Dangling or Not? A Response to Chadwick and Brand

Alan, can you explain why you don’t want children hearing such a “dangerous idea”? What is it in this idea that you object to?

While I also disagree with the review article much for the same reasons, and, while I too agree that creationists are out of touch with reality when claiming the ToE is in any kind of trouble, this author also fails to understand the nature of the problem.

In science, when you disagree with something, you come up with an alternative hypothesis. And, while it is true that God Himself is supernatural, the creation process doesn’t have to be. There’s no reason why an alternative scientific model couldn’t exist side by side with the evolutionary model allowing us to examine scientifically the possibility of intelligent involvement in the development of life on earth.

Can’t seem to have access to the lounge. If @hawaiiTF , @DarrelL or anyone else is interested in discussing further, you can contact me on facebook: mikecmanea, or leave a comment on the compass magazine link above.

@medicodon Sure, we can come up with a list full of thousands of similar items. But it doesn’t matter. A scientist will say, ok, what alternative explanation do you propose? If you don’t have one, he will continue working with the evolutionary model. If you do propose an alternative, he will set the two models side by side and pick the one that best explains all the data. Any supernatural-based model will be dismissed from the get go unless it makes testable predictions. This is how science works and that’s ok. Until we can introduce an alternative, evolution will continue to thrive (see link above).

I enjoyed your article. A related topic of research is ancestral gene reconstruction, and I follow the articles published by Joe Thornton (formly OSU now out of U. Chicago) on the subject. It is fascinating.

It is interesting to contrast what they are doing vs what ID inspires people to do. Most recently there was an interesting paper out of OSU (Ken Prehoda in eLifeSiences) using these techniques that perhaps sheds a bit of light on the evolution of multicellular life. I found that one particularly enjoyable because they used Behe’s Icon of ID (the flagellum) to show how this might have happened. So on the one hand we have scientists inspired by the knowledge and methods they have developed, actually making progress on these key questions while on the other hand ID doesn’t inspire any research but instead encourages people who don’t have a clue what they are talking about to proclaim that evolution is in crisis.

Edit: To Mike Manea: Thanks for linking your articles, they were interesting to read. However, you are incorrect claiming the scientific community’s response to Behe was to toss the work back on ID. People like Joe Thornton and Ken Prehoda et al are doing precisely what Behe claimed was impossible, they are providing explicit details of key historical evolutionary steps showing that they are far from highly improbable events that ID claims they must be. But further, GRISDA was formed to do more or less what you proposing although in a more frontal assault mode, and they have pretty much given up, at least based on looking at publications. It is fine to lay out a framework based on small steps, but the problem is no one has ever found any successful small step for creationism research. That says something important. It would be of far greater benefit if you could point out one of these promising research targets, rather than the small step framework you propose. I do agree with you that science should be able to study supernatural historical occurrences, its just that so far we have seen no evidence of any such thing.

Let me suggest one avenue of research: Find a genetic basis for the immutability of “kinds”. That would attack common descent at its core, if you could only find some genetic basis for a divide between micro and macro-evolution. If there is in fact such a fundamental divide, why can’t we find proof of it?

EDIT: Anyone commenting on ENCODE results should read up on the subject before commenting, and pay attention to their idea of “function”. Most of the genome is still junk. But more to the point nothing ENCODE did changes anything about how DNA is inherited and hence has no impact on how analyzing DNA sheds light on common descent.


Aren’t we missing some context here? Losing the forest of earth history for a single tree (albeit an important one)? When @DarrelL and others say “the theory is in trouble,” how is that interpreted by the average SDA? How should it be?

There are aspects of the “argument from design” which I find compelling, whether you call this ID or something else. I have no background in biochemistry, and I accept that others far more qualified have come to a different conclusion. But just for the sake of discussion, let’s suppose that the “evolution in crisis” folks are correct. If the theory goes down in flames, how should a faithful, well informed Adventist with an interest in faith and science issues respond?

IMO the proper reaction would be “How exciting—this field is wide open now! Let’s think of ways we might reconcile our faith with the apparent realities of ancient life and an ancient earth.” Unfortunately, I suspect what the Adventist Review editors had in mind is more along the lines of “Oh good, I can rest easy in my faith because science is vindicating it.”

This is a problem, because the manifold evidences for ancient life are not going away, even if someone proved tomorrow, beyond all doubt, the fixity of species. Radiometric dating of fossil-containing strata, layers in ice and lake sediments (with embedded pollen), amino acid racemization, the general trend of fossils from simple to complex as one moves upwards, the simple fact that the vast majority of these organisms are now extinct, deposition patterns which apparently require long periods between the layers, arguments from plate tectonics, even tree ring chronologies… and that is just off the top of my head as a nonspecialist. All of these pose serious challenges to the new FB6, and that is being charitable.

This is what bothers me most about the pro-YEC rhetoric: a willingness to take pot-shots at carefully selected pieces of evolution/geology/biology/astronomy/what-have-you, all the while studiously avoiding the larger context and the serious conversation we need to be having about the data. When it appears in an official church publication, written by people who surely must see the bigger picture, it’s disingenuous.


I am a Christian physician (MD) who has been reading the scientific literature for the past 30 years.

There are multiple reasons why I question the TOE. Not the least of which is the origin of life. For example Eugene Koonin (arguably one of the world’s leading evolutionists) seems to believe that the origin of life is an intractable problem, and resorts to the “many worlds” cosmological model. In this model there are an infinite number of universes and earths, so life had to happen. (See page 384 of his book “The Logic of Chance. The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution”.)

Another thing that bothers me is that the TOE always has an explanation or way out when data doesn’t fit the model. (Of course the TOE has to have an explanation for inconsistencies. There is no alternative, unless one resorts to panspermia or something else.) Examples include incomplete lineage sorting (ILS), horizontal transfer (HT), etc.

See the recent papers:

  1. “Intractable Tangles in the Bird Family Tree”, Roberts (2015)
  2. “The Dynamics of Incomplete Lineage Sorting across the Ancient Adaptive Radiation of Neoavian Birds”, Suh, et al (2015)
  3. “Are Transposable Element Insertions Homoplasy Free? An Examination Using the Avian Tree of Life”, Han, et al (2011)
  4. “Vertical Evolution and Horizontal Transfer of CR1 Non-LTR Retrotransposons and Tc1/mariner DNA Transposons in Lepidoptera Species”, Sormacheva, et al (2012)

The second paper seems to take ILS to the extreme. And here is a quote from the last paper: “Horizontal transfer (HT) is a complex phenomenon generally used to explain the inconsistencies of phylogeny of the same species, reconstructed on the basis of different markers”. And later in the paper: “The mechanism(s) of HT of non-LTR retrotransposons is not clear”.

I would strongly recommend that a person read these papers for themselves, and draw their own conclusions.

Finally, I guess my point in all of this is that the TOE is not quite as clear cut as some make it out to be. At least it is not in my mind.

(If anyone would like to contact me directly I would be happy to give them my email.)


@medicodon @hawaiiTF
For some reason I am unable to access lounge or to send private messages and comments here get deleted but there are several things I would like to discuss further with each of you if you would contact me via Facebook: mikecmanea, email: mikecmanea (gmail) or leave a comment on the compass magazine page above. Thanks.