Intelligent Design Creationism is not Science

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I’m just back from the BBC studio in Brighton having done 9 regional interviews/debates on the issue of teaching intelligent design creationism as science in schools.

It is quite simple, intelligent design creationism is not science. It is not accepted as science by the scientific community and, as such, cannot be taught as science in schools.

The interviews also featured Dr Alastair Noble (former science teacher, science inspector for schools and lay preacher at the Cartsbridge Evangelical Church Glasgow). He is the director of the Centre for Intelligent Design based in Scotland. He is a firm (in some ways aggressive) supporter of intelligent design. In debates you know that things are going wrong for one side when it descends to name-calling, which is what Dr Noble did, certainly in the final interview this morning.

As the interviews carried on, from regional station to regional station, you could hear in his voice the frustration and it ended with name calling. It seems that I am an ‘intellectual fascist’ who does not understand the ‘science’ and who fails to explain the ‘information’ contained in DNA. I also, he says, don’t know the history of the intelligent design movement.

All these charges are false. Dr Noble consistently and aggressively misrepresented the call for the ban signed by myself and the other 29 leading scientists and educators, he’s claiming that we wish to ban all mention of creationism or ID. He ridiculed the signatories’ position saying that we would have to get the police in (I think he mentioned the ‘thought police’ once as well) to stop mentions of these ideas in classes. Despite patiently explaining to him that the call is that neither creationism nor Intelligent design should be presented AS SCIENCE  he continued with his ridiculous claims of intellectual fascism etc.

His claim that I did not understand or define intelligent design correctly was also similarly ludicrous. The definition I quoted came from the discovery institute website, so if it is wrong then it is the DI who have it wrong. I explained, patiently on several occasions the roots of the ID movement in the USA; the ruling that it was religious by the courts; the intent of the Wedge strategy and Philip Johnson’s calls to keep the religion out of the debate so that ID can be accepted and only then discuss the religion.  Dr Noble vehemently denied that Johnson’s goal was to get religion into schools. But this is simply not true. For example, in describing how they would get creationism and God into the science classroom Johnson wrote:

Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.

American Family Radio, Jan 10, 2003 broadcast, in which Johnson discusses his book: The Right Questions, encouraging Christians to actively debate issues of eternal value

Johnson has also said: “This isn’t really, and never has been, a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.” Witnesses for the prosecution

Dr Noble stated that he knows Philip Johnson and that my claims that this started as a religious movement and that the strategy is clear, get ID accepted then move on to the acceptance of the Christian God and the designer, is untrue.

Readers can judge for themselves who has the strongest argument here. Dr Noble and his denial or Philip Johnson and his recorded and reported admissions.

I suggested on air that he should read the wedge strategy and the book Creationism’s Trojan Horse. I explained that the call does not want a ban on talking about philosophical or religious viewpoints in RE lessons, or philosophy lessons etc. BUT and here is the nub of the argument they should be presented as faith and belief positions and NOT as science.

In one of the interviews he stated quite openly that he didn’t want intelligent design taught in science, so I don’t quite understand what his position really is. Nobody is stopping the discovery institute from doing what they do. If they can convince the academic community of scientists that their ideas are borne from science then fine, debate it and once it attains the status of science it can be brought into science teaching. But ID does NOT have a mandate to jump the queue, get injected into mainstream science teaching with no body of evidence and peer review behind it and certainly not while the community of scientists disagree with it.

Dr Noble kept challenging me to explain the ‘information ‘ in DNA and how it arose. It could ONLY have come from an intelligent mind, he kept repeating. I pointed out that Information scientists do not accept the ID definition of information. I cited Professor Jeffrey Shallit who has criticised Stephen Meyers’ definition of information as confused wrong. He says of Meyer’s book “Signature in the Cell”; “Two things struck me as I read it: first, its essential dishonesty, and second, Meyer’s significant misunderstandings of information theory”. He goes on to say that:

Creationist information, as discussed by Meyer, is an incoherent mess.” and “Intelligent design creationists love to call it “specified information” or “specified complexity” and imply that it is widely accepted by the scientific community, but this is not the case. There is no paper in the scientific literature that gives a rigorous and coherent definition of creationist information; nor is it used in scientific or mathematical investigations.

Meyer doesn’t define it rigorously either, but he rejects the well-established measures of Shannon and Kolmogorov, and wants to use a common-sense definition of information instead. Stephen Myers Bogus Information Theory

I asked Dr Noble to define information, in one interview, several times and he did not.

In another interview I challenged Dr Noble over some accepted science, the age of the earth and common descent, knowing that he probably does not accept this science (though he is very, very careful not to expose his own views on creation and Biblical literalism). He said that there was a ‘lot of evidence’ for these things ‘but do you accept the premises?’ I asked. I pressed him, more than once. He did eventually admit that he didn’t necessarily accept them. This, I think, is the closest he has come to admitting publically his own creationist beliefs (that said I have not heard all his public talks so he may have divulged his true beliefs elsewhere).

In many of the interviews I said that accepting ID as science would mean that other pseudosciences would also be entitled to acceptance in science such as crop circles and astrology, both claim to use scientific methods, both claim mathematical foundations. With crop circle science, for example, they have their own research (very small) institutes; have PhD qualified scientific staff; carry out lab based experiments and publish in peer-reviewed science journals. In some ways they are ahead of the ID movement. They characterise their science as dealing with:

  • Number, complexity, and placement
  • Changes to plants
  • Electromagnetic and radioactive effects
  • Physical side effects
  • Highly intricate mathematical design
  • Eyewitnesses and balls of light

Surely, I said in one interview, they would have more claim for crop circle science to be taught as science than ID?

I also mentioned astrology. This again, its supporters claim, uses scientific methods, makes observations, measurements has testable predictions – but we are not going to teach that as science in school either!

I kept coming back to the point that school science is not the place for these debates. Both Dr Noble and I referred to the latest ‘shocking’ science, that a particle could possibly travel faster than the speed of light. We will not, I said, go into schools tomorrow and teach that Einstein was wrong that our understanding about the speed of light barrier is wrong. We must wait for the scientific community to verify this new experimental data and down the line (possibly many years) we may have to revise our thinking or we may find that it was the result of experimental error. The classroom is not where such things should be decided. We will not present this to children and say ‘you decide’.

I stated, many times, that ID starts from the premise that design and a designer exists and they look for evidence to support this. In the one solo interview I had, I pointed out that while scientists now may do a lot of theory confirming experiments and tests on our understanding of evolution, the idea which became a theory did not start that way.

Darwin and Wallace both wondered about how new species arise. They observed they gathered data they went into the field they amassed evidence and then, only then did they move towards an explanation, a scientific theory. They were, in effect, theory building They conducted real science they did not begin with the idea that things have developed and diversified through a mechanism that they called natural selection. They did not go out to seek to find evidence to fit this idea.

Intelligent Design,  as the Discovery Institute admits, seeks to find evidence to support their assumption that some things are so complex they can only have been designed. I put it to Dr Noble that how they characterise ‘design’ is based on looking at the features of things that we know to be designed (that is that are man-made). If they feel that the universe and many natural things are ‘designed’, what is their frame of reference? How do they know what the features of an unintelligently or non-designed universe or cell look like? If your notion of design is simply referenced to designs by humans then the logical conclusion is that the designer is human: so God is human, a human is God (or substitute ‘the intelligent designer’ if you wish). Again Dr Noble said this was not what they were arguing. Yet according to my reading of the Discovery Institute definition of ID that is exactly what they are arguing.

This is the Discovery Institute definition, taken from their website, I was using for reference:

Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in  nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence. Intelligent design has applied these scientific methods to detect design in irreducibly complex biological structures, the complex and specified information content in DNA, the life-sustaining physical architecture of the universe, and the geologically rapid origin of biological diversity in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion approximately 530 million years ago.
 Discovery Institute definition of Intelligent Design

From this very definition there are contradictions which were rejected by Dr Noble, as he claimed that I was not defining Intelligent Design properly!

They start with their ‘theory’ that there is a designer for things that are so complex we cannot conceive of how they could have evolved. So their work is not theory building (evolution theory as mentioned above started with evidence and built up to theory) but theory confirming they state that they are ‘seeking evidence’ so the clear implication is that they do not, as yet, have such a body of evidence. In science, particularly biology, the ‘theory’ comes from the evidence not the other way around!

The definition also confirms that their point of reference for deciding if something is ‘designed’ is by comparison to man-made objects that we know to be designed. The assumption here is that the ‘intelligent designer’ works to the same notions of design as humans, why? Why should they have to do that? Hence my comment that the logical end result is that the intelligent designer must therefore be human or that the intelligent designer is only capable of thinking and acting like a human.

I pointed out that ‘theory’ can have different meanings and that in the case of intelligent design ‘theory’ is being used in a speculative way, little to do with evidence, more a hunch or notion that the answer may be ‘designer’ and then you go and look for something to confirm what you already ‘know’. Theory in science, especially biology, means we have the data, the observations and the evidence and our explanations for the natural phenomenon take in what we know and have observed and serve to provide us with a means of making predictions. It is also accepted by the scientific community.

Many times Dr Noble kept banging on about randomness and blind chance. I pointed out that evolution is not about randomness and blind chance and that environmental conditions are the ‘directive force’ in evolution. He of course ignored this and kept on about randomness and blind chance. No doubt he will accuse me of ignoring his claims that ID did not come from religion and to all intents and purposes still is a religious position.

I was clear that this call does not want any mention of ID or creationism banned, that we are not going to call in the police (not even the thought police, as he hinted we might have to) to enforce it and that it was not the job of science teachers to remove religious views from the classroom or tell students that God does not exist. When ID or creationism comes up in science lessons the way to deal with it is, in my view, straightforward. Science is not about faith or belief, it is the acceptance of evidence. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming and just as we accept gravity and atoms, so too should we accept evolution. ID creationism and Biblical creationism are faith-based positions and, as such, require a belief in the supernatural. Science is about the natural world.

If someone wishes to believe in a creative force that instigated ‘the big bang’ fine. If you wish to call that force ‘God’ fine, but all the evidence for the diversity and development of life on Earth does not require the intervention of a designer. It is a product of natural processes.

I have no doubt that Dr Noble will be proclaiming a great defeat of me in his debates today. That I failed to address any of his challenges and that I am ignorant, clearly, of intelligent design.

I could also claim a great victory. Dr Noble clearly does not understand how school science teaches accepted, verifiable and reliable science and that the ‘controversies’ we do talk about are based on the application of science (technology, such as GM foods, mobile ‘phone radiation etc.) and as such  these are more social controversy than scientific controversy, though they have their origins in the science. I could also claim that he clearly does not know how ID is defined by his own peers at the Discovery Institute and that their ‘science’ is no more reliable than crop circle science or astrology. I can also claim that despite explaining very clearly what the call by the signatories is all about. He clearly did not read or understand what our position really is.

I could, but I won’t (well, OK, I admit that I just have). I’ll simply say that after two hours it was only one side that resorted to name calling (intellectual fascist) and that is the true sign that someone has lost an argument!

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130 thoughts on “Intelligent Design Creationism is not Science

    Robert Howe said:
    September 26, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Trenchant good sense

    psiloiordinary said:
    September 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Excellent work James – more power to your elbow.

    Gregory said:
    September 26, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Sorry, but whoever – wrote this article – seems to not know how to use these –> – <– things. It makes it a lot harder to respect the points – being made – when – you – don't – use proper grammar. Take all of them out and try out these cool things called commas and semicolons; that should make it look more respectable.

    P. S. Other than that I loved the article and the points you made.

      James said:
      September 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm

      Gregory
      Yes, looking at it today I see what you mean far too many dashes, so I’ll edit them out for you. That’s what happens when you get up at 5am spend two hours having your ears bashed by a Scots Lay Preacher and you dash home (pun intended) to get a report up on the web ASAP.

      Point taken, wrist firmly slapped and I’ll re-do (that dash OK?) my homework.
      Thanks for the support as well.

    Intelligent Design? | Cogniphilia said:
    September 26, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    […] Original post on Jame’s Space […]

    vladski said:
    September 26, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    “Darwin and Wallace both wondered about how new species arise. They observed they gathered data they went into the field they amassed evidence and then, only then did they move towards an explanation – a theory. They conducted real science they did not begin with the idea that things have developed and diversified through a mechanism that they called natural selection. They did not go out to seek to find evidence to fit this idea.”

    Above is taken from what you have written about “Intelligent Design” as “Creationism” and not Science. You may have noticed how I rephrased the title of your little creation. Pardon me, but I think you missed the point when one claimed that “Intelligent Design” is the best explanation available for some phenomena that occurs in nature, i.e. the origin of life.

    Going back to Darwin’s days, please note that the prevailing understanding by scientific community about the universe is that “the universe is infinitely existing. No beginning, no end. Eternal.” This belief became the foundation of Darwin’s theory on the Origin of species. The theory was based in very simple logic and reason which states that, If you have infinite time, you can turn an infinite number of event in an infinite fashion until you achieve the present state of the Universe that supports life in it (that includes the fine tuning of the universe) . Since you have now a Universe that supports life, you can again turn an infinite number of event to form the first carbon based life.

    But as we all know at present, with the information science has gathered in recent times about the Universe, we know for certain that such infinite number of event is impossible, as there is no infinite universe exists.

    Please note that in an infinite Universe, everything is possible. But if you have a Universe that is 14-20 Billion years old, not everything is possible. In fact, Darwin’s theory is impossible for a 6 Billion year-old earth.

      James said:
      September 26, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      I think your understanding of the prevailing ideas about, for example, the age of the Earth in Darwin’s day, is confused. One of the issues at that time was the need for an earth that was much older than the estimates made by scientists of the day. Also Wallace, for example, was looking not for the origin of life, but how different species arose. That was the over-arching purpose of his trip to the Rivers Amazon, as detailed in his autobiography, My Life.

      The current estimate for the age of the Earth is about 4.5 billion years and the theory of evolution is not impossible for an Earth of this age (or 6 billion if it was that old).

      Intelligent design purports to show that life is the product of an ‘intelligent mind’. To date no evidence that backs this up that would be accepted by the scientific community, the evidence is simply not there. ID in the form proposed by the Discovery Institute, derived from the strategy put forward by Philip Johnson is not about science or trying to provide an explanation for either life’s origins or how life has diversified and developed over time. It is merely a way of getting religion into the classroom by first of all getting the notion of a supernatural ‘designer’ accepted, then the strategy would be to address the question of what or who the designer is and, hey presto all those who currently refuse to accept that ID is at its heart religious will suddenly declare they have the answer. God (only the Christian God of course!).

        vladski said:
        September 27, 2011 at 5:22 pm

        Many of us were made to believed that “The Origin of Species” was considered a science by scientific community in Darwin’s time. No. Neo-Darwinism and all of its followers will never tell you the whole truth about the evolution theory. Darwin was barred from entering to the prestigious “French Institute” and was never accepted as his theory was considered not science. Yes. You read it right and I quote:

        “…The ‘Origin of Species,’ and still more the ‘Descent of Man,’ is not science, but a mass of assertions and absolutely gratuitous hypotheses, often evidently fallacious. This kind of publication and these theories are a bad example, which a body that respects itself cannot encourage.”
        (Source: Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, D. Appleton and Co., London, 2:400, footnote, 1911).

        Darwin has a limited training in Medicine and has not received a formal training in natural history which he self proclaimed as an expert when he embarked on a five year journey aboard the research ship upon graduation from Cambridge in 1831 (he graduated with a degree in A.B.). Darwin never defended his theory in public debate and was absent when public inquiry was held in June 1860 in Oxford.

        This is where Tomas Huxley came into the picture. A biologist who was credited for the theory of “abiogenesis” which is not and never been a science. He defended Darwin’s work against the attacks from the likes of Richard Owen.

        You may ask yourself “How did the Origin of Species made it to the scientific community?” I can only quote C.D. Darlington in his book, Darwin’s Place in History, it says that:

        ‘He was able to put across his ideas not so much because of his scientific integrity, but because of his opportunism, his equivocation and his lack of historical sense. Though his admirers will not like to believe it, he accomplished his revolution by personal weakness and strategic talent more than by scientific virtue.’

        The question really is, which one best explains the origin of life, is it Darwin’s Evolution or Intelligent Design? I guess, there is a need to level the playing field.

        What I am saying is that when a particular system exhibits complexity that natural phenomena cannot account for, we should not insists on the idea, much more to convince ourselves to believe in a more vague explanation or theory than what we try to have an answer. And yes, evolution is more vague than the origin of life itself.

        James said:
        September 27, 2011 at 6:24 pm

        Please do not just accept quotations (even with citations) without reading the original and appreciating the context.

        Charles Darwin was accepted to the French Institute in the botanical section as a corresponding author (along with many others – it was quite common at that time and NO reflection on his status as a naturalist).
        It was when he was proposed to the zoology section that he failed to garner enough votes to be admitted to that section not that he was barred from the Institute, he was NOT this is a common creationist notion to try to discredit the man. In reality, he was elected to the botanical section (much to his amusement). He received twenty-six votes out of a possible 39 votes, five blank papers were sent in and eight votes were recorded for the other candidates. That does not sound like someone ‘barred’ to me! it was in 1872 that an attempt was made to elect him to the Zoology section. He only received 15 out of 48 votes, and Lovén was chosen for the vacant place.

        The quotation you provided comes from one of the members of the institute who wrote to the newspaper Le Monde setting out why he thought Darwin was not elected. It is not a statement from the Institute (though many infer that it was) setting out why he was not elected to this section.

        When all is said and done, character attacks on Darwin hold little water – the fact is that evolution is a scientific fact. Newton, by all accounts was not a very ‘nice’ person who made mistakes, fudged his results etc. interestingly that does not made gravity ‘false’. You need to separate the science from the perosnality.

        Darwin’s ‘Origin’ is not the full work that Darwin was writing on the subject, it was just a short abstract of his full scientific treatment of evolution and natural selection. His full works were never published in his time. They have been published now (by Stauffer in 1975) and it runs to about 708 pages and even this is incomplete.

        Oh and just in case you are thinking of going there, Darwin did not recant or reject evolution on his deathbed – that’s another creationist silly story.

        James said:
        September 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm

        And let’s lay to rest some other problems with your post.

        “Darwin has a limited training in Medicine and has not received a formal training in natural history which he self proclaimed as an expert when he embarked on a five year journey aboard the research ship upon graduation from Cambridge in 1831 (he graduated with a degree in A.B.). Darwin never defended his theory in public debate and was absent when public inquiry was held in June 1860 in Oxford.”

        Darwin did indeed embark on medical training at the insistence of his father when he was 16, he did not enjoy the discipline and didn’t like the sight of blood. He went to Cambridge and there studied and graduated 10th in the non Honours list (so anyone with an honours degree – rejoice you have a better degree than Darwin).

        You talk about ‘formal training as a naturalist’ exactly what do you think was in place in the 1830s? NO naturalist really underwent formal training many were clergy with an interest in natural history and there certainly was no course he could take and no certificate he could get that ‘qualified’ him as a naturalist. He did not embark on his journey as an expert and he did not begin his journey on the Beagle as its naturalist (that was a post taken by the surgeon on such ships). His place on the Beagle was as a companion to Captain FitzRoy, as the Captain did not mix with other ranks and needed a gentleman companion to keep him company. Prior to his voyage Darwin had spent much time in the field with J.S. Hebslow and learned his skills as a naturalist studying courses at Cambridge with Henbslow and Darwin spent a lot of time in Wales where he learned about geology, again on trips from his studies at Cambridge. When he was on the Beagle most of his work was geological, assessing the geology of the countries visited. He was elected to the Geological Society of London later in life, his first scientific theories developed were geological and in his notes he even referred to himself as ‘I, a geologist’. He gained skills in the field of biology with his study of Barnacles (on which he write a treatise that I’m told is still used today).

        No he did not attend and defend his ideas in public, but then he was not a well man – so he rarely travelled and didn’t attend many meetings – though other scientists would visit him. I suppose the fact that a sick man cannot defend in public his ideas means that the ideas are wrong? Is that really your logic?

        Darwin’s ideas explain really well the development and diversity of life. As for the origin of life, well that is still a mystery, but why do you think a theory about what happens after life has started should explain how life started? That’s like asking Newton’s Law of universal gravitation to explain the origin of the universe – yes there is a link, but one does not necessarily explain the other so it is with evolution.

      Insightful Ape said:
      September 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      Ooh…I am sure you have read The Origin of Species, haven’t you, vladski? What is your source for that misquote?
      But in the real world, which you don’t seem to inhabit, the Darwin era scientists thought the age of the earth was a lot less than it actually is. Lord Kelvin, for example, believed the maximum allowable age of earth was 100 million years, because he thought that solar energy came from an oxidative process, and the mass of the sun was not sufficient to sustain this level of radiation any longer than that.

        Marcas (@marcas) said:
        September 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm

        From memory, the other factor concerning the age of the earth was another as-yet-undiscovered nuclear process, fission, providing the energy to keep the earth’s core hot, power volcanoes, and drive plate tectonics (though this didn’t becomes a Theory until mid last century).

      Matt said:
      September 27, 2011 at 9:06 am

      A perfect example of why ONLY science should be taught in science classes. Religious mis-information regarding what the scientists thought or what is possible/impossible should be kept for the myth lessons.
      Science in Darwin’s day did not have a good understanding of the age of the universe and Darwin was aware that the earth would need to be considerably older than was thought for evolution by natural selection to have brought nature to its current state.
      It is you who misunderstands the idea that “Intelligent Design is the best explanation”. It doesn’t explain anything. Pardon me, but I think your understanding of the word “explain” is misguided. What you rekon, what you have read in the papers, in Harry Potter or any other fictional works about magic don’t actually count as explaiations even if they satisfy your own personal requirements. “God did it” explains nothing. There is no definition of the active participant, nor any method (so it isn’t science). It also raises a question which you have no answer to. If something complex requires a designer, the designer is also complex, so who designed your designer?
      Evolution is a fact. Natural selection as its overriding force is a scientific theory. ID is a flawed guess with no more supporting evidence than the universe riding on the back of a giant turtle and other currently untestable guesses. If taught, it should be with other myths and magic such as “you can’t apperate in Hogwarts”.

    Tony Ryan - Coffee Loving Skeptic said:
    September 26, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Excellent post.
    Are any of the interviews available to listen to online?

      James said:
      September 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      Thanks Tony.
      I think that some (most? all?) are available via the BBC listen again service on the BBC regional page.
      The schedule I was given was:

      0700 LEEDS
      0710 DERBY
      0720 WILTSHIRE
      0730
      0740 JERSEY
      0750 WM ( MIDLANDS )
      0800
      0810 SUSSEX
      0820 GLOUCESTER
      0830
      0840 GUERNSEY
      0850 BERKS

      These are appropriate times and I think there may have been another station at 08:30, but I can’t recall which region.
      James

    Robert said:
    September 26, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    “Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature.”

    Am I right in thinking that they should be looking for evidence that everything could have happened naturally? They should be trying to disprove their theory, and with every failure their position would become stronger.

      James said:
      September 26, 2011 at 11:01 pm

      Yes, you are correct. Science sets out to test its theories through conjecture and refutation (as Popper would say) and the more tests it withstands the stronger the theory. That’s why evolution is so strong it has withstood many tests over the past 150 years.

      The problem that ID has though is how to falsify it. The fact that it cannot be falsified would, by Popper’s criterion make it pseudoscience not science. The fact that the ‘designer’ is a supernatural being already makes questions about the designer unscientific (as are questions about the existence of God).

      So ID is riddled with problems. As I say above they are saying something is designed if it has properties that man-made objects have as we know these to be designed. But why would a supernatural being or force or entity abide by the rules that humans have for design?

      Crystals look designed, as do snowflakes, as do some natural features (e.g. Giant’s causeway in Ireland). I use crystals in some of my teaching about man-made and natural and many students of mine (school age in the past and graduates in science more recently) have incorrectly identified a natural object as man-made (e.g. iron pyrite crystals, large single ones) and they are shocked when you tell them that they grow naturally and the sides are not cut and polished. They have also been folled by snowflakes, identifyinmg them as lace knitted by people.

    Jason Dale said:
    September 26, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Thank goodness that there are people like you James willing to help fight the corner for rational (and all too often silent) people everywhere. I get wound up just reading about the way these debates with religious advocates tend to go and I know that I could not keep a cool head myself. So thank you, your efforts are appreciated.

    Laura said:
    September 26, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Are you on twitter?

      James said:
      September 26, 2011 at 10:17 pm

      Sorry, my thumbs did not evolve in the same way as the youth of today (how do they txt and tweet so fast??)
      I don’t twit, tweet or tw.. (no, that’s a rude word!) – no rude words on here.

    Grumpy Bob said:
    September 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I have received an invitation to a lecture by Stephen Meyer organised by C4ID and hosted by Lord Mackay of Clashfern on November 17th at Whitehall. The event includes a two course meal. Someone, somewhere, is subbing these guys quite a bit of cash to push Intelligent Design Creationism.
    Interestingly, the invitation came to my university work address. If I go, I’ll get a free copy of Meyer’s book.

      James said:
      September 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm

      Some of my colleagues in Life Sciences at the University have also received invitations.
      Interesting point you make about funding. Neither the Discovery Institute not the Centre for Intelligent Design, or, for that matter, Truth in Science, will disclose how they are funded and by whom or by which organisations. I guess that as ‘private’ institutions they do not have to, but all it does is make people speculate and possibly come to the wrong conclusion.

      The invites are very nice, nicely printed, I was offered one by a colleague who would nominate me in his place, he was not interested at all in the notion of ID opr the book or the speech.

      For anyone thinking of going I would urge you to read the review of his book by Jonathan Shallit (see the link above) where he takes much of what is said by Meyer apart – some interesting challenges for him there. Also his new book on the Myth of Junk DNA contains some poor reserach – e.g. he states that speciation has never been observed (it has) and he claims that Mendel disagreed with Darwin’s stance (he didn’t he just didn’t agree with Darwin’s pangenesis ideas.

      Could make for an interesting Q+A after the meal.

      Colin Walls said:
      September 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      Note that Riazat Butt of the Guardian has also been invited – https://jamesdwilliams.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/intelligent-design-creationism-is-not-science/
      I (I post as “epeeist” on the Guardian) and others have told her to concentrate on the funding for the DI and its political aims rather than be taken in by the “science”

    Andrew Downie said:
    September 26, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    An excellent article. As an aside, I did note Dr Noble’s presence at a PZ Myer’s talk in Glasgow a few months ago, hosted by Glasgow Skeptics. However, he did disappear before the Q and A session, and left one of his members to ask questions. Surely he should have done this himself? I would also like to know whether the interviews were recorded, it would be interesting listening I am sure.

    Nick. said:
    September 26, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    “It is not accepted as science by the scientific community and, as such, cannot be taught as science in schools.”

    It’s not accepted in my household that my son will sleep at 9pm tonight… does that make it any less likely?

    Before posting an article at least read through for things that make you sound like a teenager doing an essay for year 7 biology…

    Who are the “scientific community”? Who made them gods to dictate to the rest of us what to believe, and what to teach children?

    If I so choose to teach my child ID, then so be it. I have no desire to interfere with the way you teach your children. Or perhaps you’ll open it right up and let me interfere, by letting them know it’s okay to sit idly by and argue the toss about ID/evolution when your Government is out there spending billions of pounds it doesn’t have on weapons to blow up innocent civillians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and so on.

    Perhaps it’s okay to be so wrapped up about whether ID or evolution is right or wrong, and to worry about who was doing the most name-calling…

    Let’s forget about the huge bailouts that the banks are getting with money that does not and never will exists (except for when we pay it back as taxes). Let’s worry about our bruised egos because some preacher started calling me names.

    Wow…

    I was a big supporter. But I can’t support a child, especially one who doesn’t realise that people have differing points of view, and it’s okay. It really is okay.

      James said:
      September 26, 2011 at 10:45 pm

      The scientific comunity is the body of professional scientists who conduct research and who are undertaking work that leads to a better understanding of natural phenomena.

      There are scientists who dissent from Darwinism; they do not accept evolution. The Discovery Institute has a list, 700 of them at the latest count I think. This represents a tiny minority of scientists who do not accept Evolution theory. Contrast that with a list of scientists whop accept evolution theory, at the last count 1,100+

      The thing is, you can only sign this list supporting evolution if your name is Stephen, Steven, Stephan, Stephanie and so on, derivatives of Stephen, in memory of Stephen Jay Gould. It is estimated that only 1% of scientists would have such a name assuming (and there’s no reason not to assume) that the distribution of names is similar in the scientific community to the general population. So 1,100 names represents 110,000 scientists worldwide, compared to 700. This gives you an idea of how few scientists there are supporting ID and creationism.

      Science is not about belief – you can believe what you wish, but science is about the acceptance of evidence and that is different from belief. Many scientists accept the evidence for evolution and hold a religious belief – there is no conflict for them. Evolution does not automatically lead to conflict with religious bodies (it is only the evangelical minorty that proposes that ID or creationism must have a voice in our schools and science classes. Remember Dr Noble is a lay preacher for an evangelical chuch in Glasgow as well as being a former teacher/inspector).

      Children deserve to be taught the most reliable and accepted science of the day and to be taught about the process of science and how scientists publish and put their work to their peers for criticism.

      Really don’t know where you are going on the war, banks etc. Totally irrelevant to this discussion. If you wish to teach your child ID then you are free to do so, but schools are not the place for teaching non-science as science and corrupting what is accepted and reliable.

      I support the right of ID scientists to do their work and research and should they ever come up with hard empirical evidence for what they are trying to prove then by all means follow the footsteps of all other scientists and submit to peer review (yes it has its flaws, but it is still how we conduct our business) and prove your case – if they can do that then we can discuss if it is appropriate to teach it in schools, but I suspect that as they don’t have a proper research programme that will result in scientific knowledge and understanding that is verifiable and reliable, they will have problems meeting the challenge (well they have problems at present).
      I do not object to their differing viewpoint and although I do not agree with their inferences, I do not want them outlawed or banned. If they wish to be taken seriously, they must deliver the goods and not just demand to be heard or included in the curriculum. That’s not how a curriculum is developed.

        Stephen Norley said:
        September 27, 2011 at 7:29 am

        I think that you are being too kind with your mention of the ‘700 scientists who reject evolution’. An earlier incarnation of 100 or so such scientists was analysed in detail by ‘DonExodus2’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty1Bo6GmPqM) and he found that (i) the vast majority were not biologists (or even scientists); (ii) of the biologists that replied to his enquiry, all but two (if I remember correctly) stated that they fully accept common descent and (ii) of these last two, one clearly did not understand what evolution is and the other was a creationist working at Liberty University. The list therefore contained ZERO biologists that understood evolutionary science but still rejected evolution on scientific grounds.

        James said:
        September 27, 2011 at 8:53 am

        I am, probably, being too kind with the list – yes it does contain a large number of non-biologists (not so surprising) but there are some biology related degree holders. Remember also that the creationiost community will also try to get some dedicated people to study biolog,y not for the subject, but simply for the qualification so that they can boast that ‘I’m a creationist and I have a degree in biology’. Some others turn to creationism after studying biology.

        But no matter, if the best they can do worldwide is gather the signatures of fewer than 1000 people it really does demonstrate what a minority position it is. In the UK you need 100,000 signatories to trigger a debate in the House of Commons on a subject (even then it is not guaranteed). It does make me wonder how, in the USA, so many creationist sympathisers get into high public office e.g. Rick Perry.

        At a talk I gave last week on Insidious Creationism I was asked what drives creationists, why do they do what they do. For many I think it is fear – fear that there is nothing after life and fear of the unknown in death. But for others, notably those in positions of power and authority in these organisations I think it is also money.

        Nick. said:
        September 27, 2011 at 9:05 am

        James, as posted below you’ll note that there are a great deal of things taught at schools in this day and age that are wrong.

        Are we, as a community, going to be tackling all these issues (no matter how small)?

        http://www.2spare.com/item_49873.aspx

        James said:
        September 27, 2011 at 9:29 am

        Certainly there are a number of issues and things in our curriculum and in schools that are not perfect and I do challenge poor science and science teaching where it arises, also I challenge the government on its views on teacher education in general. I am a critic of the examination system and lots of other things. I do not restrict myself to just ID and creationism. having said that, must get off to work! So no more posts from me until this evening, provided of course there is something to comment on.

      Insightful Ape said:
      September 26, 2011 at 11:04 pm

      Let me see…creationism, bank bailouts, middle east wars…
      Now if his attention span were a big longer he could say something about climate change and gay right too.

      Tom Mankins said:
      September 26, 2011 at 11:22 pm

      “If I so choose to teach my child ID, then so be it. I have no desire to interfere with the way you teach your children.”

      Well then that makes it easy, just teach your child that “God did it” and the lesson is over, no critical thought, no insight, no arguments and no answers to anything.

      “Who are the “scientific community”? Who made them gods to dictate to the rest of us what to believe, and what to teach children?”

      Scientists do not think they are gods and do not dictate what anyone believes as science is not about belief, science is about evidence. If you want to teach things without evidence, then that is your choice, but when science is taught in publicly funded schools, then it should be all about where the evidence takes you and never about beliefs founded on nothing more than wishful thinking otherwise you would have to teach everyones explanation of the natural world based on their wishful thinking, not just yours.

      Phil said:
      September 27, 2011 at 7:20 am

      Nick, re-read the article. You’ve missed the point.

      “cannot be taught as science in schools”. Science is just that. Either you miss the very fundamentals of biology, or you can’t read. It is not that is might not be taught, but taught as science. Keep alert, will you? Your son’s school might teach him to run around naked with a plastic bucket over his head, but it won’t be taught as science. I’m sure that is an art, anyway.

        Nick. said:
        September 27, 2011 at 9:04 am

        Phil, I hadn’t missed the point.

        The point wasn’t lost for one second.

        I agree that ID shouldn’t be taught as science (if you read to the end of my post).

        I just wish that when it comes to the debate this “point scoring” would stop. Only then would we see some real difference between the supporters of either idea.

        The problem is that the article opens with a line: “It is not accepted as science by the scientific community and, as such, cannot be taught as science in schools.”

        The scientific community, at one time did not accept that the speed of light could be reached. Now we have reports that the speed of light has been broken.

        Science at one time believed in just one universe, now we hear that there could be an unlimited number of them.

        http://www.2spare.com/item_49873.aspx – Curious things we are taught at school, that are wrong, but you likely spend your life believing.

        The point is this: there’s a great deal of point scoring going on. It’s sad, it’s childish, and it need to come to an end. Especially if there is to be a rational debate.

        Lauding that you have been called names on radio – not big, not clever.

        Once again, I’m all for the ideas behind the THEORY of evolution, and disagree vehemently that ID should be taught as science.

        My point, just to re-iterate: Let’s get reasonable. Let’s get sensible, let’s stop the name-calling, and crying about the name-calling.

        Reasonable, sensible debate – it’s the only way forward.

        Phil said:
        September 27, 2011 at 9:08 am

        So you think there’s a chance that ID will one day be a science. That’s exactly my point. Maybe the Bible itself will be science one day. Um, no. I don’t sit back and say “well anything can be.” I can be quite objective, but ID as Science? Sorry, but that would mean that I believe in God and that there is evidence of much of what religion argues. There never has been. Not a smidgen of it. There’s more evidence of Riverdale High-school in Archie comics.

    Neil Rhoden said:
    September 27, 2011 at 12:08 am

    You cannot debate rationally with people who believe in fairies. They are unable to see the real wonder of the world as it exists – blind fools!

    farmer said:
    September 27, 2011 at 12:56 am

    Good stuff. I am looking forward to watching the video of the debate, should it become available.

      James said:
      September 27, 2011 at 9:05 am

      Sorry, no video of the debate. I was shut in a broom cupboard in the BBC Brighton studios and linked to various radio stations across the UK and channel Islands.

      I think you can listen to the ‘deabte’ if you visit the BBC regional webpage then look for their ‘listen again’ section and select Sunday 25th and the early morning show between 6-9. The schedule is listed in my response to another query on this page.

    Proud Heathen said:
    September 27, 2011 at 12:57 am

    What an excellent article. It’s good to know there is still some sanity in this world.

    […] lecturer in Science Education at the University of Sussex, and his nasty brush with an ID devotee: Intelligent Design Creationism is not science. Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on EcoPressed Making the Case for […]

    Graham Zimmermann said:
    September 27, 2011 at 8:38 am

    James – I said to an ID advocate that I can imagine in my mind’s eye evolution by natural selection. For example, if I were a “fly on the wall” observing the course of evolution by NS – I can visualise in my mind what I would observe. I asked him “If I were a fly on the wall and was observing the origin of species by ID – what would I observe?” He avoided answering because otherwise he would have had to admit that by ID animals & plants would have to just pop into existence fully created out of the blue which, even for him, would sound rediculous.

      James said:
      September 27, 2011 at 8:58 am

      Yes, in some ways this goes with my argument of how do you know that you are seeing design by a supernatural being/mind/intelligence if your frame of reference is man-made objects/design? I did ask Dr Noble if he could tell me what an unintelligently designed or non-designed universe would look like. We can only refer to the universe we know can see, can measure etc. Even if we postulate that we are just one universe of many (multiverse) we do not know what the actual characteristics of that universe would be and so we have no frame of reference. He couldn’t answer, I think he just ignored the question.

    Richard Forrest said:
    September 27, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Not so much a disagreement, as an additional comment:

    “I put it to Dr Noble that how they characterise ‘design’ is based on looking at the features of things that we know to be designed (that is that are man-made). ”

    This is not what the ID movement are doing. They are looking at systems for which they claim we have no “Darwinian” explanation, and demanding that they are “designed” as if that is the default position for scientific investigation. They offer no definition of what they mean by “design”, or any analysis of “designed” objects and systems which distinguishes them from non-“designed” objects and systems. To a designer – and I write as an evolutionary biologist who is also a qualified architect – complexity is something we try to avoid. Nobody would look at a hugely and unnecessarily complex system (Microsoft Windows springs to mind) and characterise it’s complexity per se as evidence that it is designed.

    An honest scientific investigation into “design” could be undertaken:
    1) Define what is meant by “design” in the context of the investigation
    2) Acquire a data set of objects or systems known to be “designed” and those known not to be “designed” (which would be challenging for ID proponents who believe that the entire universe is “designed”)
    3) Analyse the characteristics of the two data sets to find out if there are characters exclusive to either.
    4) If no such characters can be found, conclude that it is not possible to identify “designed” objects and systems based on this methodology
    5) If a consistent set of characters can be found, look for them in objects and systems whose status as “designed” we don’t know.

    Of course, we all know that the neither the DI nor any other creationist organisation will engage in such an investigation. Bearing in mind that some ID fellows have reasonable track records of research and publication in legitimate science, they must know that this, or something along the same lines, is a requirement for science. They won’t, because their claims to scientific legitimacy are designed not to enlighten, but to confuse and deceive. They offer the pretence of science by using scientific-sounding language which does not fool any honest scientist for a moment, but appeals to the ignorance and credulity of their creationist followers.

    It is quite simply a cynical scam. It’s dishonest, and should be opposed not so much for any religious or scientific reason, but because it’s dishonest, and demands dishonesty of its adherents. I oppose creationism in all its forms because I have found it to be deeply and fundamentally dishonest. Bearing in mind that this dishonesty comes from those claiming the moral high ground, I detest the utter hypocrisy of the movement.

      James said:
      September 27, 2011 at 9:24 am

      I was using the DI definition about what they purport to do – I agree, yes most of the time they look for things that we cannot explain and default to the answer that if they cannot conceive of how it could have evolved then it m,ust be designed. I put that point across – If I recall correctly Dr Noble challenged this and said that this is not what they do, hence my recourse to the definition and the challenge I made. I also agree that the DI cannot deliver a coherent and acceptable research programme which would result in peer reviewed articles, so instead they talk about being shut out (Dr Noble mentioned this in one interview) and he also tried to state that peer review in the mainstream was not necessarily the only way to do good science.

    Peter Evans said:
    September 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Hi James,

    Really like the article. I have often thought that a type of Intelligent Design can actually be shown to be a strong indicator of evolution. If you consider the selective breeding of animals and plant varieties for farming and showing as a type of intelligent design i.e a human being modifiying the “design” of an animal using intelligence; then the very rapid results that can be shown surely demonstrate to the most ardent creationist that species can change over time. The only controversy is not whether evolution can happen, but whether evolution can take place using natural selection compared with selective breeding (albeit much more slowly).
    Darwin himself used the evidence from observing the breeding of pigeons for showing to illustrate this.

    vladski said:
    September 27, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    To: James:

    Pardon me for not being so clear on what I said. It seems that you have missed the point I wanted to get across. Darwin’s acceptance to the Botanical section of the French Institute was actually a blow to his new publications as it says that:

    “What has closed the doors of the Academy to Mr. Darwin is that the science of those of his books which have made his chief title to fame-the ‘Origin of Species,’ and still more the ‘Descent of Man,’ is not science, but a mass of assertions and absolutely gratuitous hypotheses, often evidently fallacious.
    This kind of publication and these theories are a bad example, which a body that respects itself cannot encourage.”
    “Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, D. Appleton and Co., London, 2:400, footnote, 1911”

    Zoological section is where it should matters most for his papers to get acknowledged but the exact opposite happened.

    And what do you suppose the reason why Darwin was not elected to the Zoological section? Isn’t the reason given not enough to acknowledge that the scientific community of his time considered his theory as not science, but a mass of assertions and absolutely gratuitous hypotheses, often evidently fallacious?

    Surely this comment was not made official by the Institute but you cannot deny the fact that 68.75% (or 33 of 48 members) thought it was not science, but a mass of assertions and absolutely gratuitous hypotheses, often evidently fallacious. And oh, if Darwin was not barred from the Zoological section, why he was not re-admitted then?

    and another thing… who is Mr. X that Loren C. Eiseley talked about in “Darwin and the Mysterious Mr. X” that Darwin failed to give credit for the foundation of his theory on Natural Selection?

    And as Michael Denton says: ‘The influence of evolutionary theory on fields far removed from biology is one of the most spectacular examples in history of how a highly speculative idea for which there is really no hard scientific evidence can come to fashion the thinking of a whole society and dominate the outlook of any age…’ (Denton, ‘Evolution: a Theory in Crisis’, p358).

      James said:
      September 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm

      I think you were quite clear in what you said. You stated that “Darwin was barred from entering to the prestigious “French Institute” and was never accepted” this is simply not true, he may not have been elected to the zoology section, but he was elected to the Botany section. Remember also that this was an honour. He did not apply to the Institute and I suspect he cared very little if he was elected or not – he found the election to the botany section highly amusing. Just repeating the quote and citation does not alter your misreading and misunderstanding.

      You are also making statements that cannot be backed with any evidence:

      “Isn’t the reason given not enough to acknowledge that the scientific community of his time considered his theory as not science, but a mass of assertions and absolutely gratuitous hypotheses, often evidently fallacious?” Absolutely not. You are basing this sweeping generalisation on one failed nomination (not even his own nomination) to get an honour by being elected to one section of one society at one time. He was given many, many honours and elected to many societies, but you feel that it is OK to ignore all that and on the basis of one minor failed election and one man’s letter to a newspaper – you think that means that ‘the scientific community’ didn’t consider his ideas as science?? I’m sorry but that is just madness. Believe it or not the scientific community of that day consisted of more than just 48 people in the French Institute, actually as you point out 33 as 15 voted for him!

      Then you say that “you cannot deny the fact that 68.75% (or 33 of 48 members) thought it was not science, but a mass of assertions and absolutely gratuitous hypotheses, often evidently fallacious.” On what basis – one person’s letter and description? You are making an assertion you cannot evidence at all. You cannot possibly know why some members didn’t vote for him – perhaps some thought he had enough recognition and so decided to vote for a home colleague rather than the Englishman. I have as much evidence for that assertion as you have for your mass rejection on the basis of one man’s views. He was beaten in the election by a French national – quelle surprise eh?

      ” And oh, if Darwin was not barred from the Zoological section, why he was not re-admitted then?” Well, to be re-admitted you have to be elected in the first place and he was not. Remember, these elections to various societies were NOT at his request but came from the instititions or its members. It’s like receiving an honorary degree from Sussex – you cannot ring up and reuqest one, you have to be nominated and then your nomination is discussed and agreed by committe then you are asked if you would like to receive it.

      Alfred Russel Wallace turned down many honours as he wasn’t thatbothered by havimng memberships and degrees and he said that hiscabinet which held medals etc was full!

      The mysterious Mr X is sometimes Wallace, sometimes Edward Blythe, even Patrick Matthew. Many people feel that Darwin ‘stole’ from Wallace but it is just not true. Wallace admired Darwin and even called his main book Darwinism in honour of Darwin – describing himslef once as ‘more Darwinian than Darwin’. It is often the case that similar ideas are found and occur to others and that there seems to be circumstantial evience of subtefuge, but in this case there is no case to answer – believe me, many years ago I wanted to try and claim priority for Wallace, but all my efforts and research led to one conclusion Darwin didn’t steal anyone else’s ideas. Pity, could have earned me a Doctorate and some serious fame!

        vladski said:
        September 28, 2011 at 7:29 am

        James said: “I think you were quite clear in what you said. You stated that “Darwin was barred from entering to the prestigious “French Institute” and was never accepted” this is simply not true, he may not have been elected to the zoology section, but he was elected to the Botany section. Remember also that this was an honour. He did not apply to the Institute and I suspect he cared very little if he was elected or not – he found the election to the botany section highly amusing. Just repeating the quote and citation does not alter your misreading and misunderstanding.”

        As you have claimed that you are an academe yourself, I would assume that you have the right tools for your so called “research” on Darwin’s plagiarisms. Instead, you continuously ignored the points I am making. Let me point it out to you one by one:

        1. “The Origin of Species” and the “Descent of Man” were never considered a science by at least one particular prestigious scientific community in Darwin’s time.
        2. Darwin’s election as a corresponding author to the Botanical Section of the French Institute has nothing to do with “The Origin of Species” and that of the “Descent of Man”.
        3. The Zoological section of the French Institute was the authoritative body of the institution for that particular topic Darwin published. But his membership was barred or turned down by majority of its members for reasons given.
        4. Darwin published his work “The Origin of Species” only in 1859. Edward Blyth published an explanation of natural selection in 1835 and again in 1837.
        5. A study of the works of pre-Darwinian biologists shows that, in contrast to this common assumption, Darwin was not the first modern biologist to develop the idea of organic evolution by natural selection. Ref. (Thompson, B., The History of Evolutionary Thought, Star Bible & Tract Corp, Fort Worth, 1981.) and (Glass, B., Temkin, O. and Straus, W., Forerunners of Darwin: 1745–1895, The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1959).
        6. The Descent of Man which Darwin made claims as his was largely a repeat ideas of others such as Carl Vogt’s 1864 Book Lectures of Man.
        7. When Darwin was accused by a contemporary named Samuel Butler of slighting the evolutionary specualtion of Lamarck nad his own grandfather Erasmus, Darwin reacted to these accusations with “silence” – as reported by Gould. (Gould, S.J., Darwin vindicated! New York Review of Books 26(1):36–38,1979; p. 38.).

        James, you can say whatever you want to say about your qualifications and your research but I can’t hardly see the evidence on matters you assumed as true and factual with about to Darwin’s work.

        James said:
        September 28, 2011 at 8:24 pm

        I am begining to think that your posts are not really about debating the issue and you are either deliberately misreading and misunderstanding what I write or that you have an issue with the language I am using. I’ve noticed that you may not be a native English speaker and so some of the more subtle statements may not be getting through to you.

        Here goes again.

        1. There is no doubt that the FRENCH as a nation had an issue woith Darwin’s theory of evolution over that our their countryman Lamarck. Darwin wrote about the French scientists disposition towards him and his theory of evolution over that of Lamarck. He also noted that the GERMAN nation embraced evolution as did German scientists.
        2. Darwin’s election to the Botany section – indeed election to any section of the Academy was not about the books but the work of the scientist and his work in botany was very supportive of his evolution theory though even Darwin was amused at his election to the botany section as botany was a minor interest for him. These facts notwithstanding your original assertion that “Darwin was barred from entering to the prestigious “French Institute” and was never accepted” is NOT TRUE.

        Can I suggest that you read: L’introduction du darwinisme en France au XIXe siecle. By Yvette Conry. Paris: Librairie PhilosophiqueJ. Vrin, 1974. PP. 480.

        This details how Darwin’s ideas were accepted or not in France. You have to understand that your simplistic view of ‘his work was not considered sc ience’ is incorrect and, as I say simplistic.
        The acceptance of Darwin’s ideas were emeshed with scientific, ideological, institutional, and political factors. You cannot just focus on one thing. In the 1870s when Darwin was being rejected by the French there was a resurrgence in Lamarckism. more strictly neo-Lamarckism. Rather than providing French biologists with a means of coming to grips with Darwin’s theory, neo-Lamarckism provided them
        with a means of avoiding the anti-finalistic message of the Origin of Species (from Richard W. Burkhardt, Jr. Isis, Vol. 67, No. 3 (Sep., 1976), pp. 494-496.)

        3. So in the context of the above while undoubtedly some would reject Darwin for the zoology section as they did not think his work was ‘science’ (as you state, you cannot know that ALL of them rejected him and did not vote for him for that reaosn given the rise in neo-Lamarckism and all the other social and political factors at play at that time. It is just not a sustainable position and very naieve to think that.

        4. The issue of Darwin and ‘plagiarism’ has been investigated many times and rejected. As I said if I could have proven that Darwin had stolen from Wallace (and I have met Wallace’s Grandson, had access to Wallace’s original documentation, written in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History on Wallace as well as conducted computer analysis of Darwin and Wallace’s wriing) I would have earned a PhD for it and made my name. But the evidence is just not there – not for stealing from Blythe, wallace, Matthew or anyone else. Darwin was never happy with his first edition of Origin as he was rushed into print after receiving Wallace’s essay (published in 1858 as a joint paper with Darwin at the Linnean Society). That;s why he revised, added, changed and it was the sixth edition that is the most popular. He admitted that some citations were missing from the first edition – but again understand the difference between a book and a peer reviewed academic paper where citation is all. Popular books, even professional books are NOT SUBJECT to the same scrutiny. My book on How Science Works for example is a professional book not an Academic book with citations galore. The papers I write for journals derived from the book are very different with many more citations.
        5, 6 and 7. Very few ideas are original – even intelligent design goes back to the ancient Greeks, it did not start with Johnson in the States, nor did it start with William Paley. The idea of ‘evolution’ was not new to Darwin but, and here is the thing, Darwin and Wallace’s ideas did the thing that other similar ideas did not do – propose a mechanism fully thought out with lots of evidence. Some aspects of Blythe and Matthew’s woprk yes described natural selection of sorts but not as fully and not as well as Darwin and Wallace – they also (moreso Darwin) caught the public imagination and so the idea caught on. This is not uncommon in science (again go back to the discovery of Oxygen or the process of vaccination, often credited to Jenner. But all this is a smokescreen to the centrral issue. Evolution is a fact – it happens and has been observed to happen in the wild and in the lab, natural selection is the best explanation to date of HOW evolution happens. Intelligent Design explains NOTHING and raises questions that are outside the remit of science.

        My qualifications are irrelevant, my research is (in the case of the life and work of Darwin and Wallace). I do not make assumptions I read (copiously) books that are pro and anti Darwin. I have yet to find a creationist or ID book that does not mangle the facts about Darwin, his life and work.

    Ben said:
    September 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    @ Nick:
    “The scientific community, at one time did not accept that the speed of light could be reached. Now we have reports that the speed of light has been broken. Science at one time believed in just one universe, now we hear that there could be an unlimited number of them. ”

    Yes, and just like ID, when these observations have been replicated by other scientists world-wide; when the theory for these observations is corroborated by, and provides corroborating evidence for, related theories in other scientific disciplines; when such theory has shown to have some useful, predictive value; then they will be taught in High School science classes as science. The ID proponents seem to think that their exceedingly weak, unsupported (and unsupportable!) hypothesis (not theory) is somehow exempt from the rigors imposed on other scientists. Perhaps this self-centered sense of privilege is a natural consequence of believing that that one is “buddies” with an omniscient being.

    vladski said:
    September 28, 2011 at 7:59 am

    James said: “Then you say that “you cannot deny the fact that 68.75% (or 33 of 48 members) thought it was not science, but a mass of assertions and absolutely gratuitous hypotheses, often evidently fallacious.” On what basis – one person’s letter and description? You are making an assertion you cannot evidence at all. You cannot possibly know why some members didn’t vote for him – perhaps some thought he had enough recognition and so decided to vote for a home colleague rather than the Englishman. I have as much evidence for that assertion as you have for your mass rejection on the basis of one man’s views. He was beaten in the election by a French national – quelle surprise eh?”

    And your reply on why most of the members of the institute didn’t vote was — “perhaps some thought he had enough recognition and so decided to vote for a home colleague rather than the Englishman..” you consider this assumption as a well supported one… nice one!

    The very fact that Darwin was never been nominated or voted in the succeeding years to the Zoological Section of the French Institute is clear as you can deduce from their decision that his theory on the origin of species and the descent of man is nothing but not science, but a mass of assertions and absolutely gratuitous hypotheses, often evidently fallacious. For what other good reasons should barred Darwin’s acceptance into the Zoological section? Your reasoning made me chuckle James.

      James said:
      September 28, 2011 at 8:36 pm

      And here you go again either deliberately misunderstanding what I say or simply not understanding the language.

      You said – quoting my earlier reply: And your reply on why most of the members of the institute didn’t vote was — “perhaps some thought he had enough recognition and so decided to vote for a home colleague rather than the Englishman..” you consider this assumption as a well supported one… nice one!

      WRONG

      I do NOT consider it a well supported assumption – what I was trying (and obviously failing) to do was to say that your sweeping generalisation of ALL 33 MEMBERS rejecting his nomination was because NONE of them accepted his ideas as Science is UNEVIDENCED – my point is that unless we have a report from each and every member who voted and why they voted the way they did (and remember we DO NOT have this – we just have the count of votes and ONE person’s view on it), then my assertion could be just as valid. BUT I’m trying to show that it is not valid and neither is your assertion.

      Do you understand now?

      The point is that the reason for Darwin not being elected to one section is – according to others (Conry, Moore, Burkhardt to name three prominent academics) not just me – wrapped up in scientific, ideological, institutional, and political factors. You cannot just ignore the rest and fixate on ‘scientific or not’ just to suit your view and then make sweeping statements that are unsupported by the facts as you did in the original posts!

        vladski said:
        September 28, 2011 at 9:16 pm

        Hello??? Commonsense, James… What could be other good reasons for a scientist not be accepted by a scientific institute (Zoological section) other than to reference for merits to his work? In this case, Darwin’s works fail. It is clear that Darwin’s the origin and the descent did not earn him merits to be admitted to Zoological section where his papers matter most. I don’t have to speculate on that because that is the only logical thinking you can come up with when Darwin was not accepted to the prestigious Zoological section of that institution. Admittance to zoological section constitutes recognition of a person’s work as highly relevance, has advanced the field and knowledge. Clearly, Darwin failed on this because his work were mere copycats.

        I referenced what could have been the reasons for the institute’s denial of his membership to the Zoological section as voiced out by one of its respected members but you went on to offer ridiculous explanation like “perhaps some thought he had enough recognition and so decided to vote for a home colleague rather than the Englishman.” That’s pathetic, James.

        Do you understand now?

        James said:
        September 28, 2011 at 9:44 pm

        OK it is pretty clear now that despite patiently trying to explain to you the social, political, ideological and scientific factors surrounding Dawin’s acceptance in France you clearly cannot take this on board. I’m sorry that you are unable to understand that decisions made by people can result from a combination of factors. Your original assertion and statement is still incorrect, despite what you say. If you genuinely wish to contribute sensibly to debate then I suggest that you gain some skills in critical thinking so that you do not just make simplistic assertions and analyses of complex matters. The only reason you want to see, as it suits your view, is that Darwin was not elected to the Zoological section as they rejected his work as non-scientific, that may well be the case for one or more members but we cannot state that it was the case for all members who voted as there is not the evidence to support this. You cannot ignore the influence of neo-Lamarckism, the nationalistic pride of the French, their ideological stance and the political situation (politics of science that is).

        If you do ignore everything else then it would be like stating that John Sargeant and Anne Widecombe got as far as they did in Strictly come dancing was because they were good dancers, after all it was a dance competition and surely only the best survive and have a chancecof winning!

        By the way I would appreciate some civility here, referring to me as ‘pathetic’ is uncalled for when I have been at pains to try and help you understand some aspects of the history of science that you clearly do not understand.

    mar fin said:
    September 28, 2011 at 8:46 am

    James Instead of just making grand statements supporting one side or the other , a simple thing to do is to define science , what make something scientific or not scientific , then either sides ideas or theories can be examined against this definition.
    I would also just like to ask you one question was S.E.T.I. a scientific endeavour ?

      James said:
      September 28, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      The original etymological definition of science is quite simple. It is derived from the Latin, Scientia, and simply means ‘knowledge’. But this isn’t very helpful unless you want to create some special disciplnes such as Library Scientist or Political Scientist’

      Another definition would be: “The branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of, and experiment with, phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe.” but this also lacks the sort of precision that scientists would wish for. So ultimately I plump for the definition provided by the Science Council as the best definition to use and I would agree with its use in schools, universities and in general life as the definition is simple and easy to understand and precise:

      “Science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.”

      For me the key word is ‘natural’ – science is not about the ‘supernatural’ – which is ultimately what ID is all about.

      SETI? Well it is a private not-for-profit institution who are trying to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe. As such it resides in the ‘natural’ – there is no implicationas far as I am aware that an alien intelligence, if it did exist, would be supernatural so certainly their questons and methodologies are scientific and I am happy to support their work as science. That said they have a long way to go to show that an alien intelligence does exist. If you are moving along the lines that if the I in ID is alien then that makes ID science then you need to understand the history of ID – they may purport to support the notion that the Intelligent agent in ID ‘could’ be alien, but that cannot be as their Intelligent agent created everything including the universe and so by default cannot be the intelligent agent – the alien we may possibly find IN the universe could not be the supernatural being that created the universe.

    Adam said:
    September 29, 2011 at 1:48 am

    I have a couple of comments.
    1: Why would one association, in France, be the deciding factor of whether something was scientific or not? Political differences have affected what is and isn’t considered science for many years. Look at the differences our scientists in the U.S. have had with Soviet scientists. It would seem to me that this is another ploy by creationists, malign one tiny detail of someones life, and in doing so claim that any work or progress that person did was wrong.
    2: I am not certain how ID proponents can walk back the founding of the movement based upon christian religion. The originators of the movement were not shy about stating why they were doing it, nor were they particularly quiet about it either. And legal case after legal case has shown this.
    3: The idea of a ‘debate’ on the merits of ID vs Evolution seems in my opinion to be pure folly. Should there be a debate on what the moon is made of? Should we still be debating a flat earth? Should there be a debate on whether or not the Holocaust happened? No. One of my favorite historians, Deborah Lipstadt, stated in one of her books that she was called in the 80’s to talk about the holocaust as a historian. She said yeah she would go on the show, and the producer said great, we will get a holocaust denier on and have a debate. That ended any talk of Deborah going on the show because as she stated, and I am paraphrasing here, that there is no debate when there is only one side of the story, no other. This isn’t to imply that historians cannot talk about the holocaust, the effect it had, how many were killed, etc., but to deny it outright is completely wrong. To state that ID isn’t based upon religion, is completely wrong. To have a debate on the merits of ID vs Evolution as science vs science, is completely wrong. When a previous poster stated that we were in a points game, this is a points game that matters. In the end for society to continue to progress, we need well educated scientists. To undermine their early education with confusion not only does them harm, but in the long run the entire world.

      James said:
      September 29, 2011 at 10:28 am

      Some good points, thank you

      vladski said:
      September 29, 2011 at 11:33 am

      Reply to Post 1.: It is not about one institution defining whether the theory was scientific or not. It is about understanding the history on how the theory evolved and entered into the main stream science. Proponents of Neo-Darwinism normally ignore facts and scientific objections to evolution. Telling the truth and confirming/affirming facts in the early development of a particular theory are essential to understand how it has gotten to its place in science. The surrounding controversies that haunt the hundred-year old Darwinian evolution are things that must be fully grasped and understood by ordinary people. These controversies were never been discussed openly and never been found in evolution textbooks. When was the evolution theory became facts of our origin? when was it made official explanation of the origin or diversity of life? I am sure that few people know that evolution is battling its place in scientific communities as its claims are now being challenge scientifically. There is no evidence for evolution that’s why it is being challenge. Nobody, not one has observed evolution.

      Reply to Objection 2.: The only reason why ID is considered not science because members are identified as believers in God. Other than this, I doubt if they can put forward any arguments based in scientific evidence.

      Reply to Objection 3.: The debate between Evolution and ID should focus not on the religious belief or affiliation of its proponents but on the merit of scientific evidence as to which between these two theories best explain particular phenomenon i.e. the origin of life.

      What we heard from neo-Darwinism proponents about ID is that, it is not science. Ask them why it is not science and you will never argue anything about science but about the belief of the person who considered ID as an explanation. That’s pathetic. If anyone would want to argue, bring on the table your scientific facts and proof showing ID is not science based on their non-adherent to known scientific method or technique.

      While Evolution cannot produce a single evidence for its claims, here the Neo-Darwinism proponents are claiming ID is not science. By logical calculation and mathematical probabilities, evolution has no place in a time constraint universe. And I quote:

      “[W]e are left with very little time between the development of suitable conditions for life on the earth’s surface and the origin of life. Life is not a complex accident that required immense time to convert the vastly improbable into the nearly certain. Instead, life, for all its intricacy, probably arose rapidly about as soon as it could.”
      (Gould, S. J., “An Early Start,” Natural History, February, 1978)

      “…we have now what we believe is strong evidence for life on Earth 3,800 thousand million years [ago]. This brings the theory for the Origin of Life on Earth down to a very narrow range … we are now thinking, in geochemical terms, of instant life…”
      (Ponnamperuma, C. from “Evolution from Space,” 1981)

      Question: Is there any evidence for ID found in nature or in DNA or in the formation of life?

      Francis Crick, the scientist who discovered the structure of DNA, commented:
      “The origin of life appears to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to be satisfied to get it going.” – Horgan, J., “In the Beginning…,” Scientific American, (Feb 1991) 264:116-126).

      “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” – Dawkins, R., The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996).

      Even the heavy proponents of evolution such as Dawkins openly admitted the appearance of ID in Biology. The only difference is that, Dawkins would rather conclude that aliens are responsible for such life formation than to consider a Creator responsible for life. How funny could that be?

        James said:
        September 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm

        “It is not about one institution defining whether the theory was scientific or not. It is about understanding the history on how the theory evolved and entered into the main stream science.”

        Yes, something you have admirably demonstrated that you do not understand.

        “Proponents of Neo-Darwinism normally ignore facts and scientific objections to evolution.”

        No, serious objections are considered and debate entered into, there are still debates around natural selection and how evolution proceeds there is jkust no debate about whether evolution has happened it has – even ID agrees on this. They are simply looking for a supernatural cause which is not scientific.

        These controversies were never been discussed openly and never been found in evolution textbooks.
        Yes they are. e.g. Punctuated equilibrium and phyletic gradualism – I discussed this in the textbook I wrote along with other things.

        “When was the evolution theory became facts of our origin?”

        You are making it about origins and so is ID not me. For me the theory explains the development and diversity of life AFTER it originated, but then I’m accused by ID propoents of trying to evade things. I’m not science openly admits we do not know HOW life originated.

        I’ve no more time now – this is my lunch hour and I have real work to do in schools. Unless you, Vladski, can contribute to the debate sensibly and not just regurgitate creationist arguments that have been refuted time and time again by many, many biologists and others, then please don’t post. You are simply wasting my time and yours.

        A good book to read would be The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by SJ Gould (it will take a long time though) or Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne, both easily available. Read these please then you can take part in an informed debate.

    mar fin said:
    September 29, 2011 at 8:20 am

    So can I conclude the issue with the ID position is not that they are not or cannot use science or the scientific method in their work its just the conclusions they reach are the problem , as there is no supernatural so supernatural cannot be the explanation for the evidence they find.
    Its just like S.E.T.I. if they got a signal from deep space which when deciphered said hello earthlings, could they conclude intelligence was involved , was it natural, supernatural, or some random collection of sound waves which just seems like it has intelligence,so things can have intelligence so long as it is not supernatural intelligence. Is this your position?

    James said:
    September 29, 2011 at 9:09 am

    The natural being part of science and not part of ID is one aspect of my objection, the other is the attempt to shoehorn an untested, unevidenced position that is counter to the scientific consensus into school science is the other.

    Lots of things can use science and the scientific method, but that does not make them science. Hunting ghosts can use science and the scientific method, crop circle science, astrology to name two others. None of these to me Is science. I would not present them in school as science and if pupil br ought them up, as they do, I would point out that there is no scientific basis for these things as they are outside the remit of science.

    ID plays a dirty game, they say let the debate happen, let the children decide. Well what if the children decide that Pi=4 because it is easier than 3.14 (and here is an example of one of those fine tuned constants that ID bangs on about that is not so nice and sweet and ‘just so’). What if we present holocaust and no holocaust and they decide no holocaust? ID says that science should not be about consensus and yet they argue that the children should decide well, is not that teaching by consensus?

    I have no objection to ID research, ID carrying out science, ID funding it’s institutes. There are ID scientists in uk universities (who are not persecuted by the way, even though another daft claim of ID is that they are).

    I urge them to do the research, publish their findings in the peer review journals (and there arelenty of examples of published science that is contentious and which goes against the consensus so their claim of being shut out is wrong). Then, if they persuade the scientific community with the strength of their evidence and argument we will see about whether it can be part of our teaching.

    At present we would have to change the definition of science to allow ID. That being the case, all the other pseudosciences from crop circles to astrology to ghosts, to spoon bending become legitimate science and have a meaningful call for a place on our science curriculum. Schollar is not the place to debate such matters, school provides an education in the accepted, verifiable and reliable science. What is included changes over time as things get rejected and other things accepted. But, ID cannot presume to jump the queue and simply bully their way into the curriculum.

    mar fin said:
    September 29, 2011 at 11:08 am

    if in a class a pupil brought up the topic of crop circles and attempted to use science to back up their idea that aliens caused them would you enter the debate with evidence to refute his claim
    or just say dont be stupid , surely a discussion of the evidence is the best approach in any situation . A well know Chinese scientist made a statement that in his country you could question Darwin but not the government but found it strange that in America you can question the government but not Darwin.If not on the curriculum at least to some extent question`s can be raised
    and evidence can be debated on any subject or maybe evolution is an absolute fact and no more need`s to be said.

      James said:
      September 29, 2011 at 12:06 pm

      A teacher must never call a child stupid. No matter what is brought up, the job of a teacher is not to ridicule a child. If a child brought up crop circle science I would explain the process of science and How Science Works and how scientists get their ideas accepted – in the case of crop circle science there is no body of reliable and robust evidence that, to date, merits an explanation that we should accept that aliens visit and create them. As such it is an idea that may be investigated by using scientific methods, but not one that is evidenced enough to be accepted as a scientific theory or position.

      Teaching children the process of science, how science works, the nature of science is the answer . That way they can distinguish between what is science and what is not, what may be science should enough evidence come along and what is unlikely to be science as the evidence base is just far too weak.

      Evolution has a large body of evidence gathered over 150 years or more that has resulted in an explanation for the development and diversity of life. That is what we call the theory of evolution, like most scientific theories it is incomplete and is open to revision, even refutation (but to date, despite many attempts, it has not been refuted). Using the same process of How Science Works and how scientists get their ideas accepted it is taught as the best explanation at this point in time.

      There are controversies in science and things we do not know (as there are in all branches of science) but the place to debate and settle these controversies is not the secondary or primary school it is through the process of science. It is through the process that scientists use to get their ideas accepted. One idea about how complexity may arise in animals is the notion of facilitated variation propsed quite recently. That is science but it is controversial and debated science and I would not advocate teaching that in secondary school to pupils and say ‘you decide’ the arguments are far to complex and sophisticated. I’m not just ‘agianst’ ID, I am also aware of controversial science, real science, that I feel is not ready yet for acceptance into our curriculum.

    vladski said:
    September 29, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    James said: “Evolution has a large body of evidence gathered over 150 years or more that has resulted in an explanation for the development and diversity of life. That is what we call the theory of evolution, like most scientific theories it is incomplete and is open to revision, even refutation (but to date, despite many attempts, it has not been refuted). Using the same process of How Science Works and how scientists get their ideas accepted it is taught as the best explanation at this point in time.”

    James, what are these large evidence that you were talking about? For the past 150 years, did you or did anybody has observed evolution? Can you please demonstrate to your reader a piece of this large body of evidence you are referring to?

    Thanks.

      Adam said:
      September 29, 2011 at 10:12 pm

      One of many examples happened just recently. Paleontologists had fossils that showed a fish with partial amphibian traits, and then an amphibian with partial fish traits. These traits involve skull morphology, limb structure, bone structure, etc. So, simply put, the paleontologists knew the age of the two separate fossils, and made a hypothesis. If they found a rock strata, rock carrying fossils, of an age between the two fossils, we may be able to find a fossil that is an intermediary between the fish with amphibian traits and the amphibian with fish traits. Sure enough at a fossil location in Canada they found one, the Tiktaalik, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiktaalik. There is the evidence, one of many. They observed the fossils, made a prediction of what type of fossil they would find, in what age of rocks, went there, and then they found it.
      Define a question: Can we find an intermediary fossil between the Fish and Tetrapods.
      Gather information and resources (observe): Figure out how old the fish fossils are that are similar to the Tetrapods, Review literature about fossils and evolution. Seek places in the geologic record that are inbetween the fish and the tetrapod.
      Form an explanatory hypothesis: If we go to the location we have specified, and we find the Fishapod, this is evidence for an intermediary fossil between the fish and Tetrapod.
      Test the hypothesis by performing an experiment and collecting data in a reproducible manner: You could go to the fossil site and get a permit, and dig up more fossils.
      Analyze the data
      Interpret the data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis

      I would say this is proof for evolution. The scientists made a prediction based upon previous science, they went out to test this prediction, they proved their prediction. Rinse and Repeat. Or the Lenski experiment, which showed E.Coli doing something no one thought they would. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment. The morphologic changes in horse fossils, whale fossils, the co-evolution of the Icthyosaur and the Dolphin, complexity in avian and mammalian species over time. Essentially you would have to ignore over 200 years worth of biological, geological, botanical, paleontological, astronomical, chemical, physical, evidence.

        Stephen Norley said:
        September 30, 2011 at 7:45 am

        You have listed a number of fine examples supporting evolution. I would like to add the overwhelming support of genetics. The more genomes we sequence, the more precise the ‘tree of life’ becomes. I still find it astonishing that the pre-DNA (in the sense of human knowledge) taxonomists did such a good job with the tools available to them: there is an almost 1:1 correlation with the DNA evidence. Particularly telling, as it abrogates the “God made similar organisms to have similar DNA” argument, is the precise location of ancient endogenous retrovirus sequences in the genome. We can accurately trace the ancestry of ourselves and other apes by simply looking at the ERV sequences. Similarly, the pattern of broken genes such as that coding for vitamin C ‘only makes sense in the light of evolution’.
        The other phenomenon that makes evolution so obvious is biogeography. It helped Darwin form his ‘Dangerous Idea’ and one only has to look at Australia to see that either
        evolution happened or that God is a trickster.
        In the end, it is the converging lines of evidence from many disciplines that makes evolution a fact. As you mentioned, we would have to ignore evidence from a wide spectrum of scientific areas to reject evolution. Indeed, for many we would have to refute the entire disciplines themselves.

        vladski said:
        October 1, 2011 at 11:18 am

        Tiktaalik????

        Clearly, you people are misleading the readers.

        Why are you not reporting that a full-tetrapod that were made about 20 million years before Tiktaalik was discovered in the Zachelmie mountains of Poland, in rocks dated twenty million years earlier than the Canadian find? http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2010-01-07-tracks07_ST_N.htm

        What this discovery means to the claims by evolutionists with regards to the claim that Tiktaalik is a transitional link between fish and tetrapods? Quoted herein is an excerpt from an article in Nature, explaining how the Neo-Darwinism “specific predictions” of Shubbin appeared wrong.

        “The fish–tetrapod transition was thus seemingly quite well documented. There was a consensus that the divergence between some elpistostegalians (such as Tiktaalik or Panderichthys) and tetrapods might have occurred during the Givetian, 391–385 Myr ago. Coeval with the earliest fossil tetrapods, trackways dating to the Late Devonian were evidence for their ability to walk or crawl on shores.

        Now, however, Niedźwiedzki et al. lob a grenade into that picture. They report the stunning discovery of tetrapod trackways with distinct digit imprints from Zachemie, Poland, that are unambiguously dated to the lowermost Eifelian (397 Myr ago). This site (an old quarry) has yielded a dozen trackways made by several individuals that ranged from about 0.5 to 2.5 metres in total length, and numerous isolated footprints found on fragments of scree. The tracks predate the oldest tetrapod skeletal remains by 18 Myr and, more surprisingly, the earliest elpistostegalian fishes by about 10 Myr.” – Source: “Muddy tetrapod origins,” Nature Vol. 463:40-41 (January 7, 2010).

        Tiktaalik roseae was not a transitional form these Neo-Darwinism used to believe.

        And ohhh.. did they mention that most of Darwin’s original theory on evolution were wrong and were continuously revised over time depending on what favors their belief. Pathetic.

        James said:
        October 2, 2011 at 1:08 pm

        I think the double standard rests with the creationists who are happy to use science’s radiometiric dating and trace fossils to try and say that evokution is ‘worng’ yet refuse to accept radiometiric dating and fossil evidence when science shows that evolution is correct. Surely if creationists were being consistent they would criticise this discovery of muddy tracks as follows:
        ” this find of the muddy footprints is very unreliable and probably flawed because radiometric dating is flawed and they can’t possibly date it like that or so acurrately, anyway we all know that the earth is only 10,000 years or so old, so the tracks could, given how unreliable radiometric dating is, be younger than Tiktaalik and also, these tracks are just traces and they are easily worn away and altered after being laid that they could be tracks from just about anything not a tetrapod” How strange that this argument wasn’t used. That would be the repsonse if these tracks were postulated as tetrapod and evidence of the emergence of land based animals from fish if Tiktaalik was not around. That’s double standards my friends. Either you think that the science of dating etc. is robust and correct or not creationists can’t pick and choose to agree with it or reject it according to what suits their purpose.

    Stephen Norley said:
    September 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Well, that last comment by vladski reveals his/her overwhelming ignorance of the topic under discussion. Any further discussion is futile until he/she does a great deal of reading.

    vladski said:
    September 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    James said: “The point is that the reason for Darwin not being elected to one section is – according to others (Conry, Moore, Burkhardt to name three prominent academics) not just me – wrapped up in scientific, ideological, institutional, and political factors. You cannot just ignore the rest and fixate on ‘scientific or not’ just to suit your view and then make sweeping statements that are unsupported by the facts as you did in the original posts!”

    If you have substantiated your claims and have referenced it with facts and notation, I would definitely have look into your claims. But alas! you are making a statement as if this are law that cannot be questioned and expects everybody to just acknowledge it as fact. That will not happen. Sorry to disappoint you.

    Now, explain to your readers what, how and why Darwin was not elected to Zoological section of the French Institute Conry, Moore, Burkhardt to name three prominent academics (not just James) – wrapped up in scientific, ideological, institutional, and political factors. In this way, we can talk sensibly and avoid making blanket statement like you used to hurl at me when in fact it clearly shows that your statements lack credibility for not having verifiable sources. Now, would you?

    James said:
    September 29, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Come off it, even ID proponents have learned not to challenge the evidence for evolution and common descent, they know that the evidence is just too secure to mount a direct challenge even their ardent biblical creationists avoid such arguments and keep their evangelical roots very quiet.

    Yes evolution has been observed in the lab and in the wild – new species have appeared. In human history we can see evidence for evolution with the evolution of lactose tolerance, mechanisms for some people who have adapted to living at high altitude, we have the switching off of our gene for making vitamin C – the same gene switched off in chimps and other primates (which is why we and they need fruit in our dirt and cats and dogs do not!) and then you just need to visit ANY major natural history museum to see the masses of transitional fossils and forms and the lineages of plants and animals that have evolved from their primitive ancestors.

    What’s the betting that you now go down the ‘macro’/’micro’ evolution line and pose a question that you know is silly and cannot be answered e.g. ‘show me an instance where a fish evolved into a rabbit’ (I’ve had that from a creationist). No I can’t, never could, never will because that’s not how evolution works! Evolution acts on populations over time and NOT individuals. We are all transitional forms you, me, every living thing.

    It is clear from this that you are now shifting towards biblical creationism in which case the excgange is at an end. No amount of evidence will ever satisfy you – you are exhibiting what is known as Moore’s paradox in philosophy terms, that is denying the fact of something even when that fact is staring you in the face.

    James said:
    September 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Again you have not read what I said – I gave you the full book reference for Conry about the introduction of Darwinism into France. I told you to read it if you are interested.

    From Memory the reference to Moore is Jim Moore writing in The British Journal for the History of Science in the 1970s. Burkhardt was also a journal article in the 1970s. Search Google Scholar and I’m sure you will find some and search google books perhaps Conry’s book is available there.

    This is a blog and comments not an academic forum. I am not going to teach you the history and philosophy of science – though join my PGCE science (provided you have the qualifications, experience, apptitude and potential) and I will happily teach you some HPS.

      vladski said:
      September 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      If you can’t discuss what you promote, just say so and don’t point me to a link to prove your point…that’s pathetic James, considering that you are an academe… and you don’t have to teach me with your bias outlook about science. Just present the whole truth. Half-truth is more dangerous than a lie. Good luck to your blog. Keep it up. Nothing personal here, dude.

      Thank you for hosting this site. It was a pleasant experience.

        James said:
        September 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm

        I think that I have more than met your ‘discuss what you promote’ comment. Look back at all my posts in response to you and you will see that I have engaged, discussed, corrected and provided further avenues for you to explore. The fact that you appear to not understand or accept what I say is not my fault.

        I have not just ‘pointed you to a link’ I have provided a full reference to a very well known published academic account of the issues and problems of the introduction of Darwinism into France. What more do you want – me to reproduce the book page by page here? As an academic I expect my students to look in the academic literature to find their own materials as well as use those I provide and point them towards. Once again you descend to uncivil behaviour calling me ‘pathetic’ when I politely asked to be to civil on this blog. It is your opinion that I have a bias – you are welcome to your opinion, but that is all it is, opinion. Perhaps you do not have the social grace to realise it, but calling people ‘pathetic’ is being personal.

        I’m glad you had a pleasant experience and I sincerely hope that you learned something.

        Goodbye Vladski

    mar fin said:
    September 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    what scientific evidence would you present to school children on how life came about in the first place.

      vladski said:
      September 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      James will only point you to a link or recommend a book to read. That’s how it works for him.

      I doubt if he can discuss with his own words what he promote in his blog.

        James said:
        September 29, 2011 at 6:10 pm

        No, when I do discuss you refuse to read it and understand what I am saying, like a good teacher I am directing you to other information. I suspect that your definition of a good discussion is when I acquiesce and agree with you – that’s not a debate or a discussion. I have refuted a number of your assertions and evidenced my assertions and tried to point out where you are going wrong. If you refuse to learn, I can’t make you.

        In truth when I do talk about what I think is correct you accuse me of not backing this up with anything, wheN I point your to published articles and books you say that I refuse to discuss – basically what ever I do you just accuse me of something opposite. You deliberately place anything that counters your ideas as invalid. Everyone whop engages with you is in a ‘no-win’ situation so there is no real discussion – not once have you even recognised your failures and faults in your posts even when they are pointed out to you. You just move to another point. In other words you do not learn from your mistakes.

      James said:
      September 29, 2011 at 6:05 pm

      Depends on the age and the ability level, but most of my information would be taken from the following publication:

      Ashwini Kumar Lal (2008) Origin of Life Astrophys Space Sci 317: 267–278 DOI: 10.1007/s10509-008-9876-6

      This paper summarises the state of play in 2008, so it covers things like astrobiology, panspermia, thermophiles and extremeophiles, the RNA world hypothesis as well as some more historical ideas (not strong contenders now) such as the Miller Urey experiment.

      I would come back to How Science Works though – each of these ideas has merit, some may provide stronger hypotheses than others none are ad well evidenced so as to form a formal theory of life’s origins and some are controversial. All reside in the natural world/universe but ultimately, science does not have the answer to life’s origins – that said science does not give up and invoke a supernatural cause and then decide to forget about life’s origins – we still work towards tryting to solve the puzzle. There is also some interesting work being done by Jack Szostak who has a 10 minute video on You Tuble about a plausible hypothesis for the origin of life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg

        Adam said:
        September 29, 2011 at 10:19 pm

        There also isn’t anything wrong with saying we don’t know. A grade school or high school teacher should not be afraid to say this. If the student says did god do it, they can simply redirect as James stated in referring to what science is and what faith is. In fact that could be a good discussion. Should they take a hard-line approach like Dawkins? No. But they should say that there are many people who are exploring the question and investigating this using the scientific method.

    C4ID comes out fighting | Wonderful Life said:
    September 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    […] what sounds like an exhausting series of interviews alongside Alastair Noble for BBC local radio (Intelligent Design Creationism is not Science ).  I strongly recommend this account of the interview and Noble’s failure to grasp the […]

    James said:
    September 30, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Some excellent replies. As you say, so much evidence that it is sometimes difficult to know where to start!

    Reminds me of a conversation I had with a creationist who demanded ‘one, just ONE, piece of evidence’ and I admitted defeat, I couldn’t provide one, just one piece as there were hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pieces of evidence all of which inter-relate beautifully. To provide just one piece, I said, would be like saying God exists and the whole message of the Bible was proven by the first word of Genesis, ‘In’. That really confused him.

    mar fin said:
    September 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    You see this is when opinion becomes science and science becomes fact I have looked at most if not all of the current theories,ideas,musing on the origins of life and the truth is no one has the foggiest idea how life began, but that is not what we get in text books . If anyone was the least bit honest they would admit that as of today we do not have a clue how non living chemicals can become a living cell, now if you pay people to speculate you will get volume`s on if, maybe, possibly, perhaps.By the way you did not give any evidence to how life began , are you being a man of faith and believing that some other scientist must have the answers.

      Stephen Norley said:
      September 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm

      While it is true that no one knows precisely how life began, and we may never know for sure, there are a number of hypothesis that are at least feasible. My personal favourite is based on the fact that RNA can both contain information and act as an enzyme. This opens the door to the spontaneous formation of self-replicating molecules as a first step. Indeed, the constant cycles of heating and cooling in the mineral-rich environment of a ‘black smoker’ are very reminiscent of the modern PCR machines used for amplifiying DNA, for example. Whether or not one would consider a self-replicating RNA molecule to be living or not is just a question of human definition. Of course, these are all musings, as you suggest, but we do not need to show how life started, just how life may have started. Labs are getting closer every year to generating a self-replicating molecule. Artificial? Of course, but on the newly formed Earth where polynucleotides were certainly being formed spontaneously by natural processes, it only needed one event in millions of years to get the ball rolling,

    mar fin said:
    September 30, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    you see there you go again, how do you know polynucleotides were certainly being formed on the newly formed earth , please state the evidence not the speculation seeing that it was certain.
    And intelligent design is not a defence you can make, so men in labs is not relevant , you need to show how it can happen in nature un directed not designed by intelligent scientist.

      Stephen Norley said:
      September 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm

      I agree that ‘certainly’ was the wrong phrase to use. ‘Almost certainly’ would have been more appropriate and for that I apologise and berate myself for the slip. The ‘almost certainly’ is based on the fact that under some of the conditions thought to exist early in Earth’s history (based on various lines of evidence), when reproduced in the lab, polynucleotides are observed to form spontaneously (e.g with the help of a clay substrate). There are certainly problems with this and other hypotheses, and none of them may be correct, but the fact that there are numerous possible scenarios and no known reasons to think that abiogenesis is impossible makes it an interesting field of investigation and, yes, speculation.
      I do disagree, however, that ‘men in labs’ are not relevant. If it can be demonstrated that, under the conditions that to the best of our knowledge, self-replicating molecules could indeed form, the only objection would be the high improbability that a molecule would, by chance have the correct sequence. However, with millions of simultaneous ‘attempts’ occurring on a global scale for tens or hundreds of millions of years, even the highly improbable becomes likely. Like I said, it only had to happen once in all that time.

        Stephen Norley said:
        September 30, 2011 at 3:10 pm

        Oops! I meant to write “If it can be demonstrated that, under the conditions that to the best of our knowledge existed at the time…”

    mar fin said:
    September 30, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I am currently working on a theory that in the past cake`s actually evolved from simpler non cake like substances, i have produced in my lab a batch of scones and a nice eccles cake , surely
    this show`s how in nature cakes can come about by random forces and that cake`s
    came about for simpler forms , biscuits, scones, oxford lunch up to the fittest the black forest gateau.Although if cake`s cannot make themselves I am begining to have my doubt`s that life can.

    mar fin said:
    September 30, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    take a look online from scientist who are neither creationist or have a vested interest ( financial or
    career based) in this type of work , and you will find that they say this whole idea of abiogenesis is
    totally with support ,and we are as far away as ever from discovering how life arose. But if someone wanted to pay me 100k a year to speculate on how life began i could come up ,with some pretty good ideas on how it happened naturally and would be more than willing to say that we are just on the verge of the latest greatest discovery of how life , blah, blah.

    mar fin said:
    September 30, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    sorry should be without support , (not a Freudian slip)

    Stephen Norley said:
    September 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    It would indeed be wrong for a scientist to claim that we are close to knowing how life got started on Earth – that would be a stretch to say the least – though I would not be overly surprised to hear that some already have. I would, however, first check to make sure that the scientist had not said “We are on the verge of demonstrating how life might have got started…” and had this morphed by the journalist or even press department at the scientist’s own university or institute. This sort of thing happens all the time

    The actual origin of life on Earth may be a question that we fundamentally cannot answer, similar to “What did Cleopatra’s favourite maid have for breakfast on her 18th birthday?”. However, we can narrow down the possibilities and try to figure out what may have occurred. Such studies can help us understand biology at the most basic level and might prove useful for estimating the probabilities of life on other planets/moons etc.

    I also doubt that any competent scientist (in a relevant field) would say that “this whole idea of abiogenesis is totally without support”. They may say that the present ideas are without evidential support (fair enough), but most, if not all, will agree that it occurred somehow.

      mar fin said:
      September 30, 2011 at 5:03 pm

      They will all agree it did happen somehow naturally , because the only other alternative is creation by God which is a non starter so is excluded no matter how much or how little evidence might support it. And many scientist have pretty much admitted this to be the case.
      ,

    mar fin said:
    September 30, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks James for pointing me in the direction of Ashwini Kumar Lal I had a brief look at some of his ideas and was pleasantly surprised at his frankness , when he says that that all of the theories
    on the origin of life are fragmentary at best , he is giving a more honest than most appraisal of the situation, certainly more honest that mainstream science lets the general public know, or Richard Dawkins , who makes a very good living from the whole controversy lets on.If scientist were this honest about thing`s they claim to be fact they there would be a lots less friction from the ID side of the discussion

      James said:
      October 1, 2011 at 9:26 am

      Yes it is a good analysis. Teachers do not present origins as a done deal and we are happy to say that we don’t know how life began. We must remember that this debate is often one of extremes. At the one extreme ID at the other Dawkins. Most of us working in the field are in-between. We do not represent rampant atheism or Biblical creationism or ID creationism. Most of us are moderate and are looking for solutions to an education issue not trying to discover the origins of life or how DNA originated.

      Noble et al want children to decide and they can’t. The ID community works hard on it’s public arguments, not on science they want to win the debate through popular means not scientific.

    Stephen Norley said:
    September 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    I cannot speak for other scientists, but I would expect that most would agree that the first replicators (i.e. self-replicating molecules) formed by chance and by natural processes operating at the time. The research is shedding some light on the sort of things that may have occurred and as things progress, evidence will probably accumulate that favours one scenario and rejects another until we reach the stage where we are fairly confident about what actually happened (without ever being absolutely sure).

    It’s a bit like the question of how Stonehenge or the Pyramids were built. Some claim that our ancestors simply could not have done these things and that they must have been the work of aliens or Atlanteans or whatever. Investigators do not agree that humans built them just because the only alternative is aliens, they gather evidence, propose mechanisms and test whether such mechanisms are feasible. We may never know for sure how they were built, but we can at least say how they may have been built.

    mar fin said:
    September 30, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Yes but looking at something as basic as stonehenge or the pyramids I would assume you would have a problem with anyone who proposed a purely natural undirected process could have built them.You look at the solar system and say natural process you look at Stonehenge and say intelligent design, but which is more likely.

      vladski said:
      October 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      That is the problem with these people. They opted to disregard commonsense to cater their favored belief.

      Double standard. And they would go on to claim that they’d follow where the evidence may lead them to. But when the evidence points to the other direction, they will twist facts and make new pathways to lead them to where they want to go and not to where the evidence would take them.

    Steve Norley said:
    October 1, 2011 at 11:15 am

    I think you missed the point of my analogy. I was referring to the process of trying to understand more completely events for which we have no clear, definitive evidence. Whether or not the subject of the investigation was man-made is irrelevant in this case. Let me give another analogy that might be more palatible. We may never know precisely how the tortoises and iguanas travelled from the South American mainland to the newly formed Galapagos islands. However, we can observe, test and speculate that it was possible, likely even, that they were taken over on natural rafts of vegetation. This explanation might be wrong (it may have been visiting aliens who took them in their flying saucers) but the vegetation-raft hypothesis is more parsimonious and acceptable, even if it will forever remain unproven. If we coild prove that such animals can survive for no longer than 2 days under these conditions, for example, then we would be forced to reject the hypothesis and look for new possibilities. However, we would want to be pretty sure that all feasible natural explanations had been considered and eliminated before accepting the alien UFO option as being the most likely.

    vladski said:
    October 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Tiktaalik????

    Clearly, you people are misleading the readers.

    Why are you not reporting that a full-tetrapod that were made about 20 million years before Tiktaalik was discovered in the Zachelmie mountains of Poland, in rocks dated twenty million years earlier than the Canadian find? http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2010-01-07-tracks07_ST_N.htm

    What this discovery means to the claims by evolutionists with regards to the claim that Tiktaalik is a transitional link between fish and tetrapods? Quoted herein is an excerpt from an article in Nature, explaining how the Neo-Darwinism “specific predictions” of Shubbin appeared wrong.

    “The fish–tetrapod transition was thus seemingly quite well documented. There was a consensus that the divergence between some elpistostegalians (such as Tiktaalik or Panderichthys) and tetrapods might have occurred during the Givetian, 391–385 Myr ago. Coeval with the earliest fossil tetrapods, trackways dating to the Late Devonian were evidence for their ability to walk or crawl on shores.

    Now, however, Niedźwiedzki et al. lob a grenade into that picture. They report the stunning discovery of tetrapod trackways with distinct digit imprints from Zachemie, Poland, that are unambiguously dated to the lowermost Eifelian (397 Myr ago). This site (an old quarry) has yielded a dozen trackways made by several individuals that ranged from about 0.5 to 2.5 metres in total length, and numerous isolated footprints found on fragments of scree. The tracks predate the oldest tetrapod skeletal remains by 18 Myr and, more surprisingly, the earliest elpistostegalian fishes by about 10 Myr.”

    – Source: “Muddy tetrapod origins,” Nature Vol. 463:40-41 (January 7, 2010).

    Tiktaalik roseae was not a transitional form these Neo-Darwinism used to believe. Funny is that Dawkins, in his book The Greatest show on earth described Tiktaalik as “the perfect missing link—perfect, because it almost exactly splits the difference between fish and amphibian, and perfect because it is missing no longer.” The discovery of early full-tetrapod millions of years before Tiktaalik made him and the rest of the gang at lost in what they have said. And then the need to seriously take a second look on the claims about Tiktaalik is inevitable. Evolution failed anew.

    And ohhh.. did they mention that most of Darwin’s original theory on evolution were wrong and were continuously revised over time depending on what favors their belief. Pathetic.

      James said:
      October 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      OK, evolution is not linear so there is no ‘rule’ that things must appear in a set order at a set time. Take the evolution ofn the horse, the linear model that is nice and neat and shows an ordered transition from the earliest, hyracotherium and leading to the modern horse is not a reflection of reality, it is a model. This is often where creationists get it wrong – they criticise the model as if it was reality and say ‘yes, but these two fossils are from the same time yet one is evolutionary inferior to the other’. Yes that can happen in reality. Remember that a lobed fish still exists now, the coelacanth.

      In the real world the existense of a tetrapod before tiktaalik does not invalidate the fossil itself, there are cases where there is an overlap between one form and another. Yes this fossil pushes back the emergence of the tetrapods, but does not show that they did not emerge. Theey clearly did, just earlier than we thought.

      In case it had escaped your notice Vladky, all scientific theories are subject to revision and over time they are modified and refined as new evidence comes to light. Scientists have not used Darwin and Wallace’s theory as written, intact and without modification for over 100 years. And it is not ‘factors that favour their belief’ it is ‘evidence that contradicts one or other aspects of the original theory’ that results in change.

      I also find it amazing that creationists rely on the scientific papers and journals and take relish in citing these tracks as a complete refutation of Tiktaalik when at other times, the scientist who provides trackways or other trace fossils is told how bad he or she is for relying on traces when the trace is not directly linked to the animal that made it! It seems that when it suits the creationist trace fossils are very unreliable, very poor evidence and not to be trusted. If it suits their belief then it is highly reliable, highly relevant and definitive proof that evolution ‘has it wrong’. If you read the original news report (as you must have since you cited the source), it also states that:

      The implication is that both groups have a very long ‘ghost range’ — that is, a period of time during which members of the groups should have been present but for which no body fossils have yet been found.
      Trace fossils — footprints, trackways or trails — are fascinating but often frustrating sources of information. Body fossils of the track makers almost never occur in the same rock beds, so complicating interpretation. Moreover, tracks are often blurred because they were made on a muddy substrate, or are deformed by artefacts such as gas bubbles or traces left by floating objects.

      – Source: “Muddy tetrapod origins,” Nature Vol. 463:40-41 (January 7, 2010).

      It is also worthwhile reading the full research article in the same issue of Nature – the source above is actually a news article.

      In this the authors clearly state that the trackways should be considered as grounds for further research into the origins of tetrapods in different environments and at an earlier point, not that we should abandon the idea of tetrapod evolution from fish!

      I would agree that sometimes some scientists are too quick to be definitive about certain finds, but this is also partly the fault of the media who hype things up.

      The scientific fact that fish and land based tetrapods are related and that evolution from one form to another took place and that Tiktaalik is a good transitional form is not challenged by the muddy footprints, what is challenged is our understanding of WHEN these things took place, not that that didn’t take place at all.

      What this does also show is that the supposed conspiracy between scientists over evolution is nothing of the sort. It shows that evolution is still undergoing rigorous tests of its central ideas and that science is working properly – so much so that when contrary evidence is found it is not hidden or suppressed, it is debated with openness and when necessary and the challenge is sufficient it is the theory that changes – in this case the theory about when such a change took place.

      Contrast this to creation where the central ideology cannot change, where the Bible cannot be altered or interpreted by the evangelicals and where its proponents are forced to sign statements of faith. That is not open to change or challenge.

        vladski said:
        October 2, 2011 at 8:58 pm

        James, the reason why atheistic evolution is revised over time simply because it is not a testable theory that’s why it needs revision and updates on its principles and explanations when new evidence/discovery is found.

        I am not saying that Tiktaalik is fake (yet). Shubin, the paleontologist who discovered Tiktaalik even published a book Your Inner Fish, promoting it as “a fish with a wrist.” Tiktaalik became an instant celebrity as it was featured as the ceterpiece missing link in PBS Documentary in 2007 and in National Academy of sciences in 2008. Even the New York Times magazine featured an article of this famous found.

        But no matter how these people promote what they thought as a missing link, the fact remains that Tiktaalik has only fishlike fins and not wrist. Greatest show on earth huh!

        James said: “In the real world the existense of a tetrapod before tiktaalik does not invalidate the fossil itself, there are cases where there is an overlap between one form and another. Yes this fossil pushes back the emergence of the tetrapods, but does not show that they did not emerge. Theey clearly did, just earlier than we thought.”

        Now, this part that you have written is crucial to your understanding about the point I was making about the discovery made by Shubin and the one that was found in Zachelmie mountains of Poland. Pay attention as this is where Evolution are good at in trying make their claims valid or at least plausible. Have you not noticed that, each time materialists/evoluionists/neo-darwinism proponents make claims or announcements that a particular found/discovery/experiment or theory supports their beliefs on the truthfulness of evolution, only to be lambasted by a new discovery invalidating their claims they once considered as facts.

        Example: In 1917, Albert Einstein inserted in his field equation a fudge-factor to balance the attractive force of gravity. Why is that?

        EINSTEIN’S GREATEST MISTAKE
        Gμv – λg = – κ (Tμv – 1/2gμvT)

        THE COSMOLOGICAL CONSTANT: LAMBDA In 1917 Einstein published an equation that described an expanding universe. But he inserted a fudge factor called lambda (in yellow) to allow the equation to describe a static universe. In 1929 Edwin Hubble found that the universe is, in fact, expanding.

        Einstein added the “cosmological constant” to suit his favored cosmology model, a static Universe turns out to be the biggest blunder of his life.

        Now, big bang theory is the widely accepted theory for the beginning of the Universe, But this theory suggests that the Universe has a beginning and so materialists/atheists thought of another way on how to get around this mess and introduced an idea that there must be some other Universes out there and that out of these infinite number of universes ours has the right combination of elements and fine tuning that supports life.

        “Some scientists suggest, in an effort to avoid a theistic or teleological implication in their findings, that there must be an infinite number of universes, representing all possible combinations of basic forces and conditions, and that our universe is one of an infinitely small fraction, in this great plenitude of universes, in which life exists.” — Robert Jastrow quoted by Roy Varghese, The Intellectuals Speak About God, (Regenery Gateway), 1984.

        Now, what does this mean to James defense on the existence of an earlier dated tetrapod?

        Well, he might not have figured this one out yet. Like Albert Einstein, James will continue to find ways and look for an explanation that suits his favored belief system despite what the evidence suggests. Like evolution, James is push back in time with this new discoveries, to infinite regress hoping that one day another discovery will support his favored belief.

        You are right, James. The existence of tetrapod millions of years earlier than tiktaalik only pushes back the emergence of tetrapod. What does this mean to you, to Shubin, to Dawkins and to the rest of the sesame street fanboys?

        Actually, what James wanted to say is that, Evidence pushes back evolution to infinite regress. Yes, that what’s happening to atheism, to atheistic evolution, Neo-Dawinism. These beliefs are in infinite regress. The last hundred years are fruitful years for science since great discoveries and evidence were found but sadly not one of these supports atheistic evolution. In fact, the new evidence found pushes back evolution to the edge of time.

        James said:
        October 2, 2011 at 10:13 pm

        Evolution is neither atheistic or theistic – people are. Many people, from the Archbishop of Canterbury to renowned scientists, are religious and believe in God yet accept the scientific fact of evolution.

        I am not saying that Tiktaalik is fake (yet).

        Good, because even the most avowed creationists don’t claim that it is a fake (they try with many other fossils and some (from China) are, but the majority are not. At least the occurrance of fakes in palaeontology is nothing compared to the fakes that abound in the churches and the religious artfacts market (e.g. the Jesus ossuary to name one high profle one).

        With respect to the lobe of tiktaalik and its function as a primitive weight supporting limb (necessary for the transition to walking on land) the conclusion, after a very detailed analysis of the structure of the lobe, is as follows:

        The interpretation that the fins of Tiktaalik were used in supporting the body on a substrate is corroborated by the architecture of the axial skeleton. Expansion and imbrication of the ribs is a feature previously unknown in fish but seen in some early tetrapods such as Ichthyostega. The mechanical reinforcement of the spine engendered by costal overlap, together with a robust and mobile fin, suggest that both the axial and appendicular systems were playing a role in supporting the weight of the animal. With a dorsoventrally compressed head and body, raised and dorsally placed eyes, and a mobile head that is independent of the shoulder girdle, Tiktaalik possesses a range of features consistent with locomotion on the water bottom, along the water margins, and on subaerial surfaces—an interpretation that is in accord with the shallow meandering stream deposits from which Tiktaalik was recovered.

        and

        The pectoral skeleton of Tiktaalik is transitional between fish fin and tetrapod limb. Comparison of the fin with those of related fish reveals that the manus is not a de novo novelty of tetrapods; rather, it was assembled in fishes over evolutionary time to meet the diverse challenges of life in the margins of Devonian aquatic ecosystems.

        Neil H. Shubin, Edward B. Daeschler and Farish A. Jenkins, Jr Nature The pectoral fin of Tiktaalik roseae and the origin of the tetrapod limb Nature 440, 764-771 (6 April 2006) | doi:10.1038

        So you go on to say…

        Have you not noticed that, each time materialists/evoluionists/neo-darwinism proponents make claims or announcements that a particular found/discovery/experiment or theory supports their beliefs on the truthfulness of evolution, only to be lambasted by a new discovery invalidating their claims they once considered as facts.

        Again I stress, this normal science (read Kuhn) ALL theories in science will have, at some point, evidence that contradicts the current understanding and that’s why science must then seek to revise its understanding.

        Your idea that the discovery of the new footprints ‘lambasts’ the claims made for tiktaalik are laughable. The only thing it says is that some tetrapods may have evolved at an earlier point in life’s history. It does not contradict any of the claims made for tiktaalik and ghost lineages are well known to palaeontologists and the idea that there are co-existing forms or that the transition from water to land may have happened in more than one animal group is entirely consistent with evolution theory. You have a very strange, may I say wierd way of looking at what is uite straightforward things and then making some very odd claims.

        As it happens I do not think of evolution as a belief system. You keep saying this yet you do not know what my belief system actually is. I am an agnostic, so I do not reject God out of hand, but neither do I accept God in the way that an evangelical Christian may. So you are completely wrong. I am not looking to support my beliefs – if I was I would be like you surely!

        Belief has nothing to do with science and evolution. I don’t ‘believe’ in evolution, I accept it due to the weight of evidence in its favour. I believe that there may be a God (and yes Dawkins told me that I was mad to even consider such a position), but for me God is not as described in the Bible and did not visit earth or talk to people or command Noah or floods or anything like that. To me God could be that force that is unknown and may never be known to science that was the initial beginning – but that force to me was not an intelligent mind and it did not ‘design’ the universe or life or anything – it merely set in motion the natural universe and from that point science can ultimately explain things. It may not happen in your lifetime Vlad or mine, but when I get to hell (as you lot keep telling me I will do when I die, do pop in and gloat – I owe you that at least).

        For now why not accept the glory of evolution and its wonderful ability to produce the rich diversity of life that has been, is and will come to pass. Much more glorious than any biblical description I think. Makes the Garden of Eden look very tame and Adam quite ignorant of all the various animals he could have named (but didn’t bother). How could he have missed pterodactyls, large theropods and huge herbiverous dinosaurs yet he bothered with all the mundane beasts – could never figure that one myself.

        Hope you listened to Songs of Praise tonight Vlad, it was cracking – didn’t see my mother in the audience, but listened to wonderful hymns and remembered my early Church days and reminded myself that the vast majority of religious people are not silly creationists with nutty ideas. They accept evolution as does the the scientific community. It is good to remember that the evangelicals and ID crowd are only a very very small minority with a big voice.

    Steve Norley said:
    October 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Oh boy, you are sooooo going to get quotemined on this:

    “…and that Tiktaalik is a god transitional form…”

      James said:
      October 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      Yes! I’d better correct that, it’s a good transitional form!

      Poor Vlad, probably thinks he’s won me over and I’m on his side now!

        vladski said:
        October 2, 2011 at 6:48 pm

        That’s pathetic, James & Steve if your favored beliefs stir your appetite to use typo errors and unintentional mistakes in sentences as the departing point of your argument. Pity.

    James said:
    October 2, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Humble apologies for having a sense of humour over unintentional mistakes.

    I can see that like a child who deliberately does what he has been asked not to do, you persist with your uncivil language.

      vladski said:
      October 3, 2011 at 6:18 am

      You’re such a baby, James. You are crying for my language when in fact I didn’t call anyone “pathetic”, except to described what I think about what the person had said and not about the person itself. On the other hand, your Ad Hominem floats around this blog accusing me of not understanding a thing you said just because I disagree with you. That’s pathetic, James.

      Now, read very carefully. I said your tactic is pathetic, not you. Please, don’t be a cry baby.

    James said:
    October 3, 2011 at 8:20 am

    OK, so you have decided to change insult, but remain uncivil. You are accused of not understanding not because I disagree with you but because you show a lack of understanding. For example, you say evolution cannot be tested then try to argue that evolution regularly fails tests and so is a theory that is wrong, so how does this work? If it cannot be tested how does it fail the tests? This is a good example of your lack of understanding. To put it in such language is not uncivil, but a reflection of reality. If I was going to be uncivil there are many things I could have called you, but I don’t as such language is not helpful to you. Whether you call me, other posters or ideas pathetic is irrelevant, such a term is not at all helpful in a civilised debate. I often find that these sorts of arguments descend to such levels when one side loses it’s patience and begins to realise that it’s own argument is weak – hence Dr Noble calling me an intellectual fascist. As you are now descending to an even lower level of insult directed at me, I’m sure you can work out what I think of the quality of your argument.

      vladski said:
      October 3, 2011 at 8:55 pm

      I’m sorry for the confusion, James (not a native language speaker). When I said “it is not a testable theory” I meant to say “it does not yield correct result when tested” that’s why it needs revision over time. When I say “it needs revision over time” I meant since its inception. And that is a proven fact. Actually, the only proven fact about evolution theory.

      With regards to understanding what you said, I may not have replied to everything you put in this blog, but I am sure I am taking them into consideration. They don’t pass unnoticed except for some few personal comments you made about me which I found it “silly” in a sense that you resulted to personal attack when met with frustrations.

      Further, I am not losing my patience, James. Don’t be too emotional about this discussion. I don’t care what other people say about you. I only cared about what you say.

      I am insulting no one. I find some of your arguments “silly” and “pathetic” but that doesn’t mean I am insulting you. If you felt insulted, only because that’s how you feel about yourself. Insults are mere words that we attached to our feelings to describe how we dislike what other people think about ourselves. The feeling of being insulted is a projection on how we feel about ourselves in dealing with the opinion of others especially if the opinion is directed towards the person.

      Insult is not my object.

    mar fin said:
    October 3, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Steve you have hit the nail on the head as the creation of the universe , life etc are once off historical events we can only look at the evidence and take the most reasonable as being the explanation, so I am not convinced by the current scientific explanation that from basically nothing the big bang happened and in that bang hydrogen and small amounts of helium were created, and these two gases left for long enough became people , it does not seem plausible to me. Also scientist say evolution is a fact , and then say every single piece of evidence which supposedly supports this fact is open to review and contradiction , I would hate to be judged on that basis , we cant fully trust the evidence against you but we know you are guilty anyway.

    James said:
    October 3, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Evolution is a scientific fact and scientific fact differs from fact as in truth. The whole of science, even things like gravity, is provisional, that is the nature of science. Children must be better taught what science is and what it means when a scientist says that evolution is a scientific fact. It does not mean unchanging. Many scientific facts have changed over time. For children I also think it is useful to separate evolution from origins. Evolution explains what happened after life began, it does not explain life’s origins. Gravity explains the motion of the planets, it does not explain how the universe began. Theories are specific to certain sets of observations and to decry one theory because it fails to explain something that it was never intended to explain in the first place is not good science.

    mar fin said:
    October 3, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    gravity on earth is a scientific fact in that there is a force of some kind which prevents us all floating away, many theories etc exist as to the exact nature of this force , but this force can by shown by testing and experimentation , and never fails the test , but when the same rigours of testing and experimentation are applied to evolution it fails the test hence it is not a fact.

    James said:
    October 3, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    How can you say that evolution fails tests? We have examples of speciation in the lab and wild, we have pedictions that have been made which are then backed by actual findings in the field, e.g. palaeontology. The mechanism is not yet fully explained, but then as you state neither is gravity fully explained.

    In what sense does it fail tests? Descent with modification, speciation etc. etc. Where I would agree would be on the level of certainty that science places on different theories and some are more certain than others.

    This is why we need to teach children How Science Works and how to interpret what science is really saying about different explanations for natural phenomena.

    If we went down the route of saying OK, evolution theory as currently understood is not correct, is not a scientific fact and it does not explain the natural phenomenon of the development and diversity of life on earth, what theory would you have in its place that explains the facts and does not resort to supernatural causation (remember the definition of science above)? I’m happy to abandon evolution, the Darwinian paradigm, if someone can provide a natural explanation for all the evidence that is better than evolution theory currently is within its Darwinian paradigm, but until then we have to work with the best explanation and to my mind that is evolution by means of natural selection. By all means work on a new paradigm and lets see if we can invoke a paradigm shift towards your new naturalistic theory of diversity and development, but I think you are on a hiding to nothing!

    If you start altering definitions of evolution or go down the misguided track of ‘micro’ versus ‘macro’ or allow for a re-write of the definition of science then anything goes and any pseudoscience, even homeopathy wins and should be accepted by all as verified fact.

    Actually, there would be no such thing as a verified fact and we could even say that Gravity is the result of the invisible force of a supernatural being that keeps things ‘just so’ – the search for the Higgs Boson and why things have mass being just a complete waste of money as the supernatural being waved his or her supernatural arm and designed atoms to have mass and therefore gravity is, when all said and done, a supernatural magic force with a natural effect that we can measure. Just as ghosts are measured by scientific instruments on TV by psychics – their supernatural magic presence is detectable, so we have also proven now that ghosts exist and are part of the science of biology – we just need to catch one so that we can examine it to see what its structure is.

      vladski said:
      October 3, 2011 at 8:23 pm

      Speciation is not evolution, James, if you are referring to peppered moth experiment.

      If you want to prove that this experiment is an example and proof of evolution, please indulge us. Or if you are referring to other lab experiments that show proof for evolution, by all means discuss it on here and enlightened us.

        James said:
        October 3, 2011 at 8:51 pm

        No I don’t mean peppered moths, that is a good example of natural selection but not speciation, we don’t teach it as such ansd it was not taught to me that way over 30 years ago – it is what it is, an example of natural selection in action. I do wish creationists would get over the moth thing they bang on about how it’s taught as speciation and it never has been, as a supporter of evolution Vlad, that must annoy you too.

        We’ve seen speciation in other organisms and speciation is part of evolution, it is necessary if you are going to get the transitions from, for example land animals to whales or fish to amphibians. Check Answers in Genesis and they will give you examples of speciation (then they bang on about micro and macro). I’m working tonight hence the redirect. I’ve spent enough time on here.

    vladski said:
    October 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    It seems that you don’t know my real stand on evolution. Let me clarify one thing about my belief in evolution.

    I am not against evolution but to atheistic evolution. I don’t see an unguided events can stir a lifeless elements/chemicals to perfection and form a functioning super complex system such as life by mere random acts of unintelligent nature. The mathematical impossibility to assemble necessary elements and chemicals to form life is just a tip of an iceberg considering that the Universe needs to be fine-tuned first prior to developing the first life on earth. Yes, fine tuning argument. But let’s just leave this part for now. We are not done yet with Tiktaalik and athiestic evolution.

    “So the sort of lucky event we are looking at could be so wildly improbable that the chances of its happening, somewhere in the universe, could be as low as one in a billion billion billion in any one year. If it did happen on only one planet, anywhere in the universe, that planet has to be our planet-because here we are talking about it” . — Richard Dawkins, Climbing the Mount Improbable (p. 283).

    The materialists would say that these parameters were made possible by mere chance alone, without any intervention of an intelligent agent.

    So, James, what are the odds of life evolving from nonliving chemicals to form the first life on earth? There are numbers of differing figures from creationists to atheists depends whom you pick. Supply your own data and calculate the odds of life evolving from nonliving chemicals through chance. I shall wait. And will talk about evolution.
    _____________________________________________________________

    1. James said:
    “Your idea that the discovery of the new footprints ‘lambasts’ the claims made for tiktaalik are laughable. The only thing it says is that some tetrapods may have evolved at an earlier point in life’s history. It does not contradict any of the claims made for tiktaalik and ghost lineages are well known to palaeontologists and the idea that there are co-existing forms or that the transition from water to land may have happened in more than one animal group is entirely consistent with evolution theory. You have a very strange, may I say wierd way of looking at what is uite straightforward things and then making some very odd claims.”

    It’s sad, James because you surely are still missing the point I was trying to get across with the issue surrounding Tiktaalik.

    Tiktaalik itself is not my primary concern, although I can argue that it’s not a “missing-link” as you and some of the forerunners of evolution claimed, I’d rather argue on the implications of the discovery of Tiktaalik and that of tetrapod trackways from Zachemie, which you did not respond when I said that “evolution is push back to the edge of time whenever new discovery is found.”

    Uhh.. yes, you replied and said that and I quote ” this normal science (read Kuhn) ALL theories in science will have, at some point, evidence that contradicts the current understanding and that’s why science must then seek to revise its understanding.”

    “The best discoveries are those that overturn current thinking, revealing that what we thought, only yesterday, to have been a coherent and complete picture, is in fact a void that no discoveries can yet fill.” — Henry Gee, Editor Nature

    I don’t have a problem revising any theories in light of new evidence for the sake of its development . Perfect example is Einstein’s theory of relativity, he was brave enough to admit his mistake. He knew that he manipulated the equation to support his favored belief (static Universe).

    2. James said:
    “Your idea that the discovery of the new footprints ‘lambasts’ the claims made for tiktaalik are laughable. The only thing it says is that some tetrapods may have evolved at an earlier point in life’s history. It does not contradict any of the claims made for tiktaalik and ghost lineages are well known to palaeontologists and the idea that there are co-existing forms or that the transition from water to land may have happened in more than one animal group is entirely consistent with evolution theory. You have a very strange, may I say wierd way of looking at what is uite straightforward things and then making some very odd claims.”

    Clearly, you failed to understand the implications of the find in the Zachelmie mountains of Poland with regards to the claims made for Tiktaalik by evolutionists.

    Example of failed predictions for Tiktaalik to support evolution:

    a. “The Search for Tiktaalik” From Tiktaalik official website (www.tiktaalik.uchicago.edu)
    [A]ll four groups of lobe-finned fish we looked at first appear in the fossil record around 390-380 million years ago. The first tetrapods appear around 363 million years ago. Common sense tells us that the transitional form between fish and land animals must have arisen between 380 and 363 million years ago. In order to find our transitional fossil, we’ll need to find rocks that are between 380 and 363 million years old … Ultimately, the site produced Tiktaalik in 2004! Not only was it exciting to find a new species, but it was made all the better by the fact that scientists had predicted the existence of a creature like this all along. We only needed to do some detective work to find it. Another affirmation of our theory!

    b. Why Evolution is True, (pp. 35-38). Jerry Coyne said “One of the greatest fulfilled predictions of evolutionary biology is the discovery, in 2004, of a transitional form between fish and amphibians. This is the fossil species Tiktaalik roseae, which tells us a lot about how vertebrates came to live on the land. Its discovery is a stunning vindication of the theory of evolution. … This is where the prediction comes in. If there were lobe-finned fishes but no terrestrial vertebrates 390 million years ago, and clearly terrestrial vertebrates 360 million years ago, where would you expect to find the transitional forms? Somewhere in between. Following this logic, Shubin predicted that if transitional forms existed, their fossils would be found in strata around 375 million years old. … equally marvelous is that [Tiktaalik’s] discovery was not only anticipated, but predicted to occur in rocks of a certain age and in a certain place.

    c. Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial by Neil Shubin. He said and I quote “What evolution enables us to do is to make specific predictions about what we should find in the fossil record. The prediction in this case is clear-cut. That is, if we go to rocks of the right age, and the rocks of the right type, we should find transitions between two great forms of life, between fish and amphibian. … What we see when we look at the fossil record, at rocks of just the right age, is a creature like Tiktaalik.”

    d. Science, Evolution, and Creationism, (pp. 1-3) NAS) 2008 booklet. It says that “The team that discovered the new fossil decided to focus on far northern Canada when they noticed in a textbook that the region contained sedimentary rock deposited about 375 million years ago, just when shallow-water fishes were predicted by evolutionary science to be making the transition to land. … A prediction from more than a century of findings from evolutionary biology suggests that one of the early species that emerged from the Earth’s oceans about 375 million years ago was the ancestor of amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, and mammals. The discovery of Tiktaalik strongly supports that prediction.”

    e. The evolutionary biologists who discovered Tiktaalik (see page 2) predicted that they would find fossils intermediate between fish and limbed terrestrial animals in sediments that were about 375 million years old. Their discovery confirmed the prediction made on the basis of evolutionary theory. In turn, confirmation of a prediction increases confidence in that theory. (Science, Evolution, and Creationism, p. 11).

    f. In his book “Your Inner Fish” (p. 24) Shubin said that “It took us six years to find [Tiktaalik], but this fossil confirmed a prediction of paleontology: not only was the new fish an intermediate between two different kinds of animal, but we had found it also in the right time period in earth’s history and in the right ancient environment. The answer came from 375-million-year-old rocks, formed in ancient streams.”

    QUESTION…. what happened to these predictions using the theory of evolution?

    James claimed in his reply to my post that:

    “The scientific fact that fish and land based tetrapods are related and that evolution from one form to another took place and that Tiktaalik is a good transitional form is not challenged by the muddy footprints, what is challenged is our understanding of WHEN these things took place, not that that didn’t take place at all.”

    You seemed right James, until – Henry Gee, Nature Editor says, and I quote “Tiktaalik generally look more evolved (and tetrapod-like) than the earlier Givetian ones, and because the elpistostegids seem to have petered out just as tetrapods appeared in the fossil record, the picture emerges of a well-ordered evolutionary transition: elpistostegids evolved from earlier tetrapodomorph fishes somewhere around the end of the Givetian, around 386 million years ago; and tetrapods emerged from elpistostegids in the middle of the Frasnian, about 380 million years ago. So much is clear. Except that, now, it isn’t.”

    I don’t know about your claim, James but Nature editor Henry Gee has something to say about evolutionists’ claims devoid of sense.

    “It means that the neatly gift-wrapped correlation between stratigraphy and phylogeny, in which elpistostegids represent a transitional form in the swift evolution of tetrapods in the mid-Frasnian, is a cruel illusion. If — as the Polish footprints show — tetrapods already existed in the Eifelian, then an enormous evolutionary void has opened beneath our feet…” –Henry Gee http://blogs.nature.com/henrygee/2010/01/06/first-footing

    It is understandable that Neo-Darwinism needs to prove and give example of hard transitional forms, and so when Tiktaalik hit the front page, many evolutionists have placed great rhetorical weight upon the stratigraphic location of Tiktaalik in the fossil record hoping to nail hard the evidence for evolution. But the attempt was an epic fail.

    (There were other attempts as well that failed… may be you want to blog about it, James).

    “Just when everyone thought that a consensus had emerged, a new fossil find is reported — throwing everything into the melting pot (again!). Trackways of an unknown tetrapod have been recovered from rocks dated 10 million years earlier than Tiktaalik. The authors say that the trackways occur in rocks that “can be securely assigned to the lower-middle Eifelian, corresponding to an age of approximately 395 million years.” At a stroke, this rules out not only Tiktaalik as a tetrapod ancestor, but also all known representatives of the elpistostegids. The arrival of tetrapods is now considered to be 20 million years earlier than previously thought and these tetrapods must now be regarded as coexisting with the elpistostegids. Once again, the fossil record has thrown up a big surprise, but this one is not “entirely compatible with evolutionary thinking.” It is a find that was not predicted and it does not fit at all into the emerging consensus.” — David Tyler ( http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.php/literature/2010/01/09/lobbing_a_grenade_into_the_tetrapod_evol )

    ————————————————————————————————————–

    By the way, you seems to misunderstood me when I refer to your belief or belief system as if I’m talking about your religious inclination and you starts to talk about God and religion. Hello!!! As you said, religious belief has nothing to do with science and evolution, why talk about it in length? Hmm… if you want to talk about God and religion, blog about it but not here.

    Good Luck, James.

      James said:
      October 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm

      I am not against evolution but to atheistic evolution.

      Great, so we agree then, evolution it is – as I said evolution is neither atheistic nor theistic, it is just evolution and you seem to agree. Looks like we have been arguing a lot over nothing at all. You are not against evolution and neither am I!

      Good luck, Vlad.

        vladski said:
        October 3, 2011 at 9:37 pm

        The difference between your belief and my belief in evolution is that, I do not account evolution to a mere chance and unguided processes. I can accept evolution in the precepts that an intelligent agent is responsible for the process. Thus, I am for Intelligent Design.

        I am not aware if you have blogged about ID before. But I would really want to hear your thoughts on ID and why you are against it. What are your scientific objections?

      James said:
      October 3, 2011 at 8:32 pm

      You kept banging on about ‘belief’ and for me that’s about religion not science, science, as I maintain is about acceptance of evidence not belief in anything – if scientists talk about belief it is mor eakin to degrees of certainty not belief. So naturally you talk about belief I think you mean religion, given that’;s what most people mean when they talk about belief.

      I have blogged about my views on religion on my space – there-are-some-very-very-reasonable-christians-out-there –
      good luck, Vlad – nice to see you being civil again.

    James said:
    October 3, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    I’m against it because it isn’t science. Didn’t you get any clues from the blog?

      vladski said:
      October 4, 2011 at 7:02 am

      Now, we have come to the part of the discussion that I really love the most. It tickles my interests to dig more about your claim. Are you ready to support your claim, James?

      I have read the blog and you’ve never discussed anything that discredit ID in scientific perspectives. I have raised this concern in my previous posts (September 29, 2011 at 11:33 am) but you kept mum about it. Why is that?

      The only thing you talked about ID in your blog is the belief of the ID proponents and not how ID did become NOT SCIENCE, in scientific perspective. When I say “in scientific perspective” I expect you to provide detailed scientific evidence showing ID is not science and not mere rhetoric claims that it is not science. Hope you figure out the difference.

    James said:
    October 4, 2011 at 9:00 am

    You really should do a science, biology, evolution degree. You are taking up more timebthan most of my students.

    Very simply.

    1. Read my definition of science above, ID does not fall within it, so to accept it as science would mean overturning the definition of science.
    2. Not accepted as a scientific standpoint or theory by the scientific community.
    3. Who the designer is cannot be tested or falsified, so not science.
    4. The parameters for comparison between natural and designed – that is the characteristics you look for to determine if something is designed are based on human objects and design – so by a process of logic this supernatural designer must be human or use human thought processes
    5. To decide what is natural you conceive that some things are not designed, but the ultimate cause and design of the whole universe and everything in it is your supernatural designer, so the search for designed things as opposed to natural is for the ID proponent not possible as all things are by definition designed including things that ID people say are natural such as crystals and s snowflakes.
    6. There is an infinite regress. Who or what designed the intelligent designer, and who or what designed that designer and so on.
    7. If there is a supernatural designer, in which realm or physical place does it reside, if nowhere, how does something that does not reside in our physical universe affect what goes on in said universe, if it resides in a non-physical place what mechanism
    8. What was the first cause for the intelligent designer (see 6.)

    These are enough reasons for me to reject an intelligent designer as a scientific explanation for the origin and development and diversity of life on Earth.

    I uphold the right of people to believe what they want, but I do not uphold the right for anyone to force into our education system that which is not agreed the scientific community as science. If ID wants a place in our curriculum then it must have a proper research programme that is scientific in nature, not just quote mining, and it must convince the scientific community that it is science, not pseudoscience wrapped in a clock of science to make it sound and look good. It must also be honest about it’s intent, that is to get religion into each and every part of the school curriculum (as stated in The Wedge strategy). It must stop claiming to be not religious when it clearly is, has been shown to be.

    Enough now, I have work to do in the real world, with real problems and real students. Don’t expect detailed responses to your inevitable responses to my points.

    Vlad you are inconsistent with your arguments, you say that you can accept evolution, you just feel that there must have been a designer, yet to try to undermine it at every point, so actually your posts reveal that you don’t accept evolution. ID proponents do the same, they try to argue that many of them accept evolution in full, but just need the designer for things that they find too difficult to understand. That’s in public, but when you speak to them in private the majority don’t accept evolution at all. What many that I have spoken to want is Biblical creationism as they have already decided who the intelligent designer is, the Christian God. Their strategy’s clear, first get it accepted that there must be some kind of intelligent agent behind life’s complexity, then once that is bedded in, naturally children will ask the question of who or what the designer is and hey presto, God is science, science is God. Job done and the wedge strategy is fulfilled for science, next please – all the other subjects.

    And please s top calling my acceptance of evolution a belief, it is not a belief system, unlike ID. Evolution is about acceptance of the evidence. I do not ‘believe’ in evolution just as I don’t ‘believe’ in gravity, or atoms or magnetic fields. I accept them due to the evidence in their favour.

      vladski said:
      October 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm

      Poor, James, very poor reasoning. The reasons you have given as to why you reject Intelligent Design are very poor. It gives me reason to chuckle, a lot.

      I’m into a middle of something right now and may not be able to give my point by point rebuttal/response to those very poor reasons you have given. But certainly will get back to your post soon. First thing I’ve noticed in your post is that, you are not responsive to the question. It is important to understand what is asked before you respond in order for you to have a valid argument against ID. But you go on repeating your previous error by imploring rhetoric statements saying ID is not science simply because you consider it not science. That’s how I see it, James. Never in your post you put up scientific data or evidence that will put ID claims to thrash. What happened actually was, you just exposed your ignorance about ID. It is clear that you have no scientific case against ID to begin with. You have stated eight (8) reasons and none of these are scientifically based. Thus, your post does not carry any weight when it comes to evidence. You have not put up a good case against ID as to why it is not science. You just put up your personal reason as to why it is not acceptable to you. Sad because you claimed to be a man of science but when asked to provide one, you failed. Epic!

      It seems that you are a faculty member and it a shame that you do not know the answer when ask to give scientific case against ID as to why it is not science.

      To answer the question “why ID is not science?” is to give a verifiable answer based on scientific perspective and not from your uninformed opinion, James.

      That would be enough for now. I am sure that you will get back to me with this post as you are proven to be an impatient individual and easily reacts to post like this. But I suggest to not reply now. Wait for my rebuttal to your post. It would be wise for you to heed to my suggestion, James for your own’s sake.

      Have a nice evening!!! Nothing personal so don’t fret, old man.

    mar fin said:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Evolution as most scientist proclaim it does fail the test, it cannot and has not shown how one creature can become a different creature , not just bigger, fatter, thinner, or a different shaped beak than its predecessors’, but a different creature.Has any breeding experiment ever, ever produced new parts on any animal, I dont mean like the fruit fly a recombination of existing parts but new parts , a reptile perhaps getting the beginning of a wing etc .And we all know why this is , its because when your mother gave birth to you you did not have wings because all you can ever get is a recombination of the genetic material of your parents so as wing are not coded for in their dna you or your offspring or their offspring will never get wings or parts of wings as your dna determines what you are. So how do you propose you break free from this by mutation, random copying mistakes , random copying mistakes makes wing sure it does ,tell any manufacturing company that they should copy nature by making mistakes in their manufacturing process, then select the best of these mistakes, incorporate these mistakes into their product and let these mistakes accumulate and hey presto from a toaster to an I pod.The idea that random mutation coupled with natural selection has produced from the first life every living creature we see on earth today, is just unscientific, has failed any and every test in the lab and is not seen in nature.
    By the way on my manufacturing analogy if i went to sony , apple etc and suggested that this is what they should do, copy nature , and show them the human brain, as the possible out come of the process what would they say to you , they would show you their R&D dept with intelligent
    designers who design and build products a million times less complex than nature does.
    So how people can suspend their rational , logical and common sense part of their brain and believe evolution in spite of the evidence is beyond me , but I believe in freewill and freedom
    of choice so they are entitled to do so if they wish.
    Just one small point just because someone claims to be religious and believes in evolution
    does not make it so , what most people dont realise is that real religion is about authority
    and revelation, we can only believe and do in matters of religion what God reveals to us not what we think God wants, so if you want to follow Jesus how would you know what Jesus expects of you,
    Jesus has to tell you , now if he talks to you directly you may need to seek help, the bible is the final word in matters of Christianity, now you dont have to believe this but if you are a Christian you do have to.

      James said:
      October 4, 2011 at 4:28 pm

      Evolution does not happen to individuals it happens in populations, how many more times do we have to say this?

      The proof you want cannot be provided as you completely misunderstand what evolution is and how it works.

      Fine, ignore all of palaenotology – that’s one whole branch of science struck off. Fine ignore the whole of DNA evidence for common descent – that’s another whole area of science written off, any more you want to destroy? Cosmology perhaps?

      Rather than wasting yet more time and I have wasted far too much here. Lets agree I accept evolution as the best explanation for the diversity and development of life on earth and I see the evidence where you see nothing – Moore’s paradox – again.

      You want to believe that God created everything in seperate events with no links between major groups and did a bad job by using defective DNA from one type of animals to produce another (apes and humans so either God was distrated or slipshod or incompetent) whatever, you believe this I choose to accept the science that you refuse to see. We will never agree, there will never be enough or sufficient evidence for you to accept scientific fact – there is an end to the ‘debate’ which is not a debate as you have an unchanging fixed pooint of view not subject to revision whereas I take a scientific standpoint and will accept evidence that seeks to challenege the current view and where compelling will modify the theory. You believe you are right and I am wrong and no matter the evidence or outcome you will always claim you are right and that I am wrong and probably, elsewhere (like others) you will proclaim a great victory over the atheist scientist who could not provide one, just one piece of evidence. So off you go, proclaim your victory ignore the science and enjoy life.

    mar fin said:
    October 5, 2011 at 8:20 am

    I did not realise this was a case of winner takes all I honestly just thought it was an exchange of ideas and evidence for and against evolution and creation , which is the scientific approach to perhaps getting closer to the truth of the matter.

    mar fin said:
    October 5, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Re populations evolving I understand completely how this is supposed to happen, a population of
    finches gets isolated , from another population , then in population A a finch gets a slightly bigger beak this somehow infers better survivability its offspring thrive so then you have a population of finches with slightly bigger beaks and so on and so forth , but it still does not escape the fact that the initial change must start with an individual , that individual must somehow get new traits but how? if that individual can only ever get its genes its genetic code from its parents where oh where
    does the new genetic material come from? If random mutation its still just a re combination of existing genes.
    regarding palaeontology you need to read the book darwins enigma , its basically a record of interviews with the heads of 5 major museums , now if anyone should know about the fossil record its these guys . I wont give away too much but Colin Patterson the head of the natural history museum at the time admitted regarding archaeopteryx is that is it the ancestor of birds ? perhaps yes perhaps no there is no way of putting it to the test.
    Stephen J Gould admitted that the fossil record does not show gradual change through time , and thats why he came up with his theory of punctuated equilibria.
    Simply put if i approached a palaeontologist with 5 skeletons and asked him without using dna which
    one was my great grandfather he could not tell you but he can tell you which creature was ancestral to another separated by millions of years , thats just not science its guess work and speculation at best as you can never test or validate the evidence.
    But once again do the work yourself check out evidence from people who dont have a vested interest in palaeontology and are not creationists trust me you will be very surprised at what you find .

    Adam said:
    October 6, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Deuteronomy 6:16 and Luke 4:12. Do not test G_d. This is why ID and Creationism are not science, and cannot ever be science. You cannot test G_d, in fact it is strictly forbidden. I believe that G_d created the physical and chemical laws allowing for life to occur and evolve, but do I accept ID, no. ID cannot explain anything other than to say a supernatural force did it, and the originators of ID were Christian Evangelicals. Does ID and Creationism have a place at a public school? Yes, in comparative religion class, or philosophy. Not Biology class, or Physics, or Chemistry. Taking the path of “G_d did it” stagnates scientific research, because why bother researching when you cannot test G_d. ID is simply a path to pure creationism. That path is a slippery slope and leads to theocracy.

    mar fin said:
    October 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    These verses dont relate to testing God`s existence, but thats something we can take up later.
    There are really only two options one that man evolved from simpler forms or two man has always been man, now if God did it, it does not change medical science, astronomy, physics, or 99% of other science`s , if I am doctor or aero space engineer but believe in God how does that prevent me from doing my work , Isaac Newton believed God did it and sure his research went nowhere.
    Should we spend billions researching the shape of the earth or are we, through the evidence convinced its roundish, accept this and move on, so if the evidence point`s to the fact that God did it should we spend billions to prove otherwise or should we accept this and move on.

    | Wonderful Life said:
    October 16, 2011 at 7:58 am

    […] to James Williams’ recent blog concerning some radio discussions he had had with Noble (Intelligent Design Creationism is not Science). Unlike Williams’ blog (and this one), the C4ID website does not brook any comment, […]

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