Can Evolution Explain The Indonesian Mimicry Octopus?

In an online exchange, I asked a God-denier to provide evidence that evolution could explain the origins of the Indonesian Mimic Octopus. This exchange happened after after the person with the Twitter profile name, @AmputeeAtheist, called a Christian brother “stupid” for showing in an article how evolutionists have bad assumptions rather than evidence for their theory

In the link that @AmputeeAtheist provided which supposedly provided proof that evolution can explain the origins of any octopus…let alone the Indonesian Mimic Octopus, we are given several options to choose from to verify his claims.

Unbeknownst to @AmputeeAtheist, since he failed to read his own link, the second article in his list was written by Dr. Brian Thomas, who works for The Institute For Creation Research. How embarrassing for him

Embarrassing Link for God-Deniers

If you haven’t had a chance, stop now and watch the video in @Rational_faith_ ‘s article about the Indonesian Mimic Octopus. God’s design is indeed wondrous!

As I have done in my series of articles exposing evolution’s inability to explain anything, I’ll take a couple of the “scientific” articles in @AmputeeAtheist ‘s link and expose how there’s no actual evidence in them, but they are littered with assumptions and ambiguity:

Here’s the first article in the list – https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/60/11/962/329655?login=true

Most of the article is behind a paywall, but the article reveals how little these highly-trained lab coats know about the evolution of octopi.

“remarkable”
“astonishing”
“unusual”
“There is also conflicting research about whether its defense mechanisms are learned or inherited”
“The researchers had predicted…Instead, they discovered…”
“evolved”

“the traits evolved”

You’ll notice the deafening lack of details and the monumental surprise of the researchers that an octopus could have evolved

The second article in @AmputeeAtheist’s link, as was pointed out earlier, was written by a Christian, who trusts God’s revelation in scripture that animals were created rather than evolved, so there’s no need to expose the evolutionary deceit there. But you can read this magnificent article here. So, we’ll move on to the next article

This article is FULL of assumptions and ambiguity but is however lacking evidence that evolution can explain the origins of the Indonesian Mimic Octopus (IMO). Let’s review what it would take to show evidence

  • DNA of direct ancestor species of IMO without mimic traits
  • Repeatable evolutionary mechanism (X) that creates the information that builds phenotypic traits for the IMO to mimic more than 15 disparate species
  • Repeatable evolutionary mechanism (Y) that creates the information that controls (software) the phenotypic traits for the IMO to mimic more than 15 disparate species
  • Both mechanisms (X) and (Y) must be unguided and shown to be mechanism that transform DNA base pairs in single, successive, slight modifications

Let’s see if this article contains any evidence like that or if it’s filled with assumptions

Before you shriek “Quote-mining!!!!”, you can read the whole article here and if you can show that instead of assumptions and ambiguity, there is actual evidence, be my guest. But on to the analysis. NOTES: Quotes from the article are in italics, and my comments of each quote are directly below:

flatfish swimming appears to have evolved concurrently with extremely long arms

Notice that the details are missing. And asserting (completely without evidence) that anything evolved concurrently is incompatible with evolutionary assumptions that the process of evolution proceeds with numerous, successive, slight modifications

the subsequent diversification of their descendents into lineages with successful conspicuous defence behaviours, remains a puzzling topic in evolutionary biology

Puzzling? Clearly!

have evolved

Details missing!

Maybe we’ll find the answer in the section titled: TOWARDS AN EVOLUTIONARY UNDERSTANDING OF A CONSPICUOUS PRIMARY DEFENCE IN T. MIMICUS

explore possible scenarios for the evolution

Possible scenarios? You mean there’s no ACTUAL evidence, just possible scenarios? That’s what I’ve been saying all along

Central to this investigation is the well-documented fact that many behaviours, including visual defences and their associated body colour patterns (e.g. Brodie III, 1989), are heritable traits

The link supposedly pointing to Brodie’s article is broken and subsequent search for the CENTRAL PILLAR TO THIS INVESTIGATION was fruitless. An article written by Brodie, on which their whole research relies, is missing in action

we assume

Obviously!

possible social mimicry…may also influence

More assumptions

evolve at the same time

Details missing!

Exaptations, by contrast, are traits that ‘are fit for their current role … but were not designed for it’

There is by definition NO DESIGN in evolution.

evolved originally either as adaptations for other uses

Details missing!

is likely to have evolved early in this lineage

Details missing! Assumptions abound!

we estimated genealogical relationships

Estimated? Estimated? I thought this was supposed to be about evidence

In the event of discrepancies between our observations and published accounts we followed our own observations

There was a fine chart (Figure 2) that presumed to show evolutionary relationships. However, they brought their own argument into question that hey relied on evidence rather than subjective opinion in their admission above

appears most closely related

Ambiguity persists in that quote

may have evolved

Lots of assumptions and the details missing!

it appears that

Ambiguity persists

behavioural and morphological traits emerge concurrently

Incompatible with evolutionary assumptions that the process of evolution proceeds with numerous, successive, slight modifications

may have yielded

More ambiguity

may have evolved

Details missing!

may enable

More ambiguity

may evolve imperfect mimicry of an intermediate form

More ambiguity and where’s this intermediate form? ANOTHER missing link?

Although the lack of a conclusive flatfish model has generally been identified as a weakness in the cephalopod mimicry literature (Hanlon et al., 2008), we feel it reflects imperfect mimicry of multiple models in regions of high biodiversity

Feelings and weaknesses saturate this article

We do not know how know how potential unpalatability…may further contribute to predator confusion, learning, and/or future avoidance

They DO NOT KNOW…no doubt

The pattern is emerging that evolution, while presented as a theory with oVerWheLmiNg evidence, is instead supported by massive assumptions behind a venire of white lab coats

The Altruism Exchange – Part 4

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The Tall Friendly Atheist Dad (TFAD) didn’t care much for my questioning of the ‘one true religion of Darwinism’. Last year, I wrote a post asking the question “Can Evolution Explain Altruism?” and after exposing the claims of those, who answered affirmatively, as impotent – TFAD put quite a bit of time and effort into a 4 part rebuttal. I answered his first 2 submissions in Part 1 and Part 2 of my replies, and for the most part TFAD wasted his “shots” on nit picking and majoring on the minors. In his third objection, TFAD did address the substance of my arguments, but my rebuttal of his objections showed that my original contention is escaped his objections without damage. Let’s see if his final objection can make him a champion for Darwin by slaying anyone, who would dare question the narrative or if his best quality is his friendliness.

Right from the start TFAD attacks the argument messenger

TFAD: “…you’re trying to counter scientific ignorance writ-large in the form of Fundamental Evangelicalism combined with Presuppositional Apologetics…After much consternation, I’ve decided to release the 4th and final part, but with most of the links removed. Not that Creationists care much for them”

So, TFAD postures his stance in his final response with the assertion that his opponent is “scientifically ignorant” and never checks sources. TFAD quickly forgets that checking sources is what started this discussion. Way back in the original post TFAD posted the link that would birth this discussion shown in the picture below (TFAD comments in red)

He’s not off to a good start, since while some creationists or presuppositionalists that he’s encountered in the past might have ignored a link or been ignorant of the teachings of evolution, The ApoloJedi guild is not so easily dismissed. TFAD now moves to object to the use of presuppositional apologetics and defines it as special pleading

TFAD: “they need this out BECAUSE the evidence from philosophy, morality and especially the natural sciences all defeat the case for God’s existence and his superior qualities when considered strictly on their merits”

This is tone deaf bluster as each of these categories is the “home field” of the Christian. In matters of philosophy, only Christianity can justify logic, reasoning, and knowledge. In fact, I recently asked the question of the naturalist “Can Evolution Explain Reason?” and similarly showed naturalism to be devoid of explanatory power. His bluster gets insanely absurd when he claims that evidence for morality defeats the case for God’s existence. The most famous of God-deniers, Richard Dawkins, proclaims of atheism

RD: “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

Any morality that a God-denier might propose is subjective, self-defeating, and irrational as shown

His final claim that the evidence from the natural sciences is one that we can debate only because Christianity is true as was shown earlier in the link regarding logic, reasoning, and knowledge. Should an atheist want to discuss evidence, they would need to demonstrate that their worldview can consistently and sufficiently provide a foundation for the very things on which evidence relies (logic, induction, truth, and morality), and because of their epistemic assumptions, none can possibly be forthcoming.

TFAD: “ApoloJedi has only used a social definition of altruism, ‘good done for no thought of reward’, not an academic one. If ApoloJedi is trying to convince like-minded believers of his position, mission accomplished, but has he done enough to convince rational skeptics like me? No.”

OK. Can we observe behaviors in creatures today that one would define as the social definition of altruism? YES! Those observations are seen without question. I asked the question whether evolution can explain those behaviors, and it cannot. TFAD wanting to protect his strongly held faith commitment to the religion of survival of the fittest would rather redefine altruism to mean something that involves a reward, so that the dogma of ‘natural selection acting on random mutations in the struggle to produce the most fit offspring’ might have a minute chance of partial explanation. But it’s just like when the staunch evolutionists vainly and incorrectly claimed to have defeated Behe’s mousetrap analogy by saying “But HERE’S a different mousetrap that doesn’t look like your analogy”, TFAD says “But HERE’S a different kind of rewarding altruism (not true altruism) that isn’t defeated by your scandalous questions.”

In a response to my quote that reads “it is my intent to always revere Christ Jesus as the authority in all matters”, TFAD has this to say with incredulity

TFAD: “In all matters, especially scientific? But why? Why would anyone hold as a scientific authority a person who – despite being the one who created the universe (Colossians 1:16) – didn’t know or care to teach about bacteria or atoms or DNA? What was Jesus’ knowledge about electricity or vaccines or neurochemistry?”

Yes. All matters. Hold on for some scriptural support of my original claim and then some comments

  • 2 Cor 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ
  • Matt 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me
  • Eph 1:20-21 when God raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come

From Abraham Kuyper “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” So, Yes TFAD, Jesus is authoritative over scientific matters, electricity, vaccines and neurochemistry. And while Jesus has an eternal dominion over these fields of science, the things you currently believe about science will be mocked as archaic by natural philosophers a few hundred years into the future. Your own epistemology of provisionalism gives you no certainty that your temporal faith commitments are anything other than your opinion.

In critiquing this line in my post: “and not put the God-denier in the judge’s seat as if he/she can correctly judge evidence in accordance with a perfect perception of reality. Only God has a perfect perception of all of reality” TFAD had this to say:

TFAD: “This is a common line from Pre-Suppositionalists that I believe actually betrays why they’re reluctant to apply the same standard to God as what they happily do every day to everybody and everything else. It’s funny – Pre-Suppositionalists, and even most Protestant Evangelicals, will happily sit in judgement over other people’s behaviour, over the morality other religions, the existence of their associated deities, and over the morality and judgement of certain presidential candidates and their families – yet when it comes to their deity, suddenly being in the judge’s seat is wrong. You can’t have it both ways. Either judge nothing on its merits, or judge everything on its merits”

Unknowingly TFAD has stepped beyond the perceived safety of the modern academic paradigm, and has jumped into the presupp-infested waters of metaphysics. STANDARDS. Oh yes, God has his standard of righteousness on which everyone will be judged. Those, who are in a right relationship with Jesus by grace through faith will not be punished for their wickedness, but those who are dead in their trespasses will face righteous judgment from the Eternal Judge. Regarding his lament that God sits in the judgment seat but denies that seat to the God-denier as special pleading – it’s only special pleading if God is not the eternal Judge. In the same way that it’s not special pleading for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to sit in his judges chair and pass judgments (along with the other SCOTUS judges) and deny Neil Young a place at the judge’s seat. Because Neil Young is a has-been musician not a judge. It’s idolatry for the creation (mankind) to think of itself as the Creator or in any way worthy to be sitting in the holy judgment seat. If you want to “judge everything on its merits”, what is your merit (standard)? When the standard is God’s Holy Word, the God-denier will quickly withdraw his desire to be judged on that merit

TFAD: “Now, let’s ask the question: from the Bible’s perspective, how accurate does God perceive reality? Badly is the answer. For example, Genesis 1:6 describes a firmament, a crystalline dome that divides the sky from outer space and has windows to let the rain in (Genesis 7:11) and covers the earth. And let’s be clear: the Hebrew word for firmament, “raqiya”, means a solid dome, not simply the atmosphere”

While I could remind TFAD that his own epistemology is provisional, and he himself does not and cannot truly perceive reality with perfect accuracy, we’ll analyze his misunderstanding of the biblical text that he notes. He claims that God believes that the firmament or expanse from Genesis 1 is a crystalline solid dome. Not unsurprisingly TFAD did not quote Genesis 1:20 that says the birds fly in the expanse, so it could not be solid.

TFAD: “Genesis also describes the moon as a “lesser light” in contrast to the sun being the “greater light”. The problem? The moon has no capacity to generate light”

Looks like TFAD has revived his classic picking-at-nits argument. God clearly defined his purpose for the moon and as a reflector, it functions quite well. But if the moon were a fusion reactor like Solar, the earth would be completely sterile from a star so close. What else might happen is a tiny star were so close to Earth? When the fusion materials were depleted, it would go supernova, and that would end poorly for the biological creatures God had designed for his glory. TFAD although wanting to be the Judge and the Creator didn’t think that one through very well.

TFAD: “But let’s continue to evaluate God’s perception of the reality he supposedly created. Isaiah 11:12 refers to the four quarters of the earth, which is a reflection of a classic belief that the earth was a circular disk, not a globe. Job 38:19 asks “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?”. Light doesn’t live anywhere – light is an electromagnetic wave in certain bands of wavelengths, and darkness is not a thing, it’s merely the absence of light.”

This is a common tactic from God-deniers – force wooden literalism onto poetic passages. We’ll chalk this up as continued nit-picking as these lazy objections have been addressed even before Al Gore invented the internet

TFAD: “And the Bible is without any description of our local solar system. God, not once, mentions any other planets”

That’s like saying, “My toothbrush, although it can float, cannot launch F-18 Hornets into the sky therefore the inventor of toothbrushes is an idiot!” God’s purpose in the Bible is to teach us how to be in a right relationship with Him. He left many things for people to discover for His glory, so it is absurd to declare that God does not have a correct perception of reality because He didn’t catalogue all knowledge.

To my valid claim that “God, who is the source of all knowledge, has revealed some of his knowledge so that we can know those things with certainty” TFAD responded:

TFAD: “Only if we are willing to cede our intellect (as well as our humanity) to a book written by men who wondered where the sun went at night.”

It’s likely that many of you have heard this little jab that the authors of the Bible (kings, doctors, philosophers, warriors, judges, lawyers) were dimwits. Secondly, as has been pointed out many times, “intellect” is only possible because Christianity is true. Were humans simply the accidental aggregation of stardust, intellect would not be possible, knowable, or trustworthy

TFAD: “Does God command altrusim (sp) ? Only when he’s not commanding genocide (1 Samuel 15), endorsing slavery (Exodus 21), literally de-valuing women (Leviticus 27), having his people kidnap little girls after their parents and brothers have been murdered (Numbers 31), and much, much more.”

God-deniers seem not to comprehend the difference between judgment and genocide as they irrationally judge God without warrant. To the God-denier, what’s wrong with disintegrating aggregations of particles in an amoral cosmos? They have no consistent/justified moral foundation on which to stand. Slavery? Again, to the God-denier, why is slavery wrong? On what basis do you declare ANYTHING that God commands as immoral? The best they can say is that they don’t personally like it at this time since they have no absolute standard by which to judge others. Would it be too much to duplicate the meme of the boyfriend looker from above to highlight the inherent problems of those, who outwardly deny God, recognize the need for moral absolutes? Why not – as it’s my new favorite meme

Now we get into the part of TFAD’s objection where he exposes his ignorance of the concept of an “internal critique”. An internal critique is taking on the perspective of your interlocutor and showing how (within his own viewpoint) his perspective leads to a contraction, an absurdity, and/or inconsistency. An external critique, which is far less persuasive in terms of argumentation, is showing an interlocutor why they are wrong according to one’s own view.

TFAD: “ApoloJedi isn’t saying the theory of evolution is unscientific because he has conferred with those with professional qualifications and done a comparative study of numerous genomes to come up with a competing data set that has withstood scientific scrutiny to the point that it attracts academic attention. No. He is saying evolution is false because it is discordant with his theology”

He said this in response to my brief explanation that evolution is incorrect according to the truth that God revealed in both the Bible and in nature from the Christian perspective (external critique). But I immediately continued with the summation of the blog post which showed from the internal critique (analyzing the teachings/writings of evolutionists in their failed attempt to explain altruism via evolution) that the theory of evolution is impotent in accounting for anything altruism. This was a very brief recognition that evolution is not just wrong from my own perspective, but also from theirs

TFAD: “The article didn’t enter the worldview of the God-denier, for the simple reason that ApoloJedi’s article was a theological hatchet job, and evolution is a science issue – not a theological one. Christians such as Dr. Francis Collins, Dr. Theodosius Dobzhansky and Pope Francis see no threat to their faith when looking at the theory of evolution, so why does ApoloJedi?”

If I had not been doing an internal critique, I would have filled my blog post with links to ICR.org, Creation.com, and AnswersInGenesis.org (because they are awesome websites). But that would have been an external critique of evolutionism. But I didn’t. I asked evolutionists to account for their claims, and they could not. Regarding Francis and Francis: I do not share the same faith (also named the same and share some elements) as Francis Collins and Pope Francis, so the critique was warranted

At the end of his blog, TFAD falls right back into the very same thinking that my original post exposed as impotent. I showed that the only way that “altruism” can possibly be explained by evolution is by redefining altruism to mean something that it does not mean

TFAD: “cooperative tendencies…natural selection and social selection have worked and do work against individuals who do not help and share with others…reciprocal altruism, ‘strong reciprocity’…Kin‐based altruism benefits biological relatives”

As though he had not read the original post that showed these terms clearly as redefining the word – altruism, TFAD tries to throw “strong reciprocity” at the evolutionary paradox again thinking maybe no one would notice this time.

Hopefully, this discussion will help those, who feel like they must bow obediently to whatever those in white lab coats tell you to believe without any critical thinking. Because, with some skeptical analysis, we can see that bias drives a lot of research and just because evolution is popular doesn’t mean it’s true.

The Altruism Exchange – Part 3

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In part 1 and part 2 of the rebuttal to the Tall Friendly Atheist Dad’s objections to my original article: “Can Evolution Explain Altruism” we saw that he objected from the margins and never really addressed the meat of the article. He has shown himself to be verbose and persistent…and friendly. Let’s see if Part 3 of his objection will produce some positive criticism. As before, the tall friendly one will be referred to as TFAD, TFAD’s comments will be in red.

My original post included the line “So, scientists have recognized that it is counter-intuitive to assume that altruism fits within the evolutionary explanations”. And it’s not just scientists. There’s an inherent understanding that a mechanism (evolution) that’s taught as “survival of the fittest”, “red in tooth and claw”, and “culls the weak” has basic problems also explaining sacrificial giving to help the weak survive, empathy, and protecting the weak (even of other species) at the expense of one’s own reproductive success. But TFAD declares:

“This is wrong, as well as completely missing the point. No expert on the subject says that altruism is on the whole incompatible with evolution as a mechanism for human development or advancement. Nay, a cursory Google Scholar search for “evolutionary origins human altruism” brings up over 80’000 results which actually tie human altruism to evolution”

There are so many things with TFAD’s objection to dissect. Best start at the top:

  • For him to declare someone to be wrong, he would have to have absolute knowledge, but an epistemology which assumes naturalism has no such foundation for the preconditions of intelligibility. This is not just me lazily saying “I’m right and you’re wrong!” He has recognized the deficiency in his own worldview
  • AND, I am NOT wrong. People that TFAD would recognize as experts (no creationist links below) DO recognize the inherent contradiction of the mechanisms of evolution with altruism. While researchers think they may have answers, the point remains – Altruism is in conflict with evolutionary thought.
  • “No expert” – While TFAD did not specifically define expert, it would not take long to infer what he means by expert. Are experts only those who have PhDs? What about PhDs who are Christians? What about PhDs who have different ideological assumptions than you? What about PhDs who are employed by companies that you consider biased? If a person does not have a PhD can they object or point out inconsistencies in a claim/idea? Since TFAD does not have a PhD (or recognized expertise beyond height/friendliness) why is his objection to my exposure of evolutionary deficiency worth considering? This is not to say that education is bad or that there are not people who are highly trained in specific fields. There are. And I am questioning the assumptions, processes, and conclusions of some of those experts because their reasoning (as I have shown) is questionable. People mustn’t be silenced because they do not have fancy letters after their name. No one would consider me an expert in biology, which exposes the inadequacy of the explanations of evolutionists for altruism, since a non-expert (me) has easily shown the flaws in their thinking
  • TFAD found more than 80,000 results when searching for “evolutionary origins human altruism”, and he interpreted this as “See, evolution explains altruism”. This is what is called prejudicial conjecture. Rather than reading the 80,000 results or even a few of them, he just assumed (with his bias) that all of them are the answer. If we were to use the methodology of TFAD to try to answer the question “Is inflation good for the economy?” Google returns about 269,000,000 results. And following his progression of thought, I could claim “no, it is not! See, there are 269,000,000 articles telling me why.” I’m sure you all see the flaw TFAD’s argument, and it hath a name: prejudicial conjecture.

TFAD proceeds next down the well-worn “rabbit trail” of criticizing presuppositional apologetics again for a few paragraphs. It’s not really part of the discussion, but it gives TFAD warm fuzzies to be critical of philosophies with which he disagrees. But back to the real substance of the ongoing debate

I wrote “Essentially, he told me that science DOES have answers, and I’m ignorant of those answers because I’ve never read them” and TFAD countered:

“Not quite. I never said he was ignorant of the answers because he’s never read them. What I will say is that lousy epistomology (sp) utilising intellectually treasonous theology prevents people with theological blinders on from accepting the fact they could ever be wrong about something, particularly when that something challenges their deeply-held religious convictions. So ApoloJedi is not ignorant because he hasn’t read the answers – he’s ignorant (to use his word) because his chain of logic prevents him from ever being corrected on any topic he sees as contradictory to his theology.”

TFAD again has fallen into the trap of misunderstanding the entire purpose of the original blog post. I used the definitions of the evolutionists. I used the papers and books of the evolutionists. I used the links and assumptions of the evolutionists…all as an internal critique of their explanations of things (altruism) clearly seen. What remains unseen are their assumptions that natural selection acting on random mutations in the struggle for survival can produce behavior that is sacrificial to the reproductive fitness of the giver. TFAD says that I am opposed to “ever being corrected on any topic he sees as contradictory to his theology”. Should TFAD desire to take this path of argumentation, he needs to establish an epistemology with transcendent justification whereby his philosophical foundation is sufficient to correct others. As already shown and as he has already admitted, his philosophical foundation is unable to do so. Even if he does not want to go so deep as to engage in metaphysical foundations (as he really hates presuppositional apologetics), he could at the very least demonstrate (from his own perspective) the necessary evidence that evolutionary mechanisms can produce altruistic behavior in creatures where their direct ancestor did not behave altruistically. This glaring deficiency is what precipitated the original blog post in the 1st place, and TFAD would rather distract and pick at nits than demonstrate actual evidence that would put the whole issue to bed.

Fehr/Fischbacher

When, in my original post, I said “They (Fehr/Fischbacher) clearly recognize the counter-intuitive nature of the claim that evolution can sufficiently account for altruism”, TFAD almost shouted:

“No they don’t! ApoloJedi can quote an abstract, but not read it properly – it said “current gene-based theories” cannot explain, but it did not say evolution on the whole can’t account for it…All they said was that according to current gene-only evolutionary models, no theory sufficiently explains human altruism – hence why they believe the need for a co-evolutionary model that incorporates both genes and culture”

Gene-based theory IS the theory of evolution. Remember bullet points 2, 3, and 4 from the original post

There was nothing about culture, which TFAD now suddenly adds to the mix. TFAD never defines culture, but we can infer that he’s jumped down the Lamarkian rabbit hole of thinking that acquired characteristics can be passed on genetically. Lamarkism, the idea that a weightlifter will produce offspring with higher percentages of muscle or someone who pierces their ears will have offspring with pierced ears, is now generally dismissed, but there are rare exceptions. The theory of evolution is taught that beneficial heritable genetic traits persist while natural selection “weeds out” phenotypes that are unfit.

Moving on -> Many of you are familiar with the term “gaslighting“. TFAD attempts to gaslight the audience by questioning the reader’s understanding of reality. In the original post, I pointed out the redefinition of altruism made by Fehr/Fischbacher when in their definition of a new mysterious force they have defined as “Strong Reciprocity”, they talk about being rewarded for altruistic behavior “Reward? If there is a reward, it’s not altruism. Right from the beginning, they change the definition of altruism from something that is unselfish to appeal to the inherent selfishness”. But TFAD gaslights the reader by saying

“At no point do either of these definitons (sp) nor the SEP definition consider altruism as “doing something beneficial for no thought of reward””

When the very definition of altruism IS “Behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species”. When Fehr/Fischbacher introduce “reward”, they are not longer talking about altruism. But TFAD continues to say that selfish rewards and expecting “fair outcomes” are part of altruism, when we know in reality that altruism has nothing to do with selfishness or expecting fair outcomes. TFAD again tries to distract when he says

“I really don’t care about Merrian-Webster’s definition – I’d much rather use Stanford’s version because it is more academcially (sp) rigorous”

This reminds me of the objection from evolutionists that they have successfully refuted Michael Behe’s example of irreducible complexity in the standard mousetrap. In an analogy, Behe described the necessary components of the standard mousetrap (Model SM) as needing a base, spring, hammer, catch, and trigger all arranged in a very specific ingenious way that these pieces interact to kill mice. The analogy is that a blind/purposeless/atomic process (evolution) cannot produce the standard mousetrap (SM) that we see today, because it requires multiple interacting parts to be assembled in place with all proper tolerances, dimensions, materials, and initial conditions lest it not be preserved for lack of functionality. The evolutionists have said that there are mousetraps (not model SM, but model FF) that do not require the 5 interacting pieces. But that’s not Behe’s claim. Evolutionists have to account for what is seen, which is Model SM. Sure an intelligent objector can theorize Model FF that is designed to catch mice a different way, but Model SM (which is analogously seen today in complex interacting biological systems) is irreducibly complex. So, what TFAD has subtly done is propose a different definition of altruism (like Model FF) in an attempt to distract from evolution’s inability to explain real altruism (Model SM). And just like the evolutionist’s failed attempt to explain away irreducible complexity, TFAD’s attempt similarly fails.

In a last ditch effort to object to my questioning of evolution’s claimed abilities, TFAD distances himself from the very sources that he recommended. He posted a link from Google Scholar that he recommended I should analyze before questioning whether evolution could explain altruism, and Fehr/Fischbacher were 1st in the list.

“And you know why? Because Fehr & Fischbacher are economists with specialisations in human behaviour – not geneticists.”

Now that I’ve pressed back on his claims that evolution can explain altruism, it’s likely that he would not call Fehr/Fischbacher “experts” since they are just economists, even though he recommended them in the 1st place

While TFAD has been less than complimentary about creationist’s understanding of the theory of evolution, we now have to point out the TFAD does not understand the finer points of evolution

“Convergent evolution ain’t no mere assertion – it’s a demonstrable fact. Let’s think about it – if two separate primate species have overlapping characteristics and genetics, where do you think it’s pointing to?”

I had pointed out that the best that modern experiments can do when comparing common traits between widely disparate species would be to speculate that that it was the result of convergent evolution. Now convergent evolution is the description of the observation that two (or more) species that are not evolutionarily closely related have similar structures. An example would be wings. Birds, insects and bats have wings, but they are not closely related according to evolutionists, so evolutionists describe this marvel as convergent evolution. So, when TFAD says it’s demonstrable fact, it’s true that evolutionists have named an inexplicable observation as convergent evolution, but it doesn’t EXPLAIN anything. They could just have easily called it sorcery because those 2 terms have the same level of explanatory power – ZERO. TFAD thinks convergent evolution means “overlapping characteristics”, but as shown, it’s not overlapping traits from evolutionarily closely-related species. And it’s not a mechanism or a process. It’s just the assigned label of a mystery that’s devoid of explanation

Dawkins

Next TFAD takes aim at my analysis of Richard Dawkin’s book, The Selfish Gene. TFAD states:

“I’m curious as to why ApoloJedi chose The Selfish Gene instead of something like much more recent”

The Selfish Gene by RD is, according to the Royal Society, the most influential science book of all time. It has 4 editions, it’s written by the most well-known living evolutionist, and it’s sold over one million copies. The Guardian ranks it as the 10th best non-fiction book of all time. Why would I NOT choose to use one of the most popular science books written by one of the most popular science writers of all time in my article? If I had not, TFAD would have questioned why I DIDN’T use this popular and influential book. As noted in Part 1 of the Altruism Exchange, TFAD will have no end to the number of resources and books that I could have used. “Why not this one? Why not that one? Why not THOSE or THESE?!?!?” Ad infinitum

“Go tell Richard Dawkins that. He’ll be pleased a Creationist has been reading his books. But Dawkins is an expert in biology, not human psychology.”

Again with the “you’re not an expert” accusation. If nothing else, TFAD has shown that he’s the expert on who is NOT an expert. Well, maybe TFAD should go tell Richard Dawkins that despite all of the hours spent researching, writing, and publishing a book that attempts (and fails) to elucidate evolution’s ability to account for evolution, that he’s not an expert. Dawkins’ own words from the opening of his book tell us that he intended to write an account that explains clear examples of altruism via evolutionary mechanisms

Openstax Biology 2e

In his objection to the portion of my post that cited Openstax (the College Biology book), TFAD missed the whole point. In their chapter titled “Altruistic Behavior”, they gave examples and definitions of strong reciprocity and (like me) criticized the notion of a selfish gene being able to explain altruism. With the end of their examples, they proclaimed “Most of the behaviors described above do not seem to satisfy this definition (of altruism).” So they spent all that time trying to compose examples of why altruism is explained by evolution and then admitted, “but those aren’t TRULY altruistic”. And I agree. They were unable to give an accounting of observed altruism via evolutionary mechanisms. TFAD focuses instead on pulling the reader back to his preferred definition of altruism and opining that evolution is true.

TFAD: “Heritable traits that enhance one’s odds of survival – that sounds a heckuva lot like evolution to me”

Yes – heritable traits. But TFAD said that just after he quoted Openstax as saying “These instinctual behaviors may then be applied, in special circumstances, to other species, as long as it doesn’t lower the animal’s fitness.” But remember the definition of altruism? “behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species.” Astute readers will again see the raw contradiction…as I have been contending all along.

In the original article I said “In their first paragraph they invoke a sciency-sounding phrase, kin selection, as if merely naming an observation actually explains it…Kin selection like convergent evolution like strong reciprocity are terms that hide the explanation under the guise of science. People hear “kin selection” and assume, “well, it’s got a fancy name, so someone must have demonstrated that evolution is the only explanation for it.”” TFAD replies

“Got bad news for you, good sir – kin selection is an observed and documented scientific fact…Kin selection, strong reciprocity and convergent evolution are ALL documented phenomena in the scientific literature. Ignore it at your intellectual peril”

I never said kin selection wasn’t observed. I said kin selection doesn’t EXPLAIN altruism…or anything else. Like convergent evolution, kin selection is simply a label. It’s not an explanation. TFAD thinks that because the WhiteLabCoats have placed a label on something, that it has explanatory power, but AS I SAID in the original post, the label gives it no explanatory power.

TFAD put a lot of effort into his objections, and I appreciate the sharpening of thought and communication. But as shown, his objections never quite hit the core of the argument. His strong faith commitment to the theory of evolution prevented him from seeing the contradictions based on my internal critique of evolutionism, and his bias left my original contention completely intact that the theory of evolution cannot explain altruism.

The Altruism Exchange – Part 2

Photo by Greg on Pexels.com

Last week, in Part 1 we looked at the Tall Friendly Atheist Dad’s (TFAD) 1st response to my blog post of whether evolution can explain altruism or not. If you’ve not had a chance, I encourage you to read the original blog post in question, Can Evolution Explain Altruism? It defines evolution, altruism, and then analyzes the arguments of 3 evolutionary authorities, who claim to have explained why they think that the theory of evolution can indeed account for altruism. I’ll continue the pattern of referring to the Tall Friendly Atheist Dad as TFAD and his nitpicking as *NP* when he doesn’t actually address the arguments I’ve presented but just wants to be argumentative

Let’s see if Part 2 of TFAD’s objections have more teeth than Part 1. TFAD did not really appreciate the definition of evolution from the college biology textbook, Biology 2e, from OpenStax because he says

TFAD: “What piqued my interest here was that when I studied up on evolution, no-one ever mentioned anything to me about competition for limited resources”

To be clear, I never claimed to be analyzing what TFAD might or might not have been taught about evolution. It’s not my problem that he’s unfamiliar with the material, but I’m being very open as to what I am analyzing, and it’s NOT TFAD’s (lack of) understanding of evolution

But he’s focusing on the wrong details here. I’m clarifying the definition of the theory of evolution, not to disagree with those who teach it but to expose the inherent contradiction of saying that this theory can account for altruism. TFAD has fears that maybe I’m trying to sneak in some creationism when he says “or that you’re listening to the wrong people on the topic (evolution)”. Rather than critiquing what I wrote, he’s critiquing creationism in general, of which there is none in this article to critique. In American baseball terms, that’s a swing and a miss for TFAD.

TFAD did not approve of the amount of quoting that I did from the college textbook, because he opines:

TFAD: “I would have preferred if ApoloJedi quoted the whole text, including the first principle of natural selection, because to me, if you’re going to discuss a scientific principle – especially critically – you need to make sure you portray an accurate a picture as reasonable of what it is you’re criticising, including any representations from the source text.”

It might have been a fair objection, but those who read the original post see that I outlined the mechanism that TFAD thought I was missing (random mutations) several times. From my original post

For evolution to have explanatory power, there must be uncountable sequential individual heritable changes that are preserved solely by natural selection. Now Darwin had no idea about DNA or the unimaginable complexity of genetic code that is stored on DNA, but scientists after Darwin discovered the code of DNA which serves as the source of inheritance, the mutation of which supposedly provides for novel traits.

The mechanisms of evolution are natural selection acting on random mutations

I even highlighted the pertinent text in bold IN THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE. But we know he didn’t miss it, because he literally critiqued this paragraph in part 1 of his objections. So I can’t mark down this objections to nit picking as he ignored his previous objections and ignored the actual text that was included. It’s less than nit picking – it’s misleading

In my original post, I take 7 bullet points to summarize what is being taught as the grand theory of evolution when I write “Evolution can be verified by showing the gradual process of uncountable sequential individual heritable changes.”

TFAD again tries to distract from the original effort by simply being argumentative for argument’s sake when he tries to critique point 1 in my summary of evolution that “Evolution is unguided”:

TFAD: “However, without a higher purpose is a more suitable term than unguided

Again, this is a distinction without a difference – *NP*

TFAD: “However, if you wish to accept the Theistic Evolution hypothesis”

No, I have been very clear what I am critiquing. While I disagree with the theistic evolution hypothesis, I never claimed to be incorporating or critiquing any such rubbish. Why even bring it up? TFAD is again distracting from the target argument. Stay on target!

In point 2 of my summary I said “Evolution can be verified by showing the gradual process of uncountable sequential individual heritable changes.” And TFAD waxes eloquent in the next 6 paragraphs that I described the theory of evolution correctly

TFAD: “But we can, and have, demonstrated the overall sequence of gradual processes acting upon heritable changes…fossil record…phylogenetics…So yes, not only can evolution be verified by uncountable, sequential, individual and heritable changes – evolution HAS been verified by analysing the uncountable, sequential, individual heritable changes”

Yes, this is what evolutionists teach. What we will NOT see from the 3 sources that I critique in the original post is a “sequence of gradual processes acting upon heritable changes…fossil record…phylogenetics” that produces altruism, where before it did not exist. What I showed in my exposure of the sources is that they DID NOT reference the fossil record or phylogenetics to support their case that evolution can explain altruism. So, while TFAD blindly believes the theory of evolution to be true because of his great faith in the powers of nature and the sermons of the white lab coats, when skeptically analyzed, his faith and those of his fellow God-deniers is unwarranted

Again from my summary of evolution, “The mechanisms of evolution are natural selection acting on random mutations“, TFAD has a critique:

TFAD: “Firstly, while there is an element of randomness to evolution, but it is more of a feedback loop rather than something like lottery balls or coin tosses”

Random mutations are not feedback loops or lottery balls or coin tosses. Random mutations as have been shown by research are truly random, and trying to define them as feedback loops tries to dilute the enormous problem of constructing complex irreducible systems 1 step at a time with no foresight or purpose. My statement is a SUMMARY of what evolutionists teach. The neo-darwinian synthesis embraces the notion that evolution’s mechanisms are natural selection acting on random mutations. This is not disputed. TFAD is nitpicking *NP*

TFAD: “Secondly, it could be argued that natural selection doesn’t drive the changes.”

“Drive” is his word…not mine. Nobody (except TFAD) disagrees that the neo-darwinian synthesis is a combination of natural selection acting on random mutations. Again, TFAD mistakes this bullet point summary for a graduate level course on natural selection. More *NP*

TFAD: “Thirdly, those ‘random mutations’ could be one of a handful of observed mechanisms for genetic variation. Single nucleotide polymorphisms, insertions/deletions, polyploidy, genomic duplication, frameshift mutations, endogenous retroviruses and more.”

All of these supplemental mechanisms rely originally upon random mutations to have constructed genetic code for there to have even been something to polymorphize, insert, delete, duplicate or frameshift. So, while these minor mechanisms have been observed, they have not been observed to create any new information. But again, this is not the focus of the analysis. While I do understand the lure for TFAD to attack my perceived lack of knowledge, he again fails to stay on target with his response.

Another bullet-point from my summary of evolution was “Genetics determines traits, behaviors, and reproduction”

In response TFAD had this to say: “But again, it’s not the whole story…So the most reasonable way of putting it is to say that genetics has an INFLUENCE on traits”

Again, this is the very definition of nit-picking. He says it’s not the whole story, but a summary is not expected to be the whole story. Might TFAD be more assuaged had I said “primary influence” rather than determines? How large a change is it to say primary influence rather than determines? Maybe a nit and a half? *NP*

In summary point 5, I said “Organisms that are the most fit (greatest fitness) in their environment persist to pass their genes to subsequent generations”. TFAD inadvertently confirmed that he too believes my original skepticism of a theory of fitness being able to explain altruism

TFAD: “You don’t have to be the most fit – you just need to be somewhat fit to the point that the environment doesn’t actively work against your existence…So it’s not the case that you need to be so strong that you’re selected for – you just need to not be so weak as to be selected against”

Oooops. Altruism is by definition “behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species.” Yet Christians have been building hospitals and caring for those, who would otherwise be selected against for millennia. Many people build kennels and nature centers and nature preserves…not because they consistently believe in evolution’s culling of the weak but because they know there is beauty in caring for the weak as God has done for us

In point 6 of my summary TFAD proclaims that I am correct in my definition of fitness, so we’ll move on to his critique of bullet point 7, in which I said “Evolution’s sole drive is to reproduce genetic material in a competition for limited resources”. This is a KEY point in the question of whether evolution can explain altruism. Astute readers will see the incompatibility between forces that are driven by the need to reproduce and a behavior (altruism) that has zero or negative benefits in helping one to reproduce. In his critique, TFAD declares

“Half-right. Evolution’s driving factor is reproduction and survival, but there doesn’t need to be competition for limited resources for evolution to work. Evolution also works when plenty of resources are available as well.”

We’ll chalk this up to more nit-picking because he’s majoring on the minors again. TFAD admitted to the key element of the summary (reproduction), but based on his own personal definition of evolution, he had to jab that he feels the creationist doesn’t understand (resources). As in Part 1 of the rebuttal, I’ll remind everyone again that I’m not using TFAD’s personal definition of evolution, as I have been very clear about which definition I am using (the one from a University-level text book) to write the blog post

The remainder of TFAD’s Part 2 response consists of his dislike of my use of the terms evolutionist and evolutionism. Being aware of the dominant paradigm and nearly complete immersion by academic elites into the cult of Darwinism is good for readers to have knowledge. However, I’m content to let him have his say on those items without rebuttal since, while they are related to the discussion, they are not critically necessary to determine whether or not the theory of evolution can explain altruism…which we have all seen that it cannot

You can look forward to my rebuttal of Part 3 of TFAD’s objections soon.

The Altruism Exchange 1

I suppose I should be honored that my small blog has relevance enough to merit a response to the arguments that I have presented. But a FOUR-part response with thousands of words to one of my posts deserves kudos, if for nothing else than the amount of time spent, to the Tall Friendly Atheist Dad (TFAD)

If you’ve not had a chance, I encourage you to read the blog post in question, Can Evolution Explain Altruism? Its defines evolution, altruism, and then analyzes the arguments of 3 evolutionary authorities, who claim to have explained why they think that the theory of evolution can indeed account for altruism

TFAD begins with some posturing and attempts a “poisoning of the well” in his opening of part 1, and perhaps I’ll circle back at the end of this response to address those, but let’s get right into the meat of the argument – Can Evolution Explain Altruism?

Definitions are important. I defined altruism using two sources that both defined altruism the same way.

TFAD: “I prefer Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s definition.”

TFAD decided he didn’t like those definitions and thrust his own definition into the fray, and in the end, he has made a distinction without a difference. We can all agree that altruism is unselfish behavior that benefits another person or another creature without any expectation of personal benefit. I gave examples in my original blog post, which would fit with the definition that I gave and that TFAD gave

At this point, I need to jump ahead in the discussion just a little, because in our conversations I noted that some of the objections the TFAD gives are nitpicking and distractions. He took “umbrage” to my identification of many of his objections as such. His addition of an additional definition of altruism is nitpicking. I’ll denote future examples of nitpicking with *NP* moving forward

I must stress the importance of the following points, because the entire argument hinges on it, but TFAD strays from the point throughout his 4 posts. They are basic to this discussion, and other considerations are distractions:

  • The theory of evolution is taught as if its mechanisms can explain everything (except its origin) about life
  • Altruistic behavior has been observed and requires a consistent explanation via evolutionary mechanisms
  • When I asked how does evolution explain altruistic behavior? TFAD posted a link to “scientific” papers that he felt gave answers to my question. I took the top result and analyzed it. This is significant, because in part 4 of his objections, TFAD tries to distance himself from the scientific papers that he himself recommended as sufficient.
  • My analysis of these three evolutionary sources-of-explanations is based on the assumptions and definitions of the evolutionists. While I note my beliefs at the beginning, I am not bringing my own assumptions into the analysis of their work. Their works need to be able to stand or fall on their own – and as I have shown, by their own assumptions, they fail miserably at trying to explain observations of altruistic behavior via evolutionary mechanisms
  • When TFAD tries to show how creationism is wrong, he is distracting from the argument
  • When TFAD tries to attack me or my lack-of-credentials, he is distracting from the argument

Back to the discussion. I noted in my original post that “altruism is seen in ant and bee colonies”

TFAD replies: “however you want to define altruism, you then have to admit that altruism is not a behaviour seen only in humans, which means that the mechanism for how altruism developed in humans is just as applicable to how it developed in non-human mammals”

Possibly, unless it is another asserted example of “Convergent Evolution”. TFAD’s response has absolutely nothing to do with this post. Nobody assumes that humans evolved from bees or lions. Nobody says altruism doesn’t exist in other creatures. My question from the beginning is “Can evolution explain altruism?” So, for TFAD to say as a critique that some mysterious/unknown mechanism (which nobody has quantified or elucidated) could be the same in humans as in other animals is pointless. Regardless, it’s the explanation that has been given by evolutionists that I am critiquing. So, TFAD is either distracting from the main point or does not understand evolution

TFAD: “But if we ignore the scientific research and look to an Intelligent Design/Creation model”

Distraction. I’m not proposing a different model in this post

TFAD: “One of Intelligent Design’s fatal flaws…”

Another distraction. I’m not proposing a different model in this post. Stay on target!

TFAD: “not only has evolution been established as the primary driving factor behind biodiversity, but it also helps explain how altruism is found mostly in mammals, in particular social primate mammals, but only in a handful of other species – in short, it simply wasn’t a trait that was developed and inherited across the animal kingdom”

Interesting assertion, but again his lack of explanation is notable especially since he claims “it helps explain” without giving an ACTUAL explanation. Another note to TFAD, I am not critiquing your assertions here. I am critiquing the specific “explanations” presented by evolutionary authorities.

TFAD: “The detailed answer lies in genetics, which is not my field, but feel free to read a book literally titled The Genetics Of Altruism if you want the granular detail”

It’s doubtful that he has read it, but I’m not opposed to analyzing that book too. Undoubtedly, its “explanations” will be similarly impotent and full of assumptions. It’s available for the bargain price of $60 US. If someone wants to send it to me, I’ll be happy to expose its contents as empty as well. In the end, I made known the authorities that I was analyzing, one of which was the principle suggestion from TFAD. NOW, he expects me to analyze another source. Doubtless, were I to analyze this authority and 5000 other sources that claim to have the answer, it would *never* be enough. He would always be able to say “Well, have you analyzed THIS one? This one? This one? AHA!”

The paragraph that begins with “This is not too far off the mark…” is almost completely nitpicking.

*NP*

Back to my comments from the original post “For evolution to have explanatory power, there must be uncountable sequential individual heritable changes that are preserved solely by natural selection”

TFAD replies “Firstly, natural selection isn’t the only mechanism proposed”

…but no explanation of additional mechanisms is proposed by either Darwin or TFAD

*NP*

TFAD continues: “evolution is a process that happens to populations, not individuals

It appeared to TFAD that I was contending that a single individual has to survive while all other individuals perish, when the emphasis is on the change/trait. This should have been clear to TFAD, because this is not what I was contending as my wording is clear

*NP*

TFAD persists: “Thirdly, it is not quite uncountable”

The phrase that TFAD is concerned about is my paraphrase of Darwin’s famous line “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down”. Online thesaurus confirms that uncountable is indeed a synonym of numerous. Therefore *NP*

TFAD: “This is almost correct. If ApoloJedi took out the word supposedly in the last sentence”

*NP*

In my original article I wrote: “the mutation of which supposedly provides for novel traits”

TFAD critiqued: “But saying ‘supposedly provide for novel traits’ is, again, shows that he is either unaware of the research, or is discarding it because of theological bias to do with the subject matter”

This is beyond the scope of critique for this particular blog post, but I’ll be happy to read and analyze any peer-reviewed paper that he thinks is airtight evidence of random mutation and natural selection producing in a creature novel traits that did not exist in its supposed directly previous ancestor. TFAD should be aware that antibiotic resistant bacteria, sickle-cell anemia, wingless beetles on windy islands and nylon-eating bacteria are not examples of evolution-producing-novel-traits as has been shown and explained time and again. Those well-worn examples are evidence of BROKEN (less-functional & loss-of-information) proteins providing a survival advantage in constricted environment. It would be the same as saying that if your survival depended on avoiding being handcuffed, those without hands would have a survival advantage. But you would never be able to produce highly dextrous pianists with a population of handless humans. In the same way, the mechanisms of evolution cannot have not demonstrated the ability to turn a beetle into a bird by removing its wings. The only “evidence” for such a fable is in assumptions and artwork

TFAD has been known to say (in his awesome Australian accent) “Evolution is the best working explanation we have for the diversity of life on earth today”. But remember, I’m NOT critiquing TFAD’s personal definition of evolution. For use in this blog post I’ve been open about the definition of evolution I’ve used from Charles Darwin, Wikipedia, OpenStax college textbook, and RationalWiki (none of those are bastions of creationist thought). Evolution must be able to EXPLAIN all of life: functionality, traits, reproduction, metabolism, predation, camouflage, instinct, migration, hibernation…and altruism. But as has been shown, evolution’s proponents are devoid of demonstrable evidence showing that the mechanisms of the theory of evolution can explain altruism.

TFAD continues his response to my article in part 2, and I answer his responses here

But for those who want to stick around while I circle back and answer a few of the more petty elements in his 1st response, see below

TFAD: “I interact with a lot on Twitter who goes by the handle of @Apolojedi_, so handled because he is an apologist who finds your lack of faith disturbing. (Apologist Jedi – get it? But since it was Darth Vader who said “I find your lack of faith disturbing”, his handle should actually be ApoloSith)”

I’ve answered this little dig directly to him before, but he seems to have forgotten or ignored it. It’s just a simply mash up of apologetics and Jedi (one who is patient and wise). We must remember that Star Wars is the story of the redemption of Anakin Skywalker. Vader, once a Jedi and turned to the dark side, heroically gave his life to save his son, Luke. In the end of this story, he was redeemed and earned the (fictional) “after life” with Obi-Wann and Yoda as a Jedi.

Now naturalists have no consistent place in their worldview for morality, sin, or redemption. They do try to taxidermy the idea of secular humanism or moral realism into a cosmos of particles, but these ideas are in direct conflict with their base assumption of naturalism. So, it is no surprise to me that TFAD would not resolve the redemption of Anakin Skywalker as a Jedi for my handle as there is no logical categorization for redemption in the mind of the naturalist.

TFAD: “the core skill of Pre-Suppositionalists is uncritically assuming that they’re correct, then dismissing atheists because they are apparently self-deceived fools who can’t even know for sure if the sky is blue”

This is not true. I have corrected TFAD’s mischaracterizations many times. He remains in error despite my attempts to help him.

TFAD: “I would also add that because he is a Biblically-Literal Creationist, I feel that he feels that he is theologically-obliged to not accept or understand evolution* no different than the standard Creationist tropes of it, then to attack that Creationist straw-man of evolution as if he is criticising evolution as actually understood in the scientific literature”

The accusation from TFAD is that I do not understand evolution, but in our exchanges, he’s never been able to articulate exactly what it is about evolution that I do not understand. He’s simply making an unwarranted assertion. I have taken the definition of evolution from the leading prevaricators of the theory, and I have demonstrated more than sufficiently a working knowledge of the theory. TFAD assumes that since I find the theory of evolution to be absurd, then I must not understand it. It’s like Stalin saying, “You just don’t understand communism if you don’t accept it.” Rubbish. It’s because I understand both the theory of evolution and communism that I reject them. TFAD also has his own private definition, that we talked about just above, and I understand that one too. Neither of which can sufficiently account for altruism. Secondly, I have corrected TFAD on this point – I am not a biblical literalist. I am a biblical contextualist. The mischaracterization of a biblical literalist is easy to bludgeon because in the view of the atheist, a wooden, literal interpretation of scripture must be adhered to in all reading of the Bible despite the context, genre, or overarching theme. So after purposefully misinterpreting my position in an attempt to make it easier to defeat, TFAD subtly poisons the well by essentially saying that “ApoloJedi is unqualified to criticize anyone wearing a white lab coat…or anyone who accepts evolution because of things he accepts.”

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

TFAD: “All of this is in stark contrast to myself”

After setting up and bludgeoning the strawman, TFAD polishes his own image as pure and knowledgeable. At least he’s friendly and very tall.

TFAD: “Accepting the theory of evolution just means that I acknowledge what I regard to be the evidentially unescapable (sp) fact that the species homo sapien is a member of the wider primate family (which itself is the result of a long line of forebears who are now extinct) as well as the fact that all organisms on earth are inherently related”

Evidentially inescapable? As noted before, I do not regard artwork or assumptions as evidence. When what gets put forward as evidence of the Grand Theory of Evolution is critically analyzed rather than blindly assimilated, the “evidence” is exposed as impotent artwork and assumption

After analyzing the “objections” from TFAD from the initial post, we see that nothing substantial has been produced. Mostly picking at nits and distractions. In my next blog post, we’ll see if TFAD’s Part 2 can provide something with more teeth

Can Evolution Account for Reason?

Stock Photo from Pexels.com

There are many online claims about the power of evolution to create new biological traits. Some evolutionists have speculated that evolution can account for altruism, but I exposed the deficiency in the “explanations” here. And while evolutionists claim that “nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution”, they have swept under the rug evolution’s inability to explain biological software.

This week, I asked a God-denier to explain how “reasoning” could be explained via natural causes. This God-denier posted a link which was supposed to provide evidence and confirmation that evolution can explain the origins of reasoning. Bing the intrepid ApoloJedi that I am, I read through the contents of the article and have analyzed it to see if it could make good on its claims. Of note, I regard this article to be poorly formatted and absent of any explanatory power, so I expect there will be a future blog post entitled “Can Evolution Explain Reason – Part 2?” when a subsequent God-denier doubtlessly posts another wild assertion that naturalistic causes can explain the origins of reasoning.

The article in question has been cited 10 times and accessed over 1000 times and much of it is hidden behind a paywall (remaining unanalyzed). There are 30 notes organized in a list. In the analysis I quote the pertinent piece from the note above in Italics and my comment below each is in Bold. Without further delay, here’s the analysis

Abstract:
I conjecture that reasoning evolved primarily because it helped social hominins more readily and fully align their intentions
Conjecture indeed

The Primary Naturalist Assumptions include purposelessness and amorality
  1. “first article”
    Hidden (hidden like evidence for evolution) behind a pay wall
  2. “purpose of reasoning”
    Purpose/teleology is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  3. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  4. “argumentative posturing”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  5. “moral emotions…loyalty, gratitude, sympathy”
    Morality is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  6. “Imagine…reasons”
    Imagine indeed AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  7. “likely”
    Not evidence AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  8. “those with a preference for going right will often capitulate by joining the majority”
    This very clearly shows the absence of reason AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  9. “The odds of surviving might be enhanced, for example, by keeping mum about a fruit tree discovered while scouting”
    While evolutionists crone about how empathy drive social advancements, this note is literally contrary to that assumption AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
    Also, in conflict with Note 14
  10. “team agency” & “team reasoning” & “gestational reasoning” & “group’s collective intent”
    Purpose/teleology is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  11. “giving of reasons counts as a kind of reasoning”
    Circular. Tautology. Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  12. “My claim here is that the faculty of reason played—and continues to play—a critical role”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  13. “By calling manipulative reasoning…”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  14. “collaborative reasoning” & “When reasoning together”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
    Also, in conflict with Note 9
  15. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  16. “may have been made possible by the prior emergence of basic reasoning aptitudes. The claim is conjectural, but worth further exploration”
    Conjecture indeed AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  17. “it is not incorrect to speak of intention alignment as the primary utility or purpose of reasoning”
    Pragmatism is insufficient AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  18. “I take it up presently”
    It IS an important question AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  19. ” ‘mind writing’ involves intentional or deliberate alteration”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  20. “The ethical implications of IAM are significant, and well worth exploring”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  21. Another article behind a paywall, but the abstract does not explain the origins of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  22. “if we could be sure that a bee’s nervous system supported something properly described as a mind”
    Humans did not evolve from bees AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  23. “complex social practice built atop basic reason-giving propensities”
    Difficulties with the naturalistic origins brought up AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  24. Another article behind a paywall, but the abstract does not explain the origins of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  25. “my aim here is not to decide the question, but make a preliminary case that IAM belongs in the discussion”
    An introduction to a hypothesis AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  26. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  27. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  28. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  29. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  30. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources

As you can clearly see, this linked article has given us no explanation for the naturalistic origin of reasoning via evolutionary forces. We did see some internal contradictions, and it was strong on assertions, but ended up be short on both evidence and justification

Disclaimer: Because God has revealed in his eternal Word that He has is the Source of reasoning, we know that the answer to the question “Can Evolution Explain Reason?” is most assuredly no. But as has been the case with other posts in this series, I have taken the claims of the naturalists and analyzed them within their own worldview, to see if their claims are valid. And just like the other posts, their claims are shown to be severely lacking.

Can Evolution Explain Software? 2.0

The guys at Stuff You Should Know Podcast released a recent episode called Dragons: As Real as Mermaids. They always have interesting topics, and I thought this episode would be a good topic for listening during a lunchtime walk around the neighborhood with the family dog, Diego

Following is a near-quote from one of the hosts. If you don’t like that “near-quote” qualification, feel free to listen to the podcast, put in what you think I was missing, and quibble at the edges of this presentation rather than bringing an argument against the REAL substance of this article, but your protestations will be swept aside as nitpicking.

Humans evolved and primates evolved with the fear of 3 predators basically: snakes, big cats & eagles. It sorta makes sense that every culture sorta has a dragon myth because you might combine the 3 scariest things into 1 super scary thing: a dragon….David Jones: His premise is that we have these ancient fears of these things & as we evolved & became humans we told each other stories, these things combined into this 1 big mythological monster which is basically the sum of our most primal fears

Having recently completed a post entitled Can Evolution Explain Software? that quote above left me with even MORE questions about a process that is claimed to be able to explain all of biology and that nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.

  • What evolutionary mechanism produces heritable code for “primal fears” and “learned behaviors”?
  • What is the proof of this mechanism?

A note about proof – Sufficient proof would be:

  1. DNA and/or epigenetic code in a creature that does not have fear of snakes, big cats, and eagles
  2. DNA and/or epigenetic code in a creature that is an immediate descendant of the creature above that does have fear of snakes, big cats, and eagles
  3. Comparison of the DNA/epigenetic code that is quantifiable
  4. Repeatable proof of the mechanism that produces the quantifiable changes to the heritable material
  5. Repeat for as many creatures as possible to avoid the idea of a one-time miracle. This will validate a patterned process in nature.

As always, the disclaimer: This site maintains the presupposition that God is the Creator and that revelation in creation, in the Bible, and through the incarnation are the only sufficient justifications for all of reality. Because God revealed in the Bible that animals (including the code for their behavior “software” was preprogrammed by the Almighty Engineer) are a product of his direct creation according to their kinds. God’s revelation is in direct conflict with the claims made by evolutionists that gradual and rare accumulation of information through a process of death and suffering (evolution) prior to the sin of mankind are false. But we (as Christian apologists) are encouraged to “Answer the fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” Proverbs 26:5. Therefore, in the following paragraphs, I will do a very brief skeptical analysis of the claims of the evolutionist in conjuring up the answers to the questions above

As noted above, the podcast hosts got much of their opening thoughts from an author named David Jones. Following the sourced and linked materials to this wiki page only raises more questions and inconsistencies. Words & phrases like “claims”, “argues”, “hypothesis”, “proposes”, “suggests”, “lack of evidence” and “it cannot be demonstrated that the fears of ancestral hominids are coded in the human brain” litter the article. But perhaps the links included within the article will shed more light on the claims of the evolutionists…

In the wiki page for instinct, we find only hypotheses and post hoc fallacies attempted explanations. As we continue in the chain of sources to find the elusive mechanism and proof, I followed the link to Genetic Memory

This wiki page left us with this gem:

It is based on the idea that common experiences of a species become incorporated into its genetic code, not by a Lamarckian process that encodes specific memories but by a much vaguer tendency to encode a readiness to respond in certain ways to certain stimuli

No explanation. No mechanism. No proof. Just a big “vaguer” claim. Maybe the included link to Epigenetics would solve the mystery

Nothing here, except the realization that (at best) epigenetics has control over only physiological phenotypic traits. They also seem unaware the epigenetics eviscerated evolutionary theory when it was discovered a few years ago. Might the link to Behavioral Genetics answer our questions?

Here we find some correlations between some behaviors and epigenetic markers, but no mechanisms or proofs. Surely, THIS next one is the one!!!


Evolutionary Neuroscience! That sounds like a solution to most any problem. But…nothing to see here either except:

  • “the evolution & function of the human cerebral cortex is still shrouded in mystery”
  • “the organization of the brain cannot be ascertained only by analyzing fossilized skulls”
  • “Visual cues & motoric pathways developed millions of years earlier in our evolution”

They’ve inadvertently “hidden” their inability to answer with the vague and ambiguous terms: “developed” “millions of years ago” and “evolution”. Large on claims. Short on substance

Clearly, this exercise was a brief introduction into the murky waters of testing the claims of the evolutionists. But a pattern is emerging – Keep digging because SURELY SOMEONE has this whole thing figured out. SURELY someone has ironclad proof of the claims that at one point, there was no coded information for primal fears in creatures…and then there WAS coded information for primal fears within creatures. And this heritable information was produced by some naturalistic mechanism. Right?

I predict that one kind lazy evolutionist will post a reply to this article saying “You didn’t research deep enough, [insert relevant epithet]”

The other kind of lazy evolutionist will say, “just because evolution doesn’t have the answer to your questions today, doesn’t mean your preferred deity did it.”

To which I would reply, then why do you propose that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”? And I’ve already told you that my God did it…I’m just showing you why your naturalistic “deity” (evolution) is short on actual answers.

A more robust evolutionist will post a peer reviewed article behind a paywall and say “See, proof” without going into details or revealing the answers to the questions…and once actually read, that article will be devoid of the answers requested

A last brand of evolutionist might say, “but some Christians believe in evolution. Are they wrong too.”

To which I would reply, why would a Christian espouse a godless mechanism that invokes death & suffering for biology in place of the miracle that God ACTUALLY revealed?

God is worthy of praise because He is good. We can clearly see his eternal power and divine nature in what He has made, and because we can trust what He has revealed about the past – we can trust Him with our future!

Can Evolution Explain Software?

Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels.com

Bear with me as I build the framework for my analogy in these 1st two short paragraphs.

You may or may not be familiar with the way computers work. Computers have both hardware and software. The part of the computer that you can touch (keyboard/mouse/printer), see (monitor), and hear (speakers) is referred to as the hardware. The hardware also includes the internal workings of the computer like the CPU, the memory/RAM, the motherboard, and power supply. Computers don’t work without software. Software is the code (the instructions) for making the computer work. Sometimes, the software is referred to as programs/drivers and/or applications (apps). Programs are written by software engineers with the purpose of controlling the hardware to do very specific tasks.

My daily job involves writing and working with software for computers. At my place of employment, there’s a pretty sharp distinction between the hardware and software departments. Those who work with hardware don’t do much with the software and visa-versa. There are some computer geniuses who are very skilled at working with both hardware and software.

All analogies eventually break down, but there’s a reasonable comparison in the biological realm with the hardware of living things being the part of the creature that is made of cells (skin, bones, organs, blood, hair, and muscles). The software of biology might be best described as the instructions that cause the organs, muscles, and systems to perform their specific purpose.

Evolutionists have proposed an explanation for the hardware of biological life. Now I strongly disagree with their explanation that natural selection has acted on random mutations to form all of life is a legitimate explanation, but for purposes of this article we’ll let the assumption that accidental accumulations of mutations could actually form a wing, flying muscles, attachment points for a wing, corresponding tendons, ligaments, bones (specifically wishbone) or symmetrical & corresponding wing.

How do evolutionists propose to solve the huge problem of the necessary software needed to control any newly evolved hardware traits like wings? As computer scientists are finding as they write software to control biomimetics hardware, it takes intelligent coding to control the hardware that will produce purposeful movements.

Take the human hand for instance; it has the sensitivity control to maneuver & insert a soft contact lens…

…and the human hand is also capable of gripping and lifting 500 pounds of steel

ApoloJedi lifting 500 pounds of steel with the force…of his back/hamstring muscles

So, can evolution explain the software of biology? As we reported in the article, Can Evolution Explain Altruism? evolution is described as:

The unguided process of natural selection acting on random mutations through numerous, slight, successive modifications intended to perpetuate genetic material in the competition for limited resources. And the process of evolution is taught has having been responsible for producing all of the various/complex species of ALL life for all time from a single common ancestor. Natural selection preserves functional traits that maintain/increase fitness and destroys creatures that are unfit in a particular environment. Simultaneous complimentary mutations of both the hardware (bones/muscle/organ/skin) and the software (control code for corresponding hardware) would be necessary for natural selection to preserve both the hardware and software. This is important because if just the hardware were to evolve without the software, then natural selection would not preserve it. And if the control code for non-existent hardware were to evolve, then natural selection could not preserve it since it had no purpose.

A hypothetical scenario might go something like this: a wingless insect has a mutation that produces a proto-wing appendage (hardware). To make the proto-wing appendage (PWA) useful for flying, it must produce (within the population) a reproductive advantage such that those with the mutation produce more offspring than those without the mutation. If the appendage does not have corresponding control code (software) that controls the PWA (for future flight), then the mutation that produces the PWA will not be preserved through natural selection. It has been proposed by evolutionists that a PWA might produce some other reproductive advantage (other than flight), so a PWA need not immediately provide flight in order to be preserved. Perhaps the PWA was useful for ground locomotion, digging, or sensing changes in barometric pressure (or some-such other fable). This only complicates the problem for the evolutionist. Because now, the PWA must have corresponding control code (software) that enables the PWA (hardware) to be useful for ground locomotion, digging, or sensing changes in barometric pressure – and then as the PWA gradually becomes an instrument for flying, the controlling code must simultaneously be COMPLETELY rewritten randomly re-aggregated to move the newly-evolved winged appendage as an instrument of flight.

For those who claim that evolution provides a sufficient explanation for biological software, they need to demonstrate (not assume) all of the following

  • An unguided process that can produce coded information through the accumulation of random mutations
  • Simultaneous complimentary mutations of controlling code (software) for biological traits (hardware).
  • Step by step preservation of controlling code (software) with step by step growth of biological traits (hardware). A sufficient demonstration of this process would be to take a species of beetle like Allomyrina dichotoma and reverse engineer…I mean track it’s evolution in reverse to it’s last common ancestor with the flightless Bristletail bug (Leposma saccharina). This reverse evolution should include the instruction set of both the hardware and software changes of this hypothetical common ancestor to show the numerous, small, successive modifications that allow the Rhinoceros Beetle to fly. Feel free to use a very amazing tool that shows assumed common ancestry. NOTE: While the onezoom tool is amazing, it is only good for the leaf nodes and is devoid of information on the common ancestors – therefore, it is just as much evidence of the common Designer.
  • For the intrepid evolutionist, demonstrating the evolution of software to control, not just a single trait, but an entire system like the digestive system would be an above average quest.
  • For the genius-level evolutionist, demonstrating the evolution of software to control, not just a single system, but an entire organism complete with interdependent systems (like how the digestive system provides energy for the circulatory system & muscular system while the respiratory system provides oxygen for the digestive system & muscular system to properly convert mass to energy and the muscular system provides locomotion to bring mass into the digestive system…) would go a long ways toward confirming the theory of evolution rather than just assuming it.

Doubtless, in their effort to answer the problems raised in this article, some evolutionists will link to articles thinking they have done everything to sufficiently demonstrate the ability of evolution to explain the software of biology. Inevitably, the headline of the article they link will over-commit, and the article itself will under-perform.

And to be clear, this blog regards presuppositional apologetics as the correct & biblical way to share the gospel of Jesus. So, since evolution is against God’s revealed word, there is NO sufficient evolutionary explanation for software. God is the author of both biological traits (hardware) and the corresponding control code (software). Because the Great Engineer put all life together for a purpose, there is a fascinating and God-glorifying science called biology. Human scientists can de-construct God’s amazing creatures with purpose and expectation of learning. Were the theory of evolution true, purpose would be meaningless and discovery fruitless. Therefore, this article is meant to expose the emptiness of the principle pillar of naturalistic worldviews.

Because we can trust God’s revelation about the past, we can trust Him with his revelation about the future.

NOTES: This blog post has its origin in a book titled Nature’s IQ by Hornyanszky/Tasi. In their book, they raise valid/irrefutable questions regarding the teaching of the Grand Theory of Evolution as having any real explanatory power for behaviors/instincts. I really enjoyed the book but was disappointed to get to the end and discover their conclusion to be Hinduism.

However, with a correct understanding that only the God of the Bible can sufficiently ground knowledge, logic, science, beauty, math, induction, and morality one cannot help but to cry out to God for the gift of repentance and abundant life

I’m an Anaturalist

How many of us have heard the claim from naturalists: “Science says that all of reality can be accounted for by natural explanations” ?

Besides the fact that their claim is the fallacy of reification, I’m skeptical. Actually, I’m more than skeptical; I’m an anaturalist

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

An anaturalist doesn’t make any positive claims; we simply lack a believe that natural forces can account for purpose, space, time, matter, logic, math, beauty, truth, induction, information, magnetism, nuclear forces, reason, stars, planets, comets, water, life, DNA code, biological sex, biological reproduction, consciousness, minds, morality, justice, hope, love, altruism or the scientific method.

Less broadly, anaturalism is a rejection of the belief that “nature-done-it”. Those who have faith that nature can generate, produce, cause-to-emerge, and substantiate foundational elements of reality can do that if they want, but let’s be honest…don’t call it science. It’s the religion of naturalism and lacks evidence

An anaturalist simply recognizes the utter lack of evidence that nature produced everything. It’s been said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“, so if you’ve got an extraordinary demonstration that nature can produce:

…then feel free to present it. Until then, anaturalism is the only rational position. For those naturalists and God-deniers who claim that “nature has no need of the Christian God to explain all of reality”, then the burden of proof lies not on the anaturalist to disprove the power of nature but on the naturalist to provide a rationale for naturalism.

Even worse for the naturalist and God-denier, there is strong empirical support for anaturalism

Can Evolution Explain Altruism?

It’s my hobby to interact with people and talk about my Savior, Jesus. He’s the Creator (Col 1:16) and the promised Messiah (Gen 3:15.) Despite my multitude of sins and those of all repentant sinners (John 3:16), He demonstrated his great love (Rom 4:8) by taking on the full wrath of the Father to atone for wickedness (Rom 3:25)

Inevitably in some of those conversations, skeptics bring up evolution as a reason not to repent. The conversation sometimes includes this phrase:

There’s no need for your sky daddy. Evolution explains everything without him

I’m with Greg Bahnsen when he says that evolution can’t explain ANYTHING. But one of the questions I’ve asked God-deniers about evolution’s explanatory power is “How is altruism consistent with evolutionism? How does evolution explain altruistic behavior?”

NOTE: As a blog that uses the presuppositional method to honor God’s revelation and expose the irrational nature of all philosophies that attempt to derive knowledge, logic, morality or anything else without God, you may wonder why I’m asking this evidential question. What follows will be the application of Proverbs 26:5. I will enter into the worldview of the God-denier to show that his OWN explanations are full of unjustified assertions and catastrophic contradictions

This is apparently a question that triggers God-deniers, because when I post that question on social media, there are all kinds of caustic and derogatory remarks about my lack of intelligence, my lack of education, and their desire that I be quiet. Once in a while a skeptic will try to answer. Here’s a recent answer I got to the question “Why do evolutionists think altruism is beneficial (in this case public education)”

Alturism (sp) can improve the survival rate of the herd making it easier for individuals to thrive. Education improves the herd so ensuring a well educated public can improve individual life

What is Altruism?

Wikipedia defines altruism as “Altruism is the principle and moral practice of concern for happiness of other human beings or animals, resulting in a quality of life both material and spiritual.”

Merriam-Webster tells us that altruism is “behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species”

I will reference these definitions later in the post, so prepare to be pointed back here for a reminder of these foundational definitions. We all recognize altruism in humans when people are selfless. Altruism is on display when a person gives money to the homeless and when a person helps at the scene of an accident and when a person helps build houses on a mission trip. In those interactions, there is no benefit and may even be sacrificial on the part of the giver. Sometimes, altruism is seen in ant and bee colonies.

What is evolution?

In 1859 Charles Darwin released one of the most influential books of all time, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection for the Preservation of the Favored Races. In it, he lays out a case for a mechanism known as natural selection, which he says

Natural Selection is the principle by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved

Darwin reveals his biological theory that attempts to explain the origin of the great diversity of life. This theory requires that uncountable sequential individual heritable changes be preserved by natural selection for evolution to have veracity. He said

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.

For evolution to have explanatory power, there must be uncountable sequential individual heritable changes that are preserved solely by natural selection. Now Darwin had no idea about DNA or the unimaginable complexity of genetic code that is stored on DNA, but scientists after Darwin discovered the code of DNA which serves as the source of inheritance, the mutation of which supposedly provides for novel traits.

Let’s analyze what is currently being taught as evolution before we go forward. From OpenStax college textbook Biology 2e p. 24

The source of this diversity (tremendous diversity of life on earth) is evolution, the process of gradual change during which new species arise from older species. A Phylogenetic tree can summarize the evolution of various life forms on Earth. It is a diagram showing the evolutionary relationships among biological species based on similarities and differences in genetic or physical traits or both.

Same book, p492

Evolution by natural selection describes a mechanism for how species change over time…Natural Selection, or “survival of the fittest” is the more prolific reproduction of individuals with favorable traits that survive environmental change because of those traits. This leads to evolutionary change…More offspring are produced than are able to survive, so resources for survival and reproduction are limited. The capacity for reproduction in all organisms outstrips the availability of resources to support their numbers. Thus, there is competition for those resources in each generation.

From RationalWiki

All species on Earth originated by the mechanism of evolution, through descent from common ancestors.

To summarize their claims on what evolution is:

  1. Evolution is unguided
  2. Evolution can be verified by showing the gradual process of uncountable sequential individual heritable changes
  3. The mechanisms of evolution are natural selection acting on random mutations
  4. Genetics determines traits, behaviors, and reproduction
  5. Organisms that are the most fit (greatest fitness) in their environment persist to pass their genes to subsequent generations
  6. Fitness is “individual reproductive success and is equal to the average contribution to the gene pool of the next generation that is made by individuals of the specified genotype or phenotype”
  7. Evolution’s sole driver is to reproduce genetic material in the competition for limited resources.

What is Evolutionism?

Evolutionism is the belief that evolution is the only explanation for all of biology. Those who practice evolutionism are ruthless in protecting this belief. Practitioners expel, malign, and/or punish anyone who dissents from the common evolutionism narrative.

According to those practicing evolutionism, the theory of evolution cannot, must not, and will not be criticized. Efforts to offer anything other than complete obeisance to the theory are met with swift and unmerciful retribution in an effort to silence critical thinking. In practice, it strongly resembles religious fervor in protection of the dogma. This is generally what happens when someone makes a social media comment that even hints there might be problems with evolution’s ability to explain all of biology

What do Scientists Say About Altruism?

So, scientists have recognized that it is counter-intuitive to assume that altruism fits within the evolutionary explanations, and I’m sure you can see that from the definitions of evolution from above, there is a large plausibility barrier to overcome. In the recent social media encounter that I mentioned above, one of the God-deniers said:

The scientific research would beg to differ. The evolutionary origins of human altruism explained: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0,5&qsp=3&q=evolutionary+origins+human+altruism&qst=ir…

And if you’re not reading science to change your mind, then what are you doing?

Essentially, he told me that science DOES have answers, and I’m ignorant of those answers because I’ve never read them. But I’m an intrepid ApoloJedi and will analyze the writings of scientists who promote evolutionism to see if they can demonstrate altruism to be sufficiently explained by the mechanisms of evolution. I will analyze three sources from the modern academic paradigm (which some will conflate with “science”):

  1. Human Altruism – Proximate Patterns and Evolutionary Origins by Fehr/Fischbacher 2005
  2. Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins
  3. OpenStax Biology 2e 2018 Rice University

Fehr/Fischbacher

The first link in the search result from the post above yields a paper written by Ernst Fehr and Urs Fischbacher for degruyter.com. The paper was written in 2005 and has been cited 82 times.

From page 6

Current gene-based evolutionary theories cannot explain important patterns of human altruism pointing towards the need for theories of cultural evolution and gene-culture coevolution

They clearly recognize the counter-intuitive nature of the claim that evolution can sufficiently account for altruism. The implication is that a NEW theory/mechanism is needed. They call their new mechanism “strong reciprocity”. They define Strong Reciprocity as

Strong reciprocity is a combination of altruistic rewarding—a readiness to reward others in response to fair outcomes or behaviour—and altruistic punishment—a willingness to sanction others for norm violations

Reward? If there is a reward, it’s not altruism. Right from the beginning, they change the definition of altruism from something that is unselfish to appeal to the inherent selfishness. “Fair outcomes”???? Now they have to explain how evolution produced justice so that fair outcomes can be measured. Rather than explaining away the questions, they are multiplying their explanatory deficits. They spend the next 20 pages showing data and charts about how there are social rewards for reciprocity and punishment for selfishness for humans. It’s hardly groundbreaking to show data that when people are nice to others, the others are generally nice back or when someone is ungrateful for altruism, that’s the last time they get free generosity. And it’s definitely not in accord with Merrian-Webster’s definition of altruism from above. The point is that they are not demonstrating that evolution explains altruism. They are NOT demonstrating a gradual process with innumerable slight successive modifications in heritable traits are pushing some mysterious proto-altruistic behavior into fully-developed altruism. Some have done the altruistic test on monkeys showing strong reciprocity, but (as I have been reliably reminded over and over by evolutionists) humans did not evolve from monkeys. At best, these experiments can ONLY assert another rescue device (convergent evolution) proposed by evolutionists to protect their theory from refutation. These experiments do NOT demonstrate the evolution of human altruism.

On page 30, in their section titled “Evolutionary Origins” they introduce the term “Reciprocal altruism” (RA) as a mechanism for producing altruism in evolutionism. But they never get around to explaining how RA gets included into the genetic code. If it is not included in the genetic code, which is the mechanism for heredity, is RA explainable by evolution? RA is described throughout the next 5 pages as being a learned behavior, so unless they are proposing classic Lamarckism, RA can be ignored. In addition to it not being passed on through heredity, it is another way they are redefining altruism. Altruism is selfless, but RA requires reciprocity (if you do something nice, the expectation is that the gifted person reciprocates with something nice), so it is NOT altruism!!!!! Again on Page 30

This does not mean that there may have been considerable obstacles in leaving a relationship; yet, unless the available outside options and individuals’ decisions to stay in or to leave a relationship are modelled explicitly, it is impossible to study their impact on the evolution of altruistic behaviour.

Impossible indeed!

Thus, repeated interactions plus the existence of strategies which condition cooperative behaviour on past outcomes (i.e., reciprocal altruism) are unlikely to be an evolutionary explanation for human cooperation in larger groups

Unlikely and Impossible

In the concluding paragraph of their paper, which they title “Open Problems” they say:

There is experimental evidence indicating that repeated interactions, reputation-formation, and strong reciprocity are powerful determinants of human behaviour

I agree with this, but as has been shown, this is NOT evolution. These are post hoc attempts to describe observations to protect a theory from refutation

Although recent evidence (Henrich et al. 2001) suggests that market integration and the potential gains from cooperation are important factors, our knowledge is still extremely limited

much more evidence on how these affect altruistic rewarding and punishment is necessary

At the ultimate level, the evolution and role of altruistic rewarding for cooperation in larger groups remain in the dark

At the level of proximate theories of human motivation, we still lack parsimonious and tractable formal models of reciprocal fairness, which make precise, testable, predictions

to enhance the study of the evolution of altruism, there is a great need for sharp, empirically testable predictions that are rigorously derived from the evolutionary models

Their conclusion admits they cannot even test the evolutionary mechanism in the present, so how can they extrapolate their theories dozens, hundreds, thousands, or millions of years into the past?!?!?? As they said, “the evolution of altruistic rewarding remains in the dark”

Richard Dawkins

In 1976 Biologist Richard Dawkins attempted to explain altruism in his book, The Selfish Gene. Here are some quotes from his book:

My purpose is to examine the biology of selfishness and altruism.

We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes

Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.

Any altruistic system is inherently unstable, because it is open to abuse by selfish individuals, ready to exploit it.

We can even discuss ways of deliberately cultivating and nurturing pure, disinterested altruism—something that has no place in nature, something that has never existed before in the whole history of the world. We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.

Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature.

If there is a human moral to be drawn, it is that we must teach our children altruism, for we cannot expect it to be part of their biological nature.

In the world of the extended phenotype, ask not how an animal’s behaviour benefits its genes; ask instead whose genes it is benefiting.

The genes are not destroyed by crossing-over, they merely change partners and march on. Of course they march on. That is their business. They are the replicators and we are their survival machines. When we have served our purpose we are cast aside. But genes are denizens of geological time: genes are forever.

There exists no objective basis on which to elevate one species above another.

As you can see, Dawkins is unable to sufficiently demonstrate that evolutionary mechanisms can sufficiently account for altruism. Dawkins is deficient at the same points of Fehr/Fischbacher – he is forced to redefine altruism as beneficial to the giver OR prescribe that altruism be TAUGHT since genes are naturally selfish (Learned). At the pinnacle of the book when Dawkins should reveal how evolution explains altruism, he instead tells us that society is the inheritance mechanism for altruistic behavior rather than evolution (“we must teach our children altruism, for we cannot expect it to be part of their biological nature”). This scientist, who some might say knows more about evolution and biology than any man alive and whose book was meant to explain how biology produced altruism, ultimately claims that the heritable mechanism for altruism is NOT evolution but society!!!!

Is there room for critical rebuttal of Dawkin’s claims? Stephen J. Gould had this to say about the ability of Dawkin’s theory to account for altruism:

the fatal flaw (in Dawkins’ selfish gene theory) was that “no matter how much power Dawkins wishes to assign to genes, there is one thing that he cannot give them – direct visibility to natural selection.

With no direct visibility to natural selection, how can genes direct phenotypes to preserve themselves via altruism? Dawkins never explained; he just assumed and crafted another post hoc theory in an failed attempt to stave off refutation. Dawkin’s attempt to explain altruism via evolution is shown to be a failure as well

OpenStax Rice University

On page 1444, the authors of Rice University’s Biology 2e textbook address altruism…or rather, they fail to address it in the subchapter titled “Altruistic Behavior”

There has been much discussion over why altruistic behaviors exist. Do these behaviors lead to overall evolutionary advantages for their species? Do they help the altruistic individual pass on its own genes? In the 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, scientist Richard Dawkins attempted to explain many seemingly altruistic behaviors…Selfish gene theory has been controversial over the years and is still discussed among scientists in related fields…The lowering of individual fitness to enhance the reproductive fitness of a relative and this one’s inclusive fitness evolves through kin selection. However, these behaviors may not be truly defined as altruism in these cases because the actor is actually increasing his own fitness either directly or indirectly.

Unrelated individuals may also act altruistically to each other, and this seems to defy the selfish gene explanation. An example of this observed in many monkey species where a monkey will present its back to an unrelated monkey to have that individual pick the parasites from its fur. After a certain amount of time, the roles are reversed and the first monkey now grooms the second monkey. Thus, there is reciprocity in the behavior…This behavior (Reciprocity Altruism) is not necessarily altruism.

Evolutionary game theory, a modification of classical game theory in mathematics, has shown that many of these so-called “altruistic behaviors” are not altruistic at all. The definition of pure altruism, based on human behavior, is an action that benefits another without any direct benefit to one’s self. Most of the behaviors described above do not seem to satisfy this definition.

You can see from their explanations that there is no mechanism for generating altruistic behavior, and as this section gets deeper into the deficit of actual explanations, even the concept of altruism is wiped away as if it never really exists (from above – “Most of the behaviors described above do not seem to satisfy this definition (altruism)”.) We see altruistic behavior in humans. We’ve all done it ourselves. We know it exists, but it’s mechanism, purpose, and history are all BLIND to science. In their first paragraph they invoke a sciency-sounding phrase, kin selection, as if merely naming an observation actually explains it. Kin selection like convergent evolution like strong reciprocity are terms that hide the explanation under the guise of science. People hear “kin selection” and assume, “well, it’s got a fancy name, so someone must have demonstrated that evolution is the only explanation for it.”

Although I have been unreliably told that evolution can account for altruistic behavior, the writings of science publications are devoid of sufficient explanations for it. Notice the concluding sentences of this section:

What is clear, though, is that heritable behaviors that improve the chances of passing on one’s genes or a portion of one’s genes are favored by natural selection and will be retained in future generations as long as those behaviors convey a fitness advantage.

Essentially, they are saying “despite a lack of evidence of altruism at all or a mechanism for developing proto-altruism to fully functional altruism, it’s true. Just believe that evolution has the power to do it! We KNOW it because natural selection ALWAYS conveys a fitness advantage…even if we can’t demonstrate it. Trust us, we’re scientists!”

Well, trust has to be earned and after reviewing the best that evolutionism has to offer for explaining the natural forces of survival-of-the-fittest producing behaviors that lower fitness, their writings are woefully deficient of demonstrations.

Can Evolution Account For Altruism?

No. Those who believe in evolution recognize that altruism exists, and in an effort to create post hoc theories for its existence, they must either redefine altruism, revive classic Lamarckism, disregard their own definitions of what evolution means or some chimera Frankenstein fantasy combination of all three distractions.

Many of you know that this is a blog dedicated to the truth of God’s eternal revelation. As a recovering evidentialist and aspiring presuppositionalist, it is my intent to always revere Christ Jesus as the authority in all matters and not put the God-denier in the judge’s seat as if he/she can correctly judge evidence in accordance with a perfect perception of reality. Only God has a perfect perception of all of reality, but God, who is the source of all knowledge, has revealed some of his knowledge so that we can know those things with certainty (Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge). So, without humble submission to the Eternal Monarch, justified true beliefs are not possible for the God-denier. This article could have been very short: Does a mechanism which purportedly replaces God (evolution) sufficiently account for behaviors that God commands (altruism)? No – evolution cannot account for altruism. So, evolutionists are wrong about altruism being consistent with evolution not only because of the Christian worldview…

  1. God’s Revelation in creation and scripture are true
  2. Evolutionism is discordant with God’s Revelation

…but evolutionists are ALSO wrong about altruism because of the inherent contradictions contained within their own worldview

  1. Altruism is selfless
  2. Evolutionary biologists propose that genes are selfish
  3. Genes are unchanged by learned behaviors
  4. Altruism is a learned behavior
  5. Natural selection is survival of the fittest
  6. Altruism is artificial intrusion that prevents the least fit from succumbing to natural selection

This article entered into the worldview of the God-denier and using their own assumptions, their own research, and their own conclusions to show that they cannot account for altruistic behaviors as a result of evolutionary processes. To be clear, they cannot account for ANYTHING without humble submission to the LORD of glory, who is worthy of all praise