Missed this one (but didn’t miss it much)November 16, 2007 — Deacon Duncan
Gosh, looks like I missed one: Daniel MacIntyre tries to argue that I’m an extremist because I pointed out the fact that creationism and ID both portray God (or the Designer, if you prefer) as an inept and inferior designer.
Notice how quickly he went from “anti-Darwinist” to “ID proponent” to “Creationist?” In the Darwinist mind, these are all simply disguised versions of the same thing. If you’re not convinced that the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is “the Truth” you are a Darwin damned Flat Earth Creationist and a Republican to boot. The simple fact is, while I acknowledge that Darwinism is a valid theory, I don’t believe it has proven its case. My primary reason is that, while I have seen a great deal of evidence that Darwinism is a sufficient explanation for the current state of the diversity of species we see, I have not seen anything to establish it as a NECESSARY explanation.
Notice how far he stretches what I said: I made a reference to the fact that leading evolution deniers (including both creationists and ID proponents) argue that evolution does not exist in the real world. This means that any alternative involving intelligent, intentional design for life on earth must address the issue of why the designer failed to come up with a design as sophisticated, elegant, and innovative as the system Darwin proposed. I said nothing about all evolutionist-deniers being “Darwin damned Flat Earth Creationists,” let alone Republicans. I’m merely addressing the alternatives which have been proposed so far: creationism in general, and ID in particular.
Why does MacIntyre stretch my words to such an extreme? Who knows. He apparently wants to disagree with me, but he hasn’t got much to offer. He might be reluctant accept evolution as fact, but he has nothing to offer in its place.
The simple fact is, while I acknowledge that Darwinism is a valid theory, I don’t believe it has proven its case. My primary reason is that, while I have seen a great deal of evidence that Darwinism is a sufficient explanation for the current state of the diversity of species we see, I have not seen anything to establish it as a NECESSARY explanation.
Now, the professor has gone on about how innovative and sophisticated Darwinism is, but if it isn’t necessary, then it’s a moot point. No matter how the hub cap sparkles or how smoothly the axle turns, it’s still a fifth wheel.
Add Daniel MacIntyre to the list of people who have confused skepticism with a mere reluctance to embrace the truth. Evolution has the unique distinction of being the only currently proposed scientific theory which proposes a mechanism with specific, predictable consequences that correspond to the data we find in the real world. It’s not just the best explanation consistent with the facts, it’s the only scientific explanation that fits the facts.
MacIntyre defends his views by appealing to eminent biologist and Nobel Laureate, Vox Day:
Vox Day has made a pretty strong case for a second argument against Darwinian theory. It’s an unscientific model because it fails as a predictive model – and in fact is not even that effective as a historical one.
From my admittedly layman’s perspective, the Neo-Darwinian Theory of evolution looks remarkably like a historical model, except that it doesn’t explain historical events half as well as my stock system did. It’s not a reliably predictive model like the Law of Supply and Demand and it doesn’t provide what I consider to be convincing answers to simple questions like why one population evolves and another does not when they share the same environment; declaring one to have reached equilibrium while the other is unstable is simply not convincing over the lengths of time that are supposed to be involved.
Based on the information from Talk Origins, it could theoretically take as little as 20 years to forcibly evolve a species of mouse into a species of elephant given the rate of darwins observed in the laboratory and the number required for that level of transformation. [sic] And yet, after 150 years of constant refinement, evolution still appears to be more smoke, mirrors and revision of the historical model rather than the foundation of a predictive one. I don’t argue that the concept of natural selection modifying behavior and attributes over time can’t be useful, even valuable, we’ve used it in artificial intelligence systems in my games for more than a decade now.
But to place evolution on the same level of confidence as Austrian economic theory, let alone Newtonian physics? Given the imprecision, the margins of error and the level of overt speculation that always seems to be involved, I don’t see that it’s justified.
I’m sure we’re all deeply grateful that no less an authority than Vox Day has seen fit to bestow upon us the biological wisdom he has acquired through playing games. But while we’re waiting for Mr. Day’s peer-reviewed genetics paper on how to force a mouse to evolve into an elephant in only 20 years, let’s take a minute to just think about what evolution means, and how that translates into a predictive model.
The foundation of science is the principle that truth is consistent with itself, and therefore we can judge the accuracy of a scientific explanation by seeing how consistent it is with the truth we find in the real world all around us. In order for that to happen, the theory or hypothesis must allow us to determine what specific consequences will result if the process in question occurs in the real world. Evolution is the only theory which does this, which is why I say it is the only scientific explanation which is consistent with real-world evidence.
Evolution says that new species arise via descent with modification from existing species. What real-world consequences will we see if, in fact, new species do arise via descent with modifications from common ancestors? Nested hierarchies, for one. If we arrange the species according to shared characteristics and/or shared genetic code, we ought to find that a nested hierarchy naturally emerges from the data. Species descended from recent common ancestors will have fewer accumulated changes than species which have descended from more ancient common ancestors. And that’s what we find.
If new species arise by descent with modification from common ancestors over time, we ought also to find a fossil record in which the “snapshots” capture a progression (not always “upwards”) of species that diverge from one another more and more the farther they get chronologically from their most recent common ancestors. And again, that’s what we find. If new species arise by descent with modification from common ancestors, we ought to find that inheritance works by a mechanism that allows–and accumulates–variations over time. And that’s what we do find. And so on.
I’m not sure what Vox is trying to predict using evolutionary theory, but it’s clear he does not understand it well enough to succeed in his predictions, whatever they might be. [Edit: nor am I the only one to think Vox’s “science” is crap.] Nor does MacIntyre understand the difference between ancestry and race.
aside from the “intelligence” issue, which I’ve disputed from the beginning, the genetic components of race are increasingly testible – Wired Magazine has an article that states point blank that it is testible to 99% accuracy:
In early March, 2003, investigators turned to Tony Frudakis, a molecular biologist who said he could determine the killer’s race by analyzing his DNA. They were unsure about the science, so, before giving him the go-ahead, the task force sent Frudakis DNA swabs taken from 20 people whose race they knew and asked him to determine their races through blind testing. He nailed every single one.
Still, when they gathered in the Baton Rouge police department for a conference call with Frudakis in mid-March, they were not prepared to hear or accept his conclusions about the killer.
“Your guy has substantial African ancestry,” said Frudakis. “He could be Afro-Caribbean or African American but there is no chance that this is a Caucasian. No chance at all.”…
Pretty impressive illusion, huh?
Exactly. The very story MacIntyre quotes comes right out and says the suspect “could be Afro-Caribbean or African American.” That’s mixed ancestry, not separate races. Which race were our original human and proto-human ancestors, back in Africa? “Race” is a term people use casually and without a whole lot of attention to specificity, but it’s more a perceptual category than an actual genetic indicator in and of itself. There is no genetic test that will divide people into unambiguous, distinct racial groups because we all belong to the same human race and there’s a whole lot of crossovers in a population’s ancestral tree. We use the concept of race in our social dealings because it is convenient and its flaws are not always immediately apparent, but from a technical, scientific point of view it’s an unreliable indicator.