Ann Coulter on Evolution: Part 1

Today at the bookstore I saw that Coulter’s book, Godless was marked 30% off and I decided to buy it. I’ve skipped the first 7 chapters as those arguments bore me (as is true of Coulter in general). But chapter 8….chapter 8 is very good, if you like looking at train wrecks that is. It is simply astonishing that somebody as intelligent as Ann Coulter is so damn ignorant. Right off the bat Coulter manages a nice bit of misdirection,

We wouldn’t still be talking about it but for the fact that liberals think that evolution disproves God. [page 199]

Evolution says nothing about the existence of God. Liberals like P.Z. Myers have acknowledged this view of evolution (i.e. it is silent on the question of God’s existence), so this is basically a bald faced lie to her readers, IMO. This is one of the oldest Creationist arguments against evolution: accept evolution and you have to accept atheism. The simple fact here is that this is patently untrue. To see that this is the case we need look not further that two sentences ahead in Coulter’s screed,

God has performed more spectacular feats than evolution.

Okay, lets accept this on faith, like a religious person would do, then it is entirely possible that God is working in ways that we can’t comprehend and that could very well mean via evolutionary processes and/or that evolutionary processes are true, and that the hand of God is not going to be found in the E. coli flagellum.

A little bit later on Coulter flips back the curtain for a quick glimpse of the falsehood that she is building with this book,

Although God believers don’t need evolution to be false, atheists need evolution to be true. [pages 199-200]

My, my what is this? People who believe in God needn’t be threatened by evolutionary theory?!?!?! What is going on here? Is Coulter slipping here? And note that it isn’t merely liberals who need evolution to be true, but actually atheists. News Flash for Ann ‘Dimwit’ Coulter and her lickspittle lackys: being and athiest does not make on a liberal. I expect that last will send some commenters into a full spittle flying spectacle of outrage. “No, no, no Steve!! You fool, of course all atheists are liberals!!” Ummmm, no. They aren’t.

And then Coulter dives right back in showing her scientific ignorance,

Just to clean the palate fo a century of evolutionists’ browbeating everyone into saying evolution is a FACT and we’ll see you in court if you criticize the state religion,…[page 201]

But evolution is a fact. Lets run over to the dictionary; the first definition is,

A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form. See Synonyms at development.

The first definition is how we get to evolution being a fact. Organisms do change over time. In fact, Coulter must have realized she couldn’t hold the view that organisms don’t change because on 202 she backtracks and writes,

Evolution is not selective breeding, which procduces thoroughbred horses, pedigreed dogs, colored cotton and so on. Evolution is not the capacity of bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance, but which never evolves into anything but more bacteria. Evolution is not the phenomenon of an existing species changing over the course of may years-for example, of Frenchmen becoming shorter during the Napoleonic era or Asians becoming taller after immigratin to North America. In fact, evolution is not adaptive characteristics developing with a species at all. Darwin’s theory says we get new species, not a taller version of the same species. Evolutionists call such adaptations “microevolution” only to confuse people. [page 202]

So what do we call this kind of evolution? Certainly not evolution because that really isn’t evolution (and would somebody please purge the liberals at Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary before they do even more damage). Nope these changes are not evolution, that is too fanch-schmancy, and once we accept that these changes could happen and that there is a scientifically valid explanation why we might end up looking for a scientifically valid explanation for speciation events…and we can’t have that because Ann Coulter’s faith is incredibly weak.

Of course, microevolution is what biologists refer to as changes in organisms below the level of species. Macroevolution is change in organisms at or above the species level. But here is the real kicker that one couldn’t get from simply reading the bilge pumped out by Coulter, the process that lead to macroevolution are precisely the same processes that drive microevolution. In other words, if you accept microevolution, which looks like Coulter does, then you accept macroevolution in that there is no difference except the degree of change. For example, suppose we have an organism and part of the population is isolated for some reason (e.g. continental drift) and on part of the species gets bigger while the other does not change. Then we have a speciation event if the bigger species is (generally) not capable of producing fertile offspring with the smaller original species.

Coulter also does the old schtick of “it is all so amazingly unlikely it is therefore impossible!”

Which is to say evolution is the eminently plausible theory that the human eye, the complete works of Shakespeare, and Ronald Reagan (among other things) all came into existence purely by accident.

To see that this kind of reasoning is false, suppose you have to flip a coin 1,000 times and record the sequence of heads and tails, and call this sequence S. What is the probabiltiy of getting S? 1/(21,000). Go ahead, open up Excel and see what happens when you type that in. You should get the number 9.3326E-302, which is to say you first have zero, then the decimal point, then 301 more zeroes then 9. A really, really, really small number. So amazingly small it couldn’t happen, so you really didn’t just sit there and flip a coin 1,000 times and don’t show me the data that you did. I don’t care if you have video tape showing you did it, Ann Coulter says you didn’t and that is good enough for me.

So in just 3.5 pages Ann Coulter has managed to tell the entire world what a complete ignoramus she is when it comes to logical thinking, basic reasoning, and scientific knowledge (grade school scientific knowledge mind you, not cutting edge molecular biology). And given all this Ann Coulter writes that evolutionary theory has all the scientific rigour of Scientology. Of course, given this we can only assume that Ann Coulter is as addle-brained as your typical Scientologist.

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology, US Politics, , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. Why on earth are you so apparently surprised that Ann Coulter misrepresents the opposing side of her argument? She is the world’s master (or mistress?) at setting up and knocking down straw men.

    She long ago became an entry on my list of people I will never pay attention to again.

  2. legion says:

    Steve, I’m so disappointed. You actually gave up money for that tripe? Even at 95% off, you (and the world) would be better served spending the extra gas money to go to the library to flip through her crap.

    Ans you wouldn’t have the added embarrassment of actually owning a copy of your own (shudder).

  3. madmatt says:

    Even the catholic shurch believes in evolution and they are notoriously backwards!

  4. Steve,

    You’re assuming that Coulter actually believes what she’s writing. I’m beginning to thing the whole thing is an act.

  5. DavidV says:

    Of course, microevolution is what biologists refer to as changes in organisms below the level of species. Macroevolution is change in organisms at or above the species level. But here is the real kicker that one couldn’t get from simply reading the bilge pumped out by Coulter, the process that lead to macroevolution are precisely the same processes that drive microevolution. In other words, if you accept microevolution, which looks like Coulter does, then you accept macroevolution in that there is no difference except the degree of change. For example, suppose we have an organism and part of the population is isolated for some reason (e.g. continental drift) and on part of the species gets bigger while the other does not change. Then we have a speciation event if the bigger species is (generally) not capable of producing fertile offspring with the smaller original species.

    The distinction between micro- and macroevolution as I understand it is that microevolution involves changes that occur within the species’ prexisting genetic code, while macroevolution requires the addition of genetic material.

    In other words, the “smaller” species you mention already has the necessary genetic coding in its DNA to become larger, given the proper environmental stimulus. However, it does not have the genetic coding for macroevolution such as, say, growing wings.

    The addition of genetic material in anything other than a harmful mutation is a major biological threshold and one that has not been replicated by any scientific experiment, as far as I am aware.

  6. Scom says:

    @ Doug Matacontis

    Macro and micro- evolution can both refer to changes in the genotype (genetics) of an organism. Any sort of genetic change can be classified as micro-evolution if it does not result in speciation (or examine changes above the species level).

    For example dogs have evolved into all sorts of different types (small, big, brown, black), while each difference between dogs could have resulted from a change either through new DNA or altered expression of DNA (how existing genes affect what the animal looks like) they are both considered micro-evolution because all dogs can mate with eachother and hence are members of the same species. As a counter-example chimps and humans share alot of DNA (98%) but cannot mate and therefore changes that have occured between the chimp/human common ancestor and today’s humans and chimps can be considered macro-evolution.

    I have much simplified the macro/micro definitions but this should point you in the right direction.

  7. DavidV says:

    Scom: I assume your comment was directed at me, though you addressed it to Doug.

    I have heard the difference between microevolution and macroevolution explained in terms of changes to the genotype, as I said above, but perhaps that is a more colloquial definition. Regardless, my central point still stands, I believe:

    Speciation requires the addition of genetic material to the genotype. That is a significantly higher threshold of change than mere changes in allele frequencies, as required in microevolution. Furthermore, science has yet to show an example of beneficial genetic mutation of the sort required for macroevolution. (I realize the last bit is debatable, but I think it is valid if we define beneficial as “Conducive to long-term survival.”)

  8. “As a counter-example chimps and humans share alot of DNA (98%) but cannot mate”

    But it’s still fun to try!

  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Hey Verdon, if you think she is an ignoramus, debate her, don’t take the obviously cowardly way and back stab her when she is not there to defend herself or her opinion. I think you like backstabbing and other cowardly behavior. Ann is probably smarter than you will ever be.

  10. Anderson says:

    Steve, it’s a good bet that Coulter proved the only point she really cares about when you bought her book.

    Hey Verdon, if you think she is an ignoramus, debate her, don’t take the obviously cowardly way and back stab her when she is not there to defend herself or her opinion.

    Breathtaking, Zelsdorf, just breathtaking. No criticism of anyone unless it’s in direct debate? Red America is becoming clearer to me now.

  11. Herb says:

    Anyone can read a book and arrive at any conclusion they seek depending on their conclusion at the start.

    JJ:

    I was under the impression from your piece the other day that a degree of civility was going to be the criterion on your blog, OTB. Or, does that go only for those who make comments ?

    Calling someone a “dimwit” and their followers “lickspittle Lackeys” seems to be a personal attack on Ann Coulter and those who read and agree with her philosophy.

  12. Wayne says:

    Steve

    There are many things I do not agree with Ann on and you pick the chapter I had the most problem with. However, you were so busy throwing personal insult at Ann that you made many fallacies and misrepresented many statements yourself.

    You made wide judgments about her entire book while admitting you only read one chapter not to mention judging Ann herself. “quick glimpse of the falsehood that she is building with this book,” . “So in just 3.5 pages Ann Coulter has managed to tell the entire world what a complete ignoramus she is”

    Ann makes argument that evolution does not disprove god but many liberals think it does. You make the same argument except that you replace liberals with “People who believe in God”. Most of the strongly opinionated people I have met on both side to seem to believe “that evolution would disprove god”. Most of the rest of use do not agree but it doesn’t change the fact that many do.

    What part of the statement “Although God believers don’t need evolution to be false, atheists need evolution to be true.” says that all atheists are liberals? You pull that out of your own prejudices. Now an atheist does not believe in a Devine entity so for their thought to be true they would need evolution or something similar to explain the world.

    Not only do you commit common fallacy like “ad hominem” but also “equivocation”. You take the word evolution and use the different meanings of it to distort what Ann said. It is obvious when she talks about evolution she means the “theory” of evolution that state among other things that man evolve over time from a single cell organism. She is not talking about microevolution, evolution of basketball or anything else. To say since there was an evolution in basketball that evolution exist therefore the theory of evolution is correct is faulty logic.

    The theory of evolution is exactly that. A theory. It has not been proven as scientific fact. . I personally believe that the truth is something similar to evolution but not exactly the current theory of evolution.

    But go ahead and go back to personal insults to prove how logical you are.

  13. DavidV says:

    don’t take the obviously cowardly way and back stab her when she is not there to defend herself or her opinion.

    While I disagree with Steve’s position on evolution, this standard would pretty much destroy all commentary, online or in print. To take an extreme example, we would never be able to criticize the 9/11 bombers, because they’re not here to defend their actions. When someone offers a public argument, it is reasonable for those who disagree to offer rebuttals.

  14. Anderson says:

    Anyone can read a book and arrive at any conclusion they seek depending on their conclusion at the start.

    Indeed anyone can. Or, like Steve, they can support their conclusion by quoting the book itself and demonstrating that their conclusion is correct.

    Glad to see, however, that Herb is now promoting civility.

  15. Anderson says:

    The theory of evolution is exactly that. A theory. It has not been proven as scientific fact.

    Wayne, all you’ve proved is that you don’t understand the words “theory” and “fact” as they are used in science. Browse around talkorigins.org, or just click here, and you will be enlightened.

  16. Herb says:

    Quoting a chapter of a book is not the same as quoting the entire book. Anyone can take a quote, sentence, paragraph or a chapter of a book and make something out of it to support ones viewpoint. Anyone with any degree of thought can not dispute that point. There are those, however who make a specialty of that practice.

    As far as civility is concerned, I have always thought “That what goes around, comes around” and everyone has witnessed some who make a lot “go around”, but criticize those who make things “come around”.

  17. Wayne says:

    Anderson
    According to your link here are a couple key statements.

    “Biologists consider the existence of biological evolution to be a fact”
    “Gould is stating the prevailing view of the scientific community. In other words, the experts on evolution consider it to be a fact”

    The key words are “consider” which falls into the assumption category. In math and science there is almost always a assumption of something being fact so that one can skip to higher thought instead of proving assumptions all they time. However there are times when assumption is wrong.

    Biologists have not been able to prove the theory of evolution by using scientific standard for facts. In science ‘fact’ is an objective and verifiable observation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact. However to further their studys they consider the theory as fact. Otherwise they all would be stuck on proving the premis instead of furthering their studies. There are facts that support their theory but they have not been able to prove it by actually observing evoultion and having others verify it.

  18. Wayne says:

    Another thing. Many experts in the sciencetology or whatever it is call consider their ideas to be fact. They are wrong to

  19. Bithead says:

    Evolution says nothing about the existence of God.

    True.

    But in my experience that has not even slowed down those arguing against the existence of God from using it as a prop.

  20. Anderson says:

    Okay, Wayne, I am not familiar with you & you may be a person of good faith, so here goes.

    The key words are “consider” which falls into the assumption category.

    No. That is not a term of art. Scientists consider evolution a fact because it is their considered opinion. If you knew anything about the subject, you would know this.

    Biologists have not been able to prove the theory of evolution by using scientific standard for facts.

    No. You do not understand what the so called standard is. Evolution, & in particular natural selection, is massively confirmed. Read around talkorigins.org or pick up a book like Mayr, What Evolution Is. There is literally no scientific rival to natural selection.

  21. Kent G. Budge says:

    Steve, you know I’m not much of a Coulter fan, nor am I a Creationist. But it has to be admitted that there is a grain of truth in the statement:

    We wouldn’t still be talking about it but for the fact that liberals think that evolution disproves God.

    Not, not all liberals believe that. But some clearly do, and have tried to employ evolution as a blunt political weapon.

    From there she goes off the rails, I agree.

  22. Steve Verdon says:

    Anderson,

    Steve, it’s a good bet that Coulter proved the only point she really cares about when you bought her book.

    Yes, I know, I put a few bucks in her pocket I know. Still I felt if I am going to really have any standing in calling her a stupid idiot then I at least should read the sections of the book that are related to it. I could have driven over to the public library and waited to get my hands on the copy they have, but I grew impatient.

    Wayne,

    There are many things I do not agree with Ann on and you pick the chapter I had the most problem with. However, you were so busy throwing personal insult at Ann that you made many fallacies and misrepresented many statements yourself.

    Guilty…at least of hurling insults at Coulter. They aren’t fallacies though as they are true. Calling a liar a liar isn’t an ad hominem.

    You made wide judgments about her entire book while admitting you only read one chapter not to mention judging Ann herself. “quick glimpse of the falsehood that she is building with this book,” . “So in just 3.5 pages Ann Coulter has managed to tell the entire world what a complete ignoramus she is”

    Yep, chapter 8 and likely 9 as well, are two of the chapters and a central part of her thesis. Without them, the thesis is severely weakened. The main arguments of the other chapters may still hold, but the idea that liberalism is a religion falls apart without all of her arguments being true. Hence the claim of the book is false. Ann is such an expert on irreducible complexity, I’m sure she could explain this just as easily.

    Ann makes argument that evolution does not disprove god but many liberals think it does. You make the same argument except that you replace liberals with “People who believe in God”. Most of the strongly opinionated people I have met on both side to seem to believe “that evolution would disprove god”. Most of the rest of use do not agree but it doesn’t change the fact that many do.

    Uhhhm, in a word no. Coulter’s argument is that all liberals (who are are also atheists) think that evolutionary theory disproves God. Your recasting of it in a slightly less extreme form is actually a misrepresentation of Coulter’s work…something you accuse me of. Most amusing, I must say.

    What part of the statement “Although God believers don’t need evolution to be false, atheists need evolution to be true.” says that all atheists are liberals?

    But that is exactly the kind of conflation that Coulter is trying to pull off. She uses atheist and liberal virtually interchangably. She is trying to give support to the identity,

    Athiest == Liberal.

    This is patently false, but she doesn’t even begin to delve into the distinction in that some conservatives are atheists (I linked to two) and that some liberals are devoutly religious. She is painting with an overly large brush and doing so on purpose.

    Not only do you commit common fallacy like “ad hominem” but also “equivocation”. You take the word evolution and use the different meanings of it to distort what Ann said.

    Actually, no this is the problem Coulter has. I regard evolution as a fact and evolutionary theory as “only a theory”. She eventually backtracks on the view that evolution is not a fact because she knows it is not supportable and then comes out with the evolution is a fact, but evolutionary theory why it is worse than Scientology. Of course, she doesn’t tell the reader this. Nope she is too busy trying to sound like H. L. Mencken and failing miserably.

    The theory of evolution is exactly that. A theory. It has not been proven as scientific fact. . I personally believe that the truth is something similar to evolution but not exactly the current theory of evolution.

    But go ahead and go back to personal insults to prove how logical you are.

    Evolution is a fact, evolutionary theory is “just a theory”. Please try to keep this in mind.

    Wayne again,

    Biologists have not been able to prove the theory of evolution by using scientific standard for facts. In science ‘fact’ is an objective and verifiable observation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact. However to further their studys they consider the theory as fact. Otherwise they all would be stuck on proving the premis instead of furthering their studies. There are facts that support their theory but they have not been able to prove it by actually observing evoultion and having others verify it.

    In about 5 years you might have the basics of the philosophy of science down. Right now, you aren’t doing too good. The above is true, but part of those “obejective observations”–i.e. facts–are that organisms change. You have changed genetically from the day you were born. Random mutations are ubiquitous with most mutations being neither beneficial nor malignant. Consider that you have a population of over 6.5 billion people and suddenly the idea that beneficial mutations taken over a long period of time might go from being really small to pretty damn likely.

    Here is another less controversial example, Wayne. What would you say if a person one a lottery three times? Impossible? She cheated? Consider how many states have lotteries and how many people play and how many years they have been playing. Looking at the probability in this case is far, far from sufficient. Given enough trials and something highly unlikely becomes very likely.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12609491/

    The fact is that organisms evolve. The theory that explains these observed facts is the Theory of Evolution or evolutionary theory. This distinction is importatn to always keep in mind. Why? Because the theory of evolution covers both microevolution and macroevoltion, and as I’ve already noted, the same processes are largely at work in both cases. Accepting one is tantamount to accepting the other. But Coulter doesn’t do that, and is trying very hard to mislead her readers into doing the same thing.

    Kent,

    Not, not all liberals believe that. But some clearly do, and have tried to employ evolution as a blunt political weapon.

    From there she goes off the rails, I agree.

    I totally agree and that is part of my beef with the anti-Creationis/Evolution crowd.

  23. Herb says:

    Wow:

    What a diatribe after only reading one chapter. I guess there is no limit to how far one will go to prove that theory is fact. Perhaps another post would be more appropriate.

  24. Anderson says:

    Steve, when you say that evolution by natural selection is “only a theory,” do you mean that the same way that Einstein’s theory of relativity is “only a theory”?

    The “only a theory” tag is unfortunately misleading to those unfamiliar with the different uses of the word “theory” in science.

    If there’s any serious rival to natural selection, I would like to hear about it.

  25. Steve Verdon says:

    Anderson,

    Yes.

    Herb,

    One can never prove a theory. Facts however are what are used to evaluate the efficacy of a given theory.

  26. Wayne says:

    Steve and Anderson

    Using the fallacy of “you are an idiot if you do not agree with me” does not convince anyone of your point of view. Only how close-minded the talker is. Wait I meant hardly anyone. I do not want to be caught up in over generalization as you both and Ann has done. I sure Ann knows that not all atheist are liberal just most and most people recognize when over-generalizations occurs. Disproving over-generalizations doesn’t disprove the overall statement.

    Once again certain types of evolutions have been proven but that doesn’t mean all types of evolutions has. Microevolution has but macro has not. A new species has never been observed sprouting into this world. Many in the field believe it to be fact but that does not qualify it as filling the requirement to be scientific fact.

    Yes 6.5 millions years is a long time. However using fossils records, the gradual mutation does not fly. The time frame between species is usually very abrupt. Now there are theories out there to try to explain this but it contradicts the gradual evolution concept. I have my own theories too but then again it just is that theories.

    Anderson, just because someone does not have a better explanation of an event doe not mean the original explanation is true. There several possibilities that I could explain but won’t go into details due to time that would explain the physical facts then again I believe in some sort of evolution but realize I could be wrong.

    I realize that many people egos have a hard time accepting that what they believe in as being true could only be theories or it is possibility that they are wrong. I am not one.

    Yes Einstein’s theory of relativity is “only a theory”. Most do not even understand what Einstein actually said and that it has been modified over time. There are discussions boards out there if anyone wants to go into details about it.

  27. Steve Verdon says:

    Wayne,

    Using the fallacy of “you are an idiot if you do not agree with me” does not convince anyone of your point of view.

    Precisely where have I used this argument?

    I do not want to be caught up in over generalization as you both and Ann has done. I sure Ann knows that not all atheist are liberal just most and most people recognize when over-generalizations occurs. Disproving over-generalizations doesn’t disprove the overall statement.

    This is just ridiculous. Where have I over-generalized in this post or comments?

    Once again certain types of evolutions have been proven but that doesn’t mean all types of evolutions has. Microevolution has but macro has not.

    Bullshit. There are quite a few examples of speciation that have been observed in both the laboratory and in the field. Seriously go over to http://www.talkorigins.org and read about them.

    A new species has never been observed sprouting into this world.

    This is completely and totally false.

    Yes 6.5 millions years is a long time. However using fossils records, the gradual mutation does not fly.

    Oh really? How many fossils have you looked at? Have you seen this?

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/images/jaws1.gif

    That is a picture of the jaws early synapsids to early mammals. There is a clear progression in the fossil record. Note also that when looking for these fossils they have to be in the right strata, geologically speaking, geographically in the right spot, and so forth. You can read about the reptile-mammal transition here.

    You are quite simply and unequivocally wrong on this.

    The time frame between species is usually very abrupt.

    Also wrong. The fossils at the above link go from the Carboniferious to the Jurassic. So we went from about 300 million years ago to 200 million years ago, or a change of 100 million years. You are off by more than an order of magnitude.

    Now there are theories out there to try to explain this but it contradicts the gradual evolution concept.

    Ahhh yes, let me take a guess here, you are referring to punctuated equilibrium. Sorry, this idea that punc. eq. implies quick transitions is simply false.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/feedback/jul04.html

    Anderson, just because someone does not have a better explanation of an event doe not mean the original explanation is true.

    Unless I missed something Anderson never made any such implication. Further, let me add that no theory is ever True (note the capital T there). All (dominant) theories are considered provisionally (or conditionally) true. Hence if you want to disprove evolutionary theory, simply pointing to “problems with the theory” wont suffice, you need to provide an alternate and better explanation.

    I realize that many people egos have a hard time accepting that what they believe in as being true could only be theories or it is possibility that they are wrong.

    Please, all theories are ultimately, in some small way at least, are wrong. I should think that most scientists are aware of this. However, science is conservative in that it takes data, sometimes quite a bit of it, to repudiate the dominant theory and usher in a new theory.

    Most do not even understand what Einstein actually said and that it has been modified over time. There are discussions boards out there if anyone wants to go into details about it.

    And this is absulute true of evolution as well. Heck your comments indicate that you do not understand evolutionary theory all that well yourself. This is what is tripping you up here.

  28. Herb says:

    Where did my comment go that came right after Mr Verdons “Explanation” ?

    It was there because I checked an hour after I made the comment.

    Are we practicing “Censorship” now ?

  29. Wayne says:

    Steve

    You said to me “In about 5 years you might have the basics of the philosophy of science down. Right now, you aren’t doing too good.” And “Heck your comments indicate that you do not understand evolutionary theory all that well yourself”. That is an obvious attempt to insult my intelligence and has nothing to do with underlying arguments.

    “This is one of the oldest Creationist arguments against evolution: accept evolution and you have to accept atheism”. Over- generalization, Not all creationist believe that.

    Anderson posted” If there’s any serious rival to natural selection, I would like to I would like to hear about it.” Which seems to imply that if there is not it must be true. Granted I may have his intention wrong.

    How many fossils have you seen? If I have seen more does that mean I am right? Please.

    You keep using the same link that is obvious bias against those that question “Theory of evolution”. Try finding some more. When I have more time I give you more references, especially on the evolutionary leaps I was talking about. I surprise you have not heard of that. Got to go.

  30. Anderson says:

    That is an obvious attempt to insult my intelligence and has nothing to do with underlying arguments.

    Sorry Wayne, it’s your underlying arguments that are being insulted, not your intelligence.

    As for your “leaps” argument, are you talking about punctuated equilibrium, perhaps?

    As for talkorigins.org, they are not “prejudiced” in favor of evolution. A prejudice is a belief arrived at without proper deliberation. Thousands if not millions of scientists have studied evolution by natural selection and are agreed that it is the only plausible theory for the origin of species and the diversity of living things.

    That incidentally distinguishes your Scientology comparison. Proclaiming oneself an expert is one thing; getting a Ph.D. and publishing in a field is another thing altogether.

    Now, what books on evolution have you read? Mine are Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker; Mayr, What Evolution Is; Maynard Smith, The Theory of Evolution; Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. The Dennett and Dawkins may be the friendliest to pick up; Mayr’s is written for biology majors, whatever the cover may say. If you haven’t read a book explaining evolution & natural selection, pick one up and give it a go. You may have the same reaction as T.H. Huxley did after reading Darwin: “How extremely stupid of me not to have thought of that.”

  31. Steve Verdon says:

    You said to me “In about 5 years you might have the basics of the philosophy of science down. Right now, you aren’t doing too good.” And “Heck your comments indicate that you do not understand evolutionary theory all that well yourself”. That is an obvious attempt to insult my intelligence and has nothing to do with underlying arguments.

    No way, pointing out your ignorance of these topics was not meant to be an insult. Seriously, you have the beginings of understanding when it comes to philosophy of science and evolutionary theory. Jettison the creationist stuff you’ve bought into, read through Talk Origin’s site, and maybe look into Ken Miller’s book, Finding Darwin’s God as well as some stuff on philosophy of science.

    “This is one of the oldest Creationist arguments against evolution: accept evolution and you have to accept atheism”. Over- generalization, Not all creationist believe that.

    I didn’t say all creationists believe this. Really. I merely noted that it was one of the oldest creationists arguments. And it is one that Coulter is trying to make. Hell, it is the basic premise of her entire book.

    Anderson posted” If there’s any serious rival to natural selection, I would like to I would like to hear about it.” Which seems to imply that if there is not it must be true. Granted I may have his intention wrong.

    Sigh

    Sigh

    One more time. Simply “punching holes” in the current dominant theory is insufficient. You need to come up with something that fills the void. This is how science works. First there was Ptolemy’s theory on planetary motion, then Copernicus, Kepler, and so on. Each one was an improvement on the other. See this post here.

    That gives you an idea of how things work from a real philosopher of science.

    How many fossils have you seen? If I have seen more does that mean I am right? Please.

    Please continue to ignore the salient parts that you mined this quote from. By the way, quote mining is another age-old creationist tactic.

    You keep using the same link that is obvious bias against those that question “Theory of evolution”. Try finding some more.

    Why? There is quite a bit of information in that link. And fess up, you didn’t even read it did you. You simple saw the link, noted I used it a couple of times and concluded that there isn’t much evidence.

    When I have more time I give you more references, especially on the evolutionary leaps I was talking about. I surprise you have not heard of that.

    Yeah, we’ll be here waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting, I’m sure.

  32. Steve Verdon says:

    Where did my comment go that came right after Mr Verdons “Explanation” ?

    It was there because I checked an hour after I made the comment.

    Are we practicing “Censorship” now ?

    Herb,

    Nothing has been deleted by me.

  33. Wayne says:

    Anderson and Steve

    I have been replying to both so some confusion may happen.

    How does “In about 5 years you might have the basics of the philosophy of science down. Right now, you aren’t doing too good.”, refutes my underlying argument?

    Punctuated equilibrium compare to phyletic gradualism was what I was talking about, which is well known in the evolution community. Which Steve reply was “Oh really? How many fossils have you looked at? Have you seen this?”. Sounds like Anderson know what I was talking about.

    There are Scientologists with PHDs and many publish books on it. One should give pause for anyone that spend that much time thinking and studying it but a person credentials does not make one conclusions right. I do expect them to better support their point of view but I do not believe something just because “my teacher said so”. Frankly I have been disappointed by Scientologists arguments. I could come up with better arguments and I do not even believe that junk.

    Anderson, which books, did you like best? Ever try read one of the scientology one. Amazing how they put forward their ideology if one can get past that many of their premises are so mess up. Caution should be taken in reading any books since all of them is pushing some ideology. History books are prime examples although I like reading them. It is just the matter of shifting through the facts.

    Steve

    Your assumption of my ignorance is astounding. These short passages, which are long for a blog, give little insight of what we know. I disagree with some of your points so you jump to conclusion that I must be ignorant. I know that there is a great deal of disagreement among experts in many area I been involve with and suspect the same is true with evolutionist.

    “I didn’t say all creationists believe this”. Ann did say all liberals or all atheists either.

    “One more time. Simply “punching holes” in the current dominant theory is insufficient. You need to come up with something that fills the void.” First one does not have to come up with an alternate theory to disprove a theory and yes finding one or two discrepancies does not disprove a theory. Which is what you try with Ann.

    I notice that both have resorted to many references to theories and not referring it as statement of fact. Which would support my original point of theory of evolution is a theory. Widely accepted yes but theory no less.

    Talk.origions states on its front page that its purpose is to rebut the assertions of intelligent design and creationist. So to say they do not have a agenda or bias is simply not true. That would be like saying the GOP or DNC website is not bias.

    I try a put in some links in my next post. Last time I tried more then one link it was blocked.

  34. Wayne says:

    Here are a couple of links. Pay attention to page 4 and 5 in the first link. The second is just a short explanation of definition. The third was all right especially “ The theory of evolution is an explanation of the facts of evolution” which is a definition of theory. Although it makes the assumption evolution in macro sense is a fact when it scientifically never has been proven Refer to first link.

    http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/Evolution-Fact-or-Theory.pdf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyletic_gradualism

    http://www.abarnett.demon.co.uk/atheism/factandtheory.html

    http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/Evolution-Fact-or-Theory.pdf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyletic_gradualism

    http://www.abarnett.demon.co.uk/atheism/factandtheory.html

  35. Steve Verdon says:

    Wayne

    How does “In about 5 years you might have the basics of the philosophy of science down. Right now, you aren’t doing too good.”, refutes my underlying argument?

    It doesn’t, but the rest of the paragraph and the next shows how your understanding of how science works does refute some of your claims. You keep ignoring those points and harping on the snarky opening comment of mine.

    Punctuated equilibrium compare to phyletic gradualism was what I was talking about, which is well known in the evolution community. Which Steve reply was “Oh really? How many fossils have you looked at? Have you seen this?”. Sounds like Anderson know what I was talking about.

    This quote mining is getting really boring Wayne. There was far, far more to my response that what you are focusing. Deal with that stuff and you might get somewhere.

    Also your understanding of Punc. Eq. is seriously flawed. While the appearance in the fossil record can be abrupt, the amount of time for speication and so forth is no different.

    Your assumption of my ignorance is astounding.

    It isn’t an assumption. It is an inference I’ve arrived at based on your comments. Initially my assumption was that you knew something beyond the Creationist talking points about evolutionary theory. Over the course of several comments I have revised my view to the current one that you are ignorant of evolutionary theory. This isn’t meant as an insult, but merely an observation. For example, it is a fair and accurate observation to say I know damn little about chemistry. I am indeed ignorant on that topic. Ignorance doesn’t mean stupid.

    These short passages, which are long for a blog, give little insight of what we know. I disagree with some of your points so you jump to conclusion that I must be ignorant.

    No, it is based on the repeating of standard Creationist talking points. The Punc. Eq. thing is a standard dodge used by many Creationists. Same thing with the Microvelution = Proven / Macroevolution = No Evidence. Similarly with your claims about the fossil record as well which goes back as well to your understanding of Punc. Eq. Then there is your usage of the word “evolutionist”. Nobody in the fields that touch on evolutionary theory use that term…Creationists on the other hand use that term quite frequently. So, from where I sit, I see lots of red flags that say: this guy is at least very familiar with Creationist arguments if he isn’t one himself.

    “I didn’t say all creationists believe this”. Ann did say all liberals or all atheists either.

    I’m assuming you meant “Ann didn’t…” above. But that is precisely what she meant. Coulter’s thesis is that Liberals are Godless, hence the title of the book. The opening sentence of the book is,

    Liberals love to boast that they are not “religious”, which is what one would expect to hear from a state-sanctioned religion.

    She goes on and on for pages about how Liberals are Godless, that their world view is itself a religion, and so forth. Not once did I note a caveat saying, “Well, technically there are some Liberals who don’t think this way, but….”. Maybe buried somewhere in the chapters I haven’t read there is this caveat, but unless you can point me to it I’m inclined to think it does not exist.

    “One more time. Simply “punching holes” in the current dominant theory is insufficient. You need to come up with something that fills the void.” First one does not have to come up with an alternate theory to disprove a theory and yes finding one or two discrepancies does not disprove a theory. Which is what you try with Ann.

    Yes, you must come up with an alternative. Until then the current theory is the best explanation. It might be lacking, but until something better comes along, what should we use? Magic? The Space God Zardok? What exactly should take its place? Every time a theory has fallen, it has fallen to a rival. And it is things like this that prompted my statements about your understanding of the philosophy of science.

    I notice that both have resorted to many references to theories and not referring it as statement of fact. Which would support my original point of theory of evolution is a theory. Widely accepted yes but theory no less.

    Yes, and a rock is…shockingly…a rock. Tautologies can have their uses, but I fail to see the usefulness in this context. Nobody denies that evolutionary theory is…gasp…a theory. After all the world “theory” immediately follows the word evolutionary. However, evolution by itself is not a theory anymore than the fact that the sun rises in the east is a theory. Evolution is a fact.

    Talk.origions states on its front page that its purpose is to rebut the assertions of intelligent design and creationist. So to say they do not have a agenda or bias is simply not true. That would be like saying the GOP or DNC website is not bias.

    Sure, I wont deny their bias…however, it is a bias in favor of sound science vs. the supernatural. They don’t aim to disprove the supernatural (i.e. God doesn’t exist) but to argue that it doesn’t have a place in science and evolutionary theory in particular.

    I try a put in some links in my next post. Last time I tried more then one link it was blocked.

    Try pasting just the url. Using html to embed the link messes it up for some reason. I need to e-mail James about this, my guess is that it is related to the fix for quotation marks.

  36. Wayne says:

    Steve
    The reason I quote mine is because you ask me when you said this or that. I am just showing you what you said then you try to dismiss it. If you do not want me to data mine then do not ask when you said something.

    I suspect I can give you as much information off the top of my head about the theory of evolution as you can me. However, I do not assume anything is fact simply because it is what I was taught.

    I do not agree with most of the creationist theories but just because I do not like them do not mean anything they say is a lie.

    I can do more quote mining and show you contradicting yourself but I think both of us had enough of that.

    With this exception, you said, “Every time a theory has fallen, it has fallen to a rival”. Is not true unless you think that the simple fact that the theory is not true as an alternative. For example “theory of the lights went out”. No stupid open your eyes. Realize the theory the lights was false.

    “Sure, I wont deny their bias…however, it is a bias in favor of sound science vs. the supernatural. They don’t aim to disprove the supernatural (i.e. God doesn’t exist) but to argue that it doesn’t have a place in science and etc.”

    Which was Anns point in her book. To some certain science is a religion. Theory of evolution could not exist without a certain amount of blind faith. Many studies that call itself science requires a certain amount of blind faith simply because it is not possible to do it completely scientifically. However it is done to try to further human understanding.

  37. Steve Verdon says:

    The reason I quote mine is because you ask me when you said this or that. I am just showing you what you said then you try to dismiss it. If you do not want me to data mine then do not ask when you said something.

    But that isn’t my entire argument. To say, “you are making an ad hominem argument” means that all I’m doing is saying, “Coulter is a fool for believing this.” When in reality I it is, “Coulter is a fool for believing this because,….” In other words, it isn’t simply an ad hominem.

    I do not agree with most of the creationist theories but just because I do not like them do not mean anything they say is a lie.

    I don’t think that most Creationists are liars, I think they sincerely believe what they are saying, writing, and believe. This is most likely because they have been misled by people they trust. Those are the real liars, the people they trust who mislead others. William Dembski, Michael Behe, Duane Gish, etc.

    Still what Creationists believe is almost always wrong when it comes to evolutionary theory.

    I can do more quote mining and show you contradicting yourself but I think both of us had enough of that.

    Quote mining in such a fashion is nothing but dishonesty Wayne. If my entire argument is consistent and logical, then hacking it apart to construct an inconsistent argument is nothing but pure dishonesty.

    With this exception, you said, “Every time a theory has fallen, it has fallen to a rival”. Is not true unless you think that the simple fact that the theory is not true as an alternative. For example “theory of the lights went out”. No stupid open your eyes. Realize the theory the lights was false.

    I don’t see what this “theory of the lightw went out” is. Thoeries aren’t merely some conjecture. A theory is a cohesive collection of ideas that explain a wide array of data. Evolutionary theory is a huge field. Quantum mechanics, plate tectonics, neoclassical economics. Each one of these things is a very, very well developed theory where the amount of information is so vast no single person can have a deep understanding of the entire field. So your notion of what a theory is is off. Further, even with your simple example there are two possibilities there. In simple examples where there are only two possibilities we needn’t do a great deal of work comparing theories. However, in the real world this is rarely the case. So, show me a real world scientific theory that was discredited, but wasn’t replaced by an alternative.

    “Sure, I wont deny their bias…however, it is a bias in favor of sound science vs. the supernatural. They don’t aim to disprove the supernatural (i.e. God doesn’t exist) but to argue that it doesn’t have a place in science and etc.”

    Which was Anns point in her book.

    No. It. Isn’t. The point of Coulter’s book is to show that liberals are godless, not that scientists ignore the possibility of God when doing science, yet might very well be highly devout people the rest of the time (e.g. Ken Miller, an evolutionary biologsit and a devout Catholic). Coulter’s point is far broader than this.

    Theory of evolution could not exist without a certain amount of blind faith.

    There are two ways (at least) that one can use the word faith. One can have faith in a God–that is no evidence is used to sustain this faith. One can also have faith that the sun will rise the next day. Why? Because it has risen everyday of their life. They might have a basic grasp of planetary orbits, they have seen the sun rise every day they can remember of their life, etc. This kind of faith is based on evidence. Scientists have faith in their method because it has been so fruitful. God is not present in any of the following,

    meteorology,
    biology,
    physics,
    chemistry,
    archeology,
    geology,
    astronomy,

    The exclusion of the supernatural as an explanation has been very good for science. Hence their faith that such an explanation is not needed is well founded.

    Many studies that call itself science requires a certain amount of blind faith simply because it is not possible to do it completely scientifically. However it is done to try to further human understanding.

    I’m not sure where you are trying to go here. If you mean that scientists are human and have their own biases then sure. Still that does not justify inclusion of non-scientific explanations. This is like the play-ground defense, “Well he’s biased, so why can’t I be biased with my bias being for God?” Sorry, that just doesn’t work, IMO. We should continue to strive for the ideal, while acknowledging that we will usually fall short and take that into consideration.

  38. Anderson says:

    Wayne, your assumption that I can’t tell the difference between biology and scientology is a bit condescending.

    The point is simple: biologists around the world accept evolution by natural selection and our descent from a common ancestor. Anyone who can offer disproof of the theory and a competing explanation is welcome to try. Ever since the evolutionary synthesis, no one has remotely succeeded. Molecular biology has provided stunning confirmation of Darwin’s theory, a confirmation he probably never could have dreamed existed.

    So if you think you’ve got it figured out and all those scientists don’t, take your argument to them.