New Registrations

I just noticed that the Captcha on the registration form was faulty (I’m not sure how long for) which made it impossible for anyone wishing to join in discussions here to register. I’ve fixed it now. My apologies to anyone affected.

Please be assured that the site welcomes new members and I invite those who have tried and been unable to register to have another go. If you experience any difficulties, please email me at alanfox@free.fr. (Unless you are a spammer, of course!)

My presentation at Lipscomb University in front of faculty and deans of several universities available for free online (expense for live attendance is $390)

Below is a link to a 22.5-minute video which is a rehearsed version of a speech (with power point and video and animation) to be delivered before several faculty and deans of various Christian Universities at the Christian Scholar’s Conference at Lipscomb University June 7, 2017.

My talk addresses the design of chromatin and the problem of evil.


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Is ID really a reasonable alternative to “it just happened”?

One of our regular commenters explains why they stick with ID:

ID is a perfectly reasonable alternative to “it just happened, that’s all.”

Yet that “reasonable alternative” is just “it happened like that because it was Intelligently Designed“. ID as yet has no specifics as to who, when, what, how, why etc.

So it seems to me that said commenter has just replaced “it just happened” with another phrase that means exactly the same thing but now they can be an intellectually fulfilled theist.  Continue reading

Dale Tuggy’s Trinitarian challenge – and a survey

Dale Tuggy is a Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York. He is also a podcaster and an enthusiastic blogger. Tuggy’s intellectual odyssey is an interesting one. He grew up as an evangelical who never seriously questioned the doctrine of the Trinity (that there are three persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – in one God), until he went to graduate school. After examining various rival Christian interpretations of the Trinitarian doctrine, he came to believe that it was profoundly unbiblical, and now calls himself a Christian unitarian, who identifies the one God of the Bible (YHWH) with the Father (and not the Son or the Holy Spirit).

It is not my intention in this post to argue either for or against the doctrine of the Trinity, or to explain precisely what it means. Rather, what I intend to do is evaluate a specific argument put forward by Professor Tuggy, which is deliberately targeted at certain evangelical apologists who have recently maintained that Jesus is God tout simple – in other words, that Jesus simply is God Himself, and that Jesus and the one God are therefore numerically identical. It should be noted that most Trinitarians do not say this: for them, the term “God” designates a being (or as some would prefer to say, Being Itself), whereas the name “Jesus” refers to an incarnate Divine person (God the Son). These Trinitarians would therefore agree with the conclusion of Tuggy’s argument, which is that Jesus is not divine in the same way that the one God is.

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That Dead Horse Just Won’t Stay Down

This isn’t one of the 10 unanswerable questions, but it’s still from Jonathan Wells’ book Icons of Evolution, p. 51. Wells is attempting to cast doubt on the efficacy of molecular systematics, by pointing out how silly some of the results are:

Even when different molecules can be combined to give a single tree, the result is often bizarre: A 1996 study using 88 protein sequences grouped rabbits with primates instead of rodents; a 1998 analysis of 13 genes in 19 animal species placed sea urchins among the chordates; and another 1998 study based on 12 proteins put cows closer to whales than to horses.

Of course the last example is the funniest, given the wealth of molecular and fossil data showing that cows and whales are indeed related. Continue reading

Alien

So I’ve gotten a tad bored with the discussion of macroevolution at the moment (it’s yet another rehash of the same points that keep cropping like cicada eruptions every few years. For a very similar recent exchange, look up Sal and his lungfish discussion. Or check out Things That IDers Don’t Understand, Part 1 — Intelligent Design is not compatible with the evidence for common descent – from 2012!)

So, as a public service, I figure I’d toss out a something that is a little less dramatic (on some levels) and wholly entertaining.

So I’m a big Alien fan. A fan of the original movie of that name that is and mostly a fan of the franchise that spawned from it. Big fan…HUGE! I loved the original movie (after getting the willies scared out of me the first time I saw it) because it was the only movie I’d ever seen that even remotely tried to come up with a concept of what an organism that did not develop on Earth might be like. And let’s face it, that was one cool organism they came up with!

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Jonathan Wells and Homology

This is the third and last of my answers to Jonathan Wells’ 10 unanswerable questions for evolutionists.

Question 3: Homology.

Wells: Why do textbooks define homology as similarity due to common ancestry, then claim that it is evidence for common ancestry — a circular argument masquerading as scientific evidence?

This question stems from confusion on Wells’ part between how something is defined and how it is recognized, which are two quite different things. Homology is indeed defined as similarity due to common ancestry. But we don’t just label any similarity a homology and call it evidence for common ancestry. That would indeed be circular. What we really do is quite different. Similarity between the characteristics of two organisms is an observation. If the similarity is sufficiently detailed (“both are big” or “both are green” won’t do) we consider it a candidate for homology.

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Jonathan Wells and Archaeopteryx

Since I’ve been asked, I’m posting another of my answers to the 10 unanswerable questions for evolutionists in Jonathan Wells’ book Icons of Evolution.

Question 5: Archaeopteryx.

Why do textbooks portray this fossil as the missing link between dinosaurs and modern birds — even though modern birds are probably not descended from it, and its supposed ancestors do not appear until millions of years after it?

What does Archaeopteryx have to be to qualify as a “link” (not a missing link, because it isn’t missing)? Wells apparently (he never really says) requires an insensible gradation of ancestors and descendants leading from an unquestioned dinosaur to an unquestioned bird, with Archaeopteryx in the middle. While that would be nice, it’s hardly necessary — and considering the quality of the fossil record, that’s lucky.

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Evo-Info review: Do not buy the book until…

Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, by Robert J. Marks II, the “Charles Darwin of Intelligent Design”; William A. Dembski, the “Isaac Newton of Information Theory”; and Winston Ewert, the “Charles Ingram of Active Information.” World Scientific, 332 pages.
Classification: Engineering mathematics. Engineering analysis. (TA347)
Subjects: Evolutionary computation. Information technology–Mathematics.

… the authors establish that their mathematical analysis of search applies to models of evolution.

I have all sorts of fancy stuff to say about the new book by Marks, Dembski, and Ewert. But I wonder whether I should say anything fancy at all. There is a ginormous flaw in evolutionary informatics, quite easy to see when it’s pointed out to you. The authors develop mathematical analysis of apples, and then apply it to oranges. You need not know what apples and oranges are to see that the authors have got some explaining to do. When applying the analysis to an orange, they must identify their assumptions about apples, and show that the assumptions hold also for the orange. Otherwise the results are meaningless.

The authors have proved that there is “conservation of information” in search for a solution to a problem. I have simplified, generalized, and trivialized their results. I have also explained that their measure of “information” is actually a measure of performance. But I see now that the technical points really do not matter. What matters is that the authors have never identified, let alone justified, the assumptions of the math in their studies of evolutionary models.a They have measured “information” in models, and made a big deal of it because “information” is conserved in search for a solution to a problem. What does search for a solution to a problem have to do with modeling of evolution? Search me. In the absence of a demonstration that their “conservation of information” math applies to a model of evolution, their measurement of “information” means nothing. It especially does not mean that the evolutionary process in the model is intelligently designed by the modeler.1

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