Like Watching a Hummingbird Fly

As previously mentioned, here is my second installment on chapter two of Coyne's book. As this chapter makes apparent, long stretches of time are essential to the project of evolutionary hand-waving, a process whereby impossible things are made more plausible to us by having them happen very, very slowly. Don't think I can walk across that swimming pool? Watch this as I inch my way out there. Bet I can do it if a spend three months at it. Time fixes all implausibilities. Going with Coyne's figure of 600 million years of evolution in 4th gear, after leaving out those halcyon days of one-celled organisms just bobbing about, not to mention the subsequent time of the eukaryotes (p. 28), and not messing with leap years, we come up with, using a simple arithmetical process, 219,000,000,000 days available for evolution. Roll that around in your mind for a moment. All the marvels that evolution has wrought were accomplished in a matter of countable days. This has ramifications. I said … [Read more...]

That’s A Rabbit, You Doofus

Comes now chapter two of Jerry Coyne's book, called Written in the Rocks. It will take a post or two to deal with this chapter, so patience, all of you. My first post will address the structure of his argumentation, and later I will look at the time involved in all this -- my own variation on what is called Haldane's Dilemma. First, we may take as an indicator of how Coyne represents data generally by how he represents the position of his adversaries. He refers to the "creationist prediction that all species must appear suddenly and then remain unchanged" (p. 32). As stated, this is simplistic and wrong, and when he tries to qualify it a moment later, he misrepresents even as he qualifies. "Even some creationists will admit that minor changes in size and shape might occur over time -- a process called microevolution -- but they reject the idea that one very different kind of animal or plant can some from another (macroevolution)" (pp. 32-33) It is not "some creationists admit … [Read more...]

Occam’s Shaving Kit

Jerry Coyne's first chapter of Why Evolution Is True begins with something of a patronizing quotation from Jacques Monod. "A curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it" (p. 1) Well, excuse us. But after that, he starts at the right place, which is the appearance of design. Coyne quotes Paley's form of the argument from design, which he then calls "both commonsensical and ancient" (p. 2). Beginning this way, Coyne acknowledges that evolutionists must walk up something of an incline until we all come out on the sunny uplands of enlightenment. That incline is the fact that the appearance of design is all around us. Coyne believes, however, that if we just define our terms properly, the problem evaporates. Let me begin with his definition of evolution, followed by a brief definition of the six constituent elements of it. "Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species -- perhaps a self-replicating molecule -- that lived … [Read more...]