Dogmatic Darwinism Is the Science Stopper - Evolution News & Views

Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

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Dogmatic Darwinism Is the Science Stopper

Robert Naeye at Sky & Telescope recently posted a simplistic rant against intelligent design. His logic is astoundingly bad, and his "attacks" on ID are the most elementary sort that have been rebutted too many times to mention. (But I will anyhow -- go here, here, and here just to start.)

Here's his big complaint:

This controversy led me to imagine a trip to a car dealership. The salesman shows me a model that has sleek lines, gets great gas mileage, has a 5-year warranty, and fits my budget. Everything about the car is perfect, except for one thing: The engine contains a part called a kanootin valve that occasionally breaks down. And when it does, the engine explodes. When I ask what good the kanootin valve does for the car, the salesman replies, "Oh, it does nothing at all. You only know about it when it fails." I respond, "Hmmm... this vehicle does not seem to be designed particularly intelligently. I think I'll buy another model."

No auto manufacturer would design a car in such a way. And yet that is how the human body is "designed." We have an organ called the appendix that does nothing positive for us, and yet it can kill us if it becomes inflamed. And when it breaks down, only human physicians, using their scientific training, can save our lives.

The existence of the appendix is powerful evidence that the human body is the product of random mutations and natural selection operating over immense timescales, and that intelligent design is pure bunk.

Really? I would say that the existence of the appendix is powerful evidence that a union of physicians and surgeons designed the human body so "when it breaks down, only human physicians, using their scientific training, can save our lives." (Knowing how unions work, that seems way more plausible to me than random chance.)

Naeye goes on to report as "fact" a couple of things that are still being researched and are far from having been decided -- such as the similarity of human and chimpanzee genes. (These are not as similar as he thinks; see "Human-chimp difference may be bigger".) And he seems to be clueless about this, but there's still a debate about the other fact he cites as well.

Evolution is a well-established fact, not an opinion.
Of course, since he doesn't define his terms (a typical Darwinist ploy), you have no idea if he is simply agreeing with everyone else that things change over time, or if he's making the claim that natural selection acting on random mutation actually does account for all the complexity of life. If it's the latter then he needs to do some reading -- even evolutionists don't agree on that point.

Naeye's whole argument seems to rest on the idea that the appendix is completely useless -- yet another controversial idea that has not been scientifically established. Dr. Chris Wilbers wrote this paragraph in response:

For a paragraph, as a physician, I'll address the appendix. Usually it is the evolutionist who accuses the creationist of invoking the "god of the gaps." In your argument, the tables are oddly turned, and since you have no teleological explanation for the appendix you attribute its existence to evolution. Many times the evolutionist patiently explains to the creationist that just because you don't have evidence of an evolutionary explanation of something YET, doesn't negate that you might not discover one in the future, and then lay out an imaginary evolutionary pathway that he posits might be able to result in the structure in question. In this case, however, scientific elucidation of at least some purposes for the "useless" appendix has begun. The organ is part of the mucosa associate lymphoid tissue (MALT) system, along with the tonsils and adenoids, among many others, which functions as part of the generation of immune responses within the mucosal tissues. Tantalizing in their implications are papers describing an increased rate of Crohn's disease and a decreased rate of ulcerative colitis in patients who have undergone appendectomy (surgical removal of the appendix). Another study noted the fascinating fact that women who have undergone tonsillectomy are about 5.2 times more likely to subsequently require appendectomy, whereas men are only about 1.7 times as likely. Elucidation of the exact physiological purpose of the appendix appears to be a "work in progress," but it seems safe to conclude that the appendix is certainly not physiologically useless. Furthermore, the appendix has had inestimable value in the history of medical and surgical advancement. As recognized by an article by G. Rainey Williams, MD (Annals of Surgery, 1983, 197(5): 495 - 506), the history of the study of appendicitis, its diagnosis and treatment, has been a keystone in the development of general surgery and surgical technique. By 1950 over 13,000 articles or books dealing with the appendix had already been published, according to Dr. Williams. Since Dr. Williams' article, the appendix has probably been second only to the gall bladder as the surgical target for the rapidly advancing science of laparoscopic surgery, which has greatly reduced the morbidity associated with many operations that formerly had to be performed by an open technique. Many, many surgeons-in-training have honed their surgical skills through successfully operating on innumerable appendixes, enabling them subsequently to progress on perform many more dramatic and lifesaving surgeries. Finally, of a more philosophical nature, as stated by Dr. Williams "appendiceal disease has clearly affected the course of history." He cites just a few examples of prominent individuals known to have had their lives affected (or deaths effected) by appendicitis and its complications. In light of concepts like chaos theory, who could ever truly know the affect that this tiny organ has had upon the totality of human history? Kanootin valve? NOT!
Naeye seems to think that ID proponents are science haters, and that they don't want any science to progress at all.
Intelligent design basically tells us to stop investigating the natural world, because when we hit a brick wall in our knowledge, we can find the answers in god. ...
... Intelligent design, on the other hand, stifles our perseverance because it says that answers to the great questions have already been handed to us on a silver platter. It's the mindset that says that maybe we should buy the car with the kanootin valve.
This is simply ridiculous. No serious ID scientist or scholar has ever thrown up her hands and said, "Well, this is unexplained by natural causes, so let's stop researching it."

If that were the case, why would Michael Behe have written Darwin's Black Box? Or, why would Jonathan Wells be at a major science conference hypothesizing about whether centrioles generate a polar ejection force? Why would ID biologist Ralph Seelke be studying the evolution of bacteria in his lab at the University of Wisconsin, Superior?

Intelligent design is not a science stopper. Rather, it is dogmatic Darwinism that stifles research and stops science. Naeye seems to think that there is no need to research the appendix any further. In his Darwinian mindset, it's useless. Now that sounds like a science stopper to me.


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