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Saturday, 16 February 2013

Foundering Rocks, Part III

 Lip Service in the Academy

In the scientific community the vast majority of scientists accept evolutionism on the basis of authority.  "I believe evolutionism to be true because everyone else does" is the actual epistemic state of play of this bizarre theory.  After all, evolution calls for billions of years in order to work its "magic".  In terms of the theory, no-one is able to be around that long.  Proving the theory to be true by means of scientific experimentation is impossible from the get-go.

It has been intriguing to watch experimental physicists strive mightily, expending great effort and expense to prove their theories about the state and nature of the atom and the existence, behaviour, and function of sub-atomic particles.  The Hadron Collider is just one example, albeit the largest, of experimental equipment built to confirm or deny the kaleidoscope of theories about how atoms are and work.  But when it comes to evolutionism, nada.  There ain't no Darwinian Collider.
  An experimental machine to reproduce experiments and testing covering a process allegedly taking place over 65 billion of years is a bit of a tall order.  This is one reason why evolutionism fails to meet the basic requirements of a scientific theory: it can neither be proved nor disproved.  It is a philosophical cosmology, not a scientific theory.

Why do scientists hold to the "theory", then?  Because they believe everyone else does.  Michael Behe has a revealing chapter in his book, Darwin's Black Box.  He says that when the molecular basis of life became known, a specialty journal emerged in 1971 called the Journal of Molecular Evolution (JME).  It was devoted to research explaining how life at the molecular level came into existence.  It has turned out to be a miserable failure.
In fact none of the papers published in JME over the entire course of its life as a journal has ever proposed a detailed model by which a complex biochemical system might have been produced in a gradual step-by-step Darwinian fashion.  Although many scientists ask how sequences can change or how chemicals necessary for life might be produced in the absence of cells, no one has ever asked in the pages of JME such questions as the following: How did the photosynthetic reaction centre develop?  How did intramolecular transport start?  How did cholesterol biosynthesis begin?  How did retinal become involved in vision?  How did phosphoprotein signaling pathways develop?  The very fact that none of these problems is even addressed, let alone solved, is a very strong indication that Darwinism is an inadequate framework for understanding the origin of complex biochemical systems. [Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, 10th edition (New York: Free Press, {1996}, 2006), p.176.] 
 But maybe this reflects the failure of just one journal?  No. It's the norm.  Behe turns to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
But the great majority (of published papers in molecular biology) are concerned with sequence analysis, just as most papers in JME were, passing over the fundamental question of  how. . . . No papers were published in (the Proceedings) that proposed detailed routes by which complex biochemical structures might have developed.  Surveys of other biochemistry journals show the same result: sequences upon sequences, but no explanations. (Ibid., p. 178.) 
 What about the authoritative textbooks in the field.  When it comes to asserting they contain explanations of evolution they are fulsome indeed.  Behe cites an example of the most successful texts in biochemistry that have been used in many science academies over the years.  It claims that it will teach its readers and students how biomolecules are the products of evolutionary selection so that they may be the fittest possible molecules for their biological function.  (Behe is referring to a text by Albert Lehninger, professor of biophysics at Johns Hopkins.)  It turns out there are just two citations to evolution out of 6,000 entries in the index are to evolution.
With just 2 citations out of 6,000, Lehninger's teacherly advice to his students concerning the importance of evolution to their studies is belied by his index.  In it Lehninger included virtually everything of relevance to biochemistry.  Apparently, though, evolution is rarely a relevant topic.  (Ibid, p. 181.)
Behe then makes the critical assertion: evolution is a wand used to wave over mysteries.  It is a warranting concept.  It justifies things too difficult to explain--which appear to be beyond explanation.  He cites an example of an index reference to the "evolution, adaptation of sperm whale".
When we flip to the indicated page, we learn that sperm whales have several tons of oil in their heads which becomes more dense at colder temperatures.  This allows the whale to match the density of the water at the great depths where it often dives and so swim more easily.  After describing the whale the textbook remarks, "Thus, we see in the sperm whale a remarkable anatomical and biochemical adaptation, perfected by evolution."  But that single line is all that's said!  The whale is stamped "perfected by evolution," and then everybody goes home.  The authors make no attempt to explain how the sperm whale came to have the structure it has.  (Ibid.)
The emperor has no clothes.  This modus operandi is eerily similar to the practice of alchemy in the Middle Ages.  By endless experimentation and research alchemists learned a great deal about the properties of the four "elements" (fire, water, air and earth) when heated and combined.  But they failed to produce gold.

Evolutionists have studied assiduously the biomolecular structure of life and at least some have sought to demonstrate how it came to be via evolutionary processes.  Along the way, they have learnt a great deal about the structures of living cells.  But the gold has never been produced.  Most biomolecular scientists, however, just pay lip service to evolutionism.  Its nothing more than a mantra to gain entrance to the academy.  After that, they get on with the real, genuine science.

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