The Anchoress led me to Matteo at Cartago Delenda Est (like The Anchoress, and like Ales Rarus, a former lib-or-even-lefteral who turned Catholic and right -- lotta those on the Web, noticed?), who led me to Fred Reed at LewRockwell.com, who says this:
On his early questions about the origin of life:
Well, I thought, sophomore chemistry major that I then was: If we don't know what conditions existed, or what conditions are necessary, and can't reproduce the event in the laboratory, and can't show it to be statistically probable – why are we so very sure that it happened? Would you hang a man on such evidence?
On "what distinguishes evolution from other science":
First, plausibility was accepted as being equivalent to evidence. . . . Again and again evolutionists assumed that suggesting how something might have happened was equivalent to establishing how it had happened. Asking them for evidence usually aroused annoyance and sometimes, if persisted in, hostility.
As an example, it seems plausible to evolutionists that life arose by chemical misadventure. By this they mean (I think) that they cannot imagine how else it might have come about. (Neither can I. Does one accept a poor explanation because unable to think of a good one?) This accidental-life theory, being somewhat plausible, is therefore accepted without the usual standards of science, such as reproducibility or rigorous demonstration of mathematical feasibility. ...
Consequently, discussion often turns to vague and murky assertion. Starlings are said to have evolved to be the color of dirt so that hawks can't see them to eat them. This is plausible. But guacamayos and cockatoos are gaudy enough to be seen from low-earth orbit. Is there a contradiction here? No, say evolutionists. Guacamayos are gaudy so they can find each other to mate. Always there is the pat explanation. But starlings seem to mate with great success, though invisible. If you have heard a guacamayo shriek, you can hardly doubt that another one could easily find it. Enthusiasts of evolution then told me that guacamayos were at the top of their food chain, and didn't have predators. Or else that the predators were colorblind. On and on it goes. But...is any of this established?
Second, evolution seemed more a metaphysics or ideology than a science. The sciences, as I knew them, gave clear answers. Evolution involved intense faith in fuzzy principles. You demonstrated chemistry, but believed evolution. . . .
Third, evolutionists are obsessed by Christianity and Creationism, with which they imagine themselves to be in mortal combat. This is peculiar to them. Note that other sciences, such as astronomy and geology, even archaeology, are equally threatened by the notion that the world was created in 4004 BC. Astronomers pay not the slightest attention to creationist ideas. [This made me LOL] Nobody does – except evolutionists. We are dealing with competing religions – overarching explanations of origin and destiny. Thus the fury of their response to skepticism.
I found it pointless to tell them that I wasn't a Creationist. They refused to believe it. . . . "Creationist" is to evolution what "racist" is to politics: A way of preventing discussion of what you do not want to discuss. Evolution is the political correctness of science.
Reed describes what happened when he posed some of his questions about the origin of life to (unnamed) eminent evolutionists:
It was like giving a bobcat a prostate exam. I got everything but answers. They told me I was a crank, implied over and over that I was a Creationist, said that I was an enemy of science (someone who asks for evidence is an enemy of science). They said that I was trying to pull down modern biology (if you ask questions about an aspect of biology, you want to pull down biology). They told me I didn't know anything (that's why I was asking questions), and that I was a mere journalist (the validity of a question depends on its source rather than its content).
But they didn't answer the questions. They ducked and dodged and evaded. . . . They would neither tell me of what the early oceans consisted, nor admit that they didn't know.
This is the behavior not of scientists, but of advocates, of True Believers. I used to think that science was about asking questions, not about defending things you didn't really know. Religion, I thought, was the other way around. I guess I was wrong.
Then, Reed goes and asks a list of "Practical Questions" about "How do you get evolutionarily from A to B? Can you get from A to B by the mechanisms assumed?" The giraffe's long neck; color vision; metamorphosis, wherein a caterpillar pupates, dissolves into a soup, and then re-forms into a completely different structure:
Pupating looks like something you do well or not at all: If you don't turn into something practical at the end, you don't get another chance. . . .
Tell me how the beast can gradually acquire, by accident, the capacity gradually to undergo all the formidably elaborate changes from worm to butterfly, so that each intermediate form is a practical organism that survives. If evolutionists cannot answer such questions, the theory fails.
Here the evolutionist will say, "Fred, caterpillars are soft, squashy things and don't leave good fossils, so it's unreasonable to expect us to find proof." I see the problem. But it is unreasonable to expect me to accept something on the grounds that it can't be proved. Yes, it is possible that an explanation exists and that we just haven't found it. But you can say that of anything whatever. Is it good science to assume that evidence will be forthcoming because we sure would like it to be? I'll gladly give you evidence Wednesday for a theory today?
Note that I am not asking evolutionists to give detailed mechanics for the evolution of everything that lives. If they gave convincing evidence for a few of the hard cases – proof of principle, so to speak – I would be inclined to believe that equally good evidence existed for the others. But they haven't.
On the three facets of the theory of evolution:
Evolution breaks down into at least three logically separable components . . .
The first, chance formation of life ["life arose by chemical accident"], simply hasn't been established. It isn't science, but faith.
The second proposition, that life, having arisen by unknown means, then evolved into the life of today, is more solid. In very old rocks you find fish, then things, like coelacanth and the ichthyostega, that look like transitional forms, and finally us. They seem to have gotten from A to B somehow. A process of evolution, however driven, looks reasonable. It is hard to imagine that they appeared magically from nowhere, one after the other.
The third proposition, that the mechanism of evolutions is chance mutation, though sacrosanct among its proponents, is shaky. If it cannot account for the simultaneous appearance of complex, functionally interdependent characteristics, as in the case of caterpillars, it fails. Thus far, it hasn't accounted for them.
. . . when things do not happen according to script – when, for example, human intelligence appears too rapidly – then we have the theory of "privileged genes," which evolved at breakneck speed because of assumed but unestablished selective pressures. That is, the existence of the pressures is inferred from the changes, and then the changes are attributed to the pressures. Oh.
. . . There is an air of desperation about all of it. Transparently they begin with their conclusion and craft their reasoning to reach it.
And finally, the new kid on the block:
An interesting thought that drives evolutionists mad is called Intelligent Design, or ID. It is the view that things that appear to have been done deliberately might have been. Some look at, say, the human eye and think, "This looks like really good engineering. Elaborate retina of twelve layers, marvelously transparent cornea, pump system to keep the whole thing inflated, suspensory ligaments, really slick lens, the underlying cell biology. Very clever."
I gather that a lot of ID folk are in fact Christian apologists trying to drape Genesis in scientific respectability. That is, things looked to have been designed, therefore there must be a designer, now will Yahweh step forward. Yet an idea is not intellectually disreputable because some of the people who hold it are. The genuine defects of ID are the lack of a detectible designer, and that evolution appears to have occurred. This leads some to the thought that consciousness is involved and evolution may be shaping itself. I can think of no way to test the idea.
And in conclusion:
To evolutionists I say, "I am perfectly willing to believe what you can actually establish. Reproducibly create life in a test tube, and I will accept that it can be done. Do it under conditions that reasonably may have existed long ago, and I will accept as likely the proposition that such conditions existed and gave rise to life. I bear no animus against the theory, and champion no competing creed. But don't expect me to accept fluid speculation, sloppy logic, and secular theology."
Go read the whole thing, please. I've left out much that's devastating, and funny. Then come back here and give it your best shot. From now on, when anyone gives me a hard time for even entertaining ID, I'm throwing up my hands and sending them to Fred Reed.
It seems to me that evolutionists, if they were really good scientists, ought to welcome this challenge. If their theory is sound, it will only come out stronger.
P.S. Who is this Fred Reed, anyway? He's the author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well, described on Amazon as "Brash, outrageously funny, incorrect political and social commentary by a Washington reporter fed up with practically everything." Author description: "Fred Reed is a Marine combat veteran, police reporter, amateur biochemist, former long-haul hitchhiker, and part-time sociopath living in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital."