph.D., Ohio State professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “Now, our study provides a mechanistic sense for how the mistakes arise.”

The results provide “convincing validation for the chemical origins of mutations proposed by Watson and Crick in 1953,” said Myron Goodman, Ph.D., a professor of molecular biology and chemistry at the University of Southern California, who was not involved in the study. “It is significant scientifically, and even though it took about 65 years to prove, it also demonstrates the folly of ever betting against Watson and Crick.”

One of the surprising discoveries made by the team was that the frequency at which bases shifted their shapes varied with DNA sequence. In one of their experiments, Ohio State biochemists Zucai Suo and Walter Zahurancik essentially counted the number of times that polymerases incorporated the wrong base into the DNA. They found that mistakes were indeed not uniform: they appeared more frequently in some sequences than others. For example, a region with more Gs and Cs might form more quantum jitters, and subsequently more mutations, than an area that was rich in As and Ts.

But, it doesn’t end there…

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How to “cook science”

50% of peer reviewed articles may be not true…How’s that possible? You pay $ and the articles with the results you would like them to be get cooked for you in the most prestigious science journals in the world.

In the video there is also an interesting bit on the cholesterol lowering statins issue in France…Big Pharma demands to put statins in the water…or people will die…


Shifting paradigms

Are we beginning to see a major paradigm shift, steadily moving away from the prevailing physicalist, materialist.mechanistic mindset?

Integral theory is one attempt to move beyond any narrow,exclusive views of reality proclaimed by representives of science, religion, philosophy, spiritual traditions or whatever. Jennifer Gidley writes about integral thinking and the evolution of consciousness here

There are periods in human and cultural evolution when humanity passes through such fundamental transformations that our reality shifts and new patterns of thought are required to make sense of the unfolding human drama . . . The profound transformation we are now witnessing has been emerging on a global scale over millennia and has matured to a tipping point and rate of acceleration that has radically altered and will continue to alter our human condition in every aspect. We must therefore expand our perspective and call forth unprecedented narrative powers to name, diagnose, and articulate this shift… Integral philosopher Ashok Gangadean in the opening quotation encapsulates what many integral theorists have been voicing over the past decade. It is this integral research on emergent movement(s) of consciousness that I am referring to as the evolution of consciousness discourse This research points to the emergence of a new structure,stage(s) or movement of consciousness that has been referred to by various terms, most notably, post-formal integral and planetary.

Jude Currivan says that instead of big bang we have the big breath. The “outbreath” that gives rise to the physical unverse. Matter and energy are the products of information. The physical universe is in-formed as she puts it.

She discusses her views here in “Restating and reunifying reality: Our in-formed and holographic universe”.

This is part of an annual Mystics and Scientists conference promoted by The Scientific & Medical Network

The metaphor of the big bang conjures up images of a destructive explosion leading to chaos. But we should imagine the universe as a birth of order and organisation and this is more in keeping with a breathing process by which we communicate compositions of song, poetry and prose. Evolution is the creation of order out of chaos.

So are we seeing a movement to a more integrated, holistic understanding of reality where, rather than being a mere by product of a particular arrangement of matter, consciousness plays a primal, central role? The cosmos is breathed into existence, the out-breathing Word, the Logos, creates the living universe. Consciousness is the alpha and omega.


A Conflation of Atheisms

In all the discussions of atheism, I have not yet seen any one make what I take to be a rather simple point: atheism is always relative to a specific conception of God. For this reason, one can be an atheist in one sense and a theist in another. This in turn raises the question whether an atheist is intellectually compelled to investigate every conception of God and refute each of them in order to be entitled to his or her atheism. I want to make a preliminary, crude, and rather obvious distinction between two ways of conceiving of God in order to clarify two distinct kinds of atheism: the mythological conception and the metaphysical conception.


On how the fear/dread of man upon creatures, given by God after the flood, also manifests itself in creatures fear of each other by bright coloration of their bodies.

After the flood God said the fear/dread of man would be upon all creatures on earth. birds, insects, animals , fishes. this was needed because, seemingly , for the first time man would be intimate with biology and so in danger. thus man had this innate protection. YET how does this work? Is it in the thoughts of creatures?

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Breaking Down Barriers

In the video Moral Technology Conference 2016: Day 1 Lecture 1, NIcanor Perlas advocates participating in global conversations which break down the barriers of compartmentalization.

I share his belief that whoever has the money and power, their vision will be the de facto world we are living in, Those with the power make the prominent worldview, the only worldview that is allowed to be taken seriously. Whether or not it is in keeping with reality it will eventually become reality.

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The New Atheism: A Failed Hamartiology

It is sometimes useful to remember that The Skeptical Zone was started in the naive assumption that intelligent people of good will could discuss important issues without undue rancor. (Ha ha ha!! Have you even seen the Internet!)

Anyway, I bring to your attention a rather interesting blog post (blogs? who blogs anymore?) by Scott Alexander over at Slate Star Codex: ” New Atheism: The Godlessness That Failed“. Alexander gives us some interesting data (frequency of search terms taken from Google and other sites) that document a flagging interest in the “religion vs atheism” debates of the early 2000s.

Here are two (I think) revealing quotes that contextualize the decline of New Atheism in terms of changes in Internet culture:

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These days researchers are obsessed with making models as an aid to understanding reality. But there is a danger here in that in concentrating on the models the actual living world around us is lost sight of. And the same can be said regarding the metaphors that are in frequent use. How true to reality is the mind picture evoked by the metaphor.

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Did Richard Feynman say methodological naturalism would fail in matters of science?

YES! If I understand him correctly!

Methodological Naturalism(MN) on TSZ and everywhere comes up in origin matters all the time. Are present mechanisms/machinery for the universe always been acting as is and so negates the involvement of a creator who would need to interfere and did?

all biology and geology and cosmology researchers want common laws to be fixed in the universe and any creationism is frustrated right out of the gate. for fun and profit i recently watched the Richard Feynman lectures on physics. He is still remembered by older people as a important scientist . i’m not sure his accomplishments back this up and instead its a old prejudice about post war physics mattering greatly. possibly he just tied up some loose ends. however his true science status is not the point. The point is that the science “community’ know his name and care what he thinks about science generally. On youtube on the fifth lecture Character of physical law(The distinction of past and future) starting at 16:40-22:10 minutes on it HE brings up about geology, history, cosmology as being different then physics. He complains this is a error. physics must of evolved TOO. The present laws of physics must of been different then the past ones while it was evolving. The present is not a accurate portrayal of the past based on this idea. THE universe/world was MORE organized in the past. Outside the province of present physic laws. On another youtube show called “Take the world from another point of view” by same author. on the third video at 9:00 he says the same thing. in short m==MN does not work with present systems because they radically must of evolved from a more organized past system. SO boundaries based on present laws of nature would fail to accurately explain things. this is important idea for creationism in so much.In biology or geology or cosmology its reasonable to imagine , as options, that present laws, whether on creation week, post fall, post flood, could easily be different then present laws in these subjects. unless someone says Mr Feynman is wrong!!


Rejected for ideology only

A TSZ member recently made this claim:

Sanford’s recent paper with Cordova was rejected by multiple venues for bogus reasons. Everyone agreed the science is solid, but made up reasons why the paper should not be accepted.

And then is asked:

Name the venues and give their reasons for the rejection. 

I’ve actually been asking this for literally years over at UD, although not lately. The claim that papers are rejected not because of the science but instead because of some other reason is often made. But I’ve never seen any actual evidence of this. Has anyone?

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On Ideology. Between Secular & Secularism – what’s the similarity, difference or overlap?

Adding to that a 2nd question: If a person seeks ‘secularization’ (cf. laïcisation), i.e. ‘more secularity’ in their life and in the lives of those around them, in their hometown and in the nation in which they live, and even globally, does that qualify for the operational term ‘secularist’? In this sense, is ‘secularism’ the proper term for the ideology that such a person is promoting?

One might think it a polite necessity for certain voices to avoid all contact, and any proper and timely discussion of ideology, when addressing these two terms – secular & secularism – semantically, philosophically & especially ‘skeptically’. Some people of course just don’t make a priority focus on ideology, as Paul Nelson recently revealed here (re: ideological MNism, while avoiding ideological IDism), saying “‘Ideology’ is fine with me as a descriptive noun,” but is “[n]ot one of my lexical habits”. Even though Nelson is certainly not representative of TSZ voices, it might make a person wonder if there is a healthy skepticism at TSZ about conflating the terms ‘secular’ & ‘secularism’, since it has also proven difficult here to differentiate them, just as it has at Peaceful Science. For others, the notion that ‘secular’ is now broadly considered as a condition, while ‘secularism’ counts as an ideology, isn’t all that difficult to acknowledge and accept.

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