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Critique of Intelligent Design

Evolution vs. Creationism

The Art of ID Stuntmen

Faith vs Reason

Anthropic Principle

Autopsy of the Bible code

Science and Religion

Historical Notes


Serious Notions with a Smile


Letter Serial Correlation

Mark Perakh's Web Site

Evolution vs. Creationism

How a 'just so' story turns into just 'so?'-- HIV and the failures of Intelligent Design
Abigail Smith, the graduate student conducting research with HIV viruses who recently forced Michael Behe to grudgingly admit error in his book "Edge of Evolution" (to our knowledge it was the first ever occurrence of a leading advocate of intelligent design admitting an error) tells in this post the exciting story of a new development in virusology. This is a vivid example of the fertility of the genuine science being so much in contrast with the abject futility of intelligent design "theory." It also is another devastating hit upon Behe's erroneous position as evinced in his latest book so highly praised by the Discovery Institute's pseudo-scientists.
Smith, SA;
published: Feb 27, 2008

The Dover Books Cometh
The Kitzmiller vs DASD trial ("Dover trial") seems to continue attracting a lot of attention and interest (even a movie about it is reportedly in the works). In this post Nick Matzke, who himself was one of the active (albeit mainly behind the scenes) contributors to the trial, offers brief preliminary reviews of a number of books about the Dover trial, either just released or scheduled for release in the coming months. A discussion of this post can be seen at the Panda's Thumb blog.
Matzke, Nicholas ;
published: Feb 01, 2007

Wells vs Mutant Mice
Ian Musgrave convincingly debunks one more fallacious thesis suggested by pseudo-biologist and fighter against science, the "moonie" Wells. Discussion of this post can be seen at the Panda's Thumb blog.
Musgrave, Ian;
published: Jan 31, 2007

Macroevolution FAQ updated
John Wilkins discusses the concepts of macroevolution vs. microevolution. Many creationists (for example Behe) often assert that the fact of microevolution meets no objection but that macroevolution cannot occur via a Darwinian mechanism of random mutations plus natural selection, and therefore has never been observed. Besides the misrepresentation of the real modern evolutionary theory, such an assertion blatantly denies the overwhelming empirical evidence. It often obfuscates the meaning of the above terms. Wilkins's essay provides a clarification of the confusion perpetrated by creationists and reveals the actual contents of the terms "macroevolution" and "speciation." It is recommended that this essay be read in conjunction with Douglas Theobald's essay. Discussion of this post can be seen at the Panda's Thumb blog. (Off-site link.)
Wilkins, John S. ;
published: Sep 18, 2006

George Gilder's a priori Science
A recent National Review piece by Discovery Institute co-founder George Gilder tries to claim that information theory shows that evolution, as currently understood, is impossible. The problem with Gilder, and Intelligent Design in general, is that they get the scientific method exactly backwards -- they think they can show a priori that evolution (as currently understood) is impossible, while ignoring the overwhelming physical evidence for evolution that science has produced. Theorizing is important in science, but theories have to be tested against observations. Biology is so complex that any general statement, whether by a mathematician, philosopher, or intelligent design theorist, which claims evolution can't work is immediately suspicious and has to be tested against what we can actually observe in nature and the lab. Intelligent Design has produced no research because its advocates think they can disprove evolution without testing their theories and probability calculations through field studies and experiments.
White, Michael ;
published: Jul 17, 2006

Evolution of IC: Evolution of Hormone-Receptor Complexity
Dr. Musgrave, an expert in the field of interest, convincingly shows the dismal level of Behe's supposed rebuttal of the conclusions of Bridgham et al's paper, published recently in Science magazine. The paper in question provides strong evidence against Behe's concept of irreducible complexity, while Behe's attempt to undermine Bridgham et al's data is contradictory and misleading. A detailed discussion of this essay is found on the Panda's Thumb blog. Another discussion of this story is given by Carl Zimmer. Additional critique of Behe's IC concept can be seen, for example, in several essays on Talk Reason (such as at Beyond suboptimality, ID's irreducible inconsistency revisited, Irreducible Contradiction, A Free Lunch in a Mousetrap, Irreducible Complexity Demystified, Clotted rot for rotten clots, and others). Critique of the notions suggested by Lee Spetner can be seen, for example, at A Lost Chance and Information Theory and Creationism.
Musgrave, Ian;
published: Apr 14, 2006

The Final Adventures of the Blind Locksmith
The well known science writer, Carl Zimmer, addresses the paper by Bridgham et al, just published in the Science magazine, and the reaction to it from the ID pseudo-scientists. The paper in question provided strong evidence against Behe's irreducible complexity concept; ID advocates, led by Behe, as expected, tried to rebut the obvious conclusions from the paper's data by suggesting some contrived and contradictory notions. Another discussion of this story is in the post by Ian Musgrave.
Zimmer, Carl;
published: Apr 12, 2006

Bush, the Flu and Evolution
Professor Salzberg (director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Maryland and lead author of a recent study that sequenced the genomes of more than 200 human influenza viruses) argues that creationists of various kinds, including proponents of ID, commit a very dangerous disservice to the well being of people in trying to downplay the teaching of evolution and undermine people's trust in it by casting doubts on the fact of evolution. This creationist activity is especially sinister in view of the hazards of new viral and microbial pandemics, including the avian flew and other ever-reemerging viral infections, which can be successfully fought only based on the concepts of evolutionary biology. (Off-site link.)
Salzberg, Steven ;
published: Nov 18, 2005

New Trouble for Wells's "Icon of Anti-Evolution #1"...
The first of Jonathan Wells's "Icons of Evolution," in which Wells attacks the Miller-Urey experiments showing that amino acids could be generated by adding sparks to various gas mixtures, has long been recognized as full of errors, misrepresentations, and telling omissions. New work from Washington University in St. Louis supports Miller-Urey estimates of primordial atmospheric composition, and adds yet another nail to the "Icons of Evolution" coffin.
Thomas , David E.;
published: Sep 13, 2005

Clint Is Dead, Long Live Clint
Carl Zimmer discusses an important milestone in evolutionary biology: the publication of the first, still rudimentary, map of a chimpanzee genome, which may portend forthcoming elucidation of what evolutionary process has made us humans what we are and what makes us different from our closest animal relatives. (Off-site link.)
Zimmer, Carl;
published: Sep 03, 2005

Reply to a Creationist
This is a concise but reasonably comprehensive rebuttal of certain anti-evolution arguments, including those expressed by some anti-evolution letter-writers on Talk Reason (as regards speciation, the alleged racist implications of Darwinism, and the like). (Off-site link.)
J,, Steven;
published: Aug 27, 2005

The Cambrian as an evolutionary exemplar
This essay by Professor PZ Myers demonstrates the abject fallacy of the favorite anti-evolution argument of creationists (both of the young- earth and intelligent design varieties) regarding the so-called "Cambrian explosion." The evidence referred to in this essay clearly shows that the "Cambrian explosion" data fit in quite well with evolution theory.
Myers , PZ ;
published: Aug 15, 2005

Why Are Scientists Confident that Complex Biological Systems Evolved Gradually?
Proponents of ID argue that the action of an unspecified designer provides a better explanation than evolution for the origin of complex biological systems. They're wrong.
Rosenhouse, Jason ;
published: Aug 09, 2005

The Faith That Dare Not Speak Its Name
This essay, by Jerry Coyne, provides a rather comprehensive review of the Intelligent Design fallacy, as well as argumentation for evolution theory from the viewpoint of a professional biologist. It can serve as a good primer for those readers who are new to the evolution-ID debate, while for those readers who are familiar with this debate, this essay still provides interesting reading, as it puts together a mutitude of previously offered arguments against ID and in defense of evolution theory. (PDF format.)
Coyne, Jerry ;
published: Aug 13, 2005

The Revenge of Calvin and Hobbes; Behe's Meaningless Complexity
In these two essays Professor Bottaro shows the utter lack of substance in Behe's concept of irreducible complexity. (Behe responded to the first of these essays - see the pertinent link in Bottaro's second essay).
Comment: additional material critical of Behe's work and behavior can be seen at: Clotted Rot for Rotten Clots; Irreducible Complexity Demystified, Beyond Suboptimality, ID's Irreducible Inconsistency Revisited, and Irreducible Contradiction.
Bottaro, Andrea;
published: Jun 05, 2005

Iconoclasts of Evolution: Haeckel, Behe, Wells & the Ontogeny of a Fraud
In this essay three biologists -- experts in evolutionary biology -- show that the critique of Darwinism by Michael Behe and Jonathan Wells stems from their being either deeply confused or intentionally confusing in regard to the well-known facts firmly established in biological science. This article was published in The American Biology Teacher, Volume 67, Issue 5 pp. 275-282.
Pickett, Kurt M. ; Wenzel, John W. ; Rissing, Steven W. ;
published: Jun 01, 2005

Dino Blood Redux
Over a decade ago Mary Higby Schweitzer began her research career by announcing that she and professor Jack Horner had discovered evidence of blood residues in a Tyrannosaur rex femur. There followed many years of creationists' distortion of those findings which they presented as support for a young Earth (see G. Hurd, Dino Blood and the Young Earth). In April of this year, Schweitzer and Horner were again at the center of a media circus prompted by their announcement that this time they had discovered blood vessels and identifiable cells. The creationist reaction was immediate. Hurd reviews these new discoveries, their presentation in the popular media, and the sadly predictable creationist responses.
Hurd, Ph.D., Gary S. ;
published: May 08, 2005

Observed Instances of Speciation
In this essay, which complements 29 Evidences for Macroevolution by Douglas Theobald, Joseph Boxhorn documents the extensive empirical material accumulated in evolutionary biology which demonstrates the utter fallacy of a favorite argument by creationists of all variations who maintain that macroevolution (i.e. speciation) has never been observed. In fact speciation is a well established fact accepted beyond doubt by mainstream biological science. (Off-site link)
Boxhorn, Joseph ;
published: Mar 14, 2005

Icons of Evolution?: Why much of what Jonathan Wells writes about evolution is wrong
In this essay biologist Alan Gishlick critically dissects the notorious book Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells and demonstrates the substandard level of Well's discourse and fallaciousness of Wells's arguments directed against evolution theory in general and against its presentation in biology textbooks in particular. This essay is complemented by some other posts on this site (Icon of Obfuscation, The peppered moth: a black and white story after all, and Moonshine: Why the Peppered Moth Remains an Icon of Evolution). (Off-site link)
Gishlick, Alan ;
published: Jan 23, 2005

29+ Evidences for Macroevolution
In this essay Dr. Douglas Theobald provides a detailed discussion of speciation which is the process of the emergence of new species via the Darwinian descent with modification. Creationists of various kinds, from young earth creationists to intelligent design advocates (some of whom shy away of the label "creationists") usually refer to speciation as "macroevolution" and insist that it has never been observed, while all instances of evolution observed have only been within the confines of "microevolution." The latter term refers to such changes of organisms that do not result in the emergence of new species -- examples are developments of strains of bacteria resistant to antibiotics, producing various breeds of dogs etc. Evolutionary biology makes no principal distinction between "micro-" and "macroevolution" and Dr. Theobald's meticulous treatment of that problem shows the lack of substantiation in the creationist position.
Theobald, Douglas L. ;
published: Jan 17, 2005

Why It's Unconstitutional to Teach "Intelligent Design" in the Public Schools as an Alternative to Evolution
In this essay Professor of law Michael C. Dorf suggests legal reasons for disallowing intelligent design to be taught in public schools as an alternative to evolution theory (Off-site link).
Dorf, Michael;
published: Dec 25, 2004

Meyer's Hopeless Monster
This article contains a preliminary review of
Meyer, Stephen C. 2004. The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117(2):213-239.
by Alan Gishlick, Nick Matzke, and Wesley R. Elsberry. While the Discovery Institute has produced a number of press releases claiming that Meyer's paper was met with "hysteria" and "name-calling" while avoiding "the scientific issues", we trust that readers of this review will find that we cover a variety of scientific issues that Meyer himself avoided. As with previous ID work, Meyer makes no positive case for "intelligent design", instead relying upon negative arguments concerning evolutionary biology.
[The views and statements expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of NCSE or its supporters.]
Gishlick, Alan ; Matzke, Nicholas ; Elsberry, Wesley R.;
published: Sep 12, 2004

Evidence from Biochemical Pathways in Favor of Unfinished Evolution rather than Intelligent Design
In this essay three scientists, Behrman, Marzluf, and Bentley, all experts in biochemistry and related fields, provide several telltale examples of what they refer to as "unfinished" or "imperfect" evolution observed in real biological systems. These examples pose a serious problem for the Intelligent Design hypothesis while being easily understood within the framework of the Darwinian evolution theory. (Off-site link, PDF format.)
Behrman, Edward J. ; Marzluf, George A. ; Bentley, Ronald ;
published: Jul 01, 2004

The Fact of Evolution: Implications for Science Education
Creationists who object to evolution in the science curriculum of public schools often cite Jonathan Well's book Icons of Evolution in their support. In the third chapter of his book Wells claims that neither paleontological nor molecular evidence supports the thesis that the history of life is an evolutionary process of descent from preexisting ancestors. In this article professors James R. Hofmann and Bruce H. Weber argue that Wells inappropriately relies upon ambiguities inherent in the term "Darwinian" and the phrase "Darwin's theory." Furthermore, he does not accurately distinguish between the overwhelming evidence that supports the thesis of common descent and controversies that pertain to causal mechanisms such as natural selection. Hofmann and Weber also argue that Wells' attempts to undermine the evidence in support of common descent are flawed and his characterization of the relevant data is misleading. In particular, his assessment of the "Cambrian explosion" does not do justice to the fossil record. Nor do his selective references to debate about molecular and paleontological phylogenies constitute a case against common descent. Hofmann and Weber conclude that the fossil and molecular evidence is more than sufficient to warrant science educators presenting common descent as a well-established scientific fact. They also argue that diagrams depicting the "tree of life" can be pedagogically useful as simplified representations of the history of life. (Offsite -- when this site opens, click on PDF button at the screen's top to view the full text.)
Weber , Bruce H. ; Hofmann , James R. ;
published: Jan 30, 2004

Moonshine: Why the Peppered Moth Remains an Icon of Evolution
ID advocates routinely try to deny the reality of natural selection as one of the main mechanisms of evolution by attacking the data on industrial melanism in peppered moths reported by a British naturalist Bernard Kettlewell. In this article, physicist Matt Young offers a statistical analysis of Kettlewell's data and shows that Kettlewell's data are sound. A journalist, Judith Hooper, has insinuated that the distinguished naturalist somehow falsified his landmark study. Careful analysis of Kettlewell's data shows nothing of the kind; to the contrary, the daily variations in Kettlewell's data reflect nothing more than normal experimental uncertainty and possibly a contribution from exposure to moonlight. Hooper's innuendo, widely repeated on the Internet, is at best based on a perverse misunderstanding of experimental science.
Young, Matt;
published: Jan 27, 2004

The peppered moth: a black and white story after all
The peppered moth melanism is one of the vivid manifestations of rapid evolution in which natural selection plays a dominant role. There are many publications discussing this matter, and the experimental data obtained by several biologists, of which one of the best known was H. B. D. Kettlewell, found their way into school textbooks on biology. Lately, however, the data in question were subjected to reevaluation by several authors who were trying to cast doubt on Ketllewell's reports, and some of them even hinted at a possible fraud involved in the peppered moth melanism story. The ID advocates saw this controversy as an opportunity to negate the theory of natural selection and to cast aspersions on the integrity of those biologists who adhere to Darwinian conceptual system. One of the most notorious attempts in that ditrection was the book Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells, whose serious deficiencies are analyzed, for example, in Icon of Obfuscation, an article by Nic Tamzek on this site. Jim Mallet, a professor of biology in England, shows in his article the lack of substantiation in the attempts to dismiss the data on peppered moth melanism which remain a strong evidence of evolution and of natural selection as one of its dominant mechanisms. Although as a scientist Mallet does not even mention Wells's book, discussing only the critique of the moth melanism by more serious authors, readers familiar with the matter will also see that Mallet's arguments show the complete lack of substance in Well's attack on this example of evolution (which also can be equally said about Wells's attack on all other alleged "icons" of evolution).
Mallet, Jim;
published: Dec 09, 2003
updated: Dec 09, 2003

Background to "Evolution in (Brownian) space: a model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum."
This is an auxiliary file to N. Matzke's article "Evolution in (Brownian) space: a model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum."
Matzke, Nicholas ;
published: Nov 15, 2003

Evolution in (Brownian) space: a model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum
The evolution of a complex system such as the bacterial flagellum is sometimes seen as a puzzle for evolutionary theory. In this article a detailed and testable model is proposed, based on a wide survey of relevant literature. The model proposes six major stages and the plausibility of each stage is documented. This study constitutes another passed test for evolutionary theory, and further weakens the case of those advocating extraordinary alternatives. (PDF format)
Matzke, Nicholas ;
published: Oct 11, 2003
updated: Nov 10, 2003

Spetner and Biological Information
This essay reveals serious deficiencies in Lee Spetner's discussion of information in biological systems. As the author of this essay shows, Spetner's treatment of biological information is inherently contradictory and, moreover, is contrary to the vast body of factual data accumulated in biological sciences. The detailed discussion of the subject accompanied by actual examples show that the arbitrary assumptions adopted by Spetner and unsubstantiated suppositions in regard to the increase - decrease of information in biological processes make Spetner's Non-Random Evolution Hypothesis of no consequence for the progress of biology. (A critique of Spetner's book from another standpoint is found in A Lost Chance.)
Musgrave, Ian;
published: Aug 17, 2003

Icon of Obfuscation
In this article Nic Tamzek (the pen name of the biologist Nicholas Matzke) offers a detailed chapter-by-chapter critical analysis of Jonathan Wells's book Icons of Evolution which has been highly acclaimed by the Intelligent Design advocates as an allegedly devastating fact-based rebuttal of evolution theory, especially of biology textbooks. Tamzek demonstrates the lack of substantiation in Well's egregioulsy biased opus wherein Wells distorts the evolution theory and misrepresents facts, so that his acclaimed book is just one of the worst pieces of an agenda-inspired propaganda in a pseudo-scientific disguise.
Tamzek, Nic;
published: May 26, 2003

Berlinski's Anti-Scientific Scandal
Commentary is an influential journal of a conservative bent where various problems of political and sociological nature are often discussed on a sophisticated level. It is, though, not a scientific publication. Nevertheless, it has published several articles by David Berlinski aimed at repudiating Darwinism. His previous publication in that vein was a subject of five reviews on this site (Has Darwin Met His Match in Berlinski?). In its April 2003 issue Commentary has one more opus by Berlinski titled A Scientific Scandal. In this item we post reviews of that paper written by a number of scientists.
Dunkelberg, Pete; Eterman, Alexander; Gross, Paul R. ; Matzke, Nicholas ; Nilsson, Dan-E.; Perakh, Mark; Rosenhouse, Jason ; Young, Matt;
published: Apr 29, 2003
updated: Jun 13, 2003

Irreducible Complexity Demystified
This article offers a detailed critique, from a bilogical standpoint, of the Irreducible Complexity concept, introduced by Michael Behe and vigorously promoted by Intelligent Design advocates. Using vivid examples from the biosphere, Pete Dunkelberg demonstrates the lack of substantiation for Behe's notions.
Dunkelberg, Pete;
published: Apr 15, 2003
updated: Apr 27, 2003

Has Darwin met his match in Berlinski?
This item contains brief articles by five authors, critically discussing a paper David Berlinski published in the December 2002 issue of the Commentary magazine, "Has Darwin Met His Match?".
Eterman, Alexander; Gross, Paul R. ; Perakh, Mark; Rosenhouse, Jason ; Young, Matt;
published: Dec 16, 2002
updated: Dec 31, 2002

Evolving Immunity
A response to chapter 6 of Darwin's Black Box, discussing critical mistakes in M. J. Behe's outline of IC biochemical systems in the immune system.
Inlay, Matt;
published: Jun 30, 2002