Is Barry Arrington The Least Competent ID Advocate Ever?

Barry Sez:

Having studied Darwinism for over 20 years, I can tell you what it posits. Therefore, when I attack it, I am attacking the actual thing, not some distortion of the thing that exists nowhere but my own mind.



Good grief Zach do you have no shame? Do you seriously believe you can get away with saying that Darwin believed stasis is more typical than change and not his own words when he wrote infinitely many fine gradations between past and present species [are] required on the theory.


Darwin sez:

It is a more important consideration, clearly leading to the same result, as lately insisted on by Dr. Falconer, namely, that the periods during which species have been undergoing modification, though very long as measured by years, have probably been short in comparison with the periods during which these same species remained without undergoing any change. We may infer that this has been the case, from there being no inherent tendency in organic beings to become modified or to progress in structure, and from all modifications depending, firstly on long-continued variability, and secondly on changes in the physical conditions of life, or on changes in the habits and structure of competing species, or on the immigration of new forms; and such contingencies will supervene in most cases only after long intervals of time and at a slow rate. These changes, moreover, in the organic and inorganic conditions of life will affect only a limited number of the inhabitants of any one area or country.

Darwin, Origin of Species, 1866. p. 359

20 years of study, and nothing learned. Pathetic.

63 thoughts on “Is Barry Arrington The Least Competent ID Advocate Ever?

  1. Gregory,

    You’re not disenchanted…yet you’re an atheist?! Oh, please, yes tell TAMSZ how you are ‘enchanted’ in your life

    The synonyms for disenchanted that I had in mind were (from the Free Dictionary) disillusioned, disappointed, soured, cynical, indifferent, sick of, let down, blasé, or jaundiced. None of those describe my normal, day-to-day emotions, hence my statement that I’m not disenchanted.

    While doing a quick browse I did find this definition of disenchant: “To free from illusion or false belief; undeceive.” In that sense I suppose I am disenchanted, and quite happy about it!

  2. “I am disenchanted, and quite happy about it!” – Patrick

    Exactly. A den of despair, TAMSZ, with Lizzie licencing (self-confessed atheist) ‘Patrick’ as a mod/admin.

    Why isn’t there a theist moderator at TAMSZ? Who among theists would want to lower themselves to this site’s ugliest of human levels?! 🙁

    ‘Enchanted’ doesn’t simply mean ‘free from illusion or false belief.’ Human lives can be inspiring and encouraged! (But don’t listen to the management here if you want to believe that!)

  3. Patrick: Please follow the rules by engaging honestly.

    It seems impossible for you to seek justice, truth, beauty and goodness.

    Why not seek shelter for this worldview despair from Elizabeth Liddle, which she will surely grant to any fellow atheist! 😉

  4. I find there are other avenues to justice, truth, beauty and goodness than through superstition. Indeed, I think using superstition to “find” these things is the very essence of delusion. You have not found what you think you’ve found.

  5. Gregory: So, you’re a blind monkey.

    [Atheism] is a dehumanising ideology ultimately full of despair.

    There is a belief system which holds that every human being is intrinsically evil. According to this belief system, every human is born evil; there is nothing any human can do to stop being evil; and all humans ought to be tortured forever, on the grounds of their intrinsic, irremediable evil. Is atheism more “dehumanising” and “full of despair” than this belief system?

  6. petrushka:
    There is a belief system that holds that everyone’s destiny is predetermined

    True. And under that belief system, it’s not clear that the concept denoted by the word “decision” is meaningful, as a decision is all about choosing between two or more options—but according to a belief system which holds that everything is predetermined, there is only one option ever, that option being the one which has been predetermined. Is atheism more “dehumanising” and “full of despair” than that belief system?

  7. Gregory, don’t waste your time here. Go and do another ‘backwards high jump’ TEDx. Whilst we don’t have the necessary background in HPSS or whatever to appreciate it, there are others that will.

  8. John Harshman:

    Glen, I think you may be confusing time scales here. Gradualism merely means that populations change in ordinary ways, by spread of variant alleles. It doesn’t mean that change is at all times continuous at a uniform rate. Darwin is saying both that periods of stasis are longer and/or more frequent than periods of change and that periods of change involve gradual, slow change rather than instantaneous change. Those periods may be brief in geological time but still very long in ordinary time. So no contradiction and no necessary change of views.
    John Harshman,

    Of course he didn’t believe in saltation and said so. And, as the PE folk have noted, there’s no need to drastically change evolutionary ideas if rates are variable, even greatly variable (of course I’m referring to morphology, as DNA tends to change rather uniformly in most cases, as far as we know). But as Gould notes, Darwin often confuses the various meanings of “gradualism,” apparently because he really did view evolution as gradualistic and (at least for the most part) uniform.

    My quote was meant to be an example of many places where he discusses evolution as being gradual, without mentioning that it still could be variable until the 4th edition, as he could have done earlier–and should have, were he out to give any sort of impression that it even could be variable. Time and again he fails to suggest that rates might vary. I did find one source on the web that claimed that he did actually consider the issue in the 1830s, but noted that he didn’t mention it until the 4th edition, perhaps being convinced by someone’s work on pachyderm paleontology. It was behind a paywall, though, so I don’t know how speculative it is.

    Anyway, I would note this part of the quote I used: “…like the branching of a great tree from a single stem…” in his discussion of how speciation occurs. That is gradual and at least relatively uniform, except when some sort of problem appears. Darwin does discuss “stasis” vs. change early on, but in the 2nd edition he seems to think some groups (genera, classes) change more quickly and others less so, some hardly changing at all:

    Species of different genera and classes have not changed at the same rate, or in the same degree. In the oldest tertiary beds a few living shells may still be found in the midst of a multitude of extinct forms. Falconer has given a striking instance of a similar fact, in an existing crocodile associated with many strange and lost mammals and reptiles in the sub-Himalayan deposits. The Silurian Lingula differs but little from the living species of this genus; whereas most of the other Silurian Molluscs and all the Crustaceans have changed greatly. The productions of the land seem to change at a quicker rate than those of the sea, of which a striking instance has lately been observed in Switzerland. There is some reason to believe that organisms, considered high in the scale of nature, change more quickly than those that are low: though there are exceptions to this rule. The amount of organic change, as Pictet has remarked, does not strictly correspond with the succession of our geological formations; so that between each two consecutive formations, the forms of life have seldom changed in exactly the same degree. Yet if we compare any but the most closely related formations, all the species will be found to have undergone some change.

    Page 313, here

    Nature acts uniformly and slowly during vast periods of time on the whole organization, in any way which may be for each creature’s own good

    (HT Gould)

    That was written by Darwin in contrast to the relatively fast changes sometimes seen in domestic lines. I don’t know that it pins down the uniformitarian point definitely (still could just be much slower than the quick domestic changes, while being allowing for variations in rate), but, like the quote above it, it suggests uniformitarianism without Darwin bothering to dispel that notion.

    More directly, though, there is this (HT Gould):

    Although each formation may mark a very long lapse of years, each perhaps is short compared with the period requisite to change one species into another. I am aware that two palaeontologists, whose opinions are worthy of much deference, namely Bronn and Woodward, have concluded that the average duration of each formation is twice or thrice as long as the average duration of specific forms. But insuperable difficulties, as it seems to me, prevent us coming to any just conclusion on this head. When we see a species first appearing in the middle of any formation, it would be rash in the extreme to infer that it had not elsewhere previously existed. So again when we find a species disappearing before the uppermost layers have been deposited, it would be equally rash to suppose that it then became wholly extinct.

    I included the “insuperable difficulties” part that Gould did not in The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (postmortem collection by others), but it doesn’t really change anything, Darwin seems to have no actual problem with the possibility of species change taking longer than recognized formations, only great difficulty in resolving that issue. And as Gould noted, Darwin’s estimate of 300 million years for the denudation of the Weald formation is 5X greater than actual, so Darwin certainly was not understanding formations to be produced quickly. Gould also uses quotes about the sudden appearance of life forms in the “Silurian Period” (Cambrian) which show that he thinks that there must have been crustaceans far far earlier (at least as long prior as the time elapsed since then) than when we first see them. Not directly about speciation, I know, but consistent with his many comments about how slowly evolution occurs.

    Gould references are to The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, part of which may be found at:

    It really wasn’t for lack of reason that people generally took Darwin to be proposing a theory of gradual and reasonably uniform change, at least in the earlier editions of Origin of Species. If Darwin had meant for people to understand the matter differently, there was ample opportunity for him to dispel their “mistake,” and he failed to do so. Absence of evidence is very often meaningful.

    I’m not going to get into this much more, even if it wasn’t much work or time. The thing is, it’s really just a matter of history of science, and while I think the evidence that Darwin generally portrayed evolution as being quite slow and fairly uniform in rate is quite good, it’s not really all that important to today’s science. UD can flog the matter, as well as the punk eeq people, today’s science recognizes relatively rapid changes in response to environmental pressues, and adaptive radiations after mass extinctions. It’s good science, and whatever Darwin wrote doesn’t matter much to it.

    Glen Davidson

  9. Gregory: It seems impossible for you to seek justice, truth, beauty and goodness.

    Why not seek shelter for this worldview despair from Elizabeth Liddle, which she will surely grant to any fellow atheist!

    For a self-proclaimed deep thinker, you sure project a lot. You have my pity.

  10. From the start, Barry misinterpreted Darwin’s words. He even claims that when Darwin talked about the fossil record not being perfect, he was talking about it not being perfect for his theory. I don’t know if this is an honest misinterpretation, or a willful misrepresentation. Given his history, I am leaning quite heavily towards the latter.

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