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Two Evolutionists Inadvertently Demolish Evolution

Cornelius Hunter

evolution

Yesterday we saw how, in a new paper, evolutionists Warren Allmon and Robert Ross reformulate the argument for evolution from homologous structures. The paper makes several mistakes, but is important because it is a rare case of evolutionists (i) recognizing the religion in evolutionary thinking, and (ii) trying to do something about it.

In this case the religion is in the claim that God would not have created non-optimal homologies (such as vestigial structures). Allmon and Ross attempt to remove the religion by restating the claim as: God did not have to create such homologies. It is good that evolutionists are finally recognizing the religious aspect of their argument, after having been in denial for so many years. But Allmon and Ross’s solution fails on several counts.

The first failure of their solution is that it strips the power of the argument. The traditional religious arguments (i.e., God would not create those structures) at least had the virtue of providing a strong argument for evolution. Granted it was a religious argument, and granted one had to agree with that particular religion. And granted it ignored the problems of process and pattern (more below on that). And granted it turned evolution into, as Elliott Sober hinted, a “Lewis Carroll world in which down is up,” because the argument required evidence that is unlikely on evolution. The more unlikely, the better. Such is the logic of evolution’s religion. But after all those caveats, at least it provided a strong argument for evolution.

With design refuted, evolution had to be true, no matter how many problems it had. But with Allmon and Ross’s reformulation, design is not refuted. Now the advantage for evolution is not that the alternative is false or even highly unlikely, but that the alternative does not specify what we observe whereas evolution does. Allmon and Ross triumphantly conclude that their new formulation is a powerful argument for evolution. They apparently think this reformulation is merely a minor tweak, and that their new argument is just as strong as the traditional argument. It isn’t.

There is no free lunch. What Allmon and Ross fail to understand is that this is a much weaker argument. But it gets worse.

The second failure of Allmon and Ross’s solution is that it never did get rid of the religion as they had hoped. Allmon and Ross naively assume that the claim God may or may not create these homologies is merely an obvious point of fact. This is a deep subject that Allmon and Ross have rushed into, but suffice it to say that it is not at all clear that God can go with either world. Leibniz undoubtedly would disagree. The Lutheran polymath would argue that because of His perfection and other attributes, God cannot just create any old world. The bottom line, about which Allmon and Ross are blissfully naïve, is that like it or not, claims about God are religious.

But it gets worse. Much worse.

Not only did Allmon and Ross utterly misapprehend and expose the homology argument, they have, in fact, now demolished evolutionary theory. Remember, with their reformulation it becomes utterly crucial that evolution predicts what we observe. In other words, evolution must predict the pattern of similarities and differences we observe across the species. This is because their new formulation was that while design can explain a common descent pattern or other patterns, evolution is narrowly restricted to the common descent pattern.

With that the two Harvard-trained Epicureans just inadvertently blew up evolution. This is because what we actually observe is not the common descent pattern.

The actual comparisons between the species have contradicted the common descent pattern over and over. It is, as we have documented so many times, not even close. If evolution predicts the common descent pattern, then by modus tollens, evolution is false.

Photo: Darwin statue, Shrewsbury, by ceridwen [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Cross-posted at Darwin’s God.