According to back-to-back posts on Evolution News and Views, evolution is religion, while intelligent design is science. In a badly argued post today, Cornelius Hunter says,
As I have explained many times, evolution is a religious theory…
Yesterday on the same platform, Steve Laufmann explained
…intelligent design is science, though not everyone knows it yet.
Well, he’s right about the second part.
Dr. Hunter is responding to Dennis Venema’s post on BioLogos describing shared mutations as evidence for common ancestry, in particular the deletion in the GULO gene that makes humans and other great apes unable to produce our own vitamin C:
As Dr. Hunter summarizes the argument:
Venema’s argument is that harmful mutations shared amongst different species, such as the human and chimpanzee, are powerful and compelling evidence for evolution. These harmful mutations disable a useful gene and, importantly, the mutations are identical.
He then asserts
As we have explained so many times, the argument is powerful because the argument is religious.
First of all, who is “we”? More importantly, what is the evidence that the argument is religious? None is given, at least not in this post (but, as Erik Hanschen has pointed out, cdesign proponentsists often have difficulty distinguishing assertion from evidence). Presumably this argument in fleshed out in the “so many times” that “we” have explained. The heart of Dr. Hunter’s argument that shared mutations don’t support common ancestry is this:
This “shared error” argument also relies on the premise that the structures in question are bad designs. In this case, the mutations are “harmful,” and so the genes are “broken.”
No, it doesn’t. The words “harmful” and “broken” don’t even appear in Dr. Venema’s post, which leads to the question, who exactly is Dr. Hunter quoting? Dr. Venema does refer to the great ape version of GULO as “unable to make a functional enzyme product,” which is a simple fact. He never claims that the loss of this function is harmful; in fact, he says
The loss of GULO function does not seem to have been a selective disadvantage for primates at the time – likely because they had a diet rich in vitamin C. Indeed, even for humans, this loss is not a serious problem unless one finds oneself without a source of vitamin C for a prolonged period of time. [emphasis added]
So I think it’s fair to say that Cornelius Hunter has intentionally misrepresented Dr. Venema’s argument, which has nothing to do with bad design. I’ll go a step further: when describing someone else’s argument, putting things in quotes is a claim, specifically a claim that that person said the the exact words between the quotes. Since Dr. Venema’s post doesn’t include the words “harmful,” “broken,” or “shared error,” I think it’s fair to say that Dr. Hunter is lying. And by arguing with a straw man version of Dr. Venema’s argument, he has failed to engage the actual argument.