October 4, 2004

NO DISSENT WILL BE TOLERATED:

Unfashionable genes: Darwinists lash out as ID scientist makes an important inroad (Mark Bergin, World)

Last month the Intelligent Design (ID) team pushed a run across the plate, and its Darwinist opponents promptly promised not to let it happen again.

The ID breakthrough came when a paper titled "The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories" by Stephen Meyer appeared in Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. A peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings only prints articles approved by scientists at mainstream institutions—and until now the Darwinian establishment has excluded from such journals all ID articles.

Mr. Meyer, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, argues in the paper that Darwinian mechanisms cannot explain the production of new information needed for novel genes and proposes ID as a better explanation. The ID movement already has produced peer-reviewed books: William Dembski's The Design Inference and Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box. But publication of Mr. Meyer's paper means that Darwinians will no longer be able to dismiss the ID movement by saying that such articles cannot pass muster.

Darwinists reacted to the publication quickly and harshly. The Biological Society of Washington (BSW) called it "a significant departure from the nearly purely taxonomic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 124-year history. It was published without the prior knowledge of the council." BSW called the paper "inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings" and promised the topic of design "will not be addressed in future issues."


The Society sent out an insert on the Bering Sea and told subscribers to replace the offending study.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 4, 2004 4:58 PM
Comments

Too bad, some editor is about to get fired. And some referee just got excused from all future reviewing duties.

Posted by: pj at October 4, 2004 7:13 PM

ID has an uphill fight for a reason: It's seen as a "stealth" version of six-day-zap creationism.

Maybe if we had led with ID (with at-least-arguable peer-reviewed evidence) instead of Six-Day-Zap (with little other backing than "SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!" and damning Darwin to Hell over and over), it might have had a better chance.

Now there's no convincing anyone otherwise.

Are Christians secretly afraid in their heart of hearts that Darwin might be right in all aspects? And if Darwin was right in even some of those aspects, God and Christ somehow magically cease to exist? In which case, doesn't this make Darwin greater than God? Is there any cosmic reason why only one of the two can exist?

Did Christ die just so you can bash Darwin? Is that the be-all and end-all of the Passion and Resurrection and Redemption? Just to stick it to Darwin?

Posted by: Ken at October 4, 2004 7:25 PM

Ken:

No. There's no conflict between Creation and Darwinism. Darwinism is just bad science and evil philosophy.

Posted by: oj at October 4, 2004 7:30 PM

Like Marx, Freud and the Eugenicists, Darwin provides the rationale for the manipulation of formerly free human beings by an enlighteneed elite. Whether the theory is accurate or not is beyond absolute proof and is dependent on a subjective interpretation of evidence. The reaction of so-called scientists to those who differ with the orthodoxy of materialism is telling. Proof of intelligent design is also beyond absolute confirmation but evidence of design cannot be so easily dismissed in order to preserve the materialists paradigm unless science has become perverted by a need to maintain an ideology rather than truth as is common among ideologists of all kind. The metaphysical ideologists tend to leave us to our own devices concerning the here and now as opposed the rationalist type who simply refuse to leave the rest of us alone.

Posted by: at October 4, 2004 7:58 PM

become?

Posted by: oj at October 4, 2004 8:05 PM

The article is available on-line at The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,Stephen C. Meyer, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, September 29, 2004. All the talk of Intelligent Design has obscured the major point, which is a statistical criticism of neo-Darwinism.

Molecular biology is now providing us with a rough way of evaluating the probabilities involved in Darwinian theory. As an example, for 150 base-pair (relatively small) proteins, there are 20^150 = 1.43x10^195 possible combinations, of which only about 1 in 10^77 are functional (as determined by recent experiments). These functional proteins are also sensitive to relatively few changes before becoming non-functional or lethal. So we have a very large combinatorial space with very sparse, small islands of functionality separated by large regions of non-functionality.

A random search of such a space requires a very long time. In the 13-20x10^9 years estimated for the current age of the universe, there is simply not enough time to produce a single specific protein, let alone the hundreds or thousands observed today which all function together. The assumption that random mutation acting throughout long times thus fails a basic statistical test.

Posted by: jd watson at October 4, 2004 9:28 PM

OJ:

Can you post another link to the article? When I click it I just get your blog again.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 4, 2004 10:08 PM

The theory of macroevolution is undergoing a Kuhnsian crisis.

It's rather fun and exciting to watch from the sidelines. But I'd hate to be a molecular biochemist right now.

Meyer's career is toast. It looks the establishment's Diet of Worms is up and running. I wonder who will be the Luther who finally takes them on.

Posted by: Gideon at October 4, 2004 11:29 PM

If ID is true, then God is either not benevolent, or doesn't communicate with us.
The latter would mean that no holy books were divinely inspired.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 5, 2004 1:22 AM

We know what a real hatchet job looks in the sciences. It looks like the attempted suppression of Bjorn Lomborg. This doesn't even come close.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at October 5, 2004 2:46 AM

Michael:

Why?

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 6:49 AM

Hell, someone please give some props to jd watson, above, for one of the great comments of the year. I think I'm going to memorize that one!

Posted by: JimGooding at October 5, 2004 7:46 AM

"A random search of such a space requires a very long time. In the 13-20x10^9 years estimated for the current age of the universe, there is simply not enough time to produce a single specific protein, let alone the hundreds or thousands observed today which all function together. The assumption that random mutation acting throughout long times thus fails a basic statistical test."

If it is the right test.

The test you propose is a sequence of independent, memory free events, such as rolling dice--there is absolutely no recursion.

However, life is very recursive.

This article proposes completely random construction of proteins using precisely the same process as constructing Romeo and Juliet by adding random letters to the text string, and redoing from start every time there is an error.

That would take forever, even on the fastest computer.

However, Evolution says life doesn't work like that. A better model is adding random letters, and progressing to the next letter--not redoing from start--with each correct match.

The overall solution space is the same, a tiny island of meaning within an overall nonsense space. However, the Evolutionary model would produce Romeo & Juliet in less than 15 minutes on a slow desktop computer.

So the fundamental question is which theory better describes life: recursion, or complete redo from start randomness.

If it is the former--anyone care to argue it isn't?--then this article is utterly irrelevant to the question of Evolution's truth value.

The journal should have publicized this article, invited peer review comment, and published those as well.

It would have been fun to see the article's statistical nonsense well and truly rubbished.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 5, 2004 7:47 AM

Bering Sea? Heh.

Thank you, Dennis Miller.

Posted by: Andrew X at October 5, 2004 7:54 AM

Jeff: doesn't recursion imply intelligent design? I think watson, above, was justified in excluding recursion because he's agruing against those who deny an intelligent scheme to things. Watson also seemed to argue that the creation of even one protein is so overwhelmingly improbable as to be, in my words, "miraculous." In fact, maybe recursion itself is the ringing handprint evolutionists deny.

Posted by: JimGooding at October 5, 2004 8:31 AM

Jim:

Jeff doesn't get that though. He thinks evolutionary recursion is identical to recursion in a computer program, but denies a programmer. And note that he's a complete determinist? Creation like Romeo and Juliet is a story written already and now reproduced here.

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 8:45 AM

OJ: I see....doesn't sound too scientific; or perhaps it's scientific but just not rational!

Posted by: JimGooding at October 5, 2004 8:52 AM

Jim:

Everything comes down to faith.

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 9:01 AM

oj:

Because "intelligent" design seems fairly incompetent and cruel. Tay-Sachs disease is the work of a loving God ??
Natural biological processes work at the "good enough" level, akin to Henry Ford's first buggy. That's not good craftership, that's the work of a being that doesn't much care.

Also, 99.9% of all the species that ever lived are now extinct.
Again, the appearance of indifference, and of haphazard, (one is tempted to say "random"), design.

Of course, it could always be said that humans have no way of knowing the mind of God, nor for what purpose beings are placed on Earth, and that's true enough.
Acts which seem heartless sometimes turn out to be motivated by compassion, once all factors are known. Kids don't like getting innoculated, and America just killed 10,000 Iraqis, give or take several thousand, in order to make the lives of hundreds of millions of Iraqis, Israelis, and Americans better.

So, if the world is imperfect on purpose, and God is benevolent, and God was communicating with us, one might think that She'd give us a better understanding of what to do, how to live, and why we're here.

However, what we have is a mishmash of conflicting advice claiming to be "The Word", some of it clearly advocating the authors' own biases.

Even the Ten Commandments, a seemingly straightforward and simplistic bit of guidance, is hypocritical if we're as we are on purpose.
Two through four are throwbacks to concepts of gods as superhumans, and seem a bit petty and redundant, especially for a Universe-creating God. If God gave us the Ten Commandments, I expect that one through four were actually meant to be one point.
Six through ten exhort us to rise above human nature, to place intellect and reason above our animal urges and biological propensities.
All well and good, IF we're raw material being taught how to transcend our physical selves.

IF, however, we've been obsessively crafted down to the amino acids which construct us, it's a bit sadistic. Therefore, if God isn't sadistic, and ID is true, then She doesn't communicate with us.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 5, 2004 9:33 AM

JD -

As others have tried to point out, the search, while random, is iterative. All that's requried is that there be optimized points in reasonably large locally continuous regions (continuous with respect to fitness, that is), not that they themselves occupy significant state-space.

Posted by: mike earl at October 5, 2004 11:02 AM

Michael Herdegen: He gave us the 10 commandments so we'd understand why he was giving us Christ.

Posted by: JimGooding at October 5, 2004 11:31 AM

JimGooding:

No, it does not. Recursion describes any process where the output of one iteration is the input of the next.

With regard to the cited article, if life is completely random--that is, their is no recursion, no inheritance of any kind--then the conclusions are correct.

However, if Natural history displays recursive properties, than the article is completely irrelevant at best, and (depending on the author's awareness) intellectually dishonest at worst.

That is the point in play, not OJ's silly mischaracterization of my comment and ignorance of recursion. R&J is simply an example showing that a recursive process, when applied against some test (R&J being a proxy for the result of one iterationbeing sufficiently within the allowed information space to survive to the next), can produce complex outcomes within time spans vanishingly small with respect to those cited in the article.

So, regardless of the truth value of ID or Evolution, the argument the article poses is precisely the sort of thing that gives Creationists/IDers the reputation as either buffoons or liars.

Michael's point is excellent. A God capable of, and by the lights of this article, required to, manipulate the proteins of life down to the atomic level bears all the blame (or should that be credit?) for slaughtering, as just a couple examples, untold millions of fetuses and mothers over the ages.

If you agree with that article, then it has conclusively proven that Christians worship some fluffy simulacrum of the Real Thing--a sadistic, malevolent entity making humans look like perfection in comparison.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 5, 2004 12:12 PM

It occurred to me that part of the difficulty is the confusion of two different processes. One is the mutation of existing proteins, the other the production of new, novel ones.

The mutation of existing proteins is analogous to monkeys randomly overtyping an existing sequence. Since it appears that proteins are sensitive to even small changes, it seems unlikely that there exists Mike Earl's regions of large, locally continuous regions. Experiments in induced mutations have shown that most are lethal, and the others produce organisms which are unfit (freaks). In the monkey analogy, most of the resulting overtyped strings produce the death of the monkey typists.

Jeff's invocation of recursion apparently addresses the creation of new proteins. We are to assume some "n" base-pair and the addition of some base-pair to produce an "(n+1)" base-pair sequence. If the original base-pair was for an active protein, then the additions must not make it non-functional -- but when the new protein sequence finally occurs, production of the original, presumably essential, protein ceases. On the other hand, if the "n" base sequence is not being used and is somehow activated after the appropriate base pairs are added, then there has been no selection pressure on the sequence, and we are back to a random search.

Posted by: jd watson at October 5, 2004 12:56 PM

Jef:

He's not required to if He uses recursion.

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 1:12 PM

JD:

You typed:

"One is the mutation of existing proteins, the other the production of new, novel ones."

Is there a difference?

My invocation of recursion clouded the issue somewhat--I meant to demonstrate only that through recursion one can get in very short time what would never happen otherwise--it actually applies to both cases. The fundamental point is that no matter how you look at it, the article treats a protein as if it is created in its entirety out of whole cloth--that is simply not the case

It is also noteworthy that a great many proteins are highly conserved across an amazing range of species. For instance, the proteins that control body plan in insects are virtually the same as those in humans.

OJ:

You can't have it both ways--either this article is a complete waste of time in proving ID (or disproving Evolution), or it achieves its goal and God must, because material phenomena are insufficient to produce the observed change in the available time.

It just may be Darwin was the first to explain God's true plan--kick start life and walk away. Trying to force fit God's obvious plan into your desires is pretty sound proof that religion is all about you.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 5, 2004 3:01 PM

Jeff:
"'One is the mutation of existing proteins, the other the production of new, novel ones.' Is there a difference?"

Of course, and you later provide a perfect example, i.e. the body-plan proteins. The slight differences betweeen various animals are mutations of existing, vital, and strongly preserved proteins, while their presence in animals and not plants or protozoa is an example of a new protein arising somewhere back there.

I don't want to be misunderstood, nor is there the strict dichotomy you direct at OJ. Criticism of current evolutionary theory, if correct, does not mean ID is true or prove God exists, only that the theory itself is insufficient or wrong -- there may be modifications to evolution or another theory altogether which provide a materialistic account. I am slightly inclined toward a disease theory of mutation, particularly viral since viruses tinker directly with the DNA -- the point is that we really don't know and shouldn't act like we do.

Posted by: jd watson at October 5, 2004 3:49 PM

All theories are more or less insufficient. Only religionists require certainty.

I understand Jeff's point but wish he hadn't used 'Romeo & Juliet,' since that sneaks teleology in the back door, which is what an ID argument has to do -- that is, it assumes the point it purports to prove.

On purely logical grounds -- ignore life for a moment -- no ID argument applied to anything makes any sense.

While it is true that many changes to proteins are lethal, it is also true that many changes to proteins are not lethal.

And once you get big proteins, the concept 'many' is a very big number indeed. (This might help explain the very long period it took life to accumulate some big proteins.)

Consider hemoglobin. Lot of different types, almost, I think, one for every species of mammal.

And the penicillin example is an excellent one for how evolution works. Penicillin comes for an organism very, very, very far removed from humans.

Yet it works very well inside a human organism. Somebody designed that?

I don't think so.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 5, 2004 4:13 PM

>"But the politics are interesting. I am struck by how you and so many evolutionists are not content to say ID is wrong and explain why. You must take the position that it is not science, even though it is being positied by scientists and is full or arcane data, observations and calculations. Of course, the practical effect of this is that you and your judicially active allies can use this argument to keep it from being taught in schools on the grounds that is it an imposition of faith. Science, of course, no matter how shakey, suspect or nebulous, is gloriously neutral and can always be taught. That's why we can't teach the Ten Commandments but impose courses on sexual hygiene for tweens. I'm surprised you aren't more troubled by that."

Peter, the arcane calculations don't make it science. What is the scientific definition of Design? How can you scientifically quantify that an artifact was designed? You can't. It is a subjective criteria. The ID proponents try to poke holes in Evolution, and then propose ID as the only possible alternative. Why?

"I'm still waiting for the day that you, Jeff or Harry admit that wrong or bad or discredited science is still science."

Discredited science is like a losing ticket to yesterday's lottery. Until it is discredited, it has some value. After, it is worthless. You can call it science, but only a fool would be an adherent of it.

AD is not just wrong science, it is willfully wrong science. It is science in the service of an ideology. It is like "feminist science" proving that there are no difference between men and women as a basis for promoting the political views of the feminists.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at October 5, 2004 4:20 PM

Jeff:

Darwinism is obviously untrue, but even were it true it could just be how Creation works.

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 4:22 PM

Yes, Darwinism is how Creation works, but that's irrelevant to Darwinism.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 5, 2004 6:33 PM

In much the sense the Baker is irrelevant to the cookie.

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 7:17 PM

JD:

In the limited time available, I haven't been able to make myself clear. My critique has nothing whatsoever to do with Evolution; rather, it is directed at the adequacy of the argument the proposes to disprove Evolution.

In this regard, as science it fails utterly because it proposes a test that has nothing to do with the phenomena at hand.

The dichotomy I posed to OJ also has nothing to do with the truth value of Evolution, but rather the implications of the article's argument. If taken as stipulated, it well and truly wipes Darwin right off the court. But that, as Michael noted, isn't the only consequence--the fellow traveler should be at least as unfriendly as Evolution to religionists.

Harry is right--my use of R&J was far too restrictive.

I wish the periodical had trumpeted its mistake, rather than suppressing it, and inviting peer review comment for a special subsequent issue. I can understand, though, why they didn't. This is another in a series of Creationism/ID arguments that is either so vapid, or blatantly dishonest, as to badly tar the whole enterprise.

Similarly, statements apropos of nothing along the lines of "Darwinism is obviously untrue," or "all extinctions are caused by catastrophes or humans" simply serve to make proponents of ID look ridiculous.

BTW--I think I remember some Saint or another (Augustine, perhaps?) saying one could approach the truth of God through nature, just as one can potentially know something of the baker through the cookie.

If true, the God you worship has nothing to do with the God that is.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 5, 2004 9:14 PM

Jeff:

"My critique has nothing whatsoever to do with Evolution; rather, it is directed at the adequacy of the argument the proposes to disprove Evolution."

You're missing the point then. You accept Evolution on faith so think it must be disproven. The rest of us assume a scientific theory must be proven first.

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 11:16 PM

I have to admit to being torn by this. On the one hand, I believe that G-d wishes us to come to Him through faith or, if you prefer, by act of will, and not through reason. On the other hand, I find it almost impossible to conclude that Darwinian evolution could result in two sexes within the same species.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 5, 2004 11:17 PM

Basing evolution as a recursive function applied to life, as Jeff does, would count as an incomplete proof mathematically.

For something to be recursive, you have to have TWO things: an initial state and a recursive rule. Evolution claims to have found the recursive rule where, given a form of life, has found how a better ("fitter") form can arise.

The problem is the initial state: The rule works only when there is life to begin with, in the same way that the rule of compound interest works: M(x)*1.0001->M(x+1) is the rule, but M(0) must necessarily be greater than 0 if the formula is to (eventually) make one a millionare. It is all well and good to tell a poor man that he can be a millionare, but coming up with the initial nest egg, and the right investment, is the hard part. Even those of us with a nest egg, and a 401K, can attest to the fundamental difficulty of just choosing the right investment. The fibbonacci series (M(X)=M(X-1)+M(X-2)) requires that M(0)==M(1)==1. Setting both to 0 makes for a boring set of members.

Merely coming up with a recursive rule isn't enough: you must set up the right initial conditions to "get things going": otherwise, you must postulate an infinite regress working backwards. You can look at the equation to guess a good initial condition, but for Evolution, the initial condition is set for us: NO LIFE. Period. You MUST start there, unless you want to postulate some condition of space or matter that somehow guides random molecules in a chaotic environment into a self-assembling initial state. Other than that, M(0)==M(1)==0, and there's no getting around it.

My thinking is that the paper is pre-mature, in that our mathematics is not powerful enough to precisely figure the odds of random selection of highly specialized reproductive molecules. For starters, we have to have full knowledge of the end result, meaning we have step-by-step instructions on how to assemble a self-replicating macro-molecule/assembly that can endure a certain amount of variance to be the proper M(0) to feed into the Evolutionary recursive function. We simply, at this time, DON'T KNOW what the bare minimum is for life. Studying viruses is a dead end, in that they require highly advanced life forms whose complexity allows them to reproduce.

Missing the initial conditions is an easy thing to do: The programming languages LISP and Scheme use recursion as one of their key programming tools. I can tell you, from observation, that most novice programmers get the recursive function right and lose points on the initial conditions, either leaving them out, choosing the wrong numeric constant, or blowing the test for the initial condition.

My thanks to Jeff: His argument may have been incomplete, but even a bad solution can lead to a good one...

Posted by: Ptah at October 5, 2004 11:17 PM

I will happily admit that science that has since been junked (but which was not initally junk science) was real science.

The most obvious examples come from chemistry, where the initial theory about ratios in compounds turned out to be all wrong.

Or, the Copenhagen Interpretation.

David, as I often recommend, a bit of study in plant biology will often enlighten the skeptic about evolution.

Among some of the lower plants, there are more than two sexes, in some cases hundreds, although the plant physiologists do not use the term 'sex' beyond 2; and even in some of the cases of 2, they refrain from designating one male and one female, contenting themselves with + and -.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 6, 2004 1:31 AM

A cookie is a perfect analogy.

When one bakes, one turns on the oven, sets it to a specific temperature, measures out the ingredients, mixes them, drops the cookie dough on the baking sheet, bakes for a specific time, cools, and voila !!!
Cookies.

However.
Temperature control knobs are typically analog, sparsely marked, and manually set.
Even if were to exactly set the knob, consumer household ovens aren't finely calibrated, and the tempurature fluctuates as heat is applied, cycling around the tolerance of the thermostat.

Almost all flour contains a minute amount of contaminants, such as insect parts and rodent droppings.
Ask Harry what's in the sugar.
If nuts are used, there are mold spores present.
The butter contains trace amounts of bovine growth hormone and antibacterials.

Most cooks eyeball the measurements, but even when attempting to be precise, measuring cups and spoons are only approximations of the stated volume, and often a remnant clings to the surface of the measure when adding the ingredients to the mixing bowl.

The ratio of each ingredient to the others isn't uniformly distributed when the dough is mixed, especially if nuts or chips are added.

Some bits of dough on the cookie sheet are larger than others, some have more chips.

Some cookies burn.

A Darwinistic process, with all contributing factors vague, adulterated, imprecise, and randomly mixed.
Yet, we're never (usually) in doubt about the outcome.

An ID cook would be in a lab, with a hideously expensive mixer and oven, using a microscope and tweezers to precisely place each molecule of home-grown-and-processed flour and fat into a perfect matrix.
It's possible to do, but completely unnecessary to get cookies.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 6, 2004 3:04 AM

Ptah:

Excellent response. I disagree, though, that Evolutionary theory needs to describe how life got going.

In fact, I think it would be a virtual contradiction in terms for Evolution to even approach that problem for one simple reason: it doesn't matter to Evolutionary theory whether first life was a purely materialistic phenomena, planted by some aliens, or courtesy of God.

Because of that conceptual agnosticism, the initial conditions are simply outside Evolution's problem space.

OJ:
"You're missing the point then. You accept Evolution on faith so think it must be disproven. The rest of us assume a scientific theory must be proven first."

No, I'm not, and my point could not be clearer: the article's argument is completely irrelevant to the point at hand--that conclusion has nothing whatsoever to do with Evolution's truth value, or lack thereof. (In fact, I don't think I've said anything one way or another about Evolution in this thread.)

Similarly, at one time Creationists/IDers used Thermodynamics to disprove Evolution. No matter what one's position on Evolution, that argument was unmitigated crap.

Which demonstrates the Creationist problem--they don't, nor apparently do you, understand what acceptance or rejection of a scientific theory entails. Popping out tarted up examples of irrelevant or scurriluous reasoning only hurts the cause.

David:
Harry is completely correct about plant biology. While I strongly suspect similar materialistic phenomena will ultimately account for the wide variety of species among animals, clearly that box is, as yet, very big, and very, very black.

However, it is possibly less so in regard to two sexes. There is some evidence to suggest that, like mitochondria, the males got their start as parasites.

I'm sure there are a great many women who will attest to that.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 6, 2004 8:01 AM

Ptah:

Excellent response. I disagree, though, that Evolutionary theory needs to describe how life got going.

In fact, I think it would be a virtual contradiction in terms for Evolution to even approach that problem for one simple reason: it doesn't matter to Evolutionary theory whether first life was a purely materialistic phenomena, planted by some aliens, or courtesy of God.

Because of that conceptual agnosticism, the initial conditions are simply outside Evolution's problem space.

OJ:
"You're missing the point then. You accept Evolution on faith so think it must be disproven. The rest of us assume a scientific theory must be proven first."

No, I'm not, and my point could not be clearer: the article's argument is completely irrelevant to the point at hand--that conclusion has nothing whatsoever to do with Evolution's truth value, or lack thereof. (In fact, I don't think I've said anything one way or another about Evolution in this thread.)

Similarly, at one time Creationists/IDers used Thermodynamics to disprove Evolution. No matter what one's position on Evolution, that argument was unmitigated crap.

Which demonstrates the Creationist problem--they don't, nor apparently do you, understand what acceptance or rejection of a scientific theory entails. Popping out tarted up examples of irrelevant or scurriluous reasoning only hurts the cause.

David:
Harry is completely correct about plant biology. While I strongly suspect similar materialistic phenomena will ultimately account for the wide variety of species among animals, clearly that box is, as yet, very big, and very, very black.

However, it is possibly less so in regard to two sexes. There is some evidence to suggest that, like mitochondria, the males got their start as parasites.

I'm sure there are a great many women who will attest to that.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 6, 2004 8:31 AM

Michael:

Exactly. A Creator needn't have intended us precisely. It suffices that once the controls are set you get a rough approximation of us. The entire SETI project assumes that there are more like us--it's a sublime expression of Science's determinism.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2004 8:47 AM

David:

Actually, if you consider, say, frogs, it'll be obvious how sex evolves. One party starts 'cheating' by producing eggs with smaller than normal food stores - a proto-sperm - and then the dynamics destablise, and you end up with some gametes that have no food stores to speak off, and some that have enough to gestate.

Posted by: mike earl at October 6, 2004 9:59 AM

OJ:

You are bending the Creator to your plan. Just because you think it suffices has no bearing on what the Creator thinks suffices--the Creator is not all about you.

Perhaps you should look at the lead article at http://www.corante.com/loom/. It is about lice. Apparently they are very species specific. Their genetic evolution exactly mirrors human divergence from apes.

Just like Darwin would predict. Apparently your Intelligent Designer screwed up another chance to bin Evolutionary theory. You should talk to him/her/it about that.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 6, 2004 11:54 AM

The Creator says He made us in His image and everyone believes that a Creation with its controls fine-tuned as ours are will Create beings capable of comprehending Him and likely duplicating his work one day. It is indeed all about us.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2004 12:04 PM

No, someone said the Creator said.

Far from everyone believes such, and is irrelevant to what nature reveals.

What nature reveals is something else--and a Creator--entirely different from what your everyone believes.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 6, 2004 2:21 PM

Harry: Huh?

Jeff & Mike: Development of sexual reproduction by two different sexes within one species requires multiple wildly unlikely mutations to occur simultaneously. Combined with the fact that sex differentiation seems to have occurred relatively early (which, in one sense, it would have to do) leads me to conclude that either we haven't the faintest clue about the mechanism, or life exists no where else but here. (Hey, wait, I believe both those things.)

Posted by: David Cohen at October 6, 2004 2:48 PM

Jeff:

God says He Created. Darwinism proposes a rather simple recursive process--identical to what we use in computer programming, you insist--that Creates. Darwin seems quite wrong, but those of you who believe him believe in I.D..

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2004 3:05 PM

David:

You are right--among the characteristics of life that are both most amazing, and whose genesis is least likely to be known, that has to be at the top of the list.

OJ:
People, not God, say what God says.

Your continued repeating that Darwin seems quite wrong doesn't get true simply by rote repetition.

Did you read that link above?

I'll bet there are all kinds of Creationists/IDers that got all misty eyed over evidence when it came to discrediting those memos about Pres Bush's ANG service.

It would bear a whiff of hypocrisy, at the very least, to ignore evidence substantiating Darwinism's every prediction.

If your idea of ID is some Hairy Thunderer kick starting life then promptly putting it on disregard, then yes, I suppose I believe in ID.

But that isn't your idea; nor is it the idea of any Creationist/IDer

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 6, 2004 3:43 PM

Jeff:

The link doesn't work.

Darwin though did not predict, he argued backwards from the present. That's one of the ways in which it isn't science.

If the Hairy Thunderer sets in motion a process that, as we all acknowledge, must produce intelligence that can comprehend Him, then Intelligent Design appears to work quite well.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2004 3:53 PM

Excellent response. I disagree, though, that Evolutionary theory needs to describe how life got going.

In fact, I think it would be a virtual contradiction in terms for Evolution to even approach that problem for one simple reason: it doesn't matter to Evolutionary theory whether first life was a purely materialistic phenomena, planted by some aliens, or courtesy of God.

Because of that conceptual agnosticism, the initial conditions are simply outside Evolution's problem space.

Thank you. However, most textbooks on evolution try to explain life origins (initial conditions) in addition to evolution (recursive process). It is NECESSARY to give the initial conditions: you can't have solely a recursive process hanging in the air with no initial conditions.

One rather common error to mathematical proofs involving inductive reasoning (recursion), is to assume M(N) and show how one goes from M(N-1) to M(N), rather than the correct process of assuming M(N) and proving how one goes to M(N+1). It's illegal because it permits the person to "cheat" on the initial conditions by declaring that if M(N-1) leads to M(N), and N must be positive, then M(0) is proved since 0http://www-not.hit.no/efl/mat/tekster/mat_bevs.html
)

OJ's comment states that Darwin worked backwards. THIS is what he meant...

Posted by: Ptah at October 6, 2004 4:24 PM

Every scientist works backwards.

One way you tell whether your work is any good is whether, after you've stated your case, it then works forward as well.

Darwinism performs perfectly on this test.

ID not so good. Lice are a pretty good example. We all have eyebrow lice. They don't do us any harm, nor any good. In fact, except from their own point of view -- which is to produce more eyebrow lice -- they have no purpose whatever.

Darwinism is OK with this, but what does ID say?

It has to say something. A biological theory that cannot account for eyebrow lice is not much of a theory.

David, the origin of sex among plants does not require many 'wildly unlikely mutations.'

The series of mutations required is large, but the steps are very small. The intermediate steps are observable and, contrary to ID, they all work.

Seed plants are more successful, today, than ferns, but ferns used to be more successful. They have different approaches to reproduction.

Michael: ordinary table sugar is probably the purest substance you will ever come in contact with unless you work in a laboratory with reagents.

It's about 99.999% sucrose. Purer than drinking water and about 4 orders of magnitude purer than table salt.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 6, 2004 7:41 PM

Harry:

It is the failure of Darwin to predict anything going forward that robs it of the quality of science. Your point about head lice is elusive. They seem a small price to pay for Man.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2004 7:52 PM

OJ:

Try the link again--it worked perfectly for me just now.

Your notion of Darwin's failure to predict anything going forward as robbing it of some "quality" of science is both a, uh, novel interpretation.

And, oh by the way, completely wrong.

Ptah:

I believe you are wrong there. Weather is recursive--the weather yesterday affects today's which affects tomorrow's. But no one needs to somehow define what the initial condition of weather is. Just the same as with life--we can take as an initial condition life as it existed as far back as we can find it--say blue green algae of roughly 2.5BYP and work forward from there. From that initial condition forward, life is completely recursive.

Therefore, picking the moment life started would be nice, but it is irrelevant. In fact, I could pick the Theradonts as an initial condition, and life would still be completely recursive all the way to humans (it is the search for the recursion patterns that is the basis for building a phylogenetic tree--every node is an initial condition).

(Also, I don't believe recursion in the sense I am talking about is at all like inductive reasoning (Full disclosure here--I dreaded doing inductive proofs). Julia sets, for example, are recursive, but not at all inductive.)

But I have strayed from my initial point: life is recursive; the reasoning this article used to "disprove" Evolution (amazing how Creationists/IDers are continually harping about Darwinism's unfalsifiability whilst continually trotting out the latest, definitive falsification) has nothing whatsoever to do with recursion, which means it has nothing to do with Evolutionary theory.

So long as IDers continue these charades, their utter lack of credibility is assured. And they really should pay attention to the implications of what they write--for the conclusions to be drawn from this article are far more destructive of the Christian God (that would be, roughly, God Version 59684.8) than Evolutionary theory could ever be.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 6, 2004 9:39 PM

Jeff:

Yes, we can breed lice. But, like us, they don't evolve. It would be impressive if they'd become something other than lice over these tens of thousands of years.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2004 9:57 PM

oj:

If you want to say that given the conditions present on Earth, you'll eventually get humans, fine.
That's irrelevant to evolution, as Jeff Guinn and Ptah pointed out.

However, ID is claiming that God crafted every step along the way, which is not how you're using the label.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 7, 2004 5:26 AM

OJ:

We did not, in any active sense of the term "breed" lice.

Human lice are a separate species that not only cannot reproduce with other lice, they can't even survive elsewhere. That is, whether you like it or not, Evolution. Everything Evolutionary theory requires has happened with human lice.

Human lice are a perfect example of Evolutionary theory. They are new species whose appearance has occurred only since humans have existed. They became something other than what they were due to changes in their environment, and whose continued evolution not only exactly mirrors the spread of human populations, but utterly refutes the basis of the article that started this whole thread.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 7, 2004 7:15 AM

"in the active sense" is just weasel words. They're still just lice.

Posted by: oj at October 7, 2004 8:36 AM

"But, like us, they don't evolve. It would be impressive if they'd become something other than lice over these tens of thousands of years."

Sure, but if we'd have turned into big nasty cockroaches the humans would have killed us.

Duuuuuuuuuuh

Posted by: A Lice Spokesperson at October 7, 2004 11:01 AM

OJ:

They are not weasel words, they are an insistence you use language precisely.

We breed dogs and cows. We do not "breed" lice.

They are most certainly different lice because of their different environment with respect to the original population.

And they are a different species in every sense of the word--they can no longer reproduce with any other lice population, nor can they survive anywhere except on humans.

Your hand waving is becoming a bit pathetic.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 7, 2004 11:45 AM

They're lice as a collie is a dog.

Posted by: oj at October 7, 2004 11:49 AM

"They're lice as a collie is a dog"

What, you want us to turn into elephants or something?

Hey, we're not here for your entertainment.

Why do they call you OJ? Because you got the intellect of a glass of Tropicana?

Posted by: A Lice Spokesperson at October 7, 2004 11:54 AM

Human lice a different species from all other lice by every definition of the term.

They are definitely not lice as a collie is a dog. Unless that collie can't survive where other dogs do (and vice versa) and interbreed with other dogs.

Or unless words only mean what you choose them to.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 7, 2004 2:15 PM

Tens of thousands of years ago there were lice. After the passage of all that time and climactic change and dietary change and industrialization and pollution and the whole nine yards there are still lice, some marginally different than others. If that's the best you can do I suppose you'll need to cling to it like they cling to our furrowed brows, but that's simple breeding like Darwin observed farmers doing in England--it's not evolution.

Posted by: oj at October 7, 2004 2:31 PM

Spokesman:

You're gently nudging up against an insight there.

Posted by: oj at October 7, 2004 2:45 PM

Ah, I see where the argument is going astray: It appears that the thought that popped into my head 5 minutes after I pushed the "post" button was very apropos: Your claim that the Theory of Evolution does not need to bother with the origin of life debate since it's only INTENT was to provide the recursive function, not the initial conditions, is correct. It is okay for a theory to ASSUME certain initial conditions, but SCIENCE is not complete if the initial conditions cannot be PROVED: Newton's three laws of motion adequately explain certain aspects of the motion of material objects, but Science did not stop there, but went on to theorize about how matter came about. However, nobody involved in cosmology argues that the success of Newton's Three laws somehow PROVES a specific theory of how matter came about.

Per your argument, The Theory of Evolution DOES NOT EXPLAIN LIFE ORIGINS. The paper Orrin cited here ATTEMPTED TO ADDRESS LIFE ORIGINS, more specifically the concept of spontaneous generation, not evolution. Thus, any argument that says that the paper contradicts EVOLUTION is specious because, per your argument, Evolution's field of explanation doesn't attempt to explain that aspect. Nevertheless, a purely naturalistic Science MUST EXPLAIN life origins, even though, per your argument, Evolution alone can't carry the water...

Posted by: Ptah at October 7, 2004 3:46 PM

Bah, I re-read OJ's postle, and I was wrong about the article here being an Origins of life article. My apologies for being confused based on what now was a side-debate in these comments.

Still, I believe that we don't know enough about the workings of life and the genome to come up with a workable model that can be tested, and which can be used to show what is and isn't possible. For instance, all the work on thermodynamics is quite well proven, is used to design powerplants, AND assures us that certain feats, such as squeezing 50% efficiencies out of current power systems (limited to about 35% per the applicable scientific laws), are impossible. We're simply not there yet.

Posted by: Ptah at October 7, 2004 4:08 PM

Ptah:

Nobel laureate Fred Hoyle suggested that life had to have been brought here in cosmic debris, which of course begs the question of how it arose elsewhere.

Posted by: oj at October 7, 2004 4:23 PM

I did not say head lice, Orrin. I said eyebrow lice.

Very different, though both lice.

Eyebrow lice are specific to your eyebrows. Crab lice are also specific to humans but are different from head lice.

What I asked was why an Intelligent Designer would have bothered with eyebrow lice.

Head lice may not have a good purpose (from my point of view), but they can be argued -- by a deist -- to have the excellent purpose of being a reminder of our lousy (literally and figuratively) state in the hands of a sadistic god. We see this sort of purpose in the Book of Job, where God did not afflict Job with good looks and the ability to hit the curveball, but with boils.

However, we do not suffer from our eyebrow lice. Until now, you didn't even know you had 'em.

What was so intelligent about that?

As to another point, of course Darwinism projects.

The great open spot in Darwin's own formulation was the question of particulate inheritance.

He inferred that somehow inheritance had to be particulate, though there was absolutely no physical evidence available that it was so; nor was there even any theoretical evidence (that he knew of) to approach the question (because he did not know about Mendelism).

Yet all the other observations he had made did not cohere if inheritance was blending.

Like most early iterations of a really novel scientific theory, he had to choose between (or among) two (or more) possibilities.

He choose to stick with his ideas of natural selection and to predict that eventually inheritance would be found to be particulate.

Your position about breeding is -- though I don't think you understand the implications of your statements -- that inheritance is blending. According to you, we could start with eyebrow lice and breed back to head lice.

Maybe, although no one has ever done such a thing, and Darwinism suggests it's an extremely low probability event, if possible at all.

Anyhow, the issue has been settled. Darwin's prediction that inheritance would be found to be particulate was correct, and we know in detail, down to the photon level, how it works.

This was, perhaps, the greatest single prediction in the history of science and just as unlikely, based on the state of knowledge at the time, as the superficially more spectacular predictions of existence of additional subatomic particles.

The only prediction I can think of that was farther out-on-a-limb was Gell-Mann's prediction of discrete but inseparable particles, the subject of yesterday's award of the Nobel Prize for physics.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 7, 2004 4:38 PM

Harry:

Thus "they cling to our furrowed brows".

They're still just lice.

Posted by: oj at October 7, 2004 4:49 PM

Ptah:

Once again, a very thoughtful post.

We completely agree on your last point. Our notions of how the genome works are astonishingly incomplete. As you say, we simply aren't there yet.

If there is any room for the IDers to credibly play, it is here. Unfortunately, that is a God-of-the-Gaps strategy. It has been played before, but ultimately succeeds only in torpedoing credibility. The other problem is that, once invoked, it pretends an answer where the appropriate response is "dunno."

Harry is absolutely correct about particulate inheritance. One might also add that Darwin was the first to get a reasonably decent estimate on the earth's true age. Because the estimate contradicted Scripture, It so infuriated a fellow famous scientist (Lord Kelvin?) that he set out to prove through heat loss models that the earth could not possibly be that old.

So Darwin's theory posed a contradiction either Darwin was way off, or something as yet unknown had to be keeping the Earth's interior hot. Score another for Darwin.

"They're still just lice."

That makes no more sense than looking at a roadrunner and a petrel and saying they are just birds.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 7, 2004 7:50 PM

What do you think they are?

Posted by: oj at October 7, 2004 7:55 PM

Mr OJ, you're being silly in this thread. We refer to lots of creepy-crawlies as 'lice', that doesn't make them the same species. We're being lazy - the technical names will define the different species of lice but we don't use them in everyday speech.

Your argument is like saying Great Whites and sardines are still just 'fish' so they must be the same species and nothing ever evolved. You seem to be saying that evolution means everything has to keep changing into other things. For someone who makes a lot of comments on evolution I'm surprised at your apparent level of ignorance.

Posted by: at October 8, 2004 5:41 AM

What do I think they are?

Entirely different species.

What do I think dogs are?

Members of the same species.

Your approach to this issue is part an parcel of what makes Creationism/ID such a mockery.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 8, 2004 7:29 AM

Jeff:

Give me a farm and a bird and a few thousand years and I'll breed you any kind of bird you like, but it'll still just be a bird. But that's the point, whatever we end up with will remain birds, it explains nothing about evolution.

Posted by: oj at October 8, 2004 8:36 AM

Anonymous:

The things that aren't lice aren't lice. They're whatever they are and they stay that way too.

Posted by: oj at October 8, 2004 8:45 AM

OJ. You're wrong.

You're mixing up everyday linguistics with biological classification. By the same token one could argue that everything is a 'creature', there have always been 'creatures', we still have 'creatures' now, therefore nothing has changed and evolution never happened. You're making an elementary error.

Posted by: at October 8, 2004 9:07 AM

Anonymous:

No. I agree evolution happened. There were once-celled organisms, now there are birds, lice and men. Darwin explains why there are different kinds of lice, not why there are lice. It's an elegant application of the breeding techniques he observed to the natural world, but it explains rather little and nothing important.

Posted by: oj at October 8, 2004 9:36 AM

I've read your other theories now.

'gamma rays'.

You're cute.

Posted by: at October 8, 2004 9:55 AM

Anonymous:

I don't think anyone actually questions that cosmic rays cause mutation and may thereby drive evolution. The question is whether anything else does. We know mere Darwinism doesn't

Posted by: oj at October 8, 2004 10:06 AM

It does a pretty darn good job of explaining extinction.

That would seem at least fairly important.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 8, 2004 10:26 AM

jeff:

Why? We know we can kill stuff off--what we can't figure out is how it got created.

Posted by: oj at October 8, 2004 10:33 AM

OJ:

Almost all extinctions happened long before we arrived.

You are absolutely right that we can't figure out how new species get created. But this is where you tar Darwin with the wrong brush--he didn't offer any explanation either, other than "descent through variation," which is nothing more than an acknowledgment the box exists, and where it lies.

That is still a giant black box. But to make any particular conclusion from that vast ignorance--as Creationists/IDers are perpetually wont to do--is a self defeating exercise.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 8, 2004 12:07 PM

Jeff:

Okay, if Darwinism doesn't claim to explain how species arise and just says that marginal change within species--multiple kinds of lice and birds--occurs as they adapt to differing environments then no one disagrees with it. It's just a matter of breeding occuring naturally in much the way it does when humans intervene. That's a valuable insight but rather minor.

Posted by: oj at October 8, 2004 12:24 PM

OJ:

Darwin didn't claim to know specifically how variation arose, but rather conjectured that a journey of any length can be accomplished by enough of even the tiniest steps. So far, he has yet to be contradicted. The path from dinosaur to bird can be accomplished in thousands of tiny steps.

For a non-teleological, materialistic explanation of evolution to be wrong, it must be shown there is some insurmountable genetic barrier beyond which no further change is possible. Therefore, Evolution is in fact falsifiable.

But until you can prove that assertion, then any claim out of hand that Evolution is wrong--as opposed to incomplete--is completely unsupported.

No one doubts Evolutionary theory is incomplete (that incompleteness may be less than I assume--of all the areas within which I have little expertise, genetics is certainly one of them). If there is in fact some ID out there, the only way to determine that is to continue reducing the incompleteness through rational inquiry, until we are finally faced with an unresolvable contradiction.

So far, that hasn't happened.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 8, 2004 3:30 PM

Jeff:

That's where you close your eyes and make the leap of faith. thousands of tiny steps can get you two varieties of bird, not a bird and a non-bird. It was an appealing theory and it made some sense for folks to make the leap a hundred and fifty years ago, but not anymore.

Posted by: oj at October 8, 2004 3:34 PM

OJ:

No, that is where I open my eyes and say: I don't know. Until Evolutionary theory squares that circle it is at best incomplete, and possibly wrong.

Your claim of certainty is apropos of absolutely nothing--Nature has no need to adhere to your ignorance.

Unless you can identify the barrier between, say, dinosaur and bird (or raccoon and bear, or lemur and monkey, or fish and amphibian, or why humans have gills and tails, etc)--precisely where the boundary was, and why it was an insuperable gulf--then you are guilty of making a definifitive conclusion from ignorance.

Which is precisely why Creationism/ID should never be taught as any form of rational inquiry.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 8, 2004 8:24 PM

Jeff:

I'm not going to argue with you if you agree that Darwinism can't explain evolution. In fact I'd like many hours of my life and our bandwidth back.

Posted by: oj at October 8, 2004 9:03 PM

"In fact I'd like many hours of my life and our bandwidth back."

But then you'd have to get a job.

Posted by: at October 10, 2004 12:52 PM

"thousands of tiny steps can get you two varieties of bird, not a bird and a non-bird"

That's not so.

We have a good record of the steps from ungulates (four legged land mammals) through to modern whales. Wholly different 'birds', those.

Follow the 'tiny steps' back and we know all sorts of things not only about the branching of species, but indeed the very classes of vertebrates: mammals (appeared 225 mya), reptiles (310 mya), amphibians (370 mya) etc.

Posted by: at October 10, 2004 1:06 PM

OJ:

I'll make you a bargain.

You stop making preprosterous conclusions from ignorance, and you can have all the bandwidth back.

If you hold up your end of the bargain, you won't have anything to say.

BTW--the phylogenetic tree is a fact. So, unless you are willing to stand up and say every new species is the product of two parents created out of whole cloth (e,g, the first two birds) then you must accept that all new species are in fact connected by an endless chain of descent to the very first life form.

So the only point about Evolution available for discussion is how the variation came about.

Blanket conclusions on that subject are sheer nonsense--you wouldn't accept such a thing about any other subject, so why this one?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 10, 2004 6:58 PM

Jeff:

Speciation appears to be the product of external forces, not incremental change.

Posted by: oj at October 10, 2004 8:10 PM

"Speciation appears to be the product of external forces, not incremental change"

1) According to what evidence? Can you provide a link?

2) Do you mean that, conceptually, speciation cannot physically occur by incremental change in any case? Or do you have positive evidence that speciation has usually occured as a result of external forces?

3) What do you mean by 'external forces'? Are you implying that some event like a natural disaster or climate change (eg. an Ice Age), will probably acclerate speciation by forcing small populations to adapt to new environments and therefore new selective pressures - hence the sudden 'explosions' in new species (in which case virtually all Darwinists would agree with you)? Or are you still talking about God's gamma rays?

Posted by: nonny at October 11, 2004 6:27 AM

OJ:

"Speciation appears to be the product of external forces, not incremental change..

Back it up.

"... thousands of tiny steps can get you two varieties of bird, not a bird and a non-bird."

Still haven't backed that empty assertion.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 11, 2004 7:07 AM

Jeff:

Don't need to--they're just competing concepts, as Mayr acknowledges.

Posted by: oj at October 11, 2004 8:35 AM

OJ:

Nonsense--assertions of fact are not concepts.

So you need to do one of two things, either back up your assertions with evidence, or stop making them.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 11, 2004 11:45 AM

Jeff:

Of course that all they are. But in this case we aren't even talking about alleged facts, even Mayr acknowledges that Darwinism is just a concept, not science or factual:

biology is not the same sort of thing as the physical sciences. And I cannot give a long lecture now on that subject, that's what the book is for.

I'll give you an example. In principle, biology differs from the physical sciences in that in the physical sciences, all theories, I don't know exceptions so I think it's probably a safe statement, all theories are based somehow or other on natural laws. In biology, as several other people have shown, and I totally agree with them, there are no natural laws in biology corresponding to the natural laws of the physical sciences.

Now then you can say, how can you have theories in biology if you don't have laws on which to base them? Well, in biology your theories are based on something else. They're based on concepts. Like the concept of natural selection forms the basis of, practically the most important basis of, evolutionary biology. You go to ecology and you get concepts like competition or resources, ecology is just full of concepts. And those concepts are the basis of all the theories in ecology. Not the physical laws, they're not the basis.

Posted by: oj at October 11, 2004 11:59 AM

You make numerous obvious errors here, OJ.

"Darwinism is just a concept, not science or factual"

First, Mayr doesn't say Darwinism is not a science or not factual, he says it differs in some respects from "physical sciences". It's still a science and its full of facts.

Second, calling something a "concept" does not make it of equal validity to all other "concepts". Some, like Darwinism, are backed by evidence. Others, like Creationism, are not.

Third, you haven't defined what your 'external forces' are, but they seem to be God's gamma rays.

God's gamma rays and Darwinism are not "just competing concepts".

Darwinism is an advanced science. The only thing your "concept" is competing for is the award for most crazy explanation of speciation.

Posted by: nonny at October 11, 2004 12:13 PM

nonny:

They're both just faiths--you think your faith is factual, I think mine is. Neither of us has any evidence. The advantage is to me though because I think faith superior to reason.

Posted by: oj at October 11, 2004 12:27 PM

Riiiight (*backs slowly away*)

That's nice for you (*runs*)

Posted by: nonny at October 11, 2004 12:50 PM

OJ:

I think I can detect when your argument is completely bankrupt.

You provide an answer having nothing to do with the question asked.

We are most assuredly talking about assertions--the ones you made. To repeat:

"Speciation appears to be the product of external forces, not incremental change..

"... thousands of tiny steps can get you two varieties of bird, not a bird and a non-bird."

To which I might add: "Extinctions are due only to catastrophes or humans"

Assertions all. Back them up.

BTW--"Neither of us has any evidence." You have real funny ideas about evidence, until you can use it to support your point of view on something. CBS memos ring a bell?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 11, 2004 1:28 PM

Jeff:

They needn't be backed up. They are simple counter-assertions to yours. It's a battle of concepts, not of facts.

Posted by: oj at October 11, 2004 1:56 PM

OJ:

You are bringing a wishing well to a gun fight.

If you want to play at rational inquiry, then you have to back up your assertions with evidence.

Otherwise, stick to making up fables, I'm sorry, concepts, completely immune to any critical inspection, or basis in observation, whatsoever. That's what religionists are good at.

If one were to try and pose a better illustration of how reason is vastly different from religion, or why, until it subjects itself to the rigor of rational inquiry, Creationism/ID needs to be kept as far away from science classes as humanly possible, your response surely takes the cake.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 11, 2004 2:52 PM

Jeff:

There is no evidence to support Darwinism as you yourself acknowledge, it's just a theory. The notion that non-Darwinists are required to disprove Darwinism rather than Darwinists prove it is preciselty what makes it a faith rather than a science.

Posted by: oj at October 11, 2004 3:04 PM

OJ:

You are dodging the point yet again. I'm not asking you to do anything with respect to Darwinism, only back up your assertions with something more substantial than endless repetition.

On top of that, you are putting words into my mouth. I clearly said that the precise mechanism behind variation is as yet unknown, which is a far, far cry from saying there is no supporting evidence.

Think of cigarettes--the precise mechanism behind the consequent heart disease is unknown, but that doesn't mean there isn't any evidence to support the theory there is a strong causal link between the two.

Evolution is well and truly established as a viable theory--the theory has been repeatedly proven wherever sufficient information exists. Evolutionary scientists are obligated to continue investigating incompleteness wherever it may be.

And if Creationists/IDers ever hope to be taking seriously, then they are obligated to back up their assertions with evidence.

You seem to be an expert in the area of faith. But you are well and truly at sea when it comes to science.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 11, 2004 3:26 PM

Jeff:

I repeat, you repeat.

Posted by: oj at October 11, 2004 3:32 PM

That's wrong. You dodge.

Rational inquiry is the only known process to ascertain the relative truth value of competing propositions. Further, it is a process that applies equally well regardless of one's theological persuasion.

It is possible to establish the truth value of the assertion that all extinctions are due to catastrophes or humans. It is not a concept, it is an assertion. You made it, back it up.

Or add to the ash heap of intellectually bankrupt claims attributable to Creationism/ID.

Just like the article that started this whole thing.

I wonder if the instigators realized they were scoring an own goal?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 11, 2004 7:26 PM

Jeff:

Rational inquiry demonstrates its own inability to ascertain anything It shows faith is all we have. Your form of faith is that Reason does not subvert itself..

Every extinction ever observed was caused by man. (Past extionctions occured in clumps at the time of catastrophes.) When one occurs that isn't I'll gladly concede your point.

Posted by: oj at October 11, 2004 7:38 PM

OJ:

What's with "ever observed?" That is a new qualification.

My whole point has nothing to do with extinctions or Darwinism. It has everything to do with making an appropriate, analytical, persuasive argument--something you generally excel at, but abandon entirely when it comes to Evolution.

If you make material claims, you need to back them up. For instance, I have a paleontology book loaded with examples of species that became extinct long before humans, and absent catastrophe. That is my substantiation. What is yours? I am perfectly willing to concede your point on extinctions if the evidence you can marshall is more persuasive than what I have. But on mere account of your say-so does not count as evidence.

Rational inquiry per se is a process, not a faith. Until Creationists/IDers are willing to subject themselves to that process, what they do--the claims you make--have nothing to do with rational inquiry.

Reason can ascertain many things. Aristotlean physics and Newtonian physics make different claims, and reason clearly ascertains which is correct. As well, it can ascertain the relative truth value of claims that the CBS memos were fake and real. You have arrived at a conclusion on that score, and you based it on rational inquiry.

If you truly believe what you just wrote, you will never again avail yourself of an evidentiary argument.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 12, 2004 7:39 AM

It seems clear to me that OJ has conceded much more ground as regards the scientific explanations of evolution (Darwinism being, as we all know, the only genuine scientific explanation of evolution) than most religious people do, but nonetheless understandably wishes to squeeze God into the process somewhere.

He hopes to do this at the point of speciation, although he depends for his argument on a one-off suspension of the normal course of rationally weighing the evidence for and against competing explanations of a phenomenon. He depends, in fact, on the concept: "if you can't absolutely prove something, one explanation (or 'faith') is as good as another".

Personally, I think OJ has already ceded too much ground by accepting that natural selection does occur at all, since there is no real conceptual or practical boundary between Darwinistic change within a species, which he accepts, and Darwinistic speciation, which he does not.

Once you've accepted that selective pressures can produce any kind of change, you're on the slippery slope - speciation is an arbitrary place to draw the line since Darwinism need only suggest that it occurs when groups within a population become separated from each other and face varying selective pressures.

OJ's argument is especially precarious if he does not define, or defines incorrectly, what 'species' means ("penguin" and "eagle" are different species; it soesn't have to be "bird" and "non-bird").

However, I can't help thinking Jeff's relentless pursuit is probably futile, and perhaps a little ugly - why be so keen to attack a man's supernatural beliefs? The ground OJ stands on is so narrow that he must occasionally feel himself peering into that old abyss: 'a crisis of faith.'

Though again, OJ does bring it on himself with all these silly posts attacking Darwinism.

Posted by: nonny at October 12, 2004 8:22 AM

Jeff:

No it isn't--what else could proof come from but observation and experimentation, both of which suggest the falsehood rather than the truth of Darwinism.

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2004 8:36 AM

nonny:

You're at least 15 decades out of date if you think most Creationists deny there were dinosaurs at some point.

darwin started from the obvious, that men can change animals by breeding them, which we're all agreed, but then madfe the faith leap you make above that therefore it shouyld be possible via mere breeding to cause speciation. Science has in the time since pretty conclusively demonstrated otherwise.

Evolution is real, but we can be newarly certain that Darwinism does not explain it. There may well be a "natural" theory that does, but materialists/secularists have gotten themselves so side-tracked defending an ideology that they aren't even looking. The theory is in existential crisis with fewer and fewer people buying it so the defenders get more and more frantic--it's a classic pattern for any religious doctrine.

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2004 8:43 AM

Please provide the scientific sources of your quotes: "Science has in the time since pretty conclusively demonstrated otherwise."

and

"observation and experimentation, both of which suggest the falsehood rather than the truth of Darwinism."

I have yet to encounter any scientific study "conclusively demonstrating" that Darwinism cannot explain speciation.

I would be grateful if you could point me in the direction of one.

Posted by: at October 12, 2004 8:47 AM

Yes, you can't ever prove a negative--the point is there is no affirmative evidence.

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2004 8:59 AM

But there is an overwhelmingly large quantity of readily-available affirmative evidence, I'm afraid: from molecular science, from biogeography, from fossils, from genetics etc.

All available from any book shop with a science department. Or online, you can do worse than start at the excellent website 'talk origins': http://www.talkorigins.org/

Posted by: nonny at October 12, 2004 9:42 AM

nonny:

yes, that's all evidence that evolution occurred, which isn't in dispute., What's lacking is so much as a single piece of evidence that Darwinism results in evolution, rather than being a kind natural breeding within species.

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2004 9:55 AM

No, it's all evidence for Darwinism as well.

Posted by: nonny at October 12, 2004 10:05 AM

Nonny:

I am not attacking OJ's religious beliefs--or at least I don't intend to. For you to have brought that up, I must have left that impression somewhere. If so, I apologize, for that is not my intent.

Rather, I am criticizing the making of material claims absent any sort of support. For instance "observation and experimentation, both of which suggest the falsehood rather than the truth of Darwinism." Fine. What observation and experimentation?

This goes to the heart of the Creationist/ID enterprise. It has repeatedly attempted to adopt the mantle of rational inquiry while posing materialistic arguments that so far (a reasonable distance; I have spent a fair amunt of time looking for, and assessing these arguments) as I have been able to determine, are some combination of specious, irrelevant, or intentionally deceptive. The article that led to this thread is at least one of those two.

OJ:

Within the context of a scientific theory, it is possible to prove a negative by presenting a contradiction, which is what Nonny means. In order to substantiate your assertion, you need to show where it is impossible for Evolution to explain the appearance of new kingdoms, phyla, or genera.

You have asserted this is true. If you can substantiate this assertion, there is a Nobel in it for you, which would purchase far more bandwidth than I could ever hope to use.

Otherwise, your assertion is meaningless, since all the available evidence fails to point to such an insuperable barrier.

Acknowledging a theory's incompleteness is far from an existential crisis. All theories are incomplete. However, even if some deus ex machina is found manipulating genetic levers, that only fills in an existing gap; it has nothing whatsoever to do with the other half of Evolution: extincion.

Further, I submit that if such a directive outside agent is found, it will be far, far more destructive to monotheistic than materialist belief systems.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 12, 2004 10:34 AM

Jeff:

That's not science. You don't get to call a theory true un til disproved, you have to prove it. Darwinism can not be disproved which is why it is a religion.

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2004 11:30 AM

OJ:

That proves you have no idea what constitutes a proving a scientific theory.

A scientific theory explains the observed evidence, explains the observations better than competing theories, and makes testable assertions about what further observations must entail.

That is science, and that is what constitutes scientific proof.

Further, there is ample room to disprove Evolution--there have been many opportunities for just such an eventuality. That it hasn't happened yet indicates how robust a theory Evolution is.

In fact, asserting that Evolution cannot be disproved is another material claim that requires substantiation.

Nonny:

Thanks for the link--lots of interesting stuff.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 12, 2004 12:10 PM

Jeff:

Yes., cut out the testabiolity factor and religion and myth do the exact same thing. That's all Darwinism does:

"Darwin introduced historicity into science. Evolutionary biology, in contrast with physics and chemistry, is a historical science - the evolutionist attempts to explain events and processes that have already taken place. Laws and experiments are inappropriate techniques for the explication of such events and processes. Instead one constructs a historical narrative, consisting of a tentative reconstruction of the particular scenario that led to the events one is trying to explain. "

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2004 1:40 PM

All of this could be said about Plate Tectonics. So what?

That doesn't stop plate tectonics from being testable, or for making predictions about certain things that must have occurred for the theory to be true.

Similarly for Evolution. Despite being an historical scenario, it has certain requirements attending that scenario that not only are testable, but require certain associated elements of that scenario to be true, otherwise the underlying theory is false.

I don't know where you get your assertion testability is absent; I can think of, off hand, roughly a dozen ways in which that assertion is mistaken.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 12, 2004 2:37 PM

Plate tectonics was proposed and we observed the plates shifting. Darwinism was proposed and no evolution was observed.

The acknowledgment that it is conceptual not testable comes from Mayr.

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2004 2:51 PM

OJ:

The very first evidence supporting plate tectonics--the genesis (which is to say, the concept) of which was the very suspicious congruence of coastlines--was Evolution. The second was magnetic anomalies. Both happened decades before we were able to measure continental movement.

You misread Mayr. Laboratory experiments work fine for physics and chemistry, but not for evolution. That is what he is talking about.

You pose a false dichotomy with respect to conceptual and testable. A theory may be both at the same time, as is Evolution, and Plate Tectonics.

And evolution in fact has been observed in just the same way as plate tectonics, although you do your best misdirection to obscure the fact. See any mountain ranges pop up recently? Any new continents? Does the fact you haven't vitiate Plate Tectonics?

But I am straying from my original point. If Creationists/IDers make material statements, there has to be material substantiation.

Which is what I find surpassing odd. You are obviously a gifted, rigorous, analytical thinker except for Evolution, where you resort to the kind of unsubstantiated statements, misdirection and logical fallacies you have rightfully flayed others for elsewhere.

Why is that?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 12, 2004 6:52 PM

Darwinism isn't material, it's faith-based. Unsubstantiated statements are appropriate to both sides as in any philosophical/religious argument.

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2004 7:18 PM

OJ:

There you go again.

Evolution is underpinned by significant material evidence, and contradicted nowhere. I am prepared to back up every material statement I made with material evidence.

You simply cannot do the same, or you would have done so by now.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 12, 2004 7:45 PM

You first. What experiment demonstrates Darwinism leading to genuine speciation?

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2004 7:51 PM

Not 'experiments', evidence. If you want evidence try a cursory study of genetics and biogeography.

But if you do want experiments and observed examples of speciation, there are some details on this page:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

See section 5 for info on experiments using various plants, houseflies and lab rat worms.

Posted by: nonny at October 13, 2004 6:52 AM

What Nonny said, and what Mayr was talking about. Like Plate Tectonics, Evolution is not a laboratory science.

There are plenty of easy examples that qualify as speciation, but Creationists/IDers tend to have a definition that acts more as a moving target. So perhaps you had best define what you mean by "genuine" speciation.

But in advance of that, flightless birds on isolated, predator free, islands certainly qualify.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 13, 2004 7:18 AM

Jeff/nonny:

They're birds, plants, flies, etc. They haven't changed in any meaningful way. That these are your examples demonstrates my point.

Plate Tectonics is, of course, a lasbratory science. Take a picture of the continents today and one at the end of 2005 and you can measure the movement of the plates. That was what confirmed the theory.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2004 7:26 AM

Clearly you don't understand Darwinism or the term 'speciation.'

Posted by: nonny at October 13, 2004 8:01 AM

nonny:

No, I understand that what Darwin observed--breeding within a species leading to some differentiation within it--is quite different from what Darwinists propose--that this propose leads to significant physical changes and speciation--which is hogwash.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2004 8:26 AM

So please define 'speciation' for me.

Hint: you'll need to define 'species' first.

Posted by: nonny at October 13, 2004 8:29 AM

nonny:

Yes, that'
s very much the point--Darwinists changed the definition of species when they couldn't find actual speciation, so now it separates any two creatures that can't mate, which is obvious nonsense. Taxonomy is art, not science--we all know a bird when we see one.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2004 8:40 AM

"we all know a bird when we see one"

What, like a chaffinch or a penguin or an ostrich?

You must by be a Biology Professor with knowlegde like yours.

Do we know a mammal when we see one? Like a platypus or a blue whale or a tiger or a man?

Posted by: nonny at October 13, 2004 8:46 AM

Mammals aren't a species.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2004 9:00 AM

And nor is a 'bird'. So you do have a definition of species. What is it?

Posted by: nonny at October 13, 2004 9:04 AM

morphologically similar creatures.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2004 9:18 AM

like aardvarks and anteaters, for example?

Posted by: hey nonny nonny at October 13, 2004 9:29 AM

yes they are more similar then different

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2004 9:44 AM

aardvarks and anteaters are the same species, according to your definition?

Posted by: nonny nonny hey at October 13, 2004 9:46 AM

morphological species, not biological--Darwinist had to invent the latter to create speciation.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2004 10:04 AM

but in many anteaters are "more similar then(sic) different" to armadillos than aardvarks. while aardvarks are more similar to marsupial bandicoots and bilbies in other ways, even though none are related. so are armadillos the same species as bandicoots, on your deinition?

and are sharks more 'more similar then different' to mackerel or dolphins? and are pigs more similar than different to sheep. and gorillas to men? and bloggers to clowns?

Posted by: at October 13, 2004 10:25 AM

yes, armadillos and sloths are likewise too similar for differences to matter much.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2004 10:35 AM

and bloggers and clowns are frequently indistinguishable.

Posted by: nonny at October 13, 2004 10:48 AM

of course they are, they're the same species.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2004 10:52 AM

"Plate Tectonics is, of course, a lasbratory science. Take a picture of the continents today and one at the end of 2005 and you can measure the movement of the plates. That was what confirmed the theory."

That couldn't be more wrong. The evidence I cited above demonstrated plate tectonics. The evidence you cite only confirms it is still continuing.

Your notion of species highlights the problem Creationism/ID has with gaining any sort of intellectual responsibility: you abuse the terms of the debate.

BTW, the folk concept of species applies here just as well as an Evolutionary definition: If it walks, smells, and acts like a kiwi, it isn't a duck.

By every meaning of the term "species" ever used, flightless birds are all separate species. Perhaps you meant the term (I think, since I haven't spent much time on phylogenetic terminology lately) "Phylum."

Perhaps, but flightless birds stand as a perfect example of speciation, and making up new terms to avoid the point doesn't change it.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 13, 2004 11:24 AM

Jeff:

Scientist say otherwise, that tectonics was only proven weith the photographic evidence.

As for "species". it wasn't Creationists who changed the term from its original meaning in order to pretend Darwinism had occurred. Morphological is the original, biological the add on. And it was intended to confuse the debate when added, as it has you.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2004 12:52 PM

I don't know which scientists you are talking about.

The congruent coastlines were the clue leading to the concept. Fossil beds along the congruent coastlines were identical up to a point, then diverging was the first confirming evidence. Magnetic field orientations in igneous rock was the second. Those proved continental drift had occurred, and would be equally relevant even if the process had since stopped.

Subsequent measurements sufficiently accurate to ascertain extremely small movement, in and of themselves, could only confirm what has happened since their inception, and would be worthless in determining what, if anything had gone before.

My example suffices for both the morphological and biological concepts. The biological definition, in that it is more specific, is not in the least confusing.

I just happened upon a thorough review of Meyer's article (from the Panda's Thumb). Here is part of the conclusion:

"There is nothing wrong with challenging conventional wisdom — continuing challenge is a core feature of science. But challengers should at least be aware of, read, cite, and specifically rebut the actual data that supports conventional wisdom, not merely construct a rhetorical edifice out of omission of relevant facts, selective quoting, bad analogies, knocking down strawmen, and tendentious interpretations. Unless and until the “intelligent design” movement does this, they are not seriously in the game. They’re not even playing the same sport."

Emphasis mine. That neatly sums up the point I have been trying to make all along. No matter what the truth value of Evolution is, ID so far has amounted to a house of lies built upon a foundation of misconceptions.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 13, 2004 1:49 PM

Ah, I see, your confusion is the same as with Evolution. The data you cite showed that the continents had probably been connected at some point, but nothing about how they endeed up where they are. Similarly, we know that speciation has occurred in the past but not how. The folks who proposed tectonics sad we'd see the plates move and we do. Darwinists say there'll be speciation and there isn't. One is a scientific fact the other a religious fantasy.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2004 2:07 PM

You have tedentiously stretched the analogy well past the breaking point. On top of that, you still have it wrong.

The fossil evidence proved they were connected. The magnetic orientation evidence showed the continents' vectors--how they ended up where they are.

Darwinists say there will be speciaton. There has been, and there is. Your repeated denial by perverting the meaning of terms--or your saying within the space of two sentences there is and is not speciation--doesn't change that. Further, the only point under debate is the cause of variation that leads to new species--if that cause is material, gamma rays, alpha decay, or naturally occurring adventures in organic chemistry, then the Darwinian concept of natural history is correct.

But, as I have said many times, that is beside the point. (which you have persistently elided). No matter what the truth value of Evolution is, ID so far has amounted to a house of lies built upon a foundation of misconceptions. This article is a classic example--even you couldn't be bothered to defend it.

I simply can't understand why a few religionists pick this fight. There are many ways in which believers simultaneously hold notions of both the material world and scriptural precepts which collide head on. Evolution is just one among many materialist explanations to fall in that category.

Yet Creationists/IDers (I refer solely to Creationists who have published on the subject) somehow see fit to purvey the silliest arguments, shamelessly mine quotes, and outright lie. That succeeds only in tainting the cause among those who aren't already convinced.

In other words, there isn't much intellectual or ethical distance between Creationists/IDers and Michael Moore. Is that the kind of company you wish to keep?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 13, 2004 7:55 PM

Obviously there has been morphological speciation in the past, though none in recorded human history. At this point we can be fairly certain that Darwinism doesn't cause it. No one has offered a good explanation of what does. That bothers Darwinists, but not Creationists.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2004 8:00 PM

Great, you elided the point again.

And your tendentious use of the term speciation is particularly telling. According to you, humans do not constitute a separate species because we are not morphologically distinct from chimpanzees.

The use of human history as a yardstick is completely arbitrary--new phyla are rare throughout the earth's history, it would be astonishing should one have appeared in the last 3,000 years (or last 300,000, for that matter).

Evolution, like most science, is a hypothetico-deductive process. The Evolutionary hypothesis required many deductions to be true. To date, they all have been.

Creationism/ID, on the other hand, is a hypothesis without one deductive consequence.

The former is science, the latter is an antagonistic reaction due to having one's theological apple cart upset.

Which accounts for the astonishing intellectual shabbiness of the Creationist enterprise. I am surprised you keep highlighting that fact by posting articles such as this one.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 14, 2004 7:22 AM

Jeff:

we are morphologically distinct, which is why we're a species in the classic sense, as well as the merely Darwinian.

darwinists changed the definition of species when they discovered speciation wasn't occurring.

Posted by: oj at October 14, 2004 8:41 AM

Morphologically distinct from chimpanzees in what way?

Biologists made the meaning of species more specific--regardless, the flightless birds example I cited is consistent with either definition. Further, flightless birds are more "morphologically distinct" from their predecessors than we are from chimpanzees.

But you keep avoiding the fundamental point, which has everything to do with the intellectual shabbiness of the Creationist enterprise, and nothing to do with Evolution.

I suspect there is a reason for that.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 14, 2004 12:14 PM

What point?

Posted by: oj at October 14, 2004 2:14 PM

"ID so far has amounted to a house of lies built upon a foundation of misconceptions. This article is a classic example--even you couldn't be bothered to defend it."

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 15, 2004 7:15 AM

Ah, I see, thanks.

No, I.D. is very much the same as Darwinism. Botrh are mere faith assertions. Neither will ever be susceptible to the scientific method. Indeed, I.D. basically asserts everything that Darwin does, just posits that an intelligence guides it rather than Nature. Neither is a lie, they're just faiths.

Posted by: oj at October 15, 2004 7:39 AM

OJ:

No, ID is not the same as Evolution.

Evolutionary theory is a hypothetico-deductive exercise where the theory leads to deductions that must be true in order for the theory to be true. Evolution has many such deductions, all of which have turned out to be materially substantiated. This means Evolution is very much susceptible to the scientific method--hypothetico-deductive theories constitute most of science. And the scientific method is not a faith, it is a process.

ID, on the other hand, leads, so far as I have been able to determine, to no such deductions. Can you name even one?

Beyond that, ID is empty at its core, in that the nature of the intelligence, or the degree of design are utterly absent: What constitutes intelligence? Are its actions pervasive or intermittent? Is there a change magnitude below which ID is not required? If so, precisely what is it? To the degree ID is prevasive, what does that say about various religious concepts of such an intelligence?

I never meant to imply that ID is a lie, only that the published arguments mustered so far to substantiate it are a combination of ignorance, stupidity and deception.

Once upon a time Thermodynamics was used to disprove Evolution. Do you care to defend that?

Do you care to defend the cited article as being in anyway pertinent to the subject it addresses?

You yourself resort to out-of-context quote mining, the tendentious imposition of invented concepts, and easily refuted assertions in advancing your cause.

ID may in fact be the objectively true explanation of Natural History. But the arguments in play so far to make the case are right out of the Michael Moore playbook, and are exclusively the result of theological axe-grinding, not any meaningful attempt to establish a materially substantiated explanation of observations.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 15, 2004 12:52 PM

Jeff:

I.D. says exactly the same thing as Darwinism except it substitutes Intelligence wherever Darwinism posits natural forces as the source of morphological speciation. They're agreed on mere biological speciation.

And, yes, Thermodynamics disproves Evolution.

Posted by: oj at October 15, 2004 1:04 PM

Now you are just being silly.

Perhaps you can tell me what deductions follow from ID?

Perhaps you can also tell me how Thermodynamics disproves Evolution, while you are at it.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 15, 2004 7:48 PM

Thermodynamics, like Darwinism, only begins after the system is set in motion.

Posted by: oj at October 15, 2004 9:12 PM

That has to be the most meaningless statement on this subject you have ever made.

How life got started matters not to Evolutionary theory.

I'm still waiting for some deductions that follow from ID

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 16, 2004 8:26 AM
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