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Darwinopterus v Dawkins - Comments

Follow Peter Egan's Avatar Comment 1 by Follow Peter Egan

Oh no!!

Oh, Richard. What can I say£ You must feel a complete fool. You should have consulted CMI before going into print.


Wed, 11 Nov 2009 13:48:00 UTC | #412732

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 3 by Border Collie

Oh, good grief ... Every time I think I've seen the bottom of the well ...

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 13:54:00 UTC | #412734

zeerust2000's Avatar Comment 2 by zeerust2000

we agree with Darwin and Dawkins that flightless birds (at least most of them) descended from flying birds, losing their ability to fly. Once again, this is post-Fall devolution, not evolution

Right off the bat, Sarfati is commiting the error of assuming that evolution means progress in a given direction. For some reason he assumes that since some birds have evolved in the direction of flightlessness, then this somehow is not "evolution" at all. Even though he may well have read TGSOE, he clearly has not understood it. The question is, is this lack of insight or just wilfull misunderstanding. Personally, I can't be bothered deciding.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 13:54:00 UTC | #412733

Peacebeuponme's Avatar Comment 4 by Peacebeuponme

self-styled "atheist"
What a strange attempt at insult. Is there any other way to be an atheist?

It's not like Richard is bragging. I mean "self-styled 'Nutritionist'", or "self-styled corporate improvement guru" would make sense in trying to insult people with made-up expertise. It just cannot be applied to atheists.

A terribly thick person has written this piece.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 13:59:00 UTC | #412736

Stewart Cowan's Avatar Comment 5 by Stewart Cowan


I think Dr Sarfati is saying that flightlessness is due to a loss of information in the genome. It is 'evolution', but not the uphill evolution required for the TofE to be feasible.

Has anyone read "Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome" by John C Sanford?

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 13:59:00 UTC | #412737

scoobie's Avatar Comment 6 by scoobie

All the evidence points to us having been made by the baby jebus sticking us together in modules. (no really, he actually claims this).

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:00:00 UTC | #412738

zeerust2000's Avatar Comment 7 by zeerust2000

Stewart Cowan:

Why should flightlessness represent loss of genetic information? To we humans, who wish we could fly, it seems a pity, but flightless birds are doing just fine as they are. These concepts of "uphill" and "downhill" evolution are purely human concepts projected onto our view of the natural world.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:05:00 UTC | #412740

Pilot22A's Avatar Comment 8 by Pilot22A

One almost feels the author's terror, at the devil sucking the faith and belief from his soul while reading Dawkins book.

The fact is, evolution accounts for these types of people. A million years ago some wild animal would have eaten them, thus deleting them from our gene pool, and the meat keeping the wild animal alive to pass on it's superior DNA.

Since the chances of being eaten by a wild animal has diminished today, freeways, cars, planes and trains have filled that evolutionary gap.

I refuse to feel sorry for these wacko's any more.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:07:00 UTC | #412742

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 9 by phasmagigas

safarti says

Dawkins’ book is full of straw-man arguments, with example after example of adaptation by mutations and natural selection that supposedly “prove evolution” (plus lots of “Just-so” story telling). But creationist biologists have long accepted the reality of mutations and natural selection (see Mutations Q&A and Natural selection Q&A), but understand that they are incapable of creating any of the vast amounts of novel genetic information required for goo-to-you evolution to be believable. Richard Dawkins’ “proof” of evolution in The Greatest Show on Earth is nothing of the kind.

what a prat, funny how safarti says that creationist biologists understand mutation and selection but that theres no capacity for novel genertic information for goo-to-you (wow, what a great bit of word play to help the creationists ages 9-90 understand that) well plainly there WAS a capacity for novel information as things did evolve as he suggests, the BIG problem of course is just how does safarti know that that novel information ISNT natural and actually designed, he simply cannot, he claims mutation and selection are there but i could equally claim that each and every mutation and selection was specifically designed/implemented by an intelligence and therefore not naturally possible either, as soon as any ID proponent insists there is a designer they are not in a position to know what is/could have been/isnt designed and as they cannot distinguish between a grain of sand being designed and a bird they have to admit its unknowable and therefore an article of faith.

using safartis reasoning i could claim that each and every facet of the universe from god itself to the precise shape and smell of a babies first poop is by definition created by that god and so actually considered supernatural, its just that the 'this cannot be tested as science' idea doesnt seem to be understood by the likes of safarti.

and as for all this 'proof' well safarti clearly knows his audience is thick as two short planks, as popping things into little marks like '' means that dawkins is wrong, right?

proofs, no, explanations that consider the evidence and still fit into the theory, yes.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:08:00 UTC | #412743

Stewart Cowan's Avatar Comment 10 by Stewart Cowan


"flightless birds are doing just fine as they are"

Yes, the ones who lost the ability to fly were obviously at an advantage and so they were the ones who survived in their particular habitats.

Losing the ability to fly is not necessarily due to an uphill mutation, the kind that the TofE is dependent upon to merit being taken seriously.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:09:00 UTC | #412744

darwinschurch's Avatar Comment 11 by darwinschurch

How can he write an article on something he obviously doesn't understand? Seriously! Clutching at straws.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:10:00 UTC | #412745

zeerust2000's Avatar Comment 12 by zeerust2000

Further to my last post, does the fact the we humans can no longer swing from tree to tree with the grace of a gibbon mean that we too have "devolved" downhill? Positing arbitrary goals as a requirement of "feasibility" for evolution betrays a very, very deep misunderstanding of the subject.

Edit: Stewart Cowan: Could you define "uphill mutation" please?

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:12:00 UTC | #412747

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 14 by Jos Gibbons

These people are a joke. They think you refute evolution by natural selection as the explanation of the sequence of pterosaurs in the fossil record by showing one hypothesis about the sequence was wrong. (Not that they DID, since the two features have not been shown arising in reverse order; our fossils don't tell us their order or simultaneity yet. In fact, fossils cannot prove simultaneity, but creationists always act as if they have.) OK, maybe the early functions of flight weren't what we expected. So? There are thousands of fossil species; we're bound to make a few inaccurate guesses. The real question for creationists is why pterosaurs show gradualism at all. Umpteen creations?

And they think proposing a small minority of species were punished by God with flightlessness (though not winglessness, which God could have really used to scupper scientists!) for the fruit-eating transgressions of Adam and Eve, but not the rest of the bird species, is an adequate response to science's explanation, even though the creationists' alternative is untestable, hence ad hoc - and they then have the nerve to say it's everyone else who's blinded by religious commitments! Where's the EVIDENCE that ostriches were punished this way in the Fall? Genesis 3 doesn't count.

And they keep flogging that dead horse of some changes in the DNA's information being "losses", some being "gains", and evolution requiring "gains" but only losses have been observed. (We've observed point ADDITION in nylonase evolution, not to mention many other similar consequences of gene duplication. Is THAT enough of a gain for you?)

How do they know that kakapo flightlessness is "clearly recent"? Maybe it's only clear if you think creation was recent. They insist penguin swimming is similar to airborne flight, even though it's clear no wings can do both. Why, creationists, did God design some birds for swimming and most for flight, using wings in both cases, but wings in anything else (mammals, insects) only for flying and not for swimming? Why should the fact that halteres are functional be contrary to evolution? Their functions being DIFFERENT from those of modern wings is evidence FOR evolution. But don't expect that to be understood by people who complain that 160 million years ago was too young in the 165 to 150 million year period (even though it's actually older than most of the period!) or who clearly haven't tried to understand the module idea in terms of pleiotropy, polygeny and gene pools.

Yet somehow, what the most ingenious human designers can't achieve with bulky systems, was programmed into the tiny dragnfly brain without any intelligence involved at all!
Yes, 4 billion years of natural selection can outcompete a few years or decades of human aeronautics and AI, just as a few hours of genetic alogirthms and similar evolutionary computation technology can save years of R&D in modern industry. These people need to learn to understand how unimportant intelligence is when you have techniques like simulated annealing at your disposal.

Also, why do they make Dawrinopterus such an anti-Dawkins thing, if it was unknown when he wrote his book? These people just want to make their response to RD personal. Usually they make things anti-Darwin in a similar manner. Naturally, this time they were anti-RD to respond to his book. I guess "Darwinopterus v Darwin" would have looked silly ...

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:14:00 UTC | #412749

fossil-fish's Avatar Comment 13 by fossil-fish

Devolution??? Haven't they ever seen a penguin swim? Or a flightless cormorant catch fish underwater?

What are they trying to do exactly? Remove a mountain of scientific evidence with a tea spoon.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:14:00 UTC | #412748

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 15 by Tyler Durden

Once again, this is post-Fall devolution, not evolution
Post-Fall? As in the 'Adam and Eve' myth?

But we're talking science here, so why bring fairy tales into it?

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:16:00 UTC | #412750

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 16 by Jos Gibbons

Stewart Cowan,

please explain what an "uphill mutation" is, so we can understand why: (i) the TOE requires it; (ii) they don't exist. I won't ask anything too demanding, like you answering those 2 questions for us, or explaining what "the" TOE means (it gets updated, you know). But at least say what makes a mutation "uphill" so we can see how it relates to evolving either flight or flightlessness.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:17:00 UTC | #412751

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 18 by Tyler Durden

Stewart Cowan -

Are you out of your depth, again?

Did you not bother reading "The Blind Watchmaker" or "The Greatest Show on Earth"?

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:20:00 UTC | #412754

zeerust2000's Avatar Comment 17 by zeerust2000

Comment #431074 by Stewart Cowan
Yes, the ones who lost the ability to fly were obviously at an advantage and so they were the ones who survived in their particular habitats.

In other words....they evolved.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:20:00 UTC | #412752

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 19 by phasmagigas

I think Dr Sarfati is saying that flightlessness is due to a loss of information in the genome. It is 'evolution', but not the uphill evolution required for the TofE to be feasible.

again, clearly there is evidence of 'uphill' evolution through time, i dont understand creationists say it cant happen, because it patently DID and they know it did, they simply claim that a designer did it.

I simply cannot understand why this is an argument they use. they claim that info cannot increase but then say info did increase but because of god, as if they can somehow differentiate between what is natural and 'supernatural' wow, that is a mighty claim indeed. the insertion of god is just an addition they want to include because it fits their requirement for needing the assurance of life after death.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:21:00 UTC | #412755

godsbelow's Avatar Comment 21 by godsbelow

"The argument might impress Dawkins’ gullible choir in the Church of Saint Darwin,"

LOL that must be us

"but it should not convince anyone who does not already have a religious commitment to naturalism (materialism) and who cares to think about it."

They seem to be confused. It's the BIBLICAL account of the world's 'creation' that doesn't convince anyone who does not already have a religious commitment to Jewish or Christian mythology and superstition.

Religionists often seem to think they can discredit rational/fact-based positions by equating them with religious faith - while arguing at the same time that their own faith is virtuous. Doesn't seem like a particularly sound strategy of argument, does it?

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:29:00 UTC | #412757

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 20 by Tyler Durden

Naturally, CMI is preparing a book to answer Dawkins’ latest. In a chapter about alleged bad design, Dawkins had a section about the loss of wings and evolution of features like halteres, the little drumstick-like stabilizers behind the one pair of wings on flies.
I wonder what the CMI will have to say about Richard's other examples in the chapter entitled "History Written All Over Us", which explains the nonsensical "design" of the recurrent laryngeal nerve, the vas deferens and the backbone.

Stewart, any comments on the recurrent laryngeal nerve and its elongated detour?

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:29:00 UTC | #412756

zeerust2000's Avatar Comment 22 by zeerust2000

The whole notion of "uphill" and "downhill" evolutionary change is a purely subjective judgement which assumes a prior purpose to evolution. Creationists love this notion of course because the purpose is provided by you-know-who. It is an illusion.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:30:00 UTC | #412758

markystar's Avatar Comment 23 by markystar

will we see any new species dubbed dawkinsopterus or, as i'd rather see, dawkinsosaurus!

the writer of this article is a clown without a grasp on how traits evolve separately in separate animal kingdoms and species. and what's up with his 'self-professed "atheist"' line? apparently, he doesn't understand what atheism is either.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:33:00 UTC | #412759

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 24 by phasmagigas


Losing the ability to fly is not necessarily due to an uphill mutation, the kind that the TofE is dependent upon to merit being taken seriously.

you do need to define what these uphill/downhill mutations are.

evidence shows that skull of our fish like ancestors were way more complex than our own, if im not mistaken the zygomatic arch for eg is the remains of another set of bones that used to cover our current brain holding cranium. stuart, is that an example of downhill mutation? our skulls are arguably less complex than those of some of our ancestors, now unless you want to suggest that the most complex versions of our ancestors were created initially and then let all that downhill stuff proceed.....

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:36:00 UTC | #412760

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 25 by phasmagigas

"The argument might impress Dawkins’ gullible choir in the Church of Saint Darwin,"

again, safarti knows that some section of his audience are not too well educated.

saint darwin?? ive never even actually read origin. one day, i suppose i should.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:41:00 UTC | #412764

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 26 by Tyler Durden

As a sneak peek, to show that we are indeed rebutting Dawkins’ claims, here is a draft section from our forthcoming book answering The Greatest Show on Earth
No, all you're doing is showing your wanton ignorance on a subject you know nothing about, and yet are too lazy to study.

Isn't that right Stewart?

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:50:00 UTC | #412765

Stewart Cowan's Avatar Comment 27 by Stewart Cowan


That's because we're not descended from apes.

"Uphill mutations" add useful information to the genome so that more complex organs, etc., can be created.

"In other words....they evolved."

Yes, they did, but it's not the type of evolution that the TofE relies upon.

Hi Tyler,

"Are you out of your depth, again?"

Only insofar as the comments are coming faster than I can keep up with them!

I'm reading The God Delusion.


We're living in a fallen world. Things decay and that includes the genome. That's why there is death and disease now, but there wasn't before the Fall.

Evolution occurs precisely because there are post-Fall genetic mutations, BUT, and this is the crux, they are generally not the sort of mutations that mean dinosaurs eventually became birds. All that these mutations allow for is minor changes like removing the information to produce wings or long beaks or long fur, etc.

New species are produced, but it's not generally due to more information in the genome.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:51:00 UTC | #412767

Stewart Cowan's Avatar Comment 28 by Stewart Cowan


"Stewart, any comments on the recurrent laryngeal nerve and its elongated detour?"

No, not yet.

phasmagigas #24,

You say we are ancestors of fish, I certainly don't. The idea is preposterous when you really think about it, especially in view of the impossibility of complex organs being formed in a world where mutations are rarely beneficial.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:56:00 UTC | #412768

idragosani's Avatar Comment 29 by idragosani

What is 'self-styled "atheist"'? What do they mean? Someone can't claim to be an atheist unless someone else decides to bestow the title? Are they implying Richard isn't a real atheist?

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 14:59:00 UTC | #412769

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 30 by Tyler Durden

Stewart -

Please, pretty please, stop posting on the subject evolution until you've read something on (and understood) the subject itself.

Darwinian evolution has nothing whatsoever to do with "the Fall".

Evolution "relies upon" species evolving, there is no "direction"; there is no "purpose", only survival.

Modern birds are descendants of dinosaurs, fossils and molecular biology shows this - nothing to do with "Adam and Eve".

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 15:00:00 UTC | #412770