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Sunday, July 01, 2012

Darwinism is more religion than science. That is why it must be protected and that is why it will fail.

From The Salvo

I love a good movie or television series.   One of my favorite movies is "Young Frankenstein" which is, of course , a Mel Brooks classic starring Gene Wilder and many more of Brook's favorites from the acting world .   The first time I saw it, I laughed so hard that my sides hurt...being familiar with the book and the various classic Frankenstein movies made watching Brook's version so much better!

Igor: Dr. Frankenstein...
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: "Fronkensteen."
Igor: You're putting me on.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: No, it's pronounced "Fronkensteen."
Igor: Do you also say "Froaderick"?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: No... "Frederick."
Igor: Well, why isn't it "Froaderick Fronkensteen"?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: It isn't; it's "Frederick Fronkensteen."
Igor: I see.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: You must be Igor.
[He pronounces it ee-gor]
Igor: No, it's pronounced "eye-gor."
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: But they told me it was "ee-gor."
Igor: Well, they were wrong then, weren't they? 

Courtesy of IMDB

Scene from Young Frankenstein
I find it rather hilarious that there is a "cable channel" which has a theme that goes like this:  Question Everything!  But, when you watch programs on the channel, you realize that they assume a number of things without questioning.   Aliens are presumed to be out there somewhere.   Evolution is presumed to have happened, as is the "Big Bang" and all sorts of other hypotheses that are simply not settled science at all.   No, Darwinists, the concept of evolution is becoming more ridiculously unlikely with each new discovery about the cell, DNA and the fossil record.   Darwinism has become the Black Knight (Monty Python version) of the scientific community, a religion posing as science.   Sadly, this kind of hilarity is also pitiful and pathetic. 

Darwinism has been shot full of more holes than were Bonnie and Clyde and yet, like a zombie it keeps coming and coming.   In the quirky but popular zombie series, The Walking Dead,  the dead become zombies that keep coming at you until they are shot or smashed emphatically in the head.  

Zombies are a popular theme in movies, running the gamut from classic horror to humor.   The Night of the Living Dead was a stark tale of horror and brutality filmed on a low budget and considered a classic of the genre, and it is a far cry from Shaun of the Dead which is more comedy than thriller.   In almost every zombie movie, the zombie is either undead or somehow back from the dead and somehow, stumbling and bumbling they come after and chase down healthy folks to eat them alive.   Why?  Actually, it doesn't matter why.   Zombies are simply a plot device to move along the story.    Stories are inevitably about man and/or woman facing and dealing with obstacles or the zig-zag of romance or some heroic quest or a compelling mystery.  Of course we are talking about fiction.

Sadly, there is a real form of zombie that has invaded our world of science and it seemingly should have been long dead.  I believe the reason that Darwinism has not been cast aside as a valid hypothesis is this: Darwinism is more religion than science.   That is my opinion.   However, it may be that it is also the opinion of Darwinists.   Why is there an NCSE in existence if Darwinism is science?   Why does Darwinism need "protection" if it is simple science?   After all, there is no organization that I know of that has been formed to defend gravity or general relativity or the periodic table.   Whenever Creationist or Intelligent Design science is mentioned, Darwinists go nuts in an attempt to keep the information away from schools and the media and certainly peer review organizations that were once agnostic towards worldview but now are dominated and controlled by Naturalists.  

Did you know that Darwinist refusals to allow non-Darwinist materials to be reviewed have cost them money?  In fact prejudice against Creationists and ID proponents has resulted in court verdicts awarding the offended party money or settlements out of court.   Here is one example.   Read  How the Scientific "Consensus" on Evolution is Maintained.

Small excerpt, authored by Granville Sewell:  "As ENV readers may know, I wrote an article, "A Second Look at the Second Law," that was reviewed and accepted by Applied Mathematics Letters (AML) in 2011, then withdrawn at the last minute because "our editors simply found that it does not consist of the kind of content that we are interested in publishing." The circumstances surrounding the withdrawal were so embarrassing to the publisher that it ended up paying $10,000 in damages and publishing an apology in the journal. But they still refused to publish the article itself..."

However, this near-universal effort by Darwinists to stifle dissent and research is doomed to failure.   No matter how badly the ruling paradigm wished to maintain that the Earth was the center of the Solar System, real scientists like Copernicus managed to produce enough evidence to defeat the ruling paradigm.   By the way, it was largely the work of Christians that managed to not only convince the world that the Sun was the center of the Solar System, it was Christians who developed the modern scientific method, who opened the schools up to non-royals and non-priests, who spearheaded the movement to bring literacy and knowledge to the lower classes as defined by the ruling paradigm.   

Christianity and freedom mixed together and shaken was then poured out to form the United States of America.   It was the Reformation and not the Renaissance that led to the end of the dark ages and pointed mankind to a world where there might be places that a man could go as far as his strength and character and abilities and determination would take him.   Places like the United States of America.

I will be posting examples of ID and Creation Science at work doing good real science.   However, first I wanted to share this blogpost, below, which involves an actual dissent against Darwinism that actually got through the filters, which is unusual in and of itself.   Cue Casey Luskin:

Peer-Reviewed Paper in Medical Journal Challenges Evolutionary Science and Inaccurate Evolution-Education

A new article by Dr. Joseph Kuhn of the Department of Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center, appearing in the peer-reviewed journal Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, poses a number of challenges to both chemical and biological evolution. Titled "Dissecting Darwinism," the paper begins by recounting some of the arguments raised during the Texas State Board of Education debate that challenged chemical and biological evolution. Those challenges include:
1. Limitations of the chemical origin of life data to explain the origin of DNA
2. Limitations of mutation and natural selection theories to address the irreducible complexity of the cell
3. Limitations of transitional species data to account for the multitude of changes involved in the transition.
(Joseph A. Kuhn, "Dissecting Darwinism," Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, Vol. 25(1): 41-47 (2012).)
Regarding the chemical origin of life, Kuhn points to the Miller-Urey experiments and correctly observes that "the experimental conditions of a low-oxygen, nitrogen-rich reducing environment have been refuted." Citing Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell, he contends that "the fundamental and insurmountable problem with Darwinian evolution lies in the remarkable complexity and inherent information contained within DNA." Kuhn also explains that "Darwinian evolution and natural selection could not have been causes of the origin of life, because they require replication to operate, and there was no replication prior to the origin of life," but no other known cause can organize the information in life.

Dr. Kuhn then turns to explaining the concept of irreducible complexity, citing Michael Behe's book Darwin's Black Box and noting that "irreducible complexity suggests that all elements of a system must be present simultaneously rather than evolve through a stepwise, sequential improvement, as theorized by Darwinian evolution." Further, "The fact that these irreducibly complex systems are specifically coded through DNA adds another layer of complexity called 'specified complexity.'" As a medical doctor, Kuhn proposes that irreducibly complex systems within the human body include "vision, balance, the respiratory system, the circulatory system, the immune system, the gastrointestinal system, the skin, the endocrine system, and taste." He concludes that "the human body represents an irreducibly complex system on a cellular and an organ/system basis."

Kuhn also explores the question of human/ape common ancestry, citing Jonathan Wells's book The Myth of Junk DNA and arguing:
DNA homology between ape and man has been reported to be 96% when considering only the current protein-mapping sequences, which represent only 2% of the total genome. However, the actual similarity of the DNA is approximately 70% to 75% when considering the full genome, including the previously presumed "junk DNA," which has now been demonstrated to code for supporting elements in transcription or expression. The 25% difference represents almost 35 million single nucleotide changes and 5 million insertions or deletions.
In Dr. Kuhn's view, this poses a problem for Darwinian evolution because the "[t]he ape to human species change would require an incredibly rapid rate of mutation leading to formation of new DNA, thousands of new proteins, and untold cellular, neural, digestive, and immune-related changes in DNA, which would code for the thousands of new functioning proteins."

Kuhn also observes that a challenge to neo-Darwinism comes from the Cambrian explosion:
Thousands of specimens were available at the time of Darwin. Millions of specimens have been classified and studied in the past 50 years. It is remarkable to note that each of these shows a virtual explosion of nearly all phyla (35/40) of the animal kingdom over a relatively short period during the Cambrian era 525 to 530 million years ago. Since that time, there has been occasional species extinction, but only rare new phyla have been convincingly identified. The seminal paper from paleoanthropologists J. Valentine and D. H. Erwin notes that the absence of transitional species for any of the Cambrian phyla limits the neo-Darwinian explanation for evolution.
Despite Texas's call for discussing the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution, Kuhn closes by noting, "In 2011, when new textbooks were presented to the State Board of Education, 9 out of 10 failed to provide the mandated supplementary curricula, which would include both positive and negative aspects of evolution (44)." Citing Discovery Institute's Report on the Textbooks, he laments:
[S]everal of the textbooks continued to incorrectly promote the debunked Miller-Urey origin of life experiment, the long-discredited claims about nonfunctional appendix and tonsils, and the fraudulent embryo drawings from Ernst Haeckel. In essence, current biology students, aspiring medical students, and future scientists are not being taught the whole story. Rather, evidence suggests that they continue to receive incorrect and incomplete material that exaggerates the effect of random mutation and natural selection to account for DNA, the cell, or the transition from species to species.
Kuhn concludes, "It is therefore time to sharpen the minds of students, biologists, and physicians for the possibility of a new paradigm."

Rebuttal to Kuhn Full of Unsophisticated and False Darwinian Assumptions

The journal also published a rebuttal to Dr. Kuhn by Charles Stewart Roberts, a cardiovascular surgeon in Virginia. Dr. Roberts's rebuttal simply asserted, as if it were a truth that required no scientific backing, that all biological features could be produced by evolution:
The notion of "irreducible complexity" in a cell, as an argument against evolution, is beyond my present understanding. Knowing that life has existed on planet earth for billions of years, however, I suspect that there has been time enough for evolution, no matter how complex, with reducibility.
We've encountered and addressed this type of unsophisticated argument for Darwinian evolution many times before. You can't just vaguely appeal to vast and unending amounts of time (and other probabilistic resources) and assume that Darwinian evolution can produce anything "no matter how complex." Rather, you have to demonstrate that sufficient probabilistic resources exist to produce the feature.

Rather than making assumptions, proponents of intelligent design seek to test what the Darwinian mechanism can, or cannot, do. For example, a 2010 peer-reviewed research paper by pro-ID scientist Doug Axe modeled a population of evolving bacteria, and found that there are severe limits on the ability of Darwinian evolution to produce multi-mutation features. (A multi-mutation feature is one that requires multiple mutations to be present before there is any advantage given to the organism.)

Axe's research makes assumptions very generously favoring Darwinian evolution. He assumed the existence of a huge population of asexually reproducing bacteria that could replicate quickly -- perhaps nearly 3 times per day -- over the course of billions of years. But he found that complex adaptations requiring more than six neutral mutations would exhaust the probabilistic resources available over the entire history of the earth.

Moreover, if only slightly maladaptive intermediate mutations are required for a complex adaptation, only a couple (at most two) mutations could be fixed. If highly maladaptive mutations are required, the trait will never appear. Axe discusses the implications of his work:
[T]he most significant implication comes not from how the two cases contrast but rather how they cohere -- both showing severe limitations to complex adaptation. To appreciate this, consider the tremendous number of cells needed to achieve adaptations of such limited complexity. As a basis for calculation, we have assumed a bacterial population that maintained an effective size of 109 individuals through 103 generations each year for billions of years. This amounts to well over a billion trillion opportunities (in the form of individuals whose lines were not destined to expire imminently) for evolutionary experimentation. Yet what these enormous resources are expected to have accomplished, in terms of combined base changes, can be counted on the fingers. 
(Douglas D. Axe, "The Limits of Complex Adaptation: An Analysis Based on a Simple Model of Structured Bacterial Populations," BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2010(4):1-10.)
Axe's work suggests that we cannot assume, as Roberts does, that sufficient probabilistic resources exist to produce all the features we see in life, "no matter how complex." Indeed, follow-up research by Axe and Ann Gauger suggests that many biological features might require enough mutations before conferring an advantage that they easily exceed Axe's limit. Their 2011 study attempted to convert one protein into another, closely related protein -- the kind of transformation that evolutionists claim happened easily in the history of life. Through mutational analysis, they found that a minimum of seven independent mutations -- and probably many more -- would be necessary to convert the protein and its function into that of its allegedly close relative. But this would exceed Axe's limit of the number of mutations which could be fixed over the history of the earth before conferring any advantage.

Their finding severely limits the creative power of the Darwinian mechanism:
The extent to which Darwinian evolution can explain enzymatic innovation seems, on careful inspection, to be very limited. Large-scale innovations that result in new protein folds appear to be well outside its range. This paper argues that at least some small-scale innovations may also be beyond its reach. If studies of this kind continue to imply that this is typical rather than exceptional, then answers to the most interesting origins questions will probably remain elusive until the full range of explanatory alternatives is considered. 
(Ann K. Gauger and Douglas D. Axe, "The Evolutionary Accessibility of New Enzyme Functions: A Case Study from the Biotin Pathway," BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2011(1) (2011).)
Unfortunately, Dr. Roberts's way of thinking is extremely common among evolutionists, who simply assume the Darwinian mechanism is sufficient, even though that has not been demonstrated. ID proponents take a much more sophisticated approach, doing research that is putting these long-standing Darwinian assertions to the test, and finding they are false.


But be of good cheer.   The situation is very close to changing...

Who Owns Science? Publication Revolution Underway

Posted on June 27, 2012 in Darwin and Evolution, Intelligent Design, Media, Philosophy of Science, Politics and Ethics
A revolution in scientific publishing may fundamentally alter the power structure over science and result in openness for all.

The traditional method of publishing scientific results has been the peer-reviewed journal paper.  Nature, Science, and countless other journals are for-profit enterprises that justify their existence by adding value to research and providing editorial review.  Printing a journal is costly; no question, but it is also a powerful position: the editors make the call on what gets published.  Traditional journals took early advantage of the internet by providing online subscriptions.  Universities and research institutions have to buy costly site licenses; individuals have to pay hundreds of dollars and are forced to get the print edition with the online access.

A new method is pulling the rug out from journal editors: open access publishing.  These “author pays” systems allow everyone to read the paper without a subscription.  The success of arXiv, Public Library of Science and other open-access sites is putting pressure on the traditional print journals to join the bandwagon or get left behind.  Why pay when readers can get good science for free?  Who owns research, anyway?  Much research is government-funded.  Why should readers pay a for-profit company to read what their tax dollars have paid for?  Even if an individual author has to pay for the privilege of publication, he or she can do it, or can get the institution to do it.  Government funding can still foot the bill.  But now, everyone in the world can read it.

Nature addressed this situation in its editorial today (Nature, 486, 28 June 2012, p. 439, doi:10.1038/486439a).  Surprisingly, the editors are in favor of open access.  Maybe they realize trends are leaving them no other option.  They are starting to look like those evil, self-seeking corporations everyone demonizes because they appear greedy for profit:

Publishers in such an environment will need all the more to demonstrate that they add value to the research process. This sits alongside their need to deliver a reasonable profit — whether to fund learned-society activities or to reduce their publishing charges (the aim of the Public Library of Science) or, like many suppliers of services and equipment to researchers, to deliver a return to their investors. The perception of publishers as profiteers is strong, and understanding of the value they add is weak. Not noted for their transparency, publishers will have to work hard to develop trust amid a fundamental shift in their customer base.

In the same issue, Nature published the opinion of Geoffrey Boulton, who is also strongly in favor of open access (“Open your minds and share your results,” Nature News, Jan 27, 2012).  He not only wants open access publishing; he wants open data, and openness to the public:

We also need to be open towards fellow citizens. The massive impact of science on our collective and individual lives has decreased the willingness of many to accept the pronouncements of scientists unless they can verify the strength of the underlying evidence for themselves. The furore surrounding ‘Climategate’ — rooted in the resistance of climate scientists to accede to requests from members of the public for data underlying some of the claims of climate science — was in part a motivation for the Royal Society’s current report. It is vital that science is not seen to hide behind closed laboratory doors, but engages seriously with the public.

He continued,Everyone will benefit from a more open approach.”  There are challenges, for sure; how to make abstruse data intelligible to the public, and how to solve issues about confidentiality, costs, and discoverer’s priority.  Judging from scientist comments, though, there’s a strong feeling that it’s about time.  One researcher who benefited from open access to the arXiv database said, “it remains an important venue for exploration of alternatives to that quaint atavism pre-publication peer review – a bottleneck whose justification would be further reduced if the supporting data were itself freely available.
It’s the transparency issue that holds the greatest potential for a sea change in science publishing.  How did journal editors decide what research merits publication?  How were reviewers picked?  That lack of transparency, that perpetuation of status-quo science has long been the complaint of many “maverick” scientists who felt stymied by consensus.  Open access may change that dramatically.  Now, they may have a solution in open-access publication, where the reviewers are the public, the research is public, and scientists around the world can engage in the critique.

With every revolution will come new challenges, though.  Does this mean crackpot theories will have easier paths to fame?  That problem already exists.  Traditional journals publish wild ideas all the time, and some crackpot theories turn out to be mainstream (e.g., fractal geometry, plate tectonics, expanding universe).  The right question is, who determines what is crackpot or not?  What standards will determine scientific merit?  How will they be maintained?  Who owns science, anyway?  It’s going to be an interesting sea that scientists set sail on.

Intelligent design is considered crackpot by Nature, Science and many other mainstream journal editors, but ID advocates (most with legitimate PhDs) who feel stymied by the consensus and power structure) consider the Darwinian trash that gets published weekly to be crackpot.  Whether open access publishing opens the doors of the Darwin Dark Castle and lets in some fresh air remains to be seen.

Every solution breeds new problems,” Peer’s Law says.  We’ve seen this with Wikipedia.  It sounded great.  No more bookshelves with heavy tomes; just search on a keyword and presto! instant encyclopedia material online, peer reviewed by everyone!  Problem: certain elements in society make it their mission in life to undo any changes to their opinions (see Evolution News & Views description of the problem).  ID advocates cannot fix outright lies before online censors immediately change them back.  As a result, falsehoods endure with no way to correct them.  In essence, the anti-ID censorship just shifted from journal editors to unemployed, self-proclaimed guardians wearing pajamas.  Open access journals may face similar obstructions.

It’s worth a try anyway.  It doesn’t seem like it can be any worse than the status quo.  There’s always book publishing, another tried and true method that gave the world some of the greatest science of all time (e.g., Newton’s Principia).  The free market allows for entrepreneurs to offer a better service than Wikipedia and sap its power, just like Facebook put MySpace out to pasture (now Google’s market dominance needs some competition, but people use it because they like what it provides).  Big Music was horrified at the prospect of music downloads, but online access to music has revolutionized the way we buy entertainment, and most users are happy with all the new options.  It has also brought great new talent to the surface that never would have seen the light of day by powerful corporations.  Traditional journals are for-profit businesses.   They can’t pretend some kind of divine right to do things the old way; they need to go with the flow, to adjust to changing markets.  Protectionism rarely works.

What do you think?  Will open access publishing improve science?  Will it open doors long closed to politically-incorrect views like intelligent design?    How will the public recognize quality science and reject crackpot ideas?  Will new power structures emerge?  Will new problems with censorship outweigh the benefits, making us wish for the good old days?  Can the open marketplace of ideas work in today’s highly-polarized world?  Join the conversation; add your comments.

Exercise:  (1) Describe how you think Climategate might have gone differently (if at all) with open access to data.  (2) Describe new challenges ethicists will face in the open-access world: e.g., top secret military research, dual-use research that could have military applications falling into the hands of terrorists, control of human cloning, etc.  (3) How will evolutionary theory fare if skeptics become free to critique papers that the journals published uncritically?