January 10, 2006

SAUROPODS, THE POST-MODERN DINOSAUR

Scientists argue the evolution of sauropods (Smithsonian Magazine/Associated Press, January 9th, 2006)

Sauropods, the enormous dinosaurs that were the largest animals to ever walk the earth, may have been nothing more than overgrown toddlers. So says Hans Sues, a Smithsonian paleontologist who analyzed the 190-million-year-old dinosaur eggs -the oldest from a vertebrate animal ever discovered.[...]

Paleontologists say that over tens of millions of years, sauropods evolved from mid-size bipeds to gargantuan quadrupeds, such as Seismosaurus, which grew up to 52 metres long. Now Sues and others speculate that they know what evolutionary mechanism allowed these dinosaurs to stand on four legs: later species of sauropods somehow suppressed the genetic ability to develop adult traits such as bipedalism, and instead evolved into enormous versions of their immature selves.

Just so.


Posted by Peter Burnet at January 10, 2006 6:59 AM
Comments

Can you say "hubris," Pete?

I thought you could.

Posted by: Fred Rogers at January 10, 2006 7:20 AM

So sauropods intelligently designed themselves?

Posted by: oj at January 10, 2006 7:31 AM

And how exactly is this theory of Dr. Sues falsifiable?

Posted by: b at January 10, 2006 10:56 AM

Peter,

Is it a just-so story when scientists discover something new and speculate as to different explanations while clearly labeling them as such?

Posted by: creeper at January 10, 2006 10:57 AM

Orrin,

"So sauropods intelligently designed themselves?"

No, the intelligent humans kicking around at the time designed them that way.

Posted by: creeper at January 10, 2006 10:58 AM

b,

"And how exactly is this theory of Dr. Sues falsifiable?"

It's not a theory in the scientific sense; it has not even been formulated as a hypothesis. At this point, it is simply speculation, to be confirmed or refuted by future findings.

Posted by: creeper at January 10, 2006 11:00 AM

No, the intellegent humans inthe 21st century are designing how they think dinosaurs should be.

All this is based on an occasional egg and scrap of bone. If it was a court of law, you'd get your murder conviction and sentence of execution overturned if that was all the evidence the prosecution had.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 10, 2006 11:02 AM

Best description of boomers yet.

Posted by: Sandy P at January 10, 2006 11:07 AM

creeper:

I dunno, I seem to recall evolutionary scientists aren't too keen on warning labels.

Posted by: Peter B at January 10, 2006 11:09 AM

later species of sauropods somehow.....

Ah, the ubiquitous "somehow."

Posted by: John Resnick at January 10, 2006 11:13 AM

creeper: Bzzt. Try again. A scientific theory IS in fact "simply speculation, to be confirmed or refuted by future findings." My question is how exactly this theory/idea/speculation/meme/whatever term you like could possibly be "confirmed or refuted"...

[Please recall in your response that despite my choice of anonymity for personal & professional reasons, I have worked for years doing scientific research with numerous peer-reviewed publications. So if you feel the need to be patronizing, don't even bother responding.]

Posted by: b at January 10, 2006 11:24 AM

"All this is based on an occasional egg and scrap of bone."

If you read the article linked to above, you'll see that the egg contained a fossil embryo, 190 million years old. Why be dismissive of this as a clue to life on our planet in the remote past?

Posted by: creeper at January 10, 2006 11:27 AM

Actually, I like this story or speculation or hypothesis more than the usual run. Dr. Sues is speculating as to the mechanism. He's not trying to gin up a theory as to why Natural Selection started calling for larger dinosaurs. What I object to about the "Just So" evolutionary stories is the assumption that every facet of every creature can explained in terms of evolutionary advantage.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 10, 2006 12:14 PM

Although the fact that he uses the language of design, as all Darwinists do, is, as we've argued before, telling as to the purpose and limits of the theory.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 10, 2006 12:16 PM

"Clue"

Exactly that. One (1) Clue. Which is more than they ususally have. And from that, they've developed a Grand Hypothesis that covers far more than a simple embryo can tell anyone about anything.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 10, 2006 12:23 PM

b,

"A scientific theory IS in fact "simply speculation, to be confirmed or refuted by future findings.""

As I understand it, a scientific theory is a hypothesis that has been tested, and has already been confirmed by findings (such as described in this explanation, for example). I have no intention of being patronizing; those are the terms (scientific theory, hypothesis) as I understand them.

Posted by: creeper at January 10, 2006 12:25 PM

Which "Grand Hypothesis" would that be, Raoul?

Posted by: creeper at January 10, 2006 12:31 PM

David:

Yes, the fact that his speculation is that the mechanism was "suppression" of a genetic trait is what makes it so hilarious. If accurate it demonstrates intelligent design.

Posted by: oj at January 10, 2006 1:41 PM

creeper: As the wikipedia entry that you link states, scientists don't really follow such rigorous definitions. I guarantee that the following conversation has never once taken place in a scientific department:

Scientist A: "I have all these great measurements that lead me to the theory that Mars and the Earth once orbited around each other."

Scientist B: "Actually, that's a hypothesis, not a theory."

These attempts to rigorously define "science" are in general absurd, mostly because they do not correspond in any way, shape, or form with what scientists actually DO.

Posted by: b at January 10, 2006 2:05 PM

David:

A fair point, but much as one doesn't like to be unfair, one does wonder whether the fact he didn't "gin up" an explanation based upon natural selection was because he was being professionally cautious or because, try as he might, he couldn't think of one.

Posted by: Peter B at January 10, 2006 2:14 PM

"the fact that his speculation is that the mechanism was "suppression" of a genetic trait is what makes it so hilarious. If accurate it demonstrates intelligent design."

Only if the suppression occurs as a result of being designed (and hence brought about intentionally) by an intelligent entity.

Posted by: creeper at January 10, 2006 3:41 PM

Fair points, b - this kind of nitpicking about scientific theories and hypotheses generally only occurs as a result of someone dismissing a major scientific theory as "just a theory", intending to belittle it wrongly as no more than a hunch. That's when this kind of distinction needs to be made clear. I have no doubt that even among scientists the word "theory" is in some contexts also used in the more colloquial sense.

Posted by: creeper at January 10, 2006 3:42 PM

Paedomorphism is not uncommon among organisms, and suppression of certain genes happens all the time, OJ's mockery notwithstanding. He can think of each instance as God's intervention if he wants, but I still wonder where he draws the line regarding natural phenomena: When an object drops out of his hand, is God pulling it down toward the center of the Earth? When he blinks, is it because God detected OJ's eyeballs were a little dry and had to fix it? Why is it so hard to believe that God doesn't directly control every single event in the universe? That's not at all the same thing as atheism, obviously. It's simply a rejection of the archaic, superstitious view of God as some sort of obsessive puppetmaster, in constant, direct control of everything in the world.

Posted by: PapayaSF at January 10, 2006 3:49 PM

Papaya:

Did you read your own link?

Posted by: oj at January 10, 2006 4:12 PM

creeper: You're right that "just a theory" is a silly argument to make against evolution. However, every single attempt I have seen to define "science" not only fails to match up well with what scientists actually do, but in fact excludes much of what we would all consider "real" science! And I suspect that it will be revealed to be a big mistake as things play out in the near future...

Posted by: b at January 10, 2006 4:33 PM

Pedomorphosis is common in many animal species domesticated by humans, including dogs, chickens, pigs and cattle. It is believed to be a side-effect of the selective pressure of human-directed breeding.


Yes. The fact that it can be produced by selective breeding doesn't mean that's the only way it's produced. See the other links on that page: Neoteny and Progenesis.

Posted by: PapayaSF at January 10, 2006 4:36 PM

Odd then that it refers specifically to breeding by humansd. But, more broadly, it seems germane that all the analogies and terms that Darwinists use are to intelligent design.

Posted by: oj at January 10, 2006 5:00 PM

creeper:

We've been beating you up here a fair bit of late, so let's all take a Valium and try to rise above rote repetitions. I trust you aren't hoping any of us will be led into suggesting alternative natural or even theological explanations of why poor old sauropods went from modest, mature biped to gargauntaun, immature, deliquent quadriped. The point is not what happened, but the popularization of evolutionary silliness and the unquestioned, unchallenged spreading of conjectural pap as authoritative. This was the Smithsonian Magazine, for crying out loud. Ordered by thousands of teachers for millions on kids, and presented as authority. Doesn't that worry you?

Please don't reply with a stream of questions or arguments on whether it might be true. So might pixie dust.

Posted by: Peter B at January 10, 2006 5:20 PM

OJ: No, not really germane. Language is old and complex and full of metaphors. We still say "the sun comes up" though we know (well, most of us) that the world isn't flat and the sun doesn't revolve around it. We speak of the birth of stars, though they don't really have mothers.

Peter B. I can't help but note that "the unquestioned, unchallenged spreading of conjectural pap as authoritative" is precisely the argument atheists use against believers. Of course, much of science is conjectural, because of limits of time and space and funding. We can't study the lives of stars by creating some of different sizes and seeing how they age. Evolutionary biology operates under similar constraints, with the added burden that every time someone demonstrates some aspect of it in a lab, some IDer claims it's not real evidence because humans set up the experiment, thus it's "designed." *Sigh.*

Posted by: PapayaSF at January 10, 2006 6:24 PM

Papaya:

But it isn't the same thing at all. Religion freely admits the limits of human preception and rationality and argues it's truths are based upon experience, reason, authority and revelation. Philosophically, the "checks and balances" that keep it from distorting and oppressing are based upon those, as well as historical experience. Scientific rationalism sets itself rigid standards based upon observation, practical testability and the rigourous rejection of anything outside its naturalist paradigms. Now, should it be judged by its own self-declared standards and rules or does it get to look at religion when it is being silly and say: "Hey, no fair, you guys are guilty of the same thing. We demand the same slack"?

Posted by: Peter B at January 10, 2006 6:57 PM

Pointing out that science is necessarily part conjecture is not a demand for slack, just common sense. I'm simply responding to these silly accusations that evolutionary biology is some sort of non-scientific fake science.

I find your descriptions of religion and science rather slanted. Suffice to say that if religion were how you describe it, human history and current events would be far different. And scientific rationalism has produced innumerable repeatable experiments and technological inventions, and religion can't say the same.

But we are comparing two very different things, which is my point. If religion is as reasonable and experience-based as you say, it should reconcile itself with evolutionary biology just as it did with astronomy, when it became clear that everything in the heavens did not revolve around the Earth..

Posted by: PapayaSF at January 11, 2006 1:54 AM

Peter:

How old do you think the earth is?

Posted by: Brit at January 11, 2006 5:03 AM

Papaya

But surely it largely has. Six day creationists are hardly the mainstream of even conservative religion. Certainly around here the great fun we have with darwinism is not to suggest evolution didn't happen, but that speciation is dicey and natural selection or rather the modern synthesis cannot be a complete explanation for the history of life. Nobody reading journals like First Things , etc. could argue that religion has not reconciled with the fact of evolution. What it isn't reconciled with is 100% materialist determinism.

You don't think religion has any repeatable tests? Try this one. Find a married pal and set him up in a little tryst. Wait until his wife finds out. Do you think we can agree on the reasonably predictable results of that little experiment?

Posted by: Peter B at January 11, 2006 5:18 AM

Brit:

Oh, come off it.

Posted by: Peter B at January 11, 2006 5:20 AM

Seriously - how old is the earth, and how do you know?

Posted by: Brit at January 11, 2006 5:21 AM

Ok, I'll bite. Let's play Peter amuses the darwinists--episode six hundred.

Very old. Of course I personally have no way of telling, so I'm content to believe probably somewhere within the range suggested by geologists until they tell me differently. i understand they've developed some cool, repeatable, verifiable tests for such things.

I'm standing by, Brit.

Posted by: Peter B at January 11, 2006 6:23 AM

OK, I promise not to be disrespectful and childish, though it's tempting.

But I do think that very many people are willing to believe the scientists, and not question the scientific methods or even bother to try to understand them, in just about any area....unless it pushes a personal button.

And then suddenly all those men in white coats are charlatans and know-it-alls and wannabe-gods. And lo! the scales did fall from their eyes, the scientifically illiterate did know what science really is.

Peter, I swear it on the life of Freddie Flintoff: scientific evolution, ID and Creationism are not three equal theories, any more than the scientifically-derived age of the Earth and Young Earth-ism are equal theories.

One has mountains of hard-earned, mutually-supporting evidence on its side. The other two have no evidence except some ancient scribblings.

We can't absolutely prove anything much ans anything much. But we have good theories and bad theories.

The Faithful should stick to the ideal of Faith: belief in the ancient scribblings in spite of the scientific evidence. Sticking one's oar into the scientific method when and only when it suits is the muggiest of mug's games.

Posted by: Brit at January 11, 2006 7:04 AM

Peter, why did you pick sexual jealousy as a repeatable test related to religion? The atheists I know would be mighty distraught if they found out their partner was cheating on them. Sexual monogamy is a cultural phenomenon, not just a religious one.

"But surely it largely has. Six day creationists are hardly the mainstream of even conservative religion."

Not six day creationists (though I'm not clear where Orrin stands on this issue - he doesn't appear willing to accept Genesis as metaphor); young earth creationists on the other hand amounted to 45% in a Gallup poll (agreeing with "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so"). Orrin routinely counts these (as well as the undecided) as being in agreement with him. If you are confident that evolution did happen (by whatever mechanism), then you are more in disagreement with these people than you are with a biologist.

As for beating me up, I enjoy robust discussions; judging from a comment you made elsewhere, though, it's possible that you're not aware of the level of deception that has been going on around here. Suffice it to say that not everything you see with my name under it was actually written by me. You may well see this comment now and find it missing later.

"This was the Smithsonian Magazine, for crying out loud. Ordered by thousands of teachers for millions on kids, and presented as authority. Doesn't that worry you?"

I have no intention of beleaguering you with a barrage of anything to point out that what Sues proposes might be true, since that much is surely obvious.

No, the Smithsonian Magazine publishing this doesn't worry me because it makes it perfectly clear that this is not presented as authoritative truth (emphasis mine):

Sauropods, the enormous dinosaurs that were the largest animals to ever walk the earth, may have been nothing more than overgrown toddlers.[...]

Paleontologists say that over tens of millions of years, sauropods evolved from mid-size bipeds to gargantuan quadrupeds, such as Seismosaurus, which grew up to 52 metres long. Now Sues and others speculate that they know what evolutionary mechanism allowed these dinosaurs to stand on four legs[...]

Sues’ new research "could change our thinking of how four-footedness came about in sauropods," Matt Lamanna, assistant curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh tells Smithsonian magazine.

But Kristi Curry Rogers, a sauropod expert and a curator at the Science Museum of Minnesota, believes that Massospondylus and sauropods branched off in separate directions as they evolved, so paedomorphosis could not explain the sauropods’ four-footed stature. Still, Rogers is intrigued by the potential for the fossils to yield clues to Massospondylus behaviours.

Sues says he plans to return to South Africa to study Massospondylus nest sites and the remnants of an ancient flood plain ecosystem where these peculiar hatchlings lived.

Although there’s still much unknown about Massospondylus, Sues says one thing seems clear: the big-eyed babies were "probably very cute."

The article, as far as I can tell, makes it very clear that this is still early days for Sues's ideas, and that he is continuing to explore. It is published and can be read by other scientists, who are free to agree and disagree with him, bolstering their positions.

Posted by: creeper at January 11, 2006 7:47 AM

Brit:

Peter, I swear it on the life of Freddie Flintoff: scientific evolution, ID and Creationism are not three equal theories...

Oh well, if you really, really promise (hope to die), I guess that is good enough for me.

They are equal theories. They are all equally unsatisfactory as self-contained, comprehensive explanations for life and existence. Other than that, I don't know what you mean.

creeper:

You can assume I see more than you think. If you keep posting like that, your problem might go away.

Sexual monogamy is a cultural phenomenon, not just a religious one.

How about giving us an example of a society that promoted and/or enforced sexual monogamy without grounding it in religion.

Posted by: Peter B at January 11, 2006 8:29 AM

Peter:

I mean you're dabbling.

"they are all equally unsatisfactory..."

No they aren't. Some explanations are more equal than others.

Yours is the statement of a scientifically illiterate person ignorantly dabbling in scientific theory.

Dabbling is undignified.

Posted by: Brit at January 11, 2006 8:53 AM

The other two have no evidence except some ancient scribblings

Yes, it is, isn't it?

Posted by: Peter B at January 11, 2006 9:06 AM

Ok, name your evidence.

Posted by: Brit at January 11, 2006 9:07 AM

Pistols at dawn, eh? OK, I choose reasonable David as my second.

Brit, do you actually read what we post here or are you just spoiling for a chance to TKO them ornery creationists?

Posted by: Peter B at January 11, 2006 9:28 AM

I'm cool with Creationists. It's the dabblers and the cherry-pickers and the reasonable Davids that provide the real fun.

Posted by: Brit at January 11, 2006 9:48 AM

Aren't we (well, Peter & Brit) still stuck in the arguing-past-each-other phase? As far as I can tell the ONLY difference between "scientific evolution" as Brit calls it (Darwinism or neo-Darwinism or whatever others want to call it) and "Intelligent Design" is that the former states that all the mutation/selection/etc steps of evolution are random/unguided/unplanned, and the latter states that they are not. To put it bluntly, drawing EITHER conclusion from the data at hand boils down to an aesthetic choice.

Posted by: b at January 11, 2006 12:08 PM

Works for me.

Posted by: Peter B at January 11, 2006 6:26 PM

b:

No - that's wrong and is precisely the illusion all the reasonable dabblers are under.

ID takes the theories of scientific evolution exactly as they are, and adds to the whole thing an additional claim (that God helps things along).

Darwinists don't need that additional claim - the theories work fine as they are, and the claim is superfluous.

The additional claim is not required to make the theory work, and there is no evidence for it. That's why darwinism is science and ID is not.

Posted by: Brit at January 12, 2006 4:17 AM

Peter,

"How about giving us an example of a society that promoted and/or enforced sexual monogamy without grounding it in religion."

Penguins.

Societies have used religious texts (including Judeo-Christian ones) to promote and/or enforce polygamy as well as monogamy. It is hardly surprising that religious institutions, used as a way of controlling a society, should also lead a society to being a monogamous one - especially when monogamy is economically beneficial to the religious institution in question.

Just out of interest, what were you trying to demonstrate with the repeatable test? To show that religious institutions can exert influence and have an impact on society? If so, I'm certainly not in disagreement.

Posted by: creeper at January 12, 2006 4:21 AM

"They are equal theories. They are all equally unsatisfactory as self-contained, comprehensive explanations for life and existence."

They are not equal theories. The theory that man was created in his present form within the last 10,000 years flies in the face of the available evidence, that which you freely accept and we can call the "fact of evolution" - that organisms did evolve (by whatever mechanism).

Brit has already addressed the difference between ID and the theory of evolution.

Anyone is free to believe that additional claim - that it's God helping things along; but it really gives them no foothold to insert this into the field of science.

Posted by: creeper at January 12, 2006 4:30 AM

creeper:

Penguins!! I stand speechless.

No, your problem, and that of your cohorts, is that you have limited your whole range of reality to the realm of scientific inquiry. This is why you continue to charm us by demanding scientific proof and evidence for religious assertions, as if debates on conflicts between religion and science are to be resolved by scientific inquiry alone. It's the equivalent of my saying your belief in natural selection is supect because it is unChristian. I suppose it is also why you believe we can look to penguins for moral guidance. I didn't say they were three theories of equal scientific validity, but then I don't believe science is a synonym for Truth.

Brit:

You do realize don't you that your current assault on religious folks who do not declare themselves 100% scriptural literalists smacks of an ideological fanatic who can only respect other fanatics. Sort of like the Nazis and Communists who battled fiercely, but who both saved their deepest contempt for muddled democrats.

Ah well, it's morning. I'm looking forward to your telling me exactly what it is I really believe today.

Posted by: Peter B at January 12, 2006 6:16 AM

I only go around assaulting moderate religious folks when there's an 'r' in the month (though thanks for the Nazi comparison. Kerching! I'll add it to my list...)

You've got me all wrong, guv'nor. My objection is specifically to this oh-so-reasonable sounding request from you dabblers that ID and darwinism be treated as equal theories in, for example, science education.

Equal theories they ain't. Let me give you an analogy.

Person A proposes the theory that an apple falls to the floor because of gravity, and he goes on to explain how gravitational force works etc.

Person B proposes the theory that the same apple falls to the floor because of gravity, and he goes on to explain how gravitational force works etc, but he also adds that the apple has been poured out of a giant, invisible, undetectable teapot.

Now nobody can prove Person B's theory wrong. He has every right to believe it if he wants. It might even be true - the beauty of it is that we can never know.

But would you describe A and B as equal scientific theories?

Posted by: Brit at January 12, 2006 6:39 AM

Sorry about that gratuitous Nazi reference. I should have made it clear I saw you as the Communist.

Nope, but I don't think I'd go to court to keep kids from hearing the teapot theory if that's what their community wanted or make BBC documentaries about how those who believe in the teapot are responsible for all the world's evils and must be eradicated.

However, perhaps the more telling observation is that you have taken the philosophical ediface of not only Western culture and history but also of the ancients and most other civilizations and analogized them to some quirky little nonsense that just popped into your head. Your disdain is getting the better of you.

Posted by: Peter B at January 12, 2006 7:06 AM

Peter:

If you read my review of Dawkins on the Daily Duck, you'll see how my position differs to both him and Harry.

I don't subscribe to their exciting 'let's all ban religion it's the root of all evil' stance, but to the thoroughly dull notion of tolerance, and everything in its proper place.

I strongly object to this campaign for ID to be treated as an equal scientific theory to darwinism for that very reason: it is religion poking its nose into what is not its proper place.

Let them both live, but please, separately.

Posted by: Brit at January 12, 2006 7:16 AM

Let them both live, but please, separately

Brit, BrothersJudd, January 12th, 2006

I don't doubt for a moment that if religion were to vanish from the planet overnight, it would be a Good Thing all round.

Brit, Daily Duck, January 11th, 2006

Posted by: Peter B at January 12, 2006 8:16 AM

Peter,

"Penguins!! I stand speechless."

I thought you would. ;-)

"No, your problem, and that of your cohorts, is that you have limited your whole range of reality to the realm of scientific inquiry."

Not really, but when the subject of discussion is the theory of evolution, then I think it should be treated as a scientific matter. When the subject of discussion is philosophy, then I don't need to restrict myself to scientific inquiry, though I do think we should follow rational trains of thought, and debate honestly.

"This is why you continue to charm us by demanding scientific proof and evidence for religious assertions, as if debates on conflicts between religion and science are to be resolved by scientific inquiry alone."

Not true. I have no problem with religious asssertions (say Jesus being the Son of God) not being subject to scientific proof, and of being representative of a truth beyond literal meaning; it's when religious folks insist that religion is more scientific than science or somesuch that I ask them to back that up.

"It's the equivalent of my saying your belief in natural selection is supect because it is unChristian."

That's pretty much what Orrin is doing.

"I suppose it is also why you believe we can look to penguins for moral guidance."

Now you're twisting my words; I hope that's not intentional. I merely said that they were an example of a monogamous, non-religious society. I did not suggest we should look to penguins for moral guidance, though as I understand it some people did suggest that in the past year.

"I didn't say they were three theories of equal scientific validity,"

Fine, because they aren't.

"but then I don't believe science is a synonym for Truth."

It isn't. Science and religion can co-exist perfectly well.

Posted by: creeper at January 12, 2006 8:27 AM

Peter:

That's an OJ trick. Look at the context. There's a 'But' after that sentence. In case it isn't clear in that post, here it is:

But religion is never going to disappear. Dawkins' project of trying to make that happen by persuading everybody that reason and science show it to be nonsense is a waste of time.

Religion will always be with us, with its good and bad aspects, both of which are considerable. And so will science, with is identical.

So they've got to get along. The best way of doing that is to tolerate each other and, where possible, stay firmly out of each others' way. The ID campaign crosses the line.

Posted by: Brit at January 12, 2006 8:28 AM

(And so does Dawkins - cross the line, that is. Read the last two paragraphs of my review again.)

Posted by: Brit at January 12, 2006 8:38 AM

All Dawkins does is demonstrate the circularity of Darwinism. If Darwinism is true then belief in Darwinism must be nothing more than a Darwinian effect.

Posted by: oj at January 12, 2006 8:59 AM

"If Darwinism is true then belief in Darwinism must be nothing more than a Darwinian effect."

If the theory of evolution is true and has led to intelligent beings, then having such intelligent beings explore and investigate their surroundings and drawing logical conclusions is a perfectly darwinian consequence.

Posted by: creeper at January 12, 2006 9:08 AM

Ah, teleological darwinism: once intelligence arises we, and we alone, magically break free from Nature. This too is the sort of nonsense that Dawkins demonstrates.

Posted by: oj at January 12, 2006 9:17 AM

I don't know how many times we are going to retire at night having agreed that evolution is a fact and ID is unimpressive in many ways (as a competing theory) only to rise the next morning and see creeper, Brit, et al. arguing as if we said otherwise. The issue, creeper, is not whether evolution occurred factually, but whether it was driven exclusively by natural selection and the modern synthesis. The issue, Brit, is not how much ID impresses scientifically, but who decides what the kids will be taught. As you point out above, neither can be falsified. Unlike you, I don't hold that schools should only teach what I think is right.

Posted by: Peter B at January 12, 2006 9:19 AM

Indeed, ID and Creationism don't need to meet scientific standards, just be as scientifically valid as Darwinism, a rather low bar to clear, especially given that Darwinism carried to its logical end demonstrates that Darwinism isn't a science at all, just an effect.

Posted by: oj at January 12, 2006 9:41 AM

Peter,

"The issue, creeper, is not whether evolution occurred factually, but whether it was driven exclusively by natural selection and the modern synthesis."

I'm not sure where you're coming from here. Where and with whom did I argue about the pros and cons of whether evolution factually occurred?

"Unlike you, I don't hold that schools should only teach what I think is right."

I don't either; they should just teach it in the appropriate subject.

Posted by: creeper at January 12, 2006 10:06 AM

"Ah, teleological darwinism: once intelligence arises we, and we alone, magically break free from Nature."

What's teleological about what you're describing?

We have not broken free from nature merely by employing our intelligence to interpret our surroundings.

Posted by: creeper at January 12, 2006 10:11 AM

Yes, on the one hand you're forced to insist that intelligence is just an effect of Nature and only allows us to explore and investigate, but since no one actually believes that you're forced to acknowledge that thanks to intelligence we can affect Nature, thereby leading to Darwinism's psychic break with itself and the descent into teleology

Posted by: oj at January 12, 2006 11:49 AM

Peter:

Maybe it'll be the same number of times that you say such things as "neither can be falsified" and "they are equal theories."

Posted by: Brit at January 12, 2006 12:13 PM

Brit:

Which is why Darwinism is a faith.

Posted by: oj at January 12, 2006 12:42 PM

Yes, thanks to our intelligence we can affect the natural world around us. We build dams, we chop down forests, we build lakes etc. And nature affects us. A tsunami kills hundreds of thousands.

The fact that we have an impact on our surroundings and vice versa in no way affects the validity of the theory of evolution. If you disagree, then please specify how you think it does.

Posted by: creeper at January 13, 2006 3:56 AM

Right, so Darwinism is the proposition that evolution is a purely random process driven by natural selection. However, intelligent beings drive evolution in non-random ways. Nor is there any way to distinguish the two. Thus teleology and incoherence.

Posted by: oj at January 13, 2006 7:41 AM
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