Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Judgement Rebuttals Slides 10 and 11

I know, I left off without finishing my rebuttals of the fun slides the Discovery Institute has been putting out. This one, slide 10, was tons of fun as usual. They even use a picture from the movie Planet of the Apes to add to the fun. I wonder if that picture is copyrighted? Oh well not my concern!

As for this whole argument, I see it as the Discovery Institute unwittingly showing anyone who reads this as how science works. You see something and develop a theory based on current knowledge. As you learn more, you modify the theory. As you still learn more, you further modify the theory. Years ago, when the study of DNA was in its infancy, the close correlation of human to chimpanzee DNA was discussed. As more work was done the precise level of differences between us and chimps has been further refined. And just because the two numbers aren't identical, they want to throw the baby out with the bathwater! As different methods are used, the exact accounting of the differences between human and chimp may change even more. My question is 'So what?' Rather than focus on the differences, focus on the similarities! My God (used deliberately) how can anyone deny the similarities that exist even without looking at the genetic level, just examine the physiology and the parallels are amazing! Biology predicts the similarities long before DNA added to our knowledge of the relationship. Science predicts and new knowledge confirmed it! What has Intelligent Design predicted lately, or even ever?

My wife reminded me about Continental drift. She saw something that struck her as funny and she came and told me. It was during a program on the formation of the Earth. School children saw that the continents could fit together like a giant jigsaw puzzle, but science never took it seriously. She's right, science didn't take it seriously, but some scientists kept after it. It took decades from when the idea was first published before it became an accepted scientific theory. Now it has widespread acceptance and large piles of evidence to prove at one time the continents were connected, the theory refers to it as Pangaea. That's how science works!

This is another example of the Discovery Institute co-opting science and claiming it as their own. Look at this quote form the slide: "Intelligent design is certainly compatible with human/ape common ancestry, but the truth is that the percent difference says nothing about whether humans and chimps share a common ancestor. The percent genetic similarity between humans and apes does not demonstrate Darwinian evolution, unless one excludes the possibility of intelligent design. Just as intelligent agents ‘re-use’ functional components that work over and over in different systems (e.g., wheels for cars and wheels for airplanes), genetic similarities between humans and chimps could also be explained as the result of the re-usage of common genetic programs due to functional requirements of the hominid body plan."

I love this"unless one excludes the possibility of intelligent design", which of course science does, it does exclude it because it brings nothing scientific to the table. But they are willing to grant human/ape ancestry? So they are saying it's true only if it's their idea? They again bring in this unsupported idea of Intelligent Agent. I guess this is the new critique when someone says they are trying to put God in a box by treating the Bible as a biology text, they can say it wasn't God, just God's agent.

I was always taught the best lies contain a germ of truthfulness. How is this any different? There is too much evidence to demolish evolution, so they take the truthfulness proved though evolutionary thought and tack-on their own spin. Gotta love a flexible, or dare I saw it, an evolutionary approach!

Slide 11 is mostly quote mining at its best. You take a quote and place it out of context. Then you further mislead with the old Gaps argument and what do you have? Well you have another example of Marketing ala Discovery Institute. Are there gaps in the fossil record, yes and they were predicted by science. Do we have an absolute 100% perfect picture of human evolution? No, we may never have evidence of every step in the chain. But of course the Discovery Institute calls that weaknesses. I call them what they are -- areas that need further study.

Let me remind you of another set of Discovery Institute gaps, read the original "Darwin's Black Box" book by Michael Behe, a DI Senior Fellow. He listed specific examples of his 'idea' of irreducible complexity. They included bacterial flagellum, human immunity system, and blood clotting, among a few others. In each one he wrote about how these systems couldn't possibly be explained thought evolutionary means. Fast forward almost 10 years and read Michael Behe's testimony during the Dover trial. Examples of papers proving how these specific examples of his could have formed through evolutionary means and he dismissed them as being insufficient -- insufficient even though he claimed not to have read them! Not only marketing, but denial and refusal to recognize published scientific evidence.

That's one of the problems with using gaps to support your own ideas. Once someone fills in the gap, you have to find new support. Keep lofting up them softballs!

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