Monday, January 04, 2010

How you could scientifically test Intelligent Design

An argument has been raging over the idea of teaching 'intelligent design,' i.e. introducing into science lessons the idea that a Creator could have directed the process of evolution. The reason why I've opposed teaching it in a science class is because for something to qualify as science there has to be scientific evidence. Recent advances in science (notably the Human Genome project) have given us the tools we could use to actually test whether random chance is sufficient to explain evolution or if it is insufficient; if it is insufficient that would provide some hard scientific evidence at least of some other influence which accelerated the process. I've contemplated how this could be tested scientifically for years, hence the following post:

Recently I've discovered the joy of facebook (well, specifically, I had it thrust upon me one day about a month ago when my precocious thirteen year old decided I should be on it and came up to me and announced, "Dad, you have a facebook. What's your password?") It's actually been great though, as I've discovered people from all different phases of my life. So yes, if you've noticed a recent drop in blog volume that may be one reason why (as well as the fact that I'm in the process of writing a math book.) Blogging however has some specific and useful qualities and one of them is it gives me room to lay out some deeper thoughts (hence the name of this blog.)

On facebook, There is a page for the U.S. Constitution (yes, I'm a fan.) Often there are discussions there about the topic of 'Intelligent design' (I'm not sure why they show up so often on the U.S. Constitution message board but they do.) Intelligent Design is the idea that while life may evolve, the process of evolution itself (or whatever other method one ascribes to explain the diversity of life) is directed by the unseen hand of an intelligent Creator. In other words, it's a continuation of the debate that has raged since Darwin first published his work more than 150 years ago.

I'd like to first quote a rebuttal I gave to one proponent and then expand on an idea that I alluded to in the comment.

The rebuttal is as follows:

It's not that science does not look at all possibilities, it's that what is taught as basic knowlege in a science class is theory backed by evidence.

I personally do believe that God directed the process of evolution, but unless I can show some hard scientific evidence (fossil record, DNA or otherwise) then that is my opinion (and maybe even the opinion of hundreds of millions of people) but that doesn't in itself make it science.

As a matter of fact, I did once design an experiment that could actually test intelligent design but as far as I know it or any other experiment to test the same have never been carried out. Until there is experimental evidence it's not science.

Which brings us to the question HOW WOULD YOU TEST INTELLIGENT DESIGN?

A proper scientific experiment has to meet certain criteria. It must be replicable (i.e. someone else should be able to do the same experiment that you are doing, and get the same results); it must include a hypothesis before you actually produce any results stating clearly what you are theorizing and what results you would expect to see if your hypothesis is correct; and it must be consistent with what has previously been observed or discovered scientifically.

With the opening up of the genome, I have an idea for how you could test intelligent design. Granted, it's a rudimentary idea and one which would require extensive computer modeling, very complex calculations and certainly some guesswork in which you could only look at a high and a low end, but nonetheless it is an idea that could be tested scientifically.

Suppose we have the genome of a human and the genome of a simple eukaryotic cellular organism similar to the earliest eukaryotic cells on earth (both of which thanks to science including the Human Genome Project, we do have.) We could then use mathematical modeling to model how many random mutations the DNA of the eukaryotic cell would have to go through to produce a human (or a rat, monkey or elephant if you prefer.) You could also determine (and this is where some level of guesswork comes in, especially given our less than perfect knowlege of science) how many generations you would go through in going from a cell billions of years old to a modern day human.

Once you had that number and you've already used supercomputers to model the number of mutations you could get a number for the requisite number of mutations per generation (or heck, maybe it's generations per mutation-- I'm just suggesting a design for the experiment; someone else will have to crunch the numbers.)

NOW YOU NEED TO SEE IF THIS NUMBER IS HIGHER THAN THE RATE AT WHICH MUTATION WOULD HAPPEN BY PURELY RANDOM CHANCE. To do this you take a known species of bacteria and place one group in an unstressed and another in a stressed environment (such as heat or cold or the presence of a toxic chemical.) Some degree of natural selection would take place in the second group. You then measure the number of generations the bacteria go through and then find the genome of the end product of both the stressed and unstressed groups. If the number of mutations per generation is comparable to the mathematical model you had before (which should lie between these numbers given that the natural environment is sometimes, but not always stressed) then it would suggest that evolution happened by random occurrence. On the other hand if the mathematical model for the rate at which mutations had to occur was significantly larger than the range you have (say, even faster than rate of mutation of the stressed bacteria) then you will have produced scientific evidence that evolution by random mutation alone would be insufficient to explain the difference between eukaryotes and humans.

Would this solve the debate? No. Regardless of the results, you can be sure of that (either one side would say that the Creator didn't want to be detected and therefore fooled with the experiment, or the other would say that the lower than needed rate of mutation in the experiment might be explicable by something other than a Creator, such as contamination in the laboratory.) And both sides would certainly point to the guesswork and unknowns involved if they didn't like the results.

Conceded. But the unknowns and guesswork are based on things we don't know yet in science, but as science evolves (yes, science does evolve) we will have fewer guesses and more certainty.

The Genome project however has at least given us a WAY that we COULD try to test Intelligent Design. And until and unless it is tested and some evidence is found, it is not appropriate to teach it in a science class.


Jack Hampton said...

Interesting idea. You should mail it to the creation science institute and see if they have the guts to take you up on it.

The problem is that creationists want to insert things that aren't science into a science class. Religion belongs in church, and if it is taught in school at all it belongs in a religion class, or maybe in a philosophy class (and that's a stretch.) Science deals with things you can observe and measure.

Michael D said...

Okay, science deals with things you can observe and measure. I have to admit you guys are probably way smarter than me, but I wonder how you would observe and measure evolution? If evolution is observable and measurable...has it been done? Evolution is a theory, an educated guess. Where is the evidence of evolution? As I said I am just a simple minded layman so I don't know the answers to these questions. Maybe you smart guys can educate my simple mind. And if evolution really happened to man then how come there aren't any monkey's showing up once in a while in families (other than the relatives that act like monkeys, and we all have them)? And one more thing about evolution, if it were really something that occurred in man, why can't man mate with some animal and produce offspring? Wouldn't we have the same DNA or something like that?

Actually I don't think that creation can be proven in a lab because it was a one time event. It was performed by an All Powerful and All Mighty God Being wasn't it? And if that's the case, how would we, the creation, be able to duplicate what was done by a being that is outside of our scope of comprehension? Maybe I am just to dumb to believe anything other than that "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". Genesis 1:1. And you know whats interesting is He doesn't really tell you how He just say's he did. Accept it or reject it! I don't think he minds if you don't accept it. I think He knows He is and our acceptance or rejection of His being is really up to us! Just a thought! Thanks for the Deep Thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Using probability doesn't prove anything. Unlikely events do happen. For example, a royal flush is extremely improbable, but not impossible. It is evidence of neither cheating nor divine intervention if I play such a hand during a game. Likewise, it is not evidence of divine intervention if life evolved despite long odds; it may simply be a "freak occurrence."

Similarly, a mutation rate which matches that needed for evolution is not evidence against a creator. Perhaps the creator "stacked the deck" before hand to achieve the desired result, but stacked the deck in a way that is not obvious.

You seem, Eli, to have missed the most important part of scientific method: the experiment must actually test your hypothesis. In this case, it does not.

Intelligent design is built upon a flawed hypothesis - the assumption that the inexplicable must be the result of an outside force. "Science cannot explain how X (Krebs cycle, flagellum, etc) could have evolved, therefore there must be a designer lending a guiding hand." But that does not follow, our inability to explain some phenomenon my simply be a result of our ignorance or lack of imagination. Indeed, all of the inexplicable "irreducibly complex" systems that Micheal Behe published in his book "Darwin's Black Box" have since been explained (most with solid scientific backing).

Anonymous said...

@Micheal D.
An example of evolution in action is bacteria's development of resistance to antibiotics. This is a change in the organism, over generations, to a stress in the environment. Those hostile to evolution as an explanation of origin of species would argue that this is micro-evolution (change within a species), not macro-evolution (change from one species to another). Because evolution occurs over many generations, it would take an extremely long term experiment to observe macro-evolution, even with a species that produced a new generation every year.

In regards to your question about monkey children, the answer is two-fold. First, man did not evolve from monkeys, just as you did not descend from your cousin. Rather, man and ape have a common ancestor (a million generations back), just as you and your cousin have a common ancestor (a couple generations back). Second, for one of my children to look like Lucy, all the genetic mutations have occurred over the last million generations would have to occur in a single generation.

For two animals to breed, there must be a certain degree of genetic similarity. For example, all humans, regardless of race, have dna that is 99.9% identical. Chimps have dna that is only 95-96% similar. Humans have 23 chromosomes compared to 24 for chimps.

Science requires a testable hypothesis. Until we can test for the existence of a God, science is agnostic (NOT atheistic).

Michael D said...

@ Anonymous,

You said alot in your response to my post and yet you really said nothing.
That a piece of bacteria and develop a resistance does not to me prove that evolution truly is how man was created. Your hypothesis does not answer the basic question, Can man "CREATE" human life or life of any kind? If man cannot "create" life then we are only working from something that is already created, already in existence aren't we? So we come back to the question, how did life begin? Science has no answer for this basic question because science cannot duplicate creation, it seems to this uneducated layman. Thanks again!

Eli Blake said...

Lots to answer here.

First, I once had evolution defined as 'the change in the genetic makeup of organisms over time.' Time in this case being measured in generations.

you can measure the rate of evolution, which is what the experiment I laid out proposes to measure.

Anonymous: Actually the experiment does test the hypothesis. If we take the hypothesis to be the presence of a creator or other force pushing evolution along then the hypothesis would be stated as: IF there is such a force then the observed rate of mutation in the bacteria should be less than the calculated rate of mutation based on the differences in genomes.

You are also confusing probability with statistical inference. What we are in effect doing is calculating a statistic (rate of evolution as defined in the post) based on measurements. True that in ONE hand of cards you have the possibility of a royal flush (in fact I've personally witnessed a straight flush, a guy got the 4-5-6-7-8 of spades.) But over time what statistical theory shows is that the incidence of the same would approach a limiting value which is the true liklihood of a royal flush. It's the same concept as if you flip a coin four times it is certainly possible that you could get three heads (or for that matter four heads) but if you flip it billions of times the proportion of heads will be very close to (though almost certainly not exactly) one half. Probability is the liklihood of an occurrence on one event. Statistics is the study of what happens over multiple events, and that is what we are looking at in this experiment.

Michael D: Monkeys don't show up in humans because humans have a distinct genome that is millions of years separated from a monkey. For a monkey to be born to a human you'd need billions of sudden mutations occur simultaneously (and most likely if that many did occur you'd have a miscarriage anyway.)

As I said, this is far from an experiment which would prove anything, but it is a stab at how the idea of creation vs. evolution could be tested scientifically. But saying it doesn't do enough is a little like saying that Galileo didn't really accomplish much because today's telescopes can see primordial matter while his was no better than a pair of cheap binoculars you could buy today in a five and dime store. You could say that, but it misses the point.

Anonymous said...

@Micheal D
In your original post, you asked if evolution has been observed. I gave one (of many) examples in which evolution has been observed in our time. That example (and others) shows that evolution is observable and real. I do agree with you that it does not answer the question of how man (of life in general) came to be. First, evolution can explain how various species developed from the first life-form, but evolution does NOT explain how that first life-form came to be. Second, while evolution CAN explain how man developed, there might be other explanations, including creation (by a god or aliens).

While we have never seen evidence of life outside of the earth, we have seen complex organic molecules, some of the building blocks of life. These molecules are believed to occur from random chemical reactions occurring naturally. Life could have resulted from the random chemical reactions of such molecules forming the first living organisms. Again, "could have" is not the same thing as "did."

Anonymous said...

You seem to misunderstand the very fundamentals of probability and statistics. Your statement that if I flip a coin a billion times that I would get approximately equal numbers of heads and tail is inaccurate. The correct statement is that I would MOST LIKELY get approx. equal numbers. It is possible, however unlikely, that I could get 100M heads and 900M tails (or even 1B head and 0 tails). You seem to equate improbable with impossible, but the two are not synonymous.

Since mutations (both nature and frequency) are random, your experiment would only give a likelihood that man could have evolved. Even if the odds are a billion to one against, it is still possible that man evolved without the aid of an intelligent designer. Contrarily, even if the odds are good, it is still possible that the intelligent designer provided a guiding hand. Perhaps "God doesn't throw dice" and decided not to leave things to chance. To use a poker analogy, my royal flush (1 in 650,000 chance) may be blind luck (no divine intervention); or, on the flip side, my pair (2 in 3 chance) could be the result of divine intervention.

Another way of expressing the flaw in your reasoning to say you are falsely assuming we are playing a single hand. If there are a billion earths in this vast universe of ours, and the odds of man evolving are 1 in a billion, then we would expect one of those earths have evolved human life. Most of those earths will have mutation rates approaching the norm, but a few will have rates far removed from the norm. Ours could be the one far removed from the norm.

A third way of expressing the flaw in your reasoning is to state that you are taking a snap-shot in time and falsely assuming it must be representative of the entire timeline. Taking your coin flip analogy, you are observing the rate at which I tossed heads in the last hundred flips and assuming it applies to the entire billion flips I performed. If by some fluke I tossed 80H and 20T, you will expect 800M heads and declare divine intervention when you see my 500M heads.

I do not criticize Galileo's telescope b/c he never claimed it would allow him to see primordial matter. You, however, did claim this statistical analysis to be a test of Intelligent Design.

Eli Blake said...

Actually, I have a master's degree in mathematics with area of specialization of statistics (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, 1986-- look it up.)

If you flipped a fair coin (with p = 0.5) a billion times you would get an expected value of half a billion heads, and with a standard deviation of about 15,811. Using the convergence of the binomial distribution to a normal when n is large you get that there is less than a 1 in 10,000 chance that the number of heads would be more than four standard deviations above or below the mean (and for ease in calculation I'll even expand it slightly,) in other words there is less than one chance in 10,000 that the number of heads would NOT be between say, 499,935,000 and 500,065,000. In other words the observed frequency of heads would with probability in excess of .9999 be between .499935 and .500065.

We always concede in ANY scientific experiment that there is the possibility of a type I error, in other words that we perceive a significant result when in fact there is none. The scientific standard for this is generally taken to be .05 (a 5% chance of a statistically significant result being observed if in fact the result is purely due to random variation and not some other factor.)

The chance of getting 900 million or 1 billion heads or 900 million or 1 billion tails in 1 billion flips of a fair coin is so fantastically remote that probably nothing that unlikely has ever been observed in the history of the earth. Statisticians and scientists therefore are justified in ignoring even the possibility-- by the literal definition it may not be impossible but in fact, it is.

Also, I think you are not considering the design of the experiment. By necessity we are limited to only considering the evolution of life on earth. If we later discover other planets where life has evolved then we can revise our model. So we have to compare what we see on earth with a controlled model. Ergo the growth of bacteria which we can observe in a setting where we can manipulate the rate of genetic alteration. Could a divine power intervene in our experiment to avoid detection? Of course. As I said, this experiment wouldn't definitively prove anything. But I continue to suggest that it could provide some hard scientific evidence that would suggest either that there is or that there is not a creator.

Anonymous said...

I am aware of your math background. For the record, while I am not a mathematician, I have studied prob. & stat. (differential equations, etc) and use it professionally. The problem is not your application of the math, but the very fundamental, underlying assumption you are making: namely, that improbable equates to impossible.

You mentioned in an earlier post that you witnessed a straight flush in a poker game. That is an improbable (1 in 72K) event; did you accuse him of cheating? If not why must we invoke an intelligent designer to explain the evolution of man in the event of said evolution being improbable?

If you witnessed a royal flush (1 in 650K) would that event be improbable enough for you to confidently declare "cheater?" What about the person who wins a lottery against 1 in 10M odds? At what point does an event become improbable enough that that you can confidently declare the person MUST have cheated?

The experiment you laid out will only provide a probability that man could have evolved from unicellular organisms over a given time span. You appear prepared to invoke an intelligent designer if the probability exceeds a certain threshold, and to deny the designer if it lies within certain bounds.

That is no different that declaring a player to be a cheater if the probability of his hand fall outside some threshold, or declaring he MUST be an honest player if his hand falls within that threshold.

Michael D said...

Okay, okay, you guys are mathematicians and statisticians and I'm just a janitor. So I will not even attempt to compete with your education and training. I just have one small question. Why is it so important to either prove or disprove the existence of a Creator in the first place? Why the attack on the idea of a creator as a reasonable explanation for the existence that we all experience on this earth? What if I am correct and there is a creator and you are incorrect in your assumptions and probabilities? What do you gain or I lose by believing? And why do you "believe" that your ideas are valid and those that propose the existence of a creator are invalid? Okay, that was more than one question! I apologize! But maybe you can help me out.


Anonymous said...

Michael D,
Eli and I were not debating the existence of God. My argument with Eli is with his statement that his experiment would provide evidence for the existence of a creator (or intelligent designer). It is my position that his experiment would provide no evidence for or against a creator. I could modify Eli's experiment to determine the probability of getting four-of-a-kind in a game of five card stud. But knowing those odds does not tell me if someone came by his hand legitimately or dishonestly.

I do not attack the idea that there is a creator, but I do oppose claims that science provides evidence for (or against) the existence of a creator. Science requires reproducibly measurable evidence. Until we find a way to measure God, science can neither support nor refute God's existence.

Much of the political debate revolves around the efforts by some to have creationism (or intelligent design) taught in science classrooms. However, since there is no scientific evidence to support creationism, it is not science and does not belong in the science classroom. I do not want my daughter to be taught creationism in her science classes [leave that for her religion or philosophy or anthropology classes] just as I don't want her reading Orwell's Animal Farm in her history class [that belongs in her literature class, not her history class].

I am both a scientist and a Christian. In all my scientific studies and experience, I have encountered nothing that conflicts with (or supports) my religious beliefs. My faith is based not on science, but on my personal experiences in life. Those personal experiences are not reproducible experiments, and thus do not amount "scientific evidence."

sandyh said...

Instead of debating whether we evolved don't you think we better worry about where we are going now? Our species seems hell bent on destroying itself. It's time to clean up the Ark before the apes take command of it.

Eli Blake said...

As I said, IF the results showed that the rate of evolution appeared to be accelerated compared to mutation in the laboratory, it would 'provide evidence' that (using the wording in the original post explicitly) that evolution by random mutation alone would be insufficient to explain the difference between eukaryotes and humans.

First, the way I worded it was very carefully chosen to allow for the fact that providing evidence is all that science ever can do. Nothing is ever conclusively proven, but rather is proven by the accumulation of evidence (no different than 'proof' in the legal system; nevertheless we adjudicate people guilty or not guilty based on the amount of evidence, or lack thereof-- and sometimes the courts are wrong too.)

Second, the wording is also chosen to allow for the fact that the evidence would only show that the present model is insufficient. It would not in itself prove that there was a creator, because there are the possibilities that the current theory could be tweaked to explain it, or for that matter that there could be some third possibility that involved neither a creator nor random selection (what if van Daniken was right?)

Nonetheless this experiment would be worth doing. Not because it would prove anything, but because to date there has been no serious and scientifically sound experiment carried out to test the hypothesis that there could be a creator (or any of the other alternative hypotheses that this could lead to.)

In regard to the poker hand, I would agree that a straight flush is a remarkably rare event. And if the circumstances were different (say, if the person who got it was the dealer or if the dealer was someone I didn't trust) then I might very well consider that cheating was possible. However since I knew and trusted the dealer, watched the deck being shuffled, cut the deck myself and then watched all the cards being dealt I believe that it was an honest deal.

Further, I think you are also confusing probability with frequency. People do win lotteries but at the rate that probability would predict. In other words, if ten million lottery tickets are sold and the odds against winning are one in ten million, the expected number of winning tickets is one. It is true that not everyone takes a different sequence of numbers so it is possible that there could be no winning tickets or that there could be several. However, you should not be surprised that someone wins the lottery. It would however be remakable if you won the lottery with a single ticket.

Eli Blake said...


You're wiser than any of us, I'm afraid. It does seem that no matter how advanced humans think we are, all we really have done is find more and more destructive and lethal ways to advance our own agenda, which has remained remarkably the same throughout history.

Eli Blake said...


I think my original point has been somewhat misconstrued.

To date no one has ever come up with a scientific experiment that could be used to (and again I choose my words carefully) detect whether the rate of random mutation is sufficient to explain the evolution of complex life forms, including man.

So I proposed a way this could conceivably be done. Is it feasible? Maybe. Would it prove the existence a creator (even if the results suggested that present theory was insufficient?) No.

Let me answer this:

Why the attack on the idea of a creator as a reasonable explanation for the existence that we all experience on this earth?

The attack is on the idea of teaching this in a science class without there being any scientific evidence. That doesn't mean there is an attack on the idea of a creator. The idea of a creator is worth keeping in the picture as a possibility, but without some level of evidence in favor of a creator it doesn't qualify as science. Philosophy or religion, certainly. But science has a clearly defined standard that requires that without at least some level of hard scientific evidence, it's not science.

Michael D said...

Is there a difference between something mutating and evolving? If there is a difference then would the change in say a piece of bacteria because of the introduction of another substance would be considered a mutation or is it considered evolution? And what is the clear definition of evolution?

Anonymous said...

My initial temptation was to repeat the thought that intelligence has not been around long enough to know whether it is really an evolutionary advantage, or an evolutionary dead-end. In truth, however, I am more optimistic than that.

Man's ability to destroy himself (and other life as well) is constantly increasing. But so is our charity to our fellow man. Consider that it was not so long ago that it was acceptable to wage war for no other reason than to take the wealth and resources of neighboring peoples. It was acceptable (and considered charitable) to enslave the people you defeated or to slaughter even the women and children if you didn't wish to enslave them.

Today slavery has been abolished in much of the world, there are rules against targeting non-combatants and even rules regarding the treatment of soldiers who attack you. Consider the outrage many expressed about terrorists being subjected to "harsh interrogations" and compare that with the fact that flaying one's enemies was once an acceptable practice.

We have laws against child abuse and spousal abuse. Charity toward our fellow man is now so expected it has been institutionalized through the welfare state. I could go on, but I believe I have made my point.

We are still far removed from a Utopian society, but we have made great strides over the past few centuries, and I expect will will make in the coming centuries.

Anonymous said...

Micheal D,
Mutation and evolution are different. First, a mutation occurs in a single organism in a single generation, while evolution involves change in an entire species over many generations.

Second, mutations are the mechanism by which evolution occurs. A mutation can provide the organism some benefit, allowing it to reproduce more successfully than the other organisms, or the mutation can be detrimental, hindering the organism's ability to reproduce. In time, the beneficial mutation to be passed on to others of the species while the detrimental mutation will die out.

Consider a brown hare caught in a coming ice-age. A mutation resulting in a rabbit having lighter colored fur will enable it to hide from the foxes more successfully than those with darker fur. When that rabbit breeds, it will pass on the mutation. Over time, with many generations and many mutations, white rabbits will result. The change from brown to white rabbits is the evolution, which resulted from mutations (over many generations) that each resulted in lighter fur. Natural selection occurred when the foxes ate the darker colored rabbits because they were easier to see.

Consider an animal that hunts along a shoreline, each mutation that broadens the feet or introduces some degree of webbing could result a better swimmer and thus a more successful hunter. That animal will be more likely to survive and pass on those genes. Over time and generations, that species' clawed feet will evolve into webbed feet.

Eli Blake said...


The definition of evolution I was given in biology (and we had to memorize it verbatim) was: the change in the genetic makeup of organisms over time.

According to the theory of evolution as it is today understood, mutation is the primary way this happens, though as you point out there are a few other ways, such as the introduction of segments of DNA through viruses, for example.

Human Ape said...

And until and unless it is tested and some evidence is found, it is not appropriate to teach it in a science class.

Since "intelligent design" are just code words that mean magic, and since magic is bullshit, it would be child abuse to teach it anywhere unless the class was called "The History of Human Stupidity".

Human Ape said...

Michael D said... Okay, science deals with things you can observe and measure. I have to admit you guys are probably way smarter than me, but I wonder how you would observe and measure evolution? If evolution is observable and measurable...has it been done? Evolution is a theory, an educated guess. Where is the evidence of evolution? As I said I am just a simple minded layman so I don't know the answers to these questions.

You got one thing correct, Michael D, you ARE simple minded.

A scientific theory is NOT an educated guess. In science a theory is the highest level of understanding. A theory is higher than an hypothesis, higher than a scientific law, and higher than a scientific fact.

The theory of evolution is used to make predictions, and the theory of evolution is an explanation of the facts of evolution.

The basic facts of evolution, including the close evolutionary relationship of human apes and chimpanzee apes, are the strongest facts of science, especially thanks to extremely powerful evidence from molecular biology.

I noticed you quoted the gibberish in your worthless Bible, and that's your worst problem, even worse than your total ignorance of science.

If you want to pretend to be a grown-up, you're going to have to throw your magic god fairy in the garbage where it belongs.

Michael D said...

@Human Ape! You can no more prove evolution than I can "prove" creation. The basic difference is that you have faith in science as your religion and I have faith in the God of the Bible. The Bible is not about magic. As a matter of fact the Bible condems magic. Here's what I suggest, read the Bible with the same level of acceptance that you read your "scientific theory". Here's a dictionary definition of the word "theory". a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.

Notice it says a "proposed explanation". Doesn't say a proved explanation. The status of a theory is that it's conjecture. It's not established as a matter of actual fact! There is no way to totally prove your theory, because you would have to be able to reproduce the conditions that suppossedly existed prior to the actual event of the pre-existence of man and since there was no one recording history at that time, how would you propose to do this.

Rather than attacking me, why not be scientifically honest HumanApe? I have not attacked anyone here have I? I have not attacked your "faith" in your theory have I? I have only challenged your "belief" in this theory, and proposed that perhaps there is a more reasonable explanation. What say you? Are you willing to try to "open your mind"? Or are you as closed minded as you accuse those who believe in an alternative to your theory?

Bible, the book you seem to hate say's; The fool say's in his heart, there is no God. Don't be a fool Human Ape. Instead try to use wisdom and understanding. Reason exists because of God.

Michael D said...

I bet none of you would admit that the belief in "evolution" is where the Eugenics movement grew out of. This belief that man evolved led to the belief that there are men that are better than others because of the pigment in there skin. That black skinned men were further down the "evolutionary" scale because they were closer to the original man who was supposedly an ape.

Eli Blake said...


It's true that the whole idea of 'social darwinism' began with, well, Darwin and eventually led to eugenics and the justification for the elimination of 'inferior' breeds (i.e. by the Nazis.)

However, religion has often been misused to achieve the same goal;

The real problem in both cases are people who want to expand their own power by enslaving, expelling or murdering other people, and either the Bible or Darwin can be used to find a convenient excuse to do that.

But I blame neither the Bible nor Darwin for their respective misuse by people who seek to justify their own excesses.

Eli Blake said...

Just a reminder, folks: I can see that this blog post has provoked some thought (which is good) and some debate (which is good) and some name calling (which is not good.)

Please keep it civil. I support free speech but I won't hesitate to delete posts which are profane or personal attacks on other posters (and at least one post here is very close to that.)

Since I personally believe in a Creator but am also a scientist by training (in addition to my statistical background I also have a degree in and recent experience teaching chemistry) and don't support teaching anything in a science class that is not backed by scientific evidence, I guess I make a good referee.

Heber Smith said...

That's a whole lotta supercomputer time, and based on guesses and estimates.

I hope this works...

Eli Blake said...

Certainly because this is a first time designing an experiment about a topic that until a couple of years ago we didn't even know enough about to conceive of this kind of experiment, there will be some guesswork. But that's not a good enough reason not to try doing it. If it's feasible to do (and I believe it is,) the experimental process can always be refined and improved to incorporate what is learned from past failures as well as new information as it becomes available.

Tom from Texas said...

To believe in God you have to have faith.

Faith by its very definition defies proof.

Science is about trying to prove and disprove theories.

Trying to prove the existence or non-existence of God is therefore foolish.