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TV Review: Nova – “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial”

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Rarely, if ever, do I begin a review with the following statement, so please do pay attention: you should watch this week's special two hour Nova episode, "Judgment Day:  Intelligent Design on Trial." 

The show focuses on the debate between the notion of Intelligent Design and the Theory of Evolution and to do so uses the 2005 trial Kitzmiller, et. al. v. Dover School District, et. al. Most simply, Ms. Kitzmiller and 10 other parents of children in the Dover school district in Dover, Pennsylvania sued the school board for ordering science teachers to read a statement stating that there were gaps in Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and that the idea of "Intelligent Design" (ID) was a viable alternative. Kitzmiller, the science teachers, and others believed that Intelligent Design was nothing more than Creationism using different terminology. If the trial proved them correct, Intelligent Design would not be allowed to be discussed in the classroom as it represents a violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause (the separation of church and state). 

Darwin's theory argues that over the course of an exceedingly long period of time life on this planet grows and changes. These changes occur in animals as a result of mutations, and beneficial ones tend to allow an animal to live longer and thereby reproduce more and more successfully. As animals with these changes reproduce more, the changes are, over several generations, incorporated into the population of the species as a whole. Intelligent Design, on the other hand, argues that some things are just so complex that there had to be an "intelligent agent" that designed (ID proponents prefer the use of the word "design" to "create") them. Followers of ID use the term "irreducible complexity" to describe certain things found in the world. One of the things often pointed to as system with irreducible complexity is bacterial flagellum. As explained in the Kitzmiller trial by Dr. Michael Behe (a believer in ID), the structure that allows bacteria to move, the flagellum, is hugely complex (there are dozens of pieces involved) and it would not work at all if just a single piece were missing. Therefore, the argument goes, the individual pieces would not have evolved over time because there was no benefit to the individual pieces, the entire system had to have been created as a single unit (something that would not happen within Darwin's theory).

That makes perfect sense, right? The only way the bacteria can move is via the flagellum, and the system by which the flagellum works requires each individual part of the system to be present. Remove one part and the bacteria can't move. Evolution argues that it would never have simply appeared, and there is no advantageous reason for only part of it to exist. Thus, it was created via an intelligent designer.

Sure, it sounds great, Darwin's theory certainly would not state that the entire apparatus would simply sprout up in one generation. The problem, as shown in the Kitzmiller trial, is that many of the parts of the flagellum do in fact appear in other things and, while they don't allow for movement, they do make other processes possible. Thus there is an explanation of the evolution of bacterial flagellum if one cares to examine it. 

Behe, put on the stand as a defender of ID, is only one scientist that has helped promote Intelligent Design. Maybe his example of bacterial flagellum was wrong, but that does not mean the entire notion out to be thrown out.  There are other believers in ID, such the lawyer, Phillip Johnson, who created it. Johnson did so in the wake of a 1987 Supreme Court ruling that stated that Creationism (God created everything including man) could not be taught in schools as it violated the Establishment Clause. Kitzmiller's lawyers' goal at the trial was to show that Intelligent Design was nothing more than Creationism, with the word "Creationism" changed to "Intelligent Design" and "creator" or "God" changed to "intelligent agent." 

Outside of using innumerable scientists to show the basis for evolution, explaining that in science the use of the word "theory" does not have the same meaning it does to laypeople, Kitzmiller's lawyers and experts examined draft copies of a book Of Pandas and People, that was "anonymously donated" (as it turns out members of the school board had a strong hand in the donation) to the Dover school district as a textbook on Intelligent Design. The textbook, which was being written prior to, but only published after the 1987 Supreme Court decision contained some interesting facts.  For instance, prior to the 1987 decision, Of Pandas and People didn't mention "Intelligent Design" (the term had not yet been coined), it was about Creation and defined the term specifically.  After the 1987 ruing the book discussed "Intelligent Design" and defined it in the exact same way it defined Creation, changing "intelligent Creator" to "intelligent agency" of course. 

The school board's assertion in all of this is that they began looking into Intelligent Design because they wanted to present alternative theories to evolution and were upset that the biology textbook was "laced with Darwinism."  However, as Behe (a defender of ID) pointed out at the trial, the same definition he uses to define science, one that might make ID a scientific, also makes Astrology a science as well as other disproved theories (like the ether theory of the light). 

Nova goes to great pains to recreate scenes from the trial using the transcript (cameras were not allowed in the courtroom) as well as interviewing people that took part on both sides of the case (though many people on the ID side declined to be interviewed).  The episode goes into great depth as to what happened in Dover, why, and the ramifications of the Judge's decision.  It is well thought out, well presented, and about as even-handed a presentation as one could hope for.  The Dover school district would do well to adopt it as a required part of their curriculum.

Nova – "Judgment Day:  Intelligent Design on Trial" airs on PBS November 13 at 8pm ET/PT.  Check your local listings however, because you won't want to miss it.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com Josh Lasser

    Congratulations! This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net, which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States.

  • http://QuestForRight.com C. David Parsons

    Not so fast on the biased review: There is a real “judgment day” around the corner in the form of a new book on creationism. The Quest for Right does that which heretofore was deemed impossible: to level the playing field between those who advocate creationism and those who preach Darwinism. The first volume, of which there are seven, was designed as a textbook for the public schools and will be available Jan 1. Until then, you may wish to be more reserved in celebrating the defeat of intelligent design. C. David Parsons, Author, The Quest for Right

  • http://www.buyingone.com Christopher Rose

    Oh no it doesn’t. It is simply impossible to “level the playing field” between a quaint old creation myth and a scientific theory.

    You are simply trying to promote your book, which is nothing more than a cynical exercise in exploitation. You could more honestly call it the Quest for Profit.

  • Bill Weber

    If Darwinism is the religious dogma of the God of pitiless indifference contained in materials and time acting on itself in a universe of blind physical forces, why is it not identified as the religion it truly is? And as such, why is it not banned from public schools under the Establishement Clause, i.e. seperation of church and state? Bill Weber

  • Linda

    I cannot WAIT for The Quest for Right. This truly is the book that Christians have hoped and prayed for and there is a celebration coming for God’s side. The so-called “science” of evolution, which only exists in the minds of the quantum scientists who preach it, is on its way out and the truth will be shouted to the housetops. God will not be mocked. And no this is not an advertisement for the book. Christians are tired of being ridiculed and put down as nonintellectuals when the only wisdom there is comes from God. Since the number of scientists, biologists, etc. who even believe there is a God is almost nil, how can they have wisdom enough to understand even the most minute thing in creation since wisdom comes from God. I say we take Paul’s admonition to Timothy and run with it: (1 Tim 6:20 KJV) O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

    (1 Tim 6:21 KJV) Which some professing have erred concerning the faith…

    (Eph 4:18 KJV) Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

    (Eph 4:19 KJV) Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

    (Eph 4:20 KJV) But ye have not so learned Christ;

    God always says it BEST!!

  • duane

    Bill (#4): “If Darwinism is the religious dogma of the God of pitiless indifference… in a universe of blind physical forces….”

    Pity and indifference are human traits. The universe is not human. Nor is the universe a supernatural being. So studying the universe falls outside the purview of religion. Blindness is a malady that can be attributed to a biological organism with eyes. Forces do not have eyes. Your premises are false, so your implied conclusion is meaningless.

    Linda (#5): “The so-called “science” of evolution, which only exists in the minds of the quantum scientists who preach it, is on its way out and the truth will be shouted to the housetops.”

    You mean “shouted from the rooftops”? It might be a little crowded up there, what with all those quantum scientists milling about. By the way, what is a “quantum scientist”? Whatever they are, they’re not the ones studying evolution. Are you sure you understand the theory enough to use the term “so-called”?

    “Christians are tired of being ridiculed and put down as nonintellectuals….”

    Oh, who isn’t? It sounds like you’re directing a bit of ridicule yourself, at those so-called scientists.

  • duane

    Well, after having watched the program, I note the following:

    – The judge made the obvious decision, yet showed his integrity by not kissing up to Bush.

    – Christians are not above making death threats to their detractors, totally at odds with the teachings of the man they purport to emulate.

    – Intelligent design activists do not hesitate to engage in duplicitous behavior, totally at odds with the teachings of the man they purport to emulate.

    – The vast majority of intelligent design supporters have no regard for science or logic.

    – The vast majority of intelligent design supporters have no curiosity about Nature.

    – The vast majority of intelligent design supporters have little knowledge of the theory they claim to refute.

    – Intelligent design is a negative proposition, i.e., it is merely a claim that evolution is wrong, but offers no scientific alternative.

    – Intelligent design activists attempt to judge the worth of the theory of evolution by its non-scientific spin-offs in sociology, psychology, philosophy, and politics, which is not how theories of Nature are to be evaluated.

    – Science is far more “miraculous” and awe-inspiring than mythology.

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    What many advocates of “Creationism as science” and “intelligent design” fail to understand (or ignore) is the distinct possibility that Darwin (himself a religious man) was inspired by the spark of the divine. That his discoveries were meant to be, and as they have done, push humans forward in so many areas of science. Who is to say that evolutionary theory and us (as humans understanding and then using it for scientific and medical advances) isn’t what God intended in the first place? To me, it isn’t an either/or proposition. Evolution can co-exist with belief in a Creator. The problem is that that belief and faith are simply that. They are not science. Creation is for the religious schools to teach; not the science classroom. I am looking forward to seeing this, I closely followed the case when it was a live case.

  • http://kozmo24.sitesled.com/ Sean

    Yo. This entire universe was created, and Jesus did it. That’s the simple truth. He is the only one who speaks it like it is. “Buddha” didn’t do it, “Allah” didn’t do it, Jesus did it. “Evolution” didn’t do it either. Evolution is a poor explanation for the presence of life, or anything for that matter. It is an incredibly dark interpretation of the earth that we see today. “Intelligent Design” is an attempt to get people to understand that we are allowed to use common sense in explaining what we see…it IS permissible to use supernatural explanations.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    You know what isn’t permissible, Sean? Making comments like that. I don’t know what Bible you’re looking at, but in this universe, Jesus was the son of God–not the Creator.

  • http://www.buyingone.com Christopher Rose

    The supernatural is not an explanation of anything except that some people have very vivid imaginations and some people are incredibly gullible.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    #8: Good observation, Barbara. Many of the scientific pioneers who turned previous worldviews on their heads – Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton and yes, even (in his early career) Darwin, were motivated at least partly by a desire not to demolish faith but to glorify God by casting new light on his creation.

    Galileo, in particular, ended his life a broken man, crushed by the Church’s condemnation of his work.

  • duane

    Yes, Barbara and Dr. D, many of the intellectual and artistic monuments to civilization were conceived as means to honor and glorify God. But that is little more than a cultural artifact. Science, in particular, has historically used belief in the supernatural as a scaffolding under which was erected the early workings of the edifice of modern science.

    Astrology, for example, was entirely based on the belief that gods meddle in all earthly affairs, which led to the careful charting of the apparent motions of planets and stars, which led eventually to the clockwork universe, which led to Copernicus and Kepler and the heliocentric model, then to the Big Bang. Excellent. Astrology started us on the road to a stunning conception of the universe. The intellectual underpinnings of astrology are no less fallacious for it. The scaffolding has been stripped away, readers of the daily horoscope notwithstanding.

    All of these steps have slowly erased the need for divine intervention as an agent of causation in the workings of Nature. Many people refer to this as progress.

    Creationists have painted themselves into a small and dwindling corner: God with his mighty hand wrote the laws of Nature, then set the universe in motion. In this respect only can science and religion be considered as compatible. In this respect only is the creationist mindset currently untouchable.

    As an alternative to huddling in their small corner, creationists have only one other choice: simply deny the findings of modern scientific research. That is a potent strategy. It is all too easy to simply defer to “the inerrant word of God.” One finds many allies flying this flag. It’s much easier to roll out the old reliable

    “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”
    — I Corinthians 1:20

    than to actually learn anything.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    I just have to know, Duane. Is the world really flat? Oh, and by the way, which version of God are you refeering to?

  • duane

    Not following you, Ray.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Agreed, Duane. My point (and, I suspect, Barbara’s also) was that it is not the purpose of science to attack religion, as creationists/IDers often seem to think.

    Rather, science evolved, via philosophy, out of religion; but all of these disciplines are ways of attempting to understand the universe.

  • duane

    Yeah. Good points, Doctor D.

  • duane

    Yeah. Good points, Dr. D.

  • Dan

    In general, I think that the perpetual misrepresentation, by atheistic Darwiniacs, as to what Intelligent Design theory purports to examine and theorize about, is evidence of an unwillingness to challenge deep convictions of faith.

    It’s the same sort of zealotorial denial that biblical creation literalists are accused of.

    There is so much deliberate confusion, and obfuscation by politically motivated evolutionists, that it makes it hard to have faith in them.

  • duane

    Darwiniacs. Heh. Good one, Dan.

    So, how are ID advocates misrepresented?

    And why do you think politics has anything to do with it?

  • Dan

    It’s not the advocates that are being misrepresented. Some of the damage is being done by the advocates.

    One statement you were right about in comment #7 was: “- Intelligent design is a negative proposition, i.e., it is merely a claim that evolution is wrong, but offers no scientific alternative.”

    There is no deity proposed in real, scientific, ID theory. It’s compatible with atheism. No scientific alternative is necessary because it accepts all that’s been proven in evolutionary science.

    That’s one misrepresentation right there.

  • duane

    Dan: “There is no deity proposed in real, scientific, ID theory.”

    A designer of some sort is proposed, whether it is called an intelligent agent or God or whatever. Assuming that the vast majority of ID supporters are Christian, and all Christians believe that God created the universe, it’s not much of a stretch to conclude that, at least in the minds of the advocates, the designer is none other than God. The fact that IDers attempt to eliminate the word “god” or “deity” from their speech and literature just seems disingenuous.

    “No scientific alternative is necessary because it accepts all that’s been proven in evolutionary science.”

    The key word being “proven,” I suppose. Scientists are not in the business of proving things. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. Mathematicians prove things. The goal of the scientific method is to find theories (models, frameworks, constructs, equations) that consolidate a known range of facts under one roof, then to use the theory to predict and futher integrate, always subject to modification or refutation. Facts can be proven, more or less (the sky looks blue on a clear day). Theories can’t. No theories are “true,” as was pointed out in the TV program.

    On the other hand, if I take your comment at face value, then what does ID have to offer?

  • Dan

    If Christians want to believe it was their God who created life, that’s their presumption.

    “The fact that IDers attempt to eliminate the word “god” or “deity” from their speech and literature just seems disingenuous.”

    Is it any more disingenuous than Darwiniacs attempts to eliminate the possibility that a intelligent designer is within the bounds of scientific possibility?

    “Scientists are not in the business of proving things.”

    Things are more or less “proven” if they are observable in the fossil record, duplicated in a lab, etc. I’m not needful of a lecture in a strict interpretation of the word “proven” as it relates to scientific semantics.

    “then what does ID have to offer?”

    A more complete understanding of evolution, natural selection, and probability. It is the critical examination of evolutionary theory, that is currently being excluded from scholarly discussion by ideologically driven political power seekers. sort of.

  • duane

    Dan: “If Christians want to believe it was their God who created life, that’s their presumption.”

    Good, then you agree with me that the entire ID community thinks God is the intelligent designer.

    “Is it any more disingenuous than Darwiniacs attempts to eliminate the possibility that a intelligent designer is within the bounds of scientific possibility?”

    Good, then you agree with me that the ID community is disingenuous.

    As Dr. Dreadful pointed out (#16), scientists do not earn their salaries by dabbling in non-scientific matters, with the possible exception of those at the Discovery Institute.

    “I’m not needful of a lecture in a strict interpretation of the word “proven” as it relates to scientific semantics.”

    Bully for you.

    “A more complete understanding of evolution, natural selection, and probability.”

    Don’t you suppose there are already thousands of actual scientists doing just that? Again, what new ideas does the ID community offer?

    “…that is currently being excluded from scholarly discussion ….”

    I’ll just ask the same question in response to this: what new ideas does the ID community offer? What is the meat of the putative scholarly discussion?

    “… by ideologically driven political power seekers.”

    You have got to be kidding.

  • Steve

    The key tenant of science is testability. Intelligent Design does not and never will hold itself up to such scrutiny and can therefore never be called a science.

    As a simple example, I can assert that the sun will rise tomorrow. This is not a fact, it is a theory, based on the observation that for every day of my life this phenomenon has occurred. Were the sun to not rise tomorrow, I would be proven wrong.

    Pseudo scientific thinking, such as ID, does not hold itself to any such standard. It is enough for believers to look at a feature of nature and say ‘now that looks too complex to have evolved’. Such a statement is not based on data, but is rather an assertion of opinion. It cannot, as such, ever be proven incorrect.

    Here is a theory that NO ONE in the ID community can refute – it was The Flying Spaghetti Monster that was the intelligent designer. Is this a ludicrous statement? Absolutely. But it uses IDs own standards to establish an unassailable ‘scientific’ theory.

    For those IDers that find this too outrageous to accept, perhaps you would have done well to have watched the program. In it, the ID expert was asked if by his standards Astrology could have been called science. He answered that yes, by his standards, any pseudo science is actual science.

    There is a place for ID teaching, and that is right along side all those folks currently stunned to learn that a la The Secret, they can bend the entire universe to their whims. Both The Secret and ID are equally credible. Neither The Secret or ID can ever be proven wrong.

  • Dan

    “Good, then you agree with me that the entire ID community thinks God is the intelligent designer.”

    Well, not if your notion of “the entire ID community” includes prominent scientists who are agnostic and atheists.

    “Good, then you agree with me that the ID community is disingenuous.”

    I agree that both sides have disingenuous adherents.

    “As Dr. Dreadful pointed out (#16), scientists do not earn their salaries by dabbling in non-scientific matters,…”

    What scientific method is used in determining that an intelligent designer is off the table?

    “what new ideas does the ID community offer? What is the meat of the putative scholarly discussion?”

    A disappointing lack of a finely graduated chain of slow and progressive evolution in the fossil record for one. Irreducible complexity for another.

    Heck, even a bright fourth grader, being indoctrinated in the cult of evolution, might wonder what created the primordial soup that spawned the first single celled organism.

    “You have got to be kidding.”

    I’m not the one expressing faith in theories.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Oh, come on.

    Who would the Designer be if not God?

    I also hazard the hypothesis that any ID-supporting scientists who claim to be atheists and agnostics… most certainly aren’t.

  • Dan

    The issue at hand is whether objective scientists think the evidence supports intelligent design or spontaneous chance for the origin of life on earth. It’s not the existence or non-existence of God.

    Atheist fanatics, and religous fanatics try to exploit the issue as a way to impose their philosophical belief system on others.

    I would think that agnostic would be the default philosophical belief system of a truly objective scientist, but I’m not inside their heads.

  • duane

    Dan (#26), good responses.

    “What scientific method is used in determining that an intelligent designer is off the table?”

    OK, it is “off the table,” but it was never truly on the table. Steve (#25) explained pretty well, but to reiterate, ID offers nothing but a negative proposition, “Evolutionary theory is wrong.” The notion that a theory is wrong is not a unique addition to the body of knowledge, because the possibility of incorrectness is the default status of any and every theory. The IDers must devise a positive hypothesis, such as “Cambrian mollusks and protohuman skeletons should be found in proximate sedimentary layers, which will demonstrate co-eval existence, which will shatter the underlying hypothesis of evolution and support our claim that ….” or something testable.

    The idea of irreducible complexity is a fascinating one, and I’ll grant you that as being a valuable contribution from the ID community. But as was demonstrated during the program, in the popular example of the flagellum, it seems that irreducible structures may actually be reducible while performing some kind of viable function. It is telling that it was a biologist not affiliated with the ID movement that did the research. I will agree with you in this sense: ID gadflies may inspire real biologists to emphasize research in specific areas relevant to claims of design. But the writing is on the wall, don’t you think?

    “Heck, even a bright fourth grader, being indoctrinated in the cult of evolution, might wonder what created the primordial soup that spawned the first single celled organism.”

    Absolutely. That is a problem of the first rank. Lacking a mechanism, should we throw up our hands and say, “Well, it must have been God!” or should we continue research into this area of science, maintaining some patience?

    You know, astronomy is simple compared to biology, but it was only recently that a believeable theory for the origin of the Moon was devised. Prior to that, you would have been “safe” claiming that God blinked it into existence, because scientists could not explain it. Isn’t it fair to conclude that much more complicated questions, such as the origin of the primordial soup, will take a bit longer to figure out?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Arthur C Clarke speculated somewhere – I think it was in 2001 or one of its sequels, but I haven’t been able to find the quote – about an advanced race of beings who had progressed beyond flesh, beyond cybernetics, beyond matter entirely, to become entities of pure energy, able to manipulate the fabric of the universe itself, though they were still of the universe.

    “And if there was anything beyond that,” Clarke says, in one of his typically resonant sign-offs, “its name could only be God.”

  • Dan

    “The IDers must devise a positive hypothesis, such as “Cambrian mollusks and protohuman skeletons should be found in proximate sedimentary layers, which will demonstrate co-eval existence, which will shatter the underlying hypothesis of evolution and support our claim that ….” or something testable.”

    The evolutionists positive hypothesis was that the fossil record would reveal a finely graduated chain of slow and progressive evolution of one species giving way to another. Instead, the fossil record shows vast numbers of new species appearing out of nowhere, remaining largely unchanged for millions of years, and then disappearing. They don’t throw up their hands though. Instead they say more research is needed and correctional hypothesis developed to explain the disappointment.

    Instead of a negative proposition, they propose a perpetual “possible” proposition in the face of mounting negative evidence.

    Negative evidence is still evidence.

    The introduction of evidence that some components of irreducibly complex structures might serve alternative functions on their own is a step towards maintaining the possibility of the theory, but it doesn’t necessarily trump the argument.

    The crucial point of irreducible complexity, in the case of the flagellum, is that all 200 mutations would have to 1)occur, 2)be the most fit, 3)survive long enough to exist at the same time and place, in order to 4) assemble themselves into a working flagellum.

    Yes, it’s possible, even without components being individually viable, but how probable? In what finite timespan does this miracle occur?

    This isn’t throwing up your hands and saying God must’ve blinked it.

    By all means, continue reasearch, maintain patience, but please knock it off with this “settled science” business. (not you personally of course).

    What is “telling” to me is the lack of scientific integrity in scorning ID as the ugly sister of evolution. And the willful, and historically fraudulent manipulation of data to attain desired results.

    Scientist’s of integrity view theories in terms of probablility. But because of the political/philosophical implications they’re not the loudest voices.

  • jinyeah

    If Darwin was and is right, should we still watch this documentary(I did actually).Does it mean anything to our existence? Do you care? Why?

  • Erasmus

    “The evolutionists positive hypothesis was that the fossil record would reveal a finely graduated chain of slow and progressive evolution of one species giving way to another. Instead, the fossil record shows vast numbers of new species appearing out of nowhere, remaining largely unchanged for millions of years, and then disappearing.”

    You are lieing. Transitional species abound within the fossil record. A missing link between fish and amphibians? Tiktaalik. A missing link between reptiles and birds? Archeoptryx. Man and Ape? Australopithecus. The list goes on and on and on. Your side lost this debate long ago. The Earth is not the center of the Universe. Lightning does not come from Zeus. Life Evolves!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Erasmus: nice name. A reference to Charlie Darwin’s granddad, right?

    Good points about the transitional species, except that Australopithecus isn’t really one of them. There really isn’t a “missing link” between man and the apes so much as a common ancestor. In fact, some authorities hold that hominids (of which H. sapiens sapiens is the only living example) are not apes at all, but a completely separate family. The taxonomy is still being sorted out: see this Wikipedia entry for more details.

  • Dan

    “Transitional species abound within the fossil record.”

    Do you even know what “abound” means?

    As the late Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, one of evolutionary theories most passionate defenders said, the “extreme rarity” of transitional fossils is the “trade secret of paleontology”. And, “The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of the branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils”.

    Not that any evolutionary theory is disproven by all this. But if we can’t even agree that the fossil record is a striking disappointment, what’s the point of arguing?

    One of the “extreme rarity” of apparant transitional species like Archeoptryx, admittedly, does bolster evolutionists hopes, but it could be simply an extinct species.

    If Paleontologists could find a finely graduated chain of progressive transitional forms from dinosaur to bird, as the theory hypothesized, then we would have something. There are several specimens of Archeoptryx, but they’re all pretty similar.

    It’s also true that animals rarely fossilize, but without the intermediate intermediaries, I’m not ready to close the book.

    “Your side lost this debate long ago.”

    I’m not on a side. What made you think that?

    Moreover, I don’t dispute some degree of evolution, and natural selection. The debate is with intelligent design, or random accidental process for the origin of life.

  • Erasmus

    Dan
    When we consider the age of the earth, the multitude of likely species that have ever existed and how rarely the proper conditions for fossil formation and preservation actually occur in nature, I’d say we are doing pretty well.

    More to the point though, every legitamate fossil find in the last 100 years has only worked to strengthen the case for speciation through natural selection.

    This “Instead of a negative proposition, they propose a perpetual “possible” proposition in the face of mounting negative evidence.” . . is why I am calling bullshit. There is no evidence in the fossil record against speciation through natural selection, and the reason for what you term “the sudden appearance” of new species within the fossil record is merely that fossil formation is, and always has been, rare. But you already know that don’t you.

    “The crucial point of irreducible complexity, in the case of the flagellum, is that all 200 mutations would have to 1)occur, 2)be the most fit, 3)survive long enough to exist at the same time and place, in order to 4) assemble themselves into a working flagellum.

    Yes, it’s possible, even without components being individually viable, but how probable? In what finite timespan does this miracle occur?”

    Finite timespan? We are talking about billions of years of Prokaryotic evolution here. When we conmsider how quickly bacteria reproduce, probability is no longer a real factor.

    Evolution is a fact.

    Dr. Dreadful

    Yes, I am Darwin’s Grandpappy!

    Seriously, let’s not split hairs with Australopithecus. He may be a true transitional species, he may be just a close cousin to our real ancestor. But, frankly, the same could be said about Tiktaalik or Archeoptryx. They may be true evolutionary links between fish and amphibians or dinosaurs and birds, or just close relatives. The real point here is that intermediates exist in nature and have existed throughout deep geoligical time, as the fossil record maintains. Evidence of speciation through natural selection continues to mount, but the flat-earthers continue to bury their heads in the sand!

    Make no mistake about it, anti-evolutionists are an evolving species in their own rights! Missing link: “cdesign proponentsists”

  • Dan

    “every legitamate fossil find in the last 100 years has only worked to strengthen the case for speciation through natural selection.”

    There are about a quarter of a million fossil species known. Darwin said there would be “interminable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps”.

    Even if speciation through natural selection exists, the fossil record is nothing like what Darwin envisioned. But there is a lot of excuse making.

    “”the sudden appearance” of new species within the fossil record is merely that fossil formation is, and always has been, rare.”

    Fossil formation isn’t rare, (quarter million species), just the graduated transitional forms.

    “Finite timespan? We are talking about billions of years of Prokaryotic evolution here. When we conmsider how quickly bacteria reproduce, probability is no longer a real factor.”

    Yes 4.5 billion years is a finite time span. There are a lot of possible things that aren’t likely to occur in that amount of time.

    Bacteria have the capacity to develop antibiotic resistance or some such, but at the end of the day, week, month, year, they remain bacteria.

    “Evolution is a fact.”

    If simple assertion results in truth, them I’m a billionaire.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    There are about a quarter of a million fossil species known. Darwin said there would be “interminable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps”.

    And he was probably right, but you’d have to dig up the whole planet to find them all. Off you go… enjoy.

  • Jim Moore

    Quest For Right? Does it exist?

    Awhile back, a full page ad appeared in the Nashville newspaper seeking a publisher for “Quest For Right.”

    Over time, a publisher was purportedly found and a publication date of Fall, 2007 set. That time came and went. A new date of November, 2007 was set for publication. That has come and gone, and now a date of January 1 has been set.

    Anyone want to bet on publication then?

    Posts above come 1. from the author and 2. Linda followed 2:15 later.

    1. November 13, 2007 @ 08:18AM — C. David Parsons
    2. November 13, 2007 @ 10:33AM — Linda

    Turns out that Linda is David’s wife. So much for her claim of nonpromotion.

    I’m a retired geologist, and I tried to get David to send me a review copy or even one chapter, but nothing was forthcoming.

    On top of that he blocked me from sending him e-mail.

    I’m getting some real strong vibes that this is a mere shell game, but with no bean.

  • Erasmus

    “Fossil formation isn’t rare, (quarter million species), just the graduated transitional forms.”

    And yet every fossil yet found only provides more evidence for the theory of speciation through evolution.

    I see your problem, you need to see every single species that has ever existed (at least since the Cambrian Period) on the Earth in fossil form. That is not very likely to happen, simply because the vast stretch of time we are considering here and the fact that pure chance determines whether or not conditions will be favorable for fossil formation.

    Darwin was right, there are a lot of missing links in the fossil record, not because they never existed, but because most everything that dies rots!

    Odds are, for most evolution-deniers who have dug in their heels, no amount of evidence for the theory will ever satisfy. You seem bright enough, I hope you’re not in that catagory. If you are not convinced of the validity of Evolution across the entire spectrum of living organisms, at least consider the evolution of the horse as one example where the fossil record undeniably supports the idea of speciation through descent with modification.

    Cheers

  • duane

    It’s called the ‘science of the gaps.’ If there’s a gap anywhere in what is expected to be a quasi-continuum, there will be naysayers. Kind of like saying, “OK, 1.0 and 1.1 exist, but there’s no evidence for 1.05, so your number theory must be wrong.” Later, the existence of 1.05 is demonstrated, and they start complaining about 1.02. Since this type of argument can continue to the end of time, there will always be deniers.

  • Dan

    Exquisitely ironic that my logical, measured, skepticism of evolutionary theory should be labled “denial” by blindly devout “Origin of Species” thumpers.

    To say that the fossil record supports Darwins vision of “a finely graduated chain of slow and progressive evolution” is roughly equivalent to belief in a flat earth.

    Your high priests have already moved on.

    Since the fossil record has been greatly expanded, and didn’t pan out, the theory of evolution has expanded to explain it. It’s called punctuated equilibrium.

    The new excuse to explain why fossils don’t show the gradual morphing is that under extreme environmental pressures organisms evolutionary processes drastically sped up.

    I actually like this new twist. It serves the dual purpose of explaining why creatures went millions of years without evolving. Apparantly, life was a bed of roses for them.

    The larger populations would, of course, be thought to be more stable, whereas the isolated smaller populations would be more subject to punctuated morphing. Since the vast majority of fossil finds would be from large stable populations, evidence of speciation through natural selection would be very rare.

    study up fellows.

  • Erasmus

    “Your high priests have already moved on.”

    Gould and Dawkins debated this point right up to Gould’s death.

    “The larger populations would, of course, be thought to be more stable, whereas the isolated smaller populations would be more subject to punctuated morphing. Since the vast majority of fossil finds would be from large stable populations, evidence of speciation through natural selection would be very rare.”

    Gradualism or Punctuated Equalibrium be damned, we are still talking about speciation through natural selection.

    and this:

    “What is “telling” to me is the lack of scientific integrity in scorning ID as the ugly sister of evolution. And the willful, and historically fraudulent manipulation of data to attain desired results.”

    . . is still bullshit, as neither proposal (gradualism or punctuated equalibrium) requires any Intelligent Design-as you yourself have just demonstrated.

  • Linda

    Ray Ellis

    Jesus was not only the only begotten Son of God but He was also the Creator as set forth in the following scripture:

    (Col 1:12 KJV) Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

    (Col 1:13 KJV) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

    (Col 1:14 KJV) In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

    (Col 1:15 KJV) Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

    (Col 1:16 KJV) For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

    (Col 1:17 KJV) And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

    (Eph 3:9 KJV) And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

  • Linda

    To Jim Moore:

    You bet The Quest for Right exists and Volume 1 is being printed as I speak. Things were delayed at the publisher; however, you can believe that it is forthcoming and very soon. And why would we send you the manuscript before the book is even in print. It will soon be available from our website (www.questforright.com) or Tate Publishing in about 4-6 weeks. And it will hit the major bookstores online and retail book stores probably in the spring of 2008 since it has to be listed in Ingram’s catalog before the formal marketing can be accomplished. Hope you’ll be the first to purchase a copy, Mr. Moore.

  • http://questforright.com C. David Parsons

    Dear Mr. Moore:

    Volume 1 of The Quest for Right went to press on Dec. 6th. We expect to have books in hand 4-6 weeks. I will be happy to send you a copy at that time. The reason for the delay was due to the publisher’s schedule, not ours.

  • Jim Moore

    Quest For Right is published!

    I’d bet that you are very happy on the birth of your “baby.”

    On 10/12/07 in an earler e-mail I replied with my address to your offer to send a review copy.

    I left a message at your number today saying that you can send the review copy on.

  • http://www.paulburnett.com/creation.htm Paul Burnett

    The “Quest For Right” (“QFR”) books are pseudoscientific babble, with no information content and no scientific validity whatsoever.

    The author of this bogus “vanity-press type” publication, which is typical Young Earth Creationist pseudoscience is C. David Parsons (self-described as a “biblical scholar and scientist extraordinare”).

    At the QFR advertising website the only really positive review is from a preacher – not a scientist. Another review is from an editor at the publisher (!), which appears to be a “pay-for-publishing (=”vanity press”) publisher: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC, is a “Christian based, family owned, main-line publishing organization with a mission to discover and market unknown authors.”

    Tate apparently “markets” only to small specialty Christian bookshops. Tate is by no means an actual scientific publishing house. (The slick ads and website for QFR are probably part of Tate’s marketing ploy.) Tate also gets very bad press.

    QFR’s website was registered almost three years ago, on March 20, 2005, by a “David Parsons” (possibly the QFR author, “C. David Parsons”?) of Smyrna, GA. The e-mail contact for the “questforright.com” website is at “bradleybuildings.com” of Smyrna, GA. The e-mail contact for the “bradleybuildings.com” website is “Clarence Parsons.” Any guesses on whether “C. David Parsons” is also “Clarence Parsons”? What is Clarence or David hiding?

  • Cannonshop

    One of the key elements of good science is skepticism. GOOD science doesn’t care what you believe-that’s philosophy or relgion’s job. All Science cares about, (when it’s good science) is “How does it work?”.

    The bible doesn’t tell you how it works, folks, anymore than the label on the back of your watch tells you how THAT works.

    The whole “Evolution/Intelligent Design” debate is about the label on the back of the watch, not how it works.

    The “Irreducible Complexity” argument is argument from ignorance-though it does provide some impetus for real scientists to push more deeply and not sit on their laurels or just mark time, just as restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research stimulated the development recently of a means to create them in the lab, thus short-cutting around the whole morality debate there.

    Skepticism makes Scientists work harder-and that’s for the good. I somewhat believe that Galileo would not have been as thorough if the Church had said “Yah boy, you’re right, you’re always right…”

    Unlike Faith, in science, BEING right isn’t the same as being able to PROVE you’re right by the process of Elimination. Without the ability to prove or disprove, your idea in science is just speculation. In Faith, the cornerstone is being right, damn the proof otherwise. Faith is about belief without supporting evidence-that’s what makes it FAITH. It’s what makes something a MIRACLE and not just “Oh, really neat trick!”

    When people manipulate scientific terms and hardware to support faith, regardless of whether it’s Intelligent Design, man-made Global Warming, or Phrenology (the study of bumps on people’s heads to determine their character, intelligence, and tendencies), it is pseudoscience-it generally involves cooking the books and ignoring counter-evidence that does not support the hypothesis. This book cooking can run from the elements of the Flagellum argument to simply only submitting one’s papers to those who hold the same (or similar) views, to presenting a model designed to elicit a reaction, that involves observations, but whose experimental results can be obtained by inserting random numbers in place of the observed numbers.

    Good Science requires repeatable experimental processes, that do not ignore contributing factors, and whose outcomes reinforce the hypothesis put forward without external adjustments. If you can’t test it, it isn’t a valid theory.

    If it can’t be tested, it isn’t science.

  • Gail

    I would like to know how someone can judge The Quest for Right when they haven’t even read it. That’s real fair criticism. You’re so afraid to read it, all you can do is mock it. First read it and then you can say something about it. You can buy it from our website at http://www.questforright.com. Until then, keep your opinions, your mockings, and your taunts to yourself. You are just making a fool of yourself. Twenty-six years went into this book so how can you call it all a bunch of babble. Yours is the babble. Creation science, the real physical science of cause and effect, is the only kind of science there is. The smoke and puff of evolution, quantum physics, electronic interpretation, etc. is going to be just that. Puff and smoke. Believe me, God will not be mocked!! He will be the Victor!! And the DAY OF VICTORY is right around the corner.

  • Linda

    By the way, Paul, before you say Tate Publishing gets very bad press, you’d better go to that page and read ALL of it instead of just the first post. The guy who posted it recanted his criticism of Tate in the end. And every author who posted on there had only praise for Tate Publishing. You need to quit bad mouthing people when you know nothing about them. You’re being used by the devil in case you didn’t know it. Nothing you have stated yet is TRUE!! That says to me you’re being used by the devil since lying is of the devil. You must really be running scared from something. Could it be God? Or are you afraid evolution is on its way out? People who have nothing to hide don’t go about lying about people and companies without even knowing the facts. Why not try making some nice kind remarks for a change?

  • kam

    i so tire of people comparing evolution to religion. its like they are so stupid they dont understand all of the evidence presented. and how many times do people have to be told that “theorey” in scientific terms doesnt mean the same thing as it does in the usual gramatical context…

    so many bloody idiots on this planet. i give up in trying to explain shit to em. let them live in their fantasy world of fingerbolts and creation.

  • http://questforright.blogspot.com/ C. David Parsons

    In addition, Darwin was a FLAMING HOMOSEXUAL. Do you want your kids to learn theorys by a raging

    HOMO? Fags want to insert there penises into other mens anuses. Is that what you want taught in

    public schools? Sounds like it to me. Have fun in hell.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    #53:

    Has to be some college kid pissing about. Has to be.

    Or are there really people that insane yet are still allowed to use computers?

  • http://questforright.blogspot.com/ C. David Parsons

    Dr Dreadful I’m surprised that your mom was allowed to have kids. I’ll bet your Black.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Hmm – like Fred Phelps, but without the panache…

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    And C., I’ll let you bet my black if I can bet your red. But save some money for the slots later when you’re too hammered to play the tables.