Science & Evolution
Posted 11/9/13 at 5:57 PM | Mike Keas |
Below my last post Final Thoughts on Marshall's Failed Critique of Meyer's "Darwin's Doubt" SkepticNY made comments that include those indented below:
What specific, concrete explanation do YOU propose for the appearance of the fossils whenever they do appear?
Regarding the fossils of the major new animal body plans in the Cambrian explosion, all we know from scientific inquiry is that all of this radically new anatomy requires an adequate cause, and intelligent design is the only kind of cause that is adequate to get the job done. SkepticNY, I have never had the honor of meeting you in person, but I know that you are an intelligent agent who produces complex sequence specific code in the form of comments. The Cambrian explosion is similar. All we know is this event in earth history involved a huge influx of complex sequence specific code, but billions of times more than you have produced over the past year as a faithful comment author here at CP. Scientists need to limit their conclusions to the available evidence. That is what Meyer does in his book. I wish we knew more than this from scientific inquiry, but we need to be modest about what we know.
What peer reviewed main-stream scientific journals has Meyer's ideas been published in?
See this list of peer-reviewed pro-ID articles (Meyer is in this list, which includes over 50 published articles, and which is further explained here). This list would be many times longer if it were not for the discriminatory practice exemplified yet again by the editors of the journal Science. Let me explain what I mean by addressing this to my commenting friend who apparently lives in NY.
Dear SkepticNY, I encourage you to read the letter by Dr. Meyer that the peer reviewed journal Science would not publish. What exactly in this letter legitimately disqualifies it from publication in Science? Meyer's letter pinpoints the main scientific issues raised by the Cambrian explosion. Marshall is the one who is trying to avoid how the Cambrian explosion is a huge evidential challenge to Darwinism (he is being evasive). So, I encourage you to quote from this letter by Meyer and explain how it is undeserving of publication in the journal Science. Thanks SkepticNY.
Posted 11/4/13 at 8:20 PM | Mike Keas |
Today we will see a few more indications of the woeful inadequacy of Charles Marshall's critique of Meyer's book Darwin's Doubt. This will complete a series of posts on Marshall vs. Meyer that are backward linked: start here and follow the links backward in time if you missed my earlier posts.
In previous posts I've highlighted and further explained how Meyer refutes Marshall's main two contentions that:
In this concluding blog we will consider a few criticisms that Marshall makes of Darwin's Doubt.
Meyer completely omits mention of the Early Cambrian small shelly fossils and misunderstands the nuances of molecular phylogenetics, both of which cause him to exaggerate the apparent suddenness of the Cambrian explosion. FULL POST
Posted 11/2/13 at 3:31 PM | Mike Keas |
We are making progress here interacting with comments under "Science & Faith" blogs. Thanks everyone for participating. See, for example, the comment dialogue under my last coverage of Charles Marshall's review in Science vs. Stephen Meyer's book Darwin's Doubt. The objection and reply section of my last post could have discussed the "god of the gaps" charge against Meyer that Marshall (and comment authors here at CP) have launched. We shall address that charge in today's blog instead, as I had promised. In so doing, I shall weigh in on some of the comments under my last few blogs on Meyer vs. Marshall.
Marshall's third paragraph in his eight-paragraph review of Meyer reads:
Meyer's scientific approach is negative. He argues that paleontologists are unable to explain the Cambrian explosion, thus opening the door to the possibility of a designer's intervention. This, despite his protest to the contrary, is a (sophisticated) "god of the gaps" approach, an approach that is problematic in part because future developments often provide solutions to once apparently difficult problems. FULL POST
Posted 10/28/13 at 10:20 AM | Mike Keas |
In my post Distinguished UC Berkeley Paleontologist Reviews Meyer's Book "Darwin's Doubt" I introduced the Marshall-Meyer debate and promised to cover more of it later. Today I shall respond to comments below my original post and cover part 2 of Meyer's multi-part response to Marshall, which is accessible here as a complete list of Meyer's postings on this debate. The purpose of my Marshall-Meyer series here at CP is to widen the audience of this debate and to interact with that audience (you, my valued readers).
Here some objections (comments below my original post or common objections similar to them) and replies:
Objection: Meyer quotes very little of Marshall and/or insufficiently deals with the contents of Marshall's review.
Reply: Follow the links to all the parts of Meyer's response to Marshall here, or keep reading this post and my sequel posts that are forthcoming to see why this was a premature (and false) judgment. Meyer deals with the substantive parts of Marshall's review, as you shall see. Furthermore, the only part of Marshall's review that deals with Meyer's scientific argument amounts to only four paragraphs out of the total review consisting of eight paragraphs. FULL POST
Posted 10/22/13 at 9:35 PM | Mike Keas |
"I want to be really clear about something. I am an atheist. I care deeply about the atheist movement. I'm also an angry anti-theist, and I want to see religion kicked off its pedestal. I’m also a scientist, and think reason and evidence and scientific thought aren’t just good ideas, but the best ideas humanity has ever had, and also the essential ideas that we need for survival and progress. I want a strong atheist movement, because that’s how these ideas will get advanced into the mainstream. We’re not going to conquer the world by scattering into a rabble of divided loners." (emphasis mine) --PZ Myers, Pharyngula Blog, September 6, 2013
I cruised PZ's Pharyngula blog hunting for specimens of "reason and evidence and scientific thought." Most of what I found in several weeks of his most recent postings had little to do with "reason and evidence and scientific thought." Had I just picked an atypical sample of his blog? I'd like to believe the best about a person, until it becomes clear otherwise. Sure, he uses good arguments to knock down the very dubious claim that aliens creatures visited earth in the past (curiously Dawkins takes this kind of view seriously to possibly explain the origin of life on earth, as he testifies near the end of the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed). But clearly, the prominent theme of PZ's blog is captured by one of PZ's own self-identifying labels: "an angry anti-theist." PZ is fond of ridiculing religion, especially theism, and most often Christianity.
This brief adventure in PZ blog territory might make one curious about why PZ recently published a book called The Happy Atheist. Casey Luskin has a plausible explanation:
After decades of cultural blunders, atheists are increasingly aware of the need to improve public relations. Last year we saw that Sean Faircloth, Director of Strategy and Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, wrote a book advising atheists to hide the more radical aspects of their agenda, the ones that don't win them any goodwill from the public, and instead focus on "marketing" concerns that result in good PR. As another example, many atheists are aware of the old negative stereotype of the "angry atheist." Evolutionary biologist PZ Myers, a leading New Atheist, thought he could help reverse that perception by titling his first book, released earlier this year, The Happy Atheist. FULL POST
Posted 10/19/13 at 9:00 PM | Mike Keas |
I just posted a new blog today entitled: How Theists and Atheists Share the "Burden of Support." But due to an error, it is back-dated to October 15. Go here to find it. As you will see, this blog shows how Bertrand Russell's famous "Teapot" illustration relates to the God question. Some people deeply misunderstand what "burden of proof" really means when it comes to the God question, which is actually the question about what is the prime reality.>
Posted 10/16/13 at 8:44 AM | Tim Challies
I never met my father’s father. He died several years before I was born and I knew him only as the mysterious “grandpa,” a tall and powerful figure in black and white photos and old newspaper clippings. But my mother’s father I knew well. He was “Bapa” to his grandchildren, a name bestowed upon him by my brother who, with his privileged position as the first grandchild, had his infantile attempts to say “grandpa” turned into a proper name.
Bapa died many years ago, and one of my final and fondest memories comes from when he lived with my family for a time. My grandmother had died and Bapa was descending into Alzheimer’s, but though his memory was fast fading, he would still engage in conversation and would sometimes take an interest in me. One evening I mentioned my interest in computers and his response made me smile then and now. He said, “Computers are amazing these years. They can add….and subtract…and…” And he could go no further. That was all he had. FULL POST
Posted 10/15/13 at 11:16 PM | Mike Keas |
The Venus flytrap digests and absorbs its prey, but how does it coordinate digestion and absorption to maximise the efficiency of this highly evolved mechanism? A new study that combines direct recordings from cells within the trap along with molecular characterization of nutrient transport reveals a complex and coordinated suite of mechanisms that underlie this elegant process (emphasis mine). Colin Brownlee, "Carnivorous Plants: Trapping, Digesting and Absorbing All in One," Current Biology, Volume 23, Issue 17, 9 September 2013, Pages R714-R716. FULL POST
Posted 10/15/13 at 6:22 PM | Mike Keas |
In his insightful article Who has the Burden of Proof? Atheism vs. Theism, Austin Cline, who appears to be an atheist (he writes extensively for atheism.about.com) notes concerning "burden of proof":
A more accurate label would be a “burden of support” — the key is that a person must support what they are saying. This can involve empirical evidence, logical arguments, and even positive proof.
I make this point in my Reasoning (logic and critical thinking) course each fall at The College at Southwestern. It looks like a high-volume Internet atheist agrees with me. In very few academic subjects beyond mathematics is "proof" possible for either side of most specific disputes. Arguments might be very strong, but proof is rare. Cline agrees. Mr. Cline and I also share the following understanding of the theism-atheism dialogue in regard to burden of proof (burden of support). The quotations below are from Cline's same essay quoted above.
Let's see how this works in practice. Suppose a theist invites an atheist to consider the evidence for the existence of God. Initially, the theist bears the burden of support in that segment of the conversation. But if the atheist finds the evidence for God unconvincing, he or she may claim that the our universe, precisely fine-tuned for life as it is, could still be explained by naturalistic causes. Suppose the atheist invokes the multiverse (infinite or nearly infinite number of bubble universes, one of which is ours) to help get that argument going. Fine, but in this part of the conversation, the atheist bears the burden of support (and note that other alleged universes are observationally inaccessible to us). And so it goes, back and forth. Cline correctly observes that the burden of support is not static, but is "something which legitimately shifts during the course of a debate as arguments and counter-arguments are made." FULL POST
Posted 10/12/13 at 2:15 AM | Mike Keas |
John West's essay Attempting to Win the Debate over Intelligent Design through Stereotyping identifies a common problem with uncommon clarity and wit. Unfair and untrue belief about the "other" guys, which is the root of stereotyping, has no legitimate place in public discussion. Yet, routinely, opponents of intelligent design mischaracterize ID as "creationism" and unleash other forms of verbal abuse in an attempt to achieve superiority. The strategy makes painful sense: When evidence-based arguments fail, do whatever it takes to win.
Throughout history, people have used stereotypes to silence, subjugate, and dehumanize those they oppose. In American history, blacks, Jews, women, Catholics, and others have all been victims of this kind of mistreatment.
The Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics condemns such discriminatory behavior, and yet many science journalists seem to get a free pass to override ethical constraints when treating ID. The rule of the jungle prevails. Stereotyping becomes the weapon of choice. FULL POST