Monday, August 27, 2012

"The Science Guy" Reveals His Ignorance

Alice C. Linsley

In this clip posted online on Thursday, Bill Nye bashes creationists and those who doubt the claims of Darwinian evolutionists. He lumps all creationists together and is apparently unaware that Old Earth Creationists accept evident aspects of Darwin, such as adaptation and mutation. We part ways, however, when it comes to Darwin's theory that humans and apes share a common ancestor. Why should we believe this when the material evidence does not support the theory?  Instead the evidence indicates that Lucy and her community were fully human.

Nye says that a creationist worldview would have to be "fantastically complicated," again referring to Young Earth Creationists whose beliefs cannot be substantiated by the sciences. He believes (and I hope he is right) that "in another couple of centuries that world view, I'm sure, will be, it just won't exist. There's no evidence for it."

Nye takes issue with Creationists who believe the Earth is between 6000 and 10,000 year old. He points to the great age of fossils and stars as proof that their view is not tenable. He said,
"Here are these ancient dinosaur bones or fossils, here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like our star but they're at a different point in their lifecycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent."
I agree. That is why I have exposed the false assumptions of Young Earth Creationists.  I have also exposed the false assumptions of Darwinians. Good science must operate with skepticism about all assumptions.
Nye encourages parents to teach evolution to the next generation, but he never clarifies what he means by that. Is he asking that they teach theistic evolution, allowing for God and the supernatural? Or is he recommending the materialist view of evolution as a mechanism not requiring a Creator?
Theistic evolution has strong advocacy, especially among Thomistic Roman Catholics and the BioLogos Evangelicals. I disagree with the Thomistic view because Aristotle's teleology does not allow for randomness. (He was an Essentialist, though of a different sort than Plato.)  I disagree with the BioLogos crowd because they have largely failed to consider the evidence of anthropology. Most evolutionists are fairly ignorant about culture, oral tradition, symbolic acts, and kinship.
The materialist view has advocacy among popular atheists like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Victor J. Stenger. Their challenge is to convince the many scientists who believe in the existence of God and who recognize order in the universe. The randomness that the Materialists posit is not supported by the material evidence.  Randomness mitigates against their claims of validity. Science would be out of business were it not for the fact that we can depend on the constancy of the laws of physics and genetics.

There is also the problem of reconciling the evidence of migration, climate and DNA studies with the picture painted by those who so easily dismiss religious texts as significant sources of data. Consider, for example, the alignment of the Kushite expansion out of Africa with DNA studies. There is no conflict between the Historical Timeline of Genesis and findings in the Sciences.


Anonymous said...

Materialist evolution explicitly posits *non-random* evolution. For a very good summation of how *non-random* evolution occurs, see Dawkins "The Blind Watchmaker". If you aren't familiar with the bare basics of evolutionary theory, perhaps blessed silence is in order.

Jerry said...

Dear Anonymous,
"A very good summation" is bit different from very good evidence, isn't it?

Alice Linsley said...


In the preface to his book The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins explains that he intends to demonstrate “not just that the Darwinian world-view happens to be true, but that it is the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence."

He fails to accomplish this in that book, and he fails to accomplish this in The God Delusion and in The Greatest Show on Earth. It is not so much in what he says as in what he fails to say. For example, he ignores the evidence of molecular genealogy. Consider Luigi Cavalli-Sforza’s genetic studies. The Ainu are at the center of his genetic distance chart. This is to be expected as the Ainu were among Abraham’s ancestors who moved out of Africa.

Dawkins also ignores the evidence that natural selection is not a fixed law of genetics. There are anomalies within species who are not fit for survival but have survived nonetheless. The truth is that animals are not always perfectly adapted to their environment. It is true that all species have the potential of adaptation, but the adaptations cannot be considered perfect in any objective way. Consider the examples of the red squirrel in the UK and the panda’s thumb.
UK's red squirrel appeared perfectly adapted to its environment until the grey squirrel arrived. The grey squirrel is better adapted to broadleaf forests due to its ability to digest acorns.
Natural selection's only criterion is that something works, not that it works perfectly according to the human imagination. The panda's thumb is actually a poor adaptation for grasping bamboo, as Stephen Gould observed in 1978. He wrote, "The panda's true thumb is committed to another role. So the panda must... settle for an enlarged wrist bone and a somewhat clumsy, but quite workable, solution."

Ron said...

Alice, please explain the difference between the randomness that you affirm contra the Thomists and the randomness that you reject contra the Materialists.

Alice Linsley said...

Many Roman Catholics (and some Evangelical biologists) accept the bulk of Darwinian evolution: adaptation, mutation, natural selection, and common ancestry. They argue based on Aquinas that Aristotle allows for randomness in the natural order. However, his teleology and his eudaimonism are based upon his belief that every entity has an end purpose or destiny. It may not be achieved but it is not random. Take the example of the acorn. Its end purpose is to become a great oak tree. That is its potentiality, but not every acorn will have the ideal conditions required to grow into a tree. Some will be eaten. Others will wash downstream. Such events do not change the end purpose of the entity.

Materialists have noted that natural selection is not a fixed law of nature because there are too many exceptions. The exceptions are to numerous to be considered anomalies. The exceptions suggest that there is more randomness to evolution than Materialists might want to accept. It is a problem in logic, really. The most fitted to its environment survives to reproduce its special adaptive traits - is this a law of nature? Either it is a law of nature or it isn't.