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Archive for the ‘Fact-Checking Biologos’ Category

This dialogue speaks for itself, methinks.  Biologos scientist Dennis Venema’s circular reasoning seems fairly obvious to “Rich” (and me), but not to others apparently.

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Rich – #8794

April 5th 2010

Dear Dennis/Darrel:

Your argument seems to be:  If we back-reason based solely on our current knowledge of genetics, we must conclude that no single *human* couple could have been the parents of all of mankind.

May I ask a mischievous question?  Suppose that the best modern science ruled out the possibility that a female virgin could give birth to a male child by natural means.  Following your line of reasoning, would we not need to infer either (a) Jesus had a human father (hopefully Joseph!), and was the “Son of God” only by “adoption”? or (b) Jesus was born of a virgin, but that God overpowered the normal natural mechanisms to make this happen?

You will likely shy away from (a), for theological reasons.  But if you adopt (b), then you are saying that sometimes it is legitimate, even necessary, to presume that God altered the normal rules of genetics for his purposes, and that this inference is not offensive to “good science”.  So what then, would necessitate a naturalistic approach to Adam and Eve?  Couldn’t God have overpowered the relevant natural processes there, as well?  Wouldn’t you have a consistency problem in invoking a miracle for the Virgin Birth but denying special creation in the case of Adam and Eve?

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Comments aren’t working for me at Biologos, so I am posting mine here:

This post is another highly selective treatment of the evidence.  It seems that the writer is not asking the question, “Is Darwinian evolution the best explanation for the Cambrian explosion?”  He rather seems to be asking:  “Can we shoehorn the Cambrian fossils into our favored theory?”

Arguing that the Ediacara fossils are on a continuum with the Cambrian fossils is highly controversial and is not mainstream.  See here.

As for the Gould quotes, Darrel says they are too old, but doesn’t explain what has changed to make them obsolete.  This post contains a summary and link to Donald Prothero from 2009:

“Thus, over 35 years after the original 1972 paper, we have a different kind of “two cultures” phenomenon of people with different mindsets talking past one another. Paleontologists have agreed for decades now that the prevailing message of the fossil record is stasis despite big changes in the environment.”

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Here is my comment to this article, which I have been unable to post:

Dave,

You said,

“Behe makes an astonishing conclusion. He states “the formation of even one helpful intracellular protein-protein binding site may be unattainable by random mutation.” (page 157).”

You don’t even need to go to the book to see the problem with this. Behe says “may,” and you call that “an astonishing conclusion.” He is clearly not drawing conclusions here. If you read the quote in context, he is clearly speculating. This section of the book is not central to Behe’s argument, and he makes that clear.  When you attack his speculations, you do nothing to challenge the core arguments of the book.

You said:

“It is quite clear from this comparison that Behe thinks “random mutation” is a myth believed by most biologists on faith, with little evidence to back it up.”

Wrong. Not “random mutation.”

Behe:

“Just as nineteenth-century physics presumed light to be carried by the ether, so modern Darwinian biology postulates random mutation and natural selection constructed the sophisticated, coherent machinery of the cell. Unfortunately, the inability to test the theory has hampered its critical appraisal and led to rampant speculation. (p. 163).”

Do you really believe that Behe thinks “random mutation is a myth”? Have you really read the book?

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The major point of making these corrections is to show that David Ussery is not addressing Behe’s strongest arguments. He seems to be nipping around the edges.

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Michael Behe’s second response to David Ussery is here.  It seems clear to me that, once again, we see the folks at Biologos simply talking past ID arguments in their strongest form:

His main comment on the book’s next chapter, “What Darwinism Can’t Do” is to tell the reader to search PubMed for the words “cilium” and “evolution.” One gets lots of papers that contain both those words, he assures us. He naively assumes that means progress is being made on how the cilium could have arisen by a Darwinian mechanism. Ussery is simply wrong. Most of those papers have nothing to do with how the cilium evolved. Others contain interesting studies of which ciliary proteins are similar to which other proteins (which at best concerns only the topic of common descent) as well as vague, speculative scenarios, but none of the papers describes in testable detail how a structure like the cilium could have arisen step-by-step by a Darwinian mechanism. Dave’s argument might be dubbed “The Argument from Personal Credulity” — because he and others believe the cilium could arise by Darwinian means, it must have done so, and any paper that agrees it happened must contain strong evidence that it did happen. Credulity, however, is not ordinarily considered a scientific virtue.

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