Bizarre endorsements of Meyer’s intelligent-design book

The Discovery Institute (DI) is really in a frenzy trying to sell Stephen Meyer’s new book, Darwin’s Doubt, showing that God an Intelligent Designer was responsible for the Cambrian Explosion of animal phyla, for there’s just no way in hell that natural processes, including mutations and natural selection, could have done it. (To see the problems with the book, have a look at Nick Matzke’s review at Panda’s Thumb.)

The way the DI flogs Meyer’s book is familiar: they line up a bunch of scientists who have no expertise in paleobiology (the book’s topic) but are either creationists or friendly to religion, and have them endorse Darwin’s Doubt.  You’re going to see this at their websites over the next few months, and it will be good for a lot of laughs—but also for some chagrin. We have examples of each today.

The laughs involve a biophysicist who, of course, knows a ton about the Cambrian explosion, an emeritus (i.e., retired) professor at Cal State Long Beach. The DI gives his endoresement in their article: “More Scientists Endorse Darwin’s Doubt: Meet Biologist Mark C. Biedebach. Biedbach says this, among other things,

Stephen C. Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt is a truly remarkable book. Tightly woven in its 413 pages of text are four interrelated arguments. With 753 references, he presents evidence of the serious weaknesses in materialistic theories of biological evolution, and positive evidence for the theory of intelligent design. What are those weaknesses?

First, according to Meyer, no neo-Darwinian (or other alternative materialistic) mechanism has any conceivable way to search the vast number of possible combinations of coded symbols that could generate the complex types of functional genes and proteins found in living organisms. . .

. . . If one is to believe that each new phylum that suddenly appeared during the Cambrian explosion arrived by the process of neo-Darwinian evolution, then at least some transitional fossils (of the multitude that should have existed from the three Precambrian phyla) ought to have been found by now. According to Meyer, none have been found.

Meyer asserts that those who believe neo-Darwinian (or any other conceivable materialistic) processes provide a satisfactory explanation for the existence of life on earth must invariably resort to a metaphysical assertion known as methodological naturalism. This is the view that it is possible to explain all features and events that occur in the natural world by reference to exclusively natural causes. (This has sometimes been called “exclusionary methodological naturalism,” because a purposive intelligence, mind, or conscious agency is excluded as a cause.)

But Meyer argues that to restrict methodological naturalism in such a way renders one blind to the possibility that intelligent design is the best, most causally adequate explanation for the origin of the new information necessary for new cellular network circuitry or a new body plan (whenever previous transitional fossils do not exist).

Well, that’s the standard ID line. This “blurb” is just a regurgitation of what’s in the book, with no critical judgment. So be it. But I’m wondering if Biedebach even wrote it all himself, for it sounds like standard DI boilerplate, and Biedebach’s video below shows some worrisome behavior that might reflect on his judgment.

Who is Biedbach?  As far as I can see from his writings on the internet, he’s certainly a believer in intelligent design (ID), if not an old-earth creationist. Here’s his biography from the American Institute of Science and Technology Education, an organization that welcomes “nonconsensus” views in science, including intelligent design and the denial of global warming.

Note what his new book is about.

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 9.29.24 PM

Here’s Biedebach’s muddled manuscript (apparently unpublished) on “Evolution vs. creation,” which shows that he’s certainly an ID advocate, but may also be an old-earth creationist. Biedebach has also written about how some aspects of nature, such as homing in the loggerhead turtle, show indisputable proof for an Intelligent Designer.

Finally, of course, behind it all is religion. If you can bear to watch this video, called “Brother Mark Biedebach expresses the importance of having a prayer book,” on the Grace and Truth Gospel Church channel, see who the Discovery Institute gets to endorse its books.  The video makes me cringe.  Would you trust this man to evaluate a book on the Cambrian explosion?

*****

What should cause us chagrin is that Meyer’s book has also been endorsed by a scientist who is apparently compos mentis, Dr. George Church of Harvard University. Church is famous for helping invent DNA sequencing technology, helping launch the Human Genome Project, and inventing many other techniques for genetic engineering. He’s clearly a very good scientist, though I don’t see any particular expertise in paleobiology. Nevertheless, he’s actually blurbed the book for the DI! Here’s his blurb from the cover:

Stephen Meyer’s new book Darwin’s Doubt represents an opportunity for bridge-building, rather than dismissive polarization — bridges across cultural divides in great need of professional, respectful dialog — and bridges to span evolutionary gaps.

Really, Dr. Church? Do you seriously think that invoking a creator is going to fill the gaps in our understanding of the Cambrian explosion?  But Church’s endorsement shouldn’t be too surprising, because he’s previously shown sympathy for intelligent design. The link that gives his blurb also notes his previous osculation of ID. (The emphases are on the Discovery Institute website; I’m not sure if they’re Church’s or the DI’s.)

As a scientific discipline, many people have casually dismissed Intelligent Design without carefully defining what they mean by intelligence or what they mean by design. Science and math have long histories of proving things, and not just accepting intuition — Fermat’s last theorem was not proven until it was proven. And I think we’re in a similar space with intelligent design.

and

The ribosome, both looking at the past and at the future, is a very significant structure — it’s the most complicated thing that is present in all organisms. Craig does comparative genomics, and you find that almost the only thing that’s in common across all organisms is the ribosome. And it’s recognizable; it’s highly conserved. So the question is, how did that thing come to be? And if I were to be an intelligent design defender, that’s what I would focus on; how did the ribosome come to be?

On this site I’ve criticized Church for his blatant accommodationism, his claims that the overlap between science and religion is “vast and fertile,” and his argument that science itself involves faith. The latter claim is bogus, of course: science doesn’t involve faith (which really means “belief in a proposition without sufficient evidence to command rational assent”), but confidence.  We don’t start out with a faith that the natural world is comprehensible; rather, we have experience showing that that is comprehensible, and that the comprehension has come only from naturalism and materialism. Religious faith doesn’t tell us anything verifiable about reality. Church’s use of the word “faith” as a trait of scientists has only one aim: to give religion unwarranted credibility by letting it engage in frottage with science.

Church has long been an enabler of religion, though I can’t discover what his personal beliefs are. Perhaps he’s just a faitheist. Regardless, I wish that some science reporter (are you listening, Faye Flam?) would interview Church and pin him down on his views on ID.  Does he really think that an intelligent designer is responsible for creating the phyla during the Cambrian explosion? If so, what kind of evidence would support that claim? I suspect, though, that he’d either refuse such an interview or, when pressed, waffle on his views.

Scientists like Church puzzle me. How can someone so smart be so blind? He should be ashamed of himself. He doesn’t use gaps in our knowledge about the structure of the genome as evidence for God.

59 Comments

  1. Richard Page
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    First, where has the DI ever carefully defined what they mean by intelligence or what they mean by design?

    Second, neither of these guys is named Steve.

  2. Posted June 28, 2013 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    As a scientific discipline, many people have casually dismissed Intelligent Design without carefully defining what they mean by intelligence or what they mean by design.

    Given that the IDists haven’t done that themselves (except in church, when they think no one’s looking), why shouldn’t ID be dismissed “as a scientific discipline”?

    • Posted June 28, 2013 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      ….and the first two comments both point out the obvious!

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted June 28, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      In fairness, they have been very careful about defining what ID is not. It is not Creationism, and it is not religion.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted June 28, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        Judge Jones found otherwise.

      • Posted June 28, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

        Indeed. Of course it’s creationism: the Lord creates to fill in the gaps that can’t be bridged by materialistic science. And of course it’s based on religion, not only as Judge Jones found, but because of tons of other evidence I’ve provided (Wedge document, statements by ID proponents like Dembski and Jon Wells, etc. etc. etc.)

        Anybody who believes that DI’s definition about what ID is and is not hasn’t looked at the evidence!

      • Posted June 28, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        You’re being sarcastic, right?

        One is reminded of the quip (attributed to Abraham Lincoln) about a dog having five legs — if you define a tail as a leg.

        • Reginald Selkirk
          Posted June 28, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

          You’re being sarcastic, right?

          Right. Thank you for asking.

        • Desnes Diev
          Posted June 28, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          Reginald Selkirk may be sarcastic but the entry for ID in the creationwiki is really ironic (http://creationwiki.org/Intelligent_design#Examples_of_ID):
          “ID is a unique scientific position that stands in stark contrast to naturalistic, materialistic philosophy of science which puts forth abiogenesis rather then intelligent agents as the main mechanism that created biological systems for sustaining life. It can also clearly be distinguished from religious creationism in that it stakes no claim regarding the specific identity of the creator, nor does it use references from scripture when forming theories about the history of the world”
          Below, in the “Fibonacci Sequence” example (sic) of ID:
          “God has arranged sunflower seeds without gaps in the most efficient way by forming two spirals”.

          The identity of the creator shall remain secret… but it is God, OK.

          Desnes Diev

          • Posted June 28, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

            Yeah, well: these clowns never could stay on-message (see: pretty much any local school board that wanted to inject ID into classes as science, but can’t resist lapsing into Jesus-talk within 10 minutes or so).

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted June 28, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

            Ugh enough with Fibonacci series, religious people! Even the Ancient Greeks were all about this. They based the seating at the theatre of in Asclepius in Ephesus it because it was supposed to help in healing. I wish we were past that magical thinking altogether by now.

      • Marella
        Posted June 28, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        If ID isn’t religion then they must be postulating aliens, who pop by our planet every now and again to meddle with things and create the Cambrian explosion for example. It’s either gods or aliens, so if it isn’t gods, it’s aliens. I’d love to hear an explanation of how aliens are guiding life on Earth!

  3. docbill1351
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Ha! The AISTE is Carolyn Crocker’s fake-ish company!

    Remember Crocker? She got her tail in a crock by teaching a crock of “my pappy ain’t no monkey” dung at George Mason University, getting a reprimand for that and having her contract not renewed. She wasn’t fired, rather, she was on contract to teach introductory biology.

    She’s one of the famous nixpelled from the Ben Stein movie “EXPELLED!” Later, Crocker took over directing the IDEA Clubs for the Disco Tute but left that position after only a few months probably because there were no IDEA Clubs to direct.

  4. docbill1351
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    There is all the appearance of design in the recent flurry of 5-star reviews on the Amazon page for “Darwin’s Doubt.” I doubt they are genuine reviews. One might hypothesize that the Disco Tute brought in a church group to have a “review writing party” as the ratings had stalled out at 14 5-star and 14 1-star reviews.

    It’s just a silly game but what else does the Disco Tute have to do with their time?

    • Richard Page
      Posted June 28, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      I think they have couple of other divisions trying to figure out a trickle-down funding formula for monorails. Or something.

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I am very curious about Dr. Church’s personal beliefs as well. I’ll resist my joke about his name being “Church” but it does appear as though he’s a faithist in some strange attempt to try to bring people of faith into acceptance of science but of course what he really does is give credence to their bad ideas. This indeed is sad and I hate that these people sully all that is so awesome about the Cambrian Explosion.

  6. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Jerry Coyne, I suppose I must ask if by “frottage” you mean non-penetrative sexual activity or the school of Surrealist art, or both? (Both work well here. It’s a pretty cool double metaphor actually.)

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      I had to look that word up but now I know a “classier” way of referring to all those activities. :)

  7. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    The ribosome, both looking at the past and at the future, is a very significant structure…

    Yes, yes it is. For the structure of the ribosome shows it to be, at its core, an RNA enzyme. This was a very important finding for origin of life studies, as it provides powerful evidence for the RNA World theory. Doe Frank Church not know that? What rock has he been hiding under for the last ~15 years?

    And of course, there have been many studies centered on how the ribosome came to be; studies that do not involve supernatural designers. Here’s just one:
    A hierarchical model for evolution of 23S ribosomal RNA, Bokov & Steinberg 2009, doi:10.1038/nature07749.

  8. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    And if I were to be an intelligent design defender, that’s what I would focus on; how did the ribosome come to be?

    Probably not. As an ID defender, his position would probably be that the ribosome was magically created; er, designed. Therefore he would expect a lack of evolutionary intermediates. How do you look for a lack? This is a classic argument from ignorance, and the person who believes in a lack is less motivated to look than a person who believes he will actually find intermediates. More likely if he were an ID defender, he would sit on his Behe and write books about how real researchers are not likely to find anything.

    • docbill1351
      Posted June 28, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      How do you look for a lack?

      Well, first you get a lackey …

      then at least some transitional fossils (of the multitude that should have existed from the three Precambrian phyla) ought to have been found by now.

      Failing that you just make stuff up. Yeppers, multitudes, I tell ye, and they should have been found by now, by cracky, I mean, by lackey!

  9. Richard Page
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Could Church be the mysterious Mike Gene?

  10. Dan
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Maybe ‘The Blind Watchmaker’ can save them….

    One can hope…………

  11. Taylor M. Brown
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    It’s odd that those most vehement in their denial of evolution often appear the most ape-like…

    Why did Dr. Biedebache (fun name to say, by the way) live be a healthy looking 81? Because “[he] just feel[s] that God has a lot left for [him] too do.”

    Well, that really is the embodiment of narcissism. God wants ME to thrive. As for all those suffering untold misery in the world, well, God’s plan for them just isn’t as grandiloquent. Their apparent purpose is to live a short short life–addicted to industrial glue–eat garbage, and then die.

    What a terrific, benevolent God to worship. One bereft of even a basic understanding of economic distribution.

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted June 28, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      “Well, that really is the embodiment of narcissism.”

      Absolutely. That’s what’s so great about God – he validates all MY choices. I find gays icky, God finds gays icky and the Bible proves I’m right. Of course, the Bible also says that bacon is icky, but I know God doesn’t really feel like that because God made bacon so darned tasty.

      • Taylor M. Brown
        Posted June 28, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        I just don’t understand how they can’t see this. They don’t see that by claiming God favors them that means He must be blatantly letting others suffer. Just another facet of the religious worldview, I guess. Moreover, another reason why religion is detrimental to the construction of a reasonable society. How can you generate a valid understanding of the world–or of other people, for that matter–if you refuse to step out of your own ethnocentric view of the world? By accepting faith as a reasonable practice we are tacitly supporting people who go around claiming that “my way is that right way, and I am right to believe it.” Every time faith is left uncriticized we justify their supposed right to think in this way. If someone were to go around shouting, “I’m a conservative, and I believe that without conservatives the world would degenerate into unsequestered madness,” and that, “all liberals are moral monsters who want to unleash the world into a wilderness of moral chaos,” would we just stand by and watch? No. We wouldn’t. We’d probably have a few questions for them that didn’t stop at the mere mention of an old book. This is one of the most divisive aspects of religion, for sure.

        • Posted June 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          Same reasons a hoarder keeps piling on the stuff, ignores the smell of dead animals…it’s all hard to believe humans can self-delude so severely, but it’s really a matter of degree.

          One block over, a house no one suspected had hoarders inside. When they died or whatever, a horrid smell and the County was called. So much overflowed sewage, the floors had to be ripped out, not to mention stuff piled to the ceiling…everywhere. It took a hazmat crew two months.

          • Taylor M. Brown
            Posted June 29, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

            Ew.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 28, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Biedebache is a fun name to say. Maybe we’ve said it too many times and he showed up like Beetle Juice. :)

      There is almost a solipsistic theme to that is pretty cringe worthy to all of us on the outside.

      • Taylor M. Brown
        Posted June 28, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Yes. An abhorrent amount of solipsism, I agree.

    • Notagod
      Posted June 28, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Biedebache sounded to me like he had a bit of the jesus juice prior to the sermon.

  12. Posted June 28, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    !4.

  13. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    So that was why George Church surfaced yesterday, along with Shapiro. As I noted then, in a -07 discussion on Edge where Church osculates ID (which is why I don’t link to it), he and Shapiro raises the equivalent to the old cell ‘too large to have evolved’ idea.

    Freeman et al points out that most large systems have parts that have been repurposed by evolution. The IDiots didn’t seem fit to mention that Church and Shapiro seemed to accept that possible pathway, and I suspect they have a cherry-pick from the article that festers on the web.

    Indeed, as Reginald Selkirk points out, this is what people published on a few years after the article came out. IIRC the preserved ribozyme center is functional without all the other functionality evolution added under billions of years. And as it turns out, the proposed pathways that lead up to that center involves repurposing in one way or other.

    So if the IDiots and accommodationists use the ribosome as the new cell (‘too large to evolve’) or the new flagella (‘too complex to evolve’), they are just futilely barking up the old tree. Meanwhile the cat is elsewhere.

    • Draken
      Posted June 28, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Why, the cat’s here on WEIT of course.

  14. Posted June 28, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Church appears to be just one more scared human. He’s afraid of his own mortality so he really really hopes that some magical being will make death not the end.

    It’s always interesting to watch creationists keep changing their tune, always trying to coopt science when it gets impossible to ignore and always getting further and further away from their nonsensical myths. Their predecessors would be aghast at their heresy.

    • Posted June 28, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      I’m currently reading Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives by
      John Hedley Brooke (Cambridge History of Science Series), and I’ve got to the chapter on reactions to Darwin. It’s fascinating to see how today’s IDists and Theistic Evolutionists are a remnant spouting slightly updated versions of the same arguments that were made in the late 19th century — people finding all sorts of inventive ways to make science prove faith, or bend faith so it doesn’t get punctured by science, or whatever. And looking increasingly desperate at it.

    • Posted June 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Exactly correct, clubschadenfreude. Church is driven by the craving for eternal existence…after all, a large ego is a perquisite to being a Harvard professor, IMO. Such an ego cannot bear vanishing into nothingness…all those incredible thoughts?? NOOOO!!

      So they work backwards. The flag of their fort is eternal life, life after death, and carefully, brick by brick they build defenses outward. The flag is often obscured, just for better safekeeping.

      The fantastic ongoing work re the mechanics of human memory should be more widely disseminated. The only conclusion any fair observer can make after absorbing much of the recent science, is that one’s memory has as much chance of taking you to an afterlife, as did mummified Egyptian cats, made it to the afterlife. Your memory is mechanistic, bio-chemical, and non-linear. Same as your nose. And just like your nose, stays with your body, inert and non-working, when you die.

  15. eveysolara
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Church writes:


    If we start getting macroevolution in the lab, then they’ll accept the macroevolution to whatever extent it is useful and obvious. If it’s not demonstrated in the lab then you might reasonably say ‘I don’t care’, or, ‘Prove it’. The scientists should be saying, ‘Prove it.’ ‘Do it in the lab.’ Now some things you argue can’t be, but I actually think macro-evolution is something that might be possible”

    It looks like Church thinks the creationist complaint about not observing macro evolution is valid. However, he thinks it is possible or will be possible to demonstrate macroevolution in the lab. That may shed some light on all this sympathy, as well as the “bridge gaps” comment. He is setting us up the bomb.

    • marcoli666
      Posted June 28, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      I think he may be thinking of macroevolution as ‘big, dramatic change’ of new orders or phyla. But the minimal unit of macroevolution is actually speciation. Speciation is observed in the lab and in nature.

    • Posted June 28, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Anyone saying “Prove it” in a science area, doesn’t know what the scientific method is. In law, you can “prove it”, e.g. dunking women, and if they float, that woman is a witch, but if the woman sinks, not a witch. “Proof” is a defined concept, does not have a place in science, only Mathematics and Law, where rules define “Proof”.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted June 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Seems Church operates with several of the creationist tropes.

      - The ribosome is ‘too large’, meaning if it evolved one amino acid (the many proteins) and one nucleotide (the RNA) at a time, geological time wouldn’t suffice (Edge, -07).

      Of course, since the helper proteins, probably even the core, is exaptated and even if not is selected on various parts in parallel as later shown, it is a dud trope.

      - Macroevolution in the lab.

      I recently happened to read a (theoretical) biologist that described micro- and macroevolution as choosing tool sets. (But didn’t bookmark. :-/)

      His example of fast macroevolution was (IIRC) antibodies, who evolves to better fit from initial lousy ones. That happens over days and weeks, and I think that means a divergence of families of T-cells. Meaning macro-evolution tools can be used for small timescale phenomena.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted June 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        “Read Dawkins” would be a good answer to Church on the ‘too large’ idea. (METHINKS IT IS A WEASEL algorithm.)

  16. Jonathan Smith
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Should that not read Non Compos Mentis?

  17. John Langford
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Church is not an atheist. He says so explicitly in the following interview:

    The relevant part starts at the eight minute mark.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 28, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Yep, looks like he’s faith-y. He said he doesn’t get in people’s face about it but he certainly puts it out there if he blurbs Meyer’s book or says what he says in public.

  18. Diane G.
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    sub

  19. johnknapp2
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    The venom and rant here, some of it clever and informed, is not quite unbelievable (of course). Your words (collectively) drive me finally to get Meyers’s book and dig even deeper into the New Testament (not books about it written by lock-step naturalists who know the score of the game before it’s even played). And, as a side issue, what do you think of Antony Flew and the direction he went? I’ll not cancel my subscription here because I was carefully taught that not every good song comes from the choir loft. But I’ve learned (here), too, that that “skimming” much of the time is an efficient use of time. I recommend the brief comment about the difficulty of superspecialists who speak in tongues even to each other–in the struggle to find the “meanings” we all care about–written by biologist (Columbia) Stuart Firestein appeared on p.10 of the Apr. 2010 issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN.

    • Posted June 29, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      Oh please–do cancel your subscription here. Your arrogance isn’t really needed, and you’re being quite a troll (why would you mention Anthony Flew? Why shouldn’t I ask you about the many religious people who convert to atheism as an adult?).

      This is one of the most pompous comments I’ve ever seen, and about 80% isn’t even on the topic.

      • Posted June 30, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        I have to admit that “cancel my subscription” really made me chuckle.

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          :D

          I was not a fan of William F. Buckley, but I loved the story about his response to a woman who once wrote to him complaining about something in the National Review and demanding that he cancel her subscription.

          WFB: “Cancel your own damn subscription.”

  20. peterr
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    It hardly needs mentioning here, but

    “As a scientific discipline, many people have casually dismissed Intelligent Design without carefully defining what they mean by intelligence or what they mean by design. Science and math have long histories of proving things, and not just accepting intuition — Fermat’s last theorem was not proven until it was proven. And I think we’re in a similar space with intelligent design.”

    possibly written by Church (or at least endorsed by him) shows a grave ignorance of the differences almost universally agreed between empirical science and pure mathematics, with respect to quite distinct rationales for accepting something as truth within the disciplines.

    • Taylor M. Brown
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      How would “Intelligent Design” be proven? Should we just look at all the biological creatures and see which one’s never yield explanations?

      Seeing as how you’ve fallen into you’re own insult of “skimming, as an efficient use of time,” let me direct you to one of Jerry’s Caturday Felid posts, which all beautifully sum up the argument from design:

      https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/caturday-felids-two-cat-photo-sites/

      • peterr
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        Assuming the ‘you’ in “…you’ve fallen…” is me, or at least is what I’ve written above his or her post, it seems impossible to figure out what Mr. or Ms. Brown has said. I’d suggest he or she read again what I said (admittedly one long sentence, and so perhaps challenging for some).

        In any case, it would be interesting to know how what I said could be interpreted as somehow disagreeing with Jerry’s essay here. (I did of course completely disagree with him on the recent one about Conway, the mathematician.) But here it is simply a small thing, mentioned by no one else, which would tend to reinforce his essay, the part concerning the booster of Meyer who might be paid attention to, as opposed to the other complete clown.

        • Taylor M. Brown
          Posted June 29, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

          Taylor is a rather ambiguous name, isn’t it…

          “But I’ve learned (here), too, that that [']skimming['] much of the time is an efficient use of time.”

          I assumed–implied in this grammatical gem of a sentence–that you were saying Jerry’s comments were written only after “skimming” books on ID or just ID arguments in general. If I was wrong, my bad. I really just got it into my head that pointing you towards a Caturday Felid’s column was a good idea, and thus had to construct a statement that not only called ID out for what it really is (God of the gaps argument), but direct you to glorious pictures of cats as well. Two birds, one stone.

          • peterr
            Posted June 29, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

            Well then, let me apologize and re-express the first statement, adding a few unoriginal bits to it:

            Church’s statement badly confuses attainment of truth in empirical science with the attainment of truth in pure mathematics. They are well known to be quite different, however much argument there has been and will be about the meaning of truth and the degree of certainty in both cases. No one would argue that they are the same, however mysterious to some the effectiveness of math in science is, and to whatever degree empirical observations aid in thinking up good mathematical conjectures.

            I hope that helps.

            • Taylor M. Brown
              Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

              Whoops! I see that in my first response I accidentally responded to Church’s statement on the position of “proving” ID. My bad!

              Nevertheless, my problem’s not your disagreement with Church (obviously, seeing what I wrote, I disagree with him too), my problem is with that barely intelligible first statement you made.

              If you could please explain to me what you meant by this:

              “But I’ve learned (here), too, that that [']skimming['] much of the time is an efficient use of time.”

              …in the context of this:

              “I’ll not cancel my subscription here because I was carefully taught that not every good song comes from the choir loft. But I’ve learned (here), too, that that “skimming” much of the time is an efficient use of time.”

              …That would be lovely.

              • peterr
                Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

                ‘If you could please explain to me what you meant by this:

                “But I’ve learned (here), too, that that [']skimming['] much of the time is an efficient use of time.”

                …in the context of this:

                “I’ll not cancel my subscription here because I was carefully taught that not every good song comes from the choir loft. But I’ve learned (here), too, that that “skimming” much of the time is an efficient use of time.”..’

                Sorry, but someone else wrote that, so he should explain it to you, and you should be more careful, before engaging is diarrhea of the typing fingers.

  21. Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I think you are being a little too generous with Biedebach. From his “manuscript”… and this is verbatim the start of “Chapter 10″, grammar included:

    “The modern human race is one interbreeding species: homo Sapiens. If, according to the Bible, the sin of Adam has been imputed to all mankind, then mankind constitutes this single interbreeding species. It then follows that Adam must have been the first member of the homo Sapiens species. (If we knew how long the homo Sapiens species has existed, then we should also know when Adam lived.)”

    Is there any doubt that he’s a YEC?

  22. guilherme21msa
    Posted July 1, 2013 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    “how did the ribosome come to be?”

    Wait a moment. Hasn’t this question been answered a trillion times already. Ribosomes are seen to evolve in labs all the time. I think Jack Szostak (may his name be spelt right!) has talked about the evolution of ribosomes before – they are basically modified ribozymes created by random mutation and natural selection.


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