Thursday, December 06, 2012

Discovery Institute's Review of Why Evolution is True.

Part 1 is here. Part II is here. Part III is here.


SteveK said...

In summary:

1. [The fossil record] speaks loudly and eloquently of evolution -- except when it speaks loudly against it.

2. [W]hen we find transitional forms, they occur in the fossil record precisely where they should -- except when they occur precisely where they should not.

3. [E]volutionary change, even of a major sort, nearly always involves remodeling the old into the new -- except when it doesn't.

ozero91 said...

I'm not an evolutionary biologist, but I don't see the problem with the whole thighbone-muscle structure in the therapod to bird model. I read a recent article on gliding therapods, and I don't think gliding therapods would have the thighbone-muscle-lung problem because they don't require strenuous flapping, they are hypothesized to just glide from tree to tree to escape predators. So, theoretically, therapods gave rise to gliding therapods, which gave rise to birds. Obviously, more fossil data is required to support this hypothesis, but overall the therapod to bird model seems fine.

im-skeptical said...

"Coyne's next exhibit is the human appendix. This is another case, however, of a loss of function, not a gain. Moreover, the appendix is not without important function in humans, as Coyne himself notes. The appendix is thought to be involved in the immune system, and is believed to play a role in B lymphocyte maturation and in the production of immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies."

First, loss of function is still evolution. It illustrates features that wouldn't be designed into a creature, but only make sense if they are left over from an ancestor in which those features were more functional.

Second, the human appendix is certainly not a vital organ, and we would be better off without it.

Coyne points these things out in his book. Jonathan M conveniently ignores them in his review.

Tony Hoffman said...

The reviewer writes: "Much like "god-of-the-gaps" arguments, the "evolution-of-the-gaps" argument...."

What a crock. There is no "evolution of the gaps" argument. There is the understanding, profoundly productive, that all biological life is the result of evolutionary processes. This is a positive explanation, without reference to design. ID proponents (like the reviewer) should get really try and get their heads around this fact.

The reviewer continues: "... has to retreat with advances in scientific knowledge, as biologists uncover important reasons for the way these features have been designed."

Unfortunately, the reviewer can't quite get around to providing us with what these important reasons are.

Doctor Logic said...

If an unguided evolutionary process is responsible for life on Earth, then we expect descent, common descent, common composition, and a gradual appearance of species and features over a very long period of time. We expect this essentially 100% of the time. We will also expect to find cases where we lack the evidence to trace the exact course of evolutionary history.

If an all powerful being were designing life, we don't expect descent, common descent, common composition or a gradual appearance of features and species. How many ways can a God create life in a universe? The number of ways a God can do this is vastly greater than the number of ways unguided evolution can do so. For example, gods don't even need to create life consistent with physical laws because they can create ghosts. There's no need for descent (birth) because God can make animals outright or create factories (no car has ever been born to another car). Even keeping the species the same and changing their natural histories and genomics gives a God vastly more options than evolution. I think theists would be tempted to say that there are infinitely more ways God could create life than ways that evolution could create life.

This is a simple problem in Bayesian reasoning. Finding ourselves in a world that is consistent with unguided evolution implies that the probability that we're designed is extremely close to zero.

P(apparent evolution|unguided evolution) = 100%


P(apparent evolution|generic design) ~= 0

It's not that a god could not create a world like ours (obviously, it could), but that a generic god could create vastly many alternative worlds.

Nitpicking against gaps in our picture of natural history won't change this inference. The non-gap facts are more than enough to seal the inference. Just think of of the theistic alternatives to the non-gap facts.

Generic intelligent design is dead, people.