Creationist paper in a medical journal

Well, there’s one doctor in the world who thinks he knows a lot about evolution, and that he knows more than evolutionary biologists. In fact, he knows that evolution is rife with problems, is pretty much defunct, and that a new paradigm is in order.  What is that paradigm? Intelligent design, of course.

The doctor is Joseph Kuhn, a surgeon at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, and he’s just published an article in the Proceedings of that center, which I presume is a respectable, peer-reviewed journal.  Well, it isn’t respectable any more, for Kuhn’s article, “Dissecting Darwinism” (free at the link), is merely a cobbled-together list of canards from the Discovery Institute (DI).  It’s poorly written, dreadful, full of scientific errors, and the journal should not only be ashamed of it, but retract it.

What does the good Dr. Kuhn have to say about evolution? First he parades his qualifications to dissect Darwinism, which consist entirely of being in the lineage of one of his predecessors, the eighteenth-century surgeon John Hunter, who supposedly anticipated Darwin’s theories:

John Hunter was also a brilliant biologist and naturalist, having dissected and stored thousands of animals and plants. His considerable samples represented the entire initial display of the Royal College of Surgeons Museum. In two lengthy volumes, entitled Essays and Observations on Natural History, Anatomy, Physiology, Psychology, and Geology, he identified the remarkable similarity of muscles and organs between various species. John Hunter proposed a gradual formation of species through mutation 70 years before Charles Darwin published his observations in On the Origin of the Species. Therefore, history reveals that surgeons are uniquely capable of gathering information, making observations, and reaching conclusions about scientific discoveries.

That’s a dumb argument if I ever heard one. And, sure enough, Kuhn proceeds to embarrass both himself and the journal.

He makes three criticisms, all taken from the Discovery Institute playbook:

1.  Life is too complex to have originated naturally.  Here we see the usual arguments: life requires both proteins and DNA, and neither could have originated without the other.  The co-evolutionary scenario, and involvement of RNA in this, isn’t mentioned. And he makes the usual bogus statistical arguments for why a “specified” DNA was unlikely:

Even if there was a self-organizing pattern, the probability of even a short strand of nucleotides occurring in a precisely specifi ed linear pattern that would code for even the smallest single-celled organism with approximately 250 genes has been calculated to be 1 in10150—1 in 1070 less than the chance of finding a particular electron in the entire universe (25).

Reference 25 is to a paper by Bill Dembski. Indeed, throughout his paper Kuhn quotes DI “experts” like Dembski, Jon Wells, and David Berlinski.   His conclusion about the origin of life is absurdly funny:

Based on an awareness of the inexplicable coded information in DNA, the inconceivable self-formation of DNA, and the inability to account for the billions of specifically organized nucleotides in every single cell, it is reasonable to conclude that there are severe weaknesses in the theory of gradual improvement through natural selection (Darwinism) to explain the chemical origin of life. Furthermore, Darwinian evolution and natural selection could not have been causes of the origin of life, because they require replication to operate, and there was no replication prior to the origin of life.

He doesn’t seem to realize that one could consider replication as an essential property of life, and that the ability of replicate would have been strongly selected for among early proto-life forms.  The last sentence above is simply gibberish.

2.  Cellular systems are irreducibly complex, and could not have evolved.  Kuhn tries to dazzle the reader with examples of complexity, but shows no awareness of what “irreducible complexity” really is: complexity whose intermediate steps could not have been adaptive during evolution.  And, of course, though he quotes Behe and Wells at length, he doesn’t give any examples.  It’s simply the argument from ignorance.

Although Nilsson and Pelger, for example, showed in a cool computer model that a complex camera eye could easily evolve, and in relatively few generations, from a simple light-sensitive pigmented eyespot, Kuhn dismisses that because one also requires the evolution of a complex brain apparatus and light-sensitive pigments to interpret the images.  Ergo Jesus:

Thus, each of these enzymes and proteins must exist for the system to work properly. Many other mathematical and logistical weaknesses to the Nilsson example of eye evolution have been uncovered (28). In summary, the eye is incredibly complex. Since it is unreasonable to expect self-formation of the enzymes in perfect proportion simultaneously, eye function represents a system that could not have arisen by gradual mutations.

Reference 28 is to a DI commentary by David Berlinski.

3.  We don’t have any transitional fossils. This claim is even more extreme than those made by the Discovery Institute.  Kuhn dismisses (or rather, ignores) the transitional fossils between early hominins and modern humans, and simply asserts that the genetic differences between modern apes and modern humans preclude the existence of a common ancestor:

The ape to human species change would require an incredibly rapid rate of mutation leading to formation of new DNA, thousands of new proteins, and untold cellular, neural, digestive, and immune-related changes in DNA, which would code for the thousands of new functioning proteins.This rate of mutation has never been observed in any viral, bacterial, or other organism. The estimation for DNA random mutations that would lead to intelligence in humans is beyond calculation. Therefore, the recently discovered molecular differences between apes and humans make the prospect of simple random mutation leading to a new species of Homo sapiens largely improbable (35).

Lots of those human-ape differences involve transposons or neutral changes in “junk DNA,” whose accumulation is unproblematic. Before one can assert that human evolution is impossible, one has to have some idea of the number of relevant genetic changes separating us from our relatives (changes important in our physiological, cognitive, and phenotypic differences), and then show that such changes could not have occurred given estimates of mutation rates and time.  Kuhn does not do this, but merely asserts that it couldn’t have happened. He has no idea how many selected changes separate us from our relatives.

As for other transitions, he dismisses the “fishapod” Tiktaalik roseae as “based on a recovered bone fragment representing the wrist structure that would be necessary for moving on land,” quoting—get this—Casey Luskin as an authority.  If you know anything, you know that Tiktaalkik was represented by far more than a wrist bone: there was a head, for example, and a shoulder girdle, all of which looked transitional between fish and amphibians.  And though Kuhn makes statements like this:

However, the modern evolution data do not convincingly support a transition from a fish to an amphibian, which would require a massive amount of new enzymes, protein systems, organ systems, chromosomes, and formation of new strands of specifically coding DNA. Even with thousands of billions of generations, experience shows that new complex biological features that require multiple mutations to confer a benefit do not arise by natural selection and random mutation. New genes are difficult to evolve. The bacteria do not form into other species. A reliance on gross morphologic appearances, as with fossils, drawings, and bone reconstructions, is severely inadequate compared to an understanding of the complexity of the DNA and coding that would have been required to mutate from a fish to an amphibian or from a primitive primate to a human.,

he fails to realize that this is all moot because we know it happened: we have the fossils! We have transitional forms between fish and amphibians, amphibians and reptiles, reptiles and mammals as well as between reptiles and birds, and of course all those fossils in the hominin lineages. Kuhn mentions none of these. The man, educated surgeon though he may be, is completely ignorant about evolution. He’s simply a mouthpiece for the Discovery Institute.

At the end, Kuhn claims that all these weaknesses of neo-Darwinism require a new paradigm to explain the origin and evolution of life:

Irreducibly complex systems involving thousands of interrelated specifically coded enzymes do exist in every organ of the human body. At an absolute minimum, the inconceivable self-formation of DNA and the inability to explain the incredible information contained in DNA represent fatal defects in the concept of mutation and natural selection to account for the origin of life and the origin of DNA. As new theories emerge that explain the origin of life, the inevitable emotional accusations of heresy and ignorance are not surprising in a period of scientific revolution. It is therefore time to sharpen the minds of students, biologists, and physicians for the possibility of a new paradigm.

Although he doesn’t specify what this new paradigm is, I suspect it involves an Intelligent Designer, aka Jesus.

This paper is rife with mistakes, misguided appropriations from the creationist literature, and simple ignorance of the evidence for evolution.  It’s an embarrassment to the author, to the journal, and to the field of medicine as a whole.  I call on the journal to retract this paper, for if it doesn’t, then the Proceedings of the Baylor University Medical Center will be forever tarred as a vehicle for creationist nonsense.

h/t: Gregg

_______

Kuhn, J. A. 2012. Dissecting Darwinism.  Proceedings Baylor Univ. Medical Center 25:41-47

229 Comments

  1. steve
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    pretty much defunct

    Yes, much in the same way free will compatibilists say the hardly anyone believes in libertarian free will any more. (And then go on to prop up the belief in libertarian free will.)

    • Moira
      Posted October 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Why anyone can get their academic panties in a wad over someone who was not a good student and whose credentials are a BA in theology never ceases to amaze me.

      Sad waste of mental energy.

  2. Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    I liked the way Kuhn sought to demonstrate his biological credentials by announcing he had little background in the biological sciences, and less in other relevant fields.

    It’s the only paper in the issue that is accompanied by a contradictory commentary article.

    • orlando
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Credentials hardly matter. He is probably on the short list for the Templeton Prize, after which he will be able to afford to purchase his credentials on the internet.

      Not that I think f it, Professor William Lane Craig’s uni – Talbot Seminary – offers PhD’s in Metaphysical Biology and Theological Cosmology by correspondence. And being a religious college, the tuition is probably tax-deductible.

  3. John D
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Thus he support my theory that medical doctors are really overpriced auto mechanics. They are trained the same way as mechanics and only a few really know what the are doing.

    No offense to auto mechanics. When compared to doctors they are the noblest of the two. At least an auto mechanic might hesitantly refund your money if they perform the wrong “surgery” on your car. Let’s see if a doctor would provide a refund on a unsuccessful back surgery…

    • Yoss
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      Although I’m happy my “mechanic” was able to save me from cancer 6 years ago when he removed my esophagus! From what I read of Christopher Hitchens esophageal cancer is a horrible way to go.

      • John D
        Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        Congrats on having a skilled mechanic. I think many medical doctors are skilled mechanics. My wife’s life was saved by a skillfully placed stent. Thanks Dr. Khoksy.

        My car was saved by a skillfully replaced powertrain control module as well. And my mechanic actually used a checklist and repair manual before completing his diagnosis. I understand surgeons almost never use checklists. They are far to “smart” to need them.

        • John Gualt
          Posted January 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

          Mechanics hardly ever have to work on the car while it’s still running. And the lack of dealer or after market parts makes things difficult for doctors as well. But I agree. Next time you are sick, go to your mechanic.

          • Jeff Johnson
            Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

            This mini-debate seems like it only needs a little bit of imagination to be settled. Isn’t it obvious that there can be similarities and differences between doctors and mechanics at the same time?

            Yes, health care in the US is over-priced because most people have trouble affording it.

            On the other hand, health is one of the most valuable things we have, more valuable than a well running automobile.

            It is true that doctors require more specialized knowledge than mechanics, and the price of failure is greater.

            In medicine there are quacks. In auto-mechanics there are trial-and-error tinkerers who don’t know as much as they think they do.

            In both cases, doctors and mechanics learn to fix a very complicated machine that they don’t fully understand and couldn’t design or build from scratch.

            There are auto designers that are capable of improving engine design or making other automotive advances that a mechanic never could make.

            There are medical scientists who are capable of discovering new cures and finding new ways to understand pathology that lead to better diagnoses in ways beyond the capability of doctors.

            So while doctors and mechanics are obviously different jobs with different capabilities, doctors are to medical scientists as mechanics are to auto design engineers. So doctors and mechanics obviously differ, but in this latter sense doctors are like mechanics of the human body.

            There is no disagreement. Everyone is making valid points, but nobody is looking at the whole picture.

    • Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      I agree in some ways. Doctors use science, but they don’t do science. Many are poorly trained in the process and production of scientific knowledge, particularly doctors of the older generation. I believe that is changing now, but all too often we find that medical doctors use their credentials to make scientific claims that are way outside their area of scientific expertise. Partly because they have no scientific expertise.

      • dunstar
        Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        lol. wait are u saying deepak chopra doesn’t produce new scientific knowledge????

    • Jon Morgan
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Holy overgeneralization, Batman!

      I’m an M.D. My job is to use what I can of medical science to treat patients. It’s applied science.

      Yes, there are many of us (M.D.’s) who fall into all-too-human traps when trying to use what knowledge we can to help our patients, but it’s not gloried auto-mechanics because human pathology is a lot more complex than autos. Read Ben Goldacre’s column or Science-Based Medicine for details. We could do a lot better at making the endeavor of medicine more science-based and evidence based.

      I spent eleven years in post-graduate training to do what I do (I’m a diagnostic radiologist with a specialty in Neuroradiology). During four of those years, I spent one night a week up ALL night reading radiographs. And my residency is one of the easiest in medicine.

      Do auto mechanics stay up all night for cars? Do they help families cope with dying loved ones? Do they have to keep up with the latest journals?

      • John D
        Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        Do you provide refunds?

        Of course, I am over generalizing and I believe there are many wonderful doctors. It is harder to become a doctor than a mechanic due to complexity and many doctors are very dedicated and hard working.

        I do object to the idea that doctors are somehow qualified to be “superior” to others. This MD that writes the gibberish posted here is not alone.

        Image my surprise when I entered my doctor’s office (which is a large practice with several MDs) and found stacks of “medical” magazine with Depak Chopra on the cover… yes… frickin Depak Choara. I was really upset, but then who do I talk to about this? Do I challenge my MD who will surely say something like… “Well John, many people are comforted by this sort of… blah, blah, blah…)

        I tell you this. My local auto mechanic would never have magazines in his lobby telling people to perform reike on their Chevy. My auto mechanic has too much integrity for this.

        • Jon Morgan
          Posted January 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          I’m with you on the Deepak Chopra nonsense–I’d like to see more M.D.s stay firmly on the side of evidence-based and science based medicine and stear clear of woo-meisters like Deepity (and Dr. Oz!)

          And, of course, far too many doctors seem to think themselves experts on just about anything. Like Exhibit A, our creationist surgeon. That’s a fair jab.

          • Diane G.
            Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

            Sadly, “evidence-based medicine” is a pretty recent term, employed only since someone actually compared outcomes to prescriptions/procedures and noticed significant discrepancies.

            Better late than never, though!

        • JBlilie
          Posted January 20, 2012 at 6:53 am | Permalink

          The doctors work with are incredibly clear-thinking, sharp, inquisitive, and intelligent. (I’m sure none of them are creationists.)

          As Jon Morgan said, major over-generalization.

          John D: What do you do for a living? How would it seem to you if someone made such a sweeping, derogatory statement about you and your colleagues?

          I’m sure doctors will be happy to provide refunds — just as soon as people start to be assembled in factories from standardized parts. (Physiology is amazingly varied in the population.) And as soon as patients stop lying to them!

          I have had bad doctors. I never return to them after the first consultation. My GPs have been (and are) wonderful. They get a holiday card/letter every December!

          • John D
            Posted January 20, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

            I’m a mechanical engineer. Do your best my friend. Very few people worship engineers like they worship doctors. I’ve heard it all about the character of my profession… let’s see… we are cold-hearted, distant, uncaring, polluting, materialistic, etc. I doubt you can come up with anything I haven’t heard.

            It would be great if more doctors stood up for proper science. I am shocked at all the homeopaths, naturopaths, spirtual healers, etc. Is it really any wonder that a MD at Baylor could get published for his opinions about evolution. An MD gives him instant cred on the street. It is pretty annoying. It seems to me that the medical field has lost its way to a large extent. Look how long it took to debunk the lies about vaccines.

            And, to some extent, doctors are happy with their gilded status. Most use very sloppy techniques for diagnosis and pay almost no attention to statistics. Look at the waste created by all the mammograms, and psa tests etc. that have no statistical benefits. Consider all the wasted surgeries and tests. They have a long way to go and I only wish they would be a bit more honest as a group.

            When you car needs an oil change an engineer can point at testing that shows the effectiveness. This is completely different from the doctor that told me to modify my diet to prevent kidney stones. There is NO evidence my diet will affect my possible creation of kidney stones. Doctors just think maybe it will help. Recently doctors had people on low calcium diets if they were prone to kidney stones. Now testing has shown this is actually WORSE for stone production. Short story… the doctors were guessing and thought they would instruct people based on their guess. Very sloppy work.

            Obviously, I have taken this thread way off track. Sorry if you all are finding this annoying.

            • Jeff Johnson
              Posted January 20, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

              I have an idea. It must be tiring for engineers to have to conform to such exacting standards so that, you know, buildings and bridges don’t fall down.

              If you could design something equivalent to the human immune system and incorporate it into physical structures, you could probably begin to get away with the kinds of malpractice we see in new age medical quacks.

              You could then form a homeopathic engineering consultancy and rake in big bucks for doing practically nothing.

              Don’t worry, I won’t charge royalties for this idea. ;)

      • Ougaseon
        Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        This is way off topic and way late but seriously screw you and the entire institution of medicine for continuinng to to think it is brag worthy for doctors to stay up all night once a week or more doing your job. It’s terribly irresponsible and unfair to the patients you’re dealing with to use the respect of your position to pretend like lack of sleep magically doesn’t cause cognitive deficits in physicians. It’s exactly like the checklist thing with surgeons. Pilots use checklists and have rest requirements precisely because of their well established benefits and the large amount of responsibility they have during their job.

        Actually this is less off topic than I thought since the same sense of superiority is what drove this surgeon to claim that his profession is “uniquely” capable of scientific insights.

    • Nathan H.
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Gee. Where the f*** are you getting your doctors? My last GP was an atheist who could have taught a class on Darwinian Evolution with the knowledge he had. He lived in an apartment, so he kept his library in his office. He had everything by Darwin, everything by Dawkins (“God Delusion” included… and yeah, his staff was actually relatively religious… he had actually just finished “The Greatest Show on Earth”, which he recommended to me before I told him I was already reading it), Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True”, subscriptions to the Journal of Physical Anthropology and Evolution (International Journal of Organic Evolution), and more.

      And he and I would complain to each other about Creationists every time I saw him.

      On top of that, he was a well-known and highly respected doctor in Georgia.

      My doctor down here is not an atheist (Jewish), but is similarly science-minded, and I’ve found that he finds Creationists and ID’ers just as annoying.

      • Nathan H.
        Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        2 clarifications:

        1. “Journal of Physical Anthropology” and “Evolution (International Journal of Organic Evolution)” are two different journals.

        2. By “down here” I meant Florida.

    • Posted January 22, 2012 at 6:22 am | Permalink

      I’ve defended the idea that clinical practice is the activity of a technician for a long time. It is only because socially we have a bad habit of undervaluing technicians does this sound strange or even insulting.

  4. Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    There goes another free meal for creation pundits. “peer-reviewed scientific press overthrows darwinist fraud”. Of course, they won’t care if this crap gets retracted.

  5. Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Oh, this is from Baylor. Why is that not surprising?

    We really need to rethink the idea that religious educational institutions can actually provide something like an education.

    • Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Actually, I interviewed at Baylor University (and got an offer). In the basement of the science building they had….yes, a museum on evolution.
      My best guess is that the mainstream Baylor math/science types are a bit like Francis Collins; unless things have changed there I would think that this article is embarrassing to them.

    • Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      This is from Baylor’s mission statement (so no, I do not think a retraction is likely):

      …Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas and affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Baylor is both the state’s oldest institution of higher learning and the world’s largest Baptist university. Established to be a servant of the church and of society….the vision of its founders and the ongoing commitment of generations of students and scholars are reflected in the motto inscribed on the Baylor seal: Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana-For Church, For Texas.

      Pro Ecclesia. Baylor is founded on the belief that God’s nature is made known through both revealed and discovered truth. Thus, the University derives its understanding of God, humanity, and nature from many sources: the person and work of Jesus Christ, the biblical record, and Christian history and tradition… In its service to the church, Baylor’s pursuit of knowledge is strengthened by the conviction that truth has its ultimate source in God and by a Baptist heritage that champions religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Without imposing religious conformity, Baylor expects the members of its community to support its mission.

      • Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

        Not to mention the lies Baylor researchers have promulgated about religiosity in America.

        Also, the Baylor Religion Survey is funded by Templeton!

  6. Ken Pidcock
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    I’ve long regarded medicine as having an unhealthy level of tolerance for nonsense. Yes, we want to question dominant paradigms, etc, but stuff like this just gets left out there. My guess is that Kuhn doesn’t have any particular interest in the evolutionary process and is just providing his services here.

  7. Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    PS: Ron Paul is an MD and also a creationist, no?

    • microraptor
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Close.

      Ron Paul is an MD and also a cretin.

      • Kevin
        Posted January 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        …spit take…

  8. Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    A propos of nothing, the paper just before Kuhn’s in the current issue is authored by Kristina Stillsmoking. I expect she gets fed up with being told she’d better cut down a little.

    • TJR
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      She’s probably never noticed it before.

      • Strider
        Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        Be fair, she was attacked by a bat.

        • Gerhard Pratt
          Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

          Silly bunt

  9. Mettyx
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    So, Mr.Coyne, who exactly is going to see your response to this surgeon quack?

    You do realize that you are in an atheist bubble just like people who watch Fox “News” are in the Fox “News” bubble?

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      What are you trying to say? I have spoken out publicly about creationism, including writing a book for the general public about the evidence for evolution. If creationists don’t want to read it, that’s their choice, but don’t go accusing me of preaching only to the choir.

      I suspect that my and others’ commentary on this stupid paper will have some impact; your snark has no impact.

    • steve oberski
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Well you did Mettyx.

      And despite the nastiness of your comment it does you credit that you are looking outside of your bubble.

      I highly recommend Dr. Coyne’s website, I have learned a lot here and you will too.

      I also recommend his book “Why Evolution is True”.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Um, you do realize jac’s been published in USA Today, at least twice IIRC. This won’t be the only place it’s mentioned.

      • Strider
        Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        Also, it’s DR. Coyne, to you, Mettyx.

        • Posted January 20, 2012 at 2:47 am | Permalink

          I read it, and I’m sitting in Dublin on a cold and blustery day. Thank you Dr, Coyne, for everything you take the time to print, and that this lay person comprehends.

    • Kevin
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Nice of you to show up…now, do you have an argument to make?

      Some place where you suspect that Dr. Coyne misinterpreted the tripe being presented by your pal?

  10. OldFuzz
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    From their website:

    “The mission of Baylor University is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.”

    “Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas and affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas…”

    Christian/Baptist/Texas… a trifecta.

    • Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Oops, didn’t see this before posting the same above. Sorry.

    • MAUCH
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      This is the Baylor University in Waco, Texas? They have a choice to make. They will have to decide whether they want to be known for being open to the very latest in academic excellence; or they want to be known for a steadfast adherance to bronz age religious dogma. They can’t have both. Despite the sterotype not everyone in Texas will be satisfied with the later choice.

  11. Tim Mac
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Wow. The Discovery institute is really on the move to push their BS, into the Lime light. That famous, ” Where are the transitional Fossils ” quote is really starting to annoy me. I’m currently working on an App which will gather all the Transitional fossils together, in order to better expose the truth to the mainstream.
    Of course the Brainwashed Religious Fundies at The discovery institute will start working on their App to disprove this. So, in the words of the Iron Chef. Let the battle begin. Evidence vs BS.
    Also. Tebow sucks.

    • Dan L.
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      What platform are you doing that app for? I’d love to help out with something like that. I don’t mind doing crap work like QA, debugging, basic research, etc. My name should be a mailto link if you’re interested.

      • Dan L.
        Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        Mailto didn’t work. daniel d o t lavine a t yahoo d o t com.

    • Nathan H.
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      I’m gonna second the question about which platform you’re doing this for. I’d give anything for an app like this on my iPod Touch.

      Unfortunately, I can’t offer my services to the making of the app (no technical skills whatsoever, especially with making applications), but I can do research if need be…

      jimmyRRpage (at) gmail (dot) com

  12. Ray Perrins
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    He’s not too hot on biology is he? Take this quote just after the bit about tiktaalik:

    “The transitional species concept has been most extensively studied through invertebrate species of plants, shells, and mollusks in carefully preserved fossil fields in Japan, Malaysia, and Asia”

    Invertebrate species of plant. Genius

    • TJR
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      I’ve not found many plants with vertebrae……

    • troy
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Not too hot on geography either. “Japan, Malaysia and Asia”? I thought Japan and Malaysia are Asian countries.

    • Maverick
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Really not hot on biology: “…species of…shells…”. Always thought shells were part of a larger organism, not grouped into their own species.

      • Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

        And “shells and molluscks”. Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt that by “shells” he means “shelled animals” the overlap with molluscs is high.

    • Ray Perrins
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      And “carefully preserved”? Who by? Satan to fool the biologists, I assume. Or did he mean “well preserved”.

  13. Steve
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Haha, I simply love your placements of “Ergo Jesus”

    • JBlilie
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      It’s their exact “logic”. He’s just pointing and laughing. Well worth doing that.

  14. Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    the inconceivable self-formation of DNA

    That word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    /@

    • Persto
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      You could probably say that about the entire article.

    • JBlilie
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      Inconceivable. Tells the whole story: Dawkins’ “argument from personal incredulity.”

      “I’m too stoopid to figure out howw …”

  15. Stolen Dormouse
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    I’d like to point out that the Baylor University Medical Center is a group hospitals in and around Dallas that, since 1943, has had no direct connection with Baylor College Medicine, which is in Houston. What we have here the Proceedings of a health care system, not an educational institution.

  16. Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    You are much too kind to Dr. Kuhn. His contribution should be described as an opinion piece, rather than a paper, since it contains no new results and is merely a compilation of creationist arguments, and the harder you look, the worse they seem. He uses a mixture of creationist non-reviewed publications and misinterpreted frontline journals, as if they had equal weight. His extraordinary discussion of the origins and radiations of phyla (Figure 3 in his publication) is taken from Art Battson via an evangelical website. He misses the point of Behe’s notorious 2010 QRB review article, which you commented on at the time; that even after gross cheating, Behe could not fail to find examples of the kind of evolutionary innovation that he regards as impossible. He refers to an article in the Times Higher Education Supplement (his reference 40) for the statement that bacterial evolution has been followed through 10^20 generations (the time for that many generations, at two generations per hour, works out around 400 million times the age of the Universe). He uses Wells, The Myth of Junk DNA, as his source for the claim that the correspondence between human and ape DNA is only 75%, whereas the true figure, leaving room for argument about details, is in the high 90s. From this, he argues that the number of mutations required is implausibly high, using in support of paper (his reference 35) that addresses the probability of pre-specified multiple mutations in the context of the origin of cancers (and which, incidentally, explicitly attacks Behe’s statistical arguments).

    Regarding the fact of publication, there seem to be several mitigating circumstances. The journal concerned describes the work of Baylor Medical Center, where Dr. Kuhn works as a surgeon. The editors did attach a commentary, pointing out some of the issues. At this stage my own view is that the pretensions of this journal have been severely damaged, but that a formal retraction would merely provide the creationists with another phoney martyr, and do more harm than good.

    Incidentally, does anyone know where this 75% figure comes from? My colleagues at BCSE have traced it back to an article by Richard Buggs in 2008, in the Dutch Protestant newspaper Reformatorisch Dagsblad. Buggs describes the usual 95+% figure as an artefact of alignment (!) but gives no further details.

    • Maurits van der Veen
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Actually, the article (http://www.refdag.nl/70_chimp_1_295967) by Buggs does give details about his calculations, but his method is ludicrous. He does make it clear, however, that the calculation is his.

      In any case, the fact these calculations were “published” in het Reformatorisch Dagblad should tell you enough. It’s a decent Dutch newspaper, with a strong religious identity. If you were an American scientist with an non-laughable “scientific” claim to publish is that really the outlet you’d choose?

      • Posted January 20, 2012 at 2:26 am | Permalink

        Thanks, Maurits.

        You are spot on. A search on his name at the paper shows that he regularly wrote small chatty pieces, mainly personal trivia. His 75% figure first appeared among these as http://www.digibron.nl/search/detail.jsp?sourceid=1011&uid=00000000012dbecf3769c65345425d22&docid=11 (11 Oct 2008); the piece you cite (5 Dec 2008) gives the missing details of the calculation, which simply assumed zero overlap in as-yet unexamined portions. There are several references to the real literature on human and chimp genomes; all (!) that is missing is a justification of his own procedure.

      • Draken
        Posted January 20, 2012 at 6:17 am | Permalink

        ‘Strong religious identity’ is somewhat of an understatement. Refdag, as we familiarly call it, regularly makes it to the atheist sites where we have a jolly good laugh at their “science” section. The Darwin year 2009 was golden (all articles in Dutch, I’m afraid).

  17. Phosphorus99
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Living organisms both in the construction of their body plans and their physiological functions are the products of a naturally (not due to men) occurring information technology” platform”. This includes Darwin’s Finches

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15353802?dopt=Abstract&holding=npg

    Science. 2004 Sep 3;305(5689):1462-5. Bmp4 and morphological variation of beaks in Darwin’s finches.
    Abzhanov A, Protas M, Grant BR, Grant PR, Tabin CJ. Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

    Long before Darwin it was well known that the body plans of organisms changed. We now understand that the change is due alteration in or regulation of their information systems .

    The fundamental question to be answered is therefore:

    ” How did this information platform come into existence ?”

    One can only guess what an excellent mind like Darwin’s would have thought if he knew then what we know now.

  18. eric
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    No Proceedings should be taken as being as credible as regular journal articles. They typically provide reports on what was presented at a conference or meeting. Since the purpose of the pubilcation is to give the reader a summary of what was presented regardless of the quality of the presentations, a lot of crap can creep in.

    This is not to say that there isn’t some excellent science reported in Proceedings-type reports. There is. But you can’t count on the quality as much as you can regural journal pieces.

    But I do disagree with the folks above who are implying some nefarious or religious motive to the Baylor publishers. There are many non-malicious explanations for why this could have appeared. The organizers could have invited this person to talk for political reasons. Or he could’ve changed what he was going to say after the invite. In other cases (probably not this one), it regularly happens that a person submits an abstract, gets accepted, then the research either doesn’t get done or goes off the rails, and the speaker has to find something else to talk about. And there are probably several other non-malicious reasons why a Proceedings publisher cannot be held completely accountable for the research that gets reported.

    They are kind of in a bind: report what a speaker said, and get vilified for it. Or don’t report what a speaker said, and get accused of providing an incomplete/biased/censored account of the meeting.

  19. evogene
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    “Experience shows that new complex biological features that require multiple mutations to confer a benefit do not arise by natural selection and random mutation” I am sorry whose experience is he referring to? Population geneticists? evolutionary embryologists? or ecologists? I hope he doesn’t mean surgeons’ or doctors’!

    • JBlilie
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      He means Baptists, of course!

  20. Achrachno
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    “modern evolution data do not convincingly support a transition from a fish to an amphibian, which would require a massive amount of new enzymes, protein systems, organ systems, chromosomes, and formation of new strands of specifically coding DNA.”

    Almost makes you wonder how tadpoles manage something awfully similar, in their millions, every summer.

    • Kirth Gersen
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      “Massive number.” You can count enzymes. This guy’s English is even worse than his biology!

  21. JoeBuddha
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I, for one, am intrigued by the concept of vertebrate plants. Since he specifically called out the invertebrates of the plant world, he must know something I don’t.

    • Achrachno
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Skeleton weed!

      • Kieran
        Posted January 20, 2012 at 12:16 am | Permalink

        Thigh bone tulip

        • Kieran
          Posted January 20, 2012 at 12:17 am | Permalink

          Yes I know it’s not part of the verterbrae but thoracic tulip.. okay it works as well.

        • Posted January 20, 2012 at 1:31 am | Permalink

          That’s just not humerus.

          /@

  22. Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    In a related theme, I came across this book review by Matt Cartmill of “The Atlas of Creation”, the book by that Turkish creationist who has lots of funding.

    This book review is valuable since it is a case study–as Matt hints at–of how and when should we, as scientists, pay heed to creationist nonsense. Plus, it is just a pleasure to read, since Matt is witty and erudite on the most admirable levels.

    Paste this link into your browser and download the .pdf

    reports.ncse.com/index.php/rncse/article/download/22/13

    • JBlilie
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      Thanks, just downloaded.

  23. TJR
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Someone called Kuhn arguing for a paradigm shift. Lovely.

  24. Jeff Johnson
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Let’s just mail out a template for these essays so all the evolution deniers can simply replicate it and save themselves (and us) time and bother. It would go something like this:

    Even though I can fill paragraphs with references to biochemical concepts and scientific findings, I lack the intelligence, imagination, and understanding to visualize how evolution could be possible.

    Since my limited intellectual capacity leaves me with the feeling that such a grand system and sublime process is inexplicable and inconceivable, I will declare it to be impossible.

    On the other hand, I can easily grasp and accept the idea that a benevolent divine intelligence created all that we can see via some inexplicable and inconceivable means, the specifics of which elude my limited intellectual capacity to imagine. I will therefore declare this to be not only possible, but undoubtedly true.

    You may think that this makes me sound like an idiot who uses a double standard to arrange for every conclusion to arrive at the result I desired from the start.

    You would be correct.

    • Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      You wrote this? I like it! Maybe the “benevolent divine intelligence” should be “ineffable” as well…

      /@

      • Jeff Johnson
        Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        I did write it. You can copy it if you want, and add ineffable.

    • Sastra
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Brilliant!

      But I’m afraid the creationists won’t use it. Most of them are likely to figure out that it’s making things a bit too clear and simple.

      • Jeff Johnson
        Posted January 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps we can find a way to disguise it in a mystical sounding narrative that appears to contain ancient revelations. That might fool them into using it. :)

    • Kevin
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      +1 internets for you.

    • Posted January 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      I copied it to a blog post, too!

      I did credit you for it, though. Had to. It’s a personal thing… I liek to give credit where it’s due…

      http://natehevens.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/journal-paper-template-for-creationists-and-iders/

  25. Jim Jones
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    By “1 in10150—1 in 1070″ does he mean “1 in 10^150 to 1 in 10^70″? Or??

  26. Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    always instructive to see how powerful emotional appeals to magical ideologies/beliefs can always be…of course, if they didn’t have strong intuitive appeal, they would have lasted or be around..

  27. Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    He means 1 in 10^150, Dembski’s “probability limit”, representing a generous limit for the number of events since the origin of the Universe.

    A special case of the general creationist fallacy of confusing events with *sequences* of events. The number of different ways a single gas molecule can collide with its neighbours in a single second is so large, you’d need half a mile of bookshelves to write out the number.

    • Windchaser
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, but who uses bookshelves to spell things out anyway? I find paper and pen much easier, though we did once rearrange the benches at my alma mater to spell out the college’s name on the green.

  28. Charles Jones
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Arrghh! His Figure 3 is awful. Even taking into account that the diagram is not accurate, if the vertical axis covers the last 600 million years, then yes, the phyla all look like they arise at the same time. If, however, you zoom in so the vertical axis covers just 60 Myr around the Precambrian-Cambrian, you’ll see that they come in one after the other over an extended period of time. And this period of time really just records the origin of preservable parts–the genetic differentiation extends back even further into the Precambrian.

    Kuhn is either hugely ignorant or an evil liar.

    • Tim
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Kuhn is either hugely ignorant or an evil liar.

      Why the …either…or…? There are two other alternatives, one of which is unlikely in the extreme, and the second of which has a probability approaching 1.

    • JBlilie
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      Stoopid on this scale (and errors/malpractice in general) fall into two categories:

      1. Malice (done intentionally and knowingly)
      2. Incompetence (done foolishly, ignorantly, or in an unskilled way)

      Neither looks good on your CV.

      It is possible to be both, as demonstrated quite well by Kuhn’s “paper”.

  29. vel
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    ah, the creationist, a curious creature that attacks information it doesn’t understand and that tells falsehoods contantly belying their supposed faith in something that hates lies and liars.

    As I would not take my child to a auto mechanic nor my car to a pediatrician, I would not go to a medical doctor for information on evolutionary theory.

  30. Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    so life is too complex to evolve but creationists are smart enuf to figure out how it happened!

  31. Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    then there is this:

    “The evolutionary transition between single-celled organisms and multicellular life as we know it took several billion years to occur in nature, but under artificial pressure, evolutionary biologists have been able to make it happen in 60 days. Single-celled yeast became multicellular creatures, a crucial step for life’s progression, from algae and bacteria to more complex “

    • Posted January 21, 2012 at 12:00 am | Permalink

      Don’t be too quick to believe the hype. How did they accomplish this?

      They centrifuged the cells for a hundred generations till they get so dizzy, they clung to one another for dear life. I’m not sure how this would have been accomplished in nature – we’ll leave it up to the creative storytellers to come up with a just so story to try and explain that.

      From The Scientist site:
      “Indeed, the authors of the PNAS study admit that selecting for yeast cells or clusters that settled most quickly isn’t exactly a “natural” selection pressure.”

      Plus, if it was as easy as they claim, we all wonder why this didn’t happen more often up until this point in time?

      Ratcliff himself wondered this: “Considering that trillions of one-celled organisms lived on Earth for millions of years, it seems like it should have.”

      So even the news site The Scientist admits this was a very contrived experiment and it was only one experiment so not a lot has been explained here. Contrived means unnatural so they haven’t proven anything here yet outside of the need for intelligence to be involved in this transition happening.

      Plus, evolutionists believe that yeast evolved from a multicellular ancestor according to Ed Young in Nature News. If so, the experiment demonstrates, at best, a return to a more complex past.

      Nothin to get too excited about yet it would seem.

      • Jeff Johnson
        Posted January 21, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        I don’t see exactly why the selection pressure need be “natural” for the results to have meaning.

        I don’t know much detail on this, but the article I read stated that these weren’t just clumps of yeast. There was division of labor among specialized cells. This is fairly impressive to me.

        Deep sea thermal vents are a pretty extreme “natural” environment. So exposure to heat or extreme pressure isn’t necessarily “unnatural”.

        The important question is to decide whether the accelerated transition caused by the influence of centrifuges could not occur more “naturally” over long periods of time under less extreme natural conditions.

        • Posted January 22, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

          Well, if it is not a naturally occurring process in nature, it cannot help explain evolution because evolution cannot appeal to any unnatural processes or input outside of nature. The fact that it is not naturally occurring in nature is admitted by the authors of the study.

          “Indeed, the authors of the PNAS study admit that selecting for yeast cells or clusters that settled most quickly isn’t exactly a “natural” selection pressure.”

          • Jeff Johnson
            Posted January 22, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

            Of course it’s not natural. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t provide information. The point is not to claim that this experiment with yeast represents exactly how evolution occurred. The point is that under pressure, the transition from single cell to multi-cellular forms does not take as long as one might imagine.

            This does not prove anything, but it teaches a lot (which you seem to be unwilling to open your mind to). It in fact adds to the sum total of explanatory knowledge. It is a data point, which in the future in combination with many other discoveries may take on new meaning that we can not yet imagine. It means there is reason to feel hopeful of the possibility that under natural conditions extreme pressures might cause a similar process to occur. Let’s say for example in the boiling waters near deep sea thermal vents. It may help to suggest to other scientists new and different types of experiments to undertake.

            According to your argument, physicists can’t learn anything from observing collisions in particle accelerators because they aren’t natural. The ability to modify genes is useless because it is not natural. Growing cultures in a petri dish would tell us nothing because it is not natural. Hybrid plants teach us nothing because they are not natural. Spectral analysis in a laboratory would tell us nothing about the composition of the stars. You probably think we don’t know what stars are made of because we haven’t traveled there and taken samples. Try using your imagination a little.

            You seem to be completely unaware of how laboratory experimentation, which is often contrived, helps to reveal information that allows the secrets of nature to be discovered.

            • tjguy
              Posted January 24, 2012 at 6:52 am | Permalink

              OK. Point well taken. I shouldn’t have said that it cannot help to explain evolution. We don’t yet know if it will be able to help or not. There is a possibility as you wrote, that it might play a role in the future. And it does add to our current understanding.

              I just get frustrated when people take experiments like this and use them to jump to unwarranted conclusions. I see you haven’t – so that’s good.

              • Jeff Johnson
                Posted January 25, 2012 at 3:00 am | Permalink

                I understand the frustration; like when people jump to the unwarranted conclusion that the many authors of the Bible had access to secret knowledge that is denied us. Pretty frustrating to bump up against that kind of unyielding dull -witted impenetrable unreason. Or the unwarranted conclusion that because they don’t understand something, it must be evidence of design.

                Every time that conclusion is made it’s just a replay of the original invention of God: we don’t understand the thunder and lightening and the rains or the growth of plants, ergo God in the sky. Talk about conclusions that are cooked up out of pure fantasy! Pretty stupid and frustrating, eh?

              • Posted January 26, 2012 at 4:49 am | Permalink

                “I understand the frustration; like when people jump to the unwarranted conclusion that the many authors of the Bible had access to secret knowledge that is denied us.”

                Jeff, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Bible – that they did not come up with their ideas on their own. Of course much of what they wrote was simply history, but there were times when they wrote about things they didn’t experience – like the creation account.

                “Pretty frustrating to bump up against that kind of unyielding dull -witted impenetrable unreason.”

                Jeff, I think the Bible has the best explanation for the world we live in, who we are, and the purpose of life. Although it was written by over 40 authors who lived over a period of 1500-1600 years, had different occupations, levels of education, cultures, and even languages, and obviously didn’t know each other, it is amazing that it has such unity to it. There are prophecies that have come true and the Bible is the go to place for archeologists. I don’t understand everything in it, but I do believe it is the Word of God. You can laugh and disrespect it all you want. God says there is enough evidence for his existence in nature that all men are without excuse. It is self-evident that it had to have a cause. All causes have to be sufficient to explain the effect. There is no other choice but a Creator.

                “Or the unwarranted conclusion that because they don’t understand something, it must be evidence of design. Every time that conclusion is made it’s just a replay of the original invention of God: we don’t understand the thunder and lightening and the rains or the growth of plants, ergo God in the sky. Talk about conclusions that are cooked up out of pure fantasy! Pretty stupid and frustrating, eh?”

                Sometimes the conclusions are unwarranted. Thunder and lightning is a good example of unwarranted conclusions, but then Christians don’t make those conclusions. Just knowing the science behind it does not mean that you have explained it’s origin.

                But there are times when a conclusion of design is warranted. SETI, archeology, etc. Origin of life fits this bill. You have to be a tried and true Darwinist to believe that chance is responsible for this universe and the life we see. Besides if you go back far enough, there had to be an uncaused First Cause.

                You disagree, but still both of us take it by faith that we are right. You don’t have 100% proof and neither do I. You think that eventually science will work it all out in spite of the seemingly insurmountable odds. Fine. Go fish for your whale in the pond to your heart’s content. I’m sure that in the process you will come up with something that might benefit society along the way, so I’m not opposed to you doing that if you want to.

                However, I believe design research will provide much more benefit to mankind than trying to figure out how life emerged. Remember, we don’t even know for sure if it did evolve on it’s own. That is simply your guess – a tenet of your faith.

                Right now, it is your faith vs my faith. I think my faith has greater explanatory power. At least there is a sufficient Cause in my faith, whereas your faith is still searching for a sufficient cause.

              • microraptor
                Posted January 26, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

                Unity? Only someone who hasn’t actually read the bible could say that it shows unity. From Genesis 1 all the way through to the last page, the book is rife with contradictions. Frequently it isn’t even able to stick to a coherent message in the same chapter. In Mathew 5- Mathew 7, aka the Sermon on the Mount, we get such messages as how Jesus is not here to abolish or change the law, but to uphold it, which is immediately followed by a long list of changes or abolishments to Jewish law.

                Go to place for archeologists? Maybe half a century ago, but by now it’s become so patently obvious that the bible is flat out wrong on everything from there never having been a large number of Hebrew slaves in Egypt to not even being able to record the physical layout of the general area correctly that it’s no more a go to place for archeologists than the Iliad or the Epic of Gilgamesh.

                As for the prophecies, they were either vaguely worded enough that interpreting them as having come true is entirely subjective, the only record of both the prophecy and the event is in the bible itself (meaning that one or both could have simply been made up and likely were), were things that by their very nature would have to come true at some point, like the eventual death of some king, or actually didn’t come true and the authors quietly buried. Again, absolutely nothing is astounding about them.

                Really, if you want to impress the people here, you’re going to have to try a lot harder than simply mindlessly repeating what your pastor told you on Sunday.

              • Jeff Johnson
                Posted January 26, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

                tjguy, you are really infected by the religion virus. You’ve got it bad. You sound like a North Korean praising the lovely qualities of the Dear Leader.

                One has to wonder how you can be so skeptical of evolution and science in general, and then throw all of that skepticism out the window when it comes to religion.

                Here is a challenge for you: if the Holy Spirit is the origin of the words in the Bible (or in my words, if the authors had access to secret knowledge denied to us), turn your evolutionary skepticism back on your religion. Find some proof that is independently testable that provides evidence for the existence of the Holy Spirit. I mean something outside the self-referential circular logic of the Bible; something in our natural environment that proves the Holy Spirit is anything other than an imaginary creation of the human psyche.

                Try to imagine what the explanation is for the fact that there have been thousands of religions throughout history, all of which had creation myths.

                Could it be that those people had the same curiosity about the world they lived in as scientists have today? Except, rather than being inspired by a divine spirit, in their ignorance they devised the best explanation they could come up with at the time, based on their observations and level of knowledge. In other words, religion was just an early failed attempt at bad science, integrated with a hodgepodge of legal concepts devised to encourage social harmony, and a bunch of literature and poetry to fulfill the marketing and propaganda end of things. And look how successful they were, thanks to the willing complicity of credulous folks such as yourself. Someday when you see this all clearly, if you ever do, you will be very embarrassed you ever swallowed the claims of authority and revelation that have deceived billions. It is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated, without a single shred of convincing evidence to back it up.

                There have been thousands of such human religions, all wrong. Yet you think this one set of extraordinary claims about the natural world is somehow different, for some reason the only such religion of thousands to get it right. Put your evolutionary skeptic hat on when you are examining your religion!

                You mention fulfilled prophecies. You can’t really be serious. If you apply your brain to that problem you will see that the prophecies are vague and lacking detail. Nobody is capable of using vague biblical foreshadowing to derive specific events involving specific people in specific places and times. Harold Camping is the latest example of a failed fraudulent fool who thought he could do this. The only thing people can do is after the fact of some event they can see a resemblance to vague biblical metaphorical hand waving and conclude it must be a miraculous fulfillment of prophesy. This is called wishful thinking.

                If you want to impress someone with prophecy you need to be more detailed in advance of events, and you must take into account all of the failures.

                I can throw darts at a chart of stock symbols on the wall a thousand times and pick a few winners. This is not impressive. Neither is Biblical prophesy for exactly the same reasons.

                Watch me be a prophet: on that dark and terrible day, when our wickedness shall be punished, a plague of misery and death will punish legions of sinners.

                When the wrath of god strikes the earth with a mountain from the sky, you will know his great power.

                There. I’m a prophet. When a huge viral outbreak kills thousands or millions someday in the distant future, or when an asteroid finally strikes the earth again, you can tell your ancestors to bow down and revere the all-knowing St. Jeff.

                Hopefully, by the time these predictions are fulfilled, humanity will be sane enough on the whole to have abandoned the foolish superstition of religious faith.

            • tjguy
              Posted January 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

              One more thing Jeff. I think Behe makes an excellent point in his evaluation of this experiment.

              “The authors did not analyze the genetic changes that occurred in the cells, but I strongly suspect that if and when they do, they’ll discover that functioning genes or regulatory regions were broken or degraded. This would be just one more example of evolution by loss of pre-existing systems, at which we already knew that Darwinian processes excel. The apparently insurmountable problem for Darwinism is to build new systems.”

              Indeed, it would be quite telling to analyze the types of changes that took place at the genetic level. I would assume that Behe’s assumptions are probably correct whereas you would probably assume the opposite.

              I hope someone actually investigates this to see whether this experiment is really relative or applicable to the origin of life problem.

              • microraptor
                Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

                The second you said “I think Behe makes an excellent point” you lost the argument. Behe’s track record on statements about evolution is so laughably bad that anything he says on the subject should be pretty much discounted. The man has absolutely no authority on which to make predictions.

          • Jeff Johnson
            Posted January 26, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

            Here is another question for you tjguy. You wrote that “the Bible has the best explanation for the world we live in, who we are, and the purpose of life.”

            Okay, what is the purpose of life? I mean, if God created us, why? What were his reasons? What in specific detail is God’s plan, and to fulfill what purpose did he create his plan?

            If the Bible is the best explanation of who we are, what does it tell us about how to heal a sick person? What does it tell us about a person with Alzheimer’s, or autism, or schizophrenia? How does it suggest we treat them?

            What does the bible have to tell us about earthquakes, storms, the sun, the moon, stars, planets, galaxies, bacteria, plants, animals, minerals? What useful practices, what useful qualities of nature can you infer from the Bible’s “best” explanation of the world we live in?

            Try this thought experiment: send a hundred religious believers with no science education to a deserted island with nothing but a box of Bibles. Also send a hundred practicing scientists who are atheists to an equivalent island with no Bible and a full complement of scientific texts on math, physics, chemistry, and biology.

            In ten years, which group do you think will have built the most advanced society? Which group is most likely to contact the outside world sooner, and escape the island sooner?

  32. Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Funny thing. I saw, via referral, an orthognathic surgeon at Baylor in 2009 who recommended prosthetic jaw joints due to crepitus, muscle spasms, and bilateral pain from severe degenerative arthritis. My divinely manufactured congenital joints simply weren’t designed properly.

    Of course, I always wondered about the “prayer garden” in the middle of the courtyard and the reason Dembski is frequently invited back to give his CSI lectures.

  33. caf
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Dear Dr. Coyne,

    Ironic this article. I live in Dallas and had a friend at Baylor Hospital. Driving to visit him, I turned on a street on which on one side sits the Dallas Theological Seminary, on the other starts the Baylor Hospital campus.

    Dallas Theological teaches biblical inerrancy. As you know, modern medicine works because of the evolutionary relationship among organism (DNA, genes).

    As you can see, both can’t be right. So, I imagine this is how that tension is “solved”.

  34. Schenck
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I can’t help but mention, and maybe someone else’s done so already, but he’s claiming that his illustrious relative, John Hunter, made some statements that predict or anticipate Darwin’s theory, and that because Hunter was a surgeon, and Kuhn himself is a surgeon, surgeons are especially qualified to talk about evolutionary biology.

    All you have to do is look at the title of Hunter’s book that Kuhn himself cites to see that Hunter was more than just a surgeon. Show me a surgeon who can write competent essays and reports about Natural History, Psychology, and Geology, and I’ll grant that they’ve got a wide background. Hell I suspect Kuhn wouldn’t even be able to write a competent essay on Physiology, given the above anyway! At least he knows anatomy! (of one species. And one that is remarkably similar to the chimps and apes he scoffs at as being possible ‘ancestors’).

  35. Karl Withakay
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Kuhn evidently doesn’t understand evolution enough to know that the Theory of evolution doesn’t actually address the origin of life. There are hypotheses about how life originated, but they really aren’t part of the Theory of evolution.

  36. Posted January 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    If this rarely published “hypothesis” is so valid, why are there no graduate schools which offer a Master’s or Ph.D. in intelligent design?

    • JBlilie
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      It’s a conspiracy of emotionally disturbed biologists who are censoring the heretics because they know the heretics have all the evidence.

      Duh?

      See also: Expelled

      • Jeff Johnson
        Posted January 20, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        There are many such conspiracies in our society. The problem is rampant.

        For example, there is a conspiracy among police departments to keep criminals off of their payrolls.

        There is also a conspiracy among musical groups to exclude people who cannot read music or play an instrument.

        There is a conspiracy among the airlines to exclude people without proper pilot’s training from flying their planes. As if there weren’t valid alternative theories on how to fly planes!

        This kind of obvious system of entrenched dogmatic political correctness has corrupted the minds of our children by giving them the false expectation that mere humans are capable of achieving respectable flight safety records without God’s help.

      • Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        Ben Stein should win the Nobel Prize for being top wackadoodle.

  37. Jim Thomerson
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    If one considers the strength of Baylor’s football and girls basketball programs, it will become obvious that this is of no consequence to the institution.

    • Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      exactly, this is pandering to the born-again money folks and alums — standard fund raising scam wagging the dog…

  38. Kevin
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I’ve made my living as a medical writer one way or another for the past 20+ years. I’ve never heard of the Baylor proceedings until just now. Nor have I ever heard of any paper within it being used as a citation by anyone else in any paper I’ve ever reviewed (into the several thousands by now — I have a 500-paper personal library on a single topic).

    No, it’s not a “prestigious” journal. And it might not even be peer-reviewed.

    Once again, I feel the need to point out that one does not need to be a scientist in order to be a physician. Surgeons need highly developed fine-motor skills and a knowledge of anatomy. That doesn’t make them scientists.

    • JBlilie
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 7:16 am | Permalink

      And, I hope, the ability to follow good procedures!

      Surgeons and pilots: Always confident, sometimes correct.

      How many surgeons [pilots] does it take to change a light bulb?

      A: Just one. She holds up the bulb to the socket and the world turns around her.

  39. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    the inconceivable self-formation of DNA … the inconceivable self-formation of DNA

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • Posted January 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Only 6h late…

      But thanks for the link!

      /@

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted January 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I didn’t read the thread before posting. I keep repeating that mistake. =D

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted January 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        But I put the “repeating” in, I note. So it is neither derivate nor unoriginal. Heh.

    • Jeff Johnson
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Oh. I thought it meant unable to get pregnant…

      • Posted January 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        Oh, Carry On Follow That Camel beat you to that one… 

        /@

  40. reboho
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    The proceedings also contains a one page rebuttal (Invited commentary) from Charles Stewart Roberts, MD. Not as lengthy as the tripe that proceeds it, it does address several issues. The editors comments also stated that a longer rebuttal would be published in an upcoming edition.

    http://www.baylorhealth.edu/Documents/BUMC%20Proceedings/2012%20Vol%2025/No.%201/25_1_Roberts_Commentary.pdf

    • Kevin
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Did you notice that the editor of the “proceedings” called the upcoming rebuttal to be on “Darwinism”.

      Gives you a flavor of what you’re dealing with in Wacko.

      • J.J.E.
        Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        1) Dawkins uses the term Darwinism.
        2) Dallas, not Waco, and certainly not Wacko. 3) Calling a city with more than 100,000 people (metro area near a quarter million) “Wacko” is about as predictable and boring as hearing a right winger call the talk show host, “Ellen Degenerate”.

  41. Mark Largent
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Poor fellow couldn’t even get the title of Darwin’s 1859 book right. It’s not _On the Origin of the Species_. It’s _On the Origin of Species_.

    The difference is significant for the many who don’t know what’s actually in the book. There’s no discussion in it of the origin of humans, which is what is often assumed when one says THE species.

  42. Hempenstein
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    FWIW, Kuhn seems to do bariatric surgery.

  43. Dawn Oz
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    We were fortunate enough to see on Aussie TV, the remarkable doco ‘JUDGEMENT DAY: Intelligent Design on Trial’ showing the landmark case in Dover high school. It covers all the arguments – shouldn’t be any left! Its available free on

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/judgment-day-intelligent-design-on-trial/

    And I hear that there is another state warming up to try and push this nonsense into another school.

    • eric
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Great documentary. Released in the US last year (or maybe 2010). :)

      Don’t feel bad – you may be behind in TV shows, but are waaay ahead of us in electing an atheist to head your country.

      • Dawn Oz
        Posted January 20, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

        We have a very rich documentary life in Aust – many of the BBC docos hit our shores almost concurrently. However, I certainly was pleased that ‘Judgement Day’ was made, and made so well! Bet Fox won’t show it.

        • microraptor
          Posted January 21, 2012 at 3:19 am | Permalink

          Judgement Day was made for the US’s Public Broadcasting Station, our public TV channel.

          Actually, I think it’s one of the reasons that Faux’s pundits hate that channel so much.

          • Dawn Oz
            Posted January 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            Ah, your wonderful PBS. And it was picked up in Aust by a similar station SBS. It also would have been welcome on our wonderful ABC, and the commercial channels wouldn’t have touched it. Whilst we have a basically secular nation, it is also full of bread and circuses so that reflection isn’t one of our national values. I guess it was ever thus.

  44. Vaal
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Keep fightin’ the good fight Jerry!

    I really appreciate the time that you, as a professional biologist, take to address creationist nonsense!

    Vaal.

  45. madamX
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    This is so 2006. He can add unoriginal to his boring, uninformed, and untrue analysis.

  46. Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone noticed that Joseph A. Kuhn is on the Editorial Board of the journal.

    Makes me wonder just how the review process was conducted.

  47. Liyan
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    I am extremely disappointed that you, an academic, simply “presumed” the BUMCP to be a respectable medical journal without any attempt at verification.

    The “journal” is not even listed on the Science citation index nor has does it have an impact factor. It is nothing more than an online version of a hospital magazine.

    Even a google search on Baylor University would tell you that it is a “private christian university” and the Baylor health care system is a “Christian ministry of healing”. Is the article really that surprising now?

  48. theinstinctofnottobecomeextinct
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    Woow this is quite the opposite of what i am dreaming of: a scientific paper in a creations research journel:

    http://theinstinctofnottobecomeextinct.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/official-announcement-eur-1000-for-the-first-falsification-of-a-crkoc-in-creations-research-literature/

    PS: you can earn 1000 Euros!

    BR, M:)

  49. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    “Therefore, history reveals that surgeons are uniquely capable of gathering information, making observations, and reaching conclusions about scientific discoveries.”

    *uniquely* capable? Surely he didn’t say that. Tell me he didn’t say that. Nobody else but surgeons is qualified to do that stuff?

    He not only fails logic 101, he fails English 101 as well.

  50. Bruce Gorton
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Baylor is a Christian university in Texas. It is a fake journal for a fake university.

    • Stolen Dormouse
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      No, its a fake journal for a medical center that does not have direct ties to a medical school. But it does have its own ‘research institute.”

  51. Leviathan
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Since people have been posting excerpts from Baylor University’s mission statement and referring to its sports teams, and to the extent that a specific praise or criticism ought to be directed at those actually deserving of it in the instance, it may be worth pointing out that Baylor University Medical Center (in Dallas) and Baylor University (in Waco) are two completely separate institutions. Aside from a contractual arrangement whereby BU nursing students do their clinical work at BUMC, the institutions are administratively unrelated.

  52. Posted January 20, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Doesn’t Behe have an advanced degree? Poor critical thinking skills are not just for medical professionals, they just learn to have a higher opinion of their opinions and are therefore more likely to spew like this. There’s a lot of that going around, and education doesn’t provide certain immunity.

    • microraptor
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      I don’t think it’s a lack of critical thinking skills so much as being a deliberate fraud in Behe’s case.

      • Posted January 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        So you think he doesn’t really believe all that CSI crap? I don’t know whether I’d feel better about that or not.

        • microraptor
          Posted January 21, 2012 at 3:16 am | Permalink

          Behe’s been beaten over the head with the truth too many times- he knew he was talking garbage at Kitzmiller Vs Dover when he tried to make claims about the bacterium flagella being irreducibly complex and there being no research on the evolution of the immune system because he’d had the truth pointed out to him, to his face on multiple occasions.

          For him to then go on and try to say that the research does not exist? Has to be deliberate unless he’s got memory problems or he’s been kicked in the teeth so much that he’s acquired a taste for boot leather.

          • microraptor
            Posted January 21, 2012 at 3:16 am | Permalink

            And deliberate fraud is always worse than ignorance in my book.

  53. Vayaconcarne
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Anyone care to explain something to me?

    A while ago I was getting proselytised at by a Jehovah’s Witness, who gave the same argument as the one above, that neither proteins nor DNA could have originated without the other. (Ergo Jesus). I just replied that I wasn’t a scientist and couldn’t explain it, (and hadn’t heard of it before), but that I thought not understanding something wasn’t sufficient grounds for a god hypothesis.

    Jerry mentions the ‘co-evolutionary scenario, and involvement of RNA’ and seems to suggest it refutes the above argument. I haven’t heard of this either! Fill me in, someone?

    • Jeff Johnson
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      The wikipedia RNA World Hypothesis page outlines a theory of self-replicating RNA that predated DNA and proteins. I know practically no O-chem, and I thought the article was accessible.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RNA_world_hypothesis

      A key point is that RNA can exhibit both enzymatic properties, needed for constructing complex proteins, and information storage properties, needed for replication.

    • madamX
      Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      DNA is linear and “one-dimensional” and each of the digits in its code can be easily “accessed” for copying. DNA’s form and chemistry makes it a good molecule for the conservation of information from copy to copy.

      But life also requires molecules that can function and do work like catalyze chemical reactions that build bodies. The active sites of molecules are often composed of bringing together like charges or patches of hydrophobic residues, and the way that molecules do this is by using any of the extra energy that drives their three-dimensional shape to pay for the cost of setting up their active sites. Proteins are awesome at storing functional energy to do work; their form and chemistry make proteins good molecules for building and making up bodies.

      It is hard to imagine one kind of molecule existing without the other kind. But it may not be necessary to do so because of RNA, which has qualities of both kinds. RNA can be both one-dimensional and three-dimensional, and its functions in modern life combined with its ubiquity and history suggest that it (or a molecule like it) may be the answer to the replication/function riddle.

      • Vayaconcarne
        Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the info and link. Looks like a good place to start.

        • Posted January 22, 2012 at 4:39 am | Permalink

          And RNA can and does show catalytic as well as information-carrying functions, but it is far too complex to have arisen without an interesting precursor history.

          The origin of life is an unsolved problem, just as the motion of the planets was at one time an unsolved problem. There are a number of good books discussing the various ideas floating around, e.g. Gen.e.sis by Robt Hazen (as opposed to Genesis by YHWH), and the Emergence of Life on Earth, by Iris Fry. what are other people’s favourites?

  54. articulett
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    So what’s Kuhn’s proposed mechanism for an immaterial being affecting matter– particularly DNA? How does he propose this being can think and plan and create without a material brain? How does Kuhn distinguish this proposed designer from a non-existent being given the slow, wasteful, and less than impressive aspects of it’s purported creations?

    Until Kuh can answer these questions, I fail to see how his conjecture is different than a fairy tale.

  55. Ougaseon
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Are there any creationist “papers” that don’t read like a child’s essay?

    • Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      how, they’re all based on childish magical beliefs?

  56. Posted January 20, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Here is an example of the kind of information, knowledge, experiments and complexity anyone who wants to start to understand biological meatters needs to at least attempt to comprehend. Most won’t and can’t.

    The (false) promise, then, of science journalism and pop science is that this kind of information, ideas and complexity can be made accessible to everyone or even the well educated layman — it can’t.

    For exmple, how many commentators here will even tolerate this brief presentation?

    “How does complexity arise from molecular interactions?”

    “…biology is a hierarchy of organization, eg molecular machines are protein complexes.”

    Effectively, no one wants to deal with this level of detail and complexity. You would think the religious would want to be experts in macromolecules and their processes since they could then better uncover the miracles of their gods and magical events.

    That does NOT happen! lol

  57. Gary Sisco
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Well, he demonstrates very clearly that people who don’t know the science don’t know the science.

    Therefore, the only possible explanation is God did it.

    This is especially true, evidently, for surgeons.

  58. derekw
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Before one can assert that human evolution is impossible, one has to have some idea of the number of relevant genetic changes separating us from our relatives (changes important in our physiological, cognitive, and phenotypic differences), and then show that such changes could not have occurred given estimates of mutation rates and time. Kuhn does not do this, but merely asserts that it couldn’t have happened. He has no idea how many selected changes separate us from our relatives.
    If the creationists want to do some science this is where they should be focusing on. While there has been some banter about evolutionists’ attempt to shoehorn mutation rates to fit into observed time scales there is a little serious research from them to bolster the argument.

  59. Conquistador
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    I have read Kuhn’s paper. After reading Coyne’s article, I don’t believe he even bothered to read the entire paper. He misrepresents what is in Kuhn’s paper and is very sloppy and lazy in challenging the content. He mocks the idea that a medical doctor, well trained in systems theory, physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology may have an informed opinion on the adequacy of Neo-Darwinian theory, or lack thereof. Yet at the same time, Coyne, a geneticist, acts as if his opinion on the Paleontological perspective is somehow more authoritative. WTF?

    As an engineer with an advanced degree in systems theory, I have always been skeptical of Neo-Darwinian theory to adequately explain the system level change in species. It is refreshing to see that M.D.’s are able to appreciate this perspective and weigh in. Biologists and Paleontologists operate in a bubble, and are not well versed at all in the systems level theory and mathematics necessary to formulate and rigorously defend this theory. Thanks to the modern Information Age, Neo-Darwinian theory is now facing the scrutiny that is afforded to the more scientific and mathematically rigorous natural sciences. What we are finding out, inch by inch, is that with Neo-Darwinian theory, the math just is not working out, the scarce lab data that is available contradicts expectations and there is no robust model for accurately predicting evolutionary change in favor of producing new functionality in terms of increasingly complex systems. It can explain some of what we see, but not the whole picture. There is room for additional theory. This is what we saw happen with Newtonian physics. It wasn’t until Relativity and Quantum Physics came along, did we get a more broader picture of what we have going on in our universe.

    I would urge the readers to read Kuhn’s paper. It is actually very well written.

    • microraptor
      Posted January 21, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      If there’s so many flaws, why didn’t you actually list them?

    • madamX
      Posted January 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Dear Engineer with Advanced Degree Who is Well Versed In System Level Changes In Biological Systems,

      Please give just *one* example of a biological system change that cannot be explained by, or is contradictory to, Neo-Darwinian theory. Cite just one of the studies that are showing “inch by inch” that the math is just not working out.

    • Jeff Johnson
      Posted January 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Conquistador,
      You have made a couple of points that have merit, but several that are quite lacking.

      He mocks the idea that a medical doctor, well trained in systems theory, physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology may have an informed opinion on the adequacy of Neo-Darwinian theory, or lack thereof.

      He does not do this at all. There have been medical doctors in the past who have made scientific contributions. What he mocks is the need to tell the story of John Hunter as evidence that Dr. Kuhn has something valid to contribute. This is argument by authority, and is worthy of ridicule. The story of Hunter adds absolutely nothing to Kuhn’s arguments.

      Then you add some representations of your qualifications, again an attempt to establish authority, but no real substance.

      Then you make some claims about challenges to evolutionary theory that at this moment are empty claims with no details to back them. You need to put up or…

      Then you make the one statement that I can agree with:

      There is room for additional theory. This is what we saw happen with Newtonian physics. It wasn’t until Relativity and Quantum Physics came along, did we get a more broader picture of what we have going on in our universe.

      I think any scientist can agree with this remark. This is why science is a successful means of pursuing truth: because it is always ready for new evidence and ideas that contradict, improve, or refine existing theories.

      What Kuhn’s discussion amounts to is this:
      1. There are some questions in evolutionary theory that remain unanswered.
      2. Dr. Kuhn is incapable of imagining that the answers are at all like what the most informed opinion of science currently expects them to be once they are discovered.
      3. Intelligent Design, or god, must therefore be the best answer.

      #1 is true, and natural in scientific progress. Pointing it out does not in any way refute evolution nor does it strengthen the argument for intelligent design or for god.

      #2 is understandable, since Dr. Kuhn is a human of limited intelligence, and can’t be expected to know or understand all that there is to know. Many people do not have the intelligence, knowledge, or powers of visualization needed to really grasp how evolution is possible. This is consistent with the fact that physicists can not really visualize or grasp how subatomic particles and photons can have both wave and particle properties. Yet both in the case of quantum mechanics and evolution, the body of evidence so overwhelmingly confirms the theories, that there is little reason to doubt them. Still, an alternative theory to replace or change the current theory of evolution could come along. But it would need to be scientific: it must be a hypothesis that explains current observed facts, it must make new predictions that can be tested, and if it is to gain acceptance it must pass those tests based on rigorous peer reviewed reproducible experiments. In other words, it must be more closely in agreement with reality than evolution currently is. This is how quantum theory superseded classical Newtonian Mechanics. Keep in mind that quantum theory did not disprove Newton’s laws, it merely demonstrated that there was a range of energy and time scales, not coincidently the ones that correspond to our macroscopic world of daily experience, in which Newton’s laws were a highly accurate approximation, which is why they remain in use.

      #3 is completely absurd, and anyone who can’t recognize it does not really understand science at all.

      Intelligent design would predict a fossil record different from the one we actually observe, so that is a strike against it from the start.

      But also it predicts nothing, it explains nothing. Asserting an intelligence is not a completion of anything, it is point zero of a departure from current scientific theory. You still have all the work ahead of you of determining what the intelligence is, how it works, how it designs and builds things, and finding evidence for your hypotheses. The intelligence to organize chemicals in structures as observed in life could come from some undiscovered property of quarks, or it could relate to dark energy and dark matter, or it could be some property of matter and space that will be discovered by some theory of physics that is a successor to string theory. It could be that tiny ants have assembled all this, like some kind of giant nest or hive. Anything is possible, but nothing is credible unless it explains observation, and predicts things we don’t know, and can be tested.

      Even if after a thousand more years of scientific investigation science discovers that a mysterious “intelligence” guides matter to accelerate the assembly of life forms according to some template, it will be no thanks to intelligent design “theory” because it gives us no details or explanations of the structure or principles or processes involved in the hypothesized intelligence. So all the credit for the resultant knowledge will go to the hard work of countless scientists who understand the difference between reality and the childish speculation of religion.

      This is why scientists scoff at intelligent design. It has no more explanatory power than a four year old’s story about his invisible friend Roger who builds everything. Just try to give one concrete example of a prediction or explanation that results from ID, that does not also result from the child’s story of invisible Roger.

      To dismiss such an empty and trivial idea is not the same as a conspiracy to preserve a failed theory, or a system of elite privilege trying desperately to preserve its power. No, that is a better description of the church.

      It is the paranoid imaginations of creationists and ID advocates that science is a self-reinforcing faith. ID is simply not science, and it is not useful. Scientists are open to meaningful promising ideas that actually have testable explanatory and predictive power.

      So all you need to do is come up with a theory like that and you will be a famous and respected scientist, unlike the clueless advocates of ID who endlessly annoy the world of serious and knowledgable scientists with the tiresome unfounded assertions of irreducible complexity. They are like zombies that have been killed thousands of time but never stop returning to waste the time and energy of those engaged in real scientific progress, and to confuse and misinform the unsuspecting public who does not know any better, and who ought to be able to rely on trustworthy sources of information, but who sadly fall victim to the endless array of charlatans trying to push god onto the long suffering world.

    • Posted January 22, 2012 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      “Let me ask you this, has not hittin’ a bitch been workin’?” – A Pimp Named Slickback on resolving marital conflict, The Boondocks.
      This is Conquistador’s core argument, as it is Kuhn’s and every other ID proponent’s. It is the foundation of ID after all.

  60. Posted January 21, 2012 at 4:12 am | Permalink

    Kuhn said: “Furthermore, Darwinian evolution and natural selection could not have been causes of the origin of life, because they require replication to operate, and there was no replication prior to the origin of life.”

    Coyne replied: “He doesn’t seem to realize that one could consider replication as an essential property of life, and that the ability of replicate would have been strongly selected for among early proto-life forms. The last sentence above is simply gibberish.”

    I don’t understand this criticism of Dr. Kuhn’s point. How can replication be selected for when it seems to me that replication is a prerequisite for anything to be selected?

    Or, like Dr. Kuhn states, how can natural selection and Darwinian evolution act on anything when there is no replication taking place? Kuhn says “prior to the origin of life.” Isn’t he right? Once something is replicating, then natural selection and darwinian processes can work according to theory, but before that, before replication takes place, impossible, right?

    Just wanting some clarification of this criticism. I don’t quite understand it.

    Thanks.

    • Jeff Johnson
      Posted January 21, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      You need to understand something about Abiogenesis. There is a wikipedia page for starters. Or check out “The Emergence of Life on Earth” by Iris Fry.

      My simple minded summary of one possible explanation:

      Imagine a nitrogen and hydrogen rich atmosphere in which the natural bonding properties of elements form more complex molecules. You could think of this set of molecules as a food supply.

      The laws of chemistry make certain combinations more likely than others, so it’s not random at all, as assembly from indistinguishable particles would be. Certain combinations would be more prevalent naturally based on conditions in the environment and the distribution of available elements. Thus natural properties of the environment could “guide” chemical aggregation in a particular “direction” based solely on probability and the laws of physical chemistry.

      Over time many varieties of molecules form, some of which have better bonding properties. These complex molecules “compete” to bond with other molecules in their environment. You could liken this to competing for food consumption.

      Some, due to their structure, would be more successful grazers than others, and at some point a complex compound could arise that is actually able to replicate itself.

      This property would allow it to more successfully compete for chemical bonds with free molecules and elements in the atmosphere. The alternatives it competes with were assembled very slowly and randomly. But this replicating form accelerates the construction of its descendants based on the information contained in its chemical structure. Given the right “food supply”, such a molecule would spread rapidly and become dominant.

      The dominance of this replicating form would be as natural as water flowing downhill is natural. Thus Dr. Coyne’s remark about replication being an essential property of life that was selected for in a pre-life environment of many competing proto-life forms.

      This would be an example of replication and natural selection without cellular life. In this case natural selection actually selected for replication from among many competitors that could not replicate. It is completely a phenomenon of chemicals, and it could be the beginning of a gradual evolution of more and more complex chemical structures, finally resulting in metabolism, replicating polynucleotides, enzymes, and ultimately the prokaryotic cell.

      Then the evolution of life begins.

      Such a process could have happened in countless different ways. There are no known fossils (or few if any) to help us figure it out. The problem is not that we can’t imagine this, as Kuhn seems unable to do. It is that we don’t know what all the possible pathways are, and which of those are the most probable.

      • Posted January 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Jeff for responding.

        I can understand that the laws of chemistry make certain combinations more likely than others, but the problem is that forming bonds will not solve the problem. There has to be a way for the bonds to be preserved as they form because the can dissolve or disintegrate just as easily.
        Imagining a scenario that might or might not work doesn’t exactly impress me. It sounds like something like this could be tested, but if it has, I guess there is no success thus far.
        You said: “Thus natural properties of the environment could “guide” chemical aggregation in a particular “direction” based solely on probability and the laws of physical chemistry.”
        And you think that the particular direction that these chemicals happened to be led in was the one that would lead to life, I guess. OK, if so, what are the chances that of all the different directions the laws of chemistry could lead naturally forming molecules, the direction they lead them in is the one for life? That alone seems pretty incredible. Basically you are saying that life was preprogrammed to happen by the laws of chemistry and that if we could come up with a similar scenario, it would happen again because of the properties of the chemicals and the laws of chemistry. Not impossible, I guess, but hardly likely. Again, it would seem that it should happen again if the chance arises and as far as we know, it has not.
        Then in your hypothetical scenario, all of a sudden we arrive at this sentence: “Some, due to their structure, would be more successful grazers than others, and at some point a complex compound could arise that is actually able to replicate itself.”
        Whoa! Seems too big of a leap to me. What is necessary for something to begin replicating? We’re not talking about a cell here I assume. Just some chemicals that have bonded together. How can inanimate chemicals, chemicals that are not yet alive, begin to replicate? Has this ever been observed in the lab? Where would the necessary information to guide the replicating process come from?
        You lost me here.
        Then it seems that an environment of “many competing proto-life forms” is conjured up and that this replicating molecule would spread rapidly and become dominant. Is this replicating molecule thought to be living? What might this molecule look like? How would it proceed from there to where it comes to life? It makes it sound so simple, but I think we’re glossing over a whole lot of near insurmountable problems.
        “…it COULD BE the beginning of a gradual evolution of more and more complex chemical structures, finally resulting in metabolism, replicating polynucleotides, enzymes, and ultimately the prokaryotic cell. Then the evolution of life begins.”
        Wow. That is a HUGE “IF” or rather “Could Be”.
        “Such a process could have happened in countless different ways.” There are no known fossils (or few if any) to help us figure it out. The problem is not that we can’t imagine this, as Kuhn seems unable to do. It is that we don’t know what all the possible pathways are, and which of those are the most probable.”
        Really? Such as? Obviously imagination is NOT a problem here. The problem is whether the great imagination of evolutionists represents reality or not. At this point, it seems to me to be more a matter of philosophy/faith/worldview as opposed to a scientific issue.

        • Jeff Johnson
          Posted January 23, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

          I don’t pretend to know all the answers. I was suggesting an imaginary scenario that is a very skeletal outline of how we might have gone from a newly formed planet to one with fairly simple organic compounds. Given what we know about evolution, and given what we understand about the geological history of our planet, and about the formation of the solar system, it seems a helpful mental tool for envisioning what general type of lengthy recursive process might have occurred to get to complex replicating organic compounds.

          At one point in the past people imagined that four elements, earth, air, fire, and water composed everything we see. Later some intelligent Greeks hypothesized atoms, but there were many questions they couldn’t answer. Later we discovered many different chemical reactions, and eventually the periodic table, then nuclei and electrons, then quantum theory. So we can answer many more questions today than the epicureans could, but we cannot answer all questions.

          We know the planet formed, and we know that billions of years of evolution occurred, so of course this biochemical progression had a beginning between the formation of the planet and the onset of single-cellular life. In another hundred, of five hundred or a thousand years we will have a vastly improved knowledge of these things.

          There are far less plausible ideas for how it all got started. For example, some people actually believe, brace yourself because it’s shockingly absurd, that 3000 years ago a desert tribe that spilled the blood of goats and sheep to appease a sky god somehow knew more about this than we do today. Somehow these people were able to lay out the final and true explanation for everything. Evidently these simple minded desert folk were looking for one simple explanation that would be the end of questions, the end of learning, the single total explanation that would enable us to stop thinking, stop questioning, and stop learning. This sounds like a difficult task, but they managed to do it. The hypothesized that their sky god Yahweh created everything in 6 days. No more questions need be asked.

          And today many simple minded people are satisfied that this is an explanation. But if you are like me, you can see that this “explanation” explains nothing and opens up a new huge set of questions. How did Yahweh come into being? What energy or techniques did he use to create everything? Where was he located in space when all was created? How does he reach across space and assemble complex molecules from tiny elements? How many at one time can he build? How long does it take him to build one? The questions are actually endless, and the people who believe in this can actually answer none of them, nor can they even suggest a line of inquiry that might begin to yield some answers. The explanations offered by those who believe this are as simple minded and hilarious as the ones a five year old might offer while patiently describing the imaginary world of his fantasy super-heroes and their super-powers.

          So the choice is to either shut off your brain and accept the word of bronze age desert dwellers who burnt animal remains at stone alters, or you can place your confidence in the process of rational inquiry that has yielded countless answers to countless mysteries, and will continue to do so. You can place your confidence in the stories of ignorant primitive people, or you can place your confidence in the process that has enabled us to develop medicine and technology and knowledge that the bronze age desert people could never even imagine.

          It doesn’t take a genius to see which choice is intelligent and which choice is foolish.

        • Carlos
          Posted January 24, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

          Self replicating RNA has been observed in lab conditions.
          Here is one example:

          http://molbio.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/publications/Szostak_pdfs/Adamala_Szostak_2013_Science.pdf

          So I guess it is one less objection for you (the one about self-replicating molecules). Bit by bit (revolutions only happen a few times), that is how science progresses…

  61. derwood
    Posted January 21, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    ” He has no idea how many selected changes separate us from our relatives.”

    None of them do. None of them even try – the rare ones that have been bold enough to attempt to put a number to it have shown how naive and uninformed they are. But this doesn’t stop them from making the claim. Standard arrogant stupidity, as best I can tell.

  62. Posted January 21, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    We not only have transitional fossils, we have transitional organisms. I just discovered that roundworms have hemoglobin but no red blood cells — it’s extracellular. We’re separated by 600 million years and we’re using the same method to carry oxygen.

    • Jeff Johnson
      Posted January 22, 2012 at 2:35 am | Permalink

      Humans are basically a long worm-like tube from mouth to anus with a bunch of extra equipment evolved to surround it. ;)

  63. Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Dr. Coyne — I have learned much from you over the years, and agree with your comments. I have written a follow-up (counterpoint) article on natural selection, which the editors have decided to make available as a preprint before it is published in April. I look forward to your impression of the article. The preprint (with one correction) is available below.

    http://www.baylorhealth.edu/Documents/BUMC%20Proceedings/2012%20Vol%2025/No.%202/25_2_Dimijian%20(1).pdf

    Gregory G. Dimijian, M.D.
    Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
    University of Texas Southwestern Medical School

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      I am just curious why, if this paper is a counterpoint to the Kuhn paper, it doesn’t mention that paper? Surely if your paper was written as a corrective to the misguided ID paper, it should refer to that paper, no? Or wouldn’t the editors let you?

      jac

      • Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        I specifically agreed to write a follow-up paper as a stand-alone paper only, not as just a follow-up to one with so many errors and a creationist viewpoint.

        As the editors mentioned, I nevertheless addressed most of the issues in Kuhn’s paper.

        It was a learning experience for me! (I almost wrote you to suggest you write such a paper for the journal, but I decided that would be presumptuous!)

        Thanks for replying. I look forward to more exchange.

        Greg Dimijian

        • Posted January 26, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

          I am just curious why the journal would publish a paper on evolution from a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry rather than, say… oh, I don’t know… an evolutionary biologist?

          /@

          • Posted January 26, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

            Your point is well taken. As it turns out, even though my academic position is in the Dept. of Psychiatry, I have studied and taught evolutionary theory even since I was a resident in training in psychiatry, and have written extensively on aspects of evolutionary theory. I teach an annual course in behavioral ecology at the med school. That is probably the reason I was asked to contribute an article. Thanks for a good question!

            Greg Dimijian

        • Posted February 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

          Greg, I hope that the BUMC Proceedings will entertain a paper directly rebutting Kuhn’s absurd claims.

    • Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Would be nice to know why the editors published the original paper and if they are taking submissions on the tooth fairy as well.

      Did they tell you or ask for any other conditions on your offering?

      • Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        The Baylor journal (BUMC Proceedings) is really a high-quality publication with excellent articles and papers. This is the first time, to my knowledge, that they have ever published such an unscientific article, and I doubt that they will again in the near future.

        No, I was asked to write a letter or an article to follow up on this article, and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to present natural selection and Darwin in as objective and up-to-date manner as possible. I hope I achieved that goal; I certainly learned a lot in writing it.

        Greg Dimijian 1-24-2012

        • Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

          It’s probably worthwhile to do some forensic work to figure out their motives. Let’s “follow the money” and assume that there is some contributor/alum benefit to publishing these ideological beliefs.

          It seems likely that many big potential donors hold fundamental chrisitan ideologies. That makes sense.

          Institutions pander to big money donors pretty much non-stop. This should be a great fundraising piece for wealthy evangelicals in the south.

          Here’s a question — if this false/lying paper is successful in getting donations for the medical school is that “good?”

  64. Randy Ruggles
    Posted January 26, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I guess the most important thing we’ve learned from this is that Coyne – and every other atheist – can no longer say that creationists don’t publish in peer-reviewed journals.

    • microraptor
      Posted January 26, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Why? That article didn’t come close to passing a scientific peer review.

      • Randy Ruggles
        Posted January 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        Let’s read the title of Coyne’s post:

        “Creationist paper in a medical journal”

        Then, further down we read:

        “… Joseph Kuhn, a surgeon at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, and he’s just published an article in the Proceedings of that center, which I presume is a respectable, PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL.” (emphasis mine)

        If what you claim is true, then the point of Coyne’s article is moot. You can’t have it both ways. Either creationists have published in peer-reviewed journals or this is not a creationist article. Which is it?

        • Posted January 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          Neither. Jerry’s presumption was wrong.

          /@

          • Posted January 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

            * Probably.

            But, Randy, that was a typical false dichotomy you presented there.

        • Jeff Johnson
          Posted January 26, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          Randy,
          This part you left out or your quote is telling:

          Well, it isn’t respectable any more, for Kuhn’s article, ”Dissecting Darwinism” (free at the link), is merely a cobbled-together list of canards from the Discovery Institute (DI). It’s poorly written, dreadful, full of scientific errors, and the journal should not only be ashamed of it, but retract it.

          How dishonest of you to claim that Jerry called the journal respectable. You were trying to invoke the authority of the person you critique to justify your point. And you did that deceitfully. How hypocritical and cheap can you get trying in desperation to scrounge up a shred of respectability for creationism.

          • Randy Ruggles
            Posted January 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

            That didn’t take long. (Atheists are so predictable.) I expected someone to try to claim quote-mining when I left out Coyne’s following sentence of, “Well, it isn’t respectable any more.”

            I left it out because it is irrelevant. Either the journal is peer-reviewed or it isn’t. To claim it is not respectable anymore because it publishes a creationist paper (which Kuhn’s is not, by the way) commits the “No true Scotsman” logical fallacy.

            Atheist: “Creationists don’t publish in peer-reviewed journals.”

            Creationist: “Sure they do. Joseph Kuhn just published a paper in Baylor University Medical Center’s Proceedings.”

            Atheist: “Well … uh, they don’t publish in any REPUTABLE peer-reviewed journals then.”

            You guys are so weak. Try using logic and reason rather dishonesty and obfuscation and maybe your arguments will be taken more seriously.

            • Jeff Johnson
              Posted January 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

              All you have to do is read the paper. Then you can see it has not been reviewed by scientists. It may have been reviewed by peers who are also under the sway of religious belief.

              You may have noticed by now that saying things repeatedly does not make them true. Your claim that Dr. Coyne was contradicting himself is obviously not backed up by a brief inspection of what Dr. Coyne actually wrote (as opposed to the snippet you quoted). Any english speaking human can verify that for themselves.

              Here is another hint for you: pretending that you have some basis for sneering at atheists will not bring God into existence. It just means that you are amusing yourself with empty and misguided hostility.

            • Posted January 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

              No. Well before you came hurtling in armed with snide remarks but little wit, others had already pointed out that Jerry’s presumption was wrong, quite apart from the rider that Jeff quoted. For example, Kevin: “No, it’s not a ‘prestigious’ journal. And it might not even be peer-reviewed.” And eric pointed out: “Since the purpose of [“proceedings”] is to give the reader a summary of what was presented regardless of the quality of the presentations, a lot of crap can creep in.”

              Dishonesty and obfuscation? Pshaw!

              /@

  65. Ian Atkinson
    Posted January 26, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Treating non-peer-reviewed material as scientific fact is lying! ID has little to offer as a hypothesis, but peer reviewed science it is not – and to treat it as such is lying!

  66. Posted February 8, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Could someone actually clarify whether the Kuhn paper was subject to peer-review?

    The paper does not appear to report on any new or novel research by the author, and the presence of palpable errors in the work does not give one any confidence that the paper was subject to the peer review process. That isn’t in itself surprising. Conference proceedings afterall, are not universally subject to peer review and sometimes papers are written at the invitation of editors, bypassing peer-review.

  67. Posted February 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    I am in the process of fraking Kuhn’s article.

    Part 1, and 2 (of 5) are posted to “Stones and Bones”

    I found, “… one could consider replication as an essential property of life, and that the ability of replicate would have been strongly selected for among early proto-life forms.” an interesting idea. But, it begs the question of how replication emerged.

  68. Milton Valler
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi,
    Does anyone know of good rebuttals to Medical Doctors who still embrace creationism?
    Thanks
    Milt. (millvall@hotmail.com)

    Reason: In UK, muslim med students are refusing to even attend classes on evolution, Bcos their religion tells them otherwise. I was looking for reason why it would not be a good thing to issue Med licenses to such students.

    • Nathan
      Posted February 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Medical science does not need to believe in Darwinian (atheistic) evolution to practice medicine

      Most medical doctors are not atheists, therefore why would it be necessary for medical science to embrace methodological naturalism if its not necessary?

      Your an atheist that wants all of science to adhere to the tenets your atheistic dogma.

      • microraptor
        Posted February 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

        Go troll somewhere else.

      • Ian Atkinson
        Posted February 21, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        A troll with poor grammar who thinks there is such a thing as ‘atheistic evolution!’

        Just because a doctor isn’t an atheist, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t accept the fact of Darwinian Evolution. Nor does it mean he’s a frothing fundamentalist fanatic high on endorphins like you Nathan.

        When are you people going to get it into your heads that science must be peer reviewed. It doesn’t matter whether what you say is vouchsafed truth from God, or lies and propaganda from the Discovery Institute. If it’s not peer reviewed, doesn’t predict what we see in nature, isn’t falsifiable, it isn’t science. Hard luck, Nathan – get an education!

        • Nathan
          Posted February 21, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

          Are you the only evolutionist unaware methodological naturalism is the foundation of Darwinian evolution?

          There are only two options for the origins of life & species , intelligent design or methodological naturalism (atheistic evolution). A third hypothesis can not exist.

          By rejecting I.D. you automatically accept naturalism. And Darwinian evolution (all life coming from one cell) has been thoroughly and quietly falsified, it has yet to be made public yet.

          All the “evolution” observed is the selection of highly conserved genes (switching on & off) already on file.

          Selection of the luckiest randomness building new body plans is now clearly understood to be incorrect

          • Ian Atkinson
            Posted February 21, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

            Why are you suddenly knowledgeable about what I know? I haven’t discussed methodological naturalism with you. I have no intention of going into what are and what are not naturalistic assumptions with you – nor am I prepared to discuss whether a male bipedal primate can be constructed from dust and a female from his rib – a very ‘unnaturalistic’ assumption!

            ID has no central mechanism so even if it was a legitimate theory, why would I choose it over a theory that *does* have a working mechanism unless I had a religious reason? There are no reasons whatsoever for anyone to choose ID over Darwinian Evolution except reasons of religion.

            Science doesn’t deal with non-falsifiable concepts, so religion cannot be a factor in a scientific theory. ID is a list of complaints against Darwinian Evolution, most of them out and out lies perpetrated by people who are only ‘scientists’ because that’s what they’ve decided to call themselves. People like Behe who do no real research other than looking through other people’s research for anything that they can cherry pick that might superficially look like it supports ID. His laughable ‘irreducible complexity’ idea fell flat on its face in the Dover trial.

            You, Nathan, are being dishonest and diverting the subject away from the fact that ID is not peer reviewed (the subject of this discussion). You want to discuss things not relevant here because you have no answers to the subject issues. You’re not being slippery and you consider scoring points to be more important than the truth, so I don’t see why I should discus anything further with you.

            And yes, you are a troll! If you want to contemplate something from the Bible, consider: thou shalt not bere false witness!

            • Ian Atkinson
              Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

              Remove the word ‘not’ from before ‘being slippery!’ That’s a mistake.

            • Nathan
              Posted February 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

              1) “ID has no central mechanism so even if it was a legitimate theory”

              Of course it does, its called a cognitive mind + intelligent foresight + the ability to arrange DNA sequences. All of the molecular machines (over 300), and codes that direct them follow design engineering principles

              Craig Venter said in 2011 science will soon build a cell. So in fact the basic hypothesis of I.D. will be validated long before abiogenesis is validated

              2) “why would I choose it over a theory that *does* have a working mechanism unless I had a religious reason?”

              Because you *don’t* have a working mechanism for the origins of life or the origins of radically new body plans. Your mechanisms consist of time & the selection of the luckiest randomness that can not be observed

              Intelligent design does not posit religion, its posits a mind was source of the first life and specific sequence arrangements. Creationism believes God was the designer, I.D. not not identify the designer.

              It is true the vast majority of I.D. proponents are creationists, this however does not make the two terms synonymous. Many agnostics accept I.D. but reject the bible

              3) “ID is a list of complaints against Darwinian Evolution”

              Yes because if only 2 options exist, and option 1 can be categorically rejected, option 2 wins by default. Darwinian evolution can be categorically rejected. The vast majority of proteins can not evolve without destroying functionality. That said I.D. being verified DOES NOT equate GODDIDIT, it only equates a sentient mind using intelligent foresight did it

              4) “People like Behe who do no real research other than looking through other people’s research for anything that they can cherry pick that might superficially look like it supports ID. His laughable ‘irreducible complexity’ idea fell flat on its face in the Dover trial.”

              First I.C. did not fall on its face. I.C. exists in the entire genome not just the flagellum. The ribosomes are 100% conserved in all species and can not evolve without destroying function

              Secondly I.C. is a backwards attempt to verify or falsify evolution. Evolution is not verified by reducing proteins to functional subunits, its verified by creating new, never seen before, functional proteins.

              The UCE have already falsified the theory. Starting a theory of entire system evolutionary change with a myriad of functional proteins that can not evolve is laughable to say the least.

              Lastly quantum physics is proving a mind must exist first before any observable reality can exist. Therefor our universe could never exist unless a mind observed it to exist. An observing mind collapsing the wave function is proving to be the method of creation

              Youtube has some good videos on quantum consciousness

              Here is one “SSE Talks – Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness 1/4″

              • Ian Atkinson
                Posted February 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

                Nathan! You are setting up straw-men! You know that Abiogenesis is not a theory and is beyond the scope of Darwinian Evolution. You know that DE works on populations, not single cells – where would a single cell suddenly appear from? Even the biological complexes that came before cells must have been in populations. Why the lies? Quantum Mechanics? More mud to throw in the water? You read too much new age nonsence – it will be tarot cards next – Anything to avoid answering the pertinent questions!

                You’re not addressing valid points that people are putting to you. Here’s more points for you to dishonestly ignore; if this intelligent mind you’re talking about is not a deity, what is it? Why do you *want* an intelligent mind in the works when natural selection is sufficient. The layout of the CPU in your computer was designed by a Darwinian algorithm – they work! They can be used to design all sorts of things without any intelligence at all.

                ID lost in the Dover trials. If it cannot produce a coherent scientific theory that:-

                (i) predicts what is seen in nature,

                (ii) is based on empirical evidence,

                (iii) excludes non-falsifiable ideas,

                it will not pass any peer review.

                Stop lying about what ‘scientists are discovering.’ They’re not scientists if they’re on the payroll of religious organisation. They’re not scientist if they start out with the express purpose of including non-falsifiable concepts.

                Being a Creationist is the mark a poor education. Being an educated creationist is the mark of a liar! If I was you, Nathan, I would look deeper past the religion to the money and power, and you will see the old Ku Klux Klan fascism sitting in the background.

              • Nathan
                Posted February 22, 2012 at 12:59 am | Permalink

                “You know that Abiogenesis is not a theory and is beyond the scope of Darwinian Evolution”

                Of course, I also know without verifying abiogenesis, methodological naturalism can not be verified. Naturalists observe minor variations within species and extrapolate the entire system can and did evolve from the bottom up. Even though every species has specific functional UCE that can not evolve.

                —-

                “where would a single cell suddenly appear from?”

                From an intelligent designer, why is this so difficult to accept?. If we found just one pyramid on another planet that was built exactly like the ones in Egypt your mind would have no problem at all accepting I.D. Your problem is not with I.D., Your problem is with God.

                “Even the biological complexes that came before cells must have been in populations. Why the lies?”

                This is your evolutionary presupposition without evidence. Craig Venter said in Feb 2011 science will eventually design and build a cell. The key will be understanding the languages in DNA & RNA

                Its going to be quite funny to watch a cell being intelligently designed by the same scientists who claim intelligent design is not science.

                “Quantum Mechanics? More mud to throw in the water? You read too much new age nonsence – it will be tarot cards next – Anything to avoid answering the pertinent questions!”

                Woefully incorrect. I suggest you study this before you make these statements. All of your natural laws fall apart at the quantum level.

                Remember what you said

                “Quantum Mechanics?… You read too much new age nonsence – it will be tarot cards next”

                The “skeptical mind” labels anything it can’t understand as nonsense or supernatural. Trust me, science does not consider quantum mechanics as “nonsense”

                “You’re not addressing valid points that people are putting to you. Here’s more points for you to dishonestly ignore”

                What points? You have made no points to be addresses.

                “if this intelligent mind you’re talking about is not a deity, what is it? Why do you *want* an intelligent mind in the works when natural selection is sufficient”

                “What is it” is of no relevance to the inquiry of I.D. , Science is littered with philosophers that think they can, and will answer every question posed to them. The fact that the universe is incredibly fined tuned for life strongly suggest the designer would most likely be a God.

                Its been know for years selection decreases diversity in a species, it does not increase it. Selection increases variations in the population but it decreases variations. This is the opposite direction your mechanisms predict.

                “The layout of the CPU in your computer was designed by a Darwinian algorithm – they work! They can be used to design all sorts of things without any intelligence at all”

                Algorithms are highly conserved programs that do what they are programmed to do. Try evolving the source codes in the algorithms then tell me how your evolution is doing.

                Also algorithms can do nothing unless they are being run on a conserved PC. I reiterate, naturalists must start their theory (of entire system change) with a myriad of functional conserved elements already firmly established.

                It is impossible to evolve the algorithm its self and the PC it is run on. You cant “evolve” any entire system that requires functional conserved elements. And all systems must have conserved (can not evolve) functional elements or the system will never be stable enough for repetition

                —-

                “ID lost in the Dover trials. If it cannot produce a coherent scientific theory that:- (i) predicts what is seen in nature, (ii) is based on empirical evidence”

                I.D. lost in Dover for one reason, and the Judge is on record saying it. Because the evolutionist were successful in convincing the Judge I.D. equates religious creationism. Which is a lie

                Creationism identifies the designer as the God of the bible (Jews, Christians & Muslims) all others that believe in I.D. but not the bible are not creationists. True the vast majority of I.D. proponents are creationists but this is because it comprises the tree major religions in one group.

                The intelligent design camp in Dover did a terrible job

                Also Bruce Alberts president of the National Academy of Sciences from 1993 to 2005

                said in an article titled “The Cell as a Collection of Protein Machines: Preparing the Next Generation of Molecular Biologists.”

                [paraphrased] “Biology must incorporate design engineering principles into the curriculum to get to the “next level” of understanding.”

                So biology is turning to intelligently designed systems to better help them understand how biological systems work

                Quite ironic

                —-

                “(iii) excludes non-falsifiable ideas”

                This one always makes me LOL

                Science rejects God on the basis he is unfalsifiable, yet are forced by intelligent designs main argument for design (teleological) to believe an equally unfalsifiable multiverse hypothesis just to explain the fine tuning problem.

                Science breaks falsification all the time, its only used by naturalists to keep God out.

                —-

                “Stop lying about what ‘scientists are discovering.’ They’re not scientists if they’re on the payroll of religious organisation. They’re not scientist if they start out with the express purpose of including non-falsifiable concepts. Being a Creationist is the mark a poor education. Being an educated creationist is the mark of a liar! If I was you, Nathan, I would look deeper past the religion to the money and power, and you will see the old Ku Klux Klan fascism sitting in the background.”

                That is nothing but rambling nonsense.

                Creationisms predictions are being verified. All human ancestry ends 6000 years ago

                “Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans” Douglas L. T. Rohde

                “Family tree shows our common ancestor lived just 3,500 years ago” Michael Hopkin

                No coincidence all written languages and recorded history do not exceed 4000 B.C.

                A more pertinent question is why do you have such a difficult time accepting what looks, walks & talks like a duck, might be a duck

                “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose” Dawkins

          • Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

            Nathan, I assure you I have no HbS “on file”, and I’m more susceptible to Malaria than someone who does.

            • Nathan
              Posted February 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

              “Nathan, I assure you I have no HbS “on file”, and I’m more susceptible to Malaria than someone who does”

              Of course, I never said “evolution” is false, I said Darwinian evolution (billions of new species & proteins from one cell) is false.

              The genome does contain a highly sophisticated environmentally induced adaptation mechanism. But the “evolution” observed is limited to adaptation of the organism and variations within family groups. Living fossil all though Cambrian have proven radical changes to phenotypes never take place.

              “The Biological Big Bang model for the major transitions in evolution.” Koonin

              • Posted February 21, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

                How do you account for extinction? Mind you, if you start talking about convergence, you’re quickly back to something that looks an awful lot like “macro-evolution”, which is what you say can’t happen.

              • Nathan
                Posted February 21, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

                “How do you account for extinction? Mind you, if you start talking about convergence, you’re quickly back to something that looks an awful lot like “macro-evolution”, which is what you say can’t happen’

                I’M an old earth creationist that believes in several cataclysmic events

                Up to 96% of all species went extinct according to Benton.

                “Ecosystem remodelling among vertebrates at the Permian–Triassic boundary in Russia” M. J. Benton

                The fossil record clearly shows more than one cataclysmic flood/rapid death by sedimentation. Creationism has no problem explaining mass extinctions.

                I have no idea why you would think convergence is evidence of macro-evolution. Macro-evolution is large changes in the exact same species/family slowly developing over time. Not the same features existing in unrelated species.

                And it impossible for the fossil record to verify evolution. The “evidence” for evolution in the fossil record is like putting a orange between a lemon and a grapefruit and claiming evidence a lemon will become a grapefruit. This is not evidence of evolution

                It is only at the molecular level that protein evolution can be verified. And this is failing miserably

              • Posted February 21, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

                No, I mean if you think that the larger families (do you mean reptiles vs mammals for instance?) are fixed in their phenotypes, and ultimately in their genotypes, with some allowance for minor changes and you accept the past extinction of such groups, how do you propose new groups arose? Or did we just start with lots and we’re counting down to zero? Did members of remaining groups adapt to the point that they started to look like something different even though they really weren’t (a full accounting by that means starts to look an awful lot like evolution)? Or did the universe simply run backwards for a few moments while energy and information were added to the whole system to make these new forms by intervention of an external agent? I’ll need some experimental proof for that last point if you claim it, since physics doesn’t seem to allow that sort of thing.

      • Posted February 21, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        Evolution is “atheistic” in the same way that plumbing is, or auto-mechanics is atheistic.

        Physicians are largely unconcerned with why a medicine works, so long as it does work. This has created a problem; the improper use of antibiotics has ignored evolutionary theory. The consequence is an impending crisis of antibiotic resistant pathogens. Typically, physicians and their patients will depend on real scientists to save them. I used to say that MD meant “masters in diseasiology,” rather than a real doctorate. Few of my medical students realized I wasn’t kidding.

        • Nathan
          Posted February 21, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

          “Evolution is “atheistic” in the same way that plumbing is, or auto-mechanics is atheistic”

          You understand there is more than one type of evolution. Evolution that needs no intelligent designer is absolutely atheistic evolution, and this is the type of evolution science had adopted.

          Therefore evolution without an intelligent designer is atheistic

          • Posted February 21, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

            You misunderstand. Evolution “that needs no intelligent designer is absolutely” the evolution that has happened. This is still not a compelling rejection of deism, merely literalism.

            • Nathan
              Posted February 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

              “You misunderstand. Evolution “that needs no intelligent designer is absolutely” the evolution that has happened. This is still not a compelling rejection of deism, merely literalism’

              Incorrect. The only thing that can prove no intelligent designer is needed is abiogenesis.

              Naturalists smugly jump right over the origins of life and claim no designer is needed. There is a massive gaffe in logic and reason there

              And in all honesty, anyone that knows the cell is comprised of over 300 highly conserved molecular machines and multiple overlapping codes to instruct them and still believes chemical reactions can create it, is incapable of evaluating the evidence properly

              Also anyone that believes a God/designer does exist yet believes chemical reactions and natural forces is the best explanation to create the complex cell is not thinking rationally.

              Why would I believe natural undirected forces is the best method to create a PC program or machinery if a PC programmer or engineer exists. Its an irrational position to take.

              The fact is constant evolutionary change (atheistic evolution) is incapable of creating functional conserved elements. This is why naturalists must start their theory with functional conserved (can not evolve) elements already in existence.

              Evolution has no explanation for functional conserved elements. Intelligent design on the other hand explains UCE perfectly because all intelligently designed system must have functional elements that can not be changed for system stability. The similarities between the genome and I.D. systems is blatant.

        • FrankS
          Posted February 26, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

          “Physicians are largely unconcerned with why a medicine works, so long as it does work”.

          This disaster is repeated in different fields e.g. in engineering, leaded gasoline (to solve immediate engineering issue of engine knocking) at the expense of lead poisoning; ecological disasters due to introduced fauna to “solve” an apparent issue etc.

          Are there other kinds of quick cures in medicine that are problematic in the long-term? e.g. routine MRI for any traffic accidents; over-prescribed cancer screenings etc. How about statins for people over 50, regardless of health?

    • Posted February 20, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      Docs can believe all kinds of crazy sh*t and still practice good clinical medicine, just like biochemists, microbiologists, engineers, etc. can narrowly adhere to the standards of their fields and do OK while holding bizzare beliefs. However, I can give you a good reason medical students should understand evolution. A logical, consistent model helps you understand physiology and pathophysiology. Evolution provides such a model. Otherwise you must simply recall the clotting cascade, hemoglobinopathies, and the process of septic shock as sets of disconnected facts – ID won’t help you with that. Still possible, but not ideal

      • Nathan
        Posted February 21, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

        Your reply to me had no reply button, so I had to reply to a different post you made.

        I believe God created family groups with many variations. For example only one set of canines were created with many variations that were eventually selected out to produce all breeds of dogs.

        This seems to fit the evidence that selection is decreasing diversity.

        I also believe in two separate creation events. Neanderthals along with other species were created long before Adam & Eve. That earth age was destroyed and God by a flood and a new creation event started 6000 years ago

        This also fits the evidence

        “Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans” Douglas L. T. Rohde

        Solomon spoke of the ancient times before us (humans) in Ecc

      • Nathan
        Posted February 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

        Correction

        “I also believe in two separate creation events. Neanderthals along with other species were created long before Adam & Eve. That earth age was destroyed by God by a flood and a new creation event started 6000 years ago”

        • microraptor
          Posted February 21, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

          You believe there was a creation event in the middle of the Sumerian Empire?

          • Nathan
            Posted February 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

            Find me any recorded history that predates 4000 B.C. The oldest records that I know of, including written languages are less than 6000 years old

            Molecular biology is also confirming this date of 4000B.C. for both the matrilineal and patrilineal MRCA of all humans alive today

            “Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans” Douglas L. T. Rohde

            “If a common ancestor of all living humans is defined as an individual who is a genealogical ancestor of all present-day people, the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) for a randomly mating population would have lived in the very recent past.. ..Here we show that recent common ancestors also emerge from two models incorporating substantial population substructure. One model, designed for simplicity and theoretical insight, yields explicit mathematical results through a probabilistic analysis. A more elaborate second model, designed to capture historical population dynamics in a more realistic way, is analysed computationally through Monte Carlo simulations. These analyses suggest that the genealogies of all living humans overlap in remarkable ways in the recent past. In particular, the MRCA of all present-day humans lived just a few thousand years ago in these models. Moreover, among all individuals living more than just a few thousand years earlier than the MRCA, each present-day human has exactly the same set of genealogical ancestors.

            —-

            http://www.nature.com/news/200­­­4/040927/full/news040927-10.­h­t­ml

            “Family tree shows our common ancestor lived just 3,500 years ago” Michael Hopkin

            “The most recent common ancestor of all humanity lived just a few thousand years ago, according to a computer model of our family tree. Researchers have calculated that the mystery person, from whom everyone alive today is directly descended, probably lived around 1,500 BC in eastern Asia”

            “Besides dating our most recent common ancestor, Rohde’s team also calculates that in 5,400 BC everyone alive was either an ancestor of all of humanity, or of nobody alive today. The researchers call this the ‘identical ancestors’ point: the time before which all the family trees of people today are composed of exactly the same individuals”

            I do believe a civilization existed before 4000B.C. however I do not believe we are in any way related to them, and the fact recorded history does not predate this time is no coincidence

            • microraptor
              Posted February 22, 2012 at 12:48 am | Permalink

              Nate, you’re citing a computer simulation that’s looking at the LCA for current, 21st Century populations that have had been undergoing significant levels of gene transfer for several centuries (and, incidentally, your link is bad). It’s not accounting for how remotely related populations were prior to Europeans arriving in Australia and the Americas and beginning to interbreed with those groups.

              And you do know that actual DNA from individuals much older than 6000 years has been recovered, sequenced, and shown to be related to existing human populations, right?

              • Nathan
                Posted February 22, 2012 at 1:13 am | Permalink

                “It’s not accounting for how remotely related populations were prior to Europeans arriving in Australia and the Americas and beginning to interbreed with those groups. And you do know that actual DNA from individuals much older than 6000 years has been recovered, sequenced, and shown to be related to existing human populations, right?”

                I’M not a young earth creationist, I do not believe the earth or species are only 6000 years old. I believe Adam & Eve are only 6000 years old. Neanderthals predate them.

                The point being is all modern human ancestry ends 6-7000 years ago, meaning any “human” alive before 5000 B.C. were not related to anyone alive today.

                That is what this is saying

                “Besides dating our most recent common ancestor, Rohde’s team also calculates that in 5,400 BC everyone alive was either an ancestor of all of humanity, or of nobody alive today” Michael Hopkin

      • Nathan
        Posted February 21, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

        Amendment

        “This seems to fit the evidence that selection is decreasing diversity”

        Meant

        Selection is decreasing variations within species, proving selection can not, and does not increase a species variations.

        Selection DOES create greater diversity in the population giving the initial illusion of evolution, but its all comes from highly conserved pre-written latent variations that become visible by selection

        • whyevolutionistrue
          Posted February 22, 2012 at 3:40 am | Permalink

          Okay Nathan, you are now required, before I allow you to post further, to give us the evidence for the deity you believe in. (This is a customary request for religious trolls.) Why are you so sure there is a God?

          EVIDENCE, please?

    • microraptor
      Posted February 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      Ask them what antibiotic they prescribe for treating infections.

    • Posted February 21, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      The “Muslim students boycott classes” was exposed as a gross exaggeration.

      And, as a former medical prof, students 30 years ago, and today skip any lectures that will not be directly relevant to their licensing examinations. I once mentioned that “the rest of the lecture won’t be on the exam,” and 75 out of 100 of the students got up and walked up. (Yes, I changed the exam).

  69. Ian Atkinson
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    Nathan still hasn’t explained why he wants there to be an intelligent designer.

  70. Ian Atkinson
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    The empirical evidence that proves Nathan wrong.

    1. Fossil record.

    2. Vestigial organs.

    3. Quirks of development.

    4. Living structures that do not follow design logic.

    5. Biogeography.

    Everything that Nathan has offered so far has been non-empirical and ephemeral. He has still not given a working mechanism for ID. He offered quantum mechanics as an explanation but gave no clue as to what aspects of quantum mechanics operate as intelligence, nor how this would impress an intelligent design on DNA. All the solid evidence is on the side of Darwinian Evolution and his statements regarding a 6000 year time scale are just ludicrous.

    There really is no point in discussing anything with him. If he cannot get the evidence he needs, he is quite prepared to lie or use discredited data. I should imagine the person he lies to the most is himself.


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