Discovery Institute and the Gecko — Again

A week ago we posted Intelligent Design Cannot Be Debunked! Klinghoffer was upset because researchers had discovered evidence of an evolutionary step that led up to the gecko’s feet. That was intolerable, because the intelligent design “theorists” at the Discovery Institute had been claiming that the gecko’s feet were a prime example of an irreducibly complex system which couldn’t have evolved — it had to be designed by the Discoveroids’ intelligent designer — blessed be he!

To salvage the situation, Klinghoffer declared that the newly-discovered evolutionary precursor was also designed. Although not heralded as such, it was the announcement of a new Discoveroid doctrine, one which would defend their creationist nonsense even if those devilish Darwinists somehow find a series of intermediate steps for every one of the Discoveroids’ creationist icons. It was an absolutely absurd maneuver, and we didn’t conceal our opinion.

It was either because of our post (we know they read us), or perhaps it was other criticism, but now the Discoveroids feel driven to defend Klinghoffer’s revelation that what we see as evidence of evolution is really “design all the way down.” The result is what we found today at their creationist blog: More on That Gecko Anti-Design Claim. It has no author’s byline. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

They begin by describing the situation in which they find themselves:

David Klinghoffer responded earlier to a Science Daily article where evolutionists from U.C. Riverside said that their findings about a certain species of gecko “serve as good evidence against intelligent design ideas.” The toes of this gecko, they say, are not as advanced as those on tokay geckos. Therefore, they must have evolved by gradualistic Darwinism. We argued that simpler tools, like screwdrivers, are not evidence that they and more complex tools, like power drills, originated by unguided natural processes.

Then they announce a series of hurdles which they declare evolution must overcome in order to challenge their “theory” of intelligent design. Here they are:

To support neo-Darwinism, they need to prove the following:

1. This species preceded the tokay geckos that have fully-developed adhesive footpads. (Otherwise, it might represent a degenerative form.)

2. The spinules represent a true innovation, not just a broken piece of toe skin.

3. The spinules emerged by mutation: i.e., by chance, with no foresight. [Prove that, Darwinists!]

4. The spinules were heritable when they emerged.

5. There is a continuous, gradual transformation of the toes over time from simple to complex, each version being adaptive.

6. Genes flowed between members of the ancestral series (i.e., it wouldn’t serve neo-Darwinism if this species never had contact with tokay geckos).

7. Each transitional form has been preserved by natural selection to the point where all individuals lacking the trait died out; they could not survive without it. [More on this below.]

8. Intelligent design is incapable of explaining this set of observations. [BWAHAHAHAHAHA!]

Observe number 7 — which requires the demise of all evolutionary precursors. It would mean that no precursor species could exist simultaneously with a species that descended from it. If that were the rule, it would mean that the biosphere should be comprised of only one ultra-evolved species. According to this requirement of the Discoveroids, if a precursor species did continue to exist (because although it lacks a useful mutation, it’s still able to survive in its environment), its persistent survival somehow disproves evolution. In other words, they can defeat Darwin’s theory by asking: Why are there still monkeys? They even elaborate on this, by saying:

But it’s hard to call this Darwinian survival of the fittest when this lizard’s cousins are doing just fine in the same habitat. It’s not a case of “Run for the vertical bamboo shoots or die!” The stars of the show only “sometimes” occupy the vertical shoots.

Number 8 is our favorite, however. It’s a requirement that we have the affirmative duty to disprove their Goddidit “explanation.” The unspoken but clearly implicit assumption of the whole set of hurdles is that intelligent design is presumed to be the correct “explanation” of everything. Therefore, regardless of carloads of evidence showing evolution, the Discoveroids’ “theory” can never be successfully challenged.

The rest of their unusually long article is a mind-numbing application of the eight Discoveroid “principles” to the gecko’s feet. Then they summarize:

Here’s their [the Darwinists’] claim in a nutshell: tiny setae on one species of lizard in Trinidad, which allow it to climb steeper angles than other members of its genus which survive just fine in the same environment, demonstrate evolution in action. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how bacteria became humans.

They finish with this:

And yet the world should be filled with billions of clear transitional forms if Darwinian evolution were true. They shouldn’t even need to scramble to find “attractive possibilities” here and there. Let them tackle the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion before suggesting they have “good evidence against intelligent design ideas.”

Our own summary of their argument is simpler: Goddidit. You can’t prove he didn’t. Nyeh, nyeh, nyeh!!!

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

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10 responses to “Discovery Institute and the Gecko — Again

  1. 8. Intelligent design is incapable of explaining this set of observations.

    Kind of a non-starter since they have yet to provide a plausible mechanism for their ridiculous claims for Intelligent Design.

  2. michaelfugate

    It’s the ol’ fish to Gish gambit expanded to bacteria to Behe or microbes to Meyer.

    I think biologists have pretty clearly shown that selection occurs acting on random (in regards to fitness) mutation occurs – which is pretty much their first 7 points.

    Of course, any supernatural entity with sufficient power could make a gecko climb walls – so what? Is this the god they worship? A tinkerer of lizard feet? so impressed.

  3. “We argued that xxx are not evidence …”
    Of course. One of the three pillars of creacrap hence IDiocy is “Evolution Theory is wrong”. It follows logically that nothing can be evidence, nothing will be and nothing is.

    1. Impossible by definition because the gecko species with the more primitive feet live here and now, not in the past.
    2. No True Innovation Fallacy.
    3. Interesting – can’t an Intelligent Designer use chance as a way to bring about innovations? So much for omnipotence.
    4. A sophisticated form of “were you there?”
    5. IDiocy demands a family tree in which every single individual gecko from common ancestor until now is recorded.
    6. IDiots don’t have to prove anything; if Evolutionary Biologists can’t prove that contact with 100% certainty the IDiot claim that there wasn’t such contact will stand.
    7. Commented on by our dear SC.
    8. Commented on by EJB and our dear SC.

    Well, at least we have some more evidence that IDiocy is just a subset of creacrap.

  4. This is just a minor point, but doesn’t #5 suggest that evolution has a direction – always from simple to complex? That was one of the problems with pre-Darwinian concepts of evolution.

  5. To the likes of Klinghoffer’s reasoning, it’s turtles [design] all the way.

  6. “And yet the world should be filled with billions of clear transitional forms if Darwinian evolution were true.”

    Have . . . have they seen how many kinds of beetles there are, and how similar they are to one another? Seriously.

  7. Every species alive today is transitional. To what, we don’t know yet. Unfortunately, for a great many of them, it will likely be extinction.

    I wonder if it bothers the Creationists that we are eliminating many of the designer’s masterpieces. One would think that they would be motivated more than most to arrest climate change and implement strong conservation measures to preserve the designer’s work – but that does not appear to be the case.

  8. michaelfugate

    And yet if one looks at DNA, one sees the links between species, genera, families, orders, classes….

  9. So, what happened, when did it happen, and why did it happen?

    This seems like the perfect opportunity for the Discovery Institute’s staff herpatologist, in conjunction with Biola’s herpetology department, to make some real headway on intelligent design theory.

    Chop, chop!

  10. And yet the world should be filled with billions of clear transitional forms if Darwinian evolution were true. They shouldn’t even need to scramble to find “attractive possibilities” here and there. Let them tackle the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion before suggesting they have “good evidence against intelligent design ideas.”

    But “they” are “tackling” both. “they” are making good progress on the origin of life (though of course creationists reject it all), and as for the “Cambrian explosion,” that increasingly looks like a myth born of incomplete evidence.

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