A Load of Bright
An atheist's views on religion and the supernatural

To all Creationists: The Tobe Challenge


On several occasions recently, when debating with creationists, I have extended a challenge which is yet to be met. I would now like to circulate it as widely as possible, for reasons that I will explain later.

(A quick aside: this challenge, which is creatively [as it were] named after the author, also applies to those who call themselves advocates of Intelligent Design.)

Creationists love to appeal to science to argue their case. Rather than simply saying that they believe that creationism is true and evolution is false, based on faith, they love to claim that the scientific evidence is on their side. They like to create the illusion that the path leading to the Garden of Eden is a rational one. No sooner have they finished quoting some pseudo-scientific babble about the bacterial flagellum, than they are quoting verses straight from Genesis.

When debating with creationists, I often find them citing ‘scientists’ who reject evolution ‘based on the evidence’. We’ll leave aside, for now, the fact that most scientists who claim to support intelligent design have achieved their qualifications at unaccredited, known Bible Colleges, some of whom won’t even publish PhD theses for other students to research (as with Kent Hovind). Let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, that the credentials of all these scientists who reject evolution are sound. What concerns me, is that they all believe in a specific religious creation myth, indeed by far the majority of them are fundamentalist Christians. I am constantly told that these scientists reject evolution because of the evidence. I find it a remarkable coincidence that this tiny, miniscule fraction of the scientific community that isn’t convinced by the evidence for evolution, just happens to consist of the scientists who have a strong religious incentive to find, or appear to find, fault with the theory of evolution.

This, in itself, of course, is not evidence in favour of evolution, anymore than a sudden shift in power would be evidence against it. The fact that these scientists are in a minority and have questionable motives for the conclusions they reach does not make them wrong. It is, however, a remarkable coincidence, one that should concern creationists, and cause those who are undecided to think twice. It is the very reason that creationists work so hard to accuse evolution of being a religion itself, so as to exonerate the creation ‘scientists’ from this charge.

Now, the challenge. Find me a scientist who meets all of the following criteria.

  1. He must have achieved his qualifications in science, right up to PhD level, at an accredited, college/university without a religious theme or motive.
  2. He must reject the general theory of evolution by means of mutation and natural selection. He must believe that the scientific evidence does not support this theory.
  3. He must believe that the scientific evidence strongly indicates the intelligent design and active, spontaneous creation of all living things, exactly as we see them today.
  4. The most important point of all: he must not subscribe to any official creation myth. In fact, he must explicitly state that he does not accept the Genesis account of creation, or any other. He must hold the view that the ‘intelligent designer’ is not known to us through any religion, past or present, and that the details of the creation are not recorded in any holy scriptures.

The reason that I am posting this challenge so that it is more widely circulated, is that if such a scientist exists, I would genuinely love to hear what he has to say. Even though his existence per se would not count as evidence against evolution, I would be fascinated to learn how he had reached the conclusion that evolution is false without any religious motive for doing so. Please feel free to circulate this challenge to all creationists you know.

Author’s note: any comments on this thread must be relevant – that is, they must discuss the challenge I have set in some way. This means that anything discussing the nature of the challenge, its significance, its implications, any objections to its structure and any genuine attempts to meet it will be accepted. Please do not attempt to begin a general debate about evolution vs. creationism.

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95 Responses to “To all Creationists: The Tobe Challenge”

  1. In another words, find a scientist who can fully justify some sort of creationism from a pure scientific background back with credible evidence.

    Good one!

  2. Sir Ambrose Flemming, a noted British electronics engineer, inventor and physicist, meets most of your criteria – and was a powerful opponent of evolution theory, as he said science didn’t support it. But he fails on one key ‘condition’ of yours. As a Christian, he believed Genesis to be a histirical nad factual account (as I do). Ah well, can’t take him seriously, then. He fails the ‘Tone Challenge’. As would Sir Isaac Newton. on the same grounds

  3. Will you accept Michael Behe, author of ‘Darwin’s Black Box’? (publsihed 1998). Here is what Wikipedia says about his academic record:

    “Behe grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he attended grade school at St. Margaret Mary’s Parochial School and later graduated from Bishop McDevitt High School. [10][11]

    “He graduated from Drexel University in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry. He got his PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania in 1978 for his dissertation research on sickle-cell disease”.

    Now, he saus that many creatures are so complex that they could not possibly have evolved – they have what he calls an ‘irreducible comlexity’. Thier characteristics are so interrelated and complex that they woud have to have been specially created and simply could not have evolved ‘bit by bit’.

    Does he meet the Tobe challenge? Or are his views to be put in the trash can?

    P.S. According to the latest opinion polls, around 50% of Americans and Brits reject the theory of evolution and the percentage is growing. Isn’t it about time we looked at explanations that better fit the known facts?

  4. Just because even a “credible” scientist believes that irreducible complexity is self evident, doesn’t make it so. I would expect a “winner” of the challenge to supply a falsifiable theory to explain any given characteristic they believed to be irreducible. The flaggellum is typical of examples that creationists have erroneously cited.
    On the general challenge I have only one comment, which is that condition 3 is aimed at “strong” creationists who expect all life to conform to an immutable divine blueprint. The harder people to reach are the “weak” creationists who allow the creator to kick start the process or intervene in stages.

    ” Isn’t it about time we looked at explanations that better fit the known facts?”
    If Evolution by natural selection is not the best explanation it will be a doddle to find someone who meets the Tobe challenge. The first credible biologist who finds the one piece of evidence necessary to falsify Darwinism will shout it from the roof tops while waiting for his/her Nobel prize. That’s what scientists do with or without a religious or any other agenda. The facts are that to date no one has found such evidence or a better falsifiable alternative theory.

  5. @ Tony Bennett

    Sir Ambrose Flemming, a noted British electronics engineer, inventor and physicist, meets most of your criteria – and was a powerful opponent of evolution theory, as he said science didn’t support it. But he fails on one key ‘condition’ of yours. As a Christian, he believed Genesis to be a histirical nad factual account

    The fourth criterion is the most important, for reasons I explained in the article. All criteria have to be met, so Flemming fails to meet the challenge.

    Will you accept Michael Behe, author of ‘Darwin’s Black Box’? (publsihed 1998).

    No. Michael Behe is a Christian fundamentalist who believes the Genesis account of creation.

    P.S. According to the latest opinion polls, around 50% of Americans and Brits reject the theory of evolution and the percentage is growing. Isn’t it about time we looked at explanations that better fit the known facts?

    I know you’re just itching to give me 101 reasons why evolution is a lie, but your points must stick to the challenge. This is not a thread within which to discuss the evidence for or against evolution or creationism.

    I do, however, dispute your claim that 50% of Brits reject evolution. If you have a source for that stat, I’d be fascinated to see it.

    @ Steve Bowen

    On the general challenge I have only one comment, which is that condition 3 is aimed at “strong” creationists who expect all life to conform to an immutable divine blueprint. The harder people to reach are the “weak” creationists who allow the creator to kick start the process or intervene in stages.

    You’re right, but I’m not too concerned about the “weak” creationists. At least, not as much as I am with the Young Earth variety.

  6. Isn’t your criteria a little circular and arbitrary in structure?

    It assumes that if someone fails in the criteria, however minor it may be, that they are therefore unreliable. It’s kind of an ad hominem argument based on eliminating ideas and thoughts based on a person, not on the argument itself.

  7. @ Liza

    Isn’t your criteria a little circular and arbitrary in structure?…It’s kind of an ad hominem argument based on eliminating ideas and thoughts based on a person, not on the argument itself.

    I’m not sure where the circular bit comes in, but if I were to argue that Michael Behe’s arguments are flawed because he’s a Christian, that would indeed be an Adhominem fallacy. But that’s not what I’m arguing. I explicitly state (twice) in the article that just because someone has an ulterior motive to believe something, that doesn’t mean that what they believe is false.

    My argument is that if evolution really were false or flawed on scientific grounds, you would expect there to be at least a few scientists who agreed with this without being religious. The fact that my challenge stands unmet is not solid evidence of anything, but it is a good reason to be suspicious.

    I’m not saying that Michael Behe is wrong (not here, anyway, I do think he’s wrong, big time), only that he doesn’t meet the challenge I’ve set.

    As commenter Steve Bowen shrewdly observed,

    If Evolution by natural selection is not the best explanation it will be a doddle to find someone who meets the Tobe challenge. The first credible biologist who finds the one piece of evidence necessary to falsify Darwinism will shout it from the roof tops while waiting for his/her Nobel prize.

  8. We all know, Tobe, that you are being disingenuous.

    Your challenge is impossible to meet. You really don’t expect to find anyone to meet the challenge, because if someone does, it will seriously shake the foundations of science, and you know we can’t have that.

    Imagine! An actual scientist with proof that evolution is false, and no religious ax to grind! (His name won’t be Geno)

    For the record, I’m being facetious. 😉

  9. Let me try this from another way….To say that you are unwilling to believe a scientist who doesn’t meet your criteria says more about your presuppositions than about the issues at hand.

    You have mentioned that you are a bartender. If I were to simply look at your resume and try to decide whether your points have any basis or knowledge, that would do you a great disservice. I have stayed home to raise my kids. If that’s all anyone thought I was capable of doing they would be sorely underestimating me. Neither of us can be evaluated simply by what we do or where we’ve been.

    That’s how I view your challenge…irrelevant….a way to eliminate people that you already don’t trust or feel are misguided.

  10. Michael Behe a fundamentalist Christian?

    Not from what I’ve heard.

    Can you give me a source?

  11. See this report (part snipped) on the BBC News website, 26
    January 2006:

    “Just under half of Britons accept the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life, according to an opinion poll.

    “Furthermore, more than 40% of those questioned believe that creationism or intelligent design (ID) should be taught in school science lessons.

    “The survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI for the BBC’s Horizon series.

    “Its latest programme, A War on Science, looks into the attempt to introduce ID into science classes in the US.

    “Over 2,000 participants took part in the survey, and were asked what best described their view of the origin and development of life:

    22% chose creationism
    17% opted for intelligent design
    48% selected evolution theory
    and the rest did not know”.

    REST SNIPPED

    P.S. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    Creationists say the chicken.

    What answer do the collective minds of evolutionary scientists give to this question?

    Or haven’t they worked out the answer yet?

  12. Behe, as noted above, was raised a Catholic. (The elementary and high schools are in my town – in fact, Bishop McDevitt was a school rival when I went to Trinity High School.) He home schools his children, but he says not for religious reasons. Here’s a quote from Edward Humes “Monkey Girl”, which I reviewed.

    “…Michael Behe: a real scientist with no obvious ax to grind, a proper academic with legitimate research credentials, who was reasonable, likable and bright. He wasn’t a Bible literalist, though he did believe in God, and he was no anti-evolution extremist: Behe acknowledged that Darwin had been right about a great many things, and that Darwin had been doing the best with the technology and data available to him. Behe even conceded that the evidence in living genetic structures made Darwin’s idea of common descent with modification likely to be true; all creatures appeared to be related. But Darwin was wrong on one major point, as Behe saw it: the cause of modifications in living creatures could not possibly be natural selection. …If humans and other creatures share a common ancestor, Behe argues, that is because a designer made it that way. As a scientist, he could conceive of no other explanation. If that proposition had religious implications, so be it. Those implications might please Behe, he says, but they did not sway his scientific judgment one way or the other.” pp.132-33

    I’m not sure if that qualifies him, though, Tobe, because I see no disclaimer of a Creation myth. Humes makes it clear that he was heavily influenced in his beliefs after reading a book by Michael Denton, of New Zealand, titled “Evolution: A Theory on Crisis”. I’m unfamiliar with the book, though there’s a review on Talk Origins, here.

  13. tobe:

    ID’ers have consistently lied about the conditions of number 4. Because of that, and to avoid the Behe silliness, you might have appended the following conditions to your number 4:

    In addition, the scientist must not be a member of any religious organization that claims to find greater “truth” in its traditional writings than in scientific consensus. The scientist may not be funded or rewarded in any way by such organization, nor may he collaborate or cooperate in any way with such organization or representatives thereof. If, in the past, the scientist had ever been a member, had ever been funded or rewarded, or had ever collaborated or cooperated with any such organization or its representatives, he must publicly and completely repudiate the goals of such organization and renounce its anti-science bias.

  14. I tried to post earlier.
    I think this challenge casts the whole endeavor to overturn evolution in stark relief.
    I think it is reasonable to ask why no scientist without an axe to grind ever comes out against Natural Selection. For the layman, most scientific knowledge is based on authority. We decide on what science is saying by appealing to those who DO science. When those who do science corrupt their discipline by stirring their own non-scientific beliefs into the pot, then we have the right to zero-in on that and question their motives.
    Has any ID scientist published a peer-reviewed paper on that subject? What were their peers’ reactions? Or are they just multiplying conjectures to “disprove” evolution without advancing any experimental models for testing their “theories”?

    An example: If the only doctors who say that a new pill works, in opposition to the rest of the medical extablishment, are those who are employed by the pharmaceutical company, then that says something about their research and their claims.

    @Tobe: Inspired!

  15. That’s enough for now. I’ve got to get back to work. 😉

  16. tobe,
    You know how much I hate to be divisive, but someone needs to reveal the dirty dark secret. Science, when it comes to evolution, only makes advances by changing the definitions and moving the goal line. (which I will get to in a moment.)

    Here is how your challenge reads – “agree with us or you are out.” Before you get yourself all upset, look at it this way. Are you saying that when Behe (or any other IDer) do there science they do it differently? Is it possible that they do the exact same science and allow the evidence to move them in a different direction?

    My point is this – no matter what evidence is presented, you will say not good enough – and here is my PROOF.

    Richard Lewontin from Harvard has already defined God out of the scientific method – for what reason? not a scientific one!!

    Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review, January 1997, p. 31.
    “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.”
    What is that he said? “because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.” and “for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door” and again “we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.”
    YIKES! THE CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG!!!

    But wait, there is more – Edward Larson in his article in the LA Times opinion section Nov 24, 2004 titled “If it’s supernatural, it is not science.” says the following;
    “Even if God specifically created the first humans in his image in a one time event, that could not be a naturalistic explanation for our existence. It might be true, but it cannot be science. It is supernatural not natural.”

    This my friend is why IDers have difficulty getting their work published for peer review – they are just shut out by arbitrary definitions and conditions – as you have done. Can you imagine the hell to pay if a journal let them publish? By association they would be branded.

    Oh well, continue with your challenge.

  17. @ Liza

    Let me try this from another way….To say that you are unwilling to believe a scientist who doesn’t meet your criteria says more about your presuppositions than about the issues at hand.

    That’s not what I said, and you’re still missing my point. When it comes to working out the truth, all that matters is the evidence, not who presents it. If a street sweeper found evidence that falsified evolution, that would be fine. The reason I believe, passionately, in evolution is the evidence. The reason I reject the findings of ID ‘scientists’ is not because they are Christian, it’s because their science and reasoning are flawed, and their evidence non-existent.

    @ Tony Bennett

    Michael Behe a fundamentalist Christian?

    Not from what I’ve heard.

    Can you give me a source?

    I can’t give one that says he is a fundamentalist. I was certain that I’d read something on Behe that said he was a Genesis believing Christian fundamentalist, but I can’t find it and in light of what I’ve now read, I must have got him mixed up with someone else. So, for that I apologise. He is Christian though, and on point 4, that’s enough to disqualify him, because to him, the designer could only be the Christian god.

    Fair enough about Brits believing rejecting evolution. I didn’t think things were that bad here.

    P.S. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    Creationists say the chicken.

    What answer do the collective minds of evolutionary scientists give to this question?

    Or haven’t they worked out the answer yet?

    You’re trying to go off topic again by starting a general discussion on evolution. I ended the article with a warning, and that’s the second time I’ve had to call you on it already. Please don’t make me ask again.

    @ Span Inquis,

    Thanks for the info.

    @ Exterminator

    In addition, the scientist must not be a member of any religious organization that claims to find greater “truth” in its traditional writings than in scientific consensus. The scientist may not be funded or rewarded in any way by such organization, nor may he collaborate or cooperate in any way with such organization or representatives thereof. If, in the past, the scientist had ever been a member, had ever been funded or rewarded, or had ever collaborated or cooperated with any such organization or its representatives, he must publicly and completely repudiate the goals of such organization and renounce its anti-science bias.

    Very good point, one I overlooked. I’m not offering any prize for the challenge, so once everyone’s had their say, I might make another post modifying it.

    @ Polly

    Lol, and thanks again. I hope you’re on your lunch – I’d hate to get you in trouble! 🙂

  18. Geno

    What’s so arbitrary about that? Science is what it is – the study of nature. Not supernature. Nature. What you are suggesting is that the very definition of science be changed, to allow supernatural study. It wouldn’t be science then, would it? Maybe something else, that would need another name to be coined – say, Religience – but not science.

  19. Spanish,
    I don’t have a problem with it. It is your side that says that there is no truth but science truth. You guys continually point out that if you can’t show evidence by science then you have no evidence.

    You always demand that we prove God scientifically – but then say that supernatural things, by definition, are outside the science realm.

    Note, that both of these guys say even if it is true it is not science. So stop the straw man fallacy – don’t ask for scientific proof where you won’t accept the evidence.

    And that my good friend is where you lose credibility – remember what Lewontin publicly confesses here, evidence and truth is not what matters. What matters is your presupposition ““we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.”

    A created synthetic apparatus had to be created to guide the “evidence” in a pre determined direction. He is very clear and one of the few honest people looking at evolution.

    So, here is the answer – the apparatus was set up to keep out all who would dare question the model. So far it is working as DESIGNED 😉

  20. Spanish,
    Weigh in on this – does Behe do his science differently than an evolutionist? Does he dissect a frog differently, does he do his calculations differently? When he says that there is complexity to a cell do the other lab rats at the university say “no they are simple like Darwin speculated?

    What is the “science” that is done differently?

  21. (Tobe, tell me if we get off track.)

    Geno,

    Behe is a biochemist. He does his research in biochemistry. He coined the phrase “irreducible complexity” to explain his conclusions that certain processes could not have evolved, because they were too complex to do so from their simpler components. I have no idea exactly what he does when he does biochemistry, but apparently the conclusions he reaches from his research don’t seem to be supportable by the evidence. At least his fellow “lab rats” don’t think so, at least when his conclusions deal with evolution.

    His conclusions regarding irreducible complexity have been debunked by his colleagues in the same field. They specifically have found that those processes he believes could only have been created by an intelligent designer, could very easily have evolved, and hence their complexity can be plausibly reduced. The bacterial flagellum is his most famous example.

    His conclusions are typical of those who posit god as a cause, because his conclusions effectively stop further inquiry into a natural cause. In effect, he says “Oh look at the bacterial flagellum! It’s sooooo complex, we must stop looking for the processes that caused it to be what it is, and assume god did it.” His conclusion is that there is a supernatural, unknowable, untestable, non-experimental force that caused the development, not natural selection with modification, as evolution posits. So, his “science” stops science. At best, it’s lazy science. And he has had no peer reviewed papers published concerning his intelligent design theories.

    So, he probably doesn’t do science any different than the next biochemist. He just does a lousy job of analyzing his science, most likely because his religious beliefs don’t allow him to reach obvious conclusions.

    Remember, Geno, the honest creationist says: “The primary reason I object to evolution is because it conflicts with my religious beliefs.”

  22. “22% chose creationism
    17% opted for intelligent design
    48% selected evolution theory
    and the rest did not know”.

    The results of this poll say more about the poor level of public understanding about evolution and science than they do about the truth of it but..

    Tony, Science isn’t a democracy (although it sometimes has to be a concensus). The universe is what it is and science produces theories to explain it. But here is the point, scientist don’t go on to try and prove the theories, they design experiments to try and disprove them. This is The Spanish Inquisitor’s point about Behe, he fails the Tobe challenge because at the point he resorts to a deity to explain an observation he ceases to be doing science because the line of enquiry has stopped by a theory that is un-falsifiable in his mind.
    Anyone who passes the Tobe challenge will have done exactly what you ask, which is find a biological structure which could not have evolved, published the results, had them peer reviewed and verified and so felt able to say “here is my theory of intelligent design to explain this aspect of the universe I have observed”. As a good scientist he should then go on to design experiments and develop alternative theories which could potentially overthrow that one. The reason that such a person has never been found is that no such structure has.

  23. “But here is the point, scientist don’t go on to try and prove the theories, they design experiments to try and disprove them.”

    Really?….so biochemists working for a pharmaceutical company aren’t influenced in their experiments and the interpretation of them? South Korean stem cell researchers don’t announce breakthroughs that never existed and engage in unethical behavior?

    Please, science has had many cases of wishful interpretations and downright fraud. Don’t appeal to the purity of science and scientists, because there have been as many misguided scientists as theists.

    That’s where the challenge fails. It tries to imply that if a certain pedigree is met, then that particular scientist is somehow more trustworthy. The argument approaches those who don’t meet the criteria with great suspicion, but views those who make it through the gauntlet as prophets who can only speak the truth.

  24. @ Liza

    Really?….so biochemists working for a pharmaceutical company aren’t influenced in their experiments and the interpretation of them? South Korean stem cell researchers don’t announce breakthroughs that never existed and engage in unethical behavior?

    I don’t know what you’re referring to. As I’ve said before, it would be nice if you could link to sources when you mention specific events like this. Either way, you could well be right. No atheist I know has ever claimed that all scientists are perfect. You get bad scientists just like you get bad plumbers. What matters, is that science is the best system for weeding out people who are practicing it badly. You may get dishonest scientists, but the system of criticism and peer review is what will uncover them.

    Please, science has had many cases of wishful interpretations and downright fraud. Don’t appeal to the purity of science and scientists, because there have been as many misguided scientists as theists.

    The difference is that with theists, there is no way to resolve the dispute. In science, if your colleagues can’t reproduce your results, then your “wishful interpretations and downright fraud” will soon be unveiled.

    That’s where the challenge fails. It tries to imply that if a certain pedigree is met, then that particular scientist is somehow more trustworthy. The argument approaches those who don’t meet the criteria with great suspicion, but views those who make it through the gauntlet as prophets who can only speak the truth.

    Liza, I will try to explain this one last time. My suscpision is not aimed at individual scientists based on their beliefs, it is aimed at the statistic that the only scientists who reject evolution are the ones with religious motives to do so. If a scientist were found who met my challenge, he would still have to provide evidence in order to be taken seriously. One last time: it doesn’t matter who you are, what your beliefs are or what your credentials are, only the evidence that you provide. There are no ‘prophets’ in science. By using that word, you are doing exactly what I said theists do in the article – attempting to make science appear religious to hide the fact that religion is not scientific.

  25. South Korean Fraud.

    AS far as pharmaceuticals go…there are many examples. Vioxx being one of them.

    Scientists have to make a living. They work in competitive fields where results must be produced in order to receive grant funding. They are under constant pressure to perform in order to obtain that funding. This has led to severalscandals and fraudulent claims.

    Yes….frauds tend to get found out. I would say the same thing about Christian frauds. There are people who manipulate from the pulpit and they are usually found out.

    You keep saying that I don’t understand or am misinterpreting your premise. I disagree. I think it’s a matter of semantics.

    You said in your last response:

    “One last time: it doesn’t matter who you are, what your beliefs are or what your credentials are,”

    In your original post you said:

    “he must not subscribe to any official creation myth. In fact, he must explicitly state that he does not accept the Genesis account of creation, or any other. ”

    Please reconcile those statements.

    If it doesn’t matter, then why include it?. You say it doesn’t matter, but at every turn you reiterate that this yet-to-be-found scientist cannot have any sort of religious belief. You contradict yourself.

  26. I typed a lengthy comment…it’s not there. Am I blocked?

  27. @ Liza

    For some reason your comment got caught in the spam filter – my apologies.

    Yes….frauds tend to get found out. I would say the same thing about Christian frauds. There are people who manipulate from the pulpit and they are usually found out.

    How do Christian frauds get uncovered, Liza? By what method?

    You keep saying that I don’t understand or am misinterpreting your premise. I disagree. I think it’s a matter of semantics.

    You said in your last response:

    “One last time: it doesn’t matter who you are, what your beliefs are or what your credentials are,”

    In your original post you said:

    “he must not subscribe to any official creation myth. In fact, he must explicitly state that he does not accept the Genesis account of creation, or any other. ”

    Please reconcile those statements.

    The first statement refers to what it would take to falsify the general theory of evolution. The second statement refers to what it would take to refute my claim that all scientists who reject evolution have a religious motive to do so. They are different claims. I clearly state in the article that the existence of such a scientist who would meet my challenge would not disprove evolution in itself, any more than his non-existence can disprove creationism.

    If it doesn’t matter, then why include it?. You say it doesn’t matter, but at every turn you reiterate that this yet-to-be-found scientist cannot have any sort of religious belief. You contradict yourself.

    I’m not contradicting myself, because as I’ve pointed out above, you’re getting mixed up between two different claims. When it comes to discussing whether or not evolution is true or false, all that matters is the evidence. But creationists love to boast that there are scientists who reject evolution, and the central point of my argument is that the fact that ALL of those scientists – who represent a miniscule fraction of the scientific community – have a religous position to defend does not exactly help their argument. If they could provide evidence it wouldn’t matter, but that’s for a different discussion. Every scientist who rejects evolution has a reason to be biased, of which there is no equivalent for scientists who do not believe in a personal God. All I’m saying is that if you could find me a scientist who doesn’t believe in a personal God but believes that a deity created everything just as it is, then boy! I’d love to hear what he’s got to say.

  28. Liza saidL

    “One last time: it doesn’t matter who you are, what your beliefs are or what your credentials are,”

    In your original post you said:

    “he must not subscribe to any official creation myth. In fact, he must explicitly state that he does not accept the Genesis account of creation, or any other. ”

    What Tobe is saying is that veracity of a fact or theory is irrelevant to the beliefs of the person holding it. Evolution is a fact for example, whether you’re a tramp on the street or Stephen Hawkings.

    The point of the original article Tobe is making is that there isn’t a single scientist out there who disagrees with evolution and who doesn’t have a religious agenda. Tobe explicitly states in the article that that doesn’t make evolution right or wrong, but it is a very interesting coincidence!

    So, there is no contradiction.

  29. I have a quibble with the first point. Just because one has a PhD in, say, math, it does not qualify one as an expert on biological evolution. (Nothing personal, mathematicians.) It would be a nice touch if the scientist who meets these criteria actually has a PhD in biology and not some unrelated field.

    Ah well, can’t take him seriously, then. He fails the ‘Tone Challenge’. As would Sir Isaac Newton. on the same grounds

    Newton also fails on the implicit “not dead and buried for 130 years prior to the publication of On the Origin of Species” criteron. 🙂

  30. @ H3nry

    In another words, find a scientist who can fully justify some sort of creationism from a pure scientific background back with credible evidence.

    Not necessarily – he just has to think he can.

    @ Alex, FCD

    I have a quibble with the first point. Just because one has a PhD in, say, math, it does not qualify one as an expert on biological evolution. (Nothing personal, mathematicians.) It would be a nice touch if the scientist who meets these criteria actually has a PhD in biology and not some unrelated field.

    I did think about that as I was writing it, but I wanted to try and make the challenge as generous as possible, without making it pointless. Maths wouldn’t qualify anyone, because it’s not a scientific discipline. A mathematician is not a scientist. To be honest, I’d be fascinated to see anyone with a degree in a science area rejecting evolution based on the evidence without being religious.

  31. Spanish,
    So what you said above at 4:36am is that the chances are good that Behe does his science under the same rules as the other guy However, and you seemed to agree, he has come to a differing conclusion. His conclusion requires further inquiry – now that he says there appears to be a designer let’s look further into that designer and the process. (Just an FYI, Behe is not a creationist).

    Now through this let’s evaluate who it is that is stifling further inquiry. Behe and those who work in the field of ID are trying to move along, using their science to work the process. Oops! the open minded evolutionist can’t take the competition to their model – as I stated above in my quotes from Lewontin and Larson.

    See Spanish, you said yesterday at 4:13pm “Imagine! An actual scientist with proof that evolution is false, and no religious ax to grind! (His name won’t be Geno)” – that is just the point, the evolutionist does have an axe to grind – it is anti religion / anti God as stated above.
    Remember, when it comes to evolution (and evolution alone) the evidence does not get evaluated by logic and reason it is shaped by (how did Lewontin put it) “we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation.”

    Look how far astray you have gone – you have assigned mind and emotions to genes!!! My God (no offense) how much more crazy does it get. Evolutionists are stifling further inquiry and that is why no one can dis prove Darwinism – they would be run out of town on a rail.

    The deck is stacked, in fact that was the case in the ID trial in your state – if science was so clear, the evolutionist would have had no need to run to court – it would have been self evident!

  32. I’m sorry Geno, I looked through your last comment several times, and I still couldn’t find an example of a proper scientist who rejects evolution on purely scientific grounds and who doesn’t have a religious agenda. Perhaps you forgot to include his/her name, since that is what the subject of this article is.

  33. evanescent,
    And you won’t. You continue to make the same error. You assume that someone who has a religious belief has a religious agenda, when in fact it is just the opposite. Obviously you didn’t read my post at 12:07am where your own rule book (see my quotes from Lewontin and Larsen) state (let me paraphrase) “if anyone thinks differently than we do, just deny them.” These guys are not lightweight God deniers since they both continually say that God or design is not allowed – regardless.

    You have allowed science to be hijacked.

  34. Here is another example by another one of my open minded colleagues.

    Douglas Futuyma is the author of a widely used college textbook on evolution: ‘Evolutionary Biology’ and has been editor of ‘Evolution’, the leading international journal of evolutionary research. – Again, no lightweight in the field.

    Remember, this man writes college textbooks. He is the one instructing people how to use their science and again, what the rules are. Futuyma states in his book Science on Trial. – “In a scientific sense, there can be no evidence for supernatural special creation.”

    Here is my question – How the heck does he know that? Notice, he does not say “from what we know etc.” no he states without equivocation that there CAN BE No EVIDENCE – it is impossible. They have already made up their mind and decided for all future generations of scientists that this is not a legitimate way to go.

    So, when your 18 year old goes off to college to study science and methods of inquiry, with that great mind God gave him, the first thing they are going to be told is “stop thinking for yourself.”

  35. There was so little in your comment worth addressing, but here goes:
    Geno said;

    “In a scientific sense, there can be no evidence for supernatural special creation.”

    Aren’t you a scientist??

    How can science study supernatural intelligent design?? You shouldn’t need a layman like myself to explain how science works to you. (For the hundredth time).

    So, when your 18 year old goes off to college to study science and methods of inquiry, with that great mind God gave him, the first thing they are going to be told is “stop thinking for yourself.”

    Whatever. Pot, kettle, black.

    Found those rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian yet Geno?

    Or have you found a scientist to answer the “Tobe Challenge”?

  36. evanescent,
    OK one more time. That is my point, you and the other Darwinoids think you are so smart. You put up a challenge that you have defined as impossible to fulfill.
    Design is not supernatural – the designer may be supernatural, but not the design itself.

    Even Dawkins in the Blind Watchmaker states that the universe has an appearance of design. So, at this point he is no different that the IDers – they both agree that there is an appearance of design. From that point they take their best guess at the conclusion.
    Dawkins, with no empirical proof just asserts that the universe was not designed (I think he does it from the fallacy of he just can’t believe it.) Behe on the other hand says, if it looks designed, perhaps their is a designer – let’s look further – to which you say no.

    David Berlinski should meet the criteria for your challenge. An atheist mathematician denies the credibility of evolution.

  37. @Geno:
    David Berlinski is, according to Wikipedia, a Fellow at the Discovery Institute – of “the Wege” strategy infamy. In light of this, is there evidence that he is an “atheist”?
    Tobe has already stated that mathematicians don’t qualify. I’d say that he’s being generous by not limiting possibilities to just bio-scientists.

  38. @ Geno

    You put up a challenge that you have defined as impossible to fulfill.

    To meet the challenge, the scientist only has to hold no belief in a personal god or any religious creation story, and believe (I never said he has to prove) that the scientific evidence does not support the general theory of evolution. There are lots of people who don’t believe in a personal god, and there are plenty of ID believing scientists who reject evolution ‘based on the evidence’. Why is it asking so much for just one cross over? How exactly is my challenge impossible to fulfill?

  39. Geno says:

    However, and you seemed to agree, he has come to a differing conclusion. His conclusion requires further inquiry – now that he says there appears to be a designer let’s look further into that designer and the process.

    I say:
    By his own admission, DOES NOT require further inquiry. He testified (at the Dover trial – you remember, the one ID lost) that there is no mechanism for ID that he can point to. He also testified that there is a simple test that could be performed to test ID, but he never attempted it. Why? Becuase he reached the pinnacle of his science. God did it! No further inquiry needed.

    You know Geno, I really don’t think Tobe’s challenge can be met. I alluded to that (facetiously) in a prior post, but the more I think about it, it can’t be done. Essentially, he needs to see a scientist who disclaims the supernatural. All scientists who do that by definition are not religious. So what does that leave us? A non religious scientist who has actually done some research into non supernatural alternatives to evolution. There are none. If you know of any, please let s know.

  40. Geno:

    You say: Evolutionists are stifling further inquiry and that is why no one can dis prove Darwinism – they would be run out of town on a rail.

    This is just raw ignorance, or purposeful lying. Anyone in the scientific community is free to take pot shots at what you godpushers like to call “Darwinism” (it really isn’t, because Darwin’s conclusions have been refined, embellished, and reshaped through the years, as all good scientific theories are). However, to take such pot shots, a true scientist — not a Michael Behe — must keep his or her alternative hypotheses and subsequent researches in the realm of the falsifiable. Your intelligent designer, though, isn’t falsifiable in the scientific sense.

    But let’s assume for the moment that there is an intelligent designer. Why posit him/her/it in the image of a western god? Why not posit him/her/it as a huge cockroach who created the universe especially for all insects? Or why not, for that matter, posit him/her/it as a tangible fart? Perhaps, alternatively, an intelligent designer, who does conform to your picture, was actually trying to build a multidimensional bicycle, but fucked up and made the universe instead. Why won’t you take that theory on faith; you can’t prove that it’s false, can you? I mean, look at the obvious evidence: a designer designs something that he thinks will be useful or good to have. Clearly, a bicycle would be fun to make and ride, particularly if it had a cool bell. But what could anyone conceivably get out of creating a universe?

    Don’t tell me you refuse to accept the examples in the foregoing paragraph just because they aren’t science. In what way are they less scientific than your explanation? If The Tobe Challenge stacks the deck against your ID hypothesis, it also stacks the deck against my CF (cosmic flatulence) theory.

    Unlike you, however, who probably dismiss CF without giving it the serious thought it deserves — you know what? I, and tobe, and every other atheist writing here would be glad to defer to your explanation for life, the universe, and everything — if only there were someone who could meet The Tobe Challenge.

  41. Exterminator,
    Do you want to show me where Michael Behe posits the Intelligent designer as a western god? Is there such a thing as an intangible fart. Your anger is so unbecoming of this conversation.

    Spanish,
    I was the first one to agree with you that the challenge could not be met. The challenge is the same as if I gave you this challenge. “How much does Exterminators tangible fart weigh. But you must use a yard stick to weigh it! 😉

    Also, Berlinski is a well known atheist, agnostic, skeptic (whatever they are called today) listen to him.
    Do I win the prize or are you going to define him out of the club.

  42. Geno says to me: Your anger is so unbecoming of this conversation.

    First of all, I think it’s tobe’s place to decide what is and is not unbecoming of this conversation. It’s his house, remember? And please don’t attribute anger to me, because you were dead wrong. I wasn’t angry. I was annoyed by your repeated attempts to deflect tobe’s simple challenge.

    Now, though, I am angry. Much of that anger is brought on by your lying and misrepresentation. Behe may not come right out and say that the Intelligent Designer is a western god — he’s way too clever to do that — but you can bet that he’s not picturing some fifth-dimensional spider. If he thinks that such a spider is equally as possible as a humanoid father-figure, he should say so. That would play really well with the anti-evolution crowd, wouldn’t it? But, of course, Behe doesn’t say so, because, all protestations to the contrary, he does not believe in an intelligent designer spider; he believes in the same man-like creature that most western religionists do.

    Here’s a quote from Behe (which you can find at the Idea Center’s Web site:
    The most important difference [between modern intelligent design theory and Paley’s arguments] is that [intelligent design] is limited to design itself; I strongly emphasize that it is not an argument for the existence of a benevolent God, as Paley’s was. I hasten to add that I myself do believe in a benevolent God, and I recognize that philosophy and theology may be able to extend the argument. But a scientific argument for design in biology does not reach that far. This while I argue for design, the question of the identity of the designer is left open. Possible candidates for the role of designer include: the God of Christianity; an angel–fallen or not; Plato’s demi-urge; some mystical new age force; space aliens from Alpha Centauri; time travelers; or some utterly unknown intelligent being. Of course, some of these possibilities may seem more plausible than others based on information from fields other than science.

    Does Behe present criteria that make his candidates “possible”? Why is “an angel — fallen or not” deemed “possible,” while a grand cosmic fart isn’t? Why is it that “some of these possibilities may seem more plausible than others”? To me, they all sound equally implausible, the “God of Christianity” no less so than the fifth-dimensional spider. And what “fields other than science” is Behe referring to?

    As far as Berlinski being an atheist, agnostic, skeptic, here’s an offhand quote from his new book, Infinite Ascent:

    [Note: Berlinski is speaking about Greek mathematicians, and sets the Pythagoreans in a time frame.] The burden of those impossibly distant centuries now disappears. It is roughly six centuries before the birth of Christ. The Greeks are just about to elbow their way into all the corridors of culture.

    Now, I’ve never met an atheist, agnostic, skeptic (whatever you call them today) who would casually use the phrase: “It is roughly six centuries before the birth of Christ.” That’s a blindly accepting religious reference. The author could as easily have said, “It is roughly six centuries before Christ is said to have been born,” or “It is roughly six centuries before the birth of Christianity,” or “It is roughly six centuries before the alleged birth of Christ,” or even, if he accepts the historical validity of the guy, “It is roughly six centuries before the birth of a Jew named Jesus, whom Christians believe to have been the son of god.” But that isn’t what he wrote. Now, surely, you’ll jump to remind me that Berlinski has a Jewish background, so even if he’s not an atheist, agnostic, skeptic, he’s not a Christian, either. Again, I’ll reply: strange phraseology for a Jew.

  43. @ Spanish Inquisitor

    I really don’t think Tobe’s challenge can be met.

    I’m curious now, do you think that it can’t be met, or that it won’t be met? Personally, I don’t think think it will be met, but I maintain that it’s hypothetically possible, and that if the scientific evidence really didn’t support evolution that we could expect it to be met many times over.

  44. After all this debate on science, (and Tobe it is sooo hard to stay strctly on topic with this one) I went back to think about the original challenge in context. Tobe’s criteria are not that onerous really. he simply asks that a properly accredited scientist; believes the evidence does not support evolution by natural selection, indicates spontaneous immutable design (strong creationism) and does not subscribe to any particular creation philosophy. The challenge is aimed at creationists who attempt to hijack science to peddle myth, which is why Tobe rejected my original critiscism of the challenge which was

    “condition 3 is aimed at “strong” creationists who expect all life to conform to an immutable divine blueprint. The harder people to reach are the “weak” creationists who allow the creator to kick start the process or intervene in stages.”

    Tobe said he wasn’t concerned about the “weak” creationists, but actually most of the debate on this topic has been trying to target that argument. Some people may say that the concensus is woolly at the margins and detailed end of evolutionary theory (I would’nt agree but it’s legitimate debate) however there really is no-one without a religeous agenda who can rationally support young earth creationism. The evidence against isn’t marginal, it’s overwhelming. Sure the challenge is ingenuous, It won’t be met! Unfortunately it won’t stop the I.D tide either.

  45. I’m curious now, do you think that it can’t be met, or that it won’t be met? Personally, I don’t think think it will be met, but I maintain that it’s hypothetically possible, and that if the scientific evidence really didn’t support evolution that we could expect it to be met many times over.

    Yes, I think you’re right. Hypothetically, it could be met. But I think it’s contingent on a valid scientific, naturalistic, theory to rival evolution, something that, frankly, has never popped up, not before or after Darwin. ALL rival theories, to date, have been religious in nature. That was precisely what marks evolution for destruction by the religious based opponent – that it is the first and only naturalistic explanation for our existence.

    (feel fee to fix my blockquotes on that last post. That’s what happens when you post with gin. 🙂 )

  46. OK, I forgot about Lamarkian evolution as a theory. So there was one other naturalistic theory, since mostly discredited.

  47. Also, Berlinski is a well known atheist, agnostic, skeptic (whatever they are called today) listen to him.
    Do I win the prize or are you going to define him out of the club.

    I need to know a little more about Berlinski. From what little I’ve read (the Wikipedia biography and this review of one of Dawkins books, I don’t see him a a scientist who has any particular theory to advance. Whether that disqualifies him or not, I’ll leave to Tobe.

    But, the man is a Fellow at the Discovery Institute. That immediately smacks of religion to me, because that organization exist for the sole purpose of driving a wedge between science and evolution, and inserting religion in it’s place. For me, that would disqualify him.

    The review above does not really review the book, but spends its time giving the authors opinion as to why evolution doesn’t make sense to him, citing the evolution of the eye as the main reason. It’s just a big argument from ignorance, which is not a positive assertion of an alternative to evolution, but a negative swiping from the sidelines.

    Bottom line is, he looks and smells like a creationist, but he denies this. So I’d like to see something in which he clearly sets forth his position on the subject. Saying that evolution is bunk does not very clearly say what your actual rival theory is.

  48. Geno asked “where Michael Behe posits the Intelligent designer as a western god”, so let me suggest a quote from p. 233 of Darwin’s Black Box:

    “The dilemma [for the scientific community] is that while one side of the elephant is labeled intelligent design, the other side might be labeled God.”

  49. Exterminator,
    I asked you this
    “Do you want to show me where Michael Behe posits the Intelligent designer as a western god?”

    and you quote back to me Behe’s denial that he says it; thanks for backing my position;
    “The most important difference [between modern intelligent design theory and Paley’s arguments] is that [intelligent design] is limited to design itself;” Which is exactly what is said previously – the design is empirical and the designer is supernatural AND IDers don’t care who that designer may be.

    As to Berlinshi’s comment are you actually positing that any atheist who acknowledges an historical Jesus (whether or not they believe the divinity stories or not) must turn in their atheist cards? Those kind of statements are no different that two astronomers agreeing to meet on the hill at sunrise.

  50. Spanish,
    I am on my way out to worship “big daddy in the sky”. I will put in a good word for all you guys 😉
    The difference between can’t and won’t will be determined by how well my Berlinsky answer goes.

    When I return, I will document even further how he meets each of the challenge points in the original Tobe article.

  51. and you quote back to me Behe’s denial that he says it; thanks for backing my position;
    “The most important difference [between modern intelligent design theory and Paley’s arguments] is that [intelligent design] is limited to design itself;” Which is exactly what is said previously – the design is empirical and the designer is supernatural AND IDers don’t care who that designer may be.

    Geno, that last been is false. One of the more telling facts about Behe’s position is not that he is able to say that the designer could be anything, not necessarily god. The more telling fact is that when he testified at the Dover trial, all of the people who supported the Dover school board, all of the them, where Christians, and vocalized their support in terms of evolution vs. their god. There were no ufologists picketing the trial, there were no discrete philosophers from Heavens Gate, they were all, to a man, Christians. The entire battle at trial was between religion and science. The opinion of the judge after 40 days of trial was that ID was a religious theory. The theory was artificially created after the Supreme Court nixed creationism from the public schools in 1987. That was proven at the trial. The theory then, on paper, stripped god from the equation, but only as a tactical tool, to get creationism back into the schools. Everyone, from Behe on down, believed the designer is God. Behe supported the theory. He testified on its behalf.

    Frankly, people who lie about their beliefs, and their motivations, are characteristically unchristian like.

  52. In short: It should be clear from everything on record about Michael Behe and David Berlinski that neither one of them meets tobe’s criterion 4. They are hired guns for various crypto-religious organizations paid for by superstitious fanatics and would-be theocrats — not folks who are interested in finding genuine alternative theories to evolution. (Remember: Follow the money.) Anyone suggesting otherwise likely has a similar religious axe to grind.

  53. Just to recap, point 3 of the challenge was:

    He must believe that the scientific evidence strongly indicates the intelligent design and active, spontaneous creation of all living things, exactly as we see them today.

    From what I’m reading, neither Behe nor Berlinski qualify on this requirement. Behe believes in common descent, and Berlinksi just won’t commit to what he does think happened. In this interview he is constantly asked to state his views and continually evades the question (and incidentally sounds like one of the most obnoxious people I’ve ever heard of). All he does is criticise “Darwinism”, and from what I gather, not very well.

  54. Well, Geno’s going to probably criticize me for changing the definitions, but it seems to me that anyone who claims to favor ID, and says they don’t have a religious agenda, is lying, or at best, masking their true beliefs in order to promote an agenda. The fact that someone can say something was intelligently designed, without showing the mechanisms of that design, and without pointing out who the designer is, says a lot about their intellectual honesty. Scratch their surfaces, and you find religion a hairbreadth down.

    If you push them hard enough to say how the design was created, i.e. its mechanism, they will ultimately admit to magic. If the bacterial flagellum, or the human eye, didn’t naturally move to it’s current state through a process of modifications based on selection of natural mutations, then how did they get to their current state? A true IDer would have to say it happened spontaneously, poof! {snap your finger}. That is the equivalent of magic. Magic is the equivalent of the supernatural. The supernatural is religion. All major religions have creation myths.

    Yes, that’s subjective on my part. But it is why I think it is hard, almost impossible, for someone to meet both the third and 4th parts of your challenge. They will be mutually exclusive to most IDers.

  55. Spanish,
    Behe has not lied about his beliefs. He is a christian, he is not a young earth creationist. However, he has said that that is not where he has taken ID. Just read the quote above – I didn’t post it, you guys did.

    Why can’t both be held? There are christian scientist who do believe in evolution (Francis Collins) why can he hold 2 views? Oh yeah, I forgot, because he agrees with you. Again, you make my point – evolution; my way or the highway.

  56. @ Spanish Inquisitor

    To be honest, personally, I don’t mind too much if the scientist does believe in a god who created everything magically, as long as it isn’t the god of any man made religion. You’re right that by denition, the believe in a creator/designer is a religous belief, but if it were a private, non-specific religious belief rather than one taken from an organised religion, that would be allowed by the challenge.

  57. Tobe,
    Berlinski does state that he agrees with some of the ID stuff (but I do think that he is too wrapped up in kicking Darwinist butt). But if he said even one more statement in favor of ID, you would say he was religious, which he categorically denies “Look, I have no religious convictions and no religious beliefs. ” – which is in part one of the same interview.

    http://www.idthefuture.com/2006/03/an_interview_with_david_berlin.html

    That is what I mean by how you have define real people away. #3 says that they have to support a creation myth and #4 says that they can not be apart of any organization that supports a creation myth.

    Damn it! I want my prize for solving the Tobe Challenge.

    You must admit, in these interviews, he does make me look like a Richard Dawkins fan.

    Interesting viewpoint of evolution

  58. Geno,

    Debating with you makes me lose the will to live.

    Even Dawkins in the Blind Watchmaker states that the universe has an appearance of design. So, at this point he is no different that the IDers – they both agree that there is an appearance of design. From that point they take their best guess at the conclusion.
    Dawkins, with no empirical proof just asserts that the universe was not designed (I think he does it from the fallacy of he just can’t believe it.)

    Unbelievable. Have you actually read The Blind Watchmaker? It is a 300+ page book presenting the evidence for gradual, cumulative selection – it is not a guess! “Fallacy of he just can’t believe it?”. No, Geno, this is what creation ‘scientists’ use in the other direction (it’s actually called the argument from incredulity) – “I can’t believe that it wasn’t designed, therefore it must have been designed”.

    Behe on the other hand says, if it looks designed, perhaps their is a designer – let’s look further – to which you say no.

    You can’t look further! There’s nothing left to say, no more work to be done, no more experiments that can be carried out. We don’t say no, we say present EVIDENCE. To be fair, Behe has attempted to do that through, for example, the bacterial flagellum, but his work has been thoroughly refuted. Unlike Dawkins’.

  59. Geno

    #3 says that they have to support a creation myth and #4 says that they can not be apart of any organization that supports a creation myth.

    #3 says they have to believe that evolution is false (based on the evidence, not faith) and that all living creatures were created exactly as they currently exist.

    #4 says that they cannot believe that the creator is the Christian god, nor the god of any other man made religion.

    I still don’t see why I’m asking for so much.

    If Berlinksi really says

    Look, I have no religious convictions and no religious beliefs.

    then he may believe that evolution is false, but he can’t believe that life was created. Which means he can’t meet the challenge.

  60. tobe:

    Why not give Geno his prize? He has declared himself the winner, so it must be true that he is. Don’t attempt to weasel out of rewarding him by making logical arguments or appealing to evidence. What are you, some kind of atheist?

  61. Behe has not lied about his beliefs. He is a christian, he is not a young earth creationist. However, he has said that that is not where he has taken ID. Just read the quote above – I didn’t post it, you guys did.

    I said it was subjective. I’m making a call based on his credibility. I think, given his background (raised RC in my hometown, like me, so I know what being raised RC here means) and the people he attracts as “followers”, his claim is anything but neutral. He can say he has no specific belief as to who the designer is all he wants, but those are just words and I just don’t believe him. Sorry.

    The fact that he, too, is a Fellow with the Discovery Institute is a very large red flag too. If his “science” was just that, science, he would disassociate himself from the DI. I also personally watched him testify before the PA house subcommittee on education, in July 2005, in favor of teaching ID in the schools, so, like a judge, I can make a credibility determination based on his live testimony.

    Why can’t both be held? There are christian scientist who do believe in evolution (Francis Collins) why can he hold 2 views? Oh yeah, I forgot, because he agrees with you. Again, you make my point – evolution; my way or the highway.

    No. It’s “evolution – put up or shut up”. Come up with the evidence, or stop whining.

    Ken Miller also believes in god. But he doesn’t believe in ID. Frankly, I have difficulty reconciling that, but he doesn’t. More power to him. His biology text book is taught in a very large percentage of high schools, so I would think most Christians would be glad to have his ideas taught to their children.

    But I’m getting off track.(Sorry Tobe.)

  62. Tobe,
    Surely you don’t believe what you just said “but he can’t believe that life was created.” Even you believe that life was created, even if you believe the myth about the comet ice and the electrical charge.

    See how far you are back pedaling to avoid giving me the prize (which is admitting your challenge was met )- now you are saying that life is uncreated which would make it as old as the universe – which no one believes except you.

    The circle gets smaller as you redefine science – good job! 🙂

  63. Spanish,
    Since you and Behe have a similar background that can’t be shaken nor discarded “(raised RC in my hometown, like me, so I know what being raised RC here means)” – I should look at your comments with as much suspicion as you look at his?

    So, anyone raised in your hometown as a Roman Catholic cannot be trusted to tell the truth?? Hmmm…. very telling.

  64. Ah, Geno, I’ve “conversed” with you enough to know better than to give you an opportunity like that.

    You know quite well that by “created” I meant created by an intelligent, conscious being. Now that I’ve clarified that, perhaps you’d like to address my comment again.

  65. Geno

    Spanish,
    Since you and Behe have a similar background that can’t be shaken nor discarded “(raised RC in my hometown, like me, so I know what being raised RC here means)” – I should look at your comments with as much suspicion as you look at his?

    So, anyone raised in your hometown as a Roman Catholic cannot be trusted to tell the truth?? Hmmm…. very telling.

    For the millionth time, read what people actually say and deal with what they actually say. Don’t rephrase it in your own terms to make it what you want it to be. Go back and read again what the Spanish Inquisitor actually said.

  66. Tobe,
    Watch this attached video – Berlinski says very clearly that as far back we see dogs as always dogs and on and on.

  67. tobe,
    I quoted him exactly, he made the point that Behe was raised RC and that must be the cause of his deficient intellect or truthfulness. Why does it only apply to Behe – why not someone else raised in the same environment? Let’s see, like Spanish.

    How do I know that Spanish overcame his terrible background of being raised RC in that same town? I have seen no evidence.

  68. Spanish, I think you should rescind your anecdotal argument about Behe’s education. It doesn’t really matter how he was brought up; what matters is what he believes now. It’s clear from his own words and actions as an adult that he doesn’t meet tobe’s criteria.

  69. @ Geno

    he made the point that Behe was raised RC and that must be the cause of his deficient intellect or truthfulness.

    You’re even doing it now! You’re changing what he said while defending yourself against a charge of changing what he said. Let’s take a look, shall we?

    I’m making a call based on his credibility. I think, given his background (raised RC in my hometown, like me, so I know what being raised RC here means) and the people he attracts as “followers”, his claim is anything but neutral.

    The emphasis is mine. How do you get from “anything but neutral” to “deficient intellect or truthfulness”?

    He then went on to say,

    The fact that he, too, is a Fellow with the Discovery Institute is a very large red flag too. If his “science” was just that, science, he would disassociate himself from the DI. I also personally watched him testify before the PA house subcommittee on education, in July 2005, in favor of teaching ID in the schools, so, like a judge, I can make a credibility determination based on his live testimony.

    Which you ignored.

    Geno, I’m serious. If you can’t deal with what commenters actually say, and have to resort to rewriting peoples’ statements for them into what you think they meant and then attempting to deal with that instead, then don’t waste your time and everybody else’s.

  70. So, are the claims of Spanish anything but neutral since his background is the same?

    “How do you get from “anything but neutral” to “deficient intellect or truthfulness”?”
    Spanish (or perhaps the Exterminator) claimed that he lied about his beliefs. And since you all say that he cannot do science properly you must think that he is deficient intellectually.

    So, as you can see, I have dealt with EXACTLY what they said.

    “The fact that he, too, is a Fellow with the Discovery Institute is a very large red flag too.”
    Wait, Wait – I have a good one for you – isn’t that a fallacy of “guilt by association”?

  71. Geno,

    You’re still doing it. It’s a compulsion. I’m not even sure you realise you’re doing it.

    We write comments. If you don’t understand them, tell us, and we’ll try to explain them and make them clearer to you. Please try to stop interpreting what we say.

  72. Tobe,
    Are you denying that it was said that Behe lied?

    And is not guilt by association one of your famous fallacies?

    So what is it I don’t understand?

    Besides you are just trying to get out of admitting that I met your challenge.
    1.) I gave you a genuine scientist.
    2.) He absolutely fulfills this one. (watch the 2nd video and read the interviews.)”He must reject the general theory of evolution by means of mutation and natural selection. He must believe that the scientific evidence does not support this theory.
    3.) The last video shows that he believes that the species are the same today as they always have been – he said that the evidence shows that dogs have always been dogs and that bacteria have always been. Like you he believes they were created (since they could not have always been) which just leaves created at some point.
    4.) He has no religious affiliation and states clearly that he has no religious beliefs.

    All 4 have been met – I don’t expect you to agree with his point of view, but you do have to admit that David Berlinski meets your challenge. (although I know you won’t admit it.)

    I need to run. I am putting on a birthday party for my daughter’s 33rd birthday. Now her in – laws do look somewhat like monkeys- perhaps I will investigate further!! 😉
    3.)

  73. “Please try to stop interpreting what we say.”

    But, isn’t that exactly what everyone in this thread has done? Someone says something, and then the person who disagrees answers from what they feel that person said and meant. Isn’t that what has been done to the quotes from Behe? He said something…those who are from the other side reinterpret his words through what they believe about his background and associations, casting doubt on what he has actually said.

  74. It comes down to this: Behe is an associate of the Discovery Institute, and he subscribes to the Christian God as the cause of intelligent design. Game over. Behe doesn’t qualify.

    Next.

  75. I actually agree with a lot of what Geno has to say…I would, however, contend that the antagonism that comes through in his writing leads to barbs being thrown back and forth, which doesn’t really lead to open discussions and calm responses.

  76. evanescent,
    You must have been asleep – we never offered up Behe.
    I offered up David Berlinski

  77. So, are the claims of Spanish anything but neutral since his background is the same?

    Since when is my credibility at issue? This is about scientists who may or may not meet Tobe’s challenge. Who cares whether I fit the criteria?

    Even if it was, you wouldn’t t point to my RC upbringing to claim I’m an atheist. My upbringing bears no light on the issue at hand, unlike the same upbringing being extremely reflective of Behe’s views.

    Your’s is nothing but an ad hominem attack on me. Once, I’d overlook it. But you consistently deflect proper questions and issues, by rephrasing statements in a nonsensical manner, and then using them to prove a point that no one has raised. In my book, that makes you a troll. I don’t use that term lightly, because I love the give and take of a debate, on any issue. But you’re not interested in debating the issues, so have fun talking to yourself, Geno. I’m no longer interested.

  78. Geno,

    I’ll hold my hands up and give it to you for Berlinski. Well done 🙂

  79. @tobe, Spanish Inquisitor, evanescent, and … um … myself:

    Why are we engaging Geno in debate here? I could understand throwing ideas back and forth with a rational representative of another viewpoint in order to subject those ideas to hard criticism. That technique is, indeed, a useful tool in honing one’s arguments. But Geno’s comments are based on lies, half-truths, misrepresentations, unfounded assertions, and setting up straw men. He has learned his lessons well from the leaders of the various theocratic movements of the world.

    I applaud tobe for opening his comments section to one and all. Obviously, given tobe’s laudably free-speech approach to his forum, Geno has the right to state his views and opinions here on “A Load of Bright.” Welcome, Geno, and keep on keeping on.

    But why do we feel compelled to answer every ridiculous assertion the guy makes? The Tobe Challenge is clear and concise. Geno can post all the comments he wants, but he can’t meet the challenge, and he can’t suggest anyone ELSE who can meet the challenge. I’m inclined to agree wth SI that such a person is nonexistent. But even if he is “hypothetically possible,” as tobe argues, Geno ain’t him.

    tobe, I refer you once again to my suggested addendum to your challenge. Incorporating that would easily eliminate both Behe and Berlinski.

    Enough said. Really!

  80. But, isn’t that exactly what everyone in this thread has done? Someone says something, and then the person who disagrees answers from what they feel that person said and meant. Isn’t that what has been done to the quotes from Behe? He said something…those who are from the other side reinterpret his words through what they believe about his background and associations, casting doubt on what he has actually said.

    That’s a valid comment,, Liza. Unlike Geno’s. He’s not interpreting what we say, he changing what we say into something else, then knocking it down as if we’d said it.

    Seriously, what does my RC background have to do with interpreting my claim that Behe is untruthful, or at best, disingenuous? Sure, it colors my perception of Behe, but I said that from the start. I think he lies when he says what he says, because we share the same background.

    But now, according to Geno, since we share the same background, I lie too? I don’t claim he lies because he’s an RC, I claim he lies because he’s protecting his RC beliefs, which I’m very familiar with. There’s a big difference there. Geno knows that, but chooses to twist it around so that it looks like I said something else.

  81. E., I agree. ’nuff said.

  82. Exterminator,

    I do wish with hindsight that I’d added your condition, but I didn’t, and as far as I can tell, Berlinski meets the challenge as I set it. He has a post doc in Molecular Biology from Princeton (condition 1), he clearly rejects the evidence for evolution (condition 2), he rejects macro-evolution which can only lead to him seeing all species being created as they’ve always been (condition 3) and he claims to have no religious beliefs (condition 4, he could be lying but I think we have to take him at his word for this discussion). I still think he talks rubbish, and I’m still less than pleased with how Geno has conducted himself in this debate (as he has in others) but I can’t see how he fails to meet the challenge.

  83. tobe:

    If you return to my comment with its — admittedly short — quote from Berlinski, I think you’ll be able, reasonably, to question his lack of “religious beliefs.” Excuse me for reprinting the relevant portion of my comment here.

    Note: Berlinski is speaking about Greek mathematicians, and sets the Pythagoreans in a time frame.] The burden of those impossibly distant centuries now disappears. It is roughly six centuries before the birth of Christ. The Greeks are just about to elbow their way into all the corridors of culture.

    Now, I’ve never met an atheist, agnostic, skeptic (whatever you call them today) who would casually use the phrase: “It is roughly six centuries before the birth of Christ.” That’s a blindly accepting religious reference. The author could as easily have said, “It is roughly six centuries before Christ is said to have been born,” or “It is roughly six centuries before the birth of Christianity,” or “It is roughly six centuries before the alleged birth of Christ,” or even, if he accepts the historical validity of the guy, “It is roughly six centuries before the birth of a Jew named Jesus, whom Christians believe to have been the son of god.” But that isn’t what he wrote.

    Granted, a short phrase is not conclusive proof of anything. But a person’s choice of words sometimes reveals worlds about him or her. I think Berlinski’s own sentence entitles us to question his assertion that he has no religious beliefs.

  84. @ The Exterminator

    I think you made an interesting point and I agonised over it for a while, but I don’t think it’s a strong enough case to counteract Berlinski saying “Look, I have no religious convictions and no religious beliefs.”. Sure, he could be lying, but he’s talking about his private beliefs, so we’d never have any way of knowing. I’m trying to be as fair as possible, and I think I’ve got to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    This was an interesting exercise, but whenever I extend this challenge in future debates, I will definitely include your condition (and credit you).

  85. Tobe, what exactly does Geno get as a prize?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Does it involve beer? 😉

  86. Geno should get a copy of the bible, autographed by its authors.

  87. To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about a prize (probably because I didn’t seriously expect the challenge to be met), but since you mention it, I’ll email Geno one of my famous Beer Vouchers.

  88. I thought that the prize was going to be a picture of “the common ancestor” – It doesn’t even need to be autographed 😉
    Grandpa & Grandma Apeman 🙂

  89. Tobe,
    I wanted to also give a public thank you for the beer voucher. My brother and I do some personal brewing ourselves.

    I would like to offer up the Budweiser girls as proof of special creation. I think there is much more evidence that they were created by God rather than having arrived via the great apes! Study their picture closely 😉

  90. Geno,

    I would like to offer up the Budweiser girls as proof of special creation. I think there is much more evidence that they were created by God rather than having arrived via the great apes!

    That’s another fallacy – false dilemma this time. You missed the third option, advanced photo-editing software! 😉

    Study their picture closely

    Oh, I have, believe me!

  91. I realize the challenge is over and Geno won but, as to this statement

    “I would like to offer up the Budweiser girls as proof of special creation. I think there is much more evidence that they were created by God rather than having arrived via the great apes! Study their picture closely”

    Lordy, how I wish I could take Geno on a time machine ride back 25,000 years at a time, for a million years. At each stop we’d check out the “hotties” from that time period. I’d love to see the look on his face as we got further and further back and see if he thought that a “creator” could possibly have produced this batch of gorgeous women and hear his explanation for why the males of each period were as thoroughly convinced as he is now, that the females are evidence of a magnificent intelligence. Needless to say, if I had my time machine, this debate would be over.

  92. @ John B.

    Great idea! It would be wonderful, and I would want to come along for the ride, after a quick trip to the bookies, of course 😉

  93. I can think of a couple of other things I’d like to do as well. We could start with a quick stop back in 2000 and have a little pep talk with Al Gore. Stop off in ’68 and prevent a couple of assassinations, and one in ’63. Hell, by the time we get home, my old saying “it’s another day in paradise” might be the real thing!

  94. I think the challenge is a good one, but you probably ought to have specified explicitly a scientist alive today. That someone 50 years ago, before all the evidence from genetics clinched things, entertained doubts about evolution is something different than someone doing so today, with our current state of knowledge.

  95. James McGrath.
    I do believe that David Berlinski is still alive and kicking. He is only in his mid 60s – young in evolutionary terms 😉


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