Thursday, 22 March 2007

Dem bones, dem bones, dem fossilised bones

In the interests of debate last year, Berend asked me to host a post on the supposed failures of evolutionary scientists, "piling up quotes" from evolutionists who Berend argues have "serious doubts about that fossil evidence." I so hosted.

Few people responded, except perhaps with incredulity, but unknown to me -- mostly because he posted it on New Years Day -- Eric at Brain Stab took a very good stab at throwing very serious doubt upon those claimed "serious doubts." Turns out not all those quotes that were piled up are as, ahem, sound as they could be, to say nothing of the arguments.

LINK: Sorely tested - Eric, Brain Stab

RELATED: Religion, Science


  1. I look forward to not seeing anymore quotes from Ayn Rand on this site, a. because these quotes are older than 20 years, b. because she has written thousands of pages, and it's unfair to quote just a few sentences.

  2. What a childish thing to say Berend. If your point about fossils had any support at all in the scientific community, you'd have no trouble finding current quotes from scientists who do not go on to complain about misuse of the quote. The very fact you have to use such old material tells you either

    a) recent evidence has removed any doubt whatever aspects of evolution you disagree with; or

    b) there never was any doubt among scientists, and only infrequently do they say things that make it look like there was.

    Quotes are perfectly acceptable in literature provided they fairly present the quoted author's view. That, quite obviously, is the objection to your tactic, not the use of quotes per se.

  3. matt b, I find it incredulous that you give here any support to Eric O.'s post. He completely missed the point. Of course Stephen J. Gould is in favour of evolution. He isn't an neodarwinist though. I didn't quote Stephen J. Gould as if he didn't support evolution. And my post wasn't about evolution version creatonism. Eric O. does the typical straw man attack in his post and my reply is a fitting response to it.

    Let me quote Eric O. on point b: "Science is an incredibly fluid discipline with many new discoveries being made all the time."

    So no quotes here in this cite supporting neodarwinism here from Dawkins taken from books older than 20 years, Darwins on evolution, Einstein on relativity, and Ayn Rand on libertarianism, because all are incredibly fluid disciplines.

    You believe that's a serious argument?

  4. Berend

    Your post is not about evolution vs. creationism. I get it. Forget creationism. In your article you ask whether fossils support evolution and conclude there are no transitional fossils, seen through the lenses of information theory, whatever that means.

    That is the point of your post. In view of that, you misrepresent Patterson. He does not agree with your thesis, yet you present a quote from him in support of it.

    Whether or not I give any support to Eric's post is also irrelevant. My own review of the facts, using nothing more than references provided by Eric, you are misleading your readers.

  5. Berend -

    Could you outline a test that in your view would falsify creationism?

  6. Berend.

    You are being a complete and utter fuckwit.

    I never claimed you were a creationist and I have never claimed that this debate was about evolution versus creationism. In fact I explicitly stated this in my article here:

    "I should note that Berend does not explicitly state that he is a creationist, although he does list it as one of his interests (alongside the Bible), and so it would be premature, though not in my presumption inaccurate, to tar him with that brush, and to be fair, he has stated elsewhere that he is unsure about ID being scientific - not that this would make any difference since all creationists ever do is moan about evolution, and moaning about evolution is all Berend has done whether creationist or not."

    Also, fuckwitted is your mindless assertion that no-one can use quotes older than twenty years now. I thought I spelled the reasoning behind this, but perhaps I should have used smaller words or even pictures, but I'll try with words one more time.

    When you are dealing with subjects, especially those in the sciences where our knowledge is changeing all the time it is a good idea to use the most comprehensive and recent sources that you can. Would you use a twenty year old astronomy book to find out how many planets there are in the Solar System? No, you wouldn't, you'd look to something that has been printed in the past few years. The same with all the other sciences, including evolutionary science.

    This is why your somewhat pathetic quip about Ayn Rand falls down. Our knowledge about the fundamentals of human nature and how humans survive and should act (which is what Ayn was writing about) has not changed in the past twenty years and so her writings are still valid (whether you agree with them or not).

    If you were interested in making an honest case you would start with the most recent textbooks on a subject and work your way back - but that is only if you weren't trying to be deceitful and twisting people's assertions from many years ago out of context to claim something that they didn't. Up to you that one.

    Also while we are here (from the previous thread). Could you point out exactly what this "quite different mechanism of evolution" is that Gould argues for, and why neodarwinian gradualism is incompatable with it.

    You also took a swipe at me by claiming that "But if that's a rebuttal by someone who knows his definitions, I'm wasting my time to respond." Righto then. Which of the following definition do YOU disagree with, and why?

    And finally "You guys see the word evolution and immediately rage fills the body and the guns come out."

    Not at all. When I see ignorance and dishonesty then the guns come out. I have no problem with people questioning anything, as long as they do it competently.

  7. Eric O: If you were interested in making an honest case you would start with the most recent textbooks on a subject and work your way back

    Eric, that's saying take a book that supports neodarwinistic evolution and find a quote in that book that says it doesn't support neodarwinism.

    That's a garbage argument.

    Darwin made a prediction with his theory (many transitional fossils), just like Einstein did with his theory of relativity. Age doesn't make that statement somehow invalid.

  8. matt b: In view of that, you misrepresent Patterson. He does not agree with your thesis, yet you present a quote from him in support of it.

    I don't think so. Patterson finds it hard to disagree with Stephen J. Gould. Let me quote again: Gradualism is a concept I believe in, not just because of Darwin’s authority, but because my understanding of genetics seems to demand it. Yet Gould and the American Museum people are hard to contradict when they say there are no transitional fossils. As a palaeontologist myself, I am much occupied with the philosophical problems of identifying ancestral forms in the fossil record. You say that I should at least “show a photo of the fossil from which each type of organism was derived.”? I will lay it on the line- there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.

    Does he say here that there are no such fossils? No. Do I quote him saying that? No.

    I quote him to refute the argument of pc that "the fossil record speaks for itself."

    In that context it is an utterly fair quote.

  9. brian s: Could you outline a test that in your view would falsify creationism?

    I don't believe in the concept, because that is not how science works according to the people who have studied the process (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and others). Scientists are not falsifying their theories, and not busy trying experiments to falsify it. And if a fact contracts the theory, the theory is amended instead of thrown overboard.

    That doesn't say the concept of falsification doesn't exist.

    I myself believe that the concept of irreducibly complexity goes to the hard of the matter of gradual evolution. If you can make it appear very unlikely that certain machinery has come into being by a gradual process, you might win over people.

    But note again, that even if every scientists beliefs in irreducible complexity, it would not falsify neodarwinism. They can always claim: although we don't know how something come into being, although we cannot come up with a process, although we cannot demonstrate something in the laboratory, one day we might. I.e. they claim ignorance as their defence.

    You can always continue to tell "it could be so", "wave your hand", "it might be that".

    As I've told people here a couple of time before, my view is that something is only science if it works. I.e. electrons are real, because you can spray them.

    Until a laboratory can demonstrate a process whereby real new functionality arises (not deleterious mutations), I reject the idea (as I reject quarks).

  10. I don't believe in [creationism]… I myself believe that the concept of irreducibly complexity goes to the hard of the matter of gradual evolution…
    my view is that something is only science if it works. I.e. electrons are real, because you can spray them…
    I reject the idea (as I reject quarks)

    Berend, thanks for a genuinely good laugh. “…you can spray them…” Priceless.

    By the way, irreducible complexity is creationism.

  11. Admit it Berend: you just got OWNED. Good one, Eric!

  12. matt b, I recommend Representing or Intervening by Ian Hacking. I was puzzled by your laugh, do you guys get any education in (natural) philosophy in this country or is that completely optional?

    More here:

  13. angloamerican: we can replace "intelligent design" with "climate change scepticism" and the statement would still be true, wouldn't it?

    You argue that science is what courts decide and what the majority decides.

    Except when that argument doesn't suit you.

  14. I'm not sure that I agree. Just because one is sceptical about one thing doesn't mean that one has to accept all scepticism as valid. It's an interesting defence - I wonder if there is a term for it? If not we should call it the "de Boer Defence" in your honour. Similar to the Chewbacca defense. What we all suspect, though, is that you have religious reasons for your scepticism and not rational ones.

  15. right anglo, no one can express any doubt about gradualism whatsoever. That's very, very, very suspect. So suspect that you could even, shudder, be religious.

    anglo, your arguments on what to belief were based on consensus science.

  16. I think all believers in the supernatural are going to get roughed up in this part of the blogosphere. My personal position is that all religious belief is arrant nonsense and that religious belief is only relevant in scientific discourse under the heading ‘evolutionary psychology’. There really is no conflict between faith and science as they are in different realms – evolution is the mechanics of creation, evolutionary principles underpin all complex things.

    I understand that you are attempting to discredit the idea that creatures can change from one species to another. If you can think of another plausible theory a Nobel Prize awaits you.

    The problem is Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.

  17. The other problem, Angloamerican, is that Berend's mistaken belief in ID/creationism requires that he also hold a mistaken belief in how science works.

  18. That's right Brian. A rejection of evolution quickly leads to a rejection of fundamental results from physics, astronomy, geology, and genetics. When this is pointed out, creationists tend to retreat to the truly absurd claim that there is a global conspiracy against christianity (driven, presumably, in good part by christians).

    If I were a creationist, I would be more disturbed by the implications for the creator. He would have had to have very carefully arranged the world and the universe to look as if it was old and evolution was responsible for life. He would also have designed in major imperfections for some reason (which christians attribute to the Fall, of course, but this raises more problems than it solves).

  19. Accepting creationism means accepting a whole lot of other baggage into the bargain. The creationists are trying to get their foot in the door in order to let in a zombie army of primitive nonsense.


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