August 11, 2004


Ozone Loss Caused Genetic Mutations At Time Of Mass Extinction (SPX, Aug 11, 2004)

Research into the world's worst mass extinction, which led to the loss of 90 per cent of living species 250 million years ago, has found that the historical tragedy also involved some disturbing genetics mutations. [...]

"In our work we have found that at the time of the end-Permian extinction increased amounts of ultraviolet light filtered through the Earth's surface and caused damage to the DNA in plant spores. The results were abnormalities that prevented plant life from reproducing and a consequent collapse of terrestrial ecosystems," says [The Open University's Dr Mark Sephton].

Variation and selection becomes all the more dubious and extraterrestrial causes of mutation more likely.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 11, 2004 8:44 AM

Latest iteration on global warming. If you can't beat US capitalism on hard science, keep the global legends going. After all, Bush lied, didn't he. About what? You name it; we'll back you up.

Posted by: genecis at August 11, 2004 9:06 AM

I don't think that you'll find many evolutionists saying that external causation excludes the role of variation and selection. If the changes are happening within a cell, it's immaterial whether the ultimate cause is a local lack of food or a gamma ray from a zillion light years away.

Neither point is contingent upon the other.

Unless I misunderstood your point.

Posted by: John at August 11, 2004 11:20 AM


Evolution - fitness + random mutation due to external causes = not Darwinism

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2004 11:27 AM

I think you got the causality the wrong way round.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at August 11, 2004 11:31 AM


You have hopelessly conflated two utterly independent concepts.

Selection does not cause variation--it matters not in the least to Darwinism what causes variation. Regardless of the source, not all variations succeed equally.

How to explain differing success, other than through differing reproductive fitness?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at August 11, 2004 11:46 AM


Posted by: oj at August 11, 2004 12:26 PM

10% of species survived.
They were the "fittest" for that specific environment, and thus, "selected" to survive.

"Intelligent Design" includes slinging a giant rock into the Earth's path ?
What was the "Designer" selecting for, luck ?

Really, if it were any other subject, oj, you'd be savaging the illogic of that position.

God creates an entire Universe, and the only way She can effect a design change is by beating it with a club ?

Posted by: Michael "Randomly Intelligent" Herdegen at August 11, 2004 2:32 PM


That's called a tautology.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2004 2:41 PM

Mutation works with selection.

Orrin probably understands this as well as the rest of us, but, as with his claim not to accept evidence, has to pretend he doesn't in order to defend a higher truth.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 11, 2004 3:52 PM

There is no selection, just mutation.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2004 4:05 PM

There is no bicycle, only drywall. Which is no more a non sequitor than "no selection, just mutation."

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at August 11, 2004 5:39 PM


How about a response to the last four sentences ?

Also, for the sake of argument, suppose that "intelligent design" is correct.
Isn't it still possible that humans are not the point of creation ?
That, perhaps, we're merely a means to an end ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 11, 2004 8:28 PM


One never gets to the design argument or the God argument--it suffices that Darwinism fails the test of reason. From there you can have faith in any explanation that grabs your fancy, including Darwinism.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2004 9:20 PM

True enough, I was just wondering if you had an elegant explanation for the Never Never Land quality of the "intelligent design" examples.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 11, 2004 9:37 PM

That's the point--it's all Never Never Land.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2004 10:56 PM

"Darwinism fails the test of reason."

Please explain the test, and precisely how it fails.

The sentence "no selection, just mutation" sure isn't it.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at August 12, 2004 7:10 AM

Reason tests are useless in determining how the world works.

You have to observe what you've got.

You can then try to reason out how that works.

But reason itself gets you nowhere.

If reason were sufficient, then the physics that Aristotle reasoned out would be valid, and all the bullets being fired at the Mahdi Army would be falling down from the ends of the barrels of our guys' weapons,and the Arabs with their swords would be chopping the Marines down.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 12, 2004 5:10 PM
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