Thursday, November 28, 2013

Answering ten questions from the IDiots

On this American Thanksgiving Day, David Klinghoffer gives thanks for Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne [Thank Goodness for Richard Dawkins]. He says ...
... we're also grateful for guys like Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne who provide a rich source of unintended comedy. See, for example, our colleague Dr. Michael Egnor's always entertaining mining of Coyne's writings.*

* Admittedly we'd be even more pleased to have a worthy opponent on the Darwin side of the debate who did not run from a fight every time but answered our best arguments and evidence in a lucid, trenchant and informative style.
Well, I gotta tell you, David, that I'll be eternally grateful to the Discovery Institute for sending us Dr. Michael Egnor. It's the gift that just keeps on giving, and giving, and giving ....

Klinghoffer was intrigued by a recent question & answer session that Dawkins conducted on Reddit. This got him (Klinghoffer) thinking. (It doesn't take much.)
This got me thinking. If you did have a chance to pose any brief question to Dawkins or Coyne, what would it be? Send me your thoughts at the link at the top of the page. They might be questions, too, that a subversive student could innocently ask in biology class when evolution comes up.

In the meantime, to get your creative juices flowing while you're digesting what we hope will be a delicious Thanksgiving meal, here are ten good questions from the website for Jonathan Wells's Icons of Evolutions, intended to be directed at unsuspecting biology teachers ("Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution").
I been using Icons of Evolution in my class for seven years. It's a good vehicle for teaching critical thinking because Jonathan Wells uses almost all of the major logical fallacies and show us most of the ways that science and logic can be abused.

So let's try and answer the ten questions. I'll put my answers in bold face.
  1. ORIGIN OF LIFE. Why do textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life's building blocks may have formed on the early Earth -- when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?

    It's a mistake for textbooks to imply that the Miller-Urey experiment reproduced primitive conditions on Earth when life arose. That's why most of them don't do it any more. Most of the top biology textbooks mention other scenarios. Wells was mostly right about this but knowledgeable biologists have known about it for four decades.

  2. DARWIN'S TREE OF LIFE. Why don't textbooks discuss the "Cambrian explosion," in which all major animal groups appear together in the fossil record fully formed instead of branching from a common ancestor -- thus contradicting the evolutionary tree of life?

    Almost all of the major introductory biology textbooks mention the "Cambrian Explosion" and the evolution of animals.
 More advanced textbooks on evolution will discuss the very solid evidence showing that all life, including Cambrian life, has a common ancestor. They will present, or reference, evidence that animals and other eukaryotes are part of a well-established tree of life. Some of them will discuss problems with some aspects of animal evolution, especially the rapid appearance of diverse (and disparate) forms during the Cambrian.

  3. HOMOLOGY. Why do textbooks define homology as similarity due to common ancestry, then claim that it is evidence for common ancestry -- a circular argument masquerading as scientific evidence? 


    The good ones don't do this and they never did. The evidence is similarity. One of the explanation of similarity is descent from a common ancestor, or homology. It's difficult to say whether the IDiots are actually confused about this or whether they are deliberately misleading their flock.

  4. VERTEBRATE EMBRYOS. Why do textbooks use drawings of similarities in vertebrate embryos as evidence for their common ancestry -- even though biologists have known for over a century that vertebrate embryos are not most similar in their early stages, and the drawings are faked?

    Some of the drawings by Haeckel were faked and these have been largely purged from textbooks. Unfortunately it took more time than it should for textbook authors to realize that the drawing were inaccurate. The Haeckel drawings have been replaced by more accurate drawings and photographs that show the similarities among embryos from diverse animal species. The more up-to-date figures provide good solid evidence for evolution from a common ancestor.

  5. ARCHAEOPTERYX. Why do textbooks portray this fossil as the missing link between dinosaurs and modern birds -- even though modern birds are probably not descended from it, and its supposed ancestors do not appear until millions of years after it?

    You would have to look very hard to find a modern textbook that makes such a specific claim. 
It would be a mistake to say that modern birds descend directly from Archaeopterix and that's why modern biology textbook don't do it.

  6. PEPPERED MOTHS. Why do textbooks use pictures of peppered moths camouflaged on tree trunks as evidence for natural selection -- when biologists have known since the 1980s that the moths don't normally rest on tree trunks, and all the pictures have been staged?

    Only an IDiot would fail to realize that the photographs were staged and only an IDiot would continue to believe that moths never rest on tree trunks and large limbs [Peppered Moths and the Confused IDiots] [Revenge of the Peppered Moth]

  7. DARWIN'S FINCHES. Why do textbooks claim that beak changes in Galapagos finches during a severe drought can explain the origin of species by natural selection -- even though the changes were reversed after the drought ended, and no net evolution occurred?

    I'm not aware of a single textbook that makes such a claim about speciation. The published results on beak size in Darwin's finches are used to illustrate natural selection and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that example. Most of the problems that arise 
exist only in the minds of creationists who completely misunderstand the meanings of evolution and natural selection.

  8. MUTANT FRUIT FLIES. Why do textbooks use fruit flies with an extra pair of wings as evidence that DNA mutations can supply raw materials for evolution -- even though the extra wings have no muscles and these disabled mutants cannot survive outside the laboratory?

    No respectable textbook makes such a claim. The homeotic mutations are used as examples of how large phenotypic changes can be due to single mutations that affect development. No respectable scientist ever claimed that flies with the bithorax mutations will be viable in the wild. That's just something that the IDiots made up. In this particular case, all the evidence suggests that Wells must be lying because someone with a Ph.D. in molecular and cellualr biology just can't be that stupid.

  9. HUMAN ORIGINS. Why are artists' drawings of ape-like humans used to justify materialistic claims that we are just animals and our existence is a mere accident -- when fossil experts cannot even agree on who our supposed ancestors were or what they looked like?

    The fact that humans are animals is as well-established as any fact in biology and the evidence relies on a lot more than speculative drawings of our recent ancestors. It's true that most of the history of hominid evolution is controversial but there's overwhelming scientific evidence that we share common ancestors with the other apes. Only an IDiot could overlook this mass of evidence and focus on irrelevant items like artist's drawings and the exact relationship between modern humans and each of the species described in the fossil record.

  10. EVOLUTION A FACT? Why are we told that Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific fact -- even though many of its claims are based on misrepresentations of the facts?

    I don't know of a single textbook that says "Darwin's theory of evolution" is a scientific fact. That would be mixing up "theory" and "facts." Scientists (and textbook authors) aren't stupid. IDiots, on the other hand, are that stupid. Evolution is a fact and natural selection is a fact but evolutionary theory is a scientific theory, not a fact [Evolution Is a Fact and a Theory].
That was easy. Is that the best they can do after almost 25 years of whining about evolution?

David Klinghoffer, do these answers make me a worthy opponent? I sure hope so.

Do you have one on your side?


34 comments :

  1. Funny that Klinghoffer is still using these. But, that's how propaganda works, I guess.

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  2. I would only quibble with one point of your response, which is that in point #4 you concede too much to the creationists. Since the creationists are talking about the embryos demonstrating the pharyngula stage in vertebrates from Haeckel's 1874 Anthropogenie, it's worth noting that the Haeckel biographer and historian Robert J. Richards (PDF file) has put these drawings in a historical context and shown that what strikes us as "inaccuracies" are the result of looking of back at them with substantially improved technology and forgetting that they were redrawn, often based on existing illustrations, for a pop science book and not as part of a scientific argument Haeckel was having with his colleagues.

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  3. ID are not only still energetically pushing Icons of Evolution, but have a 10th anniversary website, student study guide, and home schooling textbook derived from it; see http://wp.me/p21T1L-7O

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  4. Its not a fact human beings are animals if it means we are not made in Gods image and Adam and Eve were created separately.
    Yes we have the same body as animals but so what. Its not evidence for relationship with them by descent etc. its just from a common blueprint for biology by the same principal God used for physics.
    one is mistaken to presume biological descent merely by biological similairity.
    In fact convergent evolutionism is used to reject this idea.
    Anyways its all just lines of reasoning and not based on biological scientific evidence.
    Its just a first blush leading one astray.
    biology ideas need to keep up with physic ideas. Newton was too quick to conclude.
    Biology is more complicated then physics but it is doable.

    By the way the killer question for evolutionists IS Are there any scientific biological evidences to justify evolution in its claim to being a scientific theory as opposed to a hypothesis ?? Name your top three evidences or numero uno.
    This will ruin there thanksgiving.

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  5. I don't know why nobody is bringing this up, but it has to be said.

    What is happening here is that the IDiots are taking the illustrative examples used in high-school textbooks and then trying to debunk them, as if debunking them is going to debunk evolution (both the facts of it and the theory). This is happening because:

    1) Many of them don't know much about evolution beyond what they were forced to learn from the textbooks
    2) Even when 1) is not the case for the people writing these things, it is definitely the case for their target audience

    Of course, it is highly desirable that only factually accurate information is presented in textbooks, but it is a complete logical fallacy to think that by showing inaccuracies in the illustrative examples in textbooks you have debunked all of evolution. It simply does not follow. Those are illustrative examples, not the totality of the evidence on which evolution rests (which is pretty much all of biology, in all the millions of pages of books and journal articles). Textbook authors could completely make up the examples and that would still have no relevance to the question of whether evolution is true or not.

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    1. Very good point. Even if every one of Wells' claims were true, that would only demonstrate that textbooks need to be better written.

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  6. I like how every single one of Well's "questions" begin with a deliberate misrepresentation of what scientists and their textbooks claim, then go on to ask why "this is so when it isn't".

    I wonder if Jonathan Wells ever asks himself why he has to lie to support his fundamentalist doctrine if that doctrine is actually true. Does not compute.

    One great irony here is that, in his accusation that biologists are presenting false information in their books(e.g. lying), Wells is the one who's lying about what the textbooks claim.

    Even more ironic is that Wells is lying on behalf of a religious doctrine that explicitly commands that you shouldn' lie, supposedly handed down directly and unchanged from almighty god himself:
    "Exodus 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour."

    That's just brilliant Wells. Wells the LIAR.

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  7. I feel the need to add to #1 and to #4.
    For #1 it is true enough that introductory textbooks often still shy away from the Miller-Urey experiment b/c of an old criticism that the original experiment had stacked the deck by using only reducing atmosphere gases. However, many modifications have been done over the years that include the kinds of gases that are thought to have been abundant in the secondary atmosphere of earth, and the findings are that the experiments still work. To date, most of the amino acids, nitrogenous bases, and many sugars have been made by using reasonable variations of the M-U experiment. A perusal of Wikipedia provide many citations of these experiments. Further, the extensive system of alkaline vents in the oceans are well known to be a natural example of the kind of environment that should make a variety of important pre-biotic compounds, and has other features (metal catalysts, proton gradients) that look like intriguing precursors to conserved cell metabolism. Finally, we also know that the major pre-biotic compounds are made in space, as shown especially clearly by the Murchison meteorite. Introductory textbooks are very slow to pick up on these findings, but assessment of naturalistic causes of life should never be based on introductory texts.
    For #4, the problematic embryo drawings of Haeckel are just drawings for heavens sakes. I could make a pretty good drawing showing a unicorn, but that does not mean there are unicorns. Vertebrate pharyngula stage embryos share the same variety of organ rudiments, namely branchial arches, notochord, somites, etc. They differ in trivial things like proportion and numbers of somites. Textbooks, including introductory textbooks, are slowly coming back to pointing out this fact.

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    1. There are many biologists who think the entire concept of a primordial soup full of spontaneously synthesized molecules is ridiculous. Thus, the fundamental assumption behind the Miller-Urey exprtiment is wrong. It doesn't matter how you juggle the conditions in a test tube or flask, it will still be impossible to make enough complex orgainc molecules to kick start life in this way.

      I agree with those biologists. I prefer the "Metabolism First" model. This makes the Miller-Urey experiment irrelevant.

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    2. I am not sure why the natural generation of amino acids and sugars and so on is a 'ridiculous' or irrelevant factor in the origin of life. Sure, life itself could never begin without environmental energy being drawn in to sustain contained metabolic pathways. So let 'metabolism first' be the keystone for getting life started. But as far as I am aware none of this would get very far, or become like the life we know, without the standard building blocks. So where would the first building blocks come from if they were not supplied after spontaneous generation?
      I favor scenarios where these things occur in parallel, in metacycles that intersect in various places.

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    3. @Marcoli,

      Do you believe that life began in a soup where the concentration of the standard amino acids was high enough to drive spontaneous formation of peptides? Do you believe that the soup contained high enough concentration of glucose to serve as an energy source for the first life forms? Do you believe that this soup could have had high enough concentrations of nucleotides to drive formation of nucleic acids?

      If the answer is "yes" then where did all these relatively complex molecules come from and where was the primordial soup?

      I favor a scenario where life began with very simple molecules like acetate and methane. The very first amino acids, glycine and alanine, were formed in highly localized environments by oxidation-reductio pathways that were formed in extreme environments around thermal vents. These reactions were CATALYZED on various naturally occuring surfaces.

      As the concentrations of simple organic compounds built up it became possible to form peptides of glycine and alaniine and these peptides sometimes acted as additional catalysts for formation of more complex amino acids and carbohydrates. Eventually the system bootstrapped its way up to complex organic molecules but this always required catalysts that were formed by earlier metabolic reactions (except for the very first reactions).

      (There are much better descriptions in some of my other blog posts and in papers that have been published over the past twenty years or so.)

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  8. "ORIGIN OF LIFE. Why do textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life's building blocks may have formed on the early Earth -- when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?

    It's a mistake for textbooks to imply that the Miller-Urey experiment reproduced primitive conditions on Earth when life arose. That's why most of them don't do it any more. Most of the top biology textbooks mention other scenarios. Wells was mostly right about this but knowledgeable biologists have known about it for four decades."

    What are the other scenarios proposed instead M-U experiment...? Some speculative scenarios and no experiments...? How is that science you take so much pride in....?

    If the origin of life issue can't be scientifically resolved, how can other theories based on this fundamental issue can...? It's pointless...

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    1. Very true, Quest. So I guess we have to throw out every single thing we think we know about biology. We don't know how hearts or lungs or any other organs work. We don't know how reproduction occurs or that DNA exists.We know nothing about biochemistry or how cells function or... etc.

      Because, if we don't know how life began, then we can't know anything at all about living things.

      Or, maybe you're just full of shit as usual. There's always that possibility, as well...

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    2. Latesuite

      "Very true, Quest. So I guess we have to throw out every single thing we think we know about biology."

      That is not what I meant.You have read my arguments about the origins of life on Larry's other post, so you should know where I stand....

      "We don't know how hearts or lungs or any other organs work. We don't know how reproduction occurs or that DNA exists.We know nothing about biochemistry or how cells function or... etc."

      This has nothing to do with the issue we are discussing here...We are talking about progress in biology that nobody is getting credit for unless a clever scientist discovers what random chance has been able to accomplish..... I mean, luck has "created"us ( I have not better worrd to discribe it), why can't human intelligence create a simple form of life....Why? Intelligence does not have to wait for billions of year to do it. Intelligence know the shortcuts....Why can't intelligence make some molecules to assemble in a tube to make a living cell? And this is a billion dollar question... or more...because whoever does it this trick is automatically considered to be a god...
      Because, if we don't know how life began, then we can't know anything at all about living things......

      Or, maybe you're just full of shit as usual. There's always that possibility, as well...

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  9. Some of Larry's answers are inaccurate, but they are inaccurate in ways that make things look less bad for the lying IDiots than they ought to be.

    For example:

    "6. Peppered Moths... Only an IDiot would fail to realize that the photographs were staged"

    Here Jonathan Wells' outright lie was that all the photographs of peppered moths on tree trunks were staged, and his dishonest insinuation was that the dead moths pinned to tree trunks were counted in statistics.

    All false. Michael Majerus' book Melanism published photos of live moths resting on tree trunks, in particular Figure 6.1 (a), p. 118, and plate 3 e and f, page 146. That was1998, five years before Wells' shit book Icons of Evolution was published. This was pointed out years ago at TalkOrigins, and the IDiots keep repeating it. (I found a copy of that book and took photos of the photos, which TO did not reproduce.)

    As for the notion that the moths don't rest on tree trunks, Majerus' book has a data table on p. 123 that lists 82 observations of live moths resting on tree trunks. As TO pointed out years ago, moths rest on tree trunks about 34% of the time. See this pie chart of data.

    Next here's Jonathan Wells having a psychotic mental breakdown when his pathetic lie is exposed.

    Jonathan Wells: "BUT EVERYONE, INCLUDING MAJERUS, HAS KNOWN SINCE THE 1980'S THAT PEPPERED MOTHS DO NOT REST ON TREE TRUNKS IN THE WILD. This means that every time those staged photographs have been re-published since the 1980's constitutes a case of deliberate scientific fraud. Michael Majerus is being dishonest, and textbook-writers are lying to biology students. The behavior of these people is downright scandalous.

    ...the evidence for the moths' true resting-places has been known since the 1980's... people like Majerus and [Ken] Miller continue to deceive the public.

    Fraud is fraud. It's time to tell it like it is."
    [Wells on Calvin listserv, March 31, 1999. Capitalization original; boldface added]

    Wells had a mental breakdown because a real scientist, Michael Majerus, simply said, "I myself have recorded 168 peppered moths on tree trunks or at trunk/branch joins" and real scientific observations drive Jonathan Wells insaner.

    He's right that fraud is fraud, and it's time to tell it like it is: Jonathan Wells, Casey Luskin, and David Klinghoffer are frauds by their own standard. We've pointed out the accurate facts for years and they keep repeating their lies.

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    1. Let’s see more about how anti-evolutionists lie about peppered moths.

      Here's YEC Jonathan Sarfati: "Since this article was published, new evidence shows that all the moth pictures were staged, further undermining this ‘evidence’—see 'Goodbye, peppered moths: A classic evolutionary story comes unstuck.'" [Jonathan Sarfati, "How Did All the Animals Fit on Noah's Ark?", Creation 19(2):16–19, March 1997]

      If you follow Sarfati's link to "Goodbye, Peppered Moths", you find this image from YEC Carl Wieland at creation.com. The caption is: "Fraudulent photos. Dead Moths Glued on Trees!"

      By what definition of "fraud" is the lie of Wells, Luskin, Klinghoffer, Sarfati and Wieland not itself a "fraud"?

      Here's another lying creationist cartoon, from Discover Creation. Creationist student correcting scientist in lecture hall: “… but professor, this is a bogus proof of evolution. The moths were glued to the trees!

      Every time that creationists take over a school board or give testimony at a textbook approval meeting, the IDiot "experts" repeat their long-debunked creationist lie-- a recent example being the Texas State Board of Education "study groups" for approval of science textbooks, the composition of which was biased against real Ph.D.s and enriched in ID and YEC sociopaths including Stephen Meyer. Thus, the creationist reviewers, alleging to correct "errors", in fact were demanding that publishers insert their long-debunked lies be inserted into textbooks:

      [Texas SBOE] Reviewers examining the Pearson/Prentice Hall textbook also refer to "THE DISCREDITED PEPPERED MOTH SCENARIO" and "the replacement of discredited 'Peppered Moth' misrepresentations." [Official Texas Review: "Creation Science" Should Be Incorporated Into Every Biology Textbook. By Josh Harkinson. Mother Jones. Wed Sep. 11, 2013.]

      Lying anti-evolutionists should never be allowed anywhere near any textbook used by any student.

      We must demand that Jonathan Wells, Casey Luskin, David Klinghoffer etc. acknowledge their falsehoods.

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    2. Some of Larry's answers are inaccurate?You kidding? Right?

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  10. As for Haeckel's "faked" embryo pictures, the creationists have been saying for years that Haeckel's inaccurate embryo drawings are used in textbooks to deceive students "down to the present day."

    They're lying. The reason they lie is that they want the suppression of all embryological observations, because it's strong evidence of evolution that anyone can understand. They want to replace accurate embryological figures with their own faked illustrations, which are more deceptive than Haeckel's.

    From a creationist website, I got a list of these alleged modern textbooks containing "faked" drawings of embryos by Haeckel and I looked at every book that I could find in Yale's vast library. In every case, either the embryo drawings were not Haeckel's, or else the drawings were included for historical reasons, and the text explained why Haeckel's drawings were inaccurate. A good example is Futuyma's Evolutionary Biology, 2nd. Ed. (1986) which has a very accurate section on embryology, describing in detail what Haeckel got right and what he got wrong -- a book 27 years old and still accurate today-- yet Futuyma's book is unfairly slandered by idiot anti-evolutionists as deceiving students with fraudulent drawings.

    Moreover, if that's what creationists call "fraud", then they themselves are guilty of fraud for using deceptive illustrations to conceal similarities between diverse clades. One trick anti-evolutionists use is to use photos of embryos with the yolk and other maternal material attached (yolk varies a lot between species), and then the creationists say, "Wow, this looks so different from Haeckel's drawings!" Duh! Of course it looks different-- Haeckel removed the yolk and other maternal material, so the pictorial comparison is deceptive. Here's YEC Jonathan Sarfati using deceptive creationist illustrations. This creationist "embryo photo" trick is debunked by Josh Rosenau here.

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    1. But many creationists just lie outright. For example, the textbook Truth Be Told by Kyle Butt and Eric Lyons, published by Apologetics Press [Churches of Christ] was until recently being secretly given out to students in a Scottish public school by creationist teachers, which, when exposed, led to a scandal. The book presents a drawing of a human embryo as a tiny human (see fake creationist embryo drawing here), and tells the students that embryos are tiny humans at every stage of development like the homunculus in their fake, preformationist drawing.

      As usual, they try to shift the discussion to psychoanalysis of lying scientists. Here is the text accompanying their fake homunculus drawing:

      "However, today we know for certain that humans do not go through any other “animal” stages as they grow. A human embryo starts as a human, ends as a human, and is a human the entire time. Human embryos never have gill slits like fish as some textbooks suggest, and they do not ever go through a “rabbit-like” stage or a “lizard-like” stage...

      Why are textbook writers still using drawings that were faked, altered, and falsified? That is the real mystery. The next time you see these fake drawings, remember that Ernst Haeckel lied to us about evolution."
      [Truth Be Told, by Kyle Butt and Eric Lyons, Apologetics Press [Churches of Christ], p. 137]

      Let us turn their question back on themselves: why are creationist textbook writers still using drawings that were "faked, altered, and falsified"? (Thanks to Paul Braterman for reviewing Truth Be Told.)

      Let's compare creationists standards of drawing "integrity" against their own drawings. Creationists accuse Haeckel of fakery because in an image of embryos at very early stages, he apparently re-used the same image. Guess what, ID proponent Cornelius Hunter did the very same thing to disprove evolution.

      Cornelius Hunter wanted to claim that convergent evolution destroys nested hierarchies, making phylogenetic inference impossible. So he wants to invoke the "thylacine (aka marsupial wolf, aka marsupial lion) is identical to a placental wolf" argument. To show a thylacine he downloads a drawing of a thylacine, and to show a placental wolf, he makes a right-left mirror image of the same thylacine drawing and labels it "wolf". Evolution disproved!

      Creationists pretend to be honest Christians outraged when drawings are "faked, altered, and falsified!" If it outrages them so, why do they do it themselves?

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  11. Larry wrote:

    "Almost all of the major introductory biology textbooks mention the "Cambrian Explosion" and the evolution of animals.
 More advanced textbooks on evolution will discuss the very solid evidence showing that all life, including Cambrian life, has a common ancestor. They will present, or reference, evidence that animals and other eukaryotes are part of a well-established tree of life. Some of them will discuss problems with some aspects of animal evolution, especially the rapid appearance of diverse (and disparate) forms during the Cambrian."

    I'm more concerned with:

    "More advanced textbooks on evolution will discuss the very solid evidence showing that all life, including Cambrian life, has a common ancestor. They will present, or reference, evidence that animals and other eukaryotes are part of a well-established tree of life. Some of them will discuss problems with some aspects of animal evolution, especially the rapid appearance of diverse (and disparate) forms during the Cambrian.

    Larry, What tree are you talking about?
    Are you the new god of Neo-Darwinism? You see Coyne after buying his new cowboys boots declared himself a god....

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    1. If you want to discuss textbooks it might be a good idea to read one of them. Buy one of the textbooks on evolution and read what it says about animal evolution and the overwhelming evidence that supports a common ancestor.

      I'll be happy to explain the meaning of any words that confuse you.

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    2. Larry,

      I have asked you a question about what tree you were talking about and you are being sarcastic. Why? It is a legitimate question since you wrote:

      "As most of you already know, I think the Three Domain Hypothesis is dead. The history of life is better explained as a net with rampant transfer of genes between species [The Web of Life]. This idea has been widely promoted by Ford Doolittle.

      The debate over the tree of life has implications concerning the distinction between "prokaryote" and "eukaryote." I was checking some recent papers and came across one by Doolittle and Zhaxybayeva (2013) that seems particularly relevant. They discuss the evidence for and against the division of life into three domains and the attempt by Norm Pace to band the word "prokaryote."

      http://sandwalk.blogspot.ca/2013/07/what-should-we-teach-about-tree-of-life.html

      That is why I asked what tree of life you were talking about? Is it a new theory of common ancestor or an old one came back to life?

      BTW: I have read one of your textbooks. Is that why I'm so confused according to you?

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    3. Re Lawrence Moran

      Folks like Quest have no interest in reading biology textbooks; their minds are made up, the facts will only confuse them.

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  12. Quest said: "If the origin of life issue can't be scientifically resolved, how can other theories based on this fundamental issue can...? It's pointless..."

    How often does it have to be repeated that the ToE is not "based on this fundamental issue".
    The ToE starts with the fact that evidence of life dating back to the very early 'days' of the Earth - in the vicinity of 4 billion years ago, has been found. It doesn't matter who or what caused the exixtence of the first life any more that it matters who or what caused the existence of the Solar system and planet Earth. We know the planet is here, and we know when the first life was here, all that remains is for some people to open their eyes. When will you acknowledge those two obvious facts?

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  13. klinghoffer barfed up this pile of arrogant dishonesty:

    "Admittedly we'd be even more pleased to have a worthy opponent on the Darwin side of the debate who did not run from a fight every time but answered our best arguments and evidence in a lucid, trenchant and informative style."

    Yeah, david, you IDiots are so courageous and eager to debate your opponents and that's why you don't allow comments at ENV and YOU never step out of your sanctuary there. Why don't you IDiots show everyone that you're ready, eager, and able to face your opponents by opening and allowing all comments at ENV and by facing your opponents on other sites such as this one? Come on, david, bring it on and don't run away and hide.

    klinghoffer also slobbered:

    "They might be questions, too, that a subversive student could innocently ask in biology class when evolution comes up.

    In the meantime, to get your creative juices flowing while you're digesting what we hope will be a delicious Thanksgiving meal, here are ten good questions from the website for Jonathan Wells's Icons of Evolutions, intended to be directed at unsuspecting biology teachers ("Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution")."

    Hmm, so a "subversive student" would be acting "innocently", eh, when they deliberately disrupt biology classes with religiously motivated, IDiotic questions that are "directed at unsuspecting biology teachers" when evolution comes up? Promoting something as sneaky and subversive as that is mighty christian of you, david.

    Tell me, dipstick klinghoffer, why would any bible thumping IDiot take a biology class in the first place, especially if their intention is to be a disruptive pain in the ass? Would it be okay with you if I and other atheists go to churches and when creation and other religious gobbledegook comes up we disrupt the sermon and ask subversive questions? I'm sure that the pastor and church goers would like that as much as the teacher and other students would when an IDiot deliberately acts like a disruptive jerk in a biology class.

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    1. As has been pointed out countless times, arguing with creationists is a completely futile exercise. Just like you cannot have a perpetual motion machine, you can never debunk all the falsehoods, misrepresenations and misunderstandings they are capable of coming up with - it takes order of magnitude more time and effort to do that than it takes them to spew those out, thus you will always lose. And not just that, but most of the time they will flat out refuse to read/listen to you debunking them.

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    2. @Georgi Marinov

      What you say is correct. It's one of the reasons why Quest is still here. He's the perfect example of an IDiot.

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    3. Of course.... What can you offer? The best you can do is to propose another unfounded theory...metabolism first or RNA first....or meteorite first...but you can't prove any of that...So, how can you argue with someone like me? Ruski says its futile and Larry calls me and idiot. That's must be very "scientific" approach? I mean, knowing Larry and proud scientists like you, if you had some scientific evidence, you would make sure I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner....Unfortunately, you have nothing....nada, niet, nothing... so what you have left is the above... Isn't it sad that people who consider themselves to be scientist and who claim to rely on empirical evidence have to lower themselves to this level and pretend everything is fine? How in the world is this possible? I guess it is...

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    4. 1. I wasn't going to respond anymore, but I get really mad when someone thinks I'm from Russia (because of course, if you have a Slavic-sounding names you must be from there, why should we care about the differences that exist in naming patterns).

      2. No theory that scientists can give you is ever going to be satisfactory to you because you will always reply "But you weren't there to directly observe it, therefore it's an unfounded theory". There is no answer to this because it goes to the very core of the epistemology of science. Which can not give you absolute certainty about anything, therefore if you demand absolute certainty, it is no surprise nobody can provide it.

      3. Which naturally leads to the logical question why you are not applying the same epistemological standards to you own beliefs... If you answer us honestly what is left of them if you do apply the same standards, we may have a conversation.

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    5. Georig Marinow wrote:

      "1. I wasn't going to respond anymore, but I get really mad when someone thinks I'm from Russia (because of course, if you have a Slavic-sounding names you must be from there, why should we care about the differences that exist in naming patterns). "

      Are you Bulgarian? If yes, how is that going to change anything?
      I have an apparently Ukrainian last name but I'm 75% German. By whose standards? I don't know...

      2. No theory that scientists can give you is ever going to be satisfactory to you because you will always reply "But you weren't there to directly observe it, therefore it's an unfounded theory". There is no answer to this because it goes to the very core of the epistemology of science. Which can not give you absolute certainty about anything, therefore if you demand absolute certainty, it is no surprise nobody can provide it.

      A theory will always remain a theory unless the theory is either replaced by another, maybe even contradictory to the previous one, or by an undeniable fact. Marinov could be a Bulgarian name but your ethnicity remains to be a unfounded theory unless someone can "... give you absolute certainty about anything, therefore if you demand absolute certainty, it is no surprise nobody can provide it. These are your own words....

      3. Which naturally leads to the logical question why you are not applying the same epistemological standards to you own beliefs... If you answer us honestly what is left of them if you do apply the same standards, we may have a conversation.

      How would you like me to apply the above to my own beliefs? Are you implying that you are willing to sacrifice the empirical scientific evidence in order to challenge faith? You can't be suggesting that scientific theory and faith are the same, do you?

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    6. Re Quest

      I believe that Georgi Marinov is, in fact, a Bulgarian, if this is his web site.

      http://goo.gl/m60mw3

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    7. There are pictures both on that website and here. They are very different

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    8. There are pictures both on that website and here. They are very different

      OMG! How did you do that? Makeup?

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  14. Re Georgi Marinov

    I apologize for linking to the wrong Marinov.

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