Dawkins vs. Marshall vs. Meyer: Place Your Bets

Amazon reviewer Gordon posted this question:

Perry, why have you not referenced any of Stephen Meyer’s books (“Darwin’s Doubt” or “Signature in the Cell”) or William Dembski’s books (“Debating Design” or “Signs of Intelligence”)? Please respond.

Answer:

In Chapter 17 of Evolution 2.0 I give a full explanation:

In 2009, the famous atheist Richard Dawkins published his thick, best-selling book The Greatest Show on Earth. In it, he states that evolution is driven by random changes in genes.

It is worth noting that in all of 450 pages of The Greatest Show on Earth . . .

  • Symbiogenesis is never mentioned.
  • Horizontal Gene Transfer is briefly touched on once, downplayed and presented as scarcely ever crossing from one species to another.
  • Epigenetics gets one tiny footnote in chapter 8. He breezily shrugs it off as a “modest buzzword” and “confused theory that will enjoy 15 minutes of fame.” (At the time of this writing, “Epigenetics” is a major focus in genomics and appears 129,000 times in Google Scholar. The number of entries has doubled in the last two years—clearly a hot field of research.)
  • Transposition is never mentioned.
  • Genome Duplication is never mentioned.

Why didn’t Dawkins grant so much as three pages to the five best- documented mechanisms of evolution? Why does he act as though the last 50 years of microbiology and billions of dollars of research never happened?

Oxford University’s former “Professor of the Public Understanding of Science” wrote one of the most popular evolution books of the last decade, for which he received large advances and rode huge waves of media publicity.

So why isn’t he disclosing this?

On the other side of the fence, Stephen Meyer, in his pro–Intelligent Design book Darwin’s Doubt, makes an eerily identical set of omissions.

Epigenetics gets decent airtime, but there’s no explanation of Lynn Margulis’ work on Symbiogenesis. Barbara McClintock, Transposition, Horizontal Gene Transfer, and Genome Duplication are touched on only briefly, mostly in footnotes.

I debated Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute last year and afterward wrote a blog post called “Is Intelligent Design Really Just Old-Earth Creationism?”

Much of the scholarship in Meyer’s books is very good, but in the end he concludes that evolution and common descent are not true.

I firmly disagree.

Meyer and Dawkins are both missing the biggest story in the history of science. It’s the spectacular engineering capabilities of cells.

Most ID people immediately reply “Sure, but that engineering has to come from somewhere.” And I say: Yes it does have to come from somewhere, so I have a $5 million prize for finding out.

I’m searching for an ANSWER. Not just a philosophical framework.

And even if we give the ID guys the benefit of the doubt – let’s suppose all life does not come from a common ancestor, and life has appeared multiple times, even miraculously – they’re still taking an anti-evolution stance and missing the biggest story in science! After all, we DO observe dazzlingly sophisticated evolutionary steps every day, and we only understand 5% of what’s going on.

If the ID guys want to say the prize will never be won, they should make that bet. Someone should put skin in the game and set up a wager on www.longbets.org.

Similarly, any self-respecting atheist should vote that the prize WILL be won. It’s just a question of when. Atheists, place your bets. (If you believe naturalistic Origin Of Life is real science and not just pseudo-scientific myth-making.) 

Meanwhile, no scientist can earn a dime by saying “God did it.” A scientist gets paid to understand exactly how evolution works. Right now we only have maybe 5% of the answer.

So while the ID guys point out many flaws in old-style evolutionary theory that I often agree with, ultimately they are out to win a philosophical argument more than they’re interested in furthering the science.

This is why I was in the ID camp ten years ago but am not now.

P.S.: A longbets.org wager is a great idea. Will anyone win the Evolution 2.0 Prize in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? 25 years?

Set up a wager and throw your hat in the ring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

28 Responses

  1. Richard Redmond says:

    I’m struggling to understand a couple of things: (1) Are Marshall and Meyer actually on the same side but both of you cant admit it? (2) What exactly does Meyer take issue with in evolutionary theory that Marshall agrees with? (3) What exactly does Marshall take issue with in evolutionary theory that Dawkins would agree with? (4) Does Marshall believe in God( Bible God)? Thats it!

    • 1) Depends on what you mean. I believe in intelligent design lower case i, lower case d. id writ large. I believe in God and I believe the universe is divinely ordered. This is fairly different from Discovery Institute Intelligent Design which is a somewhat political movement which is anti-evolution.

      2) Meyer does not believe that internal cellular systems are capable of producing large-scale evolutionary change, but rather that injections of information from an external source are required to explain the Cambrian explosion for example.

      3) I take extreme issue with Dawkins’ selfish gene theory, his insistence that mutations are random, and that natural selection is the only directional force in evolution. All of that has been shown to be wrong for 70 years and this fact has been well known for more than 20.

      4) Yes I believe in God and I trust the Bible.

      • Marcel says:

        Would you be interested to have the fourth person that would take the most reliable information from each of you and put them into the most probable explanation of life origins?

        • You’re welcome to send in a submission for the prize if you have something big or post your ideas here on the blog as you wish.

          • Marcel says:

            I have been doing research in the subject of life origins for about 20 years and I am in the process of writing a book about it. I am familiar with your research (already studied your book Evolution 2.0) and agree with it. In my research i go even further to identify the originator of life and its purpose.

          • Neil Caithness says:

            Except that the balance of the $5 million prize is payable if your company (Natural Code LLC) successfully files a patent. If the solution is posted here this puts it in the public domain, which means it becomes unpatentable.

      • Jon Peterman says:

        are you speaking of adaptation when you say evolution, because they are not the same

        we OBSERVE animals adapting to environmental and population conditions but not kinds to kinds evolution

        a bird never will be nor has ever been a reptile, amphibians are not nor have ever been reptiles or fish

        similarities do not constitute progression and none has ever been proven

        if you trust God as you say then TRUST GOD not mans very fallible ideas

        • How do you get from the number of animals that can fit on Noah’s ark to all the species now on earth, without MASSIVE amounts of evolution? As far as I can tell, it requires a bare minimum of 100X more species. Probably more like 1000X. Anything on such a large a scale would not be adaptation, it is evolution. In fact it puzzles me that traditional creationists are always fighting about evolution since their theory requires it.

  2. Wow, many of the things that you say are neglected in other books are included in my textbook, “Integrated Molecular Evolution”, 2nd edition. In particular, there is a great deal of coverage of endosymbiosis (i.e., symbiogenesis), transposition, recombination, polyploidy, and many others. Epigenetics is covered, but not in great detail.

  3. Dighton Head says:

    The game is going to come down to the definition of evolution/speciation. Wide variation occurs in populations, sometimes resulting in non-mating sub-populations, or “species”. However, new body types appear abruptly. Epigenetics and symbiogenesis are better examples of ID than naturalistic evolution.

  4. Rick Doninger says:

    Foolish endless debating. Every human knows the reality of the Living God because He makes himself known to each one. Denial of His existence is not grounded in science at all. Denial originates in rebellion to to the accountability that our Creator presents to each one of us. Accepting the forgiveness and Grace offered in Christ requires responding with an acknowledgement of our rebellion. A simple matter of pride that will never be solved by the arrogance of deflection and cunning debate. Dawkins and everyone else knows. The mystery of God is has never been one of hiding but rather the opposite. He reveals Himself to all who humbly accept His offer revealed in The Truth His Son Jesus Christ freely came and shared. Mr. Dawkins knows.

  5. Frank says:

    If it can be shown that non life has somehow become living…then evolution could have a chance of being a real theory. Baring that…it doesn’t seem to make a whit of difference. What makes ID so promising is that is I obvious that only intelligence has ever been shown to “create”…anything we experience in this world. Of course if true randomness can ever do the job, all bets are off.

  6. John Reffit says:

    If “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, isn’t the most reasonable statement to origins, than I Don’t know what is! Even “science,” uses lodgic and reason to test hypotheses and theories. Where ever the evidence leads one should follow. This includes, ” In the beginning God” or In the beginning Gas.” We would not know that unless someone or something reveals that information to us who were not here in the beginning of all things.

  7. Mark says:

    What many evolutionists and atheists never acknowledge except the honest ones, is that creation and now intelligent design have always stated that life can only come from life and each species from its own.

    And this can be 100% evidenced and observed in any science laboratory to lay man to children in their back yards and has been observed and measured over the 1000s of years of recorded human history. Can the same be said for the theory of evolution since its conception??

    • Each species does not have to come from its own. Look up hybridization and symbiogenesis. Botanists create new species literally every day.

      Creationist literature makes this claim but it is demonstrably not true and it does not help your case to be repeating it.

      Please use your full first and last name from now on.

      • Marcel says:

        Sometimes people are unaware or even neglect the difference between the answer to the question “what?” and “how?.” When one reads “according to its kind” that’s the answer to the question “what,” was done, not to “how” it was done. According to the Bible there is info about “what” was created (its kind) but it leaves out “how” it was accomplished. The fact that science is able to create new species it’s a good clue that chances are, when species were created, it has been used a “master blueprint” which includes enough information in its DNA to allow a large variety of possible species to derive from it. Much like car manufacturers are doing today. The GMC Corporation makes Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac and Chevrolet. Many of these different cars have basically the same frame structure even the same engines and transmissions, but outside are totally different cars.

      • Jeff Walling says:

        A botanist is an intelligent being, yes you can take stuff that already exists and mess with it but we’re talking about nature doing this when there is absolutely no evidence of it ever happening in nature out of over 500 geological site there has yet to find any of the transitional fossils between heat 11 periods . Base in conditional probability you would expect that if it is true then you would find the evidence by now, additionally there’s no evidence in the Genome, you can Google that pretty easily on the Internet there’s absolutely no history of evolution in the genome and now as of late they’ve actually discovered that most every creature alive today, including man, pretty much showed up at all at the same time.

        • Jeff,

          I’m sorry but you are incorrect about this. Scientists produce new species literally every day. The evidence for evolution is not merely historical or anecdotal – it happens in minutes. This is a fact. It is all over the literature.

          So I have a challenge for you.

          Read Evolution 2.0 cover to cover. Including Appendix 2 which will be very important for you.

          Then re-examine the statements you have made above. And (I assume you’re a creationist) see if your concept of God is not vastly bigger than it was within the creationist way of seeing things.

          • Jeff Walling says:

            Perry, I will do that as I am an insatiable reader and am confident in my understanding as well, Please read my book that I just Publish as I would like to go one on one with you. I pretty much took a different approach and formulated question such as “If the Bible is true then you should expect to find such and such in history and in science. I would like to argue points with you in emails instead of the public forum, can we continue this in emails? Go to my website http://www.hisstoryfax.com and download a copy and I will read your’s post haste as well. I saw your interval and I have the same spirit in that I want facts and truth… not unsubstantiated hypotheses and theories.

        • And Jeff:

          Whoever told you that there is no evidence of transitional forms, and no evidence in the genome of evolution…

          THEY ARE NOT TELLING YOU THE TRUTH.

          And you should ask why.

          Read Evolution 2.0 and check the references and sources and verify for yourself that this book is in fact telling you the truth. Because you deserve to know.

          • Jeff Walling says:

            So, the Genomic scientist that are actually doing the testing in the labs are not telling me the truth. Here are just some examples that I based my conclusions on.

            Evolutionary biologist conclude…there is NO Darwinian Tree of Life (ToL) in the Genome.

            The hypothetical Tree of Life (ToL) branches into three basic classifications, Bacteria, Archaea, and Eucaryotes. The traditional means of drawing the ToL has been to look at the similarities of creatures found in the fossil record and compiling them into a graduating order from simple to complex based on the physical appearances. This method becomes problematic when the unique differences (disparities) between Eucaryotes found in the same strata is of a great magnitude, for example, is a fungus related more to a plant or animal? Procaryotes are even more difficult to place in a ToL like model due to the incredible variety “it is difficult to know which differences truly reflect differences of evolutionary history” as they appear in the fossil record all at once (as a radiation or explosion) with no trace of diverging branches [1].

            In an article from the Oxford Journals regarding the studies of bacterial and archaeal genomes, the authors concluded that the findings “[undermine] the ‘Tree of Life’ model of evolution”, and that genomes “are built according to the same, simple ‘master plan’ with wall-to-wall protein-coding and RNA-coding genes”. The authors also noted that “it could be hard even to identify a set of genes that have a coherent history over a substantial evolutionary span”, “the emerging complexity of the prokaryotic world is currently beyond our grasp”, and that “We have no adequate language, in terms of theory or tools, to describe the workings and histories of the genomic network”. Excerpts from the cited article [2]:

            A recent article from Nature concluded the following [3]:

            “Gene surveys suggest the existence of an enormous number of branches, but even an approximation of the full scale of the tree has remained elusive”

            “The results reveal the dominance of bacterial diversification and underline the importance of organisms lacking isolated representatives, with substantial evolution concentrated in a major radiation of such organisms. This tree highlights major lineages currently underrepresented in biogeochemical models and identifies radiations that are probably important for future evolutionary analyses.”

            The follow clip of an article from NCBI Mapping the Tree of Life relays that the ToL structure remains controversial and obscure [4].

            “Although the three-domain structure of the ToL is established, the deep phylogenetic structure of each of the domains remains murky and sometimes controversial. Obstacles to accurate inference of deep phylogenetic relationships are both systematic, in molecular phylogenetic calculations, and practical, due to a paucity of sequence representation for many groups of organisms.”
            “All molecular phylogenetic trees have systematic limitations that cloud our view of the deeper branches in the tree of life (ToL). I conclude that we have in place the outlines of a universal ToL, but the details of the patterns of deep evolution in all the phylogenetic domains remain obscure.”

            The Wired website reports “New Algorithms Force Scientists to Revise the Tree of Life” [5]

            But while the abundance of data has helped resolve some of the conflict surrounding parts of the evolutionary tree, it also presents new challenges. The current version of the tree of life is more like a contentious wiki page than a published book, with certain branches subject to frequent debate. … scientists now know that different genes in the same organism can tell different stories. According to a new study partly focused on yeast, the conflicting picture from individual genes is even broader than scientists suspected. “They report that every single one of the 1,070 genes conflicts somewhat,” said Michael Donoghue, an evolutionary biologist at Yale who was not involved in the study. “We are trying to figure out the phylogenetic relationships of 1.8 million species and can’t even sort out 20 [types of] yeast,” he said. For example, it’s not clear whether snails are most closely related to clams and other bivalves or to another mollusk group known as tusk shells, said Rokas. And we have no idea how some of the earliest animals to branch off the tree, such as jellyfish and sponges, are related to each other. Scientists can rattle off examples of conflicting trees published in the same scientific journal within weeks, or even in the same issue. They built a series of phylogenetic trees using data from individual yeast genes and employed an algorithm derived from information theory to find the areas of greatest agreement among the trees. The result, published in Nature in May, was unexpected. Every gene they studied appeared to tell a slightly different story of evolution.

            “Just about all the trees from individual genes were in conflict with the tree based on a concatenated data set,” says Hilu. “It’s a bit shocking.”
            “I am not so sure we know what the true relationships are,” he said. “If we aren’t sure what the truth is, we can’t tell if we have the right tree.”

            A 2009 edition of Trends in Ecology and Evolution included a paper that notes “evolutionary trees from different genes often have conflicting branching patterns”.
            A 2009 edition of a New Scientist cover story notes that the tree of life molecular sequences “lies in tatters, torn to pieces by an onslaught of negative evidence “, that “many biologists now argue that the tree of life concept is obsolete and needs to be discarded”, and that “the evolution of animal and plants isn’t exactly tree-like”.
            An article in the New Scientist reported a story on the research and study by M. Syvanen on 2,000 genes of six very diverse animals saying, “In theory, he should have been able to use the gene sequences to construct an evolutionary tree showing the relationship between the six animals. He failed. The problem was the different genes told contradicting evolutionary stories.” Syvanen himself confessed, “We’ve just annihilated the tree of life. It’s not a tree anymore, it’s a different topology entirely. What would Darwin have made of that?”
            Leading biologist Atonis Rokas of Vanderbilt University also echoes that sentiment, after 150 years of the acceptance of Darwin’s Origin of the Species, saying, “a complete and accurate tree of life remains an elusive goal”, and “despite the amount of data and breadth of taxa analyzed, relationships among most metazoan phyla remain unresolved”.
            A year later A. Rokas and S.B. Carroll of the University of Wisconsin reiterated this disparity saying, “certain critical parts of the tree of life may be difficult to resolve, regardless of the quantity of conventional data available” and concluded from their extended study “inferences from these two independent lines of evidence (molecules and fossils) support a view of the origin of the Metazoa as a radiation compressed in time” [8].

            So then in conclusion, the evolutionary model has its foundation in micro-evolution (that is based on genetic algorithms obviously created by some intelligent entity) which evolutionary biologist can only trace back within the species/family to an original progenitor of that “kind” of phyla (a topology now referred to as a “Bush”, in other words, an explosion of novel creatures with no predecessors). On top of this foundation evolutionary biologist organize Phyla by compiling them into a graduating order from simple to complex based on the physical appearances (referred to as “Branches”)[6] but cannot determine any genomic connections between these difference kind of phylum. Nor can they be traced through the fossil records of the 11 geological Periods. Each period shows a % of new species that are not found in preceding periods (a sudden appearance with no predecessors) mixed with a % of preceding kind that show no significant variation. These same results are found throughout of the hundreds of fossil sites throughout the world (there are 529 sites listed in Wikipedia from around the globe [7], that’s 529 repeated samplings where no intermediate fossils have been found to link the 11 periods together with transitional fossils). Two sources, the fossil record and now the genomic sciences, with innumerable samplings returning 100% negative results, no supporting evidence of evolution beyond the micro level. If scientist were strictly adhering to the “scientific method” they would reject the Darwinian evolutionary ToL based on the 100% negative results in the same manner they accepted the principles of gravity based on 100% positive results! Micro-evolutionary mechanisms do not lend themselves to macro-evolutionary mechanisms, not does compiling phylum into a graduating order from simple to complex based on the physical appearances constitute proof of concept. Evolution is not a fact!!!

            In regards to the Missing link strata even the evolutionist admit that they have no evidence. Stephen J. Gould was as saying “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches … in any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the gradual transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and “fully formed.”[9]

            An excerpt from a parley between the late Dr. Patterson, senior paleontologist at the prestigious British Museum of Natural History, and Luther Sunderland from Creation.com. [10]
            In Luther Sunderland’s book Darwin’s Enigma, he recounts writing the Dr. Patterson of the British Museum to ask him why he had not shown any photographs of transitional fossils in the book Evolution that he had written. Dr. Patterson replied thusly:

            ‘I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them. You suggest that an artist should be used to visualize such transformations, but where would he get the information from? I could not, honestly, provide it,…

            He went on to say:
            ‘Yet Gould [Stephen J. Gould—the now deceased professor of paleontology from Harvard University] and the American Museum people are hard to contradict when they say there are no transitional fossils. … You say that I should at least “show a photo of the fossil from which each type of organism was derived.” I will lay it on the line—there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.’3 [Emphasis added].

            He had also written:
            ‘The reason is that statements about ancestry and descent are not applicable in the fossil record. Is Archaeopteryx the ancestor of all birds? Perhaps yes, perhaps no: there is no way of answering the question.

            Darwin himself admitted that it was a fact. Darwin stated, “The difficulty of understanding the absence of vast piles of fossiliferous strata, which on my theory were no doubt somewhere accumulated before the Silurian (i.e. Cambrian) epoch, is very great.” He also wrote, “I allude to the manner in which the numbers of species of the same group suddenly appear in the lowest known fossiliferous rock”. Since that time there has been a vast array of discovery and fossil sites that not only fail to bring to fruition Darwin’s hope that future discoveries would validate his theories but also greatly increased the chasm, as there are more and more complete and diverse creatures now in the list of the Cambrian explosion with no transitional specimens and with insufficient time to product such an array of diversity and disparity (large differences in forms of life) according to the Darwinian theory.

            Darwin’s Proffesor, Agassiz, also pointed that out to him. Agassiz was quick to point out “then we should find not just one or a few missing links, but innumerable links shading almost imperceptibly from alleged ancestors to presumed descendants. Geologists, however, had found no such myriad of transitional forms leading to the Cambrian fauna”.

            To date, no strata between the Precambrian and Cambrian (or between any of the higher strata [11 periods]) has been found with the missing links in over 500 geological sites around the world. Scientists claim <.01% supporting cases, such as the odd species representing a singular transformational step and disputed cases within and without their organizations based on flawed dating methods, that they push to the public to validate their claims, thereby spinning the evidence and ignoring the 99.99% short fall. Because of this glaring fact, they have had to make believe numerous failed theories over the last 160 years such as the artifact hypothesis, the Lipalian Interval, and the latest theory of punctuated equilibrium. Why would they make up failed theiory after failed theory if their were real evidence of transitional fossils?

            REFERENCES
            1. NCBI Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th edition. The Diversity of Genomes and the Tree of Life (2002) Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26866/
            2. Koonin E.V. and Wolf, Y.I. (2008). Genomics of bacteria and archaea: the emerging dynamic view of the prokaryotic world. Retrieved from http://nar.oxfordjournals.org/content/36/21/6688.full.pdf
            3. Nature Microbiology 1, Article number: 16048. A new view of the tree of life. (2016) Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/nmicrobiol201648
            4. NCBI Mapping the Tree of Life: Progress and Prospects (2009) Retrieved From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2786576/
            5. Wired. New Algorithms Force Scientists to Revise the Tree of Life (2013) Retrieved From https://www.wired.com/2013/06/algorithms-revise-tree-of-lif/
            6. Khan Academy. Building a phylogenetic tree. Retrieved From https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/her/tree-of-life/a/building-an-evolutionary-tree
            7. Wikipedia. List of Fossil Site Retrieved From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fossil_sites
            8. Meyers, S.C. (2013). Darwin's doubt. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
            9. Stephen Jay Gould, Evolution’s erratic pace, Natural History 86(5):14, May 1977
            10. Sunderland, L., Darwin’s Enigma, Master Books, Arkansas, USA, pp. 101–102, 1998. Patterson’s letter was written in 1979.

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