Klinghoffer: Evolution Is a Failed Theory

We can be virtually certain that the Discovery Institute has exhausted their limited list of material, because in the latest post at their creationist blog they’re quoting Casey Luskin — a now vanished Discoveroid — as their ultimate authority. They titled it Evolution as a Failed “Map”.

It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

Writing here at Evolution News, Casey Luskin has warned Darwin skeptics against using the line that airily dismisses evolution as “just a theory.” First of all, you’d need to know which of three major definitions of evolution you’re talking about.

Gasp — there are three major definitions! So what? Everyone knows what a scientific theory is — a testable, well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world. And everyone also knows that when a creationist starts tinkering with definitions, he’s frantically trying to muddy things up, in order to disguise his lack of evidence. Watch as Klinghoffer does just that:

Second, the term “theory” is equivocal. In conversation it can refer to mere speculation. In science, we’re always told, it designates something much more firmly grounded. “Theories are neither hunches nor guesses,” writes science reporter Carl Zimmer. “They are the crown jewels of science.”

But Klinghoffer won’t let Zimmer get away with that. Let’s read on:

Writing in the NY Times (“In Science, It’s Never ‘Just a Theory'”), Zimmer cites Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller, articulating the familiar talking point about crown jewels. But then he quotes philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith, who offers a helpful analogy. Says Godfrey-Smith, a theory in the scientific context is like a map. It seeks to relate sets of facts. But then it seems to follow that the map itself is not necessarily a “fact.”

We haven’t read the article Klinghoffer refers to, so what he says about it may or may not be accurate. However, if what he gets from it is that a scientific theory (analogized to a map) still isn’t a fact, well, DUH!, we can’t imagine any sane person claiming otherwise. He then gives a big quote from the article, which purportedly includes this:

To judge a map’s quality, we can see how well it guides us through its territory. In a similar way, scientists test out new theories against evidence. Just as many maps have proven to be unreliable, many theories have been cast aside.

That sounds right. Even Klinghoffer agrees — but only a little bit. Observe how he draws the line at evolution:

Exactly. Zimmer goes on to list “evolution,” however defined, as among those rock-solid theories, on a par with the “general theory of relativity, the theory of plate tectonics, the theory that the sun is at the center of the solar system, and the germ theory of disease.”

You know that’s a problem for creationists. Here’s how Klinghoffer disagrees:

And sure, you knew that’s what he was going to say. But the point here is that agreeing that evolution (in its controversial sense of an unguided mechanism successfully accounting for all biological innovation) is a theory doesn’t tell you whether it satisfactorily maps the known facts. It might, or it might not. The question can’t be adjudicated by an appeal to the dictionary, but only by a careful weighing of evidence.

Get that? Klinghoffer questions whether evolution satisfactorily maps the known facts. He continues with a quote from the venerable Casey Luskin, who is gone from the Discoveroids, but not forgotten:

How, then, should we speak about “evolution” as a theory? Rather than using imprecise language, and saying things like “Evolution is just a theory,” a better way to express legitimate doubts on the subject is simply to say, “The scientific evidence does not support Darwinian evolution.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Klinghoffer, having quoted such a highly-regarded authority, ends his post with this:

Another way to say the same thing is that as a “theory,” it is a failed — or perhaps more generously, a failing — map.

There you are, dear reader. That’s the best the Discoveroids can do. Are you persuaded?

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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20 responses to “Klinghoffer: Evolution Is a Failed Theory

  1. Do the Discoveroids also wear tinfoil hats during their meetings? Otherwise, I really have no other explanation for the nonsense they espouse.

  2. “But then it seems to follow that the map itself is not necessarily a “fact.””
    Has Klinkleclapper finally lost it? Of course the map is a fact. Who’s going to deny that Darwin formulated a theory of evolution in his Origins? The content of the map is not a fact of course, though it’s a fact that it “seeks to relate sets of facts”.

    “evolution is a theory doesn’t tell you whether it satisfactorily maps the known facts”
    Let’s ignore that evolution isn’t a theory – neither are gravity and electricity. They are abstracts concepts used in theories that “seek to relate sets of facts”. Let’s focus on satisfactorily. What are the standards?
    The IDiot standards are “I think science can’t explain, hence god eeehhhh an unspecified immaterial agent” and “This looks like design to me, hence god eeehhhh an unspecified designer”.
    The scientific standard is “the theory produces testable hypotheses and none of them thus far have been falsified by any empirical fact”.
    Ah well. The IDiot map presents a reliable road to stupidity.

  3. Casey Luskin, who is gone from the Discoveroids, but not forgotten

    …and still dear to our hearts! And–those of us in denial over his departure may yet cherish the forlorn hope: Rex quondam, rexque futurus…

  4. I doubt that Klinklepooper could sell the services of a harlot to a troop train.

  5. michaelfugate

    ID: we don’t have any evidence for ID or against evolution, but if we did, then ID would be correct and evolution would be incorrect. If we did, but we don’t.

  6. Charles Deetz ;)

    Maybe I’m still short on understanding ID, but doesn’t ID include the changes of life, but just replacing the cause of ‘random’ mutation with ‘designed’ mutation? Or does ID purport life-forms being fully formed out of thin air (by the magical designer)?

  7. IfEvolution were a failure, that would not show anything about ID.

    ID was gestated as a failure, the admission that “scientific creationism” proved a failure, with giving up the pretense of having anything to say about, for example, the age of life on Earth.

    ID is a response to the science of evolutionary biology by negative political advertising.

    But evolution is showing its strength by the ever growing production of publishable discoveries. Does a month go by without something so remarkable that the denialist community feels the need to respond?

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    @TomS A month go by? It seems like there is something every few days. Waiting for the come-back on ribosomes in space.

  9. When they start doing anything constructive with their dimwitted ID BS, then I will pay attention. Evilution has done much more for us then ID even thinks about!

  10. We can start taking the creationists seriously when they start producing research that has been through the crucible of legitimate peer review. Until then, they are only good for mocking, pointing and laughing when we visit their websites for a bit of intellectual slumming.

    I must admit that visiting the creationist websites of the DiscoTute, AiG, and ICR to belly laugh and chortle is a guilty pleasure of mine.

  11. michaelfugate

    Charles, since it is pure apologetics, it is anything that works to keep the faith at that time and place. It need not be self-consistent.

  12. @CD: ” I’m still short on understanding ID”
    There is nothing to understand. All you need to remember is
    1) God of the gaps;
    2) Paley’s False Watchmaker Analogy;
    3) Evolution is false.
    The difference between YEC and OEC at one hand and ID at the other is that the latter doesn’t refer to Holy Scripture.

  13. Klinghoffer says: Evolution is a Failed Theory.

    Evolution says: Klinghoffer is a Failed Sneerer…

  14. Hey Kling, if you can succcessfully demonstrate, based on evidence, why evolution is a “failed theory,” the Nobel prize is yours for the taking.

    Surely, considering the many thousands of scientists currently working on evolution and related fields of study, if it were possible, someone would have stepped forward with the necessary evidence/analysis and claimed the prize.

    Obviously they haven’t done so, leaving the door wide open for you Kling. Write that paper now!

  15. ID/creationists have been repeating “Evolution is a failed theory” over and over again ever since Morris and Gish back in the 1970s.

    There is a clinical word that describes Klinkhofer’s problem; perseveration.

  16. The Longest Repeated Falsehood of Creationism is that Evolution Is About To Fail.

  17. Anti-evolutionists have been repeating that “evolution is a failed theory” since the early morning of November 25th, 1859.

    But, seriously though: since before the turn of the last century.

  18. Klinghoffer: failed hack.

  19. Casey Luskin says:

    How, then, should we speak about “evolution” as a theory? Rather than using imprecise language, and saying things like “Evolution is just a theory,” a better way to express legitimate doubts on the subject is simply to say, “The scientific evidence does not support Darwinian evolution.”

    Saying something doesn’t make it so.

    What creationists routinely ignore is the history of the theory of evolution. It began as a controversial new idea rejected by many eminent scientists, but gradually gained acceptance as evidence in its favor accumulated. If that hadn’t happened, Darwinism would have joined Lamarckism and geocentrism on the ash-heap of science. So if the scientific evidence doesn’t support Darwin, why didn’t that happen?

    But to these people, scientific support for evolution is all a (literally) diabolical conspiracy, so such questions are irrelevant.

  20. Christine Janis

    That’s why they have to refer to “evolutionism” as “religion”. Because they know only too well that there’s no evidence for any religion.