May 312006

What I love about Darwinists is that every once in awhile you get something delicious like the ones that I’ve blogged about here, here and here. This latest morsel comes from Jeffrey Schwartz, a noted anthropologist at the University of Pittsburgh (credit to Dembski @ UD for the find). According to this article, Schwartz thinks that “Darwin was wrong, and his modern-day adherents perpetuate his mistakes”.

Before I continue further please let me make my disclaimer. The reader should know Professor Schwartz is a committed naturalistic evolutionist for the diversification of life. He is just skeptical of the current theory (if you could call it that) of Darwinism.

Let’s begin with an appetizer from the article, which ironically is at the end of the article.

Also, the challenge to evolutionary thinking in recent decades from advocates of Intelligent Design and creationism have impelled many scientists to band together in defense of Darwin’s ideas, shoving alternative theories to the background.

Yes, I agree with this assessment. You’ve seen it reported that universities around the country where faculties are banding together in signed letters chastising ID. I can understand the herd mentality when their metaphysics is threatened; Darwinism is a prerequisite for Atheism. What is more interesting is Schwartz’s observation of other Darwinian scientists. I am not sure if he realize it or not but he is making the case that many IDers have been saying for a long time, as least I have. Darwinists are driven by their religious biases and not objective scientific pursuit of the truth. This is the reason why Darwinists so vociferously declare that evolution is a fact as gravity is a fact, and there are overwhelming evidence to support that fact. As I demonstrated in this blog, Darwinian evolution is far from being a fact. The underlying speculation of gradualism in random mutation and natural selection does not even qualify as a theory. This observation/admission is so delicious that it qualify as a dessert. Sometimes it is good to start a meal with a dessert as an appetizer. 🙂

Moving on to the juicy part of the meal.

He does take issue with two key parts of traditional Darwinian thinking, though — gradualism and adaptation.
Gradualism holds that new species evolve from their ancestors through tiny, incremental changes. Adaptation says those changes come in response to shifting conditions in the environment.

ID makes the exact same challenge to Darwinism. Why is it that IDists are accused of being religiously motivated when no such accusation is hurled at Schwartz? Is it because IDists don’t confess the atheistic dogma of methodological naturalism? Ken Miller is accepted by the Darwinian rank and file as long as he confess that Naturalism is the supreme creator.

“We have abundant evidence,” Darwin wrote in one of his books, “of the constant occurrence under nature of slight individual differences of the most diversified kinds; and we are thus led to conclude that species have generally originated by the natural selection of extremely slight differences.”
Dr. Schwartz said he has two problems with that view.
First, if evolution were gradual, there should be a record of continuous changes in prehistoric fossils, but there are many gaps between species in the fossil record.
Darwin said it was simply bad fortune that those intermediate fossils were missing.

When you are Charles Darwin or a NDE there is no room to be confused by the facts. Face with the reality of insufficient evidence you just have to blame it on dumb luck. That is how science works. Or is it?

But there is another possibility, Dr. Schwartz said. There isn’t a huge number of missing transitional fossils because they were never there in the first place. Instead, new species emerged suddenly due to genetic alterations that created sharp differences with their predecessors.

I am sorry Dr. Schwartz. You lucidity only goes so far. As an anthropologist, you might think that these gaps can be filled by sudden random genetic alterations, but do you know the amount of sudden and simultaneous genetic changes necessary for such a feat? They must border in the order of miracles. 🙂

Another problem with gradualism, he argued, is that it suggests that complex structures, such as a vertebrate’s eyes or a mammal’s mammary glands, had thousands of slightly different precursors in earlier creatures. That defies logic

That defies logic. I can’t agree more.

Modern evolutionary thinkers like Niles Eldredge and the late Stephen Jay Gould dealt with the fossil gaps by coming up with the theory of “punctuated equilibrium.” Creatures evolved pretty much the way Darwin had described, they said, but not at a steady pace. Sometimes there would be fallow periods; sometimes there would be profligate explosions of new species.

Fast is good, and that would solve the problem of missing fossil records. But how did it make all those changes in such short of a time? If Darwin relied on luck PE is miraculously lucky.

Dr. Schwartz contends that new organisms are probably generated by random changes in developmental genes, and that any new features they have will remain in existence as long as they don’t hurt the creatures’ chances of survival.

Sorry Dr. Schwartz, but this is just Darwinian Fizzbin. Where did the developmental genes come from? Where are the pathways for these genes to function? i.e. The Pax-6 genes encode transcription factors. These transcription factors have no purpose if the pathway for eye development does not exist. Therefore, you have this complex chain of DNA sequence for a developmental gene, popping into existence in a very short evolutionary time. However, it has no function and it is assumed to be neutral, and not have killed the organism during and after its’ development. Now who is talking about “defies logic”?

I would like to thank (sincerely) Dr. Schwartz for some of his sober and honest look at Darwinism. We definitely have disagreement about the alternative theory to Darwinian evolution. I commend Dr. Schwartz for not being so biased that he will defend a failed hypothesis that defies logic. I enjoyed this meal and now I am full. 😀

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