The Discoveroids’ All-Time Strangest Essay

This is an odd one from the Discovery Institute. Well, they’re all odd, but this is especially so. It’s Biologist “Flabbergasted” by Lungless Frog. The author is Cornelius Hunter. Here’s the Discoveroids’ write-up on him.

Impressed? He’s not only a Discoveroid fellow, he teaches at Biola University. That’s the California bible college founded in 1908 as the Bible Institute Of Los Angeles. We’ve previously posted about the interlocking relationships between the Discovery Institute and Biola. And as we reported earlier, for the celebration of their centennial year, Biola honored Philip E. Johnson: Godfather of Intelligent Design.

Okay, we’ve got a Discoveroid fellow from a bible college. It doesn’t get any more scientific than that! Here are some excerpts from his essay, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Why do biologists travel the world over? They go to the bottom of the ocean and to the tops of mountains, to deserts and jungles. The reason is they are rewarded for their efforts. The one rule in biology is there are no rules. Everything is different, and everywhere is different.

Got that? Good. Then he says:

When John Ray toured Europe for three years, from 1663 to 1666, studying the flora and fauna, he found the organisms and their interactions were different everywhere he went. Biology is full of diversity, and it makes no sense in the light of evolution.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s the Discoveroids’ response to the well-known statement by Theodosius Dobzhansky: Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution. After that, Cornelius shifts from Europe to Borneo and tells us:

Consider Barbourula kalimantanensis, the frog that has no lungs. These small, elusive, lungless amphibians live in cold, fast rivers, deep in the rainforests of Borneo. Ten years ago David Bickford and his patient international team of biologists worked hard and long to find some specimens for their study. Bickford and his colleagues had an idea of what they were looking for, but they had no idea, and no reason to suspect, that the two-inch frog would be lungless.

Wikipedia has a write-up it: Bornean flat-headed frog, which says:

The frog breathes entirely through its skin, and its internal organs (the stomach, spleen and the liver) take up much of the space which normally would be filled by the lungs. By retaining the lunglessness of their tadpole stage, the frogs are much flatter than typical frogs, which might help absorb oxygen and avoid being swept away in fast streams.

What lesson does a Discoveroid learn from that? Cornelius tells us:

It was all a lesson, once again, in biology’s only rule [that there are no rules], and that exploration seems to always pay off: [alleged quote from Bickford].

The Discoveroid lesson goes on:

If such a sophisticated development plasticity could have evolved — “and oh! what a big if!” — it would provide no immediate fitness improvement, and so would not be selected for. It would be subject to harmful mutations, and be long forgotten in the annals of evolutionary history.

But the frog exists! How does the bible college professor explain it? Here it is, in the conclusion of his essay:

This is intelligent adaptation, which, to repeat, makes no sense in the light of evolution.

That was bad — even for a Discoveroid post. Can you make any sense of it, dear reader?

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “The Discoveroids’ All-Time Strangest Essay

  1. That was bad — even for a Discoveroid post. Can you make any sense of it, dear reader?

    Sure. That’s creation “science” at work.

    It doesn’t have to follow the evidence, it doesn’t have be logical or internally consistent, it doesn’t have to agree with what other creationists are claiming, and it doesn’t even have to make sense as long as it supports their interpretation of the bible.

    That’s why I note that creation “science” is the exact opposite of real science.

  2. James Bolton Theuer

    I think that he accidentally omitted the visitation of the space wizard who created the frog. I’m sure this claim has as many eyewitnesses as the Angel Moroni(c) and its golden plates.

  3. “He’s not only a Discoveroid fellow, he teaches at Biola University.”
    And writes the worst anti-evolutionist blog I’ve ever met. Trust me, Hunter can do worse than this.

  4. Sounds like a case of heterochrony – pedomorphosis, to be specific. That is the evolutionary retention of juvenile characteristics in the adult descendants. It occurs if there is one or more mutations in developmental genes – they prevent a descendant adult from “growing up properly”. If the Dishonesty Institute was really composed of scientists in search of the truth, they’d acknowledge that evolution demonstrably works by several mechanisms apart from “Darwinism”-type natural selection (e.g., heterochrony, genetic drift, sexual selection, lateral gene transfer). Heterochrony, in the form of pedomorphosis and peramorphosis, is well seen in the fossil record of trilobites.

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    It took divine intervention for an amphibian to breathe thru its skin, like when it was a tadpole? That’s not even ‘new’ information, then. Geez.

  6. michaelfugate

    The Plethodontidae, a family of lungless salamanders has be known since the early 19th c. Hardly surprising that there is a lungless frog. There is also one species of caecilian…
    http://scienceblogs.com/notrocketscience/2008/04/07/first-lungless-frog-discovered-in-borneo/

  7. Ceteris Paribus

    I dunno. There is more and more evidence. Seems that those DiscoTute people are maybe on to something here. Everywhere they look, a talented Creationist outfit pops up another another strange critter which proves that only a Creator could have done the job.
    So first Ray Comfort explained how even the lowly banana is a product of the Divine One.
    And now the Tuters have proven that a lung-less toad, {which Darwin never even mentioned!), is further evidence of the Wisdom of He that Rules.
    I expect pretty quick soon some brilliant investigator at the ICR is going to get out a bulletin pointing out that the four legged fish “Tiktaalik roseae” is dead certain evidence that only the Blessed Author could have Designed.
    Oh! the joy and exaltation I will have when our friend David Rives, some day soon, swings his huge telescope around to reveal an interstellar example of the work of Creation.

  8. Damn, another creation event to add to the list, I’m going to need another sheet of paper soon.

  9. Pete Moulton

    @Ceteris Paribus, I too will be glad when Bible Boy goes back to astronomy. His recent videos prove he knows less than nothing about geology, paleontology, and evolutionary biology.

    SC: Hunter’s got a write-up in the “Encyclopedia of American Loons,” too. Following some of the links will provide hours of hilarity.

  10. “If such a sophisticated development plasticity could have evolved — “and oh! what a big if!” — it would provide no immediate fitness improvement, and so would not be selected for.”

    I don’t follow his reasoning. First off, he should be aware that artificial selection (aka design, or attempt at design) ‘selects for ‘and natural selection ‘selects’ ‘against’. So, if there is no fitness advantage to lungless respiration (at least for some frogs in a particular habitat) – yet it exists – why would the greatest possible designer in all possible worlds ‘select for’ an adult trait that confers no advantage?

  11. @Gary
    Creationists have been insistent on their acceptance of “loss” by natural processes.
    Is it possible that this author is not aware that tadpoles live underwater?
    Or is he unaware of the “panda’s thumb” example?

  12. So, why did the creator go to the trouble of making this odd little frog? Would a regular small frog not serve the mission of frog-kind? It’s a question creationists should ask themselves.

    Fundamentally, if life is “intelligently designed,” then each element of it – including the lungless frog in Borneo – is part of an overall design. Likewise, previous, long extinct ecosystems were designed for some purpose. Why did they exist, and why is the current ecosystem the way it is today?

    The DI steadfastly refuses to speculate on the identity of the designer, ironically claiming it would not be scientific to do so (while accusing scientists of being materialists.) Yet there are many clues they could draw on to learn more about the designer. For example, the DI regularly infers purpose for biological structures within cells, for apparently vestigial organs, for so-called junk DNA, and so on. It is only another step to infer purpose for the whole organism. Why did trilobites exist, and why do they not exist today? These are questions creationists should answer.

    If the DI believes that evolution cannot explain an ecosystem that includes a lungless frog, they how does ID explain it?

  13. Is that a serious question, Ed?
    Goddiddid of course!

  14. Corny Hunter, Encyclopedia of American Loons #786, is not a professor at Biola, he’s an adjunct professor of biophysics. There is no evidence he does any research and he is not a biologist. Of course, the Tooters give people fake credentials all the time so what does it matter?

    Corny has a long history of being totally wrong about everything, and suffers from an extreme case of Behe Syndrome: inability to accept that he’s wrong about everything.

    It’s a sign that the Tooters are really having to scrape the bottom of the barrel to drag out Corny. Hey, maybe we’ll get some Granville next! I’m sure we could all use a refresher course on the creationist 2nd Law of Thermo.

  15. Christine Janis

    Or a refresher course as to how a grey wolf looks just like a marsupial wolf, but facing in the other direction.

    http://www.rationalskepticism.org/creationism/creationist-lies-details-at-11-t51074.html

  16. @Pete Moulton Despite having some freakishly large telescopes, David Rives is not a well rounded astronomer. The example I noticed when I used to watch his TBN show was an instance where he mistook one of the shadows from a Jupiter’s shadow transit with an actual satellite. While Rives does show a preference for deep sky objects, it does say to me his scopes are pretty props and the guy knows much less than he lets on. Surely the heavens declare his ignorance.

  17. “Cornelius” (husband of “Zira”?) tells us:

    Consider Barbourula kalimantanensis, the frog that has no lungs. These small, elusive, lungless amphibians live in cold, fast rivers, deep in the rainforests of Borneo. Ten years ago David Bickford and his patient international team of biologists worked hard and long to find some specimens for their study. Bickford and his colleagues had an idea of what they were looking for, but they had no idea, and no reason to suspect, that the two-inch frog would be lungless. . . .
    It was all a lesson, once again, in biology’s only rule [that there are no rules], and that exploration seems to always pay off: [alleged quote from Bickford].

    On the contrary, as the Wikipedia article cited above notes, it’s a perfectly good example of the phenomenon of neoteny, the retention of juvenile characteristics (in this case lunglessness) in adult creatures. (Must . . . resist . . . urge . . . to make . . . obvious . . . analogy . . . !)

  18. KevinC notes: “…”

    Just what I’d have figured you’d say, KevinC.

  19. @docbill1351
    “he’s an adjunct professor of biophysics”

    Well, I’m not sure that that is right either. I couldn’t find him in the Biola faculty lists. To be fair, though, perhaps he was away from school on the day that class photos were taken.