Jonathan M, as he prefers to be known, is studying in Scotland for a Master's degree in evolutionary biology. He's upset with Jeffrey Shallit for criticizing Phillip Johnson's 1993 video (see This Video Should Be Shown to all Biology Students). He's also upset with my critiques of the same video (see Phillip Johnson, One of the Very Best Intelligent Design Creationists).
Jeffrey and I pointed out the obvious; namely, that Phillip Johnson doesn't understand evolution. He has a nineteenth century view of evolution where natural selection is the only mechanism. Jonathan M responds,
This is the type of condescending rhetoric that is so prevalent in anti-ID writings. Does Shallit really think that we haven't heard of processes such as genetic drift and endosymbiosis?Jeffrey responds at: A Discovery Institute Flack Responds. My own response is similar. It's possibly true that Jonathan M understands evolution, although the evidence is sparse, but we're talking about Phillip Johnson in 1993 not Jonathan M in 2011. Nobody listening to that video could ever mistake Phillip Johnson for an expert on evolution.
The fact that Phillip Johnson and the other IDiots use "Darwinism" to describe their opponents tells us a lot about their level of understanding. Jonathan M says,
I think it is legitimate to use the word "Darwinism" provided that one is clear on what one means by it. Like the words "evolution" and "creationism," "Darwinism" can be construed to mean a variety of different things. Most ID proponents use the term to refer to the common scientific view that all of life is explicable by mechanisms of unguided chance and necessity. The most frequently cited examples of such processes are random mutations and natural selections -- but we recognize that there are other mechanisms at play as well (such as symbiosis and genetic drift). The key point is that the mechanisms undergirding the evolution of life, according to Darwinism, are non-intelligent.Nonsense. Most IDiots do not understand the mechanisms of evolution and they make that abundantly clear every time they open their mouths. We know why they refer to us as "Darwinists" and it's not because they need a word to describe materialism or metaphysical naturalism. Jonathan M is telling a fib.
Phillip Johnson is trained as a lawyer. He's got a very sharp mind for analytic philosophy and the evaluation of the logical structure of arguments. Indeed, many philosophers have become involved in this debate, many of whom take the Darwinian side (e.g., Michael Ruse, Daniel Dennett) -- are they out of their element as well?Yes, Michael Ruse and Daniel Dennett are also ignorant of basic evolutionary biology and they have demonstrated that many times in their books and public talks. That's why you will never see evolutionary biologists making a big fuss on the 20th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's Dangerous Idea. And that's why you have prominent evolutionary biologists attacking the views of Ruse and Dennett. Jonathan M is probably too young to remember someone named Stephen Jay Gould. Dennett and Gould didn't exactly agree on most things [see Darwinian Fundamentalism, The Pleasures of Pluralism].
Are there any Intelligent Design Creationists who dare to criticize Phillip Johnson for his incorrect views on evolution? Why not?
We agree that Philip Johnson's understanding of evolution is no better than that of Michael Ruse and Daniel Dennett. In fact, it's much worse.
With the advent of the Internet age and readily accessible print media, it is now possible to train oneself to master a discipline without formal academic training simply by reading textbooks and the relevant primary literature. One can be a well-educated layperson in an area, even if lacking in professional expertise, and I would place Phillip Johnson into this category.Earth to Johnathan M ... the video was from 1993. Back when Phillip Johnson became famous as one of the best Intelligent Design Creationists, the World Wide Web was still in its infancy. Besides, we can clearly demonstrate that Johnson was NOT well-educated in evolutionary biology so the point is moot.
Not only that, the idea that you can master a discipline by reading on your own and searching the internet is absurd. Not only is it impossible, but if it were true then we would expect to see many IDiots who were experts on evolution. Instead we see Casey Luskin, Jonathan Wells, Paul Nelson, David Berlinski, Stephen Meyer, Bill Dembski, David Klinghoffer, Cornelius Hunter, Guillermo Gonzalez, and Denyse O'Leary. Oops!
Jonathan M has more to say in defense of Johnson's knowledge of evolution but it doesn't get any better.
Finally Jonathan M turns his attention to my posting.
Such rhetoric -- pervasive in Moran's writings in general -- continues throughout the duration of his comments. He repeatedly makes assertions such as that Johnson "is way out of his element," calling him an "IDiot." But he does not provide any real substantive scientific or philosophical rebuttal to Johnson's stated position.I posted the video for everyone to see. It speaks for itself. There's no need to point out each and every statement that betrays Phillip Johnson's ignorance of evolutionary biology.
Here are a couple of quotations from the video. Phillip Johnson is talking about the history of life and the evidence for evolution (about 20 minutes into the video).
The features that create the classification, such as hair or fur in mammals, are called homologies. They're supposed to be inherited from a common ancestor. But, in fact, in a great many cases the "homologies" are traceable to different parts in the embryo and to different genes. So, in short, the animals get them by an entirely different route and this is strongly inconsistent with the common ancestor hypothesis to explain them.Johnson is clearly talking about the kind of homology used in taxonomy, or the kind used to construct phylogenetic trees. Here's the definition of that kind of homology from Wikipedia,
It's also a well-known fact among embryologists but it never comes out to the general public because, well, it's so unpalatable a fact and so difficult to explain under Darwinian theory.
Homologous[Etymology 1] traits of organisms are due to sharing a common ancestor, and such traits often have similar embryological origins and development. This is contrasted with analogous traits: similarities between organisms that were not present in the last common ancestor of the taxa being considered but rather evolved separately.You'll find similar definitions in all the textbooks on evolutionary biology. Thus, when two structures are homologous they are, by definition, descended from common ancestral genes and share the same embryological history. If they do not share the same ancestral genes then they are not homologous for the purposes of classification. Insect wings, for example, are not homologous to the wings of birds.
Johnson doesn't know what he's talking about, but why should he? He's not an expert in evolution. He's a lawyer.
At about 22 minutes Johnson starts talking about the fossil record. He claims that the fossil record hasn't gotten any better since Darwin's time. He then goes on to explain his view of the fossil record ...
What we found in the 1980s was that the fossil record was still characterized by two important features: one is sudden appearance, when new things appear they appear just as they are, there's no visible history of step-by-step development from earlier forms. And then after they have appeared they stay the same, that's called stasis in the jargon of the trade.Johnson has heard of punctuated equilibria but, like most IDiots, he hasn't got a clue what it means. And he seems to be completely ignorant of excellent examples like the evolution of horses and the evolution of hominids (to name just two) that were well-known in 1993.
So that once you get the shark, or the horseshoe crab or anything else into existence it stays the same throughout its tenure on Earth—there's variation within that type but no step-by-step development into something different, no directional change of the Darwinian kind.
And this, I might add, is not the absence of evidence, it is positively documented, And so you see the fossil record is, and remains, on the whole completely different from the picture that you would expect from the Darwinian ideology.
ID critics like Shallit and Moran have grown very fond of the routine ridicule and insults. But just look below the surface, at the actual content of their argument. As you'll see, it reveals that their grounds for dismissing ID are fundamentally lacking in scientific substance. Their rhetoric may be impressive to some, but for those of us who are earnest seekers of truth, the repeated substance-free name calling and insults of many members of the anti-ID lobby will continue to confirm the merit of the ID enterprise.I have spent decades documenting the bad science of the Intelligent Design Creationists. So has Jeffrey Shallit and dozens of other defenders of science.
My most recent attempts to teach Intelligent Design Creationists have focused on junk DNA and Jonathan Wells' book The Myth of Junk DNA. None of the "big guns" in the movement have responded to those scientific arguments. Those of us who are earnest seekers of truth find it astonishing that Intelligent Design Creationists are so demonstrably ignorant of the very subject they attack and we're not afraid to publicize that fact.
It would be every easy for the IDiots to show that we are wrong. For example, Jonathan M has just tried to prove that Phillip Johnson actually understands the science he describes in the video. How did he do?