Time for philosophical honesty about Darwin

By Ken Perrott 27/11/2012 57

Credit: The Teaching Company

John S. Wilkins, at the Evolving Thoughts blog, has a nice short article, Why is Darwin’s theory so controversial?, on the so-called “controversies” around Darwin’s theories. I think he nails it. He shows that the usual tired old objections to Darwin’s ideas are just excuses.

The excuses

“Darwin thought species are mutable.” But:

“This was a widely held view by preachers, moralists, Aristotelians, naturalists, breeders, formalists, folk biology, and even biblical translators.”

“Darwin had racist ideas about humans.”

“He never did and the racism that is sometimes associated with his ideas preceded him by centuries (and were good Christian virtues) and were mediated by those who disagreed with him.”

“Darwin thought the age of the earth was large:”

“This preceded him also, and was settled in the late eighteenth century, although the present value wasn’t finalised until the 1960s.”

“Darwin’s claim humans are animals contradicted the Bible.” But:

“Linnaeus knew humans were animals a century earlier, and indeed the only issue was whether humans were animals with souls (or if all animals had souls), which Darwin never implied anything to the contrary.

Moreover, it was Christians who rejected the literal interpretation of the Bible, long before Darwin (beginning with the Alexandrian school in the second century), and those who realised that the global Flood was a myth (or an allegory) were Christian geologists a half century at least in advance of Darwin.”

The real controversy

John explains:

“No, the reason why Darwin was controversial is very, very simple. Darwin argued that complex designs could arise without a mind to guide it. In short, his controversial idea was natural selection (and sexual selection, but even that preceded Darwin). Almost from the day it was published, critics attacked the implication that the living world was not all that special, and that it lacked a Plan or Meaning. Theologians, moralists and even scientists objected to this, and while even most of the Catholic Church accepted common descent and modification of species, it was natural selection they hated.”

But instead of honestly confronting and debating the real issue they lie and slander:

“All the supposed “controversies” of Darwinism (or that phantom, “neo-Darwinism”) are post hoc attacks based on the prior objection to the lack of a guiding hand in biology. Don’t like natural selection? Attack Darwin by calling him a racist or blaming him for the Holocaust. Say he is antiessentialist. Say he is anti-religion. No matter how much evidence one puts forward that these are deliberate lies manufactured by those who hate Darwin for natural selection, it won’t stop the prevarication industry.”

A basic philosophical conflict

Wilkins says:

“Sensible philosophical critics of Darwin focus on selection for that reason. It undercuts our prior belief that We Are Special. Human mentation, cognition, language, morality, religion or economics is somehow privileged in the universe. Bullshit. We are an animal and we arose without the universe seeking us.”

But some philosophers will devote their energies to attacking this position while refusing to justify their alternative:

“The human exceptionalism which critics like Fodor, Fuller, Plantinga and the rest presume but do not argue for unfairly places the onus on Darwinians. It is time to stop taking them seriously.”

Amen to that.

But I want to add something to John’s analysis – and I do hope he doesn’t feel I misrepresent him.

Time for philosophical honesty

Darwin’s approach of looking to nature, and not to scripture, for the explanation of nature was simply being scientific. It extended the progress made by modern science in physics, astronomy, etc., into the understanding of life – including human life. Galileo in the early 17th Century argued our understanding of the world should be based on evidence from the world – not on fallible interpretation of scripture. Scientific knowledge, or natural philosophy in those day, should be based on evidence from reality and resulting ideas and theories tested and validated against that reality.

Today, sensible philosophers (even sensible philosophers of religion) accept this approach in the physical sciences. We no longer hear them talking about, or justifying, divine guidance in the movement of stars and planets, or the reaction of chemicals. Why should Fodor, Fuller and Plantinga so adamantly wish to sneak divine guidance into the biological world?

As they are so keen on divine guidance why not try to find and deliver some evidence for it instead of relying on logical possibility alone? That would be the scientific approach. And if they were really consistent they would also be arguing for, and producing evidence for, divine guidance in the physical world.

Now, that would put them in context.

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57 Responses to “Time for philosophical honesty about Darwin”

  • Its just Darwins theory( beliefs),so its not science( knowledge).
    I still don’t understand why the thought of Divine intervention is so upsetting to you.
    You have knowledge of energy and intelligence, can you not drop your ” judgmental old man god” concept/ideas to allow for a simple (and very real) possibility. You want proof of intelligence when the signature of the Divine is everywhere you only need the eyes to see it.
    You have made up your mind that you are an atheist( you think there is no god) and thats that.

    • BDBinc, divine intervention does not upset me. If it occurs then we should be able to find evidence for it and incorporate it into our knowledge (our theories – which are not “just beliefs”).

      But given that there is no evidence and evolutionary science dies an excellent job of understanding reality using mechanism of (among others) natural selection it is dishonest to insist that divine intervention be incorporated into our knowledge.

      Yes, I am an atheist – because I see no reason to be otherwise. But if I did see evidence then I would be otherwise.

  • Quite, the problem with the divine intervention- of the Abrahamic god variety- is that this should have left plenty of evidence of intercessions. Humans do not manifest evidence of these intercessions. That does not give us any reason to suppose that a divine agent is involved in our evolution.

    The claim that the ‘signature of the Divine’ is everywhere, is just a tiresome repetition of the well-known begging the question fallacy. It is a restatement of religious belief rather than something that is actually testable.

    If we consider something like our Alu inserts (about 1.3m in our genome) we know that these non-coding sequences get added very slowly. We also know that they are near identical to chimps. And that they group into families of inserts that map to our evolution form common-ape ancestors. A recent human creation would leave us with few inserts and there is no ‘design’ reason to have any duplication with other primates. These are non-coding.

    They aren’t good evidence of a loving creator. One cluster of Alu inserts is a correlate to colo-rectal cancer. Having your creation’s (sic) colon and rectum grow cancers that lead to a grim, undignified and painful death refutes the claim we can see some divine signature in the human body.

  • Show me evidence of intelligence here.
    When you are bias and closed minded you cannot think with clarity due to your learned beliefs .
    Even saying” I am an atheist”( is not open minded about God) to me is strange to say that when you say you are open minded.
    The glaring problems with Darwin’s theory remain unanswered and have been growing. NASA are now funding 8mill for a crusty old microbiologist to help them out with Darwin’s theory’s “problems”. So why did they NEED to do that if the theory’s not got more holes now than swiss cheese.
    Disbelief in it is growing high up in the scientific community.

    They are not identical Moyle, and your limited and incomplete knowledge of genomics( an Alu insert) doesn’t disprove Divine intervention in any way shape or form. Do you think components of your DNA are still “JUNK” because you don’t know what they do or what they are? Do you even think you know what causes colo -rectal cancer, you say, trying to imply, that its a cluster of ALU. Its not, how strange to try to say that on a sciblog and then say that its proof or disproof of anything.
    Congrats on the communication award.

  • OK, I’ll bite, Bdbinc.

    Specifically who is this “crusty old microbiologist” NASA is paying 8 miilion dollars to solve Darwin’s “problems?”

    And what do you use or sources of such information?

    I certainly never saw the job advertised and at that pay rate there would have been immense interest. Perhaps I should be reading the journals you read to find out about such attractive jobs.

    Specifically what are these “problems” you allude to?

    And who “high up in the scientific community” expresses such disbelief? Come on – names and affiliations.

    Granted I myself don’t frequent the social circles quite that “high up in the scientific community.” But I think I would have heard some hint of such an amazing story.

  • The glaring problems with Darwin’s theory – which would be what, exactly? What are the details & what makes them “glaring problems”?

  • Two things my sister who helps in home for the elderly tells me:
    1. It is religious people who are terrified of death which seems odd, and
    2. Teachers are disproportionately represented among the doo-lally as she picturesquely puts it.

  • The word “theory” means uncertainty to those for whom religious faith amounts to certainty. That is why there is so much violence and evil in the world. When you have religious certainty anything can be justified consistent with the faith. That sort of mentality is just dumb dumb dumb.

  • BDBinc appears to be referring to postings in the Discovery Institute blog site on Dr. Donald L. Ewert, an original signer of the Scientific Dissent From Darwinism, and NASA’s discussion on a tractable definition of life that can be used by extra terrestrial detection systems. Enough said!

  • @BDBInc

    Thankyou for the the ad hominem attack on my science qualifications. I can say this really improved the quality of your argument. Nonetheless the flaw in your argument is that tiresome creationist shibboleth that noncoding DNA is synonymous with Junk DNA. That pretty much establishes that the person spectacularly unqualified to debate genetics is yourself.

    You see, I identified the actual function of these inserts. That means I’d already stated they weren’t junk. Rather my point was their only function was to produce a long, suffering death by colorectal cancer. This isn’t the only disease they’re linked to. We have clusters of inserts that produce all kinds of wonderful diseases.

    If you wish to argue that that colorectal cancer proves there is a designer that is both intelligent and benevolent then please do so, without the scatter of wild accusations about the state of evolutionary theory.

  • No stuart as there was no reference in my comment to et’s, and don’t believe everything your sister tells you when she clearly had no proof . And the word theory is not why there is violence and evil in the world. Nor is it any religion, it is man misinterpretations, (just like your deliberate misinterpretations of my comments).
    Moyle that is a rude accusation as there was no attack on your science qualifications, you never mentioned your qualifications nor did I .
    You must be more careful about randomly bringing up colorectal cancer (as though it has anything to do with proof of Darwin’s theory)alluding to the public that an Alu as the cause of colorectal cancer, which its not true, nor does it provide any proof of Darwins theory.
    Again, congrats on the communication award.

  • @BDBInc

    Cf your comment “…and your limited and incomplete knowledge of genomics”

    I think your dishonesty is now firmly established.

  • Also, your fallacy is reversing the burden of proof.

    I’m not obliged to prove that Alu inserts prove Darwinian evolution (nonetheless, they do, their distribution amongst primates corroborates common descent). I have pointed out they refute the claim of intelligent design. You have not provided any argument that supports why this distribution and predisposition to various diseases is consistent with a designer. You are the one that is obliged to support the claim of design. That is where the burden of proof is located.

  • “Again, congrats on the communication award.”

    The recent communication awards were to Siouxsie and Shaun, neither of who have written in the comments here.

    Brendan made a good point, actually. The various inherited retro-elements and transposable elements are excellent evidence for evolution.

    ERVs are an example I know better that Alu elements. On the rare occasions when viruses infect the germ line and are passed down the generations, they can be used as ‘tags’ that reveal the lineage of animals with common ancestors. The way these proviral remnants of an infection are shared shows clearly that there is a common ancestor to related species – the infection occurred once in the ancestral species and has been inherited in the descendant species.

    ERVs can also reveal the age of relationships between species, as in humans’ relationship with dogs. (There’s also a little background on ERVs at the start of that post.)

    The process of creating ERVs is still under way in some species – evolution in action, as it were. (One story I mean to write up… if I ever find time.)

  • Moyle as I said in my statement, see there was no mention of your qualifications.I still don’t know what you are qualified in as you have not told me and I haven’t asked you.
    Your philosophy of darwinism values conflict.
    It is your fixation with colo-rectal alu’s as a proof for you personally, you misinformed readers by inferring that these alu’s are the cause of cancer. ( And after the recent criminal conviction for Italian scientists misinforming the public I wanted to correct your (strange rectal) miscommunication.)

    Grant I did not dispute our evolution I disputed Darwin’s theory.
    “Scibloggers clean out science communication awards cupboard.” Sciblog did win communication awards, again congrats.
    Neither in ERV’s and alu’s is there any proof of Darwin’s theory. Viruses are highly infectious, if many species on” rare occasions” contracted similar viruses, what has that to do with proving Darwin’s theory in anyway .
    I though you said its important to discuss this honestly, instead of making up complex colo-rectal nonsense, don’t you think the public should understand the difference between a theory(belief) and knowledge. Its belief not knowledge, I don’t really see how you sciblog bloggers keep ignoring this blatant fact.
    But I’ll bugger off and leave you all to your darwinian belief celebration.
    Congrats on the communication award.

  • BDBinc, qualification-wise you have been spouting crap to several biological scientists, Alison, Grant and Brendan, well qualified in evolutionary science. Perhaps you should stop and reflect on the source of your arrogance.

    It would be a different matter of you specified the particular disagreement you have with evolutionarty science. It might also enable you to learn something from the qualified commenters here.

    I’ll just try to get through to you about you hubris in referring to a “difference between a theory(belief) and knowledge.”

    There is clealry a difference beteween belief and knowledge. One can. and usually does. adhere to a belief, like a religion or party alliegence, for emotional reasons, and often despite contrary evidence. But scientific knowledge is closely related to reality, improves with more evidence and knwoeldge, is not static. That is why scientists have no trouble acknowledging the provisional nature of their knowledge. Nor do they have problems challenging existing knwoledge, understanding that it must be open to challenge from further evidence.

    Scientific knowledge comprises theories (not beliefs) and facts. Theories unify existing knowledge, facts, ideas and likely mechanisms, in one overall package. This helps both understanding of existing knowledge and provides leads to ways of testing or validating that knowledge against reality, and expanding our understnad.

    I repeat – theory is not belief.

    So BDBinc – please have some humility. Religious belief does not entitle you to claim knowledge of the intricate parts of science. Nor does it entitle you to talk down to those who do have that knowledge.

  • BDBinc,

    Seeing you’ve repeated things that have already been clearly corrected (like your last sentence, for example), I assume you’re just trolling. That said :-

    ‘“Scibloggers clean out science communication awards cupboard.” Sciblog did win communication awards, again congrats.’

    Sciblogs itself didn’t win the awards (as the article makes clear). Siouxsie and Shaun did, as I wrote earlier.

    ‘Grant I did not dispute our evolution I disputed Darwin’s theory.’

    I didn’t write about ‘our’ evolution, I wrote about evolution. It can be applied to our evolution, but also applies to other species.

    ‘Neither in ERV’s and alu’s is there any proof of Darwin’s theory.’

    They confirm ‘Darwinian’ descent, as I explained earlier.

    ‘Viruses are highly infectious,’

    It’s uncommon for them to infect the germ line – I did explicitly refer to the germ line. This indicates you’re not familiar with what ERVs are – I suggest you read the background in the linked article I provided.

    (A more general point: not all viruses are high infectious either – their infectivity varies quite a bit.)

    ‘if many species on” rare occasions” contracted similar viruses, what has that to do with proving Darwin’s theory in anyway .’

    As I explained earlier, they’re carried down through the germ line to the offspring. Because of this they can be used to reveal the lineages, as I wrote earlier. As one example, when this is done it is clear that the primates originated and diverged from common ancestors. You can apply this to other classes of animals, too.

    ‘I though you said its important to discuss this honestly, instead of making up complex colo-rectal nonsense,’

    That’s rude. Rather than get frustrated at finding your beliefs are floundering when compared with evidence, why not look closer and test if what you believe is true? Wouldn’t that be the honest (and polite!) thing to do? Similarly, if you having difficulty understanding what is being presented, better to ask.

    ‘don’t you think the public should understand the difference between a theory(belief) and knowledge. Its belief not knowledge, I don’t really see how you sciblog bloggers keep ignoring this blatant fact.’

    ‘Theory’ in science does not mean ‘belief’. Ironically, it is knowledge. Theories pull together what has been well established into a framework.

    Beliefs might be expressed through a hypothesis – i.e. framed as an idea to be tested.

    We could, for example, present a creationist idea in a hypothesis and test it. For example, if you tested the idea that ‘all species were created “at once”’, you’d find the conservation and inheritance of Alu sequences and ERVs would reject the hypothesis – i.e. showing the idea/belief that ‘all species were created “at once”’ to be inconsistent with what is observed. (Using Alu sequences and ERVs as just one example of evidence that might be used to test this.)

    A problem for creationists is not that there is a lack of evidence against what they believe—there’s plenty of things showing the creationist ideas to be wrong—but the unwillingness of creationists to honestly test their beliefs. I challenge you to try!

  • @BDBInc

    The fact that neither ERVs nor Alus (which incidentally, you can’t get via infections) don’t have a uniform, random distribution doesn’t support your coincidence explanation. There are 1.3 million Alu inserts in our genome. These are near identical to chimps. The odds that the exact mutation would occur independently in two species (and this increases exponentially once we include other ape species) over a million times by chance is a non-starter. Common ancestry is the best explanation and is corroborated over and over with evidence from multiple lines.

    You’re argument about colorectal cancer is an inept use of a strawman. The fact again, is we have ‘families’ of Alu inserts that predispose us to various horrible diseases. Your hair-splitting tactic doesn’t mask the gaping problem you have. There is no rational design reason to have so much of our DNA devoted to non-coding sequences that predispose us to diseases like colorectal cancer.

  • >A problem for creationists is not that there is a lack of evidence against what they believe—there’s plenty of things showing the creationist ideas to be wrong—but the unwillingness of creationists to honestly test their beliefs.

    An excellent summary in my view.

  • Again, congrats on sciblog’s communication award.
    Keep up the good work (and Moyle’s colo-rectal obsession).
    I hope you think its OK to hold onto 19th century darwinism and its philosophy, pretend its knowledge, misinform/tell people its knowledge without evidence, hold onto Darwin’s beliefs, ( & your misc non evidence consisting of a cluster of colo rectal ala’s and ERV’s ) .
    Yes, Moyle your repeated colo- rectal alu’s comments were indeed the work of a(poty stage) strawman, and that was the only honesty the public reading this got from you.
    Go on Grant, I know you like telling people when you loose arguments to “Bugger”
    Theory in science is not knowledge Grant.

  • But I did not Grant, I am not trolling, people should not be called trolls just because they disagree with your darwinism beliefs.

    So here’s what you believe, its an excellent summary:

    “Initially, there was muddy water on Earth,” they said, and claimed that the raw material for proteins emerged by chance in that muddy water. They said that all these then combined together by chance and gave rise to proteins, which cannot possibly form by chance. Then they said “the proteins combined together to form the cell, and the cell came to life and multiplied. Arms and legs appeared, and then eyes and ears.” They then went on to say, “The eye began to see by chance, and the ear to hear.” They then claimed that the fingers began to possess the sense of touch by chance, and the nose began to smell, again by chance, and the tongue coincidentally began to experience the sense of taste.

    And they kept this lie up for years, convincing people of this nonsense in the most astonishing way.( ie bring up colo-rectal alu’s as your proof )

    This what you believe, yet it has not ever been proved, the origins of life has not been found or created. Why can’t you create life, if you know how life was created.
    Darwinism is nothing more than an outdated 19th century set of beliefs.

  • BDBinc, this is my blog and it’s me that usually tells silly trolls who have absolutely nothing to add to “bugger off.”

    Can you take the hint?

  • Maybe, if its normal for a scientist to call people trolls, but yet it was Grant who first called me a troll for disagreeing that science is not, and can never be isolated, and he also told me to bugger off on your blog. I did add the voice of disagreement, especially with Moyle’s cluster of colo-rectal alu’s and Grant’s erv’s as his proof of darwin’s theory. I believe Scientists who tell the public things that are untrue should be made to retract their claims.
    Yes I get your hint, you are saying you and your blog does not want any people disagreeing.

  • Bdbinc, your memory fails you. It was, appropriately, me who told you to “bugger off” last time. Because your comments were illiterate, abusive and ignorant.

    I love people to come here a disagree – and be prepared to discuss the issue. That is not how you operate. You have been ignorantly telling people who know far more on the subject than you do they are wrong. Without supporting your vague claims in any way. That is arrogance.

    You have the hubris to tell these scientists “what they believe” and then present a load of crap about muddy puddles that bears no relation to the science at all. You provide an “excellent summary” of your own ignorance of the science – that is for sure.

    What a load of crap you must be learning at your church!

    You are so ignorant about the nature of knowledge that you proclaim scientific theory and belief are the same thing. That is just motivated silliness.

    And you have not responded to a single request for evidence. That shows you are not interested in an intelligent discussion.

    But you do yourself no favours by displaying such ignorance and anti-science attitudes. This is what gives religion a bad name these days – and why many Christians find your sort of trolling embarrassing.

  • No that is wrong, my comments disagreed with you and your cohorts.I am not a troll.
    I said your beliefs in darwin’s 19th century theory is not knowledge. Belief is not knowledge.
    You do not listen to me and continue to refuse to acknowledge there is not proof of darwin’s 200yr old philosophy/beliefs/conflict dogma.
    I am pro science, I am against the deliberate spread of misinformation by scientists.
    Why do you feel like now you need to bring both religion and christians into this darwinian blog discussion they are unrelated and not relevant. “Religion” and “Christians” are not here arguing with you about darwin’s theory , I was .

    What is revealing is you think its perfectly ok to have an anti-religious attitude.
    Intolerance, and you demonstrated it well.

  • Bdbinc, You said:

    “Its just Darwins theory( beliefs),so its not science( knowledge).”

    Obviously unaware that scientific theory is scientific knowledge, not belief.

    You claimed:

    the signature of the Divine is everywhere you only need the eyes to see it.”

    Not one example given when asked.

    You also claimed:

    “The glaring problems with Darwin’s theory remain unanswered and have been growing. NASA are now funding 8mill for a crusty old microbiologist to help them out with Darwin’s theory’s “problems”. So why did they NEED to do that if the theory’s not got more holes now than swiss cheese.

    Disbelief in it is growing high up in the scientific community.”

    And refused to provide any details of “problems” or the claimed job at NASA when asked.

    And not one example of people “high up in the scientific community” rejecting evolutionary science.

    Now that looks like the piss and wind of a typical troll.

    However, what about showing me wrong by answering our questions now? If not I draw the obvious conclusion.

    You say of me “you think its perfectly ok to have an anti-religious attitude.”

    Well it is, isn’t it? Don’t we have freedom if religion and belief in thus country? Are we not free to criticise beliefs and ideologies? (You seem to think it is OK to criticise mine).

    By the way, is English a second language for you?

  • BDBInc,

    I (seriously) suggest you think about if it is you that refuses to consider anything other than your beliefs and that you are projecting that on others.

    I’d correct your untrue statements (which I wouldn’t mind seeing you retract), but in particular I note you haven’t interacted with the points raised (you only dismiss them out-of-hand) and, similarly, haven’t answered Alison’s question.

  • Quite so, Grant – & so I’ll ask it again: BDBinc – what are the ‘glaring holes’ in the theory of evolution? You’re the one who characterised them as such, so up to you to qualify your statement.

    Incidentally, & regardless of whether you’re willing to accept it, the ERV lineages in the various primates provide very good evidence for evolution by common descent.

  • You can change my argument all you like Ken , it doesn’t change the facts.
    And yes, you are free to continue to be intolerant and maintain the old conflict philosophy. Keep doing whatever it is that keeps you happy.
    You didn’t have any questions, you believe in darwin’s theory of evolution, and apparently you don’t any need proof of the origins of life.
    I feel no further need to prove you have no proof.
    There was lots of conflict, yet no proof.
    And Grant I am not projecting the belief of darwinism theory, that was Ken’s topic for this “quotes of conflicts” blog .

  • @Alison here are just a few of the holes in darwinism:“Initially, there was muddy water on Earth,” they said, and claimed that the raw material for proteins emerged by chance in that muddy water. They said that all these then combined together by chance and gave rise to proteins, which cannot possibly form by chance. Then they said “the proteins combined together to form the cell, and the cell came to life and multiplied. Arms and legs appeared, and then eyes and ears.” They then went on to say, “The eye began to see by chance, and the ear to hear.” They then claimed that the fingers began to possess the sense of touch by chance, and the nose began to smell, again by chance, and the tongue coincidentally began to experience the sense of taste.
    No proof.
    New holes in using ERV’s as proof of darwinism:”
    ERVs debunked

    YouTube – ERVs debunked

    refuting ERVs endogenous retroviruses part 1
    YouTube – refuting ERVs endogenous retroviruses part 1

    refuting ERVs endogenous retroviruses part 2
    YouTube – refuting ERVs endogenous retroviruses part 2

    “Some people have claimed that there are viruses inserted into the genomes of all apes, including humans, that got into their genome long before any of the apes of today or humans existed. Probably so far back that it was when they were all still more like monkeys, the so called “Old World” monkeys. Since all these animals have the same viral infections, it has been claimed by some evolutionists that they must have a common ancestor.

    There is no evidence anywhere that one species comes out of another species anyways. Viruses can be uncannily acquired independently and arrive in the same places of the genome depending on the virus. Certain viruses prefer certain places in the genome and certain chromosomes. An example would be HIV, it infects humans and chimps in the exact same location of the chromosome. Also the Adenovirus does the same. Having the same retrovirus in different species shows nothing about common ancestory, all it proves is that different species share similar homogeny.

    However, in 2007 Retroviruses were found in Chimpanzees, Old world monkeys, and African apes that are not found in Humans or Asian Apes. One of them is called PTERV1 I believe.

    If all these species evolved from a common ancestor then they should all have the same viruses. It makes absolutely no sense that an infection still present in Old World monkeys as well as Gorillas and Chimps would not exist in Orangutangs or Humans.

    There is no way darwin’s evolutionary theory can reconcile the fact that Gorillas and Chimps were infected by a single common source, but humans weren’t.

    Viruses in Chimps and Gorrillas not in Humans
    Yet humans didn’t diverge until after gorillas and chimps, so humans should also have the retrovirus”

  • BDBInc,

    Can you please try read what people actually wrote and not put in their mouths things they didn’t write. (Perhaps you need to slow down and read more carefully?)

    You wrote: ‘And Grant I am not projecting the belief of darwinism theory,’.

    I never said you were ‘projecting the belief of darwinism theory’.

    I wrote about your behaviour. You repeatedly accused others of refusing to consider anything other than their beliefs.

    I suggested that you consider that it is you are refusing to consider anything other than your beliefs and that you are projecting your behaviour on others.

    Don’t get mad at me for writing this, but you are refusing to consider anything other than your creationist beliefs, then presuming others act in the same way.

    Others don’t think like that.

    Scientists, in particular, don’t work with beliefs in that way. They don’t treat them as ‘just right’ in the way that religions do.

    Scientists’ focus is on testing if ideas are correct. Darwin’s core tenants have been tested many, many times – and found to be correct.

    Track back to what I wrote earlier. You would do better if you would try honestly test your ideas, rather than presume them to be right and dismiss other’s suggestions out-of-hand.

  • Keep your beliefs Grant which did not require any testing for darwinism, ERV’s have not provided any proof, they provided the questions as to why the virus are not in humans.
    Keep your conflict philosophy ,and its a great way for people to see it in action.

    Don’t require testing for darwin’s theory just presume you are right without any proof.
    The origins of life have not been tested (so thats another lie). Why would you claim science has created life .

  • BDBInc,

    You’ve offered two cut’n’pastes from creationist websites as ‘evidence’.

    First one:

    Regards ‘“Initially, there was muddy water on Earth,” they said, […]’ etc

    This isn’t what scientist’s think, so it’s besides the point.

    Given it’s not what scientists think you might want think why a website would offer this untrue statement as representing what others are thinking.

    It also confuses the origin of life with the origin of species — they’re two very different things.

    Regards the second cut’n’paste:

    That there is something on YouTube isn’t evidence of anything — anybody can say anything they want there, right or wrong. Put another way, hearsay isn’t evidence.

    ‘New holes in using ERV’s as proof of darwinism’ — they’re not new, we’ve been hearing these same creationist ideas for long time, e.g.


    The text starts with: ‘There is no evidence anywhere that one species comes out of another species anyways.’ This is begging the question, trying to assert what the writers wants to be true before looking at anything by dismissing out-of-hand. You can really stop there, as it’s clear the writer has no intention of sincerely looking at the question.

    The rest of the argument tries to walk around the evidence based on ERVs by concentrating on viruses and ignoring details. It tries to avoid the subject.

    ERVs are in the germline, they are part of us. They once were viruses but (with very rare exceptions) are no longer active as viruses because they lack parts needed to act as viruses. So, they’re aren’t about to go around hopping between species, never mind infecting other individuals in the same species. You get them from your parents. That’s the only way you can get them now. Because you get ERVs from your parents, and they got their ERVs from their parents and so on, ERVs can be used reveal the lineage.

    Just as you can reveal people with common ancestry, you can apply this to more than one species and test if those species had common ancestry. The shared ERVs reveal they did.

    The missing material is too complex for here (and I don’t have time) but as just one example, there is evidence that PtERV1 can’t survive in humans because we have a protein (TRIM5alpha) that suppresses PtERV1 infections. (You might want to think why your writer has left that evidence out.)

    Seeing as your latest reply, which came in as I was writing this, is straight out-and-out trolling from start to end I’ll have nothing further to add to this ‘discussion’.

  • BDBinc, science does not claim to explain how life originated – you are making up a lie then transferring it to what science does claim, which is essentially that once life started, however it started, changes since then have been due to evolution.

    Lets take a side track. The evidence that the universe is some 14 thousand million years old comes from physcis, such as the redshifting of light. The evidence for the age of the solar system at around 5,500 million years comes largely from the physics of nuclear radioactive decay of elements like uranium. The proportions of elemtents in our solar system agree with various theories that our sun is around fifth generation from the start of the universe. Note that science doesn’t explain the big bang itself, just what has happened since.

    Biology has to work within this time framework.

    Are you rejecting the theory of evolution (to the extent that you understand it) or are you rejecting the entire body of western science, of which evolution is a small part?

  • ““Initially, there was muddy water on Earth,” they said, ”

    Who said? In the absence of any citations this looks like an enormous straw man – as Grant’s suggested, cut-n-pasted from a creationist website. That statement – and what follows in your quotation – bears no resemblance to our modern scientific understanding of how life evolved.

  • Alison none of the mentioned darwinian claims have been tested and proved. Its not because there was no money from the public for science, it just was not done as life could not be created in the way darwinism claims it was.
    No proof Alison, thats all you need, we are talking about darwinism, not modern scientific understanding(an oxymoron when it comes to darwinism).
    No proof, and thats Ok for Grant to believe in darwinism as well, believe away but don’t tell people that man/science has created life, or that you have proof of darwin’s beliefs.

  • have you ever read any of Darwin’s work? Because he does not talk about the ‘creation’ of life. Evolution =/= abiogenesis.

    Also, what exactly do you mean by ‘darwinism’? Because I rather suspect we are not on the same page here. You appear to be using the word to support a massive straw man argument.

  • @BDBInc

    The only thing people have asked of you, it to support your assertions with actual evidence. You have repeatedly refused to do so, and instead indulged in a litany of turgid, dogmatic and ultimately, nonsensical claims.

    There can be no doubt that your knowledge of evolutionary biology is a complete sham. The errors and mistakes you’ve made demonstrate that you’re prepared to maintain your ignorance behind very thick walls of self-deceit.

    Sadly, I have no doubt you will continue this charade. I’m just noting it is not actually fooling anyone.

  • Also this: “don’t tell people that man/science has created life”! huge, enormous, totally in-your-face straw man! (Actually, Craig Venter’s team has done just that – but it’s nothing to do with evolution.)

  • Alison – I was going to break out of my silence to point that out :-) You’re right. (Taking nothing away from the achievement some might argue Venter’s team are more deconstructing life than creating it as such. Trying to find a minimalist set of genes, etc.)

    BDBInc – Darwin’s work is on the origin of species, not how life arose. You might want to consider why others are telling you that Darwin’s work was on the origin of life when that’s not true.

  • Bdbinc, just adding my weight to requests that your support you claims. You say: “life could not be created in the way darwinism claims it was.”

    Well biologists are telling you Darwin never made such claims – that’s not what his contribution was about.

    So how did you get such an idea?

  • Deconstructing lifeforms, yet not being able to create life. Grant, Venters team has not had success and has not created life, what a whopping big lie.
    “To begin with, these artificial “life-forms” were nothing more than digital entities, created in a computer program. They weren’t actual life forms in a Petrie dish.
    No amino acids, 
No proteins. 
No LIVING organisms of any kind.
    Just ones and zeroes in a binary environment created in a computer.
    “Because the whole setup is virtual and controlled to some extent by its human creators, generations upon generations can be spawned in a relative eyeblink. The approach is known as evolutionary design.” 
(Source quoted above).
    Can you spot the fallacy here?
    Let me quote part of that article again: 
”Because the whole setup is VIRTUAL, and CONTROLLED to some extent BY ITS HUMAN CREATORS”. . . .
    It took HUMANS, controlling the experiments to “create” and control this VIRTUAL “life”. 
They admit THEY “prodded and annoyed life-like digital entities over more than 15,000 generations to get the results they were looking for.
    Therein lies the problem of these “findings”!
    According to Darwin, evolution is based on random chance!
    Random chance doesn’t ALLOW for thinking, or planning.
    And no one has ever provided any evidence of any outside control.
    It just HAPPENS!
    So how do these experiments prove anything?
    By their very actions, these researchers removed any validity from their findings.
    They didn’t ALLOW changes to “evolve”- they FORCED those changes by “prodding and annoying” those 15,000 generations of virtual “life-like entities”.
    In other words, as their own words admit, they CONTROLLED the whole thing!
    If they hadn’t done so, there would have been no changes!
    But that’s only half the story!
    Because, even though all this happened in a computer, it simply reinforces a well-known law, called the Law of Biogenesis.
    This law states that life- in any form- can only come from pre-existing life.
    Before any of these changes could have taken place, there first had to be a pre-existing “life-like” entity.
    Where did that entity come from?
    It didn’t exist on its own before they began the experiments. 
The researchers had to CREATE it!
    They had to DESIGN a program that would accommodate their research.
    They called it “evolutionary design” for a reason- because THEY were the designers! 
And THEY were DIRECTING the course of this “evolution”. 
There was outside control involved.
    Even if they didn’t control all of the experiment, the fact that they DID control parts of it negate any total randomness, which is, after all, the way evolution is supposed to happen.
    In plain English, at least some parts of the experiment didn’t happen by chance alone. 
They were manipulated in order to achieve the results the researchers were looking for.”
    Venter didn’t prove Darwin’s theory at all.
But it did prove facts can be altered, hidden, or misrepresented to fit the theory”. He copied a pre existing genome , used a pre existing cytoplasm.

    Alison sorry you are are offended with me using quotes, strange as Ken’s darwinism blog consists of manly… quotes.

    Darwinism has no proof, Moyle stop asking me, I can’t give you any proof for your darwinism, as there is none, and you know this.

  • BDBInc,

    You’ve sidetracked then offered a cut’n’paste, but omitted the top portion of the original which shows that it is talking about earlier work, not the work in question. You are establishing a pattern of moving on without acknowledging or addressing your earlier errors.

    But, “whatever”.

    You seem to confuse things, so let me break them down. Try these for yourself, not me.

    Darwin’s work was not on the origin of life.

    Do you understand this?

    Darwin’s work was on the origin of species.

    Do you understand that this is completely different and why?

    The ‘origin of life’ question starts with no life at all.

    The development of new species starts with life already established.

    Darwin’s work was about how new species arise from those that already exist.

    Regards: ‘“To begin with, these artificial “life-forms” were nothing more than digital entities, […]’

    You are cut’n’pasting creationist material from the WWW, e.g. http://voices.yahoo.com/has-darwins-theory-evolution-actually-been-proven-5015212.html

    But :-

    Why did you choose to leave out the top of that article, which clearly says it is about work from 2003. That is seven years before Venter’s artificial life work that we are talking about.

    (My remark to Alison about deconstruction relates to a parallel project trying to work out the smallest set of genes that would support life. That information was used in making the new microbe. It was a technical comment to Alison.)

    No-one here said Venter’s creating artificial bacteria was supposed to be a ‘proof’ of Darwin’s work. You added that, effectively, putting that in others’ mouths.

    Let’s go back.

    You made a mistake when you said Darwin’s work was about the origin of life.

    Do you understand that his work was about the origin of new species from already existing species?

    Do you understand what Darwin’s work explored?

    A good way to show that you understand this would be to, in your own words tell us what Darwin‘s work showed. (Don’t use a cut’n’paste from a website.)

    If you don’t understand the thing you are criticising, then you are in no position to criticise it.

    The best solution would be for you to read an explanation of evolution so that you first understand what it is that you object to.

    You will want to use a modern book, as a lot has happened in science since Darwin’s day. As I said earlier, Darwin’s work is considered historical. There are many books available. One you might try is Carl Zimmer’s Tangled Bank: http://carlzimmer.com/books/tangledbank/index.html

    Zimmer’s book is not aimed at refuting creationist claims but presenting what has been learnt. If you do prefer confrontation (I don’t), you could try Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.

    You would do better to learn than cut’n’pasting things as if it were somehow about winning a competition in website pasting!

  • BDBinc – if you think my last comment expressed offense at your use of quotes, then, reading comprehension fail. I was pointing out your use of a straw man argument about evolution.

  • I suspect BDBinc does have a comprehension problem – possibly partly arising from lack of familiarity with English. She/he may only have English as a second language.

    Pity if so as it’s making communication difficult.

    Mind you, that can only be part of the problem – there is also a clear ideological bias against science.

  • Yes, Ken. And we come back to an earlier discusiion about the fact one can only support/oppose something to the extent that one can make a case for/against it.

  • Ken,

    You might be right, perhaps that’s somewhere in the mix. Ideally it’s best if people know their English is weak to say so early on so that readers are aware it might be a factor. (But I know the reality. I don’t always feel like saying I don’t hear well every time I met someone new.)

  • You know, it always impresses me that people who visit creationist websites can never find any evidence for evolution on them.

    I mean, what are the odds of that happening, right?

  • Moyle you can’t find evidence for darwin’s theory, as there is no evidence at all for darwinism. There NEVER has been.
    Your group have made no case for darwinism and provided no evidence. What you have proved (without a doubt) is that Ken (and your cohorts) are childish and bigoted and can just manage to stream constant (anal fixated) insults in place of the truth.



    Grow up, move out of your colo-rectal phase,try to evolve into human beings.

  • BDBinc, you can repeat your claim that there is no evidence supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution (& the modern synthesis thereof) – it doesn’t make that claim correct. I’m afraid your refusal to answer direct questions (you still haven’t stated what the ‘glaring flaws’ in evolutionary theory are) and your tendency for potty-mouthed insults really do tend to suggest you are simply trolling.

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