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This is a much-updated version of a previous column on evolution, is atrociously long, criminally even, by internet standards but I post it anyway because I get occasional requests. Few will read it, which is understandable. Apologies. The Devil made me do it. I will get transcendently stupid email saying that I am a snake-handling primitive Christian in North Carolina with three teeth. Actually, I do believe that all humans descend from one man and woman (Deucalion and Pyrrha).

 

The Bugs in Darwin

“A scientist is part of what the Polish philosopher of science Ludwik Fleck called a “thought collective”: a group of people exchanging ideas in a mutually comprehensible idiom. The group, suggested Fleck, inevitably develops a mind of its own, as the individuals in it converge on a way of communicating, thinking and feeling.

This makes scientific inquiry prone to the eternal rules of human social life: deference to the charismatic, herding towards majority opinion, punishment for deviance, and intense discomfort with admitting to error. Of course, such tendencies are precisely what the scientific method was invented to correct for, and over the long run, it does a good job of it. In the long run, however, we’re all dead, quite possibly sooner than we would be if we hadn’t been following a diet based on poor advice.”

 

How This Essay Came About

I was in high school when I began to think about evolution. I was then just discovering the sciences systematically, and took them as what they offered themselves to be, a realm of reason and dispassionate regard for truth. There was a hard-edged clarity to them that I liked. You got real answers. Since evolution depended on such sciences as chemistry, I regarded it as also being a science.

The question of the origin of life interested me. The evolutionary explanations that I encountered in textbooks of biology seemed weak, however. They ran to, “In primeval seas, evaporation concentrated dissolved compounds in a pore in a rock, a membrane formed, and life began its immense journey.” Still, I saw no reason to doubt this. If it hadn’t been true, scientists would not have said that it was.

Remember, I was fifteen.

In those days I read Scientific American and New Scientist, the latter then still being thoughtfully written in good English. I noticed that not infrequently they offered differing speculations as to the origin of life. The belief in the instrumentality of chemical accident was constant, but the nature of the primeval soup changed to fit varying attempts at explanation.

For a while, life was thought to have come about on clay in shallow water in seas of a particular composition, later in tidal pools with another chemical solution, then in the open ocean in another solution. This continues. Recently, geothermal vents have been offered as the home of the first life. Today (Feb 24, 2005) on the BBC website, I learn that life evolved below the oceanic floor. (“There is evidence that life evolved in the deep sediments,” co-author John Parkes, of Cardiff University, UK, told the BBC News website.”)

The frequent shifting of ground bothered me. If we knew how life began, why did we have so many prospective mechanisms, none of which worked? Evolution began to look like a theory in search of a soup. Fifty-five years later in 2015, it still does.

 

What Distinguishes Evolution from Other Sciences

Early on, I noticed three things about evolution that differentiated it from other sciences (or, I could almost say, from science). First, plausibility was accepted as being equivalent to evidence. And of course the less you know, the greater the number of things that are plausible, because there are fewer facts to get in the way. Again and again evolutionists assumed that suggesting how something might have happened was equivalent to establishing how it had happened. Asking them for evidence usually aroused annoyance and sometimes, if persisted in, hostility.

As an example, consider the view that life arose by chemical misadventure. By this they mean, I think, that they cannot imagine how else it might have come about. (Neither can I. Does one accept a poor explanation because unable to think of a good one?) This accidental-life theory, being somewhat plausible, is therefore accepted without the usual standards of science, such as reproducibility or rigorous demonstration of mathematical feasibility. Putting it otherwise, evolutionists are too attached to their ideas to be able to question them.

Or to notice that others do question, and with reason. They defend furiously the evolution of life in earth’s seas as the most certain of certainties. Yet in the November, 2005 Scientific American, an article argues that life may have begun elsewhere, perhaps on Mars, and arrived here on meteorites. May have, perhaps, might. Somewhere, somewhere else, anywhere. Onward into the fog.

Consequently, discussion often relies on vague and murky assertion, or ignores obvious questions. Starlings are said to have evolved to be the color of dirt so that hawks can’t see them to eat them. This is plausible and, I suspect, true. But guacamayos and cockatoos are gaudy enough to be seen from low-earth orbit. Is there a contradiction here? No, say evolutionists. Guacamayos are gaudy so they can find each other to mate. Always there is the pat explanation. But starlings seem to mate with great success, though invisible. If you have heard a guacamayo shriek, you can hardly doubt that another one could easily find it. Enthusiasts of evolution then told me that guacamayos were at the top of their food chain, and didn’t have predators. Or else that the predators were colorblind.

On and on it goes. On any coral reef, a scuba diver can see, or rather not see, phenomenally good camouflage in creatures such as octopuses, said to prevent their being eaten. It does. But many fish are garishly colored. What is the advantage?

Second, evolution seemed more a metaphysics or ideology than a science. The sciences, as I knew them, gave clear answers. Evolution involved intense faith in fuzzy principles. You demonstrated chemistry, but believed evolution. If you have ever debated a Marxist, or a serious liberal or conservative, or a feminist or Christian, you will have noticed that, although they can be exceedingly bright and well informed, they display a maddening evasiveness. You never get a straight answer if it is one they do not want to give. Crucial premises are not firmly established. Fundamental assertions do not tie to observable reality. Invariably the Marxist (or evolutionist) assumes that a detailed knowledge of economic conditions in the reign of Nicholas II substitutes for being able to answer simple questions, such as why Marxism has never worked. This is the Fallacy of Irrelevant Knowledge. And of course almost anything can be made believable by considering only favorable evidence and interpreting hard.

Third, evolutionists are obsessed by Christianity and Creationism, with which they imagine themselves to be in mortal combat. This is peculiar to them. Note that other sciences, such as astronomy and geology, even archaeology, are equally threatened by the notion that the world was created in 4004 BC. Astronomers pay not the slightest attention to Creationist ideas. Nobody does—except evolutionists. We are dealing with competing religions—overarching explanations of origin and destiny. Thus the fury of their response to skepticism.

I found it pointless to tell them that I wasn’t a Creationist. They refused to believe it. If they had, they would have had to answer questions that they would rather avoid. Like any zealots, they cannot recognize their own zealotry. Thus their constant classification of skeptics as enemies (a word they often use)—of truth, of science, of Darwin, of progress.

 

The Lair of the Beast

I have been on several lists on the internet that deal with matters such as evolution, have written on the subject, and have discussed evolution with various of its adherents. These men (almost all of them are) have frequently been very bright indeed, often Ivy League professors, some of them with names you would recognize. They are not amateurs of evolution, or high-school principals in Kansas eager to prove their modernity. I asked them questions, such as whether we really know what the primeval seas consisted of, etc. I knew the answers; I wanted to see how serious proponents of evolutionary biology would respond to awkward questions.

It was like giving a bobcat a prostate exam. I got everything but answers. They told me I was a crank, implied over and over (again) that I was a Creationist, said that I was an enemy of science (someone who asks for evidence is an enemy of science). They said that I was trying to pull down modern biology (if you ask questions about an aspect of biology, you want to pull down biology). They told me I didn’t know anything (that’s why I was asking questions), and that I was a mere journalist (the validity of a question depends on its source rather than its content).

But they didn’t answer the questions. They ducked and dodged and evaded. After thirty years in journalism, I know ducking and dodging when I see it. It was like cross-examining hostile witnesses.

This is the behavior not of scientists, but of advocates, of True Believers. I used to think that science was about asking questions, not about defending things you didn’t really know. Religion, I thought, was the other way around. I guess I was wrong.

As to the charge routinely made that I know “absolutely nothing” of evolution or the biological sciences, or any sciences,, I will point out that most things can be grasped by the application of modest intelligence and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The apparent difficulty of most science consists more in forbidding terminology than in the simple ideas concealed therein. At risk of inciting tedium, I note that, thanks to a good university grounding and considerable reading, I can speak with familiarity of:

Prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase. Descemet’s membrane, ciliary body, suspensory ligaments, retinal pigmented epithelium (the eye being of evolutionary interest). Peptide pituitary hormones, vasopressin and oxytocin. Osteoclast, osteoblast. Nephrons, glomerulus, Loop of Henle. Axon, dendrite, sodium in-potassium-out depolarization, neurotransmitters, receptor sites. Rough and smooth endoplasmic reticula, Golgi apparatus, lipid bilayers, hydrophobic and hydrophilic tails, lysosomes, ribosomes, epitopes, m-RNA, t-RNA, transcription, translation. Restriction enzymes, DNA polymerase. The Breeder’s Equation, selection differential, pleiotrophy, epistasis, narrow heritability. Purines adenine and guanine and pyrimidines cytocine and thymine (well, uracil in RNA). Degeneracy of the codon alphabet. Nucleotides, nucleosides, adenosine triphosphate, indels, mitochondrial cristae, single-nucleotide polymorphisms, Shannon information versus specified information, polymerase chain reaction, restriction-fragment length polymorphism, electrophoresis. Luciferin, (and Luciferout?) luciferase, ATP. X chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA. Peptide bonds -COOH to NH 2, water molecule extruded. Socially important compounds like 2, 4, 6- trinitrotoluene, toluene being benzene with an -CH3 group, bond resonance in benzene, pH, the negative log of the hydronium ion content. Levo- and dextro- isomers. Alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, al gore. Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian. Purported transitional forms: The Ichthyostegids of, if memory serves, Devonian sediments of eastern Greenland; Archaeopteryx, Bavaria 1861; coelacanth, Marjorie Latimer, sort of 1937 I think; and my favorite, Piltdown Man. The amniote egg. Saurischian and Ornithischian dinosaurs. Sauropods, pseudopods, copepods. Etc

 

A Preamble

The intent of this essay is not to debate with the ardent of evolutionism. To do so would be pointless. The problem is one of underlying set of mind, of why people believe and disbelieve things. The greatest intellectual divide is not between those who believe one thing and those who believe another, but between those who have an emotional need to believe something fervently and those who can say, “I don’t know.” The former group comprises those tedious Darwinists and Creationists who hurl imprecations at each other like fans of rival football teams. Each blockheadedly refuses to concede the slightest possibility that its doctrine might be other than infallible. To my mind they constitute the best evidence that we did not descend from monkeys, but have not yet ascended to them. Stupidity beyond a certain point is intractable.

I write here for those who can look at the world with curiosity and calm, divining what can be divined and conceding what cannot, without regarding themselves as members of warring tribes. To judge by the writing on evolution in the public prints, there may be as many as three of these.

 

On Arrogance

“The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, it is queerer than we can suppose.” J. B. S. Haldane

“Queer”: Exactly the right word, suggesting more the world of Alice in Wonderland than the crisp, clean-edged, perfectly ordered and causal world of physics. This paradigm holds that existence is like a vast crossword puzzle. Some parts we have filled in, others we have not, but by its nature the puzzle is solvable, and it is only a matter of time before we know everything. This is awfully optimistic.

Humans today are a puffed-up and overconfident species. We believe that we know everything, or shortly will. We have a sense of near-omniscience equaled only by that of teenagers. For do we not have smart phones and Mars landers and PET scans, and do we not all speak wisely of DNA? We are, if not gods, at least godlings on the way up. If you don’t believe this, just ask us.

It was not always so. A thousand years ago, mankind cast a small shadow on the earth and lived in a dark and mysterious world. Little was known, about anything. Gods of countless sorts walked the earth. Spirits inhabited sacred groves. Lightning, the moon, the stars were…what? We had no idea. This brought humility.

We now believe that nothing is or can be beyond our powers. A contemplative skeptic might advert to a few remaining details: We don’t know where we came from, why we are here, where “here” is, where we are going if anywhere, or what we ought to do. These are minor questions. We only think about them when we wake up at three a.m. and remember that we are not permanent. We are kidding ourselves.

When people become accustomed to things that make no sense, they begin to seem to. Though we no longer notice it as we peck at tablet computers and listen to droning lowbrow shows about the conquest of nature, we still live in a weird and inexplicable universe, an apparently unending emptiness speckled with sparks of hydrogen fire. It is wicked mysterious. More things in heaven and earth, indeed.

We are not as wise as we think. We are just smarter than anything else we know about. I reiterate Fred’s Principle: The smartest of a large number of hamsters is still a hamster.

 

Evolution in the Grand Scheme of Things

The Theory of Evolution is not just about biological evolution. It is part of a grand unified theory that seeks to explain everything (except things that it can’t explain, which it ignores). It runs briefly as follows: First came the Big Bang. Subatomic particles flew in all directions, coalesced into atoms and into molecules and stars. Planets formed, then oceans, and then life came about by chemical inadvertence. Evolution produced trilobites, dinosaurs, mammals, and us. In the popular version, though not in the scientific, evolution produces ongoing betterment.

It is not particularly plausible. As someone said, evolution writ large is the belief that a large cloud of hydrogen will eventually turn into Manhattan. But, like a religion, it provides an overarching explanation of origins–the Big Bang–and destiny–we are getting better and better–and gives us a sense of understanding the world.

The theory is thus very much an expression of the need for certainty. Note that while in the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, Christian fundamentalists tried to outlaw Darwin, today evolutionists appeal to the courts to outlaw mention of Creation in the schools. This is not rational. Can anyone believe that describing Creation in high schools will deter students from studying biochemistry, and turn them into intellectual loin-cloth wearers burning textbooks?

Evolution is crucially important for biologists. Without Darwin, biology would become a collection of anecdotes, observations, and horrors, with no explanatory structure, and the living world a realm of utterly inexplicable and often weird and even frightening creatures.

Face to face with a hornet. Without the Theory we would have to ask who or what could make such a nightmare, where it could possibly have come from and why. If honest, we would answer, “We don’t know.”
Face to face with a hornet. Without the Theory we would have to ask who or what could make such a nightmare, where it could possibly have come from and why. If honest, we would answer, “We don’t know.”

Interestingly, atheism has to be part of the evolutionist’s mental equipment since if any sort of god exists, or if there is life after death, or anything beyond the laws of physics, then these things might influence existence in a way outside of physics–and this cannot be allowed.

Before going further, let us look at some of the questions ignored by evolutionism.

In Evolution Writ Large nothing exists but physics. The Big Bang was physics, chemistry is the physics of the interactions of atoms, biochemistry a subset of chemistry and therefore also physics. Everything that happens in a cell is physics (to include biochemistry). Everything that happens in a living body, from movement to thought, is physics. Mutations are physical events. The behavior of DNA follows the laws of physics.

Note that biological evolution is always regarded as an indivisible entity, yet in fact it consists of several distinct components that are logically separable. First, that life came about accidentally in the ancient seas (highly shaky and certainly not demonstrated). Second, that evolution occurred (as within limits can be shown). Third, that natural selection drove evolution (demonstrable in some cases, plausible in a great many, and highly unlikely in yet others). Fourth, that random mutations drive natural selection (very shaky, but crucial to evolutionism). Fifth, that nothing else drives it.

The unwillingness to recognize that these are separable leads to a tendency to believe that when one of them can be demonstrated–natural selection, say–it is regarded as confirmation of the whole edifice. It isn’t.

.

Eyeing the Argument from Time

A matter that needs to be gotten out of the way before continuing is the insistence that, given billions of years–more accurately, about four billion–life had to from just because of all that time. This is by no means clear. In questions of the probability of complex events, time can mean surprisingly little. Consider the assertion famously made by James Jeans, often cited in connection with evolution, that a monkey typing randomly at a keyboard would eventually write all the books in the British Museum. This sounds plausible and, in a purely mathematical sense, is true. What are the odds?

Consider a fair-sized book of 200,000 words that, by newspaper average, would contain about a million letters. To make it easy on the monkey, we will ignore upper case and punctuation and let him work with an alphabet of 26 letters. What are his prospects of getting the book in a given string of a million letters?

The chance of getting the first letter correctly is 1/26 times the chance of getting the second letter, 1/26, and so on, making the chance of getting the entire book 1/261,000,000. Since 26 equals 10log 26, (log 26 being about 1.41) the chance of getting the entire book is 1 in 10log 26 x 1000,000 or about 101,400,000. Innocent looking numbers like this are remarkably intractable. For example, a billion billion monkeys (more monkeys than Iwant) typing a billion billion characters a second for a billion billion times the estimated age of the universe (1018 seconds ) would have essentially zero chance of getting the book.

To give our monkey a fighting chance, let’s ask whether he would get even the title of a book, for example On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life , which Microsoft Word tells me contains 119 characters. The monkey’s chance of getting the title in a given string of 119 is one in 10119 x x 1.41 or 10168 Thus our billion billion monkey at a billion billion characters a second for the life of the universe is essentially zero.

Is the chance of accidentally forming a living Crittter a similar problem? We don’t know, especially since evolutionists cannot tell us what the First Critter was. But it is their responsibility to tell us, first, what of what complexity formed and, second, why the odds are not astronomically against it. The point to take away is that the invocation of long periods of time can mean little when speaking of the probability of complex yet unspecified events.

A Few Early Questions

(1) Life was said to have begun by chemical inadvertence in the early seas. Did we, I wondered, really know of what those early seas consisted? Know, not suspect, hope, theorize, divine, speculate, or really, really wish. Bear in mind that chemical reactions depend crucially on molarity, pH, temperature, half-life of intermediates, and so on.

The answer is, “no.” We have no dried residue, no remaining pools, and the science of planetogenesis isn’t nearly good enough to provide a quantitative analysis.

2) Do we know what conditions would be necessary for a cell to come about? No, we don’t.

(3) Has the creation of a living cell, or even a metabolizing, reproducing molecule, been replicated in the laboratory? No, it has not. Here the evolutionist will say, “But, Fred, how can you repeat in the laboratory something that took millions and millions of years and billions and billions of gallons of sea water?” You can’t, but am I to believe it happened on the grounds that it can’t be proved?

(4) Could it be shown to be mathematically probable that a cell would form, given any soup whatever? No, it couldn’t, and can’t. (At least not without cooking the assumptions.)

(5) Have biochemists designed a replicating chemical entity that plausibly might have evolved into organisms such as we now have? No.

6) This next I ask, knowing that no answer is possible, to make a point: The more complex we postulate the First Critter to have been, the less likely that it would form accidentally. The less complex, the harder to explain why such a Critter has not been designed in the laboratory. With every passing year, the difficulty grows.

In sum: If we don’t know what conditions existed, or what conditions would be necessary, and can’t reproduce the event in the laboratory, and can’t show it to be statistically probable, and can’t construct something that might have evolved—why are we so very sure that it happened? Would you hang a man on such evidence?

A Surfeit of Soups

To see the desperation of the search for plausible beginnings of life, look at this list, from the Wikipedia, of the wildly differing hypotheses, guesses, theories, and lunges, none of which have worked out. Does it give you a sense that evolutionists know what they are talking about?

One hypothesis, as mentioned before, is that life swooped in from outer space on carbonaceous chondrites, or began on Mars (where it conspicuously has not been discovered by a platoon of itinerant Mars landers) and drifted to the earth. That is, life began where apparently there has never been life. The flexibility of evolutionary thinking is greatly to be admired.

Here a point worth making briefly: The press often excitedly reports that “organic compounds” have been found on meteorites, or comets, or interstellar space, or in bottles of chemicals through which an electric spark has been passed. The unfortunate name “organic” suggests origins in living creatures, or the likelihood of turning shortly into living creatures. Actually, “organic chemistry” is, roughly, the chemistry of carbon chains. No living origins nor living intentions are implied. DDT is an organic compound, as is 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, TNT.

 

Impossibility Theory and Common Sense, If Any

If you look at evolution from other than the perspective of an ideological warrior who believes that he is saving the world from the claws of primitive Christians in North Carolina, difficulties arise. Chief among these is the sheer complexity of things. Living organisms are just too complicated to have come about by accident. This, it seems to me, is apparent to, though not provable by, anyone with an open mind.

Everywhere in the living world one sees intricacy wrapped in intricacy wrapped in intricacy. At some point the sane have to say, “This didn’t just happen. Something is going on that I don’t understand.” But an evolutionist cannot say that there is anything he can’t understand, only that there are things he doesn’t yet understand.

Read a textbook of embryology. You start with a barely-visible zygote which, (we are told) guided by nothing but the laws of chemistry, unerringly reacts with ambient chemicals to build, over nine months, an incomprehensibly complex thing we call “a baby.” Cells migrate here, migrate there, modify themselves or are modified to form multitudinous organs, each of them phenomenally complex, all of this happening chemically and flawlessly on autopilot. We are accustomed to this, and so think it makes sense. The usual always seems reasonable. I don’t think it is. It simply isn’t possible, being a wild frontal assault on Murphy’s Law.

Therefore babies do not exist. Quod erat demonstrandum. Unless Something Else is involved. I do not know what.

Complexity upon complexity. In virtually invisible cells you find endoplasmic reticula, Golgi apparatus, ribosomes, nuclear and messenger and transfer RNA, lysosomes, countless enzymes, complex mechanisms for transcribing and translating DNA, itself a complex and still-mysterious repository of information. Somehow this is all packed into almost nowhere. That this just sort of, well, you know, happened is too much to believe. It began being believed when almost nothing was known about the complexity of cellular biology, after which, being by then a sacred text, it could not be questioned. And cannot.

The foregoing is only the beginning of complexity. The many organs formed effortlessly in utero are as bafflingly elaborate as cells themselves. Consider (a simplified description of) the parts of the eye: The globe of three layers, sclera, choroid, and retina. Cornea of six layers, epithelium, Bowman’s membrane, substantia propria, Dua’s layer, Descemet’s membrane, endothelium. Retina of ten layers. Lens consisting of anterior and posterior capsule and contained proteinaceous goop. The lens is held by delicate suspensory ligaments inside the ciliary body, a muscular doughnut that changes the shape of lens so as to focus. An iris of radial and circumferential fibers enervated competitively by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in opposition. A pump to circulate the aqueous humor. On and on and on. And equally on and on for all the other organs, which last for seventy years, repairing themselves when damaged.

Suspensory ligaments attaching the lens of the eye to the ciliary body. They form perfectly, all by themselves, and pull on the lens to changes it curvature in focusing.
Suspensory ligaments attaching the lens of the eye to the ciliary body. They form perfectly, all by themselves, and pull on the lens to changes it curvature in focusing.

I can’t prove that this didn’t come about accidentally. Neither can I believe it.

 

The Details (Wherein Lurketh the Devil)

At every level, complexity mounts. The following simplified description of the biochemical functioning of the retina is from Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution by Michael Behe. The book, which I recommend, is accessible to the intelligent laymen, for whom it is written. The author includes the following technoglop to give a flavor of what is involved in vision. The sensible reader will skip through most of it.

When light first strikes the retina a photon interacts with a molecule called 11-cis-retinal, which rearranges within picoseconds to trans-retinal. (A picosecond is about the time it takes light to travel the breadth of a single human hair.) The change in the shape of the retinal molecule forces a change in the shape of the protein, rhodopsin, to which the retinal is tightly bound. The protein’s metamorphosis alters its behavior. Now called metarhodopsin II, the protein sticks to another protein, called transducin. Before bumping into metarhodopsin II, transducin had tightly bound a small molecule called GDP. But when transducin interacts with metarhodopsin II, the GDP falls off, and a molecule called GTP binds to transducin. (GTP is closely related to, but critically different from, GDP.)

GTP-transducin-metarhodopsin II now binds to a protein called phosphodiesterase, located in the inner membrane of the cell. When attached to metarhodopsin II and its entourage, the phosphodiesterase acquires the chemical ability to “cut” a molecule called cGMP (a chemical relative of both GDP and GTP). Initially there are a lot of cGMP molecules in the cell, but the phosphodiesterase lowers its concentration, just as a pulled plug lowers the water level in a bathtub. Another membrane protein that binds cGMP is called an ion channel. It acts as a gateway that regulates the number of sodium ions in the cell. Normally the ion channel allows sodium ions to flow into the cell, while a separate protein actively pumps them out again. The dual action of the ion channel and pump keeps the level of sodium ions in the cell within a narrow range. When the amount of cGMP is reduced because of cleavage by the phosphodiesterase, the ion channel closes, causing the cellular concentration of positively charged sodium ions to be reduced. This causes an imbalance of charge across the cell membrane that, finally, causes a current to be transmitted down the optic nerve to the brain. The result, when interpreted by the brain, is vision. If the reactions mentioned above were the only ones that operated in the cell, the supply of 11-cis-retinal, cGMP, and sodium ions would quickly be depleted. Something has to turn off the proteins that were turned on and restore the cell to its original state. Several mechanisms do this. First, in the dark the ion channel (in addition to sodium ions) also lets calcium ions into the cell. The calcium is pumped back out by a different protein so that a constant calcium concentration is maintained. When cGMP levels fall, shutting down the ion channel, calcium ion concentration decreases, too. The posphodiesterase enzyme, which destroys cGMP, slows down at lower calcium concentration. Second, a protein called guanylate cyclase begins to resynthesize cGMP when calcium levels start to fall. Third, while all of this is going on, metarhodopsin II is chemically modified by an enzyme called rhodopsin kinase. The modified rhodopsin then binds to a protein known as arrestin, which prevents the rhodopsin from activating more transducin. So the cell contains mechanisms to limit the amplified signal started by a single photon. Trans-retinal eventually falls off of rhodopsin and must be reconverted to 11-cis-retinal and again bound by rhodopsin to get back to the starting point for another visual cycle. To accomplish this, trans-retinal is first chemically modified by an enzyme to trans-retinol— a form containing two more hydrogen atoms. A second enzyme then converts the molecule to 11-cis-retinol. Finally, a third enzyme removes the previously added hydrogen atoms to form 11-cis-retinal, a cycle is complete.

I can perhaps imagine an Airbus 380 assembling itself. I cannot begin to imagine the foregoing evolving on its own. Or working flawlessly for more than a millisecond.

 

Layers of Impossibility

If in an unexplored region of the Amazon Basin you find a grass hut next to a dugout canoe, you may not know who made them, but you suppose that someone must have. This is the theory of Intelligent Design. When you find in nature systems of unfathomable complexity that nonetheless work flawlessly, it is not unreasonable to suspect that they were designed, and perhaps sustained, by someone, or something. I have no idea who or what or why.

Equally mysterious—equally impossible, I would say—is how biological systems can function at all, no matter how they came into being. The workings of every detail of, say, a human body can indeed be explained mechanistically, in terms of chemistry and physics, and this is the result that comes out of experimentation. In the laboratory you can show, or seem to show, that enzyme A binds to enzyme B, activating enzyme C and allowing enzyme D to do whatever enzyme D does. (You can show that a massive federal program makes sense in detail. But does it work in practice?)

But to believe that 180 pounds of infinitely complex, interacting chemical reactions (me, for example) can go on for seventy years without utter collapse requires powers of belief beyond the wildest imaginings of religious faith. The whole is less possible than the sum of its parts. Something is going on that we do not understand.

Domain Bloat

Consider a plane geometer. He deals with a limited domain of planes, lines, points, and angles, and nothing else. These produce elegant mathematics and useful results. He cannot deal with volumes, momentum, or tailgate parties, because these cannot be derived from the elements of his domain. They are beyond the scope of his subject.

 

The domain of the sciences is physics, its elements being space, time, matter, and energy, however hyphenated. Everything in science ultimately reduces to physics. Evolution is the physics of interactions of biochemical systems with their physical environment over time, and thus also is a subset of physics. Nothing can happen in evolution that does not derive from and follow the laws of physics.

Just as a baseball game cannot be derived from or be explained by plane geometry, which does not contain matter, energy, time, or space of three dimensions, neither can such things as thought, consciousness, morality, volition, or exaltation be explained by physics. The desire to strangle your mother-in-law does not fall out of the equations of motion. When evolutionists try to explain behavior such as altruism in terms of physics (which is what they are doing, though most of them don’t know it) they are like a plane geometer trying to explain a cheeseburger in terms of lines and angles in a plane. It can’t be done. The trouble with the sciences (though not with all scientists) is exactly this, that they try to explain within the domain of physics things that are outside of its purview.

 

Studying Us: Explaining the Explainers

The sciences get into particular difficulties when they try to explain the explainer, which is to say us. Consider the brain which, we are told, is just an electrochemical machine. Everything that happens in the brain, we are told, follows the laws of chemistry and physics.

And this certainly seems to be the case. For example, neurotransmitters diffuse across the synaptic gap: pure chemistry and physics. They bind to receptors on the other side: pure chemistry and physics. Enzymes like acetylcholinesterase clear the residue from the gap: pure chemistry and physics. The resulting nervous impulse sails down the distal fiber as it depolarizes, sodium in, potassium out: pure chemistry and physics. It is as mechanical as a 1901 typewriter.

Which means that the brain cannot, and thus we cannot, make choices. Physical systems cannot choose what to do. A bowling ball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument cannot decide to fall up, or sideways, instead of down, nor choose how fast to fall, nor how far. Similarly, the end point of a physical system is determined by starting conditions. A molecule of a neurotransmitter binds ineluctably to a receptor because of stereochemistry and charge. It cannot not bind.

It follows then that we cannot choose one action over another. Our thoughts are predetermined by the physicochemical states of our brains. We think what we think because it is physically impossible to think anything else. Thus we cannot think at all. QED. Tell me why this isn’t true.

Unless Something Else is going on. I don’t know what.

Paradox is a consequence of domain bloat. Descartes famously said, “Cogito ergo sum.” Ambrose Bierce less famously but more insightfully said, “Cogito cogito, ergo cogito sum. Cogito.”

 

Survival of the Survivors

Most people think that, “fitness” meaning “suitability for a purpose,” survival of the fittest means that the smarter, stronger, and faster survive and produce more offspring than the stupid, weak, and slow. It does not. The study of such things is called population genetics and, as a professor of it says, “In population genetics, fitness means the rate of successful reproduction, nothing else.” That is, fitness does not promote survival, but is survival. The circularity is well known: Why do they survive? Because they are fit. How do you know that they are fit? Because they survive.

If fitness means the rate of successful reproduction, we encounter the interesting conclusion that a woman with a genetic IQ of sixty and twelve genetically retarded children by forty-five drive-by fathers is more fit than a Harvard math professor who runs Triathlons but has two children.

If instead of “fitness” with its almost inescapable overtones of “superiority,” we used “reproduction rate,” clarity would follow. Perish forbid.

A staple of evolutionism is that evolution works to maximize the number of offspring, thus passing on successful genes. This is plausible but, in the case of us, counter to observation (but why let facts debilitate a perfectly good theory?) The populations of advanced countries, all of which could easily support larger numbers of people, are actually falling. For example, Japan, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Russia. In Mexico, as the standard of living rises, the birth rate falls sharply. How one passes on one’s genes by not passing them on is a mystery of population genetics.

Meanwhile the populations of black Africa, the civilizational equivalents of the unwed mother with an IQ of 60, grow rapidly. Which is to say that in advanced countries, reproduction of individuals is inversely proportional to circumstances favoring it–intelligence health, wealth, and education. Among nations, as noted, a similar phenomenon exists.

When this is pointed out, evolutionists hem and haw (or should I say hem and her?), sometimes say that evolution no longer applies to humans, (though they simultaneously insist that evolution is ongoing and rapid) and then often blame falling populations on contraception, as if this were an outside force, like drought or a new predator. But saying that contraception causes falling populations ls like saying that spears cause hunting. People wanted to eat, so they invented spears. They wanted not to have children, so they invented contraception. Not passing on one’s genes is now almost a preoccupation.

Another peculiarity is populational altruism. Countries with declining populations intentionally import inferior but more-fecund genetic groups. Sweden for example imports black Africans. In the United States, the white population feeds and clothes huge numbers of genetically utterly distinct blacks, and actually seems to be growing them. The Darwinian advantage of this is elusive.

 

Current Human Evolution

Evolutionists insist that human evolution continues today at a rapid pace. There is nothing illogical in this to the extent that it is a matter of selective breeding and that evolution is defined as a change in phenotype. In some cases it can be shown to happen.

Consider for example cognitive stratification, in which very smart people tend to go to Ivy universities, marry each other, and produce smart children. The children will tend to revert toward the mean but, as they interbreed, the mean will rise. Thus a fairly distinct subpopulation comes about.

While such things certainly can occur, problems arise in the evolutionists’ casual attribution of traits to evolutionary change. The first is that “selective pressure” usually cannot be measured and cannot be correlated with its purported results. Traits are regularly attributed to genes that have not been demonstrated acted upon by selective pressures that cannot be quantified to produce results that cannot be correlated with the pressures. The second is that results often seem to be inversely related to what would seem to be obvious selective advantage.

Often it seems that evolution is driven less by selective pressure than by the absence of selective pressure. Before the advent of modern medicine, people with inferior genetic endowments– low resistance to disease, or possession of genetic diseases such as diabetes, serious retardation, etc.–tended to die before reproducing. This selective pressure served to keep those diseases at a low level in the population. Today the defective are kept alive to reproductive age, have children, and thus rapidly increase the prevalence of those diseases in the population.

There is the curious fact that traits of very little obvious value flourish, while those seemingly important do not. Consider the epicanthic fold, which makes the Japanese and Chinese “slant-eyed.” Evolutionists I have read assert alternately that the fold serves to conserve energy or to protect the eye against icy winds, thus furthering survival. Characteristically, they cite no studies demonstrating that the fold does either of these things: In evolution, plausibility substitutes for evidence. The fold has become universal in the populations, suggesting that powerful selective pressures must have been responsible.

But what pressures? Do we really believe that the fold provides enough protection to the eye, if it provides any at all, to result in its possessor having more children than others? Do foldless Vikings go blind? Where is the evolutionary noise level? At what point is the selective advantage, if any, so slight as to make no difference?

Which brings us to a baffling question. Why does a trait with very little or no reproductive value–the fold–become universal, when traits such as high intelligence, great physical prowess, astonishing eyesight, and so on not become even common? The genes for all of these already exist in the population without the need for mutations.

If traits that conduce to reproduction become evermore prevalent, it follows that traits that do not become prevalent do not conduce to reproduction. These would seem to include the aforementioned–intelligence, strength, and so on–as these seem no more common now than in classical antiquity.

If human evolution continues today at a rapid pace as evolutionists say (and indeed it may) it follows that selective pressures must be fairly intense. It is reasonable to ask, what pressures to what end? Cognitive stratification–the self-selection of people with IQs of perhaps 130 and up–qualifies and may lead to a blurry-edged yet distinct subpopulation.

Yet pressures would otherwise seem to be low now. In modern human populations, in which almost no one dies in infancy, almost everyone marries, and almost everyone has the same small number of children, the number of offspring is not determined by life-or-death selection. The football captain gets the prom queen, but the class nerd gets the nerdette and can have as many children. Almost everyone lives past reproductive age, so there is little culling effect as the slow are eaten by wolves. The genetically sickly are kept alive and allowed to reproduce by medicine. Consequently it is hard to image Darwinian selection occurring with much ferocity.

Nor can I see evidence for more than minor changes in the 2500 years since Fifth-Century Athens. Statues by Phidias and Praxiteles and later Roman copies show people exactly like us. It is impossible to give IQ tests to the long dead, but Plato and Archimedes seem very like the best minds of today, and the writings of such as Xenophon are indistinguishable in complexity, clarity, and quality of mind from good modern writers. Nothing suggests that the ancients were any less athletic, bellicose, or agile than we are, or that they had senses any less acute. The 2500 years of rapid evolution appear to have produce a net of zero.

 

A Thing is Not Possible Merely Because It Happens: The Tarantula Hawk

It is easy to imagine how a complex system, once in existence, can, within limits, evolve under the influence of selective pressures. Any dog breeder can demonstrate this. Or think of the path from Eohippus to Clydesdale. The difficulty lies in knowing how the system came about in the first place.

Consider the Tarantula Hawk, a gigantic wasp that begins life as an egg inside a paralyzed and buried tarantula, where its mother put it. This may seem unmotherly, but there is no accounting for taste. The egg hatches. The larva feeds on the spider, somehow knowing how to avoid the vital organs so as to keep the monster alive and fresh. It pupates and then, a new adult, digs its way out of the burrow.

Off it flies. Never having seen another wasp, or anything else, it finds one, and knows how to mate. (Mating, if you think about it, is a rather more complex process than it may seem to high-schoolers. Some insects mate while flying, which compounds the trickiness. Think airline pilots and stewardesses.) Never having seen a tarantula, it knows how to find one, knows that it needs to attack it, knows exactly how to sting it, knows that it must drag it to its burrow, which it knows it has to dig, knows how to lay its egg on the tarantula and how to bury it.

Now, some of this may be imagined as evolving by gradual steps (emphasis on “imagined,” which in matters evolutionary is good enough) as required by Darwin. All it takes is enough time. In enough time, anything desired will happen. Of millions and billions of eggs deposited in unfortunate tarantulas, over millions of years, some larvae ate the spider’s vital organs and so died in a rotting spider, not passing on their genes. Others pupated but tried to dig out by going downwards or sideways, thus dying and not passing on their genes. Only those with don’t-eat-the-important-parts mutations and this-way-is-up mutations survived, and so their genes became universal. This we are told.

But…but knowing what a tarantula looks like when you have never seen one, or seen anything, knowing that you need to sting it and just how, that you need to dig a burrow and drag the spider to it, and cover it up, when all of this has to occur in order or the whole process fails….

You have to be smoking Drano.

The necessity of doing several things in a specific order or the whole thing fails might be called procedural irreducible complexity. We will see other kinds later.

 

The Bot Fly

The human bot fly is a squat, ugly, hairy fly that (in one version anyway) catches a mosquito, lays its eggs on on said mosquito after positioning it correctly, and attaches them with a kind of glue. It releases the mosquito. When the little feathery syringe lands on, say, a human, the eggs drop off, hatch, and burrow into the host. These make nasty raised lumps with something wiggling inside them. Later the larvae exit, fall to the ground, and pupate.

How did this evolve? Did a grab-a-mosquito gene occur as a random mutation (assuming that a single mutation could cause such complex behavior)? It would have to be a grab-a-mosquito-but-don’t-cripple-it gene. That is an awful lot of precise behavior for one mutation. At this point the bot fly would have a mosquito but no idea what to do with it. It would need simultaneously to have a stick-eggs-on-mosquito mutation. This would seem to require another rather ambitious gene.

Catching the mosquito without laying the eggs, or squashing the mosquito in the process, or laying eggs in midair without having caught the mosquito, would seem a losing proposition. None of these awfully-lucky mutations would be of use without the others. How do you evolve this elaborate dance by gradual steps?

There’s not enough Drano.

 

Hornets, Yet

Living things are impossible, but some are more so. Consider brains. Larger brains supposedly allow more-complex behavior. In a laptop civilization, we refer to this as “processing power.” But consider hornets, cautiously. These have very complex behavior but almost no brains or other nervous tissue. Yet their unbrains control six multiply-joined legs (any robotics engineer will tell you that this is a massive problem), and allow them to fly precisely, also a very difficult problem. They know just how to chew wood fiber to make a paste from which they know how to construct complex nests. They know how and when to mate, which is not a simple process. The same barely existent nervous system operates various senses and interprets the resulting data, which also isn’t easy. They find food, inform the others of its location, and navigate effortlessly over long distances.

Even worse than hornets: Here you see very little and, and very little of very little ant consists of nervous tissue. Yet they too build nests, control legs, and senses, and digestive organs, find food, care for young, and lots more. It takes an evolutionist not to suspect that something is going on that we do not understand.
Even worse than hornets: Here you see very little and, and very little of very little ant consists of nervous tissue. Yet they too build nests, control legs, and senses, and digestive organs, find food, care for young, and lots more. It takes an evolutionist not to suspect that something is going on that we do not understand.

Yet hornets are pointy-headed intellectuals compared to pharaoh ants, above, those super-tiny picnic abominations of which several would fit on a hornet’s eye. They too have complex social organization and so on—with hardly any neurons. In general, the behavior of social insects is probably more complex than that of whales. It is inexplicable, or at least unexplained.

 

Metamorphosis: You Can’t Get There from Here

Straight-line evolution, for example in which Eohippus gradually gets larger until it reaches Clydesdale, is plausible because each intervening step is a viable animal. Darwin himself pointed this out. In fact it is just selective breeding. Yet many evolutionary transformations seem to require intermediate stages that could not survive. Metamorphosis in insects is perhaps the most baffling example.

Consider. There are two-cycle bugs that lay eggs that hatch into tiny replicas of the adults, which grow, lay eggs, and repeat the cycle. The four-cycle bugs go through egg, larva, pupa, adult. Question: What are the viable steps needed to evolve from two-cycle to four-cycle? Or from anything to four-cycle?

 

The eggs of the two-cycler would have to evolve toward being caterpillars, which are enormously different structurally and otherwise from adults. Goodbye legs, chitinous exoskeleton; head, thorax, and abdomen, on and on. Whatever the first mutation toward this end, the resulting newly-hatched mutant would have to be viable—able to live and reproduce until the next mutation occurred.

Let us consider this question carefully.

We begin with a two-cycle bug, that for convenience we will call a roach, which will endeavor to evolve into a bug that, also for convenience, we will assume to be a butterfly. The roach has the insect’s standard body plan of head, thorax, and abdomen, and the usual chitinous exoskeleton. From a spirit of charity we will assume that it is a flying roach to give it a head start toward butterflyhood.

To achieve that exalted end, our roach would first have to evolve into a caterpillar–that is, a larval form. It is difficult to see how this could occur at all, or why. To become a caterpillar, our roach would have to lose its jointed legs, exoskeleton, and body plan. Since not even the most hopeful evolutionist could attribute such sweeping changes to one mutation, the transformation would have to proceed by steps involving at least several and probably many mutations. Losing the exoskeleton would leave it unarmored and unable to walk, not an obvious selective advantage. Or do we believe that head, thorax, and abdomen first merged mediated by a long chain of accidental mutations under mysterious selective pressures , and then it lost its exoskeleton and became, well– bait?

But if these things did happen, they would lead to a free-standing race of caterpillars, a new species, necessarily being able to reproduce. Then, for reasons mysterious to me, these would have to decide to pupate and become butterflies. And the butterfly would have to lay eggs that became caterpillars.

Which could not possibly work. Metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is very complex and if you don’t get it right the first time, it’s curtains. It would depend on a great many steps which would have to appear simultaneously. First, our caterpillar would have to use its spinnerets (of mysterious provenance, but never mind) to make a cocoon, in which would proceed to die because it hadn’t yet evolved metamorphosis. Why a caterpillar would think of doing this is not clear. To turn successfully into a butterfly, it would need the biochemical machinery to transform a mushy, legless, wingless, head-thorax-abdomenless worm into an utterly different creature. Where would it have gotten the impossibly complex genetic blueprint of the butterfly?

Methinks something is going on that we do not understand.

Note that the questions posed by these bugs are not merely pleasant musings on a slow afternoon. Either the Theory of Evolution can explain them, or the theory fails. The problem is usually referred to as that of Irreducible Complexity, the requirement that a great many mutations each of no value in itself, or actually harmful, appear simultaneously to create a given outcome.

 

Irreducible Complexity

This term, implied in the foregoing, refers to the frequently observed existence in living organisms of systems that depend for their functioning on the simultaneous presence of things that would be either useless or detrimental by themselves, and thus make no evolutionary sense. For example, none of the individual steps of the bot fly’s complicated behavior with its mosquito would be of use.

This problem of irreducible complexity occurs everywhere in living things. One might list them in their thousands. Consider the stinging mechanism of our hornet. It consists of a biochemical factory to make the venom (why did that evolve?); a sac to contain it until needed; muscles to eject the poison into the stinger; the stinger, a long, thin, tube; and muscles to force the stinger into the victim (and other muscles to retract the stinger, or else it could sting only once, which is not the case). Take away any of these, and nothing happens. None of these pars is of any value unless all the others are also present. These observations are not just philosophical musings on a slow afternoon. If evolutionism cannot explain irreducible complexity, Darwinian theory fails.

Evolutionists insist that irreducible complexity does not exist. If this is true, then any biological system can in principle be simplified step by step back to its origins in the primeval seas without producing intermediate stages that could not survive. In practice, complexity would make this impossible even with a single cell. But consider protein synthesis. The coding system for aminos is both simple and well understood.

Each amino acid in the new protein is coded for by codons consisting of three nuclear bases. There being four nucleotides, a codon of three allows sixty-four triplets, enough to code for the twenty aminos, some control codons, and redundancy. How could this system be simplified without becoming nonfunctional? By reducing the number of nucleotides per codon from three to two? This would allow coding only sixteen amino acids instead of twenty, with no STOPs or STARTs, insufficient to support life. If, magically, it did support life, how could that be simplified? The current system seems a clear and unambiguous case of irreducible complexity, incapable of simplification.

 

The Two Cop-Outs

Traits often arise for which there is no good evolutionary explanation. Evolutionists here have two escape hatches, (1) conservation of energy, and (2) sexual selection. For example, if one points out that humans are weak and would be more survivable if they were as strong as, say, chimpanzees, the response is that having larger muscles would require a higher caloric intake to maintain them, and lead to starvation if there were a drought. Sexual selection: If peacocks have hugely conspicuous tails that would attract predators, the explanation is that all the girls love a good tail, so the guy leaves more children. Let’s look at these notions.

Conservation of energy: Human beings are conspicuous in the natural world for being weak and slow, and for having poor senses of smell and hearing. Why? Evolutionists have multiple stories. One is that because humans walk upright, they can see farther on open veldt and thus have substituted vision for other senses that just are not necessary.

This makes no sense which, as so often in matters evolutionary, doesn’t matter. Obviously being able to detect approaching predators at night by smell would be a great advantage. Lions are the color of dirt and dead vegetation and take advantage of both. Horses, which have good vision, and eyes at about the level of a human’s, have an excellent sense of smell. This story doesn’t live up even to the usual evolutionary standard of vague plausibility.

Another explanation of the poor olfaction of humans is that a more acute sense would require larger olfactory regions in the brain and, since a surprisingly large proportion of the body’s energy is expended by the brain, these larger olfactory regions would increase the need for food and cause starvation in time of famine.

Does this make sense? No.

Consider. Rats have a much better sense of smell than do humans, which they use in finding what they regard as food. A rat’s brain weighs two grams, a human’s about 1350. Let us assume that a rats entire brain is dedicated to smell, which of course it isn’t. Adding all of a rat’s brain to the human would increase its size from 1350 to 1352 grams, an increase of 2/1350 or .15%, Since the brain uses 15% of a human’s energy budget, the overall increase in energy requirements is 2/1350 X 100 X .15, or .02%. Not 2%, but .02%. This minute increase cannot possibly offset the advantages of an acute sense of smell. The same reasoning applies to other senses, such as hearing. And of course people already have olfactory regions. They just don’t do much.

Sexual selection: Another way of explaining things that otherwise make no sense is “sexual selection.” Many things would seem to work against survival, yet persist in nature: huge antlers not usable in combat, the gorgeous tails of peacocks, and large breasts in humans, among many others. Why do women have conspicuous breasts? They are not needed to produce adequate milk, and they are a substantial physical disadvantage in running. Why do they continue to exist?

Why the curious headgear? The horns are useless in defense as the animal would have to stand on its head to present them to an enemy. They cannot help balance or speed. We are to believe that they serve as sexual attractants to make the girls swoon as otherwise they would be inexplicable.
Why the curious headgear? The horns are useless in defense as the animal would have to stand on its head to present them to an enemy. They cannot help balance or speed. We are to believe that they serve as sexual attractants to make the girls swoon as otherwise they would be inexplicable.

The answer is sexual selection: men are attracted to large breasts, so those women with them mate and have more children. This suggests that women with modest endowments will have trouble getting laid, which in turn suggests that evolutionists need to get out more.

The problems with sexual selection are twofold. First is that sexual selection requires a pre-existing attraction to large breasts. Otherwise in a cave society when the first woman through mutation appeared with big ones, we would hear one cave man say to another, “Geez, Urk Urk, what’s wrongwith Sally?” “Beats, me, Ralph. Maybe it’s cancer.” But why would there be a preference for large breasts when there were no large breasts to prefer?

The second problem is that if sexual selection favored large breasts, by now most women would have them, which visibly is not the case. (Again, compare Greek statues of 2500 years ago. They look like us.) And of course, when the sexually-selected trait became general in the population, it would cease to be of advantage. Presumably, since breasts are a physical disadvantage, women with smaller ones would survive more frequently, and small hooters would be an advantage.

 

The Problem of Consciousness

While consciousness seems the defining characteristic of life, (“I am conscious, therefore I am.”) or at least of the higher forms of animal life, it cannot be derived from physics. It cannot even be detected instrumentally. Are ants conscious–or, for that matter, rocks? Are dogs less conscious than people, and ants less conscious than dogs? Or are they just less intelligent? How could we tell? The questions may seem silly, but they are not. They are tied up with our ability to make decisions, which physics says we cannot. Again, our brains, which are physical systems, cannot act on decisions any more than a dropped bowling ball can decide to fall sideways.

Here is something outside of physics, and therefore outside of evolution, which must be ignored, and is.

 

There Must Be a Virus

When people have engaged in bitter ideological war over a theoretical ship dear to them, they tend to overlook the cracks and stains and leaks in the planking. Evolutionism is full of such. An unaffiliated skeptic can point them out in droves.

In evolution, traits which conduce to survival, and thus to the passing on of genes, are supposed to flourish, while traits that work against this happy passing on, or simply do nothing, are supposed to be eliminated. Does this happen?

Often, yes. Not infrequently, no.

An obvious problem is male homosexuality. Homosexuals seldom have children. How does not passing on one’s genes contribute to passing on one’s genes? The condition would seem to be a prime candidate for elimination by evolution, yet it has apparently been with us forever. If this cannot be explained away, then something is wrong with the theory in at least this case.

Here evolutionists fall back on their Maginot Line, vague plausibility. For example Greg Cochran, a physicist at the University of Utah, says that a virus causes homosexuality. The evidence for this virus? Homosexuality. Yet the chief characteristic of the virus unfortunately seems to be indetectability: No one can find it. Without this virus, the evolution would fail, at least at this point. Therefore a virus must, must, must exist. We infer reality from the needs of our theory.

Other reproductive traits suffer from similar inexplicability: what is the reproductive value of suicide, masochism, sadism, schizophrenia, and so on? Should these not be filtered from the gene pool? Must we invoke viruses to explain these too? Schizophrenia: A Neanderthal who thought that the CIA put transmitters in his teeth and tried to shake hands with Kodiak bears might limit his reproductive opportunities. While a suicide who blows himself up with a bomb may be said to be disseminating his DNA, it serves little reproductive purpose. Yet all of these things have been with us forever.

I therefore propose the existence of a virus for each of these peculiarities. And perhaps one for sun spots.

Again, the problem is Domain Bloat, insisting that one’s theory explains what it can explain but also what it can’t.

Next, consider pain. If you step on broken glass, it hurts, so you stop doing it, and don’t end up crippled and eaten by wolves, and so you can pass on your genes upon encountering an amiable maiden. This makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is the agonizing pain caused by many circumstances about which, pre-medicine, the victim could do nothing. Kidney stones, for example, are paralyzingly painful. A choroidal hemorrhage, behind the retina, is hideous. The agony has no utility since the premodern sufferer could do nothing about it. For that matter, the contribution of migraines to survival is not apparent, as a person rolling on the ground and clutching his head would seem vulnerable to ingestion. On and on. Why the abundant pain receptors with no function? Why do they not, like Marx’s state, wither away?

Perhaps instead of asking, “How does evolution explain a thing?” we should occasionally ask, “Does evolution explain it?”

 

Impossible, Impossibler, ImpossiblestMorality

Clear examples of things outside the domain of physics are morality, right and wrong, Good and Evil. A Darwinist cannot say that some things are intrinsically wrong. “Wrong” cannot be derived from physics. Instead he must show that moral behavior exists because it promotes the passing on of genes. Thus, I nurse my brother back to health when he has a broken leg because together we can protect ourselves and our women better and thus pass on our genes.

This of course runs into all sorts of problems. In Moslem countries, “honor kills” are thought acceptable: killing one’s daughter on discovering that she had engaged in sex before marriage (thus offering to pass on her, and her father’s, genes, but never mind). In Christian countries, this is called “first-degree murder,” and likely results in Dad’s sitting in a funny chair with wires running to it. Are we to believe that Moslem genomes contain a kill-daughter gene? Or is the obvious explanation, culture, to blame?

It is interesting that evolutionists do not believe their own doctrine. Suppose a Darwinist found out that my hobby was using a blowtorch to torture to death children with severe genetic retardation. He would be horrified, and should be.

“Why?” I would ask. “We certainly do not want genetically defective young passing on their extremely defective genes. Caring for them expends resources that would be better spent in raising more children to pass on our genes. Torturing them has no more evolutionary meaning than killing them instantly. Actually, all I am doing is terminating certain chemical reactions and initiating others. What then is your objection?”

His objection would of course be that torturing children is wrong. But, again, “wrong” doesn’t exist within the domain of physics, and so of Darwinism. Domain bloat.

 

In Conclusion

If the Darwinian explanation is wrong, what explanation is right? I can answer with confidence and brio: “I don’t know.” Many will concur with me. Others adhere to belief in what is called Intelligent Design. This is the view that someone, or somebody, or something, designed the universe, or at least the living part of it. This is not unreasonable. Darwinists agree that things look designed, but insist that the appearance is deceptive. The religious unsurprisingly find ID congenial, and attribute things to their particular deity. Note that the question of whether Darwin is wrong is independent of what one may believe to be right, and that suspecting design does not require being religious. The earth may be the petri dish of some space alien teenager and the end may come when his mother tells him to get his science project out of her refrigerator.

 

Here, briefly and inadequately, we come to the evidence for intelligence. This is a voluminous and vexed matter, and here we can only glance dimly at it.

How can we tell whether intelligence was involved in the design of things? William Dembsky has said that if an event is highly improbable, yet comports with an independent standard, then intelligence must have been involved.

Suppose that in a search for extraterrestrial intelligence you are digitizing signals from another galaxy. These will consist of random noise, regular signals from pulsars, and so on. No sign of intelligence here. Then one day you receive the first one hundred prime numbers in order. This is extremely unlikely. Yet they conform to an independent standard: the definition of a prime number. Your conclusion is that they have in intelligent source. This is the principle of SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which has nothing to do with evolution.

Again ignoring obvious complexities, a genome, the information defining a person, is phenomenally unlikely, yet conforms to an independent standard, the codon code. Thus intelligence must be involved. Here we are compressing a hundred pages of theory and mathematics into a couple of paragraphs, and also encountering the fascinating question of whether information ought to join space, time, matter, and energy as a fundamental component of reality.

 

For those curious about the many, many objections to orthodox evolutionism, chemical, mathematical, and paleontological, held by many more scientists than CBS will tell you, I recommend the following books:

Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution by Michael Behe, Professor of Biochemistry, Lehigh University Probably the best book for those unfamiliar with the subject, clear, accessible to the intelligent layman, with the technical detail in the appendices.

The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Evolution, by Michael Behe

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, Intelligent Design, by Stephen C. Meyer. Meyer, a physicist by training, received his doctorate from Cambridge University in the philosophy of science.

 

Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the case for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer

Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition that Life is Designed by Douglas Axe

“After completing his PhD in chemistry at Caltech,Axe held postdoctoral and research scientist positions at the University of Cambridge and the Cambridge Medical Research Council Centre.

 
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  1. Bravo Fred, great essay. Add some Phenomenon of Man and Devine Presence of Teilhard de Chardin, as salt and pepper! Enticing and all genuine!

  2. I will get transcendently stupid email saying that I am a snake-handling primitive Christian in North Carolina with three teeth.

    Ahaaa! So, now you know how it feels when you talk shit about your commenters who often don’t agree with you. I know you are in Mexico and it’s probably scorpions rather than snakes that you handle. I can see you are somewhat religious right here, and I don’t know how many real teeth you have left. Alright, they exaggerate a little.

    This is one of the subjects of yours that interests me quite a bit, and I even agree with you from what I usually read from you on it. I’ll read the whole thing, with likely no comment. Thanks!

    Oh, is that you at the end of the video with the barbecued iguana?

    • LOL: Jim Christian
  3. Rosie says:

    I haven’t read this essay yet. It will be probably take me days to get around to it, but what is it with all the hot guys doing ID research? I have a bit of a crush on both Meyer and Axe, and then there’s this hottie, Jay Richards:

    Like, WTF? Are they deliberately going out and finding these photogenic guys to advocate for theism or is it just a coincidence? The thought actually occurred to me that good-looking people might be more likely to believe in God on account of their charmed lives. I’d be interested in seeing some data on that.

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
    , @Truth
  4. Grassy says:

    They all fit Lovelock’s Gaia IMHO.

  5. This is one of Fred’s best essays ever. I loved it the first time, and I came away convinced. It’s good to see it again. It has so many attractive traits that it keeps reappearing. It has some kind of literary advantage, but it was made by its creator, Fred.

  6. Honestly, the evolution-true believers are the ones who had to form a cult based on flawed science and more flawed ideas to try to compensate for the fact sensible scientists of the era thought this was lunacy. Mostly just the usual drive to overthrow the civilizational order of things and remove “God.” I mean, it’s not like Lord Kelvin was an idiot, but here we are, with modern “scientific” types thinking anyone who can point out genetic flaws in Evolutionary theory is, as you say, “a snake-handling Christian.”

  7. I really like your raids on the Church of Evolution. The dogmatic priests within its walls are unmoved by the attacks, but to us outside the walls the forays are enjoyable. As David Berlinski has said, Darwinian evolution is preposterous. I couldn’t agree more.

    OT. I figured you had to be a fan of the great Ambrose Bierce. Anyone who can understand ‘The Devil’s Dictionary’ (not that many in my experience) is worth taking seriously. I always use the names Jogo Tyree and Gat Huckle online as an homage to his genius.

  8. TJM says: • Website

    Good ol’ Fred brings out the old essay again with changes. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is obviously crap. Intelligence Design also doesn’t pass the smell test. I mean, look around.
    Personally I’m leaning towards the alien playing a computer game like Tron and we are the algorithm’s creations. Deja vu’s are glitches, just like in The Matrix. What is real if anything?
    If Earth is destroyed does the alien “lose” the game to his competitors on Planet X? Or does he win?
    A year ago the simulation was much different. Now the game seems to be falling apart. Perhaps a computer virus has infected our Alien Computer Master’s game code?
    The Alien needs to put on a mask and socially distance himself from his algorithm immediately.

  9. @Rosie

    Jay is gay and will one day be beaten to death by 75 filthy orcs at a black Lives Matter March. He will have died peacefully once his brains were stomped out of his skull. It’s just evolution. Soft and pretty Jay-types don’t last long in hard circumstances. Women wouldn’t want him either, seeing his obvious weakness.

    • Replies: @Truth
  10. Big Daddy says:

    What is is. God made it.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @animalogic
  11. Evolution and climate “science” are the PC of the scientific world. Valid scientific theories can make accurate predictions. The warmies make prediction after prediction that fail. Yet we are supposed to believe the next prediction, and give up our modern lifestyles to avert catastrophe. At least evolutionists don’t want to do that.

  12. Rosie says:

    Having read this essay in full now, I can say that it only confirms my impressions of this whole controversy.

    That is, evolution true-believers and skeptics are temperamentally different. To much ridicule, I surmised in a previous thread that evolution skeptics have a strong sense of “wonder and delight” about the natural world, and evolutionists do not. You are either impressed by certain things, such as ants forming into a collective ball to avoid drowning, or you are not. This seems to be an aesthetic judgment that cannot be resolved one way or the other.

    On the other hand, evolution true-believers have a visceral antipathy to any explanation that has, as Stephen Meyer says, “theistic implications.” They are just repulsed by it, and this is evident in the fact that, as Mr. Reed demonstrates and repeatedly emphasizes throughout this piece, they equate plausibility with confirmation. In doing so, they make a clear value judgment about intelligence as a possible explanation. They are, in fact, so averse to it, that they consider the remotest possibility of a nearly-unthinkable series of coincidences to be a superior explanation than a “cause now in operation” (Meyer’s term for intelligence as a known, observable cause of information such as hieroglyphics, computer code, or DNA). It is not possible to reason with such people.

    • Replies: @Ghan
  13. Dwright says:

    Now do astronomy. Talk about over stepping your limits.
    Tell me how you can ascertain the actual size, climate, habitability of a newly discovered planet that you can’t even see through a telescope, just the effects it has on a star which is also difficult to gather much information.

    We have to take their word for it. What status or funding can be achieved if a class of scientists admitted to how much of their work is pure speculation and conjecture.

    • Replies: @Gordon K. Shumway
  14. A great article!

    I discovered Rupert Sheldrake some time ago. His theory of morphic resonance is interesting.


    Everyone wants his particular discipline to be scientific to the point of fraudulently using the word ‘science’ as part of the title to the discipline or the general area, such as ‘social science’ or ‘political science’. Those attempts to associate themselves with science are clearly bogus, but doesn’t dissuade them from trying to elevate their nonsense by association.

    Whole fields of inquiry are largely just an ongoing fraud perpetrated by ‘priests’ that believe in their nonsense and demand we take them seriously. A huge portion of the population has little to no scientific background and are easily swayed by some PhD in Economics, Philosophy, Sociology, etc because they have a university vouching for their bullshit.

    This is the real problem in science to day. The university system bestows legitimacy on disciplines that can’t prove a damned thing.

    • Replies: @Rosie
  15. @Dwright

    If they do find one, I’d like to move there. This planet is going off the rails.

  16. The earth has a natural history, it’s recorded in the rocks.
    It’s how we know where to find and drill for oil.
    There’s a particular point in the geological strata, 65 million years ago, where there is what used to be called the “iridium anomaly”.
    Huge spike in iridium, a rare earth element. It’s been found on every continent.
    Below this line, dinosaur fossils.
    Above this line, no dinosaur fossils have been found.
    Above this line, a mass extinction, followed by an amazingly fast evolution of new species.
    Most notably, the adaptive radiation of mammals into ecological niches formerly occupied by dinosaurs.
    Most notably, homo sapiens.
    Thanks to Walter Alvarez, et. al., we know this was due to a meteor or comet, striking the earth at close to a 45 degree angle in Chicxulub, Yucatan.
    Bad day for planet earth.
    Intelligent design leads to the conclusion that in order to create the intelligent designer’s crowning achievement, homo sapiens, the intelligent designer had to shoot a bb (meteor) or spitball (comet) at the earth to clear a path for human evolution (guided of course, by this intelligent designer).
    As the theologians would say, “It’s a mystery.”

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
    , @Rosie
  17. Daruma says: • Website

    A nice. long article, Fred – I always appreciate your work, even if I disagree with some of it…

    My tendency is to go with the least complicated explanation, which is that of the materialists, although the possibility of some transcendent ‘designer’, YHWH or the alien student, can never be disproved. This view is simplest in that it does not require the addition of yet another force to our universe. I acknowledge the ID people’s issues where they cannot see how many of these evolutionary steps could have come about, but absence of knowledge is not the same as impossibility. After all, most of our modern world would have seemed impossible only a few years ago, and having a working radio a few centuries ago would be proof certain of witchcraft.

    I think the issue the ID group has with evolution is virtually identical to that of the Creationists; evolution of man from a primitive organism by purely material means is felt by them to deny a ‘special place’ for humans in the scheme of things and deny us a ‘Reason For Being’. If we just got here by a series of stochastic events and the slow drift of organic chemicals, then what is the point of it all? My view is that since there is not a provable ‘Reason’, it frees me to find my own. If others want a more Cosmic Reason, one might believe we were put here to free the trapped carbon from the earth’s crust and prevent the low-carbon-dioxide death that the earth’s biome faced during the last Ice Age. Since we are doing such a good job at it, who can argue that we weren’t specifically put here for that purpose?

    For those who wish to add additional trauma to their intellect, there is always my article on the ‘Evolution Wars’ on my website – in itself, quite subversive…

    https://hirocker.com/evolution/evolution.html

    • Replies: @Rosie
  18. Uncle Al says: • Website

    If it was DESIGNED, then it was DESIGNED BY AN IDIOT,

    • Replies: @Gordon K. Shumway
  19. @De'Remiah Jixon

    There’s a site on the Net called ‘Ask a geologist’; I don’t recall the URL.

    Given the Iridium layer is purported to have been deposited in a short period of time, I asked where did all the dirt above that layer come from.

    All I got was a feigned not understanding this simple question. I’m still interested in knowing how Geologists can ignore this issue. It would imply that the earth is growing in size over time; a taboo thought. The idea that volcanic activity, erosion and similar processes can account for the dirt is unsatisfying.

    An increasing mass of the earth would help explain how a dinosaur neck could have supported its weight when lower gravity was associated with a lower earth mass. The new ‘matter’ could be the result of energy to matter conversion via the never ending stream of energy bombarding the earth from the sun and cosmos, along with the occasional bolide collisions. The idea that earth got its water from comets is ludicrous, as an aside.

    Plate tectonics is another problem. I can see the mountains resulting from plates crashing into each other, but I see no evidence of subduction. Subduction is necessary to keep the earth from growing, according to theory.

    From my perspective, multiple wrongs make a right when referring to geology and is why I consider it a half baked science.

    • Replies: @Gordon K. Shumway
  20. Rosie says:
    @De'Remiah Jixon

    Intelligent design leads to the conclusion that in order to create the intelligent designer’s crowning achievement, homo sapiens, the intelligent designer had to shoot a bb (meteor) or spitball (comet) at the earth to clear a path for human evolution (guided of course, by this intelligent designer).
    As the theologians would say, “It’s a mystery.”

    This post is a case in point. There are things evolutionists can’t explain. There are things ID proponents can’t explain. Temperamental atheists choose to disregard the explanatory deficits of Darwinism as a matter of Will, not Intellect. One could argue, of course, that ID proponents do the same. I’m OK with that.

    Nonetheless, I would argue that any smoking gun necessarily overrides any explanatory deficit or unexpected observation, and the necessary priority of genetic information to cellular life is, if anything, better than a smoking gun. Information does not generate itself. Information comes from intelligence, and only from intelligence.

    • Replies: @De'Remiah Jixon
  21. Rosie says:
    @Daruma

    My tendency is to go with the least complicated explanation, which is that of the materialists, although the possibility of some transcendent ‘designer’, YHWH or the alien student, can never be disproved. This view is simplest in that it does not require the addition of yet another force to our universe.

    Here again we see the primacy of aesthetic judgments in this debate. I cannot think of any simpler (i.e. more elegant) explanation for life than an Intelligent Author of the Genetic Information that gives rise to life.

    Not to attack you, Daruma, you seem to be a decent person, and as entitled to your own subjective impressions of simplicity as I am to mine.

    • Replies: @Daruma
  22. Bobby J says:

    An absolutely fascinating essay. Definitely food-for-thought for a long time to come!

    But it does make me wonder about a third alternative, and the possibility that both creationists and evolutionists have got entirely the wrong end of the stick.
    The assumption for both positions seems to be that as far as life is concerned, we on earth live in the best and most perfectly complex of worlds. The disagreement appears to center on how we arrived at that state.

    What direction would that conversation take if it turned out that the initial and foundational assumption of both opposing camps were false?
    I feel confident in stating that the 5 senses available to us are woefully inadequate for accurately perceiving the reality we move through. Even if humans had the visual acuity of hawks, or the olfactory prowess of bloodhounds – amplified though they may be – these are still the same sensory apparatuses already available to us. They would still provide the exact same sensory experience of our reality and the exact same information – just “better”, or “more comprehensive”, perhaps.
    However, for example, much progress has been made in mathematical proofs within the theoretical physics community that there are actually 26 mathematically provable (or at least viable) dimensions (bosonic string theory) or possibly 10 dimensions (superstring theory) that though we can mathematically prove, our 5 senses aren’t equipped to detect. I won’t try to explain the math or pretend I understand it fully, because frankly I’m not nearly bright enough. But assuming the proofs are correct, this adds a whole new dimension (if you’ll pardon me) to the conversation.

    What if the world we perceive as being perfect and irreducible in its complexity is actually a grievous flaw brought about by our central nervous system’s inability to comprehend that which is a mystery in 3 dimensional perception, but perfectly comprehensible in 26/10?
    And I use the statement “3 dimensions” with purpose, as “time” is not a dimension – it’s a trick played on our CNS by our 5 senses. But this is another conversation.

    The example Fred offers of the perfect complexity of the eye’s ability to focus on an object, transmit the information to the brain, and make sense of the data so close to “instantaneously” as to be indistinguishable from “instantaneous” by means of an incredibly complex system of physiology is, of course, absolutely stunning. One could spend a lifetime of research on this phenomenon and how it came to be and not even scratch the surface. The issue is, however, that it is a perfectly understandable and demonstrable explanation of the sense of sight. And the sense of sight may well be useless in understanding and making sense of the reality we exist in. It may actually be a hinderance to understanding the origins of life and reality. It’s what I might call “The Microscope Paradox”:

    You can’t use the same microscope to examine the microscope that you are examining with the microscope you are using to examine and define objective parameters for the microscope.

    You need a baseline reference point, and in questions such as posed in the excellent article above, such a reference point simply can’t exist in 3 dimensions perceived with 5 senses.

    So – what if terrestrial life, as opposed to being a sublime work of either accident or design is actually a colossal cockup?
    How would one know?

    I admit that the following is the crudest of analogies, but I think I can make my point with it –

    Assume a factory somewhere with an assembly line-type function that’s purpose was to make carburetors. Due to an inherent defect in the assembly process, this factory instead made lumps of metal that invariably catch fire and explode. Due to this inherent defect, this is simply “what the end product does”. Assume that you were unable to perceive that the purpose of the factory was to make carburetors. Would it be unreasonable to postulate that you might think that the purpose of the entire assemblage was to create lumps of metal that, when activated, catch fire and explode? Might you stand in awe of the process that must be carried out in *exactly* the correct sequence to produce a product that catches fire and explodes? Might you spend your entire life meticulously researching the methodology for producing the exploding scrap-metal effect and feel confident that you’ve solved the puzzle of “why” it happens, but be at a complete loss to explain “how” the process came to be? And is it unreasonable to think that you might become so immersed in the “whys” and “hows” and “how perfectly it destroys itself/creates a glorious explosion” of the puzzle that it would never occur to you that the entire system was meant to produce something else entirely?

    I’m just taking a thought and running with it. I think some things might simply be unknowable, and I think that’s okay.

    Anyhow – thanks to Fred for a provoking essay!

  23. Wyatt says:

    Good scientists, I have learned, are fanatical autists who live, eat, breathe, and shit their field of study. When you start seeing non-asian coloreds, women (particularly fat ones) and (((scientists))), that should be an automatic indicator that the field is no longer about inquiry, but authority abuse.

    Here’s a test I learned a while back. Ask the “scientist” to explain scientific method. The answer should be simple and contain these five things:

    Observation
    Hypothesis
    Experiment
    Observation
    Conclusion

    If they don’t nail these or even get anywhere close, not a real scientist. Fuck the title and fuck the paper. You’re dealing with an ideologue retard.

    • Troll: Rosie
    • Replies: @nokangaroos
  24. nickels says:

    I got about 3/4 of the way-I will come back.
    All very well stated.

    The insanity and pure stupidity of evolution is stunning once you finally make the break and quite believing it.

    And the implications for the world of science and the world of authority, in general, is also stunning.

    Its all bullsh**

  25. Daruma says: • Website
    @Rosie

    Rosie,

    You are absolutely right that in the absence of evidence, this is all a matter of conjecture and aesthetic judgement.

    My own judgement is that invoking a Designer, whether intelligent or not, just adds another layer of questions – such as why would Anyone bother. But then again, who am I to question the motive of the Gods…

  26. Rosie says:
    @RoatanBill

    Everyone wants his particular discipline to be scientific to the point of fraudulently using the word ‘science’ as part of the title to the discipline or the general area, such as ‘social science’ or ‘political science’. Those attempts to associate themselves with science are clearly bogus, but doesn’t dissuade them from trying to elevate their nonsense by association.

    I am not unsympathetic to this view, as there is no doubt that prestige of science can be abused by frauds pushing a nefarious agenda. The problem is that social life sometimes requires that decisions be made. Often, proper ethical decision-making requires the discovery of facts. Unlike questions of value, questions of fact can never be answered from the comfort of your own armchair. Controlled observation is required. What then should we call such inquiries? “Social science” seems as good a term as any.

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  27. Bill Warner says: • Website

    I haven’t read all of the comments yet, but will after I finish reading this column. I have been amused by the infinite number of monkeys/infinite number of typewriters probability conundrum since 1960, when I first heard Bob Newhart’s commentary about it. Fred’s math is fine, but Newhart’s dismantling of the argument is hilarious. Newhart described a situation in which the monkeys were being monitored by humans, and he reported this to show the futility of the argument that they could eventually write all of the great books. From Wikipedia: Comedian Bob Newhart had a stand-up routine in which a lab technician monitoring an “infinitely many monkeys” experiment discovered that one of the monkeys has typed something of interest. A typical punchline would be: “Hey, Harry! This one looks a little famous: ‘To be or not to be – that is the gggzornonplatt.’”

    ‘Nuff said. Ours is a mysteriously and beautifully complex universe, IMHO.

  28. @Rosie

    The problem is that social life sometimes requires that decisions be made.

    When you start from a flawed premise, all sorts of errors will occur. Your use of the plural ‘decisions’ as opposed to the singular ‘decision’ is where your error starts. There are no decisions, because it eventually boils down to a singular decision imposed from above.

    It is the desire by controllers to impose their version of what’s reasonable that inevitably produces the next set of social issues. If individuals were simply left alone to decide for themselves what their response should be to a given issue, we wouldn’t need the control freaks in gov’t and academia declaring what we all should think and how we all should act.

    If your description in the plural were accurate, we’d have millions of independent decisions being made and over time a natural social consensus would get established with some outliers where we could agree to disagree. It’s when the phony PhD’s get involved to demand we listen to their sage advice that things go off the rails. Inevitably new laws are established to enforce their opinions under penalty.

    Just look at the current election fiasco. Half the country want the left cheek hemorrhoid and the other want the right cheek hemorrhoid. The only reasonable thing to do is to void the process because making THE decision in either direction produces the wrong outcome depending on perspective.

    This is why I’m a political anarchist. The very idea that a singular enforced decision needs to be made is bullshit.

    • Replies: @Rosie
  29. @Rosie

    I would argue that any smoking gun necessarily overrides any explanatory deficit or unexpected observation

    The Chicxulub impactor is the ultimate smoking gun.
    It happened.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicxulub_impactor.
    Not just a smoking gun, it’s the proverbial “killing a fly with a sledgehammer” refutation of intelligent design.
    And the believer in intelligent design can only answer, like the the sophisticated theologian, “It’s a mystery.”

    • Replies: @Rosie
  30. Rosie says:
    @RoatanBill

    If your description in the plural were accurate, we’d have millions of independent decisions being made and over time a natural social consensus would get established with some outliers where we could agree to disagree. It’s when the phony PhD’s get involved to demand we listen to their sage advice that things go off the rails. Inevitably new laws are established to enforce their opinions under penalty.

    Of course, the problem with this view is that it imputed infallibility to aggregate decision-making, and in so doing, fails to take account of the need for top-down decision-making in all sorts of scenarios, often involving the tragedy of the commons, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, or other such conundrums from game theory. If ecologists tell you that a certain fish is being harvested to extinction and everyone will have to lay off for part of the year, this must be backed up by force of law, as it is in every individual’s interest to catch the remaining fish before someone else does. Of course, if I know that others are being forced to follow the rules, I will b happy to follow them myself.

    Yes, this is a power that can be abused, and the libertarian temptation is to abolish power rather than ensure that it is exercised by appropriate, representative, and honest elites. This will never work. All but the most primitive societies have government of some sort. That is not a coincidence.

    • Agree: John Achterhof
  31. honest elites

    I didn’t know you do comedy.

    There’s a line in a Jimmy Buffett song – ‘we are the people our parents warned us about’.

    Government IS the marauding band of cutthroats and thieves they claim to protect us against. Who else steals half your hard earned income to allocate it to programs you personally detest?

    Gov’t is always and everywhere the problem. It is never the solution, as history attests with its endless wars and stifling influence.

    • Replies: @Rosie
  32. Rosie says:
    @RoatanBill

    honest elites

    Yes, that’s a thing, and it correlates remarkably well with overall quality of life.

    Perhaps you’d rather live in Somalia or Liberia than New Zealand or Denmark?

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  33. Rosie says:
    @De'Remiah Jixon

    The Chicxulub impactor is the ultimate smoking gun.

    No, that is indeed a mystery, but a smoking gun it is not. According to Bill Gates, DNA is like “a computer program, but far, far more advanced than anything we’ve ever created.” That is effectively a smoking gun. In no other circumstance whatsoever would anyone doubt the inference of design.

    Darwinists claim that life could have evolved by chance. If this is untenable, it doesn’t matter that your idea of a perfect designer (and mine, for that matter) would have done things differently. Design errors do not make possible what is impossible. Such things don’t even rebut the inference of design. All they do is call into question the apparent competence of the designer.

    • Replies: @nokangaroos
  34. @Rosie

    There isn’t an honest politician in the entire world. The concept of gov’t dissuades an honest person from getting involved. Gov’t is nothing but the enshrinement of graft and corruption. The difference between Somalia and New Zealand is the extent of the corruption and the base upon which it rests. There’s more to steal in New Zealand than Somalia, so the percentage of theft is lower while the absolute amount is higher.

    FYI I’m a US expat living on the island or Roatan, Honduras. I moved to Honduras to get away from the predatory nature and police state that is the US Fed Gov.

    Here, I’m largely left alone. All taxes are much more reasonable, the weather is certainly more to my liking as I hate the cold, and the rules and regulations are almost nonexistent. There are no cop cars chasing me down to ticket me for some non crime. There are no parking meters, or traffic lights. I haven’t had vehicle insurance for 16 years as it’s not mandatory. There are Covid cases on the island but the deaths attributable to it are very low. My wife and I are known throughout the community and we’ve had the president and members of the Honduran Supreme Court as our customers. I have the mayor’s and governor’s phone numbers and email addresses.

    Gov’t here is very local. Gov’t in the US is so far detached from the average person’s reality that it is a tyranny because no one has any way to state their opinions. Gov’t in the US is a machine grinding down the working class for the benefit of the 1% and the human filth on the welfare rolls.

    You can keep your ‘quality of life’ and I’ll keep mine. I have the benefit of knowing both systems whereas all you have is ingested propaganda to make sure you never learn of your true situation by voting with your feet.

    • Replies: @Rosie
    , @Ragno
    , @Truth
  35. Rosie says:
    @RoatanBill

    You can keep your ‘quality of life’ and I’ll keep mine. I have the benefit of knowing both systems whereas all you have is ingested propaganda to make sure you never learn of your true situation by voting with your feet.

    Hmmm. So in other words, you got yours by benefitting from the infrastructure of a first world country, but instead of paying your share to maintain it for future generations, you took your greenbacks to a Third-World country where you lord it over the locals. Got it.

    And BTW, be careful about making assumptions about other people’s life experiences.

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  36. @Rosie

    Everything I got, I paid for. At that point it is mine to do with as I wish. I just realized that I could get treated better somewhere else. A few thousand other USians and Canadians are here as well.

    Your condescending – Got it – speaks volumes. You can stay and be bled to bankruptcy as the US Dollar collapses, but I’ve decided that won’t happen to me. Keep paying your ‘share’ until there’s either nothing left or you wise up. You can continue living in a police state if you like. I simply choose not to.

    Ask yourself if the direction the US is heading instills any confidence in your future. I answered that question honestly 16 years ago.

    • Replies: @Rosie
  37. Rosie says:
    @RoatanBill

    Ask yourself if the direction the US is heading instills any confidence in your future.

    It certainly doesn’t, but then I don’t attribute that to a problem with government as such. The fact that we have shitty elites doesn’t mean that elites are invariably shitty. Indeed, one might wonder how the widespread prosperity of the fifties ever happened to begin with if honest leadership doesn’t exist.

    Quite apart from that, you utterly fail to take account of the fact that private tyranny is as burdensome as public tyranny. I don’t care that much about taxes. I care more about the Bill of Rights, specifically the First Amendment. My intellectual freedom is my first priority, apart from demographics. And who is censoring people? Big Tech.

    Your condescending – Got it – speaks volumes.

    In your last post, you called my mother and I (along with millions of other decent White people) “human filth” for having benefited from welfare. I really hate when people do that, but then I suppose I should be grateful that you at least call us human filth rather than subhuman filth. In any event, I don’t think you’re in any position to go around calling people “condescending.”

    BTW, are you a real working-class guy, or are you the wealthy-enough-to-buy-a-lucrative-business kind of “working-class guy” (i.e. Joe the Fake Plumber).

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  38. @Rosie

    The 50’s were the last hurrah for the US as it produced what the world needed after WW-II. Any ‘leadership’ was simply taking credit for what the average person and business produced. The 60’s started the downhill trend and by the early 70’s when Nixon closed the gold window that was the the start of the death of the dollar and the end of the US. The concept of the USA is nearing its expiration date. I’ll live long enough to see it go the way of the USSR.

    I was too ignorant of the slide to notice it for decades, but all became clear after 2001. It’s only gotten worse since. The private tyranny you speak of is condoned and encouraged by the gov’t to circumvent your rights. The gov’t is thrilled by Silicon Valley doing what it might be difficult for them to do openly. I’m of the opinion that Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc are creatures of the spook agencies, either directly or via the doors that were opened for them to produce the private panopticon. That the NSA is capturing all phone calls and email should tell you where your elites ethics are. Neither party wants to upset the deep state because the deep state IS the gov’t and all the elected puppets dance to their tune. That’s why voting is for the terminally stupid and actually helps foster the out of control gov’t by providing it with an aura of respectability, totally undeserved.

    I’m the first person in my family to graduate high school. I was a working class guy for about 10 years (software development), after which I became a business owner or an independent consultant always computer and software related. I didn’t waste my time in college studying basket weaving rubbish but got engineering degrees. I paid for my education myself.

    • Replies: @Rosie
  39. Rosie says:
    @RoatanBill

    I paid for my education myself.

    Right, and how much was the tuition back then? I have no doubt it was heavily subsidized by donors or taxpayers, as the case may be. In typical boomer fashion, you refuse to acknowledge the unprecedented privilege your generation enjoyed and then promptly squandered.

    I’m of the opinion that Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc are creatures of the spook agencies,

    Well, you know what they say about opinions. In any event, it doesn’t really matter one way or the other. I want the government to force these outfits to abide by the First Amendment, even though it doesn’t apply to them by the letter of the law. You are ideologically bound to oppose that on principle.

    Let’s take this up somewhere else, shall we? This is OT here.

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  40. IvyMike says:

    I’m not smart enough to understand evolution, I can learn both sides of the popular arguments and parrot the one I prefer, as Fred has done. But I don’t particularly care one way or the other, and am not a big fan of science in general. We know enough to make some cool stuff like big TVs and the increasingly complex (evolving?) machines designed for male self pleasure I see advertised on Xhamster, but Science doesn’t have a clue about whatever in heck 90% of the matter in the Universe is or does. We score 10, 60 is a D-.
    Evolution, whatever it is, continues to be the foundation for biological research. Maybe it’s wrong and we’re missing the 90%? Who knows? 90% of men are ignorant of the role the prostate plays in their life. Sheesh, 90% or more of women giggle too much when they make a point in conversation. What’s up with that, a behavior evolved to keep ’em from getting smacked?
    My most profound advice to anybody discussing evolution is the simple fact that the science of evolution is not at all concerned with the origin of life. Half of Fred’s article is wasted driving along with 2 wheels in the ditch. The other half is wasted with ideas coming from The Discovery Institute. You learn a lot more researching the backgrounds of Behe and the other clowns than from reading their half assed poorly educated attempts at science.
    Finally, consider those 2 great American Catholics, Biden and the notorious ACB. The Pope done said, Evolution is the real deal, a true description of the way in which the Great Designer works. Although extreme complexity is, as a general rule, the hallmark of poor design. Like the Space Shuttle…

    • Replies: @Rosie
  41. @Rosie

    You keep building straw men and then knocking them down as though there’s any truth to your fantasy.

    I started working the day I turned 16, as a stock boy in the neighborhood supermarket. Within 6 months, I was the frozen food manager. I did that job for 29 hours a week through the tail end of high school and 4 years of college, week in and week out. During summer vacation, once in college, I worked shape up at the 4 breweries in New York – Schlits, Piels, Rheingold and Schaefer in addition to the supermarket. I also designed and built burglar alarms out of electronic parts that I installed in the neighborhood.

    My college tuition was about $2000 per semester. I never got a dime of money I didn’t earn. My parents couldn’t afford the tuition at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, so I had to earn the money myself. B’klyn Poly was a private institution and not funded by taxes.

    I want the gov’t to disappear like a bad smell. The Constitution is just a piece of paper, long since abandoned by TPTsB. Trying to do a Lazarus act on it is futile.

    BTW – If it were up to me, you and your mother wouldn’t have gotten a penny of public funds. Charity is what the god business is supposed to provide to the ‘needy’ and is why they pay no taxes.

    • Replies: @Rosie
  42. Rosie says:
    @RoatanBill

    BTW – If it were up to me, you and your mother wouldn’t have gotten a penny of public funds. Charity is what the god business is supposed to provide to the ‘needy’ and is why they pay no taxes.

    Of course, it never worked that way in reality. My mother would have wound up as another maiden tribute of Babylon, and eventually, roadkill, with me following suit in short order, no doubt.

    I want the gov’t to disappear like a bad smell.

    I feel the same way about people like you.

  43. Rosie says:
    @IvyMike

    You learn a lot more researching the backgrounds of Behe and the other clowns than from reading their half assed poorly educated attempts at science.

    When you have no basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff.
    -Cicero

    The Pope done said, Evolution is the real deal, a true description of the way in which the Great Designer works.

    Oh well I guess that settles it, then.

  44. Al Lipton says:

    Beautifully written, Fred! Thank you for that. I know the marxists always give you a lot of grief for challenging their favorite religious theory, but you need to say what you know is true. This is your legacy. It makes this world a better place.

    This article should be required reading for all high school and college children.

    • Replies: @Gordon K. Shumway
  45. Biff says:

    Evolution – what’s in a name. Everything is a mutation of once was before – if you want to call that evolution, devolution, no solution, the revolution, or environmental pollution or an act of god is up to you.

  46. I heard Axe’s name many years ago when was he was still at university (was it at Oxford?), so I assumed he was being groomed as a rising star – will be interesting to read his piece.

  47. @Uncle Al

    I had a poster like that on the wall in my college dorm room!

    • Replies: @Uncle Al
  48. @RoatanBill

    Interesting and thought provoking.

  49. Ghan says:
    @Rosie

    Hi.
    Good point.
    However, I wonder if you are not perhaps inverting cause and effect? What seems to be temperament in the evolutionist faithful might, I posit, merely be the neurological impact of refusing to see that which is not convenient to a worldview previously adopted for tribal or other reasons.

  50. @Al Lipton

    The average high school student today has neither the attention span to read the entire article nor the knowledge of molecular biology to understand Fred’s discussion of codons.

  51. Uncle Al says: • Website
    @Gordon K. Shumway

    I’m a synthetic organic chemist. I suffered a term of biochem. I decided to vote “no.” There are so many small molecule ways to shut it all down, DOI:10.1186/s40104-017-0180-6
    “8^>)

  52. Excellent article. Many thanks, Fred Reed. The sarcastic zingers were creative, witty and spot on target. Score at the top of the ninth looks likes Intelligent Design 1, Evolution 0.

    BTW, shouldn’t you have included in the recommendation at the end the recent book by Marcos Eberlin, ‘Foresight: How the chemistry of life reveals planning and purpose’ ?

  53. While consciousness seems the defining characteristic of life, (“I am conscious, therefore I am.”) or at least of the higher forms of animal life, it cannot be derived from physics. It cannot even be detected instrumentally. Are ants conscious–or, for that matter, rocks? Are dogs less conscious than people, and ants less conscious than dogs? Or are they just less intelligent? How could we tell? The questions may seem silly, but they are not.

    Some grist for your mill. It will not help improve any of your credibility, if you buy into it, because it’s quite crazy, but seems to be true all the same.

    Basically, we tend to think of plants as not being reactive to their environment. But plants are reactive to their environment and do react in real time, in sophisticated and sometimes seemingly thoughtful ways, they just happen to do it in ways (and often on time scales) that are nearly impossible for us as animals to appreciate without a lot of dedicated scientific study and sometimes exotic and high tech equipment.

    Repeated experiments have shown that not only are they perceptive of and reactive to their environment, but plants have something equivalent to or easiest to understand as, the ability to retain information about their environment and modify their behavioral response based on that information (learning, memory), the ability to transmit the information to other plants (communication), awareness of other plants and both cooperative and competitive strategies, and even social structures or something like an in-group and out-group, changing their behavior in response to other plants based on how closely related they are, like being cooperative with immediate relatives but competitive with everything else (tribalism). And they do all these things without any brain, or even any nervous system.

    In the animal kingdom, it has been well demonstrated that some birds like parrots and crows are far, far smarter than a cow and perhaps more intelligent than a dog or something on the level of a flying monkey. However a cow has a brain as big as a crow’s entire body, and a crow has a brain smaller than a pea. But crows are capable of tool use, and cows aren’t. There’s more going on that just size.

    Aesop vindicated:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crow_and_the_Pitcher

  54. @Wyatt

    Fair enough – except some things just do not lend themselves to experiment; “prediction” is more neutral (Popper got his ass on some rather hot plate when he declared ESP to be “science” and paleontology not so much 😛 ).

    – The scientist is not “a”theist, more like Epikurean non-theist (=”whatever gods there are, they dwell in places and do stuff of no consequence to us mortals”).
    Or, as Laplace put it “Sire, I had no need for that hypothesis”.
    Teilhard de Chardin went as far as he could without leaving science (but for a teensy bit of speculation), and it barely kept him off the Index; clearly theism is tenable (if at all) only in the Augustinian sense (“rationes seminales”), but Divine intervention under Heisenberg is not to the Holy See´s liking either 😀

    As Fred deigns not even offer a conflicting and testable hypothesis and his “counter-examples” are the same old and lame …

  55. @Rosie

    Erm, no. It´s a crude example, but the most striking (heh) of the 36 or so mass die-offs (that we know of). No entelechia => no design.
    It isn´t “just a crater”. Alvarez&Alvarez had enough circumstantial evidence to predict the size (100-200km), location (Gulf of Mexico) and age (K/T boundary) before a science journalist remembered a problem the Mayan archeologists had (distribution of the cenotes).
    It doesn´t get more elegant than that – not in this world.

    • Replies: @Rosie
  56. Rosie says:
    @nokangaroos

    No entelechia => no design.

    On what basis do you make this assertion?

  57. What part of THERE-IS-NO-PLAN is so hard to understand?
    You are not paying attention – I said atheism is unscientific.
    So why don´t you say what you REALLY want?

    – Afraid of kicking the bucket?
    I recommend Sokrates´ Apologia: Either there is an afterlife, in which case I am not afraid of it; or there isn´t, and which king would not regard a dreamless sleep as his best?

    – Or is it Dostojewskij´s “If there is no god, everything is permitted”?
    Frankly I have always found that a wee bit hysterical; and if you do not have the brains to do the right thing without fearing Odhinn´s lightning up your pooter, I´m afraid ye olde tyme religion isn´t going to help either.

    … and none of this has anything to do with science 😉

    • Replies: @Rosie
  58. If you’re going to apply theology to come up with a telos for mammalian evolution, post Chicxulub, we only have the cosmic trickster:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trickster

    And the joke’s on you!

  59. Rosie says:
    @nokangaroos

    Be a mensch and click the reply button when you’re going back and forth with people.

    What part of THERE-IS-NO-PLAN is so hard to understand?

    That isn’t really the question at hand. The question is whether it is possible that life could have come about by chance, and if it could have, whether design, chance, or some other alternative is the best explanation for the origin of biological information and cellular life. Whether there is some overarching plan is another question.

    I think your argument is essentially as follows:

    If there were a designer, we would be able to discern a plan.
    We can’t discern a plan.
    Therefore, there is no designer.

    The problem is with your first premise. I see atheists arguing in this fashion all the time, and it always mystifies. I will grant you that mass extinction events are relevant to the question of whether there is a designer, and that such events make the existence of a designer less probable than it would be without the mass extinction events.

    The problem is that you have to weigh all the evidence, not just bits and pieces, and at the end of the day, you still cannot account for, inter alia, the origin of biological information.

    – Afraid of kicking the bucket?

    I’ll tell you what. I won’t psychoanalyze you if you don’t psychoanalyze me. Otherwise, I’ll have to start asking questions about why you are afraid that you might have to meet your Maker in the next life.

    and none of this has anything to do with science

    It certainly does. Darwinists claim their theory is scientific. Therefore, it’s antithesis must also be scientific. Otherwise, you effectively put Darwin above empirical scrutiny.

    The best argument Darwinists have, in my opinion, is the practical one. Methodological naturalism is a good working assumption for science because it prevents facile “God did it” type explanations. The problem is that Darwinism does not explain what it purports to explain, and the scientific establishment is not being honest about that. Methodological naturalism is treated as dogmatic truth rather than working assumption, such that certain explanations are a priori inadmissible.

    Stephen Meyer has always said that textbooks should “teach the controversy.” By that he means simply that students should be apprised of explanatory deficits and scientific criticisms of Darwinism. (Yes, these exist.) There would be no need for any talk of intelligent design let alone God, just the facts. There is no good faith objection to that.

    (Apologies to the moderator for the length of this comment.)

    • Replies: @nokangaroos
  60. @Rosie

    Didn´t mean to be rude – quite the contrary 😀
    And pardon my forgetting the reply button – again.

    – Materialism (a Weltsicht) leans on Darwinism (a Theory) as an explanatory model.
    If your beef is with materialism, feel free – but go and pester the neuroscientists.
    Attacks on Darwinism only amount to the proverbial sow rubbing against the German oak – which, as Wyatt #23 ably pointed out, doth not science constitute; just a bunch of unconscionable conmen preying on dangerous dimwits – there is no “controversy”.

    – Sure, if Alvarez&Alvarez taught us anything it is to not get too comfortable on our
    actualistic laurels 😛
    On the “origin” hypotheses I would rate Manfred Eigen the most highly – impressive command of biology, chemistry and information theory (and slightly above the humble one).
    Of course it is just speculation – “chemoevolution” being an extrapolation of Darwin to the prebiotic realm; we know the ozone layer selected for proteins and nucleic acids, but precious little else.

    – Contrary to popular belief the purpose of the Method is not to know everything (which would bore the scientist out of his wits; yes, I said his.) but to keep the juggernaut moving.
    Not too long ago people believed mountains are made by titans, fossils by a vis formativa and organic compounds by vis vitalis. So what? Despite causing much hilarity now Ussher´s calculation of the date of Creation or Chladni´s listing of “flatulences” under “natural” and “daemones” under “supernatural” causes of earthquakes were serious SCIENCE.
    Does it diminish Aristoteles to have rated women as inferior because they have fewer teeth? He gave us the Method (and invented the female orgasm, but that´s a different story).

    Bref, your arguing like a constipated cat (sorry) only shows you have no defensible hypothesis, not even an observation. So what´s the point?

    • Replies: @Rosie
  61. Rosie says:
    @nokangaroos

    – Materialism (a Weltsicht) leans on Darwinism (a Theory) as an explanatory model.

    Right, and insofar as Darwinism is untenable, materialism is thus called into question. The scientific establishment doesn’t like this, so they conceal problems with Darwinism from the general public while privately trying to salvage their failing theory.

    there is no “controversy”

    .

    Of course not, because you define science such as to exclude any alternative to Darwinism a priori. And voila – all scientists agree with Darwinism!

    (which would bore the scientist out of his wits; yes, I said his.)

    But lemme guess, you didn’t mean to be rude.

    Not too long ago people believed mountains are made by titans,

    So what? That science has found natural causes for things previously believed to have supernatural causes doesn’t guarantee that that will always be the case, the materialist “God-of the-gaps” nonsense. As always, the atheist demands that we throw the fight at precisely the time things are getting interesting. Well, no. We’re not doin’ that.

    • Replies: @nokangaroos
  62. @Rosie

    In case you haven´t noticed you are forcing me into a position I do not like.
    (baaaaad idea 😛 )
    I have no intention of defending materialism (which I consider unhealthy), much less Histomat (which is neither).

    – Evolution has been self-evident since long before Darwin, and entelechia has been laid to rest before also; he merely proposed a viable mechanism (as opposed to Lamarck). Of course he wasn´t perfect (he overlooked intraspecific=sexual selection, among other things).
    There are no Prophets in science – oftimes an idea (like an invention) “hangs in the air” and it doesn´t matter terribly much who plucks it (Alfred R. Wallace had priority and a deeper understanding but was an autodidact and lost his collections in a shipwreck).

    – Anti-scientism is a comparatively recent (even Galilei was encouraged in his work by the pope) and American phenomenon (the Scofield abomination). Whatever may be said against the Catholic Church, their thinkers have always been preeminent. You seem not to be familiar with Catholic terminology – I recommend Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Jesuit and paleontologist. He doesn´t go much beyond Schelling (romanticist) and Haeckel (a kind of prehistoric Dawkins) but is way less speculative and self-contradictory.

    – To have an actual “debate” you´d have to teach history and theory of science in HS;
    I´m all for it but my alma mater, the cradle of modern geology, just replaced it with mandatory djenndah … we are doomed 😀

    • Replies: @Rosie
  63. Rosie says:
    @nokangaroos

    – Evolution has been self-evident since long before Darwin

    How so?

    – Anti-scientism is a comparatively recent (even Galilei was encouraged in his work by the pope) and American phenomenon

    I am not anti-science. That is a cheap ad hominem. When are you going to tell me where information comes from if not intelligence?

  64. Jokem says:

    ‘As an example, consider the view that life arose by chemical misadventure. ‘

    I claim it was not a misadventure at all, but probably inevitable.
    Easy to prove. Just set up conditions like they were when the Earth was formed and wait a few billion years. Once that is complete, we can talk again.

    ‘Yet in the November, 2005 Scientific American, an article argues that life may have begun elsewhere, perhaps on Mars, and arrived here on meteorites. ‘

    OK, Fred, so life started somewhere else in the universe instead of here. This begs the question.

    ‘Consequently, discussion often relies on vague and murky assertion, or ignores obvious questions. ‘

    Without repeating the entire paragraph. Let’s just say each creature has its own way of making sure creature like that survive. Either they breed like rabbits and reproduce as fast as predators can eliminate them, or they can hide really well, or run fast, or have a hard shell, poisonous bite, or are the toughest one out there.

    ‘First, plausibility was accepted as being equivalent to evidence.’

    Evolution was expressed as scientific THEORY, and is still treated like that today. No reputable scientist claims they know all the answers, this is because no one was there to observe when life first came into being. There are, however, unmistakable patterns of how similar one set of creatures are to another.

    ‘Second, evolution seemed more a metaphysics or ideology than a science.’

    See my comments about THEORY, above.

    ‘Third, evolutionists are obsessed by Christianity and Creationism, with which they imagine themselves to be in mortal combat.’

    This is because in many cases, they are. There are some extremists, who attempt to treat evolution as a fact, rather than a theory, these are people who have faith in it. Faith is not science.
    Creationists, however base their beliefs entirely on faith, which is liberating in that it allows one to believe in things that contradict observable evidence. Don’t look too closely at anything which contradicts faith.

    ‘Like any zealots, they cannot recognize their own zealotry.’

    See my comments about theory, faith and extremists above.

    ‘These men (almost all of them are) have frequently been very bright indeed, often Ivy League professors, some of them with names you would recognize.’

    Just because one has an education does not make one bright. The following comment is just my personal opinion, but my theory is schools do not teach you to think, they teach you not to think.

    ‘To my mind they constitute the best evidence that we did not descend from monkeys, but have not yet ascended to them.’

    Darwin never said that. he said Primates have a common ancestor. To my knowledge no one has declared otherwise.

    ‘We now believe that nothing is or can be beyond our powers.’

    That is a statement of faith, so you are a Creationist after all? ;->

    ‘Can anyone believe that describing Creation in high schools will deter students from studying biochemistry, and turn them into intellectual loin-cloth wearers burning textbooks?’

    So you claim this has not happened before? Has religion attempted to suppress knowledge in the past? Ask Copernicus…
    I claim Schools ought to be based upon community standards, but no one listens to me, at least no one with enough authority.

    ‘Interestingly, atheism has to be part of the evolutionist’s mental equipment’

    No, it doesn’t. I do not know if Thomas Edison had thought regarding evolution, but he did believe in a creator of the Universe.

    ‘Before going further, let us look at some of the questions ignored by evolutionism.’

    Keep in mind since no one was there to observe it (or if there were, they aren’t talking), there are things evolution cannot explain, but what is there that contradicts it?

    ‘Consider the assertion famously made by James Jeans, often cited in connection with evolution, that a monkey typing randomly at a keyboard would eventually write all the books in the British Museum. This sounds plausible and, in a purely mathematical sense, is true.’

    Consider you are taking Mr Jeans absolutely literally? Suppose the Monkey has a vocabulary, that some collection of letters don’t form valid words, much like some collection of protons and neutrons do not form valid elements? Now suppose the Monkey has an understanding of valid ways words fit together, much like some combinations of elements form valid chemical compounds.

    Now do your math…

    ‘Life was said to have begun by chemical inadvertence in the early seas.’

    What do you mean by ‘inadvertence ‘?

    ‘A Few Early Questions’

    No, we do not KNOW what the early seas consisted of. We do know that when conditions like what we suspect the early earth was like are created here in the laboratory, Amino Acids form.
    When these Amino Acids are subjected to catastrophic impact, such as the impact of a meteor, peptides form. When enough peptides are chained together, proteins form.

    Yes, we can prove whether life formed the way evolutionists claim. Just create conditions like they were in the primordial Earth, and wait, say 4 billion years. See what I said at the beginning of this.

    I will say you are right in that the essay is criminally long.

    I am going to avoid that mistake and shorten this up.

    You claim evolutionists don’t KNOW the theory is right. I repeat, no respectable scientist claims to know. You claim it is unbelievable such a complex thing as life came about accidently. I claim under the right conditions it is likely to form, maybe inevitable.

    In spite of all the complexity you point out, note that life here on Earth has similarities, suggesting there was a commonality of some sort. Maybe you are not contesting the theory that life evolved from simpler forms, just that life came into being spontaneously. If that is the case then I will hold off on further discussion.

    • Replies: @Rosie
  65. Truth says:
    @Rosie

    Rosie, please, you’re married.

    • LOL: Rosie
  66. Truth says:
    @Jim Christian

    Let me guess, Jimbo, green eyes?

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  67. Roger says:

    “This makes scientific inquiry prone to the eternal rules of human social life: deference to the charismatic, herding towards majority opinion, punishment for deviance, and intense discomfort with admitting to error. Of course, such tendencies are precisely what the scientific method was invented to correct for, and over the long run, it does a good job of it. In the long run, however, we’re all dead, quite possibly sooner than we would be if we hadn’t been following a diet based on poor advice.”

    This sounds suspiciously like the insanity surrounding the Corona Monster, more commonly known as the Covid Aberration. Much of this, most especially the part about ‘intense discomfort with admitting to error’, ring true in today’s society. My guess is that, sooner or later (if we don’t already), most of us will come to the conclusion that our reaction to it really wasn’t such a good idea and should be abandoned. Some of us, however, are True Believers, and will never admit to anything except that they are right.

    Go figure!

    Good word, Fred. Carry on.

    • Agree: Gordon K. Shumway
  68. @Truth

    Let me guess, Jimbo, green eyes?

    Nope! Half-Greek. Just the good half. Brown.

    • Replies: @Truth
  69. Rosie says:
    @Jokem

    Good grief. Now this comment is indeed criminally long. Anyway…

    Easy to prove. Just set up conditions like they were when the Earth was formed and wait a few billion years. Once that is complete, we can talk again.

    Wow, that’s a nice, comfy little perch you’ve set Darwinism on there, now isn’t it?

    Anyway, since we’ll all be dead in a few billion years, we can rely on mathematical probability in the meantime. Read Doug Axe, and we can talk again.

    OK, Fred, so life started somewhere else in the universe instead of here. This begs the question.

    Indeed.

    There are, however, unmistakable patterns of how similar one set of creatures are to another.

    The problem here is that such similarities are as well explained by a common designer as common descent.

    Creationists, however base their beliefs entirely on faith, which is liberating in that it allows one to believe in things that contradict observable evidence. Don’t look too closely at anything which contradicts faith.

    This is a fair point, so long as you are talking about bona fide Biblical (young-earth) creationists. They start with the Biblical text, and look for evidence to support that particular narrative. Intelligent Design (old-Earth Creationism, if you prefer) starts with empirical observations and argues from there. It cannot and does not claim to support any particular revelation.

    More later.

  70. Jokem says:

    You are correct in my comment is long, and I did not respond to the entirety of Fred’s article.

    ‘Wow, that’s a nice, comfy little perch you’ve set Darwinism on there, now isn’t it?’

    I have no idea what your point is here. If you are attempting to refute the assertion that the proof requires conditions which cannot be met, it escapes me.

    ‘The problem here is that such similarities are as well explained by a common designer as common descent.’

    The problem with the common designer argument is it is too simplistic, and therefore unreasonable.
    Anything can be explained by just saying ‘God did it!’ When fossils exist which show a particular organism, then later fossils show a similar organism, but in a new form, just say ‘God did it!’ nad that explains everything.

    ‘Intelligent Design (old-Earth Creationism, if you prefer) starts with empirical observations and argues from there. It cannot and does not claim to support any particular revelation.’

    So you are saying someone was there when the universe was created and took pictures?

    • Replies: @Rosie
  71. I am only just seeing this essay, a week after it was posted.

    I left a response to several of Fred’s points on an earlier version, but comments are currently invisible there, so I have reproduced that response here.

    The only things I would add for now:

    Computational experiments with “genetic algorithms” and similar exercises in artificial evolution, show that intricate complexity really can arise from blind trial and error.

    There is also the anthropic principle: what we observe in the universe around us, has to be consistent with our own existence. In this context, it means that if something unlikely had to happen for us to exist, then we will find unlikely but necessary events in our past.

    I wouldn’t push the anthropic option too far. But in a universe of galaxies of stars with planets, it does mean that a certain amount of serendipity can be tolerated or even expected, in the biochemical and evolutionary history of the rare planet on which life and/or intelligence evolves.

    However, my main thesis is just to oppose the incredulity that biological complexity could arise from natural selection. Darwinism doesn’t explain consciousness, or the existence of the universe; intelligent design, and nonmaterialist ontology, are both possible; but so is natural selection.

  72. roonaldo says:

    Mr. Reed has produced an excellent article. He does at one point state that space is basically empty, except for some hydrogen. Please see astrophysicist Michael Clarage’s “New Views of the Interstellar Medium” at aureon.ca/movies for a differing viewpoint.

    I think it important to consider that the theory that random mutations, acted on by natural selection, produces ever more highly organized and complex organisms, has been refuted. It simply wasn’t definitively testable until molecular biology advanced sufficiently. It seems clear by now that this mechanism merely has the power to push organisms more tightly into environmental niches with loss-of-function mutations. Dr. Richard Lenski’s decades long E. coli experiments show this pattern. Dr. Michael Behe’s “Darwin Devolves” and “The Edge of Evolution” explore these matters clearly.

    In the article, Mr. Reed uses the eye in an irreducible complexity discussion, stating that it is the changing shape of the lens that is responsible for focusing. I beg to differ, and argue that it is the eye’s oblique muscles, changing the shape of the eyeball, that focus the eye. I refer to William H. Bates, M.D. (born 1860 died 1931) and his book “Perfect Sight Without Glasses” which I just ran across at iblindness.com. Decades ago his “Better Eyesight Without Glasses” helped me better my vision from 20/100 to 20/60. Oddly, after many years of not applying his techniques further, my vision improved to 20/40 and I passed the motor vehicle eye test and they removed the corrective lenses restriction last year.

    I laugh recalling when in 8th grade biology class we dissected a cow’s eye, and, upon examining the hard-as-stone lens, my lab partner and I wondered how it could change shape to focus the eye. We decided it must have hardened after the critter died.

    At any rate, I searched online a few months ago for definitive, scientifically airtight proof that the lens changes shape to focus the eye, but was unsuccessful. For over thirty years Dr. Bates examined hundreds of thousands of people and experimented on and examined the vision of animals. The first book of his mentioned above contains a fascinating account of the theoretical arguments and photos of his animal experiments. Imagine the danger the widespread adoption the Bates Method would represent to “eyecare” industry profits and one can see why the truth would be suppressed.

  73. Anonymous[350] • Disclaimer says:
    @Big Daddy

    You started off strong (“What is is”), then immediately tripped (“God made it”) and face-planted. Ouch. 🙁

  74. Rosie says:
    @Jokem

    I have no idea what your point is here. If you are attempting to refute the assertion that the proof requires conditions which cannot be met, it escapes me.

    I see. You were merely claiming that it is not reasonable to demand absolute proof when that is not possible. I have some degree of sympathy with this view., but it is equally unreasonable to demand absolute proof from ID.

    The problem with the common designer argument is it is too simplistic, and therefore unreasonable.

    This is absurd.

    Anything can be explained by just saying ‘God did it!’ When fossils exist which show a particular organism, then later fossils show a similar organism, but in a new form, just say ‘God did it!’ nad that explains everything.

    Your problem here is that “It was a coincidence!” explains nothing at all.

    So you are saying someone was there when the universe was created and took pictures?

    This is precisely the sort of unreasonable demand for absolute proof I referenced in the beginning of this reply. I don’t mean to put words in your mouth, but it sounds to me like you are saying that photographs from the beginning of time would be the only evidence for intelligent design you would accept as relevant and probative on the question. That is not reasonable.

    • Replies: @Jokem
  75. I recall this column from back in the days when Jerry Pournelle was a voice in the wilderness telling the world you were worth reading. I agreed with that judgment then, and still do.

    I could joke that you have overcome your opponents with your accuracy and erudition (only in the style of expression, mind you), but it would be true. Evolutionists have nothing and their mental meanderings reveal them as the charlatans they are. It is all Physics, and I remember quite well an expression I hated hearing from my Physics instructor while in engineering school, “That’s bad Physics.” Evolution is bad Physics, not to mention bad information science, which is what Genetics is. Evolutionists won’t face the consequences of their idiocy, but it keeps coming back and smashing them in the face.

    Hopefully, your vision will hold up so you can keep pricking the senses of evolutionary charlatans. Oh, and write other columns as well.

  76. @Big Daddy

    Few questions, please:
    What is “God” ?
    Which God do you like ?
    What does “is” mean ?
    What does “does” mean ?
    What does “mean” mean ?

  77. Rosie says:
    @animalogic

    Which God do you like ?

    Another atheist argument I’ve never understood. How does the fact that different people around the world disagree about the divine nature and/or revelation disprove the existence of God?

    • Replies: @Jokem
    , @animalogic
  78. Jokem says:
    @Rosie

    ‘ I have some degree of sympathy with this view., but it is equally unreasonable to demand absolute proof from ID.’

    And I did not do that. Read what I said. I said faith based arguments allow people to believe that which contradicts observable evidence.

    ‘The problem with the common designer argument is it is too simplistic, and therefore unreasonable.

    This is absurd.’

    No it is not absurd.

    ‘Your problem here is that “It was a coincidence!” explains nothing at all.’

    I did not say that. Do not confuse me with ‘True Believer’ evolutionists, who believe in evolution with the same absolute faith the Creationists have. Evolution is a theory, and remains a theory; I said that previously and still say it.

    • Replies: @Rosie
  79. Jokem says:
    @Rosie

    ‘Another atheist argument I’ve never understood. How does the fact that different people around the world disagree about the divine nature and/or revelation disprove the existence of God?’

    It proves belief in a divine creator is based upon vague and imprecise foundations.

  80. Rosie says:
    @Jokem

    No it is not absurd.

    Yes, it is. Simplicity is generally considered, for good reason, considered an indication of a better rather than worse explanation. Now, I understand your point about methodological naturalism, but as I said, a working assumption cannot be made into an unquestionable dogma, which is what you propose here, though I don’t think you’re aware of it.

    who believe in evolution with the same absolute faith the Creationists have.

    To whom do you refer by this term “Creationist”? If you are referring to Fred, you’re claim that his is an “absolute faith” is totally unwarranted. Quite the contrary, he is notably tentative in his support for ID.

    It proves belief in a divine creator is based upon vague and imprecise foundations.

    Nonsense. The fact of religious diversity undermines the faith only of those who believe as they do only because everyone they know believes the same. This is increasingly rare nowadays, almost unheard of.

    • Replies: @Jokem
  81. @Rosie

    “How does the fact that different people around the world disagree about the divine nature and/or revelation disprove the existence of God?”
    I’m agnostic. Nor was I “arguing” anything.
    Ignoring all the fine points the difference between evolution & creationism comes down to this —
    Creationism asserts a being, power, nature or force (often referred to as “God”) that is infinite & eternal, an entity sitting outside of the “laws” of nature (ie science).
    Evolutionists assert the opposite — “Life” is an expression of the so-called “laws of nature “.
    As said, I’m agnostic here. You can even do a “cake & eat it too” thing & say, god exists, however “his” creation has manifested itself though those laws of nature. There’s no contradiction here. Even a game of “Patience ” has its rules, even tho’ you’re only playing your self.

    • Replies: @Rosie
  82. Rosie says:
    @animalogic

    I’m agnostic. Nor was I “arguing” anything.

    K. That is nonetheless an argument very often used by atheists. Hence it is an atheist argument, but I note and appreciate your open-mindedness.

  83. Tony B. says:

    Fred, your intelligence of things seen is well developed and you have a very entertaining way of presenting such truths. Thanks for the many smiles and chuckles.

    It is your own arrogance against things unseen, such as God and souls, when they are also extremely obvious (in fact you continually describe them), that needs work. Suggest you spend some time reading pre-Vatican 2 Catholic writings as protestantism (the English speaking world’s religion) is simply pagan rebellion against God’s Church calling itself “Christian.” This is also the proper description of Vatican 2 Catholicism which is an even more insane protest, a rebellion against itself.

    • Replies: @Jokem
  84. Jokem says:
    @Rosie

    ‘Simplicity is generally considered, for good reason, considered an indication of a better rather than worse explanation. ‘

    Not necessarily true. I suspect you are confusing ‘Simplicity’ with ‘that which is Simplistic’.
    Simplicity is considered a better explanation for simple things.

    ‘To whom do you refer by this term “Creationist”? If you are referring to Fred, you’re claim that his is an “absolute faith” is totally unwarranted. ‘

    I see his argument as one-sided. He has an extended diatribe against Evolutionists, but any discussion vs Creationists is brief to non-existent.

    ‘The fact of religious diversity undermines the faith only of those who believe as they do only because everyone they know believes the same.’

    So when people disagree, it means that are all correct? If they hold contradictory beliefs, it means the beliefs are true… I am not going to concede that… at all…

    • Replies: @Rosie
  85. Jokem says:
    @Tony B.

    ‘You can even do a “cake & eat it too” thing & say, god exists, however “his” creation has manifested itself though those laws of nature. There’s no contradiction here. Even a game of “Patience ” has its rules, even tho’ you’re only playing your self.’

    I could talk myself into believing this, if you mean the creator of the universe ‘Nature’ as Edison called it, made this universe and left it to it’s own devices. I also think the universe could exist without necessarily believing this.

  86. Ragno says:
    @RoatanBill

    I’m envious. But curious. It’s my understanding that Uncle Shemp is dead-set against any Americans relocating with the money they earned and paid taxes on, and he expresses that disfavor by not letting us take any of it offshore.

    How, if you don’t mind my asking, did you do it? Cmon – help a nigga out.

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  87. @Ragno

    My wife and I left 16 years ago but have kept US bank accounts active the entire time. I just used my US funds to purchase what I needed from US suppliers. I tried purchasing equipment from local sources, but found their management and salespeople so inept that I eventually turned to the US where people do know how to chase a sale.

    For example, I tried purchasing about $20,000 worth of food processing machinery from several mainland suppliers via email contact and also provided my island phone number. Long story short, I got the first and only reply contact 2 days after all the equipment arrived from the US suppliers I eventually did business with. That includes a 2 week delay due to ocean shipping schedules out of Miami.

    In general, I think you’ve got it wrong for an average person. If you want to move a few million off shore, then things might get the attention of TPTsB. Bank to bank wire transfers of $10-20,000 have never been an issue except for the delays that are sometimes involved for various ridiculous reasons.

    That is one thing a USian needs to get accustomed to – things in other parts of the world are different. That difference can make some people irate and we’ve witnessed examples over the years. Those folks can’t adjust and eventually end up selling out and going back to where they have their comfort level restored. There are a few thousand USians and Canadians on the island so we see a regular flow of the ones that don’t want to assimilate into the local way things are done.

    The real trick is to get a local bank account once they discover you’re a foreigner and worse still the dreaded USian. US law makes getting a foreign bank account near impossible in some jurisdictions because the banks don’t want to be burdened by complying with US regulations and reporting. That’s one key question to get resolved early on but it’s also a catch-22 situation. You’ll get all sorts of phony information up until the time you intend to follow through on some of it only to discover you were led astray.

    You’ll also want to get legal residency wherever you end up. Staying around long term as a tourist isn’t realistic unless you want to just live the life of a beach bum. Without some gov’t paperwork, a bank account or even making any banking transaction might be impossible. The KYC (Know Your Customer) control mechanism initiated by the US is now pretty much world wide.

    Vacation where you want to end up, but don’t spend all your time in artificial environments like resorts. Find expats just living their lives and talk to them in their hangout like restaurants and bars that aren’t necessarily the ones most known by the tourists. They’ll clue you in on what’s real and what’s fantasy.

    • Replies: @Ragno
  88. @animalogic

    President Clinton has already asked one of those questions.

  89. If life arrived on a meteorite from Mars how did life start on Mars and where did it go?

  90. Truth says:
    @RoatanBill

    There isn’t an honest politician in the entire world. The concept of gov’t dissuades an honest person from getting involved. Gov’t is nothing but the enshrinement of graft and corruption. The difference between Somalia and New Zealand is the extent of the corruption and the base upon which it rests. There’s more to steal in New Zealand than Somalia, so the percentage of theft is lower while the absolute amount is higher.

    FYI I’m a US expat living on the island or Roatan, Honduras. I moved to Honduras to get away from the predatory nature and police state that is the US Fed Gov.

    Here, I’m largely left alone. All taxes are much more reasonable, the weather is certainly more to my liking as I hate the cold, and the rules and regulations are almost nonexistent. There are no cop cars chasing me down to ticket me for some non crime. There are no parking meters, or traffic lights. I haven’t had vehicle insurance for 16 years as it’s not mandatory.

    I guess life is pretty good when WASP Whitey isn’t running things?

  91. Rosie says:
    @Jokem

    So when people disagree, it means that are all correct? If they hold contradictory beliefs, it means the beliefs are true… I am not going to concede that… at all…

    No. It is logically necessary that some are right and others are wrong. How again does that disprove the existence of God?

    I wonder: Does your argument work in reverse? Because it seems to me that most people the world over believe in a Higher Power of some sort. The major differences concern the attributes rather than the existence of God.

    I see his argument as one-sided. He has an extended diatribe against Evolutionists, but any discussion vs Creationists is brief to non-existent.

    You’re welcome to write that article of you wish, though it’s not really necessary. It’s not as though we haven’t heard those arguments. The point of this article was to present the anti-Darwin case that is not only ignored but suppressed.

  92. Ragno says:
    @RoatanBill

    Much appreciated; thank you, sir.

  93. Jokem says:

    ‘No. It is logically necessary that some are right and others are wrong. How again does that disprove the existence of God?’

    It means the arguments for God’s existence is vague and imprecise. I could claim the universe was created by a cabal of pixies and challenge you to disprove that. You are familiar with the problems involved in proving a negative? You are asking something unreasonable.

    ‘The point of this article was to present the anti-Darwin case that is not only ignored but suppressed.’

    Suppressed in the venue Fred was discussing it in. Evolutionary theory is suppressed in certain circles also. I am pretty sure there will be extremists advocating for any subject.

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