Home » Culture, Darwinism, News » Tales from the quote mine: Leading Darwinists believe, with or without evidence – and why it matters

Tales from the quote mine: Leading Darwinists believe, with or without evidence – and why it matters

Churning through the quote mine, we note that Richard Dawkins wrote,

Instead of examining the evidence for and against rival theories, I shall adopt a more armchair approach. My argument will be that Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. If I am right it means that, even if there were no actual evidence in favour of the Darwinian theory (there is, of course) we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories – p. 287, Blind Watchmaker

The structure of the current punditocracy prevents anyone from coming to a logical conclusion about what this means, while remaining a favourite of hair model TV. But in In the Beginning, Granville Sewell reminds us (p. 104) that it is hardly an unusual stance:

Olan Hyndman, in The Origin of Life and the Evolution of Living Things , [Hyndman 1952], calls Darwinism “the most irrational and illogical explanation of natural phenomena extant.” Yet he says “I have one strong faith, that scientific phenomena are invariable… any exception is as unthinkable as to maintain that thunderbolts are tossed at us by a man-like god named Zeus,” and he goes on to develop an alternative – and even more illogical – theory (Lamarckian, basically) of the causes of evolution. Jean Rostand [Rostand 1956], quoted in previous chapters, says “However obscure the causes of evolution appear to me to be, I do not doubt for a moment that they are entirely natural.” Hans Gaffron [Gaffron 1960], in a paper presented at the 1959 University of Chicago Centennial Congress Evolution After Darwin, presents a theory on the origin of life, but admits, “no shred of evidence, no single fact whatever, forces us to believe in it. What exists is only the scientists’ wish not to admit a discontinuity in nature and not to assume a creative act forever beyond comprehension.”

We’ve said it before: Darwinism is not a theory in science, it is a mood, in both elite and popular culture.

Elite culture know it is true without evidence, and popular culture feels it is true without evidence – which is why so much beyond-parody evolutionary psychology rolls through the pop science press unchallenged.

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77 Responses to Tales from the quote mine: Leading Darwinists believe, with or without evidence – and why it matters

  1. 1

    Uh, there’s a touch of bait-and-switch here. It’s one thing to say that there are logical reasons to accept one evidence-free explanation over another evidence-free explanation. It’s quite another thing to say that because this is true, a theory for which the evidence is mind-bogglingly extensive and consistent is therefore without evidence!

    Dawkins made the argument that evolution, EVEN IF there were no such evidence, would be preferable because it is CAPABLE of generating and evaluating evidence, whereas competing explanations are inherently incapable of evidential support. Dawkins then goes on to show that, in fact, the evidence on the ground is almost unimaginably extensive anyway. So the distinction here is between explanations that can or can NOT find and rest on evidence.

    As for origin of life, the sense here is that scientists, absent any evidence, are equally uninclined to accept magic as a default “explanation”, and uninclined to simply give up and decide evidence will forever be unavailable (or forever meaningless). Of course, scientists will prefer to look for the sorts of explanations science as an enterprise is constructed to find.

    (And, as always, the a priori assumption that evidence matters has resulted in the accumulation of enormous amounts of consistent evidence in support of both evolution and abiogenesis over the last 50 years since this quote was mined, and the process continues.)

    What scientists take “on faith” is that whether or not you know if something exists, you’re more likely to find it if you look for it.

  2. of note:

    Prof. Granville Sewell on Evolution: In The Beginning and Other Essays on Intelligent Design – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHOnqDNJ0Bc

  3. as to:

    a theory for which the evidence is mind-bogglingly extensive and consistent is therefore without evidence!

    Save for the fact that there is ZERO substantiating evidence for neo-Darwinism, I guess what you said could be true; :)

  4. 4

    You might be polite enough to mention that your claim is resoundingly rejected by tens of thousands of practicing biologists, over the course of a century and a half. Or that this “zero evidence” fills hundreds of journals with thousands of research reports each year. Or that predictions based on this “zero evidence” are ratified with thumping consistency each day.

    When there are disagreements, and well over 99% of the recognized experts in the subject area are on one side of the issue, don’t you think it’s misleading to pretend none of them exist? They might all be wrong, but they are numerous enough, and armed with enough of what they regard as valid evidence, to at least merit a mention!

  5. Dawkins made the argument that evolution, EVEN IF there were no such evidence, would be preferable because it is CAPABLE of generating and evaluating evidence, whereas competing explanations are inherently incapable of evidential support.

    Well…Dawkins was completely wrong, and he was motivated by his ideology to present his claim the way he did – me against nothing, I win.

    However, the remainder of the thinking planet of people (biologist or not) are not constrained by Richard Dawkins or his ideological limits. The simple fact is that the entire biological world is singularly dependent on semiotic information. Richard Dawkins, nor his ideological bretheren, have any explanation for this, so they make statements like “inherently incapable of evidential support.”

    But that is blatantly incorrect Yet, it does serve the purpose. does it not, Mr Gibson?

  6. elephant hurling.

  7. DWG,

    As for origin of life, the sense here is that scientists, absent any evidence, are equally uninclined to accept magic as a default “explanation”

    What aspect of ID disagrees with that? I’ve never heard anyone propose magic. Are you sure you’ve been reading about the same ID?

    And, as always, the a priori assumption that evidence matters has resulted in the accumulation of enormous amounts of consistent evidence in support of both evolution and abiogenesis over the last 50 years

    Leaving evolution aside for the moment, to what evidence do you refer? Leading researchers such as Szostak are endeavoring to synthesize life. If they succeed at their stated goals they will have demonstrated intelligent design, and to demonstrate abiogenesis would face the daunting experience of getting a lifetime of experiments to reproduce without them.

    When someone says that there is 50 years of evidence supporting abiogenesis, the rest is called into question.

    As for evolution, I’ll repeat myself because I’m lazy. There is no account, observed or hypothetical, of any evolutionary event beyond the micro variety, described in terms of proposed mechanisms of evolution.

    In other words, there is not a single case in which anyone says, “Here is what happened,” or even, “Here is what we think might have happened,” unless they omit the actual specifics of how evolution occurs, such as specific variations and specific causes for selection.

    Any documented cases of evolution described in terms of evolutionary mechanisms will be limited to such trivial instances of microevolution as fish changing color or variations no greater than between breeds of dogs.

    If you don’t believe me, try to find the exception.

  8. Well Mr. Gibson, not being the least bit impressed with consensus to establish scientific fact, I will focus instead on what you state here:

    this “zero evidence” fills hundreds of journals with thousands of research reports each year,,,

    Really??? I would have preferred JUST ONE example to counter my claim that there is ZERO substantiating evidence for neo-Darwinism, but since you refer to the entire breadth of neo-Darwinian research, let’s look there for our substantiating evidence:

    notes:

    Where’s the substantiating evidence for neo-Darwinism? One very fishy thing about neo-Darwinism is that the vast majority of mutagenesis experiments have shut down:

    Many of these researchers also raise the question (among others), why — even after inducing literally billions of induced mutations and (further) chromosome rearrangements — all the important mutation breeding programs have come to an end in the Western World instead of eliciting a revolution in plant breeding, either by successive rounds of selective “micromutations” (cumulative selection in the sense of the modern synthesis), or by “larger mutations” … and why the law of recurrent variation is endlessly corroborated by the almost infinite repetition of the spectra of mutant phenotypes in each and any new extensive mutagenesis experiment (as predicted) instead of regularly producing a range of new systematic species…
    (Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, “Mutagenesis in Physalis pubescens L. ssp. floridana: Some Further Research on Dollo’s Law and the Law of Recurrent Variation,” Floriculture and Ornamental Biotechnology Vol. 4 (Special Issue 1): 1-21 (December 2010).)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....42191.html

    Four decades worth of lab results are surveyed here:

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

    Michael Behe talks about the preceding paper in this following podcast:

    Michael Behe: Challenging Darwin, One Peer-Reviewed Paper at a Time – December 2010
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....3_46-08_00

    How about the oft cited example for neo-Darwinism of antibiotic resistance, surely they have substantiating evidence there, shouldn’t they??

    List Of Degraded Molecular Abilities Of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria:
    Excerpt: Resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobials is often claimed to be a clear demonstration of “evolution in a Petri dish.” ,,, all known examples of antibiotic resistance via mutation are inconsistent with the genetic requirements of evolution. These mutations result in the loss of pre-existing cellular systems/activities, such as porins and other transport systems, regulatory systems, enzyme activity, and protein binding.
    http://www.trueorigin.org/bacteria01.asp

    That doesn’t seem to be helping! Hey, how about we look really, really, close at very sensitive growth rates of bacteria and see if we can catch almighty evolution in action???

    Unexpectedly small effects of mutations in bacteria bring new perspectives – November 2010
    Excerpt: Most mutations in the genes of the Salmonella bacterium have a surprisingly small negative impact on bacterial fitness. And this is the case regardless whether they lead to changes in the bacterial proteins or not.,,, using extremely sensitive growth measurements, doctoral candidate Peter Lind showed that most mutations reduced the rate of growth of bacteria by only 0.500 percent. No mutations completely disabled the function of the proteins, and very few had no impact at all. Even more surprising was the fact that mutations that do not change the protein sequence had negative effects similar to those of mutations that led to substitution of amino acids. A possible explanation is that most mutations may have their negative effect by altering mRNA structure, not proteins, as is commonly assumed.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....teria.html

    Shoot,, that doesn’t seem to be helping either! Perhaps we just got to give the almighty power of neo-Darwinism ‘room to breathe’? How about we ‘open the floodgates’ to the almighty power of Darwinian Evolution and look at Lenski’s Long Term Evolution Experiment and see what we can find after 50,000 generations, which is equivalent to somewhere around 1,000,000 years of human evolution???

    Richard Lenski’s Long-Term Evolution Experiments with E. coli and the Origin of New Biological Information – September 2011
    Excerpt: The results of future work aside, so far, during the course of the longest, most open-ended, and most extensive laboratory investigation of bacterial evolution, a number of adaptive mutations have been identified that endow the bacterial strain with greater fitness compared to that of the ancestral strain in the particular growth medium. The goal of Lenski’s research was not to analyze adaptive mutations in terms of gain or loss of function, as is the focus here, but rather to address other longstanding evolutionary questions. Nonetheless, all of the mutations identified to date can readily be classified as either modification-of-function or loss-of-FCT.
    (Michael J. Behe, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution’,” Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 85(4) (December, 2010).)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....51051.html

    Now that just can’t be right!! Man, we should really start to be seeing some neo-Darwinian fireworks by 50,000 generations!?! Hey I know what we can do! How about we see what happened when the ‘top five’ mutations from Lenski’s experiment were combined??? Surely now the Darwinian magic will start flowing!!!

    Mutations : when benefits level off – June 2011 – (Lenski’s e-coli after 50,000 generations)
    Excerpt: After having identified the first five beneficial mutations combined successively and spontaneously in the bacterial population, the scientists generated, from the ancestral bacterial strain, 32 mutant strains exhibiting all of the possible combinations of each of these five mutations. They then noted that the benefit linked to the simultaneous presence of five mutations was less than the sum of the individual benefits conferred by each mutation individually.
    http://www2.cnrs.fr/en/1867.htm?theme1=7

    Now something is going terribly wrong here!!! Tell you what, let’s just forget trying to observe evolution in the lab, I mean it really is kind of cramped in the lab you know, and now let’s REALLY open the floodgates and let’s see what the almighty power of neo-Darwinian evolution can do with the ENTIRE WORLD at its disposal??? Surely now almighty neo-Darwinian evolution will flex its awesomely powerful muscles and forever make those IDiots, who believe in Intelligent Design, cower in terror!!!

    A review of The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism
    The numbers of Plasmodium and HIV in the last 50 years greatly exceeds the total number of mammals since their supposed evolutionary origin (several hundred million years ago), yet little has been achieved by evolution. This suggests that mammals could have “invented” little in their time frame. Behe: ‘Our experience with HIV gives good reason to think that Darwinism doesn’t do much—even with billions of years and all the cells in that world at its disposal’ (p. 155).
    http://creation.com/review-mic.....-evolution

    Michael Behe, The Edge of Evolution, pg. 162 Swine Flu, Viruses, and the Edge of Evolution
    “Indeed, the work on malaria and AIDS demonstrates that after all possible unintelligent processes in the cell–both ones we’ve discovered so far and ones we haven’t–at best extremely limited benefit, since no such process was able to do much of anything. It’s critical to notice that no artificial limitations were placed on the kinds of mutations or processes the microorganisms could undergo in nature. Nothing–neither point mutation, deletion, insertion, gene duplication, transposition, genome duplication, self-organization nor any other process yet undiscovered–was of much use.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....20071.html

    Now, there is something terribly wrong here! After looking high and low and everywhere in between, we can’t seem to find the almighty power of neo-Darwinism anywhere!! Shoot we can’t even find ANY power of neo-Darwinism whatsoever!!! It is as if the whole neo-Darwinian theory, relentlessly sold to the general public as it was the gospel truth, is nothing but a big fat lie!!!

  9. further notes:

    Falsification Of Neo-Darwinism by Quantum Entanglement/Information
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p8AQgqFqiRQwyaF8t1_CKTPQ9duN8FHU9-pV4oBDOVs/edit?hl=en_US

    A few comments on ‘non-local’ epigenetic information implicated in 3-D spatial organization of Body Plans:
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1iNy78O6ZpU8wpFIgkILi85TvhC9mSqzUSE_jzbksoHY

    Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff – video (notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/29895068

    Verse and Music:

    Romans 1:20
    For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

    4-Him – Can’t Get Past The Evidence
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiRQxEOWdDw

  10. 10

    The research is like a big, black storm cloud. It looks formidable from a distance, but the closer you get to it it starts to turn gray and look a lot more harmless.

    There are more thousands of research papers than I can imagine. From time to time someone comes up with a “best of” compilation that’s supposed to be extremely impressive.

    Most commonly they detail genetic or regulatory differences between organisms A and B. The implication is that, having identified the difference, they can now identify how A might have transitioned to B.

    The funny part is that we already knew that A and B were related and likely possess some common genes. We also knew that they were different, and therefore have differing genes.

    Such papers focus on one, maybe two such phenotypic differences, such as varying forelimb lengths between rodents and bats. They almost never attempt to explain a series of incremental changes, or any of other differences as between rodents and bats (behavior, echolocation, other variations necessary for flight.) And selection is always missing, or added on after the fact as a guess.

    I can’t read them all. But whenever someone decides to throw down the gauntlet and post links to research papers, it’s always more of the same. Sure, there’s a mountain of it. So what?

  11. ScottAndrews2

    As for evolution, I’ll repeat myself because I’m lazy. There is no account, observed or hypothetical, of any evolutionary event beyond the micro variety, described in terms of proposed mechanisms of evolution.

    In other words, there is not a single case in which anyone says, “Here is what happened,” or even, “Here is what we think might have happened,” unless they omit the actual specifics of how evolution occurs, such as specific variations and specific causes for selection.

    Any documented cases of evolution described in terms of evolutionary mechanisms will be limited to such trivial instances of microevolution as fish changing color or variations no greater than between breeds of dogs.

    If you don’t believe me, try to find the exception.

    (Cough cough) treehoppers.

    Evidence for the evolution of a completely new body part in treehoppers

    Evidence for the evolution of mimicry in treehoppers

    And as far as dogs go, I’d still love to hear your explanation for the canid genetic data.

    Figure 10: Phylogeny of canid species.

    But if you say no such evidence exists anywhere, I guess we should believe you over those tens of thousands of scientists and millions of research papers.

  12. 12

    My point wasn’t that complicated. It was, to put it simply, that when 99% of the professionals in a field disagree with one’s conclusions, it’s considered honorable to mention this, even if every one of them is considered wrong. If nearly every educational degree granted in a field teaches, is based on, and extends what one claims doesn’t exist in the first place, it’s at least polite to point out that every notable university in the world does so, even if every one of them is dead wrong.

    I understand that this site exists to advocate for a particular viewpoint, and that one technique for doing so is to simply ignore, dismiss, or omit mention of the opposition. My personal reaction is that the way to vanquish an inferior opponent is in direct combat, not by decreeing that the opponent shall not be permitted to enter the field of battle!

    I’m reminded of the comment someone made when Nixon was elected, to the effect that “I just can’t understand how Nixon won. I don’t know a single person who voted for him!” There is a strong sense here of people very very carefully restricting their research to material confirming their preferences, and that their chosen sources are doing exactly the same thing. And as commonly happens with inbreeding, you get some unfortunate side-effects.

    Dawkins does the same thing, and when his preferences are different from yours, this technique becomes both obvious and odious. Dispute resolution procedures apply the same rules to both sides for a reason.

  13. 13

    What aspect of ID disagrees with that? I’ve never heard anyone propose magic. Are you sure you’ve been reading about the same ID?

    Perhaps I have not. My reading of the original post was that biologists would prefer to extrapolate an understood process back through the advent of what might be considered living, rather than posit some sudden discontinuity of process. Evolutionary processes (that is, replication with variation) could have, and probably did, precede life as we know it by millions of years.

    When someone says that there is 50 years of evidence supporting abiogenesis, the rest is called into question.

    Maybe this is missed communication. I regard the abiogenesis research being done as highly indicative, productive, and informative. And to me, this is supportive. I don’t arbitrarily say “if they created life, that counts; if they didn’t, all else is worthless.” Even if they DO end up producing life, this is only “proof of concept”, not any indication of how it actually happened.

    As for evolution, I’ll repeat myself because I’m lazy. There is no account, observed or hypothetical, of any evolutionary event beyond the micro variety, described in terms of proposed mechanisms of evolution.

    I wouldn’t disagree with this at all. My understanding of current theory is, ALL evolution occurs in tiny increments. There is only micro…and Deep Time. In fact, my reading of the theory is that “macro” is either disallowed altogether, or allowed only as a generalization covering countless tiny steps.

    Any documented cases of evolution described in terms of evolutionary mechanisms will be limited to such trivial instances of microevolution as fish changing color or variations no greater than between breeds of dogs.

    I quite agree with this as well. The evolutionary mechanisms so far identified all produce very tiny incremental changes over extended periods of time. For changes of this magnitude to become cumulatively significant to our eyes, requires a very large number of tiny changes. If each change requires a long time, we can’t avoid noticing that evolution as a process makes glaciers look like racecars.

    On the proposed (and measured in the fossil record, to the extent it’s possible) evolutionary timescale, very little cumulative evolution occurs during the lifespan of any single species, since most species persist only for a few million years, an eyeblink in evolutionary terms. So 100 years of observation is about 5 orders of magnitude too small for the sort of “macro” changes you are requesting.

  14. 14

    But if you say no such evidence exists anywhere, I guess we should believe you over those tens of thousands of scientists and millions of research papers.

    You have forgotten the “law of confirmation bias” which holds that anything not ratifying, or even anything refuting, a foregone conclusion simply does not count as evidence.

    As people here have been saying in different ways but quite incessantly, mainstream science simply ignores the obvious role played by a creator by the simple expedient of ruling out any indication of that role as “not constituting evidence.”

    So we understand that it works both ways.

  15. Mr. Gibson, Many times neo-Darwinists will appeal to a ‘consensus of experts’ to support their belief that evolution is true, yet this is just a smoke screen for the fact that they have extremely shallow evidence:

    Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period. . (From a lecture delivered by the late Michael Crichton at the California Institute of Technology)
    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....torialPage

  16. Mr. Gibson, besides all the other evidence, materialistic neo-Darwinism is now falsified of a coherent foundation in reality (and thus science) since transcendent quantum information is now found in molecular biology on a massive scale. To put it simply, it is impossible for the within space-time material processes of neo-Darwinism to be the cause of the outside of space-time effect of quantum entanglement/information in molecular biology;

    Falsification Of Neo-Darwinism by Quantum Entanglement/Information
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p8AQgqFqiRQwyaF8t1_CKTPQ9duN8FHU9-pV4oBDOVs/edit?hl=en_US

  17. 17

    GinoB,

    But if you say no such evidence exists anywhere, I guess we should believe you over those tens of thousands of scientists and millions of research papers.

    I don’t care if you have a billion research papers if none of them is about anything more substantial than these treehoppers you keep reminding us of.

    I responded in detail. Perhaps you thought that after a day or two you could just mention them again and pretend I hadn’t. You never responded. You just bring it up again a few days later and pretend it hadn’t been dismissed.

    And if I haven’t said it a thousand times, a phylogenetic tree can no more depict evolutionary mechanisms such as selection then a family tree diagram can identify why your great-great-great grandfather married your great-great-great grandmother.

    Why do you continually post one link after another without attempting to reason on any of it in your own words or even indicate that you’ve read them yourselves?

  18. 18

    DWG,

    It’s slow like a glacier. It wouldn’t make sense for anyone to expect to see it happen before their eyes, or even be able to trace a significant change in the span of recorded history. Got that. In this particular case I am not citing the absence of evidence as evidence of absence. I’m playing fair.

    But that does not make the case for evolution, nor does it address the contradictory evidence.

    my reading of the theory is that “macro” is either disallowed altogether, or allowed only as a generalization covering countless tiny steps.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. The ‘cornerstone of biology’ cannot be a generalization. Someone’s got to count some of those steps.

  19. 19

    DWG,

    You have forgotten the “law of confirmation bias” which holds that anything not ratifying, or even anything refuting, a foregone conclusion simply does not count as evidence.

    I don’t place myself above bias. I suppose I’m heavily biased.

    What am I to do? Stop reasoning on the matter for myself? Shall I conclude that proponents of abiogenesis and darwinism are immune to such bias? Shall I reason on the volume of research papers or on their contents?

    Confirmation bias is what enables one to see a phylogenetic tree, a genome comparison, or a series of fossils and see support for an incremental process of variation and selection, never stopping to question how that data could possibly demonstrate such a process.

    My biases and yours are pretty obvious. We don’t have to deny them. We just have to work around them the best we can. The scientific method is supposed to help us with that, but it’s subject to every flaw of those who practice it.

  20. ScottAndrews2

    I don’t care if you have a billion research papers if none of them is about anything more substantial than these treehoppers you keep reminding us of.

    First it was ‘significant’. Then it was ‘novel’. Now it’s ‘substantial’. Any more subjective terms you want to hide behind?

    I responded in detail.

    You responded, but certainly not in detail, and you certainly didn’t address the issues I raised.

    You did seem to admit that the treehopper’s various helmet shapes did indeed evolve from a completely different body part being co-opted. I believe you referred to it as “the recycling of what evolved previously”, right? And all the pieces in the T1 section co-evolved together – the blood vessels, muscles, nerves, etc. Tell us Scott, was that a micro-evolutionary change or a macro-evolutionary one?

    Since you think an insect’s wings can be ‘recycled’ by evolution into a defensive/mimic helmet, what would stop a mouse-like creature’s paw from being ‘recycled’ into a bat’s wing? After all, it’s just one similar part being modified into another function, just like the treehopper’s wings to helmet transition.

    And if I haven’t said it a thousand times, a phylogenetic tree can no more depict evolutionary mechanisms such as selection then a family tree diagram can identify why your great-great-great grandfather married your great-great-great grandmother.

    And how many times have you been corrected on your misunderstanding that natural selection by itself isn’t the mechanism for evolutionary change? That NS is part of an iterative process the includes genetic changes and selection and the amassing of heritable traits?

    Why do you continually post one link after another without attempting to reason on any of it in your own words or even indicate that you’ve read them yourselves?

    I mainly do it for the lurkers, including adding my own discussions, because you still refuse to read or learn anything on the topic. Your continued mistake in thinking NS *by itself* drives evolution is evidence enough of that.

    BTW, I’m still waiting for you to explain the canid genetic evidence. Any time this year.

  21. ScottAndrews2

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. The ‘cornerstone of biology’ cannot be a generalization. Someone’s got to count some of those steps.

    How profound. So if historians can’t count the exact number of steps Marco Polo took on his various journeys to Asia, that means he never left Venice.

  22. 22

    My point wasn’t that complicated.

    Neither was my response. You’ve ignored my response in order to repeat what you had already said. So you can crawl off your high horse.

  23. 23

    DWG,

    My personal reaction is that the way to vanquish an inferior opponent is in direct combat, not by decreeing that the opponent shall not be permitted to enter the field of battle!

    Which side are you referring to? Perhaps you could suggest this to the universities, institutions, and publications that seek to suppress and revile the very discussion of design while maintaining that their own champion is too busy doing victory laps and posing for statues and should no longer condescend to combat opponents.

  24. ID proponents *could* approach the challenge of scientific respectability the way everybody else in science does – do the hard work and research, present the positive results, have the work independently verified. They could earn their way into universities, institutions, and publications. But they won’t. Way easier to sit on the sidelines and bellyache.

  25. By accepting microevolution you are conceding the entire course of vertebrate diversification, which has been accomplished pretty much entirely by incremental modifications of regulatory networks, and which has required almost no new genes.

  26. Scott Andrews:

    “The ‘cornerstone of biology’ cannot be a generalization. Someone’s got to count some of those steps.”
    ====

    Generalizations allow for muddling or graying the discussion. Take the often used terminology, “Natural Selection”. The term is inserted where no real pin pointed environmental trigger for change is capable of being explained for any particular subject. The reader is expected to know that such blind unintelligent forces just happen to accomplish amazing biological events and the reader must accept so without questioning any Lab Coat’s explanations for no other reason than they have in their possession a Phd.

    The insertion of “Natural Selection” allows the user of the term, to use it as a sort of escape clause that permits the Lab Coat(in their own mind) to not be under any obligation to pin point and explain any detailed proofs of a matter. Any pressing for further clarification on the part of a skeptic not convinced by the scientific myth given as a fact and you are branded anti-science. Yet all the while excusing themselves from any further detailed explanation, you are then condescendingly dismissed.
    —-

    Petrushka:

    “By accepting microevolution . . ”
    ====

    Let’s be honest here. The word/term microevolution is nothing more than an attempt at shoehorning the word evolution into any discussion. No one is arguing against incremental change potential which bring about great variation within the same kind of organism, be it plants, fish animals, birds, etc. But Natural Laws of species barriers or boundaries don’t allow for the chaos that evolution is supposed to champion for no apparent reasons. The “macro” option is nothing more than faith statements backed up by generalized storytelling.

  27. It’s always interesting to be told that the right to make rational observations is something that one man can hold from another. It’s somewhat less interesting to be told how to earn it from those who think they own to give.

  28. As a armchair Sherlock Holmes one can see evolution by Darwin and the rest was greatly just a line of reasoning.
    All the time they say that micio examples of evolution, if even that true, mean macro evolution is true .
    Yet this is not biological evidence or science.
    Lines of reasoning are just that.
    Science must be more then this if science is evolutions ticket to truth.
    A flaw, missed by creationism(s), was that Darwin and company were making great conclusions without biological investigation or evidence.
    They really really were making a line of reasoning.
    Nothing wrong with that but don’t claim your theory is scientific.
    All the micro evolution in the world and proved will never evolve into macro scientific evidence without scientific investigation going on.
    Got’im!

  29. 1.3.2.2.1

    Re the witty remark about Marco Polo and macroevolution:

    The only exception is that I can believe that Marco Polo went to Asia because that was highly plausible and can be demonstrated by using the replicas of ships of his days. Macroevolution is an unsupported statement. Macroevolution, if you like, says that because Marco Polo went to India, he also went on foot to the Moon.

  30. Eocene

    I totally agree with you on this point. However, it is extremely hard to argue this through due to the fact that self-organisation does happen. The question to ask is, where are the limits of self-organisation? ID posits concrete bounds on information gain. TOE extrapolates what is known to occur in highly non-equilibrium media on the verge of chaos, over to living systems. This extrapolation is problematic, to say the least (cf recent Chaitin’s work on TOE mathematical modelling).

  31. Petrushka:

    By accepting microevolution you are conceding the entire course of vertebrate diversification, which has been accomplished pretty much entirely by incremental modifications of regulatory networks, and which has required almost no new genes.

    Evidence please. Or admit that you just made it up.

  32. GinoB,

    You’re reading far more into the significance of these treehoppers than even the author of the paper did. They are not an evolutionary messiah.

    all the pieces in the T1 section co-evolved together – the blood vessels, muscles, nerves, etc. Tell us Scott, was that a micro-evolutionary change or a macro-evolutionary one?

    Have you ever seen a two-headed cat? They have muscles, nerves, and blood vessels too. The “helmets” are expressions of unused wings. Wings have muscles, nerves, and blood vessels.

    And, as usual, research explains only what is there, not how it got there. Yes, they were wings, and yes, the regulation of those genes failed, but what were the steps? What was the first step? Why was it selected? Some of this is guessed at. For most there isn’t even a guess. There’s no actual explanation of evolution at work. I’m not faulting the research. It’s interesting. It just isn’t the holy grail you think it is.

    what would stop a mouse-like creature’s paw from being ‘recycled’ into a bat’s wing?

    Now we’re back to this ‘what would stop it, what prevents it’ reasoning. If you or someone else thinks this happened, it’s up to you to explain what that pathway might have been, taking into account all of the physical changes required, the behavioral changes required (you can give a rat wings but it won’t start flying) and how it might have occurred in selectable incremental changes. That’s a little bit harder than asking what would stop it.

    Here is the key point you miss again and again and again: Observation is not explanation. Observing wings fused together for a decorative hat does not explain how they got that way. Evolution is about the transition. If you cannot explain the transition, you cannot explain evolution.

    And how many times have you been corrected on your misunderstanding that natural selection by itself isn’t the mechanism for evolutionary change?

    None. I’ve never expressed such a misunderstanding. There is more to evolution than natural selection. Some minimize selection in favor of drift. But these are critical, necessary factors. If you have an evolutionary narrative, transition, or tree but omit the the specific operations of such mechanism from the explanation, you have exactly, precisely nothing.

    Take for example your canid tree. How can this demonstrate a series of incremental genetic changes which were selected if it neither identifies the specific changes or states why they were selected? You just arrange what you see in a tree and assume all the important details.

    Or rodent-to-bat evolution. One regulatory difference is observed, but again, the actual mechanics of evolution, individual variation and selection, are missing. The research does nothing more than more precisely identify the differences between rodents and bats. Again, the details of how such a transition might have occurred are omitted in favor of a vague assertion that something varied and something was selected. No science.

    Requiring evidence substantial or significant or macroevolutionary (pick one) change described in terms of the mechanics of evolution is not moving the goalposts.

    But even if the change is significant, you have not demonstrated evolution until you explain the change in detailed evolutionary terms – incremental genetic changes and selection. To present an observed change, call it evolution, and present a post-hoc narrative of phenotypic changes and selection is merely begging the question.

    I’ve covered every base with you, and covered it again. This single post highlights the insufficiency of every last piece of so-called evidence that you have Googled. I shall bookmark it and henceforth cite it and/or quote from it. That way I won’t have to choose between typing it all over again or not responding at all. And you won’t be able to pretend that I haven’t explained it to you.

  33. Scott, you forgot to tell us if the treehopper wing–>helmet evolution was microevolution or macroevolution.

    You also forgot to tell us the barrier that prevents micro-e change from accumulating into macro-e.

    SA2: But even if the change is significant, you have not demonstrated evolution until you explain the change in detailed evolutionary terms – incremental genetic changes and selection.

    The mechanisms have been explained to you and evidence has been presented to you ad nauseum. It appears you’re not physically capable of learning or understanding.

    BTW Scott you haven’t explained anything. You’ve made the same lame excuses for ignoring the data without any attempt on your part to explain the data using your ID paradigm.

    Given your track record, I’m sure you’ll keep repeating your misunderstanding of actual evolutionary theory and demanding to see NS in the fossil record. But that’s OK. Your silly caricature of the actual theory gives scientifically knowledgeable folks something to laugh at. For my part, I’ll keep posting the papers and evidence you say doesn’t exist.

    Oh, and you still haven’t given us your explanation for the canid genetic evidence. Any time this century.

  34. No one is arguing against incremental change potential which bring about great variation within the same kind of organism

    OK, but “kind” appears to best fit the kingdom level, based on evidence of descent.

  35. Petrushka,

    OK, but “kind” appears to best fit the kingdom level, based on evidence of descent.

    It’s important to distinguish between the various objections against common descent.

    ID has no objection. Besides, evolutionary theory omits mechanisms when mapping common descent, so there’s no conflict.

    Some objections are to the descent itself. Perhaps a line of transitional fossils is questioned, or some ancestry (i.e. birds) is less obvious than claimed.

    In other cases the ancestry seems reasonable enough, but it’s the mechanisms that are called into question. Perhaps orbital web spiders are descended from ground-dwelling spiders, but can evolutionary mechanisms account for it?

    So when we discuss objections to common descent, we’re no longer talking ID. And it’s reasonable to accept descent in some cases, question it in others, and question the mechanisms, even if one recognizes that both descent and evolutionary mechanisms are valid and real.

    Denying an instance of descent does not mean denying descent, and rejecting a conclusion of selection or drift does not mean denying those mechanisms. There’s no reason to think that any are always-or-never propositions.

  36. Feel free to mention a specific transition that you don’t believe happened. Let’s see what the literature says about it.

  37. Pick me Pick me!

    The transition between a mutable chemical heredity (whatever that was) and the mutable semiotic heredity which we find today.

  38. Petrushka,

    Feel free to mention a specific transition that you don’t believe happened. Let’s see what the literature says about it.

    Really, after I typed that whole post explaining that whether or not the transition happened isn’t the point?

    Why focus on what I’m conceding (at least for the sake of argument) rather than on the remaining question I’m seeking to isolate?

    Let’s say that whales are direct descendants of land-dwelling mammals. Fine. Do you see that even allowing that does not even begin to validate a darwinian explanation? The explanation doesn’t even exist. Something varied, something was selected, lots and lots of times, and some stuff drifted. In that one sentence I have stated the entirety of the darwinian explanation of that transition. Find me another detail that isn’t a post-hoc ad on.

    In a sense, ID concedes the transition. It does not dispute it. So what argue for it? Explain it instead.

  39. The traditional view has been that related species differ in their repertoire of individual “genes.” But a more contemporary Evo-Devo perspective is that much of morphological change in evolution occurs by modification of expression through alteration of enhancers and other transcriptional regulatory signals, as well as distinct patterns of epigenetic formatting [1063–1067].

    Comparing mice and men, the “genes” stay largely the same, but their deployment differs. The bones, ligaments, muscles, skin, and other tissues are similar, but their morphogeneses and growth follow distinct patterns. In other words, humans and mice share most of their proteins, and the most obvious differences in morphology and metabolism can be attributed to distinct regulatory patterns in late embryonic and postnatal development.

    Shapiro, James A. (2011-06-08). Evolution: A View from the 21st Century (FT Press Science) (Kindle Locations 2221-2227). FT Press. Kindle Edition.

  40. Translation of the above:

    We used to think that mice and men were distinguished by individual genes. It turns out that they share more genes than previously thought, but are largely distinguished by regulatory patterns and expression of those genes.

    Therefore with remarkable ease we will turn attention away from gradually changing genes and turn to gradually changing expressions of genes.

    We are confident that the “big picture” won’t change. The narrative is sufficiently vague and fluffy that we can swap out an entire cornerstone without having to account for any specific details tied to the previous “perspective.” (Attached are several handy find-and-replace texts you may use to update your research papers to the ’21st century view.’)

    Rather than not providing any pathways of genetic changes and selective influences, we will now focus on not providing any pathways of varying expressions of genes and the selection of regulatory changes.

  41. ScottAndrews2

    Why focus on what I’m conceding (at least for the sake of argument) rather than on the remaining question I’m seeking to isolate?

    The big problem is that you’re asking a non-sensical question and making non-sensical demands. No science anywhere can produce the level of detail you keep demanding.

    Maybe an example will help.

    Science observes river canyons being formed from the combined erosive action of the flowing river water plus the effects of wind and rain on the exposed banks. Science observes the same mechanisms at work today in the Grand Canyon and concludes the same mechanisms carved the canyon. Along comes some ID proponent who claims “if you can’t give me evidence of every last cubic foot of soil removed by the flowing Colorado river, if you can’t tell me the date and magnitude of every last wind storm and rain storm that helped erode the sides, then there is no explanation for the Grand Canyon formation!”

    Do you see the problem?

  42. ScottAndrews2

    We used to think that mice and men were distinguished by individual genes.

    When did science think that? The 1950s?

    We used to think that space travel and organ transplants were impossible too. Funny how science continues to make discoveries and increase our understanding, while some people are content to never learn.

    (Attached are several handy find-and-replace texts you may use to update your research papers to the ’21st century view.’)

    You’re thinking of the Intelligent Design Creationists in Dover who used find-and-replace to change ‘Creationist’ into ‘Design Proponent’ in the book Of Pandas and People. Remember ‘cdesignproponentists’? It was one of many pieces of damning evidence that sunk the Creationists’ ship.

  43. It has to be conceded that there we are stuck with what we’ve got. If the remains of a succession have been swept under the carpet of a continental plate, say, and there is only one descendant species, then that really is it as far as investigating the transition is concerned. We try to reconstruct history with the surviving evidence, and fill in the gaps based upon known processes.

    All we can look at, genetically, is the DNA in surviving species. We can look at that one descendant species, and its nearest modern relative using the various phylogenetic methods, and we can infer with a pretty high degree of certainty that they are related by descent. But as regards the differences between them – particularly if that other species has no close relatives either – we can only say that some of that was due to change in lineage A, and some to change in lineage B. There is no hope of untangling this ‘flat’ view in order to determine an actual evolutionary path.

    Additionally, selection/drift are statistical phenomena building up from individual lives. However much one may be able to determine about selection coefficients in modern populations, we can only do that because we have the context that allows them to be investigated. We have no way of reconstructing the past environment, down to the local interactions, population sizes, epistasis, ecology and linkage effects that would impinge upon the calculation. And we could be looking for several million separate changes, including the ones that have been lost, which affect the survivorship of the ones that survive.

    So no. Any more than I could reconstruct my dad’s genome from my brother and I, I could not give you the genetic changes that led from, say, non-flying rodents to bats. Does that matter? It really depends if you want it to. If I were to take a book and change one word a year, after 100,000 years I would have a totally different book. At any point in that process, one could take a look and say “it’s barely changed. You haven’t proven anything”. Or “It is no longer viable – you have corrupted the book”. Or “You cannot show the succession of changes made, so I don’t believe there was a transition.”

    So ISTM that the micro/macro debate boils down to how much store one sets on the ‘anchoring’ of species upon a particular set of textual variants. Evolutionists simply don’t – processes observable today are perfectly capable of extrapolation indefinitely. Is that a questionable position to take? There needs to be a reason to drop it – and I’m afraid mutagenic experiments aren’t enough.

    Clearly, in my scenario, one is degrading the information in the book. It doesn’t fully become the other book until 100,000 years later. But of course it is only an analogy. All intermediates in the biological transition must be viable. Were we to parachute into their time, we would be happy to call them ‘species’ and, if that was our preference, ‘immutable’. So ISTM that you see species as compartmentalised in some way, temporally as well as laterally. Something must say change can progress thus far but no further. I’m sure you’ve been asked before, but what mediates this barrier?

  44. Umm that is speculation, not evidence.

  45. The evolution of books:

    In his essay The Deniable Darwin, David Berlinski recounts the following:

    I IMAGINE THIS story being told to me by Jorge Luis Borges one evening in a Buenos Aires cafe.

    His voice dry and infinitely ironic, the aging, nearly blind literary master observes that “the Ulysses,” mistakenly attributed to the Irishman James Joyce, is in fact derived from “the Quixote.”

    I raise my eyebrows.

    Borges pauses to sip discreetly at the bitter coffee our waiter has placed in front of him, guiding his hands to the saucer.

    “The details of the remarkable series of events in question may be found at the University of Leiden,” he says. “They were conveyed to me by the Freemason Alejandro Ferri in Montevideo.”

    Borges wipes his thin lips with a linen handkerchief that he has withdrawn from his breast pocket.

    “As you know,” he continues, “the original handwritten text of the Quixote was given to an order of French Cistercians in the autumn of 1576.”

    I hold up my hand to signify to our waiter that no further service is needed.

    “Curiously enough, for none of the brothers could read Spanish, the Order was charged by the Papal Nuncio, Hoyo dos Monterrey (a man of great refinement and implacable will), with the responsibility for copying the Quixote, the printing press having then gained no currency in the wilderness of what is now known as the department of Auvergne. Unable to speak or read Spanish, a language they not unreasonably detested, the brothers copied the Quixote over and over again, re-creating the text but, of course, compromising it as well, and so inadvertently discovering the true nature of authorship. Thus they created Fernando Lor’s Los Hombres d’Estado in 1585 by means of a singular series of copying errors, and then in 1654 Juan Luis Samorza’s remarkable epistolary novel Por Favor by the same means, and then in 1685, the errors having accumulated sufficiently to change Spanish into French, Moliere’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, their copying continuous and indefatigable, the work handed down from generation to generation as a sacred but secret trust, so that in time the brothers of the monastery, known only to members of the Bourbon house and, rumor has it, the Englishman and psychic Conan Doyle, copied into creation Stendhal’s The Red and the Black and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and then as a result of a particularly significant series of errors, in which French changed into Russian, Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Anna Karenina. Late in the last decade of the 19th century there suddenly emerged, in English, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and then the brothers, their numbers reduced by an infectious disease of mysterious origin, finally copied the Ulysses into creation in 1902, the manuscript lying neglected for almost thirteen years and then mysteriously making its way to Paris in 1915, just months before the British attack on the Somme, a circumstance whose significance remains to be determined.”

    I sit there, amazed at what Borges has recounted. “Is it your understanding, then,” I ask, “that every novel in the West was created in this way?”

    “Of course,” replies Borges imperturbably. Then he adds: “Although every novel is derived directly from another novel, there is really only one novel, the Quixote.”

    And there you have it. To argue against that story is to argue against evolutionism. But therein lies the problem. To accept that story as even possibly valid demonstrates a lack of grasp on reality- but then again so does the acceptance of evolutionism.

  46. GinoB continues to expose his ignorance:

    And how many times have you been corrected on your misunderstanding that natural selection by itself isn’t the mechanism for evolutionary change? That NS is part of an iterative process the includes genetic changes and selection and the amassing of heritable traits?

    Natural selection IS differential reproduction due to heritable random variation. IOW it IS all included.

    GinoB sez he does it for the lurkers- does what? Expose his ignorance? LoL!

  47. Chad D,

    First, I reject the premise that observed variation must be assumed to extrapolate indefinitely unless someone defines a barrier. It’s obviously unreasonable to ask for a demonstration of evolution acting indefinitely. In fairness, there must be goalposts. No one seems to agree on them, but that should not be insurmountable.

    Second, what evidence we have (Lenski, etc.) indicates that there is a barrier. It may not be perfectly defined, but it is demonstrated every bit as consistently as the processes that run up against it. If we observed a person throwing a ball in the air but closed our eyes when it began to drop, we could get the inaccurate impression that the ball could ascend forever.

    Note that the barrier of gravity was recognized before it was understood. We don’t need to understand why things vary within a limited range to recognize that they do. And the reasons why they do are hypothesized and supported. Some changes require a number of genetic or regulatory variations acting in combination, and there is no mechanism short of deliberate intent, planning, and orchestration known to achieve such results.

    I don’t think anything is immutable. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise. But there’s an evident barrier between variation and invention. We can’t close our eyes to that.

  48. ScottAndrews2

    Second, what evidence we have (Lenski, etc.) indicates that there is a barrier. It may not be perfectly defined, but it is demonstrated every bit as consistently as the processes that run up against it.

    Yet you agree an insect’s wing can be co-opted and modified into a completely different body part. Is that change in treehoppers a micro-evolutionary change or a macro-evolutionary one?

    The Lenski experiment does not constitute all the evidence we have, not by a long shot. There’s still the matter of the huge amounts of consilient data from the fossil and genetic records with the twin nested hierarchies they form which agree to well over 99.9%.

    That data needs an explanation Scott, just like the genetic data from the canid research needs an explanation. That does not mean just repeating your assertion that the data doesn’t support ToE. Please give us your explanation for the data.

  49. ScottAndrews2

    Second, what evidence we have (Lenski, etc.) indicates that there is a barrier.

    I’ll point out here that the changes to E coli observed in the Lenski experiment were considered major, significant changes by everyone in the biological sciences community. Basically the organisms evolved an entirely new way to get nourishment from a different, previously incompatable food source. In humans this would be the equivalent of evolving the ability to drink gasoline instead of water.

    Evolutionary theory neither requires nor expects that a single-celled organism would suddenly evolve into a multi-celled one and sprout legs and wings as you keep suggesting we should see.

    A few questions for you, and I’d appreciate some answers:

    Is that change in treehoppers from wings to defensive/mimicry helmet a micro-evolutionary change or a macro-evolutionary one? How do you make the determination?

    Did flying squirrels and ground squirrels evolve from a common ancestor, or are they separate created kinds? If they evolved from a common ancestor, how did the flying squirrel develop the mental / spatial abilities and physical attributes to control its gliding flight?

    If we observed a person throwing a ball in the air but closed our eyes when it began to drop, we could get the inaccurate impression that the ball could ascend forever. Note that the barrier of gravity was recognized before it was understood.

    You gravity example is a particularly poor one for your argument. We now know that gravity is not a barrier and can indeed be overcome by the application of a relatively small force (no greater than that required to toss the football) over longer periods of time. We have spacecraft orbiting other planets that demonstrate this fact.

    Throwing a football and having it arc back down is the equivalent of one generation’s worth of evolutionary change. But evolution has had over 600 millions years’ worth of generations of accumulated changes to evolve multi-celled animals.

    For your ideas to work you need to identify that barrier that makes it impossible, not just time-consuming, for macro-evolutionary changes to occur.

  50. Blind, undirected processes do not expect a nested hierarchy, never mind some “twin nested hierarchies”-OTOH common design can account for nested hierarchies.

  51. GinoB,

    Still the treehoppers. First, here’s my initial refutation which really says it all, and which you’ve never addressed.

    Yet you agree an insect’s wing can be co-opted and modified into a completely different body part.

    Second, what do you mean by a “completely different body part?” Let’s say your ancestor used to have a tail. Now, your repressed genes “escape” and your tail is expressed, this time as a hump fused against your back. You can give the hump a name and call it a completely new body part, but it really isn’t. And if your evolutionary explanations depend on recycling preexisting components then you’re out of gas before you start.

    And on top of all that, there is a guess, a guess at why these appendages may be beneficial and selected. That guess addresses the completed growth. There is no discussion of how the variation was initiated, what initial step was selected or why. Evolution is the why. Your example of evolution is missing the evolution.

    And on top of that, even the author admits that the entire hypothesis about where the helmets came from isn’t all that certain.

    This is not a smoking gun. It shoots a little flag that says “Bang!”

    Now I’ve gone and explained it again. I’ll bookmark this so next time I can show you that I’ve explained it twice.

  52. ScottAndrews2

    Still the treehoppers. First, here’s my initial refutation which really says it all, and which you’ve never addressed.

    Scott, what part of

    “That data needs an explanation Scott, just like the genetic data from the canid research needs an explanation. That does not mean just repeating your assertion that the data doesn’t support ToE. Please give us YOUR explanation for the data.

    don’t you understand?

    Second, what do you mean by a “completely different body part?”

    You used the term and agreed that the treehopper’s helmet was a different body part, not me.

    And if your evolutionary explanations depend on recycling preexisting components then you’re out of gas before you start.

    ALL of evolution, even the micro-evolution you accept, works by ‘recycling existing components’, by modifying what’s already there. If you don’t understand even that basic fact there’s no hope.

  53. A precise aerodynamic instrument capable of sustaining self powered flight, under precise feedback modulated control – and continue on with all that could be said about an insects wing – was turned into a lump!!!

  54. “And there you have it. To argue against that story is to argue against evolutionism. But therein lies the problem. To accept that story as even possibly valid demonstrates a lack of grasp on reality- but then again so does the acceptance of evolutionism.”

    –There is no nested hierarchy, or “evolutionary tree” of books.

    I suppose people can try to construct such a thing, but it would be utterly arbitrary. Give 10 people the task of constructing such a taxonomic tree and you’ll get 10 completely different results. However, as Linnaeus found, there’s something “natural” about organizing life in this way. And this is why his system caught on so quickly around the world. (Incidentally, he tried this system on other things, such as rocks, but found that it only works for organizing life.)

    Books aren’t created by making random changes to other books – and it shows. I’m sure there are books out there that were strongly influenced by, say, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Gene Roddenberry, and thus are basically a detective story in space. I don’t know of any such book, but because books are “intelligently designed” I would bet the ranch that such books exist. The equivalent of such a book in the animal world would be a feathered monkey – which I would also bet will never be found.

    So one can easily argue against the truth of the scenario given by Berlinkski by pointing how the taxonomy of books is nothing like the evolutionary tree.

  55. goodusername,

    How does an evolutionary tree show evolution? Why even call it that? Evolution is process driven by specific mechanisms (i.e. natural selection) which could never be determined by such a tree, even if that tree were 100% complete and 100% accurate.

    That’s unless you define evolution more loosely as “descent with modification,” which concedes not knowing why the modifications happened as they did.

  56. ScottAndrews2

    How does an evolutionary tree show evolution? Why even call it that? Evolution is process driven by specific mechanisms (i.e. natural selection) which could never be determined by such a tree, even if that tree were 100% complete and 100% accurate.

    That’s unless you define evolution more loosely as “descent with modification,” which concedes not knowing why the modifications happened as they did.

    Scott, the level of certainty you demand is impossible. Science can never be 100% sure of anything, even evolution. Science can never falsify the idea that a Designer did it because a Loki God Designer could always make things look like they occurred by naturally occurring evolutionary processes.

    What we have in the fossil and genetic records is tons of evidence – literally 150+ years’ worth from hundreds of different science – that is consistent with known, empirically observed evolutionary mechanisms. We have zero evidence that any other supernatural or external intelligent forces are in play. That’s why ToE is virtually universally accepted in the scientific community and ID is not.

    Once again, if you want science to reject evolutionary theory you need to come up with a way to explain the data, ALL the data, better than ToE does. I’ve been asking you since day 1 to provide your better explanation (i.e the canid genetic data) but all I ever get is silence.

  57. Scott Andrews,

    First, I reject the premise that observed variation must be assumed to extrapolate indefinitely unless someone defines a barrier. It’s obviously unreasonable to ask for a demonstration of evolution acting indefinitely. In fairness, there must be goalposts. No one seems to agree on them, but that should not be insurmountable.

    It’s not that variation extrapolates indefinitely, but that the processes that generate it never stop working. If all mutation suddenly ceased, a species would gradually ‘freeze’, genetically, and variation would inexorably diminish. Effectively the inbreeding coefficient would go up, even if there were no close mating, and eventually, the species would be a clone. But mutation does not stop, indeed it cannot. So I just don’t see, given that the DNA system is universal, and by letter-by-letter change one can step from any combination to any other, how one can be so sure that every current genome cannot result from a long-term process of probing the shores of the assumed ‘islands of functional organism’ that discovers that the landscape is riddled with a network of viable ‘land bridges’ – indeed, that its structure is entirely reticulate, and these apparent islands are simply an illusion, because we see clear delineation at this moment in time, but cannot peer far into future or past. Given that mutation is essentially random and allele spread broadly stochastic also, I don’t see what can stop indefinite change. Unless there is some kind of reflecting boundary.

    Second, what evidence we have (Lenski, etc.) indicates that there is a barrier. It may not be perfectly defined, but it is demonstrated every bit as consistently as the processes that run up against it.

    There is a huge, huge difference between what goes on in the Lenski apparatus and what goes on in the kinds of organisms that excite most of our rather metazoan-fixated interest, so I would be wary of extending too many conclusions out from it. Most notably, eukaryotes have sex (either currently or ancestrally), and that makes a tremendous difference to the dynamic of the evolutionary process. It’s parallel processing, for IT fans; every member of the population is ‘working on’ the entire genome, and any adaptive function hit upon can spread quasi-independently via the sexual network and multiple solutions be recombined. It’s a different world for the clonal replacement of whole asexual genomes. Bacteria spent 2 billion years doing nothing very spectacular. The problem of doing equivalent experiments with larger sexual organisms, however, is obviously their size (hence small population sizes), their generation time, and their susceptibility to mutational overload if you try and speed things up. The more convincing evolutionary experiments would take a few hundred thousand years, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to speed that up.

  58. “How does an evolutionary tree show evolution? Why even call it that? Evolution is process driven by specific mechanisms (i.e. natural selection) which could never be determined by such a tree, even if that tree were 100% complete and 100% accurate. That’s unless you define evolution more loosely as “descent with modification,” which concedes not knowing why the modifications happened as they did.”

    – I didn’t really make an argument that the tree shows evolution (let alone natural selection) in that post, although I should have said “taxonomic tree” instead of “evolutionary tree”. I would say, however, that the taxonomic tree aka nested hierarchy is certainly consistent with life having a common ancestor via changes by small steps and thus I do believe it does show evolution.

    My argument was that IF the scenario that Berlinski drew up ACTUALLY occurred – namely that there was “Quixote”, and copiers made mistakes producing “offspring” so to speak, and so the changes (mutations) made passed strictly from parent book to child book, and copiers made mistakes copying those books, and so on, producing all the books of the western world – than I would expect that as someone began organizing the books, that he’d discover that they naturally organize into groups, and those groups into larger groups (i.e a nested hierarchy), and so on, back to a common source – namely Quixote. The person who makes this discovery, btw, may not even realize WHY the books naturally organize this way – his reaction might just be “huh, that’s odd”.

    But it’s obvious that this didn’t occur. Even putting aside all the difficulties of such a thing occurring: Even IF one were inclined to believe that such a thing COULD happen – that you could actually start with a novel, and via a series of copying errors actually create other novels – it’s obvious, in this case, that it DIDN’T happen. And the reason it’s obvious is because there is not a taxonomic tree, or nested hierarchy, of western books. If anything, it’s a giant “mesh”.

    Thus my post was a response to “To argue against that story is to argue against evolutionism”. A reason why it’s not believed that the books of the western world don’t share a common ancestor in the manner described by Berlinski is for precisely a reason that they are unlike life – and vice versa. With animals, we don’t have feathered monkeys, or mermaids, or griffons, etc. It’s not a taxonomic mesh. (Yes, there are places where it is “meshy”, particularly in the microbial world, but that’s because of the breakdown of changes being strictly mutations from parent to child.)

  59. That’s unless you define evolution more loosely as “descent with modification”

    Pretty much how Darwin defined it. It is typically given as “change in allele frequency in populations” these days, though I am not so keen on that – particularly in forums like this, where people simply see that as a statement that frequencies rattle about like balls in a lottery apparatus, never really going anywhere. This is not correct, but I can see why it is thought so.

    The pattern of descent is one thing, the mechanisms that cause the change another. Both are evolution. If one has a pattern of descent, one has a branch nodes at various points in history. At those points, the ancestor can’t have been like all its descendants simultaneously. Something had to change, somewhere along the line, to give the separate characters of descendants. So it must be an evolutionary tree, even if the mechanism was genetic engineering.

  60. Natural selection IS differential reproduction due to heritable random variation. IOW it IS all included.

    Selection is the discriminatory part of the process, not the whole process.

    Where the differential between alleles in terms of reproductive success is zero (Neutral), selection is not in effect. So it isn’t all included. For neutral alleles, allele frequency change is all attributable to genetic drift, which is akin to sample error. There is still differential reproduction of variants, and one will ultimately become fixed. Its ‘success’ is not causally linked to its effects, ie it is not subject to NS.

    As one turns up the success differential slightly (Nearly Neutral), one gets a slightly diminished role for Drift, and an increased role for selection.

    Turning the heat up further, drift becomes the weaker force and selection the stronger.

  61. Chas D,

    That’s something I can agree with.

  62. goodusername,

    And the reason it’s obvious is because there is not a taxonomic tree, or nested hierarchy, of western books. If anything, it’s a giant “mesh”.

    I guarantee you, if the ideological leaning was that books must have descended from each other, they would find a way to arrange them in trees, probably by subject matter and changes in language.

  63. GinoB,

    You are flailing. I quote a statement saying “We used to think…” and you cleverly retort that it’s not modern thinking. Wow. It’s okay to lash out at everything I say, but you don’t always have to go with your first draft.

    We used to think that space travel and organ transplants were impossible too. Funny how science continues to make discoveries and increase our understanding, while some people are content to never learn.

    Always rhetoric, never a meaningful thought. I’ve shared some interesting posts back and forth with some folks who like to reason on things and challenge me with it. Haven’t you ever wanted to do that? (Okay, it didn’t go so well with the treehoppers. But you could try harder!)

    One day we’ll toss darwinism on the same scrap-heap as eugenics and talk about it in the past tense. And we’ll tell really funny stories about how people tried to rationalize it. (Real-life sea monkeys, it evolved independently at least seven times, look, the fishes are changing color, etc.)

  64. F/N: The pivot to this is that the NS part is a culler of some variation, not a creator of information. It is the chance variations that have to do the info creation work. And there is where the big problems begin.


  65. Natural selection IS differential reproduction due to heritable random variation. IOW it IS all included.

    Chas D:

    Selection is the discriminatory part of the process, not the whole process.

    Except there isn’t any selection going on. Not only that natural selection is defined EXACTLY as I said.

    So TRY to stay focused as natural selection was the topic.

    There is still differential reproduction of variants, and one will ultimately become fixed.

    Not necessarily.

  66. goodusername:

    –There is no nested hierarchy, or “evolutionary tree” of books.

    I am sure if someone tried they could make one. But a nested hierarchy nor a tree isn’t required as we see neither amongst prokaryotes.

    Books aren’t created by making random changes to other books – and it shows.

    You are missing the selection part of the process.

    But anyway there isn’t any evidence that making random changes to an organism can create new body plans with new body parts….

  67. ScottAndrews2

    Always rhetoric, never a meaningful thought.

    Look who’s talking. Every time I ask you a meaningful question you avoid it.

    I’ve asked you at least four times to please give YOUR explanation for the canid genetic data. You refuse to answer.

    I’ve asked you at least three times if the evolution of the treehopper T1 wing segment into the helmet was micro-evolution or macro-evolution. You refuse to answer.

    I’ve asked you at least three times to describe the barrier that makes it impossible (not just time consuming) for micro-e changes to accumulate into macro-e ones. You refuse to answer.

    I’m sure it makes you feel good to blindly repeat “there’s no evidence for evolution!” as the stock non-answer to every question, but it advances the discussion not one iota. Try having an original thought for once, and try to honestly answer the questions asked.

    One day we’ll toss darwinism on the same scrap-heap as eugenics and talk about it in the past tense.

    LOL! The imminent demise of evolution – the longest running failed Creationist prediction in the history of science!

    The imminent demise of evolution.

  68. I am sure if someone tried they could make one.

    I’m sure they could to. But as I explained, if 10 people attempted such a thing we’d end up with 10 completely different results. This is because (as the people attempting this feat would quickly notice) there is no natural way to organize books into a nested hierarchy. Any result would be arbitrary and subjective – which is not the case when organizing animals however, as Linnaeus discovered.

    But a nested hierarchy nor a tree isn’t required as we see neither amongst prokaryotes.

    As I explained, it is a necessary result when changes/mutations are passed strictly from parent to offspring – which is not the case with prokaryotes. This is the case, however, with Berlinski’s scenario (or at least that’s how it appears to me). And since we see no nested hierarchy in books, the scenario Berlinski gives can be discounted.

    You are missing the selection part of the process.

    I don’t see any selection process in Berlinski’s scenario.

  69. 1.3.2.2.11
    GinoB,

    That is again a bad example, like the one with Marco Polo. The point is that in the natural sciences, such level of detail is in principle available. Not so with the theory of evolution. It exploits the power of generalisation without providing any rigorous grounds for such generalisations. First, show us that such grand scale generalisations are in principle valid and then we will believe you.


  70. But a nested hierarchy nor a tree isn’t required as we see neither amongst prokaryotes.

    As I explained, it is a necessary result when changes/mutations are passed strictly from parent to offspring – which is not the case with prokaryotes.

    No, a nested hierarchy is not a necessary result when changes/ mutations are passed strictly from parent to offspring.

    Nested hierarchy is a necessary result when you have immutable and additive defining characteristics and we know evolution isn’t like that.

  71. GinoB,

    Apparently it’s your intent to follow me about after every post and spam me with questions I’ve already answered. After I type several carefully considered paragraphs explaining why your “evidence” does not demonstrate what you want it to, you’ll ignore everything I’ve said and accuse me of disregarding the evidence.

    I’m doing all the work. Your end of this is pretty easy. Why should I or anyone else respond to you at all. I’m patient – others might rightly call it stupid – because I continue to respond. Enough with the free ride. The price of this exchange is that you do some reasoning and thinking of your own. As it is you’re more like a fly or a mosquito – tiny and ineffectual, and yet we stop what we’re doing to swing our arms around and swat at you.

  72. Scott, you avoided giving us YOUR explanation for the data. Again.

    Mindlessly regurgitating “evolution didn’t do it!!” gets the discussion nowhere. We already know you don’t accept the scientific view held by 99.8% of the scientists who actually study and work with the evidence on a daily basis.

    Please give us YOUR explanation for the correlating and corroborating patterns of the genetic and fossil data.

  73. GinoB,

    I’m no English teacher, but you don’t put double quotes around words you attribute to someone else unless they are direct quotation. Like this:

    Mustering every iota of his wit, GinoB replied, “Waaaaah! Waaaah! The fish didn’t evolve into a giraffe like I demanded! Waaaah!”

    That’s how double quotes work.

    You speak for the cornerstone of biology, and I haven’t received your explanation yet. ‘Something varied, something was selected, repeat’ is not an explanation. (See, single quotes.)

  74. ScottAndrews

    I’m no English teacher

    You’re no student of science either. I do wish you’d stop making excuses and please answer the questions about your claims though.

    Please give YOUR explanation for the canid genetic data.

    Please tell us if the evolution of the treehopper T1 wing segment into the helmet was micro-evolution or macro-evolution, and how you made the determination.

    Please describe the barrier that makes it impossible (not just time consuming) for micro-e changes to accumulate into macro-e ones.

    If you have no answers, just admit you can’t answer and I’ll stop asking you these questions that are causing you so much embarrassment.

  75. GinoB,

    As a student of science, I remind you that a hypothesis is yours to test and validate. You have offered nothing of substance and failed to answer any refutation. In fact, you have yet to string together two sentences of your own to reason on anything.

    Only the weak-minded will be distracted from that by your endless stream of irrelevant questions, which I will not answer. And only they will care when you crow about it.

    If there were an “ignore” feature I would certainly activate it in your case. My only embarrassment is that I continue to engage you at all.

  76. GinoB:

    Please give YOUR explanation for the canid genetic data.

    Well according to baraminology all extant canids evolved from the original population of candids.

    Please tell us if the evolution of the treehopper T1 wing segment into the helmet was micro-evolution or macro-evolution, and how you made the determination.

    First one would have to ascertain that such a thing is possible. They should be able to go into a lab and manupulate insect eggs to see if this was something that could happen.

    So get rid of the question-begging first.

    Please describe the barrier that makes it impossible (not just time consuming) for micro-e changes to accumulate into macro-e ones.

    What allows it? The changes just are not the same. On one hand we have a ton of loss-of-function mutations (micro-e) yet macro-e requires gains of functions, new functions, new body plans and new body parts.

    It is as if you think you can lose money on each sale (micro-e) yet make it up by selling more.

  77. Joseph

    GB: “Please give YOUR explanation for the canid genetic data.”

    Well according to baraminology all extant canids evolved from the original population of candids.

    Which point on this chart represents the original population of canids then?

    Phylogeny of canid species.

    GB: “Please tell us if the evolution of the treehopper T1 wing segment into the helmet was micro-evolution or macro-evolution, and how you made the determination.”

    First one would have to ascertain that such a thing is possible.

    Already been done. The detailed scientific analysis is in treehopper the paper ScottAndrews2 refused to read. I bet you didn’t read it either.

    GB; “Please describe the barrier that makes it impossible (not just time consuming) for micro-e changes to accumulate into macro-e ones.”

    What allows it? The changes just are not the same. On one hand we have a ton of loss-of-function mutations (micro-e) yet macro-e requires gains of functions, new functions, new body plans and new body parts.

    Already been demonstrated too. ‘Function’ is totally dependent on the environment. A leg evolving into a fin is a loss of terrestrial locomotion function but a gain of aquatic mobility function. Even Behe admits there are gain-of-function mutations.

    So describe the magic evolution-stopping barrier for us, and be specific.

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