Posted tagged ‘Discovery Institute’

David Klinghoffer thoroughly misunderstands science

November 25, 2008

One problem with theistic evolution is that natural laws are predictable whereas Darwinian evolution, according to its own theorists, is entirely unpredictable. Think of those laws that govern weather patterns or the formation of geological features. Not so with Darwinian evolution, which can take any of countless very different directions. How could such a purposeless process reflect divine purpose?  Jerusalem Post

The excerpt above is also at the DI’s blog, which is why I am commenting on it.  I had seen the article previous to their post.

The man clearly knows nothing about logic, or he is deliberately conflating two different issues.  For, all of the laws behind evolution are the same laws behind all of science, including geology and meteorology.  Like any other complex system, evolution cannot be predicted very far out, which is certainly true of meteorology, and even many geological events (predict the timing of the next large California earthquake).  That’s what is wonderful about evolution as science, it brought life into the same scientific sphere as meteorology, geology, and ballistics.

Klinghoffer is clearly equivocating regarding the laws behind weather, which are quite stable, and the fact that the complex process of evolution itself is unpredictable in many of its aspects.  Of course he is just plain wrong when he claims that evolution “is entirely unpredictable,” since it would be in the same meaningless pit of baseless assertion that ID is in if that were the case.  The cladistic branchings in evolution are a firm prediction for any evolution involving primarily vertical transmission of genetic information, and any deviation from that must have a good explanation compatible with nature’s laws (as is the case with retroelements in eukaryotic genomes which came from viruses).

Related to the above prediction, but getting into some of the specifics, there can be no “common authorship” of modifications between lineages which have split from each other in “Darwinian evolution,” and indeed that is the case.  Also, complex working “machinery” of the cells is not going to arise de novo, but must have precursors.  This is almost certainly the case even with biochemical pathways which may conceivably (according to some) have arisen through processes other than “Darwinian processes,” for even “self-organization,” or some such thing, can hardly begin without complex precursors.  And again, these are the sorts of things we see in life, notably in the evolution of the two types of adaptive immunity, for once the two lines of immune evolution had split off from each other, no “common authorship” is visible, and both lines have crucial precursors existing in related related organisms which are without adaptive immunity.

Klinghoffer has long been a critic of evolution, but apparently has not even learned the solid predictions of “Darwinian evolution.”  He instead favors a “design process” which is truly without any constraints of “natural law” or of probabilistic processes.  So he criticizes evolution for being like his own mindless and undetectable “process,” which isn’t at all what evolution is about, while preferring exactly such meaningless tripe over the evolutionary theory which in fact brought life under the same causal understanding as Newton’s physics.

This all reminds me of when Paul Nelson was at Panda’s Thumb, complaining that evolution wasn’t predictable while other scientifically-understood processes were. So I asked him to join me in a thunderstorm and to tell me then (not days beforehand) where the next lightning strike would take place. Well, of course Nelson didn’t answer me, nor does he ever engage honestly and forthrightly with the difficulties raised by any of us. 

And to be really equal, I probably should have asked him to predict where the next lightning strike would occur well before the thunderstorm took place, since they’re asking for completely ridiculous predictions and impossible (due to lack of full information) explanations regarding evolution.  But I didn’t need to do so, because it is well beyond our present powers to predict where the next lightning strike will take place even a minute ahead during a thunderstorm.

So as usual, they completely fail to understand science, evolution, to engage honestly with us the few times when they’ll even meet us on an uncensored (at least not much censored) forum, or to meet any of the demands that they try to impose upon our science.  Unfortunately, almost to a person, the proponents of this pseudoscience fail as much through a lack of morality as they do through their large lacunae in knowledge of science and of philosophy.

Casey Luskin accuses us of the censorship that Behe recommended for evolution

October 7, 2008

Casey Luskin accuses us of the censorship that Behe recommended for evolution

I have quoted this previously, but it is a wondrous gem, and is worth repeating:

 If a theory claims to be able to explain some phenomenon but does not generate even an attempt at an explanation, then it should be banished. Michael J. Behe, DBB p.186

But of course he is not recommending there the banishment of the worthless apologetics called “Intelligent Design,” it’s the productive evolutionary theory both highlighting problems and guiding to solutions that he wishes to ban.  The longer quote goes like this:

If a theory claims to be able to explain some phenomenon but does not generate even an attempt at an explanation, then it should be banished.  Despite comparing sequences and mathematical modeling, molecular evolution has never addressed the question of how complex structures came to be.  In effect, the theory of Darwinian  molecular evolution has not published, and so it should perish.  Michael J. Behe, DBB p.186

It would be too tedious to list everything that is wrong with that statement, which includes the flat-out falsehood that evolution has never addressed the question of how complex structures came to be.  The primary implicit falsehood is that ID has answered anything at all, on any level, while of course evolution has provided a number of clues and near-certainties about how a number of complex biological systems arose.

Mainly, it shows that IDists like Behe would be more than happy to censor evolution simply because it leads to answers, while ID cannot compete scientifically.  Nevertheless, the Discovery Institute, of which Behe is a fellow, continues to churn out monotonous and ludicrous charges of censorship on the side of science, simply because it treats ID like the mindless twaddle that it is.  Casey Luskin recently wrote a three-part essay accusing us of doing what Behe recommends should be done with real science, which is silencing it.  Here’s a little of his dreary, dishonest nonsense:

As we discussed last week with the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, we’re recounting efforts by and support of Darwinists to ban pro-intelligent design (ID) books or ideas from schools. Part 1 recounted attempts to censor pro-ID books from public school libraries, and Part 2 discussed attempts to ban pro-ID viewpoints from high school science classrooms. But for some Darwinists, it isn’t enough to merely ban ID from public high school science classrooms or public high school libraries. In this third installment, we’ll discuss how some Darwinists will not be satisfied until ID is censored within the university setting as well.  Luskin (part 3)

My point is not to tackle the details of any of Luskin’s accusations, since I can neither trust Luskin, nor do I care to study out the specifics.  All three parts are linked above, so anyone interested can evaluate his claims for himself.  What does matter first and foremost is the hypocrisy of Behe calling for “banishment” of evolutionary theory even though it is highly successful, while his fellow Luskin whinges about ID being treated as Behe recommends that evolution should be, no matter that ID has nothing at all to commend it scientifically.

Even were Luskin’s charges fully true–which clearly most are not–what he complains about is no different than the recommendations of Behe with respect to a completely vacuous theory, like ID in fact is.  ID seems to do little now except to complain about “censorship,” and yet one of the earliest, and certainly one of the most influential, pro-ID books stated that if a theory does “not generate even an attempt at an explanation, then it should be banished.”  Indeed, with ID doing essentially nothing to present even the appearance of any attempts at science, let alone explanation, it should, by Behe’s standards, be banished.