Luskin: Humans did evolve
By Pim van Meurs
Posted January 23, 2006
On Evolution News (sic)Luskin shows once again why Intelligent Design is scientifically vacuous
Sure, they just finished decoding the chimp genome but it actually lessened
our knowledge of human/chimp similarities rather than upping it. Similarities
could easily be the result of "common design" rather than common descent—where
a designer wanted to design organisms on a similar blueprint and thus used
similar genes in both organisms. This doesn't challenge ID.
In other words, our ignorance (or perhaps better phrased Luskin's
unfamiliarity with science) seems to be evidence of Intelligent Design?
Common descent requires nested hierarchies, common design
has no such requirements and thus the claim that ID can
accomodate the evidence is an ad hoc argument. Unless one has independent
understanding of the "Designer's" this argument fails to be scientific.
Of course, even if common descent were true, this would not challenge ID
since ID could equally well accomodate that the "Designer" front-loaded
evolution. In other words, with Intelligent Design, anything goes.
What is truely interesting is how Luskin seems to break with the Big Tent
tradition and seems to accept that the similarities between human and chimps is
And he also seems to ignore how evolutionary theory predicted the existence
of a fused chromosome. We may excuse Luskin for not being too familiar with
evolutionary science but as PZ Myers has documented there is much wrong with the ID argument
presented by Luskin.
Marvel how scientists have discovered how
"By comparing the human and chimp genomes, we can see the process of
evolution clearly in the changes (in DNA) since we diverged from our common
ancestor," said Robert Waterston, director of genome sciences at the
University of Washington and lead author of a report on the project in today's
edition of the journal Nature.
They identified a gene
... known as FOXP2, that may help explain why we talk and chimps don't. An
earlier study of a British family with an inherited, severe deficit in speech
discovered the cause of the disorder -- an altered form of FOXP2.
"It turns out chimps have the same (genetic) sequence as that family with
the speech deficit," Waterston said. Comparing the human and chimp genomes, he
said, shows that the speech-friendly form of FOXP2 really took hold in humans
some 150,000 years ago.
Or how researchers found that
New research provides more evidence that chimpanzee brains are human-like
in terms of the links between brain asymmetry, language and right- or
Luskin continues however to state that "Those interested in an analysis of
the many differences between humans and chimps from a pro-ID perspective should
read Reflections on Human Origins by William Dembski. (PCID, Volume 4.1, July
I encourage our readers to explore Dembski's 'perspectives' as it furthers my claim that
Intelligent Design is scientifically vacuous.
Design theorists have yet to reach a consensus on these matters.
Nevertheless, they have reached a consensus about the indispensability of
intelligence in human origins. In particular, they argue that an evolutionary
process unguided by intelligence cannot adequately account for the remarkable
intellectual gifts of a William James Sidis or the remarkable moral goodness
of a Mother Teresa.
And they still deny with a straight face that ID is not about religion? Just
check Google for "chimp human similarities"...
Of course, Luskin in his posting misses the point completely namely by
spinning a strawman
While the pieces did indeed cite examples of evolution, these did not
present evidence that Neo-Darwinism can account for things like new body
plans, novel biological functions, and real biological novelty.
A quick reading of the article quoted by Luskin shows that
Amid this outpouring of results, 2005 stands out as a banner year for
uncovering the intricacies of how evolution actually proceeds. Concrete genome
data allowed researchers to start pinning down the molecular modifications
that drive evolutionary change in organisms from viruses to primates.
Painstaking field observations shed new light on how populations diverge to
form new species—the mystery of mysteries that baffled Darwin himself.
Ironically, also this year some segments of American society fought to dilute
the teaching of even the basic facts of evolution. With all this in mind,
Science has decided to put Darwin in the spotlight by saluting several
dramatic discoveries, each of which reveals the laws of evolution in
The lack of scientific comprehension by so many Intelligent Design activists
is deplorable but can easily be addressed by strenghtening the science
education, not by weakening it. However, I can understand why ID activists would
support weakening the scientific education.
And let me finally address the vacuous claim by Luskin that
Neo-Darwinism can [not] account for things like new body plans, novel
biological functions, and real biological novelty.
Of course, the evidence presented was not meant to show this. That Darwinian
theory however can explain new body plans, novel biological functions and real
biological novelty is well supported by the evidence. But it is that kind of
evidence which ID proponents apparantly want to exclude from our science
Originally posted to the Panda's Thumb weblog.