A Response to David Gelernter’s Attack on Evolution

What is the basis of your authority over Brian?

The argument from bad design. @swamidass would probably not be impressed by this.

One of the largest disconnections between theory and observation is the assumption that highly coordinated, specified changes in evolution could occur without coordinated, specified mutations. For instance, vocalization in humans and songbirds demonstrates remarkable similarities, including the reengineering of genes with the same amino acid substitutions. Therefore, major transformations do require specific, coordinated mutations:

Another example is the needed specificity in evolving new structures. For instance, the generation of a vertebrate lens requires an entire genetic network to direct its development.

The network requires highly specific changes. For instance, a gene launches multiple other genes through a specific transcription factor binding to TF binding sites in specific genes.

Bechly seems to think it’s anagenesis or bust for some reason

And punctuated anagenesis at that.

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My ability to read the paper Brian has incorrectly referenced multiple times. Read the post where I explain this Bill. It’s been linked.

Your “therefore” doesn’t actually follow. Straight up non-sequitur.


Seem to misrepresenting this paper.
They say:
“This made the problem of the Cambrian Explosion even more acute: 550 million years ago there were no animals at all, and 537 million years ago there were already fully developed crown-group arthropods like trilobites with sophisticated compound eyes, exoskeletons, and articulated legs. Does anybody seriously believe that such an enormous transition within 13 million years is a piece of cake? Gelernter is right to be skeptical, and mainstream science supports his arguments.”

From the paper they cite:
These constraints come from the trace fossil record, which show the first evidence for total group Euarthropoda (e.g., Cruziana , Rusophycus ) at around 537 Ma. A deep Precambrian root to the euarthropod evolutionary lineage is disproven by a comparison of Ediacaran and Cambrian lagerstätten. BSTs from the latest Ediacaran Period (e.g., Miaohe biota, 550 Ma) are abundantly fossiliferous with algae but completely lack animals, which are also missing from other Ediacaran windows, such as phosphate deposits (e.g., Doushantuo, 560 Ma). This constrains the appearance of the euarthropod stem lineage to no older than 550 Ma.
So are they just ignoring the existence of stem Euarthropods? They certainly were around 550mya. They are making it sound like nothing then all the sudden crown groups.

Also, I disagree with a lot in that paper they cite.

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So your opinion is you understand the material better than Brian does. That does not mean he is wrong. You are labeling him as being wrong yet it is just your opinion.

Also, I’m a little behind on Cambrian dating but isn’t 550ma Precambrian… soooo

Yes, that is my opinion. Demonstrably so. But the falsity of his claim is not contingent on my opinion. It is contingent on the contents of the Tawfik paper Brian cites to support his incorrect claim. But it does not support his claim as I have shown.

It is not merely the fact that I seem to understand the material better than him that makes him wrong. It’s that I SHOW him to be wrong. Read the link Bill.

What if he simply said that the same mutational combination combination in birds and humans is evidence for coordinated mutations given we observe the same changes in two different animals.

Mr Cole…

This paragraph has also thrown up redflags:

“What about the other Ediacaran trace fossils? All gone. A seminal study published in 2016 experimentally demonstrated that these Ediacaran trace fossils can be easily reproduced as artifacts of stirred up bacterial mats that covered the Ediacaran sea floors.”

I remember reading that paper and I’m
99% sure that is not the conclusion that paper reached. I reached out to the author and am awaiting his response before I really delve into this.

But here are two papers published two years after the study Bechly and company refer to. Showing evidence of bilaterian animals in the Ediacaran.


Update: they are totally misrepresenting that paper. The paper did not conclude that all ediacaran trace fossils are ruled out. Only that a closer look is required and alternative explanations, like the ones put forward by the author, need to be ruled out before assigning them to biology. This is from
The author. Reproduced with his permission: “We need to look for 3D trace fossils (i.e,. penetrate into the sediment) that should be a stronger indicator of animals.”
This describes some trace fossils in the edicaran. See the second paper I link to! So Bechly and company are making grand claims the data does not support. Also the author was very humble and said, “ I have not followed up much on that topic since I published that paper…I cannot add much more since I know more about sediments and less about animals.”

So maybe the ID folks should slow down a bit promoting that paper.


He is making a stronger conclusion than you think is warranted by the data. You could simply express that thought. Again your opinion but I agree more evidence is probably prudent here.

There are no specified changes in evolution. Neither human speech, bird calls or vertebrate eyes were specified in advance, and none of them had to evolve.

Your conclusions are based on a false premise.


Yep. It’s the same “sharpshooter” logical fallacy ID-Creationists have been tripping over forever. The claim what we see was somehow targeted and is the only possible combination which will support life.

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Maybe for once you could try actually discussing the rebuttal scientific evidence instead of knee-jerk defending anything to do with Creationism.

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So, @bjmiller, in the paper you point to, exactly how many “specific, coordinated mutations” are described?


Heres Bechly and company:

“What about the other Ediacaran trace fossils? All gone. A seminal study published in 2016 experimentally demonstrated that these Ediacaran trace fossils can be easily reproduced as artifacts of stirred up bacterial mats that covered the Ediacaran sea floors.”

Here’s the author of that study discussing this paper: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.172250

“Yes, that looks like an animal burrowing into the sediments

The mechanism I describe in my article would definitely not explain that.



Soooo yeah. Looks like all the Ediacaran trace fossils aren’t gone after all.

@bjmiller it isn’t hard to email these guys and make sure you got them right…