Friday, July 13, 2012

"Egnor... declares that there is no science of evolution"



Commentor oleg, on my criticism of Darwinism:

Egnor is not limiting his criticism to a philosophical school of thought, while setting aside a scientific theory. No, he lumps it all together and declares that there is no science of evolution, it's all atheism in disguise. Evolution as a scientific theory, he says, is a tautology.

Do you see that?
Nope. Evolution is not a tautology, and there is very much a science of evolution.

It's true that natural selection, as usually invoked by Darwinists, is a tautology.

'Evolution' means three things:

1) Changes in populations over time,

2) The study of changes in populations over time (evolutionary biology)

3) A theory about the causes of changes in populations over time (Darwin's theory).

Changes in populations over time certainly occur. This is a banal definition of evolution.

The study of changes in populations over time is very real science.

The theory about the causes of changes in populations over time (Darwin's theory) asserts, when you strip away the pretentious junk-science and thinly disguised ideology, that life is explained by survival of fitter individuals, whose fitness is defined as their survival.

:(

So what about the study of changes in populations over time-- evolutionary biology?

Evolutionary biology is a field of science. It is large, fascinating, and has contributed much to our understanding of nature. Evolutionary biology is good and important science. It is science in three distinct ways:

1) Evolutionary biology is an historical science. It collects and categorizes living things over time.

2) Evolutionary biology is the study of acausal changes in traits and allele frequencies across time. It entails some very good mathematics (the field of biostatistics was basically invented by evolutionary biologists-- Galton, Pearson, Fisher, etc) and plays an important role in population biology and other areas of biology.

3) Evolutionary biology is the study of the causes of changes in populations over time. This necessarily involves inference to teleology, although the teleology is often concealed in jargon ("teleonomy", blind watchmakers, etc). Evolutionary biologists find it necessary to conceal evolutionary teleology because evolutionary biology is a flop-house for scientifically-inclined atheists, a vindictive claque who destroy the careers of colleagues who don't toe the ideological line.

Evolutionary biology is a fine and important field of science. It has the unfortunate burden of providing a platform for an infestation of atheists, from which it will free itself, in time.

Only then will it do more than catalogue and describe evolution and begin to address the real causes of evolutionary change

113 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Michael,

    Well, you seem to be an expert in telling us what you think is wrong about what you think is evolutionary biology. Repeating the same arguments in different words in multiple threads.

    For a change, why don't you expand on how you think the world has finished up with at least 10 million species. Not to mention the many more species that have gone extinct.

    Teleology without a mechanism isn't an answer.

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    1. bach:

      [Well, you seem to be an expert in telling us what you think is wrong about what you think is evolutionary biology. Repeating the same arguments in different words in multiple threads.]

      The arguments are true. Why should I change them?

      [For a change, why don't you expand on how you think the world has finished up with at least 10 million species. Not to mention the many more species that have gone extinct.]

      Evolution is a teleological process. The end to which evolution is directed entails a panoply of species.

      God is the Source of the teleology. More specifically, teleology in nature is a willed thought of God.

      I dont know why species have gone extinct, either on the basis of primary or secondary causation. I caution you however that if you argue that extinction counts against God as creator, you are admitting that inference to God is a scientific inference.

      [Teleology without a mechanism isn't an answer.]

      Living things aren't mechanical artifacts, so they don't have mechanisms.

      They have causes, which are four: material, efficient, formal, and final.

      Teleology is final cause, and is the cause of causes, in the sense that it directs the other causes.

      Delete
    2. More specifically, teleology in nature is a willed thought of God.

      This isn't an explanation. It is an assertion. All you have are unsupported assertions. And you have the gall to claim other people aren't doing "good science". You aren't even doing bad theology.

      Delete
  3. Evolutionary biologists find it necessary to conceal evolutionary teleology because evolutionary biology is a flop-house for scientifically-inclined atheists, a vindictive claque who destroy the careers of colleagues who don't toe the ideological line.

    Oh my, you're still trying to beat the drum of the movie Expelled, even after investigation showed that all of the "examples" of people persecuted for espousing intelligent design were shown to be completely fraudlent?

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    1. "Expelled Exposed" Exposed - N.C.S.E. Exposed: No Victim Blaming Allowed

      Did you know that Stephen C. Meyer's paper was peer-reviewed by three judges, and all three approved it for publication?

      Did you know that the president of the Biological Society of Washington, Dr. Roy McDiarmid, has admitted there was no inappropriate behavior involved in the review process?

      "I have seen the review file and comments from 3 reviewers on the Meyer paper. All three with some differences among the comments recommended or suggested publication. I was surprised but concluded that there was not inappropriate behavior vs a vis the review process."
      --Dr. Roy McDiarmid, president of the Biological Society of Washington

      Did you know that a government investigation revealed that the source of the myth of corruption was traced back to the National Center for Science Education, a think tank for Darwinian fundies?

      "Early on in the controversy, the NCSE circulated a set of "talking points" to the BSW Council and NMNH officials on how to discredit both Sternberg and the Meyer article. The OSC investigation found that the "NCSE recommendations were circulated within the SI and eventually became part of the official public response of the SI to the Meyer article.

      ...

      "The extent to which NMNH officials colluded on government time and with government resources with the NCSE to publicly discredit Dr. Sternberg's scientific and professional integrity and investigate opportunities to dismiss him is alarming."
      --Findings of an investigation by subcommittee staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform

      So, according to Darwinists, notably the NCSE, going about the normal peer-review is inappropriate, while conspiracies, stalking, harassment, discrimination, and dishonesty are all entirely appropriate.

      Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the deranged, frightening, and often times dangerous world of Darwinian evolution. It's a world where thinking is inappropriate, and logic is considered public enemy #1.

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    2. Jared,

      Excellent points. Thanks!

      Mike

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    3. The journal giveth, the journal taketh it away. No publisher is obliged to publish this or that article. It's a free world. When a journal rejects my manuscript, I send it to another journal.

      ID proponents have their own publication vehicles. These journals are not exactly hotbeds of research. Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design died after barely eking out 4 volumes. Its successor BIO-Complexity puts out 4 articles a year, and most of those are written by members of its editorial board.

      I have a feeling that IDers don't have a viable research program. Instead, they use their articles as publicity stunts. Meyer's is but one example. Granville Sewell has been making a lot of noises about his manuscript rejections. You, guys, are such sissies.

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    4. Did you know that the president of the Biological Society of Washington, Dr. Roy McDiarmid, has admitted there was no inappropriate behavior involved in the review process?

      As usual, when an IDer claims something, he has to use a sliced quote in order to get any support for his position. What you left out of Dr. McDiarmid's quote you cited was the very next line:

      "Whether one would consider the reviews appropriate is another issue and I would be pleased to share my views on that with you if you so desire."

      In other words, the chosen reviewers recommended publication, but the reviews themselves were not appropriate. Sternberg also didn't have any other editor at the journal review the paper, which was a departure from the accepted standards. Sternberg has refused to identify the other reviewers, so there is no way to see if they were qualified to review the paper, or if they, like Sternberg, had close connections to the Discovery Institute.

      Finally, calling the Souder report "investigations of the subcommittee staff" is another lie. The subcommittee was not involved in the creation of the Souder report. Souder's congressional office staff was. As usual, IDers try to puff up their evidence to have importance it doesn't have. Souder, a partisan proponent of Sternberg, issued a report. The subcommittee declined to issue the report, even though Souder was its chairman, and it was composed of a majority of Republicans. The "report" is an embarrassing hack job that is full of lies, distortions, and exaggerations. The saving grace is that Souder was clumsy enough to include the supporting documentation, so one can actually look at the various e-mails and see just what a pile of untruths the report itself is.

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  4. Egnor has no original thoughts; he just parrots the same crackpot objections over and over.
    -- NA

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  5. Egnor has conceded so many points on evolution that I think he can now consider a believer. The only thing he seems to have left is a weak teleology that doesn’t even come close to supporting the Christian God, and a hatred of the atheistic implications of a theory that he can’t refute.

    -KW

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    1. I'm a believer in good science. I believe that evolutionary biology as an historical science is excellent work, and has revealed many important things about the history of life.

      I believe that the acasual statistical study of change in populations is excellent science. The contributions to our understanding of nature are substantial, and a broad area of applied mathematics (probability and biostatistics) owes a great deal to evolutionary biology as acausal statistical study.

      I reject two things:

      1) The atheist inferences that most (atheist) evolutionary biologists draw from the real science.
      2) The idiotic pretension that "natural selection" has causal power and the pretentious jargon (sexual selection, kin selection, punctuated equilibrium,etc) that has accumumlated around this silly tautology.

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    2. I think it's worth discussing natural selection in some detail. I would even suggest a separate thread for that.

      Here is my proposal. Rosemary and Peter Grant have conducted a long-term study of Darwin's finches. Here is one of their papers: P. R. Grant and B. R. Grant, "Evolution of character displacement in Darwin's finches," Science 313, 224 (2006). A nontechnical summary can be found here and here.

      This paper is not just an observational study of population changes (evolutionary biology in the second sense of the OP). It is billed as proof of natural selection in action (EB in the third sense). Why don't we read this paper and discuss whether or not the theory presented in it is tautological.

      Are you game?

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    3. Oleg,

      Great idea. Grant's study is the paradigm for contemporary assertions that Darwin's theory is vindicated.It's methods and conclusions are fairly clear-cut, which eases analysis.

      I've discussed Grants' study a bit online with Myers (http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2011/08/my-reply-to-pzmyers-atheism-is-small.html).

      Let'sdiscuss a format. It probably should be an assignment, with posts containing yeas and nays from various commentors.

      Delete
    4. Sounds good. You can take the lead and describe the study's ideas and findings in an opening post. We can then have a discussion.

      It would be nice to keep the likes of Pepe out of it.

      Delete
    5. Dr. Egnor wrote:
      Atheists are not a notably pacifist crowd, and when you mess with their creation myth, they try to make you pay....If you don't genuflect, you're toast...

      I see now why oleg wants me out!

      Delete
    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    7. I see now why oleg wants me out!

      Your claim might hold water if anything Egnor had said on the subject bore any relation to reality. But as noted before, the "examples" from the movie Expelled of people supposedly persecuted by the "atheist" scientists for their belief in intelligent design have been shown to be fabrications and distortions. It shouldn't be surprising, since all the ID/creationist movement has are lies, but the lies are so transparently easy to uncover in this case that it is somewhat amusing.

      Delete
    8. "But as noted before, the "examples" from the movie Expelled of people supposedly persecuted by the "atheist" scientists for their belief in intelligent design have been shown to be fabrications and distortions."

      They have? Fill me in.

      But one thing, Anonymous. You do think that proponents of ID should be excluded from scientific research because it's not science, right? Is that a correct summation of your belief?

      JQ

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    9. Anonymous,

      I see the link above to "Expelled Exposed". I'm sorry if I'm not convinced by an amateurish website with an agenda. Some of the author's contentions even seem to confirm the veracity of Stein's claims, if inadvertently.

      I've seen what happens when "science" becomes unquestionable. It stagnates. It can't even be rightly called science. True science is always up for a debate.

      JQ

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    10. I'm sorry if I'm not convinced by an amateurish website with an agenda.

      As opposed to a slipshod documentary with an agenda? The "website" you dismiss backs up everything it says with citations and actual facts. The Expelled pseudo-documentary backs up what it says with nothing.

      Just taking the Sternberg case he wasn't fired. He wasn't even removed from his volunteer position. In fact, none of the people that Expelled claims were fired were actually fired, and most of them kept the jobs that they were supposedly fired from.

      How about you actually explain what you think the Exposed website got wrong about, for example, the Sternberg case?

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    11. Anon:

      The Inspector General's report on the Sternberg case was scathing. Sternberg was obviously targeted viciously.

      The persecution and hatred directed to ID proponents in some biology circles is obvious. Many Darwinists (Myers, Coyne) have publicly called for the persecution and firing of scientists who express Christian or ID beliefs.

      Your denial of plain truth leaves you without credibility.

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    12. [It would be nice to keep the likes of Pepe out of it.]

      I greatly value Pepe's contributions. There's no place here for nastiness of that sort.

      I hope Pepe will contribute a lot, and he is very welcome.

      Delete
    13. "Just taking the Sternberg case he wasn't fired. He wasn't even removed from his volunteer position. In fact, none of the people that Expelled claims were fired were actually fired, and most of them kept the jobs that they were supposedly fired from."

      According to the amateurish website with an agenda.

      The movie also has an agenda, though I wouldn't call it amateurish. And you still haven't answered my question, so I'll repeat it.

      You do think that proponents of ID should be excluded from scientific research because it's not science, right? Is that a correct summation of your belief?

      "How about you actually explain what you think the Exposed website got wrong about, for example, the Sternberg case?"

      It's a simple he said/she said argument.

      JQ

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    14. You do think that proponents of ID should be excluded from scientific research because it's not science, right?

      No. I think that when they are doing science, then they should be included. thus far, none have actually been doing science, because none of them have come up with anything that actually meets the requirements (among other things, none have ever come up with a hypothesis that can be tested).

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    15. Anonymous said: The 'website' you dismiss backs up everything it says with citations and actual facts.

      I love how you put website in quotes, as if it's not really a website. You make me laugh, Anonymous. Like a clown. Funny, ha, ha.

      Yes, it backs up its claims with citations. Like some blog no one's ever heard of called The Panda's Thumb which is even more amateurish than Expelled Exposed. It looks like something someone created in a web design class.

      The Torch

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    16. The Inspector General's report on the Sternberg case was scathing.

      Do you mean the letter from the Office of Special Counsel? Because there was no IG report. There was a report issued by Congressman Souder, which used statements concerning allegations made by Sternberg and treated them as facts. Souder was a partisan proponent of the Discovery Institute, hardly an impartial investigator.

      The OSC dropped Sterberg's complaint because the OSC doesn’t have jurisdiction. In its letter that Souder used, the OSC did not include anything except Sternberg's allegations (as they had not yet investigated) and did not any actual injury to Sternberg, who still had his unpaid research position, an office, keys, and access to the collections when the complaint was dropped. And Sternberg held them until his three year unpaid research position ended.

      Souder didn't do any investigating, but merely parroted the allegations contained in the OSC letter and accepted them as somehow proven, despite the fact that the OSC had conducted no investigation and had come to no conclusions as the validity of Sternberg's claims.

      So, the one here who would be lying is you. As usual.

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    17. Like some blog no one's ever heard of called The Panda's Thumb which is even more amateurish than Expelled Exposed.

      Yes. A blog that contains numerous source citations that substantiate what its authors write. But that would probably be beyond your comprehension.

      If Sternberg was so discriminated against, why did he retain his research appointment for the full term, and why did he keep his paid position at the NIH? Exactly what harm did Sternberg suffer?

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    18. Anonymous said: If Sternberg was so discriminated against, why did he retain his research appointment for the full term, and why did he keep his paid position at the NIH? Exactly what harm did Sternberg suffer?

      I've never seen the movie, anonymous. I'm not really familiar with the controversy. My point is that I concur with others above that the website you provided doesn't really debunk anything. It's not a reputable source.

      If the website didn't confirm your preconceived notions, you would also find it less than reliable. You would scoff if Egnor cited a source as poor as the one you just cited.

      Get a real source. That's all I'm saying. Expelled Exposed isn't it. Neither is The Panda's Thumb.

      The Torch

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    19. Get a real source.

      Expelled isn't a real source. Neither is the Discovery Institute. For that matter, neither is Souder, since the report he commissioned was not accepted by the congressional subcommittee he chaired, and he had to publish it unofficially on his own.

      Think about this: the House Committee on Government Reform, a committee that Souder chaired, and that was made up of a majority of Republicans, found the report that Egnor cites to be so unreliable, that the committee rejected it.

      There is no substance to Sternberg's complaints.

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    20. anonymous can't defend A so he attacks B.

      I told you, I haven't seen the movie and I'm not familiar with the controversy. I clicked on the link to Expelled Exposed and read through some of the claims with all the wonderful documentation. I was not impressed.

      Expelled not being a real source--as you claim--does not make Expelled Exposed a real source.

      So, I'll say it again. Get a real source. The link you provided is a joke.

      The Torch

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    21. The Torch,

      To anonymous, a reputable source is one that tells him he is right. A disreputable source is one that tells him he is wrong. It's that simple.

      You are correct. Under not circumstances would he find Expelled Exposed up to snuff if it were Expelled Confirmed. It's an amateur site funded by NCSE, the National Center for Science Education. Sounds like a nice name, doesn't it? It's a one issue group--teaching evolution in schools.

      The Discovery Institute is not to be trusted because it has an agenda. How about the NCSE?

      JQ

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    22. Torch, JQ,

      No, a reputable source is one that actually knows what it is doing. Go read the OSC letter. It's been linked to several times. You will find that Sternberg's claims in Expelled that he was asked to turn in his keys and denied access are false and not supported by the material contained in the OSC letter. The "retaliation" Sternberg faced was that he kept his job, his research position, and his access to the museum facilities.

      The Souder report is no longer accessible, since it was not a report of the Subcommittee, but rather a report issues only by Souder (himself an unreliable source here due to his close connection with the Discovery Institute).

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    23. I've seen what happens when "science" becomes unquestionable.

      The science of evolution is open to question. advocates of punctuated equilibrium challenged the then prevailing view of evolution and through years of hard work and research supported by evidence demonstrated the validity of their position.

      "Intelligent design" and creationism aren't up to the task, as they are not science. The proponents of those ideas have provided no testable hypotheses, have not actually provided any evidence for their position, and have failed to make even the preliminary steps of their respective cases.

      Delete
    24. Anonymous, let me explain to you my thought process.

      I saw this movie years ago when it came out. It was an average film. It didn't inspire me to really jump into this debate feet first. The evolution debate is one that I find kind of boring and largely inconsequential. To put it bluntly, I don't care that much. I hope you noticed that I've never commented before on one of Egnor's Darwin posts. I just let you guys fight it out.

      When you argued that the claims made in Expelled had been debunked, I asked to see your source because I actually wanted to read it. I scrolled up a little and found that you had already posted a link. I clicked on it.

      The site you provided is, as I said, amateurish. It's also highly partisan. I don't believe that you would accept the claims made by an amateurish, partisan source provided by the resident blogger, Egnor. You'd laugh at it off.

      You responded that the site backs up all of its claims with facts. As The Torch pointed out, it cites a little known blog that is even more amateurish.

      Try to imagine yourself being persuaded by a website called Expelled Confirmed. The ficticious website is basically a diatribe. It's also a project of the Discovery Institute, a partisan group. Furthermore, it has links to blogs by other ID proponents. Would you accept such a website as proof of anything?

      I seek the truth, anonymous. Perhaps the truth is on your side and this Sternberg fellow really is making a big deal about nothing. But your arrogance is really a turn off. You exhibit all the signs of an inflexible ideologue.

      You think you have "debunked" Expelled and its Sternberg claims, when in fact, you have done nothing of the sort. Your "proof" is laughable.

      JQ

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    25. I seek the truth, anonymous.

      it doesn't seem so. The Exposed site and the Panda's Thumb site use the material found in the OSC letter and the appendix to Souder's "report" to discredit the claims made in Expelled - which are the sources that Sternberg claims support his contentions.

      look at the e-mails for yourself. You'll find that Sternberg's claims are baseless hysteria. And when you're done with that, investigate the other claims made in Expelled and you'll find they are just as baseless.

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  6. The idiotic pretension that "natural selection" has causal power

    So it would be idiotic to say that natural selection has caused an increase in human lactose tolerance in Europe after the domestication of cattle?

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    1. The cause of the improved lactose tolerance is the better physiological adaptation of lactose-tolerant people to milk, which became abundant with domestication of cattle.

      "Natural selection" didn't "cause" anything. Natural selection in this instance, if we set aside the assertion that people in whom lactose tolerance enhanced survival had enhanced survival,is an acausal inference from the physiological fact that the ability to better digest milk improves health in an environment with abundant milk.

      'Natural selection' does no lifting. It adds nothing to the understanding.

      Delete
    2. No, Egnor. Either you don't understand or you are willfully obtuse. Probably both.

      The reason why a larger percentage of the people are lactose-tolerant is that a larger percentage of the people have a version of the lactase gene that causes lactose-tolerance beyond early childhood, in contrast to the 'standard' lactase gene that is switched off in adults. The population frequency of the modified gene has increased rapidly because it causes increased survival. That's natural selection: gene frequency change due to differential survival.

      Learn something for a change.

      Delete
  7. The Inspector General's report on the Sternberg case was scathing.

    And, of course, it's impossible that the report itself could be politically motivated. Absolutely impossible!
    -- NA

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    1. Sure it could have been politically motivated. Or ideologically motivated.

      The report provided evidence to back up its conclusion. The evidence against Sternberg's persecutors was damning.

      Why do you only see conspiracies on the other side, never your own?

      I should point out that it was the Sternberg case that got me interested in this stuff. I had been a bystander to the Darwin-ID debate, but when I read about Sternberg, I emailed him to express my support. He responded, and we had a nice conversation. He is a real gentleman and a first-rate scientist.

      I was appalled to see how he was treated. His persecutors were vicious bastards, scientists on the public payroll.

      He got me in touch with the Discovery Institute, and I started blogging.

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    2. The report provided evidence to back up its conclusion.

      No. It didn't. It took allegations listed in an OSC letter and repeated them as if they were facts.

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    3. Actually, that's what Expelled Exposed does.

      The Torch

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    4. Torch,

      Umm, no. You really don't know what was in the OSC letter or Souder report do you? What Expelled Exposed does is take the OSC letter and say "even if we accept (as Sternberg wants us to) that all the claims he makes that the letter repeats are taken as true, the allegations still don't add up to discrimination against him". And they don't. It is the equivalent of taking a demurrer in court.

      The "retaliation" was that Sternberg kept his job. And his research position. And his access.

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  8. Egnor, where is this Inspector general's report? Can we read it online?

    Inspector General of what? The Smithsonian?

    JQ

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    1. There was no IG report. Egnor is mistaken or lying. There was a partisan Congressional report that included no investigation or any actual facts, but merely took the contents of a letter from the OSC restating Sternberg's unproven allegations and accepted them as facts.

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    2. JQ:

      http://www.richardsternberg.com/smithsonian.php?page=letter

      http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=1489

      http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=1490

      All from this link: http://www.richardsternberg.com/smithsonian.php

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    3. Note that Egnor does not cite an IG investigation. It cites an OSC letter in which they state that Sternberg has no basis for pursuing a claim through their office. The critical passage from the letter:

      "OSC is not able to take statements and receive further paper discovery that would allow for final conclusions. The SI may in fact maintain documents that place our current information in a different context. As a consequence, I will detail only our preliminary findings below."

      "As stated above, our investigation has not been allowed to proceed through the interview process. We have not been able to question the individuals involved in the alleged conversations to determine if the facts would support a specified legal conclusion."

      In short, no actual investigation as conducted here. All the OSC had done was to take the material Sternberg submitted to them to see if there was any possible case at all. (What a lawyer would call a prima facie case). And what retaliation did Sternberg face? From the OSC letter:

      "Eventually, they determined that they could not terminate you for cause and they were not going to make you a "martyr" by firing you for publishing a paper in ID. They came to the conclusion that you had not violated SI directives and that you could not be denied access for off-duty conduct."

      So, "retaliation" here was that the Museum's directors looked into the issue and decided to do nothing. Some people said in e-mails that they didn't think Sternberg's research was any good. One scientists volunteered that even though he thought that Sternberg was a problem, he would sponsor him. And so on.

      Delete
    4. The reports are the result of a detailed investigation, including extensive e-mail records documenting persecution of Sternberg and even documenting persecution of him based on his Christian beliefs.

      You are defending the indefensible.

      I really don't like you bastards.

      Delete
    5. The reports are the result of a detailed investigation, including extensive e-mail records documenting persecution of Sternberg and even documenting persecution of him based on his Christian beliefs.

      The e-mails contain nothing of the sort. They show people are critical of his research, and critical of his connection to creationism, but nothing indcates he was retaliated against at all.

      For example a letter the OSc says is an indication of an effort to "deny him space" says:

      "In my case he was just plain sloppy in letting mss lie without action. I hope we are not even considering extending his access to space. I assume he has no sponsor. As is, I feel like I want my office re-keyed."

      So instead of denying space, the letter says they should not extend his access. And the letter writer says he wants to rekey his own office. In short, the only thing Sternberg might be denied based on this letter is the ability to enter the office of a colleague when his colleague isn't there. Oh the horror!

      And then this horrible discriminatory e-mail:

      "One important thing to keep in mind, however, is the equal treatment of all RAs in the section. You must not impose more onerous restrictions on one particular RA than on other RA’s in the section."

      Oh no! Sternberg must be treated equally with all other RAs! Will the discrimination never end! The litany of terror continues:

      "Anyway, the core point, I obviously am not going to be able to find a sponsor for Sternberg, yet his official status is as a research associate for the next three years. If you don’t want to make a martyr of him, I'll sponsor him."

      Oh no! They may not be able to find a sponsor for Sternberg so the writer of the e-mail volunteers to be his sponsor so that he can stay as a research assistant! Such terrible atrocities!

      And on and on and on. Over and over, his coworkers questioned his research, but he retained his space, his access, his job, and his research position.

      As usual, when investigated, they claims of ID proponents are full of crap. As these claims of yours are.

      Delete
    6. @mregnor.
      I really don't like you bastards.

      Count me in, Dr. Egnor

      Delete
    7. Count me in, Dr. Egnor

      Having a bit of a man-crush there, peepee?

      Delete
    8. Egnor: ...and even documenting persecution of him based on his Christian beliefs.

      If that indeed were the case, Sternberg could have sued and won. I dont think he had a case.

      Delete
    9. oleg: I suspect that the reason that Sterberg didn't sue is that he realized that if he did, the complete lack of legal merit of his case would have resulted in his losing and along the way all of the material in the appendix of the Souder report would have been given a higher profile resulting in his very publicly humiliation.

      Most of Sternberg's claims aren't even cognizable as a legal claim. For example, the allegation is made that his reputation was damaged by another member of the Smithsonian who researched his connections to the ID movement and sent a list of those connections to a colleague at the University of Virginia. Sternberg doesn't dispute that the list was accurate, he just complains that his reputation was damaged by the revelation. But revealing true information about someone is not legally cognizable as defamation. Nor can you make a legal claim for damage your reputation as a result of having truthful information revealed about you.

      Delete
    10. Why are you sifting legal minutiae in a case in which the federal Office of Special Counsel issued a scathing report blasting the bigotry and overt discrimination against Sternberg.

      The report of the Counsel is a strong indictment of the unethical and bigoted conduct of the scientists and administrators at the SI. That report is backed up by the emails, which repeatedly refer to Sternberg's religious beliefs as reason to ostracize him and remove him.

      Ironically, you assholes claim that the simple sight of a prayer mural violates a 16 year old's Constitutional rights and causes her to feel ostracized and discriminated against to the extent that a federal judge needs to get involved.

      Sternberg is the victim of an organized campaign of attack based on his religious views, and you... yaawn.

      What a fu**ing hypocrite.

      Delete
    11. Why are you sifting legal minutiae in a case in which the federal Office of Special Counsel issued a scathing report blasting the bigotry and overt discrimination against Sternberg.

      A preliminary report, based on a preliminary investigation in which it only heard Sternberg's side. And even taken in that light, the "evidence" that Sternberg was discriminated against is laughable. The e-mails don't add up to the conclusions you want to draw, and even stretching them as far as possible in Sternberg's favor they don't add up to any kind of evidence of "discrimination". While the OSC declined to purse to case due to lack of jurisdiction, Sternberg could have easily pursued other routes if he had actually had a case. He didn't. He had no case. He knew that an unbiased assessment of the facts would yield a decision against him on the merits. So instead he played martyr, and you have abetted that effort.

      Sternberg kept his job. He kept his research position at the Natural History Museum. He kept his office space, and access to museum's collection, library, and facilities. Other people at the museum were critical of his research and editing standards, finding them to be substandard in some way. Some people said mean things about him in e-mails. And yet no action was taken against him, and he stayed the full term of his appointment. Exactly how is this "discrimination"?

      I'm guessing that some of your colleagues at Stony Brook have said mean things about you. Not because you are an ID proponent, but rather because you are a dick. Does that mean you are being discriminated against?

      Delete
  9. Can we all agree that science shouldn't be political?

    JQ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JQ:

      It certainly shouldn't be, in any overt sense.

      That said, science is a very human undertaking, and it has always been mixed with ego and bias and metaphysics and politics.

      My objection to the Darwinist crusade is that they actively censor others, and try to hide evidence and discussion that even remotely calls into question aspects of science that would cast doubt on their metaphysical committment. And they do it on the public dime.

      From my perspective, its the censorship, more than the politics, that is an outrage.

      Delete
    2. My objection to the Darwinist crusade is that they actively censor others

      Explain how Sternberg was censored.

      Delete
    3. When it comes to ID we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that its proponents are in it for political /cultural reasons. They’ve said so themselves.

      -KW

      Delete
    4. Obviously my Christianity makes me open to teleology, in the same sense that your atheism makes you closed to it.

      Ideology plays a role in all human activity, science being no exception. Christian ideology- the world is created by a rational Being who endowed man with the ability to understand it-- was the basis for all modern science.

      Atheism denies that inherent rationality, and is a deeply anti-science ideology.

      Delete
    5. [Explain how Sternberg was censored.]

      An organized effort was made to get rid of the man, and the paper he allowed to be published in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington that he edited was repudiated by the Society.

      Note that this single rather innocuous paper (a rather good paper-- http://www.discovery.org/a/2177) that raises important questions about the ability of undirected processes to account for biological complexity) caused an enormous uproar. Rather than respond to the scientific questions raised in the paper, the response of the scientists was to ostracize and remove Sternberg and to withdraw the paper.

      Fits censorship quite nicely.

      Delete
    6. An organized effort was made to get rid of the man,

      And yet, all of the e-mails provided talk about how they will not get rid of him, because they have no basis for doing so. So he wasn't gotten rid of, and continued to have a position as a research assistant at the Museum for the full term of his appointment.

      Here's a clue: not firing someone is not censorship. Sternberg wasn't censored.

      and the paper he allowed to be published in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington that he edited was repudiated by the Society.

      A paper that didn't meet the established standards of the Journal and that he evaded the normal peer review process to get published. On that basis alone the paper should have been repudiated. Compounding the issue, the paper has since been shown to have serious flaws, and be on a topic that is not appropriate for the particular journal that Sternberg inserted it into.

      So exactly how is repudiating a paper that didn't meet the review standards for the publication "censorship"?

      Delete
    7. Tell it to the Office of Special Counsel and the Congressional committee.

      You're a f**king bigot and censor.

      Delete
    8. Which Cobgressional Committee? You mean the one that didn't accept the Souder report even though he was the Committe chairman? Were all the members of that committee bigots and censors?

      And a preliminary letter from the OSC in which it had not conducted any real investigation and declined to pursue the matter is hardly much of a crutch for you to lean on

      You keep evading the facts here. Sternberg kept his job, his position as a research associate, his office, and access to the Museum facilities. Now explain how this constitues censorship.

      Delete
  10. Reading the darwinists/materialists/atheists comments on this post, I cannot refrain but to cut-and-paste from ENV:

    Certainly, the habit is vital to the Darwin side in the evolution debate, as we know well. Refusing to look at the arguments from intelligent-design advocates, or even to acknowledge that they exist, equating ID with a phantom menace of creationism and Christian fundamentalism, remaining splendidly ignorant of what we say, presenting the debate to the public in sociological and religious rather than scientific terms -- all this is the typical Darwinist's rigid and unvarying practice.

    That's call Willed Ignorance!

    This is a very precise description of those low life SOBs that pollute this blog. There place is in PZ Myers or Jerry Coyne sewers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Should have written Their place instead of There place
      (If you don't like my English I will comment in Latin! :P)

      Delete
  11. peepee:

    This is a very precise description of those low life SOBs that pollute this blog. There place is in PZ Myers or Jerry Coyne sewers!

    Relax peepee. This is all way over your little head. Go back to reading your bible and be a good boy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @troy,
      What is that stench? Is it you, troy?

      Delete
    2. I doubt it since I'm a continent away. Perhaps you didn't clean up after your priest had his way with you.

      Delete
    3. Troy, the best explanation is that you were sucking on Darwin bones. Ouach!

      PS: I know this is nasty but Noblesse Oblige

      Delete
  12. Michael,

    You still haven't explained how you think speciation actually happens. From the way you caricature evolution as 'survivors survive' and asserting that fitter individuals are fitter because they have more surviving offspring to pass on their genes, I suspect you're under the delusion that speciation occurs suddenly, and that natural selection cannot have anything to do with it. Hence teleology, and God wills it ...

    Darwin's insight was that evolution is slow and gradual. Punctuated equilibrium has nothing to do with the speed of speciation. It's just another term for an observation that had been made by scientists decades before 1859 and the publication of 'On the Origin of Species'. It was well known that the geological column of sedimentary rocks could be divided into layers based solely on the fossils contained within.

    Common widespread fossils persisted unchanged and then suddenly disappeared at the boundary of the next layer to be replaced by another common widespread fossil which often is similar to the extinct one. Scientists wondered whether this was due to multiple floods, the Flood in Genesis just being the latest one.

    The geological strata are actually due to periodic catastrophes, causing climate change. Such as the end of Permian mass extinction 250 MYA due to the Siberian traps volcano wiping out 95% of species. Or the Chicxulub impact (if it wasn't the Indian Deccan traps supervolcano) 65 MYA which did in the non-avian dinosaurs.

    Common widespread species found the prevailing climate pleasant. And then it abruptly changes to their disadvantage and they go extinct. Meanwhile, a small isolated subpopulation has been evolving over millions of years in an environment which is harsher forming a separate species, hanging onto survival by their fingertips (or rather the edges of their shells, since we're talking about small marine invertebrates with shells). And then the climate changes to their liking and they become the common widespread species.

    And voila. Punctuated equilibrium. Evolution was occurring in the rare isolated population, which didn't leave fossils, and not in the very common widespread species, which left a lot of fossils. Small populations evolve faster than large populations because changes take a much shorter time to become dominant.

    Punctuated equilibrium is most apparent in small marine invertebrates with shells. Do you really think it supports your idea of teleology willed by God? God deciding that one small marine invertebrate with a shell needs to be made to go extinct and to be replaced by another small marine invertebrate with a shell that in many cases is similar, by his will and for teleological reasons?

    Punctuated equilibrium isn't apparent in terrestrial species, particularly the ones you're most concerned with; humans. Terrestrial fossils are too uncommon and widespread to see any evidence of abrupt change. You don't ever have one strata containing a thousand fossils of Homo erectus and the next layer 10,000 years later containing a thousand fossils of Homo sapiens.

    Hominid species overlapped both in time and space. Homo sapiens originated in Africa at a time when Homo erectus was widespread throughout Europe and Asia (Peking man, Java man). No evidence for teleology.


    By the way, I laughed at your common that atheists are anti-science. You don't even make the slightest effort to understand what you're criticizing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops, spell check strikes again. "I laughed at your comment...". Second last sentence.

      Delete
    2. bach,
      That's a common mistake!
      :P

      Delete
    3. @bach:

      [Evolution was occurring in the rare isolated population, which didn't leave fossils,]

      Cute story. Too bad about the non-evidence.

      Why would you embrace a theory that posits that evidence for your theory will never be found?

      Delete
    4. Michael,

      We embrace the theory BECAUSE WE HAVE THE EVIDENCE! Punctuated equilibrium is due to allopatric speciation. Speciation occurring in small isolated species. Such as the Galapagos finches 1,000 kilometres off the coast of South America.

      You have NO EVIDENCE for your theory of teleology with God willing new species into existence by fiat. Do you think God willed Darwin's finches into existence, all 13 of them, just for the purpose of confounding believers and making it appear that evolution occurs? And just to make the deception even better, made them most similar to a single species of finch on the South American continent, instead of making them most similar to African or Australian finches.

      Potentially, evidence could be found. It isn't impossible that a future Neil Shubin couldn't predict exactly where the right sedimentary rocks originating from the right time and area of the Earth to record evolution in a small isolated population, as Neil Shubin did when he set out to look for Tiktalik. He predicted that the transition from lobe fin fish to tetrapods would occur around 375 MYA, so he looked for sedimentary rocks of the right age and type. And he found them in Northern Canada. And he found the fossils, after a lot of looking.

      How are you going to find evidence, ever, for your theory that God did something, somewhere, somewhen, for unknown reasons and by unknown mechanisms????

      Delete
    5. I normally wouldn't agree with you, bach, but the ALL CAPS stuff is pretty convincing.

      Delete
    6. @bach,

      I do hope you do not have a crush on Tiktaalik!

      Delete
  13. Michael,

    I used the 'all caps' because otherwise it doesn't attract your limited attention.

    Answer the comment for a change.

    Or better still, what evidence do you have for God willed teleology induced speciation? Just a broad outline will do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could also attract my attention by shiny type, or type that scintillates.

      My evidence that teleology best explains speciation is that every change in nature is inherently teleological, at least in certain aspects.

      My evidence for the inference from teleology to God is the Fifth Way.

      Delete
    2. Michael,

      So you don't have any evidence for your Thomistic dualism/teleology theory of evolution? You're an evidence free zone?

      If you used the same hand waving in your specialty of neurosurgery, you would have had your board certification removed years ago.

      Please, please start another thread claiming that you're being persecuted for your religious beliefs so that we can laugh at you again.

      Delete
    3. Teleology is metaphysics, not physics. It is not a thing in nature, but a principle by which nature works.

      'Proofs' by which it is demonstrated are metaphysical arguments. It's not 'evidence' in a scientific sense, etc. It is the same kind of argument that you use when you assert that teleology doesn't exist. You won't see it under a microscope.

      Your materialism is really an intellectual handicap.

      Delete
    4. Materialism is intellectual constipation!
      :P

      Delete
    5. Another valuable contribution from Pépé. Mike, you should ask him to write a few guest posts. With fart noises.

      Delete
    6. Pepe gets the big things right, oleg.

      There is nothing dumber than believing that everything just happened and that nothing has ultimate meaning.

      There is nothing dumber than atheism, even atheism with a PhD.

      Delete
    7. A brain fart is a brain fart, whether it comes from a conservative or from a liberal.

      Delete
    8. Michael,

      There's no evidence that teleology exists in biology, and there's extremely good reasons for thinking that it doesn't. You can only pretend to see teleology in biology after the event. There's no known mechanism in biology allowing a species to adapt in advance of a changed environment, not with Mendelian genetics.

      Please, give some evidence that supports your idea that teleology exists in biology, and state the mechanism (God willed it into existence isn't a mechanism - you have to state how God did it), and how would you go about detecting it.

      Delete
    9. Aristotle's Four Causes remains the only coherent framework on which to understand change in nature. Change tends to ends-- rocks fall to earth, not sky, matches burn hot, not cold, etc. Teleology is everywhere. It is in evolution too.

      The laws of nature, of which evolution is a part, are manifestations of teleology.

      For specific instances, convergent evolution is an excellent example of a manifestation of teleology in evolutionary change.

      Delete
    10. Egnor: Aristotle's Four Causes remains the only coherent framework on which to understand change in nature. Change tends to ends-- rocks fall to earth, not sky, matches burn hot, not cold, etc.

      That's a pretty useless framework. One can always find an acceptable cause for this or that phenomenon, but this navel gazing has no predictive value.

      Delete
    11. "predictive value", oleg, is teleology.

      That's what teleology is-- a tendency in nature to act to ends, that can be predicted.

      You invoke teleology constantly, and don't even know what you're doing.

      Delete
    12. Statements "matches burn hot, not cold" are not profound revelations about change. They are merely summaries of our experience. Some rather inaccurate. Falling rocks accelerate toward the earth, which does not necessarily mean they fall to the earth. The moon is one obvious exception.

      At any rate, Aristotelean metaphysics was interesting in its day, but now few people care for it. It's about as useful as the Klingon language. You can learn to speak it and entertain friends, but that's about it.

      Delete
    13. [Statements "matches burn hot, not cold" are not profound revelations about change. They are merely summaries of our experience.]

      That's the point. Teleology is obvious and undeniable. It takes the form of everything from mundane observations to the most profound laws of nature. It is also obvious in evolution-- there is a directedness to evolutionary change, to body plans and biochemistry and genetic code, etc. That is all teleological as well.

      Teleology is the denial of "random" in random heritable variation, and it is the assertion that "natural selection" is not a causative agent.

      Teleology takes the atheist implications out of Darwin's theory, and that's why you hate it.

      It seems as if you find Aristotle's logic as useless as his metaphysics. Don't let anything get in the way of your atheism.

      Delete
    14. Michael,

      No. Convergent evolution isn't evidence of teleology. It's evidence of convergent natural selection. It would be, if it occurred abruptly. But convergent evolution, like evolution in general, is slow and gradual.

      Delete
    15. Egnor: there is a directedness to evolutionary change, to body plans and biochemistry and genetic code, etc. That is all teleological as well.

      Post-hoc rationalization is a great form of navel-gazing. You paint the target around the arrow.

      Delete
    16. Teleology is metaphysics, not physics. It is not a thing in nature, but a principle by which nature works.

      Metaphysics is by definition not science, and as a result, cannot be a scientific theory, or proof of such.

      Delete
  14. Egnor:

    "I really don't like you bastards."

    "What a fu**ing hypocrite."

    "You're a f**king bigot and censor."

    Yikes. Really? This blog has come to this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "There is nothing dumber than believing that everything just happened and that nothing has ultimate meaning.

      There is nothing dumber than atheism, even atheism with a PhD."

      So, let me get this straight - "Everything just happened" in your mind, means what exactly? That in a flash, things just popped into existence?
      And your theory is that 'god' did basically the same thing, right? Oh, but NOW there's 'purpose'.

      Also, the conversation is straying here. Evolution is not exactly about the beginning of the universe or life on earth. But it helps us in understanding its history. Its about descent with modification over many generations.

      Delete
    2. The Sternberg thing really sets me off. I should control it better, but we all have our weaknesses.

      They are bigots and censors and hypocrites. Sometimes I can't tell the truth tactfully.

      Delete
    3. @Mulder,

      As I've noted, "evolution" is many things. A tautology, butterfly collecting, good science of acausal analysis of population change, ideological crap, natural history, and on and on.

      My objection is to the bullshit-- atheist creation myth, logical gibberish.

      There are many good things about evolutionary biology-- the study of the history of life in fossils, creation of phyletic trees, correlation of molecular and morphological evolution, biostatistics, etc.

      Unfortunately, evolutionary biology is infested with atheists, which lowers the intellectual and civil standards of the field considerably.

      Delete
    4. All scientists tend to be atheists. Biologists perhaps more so, but it's about the same in physics. That does not invalidate the science, does it?

      Delete
    5. Now you sound like pepe. So atheists are all of lower intelligence?

      I fail to see how simply a creationist/theist in the position of a evolutionary biologist adds SO much to the field. If anything, i think that going into any type of experiment or investigation with a pre-assumption of a deity, simply because its a family tradition would easily skew results. Thats basically saying, 'well, it says in this religious book 'god' made everything. Including humans, out of clay.

      OK, check. Let's go see how i can make my research fit that model. Seems backward to me.

      Delete
    6. AMulder:

      [So atheists are all of lower intelligence?]

      Atheists are unintelligent in metaphysical matters, because 1) They are wrong about the existence of God 2) Their metaphysical arguments are objectively deficient

      That is not to say that atheists are unintelligent about other things.

      [I fail to see how simply a creationist/theist in the position of a evolutionary biologist adds SO much to the field. If anything, i think that going into any type of experiment or investigation with a pre-assumption of a deity, simply because its a family tradition would easily skew results. Thats basically saying, 'well, it says in this religious book 'god' made everything. Including humans, out of clay.

      OK, check. Let's go see how i can make my research fit that model. Seems backward to me.]

      All scientists (and people) start with metaphysical presuppositions. The presuppositions may be explicit and well-thought out, or implicit and ill-thought out. There is no "neutrality" in metaphysics. Everyone has presuppositions. Some presuppositions are cogent, some are idiotic. Some are true, some are false.

      Spare me this shit about atheists being objective searchers for truth, whereas Christians are biased fools.

      We all have bias, and bias we deny is perhaps the worst bias.

      I assert that atheist bias is 1) factually wrong 2) metaphysically idiotic 3) self-refuting.

      If there is no God, there is no reason to expect rationality in the universe, or consistency, or to even have a motivation to study nature.

      Delete
    7. Factually wrong? Do you mean to say that one can make an objective determination that God positively exists? That would be news to me.

      Delete
    8. Of course it's news to you. Metaphysics of any sort is news to you.

      Proofs include Aquinas' Five Ways, the Ontological argument, the argument from morality, etc.

      Atheism offers no explanation for existence itself, and denies the reality of meaning, the mind, etc. It is incoherent sophomoric gibberish.

      Delete
    9. That's a subjective determination. Some people find it convincing and others don't.

      Delete
    10. I haven't heard any arguments against God's existence that couldn't be made by a 10 year old.

      You guys aren't in the ballpark when it comes to meaningful discussion of God. That's one of the things that led me to Christianity-- when I actually read atheist arguments (which I expected would be strong) I laughed.

      You guys come to the debate unarmed.

      Delete
    11. The existence of God cannot be disproven. The same, however, can be said of Russell's teapot. Badum tish!

      Delete
    12. Egnor: "I haven't heard any arguments against God's existence that couldn't be made by a 10 year old."

      Perhaps because all it takes is a 10-year-old's inquisitive mind to ask questions like, 'well, if god is the prime mover, how did he start moving? What is the source of his energy?'

      Or 'If EVERYTHING needs a creator, then who created god?'

      You may balk at rebuttals like these, but when someone makes such an assertion, say for arguments' sake, to another who may be unaware of god, then i think human nature requires that these questions get asked.

      Unarmed? At least we don't trumpet that we KNOW how the universe got here, know how and WHY we're here. That's why scientists never give up. The search for truth is a long one. I dont accept that simply relying on a catholic priest's (Aquinas) interpretation from the middle ages ends any debate.

      Again, he obviously went into these 5 ways biased, as in, i KNOW there's this god up there, somewhere. So everything must stem from him. Philosophical for sure, but scientific? Not at all.

      Scientists reject these because the god hypothesis has not, and cannot be tested. No evidence whatsoever has been produced to even base a hypothesis or theory on it. Perhaps when something does shine in that direction, other than the bible, then i bet you'd see more scientists open to it.

      Delete
  15. Hello Dr.Egnor.
    "Evolutionary biology is the study of the causes of changes in populations over time. This necessarily involves inference to teleology, although the teleology is often concealed in jargon ("teleonomy", blind watchmakers, etc)."
    You say that evolution "necessarily involves inference to teleology" ie evolution is directed towards a "goal" or "target" (say, the origin of mankind).
    Why is it, then, that we never see a mutation which alters the phenotype of an organism in a manner that does not confer any immediate advantage on the organism but which, nevertheless, spreads rapidly through the gene pool merely because it will be of importance in the future?
    For example, consider Michael Behe's irreducibly complex biochemical pathways. A mutation might produce proteins involved in just one step of the pathway. It is certainly useless on its own (by definition of "irreducibly complex") but must, according to the notion of teleology, be preserved by natural selection anyway because it will be of use in the future when further mutations produce the other components of the pathway. No experimenter has ever recorded any phenomenon of this kind.
    It has been observed that a mutation is favoured only if it is of immediate use to the organism. The potential for being very useful in the future doesn't count with natural selection (indeed, this was the logic of Behe's whole argument of irreducible complexity).
    How then is teleology a sound philosophical position in the context of evolution?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon

      Your question is a good one. The short answer is that teleology is mere directedness, with no reference to adaptation or timeframe.

      I'm traveling and cant expand now. Soon.

      Delete
    2. @anon,
      No experimenter has ever recorded any phenomenon of this kind.

      The reason may be that the random mutations + natural selection mechanism is really not how evolution works. In my opinion, the best alternative is microbiologist James Shapiro Natural Genetic Engineering. He write:

      "...natural genetic engineering is the real creative process in evolutionary innovation. A central but undocumented feature of my argument is that cells can coordinate separate DNA-change events to produce functional new genome structures."

      Any engineering activity implies teleology (and intelligence).

      Delete