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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea

Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea is a wonderful book by Carl Zimmer. The cover shows a bunch of different eyes ans it's meant to convey the idea that all these eyes have evolved from a common ancestor with primitive eyes.

Bill Dembski doesn't like this idea. He doesn't like the idea of evolution either. Here's a video where Dembski displays his ignorance about evolution in general and molecular evolution in particular. The title of his talk is "Molecular Machines and the Death of Darwinism."

I sometimes wonder just how intelligent Dembski is. Does he really think that the eye is our best example of the evolution of molecular machines. Does he think that the bacterial flagellum is the only other molecular machine? Apparently he does because he doesn't mention replisomes, photosynthesis complexes, blood clotting cascades, the citric acid cycle, or any of the other molecular machines and complex systems where we have a good handle on how they evolved.

But Dembski goes even further than complex machines. He has the inside track on some research that will bring down the Darwinian idol. It's at the level of individual proteins where we're finally going to see proof of the existence of God. I can hardly wait.


Anonymous said...

I am not a biologist, nor do I play one on my blog; but if I had seen this only 7 years ago I might have been fooled by this presentation. From reading what you write here on Sandwalk, and before that on (as well as through all of the other studying I have been doing along with that) I know that Dembski is lying through his teeth here; especially when he claims that "Darwinists" are satisfied with demonstrating a few pathways of natural development of the proteins needed for irreducibly complex systems to justify their denial of design.

I find it telling that he is propagandistically claiming that "darwinists" carry the burden of proof to demonstrate that natural forces can shape the complex mechanisms of life. He is a clever one, this Mr. Dembski, because as science has chipped away at the necessity for a watchmaker, they have found less and less reason to hope that a Designer's signature will ever be found.

He hides the fact that 19th century science's goals were to demonstrate the evidence of the watchmaker, and as the early biologists, paleontologists and geologists refined their methods and made more and more detailed discoveries they found themselves dismayed at the prospect that the creator would ever factually be demonstrated.

Those that refuse to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it. If this "new research" to which Dembski is privilege is ever published, you can bet that the Designers will either be fools to tout it or disquieted by what it actually reveals.

Any day now, Bill, any day now. Right?

Anonymous said...

This video just puts into clear focus the fact that Dembski really is no scientist. He doesn't have a clue about how the scientific method works.

Dembski is a good example of what can happen to you when you are overwhelmed by religious dogma to the exclusion of reason.

Poor devil can't even hold down a respectable job, and he's gonna participate in the overthowing of modern science? R i g h t.

John Farrell said...

Mike, you're absolutely right. It's so depressing to look at the audience in that opening shot and think about how many people are not only being suckered into a lie about science, but by Dembski's very example, learning to foster bad faith about science today.

It makes me sick.

Christopher Taylor said...

Darwinists are hiding behind the complexity

I call a major irony moment.

Nick Sullivan said...

Must force myself to watch...

The major problem with these presentations is that anyone watching them who is semi-ignorant about biology and how science works are going to probably swallow it.

It's just a 5 minute argument from Dembski and Behe's wholly flawed apparent scientific authority.

Dembski really has no grasp of philosophy of science does he? That and in the 1st minute he makes 2 logical fallacies, one argument from complexity and faulty assigning of the burden of proof.

Heh, "we're a minority!" 1st time I've actually seen that in use as an argument. So that's one persecution complex. Also the language he's using frames this further. Mind you Bill's a poor rhetorician anyhow.

And he doesn't even know how Darwin actually hypothesised about the evolution of the eye. It was only later that this was tested by observations and found to be mostly right.

Next complaint, saying it "evolved" is not the end of story for any one involved in research. We want to know how it evolved, what it evolved from and what drove that evolution, etc. What he says there is a strawman, as the "answer" ID provides is a true question blocker for the above, and ends up going straight in theological "hypothesis", or sidestepping the questions about the creator involved.

And I'm not going to even start on the "eye is so complex, layers and layers of complexity...". It's just empty rhetoric really.

Ugh, he really doesn't understand how science works, and he's probably wilfully ignorant of the actual research done into protein evolution. This isn't just bad, it's a stunning example of intellectual dishonesty on Dembski's part. The claim we hide behind the "complexity" of the bacterial flagellum being the main example. Either he's never looked at the research, or like most creationists (and I do view him as that) he's purposely, dogmatically ignoring it. Which is supported by ERV's series on that talk he recently gave.

Anonymous said...

What does he keep calling it a "Darwinian idol" for? By the way I noticed they have comments and video responses disabled for the youtube video, lol.

Torbjörn Larsson said...

So the new gap is sized on the order of a molecule? That is some small gods Dembski is devoted to.

Is it really so hard to understand that it is observations and theory that decides the type of evidence we demand, and not your proposed alternative? I don't think so, which makes me believe that even if Dembski is appallingly ignorant on the subjects he is supposed to work with, it is a willful public shell game he plays.

If leading creationists are lying ignorant scumbags with degenerate ideas instead of just ignorant they must be more intellectually incompetent than most of the later group. Not exactly the image you would want to project.

Anonymous said...

By the way I noticed they have comments and video responses disabled for the youtube video, lol.

They're probably too busy with the access research what with all the researching of access and all, lol. :P

Anonymous said...

That is some small gods Dembski is devoted to.

Yes, which makes it all the more ironic that he would keep saying "Darwinian idol" all the time, lol. Gods are big, idols are small, OMG, lol. :P

Anonymous said...

A sampling of some of the most recent of the AccessResearch's youtube videos:

Sample clip "DaVinci Code: Fact or Fiction?" VER155

Sample clip "C.S. Lewis: My Life's Journey" VER42

Sample clip "Right Wrong Key to Meaning of Universe" VER81

Sample clip "Near Death Experiences" VER71


Harriet said...

On a different track, I love Zimmer's book! I'd recommend it as an introduction to evolution for the non-specialist (such as myself), at least in terms of being readable and explaining elementary concepts.

Larry Moran said...

There's a reason why Dembski refers to "Darwinian idol." We talked about it in my class on scientific controversies.

The goal of the Intelligent Design Creationists is not to promote God but to discredit evolution. Jonathan Wells published a book called "Icons of Evolution" in which he claimed that the ten main evidences for evolution are wrong.

Wells says that scientists believe in evolution because they have faith in materialism and not because of scientific evidence. This is something that Dembski believes as well. That's why they refer to the main lines of evidence for evolution as "idols." It's something we worship and not something that can stand up to close scrutiny.

Throw in liberal doses of "Darwinism" and you've successfully conveyed the notion of a group that's fixated on the words of a man who lived 150 years ago. Isn't this beginning to sound like a cult?

This is a clever rhetorical device and it resonates with the believers. They all know exactly what Dembski means when he says "Darwinian idols." He's referring the the false Gods of the scientific community.

Our side doesn't have such devices. Whenever we try to link the Intelligent Design Creationists with silly superstitions there are groups of people on our side who object. They say that we need to be more respectful of religious beliefs. It's not proper, according to them, to make fun of someone just because they believe in God or the Bible.

The result is that we fight this battle with two hands tied behind our back.

Anonymous said...

Random notes:

The title flashes on the screen, "Molecular Machines and the Death of Darwinism," meanwhile the background image is of nebulae and galaxies. WTF?


"It's the Darwinists who hold the positions of power, influence, and prestige in the academic setting

Note that as he says this, Dembski pauses to swallow some bile.


Dembski muffed the title of Zimmer's book. It is not "The Triumph of Evolution" but "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea." It is available in hardcover and paperback. It's darn good. I bought copies for my nieces and nephews.

Anonymous said...

Well ...

at least I now know how to pronounce "Behe" - at this rate I'll never internalise English (US?) phonetics ...

lee_merrill said...

> [Dembski] doesn't mention replisomes, photosynthesis complexes, blood clotting cascades, the citric acid cycle, or any of the other molecular machines and complex systems where we have a good handle on how they evolved.

But you should mention your counterexample, for one good counterexample overturns a general claim.

And blood clotting cascades, I think Behe wins this one, Miller upset me when I believed his depiction of clotting, and that Behe was refuted in his entire argument, until (thinking it's at least of historical interest) I read Behe's book, and realized I had been had--blood clotting does not resemble a simply Y diagram, nor has Doolittle addressed the complexity involved in getting a new factor with gene shuffling, nor is the complexity of inserting a new feedback loop addressed--this in fact being Dembski's point.

Anonymous said...

"Apparently he does because he doesn't mention replisomes, photosynthesis complexes, blood clotting cascades, the citric acid cycle, or any of the other molecular machines and complex systems where we have a good handle on how they evolved."

Regarding blood clotting cascades, Behe goes into great detail on how Doolittle seems to "knowlittle" regrading the evolution in an area that presumably he is a "world expert" on. You can go to the listed site below, which I found on a site entitled Evolution Audio Video, and listen to a lecture he gave a couple of years ago. In it he describes Doolittle's blundered critique of the concept of irreducible complexity in the blood clotting cascade, and leads Behe to the conclusion that this foremost expert doesn't know how the cascade evolved and is incapable of showing any kind of convincing evidence via years of research that would lead anyone to believe anybody has a "good handle" on it.
Check it out at:

Or go to the other mentioned website and find it under Michael Behe.

So If Larry Moron implies that the blood cotting cascade is one of several molecular machines and complex systems whose evolution is adequately demonstrated with actual results and understood, I am a little suspect (although I don't know) that perhaps he hasn't bothered to adequately study the research papers of any of them. Or maybe not in any kind of critical fashion. So maybe it is the old deal of "well, somebody in the field must have proved it, that's what I have been told, therefore it must be true". Just the kind of thing that non-creationists along with creationists (who modern evolutionists love to label any one who sees the problems, just load em all onto the Titanic and shove it off)are tired of. Assertions and conclusions which have not been ADEQUATELY supported by the research, but "gosh darn it, I can imagine that it might be compatible with my beloved dogma. We've been able to sell it so far. Screw the inconvenient details. Everybody knows we are the experts. And besides there are no other foxes in the chicken house but us."