Vincent Torley has responded. He illustrates the problems they will face and reveals some of the rationalizations that they might use to avoid the most severe symptoms of cognitive dissonance [see Professor Larry Moran poses five questions for the ID movement].
Let's take a look at what has to say. Remember that Vincent Torley doesn't speak for all Intelligent Design Creationists but he does have posting privileges on Uncommon Descent and he is frequently praised by some of the ID leaders who post there. I think we can assume that his views are typical.
Here's his response to each of the five questions.
1. Darwinism: If the Idiots have been misinformed about evolution, which they have, then who is responsible and why were they misled by so many of their leaders?
Torley wants everyone to know that lots of people are misinformed about evolution.2. Social Darwinism: If evolutionary biologists really believe in Neutral Theory and random genetic drift then how can they be supporters of the evil consequences of nineteenth century Darwinism? What about all those posts where evolutionary biologists were compared to eugenicists, racists, and Nazis?
If certain lay Intelligent Design advocates such as myself, have (like most laypeople) been misinformed as to what modern biologists believe about evolution, it certainly isn’t because they were misled by leading figures in the Intelligent Design movement....It's true that the adaptationist view of evolution is widespread and that there's an emphasis on natural selection in the scientific literature.
One significant reason for the widespread confusion among laypeople is the fact that science bloggers write a lot more frequently about natural selection than about genetic drift – a point which was astutely made by commenter John Harshman, ....
The other main reason why laypeople (including myself) have been misled regarding what evolutionary biologists currently believe about evolution, is that a small but vocal minority of biologists continue to espouse the neo-Darwinian view. The following quote by Richard Dawkins is typical of those scientists who fall into this camp: ....
However, the Intelligent Design Creationists make a living out of criticizing evolution so they have a special responsibility. If they are going to spend so much time attacking a theory, it seems only reasonable to expect them to understand it. The leaders of the movement have been informed repeatedly that their views of evolution do not reflect what's in the textbooks. I think they deliberately mislead their followers.
I think they are still doing it.
Vincent Torley responds by moving the goalposts. (He's good at that.)3. Common Descent: This is a biggy. If Sal Cordova and the evolutionary biologists are right about the sequence differences between humans and chimpanzees, then it must mean that humans and chimps share a common ancestor. There will be no room under the big tent for Young Earth Creationists.
The Uncommon Descent posts on Social Darwinism highlighted the enormous harm wrought by three central ideas that were actively promulgated by nineteenth-century evolutionists: first, the denial of the human soul; second, the assertion that our every act (leaving aside random quantum fluctuations which cannot truly be called actions) is determined by circumstances beyond our control, which takes away our freedom of choice; and finally, the progressivist accounts of evolution that were widely propagated not only by Haeckel but also by Darwin himself, as I’ve documented in my post, Rewriting history: Can a Darwinist believe in the scala naturae? (Darwin did.) and Darwin, Kingsley, evolution and racism.This has nothing to do with Social Darwinism and the accusations that IDiots constantly hurl at scientists. The main Intelligent Design Creationist websites are full of posts linking modern evolutionary biologists to the evils of Nazism and eugenics. These accusations presume that all evolutionary biologists are strict "survival-of-the-fittest" believers whose scientific ideas carry over to a desire to transform society.
They are racists, according to most IDiots (who presumably are paragons of virtue). See the comment from kairosfocus under Torley's post.
Now Vincent Torley can't really ignore those accusations even though he tries to distract us by having us believe that the real issue is determinism and free will. So he adds ....
Professor Moran might point out that progressivist models of evolution are badly flawed, and that contemporary biologists unanimously reject racism. But he might do well to ponder Stephen Jay Gould’s dictum that human equality is a contingent fact of history. From a materialist standpoint, this is surely correct: were the Neandertals or Denisovans alive today, I doubt whether most evolutionary biologists would regard them as their moral equals, with the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as we currently enjoy.Clever. He manages to imply that evolutionary biologists are racists without explicitly stating it. He also implies that those who reject science are probably much more moral than scientists.
Is this the tactic they are going to use? It means abandoning the idea that modern evolutionary biologists are strict Darwinists and concentrating on the view that their presumed support of Hitler, eugenics, and racism, actually comes from their dedication to science.
Vincent Torley starts off my telling me something that I didn't know.4. Junk DNA: If Cordova is right then most of the stochastic substitutions in the human genome are neutral. This must mean that most of our genome is junk. Oops! That won’t sit well with many creationists.
Hold on a second, Professor Moran! First of all, lumping Sal Cordova in with “evolutionary biologists” is a bit of a joke, as Sal is a committed young-earth creationist.Oops. I guess we can't count on "leader" Sal Cordova to take you out of the wilderness, can we?
What about the rest of the "leaders"? Will they try to convince their flock that common descent must be accepted in order to be credible?
Not a chance. Torley punts on this one.
For my part, I have made no secret of my belief in the common descent of organisms. But if someone in the Intelligent Design movement thinks they can explain the genetic similarities and differences between humans and chimps without postulating a common ancestor for these two primates, then all I can say is: good luck to them. Why is that? Because in the ultimate scheme of things, I don’t see the question of whether we’re related to chimps as a very important one. Nothing really hangs on it, in terms of the way we live our lives.Translation: The truth and accuracy of real science is irrelevant to the Intelligent Design Creationist movement. You can continue to be a Young Earth Creationist and continue to attack common descent and geology from under the big tent with the blessing of all Intelligent Design Creationists—even the ones who know the YEC's are wrong.
This is a pretty strange way to rationalize the lack of scientific integrity.
In short: the Intelligent Design "big tent" remains standing. In order to see why it’s still standing, Professor Moran just needs to get his philosophical priorities straight.Apparently, philosophical integrity is also an option. Oh well, at least Vincent Torley is openly admitting what we all know; namely, that belief in god(s) is more important in the movement than science. If it doesn't affect the way they lead their lives then it's not important whether the Earth is 6000 years old or 4.5 billion years old.
One wonders why they spend so much time fighting science if it's not important?
Now, after reading the previous paragraphs, you might assume that the issue of junk DNA is unimportant because it doesn't affect how we lead our lives. There's no reason why the people under the big tent should worry about common descent so why in the world would they worry about junk DNA? Right?5. Theistic Evolution: There’s only one group that’s more evil than materialistic scientists and that’s theistic evolutionists. They are traitors. But if the IDiots actually were to accept the fundamental concepts of evolution, as Sal Cordova and Vincent Torley seem to be doing, then where does that leave Theistic Evolution Creationism? This cold be embarrassing when you look at all the posts on Uncommon Descent where theistic evolutionists have been mercilessly attacked.
Wrong! Vincent Torley is very worried about junk DNA.
It appears to me that Professor Moran’s reasoning is faulty on two counts. First, the fact that “most of the stochastic substitutions in the human genome are neutral” doesn’t imply that the sections of the human genome in which they occur serve no function. It simply means that the (mostly neutral) changes taking place in that section of the genome will neither help nor harm the organism. By itself, that tells us nothing about what percentage of the genome is junk.If mutations occur by chance throughout the genome—as they do—then Vincent Torley has a problem. A significant percentage of those mutations will be detrimental (harmful) if they occur in functional regions of the genome. If the vast majority of mutations are not harmful—which they are—then this means that most of our genome doesn't have a function.
This is the genetic load argument in favor of junk DNA. The Intelligent Design Creationists have been ignoring it for 45 years because they don't understand evolution [see Five Things You Should Know if You Want to Participate in the Junk DNA Debate].
Next we have a little lesson on biology from philosopher Vincent Torley who just a few weeks ago learned for the first time about population genetics.
Second, Professor Moran is committing a verbal sleight-of-hand here: he is equating "neutral" with "junk." As Professor Moran himself writes: "The correct definition of ‘junk’ is DNA that has no known function." Note the wording here: "no known function." A neutral mutation, on the other hand, is simply one that does not affect an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce. That doesn’t mean the mutation has no function; it simply means that it has no present function. A neutral mutation that might not affect an organism’s ability to reproduce, but it could still conceivably have an impact (positive or negative) on the fertility of the organism’s distant descendants. Or again, the mutation might (for all we know) incorporate information that is of no use to the particular species of organism in which it occurs, but which eventually turns out to be useful to that species’ evolutionary descendants. Of course, one would want to see some experimental evidence for these scenarios. The reason why I’m mentioning them is simply to show that Professor Moran’s equation of "neutral" with "junk" is conceptually careless.Thanks, Vincent. I'll try and remember that "no known function" is not the same thing as "possible imaginary function that might develop in a million years or so." And I'll try to avoid "conceptually careless" remarks the next time I talk about neutral mutations in functional regions of the genome—as I do quite frequently.
I’d like to preface my remarks by saying that I have no expertise whatsoever in genetics, and my knowledge of junk DNA is very limited. However, I’ve watched Professor PZ Myers’ video on junk DNA, and I’ve also skimmed Professor Moran’s lengthy review of Dr. Jonathan Wells’ book, The Myth of Junk DNA (see here for some more positive reviews and here for a list of news updates on junk DNA, over at Evolution News and Views). Suffice it to say that when a Professor of Medical Genetics writes, “I strongly recommend The Myth of Junk DNA, a lucid account of the evidence that junk DNA has many diverse biological functions,” and when a Professor of Microbial Genetics and Cell Biology adds that “Jonathan Wells has clearly done his homework,” you know the book can’t be as awful as Professor Moran claims it is.The argument here is that the IDiots are right and most of our genome is functional. Torley even mentions the ENCODE results.
On the other hand, Torley seems happy to consider the possibility that half our genome could be junk. I wonder what Jonathan Wells and the other "leaders" are going to say about this ...
In light of the above-mentioned uncertainties, I think a prudent estimate of the percentage of junk DNA in the human genome would be: somewhere around 50%. It could be quite a bit more … or it could be a lot less.What's the problem? Vincent, ask your friends at the Discovery Institute if they have a problem with that. Get back to me when you hear from them.
Junk DNA – how much could the Intelligent Design movement live with?
Suppose that the “50% junk” figure is true. Could the Intelligent Design movement live with that? Personally, I don’t see why not. Let’s try a little thought experiment. Would it bother you if 1% of our genome turned out to be junk? I don’t imagine so. All right. What about 10%? That still leaves 90% that is functional, so I can’t see why it would matter either. Well, what about 50%? Even if 50% of our DNA were junk, you could still say that half of the human genome is there for a reason, and that the remaining half, while non-functional, isn’t harming us. That doesn’t sound so bad to me. What’s the problem?
Vincent Torley responds with ...
The term “Intelligent Design proponent” could be understood in a very broad sense, as including anyone who believes that the cosmos (or at the very least, some feature of it) was designed by an Intelligent Being. On this broad definition (used by Professor Michael Behe below), theistic evolutionists already qualify as Intelligent Design advocates.That makes sense. It means that the terms "creationist" and
"Intelligent Design proponent" are synonyms. I'm glad that Torley admits the connection between "theistic" and "intelligent design."
However there are two major differences separating the ID and theistic evolution camps. As regards science, the critical question that separates Intelligent Design proponents from theistic evolutionists is not whether evolution occurred, nor even whether evolution (if it occurred) was guided by God, but rather, whether the existence of an Intelligent Being guiding evolution is scientifically detectable. Modern-day theistic evolutionists say no; Intelligent Design advocates say yes.That's a reasonable distinction although we could quibble about whether the things Francis Collins advocates are "scientifically detectable." Collins thinks they are.
If that's all that separates theistic evolution from well-informed Intelligent Design Creationists then that's fine by me. It means, of course, that both groups accept the facts of evolution and common descent. Right now, the biggest difference between Theistic Evolution Creationists and Intelligent Design Creationists is that the latter groups spends 99% of its time attacking evolution. Does Torley think that's going to change in the future as more and more Intelligent Design Creationists come to accept evolution and common descent?
Torley concludes with some nonsense from Michael Behe. I suspect that he (Vincent Torley) already regrets posting it.