Friday, January 1, 2010

A Question for Joe Felsenstein (and Everyone Else)

Joe Felsenstein, and most other evolutionists, tell us that science must be restricted to law-like causes and explanations. In a word, they require the scientific method to be restricted to naturalism. While this methodological naturalism seems like a reasonable way to do science, it is an incomplete instruction. There remains the question of what to do when methodological naturalism doesn't work.

Clearly, methodological naturalism will fail if it attempts to explain a phenomenon that is not completely naturalistic. For instance, imagine that human consciousness and will amount to more than mere atoms in motion. Perhaps, for example, there is a soul that transcends the material world. Then science's attempts to explain our thinking will rule out the right answer if science is constrained to methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalism would be wrong, and the question is: how should we handle such cases if they are encountered?

I can only think of four possible answers to this question, so this amounts to a simple multiple choice option:

A. Don't worry, methodological naturalism never fails because nature is always fully materialistic.

B. If methodological naturalism ever fails then science, constrained to methodological naturalism, will lead to the wrong answer. Don't worry, it is fine if science is sometimes incorrect.

C. If methodological naturalism ever fails then science should back away from the problem at hand. Science should only address phenomenon that are fully naturalistic.

D. Science should not be constrained to methodological naturalism.

It seems that while evolutionists routinely mandate methodological naturalism, they just as often fail to explain just what they mean. In fact, I know of no such evolutionist who has answered this question. So here is a simple multiple choice. All we need is a simple "A", "B", "C" or "D".

217 comments:

  1. A is flawed because it is an absolute statement. We cannot ever possibly know something like that with 100% certainty.

    B is flawed because in that case, science will not lead to 'the wrong answer'. It will yield evidence and data which we just cannot account for. Science would at least be able to tell us that we didn't know what was going on.

    C is flawed because the scientific method is at least a useful tool with which to approach the unknown - the only one we have ever formulated which produces tangible results. Science solves mysteries and answers questions. It makes the unknown known. To say science should back away from a mystery is to say it should stop all reasearch into things which are not already fully understood.

    D is flawed because without methodological naturalism the scientific method stops working.

    "For instance, imagine that human consciousness and will amount to more than mere atoms in motion."

    The key word here is 'imagine'. Neuro-psychology is a very young scientific field, but already there is evidence that our minds are nothing more than the product of our brains working. We don't understand how consciousness works yet, but that is the whole reason scientists do reasearch. Are they to down tools and assume we have discovered everything there is to discover and that everything we don't understand already is a miracle? This is merely the God of the Gaps argument.

    "Perhaps, for example, there is a soul that transcends the material world."

    The key word here is 'perhaps'. And this is a more serious point. If conclusive evidence DID surface which showed that human consciousness WAS more than mere atoms in motion, and that methodological naturalism could not provide an answer, then the proposal that 'perhaps there is a soul' would be merely a hypothesis - one of a practically infinitie number of hypotheses that account for whatever this evidence was. Perhaps human minds are controlled by flowers, or were animated a vindictive amorphous blog, or human bodies are controlled by magic fairies. By removing methodological naturalism as a way of understanding the world, you have no way of seperating the fanciful rubbish from the truth. How are you ever to discover which of these tall tales is correct?

    In short, by undermining science so as to make your hypothesis possible, you lose any hope of ever proving it right (or even seperating it from the hordes of competing and equally likely hypotheses).

    To answer your question though, A comes closest. We cannot be certain that the world is always fully materialistic, but we have not so far found any reason to assume it does not. And working on the assumption that it does, we have produced amazingly impressive results.

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  2. How would one go about identifying a "phenomenon that is not completely naturalistic"? What does it even mean to be non-natural? How would it differ from "non-existent"?

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  3. Well, that's what I meant, really. If something can't be explained by naturalistic mechanisms, the only methodologicallly naturalist response can be: "we don't know" - or at least "we don't know yet".

    But what other response is there, methodologically naturalist or otherwise? Faced with something we can't explain [i]naturally[/i] we can conclude that either it has a non-natural cause, or a natural cause that we haven't discovered yet.

    But there is no test that will tell us which of those is correct. The best we can do is continue to test, and, if necessary, reject, natural causes. There is no falsification test for a non-natural cause.

    Or none that I have seen suggested.

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  4. The problem that I see is what we consider to be the starting point for science.

    To start with the rule that the scientific method must be restricted to naturalism prejudices any investigation of the natural world from the very beginning. Science will have put on blinders without any evidence or reason for doing so.

    Science should begin with the goal of seeking truth statements about the natural world. In other words, science should follow the evidence wherever it leads.

    How can science do that if by definition it rules out a possible logical answer to the evidence? Will science go on forever seeking naturalistic answers to the questions confronting it? When and how would science admit that it can't find a naturalistic answer. How would science know that methodological naturalism failed, if failure is not an option?

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  5. C is the best answer. D is a non started because science must be testable. The solution to this problem is not that difficult. In fact it has already been adequately handled by physicists. They have a term called a singularity. It means they don't have a clue how to explain the phenomenon. The beginning of the universe and black holes are examples. This is a an advance miles ahead of evolutionists because they admit their ignorance. Some evolutionists as we know are trying to promote atheism so they must choose option A. Howevere the science does not support this option. Some scientists think they will never know the mechanism for the origin of first life. The best solution therefore is to truthfully admit ignorance. Evolutionists should say first life is a singularity. The Cambrian explosion is a singularity. Atheists don't like this because it amounts to a large opening through which theism can emerge. Theists shoudl reccognize this bluff and hold them to the facts. It makes for the best science. It also gives somthing for the philosophers and theologicans to speculate on. This is what you would expect if the world were designed and philosophers and theologians were important to the designer to ponder His existance.

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  6. Doublee,

    "Science will have put on blinders without any evidence or reason for doing so."

    What blinders? As Elizabeth so concisely points out, "There is no falsification test for a non-natural cause." Unless you can provide such a test, the methodological naturalism underlying the scientific method boils down to "Science doesn't deal with things that can't be shown to exist." That's not too onerous a restriction.

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  7. Ritchie:

    "B is flawed because in that case, science will not lead to 'the wrong answer'. It will yield evidence and data which we just cannot account for. Science would at least be able to tell us that we didn't know what was going on."

    How would science be able to tell us that? What's to stop science from constructing false theories to account for the evidence?


    "D is flawed because without methodological naturalism the scientific method stops working."

    So SETI is not science?

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  8. Patrick:

    I'll take your questions in reverse order.


    "What does it even mean to be non-natural? How would it differ from 'non-existent'?"

    One way to make the distinction is to define natural phenomena as strictly acting according to natural laws which can be described mathematically. Non natural phenomena don't, or don't necessarily.


    "How would one go about identifying a 'phenomenon that is not completely naturalistic'?"

    Good question. For a given set of data, one can always construct a naturalistic explanation. So naturalism cannot be falsified (only particular hypotheses within naturalism). So how could one ever identify a phenomenon as non natural?

    You can see that how we interpret the data becomes important. For starters, one would need to allow for non natural phenomenon in order to ever identify it. You'd be surprised how often people who do not allow for non natural phenomenon in the first place, will then say that such phenomenon are disproven.

    Given that we're allowing for such phenomenon, one can then think about ways to detect and identify them. SETI provides such an example.

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  9. Cornelius Hunter,

    "So SETI is not science?"

    What's unscientific about radio telescopes?

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  10. Cornelius Hunter,

    "So how could one ever identify a phenomenon as non natural?"

    Isn't that what I asked you? ;-)

    Unless one can provide a way to answer that question, the whole concept of "non-natural" seems incoherent.

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  11. Elizabeth:

    "Well, that's what I meant, really. If something can't be explained by naturalistic mechanisms, the only methodologically naturalist response can be: 'we don't know" - or at least "we don't know yet'."

    Which points out that MN has limitations. In fact, in practice MN does not say "we don't know" but rather speculates on various explanations and says further research is needed before we get the answer. It does not even say "gee, here is a case where naturalism *might* not work so well ...".


    "But what other response is there, methodologically naturalist or otherwise? Faced with something we can't explain [i]naturally[/i] we can conclude that either it has a non-natural cause, or a natural cause that we haven't discovered yet."

    We could simply state that the current state of the theory and the data is such that we don't have a good explanation. New theories will be constructed and tested, but we don't know yet how well they will work.

    "But there is no test that will tell us which of those is correct. The best we can do is continue to test, and, if necessary, reject, natural causes. There is no falsification test for a non-natural cause."

    Good points, but here is a question: Would it help if we evaluated the plausibility of naturalistic explanations?

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  12. Patrick:


    "What's unscientific about radio telescopes?"

    If MN is mandated in science, then SETI's search for non law-like signals / causes is not scientific.



    =====
    "So how could one ever identify a phenomenon as non natural?"

    Isn't that what I asked you? ;-)
    =====

    But I trust you caught my point that the inability to identify phenomenon as non natural arose from the failure of MN science to distinguish between the plausible and the implausible. IOW, when all conceivable phenomena can be described naturalistically (because one mandates naturalistic explanations regardless of plausibility), then one creates this problem.



    "Unless one can provide a way to answer that question, the whole concept of "non-natural" seems incoherent."

    What the SETI project does is set up hypotheses for judging whether a signal is best described as naturalistic or non naturalistic.

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  13. Patrick,

    Science can detect if an intelligent cause is the explanation for certain phenomena, and of course, that is all the intelligent design claims to do. Can science determine if that intelligent cause is supernatural? Probably not. The reasonable(?) inference would be that the intelligent cause is supernatural, but I will leave those arguments to the philosophers and theologians.

    I would turn the question around. If the claim for the theory of evolution is that all the complexity and diversity observed in living things is strictly due to the undirected (read unintelligent) interactions of matter and energy, what explanation would falsify that claim? Are we to accept that claim as true, because no alternative explanation is allowed? Doesn't that make the theory of evolution unfalsifiable?

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  14. Cornelius Hunter,

    "What the SETI project does is set up hypotheses for judging whether a signal is best described as naturalistic or non naturalistic."

    Not at all. It set up a hypothesis to determine if a signal is best explained as the result of intelligence. There is nothing inherently non-natural about intelligence.

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  15. Cornelius Hunter,

    "But I trust you caught my point that the inability to identify phenomenon as non natural arose from the failure of MN science to distinguish between the plausible and the implausible. IOW, when all conceivable phenomena can be described naturalistically (because one mandates naturalistic explanations regardless of plausibility), then one creates this problem."

    I'm afraid I didn't get that point at all. The problem seems to me to stem from the desire of some people to claim that non-natural phenomena exist, without providing the slightest evidence for such phenomena or even providing a mechanism for obtaining such evidence. You seem to be assuming that "non-natural" is a coherent concept with real world referents. That remains to be demonstrated.

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  16. Doublee,

    "I would turn the question around. If the claim for the theory of evolution is that all the complexity and diversity observed in living things is strictly due to the undirected (read unintelligent) interactions of matter and energy, what explanation would falsify that claim?"

    That is not part of the theory of evolution, it is the methodological naturalism that underlies all modern science.

    If you want to know what would falsify the theory of evolution, see Haldane's comments on rabbits in the precambrian.

    "Are we to accept that claim as true, because no alternative explanation is allowed? Doesn't that make the theory of evolution unfalsifiable?"

    The theory of evolution is tested daily in labs around the world. These tests are documented in the peer reviewed literature. When parts of the theory are falsified, they are modified.

    Much more information on falsifiability and the theory of evolution is available here:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA211.html

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  17. Patrick:

    "There is nothing inherently non-natural about intelligence."

    How do you know that to be true?

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  18. Cornelius Hunter,

    "How do you know that to be true?"

    I hold that position provisionally, as with all scientific positions, given the complete and utter lack of any evidence to the contrary. If any evidence comes to light that suggests that intelligence cannot be explained in the context of a physical brain operating according to natural laws of physics, chemistry, and electromagnetism (no doubt with some emergent properties due to the complexity of the physical brain) then I will revise my support for that position.

    Do you have any such evidence?

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  19. Some of tne answers to questions of origins sound like scientists are leaving the realm of MN without admitting it. For examples, the multiverse version of the anthropic principle says that supernatural stuff happens but it happens in other universes. And the discovery of quantum physics required a whole new set of laws.

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  20. Patrick:

    The mind does have certain qualities that are not qualities of matter. How the matter/mind divide is bridges via MN is a bit of a mystery.

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  21. Patrick:

    "I hold that position [ie, There is nothing inherently non-natural about intelligence] provisionally, ..."

    OK, very good. So the signals SETI tries to detect could have a non natural cause. And, in fact, the SETI algorithms search for signals that are not reasonably explained by known natural causes. This makes SETI non scientific under A, regardless of whether or not the cause is ultimately discovered to be naturalistic. For instance, if rap music is heard coming from the Vega system, then SETI will conclude that the signal was not produced by known natural laws. SETI then violates MN. This is true even if, many years from now, we discover a naturalistic explanation.

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  22. Cornelius Hunter,

    "OK, very good. So the signals SETI tries to detect could have a non natural cause."

    No, I explicitly said that SETI is looking for a signal that is the product of intelligence. Intelligence is NOT non-natural.

    Again, if you have any evidence that suggests that intelligence cannot be explained in the context of a physical brain operating according to natural laws of physics, chemistry, and electromagnetism (no doubt with some emergent properties due to the complexity of the physical brain) then I will revise my support for that position.

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  23. natschuster,

    "The mind does have certain qualities that are not qualities of matter."

    Please provide evidence for this assertion.

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  24. Let's see, there's free will, subjective experience, the fact that the core sense of self doesn't change, even when the matter in the brain is always changing. There's the fact that you can get into my brain, but you can't get into my mind.

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  25. Patrick:

    "No, I explicitly said that SETI is looking for a signal that is the product of intelligence. Intelligence is NOT non-natural."

    So what natural laws does SETI use to model and predict the signals it will find that are the product of intelligence?

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  26. Sorry to intrude into this interesting general discussion. But I wonder whether Cornelius couldn't make it concrete for us. What I had done, in my post on Panda's Thumb entitled “Cornelius Hunter and the Mystery of the Missing Scientific Theory” was to call on Cornelius to tell us how his creationist viewpoint could lead to a scientific prediction.

    The particular case that would be most helpful (one of two I mentioned) was the test of common descent by David Penny and his coauthors in 1982. Cornelius had complained in a post here about the assumptions that Penny et al. had made in testing a creationist model. They had assumed that the creationist alternative to common descent would be that species shared no common evolutionary tree. Presumably this is an example of what Cornelius had in mind when (in another post) he argued that “the argument attacks design or creation using non scientific premises that a design or creation advocate would never recognize”

    Recall that Penny et al. found a strong signal favoring common descent in studies of many different genes. They compared this to each gene having a randomly different evolutionary tree.

    I called for Cornelius to show us what a creationist or Design advocate would predict. Give us an example, in the case of Penny's test, of what they would put forward as an hypothesis, one that makes a prediction.

    If he can do this, he will go a long way toward establishing that his alternative to naturalism is scientific. If he can't, then perhaps his approach cannot make any predictions, and is scientifically vacuous. This a golden opportunity for Cornelius Hunter to show us the missing scientific theory!

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  27. Sorry, some of the links I just put in my comment do not seem to work. Hunter's comment on David Penny's work will be found on this blog on 12 June. The other comment (addressed to me) is on this blog on December 7.

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  28. "OK, very good. So the signals SETI tries to detect could have a non natural cause. And, in fact, the SETI algorithms search for signals that are not reasonably explained by known natural causes. This makes SETI non scientific under A, regardless of whether or not the cause is ultimately discovered to be naturalistic. For instance, if rap music is heard coming from the Vega system, then SETI will conclude that the signal was not produced by known natural laws. SETI then violates MN. This is true even if, many years from now, we discover a naturalistic explanation."

    It seems to me that you're confusing two different meanings for "natural" here. There is "natural" in the sense of phenomena which are not -artificial- and artificial phenomena would be what SETI actually looks for.
    Then there's "natural" as opposed to "supernatural," i.e. things that violate the physical laws which govern the material world we perceive around us. This is the kind of "non-natural" explanation that methodological naturalism excludes as a matter of practice.

    It's a simple distinction to grasp. Just because something is artificial (like an Earth-bound radio transmitter, or a Vulcan one) doesn't mean it violates natural laws. Quite the opposite, in fact, because the technology depends on the working rules of nature to operate. SETI looks for artificial signals as distinct from non-artificial, naturally occurring phenomena that emit radio waves. If you want to talk about the limits of methodological naturalism, you'll need a completely different example for something that isn't "natural," instead of SETI's search for aliens. I suggest the example of someone praying to kami at a Shinto shrine.

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  30. Cornelius -

    "How would science be able to tell us that? What's to stop science from constructing false theories to account for the evidence?"

    Well science COULD construct false theories which explain the anomalous data. Then again, how is a false theory which explains all the data different from a correct theory?

    The two are identical UNTIL some evidence is found which the false theory cannot explain. Then we are back to square one.

    "So SETI is not science?"

    I can see others are addressing this...

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  31. natschuster -

    Not a very compelling list of evidence, I'm afraid.

    "...there's free will..."

    Do we even have free will? I'm don't really want to get into this particulr topic, but suffice to say philosophers have been arguing about this for centuries. It SEEMS to us as though we do, but that is not a good argument. Maybe it just seems as though we do even though we don't. Ask any determinist. My point here simply is that it is highly contentious that we even have free will at all.

    "...subjective experience..."

    Subjective experience may be nothing more than the sum of our memories. Your life so far has shaped you and your attitudes. What is 'subjective experience' is not the sum of memories and attitudes? What more needs accounting for?

    "...the fact that the core sense of self doesn't change, even when the matter in the brain is always changing..."

    Not true at all. Altering the brain can produce drastic changes in personality. In fact this is one of the more compelling arguments for the mind being nothing more than a product of the material brain.

    "...There's the fact that you can get into my brain, but you can't get into my mind..."

    How is this a quality which is not a quality of matter? Isn't it the same as saying 'My brain is not yours'?

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  32. It's interesting to note that Mr Felsenstein completely ignored the question and went on to move the goal post.

    If one presupposes naturalism, this philosophical premise will dictate how you interpret physical evidence as well as how you will formulate theories. From here it's a logical deduction to conclude that everything evolved via natural processes. It's a matter of how you sell evidence, the natural of the physical evidence becomes irrelevant, as one will interpret evidence that defies your premise on the basis your premise is true.

    --Johan--

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  33. The nature of the physical evidence simply becomes irrelevant if one presupposes naturalism, and this is what many people don't understand. One can easily interpret physical evidence which defies your metaphysical premise still within the framework of your premise, and chances are you might even believe that these are really good explanations. (if you are already a metaphysical naturalist)

    --Johan--

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  34. Ritchie:

    I can choose to respond to your post, or not. Matter can't do that. Anyway, if we do have free will, then there is evidence that the brain has qualities that are not qualities of matter. Same thing with subjective experience. Subjective experience means that something happens when I see the color red, for example. I can'r describe it, but I know it when I see it. This is not the result of my memories.

    And the matter in my brain is always being replaced, but my core identity always changes. An injury may cause personalty changes, but that isn't a person's core identity.

    And you can look at my brain, you can scan my brain, you can see the neurotransmitters at work, but you can't really undertand what makes my mind different than yours. But why should that be, if they are made of the same stuff?

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  35. And matter can't give itself meaning. You need a mind to do that.

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  36. natschuster,

    "Let's see, there's free will,"

    Is there? Can you even define that concept coherently?

    "subjective experience,"

    Subjective or not, all evidence indicates that any experience is the result of particular brain states.

    "the fact that the core sense of self doesn't change, even when the matter in the brain is always changing."

    Like any other experience, all evidence indicates that one's sense of self is the result of particular brain states, like any other experience.

    "There's the fact that you can get into my brain, but you can't get into my mind."

    On the contrary, stimulation of areas of the brain can generate mental experiences.

    You have no evidence for the assertion that intelligence or other mental experiences are the result of anything but natural processes. Complex processes, to be sure, but natural.

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  37. Cornelius Hunter,

    "So what natural laws does SETI use to model and predict the signals it will find that are the product of intelligence?"

    Just off the top of my head, the SETI team is looking for signals at the frequency of hydrogen and hydroxyl radiation, the famous Water Hole:

    http://www.setileague.org/general/waterhol.htm

    This is a relatively quiet region of the interstellar spectrum and corresponds to a very important substance to our kind of life.

    The SETI team is also looking for simple, rather than noisy, signals. Such signals are only known to be generated by humans, using natural mechanisms developed using our natural intelligence.

    Do you have any evidence whatsoever to suggest that our mental processes are the result of anything other than natural processes?

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  38. kylesplawn,

    "It seems to me that you're confusing two different meanings for 'natural' here. There is "natural" in the sense of phenomena which are not -artificial- and artificial phenomena would be what SETI actually looks for.

    Then there's 'natural' as opposed to 'supernatural,' i.e. things that violate the physical laws which govern the material world we perceive around us. This is the kind of 'non-natural' explanation that methodological naturalism excludes as a matter of practice."

    This is a very important point. This type of equivocation is endemic among the Intelligent Design Creationists of my experience. In many cases it appears almost unconscious rather than deliberate, due primarily to their unquestioned, and unsupported, commitment to dualism.

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  39. Patrick:

    What I menat was that if I'm thinking something, you can't fully experience what I'm thinking, or feeling, even if I choose to let you. And even if there is evidence that mind states can be explained by physical explanations, how it works is still a mystery.

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  40. When anthropologists discover a piece of flint with a sharp edge, they infer that it was made by an intelligent agent, e.g. a Neanderthal. This is because there is no good naturalsitic explanation for how a rock could develope a sharp edge by entirely naturalistic processes without some intelligent intervention. Bioprocesses are a lot more complicated than a flint knife.

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  41. natschuster,

    "What I menat was that if I'm thinking something, you can't fully experience what I'm thinking, or feeling, even if I choose to let you."

    Nonetheless, there is no evidence that your experience of those thoughts requires any non-natural phenomena.

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  42. natschuster,

    "When anthropologists discover a piece of flint with a sharp edge, they infer that it was made by an intelligent agent, e.g. a Neanderthal."

    This is because we know how humans can fashion flint for a purpose. It says nothing about intelligence being anything other than a natural phenomena.

    "This is because there is no good naturalsitic explanation for how a rock could develope a sharp edge by entirely naturalistic processes without some intelligent intervention."

    Actually, determining whether or not a particular piece of flint has been deliberately fashioned or is the product of natural weathering requires considerable skill and experience.

    "Bioprocesses are a lot more complicated than a flint knife."

    And? We know of many natural mechanisms that result in evolution of new traits. You're essentially restating Paley's argument, which has been roundly refuted on numerous occasions.

    Unless and until you have evidence of non-natural phenomena, there is no reason to consider it as a potential explanation. In fact, because there is no such evidence, it does not constitute an explanation.

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  43. If the flint knife was the poduct of weathering, then there is no proof that it was made by a Neanderthal, and anthropologists have no basis for assuming that it was, but they do it anyway. SO it seems that intelligent intervention is sometimes necessary as an explanation.

    And inferring intelligence from design in nature does not necessarily require a supernatural explanation. Like you said, intelligent agent does not necessarily mean not natural.

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  44. natschuster,

    "And inferring intelligence from design in nature does not necessarily require a supernatural explanation."

    No, but it does require evidence. Thus far, none has been presented.

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  45. "If the flint knife was the poduct of weathering, then there is no proof that it was made by a Neanderthal, and anthropologists have no basis for assuming that it was, but they do it anyway. SO it seems that intelligent intervention is sometimes necessary as an explanation."
    This is a common misconception about how archaeologists and anthropologists operate. We know that flint artefacts are manufactured by modern humans even in surviving neolithic societies, and we have records of their manufacture in extinct societies. We have direct evidence, observational in some cases, of their manufacture by intelligent apes (i.e. humans). It's not as if we see pretty rocks and assume that only humans could have made them.

    The same -does not apply- to non-artificial natural features, like the workings of a cell's mitochondria. No matter how "complex" or "functional" they are, there just isn't a good reason to conclude that they're designed by intelligent entities, unlike stone spearheads and cutting tools. The fact is, our "assumption" of design in archaeology is built upon a very large body of prior experience, records, and observations of people making and using stone tools. This is dis-analogous to the attempts made to ascribe naturally occurring, biological features in organisms to "design." In fact, all our observations and experience with biology indicates a nature-driven process rather than artifice.

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  46. Joe:

    "I called for Cornelius to show us what a creationist or Design advocate would predict."

    Since I am neither, at least as those terms are commonly understood, I will have to caveat my response accordingly.

    Imagine that the SETI project discovers a variety of music coming from a star system, including classical, rock, blues, rap, etc. It would be big news because most everyone assumes the music proves ETs. But imagine a critic claims that the signals, in fact, show nothing of the sort but instead he has virtual proof of a naturalistic origin.

    What is his proof? He demonstrates that the music signals are not randomly related, but instead there are obvious patterns that show up, common to the different music signals picked up by SETI. He claims that it is a fact that the signals arose naturalistically, though his naturalistic explanations are unlikely just-so stories.

    He is told his idea is silly, but he is adamant. He asks: If I was wrong to use random signals as my null hypothesis, then what should I use to model the ET hypothesis? He is told that at this stage of the game we don't have the knowledge to understand or predict which star systems will produce intelligent signals, what the content of those signals will be, etc. We can, however, work at detecting such signals, and learning from them. Ah, hah, he declares. So, SETI doesn't even make predictions -- it is scientifically vacuous.

    The problem is that science entails a broad spectrum of research programs, theories, laws, etc., because there is a broad spectrum of problems in nature, in which we have various levels of understanding. As for the designs of the different species, and why they have the observed relationships, this is an extremely complicated problem. It doesn't take a genius to see that there are many constraints on their designs. They live in the same biosphere, share many interdependencies (including eating each other sometimes), etc. Beyond this there is much to learn, but random designs is hardly what comes to mind as *the* design hypothesis.


    "Recall that Penny et al. found a strong signal favoring common descent in studies of many different genes."

    No, they found no such signal. In fact the gene trees they computed showed substantial differences. But their findings did demonstrate, unquestionably, that the species designs are not random / independent -- a fact they *interpreted* as a strong signal for evolution. This is an evolutionary trick to transform a theory that poorly describes the data into a fact.

    What should they have done? They attempted to demonstrate that evolution is falsifiable, and in so doing they demonstrated, once again, the opposite -- that is, that evolution repeatedly defies substantial scientific problems (egs, repeated designs are rampant in biology, similar species are found to have profound differences) using silly contrastive arguments. I would say they should have realized Popper made an intriguing point, and that they have serious scientific and philosophical problems in evolutionary theory.

    Instead of using bogus contrastive arguments which prove nothing, how about evolutionists honestly report the status of how the evidence bears on their theory? Ah, but that would mean they would have to admit that, from a scientific perspective, evolution is not a fact.

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  47. kylesplawn:

    "It seems to me that you're confusing two different meanings for "natural" here ... Just because something is artificial (like an Earth-bound radio transmitter, or a Vulcan one) doesn't mean it violates natural laws. Quite the opposite, in fact, because the technology depends on the working rules of nature to operate. SETI looks for artificial signals as distinct from non-artificial, naturally occurring phenomena that emit radio waves. If you want to talk about the limits of methodological naturalism, you'll need a completely different example for something that isn't "natural," instead of SETI's search for aliens. I suggest the example of someone praying to kami at a Shinto shrine."

    Does ID violate MN? If so, why?

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  48. Patrick:

    "This type of equivocation is endemic among the Intelligent Design Creationists"

    What is the theory of Intelligent Design Creationism?

    ReplyDelete
  49. Kylespawn:

    But they have no right to assume it was a Neanderthal who made the knife if there is another explanation. They can only consider the possibiltiy. And humans have no experience with making mitochondria, but we've had plenty of experience bulding complex machines that do things similar to what the mitochondria does. And to the best of my knowledge every single machine was designed by an intelligent agent.

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  50. Cornelius Hunter,

    "What is the theory of Intelligent Design Creationism?"

    There isn't one. That is one of many reasons why ID is scientifically vacuous.

    ReplyDelete
  51. natschuster:

    "What I menat was that if I'm thinking something, you can't fully experience what I'm thinking, or feeling, even if I choose to let you. And even if there is evidence that mind states can be explained by physical explanations, how it works is still a mystery."

    This appears to be due more to limitations in our ability to measure mind states than any fundamental difference between mind and brain.

    Scientists digitally reconstruct images from inside the mind?

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  52. natschuster:
    "But they have no right to assume it was a Neanderthal who made the knife if there is another explanation."
    You don't seem to get that it's not an "assumption," it's a conclusion. Artifice by Neanderthal is the best explanation given the data about 300K-year-old European artefacts. Any other competing explanation would have to fit the data about as well to be acceptable. If your alternative is simply erosion and weathering, those produce noticeably different stone flakes than manufacture and don't fit the observations. Napping techniques used by people (specifically Mousterian for Neanderthals, according to my Anthro 110 text) better fit the kind of breaks that you find with stone tools. We even know how to replicate the tool-making techniques of various "cultures" or tool traditions, and given the number and angles of napping involved plus the marks of the tools used to make them, human toolmaking explains the artefacts extraordinarily well and the idea that the could plausibly be explained by non-artificial means falls to the wayside. This is based on specific information regarding human manufacture of tools, mind, and not some vague idea that "such and such chemical is very complex!" Another clue might be that the artefact is made from stone that does not naturally occur or get transported to the area where it is found (even pre-humans were known to be selective about the rocks they use as tools, and to take rocks from specific sites). Then you can also find the leftovers, or pieces of stone that supplied the stone flake for tools, and those do not show natural breakage. That's how science works: by comparing competing ideas to see which one measures up to the facts. There's a lot you can learn about tool manufacture if you look into the Anthropological literature, even in old textbooks you can find for a dollar at your public library, which should help dispel the idea that this "it could be erosion, they have no right to assume it's artificial!" argument is in any way a good one. I can only conclude that you're making this case from an ignorance of anthropology.

    "And humans have no experience with making mitochondria, but we've had plenty of experience bulding complex machines that do things similar to what the mitochondria does."
    No, we really don't have any experience building anything to that degree of complexity for the same function, and my point is furthermore that we don't see ACTUAL mitochondria being "designed," unlike the situation with stone tools. You seem to be going for the argument that just because we can make complex things, we must start to assume that all complex things are made. But there's no reason to think that the kind of complexity found in biology is in any way artificial: everything we know about them points to them being natural (in the non-artificial sense). Unless you can give a really good argument for their being "designed," I think you should stop using the argument. It hasn't worked since William Palely and increasingly the idea does not stand up against scrutiny and our growing body of knowledge.

    "And to the best of my knowledge every single machine was designed by an intelligent agent."
    You're wrong. While walking through the woods surrounding my house, I often find one stick laying across another, so that they form a simple machine: the lever. Must I assume that someone has gone before me and is responsible for every instance of criss-crossing sticks? What about the banks surrounding our creek? Inclined planes, a machine. Must I conclude that no "natural" process can explain such a thing? Gravity and water acting in concert without any intervention should be useless to form such a feature? According to your argument, that's the case. Eventually your logic carries over to absolutely everything and I have to ask: what is NOT designed? How do you, natschuster, detect non-design?

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  53. Cornelius Hunter:
    May I take it, then, that you'll be more careful to distinguish between "artificial" and "MN-violating non-natural" in the future? That you won't use SETI as an example of the violation of methodological naturalism? Because methodological naturalism does not, in any way, exclude the possibility of ETs, even ETs who blast jazz over the airwaves. Nothing about that violates methodological naturalism: in fact we would probably assume that naturalistic explanations accounted for their ability to transmit in the first place and that they weren't voodoo-ing it through space.

    "Does ID violate MN? If so, why?"

    You tell me; you're the one who seems to be arguing that science ("evolutionists" in particular) should abandon methodological naturalism, which would in turn allow for the possibility of non-natural causes.

    What is an "evolutionist?"

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  54. kylesplawn:

    " May I take it, then, that you'll be more careful to distinguish between "artificial" and "MN-violating non-natural" in the future? That you won't use SETI as an example of the violation of methodological naturalism? Because methodological naturalism does not, in any way, exclude the possibility of ETs, even ETs who blast jazz over the airwaves. Nothing about that violates methodological naturalism: in fact we would probably assume that naturalistic explanations accounted for their ability to transmit in the first place and that they weren't voodoo-ing it through space. "

    No, you are mischaracterizing MN. Of course MN doesn't exclude the possibility of ETs, because MN is merely a philosophy of science. It makes no claims about reality. It merely says that science ought to restrict its explanations to those which entail known natural laws. Appealing to unpredictable, autonomous agents is out of bounds. That is precisely what the appeal to ET is, in order to explain the jazz music.

    Now you may say that such an appeal is within MN, for instance, because you think the ETs evolved (setting aside the *fact* that evolution provides no such explanation beyond hand waving). OK, you have now stretched the definition of MN. For instance, in this definition ID also is within MN. So go tell all the evolutionists that ID is OK after all.


    " What is an "evolutionist?" "

    Well I usually use the term to refer to people who maintain that evolution is a fact.

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  55. Cornelius Hunter:
    "No, you are mischaracterizing MN. Of course MN doesn't exclude the possibility of ETs, because MN is merely a philosophy of science. It makes no claims about reality. It merely says that science ought to restrict its explanations to those which entail known natural laws. Appealing to unpredictable, autonomous agents is out of bounds."
    I think you're the one mischaracterizing MN. It absolutely does not exclude the actions of intelligent life affecting things that we later observe, it only says we shouldn't waste our time considering things like -supernatural- explanations, i.e. Zeus being the source of lightning, laundry pixies causing static cling, or invisible intangible silent heatless dragons occupying our garages and spooking the dog at night. There's nothing supernatural about humans making radio equipment, and there's nothing supernatural about aliens doing the same (if they exist). Unless you can cite the literature wherein MN, as related to science, was laid out and point to where it says we can't consider aliens (or humans) exploiting natural laws to produce artificial constructs and effects, I'm going to say you are the one distorting its meaning. I believe the foundation for the use of the term "methodological naturalism" in science was made by Paul de Vries in the early 1980s, as Ron Numbers explains in this newsgroup posting. I'll expect to see some scholarly footwork if you want to continue saying MN excludes the possibility of ever concluding that we've received radio signals from aliens.

    "Well I usually use the term to refer to people who maintain that evolution is a fact."
    You may as well say "biologists," then, since some 99.x% would be "evolutionists," and they would be the experts on biological evolution who work with the idea every day.
    Evolution is an observed and thoroughly documented occurrence, verifiable under a variety of conditions and reproducible by anybody who cares to try. In fact, some model organisms will routinely undergo evolution in the laboratory even to the point of speciation. You don't get much more "fact" than that in any practical sense of the word. But perhaps you are being a bit loose with the term "evolution," not using it strictly the way scientists do?

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  56. kylesplawn:

    " I think you're the one mischaracterizing MN. It absolutely does not exclude the actions of intelligent life affecting things that we later observe, "

    False, ID is routinely said to violate MN.


    " I believe the foundation for the use of the term "methodological naturalism" in science was made by Paul de Vries in the early 1980s, as Ron Numbers explains in this newsgroup posting [http://www.asa3.org/archive/asa/200308/0439.html]. "

    You are confusing the terminology with the concept which has been around for centuries. It goes back at least to Descartes.


    " You may as well say "biologists," then, since some 99.x% would be "evolutionists," and they would be the experts on biological evolution who work with the idea every day. "

    False, few biologists work on evolution every day. Evolution is the art of telling stories about the past -- it has little positive influence on today's science.


    " Evolution is an observed and thoroughly documented occurrence, verifiable under a variety of conditions and reproducible by anybody who cares to try. "

    False, silly just so stories (and then a new protein evolved) don't count as scientific documentation. If evolution is to qualify as a scientific fact it will need to do more than claim that if there are enough universes in the multiverse then evolution, though unlikely, is bound to happen. If you are interested in facts, the fact is that evolution's fundamental predictions are routinely found to be false (www.DarwinsPredictions.com).

    ReplyDelete
  57. Cornelius Hunter:
    I was going to give a lengthy response, but then I hit the end of your rejoinder.
    "If evolution is to qualify as a scientific fact it will need to do more than claim that if there are enough universes in the multiverse then evolution, though unlikely, is bound to happen."
    Wow, I never suspected someone with a doctorate in "Biophysics and Computational Biology" would so egregiously misrepresent what evolution actually claims, or how it affects modern biology. Evolution doesn't claim anything about alternate universes, you're just throwing in random stuff from the kitchen sink of pop physics and avoiding the biological definition of "evolution" altogether (a change in the frequency of an allele within a gene pool). You'd completely dismiss actual cases of evolution even under laboratory conditions as "just so stories" when the experiment design is capable of differentiating between null hypotheses and evolutionary events. You don't seem to care what evolution actually is because you want to argue against some kind of weird straw-man of evolution.
    You do likewise with the subject of what methodological naturalism constrains scientists to study as well, since it was never formulated to prevent detecting -artificial- events but only to shave off considerations of -supernatural- intervention to explain phenomena, regardless of any claims about intelligent causes. The whole point of methodological naturalism is to address supernatural explanations specifically, not the actions of intelligent beings causing things to happen. MN, in short, doesn't care about intelligent causes unless those causes are proposed to be supernatural. I think you don't want to dig into and post the history of the term as applied to science because you know it won't support your claim.

    It's seems to me that you have little interest in discussing reality or holding your claims to any basis in fact. I'm not going to keep arguing with someone who insists on making the world up as he goes along, so I'd like some kind of confirmation that you actually know what you're talking about. I'd like you to stick to claims about evolution and MN that are accurate and representative of those things in the real world.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Patrick A:
    That's my point exactly. There is no good expanation for the



    Kylespawn:

    Have humans ever experienced a machine with three or more parts that was made without intelligent intervention? That appears to be highly unlikely. So I guess that would be a good way to determine design. And just like by the stone knife, we are statisfied with the best explanation, which is design, not the only explanation, so too in biology.

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  59. Natschuster -

    Design is the 'best xplaination'? You have just smuggled in a presupposition of a being capable of doing such designing, which is an absolutely enormous thing to assume given that we have precisely no tangible evidence for such a being existing.

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  60. natschuster:

    "That's my point exactly."

    I must have misunderstood you. I thought you said that we couldn't experience what you are thinking when scientists have clearly shown that is not true.

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  61. Ritchie:

    "We don't understand how consciousness works yet, but that is the whole reason scientists do reasearch. (sic)"

    "...we have precisely no tangible evidence for such a being existing."

    Let's be real here. In the 150 years since Freud, there is no "tangible evidence" that science has produced anything of value regarding human consciousness.

    "Neuro-psychology is a very young scientific field"

    Trying to "explain" the psyche in terms of neurons is not a young endeavor, but guess what, it is a failed endeavor, based on the non-existence of useful results.

    You folks pushing with bravado the successes of mechanistic science to validate your materialistic religion will never verify that mind is material. One and a half centuries of failure should be indicative of this, at least to any rational individual.

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  62. kylesplawn:

    " Wow, I never suspected someone with a doctorate in "Biophysics and Computational Biology" would so egregiously misrepresent what evolution actually claims, or how it affects modern biology. Evolution doesn't claim anything about alternate universes, you're just throwing in random stuff from the kitchen sink of pop physics "

    Pop physics? The multiverse is one of the explanatory devices used by evolutionists to explain low probability events. I agree with the shock you express, but I'm afraid this is not "random stuff."



    " and avoiding the biological definition of "evolution" altogether (a change in the frequency of an allele within a gene pool). "

    I'm afraid I'm not the one who is misrepresenting evolution. This is an absurd equivocation evolutionists use to avoid problems. Shall we define the flat earth theory as a field that is flat? Ah, hah, it is true. Let's define astrology as a day where the stock market goes up. Ah, hah, it's true.



    " You'd completely dismiss actual cases of evolution even under laboratory conditions as "just so stories" when the experiment design is capable of differentiating between null hypotheses and evolutionary events. "

    These are not "actual cases" of evolution from a scientific perspective. Science is not about making silly, contra indicated conclusions based on snippets of data. The evolutionist's use of adaptations to "prove" evolution is an unfortunate example of this. Those interested in learning more can go to www.darwinspredictions.com Section 5.2.



    " You don't seem to care what evolution actually is because you want to argue against some kind of weird straw-man of evolution. "

    Unbelievable, evolution is "a change in the frequency of an allele within a gene pool" and I'm the one making up a straw-man? The hypocrisy of evolutionists is amazing.


    " You do likewise with the subject of what methodological naturalism constrains scientists to study as well, since it was never formulated to prevent detecting -artificial- events but only to shave off considerations of -supernatural- intervention to explain phenomena, regardless of any claims about intelligent causes. The whole point of methodological naturalism is to address supernatural explanations specifically, not the actions of intelligent beings causing things to happen. MN, in short, doesn't care about intelligent causes unless those causes are proposed to be supernatural. I think you don't want to dig into and post the history of the term as applied to science because you know it won't support your claim. "

    Actually I have dug into the history and written about it. It didn't begin in 1988 or whatever (try about 4 centuries earlier). It is yet another case of hypocrisy when they say Intelligent Design violates MN but yet MN's purpose is "only to shave off considerations of -supernatural- intervention to explain phenomena, regardless of any claims about intelligent causes."



    " It's seems to me that you have little interest in discussing reality or holding your claims to any basis in fact. I'm not going to keep arguing with someone who insists on making the world up as he goes along, so I'd like some kind of confirmation that you actually know what you're talking about. I'd like you to stick to claims about evolution and MN that are accurate and representative of those things in the real world. "

    So you are apparently unaware that evolutionists appeal to the multiverse, epigenetics produces adaptations, evolution calls for macro evolutionary change far beyond changes in allele frequencies, and that evolutionists say Intelligent Design violates MN. Unfortunately this is not unusual. What we have is a scientifically unlikely theory being shielded by all kinds of misrepresentations and when this is pointed out the messenger is blamed for egregious errors.

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  63. Patrick:

    ====
    "What is the theory of Intelligent Design Creationism?"

    There isn't one. That is one of many reasons why ID is scientifically vacuous.
    ====

    If there is no theory of "Intelligent Design Creationism" why does that make ID scientifically vacuous?

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  64. Cornelius Hunter,

    "If there is no theory of "Intelligent Design Creationism" why does that make ID scientifically vacuous?"

    Because, as someone with an advanced degree in a scientific discipline and pretensions to being an historian of science should know, the scientific method involves observation, hypothesizing, predicting, and testing. Intelligent Design Creationism has no theory, makes no predictions, and provides no tests that could, in principle, falsify anything claimed by ID proponents.

    Now, are you just going to keep asking silly questions or are you actually going to put up some positive evidence that supports ID?

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  65. Hey Patrick: I don't think you are getting it. Rad what he is saying It seems that maybe nobody on this thread knows of a theory of "Intelligent Design Creationism" or of anyone expounding a theory named such.

    ReplyDelete
  66. MSEE -


    "Let's be real here. In the 150 years since Freud, there is no "tangible evidence" that science has produced anything of value regarding human consciousness."

    Firstly, Freud died in 1939. It has not been 150 years since Freud.

    Secondly, how can you say science has produced nothing of value? We are barely scratching the surface of how the mind works, and the twentieth century has produced fascinating results in the fields of psychology and neurology. If you think they have produced no results, I suggest the flaw is in your knowledge of these fields.

    "Trying to "explain" the psyche in terms of neurons is not a young endeavor, but guess what, it is a failed endeavor, based on the non-existence of useful results."

    A failed endeavor? Not to put too fine a point on it but who are you to so bodly declare that? Psychologists are performing research every year, and our knowledge of the mind and human consciousness grows steadily.

    But since you mention the subject of failed endeavours, I hope you are not about to suggest we turn to religion as an alternative source of knowledge. Christianity for one has been around for two thousand years, most of which spent at the very forefront of Western civilisation. Yet what insights have we gleaned from it? What tangible results has it every produced? What answers has it ever given? If one source of knowledge can be dead after a century then Christianity is failed two hundred times over.

    "You folks pushing with bravado the successes of mechanistic science to validate your materialistic religion will never verify that mind is material."

    A beautiful demonstration of the God of the Gaps argument in action. You are determined that humans have discovered all that there is to discover and that what is a mystery now will remain so forever more.

    Does it not trouble you that problems have a habit of being solved? Given time, science has a habit of finding answers to questions - answers which produce tangible results.

    It is religion which produces nothing more than just so stories.

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  67. Cornelius Hunter -

    "Pop physics? The multiverse is one of the explanatory devices used by evolutionists to explain low probability events."

    The theory of evolution by natural selection says nothing at all about multi-universes. It does not say 'in some parallel world it is possible that evolution happens'. It shows how evolution happens right here. In this one.

    "I'm afraid I'm not the one who is misrepresenting evolution. This is an absurd equivocation evolutionists use to avoid problems."

    Predictably perhaps I agree with kylesplawn. At darwinspredictions.com you misrepresent evolution in several places. For one thing, in section 5.1, you present Darwin's theory and as being falsified by the work of Gregor Mendel on genes when in fact it was fully supported by Mendel's work. And now that evolution 'has little positive influence on today's science' when in fact it totally underpins the vast majority of modern biology? I have little confidence that you truly understand evolution at all.

    "So you are apparently unaware that evolutionists appeal to the multiverse, epigenetics produces adaptations, evolution calls for macro evolutionary change far beyond changes in allele frequencies, and that evolutionists say Intelligent Design violates MN. Unfortunately this is not unusual. What we have is a scientifically unlikely theory being shielded by all kinds of misrepresentations and when this is pointed out the messenger is blamed for egregious errors."

    Obviously someone is in error. The question is, are you truly willing to consider the possibility that in fact it might be you?

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  68. Cornelius, I'm browsing through this entire thread, and I have to ask, has anyone actually given you a straight answer to this simple multi-choice? (I did noticed many people charged these questions as being "flawed"?)

    --Johan--

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  69. Patrick:

    Well, as someone with an advanced degree in a scientific discipline and pretensions to being an historian of science, I know what Intelligent Design is, and I know what Creationism is, but I don't know what Intelligent Design Creationism is. Is it a strawman?

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  70. Ritchie:

    "in section 5.1, you present Darwin's theory and as being falsified ..."

    Actually I don't present "Darwin's theory and as being falsified" anywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Okay, yes that's true. My bad. I'll reword...

    You claim that the discoveries of Gregor Mendel falsify predictions made by Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

    Which is not true.

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  72. johan

    The 'simple multi-choice' on offer is what is called a false dichotomy. It offers us several options, but none of which are right.

    It would be like me asking you if your favourite colour was yellow, green or blue. Supposing your favourite colour was actually red, you would also fail to honestly provide a straight answer to a simple multi-choice.

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  73. Patrick:

    My post got cut off. I understood you to be saying that science cannot yet explain how the mind works. Thats my point. There is no good naturalistic way to bridge the gap between matter and mind. We can scan the brain, and study neurons in action. We can trace the pathways of neurotranmitters, but how that becomes a mind, and explains the problems I mentioned is a mystery. If science does produce one, then we can talk.

    Ritchie:

    Darwin said that heredity was controlled by little blobbies called gemules that changed in response to the environment. This was very different than what Mendel discovered, namely that heredity is controlled by dscret units that are passed intact from parent to offspring. we call these units genes. Darwinist were unwilling to accept the existance of genes until they developed the modern synthesis.

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  74. natschuster:

    "I understand you to be saying that science cannot yet explain how the mind works. Thats my point."

    I agree with you that science cannot yet explain how the mind works. But before you suggest that there are non-naturalistic explanations, shouldn't you produce some evidence of it, not just an argument from incredulity?

    Everything that we do know about the mind shows that it is directly linked to the chemical processes of the brain. Our feelings can be manipulated by taking different chemicals. Our thoughts and decisions can be measured, sometimes before we are even aware of them ourselves. Memories and personality can be drastically affected by damage to different parts of the brain. Shouldn't we see some disconnect between the two if they are truly independent functions?

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  75. Ritchie:

    " The 'simple multi-choice' on offer is what is called a false dichotomy. It offers us several options, but none of which are right. "

    So what should I add to the list?

    ReplyDelete
  76. Ritchie said:

    "Firstly, Freud died in 1939. It has not been 150 years since Freud."

    It has been more than 150 since Freud's birth and 134 years since his first publication. Consider the 150 as a generalization, if you don't mind.

    "A failed endeavor? Not to put too fine a point on it but who are you to so bodly declare that? Psychologists are performing research every year, and our knowledge of the mind and human consciousness grows steadily."

    You provide no examples to counter me. These fields are riddled with laughable contradictions and have exhibited this for the decades I have been studying consciousness research, a more successful endeavor which is not materialist driven (see Grof, Realms of the Human Unconscious). Give me a practical result from the materialistic study of the psyche which compare in revolutionary value to the discovery of say, Maxwell's equations or Planck's constant. Or even something of the mundane utility of Heaviside's development of transmission line theory or reformulation of Maxwell's 12 equations into the 4 commonly taught nowadays.

    Conversely I can point you to revolutionary data from consciousness research, with revolutionary practical implications.

    "A beautiful demonstration of the God of the Gaps argument in action. You are determined that humans have discovered all that there is to discover and that what is a mystery now will remain so forever more.... It is religion which produces nothing more than just so stories."

    These statement have something relevant to what I write? Do I espouse "that humans have discovered all that there is to discover". It would be strange to accuse of this someone who is writing a Phd thesis on an engineering topic. And do you insinuate that someone opposing materialism necessarily has any association with a religion?

    But hey thanks for the attribution of beauty, misplaced as it may be.

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  77. Cornelius, when I asked you to

      “show us what a creationist or Design advocate would predict”

    You wrote:

      “Since I am neither, at least as those terms are commonly understood, I will have to caveat my response accordingly.”

    Wow. I had seen you (in an earlier reply to me) complain that David Penny's 1982 work

      “attacks design or creation using non scientific premises that a design or creation advocate would not recognize.”

    so I construed you as being some variety of creationist. Based on the comment, I suspect you must at least know some of those folks. You are always criticizing “evolutionists” for their statements, but could it be that you think that some sort of evolution happened?

    Your position (others have claimed that you are an Old Earth Creationist) seems to be not too well advertised. That is especially true with your criticism of Penny's work, where you dismiss his whole approach and do not say what alternative to common descent he should investigate when examining whether phylogenies from different loci agree.

    I'd say your scientific theory is still mysteriously missing.

    The statements you also make that Penny is in effect assuming random design are
    not relevant. Penny is not talking about design but about descent. In effect
    he is using an alternative of random history. What assumptions about
    history should we investigate, to evaluate your arguments? Do you have a theory that can make any predictions about what we should see when we reconstruct phylogenies?

    Do Design advocates have one?

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  78. natschuster -

    That isn't quite the case.

    At the time of Darwin and Mendel, the pervading idea of inheritance was what we may call 'blended inheritance' - material from a mother and father combine and mix to produce a child. This was the accepted wisdom of the time.

    However, it was critical for Darwin's theory of evolution that this was not true. Critical to the idea of evolution by natural selection is the idea that characteristics are shuffled, not blended, when producing a child. Natural selection may be though of as the accumulation of sucessful characteristics. This would not work if those characteristics blended with others in reproduction.

    So Darwin did indeed propose imagined particles called gemmules (though not in Origin of Species) to provide a possible mechanism for the inheritance of acquired characteristics.

    At roughly the same time, Gregor Mendel in Austria was publishing his work on what we now call genes (though he did not use the name himself). It was his work which conclusively demonstrated the existence of unblended inheritable units. Darwin's gemmules were merely hypothetical - Mendel's genes were demonstrable.

    Gemmules were not precisely equivalent to genes - for instance, Darwin imagined that perhaps organs shed these gemmules which somehow get into the reproductive cells. However, the point of gemmules was that they were units of inheritance which pass unblended from parent to child - a concept which Mendel absolutely vindicated.

    The work of Darwin and Mendel were not, as presented at darwinspredictions.com, at odds.

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  79. Cornelius Hunter -

    "So what should I add to the list?"

    Yes, we have rather drifted from the original question somewhat, haven't we?

    The fact is though that I don't know what option needs to be added to your list. The concepts you are playing with seem too abstract to really get a handle on.

    Perhaps it would help if you were to respond to patrick's points: how exactly would we identify a phenomenon as 'non-naturalistc', and what does this even really mean?

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  80. MSEE -

    "It has been more than 150 since Freud's birth and 134 years since his first publication. Consider the 150 as a generalization, if you don't mind."

    As you wish, though bearing in mind Freud was publishing throughout his whole life which ended only 70 years ago, I would have thought 100 years was a fairer generalization...?

    "Give me a practical result from the materialistic study of the psyche which compare in revolutionary value to the discovery of say, Maxwell's equations or Planck's constant."

    I do not pretend human consciousness is an open book. We have much to discover, but that is why scientists do research. We may well not have discovered our basic framework theory on which we will make sense of consciousness, but to tout this as evidence that materialism has 'failed' in this area is absurd to say the least.

    Nevertheless, notable work on the human consciousness in the last century includes:

    The work of Piaget and Vygotsky in the field of child development. They give us a working framework on how children's minds develop. Similarly, Stephen Pinker does much the same thing with the human acquisition of language.

    Pavlov is credited with establishing behavioural psychology with his infamous experiments on the topic of learned behaviour with dogs.

    In medicine we have created machines such as EEG and fMRI which are invaluable for mapping brain activity associated with consciousness.

    Alan Turning and Gordon Gallup have both devised simple tests for human consciousness which have been the subject of research and hot debate.

    Like I said, there is a lot we don't know about consciousness, and it may be that none of the work yet done is the single key theory which underpins our eventual understanding of the human psyche (as evolution does to biology), but again, this is a very young field of scientific discovery, and to boldly declare it a failed endeavour is to insult the men and women who have sacrificed their careers to give us what tangible evidence we do in fact have.

    "I can point you to revolutionary data from consciousness research, with revolutionary practical implications."

    Please do so.

    "Do I espouse "that humans have discovered all that there is to discover". It would be strange to accuse of this someone who is writing a Phd thesis on an engineering topic."

    I agree, yet such is apparently the case. I refer you to your bold claim that, "you folks pushing with bravado the successes of mechanistic science to validate your materialistic religion will never verify that mind is material." Classic God of the Gaps mentality - we haven't fully explained something yet, so we never will.

    "And do you insinuate that someone opposing materialism necessarily has any association with a religion?"

    Not necessarily. You can fit whatever you want into these 'gaps'. It generally tends to be religion or some spiritualist mumbo-jumbo, but it could really be anything which is at odds with mainstream science. Just say 'See? Mainstream science can't explain X...' and then make up whatever explaination you want.

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  81. "The work of Darwin and Mendel were not at odds" --Ritchie--

    Well evolutionists always had talent for turning a severe problem into an "advantage", we have to give them at least that.

    Here is the Abstract from a paper that was published in the Journal of Heredity:

    a careful scrutiny of Mendel's Pisum paper, published in 1866, and of the time and circumstances in which it appeared suggests not only that it is antievolutionary in content, but also that it was specifically written in contradiction of Darwin's book The origin of species, published in 1859, and that Mendel's and Darwin's theories, the two theories which were united in the 1940'a to form the modern synthesis, are completely antithetical.

    The paper can be found here:
    http://jhered.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/87/3/205

    This must be a conspiracy?

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  82. Cornelius Hunter,

    "Well, as someone with an advanced degree in a scientific discipline and pretensions to being an historian of science, I know what Intelligent Design is, and I know what Creationism is, but I don't know what Intelligent Design Creationism is. Is it a strawman?"

    It's the accurate name for the political movement referred to as "Intelligent Design" by its proponents. There is no scientific endeavor known as Intelligent Design because ID is manifestly non-scientific; it has no theory, it makes no predictions, and it is untestable.

    Most damning, there is no scientific evidence for ID.

    Anyone who has followed this political controversy (there is no scientific controversy) in any detail will note that ID proponents nearly always attempt to turn the topic of discussion to alleged problems with modern evolutionary theory, the demarcation between science and non-science, specious claims of unfairness to ID supporters in academe, arguments from personal incredulity, and ridiculous and offensive claims that the theory of evolution led to the holocaust. What they never present is any positive support for ID.

    Because there is no scientific evidence for ID.

    On those rare occasions when ID proponents attempt to sound like they are doing science, Behe's irreducible complexity and Dembski's complex specified information, for example, there is never any connection to real, observed biological phenomena. Behe speculates but does no lab work and produces no peer reviewed papers. Dembski generates new terms, often for old concepts, with wild abandon, but never applies any of his calculations to actual organisms nor does he take into consideration known evolutionary mechanisms. All their verbal contortions notwithstanding, ID is no closer to being a science.

    Because there is no scientific evidence for ID.

    Despite years of posturing by the likes of Dembski, Behe, Wells, Meyers, and yourself, ID is, as Nick Matzke so succinctly summarized, creationism in a cheap tuxedo.

    Because there is no scientific evidence for ID.

    When the ID proponents have some real evidence and a testable hypothesis, they'll deserve to be taken seriously by scientists. Until then, anyone not ignorant of biology, utterly deluded, or dishonest can easily see that ID is just another attempt by religious fundamentalists to salvage the idea that their preferred sacred texts are actually accurate descriptions of the physical world. Which, of course, is wrong.

    Because there is no scientific evidence for ID.

    Normally this kind of pseudoscience could be ignored and its crank practitioners left to themselves in their vacation bible schools, but unfortunately the Intelligent Design Creationists have followers who are willing to destroy science education in this country. That means that those of us who understand and value science, who want their children to grow up with the benefits that science provides, have no choice but to fight you. And we'll win.

    Because there is no scientific evidence for ID.

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  83. Patrick

    Your comments show a complete ignorance of intelligent design. You shouldn't have wasted your effort because no one who has even superficially read ID knows that you do not have a clue about what you are talking about.


    Example 1:

    "There is no scientific endeavor known as Intelligent Design because ID is manifestly non-scientific"

    Tell that to Dr Myers whose editor for the Smithsonian got fired because he published Myers work.

    "Behe speculates but does no lab work..."

    Behe has done meticulous research into the mutations of malaria.

    Example 3:

    When forensic sciences make conclusions about data they are do ID science.

    Please read the ID material and try to understand it before you post. We would all benefit from constructive criticism. There is no benefit in reading your post at present.

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  84. johan -

    From the same link:

    "Although the past decade or so has seen a resurgence of interest in Mendel's role in the origin of genetic theory, only one writer, L. A. Callender (1988), has concluded that Mendel was opposed to evolution."

    Why would that be exactly? Let me guess - everyone else in the whole world is so blinded by the assumption that evolution is correct that they can't tell which ideas support it and which ones don't...? (stupid evolutionists)

    Am I close?

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  85. Patrick says: "those of us who understand and value science, who want their children to grow up with the benefits that science provides, have no choice but to fight you. And we'll win."

    Those of us who understand and value science sometimes obtain advanced engineering degrees and laugh at the thought of an eyeball being made up of thousands of parts that were ALL used for something else before randomly coming together and waiting for the optic nerve with its thousands of fibers used for something else, to get to it (Ken Miller's take on irreducible complexity). Pretty ingenious, this randomness, just like you guys and your wild ingenious speculation based on ... other speculation.

    So far as you winning, the rest of the world is waking up to the charade, places like the U.K. and Turkey where interest in the ID project is soaring. Your view is in the minority in this country, a shrinking minority at that. Getting puffed up about winning isn't a winning strategy, especially when it requires a idolized 19th century figurehead.

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  86. Richie, let me guess Mendel's work was ignored for 30 years because it so beautifully "saved" evolutionary theory?

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  87. Patrick:

    Nobody ever said that there is a complete disconnect between the brain and the mind. The problem is that the brain is not a sufficient explanation. It is necessary but not sufficient.
    Kinda like hardware and software.

    And evolution requires change. So Darwin said his gemules change from generation to generation. Mendels work created problems for Darwin because it showed that genes are passed down from generation to generation intact. This doesn't allow the change that evolution needs.

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  88. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  89. Patrick says: "those of us who understand and value science, who want their children to grow up with the benefits that science provides, have no choice but to fight you. And we'll win."

    Me thinks someone been watching Rambo!

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  90. natschuster:

    "Nobody ever said that there is a complete disconnect between the brain and the mind. The problem is that the brain is not a sufficient explanation. It is necessary but not sufficient.
    Kinda like hardware and software."

    Exactly what part of the mind do you find insufficiently explained by the brain?

    "And evolution requires change. So Darwin said his gemules change from generation to generation. Mendels work created problems for Darwin because it showed that genes are passed down from generation to generation intact. This doesn't allow the change that evolution needs."

    Had Darwin known about DNA and mutations do you think he would have had any problems with Mendel's work? Isn't it amazing how scientists can build on each other's work?

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  91. Joe:

    ----------------------
    ... so I construed you as being some variety of creationist.
    ----------------------

    Well sorry about that. I thought it was clear I was discussing a flaw in a long-standing, important argument for evolution, rather than defending its foil.

    ----------------------
    Based on the comment, I suspect you must at least know some of those folks [creationists]. You are always criticizing “evolutionists” for their statements, but could it be that you think that some sort of evolution happened?
    ----------------------

    Well creationism and evolution are both rationalistic programs in the sense that they begin with certain metaphysical axioms and work from there. Creationism's axiom is that the Bible, properly interpreted, says that God used miracles in creating the world (usually with a young earth scenario) whereas evolution's axiom is (put very simply, I've written extensively on this) that God would not have willed or designed this world, so natural law must be sufficient to explain its origin (including the species of course).

    These evolutionary arguments were clearly laid out in the 17th century and by Hume's death in the 18th century practically all the major evolutionary arguments were roaded tested and operational. They persist today in everything from textbooks and popular literature to comments in blogs.

    Science is not particularly kind to either the creationist or evolution account. But that is where the symmetry ends. Whereas creationists are up front and open about their religious assumptions and scientific problems, evolutionists are not. It may seem to be a case of denial or dishonesty, but I think it pretty obvious that a major part of the evolutionary calculus is its rejection of creation (as explained above). Sober has explored the fact that evolutionary thinking is so often constrastive, but it goes far deeper than even he has elucidated.

    IOW, it is not so much that evolutionists deny or lie about their metaphysics and scientific problems, but rather that they hold them to be inconsequential. So what? We know creation is problematic and that natural law, one way or another, must do the job. It is a fact. Sure we talk about religion, but only because it is the only way to get the point across to those creationists. Otherwise the science is obvious and compelling. And why is it compelling? Well you don't believe God would have created the mosquito do you? And around we go...

    Evolution is a fascinating web in the history of thought. It at once involves science, philosophy, theology, the church and history. Out of one side of its mouth it claims to be a scientific fact while from the other side it issues all manner of religious and philosophical "truths" mandating evolution and making it a fact, while the science presents all kinds of serious problems.

    (continued ...)

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  92. Joe:

    ----------------------
    Your position (others have claimed that you are an Old Earth Creationist) seems to be not too well advertised.
    ----------------------

    Well I'm over on the empiricist side of the spectrum where, unlike rationalism, certainty is not held as a virtue. I cannot in good conscience testify that evolution is a scientific fact, no matter the cost. Indeed, at this point I suspect that, rather than promoting underdetermined theories as fact, it is more important to educate folks about our current myth. Our myth is that evolution is a scientific fact (of course the fact that this is a myth does not mean evolution is false).

    ----------------------
    That is especially true with your criticism of Penny's work, where you dismiss his whole approach and do not say what alternative to common descent he should investigate when examining whether phylogenies from different loci agree. I'd say your scientific theory is still mysteriously missing.
    ----------------------

    I've already addressed this question of yours (both in my comment above about SETI and in a recent blog) so I won't repeat myself. I'll merely add that your repeated return to this point is yet another example of the contrastive reasoning that underwrites evolution.

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  93. Ritchie:


    ========
    The 'simple multi-choice' on offer is what is called a false dichotomy. It offers us several options, but none of which are right.

    -----------------
    "So what should I add to the list?"
    -----------------

    The fact is though that I don't know what option needs to be added to your list. The concepts you are playing with seem too abstract to really get a handle on.
    ========


    A classic example of evolutionary reasoning. MN is mandated and if skeptics ask just tell them their questions are fallacious. Folks, if MN is mandated then you've either introduced a non scientific axiom, or you've forfeited either completeness or realism.

    Evolutionists, of course, do not want to own up to the consequences of their own rules. Folks have observed that no one is actually answering the question posed in the OP. Of course not, the question reveals that evolution is either non scientific or limited -- neither of which evolutionists will accept. Evolutionists will never answer this question. Instead they will attack the questioner.

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  94. Cornelius,

    ------------------------------
    So what? We know creation is problematic and that natural law, one way or another, must do the job.
    ------------------------------

    Is this a fact? The natural laws were presumably created at time=0 at the same instance as the universe. This must have been by an extra-natural agent. Why could not living things be created in the same way? There is at least a precedent to support extra-natural creation.

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  95. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  96. Peter:

    ------------
    The natural laws were presumably created at time=0 at the same instance as the universe. This must have been by an extra-natural agent. Why could not living things be created in the same way?
    ------------

    Because that would mean that the species were divinely designed which, according to evolutionary thought, is unacceptable for a number of reasons.

    How can we do science if the continuum of nature is violated by miracles? Why would an all-powerful creator create an inefficient, evil world?, etc. For an overview you can go here:

    www.darwinspredictions.com/#_6.2_Other_process

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  97. Cornelius Hunter -

    "Folks have observed that no one is actually answering the question posed in the OP. Of course not, the question reveals that evolution is either non scientific or limited"

    Not so. You have smuggled in the presupposition that evidence of non-natural phenomenon exists and are asking what science should do about it.

    But in fact, you have NOT shown that non-natural phenomenon exists. Or explained what you even mean by it. Or suggested ways we might detect such phenomenon.

    Because until this can in fact be established, your original question remains a bizarre and possibly nonsensical thought experiment.

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  98. Cornelius -

    If you'll forgive my butting in, this comment you made to Joe lept out at me:

    "evolution's axiom is (put very simply, I've written extensively on this) that God would not have willed or designed this world, so natural law must be sufficient to explain its origin (including the species of course)."

    The theory of evolution is a theory of biology which explains the diversity of life found in nature. Nothing more. It does not say anything at all about the existence of God, any more than the theory of gravity of theory of general relativity says anything about the existence of God.

    It is, however, a way of explaining the diversity of life without the need to invoke a God.

    Because of this, many theists - who perhaps accept religious explainations for all we see in nature - have perceived this as a direct attack on God. Or less directly, as insults such as that 'God would not have willed or designed this world.'

    But this is nonsense.

    Perhaps you can see the problem better from the outside. Imagine I am a devout follower of a religion which claims that our God directly controls the weather. For reasons known only to Him, his Hand directly marshalls the clouds and flings storms, hurricanes, sandstorms and the rest.

    Through my blinkered worldview, I might then perceive modern meteorology as a direct challenge on my faith. I might say that 'these damn meteorologists seek to remove God from our worldview'. I might claim that 'modern meteorology claims that God would not have willed or designed the weather.'

    I might also add that modern meteorology cannot predict the weather with absolute 100% certainty. So hah! They don't know everything! Their methodology is obviously flawed!

    Do you see the problem now?

    Meteorology is not directly opposed to the idea of God. It simply explains how the world works without the need to invoke one. The same is true of the theory of gravity. The same is true of germ theory. The same is true of the theory of general relativity. And the same is true of the theory of evolution.

    None of these theories say God is impossible. None of these theories say anything at all about a God or gods. They simply explain how various aspects of the world work without invoking the supernatural.

    So then it leads me to wonder why exactly the theory of evolution alone is the subject of so much ire from Creationists and ID-ers. If such people insist that the God in which they believe interacts observably in the material world, then why is it only evolution that comes under fire? Meteorology does not reveal the hand of God in weather patterns. Quantum physics does not reveal the hand of God in the realm of the subatomic. Just as evolution does not reveal the hand of God in biology.

    Your determination to undermine MN and UF attack the very core of science. You might think you are putting yourself only against evolution, but you are not. You are putting yourself against the whole of science, whether you recognise this or not.

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  99. Ritchie:

    "You have smuggled in the presupposition that evidence of non-natural phenomenon exists"

    Actually I did not do that, but this is a typical response from evolutionists.

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  100. Patrick:

    I listed a number of things that are qualities of the mind that are not qualities of matter. How to bridge the gap is the question.

    And the point was made above that the discovery of genetics supported Darwinian evolution. Actually, the it created a problem for evolution. The solution to the problem was mutations.

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  101. natschuster:

    "I listed a number of things that are qualities of the mind that are not qualities of matter. How to bridge the gap is the question."

    And Ritchie already addressed these. I was hoping you could come up with something better. You do understand what emergent properties are, don't you?

    "And the point was made above that the discovery of genetics supported Darwinian evolution. Actually, the it created a problem for evolution. The solution to the problem was mutations."

    If genetics created a problem for evolution, it was only because they didn't have a complete picture yet. Just because Darwin was wrong about "pangenesis" doesn't invalidate the theory of evolution any more than Mendel's ignorance of DNA invalidates any of his genetic principles.

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  102. Patrick:

    Has it ever been demonstrated that emergent properties can answer the problem? Have emergent properties ever been demonstrated to give matter qualities it doesn't have? I'm asking because I'm curious.

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  103. Cornelius, let me reply briefly:

    I endorse "ritchie" when that commenter points out that any assumptions of methodological naturalism, whether you consider those religious assumptions or philosophical assumptions, are shared by the rest of modern science. Therefore if there is a problem, it is all of science that is called into question. I note that when you described two different approaches, one of them creationism, you said that the creationist position was that "God used miracles in creating the world". As "the world" probably means the whole universe, I really don't know why you aren't out there calling astrophysics and geology into question. But for some reason you said the other position was "evolution", not physics, not astronomy, not geology.

    As for why I keep returning to the Penny et al. work, I think this is reasonable because

    * You brought it up originally in a
      post last June (not me)
    * It is in my specialty.
    * I thought it would be an excellent
       test case for your position.

    If Penny and co. are making religious presuppositions when they put forward a null hypothesis that is said to be what creationism or Design would predict, we can use this case to have you tell us what prediction they should instead attribute to creationism or Design. And if there is no prediction, that puts creationism and Design outside of science.

    Instead you keep saying Penny et al. are assuming random design, as in your SETI example. No, they aren't, as I explained, they assume random history, no signal of phylogeny. It's not at all the same thing. You are wrong, your SETI example does not answer the question.

    So I'm still waiting for the answer.

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  104. Joe:

    =========
    The particular case that would be most helpful (one of two I mentioned) was the test of common descent by David Penny and his coauthors in 1982. Cornelius had complained in a post here about the assumptions that Penny et al. had made in testing a creationist model. They had assumed that the creationist alternative to common descent would be that species shared no common evolutionary tree. Presumably this is an example of what Cornelius had in mind when (in another post) he argued that “the argument attacks design or creation using non scientific premises that a design or creation advocate would never recognize”

    [...]

    If Penny and co. are making religious presuppositions when they put forward a null hypothesis that is said to be what creationism or Design would predict, we can use this case to have you tell us what prediction they should instead attribute to creationism or Design. And if there is no prediction, that puts creationism and Design outside of science.

    Instead you keep saying Penny et al. are assuming random design, as in your SETI example. No, they aren't, as I explained, they assume random history, no signal of phylogeny. It's not at all the same thing.
    =========

    Before I respond I wanted to make sure I am understanding your point correctly. I'm not entirely clear on the distinction you are making:

    "Instead you keep saying Penny et al. are assuming random design, as in your SETI example. No, they aren't, as I explained, they assume random history, no signal of phylogeny."

    Can you elaborate on how you see these (random design versus random history) differing? Thanks,

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  105. Ritchie:

    ====
    The theory of evolution is a theory of biology which explains the diversity of life found in nature. Nothing more. It does not say anything at all about the existence of God,
    ====

    Who said it did?



    ====
    Because of this, many theists - who perhaps accept religious explainations for all we see in nature - have perceived this as a direct attack on God. Or less directly, as insults such as that 'God would not have willed or designed this world.'
    ====

    This isn't making a lot of sense. Perhaps some examples would hope (I can't think of any tradition or even individual who fits this description).



    ====
    Do you see the problem now?
    ====

    Well your example has little relevance to the issues we've been discussing...



    ====
    Your determination to undermine MN ...
    ====

    This would be unbelievable it weren't so common. Tell me, how is it that I'm attempting to undermine MN?

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  106. Cornelius Hunter -

    "[me] - You have smuggled in the presupposition that evidence of non-natural phenomenon exists

    [you] Actually I did not do that, but this is a typical response from evolutionists."

    I'm afraid you have. The question in the original post is just a thought experiment and bares little relevance on the ACTUAL credibility of the scientific method unless you can show non-natural phenomenon exists.

    =======

    "[me] The theory of evolution is a theory of biology which explains the diversity of life found in nature. Nothing more. It does not say anything at all about the existence of God,

    [you] Who said it did?"

    You did. I refer you back to your own comment: 'evolution's axiom is (put very simply, I've written extensively on this) that God would not have willed or designed this world, so natural law must be sufficient to explain its origin (including the species of course).' See also, 7.2 of darwinspredictions.com.

    This is all nonsense. Evolution says nothing at all about God or gods.

    ========

    "[me] Because of this, many theists - who perhaps accept religious explainations for all we see in nature - have perceived this as a direct attack on God. Or less directly, as insults such as that 'God would not have willed or designed this world.'

    [you] This isn't making a lot of sense. Perhaps some examples would hope (I can't think of any tradition or even individual who fits this description)."

    Well, just plucking an example at random, how about Lee Strobel, who in his book Case For A Creator claimed:

    "I knew intuitively what prominent evolutionary biologist and historian William Provine of Cornell University would spell out explicitly in a debate years later. If Darwinism is true, he said, then there are five inescapable conclusions:

    there's no evidence for God
    there's no life after death
    there's no absolute foundation for right and wrong
    there's no ultimate meaning for life
    people don't really have free will [p.16] "

    He profoundly misunderstands what science does, and in particular, what evolution is. He demands that his God is visible and then criticizes evolution for not providing the evidence he insists must be there.

    =======

    "[me]Do you see the problem now?

    [you] Well your example has little relevance to the issues we've been discussing..."

    Well not to put too fine a point on it, your views on evolution seem to be coloured by its relevance to God. Just like 'my' views on meteorology were coloured by their relevance to my God in my example.

    An example of this is the diagram you provide in 7.2 of darwinspredictions.com. It appears you have totally confused evolution with atheism, or at least, you equate the two. Most of the premises raised in the diagram (example, the problem of evil, against miracles, etc) have nothing whatsoever to do with evolution.

    I was wondering why you don't hold other scientific theories up to such scrutiny despite the fact that they are equally grounded in concepts such as MN and UF.

    =====

    "[me] Your determination to undermine MN ...

    [you] This would be unbelievable it weren't so common. Tell me, how is it that I'm attempting to undermine MN?"

    From the OP - "Clearly, methodological naturalism will fail if it attempts to explain a phenomenon that is not completely naturalistic..."

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  107. natschuster -

    "Has it ever been demonstrated that emergent properties can answer the problem? Have emergent properties ever been demonstrated to give matter qualities it doesn't have? I'm asking because I'm curious."

    What do you mean by 'properties matter doesn't have'?

    Life is a property matter has. Some matter anyway. The living things.

    Intelligence is a property matter has. Some matter - the intelligent things.

    Sentience is a property matter has. Some matter - the sentient things.

    What property is NOT a property matter has?

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  108. natschuster:

    "Has it ever been demonstrated that emergent properties can answer the problem? Have emergent properties ever been demonstrated to give matter qualities it doesn't have? I'm asking because I'm curious."

    Color, temperature, viscosity, to name just a few.

    If these can come from a small collection of simple molecules, why shouldn't we be surprised that something like consciousness can arise from the complex patterns which form in our brains?

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  109. Cornelius,

    ================================================
    How can we do science if the continuum of nature is violated by miracles? Why would an all-powerful creator create an inefficient, evil world?
    ================================================

    Does science not have limits? Can science learn everything? Obviously not. To assume that you can know everything through science is folly. If science can not prove that all creation came from natural laws then they can't say this is true. Assuming it true does not make it true.

    Why would God create an inefficient, evil world?
    How many universes have you created? How would you know how to make such a judgement. This also seems like more human folly. Nevertheless the creation of the human mind seems to me to be a divine creation. What natural law do you know of that could create such an entity? An entity which can explore the universe and appreciate the necessity of a divine creator. Don't forget all the beauty in life. What natural laws are responsible for this?

    The Bible described the origin of the universe thousands of years before science could even image such a thing. Many of the greatest scientists believed in an infinite universe as a null hypothesis. They were wrong and the Bible was right. The Bible describes a God that is continually active in our world, not a distant, machine like God. Perhaps the second law of thermodynamics necessatates God's intervetion to counter the natural tendancy to randomness.

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  110. Ritchie

    When you look at matter, there certain things it can do, and certain things it can't do. There are laws of physics that describe the properties of matter. I guess I should have said laws instead of properties. How do the laws that describe the behavior of matter allow them to come together to form a mind.

    Peter:

    All the things you described can be explain by tjhe behavior of individual molecules. Color by the movements of the electrons, viscosity by the way the molecules stick together, temperature by the way the molecules vibrate. All readily explanable by the known properties of individual molecules. I don't know how the behavior of individual molecules can explain the mind.

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  111. Cornelius asked:

      "Can you elaborate on how you see these
       (random design versus random history)
      differing?"

    Random design is (trying to) make (say) birds putting molecules together purely at random, pretty much what thermal noise would do. (Of course it doesn't work).

    Random history is quite different. A series of parallel lineages could each adapt by natural selection, and produce different birds. But if they did so independently, with the adaptations arising in one lineage generally not showing up in any other, they would then show no signal of common descent. But they would each be much better adapted than a pure noise process.

    So they are very different.

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  112. Joe:

    " any assumptions of methodological naturalism, whether you consider those religious assumptions or philosophical assumptions, are shared by the rest of modern science. Therefore if there is a problem, it is all of science that is called into question. "

    I'm afraid you can't blend into the crowd so easily. This evolutionary assertion is false. From Newton to SETI modern science does not enforce MN blinders.



    " If Penny and co. are making religious presuppositions when they put forward a null hypothesis that is said to be what creationism or Design would predict, we can use this case to have you tell us what prediction they should instead attribute to creationism or Design. And if there is no prediction, that puts creationism and Design outside of science. "

    How so? Does evolution predict the DNA code?



    " Instead you keep saying Penny et al. are assuming random design, as in your SETI example. No, they aren't, as I explained, they assume random history, no signal of phylogeny. "

    You are misreading the paper. Penny's null hypothesis follows the traditional evolutionary null hypothesis. The random design null hypothesis goes back centuries in evolutionary thought. In Bernoulli, Kant, Laplace, Darwin, and ever since it has been an important argument for evolution. It was nothing new in the 1982 Penny et al. work, they merely applied the concept to new data (ie, homologous protein sequences).

    The particular random design null hypothesis in the Penny work is that phylogenies based on different characters are statistically independent. The history behind the phylogenies is not relevant. This is metaphysical because the failure of the null hypothesis (not surprisingly) is taken as strong evidence for evolution. As Penny et al. conclude: "there is strong support from these five sequences for the theory of evolution." They can conclude this because they assume that *only* evolution can produce non random design relationships. If evolution is the only way that non random design relationships could arise, and we find non random design relationships, then it is strong evidence for evolution.

    But how do we know that is the only way that non random design relationships could arise? As evolutionist Mark Ridley, commenting on the Penny work, explains: "If the 11 species had independent origins, there is no reason why their homologies should be correlated. [...] If they were independently created, it would be very puzzling if they showed systematic, hierarchical similarity in functionally unrelated characteristics." This comes right out of 18th century evolutionary thought, but how do we know this to be true?

    In science we can construct hypotheses and associated predictions (If H, then P). But when we claim that only one hypothesis can explain an observation (If and only if H, then P), then we are making non scientific truth claims.

    (continued)

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  113. Joe:

    " It's not at all the same thing. You are wrong, your SETI example does not answer the question. "

    Actually it is the same thing, and that is what is so damning. The evolutionary argument that non random design relationships rule out independent origin and therefore mandate evolution has the same form as the argument that different music heard from a distant star mandates a naturalistic explanation because of the similar relationships between the music. The fact that you initially rejected this is a good example of how absurd evolution is. Of course we all know the music from the distant star should be explained by ETs rather than naturalistic processes. But evolutionary thinking violates this obvious conclusion. It says that the consistent patterns we find between the species designs means they could not be independently created.

    The typical evolutionary response is "there are reasons for there to be consistent patterns in the world of music, but not in the world of biology. The consistent patterns we find between species are not necessary." First, these patterns are not consistent -- they do not fit evolution's expectations, but reveal all kinds of interesting relationships. I think it is safe to say we really don't yet fully grasp the patterns amongst the species, and evolution certainly isn't helping much by force fitting everything into badly fitting phylogenies. And second, we certainly do not know that the patterns are not necessary.

    " So I'm still waiting for the answer. "

    I explained that design theory would predict rational relationships:

    darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/12/is-design-theory-scientific-case-study.html

    IOW, whereas evolution predicts the relationships between species are driven by historically contingencies, design predicts relationships between species are driven by rational considerations. IOW, rather than force fitting biological characters into a badly fitting phylogeny and leaving it at that, design theory would look for rational reasons for the design. The prediction is that as we learn more, we will discover reasons for these relationships.

    ReplyDelete
  114. natschuster -

    "When you look at matter, there certain things it can do, and certain things it can't do. There are laws of physics that describe the properties of matter. I guess I should have said laws instead of properties."

    Oh, okay. Fair enough.

    "How do the laws that describe the behavior of matter allow them to come together to form a mind"

    Simply put, we don't know yet. That's why we study these questions. But the fact that we don't know does not license us to make up our own answers.

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  115. Peter -

    "To assume that you can know everything through science is folly."

    The limit here is of human knowledge. Not the applicability of science. It does indeed seem 'folly' to say that an individual person can know everything. But I see no reason why everything cannot potentially be learnt through science.

    "Nevertheless the creation of the human mind seems to me to be a divine creation."

    Why, precisely?

    "What natural law do you know of that could create such an entity? An entity which can explore the universe and appreciate the necessity of a divine creator. Don't forget all the beauty in life. What natural laws are responsible for this?"

    Arguments from incredulity and ignorance...

    "The Bible described the origin of the universe thousands of years before science could even image such a thing. Many of the greatest scientists believed in an infinite universe as a null hypothesis. They were wrong and the Bible was right."

    Not even close to true on many levels...

    For one thing, to the best of our knowledge, the description of the origin of the universe given in the Bible is not at all accurate, unless you want to read it as poetic and take huge liberties with 'what it really meant to say'.

    For another, who exactly thought there was no origin at all to the universe? Most if not all religions have creation myths. And many religions predate Christianity and even Judaism. So the Bible (or the Torah as it originally was) was not even original in HAVING a creation myth.

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  116. Ritchie:


    ===================================
    "[me] - You have smuggled in the presupposition that evidence of non-natural phenomenon exists

    [you] Actually I did not do that, but this is a typical response from evolutionists."

    I'm afraid you have. The question in the original post is just a thought experiment ...
    ===================================

    No I have not. But rather than empty accusations, why don't you try explaining where this presuppostion lies. And to do this you'll need actually to stick to what I wrote rather than contriving strawmen.



    ===================================
    "[me] The theory of evolution is a theory of biology which explains the diversity of life found in nature. Nothing more. It does not say anything at all about the existence of God,

    [you] Who said it did?"

    You did. I refer you back to your own comment: 'evolution's axiom is (put very simply, I've written extensively on this) that God would not have willed or designed this world, ...

    [...]

    An example of this is the diagram you provide in 7.2 of darwinspredictions.com. It appears you have totally confused evolution with atheism, or at least, you equate the two.
    ===================================

    Yet another strawman. How is it that the argument that God would not have willed or designed this world derives from atheism?




    ===================================
    Most of the premises raised in the diagram (example, the problem of evil, against miracles, etc) have nothing whatsoever to do with evolution.

    See: www.darwinspredictions.com/Figure15.jpg
    ===================================

    Of course they do -- the denialism of evolutionists is astonishing. If there was one consensus point amongst evolutionists it is that evolution is a fact, and *everytime* that fact is proven non scientific claims are entailed. These arguments are crucial themes in evolutionary thought and it is hilarious that evolutionists then turn around and in the next moment deny any such thing. This reminds me of Claude Rains. Please watch this short clip -- it is the picture of evolutionary hypocrisy:

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gf8NK1WAOc



    ===================================
    This is all nonsense. Evolution says nothing at all about God or gods.
    ===================================

    Right, utter nonsense. Absolutely. Meanwhile evolution is predicated on the failure of creation. As Ridley says in arguing for evolution:

    "If the 11 species had independent origins, there is no reason why their homologies should be correlated. [...] If they were independently created, it would be very puzzling if they showed systematic, hierarchical similarity in functionally unrelated characteristics."

    These arguments run all through the evolution genre -- specifically in those places where evolution is proven to be a fact. See:

    darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/06/sober-rebukes-evolutions-religion.html



    ===================================
    "[me] Your determination to undermine MN ...

    [you] This would be unbelievable it weren't so common. Tell me, how is it that I'm attempting to undermine MN?"

    From the OP - "Clearly, methodological naturalism will fail if it attempts to explain a phenomenon that is not completely naturalistic..."
    ===================================

    Evolutionary thinking is truly amazing. It is an Alice in Wonderland world where everything is turned upside down. If you mention the *fact* that strictly naturalistic explanations will fail if they are used for non naturalistic phenomenon, then you are accused of attempting to undermine methodological naturalism.

    This pretzel logic is quite typical and it is a sign that evolution leads down a path that makes it difficult to engage intellectually in the issues.

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  117. Cornelius said:

    ====
    “You are misreading the paper.
    Penny's null hypothesis follows the traditional evolutionary null hypothesis. The random design null hypothesis goes back [snip lots of historical references]
    ===

    No. They did not assume “random design”

    In fact no one assumes random design, for the simple reason that it would not work at all. In the Jerry Coyne example of the giraffe recurrent laryngeal nerve, the nerve goes by a silly route but does get there, and does work. It is constrained by its route in the ancestor and the changes in the artery. But it is not random design. You are attacking a straw man.

    Penny et al. assume that there is no detectable signal of history (as their null hypothesis). But they do not assume that the changes in each lineage are towards random, nonfunctional, states.

    You have taken their assumption, of no historical correlation of evolutionary changes in the different lineages, and keep calling it “random design” You are wrong to do so. I've worked in the same area as those authors for over 40 years now, know those folks personally, and no, I am not misreading their paper, which has nothing to do with random design. It has to do with independence of changes in different lineages.

    To this you counterpose that “design theory would predict rational relationships” but you never make this real. Are rational relationships just a name for whatever we observe? Are they making a different prediction from what common descent would predict? As long as this alternative theory is not explained, we must suspect that it predicts everything, and predicts nothing, and is not scientific.

    As for your other points, that ETs are
    not MN, this is absurd: ET's are as natural as us (of course you don't consider us natural either). And no, evolution doesn't explain the origin of the genetic code. Evolution comes after that point. It doesn't explain the origin of galaxies either. I'd be happy to discuss Penny et al but am not interested in getting into a big discussion of whether human (or ET) minds are supernatural.

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  118. Joe:

    1. " And no, evolution doesn't explain the origin of the genetic code. " So if ID is unable to explain why species are designed the way they are, and the relationships between those designs (eg, what we see when we reconstruct phylogenies), then it does not qualify as science, as you have repeatedly charged. But if evolution, on the other hand, is unable to explain something, such as the genetic code, then that's OK. Double standards such as this are typical in the evolution genre. Your justification for evolution not explaining the genetic code is that " Evolution comes after that point. " So what? So evolution can sweep things under the rug but ID is responsible for explaining all things?

    2. Your justification for evolution not explaining the genetic code is yet another fallacy. There is, of course, substantial evolutionary literature that tries to explain how the code evolved. This, and other events early in the evolution life, are routinely included in evolution, everywhere from the popular literature to textbooks to journal papers. Indeed, the DNA code is routinely employed as powerful evidence for the fact of evolution! How can a design be routinely included in evolutionary theory, claimed as powerful evidence for evolution, and yet, when convenient, not part of evolution?

    3. In fact, evolution fails to explain any number of designs we find in biology. Even if your disavowing the genetic code was legitimate, there are myriad examples that come later in the history of life. If evolutionists are genuinely interested in rooting out non scientific thinking they should look in the mirror. By their *own standards* evolution fails. They argue ID fails as science because different outcomes are not distinguished (they are equiprobable). But this is a problem for evolution. For example, evolution does not distinguish different outcomes for the recurrent laryngeal nerve. When incredibly fantastic, mind boggling designs are found, they ascribe the wonder to natural selection. When similarities between species are found, they ascribe them to historical contingencies. The recurrent laryngeal nerve could trace any number of routes, as far as evolution is concerned.

    4. What about ID? You again remain conveniently uninformed in spite of my repeated explanations. You write:

    ===
    To this you counterpose that “design theory would predict rational relationships” but you never make this real. Are rational relationships just a name for whatever we observe? Are they making a different prediction from what common descent would predict? As long as this alternative theory is not explained, we must suspect that it predicts everything, and predicts nothing, and is not scientific.
    ===

    But I explained what "rational relationships" means. I explained that ID predicts there is a design reason for the incredibly complex set of differences and similarities we find between species. Rather than ascribing designs to happenstance, ID says that reasons will be discovered for designs. As an example, let's look at the recurrent laryngeal nerve. Whereas evolution ascribes its route as a consequence of historical contingency, ID predicts its route will be found to have a design reason. And of course, when such a reason is discovered evolution will simply ascribe it to natural selection, again demonstrating its mallueability. Of course we've seen this happen. Evolution's first idea tends to be that a design is happenstance (junk DNA, useless organs, etc) and then when ID's predicted design reasons are discovered evolution doesn't skip a beat.

    (continued)

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  119. 5. Your assessment of the recurrent laryngeal nerve route is yet another fallacy. You describe it as silly:

    ===
    In the Jerry Coyne example of the giraffe recurrent laryngeal nerve, the nerve goes by a silly route but does get there, and does work. It is constrained by its route in the ancestor and the changes in the artery.
    ===

    But there is no biological reason to think it is "silly." Indeed, the recurrent laryngeal nerve has many branches and filaments interacting with the esophagus, cardiac plexus, mucous membrane, etc. I'm not claiming to understand the design, and perhaps it is silly, but we don't know that to be the case. In fact, the idea that it is silly is a consequence of evolutionary thinking. Yes, if evolution is true, then the route is probably silly. But calling it silly and therefore evidence for evolution is begging the question.

    6. Yet another fallacy is your accusation that I'm attacking a strawman version of this recurrent laryngeal nerve evidence. You say: "But it is not random design. You are attacking a straw man." But I never made any such statement. How can I be attacking a strawman that I never created and never attacked? In accusing me of attacking a strawman you have attacked a strawman.

    7. This strawman of yours is particularly bizarre since in my discussion of the recurrent laryngeal nerve I say nothing about random design. Furthermore, where I do discuss the random design null hypothesis I explain what it means. In the case of the Penny et al. work, it means random design relationships, as I explained. Yet you describe my interpretation of Penny as testing the hypothesis that organisms the result of "putting molecules together purely at random." Now that is silly. Do evolutionists say that evolution is true because organisms are not the results of a mish-mash of molecules? That's absurd and I of course never ascribed any such thing to evolutionists.

    8. What *is* important about the Penny work, and this evolutionary argument in general, is that a negative evidence (or at best a meaningless evidence) is being foisted on us as powerful positive evidence. Non scientists need to understand this yet evolutionists, such as yourself, seem to be working hard at remaining conveniently naive of this key point, and instead you defend this type of reasoning and evolutionary argument. This leaves it up to a few people to try to explain this to people while evolutionists like you add your name and authority to the lie that this is powerful evidence.

    9. You have argued that predictions are a prerequisite for genuine science, but in doing so you render SETI as non science. If you contrive an argument to let SETI in the door, how can you shut it fast enough to keep ID out?

    10. You introduce yet another strawman regarding SETI. You write:

    ===
    As for your other points, that ETs are not MN, this is absurd: ET's are as natural as us (of course you don't consider us natural either).
    ===

    I said nothing about ETs being natural or supernatural, MN or not MN, evolved or created, green or blue, etc. This is another contrived strawman to avoid another failed point. The obvious point you seem to be avoiding is that SETI and ID share the same relationship to MN. If you attempt to dismiss ID as not in accord with MN, then you also dismiss SETI. If you say SETI passes the MN test, then you also give ID a pass. You cannot blackball one without blackballing the other. You cannot let one in without letting the other in. Strawmen arguments won't help.

    ReplyDelete
  120. Cornelius -

    "But rather than empty accusations, why don't you try explaining where this presuppostion lies. And to do this you'll need actually to stick to what I wrote rather than contriving strawmen."

    From the OP of this thread:

    "There remains the question of what to do when methodological naturalism doesn't work.Clearly, methodological naturalism will fail if it attempts to explain a phenomenon that is not completely naturalistic."

    Isn't it blindingly obvious?

    Suppose I say: 'If I let go of a brick and it float up into the air, the theory of gravity could not account for that!' and conclude that the theory of gravity is flawed, then I have smuggled in the assumption that if I let go of a brick it has, or could, float up. In fact, my assertion is flawed because that does not happen.

    So when you say 'methodological naturalism will fail if it attempts to explain a phenomenon that is not completely naturalistic' this statement is similarly flawed, because there exists no such phenomenon (to our knowledge. If you know better, please enlighten us).

    ========

    "Yet another strawman. How is it that the argument that God would not have willed or designed this world derives from atheism?"

    You state that 'If evolution is to qualify as a scientific fact it will need to do more than claim that if there are enough universes in the multiverse then evolution, though unlikely, is bound to happen.'

    The fact that you think evolution is propped up the the multi-universe theory, or by any of the theories/arguments in the diagram at darwinspredictions.com is particularly odd. Evolution rests on none of these theories/arguments. It stands on its own merit as a scientific theory because of the vast amount of data it explains. As Theodosius Dobzhansky said, nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution.

    However, these theories and arguments ARE often brought out whenever the existence of God is the subject of debate - as is the theory of evolution. Atheists often point to evolution to counter creationist claims that God is necessary to explain the diversity of life.

    But that does not mean everyone who accepts evolution is an atheist. Theodosius Dobzhansky himself was a theist, yet one who criticised anti-evolution creationism. SO your claim that 'evolution's axiom is ... that God would not have willed or designed this world' is simply wrong, and seems to spring from you melding 'evolutionists' and atheists together.

    If I'm wrong, how about you support this highly dubious claim that evolution is based on the multi-universe theory, or any theistic argument from your diagram.

    ========

    "the denialism of evolutionists is astonishing. If there was one consensus point amongst evolutionists it is that evolution is a fact, and *everytime* that fact is proven non scientific claims are entailed. These arguments are crucial themes in evolutionary thought and it is hilarious that evolutionists then turn around and in the next moment deny any such thing."

    You only perceive such 'hypocrisy' because you confuse evolutionists and atheists and they they are the same arguments. See previous response.

    ========

    "Meanwhile evolution is predicated on the failure of creation."

    It is not. This is a fallacy you seem to have suggested several times, and seems you genuinely think that evolution is not based on facts, data, evidence, and lots of it. I can assure you that it is. Evolution is one of the most thoroughly supported theories in the whole of science.

    You are accusing it of merely claiming validation on the failure of a rival theory? Not only is this untrue, but it is a wonderfully accurate portrayal of what Intelligent Design does - THERE is a theory which has no backing evidence and merely claims validation from seeking to defame a competing theory - a highly unscientific approach, I hope you'd agree.

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  121. "If you mention the *fact* that strictly naturalistic explanations will fail if they are used for non naturalistic phenomenon, then you are accused of attempting to undermine methodological naturalism."

    Ummmm... yes!!

    I honestly don't understand how you fail to see the logic here.

    You are claiming MN is flawed, when if fact the flaw in your reasoning is that there is no non-natural phenomenon. That is to say, you need to establish that there IS some before you can reach your conclusions.

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  122. Ritchie:

    Evolutionists mandate MN but they don't explain exactly what this means. The reason why we do science is because we don't have all the answers. If we had all the answers then there would be no reason for science. MN places a constraint on the answers which we do not yet have. In so doing, something is lost. You either lose objectivity by assuming that reality conforms to your constraint, or you lose any guarantee of completeness by limiting science to those phenomena within your constraint, or you lose any guarantee of realism by forcing a constraint that excludes explanations which could be true.

    Of course you could get lucky. It could be that reality conforms to your constraint and that you have not excluded any true answers. In our case, if all of reality is strictly naturalistic then MN is a good mandate. But we don't know that right now. So the question for evolutionists who mandate MN is: what do we forfeit, objectivity, a guarantee of completeness, or a guarantee of realism?

    Now in all of this there is no "presupposition that evidence of non-natural phenomenon exists" as you have claimed. In asking about the MN mandate, no one is saying anything about the current state of the evidence. But you say:

    ================
    Isn't it blindingly obvious?

    Suppose I say: 'If I let go of a brick and it float up into the air, the theory of gravity could not account for that!' and conclude that the theory of gravity is flawed, then I have smuggled in the assumption that if I let go of a brick it has, or could, float up. In fact, my assertion is flawed because that does not happen.

    So when you say 'methodological naturalism will fail if it attempts to explain a phenomenon that is not completely naturalistic' this statement is similarly flawed, because there exists no such phenomenon (to our knowledge. If you know better, please enlighten us).
    ================

    No it isn't blindingly obvious. For no such claim is being made. These questions were well understood four centuries ago when thinkers seriously engaged such questions about how science should work. Bacon and Descartes worked through these issues and explained their positions -- something that we cannot expect from evolutionists today. Evolution is not only bad for science, it is also bad for the philosophy of science. Consider your response. You say :

    ================
    So when you say 'methodological naturalism will fail if it attempts to explain a phenomenon that is not completely naturalistic' this statement is similarly flawed, because there exists no such phenomenon (to our knowledge. If you know better, please enlighten us).
    ================

    But the flaw you think you have detected is not there. The statement you quote is independent of our current knowledge so your objection is irrelevant. Regardless of what we know of the existence of such phenomena, MN will still fail if it attempts to explain a phenomenon that is not completely naturalistic. Unfortunately such confusion is standard form for evolutionists. They cannot answer the straightforward question.

    ReplyDelete
  123. Ritchie:

    It is hilarious how evolutionists expose their religious beliefs while denying any such thing. You write:

    ===========
    The fact that you think evolution is propped up the the multi-universe theory, or by any of the theories/arguments in the diagram at darwinspredictions.com [www.darwinspredictions.com/Figure15.jpg] is particularly odd. Evolution rests on none of these theories/arguments. It stands on its own merit as a scientific theory because of the vast amount of data it explains. As Theodosius Dobzhansky said, nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution.
    ===========

    So evolutionists make no religious claims, except that "nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution." Unbelievable.

    "Nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution" IS a religious claim. "Nothing makes sense" means that all other theories fail, except evolution. Dobzhansky wrote a paper on this which reads like a church sermon, making all kinds of religious claims about God. You write: "If I'm wrong, how about you support this highly dubious claim that evolution is based on the multi-universe theory, or any theistic argument from your diagram."

    Highly dubious? Try reading the evolution literature. I've written three books on this, but if you want something quicker, just read the Dobzhansky paper you reference. And again, please watch this short clip -- it is the picture of evolutionary hypocrisy:

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gf8NK1WAOc

    ReplyDelete
  124. Cornelius -

    "Evolutionists mandate MN..."

    No, not 'evolutionists' - scientists!!

    MN is a key assumption of science. The whole of science. Every theory in it. Which yes, does INCLUDE the theory of evolution. But is not EXCLUSIVE to it.

    If you are putting yourself against MN, then you are putting yourself against the whole of science, not just evolution.

    "The reason why we do science is because we don't have all the answers. If we had all the answers then there would be no reason for science."

    Quite so.

    "You either lose objectivity by assuming that reality conforms to your constraint, or you lose any guarantee of completeness by limiting science to those phenomena within your constraint, or you lose any guarantee of realism by forcing a constraint that excludes explanations which could be true."

    Perhaps so. But again, this is a criticism which you must level at the whole of science equally, not use to zero in on evolution. You are not just criticizing evolution - you are criticizing science. And if you have a better method of understanding and making sense of the world around us than the scientific method, I should like to hear it.

    "In our case, if all of reality is strictly naturalistic then MN is a good mandate. But we don't know that right now."

    Do we have reason to doubt it?

    "So the question for evolutionists who mandate MN is: what do we forfeit, objectivity, a guarantee of completeness, or a guarantee of realism?"

    Again, not 'evolutionists' - scientists!

    "It is hilarious how evolutionists expose their religious beliefs while denying any such thing."

    Ironic. I was thinking much the same about you, actually...

    "So evolutionists make no religious claims..."

    Yes!! Yes, that is absolutely correct. In as much as 'evolutionists' are people who will generally have their personal religious views. But the theory of evolution mandates absolutely no religious standpoint whatsoever. This is demonstrated in the variety in religious affiliation of people who accept evolution as fact - atheists and religious people of every stripe.

    The theory of evolution is a scientific theory (and a good one at that), not a religious belief, and it makes no religious claims, nevermind what you personally find 'unbelievable'.

    "...except that "nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution....'Nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution' IS a religious claim."

    What?! How so?

    "Dobzhansky wrote a paper on this which reads like a church sermon, making all kinds of religious claims about God."

    Assuming, as I am happy to, that this is true, is it HIM making the religious claims, or does the theory of evolution necessitate these claims? Can you even differentiate between the two? I understand that Dobzhansky took a very staunch stance against anti-evolution reasoning, and also that he was himself a theist. Therefore I would expect his writings to refer to theism quite a bit. But again, this does not mean that evolution itself has anything at all to say on the subject of God.

    Two people could argue over whether the theory of gravity necessitates, excludes or accommodates a God. That does not mean the theory of gravity itself has anything to say on the subject.

    "Highly dubious? Try reading the evolution literature."

    I have. And I am still at a loss to how you conclude that evolution is supported by the multi-universe theory.

    I think you are very confused.

    "And again, please watch this short clip -- it is the picture of evolutionary hypocrisy:"

    I did watch it. And amusing as it is, it is a clip from Casablanca... You cannot possibly mean this as anything other than a metaphor. In which case, I think it is an entirely inaccurate one.

    ReplyDelete
  125. Ritchie:

    ======
    "Dobzhansky wrote a paper on this which reads like a church sermon, making all kinds of religious claims about God."

    Assuming, as I am happy to, that this is true, is it HIM making the religious claims, or does the theory of evolution necessitate these claims?
    ======

    The theory of evolution entails these claims. See *Science's Blind Spot*.

    ReplyDelete
  126. Could you possibly give me a brief overview of the religious claims you think evolution makes and/or necessitates?

    ReplyDelete
  127. Ritchie:

    "Could you possibly give me a brief overview of the religious claims you think evolution makes and/or necessitates?"

    Well here are several links you can scan. Sober's PNAS paper from earlier this year might be a good place to start. It is referenced in the first couple links below.

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/07/evolutionist-is-shocked-shocked-to-find.html
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/06/sober-rebukes-evolutions-religion.html
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/07/is-jerry-coyne-liar-or-just-in-denial.html
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/07/sermon-by-jerry-coyne-on-biogeography.html
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/06/evolutions-religion-revealed.html
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/12/richard-lenski-on-fact-of-evolution.html
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/11/special-creation-false-your-tax-dollars.html
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/10/inherit-myth.html
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/10/richard-dawkins-and-recurrent-laryngeal.html
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/06/nt-wright-articulates-evolutions.html
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/10/stuart-newman-and-evolutions.html
    http://www.darwinspredictions.com/#_6_The_fact

    ReplyDelete
  128. Cornelius -

    Thank you for being thorough. But you are indeed very seriously mistaken on several points.

    For one thing, you seem to be of the opinion that evolution operates by nothing more than setting itself up as an alternative to Creationism (or 'design), and then seeking to falsify Creationism in order to 'win' by default - by being the 'last theory standing'.

    This is gob-smacking. For one thing, the theory of evolution is supported by evidence - lots of it. It stands entirely on its own, backed by vast amounts of solid data, repeatable experiments and verifiable observations.

    Amusingly, it is Intelligent Design which plays this 'last theory standing' game. I have mentioned several times that design theory makes no predictions and is therefore not testable. In short, it is not science. One could use it to explain ANYTHING they could potentially observe in nature. So THIS is the theory which is unsupported by evidence of its own.

    You routinely quote scientists who are arguing for evolution against creationism or scientists who were themselves theists and seem to conclude that this is all evolution is based on - opposition to divine creation. This is the first huge monumental flaw in your understanding.

    Another is the logic by which you arrive at the conclusion that evolution is a religious theory (or at least, makes religious claims). As far as I can make out, it goes thus:

    'Evolution can only define itself through opposition to creationism. It sees biological features and says 'they are unlikely to have been made by design, therefore they were made by evolution'. But in saying this, they are stating what is and what is not likely to have been created through design. They cannot possibly know this. How do they know what features design would create? Saying 'such and such is unlikely through design' is to make a religious statement. Therefore, evolution is based on religious opinions.'

    Please correct me if this is an inaccurate portrayal of your views.

    Lets follow this logic - every time we see a feature, not matter how useful or useless, no matter how vital or trivial, no matter how advantageous or disadvantageous, we cannot ever say that design would NOT have created it - that would be a religious statement. So unless we want to committ the egregious error of making a religious claim, we must allow for the POSSIBILITY that design is a possible explaination for this feature.

    But that was never the flaw in design theory. The flaw was precisely that it can explain ANY POSSIBLE feature. That is it's weakness. If it accounts for anything, then it explains nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  129. Allow me to draw a parrellel - in every experiment we perform, in every observation we see, perhaps we should allow for the possibility that it is a miracle. We cannot know how frequent miracles are. We cannot know where or when they will occur. And they can, by definition, cause ANYTHING to happen.

    So no experiment can ever prove for certain that miracles will not happen, because the result of any experiment might itself be a miracle. Maybe every event in every day in every person's life is a miracle - a small violation of whatever natural laws are in place. But if we are to allow for this possibility, then we are incapable of doing science because we cannot trust our own results.

    As rational people who want to progress we must, in a sense, assume the world is natural and constant, and miracles do not happen. Let's run with that assumption and see how far we get. And we have. We call it science. And it is amazingly productive. And the very fact that it has been so productive rather suggests that its initial assumptions are in fact true.

    In exactly the same logic, if we must constantly allow for the possibility that any feature we see in nature whatsoever might be the unique and original work of some great designer, then we can never perform science. Biology as a science would simply cease. We have to assume miracles do not happen and see how far we get. Again, under this assumption biology has been amazingly productive. What are we to deduce from this?

    Reserving the right to call 'designed' whenever you see a feature which takes your fancy is like reserving the right to call 'miracle' when witnessing any event you similarly think suits.

    And again, it is not that science can disprove such things as miracles and designed features. They are, by nature, unfalsifiable. And yes, perhaps miracles and designed features DO exist in the world. But we have no reason to think so. And assumping that they don't has been fantastically productive thus far.

    And that does not make science in general, and evolution in particular, religious ideas, theories or assertions. They are simply based on the premise that the universe is built on constant, natural laws.

    Do you want to call this premise religious? Perhaps you do. Perhaps so you can conclude that both sides of the evolution/design dabate are built on religion and are therefore equally plausible (or implausible) and are to an equal degree positions of faith.

    But this is to ignore that the fact that there is nothing at but faith on the side of miracles/design. The side of science/evolution has mountains of data, facts, oberservations, predictions and inventions built upon its discoveries to attest to the truth of them.

    ReplyDelete
  130. Ritchie:



    "For one thing, you seem to be of the opinion that evolution operates by nothing more than setting itself up as an alternative to Creationism ..."

    My opinion? All I have done is repeat what evolutionists say.



    "This is gob-smacking."

    What is it about the Sober PNAS paper that you disagree with? This is not my opinion, this is a peer-reviewed paper in a leading journal by a leading evolutionary thinker. Please be specific. If you don't want to read a journal paper, then read Jerry Coyne's book, Why Evolution is True. It is a good, recent, example of the evolution genre.



    "For one thing, the theory of evolution is supported by evidence - lots of it. It stands entirely on its own, backed by vast amounts of solid data, repeatable experiments and verifiable observations."

    So is geocentrism and the flat earth theory. Last time you tried to show evidence for evolution you presented a list of false claims, and then later admitted you are not a scientist. I'm not saying one need be a scientist to evaluate a theory, but you need to have a reasonable level of interest and ability in objectively analyzing and evaluating the evidence. These statements you are making are absurd.



    "Amusingly, it is Intelligent Design which plays this 'last theory standing' game. I have mentioned several times that design theory makes no predictions and is therefore not testable. In short, it is not science. One could use it to explain ANYTHING they could potentially observe in nature. So THIS is the theory which is unsupported by evidence of its own."

    How is that relevant?



    "You routinely quote scientists who are arguing for evolution against creationism or scientists who were themselves theists and seem to conclude that this is all evolution is based on - opposition to divine creation. This is the first huge monumental flaw in your understanding."

    I see, so evolutionists can base their theory on metaphysical claims but we should just ignore all that and accept the evolutionist's pronouncement that their ridiculuous theory is a fact. Years ago I learned about myths and legends that various people believed in the past. I didn't understand why intelligent people would believe in such nonsense. It still doesn't make much sense, but it helps to have real examples before my very eyes. In this case, the myth is that evolution is a fact.

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  131. Ritchie:



    =========
    Another is the logic by which you arrive at the conclusion that evolution is a religious theory (or at least, makes religious claims). As far as I can make out, it goes thus: 'Evolution can only define itself through opposition to creationism. It sees biological features and says 'they are unlikely to have been made by design, therefore they were made by evolution'. But in saying this, they are stating what is and what is not likely to have been created through design. They cannot possibly know this. How do they know what features design would create? Saying 'such and such is unlikely through design' is to make a religious statement. Therefore, evolution is based on religious opinions.' Please correct me if this is an inaccurate portrayal of your views.
    =========

    I wouldn't have needed to write three books if it were this simple. It is more complicated, but this is going in the right direction. First off, though, the point is not that evolution "can only define itself" this way. The point is merely that evolution is a consequence of a web of traditions, centered around the 18th c. Enlightenment years but going back a century before and continuing long after, which included the failure of divine creation.


    ==========
    Lets follow this logic - every time we see a feature, not matter how useful or useless, no matter how vital or trivial, no matter how advantageous or disadvantageous, we cannot ever say that design would NOT have created it - that would be a religious statement.
    ==========

    You really don't realize the metaphysics you are soaking in. Like the fish that doesn't know it is in water, evolutionists are so ensconsed in their beliefs they are oblivious to them. They are literally soaking in it. Please see this short video to understand evolutionary theory:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bEkq7JCbik

    You wonder about evaluating a design as to how useful it is, vital or trivial it is, or advantageous it is. These are all metaphysical quantities. Useful for what? Vital or advantegeous for what? These can only be evaluated against ideals or standards, which science cannot specify. So *yes*, these are religious or metaphysical statements, in which evolutionists engage all the time

    The hypocrisy of evolution is amazing. They mandate strict naturalism and then smuggle in all manner of metaphysical claims, and that's supposed to be OK.

    ReplyDelete
  132. Let me start responding to your latest rebuttal with the matter of “random design”

    You said when I rejected the notion that anyone is assuming it, and that it was therefore a straw man, that this in turn is a straw man, and that when you use the phrase “random design“ you define it:

    ===============
    "6. Yet another fallacy is your accusation that I'm attacking a strawman version of this recurrent laryngeal nerve evidence. You say: "But it is not random design. You are attacking a straw man." But I never made any such statement. How can I be attacking a strawman that I never created and never attacked? In accusing me of attacking a strawman you have attacked a strawman.

    7. This strawman of yours is particularly bizarre since in my discussion of the recurrent laryngeal nerve I say nothing about random design. Furthermore, where I do discuss the random design null hypothesis I explain what it means. In the case of the Penny et al. work, it means random design relationships, as I explained. Yet you describe my interpretation of Penny as testing the hypothesis that organisms the result of "putting molecules together purely at random." Now that is silly. Do evolutionists say that evolution is true because organisms are not the results of a mish-mash of molecules? That's absurd and I of course never ascribed any such thing to evolutionists.
    =================

    OK. Let's take a look at what you said in your post on Penny's argument, and see you explaining what "random design" means. Recall that Penny et al. used a null hypothesis that each organism evolved separately with independent changes in each lineage.

    Here is what you said on June 12:

    =================
    “Penny responded with the classic random-design-as-null-hypothesis argument which dates back to the eighteenth century when it was introduced by Daniel Bernoulli, and elaborated by Immanuel Kant and Pierre Laplace.

    Thats quite a trio and the argument, though it is deeply theological (simply put, it claims God would not create patterns in nature), soon became standard fare in science. And the argument had the virtue of sounding scientific when carefully restated. As Penny declared:

    “Clearly we can reject any idea that the trees from the different sequences are independent.”


    Independent? What does that mean? ...”
    ==================

    What I see there is that you are clearly not saying that random design is a synonym for independent changes in each lineage, and in fact you do not understand the word “independent” in their argument.

    Instead you use the phrase “random design” and equate it to God not creating patterns in nature. I had not been aware that Bernoulli, Kant, and Laplace were discussing random change in independent lineages. And I'm still not.

    Could one figure out what Penny et al. did from that? Not likely. That kind of precision we could do without.

    The Penny et al. paper tries to see whether there is evidence for common descent by looking to see whether there is nonrandom similarity of trees at different loci (there is, lots). They therefore use a null hypothesis of independent evolution in different lineages.

    You characterize this as meaningless. It isn't. It answers the question by using a relevant null hypothesis. And one which it is wildly inappropriate to call “random design” and which you did not explain with precision. Or even semi-clearly.

    ReplyDelete
  133. Cornelius -

    "What is it about the Sober PNAS paper that you disagree with? This is not my opinion, this is a peer-reviewed paper in a leading journal by a leading evolutionary thinker. Please be specific."

    You are quoting me out of context. I never said I disagreed with the paper. I haven't even read it yet. I disagree with the links you cited, but they all link to blog posts you yourself have written.

    "- It stands entirely on its own, backed by vast amounts of solid data, repeatable experiments and verifiable observations.

    - So is geocentrism and the flat earth theory."

    Evidence (and more) which is much better explained by heliocentrism and the spherical-Earth theory.

    Do you have a theory which better explains all the evidence evolution accounts for? Intelligent Design cannot be it. Because it is not a scientific theory.

    "Last time you tried to show evidence for evolution you presented a list of false claims, and then later admitted you are not a scientist."

    I have no formal qualifications in science, but I am keenly interested in biology in general and the evolution/Intelligent Design debate in particular, and believe I have a reasonable understanding of the scientific method. If you're going to play the 'Shut up - I'm a scientist and you're not' card then I suppose there's not a lot I can say. Except perhaps that you hardly made a convincing job of dispelling my list of 'false claims'.

    Given the fact that you have made comical assertions such as evolution is underpinned by the multi-universe theory, or that the work of Gregor Mendel somehow falsifies Darwin's own, I cannot take your opinions of evolution as impartial, or frankly in the slightest bit accurate.

    "- Amusingly, it is Intelligent Design which plays this 'last theory standing' game...

    - How is that relevant?"

    Just another example of how Intelligent Design so fundamentally fails as a scientific theory.

    "I see, so evolutionists can base their theory on metaphysical claims but we should just ignore all that and accept the evolutionist's pronouncement that their ridiculuous theory is a fact."

    Not 'evolutionists' - SCIENTISTS!!

    You are criticizing 'evolutionists' for making these fundamental metaphysical claims, but they are the very fundamental metaphysical claims of all of science! The theory of evolution is no more to be faulted by these fundamental metaphysical claims than any other theory science has ever produced.

    Yet you keep singling the theory of evolution out and criticizing it for acting within the same perameters science sets for all theories. Why?

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  134. "The point is merely that evolution is a consequence of a web of traditions, centered around the 18th c. Enlightenment years but going back a century before and continuing long after, which included the failure of divine creation."

    Where does evidence slot in here?

    "You wonder about evaluating a design as to how useful it is, vital or trivial it is, or advantageous it is. These are all metaphysical quantities. Useful for what? Vital or advantegeous for what?"

    That is totally not the point I was making. But if you are getting hung up on it, read the paragraph again, and substitute:

    "Lets follow this logic - every time we see a feature, not matter how useful or useless, no matter how vital or trivial, no matter how advantageous or disadvantageous..."

    with:

    "Lets follow this logic - every time we see a feature, no matter how big or small..."

    "The hypocrisy of evolution is amazing. They mandate strict naturalism and then smuggle in all manner of metaphysical claims, and that's supposed to be OK."

    NOT EVOLUTION - SCIENCE!

    Seriously, I cannot see how you keep failing to grasp this very simple point.

    Yes, science may set out some metaphysical perameters for its theories. And evolution behaves exactly as every other theory of science does.

    That is because... it is a scientific theory!

    Yet you keep trying to make it sound like evolution is alone and unusual in making metaphysical claims - claims which may be flawed which therefore undermines the reliability of evolution.

    This is totally confused at best and duplicitous at worst. Evolution is no more guilty of making these 'metaphysical claims' than any other scientific theory - indeed, no more than any scientific theory should ever ideally be.

    ReplyDelete
  135. Cornelius Hunter --

    Let me respond briefly on the genetic code, which is a side issue in our discussion.

    You had brought it up. In response to my statement that

    ==================
    “... if there is no prediction, that puts
    creationism and Design outside of science. "”
    ==================

    you responded

    ==================
    “How so? Does evolution predict the DNA code?”
    ==================

    You later replied to me by saying

    =================
    1. ... Your justification for evolution not explaining
    the genetic code is that " Evolution comes after that point. "
    ...
    2. Your justification for evolution not explaining the genetic code is yet another fallacy. There is, of course, substantial evolutionary literature that tries to explain how the code evolved. This, and other events early in the evolution life, are routinely included in evolution, everywhere from the popular literature to textbooks to journal papers. Indeed, the DNA code is routinely employed as powerful evidence for the fact of evolution! How can a design be routinely included in evolutionary theory, claimed as powerful evidence for evolution, and yet, when convenient, not part of evolution?
    =================

    A distinction has to be made between the origin of the genetic code and its subsequent evolution. The origin is way back near the “RNA world”, or whatever preceded DNA if you don't think there was an RNA world. My statement referred to the origin of the universal code, not to its subsequent evolution.

    The subsequent changes and lack of changes in the code are what most of the evolutionary literature is about. And they show that the code is very resistant to change (as predicted by the fact that any change would simultaneously change the sequences of tens of thousands of proteins). But it is not the only possible code, as shown by the fact that it does change. However most of these alternate codes are in mitochondria, which is telling: the changes in mitochondria affect only a few proteins each.

    Here is a good discussion of the subsequent evolution of the genetic code.

    I ought to ask you what prediction ID or creationism makes about the genetic code, but as they make no predictions about anything, there is no point asking. Anyway our main discussion is about the Penny paper.

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  136. Prof Felsenstein

    (I wish these comments were numbered for easier reference. Is that possible Cornelius?)

    Thank you for your thoughtful posts. You certainly have elevated the discussion here.

    ====================================
    I ought to ask you what prediction ID or creationism makes about the genetic code, but as they make no predictions about anything, there is no point asking.
    ====================================

    Creationism could predict that there will be no natural mechanism to explain the origin of the first life forms or the radiations found in the fossil record (Cambrian explosion, flowers, humans, etc). ID is more descriptive then predictive. So far creationism is supported by the science. The astronomical improbabilities for such origins far exceeds the time since the beginning of the universe for such life to come about by natural chemical reactions. Origin of life researchers now confess that they may never now how first life came about. They are confirming creationism every year. If they are not able to find the natural mechanism for the origin of life in the next 200 years (they have been at it for the last forty years) then I would say the debate would be settled. As scientists find more and more complexity in life the tendency is to support creationism

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  137. Peter --

    ===========
    Creationism could predict that there will be no natural mechanism to explain the origin of the first life forms or the radiations found in the fossil record (Cambrian explosion, flowers, humans, etc).
    ===========

    That seems a non-prediction, as you can never tell when an explanation may be found. It is like Cornelius Hunter's statement that a design explanation could some day be found for the giraffe recurrent laryngeal nerve.

    ==============
    ID is more descriptive then predictive.
    ==============

    So no predictions there, I guess.


    ==================
    So far creationism is supported by the science.
    ==================

    Not the Young Earth variety, see any geologist or astronomer. And there really is *lots* of evidence for common descent, which would seem to contradict the more literal varieties of creationism.

    ==================
    Origin of life researchers now confess that they may never now how first life came about. They are confirming creationism every year. If they are not able to find the natural mechanism for the origin of life in the next 200 years (they have been at it for the last forty years) then I would say the debate would be settled.
    ==================

    That is like saying that since we may never know who fired the first shot at the Battle of Lexington (in the American War of Independence) that we can conclude that no one fired that shot, or that some supernatural entity did. Not a good way to argue.

    ====================
    As scientists find more and more complexity in life the tendency is to support creationism.
    ====================

    Not as long as we have a mechanism -- natural selection -- which can create such information.

    ==================
    Thank you for your thoughtful posts. You certainly have elevated the discussion here.
    ==================

    I am delighted that you have changed your mind. In the comments on an earlier thread ("Is Design Theory Scientific? A Case Study") you said:

    ==================
    An old adage says that you can judge a person by the company he keeps. Felsenstein I think is quite at home with the intellectual light weights at Panda's thumb.
    ==================

    In my reply on that thread I also asked you a question:

    ==================
    I would be interested to know how you think design theory detects design.
    ==================

    Do you reply on William Dembski's Design Inference and his Law Of Conservation of Complex Specified Information? I have argued
    here that his arguments are invalid. What is wrong with my argument?

    ReplyDelete
  138. Peter:

    Sorry, a typo in the last sentence of my previous comment: I should have typed:

    "Do you rely on William Dembski's ..."

    ReplyDelete
  139. Joe:

    ============
    OK. Let's take a look at what you said in your post on Penny's argument, and see you explaining what "random design" means. Recall that Penny et al. used a null hypothesis that each organism evolved separately with independent changes in each lineage.

    Here is what you said on June 12:

    [ ... ]

    Could one figure out what Penny et al. did from that? Not likely. That kind of precision we could do without.
    ============

    My post that you reference is from June 2, not June 12. It is here:

    darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/06/david-penny-religion-can-be-subtle.html

    In that post I explain that the random design null hypothesis is that God would not create patterns in nature. I quote the Penny et al. paper where they conclude that similarities between different gene phylogenies means that the phylogenies are not "independent." What significance does that hold for Penny and the evolutionists? I explain that the evolutionary interpretation of such patterns in nature is deeply metaphysical, and I give links to my book and website for further details.

    www.darwinspredictions.com/#_6.1_The_process

    As the website explains, 18th c. thinkers such as Bernoulli, Kant and Laplace used random design as the null hypothesis for a strictly naturalistic origin of the solar system. As Kant wrote:

    " It is clear that there is no reason why the celestial bodies must organize their orbits in one single direction. … Thus, God’s choice, not having the slightest motive for tying them to one single arrangement, would reveal itself with a greater freedom in all sorts of deviations and differences. "

    IOW, since the planets are aligned in a pattern, we know God did not design the solar system so it must have evolved. This is an important tradition in evolutionary thought and is used as powerful evidence for biological evolution by Darwin and later evolutionists. As Darwin rhetorically asked:

    " Why should not Nature take a sudden leap from structure to structure? [...] We never find the bones of the arm and forearm, or of the thigh and leg, transposed. "

    IOW, it is random design or evolution, take your choice. In my book I reference contemporary evolutionists, illustrating the continued use of this argument. For example, for Niles Eldredge the pattern of design amongst the species rules out design. "Could the single artisan," asks Eldredge rhetorically, "who has no one but himself from whom to steal designs, possibly be the explanation for why the Creator fashioned life in a hierarchical fashion--why, for example, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds all share the same limb structure?"

    Similarly, evolutionist Mark Ridley, commenting on the Penny work, explains: "If the 11 species had independent origins, there is no reason why their homologies should be correlated. [...] If they were independently created, it would be very puzzling if they showed systematic, hierarchical similarity in functionally unrelated characteristics."

    Penny et al. make their metaphysics clear when they conclude that their results provide strong support for evolution. Why would that be? That claim, presented in the "Conclusion" section, comes out of nowhere from a scientific perspective. The whole paper was about providing a falsification criterion (which failed btw). Even if their criterion does work as a falsifier of evolution, that says nothing about its strength as evidence for evolution. But of course, in the evolution genre, such evidence is interpreted metaphysically as powerful evidence according to, as Sober refers to it, Darwin's Principle:

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/06/sober-rebukes-evolutions-religion.html

    I trust the evolutionary metaphysics is clear.

    [continued ...]

    ReplyDelete
  140. Joe:

    You wrote:

    ============
    The Penny et al. paper tries to see whether there is evidence for common descent by looking to see whether there is nonrandom similarity of trees at different loci (there is, lots). They therefore use a null hypothesis of independent evolution in different lineages.

    You characterize this as meaningless. It isn't. It answers the question by using a relevant null hypothesis. And one which it is wildly inappropriate to call “random design” and which you did not explain with precision. Or even semi-clearly.
    ============

    No, Penny et al. is not about common descent, per se. The term appears nowhere in the paper, and the paper is *specifically* in response to Popper's criticism of evolution. The null hypothesis is *not* "independent evolution in different lineages."

    The paper specifically explains that the null hypothesis does *not* entail "the existence of an evolutionary history." The whole point is to defend evolution against Popper's criticism that it is unfalsifiable. If the null hypothesis was "independent evolution in different lineages" then it would simply confirm Popper's point. You have to have a null hypothesis that does not entail evolution.

    The Penny et al. solution is that evolution would be falsified if there were no statistically significant patterns between the species designs. That is, if their designs are random with respect to each other. The statistical test they use is *not*, for instance, a phylogenetic goodness of fit threshold. Rather, it is randomness (no statistically signifcant phylogenetic signal). It is either random design or evolution, take your choice. Their test is conceptually *identical* to Bernoulli's 1734 test for the solar system, and the term "random design" is certainly an appropriate description of the null hypothesis.

    And yes, the test is practically meaningless from a scientific perspective. It is a classic example of naive falsificationism (the art of erecting trivial tests) and protectionism which is so dangerous. The null hypothesis is certainly not relevant, except from the metaphysical view that design would not have patterns, so evolution must be true if patterns are found. From a scientific perspective it is dangerous because it sweeps under the rug all kinds of important and interesting findings. Even in the examples in the Penny paper, the different gene trees show substantial mismatches. There are a great many more where those came from, which evolution sweeps under the rug as anomalies, convergences, etc.

    For readers who may not easily understand this problem, consider this example. Imagine we discover that now and then objects float rather than fall to the ground. It is sufficiently rare that we could, using statistics, show that these occurrences are not "statistically" significant. We could argue that the law of gravity is easily a statistical fact, in spite of such anomalies.

    Of course such a move would be absurd, but it is exactly what evolutionists are doing here. It is precisely in such anomalies where interesting science is often found. This is why we have people called "scientists" rather than "statisticians." We don't do science with statistical tests. This is yet another example of how evolution is a science stopper. That fact that the Penny et al. paper was published in a peer reviewed journal (and a leading journal at that) is an unfortunately typical example of how badly science has been compromised by evolution.

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  141. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  142. Cornelius -

    "IOW, since the planets are aligned in a pattern, we know God did not design the solar system so it must have evolved. This is an important tradition in evolutionary thought and is used as powerful evidence for biological evolution by Darwin and later evolutionists."

    ??? The theory of evolution is a theory of biology. The solar system did not 'evolve' in the biological sense. Thus, it has nothing to do with Darwin's theory of evolution. Again, you are getting confused with anti-theist arguments.

    "IOW, it is random design or evolution, take your choice."

    What other option is there?

    Seriously. This is not a rhetorical question. It's one I'd like you to answer.

    You cannot invoke a supernatural agent here because to do so is profoundly unscientific.

    "Imagine we discover that now and then objects float rather than fall to the ground."

    If we are to conclude that we cannot restrict ourselves to the metaphysics upon which science is based, then we can say nothing at all about objects falling or floating. We cannot explain anything at all, in fact. We are closing the door to discovering anything by insisting that we leave enough room for miracles to be declared.

    You cannot have it both ways. The metaphysics at the heart of evolution is at the heart of all science. If you think it is flawed then you are arguing against science as a whole and should declare so. If not, then there is nothing wrong with the theory of evolution making these metaphysical claims.

    The one thing you cannot do is claim science is on your side when you criticize the metaphysics of the theory of evolution.

    Are you a scientist or not?

    ReplyDelete
  143. Cornelius --

    Well, I was wrong about one thing ... that date of your post about the Penny paper. Yes, June 2, not June 12.

    There are two Penny papers that are relevant here:
    *  Penny, D., L. R. Foulds, and M. D. Hendy. 1982. Testing the theory of evolution by comparing phylogenetic trees constructed from five different protein sequences. Nature 297: 197-200.
    *  Penny, D., M. D. Hendy, and M. A. Steel. 1993. Testing the theory of descent. pp. 155-183 in Phylogenetic Analysis of DNA Sequences, edited by M. M. Miyamoto and J. Cracraft. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
    * Penny, D., M. Hendy, and A. Poole. 2003. Testing fundamental evolutionary hypotheses. Journal of Theoretical Biology 223(3): 377-385.

    These are different stages of the same general work. The last one can be downloaded from Penny's web site as a PDF.

    They may not have used the phrase “common descent” in some of these papers, but they say this in the 1993 paper:

    ==============================
    The simple prediction from the “theory of descent” is that, becase the sequences share the same pattern of ancestry, the optimal trees from different data sets should be similar.
    ==============================

    Are they taking as their null hypothesis that different lineages have evolved independently? You say firmly:

    ==============================
    The null hypothesis is *not* "independent evolution in different lineages.
    ==============================

    ... but they say in the 1993 paper
    ==============================
    On step of the analysis required the comparison of how well a column of data fitted a binary tree, compared to the null model of a star (or big bang) tree (Fig. 9-4). On this null method we could imagine a single ancestor from which all existing species had been independently derived. That is, no pair of species is more closely related than any other pair.
    ===============================

    They do say in the 1982 paper that the null hypothesis is that all possible trees are equiprobable, different gene loci having different trees. That is actually the same assumption, as a star tree generates data that has random accidental slight similarities of lineages, and will thus favor different trees in different loci.

    I'll just add the (semantic) point that calling randomly chosen trees that are different in different genes “random design” is bad terminology because the listener is apt to confuse that with randomly designed adaptations in the individual species.

    As for your declaration that “we don't do science with statistical tests” that leaves me spluttering. I don't know about the program where you trained, but the Computational Molecular Biology Program at my university (a program I headed for five years) makes darn sure that the students learn the importance of statistics. And when you take a pill, give thanks that the NIH insists that all clinical trials of medicines have a strong statistical analysis.

    ReplyDelete
  144. Oops, wrong again. A Monty Python moment:

    ==============================
    There are two Penny papers that are relevant here.
    ==============================

    should of course have been

    “There are three Penny papers that are relevant here”

    and of course, in further Python style, there is a fourth paper that discusses this a bit:

    Riddiford, A. and D. Penny. 1984. The scientific status of modern evolutionary theory. Chap. 1, pp. 1-38 in Evolutionary Theory: Paths into the future, edited by J. W. Pollard. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester.

    ... where they describe the 1982 Nature paper a bit and then say

    ============================
    The results invalidate alternatives such as those of Figure 3C-F.
    ============================

    ... and when you go look there it is described as

    ============================
    No relationships -- all species independent.
    ============================
    and they cite Lovejoy's classic The Great Chain of Being and attribute this view to Cuvier.

    ReplyDelete
  145. Joe:

    Thank you for that information, I'll be interested to take a look at those other papers. By the way, my point was not that Penny and co workers never tested sub hypotheses of evolution. My point was merely that in the 1982 paper they sought to test evolution, and thereby demonstrate its falsifiability. Obviously in those other papers they do test sub hypotheses of evolution.

    ===============
    I'll just add the (semantic) point that calling randomly chosen trees that are different in different genes “random design” is bad terminology because the listener is apt to confuse that with randomly designed adaptations in the individual species.
    ===============

    Point well taken, though I can't think of anything better right off hand. The word "random" is important I think because in this tradition, which as I said goes back centuries, the evolutionary explanation is assumed to the only alternative to a system whose parameters are randomly distributed. To me "random design" seems like a good label, but maybe there is a better way to put it.

    What is important about this, it seems to me, is that it assumes to have full knowledge of all the possible alternative explanations. How can we know what all the possible alternatives are? It is a good example of the problem of unconceived alternatives (see Kyle Stanford's work on this, for instance).

    ==============
    As for your declaration that “we don't do science with statistical tests” that leaves me spluttering. I don't know about the program where you trained, but the Computational Molecular Biology Program at my university (a program I headed for five years) makes darn sure that the students learn the importance of statistics. And when you take a pill, give thanks that the NIH insists that all clinical trials of medicines have a strong statistical analysis.
    ==============

    But I thought the context made my point clear. Of course I did not mean that we ought never to use statistics. I made that statement in reference to the Penny claim in particular (and evolutionary claims in general) that (i) a meaningful falsification test had been provided and (ii) evolution is compelling because the random design null hypothesis (or whatever it should be called ...) fails.

    To be more clear, let me say "we don't do science *merely* with statistical tests." I hope it is clear that the 1982 Penny et al. paper is not a good example of how to use statistics in science. Do a random design null hypothesis test, sure, but the evolutionary conclusions are problematic (for reasons stated). There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics.

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  146. Joe

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    That seems a non-prediction, as you can never tell when an explanation may be found. It is like Cornelius Hunter's statement that a design explanation could some day be found for the giraffe recurrent laryngeal nerve.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I like to think it's more like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. There are limits to what science can know, and in the absence of any experimental proof to the contrary, I will rely on the astronomical probability which supports my view.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    So no predictions there, I guess.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Descriptions are nevertheless important. Would you throw out the biological classification system because it does not make a prediction. I think that is still science.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Not the Young Earth variety, see any geologist or astronomer. And there really is *lots* of evidence for common descent, which would seem to contradict the more literal varieties of creationism.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    No, definitely not the Young Earth variety. I should have clarified that. I don't think anyone can discuss science credibly and hold a young earth view, not at least any I have heard. I am a Old Earth Creationist of sorts. There is also lots of evidence to refute common descent. I have yet to hear of a paper describing how the simplest life form came about by natural processes. I think if that were done everyone would know about it.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    That is like saying that since we may never know who fired the first shot at the Battle of Lexington (in the American War of Independence) that we can conclude that no one fired that shot, or that some supernatural entity did. Not a good way to argue.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Not at all. There is lots of evidence of military battles: weapons manufactures, historical eye witness accounts, archeological evidence etc. There is no evidence of rna/dna/cell membrance/etc/etc coming together spontaneously with all the right peaces and all the right chemical processes to create life. From my reading of origin of first life research scientists confess that they may never know how the simplest life was created.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Not as long as we have a mechanism -- natural selection -- which can create such information.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I have read current research by knowledgeable specialist that are at a loss to explain the information necessary for evolution.

    cntd

    ReplyDelete
  147. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I am delighted that you have changed your mind. In the comments on an earlier thread ("Is Design Theory Scientific? A Case Study") you said:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I am delighted that you joined our conversation. Some evolutionary blogs have posts that are very ignorant, on more than one level. I am generally not impressed. I think a lot of the bloggers have a political/social agenda.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Do you reply on William Dembski's Design Inference and his Law Of Conservation of Complex Specified Information? I have argued
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I do not have 100% confidence in Dembski. I do trust Herbert Yockey's work. Both I think are better models then evolution.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    What is wrong with my argument?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The "digital information" is just the presence of sequences that code for RNA and proteins — sequences that lead to high fitness.

    That would be a fine argument for a system with a couple of component and a couple of possible arrangements. I know from reading Yockey that that is not even a remotely accurate view of a living organism.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Most biologists would be surprised to hear that their presence is, in itself, a strong argument for ID — biologists would regard them as the outcome of natural selection.

    I prefer scientific proof to a consensus. In science one person can be right and the entire establishment could be wrong. Have you heard of Fred Hoyle and the steady state theory of cosmology?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    You have a lengthy discussion of Dembski. I will only say that while his theory may not be iron clad, there is nevertheless a difference between random interstellar radio noise and Beethonven's 9th symphony.

    ReplyDelete
  148. Peter said:

    when I has said (about his argument):
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    So no predictions there, I guess.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Peter said:
    ===============================
    Descriptions are nevertheless important. Would you throw out the biological classification system because it does not make a prediction. think that is still science.
    ===============================

    It is important chiefly as a reflection of phylogeny, and knowing the phylogeny (or, more properly, having a good estimate of it) does make statistical predictions of patterns of differences among species.

    (when I disagreed with Peter's assertion that creationism was supported by the evidence, saying that literal versions of creationism were not supported by the evidence, and I said that there was lots of evidence for common descent),

    Peter said:
    ==============================
    No, definitely not the Young Earth variety. I should have clarified that. don't think anyone can discuss science credibly and hold a young earth view, not at least any I have heard.
    ===============================

    Do you argue with them? One thing I find telling is that Old Earth Creationists scarcely ever argue with YEC's in these forums -- it seems as if they want allies more than they want to clarify these issues.

    Peter said:
    ===========================
    I am a Old Earth Creationist of sorts. There is also lots of evidence to refute common descent. I have yet to hear of a paper describing how the simplest life form came about by natural processes. I think if that were done everyone would know about it.
    ===========================

    There we go, off to the origin of life. Common descent refers to what happens after the origin of life, the relatedness of all living things. What about that?

    When I Peter said that the discovery of more and more complexity in life supported creationism, and I said:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Not as long as we have a mechanism -- natural selection -- which can create such information.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Peter said:
    =====================================
    I have read current research by knowledgeable specialist that are at loss to explain the information necessary for evolution.
    =====================================

    They must not be evolutionary biologists, or anyone who ever had a population genetics course, where the equations for natural selection are explained.

    Peter said:
    ================================
    I am delighted that you joined our conversation. Some evolutionary blogs have posts that are very ignorant, on more than one level. I am generally not impressed. I think a lot of the bloggers have political/social agenda.
    =================================

    While there are certainly some unimpressive posts in anti-creationist
    blogs, you don't see any agendas in creationist blogs? Wow.

    When I asked in respect to how Peter detects design:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Do you reply on William Dembski's Design Inference and his Law Of Conservation of Complex Specified Information? I have argued
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Peter said:
    ==================================
    I do not have 100% confidence in Dembski. I do trust Herbert Yockey's work. Both I think are better models then evolution.
    ==================================

    Take a look at Hubert P. Yockey's blog. It is posted by his daughter with his approval (he is 93 years old now). I don't agree with his conclusions about whether explanations of the origin of life are possible, but as explained there he certainly does not agree with you about creationism versus evolution.

    ReplyDelete
  149. Joe,

    .................................
    Do you argue with them? One thing I find telling is that Old Earth Creationists scarcely ever argue with YEC's in these forums -- it seems as if they want allies more than they want to clarify these issues.
    .................................

    The YEC's I know discredit a religious dialogue with science. I told a YEC very close friend of mine that he neither understood the Bible or science. There are other times when this label is deliberately misapplied to smear opponents.


    ....................................
    There we go, off to the origin of life. Common descent refers to what happens after the origin of life, the relatedness of all living things. What about that?
    ....................................

    Several evolutionary books include origin of life so it's fair game. If scientists can not even explain the simplest of life forms how credible is their explanation of all life forms for all history. You see the logical deduction I hope. It is mind boggling that such an extrapolation could be made considering scientists have not been able to evolve a single species like a chimp into a person in a laboratory. How then can they claim to explain the billions of life forms over millions of years? That is such an extreme claim that I would require a substantial amount of hard evidence.

    ..........................................
    Take a look at Hubert P. Yockey's blog. It is posted by his daughter with his approval (he is 93 years old now). I don't agree with his conclusions about whether explanations of the origin of life are possible, but as explained there he certainly does not agree with you about creationism versus evolution.
    .....................................
    Thanks for the link. I will certain have a look. Here is something we agree on. We both don't completely agree with Yockey. I find a disconnect between his statistical work and his belief in common descent. I believe I am following his work to the logical conclusion. Nevertheless, I respect greatly his indepth understanding of biological processes.

    I am not a scientist, and certainly know only a little biology. I have noticed that scientists tend to have a materialistic view of the world. Doctors I have read have a much higher religiousity. It seems to me there are ways of thinking in groups of people that create obstacles in following the data to its logical conclusion, especially when it goes way out on a limb and implies an immaterial cause. That's my view for what it's worth.

    ReplyDelete
  150. Cornelius --

    you said:
    ================================
    By the way, my point was not that Penny and co workers never tested sub hypotheses of evolution. My point was merely that in the 1982 paper they sought to test evolution, and thereby demonstrate its falsifiability. Obviously in those other papers they do test sub hypotheses of evolution.
    ================================

    This brings us back (fortunately) to the central points at issue. Penny et al. were demonstrating that there was a noticeable similarity between the trees inferred from different genes, thereby establishing that they were detecting a common signal. The natural null hypothesis for this is to assume there is no common signal, that there are either random trees for each gene, or that there is no treelike signal, so that lineages represent different outcomes. The latter would also predict that trying to infer a tree for each gene would yield unrelated trees.

    Two issues between us are:

    1. You have repeatedly said that Penny et al.'s work
    =================================
    ... found no such signal. In fact the gene trees they computed showed substantial differences.
    =================================

    We don't expect exactly the same tree every time because of noise in the estimation -- each gene has a limited, and noisy, signal. We also know of phenomena such as coalescent effects (gene trees being an imperfect reflection of species trees). The statistical models we use are imperfect and inevitably oversimplified. And once in a while, hybridization or horizontal gene transfer can cause trouble.

    Do you have some argument that the discrepancies they found are big enough to result from something else? If so, why? If so, what?

    2. I have asked repeatedly what they instead should have assumed, what a creationist or Design perspective would predict. You have refused to say what, instead still rejecting their test as "contrastive" presumably because it seeks to contrast one prediction with another.

    Do you have some pattern that a creationist or Design perspective predicts? If so, what? If not, how can one regard those perspectives as scientific?

    I do have to correct one thing I said. It is not true that all creationist theories make no predictions. Young Earth Creationists make lots of predictions, and they are all ruled out by the scientific evidence. However OEC theories seem a lot vaguer.

    ReplyDelete
  151. Joe, proving common descent through phylogenetic trees if that was possible wouldn't prove evolution at the same time, if we evolved from fish through a guided process, it would mean that Darwinian evolution is false(even though we evolved from fish). The second there is teleology in the system Darwinian evolution crumbles.

    Common descent could be true in every respect while Darwinian evolution is false.

    --Johan--

    ReplyDelete
  152. Peter -

    "Several evolutionary books include origin of life so it's fair game. If scientists can not even explain the simplest of life forms how credible is their explanation of all life forms for all history. You see the logical deduction I hope."

    I'm sure many books on evolution talk about the origin of life, but that doesn't really alter the fact that the theory of evolution itself says nothing about it. The theory of evolution only applies once life has already begun. Was the first replicating life form forged from a chemical process of interacting elements into a biological organism? Was it poofed into existence in a snap of some divine creator's mighty fingers? Who knows? Yet however the first replicating life form came about would not alter the natural history of life on this planet or the theory of evolution.

    "It is mind boggling that such an extrapolation could be made considering scientists have not been able to evolve a single species like a chimp into a person in a laboratory."

    That's just not true. We have directly witnessed evolution in a laboratory:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14094-bacteria-make-major-evolutionary-shift-in-the-lab.html

    http://www.sciencebuzz.org/blog/scientists-witness-evolution-lab

    ReplyDelete
  153. johan -

    "Common descent could be true in every respect while Darwinian evolution is false."

    I'm not saying the two are exactly the same, but what exactly do you think the difference between the two is?

    ReplyDelete
  154. Ritchie,

    **********************************
    The theory of evolution only applies once life has already begun.
    **********************************

    Wrong. Scientific theories change over timne. The theory of evolution is just what the evolutionary scientists say it is.

    **********************************
    Yet however the first replicating life form came about would not alter the natural history of life on this planet or the theory of evolution.
    *************************************

    Wrong. If you leave open the possibility of an extra-natural cause for first life then that may have implications for future similar events, i.e. the Cambrian explosion, or for that matter the entire fossil record with its almost complete lack of intermediary forms.

    ************************************
    We have directly witnessed evolution in a laboratory:
    ************************************
    Wrong again, a perfect trifecta.

    "It's the first time evolution has been caught in the act of making such a rare and complex new trait."

    Since when is a new trait mean a new species. Evolution claims to explain millions of transitions between species. I would like to see one substantion transition to a ***new*** species, say from a chimp to a gorrilla. Is that too much to ask. Until such evidence has been created there is no compelling reason to believe in evolution.

    ReplyDelete
  155. Peter -

    "Wrong. Scientific theories change over timne. The theory of evolution is just what the evolutionary scientists say it is."

    ??? I'm confused. I presume you are alluding to the fact that scientific theories are tweaked and refined by future evidence. Which is true. But that's a far cry from saying theories totally change the phenomenon they explain.

    The theory of evolution explains the development of life once it had started. Maybe one day we will know exactly how life originated on Earth. But it still won't fall under the theory of evolution.

    Abiogenesis is the study of how life could have arisen from inanimate matter. You cannot simply shift the goalposts to criticize evolution by claiming that it includes abiogenesis and then attacking abiogenesis.

    Abiogenesis and evolution are obviously very closely related. But they are distinct. One might be false and the other still true. You do no harm to the theory of evolution by attacking abiogenesis.

    "Wrong. If you leave open the possibility of an extra-natural cause for first life then that may have implications for future similar events, i.e. the Cambrian explosion, or for that matter the entire fossil record with its almost complete lack of intermediary forms."

    Lol at 'extra-natural'!

    But you missed my point. Somehow life started on Earth. That is just a fact. Somehow, it also developed to the point we see today. That is another fact. However life started would not alter how life developed.

    You are simply trying to abuse the God of the Gaps argument - claim that abiogenesis MIGHT POSSIBLY have had an 'extra-natural' cause, and thus, the development of life might too. This does not wash, I'm afraid. Until you can provide any reason to think 'extra-natural' causes exist, then we are right back at square one.

    By the way, the Cambrian Explosion is a peculiarity, true, but it is far from inexplicable through entirely natural means. And the idea that the fossil record has a complete lack of intermediary forms is totally laughable - EVERY species is an intermediary species; it is intermediate between its ancestors and its descendants.

    "Since when is a new trait mean a new species."

    D'oh! The citrate-eating bacteria is a new form of the bacteria. A form which came about by out-competing rivals which did not possess randomly-acquired beneficial mutations. Random mutation and natural selection. That's evolution. Right there. Ta-dah!

    "I would like to see one substantion transition to a ***new*** species, say from a chimp to a gorrilla."

    If we were to perform a lab experiment I imagine we should take two samples of a single species and let them breed seperately for a long time and see if they become seperate species.

    However, bearing in mind both groups would start off as the same species, it would take an awfully long time to see any really noticable changes in any creature with a reproduction cycle slower than that of, say, a fly. Chimps and gorillas are so obviously different because they have been distinct species for millions of years. When they first split, they were the same species, who then developed tiny genetic differences which slowly grew and grew until they were as distinct as we see today. In short, an experiment resulting in two species as distinct as chimps and gorillas would take thousands of years.

    Still, bacteria have an extremely fast reproduction cycle. Let's use them.

    Oh wait, someone has...

    But it wouldn't verify evolution unless the bacteria started developing distinct traits.

    Oh wait, they did...

    ReplyDelete
  156. Joe:


    =====
    We don't expect exactly the same tree every time because of noise in the estimation -- each gene has a limited, and noisy, signal. We also know of phenomena such as coalescent effects (gene trees being an imperfect reflection of species trees). The statistical models we use are imperfect and inevitably oversimplified. And once in a while, hybridization or horizontal gene transfer can cause trouble.
    =====

    Sure, but what we find in biology are contradictory patterns that are far outside the noise level.

    =====
    Do you have some argument that the discrepancies they found are big enough to result from something else? If so, why? If so, what?
    =====

    There is an abundance of such discrepancies. For instance:

    http://www.darwinspredictions.com/#_4.2_Genomes_of
    http://www.darwinspredictions.com/#_4.3_Genomes_of




    =====
    I have asked repeatedly what they instead should have assumed, what a creationist or Design perspective would predict. You have refused to say what,
    =====

    Actually I did discuss this and other types of design predictions, as compared to evolutionary predictions. But I also discussed the problem, which you seem to be avoiding, that it is not the creationist's or ID's responsibility to supply the evolutionist with falsification criterion. But what would evolution do without a foil? I guess it would actually have to consider its own plasubility (gasp...).

    ReplyDelete
  157. Ritchie,

    -----------------------------------
    Abiogenesis and evolution are obviously very closely related. But they are distinct.
    -----------------------------------

    True, that is way evolutionary scientists write about it in their books.

    ------------------------------------------
    However life started would not alter how life developed.
    -----------------------------------------

    Do you know this for a fact. Were is your proof of this statement. Please explain sudden appearance of the Cammbrian explosion with the absense of precursors. I am sure all of biology professionals would love to know where they came from.

    ----------------------------------------
    The citrate-eating bacteria is a new form of the bacteria.
    ----------------------------------------
    Yes, but it is still a bacteria! Can you comprehend the extent of extrapolation you are making? A minor change in characterists is not evolution. There are lots of varieties of dogs, but they are not garaffes.

    ReplyDelete
  158. Peter -

    "True, that is way evolutionary scientists write about it in their books."

    That doesn't mean it is part of evolutionary theory.

    If I was writing a book about continental drift, I might spend half a chapter writing about how the Earth was formed. It is a related topic and might help give some insight. But that doesn't mean the formation of the Earth is part of continental drift. However the planet was formed, continental drift still happens.

    "Do you know this for a fact. Were is your proof of this statement."

    A simple thought experiment would demonstrate my case:

    Imagine a blob. His name is Barry. Barry the blob. He is the first ever self-replicating life form. He is extremely simple. All he knows how to do is replicate himself. Yet in a few billion years, his descendants will diversify into millions of different species of plants and animals.

    First question - how do we get from Barry to millions of plants and animal species? Well, lets call that answer 1.

    Second question - how did Barry get here? Answer - we don't know. But however he did, the fact remains that he did, and the fact remains that his descendants will turn into millions of species of plants and animals. So whatever answer we give to question 2, we still need an answer to question 1.

    Will answer 2 affect answer 1? Well, why should it?

    "Please explain sudden appearance of the Cammbrian explosion with the absense of precursors. I am sure all of biology professionals would love to know where they came from."

    You seem to be of the opinion that the Cambrian Explosion is an embarrassing anomaly which evolutionary biology cannot explain. Let me assure you this is not the case.

    For one thing we have fossil evidence of life predating the Cambrian explosion - mostly bacteria and sponges. Simple life forms which sometimes formed colonies. The Cambrian Explosion was merely a rather sudden period of diversification and development. All of a sudden larger, more comples creatures start to appear. The diversity of life had suddenly snowballed. Evolution had stepped on the accelerator. But why?

    Well, several explainations have been proposed. One very popular one is the lack of oxygen in Precambrian atmosphere. Large, complex life forms require oxygen to breathe and lots of it. It is required for the construction of many basic body parts, particularly collagen. Yet it was practically absent from the Earth's very early atmosphere. But about a billion years ago, the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere rose dramtically. How do we know this? From the chemistry of rocks. By the time of the Cambrian Explosion, oxygen levels were much higher than they had ever been in the billions of years since life first evolved.

    Also consider that species diversity tends to 'explode' following mass extinctions. There is evidence of global glaciation in the Precambrian - perhaps even a snowball Earth. So species bottleneck during mass disasters, but when the disaster receedes (the Earth thaws in this case), the survivors have a whole planet to go nuts on.

    Then there is the idea that life forms began to eat each other instead of just synthesizing the sun's light. As soon as life divides into predator and prey, an arms race develops between them, and size is a key weapon for both. Getting big is a good way of being safe for prey and being able to eat big things for predators. Perhaps the Cambrian Explosion marks the time when life forms first began to eat each other.

    Also factor in that even though the word 'explosion' implies a certain immediacy, we are still talking of a period of 70-80 million years here. Which is not much in geological time, but it's perhaps far longer than many people imagine when they hear 'explosion'. How 'sudden' or 'abrupt' is 70-80 million years?

    ReplyDelete
  159. (cont)

    Also note that the 'explosion' is merely an explosion in the fossil record. Not necessarily in life itself. The body parts which fossilize best are the hard bits - teeth, bones and armour. Creatures without hard parts don't tend to fossilize well at all. So perhaps what we are seeing in the Cambrian Explosion is actually the sudden development of 'hard parts'.

    I'm not saying any of these explainations is the one single factor which is solely responsible, but they are all worth considering, and the truth probably involves a bit of each. Or perhaps the real key factor has yet to be discovered. Whatever the truth, it is clearly wrong to imagine that evolutionary biology is incapable of providing plausible hypotheses to account for the Cambrian Explosion.

    "Yes, but it is still a bacteria!"

    It would be! What else would you expect it to be?

    "A minor change in characterists is not evolution."

    You clearly have not grasped the scale of the results here. There was nothing 'minor' about it. One bacteria strain turned into a brand new strain. And it did this through random genetic mutation and natural selection. That IS evolution. Right there. Black and white. Lab tested. Documented. Evidence.

    "There are lots of varieties of dogs, but they are not garaffes."

    Dogs and giraffes have not shared a common ancestor for tens of millions of years. So there are bound to be lots of differences between them.

    All dogs however share a much more recent common ancestor - at about 10 to 12 thousand years ago. So all dogs will be much more closely related.

    What point are you trying to make here?

    ReplyDelete
  160. Cornelius --

    You stated, specifically about the Penny et al. paper that they:

    =================================
    ... found no such signal. In fact the gene trees they computed showed substantial differences.
    =================================

    and when I pointed out that some differences are expected, and explained some sources of difference, then asked pointedly:
    ================================
    Do you have some argument that the discrepancies they found are big enough to result from something else? If so, why? If so, what?
    ================================

    Your answer was:
    ================================
    There is an abundance of such discrepancies. For instance:

    http://www.darwinspredictions.com/#_4.2_Genomes_of
    http://www.darwinspredictions.com/#_4.3_Genomes_of
    ================================

    OK, so the discussion of the Penny et al paper is there? I looked and ... funny, Penny's papers on this point are never discussed or cited there!

    So you are making specific assertions about Penny's paper, but seem so far unable to back them up! Care to try?

    Then there was your assertion when I said:
    ==============================
    I have asked repeatedly what they instead should have assumed, what a creationist or Design perspective would predict. You have refused to say what,
    ==============================

    and you replied:
    ==============================
    Actually I did discuss this and other types of design predictions, as compared to evolutionary predictions. But I also discussed the problem, which you seem to be avoiding, that it is not the creationist's or ID's responsibility to supply the evolutionist with falsification criterion. But what would evolution do without a foil? I guess it would actually have to consider its own plasubility (gasp...).
    ==============================

    As for the previous question you did not discuss what predictions creationist or Design theory would make for the Penny et al. paper. In fact you refused to do so in all previous discussion. Penny et al. tested common descent, and rejected a hypothesis that had no common descent. Rejected it firmly. So they did do exactly what you called for ... but your response was to dismiss their alternative to common descent but refuse to say what they should have used instead. Instead you rejected their work as “contrastive”.

    It is clear that, while you want to place creationism and Design work on the same footing as evolutionary biology, you refuse to hold creationism and Design to the same standards. It seems obvious to me that you are acknowledging that they are not ready for prime time.

    ReplyDelete
  161. Joe:

    "It is clear that, while you want to place creationism and Design work on the same footing as evolutionary biology"

    Hmmm, there seems to be a communications disconnect. Unless I mistyped somewhere, I can't figure where this came from. You're the one who brought design and creationism up. Why is it that evolutionists always want to argue against these?

    ReplyDelete
  162. Ritchie,

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    A simple thought experiment would demonstrate my case:

    Well, several explainations have been proposed.

    Then there is the idea that ....

    Also note that the 'explosion' is merely an explosion in the fossil record. Not necessarily in life itself.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    In other words you have no proof.

    ReplyDelete
  163. Peter -

    There is never any 'proof' in science there is only evidence. As in:

    "Large, complex life forms require oxygen to breathe and lots of it. It is required for the construction of many basic body parts, particularly collagen."

    "But about a billion years ago, the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere rose dramatically. How do we know this? From the chemistry of rocks."

    "There is evidence of global glaciation in the Precambrian - perhaps even a snowball Earth."

    "The body parts which fossilize best are the hard bits - teeth, bones and armour. Creatures without hard parts don't tend to fossilize well at all."

    These are facts. Evidence.

    Besides, what is the alternative? Surely the whole reason for turning to a supernatural explanation for phenomenon such as the Cambrian Explosion is if we cannot explain it naturally. For this to be the case, natural explanations need to be IMPOSSIBLE. Thus, it is enough to show that natural explanations are possible to make supernatural explanations irrelevant.

    Why give something a supernatural explanation when a natural one is sufficient? It would be like attributing the fact that objects fall down to fairies or magic when we have a perfectly serviceable theory of gravity.

    Under the principle of Occam's Razor, the simplest explanation is always to be preferred. This means supernatural explanations are always, by their very definition, inferior to natural ones.

    ReplyDelete
  164. Cornelius -

    "Hmmm, there seems to be a communications disconnect. Unless I mistyped somewhere, I can't figure where this came from. You're the one who brought design and creationism up. Why is it that evolutionists always want to argue against these?"

    Are you SERIOUSLY trying to pretend that you are not advocating design theory, or that you are analyzing evolution as a mere impartial scientist?

    ReplyDelete
  165. Ritchie:

    "Are you SERIOUSLY trying to pretend that you are not advocating design theory, or that you are analyzing evolution as a mere impartial scientist?"

    Amazing. This is always what it comes down to for evolutionists. What would they do without their imputed motives?

    ReplyDelete
  166. Cornelius -

    "Amazing. This is always what it comes down to for evolutionists. What would they do without their imputed motives?"

    Some science, perhaps?

    Your standpoint is neither rational nor scientific. You are accusing the theory of evolution of things which are either untrue or should be leveled at science as a whole. You have clearly purposefully singled out the theory of evolution and are TRYING to fault it. And yet when accused of such bias you say we are imputing motives to you.

    If you find it 'always' comes down to this with evolutionists, there might be a reason for it... Just maybe they have a point...?

    ReplyDelete
  167. Ritchie

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    There is never any 'proof' in science

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I guess you never heard that mathematics is a science. From your reasoning astrology is a science, typical of an evolutionist. Do you know what the purpose of an experiment is? Have you heard the term experimental proof?

    Read and learn what science really is about, not the pseudo-science of evolution:

    http://esciencenews.com/dictionary/experimental.proof

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Why give something a supernatural explanation when a natural one is sufficient?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Why claim evolution is a scientific explanation when it has no experimental proof. The universe began extra-naturally. Why do you persist in the erroneous view that all reality can be explained by materilism?

    ReplyDelete
  168. Cornelius --

    when I had said:
    ====================================
    It is clear that, while you want to place creationism and Design work on the same footing as evolutionary biology ...
    ====================================

    you replied that:
    ====================================
    Hmmm, there seems to be a communications disconnect. Unless I mistyped somewhere, I can't figure where this came from. You're the one who brought design and creationism up. Why is it that evolutionists always want to argue against these?
    ====================================

    Oh, I don't think I'm the one bringing it up.

    Here's one recent statement you made on another thread:
    ====================================
    If distinguishing between outcomes is the hallmark of true science, then evolution is the theory that doesn't qualify.

    As for design theory, while it does not rule out historical contingency as a possible explanation it, in any case, looks for a rationale for what we find in nature. The more probable outcomes are functional designs that require planning, foresight, mechanisms, and so forth. Design theory tries to figure out how nature works rather than viewing it as a fluke and accident of history. And the history of science is squarely on its side. Over and over evolutionary expectations that nature is a fluke are overruled by the evidence. Over and over we find function and fantastic designs which make no sense under evolution.
    ========================================

    Of course on January 2, you disclaimed being “a creationist or design advocate”:
    ========================================
    Since I am neither, at least as those terms are commonly understood, I will have to caveat my response accordingly.
    ========================================
    This will require more than a just a caveat in view of the preceding quote.

    And of course you complained that Penny et al.'s work
    ========================================
    attacks design or creation using non scientific premises that a design or creation advocate would not recognize.
    ========================================
    but of course you couldn't be describing yourself, could you? Perish the thought!

    I guess it's Silly Season. But I should not detain you as you need to get back to putting in more and more posts complaining about how “evolutionists” [actually, scientists] rule out supernatural explanations. You know, the kind of explanations that creationists are honest enough to acknowledge that they are invoking, and the kind that “design theorists” try hard not to admit that they are invoking.

    Still waiting to hear how you know that Penny et al. found unexplainably large discrepancies between the trees for different genes. But I'm not holding my breath.

    ReplyDelete
  169. Peter -

    "I guess you never heard that mathematics is a science."

    Well to be honest, no. I don't really consider mathematics to be a branch of science. If you do, then fair enough, I won't really push the point. But if you like 'there is no such thing as proof in science apart from mathematics'. Better? Or we could just stick with the old cliche 'proof is for mathematics and alcohol'. The point remains it is unreasonable of you to ask for proof of how life on earth developed (what with this not being a mathematical question and all...).

    "From your reasoning astrology is a science,"

    What? How in Hades did you arrive at this conclusion?

    "Do you know what the purpose of an experiment is? Have you heard the term experimental proof?"

    Well yes I have, thanks. And there is a reason it is not simply called 'proof'.

    For one thing, to perform an experiment with which to provide experimental proof, you have to assume several things including naturalism. After all, without naturalism, the result of any experiment may be simply a miracle or a violation of natural law. Yet you seem adverse to accept this assumption. But without it, you cannot have experimental proof. Experimental proof can never be absolute proof.

    Finally, bringing this back to the original point, you asked for proof for how the origin of life came about and the evolutionary explanations for the Cambrian Explosion. These are events which happened in the past. How could we ever prove what happened?

    All we can do it establish what is possible and what is probable. These are the perameters within which science operates.

    "Why claim evolution is a scientific explanation when it has no experimental proof."

    But it does. Evolution has been directly witnessed in the lab. Lenski's bacteria study, for example...

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14094-bacteria-make-major-evolutionary-shift-in-the-lab.html

    "The universe began extra-naturally."

    How do you know that? How can you establish that? What do you even mean by it?

    "Why do you persist in the erroneous view that all reality can be explained by materilism?"

    Because so far anything that has ever been explained has been explained by materialism. No mystery has ever been solved where the answer turned out to be 'magic' or 'fairies' or 'spirits' or 'miracles'. There are still questions yet to solve, true, but science and materialism are our best chances for solving them.

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  170. Ritchie,

    So glad that you learned that mathematics is a science.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    For one thing, to perform an experiment with which to provide experimental proof, you have to assume several things including naturalism. After all, without naturalism, the result of any experiment may be simply a miracle or a violation of natural law. Yet you seem adverse to accept this assumption. But without it, you cannot have experimental proof. Experimental proof can never be absolute proof.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I said experimental proof, not absolute proof. Experimental proof is widely accepted by science. Who would deny that the earth is spherical. That has been proven to be true by satelite imagery beyond a doubt. Please do not use lame evolutionist arguments.

    See, I am not adverse to naturalism. I used it in my last argument. The difference is that I know when naturalism breaks down. Physicists call it a singularity, unexplainable by natural laws, i.e, the creation of the universe with the laws of nature and time.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    How could we ever prove what happened?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    That is good. So we agree science has not proven evolution. It is quite easy to prove - evolve a creature in the lab under realistic circumstances. That is what origin of life researchers attempt and fail to do. With the theory of evolution and modern dna knowledge a scientist should be able to evolve many creatures from the pre-Cambrian explosion creatures. Then I would be a convert to the natural origin of life.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Because so far anything that has ever been explained has been explained by materialism.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Not true at all. I bet you did not know that the first person to learn that time had a beginning was not a physcist but a famous theologian, St Augustine from the 4th century. He learned this from the Bible. People for centuries believed from the Bible that the universe was created. Physicists like Fred Hoyle believed the universe was eternal. The Christians were right and the atheist scientist was wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  171. Peter -

    "I said experimental proof, not absolute proof."

    Yes, and my point was that the two are not the same.

    "Experimental proof is widely accepted by science. Who would deny that the earth is spherical. That has been proven to be true by satelite imagery beyond a doubt."

    Yep, pretty much. Unless, of course, I want to insist that the satellite imagery is flawed. I could, for example, assert that astronomy is based on materialism and is therefore flawed! I can thus discount any evidence which it presents which I want to.

    Which is pretty much what ID-ers are doing with evolution.

    Again, your call for 'proof' when it comes to the origin of life or the Cambrian Explosion is unreasonable, and as far as I can see, impossible.

    "See, I am not adverse to naturalism. I used it in my last argument. The difference is that I know when naturalism breaks down. Physicists call it a singularity, unexplainable by natural laws, i.e, the creation of the universe with the laws of nature and time."

    Singularities are not evidence of the supernatural. They occur when the quantities we use to measure gravitational force become infinite. Do not mistake this for evidence of the divine.

    In fact, naturalism does not break down when it comes to singularities. They provide no reason to believe that forces other than natural forces are at work.

    "So we agree science has not proven evolution. It is quite easy to prove - evolve a creature in the lab under realistic circumstances."

    We do not agree, because science HAS evolved a creature in a lab. See Lenski's bacteria experiment for one example:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14094-bacteria-make-major-evolutionary-shift-in-the-lab.html

    "With the theory of evolution and modern dna knowledge a scientist should be able to evolve many creatures from the pre-Cambrian explosion creatures."

    This would be genetic engineering, not evolution.

    "I bet you did not know that the first person to learn that time had a beginning was not a physcist but a famous theologian, St Augustine from the 4th century."

    Garbage! The Bible simply has a creation myth, just like every other religion in history - many of which pre-date Christianity and Judaism.

    The creation story in the Bible is nowhere near accurate unless you want to do a vast deal of interpreting and 'creative explaining'. Which anyone espousing the view that the Bible is anything other than scientifically primitive and usually inaccurate is forced to do.

    Moreover, Fred Hoyle was an individual. He does not represent the views of atheism in general. In fact, by definition, atheists are only united by one very specific thing in which they do NOT believe. This makes them an extremely diverse group in every other respect. There is nothing inherently 'atheistic' in the idea that the universe is infinite.

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  172. Ritchie

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Which is pretty much what ID-ers are doing with evolution.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Vague and no evidence, true evolutionary argumentation

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Again, your call for 'proof' when it comes to the origin of life or the Cambrian Explosion is unreasonable, and as far as I can see, impossible.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Since when is asking for proof unreasonable in science. Again another evolution type argument - twisting science to mean whatever you are comfortable with, the truth need not matter. If proof is impossible then don't make the claim of evolution because you can not prove it

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    We do not agree, because science HAS evolved a creature in a lab. See Lenski's bacteria experiment for one example:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    No one disputes that small changes happen over time. It was still a bacteria. This is in no way proof of evolution causing universal common descent. Behe observed billions of reproductions of malaria bacteria without them ever evolving into another creature.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Garbage! The Bible simply has a creation myth, just like every other religion in history - many of which pre-date Christianity and Judaism.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Another argument from ignorance - you are consistent.

    "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Gen 1;1

    It is correct that the universe was created, Fred Hoyle and his atheistic cronies were wrong. Christians and Jews new the truth thousands of years before the Roman Catholic priest father Lemaitre discovered the Big Bang.

    ReplyDelete
  173. Peter -

    "Since when is asking for proof unreasonable in science.Again another evolution type argument - twisting science to mean whatever you are comfortable with, the truth need not matter. If proof is impossible then don't make the claim of evolution because you can not prove it"

    I believe I have been consistent with my claims and definition of science - it is a process of understanding the world around us by observation and experimentation. It also necessitates certain ideas - such as the idea that the world is built on constant and natural laws and that miracles do not occur. You are the one who asks for proof with one breath and then claims naturalism has limits and that the origin of the universe is 'extra-natual' with another.

    You cannot have it both ways. Either your claims about materialism and naturalism are correct and we can have no proof of anything - any evidence is fatally flawed, or experimental proof IS reliable and your views on naturalism are flawed.

    As it is, science is built on naturalism, and as such cannot provide absolute proof of anything. It can provide experimental proof and evidence for evolution - which it does in spades.

    "No one disputes that small changes happen over time. It was still a bacteria."

    What else would you expect it to be? Big changes are just lots of small changes strung together. If you allow small changes are possible, then surely you allow big ones are too - just by having lots of small changes following on from one another?

    Do you accept that evolution can create different breeds/races within a species? Do you accept it can create different species within a genus? Do you accept it can create different genera within a family? Where exactly do you draw the line and why?

    Look at the diversity of dogs: in 10-12,000 years, they have gone from a single breed (the grey wolf) to the great diversity we see today, from great danes, to poodles, to bull mastiffs, to terriers, to huskies and everything in between. Do you again remain unimpressed considering them all to be 'still just dogs'?

    "Behe observed billions of reproductions of malaria bacteria without them ever evolving into another creature."

    If this is the same Michael Behe who, to my knowledge, has failed to produce a single published article in a peer-reviewed sceintific journal outlining and demonstrating his own brain-child, irreducible complexity, and indeed has had his work disowned by his own departmental colleagues on their website, then I would treat his views on evolution (or anything remotely scientific) with extreme caution if I were you.

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  174. ""In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Gen 1;1
    It is correct that the universe was created,"

    You have GOT to be kidding?! Is that really the best you can do?

    Let's pull apart the Biblical creation story then, shall we?

    For one thing, in that very quote you mentioned, it rather sounds like the 'heavens' and earth were created together. However, science dates the former to 13.7 billion years ago and the latter to 4.6 billion years ago.

    The Earth was definitely created before the Sun and stars. Wrong there. Also, whales and birds were created before reptiles and insects. Wrong again. Plants were created before the Sun from whose energy they feed. Once again, wrong. Flowers predate animals. What a suprise - wrong again.

    We might also ask how exactly God created the light and the day and night days before He created the Sun and stars. What light sources were there if not stars? And how were the day and night marked if not by them?

    Then the firmament over the Earth is mentioned more than once. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, it was believed that the sky was the inside of a dome which stood over the (flat) Earth. It had holes in which were the stars (or by some accounts, through which the stars were lowered). A whole heap of wrong.

    I could go on, but I think you get the point. Do you really want to hold this account up as scientifically accurate in the slightest?

    And yet you seem happy to bdo so ecause it describes the world as having a beginning as opposed to an infinite origin? Please!

    The ancient Aztecs believed in the beginning there was the great goddess Coatlique. She was impregnated with a knife (!) and gave birth to the moon and stars. Then she accidentally fell pregnant again and gave birth to the god of war. Chaos followed and the earth was fertilized as the great mother was torn apart and her children killed and scattered.

    The ancient Babylonians believed the Earth was born out of water - specifically the raging feud between the god of fresh water and the goddess of the oceans.

    The Norse believed that in the beginning there was a void. Then ice and fog came from the north (!) and fire from the south. Where they met the ice was thawed and the fire cooled so a strip of fertile, if climatically volative, Earth came into being.

    The Chinese believed that in the beginning the Earth and Heavens were one. Then there came the god Pan Gu who shattered the unity (literally). The light rose up and became the havens, the cool settled down below to create the Earth, and Pan Gu straddled the gap.

    My point? All these tales pre-date the Judaeo-Christian story of creation. They too all imply the world had a definite beginning. Does that make them accurate?

    Every religion and culture has a creation myth. There is nothing at all special or even original about the Judaeo-Christian one - not least because it is not even slightly accurate beyond the laughably vague claim that the world 'had a beginning'.

    ReplyDelete
  175. ..
    Ritchie,

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    You cannot have it both ways. Either your claims about materialism and naturalism are correct and we can have no proof of anything
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I can see your problem now. You have a flawed absolutist understanding of reality. You think that naturalism can explain everything. This is patently false. No body of knowledge explains everything. Relativity and quantum mechanics are irreconcilable, yet both are valuable and experimentally proven (replicable) theories (unlike evolution which is closest to astrology for atheism).

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    What else would you expect it to be?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I would expect a result that to some degree reflects the claim. This shows nothing. An experimentally replicable demonstration of evolution should show one species evolving into another, like a fish evolving into a reptile. Nothing else comes close to verifying the theory of evolution.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    If this is the same Michael Behe who, to my knowledge, has failed to produce a single published article in a peer-reviewed scientific journal outlining and demonstrating his own brain-child, irreducible complexity
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I suppose you would claim that the scientists at East Anglia were Boy Scouts that would never interfere with the publication of diverse opinions. Take a reality pill and learn how the world really works.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    it rather sounds like the 'heavens' and earth were created together. However, science dates the former to 13.7 billion years ago and the latter to 4.6 billion years ago.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The story is taking in time intervals of unspecified length (days = ages) and the order was correct.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Every religion and culture has a creation myth. There is nothing at all special or even original about the Judaeo-Christian one - not least because it is not even slightly accurate beyond the laughably vague claim that the world 'had a beginning'.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    So all the creation myths are more accurate than evolution which requires a nearly infinite time to randomly produce all the life on earth. So which story is the most accurate after ruling out evolution?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The Earth was definitely created before the Sun and stars. Wrong there. Also, whales and birds were created before reptiles and insects. Wrong again. Plants were created before the Sun from whose energy they feed. Once again, wrong. Flowers predate animals. What a suprise - wrong again.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    So there was a mass of sea creatures created suddenly after the water cycle was formed. Hmmmm, sounds a lot like the Cambrian explosion right after the water cylce was created. Now how is it that the Bible was right and evolution was wrong? Especially when we consider how wrong evolution was with the multitude of missing predecessor fossils. How could that be? An ancient text was right and modern scientists were wrong in their predictions.
    Vegetation was created on day three before the animals - correct.
    Also, land creatures appeared after sea creatures - right again. How was that correct?
    And finally man was created last and no more creations. Guess what - right again. Wow, that's amazing - all right, evolution and mythology all wrong.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    We might also ask how exactly God created the light and the day and night days before He created the Sun and stars. What light sources were there if not stars? And how were the day and night marked if not by them?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    BTW, life began shortly after the late heavy bombardment which caused a global cloud that shielded the earth from the sun and moon - after light was created. I wonder how the Bible writer new this. Maybe they had telescopes.
    I wonder how the writer know all this stuff without materialism?

    ReplyDelete
  176. Peter -

    "You think that naturalism can explain everything. This is patently false. No body of knowledge explains everything."

    I small distinction is needed here. I believe naturalism is CAPABLE of explaining everything. But that is not to say that it already has.

    You are right saying no body of knowledge explains everything. There is still much that we do not know. But so far the only method of perceiving and explaining the world which has produced reliable results is the scientific method, which takes naturalism as a prerequisite.

    So whilst I believe everything CAN be explained through naturalism, that is not to say I believe everything HAS ALREADY been explained. There are still mysteries, but I have confidence in science to solve them eventually.

    "Relativity and quantum mechanics are irreconcilable, yet both are valuable and experimentally proven (replicable) theories (unlike evolution which is closest to astrology for atheism)."

    Evolution is experimentally proven. And it is a theory - in the scientific sense. Which means it has met certain stands of evidence.

    You keep comparing evolution to astrology. But I do not see why. Astrology is not a scientific theory. It does not meet necessary standards of evidence - unlike evolution.

    "I would expect a result that to some degree reflects the claim. This shows nothing."

    If you can say so then you simply do not grasp the significance of the experiment at all.

    Twelve samples of the same strain of bacteria were taken and bred seperately through thousands of generations. Each strain was fed the same amount of glucose - the resource on which the bacteria fed. In each sample, the bacteria got better at exploiting the glucose - and more to the point, each strain got better at expoilting it in different ways. So fitnessed to exploit a given limited resource not only rose, but rose in different ways - exactly what we would expect if this natural selection was based on random genetic mutation.

    Then the final clincher - one of the samples suddenly went beserk. It had found a way to exploit another resource, citrate, which E.coli normally cannot feed on. An entirely new strain of E. coli had been born - one that was unique to any strain we have ever seen. In other words, a unique strain built on random mutation and natural selection. And the whole process documented in meticulous detail. Evolution in action. Before our very eyes.

    "An experimentally replicable demonstration of evolution should show one species evolving into another, like a fish evolving into a reptile."

    Fish and reptiles are not merely different species - or different genera, families, or orders. They are different classes! To get changes this vast would require millions of generations. FAR, FAR longer than the lifespan of a single person. Your request is totally unrealistic. You might as well say 'I will not believe in evolution until I see an individual chimpanzee turn into a human before my very eyes'. Not only does it fundamentally misunderstand how evolution works, it is an impossible demand.

    The best we can do is use a creature whose reproduction cycle is exremely fast. Like bacteria. And initially the differences we witness will not be class-wide. They will be small and seemingly insignificant at first - as they always are. Only time (and a vast deal of it) turns the small differences into class-defining characteristics.

    "I suppose you would claim that the scientists at East Anglia were Boy Scouts that would never interfere with the publication of diverse opinions."

    Man, talk about a strawman argument. What on Earth has that got to do with the theory of evolution/Behe?

    Behe is a hugely important figure in the ID movement. It is surely relevant that his work is being disowned by other scientists, including his own departmental colleagues?

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  177. "The story is taking in time intervals of unspecified length (days = ages) and the order was correct."

    That is how you interpret it. Others interpret it differently - that the 'days' were literal 24 hour durations. What makes you right and them wrong? Nothing really. It's all about interpretation. Which is the whole problem. Nowhere in the Genesis does it clarify how long these events took.

    And the order was not correct at all.

    "So all the creation myths are more accurate than evolution which requires a nearly infinite time to randomly produce all the life on earth."

    No it doesn't! Why on Earth (pun intended)would it require a near infinite amount of time? That's just stupid! It requires billions of years, but we have evidence of life having been around for billions of years! There's no problem there at all.

    "So there was a mass of sea creatures created suddenly after the water cycle was formed. Hmmmm, sounds a lot like the Cambrian explosion right after the water cylce was created...

    Vegetation was created on day three before the animals - correct...

    And finally man was created last and no more creations. Guess what - right again."

    You are clinging to tiny shreds which you can interpret to look like they are correct. You are simply ignoring the gaping holes in the story. The order is not correct at all - it places the Earth as having been made before the Sun, plants before the Sun, whales and birds before reptiles and insects, and flowers before animals. All of which are wrong.

    Now here comes the distinction between science and revelation. In science, when we come across evidence which does not fit our current theory, then we must either tweak the theory so that it accounts for the new evidence, or scrap it entirely. This is a key point.

    But if you cling to a book which you claim to be inerrant, then what can you do if you find evidence which contradicts the book? The whole basis of the book being right is that 'it just is'. If any part of this unchanging book is shown to be false, then it is demonstrably not inerrant. There is no reason to believe any of it if it is not 100% correct in its entirity.

    So you could try claiming the book was just being poetic and using metaphor, you could try claiming the evidence is false, or you could simply ignore it.

    Which are you going to do?

    "Wow, that's amazing - all right, evolution and mythology all wrong."

    Not only are you mistaken that the Bible is right on these points, you are mistaken that evolution is wrong on them. There is nothing about these points you mentioned which contradicts the theory of evolution in the slightest. If fact, that very theory helped to establish the truth of many of them.

    "BTW, life began shortly after the late heavy bombardment which caused a global cloud that shielded the earth from the sun and moon - after light was created. I wonder how the Bible writer new this."

    In what passage in the Bible does it claim anything like this occurred?

    ReplyDelete
  178. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I small distinction is needed here. I believe naturalism is CAPABLE of explaining everything. But that is not to say that it already has.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Obviously false. Tell me the exact position and mass of every particle in the universe 15 seconds ago.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    If you can say so then you simply do not grasp the significance of the experiment at all.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Evolution says that all creatures evolve from one species to another. While the experiment you quoted shows a minor change in a creature, it does not show it evolving into a new creature. It is still a bacteria.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    To get changes this vast would require millions of generations. FAR, FAR longer than the lifespan of a single person.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Not to a scientist who can alter dna. If random changes in DNA produce evolution in classes then a scientist must replicate that in an experiment, otherwise no proof of evolution.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Behe is a hugely important figure in the ID movement. It is surely relevant that his work is being disowned by other scientists, including his own departmental colleagues?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    He publishes books. Are you saying books don’t count? Didn’t Darwin publish a book?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    That is how you interpret it. Others interpret it differently - that the 'days' were literal 24 hour durations. What makes you right and them wrong? Nothing really. It's all about interpretation. Which is the whole problem. Nowhere in the Genesis does it clarify how long these events took.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Which is the best model? Certainly not evolution. There is no proof and the odds are enormously against it. The Day-Age interpretation fits the facts much better than evolution. Science is all about using the best theory. This is no different.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    No it doesn't! Why on Earth (pun intended)would it require a near infinite amount of time?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Because of the time to do billionsXbillions of mutations.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The order is not correct at all - it places the Earth as having been made before the Sun,
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “Heavens and earth.” Heavens is first! What don’t you understand. Or are you just repeating an argument you don’t understand?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    But if you cling to a book which you claim to be inerrant,
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I never said it was inerrant. I just said it was the best.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    So you could try claiming the book was just being poetic and using metaphor, you could try claiming the evidence is false, or you could simply ignore it.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I don’t have to because it is more accurate then evolution. Again you do not understand my argument.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    In what passage in the Bible does it claim anything like this occurred?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    First was created the heavens and the earth. Later the sun and moon became visible. That was because of the coverage of the earth of debris from the late heavy bombardment.

    ReplyDelete
  179. Peter -

    "Obviously false. Tell me the exact position and mass of every particle in the universe 15 seconds ago."

    ??? Obviously I can't do that. But I wasn't claiming I could. I was claiming that I believe everything has a cause and explanation which is entirely natural, even if we don't know precisely what it is yet.

    "Evolution says that all creatures evolve from one species to another. While the experiment you quoted shows a minor change in a creature, it does not show it evolving into a new creature. It is still a bacteria."

    You are so close... and yet so far away. ALL changes start off as minor changes! The only missing element is more time - lots more time.

    Perhaps this link will help, please take ten minutes to give it your full attention. I promise it will be well worth it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEtnyx0Yo9I


    "Not to a scientist who can alter dna. If random changes in DNA produce evolution in classes then a scientist must replicate that in an experiment, otherwise no proof of evolution."

    Errrrr, no. That's ridiculous. You're asking a scientist to MANUALLY alter a creature's DNA in order to show that it happens NATURALLY? How does that even make sense?

    "He publishes books. Are you saying books don’t count? Didn’t Darwin publish a book?"

    They certainly do not count. Anyone can publish books. Publishers do not care how accurate books are, they care about whether books will be profitable. There is no standard of accuracy needed to publish a book.

    Articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, on the other hand, are a completely different kettle of fish. THIS is where real scientists publish their findings with deetailed accounts of their experiments and results for fellow scientists to scrutinize and pull apart at their leisure. A prolific scientist can write a dozen articles a year.

    Michael Behe's scientific productivity in general has absolutely nose-dived since he started advocating Intlligent Design. He has not produced a single article in a scientific journal for peer review explaining, documenting or demonstrating Irreducible Complexity - despite the fact that it is his very own idea!

    The pattern for Creationism and Intelligent Design is to totally by-pass the scientific community and head straight for the (generally shockingly scientifically-illiterate) masses. Instead of communicating with other scientists through scientific journals and producing experiments to be repeated and critically analysed, ID and Creationism proponents typically go straight to giving talks at churches, campaigning among the people and publishing non-peer-reviewed books and editorials for friendly media outlets. They are going straight to the public (who are often ill-qualified to judge the facts of the case for themselves) in what seems to be an appeal for popularity in the absence of scientific legitimacy.

    This is not how real scientists operate. They perform scientific research and experiments. They publish articles in peer-reviewed sceince journals. They talk amoung people qualified to understand their conclusions and judge their worth for themsleves.

    ID is a religious idea serving political ends. But it is not science. At least, not in the way it is often actually practised.

    ReplyDelete
  180. "Which is the best model? Certainly not evolution. There is no proof and the odds are enormously against it. The Day-Age interpretation fits the facts much better than evolution. Science is all about using the best theory. This is no different."

    Science IS about using the best theory. That one is correct. But you are wrong that yours is the best theory. There is NEVER proof for any sceintific theory. But there is evidence. Lots and lots of evidence. Evolution is as solid and well-evidenced a theory as any in the whole of science.

    "Because of the time to do billionsXbillions of mutations."

    We have enough time to account for those billions of mutations!

    "“Heavens and earth.” Heavens is first! What don’t you understand. Or are you just repeating an argument you don’t understand?"

    "First was created the heavens and the earth. Later the sun and moon became visible. That was because of the coverage of the earth of debris from the late heavy bombardment."

    Woah there! The sun, along with the stars and moon, was created on the fourth day!

    "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also." Gen 1:16

    It says God MADE them. No that they 'became visible after a bombardment'. (who might they become visible to, exactly, bearing in mind there was as yet no people and no animals on the Earth?) Can't you see you are reading far too much into this which simply isn't there? It specifically says God MADE the Sun on the fourth day, and it does not mention a bombardment at all. That is an explanation your are getting from your own interpretation.

    "I never said it was inerrant. I just said it was the best."

    It is clearly neither. But if the Bible is not inerrant, what reason do we have to trust ANY of it? It's just a book. NOT a scientific theory.

    ReplyDelete
  181. Ritchie,

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I believe naturalism is CAPABLE of explaining everything. I believe naturalism is CAPABLE of explaining everything.

    I was claiming that I believe everything has a cause and explanation which is entirely natural, even if we don't know precisely what it is yet.

    There is NEVER proof for any sceintific theory. - an obvious contradiction
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    If naturalism is capable of explaning everything then why can't you ever answer my question? It is because naturalism can not explain it because of the Heizenberg uncertainty princple. This natural law contradicts your claim that naturalism can explain everything. Quite ironic if you understood this, but you don't.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The only missing element is more time - lots more time.We have enough time to account for those billions of mutations!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    How do you know this? It has never been experimentally verified. This is an assumption based on religion as Cornelius has oft repeated. But I guess you can not understand that either.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    That's ridiculous. You're asking a scientist to MANUALLY alter a creature's DNA in order to show that it happens NATURALLY? How does that even make sense?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    It is called an experiment which is impossible for evolutionists because their theory is false.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The pattern for Creationism and Intelligent Design is to totally by-pass the scientific community and head straight for the (generally shockingly scientifically-illiterate) masses.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    You are completely ignorant of the fact of scientific censorship of ID. Try reading about Steven Meyer and how his editor got fired for publishing an ID paper. You have no idea of the facts.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Woah there! The sun, along with the stars and moon, was created on the fourth day!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    You read the Bible! I have to give you credit for objective analysis. When reading the Bible one has to be careful which version you use. There are several written for different readers, some more accurate, some intended for the less educated. The King James version is the best English translation because it is the closest to the origin Hebrew. The Hebrew says:

    'And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.'

    What is missing in this sentence is the word created which is used in Gen 1:1. This means that the Sun and the moon became visible on day 4, but were not created then. The subtlety of this translation was lost on the modern translator because he most likely was unaware of the science.

    The Bible, properly interpreted is remarkable correct, much more than could possibly be expected from a document written thousands of years ago. The writer must have know through divine inspiration. This explanation is better in many points than evolution.

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  182. Peter -

    "If naturalism is capable of explaning everything then why can't you ever answer my question?"

    Which question?

    The one about the exact position and mass of every particle in the universe 15 seconds ago. Because I don't have the data available. I simply don't KNOW the exact position and mass of every particle. But that doesn't mean I CAN'T. Declaring something unknown is not to declare it impossible to know!

    "It is because naturalism can not explain it because of the Heizenberg uncertainty princple."

    Now you are stepping into the realm of quantum mechanics. The one thing anyone needs to know about quantum mechanics is that it is ridiculously complicated. A famous truism is that if you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don't REALLY understand quantum mechanics.

    "How do you know this? It has never been experimentally verified. This is an assumption based on religion as Cornelius has oft repeated. But I guess you can not understand that either."

    I know it because we have fossils of bacteria collonies going back billions of years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil#Earliest_fossiliferous_sites

    Ta-dah! There's evidence for you. And if there's evidence, then my belief that life dates back billions of years isbased on evidence, not on blind faith. Which means it is not religious. Understand that?

    "It is called an experiment which is impossible for evolutionists because their theory is false."

    No, it is an experiment which biologists WOULDN'T do because it is so laughably ridiculous.

    Talk me through this experiment just in case there's something I'm missing... You want to to take two samples of the same species, MANUALLY change the DNA in one, and then see if the two are genetically different...??!?!!!?!

    THEY WILL BE!! BECAUSE YOU'VE CHANGED THE DNA IN ONE OF THEM!!!!

    "You are completely ignorant of the fact of scientific censorship of ID. Try reading about Steven Meyer and how his editor got fired for publishing an ID paper."

    For one thing, that paper was a literature review which presented no new data. For another the editor, Richard Sternberg, was fired because, in the words of the Council of the Biological Society of Washington:

    '...the paper was published without review by any associate editor; Sternberg handled the entire review process. The Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, and the associate editors would have deemed the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings because the subject matter represents such a significant departure from the nearly purely systematic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 122-year history.'

    In other words, Sternberg by-passed the process of peer-review. Which is gross mal-practice for an editor of a scientific journal. Do not be swayed the the claims ot ID-ers who call 'conspiracy'. The journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington was simply refusing to let Sternberg BREAK the rules.

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  183. "When reading the Bible one has to be careful which version you use."

    Well that's a massive elephant trp for a start. Some translations are more accurate than others? How do you decide between them? By choosing the one that can be most easily interpreted to look like it fits the facts?

    "The King James version is the best English translation because it is the closest to the origin Hebrew."

    Well that's good, because I was quoting from the King James version. The thing is, you were quoting a different verse. You just quoted Gen 1:15 while I was quoting Gen 1:16, which clearly says God MADE them. Not that they because visible.

    "The Bible, properly interpreted is remarkable correct,"

    The key words here are 'properly interpreted'. What good is a book which needs interpretation? Why couldn't the Bible writers have just given us the truth and facts which don't need interpretation? 'Properly interpreted' Oliver Twist can be a metaphor for creation - or whatever else you like.

    Moreover, if the Bible needs 'proper interpretation', then we have no reason to take any of it as true. Maybe, Jesus was not a real person, but the gospels are merely poetic references to God's benevolent and self-sacrificial nature (or whatever), and you just aren't 'interpreting' it correctly.

    "The writer must have know through divine inspiration."

    Please show me an example of a single thing which a writer of the Bible MUST have known through divine inspiration. To my knowledge there is absolutely nothing in there which was not known/believed at the time.

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  184. Ritchie,

    ~~~~~~~~~
    I simply don't KNOW the exact position and mass of every particle. But that doesn't mean I CAN'T. Declaring something unknown is not to declare it impossible to know!
    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Besides not understanding evolution, you don't understand basic physics. It is impossible to know the mass and position of a particle. That is a law of physics. You can not claim it is knowable when science has proven it to be true, but then you do not understand proof in the slightest either.


    ~~~~~~~~~~
    No, it is an experiment which biologists WOULDN'T do because it is so laughably ridiculous.
    ~~~~~~~~~~

    I am glad you understand that there is no proof of evolution from one species to another.

    ~~~~~~~~~~
    In other words, Sternberg by-passed the process of peer-review. Which is gross mal-practice for an editor of a scientific journal. Do not be swayed the the claims ot ID-ers who call 'conspiracy'. The journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington was simply refusing to let Sternberg BREAK the rules.
    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Take a reality pill. People don't get fired for slight variations in policy. They get fired for publicizing ID, period.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~
    I was quoting Gen 1:16, which clearly says God MADE them. Not that they because visible.
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    Gen 1:16 uses the Hebrew word 'aw-saw' which means 'to do' or 'to affect.' This is different from 'Bara' 'to create' in Gen 1:1. The original language is always the best source when interpreting the Bible. While the King James is usually considered the best, in this case the interpreters did not understand why two different words were used in the original Hebrew because they used the same word for both.


    ~~~~~~~~~~
    Moreover, if the Bible needs 'proper interpretation', then we have no reason to take any of it as true.
    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Everything need proper interpretation, science, human communication. Everything we do is fallible. That does not mean we should not strive for the best understanding.

    ~~~~~~~~~
    Please show me an example of a single thing which a writer of the Bible MUST have known through divine inspiration. To my knowledge there is absolutely nothing in there which was not known/believed at the time.
    ~~~~~~~~

    You have quoted the other creation stories. Compare the accuracy with modern science. How did the Bible writers know that the sea creatures were created before the land animals? How did they know that first the earth was covered with water and then the land formed? They certainly were not there then so how could they have known? etc.

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  185. Peter -

    "Besides not understanding evolution, you don't understand basic physics. It is impossible to know the mass and position of a particle. That is a law of physics. You can not claim it is knowable when science has proven it to be true, but then you do not understand proof in the slightest either."

    I understand proof perfectly, thank you. Though I didn't know that it is impossible to know both the mass and position of a particle. On that point I'll bow to you. It seems you are right. Although I have to admit, it seems that you are the one facing the problem here.

    You claim that this is an example that we cannot rely on naturalism in science? Yet physics still DOES rely on it. The fact that we cannot know both the mass and position of a particle is not, as you seem to think, evidence that naturalism is flawed and a valid reason to turn to supernatural explanations. The reason why we cannot know both the mass and position of a particle IS naturalistic, not supernaturalistic. Sound complicated? Well, quantum mechanics is.

    "I am glad you understand that there is no proof of evolution from one species to another."

    You are obviously willfully ignoring what I am saying. That was not my point at all. My point was that the experiment you suggest would prove nothing. That is because it is a stupid idea for an experiment. Not because there is any flaw with the idea of evolution.

    Though since you raise the point, no there is not ABSOLUTE PROOF of evolution - because science does not provide absolute proof of anything. There is however a VAST deal of evidence supporting it.

    "Take a reality pill. People don't get fired for slight variations in policy. They get fired for publicizing ID, period."

    You sound like an utterly ridiculous conspiracy theorist.

    Generally speaking, science welcomes new and revolutionary theories. It always has. Established theories are constantly being re-examined in the light of new evidence to check whether they can be falsified. Everything is constantly held up to scrutiny. And if a new theory comes along which is a better explanation of the evidence, it is keenly embraced. If new theories were suppressed, science would never do any of the progressing which is a key characteristic of science. Claims that scientists 'bully ID advocates' are merely infantile bleats from ID-ers who do not understand why their religious dogma fails to qualify as science.

    If ID were a legitimate scientific theory which met evolution on legitimate scientific grounds (that is, a discussion of the EVIDENCE) then there would be no issue. As it is, ID is simply not a scientific theory. If you doubt this, I suggest you try to think of a single hypothetical piece of evidence which could POSSIBLY falsify ID. I'm quite certain you will think of none.

    This is because ID is not a scientific theory. It makes no predictions. It is not falsifiable. It simply looks at all the evidence WHATEVER THE EVIDENCE MAY BE and says 'a divine creator created the world this way.' That is not science. And attempts to smuggle it in to the realm of scientific discourse when it so plainly fails as science on so many levels are dishonest, duplicitous and grossly unjust.

    The whole notion of an establishment fiercely and blindly defending its own dogma as truth and zealously suppressing new and contrary ideas has far more in common with the way religion works. Not science.

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  186. "Gen 1:16 uses the Hebrew word 'aw-saw' which means 'to do' or 'to affect.' This is different from 'Bara' 'to create' in Gen 1:1. The original language is always the best source when interpreting the Bible. While the King James is usually considered the best, in this case the interpreters did not understand why two different words were used in the original Hebrew because they used the same word for both."

    The following link defines 'aw-saw' as 'to do or make'

    http://scripturetext.com/genesis/1-16.htm

    This word 'aw-saw' is also used when it says,

    "God made [aw-saw] the expanse, and separated the waters" (Gen 1:7)

    "God made [aw-saw] the beasts of the earth after their kind," (Gen 1:25)

    "Then God said, "Let Us make [aw-saw] man in Our image, according to Our likeness;" (Gen 1:26)

    Are you going to claim the word more accurately translates to 'became visible' in these examples too?

    Moreover, what is your basis for claiming the interpreters did not understand why two different words were used in the original Hebrew? Are you just making this up as an excuse to explain away a Biblical inaccuracy?

    "Everything need proper interpretation, science, human communication. Everything we do is fallible. That does not mean we should not strive for the best understanding."

    Whilst this may be true in some abstract philosophical sense, you must see that this is a ridiculous line of argument here? A text book does not need interpretation. It states facts plainly and simply. This is a far cry from giving a jumbled story which taken at face value is impossible for many reasons, but may be rescued from inerrancy only by interpreting it to make it seem possible.

    Why couldn't the Bible have simply laid out the facts of how the Earth was formed. Because the account in Genesis obviously falls massively short.

    "You have quoted the other creation stories. Compare the accuracy with modern science."

    I don't think any of them are accurate. I think they are all stories. I suppose the Chinese one is the closest any of them gets to the Big Bang. None of the others, including the Biblical account mentions anything equivalent to this.

    "How did the Bible writers know that the sea creatures were created before the land animals?"

    When you make several guesses, it is not surprising if one or two of them turn out to be right. They could have listed the land and sea animals the right way round, or the wrong way round. The odds are fifty-fifty. So it's not really impressive that they got one right. Especially considering they got several other guesses wrong - they put flowers before animals, whales and birds before reptiles and insects, and the Earth before the Sun. All of which are wrong.

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  187. Joe:

    ====================================
    It is clear that, while you want to place creationism and Design work on the same footing as evolutionary biology ...

    Here's one recent statement you made on another thread: ...
    ====================================

    Well there's a difference between defending design and trying to place it on the same footing as evolutionary biology. This could be a very long discussion, but suffice it to say that it seems to me they are very different kinds of theories. I've never thought design should be taught in our public school science courses, for instance. People say many misguided and erroneous things about design. I think it makes sense to clarify those issues, but that doesn't mean I'm arguing for equal footing. Here's an example of such a erroneous statement in your next paragraph:

    ===================================
    I guess it's Silly Season. But I should not detain you as you need to get back to putting in more and more posts complaining about how “evolutionists” [actually, scientists] rule out supernatural explanations. You know, the kind of explanations that creationists are honest enough to acknowledge that they are invoking, and the kind that “design theorists” try hard not to admit that they are invoking.
    ===================================

    First, I made no such complaint about evolutionists ruling out supernatural explanations. I merely asked for clarification on what they meant. Indeed, I've made it clear I think MN is generally a good way to do science. You see, I ask for clarification, and you and others come back with this broad brush, strawman response, blaming me for a position I never took. Is it so you can avoid the question?

    Second, you blame IDs for trying hard not to admit what they are invoking. I'm afraid this is another mischaracterization. We can agree or disagree with ID, but let's at least address what they're actually saying.

    And then this:

    ===================================
    Still waiting to hear how you know that Penny et al. found unexplainably large discrepancies between the trees for different genes. But I'm not holding my breath.
    ===================================

    Actually what I said was that Penny's gene trees showed substantial differences. More generally, species comparisons have many times showed phylogenetic discrepancies that cannot be explained as "process noise." That is not controversial. For example, see:

    http://www.darwinspredictions.com/#_4.2_Genomes_of
    http://www.darwinspredictions.com/#_4.3_Genomes_of

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  188. Ritchie,

    ~~~~~~~~
    I understand proof perfectly, thank you. Though I didn't know that it is impossible to know both the mass and position of a particle. On that point I'll bow to you. It seems you are right. Although I have to admit, it seems that you are the one facing the problem here.

    You claim that this is an example that we cannot rely on naturalism in science? Yet physics still DOES rely on it. The fact that we cannot know both the mass and position of a particle is not, as you seem to think, evidence that naturalism is flawed and a valid reason to turn to supernatural explanations. The reason why we cannot know both the mass and position of a particle IS naturalistic, not supernaturalistic. Sound complicated? Well, quantum mechanics is.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I am facing the problem?? It is I that understand the science or you would not be correctly retracting your claim. That is a big retraction and I commend you for it. I am glad I helped further your education.

    I understand naturalism. I believe it is very useful. However, like Newton's mechanics you have to know the limits of were to apply it.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Though since you raise the point, no there is not ABSOLUTE PROOF of evolution - because science does not provide absolute proof of anything. There is however a VAST deal of evidence supporting it.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I am not asking for absolute proof. I am asking for experimental proof resembling the claim. Claim: all creatures evolve from on into another. Fossil record contradicts this. Biology contradicts this. Statistics contradict this. You are left with one little mutation. That is not even in the ballpark of reasonable proof.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    You sound like an utterly ridiculous conspiracy theorist.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Ad hominin attacks are not rebuttals. Nowhere do you dispute my claim because it is the truth. You should try reading some of Cornelious' blogs that discuss the religious arguments of atheist evolutionists. They are right here at his blog. Did you miss them? Athiest beliefs were the motivation for the firing

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  189. Cornelius --

    You firmly stated in your most recent comment:

    ===================================
    First, I made no such complaint about evolutionists ruling out supernatural explanations. I merely asked for clarification on what they meant. Indeed, I've made it clear I think MN is generally a good way to do science. You see, I ask for clarification, and you and others come back with this broad brush, strawman response, blaming me for a position I never took. Is it so you can avoid the question?
    ===================================

    No, it's just so I can figure out why you said, in your post on December 5 ("Joe Felsenstein: De Novo Genes Trumped by Metaphysics")
    ===================================
    This argument that strictly naturalistic explanations are mandated in the historical sciences traces back to the nineteenth century before Darwin though, as with several of evolution's metaphysical planks, it gained momentum from Darwin's theory as much as it fueled Darwin's theory in the first place.
    ...
    Needless to say this metaphysical sentiment only grew stronger in the twentieth century. Evolutionists, under the guise of science, continued to issue this non scientific mandate for evolution.
    ================================

    I'd agree with your more recent statement -- MN is a pretty good assumption. I'd even say more than that. But then why did you portray it as a "non-scientific mandate" which has been foisted on us primarily by "evolutionists".

    It has been foisted on us by scientists. If there is a way to investigate non-natural phenomena scientifically, I am waiting to hear of it.

    In your December 5 statement you were clearly very unhappy with MN. I hope your more recent statements mean that you have since changed your mind.

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  190. Joe:

    The problem is evolutionists are not careful about explaining (i) what they mean by their MN mandate and (ii) why it is not a metaphysical claim. Indeed, there is a history of non scientific, metaphysical, thought underwriting MN. This is what I pointed out in the Dec. 5 post:

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/12/joe-felsenstein-de-novo-genes-trumped.html

    People laugh at the MN mandate as a not-too-subtle attempt by evolutionists to enforce their metaphysics. But while that probably is true in many cases, I don't think that need be the case. I'm all for MN as a way of doing science, but I'm also mindful that *mandating* MN raises an important question that must be answered. That question is asked here:

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2010/01/question-for-joe-felsenstein-and.html

    But evolutionists resist answering this question. So if I seem to be criticizing MN, it is because there is a history of metaphysics behind it, it seems to persist to this day, and evolutionists don't help any by obstinently refusing to answer this simple, important, question.

    This is where those critics are proved right. When evolutionists refuse to answer this question, it becomes obvious that they are hiding some cards, or at best haven't thought through their MN mandate.

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  191. Cornelius -

    "The problem is evolutionists are not careful about explaining (i) what they mean by their MN mandate and (ii) why it is not a metaphysical claim."

    In answer to your first question, I'd say simply that MN is a necessary assumption to do science. That's it really. If you are not progressing under the assumption of MN, then what you are doing is not science.

    In answer to your second question, it is not a metaphysical claim because it does not insist that no supernatural realm/phemonena exist. Science simply seeks to understand how the world works assuming that miracles don't happen - in effect, there may be a supernatural, but it does not interact with the material world in any detectable way.

    Why does science mandate this? Because if it did not, we could just pose 'a miracle' as the answer to any particular mystery. Which automatically kills investigation, research and experimentation stone dead.

    "People laugh at the MN mandate as a not-too-subtle attempt by evolutionists to enforce their metaphysics."

    MN is not a metaphysical position.

    "I'm all for MN as a way of doing science, but I'm also mindful that *mandating* MN raises an important question that must be answered."

    How could we possibly do any kind of science without mandating MN?

    "But evolutionists resist answering this question."

    Not evolutionists. Scientists.

    Evolutionists are no more guilty of insisting on MN than scientists who work in any other field, or on any other topic.

    "This is where those critics are proved right. When evolutionists refuse to answer this question, it becomes obvious that they are hiding some cards, or at best haven't thought through their MN mandate."

    But you did receive answers to your question - the first dozen or so posts contain several people's answers.

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  192. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  193. Peter -

    "I am facing the problem?? It is I that understand the science or you would not be correctly retracting your claim."

    You think just because you know a fact that I didn't you therefore understand how science works better than I do?

    "That is a big retraction and I commend you for it. I am glad I helped further your education."

    Not that I want to burst your bubble or anything, but it was not a big admission at all. I do not claim omniscience. There are plenty of facts I don't know. And it is no shame to learn something new.

    "I understand naturalism. I believe it is very useful. However, like Newton's mechanics you have to know the limits of were to apply it."

    This is where you fall. You DON'T know where the limits are. You just assume you do.

    Even here, in the study of quantum mechanics, scientists still apply naturalism! They have to - if they didn't, it wouldn't be science. There are no limits to naturalism as far as science is concerned.

    It seems to me as though you think the fact that we cannot know both the mass and position of a particle is un-/sub-/super- natural? It is not. There will be a NATURAL explanation for this or no explanation at all. If the latter, how are we to distinguish whether it is a mystery we can never solve because we insist on methodological naturalism while the answer is un-/sub-/super natural, and a mystery that has a natural answer and that we WILL solve if we keep working on it?

    Surely only time will tell. That is, only time will tell IF we, as good scientists, assume naturalism and keep trying to work it out. If we scrap MN and declare it a miracle we will never know...

    "I am not asking for absolute proof. I am asking for experimental proof resembling the claim. Claim: all creatures evolve from on into another. Fossil record contradicts this. Biology contradicts this. Statistics contradict this."

    This is unashamed nonsense. The fossil record does not contradict this claim. It verifies it! Biology does not contradict this claim. It verifies it. You seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that the theory of evolution is somehow un-evidenced. It is not. It is as well evidenced as any theory in science.

    "Ad hominin attacks are not rebuttals. Nowhere do you dispute my claim because it is the truth."

    Yes I did dispute your claim - in the paragraphs directly following that sentence you just quote-mined from me.

    "You should try reading some of Cornelious' blogs that discuss the religious arguments of atheist evolutionists. They are right here at his blog. Did you miss them? Athiest beliefs were the motivation for the firing"

    For one thing, why do you trust Cornelius as an informed, impartial source. No offence to our good blog host here, but why do you suppose his accounts of what happened are going to be more insightful/informed than any other? Or is it just because he is saying what you want to believe?

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  194. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    You think just because you know a fact that I didn't you therefore understand how science works better than I do?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Well, yes, that's the way it works. Anyone with high school physics should know about Heizenberg's uncertainty princlple. I take it you don't have that yet.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Not that I want to burst your bubble or anything, but it was not a big admission at all. I do not claim omniscience. There are plenty of facts I don't know. And it is no shame to learn something new.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    A very admirable point of view, and a doorway to learning.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    This is where you fall. You DON'T know where the limits are. You just assume you do.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    No. My point of view is the most complete explanation of all the data. Darwin could not explain the Cambrian explosion. It is only more difficult to explain after 150 years of fossil research. It does however match the description of a creation by God, rapid, complex, and requiring a God-like infusion of information.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    This is unashamed nonsense. The fossil record does not contradict this claim. It verifies it!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I see you have studied as little of paleontology as you have of physics. The greatests scientists ackowledge that the fossil record is almost complete absent of transitional fossils.

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  195. Peter -

    "Well, yes, that's the way it works. Anyone with high school physics should know about Heizenberg's uncertainty princlple."

    Any anyone with high school biology should grasp evolution, but it is becoming clear that you do not.

    "A very admirable point of view, and a doorway to learning."

    Thank you. I hope you would do the same when faced with new information?

    "Darwin could not explain the Cambrian explosion."

    Not true in the slightest. The Cambrian Explosion was a surprise when first discovered, but the theory of evolution is in no way at a loss to account for it. There was a thread on this very topic here a few posts back. I suggest you take a look at that.

    "It does however match the description of a creation by God, rapid, complex, and requiring a God-like infusion of information."

    That explanation would account for ANY CONCEIVABLE pattern of evidence. That does not make the explanation an accurate one - just an untestable one.

    "The greatests scientists ackowledge that the fossil record is almost complete absent of transitional fossils."

    A beautiful example that you do not understand evolution.
    EVERY species is a transitional species - transitional between its ancestors and its descendants (unless it goes extinct. In which case it doesn't have descendants...). The very concept of 'transitional fossils' makes no sense.

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  196. Ritchie,

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Any anyone with high school biology should grasp evolution, but it is becoming clear that you do not.

    Not true in the slightest. The Cambrian Explosion was a surprise when first discovered, but the theory of evolution is in no way at a loss to account for it. There was a thread on this very topic here a few posts back. I suggest you take a look at that.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It is clear that you have not grasped anything on this blog. Cornelius Hunter is THE best evolutionary scientist in the world. He understands the whole field from the most abstract mathematical biology to the philosophical underpinnings of evolution. I do not think you understand anything he has said. You certainly did not understand his blog on the Cambrian explosion as your post clearly indicates.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    That explanation would account for ANY CONCEIVABLE pattern of evidence. That does not make the explanation an accurate one - just an untestable one.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Not in the slightest. If evolution could prove anything then a natural explanation would rule out an extra-natural explanation. No one argues that God pushes the earth around with his hand.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    A beautiful example that you do not understand evolution. EVERY species is a transitional species - transitional between its ancestors and its descendants (unless it goes extinct. In which case it doesn't have descendants...). The very concept of 'transitional fossils' makes no sense.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Original, put completely wrong. No one in evolution has that point of view. I will give you credit for your creativity, but not unfortunately your understanding.

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  197. Peter -

    "It is clear that you have not grasped anything on this blog. Cornelius Hunter is THE best evolutionary scientist in the world."

    Your reverence (and this is the right word, for many reasons) of Cornelius is very touching, but allow me to point out a few howlers the 'best evolutionary scientist in the world' has made in the few short weeks I've been on his blog...

    - The work of Gregor Mendel somehow contradicts that of Darwin.
    - "Today, evolutionists define life as that which evolves." (from the OP of http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2010/01/what-is-evolution-according-to.html)
    - Criticizing 'evolutionists' for mandating methodological naturalism, and describing this practice by calling it 'unscientific).
    - Calling evolution a theory 'unsupported by evidence'.

    All of which (and more) show a tenuous grasp of the theory of evolution which is bordering on embarrassing. The fact that you think he is so amazing is a poor reflection on your own understanding of it too, I'm afraid.

    "Not in the slightest. If evolution could prove anything then a natural explanation would rule out an extra-natural explanation."

    Extra-natural explanations are unscientific. You cannot propose 'God did it' as an explanation because it is untestable and thus, not science.

    "No one argues that God pushes the earth around with his hand."

    Is the idea any crazier than God magicking different species of animals or anatomical features for them up from nothing?

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  198. (cont)

    "Original, put completely wrong. No one in evolution has that point of view. I will give you credit for your creativity, but not unfortunately your understanding."

    You think so? In his book The Greatest Show On Earth, - an entire book devoted to the evidence for evolution - Professor Richard Dawkins, author of a dozen popular science books and several dozen peer-reviewed scientific articles, fellow of the Royal Society, distinguished with the Zoological Society Silver Medal (1989) Faraday Award (1990) and Kistler Prize (2001) to name a mere few awards, Lecturer and Reader of Zoology and Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at no less a university than Oxford, discoverer of at least two key features of modern biology - memes and extended phenotypic effects, and generally one of the most distinguished and prominent biologists of our time, devotes and entire chapter to saying exactly what I have.

    Criticize me for plagiarism if anything. But much as I would like to, I really cannot take the credit for this insightful and intelligent observation of 'transitional species'.

    Not that I'm simply advancing an argument from authority of course. Let's see if I can make my point more obvious...

    The gene pool of a species changes only in tiny degrees. A bit like looking at a wall with red paint at one end, orange paint at the other, but the length of the wall is one long gradual blend from red to orange.

    Asking for a 'transitional species' is like asking for a 'transitional colour'. What you get is gradual changes of shade as slowly but inevitably, one colour gradually becomes the other.

    So it is with animals. Pick any two species of animals in history where one is the direct ancestor of the other, and what you will find is the gradual blending where the ancestor species slowing becomes the descendant species over time.

    For example, we have a rich fossil history of man's evolution from the common ancestor we share with apes. We can lay out the fossils in a line and we see such a gradual blending of features, from ape to man, over time.

    But what Creationists and ID-ers all too often do is insist that each of these specimens is wholly either human or ape, and then still insist that there are no 'transitional fossils' between humans and apes. This would be like looking at tiny points on our red-orange wall, deciding that the specific shade we are examining is either wholly red or wholly orange and then declaring that there are no 'transitional colours' between red and orange.

    Typically, though the Creationists claim such ape-human fossils are either fully ape or fully human, they cannot agree which fossils fall on which side of the divide. Here is a very telling table:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/compare.html

    This total lack of cohesion of opinion is exactly what we would expect from these people if their black-or-white species classification was wrong.

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  199. Ritchie,

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    Your reverence (and this is the right word, for many reasons) of Cornelius is very touching, but allow me to point out a few howlers the 'best evolutionary scientist in the world' has made in the few short weeks I've been on his blog...

    - The work of Gregor Mendel somehow contradicts that of Darwin.
    - "Today, evolutionists define life as that which evolves." (from the OP of http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2010/01/what-is-evolution-according-to.html)
    - Criticizing 'evolutionists' for mandating methodological naturalism, and describing this practice by calling it 'unscientific).
    - Calling evolution a theory 'unsupported by evidence'.

    All of which (and more) show a tenuous grasp of the theory of evolution which is bordering on embarrassing. The fact that you think he is so amazing is a poor reflection on your own understanding of it too, I'm afraid.
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    This shows me that you really don't understand what Cornelius is saying. What makes you more qualified to know about evolution than him. Did you learn more in high school than Cornelius did gettin his Ph.D. and all his years of work experience?

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    Extra-natural explanations are unscientific. You cannot propose 'God did it' as an explanation because it is untestable and thus, not science.
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    As you have discovered from our dialogue that science can not teach you everything. So what is left. We can not know for certain, but reason allows you to come to an understanding of life that is not provable by science. This happens all the time: love is good, happiness is good, etc. So. although science can not prove there is a God, we can still conclude from the creation of the universe, and the abundance of design, and the suitablity of life for us; that God has created life for us and life is very God. It is not science, but it is knowledge, and it is reasonable. It is also well supported by science. After all if there is a God, then God created the universe, the laws of science, and our ability to understand it.

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    You think so? In his book The Greatest Show On Earth, - an entire book devoted to the evidence for evolution - Professor Richard Dawkins
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    I see your problem now. Richard Dawkins is an idiot. He may have degress, but he is still an idiot. Do you remember Karl Marx? He had degrees but all his work was wrong and millions died because of him. Dawkins has no proof of evolution. He is an ardent athiest bending science to prove his point. I saw his youtube video on whale evolution. What a joke. No proof. Just a diagram of similara fossils. He says "Look at the nice similarities." I am paraphasing of course. Anyway, only a moron could force themselves to believe that such an inadequate collection of evidence could prove evolution. If you follow the blind then you will never know were you are going.

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