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Intelligent Design or “No Model” Creationism Part II

Ronald H. Pine

October 15, 2005

Continued from Part 1...

“Pandas and People” is an ID textbook designed to “supplement” legitimately scientific texts used in public schools. It argues for no evolution beyond the species level (and tells some lies to make it appear that this is all that has happened in the case of the Hawaiian honeycreepers, for example). Many other Creationist works take the same position—that is, they do until they get to the issue of Noah’s Ark. In addition to the ancestors of the animals living today, Noah would have had to take the dinosaurs on board, along with all the other land creatures that supposedly died in the Flood. This is because Young Earth Creationists interpret the sedimentary rocks in which we find dinosaurs and other fossil animals as having been deposited by the Flood. Now in order for the dinosaurs, etc. to have died in the Flood, they would have had to be alive before the Flood—alive at the time when the Bible says that Noah took every kind of living land animal onto the Ark—get it? Not only dinosaurs would have been included but every fossil kind of mammal, non-dinosaurian reptile, you name it. So how did Noah and his wife and his three sons and their wives take care of all these animals in the Ark for a whole year? Keep in mind that there were almost 800 genera of dinosaurs known at last count—and when I called the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago, they told me that the maximum average number of animals that a present-day zookeeper can take care of is 33, and these zookeepers don’t have to contend with dinosaurs. The rate of discovery of “new” genera of dinosaurs is exponential. Less than 3/5 of them were made known to science during the period 1800-1990, a period of 190 years, while the remaining 2/5+ became known in the next 14 years. It has been estimated that, all told, about 50,000 genera of dinosaurs have lived on the earth, with these genera containing a half-million species.

Now I think that it would take a near infinitude of ad hoc miracles to take care of the Ark’s animals. Not just minor miracles, but really big miracles! But such miracles should not be a problem for the Fundamentalists’ God. After all, miracles are what gods are for. But the more ad hoc miracles you throw into your pseudoscience text, the less scientific it looks somehow, so the Creationists have gone to ridiculous extremes to try to explain naturalistically how all those animals could be taken care of (with, apparently, not a single female, of an unclean kind, taken onto the Ark, dying before it produced a female offspring). Scenarios involving all the animals having been babies (which presents problems of its own); or, in the case of the dinosaurs, merely eggs; or all of them hibernating—as if all animals can hibernate—or feeding the carnivores specially prepared vegetable diets—the whole thing is simply pathetic! I guess Noah and his family must have fed the rabbits and other critters contraceptives, too. Think about it.

Another attempted Creationist solution to the problem of handling so many animals on the Ark is to say that, for example, instead of a pair of coyotes being cared for, along with a pair of dogs, a pair of gray wolves, a pair of red foxes, etc., really only one pair of animals of the “dog kind” had to be on the Ark. In other words, when God created all of the created kinds he created only one sort of dog-like animal, that is, only one dog-like “baramin.” Because only one “baramin” of dog-like animals was created, only two of these dog-like animals had to be on the Ark. Then, after the Flood, in the very short time period till now—only about 4,300 years by the standard Creationist reckoning—the Ark-borne pair of “dog kind” animals rapidly diversified into the 14 genera and 34 species of modern-day dog-like animals. Some Creationists even trace the hyena family back to the original “dog kind.” This would add another whole family of animals of 4 genera and 4 species. Incidentally, hyenas are reckoned to be much, much more distantly related to dogs than people are to apes. And so we see that the very same people who deny that evolution through natural selection can go farther than the species level find themselves proposing the existence of some agent of extremely rapid and profound change, far, far more rapid than anything ever conceived of by any evolutionary biologist. And, of course, all of this is supposed to have happened within historic times. Extensive evidence of these galloping phylogenetic changes, should, therefore, be found in the voluminous collections of bones taken from archeological sites, and in lots of geologically recent (“post-Flood”) sediments. Absolutely no evidence of these changes is found. Modern-day-type dogs, wolves, jackals, foxes etc. appear suddenly and fully formed in the very earliest Neolithic archeological sites. Where oh where are the required intermediate forms?

By this sort of reasoning, all of the members of the “cat kind” as well—lions, tigers, cheetahs, tabbies, etc.—need not have been on the Ark but only one pair belonging to the ancestral “cat baramin.” And so on for all the other sorts of animals. All of this is to make it appear that no near infinitude of ad hoc miracles would have been necessary to get all the animals safely onto the Ark in the first place and then to care for them for a whole year and then have them survive on the lifeless, moonlike landscape that must have resulted from the Flood.

Again, pathetic!

Some of the Myriad Fatal Facts for ID

In order for any form of Creationism, including ID, to gain intellectual respectability, both in the scientific community and among informed laypeople (one of the supposed objectives of the “Wedge Project), it must freely admit the truth of the following 24 statements (among many others) and explain, in compelling fashion, by means of a “model,” how these facts (among many others) are compatible with whatever particular form of Creationism is at issue, and how they can be explained and predicted by the tenets of that form of Creationism. Protestations equivalent to “God must have made all these things that way because He felt like it;” or attributing some other indemonstrable motive to God; or simply stating that “God moves in mysterious ways;” or “He could, after all, create things any old way He wanted;” will not constitute compelling explanations. All of the following 24 facts are not only obviously compatible with the proposition that evolution occurs, but, taken as a whole, provide highly powerful consilience in the argument that evolution does occur, not to mention that these facts are, for the most part predicted by the proposition that evolution occurs. Furthermore, if just about any one of these facts were not true, it would falsify or at least strongly tend to falsify evolution. Simply trying to argue against the truth of certain of these 24 statements, as is commonly done by Creationists, including ID Creationists, will keep any form of Creationism, including ID, from ever getting to first base with the world scientific community because the situations in question have simply been too well documented in countless studies by countless legitimate scientific investigators. Remember though, that the ID Creationists, although cutting themselves loose (in public anyway) from the Bible-Science “model,” have retained all the typical old-time Creationist spurious arguments against evolution, including the ones dealing with fossils. It’s actually hard to take the ID essayists seriously when they say that one of their immediate goals is to convert the legitimate scientific community to ID-style Creationism. This would seem to be non-essential to their religious/political objectives in any case. In the long run, however, unless they and their allies do succeed in establishing a virtual theocracy first, the ID essayists’ fundamental inability to convert actual scientists to their cause could lead to their downfall if the scientific community as a whole ever recognizes the seriousness of the threat and finally takes concerted and determined action against pseudoscientific apologetics of all kinds.

OK, here follow some of the facts that any ID-Creationist “model” would have to accept, explain, and predict before it could be taken seriously as science:

  1. We know that the characteristics of living things can be changed because we have domestic breeds and strains of plants and animals which are clearly different from their known wild ancestors. It may seem strange for me to include this obvious fact—surely the ID essayists don’t bother to dispute this! However, many of them, like other sorts of Creationists, in order to minimize the force of the argument that the results of artificial selection by breeders might suggest that natural selection could have similar effects, have lied to the effect that all of these changes in domestic plants and animals have resulted from nothing more than differential reshuffling and loss of various genes (alleles) that were already in the original non-domesticated ancestors. This appears to be, at least in part, a carryover from earlier Creationist writings in which all of the original created kinds (“baramins”) were said to be “superheterozygotes;” that is, that each individual possessed the maximum possible amount of personal genetic diversity. The supposed post-Flood differentiation of, for example, all the present-day foxes, wolves, jackals, etc. from the single “superheterozygous” ancestral pair of the “dog kind” supposedly resulted from the same sort of reshuffling and loss of genes (alleles) that has supposedly been solely responsible for producing all our breeds and strains of domestic plants and animals. (Incidentally, the Creationists have attributed the multicentenarian lifespans achieved by the Bible’s antediluvian patriarchs to the supposed health benefits of these patriarchs’ having supposedly been “superheterozygotic.”)

  2. Changes have also been observed to take place in non-domestic organisms—e.g., industrial-revolution-influenced darkening of color in various kinds of moths, appearance of drug-resistant strains of disease-causing bacteria, appearance of pesticide-resistant strains of insects and rats, etc. Some interesting adaptive metabolic changes have also appeared in some experimental bacterial cultures. Here again, some ID essayists, as other Creationists have done before them, falsely claim that these sorts of alterations are always merely the result of change in frequency of or elimination of certain genes (alleles) that were already present in the parental populations—otherwise, someone might think that mechanisms allowing actual evolution could be involved.

  3. The world’s organisms clearly fall into “nested sets"—that is, there are major, more inclusive, groups defined by fundamental suites of “unique” characters, with certain of these groups containing successive levels of subgroups which are in turn defined by suites of successively less fundamental “unique” characteristics. This is what makes it relatively easy to classify the world’s organisms into phyla, classes, orders, etc., and is exactly the pattern we would predict would exist on a planet where evolution occurs—where organisms are related by common descent in the familiar tree-like pattern. The only “explanation” of this pattern that any Creationist of any stripe has ever been able to offer is that God just happened to choose this particular pattern for some reason. Others have simply denied the undeniable, saying that the pattern is not really as I have described it here, and have provided a scrambled obfuscatory account of the actual situation found in nature.

  4. Organisms which differ in their suites of “unique” fundamental characteristics do not share considerably less fundamental “unique” characteristics. This means, among other things, that we'll never find an animal with feathers and also with eyes anything like a housefly’s. There would be no particular reason why we couldn’t find such combinations on a planet without evolution. The reason why evolution makes this sort of thing impossible is that the characteristics of flies on the one hand, and those of birds on the other, would have evolved on separate branches of the evolutionary tree after a major branching split farther down. Eyes and feathers can’t jump from branch to branch any more than you can inherit some genetic trait from a cousin. (There are certain cases where “jumps” of this general sort have apparently occurred, especially in bacteria, but they are irrelevant to the issue of entire organs in animals doing so.) Again, for the Creationist, God must have made things look this way just because He felt like it.

  5. Apparent exceptions to the last principle will on closer examination turn out to be cases of superficially similar but actually fundamentally different “less fundamental unique characteristics", such as, say, “specialized” sense organs which look a lot like those on some other kind of organism but which have totally different embryological development, different relationships to other structures, and striking internal differences in detail. The similar-appearing eyes of vertebrates such as humans and those of cephalopods such as octopuses are a good example. These are the so-called analogous characters. It looks at first as if eyes of a certain sort might have jumped from one branch to another, but, actually, the superficially similar but fundamentally different kinds of eyes are explained evolutionarily as separate evolutionary “inventions” on separate branches. Again, without evolution, God must have just thought that making things fit this pattern would be a cool way of doing things.

  6. Various structures (and other sorts of characters) which have different functions in a group united by numerous basic common features will appear to be modifications of some basic “plan” or “scheme". These are the so-called “homologous structures"—e.g., the forelimbs of birds, bats, humans, whales, and many other vertebrates—all of which share, in detail, a basic structure but have differing functions. It’s almost enough to make you think that there was a common ancestor for all these creatures and that it had a particular limb structure which all of its descendants inherited. (Or, alternatively, there was no evolution but God must have just thought, etc.) The particular example involving the vertebrate limbs has been repeated and illustrated so frequently that someone might think that it is some sort of special case. Actually, these sorts of patterns in organisms are all-pervading within each of the different most inclusive groups, such as phyla and classes. This particular example is ideally suited to get the point across, however, because it involves structures and organisms familiar to everyone. Certain ID writers have tried to make it appear as if they have addressed the issue of homology vs. analogy head-on, but, by applying scientific terms incorrectly and misrepresenting the actual argument that scientists make concerning this matter, they have merely demonstrated their irreducible obtuseness and/or duplicity.

  7. Some of these “homologous” variations on a scheme are useless and may be greatly reduced in size and/or complexity. These are the “vestigial” characters. (These characters, like others, are presumably brought about by “irreducibly complex” developmental systems.) Commonly cited examples include such structures as tiny wings on various kinds of flightless birds, ear-wiggling muscles in humans, hair-erecting muscles in humans, and extra “toe-support” bones (for toes that aren’t there anymore) in horses, etc. It would appear that as the “life-styles” of various organisms have changed over time, certain structures, which were useful in these organisms’ ancestors, have become useless and are on their way to being eventually completely eliminated. Vestigial structures make for a particularly telling argument for evolution (and, one would think, a deadly one against design) and so ID essayists and other Creationists usually avoid the subject altogether. When they do feel compelled to mention them, the best that they can do is to lamely assert that a very few very carefully selected examples of structures that they say were once thought to be vestigial have now been shown to have actual functions and so, therefore, all supposed vestigial structures will eventually turn out to have actual functions. Yeah, right.

  8. Some “homologous” structures or patterns of organization found in adults of some members in a group may be assembled in embryos or larvae of others of the group, only to then be disassembled—sometimes without ever serving any function particularly related to their specific form or nature. Examples include: the coiling and then uncoiling of the body in certain shell-less snail larvae which grow up to be similarly shell-less adults, the arterial “branchial basket” (associated with blood supply to the gills in adult fish) in bird and mammal embryos, the yolk sack in mammal (including human) embryos, and embryonic teeth in whales that are toothless as adults. I’m hoping that the evolutionary tie-in is obvious, so I won’t bother to elaborate. Just as evidence for evolution can become apparent in studying adult organisms, it can as well, as would be expected, when one studies embryos or larvae (or eggs or sperm or whatever). The knee-jerk reaction of Creationists, however, whenever evidence from study of embryos is presented, is to state that this is just another case of using the now discredited “biogenetic law”—“ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” The “biogenetic law” as it was generally applied was certainly too sweeping, but the facts that I’m presenting here support the reality of evolution regardless of what status one assigns to the “biogenetic law.”

  9. There is “vestigial” genetic material. This hereditary material and the associated developmental pathways (presumably “irreducibly complex,” although useless) are ordinarily “turned off” or otherwise not allowed to manifest themselves but they can, when not turned off, produce teeth in birds, rudimentary external hind limbs in whales, etc.—structures which seemingly reflect ancestral conditions predicted by evolutionary considerations currently accepted in comparative anatomy. These ancestral conditions are also corroborated by their possession in actual intermediate forms that occur in the fossil record Why would God make things this way, one wonders, assuming that no evolution was involved. For what it’s worth, I’ve yet to see Creationists try to either explain or explain away this phenomenon. I don’t blame them.

  10. When a kind of organism performs some special act not performed by any of its near and even fairly far-flung relatives, and some special sort of anatomical feature, say, is essential for performing this specific activity, then the special anatomical feature actually found in this particular organism will often show aspects of being “makeshift” or “jury-rigged"—“jury-rigged” from some structure common to the members of its group, in which it normally serves a different function, and which all presumably inherited from a common ancestor. In no case will the structure be of the same sort as that found in an unrelated group in which the function is regularly performed by all or nearly all members—a group for which the fossil record shows that its members have had the appropriate structure for a very long time—and in which the function/structure is important in the very definition of the group. In such groups as those last mentioned, the structures will be more suitable for performing the function and will perform more “elegantly". Examples: the panda’s “thumb” as opposed to the true thumb in monkeys, apes, and humans; one of the pairs of legs being used as “feelers” in some arachnids, as opposed to the true antennae of insects. This is another case in which not only does an argument follow for evolution, but, it would appear, also an argument against the “intelligent part” of the term Intelligent Design. Why couldn’t God just go ahead and give pandas a proper sort of thumb and arachnids proper antennae? The one instance that I know of in which ID Creationists have pretended to deal with this issue is one in which they discussed it in such a confused and confusing fashion that, at the end, the reader has no idea what the nature of the associated evolutionary argument might have been. In other words, by the essayists’ standards, they had dealt with it effectively.

  11. Mountain forms, lowland desert forms, and lowland forest forms, etc. of organisms on one continent tend to show similarities one to another which can be interpreted as showing close relationships between them rather than, say, the closest relatives of mountain animals in South America being the mountain animals of the other continents and the closest relatives of the lowland desert animals in South America being the lowland desert animals of the other continents, etc. As far as I know, the ID essayists simply ignore this whole business.

  12. The apparent closest relatives of a particular sort of animal are generally close by rather than, say, on the other side of the earth. In fact, there is a correlation between the taxonomic pattern of “nested sets,” at all levels, and a less strict, but nonetheless unmistakable, “nested set” pattern of their geographic distributions. This is exactly the pattern that would be predicted if the highly apparent pattern of “relatedness” of living organisms is owing to a literal relatedness—that is, if all are related by common descent in an evolutionary “family tree.” Similarly, thousands of years ago, before the advent of rapid and easy long-distance transportation systems, this is the pattern of relationships one would have seen among aggregates of human communities. Creationists of all sorts ignore this problem unless they try to explain it by their hypothesized galloping devolution of created kinds since the Flood. The problem with this is not only the absence of the required transitional/intermediate forms in the archeological record but also that the Creationists’ post-Flood incredibly rapid devolutionary process supposedly always stops at the species level or near to it. The geographic/taxonomic nested set pattern, however, is evident not only at the specific level but at the generic, familial, and ordinal levels as well—that is to say, at “macroevolutionary” levels.

  13. The apparent closest non-local relatives of kinds found only on any given group of oceanic islands are generally on the nearest continent. This pattern also holds at levels above the strictly “microevolutionary” ones.

  14. The more isolated an oceanic island (or island continent or group of oceanic islands) is and/or the longer it has been in existence, the more different that islands’ plants and animals will be from their nearest relatives elsewhere. The degree of difference can range from the subspecific level, most often found in the case of just offshore/young islands, to at least the subordinal level, most often found in the case of great separating distances and old islands. No Creationists, including ID essayists, have ever tried to explain (or, following their usual practice, explain away) this pattern and show how it is predicted by Creationist tenets.

  15. All things being equal, the more isolated an oceanic island or island continent is, then the smaller the number of major groups of native organisms will be found there and the more the members of each such group will show marked differences from each other. Frequently one finds great diversity of form in a group of nevertheless obviously closely related organisms—with each of the different forms seeming to “mimic” a different sort of “mainland” organism in regard to its “lifestyle” and morphology. Examples: Darwin’s finches (divergence at subfamily level from mainland relatives, from each other at generic level), Hawaiian honeycreepers (divergence at family level from mainland relatives, from each other at generic level), the living and fossil Australian “two-toother” (diprotodont) marsupials (divergence at subordinal or ordinal level from marsupials elsewhere, to at least family level from each other), etc. The degrees of difference here go well beyond what Creationists of all stripes term “macroevolution.” The one Creationist who I know of who has tried to explain the diversity and distribution of Australasian marsupials was reduced to positing miraculous transport of them from Mount Ararat. Why God couldn’t have just let them wander where they would after they got off the Ark is unstated. At least this particular Flood Geologist Creationist acknowledged the existence of the problem—something that the ID essayists refuse to do.

  16. The more isolated an old island or group of old islands is, then the more likely it is to have a fair number of living or very recently extinct kinds of native flightless land birds with vestigial wings and which are (or were) found nowhere else in the world. (Because they couldn’t get there, such distant islands lack or lacked four-footed predators, so flightlessness for these birds was not a problem.) Since it is clear that certain of these islands (especially the volcanic ones) haven't always been there, then the flightless birds obviously haven't always been there either. The birds’ ancestors had to have gotten to the islands somehow. But it would have been impossible for flightless birds to get to them. Thus the sort of place we might least expect to find flightless birds turns out to be the sort of place we are most likely to find them in the real world. Clearly, the ancestors of these birds flew to the islands, only to then evolve flightlessness. In the most extreme cases (such as dodos, kiwis, and moas) the entire organization of the bird, not merely the vestigial wings, reflects their flightless status. Creationists of all kinds simply avoid this problem. The only Creationist explanation that I can think of would be that God simply thought it would be cool to create flightless birds on distant islands but uncool to create potential predators of birds there.

  17. The very, very great majority of the world’s present-day species, the very great majority of present-day genera, many present-day families, some present-day orders, classes, and some entire phyla are completely absent from the known fossil record. Also, the farther down you go in the rock layers, the fewer groups living today appear as fossils. The few present-day species that are found as fossils drop out almost immediately, then the present-day genera, then the present-day families, then the present-day orders and so on. This goes for dense immobile creatures such as corals as much as it does for more mobile creatures. If, as some schools of Creationism believe, all were created at essentially the same time, how can we explain all these gaps in the fossil record? Shouldn’t we find fossils of present-day forms from top to bottom? And how do the Creationists explain all the clear patterns found in these gaps, with, for example, the Class Mammalia (mammals in general) first appearing after a 95% gap in the fossil record; then the Order Rodentia (rodents), within the Class Mammalia, first appearing after a 98% gap; then the Family Caviidae (guinea pig and relatives family) within the Order Rodentia after a 99% gap; then the genus Cavia (guinea pig genus) within the guinea pig and relatives family after a 99.97 (or thereabouts) gap. The domestic guinea pig species Cavia porcellus is not known as a fossil, so that gives a gap of 100% in the fossil record. This is a pattern in which representatives of a given phylum appear before any representatives of a specific still-living class in that phylum; which latter, in turn, appear before any representatives of a specific still-living order in that class; which last, in turn, appear before any representatives of a specific still-living family in that order; which, last, in turn, appear before any representatives of a specific still-living genus of that family; which last, in turn, appears before some specific still-living species in that order. In other words, fossil organisms in general appear before the first fossil vertebrates in general (all of which are extinct), then the first fossil mammals in general (all of which are now extinct) appear before the first rabbit-like fossil mammals in general (all of which are now extinct), then the first members of the rabbit/hare family in general (all of which are now extinct) appear as fossils before the genus Lepus (jackrabbits and other hares in general) appears, and then the present-day species Lepus californicus, the Black-tailed Jackrabbit appears (among others). This is the sort of pattern that we see for organisms in general, not just hares, and holds for, literally, millions of species (it works for insects, for example, the present-day species of which, alone, are estimated to number in the seven to eight figures range. I hope that you can see how this pattern fits in with evolution. How do the ID Creationists explain it? They, of course, don’t even try. Frequently, Creationists, including ID Creationists, say that we should ”accept the fossil record at face value.” OK, let’s do just that!

  18. There are, in various parts of the world, layers of horizontal sedimentary rocks lying on top of each other like the layers in a layer cake. Sequences of these successive layers may be thousands of feet thick and a given layer may be thousands of square miles in extent. Almost everyone has seen pictures, at least, of the Grand Canyon—one of the places where erosion has revealed the layering in a most dramatic fashion. It is clear at those places on earth where a series of horizontal layers maintains the same sequence over enormous areas and little in the way of faulting, folding, and mountain building past and/or present is in evidence, that the layers are in their original order and have not been flipped upside down or something. It is then obvious that each deeper layer must have been laid down before the ones above it—as you go down the sequence, the rocks get older. This is called the “law of superposition.” As you examine the fossils in such a sequence of rock layers, you will find that the different layers contain different suites of kinds of fossils, with certain kinds of fossils being found only in certain layers or sets of adjacent layers. Many of these layers contain large assemblages of species or genera, all of which are extinct and different from anything living today and also different from anything found in any other fossiliferous layer anywhere on earth, including all the older layers. (It’s those accursed gaps again.) Flood Geology-type Creationists have tried to explain this pattern in three ad hoc ways (a) differential abilities to escape the Floodwaters could cause certain suites of species to all be killed and to be deposited in sediments separate from the sediments in which other suites of species were deposited, (b) “sorting,” by the turbulent Floodwaters, of the different organisms according to their shapes, sizes, and densities and, (c) concentric elevational zones of totally different biotic communities of plants and animals—the organisms in a lowland community will get drowned and then deposited in the Flood’s sediments before those of the next higher up community, etc. These specially pled explanations are, of course, nonsense and the actual features of the fossil record clearly show them to be so. How do the ID theorists try to explain the fact of fossil zonation? They don’t.

  19. As you ascend the sequence of rock layers, the enclosed fossil organisms will, on average, look more and more like living forms of today. (This fits in with point no. 17 above.) I have performed an experiment in which I required high school students to put assemblages of fossils from different geological ages in chronological order. The fossils from each age were chosen by a person or persons who had no idea of the use I was to put them to. (In other words, they were chosen more or less at random.) Once the students hit upon ordering the assemblages by the average degree of resemblance to present-day forms, they rarely made a mistake. (There were two adjacent time zones that they sometimes reversed, however.) Young Earth Creationists try to explain the obvious pattern by waving their arms and again appealing to “escape capabilities,” “sorting,” and “elevational zonation.” How do the ID essayists explain it? You know the answer.

  20. If you study the fossils in all such sequences of rocks from all over the world and then arrange all these fossils according to absolute (actual) age, as determined by radiometric dating, etc., there will be an observable overall increase in the degree of complexity possessed by the most complex organisms from each age, as illustrated by the sequence: bacteria—one-celled eucaryotes—simple invertebrates—complex invertebrates (including the first land animals) and vertebrates. How do the ID essayists...oh, forget it.

  21. Specific sequences of first appearances of kinds of fossils in the rocks of the world is as would be predicted by comparative anatomy, e.g., non-vertebrate chordates, agnaths (jawless vertebrates)—jawed fishes—amphibians—reptiles—birds and mammals. Guess what the ID essayists have to say about this.

  22. The most amphibian-like fishes known first appear in the world’s rocks around the same time as the most fish-like amphibians known—and many other similar predicted “time-zones” of transition of this sort also appear. The usual ID essayist silence—or else they talk around it.

  23. Predicted sorts of intermediate or transitional forms do appear in the fossil “record” and right about the time they would be expected to appear—intermediate forms between reptiles and birds and between reptiles and mammals, for example. But we don’t predict or find intermediates between, say, birds and cockroaches—such intermediate forms are impossible from the standpoint of evolutionary inference (but not Creationist inference). The ID essayists, of course, use the same timeworn and eyerollingly stupid arguments against the existence of intermediate or transitional forms as their openly young-earth Creationist predecessors do. As noted above, however, some possible ID “models” would actually predict the finding of fossils of such forms.

  24. There are cave animals that lack eyes and also lack pigment in their skin. Their nearest relatives (if they are not also cave animals) are generally found very close to these caves and have normal eyes and normal skin pigment. Although eyes and pigment are absent in the cave animals and have presumably degenerated over time until the present condition was reached, in the case of, for example, certain cave fishes, their “lateral line systems”—sensory systems that work just as well in the dark as in the light—are exceedingly hypertrophied and much more complex than in their above-ground relatives, presumably to compensate for the cave fishes’ living in a sightless world. It should be noted that these cave animals could not have always been in the caves because the cave systems have not always been there. The caves were formed by once solid layers of limestone being dissolved by ground water. It would certainly seem that greater complexity can result from evolutionary processes, although the ID essayists could always say that direct miraculous intervention could be responsible for the complexification—after the caves were formed, that is.

Actually Not Even A Pseudoscience

If evolution does not occur and has not occurred, then an infinity of conceivable alternative situations that we might have encountered in nature instead of the ones listed above (and unlisted above) that we actually do encounter may be imagined, any one of which would tend to or absolutely falsify evolution as a process. If the only “explanation” for why the world is the way it is is that God wanted it to be that way for some reason and so He made it that way (but without employing evolution), then the conclusion seems almost inescapable that the reason He wanted it to be that way was to make it look like evolution is real. The apparent overall “design” that we see in nature, taken at face value, argues for evolution. Actually, I have heard certain Christians say that all those fossil bones, etc. which seem to argue against Genesis were put there by God to test our faith. A good way to separate the sheep from the goats. I guess that an untested faith wouldn’t be worth much in the eyes of God, right? Any intellectually honest Creationist (perhaps an oxymoron) who became really familiar, first-hand, with all the evidence listed above in points 1-24 (along with much other evidence) would have to say, it seems to me, “God could have saved us all a lot of trouble, assuming that evolution doesn’t occur, if He hadn’t, time and time again, made it look, in such incredible detail, as if evolution does occur.” I suspect that Evangelical Christian theologians will have a problem with the idea that God would practice deception by creating our world in such a manner that, even though evolution was not employed in the creative process, it was made to look, in exhaustive detail, as if it had been. Because the ID essayists are so allergic to what they regard as too great a reliance on naturalistic explanations, but have no problem with non-naturalistic ones, I think I can see a way out for them. We all know who the Great Deceiver is, and it is not God. Why couldn’t Satan be responsible for putting in place all that apparent evidence for evolution? While God was creating the world in a non-deceptive way, using whatever miraculous protocol he found suitable, Satan could have been engaged concurrently in massive diabolical jiggery-pokery, modifying God’s creation to make it look evolutionary. This would be in keeping with the generally-held pre-Enlightenment picture of how things worked. Back then, the causes of natural phenomena were variously assigned to both volitional acts of God and of the Devil, depending on the circumstances. The ID essayists tell us that they wish to take us back to a pre-Enlightenment world, and getting Satan back into things in this way would certainly be a big step in the right direction.

I hope that I have proved to your satisfaction that as science, ID is simply a scam and a fraud. It is a religious/political movement, pure and simple, and differs from standard “scientific” Creationism only in that it does not openly support a “model” of any kind. In lacking a “model” it is simply “stripped-down” Creationism. ID still uses all of the old standard and repeatedly retold and repeatedly refuted Creationist anti-evolution arguments, however, and even its arguments for design are not really new, they’re just decked out in more rouge, lipstick, and false eyelashes. Actually, ID is not even a pseudoscience. Any pseudoscience worthy of the name will have at least gone to the trouble to come up with alleged contributions to knowledge. In other words, an actual pseudoscience should have actual content.

ID’s long-term goal is to make over our society so as to increase the hold of Evangelical Christianity on all our institutions and our way of life. Its anti-evolution crusade is merely the first step in attempts to realize this agenda. ID’s proponents admit this themselves.

Please pay attention to who you and your friends vote for to be on your school boards and also just what kind of stuff is being taught in science classes in your local public schools.

By the way, if you read no other book in the coming year, read the following. It’s a truly marvelous, scholarly, tremendously informative, and comprehensive treatment of who the ID folks are and what they’re up to. It will be the definitive work on this subject for a long time.


Ronald H. Pine

Ronald H. Pine's photo

Ronald H. Pine, Ph. D., is a Research Associate at the Field Museum, Chicago, and Permanent Visiting Scholar, Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, University of Kansas.