How Discover Magazine Carefully Keeps Readers in the Dark About Intelligent Design

Discover Magazine has a penchant for misleading its readers about intelligent design (ID). Last year it touted Ken Miller’s response to me on Michael Behe’s arguments for irreducible complexity in blood clotting as an “intelligent design fail,” even though Ken Miller had blatantly misrepresented Behe’s arguments. (Miller still hasn’t replied to my refutation of his arguments.) Now, in its October 2010 issue, Discover Magazine was able to combine multiple errors about the nature of ID science and law in one single paragraph. Quite an accomplishment! Here’s the statement:

The Darwinian Basis of the Prokaryote-to-Eukaryote Transition Collapses

The question of the evolution of eukaryotic cells from prokaryotic ones has long been a topic of heated discussion in the scientific literature. It is generally thought that eukaryotes arose by some prokaryotic cells being engulfed and assimilated by other prokaryotic cells. Called endosymbiotic theory, there is some empirical basis for this. For example, mitochondria contain a single circular genome, carry out transcription and translation within its compartment, use bacteria-like enzymes/components, and replicate independently of host cell division and in a manner akin to bacterial binary fission. Despite such evidence, however, when assessing the causal sufficiency of unguided processes, they — predictably — come up short. After all, it is all-too-easy to lapse into a long-discredited Lamarckian “inheritance-of-acquired-characteristics” mentality. It Read More ›

Correcting Kirk Fithzhugh’s Misunderstandings About Intelligent Design

In my prior post, I noted that for years I’ve owned a graduate assignment on evolutionary classification by LA County Museum of Natural History scientist Kirk Fitzhugh. After completing this “Classification” project, he went on to earn his PhD in biology and today is Curator of Polychaetes at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC). Fitzhugh was part of the internal discussions at NHMLAC that I’ve been writing about, in which participants at one point planned to tell the California Science Center (CSC), “We urge you to cancel this event.” Fitzhugh, however, is not nearly so private about his disagreement with ID as some of his NHMLAC colleagues. It’s important to note that Dr. Fitzhugh should have every Read More ›

Meet Pakicetus, the Terrestrial Mammal BioLogos Calls a “Whale”

In a previous post, we noted some fish-related problems with BioLogos’s page discussing the fossil record. But these aren’t the only marine mistakes on the page. BioLogos says regarding the evolution of whales: Recently, a 52-million-year-old whale fossil, Pakicetus, was found in Pakistan. It was clearly a small, wolf-sized whale, but it did not have the characteristic fat-pad, a structure that allows the whale’s jaw vibrations to be used for hearing. Also, its teeth were much like those of the terrestrial animals already thought to be related to whales. Aside from the fact that Pakicetus was discovered in 1983 (not exactly “recently”), there’s quite a bit more that should be said about this fossil. The claim that Pakicetus is a Read More ›

Something’s Fishy With BioLogos’s Description of Fish Fossil Record

In a prior post, I discussed how BioLogos’s website has a page titled “What does the fossil record show?” which is conspicuously missing any mention of the Cambrian explosion, or any other explosions in the history of life. The page also has other errors and omissions. In a section titled “Evidence of Gradual Change,” it states: “At 500 million years ago, ancient fish without jawbones surface.” Actually, the first known fossils of fish are from the lower Cambrian, meaning that their date is probably closer to 530 m.y.a., near the beginning of the Cambrian period. A Nature paper reporting this find was titled “Lower Cambrian vertebrates from south China.” It noted: “These finds imply that the first agnathans may have Read More ›