Don Johnson

Don Johnson has written a book that I'm probably going to have to buy (and read) if I ever hope to understand Intelligent Design Creationism.

Who is Don Johnson? Here's what it said on Uncommon Descent a few months ago [Why one scientist checked out of Darwinism].

The author worked for ten years as a Senior Research Scientist in the medical and scientific instrument field. The complexity of life came to the forefront during continued research, especially when his research group was involved with recombinant DNA during the late 1970′s. … After several years as an independent consultant in laboratory automation an other computer fields, he began a 20-year career in university teaching, interrupted briefly to earn a second Ph.D. in Computer and information Sciences from the University of Minnesota.Over time, the author began to doubt the natural explanations that had been so ingrained. It was science, and not his religion, that caused his disbelief in the explanatory powers of nature in a number of key areas including the origin and fine-tuning of mass and energy, the origin of life with its complex information content, and the increase in complexity in living organisms. This realization was not achieved easily, as he had to admit that he had been duped into believing concepts that were scientifically unfounded. The fantastic leaps of faith required to accept the natural causes in these areas demand a scientific response to the scientific-sounding concepts that in fact have no known scientific basis.”
Sounds like a typical run-of-the-mill creationist. He has several of the common characteristics of Intelligent Design Creationist proponents: (1) religion, (2) a background in engineering and/or computer science, (3) no obvious expertise in evolutionary biology, (4) multiple Ph.D.s. I'm really intrigued by the fact that so many IDiots have more than one Ph.D. because I hang out with real scientists all the time and none of them have ever felt the need to be a graduate student more than once in their lives.

Why is this book interesting? Well, for one thing, there's this excerpt from Don Johnson's website [Science Integrity (sic)].

"In the absolute sense, one cannot rule out design of anything since a designer could design something to appear as if it weren’t designed. For example, one may not be able to prove an ordinary-looking rock hadn’t been designed to look as if it were the result of natural processes. The 'necessity of design,' however, is falsifiable. To do so, merely prove that known natural processes can be demonstrated (as opposed to merely speculated from unknown science) to produce: the fine-tuning empirically detectable in the Universe, life from non-life (including the information and its processing systems), the vast diversity of morphology suddenly appearing in the Cambrian era, and the increasing complexity moving up the tree of life (with the accompanying information increase and irreducibly complex systems). If those can be demonstrated with known science, the 'necessity of design' will have been falsified in line with using Occam’s Razor principles for determining the most reasonable scenarios. If the 'necessity of design' is falsified, some may continue to BELIEVE in design, but ID would no longer be appropriate as science." (p. 92)
Isn't that cool? It absolves Intelligent Design Creationism from any burden of proof since things are said to be designed unless you can prove the negative. If real scientists can't prove beyond a shadow of doubt that life came from non-life then design can't be falsified and must be true.

It doesn't matter how many times we can demonstrate that some things evolved, that still doesn't demonstrate that evolution is true. We can only do that if we fill in the most famous gaps existing in the early 21st century. That's the only way to falsify Intelligent Design Creationism. One of the ironies is that there's really no explanation to falsify other than "it has to be designed." This is quite clever. By refusing to offer an explanation of how life began, or how animal diversity arose 500 million years ago, the IDiots insulate themselves from the same criticism they level at evolutionary explanations.

I was prompted to write about Don Johnson after reading another except form his book. An excerpt that particularly impressed Denyse O'Leary. She posted this on uncommon Descent: What will be the next time and money-wasting error Darwinism leads scientists into?1].

Researchers are discovering that what had been dismissed as evolution’s relics are actually vital to life. What used to be considered evidence for neo-Darwinism gene-formation mechanism can no longer be use as such evidence. In this case, neo-Darwinism has been a proven science inhibitor as it postponed serious investigation of the non-coding DNA within the genome, which was “one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology” [John Mattick, BioEssays, 2003 930-939].” This is reminiscent of the classification of 86 (later expanded to 180) human organs as “vestigial” that Robert Wiedersheim (1893) believed “lost their original physiological significance.” in that they were vestiges of evolution. Functions have since been discovered for all 180 organs that were thought to be vestigial, including the wings of flightless birds, the appendix, and the ear muscles of humans.”
This is more than a little confusing since the statement is wrong about the scientific facts. But even more interesting is the implication that the presence of junk DNA and/or vestigial organs is a threat to Intelligent Design Creationism. What kind of threat? Here's how Denyse O'Leary describes it.

The explicit reason for both the junk DNA error and the vestigial organs error was the need to find evidence for Darwinism in the form of stuff in life forms that doesn’t work. Without that need, these errors would not have been made.
Setting aside the lie about these being errors, let's try and see why this is such a big deal for the IDiots.

As we saw from the first quotation, everything is assumed to be designed unless we can prove that the "big four" have a purely natural explanation. So why would the IDiots be concerned about some little fish like junk DNA and vestigial organs? If a large part of our genome turns out to be junk and at least one organ turns out the be truly vestigial does this mean Intelligent Design Creationism is falsified?

Not bloody likely. The real issue here is not whether Intelligent Design Creationism has a better explanation for the organization of the human genome. It doesn't. The real issue is that these topics can be used to discredit science and evolutionary biologists. (Hence, the title of the articles.)

As I point out in class, this is the 21st century and everyone needs to have science on their side. This includes the IDiots and the climate change deniers. They can't just take the position that they are opposed to science—even though they are. That strategy hasn't worked since Darwin.

So, what do you do when the science seems to refute your claims? You resort to the only option available, attack the science and discredit the messengers. That's why we see so many stories about evil "Darwinists" and that's why people like Denyse O'Leary pounce on any opportunity to point out errors and mistakes in the scientific literature. And if you can't find any real mistakes you can always just make them up.

Intelligent Design Creationism is not about proposing alternative explanations. It's about attacking evolution and evolutionary biologists. Don't believe me? Just look at the books and the blogs. Something like 99.9% of what's written by the IDiots is attacking evolution and science. When's the last time you ever saw anything explained by Intelligent Design Creationism?

1. Aren't you glad that Denyse O'Leary is a professional journalist? Can you imagine what her titles migh look like if she didn't have professional training?
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