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Category Archives: Darwinism

No Harm, No Foul What If Darwinism Were Excised from Biology? – Discovery Institute

Posted: December 7, 2019 at 7:44 pm

Some biologists might shudder at the thought of eliminating Darwinism from their scientific work. A Darwin-ectomy sounds more painful than a tonsillectomy or appendectomy. To hard-core evolutionists, it might sound like a cephalectomy (removal of the head)! If Darwinism is as essential to biology as Richard Dawkins or Jerry Coyne argues, then removing evolutionary words and concepts should make research incomprehensible.

If, on the other hand, Darwinism is more of a narrative gloss applied to the conclusions after the scientific work is done, as the late Philip Skell observed, then biology would survive the operation just fine. It might even be healthier, slimmed down after disposing of unnecessary philosophical baggage. Here are some recent scientific papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) to use as test cases.

In PNAS recently, Adam C. Soloff and Michael T. Lotze reviewed findings by Liu et al. about the immune system. Suffused within the narrative is plenty of Darwinspeak. Does it add anything of value?

Immunity evolved as an impossibly elegant, yet devastatingly destructive force to combat pathogens, environmental insults, and rogue malignant cellular agents arising from within. The immunologic arsenal developed in a veritable coevolutionary arms race with the worlds pathogens, culminating in lymphocytic weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, T cells and B cells endowed with antigen specificity, the capacity for clonal expansion, and most importantly, long-lived memory, represent the pinnacle of such evolution. Together with the innate immune response, the adaptive immune system holds the power to mediate sustained inflammatory responses with such voracity that tissues, organs, or the host itself may endure critical collateral damage. To preserve balance, adaptive immunity has developed under the guiding principle of primum non nocere, or first, to do no harm, limiting the aggression of the innate immune response (e.g., septic shock, penumbra of cerebrovascular and brain infarcts). Herein, redundant mechanisms to preclude aberrant deleterious immunity have evolved as the predominant state of being, establishing a significant molecular and cellular threshold to initiate and maintain inflammation. Often overlooked, following the excitement of the active immune response, are the critical means by which the host resolves the inflammatory process, restoring local and systemic balance. The findings by Liu et al. provide further description of molecular processes and cellular mediators of the resolution process, shedding light on mechanistic aspects of immune homeostasis. [Emphasis added.]

What, exactly, does the e-word evolved add to the understanding of the adaptive immune system? It adds fat, not meat. The essential parts of the explanation could be conveyed easily without Darwin. Basically,

Isnt that cleaner? The reader can breathe easier without the smoke of being told over and over that all these elegant mechanisms evolved.

Seven biologists looked for convergent evolution between two very different mammals whales and bats that use echolocation. Amir Marcovitz et al., in PNAS, relied on Darwinism for their research. Its right there in the title: A functional enrichment test for molecular convergent evolution finds a clear protein-coding signal in echolocating bats and whales. The researchers found not only phenotypic convergence, but convergence all the way down to protein molecules! Can the findings survive a Darwin-ectomy? Sounds like a tough operation.

Echolocation is a prime example of convergent evolution, the independent gain of similar features in species of different lineages. Is phenotypic convergence driven by underlying molecular convergence? If so, could molecular convergence include contributions from highly constrained, often-pleotropic, coding regions? We develop a generalizable test that offers a resounding yes to both extensively debated questions. Our test highlights molecular convergence in genes regulating the cochlear ganglion of echolocating bats and whales, the skin of aquatic mammals, and the lung of high-altitude mammals. Importantly, the approach correctly dismisses confounding convergence-like patterns, such as those from sequence decay of vision genes in blind subterranean species, and is readily applicable to the thousands of genomes sequenced across the tree of life.

Their work not only relies on Darwinism, but promises to help future research. How could anyone claim that Darwinism is useless to this paper? Actually, its quite easy. Its as easy as showing that any other kind of circular reasoning is useless in science. These seven biologists assumed evolution, and concluded evolution. The observations had nothing to do with it.

Some extreme examples can show the fallacy. Humans and turtles can hold their breath underwater. Is that convergent evolution? Turtles cant think, but humans can. Is that divergent evolution? If tricycles and race cars alike are found to contain both aluminum and iron, did they obtain those through blind, unguided processes? So it is with two very different mammals bats and whales that use sound for echolocation. Neither the similarities nor differences prove convergent evolution (or divergent evolution, for that matter), unless you start with that assumption. Its a non sequitur to conclude they evolved.

You can cherry-pick the evidence to support a previously assumed explanation. In this paper, against a backdrop of previous failures to find convergence at the molecular level, the team celebrates their discovery of gene enrichment for cochlear ganglion, lung, and skin but not for a multitude of other traits that should have converged, such as for pharynx, sound generation, and behavior. Even at that, their findings are statistical, not causal, and fail to include potential non-coding influences on the genes. If bats and dolphins were found to use completely different proteins for the cochlear ganglion, the authors would undoubtedly have explained that by evolution, too. No matter how similar or different the animals are in other respects, the conclusion is predetermined: they evolved the common trait, as well as the different traits. In this game, evolutionists cant lose.

Oh yes, this approach will surely help evolutionists with their future research. All they have to do is apply circular reasoning, too. Science marches on!

The paper could be completely revamped without references to evolution, and would be better for it. The researchers could have learned from the similarities and differences in bats and whales, studied the design principles for echolocation in air compared to echolocation in water, and applied the knowledge to human sonar or ultrasonic sensing. Without the evolutionary fat, the science would be useful and productive for human flourishing. Instead, the biologists wasted time on a myth that blind, unguided processes can take sound and build complex systems that can utilize it. Thats ridiculous. Anyone who has watched Illustras detailed animation of dolphin echolocation should realize that sound has no such creative power.

It would seem an impossible challenge to research Darwins finches without reference to Darwin or Darwinism. Yet in their latest paper in PNAS, Peter and Rosemary Grant, who have spent their careers studying these icons of evolution, once again show that science has no need for the Darwin hypothesis. In fact, they created more problems for Darwinism than support.

Adaptive radiations, comprising many species derived from one or a small number of ancestral species in a geologically short time, are prominent components of the worlds biodiversity. Introgressive hybridization of divergent species has been important in increasing variation, leading to new morphologies and even new species, but how that happens throughout evolutionary history is not known. A long-term field study of Darwins finches on Daphne Major island, Galpagos, shows that introgression enhances variation and increases the potential for future evolution. We use a dated phylogeny to infer that populations became more variable in morphological traits through time, consistent with this enhancement effect, and then declined in variation after reaching a maximum. Introgression may be especially important with future climate change.

It will take some radical surgery to remove the Darwinian concepts in the Grants paper, but will the science survive? Take a closer look at what they actually found. First of all, they admit that the effect of introgressive hybridization on adaptive radiation is not known. Ponder that for a moment. After 160 years, has Darwinism been so useless that it has not shed light on a process that should have been well known by now, particularly with these iconic birds? Even worse, though, is that introgression and hybridization involve shuffling existing genetic information. It has nothing to do with variation by random mutation being selected by a blind watchmaker, much less being able to build an irreducibly complex system. Search for selection in the paper and you find only faith, not evidence, that natural selection might work in tandem with introgressive hybridization to produce new species. The only examples of selection they offer involve microevolution, not innovation. For those, they do lateral passes to other Darwinists in the references.

Finally, the finches are still finches. In Darwin Devolves, Behe argues that all species of finches can vary up to the family level without supporting Darwinism. The variations observed by the Grants amount to dimes and pennies in hundred-thousand-dollar transactions, he quips. And did you notice the Grants admitting that the finches variability declined after reaching a maximum? How is that going to fit Darwinism, which requires unlimited variability and progress?

The research on these beautiful, well-designed birds could have been done by someone like Gregor Mendel, who found discrete shuffling of existing traits in peas instead of blending inheritance that Darwin expected. Students could learn about how the shuffling occurs, permitting the birds to survive in oscillating conditions. They could learn about how adaptation of complex systems to changing environments requires Foresight, as Marcos Eberlin has shown. The work of Peter and Rosemary Grant on Darwins finches has offered nothing of substance to support Darwins theory, despite the name. They have not shown that natural selection (even if assumed to have creative power) can surpass the family level and proceed upward to make human brains from bacteria. As confirmation of Darwinism, it has been a tragic waste of time. But all is not lost. Their work has been very helpful to design advocates, showing that, at best, Darwinism can add a millimeter to a bird beak here and there, until the drought ends.

So, here are three papers in Americas premier science journal that appear at first glance to need Darwinism, use Darwinism, support Darwinism, and thereby impart useful scientific knowledge. After subjecting them to Darwin-ectomies, though, the science not only survived, but proved healthier and more useful. Science will do better without the useless fat thinking that blind, unguided processes can account for bats, whales, and immune systems.

Photo: Dolphins of the Galpagos Islands, by Gregory Slobirdr Smith [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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No Harm, No Foul What If Darwinism Were Excised from Biology? - Discovery Institute

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How Butterflies Evolve by Design – Discovery Institute

Posted: at 7:44 pm

Butterflies, those universally loved flying works of art, offer many reasons to celebrate design in nature.

Evolutionists know all these facts about butterflies, but some of them, searching for Darwins mechanism at work everywhere (even in challenging design cases like butterflies), focus on wing patterns. They try to tease out phylogenetic trees among closely related species, like the Heliconius butterflies of South America, hoping to find evidence for Darwins unguided mechanism of mutation and natural selection at work.

New findings cast doubt on those Darwinian assumptions, but before analyzing them in a post tomorrow, lets take a look at other new findings about butterflies that fit intelligent design better than neo-Darwinism.

Georgetown University researchers found evidence that adult butterflies can remember things they learned as caterpillars. Larvae of tobacco hornworm moths learned to avoid certain odors when exposed to electric shocks, Science Daily reports. 77 percent of the adults, after passing through metamorphosis, avoided those same odors. New Scientist quotes one of the researchers:

Practically everything about the two phases of the organism are so different morphology, diet, how they move, and what they sense, says Martha Weiss of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, in the US.

People always thought that during metamorphosis the caterpillar turns to soup and all the ingredients are rearranged into the butterfly or moth, says Weiss. That clearly isnt what happens. Parts of the brain are retained that allow memories to persist through this very dramatic transition. [Emphasis added.]

Its like having the computer of a car survive as it transitions to a helicopter, and still work for both vehicles. This would require foresight, so that the memory of the odor produces the same response inside another form of the animal containing very different parts.

The open-access paper by Douglas Blackiston, Elena Casey, and Martha Weiss is published in PLOS ONE, Retention of Memory through Metamorphosis: Can a Moth Remember What It Learned As a Caterpillar? The authors say the findings have ecological and evolutionary implications, but they only speculate about the latter. They think it could further lead to the formation of host races or even to eventual sympatric speciation, but do not elaborate. That kind of speciation would not innovate new organs or structures, anyway.

Another news item about Lepidopterans (moths and butterflies) should not be passed up, since it deals with one of the icons of evolution: peppered moths. Researchers at the University of Liverpool found the same genes for industrial melanism in three moth species. In fact, they point out, dark forms increased in over 100 other species of moths during the period of industrial pollution.

Rather than exemplify random mutation and natural selection, this kind of genetic convergence could rely on epigenetic mechanisms that adjust wing color to environmental conditions. The authors of the paper in the Royal Society Biology Letters (open access) reflect on the possibility that tuning of expression of the cortex gene, a genetic hotspot, produces the different forms rapidly, without requiring de novo mutations to be selected. In fact, one wouldnt want random mutations to tinker with this gene, due to possible negative pleiotropic effects downstream.

Compared to the genetics of melanism in Drosophila, where pigmentation differences within and between species have been traced to cis-regulators of a subset of pigment synthesis genes, the emerging pattern for cortex suggests greater developmental constraints in the Lepidoptera. This may relate to the greater complexity of the lepidopteran wing surface, in which the colour and structure of scales are intricately linked. As a high-level cell-cycle regulator, which appears to determine pattern boundaries rather than pigment per se, tinkering with cortex expression may avoid deleterious pleiotropic effects of mutations to melanin pathway genes downstream. A tendency for cortex mutations to produce dominant melanism, through a positive association with upregulation, would also be an advantage.

Intelligent foresight could explain how different moths show rapid adaptive responses to the same anthropogenic factor (i.e., industrial soot), simply by regulating the existing hotspot gene cortex. The paper concludes:

Intriguingly, variation within the same gene (cortex) controls melanism for crypsis in the peppered moth, Biston betularia, and mimic wing patterns in Heliconius butterflies. This genetic convergence suggests that cortex, and possibly the region surrounding it, is a genetic hotspot for lepidopteran wing pattern evolution.

And that sets us up nicely for a post tomorrow on non-Darwinian evolution in wing patterns.

Photo: Numata Longwing, a Heliconius butterfly, by Carleton University, via Wikimedia Commons.

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How Butterflies Evolve by Design - Discovery Institute

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The Evolution of Neanderthal Spin – Discovery Institute

Posted: December 1, 2019 at 9:48 pm

An article in the digital magazine Aeon looks at the evolution of Neanderthals. Not their evolution in geologic time, but the evolution of how evolutionists and science popularizers depict them.

The article assumes modern evolutionary theory, so it comes with the usual raft of unsupported pro-evolution claims typical of mainstream science journalism. But it is refreshing for frankly spotlighting how the facts about Neanderthals have evolved over the years.

To see, click on the Aeon article and compare the recent depiction of a Neanderthal family at the top of the article to the Edwardian era newspaper depiction of a Neanderthal a few paragraphs down. In the recent depiction, from a museum exhibit, the Neanderthal family looks intelligent and civilized. A couple of them are even gazing off into the middle distance, as if working out something profound. In contrast, the stooped and uber-hairy Neanderthal in the newspaper clipping from a century ago looks like he could successfully blend in with a community of tolerant gorillas. In the clipping, the caption under this artists conception confidently states, An Accurate Reconstruction.

An accurate depiction of a Darwinist fantasy: yes. An accurate reconstruction of an actual Neanderthal: apparently not. And its not just that scientists and their hired artists made their best guess based on what they knew back then and simply got it wrong. As Aeon notes of scientists understanding of Neanderthals 110 years ago, even by that point it was no longer possible to argue that he and his kind were closer to nonhuman animals than to living people.

So why did they often depict them as ape-like? Darwinism desperately needs to fill in a yawning chasm in the fossil record between the ape-like and the human-like. At one point many hoped Neanderthals could serve as a crucial link in that lengthy stretch of missing chain between the fully ape-like and the fully human. Coached by the Darwinian paradigm, many assumed that Neanderthals did. But those uncooperative cave men refused to stoop, got the big head (average brain size slightly larger even than modern humans), and got caught red-handed in the fossil record behaving in various ways like intelligent humans.

Neanderthals even appear even to have had children with Homo sapiens, with something like one to three percent of their DNA remaining in most modern humans outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

If evolutionary theory is true, there were millions of intermediate hominids between our nearest fully ape-like ancestor and ourselves. That long chain is missing, a fact that has put enormous pressure on proponents of evolutionary theory to replace the missing chain with imaginative drawings, museum recreations, and verbal sleights-of-hand. To learn more about this, see Jonathan Wellss excellent Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution, pp. 74ff.

Photo: An exhibit from the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany, by Clemens Vasters, via Flickr (cropped).

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The Evolution of Neanderthal Spin - Discovery Institute

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Why Indias university system is in need of educational Darwinism – The New Indian Express

Posted: November 17, 2019 at 2:19 pm

KOCHI: It was a rainy day at the guest house of North Eastern Hill University in Shillong. The professor who was sitting across the dining table from me was rubbing his fingers swiftly on the smartphone. Ranking of institutions based on National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) of the Ministry of Human Resources Development may soon determine the funding for higher educational institutes. he said out loud, eyes still glued to the cellphone.

The news reminded me of the Ache community in Paraguay, who lived a foraging life of ancient hunter-gatherers till the 1960s. Their customs mandated they abandon those found unfit to satisfy the expectations of their community.

NIRF can trace its origins back to the Ache genes of our educational policymakers. For them, competitiveness is the most important ability within an educational institution. Cooperation and mutual support through various extension activities of educational institutions are treated as means for ensuring competitiveness.

Looking from the social justice and equity perspective, those institutes which fall at the bottom of ranking hierarchy deserve to have more funding.

The basic purpose of all assessments is to identify the poor performer so that proper support can be extended to them. Unfortunately, the modern competitive society has toppled this very meaning of assessment and instead of supporting poor performance, it is on a mission to eliminate them.

It should be noted that in this race for ranking, public educational institutions take the hardest hits. If the ranking procedure is not intended to provide additional financial support to make the poor performer do better, it could prove disastrous to the countrys public education system that is already suffering from poor financial freedom and panoptic surveillance fear created by the governments audit procedure, financial crunch, and administrative delay.

Many private universities and colleges receive financial support from government and UGC for the various schemes. In most of the cases, public-funded institutions have to compete with private facilities to get a hold of these.

As private institutions can take swift decisions on administrative and financial matters, public institutions are forced to undergo many impediments due to the never-ending procedures. For example, if a central university wants to construct a building they have to begin with putting up the file, getting the approval of the building committee, the finance committee, and the executive council.

NIRF also applies the same scale for ranking institutions irrespective of geographical or economic differences. Indira Gandhi National tribal University (IGNTU) situated in Amarkantak is 6 hours from Raipur Airport.

If the bulb of an LCD projector is damaged, they have to travel up to Bilaspur which is nearly four away to get it changed. Applying the same scale for measuring such a university with one in Delhi or Mumbai is insensible and prosperous.

UGC has insisted to implement choice-based credit and semester system in all higher education institutions. Across all levels, grades are allotted to students instead of marks, hoping this would reduce tension and unhealthy competition among students. Question is, why is this not applicable in the case of educational institutions? Maybe it is time that NRIF considers the effectiveness of Educational Darwinism in this scenario.

(The writer is head of School of Education at Central University of Kerala, Kasargode. The views expressed are his own)

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Remembering Phillip E. Johnson (1940-2019): The Man Who Lit the Match – Discovery Institute

Posted: November 9, 2019 at 8:44 am

Authors note: With great regret, we recognize the passing of Phillip Johnson, a key guiding spirit of the intelligent design movement. He died peacefully overnight this weekend, at age 79, at his home in Berkeley, California. I am publishing below an essay by Casey Luskin, written in 2011 for the website Darwin on Trial, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of Johnsons crucial book of the same name. He held the title of Program Advisor for Discovery Institutes Center for Science & Culture.

A special regret for me is that I never had the opportunity to meet Johnson, or Phil as he was called by those who knew him. But we in the community that seeks to advance the theory of intelligent design live in his presence every day. And we will continue to do so even following his death. It is that way with great men and great women: they launch a movement, or light a match, an image cited below, and stamp their vision and personality permanently on events, institutions, and persons that follow.

With his vision, Johnson changed the terms of the debate about origins, with brilliance and gusto. In doing so, he changed many lives, of scientists and others, across the globe. But he did it in the spirit of a gentleman: as John Mark Reynolds has written, he suffered fools gladly. Now there is a model to follow! He was very humble, as the greatest men often are, and refused credit for striking the match that became the fire that is currently at work consuming a desiccated theory left over from 19th century materialism. After all, Johnson wrote, the logs had been piled high, and the tinder gathered. Darwinian naturalists had accumulated a large stock of public discontent. True, but nevertheless it was Johnsons first book that set the fire, and not someone elses. That, with his subsequent contributions and leadership, much of it behind the scenes, makes him the Godfather of Intelligent Design.

We will have much more to say about Phils legacy and his personality in days and weeks to come. For now, the following comments cant be much improved upon:

Phillip Johnson, law professor emeritus of UC Berkeleys Boalt Hall School of Law, is widely recognized as the godfather of the contemporaryintelligent design(ID) movement. As the author of several booksand numerous articlesexplaining scientific, legal, and cultural dimension of the debate over ID and Darwinism, Johnson was one of the most prolific authors in the formative years of the movement.

It was Johnsons 1991 bookDarwin on Trialthat first convinced many thinkers that neo-Darwinian evolution was buttressed more by a philosophy of naturalism than by the scientific evidence. Johnsons influential writing became the magnet of scholars from a variety of fields biology, chemistry, physics, philosophy, theology, and law to forge the intelligent design movement.

The stories of many of these scientists and scholars are told in the volumeDarwins Nemesis(InterVarsity Press, 2006). But Johnson too recounted with humble surprise the impact of his work in the 2008 volumeIntelligent Design 101:

Fifteen years ago I published a book that I thought might add a few ounces of balance to the debate over Darwins theory of evolution. The main thrust of that book,Darwin onTrial, was that evolution is propped up more by naturalistic philosophy than by the scientific evidence. Much to my pleasant surprise, this book turned out to be the match that lit the tinder beneath a stockpile of dry logs. This is not to my credit; the logs had been piled high, and the tinder gathered. Darwinian naturalists had accumulated a large stock of public discontent. [p. 23]

Part of Johnsons vision as a legal scholar has been knowing how to ask the right questions. The 1980s was an era of controversy for Biblical creationists. While young earth creationists and old earth creationists squabbled about whether Noah rode a dinosaur, or a camel onto the Ark, elite materialists were happy to take over the culture.

With the mind of a law professor, Johnson was a master at spotting issues. And the key issue he saw in the origins debate was not the age of the earth or the differing interpretations of Genesis by Christians. It was a more fundamental question of interest to theists and non-theists alike:Is life the result of blind, undirected natural causes, or is it the result of purposeful design? By focusing on this question, Johnson transformed the entire origins debate. Johnson continues:

Darwin on Trialbecame a uniting force around which many like-minded individuals scholars of many stripes, churchgoers, students, and even open-minded agnostics who dared extend their skepticism to Darwin could rally. For many, that rallying cry ultimately became Intelligent Design!

It has been often said that all truth passes through three stages. First it is ignored. Then it is violently opposed. Finally, it is accepted as being self-evident. This seems to be the arc that intelligent design is traversing.

Many were content to ignore Johnsons ideas until they actually started to impact public education. In 1999, members of the Kansas State Board of Education voted to soften the dogmatism that had dominated evolution-instruction. Yet Johnson was critical of the 1999 Kansas decision because it removed some aspects of macroevolution from the curriculum. Johnson has always been a proponent of objective education not censorship. He argued inThe Wedge of Truththat students should learnboththe evidence for and against Darwinian evolution:

What educators in Kansas and elsewhere should be doing is to teach the controversy. Of course students should learn the orthodox Darwinian theory and the evidence that supports it, but they should also learn why so many are skeptical, and they should hear the skeptical arguments in their strongest form rather than in a caricature intended to make them look as silly as possible.

In 2001, the Ohio State Board followed Johnsons approach and required students to critically analyze the evidence for and against Darwinian evolution. Objective evolution education had won.

It was around this time that Darwin-lobbyists realized that they better stop ignoring Johnson, and start telling the world that unless students are prevented from questioning Darwinism, the sky will fall.

ID critics quickly learned that the most effective way to target ID was not to address its arguments, but to make accusations of secret, sinister motives among proponents. One imagines the godfather Phillip Johnson in a smoky dark room handing wedge documents to his eager followers, charging them to go forth and baptize converts to intelligent design.

On the contrary, with Phillip Johnson, what you see is what you get. As John Mark Reynolds explains inDarwins Nemesis:

Phillip Johnson is one of those rare individuals who is always the same person. He asks the same hard questions in Sunday School as he does in the Berkeley classroom. He has a unified personality. I have seen him in hundreds of different situations, and there is no split in his soul. [p. 27]

While Johnson wouldnt flatter himself with such praise, he too observes that he has never hidden anything. I always find these conspiracy theories amusing because our strategy has been transparent from the beginning, writes Johnson. After all, I titled my fifth bookThe Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism.

What is more striking is Johnsons gentlemanly responses to critics. He is not a hater, not even of his enemies, writes John Mark Reynolds. This is why so many who disagree with him can still respect himHe suffers fools gladly. (Darwins Nemesis,pp. 26-27)

Ironically, intemperate efforts to attack Johnson often ended up drawing people to him, creating a growing network of scientists and other scholars interested in intelligent design. Biochemist Michael Behe explains how a biased critique ofDarwin on Trialin the journalScienceled Behe to join the ID movement:

The news item made me so mad that I wrote a letter to the editor ofScience, which they published I wrote that this Johnson fellow appears from his book to be a rather intelligent layman, and that scientists would do much better to address the substance of his arguments than to rely on ad hominem attacks. About a week later I received a letter with a return address of Boalt Hall. I was now in the loopI was within the circle of Phil Johnsons acquaintances and useful contacts. [Darwins Nemesis,pp. 44-45]

Behes story is not unusual for members of the ID movement. Attracted by his intellect, character, and boldness, a new generation of scientists and scholars became connected to each other through Johnson.

Some critics would like to call Johnson the father of ID. In fact, they sometimes claim that Johnson, a non-scientist, invented the term intelligent design as a scheme to get around a 1987 Supreme Court ruling that declared creationism unconstitutional.

Aside from the fact that this story isnt true, its also grossly anachronistic. ID thinking and arguments date back to the ancient Greeks, and even in its modern form, the term intelligent design was used long before Johnson got involved with the issue, and before any court contemplated creationism.

In this sense, Johnson is not, and cannot be the father of intelligent design. But the Godfather? Most definitely.

Photo credit: Lit match (top), byYaoqi LAI viaUnsplash; Phillip E. Johnson (below), by Greg Schneider.

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Oil industry given Darwinism lesson on adapting to survive in North Sea – Energy Voice

Posted: August 25, 2017 at 4:10 am

The North Sea oil industry has been given a lesson on Charles Darwins theory of evolution by natural selection.

Executives, geologists, operators, investors and developers were schooled on the subject at the Oil and Gas Authoritys Technology Forum in Aberdeen.

The booked out event drew more than 180 people, who were told that technology was critical to unlocking every last drop of oil held in the UK continental shelf (UKCS).

It comes ahead of the November deadline for the 30th licensing round, focussed on mature areas of the UKCS some of which were last offered for licensing more than 40 years ago.

The November deadline is expected to bring about the most significant offshore round in recent decades.

And Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) operations director Gunther Newcombe said adapting technology to fit the remaining North Sea resources would be seen as a major factor in who is awarded what acreage.

He set the scene to the plenary session, when he said: Do we have a lot of potential remaining in the UKCS still remaining? Absolutely yes.

Another good backdrop to this is that production is up, hopefully 1.7million barrels of oil equivalent per day by the end of this year and also production efficiency is up to 73%.

Weve got 14 or so new developments coming on stream this year so its quite a vibrant UKCS here that we have in the 30th round.

Theres still plenty of yet-tofind- potential out there.

And technology will be one of the key drivers to unlocking that potential.

One of the things that the OGA wants to do is really drive technology into, not just exploration, but right through development and into production. And we will certainly be looking more and more at companies to engage with technology and apply and adapt technology in the UKCS.

The 30th round has more than 800 blocks on offer , equating to roughly six times the size of Wales.

In that space there is 140 discoveries on offer with around 2.3billion barrels of resource discovered in those areas.

And Newcombe said the OGA expects technology to be included in the applications for the round.

He said: Part of the marking system for the licensing round will be about what technology you are going to offer, adapt and deploy.

Seismic technology and imaging of the subsurface are obviously critical to reducing risk. Trying to get that well cost down is also incredible important.

Geosteering is critically important. We are seen a lot of development in the Southern North Sea in that area in particular.

And also adapting other technologies in the area of wells.

So its about getting the cost in the right place and seeing your reservoirs and seeing your tracks.

He added: You need to tie back these things obviously so if youve got infrastructure there efficient tiebacks is important, looking at in a different way.

For example hot taps to having different types of pipeline like spool pipelines for instance to try and get some of these tiebacks hooked up.

Many of the discoveries are in the standalone environment so we need to look at in a different way rather than having these gold plated structures. Are there smaller things that we could use and adapt for smaller pools? Again, being versatile and being to able to adapt technology to the resource is really important.

More than 35 exhibitors from SMEs to major service providers including PGS, Baker Hughes, a GE company, Amplus and Western Geco, showcased at the event in Aberdeen yesterday.

Chris Pearson, OGTC Small Pools Solution Centre Manager, added: This is another first for the OGA and OGTC. We are working collaboratively with an innovative and supportive group of companies to make the license round a success.

The showcase event highlighted how technology solutions can significantly lower the entire life-cycle cost for UKCS field developments. We can be both incremental and disruptive in our approach to how we deploy the solutions. This approach can make this stable and mature basin an attractive investment opportunity.

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‘Radical’ new biography of Darwin is unreliable and inaccurate – New Scientist

Posted: at 4:10 am

Charles Darwin wrote many letters during his voyage of discovery on HMS Beagle

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

By John van Wyhe

Charles Darwin: Victorian mythmaker, by A. N. Wilson, John Murray

A. N. Wilson is a prolific author who has written more than 45 books, including many biographies of subjects ranging from Queen Victoria to Hitler. His latest, a biography of Charles Darwin, begins with the startling sentence: Darwin was wrong. Wilson argues that Darwin offered to the emergent Victorian middle classes a consolation myth there was something inexorable, natural about their superiority to the working class.

This book provides an appallingly inaccurate rendition of Darwins theory and its scientific context. According to Wilson, Darwin told his contemporaries that their land-grabs in Africa, their hunger for stock-market wealth in the face of widespread urban poverty, their rigid class system and their everlasting wars were not things to be ashamed of, but actually part of the processes of nature. The theory is not science, Wilson concludes, just another offering in a bazaar of ersatz religions.

Wilson maintains that Darwins theory is wrong and not the basis of current knowledge. He believes Darwinism was about extreme gradualism over geological time. But Darwinian gradualism simply means that one animal cannot all of a sudden give birth to a completely different species. The current view of life on Earth is precisely one of changing lineages branching from common ancestors. This, and not the speed of change, is the core of Darwins theory.

The other component of Darwinism, according to Wilson, is that evolutionary progress happens by conflict. Here is the common misunderstanding that the de facto struggle that occurs because some animals live and some die means conscious fighting. And Darwins theory is not about progress, it is about change.

Darwins theory of evolution by natural selection, as any competent reference work describes, is about the differential survival of individual living things based on tiny differences between them. This differential survival (or selection) in effect filters living things to become adapted to a changing world. DNA evidence indicates that all living things are related genealogically on a vast ever-branching tree of life. This is Darwinism. Wilson instead erroneously describes variations in species, not individuals, and he mocks a Darwinian scenario in which the short-necked ancestors of todays giraffes were supposedly panting to reach those leaves, but without success. This is not Darwinism, this is Lamarckism.

Wilsons book contains numerous and serious factual errors such as if Darwin were correct, there would be hundreds, thousands of examples of transitional fossils. There are. Darwins first grandchild did not die in childbirth as Wilson states. A fragment of Wallaces letter to Darwin from when Wallace was living in Ternate does not survive. Darwin believed that his own theory made it impossible to believe in the Bible. Not so. The first 50 pages of Darwins evolution notebook are not missing, they were located and published by 1967. (Wilson copied this claim from a conspiracy-laden essay, Darwin, Coleridge, and the Theory of Unconscious Creation, published by Loren Eiseley in 1965, two years before Darwins pages were published.)

Wilson claims Darwin never persuaded the scientific community in Britain during his lifetime that one species could evolve into another. In fact, Darwin was world famous for having done so. There are very, very many more. Footnotes lead to incorrect references and many dates are quite wrong. Its hard to see how any care for either historical or scientific accuracy could result in such a book.

Throughout, Wilson bashes Darwin for supposed arrogance, dishonesty and incompetence and trots out a long line of old anti-Darwin myths: for example, that Darwin stole ideas from Edward Blyth, whom Wilson mistakes for an evolutionist. (This too is borrowed from Eiseley.) Wilson invents and condemns a towering ambition Darwin had to be a universal genius. And eugenics and Nazi race laws are also blamed (incorrectly) on Darwin.

The book claims to be a radical reappraisal of one of the great Victorians, a book which isnt afraid to challenge the Darwinian orthodoxy. The result is one of the most unreliable, inaccurate and tendentious anti-Darwin books of recent times.

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'Radical' new biography of Darwin is unreliable and inaccurate - New Scientist

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The Multiverse Is Science’s Assisted Suicide – Discovery Institute

Posted: at 4:09 am

In 2015,Wiredtold us that physicistswere desperate to be wrongabout the Higgs boson. They yearned to push the Standard (Big Bang) Model of the universe in new directions. But the unmindful particle acted just like the model said it would act, obeyed every theorized rule.

In the silence that followed, asking for evidence for these physicists proposed infinity of universes (the multiverse) felt like assaulting a victims feelings. At theGuardian,Stuart Clark laterinformed usthat Brexit and Trump are nothing compared to the alternate universes some astronomers are contemplating. Really? Regional political upsets vie with a multiverse?

Astronomers, Clark tells us, pin their hopes on the Cold Spot, a cool patch of space from the early universe: We cant entirely rule out that the Spot is caused by an unlikely fluctuation explained by the standard theory. But if that isnt the answer, then there are more exotic explanations. Indeed. There are more exotic explanations for almost anything.

Eugene LiminsistedatThe Conversationin 2015 that parallel universes are science: Whether we will ever be able to prove their existence is hard to predict. But given the massive implications of such afindingit should definitely be worth the search. Very well, but some people research ghosts on the same basis. What makes the multiverse quest science but the ghost hunt anti-science, once evidence no longer matters as much as it used to?

Cosmologists sense the problem and strive to rescue their multiverse from the nagging demands for evidence. Pop science media offer a window into major trends.

One is cosmic Darwinism. Lee Smolin has advocateda cosmic versionof Darwinian natural selection in which the most common universes will be those most suitable for producing black holes, as our universe does. Is Darwinism the cause? In The Logic and Beauty of Cosmological Natural Selection (Scientific American,2014), Lawrence Rifkinadmittedthat the main problem with the hypothesis is lack of direct evidence:

But keep in mind that from a direct evidence perspective, cosmological natural selection is no worse off at this point than proposed scientific alternatives. There is no direct evidence that universes are created by quantum fluctuations in a quantum vacuum, that we live in a multiverse, that there is a theory of everything, or that string theory, cyclic universes or- brane cosmology even exist.

Then why should we not set all such speculations aside? There is no obvious need for hurry.

Darwinism, as in natural selection acting on random mutations, is a theory developed by Darwin and his followers to account for complex, specified information in life forms on this planet. Whether it iscorrect or notwhen used as intended, if it is applied to an undetected multiverse, it becomes philosophy (metaphysics).

An anecdote suffices. As Michael Egnor has observed here, philosopher Joseph P. Carter told us in theNew York Timesthat the universedoes not careabout purpose. Evolutionary psychologist Michael E. Price disputes that view atPsychology Today,insisting that in a multiverse natural selection can create purpose. His position is denied by most of natural selections advocates in biology. But, riffing on Smolin, Price explains that life is more likely than black holes (or anything else) to be a mechanism of universe replication. If this kind of ungrounded assertion is the best naturalism can do for us now, why do we encourage it?

Physicist Ethan SiegelcounselsatForbesthat we must not doubt the Multiverses existence without considering the very good, scientific reasons that motivate it. But very good scientific reasons are precisely what we lack, unless the term scientific reasons now includes immunity toexperimental and observational tests.Similarly, physicist Brian Coxtold usin 2016 that the idea of multiverses is not too big a leap from cosmic inflation. But he is dealing with leaps of the imagination, not of physics discoveries.

Earlier this year, skeptical mathematicianPeter Woitfretted withscience writerJohn HorganatScientific American,The problem with such things as string-theory multiverse theories is that the multiverse did it is not just untestable, but an excuse for failure. Commenting elsewhere on Zeeya MeralisA Big Bang in a Little Room(2017),he notedthat she contemplates the possibility that string theory and inflation may be conspiring against us in such a way that we may never find evidence for them, and just have to trust in them as an act of faith. He woulddescribe it asa scientifically worthless idea.

With a clash of world views, where to begin?Woitand Horgan assume that post-modern science is a quest to understand reality, just as traditional science has been. It is not.

For many people today, post-modern science is more of a quest to expressan identity asbelieverin science,irrespective of evidence. Cosmologist Paul Steinhardtgot a sense of thisin2014,when he reported that some proponents of early rapid cosmic inflation already insist that the theory is equally valid whether or not gravitational waves are detected. It fulfilled their needs. In 2017, cosmologist George Ellis, long a foe ofpost-modern cosmology,summed it up: Scientific theories have since the seventeenth century been held tight by an experimental leash. In the last twenty years or so, both string theory and theories of the multiverse have slipped the leash.

We have so much more data now. But it provides no evidence for a multiverse. Thats nothing unusual historically (thinkphlogistonandetherfor great ideas that did not work). We used to just adjust. But today, increasing numbers of science-minded people demand a post-modern science that adapts to their needs. After all, we evolved to survive and pass on our genes, not to understand reality.

As a result, many cosmologists and science writers speak as if the multiverse merely awaits routine administrative clearance to morph into textbook science, absent evidence. Characteristically, they see themselves as fighting aconservative(fuddy-duddy) establishment whichclings toa role for mere evidence.

Fine tuningof our planet and our universe for life sets limits onmerebelief by challenging us to calculate probabilities. The multiverse is deeply attractive by comparison because it dissipates evidence. Itconjures unimaginablyinfinite, unproven, and incalculable probabilities. AsNew Scientistputs it,We merely inhabit one out of the infinite selection. That feels so right just now.

The multiverse has only ever existed, so far as we know, in the mind of man. Its most promising research programs,stringtheoryandearly rapid cosmic inflation theory,have bounced along on enthusiasm alone, prompting ever more arcane speculations for which there may never be any possibility of evidence.

But like so many other empty ideas, the multiverse has consequences. If we accept it, we abandon the view that science deals with the observed facts of nature. We adopt the view that it tells us what we want to believe about ourselves. In other words, the multiverse is sciences assisted suicide.

Image: Infinity Room, by Helsinki Art Museum, The Broad [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Early Review of AN Wilson’s Anti-Darwin Biography Could Have Been Predicted – Discovery Institute

Posted: at 4:09 am

We havent yet seen a copy of A.N. Wilsons forthcoming anti-Darwin book, which isnt out in the United States until December 12. See David Klinghoffers post, Ouch: A Slashing New Anti-Darwin Biography from Darwins Own Publisher. However, if all you knew was that the biographer and literary critic has written a book titled Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker, and a preview op-ed titled Its time Charles Darwin was exposed for the fraud he was, the response would be predictable.

The book could be good, or it could be bad. Were agnostic. But Darwinists defend their man ferociously, and the offense is worse coming not from a creationist but someone who, given class loyalties, ought to be on their side. A creationist they would simply ignore. Its the class treachery angle that really stings them.

Thus we have an early review for New Scientist, Radical new biography of Darwin is unreliable and inaccurate, by historian of science John van Wyhe who edits the website Darwin Online.

Excerpts from the review:

This book provides an appallingly inaccurate rendition of Darwins theory and its scientific context. According to Wilson, Darwin told his contemporaries that their land-grabs in Africa, their hunger for stock-market wealth in the face of widespread urban poverty, their rigid class system and their everlasting wars were not things to be ashamed of, but actually part of the processes of nature. The theory is not science, Wilson concludes, just another offering in a bazaar of ersatz religions.

Wilsons book contains numerous and serious factual errors such as if Darwin were correct, there would be hundreds, thousands of examples of transitional fossils. There are. Darwins first grandchild did not die in childbirth as Wilson states. A fragment of Wallaces letter to Darwin from when Wallace was living in Ternate does not survive. Darwin believed that his own theory made it impossible to believe in the Bible. Not so. The first 50 pages of Darwins evolution notebook are not missing, they were located and published by 1967. (Wilson copied this claim from a conspiracy-laden essay, Darwin, Coleridge, and the Theory of Unconscious Creation, published by Loren Eiseley in 1965, two years before Darwins pages were published.)

Throughout, Wilson bashes Darwin for supposed arrogance, dishonesty and incompetence and trots out a long line of old anti-Darwin myths: for example, that Darwin stole ideas fromEdward Blyth, whom Wilson mistakes for an evolutionist. (This too is borrowed from Eiseley.) Wilson invents and condemns a towering ambition Darwin had to be a universal genius. And eugenics and Nazi race laws are also blamed (incorrectly) on Darwin.

Wilsons competence or incompetence on Darwin remains to be seen with our own eyes.

Having said that, John van Wyhe is a Darwinian partisan so some of what he says is surely to be anticipated. His claims of thousands of transitional fossils supporting Darwins theory (contra Wilson) and that Darwins theory does not rely upon slow, gradual change are simply incorrect, as Jonathan Wells and Stephen Meyer have thoroughly explained. The Cambrian explosion really is a problem for Darwinism.

The reviewer is too quick to dismiss the influence of Darwinian theory on Nazi ideology (see Richard Weikarts books) and its social implications (see John Wests Darwin Day in America). Van Wyhe is also wrong to criticize Wilson for claiming that Darwins theory made it impossible to believe in the Bible. In his Autobiography,Darwin states his emerging belief in the unreliability of Bible and his rejection of design in nature clearly enough.

Yet van Wyhes criticisms of some factual errors, if accurate, make Wilsons book problematic. Some of the issues attributed to the book are more than just Darwinian talking points, e.g., incorrect dates, bad references, and other basic errors of fact which are, again, if correct, serious matters.

We noticed that, contrary to what Wilson wrote in the previously referenced newspaper article, Cuvier was not an evolutionist. And van Wyhe is correct in describing the giraffe stretching his neck as the iconic illustration of classic Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics, not Darwinism, as he says Wilson suggests.

Also, it is true that the early notebooks of Darwin were discovered in the mid 1960s and published in 1965. They are not missing, as van Wyhe claims Wilson asserts.

The key is exactly what does Wilson say and how does he say it. We know well by now to be cautious of Darwins defenders. They are often cagey and misleading. So at this point, who knows?

Photo credit: Patche99z (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.

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How can I keep my employees from jumping ship? – New York Post

Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:18 pm

I am the owner of a thriving small company. I make an extreme effort to support my employees, yet no matter how much I do, I rarely trust their loyalty. They tell me how happy they are and how grateful for learning so much, but then jump ship, chasing a shinier fish. Loyalty and building a place in a company is a thing of the past, it seems. Whats a small business owner to do?

Good help is hard to find is a common refrain, particularly from small business owners. Generally, I agree with that, which is why, when you are one of the good help you have a lot of leverage and employers are best-served to do what they can to retain such talent. Its harder for small business owners because of the limited career potential. It is your business, after all, not theirs, so if you are hiring people who have higher career aspirations than what you can provide, its unrealistic to expect them to stick around. Not everyone is a career climber, though, so maybe you need to hire more wisely. Find people who are looking for a steady job with good pay, benefits and a pleasant place to work. Youll have a better chance of retaining your staff.

I went through a 360-degree evaluation where my staff, peers and bosses filled out an anonymous evaluation about me, my traits, my performance, etc. I am mortified by the results. Our workplace is very competitive, and I am sure my peers sabotaged me because they want my job. I also dont think its fair that it is anonymous. How do I handle this and discuss it with my boss?

Someone needs a little more help than just a 360 evaluation! Before you go popping off about how the deck was stacked against you and the results are the forces of workplace Darwinism, you might want to dial back there a bit and take a long, hard look in the mirror. Usually there is a certified survey professional who sits with the individual and goes through the results and strategies for dealing with the feedback. Do that! Because unless you do work in a vipers den, chances are you have some things to work on. The fact that your employer invested time and money in this process usually means he or she sees something positive in you worth developing. Seize on that and go from there.

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How can I keep my employees from jumping ship? - New York Post

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