If Evolution and Creationism Are on Equal Grounds…

…then why don’t there seem to be any peer-reviewed experiments backing it up?

Let’s just take a brief sample – on PubMed, one of the most popular biomedical search engines, a search for “evolution” turns up 178,160 papers (as of 2006 when I did the research for all of this, and just a year after ID was settled by the American Judicial System). A search for “creationism” on the other hand, yields only 48 articles. Most of those are editorial articles by scientists expressing the concern over the creation vs evolution debate in popular culture. There is one interesting scientific paper that comes up, published in the journal “Laterality,” which concludes that people with a strong preference for one hand versus the other are more likely to believe in creationism, whereas people who are ambidextrous, or those who can use both their right or left hand, are more likely to accept evolutionary theory. A search for intelligent design brings up the same small numbers. But aside from that, there is no published data that can be easily found, no primary data that leads to the conclusion: creationism is the accepted hypothesis.

Fortunately, the Discovery Institute (the most scientifically rigorous Creationist organization of which I’m aware) has helped to resolve this issue by publishing a list of peer-reviewed literature supporting ID.

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Man once had four arms, and DNA was miles long.

I should, before I proceed further, explain what “peer-review” means. Essentially, this means that once a paper has been written containing new hypotheses, data, and conclusions, it has to be given to one or more “peers”, i.e., other scientists who are also publishing data, preferably in a field close to the one that the paper in question deals with. According to the Discovery Institute, the reason for highlighting a “peer-reviewed” list of articles is due to the fact that “critics of intelligent design often claim that design advocates don’t publish their work in appropriate scientific literature. For example, Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, was quoted in USA Today (March 25, 2005) that design theorists ‘aren’t published because they don’t have scientific data.’”

Well, let’s see the data!

They begin by showing seven “featured” articles. However, all of them are reviews, or position papers. None of them contain any basic research, and I’m unsure why they would want to “feature” them. Most of them are published in “Proceedings of” journals, which have a slightly different peer review process than other journals. Basically, as long as you can get a member of that particular society to sponsor your paper, it’ll be published. The one contribution by Jonathan Wells would seem to be interesting, in that it proposes an experiment, but doesn’t actually carry it out. I can’t find any follow up papers, and it appears that it was just an abstract that was presented at a conference.

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They likely realize that seven articles, none of which present any basic research, seems kind of weak, so they fill out the list categorically, starting with four “peer-reviewed” books. I’m not completely sure how these University presses work, but I very much doubt its anything similar to the review process for scientific articles. There’s also three books that are “supportive” of ID, although not peer-reviewed (again, what does that mean?)

And finally we’re down to the real meat, articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Here we’re down to six, only two of which were “featured” above. The first is in the journal “Chaos, Solitons, and Fractals.” The second is in a “Proceedings” journal, and actually caused quite a stink from that society towards the editor who allowed its publication. The third is actually by Behe and is from a respectable journal, Protein Science, although it received a lengthy rebuttal in that same journal which basically showed that they had made several mistakes in assumptions for their calculations (Behe had tried to use mathematical modeling to show that mutations couldn’t accrue fast enough to result in modification). The fourth is a review that questions the relevance of transposons to evolution (but not supportive of ID). The fifth is published in the “International Journal of Fuzzy Systems.” And the last is in the “Journal of Theoretical Biology,” postulating that the limited and predictive arrangement of protein folds represents a manifestation of “Natural Law,” as opposed to “natural selection.” This is not contrary to evolutionary theory, however, since evolution does not predict that chemical interactions between amino acids change over time, just the arrangements of amino acids in a peptide chain, in response to varying levels of environmental selection.

Following these is a list of seven articles published in “peer reviewed” anthology books, five of which were published by members of the Discovery Institute. And then they have another seven “peer-edited” articles, four of which were also written by DI members. And they round it off with five philosophical papers, (with the guarantee of no basic research) one by Behe and the rest by William Lane Craig.

So that’s it. The most the Discovery Institute can muster is 26 articles (none with a single experiment) and four books. As a point of contrast, remember there are 178,160 articles (25,672 of which are reviews) on PubMed which involve evolution (and that only goes back to 1916).

I want to repeat – not a single experiment has been published to test a hypothesis advanced by creationism or intelligent design. Not a single one.

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~ by kriskodisko on August 15, 2013.

6 Responses to “If Evolution and Creationism Are on Equal Grounds…”

  1. I could make stuff up like they do. I just won’t.

  2. Just so you know, the fact that there are less papers on something does prove it is wrong. In fact, it would prove there is a potential bias from the subject. I find it interesting that many people still believe in Creationism, yet there are only 48 articles. Is this because there are no (potential) facts that may prove it or because those are seen as not “scientific” and therefore authors are laughed at in the community and many publications are halted. It would be like me saying the lack of evolution books in a Christian bookstore makes evolution wrong and creationism right. It doesn’t make any sense! One cannot simply look at number but also the potential biases behind them. Anyone who has taken a stats class knows you always asks who is taking the stats and what are the possible or probable biases.

    • doesnt prove it is wrong***

    • I agree with your bookstore analogy. The problem is, this is all of published science.

      And the point of this wasn’t that creationism is wrong, it’s that they don’t publish peer-reviewed papers or conduct scientific experiments.

      • But that was one of my points, maybe they do but they dont get published. Think if I had to get my blogs through a wall of Krisko’s before it was published. What are the odds of me getting anything published? I think just like Christians dont like to be questioned, neither does the other side. As for now, most religious people write under religious publishers, just like I assume non-religious people publish under on-religious publishers. I wish there was a better back and forth, but I know even I have to ask an atheist or Agnostic for ideas of books to read to better understand their viewpoints. Imagine asking a worker in a Christian bookstore if they know any Atheist books or good books about Islam, they would freak, ha ha 😉 Thus is life.

  3. I wonder what kind of metrics you could even look at for intelligent design. I guess the protein folding would be a good avenue, but I unfortunately don’t know nearly enough about biology. :-/ I did go to an interesting talk while in grad school where they got university science professors to talk on the topic of Christianity. It was something called Veritas Forums. I think I found the website for it. http://www.veritas.org/Talks.aspx#!/v/1114

    Seemed interesting. We had a visiting professor talk about both his work on nanovehicles and how he came to believe in God. It is weird hearing about both in the same lecture, mostly because scientists don’t ever want to admit they’re religious and religious figures don’t ever want to talk about how they interact with the world as described scientifically. lol.

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