A creationist professor of evolutionary biology in England

From earlier this year.

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Define “creationist”.

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Yes, I see the name pop up in some forums. I don’t recall his angle on ID.

I believe we’ve talked about him before:

He’s also managed to sneak this poorly-disguised piece of ID propaganda onto a website affiliated with Nature:

Such genes are often known as “orphan genes” – orphans because they appear to be lacking evolutionary parents. A more precise term is “taxonomically restricted genes” as this allows us to specify the taxonomic level at which they are unique. Some of the 9,604 genes we found to be unique to ash will be unique to the species, some unique to the genus, and some to the family. On further research, some may turn out not to be orphans at all.

Wow, it’s a nested hierarchy. It’s almost like they evolve in number, gradually over generations, and speciations.


He seems to think God magically zapped them into existence out of nothing in one individual, and the nested hierarchy results from other organisms being descended from this one individual. I think that would still be consistent with his story.

Since the paper below was published 5 years before Buggs’s, I can only presume he and Paul Nelson attempted some lame hand-waving to dismiss it in their book chapter in order to maintain their position that “orphan genes” are some inscrutable mystery that can only be explained by invoking magic. But maybe they weren’t even aware of it?


For the Record, the yellow star put on my moniker YEC has two many points. It should be IDC Intentional Design Creationist. IDC The point that God is Intelligent or that his work is Intentional could both be said. IIDC


Better now? :slight_smile:

Thank you. Now is a Agnostic Moderator a person that is up in the air about moderation? LoL. Is it real or is it not real!


OK, now that’s funny! :laughing:

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The problem with discussions about Intelligent Design is that while I understand that many ID claims are problematic, I frequently find the responses to them to be unsatisfactory.

When I see someone challenging ID, I expect them to address one question and one question alone. Specifically: what facts are they not getting straight, and why?

Are they quote mining? If so, what do the original quotes say that they aren’t telling us? Are they misrepresenting evidence? If so, what evidence are they misrepresenting, and how? Are they fudging measurements? If so, what measurements are they fudging, and how? Is their approach to science in general sloppy and indisciplined? If so, how?

I also expect their views to be represented accurately and fairly. For this reason I don’t like seeing ID proponents described as “creationists” – it paints a picture of them as hard line Answers in Genesis fanatics teaching their students that fossils-are-used-to-date-rocks-and-rocks-are-used-to-date-fossils. And yes, I know, ID had its origins in some kind of creationism or other, but it’s still misleading because not all ID proponents take that kind of line (and in fact, as far as I can make out, most of them don’t).

Also, I really don’t like seeing challenges to ID that harp on about their religious motivations. If their religious motivations are giving them cognitive biases that are causing them to make mistakes or overlook gaps in their logic, just state what those mistakes and gaps in their logic are. By focusing on their religious motivations rather than on whether or not they are getting their facts straight and whether or not they are being sloppy in their research, their critics are making their own objections a matter of religion, not science as well. Basically, it’s fighting propaganda with propaganda.

Finally, ID critics need to leave Kitzmiller v Dover and the First Amendment out of it, especially in forums with an international audience. I understand that these things have historical and political relevance to the subject, but regardless of the merits of Kitzmiller and the US Constitution, they are not the ultimate arbiters of reality, and in fact, for those of us who are not based in the USA, they are completely irrelevant.


I agree completely, with one exception:

Hard to be sure, since it’s unclear what population “ID proponents” are supposed to be. If we go by the Dover school board, for example, most of them do appear to be YECs. If we go by the famous IDers who have written books and such, you have a better case. While some are clearly theistic evolutionists (Behe, e.g.), others are ambiguous but seem to lean toward OEC (Meyer, Wells, Luskin), and a few are unambiguously YEC (Nelson). My claim would be that OEC should usually be called creationist while theistic evolutionism should not. ID as the grass roots level is clearly creationist, and at the top level mostly so with a sprinkling of outliers like Behe and Buggs. So while the title of this thread, I would agree, is incorrect, the attachment of the label to ID in general is defensible, in the sense that a randomly selected ID proponent is considerably more likely to be a creationist than not.


No, sorry, that’s just not true. There is no other proper label that describes the fact that they all share some sort of creationist beliefs. Your view that the term creationist necessarily implies a belief in a young Earth and the independent creation of all species isn’t really true, at least to me, and the fact is that essentially all ID proponents do share the belief that something about life was created, be that the first cell, eukaryotes, and/or irreducibly complex structures and pathways.

Usually there is total agreement from them that at least the first cellular form of life on Earth was directly created(I don’t believe a single counterexample exists). The vast, vast majority reject common descent (so that there must have been multiple independent creation events), particularly of things like single and multi-cellular life, prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and “the animal phyla of the Cambrian”. Most think Homo sapiens was independently created apart from the rest of life.
I think there are actually only two ID proponents who accept universal common descent, that is Michael Behe and Michael Denton, and to be honest I’m not even sure on whether they even accept that common descent is universal. Do they? They don’t seem to spend all that much time trying to explain the reasons for these inferences. Rather every time the topic is broached with them they seem to want to just skip over it by paying the most bland lip-service to it.

And then there’s the fact that the pretty much universal denial of methods of historical inference in biology, that is phylogenetic methods, puts them basically on-par with presuppositional YEC believers.

Rather than deny that we can infer old ages with radioactivity, superposition, or bracketing, they deny we can infer gradual evolutionary changes over those same timescales with phylogenetic trees. It’s still a blatantly irrational denial of the reality that historical inferences can be made from the data. That makes them fundamentalist creationists, even if they don’t believe the Earth or universe is young. ‘Creationist’ is and remains the proper umbrella-term they all fit under. They believe life was created, at least once, and mostly several times independently, that various systems and structures of life were also independently created, and that methods used to construct evolutionary histories of these systems are question-begging “just-so stories”.

No, they are creationists.

I will agree with you though that merely dismissing their ideas as being conceived through religious motives (even if true) does nothing to refute or argue against them. The motive for coming up with an idea does not make it false.


I agree, but probably not for the same reasons. Far too many would-be critics jump into a scientific counter argument when there is no scientific question being asked. Any such answer is addressing the wrong question, and therefore unsatisfactorily or simply wrong.
If the question involves an undefined and unknowable designer that is indistinguishable from a supernatural divine creator, then it is fully equivalent to a religious proposition.

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Not true. Richard Buggs is another. It seems a distortion of language to call them creationists.

I haven’t seen any such denial. Can you quote something?

Well if he does that’s 3 then.

I don’t see why. They believe either that life, or at the very least parts of life, was independently created. The first cell, bacterial flagella, or similar things.

You must be joking John. All of their output REEKS of this view.

I can’t quote them making the statements that unambigously, but it follows from their writing generally. Stephen Meyer’s “Darwin’s Doubt” is an example of a piece of literature that implies how basically the entire field of molecular taxonomy is some sort of fantasy. Buggs has written articles that seem designed to support that same sentiment. We had a thread about that not too long ago:

For other examples of this sort of indirect denial of these methods there’s how Michael Behe has characterized and responded to the work of Joe Thornton with ancestral sequence reconstruction.

It may not be true for you, but it most certainly is true for some people. Context and tone are also important: when a hardline atheist such as Jerry Coyne is belabouring the point about ID being “religion, not science,” and putting the term “creationist” in a headline, it does have strong overtones of trying to put them in the same bracket as young Earth Answers in Genesis fanboys.

That’s the problem with the word “creationist.” It’s ambiguous, and some people exploit that ambiguity. In much the same way as ID proponents themselves often use the word “Darwinist.” For that reason, it needs to be qualified.

The problem isn’t that they reject common descent, but that they obfuscate where they stand on common descent. That’s why they’re so fond of the word “Darwinism.” It gives them latitude to accept universal common ancestry (i.e. merely thinking that it is incomplete as an explanation for biological diversity as opposed to outright incorrect) while playing to the crowd that don’t.

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Michael Behe’s entire book “Devolution” is in effect a denial of historical inference. He doesn’t state it that directly, but that is what follows from his argument. He takes, in effect, the observation of “reductive” evolution in laboratory experiments to outweigh the entire fields of comparative genetics and paleontology.

Evolution is and can only ever be reductive in form, by destroying and removing functions and reducing complexity, and the fact that we can show on a phylogeny that the opposite has happened in history is, well, apparently not worth anything. If the evidence shows that some parts were added on some lineage, well that just means that’s when and where the designer intervened to specially create them. That IS a de facto denial of historical inference.

Meyer is not one of the people in the request. He’s almost certainly a creationist of some kind, OEC perhaps. Buggs seems merely to have exaggerated the impact of horizontal transfer and lineage sorting, not doubted the efficacy of phylogenetic analysis. In fact he mentions, with apparent approval, some of the programs that try to deal with lineage sorting.