Discoveroids’ Top Ten Problems with Evolution

They’re exhibiting either misguided confidence or absolute desperation. Who? You know who — the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

You can decide which it is. They’ve just posted What Are the Top Ten Problems with Darwinian Evolution? It’s by Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist. He’s a Curmudgeon fellow and a follower of the Knights of Uranus. Casey says, with bold font added by us and his links omitted:

A few months back I gave my top three criticisms of Darwinian evolution that I think should be taught in public schools.

Yes, and we wrote about it here: Casey’s Big Three Evolution Flaws. It’s always interesting when Casey tries to summarize the Discoveroids’ case, as it so neatly illustrates how empty their cupboard really is.

From time to time, your Curmudgeon likes to respond in kind, by summarizing the Discoveroids’ positions. This is useful to demonstrate the utter emptiness of their “theory” of intelligent design, the nothingness of their case against evolution, and the illogic of their entire enterprise. For example, see Their Latest Fallacy (a list of the clunkers that sustain the Discoveroids), and also Intelligent Designer or Zeus? (Casey’s so-called “positive case” for the magic designer), and also The Mechanism of Intelligent Design (Casey asks: Why wouldn’t the designer have a mechanism?), and also Are They Thinking At All? (more on the missing “positive case” for intelligent design), and also Discovery Institute Gives Us Their Best Argument (the 2nd law of thermodynamics).

Anyway, let’s take a look at Casey’s “Top Ten” problems with evolution. We won’t discuss them all — that would be much too tedious. We’ll just give you a few examples, and then leave it to you to examine the rest. Here we go, starting with number one:

Lack of a viable mechanism for producing high levels of complex and specified information.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Evolution has no mechanism? A couple of paragraphs ago we gave you a link to Casey’s mechanism for intelligent design. Take your pick, dear reader. Okay, here’s number two:

The failure of the fossil record to provide support for Darwinian evolution.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Impressed? Oh, all right, we’ll link yet again to Wikipedia’s list of transitional fossils. Wait ’til you see Casey’s number three:

The failure of molecular biology to provide evidence for a grand “tree of life.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! If you haven’t looked lately, check out the Tree of Life Web Project. What would an arrangement of the designer’s product line look like — a pile of stuff in the regional warehouse for Wal-Mart?

Okay, dear reader. Those were Casey’s best. It’s up to you to check out the rest of his woeful list. He concludes his post with this:

Of course, even these “top ten” still just scratch the surface. What would you add?

What would we add? How about a warning label at the start of that list? This one from Dante seems appropriate: Abandon hope all ye who enter here!

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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32 responses to “Discoveroids’ Top Ten Problems with Evolution

  1. Casey must have had help with this piece.
    Its so well organized, and so nonsensical
    and so counterfactual (a word)?.
    Any other comment I make
    will pale in comparison to the SC article, or, what is to follow from the regulars on this site so I will shut up and take notes.
    But, wonder of wonders, my replies are making more sense (sort of), so I get scrubbed less often by SC. The rum is gone again however.

  2. Aha, Wikipedia says I didn’t make up a word (counterfactual).
    So I was lucky.
    And in the oil exploration business, I’d rather be lucky than good.
    But good helps. Except for Casey. Nothing can help, its hopeless.

  3. will says: “Its so well organized”

    Yeah, it’s in numerical order.

  4. NeonNoodle

    What would you add?

    Paprika.

  5. It’s possible they could be this arrogant and stupid. But it seems more likely they are just telling lies. 15 minutes on wikipedia could sort this out for them and I am sure they must have had these claims answered for them many times. I think they need our help.

  6. What, no Junk DNA?

  7. Junk DNA is his number nine.

  8. Dang it, I read all ten and now my head hurts. I even made the mistake of trying to read the conspiracy crap about the NCSE and Judge Jones but I couldn’t get past the second paragraph.

  9. docbill1351

    What I like best about the lying creationist sociopaths like Luskin is their dogged perseverance. All of the squeaky little Gerbil’s peeps have been addressed time and time again.

    2 + 2 = 4

    Luskin: I don’t accept that.

    Rinse and repeat.

    On NPR’s Science Friday today there was a great report of researchers using evolution to develop an understanding of how melanoma tumors become drug resistant and how to combat that process. Fascinating work that will have a positive effect on many lines of cancer research. Yes, using evolution and materialistic science.

    Meanwhile, lying creationist sociopath research of any kind has yielded
    crickets chirping
    tumbleweeds rolling by
    distant howl of a coyote
    wind (both breaking and hot)
    tick tock tick tock
    yawns
    failed court cases

  10. docbill1351 says: “Meanwhile, lying creationist sociopath research of any kind has yielded crickets chirping …”

    Oh yeah? Deep in the cellars of the Citadel, we’re working on a faster-then-light [aaarrrghhhh!] faster-than-light, anti-gravity time machine powered by a creationist engine based on the principles of the Time Cube. Just you wait! I’ll get the last laugh. They sneered at Galileo …

  11. I’m sure I’ll have more fun with this later, but since they claim that ID is not “creationism” the obvious first response is to ask them what their top 10 problems with creationism are.And don’t stop until they devote “equal time” to the answer.

  12. Curmudgeon: “They’re exhibiting either misguided confidence or absolute desperation…You can decide which it is.”

    Some of each. They know that anything they say will impress the ~25% that will not admit evolution under any circumstances. And that as long as the keep the subject on “Darwinism” and bait-and-switch its “weaknesses” with the “positive case for ID,” which Dembski admitted can accommodate all the “results” of “Darwinism” and has not, in the 11 years since, said what else (OEC? YEC? Flat-Earthism?) it can accommodate, they can fool another 25-50%. And as long as their critics take the bait and answer more questions than they ask, they at least break out even there too. That’s the confidence part. But that they have to resort to those tactics instead of working to support an alternate theory, or even peddle the quaint pseudoscience of AiG, ICR and RTB, is pure desperation.

    BTW, I left them the comment that I mentioned above. It’s now in moderation. Let’s see if I get a defensive non-answer like J. Preston did.

  13. docbill1351

    Douglas Adams and The Puddle Argument.

    Plus jazz.

  14. Charles Deetz ;)

    I like how Luskin responds in the comments: “the purpose here was to raise some scientific data that challenges.” Do we need to vet each of the articles he lists to? Much of what this list do not involve data since they are all ‘failures’.

  15. This is more properly viewed as a list of the top ten things that the DI wishes were true.

    It would be hard to come up with a top ten list of problems with intelligent design, because ID doesn’t really claim anything – no mechanism, no history of when and where, no designer, nothing. A short list is possible, though; (1) no evidence, (2) no explanatory power, (3) no predictive power, and (4) the requirement for a supernatural intelligence to make it work.

  16. SC said:

    Deep in the cellars of the Citadel, we’re working on a faster-then-light

    So you’re making a machine that is faster, then you’ll light it off?

  17. I’m having a bad typo streak. I think I’ve been hexed.

  18. What would you add?

    A match.

  19. docbill1351

    All of the little cub reporter Gerbil, Luskin’s, complaints are “god of the gaps” arguments. Science has “not yet” an explanation for X, therefore, creationism.

    I don’t know how Luskin sleeps at night since his job is lying about, well, anything. Hey, Luskin, what do you do for a living? I lie and get paid for it, how cool is that? Well, as long as you are an immoral, unconscionable sociopath I guess it’s OK. Sort of eliminates you from being a Boy Scout leader, but, hey, it’s a living!

    I wonder when Luskin will crack. He’s bound to. Imagine his kids Googling “casey luskin” and finding the first link to “casey luskin is an idiot” and then finding out the he’s a paid pathological lying sociopath. Bound to be traumatic, far more traumatic than my kids finding out that I threw up Jack Daniels and peanuts on a tree in New Orleans and has never had a sip of bourbon in over 40 years. Just saying we all have our skeletons but mine don’t involve being a sociopath!

  20. docbill1351 says: “I threw up Jack Daniels and peanuts on a tree in New Orleans”

    For some reason I feel compelled to repeat that.

  21. My comment to Luskin is still in moderation.

    @Doc Bill:

    As for traumatic, I’m almost certain that Behe’s son turned atheist because of his father’s radical anti-science activism. These things do backfire on occasion. As a Tennessee Squire (since 1985) I feel obligated to remind everyone that it’s “Jack Daniel’s,” and that the charcoal mellowing makes it a “Tennesee whiskey” not a bourbon. And yes, it played a part in secrets from the 70s and 80s that I’ll take to my grave.

  22. Curmie: “For some reason I feel compelled to repeat that.”

    HOOWOO! Party time in NOLA with Curmie!!
    I’ll bring the peanuts.

    Doctor Danger Kong: “Just saying we all have our skeletons …”

    You outlived a bout of youthful stupidity, but some people never learn. Just look at Casey, still stupid drunk and spewing.

  23. Doctor Stochastic

    Most of these argumets do lead to a “teaching moment.” (That’s how I used them some years ago.)

  24. Doctor Stochastic says:

    Most of these argumets do lead to a “teaching moment.”

    Someone’s claim that the Earth is flat also leads to a teaching moment, but it does nothing but waste time.

  25. Jim Thomerson

    A colleague used to say it was kinder to attribute bad behavior to ignorance and stupidity rather than evil intent. Oh, Well! The creationist arguments are so poorly made that they must rely on a basic assumption of ignorance and receptivity on the part of the recipient. Unfortunately, there is some truth to their assumption. I think it is a human universal to be less critical of claims we agree with, so the creation arguments sit well with the choir.

  26. Jim Thomerson: “A colleague used to say it was kinder to attribute bad behavior to ignorance and stupidity rather than evil intent.”

    There’s a 3rd option, and I’m more convinced every day that it applies to Discoveroids and their “big tent” strategy. Namely that they know they’re lying about evolution, and sometimes common descent. But they do it because they honestly believe that the “masses” will behave as if all is permitted if they discover the truth.

  27. docbill1351

    Nope, the Disco Tute is evil. They are theocrats through and through and want nothing less than an American Iran complete with Biblical courts and a highly stratified society where they are the priests with all the accouterments accorded that status and the rest of us flip hamburgers, pray and tithe to their church.

    It’s that simple. However, they simply don’t have the cajones, as we say in Texas, to be up front about their agenda. Hence all the weaseling around. A little stealth creationism here, a little academic freedom there.

    The bottom line is that they are impotent troublemaking morons and in any sane society we would just laugh at them and ignore their poo-flinging.

    Oh, wait, I do laugh at them. Especially you, unibrow stupid Luskin! Yeah, I’m looking at you!

  28. Doctor Stochastic

    In the cases like I’ve run into (informal discussions in a university setting or even a class on mathematics), the flat-earth question leads not only to the obvious point out that the earth is round, but how one knows and how the ancients knew (sails over the horizon, lighthouses, eclipses of the moon, stars seen in the south but not in the north, Eratosthenes’s estimate of the circumferene.) Thence to a discussion of why anyone thought other people thought the earth might be flat (except for mountains….) In a math class, one can show how the ancients computed the circumference of the earth, etc.

  29. Doctor Stochastic says: “In the cases like I’ve run into …”

    You’re right, of course. A good teacher can turn anything into a teachable moment.

  30. Doctor Stochastic

    The tactic is to make the creationist be the straight-man. Often this can be done without their noticing.

  31. My comment was published and received a reply!

    Luskin accused me of “changing the subject” because I asked a question instread of “taking the bait.” But I’ll be charitable and not complain, because he probably assumed that I was criticizing the “designer” part, as most “Darwinists” do. So I left the following polite reply:

    Casey,

    Thanks for the reply. As you know, “creationism” has several definitions, so I should be clear in that I mean as the DI defines it, which seems to correspond to the YEC and OEC promoted by AiG and RTB, respectively. I should add that I do not criticize ID for not identifying the designer. Like you, Michael Behe and Ken Miller, I think it’s God, but don’t think that’s a scientific conclusion. I’m much more interested in the “what happened when” part. As you know, evolution and creationism make many such claims, as do some individuals in the ID movement. So it only makes sense that ID criticize all claims that it finds unconvincing, whether they come from “Darwinists” or evolution-deniers. That would add some support to ID’s claim of being scientific. And it would put an end to the claims of “ID is too creationism” that at least one “Darwinist” finds annoying.

  32. @docbill1351:

    You may be 100% right about the theocracy, but what I’m saying is that, if we must use the “innocent until proven guilty” approach we need to use it in the right place, and 99% of the time that’s not the case. The right place, if any, is “paranoid until proven evil.” What is absolutely the wrong place to assume that they honestly believe some literal Genesis story just because they promote them. When some groups (e.g. AiG, RTB) promote one of the mutually contradictory versions, and occasionally criticize others, that may justify concluding that they personally believe it. But even there “their hearts are not in it,” meaning that they at least lack confidence that the evidence supports their position, and that if they do believe it, it’s in spite of the independent evidence not because of it. But they have to cite independent evidence (out of context of course) because it wins more over fence-sitters than “because I said so.”

    The DI, however, is a whole ‘nother animal. Ironically, Luskin recently replied to a comment I left at ENV with an amazing admission. He stated unequivocally that he personally believes that the designer is God, but admits that that is not a scientific conclusion. So, on that issue he agrees 100% with many of his “Darwinist” critics (e.g. Ken Miller). So the criticism that “IDers think they found God, but only claim ‘some designer’ because of Edwards v. Aguillard” is not only unnecessary, but in fact wrong. To keep repeating it is foot-shooting.

    Where the DI’s feet do need to be held to the fire, however, is more obvious than ever in light of the recent DI book that Luskin co-authored. It sort of defends a progressive OEC scenario, including a possible literal Adam and Eve, living several million years ago. Frustrating to me is that most critics will gleefully react with “See! They really are creationists!” But that will miss the big point, and worse, be just the reaction that Luskin at al want. The reaction that is needed is that the DI seems to be compromising with an OEC story that will keep most Biblical literalists (when the hard questions are asked, most of the rank-and-file is either OEC and/or indifferent to the “when” questions – “hard” YECs are a minority) and postmodern non-literalists in the big tent. From what I can tell of the reviews, the authors do not critically analyze YEC or the young-life OEC positions but just ignore them. They take “Darwinist” Francis Collins to task for conceding common descent but completely ignore that one of their own (Michael Behe) has done the same throughout his ~20 years of anti-evolution activism. If they truly think that the evidence supports an OEC origins account they have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by ignoring both “Darwinism” and the “designer” issue, and supporting their account, and any theory that might explain it, on its own merits. The only time they would need to invoke “Darwinism” is to contrast their explanation with “failed” ones. In which case they would spend devote more effort to refuting other creationist/ID accounts, for the simple reason that there are many, while mainstream science only has one. That is what they would do if they truly thought that ID was scientific, with no political agenda. But of course they don’t.