Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute http://www.discovery.org/csc, Professor of History & Philosophy of Science (College at Southwestern http://college.swbts.edu), & teaches at http://www.biola.edu/scienceandreligion
Posted 5/15/13 at 4:38 PM | Mike Keas |
My last posting triggered many comments and ad hominem attacks (attacking persons rather than arguments). I urge my readers to focus on arguments based on evidence, rather than name calling. I will address a few of the assertions and arguments made in the comments in regard to the meaning and contextual use of the terms Darwinism, neo-Darwinism, evolutionary biology, and theory.
Webster dictionary: "neo-Darwinism: a theory of evolution that is a synthesis of Darwin's theory in terms of natural selection and modern population genetics." [I would only add that modern population genetics became part of this "modern synthesis" in the 1930s]
I gave many examples from books and professional journals to show that "Darwinism" and "neo-Darwinism" are often used interchangeably when referring to the most recent versions of evolutionary theory. I explained this situation by noting that the 1930s don't seen so "neo" [new] anymore, and also by observing that Darwin's theory continues to be updated in so many ways today, including by those who oppose certain aspects of traditional neo-Darwinism (but who are still Darwinists in some broad sense). These are sociological facts about the use of terms and sytles of theoretical discourse over the last few decades, which I documented with two bibliographies. SketpicNY, one of my readers who holds a Masters Degree in Toxicology, made this comment below my last post: FULL POST
Posted 5/11/13 at 8:02 AM | Mike Keas |
Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) announced this week that she is retiring after more than twenty-six years of "overcoming obstacles to evolution education" (this is the title of NCSE's regular column in the open access journal Evolution: Education and Outreach). To kick off the celebration of Darwin's 200th birthday (February 11, 2009) in her "overcoming obstacles" column, Scott (oddly) coauthored an essay titled Don't Call It "Darwinism" (published online January 16, 2009). Terms have limits, and this one has got to go, she argued. Her reasons for forcing the retirement of the term "Darwinism" (and neo-Darwinism) are weak, as we shall see. Since this D-word essay appeared, many have not taken her advice. What can we learn from this failed attempt to impose term limits? FULL POST
Posted 5/7/13 at 10:38 PM | Mike Keas |
The bacterial flagellum, which is an outboard motor that many bacteria use to move through water, is assembled by an intricate pre-programmed procedure that is controlled and regulated in amazing ways that we are now beginning to understand. Watch this video to see for yourself. The makers of this documentary avoid the issue of how all this could have evolved (but the scientific work described here strongly implicates intelligent design ... follow the links at this location to see why). The scientists interviewed in this documentary are just interested in discovering how bacteria have all the programming necessary today to assemble these flagellar motors. This, they explain quite well. They also tell the story of how we discovered this knowledge through international collaboration (a Japanese group is at the center of this project).
At 21:21 minutes into the documentary the narrator explains what we know know about the flagellum's universal joint, which made of hook proteins (building upon research summarized earlier in the documentary). We are told that the assembly of the universal joint (made of hook proteins) is programmed with the help of some molecular "timer" to ensure that its length is just right (about 55 nanometers). Mutations that alter the timing of this part of the assembly process give us bacteria that "can't swim properly."
The documentary ends with a sobering conclusion from Professor Keiichi Namba of Osaka University:
The brain of a small fruit fly uses energy in the micro-watts for complex flight control and visual information processing to find and fly to food. I don't think a supercomputer could yet simulate what the fruit fly brain does even while using megawatts of energy. The difference of over ten orders of magnitude and the level of energy used is an indication of just how incredible biological systems are. It even exists in bacteria. The flagellar motor and protein export apparatus use proton motive force, or mechanisms that utilize the flow of protons at extremely small energy, close to the thermal noise level. Understanding the basic physical mechanism behind them will bring about the time when they can be actually utilized for engineering. It is work to achieve the dream of resolving global environmental and energy issues. That is how big it is. FULL POST
Posted 4/29/13 at 4:49 PM | Mike Keas |
Many people with whom I have discussed reasons for Christian belief have shown interest in further investigation. Today’s blog offers a way. The resources here provide a cumulative case for belief in God who came to rescue us in the person of Jesus. My blog usually focuses on scientific evidence, but today I will point you to resources that offer a broad array of evidence both from science and other academic disciplines.
The best place to find free podcasts and video links covering all disciplines is at Brian Auten's website: http://www.apologetics315.com. Apologetics refers to "defending" the faith with evidence-based arguments. Brian's Aplogetics315 website is name after I Peter 3:15, which gives one of the biblical injunctions to learn about the good reasons for your Christian faith. This verse reads: "But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."
To get started, read Did Physics Kill God? if you are inclined to think that physicists have proven God's non-existence. Then watch Journey Inside The Cell to see what looks intelligently designed. The coordinated complexity of these tiny mechanisms in each living cell exceeds anything humans have designed.
Intelligent design theory is not religious, but it has religious implications (as do all origin theories in science). When the scientific case for intelligent design is combined with historical, philosophical, and theological investigation, an impressive cumulative case for Christianity emerges. Few people explain this better than Steve Meyer in TrueU DVD sets: #1. Does God Exist? and #2. Is the Bible Reliable? Dr. William Lane Craig also covers these topics well. I've listed some free resources by Meyer and Craig. Because much of this is difficult reading, many may wish to skip down to the more accessible Lee Strobel DVDs/books below. FULL POST
Posted 4/25/13 at 9:14 PM | Mike Keas |
Dr. Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell gave a ground-breaking inquiry into the mystery of the origin of life. Now, in Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, Dr. Meyer presents new scientific evidence that challenges the Darwinian account of the development of animal life and points toward the reality of intelligent design. Listen to this podcast to learn about the major themes in the book and why the book is so important. Also, read more below.
Darwin's Doubt has the potential to be another landmark for the intelligent design movement. "Having read myself it closely now," writes Casey Luskin, "I see at least three ... major reasons why this book is important, and worth reading." Luskin then lists those reasons: FULL POST
Posted 4/20/13 at 9:40 PM | Mike Keas |
It is remarkable that an atheist philosopher as prominent as Thomas Nagel announced in September 2012 in his book Mind and Cosmos that “the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false.” While not an intelligent design (ID) advocate, Nagel argues that ID theorists “do not deserve the scorn with which they are commonly met.” He even grants the respectability of Michael Behe’s and Stephen Meyer’s “empirical arguments … against the likelihood that the origin of life and its evolutionary history can be fully explained by physics and chemistry.” The “problems that these iconoclasts pose for the orthodox scientific consensus should be taken seriously,” he concludes on page 10 his book.
When famous atheist philosopher Antony Flew defected from Darwinism in 2003, he went much further than Nagel has recently. Flew became a theist (of the deistic variety). This is espcially remarkable because Flew had been the most notable intellectual atheist in the English-speaking world until Richard Dawkins took up this role. In January 2004 Flew informed the prominent Christian philosopher-historian Gary Habermas that he had become a theist. While he still could not accept special revelation (the Bible, for Christians), he accepted the notion of an enormously intelligent cause of the cosmos and life. In Flew’s words, he simply “had to go where the evidence leads.” He cited the work of the intelligent design community as being instrumental in his change of mind. FULL POST
Posted 4/17/13 at 9:08 AM | Mike Keas |
In Darwin's Black Box (1996) Michael Behe challenged fellow scientists to explain irreducibly complex molecular machines, like the cilium and bacterial flagellum, in Darwinian terms. In The Edge of Evolution (2007) he renewed that challenged and noted the failure of Darwinists to make significant progress on this topic in over a decade. Now we have an update regarding one of the thousands of molecular machines in living cells: The cilium. A research group in the Netherlands claim to have met Behe's challenge (without naming him). More on that below. First, we will review of what it means for a cilium to be "irreducibly complex," and why that poses an evidential challenge to Darwinism.
Cilia (plural form of the word cilium) are hairlike structures in your lungs that that beat in synchrony to sweep mucus and debris towards the throat for elimination. Smoking destroys them or reduces their function, which poses a health risk (thus showing their importance to keeping you alive). These tiny ciliary machines exist in many other kinds of cells as well.
How do cilia bend back and forth? Here is a schematic drawing of part of a cilium (there is more to them than just this). The power stroke of the motor protein, dynein, attached to one microtubule, against subfiber B of a neighboring microtubule causes the fibers to slide past each other. The flexible linker protein, nexin, converts the sliding motion to a bending motion.
Some single cell organisms use cilia to move themselves through water. In multicellular organisms like humans, the beating cilia serve to move fluid and debris along the surface of the cells in our lungs. In his 2007 book Behe reported a newly discovered complex transport system (Intraflagellar Transport) that acts like a system of freight cars at a construction site, moving goods up and down the cilium with forward and reverse motors. The intraflagellar transport (IFT) complex is an important component of the cilium. Virtually all the protein parts of a cilium need to exist and be properly coordinated for their to be any useful transportation function at all.
This is not the sort of system that Darwinism has been able to explain because Darwinists imagines a blind sequential sequence of events that produced the individual protein parts and then (blindly?) assembled them into cilia. Darwinists face the same kind of problem with thousands of other irreducibly complex molecular machines that exist in living cells. Behe illustrates the problem of irreducible complexity with a mousetrap.
The mousetraps that my family uses in our home to deal with unwelcome rodents consist of a number of parts. There are: (1) a flat wooden platform to act as a base; (2) a metal hammer, which does the actual job of crushing the little mouse; (3) a wire spring with extended ends to press against the platform and the hammer when the trap is charged; (4) a sensitive catch which releases when slight pressure is applied; and (5) a metal bar which holds the hammer back when the trap is charged and connects to the catch. There are also assorted staples and screws to hold the system together. [See the illustration and caption]. FULL POST
Posted 4/12/13 at 8:52 PM | Mike Keas |
In a recent debate between well-known atheist philosopher A.C. Grayling and Christian philosopher Peter S. Williams on a British radio program these two chaps addressed the subject of the fine-tuning of the universe's initial conditions to support complex life. First we will describe the kind of argument Williams made, and then we shall explain how Grayling's response was deeply confused. (Grayling is on the left in the photograph).
Williams argued that a fine-tuned cosmos points to an intelligent cause of the universe. Cosmic fine-tuning refers to a series of physical constants that are “just right” for life (many of them within extremely narrow parameters). This evidence supports the scientific theory of intelligent design. Intelligent design theory has religious implications that are supportive of theism and challenging to other worldviews, including atheism. Intelligent design is not a religious viewpoint, but it is scientific theory with religious implications that can be rationally evaluated through the method of comparing multiple competing hypotheses.
How are the laws, constants, and initial conditions of nature fine-tuned to make life possible? Here are some details: FULL POST
Posted 4/8/13 at 7:02 PM | Mike Keas |
In Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, Dr. Stephen Meyer will present new scientific evidence that challenges the neo-Darwinian account of the development of animal life and points toward the only known kind of cause that is capable of doing the job: intelligent design. Why am I recommending a book in early April that will not hit the streets until mid June 2013? Here are my main reasons.
Other leading members of the intelligent design community who are more familar with what Meyer is doing in this book are already talking about it (more on that below).
Posted 4/6/13 at 11:45 PM | Mike Keas |
On this episode of the podcast ID The Future, host David Boze discusses the ambiguous label "anti-science". What does it mean? What are the implications? Who's using it? Tune in to unpack this curious term and learn how it is shaping current debates about evolutionary theory and intelligent design. The followup episode to this one includes analysis of a recent article in New Scientist warning of "unscientific America" and its "dangerous retreat from reason." Boze also reviews definitions of science, just to be clear on what science is and what it isn't.
That suggests the need to listen to another ID The Future podcast: Is Darwinian Evolution a Theory, Fact, or Hypothesis? On this episode, Casey Luskin discusses a paper by Northern Arizona University philosopher Peter Kosso that challenges the typical definition of theory used by the Darwin lobby. When attacking opponents, Darwin lobbyists, such as those in the National Academy of Sciences, have defined "theory" as necessarily requiring a vast body of evidence. But is that what "theory" really means? Some people even describe Darwinian evolution to be both theory and fact. Tune in as Luskin clarifies these terms and reveals methods we can use to challenge Darwinian evolution without getting caught up in an endless argument of semantics. (Also you may read Luskin in this related article).
Regarding the "fact" or "theory" of evolution, consider the ENV essay "Evolution in Fact and Theory, Revisited,: which begins:
Around the 30th anniversary of the publication of Stephen Jay Gould's essay with a similar name, Larry Moran has reposted his essay "Evolution Is a Fact and a Theory." His article begins by blithely accepting the confused terminological protocol that uses the same word, "evolution," to describe very different things: a) the observation that life forms have changed over vast stretches of time, and b) a set of proposed observations regarding how, by what mechanisms, the forms of life have changed. Read more.