Big Problems with Intelligent Design

Falsehoods, deceptions, misrepresentations and misinterpretations
from the Discovery
Institute creationists

Send comments to John G. Wise
(jwise <at> smu.edu)

 

Please also see this listing of criticisms of Intelligent Design from the SMU Physics Department found here.

 

A "Not-all-inclusive" list of problems with Intelligent Design

 

Quickly jump to a topic of interest:

A.  Introduction (or Why am I doing this?)

B.  Did the Cambrian Explosion require an Intelligent Designer?

C.  Other arguments presented against Evolution

D.  Was the Discovery Institute being intellectually honest?

E.  The Discovery Institute seeks to redefine science

F.  Discovery Institute problems with the fossil record

G.  Irreducible complexity fails scientific testing

H.  Biological organisms are not intelligently designed

I.   Intelligent Design is not science

J.  Religion and evolution are compatible

K. Acknowledgments

L. Tit-for-Tat: Responses to the Discovery Institute blogs and articles

News articles:

1. "SMU professors speak out against Discovery Institute presentation" 9/27/10 (SMU Daily Campus article)

2. SMU Religious Studies Professor Mark A. Chancey "examines Intelligent Design" 10/4/10 (SMU Daily Campus article)

 

My responses posted here:

1. Response to Douglas Axe: Does the phrase "No items found" mean the same thing as "Peer review"? 9/30/10

2. Response to Meyer, Wells, Sternberg & Nelson: The Discovery Institute doesn't like this website 10/2/10

3. Does astrology fit your definition of science? A short response to Discovery Institute Lawyer Casey Luskin's objection to my handling of the Behe science redefinition 10/11/10

 

A. Introduction (or Why am I doing this?)

On September 23, 2010 the Discovery Institute arrived on the campus of Southern Methodist University to hold an event entitled "4 Nails in Darwin's Coffin". They presented a film and live presentations filled with distortions of the legitimate scientific literature to bolster what they believe is evidence for the existence of a Creator (the Intelligent Designer).

Drs. Meyer, Axe, Sternberg, Nelson and Wells from the Seattle, Washington Discovery Institute, and its "research" lab in Redmond, Washington (The Biologic Institute) were the stars of the show.

The Discovery Institute has been discussed at length in numerous articles. Here is a sample of the power they wield in getting creationism into public school science education. Here is the "white paper" written to define the Intelligent Design political movement (the Wedge Document). The "governing goals" of the movement are reproduced here:

  • To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
  • To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

A professionally produced DVD entitled Darwin's Dilemma was shown to the mostly elderly audience with a sprinkling of students and younger adults. The event was sponsored by a student religious organization known as Pulse as well as the Victory Campus Ministries through the Office of the Chaplain at SMU. 

My one-line critique of the film:

Misquoted, misrepresented, falsely interpreted, grossly exaggerated and outright silliness tangentially derived from the scientific literature concentrating on four real scientists (Darwin, Gould, Conway-Morris and Valentine) slickly mixed with deception, misinterpretations and long-windedness from five Discovery Institute employees (Meyer, Wells, Nelson, Axe and Sternberg).

Redeeming qualities of the film: Just one - The Cambrian fauna graphics were fun to watch.

To see what some SMU faculty members had to say about the DVD and Discovery Institute presentations, click here.

To see what some SMU faculty said about the last Discovery Institute visit to SMU in 2007, click here.

If you are looking for a Darwin/Evolution event organized by SMU academic organizations, please go to http://smu.edu/darwin .

 

The Darwin's Dilemma film has already been reviewed by highly qualified individuals. For example Professor Martin Brasier of Oxford University posted his critical assessment of the film's errors here. I have paraphrased Professor Brasier directly where noted in the following list.

 

I thought I would try to get a handle on what the Discovery Institute was talking about by listing what I have heard their Fellows say in this film as well as in other events and actions. As the list grew, I began to wonder more and more about their motives. I'll leave you to make up your own mind.

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B. Did the Cambrian Explosion require an Intelligent Designer?      

1. The Cambrian Explosion is claimed by the Discovery Institute to require the intervention of an intelligent designer.

Sean Carroll neatly summarizes his own and others' work describing the genetic mechanisms for building complex animal bodies in ENDLESS FORMS MOST BEAUTIFUL, Norton, New York, 2005. He writes about research that shows how the evolution of genetic switches can generate new animal body forms. The master genes and switches for building body segments were the keys. Once the developmental programs for body segments were first used, they could be duplicated and varied. The genes required for this type of animal body building were around for a very long time - at least 50 million years before the Cambrian Explosion occurred and most likely much longer.

50 million years is a very slow fuse (see Prothero for more on the slow fuse of the Cambrian Radiations).

2. Contrary to what the film asserts, transitional forms between animal phyla have been found in Cambrian rocks (Chengjiang biota): Halkieria and Maikhanella for mollusks; Eccentrotheca and Camenella for brachiopods. [Summarized from statements made by Prof. Brasier, Oxford University. See the referenced work for background.]

It should be noted here that nearly all paleontologists accept that the chance of finding any transitional intermediate fossils is low. As Phillip Gingerich (co-discoverer of many of the whale transitional species) said in an informal talk last year, "finding fossils is easy. It's finding the really interesting ones that's difficult."

There are of course many general reasons why finding transitional fossils is a difficult task: 

The precursor forms may have inhabited a limited range where the transition took place. We have strong evidence that evolution happens most quickly in small populations. Migrations from these source areas to an area conducive to fossilization then make it appear as if a new form arrived suddenly in the fossil record.

Other reasons for the scarcity of transitional fossils may be that the precursors may not have encountered the special sorts of circumstances needed to create fossils, especially of soft tissues. This is especially problematic for soft-bodied organisms. many Precambrian life forms were soft-bodied.

Additionally the exposure of rocks from any given age (the Precambrian, for example) is not constant and does not occur at all points on the face of the Earth. Some may have already been exposed and eroded away, while many others may still be buried quite deeply.

The simple fact that transitions between animal phyla have been discovered (see above), discounts the Discovery Institute's claim that "there are no clear evolutionary precursors to the Cambrian fauna" - quote taken from the "FAQ" handed out before the DVD showing.

3. The point in evolutionary theory that the Discovery Institute is attacking when they assert that there are no transitional intermediates between forms or species is the basic premise of "descent from common ancestors", what Darwin called "descent with modification over generations".

I would point out here that there is an enormous amount of scientific evidence in addition to the fossil record that supports "common descent" of not just all animals, but of all life on this planet.

Such commonalities as the common genetic code, shared biochemical pathways and metabolism, the huge number of related protein families, and indeed the relatedness of whole genomes (including those of humans and our closest ancestors) reveal this common ancestry where ever it is looked for.

4. Contrary to what the film asserts, you can not study the emergence of animals in the Burgess Shale (see here, here and here) because these rocks were deposited 505 mya (millions of years ago). The original animal radiations had already happened by this date. In fact, the modern phyla radiation began at least 545 mya (40 million years earlier). Trilobites and echinoderms (star-fish-like organism) were already established in rocks formed 520 mya (Chengjiang biota). We have, therefore, a period of at least 25 million years and likely even longer for the animal body form radiations to have occurred. [Summarized from statements made by Prof. Brasier, Oxford University.]

5. But wait... it gets even better for Darwin and even worse for the Discovery Institute:

The Discovery Institute in their "Darwin's Dilemma FAQ" state that "there are no clear evolutionary precursors to the Cambrian fauna". The Cambrian explosion is generally accepted to have occurred around 520 million years ago.

Some of the known peer-reviewed science not cited in the film that completely demolishes this assertion by the Discovery Institute was reported by Gordon Love and colleagues last year:

Love found a very specific chemical, a variation of the steroid cholesterol, that is only made by the most primitive of animals, the porifera (click here for his paper).

What is very interesting is that he found this "chemical fossil" in 635 million year old rocks!

115 million years before the Cambrian explosion animals already existed!

Love et al. state that these finds "represent the oldest evidence for animals in the fossil record".

And he found them continuously in rocks dated closer and closer to the Cambrian, which tells us these animals survived all the way to the Cambrian radiation.

This work all by itself simply demolishes the assertion by the Discovery Institute that "there are no clear evolutionary precursors to the Cambrian fauna".

6. Again contrary to what the film asserts, there were already great mass extinctions 20 million years before the Cambrian explosion. You need lots of organisms to have a mass extinction and it happened a long time before the "explosion". Prof. Brasier asks, "Did the Intelligent Designer make some big mistakes?" Why the extinctions? [Summarized from statements made by Prof. Brasier, Oxford University.]

These mass extinctions that occurred before the Cambrian explosion make very clear that there was abundant life on Earth even before the Cambrian animal radiations. Highly complex life existed on Earth long before 520 mya.

7. Darwin said many small steps are needed for evolution to proceed (see Chapter 4 of On the Origin of Species). He didn't say they had to be slow (or fast). In fact many have shown that evolutionary changes can occur very quickly under some circumstances and slower under other circumstances. (In this paper one can read a study about a single biological entity that shows fast or slow rates of evolutionary change depending on the conditions the population finds itself in.)

8. Stephen Meyer (Discovery Institute co-founder) apparently playing to the Dallas, Texas audience, stated about the Cambrian Radiation that "20-80 million years is not gonna git 'er done".

Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Oxford Martin Brasier, in his critique of the film stated, "Since the Burgess Shale is a mere 505 Ma old, this gives us palaeontologists some 40 million years to play with. What a gift!" (see here).

I guess that Professor Brasier and other paleontologists will be happy for the additional 80 million years Meyer is willing to concede, even though they don't seem to need it.

9. The DVD didn't consider the question of how large of a range one would expect the immediate ancestors of the Cambrian explosion to have inhabited.

We know that evolution can act quite quickly on small populations that are isolated.

It's quite likely that the new Cambrian phyla would have originally evolved in an isolated system like this, and then populated the whole ocean.

If so, then it's actually fairly improbable that we'll stumble upon fossil evidence of these ancestors: we'll have to find the inland sea, and hope that part of it somehow got buried in mud well enough to preserve some fossils, and hope that those fossils didn't erode away in the half-billion years since then -- i.e., don't hold your breath.

Even so, we have found such transitions and they decimate the Discovery Institute claims. (see # B.2 above)

10. The movie didn't consider the positive evidence for thinking that the various animal phyla are related, including genetic similarities that they share distinct from other phyla, and the fact that all earthly life employs basically the same genetic code for translating triplets of DNA base-pairs into amino acids.

This evidence better fits the common descent hypothesis than any (comparatively) plausible intelligent design hypothesis.

By considering only evidence that favors their hypothesis while omitting well-known evidence against it, the movie-makers are misleading the audience.

11. The movie claims that Darwin is committed to thinking that new phyla would emerge one-at-a-time spaced out through Earth's history.

Neither Darwin nor modern evolutionary theory is committed to this.

The modern evolutionary view looks something (roughly) like this:

Carroll and others show that new genetic switches used by "toolkit master proteins" can lead to many different variations in body plans (see #1 above).

This new advance in body building mechanisms would lead to many different body forms (read Carroll's book) and different evolutionary trajectories (see #1 above).

These mechanisms could clearly have resulted in different body plans that would be (and have been) classified as different phyla.

These different phyla could arise simultaneously or close in time in a manner that could be called "from the bottom up", i.e. from early common ancestors (see #5 above - 110 million years to work it out).

The "newness" of this radiation in body forms enabled by new genetic switches used by "toolkit master proteins" (see #1 above) occurred at a time when there was limited competition from other animals. ("Explosion time")

As these different body plans evolved to become more adapted and radiated to fill available niches, there was much less room for awkward newcomers with a completely new body plan to make a go of it.

As competition increased, many of the new body plans were found lacking and went extinct. (It's part of what Darwin described as "natural selection".)

All of this is entirely consistent with current evolutionary theory.

There is no necessity for a "Top Down" mechanism involving an Intelligent Designer.

 

12. For video proof from the actual Discovery Institute presentation of the inconsistencies, exaggerations and contradictions in the arguments of the Discovery Institute employees on the subject of this pathetic DVD, please take a look at this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MHAO4JE0G0 .

It's a short, humorous and very enlightening demonstration of how vacuous the arguments presented by the Discovery Institute really are.
 

13. New evidence strongly shows that the initial radiation of Cambrian animal forms took about 20 million years to happen from 540 to 522 million years ago - not exactly quick. This evidence was collected by real scientists doing real science and was published in a real scientific journal:

 Adam C. Maloof, Susannah M. Porter, John L. Moore, Frank Ö. Dudás, Samuel A. Bowring, John A. Higgins, David A. Fike, and Michael P. Eddy; "The earliest Cambrian record of animals and ocean geochemical change", Geological Society of America Bulletin, November 2010, v. 122, p. 1731-1774, doi:10.1130/B30346.1

For a synopsis of this work, please see the following article in Science Digest here.

[This note added on 11-11-10 - Thanks, Randy, for pointing it out to me.]

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C. Other arguments presented against Evolution

1. Richard Sternberg showed a figure depicting whale evolution and the large numbers of known transitional forms that looked like it was taken from Don Prothero's evolutionary classic, Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters. Sternberg tried to use the figure to attempt to assert that population genetics (mathematical descriptions of evolution) predict that this transitional series couldn't possibly have occurred. He did this without presenting the mathematics used, nor did he talk about the computer programs that actually crunched the required numbers.

I looked for the paper in the Library of Medicine's PubMed (a repository of first tier, peer-reviewed science journals). The "whale transition" search came up with 152 papers among which were the discoveries of the whale intermediates. Sternberg's paper didn't show up. Neither did von Sternberg's. No peer reviewed paper from the Discovery Institute or the Biologic Institute showed up.

Peer reviewed papers are the way scholars and scientists communicate.

The Discovery Institute does not publish in first tier peer-reviewed science journals.

2. Microevolution is sometimes reluctantly accepted by the Discovery Institute, and at other times (as in the talk by Axe) they think microevolution is impossible. Sternberg’s talk entailed that micro-evolution of a double-mutation is practically impossible.

I would like to point out to the Discovery Institute employees that the HIV virus, left unchecked can mutate every nucleotide in its genome in a single patient, generating every single mutation and huge numbers of multiple mutations every day (see D.D. Ho, J. Clin. Invest. 99 (11) 2565-2567 1997).

This is why HIV is such a formidable foe in terms of microevolution of drug resistances.

This is also an example of one of the reasons we need to understand evolution.

In the discussion period, the Discovery Institute's Sternberg and Axe discounted microevolution of drug resistance as non-adaptive and "detrimental to the organism" in which it occurs.  This is simply an irresponsible position to hold. If all scientists held such a position, thousands, if not millions of people will die.

There are so many examples of adaptive microevolution, I won't address this any further. Just Google: multidrug resistant ________ and fill in the blank with one of the following (Neisseria, tuberculosis, cancer, -choose your own/favorite/most scary pathogen-).

3. Douglas Axe argued that since there are extremely many possible strings of base pairs that can be reached by eleven mutations from a given string, it is therefore highly implausible that evolution would stumble upon a particular one.

Axe did not in any way discuss the question of whether some of the strings in this vast search-space have competitive advantages over others.

If variants closer to the "target" string enjoy competitive advantages, then the search problem is not "a blind man choosing at random" (as Stephen Meyer put it at one point in the movie), but instead a simple task of trying small variants of what you have and keeping whatever works best, gradually working your way to the "target".

It may also be worth mentioning that this entire way of thinking about things, as though there is a pre-determined target that must be worked towards, is deeply flawed.

Instead, there are surely many possible "targets" that would have worked out about as well as the ones evolution found.

So even if it is a bit surprising that evolution happened to find exactly this target, it needn't be surprising that it found one of the many targets that works.

Durrett & Schmidt make a similar point in their reply to Behe.

4. Wells put up a slide which said, effectively:

Other factors besides DNA play a role in development (e.g., the egg includes markers that help to orient the body of the embryo), therefore new body plans can't evolve by changes in DNA.

This argument is fallacious for precisely the same reason that it would be fallacious to argue that, since factors other than your recipe play a role in baking your cake (e.g., gravity plays a role), switching recipes can't give you a different type of dessert.

Furthermore, even if you thought that evolving a new body plan would require changing the structure of the egg (e.g., perhaps adding new markers to attract the growth of new limbs),  no reason was given for thinking that changes in DNA couldn't lead mothers to produce these differently structured eggs.

5. If the arguments Axe and Sternberg presented were correct, then all of the well-documented cases of viruses and bacteria evolving resistance to drugs would be impossible without an intelligent designer intervening to help these pathogens generate the new proteins they need.

Which do you think is more plausible: that every time a bacterial strain evolves drug resistance an invisible god-like designer is secretly helping them to thwart our medical efforts, or that there is a flaw in the Discovery Institute's employees' arguments?

6. Not only that, but it gets very much more worse: Wells argued that intervention from an intelligent designer would be necessary to plan out the developmental process for new species, and perhaps even within the developmental process of each embryo. This would of course include about 100 million human embryos per year.

The United States National Institutes of Health estimates "that up to half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously" (See http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001488.htm ).

 If an Intelligent Designer is required to make these embryos viable as Jonathan Wells asserts, what does this ~50% spontaneous abortion rate say about the abilities and the character of the designer?

Isn't it better to leave the development of bodies to natural causes?

Many feel it is quite implausible that an intelligent designer would set up developmental processes so prone to failure.

It's much more plausible that an evolutionary process of trial-and-error would produce many 'errors' that end up needing to be spontaneously be aborted early in their existence.

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D. Was the Discovery Institute being honest?

1. Deceptive tactics were used to produce the DVD: The producers of the DVD shown by the Discovery Institute did not inform and apparently hid from Prof. James W. Valentine, a renowned member of the scientific community, professor at UC Berkeley, and an expert in the evolution of animal phyla, the fact that they were making a creationist's film on the Cambrian Radiation. He felt he was so misrepresented by the producers of the film, he released the following statement: 

  1. 24 September 2009


    What James Valentine Really Thinks About Evolution



    Dr. James Valentine, an evolutionary biologist and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley, is featured in the intelligent design movie Darwin's Dilemma.

    I wish to clarify my role in the new film Darwin's Dilemma. When I was interviewed about a decade ago for the material used in this movie, I was unaware that this interview might appear in a film promoting intelligent design. My appearance should not be misconstrued as support for any creationist agenda.

    I support evolution.

    I disagree with the view that the best explanation for the Cambrian record is the action of an "intelligent designer" instantaneously creating phyla. Had the filmmakers bothered to read my book On the Origin of Phyla, they would have understood that I do not support a creationist interpretation of the Cambrian explosion or the fossil record. Scientific findings in many fields, including my own (paleobiology) as well as geology, geophysics, geochemistry, developmental biology, and systematics, have led to a synthesis of the events surrounding the Cambrian explosion that is in full accord with well-established evolutionary principles.


    When watching Darwin's Dilemma, I ask viewers to note:

    • My interview statements do not criticize evolution

    • My interview statements do not promote creationism or intelligent design

    • Even though my interview is interspersed with several intelligent design advocates, I do not share their interpretation of the Cambrian record

    I would like viewers to know:

    • I think evolution is the best scientific interpretation of the fossil record

    • While the religious views of individuals should be respected, scientists also merit respect earned by generations of hard work in their fields.

    Dr. James Valentine
    University of California,
    Berkeley

 

2. Simon Conway-Morris suffered the similar fate of misrepresentation from the producers of the DVD shown by the Discovery Institute last night.

3. and 4. Misinterpretations (intentional?) by Sternberg (3) and another Discovery Institute Fellow, Michael Behe (4) of a peer-reviewed article by Professors R. Durrett and D. Schmidt of Cornell University (Genetics. 2008 180(3):1501-9) seemingly led to von Sternberg's misinterpretation of the time required to accumulate two mutations. See here for Durrett's explanation of Behe's "naive mathematics". It can be inferred, but not definitively shown (because of the absence of peer reviewed publications), that Sternberg's mathematics is also "naive".

In his talk, Sternberg attributed to Durrett and Schmidt a view that they do not hold.

It is hard to imagine that Sternberg was not aware of the very sharp criticism his Discovery Institute colleague Behe received from Durrett.

It appears that Sternberg was being intellectually dishonest in his talk, trying to claim the support of scientists who don’t actually support his views.

5. The movie didn't consider the positive evidence for thinking that the various animal phyla are related, including genetic similarities that they share distinct from other phyla, and the fact that all earthly life employs basically the same genetic code for translating triples of DNA base-pairs into amino acids.

This evidence better fits the common descent hypothesis than any (comparatively) plausible intelligent design hypothesis.

By considering only evidence that favors their hypothesis while omitting well-known evidence against it, the movie-makers are misleading the audience.

6. The Discovery Institute in their discussion of the film misrepresent scientists as holding views that (a quick Google-search reveals) those scientists expressly deny.

Sternberg presented Durrett & Schmidt as holding that it would take much longer than the 5 million years since our ancestors diverged from chimpanzees for us to have evolved even two successive mutations.

However, Durrett & Schmidt themselves say "double mutations can easily have caused a large number of changes in the human genome since our divergence from chimpanzees."

[See 3. & 4. above.]

 

7. For an event whose advertisements included "Bring your questions", it is quite striking that they didn't even begin Q&A until 20-30 minutes after the scheduled end of the event. No questions were allowed after any of the "employees'" individual talks.

This seems much more like an attempt at one-sided indoctrination than an honest discussion of issues.

8. Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute thanked the “SMU administration” for hosting the event.

This is a blatant suggestion that the event was organized by an academic program of the Southern Methodist University.

This is patently false: The Darwin's Dilemma program was not organized by any SMU academic program.

In the spirit of the First Amendment and in respect to the tradition of American freedom of expression, no SMU academic unit attempted to censor in any way the expression of the Discovery Institute's political/theocratic nonscientific event.

If you are looking for a Darwin/Evolution event organized by SMU academic organizations please go to http://smu.edu/darwin .

9. Who is the Intelligent Designer? All evening long I listened intently to hear one of them state who it is.

Why don't they mention anything on this subject? Could it be the two U.S. Supreme Court losses to Creationism and the Dover, PA Federal District Court decision noting that Intelligent Design is just creationism relabeled? See here.

On the subject of blatant deception and misrepresentation by the Discovery Institute, have some fun and Google "cdesign proponentsists". Let me know what you find.

 

10. Is "No items found" the same as "Peer review"? (see below)

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E. The Discovery Institute seeks to redefine science to encompass the supernatural as well as the natural world.

1. Intelligent design is creationism relabeled. Barbara Forrest showed that the phrase "Intelligent Design" was simply a "cut and paste" substitution for "Creationism" in the Pandas textbook, the book chosen by the Dover Schools. In one instance "creationists" becomes "cdesign proponentsists", the missing link between creationism and intelligent design, See Barbara Forrest (2006). NCSE Resource -- My Role in Kitzmiller v Dover.

2. Intelligent Design is religious in nature. Casey Luskin, a Discovery Institute employee, founded the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center - IDEA at UCSD in 1999. Luskin maintains that intelligent design is a scientific concept, not a religious one. The IDEA Center requires its club presidents to be Christian - from background from the 2/17/06 issue of the Baptist Standard (http://www.baptiststandard.com) "Intelligent design discussion moves to university campuses" by Sarah Price Brown (Religion News Service).

3. In 2004, the Dover, PA Board of Education mandated the teaching of Intelligent Design in biology classes. Several teachers refused on 2 grounds: They'd need certification in ID. They would break an oath never to willfully teach a student something they know to be false. Science teachers in Dover knew that Intelligent Design was based on false premises.

4. During the Kitzmiller v. Dover Board of Education trial, Prof. Michael Behe - a leading proponent of Intelligent Design, stated under oath that under the broad definition of science that ID proponents prefer, astrology also qualifies as science. ASTROLOGY, not astronomy.

5. Intelligent Design's expert witness confirmed that a supernatural designer is a hallmark of Intelligent Design: Behe: "not designed by the laws of nature," and that it is "implausible that the designer is a natural entity." (P-647 at 193; P-718 at 696, 700).

6. Intelligent Design's expert witness confirmed that a supernatural designer is a hallmark of Intelligent Design: Minnich: "for ID to be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened so that supernatural forces can be considered" (38:97 (Minnich)).

7. Intelligent Design's expert witness confirmed that a supernatural designer is a hallmark of Intelligent Design: Fuller "it is ID's project to change the ground rules of science to include the supernatural" (Trial Tr. vol. 28, Fuller Test., 20-24, Oct. 24, 2005).

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F. Discovery Institute problems with the fossil record

 In Darwin on Trial (1991, Washington, D.C., Regenery Gateway), Phillip Johnson (one of the founders of the Intelligent Design political movement) disputes vertebrate evolution. Johnson's criticism: no indication of the transition between water-based fish and land-based amphibians in their soft tissues and internal organs.

Thanks mainly to G.R.Morton at http://chem.tufts.edu/science/evolution/fish-amphibian-transition.htm for this list of the different fish-amphibian transitions.

1) 378 MYR ago- Panderichthys

2) 375 MYR Tiktaalik roseae

3) 370 MYR Fish similar to Sauripterus

4) 368 MYR Elginerpeton

5) 368 MYR Obruchevichthys

6) 365-363 MYR Hynerpeton

7) 365-363 MYR Densignathus rowei

8) 363 MYR Ichthyosteg

9) 363 MYR  Acanthostega

10) Positions of intelligent design proponent, Jonathan Wells, are not clear. Does he think the transitional intermediate Archaeopteryx is an intermediate form between reptiles and birds or not despite the facts that it possessed reptilian teeth and tail and modern bird feathers (see the Discovery Institute's own critique of something I wrote here).

Note on page two, where Wells is quoted as saying, "The enormous gap between reptiles and birds that had previously seemed unbridgeable now seemed to be bridged by a reptile-like bird. The most striking thing about Archaeopteryx is its wonderfully preserved feathers, which are structurally similar to the feathers of modern flying birds. But the animal had toothed jaws like a reptile, rather than a bird-like beak, and it had a long, bony reptile-like tail. It also had claws on its wings, a feature that appears transiently during development in only a few modern birds."(Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution, pg. 112)

Then further down the page, Casey Luskin quotes Wells as classifying Archaeopteryx as "a true bird".

It appears that there is confusion in the Discovery Institute itself on Wells' stance on this issue.

Please note that "God of the Gaps" arguments such as these assert that there is no knowable answer, so the Intelligent Designer (God) must have done it, end up weakening faith when the fossil is found or the discovery is made. Read this book,  FINDING DARWIN'S GOD by Ken Miller for a great discussion of the dangers of these arguments (and much more).

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G. Irreducible complexity fails scientific testing

Michael Behe's "irreducible complexity" falls flat. Behe is a Discovery Institute Fellow who proposed that "a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning." DARWIN'S BLACK BOX, M. Behe, 1996.

1) Irreducible complexity fails: The eukaryotic cilium: a whip like structure found in most eukaryotes is a very complex structure with a 9+2 microtubule arrangement that contains many additional protein parts. Cilia are used for movement of fluids and locomotion. Behe maintains that these cilia are "irreproducibly complex". Cilia with 9+1, 9+0, 6+0, 3+0 and freeform doublets have been discovered in many different organisms (see Finding Darwin's God, Kenneth R. Miller, 1999, New York, Perennial for a summary). Irreducible complexity fails.

2) Irreducible complexity fails: Bacterial Flagellum: 50 parts, Very complex, Acid powered rotor. A variant exists with 10 related parts: Type III secretory system, Fully functional molecular syringe that allows Yersinia pestis (causitve agent of the bubonic plague) to inject cells with toxins. Irreducible complexity fails.
 

3) Irreducible complexity fails: Behe: " none of the cascade proteins are used for anything except controlling the formation of a clot. Yet in the absence of any of the components, blood does not clot, and the system fails." (DARWIN'S BLACK BOX, Behe p. 86). Whales and dolphins lack Factor XII and their blood still clots. Irreducible complexity fails.

4) Irreducible complexity fails: Behe: " none of the cascade proteins are used for anything except controlling the formation of a clot. Yet in the absence of any of the components, blood does not clot, and the system fails." (DARWIN'S BLACK BOX, Behe p. 86). Eliminate the whole contact pathway in Puffer fish (Factors XII & XIIa and XI & XIa) and their blood still clots. Irreducible complexity fails.

5) Irreducible complexity fails: In regard to the mammalian immune system, "As scientists, we yearn to understand how this magnificent mechanism came to be, but the complexity of the system dooms all Darwinian explanations to frustration. Sisyphus himself would pity us." (Behe p. 139). Between 1996 and 2005 each element of the transposon hypothesis" of immune system VDJ evolution was scientifically confirmed (see Kapitonov & Jurka (2005) RAG1 Core and V(D)J Recombination Signal Sequences Were Derived from Transib Transposons. Public Library of Science, Biol. 3: e181 for review).

6) Irreducible complexity fails: Behe when confronted by the brilliant lawyer for Kitzmiller et al. in the Dover Trial loses credibility as a scientist: "Professor Behe was presented with fifty- eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not "good enough." (23:19 (Behe))." See Kitzmiller v. Dover Board of Education.  Irreducible complexity fails.
 

7) Irreducible complexity fails: [space saved for the next failure of irreducible complexity]
 

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H. Biological organisms are not intelligently designed; they are cobbled together.

1) Recurrent laryngeal nerve in vertebrates is one of the cranial nerves that goes from the brain through a tube near the heart to the larynx. This is a direct route in fish. It takes a detour of ~ 1-2 feet in humans and a detour of 10 to 15 feet of extra nerve in giraffes.

Why? Because the evolutionary trajectory on this Earth was from fish to amphibians to  reptiles to mammals and natural selection operates in the short term, with each step taking place as a modification of what is already present. There was no intelligent design for the giraffe. The giraffe is a descendent of a fish (and so are you).Biological organisms are not intelligently designed, they are cobbled together.

2) Elephants: There have been 22 new species in the last 6 million years. 20 of them are extinct. In the last 4 million years there have been 10 successive species of Indian elephants alone. (See J. Shoshani (1997) Natural History, 106, 38). If they were all designed by an intelligent designer, why so many mistakes that caused so much extinction? Biological organisms are not intelligently designed, they are cobbled together.

3) The human genome (our DNA) is composed of 3 billion bases of DNA arranged in specific sequence. About half of this DNA is from the replication of a parasitic transposon called the AluI repeat sequence. Reviewing Meyer's Signature of the Cell, Francisco Ayala notes that the human genome contains ~25,000 genes and "about one million virtually identical Alu sequences that are each three-hundred letters (nucleotides) long" (see here).

"Think about it" Ayala says, "that's forty times more Alu sequences than genes". "It is as if the editor of Signature of the Cell would have inserted between every two pages of Meyer's book, forty additional pages, each containing the same three hundred letters. Likely, Meyer would not think of his editor as being "intelligent." ".

Ayala continues, "one new Alu sequence appears in the genome for every ten newborns, generation after generation. The Designer at work? Unlikely: many of these sequences damage the genome causing abortion of the fetus during the early weeks of life."

Biological organisms are not intelligently designed, they are cobbled together.

4) Wisdom teeth problems - need I say more? We have a much smaller jaw than a chimp and the same number of teeth. Why? Our jaws became smaller as our brains got bigger (tradeoff for birth canal passage is a likely reason). An infected wisdom tooth 100 years ago could be life threatening. Not an intelligent design. Biological organisms are not intelligently designed, they are cobbled together.

5) Knee problems: Bipedalism is new to primates (<around 8 million years). Our knees have been adapted from earlier quadruped knees. Biological organisms are not intelligently designed, they are cobbled together.

6) Back problems. Bipedalism is new to primates (<around 8 million years). Our backs have been adapted from earlier quadruped backs. See above. Biological organisms are not intelligently designed, they are cobbled together.

7) The mesentery membranes that hold our intestines in place are attached to our back, not the structures directly above the intestines (ribs, diaphragm, etc.). Bipedalism is new to primates (<around 8 million years). Our mesenteries have been adapted from earlier quadrupeds. See above. Biological organisms are not intelligently designed, they are cobbled together.

8)  [fill in your favorite cobbled together, non-sensible evolutionary design]

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I. Intelligent Design is not science, but religion

 

Intelligent Design is not science and uses deceptive tactics to promote its acceptance. See Kitzmiller v. Dover Board of Education. See here for Judge Jones' fascinating, occasionally humorous, occasionally bitingly sarcastic and easy to read decision.

1. Stephen Meyer admits in a debate in 2009 with Michael Shermer and Don Prothero that the Intelligent Designer is God. (See the first paragraph of Prothero's account.)

2. Discovery Institute spokesperson and lawyer (Casey Luskin) on video letting us know that the Intelligent Designer is the God of the Bible and that Intelligent Design is a religious movement, not a scientific movement. You have got to be amazed by this one. In his own words, Casey Luskin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpL1dmfVoGA&feature=related

3. Judge John Jones III rules that Intelligent design is a "religious viewpoint that advances ''a particular version of Christianity".

4. Judge John Jones III rules that Intelligent design proponents lied to cover up their religious motives, made a decision of ''breathtaking inanity'' and ''dragged'' their community into ''this legal maelstrom with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.''

5. Judge John Jones III concluded that intelligent design was not science, and that in order to claim that it is, its proponents admit they must change the very definition of science to include supernatural explanations.

6. The Nation's best scientists reject Intelligent Design and other forms of Creationism as not being science (read for example the National Academy of Sciences' statement on Intelligent Design in schools, and Science and Creationism).

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J. Religion and evolution are compatible

Not only do scientific organizations reject Intelligent Design as not being science, but major religious organizations reject Intelligent Design as not being science and accept evolutionary theory as the best explanation for life on Earth.

See the following statements from various organizations on how Religion and Evolution are compatible.

United Methodist Church

Roman Catholic Church

12,000+ American Christian Clergy

470+ Rabbis

Download VOICES FOR EVOLUTION (click here for a free pdf version) and turn to Chapter three to read statements by the following religious organizations on how their faith is not threatened by science in general and evolution in particular:

African Americans for Humanism
American Humanist Association
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
American Scientific Affiliation
Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Clergy Letter Project
Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism
Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, Pastoral Letter
Episcopal Church, General Convention (1982)
Episcopal Church, General Convention (2006)
Humanist Association of Canada
Lexington Alliance of Religious Leaders
The Lutheran World Federation
National Council of Jewish Women
Presbyterian Church (USA), General Assembly
Rabbinical Council of America
Roman Catholic Church (1981)
Roman Catholic Church (1996)
Unitarian Universalist Association (1977)
Unitarian Universalist Association (1982)
United Church Board for Homeland Ministries
United Methodist Church
United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1982)
United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1983)

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K. Acknowledgments

Many thanks especially to Pia Vogel for suggestions, great additional points and critical reading of this page.

Thanks to Justin Fisher (www.justin-fisher.com) for feedback and suggestions regarding an earlier draft of this page.

Many thanks also to Ken Miller for his untiring work for good science and for originally pressing many of the points given above.

Also to Beth for her "stylistic intervention"; I am still chuckling.

Grateful thanks also to my very special colleagues at SMU for all of their comments, criticisms and support.

Send me your suggestions, and I'll post them when I get a chance.

 

J.G. Wise
September 26, 2010

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L. Tit-for-Tat: Responses to the Discovery Institute

I have had a fairly interesting time reading different responses posted by the Discovery Institute members to some of the issues presented on this page.

Please find here my responses to their blogging.

 

1.  Does the phrase "No items found" mean the same thing as "Peer review"?

Douglas Axe of the Biologic Institute accused me on (9/29/10) of "blowing smoke" because I pointed out here (section C.2 above) that he stated that mutations that confer rifampicin resistance in micro-organisms are actually detrimental to the organism and decrease fitness.

The science here obviously confirms that in the presence of rifampicin, certain micro-organisms will either (a) die or (b) survive. Those that survive do so because of mutation(s) in their RNA polymerase gene that confer resistance to rifampicin.

Possessing the resistance mutation(s) allow(s) the organism to survive in the presence of drug. This is an adaptation that clearly increases the fitness of those organisms that possess it despite what Axe claims.

How can the rifampicin-sensitive strain be better adapted than the resistant variant, when the sensitive variant is killed by the rifampicin and the resistant form survives? (Talk about blowing smoke...)

There is actually a lot of interesting science behind the evolution of antibiotic and drug resistances, including how some mutations, because of their cost in the absence of drug, will revert to the non-resistant form when drugs are removed. These phenomena are what Axe is using to make his claim, but the fact remains: dead is less fit than alive.

These are just examples of evolutionary adaptations that evolve when the environment changes. No intelligent designer is necessary. Nothing other than straight evolutionary theory is needed.

This latter point also shows once again that there are no perfect evolutionary "end-goals". The fitness of any individual is dependent among other things on how well-adapted it is in the environment that it finds itself in.

But what I really wanted to point out here was the intellectual dishonesty (is that too strong a phrase?) inherent in the last of the citations Axe used in his "blowing smoke" post (check it out here).

You really need to look at the "Editorial Board" for this "peer reviewed" journal (click here). You'll find some familiar names:

Douglas Axe, Richard Sternberg, Jonathan Wells, William Dempski, Scott Minnach, Michael Behe, (to mention a few).

Something else of interest: Check out the archive of previously published articles from this journal (click here).

There are only 2 (two) papers that the journal has ever published (apparently). At least the journal's own archive only has two papers in it.

So, to sum up: The journal Bio-complexity has only ever published two papers, has 30 members on its editorial board (many of whom are financed by the Discovery Institute), and one of the papers from this journal is a "peer reviewed" science article that Axe uses to prove I am "blowing smoke". This is rich. Maybe he thought I wouldn't look that closely.

I don't really think this journal article would qualify by most scientists as coming from a first-tier, peer-reviewed scientific journal.

But let's not be subjective about it: First-tier, peer-reviewed scientific journals that deal with matters like "drug resistances" and "protein structure" can easily be found in the U.S. National Library of Medicine "PubMed" database.

This searchable database also allows one to search for articles published by a specific journal.

Searching PubMed for the journal Nature, for example, returned 92,139 articles today.
 

Science returned 157,118 articles and the Journal of Biological Chemistry returned 153,459 articles (see Figure below).

 

Searches for Bio-complexity (or Biocomplexity and several other permutations) returned:

"No items found."

  

Just for fun...

For other pseudo-science "peer review" journals from creationists, check out this one (click here).

If one wants to publish in this journal, one must follow the "Instructions to Authors" found here and acknowledge that ...

"The following criteria will be used in judging papers:

1. Is the paper’s topic important to the development of the Creation and Flood model?
2. Does the paper’s topic provide an original contribution to the Creation and Flood model?
3. Is this paper formulated within a young-earth, young-universe framework?"
 

I trust we can all see where this is going.

[This point added on 9/30/10. Thanks again to my colleagues at SMU and to Barbara Forrest for pointing me to the "blowing smoke".]

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2. The Discovery Institute doesn't like this website

On Oct. 1, 2010, the Discovery Institute members Meyer, Nelson, Sternberg and Wells gave me their attention (see here). My point by point responses are listed below.

They write:

"SMU biology lecturer John Wise attended the event - or so it appears, because he wrote a long "reply" to both the movie and our presentations, and cites our handout distributed at the information table."

Yes - I did attend. That's how I got into this (see sections A and B above).

They wonder:

"Wise did not ask any questions during the Q & A, however, or interact with any of us during our visit."

True. To this I have a very simple answer:

It was a dreadfully long 3 hour event. I had 62 questions or discussion points (see sections A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I above).

If I was to have challenged the DI presenters on every one of these 62 points, I would have had to stand up and interrupt every 3 minutes.

Three hours of listening to this stuff was way too long for me and I would not have been happy being responsible for making this a six hour event.

Call me what you will, make any inference you want, but I really could not have withstood 6 hours of that presentation.

Instead, I chose to take my notes and listen to comments from colleagues and assemble a public repository where these questions could be permanently posed (this repository) to any who would like to view them.

 

They really do not like this page:

"Wise's page comprises such a rambling pastiche of assertions - some mutually contradictory, others irrelevant, or simply non-sequiturs"

That's fine.

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once remarked,  "Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, just not their own facts".

Read it yourself if you haven't already and make up your own mind.

There are a lot of facts on this page that are backed up with real science, reported in real peer-reviewed journals.

I invite Discovery Institute to do some real science and report it in real peer reviewed journals.

 

They ask:

"Does the Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution Explain the Cambrian Explosion?"

Modern evolutionary theory does a very good job of it.

 

They take issue with my pointing out that fossil transitions should be hard to find and then falsely attribute an argument to me that I did not make:

"Fossil ancestors or transitions for the Cambrian phyla have not been discovered, because of how evolution works."

I said they are difficult to find (see here). I did not state that they have "not been discovered".

In fact, in the next sentence, I state: "Even so, we have found such transitions and they decimate the Discovery Institute claims. (see # B.2 above)"

Same thing from them again:

"So if we haven't found the transitional or ancestral fossils, the theory predicts such fossils won't be discovered. Wait, we found some? Well, the theory predicts that, too."

No. More slowly this time:

I said, "fossil transitions should be hard to find" and then said, "we have found such transitions and they decimate the Discovery Institute claims. (see # B.2 above)"

The difference is not that subtle that they should have missed it. More misdirection on their part? I'll let you to decide for yourself.

 

And about those transitional fossils and the Discovery Institute:

They dispute that Halkieria represents a transitional fossil.

Oh gee, where have we heard that "transitional fossils don't exist" before?

One must not go very far - See on this page here.

(An "off the point" but somewhat interesting observation: Another Wikipedia citation pops up on their page for this one. I notice Wells uses Wikipedia in his talk as well. Interesting.)

 

More God of the Gaps from the DI:

And again, even if one stipulates that these are not transitional fossils (which I absolutely do not do), the Discovery Institute is using a "God of the Gaps" argument to make this point (again).

"God of the Gaps" arguments such as these assert that there is no knowable answer or no discoverable fossil, so the Intelligent Designer (God) must be responsible. These arguments end up weakening faith when the fossil is found or the discovery is made. Read Ken Miller's book,  FINDING DARWIN'S GOD for a great discussion of the dangers of these arguments (and much more).

 

Even More God of the Gaps arguments from the DI:

A little further down, they state:

"... those ancestral groups are missing from the fossil record..."

This is where the Discovery Institute is miraculously transforming the "absence of evidence" into "actual evidence".

I don't believe science works that way. The absence of evidence is never evidence for anything.

Sounds like the "God of the Gaps" again. Or perhaps an "argument from incredulity"?  Can it be both?

I leave the distinctions to you.

 

Some more misrepresentation of my words from the DI
          (I know, it's tiresome, but we have to do this):

"Wise criticizes Darwin's Dilemma for featuring the fossils of the Burgess Shale because they do not represent the earliest Cambrian fauna. But Sean Carroll, the authority upon whom he relies, also opens his chapter on the Cambrian Explosion by praising the beauty, and emphasizing the scientific relevance, of the Burgess Shale fossils."

Please look here for what I actually state (or just read on). 

What I actually stated is: "you can not study the emergence of animals in the Burgess Shale", because the animals had already emerged (they are already in the rocks!).
 

I did not say that the Burgess Shale is not a wonderful place to see and study all kinds of beautiful body forms as Sean Carroll so elegantly points out.

I certainly did not say the Burgess Shale was not significant.

What I stated is: "you can not study the emergence of animals in the Burgess Shale" because the animals had already emerged (they are already in the rocks!).

Discovery Institute: please work on those critical reading skills.

 

They ask:

"Has Sean Carroll (or Evo Devo generally) explained the Cambrian Explosion?"

He any many others have elucidated the genetic mechanisms for building animal bodies in great detail.

Contrary to what Wells asserted in his talk, the information is in fact encoded in the DNA and it is the use of genetic switches and toolkit proteins that enables differentiation of tissues and bodies.

Read Carroll's book again, Sirs, and Professor Carroll will explain the mechanisms to you (again).

Wells and Nelson both addressed this, but both get it wrong.

Nelson during his talk: "Mutations are overwhelmingly deleterious" so development of new body plans could not happen this way.

Wells during his talk: "DNA mutations cannot change the body plan". Mutations in flies can lead only to no effects, sick flies or dead flies.

Take a look at this site for more http://ncse.com/news/2002/02/ncse-asks-discovery-institute-wheres-shrimp-00375 of this kind of thing.

Wells put up a slide during his talk which said (I paraphrase):

Other factors besides DNA play a role in development (e.g., the egg includes markers that help to orient the body of the embryo), therefore new body plans can't evolve by changes in DNA.

I repeat from one of the sections above:

This argument is fallacious for precisely the same reason that it would be fallacious to argue that, since factors other than your recipe play a role in baking your cake (e.g., gravity plays a role), switching recipes can't give you a different type of dessert.

 

Furthermore, even if you thought that evolving a new body plan would require changing the structure of the egg (e.g., perhaps adding new markers to attract the growth of new limbs),  no reason was given for thinking that changes in DNA couldn't lead mothers to produce these differently structured eggs.

 

Summing up, the DI writers have a section on my supposed:

"Stray irrelevancies and non-sequiturs"

Among other things I am accused of fabricating Well's statements on "Other factors besides DNA play a role in development ".

I can only refer you to the youtube videos
       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zf6skWdsCQ& (1 of 6)

Beware - it'll take a while. The statements are at or near the end (3+ or so hours in).

Oh wait, I can save you the time. Don't 'cha just love iPhones?

Check this out (and sorry for the quality)... from Wells' slide set...  I got both Nelson and Wells in this one picture.

 

 Click here to see the larger version.

 

"DNA does not contain all of the information required for embryo development"- Jonathan Wells, 9/23/10 on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

Give me a break. We teach biology at SMU. We do real research in biology at SMU. What a joke these statements from Wells and Nelson are. I mean seriously, what a bad joke.

Unfortunately, many of those present at the "event" were not trained in biology and therefore were not in a position to know that Wells was, in the words of his fellow Discovery Institute employee Douglas Axe, "blowing smoke".

What a joke. What a bad, bad joke.

 

I am certain that by the end of these videos you'll be very, very glad I didn't ask my 62 questions. There would have been 6 more videos to wade through.

 

J. G. Wise, Oct. 2, 2010

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3. Does astrology fit your definition of science?

Please find here my response to Discovery Institute lawyer Casey Luskin's objection to my handling of the "Behe science redefinition" (see here).

Mr. Luskin argues that I misrepresented the testimony of Michael Behe from the Dover Trial when I related above that Prof. Behe "stated under oath that under the broad definition of science that ID proponents prefer, astrology also qualifies as science" (see above here).

From the trial transcript: (see here - about 2/3 of the way down the page)

Q And using your definition, intelligent design is a scientific theory, correct?

A Yes.

Q Under that same definition astrology is a scientific theory under your definition, correct?

A Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that -- which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one, and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and many other -- many other theories as well.

 

Here is how New York Times reporter Laurie Goodstein interpreted this exchange:

"A leading architect of the intelligent-design movement defended his ideas in a federal courtroom on Tuesday and acknowledged that under his definition of a scientific theory, astrology would fit as neatly as intelligent design." (LAURIE GOODSTEIN Published in the New York Times, October 19, 2005)

Here is how New Scientist reporter Celeste Biever interpreted this exchange in "Astrology is scientific theory, courtroom told" published October 19, 2005:

"Astrology would be considered a scientific theory if judged by the same criteria used by a well-known advocate of Intelligent Design to justify his claim that ID is science, a landmark US trial heard on Tuesday.

Under cross examination, ID proponent Michael Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, admitted his definition of "theory" was so broad it would also include astrology.
" (Celeste Biever in the New Scientist, October 19, 2005)
 

Here is how MIKE ARGENTO from the York Daily Record (the paper closest to Dover, PA) interpreted this exchange in his article "Behe's 15th-century science"

"In order to call intelligent design a "scientific theory," he had to change the definition of the term. It seemed the definition offered by the National Academy of Science, the largest and most prestigious organization of scientists in the Western world, was inadequate to contain the scope and splendor and just plain gee-willigerness of intelligent design."

"So, as we learned Tuesday, during Day 11 of the Dover Panda Trial, under his definition of a scientific theory, astrology would be a scientific theory." (MIKE ARGENTO in the York Daily Record)

 

Here is how John Wise interpreted this exchange:

"under the broad definition of science that ID proponents prefer, astrology also qualifies as science"

 

Again, as always, I'll let you draw your own conclusions on how to interpret this exchange.

To me (and many others, it appears), the interpretation is straightforward.

J.G. Wise, Oct. 11, 2010

\\

Postscript:

As long as the Discovery Institute is picking points on this page that they seem to get excited about, let me throw this out there again:

Does the phrase "No items found" mean the same thing as "Peer review"?

I would be very interested in their interpretation of these facts.

J.G. Wise

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