The great duel: Ken ham versus Bill Nye

The great duel: Ken ham versus Bill Nye

I think that few debates have been awaited with more passion and indignation than the duel between the pope of Creationism (and some would say of irrationality too) and the “humanist guy”.

Since the event is widely known and has been reviewed by an almost infinite number of bloggers, I will just offer my own thoughts on points I found interesting in a chronological fashion.

Ken Ham began by pointing out there are great scientists who believe that creationism is the best explanation of nature, and complained about science being “highjacked by secularists”.

The united states, creationism and economical collapse

Later on Bill Nye warned that the spreading of creationist ideas would lead to a considerable deterioration of the scientific performances of America with stark repercussions on the economy.

I respectfully think he is wrong here.

People typically develop incredible abilities to compartmentalize their intellectual life, as the examples of brilliant creationists Ham mentioned clearly show. These folks have managed to be extremely rigorous in their professional works while being incredibly sloppy while trying to fit reality to their fundamentalist convictions.

As a side note, I don’t believe that wild capitalism is such a great promoter of science as Nye seems to believe.
It goes hand in hand with a huge decrease of the number of researcher positions (such as in Germany where lecturer positions Mittelbau have been completely suppressed).
As a consequence, there is a very strong competition between young scientists which often leads to dishonesty and sloppiness for maximizing one’s number of publications, which is nowadays almost the only criterion for getting hired in the Academia.

Experimental and historical science, evidence and probabilities

Ken Ham said that there is a strong difference between experimental and historical science, the latter one failing to generate knowledge. Bill Nye responded by stating that such a distinction is utterly nonsensical.

I think that reality might be more complex than those two binaries opinion.

Henri Gee, chief editor of nature, wrote a book entitled “In search of deep time” where he argued that knowledge about the far past is extremely hard to generate.

In Search of Deep Time: Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life

I take the view that while historical science use the same methodology as experimental science for assessing evidence, the number of data is much more limited as you go back through the mist of history.

I also believe that, unlike most scientific theories or propositions, historical events (including those about the evolution of the universe, earth and life) have an objective physical probability which could (in principle) be computed (WARNING: the two linked posts are quite geeky :-) )

Statistics and the unlikelihood of events

Creationists are well known to use (misguided) statistical arguments against Darwinism, stating that many evolutionary events are too unlikely to have occurred.

Bill Nye turned that upside down and conclusively argued that a worldwide flood six thousands years ago has an astronomically low probability to have produced numerous well ordered geological features of the world.

This includes:

- the huge number of fossils and limestone

-  the bio-geography of current wildlife (for instance, the absence of Kangaroos or remains thereof outside of Australia)

- the great number of living species: 16 000 000

- independent dating methods converging to the same values

Such ordered features could not have been brought about by a chaotic global flood.

The worldwide flood and the oldest tree of the planet

Nye also mentioned evidence directly contradicting Young Earth Creationism, such as the oldest tree of the world in Sweden being 9,550 years old.

Darwinism, Jesus, abortion and the afterlife

The most egregious crime of Ken Ham was his insistence that consistent Christians have to believe in a young earth, and that accepting evolution goes hand in hand with losing any hope of an afterlife and supporting abortion.

While one can find the same kind of assertions in the writings of militant atheists (Dawkins, Coyne et al.) this is completely rubbish.

I find abortion bad (expect for protecting the physical or mental health of the mother) and I passionately hope in the resurrection of all dead persons, following that of Christ. Many Roman Catholics accepting and celebrating evolution have pretty much the same convictions.

I find it wonderful that (as a humanist) Bill Nye pointed out that many Christians all over the world have no problem whatsoever to reconcile their faith with mainstream scientific views of our origins.

I also think Bill truly ought to be applauded for his kind, joyful and respectful tone during the entire debate.

Culture war and debating irrationality

I am really not sure I would have been capable of as much civility if I had been the one debating Ham.

To conclude, I believe that Bill undoubtedly won the debate at an intellectual level, and that all honest knowledgeable people cannot fail to realize this was a disastrous debacle for Ham.

I fear, however, that Ham’s rhetorical skills were enough for keeping non-scientific minds in his camp.

 

Homepage of Lotharlorraine: link here
(List of topics and posts)

My other controversial blog: Shards of Magonia (link here)

 

Hauptseite von Lotharlorraine: Link hier
(Liste von Themen und Posten).

Mein anderer umstrittener Blog: Scherben von Magonia.

 

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83 responses to “The great duel: Ken ham versus Bill Nye”

  1. Crude says :

    Later on Bill Nye warned that the spreading of creationist ideas would lead to a considerable deterioration of the scientific performances of America with stark repercussions on the economy.

    The problem is, this is demonstrably, historically false. America has had a tremendous number of creationists throughout the 20th century – when we were prospering most. The number is still almost half the country.

    Where is the evidence this would either deteriorate scientific performances or lead to economic repercussions? This is a point I think Nye clearly lost on – all Ham had to do was show the creationist scientists and PhDs.

    You already noted this, though.

    • lotharson says :

      Yes, I think that it is a flawed argument used times and times again by defenders of evolution.

      This truly does not do them any good.

      Truth should be defended for truth’s sake and not for the sake of the economy, as I explained.

    • ken says :

      I believe your missing Nye’s point about how teaching creationism would erode science. these creationist scientists were still trained in the scientific method and were taught proper scientific techniques.

      Creationism is not science. Creationism says that any “science” that contradicts a book is wrong. For example, carbon dating is used to determine that object on earth are > 5000 years old, so creationist claim carbon dating is “wrong.” Not based on scientific evidence to the contrary, but because their book tells them otherwise. That is not science.

      further, if you recall in the debate, when ask about the origin of the universe, Nye said “I don’t know” but he hoped that scientific inquiry would be able to find out. Ham said basically, my book tells me, no need to look any further.

      Nye’s argument is basically, that if you teach children that creationism is science, you will severely inhibit their ability to question and advance knowledge.

      • Mike Gantt says :

        If people like Nye are so open to new ideas and aren’t bound to doing things by a book, why are they so hostile to what the intelligent design folks are saying?

      • Andy Schueler says :

        If people like Nye are so open to new ideas and aren’t bound to doing things by a book, why are they so hostile to what the intelligent design folks are saying?

        Because Intelligent Design does not contain any new ideas, it´s a rehash of arguments that have been debunked decades and in some cases over a century before Cdesign proponentsists tried to sell them under a new name.

      • ken says :

        Mike Gantt says : February 10, 2014 at 3:48 pm

        ” why are they so hostile to what the intelligent design folks are saying?”

        I wouldn’t decribe Nye as “hostile”. further, the problem is that creationism/intelligent design isn’t science. And I suspect that the “hostility” is more irritation/anger at people who try to claim it is.

      • ken says :

        Mike Gantt says : February 10, 2014 at 7:41 pm

        “That’s just a face-saving way of rejecting a new idea.”

        Not sure who your comment was directed at, but what “new idea” is being rejected? And does this “new idea” have any evidence to support its validity?

        • Mike Gantt says :

          The point was Bill Nye’s contention that scientists are willing to change their minds based on new facts and ideas. I responded that intelligent design was a new idea (which ironically enough prop up evolution by addressing its weak points) which scientists routinely reject. The response was given that it was a religious, not a scientific, idea. Of course, that’s just a face-saving way of protecting current orthodoxy. It’s a way of being closed-minded while making the other fellow look closed-minded.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        The point was Bill Nye’s contention that scientists are willing to change their minds based on new facts and ideas. I responded that intelligent design was a new idea

        I can´t find anything in ID that is not a rehash of long debunked creationist nonsense. Behe´s “irreducible complexity” is not new, Darwin already considered the idea and it was raised by one of his earliest critics. Applying the concept to molecular machines instead of tissues and organs is also not new. It´s not even new that creationists try to use that as an argument against evolution – Behe stole his schtick almost verbatim from arguments that the Institute for Creation Research used in the seventies. ICR guys like Dick Bliss even used the exact same examples, flagellum, eye and blood clotting cascade, as Behe used.
        Dembski´s specified complexity is also not new – he took ideas from A.E. Wilder-Smith and made them even more nonsensical.
        Please explain what, in your opinion, is “new” about Intelligent Design.

        (which ironically enough prop up evolution by addressing its weak points) which scientists routinely reject.

        Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

        • Mike Gantt says :

          I don’t know enough science to compare and contrast intelligent design with previous theories considered by the scientific academic community, but I do know that when it’s rejected out of hand because “it’s religious” that it’s being rejected for religious, not scientific, reasons.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        It has not been rejected out of hand. It is being debunked again and again and again and again ad nauseam. Not that it was ever necessary to debunk it in the first place since it never was anything more than old wine in new bottles to begin with.

        • Mike Gantt says :

          My very limited knowledge of it is that it relies heavily on information technology frameworks (which I do know something about) as well as what’s been learned about DNA, genetics, and the human genome in the last generation.

          Moreover, it seeks to prop up evolution – a theory of origins about which I’m not convinced, so I have no particular interest in pushing ID.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        My very limited knowledge of it is that it relies heavily on information technology frameworks (which I do know something about) as well as what’s been learned about DNA, genetics, and the human genome in the last generation.

        Then you have been badly misinformed. ID proponents claim to rely on information theory, but this claim has nothing whatsoever to do with reality – mathematicians who work in the field of information theory either don´t care about ID in general or “specified complexity” at all (the vast majority) or explicitly reject it as nonsensical. They also claim to rely on the results of fields like molecular biology and comparative genomics, which also has nothing to do with reality – all they do is misrepresent these results to the public which all the people who did the actual research to produce these results and bothered to address ID claims confirmed.

        Moreover, it seeks to prop up evolution – a theory of origins about which I’m not convinced, so I have no particular interest in pushing ID.

        Again, you have been misinformed. The ID strategy is a “big tent” strategy – ID proponents refuse to associate ID with any stance on whether common descent is true or not or whether the earth is young or ancient or whether there was a global flood or not or any other issue that divides the various creationist fractions. The goal was to provide one big tent under which all kinds of creationists could unite.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        You talk about ID proponents the way Ken Ham talks about secular scientists.

        Should I lie instead?

      • Crude says :

        Nye’s argument is basically, that if you teach children that creationism is science, you will severely inhibit their ability to question and advance knowledge.

        The problem is, evidence speaks against Nye on this point.

  2. Brian LaMay says :

    I think you broke this down reasonably well — with balance and sincere striving for objectivity. One big correction: Ham never said — or even implied — that believing in evolution consigns one to the fires of hell. He emphasized that Christians are saved through faith in Jesus Christ alone — not by adherence to
    particular belief about origins.

  3. theObserver says :

    I see the whole thing as a rerun of 19th century European cultural wars.

  4. Andy Schueler says :

    Ken Ham said that there is a strong difference between experimental and historical science, the latter one failing to generate knowledge. Bill Nye responded by stating that such a distinction is utterly nonsensical.

    I think that reality might be more complex than those two binaries opinion.

    I agree with Nye here. Ham defends this naive view where only direct observation in the sense of “seeing with your own eyes” counts as proper / observational science. If you think this through, Ham doesn´t only exclude fields like Geology and Evolutionary Biology from “real science™”, but many other fields as well. That we study things which we can directly observe is actually rare – we cannot directly observe what happened in the past, but we also cannot directly observe (sub-)atomic processes and we cannot directly observe what happens on other planets or at distant stars and galaxies for example. Deductive reasoning based on indirect evidence is pretty much what modern science is all about – and asking “were you there??!!?” after seeing the evidence for evolution is not one iota less stupid than asking the same after seeing the evidence for nuclear fusion happening in the sun. I agree with you almost completely when you say:
    “I take the view that while historical science use the same methodology as experimental science for assessing evidence, the number of data is much more limited as you go back through the mist of history.”
    => as a trend, this is certainly true (but doesn´t only apply to things that are distant in time, but also to things that are distant in space – because they are extremely small (like a subatomic particle), or extremely large (like a supermassive black hole) or extremely far away (like distant galaxies)), however, this is not necessarily a linear trend – we could have plenty of high quality evidence for an event that happened 100MYA and almost no evidence at all for an event that happened just a few hundred years ago (as a rule of thumb, I´d say that how “big” the event was is more important than how long ago it happened – we will most likely find much more evidence for the impact of a large asteroid than we will find for the eruption of a small volcano, even if the latter happened a million years ago while the former happened a hundred million years ago).

    The most egregious crime of Ken Ham was his insistence that consistent Christians have to believe in a young earth, and that accepting evolution goes hand in hand with losing any hope of an afterlife and supporting abortion.

    While one can find the same kind of assertions in the writings of militant atheists (Dawkins, Coyne et al.) this is completely rubbish.

    I´m not really sure what you tried to say here. Taken literally, that means that Dawkins and Coyne say that you have to believe in a young earth because you will support abortion and lose hope in an afterlife if you don´t – I´m pretty sure that that is not what you wanted to say ;-) but I´m not really sure what you wanted to say instead.

  5. Mike Gantt says :

    I’m 62 years old and I cannot think of a single decision I have ever made – large or small – that turned on whether or not I believed in evolution.

    • lotharson says :

      It is entirely true that it is of no practical relevance for most human beings.

      By the way Mike, you might be interested to take a look at my posts on hell :-)

      http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/category/hell-holle/

      Lovely greetings in Christ.

    • ken says :

      Perhaps not, but I bet you’ve made a lot of major decisions that have been based on evidence produced by the same scientific principles that support evolution.

      • Mike Gantt says :

        I think you’ve just made what’s called a non-evidence-based (i.e., a priori) assumption.

      • ken says :

        “Mike Gantt says : February 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm

        I think you’ve just made what’s called a non-evidence-based (i.e., a priori) assumption.”

        Yes it is an assumption, however, you are mistaken when you claim it is “non-evidence” based. My evidence is the knowledge I have about scientific principles and how they effect everyday life.

      • ken says :

        Mike Gantt says : February 10, 2014 at 4:02 pm

        “Forgive me if I remained more convinced by the direct evidence of my decisions than by your assumptions about my decisions.”

        So you never made a major medical decision based on current knowledge of medicine?

        Because the same scientific principles that are used to advance medicial knowledge are used to study evolution. the principles being observe, hypthesize, test, revise if necessary, repeat. Some people like to throw in a “publish” in there as well.

  6. sheila0405 says :

    A comment here from a Catholic (me): Believing in evolution doesn’t affect my day to day life. I’m not absolutely certain about the afterlife, even though my faith has declared that hell is real. Catholicism also doesn’t say who is in hell, it only makes statements about who has made it into heaven, ie declaring who is a saint. I found the constant references to Jesus and salvation irritating. Personal beliefs about an afterlife, which nobody has directly observed either, by the way, has nothing whatsoever to do with origins of life. If Ham wants to proselytize, let him do it at his “museum”.

    I agree that tying America’s economy with the study of science was silly. I get his frustration, though, because it is a fact that many conservative Christians are home schooling and turning out adults that know nothing about science. A visit to any number of home schooling survivors’ blogs illustrates this. I thought Nye was amazingly patient, and he avoided denigrating the religious beliefs of Ham. In the meantime, Ham really attacked evolutionists, claiming they have “hijacked” science.

    The whole thing made me glad I left fundamentalism.

    • lotharson says :

      Hello Sheila.

      Yes Bill Nye has really be much more Christ-like than Ken Ham.

      It is very sad that most Americans seem to value more MAMMON (Money) than knowledge and love.

      • Mike Gantt says :

        lotharson,

        I can readily agree with you that Nye’s personality comes across more favorably on television than Ham’s does, but I don’t think we’re wise to bestow the title of “more Christlike” based on such limited perceptions.

        Let me add that Ham’s biggest missed opportunity was not sticking to the stated question being debated: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” Instead, Ham argued for his YEC view, leaving out of the discussion old earth creationism, intelligent design, theistic evolution, and perhaps other creationist positions of which I am not aware. He could have won the debate hands down had he simply pointed out how foolish it is for anyone to say that a belief in God inhibits the scientific enterprise, for then he would be arguing against Newton, Faraday, and Pasteur, not to mention Francis Collins and other giants in our day.

        Moreover, Nye was pleading that the U.S. abandon any reference to a Creator in science in order to maintain its stature in scientific pursuits. How then does he explain that the only country that entertains views about creation and science which are considered fringe everywhere else in the world (by your own reckoning) ever managed to attain this stature given such an “impediment”?

        I will also concede that Ham has a business to run and that this interest surely must tempt him to compromise his efforts on behalf of truth. That said, I don’t for a minute think that it’s impossible for Bill Nye to have business or other interests that might similarly compromise his search for, and proclamation of, truth in this debate..

        What I will say on behalf of Ken Ham is that he stood before a scornful world and declared that the Bible is the word of God. Even if he is wrong about what that book implies about science (and I don’t know enough about science to say), he has my unqualified respect for honoring the prophets and apostles (not to mention the Lord Himself) who gave their blood so that we might have that book. Don’t forget how David showed respect to those who misunderstood him about wantng water from the well of Bethlehem (2 Sam 23:14-17).

        • sheila0405 says :

          “…Ham argued for his YEC view, leaving out of the discussion old earth creationism, intelligent design, theistic evolution, and perhaps other creationist positions of which I am not aware.”

          Of course left out things you listed. Why? He does not accept them. Ham sees the Bible as the literal, plenary word of God and therefore will never accept any other view than creation as taking place in a literal six day, 24 hour per day, event.

          “What I will say on behalf of Ken Ham is that he stood before a scornful world and declared that the Bible is the word of God,”

          No, what Ham did was stand before a scornful world and say that his INTERPRETATION of the Bible is the word of God. As stated above by me, any other approach than a literal approach is considered error by Ham.

          “Even if he is wrong about what that book implies about science (and I don’t know enough about science to say), he has my unqualified respect for honoring the prophets and apostles (not to mention the Lord Himself) who gave their blood so that we might have that book.”

          Does Ham honor the prophets, apostles, or even the Lord himself, if he perpetuates falsehood?

          • Mike Gantt says :

            If Bill Nye had said “I interpret the Bible differently from you, Ken; here’s how I see it…” I would have gladly listened. Instead, Bill denigrated the Bible and gave no indication whatsover that he considered it to be God’s message to us about Christ.

          • sheila0405 says :

            I did not hear Nye denigrate the Bible. Nye said that there are billions of religious people who don’t believe in the YEC model. Not one time did Nye attack the Bible itself. He pointed out that it is a book that has been translated multiple times, and that using the American English translation of it to explain origins is not scientific.

          • Mike Gantt says :

            Bill Nye is an atheist. And his point to Ken Ham wasn’t that he thought Ken was interpreting it wrong; it was that no one could interpret it to have anything important to say about the universe.

          • sheila0405 says :

            And? You’re assuming a mindset which was not directly expressed. Nye did not overtly condemn but Ham did.

          • Mike Gantt says :

            I’m less interested in the debating tactics each employed than in the truth of the positions they each represented.

          • sheila0405 says :

            And your “truth” regarding the debate was an assumption about what atheists think of the Bible. Nye=atheist=hatred of the Bible. Stick to what was actually said IN the debate. If the topic is a general one, about what atheists believe (and, by the way, there are a plethora of atheistic thinking), then you can bring quotes from prominent atheists. Nye did not make a disparaging comment, an insult, as it were, about the Bible in general. He noted that Ham uses an American English translation of his own Bible to make his point.

            I am a Catholic, and I believe things Ham does not. My own Bible has 73 books in it, not the 66 that Ham uses. Yet, I would never say that Ham insulted other Bibles in his presentation. What Ham said is that he relies upon his own Bible for his beliefs. There is a great difference in what was actually said vs what I might want to imply regarding Ham’s view of my Catholic Bible. I would never go there in my comments about the debate. If the topic is KJV Biblical authority, then I can bring it in. Do you understand it, now?

          • Mike Gantt says :

            I thought I understood you before, but now you’ve lost me.

            Don’t worry about it, though, as it appears that you and I are on different enough frequencies from each other that we’re not likely to make much progress with each other anyway.

    • Crude says :

      I get his frustration, though, because it is a fact that many conservative Christians are home schooling and turning out adults that know nothing about science. A visit to any number of home schooling survivors’ blogs illustrates this.

      I don’t think it’s the best idea to go to a site for people who will self-select to dislike home schooling for stats about home schooling. Statistically, homeschoolers outperform students who went with public schooling. I’m sure there are some bad homeschool methods, but it’s also obvious that there are some rotten public schooling methods.

      More than that – the problem is you grant that Nye’s connection of ‘learning evolution’ with ‘succeeding economically’ / ‘learning science’ is wrong. But then you sympathize with him. But what’s there to sympathize with?

      As for evolutionists – I think YEC is wrong, but there is a bizarre dogma in place in science when it comes to evolution. For one thing, there is this repeated claim – and Nye exemplifies it – about how important it is for science generally. It simply is not.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        As for evolutionists – I think YEC is wrong, but there is a bizarre dogma in place in science when it comes to evolution. For one thing, there is this repeated claim – and Nye exemplifies it – about how important it is for science generally. It simply is not.

        I´m not really sure what you mean by “science generally”. Evolutionary biology is indeed rather irrelevant for particle physics, but it is of utmost importance for most subdisciplines in the life and earth sciences, and for a lot of the applied research done by biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

      • Mike Gantt says :

        sheila0405,

        I agree with Crude’s response to you and would add that while Nye is clearly more telegenic than Ham, it does not necessarily follow that he is more right than Ham.

        • sheila0405 says :

          So, for you and for others who posted in reply to my own post. I was raised a Protestant Fundamentalist. I know firsthand about the doctrines, firsthand about the homeschooling and private school movements, and I know firsthand what is taught and how those teachings are reinforced. Take a look at this blog: http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/accelerated-christian-education/

          Don’t be put off by the fact that Jonny is a Brit. The ACE and BJU curriculum are USA produced and shipped. This is the curriculum that all of the homeschoolers that I knew use. Trust me, I know what I am talking about.

          Christian guilt, Mike? What in the world are you talking about? I have no guilt about what I believe. I am thankful to God for moving me away from Fundamentalism. You can’t have thankfulness and guilt in the same space. Again, I am not feeling guilt at all. If anything, I’m frustrated by people who tout homeschooled children as doing better than public school students, without realizing that homeschooling as done by Fundamentalists is vastly different from homeschooling done by nonconservatives. The Fundie homeschoolers have their own assessment tools.

          I urge people to pay closer attention to Fundamentalist homeschooling because the children in those home schools are often short changed in their education. And, conservative Protestant private schools which use the above listed sources for the curriculum also short change students. My younger sister is one of those.

      • dpatrickcollins says :

        Evolutionary biology is of utmost importance for most subdisciplines in the life and earth sciences, and for a lot of the applied research done by biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

        Not sure I would agree with this. The point is that if you stripped all evolutionary theory away from the life sciences, the only thing that would be lost is evolutionary theory itself. it would not impede one’s ability to understand the structure, interworking or behavior of organisms or of their basic building block, the cell. Apart from the teaching of evolutionary theory itself, it would be interesting to see examples where a student would in fact be impeded from understanding an aspect of the life sciences.

        The only disclaimer I would draw here is that I am defining evolution as it is defined here and in the debate: The theory of the origin of life and of complex life forms (as opposed to natural selection within a species).

      • Andy Schueler says :

        Not sure I would agree with this. The point is that if you stripped all evolutionary theory away from the life sciences, the only thing that would be lost is evolutionary theory itself.

        That is not the case. There are entire disciplines that would effectively cease to exist if you would substract evolutionary theory. Bioinformatics is a good example – pretty much the entire conceptual framework of bioinformatics relies on evolutionary theory.

        it would not impede one’s ability to understand the structure, interworking or behavior of organisms or of their basic building block, the cell.

        Oh, it certainly would. A classic example would be the research on the genetic code in the 1950s and 1960s – the experimental design for the key experiments would have made no sense whatsoever without evolutionary theory (if you are interested in the topic, “The Eighth Day of Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Biology” by Horace Freeland Judson is an excellent book on the history of molecular biology).

      • sheila0405 says :

        Look at the stats for who does homeschooling for what reasons. The majority of homeschooling is done for religious reasons. Ham’s materials are used by vast numbers of conservative Christian homeschooling. When you look into how many ultra conservative Christian homeschooling parents isolate their children from others, along with the materials used, it is quite concerning. Don’t just look at my statement to come up with your opinion–dig around. You’ll see that my concerns are well justified.

      • Crude says :

        I´m not really sure what you mean by “science generally”. Evolutionary biology is indeed rather irrelevant for particle physics, but it is of utmost importance for most subdisciplines in the life and earth sciences, and for a lot of the applied research done by biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

        Not really. At least, not the sort of evolutionary biology that Ham and YECs give a rip about.

        Ham doesn’t particularly care about evolution defined merely as ‘reproduction and descent with variation’. He cares about common descent, the specific idea that all extant organisms are related historically. And that has next to nothing to do with applied research or much of anything else at all.

        sheila,

        Look at the stats for who does homeschooling for what reasons. The majority of homeschooling is done for religious reasons.

        And then look at the stats for homeschooling performance. Which speaks against what you’re pointing out here.

        • sheila0405 says :

          Look at the stats for conservative, fundamentalist homeschooling achievement. That’s the type of homeschooling to which I am referring. But, hey, if you aren’t interested in researching it, that’s okay too.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        Ham doesn’t particularly care about evolution defined merely as ‘reproduction and descent with variation’. He cares about common descent, the specific idea that all extant organisms are related historically. And that has next to nothing to do with applied research or much of anything else at all.

        It has plenty to do with applied research. I already gave examples somewhere else in the thread – bioinformatics is one example of an entire field that would effectively cease to exist if you substract evolutionary theory (including *especially* common descent), and bioinformatics is extremely relevant for applied research. The history of molecular biology is full of examples of experiments that would have made no sense whatsoever without either assuming that common descent is true in general or even assuming that a specific phylogenetic tree or network is correct or at least mostly correct.

      • Crude says :

        sheila,

        Look at the stats for conservative, fundamentalist homeschooling achievement. That’s the type of homeschooling to which I am referring. But, hey, if you aren’t interested in researching it, that’s okay too.

        Give me the stats. The problem is, you haven’t. You’ve just told me to track down testimonials. If most homeschooling is done for religious reasons – something you yourself said – then looking at the trends of homeschooling broadly is appropriate. And they speak against you on this point.

        Andy,

        It has plenty to do with applied research. I already gave examples somewhere else in the thread – bioinformatics is one example of an entire field that would effectively cease to exist if you substract evolutionary theory (including *especially* common descent), and bioinformatics is extremely relevant for applied research.

        You haven’t even begun to make your case on this front. Go ahead, present the concrete examples. The results are either going to be ridiculously strained, or largely relevant exclusively to the field of common descent itself.

        There’s a reason you are preferring to speak in the vaguest, broadest terms here, and we both know why.

        The history of molecular biology is full of examples of experiments that would have made no sense whatsoever without either assuming that common descent is true in general or even assuming that a specific phylogenetic tree or network is correct or at least mostly correct.

        And that history happens to be the history that is almost entirely irrelevant to technological progress and technology that impacts the economy in any meaningful way. It is an absurdly tiny sliver of scientific knowledge with next to no real application to the areas of science that Nye spoke of. And the reason Nye spoke of precisely those areas is because he knows that to say ‘Well, it’s REAL important for the scientific equivalent of butterfly collecting’ would have been to sacrifice a major point of his arguments’ thrust.

        You want to know the importance of evolutionary biology? Let me give you the words of an evolutionary biologist:

        In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics. For evolutionary biology is a historical science, laden with history’s inevitable imponderables. We evolutionary biologists cannot generate a Cretaceous Park to observe exactly what killed the dinosaurs; and, unlike “harder” scientists, we usually cannot resolve issues with a simple experiment, such as adding tube A to tube B and noting the color of the mixture.

        Jerry Coyne. Not exactly a loyal and dedicated member of the YEC front.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        You haven’t even begun to make your case on this front. Go ahead, present the concrete examples. The results are either going to be ridiculously strained, or largely relevant exclusively to the field of common descent itself.

        Alright, two examples in more detail: homology search and computational identification of positive selection. Homology search is based on explicitly evolutionary models, even the simplest and earliest approaches, like BLAST (the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool) do not simply look for similarity but rather explicitly model substitutions and insertions / deletions (and the more modern state of the art approaches work better precisely because they rely more on evolutionary theory and incorporate more of it in their models) in protein and DNA alignments. For more details, see any Bioinformatics textbook – Bioinformatics for Dummies would be a good start). This has become a standard approach in molecular biology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical research. To quote a review from 1995:
        “The detection of amino acid sequence homology between a newly identified sequences and previously determined sequences is often the most important clue to the function of a gene of interest. In fact, the “homology search” has become so important to molecular biology and biotechnology that this is often the major reason for sequencing a gene of interest.”
        -Henikoff S. Comparative methods for identifying functional domains in protein sequences. Biotechnology Annual Review Volume 1, 1995
        This is outdated because sequencing genes and entire genomes has become so cheap that we just sequence pretty much everything we can get our hands on, homology search has not become one iota less important though.
        This approach is also standard for both drug target search and validation, see chapters 2, 3, 12 and 15 of “In Silico Technologies in Drug Target Identification and Validation”:

        http://books.google.de/books?id=NAUZ31SxUHwC

        Another example – computation detection of positive selection. This is a standard approach that is used for every newly sequences genome, and it is one of the best ways to find interesting genes and generate functional hypotheses about them. The most famous example for that is arguably FOXP2 (a transcription factor that is essential for the development of speech and language faculties in humans) – in the human genome project, this gene was identified as the fastest evolving gene in the human lineage (identified / quantified by an approach that would obviously make no sense whatsoever without common descent (admittedly, common descent of all mammals would be sufficient here)), and these approaches usually have the nice side-effect of leading to functional hypotheses about the gene of interest which can be experimentally tested, see for example one of the follow-up studies on FOXP2 evolution:

        http://ruccs.rutgers.edu/~karin/550.READINGS/EVOLUTION/Enard2002.pdf

        There’s a reason you are preferring to speak in the vaguest, broadest terms here, and we both know why.

        Because you don´t pay me for my time?

        And that history happens to be the history that is almost entirely irrelevant to technological progress and technology that impacts the economy in any meaningful way.

        :-D Right, because figuring out the genetic code had absolutely no impact on biotechnology in any, I repeat, ANY, way.

        You want to know the importance of evolutionary biology? Let me give you the words of an evolutionary biologist:

        In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics. For evolutionary biology is a historical science, laden with history’s inevitable imponderables. We evolutionary biologists cannot generate a Cretaceous Park to observe exactly what killed the dinosaurs; and, unlike “harder” scientists, we usually cannot resolve issues with a simple experiment, such as adding tube A to tube B and noting the color of the mixture.

        Lets see what PZ sez:
        “Shormann goes on into ever more ridiculous claims — here’s his judgment on biology textbooks.
        “”””Also, in the 21st century, high school and college biology textbooks are becoming bloated monsters. Something has to go to make room for teaching 21st Century advances in biology, including epigenetics and bioinformatics. Many chapters have way too many pages devoted to speculative historical claims about origins, dogmatically asserting only one interpretation (evolutionism). A pro-science person would want to reduce or remove the history to make room for 21st Century science. An anti-science person would reject the 21st Century science in favor of page after page about origins. Ask the atheist which they would choose to include in an already oversized biology textbook, new science or history? If they would rather keep the history, then they are anti-science, which contradicts their claims of being pro-science.”””
        Yes, the biology texts are huge…but that’s because we have so much information to share. I am amused, though, that he wants to throw out evolution to make room for bioinformatics. Bioinformatics makes no sense at all without evolution — I can’t even imagine the subject being taught without an understanding of the concept that genes and genomes change over time. In epigenetics, the primary focus is going to be on developmental change, but even there — does he realize that human epigenetics is analyzed in the context of experimental information done in mice and other animals?”

        PZ is completely right and Jerry does have a point but his generalization is false (what he says is true for his research and many other areas of evolutionary biology, but certainly not all of them).

        Oh btw, I work in an evolutionary bioinformatics lab.

      • Crude says :

        Andy,

        Alright, two examples in more detail: homology search and computational identification of positive selection.

        As I said: The results are either going to be ridiculously strained, or largely relevant exclusively to the field of common descent itself.

        File these under ‘ridiculously strained’ with regards to the issue that YECs primarily contest: common descent. You want to argue that evolutionary theory in the broad, broad sense of ‘descent with modification’ is essential to pharamaceutical research? Go for it. The problem is that this is precisely the sort of ‘evolutionary theory’ that YECs have next to no problem with whatsoever. Don’t obfuscate.

        Particularly don’t do it with homology, since what’s relevant even in a homology search is the actual function of the homologous features. Facts and details, including the fact of their common descent, is inconsequential.

        Because you don´t pay me for my time?

        It’s not as valuable as you’d think.

        Right, because figuring out the genetic code had absolutely no impact on biotechnology in any, I repeat, ANY, way.

        There it is again. ‘Figuring out the genetic code’ and its relation to the aspects of evolutionary theory that YECs question is incredibly strained at best – and that’s putting it mildly. The absolute best you’re managing here is saying ‘Well, what we managed to do worked off some assumptions that tangentially can be framed decently in a common descent vision’. And even that tangent doesn’t survive because the YEC can work much of the same logic with ‘common design’, even if CD as they envision it is wrong.

        Lets see what PZ sez:

        Let’s compare Jerry Coyne, who actually practices evolutionary biology and is talking frankly about his own field, with PZ Myers – an ex-scientist atheist blogger who has his back up when answering someone engaged in some kind of apologetic mission.

        It’s anecdote v anecdote, but frankly I have the better anecdote. Especially since your own quote has PZ Myers running to the definition of evolution that is ‘genes and genomes change over time’. Once again, not exactly what the YECs have a problem with.

        Oh btw, I work in an evolutionary bioinformatics lab.

        Hooray.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        As I said: The results are either going to be ridiculously strained, or largely relevant exclusively to the field of common descent itself.

        And reality happens to be diametrically opposed to your preconceived ideas.

        You want to argue that evolutionary theory in the broad, broad sense of ‘descent with modification’ is essential to pharamaceutical research?

        I just did.

        Go for it. The problem is that this is precisely the sort of ‘evolutionary theory’ that YECs have next to no problem with whatsoever. Don’t obfuscate.

        YECs have no problem with common descent? You might want to read up on what common descent means.

        Particularly don’t do it with homology, since what’s relevant even in a homology search is the actual function of the homologous features. Facts and details, including the fact of their common descent, is inconsequential.

        Without common descent, there is no such thing as “homology” to begin with – the very concept would be meaningless. And “what’s relevant even in a homology search is the actual function of the homologous features” – is a breathtakingly ignorant thing to say. “Homology” does in no way, shape or form rely on function – we routinely try to identify homology relationships for features that don´t have a function to begin with, those are in many cases exceedingly useful as an indicator of the neutral / background evolutionary rate and to look for phylogenetic signal in sequences of very closely related species. And for those features that do have a function (which does not need to be conserved btw), we could not even start to look for homologs without evolutionary theory – *particularly* common descent – none of the approaches for homology searches make any sense whatsoever without it, even if “homology” were a meaningful category to begin with without common descent (which it isn´t).

        There it is again. ‘Figuring out the genetic code’ and its relation to the aspects of evolutionary theory that YECs question is incredibly strained at best – and that’s putting it mildly. The absolute best you’re managing here is saying ‘Well, what we managed to do worked off some assumptions that tangentially can be framed decently in a common descent vision’.

        This is honestly too stupid to address, read a book genius.

        And even that tangent doesn’t survive because the YEC can work much of the same logic with ‘common design’, even if CD as they envision it is wrong.

        Here is a cookie for mindlessly parroting one of the stupidest creationist memes out there. Common descent imposes very specific constraints on which features must be conserved and which don´t have to be – while “common design” requires no such thing, and common descent absolutely requires that a hierarchy of similarities applies to every feature, whether they have a function, no function, or are even detrimental to the organism – which leads to many instances where common design predicts the exact opposite of what is observed in reality (unless you assume that the unknown designers are incompetent, assholes, or simply don´t give a shit). Not to mention that an objective nested hierarchy of similarities wouldn´t even be expected to begin with under “common design” because we don´t observe that for any class of artifacts, not for watches, not for computers, not for cars, nothing – common descent would be unambigiously refuted if we observed anything different, “common design” would either have to defined to mean “the designers work in way that lead to results as expected from an unguided Markov process and is thus completely different from what human designers do” or would predict something completely different.

      • Crude says :

        Andy,

        And reality happens to be diametrically opposed to your preconceived ideas.

        If true, that would make your utter inability to demonstrate this pretty amusing. ;)

        I just did.

        Not at all. You merely gave a reply that lined up nicely with my preconceived ideas. Thanks, by the by.

        YECs have no problem with common descent? You might want to read up on what common descent means.

        Of course they have a problem with common descent. They do not have a problem with mere ‘descent with modification’, mutation, or the bare fact of ascertaining function by investigating similar structures and traits.

        Without common descent, there is no such thing as “homology” to begin with – the very concept would be meaningless.

        We’re talking about the relation of homology to actual useful science that goes beyond what amounts to glorified butterfly collecting. If your point was that YECs are unable to take part in mainstream scientific conversations about hypothesized selection events in the shadowy realms of deep time, I admitted that from the start. And if that was the point Nye was attempting to make, he would have been laughed off the stage – its relevance to research and technology that actually has tangible use is absurdly minimal.

        This is honestly too stupid to address, read a book genius.

        You may want to read one about, you know, the genetic code and what actually went into discovering it and deciphering it. A hint: while what’s been since discovered with the genetics has absolutely added evidence to common descent claims (to put it mildly), the actual deciphering and practical application of that knowledge was related to actual CD claims in only the most tangential ways.

        Sorry, but for once Jerry Coyne was right: the valuable aspects of evolutionary theory, the parts that actually have importance and major relevance in medical and scientific research, have entirely little to do with common descent. Try reading better books.

        Common descent imposes very specific constraints on which features must be conserved and which don´t have to be

        What baloney. You say you work in a relevant lab, and supposedly your job involves something other than a mop. When you start talking about ‘severe constraints on what features must be conserved and which don’t have to be’ you are getting into a subject involving a combination of deep time, selection pressures we often have only the foggiest ideas of, and more. There’s an aspect of evolution that’s deeply relevant to this kind of thing, but ‘common descent’ itself only goes so far. And frankly, when people try desperately to overstate the value and practical application (to say nothing of the relevance to economy and technology) of common descent purely because they’re inanely psyched up to try and attack YECs, there’s a phrase for what they’re doing: they are abusing, even rejecting, science.

        which leads to many instances where common design predicts the exact opposite of what is observed in reality (unless you assume that the unknown designers are incompetent, assholes, or simply don´t give a shit)

        Which is just another way of saying, ‘If I were designing everything, I’d do it differently!’ You don’t know the design specifications of the designer in question, much less their number, personality, or any other relevant details. Another bit of news for you: science is utterly incapable of discerning the presence or lack of design in evolutionary processes, in either a positive or negative sense. While this isn’t a YEC position, common descent is /compatible/ with design.

        Likewise, I’m not arguing YEC is true here. I’m pointing out that they have no problem accepting similarities between species, organisms, and the like – nothing about YEC requires that they reject such things. Their rationale may be wrong or flawed, but the rationale is all they need to investigate and work with the data in question. Sure, it’ll lead to problems in the very narrow and specific realm where the question of primary importance is related to ‘what evolutionary results took place 50000 or 50 million years ago’. Questions like that just don’t happen to be very important for the economy or technology, save for whatever minor market there exists for historical scientific minutae.

        common descent would be unambigiously refuted if we observed anything different

        No, it would be a big mystery that we’d have to ponder and hold out for additional data because, darn it, nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.

        the designers work in way that lead to results as expected from an unguided Markov process

        By all means, feel free to point me at the peer-reviewed scientific research that performed experiments testing for the presence or lack of a designer’s (including God’s or gods’) intervention and/or guidance in evolutionary pathways. Oops, what’s that? They don’t exist, and if they did exist they would be hilariously easy to tear to pieces intellectually? Why, it’s almost as if what you just said was an utter misrepresentation of science as it stands. Imagine that.

        When you say ‘this is what I expect from an unguided process’, all you’re really telling me is that you can model a given result AS IF it were an ultimately unguided process. But that’s trivially easy and tremendously uninteresting, because we’re not interested in your pragmatic model, but actuality.

        I know you feel you’re entitled to a certain amount of authority regarding design questions, what with your working in an evolutionary research lab, but let me bring this news to you: you have none on that subject, no more than anyone else, and arguably far less than people in actual relevant fields. If someone wants to know whether the universe or even a spider is designed, the input of your field is not particularly valuable. Hopefully your research actually has practical application, because if it’s just another instance of ‘Did grasshoppers evolve before or after beetles’ research, well – sorry to knock your field down a peg, but don’t hold it against me, YECs or Nye that it’s only so useful, or indeed, interesting. You’re the one who got into it.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        Of course they have a problem with common descent. They do not have a problem with mere ‘descent with modification’, mutation, or the bare fact of ascertaining function by investigating similar structures and traits.

        Try to address what I actually said instead of lying about what I said.

        We’re talking about the relation of homology to actual useful science that goes beyond what amounts to glorified butterfly collecting.

        Newsflash: drug target identification and validation is glorified butterfly collecting because random internet troll says so!

        If your point was that YECs are unable to take part in mainstream scientific conversations about hypothesized selection events

        No, that wasn´t my point. I talked about practical applications that thousands of scientists use every day.

        And if that was the point Nye was attempting to make, he would have been laughed off the stage – its relevance to research and technology that actually has tangible use is absurdly minimal.

        :-D Oh, I love it when random bible freaks explain my job to me. Since I know nothing whatsoever about this issue while you have your degree from google university, please explain something to me. We have a newly sequenced genome of a species that is extremely resistant to cancer, we want to see if it encodes for a homolog for the human tumor-suppressor P53 ( http://www.uniprot.org/uniprot/P04637.fasta ). Now, since I am a young earth creationists and don´t believe in common descent, how could I do that? All the approaches I know are based on common descent, help me out here buddy, how do I do this?

        You may want to read one about, you know, the genetic code and what actually went into discovering it and deciphering it. A hint: while what’s been since discovered with the genetics has absolutely added evidence to common descent claims (to put it mildly), the actual deciphering and practical application of that knowledge was related to actual CD claims in only the most tangential ways.

        Oh really? Since I love being lectured by random bible freaks with a degree from google university, pray tell – what are those “tangential ways”?

        What baloney. You say you work in a relevant lab, and supposedly your job involves something other than a mop. When you start talking about ‘severe constraints on what features must be conserved and which don’t have to be’ you are getting into a subject involving a combination of deep time, selection pressures we often have only the foggiest ideas of, and more.

        Actually no, but it is quite hilarious that you say this right after lecturing me on the genetic code above. [sarcasm]That makes it even more plausible that you really know what you are talking about[/sarcasm]

        There’s an aspect of evolution that’s deeply relevant to this kind of thing, but ‘common descent’ itself only goes so far.

        Please explain my job to me random internet troll, use your mighty google powers to explain what “aspect of evolution is deeply relevant for this kind of thing”? This is going to be hilarious.

        Which is just another way of saying, ‘If I were designing everything, I’d do it differently!’

        No, it´s a way of saying “no human designer ever did this”.

        You don’t know the design specifications of the designer in question, much less their number, personality, or any other relevant details.

        Ah, random internet troll had a flash of inspiration. Yes, we don´t know any of that, and now think really hard and try to figure out why “an unknown number of unknown designers interacted in unknown ways with the development of life at unknown points in time for unknown reasons with unknown methods” literally could not be more useless for a scientist and, since it doesn´t predict anything but is rather trivially compatible with every possible observation, does not predict the same as “common descent” (unless you assume that the “designers” are in some ways similar to humans, in which case it would predict exactly what we don´t see).

        Another bit of news for you: science is utterly incapable of discerning the presence or lack of design in evolutionary processes, in either a positive or negative sense. While this isn’t a YEC position, common descent is /compatible/ with design.

        Wasn´t my point, reading comprehension is also not your strong suite eh?

        Likewise, I’m not arguing YEC is true here. I’m pointing out that they have no problem accepting similarities between species, organisms, and the like

        If you are not lying here, you are simply too ignorant for this conversation. I already explained several times that it is not about mere similarity. The distribution of similarities that is observed is predicted by common descent, while “common design” either predicts something completely different (with the assumption that “designers” are at least in some ways similar to humans) or predicts nothing at all. And for the practical applications I talked about, I explicitly said that it is not about mere similarity – this is why, for example, you cannot explain to me how I could look for a P53 homolog (see above) if common descent were false.

        Sure, it’ll lead to problems in the very narrow and specific realm where the question of primary importance is related to ‘what evolutionary results took place 50000 or 50 million years ago’. Questions like that just don’t happen to be very important for the economy or technology, save for whatever minor market there exists for historical scientific minutae..

        Sure, who gives a fuck about what might have happened fifty million years ago, it´s not as if every single model organism used by pharmaceutical or biotech companies shared a common ancestor with humans older than that.

        No, it would be a big mystery that we’d have to ponder and hold out for additional data because, darn it, nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.

        I guess you wanted this to sound funny and clever.
        Fail.

        By all means, feel free to point me at the peer-reviewed scientific research that performed experiments testing for the presence or lack of a designer’s (including God’s or gods’) intervention and/or guidance in evolutionary pathways.

        Ok, now I´m almost certain that you are lying, you simply can´t be *that* stupid. Go back to what I wrote, this time, read it, and then try to explain how this trainwreck of a response relates to what I wrote.

        I know you feel you’re entitled to a certain amount of authority

        No, because I´m not a bible freak with a degree from google university, I obviously have to submit to your authority on this subject.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        Forgot the last part:

        but let me bring this news to you: you have none on that subject, no more than anyone else, and arguably far less than people in actual relevant fields. If someone wants to know whether the universe or even a spider is designed, the input of your field is not particularly valuable

        Ah, so there are fields that are relevant for this? Interesting. And which fields are relevant for finding out whether a spider is “designed” or not? Keep in mind what you said earlier:
        “You don’t know the design specifications of the designer in question, much less their number, personality, or any other relevant details.”
        Go ahead, don´t be coy – which fields are of any relevance whatsoever for answering the question if an unknown number of unknown designers did something unknown at unknown points in time that is in unknown ways related to the emergence of spiders?

      • Crude says :

        Andy,

        Ah, so there are fields that are relevant for this? Interesting. And which fields are relevant for finding out whether a spider is “designed” or not? Keep in mind what you said earlier:
        “You don’t know the design specifications of the designer in question, much less their number, personality, or any other relevant details.”
        Go ahead, don´t be coy – which fields are of any relevance whatsoever for answering the question if an unknown number of unknown designers did something unknown at unknown points in time that is in unknown ways related to the emergence of spiders?

        Don’t be coy? You’re confusing me with you, kiddo – I get to the point. ;)

        Philosophy. Theology, if your philosophy includes or leads to such. At which point, the number of designers may well turn out to be known, along with the aspects of the designer, the broad possibilities of creation at His (gasp, gendered language) disposal, etc. Why, I won’t even hold it against you if you forgo fields altogether and simply talk about your intuition, your personal impression, or otherwise.

        There are your fields, Andy. Now, you can huff and puff mightily and insist that none of those fields are sufficient to decisively answer the question to your satisfaction, that they all have flaws. You do that. You may want to work with a proxy, because you’re not particularly good at picking out flaws in arguments, or advancing any of your own.

        The difference between you and me – I mean, among the many differences – on this subject is that I know that evaluations of design in nature aren’t science. And I don’t really have a problem with that. You, meanwhile, will kick up quite a lot of dust and smoke in a desperate bid to obscure that fact.

        Try to address what I actually said instead of lying about what I said.

        Stand behind your words instead of fleeing from them whenever the flaws are pointed out.

        Newsflash: drug target identification and validation is glorified butterfly collecting because random internet troll says so!

        Not at all, which is why I didn’t say as much. Finding out whether the appendage of a bat may or may not be related to some particular stump on a rodent’s paw in the courses of deep time? Butterfly collecting.

        No, that wasn´t my point. I talked about practical applications that thousands of scientists use every day.

        The practical applications of *evolution*, in the broad sense, aren’t the point – nor do YECs have to deny them. You can, believe it or not, believe in variation and descent as a YEC. You can even recognize similarities between species in terms of form and function. When it comes to the very specific subject of common descent, there’s little there that matters to science, technology and economy. Very little.

        Oh, I love it when random bible freaks explain my job to me.

        ‘Bible freak’. So desperate, Andy – I quote no bible passages to you, I’ve made no arguments based on the bible in the entirety of this conversation. But I disagree with you, and *Gasp*, I criticized your reasoning. Ergo, I must be a bible freak. And you certainly cannot be, you know, full of it. ;)

        Be glad anyone cares about the details of your profession at all, Andy.

        We have a newly sequenced genome of a species that is extremely resistant to cancer, we want to see if it encodes for a homolog for the human tumor-suppressor P53 ( http://www.uniprot.org/uniprot/P04637.fasta ). Now, since I am a young earth creationists and don´t believe in common descent, how could I do that? All the approaches I know are based on common descent, help me out here buddy, how do I do this?

        Well, lil’ buckaroo, lemme tell ya something amazing. Those approaches you say are ‘based on common descent’? Here’s something magical and wonderful: if you’re a YEC, and you use those same approaches – if you intellectually justify them or frame them in a way that makes no assumption of common descent – guess what? They still work.

        Why, it’s almost as if experiments and research can be carried out such that beliefs about those experiments are irrelevant, so long as the methods are maintained. Imagine that. ;)

        Oh really? Since I love being lectured by random bible freaks with a degree from google university, pray tell – what are those “tangential ways”?

        There’s that bruised ego again. “B-b-bible freak! You’re a bible freak! You… haven’t brought up the Bible at all in the course of this conversation, b-but you’re criticizing me! BIBLE FREAK!’ Poor, poor Andy. How badly did those YECs treat you in high school?

        You’re the one who’s claimed the absolute unbelievable importance of common descent here. I express skepticism, so now it’s my job to justify my skepticism? Funny how that works. ;)

        No, it´s a way of saying “no human designer ever did this”.

        No human designer ever did what? Made a design others judged to be inefficient? Even cruel? Or made a design that used markov chains?

        Oh, and also – I suppose you’d have to argue that in all those instances where a human designer DID do something we see done in biology or evolution, that such would be evidence of design? Or does little Andy’s reasoning choo-choo go off-tracks when that inconsistency is pointed out?

        literally could not be more useless for a scientist and, since it doesn´t predict anything but

        Newflash, Andy: I wasn’t saying it was ‘useful’ for a scientist. Also newsflash? “It was undesigned!” is absolutely useless for a scientist too, since you’re then invoking chance and who knows what combination of (ultimately brute) facts in the process. As I said above – I am more than happy to acknowledge that beliefs about design or its lack are outside of science. For you to do that would be a blow to your poor ego. Pity I don’t care about that ego.

        Wasn´t my point, reading comprehension is also not your strong suite eh?

        For it ‘not being your point’, you sure freak out as if I hit a sore spot by correcting you on this front. Either way, it looks like you learned something new here – so, you’re welcome.

        I already explained several times that it is not about mere similarity. The distribution of similarities that is observed is predicted by common descent, while “common design” either predicts something completely different (with the assumption that “designers” are at least in some ways similar to humans) or predicts nothing at all.

        Your assumption would not predict something ‘completely different’, and your logic on that front is abysmal – but I’ve so far shown my patience in explaining these things to you. Once again, you’re welcome.

        Your problem, Andy, is that you seem to think that if common descent is not accepted, then suddenly your techniques to investigate these questions will not work – or worse, that you cannot come up with some kind of ‘design model’ that matches the reasoning you’d see reflected in common descent, without requiring common descent to be true. I keep telling you that I’m not a YEC, that I accept common descent, and that I find the YEC reasoning poor on this front – but you’re so wrapped up in your model that you don’t appreciate the availability of other models that can account for the same data. Read carefully, because this is the part that’s blowing your mind: those models don’t have to be ultimately right to properly frame your search. And ‘framing’ is the only thing you’re arguing for here.

        Sure, who gives a fuck about what might have happened fifty million years ago, it´s not as if every single model organism used by pharmaceutical or biotech companies shared a common ancestor with humans older than that.

        Correct: who gives a flying fuck? What matters isn’t the fact that the model organism had whatever goddamn relationship however many millions of years ago, but the relevant genetic similarities of that organism. If somehow scientists managed to design a new model organism from the ground up using reference to human genetics, that would not be a species who shared ancestry with us – yet that fact alone wouldn’t discount it in principle from being a model organism, because the CD aspect is irrelevant. The similarity is what’s relevant, not the historical explanation for that similarity.

        I guess you wanted this to sound funny and clever.

        Over your head, Andy? That’s not the concern. The point is that no, science isn’t performed by magical golems infused with the distilled spiritual power of the Scientific Method. It’s performed by human beings, many of whom are entirely capable of explaining away data contrary to their current beliefs – the YECs do it, and scientists can do it too in a pinch. In fact, many times they have, hence Planck’s quote about science advancing by waiting for a new generation of scientists to replace the old one.

        Ok, now I´m almost certain that you are lying, you simply can´t be *that* stupid. Go back to what I wrote, this time, read it, and then try to explain how this trainwreck of a response relates to what I wrote.

        Little man of little mind – you’re the one who decided to inject ‘unguided’ into this conversation. I answered you on those terms. If the fact that my reply has you sputtering inanely about how ‘humans don’t design like this!’ and searching around desperately for an adequate reply (keep looking, by the bye ;), you have only yourself to blame.

        No, because I´m not a bible freak with a degree from google university, I obviously have to submit to your authority on this subject.

        Aww, atheist baby has to get in another bizarre ‘bible freak’ quote. Nor did I say you have to ‘submit to my authority’, though I appreciate the projection-laden comment. Your degree is meaningless – you have to provide arguments and reasoning. So far, you haven’t been doing a terribly good job.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        Philosophy. Theology

        Philosophy and theology are of relevance for answering the question “for answering the question if an unknown number of unknown designers did something unknown at unknown points in time that is in unknown ways related to the emergence of spiders”. Got it. I couldn´t come up with a better insult against theology myself, I also couldn´t come up with a better insult against Intelligent Design myself – and that it is delivered by someone sympathetic to ID makes it even better.

        There are your fields, Andy. Now, you can huff and puff mightily and insist that none of those fields are sufficient to decisively answer the question to your satisfaction,

        I never said so or implied that my field is of any relevance whatsoever “for answering the question if an unknown number of unknown designers did something unknown at unknown points in time that is in unknown ways related to the emergence of spiders” – and I wouldn´t be interested in any field that deals with obviously pointless questions.

        You, meanwhile, will kick up quite a lot of dust and smoke in a desperate bid to obscure that fact.

        I never did any such thing – I pointed out that ID either predicts nothing (with no added assumptions) or something that is not observed in reality (with added assumptions). You lied about what I said and pretended that I claimed instead that science has proven that there is no designer.

        Not at all, which is why I didn’t say as much. Finding out whether the appendage of a bat may or may not be related to some particular stump on a rodent’s paw in the courses of deep time? Butterfly collecting.

        This is supposed to be a response to “Newsflash: drug target identification and validation is glorified butterfly collecting because random internet troll says so!” – instead of lying about what I said, you could try to address the actual issue.

        Be glad anyone cares about the details of your profession at all, Andy.

        Plenty of people do. You don´t, otherwise you would not ignore what I say and automatically substitute everything I say with your preconceived ideas about what I should say. I can explicitly say that something is not about looking for mere similarity for example and explain why, but you have this preconceived idea that this simply cannot be true – so instead of addressing what I say, you just make up your own version of this and argue against these ridiculous preconceived ideas that fly around in your head.

        Well, lil’ buckaroo, lemme tell ya something amazing. Those approaches you say are ‘based on common descent’? Here’s something magical and wonderful: if you’re a YEC, and you use those same approaches – if you intellectually justify them or frame them in a way that makes no assumption of common descent – guess what? They still work.

        :-D :-D :-D So I ask you how I could do that without assuming common descent and your answer is “just don´t assume common descent!”. Great! Thanks for pointing that out! *slow clap*.
        Now, how about actually answering the question? So I am supposed to do what I always did but simply not assume that common descent is true and justify it in some other way? Cool, so how the fuck is this supposed to work? My substitution matrices are based on multiple sequence alignments of sequences from species all over the tree of life – how the fuck do you justify doing a multiple sequence alignment without common descent in the first place? And even if you could justify that somehow – I use this to explicitly model substitutions in lineages that connect sets of species that cannot correspond to biblical kinds, if common descent is false, what the fuck am I modelling here, how do I “justify” any of that? The same for indels, I am explicitly modelling events that based on my assumptions never happened, pray tell – how do I justify any of that? Many of the state of the art approaches I use even rely on an explicit phylogeny, what the hell is this phylogeny supposed to mean if common descent is false?
        Don´t weasel your way out of this, you apparently understand my job much better than I do – so tell me, how do I “justify” any of this?

        No human designer ever did what? Made a design others judged to be inefficient? Even cruel? Or made a design that used markov chains?

        Again, reading comprehension doesn´t seem to be your strong suite. To quote myself:
        ” Not to mention that an objective nested hierarchy of similarities wouldn´t even be expected to begin with under “common design” because we don´t observe that for any class of artifacts, not for watches, not for computers, not for cars, nothing”

        Newflash, Andy: I wasn’t saying it was ‘useful’ for a scientist. Also newsflash? “It was undesigned!” is absolutely useless for a scientist too, since you’re then invoking chance and who knows what combination of (ultimately brute) facts in the process. As I said above – I am more than happy to acknowledge that beliefs about design or its lack are outside of science. For you to do that would be a blow to your poor ego.

        I really do wonder if you are consciously lying here or really think that I said or implied in any way that science can deal with meaningless Bullshit like “some unknown unknowns did something unknown for unknown reasons with unknown methods”.

        For it ‘not being your point’, you sure freak out as if I hit a sore spot by correcting you on this front. Either way, it looks like you learned something new here – so, you’re welcome.

        Nice try, for a lying little weasel.

        Your assumption would not predict something ‘completely different’, and your logic on that front is abysmal – but I’ve so far shown my patience in explaining these things to you. Once again, you’re welcome.

        Oh really? Please have a little more patience and instead of merely asserting your intellectual superiority, please, you know.. actually argue for the Bullshit you propose instead of merely asserting it?
        Specifically, where is my “abysmal logic” in pointing out that “common design” predicts nothing at all without further assumptions about the designers and something different from “common descent” if we assume that the designers work like humans, especially given that common descent predicts an objective nested hierarchies of similarities for the things it refers to while no class of human artifacts shows that?
        I´m sure that such a brilliant and patient man, who is totally not a lying scumbag could do me that favor.

        Your problem, Andy, is that you seem to think that if common descent is not accepted, then suddenly your techniques to investigate these questions will not work – or worse, that you cannot come up with some kind of ‘design model’ that matches the reasoning you’d see reflected in common descent,

        Stop weaseling. Answer my question above, if you are right, you would be able to actually finally provide at least some substance and explain how the fuck this is supposed to work instead of spewing this Bullshit ad nauseam. I´ve given you a specific example above, don´t just assert your BS – SHOW IT, explain how I could do my job with a “design model”.

        I keep telling you that I’m not a YEC, that I accept common descent

        Since I have no respect for your opinion, I literally could not care less whether you accept this or not.

        but you’re so wrapped up in your model that you don’t appreciate the availability of other models that can account for the same data.

        WHAT OTHER MODELS? You spend all this time spewing vague Bullshit with zero substance – there are other models? Cool! WHERE ARE THEY? How do I use them? Give one fucking example of how I am supposed to do my job with those alleged “other models”.

    • Anonymous says :

      This reads a bit close minded. I wasn’t homeschooled. But I would wager that homeschooled kids typically run circles around public school kids.
      “I’m catholic…buuuuuuuut”.

      This reads like “Christian guilt”.

  7. ken says :

    “As a side note, I don’t believe that wild capitalism is such a great promoter of science as Nye seems to believe.”

    You have it backwords, Nye wasn’t saying that capitalism drives science (although, there is some of that), he was saying that science drives capitalism. Scientific advances produce technology (computers, communication networks, smart phones, LCD TVs etc) that in turn create huge consumer demand and drive the economy.

    • Mike Gantt says :

      Too bad Newton, Faraday, Pasteur and others were believers. If only they had denied the presence of a Creator behind it all, they might have done something useful in the field of science.

  8. Mike Gantt says :

    Try reading “Naturalism is stopping more science today than fundamentalism”: buff.ly/M5dvff

    • Andy Schueler says :

      ??? This post merely asserts that naturalism is stopping science without giving anything even remotely resembling an argument for this. Pray tell, which experiment was ever “stopped by naturalism” in the history of mankind, the post you linked to certainly does not.

      • Mike Gantt says :

        Naturalism is a religious mindset. It just happens to be a way of thinking that rejects religion rather than embracing it. That is, it’s a mindset that turns on religion. A truly scientific mind would say, “I am willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads.” That could mean atheism or it could mean theism. But if you say “There’s no room for theism in science,” then you are rooted in naturalism (or, some would say, scientism) and not science.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        Naturalism is a religious mindset.

        Not for any established definition of “religion”. Also irrelevant since science does not rely on philosophical naturalism. The naturalism that is relevant for science is methodological naturalism. And methodological naturalism is nothing but a philosophical requirement for your scientific research to have any value – it´s not a philosophical position that says that there are no gods or nothing supernatural at all, it is completely agnostic about that. All it says is that there are no Gods, Ghosts, Fairies or whatever that mess up your experiments in unpredictable ways. That´s why all scientists, including muslim, hindu, jewish or christian scientists, adopt this stance, it says nothing about whether their religious beliefs are true or not, it merely assumes that their experimental results are meaningful because no demon (for example) played a prank on them by messing with their experimental design in undetectable and unpredictable ways.

        A truly scientific mind would say, “I am willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads.”

        Yes, and that´s what scientists do.

        That could mean atheism or it could mean theism. But if you say “There’s no room for theism in science,”

        There are plenty of scientists that happen to be theists (actually the majority of them in most countries). And there are plenty of claims derived from a theistic framework that were tested by scientists, that´s why we can say that creationism has been scientifically disproven for example.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        By “creationism” I mean all the literalist approaches to Genesis, whether 100% hyperliteral young earth creationism or the various forms of old earth creationism. Disproving “creation” in the most general sense possible – that an unknown number of unknown “designers” did something unknown at an unknown point in time for unknown reasons which is in unknown ways related to the origin of our universe – obviously cannot be scientifically disproven, since it is so vague that it is trivially compatible with every conceivable observation.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        You can answer the question yourself – try to enumerate all hypothetical observations that would be incompatible with this claim. If you can´t come up with any, than it is for scientific purposes as vague as a claim could conceivably be – no observation could support or refute it.

        • Mike Gantt says :

          Good. I thought for a moment that you were trying to say science had disproven it.

          • Andy Schueler says :

            Of course not. That would be just as nonsensical as saying that “science has disproven that Zeus is the God of Thunder” – as long as you don´t define what *exactly* that is supposed to mean, it is trivially compatible with every conceivable observation and can be neither scientifically refuted nor supported in any way.

          • Mike Gantt says :

            Just goes to show the limitations of science.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        Oh science certainly has limitations, but I wouldn´t count the inability to evaluate meaningless propositions to be among those.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        I have no commitment to naturalism.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        You seem to like making stuff up about people. I can play along if you like and start making stuff up about you, but it seems to be rather childish to me.

        • Mike Gantt says :

          I’m just reporting what I’m observing.

          In your statements, you go beyond the things a scientist would say and make judgments about potential nonmaterial realities – such as the innuendo present in a phrase like “no Gods, Ghosts, Fairies or whatever.”

      • Andy Schueler says :

        I’m just reporting what I’m observing.

        Oh really? Then by all means, where did you observe my alleged “commitment to naturalism”?

        In your statements, you go beyond the things a scientist would say

        I am absolutely certain that this is not true. Because I am a scientist.

        and make judgments about potential nonmaterial realities – such as the innuendo present in a phrase like “no Gods, Ghosts, Fairies or whatever.”

        Just to be certain that I am not mistaken about the various meanings of the word “judgments”, I looked it up in the dictionary, and for no accepted meaning of the word “judgment” would it make any sense whatsoever to claim that I “made judgments about potential nonmaterial realities” here.

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