David Berlinski makes an ass of himself defending intelligent design

I know of no critic of evolution—perhaps save the late William F. Buckley, Jr.—who is at once so eloquent and so ignorant as David Berlinski.  The man has spent years attacking evolutionary biology and defending intelligent design (ID), and is, to my knowledge, the only living creationist who is not religious. (He claims to be an agnostic, though I have trouble believing that.) He’s also a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute, a position reserved for only the Highest Poo-Bahs of Ignorance.

Yesterday, at the Discovery Institute’s News and Views site, Berlinski wrote “Majestic Ascent: Berlinski on Darwin on Trial,” a post apparently designed to fête the twentieth anniversary of Phillip Johnson’s execrable Darwin on Trial: the book that launched the ID movement.  Johnson’s book is full of inaccuracies and lies (I use the word deliberately, because no honest scholar could make the claims that he did).  And, sure enough, Berlinksi’s post is full of lies as well.  I’m not going to analyze it in detail, but here are a few blatant misrepresentations.

First, a specimen of how incredibly pompous and awkward Berlinski’s writing is. Do not write like this!  I think he’s trying to ape Gould’s style, possessed with a big vocabulary but lacking Gould’s wit and erudition.

Comments such as these [Michael Ghiselin’s withering criticism of Darwin on Trial] had the effect of raw meat dropped carelessly among carnivores. A scramble ensued to get the first bite. No one bothered to attack the preposterous Ghiselin. It was Richard Dawkins who had waggled his tempting rear end, and behind Dawkins, fesse à fesse [buttock to buttock] Charles Darwin. With the publication in 1991 of Darwin on Trial Phil Johnson did what carnivores so often do: He took a bite.

This metaphor is neither apposite nor appetizing.  At any rate, here’s what Berlinski says. The first thing he gets dead wrong is the fossil record:

Every paleontologist writing since Darwin published his masterpiece in 1859, has known that the fossil record does not support Darwin’s theory. The theory predicted a continuum of biological forms, so much so that from the right perspective, species would themselves be seen as taxonomic artifacts, like the classification of certain sizes in men’s suiting as husky. Questions about the origin of species were resolved in the best possible way: There are no species and so there is no problem. Inasmuch as the historical record suggested a discrete progression of fixed biological forms, it was fatal to Darwin’s project. All the more reason, Darwin argued, to discount the evidence in favor of the theory. “I do not pretend,” he wrote, “that I should ever have suspected how poor a record of the mutations of life, the best preserved geological section presented, had not the difficulty of our not discovering innumerable transitional links between the species which appeared at the commencement and close of each formation, pressed so hardly on my theory.”

This is, as Johnson noted, self-serving gibberish.

Self-serving gibberish my butt! Darwin recognized full well that he didn’t have enough fossils to confirm his theory, and at least he admitted it.  Would that the idiots at the Discovery Institute were intellectually courageous enough to write a chapter on “difficulties on theory,” as did Darwin! Since when has an IDer admitted any problem with that theory?

But Darwin didn’t need evidence from fossils to support his theory: he had enough evidence from biogeography, from vestigial organs, from embryology, from the hierarchical arrangement of life, from evidence of heritable variation and from the efficacy of artificial selection—to convince people of evolution even if there had been no fossils.  And convince thinking people he did.

Of course, since Darwin’s time the “missing” fossil evidence has appeared—in spades.  It’s all detailed in my book, and you can find it online, too. We have intermediates between early fish and amphibians, early amphibians and reptiles, reptiles and birds, and reptiles and early mammals. We have lineages, especially of marine microfossils, but also of larger animals like horses, showing gradual change that accumulates into what can only be seen as macroevolution.

We have the once-missing intermediates between terrestrial artiodactyls and whales: a fine fossil series.  And, of course, we have all those fossils in the hominin family tree, from early australopithecines with apelike skulls and more modern human-like postcranial skeletons to more modern forms that closely resemble modern humans in nearly every feature. None of these were known in Darwin’s time.

For Berlinski to pretend that the fossil evidence doesn’t support Darwin, when every bloody fossilized tooth, bone, leaf, and integument cries out “evolution”, is the height of stupidity. Or, since I don’t think Berlinski is stupid, let’s say the height of intellectual dishonesty.  Berlinkski knows of the fossil record, and pretends it doesn’t exist. He’s a liar.

He also lies about whether Darwin (or modern biologists) think there are species. Berlinski implies that Darwin denied the existence of species. He didn’t, though he was at times confused about what they represented. Modern biologists, of course (at least most of them, with the exception of a few botanist or systematist miscreants), also realize that species are real units of nature, and most of us understand that they are reproductive units, separated from other such units by genetic barriers to interbreeding.

After handily disposing of evolution, Berlinski takes out after natural selection:

Few serious biologists are today willing to defend the position that Dawkins expressed in The Blind Watchmaker. The metaphor remains stunning and so the watchmaker remains blind, but he is now deaf and dumb as well. With a few more impediments, he may as well be dead. The publication in 1983 of Motoo Kimura’s The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution consolidated ideas that Kimura had introduced in the late 1960s. On the molecular level, evolution is entirely stochastic, and if it proceeds at all, it proceeds by drift along a leaves-and-current model. Kimura’s theories left the emergence of complex biological structures an enigma, but they played an important role in the local economy of belief.

What Berlinski is saying here is twofold.  First, that there is no evidence for natural selection, either on genes or organisms. That’s palpable nonsense.  We have by now accumulated hundreds of cases of natural selection acting in real time on traits, not to mention evidence for a). the efficacy of artificial selection and b). the presence of pervasive genetic variation in natural populations, both of which indicate that fitness differentials in nature will lead perforce to evolutionary change.

Second, Berlinski implies that Kimura’s neutral theory nullifies natural selection.  It doesn’t. Kimura’s theory was a big advance in the field, suggesting and working out the consequences of genetic variants that don’t affect fitness.  And, indeed, much of molecular evolution (and an unknown amount of phenotypic evolution) may have been affected by drift. But even Kimura didn’t deny that natural selection was an important evolutionary force, and the only known evolutionary force that can produce adaptations. To say that the neutral theory left the emergence of complex biological features “an emigma” is simply a misrepresentation of what the neutral theory was about.

Further, population geneticists are starting to realize that evolution on the molecular level is NOT “entirely stochastic”.  First, we have the obviously adaptive and maladaptive molecular substitutions in coding positions in DNA: both the good ones, like mutations for insecticide resistance in insects, and the deleterious ones, like the molecular mutation in the beta chain of hemoglobin that causes sickle-cell anemia.

Further, recent sequencing work is beginning to show that many substitutions in DNA that were once thought to be “entirely stochastic”—due to the substitution of nucleotides that made no difference in fitness—actually do have effects on fitness, and so are not neutral.  These include many substitutions in the “third” or noncoding positons of DNA. Substitutions there, while they may not affect the sequence of the protein ultimately produced by that stretch of DNA, can have a fitness effect by drawing on pools of “transfer” RNA or nucleotide bases that are more or less abundant.

The “stochasticity” of molecular evolution is an unsettled issue, but it’s already clear that much of DNA evolution does not adhere strictly to Kimura’s neutral theory.  Berlinski belies his ignorance here; he’s obviously not kept in touch with the literature.  Or perhaps he has, but is lying again.

Those are the two main factual claims in Berlinski’s piece (three if you count the “nonexistence” of species), and he’s wrong on both counts. The rest is his usual pompous lucubrations about Gould, theistic evolution, the materialism of science, and so on. And a slur slung our way as well:

That much is at stake explains a good deal about the rhetoric of discussion in the United States, its vile tone. Biologists such as Jerry Coyne, Donald Prothero, Larry Moran or P.Z. Myers are of the opinion that if they cannot win the argument, they had better not lose it, and what better way not to lose an argument than to abuse one’s antagonist? If necessary, the biological establishment has been quite willing to demand of the Federal Courts that they do what it has been unable to do in the court of public opinion.

Sorry, David, but I didn’t abuse my antagonists, but tried to correct them by writing a calm, non-strident book about the evidence for evolution, one that has done pretty well.  Yes, I’ll sometimes abuse morons like you, but only because you know that evidence and yet deliberately lie to the undereducated to keep them in the state of ignorance that religions prefer.

And yes, we do demand that Federal courts enforce the law, because we won’t have religious dogma insinuating itself into our children’s science classes. Or would you prefer to have science determined by the majority whim of the electorate? If so, then be prepared to have homeopathy and spiritual healing taught in medical schools, astrology in psychology classes, and alchemy in chemistry classes.

The reason why the “court of public opinion” doesn’t like evolution has nothing to do with its truth, and everything to do with its supposedly unsavory implications.  It tells us that we’re neither the products of a special design by God, nor imbued by a deity with some celestial purpose and meaning. People don’t like these implications and so they reject the theory. It has nothing to do with them having learned the evidence for evolution and found it insufficient.

I have news for you, David: you’re going to die in a few decades.  You probably don’t like that fact, either (I’m not comfortable with my own mortality, either), but it’s true. Deal with it.

Oh, and you can haz: Berlinski’s own video highlighting how awesome he is on his website. Note the trendy Frenchiness:

188 Comments

  1. Tulse
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    David: you’re going to die in a few decades. You probably don’t like that fact, either (I sure don’t!)

    You want it to happen to him sooner?

    • Posted November 21, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Whoops, an unfortunate choice of language! I’ve corrected it, thx.

    • PB
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Maybe Jerry wants it to happen centuries ahead, instead of decades …

    • PB
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Maybe Jerry wants it to happen centuries in the future, instead of decades …

  2. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    No mention of Berlinski is complete without an appearance of the word supercilious.

    • Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      I just cut off the end and stick with super-silly.

    • Kevin
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Beat me to it.

      I think the word was coined after an encounter with him.

      Unctuous is also a good word.

      Odious.

      • yesmyliege
        Posted November 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        too long. I like: “Putz”

    • PB
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      He is not a theist, but a creationist anti atheist ? Gould wannabe with a twist ?

  3. Posted November 21, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    What was the word Dr. Myers referred to when contemplating the appalling salvo of rhetorical artillery emitting from Mr. Berlinski’s swaggering embouchement?

    Ah yes, supercilious.

  4. Marta
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    “It was Richard Dawkins who had waggled his tempting rear end, and behind Dawkins, fesse à fesse, Charles Darwin.”

    Eh? “Tempting rear end”? I’m too stunned to finish.

    • Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Oh what MUST have been going through his mind! Fesse à fesse indeed! Of course, in this position, how would Darwin be BEHIND Dawkins in such a way for Berlinski to find this “tempting”? Maybe if he wasn’t so hard pressed to insert a French aphorism into his metaphor to give it a certain… je ne sais quoi (literally), then he could have done better with this image.

      Of course, this could have been an intentional and crude slur sloppily masked to maintain his high-brow regard for the subject in question.

      • Llwddythlw
        Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        “A scramble ensued to get the first bite.”

        A scramble? It was more of a Trauermarsch (now there’s erudition). It seems to have taken 5 years for the first bite (or a toothless slobbering, as it turned out).

      • Chris Booth
        Posted November 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        Ooh la-la, Berlinsky did not find Dawkins’ derriere “tempting” with Darwin blocking the view; he finds Dawkins tempting from the perspective of en face de les fesses.

        It is projection of the intellectual trIbaDism practiced, tout en rond, at the “Discovery” Institute.

        • Chris Booth
          Posted November 21, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          Ooops: “des fesses”

        • Torbjorn Larsson, OM
          Posted November 21, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

          For once, I fear to get behind all this.

          • Torbjorn Larsson, OM
            Posted November 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

            Oops, “all of this”. [/goes out to wash eyes after contemplating the ass Berlinski shows to be]

  5. Posted November 21, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Well done, though I have one critique: “makes an ass of himself defending intelligent design” seems a bit redundant. I mean, how can you defend intelligent design, without making an ass of yourself?

    I also don’t get the “eloquent” part. As in, he’s trying really hard to be eloquent by using technical terminology in a metaphor, inserting unnecessary French phrases, and otherwise applying vocabulary with a jack-hammer?

    It all reads like a bunch of self-serving gibberish to me.

    I’d also like a list of all those “serious biologists” that don’t share the “blind watchmaker” position, or by “serious” does he mean “creationist”?

    What a douche.

  6. Llwddythlw
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Given Berlinski’s educational background, it seems more likely than not that he really does understand the underlying science, and therefore I’m not sure why he argues against it in the face of overwhelming evidence.

  7. Dominic
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    “the watchmaker remains blind, but he is now deaf and dumb as well” – he misses the point again. The watchmaker is natural selection, it is blind because it favours only reproductive success in each new generation. It does not plan, it has no care for us or anything because it is a process, so we see nematodes like that in the eye in Matthew’s previous post.
    Why do the Berlinskis of the world hate natural selection?
    Because, a process takes away any control. there is no one at the wheel – we are on the Mary Celeste!

    • Chris the simpleton
      Posted November 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      Speaking as an ignorant ID believer, we don’t hate natural selection at all. We don’t even doubt its existence. We are simply not convinced that it has such creative power as you wise Darwinists attribute to it. My doubts are not based on a religious preference. It seems like it would be very liberating to believe that there is no God, no being who sits in moral judgement over me (who I am sure is quite disappointed), no eternal consequence for shabby behavior. Ah, the sense of relief that would come from knowing that I am all that matters, and that I am free to decide my own morailty, unimpeded by some troublesome God. Yes, Darwinism is by far the preferable option if I could simply choose. Perhaps that explains why you Darwinists are so in love with the theory.

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted November 22, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

        Okay Chris, I now expect you to explain, and with calculations, not “intuition,” why selection would have been ineffective in forming whales from terrestrial artiodactyls in about ten million years. You’ll need some estimates of mutation rate, selection intensity, gene number, generation time,and so on to do this. If you can show definitively that selection for this (or for the reptile/mammal transition, which took much longer) could not work, you’ll be famous.

        You might be aware that one attempt to show that selection could create a camera eye from a pigmented eyespot showed that it was highly effective and highly creative, and remarkably quick.

        I suspect your doubts about selection are not based on scientific considerations, but are being extracted from your nether parts. If you can show us otherwise, do so here. If you can’t, go away and raise your unfounded doubts about the power of selection over at an ID website.

        Remember, I want calculations, not some unfounded “revelation” you have that selection isn’t fast enough or “creative” enough.

        • LukeSkywalker
          Posted November 24, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

          Michael Behe in his book “The Edge Of Evolution” shows the weakness of evolution in creating the diversity and complexity of life we observe. I am not a scientist, I am a truck driver. It is revealing how often I see titles, degrees, and phrases like “the majority of scientist” used to defend evolution instead of arguments from the evidence and logic.

          • whyevolutionistrue
            Posted November 24, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

            Behe’s arguments have been refuted by scientists, but I suppose you haven’t read those. More important, I wrote a book about the evidence for evolution which is the title of this website. I don’t use my degrees or titles to defend evolution; I use the facts.

            Have you read it? If not, do so before you post this nonsense here again.

          • Posted November 24, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

            “I am not a scientist, I am a truck driver. It is revealing how often I see titles, degrees, and phrases like “the majority of scientist” used to defend evolution instead of arguments from the evidence and logic.”

            Actually, what’s truly revealing is that no amount of evidence provided from experts will convince you that you are wrong. From what you have written, it appears that you are not interested in learning, only proselytizing.
            Tell you what…here is an opportunity for you to prove ME wrong. Tell me EXACTLY what evidence would convince you that evolution is the best possible explanation for the variety of life we see on this planet.
            My guess from extensive experience from dealing with the likes of you is that even if such evidence were to be provided, you would dismiss it as being falsified or inconclusive….right? Of course I’m right! Still…humor me. What would convince you?
            P.S. Google “Dunning-Kruger effect”. Of course, the irony of all of this is due to the Dunning-Kruger effect, you will proclaim that this surely does not apply to you.

            • LukeSkywalker
              Posted November 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

              I am guilty as charged I plead incompetence. I do look forward to reading your book. Hopefully it can increase my competence in this most interesting discussion. I confess I do find much of the evidence for evolution unconvincing. I hope there are some new ideas in your book.

              Since your ideas do have “unsavory implications” for our mortality they do elicit powerful emotions on both sides of the issue. If evolution is not true it means there may be a God to which we are accountable. To borrow your phrase, but with my own twist,
              “Scientist don’t like these implications and so they reject the theory”

              Blaise Pascal said “People almost always arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.

              I plead guilty again to finding the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient, personal God very attractive.

              I believe the ID movement provides some attractive arguments for a Designer.

              • Tulse
                Posted November 24, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

                I plead guilty again to finding the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient, personal God very attractive.

                Given the state of the world and the natural and human horrors in it, I’m surprised you find a god that is capable of stopping such things, but who doesn’t, the least bit worthy of worship.

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

                Theer is a moral nullity that pervades every book of the Bible and each example of monotheism. You can not love what you fear, it is simply not possible. It is a completely unreasonable injunction. Orwell knew this, so did Victor Serge. The concept reminds me of the torturer who wants his victim to love him as well as to fear him. Doesn’t the interrogator want his quarry to believe as he does, to do as he does, to repent, to recant his errancy, his sins, to be like him? What is this if not the Gulag, the Inquisition, Guantánamo? This is not a relationship any of us would find desirable, this is not the way to freedom, to happiness, to a life well-lived. I call this toying with the human race like a cat pawing mercilessly and insouciantly at a bewildered mouse. But it is exponentially worse in the case of God because we ascribe intelligence to Him; the cat is merely following its instinct.

                This strange all-powerful One, whom you say you revere, attacks and inhibits our very selves; He will never leave. He tells us what to do, how to behave, what is good, what is bad. And worst of all, He tells us that He is the answer to everything. He is the convenient fiction that the faithful tell us stands in the no-man’s land between ourselves and the next frontier of knowledge. He is always just beyond the border of our understanding of the universe. Now His kingdom will come in this generation; now He is in the clouds; now He is the Infinite; now He created the Big Bang; now He is the God of the Gaps. He is not the answer, He looms in the way of the answer. And those who are fearless enough will find the next answer and you can bet that the monotheists will locate God lurking somewhere beyond that, described in some metaphorical way related to string theory or multiverses or whichever physical theory holds up. God will evolve, just as our knowledge of the cosmos does, but He will not add a jot to that picture we will create. Everything that there is to admire in humanity, the striving for comprehension of the world, the progress of science, the mapping of reality, will owe nothing to God. He is their impediment, not their catalyst.

                What kind of a God is this? A god who made a universe billions of years ago so that we could be His chosen ones. What arrogance is this on the part of the faithful? Why explode a star every second so that we should have `dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth´? What profligacy is this? Why us? Why not Homo habilis, two and a half million years ago? Did you know that we think their brains had an enlarged Broca’s area and Weinecke’s area? They may have had speech and been able to understand it. Why not Homo erectus, who, we think, could control fire? Why didn’t God intervene with them before they died out three hundred thousand years ago? Why not the Neanderthals? Didn’t they look after their old and infirm? Didn’t they honour their dead with grave goods? And what of the captivating Homo floresiensis, whatever he may turn out to be? He went extinct only eighteen thousand years ago, only yesterday. Why was he not worthy of salvation? Why are we better and more worthy of God’s covenant than they? Because we have a soul and our closest primate cousins didn’t? How do you know? How can you in all seriousness assert that? Again, what evidence do you have?

              • LukeSkywalker
                Posted November 24, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

                I cannot seem to find a “reply” link to reply directly to each of the comments made. I will just say I don’t believe in the God that you don’t believe in either. The concept of God as a torturer, or a malevolent cat are not attractive to me at all.
                What if your concept and presuppositions about God are incorrect? What if God is Love? What if God is ultimate truth? What if God is the first cause? Is it possible that these are questions that cannot be answered by science.

                I made a few positive statements about a kind, just, generous, beneficent God. I freely admit these are faith based statements.

                You have made a few negative statements about God. Would you freely admit these are also faith statements.

                The problem of evil is deep, troubling, difficult for any of us to comprehend. The fact that evil exist in the world does not qualify as a proof that God does not exist. It does strain our reason to comprehend how a good God is compatible with evil. Because the answers to these questions may lie beyond our reason show the limits of our reason not the absence of God.

              • Tulse
                Posted November 24, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

                The fact that evil exist in the world does not qualify as a proof that God does not exist.

                It’s very strong evidence that an omnipotent omnibenevolent god exists.

              • Tulse
                Posted November 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

                Of course, that should be “does not exist…

              • LukeSkywalker
                Posted November 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

                What if God is not a blind watch maker or a divine watch maker? What if God is a divine musician and the universe is his instrument? Just as a concert violinist does not just understand the music he plays but feels every note, what if God felt every hurt and every injustice of every person? What if he is just as disappointed with what we have done with his creation as we are? What if God knew who hurt you, was there when you were hurt, but could not comfort in this life but the next? As awful as this life can be for so many, what if in the world to come the scales will be balanced. What if every pain experienced here will be compensated with an even greater pleasure?

                I do not condemn anyone for not believing in a small, mean, little g god. I find it more attractive to believe in a big GOD who is big enough to comprehend the problem of evil and overcome it.

              • Tulse
                Posted November 24, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

                What if he is just as disappointed with what we have done with his creation as we are?

                What we have done? Are we responsible for earthquakes and typhoons? Are we responsible for river blindness and smallpox? Are we responsible for Ebola and flesh-eating disease?

              • Tulse
                Posted November 24, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

                The world in the beginning had no Ebola, no river blindness, no earthquakes, no typhoons, no smallpox. No death.

                OK, so what happened? People can’t make earthquakes and typhoons happen. People didn’t invent Ebola or river blindness or smallpox. If the world in the beginning didn’t have these things, how did they arise if not through the action of your god?

            • LukeSkywalker
              Posted November 24, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

              The world in the beginning had no Ebola, no river blindness, no earthquakes, no typhoons, no smallpox. No death. God pronounced everything not just good, but very good. His creation was perfect and the people he created were designed to live forever.

              We were not made to die, we were made to live.
              We walked away from God. We have been walking away ever since.

              • Mary
                Posted November 25, 2011 at 6:44 am | Permalink

                I suggest you begin reading about plate tectonics, geophysics, and/or about many of the scientific discoveries made in the field of geology. You honestly believe that there were no earthquakes “in the beginning”? Your utterances are are coming across as foolishness …”ignorance is NOT bliss” and the Earth is more than 6000 years old

              • Posted November 25, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

                Seriously? You really buy into that bullshit?

                You honestly believe that a third-rate faery tale about an enchanted garden with talking animals and an angry giant has some sort of bearing on reality? Or that the “ultimate creation” of a “perfect designer” could go from paradise to handbasket in fifty-six verses flat?

                Wait — what am I typing? Of course you believe all that. You’re a Christian — the most gullible mark on the planet.

                Say…I’ve got some prime Arizona beachfront property for sale, really cheap what with the Great Recession and all. You want in on the deal? It’s the opportunity of a lifetime! I guarantee you, you’ll regret it if you don’t take me up on this. Trust me, have a little faith. And if you don’t, then don’t blame me when you miss out on your one-and-only chance at Easy Street.

                All you have to do is give me ten percent of your income for the rest of your life, in weekly installments on Sunday mornings while you listen to some nice organ music and read some bad poetry. What’ve you got to lose? The payoff is heavenly — absolutely unbelievable!

                Cheers,

                b&

            • LukeSkywalker
              Posted November 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

              I have not obtained a copy of “Why Evolution is True” but did read a critique of the book at the Discovery Institute.

              I am not looking for evidence to convince me that evolution is true anymore than you are looking for evidence that Design is true.

              We both have our biases. Would any evidence convince you that Design is true? Of course not, it does not fit your world view any more than evolution fits mine.

              Evidence from geology, astronomy, biology, information theory, plate tectonics . . . Offer challenges to both are world views. There are uncomfortable facts in every area of science for both sides.

              I could site evidence for a young earth, problems with dating techniques, but this is an evolution oriented web site so I will not confine my observations to biology.

              I believe in the intelligence and sincerity of those who hold opposing world views. I am not skilled or qualified to expound scientifically in depth on any of these fields.

              I am aware that my conclusions are biased my preconceptions. Design is attractive to me because it offers external evidence that my belief in God is confirmed by external observations. This is consistent with my reading of the Bible and my a priori commitment to the the God of the book.

              If Design is true in the field of biology it will open new avenues of investigation into all areas of science. Growing evidence is accumulating in those fields everyday. Even the speed of light may no longer be as constant as we once thought. What a great time to be alive.

              • Mary
                Posted November 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

                Please state the “external evidence” that you claim exists

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

                “…my a priori commitment to the the (sic) God of the book.”

                Oh, Luke, Luke, Luke. You’ve now committed yourself to God’s divine command to kill any Amalekite or Canaanite you come across. You now have to defend the rationale for a genocide which never happened; how absurd.

                You add nihilism, moral relativism and contempt for evidence to the semi-literate grammar of your previous post.

                In the words of the great Irish comedian, Dave Allen, “Goodnight, and may your god go with you.”

              • LukeSkywalker
                Posted November 26, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

                Dear Mary

                The external evidence that is emerging is the amazing complexity of the very cells that compose our bodies. There is no compelling mechanism from Darwin’s Theory to account for it.

                Charles Darwin miscomprehended the working of the cell in his day. He did not have the tools we have today. If he had could have seen a bacterium flagellum or the DNA code that reproduces he would never have come up with his theory.

                The fingerprints of design are being found by the microscope and the telescope.

                “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” –Charles Darwin

              • Posted November 26, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

                Dear Luke – I would like to suggest that you move beyond Ham’s Answers in Genesis to Answers in Creation http://www.answersincreation.org/ and beyond the misleading DI information to Talk Origins http://www.talkorigins.org/ and perhaps then on to Panda’s Thumb http://www.pandasthumb.org/

              • LukeSkywalker
                Posted November 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

                Dear Dermot

                I apologize for my poor grammar. I only have a public high school education. I do not apologize for my commitment to the God of the Old Testament. The way God treated the Amalekites and the Canaanites is troubling to me as a believer.

                But I am willing to give God the benefit of the doubt for those things I cannot explain, in the same way you give Charles Darwin the benefit of the doubt for the things you cannot explain.

                Besides, this is not a site to bash or defend my beliefs.

                The question on the table is what is the mechanism proposed by Darwinist to explain the design of molecular machines, the origin of information, and the coding of the first DNA molecule?

                When you are done insulting my intelligence, calling me names, and casting expletives at me, I would like an answer. I really am curious about your position and want to learn.

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 26, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

                This is in reply to Luke Skywalker’s comment of Nov. 26th at 4.17 p.m. The appropriate button is missing.

                Follow the advice of Jerry Coyne and Mary to read the literature critically. Damascene conversions don’t happen. It takes years of study to weigh evidence, and to decide in the knowledge of your own want of expertise, what is the most likely case.

                For what it’s worth, I recommend ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Dawkins, ‘God is not Great’ by Christopher Hitchens, anything by Bart D. Ehrman and ‘Deuteronomy’ (author unknown), amongst others.

                I consider this thread closed.

              • Tulse
                Posted November 26, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

                “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” –Charles Darwin

                …which is exactly what one would want an unbiased, objective scientist to say. Darwin specifies quite clearly how to falsify evolution. What Darwin is saying is just good science, and is completely at odds with your claim that evolution is just an ideological commitment, without any objective standards. Here Darwin very clearly lays out how to undermine evolution — demonstrate that some organ could not possibly have arisen via small modifications. If you could provide such a demonstration, you would indeed falsify evolution.

                By the way, what, precisely, are the falsification criteria for Intelligent Design?

                And I notice that you don’t include the very next sentence in that quote, namely:

                “But I can find out no such case.”

                And indeed, the section of Origin that passage appears in does an excellent job laying out the problems of concluding that an organ could not have evolved from earlier, simpler version, and provides numerous ways in which such organs could arise. I suggest you read the section yourself, even if you refuse to read Jerry’s book.

                You’ll notice when you read this section how much emphasis is placed on the evolution of the eye. At the time the eye was thought to be the knock-down example of design, but even Darwin suggested how it could have evolved gradually, and Jerry just mentioned a recent book, Evolution’s Witness: How Eyes Evolved, that sums up all that we have learned since then. I think it is illustrative that instead of arguing for a supernatural hand in that marvellous organ, the ID movement has been reduced to claiming divine intervention in such things as how some germs move their tails, an example that is hardly inspiring of your god’s great creativity.

        • Chris the simpleton
          Posted November 28, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink

          Sorry for the late reply.

          I am not an biologist, or a mathemetician, so you’ll pardon me if I don’t waste my time trying to disprove evolution (which is probably not possible anyway.)

          What I am, however, is someone with a mind (brain, if you prefer). Which means I can think for myself. I have listened to the arguments on both sides, and decided that the ID position is the stronger. Am I wrong to presume that I, a mere layperson, should be able think for myself after weighing the evidence on both sides, to the extent that I understand it? Or should I simply accept the truth of your so-called science without question, as though you are my priest and I am some poor, illiterate peasant?

          • Chris the simpleton
            Posted November 28, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink

            Reply to Tulse, Posted November 26, 2011

            Micheal Behe and others have convincingly shown that there are many biological mechanisms that are HIGHLY UNLIKLEY to have evolved by several successive slight modifications. Did this deter the Darwinists? Hardly. It seems one can always spin some fanciful tale of how it COULD have happened if you ignore probability. And if the imagination fails, one can always fall back on “well, we just don’t underatnd it YET.” (Evolution of the Gaps?) Asking an IDer to prove that something could not have evolved turns out to be a lot like asking a Darwinist to disprove the existence of God.

            • Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink

              Of course, it was magic or some magical being that does all of this.

              As you say “one can always spin some fanciful tale” and you just did.

            • Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

              Michael Behe?!!! :-)
              Ever hear of that little trial in Dover Pennsylvania back in 2005?

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District

              Behe was a witness for the defense.
              Have you read the transcripts of the trial? I have. Read any books about the trial? I have. Do you have any idea how much Behe had his ass KICKED during that trial? The boy was taken to task for lying…a lot. Even when presented with the evidence for evolution, he summarily dismissed it without giving a reason why. He made an ass of himself and of the creationist/ID movement. If that’s the type of person you are depending on for information, good luck.

            • Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

              Micheal Behe and others have convincingly shown that there are many biological mechanisms that are HIGHLY UNLIKLEY to have evolved by several successive slight modifications.

              <snork />

              So, if something as trivial as a flagellum is so unbelievably complicated that it needed the supreme ultimate superman to design it, then where’s the ultra-mega panultimate supraman who designed the designer? I mean, something that complex can’t simply “just happen,” by chance or otherwise, now, could it?

              Do y’all even pretend to think even one step beyond your inerrant proclamations? I mean, even the average American second grader has superior reasoning skills than what the IDiot movement consistently demonstrates.

              Cheers,

              b&

            • Tulse
              Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

              Micheal Behe and others have convincingly shown

              Convincing to whom? Do his arguments convince anyone who is not already invested in the existence of supernatural beings?

          • Posted November 28, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

            “I have listened to the arguments on both sides, and decided that the ID position is the stronger.”

            Bullshit.
            You didn’t listen to the arguments on both sides. You listened to the “evidence” for both sides AS PRESENTED BY CREATIONISTS.
            But, here’s a chance to prove me wrong. Give me the sources you used to formulate your opinion on evolution and then detail specifically what concepts/principles/evidence you find to be troublesome.

          • Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

            By all means. And trust your own intuition when you go to the doctor next, fly on an airplane or anything else created thru the “so-called science”

            Please leave me your CD collection in your will if you would as well.

          • Tulse
            Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

            Or should I simply accept the truth of your so-called science without question

            …says the person posting on the internet, a world-spanning network of high-tech computers and communications devices, some even connecting to satellites.

            The irony would be overwhelming if it weren’t so common.

            • Chris the simpleton
              Posted November 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

              Tulse,
              You misunderstood what I meant, when I said “your so-called science.” I do not denigrate science. I embrace it. However, what Darwinists falsely claim is proven by science is actually not founded on scientific evidence, so much as a philisophical preference: that of materialism. Anything that does not fit neatly into a materialistic framework is automatically rejected. In other words, you so-called science is more aptly named philosophy. By contrast, I would not say that the fruit of a computer scientist’s labor is based on philosphy.

              I will admit that there is some scientific evidence in favor of Darwinism. However, it is far from proof. If Darwinists were being honest, they would also have to admit that there is substantial evidence in favor of design. Only then, can an honest exchange of ideas occur. But no. There appears to be far more interest on the materialist side of the debate to control the bounds of what is considered debatable, rather than seek the truth or even to pursuade.

              • Posted November 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

                Dear Chris – please remember that science is neither a debate nor an opinion of the majority. It is about making observations and placing all observations into a unifying framework. When evidence is presented that does not conform to the framework, things change. The folks at the DI and at the ICR want to make it a debate, but their strategy has been exposed as more apologetics for creation than science http://www.skepdic.com/intelligentdesign.html Even the folks at BioLogos have no truck with ID.

                Intelligent design will be accepted as mainstream science when scientific evidence for ID is presented rather than by the current hand-waving ‘we cannot explain this’ argument.

              • Posted November 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

                Oops, the silly train has left the station.

                “Ignorance is bliss when it comes to challenging social issues

                The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed” APA Study, this includes evolution as well.

              • LukeSkywalker
                Posted November 29, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

                The eye, and the flagellum are both good examples of specified complexity. Darwin tells a highly imaginative story, stringing together several “intermediate” stages to explain how the process from “simple” light sensitive spots to “complex” eyes may have transpired. All these scenarios are speculation since no was there to observe what actually happened. May have, could have, scenarios are continually being proposed, contested, revised, and discarded by the scientific community as inadequate.

                But instead of arguing about the irreducible complexity of eyes and flagellum, let us go back even further. Origins. Darwin called his book “Origin Of The Species” but we realize now the basis of life is DNA. Natural Selection only works when there is something to select.

                Perhaps the greatest example of intelligent design is DNA. There are no compelling explanations from the field of evolution to explain the origin of information encoded the first DNA molecule.

                Intelligent Design is a better explanation for the origin of information.

              • whyevolutionistrue
                Posted November 29, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

                Skywalker, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Are you telling me that because there’s no plausible scenario for the evolution of eyes, and therefore God did it? But you’re wrong about the “no scenario” business anyway. Do you know of the Nilsson and Pelger paper that shows how an eye could evolve rapidly, and through many of the stages that are known to exist in nature. Go here and read it.

                Your thesis is that if science doesn’t have a completely convincing explanation for a phenomenon now, then God must have done it. Do you know how many phenomena used to be thought so baffling that they must have been due to God, but now we understand how they might have happened. Take a look at the evolution of the mammalian jaw joint.

              • Tulse
                Posted November 30, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

                The eye, and the flagellum are both good examples of specified complexity.

                “Specified” complexity or “irreducible” complexity? The terms seem to slide around a lot. By the way, what precisely is the definition of “specified complexity”, and how does one measure it quantitatively? If you want the notion to be taken seriously, provide us with its formal definition and way that it is quantified.

                And, since you’re an avid reader here, you do know, Luke, that Jerry recently discussed a major book that covers eye evolution, right?

                Darwin tells a highly imaginative story, stringing together several “intermediate” stages to explain how the process from “simple” light sensitive spots to “complex” eyes may have transpired.

                Right, and those explanations have been further researched and expanded on in the past century and a half — see that book I mentioned.

                In any case, I thought that the whole notion of “irreducible” complexity is that there can’t in principle be any “intermediate” steps. That is, it is sufficient to show that there can be intermediates to undermine the notion of something being “irreducibly complex”. (I have no idea if that’s true for “specified” complexity, largely because I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.) So even though Darwin’s original account might be speculative, it is sufficient to have such an account (no matter if it is actually historically true) to contradict the notion that the eye could not have evolved in principle, which is what I take the “irreducible complexity” argument to be. (It is then the job of science to determine what the sequence of intermediate steps actually was.)

                All these scenarios are speculation since no was there to observe what actually happened.

                Seriously, that’s the principle you’re going to stand on? We can’t say anything about events that are not directly observed by people? Did you see your parent conceive you? Then how do you know you’re not actually adopted?

                May have, could have, scenarios are continually being proposed, contested, revised, and discarded by the scientific community as inadequate.

                In your list, you forgot activities like “empirically tested”, “compared against our best understanding”, “discarded if unsupported by the data”. In other words, all the “science-y” bits. I’m sorry if science doesn’t provide the absolute certainty you crave, but that’s your problem, not science’s.

                Perhaps the greatest example of intelligent design is DNA.

                Anyone who had a genetic illness might argue otherwise. And what’s up with all that non-coding DNA, anyway?

                There are no compelling explanations from the field of evolution to explain the origin of information encoded the first DNA molecule.

                So, just to be clear, we’ve shifted from evolution to abiogenesis. That’s fine, since there is a ton of work currently underway looking at that very topic, and the notion of a world initially using RNA to bootstrap to DNA-based life is very convincing.

            • Tulse
              Posted November 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

              You misunderstood what I meant, when I said “your so-called science.” I do not denigrate science. I embrace it.

              No, you don’t. You cherry-pick what aspects of science you like (i.e., which accord with your own non-scientific religious commitments), and toss those which you don’t like (i.e., those which are in conflict with your faith).

              what Darwinists falsely claim is proven by science is actually not founded on scientific evidence, so much as a philisophical preference: that of materialism.

              Nonsense — to paraphrase Laplace, evolutionary biologists don’t believe in design because they have no need of that hypothesis to explain the natural world. Many biologists are religious in some fashion — not all those who accept evolution are atheists (indeed, Francis Collins is routinely given as an example of a believer in both the Christian god and evolution).

              It is you who has the philosophical “preference”. I am willing to consider evidence that your god created the world and all living things — are you genuinely willing to consider the converse.

              If Darwinists were being honest, they would also have to admit that there is substantial evidence in favor of design.

              What substantial evidence? You’ve been reduced to argument from ignorance regarding the tails of bacteria, for Cthulhu’s sake! That’s the best that is on offer from ID proponents, that they can’t figure out how the flagellum developed, therefore god. In no other field that I know if is an argument from ignorance accepted as reasonable — with the exception of theology, of course.

              So here’s where we stand: You can accept modern biology, and all its advances, which rests on a foundation of evolution, and explains vast swathes of why the living world is as it is and was as it was. Or you can remain stubbornly attached to your narrow interpretation of religious ideology, and literally grasp on to ignorance as a fundamental tenet of your biological understand, a tenet which explains nothing and predicts nothing. It’s your choice, and I pity you for the option I’m certain you’ll choose.

              • Chris the simpleton
                Posted November 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

                ID is not an argument from ignorance, nor is it based on a religious preference. Such mischaracterizations show me that you do not understand the arguments for design. Have you ever even tried to understand them, or do you reflexively reject any argument that has distasteful implications?

                Design is the elephant in the room. Evolution is a theory for explaining why the elephant is an illusion. The theory of evolution is inadequate to the task. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the elephant is real. ID is not an argument from ignorance. It is the best explanation that fits the scientific facts.

              • Posted November 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

                No, design is the big pile of poop the elephant of wishful thinking left in the room of our society.

                “Ignorance is bliss when it comes to challenging social issues

                The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed.” APA study. Applies to evolution as well.

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

                OK, Chris, which one of these elephants/gods is the designer?

                The One Who Holds, The Worshipped One, The Lord,
                The Cosmic Serpent Chinaweji and
                Minia, The Lady Of The Grape Vine,
                The Absolute, Ymir, Itzamna, Geb,
                The Father Of Gods El, Brahma, Fu Xi,
                Odin, Heimdall, Mwari, Rangi, Barong,
                The Creator Viracocha, Nű Gua,
                Omam, Mawu-Lisa, Mboom, Atum
                The Androgynous, The Lady Rainbow,
                the sex-god Amon-Ra, Aphrodite,
                Brighid, Nehalennia, Freyja, Ing,
                Freyr, Makosh, The Rozhanitsy, and
                Mot the Sterile, Ahriman too, Bata
                the masochistic eunuch, and Anat
                the transvestite, the god of war Mithras,
                Astarte, Ishtar, Durga, Hachiman,
                Morrighan, Tiwaz, Huitzilopochtli,
                Tu, Ku, Mars, The August Male And Female,
                The Iron Crutch, Queen Mother of the West,
                The Minister Of Thunder, Wen Zhong, Thor,
                Shango, Wakinyan, Perun, Taranis,
                Donar, Lord of the Centre of Heaven,
                Great Lord of the Country, god of wisdom,
                wine-god, goddess of female diseases,
                goddess of dawn, god of rain, The Wise Lord,
                goddess of food, god of sowing, yam-god,
                god of kitchen ranges, the fire god
                Hephaistos, Homusubi, Svorozhich,
                Huehueteotl, The Black Misery,
                The Radiant, The Lord of the Night Sky,
                The Protector of Dead Souls, The Dark One
                Donn, Shoki the Demon-Queller, The
                Trickster Loki, Nanabush, Argula,
                Eshu, Maui, the god of crops Lono,
                Demeter, Rongo, Quetzalcoatl,
                Ah mun, Inari, The Leader of the
                Demon Hordes, Lord of the Smoking Mirror,
                The Ancient Foundation, Instructor Of
                The World, Lord of Duality, sea-god
                Poseidon, Tangaroa, Sedna,
                Ngaan, Njord, storm-gods Baal and Susano;
                did I mention Aesculapius god
                of medicine and Patecatl and
                Dian Cécht, The Lord Of Progeny, The
                Lord Of Heaven, The Shining One, Deva,
                The Messenger Of Heaven, The Horned One,
                The Great Spirit, Lord Of The Underworld,
                The Enlightened One, The Maker Of All,
                The Moon Spirit, Mother Earth, Divine Youth,
                The Jade Emperor, The God Of Darkness,
                The Maintainer, The Destroyer, The Great
                Mother, The Shadowy One, Enlil the
                Flooder, Thoth the Lunar, Taweret the
                Reviver, Pan, Pan Gu, Gu, Zu, Nut, Frigg,
                god of chilbirth, prophecy, hearths, hunting,
                the dead, water, earth, sky, sun, wind, air, love,
                lightning, elements, order, woods, wild plants,
                and witches, Satan, Mephistopheles,
                Beelzebub, the Beast, Yahweh, Allah,
                The Immanent Will, God?

                If you can’t provide scientific evidence, perhaps you would feel more comfortable on your theological home-turf; hence my list, which I hope you find useful as a starter. I have plenty more gods if you wish to discuss those. I think it reasonable to request, however, similarly robust arguments in each individual case for why they are the designer (or not, as the case may be). Rebuttals in every single example, please. Let us approach the question in a disinterested, thoroughly scientific fashion, willing to discard cherished hypotheses, in the search for as secure a statement of fact regarding elephants and Design theory as it is possible to posit.

              • Tulse
                Posted November 28, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

                ID is not an argument from ignorance

                Of course it is — the primary claim is “gee, I personally can’t at all see how that feature might have evolved naturally!”

                nor is it based on a religious preference.

                Baloney. Do you honestly think that the “designer” could be anything other than the Christian god?

                It is the best explanation that fits the scientific facts.

                Don’t be absurd — ID predicts nothing, and explains nothing. It is just magic handwaving. It is not a science — it is not even good theology.

              • Posted November 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

                Oh, what bullshit, Chris, and you know it.

                ID is, simply, “<insert IDiot name here /> cannot understand the evolutionary origins of biological feature x; therefore, deity y poofed said feature into existence using an unexplained mechanism.”

                And I’ll prove it to you. You cannot name even one single biological feature for which there does not exist an amazingly well-evidenced evolutionary explanation of its origins. The bacterial flagellum, the eye, the immune system — all have multiple mutually-consistent lines of evidence tracing their origins.

                You might try to name some other bacterial system, but you should know by now that we’ll just laugh at you for being so IDiotic that you can’t do a simple Google search of “evolutionary origins of ____” and thereby reveal mountains of peer-reviewed papers as well as huge volumes of popular-press works describing exactly how it evolved.

                Go ahead. Prove me worng. What’re you waiting for? You’ll get a Nobel out of it if you succeed, at the very least.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 28, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

                Ben, I’m having to reply to you because I’ve lost the proper reply link to something Tulse said in rebutting Chris Simpleton.

                “Do you honestly think that the “designer” could be anything other than the Christian god?”

                I can think of a designer being someone other that the Christian god.

                It could be the gnostic god Sophia, a sort of demiurge, less powerful than the omnipotent one who designed the universe and everything in it. According to Gnostic theology, declared heretic around the second, third and fourth centuries, the material world thus created was an evil one to be transcended through the spirit, not the body, ascending to heaven. At face value, it chimes rather well with the merciless grandeur of life outlined by Darwin.

                I think this radical and innovative theological thesis should be top of the agenda at the next meeting of ID and the DI. I await the white smoke indicating the outcome of their Synod with complete ambivalence.

              • Chris the simpleton
                Posted November 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

                Reply to Tulse Posted November 28, 2011 at 3:17

                “gee, I personally can’t at all see how that feature might have evolved naturally!”

                This is not the argument, but merely a charicature of the argument. In a nutshell, RM and NS cannot explain how irreducably complex structures arose. If you want to have an intelligent discussion, address that issue rather than constructing straw men. It seems you are the one letting your bias get in the way of an objective evaluation of the facts. You are committed to a natural explanation, so regardless of the facts, the theory of evolution must be true, because it’s the only natural explanation. If the theory is shown to be problematic, it must be because we don’t yet have a full understanding of the purely natural mechanisms at work.

                “Baloney. Do you honestly think that the “designer” could be anything other than the Christian god?”

                ID says nothing about the nature of the Designer. You are confusing ID’s implications, with the merits of ID theory. The fact that you are so concerned with the implications of ID suggests that you dislike ID because of its implications, not because of the evidence for or against. Yes, I believe in the God of the Bible. So what? By the same token, I could say that Dawkins is biased towards Evolution because he is an Athiest. Such an argument would not address the merits of the Theory of Evolution, just as my Christian beliefs are irrelevant to the merits of ID. ID is not based on religion, even though it does have religious implications, just as the Theory of Evolution does.

                By the way, which seems more magical to you: that the appearence of design exhibited by all living creatures is the result of actual design by a powerful creator, or that every living thing arose by random chance? It seems we both believe in magic, but differ as to whether there is a magician.

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

                “ID says nothing about the nature of the Designer.”

                Yes, it does. It says s/he/it is intelligent! Isn’t that what the ‘I’ in ID stands for? Get a grip, Chris. At least stand up for your own corner properly.

              • Posted November 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

                Chris, until you can give an actual example of “irreducible complexity,” you’ll continue to be the laughingstock of the site. What is it that you think is “irreducibly complex”? The eye? The flagellum? The immune system?

                And you profoundly demonstrate your complete and utter ignorance of the Theory of Evolution by Random Mutation and Natural Selection by suggesting that it’s all about “random chance” and nothing else.

                Tell me: have you ever seen a gumball machine? Notice how all the gumballs are all neatly stacked up? No way could that have randomly come about by somebody just dumping a pile of gumballs in there. So, where are these highly skilled gumball stackers responsible for the order we observe in candy?

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Ichthyic
                Posted November 28, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

                “ID says nothing about the nature of the Designer.”

                well, various IDers have tried to say which “designer” is involved, but even then, saying SOMETHING about the nature of the designer is actually required to even formulate an hypothesis to begin with.

                In trying so hard to play football with their concept, IDiots seem to always forget that.

                Of course, this always boils down to the same question asked of any Theist as well:

                Define God.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted November 28, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

                This is not the argument, but merely a charicature of the argument. In a nutshell, RM and NS cannot explain how irreducably complex structures arose.

                right, so Chris sees a caricature of the fact that ID IS an argument from igorance, by definition, and then counters it by restating…

                and argument from ignorance.

                thanks Chris.

                you make our job easy.

              • Chris the Simpleton
                Posted November 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

                Response to Dermot Post on November 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm

                I stand corrected. Of course, I overstated the case when saying that ID says nothing about the designer. My only point was that ID does not depend on any specific religious belief. For all I care, you can say that life as we know it was designed by a highly advanced lifeform that evolved by purely naturalistic forces in some far flung corner of the Universe. God not required! Hallelujia! Whatever else I may believe in addition to ID is irrelevant to ID itself.

                I find it amusing that Darwinists always want to shift the discussion to religion when debating ID. I guess its easier to tease out a person’s religion and then ridicule that rather than address the reasoning behind ID. For the sake of argument, let’s say that I have firm reasons to believe that the designer is “The Queen Mother of the West.” I know this because she appeared to me in a piece of toast. So what? What is your rebuttal? Are you going to try to convince me that the Queen mother of the West is some made-up fairy tale, and that I am fool to believe it? Great. You’ve demolished me. I am crushed. I see now that my devotion to the queen Mother of the West was supreme foolishness. When do we get to discuss ID?

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 29, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

                You just did.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted November 28, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

                I find it amusing that Darwinists always want to shift the discussion to religion when debating ID.

                bullshit.

                what we DO do is correctly ask anyone purporting to support the concept of ID to define the actions of their putative designer in the natural world.

                because otherwise, the entire concept is vacuous.

                and, nearly always, we discover then when pressed, and IDer will of course choose Yahweh as who they think the designer was.

                then, they still have to define how that designer acts in the world.

                they cannot.

                YOU cannot.

                your entire concept dies on the floor, right there.

                run along and play.

  8. Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Teh shtoopud! It burns! Make it stop! Make it stop!

    b&

  9. Steve Smith
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Richard Dawkins who had waggled his tempting rear end

    The Discovery Institute. Now with homoeroticism!

    • Marta
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      I know. If there’s another way to read this*, I’m damned if I know what it is.

      *not that there’s anything wrong with homoeroticism, what the hell’s it got to do with the point Berlinski’s trying to make, assuming there is one?

      • Steve Smith
        Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        Maybe this?

        “You’re the retarded offspring of five monkeys having butt sex with a fish squirrel. Congratulations.”

        Someone else can post the YouTube of Dawkins with Mr. Garrison.

        • Mary
          Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

          LMAO…best description EVER!

  10. NewEnglandBob
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I have news for you, David: you’re going to die in a few decades.  You probably don’t like that fact, either (I sure don’t!), but it’s true.

    Put this version back. I do like that fact. The average IQ will rise. We could declare it a holiday.

    • Peter
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      “The average IQ will rise”:

      With apologies to Torbjorn if he is Swedish, but maybe he’s Norwegian, my good friends near Oslo told me a joke (which could apply to any pair of countries, e.g. Canada and U.S. in place of Norway and Sweden:
      “A Norwegian decided to emigrate to Sweden. All Norwegians were delighted, since it raised the IQ of both countries.”

      I hope it’s not just an old chestnut that everybody here heard long ago, perhaps substituting for the countries!

      • Newish Gnu
        Posted November 22, 2011 at 6:57 am | Permalink

        It is a bit of an old chestnut but good jokes stick around for a reason: they are good.

        The versions with which I am most familiar involve political parties. When a dim-witted Democratic governor of Texas* — John Connolley — switched to the Republican party — a nationally prominent Democrat (Tip O’Neil) said that Connolley had raised the average IQ of both parties.

        * Yes, Texas used to elect Democrats to high office some decades ago — as long as those Democrats were conservative. A lot of those folks switched parties. Rick Perry, for example, used to be a Democrat.

      • Reginald Selkirk
        Posted November 22, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        I hope it’s not just an old chestnut that everybody here heard long ago, perhaps substituting for the countries!

        It is; I have heard it with two of the U.S. states.

        Here’s a slightly different one:
        They are like Swedes and Norwegians – they are so much alike that they can’t stand each other.

  11. ChasCPeterson
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    gah, that video. No doubt he was interviewing hemself, as is his wont.

    It helped to imagine that toad’s eye + worm in Berlinski’s gigantic head.

  12. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    At Recursivity:
    Encomiums for Incompetence: The Case of Phillip Johnson

  13. Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Now a WTF on that video: I Didn’t realize this was the shark-eyed nincompoop from Expelled. “We understand science as little as we understand the cosmos.” Huh? “I understand baking as little as I understand ovens, therefore thermodynamics is an appalling theory that doesn’t fit the evidence of cake, especially the incomplete fecal record for decorative frosting.”

    He must have had this video running through his head while making that statement:

  14. Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    You have to give the evil doers credit — they are good sales people. Watched the video.

    Can anyone imagine our Jerry doing anything so slick and compelling? Of course, not. That’s a shame.

    Truth needs a slick marketing and PR program as well, duh.

    Yeah, how about some autoeroticism on our side as well!!?? Wait, is that love of cars?

  15. benjdm
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Do a search and replace to fix ‘evidnece’ – I’m sure you meant evidence

  16. Aris
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I think it is totally futile to respond to creationists by defending Evolution. They will obviously not be convinced because if they actually understood science they would not be creationists; and for the average person who has a dim understanding of the issues and places more reliance on intuitive thinking instead of evidence, we come across as defensible and even dogmatic.

    Perhaps it would be more effective to keep repeating that even if creationism could somehow be proven to be true, it would still be merely a statement and not a theory since it lacks a mechanism, makes no predictions, etc. Put them on the defensive.
    ____________________________________________

    • Tulse
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      The point is not just (or even primarily) to convince creationists, but also (or instead) to convince the fence-sitters.

      • Sajanas
        Posted November 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        Tulse is right. As long as the IDers are coming up with new objections and arguments, it is reasonable for people to address them, so that anyone listening to a creationist can type “creationist argument X debunked” and find out why they’re wrong.

        I still remember finding Talk Origins and how it did a point by point refutation of every single thing that a creationist teenager I met talked about. I only wish I’d seen it before I met her… I may not change her mind, but I’d certainly ruin her ability to get into other people’s heads.

        • Torbjorn Larsson, OM
          Posted November 21, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

          Best web site ever, at the time. =D

    • Chris the simpleton
      Posted November 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      “If creationism could somehow be proven to be true, it would still be merely a statement and not a theory since it lacks a mechanism, makes no predictions, etc”

      Do I understand you to be saying that if X is proven to be true, and X lacks a mechanism and makes no predictions, then X should rejected? We should prefer a scientific theory over a proven truth?

      I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and let you modify your statement if you would like. As written, it surely isn’t very sensible.

      By the way, labeling ID proponents as “creationists” misrepresents what ID proponents believe. It’s either deceitful or ignorant. Personally, I prefer “IDiots”. At least “IDiots” accurately reflects the level of discourse and engagement to be expected from your average Darwinist.

      • Havok
        Posted December 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        By the way, labeling ID proponents as “creationists” misrepresents what ID proponents believe. It’s either deceitful or ignorant.

        No, it accurately represents the source of ID, as well as the beliefs of the majority of proponents – Behe, Dembski, Meyer et al. all believe the designer is Yahweh|Jesus.

        It’s also interesting that you use the term “believe” – it seems that you recognise that ID has no actual supporting evidence.

  17. Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    One has to appreciate the counterrevolutionary and conspiratorial accusation of biologists being involved in a global Marxist plot.

    Why isn’t this guy working for David Icke?

    • Llwddythlw
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Because he’s Jewish.

  18. Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    After watching his Frenchiness-video, I am at a loss to explain why folks would take this person seriously. Part of the problem rests with us in science and science education, and as sleeprunning notes, we have not engaged the general public with slick and engaging truths. Maybe we need an “I am a scientist” campaign akin to the apparently successful “I am a Mormon” series, some music videos, and a few spokespersons from NASCAR, pro-wrestling and daytime soaps.

    • Tulse
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      I’m at a loss to explain the Frenchiness — surely that can’t be appealing to the God-fearin’, Tea-Party-votin’ constituency of the DI?

      • Llwddythlw
        Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        I think there’s a more mundane explanation. According to Wikipedia, he lives in Paris.

        • Tulse
          Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink

          he lives in Paris

          Is it a French law that all videos of residents must be accompanied by jazz and black-and-white images of Parisian landmarks?

          • Llwddythlw
            Posted November 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

            I’m afraid I’m not an expert on French law, but the jazz and b/w stuff does make for a more “artsy” presentation.

      • Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        Tulse – at first blush, maybe. But have you ever attended a lecture by any of the Discoveroids? I have never seen a bigger pseudo-intellectual than Stephen Meyer, and maybe the Frenchiness is appealing to that crowd.

        • Tulse
          Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

          You may be right — I suppose that the DI is aiming (or at least aimed) less at the vast Fundie base, and more at the crowd impressed with pseudo-academic doublespeak. I guess the DI gives cover to the base, by providing them with their own “intellectuals” who they can point to as competing with “evolutionists”.

    • Posted November 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      That would be awesome, though it would require money which religious organizations seem to have in far more abundance than scientists.

      The Mountain Dew car could slap on a sticker that says “powered by science”, and Dwayne Johnson could get a tattoo that reads “Naturally selected” on his left bicep.

      I love it: Mountain Dew, NASCAR, WWE coming together to form the ultimate redneck outreach program.

      Then we would just need Jeff Foxworthy to start using “If you think the Earth is only 6000 years old, you might be a redneck.” in his routine and we could really sway public opinion :)

      I could just imagine the following Sunday service: “But pastor, it’s NASCAR! Jesus…NASCAR…Jesus…I’M SO CONFUSED!”

      • Observer
        Posted November 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        Actually, I think “powered by science” would be even more appropriate on Dwayne Johnson’s bicep.

  19. dunstar
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    lol.
    Yeah the trendiness is just awesomeness.

    Even with all his loony idea….there’s no way that video was made seriously like that is it?

    lol.

    It has to be some sort of spoof!

    • Dermot C
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      No-one gets it.

      Berlinski is the first great satirist of the 21st century, following in the tradition of the right-wing greats; Swift, Hogarth, Johnson, P.J. O’Rourke.

      Berlinski, a modern dead-pan Buster Keaton, has revolutionised humour, dispensing with jokes, punchlines and even humour itself.

      Truly innovatory.

      • dunstar
        Posted November 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

        lol.

        yes i don’t think anyone gets berlinski’s genius.

        the idea of intelligent design is so absurd that it becomes a joke within itself to take the subject seriously! because it is so blatantly ridiculous.

        so the best way to make fun of intelligent design is to actually engage within the subject as if it WAS a real subject. lol.

        Berlinski is genius!

  20. Llwddythlw
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Seriously, if this is the acme or the zenith of cdesign proponentsism, we can all derive some comfort from that fact.

  21. Posted November 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Which class at Berlinksi U will teach Timecube Theory? Geology? Physics? Astronomy?

  22. ChrisKG
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Hey, a warning on that video would have been nice. Now I have to go wash my eyes out, flush my ears and purge my stomach from the inane pompousness of that ass.

  23. Posted November 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Berlinski’s audience is primarily those who pay his salary. The more strident and ridiculous he is against evolutionists the more he is honored by those living in fear of the consequences of having an educated public. I cannot be sure whether he is lying or he really has convinced himself that he is speaking the truth. Deceiving ourselves is a trick we humans are quite good at. We need to bat these clowns down whenever we can and we can’t ignore them. Keep up the good work on this blog and its comments. Thanks

  24. Posted November 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Yes, we fact tellers are pretty lame when it comes to sales and marketing 101. It’s a bit of a conceit.

    We assume the “food” we produce is so darn nutritious and good for you — it doesn’t need “sexy” packaging.

    Our neurosci friends will tell us we’re being dum. We already got the steak — we need to learn how to make it sizzle. It’s not complicated, by definition.

    There is a chance they have tested these ideas and images and use whatever gets a rise. That’s really all ideology – is just survival of the ideas/words/images that get the most money and attention (fittest silly ideas).

  25. NelsonMuntz
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Berlinski is “agnostic” like S.E. Cupp is atheist.

    • Marella
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      So they can believe whatever they like without being asked to defend it.

  26. MadScientist
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Berlinski. Appears to. Struggle. To write any. Sentences consisting. Of more than. Three words.

    I don’t believe Berlinski is trying to ape S. Gould – oh no, he’s mimicking William Shatner’s stulted speech. Unlike Shatner, Berlinski makes no sense.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Shatner was a Shakesperian. Or maybe Shatnersperian.

      Berlinski is an Overweenian. Or maybe Over-the-top-ian.

  27. Daniel
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    This is unrelated to the blog post itself, but it was something I wanted to bring to Dr. Coyne’s attention.
    It seems your book, Why Evolution is True, has appeared on a site that distributes free e-books (often of copyrighted works). I’m pretty sure that isn’t allowed, so you might want to tell those running the site not to distribute your book. Here’s the site:

    http://library.nu/

    And the page that has your book specifically:

    http://library.nu/docs/N6VGZBS8MC/Why%20Evolution%20Is%20True

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

      Jerry is now aware of this. Let me warn readers that the links are to a site that has been suspected as virus-laden in some internet postings. There’s a whole slew of domains with similar names; the sites portray themselves as being part of some online college, but I’ve been unable to find any independent evidence that it really exists. I’d advise not clicking on the links unless or until you can independently determine the nature of the sites.

      GCM

  28. Torbjorn Larsson, OM
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Berlinski is the proverbial buffoon.

    He, as a once historian of mathematics, famously tried to teach professional mathematicians about the derivation of limits.

    I have also seen him try to paint the inverse problem, to decide the initial conditions from the outcome, as a generic problem that can only be solved by [insert your gods here].

    But the inverse problem is amenable, and is for instance generic for imaging techniques like our vision. Berlinski choose to be blind to that.

    I can’t refrain from quoting my latest find on a theme that lies Coyne near to mind, on the absence of religious substance:

    “Tooth Fairy science” is an expression coined by Harriet Hall, M.D., (aka the SkepDoc) to refer to doing research on a phenomenon before establishing that the phenomenon exists. Tooth Fairy science is part of a larger domain that might be called Fairy Tale science: research that aims to confirm a farfetched story believed by millions of scientifically innocent minds. Fairy Tale science uses research data to explain things that haven’t been proven to have actually happened. Fairy Tale scientists mistakenly think that if they have collected data that is consistent with their hypothesis, then they have collected data that confirms their hypothesis. Tooth Fairy science seeks explanations for things before establishing that those things actually exist. For example:

    You could measure how much money the Tooth Fairy leaves under the pillow, whether she leaves more cash for the first or last tooth, whether the payoff is greater if you leave the tooth in a plastic baggie versus wrapped in Kleenex. You can get all kinds of good data that is reproducible and statistically significant. Yes, you have learned something. But you haven’t learned what you think you’ve learned, because you haven’t bothered to establish whether the Tooth Fairy really exists.*

    [My bold. HT: “Science-Based Medicine”, David Gorski.]

    Berlinski is a teething Fairy-talian.

    • LukeSkywalker
      Posted November 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      You could measure how many fossils the Evolution Fairy leaves under the soil, whether she leaves more fossils before the Cambrian or after, whether the fossils can be arranged in different orders of complexity. You can get all kinds of good data that is reproducible and statistically significant. Yes, you have learned something. But you haven’t learned what you think you’ve learned, because you haven’t bothered to establish whether the Evolution Fairy really exists.*

  29. slpage
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Well, this is, after all, the fellow that ‘calculated’ that there are 50,000+ differences between a whale and camel, so evolution is wrong… ( I know, I know…)…

    • Doc Bill
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      I recall that video, although Berlinski said that he “started a list.” It wasn’t a calculation, and he said he stopped at 50,000. I might have called bullshit on him at 500, but 50,000? No way! Of course he never produced a list because he made up the whole conversation.

      Pretentious liar. Berlinski is what a stupid person thinks Ben Stein is.

  30. Posted November 21, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Berlinski is an opportunist who saw a chance to grab a piece of the pie by carving out a niche for himself as the aloof contrarian.
    I don’t think he believes any of the bullshit he spews, but I’m sure it pays the bills and feeds his ego.
    For some people, that’s all the justification they need.

  31. Tim
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    What a snazzy video! So hip, so with it, so deep, so fearless!

    The guy Berlinski reminds me of is Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley! Can’t we get this clown a barony or something? Do the French have a hankering for a comeback of royalty?

  32. Ken Pidcock
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Since when has an IDer admitted any problem with that theory?

    What theory? Seriously, what has any Intelligent Design proponent ever proposed about sources of genetic variation or differential reproductive success? What have they ever attempted to explain? Nothing. The movement is strictly about constructing arguments to sow doubts about existing theories. There’s a wonderfully awkward moment in that John McWhorter / Michael Behe diavlog where McWhorter expresses enthusiasm over what Behe and his colleagues are going to learn about how life actually evolves, and Behe stammers because he perceives that McWhorter is getting too close to realizing the con.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM
      Posted November 22, 2011 at 6:00 am | Permalink

      What theory? Seriously, what has any Intelligent Design proponent ever proposed about sources of genetic variation or differential reproductive success? What have they ever attempted to explain?

      To be fair they have made one predictive but curious claim, unrelated to ID in any form, that of Behe. He took a prediction out of evolution, interlocking complexity, renamed it “irreducible complexity” and predicted that the very process that creates it can’t create it.

      Since we can observe evolution it is a non-starter obviously. But it is an interesting claim.

      It is like taking the fact that stones falling to the Earth will come at rest on the ground, hence the observation of stones resting on the ground somehow predicts they can’t fall. No mechanism for the “no go” result was ever offered, making it equivalent to a fallacy of wrong direction aka reverse causality.

      Since it also reverses the usual use of prediction to attempt blocking other theory instead of predicting phenomena, seldom has an IDiot attempted to be more anti-science.

    • raven
      Posted November 23, 2011 at 3:23 am | Permalink

      “Since when has an IDer admitted any problem with that theory?”

      Phillip Johnson, the founder of modern Intelligent Design has. Johnson has laid low for a long time now.

      But he did say at one point that there is no scientific theory of ID. He expected scientists to go out and get some data on Intelligent Design. Instead all they did is lie a lot. Which is why they keep losing in court.

      Templeton supported them for a while early on. When it was obvious they weren’t going to do anything but lie a lot, they stopped funding with nothing good to say about the Dishonesty Institute.

  33. Marella
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Berlinski belies his ignorance here

    I think you mean ‘betrays’ not belies.

    Perhaps Berlinski fears that the peasants will revolt without the balm of religion to soothe them, especially with the way we’ve been screwed over recently.

  34. Kieran
    Posted November 22, 2011 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    What is the ID/creationist argument for atavisms? Also whenever you write ID it’s good practice to add /creationist or if it’s creationist /ID.
    I got this idea from the ulster unionists and the DUP in northern Ireland when calling Sinn Fein, Sinn fein/IRA. Annoyed the hell out of Sinn Fein.

    • TJR
      Posted November 22, 2011 at 3:47 am | Permalink

      Technically its Sinn Fein/Provisional IRA or
      SF/PIRA, as there are lots of different IRAs.

    • Posted November 22, 2011 at 4:51 am | Permalink

      I like to use the terminology put forth by the Sensuous Curmudgeon: “the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).” Or IDiots for shorthand.

  35. raven
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    I’ve always thought Berlinkski was in it for the money.

    He makes his living pretending to be a writer and intellectual. He is an average writer and pseudo-intellectual at best.

    The DI pays well for little work. And it is expected that one makes stuff up and lies a lot. That isn’t hard.

  36. Dermot C
    Posted November 25, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Luke Skywalker: ‘It is revealing how often I see titles, degrees, and phrases like “the majority of scientist” used to defend evolution instead of arguments from the evidence and logic.’

    In that case, use evidence and logic yourself.

    ‘If evolution is not true it means there may be a God to which we are accountable.’

    Incorrect; 3 “if” statements in a sentence of 17 words; too much of a logical stretch. Not even a good haiku.

    ‘I plead guilty again to finding the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient, personal God very attractive.’

    Evidence for 1 thing; His existence. Logic of 3 things; His characteristics?

    ‘I believe the ID movement provides some attractive arguments for a Designer.’

    Evidence and logic of the arguments?

    ‘What if God is Love?’

    Evidence for Love “designing the universe”?

    ‘What if God is ultimate truth? What if God is the first cause?
    What if God is a divine musician and the universe is his instrument?
    What (sic) if God felt every hurt and every injustice of every person?’

    Sounds great, proto-poetic, but it’s bovine waste. Anyone can pastiche Ecclesiastes; Dickens did, and did it better.

    ‘I find it more attractive to believe in a big GOD who is big enough to comprehend the problem of evil and overcome it.’

    Evidence and logic fall; what matters is what it is “more attractive to believe”. A capitalised GOD is no different to a lower-case god. You are not being serious, put away these childish things. Don’t throw random definitions of God like handsful of mud at a wall; it won’t stick.

    If you believe in evidence and logic, either read extensively, as others have advised, or go outside your comfort zone and become familiar with that with which you think you will disagree. You have 3 score years and ten; why wouldn’t you want to experience as much as you can?

    • Chris the Simpleton
      Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      “go outside your comfort zone and become familiar with that with which you think you will disagree.”

      Good advice.

      • Dermot C
        Posted November 29, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        Which is why I have several times read the Bible, trawled through the Koran and waded through the interminable Mein Kampf. Have read, amongst others, theological tracts on Sikhism, the Analects of Confucius and studied, however inadequately, mythologies from around the world.

        Having mentioned the two worst books on the planet, I feel obliged to mention having read the pointlessly long and repetitive “Pamela” by Samuel Richardson, another morally repulsive Protestant tract and a candidate for one of my top five worst pieces of literature of all time. I think I’ve paid my dues and deserve to have my virtue rewarded as the religiose SR would preach.

        • Dermot C
          Posted November 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

          I omitted ‘The Divine Comedy’ (over-rated theologically; not having any 14th century Italian, I can’t comment on the quality of the language), ‘Paradise Lost’ by Milton (supremely good), ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ by Buchan (for 150 years, no less, the top-selling book in England – disappointing, rather clunky metaphors); Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ (astonishingly modern and morally challenging).

          In fact, most of what I read I find something to disagree with; isn’t that a joy? And as long the persons, influenced by a book with which I disagree, try neither to harm my children nor to rule the public sphere, I am happy for them to think their private thoughts as they choose.

          • Dermot C
            Posted November 30, 2011 at 6:01 am | Permalink

            …Bunyan… Doh!

            • Chris the simpleton
              Posted November 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

              Since the subject is ID, I would have expected you to say you’ve read Philip Johnson, Micheal Behe, and/or Stephen Meyers. Instead, it’s the Bible, the Koran, The Divine Comedy, Pilgrim’s Progress. Did you think we were talking about religion?

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

                “go outside your comfort zone and become familiar with that with which you think you will disagree.”

                I took your approbation of my comment above to imply that I should do the same; I therefore felt that I owed it to you to demonstrate that I have done so. Yours was a reasonable point, attempting to tease out any possible double standards in me, which I hope I answered.

                I am no expert in science but I do understand that scientists have to be ruthlessly self-critical in ascertaining what is; I won’t lecture you about peer review. I am however thoroughly admiring of the advances made by scientists who have given us medical science, an explanation of the first few moments after the Big Bang, I could go on.

                Yes, I admire persons who have a Ph. D in science, because it is a signal of their dedication in the pursuit of truth. And I trust, yes trust, those thousands of peer-reviewed academic papers which confirm the theory of evolution by natural selection. I, rather reasonably I think, do not consider that it is a gigantic world-wide materialist conspiracy or delusion.

                None of your arguments constitute evidence for an Intelligent Designer (which, if you think about it, is all but a tautology). You have posted many comments on the site reiterating the same point in many cases. It makes me wonder why you are doing it, although of course you have the right to do it.

                I don’t know you, so it is difficult to determine your motivation. You may really want to convince others on the site of the truth of ID; but really, if you take the converse scenario, would I bother to go on, say, William Lane Craig’s site to convince his bloggers of the need for anti-theism? No, it’s a waste of my time. Or might it mean that I was sub-consciously wishing to be converted? Not in my case, no. It could be the case with you; but I simply don’t know and would not accuse you of that.

                Finally, though, I do honestly think it just plain inappropriate of you to denigrate the toils of so many seekers after the truth, all of whom have added more knowledge to the world than either you or I could manage till hell freezeth over.

                Regards.

  37. Jim Mauch
    Posted November 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Both Berlinski and William Lane Craig are unique. To those of us who are untrained in science, theology and philosophy their arguments completely confuse us yet they seem so incredibly smart. How can we not trust that what they say it true.

    • Posted November 26, 2011 at 4:52 am | Permalink

      Jim M – +1 Perhaps these two will become favorites of Ken Ham and the ICR.

  38. Posted November 26, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    What’s with the ‘awaiting moderation’ bs?

  39. Chris the Simpleton
    Posted November 28, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    reply to ichthyic:

    So if I understand you correctly, ID is wrong because it doesn’t explain everything about the designer, and how he/she/it interacts with the Universe. This is flawed reasoning. ID simply suggests that life was designed by an intelligent designer. It says this and nothing more, because this is all that can be gleaned from the scientific evidence. To suggest that ID is wrong because I can’t provide a complete description of the designer is just plain stupid.

    Cosmologists do not know what caused the big bang. Does this mean it didn’t happen? Wouldn’t even a darwinist have to admit an incomplete understanding of how life evolved? And yet we don’t reject the theory on that basis.

    • Chris the Simpleton
      Posted November 28, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      Furthermore, Ichthyic, I don’t think you understand the concept of an argument from ignorance. Let me dumb it down for you with an analogy. A 20 foot bridge cannot be used to cross a 50 foot river. Does that make sense? Or did you hear me to say that “Gee, I don’t underatsnd how a 20 foot bridge could span a fifty foot river, duhhh. I am ignorant of how this could occur!”

      It is clear to me that none of you understand the fundamental root of your own beliefs. You are too seeped in your own philisophical predispostions to even appreciate what those philisophical predispositions are.

      You may not find ID theory to be useful, but usefulness and truth are two different things. Darwinism is a theory that has run its course and hit a brick wall. But the flock doesn’t realize it. No matter. Science advances one funeral at a time.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think you understand the concept of an argument from ignorance.

        strangely, unlike yourself, who in addition to everything else, apparently are ignorant of what an argument from ignorance IS, I actually rely on the definition of it.

        you assume ID has a case because it can’t be proven false.

        you think design is obvious, but all you are doing is projecting.

        ID IS an argument from ignorance.

      • PB
        Posted December 8, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

        I am surprised that somebody is willing to write something like this publicly.

        It proves that ID is NOT science.

        Of course you personally have the right to believe in magic stones, or airy-devas, or designer-gods.
        Those are fictions, or entertainment (if made artiscally enough), but NOT science.

        I think IDers are similar to scientologists (or other loons), it is okay for YOU personally to believe these .. just makes you a loonie, but of course it is okay to be a looney ..

        what make me cringe is the public declaration.

    • Tulse
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      ID simply suggests that life was designed by an intelligent designer. It says this and nothing more

      Exactly — and nothing more. It does not explain biogeography, or species radiation, or the fossil record, or the development of antibiotic resistance, or patterns of similarity in development across various species, or molecular similarities in related organisms, or genetic plasticity, or the apparent historical nature of “design” (including well-known “unintelligent” arrangements). ID makes no predictions, and offers no explanations. Unlike evolution, which ties all of biology together, and which is the theoretical underpinning of such diverse fields as modern agriculture and disease prevention.

      (Seriously, give me just one prediction that ID makes. Just one.)

      So sure, wallow in your ignorance. Treat biology differently from every other aspect of your life, where, when something happens, you don’t just throw up your hands and say “I don’t understand it, so it must be a miracle!” (However, if you do behave that way in everyday life, you must be the perfect audience member for magic shows.)

      Meanwhile, biologists will continue to make sense of this wonderful world with its endless forms most beautiful, all developed from so simple a beginning.

  40. Ichthyic
    Posted November 28, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    So if I understand you correctly, ID is wrong because it doesn’t explain everything about the designer

    no.

    ID is “not EVEN wrong”, because it doesn’t explain ANYTHING about ANY designer.

    Cosmologists do not know what caused the big bang. Does this mean it didn’t happen?

    this is both false, and a false analogy.

    we actually do have evidence in support of a hypothesis for a big bang, which, of course, is why it is taught.

    your ignorance of what that evidence is, notwithstanding.

    here’s a better analogy to ID:

    Archeology.

    How do we know an artifact was created naturally, or by humans?

    When you can answer that, you can at least start to understand why ID can’t even rise to the level of being a testable hypothesis.

    • Chris the Simpleton
      Posted November 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

      Hmm. Archeology. If an artifact suggests evidence of design, then we would suppose it was created by a person (intelligence), no? Last time I checked, clay pots don’t simply materialize by random forces. But the infinitely more complex machinery of life does, according to you. Did I get the answer right, quizmaster?

      • Ichthyic
        Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

        If an artifact suggests evidence of design,

        and how do you determine whether there is actual evidence of human design?

        there’s a hint in there even you can’t miss.

        Last time I checked, clay pots don’t simply materialize by random forces.

        how do you know a clay pot is of human construction, and not from a natural process?

    • Chris the Simpleton
      Posted November 28, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      The big bang theory is taught for one simple reason: the universe is expanding. The conclusion of a beginning is therefore inescapable. While there may be competing hypotheses for why the big band occured, that is secondary to the fact that it did occur. And no serious scientist would claim to know for sure why it occured. The why is a secondary consideration after the acceptance of its truth. Just as the nature of the designer is a secondary consideration after the acceptance that thers IS a designer.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

        The big bang theory is taught for one simple reason: the universe is expanding.

        *buzz*

        wrong.

        • Chris the Simpleton
          Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

          Enlighten me.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

            why bother, really?

            hell, even the wiki has more information than you guessed at.

            you’re too lazy, too ignorant, and too willfully stupid to bother with any more.

            you don’t want to learn, but just in case there happens to be someone who does, and really wants to know what the evidence for the big bang theory is, and why we teach it AS a theory:

            http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/astronomy/bigbang.html

            Chris, you really have given yourself an appropriate nym.

            you are, indeed, a simpleton.

            but what’s far worse, you’re a willful simpleton.

            • Chris the Simpleton
              Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

              Prior to the discovery that the universe was expanding, many scientists believed that the Universe existed in more-or-less its presents state. With the discovery of an expanding universe, it became apparent that at some time in the distant past, the entire universe existed in an incredibly dense, infinitesimally small point. Without an expanding universe, there would be no reason to believe in a big bang. The expanding universe is the fundamental proof of the big bang. The proof of the big bang (the expanding universe) preceded all theories to explain or describe it. What have I said that is incorrect?

              • Ichthyic
                Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

                Without an expanding universe, there would be no reason to believe in a big bang.

                no.

                whether the universe is expanding, currently, or not has nothing to do with the big bang.

                In fact, what you presume as universal expansion being the reason, in fact is only the noted red shift AWAY FROM US (if you were even guessing that; I might be expecting too much of you even there).

                in fact, the universe could still have had a big bang as part of it, and have been contracting, not expanding, overall.

                what’s more, both the steady state model and the big bang proposed expanding universes, where they differed was in how and when new material appeared.

                but then, you’re knowledge of astronomy, physics, and biology all appear equivalently lacking, so again, I simply can’t see any more reason to bother with you.

                you have elementary lessons in many fields of study still unlearned.

                I’d suggest you actually read some basic textbooks on these subjects, but that too is likely a waste of time, given it’s obvious you are not just ignorant, but willfully so.

              • Dermot C
                Posted November 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

                Er, most of it actually. I just printshot all your posts in an attempt to list your incorrect statements, but I had to give up. Too much work, life is too short and I interrupted my labours due to there being an embarrassment of riches.

                Speaking of embarrassment, I really think, Chris, that should be your primary emotion.

                See Mary’s post for a sane and succinct summary of how you come over.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

        The conclusion of a beginning is therefore inescapable.

        strangely, we don’t even teach the big bang AS “the” beginning.

        in fact, we’re busily trying to figure out what the state of things was before it happened.

        what you propose as “the moment of creation” is no more a moment of creation than the words I’m typing on this screen, right now, are.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

          “…no more a the moment…”

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        Chris, we may never know “for sure” however one thing is for sure, it was not a giant human being in the sky. Either big bang is flawed and it needs to be adjusted, or it is more off by a matter of degrees and a new *scientific* explaination will come along. Theories are the current best explaination we have for things. New technologies allow us to adjust our findings. But until you show me evidence of ID, it is a fairy tale.

        • Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

          Indeed, any alternate theory must account for the cosmic microwave background and Hubble’s law, along with the distributions of main sequence stars and the relative proportion of uranium to lead in natural deposits. The Inflation theory predicts all that to astonishing numbers of decimal points, and so any alternate theory also must account for inflation.

          No matter how you slice it, a Big Bang type of event happened just over a dozen billion years ago, and we can be every bit as confident about what happened from a fraction of a second after that event to the present day as we can about what will happen if you were to drop a rubber ball. The physics is that well understood, even if you you personally don’t understand it.

          Now what happened in that first fraction of a second, whether or not it makes sense to talk of a “before” that first fraction of a second, and, if it does make sense, what that before was like…those are all still open questions. But it no more makes sense to suggest that Jesus had something to do with it than to suggest that balls bounce out of fear from Cthulu’s wrath.

          Cheers,

          b&

  41. Mary
    Posted November 29, 2011 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Well said Ichthyic. Chris the Simpleton needs to be ignored. He’s creating nothing but circular arguments. I sense we’ve been observing “Adult Oppositional Defiant Disorder”.

    • Chris the simpleton
      Posted November 30, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      I gave up trying to engage in an intelligent discussion. I guess I may as well resort to name calling, insults, and ad hominem, since that appears to be the only langauage spoken here.

      So whay do you Darwinists cling so bitterly to your materialist world view, and block from your mind the evidence in favor of design. I think at heart, it has to do with insecurity. You have a strong desire to be thought of being smart, but in your heart you know that your intellectual abilities are lacking. You are smart in the sense that you are good at memorizing things, but you lack imagination. This lack of imagination renders you unable to understand, at any deep or meaningful level, the things you purport to know. But your memoriazation skills carry you far. You read voraciously, get PHDs, study all of the leading theories. However, lacking the ability to critically anaylze, you simply absorb like a sponge. If competeing theories exists, you flee to the safety of numbers. Not wanting to be thought unintelligent, you accept the “respected” view without question. If you hear an argument that begins to pursuade you of the folly of your chosen theories, you feel in danger of falling out of the respected class and falling in with those who have been labeled as stupid or ignorant or worse. (What would people think?) So rather than address the arguments of the other side, you merely repeat the scorn and ridicule that you have heard others use. You are safe. You are in the smart group. No serious thinking required.

      Adios. It’s been fun. I hope that some day you will open your minds to all of reality.

      • Posted November 30, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Good move.
        Declare victory and scurry off.
        Adios.

      • Posted November 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Dear Chris – I don’t consider myself a “Darwinist” [although I am not sure what that means] and would not say that I cling to a materialist world view. But alas, I do have a PhD and teach things like immunology, development biology and pathology, and find that these subjects all comport with the notion of common descent, gradual change and adaptation. I will admit that it is difficult to completely understand how something like a glomerulus came about, but it is also difficult to comprehend hundreds of millions of years. Science is open to data that would indicate intelligent design, but there are no such data. The only thing that ID has contributed thus far is ‘x’ cannot currently be explained, and thus oogity boogity. You should probably wander over to BioLogos to see what some folks of faith have to say about ID.

        • Chris the simpleton
          Posted November 30, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          Douglas,
          There is evidence of design. The existence of the complex machinery of life is evidence of design. (I say evidence, not proof.) Even the hardcore Darwinist has to admit that life gives the appearence of design. The inquiry doesn’t stop there. The next question is “is the appearence of design the result of actual design or is it a mere illusion?” The Darwinsists say that design is a mere illusion expalined by NS and RM. But if you point to any flaws in the theory, this is simply attribited to insuffienct knowldege, not any real flaw with the theory. You have, a priori, ruled out ID as an unacceptable answer. (Can you imagine any scientific evidence that would suggest design?) No matter what hurdle Darwisim encounters, the Darwinist comforts himself that the answer lies in the imponderable expanse of time. By closing your mind to all of the possibilites (intelligent agency), Darwin is all that’s left. Thus, there can be no problem with the theory, its just that we don’t know enough yet. There are no flaws, only ignorance. That is why ID seems like an argment from ignorance to you. However, the flaws with Darwinian theory are not mere ignorance, which is convenietly being filled with God. The flaws of Darwinian theory are real problems in a theory that has attempted to explain away what has generally been apparent to most people throughout most of time: Nature appears designed.

          • Tulse
            Posted November 30, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

            Can you imagine any scientific evidence that would suggest design?)

            – The sudden appearance in the fossil record of every existing life form, without any prior fossils.

            – A lack of correspondence of the genetics of seemingly related organisms.

            – Radically different chemical bases of inheritance in different organisms (why would a Designer just use DNA? Why not different systems for different critters?).

            – A lack of obviously unintelligent design (such as appendixes…)

            – “I made this. Signed, God (the Christian One)” embedded in every strand of DNA in every organism.

          • Posted November 30, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

            ‘Nature appears designed’- not much argument there, but it certainly does not follow that complexity provides evidence for design. Many folks more eloquent than I have demonstrated the flaws in such logic. The existence of the complex structure of snowflakes is not evidence of design. And why would a designer of complex systems often design less complex prototypes, exmples of which we can still see today such as the embryological development of three kidney system, one of which is non-functional and goes away, a second that changes courses to become gonads and a third that ultimately become kidneys? It doesn’t seem like good design for the human embryo to develop as if it is sitting on top of yolk just like an avian egg. And the list of examples goes on and on. Sloppy design or common descent? If I was going to design something, it would be people with chloroplasts.

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        Chris, I am fascinated. Please enlighten me: to what evidence for intelligent design do you refer?

    • Ichthyic
      Posted November 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      I gave up trying to engage in an intelligent discussion.

      liar.

      …and what’s more, the reason the REST of us gave up on YOU, is because you have nothing to offer on the intelligent discussion front, though you do keep pluggin’ away, which only makes it clear you suffer from Dunning Kruger syndrome.

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted November 30, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        I asked once before for you to tone down the accusations and language that you apply to other commenters. This is my last warning.

  42. Jim Mauch
    Posted November 29, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Is Berlinkski in the enviable position of presenting his facts while standing for nothing? More specifically not facts but denials. He has no belief and he has no theory. Unfortunately he is a preacher who has no church. I guess for now he will have to accept the naysayers as his adoring flock.  In the words of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, a place where “the deaf don’t hear, the blind don’t see, the lame don’t walk, the dumb don’t talk, and the dead stay that way.”

  43. PB
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Again, I am surprised by the public tenacity of the writer chris and the trucker (both have very similar writing style, must be under same teacher).

    Most people in the world have faith on something, be it gods, devas, jinns, ufos or something else. Most of them also very tightly guarding their belief.

    In private. Or in circle of same faith.
    Only those that are very optimistic will try to convince outsiders publicly.
    well …

  44. Posted December 15, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I am so tired of evolution being referred to as an opinion or belief. It’s like saying that I “believe” in red blood cells. Well, no one gives a rat’s behind what I believe. Either red blood cells exist or they don’t.

  45. Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    The LAST things these folks want to talk about is biology, data, facts or research.

    Personal insults and meta issues are the tactics.

    Endless silliness.

  46. Posted December 22, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Have you seen this comment by the Rabbi, incidentally?

    “chuck

    Shortly another article will be coming our where I extend my hand in peace to Dr. Coyne. As usual, interested to hear your reaction”

    I can only imagine the phony, contrarian stance he will take on that one.

  47. Brandon Macey
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Lol my my you guys are such smarty pants aren’t you?? Berlinski has more reasoning power in his left testicle than you..

  48. Posted November 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on A Mind Lost.

  49. Christopher
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I think the comments here are, by-and-large, very thoughtful and erudite – even – I would say especially – from LukeSkywalker the truck driver who I would really like to encourage for his honesty. I read David Berlinski’s book and I thought it was very interesting and he had some very good points but was really spoiled by too much smart-ass type stuff, and disappointing too, – here put to rights in the comment that said he had “missed the point” of the blind watchmaker. His comment about blind and deaf is pure nonsense, and he is intelligent enough to know it is too, just as the commenter said.


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