Dirty Rotten...

The ever-tyrannical majority over at Wikipedia may have won the word-battle to spin Ben Stein’s Expelled as an uninteresting documentary “for Christians and the Discovery Institute,” but no matter… The truth is not killed when angry people stamp on it.

Rather, angry people die eventually, and truth sprouts up, ever-young.

Only time will tell whether Expelled tells any truth, or merely stirs up so much smoke… In the meantime, don’t be fooled by any paltry rhetoric, on either side.

Here’s five (bad) arguments why you should stay home instead of seeing Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

Bad Reason #1. “It’s one-sided.” For some reason Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit film did not bother critics for being one-sided… Or rather, they said, “Gee, he should present the oppositions viewpoint, but I agree with him, so I liked it.” Stein lets all scientists speak for themselves, and the debate is laid out fairly, which is more than I can say for some of the other documentary-types I’ve seen lately. “Scientists are supposed to be allowed to follow the evidence wherever it may lead, no matter what the implications are. Freedom of inquiry has been greatly compromised, and this is not only anti-science, it’s anti-American.” (Stein)

Bad Reason #2. “It’s creationist propaganda.” Anyone who says this apparently has not seen the film. (Or perhaps they got up for popcorn during the first forty minutes, and missed the part Stein and and Miller carefully clarify exactly what their position is and is not.)

Intelligent design is a positive scientific case, akin to forensic science, archeology, or the principles of engineering. If archaeologists find a bridge in an unexplored region of Africa, they do not set out hypothesizing how the wood logs fell together according to natural selection, the strong logs remaining and the weak logs perishing over time, to form a functional fifty-foot bridge. They investigate which tribe of intentional agents built it. This is the rational thing to do. The strict archaeologists who nobly insists, “No, my friends! This merely looks designed! We must only consider hypotheses which do not include human agency. We are scientists!” has some ‘splaining to do, as Huck Finn would say.

If police officers discover a dead man in a room, gunshot wounds in the head and heart, and a small revolver twenty paces away, they do not presume to investigate the area for the contraption by which the gun naturally and almost randomly (though in a way mysteriously “directed” by “nature”) went off, shooting the man not just once, but several times, readjusting the aim each time so as to make contact… They immediately dust the gun for fingerprints of an intentional agent, or the body for signs of struggle, a piece of hair, a nail, anything. In short, they look for a murderer. Why? Because that is the only gal’ dern rational thing to do, and you know it as well as I do, so I won’t belabor it. Now, when microbiologists discover a fully functional, city-like micro-organism such as the cell or the nucleus of a cell, they do not (unless they are like our noble and austere Archaeologist) insist upon searching for the lowest common bits out of which the protein strands were collected (by chance… but directed, randomly… according to laws), but like rational human beings and lovers of truth they ask same question the forensic scientist asks, the only rational question: “Who dunnit?”

Every scientist and philosopher is bound intellectually to proposing an answer to this question. If evolutionists cannot accept this basic point on its own terms but must constantly propose ad hominums against the person posing the question, it belies a certain reticence to face the facts. What might the deeper motive be, hm?

Now if the answer she comes up with is: “Nobody dunnit. It done happen’d on its ow-en.” that’s fine. Follow the evidence where it leads. But such a scientist must at least admit the burden of proof is on her, just as it would be on the Noble Archeologist who refuses to admit that the bridge was made, or the forensic madman who ignores fingerprints on the gun.

Bad Reason #3. “It’s boring.” I saw it twice and each time found it amusing and compelling, even in the parts with which I did not agree. It is one of precious few documentary films I have seen that a) actually presents arguments, b) actually presents both sides of the argument, and from their own mouths at that. Also, it is mildly amusing throughout.

Those who tell you its boring, I would suggest, are likely those who walked in disagreeing, and resolved not to like any part of it lest they have to defend the charge that they “liked” it as a whole.

Bad Reason #4. “It exploits the Holocaust.” Stein carefully and painfully draws the historical connection between eugenics and “Nazi science” and an evolutionary worldview wherein the weak are not fit to survive. This is sad but true. He plays this card only as lightly as he can, and plays it hard at points where the most grievous consequences might result if he didn’t. He also plays (very, very lightly) the Racism card, drawing a slim connection between a neo-Darwinistic worldview and “Planned Parenthood.” However, Stein is not black, but he is Jewish, so he sticks with his own people. A less cautious filmmaker would have struck out at any point he could reach; Stein exercised restraint and played within the boundaries of his own expertise. (I wish I could say as much for Michael Moore.)

Bad Reason #5. It’s smug and arrogant. Arrogant is a funny epithet. People throw it around a lot, but it only applies when the ‘arrogant’ person is wrong. When Muhammad Ali says, “I am the greatest,” he is just right, so it’s not (as) arrogant. When Sadam Hussein says, “Americans are dogs,” he is mistaken, and so his insolence burns like ice. Stein is confident that he is making a valid point. If it is not a valid point, then he is smug. If it is a valid point, then he is merely self-assured, and knows his place.

Bonus Bad Reason #6! Expelled currently has a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. Pissing critics off and making news, what could be better!? (And how could a simply dismal propaganda film do that? There are very few documentaries as low as this… Even the “bad” ones have about 20%. It seems that this has struck a vein, compelling a unilateral resistance against the film? Either it is so bad people feel compelled to go out of their way to promote its awfulness, or else it is stoking the heart of the hornets nest, and earning a just reward.) [Warning: Incoming Genetic fallacy!] Of course, the measly 9% is amongst the (generally more neo-Darwinistic critiques. The general populous gives it a respectable 53%.

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Posted by Keith E. Buhler

22 Comments

  1. Intelligent design is a positive scientific case, akin to forensic science, archeology, or the principles of engineering. If archaeologists find a bridge in an unexplored region of Africa, they do not set out hypothesizing how the wood logs fell together according to natural selection, the strong logs remaining and the weak logs perishing over time, to form a functional fifty-foot bridge

    Keith, I believe we’ve had this discussion before. I’m going to assume that you’ve found a way to rearrange the world to fool your intellect into thinking this makes sense. The alternative, I believe, is that you are intentionally dishonest.

    There is a known mechanism by which bridges get built. People build them. The explanation is simple and fits the evidence perfectly, and we know people exist and build bridges.

    There is also a known mechanism by which organisms can diverge from their ancestors by natural means, and a theoretical process for refining the divergent results, which besides being mathematically sound, has been substantiated by experimentation.

    Natural selection is a process by which things are selected for reproductive success… it is a fairly obvious fact. You might take note that not a single one of your ancestors ever failed to copulate, yet many cousins of your ancestors did. You are naturally the child of the reproductively successful and not one man alive can claim otherwise.

    There is nothing to select logs which stand in a bridge formation against those that lie down, in fact, the selection is the opposite as the former is less stable. As usual, if you were to adjust the rules of your analogy so that it were actually analogous, the system would work fine. If logs were constantly reproducing themselves, some weak, some strong, eventually the strong would begin to far outnumber the week. If there were a natural reason why those in a bridge formation should reproduce better than those outside the formation, then bridge formations would slowly begin to appear.

    Trees fall across creek beds and form bridges. We don’t assume an invisible intelligence built these bridges because a natural, plausible alternative explanation is available.

    For logs across creeks, design is much less obvious, and not even a good first guess. Most often this happens naturally because of the effect of bank erosion on the trees growing there. If they are designed, we don’t believe it to be an omniscient superdesigner, because logs across creeks don’t really make the best bridges. We can easily conceive of better designs…

    Wouldn’t know you, the same is true of nature. Our own retinas are on backwards, we are plagued by our own wisdom teeth. Our appendix often kills us. Many ancestors died agonizingly slow deaths as their teeth rotted in close proximity to their brains. The urethra of a man passes right through the prostate which is prone to expand later in life and cause problems. Any idiot could have come up with better designs. That’s not all, and that’s just one species. Evolution by natural selection is a haphazard designer with a single purpose and no clear goal, so besides all the other evidence to support it still is a much simpler answer than an invisible intelligence.

    If police officers discover a dead man in a room, gunshot wounds in the head and heart…

    I know we discussed this very scenario when we talked before. This is the same story. We know there are people who shoot people, and guns do not do so naturally.

    Bees also kill people allergic to them. Who designed that?

    Now if the answer she comes up with is: “Nobody dunnit. It done happen’d on its ow-en.” that’s fine.

    In contrast to science, this is essentially what Intelligent Design says.

    Scientists are in what may be a never ending pursuit to find the most fundamental building blocks and most fundamental law of the universe, perpetually peeling back layers to get to the bottom.

    If complexity in nature implies an intelligent designer, then surely the designer is more complex than nature itself, but as you may have noticed, this begs the question. If the designer is even more complex, then something even more complex must have designed him. The fact that intelligent design advocates never ask themselves this question is quite telling.

    We now know that matter can come from non-matter. This isn’t the same as saying that something came from nothing. In fact, it is intelligent design advocates who proudly proclaim that.

    The noteworthy thing about the universe is that everything appears to be explainable by immutable laws. As Einstein said, “the miracle is that there are no miracles”. Or in other words, everything just does exactly what you’d expect – no intelligence has to tell this planet to orbit that one or this electron to repel other electrons.

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  2. Your defense of Stein, especially in #4, stands in stark contrast to Stein’s own words–and, it must be added, a condemnation by the ADL for trivializing the Holocaust.

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  3. Re Jim: Stein’s personal opinions are one thing… The film script itself makes as conservative a thesis as is defensible…(Though its images play the suggestion game a little more overtly).

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  4. Warren,

    Primeramente: Gracias por la Ad Hominum!

    Segundamente, you said: “There is also a known mechanism by which organisms can diverge from their ancestors by natural means, and a theoretical process for refining the divergent results, which besides being mathematically sound, has been substantiated by experimentation.”

    Interesting. A few questions:

    1. Do we know why this divergence happens?
    a. If so, do we know why it does not happen every time?
    b. If not, is it a) possible, b) likely, c) unlikely, or d) impossible that the answer to the question “why” would include another item from the merely natural world?

    2. Can you say what the theoretical process for refining results exactly is? This is my understanding, so correct me if I am mistaken, or leave anything out:

    One member of a species (say, a certain bird) reproduces with another member of its species. They have three offspring. The first two offspring are identical with their parents. The third offspring has only 1,000,000 of the 1,000,001 physical attributes of its parents, (whether a gene, or some visible attribute, or something else, does not matter for the moment.) The first two offspring reproduce with members of the same species to beget three offspring each, six total, each one identical both to its parent and its grandparent. The third (a male) reproduces with a female member of the old species. (Note: The divergent male bird is not a new species yet, having only one divergent characteristic from its parents/siblings). It begets three offspring, two of which is identical to the mother, one of which are identical to the father. This next divergent bird is also male and reproduces with a female member of the old “kind” of bird. They beget three offspring: one that is identical to its great-grandfather etc., the second of which has only 999,999/1,000,000 attributes of its father, the third of which has only 999,999/1,000,000 of the physical attributes of its great-grandfather.

    Skip forward a hundred generations. All the birds above-mentioned have died off, and only their distant descendants are alive. Mutation has slowed (or stopped), and there are now two distinct, discrete, discernibly different populations of birds. The first population, consisting of thousands of birds, is genetically identical to the original patriarch-bird mentioned above. The second population also now consists of thousands of birds, severally identical to the original great-grandson bird. It turns out the loss of one attribute or the gaining of another has assisted these birds’ survival, however slightly. It has enhanced their ability to survive in the context of some specific features of the nearby landscape. The original birds, say, survive a little better just inland of the ocean, whereas the mutated birds survive slightly better another mile inland, where the air is less moist, the wind is less constant, and the tree population is slightly more dense.

    Suddenly one of the 2nd strain of birds begets offspring with yet another tiny mutation, and this starts the process again. Skip forward several hundred generations. There are three “kinds” of birds (No new species yet!) Each can still reproduce with each other, but the third divergence is noticeably different from the “original,” (although this term is misleading, since the “original” bird is itself merely one iteration in a long and never-ending series of mutations, and may die out or evolve into something else entirely, unless supported by favorable environments.)

    Skip forward a hundred hundred generations. There are now five “kinds” of birds, each population having attained a level of relative stability, each thriving in slightly different locales, and each interbreeding successfully with the others.

    Skip forward ten thousand generations. There are now a dozen “kinds” of birds. The emergence of the twelfth kind shows visibly distinct variations from the original patriarchal ancestor. They share only 98% of the same genetic and physical attributes. This twelfth kind can interbreed with the second, third, forth, all the way down with its own “kind,” but can only poorly interbreed with the first! The resulting offspring are weak and sickly, having only severely negative (read: life-preventing) mutations. They all die off.

    Skip forward another thousand generations. The twelfth “kind” of bird can successfully interbreed with ten of the twelve “kinds.” With the eleventh “kind” it produces only sickly and weak offspring, fit for destruction. With the twelfth and original “kind” it cannot interbreed at all! Lo, a new species has evolved!

    3. Has this “theoretical process” for refining the results ever been shown under observation (in the present) or through fossil records (in the past) to actually happen?

    a. If so, what is the name of the first species, and the name of the second species?
    ai. If so, has it ever been shown to happen in an asexual micro-organism?

    b. If not, how we any closer to explaining the 2 million currently existing species by appeal to a hypothetical common ancestor?

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  5. Esteemed Mr. Falk,

    Believe me, my stubborn recalling of these tired examples is in no way due to ill-will or self-intentional deception. In my experience such annoying regularity of opinion is due to a lack of adequate evidence, a lack of adequate attention, or else a staunch commitment to end a discussion believing the same thing I believed when it started. This is a pernicious intellectual habit, and I fight against it as for my very life. And yet (to anyone’s surprise!) I still agree with me, and you still agree with you… Well, iron sharpens iron, and hopefully you can help refine my three-quarters-baked ideas on evolution, as you successfully did last time.

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  6. “Natural selection is a process by which things are selected for reproductive success… it is a fairly obvious fact. You might take note that not a single one of your ancestors ever failed to copulate.”

    True, and I agree fully with this fact. It is the interpretation or explanation of the fact upon which we do not yet see eye to eye.

    I would posit that all living organisms are designed (by God knows who) to reproduce successfully as a species, and so the ones we see today are the successful products of a long chain of successful reproductions within a species. Those which fail and die out go extinct, but no new species appear. (Thus end up with less total species, not more.)You would posit that all living organisms happen to reproduce, some of which reproduce successfully, others of which die out. Those which are successful appear today as our various species, succeeding through a long line of mutations and reproductions. Those which fail die out, and leave traces of their short efforts in the fossil record for our perusal and classification.

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  7. You said, “Any idiot could have come up with better designs.”

    We both have two explananda: 1. There exists organisms that work well. 2. There exist organisms that don’t work so well.

    Your explanation: 1. These are the organisms that survived and evolved from prior functional organisms. 2. These are the organisms that probably won’t survive (or will detract from health/survival) in the future, or will evolve into others that work better. You win some, you lose some, no further explanation needed.

    My explanation: 1. These are the organisms that were designed by an invisible intelligence, and remain fairly functional. 2. These are organisms that suffer from defects that developed in an initially functional design, either because of the foolish damage inflicted by humans directly, or because of foolish damage inflicted by humans indirectly, who have damaged the environment and in some ways the whole earth, over which they were originally intended to be superintendents.

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  8. Warren said, “Or in other words, everything just does exactly what you’d expect – no intelligence has to tell this planet to orbit that one or this electron to repel other electrons.”

    This is a good example. Why do things happen as we’d expect? Where’d we get our expectations from? If anyone had an idea about how “gravity” works, or even what the heck it is, I would be a much happier person.

    My best guess is to agree with Dante. But who knows?

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  9. soarinblondbeast May 3, 2008 at 8:31 am

    I do not deign to respond to this post. Warren Falk, you do a service to humankind (men no less than women) in attacking such ignorant persons’ thoughtless arguments.

    I will caution you, however, as you chip away at “superstition until it can no longer keep our Countrymen and women’s minds in darkness. I challenge not your concepts, but your language.

    You and many other scientists are still stuck in the ancient paradigm of selection, purpose, and – in short – teleology. Have we not yet shaken off the pre-scientific language and creationist propaganda? Have we progressed no further than Aristotle?

    My primary disgust for creationists and the “religious” in general is the smell of their inconsistency, their lack of intellectual integrity, their blindness to the implications of their own (simple) ideas. Of course, I don’t think anyone can take his/herself and his/her brain seriously and remain a religious, but that is a lack of education I leave to the universities to solve. If god (or gods) exist, and he is (or they are) all powerful, why do people suffer loss, confusion, and death? Why did my sister die before she reached the age of twenty? But don’t ask this to a religious, for he will affirm god’s ‘love’ out of one side of his mouth, and the injustice of death out of the other. This is but one of many illogicalities I may draw, but the wise already understand me, and agree. (I disdain to prove what is foolishness to the fool and self-evident to the wise).

    It pains me, therefore, to see such religious inconsistency in scientists and rational men and women. Leave such sloppy assertions and unreflective reflection to the primitive.

    The implications of Neo-Darwinism are clear to any who considers them. Life originated on this planet by natural means, one step in an inevitable chain of events beginning in the Big Bang and continuing on to the infinitesimal speck of time when our miserable species exists, and billions of years after we have evolved, changed, or gone extinct. Life began, reproduced, mutated, died, lived, and evolved.

    After many millions of years, life began to reproduce and grow, then die. Many more, life began to reproduce, grow, and sense, then die. Many more, and life began to reproduce, grow, sense, and think, then die. Many more, and perhaps life will reproduce, grow, sense, think, and guide its own process of reproduction, and then die… or perhaps it will learn how never to die.

    But one thing is sure. No part of this story was designed! (I detest the word) — no part was “chosen!” Certainly no part was “selected” – by “nature” or anything else. There is no natural selection. There is only NATURE. Nature grows, nature dies, nature lives, but nature does not kill any more than nature preserves. Nature Is.

    If you have accepted the fact that natural selection is true, then accept the fact that the word “selection” is false — it no longer applies to the world, it is not the fittest word, and so must perish. The fitting language is descriptive, not prescriptive. “Some life forms continue to live. Others die.” Not, “Some life forms are better ‘for’ survival. Others are less functional, and so nature ‘weeds them out.'” No! Stop it! You do damage to the scientific enterprise.

    Many more vestibular words will perish, like so much meaningless air escaping from the bladder, or parasitic bacteria in a healthy system. What was called, for some short centuries, “morality,” which is really the promotion of the weak, and the postponement of the inevitable… What is called “purpose,” which suffers the same purpose as “design.” “Will,” “intention,” “end,” shall suffer similar fates. All is at it is. There is no purpose. So stop it.

    “Selection” is the same. It was an expedient word during the Age of Darkness, the Age of Religion, the Age of Man’s Search for god and his Flight from Reason. But it is false, a fantasy, and a womb of error. I do not believe in Natural Selection. I believe in Nature. This is a blinding, obvious, brute fact. So I say to you, and all who love Reason: Stop it.

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  10. I’m troubled by Stein’s getting the science, theology, philosophy and ethics exactly wrong in his comparison of evolution to the Holocaust. Then you climb on.

    So, you’ve never read Darwin? You’ve never read Hitler? You don’t know the difference between murder and livestock raising?

    The astounding errors here are possible only if one is willing to grant credence to claims that Darwin never made, and then connect them to claims that Hitler never made.

    Hitler, by the way, eschewed Darwin. So do you. I can understand, after reading your concerns, why you want to distance your views from Hitler’s by falsely ascribing a link to evolution and the Holocaust.

    But how do you sleep at night?

    Stein I assume is just dumb as a post about it, his having fully rationalized his work eviscerating the Constitution for Richard Nixon. But Mere Orthodoxy?

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  11. At some point, Keith, you have to fully understand what you’re critiquing. Have you taken a college-level biology course? Have you read any recent books on the basic mechanisms of evolutionary variation? Are you familiar with evo-devo, or symbiosis, or lateral genetic transfer, or genetic drift, or endogenous retroviruses? Your questions posted in the comment at 11:29 strike me as–how can I put this charitably?–scientifically underinformed.

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  12. Edarrell,

    I’ve read Darwin, and I’ve flipped through Hitler, but never devoted much time to understanding his written thought. Whatever his philosophy was, seeing it lived out was enough for me to evaluate its truth or falsity.

    The claim, I think, is not a historical case that Hitler read Darwin, loved him, agreed with him, and decided to start deleting ‘ineffecient’ people from Germany. Such a claim would indeed be, as you say, “dumb.”

    The claim is that there exists a (atemporal) parallel, a natural friendliness, between the Nazi program and the evolutionary view of the progress/improvement of species. (This parallel obtains in principle. This friendliness would obtain, philosophically, even if Darwin lived in the 2nd century BC and Hitler had never read him.)

    I agree with you that there are erroneous comparisons to be made. But if humans are evolving towards being even better humans, then it makes sense (sans ethical restrictions) to speed this process along by promoting strong organisms and eliminating weak ones. Do you deny this one?

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  13. Jim,

    Always a cheerful giver. Thanks for the gentle reminder to speak with trepidation. You are, of course, right.

    I grant I am, ah, an amateur and (how shall we say it) underinformed with respect to the biological data. For the moment, I have my hands tied studying American history (for my classes) and patristic theology (for grad school) and neo-platonism (for fun). But evolution is prime real estate, philosophically, and has some irrisistably glaring philosophical problems. The virtue of the amateur is that he is sometimes able to ask questions about presuppositions that the expert has forgotten were relevant. (Also, sometimes the more learned are benefited by re-explaining their views and assumptions to the curious but uninformed.)

    There is plenty of evidence for variation in organisms. Call it mutation, microevolution, genetic drift. But what does this mean? The dominant assumption (for the moment) is that this is evidence for a much more ambitious theory, namely a robust explanation of the present diversity of species. As I struggle to fill in the gaps in my biological knowledge, I continue to pose questions as to the connection between the evidence and this inference, but no one seems to be thinking much about this. They are either committed to one hypothesis (design) or the other (Darwinism). If such questions are helpful, they are not helpful biologically but philosophically.

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  14. soarinblondbeast,

    1. I’m sorry about the loss of your sister.

    2. Your views, if they are serious, scare me.

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  15. […] I cannot make this up:  Go see Mere Orthodoxy and Thinking Christian.  Bad enough they defend the movie — but to defend it because, they claim, Darwin and Hitler were brothers in thought?  Because evolution urges immoral behavior? I stepped in something over at Thinking Christian, and when I called it to the attention of Tom Gilson in the comments, he deleted the comment.   (I’ve reposted, but I wager he’ll delete that one, too, while letting other comments of mine stand; he’s got no answer to any of my complaints.) […]

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  16. Your use of the words “progress” and “improvement” is telling, as is the phrase “evolving towards being even better humans.” It demonstrates your inability to separate your own teleological interpretation of evolution from the actual science. Evolutionary biology doesn’t make value judgments about what counts as “better.”

    Secondly, regarding your later comments:

    To claim that “no one seems to be thinking much about” how evolution on a small scale is linked to large-scale change is not only wrong, but almost laughable. Scientists all over the world are investigating the relationship, and have made great strides in discovering new methods of change, transitional fossils, mathematical models, genomic analyses… It’s an exciting time to be an evolutionary biologist. There’s plenty of heterodoxy, too, despite what IDists like Stein claim. Lynn Margulis’s symbiotic theorizing is a perfect example. Evo-devo is another.

    The “better informed” (and Carl Zimmer is a good one to start with) have been churning out a raft of resources to catch up with the last two decades’ advances.

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  17. But if humans are evolving towards being even better humans, then it makes sense (sans ethical restrictions) to speed this process along by promoting strong organisms and eliminating weak ones. Do you deny this one?

    Why would that make sense? Wholly apart from the impossibility of predicting what future conditions might be, anyone familiar with nature would note that a premature rising of a trait would probably cause the death of the individual — if the conditions that make the trait advantageous do not yet exist, the trait offers no survival advantage in the present.

    A human being living in the Jurassic would be a tasty meal. Speeding evolution along doesn’t make a lot of sense, except in the case of using artificial selection to better raise crops and livestock.

    Do you think humans should be treated as carrots, or as sheep? Darwin certainly never made such an argument, nor does anyone else who understands evolution. A few people argue that all life has high value, but they make that claim in arguing for the extension of rights to those regarded at the bottom of the spectrum, not to take rights away from those at the top.

    It makes no sense at all to try to speed things along.

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  18. The claim is that there exists a (atemporal) parallel, a natural friendliness, between the Nazi program and the evolutionary view of the progress/improvement of species. (This parallel obtains in principle. This friendliness would obtain, philosophically, even if Darwin lived in the 2nd century BC and Hitler had never read him.)

    That’s even dumber if we acknowledge that Hitler didn’t get the idea from Darwin, which you admit is a dumb claim.

    Unless Hitler had proposed cannibalism, there was no reason at all found in evolution theory for murder. And, were the cannibalism to be proposed, shouldn’t there have been a breeding program instead of a murder program? Advancing a species involves promoting breeding in addition to culling.

    Hitler or his minions would have had to have had some sort of understanding of genetics. Generally they were as adverse to genetics as Stalin was.

    If someone wishes to argue that evolution is provides a parallel justification, I’d like to see the argument. Parallel to what? There is no parallel to murder in evolution theory.

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  19. In answer to soarinblondbeast: your critique on the use of the word “selection” (et al) is very interesting.

    In the end, the problem appears to be that there is no good way of describing the system without using words that have other meanings to other people. Selection to you appears to imply intent. To me, it does not, and once I heard the term “natural selection” and grasped the concept, I shed the word in favor of the concept in my own head. But alas, I have to communicate, and the word still seems as good as any for now.

    But I am taking your criticism into consideration.

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  20. Keith, the reason divergence happens is because the copying process which organisms use to replicate can be affected by environmental variables which cause errors in the copy. Cancer is also so-caused. That’s why it doesn’t happen every time, but errors are actually frequent, but mostly in insignificant areas. This is the known cause – I don’t know if there are others.

    The theoretical process for refining results of these errors is what is called natural selection. I was just speaking in abstract terms.

    In your bird example, you have to consider that there may be billions of the same species of this bird all with the simultaneous possibility of mutation and that most divergence occurs when species are geologically separated for some time over which they simply become genetically incompatible with each other (the definition of speciation) so that when they converge again, their gene pools don’t remix and they are forever divergent.

    Now on your critique of “Any idiot could have come up with better designs.”:

    The problem with natural selection is that it has no end-game in mind, as I said. It can’t know that the retinas being on backwards is a bad design. It was better than its precursor, but once it’s done, unless a mutation comes around that can undo it, natural selection has to select from what it’s given.

    Your explanation that the organisms were designed by an invisible intelligence and then suffered defects is quite a bit more foolish, because the defects, such as the backwards retinas aren’t trivial minor degradations, that might happen over time. And if they were, there would have had significant selective pressure against them with their still fully functional counterparts still around.

    Also certain defects with humans are expected if natural selection is the designer because they only cause problems after the reproductive stage is complete, such as a man’s urethra passing through his prostate. So these don’t affect a selection for reproduction.

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  21. […] There are a lot of Christians who should know better who have been misled by this claptrap. Will you help me make a brief against Weikart’s claims? […]

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  22. […] 15.  Keith Buhler shares five bad reasons not to see Expelled.  The movie is great, and you should ignore the pro-evolution brouhaha over it.  Just go see it and make up your own mind. […]

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