Dembski and Wells Demolish Darwin — Maybe

One of the silliest claims made by creationists is that no one has actually seen speciation take place. In a sense, it’s true, but that’s because speciation requires a large number of generations to become manifest, and it usually requires that the mutated individuals become separated from their parent stock, so that both populations go their own biological ways. It’s virtually impossible for this to be observed in a single researcher’s lifetime.

Nevertheless, much has been written to contradict the creationists’ claim. See, for example, this old standby at TalkOrigins: Observed Instances of Speciation, and this at the website of Scientific American: Evolution: Watching Speciation Occur. Both articles admit the inevitable limitations of what we can actually observe happening in real time. Scientific American says:

But just because we can’t see all speciation events from start to finish doesn’t mean we can’t see species splitting. If the theory of evolution is true, we would expect to find species in various stages of separation all over the globe. There would be ones that have just begun to split, showing reproductive isolation, and those that might still look like one species but haven’t interbred for thousands of years. Indeed, that is exactly what we find.

The same is true for the formation of stars and planetary systems, and as we might expect, creationists make the same “no evidence” for those events too. It never seems to trouble them that their “theories” about what happened are utterly void of observable evidence.

The Discovery Institute, true to its creationist roots, is beating the same drum today. The latest bit of nonsense at their creationist blog is Alleged Instances of Observed Speciation — Evolution’s Smoking Gun Is Still Missing. It was written by William Dembski and Jonathan Wells, two Discoveroids stalwarts. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us.

After an introductory Editor’s note promoting the authors’ new book, which we mentioned in Two New Discovery Institute Books, the two Discoveroid geniuses say:

Despite the absence of evidence for the ability of reproductive isolation to harness the mechanisms of genetic change and thereby to produce new species, some Darwinists still claim that there are many instances of observed speciation. But most of these alleged instances are in fact analyses of existing species that are used to defend one or another theory of how they might have originated … . Analyzing existing species to support one or another theory of speciation, however, is not the same as observing speciation in action.

As expected. Of course, there are no observations of any kind that give us evidence for the the Discoveroids’ magical designer — blessed be he! — but they don’t mention that. The unspoken assumption of creationists is that if we can’t satisfy all of their demands, then their “theory” wins by default.

Then they dismiss a few instances of observed speciation by saying:

Darwinian evolution, by contrast, depends on taking a single existing species and splitting off new species from it (called “primary speciation”), which then in turn diverge and split, diverge and split, over and over again. Only primary speciation, and not secondary speciation, could produce the branching-tree pattern required by Darwinian evolution.

That sounds like the micro-macro mambo, discussed in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. Let’s read on:

St. Bernards and Chihuahuas are two varieties of dog that cannot interbreed naturally, but they are members of the same species. Maybe they are on their way to becoming separate species, or maybe not. … Calling them “incipient species” amounts to no more than a prediction that they will eventually become separate species. But maybe they won’t. Short of waiting to see whether the prediction comes true, we can’t really know. And given our limited lifespans, we don’t have time to wait (at least not by conventional evolutionary timescales).

A brilliant refutation of evolution! Then, as their drooling fans are nodding in agreement with what they’ve already said, Dembski and Wells pounce:

Darwinists therefore discount the lack of observed instances of primary speciation by saying that it takes too long to observe them. But if it takes too long for scientific investigators to observe primary speciation, then there will never be anything more than indirect evidence for the first and most important step in Darwinian evolution. Darwinists claim that all species have descended from a common ancestor through variation and selection. But until they can point to a single observed instance of primary speciation, their claim must remain an unverified assumption, not an observed scientific fact.

Gasp! That means we’re left with the only rational alternative — Oogity Boogity! Skipping to the very end, the Discoveroids conclude with this:

Evolution’s smoking gun is still missing.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We dealt with that “problem” in one of our early posts: Where’s the Proof — Evolution’s “Smoking Gun”?

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8 responses to “Dembski and Wells Demolish Darwin — Maybe

  1. Ken Phelps

    What? Again?

  2. michaelfugate

    Will they be denying natural selection next week?

  3. These guys would be the world’s worst detectives. “Did you see the man get murdered? No? Then it’s just a dead body. Let’s go to lunch.”

  4. I thought that the creationists had given up on speciation. Isn’t that one of the arguments on the list to be avoided? Even Linnaeus accepted speciation. And there is the undoubted case of a new genus, Triticale.

    there are no observations of any kind that give us evidence for the the Discoveroids’ magical designer
    Of course, there is no telling what sort of thing that “design” does, so it is pointless to talk about observations.

  5. Eric Lipps

    Dembski and Wells are essentially demanding, “Show me a monkey turning into a man!” (Or, to take another, less frequently used demand, “Show me a reptile turning into a mammal!”) Since that isn’t how evolution is supposed to work in the first place, it’s a win-win argument for creationists: if Darwin’s defenders can’t show such a thing, that proves there’s no direct evidence for evolution, while if they could, creationists could just say it wasn’t really evolution and for once would actually be right.

  6. Charles Deetz ;)

    I can do it, I can do it. Just have a susceptible semi-christian sit down and read their book, you’ll see that human being turn into a knuckle-dragging brainless brute. Voila, a new species!

  7. Of course speciation has been observed: see eg http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/news/100201_speciation

    But let that pass. D&W excel themselves. they argue that we can’t observe speciation because if it happens it takes too long, and then go on to say that since we don’t observe it there’s no reason to think it happens. This is the first time I have seen even the DI use an agrument that takes as its premise its own refutation

  8. But, but, PaulB, Dumbski and Welly already addressed it …. it’s No True Speciation!