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Let’s open minds, textbooks to intelligent design theories

A thoughtful article by a perceptive engineer. A good example of priming the Origins Debate pump.

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Let’s open minds, textbooks to intelligent design theories

Intricacies of Earth life-forms, microscopes challenge evolution ideas

Gordon Rose, Letter, Indianapolis Star Dec. 15, 2007

“In our school systems today, science, with its dramatic and continual advancement in knowledge, has to be one of the most interesting as well as important subjects being taught.

Strangely enough, it is here that we are teaching unchallenged, the biggest lie in education — the theory of evolution. Not that the theory shouldn’t be taught — it should, simply because it is believed to be true by so many scientists. But the latest research with modern tools such as the electron microscope, have ruled out any possibility of life on our planet occurring by accident. Modern, competent scientists can show that the unbelievable complexity of design of the human cell, for example, demands the acknowledgement of a designer, or an intelligence far higher than anything we can imagine. . . .”   See full article

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118 Responses to Let’s open minds, textbooks to intelligent design theories

  1. if it makes sense then it doesn’t belong in our public schools. Same goes for math and reading
    http://michellemalkin.com/2007.....-epidemic/

  2. Maybe I’m a little confused; I’m still new to all of this ID business! But it seems to me completely out-of-line to describe evolution as a “lie.” Sure, Behe and Dembski have shown that evolution has its limitations. But that doesn’t make the theory a “lie,” just limited. Other scientists have disagreed with their critiques – but their disagreement, again, isn’t a “lie,” but a different interpretation of the evidence. If evolution were a lie, then most scientists would be liars – and we would have to imagine there was a global conspiracy of scientists teaching something they know to be untrue!! That is very unlikely, it seems to me.

    We have two opposing scientific viewpoints – evolutionism and Intelligent Design. Eventually, if the weight of evidence is on our side, ID will win. But it does us no good to describe ordinary, “normal” science as a lie. (I know this is quoted from an outside source, but I’ve come across similarly intemperate language on UD recently). Did Einstein call Newton a liar? No, he venerated him as a great genius, who had seen so far with what information he had. That should be our attitude to Darwin too, I think.

    Peace – Zoe.

  3. PlatosPlaything,

    There are some lies being taught and knowingly taught.

    The word evolution is used in many different ways and to use it without qualification of what you mean is not productive. That there has been changes in life’s organisms over time is a fact. ID does not deny this. But facts are not theories. Theories try to make sense of the facts. First, you make hypotheses about the facts and then seek empirical support for the hypotheses and if there is enough empirical support then the hypotheses graduate into a theory.

    So we have the facts of evolution, a progression over 3.5 billion years of various life forms. What caused the changes and progressions? The explanation put forward by modern biology has no empirical support but yet the hypotheses are treated as theory. So that is the lie. The current explanation has no empirical support and any counter information is not admissible.

    When challenged no biologist or evolutionary biologist has ever been able to contradict the claim that the explanation taught in schools has no empirical support. Always what is offered is conjectures, so called plausible stories. It is all speculation, but never admitted.

    We have Darwinist here who comment but they never refute what has just been said. Just as a challenge, anyone reading this who disagrees please come forward or forever hold your peace.

    In no other scientific area does such a phenomena occur. You have to ask yourself why.

  4. PlatosPlaything,

    I personally consider Darwin a minor player in science, mainly because the only valid stuff he did was minor. He was a good naturalist and classified a lot of nature and for that he should be recognized. His work on barnacles and soil was good and he classified the various life forms he saw on his trip on the Beagle. But on evolution he was a bust. He took someone else’s concept, natural selection (Blythe), and appropriated it wrongly for his conjectures about evolution. Most of his conjectures were wrong but not all. So I would not equate him to Newton. In fact he introduced a lot of nonsense into science that has been taken as gospel ever since. So I do not hold Darwin up as anything special and look on him as a major disruptive force in history just as Marx, his contemporary, was.

  5. This comment is not complimentary. I don’t know if it’ll get through the moderator, but it is intended as constructive criticism.

    I have been visiting UD almost every day for more than 18 months. I would describe myself as sceptical about Darwinism AND about ID. I am honestly looking for answers!

    I’m sorry, but in my opinion this post is doing you absolutely no favours whatsoever. Anyone who has any knowledge of the history of the ID / Darwinism battle can see instantly that it plays straight into the hands of the anti-IDers (for example, I’m sure their lawyers at the Dover trial would be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of cross-examining Mr Rose).

    There are false claims: – life on earth occurring by accident HASN’T been ruled out (it most certainly hasn’t been proved to have happened, either, but that’s not the same as being ruled out). Dr Behe himself has agreed that it HASN’T been established that the flagellum couldn’t have evolved (he thinks it unlikely to the point it’s not worth considering but, again, that’s not what Mr Rose reports).

    Apparently there’s a worldwide conspiracy whereby thousands of scientists have all decided to discard the standards that have informed their whole working lives and have, en masse, dispensed entirely with their professional and personal integrity in order knowingly to perpetuate a grand deception!

    Worst of all, we should all accept ID because …… hey, it’s obvious!!

    The whole purpose of the ID movement (I thought!) is to make the challenge to Darwinism better than this. Criticisms of the established wisdom must be accurate. ID must be supported with the results of sound, objective, scientific enquiry (not, ‘golly, everyone, isn’t it obvious?!’). The strategic objectives should be scientific, not political and / or social.

    Am I missing something?

  6. duncan,

    What you say makes a great deal of sense. In particular, the worldwide conspiracy idea ought to be dropped entirely. The plain and simple fact is that scientists bat around ideas, theories and evidence continually, and in many different fora (peer-reviewed journals, conferences etc.).So there’s plenty off opportunities for different points of view to be raised, argued about (quite heatedly at times) and in the end it’s probably the best way to get at what’s really happening in nature.

    Scientists don’t actually tend to disregard facts, even if they could overturn established theories. Just today I have been looking at the Pioneer anomaly, something which could (possibly) lead to old ideas having to be set aside in favour of a new theory. Yet scientists aren’t just disregarding the anomaly – they’re looking at it, talking about it and even holding conferences on it. Many, and maybe all, realise it could lead to great new insight.

  7. Duncan,

    you said

    “Am I missing something?”

    Yes, the fact that those teaching and espousing the theory presented in classrooms and textbooks have no empirical evidence for their theories other than the trivial which ID agrees with.

    One way of promoting ID is to point out that the alternatives lack empirical evidence and as such the truth most likely lies in an alternative to these alternatives. So one of ID’s key approaches is to undermine the current paradigm which exists not because of the overwhelming evidence for it but for philosophical reasons.

    That is why Behe’s Edge of Evolution was so important. It exposed the emperor clothes-less situation. There are tons of studies that refute the current paradigm and none that support it. Apparently you are missing the science involved.

  8. The strategic objectives should be scientific, not political and / or social.

    Guillermo Gonzalez wasn’t being political. He wasn’t even doing ID at work. They crushed him. Why would anyone want to pursue “sound, objective, scientific enquiry” into ID, if the end result is that you are made an example of by mainstream science, and you can’t complain or demand a place in the public square?

  9. Platosplaything– But it seems to me completely out-of-line to describe evolution as a “lie.”

    That’s a fair point in that there are many intelligent, decent people who think it’s true and have a rational foundation for their views, and when they espouse it they are not lying.

    Further, there are aspects of evolution that are accepted by just about everybody posting on this blog.

    OTOH, there are things included in the teaching of evolution that were long known to be untrue and yet were still included as evidence for it (i.e. Haeckel’s drawings).

    Further, the claim that evolution is an established, undeniable truth is not true, yet there are those who insist on teaching it to the young so it is fair to call them liars.

    Further, there are those who resort to lies and politics to defend NDE (see the responses to Dembski’s book on Amazon). If they claim their position as science yet can’t defend or describe their position rationally and objectively then one could fairly think they were lying about their position.

  10. Duncan,

    You might like “The Cosmic Blueprint” by Paul Davies. He’s not pro-ID, but he does reject Neo-Darwinism. According to him (if I remember correctly), the Darwinian/materialist explanation is accepted by most scientists because it has worked well at some levels, and its assumed that it will continue working at all levels. Davies says that the extrapolation to higher levels is not substantiated.

    The common acceptance of Neo-Darwinism is due to human nature, not a conspiracy or anything malevolent.

    Another somewhat relevant book is “The Intelligent Universe” by James Gardner. He’s definitely not pro-ID either, but he also (at least implicitly) rejects the idea that the commonly accepted materialistic mechanisms could account for the organization of the universe.

    I think its encouraging that in spite of their disagreements with ID claims, they acknowledge the that the commonly accepted mechanisms are insufficient to explain the organization of the universe (in particular in biology).

  11. PlatosPlaything – Zoe
    Good point to challenge the message where its overhyped. I posted this to encourage others to write and post articles, whatever their background, and to promote discussion – which you have done.

    On “lies”, encourage you to read Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution, which shows textbooks reproducing known hoaxes and experiments that have been refuted or shown to be irrelevant.
    e.g., Haeckels embryos and the Miller Urey experiment.

    On Origin of Life, see Sir Fred Hoyle, Mathematics of Evolution, where the probability of life originating on earth is so astronomically small that he advocated “panspermia”. However that only displaces the problem elsewhere, it does not solve it.

  12. Jerry, Russ – thanks for the responses.

    A question – what did you think of Gordon Rose’s letter? Do you not think the Darwinists would make mincemeat of it?

    re: Existence (or otherwise) of empirical evidence for Darwinism – if you think the evidence is unconvincing, fine, but many don’t. How might they be challenged, though? Saying ‘ID is obvious’ is just so inadequate it hardly warrants a response.

    re: Gonzalez – I’m not qualified to comment. There’s been a lot on UD saying he’s been treated very badly, and some on Panda’s Thumb saying he hasn’t (yes, I read the opposition – don’t necessarily believe it, just as I don’t necessarily believe UD).

    Phillip Johnson (the ‘father’ of ID, as I understand it) is recently reported to have said: -
    “I also don’t think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove. No product is ready for competition in the educational world.”

    Addressing this is where the future lies for ID, and what I come to UD hoping to find.

  13. Duncan,

    I just re-read the Rose letter. I do not find too much wrong with it except he should have clarified what the theory of evolution is. There is no such theory. If he said the teaching of evolution using completely naturalistic means for the origin of species then the article is better framed.

    They are teaching lies in the classroom and in the textbooks. It is fairly easy to point that out. Not everything they teach is a lie but how they manipulate the information is definitely a form of lying. By the way I have no religious objections to any theory that could explain the origin of species.

    you said

    “re: Existence (or otherwise) of empirical evidence for Darwinism – if you think the evidence is unconvincing, fine, but many don’t. How might they be challenged, though? Saying ‘ID is obvious’ is just so inadequate it hardly warrants a response.”

    I never said ID is obvious. I find it logical. I find gradualism one of the most illogical theories I have ever seen. I spent most of my life believing Darwin and then about 8 years ago started to read and found out it was nonsense. I have not seen any direct evidence for a naturalistic mechanism for the origin of species. If you can find any, let me know. Those who find the evidence convincing have never survived the cross examination here. They usually leave or get banned after hurling some ad hominems. They are a consistent bunch.

    They use circumstantial evidence such as common descent, and geographical dispersion but never anything direct. Neither of these is evidence for a naturalistic method. I have read textbooks, watched a course on biology I have from the Teaching Company, watched the evolution section of the UC Berkeley biology course by three separate professors and none present any evidence for a naturalistic origin of species. It is all circumstantial and negative arguments against a designer.

    They fail to address the facts that would have to accompany a naturalistic mechanism especially gradualism. If you can find someone who disagrees with this and can present something, go ahead. We have challenged all sorts of people who come here and all have punted including biologists and evolutionary biologists. It gets embarrassing for them when they cannot come up with anything.

    But maybe you could try.

  14. PlatosPlaything:

    About the lies. You are partially right. The darwinian theory of evolution is not in itself a lie. It is only a wrong theory, but it is perfectly acceptable that many scientists still believe in it, in good faith, especially if they are not really aware of the arguments of ID. Anyway, it’s perfectly possible that antagonistic theories can exist together in science for some time, until one definitely prevails. That “could” be the status of ID and darwinian evolution today: pacific, although antagonistic, existence in the world of modern science.

    But that’s not the situation we are in, and that’s where the lies begin. Let’s make it clear: not all scientists are lying, but a few very powerful ones are. The others are only conformist, or just not interested.

    The lies are not in the theory of darwinian evolution. Those are only errors of thought. The lies are in the constant denial of all the ID arguments. Darwinists are constantly repeating that all ID arguments are lies, or are stupid (see the reviews of Dembski’s book on Amazon). Well, that’s a true lie. An undeniable lie. You can think that ID arguments are wrong, but not that they are stupid or insincere. ID arguments are very, very smart. And they are perfectly sincere. They may be wrong (but they are not). So, darwinists are lying on that. Constantly lying. I don’t know if that’s a conspiracy, but it’s certainly a squalid intellectual persecution.

    Another lie: the theory of evolution has been repeatedly defined “a fact” and not a theory, even on important peer reviewed journals. That’s not only a lie, but also a violation of all the fundamental concepts of scientific method. A theory can “never” be a fact. A fact can “never” be a theory. Some important scientist, I don’t remember his name, has even written that the theory of relativity is still considered a theory, because somebody sometimes disagrees with it, while evolution is a fact, because no scientist has ever doubted of it! These are lies, hallucinations, farce. Whate a shame!

    That darwinian theory cannot be challenged is a lie. That ID is creationism is a lie. That the IC of the flagellum has been explained away is a lie. The “hand of cards argument”, recently repeated by Larry Moran on his blog, is a lie. That science has to be restricted to so called “naturalistic” explanations is a lie.

    You say: “We have two opposing scientific viewpoints – evolutionism and Intelligent Design. Eventually, if the weight of evidence is on our side, ID will win. But it does us no good to describe ordinary, “normal” science as a lie.”

    Ordinary science is not a lie. It looks for facts, and that’s right and valuable. It interpretates facts, and that’s correct. But interpretations must not be falsely presented as facts, or as absolute truths. That’s a lie. Interpretations must be open to counter-interpretations. As you say, two or more opposing scientific viewpoints must confront trìhemselves on a purely intellectual plane. That’s not what happens. And if you ask a darwinist why he doesn’t want to address ID arguments, “his” answer will be: because ID is not science, or is a lie, or is religion. Well, those are the lies which make darwinism no more a wrong theory, but an intolerable misrepresentation of reality.

  15. Somewhat off topic but very interesting. Science magazine put out their Breakthrough of the year and it is Human Genetic Variation.

    Apparently they are sequencing several human beings and comparing genomes to determine what makes each individual different. The link is

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/...../5858/1842

  16. A good example of the obfuscation carried out by Darwinists in the media is a recent article in New Scientist (8 Dec.) entitled The Moths of War. It is about the famous peppered moth story so beloved by Darwinists. The author cites some recent research that corrected errors in Kettlewell’s original research, confirming that the rise of the melanic moth was the result of changes in gene frequencies caused by natural selection. Duh. ID certainly encorporates such trivial examples of microevolution which undoubtedly do happen. But the author seems to wishfully think this new study somehow defeats the critics of Darwinism who have actually discredited the contention that this industrial melanism somehow shows that differential selection of alleles can result in macroevolution.

  17. 17

    Another lie: the theory of evolution has been repeatedly defined “a fact” and not a theory, even on important peer reviewed journals. That’s not only a lie, but also a violation of all the fundamental concepts of scientific method. A theory can “never” be a fact. A fact can “never” be a theory. Some important scientist, I don’t remember his name, has even written that the theory of relativity is still considered a theory, because somebody sometimes disagrees with it, while evolution is a fact, because no scientist has ever doubted of it! These are lies, hallucinations, farce. Whate a shame!

    Hmmm. Wouldn’t it be fair to say that evolution (in the fact that phenotypes have changed over time, common descent etc.) is a fact, as verifiable as the fact that things fall when you drop them. The Theory of Evolution, on the other hand, is a connected body of arguments, intended to explain the fact(s) of evolution? Just as Newton’s theory of universal gravitation, or General Relativity, are theories that explain the facts of falling bodies? i.e., we are talking about things at different epistemic levels?

  18. PlaytosPlaything [re 17]

    When I drop a hammer I can watch it fall. A falling hammer is a “fact” we can observe directly.

    Now you say common descent is also a “fact.” So the question is: Did you observe common descent directly the way I observed that hammer fall, or did you infer common descent from other data? Unless you are 3 billion years old, you did not observe common descent directly. That leaves the other option. You inferred it from other data.

    The next question: Is a fact we infer of the same epistimic status as a fact we infer but have not actualy observed? Clearly not. Why? Because when we observe a fact directly it is highly unlikely that other data will be found that will change our conclusion about the fact. On the other hand, it may well be that other data will be found that could lead us to other inferences.

    Conclusion: We can never be as certain that common descent is a fact as we are that hammers drop to the ground is a fact. Therefore, it is fatuous to say the theory of evolution accounts for the “fact” of common descent in the same way the theory of gravity accounts for the “fact” of dropping hammers.

  19. BarryA, I believe that there are two fundimental errors in your “hammer” logic. The first, of course, is that we have not observed all hammers that ever have or will fall. The second, though, the greater error is that we have never observed gravity “cause” a hammer to fall. Gravity, after all is an invisible force that can only be inferred from evidence. Interestingly, the cause of gravity remains to be of great scientific debate, as the cause of common descent should be of great scientific debate.

    Many of us IDers are quite comfortable with common descent, there is really a rather strong case for common descent. However, common descent and ID are by no means mutually exclusive.

    That said, I would agree with you that there is significantly more evidence of the invisible force we have labeled gravity than there is of common descent, especially when there is an alternative explanation, common design, which can produce very similar patterns.

  20. bfast — there is really a rather strong case for common descent.

    Assuming the existence of a designer there is probably a stronger case for uncommon descent i.e. all life not having a single common ancestor.

  21. bfast, barrya’s point was about this idea that CD is a “fact”- barry uses the example of gravity becasue like evlution- we dont know who or what is guiding it- the hamer dropping is obviously dropping- its moving in a direction from A to B and we can see it move from A to B- we know what condition it was in position A as well as B where it finishes.

    This is a “fact” by simplisic empirical observation- you argumnet about all hamers falling is not an argunet it is a fact as well called the probem of induction- we never know anyhting or everyhting perfectly beyond infallibility.

    You cannot say that CD is anything like the hammer example- the hamer example while we know not what guided it- we know its “whole story” from postion A to postion B.

    We dont know the “whole story” from position A (say an extinct primate) to its contingent position B 1)its death or 2) its tranformation into a human.

  22. bFast and others:

    Just to be clear:

    1) Facts are “observable” events. They are facts if they are observed. They can be observed repeatedely and easily (the fall of objects), or only rarely and ib special circumstances (some subatomic events), but still they are facts. Facts are, in hemselves, true, in the sense that they have happened. Unless one has a very weird general view of the world, one can never deny a fact. Obviously, there may ne errors in the “observation” of facts, that is we can believe that we have observed a fact, but we can be wrong because of some methodological error in our empiric way of gathering observations. Such errors are usually discovered, in time.

    2) Theories are models, usually mathematical, but at least logical, which try to “explain” facts, and if possible to make previsions of new facts (this is, usually, the standard conception of a scientific theory, although it’s probably not that simple). Theories are never ultimately true, although they can be sometimes proved ultimately false. Any theory can be proved false, or at least partially false, by new facts.
    Theories are of various “weight”. Penrose, if I remember well, hase classified scientific theories in 3 groups: the occasional ones (which are many), the important ones (not many, not few), and the really fundamental ones (very few).

    To be clear: the fall of a hammer is a fact, gravity is a theory (many different theories indeed: classical newtonian gravity, general relativity gravity, quantum gravity, and so on).

    Newton’s theoty is a theory. Relativity is a theoty. Quantum theory is a theory. They will never be facts.

    Lets’ go to evolution. Here, we must be very careful, and separate the observable from the explanations. Let’s take the example of cmmon descent (which, by the way, I usually accept, although not with total faith): there are some observable facts, say the omologies between genes in different species, the morphological similarities between species, organs, parts of the body, some fossil evidences, HERVs, and so on. Common descent is a theory which tries to explain those facts with a model. Other theories can try to do the same in different ways (for instance, common design). Any of these theories is subject to discussion and challenge, and each can be supported or unsupported by new facts. That’s the status, the privilege and the weakness of all theories in the world.

    So, common descent is not a fact, and never will be. That’s not a defect. From that point of view, it is in the same company as gravitation, relativity and quantum mechanics, not a bad group at all. Obviously, I am not saying that it is equally important or supported by facts…

    Let’s go to evolution, which is, like “love”, definitely an unlucky word, because it may mean a lot of different things. But, even if you take the minimal meanings (there has been some change from one species to another, up to the present), and make no assumption about the causal mechanism of the change, still it is a theory, and not a fact. Other theories exist (for instance, de novo veration of each new species) which can expalin the facts.

    I am not saying that I don’t believe in CD or evolution (in the minimal sense cited). In a very general sense, I do believe in both. But I do believe that ID is a much stronger theory than CD or evolution. In other words, I am much more certain of the inference of a designer, than I am of CD or evolution. In my opinion, the design inference is much stronger, elegant, supported and powerful than any other general biological theory about the fundamental problems of he existence of biological beings (Obviously, I am not saying that the design inference is in any way incompatible with CD and evolution: they are all independent theories, about different aspects of reality. ID is a theory about the causal mechanism of biological information generation; CD and evolution are theories about the historical modalities of such generation).

    Therefore, all the attempts of darwinists to affirm darwinian evolution, or even CD and minimal evolution (but they usually don’t make any distinction) as a fact, are only epistemological dementia.

    Finally, let’s remember a phrase (I don’t remember who said it), which says, more or less: “I have seen many theories fall in front of a fact, but never one fact fall in front of a theory”.

  23. PlaytosPlaything,

    The fact that you bring up common descent is an indication you are reading what some say supports a naturalistic mechanism of evolution. It is the main argument of the theistic evolutionists. But in reality common descent says nothing about fossil A and fossil B or species A and Species B and how they may have arrived on the scene.

    So to use common descent as an argument for gradualism is really an admission that there isn’t anything else to support it. And since common descent is consistent with the 4 main models most often proposed for the origin of species it says nothing about any of them.

    Gradualism has been the model taught as fact in textbooks and the classroom but has nothing going for it. Believe me I would have seen it when examining what is taught. The famous moths, the famous finch beaks are all examples of what is taught as support of gradualism and each is so trivial as to be an embarrassment to those who resort to these example as empirical evidence for gradualism.

    So please don’t bring up common descent. It is consistent with nearly every mechanism brought up as the cause of the origin of species. So as an explanation it has zero value. It is also an indication that you are stuck for any explanation in support of gradualism. My guess is that like many who come here you would like to show us the error of our ways. But each has failed. We always ask the question, why.

    If you want to know the true reason why gradualism is accepted and taught you have to look elsewhere. There are two reasons, one scientific and one philosophical.

  24. The observed “facts” (as opposed to theories and hypotheses and pure imaginings about these facts) are the fossil record, comparative physiology, and genetics. These facts would seem to be best explained by a combination of gradualism and design, where each level of organization in the process seems to be used as the baseline for the next innovative step.

    Very many examples in developmental and comparative physiology, genetics and the fossil record overwhelmingly indicate some form of evolutionary process. This seems to show a contingent process dependent on each previous stage of development.

    Not considering information, probability and time constraints and ideological biases this data could be considered as having at least possibly resulted from any of several processes: (1) natural (reproductive) fitness-based selection fed by random variation, (2) natural selection continuously fed by intelligently influenced or created variation, (3) periodic direct redesign from outside the “system” followed by gradual change from RV + NS, (4) periodic expression of prerecorded planned genetic templates followed by gradual change from RV + NS (“frontloading”), or (5) some permutation or combination.

    This excludes certain other possibilities which are not logically prevented, such as periodic total redesign from scratch, recent creation of the entire system ex nihilo, etc.

    All the models 1-5 result automatically in common descent, and almost all the available evidence clearly points to it though not proving it, including the fossil record, comparative genetics and comparative physiology of living organisms.

    Models 2-5 appear to fit all the data in a general sense, plus informational, probability and time constraints. Model 1 doesn’t fit the fossil data, or informational, probability and time constraints.

    The third and to some extent the second models are in some ways analogous to human technological development. My personal preference is the third model.

  25. while ID is certainly compatible with the idea of common descent, once you infer ID, the data used to infer common descent may just be the result of something else. And even if you believe that everything was the result of natural causes, you can’t make a real case for common descent unless you had a theory of evolution that can make testable predictions.

    It’s the same as anything else in science. For example, a company claims they have studies proving that their diet drug “works.” (and trot out quite a few before and after pictures) The FDA will laugh at them if they don’t know how the drug is supposed to work. And that’s just the first step.

  26. magnan (16) wrote:
    A good example of the obfuscation carried out by Darwinists in the media is a recent article in New Scientist (8 Dec.) entitled The Moths of War.
    -

    but even in that case we are not exactly talking about controlled double blind experiments.
    also see
    http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....0Responses

  27. BarryA (in #18), said “When I drop a hammer I can watch it fall. A falling hammer is a “fact” we can observe directly”

    Maybe for you, but not for everybody. Hammers dropped in the International Space Station do not drop. That has been witnessed. Hammers dropped on the moon drop, but differently than you would have observed – being that they drop as slow as a feather. That has been observed and filmed.

  28. ari-freedom (#26), the point is that natural selection is uncontroversial, whether or not the peppered moth story itself is an example of it or not. This new research may show that the peppered moth phenomenon is indeed an example of differential selection of modified versions of alleles. The evidence is overwhelming that this happens in nature. Double blind experimental testing is impossible for organisms in nature observed by biologists, but this is irrelevant. Wells in your linked Discovery Institute paper points this out clearly:

    “For one thing, we don’t need peppered moths to prove that natural selection happens; we have much better examples. One of them (as I pointed out in Icons of Evolution) is the oscillating change in average beak size in Galápagos finches documented by Peter and Rosemary Grant in the 1970s (and later described in Jonathan Weiner’s book The Beak of the Finch).17 Another much-cited example is the spread of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.18

    The question is not whether natural selection happens (it obviously does), but how much it can accomplish.”

  29. ari-freedom (#25): “…while ID is certainly compatible with the idea of common descent, once you infer ID, the data used to infer common descent may just be the result of something else.”

    Sure, this is a logical possibility, but science of necessity often resorts to abductive reasoning and the choice of the best model given all the data. I would contend that by far the best model is one that includes some form of common descent. All the leading ID theorists that I know of adhere to this view.

    If it weren’t for all the evidence of relatedness due to comparative physiology and the fossil record, the examples of two forms sharing a genetic accident seem to be the most compelling clues. Behe brings up the case where both humans and chimps share the same “broken” hemoglobin gene (pseudogene). The defects are identical. This pseudogene is a genetic accident that is shared by both lineages. The implications are obvious. Of course, you are free to postulate that both species were created separately with the identical pseudogenes. It isn’t logically impossible, but science should prefer the best explanation based on the actual evidence.

    “And even if you believe that everything was the result of natural causes, you can’t make a real case for common descent unless you had a theory of evolution that can make testable predictions.”

    Not so. We can infer design without knowing the nature of the designer, as has been discussed many times here. So we can infer common descent without having detailed knowledge of the overall mechanism of common descent, how it is produced by the process. Here “common descent” is defined in the broad sense of some process of evolution (like my models 1-5 in #24 above) in which each successive major or minor stage is based on the previous. This is opposed to some model in which each apparent step is not really an incremental step but a separate creation from scratch.

  30. There is a big difference between saying that natural selection “happens” in a few selected cases vs the idea that natural selection is a dominant force in nature.

    You can’t use antibiotic/pesticide resistance as an example of natural selection unless you say that dog breeding and all other artificial selection are really “natural” selection.

    * There is evidence that animals and plants control their population and don’t overexploit resources, unlike man.

    * Field studies find natural selection hard to detect
    http://www.discovery.org/a/2531

    * Spetner’s chapter 7 is full of examples showing that the examples of microevolution may very well be the result of change on an individual level triggered by an environmental cue.

    * neutralists have pointed out that most observed genetic change is the result of random genetic drift

    * There are many examples that compelled Darwin to come up with a theory of sexual selection that is supposedly so powerful that it trumps natural selection. This is where things can get really wacky.

    * paleontologists tell us that species are in stasis over 90-99% of the time. We see very little microevolution except for change in size.

  31. magnan 29
    just the top of my head:

    * you are forgetting the many cases of convergences, even on the molecular level. This implies common design, not common descent.

    * It is difficult to imagine how an ape can be capable of giving birth and raising something that is not an ape.

    * I thought we all learned from the vestigial organs/junk dna line of argument.

    * there are no clear cut phylogenies in the large scale. Life is mosaical and “bushy”

  32. Ari, you said “There is a big difference between saying that natural selection “happens” in a few selected cases vs the idea that natural selection is a dominant force in nature.”
    That may be true. But, once the door is open to accept that natural selection happens at all, then the problem becomes identifying where it can’t occur. The trivial assertion that it can’t occur somewhere is no longer valid. Instead, that assertion must be supported with some evidetiary and logical means.

    Also, when you say that “It is difficult to imagine how an ape can be capable of giving birth and raising something that is not an ape”, you basically did show the means to imagine just that, a moment later. For, when you suggest that “Life is mosaical and ‘bushy’”, you are showing that a baby ape with some small mutation is both “not an ape” while being “still an ape”. A bushy phylogeny does not allow for a clear enough demarcation to show that your suggested baby is or is not still an ape.

  33. Q writes: “Maybe for you, but not for everybody. Hammers dropped in the International Space Station do not drop. That has been witnessed. Hammers dropped on the moon drop, but differently than you would have observed – being that they drop as slow as a feather.”

    I’m not sure what your point is Q. Are you denying that hammers drop on earth, which, of course, was the context of my comment? If not, what is the point of your comment?

  34. BarryA commented “I’m not sure what your point is Q.”

    My point is that your claim about “facts” of the hammer based upon your observations in post 18 (you did not qualify on earth) is more a claim about an inference than a “fact”. You observe that hammers fall, and infer that hammers always fall when dropped. But they don’t, as I pointed out.

    I’m suggesting that “facts” as described in this thread are no more than interpretations about observations. They are, by their nature, simply inferences. “Facts” about falling hammers are fundamentally similar to “facts” about similarities amongst fossils and genes.

    When you ask “Is a fact we infer of the same epistimic status as a fact we infer but have not actualy observed?”, you conclude “of course not.” But, the facts you infer are not facts – they are inferences.

    Also in your reply, you mention that probability is an essential element. You mention “Because when we observe a fact directly it is highly unlikely that other data will be found that will change our conclusion about the fact.” More accurately, I suggest, the claim should be “Because when we observe an event directly…”, and then build the argument around the frequency that similar events versus exceptions. Your example of the hammer has clear exceptions, for instance.

    All of this affects your conclusion “We can never be as certain that common descent is a fact as we are that hammers drop to the ground is a fact.”

    We can be sure that not all hammers will necessarily drop to the ground as a fact, so we gain no insight about the certainty of common descent from the description of “facts”.

  35. oops – my mistake. I should have typed the quote above as “Clearly not”, instead of “of course not.” sorry.

  36. Q

    You can’t drop a hammer in zero gravity. You can throw it, you can let go of it, but you can’t drop it. There has to be a direction that is “down” to drop something. So technically Barry is still correct.

  37. I see your point, DaveScot, but it seems to depend upon a circular agument – your suggestion is that drop implies fall, so something will automatically fall if dropped. That would not at all be an argument describing observations, but instead would be a semantic argument based upon specific definitions. I doubt that BarryA is trying to make claims about “facts” based upon such a circular argument.

    If he meant to use “drop” as a general claim about hammers and gravity, as it “to let fall” (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary), then his claim is incomplete, because letting something fall doesn’t mean that it will fall. One can release your grip on the hammer inside the ISS, just as one can on earth.

    Besides, I suspect that the greater argument is about claims made from observation, and whether those are “facts” or “inferences”, including the observation that hammers typically fall when a grip on them is released.

    A subtle aspect of my point is that as we learn more about the world, our experiences are no longer complete. Related to this, we must expand our understandings about “facts” as we learn more about the real world.

  38. Q
    “That may be true. But, once the door is open to accept that natural selection happens at all, then the problem becomes identifying where it can’t occur. The trivial assertion that it can’t occur somewhere is no longer valid. Instead, that assertion must be supported with some evidetiary and logical means.”
    -

    Why should I accept natural selection at all? You have to do more than bring a few selected examples that could be the result of an artifact. It is your burden to show that this is a real effect. This is a big problem especially once you throw in genetic drift and sexual selection and all kinds of other theoretical mechanisms into the bag. Then you have to be able to measure it. If it exists but it is very very weak then it is as if it didn’t exist at all.

    “Also, when you say that “It is difficult to imagine how an ape can be capable of giving birth and raising something that is not an ape”, you basically did show the means to imagine just that, a moment later. For, when you suggest that “Life is mosaical and ‘bushy’”, you are showing that a baby ape with some small mutation is both “not an ape” while being “still an ape”. A bushy phylogeny does not allow for a clear enough demarcation to show that your suggested baby is or is not still an ape.”
    -

    Life is discontinuous and mosaical with many convergences and not the gradual ladder that darwin predicted. That’s not evidence for phylogeny.

    My other problem is logistics. A mother’s immune system will kill off anything foreign. An animal with a small pelvis will not be able to give birth to a baby with a big head. In other words, in order for man to come from an ape, that ape had better be prepared for it beforehand.

  39. ari-freedom asks “Why should I accept natural selection at all?”

    Because if you and I were walking in the forest, and a bear started chasing us, how fast would you need to run?

    Faster than me.

    OK, that’s not really a scientific reason. But it seemed to fit :-) But, I thought that natural selection of mutations which results in micro-evolution wasn’t inconsistent with ID.

  40. I don’t have a “problem” with micro-evolution as a result of natural selection. I just don’t see that much evidence for it.

    You may think being faster helps against the bear but someone who is very fast is not going to be very strong or have much endurance to deal with other problems. Fitness is multi-dimensional.

    The biggest problem I have is the stasis for million years with a changing environment. But this doesn’t just affect micro-evolution as a result of natural selection but one would certainly expect to see change simply due to genetic drift. So what is going on here?

  41. Ari-freedom mentioned in 40, “The biggest problem I have is the stasis for million years with a changing environment.”

    I don’t mean to be asserting evidence that conflicts with your analysis, but common claims indicate that 95% to 99% of all species are now extinct. That doesn’t lend much support for millions of years of stasis. It would indicate, at the minimum, that changes that result from genetic drift, from mutations, or from front loading, have a reasonable opportunity to thrive in a newly opened niche.

  42. that’s under the darwinist assumption that there must have been many many transitional forms that went extinct.

    I don’t go for this darwinist stuff but some “change over time” makes sense. The problem is, species don’t look like they changed much at all for hundreds of millions of years. A horseshoe crab from 500 million years ago looks just like a horseshoe crab today. That’s what I mean by stasis.

  43. Natural selection is operating all the time around us. It just cannot produce anything that is not in the original gene pool of the species. Dembski and Wells in the Design of Life have a great example of the effects of natural selection with the English Sparrow which was brought to the Americas and originally didn’t thrive till variations popped up and now it thrives with these new variations that differ by region.

    No one gets anywhere arguing that natural selection does not take place. It just does not accomplish much because it is limited by the gene pool of the species. The English Sparrow is interesting but essentially shows the limitations of it. They are still English Sparrows.

  44. Guys,

    why is there such a confusion about facts and inferences/theories? I thought it was simple.

    Again, the dropping of a hammer is a fact, the statement that any hammer, in any situation, will drop is a (wrong) inference. A collection of observations of various bodies which drop on earth is collection of facts, Newton’s theory of gravitation is an inference, a very good one, I would say.

    There must not, and there cannot be confusion between the two categories. Facts are observed events, no conclusion is made about them. A fact, or a collection of facts, does not explain anything. Only theories “explain”. Theories are never observed, and they always explain (or rather try to do that). Theories are judgements, they are logical and mathematical structures. Facts are mere observations of events. No confusion is possible, in my opinion, except (as is the case for darwinists) when you “need” confusion. Darwinists need the confusion because, if they allowed that their theory is a theory, they should naturally accept confrontation with other theories, like ID. Defining it a fact, in their contorted reasoning, gives it a status of absolute truth, and allows them to arrogantly dismiss any scientific debate about their “theory which has become a fact”. As I said before, that is just epistemological dementia, a real shame for logical and scientific reasoning.

    By the way, almost two days ago I made a post here which has never surfaced. I attach it again here.

    magnan:

    it’s beautiful to see somebody trying to intelligently reflect on the problem of the modalities od design implementation. Although the inference of design does not require knowledge of the modalities, I think that the problem of modalities comes next.

    I agree with your summary of the logical possibilities, although I would not a priori exclude what you call “periodic total redesign from scratch”. In general, I agree with you that option 3 (periodic direct redesign from outside the “system” followed by gradual change from RV + NS) seems at present the best one. I was once mor in favour of option 2 (gradualistic and continuous design implementation), bur I find that most evidence from the fossil record, especially the cambrian explosion, stays against that.

    Examining more in detail the strategies which could have been used to implement design, either in a gradualistic or continuous way, I think we should concentrate on two possibilities: intelligent directed variation and/or intelligent directed selection.

    The only model we can look at in nature ia the very intelligent model of creation of immunological specificity (both antibodies and T cell receptors). For antibodies, in particular, we have a very interesting scenario:

    1) Creation of a basic repertoir through bery intelligently engineered recombination of a few genes, in order to create a basic variety of receptors which can grssly cover most possibilities of antigens. That’s interesting, because in this case the search space is very big (but not extremely big, after all haptens are small molecules), and a carefully engineered system of recombination seems to utilize directed random variation to attain a basic antibody repertoir with large sensibility, but low specificity. The interesting thing is that in this system, the variation is random and totally unaware of the specific target, although happening in a very carefully engineered context, which is probably very aware of the general “nature” of the target (natural haptens).

    2) Creation and selection of highly specific antibodies “after” a primary immune response (so called “antibody maturation”). This is even more interesting, because again a mechanism of directed random variation is used, but this time it is applied to a much more restricted search space (the antibodies which have already responded to a specific antigen), and the results are very intelligently selected according to the specific affinity for the original antigen. So, in this case, the information about the specific target is already available, probably at the level of antigen presenting cells, and we are xactly in the situation of a random search with informed selection: something like the “methink it’s like a weasel example”, where the result to be obtained is known in advance (in reality, here it is the target which is known, while the antibody has to be modeled on the target).

    So, one possible model of design implementation could be: directed and intensive random variation, restricted to the sites of interest, followed by modeling, through intelligent selection, of the random results, according to a known model or project. At both levels, a careful and very intelligent process of engineering is absolutely necessary.

  45. gpuccio just said “Facts are observed events, no conclusion is made about them.”

    At the risk of sounding pedantic, I’ll comment that at the basest sense, that claim is not supportable. Or at least, it is not provable as true. Anytime we make an observation, we assume that signals are transmitted – light is reflected, sound it generated, we can touch and feel things. But, can anyone prove those observactions to be true descriptions of reality? Philosophy shows that you may be fully hallucinating and nothing actually occured – ever.

    One’s interpretation of those events are “facts” is still based upon some inference from past experience. It’s all a matter of probability and ease of explanation.

    My point has been that separating “facts” from inference is a fruitless task, since no such distinction is possible.

    I understand, however, your separation of data from information. Data correlates for facts, information correlates to inference. But, even that data has some subjectivity associated with it – when, how, and where it was collected – and has a finite, if not quantum, probability of error that we can never correct for.

    Which brings up, can you ever prove that all the material in the hammer didn’t change quantum states and simply perform a quantum jump to the floor? If it did, it wouldn’t have fallen, being that it wouldn’t ever exist between the hand and the floor. Physically its possible, just really, really unlikely. Inference of our past experience allows us to “know” that it didn’t happen, even though there is a finite possibility that it did.

  46. ari-freedom in 42 mentions “A horseshoe crab from 500 million years ago looks just like a horseshoe crab today. That’s what I mean by stasis.”

    Oh, thanks for explaining what you mean by stasis. Please forgive what sounds like a smart-ass comment, but a horshow crab of 500 million years ago would look like a fossil. Do we know that all descendents of the horseshow crab still look exactly like that parent crab?

    Note that I’m not talking about transitional forms into some wildly new form. I’m asking you about any variation at all, even if only subtle.

  47. ari-freedom (#30): “There is a big difference between saying that natural selection “happens” in a few selected cases vs the idea that natural selection is a dominant force in nature.”

    “Natural selection” by itself is axiomatic and axiomatically a dominant force. Organisms survive to reproduce or not. An organism that survives to reproduce spreads its genetic complement into the population. It must have survived to reproduce for some combination of reasons. One of these possible reasons is because it was modified by some genetic change. Or it may have survived just through dumb luck. The possible active causal factors leading to reproduction or death before reproduction include the physical environment, other organisms, and internal factors within the animal.

    So “natural selection” is a basic principle inherent in life. It must happen almost as a tautology – what survives is what survives, for whatever reason.

    The claim that is challenged by ID is that natural selection of random genetic variations is responsible for all of evolution.

    You point out a number of the interesting limitations of selection in the natural world. Certainly I am aware of these. They only establish and reinforce my (and most ID advocate’s) position that natural selection of random genetic variations as explicated in the population genetics of the “modern synthetic theory” is capable of only trivial change.

    The insertion of intelligence into the process must logically be mostly in the source and timing of genetic variation rather than in the selection process, since selection, no matter how intelligent, of modified forms is inherently limited to the modifications (genetic changes) available.

  48. Two items of interest have been discussed here: natural selection and common descent.

    Most IDers accept both of these notions. Behe for sure, and Dembski as well, although with some reservations about common descent.

    Here’s my trouble with both:

    1.) Natural selection. The Hardy-Weinberg Law is fundamental to population genetics. Basically it says that the number of alleles present in a large, randomly inter-breeding population will remain the same from one generation to the next. Now, due to stochastic effects, the phenotypes (dominant/recessive) will vary, but the total number of alleles won’t change. So, to have “evolution” you have to have some kind of change in the alleles themselves or else the null position is one of equilibrium over time (stasis—which is, of course, what we primarily see). So Darwinists are happy to say that a change in “gene frequencies” IS evolution; that is, &#916 gene frequency&#8801 evolution. This borders on the meaningless. Someone mentioned earlier the New Scientist article about the Peppered Moth. I looked at the numbers. Accepting the numbers, the melanic (dark) frequency does indeed go down from generation to generation under slight selective predation, reaching a very low value. But, it isn’t (theoretically) eliminated. Obviously the fewer melanics that exist, the harder it is to completely eliminated them. That can only happen by chance, and chance needs a long time. Likewise, when the soot was in the air, I’m sure the gene frequency of the typical moth color was quite low, but not eliminated. If we assume it was eliminated, then how did this “allele” come back to its present predominance? (If you assume the position that the “allele” has re-entered the population, then please tell us the mechanism by which this “allele” was reconstituted.) Again, population genetics has not demonstrated that in a theoretical way, these genes (either the melanic or typical) are eliminated.

    With the idea that these “genes” are not, theoretically “eliminated”, and bearing in mind that a change in gene frequency is sufficient for Darwinists to proclaim that “evolution” has occurred, I suggest you read the article on PhysOrg.com about the “pygmies”, and how they “evolved”. Now I’m ready to say that I’m different, and the vast majority of the world, is different from “pygmies”, but have they “evolved”? Has “natural selection” brought about this “evolution”? It seems to me that to talk about “pygmies” having “evolved” (presumably from the rest of us normal humans), then you might as well say Orientals have “evolved”, Africans have “evolved”, etc. To me this is meaningless talk and demonstrates how totally shallow the notion of natural selection is. Here’s what the noted population geneticist, William B. Provine, once a totally comitted neo-Darwinist, now says about natural selection: “Natural selection as a natural force belongs in the insubstantial category already populated by the Becker/Stahl phlogiston or Newton’s ‘ether’.”

    2.) Common Descent:

    It might be “plausible” to pretend that genetic changes in DNA can bring about new “species” (though it has never been demonstrated); indeed, we have Mendelian Laws of inheritance (which, in the day of genomic surveys we’re living in are becoming obsolete) that can give some sense of how genetic change may be passed on from one generation to the next. But my question is this: how does a reptilian egg become a bird egg, or a mammalian egg? So, while it’s true that the genetic code and cellular components are “common” to a vast array of taxonomic groupings, just how, may I ask, does a reptile egg become a bird egg? And, if you come up with an explanation for that, then, would it still be possible to talk about “common descent” under your proposed scenario?

    You know, Einstein stuck to “facts”; and he let the “facts” guide his thinking. The “fact” is that there is no transitional “egg” that I know of between that of reptiles and birds. Conjectures can’t make up for an absence of “facts”.

  49. In the last post, the &#916 and &#8801 are HTML codes that work perfectly in the “preview”, and then don’t get compiled when I post. The first code is for “delta” in Greek, or change, and the second one is for the “defined as” symbol. So that sentence should read: ‘The change in gene frequency is defined as evolution.’

    (Comically, as I read over the preview, the “delta” and the “defined as” are perfectly in place. Maybe someone can fix it so that we can use HTML code. It makes it infinitely easier to put in mathematical formulae.)

  50. ari-freedom (#31), convergences are certainly intriguing, and they seem to imply some sort of common design. However, a far vaster body of evidence clearly points to common descent. One thought is that the truth could be that both models have some validity. An outside intelligence intervening in evolution could well be also reusing some designs. Or convergences could result from some aspect of genetic front loading. Finally, there seem to be a lot more alternative explanations for convergences than for all the evidences from comparative physiology, genetics and the fossil record.

    “It is difficult to imagine how an ape can be capable of giving birth and raising something that is not an ape.”

    A silly example and begs too many questions to be useful. You seem to be tending toward special creation as a model.

    ” I thought we all learned from the vestigial organs/junk dna line of argument.”

    Darwinists predicted a lot of truly vestigial organs and a lot of junk DNA as the natural result of RV + NS. The reality is turning out very differently, somewhat discrediting RV + NS as the operative mechanism. This does not discredit common descent, since common descent is also entailed in the other possible models of evolution, which involve ID.

    ” there are no clear cut phylogenies in the large scale. Life is mosaical and “bushy”"

    It does seem to be turning out that way. The evidence from comparative genetics is becoming more ambiguous. However, this and the evidence clearly pointing to common descent in comparative physiology and the fossil record still need to be accommodated by any valid model. Special creation is not a valid model as far as I’m concerned though it is not logically impossible.

  51. PaV, in post 48, you discuss an interesting aspect of variation, in that frequencies of genes may vary, but the existance of a gene may not ever disappear.

    I’m trying to understand that claim in the other direction, however. It kind of seems that your position requires a constant population size to sufficiently argue against the introduction of stable genotypes, or else it requires front loading.

    For example, if the populations aren’t consistent, we can assume some amount of population growth or at least some amount of population fluctation. If the suppressed frequency of some trait – say the gray trait of the peppered moth – falls to some low number, like 1/N moths, and the population then falls to be below N moths, then there is a very good chance that the trait will disappear.

    However, assume we have a growing population instead of merely a fluctuating population. Then working backwards, we would see that population can also be below the frequency of the trait. That is, if the trait is 1/N of the animals have the genotype, we could work backward to where there were much fewer than N of the animals. That would indicate that it would be very unlikely that any animals had the trait. Essentially, animals come in whole units, so we can’t ever expect to have 1/100th of an animal with a trait.

    Of course, if front loading occurs, then all members of the population will have the trait from the origin of the population, so the growth rate doesn’t matter.

    Would you agree that your position effectively requires front loading, since it rejects the evolution of new traits? Or, am I missing some alternative?

  52. Q writes: Anytime we make an observation, we assume that signals are transmitted – light is reflected, sound it generated, we can touch and feel things. But, can anyone prove those observations to be true descriptions of reality? Philosophy shows that you may be fully hallucinating and nothing actually occurred – ever. One’s interpretation of those events are “facts” is still based upon some inference from past experience. It’s all a matter of probability and ease of explanation. My point has been that separating “facts” from inference is a fruitless task, since no such distinction is possible.”
    I will let Johnson (as reported by Boswell) refute your comment:
    “After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it – ‘I refute it thus.’”
    When I wrote my original comment I knew with virtual certainty that someone would respond with a variation of hyper-skepticism about falling hammers or play semantic games with the example. You did both.
    If Johnson lived today he would say, “Give me a break.” For all your philosophizing my point stands unrefuted to anyone who considers it reasonably. We observe hammers drop. We infer common descent. We can be more sure that hammers drop than common descent. It is a simple, practically self-evident, statement. I don’t know why you or anyone else would dispute it.

  53. gpuccio #44): “So, one possible model of design implementation could be: directed and intensive random variation, restricted to the sites of interest, followed by modeling, through intelligent selection, of the random results, according to a known model or project. At both levels, a careful and very intelligent process of engineering is absolutely necessary.”

    A very interesting conjecture, one that I had not considered before. The theorized natural NDE microevolutionary process says (grossly simplified) that in any given generation there would be multiple different small genetic changes appearing at random in different individuals in the population. Most of these are neutral or deleterious to the individual, but a few are selectively advantageous and may make it more likely that the individual reproduces and passes on this genetic change to the next generation. In any generation many such variant alleles are selectively spreading, dying out or interfereing with each other over the population.

    In a large free breeding population (say 100 million), with usual mutation rates over a few generations every possible single point mutation will occur in at least one individual somewhere in the population. You seem to be suggesting that the pattern of these random mutations (and other random genetic changes) could be directed toward an end so that their range is somewhat restricted (no longer totally random, but like “pink noise”), and additionally that the individuals with the desired random mutations be singled out to survive regardless of random luck factors in the wild. This would force them to be spread through the population regardless of selective fitness.

    This seems plausible logically, but the quasi-random source of genetic variation still doesn’t really deal with the problem of irreducibly complex biological systems, or the general problem of complex interdependency. It also doesn’t seem to be the most parsimonious scenario. A better scenario to me would be the purposeful direct genetic modification of a few selected individuals followed by their release in the wild. The designed modifications would improve reproductive fitness enough for the purely natural selection we have been discussing to have a good chance of fixing the new genotype in the population.

  54. magnan 47 natural selection is not axiomatically a dominant force once we know genetic drift occurs. It is far more reasonable to say that most genetic change is the result of genetic drift than natural selection. In order for natural selection to work, the beneficial mutant (and we only know it’s beneficial after the fact) must survive random death and take over the population.

    magnan 50 common descent follows from the natural mechanism that darwin proposed. Take out the natural mechanism and all you have are a bunch of “before and after” pictures. Can it still be true after ID is inferred? Perhaps but remember that we already observe intelligent design and special creation by engineers all the time. We see nested hierarchies all the time as a result of common design. I’m not “opposed” to the idea of common descent but I’m not compelled by it either. You don’t have to be compelled that life was *not* the result of common descent either. We just have to be open minded when it comes to explaining unobserved history.

  55. Q (#45):

    I can understand, and partly share, your arguments about the subjectivity of any experience, but I am afraid that you are really being pedantic, at least in this context, which is not that of pure phylosophy, but rathet of science methodology.

    Indeed, what is important to the practical aspects of science is the distinction between facts and theories, and that distinction is exactly the one I have given. Fact are observable events. Obviously, the observation must be objectively shared, otherwise there is no science, but only subjective experience. And there may be errors in the observation of events, but that can usually be fixed in time.

    Let’s go back to our hammer. From the point of science, we are not interested in speculations about the real nature of the event at the level where we are just colecting data: the important thing is that the dropping of the hammer be objectively observable by us (and for us, I mean any normal human observer) in a way whose “description” (not interpretation) may be shared. In that case, we have observed a fact. I am not saying that facts are the substance of reality: they are, anyway, objective observations of events. It is true that human observation includes a lot of automatic inferences: perception is indeed a reconstruction of reality, rather than a passive interaction. But those processe3s are shared between the observers, and are not important at the level of observation of facts for scientific purposes. All science starts with our shared observations of events. In a second moment, our inferences about those shared observations build theories about reality which include also new perspectives about how we perceive and reconstruct reality, up to the interesting and counter intuitive consequences of quantum mechanics.

    Therefore, I think there is no reason for being pedantic in this context. The important thing is to be able to distinguish between facts and theories “at the scientific level”, not to make purely philosophical speculations which have no relevance for the scientific problem we are debating. Physics, biologists, engineers, don’t usually challenge human observations: they just accept facts, provided that they are well documented, and build theories on them. That is science.

    But scientists must be well aware of the real, practical difference between facts and theories in science. Facts must be accepted, unless it may be proven that their observation was faulty. Theories must never be accepted dogmatically: they are inferences, and they can be challenged by other inferences. Facts are real, but they, in themselves, con’t explain anything. Theories explain, but they do not necessarily correspond to reality, and can always be discussed and challenged, even if they are god theories, especially if they are good theories.

    The problem we are debating here is that darwinists seem not to understand these fundamentals of scientific epistemology: they affirm that evolution, common descent, natural selection, genetic drift, and so on are “facts”, while they are al theories, good or bad it doesn’t matter. They “can” be3 discussed. They “can” be challenged. There is nothing unscientific in challenging, or doubting, or critically discussion darwinian evolution, or even common descent or natural selection. On the contrary, that is the essence of science. Darwinian censorship is trying to equate doubting the theory of darwinian evolution with denying facts. That is a supreme lie. They are caling us unscientific, denialists, IDiots, stupid, criminal, and everything else you can imagine. That is a supreme lie. Either we are right or wrong, we are doing science, in the best of the senses. They are doing censorship, intelectual persecution, dogmatism.

    If we want a real progress, the restoration of helthy scientific debate about the genesis of biological information “must” take place.

  56. BarryA wrote above “We can be more sure that hammers drop than common descent. It is a simple, practically self-evident, statement.”

    On this we agree. For probabilistic reasons – i.e. “more sure”.

    Maybe the problem is the scope of the argument that common descent isn’t observed. I still hold that both falling hammers and variation of descendents are “facts” as much as they are “inferences”. But, the more direct comment might be that variation amongst descendents is observed. Of course, not necessarily how it happens, but the variation is observed. This is similar to how the variation of the hammer’s position can be observed without knowing how gravity interacts with the hammer.

    Just as we assume as fact (i.e. infer to be consistently occur) that hammers will fall, we can similarly assume as fact (i.e. infer to occasionally occur) that the descendents will vary from the antecendents, even if only slightly.

    This is not an argument for or against front-loading. It is only that we can observe that variation of descendents can be observed, and not simply infer it from no observation.

  57. Q:

    You say:

    “Maybe the problem is the scope of the argument that common descent isn’t observed. I still hold that both falling hammers and variation of descendents are “facts” as much as they are “inferences”. But, the more direct comment might be that variation amongst descendents is observed. Of course, not necessarily how it happens, but the variation is observed. This is similar to how the variation of the hammer’s position can be observed without knowing how gravity interacts with the hammer.”

    I cannot agree with you. A falling hammer is a fact, because it is observed. The falling is observed. That has nothing to do with knowing why or how it happens (in more scientific terms, with having a mathematical model which can describe in abstract form what we are observing and make previsions about future observations of similar events).

    Common descent is a theory. You say that “variation amongst descendents is observed”. That’s not true. You observe fossils, or present homologies of form, or present homologies of DNA sequences, or anything else you want. You “infer” variation amongst descendents. To observe variation means to see it happening. In that case, it would be a fact. As we are talking of common descent, that is something which must have happened billions of years ago, we can only infer it, never observe it.

    So, common descent could be a fact, only if we had observed directly the whole process, starting with the first living being. That, obviously, would tell us nothing of the cause of common descent: facts, after all, don’t explain anything. We would have anyway to infer the causes of common descent, even if it were a fact. But it is not. It is a theory. Good or bad, it is a theory. I don’t know why you and other people are so obstinate in not admitting that. There is nothing wrong in being a theory. ID is a theory, and I am perfectly happy with that. The only “negative” side of being a theory is that a theory can be discussed and criticized. That’s good. That’s a privilege.

    So, I think we should try to agree on the definition of scientific facts, otherwise no constructive discussion can go on. It is not so difficult, after all: a fossil is a fact, all the interpretations about it are inferences. A DNA sequence is a fact, all interpretations are inferences. The description of a body morphology is a fact. Any similarity between bodies is a fact, provided that we just give an objective description of the similarity, which can be shared with anybody else. Any interpretation of the meaning of a similarity, or of a DNA homology, or of anything else, is an inference.

    An inference is an inductive process which postulates things that we have not observed. Inferences become theories if they are structured, and try to explain a vast body of observations. Theories can receive support from new observations of facts which are in accord with their previsions, or they can be falsified by the observation of facts which are incompatible with them. Facts don’t receive support from anything (they don’t need that), and cannot be falsified. The only problem, with facts, is if they have been observed correctly or if there is some error in the observation. Please, notice that this kind of error is completely different from the error in a theory. A theory is wrong for one of two motives: if it is logically inconsistent, or if it is empirically falsified. Problems in theories are not about the observation, but about the same nature of the theory: is it logically consistent? does it explain known facts?

    Darwinian evolution, indeed, is vastly successful in its complete failure on both levels.

  58. Q 46. We know there ought to be a range of morphological plasticity within a species, even without any mutations. For example, you can get a chihuahua and a German shepherd from the original dog.

    But Gould wrote: “well represented species are usually stable throughout their temporal range, or alter so little and in such superficial ways (usually in size alone)…most of the time when the evidence is best, nothing much happens to most species.”

    Now this is very strange. What is keeping this stability for so long? And why only a change in size?

  59. ari-freedom (#54), re. natural selection. You appear to be defining “natural selection” in the more inclusive elaborate form of a combination of the axiomatic NS as I defined in #47 plus random variation. Genetic drift and all other mechanisms of genetic change are irrelevant to the fact that animals survive or die based on conditions and that the ones that survive to reproduction pass on their genes (whatever they are and however they came to be). This process is inherent in life and has to be a dominant force, but this is not saying that this PLUS RANDOM VARIATION is the dominant force in evolution.

    Re. common descent, I agree with most of what you said, the main difference being that I tend to go with the preponderance of evidence as to the most likely explanation and think it is at least somewhat compelling. But as you put it we need to keep an open mind.

  60. magnan 59 If animals self-regulate their own population size then is natural selection still axiomatic?

    re: common descent. What would life look like so that you would *not* infer common descent?

  61. Q writes: “ Just as we assume as fact (i.e. infer to be consistently occur) that hammers will fall, we can similarly assume as fact (i.e. infer to occasionally occur) that the descendents will vary from the antecendents, even if only slightly.”
    I think I understand why we may be talking past each other. The key is in your choice of the words “will fall.” I am not talking about future events based upon extrapolating observations of past events. I am talking about a single discrete event: Just now I dropped a hammer and I observed it fall to the ground. That was a fact.
    Gpuccio writes: “So, common descent could be a fact, only if we had observed directly the whole process, starting with the first living being.”
    I do not agree with this statement. Common descent MAY have occurred (i.e., it may be a fact) even though no one was around to observe it. Scientists infer the existence of this fact from the data you mention (i.e., the fossil record, etc.). If these scientists’ inference is correct common descent corresponds to reality in the same way the hammer dropping corresponds to reality.
    My point has always been very simple. We can be more certain that the hammer dropping just now corresponded to reality because we observed it happen. We must be less certain that common descent corresponds to reality because no one observed it happen. It may have happened (i.e., the inferences from other data may be correct), but we cannot be as sure it happened as we can be as sure that the hammer we just dropped hit the ground.
    Some facts (especially things that happened in deep time) are forever removed from observation, and their existence must be inferred from the observation of other facts. That does not make them any less facts. It just makes our ability to perceive them dimmer and more subject to error (i.e., we may say of some things that they are facts when they are not).

    Merry Christmas to all. Now turn off your computers and go be with your loved ones . . . Now; I mean it. ;-)

  62. BarryA, thank you for seeking an understanding in what I, perhaps laboriously, was writing. It seems that we are no longer talking past each other.

    A point that I think is a conclusion of my part of this discussion goes back to the original post. In that post, it was claimed that the theory of evolution is the biggest lie in education. What I wanted to point out is that this statement is too broad, and is not supportable even by the developing tenets of ID.

    Children do vary from their parents – I know from observation that children look different, and as such have a slightly different morphology. This is, if nothing else, evidence of small – perhaps very small but real – variation of descendents from a common descendent can readily be observed. To claim that variation among descendents is not observable is incorrect. It may not be enough to demonstrate the creation of new species, but the basic action of common descent – variation from parent to child – is observable.

    Instead, to be correct, I suggest, ID should seek to identify what parts biology theory are best explained through ID and which are best explained through other theories. It may be that front-loading is the most reasonable explanation for ID. It may be that some aspects of mutation must be considered as reasonable. But, wholesale suggestions that evolution is a lie, and variation of descendents is never seen, are likewise incorrect.

    Without the refinements that add to evolution, and not simply dismiss it, ID is probably not ready to be taught in the school books.

    Oh yeah, you have a good holiday too! :-)

  63. All:

    Greetings at Christmas!

    Look, today is a very special day, and I have on the sofa behind me an eager-beaver of a Little Kairosfocus (his own self-chosen title!), who is just napping and waiting for dawn to open his present from his indulgent “uncle” G. [I will be giving him and his older sister rather more pedestrian, though unusual, gifts!]

    And, the morrow is my wife’s birthday!

    So, any serious response is the day after that. (And, I think that we should all be having family time now . . .)

    I simply note briefly:

    1] I see that IDC has evidently responded to my note, over at Amazon.

    –> I will get around to it, but GP’s points are devastatingly revealing, once we apply basic principles of comparative difficulties across worldviews and address the usual selective hyperskepticism that such evo mat rhetoricians routinely use.

    2] I see Q is trying to challenge my “premises.”

    –> First, we directly observe agents in action, chance in action and natural regularities in action. So, I would love for him to analyse my case of a die tossed to say play a turn at Monopoly! (A great Christmas gift, that.)

    –> E.g., from the always linked and as already excerpted in its context:

    For instance, heavy objects tend to fall under the natural regularity we call gravity. If the object is a die, the face that ends up on the top from the set {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6} is for practical purposes a matter of chance. But, if the die is cast as part of a game, the results are as much a product of agency as of natural regularity and chance. Indeed, the agents in question are taking advantage of natural regularities and chance to achieve their purposes!

    –> I think that this illustrates just how complex cause is. And, that agent action is sigificant and qualitiatively different from chance and necessity.

    –> Think of the difference if the box has just been opened under the tree, and oops, it spills out, and the dice tumble out to a 7.

    –> That is very different from the case where in playing a game a bit later that day, that same relatively highly probable 7 would put you at Park Avenue with three hotels on it! “RENT!!!!!”

    –> Second, on in effect asserting and/or implying that agency reduces to/emerges from chance plus natural regularities in action, Q opens himself up to the major comparative difficulties challenge of the dynamical incoherence of evo mat in accounting for the origin and trustworthiness of the mind.

    –> This, I and others debated at length in the Aug 20 Charles Darwin, originally humourous, thread; cf. 48 on. So, Q cannot simply say he is challenging my premises and assume that that is good enough — or else he is simply committing selective hyperskepticism, aka intellectual suicide. [Onlookers, I think you will love the new appendix on the Lucy Pevensie school of epistemology!]

    3] In short, the issue does not go away so easily as playing selective hyperskepticism, but leads straight into a major comparative difficulties challenge for evo mat, as my note on the subject linked in the CD thread observed long since:

    materialism . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance. . . .

    –> Q, does this not fairly state your [for argument's sake?] position? If so, cf below. [If not, kindly distinguish, with at least and outline explanation. Consequences and CD issues follow.]

    –> Continuing . . .

    But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance and psycho-social conditioning, within the framework of human culture.)

    Therefore, if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence [NB my always linked, section A, on lucky noise . . .] — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!

    –> Worldview level consequences follow:

    Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze?

    –> Bottomline:

    In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic, and only survives because people often fail (or, sometimes, refuse) to think through just what their beliefs really mean.

    As a further consequence, materialism can have no basis, other than arbitrary or whimsical choice and balances of power in the community [aka "might makes 'right' "], for determining what is to be accepted as True or False, Good or Evil. So, Morality, Truth, Meaning, and, at length, Man, are dead.

    –> Q, methinks you have some serious answering to do, on both logic and premises.

    [. . . ]

  64. OOPS accidental cross-post!

  65. BarryA and Q:

    First of all, merry Christmas to you!

    Just a couple of brief Christmas comments:

    1)BarryA, you say:

    “Gpuccio writes: “So, common descent could be a fact, only if we had observed directly the whole process, starting with the first living being.”
    I do not agree with this statement. Common descent MAY have occurred (i.e., it may be a fact) even though no one was around to observe it. Scientists infer the existence of this fact from the data you mention (i.e., the fossil record, etc.). If these scientists’ inference is correct common descent corresponds to reality in the same way the hammer dropping corresponds to reality.”

    I think you are equivocating what I mean, and the meaning itself of the world “fact”, at least in scientific language. A fact is a category of scientific “material”, defining anything observable, upon which to build theories. Nobody says that a fact “corresponds to reality”. That is a rather debatable philosophical affirmation, and has little to do with science, perhaps only with the philosophy of science.

    So, the problem is never if something “corresponds to reality”. The problem, as I said, is different for facts and theories: for facts (that is, observations) we mast ask: have they been really correctly observed? Can they be ysed for theory inference?
    For theories, we must ask: is it consistent? Does it “describe” correctly known facts? Can it make previsions of new observable facts?

    I understand that, in common language, we tend to use the word “fact” to say that something is absolutely real, but that is not true in science. Science does not deal with the ultimate reality (that is the field of philosophy), but rather with the explanation of what is observable.

    So, I can’t agree with you that “If these scientists’ inference is correct common descent corresponds to reality in the same way the hammer dropping corresponds to reality”. The inference of common descent remains an inference, even if it can “seem” correct (that is, it may be supported by many observed facts and be logically consistent), but it can never be proved “true” (no theory can). New facts, or another theory which explains facts better, can always change its status. So, theories are never ultimately correct, not even the best of them.

    Instead, the dropping of a single hammer, if correctly observed, has the highest (and only) status for a fact: it is “real”, in the sense that it was really observed in a scientifically satisfying way. Nobody is saying that it “corresponds to reality” in any other or deeper sense. So, I maintain that common descent will never be a fact (unless we succeed in directly observing the past, which is always a possibility).

    2) Q, you say:

    “Children do vary from their parents – I know from observation that children look different, and as such have a slightly different morphology. This is, if nothing else, evidence of small – perhaps very small but real – variation of descendents from a common descendent can readily be observed. To claim that variation among descendents is not observable is incorrect. It may not be enough to demonstrate the creation of new species, but the basic action of common descent – variation from parent to child – is observable.”

    I really appreciate your will to specify better your thought, and I think that on this ground we can certainly agree. It would certainly be foolish to affirm that variation among descendents cannot be observed. It certainly can. It certainly is a cat. But variation is not evolution, the two things are quite different. “Evolution”, however you define it, remains a theory, because it implies some kind of explanatory meaning in variation (different according to different definitions of evolution). So, the concept of evolution is always a theory, and can never be a fact. Variation, on the contrary, can be objectively defined at various levels: for instance, the occurring of a single nucleotide substitution in a child, which is not present in the original gene of the parent, is quite observable. It is variation. It is a fact.

    Evolution and common descent, as I have repeatedly affirmed, cannot satisfy, for their same nature, this definition. They are theories.

    If the observation of various kinds of variation among descendants is enough for you, alone or with other facts, to build and affirm a theory of common descent, I am perfectly happy with that. I always consider any theory of common descent with great respect. They are, in general, more convincing explanations foe the facts we know than, for instance, a theory of separate descent, or a theory of no descent at all. So, at present, I would support, in discussion, common descent, at least in some form.

    But, please, don’t go on saying that it is a fact. Excuse me if I “am” pedantic about that, but we cannot really have a confused language about epistemology and scientific method.

    Again, happy christmas to all!

  66. I agree that we cannot have a confused language. I’ve tried to avoid equivocating common descent with evolution, since common descent is but one portion of evolutionary theory. I’ve even tried to keep the notion of descent with variation as separate from the whole concept of common descent.

    Since we agree that variation of descendents is observable, and thus as much a fact as is that a hammer will fall when dropped, something must separate the fact of variation of descendents from the theory of common descent. Would it be the aspect of speciation, or perhaps the amount of variation? If so, do we have clear language on what constitutes speciation for ID, or what amount of variation separates the facts from the theory?

  67. There are a bunch of facts that are part of the study of evolution. One is the different morphologies in the fossil record and the trend they exhibit which is another fact. There are more cell types as the fossil record moves along. That is a fact.

    There is the definition of evolution from the modern synthesis which is very simple. It is the change in allele frequency in a population over time. This time can be as short as 20 minutes for some bacteria or hundreds of years for some complex animals. So if the allele frequency changes in the population, evolution has taken placed and does not depend upon the change with each off spring which by definition are always different for those who use sexual reproduction. It is the population gene pool which determines whether evolution has taken place.

    If you stray from these concepts then you can get into all sorts of nonsense discussions. Now we know fairly clearly what causes allele frequency changes in a population so it is not much of debate issue.

    It is when the we extrapolate to deep time that the discussion gets speculative. There are some processes that have never been observed that explain the facts we observe in the fossil record. If these processes were capable of being observed, they would be facts but for now they are just hypotheses or speculations but some people would like to make these speculations facts which is absurd.

  68. Q

    Descent with variation can be observed but the observations you cite are due to recombination. In recombination there is nothing novel but rather just a different mix of characters that were already present in the immediate parent genomes.

    The kind of evolution ID is concerned with is the creation of novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans. None of these have been observed to appear de novo in a living organism. All we have is their appearance in the fossil record (for what parts will fossilize) and a reasonable supposition for soft tissues that don’t fossilize well that modern living creatures which closely resemble the fossilized ones are anatomically similar in soft tissue details.

    Any other types of descent with modification that have actually been observed are rather trivial and cannot be reasonably shown able to account for, even over the course of deep time, the creation of novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans. Behe’s “Edge of Evolution” is an excellent work on what random mutation can and cannot reasonably accomplish given the resources (time and number of replications) available to it.

  69. DaveScot commented above “The kind of evolution ID is concerned with is the creation of novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans. None of these have been observed to appear de novo in a living organism.”

    Does ID consider variously observed morphological changes to be evidence that structures sometimes do occur de novo? Not proof necessarily, but evidence that must be accomodated in theory? Some of these observed variations in descent are the presence of new finger structures (pitcher Antonio Alfonseca has six fingers), new foot structures (he has six toes as well), colons of exceptional volume (see the victim of congenital aganglionic megacolon in the Mutter museum in Philadelphia), second uteruses in some women, etc.

    The question of if non-trivial variations can result in new organs or body plans occur seems to be observable. That the ones observed may be neutral or deleterious leads to other questions, such as how successful those new structures will be in the short term, or if they can trive in the long term.

    For instance, the variations I indicated may be the result of mutations, front loading, simply freakish anomolies, and may or may not be readily transferrable to descendents, but they have been observed to occur.

  70. Q:

    I will try to sum up a few concepts, the way I see them:

    1) The theory of CD, at least in its simplest form, states that all present living things derive form the same precursor. CD does not imply any special mechanism for the transformation, and is perfectly compatible with both ID and darwinian evolution.

    2) ID is perfectly compatible also with theories different from the standard CD. Darwinian evolution is not.

    3) Even if we admit common descent, OOL has almost certainly been an independent event, probably rather sudden. Indeed, the simplest life forms we know are very complex, and could not in any known way derive from simpler intermediates, which have never been observed, either directly or indirectly. All existing theories for OOL, except ID and panspermia, are nuts.

    4) Other important “giant steps” could be more difficult than others to explain in the context of common descent: in particular, the appearance of eukaryotes, of multicellular beings, of sexual reproduction. And probably others.

    5) The best evidence in favour of common descent comes, as far as I know, from homologies, both in body structures and DNA sequences, between different species, which are usually compatible with a theory of common design; and from the occurrence, in different species, of similar apparently nonsense rats of the genome, like pseudogenes and ERVs. These, if really non functional, would be difficult to explain with common design. But, as you probably know, possible functions of ERVs are a very actual argument.

    6) the only thing which seems rather defined is that life originated at some moment in the early history of earth, and that different forms of life, phyla and species, have arisen in different times. Many of these forms are apparently related in some way, according to the criteria given above. The cambrian explosion remains an amazing example of almost sudden appearance of a huge number of different body plans in a very short time, and is at present the most important argument against gradualism, together with OOL and with the almost complete absence of most intermediate links in the fossil record.

    This is a very gross summary of the main facts and of the main possible theories regarding descent. I think that we ought to consider the problem of descent still vastly open, not so much in the sense of refuting CD, but rather in the sense of frankly admitting that we have no clear understanding of many major aspects of the problem, and that many evidences are controversial, or incomplete.

    Regarding the causal mechanism of macro-variation, instead (OOL, generation of phyla and species, and so on), in my opinion there is no possible doubt: darwinian evolution has been already vastly falsified as an explanatory mechanism: it is logically inonsistent, because it is incompatible with elementary considerations of statistics and mathematics; and it is empirically inadequate, because it cannot explain most of the known facts, and each new fact we gather adds to its inadequacy.

    The theory of ID, at present, is the only scientific approach which gives a very good explanatory scenario of known data, in whosw context any new theory about modalities and cronological occurrence can grow, as new facts are added to our knowledge by scientific research.

  71. ari-freedom (#60): “If animals self-regulate their own population size then is natural selection still axiomatic?”

    Yes, if you mean the axiomatic NS I previously defined.

    The self-regulation of population size observation is interesting, but could be explained as a feedback mechanism developed to maximize survival of the species.
    On the micro real time scale of looking at each moment in the life of any particular individual, the axiomatic principle of survival to reproduction or nonsurvival to reproduction obviously still occurs. Some biological mechanism has developed within the animal to sense the effects of excessive or insufficient population for the local environment (including other species), and probably lower or increase birth rate as necessary in response.

    “re: common descent. What would life look like so that you would *not* infer common descent?”

    Interesting question. One thing would be that there would be no apparently accidental genetic defects shared between distantly related forms, like the damaged hemoglobin (pseudo)gene I mentioned in a previous post. Another expected feature of the data would be that the different apparent major “steps” (at the class and family level) in evolution based on the dated fossil record would not show any significant pattern of elaboration based on the previous stage. The lack of such pattern would be demonstrated by comparative physiology.

    For example, even if vertebrates were still classified into the major groups fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals, these groups would exhibit no particular homologies. Mammals could have 6 digits, reptiles say 5, and amphibians 4. At the level of basic organ systems, there would be no particular homology between the micro design of the immune systems, liver, heart, brain, etc. etc. These biological systems would all look like they were separately designed from scratch, with the only constraints being functional.

  72. magnan 71 I’m not talking about the origin of the self-regulation. My point is that this self regulation cuts down on the selection process. There would be little competition and no survival of the fittest (whatever fit means). One shouldn’t assume that any genetic change was the result of natural selection

  73. gpuccio:
    “That is a supreme lie. They are caling us unscientific, denialists, IDiots, stupid, criminal, and everything else you can imagine. That is a supreme lie. Either we are right or wrong, we are doing science, in the best of the senses. They are doing censorship, intelectual persecution, dogmatism.

    If we want a real progress, the restoration of helthy scientific debate about the genesis of biological information “must” take place.”

    Esplendido!

    Buono Natale! Di che parte d’Italia abiti?

  74. Q (51):
    “Would you agree that your position effectively requires front loading, since it rejects the evolution of new traits? Or, am I missing some alternative?”

    Not to be evasive, I wasn’t arguing for front-loadin—I was arguing “against” natural selection.

    In your response you talk about 1/N. Well, IIRC, that’s the probability that a “neutral mutation” will become fixed.

    If I may, I’d like to just set aside such probabilities for the time being. In my post, I had reference to an article regarding the new study of Biston bistullaria, the peppered moth. Checking the other’s number regarding differential predation and it’s link to a decline in the melanic form, to my surprise, I found that the numbers worked. But what was quite evident, mathematically, was that the gene frequency of the melanic form was going to asymptopically reach some small percentage of the population and simply remain there. There are three forms of Biston b.. If we assume a dominant and recessive allele, then whatever this asymptopically arrived percentage of observed melanics (homozygous) ends up being, the actual percentage of this “allele” in the population would be 2-3% higher. [Since two heterozygous moths will produce "grey" to "melanic" in a 3:1 ratio, although three of the four progeny have the "melanic allele"] So, I argue, that this “allele” will never be eliminated in the population.

    The author of the new study, it would appear, disagrees since he says that the melanic form was on its way to disappearing.

    Again, I’m arguing that NS is a meaningless term. Remember that Biston b., in the original Kettlewell experiment, was “proof” of “evolution”, and thus “proof” of NS.

    Now, let’s take a giant step backwards and take a look at the big picture here.

    400 years ago in this same part of the London area—a time long before industrial pollutio—we can safely assume that the “grey” (typica) form of biston b. was the only form to be found. Since industrial pollution never existed before, can’t we then assume that the “melanic allele” didn’t exist, considering the eons of ages of the moth’s existence in the absence of pollution? If this is the case, then, this would mean that under the differential predation pressure that industrial pollution provided, the melanic allele somehow arose. Finally, London having overcome the effects of industrial pollution, the “grey” form is now in the process of “eliminating” the melanic allele.

    But wait a minute. If it only takes 40 to 50 years to eliminate an allele (as the author suggests is now happening), this would then mean that industrial pollution acted for a long enough period of time for the “grey” allele to have been “eliminated”. So, how did it happen that the “grey” allele showed up so quickly once industrial pollution began to be held in check?

    Isn’t the more reasonable interpretation of all of this (using the Principle of Ockams’ Razor)*** that: (1) there are two alleles for coloration (this is admittedly a simplictic model); (2) 400 years ago, the gene frequency (percentage of the population) of the “grey” allele is was quite high, while that of the “melanic” was quite low. Industrial pollution then comes along; (3) because of differential predation pressure between G (grey) and M (melanic), the “melanic” allele, M, increases in gene grequency while G decreases to a very low percentage; (4) then when industrial pollution ends, G increases and M decreases to a very low level?

    [*** It is simpler to assume that an "allele" goes from a low to a high gene frequency then having to assume the "allele" was built up, then eliminated, and then built up all over again.]

    Now this is all supposed to be “proof” of both “evolution” and NS. Yet, what do we see? After 400 years, we see that Biston b. looks the same as it did 400 years earlier. For the “time-traveler” who comes to the London in the year 1607, and then again in 2007, the Darwinist would try and convince him that “evolution” has taken place due to NS. I submit the Darwinist would have a hard time of it.

  75. “Checking the other’s numbers…….”

    should be

    “Checking the author’s numbers …..”

  76. industrial pollution isn’t really “natural” or even capitalistic as there is no real ownership for air and the public air is just used as a dumping ground.

  77. PaV (#73):

    Palermo, Sicilia.

    Buon Natale!

  78. PaV,

    You have described classic natural selection. Natural selection says nothing about new alleles, just the allele frequency in a population due to some environmental change.

    Two environmental changes took place and two allele frequencies changes took place due to these environmental changes. In neither case did a new allele appear or did one disappear. Just because the environmental came back to something similar does not negate that natural selection did not take place. In fact it took place at least twice.

    The peppered moth study is classic natural selection and an example of evolution using the modern synthesis definition of evolution. However, it is just trivial and thus useless in the evolution debate. Those who use it essentially admit that there is no empirical evidence for macro evolution. Otherwise they would never keep using these trivial examples.

  79. Jerry,

    I don’t think we’re very far away from one another when it comes to what’s happening out there, trivial as it is. Where I think we disagree is in the approach to be taken.

    Your approach, if I may be so bold as to speak for you, is to concede this to the Darwinists so as to not spend the time and energy arguing about it. For my part, however, I think that it is good to attack NS for the imaginary force that it is, since to concede to the Darwinists what is trivial emboldens them. E.g., Michael Denton wrote two books. In both books it is clear that he takes the same position as you do Jerry. When writing the second book, Denton’s belief in microevolution comes more to the forefront.

    How do the Darwinists react? “It’s good to see that Denton finally admits that evolution exists!”

    Again, I’m in Willima Provine’s camp. NS is a myth. The peppered moth from 400 years ago is no different from the peppered moth from 80 years ago, and is no different from that of the one we now see in the fields outside of London. “Evolution” and “NS” are just “myths” imposed upon a change of appearance.

    I once said to a Darwinist: “When Europeans came over here from Europe, the generation born here was probably 5-6″ taller than the ones being born in Europe. This is a changed phenotype. Doe you consider this evolution?” He answered, “Yes.” This is idiocy. Microevolution is no more than the interaction between the adaptive mechanisms inherent in the an organism’s genotype and the environment. Nothing “evolves”; it “adapts”. I’m ready to fight the Darwinists on this.

    But then again, I’ve been known to punch a nose or two here and there…….

  80. gpuccio (77):

    I miglei genetori errano d’isola d’Ischia, vicino Napoli.

    Sei stato nato la in Palermo?

  81. PaV, in 79, mentioned “Nothing “evolves”; it “adapts”. I’m ready to fight the Darwinists on this.

    I’m pursuing this thread because of my career as a high-school science instructor, and the thread is about ideas that are presented in the school systems. So, when presenting the above claim to a class, I’m asking that more than quotes around words to be provided.

    The “adapts” claim, PaV, indicates some change in the population and environment is occuring. The “evolves” claim suggests a specific process – either the origin of a new feature or the continual distribution of that feature throughout the population. In that regard, PaV, it would be hard to demonstrate to a class that the adapatation claim (change of allele frequency) is mutually exclusive to parts of evolution (the change of an allele frequency once the allele is originated). In other words, I couldn’t tell a class whether changes of allele frequency are or are not related to evolutionary theory, but instead I’d still have to say that changes of allele frequency would occur in several theories.

    Besides, some bright school kid would see right away that if something can be adapted, it probably had an origin.

    I’m also unsure of your complete position. Allele frequency can be caused by all members of a population having all traits, but only a sub-population expresses the trait. Or, allele frequency can change because only a segment of the population has the trait, and only that part of the population expresses the trait. (I.e. full front loading, versus partial front-loading, or tinkering, or mutation.) The first supports your claim of unlikely extinction. The second, however doesn’t, because an unrelated event – like famine or flood – could reduce both segments of the population equally, and once the population uniformaly drops enough, one trait will be gone.

    If this is being presented to a class, and the best explanation of the trait is that there are two subpopulations – one with and one without an allele – some explanation should be provided about how the two sub-populations came about. Mutation, front-loading, or tinkering, I think.

  82. PaV (80):

    Sì, sono nato a Palermo e ho sempre vissuto qui. Conosco Ischia, è un’isola molto bella.

  83. evolutionists had to come up with multiple levels of selection. kin selection, group selection, sexual selection. According to Gould, selection occurs at 5 levels: gene, organism, deme, species and clade. Nobody can identify a beneficial trait (or which level of selection should rule) until after the fact.

    This is metaphysics multiplied.

    Perhaps the most parsimonious answer is that there is no selection at all and that all of life is one big cooperative self regulating unit, with the regulation coming from the inside, like an ant colony.

  84. Q:

    There are certain things that we must take on faith in order to even have a rational discussion.
    A thing cannot be true and false at the same time and under the same formal circumstances. The obvious corollary, to this principle of non-contradiction is the law of the excluded middle, which holds that there is no gray area between the two.

    Now granted, the truth of a matter can be hard to establish at times, and the ways that such a truth is expressed linguistically can cause great confusion. If I say, for example, that “If the streets are wet, it must be raining, or if it rains, the street will get wet, I immediately find that, unless I am careful, I can easily stumble over either the meaning of the word “rain” or the word “wet.” So much so, that I can lose track of the principle involved.

    Some would say, for example, that we socially construct our notion of both facts. What is truly happening may correspond to our interpretation of the events, but our interpretation may well be open to a certain level of scrutiny. Is it really wet if it is merely misty? Is it really raining if we can’t feel the drops? We could, indeed, find evidence that person A has interpreted and defined this event differently that person B. So much so, that a neutral observer may wonder of both parties are observing the same event., We may find that in order to analyze and communicate about these event, and the facts involved, we must “socially construct” an arbitrary definition of “rain” and “wet.” We can only quantify in discrete terms or in the context of mutually understood boundaries. Accordingly, we establish that the streets are wet only when saturated at [x} level of [y] and it is not raining until we feel [a] raindrops at [b] frequency. Each time we conduct and experiment or test of some kind, we are using subjectively oriented constructs.

    What gets lost, though, is that even though the terms are arbitrary, the regularity and predictability of the events and the facts involved remain consistent. Even though our definitions of “rain” and “wet” are subjective, the objective fact remains that each time it rains, the streets get wet. What we don’t want to do is intrude our subjectivity on an objective event on the grounds that our criteria for measuring that event is subjective.

    You, and some others on this thread, also seem to labor under the misconception the every inference begins with a presupposition and is therefore a kind of tautology. This error proceeds from the Hume/Kant error which holds that mental images do not reflect their corresponding realities in the world outside the mind. Both Hume and Kant caused all of western world to question whether our internal logic corresponded to nature’s logic? Allowing for our capacity to err and misinterpret, the bottom is that the two realms are indeed proportional and connected. We have rational minds, we live in a rational universe, and there is a correspondence between the two. That is no coincidence; it was set up that way. Modern philosophers and scientists continue to labor under the misconception that there is an epistemological break between us and our world, but, as Reid showed centuries ago, and as Mortimer Adler taught us in the twentieth century, we can be reasonably confident that our senses are not lying to us about “essences” (what a thing is ) in nature even though the material manifestations continue to be a mystery to us at some level. .The point is, we are not assuming or presupposing the thing we are drawing inferences about; we are really drawing inferences.
    To disagree about any of these points is to render rational discourse impossible. We must all begin with these assumptions or we cannot play the game. Most of all, we must agree that logic (if/then propositions) is dependable. Indeed, in order to prove that if/then propositions don’t work, you must use a series of if/then propositions.

  85. StephenB, in your prior post you give a good description of relationships between logic and observation. I assume it is an extension of my earlier comments about the dropping hammer.

    As I mentioned in post 81, I’m following this thread through my experience as a high-school science teacher. In that role, I must not claim that we “know” as “fact” that a dropped hammer will fall. I must limit the claims to observation, predictability, and theory – all of which have a probability involved, and no absolutes. The philosophical reason for this limitation has been detailed quite fully on this site, by a variety of posters.

    Specifically why BarryA’s comment piqued my interest, some students may perform the acceleration of gravity test – a weight (like is a hammer) is dropped, dragging a paper tape. Almost always it will fall as predicted. Sometimes it will hang up. That is, sometimes unexpected events will interfere with the prediction of what is “fact”. At roughly the same lesson, students will be exposed to people dropping things in orbit, or on the moon. We will see that some observations are merely outliers, some are in a different environment, but usually what we know has the confidence to be considered as fact.

    The same is true of observations for the biological classes. The students will be shown common events occurring, they will be shown that environments change, and they will be shown that the biological processes – i.e. chemical processes – will sometimes have outlier results. Then, they will be shown theories that attempt to explain these observations.

  86. ari-freedom (#72): ” My point is that this self regulation cuts down on the selection process. There would be little competition and no survival of the fittest (whatever fit means).”

    “Survival of the fittest” selection would be reduced but not eliminated by self-regulation. The kind of axiomatic NS I referred to would inherently always have to apply. After all, to use an extreme example, animals with severe birth defects would still tend to die young. Some of these birth defects could be caused by genetic defects from factors including mutations. This sort of selection and self-regulation in conditions of little environmental change would maintain a sort of stasis.

    However, if a new competing species comes into the territory or there is a big change in temperature, rainfall, etc. etc. the self regulation of population would be overcome and survival of the fittest NS would take a major role. This mechanism is inherent in life.

    What seems to be the main issue is what is the source of the genetic variation fuelling NS.

    “One shouldn’t assume that any genetic change was the result of natural selection”

    Any given single genetic change must have spread through the population through some causative mechanism. It is normally assumed to be from some one founder individual. The known mechanism for higher animals is that individuals expressing the relevant genes had a tendency to survive to share their genes through sexual reproduction.

    If this isn’t the case, then the logical alternative is that it could have appeared de novo in all the individuals in the population simultaneously or over a couple of generations. This alternative seems a lot less parsimonious in the Occam’s Razor sense – requiring a much greater effort by outside Intelligence.

  87. PaV,

    There is only one definition of evolution that I believe makes sense and it gets rid of any equivocation in the debate and that is the one used by the modern synthesis and modern genetics. It is the change of an allele frequency over time. There is no reason not to use it in any discussion. It is applicable to all cases that come up and is the basis for all the other popular definitions of the word evolution. All cases can be analyzed based on this definition.

    I also do not think one looks smart by denying the obvious. That is what a lot do in the evolution debate. Yes, I do believe those who oppose the Darwinists are wasting time and energy attacking things like natural selection when the main proponents of Intelligent Design (Dembski, Behe, Wells etc.) accept these things as indisputable.

    I do not care what a few say about Denton. Pin them in the corner on something that is true and substantive. By denying natural selection, and I doubt Provine denies it since MacNeill is such a big proponent of natural selection, one causes the debate to shift to nonsense scenarios as opposed to the essence of the debate which is the origin of variation.

    If one wants to debate the speed of a change in an allele frequency in a population that is fair game but to deny that it occurs just wastes time and gives the Darwinists ammunition that ID proponents are not scientific.

  88. jerry (#87), well said and expresses my view of the matter. I would only quibble over your characterization of change in allele frequency over time being the essential true definition of “evolution”. It seems to me that this phenomenon is only half of the process. The other half is the origin of new alleles.

  89. if there was a major catastrophe then yes that would lead to selection. An unusual defect would be selected against. But most detrimental changes will not be selected against and will be distributed evenly across all life.

    The natural world is like a kibbutz. Everyone works together and tolerates mistakes but you’ll get kicked out if you really push it…

    Any given change of trait would have to be very slight survival value (if any). If it spread through the population it would either be the result of genetic drift via a founder effect (and not because it was “beneficial” and selected for) or from some preloading on the level of the organism. You’re not going to get microevolution as a result of natural selection in normal conditions.

  90. ari-freedom mentions “You’re not going to get microevolution as a result of natural selection in normal conditions.”

    But, in a classroom, it can be explained that natural selection occurs, because it can be observed, even if trivial. Remember the bear chase?

    Likewise, it can be explained that variation amongst descent can be observed. All of the students have some morphological differences, even if minor, from their parents. In fact, kids in Philadelphia can visit the Mutter museum, and observe larger variations between parent and child.

    It can be safely shown in biology classes that extreme morphological variations are observed, apparently spontaneously – just visit the history of six fingers and toes, superfluous organs like uteruses, etc.

    It seems that a main issue about getting ID into the biology classroom hinges on its ability to provide a better explanation tying these, and other, observable events together. As jerry mentions, it is not simply enough to make assertions such as ari-freedom’s about microevolution in normal conditions, because “normal” conditions aren’t always observed. Outlier conditions do occur with a real probability.

    I don’t see that anyting in evolutionary theory or in ID prevents these observable events, including natural selection. I also don’t see anything in either which would preclude that in extreme conditions, the environment wouldn’t increase the percentage that various traits would be expressed. Whether that’s called micro-evolution, natural selection, aspects of common descent, or whatever, it’s still the result of observable events.

    The question of how the traits originate isn’t specifically answered by these observations, however.

  91. Let’s say you can run faster than the bear but I have a gun to shoot the bear. On the other hand the bear is very close and not easy for me to get out my gun in time but on the other hand you are tired at this time of night. Who will win? Life isn’t so simple.

    If the demonstrations of natural selection only come from “obvious” extreme examples, maybe they are just the artifacts and natural selection isn’t real. Even if they were the result of natural selection, one wouldn’t have a theory just to explain a few cases and natural selection as an idea would be dead practically speaking.

    The 6 fingers and toes…genetic drift happens. It is the null hypothesis. It’s a thermodynamic necessity. Reproduction is not…far from it. Darwinists would like to say that a population has 6 fingers because that trait is beneficial in some way. They then try to come up with a story. I say enough with the stories.

  92. Ari-freedom, I don’t disagree with your claim of “Who will win? Life isn’t so simple.” But, by the time the bear feasts or dies, a selection process would have occured. Maybe not predictable, but at least observable.

    That is an example of an observation that can be presented in the classroom regarding a selection process that occurs in nature.

    In the classroom, we could say (because of inference) that if six fingers are an advantage to survival, they could be selected by that natural selection process just mentioned. That claim wouldn’t misrepresent any theory.

  93. magnan,

    I agree that the real debate in evolution is the origin of new alleles or variety in the gene pool and the discussion of natural selection is a minor side show. That is why I think discussing it is a waste of time and we all should move on to the real issues.

    The official definition of evolution just recognizes that already existing variance in the gene pool can lead to differences in species through natural selection. Most of the time natural selection does not affect the gene pool and genetic drift then slowly works to change the allele frequencies. That is why our friend Larry Moran says genetic drift is probably more important. But he has no answer for how variation arises in the first place except for “just so” stories.

    I think we should concentrate on the variation side of evolution and not worry about how the genetic side operates. The science is very good on the genetic side but at best specious on the variation side. That is the weakness of the Darwinists and discussions of natural selection just get in the way.

  94. Jerry,

    With the peppered moth example, let’s consider two scenarios:
    (1) allele frequencies of M and G change over time; or (2) first a M allele is somehow assembled; then it is eliminated; and then the G allele is constructed again.

    magnan has made my point about conceding anything to Darwinists. You concede gene frequency change, and they say, “Yeah, and eventually, a new allele is formed.”

    So, which scenario is it? The second one is certainly not favored as the simplistic solution. In fact, it’s about as complicated as it can get. So, let’s assume it’s scenario (1). Let me ask you this: how in the world can a predominantly grey species of moths becoming much darker in response to a changed environment, and then changing back to its original coloration when the environment shifts back to its normal mode, be called “evolution”. If you call that “evolution”, then please explain to me what “adaptation” is?

    Think of dog-breeders. I’m sure that the gene frequencies of a St. Bernard and that of a Chihuahua are very different. So, did the St. Bernard “evolve” from the Chihuahua, or vice versa? It is ridiculous to apply the word “evolution” to breeds of dogs. It is likewise ridiculous to apply it to moth populations. Richard Goldschmidt discovered that a particular “species” of butterfly had a different coloration because of the different type of soil in its breeding area.

    Bacteria cannot process galactose. Finally, one (or more) bacteria are able to process it. The bacterial strain that then develops can now ‘lose’ this ability and go back to processing glucose. Is this “evolution”? Or is this a built-in (“front-loaded”) capability that all life forms have to be able to adapt to changing environments?

    Think of Behe’s book, EofE. Fred Hoyle, using a much more realistic method than Fisher for analyzing what NS can, or cannot do, concludes—just like Behe—that, at most, NS can only take a particular genotype forward or backwards 2 steps. This completely rules out the possibility that alleles are created from scratch.

    Provine, in his book on the origins of population genetics points out two things:
    (1) experimentalists were able to inter-breed certain forms that would no longer “regress” to their original wild type form. It was said that a new stability had been formed (different from the original Hardy-Weinberg stability); and (2) there were certain traits that involved the interaction (epigenetics) of many alleles. Using the binomial expansion to work out the individual contribution of each allele demonstrated that “gradual” evolution, not “macroevolution”, was possible. Fisher capitalized on all of this in developing his statistical theorem. My point in recalling all of this is to say how much do population geneticists really know what’s going on, even a hundred years after these original experiment? These experiments were needed because, per Mendelian theory, and the Hardy-Weinberg Law, evolution shouldn’t happen. Bateson argued this. I’m on Bateson’s side.

    As to your comment about Provine and MacNeil: when I have a book in front of me, and I’m typing what Provine wrote in the afterword, and then you question what I’ve typed in, what am I to make of that?

    Look here.

  95. Check out the back cover, the top section.

  96. Q: (#81) “The second, however doesn’t, because an unrelated event – like famine or flood – could reduce both segments of the population equally, and once the population uniformaly drops enough, one trait will be gone.

    Do we, 100 years after Mendel’s Laws were re-discovered, still don’t know exactly how “dominance” and “recessivesness” work.

    If the melanic form of the peppered moth is being reduced in numbers, do we know for sure that the recessive melanic allele is on the verge of extinction? What if some kind of epigenetic effect is involved? IOW, is some kind of regulatory mechanism involved, tied up in some way with ‘alleles’, in what we call ‘dominance’. If it is a strictly regulatory effect, then the genotype would not have changed. I’m not sure that anybody knows the answers to these questions. Technology is now on the verge of giving us the possibility of testing these kinds of hypotheses. As to neo-Darwinism/Modern Synthesis, to me it’s no more than mere conjecture; and unsubstantiated conjecture at that.

    Why don’t you tell the kids the truth. Biologists don’t know much when it comes to evolution. They just speculate. They love conjectures—and, of course, ‘just-so’ stories.

  97. Jerry,

    Since you apparently need to read it yourself, here it is. God to page 199

  98. PaV, in 96 asks, “Do we, 100 years after Mendel’s Laws were re-discovered, still don’t know exactly how “dominance” and “recessivesness” work.”

    I don’t the right answer to that question. After stumbling and falling down for millenia, do we yet know “how” gravity works? My point is that we know, as in observe, that dominance and recessivness happens. But how? That is a wholly different question.

    Your description of the melanin of the moths is a good illustration of various methods that ID could be introduced into the classroom, especially if it is linked to observations. One explanation of the observed evidence could be that there are separate populations – one with one light and the other dark. Another explanation could be that there is one population, part expressing for now and the other expressing light for now. Other explanations are also possible. ID provides one set of explanations, and commensurate implications, just as evolutionary theory provides a set of explanations, and commensurate implications.

    Contrary to your suggestion, I can’t recommend that a teacher say that the scientists don’t know “much” about evolution, as that is subjective, and easily interpreted as a lie of omission. In my opinion, many of the elements of evolutionary theory are observable – as I’ve been implying throughout this thread. A teacher can, however, present the observations – even the ones that ID considers as trivial and the ones that ID sees as significant, as well as the ones that evolutionary theory sees as trivial and the ones that evolutionary theory sees as significant.

  99. Q,

    I appreciate your honest and unbiased attempt to get to the heart of the ID/neo-Darwinist debate.

    If I were a teacher, it would seem to me that I would have to present to those in the classroom what the science regards as the consensus vis-a-vis evolution. Genetics has it’s limitations; but, undoubtedly there is some underlying basis to it. Mathematics can be applied, etc. I think what would be helpful to the kids would be to try and point out where the limits of our knowledge lie. Science, in general, balks at this. For example, scientists talk about “dark energy”; since it has a label there appears to be some kind of understanding of it, when in fact it is a label that only describes something that science can’t explain. Yet, that’s not the impression given. As well, I think something should also be said about “irreducible complexity”, the problem that the Cambrian Explosion presents, the problem now of the “Mammalian Explosion” which is beginning to surface, and the argument of ID that, on the basis of ‘information theory’, the genetic code is suggestive of design. (Which is easier to construct, an Apple computer, or a human being; yet nature never ‘built’ an Apple computer).

    BTW, is your screen symbol here ‘jungle talk’? As in, “IQ; you Jane!”?

  100. PaV,

    As I read the Provine’s piece you linked to I find nothing that says natural selection does not operate. I find the position that it has been over blown which is what I have been saying in all my posts. So Provine and I are on the same page. There is a page missing, #200 so I do not know what is said there.

    Natural selection operates. MacNeill made a big deal of it. Provine admits the process exists and that changes in allele frequencies or whatever other frequencies you care to consider happen.

    Adaptation is the process by which a population’s gene pool changes over time in response to an environmental change and as such is an example of evolution.

    Why distinguish between adaptation and micro evolution. There is no necessity to introduce new alleles into the population in order to have evolution. It is micro evolution when the gene pool frequencies change. See the examples by Dembski and Wells in the Design of Life.

    As I said, I agree with Provine that natural selection is a side show and a minor factor in the real evolution debate. But to deny changes that take place to species in the wild due to changes in the environment is a fools game. And if you accept the changes then you are affirming natural selection as an instrument of micro evolution.

    I have no idea why you brought up dog breeding because it not relevant to anything I have said in this thread nor is it relevant to evolution as a naturalistic phenomena. I find the process very illuminating though and have said that much of what is called evolution is better described by the term “devolution” or the loss of variation in the gene pool.

  101. Jerry,

    I brought up dog breeding because it sheds light on the very quibble I have with the whole notion of microevolution and natural selection. Breeding doesn’t ‘evolve’ dogs, it just changes the expression of genes. Artificial selection takes the variability of the genome and pushes it in all kinds of directions. And, of course, we all know full well that this variability has its innate limits. In nature, changing environments move the genome in different directions—within natural limits. And this change enables the organisms to adapt to their environment.

    In the case of humans and dog breeding, it makes sense to talk about selection—afterall, an active agent is involved. But why then carry the term over to nature and call it natural selection? This simply obfuscates. Further, why call ‘adaptation’, a process that ‘fits’ the organism to the environment it finds itself in, by the term ‘evolution’, a word that implies that an organism has made some kind of step forward to higher being.

    We see moths change color and cry out, “Evolution”. This is crazy. Is the moth now on the verge of becoming a dragonfly?

    I’m reading Sean Carroll’s new book, Endless Forms Most Beautiful. There’s a photo in there of a “cyclops” sheep. Do you know what caused the “cyclops”? A nearby plant that produces a toxic compound. Further, the compound was ingested by the mother at a particularly sensitive time of development. If a native plant can cause a “cyclops” to be born, then how easy would it be for some native plant to change the coloration of a species? Should we call the “cyclops” evolution at work (and, it’s obviously a “macroevolutionary” transformation of the sheep)? I wouldn’t. I would say that there can easily be a way in which the naturally occurring chemicals in a native environment can effect the incredibly complex chemical interactions that are involved in embryological development. This could quite frequently lead to phenotypic ‘changes’. Would we then be correct in assuming that a genotypic ‘change’ has occurred? Of course not. Then is every ‘change’ the same as ‘evolution’? Of course not. But this is the kind of silliness that Darwinists insist on. (Remember, Kettlewell’s moths ‘prove’ evolution!)

    Unless it can be proven that NS eliminates so-called “alleles” from populations, and further, is able to produce such “alleles” as needed, then I say you have the same organism the whole time; that organims haven’t ‘changed’; and that the change of incidental moprhological features in no way constitutes sufficient enough criteria for it to go by the name ‘evolution’.

    (Let’s remember that recombination simply shifts things around. And, of course, it wasn’t NS that invented recomination. Ask yourself the question: why does recombination exist? The most likely answers are: (1) to protect genetic information; and (2) to be able to adapt. Or to put it another way. IOW, NS didn’t invent ‘recombination’. What are the first life-forms? Bacteria. Do bacteria exhibit recomination? You bet ya—they do it in spades.
    Have a look see.
    If I were a designer, this is how I would design the genetic program.)

  102. It seems to me that there isn’t a clear dividing line between the sort of differential selection of variant alleles within an original species genome exampled in artificial selection with dog breeding, for instance, and gradual genetic change of a population with time due to “natural selection” or adaptation within the existing gene pool plus occasional origination of new variant alleles. It is a continuum shading from one to the other. Single point and more complex random mutations forming variant alleles from duplicates accidentally formed during meiotic recombination must necessarily sometimes occur. The modern synthetic theory seems to suppose that these are the main source of the genetic variation used by selection, and that selection must be the primary source of order and apparent design.

    If selection isn’t this source and random variation (obviously) isn’t the source, what could it be? Of course, ID has an answer here (in principle), but what would evolutionary biology propose? It would seem NDE theory has no choice than to posit “NS” as that source, however inadequate and trivial it is.

    Some of the severe weaknesses of NS as an ordering and creative principle that have been pointed out by ID advocates are Sanford’s “genetic entropy”, loss by genetic drift of most near-neutral mutations, and Haldane’s Dilemma (explicated by Remine).

    I think Haldane’s Dilemma is especially devastating to proposing NS of RV as the “creative” principle, due to the complex interdependency of biological systems (related to irreducible complexity). To explain existing complex interdependent biological systems a large number of different accidentally occurring variant alles for different physiological changes needed to have been selectively spreading through the population at the same time during the period shown by the fossil record. Unfortunately they inevitably and severely conflict with each other in terms of the “cost of selection”.

    Of course, Haldane’s Dilemma itself assumes that selection is a major force. Complex interdependent biological systems require that most individual changes to particular parts be small enough that the viability of the entire organism isn’t degraded due to the complex interdependency. Then genetic entropy and genetic drift become big problems for the mechanism to really do anything.

    Some evolutionary biologists also admit to the triviality of NS. This would seem to leave the source of genetic variation as the issue.

  103. Jerry (#100)

    “But to deny changes that take place to species in the wild due to changes in the environment is a fools game. And if you accept the changes then you are affirming natural selection as an instrument of micro evolution.”

    Europeans come over to America and grow, on average, 5-6″.

    This is evidence that “changes . . . take place to species in the wild due to changes in the environment”, and, in ” . . . accept[ing] the changes then [we] are affirming natural selection as an instrument of micro evolution.”

    This seems like a fool’s game to me.

    As gpuccio has pointed out here up above, let’s not confuse “facts” with the theory that tries to explain those facts. I readily admit the “facts”; I don’t accept the theory behind it. There is no ‘evolution’ involved; only change. There is no ‘natural selection’, only ‘life’ and ‘death’ and ‘differential reproduction’. ‘Natural selection’ is but a theory.

  104. p. 200

    their environments, as long as the environments don’t change too rapidly. Otherwise, the same basic set of cuases results in extinction of the population. Understanding natural selection as the result of specific causes requires the researcher to understand ecological settings, life histories, and development in relation to differential leaving of offspring.

    There’s a post of mine hung up somewhere that uses almost the exact language that Provine uses here. Notive he says this (p199-200):

    “A complicated demographic process follows, resulting in organisms adapted to their environments, as long as the environments don’t change too rapidly.”

    The biggest point is this: NS is not a cause. It is the effect of causes.

    Thus, NS is NOT a causative agency, and what we see is: life, death, differential reproduction, and “adaptation”. So, let’s call it what it is: ADAPTATION?

  105. PaV,

    No one has said that natural selection is the cause of anything. It is a process that results in different frequencies of alleles or as I said whatever element of the genome you designate. The actual causes of the changes are differential environmental factors. If you want to change the name of natural selection to adaptation, then fine but few will follow your lead. So why bother. All the evolutionary biologist understand that natural selection is not an active process.

    I have no idea what your example of Europeans coming to America means. I have been to Europe several times and never thought the people there were smaller than Americans. If ture, I do not believe it is an example of evolution unless you can show the changes are due to allele changes. My guess is that it is mostly due to nutrition but there are some scenarios where it could be due to actual changes in alleles.

    For example, I can see some scenarios that may explain taller people, namely life was harsh in America and those who were stronger survived more, especially in the mines and on the plains. This may be an example of natural selection and thus represents evolution. I have no idea if this is true but if it is then it represents natural selection and evolution. Or maybe men chose wives who were more sturdy and stronger and taller because of the tough life on the plains. Again I have no idea if this is true but if true would explain the increased height and while this represents more of an artificial selection, would cause changes in the population and be evolution.

    But in terms of the overall argument for macro evolution over deep time these examples are meaningless.

  106. maybe a change in height just doesn’t make much of a difference either way.

    I mean… with a little imagination one can make up a story explaining why some people are short.

  107. Jerry,

    The point of the European story is this: I’m 6′; my brother is 5’11″. My dad (5’6″) and mom(5’2″) were raised in Italy. How do you explain this? It is obviously an environmental effect. We know that because we know the facts involved. But if from on generation to the next a species of moths increased in size, the Darwinist’s answer to that would probably be the same: simply environmental. But if they studied this particular moth in 1925, and then again in 1950, with the entire growth occurring in one generation, unbeknowst to the biologists, they would then proclaim that these moths had “evolved”. And I’m sure they would tell us that the gene frequency for the gene controlling growth factor had obviously changed.

    Population genetics is, for the most part, simply “just-so” stories. I’m convinced that when all is said and done, it will become abundantly clear that the genetic system of animals has a built-in ‘adaptive’ ability. It is this ‘adaptive ability’, working in conjunction with envirnomental changes, that brings about the various forms we see, and the changes of these forms over time. Part of this ‘adaptive ability’ built into the genetic system of organisms relies on ‘differential reproduction’. This means that NS, just as Provine says, is an illusion—meant to be stacked upon the dustbin of history that includes phlogiston and the electromagnetic ether.

    You are indifferent to the use of NS; I am not. I’ll continue to punch it out with the Darwinists until such time as my position is simply obvious—and they relent—or, until such time as I need to admit that there is more to NS than I can see at this time. I think we should just agree to disagree on this point.

    Where we do agree, though, is that in the big scheme of things, whether NS is conceded or not doesn’t make a big difference. Behe, as you’ve pointed out, sees a role for NS, and simply is interested in how much it can, or cannot do. I consider his approach to be very fruitful. Behe sees in the mutations that can, and do occur, the action of NS. I suppose for him, this is all the random action of nature. Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the mutation rate of humans, with a genome size of 3×10^9, is about 3x 10^-8. The genome size of bacteria, with a genome size of about 10^6 to 10^7, is about 10^-5 to 10^-6. In viruses, HIV, e.g., the genome size is 10^5 and the mutation rate is 10^-4. This is all DNA, so why the difference in the mutation rates? Obviously it is NOT a function of DNA chemistry. So, then, whence the origin of the differing mutation rates? To me it appears that the mutation rate is “designed” to fit the particular genetic system we look at, meaning that mutation rates are planned, not random. I think you would begin to view NS differently if you accepted this premise.

  108. PaV,

    This is becoming clear what this is all about. You have your own theory of evolution and you are mixing apples with oranges.

    You are mixing up several different things and at the same time proposing your own theories. I think you have to be logical and clear about what you say.

    Mutation rates and natural selection are two completely different things. The modern synthesis is based on two independent assumptions. One is that random variation arises somehow and changes the gene pool and this is the variation side of the modern synthesis. Two, when this variation arises the natural selection process will determine a differential reproduction rate based on environmental factors for some of these variations and this is the genetic side of the modern synthesis. They are essentially independent unless you want to argue for some reason they are not and that particular environments cause mutations that somehow will survive better.

    Yes, we can disagree, but you should point out the basis for your disagreement more clearly. If you go against an innocuous part of the modern synthesis with little support, it just gives ID more of a reputation of anti-science. You may be right that something other than natural selection is working on the genetic side, but you do not present what it is. You retreated to the variation side to support your attack on natural selection. That does not make sense.

    The whole argument in the evolution debate is on the variation side and not on the genetic side. Yes there is lots of things to be investigated in genetics but most will not affect the evolution argument very much. What will affect the argument probably relates to human development and if there was ever enough time for many of their pet adaptations to permeate the gene pool in the time alloted. But novelty in organic life is all on the variation side and this is the area of real debate. We must learn to separate the two. Too many times here people confuse the arguments.

    As an aside: I am 6’2 and have a son that is 5’9 and another that is 6’0. My father was 5’8 and mother 5’7 and she had uncles born in Europe who were well over 6 feet tall. I have a brother who is 6’3 and one who is 5’8 and a sister who is 5’2. My guess is that your brother and yourself are the products of better nutrition, especially during gestation and after birth. My two smaller siblings were born first and the taller ones were born later. Probably just by chance but maybe the diet and nutrition affects changed and my mother stopped smoking during that period too. Who knows.

  109. PaV, just a brief comment, since this is ostensibly a thread about ID in education. In 107 you post some rates. Those need units to be meaningful. For instance, if they are mutations/reproduction for the organism, that would be wildly different from mutations/generation or mutations/reproducton for each genome.

  110. Two, when this variation arises the natural selection process will determine a differential reproduction rate based on environmental factors for some of these variations and this is the genetic side of the modern synthesis.

    Jerry, here is where the confusion lies. Look at your wording. You imply that NS CAUSES differential reproduction.

    That’s not what Provine says. Again, Provine states: “Natural selection is the necessary outcome of discernable and often quantifiable causes. Some of these causes produce heritable differences between individuals of most populations, and between populations.”

    You’re making the same mistake Provine** accuses himself of having made when he first published his book. NS doesn’t ’cause’ differential reproduction—that just happens.
    [[**(Provine, it would seem, is an adherent of Kimura's Neutral Theory. The Neutral Theory proposes just that: neutrality. There's no room for "selection" of any kind. That's why Provine also says: "Natural selection does not act on anything, nor does it select (for or against), . . . ")]]

    You mention the Modern Synthesis. Well, that theory is principally based, per Thomas Huxley, on R.A. Fisher’s ‘fundamental theorom of natural selection’, which is meaningless if nothing is being selected “for or against”. Hence, Provine, a population geneticist himself, abandons the Modern Synthesis. But now you want to insist that I not abandon it for the sake of otherwise giving ID a bad name?

    You retreated to the variation side to support your attack on natural selection. That does not make sense.

    I don’t think you’re understanding my argument. You are—despite any protestations to the contrary—looking upon NS as a cause. As long as you do that, then you won’t understand my argument. My argument about mutation rates was this: (1) different length genomes have different mutation rates (2) the mutation rates are proportional to genomic length (3) that the mutation rates differ for different taxa indicates that the mutation rates are not a function of just DNA chemistry, for, if it were, then one would expect a constant mutation rate no matter what the size of the genome (4) the fact that the mutation rate is just slightly less than the genome length in each of these instances suggests some needed correspondence between genome length and mutation rate (5) noting that recombination, rather than being considered the source of variation, is more likely a mechanism of conserving proper DNA sequencing; and, considering that DNA repair mechanims exist in bacteria, the first form of life, as well as considering that the fundamental “law” of heredity is the Hardy-Weinberg Law, which tends to keep genes stable, it is logical to conclude two things: (A) cellular structures, for the most part, are set up to ‘conserve’ DNA, and not allow ‘variation’, and (B) in order to be able to adapt to differing environments, some measure of variablility is needed, and this, coupled to the fact that there is a close correlation between genomic length and mutation rate, suggest that the mutation rate is carefully designed for each taxa, and is not the result of blind chance. This, in turn, means that building in an ‘adaptive response mechanism’ into the organism also presupposes an interaction with the environment that will lead to differential reproduction across generations.(Provine’s ‘heretable differences’). [[(As an analogy, think of mutual funds. I'm aware of one mutual fund that is investing heavily in all sorts of nano-technology companies. No one can predict the future. No one knows who will be the winners and who the losers ahead of time. But as the technology progresses, based on 'differential cash flows', those who administer the mutual fund will cash out on some companies, and invest more heavily in others. This is a strategy. A rational approach. And it involves an interaction with the real world. As the mutual fund changes its 'company frequencies', would you attribute this to 'blind forces'? I wouldn't, although 'blind forces' are part of the process.)]]

    Biologists talk about “adaptive radiation”. Why don’t you look that up? I think you’ll see that it fits your idea of microevolution. I don’t consider adaptive radiation to be evolution—it’s, in my estimation, simply adaptive change. So, why don’t we just use “adaptive radiation’ for what is normally termed microevolution, and then we can reserve the word ‘evolution’ more properly for phenomena that involve progressive, distinct, and significant changes in organisms,and thus avoid equivocating when it comes to the word ‘evolution’. I consider this type of equivocation a real problem in discussions with Darwinists.

    But novelty in organic life is all on the variation side and this is the area of real debate. We must learn to separate the two. Too many times here people confuse the arguments.

    What mechanism do the Darwinists propose for variation? Think of Behe’s book, EoE: he showed that the only “evolution” that took place were two point mutations. How did those point mutations work? By shutting down one of the organism’s normal processes, with the side-benefit that this could counteract the effects of chloroquinone. This isn’t ‘evolution’; it’s ‘devolution’.

    Remember that argument I had here about sickle-cell anemia sometime back? In one of the only longitudinal genetic studies conducted that I’m aware of, it turns out that the gene frequency of sickle-cell anemia, in the absence of ‘selective pressure’, remained the SAME. This is real data, using real genomic evidence. And what do we see? Gene frequencies don’t change when theory says they should.

    If you want to talk about ‘alleles’, remember that Mendel came up with ‘alleles’, and he’d never seen DNA. So what do population geneticists actually mean when they talk about ‘gene frequencies’, and those frequencies ‘changing’? Why swallow their musings uncritically?

    I, unlike Darwinists, am willing to change my point of view if the evidence suggests it. And I’m sure that over the next few years, as whole genomic studies of organisms become cheaper and cheaper, and as computer algortihms become better and better at identifying the contents of these whole genomes, many surprises are in store for us. I’m willing to wait to be vindicated—or to be corrected.

  111. (#108)
    My guess is that your brother and yourself are the products of better nutrition, especially during gestation and after birth.

    This was my whole point, Jerry. An obvious phenotypic change, over time, has nothing to do with gene frequencies, but with an environmental cause. Darwinists are not careful to rule out the latter before declaring that the former has taken place. Richard Goldschmidt, in 1940, was already complaining about this.

  112. Pav,

    You said

    “Jerry, here is where the confusion lies. Look at your wording. You imply that NS CAUSES differential reproduction.”

    To support your point of view you accuse me of something that I do not hold. No where do I say that natural selection causes change in an active manner and if I do then assume what I really mean is the process. This distinction is something you are making up. I fully acknowledge that what is happening is that environmental factors are causing changes in the reproduction rates that favor some alleles over others and this what I call the natural selection process and this is what is meant by evolutionary biologists who use the term. It maybe that the amateur Darwinist who show up here use it incorrectly but I do not. That is why I used the term “natural selection process” and not the term “natural selection” to emphasize this. But I do not think it necessary to use natural selection process all the time when just shorten it to natural selection and you can assume the same thing. Something is causing allele frequencies to change. The three mechanism identified are natural selection, genetic drift and gene transfer. So when you see me use the term natural selection assume I am using just as the evolutionary biologist are using the term, as a process.

    Again you make my point by retreating to arguments about mutation rates when that has nothing to do with natural selection. The natural selection process exists, it acknowledged by nearly everyone and it is foolish to try to undermine it. What good does it do?

    I have no position on your ideas about mutation rates but I do know they have nothing to do with natural selection. You have not made any connection between the two. You constantly mix the two. Don’t discuss natural selection and mutation rates in the same argument. They are distinct concepts that have nothing to do with each other.

    You want to change a lot of the terminology in evolution when all of us here are no more than pimples on an elephant’s rear. Good luck but in the meantime I believe the current terminology works and it what evolutionary biologist use so it is best to stick with it if we are going to be more than just pimples in the evolution debate.

  113. jerry and PAV,

    You two seem to be advocating different viewpoints or “camps” within Darwinism. Now from what I’ve seen and heard the viewpoint that Provine (and MacNeill and some others who have visited UD) represents is fairly small, and the viewpoint Jerry is discussing is more generally accepted. In my mind the real question is not which viewpoint is correct. The real question is whether the slightly different hypotheses of either camp are capable of the grand claims of Darwinism.

  114. Patrick,

    What I am arguing is that part of the modern synthesis is mainly correct and spending a lot of time arguing against it does not move the ball forward for ID. Accept this half of the theory with the proviso that all it explains is trivial.

    The real debate is on the other side of the theory where ID claims that the variation that naturalistic processes can produce is also trivial. It is here the grandiose claims are made by Darwinists and there is nothing to back it up. It is the Edge of Evolution debate and where ID’s efforts should be focused. It is also here that ID research should be focused.

    I accept that natural selection can operate but it rarely or if ever has anything to work on. When it does it can be effective in producing changes in the gene pool even if some of the gene pool changes are only temporarily or trivial.

  115. Jerry,

    You say this:

    Something is causing allele frequencies to change. The three mechanism identified are natural selection, genetic drift and gene transfer.

    First question: do you know of a biologist who can look at DNA and say, “You see there, that’s an allele”? Second question: when you say that ‘something is causing allele frequencies to change’, what proof do you have of that statement other than assertions of Darwinists? Again, the only study I know of that actually looked at the genome, isolated a genetic trait, and looked at what happened to that trait frequency over time is that of sickle-cell anemia. The result of that study………drum roll, please……..NO change in frequency. Third question: I stated that you looked at NS as a causative agent. You vehemently denied it. Then you say that NS is ‘identified’ as ‘something causing allele frequencies to change.’ Do you see how confusing this use of language is? Here’s Provine again: “Natural selection does not act on anything, nor does it select (for or against), force, maximize, create, modify, shape, operate, drive, favor, maintain, push, or adjust. Natural selection does nothing.” How much more strongly can Provine say that NS is an illusion? Now maybe he’s wrong; but what if he’s right? My position is that he’s right.

    One of the three ’causes’ you mention is genetic drift. What does Provine say about genetic drift? In 1971, “Random genetic drift was a clear concept. . . . Analysis of experimental work, mostly with Drosphila melanogaster in the mid-1950′s, showed the obvious effect of random drift in small populations and further experimental evidence was hardly required.” And then in 2001: “I never suspected that I would doubt this concept in Wright’s sense of “kaleidoscopic” shifting of gene frequencies in small populations. Now I think that Wright’s concept of random drift is hopeless both in theory and in the experimental basis provided in the mid-1950′s, and I have offered a prize (a pristine copy of Wright’s famous 1931 paper, “Evoluton in Mendelian Populations”) to anyone who can furnish proof of random genetic drift in a natural or experimental population. The experimenter , however, is not allowed to artificially supply “random binomial sampling” for the demonstration.”

    The third mechanism you mention is horizontal gene transfer. While this is well-established for bacteria, much less is known in the case of eukaryotes, although the chloroplast and the mitochondria might represent such a transfer. But, of course, mitochondrial DNA is different than nuclear DNA.

    Why do you care what Darwinists think? I only care about what they can prove.

  116. Pav,

    I give up. Go think what you want to think. But you keep on distorting what I say so it is no use continuing this debate.

    I don’t believe attacking natural selection does any good. It is not Darwinists that have to be confronted. What has to be done is to make ID look scientific. You seem to want to change the whole genetics community when they are not the problem in the evolution debate. Have at it but I believe it is a cul de sac with no consequential points to be made.

    By the way I did not mean horizontal gene transfer. I meant gene flow when individuals outside the population mate with members of a population. This could change the frequencies in the gene pool.

  117. Jerry,

    It was not my intent to either distort what you’ve said or to frustrate you. I’m sure you aware of that.

    You say that ID must be made to look scientific. In my opinion, this is just a matter of time. When I was in graduate school in Microbiology years ago, I would have never dreamt that science could do what they are doing now. Back then the electron microscope was a marvel. Well, that’s like a regular, old microscope of yore these days. Just consider what’s happened with genomic studies of late, just this past year, there was a consortium (I forget their name) of various scientists, unviversities, and disciplines within the universities, who collaborated in analyzing the genome. They discovered that there are extensive ares of regulation to be found in “junk-DNA”. As biological science progresses, the more it is able to cheaply, reliably, and quickly analyze genomes of various organisms, then the whole notion of ‘genetic drift’, changed gene frequencies and such will all be clarified.

    The Darwinists complain that IDers don’t do any experimental work, that it’s all left to them to do. And, for the time being that’s the case. But until such time as the work that the biological community is now doing allows us to understand the genome with greater exactitude, NS will be the only paradigm that they will accept. However, as their work reveals more and more, ID, within the context of what is newly learned, might appear to be a more and more compelling explanation. Meyers now argues that ID has greater “explanatory power” than RM+NS. Only with time, and new information, will this be more clearly seen.

    And, in all honesty, I should add this: I’m not so much ‘in favor’ of ID as I am ‘against’ Darwinism.

    As I see it, for those who want to willingly believe that matter itself can explain the development of life, no amount of evidence to the contrary will change their minds. ID is simply just better science as far as I’m concerned.

    Lastly, I think I’ve been very careful, when attacking so-called ‘microevolution’ and such, to point out that the majority of those who hold ID readily accept ‘microevolution’. So it’s not as if I’m trying to pass off my own personal views as the stuff of ID. If people want to learn about ID, they should read “No Free Lunch”. It’s excellent (but not easy to read in its entirety). Although I haven’t read it yet, we have “The Design of Life” by Demski and Wells, which should turn out to be another great source for understanding ID. People can, and should be, directed to those texts if they want to understand ID better. I know you worry about people not taking ID seriously, but scientific facts will take care of all of that. ID predicted that ‘junk-DNA’ would turn out to have a function. And it does. ID somewhat implicitly predicts a kind of ‘front-loading’. Within the last six months they found a sea anemone (something that appears, by form, to be an invertebrate) that had a gene for the formation of ‘digits’. This is a quasi confirmation of ‘front-loading’. I think that it is clear that ID will become more and more accepted simply as science is able to learn more than more. ID is criticized, ludicrously, as ‘creationism’. Yet, it has been information science that has wrought ID. If computers didn’t exist, if digital code didn’t function in stupendous ways, I don’t think anybody would be talking about ID. Just think of Demsbki’s example: it was in being able to detect the presence of the first 100 prime numbers in a 1000-bit string that convinced him of his notion of the “design inference”. So, it is clear at least to me, that it has been the advance of science that has brought about the development of ID. Thus, the future is ours.

    Pace.

  118. like the theory of gravitation, the theory of evolution is both obvious and unproven. this reminds me of arguments people have as to whether animals feel pain. if you’ve ever been subjected to the torture of watching a kid mutilate a cat – then the answer is obvious – yes, they feel pain. but try to prove it! you can’t. in fact there’s lots of things we can’t prove that aren’t true.

    in fact, one of the things we *can* prove is that it’s impossible to prove all true things!

    in the area of the unproven, faith is what we need to use.

    i have faith that i live in a real universe – not a matrix-like simulation.

    i have faith that animals feel pain

    i have faith that we are, through evolution, connected to all other creatures on this planet

    and through this faith i believe we have a moral obligation to care for the planet we live on

    i don’t need or want a scientist or a mathematical proof to to tell me these things

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