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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Taking the Axe to Darwinism


Douglas Axe is a heretic. He's a molecular biologist who did his doctoral work at Caltech and went on to postdoctoral work at the University of Cambridge. As such, he can't be dismissed as some uneducated Bible thumping Luddite.

In his book Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life is Designed, Axe is arguing that evolutionary science is closed to any other explanations for the origin and development of life despite the inadequacies of natural selection to explain how life began and how natural selection is able to result in entirely new life forms.

Advocates of Intelligent Design are like the ugly step child. On the one hand the pro-evolution community dismisses them as creationists. On the other hand there are many people that believe the Bible says the earth is 6,000 years old, so that is good enough for them. They don't like ID'ers either because they seem to reject the correctness of the literal Bible. Axe can expect poor reviews from both these camps, but for those who are not already set in their beliefs, the book is a great read.

Axe's main theme is that when something appears to be designed, it is likely to be designed. He gives examples of how we can view small segments of written pages vs jumbled letters or photos vs jumbled pixels and from these small segments it is easy to see which is designed and which is not. Because life at the basic building blocks level also displays elements of design, it follows that a designer is involved.

Axe's position is that the biological sciences community is adamant to defend Darwinism even when advances in science prove Darwin to be more wrong than ever. He points out that others who make the same criticism of Darwinism as he does are still welcome in the church of evolution because they propose new ideas that also build on undirected evolution.

Critics of Axe are upset because he openly professes to be a believer in the Christian God. As if that were a bad thing. I guess it is a bad thing, at least if you are an evangelizing atheist with a mission to tear down religion and replace it with Godless science. Axe even gives an example of a scientist who used the "G" word in an article and the publication received complaints and had to withdraw its approval, even though there was no criticism of the contents of the article itself.

Axe's belief system should not discredit his science. A scientist who wants to cure cancer would not be criticized for his position or have his views questioned. Axe should be given the same level of recognition.

Critics of ID are fond of saying that it is not science because it doesn't get published in peer reviewed papers. This can largely be explained by the wall put up by the defenders of Darwiniac dogma. Nobody is allowed to criticize the establishment viewpoint. It would be easier to believe that the New York Times would hire Rush Limbaugh as their editor. Don't expect that to happen.

In the meantime, readers can consider Axe's well argued pro-design book and come away with a logical understanding of why design is a more likely explanation for our existence than the blind chance that evolution is build on.

I recognize that I have higher than normal interest in this subject. As a student of history, I see the rise of acceptance of evolution has coincided with a lowering of cultural standards. After all, if evolution proves that there is no God and no scriptural right and wrong then you are excused to create your own morals, or lack of them. I wrote my play Inherit the Wind Overturned by Design back in 2009 as a vehicle to contrast the positions of ID and evolution in an entertaining format so people can consider the argument for the ID position. Those interested in the ID subject should enjoy the contrast to the popular 1950's era play it satires.

Quotes I liked from Undeniable:

Evolution seems to be an inadequate replacement for knowledge. Indeed, if our design intuition holds true, nothing is an adequate replacement for knowledge.

Dan Tawfik hit the nail on the head: Nothing evolves unless it already exists. (p 97)

With respect to the invention of living things, then, a commitment to materialism is a commitment to accidental explanation, and a commitment to accidental explanation is a commitment to coincidence, and a commitment to coincidence is a commitment to the power of repetition. (p 103)

Blind causes are so fundamentally unlike insight that any instance of them looking insightful would be coincidental. Coincidences do happen, of course, but we know from experience that major ones are much more rare and therefore more surprising than minor ones. (p 152)

The implications for invention are clear. If the invention of a working X is a whole project requiring extensive new functional coherence, then the invention of X by accidents of any kind is physically impossible. Why? Because for accidental causes to match insight on this scale would be a fantastically improbable coincidence and our universe simply can't deliver fantastically improbable coincidences. (153)

Natural selection happens only after cells are arranged in ways that work to keep the organism alive, so selection can hardly be the cause of these remarkable arrangements. Darwin's simplistic explanation has failed, and the millions who have followed him have nothing but his outdated assumption to stand on. (192)

Dutch botanist Hugo De Vries "Natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest." (220)


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1 comment:

  1. //Natural selection happens only after cells are arranged in ways that work to keep the organism alive, so selection can hardly be the cause of these remarkable arrangements. ///

    While I don't have Axe's book in front of me to see the whole context of this statement, I recall seeing this often on Evolution News and Views articles, no doubt ghost authored by Axe.

    Natural selection provides for those 'arrangements' we SEE...the results as it were. Mutations are what provide those arrangements in the first place, and thus, which further arrangements that can later take place. So it is very nonsensical to offer that selection is the cause of these arrangements. It simply dictates which ones can even happen. So Darwin's explanation is entirely valid, and if those are truly Axe's words from page 192 (I arguably likely never made it that far into the book anyway), then he's a bigger idiot that I even credited him for originally.

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