Corvettes and Creation (New and Improved with Extra Cheese)

monkey hamletby Glenn Fairman and Brad Nelson  9/15/14
In 1990, evolutionist Tim Berra used the “evolution” of Corvette models as an apt analogy to describe the existing fossil record and to defend the Darwinian models from the persistent attacks of Luddite Creationists. He described it this way:

“If you compare a 1953 and a 1954 Corvette, side by side, then a 1954 and a 1955 model, and so on, the descent with modification is overwhelmingly obvious.  This is what paleontologists do with fossils, and the evidence is so solid and comprehensive that it cannot be denied by reasonable people.” — T. Berra, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism, 1990, pg 117-119

But often, what appears indisputable and reasonable to one man is folly in another’s eyes. Using Corvettes to analogize Darwin’s “non-directed descent with modification” misrepresents a fossil record already inhospitable to their paradigm. In fact, it actually distorts the interpretation of evidence by virtue of their model’s a priori assumptions. With scant examples of indisputable transitional links that might buttress a case for macro-evolution’s mechanism, an astute observer without an axe to grind might conclude that descent with modification was in actuality –“design with modification.”

Indeed, since that sleek and hearty race of Corvettes owes its existence, not to the congealing of fortune, but to a team of exacting designers, Mr. Berra unwittingly let the cat out of the proverbial bag by illustrating that variations of morphology predicated on a common theme more logically belongs to the realm of purposeful Mind. Builders of bridges might use a variety of engineering motifs to reach their goal, but when elegance and economy are taken into consideration along with pragmatism, we generally encounter variations on a tried and true idea that experience has validated. If anything, it is the evolution of engineering knowledge, a function of non-materialist information, that allows designers to proceed from the humble beginnings of manufacturing oxcarts to the sublime form of the berra's-blunderFerrari Testarossa.  And even if we were to discount the Biblical Creation story from our present consideration, the enthusiastic but fantastically unlikely expectation that a chance-formed paramecium eventually yields an Arabian stallion, by virtue of a common ancestor at the dawn of the world, only really makes sense if that Ancestor sprang from the full blown teleological intent of a Designer.

What would eventually be termed “Berra’s Blunder” by Phillip Johnson illuminates another hole in the Swiss-cheese-like logic of Science’s consecrated worldview: the idea that men are but the serendipitous byproducts of an unintended random sequence of events. The “Accidental Man,” if you will, is pure matter without essence or telos. Life, according to Darwin, is the result of the yokel universe rolling an infinite number of sevens while drunk on its behind from free cocktails; and we are just the latest busload of enthusiastic beneficiaries to roll into the Cosmic Keno Hall of dumb luck.

Right now, Charles Darwin may be rolling in his grave, having been set into bodily motion by the conclusion that chance alone cannot account for proteins which are made up of hundreds, even thousands, of unique chains of amino acids. And there is no life as we know it without proteins. They are the nano-machinery of the cell.

Such discoveries, such as the centrality and complexity of proteins to cell functioning (and thus to the functioning of all life), call into question the idea that macro-evolution’s mutations, combined with natural selection, are the twin engines of biotic transformation. Indeed, you can’t build a functioning hundred-chain protein, piece by piece, any more than you can build a functioning suspension bridge — and also drive across it at every stage of construction.  Cars cannot successfully navigate a quarter-completed bridge while it is being gradually assembled, so like Sinatra sings, it’s “all or nothing at all” — unless you love the water.  A quarter-completed protein cannot fulfill the highly-specific tasks necessary for cell performance. In reality, all of random evolution’s purely theoretically increments necessary to arrive at a viable product would provide no function, and thus could not be selected for under the theory of natural selection. Much like the reality of a bridge, the implication is that these proteins must be designed and constructed according to an entire plan and are non-functional in regards to their purpose until completed.

Nor does random chance alone account for the assemblage of such complex and rare proteins. Even if the probabilistic resources of the entire universe since its inception — every atom and every Eve, as it were — were part of the alleged “primordial ooze” (which exists mainly in the realm of speculation) the chances would still be astronomically minuscule for that mode of assembly. According to Stephen Meyer in Signature in the Cell, “Their [Robert Sauer’s team at MIT] most clear-cut experiments seemed to indicate that . . . the probability of achieving a functional sequence of amino acids in several known (roughly 100 amino acid) proteins at random is . . . about 1 chance in 1063 (to put this in perspective, there are 1065 atoms in our galaxy).”[pullquote]That roomful of monkeys is still typing away trying to get Hamlet right, and all we have to show for their efforts are an astronomical produce bill and the screenplay to Noah.[/pullquote]

Meyer also notes, “[Douglas] Axe’s experimental findings suggest that Hoyle’s guesses were pretty good. If we assume that a minimally complex cell needs at least 250 proteins of, on average, 150 amino acids and that the probability of producing just one such protein is 1 in 10164 as calculated above, then the probability of producing all the necessary proteins needed to service a minimally complex cell is 1 in 10164 multiplied by itself 250 times, or 1 in 1041,000.” Therefore, if chance can’t do it, and if gradual construction of life’s building blocks from point mutations won’t do it, that doesn’t leave much grist left for Darwin’s Mill.

Just so we are crystal clear, what we address are not the adaptation and variation of finch beaks (a case of micro-evolution) or bacteria’s immunity to antibiotics. Such micro-evolution obviously can and does happen. But this type of evolution acts on pre-existing information which occurs in an enormously complex form — allowing mere bits of information (or point mutations) to turn on one assemblage of genetic information instead of another: brown eyes or blue eyes for example. But there is no known process for mere point mutations to construct anything as complex as eyes themselves. At best, point mutations work like dumb dip switches: having the capacity (as lab experiments with fruit flies have shown) to either put legs on the top of one’s head or not to put legs on the top of one’s head (either could be useful depending upon one’s definition of “evolved”). But as for the construction of the legs themselves, GalileoOnTrialpoint mutations have never been shown to get you to the dance. And there is no reason to believe that this dumb process can, given sufficient enough time, mold something into anything else — a fish into a bird, for instance.

Darwin, to say the least, would be humbled at the vast complexity that biologists are only now beginning to understand – and they are themselves only scratching the surface. To be charitable, he had no way of knowing that the cell was anything more than an enigma. What was, in Thomas Henry Huxley’s time, considered a formless and somewhat magical “protoplasm” turns out to be a literal galaxy of library-length information and choreographed purpose — an amazing nano-factory of jaw-dropping complex proteins and processes.

The cracks in the foundation of Neo-Darwinism, and its unconscious assumptions, may point to the reality that its days are numbered as a paradigm. But nevertheless, the ideology undergirding its materialist gospel is still intact and accorded the hallowed stature of physical law. Like a medieval virgin, its pedigree is forbidden to be questioned by the devotees inhabiting its “Ivory City of Reason.” Ironically, the creed buttressing Man’s secular Creation Myth has been promulgated by fatwa to be revered as an unassailable article of faith, and infidelity to its confession carries with it a one way trip on a Siberian railcar to the outer darkness of professional irrelevance. Tough crowd!

Now, even the vacuous Miley Cyrus knows that Corvettes do not assemble themselves in a primordial soup, nor does Fred Hoyle’s marvelous Darwinian analogy of a tornado’s immense undirected energy fabricating a 747 on the outskirts of a junk yard pass intellectual muster— even if given 15 billion years to complete the Boeing contract. Moreover, a pocket watch found on the Jersey shoreline is assumed to have been the work of a craftsman, and to hold that an eternity of time and chance led to its haphazard formation could get you exiled to Cloud Cuckoo Heaven throwing back shots of Johnny Walker Black with Christopher Hitchens. That roomful of monkeys is still typing away trying to get Hamlet right, and all we have to show for their efforts are an astronomical produce bill and the screenplay to Noah.

It is axiomatic that a thing bearing all the intricate and structural artifacts of design should infer the existence of a Designer. A thing, through its own unformed necessity, does not spring from the vault of nothingness unbidden, nor does a child’s bedroom spontaneously organize itself without the threat of a video game embargo. Clocks wind down and babies grow old and die. We swim in entropy, and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is just a fancy term for the deplorable state of my once Grecian waistline.

Yet miraculously, whenever organic living things are considered, macro-evolution and its attending natural selection are the default explanation, even though the sheer complexity of a replicating life form as simple as an amoeba is orders of magnitude more complex than Hoyle’s 747.  And if you doubt this, consider the sheer quantity of aircraft that have been monkey rejection2built over a century and compare that to the dearth of life forms that have been birthed in highly controlled laboratories by geek scientists — and answer that challenge ex nihilo — without hijacking existing goodies from God’s refrigerator. Evolutionary alchemists: Command that these stones should be made bread!

To cling to the magical supposition that life spontaneously generates and self-organizes from molten pools of rock and water, knowing what we now know a century and a half after Darwin’s Big Idea, would make Galileo shake his damned head at how much Science has become a repository of reaction — at least in regards to biological origins, cosmology, and politicized hysterias like Global Warming. Indeed, it is no less than a clerisy whose auto-da-fe’ values the confession of orthodoxy prior to its inquiry into the truth of a matter. If Science’s inconvenient discoveries are to be continually shoehorned into the prevailing dogma like Oprah into a Halle Berry negligee, what does this tell us about Science being the only legitimate vehicle for the harvesting of truth? If ideologues masquerading as disinterested pilgrims feel compelled to hold Occam’s razor to Minerva’s throat, then at least do it with the appearance of grace and objectivity. One way or another, Darwin’s creaking hot mess is coming down — even as today’s Galileo mutters under his breath while kissing the faculty ring: “Yet, it moves.”

Such a dogged intransigence calls into question the verdict that where Science is concerned, her own apostles’ quality of faith is inferior to that of the Saints. To quote Jesus: “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great a faith, no, not even in Israel.” Such ardent certitude is greater than an entire field of mustard seeds growing at the foot of a mountain – waiting to be thrown down into the depths of the sea.

Glenn Fairman and Brad Nelson are the Clark Kent and Perry White of StubbornThings. We welcome your correspondence.
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114 Responses to Corvettes and Creation (New and Improved with Extra Cheese)

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Glenn, I don’t know if that is the exact poster that you are referring to, but it can act as a placeholder. If our knowledge of what poster was used evolves, I’ll replace it.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, evolution is “change over time”, so by golly, I guess the Corvette did evolve, as did many other cars (not to mention many other manufactured items). The most idiotic Darwinists are incapable of grasping the idea that using intelligently designed items as proof of random evolution really doesn’t work intellectually. Perhaps it helps that most of their audiences are equally incapable of seeing the point (and most of the rest are too supportive to mention such inconvenient details).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      so by golly, I guess the Corvette did evolve.

      And it definitely was the result of intelligent design…sometimes even exceptional aesthetic design.

      The Vega, however, might well have self-assembled from a junkyard.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        No, it was assembled by the junior high Darwin club after they discovered a bottle of Old Grand Dad in their biology teacher’s (Mr. Huxley) bottom desk drawer.

        I could be wrong though. It might have been the Gremlin or Pinto which Mr. Huxley’s class put together.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Are you sure Richard Dawkins didn’t have anything to do with putting them together? In the case of the Pinto, he would certainly consider that disproof of the concept of intelligent design.

          • Misanthropette says:

            Yeppers, and none of this begins to explain the Pacer.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Yep. I was actually struggling with whether to go with the AMC Pacer or the AMC Matador in regards to my junkyard schtick. I went with the Matador. But, good god, tell me that this doesn’t look like self-assembly from junkyard parts.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Mr. Kung, I may have been in error (caused by a random point mutation, no doubt). Although the Vega does look a bit thrown together, only self-assembly from junkyard scraps could explain the AMC Matador. Or maybe aliens designed it, “seeding” one of the car companies with design specifications.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Hmmmmm? Vega, Matador, Gremlin, Pinto, Pacer.

            I am beginning to believe there must have been something in the water.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Years back, a noted materialist/naturalist explaining evolution to an audience used a poster showing the evolution of the Corvette from the 50s to what was then contemporary time. The exhibit elicited chuckles from the crowd and only later did he realize the dimensions of his folly

    A more apt example of the true depth of such people would be hard to find. They come up with some simplistic analogy for the plebs as they think we are just a bit too dense to comprehend what they wish to impart to us. It is then the plebs who immediately note not only does the analogy not help to prove the intended lesson, rather it tends to reinforce the opposite lesson which is what the plebs have thought all along.

    This is another good tool for ridiculing radical scientific materialist Leftists. Maybe they don’t belong on the pedestals they have placed themselves upon.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s an interesting article: Evolution: An Objective Look. A few quotes:

     As I said, ever since college, I had been an enthusiastic supporter of Charles Darwin’s version of how nature formed. A visit to the Field Museum in Chicago a few years ago, and my naturally skeptical brain, changed all of that. It brought up a lot of questions in my mind about evolution sciences. I began pondering if it could really be true. The more I thought about what I saw, the more questions arose. The purpose of this blog is not to propose any answer as to how we (earthly species) appeared. The main purpose is to question and challenge the veracity of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Why? Because, if a highly accepted science is incorrect, true objective science cannot advance until the incorrect science is eliminated as a possibility. I would really love to see science find some sort of acceptable answer to the Puzzle, and with evolution blocking the road, it cannot. What I have found with my study is that the “science” of evolution is devoted to proving Darwin was right.  It is not in any way an objective science looking for answers. Information and testing is bent to prove the theory.  The theory cannot be modified, even though  supporters say it is.  There is simply no where to go from random mutations and natural selection.


    A major foundation of evolution is “peer reviewed” papers. These papers usually entail articles written by evolution biologists on subjects that no one who ever lived or lives on the face of the earth has the answer to. Such as the evolution of teeth. How were teeth “invented”? How did things go from “no teeth” to “teeth”? Why did that happen at all? And how did mutations form the complex dental designs we have today as humans? How do the cells that form teeth (ameloblasts and odontoblasts, et al) “know” just where they should be so they could do their job? How did they know just exactly when to start and stop their knitting of enamel and dentin so the teeth could form just the correct anatomy? How did the upper teeth evolve to exactly match the lower teeth like perfect puzzle pieces, specially when different gene pathways formed upper teeth and lower teeth?  This is an elephant, not a monkey, on the back of evolution that cannot be ignored or removed. And, of course, it isn’t ignored by bio-evolution’s writers. One writer, of course, there had to be a first, wrote a paper on how he thought teeth evolved. “Teeth came from fish, who had simpler dentition. Then they evolved into more complex…….” Of course the stories are made up, then “peer reviewed” by other evo-biologists. More papers are written. Species are cited. “These early fish……”  Paper piles on top of paper, it is told and retold so many times, the story becomes truth.   A whole mountain of papers are built, one on top of the other. On Google, there are over 1300 references to “peer reviewed papers describing the evolution of the dentition. And, now these are cited as evidence. Papers written about the evidence actually become the evidence.  So, if anyone asks, how did teeth evolve, they are referred to the piles of “peer reviewed” papers on the subject. And this house of cards is the “evidence”.  And if you speak up, you are challenging “science” and thousands of “peer reviewed” papers.

    You can also watch the accompanying video: The Evolution of Birds of Flight: It’s Impossible (Part 1).

    Here’s another good quote:

    From my experience debating evolution, I have come to the conclusion that evolution’s improbabilities and impossibilities are so believed, and promoted with such vigor, that is almost impossible to have a rational discourse with those that support it.  It is also obvious that the true underpinning of evolution is atheism. When evolution is being argued, the true argument is a religious one. Atheism is a religious belief just as surely as Christianity, Judaism, or Islam are religious beliefs. Atheism is completely dependent on evolution for its existence. Without evolution, atheism has no possible explanation for how we and all of nature got here, and it cannot exist as a viable worldview.

    And a nice coinage of a word: ev-illusionists

    • Timothy Lane says:

      An interesting piece, and I noted that the Galileo quote he used as an epigraph was appropriate not only to evolution, but to many other scientific issues — most especially including global warming aka climate change aka climate disruption. Michael Behe does cite an example of a recent good mutation: some New Yorker with a mutation that means that if you have both sickle-cell genes, you don’t get sickle-cell anemia (though you also lose the protection against malaria, which for many victims is no longer needed anyway). But that is only a single example. Behe thinks Darwinian evolution works at the species level, but not at much higher levels.

      One book I’ve read suggests that the key to evolution isn’t natural selection guided by random mutations, but symbiotic invasions (such as mitochondria and other organelles invading the prokaryotic cell to create the eukaryotic cell, but there are also examples in more advanced organisms). I’ve also seen a few articles that consider the current peer-review system broken and greatly in need of reform.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Behe thinks Darwinian evolution works at the species level, but not at much higher levels.

        I’ve heard spirited arguments for and against this notion. The argument against it is that natural selection can work only on an individual animal. It can’t “select” via a species. The counter argument to this (and, hell, at this point it’s all just linguistic tricks, for there is no direct evidence, so I’m not too worried if my paraphrasing is strictly accurate) is that genes don’t exist in isolation but are part of a “gene pool.” Certain genes become predominant, others fade away. And if a species is isolated, you get “genetic drift” and then new species.

        As Berlinski points out in his book, there are many examples of a species that supposedly evolved from another living side-by-side with that species, so this theory of isolation is more guesswork by Darwinists that gains a foothold only because it’s repeated often enough.

        As I understand it, Timothy, at least the methods of natural selection and point mutilations can’t occur at the species level, at least in regards to gradual change.

        One book I’ve read suggests that the key to evolution isn’t natural selection guided by random mutations, but symbiotic invasions (such as mitochondria and other organelles invading the prokaryotic cell to create the eukaryotic cell, but there are also examples in more advanced organisms).

        I haven’t read this book, but this “Lego building blocks theory” (taking existing modules and mixing and matching from there) seems to make some sense. It would get around the problem of gradual change (which, as Berlinski notes, is not what the fossil record supposedly shows). Modularity (analogous to modular homes) would allow for much faster construction of new and novel features.

        And it is consistent with a dabbling Intelligent Designer hypothesis — one who would sprinkle his genetic codes at, say, the start of the Cambrian and start the Cambrian Explosion and let it go from there (perhaps intervening here or there). At the start of this explosion He created 20 or so completely new phylum (which we could call, for sake of argument, the most basic types of legos and sub-legos, and sub-sub-legos, all which could be mixed and matched — not unlike an object-oriented programming language — within the phylum to build new things…with perhaps some unexpected cross-overs occurring from time to time between phylum).

        Presumably then any kind of “natural” evolution (however it happens) is then just a matter of stretching out or morphing the existing building blocks that exist in the basic phylum (or, really, within a species, with species branching out from the initial base-program phylum…giving some basic legitimacy to the paradigm of trees and branches). Perhaps a few genetic mutations here and there turns “3 legs” into “6 legs” for example. Anyone who writes code (Logo is a good example) knows that once you have the module to make a square, you can just call it twice to make a larger rectangle. And this is certainly a plausible method for instigating rather dramatic change with nothing but a single genetic bit of information — the equivalent of incrementing the genetic counter or “stack.”

        Embryology is still a problem, but then we’re just talking what-if. And this what-if sounds about as good as dinosaurs running up inclined planes as a prelude to becoming a bird, as shown in a second video.

        The more I think about it, the more an Intelligent Designer who is a software engineer makes sense. You have to treat this problem as a software problem, not a chemical problem. One can never “naturally select” in order to create whole chunks of new code. It has to somehow be written. But, yeah, from there (if the program is sophisticated enough) you could have vast changes in morphology. But you couldn’t likely get new tissues and such. You’d have to simply re-arrange the basic building blocks (and I’m assuming that tissues would be a basic building block, with other types of building blocks, and larger conglomerations, possible).

        Think of a fly’s compound eyes. If one is already fully coded as a module, it might not be that big of a deal to evolve (via mutation) 2, then 4, then 8, etc. And in the body plans of all animals there is a natural mathematical symmetry already which suggests that something such as this is already occurring. Having done a little modular mutating, natural selection could indeed then reward novel new useful forms that emerged and punish mutations that were not useful. This could quickly create new types of animals. But because the changes are relatively large when they do occur, established plans (such as a crocodile, which have apparently existed unchanged for tens of millions of years), would sort of be in a state of equilibrium (sort of in an evolutionary “hole” — like a marble finding a low spot on a table). When what you have works very well, then most attempts to mess with it — especially if such changes will generally be large — aren’t going to work.

        God creates the general layout. Nature and circumstances can tinker a bit with it, but generally the creator’s work will hold. And given the contingencies of existence and naturally changing environments, any good program is going to have to be able to adapt. It can’t be set in stone forever.

        But all of this is predicated not on “dumb luck” somehow creating the software in the first place. And I think Stephen Meyer and others have shown how impossible it is to build 100+ chains of amino acid proteins via random point mutations. But can you flip one register on the CPU with a mutation? Sure. That seems easy enough. Can you build entire modules? That seems much more difficult and unlikely.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Another aspect of this programming paradigm addresses the issue of “Can God make a stone so heavy that even he can’t pick it up?” And I say, Of course he can. Can humans do something that God could not? Humans frequently build things (computer programs and the hardware to go with them) that produce random numbers that cannot be predicted ahead of time – for things such as slot machines.

          And although a Supreme Intelligence might be able to detect the slight non-randomness that tends to creep into all human-made systems, surely He could do better.

          The above needs to be said in order to grasp the idea of God as a real-world (his world, in fact) designer. Clearly he can build the 20 or so constants that are at the foundation of the physical machine (the “fine tuning” of the universe that we see) and can build-in randomness (for whatever reason that He did) at the quantum level. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that free choice, growth, and even natural evolution (things changing and/or getting more complex) are possible only with some kind of randomness built in.

          This is necessary to address because all designers face design constraints, even if they are of their own making. It’s very easy to idealize God, call him a grand Creator, and then scoff at the very worldly pragmatic details that go into making anything that must function in the real world (again, even if that real world is of one’s own making).

          Thus it is likely a useless and fruitless exercise to declare, for instance, that all the species that ever existed were created by God as-is and never changed. That is not only limiting what a designer can do, but clearly in a world that has randomness, change, and contingency built-in as a design feature, any life forms you create would likely benefit from being able to change. Indeed, given changing climates and such, they might need to.

          In some sense, both sides are going to have to eat a little crow (“crow” not being my first choice of words). Evolutionist are going to have to accept an Intelligent Designer who programs the code and religionists are going to have to accept that species are not likely set in stone for all time, nor were they ever meant to be. (Yes, some aspect of things can and do evolve.)

          But evolution in this paradigm (and apparently consistent with the fossil record) is not a gradual, slow thing which increments itself and slowly creates new forms, morphing as it will with complete freedom in a fine-toothed way like Silly Putty. It can only deal in rearrange the data of the Designer, likely via modules, and thus any change will tend to be “clumpy” and necessarily swift (when it happens) and in spurts. And given the nature of contingency, even the Designer might not know ahead of time exactly what will be created. (Would it be as grand of a creation if He did?)

          And taking this slow, gradual, anything-can-be-created via the fine-toothed comb idea out of creation-via-evolution (we get a much “blockier” mechanism), we thus run into the sublime possibility (certainty, really) that Plato’s theory of forms may not have been that far off. One could say that God (supposedly a triune being Himself) has a number of “paradigms” or (and Jung would appreciate this) “archetypes” as basic building blocks, including male and female. These two sexes, for instance, are not just the products of genes and the supposed need to always evade pathogens such as bacteria and viruses by doing a lot of trading of genes. The sexes (and other primary forms as well) then become (once again) a very literal thing. And in regards to Biblical texts, there will be another point of coherence: Man is then indeed made in God’s image, sharing a type of consciousness, intelligence, and morality that does not exist of the same type as in the animals. We may share some of the basic components of the apes physically (thus there is no need to run screaming from this idea), and even some of the basic building blocks (tissues, etc.) used to make worms (atheists will love this). But man is still different in kind (an idea abhorrent to atheists).

          • Timothy Lane says:

            As I see it, the only way an omnipotent God could create a rock he couldn’t move would be to create one that made up the entire universe. No doubt God would find that uninteresting. Ultimately, that old atheist standby is just a parlor game. It’s like asking what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object (the correct answer is that one of them won’t live up to its billing).

            • Glenn Fairman says:

              Could he make 2 and 2 equal 5? Or does that go against the internal logic of the universe, which draw its laws from the creative emanation of God — the apex of all virtues—-the font from where all truth and order flows ….

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Given how damn complex and weird advanced mathematics can get, no doubt you could set out the laws of nature in such a way that the math could add up. To our minds the logic of logic seems inescapable. And maybe it is. 1 + 1 can’t help but be two. But, honest to god, I remember reading in a lay science book that someone once did a several page formal proof of this. (2 is the correct answer…still.)

                In curved space, the sides of triangles supposedly add up to more than 180 degrees. 2 + 2 could well equal five in some set of circumstances outside of “1984.”

              • Timothy Lane says:

                God leaves that to O’Brien — or perhaps his current avatar, Big Brother Barry.

          • Glenn Fairman says:

            Were we privy to the eternal dialogue weaving through the Triune God’s magnificent mind, we might discover that the elegant mathematics of reality was as simple as an act of kindness or a fervent prayer of a humble searching spirit. Indeed, God shaves with Occam’s razor.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              We could come to learn that there is a lot of “necessity” involved with being the Necessary Being.

            • Jerry Richardson says:

              I am enjoying, excited-by is a better description, this article that you and Brad have collaborated on. Both of you are excellent thinkers, excellent writers, and I already consider both of you to be two of my Internet writing heroes.

              I am a long time reader of Intelligent Design theory (William Dembski is my favorite ID writer—I loved “No FREE Lunch”) and I would very much like to see you and Brad tackle “Specified Complexity” in some depth with your car metaphor.

              Now to the subject at hand; Your comment, “Indeed, God shaves with Occam’s razor”; gives me a bit of a problem.

              I know what a common metaphor “Occam’s razor” is for parsimonious explanation. And your use of it as what “God shaves with” makes me absolutely envious that I have not thought of that phrase. I love the sound of it. You are indeed a talented wordsmith.

              However, there is a slight downside here for conservatives.

              Richard Weaver in his still influential book “Ideas Have Consequences” stated the following in the Introduction to his book:

              “…I turn to William of Occam as the best representative of a change which came over man’s conception of reality at this historic juncture. It was William of Occam who propounded the fateful doctrine of nominalism, which denies that universals have a real existence. His triumph tended to leave universal terms mere names serving our convenience. The issue ultimately involved is whether there is a source of truth higher than, and independent of, man; and the answer to the question is decisive for one’s view of the nature and destiny of humankind. The practical result of nominalist philosophy is to banish the reality which is perceived by the intellect and to posit as reality that which is perceived by the senses.”
              —Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences, p.3.

              I am of the opinion that you do not subscribe to nominalism. And as nifty as “Occam’s razor” sounds; it is, in fact, directly related to nominalism.

              When we say, that the best explanation is usually the simplest, we are being swayed, I think, by our sense perceptions, not our intellect, of what it means to be simple.

              I perceive a three-legged milking stool (I built one and used it as a teenager in milking cows) to be a much “simpler” thing to sit-on than a dental chair. But would the three-legged stool actually “make simpler” the work of the dentist in filling my tooth?

              There is a systems-science which studies complexity; but I know of no analogous discipline for simplicity. I don’t think there is any codified logic of simplicity. What is it?

              Does it have to do with the smallest number of parts, or is it the arrangement of the parts with the least number of connections? Or is it inextricable connected, as with the dental chair with whatever function it is intended to support?

              I don’t think we know; and if we don’t really know what simplicity is, how can we possibly recognize a “simplest explanation”?

              I prefer Einstein’s proverb: “Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

              I believe: “simple as possible”; but not “simplest explanation” is the way to go.

              The quantum world has surely taught us this. The explanation of quantum events is in no way the “simplest explanation” of physical reality; but, so far, it seems to be the “simplest possible” explanation.

              respectfully, jerry

              • Glenn Fairman says:

                I wouldn’t read too much into the phrase. It came to me in a flash, as most things do. What I meant was simple in regards to a dearth of contrivance—elegance is probably better put as opposed to the Rube Goldberg mechanisms that flow from the human mind. A self-replicating organic creature, although by no means simple, possesses such elegance, and beauty, and stimulates wonder.

  5. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:


    I think this subject must be very near to your heart, as it is, in my opinion, the best piece you have written for ST.

  6. Mike says:

    Glenn, all of your work is the best, …..Clever Beasts Who Have Lost Their Claws 1/6/14 grabbed me and slapped me up one side and down the other…. I was so moved, that I hand copied it to my journal complete with my own illustrations.
    I’ve been reading your work ever since…. Thank you

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    He can be no other way. He is the Great “I am”

    Glenn, I was just reading a little of The Science of God (a book recommended by Mr. Kung) wherein the author, Gerald L. Schroeder, says that in the ancient Hebrew or Aramaic, a better translation is of a more active God:

    God runs this world, our world, as the Divine perspective sees fit. Hence we are told explicitly, I will be that which I will be (Ex. 3: 14). The God of the Bible is a dynamic Force, known by Its acts, not the static God described by the erroneous translation of King James, I am that I am.

    I offer that not as a repudiation of what you were saying, or in the spirit of a perfectionist nit-picking from the sidelines. I just thought you might appreciate that perspective. Me, I’m happy with the idea “I Program that I Program.” I’m still enthralled by the idea of God the software engineer and would love to see what programming tools he uses. I’m guessing he’s using something a hell of a lot more user-friendly than C++, or so I would hope. Good god, if he couldn’t create something easier then he couldn’t be the Supreme Being. 🙂

    • Timothy Lane says:

      If you get too active a notion of God running the universe, then you end up like the Muslims, for whom the explanation for anything that happens is “Allah willed it.” This makes it hard to develop science, which overall (despite the flaws of so many scientists, who after all are human just like the rest of us) is a very useful field of knowledge and thought. I much prefer the Watchmaker or Programmer (particularly as a programmer myself) to Allah.

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Timothy said:

    I much prefer the Watchmaker or Programmer (particularly as a programmer myself) to Allah.

    I will ask all those who haven’t read Arthur C. Clarke’s “Rendezvous with Rama” series to skip the rest of this post. This is a very fine series and it would spoil it by giving away a crucial plot point. There are four books in the series. The first is the best, the second is okay, and the final two are somewhat pale reflections of the original. But it’s too late. By the time you’ve read the first two, you’re hooked and have to find out the answer to the main mystery.

    Anyone who programs (whether as a hobby, like me, or as a professional, like Timothy) knows that you have to beta-test your programs. Flaws of logic are easily hidden. The computer will do (not counting inherent bugs in the language) exactly what you tell it to do. No more, no less. And translating what the programmer wants to do into what the programming language demands is tricky, to say the least. It is very very easy to miss errors of logic, even in quite small programs or modules.

    So you have to run the programs and see if they actually do what you want them to do. There is no substitute for this. So it’s interesting to suppose that God himself would have to debug whatever program He is making. We can imagine that if He has an infinitely powerful brain (however that works) that He can do so quicker than you or I. But it’s a process inherent in programming. And if you look at how genetic errors can arise in the DNA program inside our cells, even God is subject to the laws of GIGO (garbage in, garbage out).

    One take on this idea is the underlying theme of Arthur C. Clarke’s “Rendevous with Rama” series. You don’t learn this until the end, but God has indeed been “playing dice” (as Albert Einstein refused to believe) with the universe – with multiple universes, actually. You learn this only at the very end of the series, but God has been creating various universes with various starting parameters (shades of the multiverse theory). And then he sends in his agents (basically intelligent robots) to scour these universes for life and take samples – basically creating a gigantic zoo aboard a truly gigantic cylindrical automated space ark. Presumably this then gets shipped back to God for inspection.

    Yes, it’s a bit of a clumsy tacked-on theme. Anyone who has the power to actually make a universe would likely have the power to build into that universe some kind of debugging program (or the equivalent of one) wherein any life that developed would automatically make itself known to the creator along with his (its) vitals. (Maybe that’s what quantum tunneling is all about in our universe…God’s parcel post). Again, the first book in the series is splendid, but it ran out of steam after that.

    But it’s certainly believable that God could and would create a universe and not know beforehand exactly what would happen – even if he front-loaded life with his own hand-coded DNA program. It would seem some amount of indeterminacy is built into our universe (chaos theory, quantum uncertainty, etc.).

    So maybe God did indeed flood the world and drown his creation (Creation 1.0) like rats, excepting Noah and his family. The thing is, that story is suggestive that God has built in a certain amount of freedom, randomness, and indeterminacy into the universe. Even He can’t know precisely what is going to happened and what is going to develop. (Take that, Calvinists!) He can tinker and adjust (as He surely did to start the Cambrian explosion). But he might think it just fine to sit back and let life develop from there…as indeed seems to describe the physical universe which, after given the initial conditions and thrust of being, went on to be what it would be in a plethora of galaxies and stars (and Doris Day would no doubt appreciate that).

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I read Rendezvous With Rama when it came out, though I don’t recall too many details about it. I don’t think I ever went beyond the first book, though. Incidentally, another interesting variant on this is Robert Heinlein’s The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, which eventually turns out to involve a similar form of debugging a universe.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      But it’s certainly believable that God could and would create a universe and not know beforehand exactly what would happen – even if he front-loaded life with his own hand-coded DNA program. It would seem some amount of indeterminacy is built into our universe (chaos theory, quantum uncertainty, etc.).

      Perhaps God created a universe with some amount of indeterminacy in order to allow the inhabitants of said universe room to grow through the exercise of free will and experience. So the indeterminacy is there for the growth of said inhabitants not just for fun.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        If we believe in free will, then we have to accept that there was at least some uncertainty in the universe. And if there is no free will, then we’re left with the dilemma — either antinomianism, or a malevolent god punishing people for what they have no choice to do.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          There were a couple of interesting posts at the bottom of Glenn’s article at American Thinker that touch on this subject of free will.

          One fellow quoted Einstein: “I am a determinist. I do not believe in free will. Jews believe in free will. I reject that doctrine. In that respect I am not a Jew.” – Albert Einstein

          Another fellow responded: “That’s why he hated quantum mechanics so much. It’s not deterministic.”

          That’s an odd quote from Einstein, but a quick Googling suggests that he may actually have said it.

          I cannot say that I understand the psychology behind the need to see things in a deterministic way (and religious people have sometimes gone in this direction as well). How can a man as creative and intelligent as Einstein not recognize that out of his own mouth comes this quote (which he could have fashioned in many other ways via his own thought and will) that is an expression of that non-deterministic part of him? And wouldn’t it be absurd to say that since birth he was always destined to say that?

          Since the eruption of the Big Bang, was I destined to look across the table from a friend and say the words, “Please pass the butter”? It’s absurd on the face of it.

          Emotions are very important things. But at times we must be willing to examine the pull they have on us.

  9. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    This “New and Improved” version contains more information about that original lecturer with the Corvette poster (Tim Berra) and a few facts and analyses from Stephen Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell” in order to give some context and support to the overall theme. Having recently read (most of) “Signature in the Cell,” Glenn asked me to find a few pertinent quotes and include them. I wish I could say that I wrote that “Noah” quip, but I did not.

    At Glenn’s request, this version has totally replaced the other version.

  10. Glenn (the lesser) says:

    The thing that has always struck me about origins science, both cosmology and biology, as incompatible with scientific inquiry is the inexhaustive attempts to backfill from the primary assumption that it must be materialistic (trying to test and prove a theory vs testing to disprove). At what point does the primary assumption be ruled in error and disregarded? It seems too simple to be ignored that we will never fully understand the origins of everything as we can not know what came before what is – what was before the big bang or where did God come from? So it seems a lot of time and attention has been spent over the last 150 years in trying to prove materialistic origins (i.e. disprove creation origins) when we are incapable of proving origins one way or the other.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      So it seems a lot of time and attention has been spent over the last 150 years in trying to prove materialistic origins


      There’s always the science and the philosophy components of things, Glenn. And a significant and influential number of today’s scientists have a very difficult time distinguishing between the two. And, really, many don’t want to. As Dennis Prager say, “Anything the Left touches it makes worse.” This now includes much of science. Many are intellectually neutered by postmodernism, Leftism (which includes political correctness), and relativism. These things cripple objective thought. Instead of going where the evidence takes them, they decide beforehand what must be, and then massage the evidence from there, or try to create it.

      There is a fundamentalist form of thought that invades much of science. For example, any metaphysics other than a radical materialist one has been associated with religion. It is thus verboten. Objectivists hold to this creed as well. Anything even slightly “spooky” gives the radical materialists (and atheists) the heebie-jeebies. That includes our own minds, which Leftist religionists such as Dan Dennett (and others) dismiss as a mere “emergent phenomenon.” That is how dedicated some are at trying to drive any spookiness out.

      Rather than a little epistemological humility and recognizing that not all that exists or that is meaningful can be measured under a microscope, it is typical for such kinds to close ranks and close minds. For any kind of narrow philosophy (whether talking radical materialism or libertarianism) to maintain its supposed coherence and complete and superior explanatory power, the various gaps in their belief system must be fervently denied.

      That is interesting because science itself progresses by dealing with anomalies…at least that used to be the case. Rather than wallpaper them over, they were declared something that was in need of a new theory (and thus a better, more complete understanding). My own guess is that I haven’t half the awareness of just how fundamentalist much of science has become, making Galileo’s incident with the Pope seem like a church social in comparison.

      Science, technically speaking, could care less if God is the author of all things (although it was the thought of a Designer that first gave impetus to science). In, let’s say, the traditional Feynman view of things, you don’t care whether the earth is warming of cooling. You just are interested if it is and, if so, why it is. (And, if not, why a steady-state earth should have suddenly erupted.)

      Those days seem to be gone. Now some of the biggest names in science are perverting science for political and ideological ends. Sagan was a great example of the prostitution of his craft for some political or ideological end. His “nuclear winter” idea was a joke, for instance, and was simply an expression of his Leftist attitudes toward America, nuclear weapons, and self-defense. Stephen Hawking isn’t much better in regards to the multiverse theory he’s hawking. Not all that exists is amenable to science (such as our immaterial minds), of course. But for a scientist to be espousing a theory that, in principal, cannot ever be tested shows just how committed many are on the Left to their, for all intents and purposes, secular religion of Leftism.

      And they are particularly blinkered by their religion because they do not declare it as one in the first place.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The problem is that scientists are human, and thus imperfect, but don’t want to acknowledge this. In addition, there is the shared political prejudice of so many, which allows them to get away with their follies. In addition, as I’ve noted before, too many scientists take the fact that science is based on testing theories (which leaves no room for supernatural explanations, generally speaking) as meaning that only testable theories can be true (and never mind that they can’t really test Darwinian macro-evolution, and have yet to test CAGW successfully),

        As a forensic entomologist once observed in a book I read years ago, theories are NEVER proven true, because all it takes is a single broken prediction to disprove them. Thus, the scientific method, properly speaking, involves trying to disprove theories, not to prove them. But this isn’t as much fun for those who craft the theories, and the corruption of science makes it easier to get away with (as noted above). (Incidentally, Michael Baden once pointed out that when eating with a group of forensic entomologists, it’s very unwise to eat rice.)

  11. Glenn Fairman says:

    The ontological/moral link is paramount. If man is an accidental beast, then his autonomy is determined and his allegiance is his own. He is owed no obligations or duties other than what he can cobble together by consensus. Without a Creator in the image of Christ, he can commit whatever act he would like by force or fraud. Oddly enough, he still has the capacity for virtue and doing good, but he no longer can justify these strange impulses as flowing rationally from Darwin’s wholly materialist theory. One must look beneath the bed sheets if one is to discern the true reason that makes us tick.

    • Glenn (the lesser) says:

      There is no doubt the objective is to unlink man from his moral obligation to the Creator – to horizontalize or relativize truth. But at some point, you would think, that bastardizing science to do so would be challenged by integrity. Still waiting.

      • Glenn Fairman says:

        and wait you shall….

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        There is no doubt the objective is to unlink man from his moral obligation to the Creator – to horizontalize or relativize truth.

        That, you could say, is a means to an end. Whether this is just part of human nature, or a part of human nature exaggerated by our current “15 minutes of fame” pop culture, it seems that everyone wants to BEEEEEEE someone these days. It’s as if being a person in a good society doing something productive and meaningful is no longer enough. We have to be Stewart-Smiley “special.” And for many that translates into trying to be an elite. The “salt of the earth” need not apply.

        So the point of unlinking many from a moral obligation to his Creator is an impulse, at least in part, to be at the head of a new priesthood. And to do that, you have to destroy the ideological underpinnings of the old one. Power is always jealous of power. And, if we go by the Kung Theorem, many of these elitist wannabes are unleashing their inner monsters in order to do so.

        There was a semi-interesting (although much too short to function even as an introduction, but pity the writers who might be edited in the direction of sound bytes) article at American Thinker today titled The Progressives: Modern and Postmodern.

        The article itself is not the point. But I did find an interesting comment by stardust2012. In it he mentions the books: The Naked Communist by Slousen. (I haven’t read this book, but it sounds interesting.) Of even more interest is a comment to his comment (by Jed) that mentions the book The Twilight of American Culture by Morris Berman. Jed gives a quote from the book:

        “The old university, prior to postmodernism and political correctness, entertained Enlightenment goals that energized it. The intellectual enterprise was an exciting one, because faculty members believed that it was possible to construct a total model of society, and of human life, and that freedom lay in this direction. All this is gone now, says Kernan; postmodernism brought to the table not merely the denial of truth but also the denial of the ideal of truth. Facts are now regarded as a ‘fetish,’ all methodology is ‘problematic,’ and sometimes even the highest forms of culture are despised. When feminists – in this case, Susan McClary – can say that Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is filled with ‘the throttling, murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining release,’ we see how nakedly sick the deconstructive enterprise finally is. This is not merely intellectual failure; it is moral failure as well.”

        Now, apply my “Not that” rule. That is, if you’re going to stand ultimately for little more than an ideological insurgency, then “not that” is sufficient. You don’t have to say what you are for. You just say what you are against. And, after all, this was pretty much the ideology and tactics learned by the hippie generation who wallpapered over their thin (if not moronic) belief system with grand bumper-sticker slogans such as “Make love, not war.”

        That’s not to say that there isn’t a crowd who doesn’t have antipathy toward the idea of a Creator. There is such a crowd. But we are also living in the age of the inflated egos, of gold stars earned for just showing up, of the idea of “my own truth,” of narcissism and the belief that we are such precious little snowflakes (Whittle) of such superior wisdom and compassion that we have little to learn from those who came before us. Whatever type of God is real, nothing in that whole ideology engenders one (even given all 56 genders at one’s disposal these days) to believe in an Entity that is larger than ourselves.

        • Glenn (the lesser) says:

          Nothing in this world fills the hole in their soul. Hence the deprivation of truth, beauty and goodness.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Nihilism. Although the original meaning was a lack of fixed belief, it has come to mean a belief in nothing in the sense of a desire to destroy — or at least to reject everything that is good. Modern liberalism is very nihilistic.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Nothing in this world fills the hole in their soul. Hence the deprivation of truth, beauty and goodness.

            Glenn, that’s certainly consistent with Dennis Prager’s take, particularly in regards to art. The general gist of art now is not to describe and cherish beauty but to hold ugliness up as some sort of special and privileged insight into the nature of things.

            You’ve heard it said, “You are what you eat.” If this is true, then what do you suppose that a steady diet of nihilism/Leftism does to people? That’s right. Nothing good.

            The ideology of ugly (Leftism) is not just an affinity for the ugly, per se. It’s also about taking the easiest route. It is within human nature to try to take the easy way out and to do the minimum that one can get away with. That’s what parents and mentors are for. They’re there to tell us not to listen to the siren song of those who wish to call “ugly” beautiful merely because it takes less work to create ugly.

            This quote from an Amazon reviewer of The Twilight of American Culture represents a good insight by its author, Morris Berman:

            According to the author, American culture, or American society, is in “shambles.” It is a society that has been dumbed down and hollowed out as multinational corporations have virtually penetrated all of society’s domains. What does such a society look like? In lieu of Enlightenment reasonableness, American society is kept in a superficial state of busyness by such mechanisms as the constant introduction of technological gadgetry (Internet, DVDs, etc), entertainment spectacles (Super Bowl, Olympics, etc), and sensationalism (Princess Di, OJ, Monica Lewinsky, etc), and infotainment, the dispensing of mountains of disconnected trivia or “information” that is not geared to inform. Kitsch, that is, “something phony, clumsy, witless, untalented, vacant, or boring [which is regarded as] genuine, graceful, bright, or fascinating” pervades the culture. There is a patina of vitality to the culture but it hides a spiritual dying.

            Although I think the kick at “multinational corporations” is just more of the same kind of mindless pap we’re used to getting from the Left. This insight about the central role of kitsch is a good one — if taken in small doses.

            One might notice from the above quote that a conservative critique of society often will sound similar to a Leftist one (and I have no idea offhand what this author’s point of view is, although I assume it to be a conservative one). The Left despises the middle class, including “kitchy” values such as velvet Elvis painting. Certainly no conservative thinks those represent high art. But neither does a conservative harbor a better-than-thou elitist mindset whereby he dismisses all that wonderful (and sometimes kitchy) stuff that is the manner and mode of normal lives. We can admire high art while not dismissing the lower stuff.

            The real problem is not velvet Elvis paintings but that such things (of other kinds) have been redefined as “high art” by the elites on the Left. As a conservative, I do not believe in “democracy” in the sense that the “will of the people” will self-assemble into some good and noble thing. It will not. We need leaders and we need the inspiration of good, great, and noble ideas. We need a type of “elite” in society, but one that has truly earned that designation by standing for something better.

            And at the most fundamental level, a reverence for truth, beauty, and goodness are a requirement for any society that wishes to live above the state of nature. The Left does not share that reverence. They typically revere the opposite.

  12. Glenn — loved the line, “…you can build a functioning suspension bridge — and also drive across it at every stage of construction.” That’s exactly the problem. It takes such fuzzy thinking to imagine a cluster of cells rearranging themselves into an eye and not question the impetus for such rearrangement.

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      It is very good. It’s Brad’s line……..

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks Glenn and Deana. And I’ll let you know when I have an original thought. I promise I will. But that’s pretty much a derivation of the “irreducible complexity” as characterized by Behe & Company. You can at least give me credit for understanding their ideas, I guess. Deana, you would have liked me as a pupil.

      And Stephen Meyer does a good job of developing this general theme in regards to proteins in “Darwin’s Doubt” and “Signature in the Cell.” It always made prima facie sense to me that you could “gradual” your way from slime (and I mean “primordial ooze” in this case, not ISIS) to complex life forms. This is the tale told in Richard Dawkin’s “Climbing Mount Improbable.”

      If the cell (as Glenn noted, and I expanded upon) is thought of as no more than an amorphous sort of “black box” with no other requirements than to sort of slime in the right way (and gradually), the gradual motif is quite believable.

      Anyone who has constructed anything out of Legos, Lincoln Logs, or Tinker Toys understands the power of the concept. If you take enough itty bits and put them all together in the right way, little by little you can build some relatively amazing and sophisticated things. (Forget that it would be a mind directing it at the moment.)

      But a theoretical hurdle presented itself when they looked inside the cell and saw the micro-machinery of proteins. It was not itty bits. Most proteins are made up of chains of 100 or more amino acids, sometimes chains of a thousand or more. And although there are some cases where one amino acid can substitute chemically for another in this chain, generally each has to be in a precise sequence or you get nothing. Incrementing your way their won’t apparently work. Nor will chance since apparently the number of possible amino acid chains vs. the number of functional amino acid chains (that is, proteins that actually do something) is truly astronomical.

      As far as I can remember being described, most amino acid chains don’t fold into anything stable or useful. It is very rare the ones that do. And unlike a skyscraper that can be built floor by floor to reach the sky, there is apparently no way to do so with a protein. It would be as if this finished and functioning protein represented a house made out of cards. If you were to substitute one “girder” card (1 of the 20 possible amino acids) somewhere, say, on the 16th floor for one “window” card (another of the 20 possible amino acids), the entire house of cards would come falling down. There is, as far as can be determined, no gradual way to build up to a long and functioning chain of amino acids into a one protein that provides a function in the cell. It seems to be all or nothing.

      And Meyer and others, for sake of argument, have figured that it requires at least 250 proteins of an average of 150 amino acids each to make a minimally functioning cell. And if one can “increment” one’s way from short and few proteins to long and many proteins, then no one has shown in the least how this could happen.

      Another huge problem is that one complex and functioning protein doesn’t do you any good. You might evolve one (via random chance, maybe) but then you have the problem of needing a whole suite of functioning proteins that all work together as a whole. And even that isn’t good enough, for you not only need this suite of proteins (the machinery) you need instructions to build the machinery that builds the machinery. And they both have to evolve somehow at the same time.

      I wouldn’t at all rule out some “natural” method. I just don’t think we know enough. But surely the inherent problem with gradualism (and a fossil record that apparently is quite short on showing this gradualism) prompted Steven Jay Gould to come up with his theory of “punctuated equilibrium” whereby evolution went in fits and starts. This was, at least, a better match with the fossil record, even if the mechanism for this change was still fueled by pixie dust.

      Of course, Stephen Meyer’s (and Glenn the Non-lesser’s) main idea is that only via intelligence do we ever see the kind of information that is found in DNA. I remain agnostic on this point because I don’t think we’ve exhausted the possibilities. What prompts the materialist fundamentalists to ignore some possibilities, including intelligent design, is that “they don’t want reality to be that way.” I’m willing to go where the evidence takes me. People such as Richard Dawkins are not.

      You can’t look at the Cambrian explosion, which contains notta in terms of precursor fossils, and suppose Darwinian gradualism was the mechanism. Some other mechanism was likely at work, whether intelligence or otherwise. But gradualism seems an unlikely cause. And when you glimpse people such as Dawkins using computer programs to try to prove evolution — when it is obvious to even the most third-rate programmer that the programmer himself is the intelligent designer — then you get a glimpse at just how desperate they are. And this attitude is no doubt impeding scientific investigation. As much as these ideologues claim the religionists are the problem because they want to teach Creationism in schools, they are not the problem. The problem is the religious bigotry and blinkered minds of the radical materialists.

      • Glenn Fairman says:

        can I get credits for that class?

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The Cambrian explosion is the greatest weakness of Darwinian evolution. By their theories, it shouldn’t have happened that way. Dawkins argues, reasonably, that there was plenty of evolution before then, but no hard body parts were saved. But until this is proven, it’s just a conjecture. I suspect Dawkins’s argument (if he articulates it to himself) is that Darwinian evolution is indisputable and requires plenty of soft-body evolution before the Cambrian, so that proves it. But of course, that would basically be circular reasoning, which makes me suspect that he never fully articulates his argument.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Meyer addresses the “no hard bodies question in “Darwin’s Doubt.” 1) There were soft-body creatures that were fossilized (some eggs, if I remember right, and if soft bodies can be preserved there is no excuse for hard bodies not to be); 2) if gradualism was true, there should be plenty of precursor hard-bodies; 3) it is fair to say after so much time has elapsed that the fossil evidence for gradualism is lacking because there was no gradualism.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            That seems very reasonable — except to Dawkins and his fellow Darwin cultists.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Timothy, my baseline prejudice is that I expect a “natural” solution to the problem of life, even if the cause of all of nature is supernatural, which I affirm.

              But I don’t demand that it be this way. That seems a quite reasonable disposition. Let’s follow where the evidence takes us. And regarding those things we may never have concrete evidence of (and/or things that are not amenable to hard scientific evidence such as mind), then let us fashion the best philosophical fit that we can, taking all into account, forsaking no idea as being too heretical to consider.

  13. Glenn Fairman says:

    This piece was picked up today as the Column du Jour at WorldNetDaily with a link to Stubbornthings.

  14. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Through Glenn’s diligent work, he got this article published at World Net Daily.

    As I say, it’s not a party until you’re hammered by the evolutionary fundamentalists. I’ll be keeping my eye on the comments section. Writing any article that rebuts secular/atheist/materialist orthodoxy is like jamming a stick in a hornet’s nest.

  15. Glenn Fairman says:

    WND tends to draw fundamentalist Christians. You may get sandwiched!

  16. Boo says:

    You are aware that cars are not biological organisms, they do not exhibit the properties of biological organisms, and they do not reproduce on their own and produce offspring with variable traits? It was an analogy. Every analogy breaks down if you carry it far enough.

    This column contains an absurd amount of misconceptions. First of all, evolution is not a random process, so criticizing it as such is a strawman. Second of all, the simplest life forms we know of existing right now do not consist of cells, so there is no reason cells had to be fully formed for life to begin. 3rd of all protein formation is not random, we’ve known that for decades, so Axe and Meyer’s probability claims are nonsense. 4th of all, there are plenty of known examples of mutations adding information. 5th of all, organized complexity is exactly what an iterative feedback process like evolution would be expected to produce. 6th of all, designers strive for simplicity, not complexity. 7th of all, you have severely mangled the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The 2nd Law states that heat will not spontaneously move from a colder source to a hotter source. You might notice that Earth gets a ton of energy from this big thing we call “The Sun.” 8th of all, self-organization is an inherent property of all matter. That’s why we have matter to begin with. 9th of all, Cambrian precursor fossils have indeed been discovered. Sorry, but you don’t seem to have the slightest clue about evolutionary theory.

    • GHG says:

      Cutting through the bluster, doesn’t it all depend on the origin of life and evolutionary theory is no more able to start at the actual starting point than is creationism.

      • Boo says:

        Evolution is a biological theory about the diversification of life. Origin of life is abiogenesis. Evolution is an extremely well supported theory. Origin of life does not reach the level of a theory yet. There are many hypotheses still being researched.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          So what predictions of evidence have been made, and then confirmed, by evolutionary theory. (Note that I don’t reject evolution, and have a large number of books on natural history by writers such as Gould, Dawkins, and various others, including Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish.) But I retain the right to ask questions about the evidence and the science instead of treating Darwinism as sacrosanct (as Darwinists do).

          • Boo says:

            Here is a tiny sampling of predictions that Evolutionary theory has made and have been confirmed. A simple google search will show you many more:


            No one treated “Darwinism” as sacrosanct. The whole point of science is to ask questions. I love how Creationists are always claiming that evolution is a “theory in crisis” because scientists are asking questions about it or revising it while simultaneously claiming that it’s sacrosanct dogma that scientists don’t want questioned.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Very good, though some of those “predictions” (such as the similarity of similar creatures) are of dubious value as scientific proof. Predicting that we will see what we already observe doesn’t test a theory.

              And if you think Richard Dawkins doesn’t consider Darwinism sacrosanct, then you’re a very naïve reader of his work.

        • GHG says:

          Cool – so you leave open the possibility of a creator/designer, or at least give creationism the same weight of probability as a materialistic beginning.

          • Boo says:

            As a Christian I believe God created the universe. That’s a religious belief however, not a scientific one. Science does not address the supernatural. An enormous weight of scientific evidence indicates that the early parts of Genesis at least up through the Tower of Babel are not literal history, but that’s not at all the same as science claiming there is no God, which it does not do.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Quite right, but many scientists are eager to use it to dismiss religion. Darwinists like Dawkins and Dennett (note that I differentiate between Darwinians and Darwinists) support evolution explicitly because they see it as supporting their christophobic atheism.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      You are aware that cars are not biological organisms

      You are aware of The Love Bug, aren’t you?

      First of all, evolution is not a random process, so criticizing it as such is a strawman.

      It’s a strawman to accuse others of using a strawman argument as your main argument without even so much as refuting a specific point or offering your own explanations. I’ll admit that we don’t know how life came to be. We can see how evolution takes place on the micro level. But on the macro level, the theory of Neo Darwinism seems to fall apart. The idea of small incremental change made some sense before the complexity of proteins and the machinery of cells was discovered. There is, as far as we know, no known way to “gradually” make a 1000-long-chain protein.

      Now, if we can discover a way, fine. I expect that it’s theoretically possible that we shall. But it doesn’t seem that the point-mutation method of Darwinian gradualism will get you there.

      The idea of “non-random” in terms of Neo Darwinian theory (something you might have explained if you understood it and were not just offering bumper-sticker factoids as if hitting macro key combinations on your keyboard) is that life-or-death — the very continuing of existence (and therefore the ability to reproduce) — is the “forward push” of Neo Darwinism. I certainly don’t dispute that as a possibility, even probability on the micro level. The difficulty comes in the fact that according to this theory the “forward push” must be in minute increments. And given the nature of proteins, and the number of them that must work together, the idea of incrementalism seems to fall apart.

      Second of all, the simplest life forms we know of existing right now do not consist of cells, so there is no reason cells had to be fully formed for life to begin.

      If you mean a virus, then that’s problematic because a virus isn’t generally categorized as a living thing. It’s sort of a ‘tweener. And whatever the case may be, a virus is just that: a virus. It depends upon other fully-functioning cells in order to reproduce. But, again, critiquing the apparent incompleteness of Neo-Darwinism is not to say that we have discovered how life came to be. It’s still a mystery. Whether the first life required a cell or not, I don’t know that we know. But it would require something like the information that is found in DNA. That gets to the heart of the problem with gradualism. There is no known way that biology can, via mere chemistry — and via small increments — create this information. If there is a way, then fine. Wonderful. Wouldn’t that be an amazing process to see? But there is no logical basis at present for believing that this can be the case. There is just a general desire and hope that this is the case by those who don’t view Neo-Darwinsim so much as a science but as a worldview. Scientific ideas can, and often are, countered and proven wrong or incomplete. Worldviews, however, are often hung onto stubbornly.

      3rd of all protein formation is not random, we’ve known that for decades, so Axe and Meyer’s probability claims are nonsense.

      How do we know this? I don’t claim to be an expert on proteins. I’m all ears if you know something that I don’t. But, again, you just seem to be hitting pre-canned macro keys on your keyboard that spits out these phrases.

      4th of all, there are plenty of known examples of mutations adding information.

      Please offer some examples.

      5th of all, organized complexity is exactly what an iterative feedback process like evolution would be expected to produce.

      Maybe. But do understand that saying the words is not the same as the thing existing in reality. We don’t know how life started. It may be an “iterative feedback process” (whatever that means), via intelligent design, something else, or some combination of the above.

      6th of all, designers strive for simplicity, not complexity.

      More words. You have stated nothing of relevance.

      7th of all, you have severely mangled the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The 2nd Law states that heat will not spontaneously move from a colder source to a hotter source. You might notice that Earth gets a ton of energy from this big thing we call “The Sun.”

      This isn’t an argument so much as another memorized macro.

      8th of all, self-organization is an inherent property of all matter. That’s why we have matter to begin with.

      Again, saying words (unless one believes in the power of incantations) is not the same thing as proving something or having a logical argument. In the sense that there was a Big Bang wherein all things were unified and undifferentiated, and then atoms and molecules, galaxies, and stars were formed, this is correct. The laws of nature, as we understand them, do lead to things changing form and grouping into things. As for “self-organizing,” well, that’s really the central question. Who is the “self” doing the organizing?

      9th of all, Cambrian precursor fossils have indeed been discovered.

      Great. Show us the examples. It is just one or two? If so, then that is not good enough, for the explosion of 20 or more new phyla demands a whole lot of fossils showing how all (or even most) of these gradually evolved. I’m not saying they didn’t evolve. But a lack of fossil evidence is problematic for the gradualism theory that is absolutely central to Neo-Darwinism.

      • Boo says:

        “You are aware of The Love Bug, aren’t you?”

        I am aware that it is a fictional movie. If you’re saying your objections to evolution are based on fiction, I have no problem with that.

        “It’s a strawman to accuse others of using a strawman argument as your main argument without even so much as refuting a specific point or offering your own explanations. I’ll admit that we don’t know how life came to be. We can see how evolution takes place on the micro level. But on the macro level, the theory of Neo Darwinism seems to fall apart. The idea of small incremental change made some sense before the complexity of proteins and the machinery of cells was discovered. There is, as far as we know, no known way to “gradually” make a 1000-long-chain protein.”

        And that has what exactly to do with the point I made that you were purporting to address? Evolution is not random. The fact that biology is complex has nothing to do with that fact. There is also nothing preventing proteins and protein chains from becoming more complex over time.

        “The idea of “non-random” in terms of Neo Darwinian theory (something you might have explained if you understood it and were not just offering bumper-sticker factoids as if hitting macro key combinations on your keyboard) is that life-or-death — the very continuing of existence (and therefore the ability to reproduce) — is the “forward push” of Neo Darwinism.”

        No, that’s not it at all. Natural selection is the opposite of a random process, therefore evolution is not random. Molecules self assemble based on their inherent chemical properties. Sorry, but it seems I understand this much better than you do. For example, I know that evolution involves a lot more than just point mutations.

        fully formed for life to begin.

        “If you mean a virus, then that’s problematic because a virus isn’t generally categorized as a living thing. It’s sort of a ‘tweener. And whatever the case may be, a virus is just that: a virus.”

        You don’t even see how what you just said supports my argument, do you? Wow.

        “That gets to the heart of the problem with gradualism. There is no known way that biology can, via mere chemistry — and via small increments — create this information. If there is a way, then fine. Wonderful. Wouldn’t that be an amazing process to see?”

        Amino acids form spontaneously under the right conditions. Once again my “keyboard macros” seem to be smarter than you.

        “4th of all, there are plenty of known examples of mutations adding information.

        Please offer some examples.”


        There’s even more you can find with a simple google search.

        feedback process like evolution would be expected to produce.

        “Maybe. But do understand that saying the words is not the same as the thing existing in reality. We don’t know how life started. It may be an “iterative feedback process” (whatever that means), via intelligent design, something else, or some combination of the above.”

        If you’re going to critique a term, maybe you should find out what the term means first. This is pretty basic stuff. Variation produces the iterations, natural selection provides the feedback which prunes them. IDists always harp on complexity, but complexity is not evidence for design. And once again, evolution and origin of life are not synonymous. Evolution is a well developed theory. OOL is still hypotheses being tested. The fact that we do not yet have a well developed theory of the origin of life is irrelevant to the fact that we do have a very well developed theory of evolution.

        “More words. You have stated nothing of relevance.”

        It’s not relevant to the argument that complexity implies a designer to point out that in our actual experience of designers they strive for simplicity instead of complexity? Do you know what the word relevant means?

        “This isn’t an argument so much as another memorized macro.”

        This is a pathetic attempt to avoid the argument. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics does not state that everything must always be running down. Even Answers in Genesis admits it’s a bad argument. Your attempts at argument avoidance are not impressive. They seem to imply that you are aware of the weaknesses of your own position but are afraid to address them.

        “Again, saying words (unless one believes in the power of incantations) is not the same thing as proving something or having a logical argument. In the sense that there was a Big Bang wherein all things were unified and undifferentiated, and then atoms and molecules, galaxies, and stars were formed, this is correct. The laws of nature, as we understand them, do lead to things changing form and grouping into things. As for “self-organizing,” well, that’s really the central question. Who is the “self” doing the organizing?”

        You criticize me for saying words, then admit my words are correct. Do you even read what you type? The “self” in self-organizing matter would be the matter. Matter has inherent chemical properties which lead it to self-organize. If you wish to claim this must necessarily be done at the direction of some higher authority the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate this and show it has some sort of explanatory value.

        “Great. Show us the examples.”

        Response #1 on this page has many examples:

        This stuff is easy to find. You just have to actually want to.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          This stuff is easy to find. You just have to actually want to.

          Boo, I’m not interesting in trading tit-for-tat barbs. That appears to be the level you’re at. I truly am interested in how life began, and how it evolved, to the extent it evolved. If condescension was an argument, yours would be ironclad.

          Have a nice day.

          • Boo says:

            Then why did you engage in barbs? Calling me out for behavior that you engaged in and are now pretending to be above? That’s the definition of hypocrisy. I’m presenting facts and you can’t deal with them, so you’re hiding behind this pretense of pretending to be above a fray you started? Really? Wow, what a cowardly hypocrite you are.

            Or was your reply just a keyboard macro?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          As far as I know, the only experiment resulting in creation of amino acids was the Urey experiment from 1954, which assumed an atmosphere of a sort that (last I heard) is no longer thought to match the primordial atmosphere. And I have never heard of any creation of anything beyond such simple organic molecules — most definitely not including chains of amino acids.

          As for random change, it’s certainly my understanding that mutations occur at random. Without those mutations, I don’t see how Darwinian evolution can occur (though there are other mechanisms available, such as symbioses, that may not be Darwinian but can result in evolution).

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Did you notice that the comparison of biological evolution to the (designed) evolution of a model of car was made by a Darwinist?

      But I will congratulate for correctly pointing out the flaw in the anti-Darwinist argument based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics. (It applies to closed systems, which the Earth definitely isn’t.) At least you aren’t totally wrong in your arguments (unlike the average liberal).

      So what are the Cambrian precursor fossils? How extensive are they? Are they sufficient to explain the Cambrian explosion?

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          The challenge that the Cambrian explosion presents to Neo Darwinism is that there is no fossil record of the kind of gradualism that one would expect to see. That’s why the word “explosion” is used.

          The issue isn’t that there are no fossils before the Cambrian explosion. The issue is that the record that does exist gives little or no credence to the idea of gradualism.

          Maybe space aliens seeded the Cambrian. Maybe God tinkered with the DNA. Maybe there is some other process that we haven’t discovered yet. But classical Neo Darwinian theory does not appear to be a good explanation for the Cambrian explosion.

          • Boo says:

            No, that’s not why the term explosion is used. The term explosion was used because of the diversification that occurred. When it was first discovered, we hadn’t yet identified fossil precursors. Now we have. Are you seriously not aware that science progresses and makes new discoveries? It’s not like religious dogma where no questioning or discovery is allowed. I just showed you some of the fossils that have been discovered. Your blithe denialism is extremely silly.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              And the article noted that the Precambrian still has a poor fossil record — right in the very first sentence. And it’s a debatable question (at least for those capable of asking questions) whether there is yet enough evidence. Since my high school biology text showed a fossil jellyfish from over a billion years ago, the idea that there was something is no surprise. The question is how much there was, and above all what proof there was of it.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Like I said, Boo, have a nice day. When you feel like you can have an adult discussion, please begin one.

              This issue, as I said, is not if there are a few pre-Cambrian fossils but whether they show the gradualism expected of Neo-Darwinian theory. Apparently they do not.

              Boo, if you wish to be a silly troll on this site, you won’t last long. It’s certainly possible that someone has found credible fossil evidence of the gradual evolution of the various phyla of the Cambrian explosion. If they have, I’m not aware of it.

              Any more insults of the juvenile kind and you’re gone. But if you’d like to have a frank and free discussion of the issue at hand, feel free.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Harry Turtledove once wrote a very short story for the “Probability Zero” in Analog in which the Cambrian explosion happened because an alien family had to empty out their aquarium, I guess to save weight for a take-off with a damaged craft.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Hey, that’s certainly a possibility, Timothy. Who knows?

              But my best guess is the gene-centric theory has blinded scientists from other possible evolutionary drivers. It’s a fair assumption that they exist (including the possibility of an intelligent designer). Such a driver as point mutations is not likely going to be able to explain such rapid appearance of diverse phyla, particular in the Cambrian explosion, via a gradual model.

              Saying “things evolved” is not an answer. Pointing to a few fossils is not an answer, unless those fossils show the gradual evolution of one thing into another.

              As Feynman said, we can’t be beholden to what some answer must be. We must instead look at what is. Many such as Boo seem to have a strong hope that Darwinism is true. And there are those who hope that there is an intelligent designer. Like I said, I’m going to stay agnostic for the moment and learn what I can. This is fascinating stuff.

              I think Meyer and other critics of Neo-Darwinism have made a strong case that gradualism via natural selection/point mutations isn’t going to get you new species, let alone account for the new phyla in the Cambrian explosion in that rapid manner.

              But I find his case for intelligent design, although interesting, less supported by evidence…unless it is a fairly air-tight logical argument that the only time we see that kind of programming and information, such as in the DNA molecule, is when it is a product of intelligence. I’m still thinking about that.

  17. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Right now I’m reading Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box. I’d glanced at this book before, but never took it up properly. I’m now starting at the beginning.

    I wish I had read this before contributing to Glenn’s fine thoughts. There is a hugely important point that Behe makes that is central to understanding this issue: It doesn’t particularly matter what the fossil record shows. The relevance of any theory has to show what is going on inside the cell and how that came to be. The theory of Darwinism was developed (as so many other theories of life have been) while the cell itself was an unknown “black box.”

    Behe starts off the book with a contrast in two methods and ways of thinking. He describes Richard Dawkin’s description on how the eye might have evolved, starting with a light-sensitive “patch of cells” and gradually moving to a complete eye.

    This sounds plausible until, as Behe notes, even that proposed “patch of cells” that are light-sensitive is a huge given. In contrast, Behe describes the enormously complex process in just one aspect of human vision. The number of interacting parts is staggering. To just say that you go from “A patch of light-sensitive cells” to the next supposedly small step (those cells being placed inside a slightly curved bowl so as to give an animal a sense of direction of the light) glosses over the fact – and it is a fact now – that the surface-stories are not interacting with the microbiology that must occur underneath. And it is in and through the microbiology that life must be explained. And that microbiology is far more complex than the mere shape of a finch’s beak changing over time.

    One can, of course, just wave one’s magic wand of rhetoric, as apologists of Darwinism are trained to do like seals. It’s easy to say “These are the various intermediary steps from point A to point B.” But such explanations gloss over the truly mind-numbing complexity of interrelated parts (each part itself a wonder) underlying the reality of the cell.

    These fanciful explanations, as Behe notes, are like saying that you can evolve a bicycle into a motorcycle by small, incremental changes. On the surface, it sounds plausible because bicycles and motorcycles share some similarities. Both have two wheels. Both are primarily made of metal. Both are a means of transportation. But the devil is the details. Making a motorcycle from a bike via random small changes is difficult to justify and prove, if easy to fancifully conceive. And none of these pleasing (to Darwinist) stories delve into the details. No wonder that guy used the Corvette poster. That truly was a bit of a Freudian slip in terms of the way Darwinists reason.

    Behe’s conclusion is a vital one in understanding any critique of Neo-Darwinism:

    “Modem science has learned that, ultimately, life is a molecular phenomenon: All organisms are made of molecules that act as the nuts and bolts, gears and pulleys of biological systems. Certainly there are complex biological features (such as the circulation of blood) that emerge at higher levels, but the gritty details of life are the province of biomolecules . . .

    Almost a century and a half after Darwin proposed his theory, evolutionary biology has had much success in accounting for patterns of life we see around us. To many, its triumph seems complete. But the real work of life does not happen at the level of the whole animal or organ; the most important parts of living things are too small to be seen. Life is lived in the details, and it is molecules that handle life’s details . . .

    Many people have followed Darwin in proposing that huge changes can be broken down into plausible, small steps over great periods of time. Persuasive evidence to support that position, however, has not been forthcoming . . .

    Thus biochemistry offers a Lilliputian challenge to Darwin. Anatomy is, quite simply, irrelevant to the question of whether evolution could take place on the molecular level. So is the fossil record. It no longer matters whether there are huge gaps in the fossil record or whether the record is as continuous as that of U.S. presidents. And if there are gaps, it does not matter whether they can be explained plausibly.6 The fossil record has nothing to tell us about whether the interactions of ll-ris-retinal with rhodopsin, transducin, and phosphodiesterase could have developed step-by-step” . . .

    “The scientific disciplines that were part of the evolutionary synthesis are all nonmolecular. Yet for the Darwinian theory of evolution to be true, it has to account for the molecular structure of life. It is the purpose of this book to show that it does not”.

    Behe believes that life has a common ancestry. He also believes that life does change and evolve on the micro level. But this does not account for the ability to make big changes and the origination of the complexity of interrelated parts of the cell.

    It’s clear from its advocates that Darwinism has become something other than just science. In his book, Behe quote Lynn Margulis:

    …Lynn Margulis says that history will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as “a minor twentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology.” At one of her many public talks she asks the molecular biologists in the audience to name a single, unambiguous example of the formation of a new species by the accumulation of mutations. Her challenge goes unmet.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One of the defenses of Genesis 1 (not as literal truth, but as a remarkably accurate metaphor) argues that the key to the Cambrian explosion was the development of light sensitivity and vision. The argument in terms of Genesis as metaphor is that this is why Genesis has the Sun and Moon appearing on the 4th day: they were already there, but that was when something could finally see them. The scientific argument is that vision enabled predators to pursue prey where there was some light, which speeded up evolution.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        One of the things one gains from reading about the complexity of the cell, Timothy, is the grand mystery of it all and how the word, “evolution,” is just a word, a bare incantation to try to make the incredible mundane.

        And you begin to reassess the question: Just which side is huddling in the dark, crippled by superstition, and demanding that things be as their dogma has always told them.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Several years ago, after I read Darwin’s Black Box, I tried to ask a biologist at InConJunction (which we attended shortly afterward) about Behe’s claims, but was unable to do so. The blood clotting process was what especially impressed me; you may recall that I’ve brought this up before regarding irreducible complexity.

  18. glenn fairman says:

    c and c was published on intellectual conservative.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Here’s the link. And I’ve been demoted from the byline. Ahh, shucks. 😀

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        But you are mentioned as a contributor.

        Give the bile the “Christian” Boo displayed, perhaps it may be less dangerous.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I had initially asked Glenn not to credit me at all. I’d like to be able to help any and all with their work (if I’m asked) without the problems of credit and such things. Sort of like what Lennon and McCartney decided to do. They decided to credit all their songs to Lennon/McCartney so that they could freely contribute to each others song, in large or small amounts, without much muss or fuss…or so I’ve read.

          But Glenn threw some bible verse at me. Something about feeding the ox as well. 🙂 Considering that St. Thomas was known as “the dumb ox” and St. Francis referred to himself (his body, at least) as “Brother Ass,” I will take that as a compliment.

          • Glenn Fairman says:

            you earned your hay, Brother Ox. I don’t know what happened at Intellectual Conservative. I sent the same copy to them as I did everyone else. I am not happy at how they credited you as an afterthought. I have sent pieces to IC before I even knew about AT and never even got a rejection blurb back from Rachel. I’m sorry about what happened.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Glenn, you know, of course, that I’m merely having a little fun. It was a privilege being able to help you with that article. You deserve the credit and I’ll take a few acorns for payment. I’ve certainly enjoyed reading the books and catching up on this subject…and continue to do so.

              • Glenn Fairman says:

                I have been at my place at the Colorado River in Az. with no wifi and only my wife’s incomprehensible smart phone that acts as if it has a few extra chromosomes. This article passed muster because of your contribution……period.

                BTW, I nixed that order on the superbit Lawrence of Arabia and just received the Blue Ray in the mail. Can’t wait to see it.

  19. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Having read now about half of Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box,” the “Corvette” part of Glenn’s article headline makes even more sense to me. I think I “get” now much more the absurdity of it. This is actually how evolutionists think. They become so used to telling stories about evolution that have little or no direct coherence with facts and evidence that it becomes extremely easy to refer to automobile design as analogous to how evolution works. Neo-Darwinists have become storytellers and endless rationalizers of their theory.

    Now, let me be bold and blunt. I also have a problem with the constant rationalizations of Christians. Who doesn’t roll their eyes when the survivor of a plane crash that killed a hundred says, “Thank the Lord for saving me.” That presupposes that the Lord didn’t care all the much for the other 100 people.

    I consider Richard Feynman my intellectual hero, although he was hardly a conservative. But he did have intellectual integrity. I think most of us here know how precious of a commodity that is, inside or outside of science.

    But most of my experience with Darwinists has been little different than my experience with Paulbots or Leftists. Everyone has some ginormous axe to grind. You can’t have an honest conversation. It’s as if they’ve tied so much of themselves into their ideas that should their ideas be proven wrong they would fly and flutter around the room like an inflated balloon that had just been untied.

    I make no pretense to being absolutely objective. I will tell you my biases. One of those biases is that I expect there to be a “natural” answer to the problem of macro evolution. But I could be wrong. But like Feynman said, and I paraphrase, you have to start with some point of view or else you could never get anywhere. You just have to be sure not to be too tightly tied to it.

    I will say that Behe makes a good case for “irreducible complexity.” I don’t necessarily assume that this therefore means there isn’t some process outside of intelligent design that couldn’t have produced the cilia, for example. But it does appear that Neo-Darwinism is an extremely weak theory in this regard. Gradualism seems a very poor fit.

    Part of the problem surrounding this subject is the enormous amount of latent religious bigotry tied up into the question. As Berlinski noted in his book (I think it was Berlinski), there is a pervasive mindset in science, particularly surrounding Darwinism, that if you admit even one little weakness in the theory (at least publicly), it gives aid and comfort to the religious. And nothing is more important to Establishment Science than defeating forever religious belief which they see as the cause of most of mankind’s troubles. (Hitchens: Religion poisons everything)

    I assume there is some supernatural Creator of some type whose purpose and nature is not known intimately to me (others, of course, do think they know much more). Other than that belief, I don’t have a dog in this fight. And even if I did, honesty would forbid me from not being forthright with exculpatory evidence that supported Darwinism. It would reflect poorly on any thinking person if one’s ego was larger than facts and truth.

    So let me tell you what I think at the moment: Neo-Darwinism is in serious trouble in regards to marco evolution, let alone explaining the complex micro-machinery of the cell. And probably most Neo-Darwinists know this. But to say so would give their enemies (and that’s surely how they think of the rest of us) aid and comfort.

    At the same time, jumping to “intelligent design” as a viable alternative seems a little early. I’ll hold it as a possibility in the back of my mind, but I wonder how one could ever test for that.

    I really find it fascinating to read about the amazingly complex system inside the cell. And although I’ve cut myself out of the loop regarding television, I don’t otherwise consider myself too far out of the loop regarding science. But what struck me is how little publicity there is regarding this amazing micro-machinery inside the cell. This stuff is far more bizarre than anything written in science fiction. This is real world-changing stuff. And yet it is almost as if these discoveries were never made. We’ve discovered the equivalent of a kind of alien civilization here on earth and it barely registers as a blip on the radar.

    One wonders if the relative obscurity of these wonders isn’t the result of an systemic chagrin by Darwinists and others who know they are on thin ice.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One might note that many of Darwin’s supporters, such as Thomas Huxley (a noted agnostic), supported the idea of saltation (sudden evolutionary leaps). Stephen Jay Gould’s punctuated equilibrium was basically a variant of that — long periods of virtual stasis with occasional sudden leaps.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        One of the points that Behe makes very well is that it is very easy for Darwinists to tell stories about what supposedly happened. But it’s another thing, as he said (regarding the intricacies of the eye): to tell us about whether the interactions of ll-ris-retinal with rhodopsin, transducin, and phosphodiesterase could have developed step-by-step.

        I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject. But I’m trying to at least get a few of the relevant details regarding the state of things. And Behe sells me on the point that it’s long past time that we stop telling these fanciful stories and actually try to explain how these various complex systems could have arisen, been built, or whatever. Simply to say “instilled some survival advantage” or “did arise” or “was advantageous to the organism” is now a dead language in terms of getting at the truth. And the truth exists in explaining the machinery of the cell. We no longer have to deal with tautologies such as “Survival of the fittest,” with ideas that might sound good but explain nothing.

  20. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One of the realities of Darwinian theory is that it a great deal of it is no longer about the science. It’s about the worldview.

    One would think that things such as the Cambrian explosion, the information/programming content of DNA, and the amazing cellular micro-machinery would be cause for wonder and for new theories and explanations. But instead they prompt what I’ll call “The Thumb-Sucking Response” where comfort, rather than facts, is most highly valued.

    Read an article such as this about the Cambrian explosion and you’ll learn very little about the explosion. But you will get the message, “It’s all right. Nothing to worry about. We have lots of fossils and transitional forms. And ten million years for gradual evolution isn’t really so short, despite whatever Darwin himself said. Here’s your warm security blanket. You can go back to your nap now.”

    Darwinism turns from a scientific theory to a bedtime story for erstwhile grownups.

  21. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    The latter part of Behe’s book, “Darwin’s Black Box,” becomes extremely dull. Stephen Meyer seems to do the same thing in his. The opening chapters are often riveting and then it’s like trying to sit through a long, boring lecture in some subject that you’re not particularly interested. Also, it doesn’t help that many of the concepts that he’s talking about need to be illustrated or, better yet, animated. But Behe’s first section of the book is highly readable and I do recommend it.

    Irreducible complexity? It sure seems so. The idea of gradualism seems a poor explanation. And yet not just Neo-Darwinism but an entire worldview depends upon it. It’s how things must be.

    But what if they’re not? I think we’ll gain some respect for the “intelligent design” point of view as scientists find out how difficult it is to create even minor new features in existing species. If super-computers along with the best scientific minds and tools find it difficult, how much tougher is it for basically undirected gradual random chance?

    One of the ideas I’ve heard floated about is the idea that there may be an innate intelligence in and around matter (not necessarily directly from the mind of a Creator) that gives impetus and thoughtful direction to the design of creatures. It’s an interesting theory in that there is no scientific means for detecting directly either mind or intelligence. You can only see the results of such things, and by inference, at best, much of the time. Who knows what ghosts inhabit what machines or things?

    It might seem loony to impart any kind of intelligence to a rock. But if we can be intentional beings, does not that mean that intentionality is something the predates us? Granted, this is a fuzzy concept easily amenable to nonsense. Nor should we give up assuming that our standard scientific assumptions (materialism) won’t lead us there (not as if anyone needs any impetus to makes sure this happens). But it’s those niggling things such as the information content in DNA, the seeming fact of irreducible complexity, and the incredibly coordinated micro-machinery systems of the cell itself, that are things that need to be explained that current theories aren’t doing a very good job of. And it’s those large unexplained things that generally predate a new theory or paradigm shift.

    Or we can go right along just saying that “Things evolved” and other linguistic shortcuts as if that was an answer. It’s such a widely-used technique it reminds one of a child telling his parents the elves must have taken his homework and that’s why it’s gone missing.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      In essence, this is the Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock (which Isaac Asimov used in his later Foundation books). Of course, as such it’s every bit as religious as Genesis — but not tainted with Yahweh and Jesus, which makes it more acceptable to some biologists.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Who knows? Maybe Mother Gaia silently screams every time we go fracking under her skin. However, I think we should give due deference to unborn babies who are certainly alive. Let the Left concern themselves more with that if they’re so damn compassionate.

        There’s no doubt that given existing phenotypes that life evolves. Genes (and other processes) infer traits and thus you can look at evolution, as Dawkins does, as “the differential expression of genes.”

        Result: Swedes tend to have blonde hair. Africans have dark skin. The English have bad teeth.

        Prior to seeing the incredible complexity of the cell, you could get away with saying “Survival of the fittest” and other Darwinian phrases. “Things evolve.” Of course they do.

        But does the evolution we see at the micro level actually, via natural selection, create new species? It’s never been demonstrated plausibly how this can work, but there are plenty of language-stories to say that it does (such as that it “gradually” does).

        I think it’s likely that Neo-Darwinian theory applies in some circumstances and not others. I don’t see how mutations generated over time can create new species, particularly given the complexity of the cell, irreducible or otherwise.

        Stephen Meyer makes an essential point, and it’s something to keep in mind when you hear people say that nature “self-organizes” all the time. As Meyer notes, certain types of order (such as the creation of a vortex) do “self-organize.” But such self-organization does not produce any new information.

        And it’s particularly worth noting this in regards to things such as crystals which do “self-organize” (and which, in doing so, create no significant information) even though order is increased. Meyer and other critics of Neo-Darwinism assert that there is nothing intrinsic in chemistry that can create the order and information we see in life.

        That is to say, there is nothing about the natural affinity that the atoms and elements have for each other that can likely build the kind of complex systems we see in cells. Thus “self-organize” can become one of those tricks of language. It sounds as if someone is saying something significant but they are not.

  22. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    BTW, I nixed that order on the superbit Lawrence of Arabia and just received the Blue Ray in the mail. Can’t wait to see it.

    I smell a new article coming on…maybe something like “Corvettes and Lawrence.” There are just a few movies that ought to be seen in the highest quality, such as “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Forbidden Planet,” otherwise I’m not that fussy.

  23. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s an article that Glenn brought to my notice that intersects on the general topic of “Oh my God, how friggin’ amazing can the cell get?”

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      does the bacterium flagella seem to bear the marks of design or is it just serendipity? I mean, O-rings and bushings for crying out loud…..

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        The only think lacking, Glenn, is the equivalent “Made in China” sticker. But perhaps God doesn’t sign his work. I don’t know. He’s a little lax in the “branding” department.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The sequencing they mention for such things as developing the ear canal hairs needed for proper hearing is also, of course, a key aspect of blood clotting, and is the reason why that was one of Behe’s most persuasive examples for me.

    • GHG says:

      Truly fascinating.

  24. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:


    I read this article by David Archibald yesterday and had both flashback pangs (many of these views I once held) and bursts of snickering (some of these views are just so out of date): Genes, Mutations, and Behavior.

    First, let me agree that genes, indeed, can and often do play a Tinker-Toy-like role in human construction and behavior. That is, there are instances where one gene (missing, damaged, or as opposed to its allele) will give a different result. Sort of a binary switch. Blue eyes instead of green.

    But that is not the whole story, or even most of the story, and certainly not the most important part of the story. One might take eye-color changes for granted, a mere trick of this gene or that gene. And if one’s knowledge is willfully superficial, that is a most satisfying story. But forgotten is the system that even allows for this switch, which has to be far more complex indeed than binary.

    It’s the system higher up that is built to make use of this system of genes (and natural selection) that is the marvel. And it is not reducible to a gene-centric view. Whatever or whoever created all this, the gene-centric view is as embarrassingly out-of-date as phrenology.

    So it was a bit of a surprise to see this pseudo-scientific article in American Thinker…pseudo-social as well, for it picks up themes of eugenics and a quite materialist and amoral view of humanity.

    Hope you’re lurking out that, Glenn.

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