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Posted by on Mar 9, 2014 in Book Review, Creationism, Evolution, Genetics, Science | 60 comments

Darwin’s Doubt – Chapter 13 – Part 2

Meyer has never read Your Inner Fish or Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo. If Meyer had, then he wouldn’t have even been able to write this chapter. Well… he probably would have given what he’s done to mangle science so far.

The second section of Chapter 13 is called “The Roles of Genes and Proteins in Animal Devlopment”. That’s a massive topic. It’s a huge topic. The book I linked to, Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is an entire book on a subject that Meyer discusses in six paragraphs.

His beginning line in this section is

As much as any other subdiscipline of biology, developmental biology has raised disquieting questions for neo-Darwinism.

I need to make a brief aside here. Please bear with me.

When I use the word “evolution” or “evolutionary theory”, I am referring to the most current version of the theory. How it stands as I write the article. I don’t use a lot of the terms to describe the different versions of evolution that have appeared in the last 150 years.

As each new major discovery in biology has taken place, evolution has been modified (sometimes a little, sometimes not at all) to fit with the new data, the new discoveries.

Darwinism, (how I hate that term) is what Darwin thought, his theory as described in his book. Natural selection and common descent. Indeed, even at the time, Darwin didn’t know anything about genetics.

Then we go into what is often referred to as Neo-Darwinism. That is, the “new Darwinism”.  New is a relative term as this phrase was first coined in 1895. It has been used in a variety of ways over the last 120 odd years. As formalized, it was used by a group of biologists until the 1930s to mean that “natural selection was all there was”.

Next is the Modern Synthesis. It was developed in the late 30s and early 40s and used both (the recently developed) population genetics to show that Mendelian genetics was consistent with natural selection and gradual evolution. Some of the greatest biologists of any time were involved with this development (Huxley, Fisher, Haldane, Wright, Mayr, and Dobzhansky).

Of course, then in the early 70s we get punctuated equilibria, which isn’t really a new theory of evolution, but an extension that shows that gradual evolution is neither required nor (perhaps) sufficient.

Now, of course, we’re getting deep into molecular biology in a very real way. Even 20 years ago it took millions of dollars and teams of scientists to determine the total genome of a single organism. Now, the same project might take a few tens of thousands of dollars and a few scientists. Technology for this work has improved to the point where there are desktop models of genetic code readers.

We’ve also worked on evolution from a completely different angle, that of developmental biology. The science of EvoDevo (Evolutionary Developmental Biology). It was referenced in the famous Kitzmiller trial. Dr. Kevin Padian (in 2005) (NOTE: The “A” is a link to this text in the full trial transcript.)

A. I’m a fossil like everybody else. No, genes and molecules get a lot of press, and deservedly so. The research on them has been amazing over the past half century. The new discovery has just come at an incredible rate. They’re just revealing all sorts of new things about the world we never could have imagined. We could have hoped we could have known, but we wouldn’t have known how.

But, oddly enough, the most recent great advances in biology are coming with the integration of this new molecular evidence with what we already know from comparative anatomy, from fossils, and from geology.

An example I could give you is like the hottest area in biology today is called evo-devo or evolutionary developmental biology. Evo-devo is not a rock group. And the thing about it is that the whole premise of evo-devo is that we are now understanding a lot more about the genes that actually code for the development of organisms. That is, we know the genes that make you line up in a front-to-back axis and make your limbs sprout and make you have wings instead of hoofs or whatever it happens to be.

These are under the command of a relatively well-organized system of genes that are universal among a great many organisms. And you can even transplant parts of these into other organisms, and they’ll work properly, which is really amazing.

And why paleontology and evolutionary biology is relevant to this is because, for one thing, in the fossil record we see a lot of forms that are not present in any kind of shape today. Configurations of hands and wings and skulls that we can see by examination of the genetic structure and functions of development actually are produced in certain ways and they mimic what we see in the past.

So, oddly enough, paleontology, evolutionary biology are coming back front and center to be integrated in this very hot new area. (my emphasis)

That all being said, some scientists use Neo-Darwinism to mean “the current state of evolutionary theory”. I don’t. I think it’s a historical term and when referencing the current state, one should just say “evolutionary theory”, but that’s me.

There are scientists who do this and those that don’t. The difference is that they explain the context in which they use the terms.

In my experience, creationists like Meyer use these terms as pejoratively as possible. But let’s explore, for a moment, how Meyer might have used the term.[1]

The first option is that Meyer means Neo-Darwinism as a historical term. He is a historian of science after all. In which case, he is perfectly correct. The modern knowledge of development and embryology was barely into its infancy at the time the word “Neo-Darwinism” was being used.

In this case, Meyer is perfectly correct. But what does this discussion have to do with modern evolutionary theory. How is embryology a problem for a science that has embraced evolution and developmental biology for over a decade now?

In this case, Meyer is speaking of a historical footnote. It’s the rough equivalent to asking why the Wright brothers didn’t include flares for confusing heat seeking missiles on the Wright Flyer.

The other choice is that Meyer is speaking of modern evolutionary biology. In which case he is dead wrong. Developmental biology is not a problem for evolution and it never has been. Again, evodevo has been around for a decade and there’s never been any “profound difficulty cutting to the very core of the neo-Darwinian view of life.”[2]

In Endless Forms Most Beautiful, Dr. Carroll uses pages 307-328 to talk about the references, papers, resources, and further reading. Part 1 of that books is called “The Making of Animals”. Part 2 is called “Fossils, Genes, and the Making of Animal Diversity”.

Let me just quote from the preface of that book

The key to understanding form is development, the process through which a single-celled egg gives rise to a complex, multi-billion-celled animal. This amazing spectacle stood as one of the great unsolved mysteries of biology for nearly two centuries. And development is intimately connected to evolution because it is through changes in embryos that changes in form arise. Over the past two decades (note: this book was published in 2005), a new revolution has unfolded in biology. Advances in developmental biology and evolutionary developmental biology (dubbed “Evo Devo”) have revealed a great deal about the invisible genes and some simple rules that shape animal form and evolution. Much of what we have learned has been so stunning and unexpected that it has profoundly reshaped our picture of how evolution works. Not a single biologist, for example, ever anticipated that the same genes that control the making of an insect’s body and organs also control the making of our bodies.

That simple paragraph simply shows that Meyer doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about… or he (as I have come to believe) is deliberately misrepresenting science. Endless Forms Most Beautiful was written nearly a decade before Darwin’s Doubt. Meyer’s questions and concerns have been addressed by scientists for years. But he still trots them out as if no one knows.

And to drive the point home, the fact that people still believe what Meyer says is true just underscores the need for better science education in the US (and everywhere).

Again, we see that Meyer isn’t saying anything of value. At least he said in just a few paragraphs.

I’d like to comment on one more thing here.  Here’s is Meyer comment after describing a host of technical things that may or may not be accurate.

Transcriptional regulators and factors are themselves controlled by complex circuits and signals transmitted by other genes and proteins, the overall complexity and precision of which is breathtaking.

Yes, these things are stunning complex. They are massively complex. They make the world economy look like the accounting system my 7-year-old uses to determine if he has enough money for his next LEGO set. Here’s an example chart.

INSANE!

Meyer thinks that this is so insanely complex that only an intelligence could have created it. That’s the entire discussion here.

Meyer, in spite of what he claims, is using this entire book to talk about a “God of the Gaps” argument. It’s so complex that only God could do this.

That’s it.  That’s his whole argument.

I have asked multiple people on a variety of forums (including this very blog) to post a page number where Meyer described the evidence for Intelligent Design. Not the evidence against evolution, but the evidence for Intelligent Design. So far, not a single person has been able to list a single page in this book that describes the evidence for ID.

My detractors (and there are many, Hi Casey!) will complain that I don’t actually offer up a refutation of Meyer’s claims here. Of course, claims made without evidence can be dismissed in the same way.

But, I do provide the evidence. Endless Forms Most Beautiful, the New Science of Evo Devo. It’s a pretty complex text, which is why I guess Meyer hasn’t read it. If you choose to get it and read (and please do), be aware that it can be technical. By Dr. Carroll is a good writer and will lead you through the evidence, with explanations of the experiments and data that support his statements. And you go through the pages in the back of the book that contain more information.

Let me give an example of why the creationists bother me for this. They don’t provide their data, but if I fail to debunk every single statement of Meyer’s, they win. I have, in my files, a copy of the final report on the World Trade Center Collapse. It’s 248 pages. And the primary purpose of the file is to provide evidence that supports something that everyone witnessed. Two planes impacted the WTC and brought the two main buildings crashing to the ground.

Yet, there are still people who believe that this is all a cover up. That the government caused it, allowed it, or blew up the buildings directly and all kinds of other BS. No matter what evidence you provide to these people, they will not accept it.

I’m not doing this to provide the evidence that creationists demand. It is trivial for them to look it up themselves. There are thousands, if not millions, of papers on every subject they could come up with. They might have to spend a few years learning new sciences (as I have had to) and reading dozens of peer-reviewed articles a week. Many are available on the internet for free. Both Science and Nature often run subscription specials that grant access to their entire archive of PDFed papers.

But they don’t do it. They aren’t interested in learning about the reality of the world, they are evangelizing. They are trying to convince us that science, which has provided every tool and device that they use every day, is wrong about everything. And their chosen holy book is right.

I’m not doing this for them. I’, doing this for all the people who have to put up with their crap every day. Science teachers dealing with school boards. Parents dealing with science teachers. And anyone else who needs a reference to why Stephen Meyer is a liar and a charlatan.

Stay tuned, more to come. Maybe Meyer will reference a paper or make a claim that is current.

The rest of the series.

_________________________________
[1] I’ll also note that creationists (including the amateur ones) are experts at purposefully using terms ambiguously in order to promote their ideas.

[2] Darwin’s Doubt pg 259

  • im-skeptical

    “Meyer thinks that this is so insanely complex that only an intelligence could have created it.”

    I (and probably others) have raised the point before that this complexity is the hallmark of unguided evolution. A designer strives for simplicity to the extent possible.

    You make the point again that Meyer misrepresents science. I think he’d be happy if the scientific community would ignore his book. His intended audience is one who is willing to believe whatever he says, and not well equipped to discern the misrepresentations.

    Good work.

    • RexTugwell

      Wrong! Complexity isn’t enough. It’s complexity along with specificity
      that is evidence for design. The face of Mt. Everest exhibits
      complexity. The face of Mt. Rushmore exhibits specified complexity – an independently given pattern. What’s so hard to understand?

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        It’s very easy to understand the words. However, you have not (nor has Meyer or Dembski or anyone else) explained how you determine whether something is SPECIFIED (in advance). I’ve asked this dozens of times and provided several strings that specificity could be practiced on. No one has been able to identify specificity.

        Except, as you so eloquently mentioned, it looks designed, therefore it is.

        That’s perfectly easy to understand. You don’t think that nature can produce balls (except it can). You don’t think that nature can produce things that look like faces (except it does).

        YOU need to explain this. We don’t have to defend the notion that things look complex and designed. You have to defend the claims that “looks designed” means it “is designed”. And you haven’t.

        Please, feel free to point out where Meyer does this in Darwin’s Doubt. Page number please.

        Tell me, are termites intelligent?

        • Doc Bill

          Well, I’ve been around termites and I’ve been around Rex. So, on that scale, yes, termites are freaking geniuses!

        • azportsider

          Here’s another question. Suppose I gave you the transcriptions for two strands of DNA, one that codes for a protein (say, insulin; might as well keep this as simple as possible), and one of the same length that was just randomly generated, say, by that proverbial seven-year-old. They’re equally complex, but only one has any specified information. Which is which? Show your work, please.

          • RexTugwell

            “Which one is it? Show your work, please.”
            You and Smilodon seem to think that a one-dimensional string of nucleotides or codons on a piece of paper or computer screen can to be identified as intelligently designed simply by using math and if it can’t then design theory fails. How naive. To determine if a gene has specified information, one would have to look at its position in the genome, its secondary, tertiary and even quaternary structures. Maybe knock it out and see if the organism survives or is crippled. A simple string that can’t be identified as designed by eyeballing it doesn’t mean it can’t be identified in other ways. Try again.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            You can’t have it both ways.

            Either there is a mathematical system that you can use for this or there isn’t. If there isn’t, then I would suggest you talk to the other ID people.

            The entire point behind No Free Lunch is that there is mathematical support for design. Is there or isn’t there?

            You seem to be saying that there isn’t. That you have to look at the whole genome, the structures, and everything… just like a biologist does. Study how small changes in the DNA result in big changes to the protein and therefore the structure of the organism.

            A simple string that can’t be identified as designed by eyeballing it doesn’t mean it can’t be identified in other ways.

            Feel free to describe these other ways in robust terms that are NOT dependent on whether it looks designed or not.

          • RexTugwell

            Actually, taking anther look at asportsider’s comment, the real problem is he confuses design with function. So design doesn’t even have to enter into the discussion. I want to retract my last comment…or just replace “design” with “functional”.

          • Doc Bill

            Wow! This is the densest bowl of word salad I’ve read in a while. Not as dense as Rex, though.

            What is a “one-dimensional” string of nucleotides? How does that relate to codons? What’s the difference? What would a two-dimensional “sheet (?)” or nucleotides look like?

            Rex, you simply don’t know what you are talking about. You just throw together sciency sounding words and hope for the best.

            “Secondary, tertiary and quaternary structures” of nucleotides in the genome? Are you out of your mind? That’s the most idiotic thing I’ve read in quite a while. Tell me, Rexy wexy, blowhard windbag extraordinaire, if you had all that info THEN how would you detect design or not?

            Seriously, Rex, either you really can’t learn things or your chronically stupid or both.

          • RexTugwell

            Sorry Billy’s willy. I should have been clearer for our nonscience-oriented friends. Read “Secondary, tertiary and quaternary structures of the resulting proteins”.

            What is a “one-dimensional” string of nucleotides? How does that relate
            to codons? What’s the difference? What would a two-dimensional “sheet
            (?)” or nucleotides look like?

            Smiley, do you want to take this one since you just wrote a detailed article on it not too long ago?

          • Doc Bill

            Rexy wexy, if you had meant to discuss proteins you would have discussed proteins. Just can’t bring yourself to state the obvious: you don’t know what you’re talking about in either science or non-science which makes you a completely empty headed idiot.

            Still haven’t answered the question about design. Any chance of that coming before I have to fork out my Quatloos?

          • Sam Harris

            Speaking of naive… DNA does not ever form “quaternary structure”, that is what we see in protein (sometimes). But I’m betting that you think that because you knew the word “quaternary” that you have some sort of special insight into all of this.

          • RexTugwell

            Sam, if you read further down the page you’ll see I said “quaternary structures of the resulting proteins”.

            “(Sometimes)”! Really, Sam?

            Google “Protein quaternary structure” and let us know the prevalence of quaternary structures.

          • Sam Harris

            After you were corrected. I googled, and at best, the answer is “many.” Did you have a point?

  • RexTugwell

    First Smilodon says:

    That simple paragraph simply shows that Meyer doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about…

    Then Smilodon says:

    Here’s is Meyer comment after describing a host of technical things that may or may not be accurate.

    Huh?

    Is this the format you’ve chosen for chapter 13? Take a section, use up most of the space talking about irrelevant material, address the main point of the section by offering a link or two and then end with pummeling a strawman? Did you read the whole chapter before starting this review? That would have been helpful because you’re getting ahead of yourself. Meyer pretty much says the same thing as your quote from Carroll’s preface – evolution must take place during early embryological development.

    I don’t know if it’ll do any good but I would suggest you read chapter 11 Assume a Gene. I know many Darwinists are under the delusion that genes are easy to come by but it just ain’t so.

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      And Meyer makes the mistake that this is a problem for evolution. It doesn’t.

      It’s not me attacking a strawman… it’s Meyer.

      Believe me, I know how utterly amazing these systems are. I’ve studied, in detail, how the many genes, proteins, and molecules interact to produce other proteins and hormones and everything that makes up humans. I know how many possible places there are for mistakes (major and minor). It’s truly amazing that we exist at all.

      Yet, evolution explains how this happens. Because if this massively complex system didn’t work, we wouldn’t exist. Life wouldn’t exist.

      Your solution is ‘a designer’. So, please provide evidence for the designer. Or even that you can tell the difference in a rigorous way between something designed and not designed.

      BTW: I notice that you have stopped referring to the paper you provided for me. I take it that we are agreed on all particulars of that paper and the implied attack on science is now moot.

      • RexTugwell

        I’m sure your seven-year-old can determine that the Old Man of the Mountain is not designed while Mt. Rushmore is. Try it and get back to me.

        Yet, evolution explains how this happens.

        Is that a fact? You’re assuming what you should be demonstrating.

        In all honesty, I’m not sure what your point is regarding the paper. Which one? Graur’s?

        • SmilodonsRetreat

          So your method of determining design is to ask a 7-year-old whether it’s designed or not.

          Perhaps you should read the first chapter of Your Inner Fish where a group of 5-year-olds infer common ancestry by looking at fossils of Tiktaalik.

          Again, I (and other scientists) am interested in a rigorous method of determining design. Not “it looks designed”, which is what you are offering. Let me know if anyone ever comes up with such a method. Until then, the entire foundation of the intelligent design movement is based on “it looks designed”.

          Wow.

          • RexTugwell

            Stawman. ID does not say that all things can neatly be put into categories of definitely designed or definitely not designed. In fact, chance and necessity are given the benefit of the doubt first before design is even considered. Show me otherwise. Wow is right.

            No one says “it looks designed”. That’s your phrase, Smiley. We say “this is best explained by an intelligence”. You don’t have to agree with ID but at least try to understand its premises.

            Let’s not get sidetracked. You were going to explain how macroevolution is the result of mutations vis-a-vis evo-devo and how Meyer is a liar.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            I’ve already shown how macroevolution is only microevolution plus time. That’s all that it is. There isn’t anything else. Please, feel free to show me, in peer-reviewed literature, where any scientist says anything different.

            I’ve shown this. I’ve shown it a dozen times. I’ve given you speciation events and explained how higher taxonomic orders are nothing more than multiple speciation events. But it’s not enough for you.

            As far as “i looks designed”. I didn’t say that. YOU did. Remember, you asked me to compare Mount Rushmore to Mount Everest. Which is designed you ask? One certainly looks more designed than the other, but you can’t quantify it. You can’t say that just because something LOOKS designed, then it IS designed. As much as you wish you could (and try to) you can’t say that.

            And finally “this is best explained by an intelligence”. Actually, it’s not best explained by an intelligence. It’s not explained in any way, shape, or form by an intelligence. Saying it over and over again doesn’t make it so.

            What intelligence? When? How? Using what tools? Is it on-going or has it stopped? How do you know?

            That’s what’s need to ‘explain’ something. Not just “things appear to be designed, therefore a designer is the best explanation”. But that’s all you want, because it fits in with your worldview. There’s no evidence to support it, but that’s fine with you.

          • RexTugwell

            Smilodon junior: [pointing to Mr. Rushmore] Daddy, look at that mountain. Who did that?

            Smilodon: Well son, we can’t be sure anyone did it. You see the sculpture cannot be quantified so we’re left wondering if it happened by chance or by some natural law.

            Smilodon junior: Daddy, that’s just stupid. Anyone can see that it was designed. We don’t have to know who, how or when it was made. We don’t even have to know if it’s ongoing or if someone is still working on it.

            Smilodon: But it could have been created by wind, rain and erosion right? I can believe that if I want to.

            Smilodon junior: I suppose but then everyone will think you’re an imbecile.

    • Sam Harris

      ” I know many Darwinists are under the delusion that genes are easy to come by but it just ain’t so.”

      Especially when one assumes that getting a gene is a ‘search’ for an extant gene in ‘sequence space’.

  • Void L. Walker

    Nice, Smilodon. I really like your writing style, concise and lucid :)

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      Thanks. This one felt more like a rant. I seriously cannot see what Rex sees in Meyer’s writing… other than it says what he wants to hear.

      I have to do this in small doses. It really pisses me off that Meyer lies like this and Rex thinks he’s telling the truth. Of course, people like Rex also think that “It looks designed” is evidence that it IS designed too.

      • Doc Bill

        Aw, come on! Rex doesn’t know shit from shinola. Typical contrarian. He’ll simply repeat the same nonsense over and over and over. His only entertainment value is in the mocking. I love me a good mock!

      • Void L. Walker

        I’ve lived with the EXACT cognitive biases that he has (I was a YEC for 12 years). In a way, I pity him. You are a patient person, Smilodon!

  • SmilodonsRetreat

    If you claim to understand ‘microevolution’, then you don’t understand evolution at all. There is no micro or macro. It’s just evolution.

    Actually, we don’t have to say “You’ve got to get down in the details of where molecules are built, for me.”

    Why? Because science doesn’t work that way, evidence doesn’t work that way… and sure as hell Intelligent Design doesn’t work that way.

    You, sir, are a hypocrite. Whatever your chosen explanation for the diversity of life around us, I guarantee that it cannot the same level of detail that you require for evolution. In fact, it can’t even match the available evidence for evolution.

    When we have a preponderance of the evidence that suggests something… We find that the explanation has predictive power… We see that there are pieces of evidence that would (but don’t) falsify that explanation… Indeed, we even see that explanation being used in other fields to discover new things (drug research for example) or develop new products and processes (evolutionary algorithms)… then, until something better comes along, we go with what the evidence suggests and what works.

    You can believe whatever you like, I don’t care. But don’t come here saying that evolution can’t tell you exactly how every single molecule in every single living thing since the beginning time has changed. Especially when your own notions (whatever they are) can’t do that either.

    Oh, I’m sure you like to pretend how much of a skeptical scientist you are, but you never go out on a limb and actually try to figure out your own notions of the development of life on the planet. Faith can handle only so much stress before the cognitive dissonance steps in.

    I’ll stick with science. When YOU provide some evidence that something else (anything else) works, THEN we’ll talk about how your own notions are better than evolution. Until then, I would encourage you to actually learn how science works, what evidence is, and how valid conclusions can be drawn from incomplete evidence.

  • SmilodonsRetreat

    There seems to be some Disqus issues, this comment by azportsider is approved and in the file for this post, but not appearing.

    Here’s another question. Suppose I gave you the transcriptions for two strands of DNA, one that codes for a protein (say, insulin; might as well keep this as simple as possible), and one of the same length that was just randomly generated, say, by that proverbial seven-year-old. They’re equally complex, but only one has any specified information. Which is which? Show your work, please.

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      TO azportsider:

      I agree. That would be an excellent test. If an ID proponent can’t tell the difference between something designed and something totally random, then how can the tell the difference between two non-random things?

      I’ve asked this same question several times and the responses have ranged from ignoring it to “it doesn’t work that way because”. One response was very interesting. Because of the “specified” that Rex refers to, the ID proponent claimed that without knowing which was which, he couldn’t tell whether one was random or specified. In other words, he wanted me to tell him which was random so he could identify which was random.

      But even better, what about two sequences that are both functional and specified, yet slightly different. For example, hemoglobin.

      Surely there’s a specified difference between normal hemoglobin and the sickle cell allele right? After all the sickle cell version produces from very different cells. But there’s only a single nucleotide difference between the two.

      By any measure of information, they contain the exact same amount. They are also equally likely from a random standpoint (given the assumption that nucleotides are purely random when assembling). So the ONLY difference between the two is one nucleotide and the functionality.

      So, what about it ID guys? If you can measure the difference between normal hemoglobin and the sickle cell allele, in a robust, rigorous way, THEN I’ll be very impressed and we can continue these discussions. If not, then your entire program is utterly useless.

      • RexTugwell

        See my response below.

  • SmilodonsRetreat

    Discus issues continue:

    Rex said

    Smilodon junior: [pointing to Mr. Rushmore] Daddy, look at that mountain. Who did that?

    Smilodon: Well son, we can’t be sure anyone did it. You see the sculpture cannot be quantified so we’re left wondering if it happened by chance or by some natural law.

    Smilodon junior: Daddy, that’s just stupid. Anyone can see that it was designed. We don’t have to know who, how or when it was made. We don’t even have to know if it’s ongoing or if someone is still working on it.

    Smilodon: But it could have been created by wind, rain and erosion right? I can believe that if I want to.

    Smilodon junior: I suppose but then everyone will think you’re an imbecile.

    My response:
    Just like I said, “It looks designed, therefore it is”.

  • Void L. Walker

    I have to admit that watching Rex shove his head even farther up his ass is most entertaining to me :) I’m popping some kettle corn, and setting up my most comfortable chair. Proceed!

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      Just wait until this evening.

      • RexTugwell

        I don’t whether to be scared or laugh.

        • Void L. Walker

          Awe :-D God you’re adorable. Can I keep you?! I’ll feed you thrice a day, water you, and we can even (if you’re a good boy) go play fetch!

          • RexTugwell

            Void, You might know this, you might not but “void” is the medical term for taking a piss. Now every time I expel my bodily waste into the sewer, I’ll be thinking of you and so will everyone else who reads this. :-o

          • Void L. Walker

            Hey, a void (in this particular context) is one of the planes of Oblivion in E.S mythology. Also it’s clearly a nick name…Rex Tugwell? How about Rex Jerkgood ;-) That is, unless you’ve given up the gay porn deal….

          • Doc Bill

            You can’t have him, Void! Not fair. We must bid in auction.

            I bid 10,000 Quatloos.

          • Void L. Walker

            Damn, I’m 1,000 short. At least send me pictures once he’s house trained?

          • Doc Bill

            You may be waiting a while. This one is extremely hard-headed.

  • SmilodonsRetreat

    HMMM… is everyone else seeing the comments? I’m getting the e-mail notifications, but the comments aren’t appearing here (at least for me).

    Rex’s new comment

    Actually, taking anther look at asportsider’s comment, the real problem
    is he confuses design with function. So design doesn’t even have to
    enter into the discussion. I want to retract my last comment…or just
    replace “design” with “functional”.

    Of course, now you have a real problem. You can’t define ‘functional’ in a rigorous way. Is Mount Rushmore functional? What is the function?

    What’s the difference in function between a known protein in the human body and any other protein of the same length? You can’t tell that either until you make the protein and test it with… well… everything.

    And (perhaps most importantly) you are really get far afield of your ID fellows. Are you just making this up as you go along? That’s what it looks like. Make up anything that appears to get you out of trouble, regardless of the consequences.

    If design doesn’t even enter into the equation (and on that, we are agreed), then what’s the point of Intelligent Design again? We’ve clearly shown (over the past few years) that intelligence is not required for design. Indeed, evolution is a perfectly valid designer (and one that has evidence to support it).

    Now you’ve taken out the design… what’s left?

    • RexTugwell

      The problem with you, Smilodon, is that you can’t follow a train of thought for longer than 2 comments. azportsider’s comment had to do with identifying specified complexity in a given string of mRNA and how it couldn’t be done. I explained that what azportsider is really asking for is whether it is functional or not. The question of function can be answered without reference to design. That’s a different issue. I specifically said to replace “design” with “functional” in my last comment. Pay attention. In your breathless attempt to prove me wrong, you’re having trouble with comprehension.

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        Sill can’t actually do any of it, so it doesn’t really matter does it?

        • RexTugwell

          “doesn’t matter” Hmmm….where have I read that before? Oh yeah! You used it over and over when I corrected your math on the probability of genes forming by chance. Is that your standard answer for everything?

          • Doc Bill

            Hey, Rex, you really need to meet this guy who posts over at the Shreveport Times. He’s a real numbskull, just like you, and thick as a brick, just like you, and just totally pointless … well, you get my point.

            It’s painfully obvious to the casual observer that you know even less about the theory of ID than you do about any science. That’s really sad, when you think about it. It means you really know nothing about nothing. Just a big windbag blowhard. Do people laugh at you to your face because I’m pretty sure they are laughing at you behind your back.

            “Functional Complex Specified Information.” Come on, you creationist moron, get it right. That’s directly from Signature in the Cell. Can’t be calculated, either. Know who said that? Dembski! Yeah, right there in his opus flatus, Free Lunch.

            Can’t be calculated.

            Let those words sink into your thick skull. Why do you think old Dembski is spending his time getting fired from Bible colleges rather than calculating values for FSCI all over the place and getting famous? Come on, Rexy, inquiring minds want to know. You’re so smart, lay it on is? What’s the matter, out of Number 2 pencils?

            Why do you think ID is dead in the water? Could it be that their signature metric can’t be calculated? Sort of puts a cork on further progress.

            Oh, wait, wait, maybe Meyer calculated it. Nope. Or Wells. Nope. Or Behe. Nope. Hmmmm, seems like none of the ID Big Shots can do the math. How about you, Rexy? Put up or STFU.

  • SmilodonsRetreat

    Quote of the Day (from Lucy Wainwright)

    “If your “answer” to a mysterious & puzzling question is more mysterious & puzzling than the fucking question, stop wasting everybody’s time.”

  • SmilodonsRetreat

    Rex says

    “doesn’t matter” Hmmm….where have I read that before? Oh yeah! You
    used it over and over when I corrected your math on the probability of
    genes forming by chance. Is that your standard answer for everything?

    Only when it doesn’t matter. Here’s some things that don’t matter to you since you never answered them.

    1) Where exactly is my math wrong and why?
    2) Where exactly does Meyer provide evidence of ID in this book?
    3) Where exactly does Meyer discuss the experiments or observations that can ONLY be the result of design?
    4) Which is correct “Meyer is the worst researcher on the planet.” or “Meyer is a liar.”?
    5) Take any organism, system, or part of organism (down to the molecular level) and describe how exactly to determine the information content, specified complexity, functional specified complexity, and the other values that ID proponents say are indicators of design.
    6) Why are these values indicative of intelligent design and not “unintelligent design”?

    You are the one dodging the questions that actually matter. If you want to just argue about the proper way to calculate the probability of a string of x subjects from a replenishing pool of y options, then we can do that, but it’s not a discussion about ID or evolution. It’s just math.

  • SmilodonsRetreat

    OK, it looks like the Disqus has caught up. I think everything is displayed. If you commented, but it’s not here, then please contact me via the contact page above and I’ll look further into it.

    A note to everyone: Things are getting a little personal. While I enjoy abusing people as much as the next person, please stick to refutations of claims and points and refrain from personal attacks.

    • RexTugwell

      Since you’re providing quotes for our edification, I’ll provide one from the Darwinist playbook, page 1:

      When you have no basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff.
      Cicero

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        An ad hom attack is attacking the opponent INSTEAD of a valid argument. It’s just being insulting to attack an opponent AND refute their argument.

        I’ll also add that you are playing the creationist playbook to a T. Don’t answer questions. Redirect the conversation back to (false) problems with evolution. And never provide evidence.

        Any time you wish to support ID, feel free. As every one of your complains against what evolution actually is, does, and implies has been answered with evidence, then you don’t really have anything else.

        • RexTugwell

          Smilodon, I’m purposely not answering your questions for multiple reasons. You know one of them: no answers until you correct your math. We’ve been over this. Secondly, you refuse to read the book. You should rename your review of Darwin’s Doubt “Darwin’s Doubt: A review of a book mostly unread by me.”

          Matzke “read” it in 24 hours. You can’t even get through 4 chapters in almost a year! Good grief! I ask you how novel proteins are formed and you bravely bury your eloquent reply at the bottom of a 62-comment page with “Mutation. Duh.” You’ll have to do better than that.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            Oh, is that how the game is played? I’m sorry, I would have thought that you would be interested in actually supporting your notions.

            But you can’t do that, so you deflect and deflect and deflect.

            Go ahead, tell me the page number where Meyer provides evidence for intelligent design. But you can’t, because we both know it’s not there.

            As for this book… it’s gloriously stupid. Meyer has been shown to be a liar and wrong about fundamental science that was around ten years before he wrote the book.

            Yet, YOU still think he’s a great scientist. Why?

          • Doc Bill

            Still haven’t answered my questions, Rex. Doubt you ever will because in addition to being a clueless, ignorant blowhard you show all the signs of being delusional. How many fingers am I holding up, Rexy?

  • l zoltan

    So again you said you provide the evidence.what evidence and what for?

    Again what are those evidence for darwinism Meyer lies about or missrepresents?

    You talka about the god of the gaps argument. Not true. Meyer presents positive argument we do know intelligence is cause of specified information. Information that specifies functional complexity.
    Lets see your arguments.
    It appearas to be designed.
    1.we cannot see the designer therefore evolution (thats evolution of the gaps argument no 1)
    2.we don’t know how evolution did therefore it did. Evolution of the gaps no 2
    The reality is this no single piece of evidence that random errors can do it and you call it science.

    • Doc Bill

      Give it up, Zolly, this statement is stupid nonsense.

      “we do know intelligence is cause of specified information. Information that specifies functional complexity.”

      I’ll rewrite it so it makes sense:

      “we do know puppies cause rug stains. Stains located in certain spots.”

      Second, “we” when it comes to scientific knowledge does not include “you,” Zolly. You live outside the domain of knowledge.

      Please return to beneath your rock or wherever you live. Thank you.

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      So we don’t know how evolution did it, so therefore evolution doesn’t work.

      We don’t know how the designer did it, but Intelligent design is the most likely explanation.

      Got it… thanks.

      As far as all the evidence, read every post I’ve made on Darwin’s Doubt.

  • Void L. Walker

    I find it funny that you accuse Smilodon of faith, dogma and ideology when the ENTIRE ID movement is now openly religious, and was birthed by a clever tactical change so creationists (like you) could make an attempt at indoctrinating our children.

    I’ve asked your buddy Rex to admit to his inherently religious goals, yet he fails to do so. So I will now ask you. Can you, please, A: admit that ID is religiously motivated, and B: admit that YOU are, as well, and that your entire purpose for dogging evolution is to support your faith? Surely it would not bring you solace to remove your “loving” (don’t make me laugh) God from the equation. An admission of this would be nice. I asked Rex these same questions about 5 times, never once receiving an answer.

    It’s your turn to (attempt to) be honest. If you are not cognizant of the underpinnings that constitute the ID movement, I would be pleased to elucidate you.

  • l zoltan

    I’ve read all your posts on DD but no evidence for darwinian evolution.

    No reviewer of DD presented any evidence. The only one who tryed to articulate an argument was Ch Marshall but of course without evidence. He did what any darwinist we can predict will ever do, tell a nice story with wishful speculations.

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      Then you don’t understand how evidence works. It’s that simple.

      • Doc Bill

        Typical creationist troll. Only interested in braying like a mule.

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