Nathan Lents at CFI: ID and Science Denial

September 24, 2020 7:00pm EDT

This should be interesting.

The pseudoscientific movement known as Intelligent Design (ID) does not offer a consistent or cohesive theory of life. Instead, it is a loose collection of criticisms of the supposed shortcomings of modern evolutionary theory. One such criticism is that the natural forces of evolution can serve only to weaken, damage, or destroy molecular functioning, thereby implying that the creative innovation we see in living things can only come about through intentional and supernatural actions. However, there is a rich body of scientific work detailing how complexity and innovation has emerged through mutation and molecular tinkering followed by natural selection, forcing ID proponents to either ignore or deny this evidence, or retreat to the unassailable, and therefore unscientific position that science cannot prove that mutations were not guided by a supernatural force.

Nathan H. Lents is Professor of Biology at John Jay College, of the City University of New York, and the author of Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animals and Human Errors: A Panorama of our Glitches from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes.

See Nathan Lent’s addendum here:


@Art and @swamidass will get special mention in this presentation. :slight_smile:


@Nlents is on now. Curious everyone’s thoughts as presentation proceeds.

It sounds as if @NLENTS doesn’t know Johnson passed away.

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I’m not sure he founded the DI either, did he?

The Institute was founded by Bruce Chapman and George Gilder in 1991.

What We Do | Discovery Institute

DI was an offshoot of the Hudson Institute think tank. That’s Bruce Chapman, a lawyer, who runs Uncommon Descent. This actually makes @Nlents point more strongly. The DI is political first, and caught up in the culture wars.

But I do not think Johnson started DI. Rather, I think he played a very pivotal role in the early days in articulating the strategy and gathering people. I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t involved in the Wedge Document.

Behe published a precursor to his latest book in the scientific literature, no?

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Experimental evolution, loss-of-function mutations, and “the first rule of adaptive evolution”

Adaptive evolution can cause a species to gain, lose, or modify a function; therefore, it is of basic interest to determine whether any of these modes dominates the evolutionary process under particular circumstances. Because mutation occurs at the molecular level, it is necessary to examine the molecular changes produced by the underlying mutation in order to assess whether a given adaptation is best considered as a gain, loss, or modification of function. Although that was once impossible, the advance of molecular biology in the past half century has made it feasible. In this paper, I review molecular changes underlying some adaptations, with a particular emphasis on evolutionary experiments with microbes conducted over the past four decades. I show that by far the most common adaptive changes seen in those examples are due to the loss or modification of a pre-existing molecular function, and I discuss the possible reasons for the prominence of such mutations.

Josh, is that how you pronounce your last name? If so, I’ve been saying it wrong in my head for a while.

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Hehe. Totally wrong, and he must be nervous, because I think @Nlents normally gets it right :slight_smile: .

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You poke the squid, you get the ink.


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I can picture @Agauger’s head exploding about the Nasvall slide…

Hehe, fair enough. Was not meant as a criticism of @NLENTS, just wanted to make sure I wasn’t saying it totally wrong.

Shout out!

We need to link some of those threads here. Where is the spot where @NLents first noted that chart???

I read the thread. I’ll see if I can find it.

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@evograd pointed this out, I believe.

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Don’t know if @evograd was the first, but I think this might be the first time at PS:

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I think @Nlents is right on that last point Behe it seems only presents to friendly audiences. Veritas Forums also is a great organization that is Christian, but makes space for atheists and other non-Christians too.


Last question sounds like it was a plant! :wink:


Yes, Veritas Forums are a great place to do Athiestic Apologetics. :grinning: