HuffPo screws up evolution again

I’m coyneing the term “New Creationism” to describe the body of thought that accepts Darwinian evolution but with the additional caveats that 1) it was all started by God, 2) had God-worshipping humans as its goal, and 3) that the evidence for all this is that life is complex, humans evolved, and the the “fine tuning” of physical constants of the universe testify to the great improbability of our being here—ergo God. New Creationism differs from intelligent design because it rejects God’s constant intervention in the process of evolution in favor of a Big, One-Time Intervention, and because these ideas are espoused by real scientists like Kenneth Miller and Simon Conway Morris. (Note that Miller, though, has floated the possibility that God does sometimes intervene in the physical world by manipulating electrons.)  New Creationism is bad because, while operating under the deep cover of real science, it tries to gain traction for dubious claims about the supernatural.

After today I promise that I won’t link to the nonsense at HuffPo for a while, but a new piece, “Evolution Presupposes Design, So Why the Controversy?”, by philosopher Ervin Laszlo, is too good not to mock.  It assembles a bunch of creationist and New Creationist arguments to argue that there’s really no debate about evolution versus creationism: the truth is somewhere in the middle. (I remember Dick Lewontin once writing something like, “It is an unexamined rule of intellectual life that if there are two diametrically opposed positions, the truth must be somewhere in the middle.”) Laszlo argues:

The creationist position would be the logical choice if — but only if — scientists would persist in claiming that the evolution of living species is a product of two-fold serendipity. But at the cutting edge, scientists no longer claim this. Post-Darwinian biologists recognize that the evolution of species is far more than the chance processes classical Darwinists say it is. It must be more, because the time that was available for evolution would not have been sufficient to generate the complex web of life on this planet merely by trial and error. Mathematical physicist Sir Fred Hoyle calculated the probabilities and came to the conclusion that they are about the same as the probability that a hurricane blowing through a scrap-yard assembles a working airplane.

This argument, known as “Hoyle’s fallacy,” has long been discredited by evolutionary biologists on the grounds that selection does not assemble complex organisms and traits all at once from simple precursors, but builds up things gradually, with each step conferring an adaptive advantage.  This is discredited science, and Laszlo would have known it had he done a few minutes’ worth of Googling.   (HuffPo columnists don’t seem to have mastered the use of Google.)  Saying that evolution by selection operates through “trial and error” is surely misleading, for the trials are rewarded by being saved in successful genomes.  Does Laszlo not understand this? If not, he has no business writing on evolution.  If he does, he’s intellectually dishonest.  Laszlo argues that evolutionists must believe in divine intervention:

In the final count the evolution of life presupposes intelligent design. But the design it presupposes is not the design of the products of evolution; it’s the design of its preconditions. Given the right preconditions, nature comes up with the products on her own.

The debate between creationists and evolutionists would be better focused on the origins of the universe than on the origins of life. Could it be that our universe has been purposefully designed so it could give rise to the evolution of life? For creationists, this would be the logical assumption. Evolutionists could not object: evolution, being an irreversible process, must have had a beginning, and that beginning must be accounted for. And our fine-tuned universe is entirely unlikely to have come about by chance.

Ah, the Cosmological Argument meets Fine Tuning. Anyone who reads this website should be able to debunk these arguments.  If not, I’d recommend, among recent stuff, selected parts of The God Delusion, Victor Stenger’s discussions of fine-tuning, Steven Weinberg’s “A Designer Universe?”, and a short article on the Cosmological Argument that you can find here.  Now some of the scientific critiques of the “fine-tuning” argument are speculative, but the point is that if Laszlo is writing for a general audience, as he surely is at HuffPo, then intellectual honesty demands that he at least note that scientists and philosophers have answers to his criticisms. And it would be nice if he’d name some of those “cutting edge” scientists who supposedly recognize that selection and evolution cannot explain life on earth.

Here’s Laszlo’s Big Solution:

So the creationist/evolutionist controversy really is pointless. Design is a necessary assumption, because chance doesn’t explain the facts. But evolution is likewise a necessary assumption, for given the way this universe works, the evolution of complexity is a logical and by now well-documented consequence. Therefore the rational conclusion is not design or evolution. It’s design for evolution.

Well, that settles that. What he’s really saying here is this: “Evolution started off simple and now many organisms are quite complex.  Therefore God.”  And evolution is not a “necessary assumption,” it’s a scientific theory that happens to be true.   Laszlo’s compromise between evolution and design is hogwash, pure and simple. Its rests on the faulty premise that evolution and selection are demonstrably insufficient to explain life’s complexity, and the rest is pure God-of-the-gaps theology. The extent to which Laszlo’s article seems credible to the public is a measure of the damage done to science by the New Creationists.

48 Comments

  1. Posted April 18, 2010 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Ervin Laszlo, a nominee to the Templeton Foundation Prize :-)
    Jerry, I will certainly use your “New Creationism” term, as it is already in use in Europe to describe almost the same attitude you put in your definition (sometimes called soft-creationism). I have even a blog dedicated to one of Templeton’s minions here in France who is promoting exactly this kind of neo-creationism (neocreationniste.blogspot for you french reading people).

    But I would like people to adopt the scienligion term also, for attempts to use science as potential support for religious beliefs, trying to make them look as rational.
    And neocreationists are certainly of the scienligious kind.

  2. orangejuice
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    This guy is not a “philosopher”. Even a cursory glance at the Ervin Laszlo page linked to in this blog post reveals classic signs of crackpotism. Crackpots like to call themselves philosophers, among other things, and so does this fellow. But that’s no reason to adopt the label…

  3. oldfuzz
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Why do we need a new term to replace an existing one. Within creationism there are YECs and OECs (Young earth and Old Earth). Both are creationists believing a creator formed the universe, earth, life and humankind in the sequence described in Genesis.

    There are at least two problems I see in creating this term.

    1. It does not describe an imagined, not an existent, group of “believers’; i.e. it extends the basic definition of creationism beyond the realm of proof.

    2. It, like the term accommodationist, can be readily used as a slur, which is a poor approach for a rational discourse.

    • oldfuzz
      Posted April 18, 2010 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      typo: 1: should read, “It describes an imagined, not an existent, group of “believers’…”

    • Posted April 18, 2010 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      I don’t think it as a replacement, rather as the description of a sub-set of creationists, that is believers in a creator of the universe.
      Within the creationists set one can define as many sub-sets as necessary to make it easy to refer to particular groups.

      • oldfuzz
        Posted April 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        My concern is that it is imprecise. Creationists are already categorized as OEC and YEC. I doubt there is any way YECs would accept evolution, although they have acquiesced on dinosaurs, but not the timeline as they have them as pets in the Creation Museum.

        Maybe we could have a special branch of OECs, the Old Earth Evolutionist creationists, OEECs. OE(squared)Cs would work for me.

  4. ennui
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    OK,so a skyhook invents the crane of evolution; the crane is a process designed to converge on H. sapiens, no less; therefore what, exactly? i.e. How do you get to Jesus from here?

    You would still need to add more ‘omni’-style qualities to the skyhook, and then you’d need the standard theodicy. And miracles, and hell, and the historicity of Jesus, and the divinity of Jesus, and the inspired origins of the Bible, and the inerrancy of all those translations, and Original Sin, and the “chosen people.”

    I mean, if I really just want to feel morally superior, celebrate Easter and Christmas, hate on gays, discriminate against women, oppose contraception, rape altar boys, and compare clothing once a week, this flavourless gum doesn’t get me very far, now does it?

  5. Posted April 18, 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Wait, I thought Laszlo was supposed to be the “smart” character in Real Genius?

    HuffBlo is the New Enquirer of sensationalistic nonsense. Oy vey.

    • Jason
      Posted April 18, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      LOL. A Real Genius reference. I remember that movie. Nicely done Sir.

  6. godskesen
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    How unsurprising that the people who see the apparent fine-tuning of the universe as a proven fact, rather than an artifact of yet incomplete theories of physics, invariably are those who wish to use fine-tuning as an argument for some form of religion. It’s seriously damaging to science literacy that they won’t ever admit that science is process of coming up with yet better answers and that as such, fine-tuning isn’t a safe assumption to base theological arguments on. It just can’t be taken for granted. This makes me angry.

    • Thornavis.
      Posted April 18, 2010 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      The fine-tuning = god view is really just an up market version of the god of the gaps, the kind of thing that New Agers like to read in a Sunday supplement to save them having to spend a few minutes thinking.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 18, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Well, it is worse. There literary is no fine tuning. Read Vic Stenger “God – the failed hypothesis” on how he and others model universes like ours under a wide parameter range of many orders of magnitude. (This is in no way in conflict with using the weak anthropic principle to naturally be placed within that parameter range.)

      And I respectfully submit that a fallacy of confusing a priori probability with a posteriori likelihood can never be an artifact of science. Only of religious “thinking”.

      Again, using the WAP above, is it likely to find life compatible with life compatible environment? Well, yes! And WAP is the scientific hypothesis here, ask the cosmologists. The New Creationists can’t have it both ways! At least if you ask me.

      • articulett
        Posted April 18, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        This is what we can expect so long as accommodationists allow religionists to claim that science and religion are perfectly compatible. This is true only in the same way that science and any supernatural belief are compatible. Theoretically science could be compatible with leprechaun belief if all you mean by compatible is that science can’t prove leprechauns don’t exist and some scientists believe in leprechauns.

        No superstition, religion, or pseudoscience should be allowed to ride upon the respectable coat tails of science. Religionists should have their religion treated exactly how they want to have conflicting religions treated.

        I roll my eyes when the people attempt to use science to justify their faith.

        • articulett
          Posted April 18, 2010 at 9:44 am | Permalink

          oops… the above post was meant to be added to the bottom.

          I did want to respond to the “fine tuning” argument.

          Humans have been “fine tuned” through evolution to see “design” and “purpose” –even when none is there. They are especially prone to such misperceptions if the design elevates their perceive place in the universe.

      • MadScientist
        Posted April 18, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        “And I respectfully submit that a fallacy of confusing a priori probability with a posteriori likelihood can never be an artifact of science. Only of religious “thinking”.”

        Well, not really; it just shows how little people understand statistics. The statisticians have a name for it: “Prosecutor’s Fallacy”. You see the sort of argument on TV many times and most people buy the bullshit: Event X is extremely unlikely, therefore the accused is guilty. And yet, according to reality, in the absence of any other evidence, if event X is extremely unlikely then it is extremely likely to have happened and the accused is most likely to be innocent. Unfortunately jurors do not understand this and they convict many innocent people.

        • Posted April 18, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          I use this one in my statistics class. I pass out cards to my 22 students and then ask them: what is the probability that this class got exactly this hand?

          1/C(52,22) = (22!)(30)!/(52!) which is small. Then I say “it’s a miracle!” The bottom line is that this “747″ argument presumes what they are trying to prove: that humans, as we are right now, was the “intended target” of an evolutionary process.

  7. NewEnglandBob
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Laszlo is batting 000. He starts with a false basis, progresses through steps that are nonsense and comes out with a conclusion that hardly refers to his missteps. Straw floor, straw walls, straw roof.

    • MadScientist
      Posted April 18, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      You mean he’s aspiring to be a Thomas Aquinas? Bullshit in, bullshit out, therefore god?

  8. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I’m coyneing the term “New Creationism”

    Are we on catnip today? Kick-tail article!

    But this:

    Saying that evolution by selection operates through “trial and error” is surely misleading, for the trials are rewarded by being saved in successful genomes.

    *facepawm* Or, at least, this felid think so.

    “Trial and error” isn’t about remembering the result of selection, which is inherent in the learning process, but about type of selection. IMHO trial-and-error is analogous to negative selection (against failures of reproduction) and trial-and-reward is analogous to positive selection (for better reproduction).

    Saving in (relatively) successful genomes happens in both cases, and would be simply inheritance, would it not?

    evolution, being an irreversible process, must have had a beginning,

    Um, no.

    First, every process has initial conditions.

    Which sometimes can be pushed out to timelike infinity. I further argue that obviates the need for specifying them if the system lacks memory. (Say, by having deterministic chaos.)

    The small probability that the system is born in such a fixed point is replaced by the high likelihood that indeed it was in such an instance. As seen by the pushing out process, unhindered by memory.

    Any other suggestion is as far as I can see to make the New Creationist mistake of confusing a priori probabilities with a posteriori likelihoods in the “fine-tuning fallacy” [see, I'm coyneing new terms too :-D] or in Hoyle’s fallacy.

    Second, AFAIU evolution isn’t generally irreversible any more than chemical reactions in general is irreversible. You can see complex species simplify when adapting to a parasitic life.

    For an ultimate example, how about those parasite cancers of tasmanian devils? And AFAIK nothing prevents them from eventually regain cell specialization and body plans, even sex, as they continue to evolve. (At least in principle, if they make a species jump and become interspecies transmissible – we are running out of devils.)

    The existence of observed irreversibility of interlocking complexities (in, say, protein evolution) doesn’t tell us about initial conditions any more than a ball moving downslope tells us about the slope beyond the crest.

    Can we revoke Lazlo’s permission to pontificate on basic science?

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted April 18, 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Can we revoke Lazlo’s permission to pontificate on basic science?

      If he ever had permission, yes revoke it, and slap the person who granted it.

      • Posted April 18, 2010 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        Oh, right! And where does the fun will come from? These guys are precious, should only warn people that are here for comic effect.

  9. Neil
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    If god went to so much trouble to disguise his role, shouldn’t we humans at least humor him?

  10. Posted April 18, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Laszlo seems like a very confused person.  He actually contradicts his own conclusion:

    …our fine-tuned universe is entirely unlikely to have come about by chance.

    mkay, but earlier he wrote:

    According to quantum cosmology, some 1 x 10500 (1 followed by five hundred zeros) universes could exist physically, but only a handful could give rise to life.

    If 1 x 10500 universes could exist, and “a handful could give rise to life” then clearly, by his own numbers, at least one fine-tuned universe is very likely to have come about by chance.

  11. Monika
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    *Brain hurts*
    The HuffPo owes me a new BS meter, this article from Lazlo broke it.
    I don’t get it, he’s using all the old canards of creationism and expects us evil evolutionists to bow to his masterful mind.

    Getretener Quark wird breit, nicht stark. (Stomped curd cheese(german colloquial for nonsense) becomes flat, not strong.)

  12. stvs
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    “New Creationist” makes lot more sense than “New Atheist”, which doesn’t make any. Even the one of the foremost contributors to evolutionary theory, a self-described Christian, saw the obvious reason why a god cannot guide evolution or design:

    If we imagine, then, some extra-natural agency endeavouring to influence the organic evolution of mammals and birds by the production, on millions of different occasions, of this single mutation, we can recognise that its efforts were futile and inoperative. –R.A. Fisher, Creative Aspects of Natural Law

    Surely “New Creationists” like Ken Miller know that their god is necessarily “futile and inoperative” in all measurable aspects, but to soothe themselves about their professed faith nonetheless make anodyne statements about how this god might act in quantum gaps.

  13. Posted April 18, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    “it was all started by God, 2) had God-worshipping humans as its goal”

    Funny goal, isn’t it. Must be a very bored god. Imagine one of us creating a universe with the goal of having us-worshipping miniature humans. What the hell would be the point of that? Why would we want a bunch of tiny little thingies collecting once a week to say how great we are? Why would we want that badly enough to build a universe to contain the thingies and a cruel system of natural selection to select them?

    What a very peculiar god that would have to be.

    • MadScientist
      Posted April 18, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Hey, it worked for Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and the Kims of North Korea. So if we’re created in god’s image as claimed by some, it makes sense to be an asshole like god.

    • Posted April 18, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Apparently – according to David Heddle in a comment on Jason Rosenhouse’s blog – no Christian believes that God needs us to worship him; what they believe is that it’s us who have the need.

      I can’t honestly say I grasp the ‘logic’ of that, but that’s not the point. He believes he’s found a loophole to maintain internal consistency.

  14. Jeremy
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Laslo is no philosopher. I know this, because I am no philosopher, and yet I can easily detect several fatal flaws in his Big Solution paragraph:

    “Design is a necessary assumption, because chance doesn’t explain the facts”

    This is a false dichotomy. The fact that chance doesn’t account for complexity does not in any way lend credence to the design hypothesis.

    “But evolution is likewise a necessary assumption, for given the way this universe works, the evolution of complexity is a logical and by now well-documented consequence.”

    This is a non sequitur. If design is on the table (which we’ll briefly concede possible for argument’s sake), then evolution isn’t at all necessary.

    “Therefore the rational conclusion is not design or evolution. It’s design for evolution.”

    Therefore? THEREFORE??

    • Posted April 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Jeremy wrote:
      ““Therefore the rational conclusion is not design or evolution. It’s design for evolution.”

      Therefore? THEREFORE??”

      Exactly. When I was a kid at high school, some Christian, having come in (superficial) contact with the Marxian dialectic, came up with:

      “Thesis: Life
      Antithesis: Death
      Synthesis: Life after death.”

      I’d have said what we actually see, life before death, was sufficient synthesis, but why not living death or the living undead?

      It’s just throwing words at each other.

      • Posted April 19, 2010 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        but why not living death or the living undead?

        Yet more proof that Jesus was actually a zombie.

  15. Posted April 18, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    “Evolution Presupposes Design”

    Argh. Never mind evolution, this guy has a problem with logic. And causality. Maybe he stopped studying philosophy with Aristotle and the notion of final (teleologic) causes. That’s 2300 years of thinking that he’s missing here.

    • Posted April 18, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Oh non, he is the keeper of Plato’s/Aristotle’s teleology in the very same manner as almost all christians. Theilhard de Chardin’s (noosphere) is quite close to Laszlo’s take (akashic field), the later coming with a ‘quantum leap’: quantum brain, quantum conscience, quantum god.
      As I pointed, Templenton’s way to approach science (hey, it says quantum) to religion, common to Collins, Miller, d’Espagnat, Laszlo, etc.

  16. Posted April 18, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    And I note the unsubtle use by Laszlo of the phrase “post-Darwinian biologists”. Yes, they are working after Darwin, but they didn’t stop to work within the paradigm of Darwinian evolution. Not in the way that, say, modern physics can be called “post-Newtonian” because of Einsteins’s Theory of Relativity!

  17. MadScientist
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Hehehe; I like how he loads all his bullshit statements. If scientists kept insisting on the role of chance in evolution (which is undisputable), then creationism must be the Right Thing to believe. What a moron. Well, there’s news for him then, chance still has a large part to play and creationism is still bullshit.

  18. Posted April 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    My two cents:

    The whole fine-tuning thing is getting it backwards. Of course we’re going to find conditions just right for our existence, if they weren’t we wouldn’t exist. It’s like looking back at the evolutionary process and trying to work out the odds of every mutation that happened to make X. Since everything went right and we can’t attribute that to chance, then there must have been some intelligence behind it right? Wrong!

    As for the whole “there must be some intelligence” thing, this is a completely useless conjecture until the intelligence can be demonstrated. We see a watch, we infer a watchmaker. If we saw a watch-like device in 100,000,000 year old rock, we would be lost as to how to account for it because there were no species alive capable of making one. (aliens of time travel would probably be the only viable options). Positing a designer in nature? Demonstrate that there is such a designer, otherwise it’s a circular argument.

  19. Posted April 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    As for “new creationist”, I think the term “cosmic creationist” is a little more descriptive. God has gone from being a maker of eyes to a breaker of supersymmetry.

    • Posted April 19, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      I agree. “New Creationist” makes me think of folks like Dembski, who use superficially mainstream-seeming scientific arguments to oppose evolution (in contrast to old school guys like Kent Hovind, whose theories are so preposterous on the surface that it boggles the mind anybody could be taken in for even an instant; and more faith-y Creationists like Ken Ham who tend to favor Biblical arguments over pseudo-scientific ones).

      “Cosmic Creationist” sums it up nicely, however.

      • Posted April 19, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

        I agree, “New Creationists” should apply to those scientists and philosophers who support Intelligent Design / Creation Science, the ones who argue for a scientific basis to their belief in an intervening intelligence. But it’s still a question of biology itself rather than of the development of the universe.

        Then there’s also “mind creationist” (coined by Dan Dennett) for those who are quite happy with the biological process but think that it can’t craft a mind.

  20. Krubozumo Nyankoye
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Proper disclaimers follow: I have been reading this site for a while to try to get a sense of its character. I am impressed overall. I think it is a good and valuable resource. I think the discussion is at the very least, above average.

    That said, I would like to point out that there is a subtle point here that in my judgement is not obviously brought out. The mainstream creationists and their apologists, including anyone who would accept a Templeton bribe, are willing, perhaps eager, to throw the intellectual integrity of science under the bus in making every possible effort to discredit its ability to discover truth on the one hand and wrap themselves in its mantle of integrity on the other.

    Science in the end, is based on a kind of trust. All these diversions and digressions if not designed, at the very least have the effect of corrupting that trust. All forms of creationsim, denialism, equivocating that pose as “scientific” have the effect of diminishing the actual value of science, not just in the minds of the lay public, but in terms of corrupting otherwise legitimate scientists as well.

    Science as a method of getting at the truth in incremental steps is being slowly changed into just another way of knowing.

    Although it may be disingenuous to say so, to me, this process of diminishing the integrity of science is a serious and deadly threat.

    I do not think that science is the one true path or any other profound philisophical conclusion. But there can be no argument that it has been, where applied to appropriate problems, shown to work beyond the wildest dreams of the magicians and superstitious fools.

    We cannot know how well it will work when properly applied to the many extant problems which have thus far evaded its scrutiny. But if they will indeed yield new insights, it will not be by postulating unknowable mysticisms.

    Those who would conflate the nature of science and superstition do not deserve much discussion, let alone accomodation.

  21. stvs
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Egads, Jerry, I just followed the HuffPo link — you let this crackpot off easy! “Information field” aka “Akasic field” in the early universe?!! Wiki to the rescue: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akashic_records, showing a theosophy/Madam Blavatsky connection. That’s a Blavatsky number of one for this guy — as good a metric for crackpotism as you’ll find.

  22. Bimston
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    It seems like the Huffington Post is getting more and more like Pravda every day.

    http://english.pravda.ru/science/mysteries/12-04-2010/112975-entropy-0

    http://english.pravda.ru/science/mysteries/16-04-2010/113050-evolution-0

    Science section, indeed!

    The problem with all current design-based theories is that they explain the exact same things that evolution explains but with the caveat of having to resort to supernaturalism, making them de facto nonscientific theories. Any theory that doesn’t posit natural causes lacks predictive capacity (since the causes are supernatural – beyond the scope of scientific theory).

    The problem with these “New Creationists,” who seem to me exactly identical to most theistic evolutionists, is that their rationale reads as follows:
    1) Natural causes did it (e.g. evolution)
    2) Except evolution couldn’t do it all by itself
    3) Um, God and some stuff, uh, design… *cough* ontological necessity. (Hand waving)

    In other words, they consider the exact same data and models as evolution, add in a completely superfluous and unfalsifiable premise and then mix in a healthy dose of theological woo. Anybody who takes this stuff seriously needs to check their science goggles for cracks.

  23. Posted April 19, 2010 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    “” Mathematical physicist Sir Fred Hoyle calculated the probabilities and came to the conclusion that they are about the same as the probability that a hurricane blowing through a scrap-yard assembles a working airplane.”

    This argument, known as “Hoyle’s fallacy,” has long been discredited by evolutionary biologists on the grounds that selection does not assemble complex organisms and traits all at once from simple precursors, but builds up things gradually, with each step conferring an adaptive advantage.”

    Not only that but this argument by analogy forgets that all the aeroplane parts WERE intelligently designed and manufactured (and hence much more complex than the building blocks of life), to be intelligently fitted together in just one way. However life began, it was nothing like that. And it took much, much longer than a hurricane.

  24. Posted April 19, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    When I was about 15 or so, I stumbled upon Hoyle’s book and swallowed the message relatively uncritically. I was anything but a Creationist, but for a time I espoused doubts about Darwinian evolution being a sufficient explanation for speciation. This would have been circa 1994.

    By analogy, I estimate that Laszlo’s ability to vet the credibility of his sources is on par with a teenager in the pre-Google era.

    Sad.

  25. Posted April 19, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Torbjörn wrote

    Second, AFAIU evolution isn’t generally irreversible any more than chemical reactions in general is irreversible. You can see complex species simplify when adapting to a parasitic life.

    Those are two different senses of “reversible.” Reversible chemical reactions retrace a path to the original starting point/state. Evolutionary ‘simplification,’ as in the instance of parasites, is change to a new, though simpler, state, not retracement to a simpler prior state.

  26. oldfuzz
    Posted April 20, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    In adjective-noun labeling my preference is for the noun to identify the category and the adjective, the segment thereof.

    Creationism, which posits that God created the universe, earth and every species individually, has two primary domains: Young Earth and Old Earth, the differences being the age of the universe. While I am not current on the latest creationist worldview, I am unaware of any creationist subscribing to the theory of evolution. I am, however, familiar with scientists who are theists, although those I know equate God with that which is, so far, transcendent; e.g., love, values, meaning of life, etc.

    Would it be more accurate (scientific?) to identify evolutionists as either atheist, theist or, for in my case, non-theist (meaning that the idea of god has become so vague as to be inconsequential).

  27. Posted April 22, 2010 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    It can’t be new creationism. For example, Henderson’s ‘The Fitness of the Environment: An Inquiry into the Biological Significance of the Properties of Matter’ was written in 1913. Teilhard de Chardin wrote his stuff in the late sixties. Asa Gray was reconciling Christianity and evolution back in the late 19th century. Brandon Carter came up with the anthropic principle in the seventies, etc etc.. If anything the ID stuff is newer.

    Need a better name.

  28. Posted April 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Articulett, indeed1 Lamberth’s argument from intent [ atelic or teleonomic argument] notes that the weight of scientific evidence notes no intent behind natural causes, and furthermore such posturlation contradicts natural cause ratheer than bieng compatible with them!
    Faaith doth that to people1 Faith, that begged question [Articulett] of its subject to obviate giving evidence for Him is the we just say so of credullit. Sydney Hook notes that science is aquired knowledge whilst faith begs the question of being knowledge.
    The New Creationism is creation evolution, which begs the question as all teleological arguments do that there was divine intent that we evolved.
    And, Jerry and Amiel Rossow’s essays 2 Talk Reason underscores this powerful argument, which also eviscerates other arguments based on intent like the Primary Cause and the Grand Miracle Monger.
    This is why Scott errs in urging us not to use the notion of no intent against creation evolution: those fears that others notes about her!


4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] HuffPo screws up evolution again I will link and comment to cited article anonce, but this counter from Coyne’s blog should accompany the commentary. [...]

  2. [...] HuffPo screws up evolution again [...]

  3. [...] process took place that didn’t have “god in the gaps” to cause some mutations, but still believe that humans were the goal of the process and that it was driven by some deity. Of interest to me is this: After today I promise that I won’t link to the nonsense at HuffPo for [...]

  4. [...] Jerry Coyne on “New Creationism.” [...]

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