Home » Christian Darwinism, Darwinism » I don’t get why Christian preachers need to shout out against intelligent design.

I don’t get why Christian preachers need to shout out against intelligent design.

Can someone explain?

A friend directs me to this example, but you needn’t doubt I’d find more.

Who would want this individual managing their stock portfolio?:

If you crunch the numbers in relation to your own birth (i.e. the probability that a particular sperm united with a particular egg multiplied by the probability that your parents met and repeated the calculation back until the beginning of time), you will get a fantastically low probability.

And so? Look – I cannot bring my parents into this (O’Leary, b 1950), because they are still alive.

But let me bring my grandparents, now happily at rest, into it instead: They kept trying and they got what they wanted.

The stats are 9 children on one side and 10 on the other, all born alive, no early deaths. That shows what intelligent design can do.

And if you have a problem with that, call on me only if you want a door slammed in your face for free. No need to go to the local Madam. That would happen here whether you enjoy it or not.

While we are here: Lewis Wolpert? He debated Dembski here.  Holy kazoo! This wouldn’t be the same Wolpert who was
dumbfounded when his son became a Christian?

Naw. Couldn’t be. Ain’t possible that guy’s son knew something his paw didn’t.

Like, Darwinism guarantees that that can’t happen, right?

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56 Responses to I don’t get why Christian preachers need to shout out against intelligent design.

  1. “So what if it’s all enormously complex and improbable? I have heard it said that the probability of the first self-replicating carbon based cell arising on Earth is greater than the number of atoms in the known universe. Fine.”

    Wait, what? That makes life a mathematical and logical impossibility!

    “What the hell, let’s say that it’s TWICE the number of atoms in the known universe. It’s no use ruling out natural events on the arbitrary notion of low probability. You have to compare it with the probability of the alternative you contend is more likely.”

    Again, a mathematical impossibility. Or, he could compare it with the common sense notion that complex things that are known to have been designed have a designer. The universe is a complex thing (moreso than, say, a computer network system) and, logically, requires a designer.

    “See, they show the inner workings of the cell and clearly show its complexity. Scientists in Darwin’s time, in fact, had quite a good understanding of what cells were, and they were not simply “blobs of protoplasm”. This is yet another creationist hoax which is easily debunked.”

    The drawings in question show tadpole-like things in test tubes. Scientists in Darwin’s day had no clue the cell and its components were complex to any degree. Where are the peer-reviewed scientific papers from this time showing how the scientists knew of the cell’s complexity? Where are the scientific books detailing the cell’s complexity from Darwin’s day?

    This is yet another blogger who is easily debunked.

    His last bit refers to where Dr. Dembski teaches. To that, I say non sequitur. If evolution isn’t atheistic philosophy even though Darwin was an agnostic, then intelligent design isn’t religious despite Dr. Dembski being a Christian. One has nothing to do with the other; the theories stand and fall on the evidence at hand.

    Why is Darwinism linked with atheism? Because the most ardent scientist who writes about evolution, Richard Dawkins, is a raging atheist. Scientists such as Dawkins and Steven Weinberg expressly link atheism and evolution. If that is not the case, then please explain it to them.

    Oh, and the questions on the final exam have taken different forms as questions on bulletin boards the Internet over where atheists debate other religious people. “Why won’t God heal amputees” is even a website. If it’s wrong for Dembski to use this on a final exam, then it’s wrong for the atheists to use it as well.

    “Even if Darwin’s theory is completely wrong, even if the evolution of Homo sapiens we observe today is more improbable than the number of atoms in a billion universes that is still not evidence for either design or a designer.”

    No, but then it’s not right to teach evolution in schools if the theory is completely wrong.
    What the blogger is saying is that even if everything he believes in is wrong, he’ll continue to believe in it because God is simply unacceptable. This is not a matter of intelligence. This is a matter of will.

  2. Mrs O’Leary,

    I think your friend is misinformed about the point of view of ‘manicstreetpreacher’. His “About” page makes clear he is a follower of Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens.

  3. waterbear is an obvious troll and is no longer with us.

  4. Honestly Mrs. O’leary, I see little at that site I would define as “Christian”.

  5. In the article linked through “dumbfounded”, Wolpert says:

    I was not upset by his beliefs, as long as they helped him, but the following incident reflects our relationship.

    Matthew came to visit me at work. He was studying Hebrew at the time, the better to understand the Bible. He said he was envious of me, as I was so fortunate. Totally unused to receiving positive remarks from my children, I beamed, and asked what he envied. The reply was: “You are going to die soon, certainly before me.” I was shocked. Why was this so desirable? It was because he was still unhappy and wanted to die so that he could go, as he strongly believed, to heaven. We discussed this and it was clear that his position was totally rational, but he could not, according to the religious rules, take his own life. I had to accept his position, albeit reluctantly, but related the incident to his sister Jessica. A week later I found a note from Matthew on my chair: “Jessica says you think you are going to heaven when you die. We need to talk!” Of course Jessica was mistaken, but Matthew needed to check.

    It seems that Wolpert was more upset that his son’s beliefs were not helping him, than that the son had the beliefs at all.

    On a personal level, I had a friend (brilliant and non-religious, though raised Catholic) whose son also became an evangelical Christian, and it did perplex and hurt him very much, more than Wolpert seems to have experienced.

  6. The stats are 9 children on one side and 10 on the other, all born alive, no early deaths. That shows what intelligent design can do.

    Good for them but it is still the fallacy of selective reporting.

    From the Wikipedia entry on spontaneous abortion:

    Between 10% and 50% of pregnancies end in clinically apparent miscarriage, depending upon the age and health of the pregnant woman.[4] Most miscarriages occur very early in pregnancy, in most cases, they occur so early in the pregnancy that the woman is not even aware that she was pregnant. One study testing hormones for ovulation and pregnancy found that 61.9% of conceptuses were lost prior to 12 weeks, and 91.7% of these losses occurred subclinically, without the knowledge of the once pregnant woman.

    What price intelligent design given that mortality rate?

    Like, Darwinism guarantees that that can’t happen, right?

    Wrong.

    Richard Dawkins wrote, in The Blind Watchmaker:

    An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: “I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.” I can’t help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

    Note that he wrote it was “possible” to become an “intellectually fulfilled atheist” not guaranteed.

  7. Seversky at 5, a person who would believe Wikipedia will believe anything.

    Am I still “Diane” O’Leary? I’d be curious to know.

    I remember many years ago, sitting with another young married woman, hearing such figures re miscarriage quoted.

    We looked at each other and knew from experience that the figures were probably inflated, and effectually false.

    Too many unmarried women of our acquaintance … and what about “Plan B” and all that?

    But today, one must listen to all this stuff respectfully because it is “science.”

    I do not care if Dawkins is an intellectually fulfilled atheist or not. Given his screeds, I must hope not. But it isn’t my business.

    I do not know why some children are not born alive in this world.

    In fact, that same friend later had one child who was not born alive.

    In a green city far away, there is a little room off the nursing station – on the other side of a huge maternity ward – for mothers who have experienced fates worse than bawling babies presented to them when they are three quarters asleep from exhaustion.

    I visited her there. It was too bad, but it doesn’t mean there is no design. Sometimes, a design just does not work as we’d all hoped.

  8. Denyse,

    Did you see my comment to you last night about what is transpiring on Joe Carter’s blog relevant to Catholic theology and evolution? If not, when you have some time, peruse it especially the comments fy someone named R. Hampton.

    http://www.firstthings.com/blo.....mment-6819

    It is nice to have a debate that is polite.

  9. I do not know how Dawkins could ever become a self fulfilled atheist because he has to lie to himself to do so. Dawkins is smart enough to know that there is no evidence for naturalistic evolution especially Darwinian evolution. The interesting question is why he makes his claims.

  10. The logical fallacy cited in the OP is often used in some form as an argument in this forum, and is mind-numbing each time. The old “Someone still wins the lottery…”

    It takes one variation of an event which was, in general, likely, probable, or inevitable due to known behavior or natural law, and observes that specific outcomes occur although individually unlikely.

    It then leaps to the conclusion that events exponentially less likely, without any basis in natural laws, usually never having been observed in all of history, are reasonable explanations.

    In other words, if human parents can produce a genetically improbable human child (as all of use were) then surely they could also produce a unicorn or a cold fusion reactor. Presto! Improbability (and therefore probability) no longer mean anything. The implications for others sciences (which don’t usually assume the astronomically unlikely without ruling out everything else) are astonishing.

  11. Denyse,

    At the Joe Clarke site, you are cited by one of the commenters on her blog. Her name is Kay Carlson and her comment is the current last comment there. Her blog which mentions you is

    http://womanatwell.blogspot.com/

  12. ScottAndrews: In other words, if human parents can produce a genetically improbable human child (as all of use were) then surely they could also produce a unicorn or a cold fusion reactor.

    It’s not an assertion that unicorns could be due to chance.

    It is simply an illustration of a common fallacy. If you shuffle two decks and deal out the cards, the chance of that particular arrangement (10^-166) is beyond the so-called Universal Probability Bound. The fallacy is to argue that this means the arrangement couldn’t be due to chance, and therefore must be due to design.

  13. Well, I always say, if probability means nothing, why did our provincial premier (province of Ontario, Canada – not one of the world’s breeding grounds for excessively rash people – fire the prez and the entire board of directors of our local lottery corporation, because of inability to control non-probable statistical results?

    Look, I make no accusations. I have none to make. I don’t buy tickets, do not recommend that anyone buy tickets, do not care whether anyone does, and do not know what happened.

    I do say this: If THAT guy fired all those people, you can be sure that there is such a thing as statistical improbability, and it surely applies to origin of life. And a lot of other issues related to life as well.

  14. If you crunch the numbers in relation to your own birth (i.e. the probability that a particular sperm united with a particular egg multiplied by the probability that your parents met and repeated the calculation back until the beginning of time), you will get a fantastically low probability.

    I don’t get this. That egg and that sperm must have met, so the probability is 1. Your parents must have met, so the probability is 1. You’re here, so the probability of your being here is 1.

  15. What price intelligent design given that mortality rate?

    But this is exactly what we would expect from natural selection, right?

  16. If you shuffle two decks and deal out the cards, the chance of that particular arrangement (10^-166) is beyond the so-called Universal Probability Bound. The fallacy is to argue that this means the arrangement couldn’t be due to chance, and therefore must be due to design.

    Now I know that you haven’t really read about this. I’ve never heard anyone make that argument regarding unspecified complexity.
    Try showing that trick to your friends. Deal 104 cards ordered by suit and face, and then ask your friends whether the cards were previously ordered or shuffled.
    Only a Darwinist would conclude without a doubt that the cards were shuffled. After all, every combination is unlikely. Poof! Astronomical odds, gone!
    But no rational thinker would accept that explanation, ever. They would accept not knowing how the cards got ordered rather than embrace what they know to be nonsense.

  17. I like Mung’s answer even better. The probability of dealing 104 cards and getting an arrangement isn’t 10^-166. It’s 1.
    I’ve never heard ID applied to show that an event with a probability of 1 was intentional.

  18. Mung: That egg and that sperm must have met, so the probability is 1. Your parents must have met, so the probability is 1. You’re here, so the probability of your being here is 1.

    Of course, in retrospect. But not before the fact. If we assume each mating is predestined, there are still several million sperm per coupling. After several generations, the chance of any *particular* line of descent is negligible.

    This is a common confusion when attempting to calculate, for instance, the probability of a particular line of descent leading from the genomes of primitive apes to humans.

    ScottAndrews: Now I know that you haven’t really read about this.

    The shuffled deck fallacy was recently presented on this forum (Human evolution: Ardipithecus, humans, and chimps) concerning the differences due to *neutral* mutations leading from primitive apes to humans. Only by considering humans to be predestined in precisely in their current configuration is this an appropriate calculation. Even individual humans vary considerably, and evolution could have followed many paths.

  19. ScottAndrews: I’ve never heard ID applied to show that an event with a probability of 1 was intentional.

    Again, that’s not the argument. Humans exist with probability of one, but the neutral differences between humans and primitive apes, which are most of the differences, are just like a random deal of cards. The fallacy is multiplying a bunch of numbers and saying it’s too improbable to have just happened by chance, it must be design.

  20. In other words, if we start from the assumption that primitive apes can or will evolve via random change into something entirely different, then humans are just one of the things into which they might evolve, just as one hand of cards is just as likely as next.

    Your argument cleverly disguises the assumption that such random evolution is possible. If that assumption were true, it would be difficult to disagree with you.

    Further, you have framed it by limiting it to ape-to-human evolution, which is much easier to swallow for someone who’s seen a few caveman-to-human depictions. But in reality we’re talking about single cell to human evolution, and, by extension, dead chemicals to human evolution.

    If we start from the assumption that such unguided evolution is inevitable or even possible, then yes, any outcome, including humans, is generally just as likely as the next.

    That’s quite a big assumption, without which the rest is even more conjecture. It hardly seems worth giving serious thought to other than to highlight its absurdity.

  21. ScottAndrews: In other words, if we start from the assumption that primitive apes …

    We have knowledge that primitive apes diverged into different lineages. But in this case, the calculation (not ours!) assumed evolutionary descent. (Of course, not all changes are random. Selection is essential to adaptation, but we can leave that aside for now.)

    ScottAndrews: … can or will evolve via random change into something entirely different, then humans are just one of the things into which they might evolve, just as one hand of cards is just as likely as next.

    But the calculation (not ours!) assumed evolutionary descent, that most of the changes were neutral, and that humans were the only possible result. In fact, not only is there a great spread in human genomes, but there is a great spread in known lineages.

    ScottAndrews: Your argument cleverly disguises the assumption that such random evolution is possible.

    The argument was to show by contradiction that the assumption was false, but the argument was specious.

    Indeed, there’s the argument again!

    Pierre-Paul Grassé, Daydreaming, and Darwinian Depression

  22. O’Leary @ 7

    Seversky at 5, a person who would believe Wikipedia will believe anything.

    Wikipedia is unreliable but it is useful as a pointer towards more authoritative sources.

    I remember many years ago, sitting with another young married woman, hearing such figures re miscarriage quoted.

    We looked at each other and knew from experience that the figures were probably inflated, and effectually false.

    Poassibly, but the more interesting figure was the estimate of how many conceptuses abort spontaneously before the women are even aware they are pregnant. Not surprisingly, it is a very difficult area from which to get reliable data, but if the mortality rate is as high as that study suggests, then this is a very wasteful process.

    Sometimes, a design just does not work as we’d all hoped.

    That is certainly true – of human design. The problem is that, as far as we know, we did not design these biological structures which ID proposes were designed, someone or something else did.

    We can certainly speculate about extraterrestrial intelligences visiting the Earth in the distant past and ‘seeding’ it with life or its precursors. Perhaps they simply went away after having set things in motion and left evolution to take its course. That would certainly account for the waste and suffering.

    However, as an explanation, it unlikely to satisfy many people for two reasons. First, although it explains how life started on Earth, it still tells us nothing about how life itself originated. Second, it will not appeal to those who believe that humanity is the pinnacle of God’s creative efforts.

    Perhaps this is why Christian preachers cry out against Intelligent Design?

  23. Zachriel,

    Your reasoning is fallacious. You assume that starting with apes and adding millions of years, the possible outcomes are heavily laden with big-brained creatures that compose music and sequence their own DNA, whether or not they are specifically human.

    Going back to the example of the cards, we don’t need to assume that the only meaningful outcome is one specific order. You could spend a lifetime designating additional “meaningful” arrangements without significantly increasing the odds of matching one.

    Unless you can demonstrate that selection of random changes can effect such changes as turning a dumb ape into a creature so advanced that it literally doesn’t know what to do with its own brain, then the odds are all you have, and they don’t make a credible argument.

  24. ScottAndrews: Your reasoning is fallacious. You assume that starting with apes and adding millions of years, the possible outcomes are heavily laden with big-brained creatures that compose music and sequence their own DNA, whether or not they are specifically human.

    That is precisely contrary to the correct assumption. Humans or other music-composing organisms are far from certain, as can be easily seen from the pattern of evolutionary descent, which is typically a branching process with most lines going extinct.

    There is a strong trend in hominid evolution towards larger brains, so there is obviously some selection involved. But this affects comparatively few genes, and the assumption was that most changes were neutral.

    ScottAndrews: Unless you can demonstrate that selection of random changes can effect such changes as turning a dumb ape into a creature so advanced that it literally doesn’t know what to do with its own brain, then the odds are all you have, and they don’t make a credible argument.

    That wasn’t the argument being raised. The argument was the typical Big Exponent Argument, that the odds so calculated: 10^-70,000, which are consistent with the assumption that a singular result must occur. Even if we assume humans are inevitable, many of those changes have no phenotypic effect.

    Human evolution: Ardipithecus, humans, and chimps

  25. That is precisely contrary to the correct assumption. Humans or other music-composing organisms are far from certain

    An understatement, but acknowledging it is a start.

    There is a strong trend in hominid evolution towards larger brains, so there is obviously some selection involved.

    You have absolutely no idea whether selection produces larger brain sizes. Rather, you observe them appearing to get larger and filter it through your assumption that selection is responsible for everything.

  26. Zachriel: There is a strong trend in hominid evolution towards larger brains, so there is obviously some selection involved.

    ScottAndrews: You have absolutely no idea whether selection produces larger brain sizes.

    Of course we have some idea. We can durectly observe natural selection, measure its rate, compare it to rates of neutral mutation. We can then compare this to the historical record, which is replete with the type of incremental change expected by an evolutionary process.

    ScottAndrews: Rather, you observe them appearing to get larger and filter it through your assumption that selection is responsible for everything.

    A hypothesis is a tentative scientific assumption made for the purposes of devising empirical tests of the entailed consequences of that assumption. For instance, the observed rates of evolution due to natural selection must be at least as great as the rates observed in the historical record.

  27. We can durectly observe natural selection, measure its rate, compare it to rates of neutral mutation. We can then compare this to the historical record, which is replete with the type of incremental change expected by an evolutionary process.

    So “the rate of natural selection” is the same across all species in all environments.

    I’m still trying to fight my way off the “needs to be moderated” list, so I am taking a chance here, but frankly, this is pure unadulterated BS.

  28. Zachriel:
    For instance, the observed rates of evolution due to natural selection must be at least as great as the rates observed in the historical record.

    There are no cases in which you can measure the changes in hominid brain size due to natural selection. When has there ever been a change in hominid brain size that you could attribute to natural selection?
    If natural selection is the scientific explanation, then explain what selective pressures led to increased brain size without resorting to conjecture. What selective pressures were observed to cause the increase in brain size?
    A hypothesis is a tentative scientific assumption made for the purposes of devising empirical tests
    Let’s stick to that, then. Too many people have already been confused by having hypotheses presented to them as something more.

  29. Seversky:

    First, although it explains how life started on Earth, it still tells us nothing about how life itself originated.

    That is where we start Seversky.

    We start with what we can observe.

    We can observe living organisms on this planet.

    Therefor science is restricted to figuring out how it got here- period.

    That would certainly account for the waste and suffering.

    The Fall from Grace does that too, as does random effects to a once good design.

  30. Zachriel is still blathering on about hypothesses yet his position doesn’t offer one based on the proposed mechanisms.

    That is because there is no way to predict what will be selected at any point in time and there is no way to predict what mutation will occur at any point in time- meaning no predictive power.

  31. Joseph: That is because there is no way to predict what will be selected at any point in time …

    Of course we can. A simple method is by exposing bacteria to antibiotics and then showing that some have heritable traits that provide resistance to the antibiotics. We can also show this in nature as many moulds produce antibiotics as a defense mechanism. (That’s how Alexander Fleming discovered antibiotics.)

    Joseph: … and there is no way to predict what mutation will occur at any point in time- meaning no predictive power.

    In 1952, the Lederbergs provided an easily replicable method demonstrating that at least some mutations are random with respect to fitness.

  32. Zachriel,

    Natural selection seems like a plausible explanation for antibiotic resistance.
    When molds produce antibiotics as a defense mechanism, is that the result of natural selection?
    When hominid brains grow larger over time, is that the result of natural selection?
    We seem trapped in this circular logic. Morphological changes are caused by natural selection. We know that because living things change over time as a result of natural selection.
    This is rather important, as this concept is occasionally called the ‘cornerstone of biology.’ By what observation have we determined that natural selection is the cause of morphological changes such as increasing hominid brain size?
    It appears that this could be an assumption so deeply ingrained in our way of thinking that it looks like an answer for everything whether or not it’s accurate.

  33. Mung: So “the rate of natural selection” is the same across all species in all environments.

    No. A classic study was by Peter and Rosemary Grant who spent decades observing generations of finches on the Galápagos island, Daphne Major. Rates of evolution varied considerably.

  34. Natural Selection is the correlation betweeen heritable traits and differential reproductive potential.

    ScottAndrews: We seem trapped in this circular logic. Morphological changes are caused by natural selection. We know that because living things change over time as a result of natural selection.

    We know it works with antibiotics. We can also measure it directly in organisms such as finches, isolated populations of rodents, or less directly in the evolution of crop plants. We use different methods over different timescales, another example being island colonization. And we can show that rates of change due to selection can be very rapid, much more rapid than required to explain the historical record. (There are other mechanisms involved, of course.)

    As to specific transitions, it can be difficult to determine the particulars. We are, after all, trying to reconstruct historical events. Natural selection is evident when we can show that the trait is adaptive and rapidly evolving.

  35. Natural selection is evident when we can show that the trait is adaptive and rapidly evolving.

    You don’t even see yourself doing it. We see selection because we see change, and change is caused by selection. Circular.

    I get that we see changes in finch beaks. I get that you think selection is the cause. But how has that been determined? I understand that to you it makes perfect sense that the change is due to selection. You understand how you think it might work. That’s your hypothesis.
    Again, what observation supports the conclusion that selection, and not something else, is responsible for the change in the finch beaks, the hominid brain sizes, and the antibiotic-producing mold? Can you answer that without assuming your conclusion?

  36. Mr ScottAndrews,

    Survival is “not dying before reproducing”, and selection is “differential survival due to trait variance”.

    Complaining that survival/selection is tautological is like complaining raindrops/raining is tautological. Each is the relationship of a state of being to an ongoing process.

    The fact that you can construct uninformative little definitional loops such as “raindrops happen when it rains, and rain is raindrops” does not invalidate more elaborate and detailed explanations, or the phenomenon itself. Rain happens.

  37. Zachriel: Natural selection is evident when we can show that the trait is adaptive and rapidly evolving.

    ScottAndrews: We see selection because we see change, and change is caused by selection. Circular.

    It’s not circular at all.

    Natural Selection is the correlation betweeen variations in heritable traits and differential reproductive potential.

    Start with bacteria again. We add antibiotics to a native population. We notice that some live and some die. We take the descendents of the survivors and expose them to antibiotics. We observe they survive. They have inherited the resistance. Hence, there is a correlation between a heritable trait and reproductive potential, a.k.a. Natural Selection.

    ScottAndrews: I get that we see changes in finch beaks. I get that you think selection is the cause. But how has that been determined?

    It’s a fascinating study. The Grants spent decades on Daphne Major. They recorded not only every individual finch, their traits and their genealogy, but all the environmental factors, such as plant life, rainfall, temperature. They demonstrated a link between beak morphology, the availability of different foods, and direct observations of evolution of these populations. They also collected genetic data which allowed them to show that gene expression patterns can account for the observed variations.

    Weiner, The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time, Vintage 1995.

    Abzhanov et al., Bmp4 and Morphological Variation of Beaks in Darwin’s Finches, Science 2004.

    (By the way, this is exactly the kind of science that garners respect. They do more than talk about stuff. They actually spent years observing, collecting data, analyzing, and publishing for their peers to study, criticize, and expand upon their findings.)

  38. Zachriel:

    All of this is built upon yet another assumption, that the source of the variation was random. If the variations in the finches’ beaks that provided improved “fitness” was random, then natural selection is what chooses between the variations.
    If it wasn’t random, then selection is rendered meaningless. More recent research has indicated that organisms sometimes have a limited ability to alter their own morphology in response to environmental changes. How sound, therefore, is the assumption that the selection of random mutations is responsible for the changes to their beaks?
    I respect research, but I don’t enshrine it.
    And it certainly fails to explain more significant enhancements, such as intellects so vast that their bearers rarely find a use for them. Interesting that selection bestows such unnecessary riches on one species while others must be content with variations for cracking open seeds.

  39. Nakashima:
    Complaining that survival/selection is tautological is like complaining raindrops/raining is tautological..

    If you find someone complaining, by all means let them know.

    Zachriel:
    Natural Selection is the correlation betweeen variations in heritable traits and differential reproductive potential.

    It’s not necessarily tautological, but usually is. If the variations in heritable traits are random, then the power is in the selection. If the variations are not random, then the power is in the variations.
    The assumption that most or all variations are random is questionable, and casts a shadow on every logical step that follows from it.
    You appear to be sidestepping all of this and holding to the tautological notion that the reason for any organism’s survival is its selection.

  40. That is because there is no way to predict what will be selected at any point in time

    Zachriel:

    Of course we can. A simple method is by exposing bacteria to antibiotics and then showing that some have heritable traits that provide resistance to the antibiotics. We can also show this in nature as many moulds produce antibiotics as a defense mechanism. (That’s how Alexander Fleming discovered antibiotics.)

    That is artificial selection Zachriel.

    Also there isn’t anything that sez any bacteria in any particular colony will have resistence to the selection pressure.

    Also the PBS series “Evolution” said what I did- that there is no way to predict what will be selected for at any point in time- quoting Dan Dennett.

    and there is no way to predict what mutation will occur at any point in time- meaning no predictive power.

    In 1952, the Lederbergs provided an easily replicable method demonstrating that at least some mutations are random with respect to fitness.

    That has nothing to do with what I said.

    You have a bad habit of responding with stuff that has nothing to do with what you are responding to.

    Do you not realize how idiotic that makes you appear?

  41. Zachriel:

    A classic study was by Peter and Rosemary Grant who spent decades observing generations of finches on the Galápagos island, Daphne Major. Rates of evolution varied considerably.

    Finches “evolving” into finches.

    How does that help your position when it appears to support baraminology?

  42. “Natural selection” can be reduced to- whatever survives to reproduce, survives to reproduce.

    That is because there is never just one reason why some survive and others do not. And there is more than one reason why some reproduce and others do not.

  43. Joseph: Finches “evolving” into finches.

    Actually, we know that Galápagos Finches evolved from a common ancestor into a variety of different behaviors and morphologies like wrens, warblers, even woodpeckers. As the Galápagos Islands are only 5-10 million years old, that allows us to observe the effects of evolution over that time-scale.

  44. Mung: So “the rate of natural selection” is the same across all species in all environments.

    Zachriel: No. A classic study was by Peter and Rosemary Grant who spent decades observing generations of finches on the Galápagos island, Daphne Major. Rates of evolution varied considerably.

    Joseph: Finches “evolving” into finches.

    The question was whether or not rates of evolution vary. They do. For instance, the rate of evolution of antibiotic resistance directly corresponds with exposure to antibiotics. The mutations are random, but the rate of evolution depends on the environment.

  45. The Grants concluded that all the finches were essentially one gene pool that could interbreed with each other. And that it takes over 20 million years to form a population that cannot interbreed. At that rate, Old Sol will have expired before anything interesting could develop.

  46. jerry: The Grants concluded that all the finches were essentially one gene pool that could interbreed with each other.

    The Grants agree with the vast majority of biologists that Galápagos Finches entail more than one species. Though there is some interspecific hybridization, the populations largely maintain distinct gene pools and character traits.

    Grant, Ecology and Evolution of Darwin’s, Princeton University Press 2000.

    The derivation of thirteen or more species on Galápagos from a single ancestral species was the product of repeated splittings of single lineages into two or more non-interbreeding lines of descent.

    Agreement on the occurrence of fourteen species should not be taken to mean the absence of taxonomic problems. Sympatric populations that do not interbreed, or interbreed rarely, are clearly separate species.

  47. Note: The fourteenth Darwin’s Finch species is found on Cocos Island, not the Galápagos. The “or more” refers to possibly extinct species.

  48. Mr ScottAndrews,

    The assumption that most or all variations are random is questionable, and casts a shadow on every logical step that follows from it.

    What evidence do you have to question this?

  49. Zachriel: Natural Selection is the correlation betweeen variations in heritable traits and differential reproductive potential.

    ScottAndrews: It’s not necessarily tautological, but usually is.

    You’re confusing “true” with “tautological.” A correlation between independent variables is not tautological.

    ScottAndrews: The assumption that most or all variations are random is questionable, and casts a shadow on every logical step that follows from it.

    We can show that adaptive mutations are random with respect to fitness in the Lederberg Experiment.

  50. Nakashima:

    Epigenetic inheritance, for one. And the inability of random variation, selected or otherwise, to account for changes that mimic planning and complex problem-solving, for two. And because there’s insufficient evidence to support it, which is way more important than having evidence to question it, for three.

    No one knows why hominid brains got larger. If we can’t admit that, we’re not being intellectually honest.

  51. Zachriel:

    You’re confusing “true” with “tautological.”

    Tautologies are true, whenever they are true. And when they are not true, then they aren’t. But they don’t make a convincing case.

    A correlation between independent variables is not tautological.

    There is no independent observation of the selection of hominid brain sizes. The only independent variable is the brain size itself. When you assume that the larger brain sizes were the result of selection simply because they exist, that is tautological, circular reasoning.
    How many times in this thread alone have you cited variation or evolution as evidence of natural selection? All variations result from selection, because selection causes all variation.

  52. ScottAndrews: Tautologies are true, whenever they are true. And when they are not true, then they aren’t.

    Tautologies are always true.

    ScottAndrews: There is no independent observation of the selection of hominid brain sizes.

    One step at a time. You claimed Natural Selection was tautological. You’ve been provided a non-tautological definition, and examples where we can demonstrate and measure its effects.

  53. Tautologies are always true.

    No wonder you’re so certain.

    I don’t believe that the concept of natural selection is inherently tautological. If a rat is born with no pigmentation, it has a greater chance of dying before reproducing. It works well when the specific change is observable and the consequence is understood.

    There is no established connection between variation and selection and any significant morphological change, including the increase in hominid brain sizes. Yet we hear ad nauseum every life form imaginable attributed to selection, the only evidence being their very existence. They exist, so they were selected, so they exist.

    Perhaps you can extrapolate the change in a finch’s beak to derive every body plan, every innovative feature, and every behavior in every living thing. Then again, you probably went for the fish with fingers, too.

  54. ScottAndrews: I don’t believe that the concept of natural selection is inherently tautological.

    Good. So we have established that we can directly observe Natural Selection, such as in the last few decades in Darwin’s Finches. (Of course, Natural Selection is not the only mechanism in play.)

    From genetic studies, we can confirm that Darwin’s Finches all radiated from a single species; and as the Galápagos Islands are geologically young, that this diversification must have occurred over the last 5-10 million years. They have adapted into a variety of niches normally occupied by finches, wrens, warblers and woodpeckers. The hypothesis is that because these niches were wide open, even minor changes would open up new food sources to the colonizers. In addition, the rates of morphological change required for these adaptations are less than what is directly observed due to Natural Selection. (The Grants documented rates in the tens-of-thousands of darwins.)

  55. (Of course, Natural Selection is not the only mechanism in play.)

    In other words, something happened, we’re not sure what. You’ve just spent several posts ascribing this very small modification to natural selection, only to backtrack by admitting that you don’t really know what caused it.

    But that didn’t stop you from making this statement:

    There is a strong trend in hominid evolution towards larger brains, so there is obviously some selection involved.

    How is it obvious that there is some selection involved, if we don’t start with the unfounded assumption that natural selection is responsible for everything? Or was it one of the other mechanisms that you alluded to but didn’t specify?

  56. Zachriel,

    Galápagos Finches are an example of variation within a Kind- IOW it is perfectly within baraminology.

    As for anti-biotic resistance:

    Is Bacterial Resistance
    to Antibiotics an Appropriate Example of Evolutionary Change?

    Also “evolution” is not being deabted.

    You have been informed of this many times and you still use the equivocation.

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