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

So, it seems clear that atheists before Darwin couldn’t have felt intellectually fulfilled because they had no logically sound explanation for the origins of life…Ever since Darwin proposed his theory of evolution atheists feel like they have found something to lean on when questioned about their lack of belief in God…

But the profound question still remains:  Had Darwin delivered? Does he deserve to be remembered as the liberator of atheists who needed him to feel intellectually fulfilled?

In Darwin Devolves book, the author Michael Behe has delivered more than a few more blows to not only already badly injured evolutionary theory but also to all those who have rest their “hope” on materialism that excludes Supernatural…  

The embarrassing rebuttals of his book, especially the bear fur color adaptation of the brown bear to the polar bear “white” fur, as well as the diet adaptation from low to moderate in fat, to very high in fat, show that Darwin Day celebrations are more about belief, or faith, rather than the actual evidence that piles up against the supposedly liberating theory Darwin proposed…

ETA: The more detail OP regarding the bear fur and fat adaption is coming up… 😉

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83 thoughts on “Darwin Day Devolves?

  1. Allan Miller: Taken further, of course, but if he doesn’t understand the role of drift and recombination, he doesn’t understand much.

    That’s a big if. Perhaps he’s working with bacteria.

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  2. Why would his working with bacteria give him any excuse for not understanding recombination and drift?

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  3. Mung: That’s a big if. Perhaps he’s working with bacteria.

    He completely omits them in his analysis of Plasmodium, whatever he’s working on. They are significant evolutionary factors. If you stray from your specialism, you need to tread warily – as indeed, I’ve found to my cost.

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  4. DNA_Jock: Why would his working with bacteria give him any excuse for not understanding recombination and drift?

    Except Allan didn’t say that Behe did not understand recombination and drift.

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  5. Mung:
    Looks like i could have been working with an outdated idea of what counts as recombination. I was thinking of what takes place in sexual reproduction.

    That’s what I meant too. Plasmodium is a sexual species. It’s one of those situations where biologists go out of their way to confuse! 😉 See also ‘bacterial sex’, which term I am not a fan of.

    As far as drift, I think of bacteria as involving very large numbers of individuals.

    That’s true, but even there, drift can promote alleles to appreciable frequency. The tools of population genetics tend to apply to well mixed populations. That’s not always the case.

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  6. Mung: Except Allan didn’t say that Behe did not understand recombination and drift.

    Though I don’t think he does, in evolutionary analysis.

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  7. Mung:
    Looks like i could have been working with an outdated idea of what counts as recombination. I was thinking of what takes place in sexual reproduction.

    Yup. There’s recombination within the single chromosomes. Also, something I wasn’t aware of, some analyses in E coli showed gene combinations that evidenced recombination, as would be expected from sexual reproduction. Apparently, there’s horizontal gene transfer within closely related bacteria that doesn’t get easily detected because the genes, being almost identical to those in the recipient genome, recombine right there substituting the equivalent gene in the recipient.

    ETA: Thanks for the link. I hadn’t seen that one.

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  8. Many of the enzymes involved in meiotic (sexual) recombination have homologues in prokaryote systems. The basic task of locating homologous sequence, patching and ligating is ancient. But the processes are significantly different.

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  9. Mung: Except Allan didn’t say that Behe did not understand recombination and drift.

    Darwinian recombination and drift…let’s not forget!

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  10. Talking about people who do not understand drift, Joshua Swamidass seems to still think it only applies to neutral mutations in spite of the fact that it’s been pointed out at his site that this is just wrong.

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  11. Mung:
    Talking about people who do not understand drift, Joshua Swamidass seems to still think it only applies to neutral mutations in spite of the fact that it’s been pointed out at his site that this is just wrong.

    So where do you stand on the ‘Behe forgot to consider drift’ question?

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  12. Mung:
    Talking about people who do not understand drift, Joshua Swamidass seems to still think it only applies to neutral mutations in spite of the fact that it’s been pointed out at his site that this is just wrong.

    What do you mean by “apply”?
    You mean new, neutral mutations that are not going or not going to be lost to genetic drift???

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  13. Allan Miller: So where do you stand on the ‘Behe forgot to consider drift’ question?

    Ambivalent. The new book is out tomorrow and that’s what i will be focused on. I don’t agree with Swamidass that Behe’s new book requires that everything Behe wrote in the past be free of mistakes.

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  14. J-Mac: You mean new, neutral mutations that are not going or not going to be lost to genetic drift?

    I mean that if a mutation is not neutral it isn’t subject to drift. To wit, if Behe is talking about beneficial mutations that drift is not a factor.

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  15. Mung: I mean that if a mutation is not neutral it isn’t subject to drift. To wit, if Behe is talking about beneficial mutations that drift is not a factor.

    Pretty sure that’s wrong.

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  16. If I didn’t know better, I would say that Mung was attempting to create a disagreement where none exists by way of semantic quibbles and word-gaming.
    “Drift” is the stochastic portion of the change in allele frequency, due to repeated sampling. Selection is the directional portion. They are both, like the poor, always with us, except in the limiting case of the utterly neutral allele.
    However, their relative contributions to the changes in allele frequency vary over a continuum, depending on population size and selection co-efficients.
    None of this is in dispute.

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  17. Mung: Ambivalent. The new book is out tomorrow and that’s what i will be focused on. I don’t agree with Swamidass that Behe’s new book requires that everything Behe wrote in the past be free of mistakes.

    It depends how you look at it… Behe’s new book is not free of mistakes but it may not necessarily be his fault… If he makes claims based on the available science but that science turns out to be mistaken, whose fault is it?

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  18. Mung: Ambivalent. The new book is out tomorrow and that’s what i will be focused on. I don’t agree with Swamidass that Behe’s new book requires that everything Behe wrote in the past be free of mistakes.

    Now, that is a politician’s answer.

    It’s true that people can be right about some things and wrong about others. Most of us are. But Behe’s claims are defended to the last in the Creationist community. All of ’em. That’s interesting, because people are far more ready to criticise this idea while accepting that in the scientific world. It’s the authority thing. It works both ways. Creationists frequently attack one idea in hope of dismantling the entire life’s work on the one hand, while refusing to admit of any error in their own heroes, for much the same reason.

    It’s rare, I suppose, to meet a Creationist who would even go so far as ‘ambivalent’. It’ll have to do.

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  19. J-Mac: If he makes claims based on the available science but that science turns out to be mistaken, whose fault is it?

    I blame society.

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  20. Corneel: I blame society.

    I think it is a good answer…

    We live in a society where many demand from science to provide them with what they want to hear or believe and not the truth…
    Many scientists, whose funding often depends on “making certain” that their “science” continues to support what people want to hear and not the truth…
    Universities don’t want to hear that there may be something wrong with evolution either because they have a monopoly on knowledge…

    So, the circus of making certain that science comes up with the results the society wants to hear and believe goes on…

    But then there is Behe and people like him who say: “This is nonsense…Who is paying for it, and why?”
    Many people want to choose their own brand of morality and because of that they don’t what to hear that there might be ID/God who could hold them accountable…

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  21. J-Mac: We live in a society where many demand from science to provide them with what they want to hear or believe and not the truth…
    Many scientists, whose funding often depends on “making certain” that their “science” continues to support what people want to hear and not the truth…
    Universities don’t want to hear that there may be something wrong with evolution either because they have a monopoly on knowledge…

    So, the circus of making certain that science comes up with the results the society wants to hear and believe goes on…

    I am not sure which is more impressive, the ignorance about how scientific research operates, or the lack of self-awareness.

    Oh, what the heck, here goes:

    We live in a society where many demand from religion to provide them with what they want to hear or believe and not the truth…
    Many apologists, whose funding often depends on “making certain” that their “religion” continues to support what people want to hear and not the truth…
    Churches don’t want to hear that there may be something wrong with religious beliefs either because they have a monopoly on knowledge…

    So, the circus of making certain that theology comes up with the results the society wants to hear and believe goes on

    Heh.

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  22. DNA_Jock: I am not sure which is more impressive, the ignorance about how scientific research operates, or the lack of self-awareness.

    I know how scientific research is supposed to operate…which is obviously not the same thing as how it really does…

    However, your ignorance about the reality of evolutionary research has been noted…

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  23. DNA_Jock: We live in a society where many demand from religion to provide them with what they want to hear or believe and not the truth…
    Many apologists, whose funding often depends on “making certain” that their “religion” continues to support what people want to hear and not the truth…
    Churches don’t want to hear that there may be something wrong with religious beliefs either because they have a monopoly on knowledge…

    So, the circus of making certain that theology comes up with the results the society wants to hear and believe goes on

    Heh.

    Yeah…that’s why we have Swamidass and Biologos…and many other theistic evolutionists of all sorts… If there is a need, there will be someone catering to it…but it won’t be me…

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  24. J-Mac: I know how scientific research is supposed to operate…which is obviously not the same thing as how it really does…

    No, rather it does not come up with the answers you want it to. That’s all.

    And odd, if science does not work how come you are sitting typing on a computer?

    J-Mac: However, your ignorance about the reality of evolutionary research has been noted…

    Then I’m sure DNA_Jock will wait, like I will wait, for you to publish a paper on the true truth of how things really are.

    For the record, just because you cannot understand what DNA_Jock is talking about does not mean it does not make sense!

    J-Mac: But then there is Behe and people like him who say: “This is nonsense…Who is paying for it, and why?”

    And here you fall at the obvious hurdle. If you had something that was more productive, cheaper and accurate then what currently exists then what is stopping paying for that instead?

    How come there are many theistic scientists not doing that?

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  25. Interesting, J-Mac.
    Apart from the fact that you don’t like the results, what evidence do you have that science does not operate the way it is supposed to? Specifically, this claim

    Many scientists, whose funding often depends on “making certain” that their “science” continues to support what people want to hear and not the truth…

    needs support.
    Given your pattern of bluster and retreat (protein engineering, antibiotic resistance), I’m not holding my breath here.
    You remind me of Ralph Kramden more and more each day.

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  26. We can pick any of the great scientists from the past, if that makes Greg feel better. Koch allowed atheists to be intellectually fulfilled because he found a naturalistic explanation for infectious diseases. Perhaps an Einstein Day that allowed atheists to be intellectually fulfilled after the discover of how gravity works instead of having to endlessly ignore those arguments for fairies pushing planets through the solar system.

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  27. J-Mac: certain” that their “science” continues to support what people want to hear and not the truth…

    But “people” are not really all that interested in what “science” has to say. They are mostly interested in living their lives. So I feel that’s an unlikely reason. And anyway, most people in many parts of the world are theists. And if science was supporting what “the people wanted to hear” it’d be supporting Jesus, right?

    And yet it’s not. So what’s up with that J-Mac? Seems you’ve been on the prune juice yourself! Perhaps a little too much?

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  28. J-Mac: However, your ignorance about the reality of evolutionary research has been noted…

    Link to a published paper that is a lie, or the worst you know of?

    I mean, what have you actually got?

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