Friday, March 28, 2008

How do Scientists use the word “Theory”?

I have heard many people who believe in Creation say “But evolution is only a theory.”
What they mean is that in denying the evolutionary view of life they are not denying proven facts.

The difficulty is that the statement includes two words which are used in very different ways and the statement is therefore open to serious misunderstanding.

I explained why I believe that distinguishing between micro and macro evolution here.


I want to set out a few thoughts about the word “theory” here.

It is a word with multiple senses from relatively loose to very tight and is therefore a source of confusion.

In ordinary speech it is used in the following ways:
Speculative suggestion which provides an explanation for one or more observations. The Shorter Oxford dictionary has this description: “An unsubstantiated hypothesis; a speculative (esp. fanciful) view.
Theory vs Practice – In theory how something should be done – Abstract knowledge and speculative thought. A scheme of how to do something including all the rules and principles to be followed- eg a theory about bringing up children.
A hypothesis that has been confirmed or established by experiments or observations and is accepted as accounting for known facts.
In science the word has a set of more specialised meanings.
There seem to be two dimensions of use of the word “Theory” in Science.

Its reach – how high in the hierarchy of scientific knowledge is it?
“a comprehensive explanation”
The oxidative stress theory of Ageing is of a much lower order in Biological Theories than the theory of evolution.

Its validity – how certain are we that it is correct?

There are five ways the word is used in science:

1. The NAS definition of scientific theory indicates that the use of the word theory should be reserved for the very highest level of validity:

“supported by many facts gathered over time” “so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them”
Tests – Logical consistency, How throroughly it explains data and how broadly it can be applied.
The Panspermia theory of the origin of life on earth is of much lower validity than Theory of DNA being the coding molecule for the production of proteins in the cell.


The NAS has attempted to define the word theory as having a very wide reach and the highest possible standard of validity.

“In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature that is supported by many facts gathered over time.”
“Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory.”

However though the NAS clearly uses the word like this in some of its publications this is not a comprehensive definition covering all uses of the word in the current professional scientific literature. On its own this is actually a misleading definition and is therefore unhelpful. It does not relect the real usage of the word in science.



2. It is used for a confirmed hypothesis.
e.g. New theory confirms that genetic kin recognition is inherently unstable, explaining its rarity.
3. It is used for an unconfirmed hypothesis or for one of several competing hypotheses.
e.g. here
4. It is used for explanations which have been shown to be incomplete or even wrong.
e.g The Ether Theory for the propagation of light.
Newtons theory of motion ie it is not a complete theory and does not work well near the speed of light.
5. Theoretical speculation currently unverifiable- String Theory or Theories of Everything.

Now in what way is ID a scientific theory and in what way is it not?

I would answer
1. No
2. No
3. Yes
ID is one of several competing hypotheses for the origin of biological complexity.
4. No
5. No

Other references:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory

http://www2.ncseweb.org/kvd/experts/behe.pdf
(9.6MB includes large images)

27 Comments:

Anonymous Brian said...

"It is used for an unconfirmed hypothesis or for one of several competing hypotheses."

This is the 'notX=X' argument again. An unconfirmed hypothesis does not become a theory (of any value) because it cannot be refuted! It's hard to refute ID simply because it doesn't say anything of any value. All it will ever be is 'unconfirmed', just as the FSM is - is that a real theory?

Competing hypotheses have substance that can be engaged with and proved or refuted. ID deliberately lacks substance, is a position of faith and ignores every refutation that has been put it's way. 'Unconfirmed hypothesis' is not a recipe for success in science - that's wishful thinking.

12:13 am  
Anonymous Cedric Katesby said...

Andrew, let me say right off the bat that I respect your attempt to accurately define ID.
I fully expected you to just dodge the issue. Instead, you devoted a special thread to it.
Kudos.
Most ID proponents invariably just try and weasel out of such an awkward (yet basic) question.

However, I must agree with Brian's assessment. There is no substance here.

The ID people are not shy at all in proclaiming that ID is real science and that it's a real theory.
They use the word "theory" all the time.
That's a deliberate misleading of the public.
Getting an ID'er to scientifically define ID is like trying to "nail Jello to a wall".
Certainly none of the Discovery Institute 'luminaries' are prepared to do so.
When ID supporters are challenged on this over the net, they have no resources to use and appear foolish.
Oddly though, the standard response (present company excepted) is for them to resent the challenger's question rather than resent the Discovery Institute for leaving them high and dry in a discussion.

3:25 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Cedric,

The second of my two links is a documents written by Behe from which I got most of the ideas of my piece.

1:57 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Brian,

An unconfirmed hypothesis is not necessarily an unconfirmable hypothesis. I argued that there are predictions of ID which can be tested and are being worked on.

here and here and here

2:04 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

"An unconfirmed hypothesis is not necessarily an unconfirmable hypothesis."

I agree completely - plate tectonics is one such theory. However, unlike ID, it used observation and testable predictions to prove it's worth. Have you seen a continent move?

ID can claim to have 'observation' as a basis but so can the FSM. Where both fail to make the grade is that every instance of claimed testability are readily explainable by natural phenomenon. It has been demonstrated ad nauseum that ID does not appeal to natural phenomenon, and hence, science.

Arguing the minutia of a scientific term does not alter the fact that it is irrelevant to ID, which attempts to prove the existence of the supernatural grand wizard (you choose which one).

There is no known scientific method that can detect the supernatural. If there were we could dispense with religion which is largely the 'belief in the unconfirmable.'

4:34 pm  
Blogger MR. X said...

I don't understand Andre's claim that ID is a 'confirmable' claim. Are there any predictions whatsoever that could be accuratley made? Do you mean that God will suddenly create another species?

Contact:
www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/

5:44 pm  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

There are many observable phenomena in the natural world that indicate ID and indeed the ball is now squarely in the court of those who try to maintain a purely materialistic and purposeless worldview. Examples abound: The fact that there was a begining to space/time - indicates a cause outside of time. Multiple universes and cycles of our own universe merely put off the logical inference that there had to be a cause outside the universe for what exists physically.

The absolutely stunning fine tuning of the physical constants our universe - which would have no life if it was not so tuned - is overwhelming evidence of design.

The construction of DNA without any enzymes and from scratch is itself an enormous problem for evolutionists. It appears to be impossible.

The existence of any life on earth and in particular the 'semantic' information in DNA is immensely strong evidence for ID. Computer programs are designed - the information in DNA is even more obviously designed.

The simplest bacterium is in itself irreducibly complex and needed a large suite of genes and enzymes and molecular machinery and a very complex cell membrane to all be there at the start. There is not even the remotest non ID answer to this in all the literature concerning the start of life.

The fossil evidence is that of discontinuous 'saltational' progress - not the accumulation of micro-evolutionary changes that are required to validate Darwinism.

The prime example of this is in the Cambrian explosion but is seen throughout and acknowledged by any serious palaeontologist.

The appearance of the human brain - tripling in size from that of any Australopithecus within just 3 million years, with brand new immensely complex hard wiring (for language in particular) simply defies any Darwinian solution based upon lucky mutations. And all this in few generations of small populations of hominins.

The recent work by Michael Behe (in the Edge of Evolution) shows with painstakingly gathered hard data on malaria and other micro-organisms, that mutations simply do not have the ability to produce anything novel enough for selection to add new systems or structures.

Darwinism - that wonderful paradigm - is now Darwinism of the gaps - the more we discover about life and the universe, the smaller the gaps are to support it.

11:36 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

Ramen

11:03 pm  
Anonymous Cedric Katesby said...

Can't open the link to Behe.
Do you have a different link?

"An unconfirmed hypothesis is not necessarily an unconfirmable hypothesis."

If ID is a hypothesis then why do ID proponents call it a theory all the time?
If ID really IS a hypothesis then how is it actually a hypothesis? (Or do you have a special, unique definition for the word hypothesis?)

If the hypothesis is actually testable then...TEST IT!
Get some work done.
How many ID scientists are busy right now doing the work?

Behe has a lab.
How much work has he done on this?
Well...not much.
(Stuff all, as a matter of fact!)
http://www.home.duq.edu/~lampe/BeheCV2.html

"I argued that there are predictions of ID which can be tested and are being worked on."

Axe wrote a paper. Didn't actually mention ID at all. Never defined it. Wasn't the topic of his paper.
http://www.talkreason.org/articles/unsupported.cfm

You then offer a golf analogy. (??)
Truely unimpressive.
ID is full of analogies.
Precious little science going on.

6:23 am  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

jpcmtsqA good scientific theory is one that is potentially refutable.There are tests which can be applied to it that leave it open to falsification (as Popper has shown us). Thus a theory requires predictions based on that theory - which may turn out not to happen - thus falsifying it. Einstein's theory of relativity beautifully was confirmed when light was seen to be bent by the sun's gravity...a prediction he made.

There are a number of predictions for evolutionary theory which are required by it and which it has failed in. Darwin rightly said that if any structure or part of life was found that could not have been formed by tiny successive incremental changes over time - then his theory would fail. We now have now found an abundance of such structures in life. Of course this is disputable - but it is exactly what science is about and is based on facts, not speculation.

More seriously for Darwinism, is the now very strong evidence against random mutations being able to provide the needed complex new information which natural selection can act on. An essential prediction of evolutionary theory is that we will discover mutations that confer brand new useful information and these are common enough to provide the complexity of life. Behe has painstakingly shown in his book 'The Edge of Evolution' that (with the knowledge we have about micro-organism's mutations)such an ability of mutations is absent. In other words we have scientific data now which falsifies Darwinism at its very foundation - the source of variation. What more does ID need to do?

10:04 am  
Anonymous Cedric Katesby said...

"In other words we have scientific data now which falsifies Darwinism at its very foundation - the source of variation. What more does ID need to do?"

Let's pretend that this is true.
(It isn't but let's pretend anyway.)

Falsifying one theory doesn't equal evidence for another theory.

Poo-pooing the Theory of Evolution does not somehow magically create the Theory of ID.

You've fallen into the logic trap of the False Dichotomy.

This excellent video will quickly and simply explain it for you:

Fallacy of ID and creationism-False Dichotomy [Reloaded]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9MdYU0S7CQ&feature=related

4:53 pm  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

agsCedric,
I have looked at the video. There are a number of reasons why it fails to impress me.

1. ID theory does not actually specify the nature of the Designer. It cannot do that and you will find that scientists such as Behe and mathematicians such as Dembski clearly say (even if they are Christians) that the designer(s) could even be aliens. So it is not a dichotomy between Evolution and God. In my own book, though I state I am a Christian, I never claim to support some Biblical concept of a Creator.

2. The video ignores the fact that detection of design is a perfectly valid scientific pursuit that is carried out all the time by scientists. SETI scientists base their work on detection of design (such as finding a signal with the first 100 prime numbers in sequence). If such a signal were found then they would rightly conclude the message was designed.
Archaeologists and forensic scientists are doing very similar things. To say that this is not applicable to the study of life is absurd.

3. The video (somewhat tiresomely and pompously) keeps going on about the fact that finding problems with evolution merely strengthens the theory as it is refined. You need to read Thomas Kuhn on shifting paradigms in science. Many a scientific theory has been honestly held for centuries (eg. the ptolemeic system of planets) only to be discarded as new evidence emerges. Why should evolution be immune from such testing? I have already explained how it has demonstrably failed in key areas of falsification.

4. While I agree that some creationist 'science' is very poor and indeed not really science, it is quite dishonest and ostrich like to paint all ID science with the same brush - as the video does. In my own field of medicine we sometimes see bad science (such as the purported evidence that MMR causes autism) - do I then label all doctors and their research as 'ignorant'?

5. What people who make videos like this really don't not like about ID is that it suggests the supernatural. It would be better to come out clean with this (though the aliens that may have designed us may not be supernatural). Fine - object to ideas of the supernatural but in doing so part company with some of the best scientists we have ever known - from Newton to Faraday and Maxwell etc etc etc.

8:54 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

"though the aliens that may have designed us..."

Do you seriously expect us to believe you would accept alien life to have given rise to life on earth when that would justly resign your god to an also-ran? Nobody believes this is anything other than a religious agenda.

11:19 pm  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

I do not believe aliens designed us. I am a Christian. What I am saying is that detection of design does not in itself specify the nature of the designer. That is all. No agenda - just the logic of it.

9:02 am  
Anonymous Brian said...

"...detection of design does not in itself specify the nature of the designer"

This is an absurd position to take for a number of reasons:

If you do not believe aliens created us why mention it? You are entitled to your personal beliefs but, as you are aware that invoking the supernatural is a science-stopper, you invoke a friendlier alternative that you are unable to commit to?

Entertaining the notion that 'design' is one day 'detected' the first question ANYONE would ask is who is the designer? When Newton worked out an explanation for the motion of the planets do you think he dismissed a central tenet of his thinking, gravity?

You can ascribe 'design' to anything but when you do the science it becomes a non sequitur.
There's a Nobel waiting for anyone who proves otherwise.

10:00 am  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

"...If you do not believe aliens created us why mention it? You are entitled to your personal beliefs but, as you are aware that invoking the supernatural is a science-stopper, you invoke a friendlier alternative that you are unable to commit to?"

Sorry but I miss your logic here. We have strong scientific evidence of design in nature. It is then up to anyone to work out the implications of this. For (other) reasons I have a belief in a personal Creator. I do not pretend that the evidence for design that we have gives enough information to specify exactly who or what the designer is. Surely that is an honest opinion - I am not sure why you wish to quibble about it. By the way - how is 'invoking the supernatural' a science stopper? It did not stop Newton and many others. By definition science studies the physical evidence in nature. By definition the supernatural is not included in that BUT - ( a big but) the evidence of design within the physical universe can point to an answer outside of it which is supernatural. The idea that there is only the physical and no supernatural is a very new one and unproveable.


"..You can ascribe 'design' to anything but when you do the science it becomes a non sequitur.
There's a Nobel waiting for anyone who proves otherwise."

You cannot ascribe design to anything. But when ID theorists do infer design in some aspect of nature, then it is to do with our scientific knowledge (not lack of knowledge). There is a common and mistaken misconception that ID theory is based on gaps in our knowledge which 'science' will one day fill in. The exact opposite is the case. Behe's work on mutations, for example, is based on positive information due to our recently increased knowledge.

6:07 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

I have never wished to quibble with, nor am I concerned about, your personal beliefs. I am concerned that an immense body of (growing) knowledge is so readily dismissed because of personal incredulity (rather than factual knowledge) and is used to further a political agenda. Let's not kid ourselves.

I am still waiting to hear about the strong evidence you claim to have for design - evidence that never materialises for some strange reason? Nothing that ID has proposed has stood up to scientific scrutiny. Nobody outside of ID takes Behe, or his arguments, seriously. As I understand it, his work has been dealt another blow by recently published work. He chooses to publish his groundbreaking work in the popular press rather than the normal channels of peer review for a reason.

Despite your protestations, the 'theory' of ID is precisely targeted at gaps in scientific knowledge as it's all it can do. What precisely IS the theory of ID and where is the body of knowledge that gives it the right to be called a theory? It is a conjecture based on observation that is more readily explainable by natural phenomenon. Show me examples where ID is irrefutable when observed through the lens of natural science?

There is a reason the supernatural is excluded from science - it, by definition, does not follow natural laws. When someone comes up with a workable method then maybe we can look into it again but I'm not holding my breath! Wishful thinking does not count.

6:55 pm  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

"...Despite your protestations, the 'theory' of ID is precisely targeted at gaps in scientific knowledge as it's all it can do. What precisely IS the theory of ID and where is the body of knowledge that gives it the right to be called a theory? It is a conjecture based on observation that is more readily explainable by natural phenomenon. Show me examples where ID is irrefutable when observed through the lens of natural science?"

Well actually there is now a huge body of knowledge in support of ID. You may as well ask a forensic scientist/pathologist what his science is. When detecting evidence of design at a scene of someone's death - then he or she will use a body of well tried methods for doing just that. Or an archaeologist looking at some marks on a stone. This is well researched science. Are you going to say - only a natural explanation is possible?? ID uses similar methods - though actually more rigorous in most cases. Dembski - for example, as a mathematician can show us what the probabilties are for some specified complexity in nature being random or designed.

Only today I have been reading in the New Scientist (12 April) about the fine tuning that was needed to cause the minute imbalance between matter and anti-matter at the very start of the universe (without which we would not exist). I quote from Helen Quinn, Professor of physics at Stanford University: "By studying the amounts of light elements forged in the very early universe, we can work out that there must have been 30,000,001 matter particles for every 30,000,000 antimatter particles. It seems very unlikely that such a fine-tuned situation appeared accidentally." Actually that is just one of a host of exquisitely fine tuned conditions found in the early cosmos. This is amazing evidence of design from pure science. No conjecture.

Could you let us know what new work has discounted Behe's findings about mutations?

6:54 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

Forensic science, pathology, archaeolgy etc; all methods for detecting the evidence of human activity. Are you saying life was started by humans or that humans are supernatural? Hijacking others science is disingenuous as support for ID, which you seem happy to concede is detecting the supernatural?

Like Behe, Dembski doesn't have a very high standing in his field. Had he not backed out of the Dover trial we would have heard from his rebuttal expert, Jeff Shallit (one of his former teachers apparently), who doesn't have a high opinion of Dembski's grasp of the maths or statistics he used in the ID work (very shoddy for an apparently capable mathematician?). If you google for the court transcripts Shallit's expert witness report is available to read. It doesn't pull any punches.

I'm not convinced by the 'fine tuning' argument either. Do you think you are reading too much into her comments? I haven't read much about this but I seem to recall that the argument for fine tuning (for certain constants to be changed by a fraction would alter the universe we see) is flawed; if they changed it would merely alter the rate at which we see them? I'm not a physicist but I understand there is not a concensus of 'design' in that field either.

Here is the discussion on Behe's work.

Can you please point me to an irrefutable example of ID?

8:14 pm  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

"..Forensic science, pathology, archaeolgy etc; all methods for detecting the evidence of human activity. Are you saying life was started by humans or that humans are supernatural? Hijacking others science is disingenuous as support for ID, which you seem happy to concede is detecting the supernatural?"

You are missing the point here. We are not discussing the nature of the designer - simply the fact that science can and does detect design. All the time. ID applies this to nature. Why is that taboo?

I do reccomend you look into the fine tuning arguments. Essentially the conclusion is that A/ The universe is designed. or B/ There are enormous numbers of other universes and we just happened to strike lucky. B then runs into the age old problem of where did the other universes come from? Everything in the physical world has a cause.

I have carefully read the article that you have highlighted which tries to undo Behe's arguments in the Edge of Evolution. I felt it to be very weak and this is shown by the following initial comments:
1/ He discussed how Human growth Factor receptors can work even if the 2 amino acids used in the binding are altered by induced mutation. 2 points here: this is human intervention which is a form of design. More importantly - the actual shape of the binding site depends on the entire structure of the folded protein molecule - which is completely and uniquely dependant on the amino acid sequence of the protein. There is no growth factor or its receptor without a host of sequences being just right. Tinkering with just 2 amino acids and getting the same function is not creating a NEW receptor site.
2/ He implies that Behe has suggested that most mammal Protein-protein binding sites could only recently have ocurred. Behe does no such thing. Check his book out.Behe's book anyway has far more than just P-P binding. By looking at actual mutations in malaria etc - to counter drugs in particular - he has clearly shown the lack of ability for organisms to create anything functionally new by mutations.
3/ He sites Grueninger as having 'created' strong P-P binding sites on proteins in the lab which arranged themselves into multimers and complexes. What he fails to mention is that these had no new function (presumably they had no function). Complexity is not what Behe is about - it is 'specified complexity' IE with a unique function. A scrap heap is complex - not much function though.
4/ He discusses bovine seminal ribonuclease and says there are multiple ways to get the ribonuclease to dimerise. But it is still ribonuclease! No new function (a recurring theme I am afraid).
5/ He goes on about proteasomes and the way they seem to have evolved from monomers in archaic bacteria to complexes of even 28 subunits. Once again I fail to see what is very new here. No new function - just tinkering with the original.
I have tried honestly to see this chap's arguments and find them very thin or non-existent.

7:27 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

The nature of the designer in intrinsic to how it is detectable. Methodology that relies upon knowledge of human (natural) behaviour is, by definition, inapplicable to detecting what must be supernatural. That's the whole point!

There is nothing taboo with wanting to invoke 'design' in anything. That's your personal choice. Where we differ is in your assertion that it is detectable using naturalistic methodology. Behe's claim of design in the flagellar has been thoroughly discredited but I dare say you disagree? Is that because you cannot (or do not wish to) accept the alternative?

I have no personal need to appeal to design as it would spoil the richness we have in evolving nature. I am open minded to it as a concept but I still await irrefutable proof of it's existence.

I suggest you take up your mutation concerns with Ian as he is qualified to address them.

8:29 pm  
Blogger joe said...

antony latham,

"The fact that there was a begining to space/time - indicates a cause outside of time."

How is it a fact that there was "a begining to space/time"? It's conjecture at best.

"There are a number of predictions for evolutionary theory which are required by it and which it has failed in. Darwin rightly said that if any structure or part of life was found that could not have been formed by tiny successive incremental changes over time - then his theory would fail. We now have now found an abundance of such structures in life. Of course this is disputable - but it is exactly what science is about and is based on facts, not speculation."

If it is disputable whether such structures have been found, then your assertion that they could not have been formed (as an absolute assertion) is false, and it is therefore false to claim that the theory of evolution has failed the prediction in this regard. You are engaging in speculation.

"The construction of DNA without any enzymes and from scratch is itself an enormous problem for evolutionists."

It's not just a problem for "evolutionists", it's a problem for any scientist interested in getting to the bottom of the origin of DNA. However, the claim by the people you call "evolutionists" is not that DNA was "constructed" "from scratch", but of course that it evolved gradually. It is far from a closed subject, but you can find out more about the current scientific thinking on this subject at www.evolutionofdna.com.

"The existence of any life on earth and in particular the 'semantic' information in DNA is immensely strong evidence for ID. Computer programs are designed - the information in DNA is even more obviously designed."

It is designed because it is "obviously designed", and that's supposed to be "immensely strong evidence for ID"?? You might want to rethink this reasoning.

The simplest bacterium is in itself irreducibly complex and needed a large suite of genes and enzymes and molecular machinery and a very complex cell membrane to all be there at the start. There is not even the remotest non ID answer to this in all the literature concerning the start of life.

1. You really need to start reading up on mainstream science literature on this subject. There's plenty available on the Internet. And again, you're assuming that the theory of evolution claims that all these things occur at once instead of evolving gradually.

2. Something can be said to be irreducibly complex when it can be shown that it cannot possibly have evolved. That is a very difficult thing to show, and until then you can only claim that something may be irreducibly complex.

3. There is no scientific ID answer as to how bacteria were designed/created.

"The fossil evidence is that of discontinuous 'saltational' progress - not the accumulation of micro-evolutionary changes that are required to validate Darwinism."

Actually, the fossil evidence shows both, and both are compatible with the theory of evolution.

9:16 am  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

Joe,

""..How is it a fact that there was "a begining to space/time"? It's conjecture at best."

Well that is the current and overwhelming opinion of cosmologists.

"..If it is disputable whether such structures have been found, then your assertion that they could not have been formed (as an absolute assertion) is false, and it is therefore false to claim that the theory of evolution has failed the prediction in this regard. You are engaging in speculation."

I merely say it is disputable so that reasonable discussion can occur (after all it is disputed) - the alternative is to go down the line of Darwinists who will often not allow discussion. Actually the flagellum, amongst thousands of other similarly irreducible molecular machines, (despite all the hype from Dover and frankly miserable attempts to find intermediate structures)is plainly irreducibly complex. In the appendix of Behe's latest book there is a good outline of the genetic basis for it - the more we look into it the the more obvious it gets - on a purely objective and logical level.

"..It's not just a problem for "evolutionists", it's a problem for any scientist interested in getting to the bottom of the origin of DNA. However, the claim by the people you call "evolutionists" is not that DNA was "constructed" "from scratch", but of course that it evolved gradually. It is far from a closed subject, but you can find out more about the current scientific thinking on this subject at www.evolutionofdna.com."

I have looked at this web site. I am not sure I have ever read such gobbledy-gook before claiming to be science. I am appalled. Who is the author anyway? (Please understand that I am not meaning to offend you here.) Well meaning people will be taken in by this. Rarely have I seen conjecture and story telling on such a grand scale.

"...It is designed because it is "obviously designed", and that's supposed to be "immensely strong evidence for ID"?? You might want to rethink this reasoning."

We are talking here of semantic information. It is like language with meaning. Always this is due to design (can you find any exceptions?). The information in DNA is no different.

In answer to your next 3 points: I do read the latest scientific literature. There have been no significant developments in the quest for how life started since I wrote my book "The Naked Emperor: Darwism exposed" in 2005. I and many others stand by what I said in that book. A good read is Paul Davies' 'the fifth miracle'. As for the question of machines that are irreducibly complex - there is a large body of evidence looking into this. Of course Behe's work on the flagellum stands out and has never been shown to be wrong - I have read his opponents at length again and again and have not found any that comes close to refuting his arguments. This is where evolution theory is more of religion than science - folk cannot tolerate anything that is not reducible to pure materialism. That is a faith based 'religion'. You then say there is no scientific ID explanation for irreducible complexity. Of course there is'nt. If there was it would not be ID.

Lastly you say evolution is compatible with both gradualism and saltational jumps. Not so. There is absolutely no known or understood genetic mechanism for saltations. Various 'hopeful monster' ideas have been put out and rightly abandoned. Worth reading Gould on the history of these idaes in his tome 'The Structure of Evolutionary Theory'. Dawkins holds ferociously to gradualism only - and you can understand why, the alternative seems too miraculous.

10:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dawkins holds ferociously to gradualism only"

No he does not, you are grossly misrepresenting him and evolutionary biology.

9:45 pm  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

Anonymous:

Read chapter nine of 'The Blind Watchmaker'. Here he makes it clear how he is a gradualist.

2:07 pm  
Blogger Smokey said...

Antony wrote:
"Actually the flagellum, amongst thousands of other similarly irreducible molecular machines, (despite all the hype from Dover and frankly miserable attempts to find intermediate structures)is plainly irreducibly complex."

Actually, you're completely wrong. First, flagella have evolved independently multiple times, so writing "the flagellum" without specifying which one only reveals your massive ignorance. Secondly, many of the components of the eubacterial flagellum can be deleted without eliminating function.

"In the appendix of Behe's latest book there is a good outline of the genetic basis for it - the more we look into it the the more obvious it gets - on a purely objective and logical level."

If you've only read Behe's preposterous book, you haven't looked into it at all.

"In answer to your next 3 points: I do read the latest scientific literature."

But if you can't understand Axe's paper, you don't understand the latest scientific literature.

"I and many others stand by what I said in that book."

How about your false claims about banana vs. human sequences?

"A good read is Paul Davies' 'the fifth miracle'. As for the question of machines that are irreducibly complex - there is a large body of evidence looking into this."

But you can't cite any.

"Of course Behe's work on the flagellum stands out and has never been shown to be wrong -"

Behe hasn't done any actual work on any flagellum and pretty much everything he's claimed about flagella has been shown to be wrong.

6:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I assume Antony you missed out or misunderstood the description of wandering in the desert over 40 days Dawkins uses in the Blind Watchmaker?

9:13 pm  

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