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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

Wesley R. Elsberry's blog

How Old Is The Earth? Answers from IDC Advocates

The Kansas State Board of Education held "unofficial" hearings in 2005 to decide between the antievolution-influenced rewrite of proposed state science standards and those developed by the writing committee. They brought in over twenty "experts" in "intelligent design" creationism to testify. Attorney Pedro Irigonegray asked many of them to give their opinion of how old the earth is. Their answers are instructive.

William Harris:
Q. Sir, I have only a few questions for you. As it was stated earlier, my name is Pedro Irigonegaray, I represent the majority. You've told us a little bit about your beliefs and your opinions and how you came to those. I'd like to ask you for the record, first, can you tell us how old you believe the earth is?

Sequences and Common Descent

How We Can Trace Ancestry Through Genetics

By Wesley R. Elsberry
Last updated: 990425

If you think you've found a problem in the following, please email me at welsberr at inia dot cls dot org.  Organismal biology is my field, so I'd appreciate feedback from molecular biologists.

Some anti-evolutionists claim that sequence data from proteins and genetics disprove the idea of common descent. Because humans evolved from primates, who evolved from other mammals, who evolved from reptiles, who evolved from amphibians, who evolved from fish, etc. back to bacteria, then supporting data from sequence studies should show greater differences between humans and bacteria than between fish and bacteria, according to those anti-evolutionists.
 

Erroneous Views of Sequence Data IMG

The data from sequencing the cytochrome-c protein across a few modern species shows that the pattern of differences does not fit that view. Instead, virtually the same distance from the sequence in modern bacteria exists to all modern metazoans.  The anti-evolutionists would like you to believe that this poses a problem for the theory of common descent.  I will endeavor to explain why they are mistaken.

Criticism of Dembski's "Explanatory Filter": Vindicated

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I’ve been saying that there were problems in William Dembski’s “explanatory filter” for a long, long time. Dembski has finally admitted that was the case.

At the February 1997 NTSE conference, when I brought up the “traveling salesman problem” solved by genetic algorithm as an example that countered Dembski’s EF, he responded that his logic was sound and his premises were true, therefore his conclusion followed. Dembski in that instant dismissed empirical data as having any bearing on his work. It only took the better part of twelve years for Dembski to repudiate the soundness of his logic presented then.

Typing Monkeys: History of an Idea

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by Wesley R. Elsberry

1999/11/01

It is difficult to find the originators of certain concepts which
pass quickly into general use. The analogy of monkeys typing
at random on typewriters and eventually reproducing copies of
literary works is one such concept.

In tracking down who might have originated the concept, we will
find people who definitely use or reference it, as well as variants
of how it is expressed. We will also explore limitations upon
who might have originated the concept or when the concept might
reasonably have been first told to a general audience.

Florida: Open Letter on Learning from History

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The "academic freedom" and "critical analysis" bills currently being considered by the Florida legislature are old stratagems borrowed from antievolution efforts in other states. Ronda Storms and Alan Hays have been asked whether "intelligent design" could be taught in science classrooms. Storms and Hays steadfastly refuse to answer the question posed. You have to look at what has been done in the name of narrow religious antievolution and not what is said.

Iowa State Board of Regents Turns Down Tenure Appeal

It is a small news item, but astronomer and Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Guillermo Gonzalez had an appeal before the Iowa State Board of Regents asking them to overturn Iowa State University's decision not to grant him tenure. The vote came down 7-1 confirming Iowa State's decision.

Gonzalez is one of three people featured in the forthcoming film, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed". That film has Ben Stein in the unenviable position of trying to convince everyone that there is something sinister about the fact that someone whose publication output and research funding suffers because he's spending his time promoting "intelligent design" creationism got denied tenure.

Barbara Forrest Speaks Out on Texas Education Agency Actions

Professor Barbara Forrest of South Eastern Louisiana University wrote a strong statement concerning recent actions of the Texas Education Agency in forcing the resignation of director of science curricula Chris Comer.

Forrest concludes,

The incident now involving Ms. Comer exemplifies perfectly the reason my co-author Paul R. Gross and I felt that our book, Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, had to be written. (http://www.creationismstrojanhorse.com) By forcing Ms. Comer to resign, the TEA seems to have confirmed our contention that the ID creationist movement -- a religious movement with absolutely no standing in the scientific world -- is being advanced by means of power politics. In December 2005, Judge John E. Jones III validated our contention that ID is creationism, thus a religious belief, when he ruled in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/kitzmiller_342.pdf) that the teaching of ID in public school science classes is unconstitutional. Judge Jones recognized that ID has nothing whatsoever to do with science; its proponents are merely using public education -- the public education of other people's children -- as the vehicle for their plan to undermine the teaching of evolution.

The one thing that should not be forgotten in this episode is that Ms. Comer herself has been injured, and Texas children have lost a valuable advocate for quality science education. I regret deeply that the TEA chose to use my work as an excuse to hurt Ms. Comer. Even more, I am incensed by it. However, what happened to her may be just the tip of the iceberg. This country has reached a sorry state of affairs when one of the largest, most prominent departments of education in the country fires a public servant for doing her job. But while I regret that the information I related in my presentation in Austin and in my book has been confirmed in such a sad way, my co-author and I have every intention of continuing our efforts as scholars and citizens to inform the American people about the threat that the intelligent design creationist movement continues to pose to public education and to the constitutional separation of church and state.

Viewpoints on Evolution, Creation, and Origins

(This essay was originally posted around 1998.)

People have different opinions.  The issue of origins and evolution is no different in having a wide range of opinions expressed.  I want to introduce you to how I classify this diversity of opinion in a fairly simple classification scheme.  Here comes a Venn diagram to help illustrate things:


E stands for those who accept evolutionary change in the sense of common descent of life on earth.
C stands for those who believe in a creator.
A stands for those who reject evolutionary change or evolutionary mechanisms.
S stands for "scripturalists", who base their beliefs upon their interpretation of some text they hold sacred.

This gives me six categories to explain.  Some of them may appear inconsistent at first glance, but I hope to convince you that there really people who occupy each of the categories.

Change in Appearance

I ran into a problem with some of the options for user permissions. One thing led to another, and I ended up having to upgrade the CMS software in order to get back to a functioning permissions system. That, unfortunately, meant that the old theme no longer worked. So I'm back to the "Pushbutton" theme with a small tweak until I can get some time to consider Drupal 4.7 themes.

If someone already knows their way around the Drupal 4.7 theming system and would like to contribute a 3-column theme for AE or a 2-column theme for TalkDesign, let me know.

The Templeton Foundation Distances Itself from "Intelligent Design"

The Templeton Foundation, the deep pockets people for science and religion studies, says that its stance has been misconstrued on "intelligent design" in letters to the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street journal.

Pamela Thompson, Templeton Foundation spokesperson, says in her letter to the LA Times:

We do not believe that the science underpinning the intelligent-design movement is sound, we do not support research or programs that deny large areas of well-documented scientific knowledge, and the foundation is a nonpolitical entity and does not engage in or support political movements.

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