Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Climategate, Meet IDgate!

A story by Barbara Hollingsworth in the Washington Examiner likens the current negative response to global warming scepticism to that of scientist trying to promote ID. She writes:
More than 800 Ph.D.-level scientists around the world are seriously considering ID to explain the origin of life, but you'd never know it. Most do so clandestinely for fear of being ostracized by their peers or even forced out of their academic positions.

Some have secretly contacted the Discovery Institute ( after researching ID, Stephen C. Meyer, author of "Signature in the Cell" -- now in its fifth printing and one of's top 10 science titles -- recently told me over lunch.

Others, like Cold War dissidents making furtive contact with the West, arrange discreet meetings to discuss what "evolutionary biologists don't want to talk about, the origins of the information in the digital code of DNA necessary to produce life."
There is a fundamental flaw in this analogy: different climate models are testable and some have, indeed, been shown to support, on some level, a cooling trend. That is quite different from support for ID which exists in the form of negative evidence. Arguments for ID stem from trying to show the improbability of evolution to explain biodiversity. For example:
When former Cambridge biochemist Douglas Axe computed the chances that the four amino acids that form DNA could self-arrange themselves into just one functional protein, he found it was 1:10164 -- or less than the odds of finding one marked subatomic particle in the entire observable universe.
This suffers from the same logic that plagued Michael Behe in his recent books The Edge of Evolution and Darwin's Black Box. Namely, that all of the mutations that "self arranged" did so all at once. No model of early life assumes that and all of the available evidence suggests that this is exactly what did not happen. The mutations came about over time and individually.

The other problem with this idea is that it is a post hoc argument. That same logic could apply to any given event on any given day that includes a large group of people. What are the odds that all of the decisions that each person had made over the course of their lives led them to be at that same spot at the same time? The probabilities are infinitesimally small. Yet there they all are. I thought about that as I waited for Tony Banks, Michael Rutherford and Phil Collins to take the stage at the Genesis concert I attended in 2007. There were almost 100 k people there, each with a lifetime of decisions behind them.

Then the wheels come completely off:
"The actual evidence shows that major features of the fossil record are an embarrassment to Darwinian evolution; that early development in vertebrate embryos is more consistent with separate origins than with common ancestry; that non-coding DNA is fully functional, contrary to neo-Darwinian predictions; and that natural selection can accomplish nothing more than artificial selection -- which is to say, minor changes within existing species," writes Discovery Institute senior fellow Jonathan Wells, who has two Ph.D.s from the University of California at Berkeley in molecular and cell biology. "Faced with such evidence, any other scientific theory would probably have been abandoned long ago. Judged by the normal criteria of empirical science, Darwinism is false."
And all credibility goes out the window. There is very good evidence for evolution in the fossil record (how many times do I have to say this?). If people like Wells don't want to believe in evolution, that is fine, but to say that the fossil record is an embarrassment to "Darwinian evolution" is flat-out false. It gets more false every year!

These, to me, are the principle reasons that ID doesn't get taken seriously. The mathematical models don't address biological reality, they have no testable models, and nobody at the DI seems to know anything about the fossil record. Where is the science?

Now playing: Todd Rundgren - Initiation
via FoxyTunes

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