The Discovery Institute’s Best Arguments

The Discovery Institute has degenerated to the point where their arguments are no better than the silly taunts used by children on the playground. Two good examples of this appear at their creationist blog, both written by 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 some excerpts from both of them, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The first is Zombie Science: Jonathan Wells on Convergence Versus Common Ancestry. Note the expression “zombie science.” We often remark that no creationist argument, regardless of its idiocy, ever dies — it just gets recycled, endlessly. Now the Discoveroids are saying that about evolution. It’s a good example of tu quoque (Latin for “you too”). One can hear such arguments at any schoolyard: “I’m not a poop-head; you’re a poop-head!” Watch how Klinghoffer does it:

This in a recent news item at Science Daily surprised me: “Convergent evolution is one of the fundamental predictions of evolutionary theory.” Oh, really?

He’s talking about this article: Distant fish relatives share looks, which says:

Dr Aaron Davis from the Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER) at JCU said the phenomenon, known as convergent evolution, happens when different fish adopt similar lifestyles and evolve through time to look very similar. … Convergent evolution is one of the fundamental predictions of evolutionary theory.

For additional background, Wikipedia has an article on Convergent evolution. It’s not a controversial subject, but the Discoveroids don’t like it. Klinghoffer says:

So, evolutionists say convergence confirms evolution? On the contrary, as biologist Jonathan Wells observes in a new video conversation, convergence is a major problem for Darwinian theory.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! See The Genius of Jonathan Wells. When one Discoveroid quotes another, you know there’s nothing outside of creationist lore to support what they’re saying. Klinghoffer concludes with this:

Darwinism is quite a theory. Everything and anything confirms it. However, says Wells, “A theory that explains everything really explains nothing.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! As we’ve pointed out on numerous prior occasions, it’s the Discoveroids’ “theory” that is consistent with everything, because their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — did everything, so whatever is found is his glorious handiwork. Klinghoffer gave us nothing but a tu quoque argument.

His next brilliant post is The “Evolution Is as Real as Gravity” Talking Point, in which he tells us:

Comparing evolution with gravity is a standard talking point with Darwinists, as in this headline from The Evolution Institute [Evolution Is As Real As Gravity ] that a friend points out:

[Klinghoffer quotes from the article:] Evolution is still all too often (but wrongly) downplayed as “just a theory” in public discussions. This is partly due to an unfortunate misunderstanding of what a theory means in science, as opposed to its common language meaning. Evolution by natural selection is much more than just a hypothesis, and is as much a valid and well-accepted scientific theory as the theory of gravitation. What Darwin did for biology is on par with what Newton did for physics — and mathematics plays an important role in both theories.

What can Klinghoffer do with that? He quotes someone named “Jonathan” who made some comment somewhere:

I’ll be interested when a physicist proclaims ‘gravity is as real as evolution.’

Klinghoffer is impressed. He says:

Yes, evolution needs to associate itself with something factual, whereas gravity has no such need. That is kind of telling.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s the problem with evolution — it’s not associated with anything factual — unlike the wondrous works of the intelligent designer. When such comments are made, we usually recommend Evolution as Fact and Theory by Stephen Jay Gould. Klinghoffer continues:

If any physicists out there would like to take this challenge – Tell us how gravity is as solidly established as evolution – it would be fascinating to see an article to that effect published by The Gravity Institute, if they ever get around to launching one.

Update: Huh, I spoke too soon. There is a “Gravity Institute,” a nonprofit out of Montreal with a Facebook presence devoted to sharing pretty nature videos. Nothing to do with gravity, or evolution, as far as I can tell.

Aside from that blunder about the Gravity Institute, what did Klinghoffer say? It amounts to this: “You say evolution is as factual as gravity? Well, we say it’s not. You’re a poop-head!” That’s intelligent design at its best!

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16 responses to “The Discovery Institute’s Best Arguments

  1. Michael Fugate

    Klinghoffer is channeling his inner Karin Viet – superficial resemblance is more important than anything else. The torpedo shape of swimming animals or the wings of flying animals supercedes genetics or skeletons or embryology.

    A case in point is mammal skulls – they all contain the same bones with the same embryological origins and the same relative positions. Lifestyles – like diet – change the relative sizes and shapes of bones only leaving the common ancestry intact.

    Superficial may be one of the best descriptors of ID.

  2. Richard Bond

    Actually, gravity is arguably less understood than evolution. We have an excellent description of gravity’s empirical effects in General Relativity, and good confirmation of a couple of GR’s predictions in the orbital decay of binary pulsars and the recent observation of gravity waves, but we cannot yet combine it with quantum mechanics. The latter suggests that there should be a boson, the graviton, to account for gravitational attraction, but we are a very long way for confirming the existence of that.

    To summarise, we have observable mechanisms for evolution in random mutation followed by natural selection, sexual selection, and genetic drift, but we have no such observable mechanism for gravity.

  3. If there were some emotional need to deny the reality of gravity, one could easily imagine creationist-style attacks against it –
    * there is “micro”gravity, apples fall from trees – but that does not prove that there is macro”gravity among the stars – how do you know, were you there?

  4. Holding The Line In Florida

    @TomS. Good one. Micro Gravity! I guess Macro Gravity doesn’t exist, the Sun just sucks on the Earth and the Earth just sucks on the Moon. The whole Cosmos just sucks!!!

  5. Alan Conwell

    @ TomS & Holding et al

    Reminds me of the Intelligent Falling movement.

  6. Alan Conwell

    Oh piffle, must have screwed up the tags. Curmie, help me oh great one…

    [*Voice from above*] I stretched forth my mighty arm, and behold — it is done!

  7. Ross Cameron

    I used to own a `83 Graviton. With manual shift.

  8. Eric Lipps

    Actually, “microgravity” does exist. It’s the term preferred by many astrophysicists for what is commonly called the “zero gravity” of space. Because gravity would be perfectly zero only where the gravitational forces of every bit of mass in the universe exactly canceled out, in real life there’s always a tiny net gravitational force even in deep space, so “microgravity” is a more accurate term (for all but the hypothetical situation mentioned above) than “zero gravity.”

    None of which validates creationism and its phony micro-macro distinction regarding biological evo—er, that is, “adaptation.” (To paraphrase Michael Keaton’s character at the climax of the movieBeetlejuice, “Nobody says the e-word!”) ;D

  9. Alan Conwell,
    Thank you for that link, Intelligent Falling, classic.

  10. I suspect that our whole approach to the dilemma posed by the word “theory” is misguided, and would like to know what other people here think.

    Your Evolution Institute link refers to the dictionary definition of “theory” as “hypothesis”, and contrasts this with “a scientific theory” which, we are told, “is an established body of knowledge about a certain subject, supported by observable facts, repeatable experiments, and logical reasoning.” (NAS does something similar)

    Wrong philosophicaly, philologically, and rhetorically. The word “theory”, like most words, is a bit fuzzy. It does not have two different meanings, the normal and the scientific, but a continuum between them. When, in 1859, Darwin referred to “my theory”, he certainly wasn’t claimng that it was “an established body of knowledge”. And Darwin’s own theory, that evolution was driven by natural selection, is only part of the story.

    IMO, we should outflank the “It’s a theory” move by simply stating “The evidence for evolution is overwhelming”. Definition-chopping is a game for theologians and lawyers, not scientists.

  11. Paul Braterman says:

    IMO, we should outflank the “It’s a theory” move by simply stating “The evidence for evolution is overwhelming”. Definition-chopping is a game for theologians and lawyers, not scientists.

    Nothing we do or say will silence creationists. They specialize in obfuscation, and nothing is immune from their attacks — except maybe math.

    Aside from that, it’s true that “The evidence for evolution is overwhelming” (although creationists will endlessly nit-pick), but the theory is the explanation of that evidence, so we’re back where we started.

  12. Agreed, no point debating creationists, but we do analyse their arguments in front of an audience (that’s what you and I do all the time).

    On reflection, I would harness your comment to my own argument. Common descent would be a fact even if we had no idea how it had happened, and the evidence for that fact has been overwhelming for a century (think of that DMS Watson quotation!), Our explanations of that fact, in contrast, have been, and are being, evolved.

    What creationists really object to is common descent, and that is where we should keep attention focussed while rebutting them.

  13. My preferred response to evolution is only a theory is, “Saying that evolution is ‘only a theory’ is like saying that Bill Gates is ‘only a multibillionnaire’. In both cases, the ‘only’ is in there to manufacture spurious doubt about the statement in question.”

  14. Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. There is no fee; I’m simply trying to add more content diversity for our co6mmunity and I enjoyed reading your work. If “OK” please let me know via email.


  15. Autumn Cote, you can link, excerpt, and comment. But you can’t just copy.