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Posted by on Jun 19, 2013 in Book Review, Creationism, Humor, Skepticism | 43 comments

Darwin’s Doubt – A Prediction

Those of you current on the creationist scene will no doubt know that Stephen “Kansas Hearings” Meyer has a new book coming out.  Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (yes, that’s the title) was written by one of the founding members of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (which was formerly called the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture).

In this book (unlike his previous book Signature in the Cell and the dozen or so other books by ID proponents), Meyer lays out the case for Intelligent Design.  Except, we all know that he won’t.  Indeed, I am so confident that this book will be utterly ignored by the scientific community (except for purposes of ridicule and to teach how critical thinking doesn’t work), that I will spend a few minutes to predict (that hallmark of actual science) what this book will contain (and more importantly not contain) (and, in this process, attempt to generate a record breaking number of clauses within a single sentence (I think the record holder is something like 18 , but I can and will do better)) (crud, I lost track of parentheticals).

Prediction the First: There will not be a calculation or measurement of complexity, complex specified information, and/or information in the entire book.  Now to clarify, I don’t mean Meyer saying “the random chances of x protein appearing out of nothing is blah blah blah”.  That’s correct as far as it goes, but it does not mean anything, besides the fact that is not how proteins are formed in the first place.

Falsification of Prediction the First: Meyer chooses an organism and/or DNA and/or protein sequence and calculates the information content (explaining how the information content is different from the same length of random nucleotides and/or amino acids.  If he goes with the ID myth that ‘meaning’ and/or ‘function’ is somehow involved, then he will have to define ‘meaning’ and/or ‘function’ and present a sound method for determining the value.  This means that any random scientist, given Meyer’s instructions, will generate the same result as Meyer does in the book.

Prediction the Second: There will be at least a chapter devoted to the conspiracy against ID in academic circles.

Prediction the Third: Meyer will spend a chapter or section talking about the Cambrian explosion.  He will ignore all current research in the Cambrian and Precambrian periods and instead present stale (and wrong) notions such as “all body plans appeared in the Cambrian” and “there are no transitionals” and “there was almost no life prior to the Cambrian”.

Prediction the Fourth: Meyer will use a strawman of evolution and spend between two and three chapters attacking that strawman.  Possible attacks are “evolution is completely random” (which is untrue), “evolution is undirected” (if you mean by an intelligence, this is true, if you mean totally random, it’s not true), or similar old attacks.

Prediction the Fifth: Meyer’s single ‘peer-reviewed’ paper was published by a fellow creationist, in an obscure journal, that focused on taxonomy.  The paper he published (which has subsequently pulled by the editors of the journal) was a review paper and contained zero new information, research, or conclusions for that matter.  The fifth prediction is that the vast majority of this book will be based on that work.

There you go.

Honestly, if Meyer actually makes a scientific case for ID, no one will be more shocked than I am.  After all, if he had evidence to support him, then he could publish in a real journal instead of publishing a ‘science book’ by HarperOne, which is the spiritual division of Harper. From HarperOne’s website:

The most important books across the full spectrum of religion, spirituality, and personal growth, adding to the wealth of the world’s wisdom by stirring the waters of reflection on the primary questions of life while respecting all traditions.

I don’t see; ‘peer-review’, ‘science’, ‘biology’, ‘origins of life’, or anything else related to evidence-based reasoning there.

What I would like, is for anyone who is willing to purchase this drivel and attempt to read it (without losing IQ points in the process) to cite page numbers and snippets of text that prove my predictions wrong (especially the first and third predictions).

If anyone can do this, then I will purchase a full copy of the book and review it, in total… chapter-by-chapter here.  If there is reasonable attempts to discredit my first and third predictions, then I will, again, purchase the book and review it.

Any one can play, but please don’t go and buy this drivel just to try and prove me wrong.  Although, if an ID proponent is convinced that this book contains sufficient evidence to change my mind, then I will happily accept a review copy (e-mail me for my address) and do the same chapter-by-chapter review.

My final prediction is that all of my predictions are correct.

 

UPDATE: Nick Matzke published a brief review of Darwin’s Doubt at Panda’s Thumb. It appears that at least three of my predictions are totally confirmed.  I severely underestimated the amount of Cambrian explosion material… apparently Meyer is under the mistaken assumption that animal life appeared in the Cambrian, which is why I was confused.

Ah well, no point in buying the book.  At least books that admit that they are lies are entertaining… I doubt this book is even that.  If anyone wants to send me a freebie, I’ll take it, but please don’t buy it new and support this charlatan.

  • RBH

    A “brief review”?? That’s a remarkable under-statement! :)

    RBH

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      Well, Nick didn’t do a chapter-by-chapter deconstruction like I would have… well as much as I could have handled before screaming in frustration and throwing the book into the fireplace.

  • Galkat

    “Darwin’s Doubt is by far the most up-to-date, accurate, comprehensive and in-depth review of the evidence from all relevant scientific fields that I have encountered in 40 years of studying the Cambrian explosion. An engaging investigation of the origin of animal life and a compelling
    case for intelligent design.”

    Dr. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, Senior Scientist (Biology), Max Planck Institute –
    See more at:
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/06/more_biologists073591.html#sthash.U1WQ8RiH.dpuf

    – See more at:
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/06/more_biologists073591.html#sthash.U1WQ8RiH.dpuf

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      The same Dr. Lonnig that is on the editorial board of BIO-Complexity, the pro-ID journal?

      The one that has this to say. “To achieve its aim, BIO-Complexity is founded on the principle of critical exchange that makes science work. Specifically, the journal enlists editors and reviewers with scientific expertise in relevant fields who hold a wide range of views on the merit of ID, but who agree on the importance of science for resolving controversies of this kind.”

      The one whose editorial board includes Bill Dembski, Michael Behe, Jonathon Wells, and Richard Sternberg (who published Meyer’s “paper” in a journal unsuited for it with no peer-review.

      Of course he’s going to like it. He’s a creationist with the rest of them.

      Oh, I wouldn’t consider “evolutionews” a reliable source of anything.

      • Galkat

        Your committing the genetic fallacy.

        • SmilodonsRetreat

          And you are committing the opposite. You’re accepting the comments of a known pro-ID reviewer and ignoring comments from non-pro_ID reviewer.

          Further, I note that the review you supply doesn’t actually talk about the science involved. Other have shown that Meyer has numerous, fundamental mistakes in the science of phylogeny (for example).

          Finally, let’s give an analogy. You visit a used car dealership and ask the salesman about which is the best car. He describes the virtues (without specifics) of a particular vehicle… and.. by the way… I have one of those for sale right here.

          Is it a genetic fallacy to consider the source of a comment or suggestion? I don’t think so. I think it’s being skeptical to consider the source.

          I never said, BTW, that we should ignore Meyer’s work or Lonnig’s review solely because of who they are. I say that we should ignore Meyer’s work because it is fundamentally wrong in many, many ways (see Nick’s critque) and since Lonnig doesn’t do anything to support Meyer’s work in regards to those errors, then it’s safe to say that he has another reason for promoting the book.

          Tell you what, find me a biologist who has read the book and is not a member of the discovery institute, on the board of BIO-complexity, or a member of a creationist organization. Then tell me that person likes the book and thinks that all the science is valid.

          I’ll bet you can’t.

          • Galkat

            Your last paragraph is still stuck in the genetic fallacy. Where did I say I was ignoring Matzke, even if he is under qualified? I am looking forward to reading the book but have not yet received my copy. Once I have read it I will evaluate matzke’s review, and the others, to see if they represented the book accurately. I simply added some much needed balance by providing reviews by properly qualified scientists. You seem to propose that the standard for acceptance of a scientist’s opinion is prior commitment to your position, despite qualification. I don’t fear contrary opinions and/or attempt to dismiss them because I am an actual skeptic. I will allow the actual scientists to speak to the issues, so should you.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            I have. Unless something new and earthshaking comes out of the book, which no one has noticed yet… the science is wrong.

            Which makes it curious why a plant geneticist would support a book that is wrong. It’s not even wrong, it’s fundamentally mistaken. As Nick says, even reading the wikipedia articles would show that Meyer is wrong.

            Besides, if Meyer actually had things like evidence, a testable hypothesis, and data to support him, then he wouldn’t publish in a book. He’d publish in a peer-reviewed journal.

            I am a skeptic. However, I’ve studied this subject for a long time. Meyer’s work is useless.

            Tell you what, you read the book when you get it and answer my challenge in the post. Show me where Meyer’s work falsifies my predictions above.

          • Galkat

            You have not even read the book but yet proclaim:
            “the science is wrong.” “even reading the wikipedia articles would show that Meyer is wrong.” Well as long as wiki says so! LOL.

            What other science BOOKS are published in peer reviewed journals? Peer review is basically submitting work for review to accredited scientists prior to publication. This is exactly what Meyer did with Scientist’s like George Church, Harvard Geneticist. You can find plenty of peer reviewed ID papers but as you have already demonstrated you don’t care about the qualifications of the scientist or the journal they publish in, only if they or the journal have a prior commitment to your viewpoint, some skeptic.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            Perhaps you should read the rebuttal article I linked to.

          • Galkat

            I have and look forward to re-reading it after I have read the book.

            Perhaps you should read the book.

            All the best

          • http://dpreviewsucks.blogspot.com/ The whole truth

            Here’s something about meyer and associates that is interesting to read:

            http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/vise_strategy_undone_kitzmiller_et_al._v._dover_area_school_district

          • http://dpreviewsucks.blogspot.com/ The whole truth

            Galkat said:

            “You can find plenty of peer reviewed ID papers…”

            Links please.

          • Galkat

            Far to many to link to but easy to find if you start looking (as you likely already know). Perhaps you only accept journals which have a prior commitment to your viewpoint and like the blog author dismiss ones like Bio-complexity. If so your “thinking” is sure to be safe.

          • http://dpreviewsucks.blogspot.com/ The whole truth

            Far too many, eh? How about links to ten?

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            Let’s see, Meyer’s ONE paper was pulled by the journal. It wasn’t new and just a reinterpretation of others work.

            Marks and Behe have a few papers, but they discuss issues that aren’t relevant to actual biology (see the improbable argument below)..

            Axe and Granger produce a few papers, but they are just knock sims and also don’t directly apply to anything that relevant between ID and evolution. There are a few others, those are even worse and published in really obscure journals like “The Journal of Architecture and Design”… not exactly the bleeding edge of Biology journals.

            Anyway, if you can even find one that concludes the Intelligent Design is the only method by which any life on this planet can exist, I would be really surprised. Just a simple literature review shows that not to be the case.

          • http://dpreviewsucks.blogspot.com/ The whole truth

            Galkat, I took a look at the biocomplexity site. I’ve looked before but it has been awhile.

            I noticed an article by axe that’s titled:

            “The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds”

            So-called “ID papers” and arguments are virtually always just attacks on evolution and evolutionary theory, and I can’t think of anything that IDers have put forth that hasn’t been soundly refuted, and I’ve been paying pretty close attention.

            Are there any particular “ID papers” or arguments that you think are solid arguments (including evidence) FOR intelligent design (aka creation)? And can you provide any scientifically testable or already tested evidence that supports your chosen god as ‘the designer-creator’?

          • http://dpreviewsucks.blogspot.com/ The whole truth

            Galkat, you say that Matzke is under qualified, but you obviously think that meyer is qualified to speak on subjects like biology, paleontology, etc.

            Will you please provide links to the peer reviewed, published papers that meyer has authored or contributed to on the relevant subjects? I would especially like to see meyers’ history of finding, extracting, preparing, studying, and explaining fossils from the Cambrian and any other period.

          • Guest

            “Where did I say I was ignoring Matzke, even if he is under qualified?”

            Right there.

            He has a PhD in evolutionary biology, which is a damn sight better than Meyer’s ‘qualifications’. He mentions him making the transition to post doc research as a reason for why this is only a rough draft of a review (but still an impressive piece of work, IMO, and yes I read—and refuted—Luskin’s cheesy response). If you had read Matzke’s review, you would have seen this because it’s displayed at the top of the page. Instead, you implied he only had a bachelor’s degree. Ergo, you ignored Matzke’s review and got your misinformation from some creationist propaganda mill instead.

    • Evilutionist

      Instead of belittling Matzke, what if you’d really address the Cambrian with arguments of your own, showing that you know what you are talking about? Referencing hype from people with a pro-id bias is not the most convincing of arguments. You may not like it or agree with me, ten years of watching the ID vs. science debate have left me with skepticism against the ID proponent crowd.

      But I understand it is an easy way out to attack real scientists rather than taking a close look at the record of prominent cdesignproponentsists like Dembski or Behe.

      • Galkat

        Leading scientists recommending the book seems unconvincing that it is worth a read huh. Instead I should have an internet debate with you and your 10 years of who knows what. I certainly don’t know everything and I have know reason to suspect that you would either. More importantly the subject of the post & the reviews are the new book that neither you or I have read yet. Hmmmn. I find it interesting that the peanut gallery is so against a book they have not read, even when it is highly recommended by a Harvard geneticist who is also an evolutionist.

        Think I will read the book as recommended by the actual scientists listed, I really enjoy thinking you are capable of debating books you have not read. You must be smmmmaarrrt.

        • Test Beaker

          Appeal to authority: the “leading scientists” are not experts in the content of the book. Matske, on the other hand, is.

          Further, Dean Koontz is a science fiction author. Ironic that you have to rely on a FICTION author to endorse a “non-fiction” book. Most of the reviews I’ve read have talked about how readable the book is.

          Tell me, why wasn’t this published as a peer-reviewed paper rather than direct to-the-public offering?

  • RexTugwell

    You know, Smilodon, I’ve tried to give you the benefit of the doubt. However, you’ve created the perfect storm with your open question: “Is there a point when you shouldn’t bother correcting someone’s idiocy?”. In addition to your open question, your transparent attempt to demonstrate your aptitude in mathematics with your recent “Basic Algebra…” post and now your smartass predictions of “Darwin’s Doubt” was the final straw. You may want to read “Darwin’s Doubt”, especially chapters 9 & 10, so Dr. Meyer can school you in a few things. I’m going to send you a copy so watch for my email.

    Your “Weaknesses of Evolution – Part 1 – Origins of Life” contains a fundamental mathematical mistake. Ironic don’t you think? You came up with a probability of 1 in 2.21996 x 10^43. I looked at that number and being familiar with the works of Stephen Meyer knew it was wrong. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how you arrived at that probability since no calculations were provided. More irony since you always accuse Meyer and Dembski’s works of being void of calculations. Anyway, it finally dawned on me that you transposed the base and exponent. Thus betraying the fact that you haven’t even done these simple calculations too often. Or you don’t understand combinatoric inflation which you can learn about in “Darwin’s Doubt” also!

    Instead of 147^20, you should have calculated 20^147. This gives a probability of 1 in 1.78405 x 10^191 !! That’s what Dembski calls a hyperfinite number and that’s why proteins can’t form by purely material/chemical processes. There aren’t enough quantum events in the lifespan of the universe to even come close to forming a short protein by chance. That’s only one. Basic life needs at least 250 proteins. Meyer makes the case in his new book. Go have the brainiacs in your office double check the math if need be.

    I waited for one of your readers to point out the mistake but realized that skeptics aren’t really the critical thinkers they claim to be. Now you’re still likely to fall back on evolution, mutations and selection. However, the post was about the Origin of Life and you started out by saying “First of all, origins of life is a common area of confusion. Until self reproduction occurs then evolution cannot occur. Therefore, the origin of life is (technically) not a problem with evolution (or even biology), but instead **IS A [sic] ISSUE WITH CHEMISTRY**.” [Emphasis mine] Unbelievably you contradict yourself shortly thereafter by saying “It’s a darn good thing that biology and evolution don’t work this way isn’t it?” Duh!

    Here’s my prediction: you’re going to make the correction and in the future you’re going to show less hostility and more humility and understanding toward my creationist brothers and sisters.

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      Considering who this is coming from, I really couldn’t care less.

      The problem with hyper finite numbers or whatever Dembski wants to call them is that

      PROTEINS DON’T FORM THAT WAY

      You (can Dembski and Meyer and Behe and whomever else) can make the argument that x number is too improbable to occur randomly. And it doesn’t matter a damn bit to anything that happens in reality.

      There is not a single protein in any organism alive today that formed randomly. There is probably not a single protein in any living thing EVER that formed randomly. Because once replication begins, then evolution takes over and nothing forms completely randomly from then on.

      This is the central dogma of molecular biology and every ID proponent who pushes improbability has either forgotten this or chosen to ignore it.

      Everything else is just words.

      My predictions of Darwin’s Doubt stand. I’ll wait for your e-mail.

    • http://dpreviewsucks.blogspot.com/ The whole truth

      Rex, what’s there to understand about you and your creationist brothers and sisters besides the fact that you all believe in and push ridiculous, impossible, religious fairy tales, and that you want to ruin science and cram your religious dogma into every aspect of everyone’s life?

      Throwing big numbers around doesn’t support ‘God-did-it’. Nothing supports ‘God-did-it’, except in your delusional imagination.

      • Test Beaker

        Easy there, tiger. Attack the argument not the person and don’t conflate people’s beliefs without them attesting to them first.

        It’s easy enough to tell Mr. Rex that Darwin’s Doubt demonstrates at best a lazy rebuttal of a misinterpretation of old science on a field that changes daily. That ID supporters can only attack theories that currently exist and have yet to posit any testable theory of their own…that they somehow think that the lack of evidence for one thing is evidence of another. ID in itself is a logical fallacy and no amount of books will solve it.

        Although, it’s possible that they’re right. ID doesn’t necessarily mean “God did it”. It could be aliens. (duh-duh-DAAA!!!)

        • Jamie Farren

          “It could be aliens.”

          I know this was a bit tongue-in-cheek, and probably meant to remind everyone that one of the many claims made by I.D. proponents (such as Behe) is that the “Intelligent Designer” doesn’t have to be “god”. I.D. proponents use this as a way to obfuscate their aim, which is, of course, a religious one.

          I thought you might find it interesting to know that Elliot Sober (Philosopher of Biology and an expert on the I.D. movement) has given a compelling argument that the approach of I.D. actually rules out anything except a supernatural intelligence.

          Elliot Sober offers a fairly short syllogism showing that acceptance of the main claims of I.D. lead necessarily to a supernatural entity beyond the universe. (And this philosophical argument is published in a peer-reviewed journal)

          – Jamie Farren
          President
          Freethought Oasis

    • Wesley Elsberry

      For those looking for a way to calculate a variety of combinatoric values that may yield Very Large Numbers, there is my Finite Improbability Calculator:

      http://www.antievolution.org/cs/finite_improbability_calculator

      One of the handy functions available is assessing “Error in Dembskis”. For a calculation that was supposed to yield 1.78e191 but instead came up with 2.22e43, that evaluates as a 2.27 dembskis sized error.

  • Wesley Elsberry

    Galkat: “Rather than just Matzke and his Bachelor’s degree, here is what some actual scientists are saying.”

    Galkat is rather behind the times, almost a decade out of date, since Matzke earned his masters degree in 2003. Matzke is currently ABD in a Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley. Matzke’s biology publication record even now as a student is far, far better than Meyer’s biology publications as a long-since-graduated policy advocate. Matzke has already been published in Nature and PNAS. Here’s his CV online:

    http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~matzke/matzke_cv/2012-12-11_matzke_cv.html

    Wow… look at those GRE scores. A 1510 V+Q is pretty darn impressive. He could breeze into MENSA if he wanted to on that basis.

    It’s going to be so painful for antievolutionists to have to give up their favorite anti-Matzke line, but that time is fast approaching. Nick should graduate with his UC Berkeley Ph.D. this year.

    Oh, and if anybody else is looking to put a copy of Meyer’s book in a critic’s hand gratis, let me know. I’d like one.

    • Galkat

      Oh nick’s a real pro all right, at BS. Check out the link.

      http://www.uncommondescent.com/evolution/calling-nick-matzkes-bluff/

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        Sorry, but I’ve been reading UD for years and have yet to see any value of anything in what they say. You might want to visit After the Bar Closes (the Panda’s Thumb forum) for a comprehensive list of mistakes, lies, bannings, etc that occur at UD.

        The problem isn’t Nick… it’s Meyer. If Meyer used current research and drew valid conclusions from them, then there wouldn’t be a problem.

        Note that I didn’t say “evolution based” conclusions, but valid conclusions. When one decides that all animal body plans appeared in the Cambrian and then decides that’s evidence of an intelligent designer, all we have to do is look at the actual evidence to see that body plans were not all done in the Cambrian, therefore any conclusion based on that is wrong.

      • Wesley Elsberry

        I checked the link, and I concur that it is BS, but the author is clearly stated to be “DonaldM”, not Nick Matzke. It isn’t like they are similar authors or anything.

        It isn’t surprising that antievolutionists can’t be bothered to acknowledge plain error on their part, such as the blatant but erroneous credentialism Galkat led with. Even when avoiding taking responsibility for error, Galkat persists in going for the ad hominem.

        “DonaldM” insists that the figures that Nick used are a bluff and that they convey the same thing Meyer is claiming, which includes the “geologically sudden appearance of complex and novel body plans” with a graph strongly implying that the “sudden appearance” is also *simultaneous* across groups. But even casual reference to the Peterson et al. 2004 Figure 4 that “DonaldM” presented shows that it in no way can be claimed to be saying just what Meyer is saying. For nine groups in different phyla, the graph shows at least six different “first fossil appearance” times spanning some 50 million years. (“DonaldM” claims the figure he notes is the same as the one Nick used in his PT post, but “DonaldM” is wrong: Nick’s figure is Figure 2 in Peterson et. al. 2005. Not that it would have much helped “DonaldM” any to have competently identified the figure: it shows 5 separate first fossil appearance times for representatives of 9 phyla spanning about 50 million years.)

        “DonaldM” also doesn’t bother to quote Nick’s summary statement:

        “All of this is pretty good evidence for the basic idea that the Cambrian “Explosion” is really the radiation of simple bilaterian worms into more complex worms, and that this took something like 30 million years just to get to the most primitive forms that are clearly related to one or another living crown “phyla”, and occurred in many stages, instead of all at once. But, the reader gets very little of the actual big picture from Meyer.”

        Nick is clearly taking Meyer to task for Meyer’s characterization (or mischaracterization) of the Cambrian period. This needs to be kept in mind as one looks at “DonaldM”‘s discussion of a snippet he took from Peterson et al. 2004 as “bilaterans do not have a significant precambrian evolutionary history.” “DonaldM” continues:

        “Note that Peterson et.al.‘s point is exactly the point that Meyer is making with the diagrams he used. The bilateran body plans found in the Cambrian fossils appear to have no evolutionary history. That is Meyer’s main point in this section of the book. So all of Matzke’s moaning about Meyer’s “oversimplified” diagram is just bluffing on his part. Somehow he thinks that the fancier more detailed diagrams refute Meyer, I guess, when in fact, they’re making the exact same point.”

        Nick’s point, though, primarily concerned the duration and progression of the Cambrian explosion itself, and his graphs do demonstrate that there is not the sort of simultaneity that the figure used by Meyer implies within the Cambrian; “DonaldM” is apparently trying to divert attention away from what Nick *actually* argued to something else. Nor does “DonaldM” do well when we note that his highlighted sentence snippet cannot be be interpreted except in light of what the rest of the article discusses. The “significant precambrian evolutionary history” refers to what uncorrected molecular clock studies proposed, not a blanket statement that there is no precambrian history to the bilateria. Here’s Peterson et al. 2004 on the alternative, “significant”, precambrian history:

        “A number of previous clock studies (reviewed in refs. 3 and 4) have suggested that the last common ancestor of bilaterians (LCB) lived well over one billion years ago (5, 6), whereas others suggest that LCB arose 900 million years ago (Ma) (e.g., refs. 7–10), and still others are more consistent with an origination closer to the Cambrian (11–13). These deep estimates for the origin of LCB raise the question of how hundreds of millions of years of bilaterian evolution can escape detection, given that LCB and its near relatives should have had the capability of leaving both body and trace fossils (14–16).”

        And later we have Peterson et al. 2004 saying this:

        “Interestingly, both our analysis and the analyses of Aris-Brosou and Yang (11, 12) conclude that LCB evolved 570 Ma and split from cnidarians somewhere between 600 and 630 Ma (Fig. 4).”

        The authors of Peterson et al. 2004 can hardly be claimed to have disputed any precambrian history of bilateria when they explicitly provide an estimate of the last common bilaterian having lived at 570 mya, well within the precambrian.

        “DonaldM”‘s discussion of Nick’s deployment of the first figure similarly fails to note what Nick was actually arguing. That figure does show that the evidence within the Cambrian period does show a history of increasing diversity over millions of years. “DonaldM”‘s obsession with the precambrian part of the figure ignores the fact that Nick clearly was making a point about the part that was within the Cambrian. “DonaldM”‘s self-congratulatory closing is pathetic; Meyer does invoke the Cambrian explosion, so acting as if only the precambrian fossil record has any bearing on things is simply a strawman.

        Nick was making a point about Meyer, scholarship, and a responsibility to inform his readers about the actual state of the science. “DonaldM”‘s rejoinder is that Meyer didn’t need to include detail that did not favor Meyer’s argument; ironically, that reinforces rather than rebuts Nick’s argument.

  • http://dreadtomatoaddiction.blogspot.com/ Tomato Addict

    Smilodon writes: “The problem with hyper finite numbers or whatever Dembski wants to call them is that PROTEINS DON’T FORM THAT WAY”

    You don’t take that far enough. If you take any sequence of historical events, assign probabilities to them, and multiply them together, you get a really small number. It a function of sample size, so you can always make that number smaller simply by taking a larger sample. Also, it’s a probability in the sample space of all possible event-sequences that might occur. which isn’t even useful – unless you think you can define that sample space (good luck with that).

    So it’s not just that proteins don’t form that way, …

    NOTHING HAPPENS THAT WAY.

  • RexTugwell

    “Well class, what can we learn from this recent exchange? Yes, Johnny?”

    “The first thing we learned is that the name of this blog, Smilodon’s Retreat, has taken on a whole new meaning.”

    “That’s right Johnny. And you, Suzy?”

    “I learned that a blog, where the usual number of commenters you can count on one hand, all of a sudden has Dr. Elsberry show up to lend support. We can infer one of two things from this. 1) Smilodon called in reinforcements to check the math or 2) Elsberry has been reading the Retreat of Smilodon all along and he too missed Smiley’s fundamental mistake in combinatorial calculation. Either way, it doesn’t look good for one or the other.”

    “Very good, Suzy! Bobby, how about you?”

    “Well, it seems that Mr. Retreat continues to contradict himself and needs to be reminded that his article which kicked off this discussion was about Origin of Life, NOT evolution. In his own words he says that OOL is an issue of chemistry and not about biology or evolution. I don’t understand why he continues to conflate protein formation prior to life with evolution.”

    “I don’t know either, Bobby. Sometimes being a committed Darwinist puts one into a state of cognitive dissonance.”

    Smilodon, I couldn’t care less if you couldn’t care less. What I do care about is that you correct your numbers in the OOL post or better yet take it down entirely since it’s incoherent to begin with. I’ve prayed that you’ll do one or the other. Let’s see if prayers get answered. ;) Where can I find your email address or do I have to go through the “Contact” page?

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      Again, it doesn’t matter what the numbers are, because that’s not how proteins form. Further, until you have convinced me that you have accurately determined the probability for every possible combination, then your numbers are wrong too. Hey did you know that the probability of two amino acids combining are not equally likely in a random environment? No? I’m not surprised.

      I further note that you apparently have Darwin’s Doubt now and have completely failed to show where any of my predictions are incorrect.

      There is a “contact” page. It’s for “contacting” me.

      • RexTugwell

        OK thanks. I wasn’t sure if the “Contact” link was for the whole website or just your Retreat.

        [Facepalm] “Random environment”? Does that include D-form amino acids? Tell me then: how did the first functional proteins form i.e. before the very first living cell existed? Remember, evolution is not a candidate. If you prefer the scenario that nulceotides coded the first protein, how did they form in the specific sequence to code for, say, an RNA polymerase? Hey did you know that the probability of two nucleotides combining along the DNA backbone is equal?

        In addition, when considering the probabilities of amino acids combining into proteins, we must take into account chirality and peptide-only bonds. Uh oh. That pushes the 10^191 up to 10^279. It’s not looking good for materialist processes.

        As for your predictions, I never offered to show where they where incorrect. So – no fail. The last time I took you up on a challenge, you disappeared.

        I’m genuinely curious. How did pre-biotic proteins form given the vast sequence spaces that nature must search?

        • Tony Davies

          The evolutionists do not reply to your post. I assume that’s because they have run out of plausible refutations.
          What Darwin’s Doubt and other books like this has done is arm Theists with science based information with which to attack them at their self-perceived strength. They seem to be rather up against it now that they can’t just shoot their “just so” stories into the wind.

  • Tom

    Smilodon’s Retreat…even if you fully disagree with Casey Luskin’s refutation of Nick Matzke’s review, I would be satisfied if you read it once, at least it shows objectivity. If you already have, then that’s wonderful:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/06/rush_to_judgmen073791.html

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      Yes, I’ve read it.

  • Otto Vonmunson

    This “reviewer” seems awful worried about “drivel”. Hmmmm…

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      Hi Otto,

      Yes, this reviewer thinks it important to correct the mistakes and deceits in creationist literature. I have some time and am willing to do so.

      It has no scientific merit though.