Home » Evolution, horizontal gene transfer, News » A way evolution can happen—that is, how information gets shared

A way evolution can happen—that is, how information gets shared

from The Scientist , we learn,

In what appears to be a novel form of bacterial gene transfer, or conjugation, the microbe Mycobacterium smegmatis can share multiple segments of DNA at once to fellow members of its species, according to a study published today (July 9) in PLOS Biology. The result: the generation of genetic diversity at a pace once believed to be reserved for sexual organisms.

The researchers found that, after the transfers, up to a quarter of the recipient bacteria’s genomes were made up of donated DNA, scattered through the chromosomes in segments of varying lengths.

According to the authors, the diversity resulting from distributive conjugal transfer approaches that achieved by meiosis, the process of cell division that underlies sexual reproduction. “The progeny were like meiotic blends,” said Derbyshire. “The genomes are totally mosaic.”

As to where the “original” information came from, in a sense, that is like asking how life itself originated. It is a separate question from the evolution of life thereafter.

That is, if we want to study evolution, we want to study the mechanisms by which life forms change over time. We can do so even if we do not know how the information they have altered, traded, or expunged* originated. Good thing, that, as it is likely much harder to find that out.

Note: Perhaps expunged only temporarily, as in the case of the blind cave fish whose offspring’s eyes reappeared when they were hybridized.

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72 Responses to A way evolution can happen—that is, how information gets shared

  1. OT: Darwin’s Doubt author Stephen C. Meyer on What is the mystery of the Cambrian explosion? – (new) video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqQbqpima-c

  2. I’m just amazed at the number of seemingly intelligent people who believe that all of biology could have popped into existence via spontaneous dumb luck. It really does blow my mind. But of course they only believe it because they WANT to believe it. Which I don’t understand either. The only conclusion I can come to is that they’re all sick in the head. So really what’s the use in conversing with them or debating them? The Darwinist is truly an embarrassment to the human race.

  3. vh,

    I’m just amazed at the number of seemingly intelligent people who believe that all of biology could have popped into existence via spontaneous dumb luck.

    Which is a very good reason to ask yourself a couple of questions:

    1. Am I right about what these people actually believe? (Hint: evolution isn’t “spontaneous dumb luck”.)

    2. Since these people seem intelligent, is it possible that they’ve thought things through more carefully than I have?

  4. Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Wolfgang Pauli on the Empirical Problems with Neo-Darwinism – Casey Luskin – February 27, 2012
    Excerpt: While they (Darwinian Biologists) pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’” Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28) -
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....56771.html

    Talbott humorously reflects on the awkward situation between Atheists and Theists here:

    Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness – Talbott – Fall 2011
    Excerpt: In the case of evolution, I picture Dennett and Dawkins filling the blackboard with their vivid descriptions of living, highly regulated, coordinated, integrated, and intensely meaningful biological processes, and then inserting a small, mysterious gap in the middle, along with the words, “Here something random occurs.”
    This “something random” looks every bit as wishful as the appeal to a miracle. It is the central miracle in a gospel of meaninglessness, a “Randomness of the gaps,” demanding an extraordinarily blind faith. At the very least, we have a right to ask, “Can you be a little more explicit here?”
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....randomness

    Also of related interest:

    “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.” Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109.

  5. News as to:

    “up to a quarter of the recipient bacteria’s genomes were made up of donated DNA, scattered through the chromosomes in segments of varying lengths.”

    I’m not too surprised by that 25% figure, At the 8:00 minute mark of the following Dr. Nelson goes over the bacterial pan-genome. Consisting of essential genes (250 gene families that encode proteins involved in translation, replication and energy homeostasis); the character genes (7900 gene families) represent genes essential for colonization and survival in particular environmental niches (e.g. symbiosis and photosynthesis); and finally, the accessory (ORFan) genes, a pool of apparently infinite size, contains genes that can be used to distinguish strains and serotypes

    Widespread ORFan Genes Challenge Common Descent – Paul Nelson – video with references
    http://www.vimeo.com/17135166

    On the second page of this paper you can find a better picture of the graph Dr. Nelson uses in the preceding video:

    Estimating the size of the bacterial pan-genome – Pascal Lapierre and J. Peter Gogarten – 2008
    Excerpt: We have found greater than 139 000 rare (ORFan) gene families scattered throughout the bacterial genomes included in this study. The finding that the fitted exponential function approaches a plateau indicates an open pan-genome (i.e. the bacterial protein universe is of infinite size); a finding supported through extrapolation using a Kezdy-Swinbourne plot (Figure S3). This does not exclude the possibility that, with many more sampled genomes, the number of novel genes per additional genome might ultimately decline; however, our analyses and those presented in Ref. [11] do not provide any indication for such a decline and confirm earlier observations that many new protein families with few members remain to be discovered.
    http://www.paulyu.org/wp-conte.....genome.pdf

    One problem, as you pointed out News, is that Darwinists have no clue where any of these genes come from in the first place, whether they are dedicated or whether they are shared. The second problem is that Darwinists have no clue as to how these extremely sophisticated mechanisms for sharing the proper genes between bacteria for different environments came about.

    Notes:

    Horizontal Gene Transfer
    Transformation – the uptake of naked DNA,,,
    Conjugation – the transfer of DNA mediated by conjugal plasmids ,,
    Transduction – the transfer of DNA by phage,,,

    etc..
    http://www.sci.sdsu.edu/~smalo.....hange.html

    Here is one little known method of communication between bacteria that is very impressive:

    Cellular Communication through Light
    Excerpt:
    The study was performed with a cellular organism, the ciliate Paramecium caudatum. Mutual exposure of cell populations occurred under conditions of darkness and separation with cuvettes (vials) allowing photon but not molecule transfer.,,,Altogether the study strongly supports a cellular communication system, which is different from a molecule-receptor-based system and hints that photon-triggering is a fine tuning principle in cell chemistry.,,,
    Information transfer is a life principle. On a cellular level we generally assume that molecules are carriers of information, yet there is evidence for non-molecular information transfer due to endogenous coherent light. This light is ultra-weak, is emitted by many organisms, including humans and is conventionally described as biophoton emission.
    http://www.plosone.org/article.....ne.0005086

    Seems bacteria were using something like radio communication billions of years before we were! and even ‘social networking’ before we were:

    Learning from Bacteria about Social Networking (Information Processing) – video
    Excerpt: I will show illuminating movies of swarming intelligence of live bacteria in which they solve optimization problems for collective decision making that are beyond what we, human beings, can solve with our most powerful computers.,,,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJpi8SnFXHs

  6. Keiths

    If it is not chance, or random the please enlighten us how? I’m curious…..

  7. KeithS:
    (Hint: evolution isn’t “spontaneous dumb luck”.)

    So what pray tell is it? spontaneous good luck? or let’s see – the opposite of spontaneous would be planned, right? so is it planned dumb luck? But luck isn’t normally the outcome when a plan is involved (tho’ of course that’s possible, even common perhaps) – so not spontaneous not dumb not luck seems to end up as well planned – but somehow I don’t think that’s what you have in mind – so what do you have in mind?

  8. The answer you are looking for is, to use Darwin’s expression: “natural selection”.

  9. 9

    vh: I’m just amazed at the number of seemingly intelligent people who believe that all of biology could have popped into existence via spontaneous dumb luck.

    keith’s: evolution isn’t “spontaneous dumb luck”

    andre: If it is not chance, or random the please enlighten us how?

    Dr Liddle: The answer you are looking for is … “natural selection”.

    The equivocation continues, unabated by discipline.

    Dr Liddle (elsewhere): I have never, ever, suggested that you could produce a system of self-replicators from a system of non-self-replicators by Darwinian evolution. If you thought I suggested such a thing, either I mistyped, or you misread… Clearly it would be an absurd claim, because you have to have self-replicators before you can have Darwinian evolution. By definition.

  10. Elizabeth:

    The answer you are looking for is, to use Darwin’s expression: “natural selection”.

    NS only eliminates the weak and deficient. And that isn’t a designer mimic.

  11. Since these people seem intelligent, is it possible that they’ve thought things through more carefully than I have?

    I have been following this debate carefully for over 15 years and I have not found one person who believes in naturalistic evolution who could defend their beliefs. So the answer to your question is definitely not.

  12. Upright Biped: seriously, do try reading for meaning.

    All of life was not the result of dumb luck. Darwinian evolution, which is not dumb luck, is almost certainly responsible for the extraordinary range of beautifully adapted organisms that we see. They did not adapt by “dumb luck”.

    And while we do not know how the first self-replicators emerged, it was probably not “dumb luck” either. Far more likely to be physics and chemistry.

    You seem to quote random chunks of my posts out of context in order to try to make my position look contradictory. Alternatively, you are simply failing to understand it.

    Either way, it would be good if you dropped the snark and actually tried to understand what I’m saying.

    Even if it’s wrong.

  13. Darwinian evolution is most assuredly nothing but sheer dumb luck.

    With darwinian evolution ALL the variation is due to sheer dumb luck. It’s sheer dumb luck that any mutation will confer an advantage. It is sheer dumb luck that any given mutation will be detrimental.

    BTW we understand what you are saying- we understand that is is wrong.

  14. Darwinian evolution, which is not dumb luck, is almost certainly responsible for the extraordinary range of beautifully adapted organisms that we see.

    There are two issues here. Organisms and adapted organisms. Darwin’s ideas can not explain the origin of the organism or as Darwin put it, the origin of species, but probably does contribute a lot to their adaptation after they are here.

    So the statement really has no relevance in the context of the overall evolution debate. If one wants to ask do most people here accept micro evolution, the answer is yes but it is not a question at issue.

  15. There are two issues here. Organisms and adapted organisms. Darwin’s ideas can not explain the origin of the organism or as Darwin put it, the origin of species, but probably does contribute a lot to their adaptation after they are here.

    Well, Darwin did not seek to explain the first common ancestor, but he did did seek to explain adaptation and speciation thereafter.

    So the statement really has no relevance in the context of the overall evolution debate. If one wants to ask do most people here accept micro evolution, the answer is yes but it is not a question at issue.

    In that case there are three issues, not two:

    1. The origin of the first Darwinian-capable self-replicators
    2. The capacity of descent with modification plus natural selection to produce both adaptation and speciation
    3. The capacity of descent with modification to do any more than “microevolution”.

    Most people here accept 3. Nobody knows the answer to 1. “Evolutionists” think that 2 is supported by the data, and that the idea that Darwinian process can only produce “microevolution” is not.

  16. Darwinian evolution is most assuredly nothing but sheer dumb luck.

    Well, not necessarily – if optimal variance generation mechanisms are selectable. But yes, in principle, the variance is produced by local random exploration in the region of what already works.

    With darwinian evolution ALL the variation is due to sheer dumb luck. It’s sheer dumb luck that any mutation will confer an advantage. It is sheer dumb luck that any given mutation will be detrimental.

    But NOT “sheer dumb luck” that the advantageous ones will breed more – that is true by definition.

  17. ^First line above is Joe’s

  18. Elizabeth:

    Well, not necessarily – if optimal variance generation mechanisms are selectable.

    That has nothing to do with darwinian evolution. There isn’t any selecting with darwinian evolution, just elimination.

    But NOT “sheer dumb luck” that the advantageous ones will breed more – that is true by definition.

    Umm surviving and breeding are two different things. And “advantageous” is relative.

  19. Elizabeth:

    3. The capacity of descent with modification to do any more than “microevolution”.

    Most people here accept 3.

    Then they do so absent of supporting evidence. Meaning they do so for non-scientific reasons.

    “Evolutionists” think that 2 is supported by the data, and that the idea that Darwinian process can only produce “microevolution” is not.

    And yet there aren’t any microevolutionary events we can take and extrapolate macroevolution. IOW micro only is supported by the evidence.

  20. 20

    Upright Biped: seriously, do try reading for meaning.

    Dr Liddle, the question that was asked referred specifically to biology popping “into existence”, which is almost certainly related to it origin.

    Perhaps you might try taking your own advice.

  21. 2. The capacity of descent with modification plus natural selection to produce both adaptation and speciation

    There is no evidence to support this other than minor changes. Darwin did not supply it and neither have any of those who followed him.

    No one knows how species have arisen unless you are talking about the minor differences between various types of organisms which somehow gets classified as species differences. There are a lot of beetle species. Again adaptation is not the issue because there is little of no evidence that adaptation has led to anything more than trivial changes in the gene pools. I am not saying that some of these trivial changes have not been useful but again these changes are not the thing being debated.

    You might want to look at all these wonderful adaptations as “Incredible Design.” Why does such a complicated process exists that helps organisms adapt but only allows adaptation so far. Amazing design.

  22. UB:

    Dr Liddle, the question that was asked referred specifically to biology popping “into existence”, which is almost certainly related to it origin.

    Perhaps you might try taking your own advice.

    Vh wrote:

    I’m just amazed at the number of seemingly intelligent people who believe that all of biology could have popped into existence via spontaneous dumb luck

    All of biology did not pop into existence via spontaneous dumb luck.

    Almost certainly what “popped into existence” to become the ancestor of all biological organism didn’t even have what we now associate with “biology” (DNA for example).

  23. Again, I will bring up Meyer’s book which introduced to me and I guess almost everyone else here some new concepts. Evolution of any consequence did not take place in the genome. It took place in the epigenetics of the egg and my guess in the cell wall of the egg. It is there and at other places in the egg that form is created.

    Again not in the genome so all of you who are looking to changes in the DNA as the source of evolution, you are probably in a cul de sac with no useful address. If I have read it right, the whole evolution debate will take a completely different route now. We will be talking about sugar combinations in the cell membranes and other types of molecules stragegically placed in the egg cytoplasm.

    I believe that is the main thesis of Meyer’s book. Dawkins, Coyne et al are in the cul de sac wandering around trying to find an address that is not there. Anyone with a different understanding, please correct me.

  24. Again, I will bring up Meyer’s book which introduced to me and I guess almost everyone else here some new concepts. Evolution of any consequence did not take place in the genome. It took place in the epigenetics of the egg and my guess in the cell wall of the egg. It is there and at other places in the egg that form is created.

    This is a very strange claim. I have not yet finished Meyer’s book, but while epigenetics are very important, the idea that DNA is not is, well, bizarre.

    What about hox genes?

    Again not in the genome so all of you who are looking to changes in the DNA as the source of evolution, you are probably in a cul de sac with no useful address. If I have read it right, the whole evolution debate will take a completely different route now. We will be talking about sugar combinations in the cell membranes and other types of molecules stragegically placed in the egg cytoplasm.

    I believe that is the main thesis of Meyer’s book. Dawkins, Coyne et al are in the cul de sac wandering around trying to find an address that is not there. Anyone with a different understanding, please correct me.

    In any case, evolutionary theory does not require that hereditary variance is inherited via the genome. Darwin didn’t even know how traits were varied or inherited.

  25. jerry is correct-> DNA is NOT a magical molecule that allows for shape-shifting.

    Genetic changes influence traits, ie eye color, hair/ fur/ skin color, height, ear lobes, chin shape, etc. Nothing that would lead anyone to infer that it determines what type of organism will develop.

    That is the question that requires answering- what makes an organism what it is? We are in the 21st century and no one has a clue. Or rather those with a clue are not being heard.

  26. ‘Now one more problem as far as the generation of information. It turns out that you don’t only need information to build genes and proteins, it turns out to build Body-Plans you need higher levels of information; Higher order assembly instructions. DNA codes for the building of proteins, but proteins must be arranged into distinctive circuitry to form distinctive cell types. Cell types have to be arranged into tissues. Tissues have to be arranged into organs. Organs and tissues must be specifically arranged to generate whole new Body-Plans, distinctive arrangements of those body parts. We now know that DNA alone is not responsible for those higher orders of organization. DNA codes for proteins, but by itself it does not insure that proteins, cell types, tissues, organs, will all be arranged in the body. And what that means is that the Body-Plan morphogenesis, as it is called, depends upon information that is not encoded on DNA. Which means you can mutate DNA indefinitely. 80 million years, 100 million years, til the cows come home. It doesn’t matter, because in the best case you are just going to find a new protein some place out there in that vast combinatorial sequence space. You are not, by mutating DNA alone, going to generate higher order structures that are necessary to building a body plan. So what we can conclude from that is that the neo-Darwinian mechanism is grossly inadequate to explain the origin of information necessary to build new genes and proteins, and it is also grossly inadequate to explain the origination of novel biological form.’ -
    Stephen Meyer – (excerpt taken from Meyer/Sternberg vs. Shermer/Prothero debate – 2009)

    Stephen Meyer – Functional Proteins And Information For Body Plans – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4050681

  27. Elizabeth:

    What about hox genes?

    Darwinian processes cannot explain their existence. Also HOX genes definitely do not determine the type of organism.

    So what about them?

    In any case, evolutionary theory does not require that hereditary variance is inherited via the genome.

    How do you know? Can you link us to this alleged “evolutionary theory”?

    But anyway no one has any idea what needs to be altered in order to account for the diversity of life observed. Darwin’s big idea is totally untestable. And yet it is being pushed as science.

  28. Moreover, the mutations Darwinism needs for Body Plan morphogenesis are the ones most likely to be catastrophic:

    Darwin or Design? – Paul Nelson at Saddleback Church – Nov. 2012 – ontogenetic depth (excellent update) – video
    Text from one of the Saddleback slides:
    1. Animal body plans are built in each generation by a stepwise process, from the fertilized egg to the many cells of the adult. The earliest stages in this process determine what follows.
    2. Thus, to change — that is, to evolve — any body plan, mutations expressed early in development must occur, be viable, and be stably transmitted to offspring.
    3. But such early-acting mutations of global effect are those least likely to be tolerated by the embryo.
    Losses of structures are the only exception to this otherwise universal generalization about animal development and evolution. Many species will tolerate phenotypic losses if their local (environmental) circumstances are favorable. Hence island or cave fauna often lose (for instance) wings or eyes.
    http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/7ece8/

  29. “Why Is A Fly Not A Horse?”*- by Giuseppe Sermonti:

    ”The scientist enjoys a privilege denied the theologian. To any question, even one central to his theories, he may reply “I’m sorry but I do not know.” This is the only honest answer to the question posed by the title of this chapter. We are fully aware of what makes a flower red rather than white, what it is that prevents a dwarf from growing taller, or what goes wrong in a paraplegic or a thalassemic. But the mystery of species eludes us, and we have made no progress beyond what we already have long known, namely, that a kitty is born because its mother was a she-cat that mated with a tom, and that a fly emerges as a fly larva from a fly egg.”- chapter VI

    * Book and Chapter Title

  30. 30

    Dr Liddle,

    All of biology did not pop into existence via spontaneous dumb luck.

    There’s no need for me to repeat the number of materialist promoters who have spent their careers assuring the public that Life is an unguided cosmic accident without purpose.

    Almost certainly what “popped into existence” to become the ancestor of all biological organism didn’t even have what we now associate with “biology” (DNA for example).

    This is a statement of belief. Why should it take precedence over the evidence it ignores?

  31. but while epigenetics are very important, the idea that DNA is not is, well, bizarre.

    No one said DNA is not important. Look at DNA as the building blocks but that the blue print and instructions are some place else. Can’t build anything without materials and individual buildings may require some specialized materials. But without a blue print those materials would not get used in any meaningful way.

    evolutionary theory does not require that hereditary variance is inherited via the genome.

    No one said it does. I certainly did not. I am saying that the debate will change dramatically from now on. Those who want to dwell on the old will be bogged down in irrelevant stuff.

    I am finished for the day since I have to work now.

  32. UB

    There’s no need for me to repeat the number of materialist promoters who have spent their careers assuring the public that Life is an unguided cosmic accident without purpose.

    OK, if that’s what you mean, fair enough. However, that still wouldn’t mean it was “dumb luck”. It might turn out that life is as inevitable as stars and planets and galaxies and black holes.

    But sure, it might not have been created by some being with a mind who had us in mind. On the other hand it might.

    This is a statement of belief. Why should it take precedence over the evidence it ignores?

    What I mean is that nobody proposes that the first common ancestor was as complicated as a modern-type cell with DNA.

  33. jerry:

    No one said DNA is not important. Look at DNA as the building blocks but that the blue print and instructions are some place else. Can’t build anything without materials and individual buildings may require some specialized materials. But without a blue print those materials would not get used in any meaningful way.

    I absolutely agree.

    No one said it does. I certainly did not. I am saying that the debate will change dramatically from now on. Those who want to dwell on the old will be bogged down in irrelevant stuff.

    I don’t see a particularly dramatic change. “Evo-devo” has been around for a while.

  34. 34

    EL: “It might turn out that life is as inevitable as stars and planets and galaxies and black holes.”

    This statement is interesting. Why do you believe stars, planets, galaxies and black holes were in any sense “inevitable”?

  35. Elizabeth:

    “Evo-devo” has been around for a while.

    This is true. And developmental biologists don’t know what makes an organism what it is.

  36. Barry

    EL: “It might turn out that life is as inevitable as stars and planets and galaxies and black holes.”

    This statement is interesting. Why do you believe stars, planets, galaxies and black holes were in any sense “inevitable”?

    Inevitable given the universe we seem to have. I wasn’t saying anything more than that. My own hunch, and its no more than that, is that we live in a universe in which life is quite likely, and therefore probably is not unique to earth.

    I think such a position is perfectly consistent with the idea that life was intended.

  37. ^Sorry, messed up the tags The last two paragraphs are my response to Barry.

  38. EL; The universe we have, being quite fine tuned, cannot properly be taken as a given. KF

  39. I didn’t say it could :)

  40. 40
    Barry Arrington

    I paraphrase EL: “Given the way things are, things are the way they are.” Indisputably true, as all tautologies are. But it does not address the really important and exciting questions: (1) Why are things the way they are instead of some other way? And (2) Why, indeed, are there things at all instead of pure non-being?

    The materialists answer to 1: Chance. That is why materialists are so enamored with multiverse silliness – they believe (wrongly) that in a multiverse there are unlimited probabilistic resources that make their implausible creation myth (Darwinism) somehow plausible.

    The materialist answer to 2: I dunno.

  41. 41

    Dr Liddle,

    It might turn out that life is as inevitable as stars and planets and galaxies and black holes.

    This sentiment basically equates to naval gazing. We know that Life on Earth is driven in local systems by recorded information. It is unreasonable to ignore this fact just because materialists cannot demonstrate an adequate basis for the organization that makes those local systems possible.

  42. I don’t see a particularly dramatic change. “Evo-devo” has been around for a while.

    I have read Sean Carroll’s book, “Endless Forms, Most Beautiful.” There was nothing there. If I missed something, let me know. I have both a hard copy and the ebook so I can re-read it.

    they believe (wrongly) that in a multiverse there are unlimited probabilistic resources that make their implausible creation myth (Darwinism) more plausible.

    The funny thing about the mulitverse and the unlimited probabilistic resources is that it says anything is possible including a massive intelligence that just might utter the words, “Let there be light.” But would this massive intelligence do it English. Unless the materialist propose there would be a limit on the intelligence of an entity in a multiverse of unlimited resources.

    For those of you who still advocate naturalistic evolution Massimo Pigliucci says that there is no known mechanism for the heavy lifting part of evolution:

    http://philpapers.org/archive/PIGAES

    Darwin’s ideas can explain the trivial but anything complicated is a mystery. Maybe Pigliucci is a closet ID advocate.

  43. jerry:

    I have read Sean Carroll’s book, “Endless Forms, Most Beautiful.” There was nothing there. If I missed something, let me know.

    You missed something, jerry. :)

  44. Barry Arrington:

    I paraphrase EL: “Given the way things are, things are the way they are.”

    A better paraphrase would be, “Given the way things were, it’s not so surprising how they turned out.”

    The materialists answer to 1: Chance. That is why materialists are so enamored with multiverse silliness – they believe (wrongly) that in a multiverse there are unlimited probabilistic resources that make their implausible creation myth (Darwinism) somehow plausible.

    Eugene Koonin is the only scientist I know of who makes this argument, and he makes it for OOL, not evolution.

    Even if we limit ourselves to our own universe, unguided evolution explains the evidence far better than intelligent design.

    The materialist answer to 2: I dunno.

    The theist’s answer: I dunno, but if I invent a God, I can claim to have an “explanation”.

  45. No keiths, there wasn’t anything in Carroll’s books- “Endless Forms…” and “Making of the Fittest” that supports evo-devo. You are bluffing, again…

  46. keiths:

    Even if we limit ourselves to our own universe, unguided evolution explains the evidence far better than intelligent design.

    Unfortunately there isn’t anything at that site that supports unguided evolution. Not one testable hypothesis wrt unguided evolution. Not one prediction borne from unguided evolution. And to top it off the main evidence comes from Theobald who clearly states that his evidences do not support any mechanism- meaning the evidences do not support unguided evolution.

    And BTW, gradual evolution would not expect an objective nested hierarchy. That is because it predicts a smooth blending of traits indicative of over-lapping Venn diagrams- which means there shouldn’t be an ONH given gradual evolution- unguided or not.

    That said the evidence for unguided evolution comes from diseases and other observed deficiencies. So yes, unguided evolution explains THAT evidence far better than intelligent design.

    However intelligent design is a far better explanation for ATP synthase and every other multi-protein configuration in existence. You wouldn’t even know how to test the premise that unguided evolution can produce something like ATP synthase.

    The proof will be your total avoidance at supporting your ridiculoues tripe.

  47. 47
    Barry Arrington

    Keiths: “The theist’s answer: I dunno, but if I invent a God, I can claim to have an ‘explanation.’”

    No Keiths. The theist’s answer is to follow the logic of existence: That which begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe had a cause, and we call that cause “God.”

    This is the point of my comment to EL. The universe and everything in it are not in any sense “inevitable,” i.e., “necessary.” (She apparently agrees with this.) If the universe is not necessary, then it must be contingent. If it is contingent, it must depend for its existence on a transcendent necessary being, which we call “God.”

    The materialist’s answer is wholly irrational, a blind leap of faith: The universe is just a brute fact that cannot be explained.

  48. BA: The problem here is that of course, such objectors as a rule will reject first principles of right reason precisely because the logic of cause and effect (and of sufficient reason) points where they would not go. Cf discussion here. Ignored or twisted into strawmannish pretzels as usual. KF

  49. OOPS, I should have linked here on on first principles of right reason. KF

  50. Barry:

    I paraphrase EL: “Given the way things are, things are the way they are.” Indisputably true, as all tautologies are.

    No, it isn’t a tautology, Barry. Given the properties our universe has, life could be really quite unlikely, but happened anyway, as we know, or it could be really quite likely, and happened several times.

    What I said was that my hunch is the latter.

    But it does not address the really important and exciting questions: (1) Why are things the way they are instead of some other way? And (2) Why, indeed, are there things at all instead of pure non-being?

    Absolutely. But I think that is a theological question, not a scientific one. Aquinas’ answer was, of course “God”, and he essentially defined “God” as the answer to that question. The next interesting question, I suggest is: if God is the answer, what else can we know about what God is? Again, Aquinas famously answers: we cannot know what God is, only what God is not.

    I’m not especially trying to push Aquinas here (though I was once an Aquinas fan), and there are other ways of approaching this, but I think this is the core theological issue: why is there something rather than nothing? I do not think it can be resolved by science. But I could be wrong.

    The materialists answer to 1: Chance. That is why materialists are so enamored with multiverse silliness – they believe (wrongly) that in a multiverse there are unlimited probabilistic resources that make their implausible creation myth (Darwinism) somehow plausible.

    I disagree. I think this is a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of scientific enquiry in general, and of the motivation behind multiverse hypotheses (which aren’t silly at all – I think you have this wrong). It wouldn’t matter for theology whether the universe was multiple, eternal, steady state, ekpyrotic, or anything else. As you say, the interesting question (at least theologically) is “why is there anything at all?” If the answer to that question is “God”, then all a multiverse would tell us is something more about what God is not (limited to creating a single universe, for instance).

    As I said, I think we will find that life is not particularly unlikely, given the universe we have (in other words does not require more probabilistic resources than are available in this universe). What is rather more of a challenge is the probability of this particular universe (a life generating one), given the apparent vastness of the probability space of non-life-generating ones.

    The materialist answer to 2: I dunno.

    Yes indeed. But then, in as sense, so is the theological one. Even if we give the answer as “God”, that leaves a vast mystery. I dunno what God is. I can only know what God is not.

    More to the point, the scientific answer is: I dunno – but let’s see what more we can find out.

    If only to find out more about what God is not.

  51. KF:

    The problem here is that of course, such objectors as a rule will reject first principles of right reason precisely because the logic of cause and effect (and of sufficient reason) points where they would not go.

    I’m really curious about this, because it keeps coming up. Where is it that you think the rules of right reason lead us, and where we have to suspend them to avoid going there?

    This is not a trick question, or sarcasm: I really want to know. Because I am not aware of any question to which the answer I reach depends on suspension of the rules of right reason.

  52. Barry Arrington:

    The materialist’s answer is wholly irrational, a blind leap of faith: The universe is just a brute fact that cannot be explained.

    The theist’s answer is wholly irrational, a blind leap of faith: God is just a brute fact that cannot be explained.

  53. EL: Why not read the already linked, the first gives a case of the pretzel games indulged by your ilk to avoid addressing where such leads, only a dew weeks back here at UD — do you remember the bright red cricket ball sitting in a shop showcase over in Davy Hill here, cited as an example to begin from? I doubt that you can properly suggest ignorance of same. The second lays out in more details where Schopenhauer’s issue of sufficiency of reason (note my weak form). KF

  54. Onlookers:

    KS indulges his usual rhetorical tactics, here a classic instance of the twisted about, turnspeech accusation meant to cause confusion.

    But, to pull that trick so beloved of Herr Goebbels and co [he should really think twice about what his stunts tell us . . . ], he fails to acknowledge that first principles of right reason include the identity cluster (immediately present once we recognise that bright red ball on the table, thence { R | NOT-R } and all that follows, AND on the issue of sufficiency of reason that leads to the dichotomy on being, { contingent | necessary }, hence the rationality and intelligibility of what BA described in 47 above as “a transcendent necessary being.”

    That a material cosmos can and should be a necessary being, has been off the table since it became quite evident that the only cosmos we experience and observe is made of matter that is contingent, and has a beginning that entails contingency and cause as its explanation. KS in another thread has indulged speculations about positive and negative gravity energy — which is in turn dependent on a speculated wider cosmos that bubbles us up and runs smack head on into serious issues on fine tuning. (Cf discussion here in recent weeks at UD in response to some such suggestions that pretended to get a cosmos from “nothing,” which really was instead something; nothing, properly, is non-being, period. Trying to pull a cosmos our of a non-existent hat does not work.)

    And, it is not even a serious question but that evolutionary materialism is radically, irretrievably incoherent and self refuting, never mind the rhetorical gymnastics resorted to as usual to try to obscure or distract our attention from the matter. Cf here on, for a 101 on that.

    Evolutionary materialism, for all its pretensions to be dressed up in a lab coat, is a self refuting, necessarily false notion. (Which, unfortunately, does not preclude it from being quite influential. And so, on long history, dangerous.)

    KF

  55. 55

    The “Hitler” card was played almost immediately. I wonder if this is done in a Machiavellian style simply to subvert discussion. [News]

    Kf, you have to agree: The darwinian and trinitarian mobs have so much alike in their discussion style.

    Have you by any chance counted the Nazi references on this blog?

  56. KF

    EL: Why not read the already linked, the first gives a case of the pretzel games indulged by your ilk to avoid addressing where such leads, only a dew weeks back here at UD — do you remember the bright red cricket ball sitting in a shop showcase over in Davy Hill here, cited as an example to begin from? I doubt that you can properly suggest ignorance of same. The second lays out in more details where Schopenhauer’s issue of sufficiency of reason (note my weak form). KF

    I would rather you just answered my question, clearly and simply.

  57. KF:

    KS indulges his usual rhetorical tactics, here a classic instance of the twisted about, turnspeech accusation meant to cause confusion.

    But, to pull that trick so beloved of Herr Goebbels and co [he should really think twice about what his stunts tell us . . . ]

    I cannot let this go without comment. Do you think this remark about keiths does, or does not, amount to slander?

    If it does, will you delete it?
    If it does not, why not?

  58. JWT:

    Pardon, but with all due respects, you have your facts wrong.

    For instance, in responding to KS overnight, I have at length resorted to blunt names — a propaganda tactic commonly used by Goebbels, turn-speech accusation — after weeks of his repeated use of the tactic in question, and it is appropriate to highlight a relevant historical comparison when it is relevant. (Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat its worst chapters, per Santayana’s warning. he goes on to say that by and large that is exactly what we so often do.)

    In this case the turn-speech tactic that actually some weeks back I had to point out with specific cases starting with the Reichstag fire that projected a coup attempt onto communists in order to facilitate a Nazi coup, and also going on to the Czechs over the Sudeten Germans and the use of murdered prisoners in Polish uniforms to create a perception of a Polish attack on Germany in 1939.

    I believe you are a German yourself, so you should know of these cases. There fore it is entirely appropriate to point out that the habitual resort to this sort of tactic, is a dangerous and destructive behaviour, setting matches alight that can easily set a blazing out of control hellish wild fire as James warns in ch 3 of his epistle.

    As to your warped view of orthodox Christian faith, I simply point those who want to see why the view that God is triune is the historic and theologically well warranted Christian view, here and here on. As for the pretence or suggestion that believing that God is triune makes one particularly prone to be wicked, I suggest first that there is a moral hazard of being human, and that the problem with the sort of evils that make it into history books is that once a movement is sufficiently large scale that some hold power in the community, per a Dominical warning, there will always be tares among the wheat (to be separated at harvest); that is, I firmly believe that power tends to corrupt and power without limits and accountability corrupts absolutely.

    You also need to balance your views in light of the sort of specifically Christian contribution to the rise of modern liberty outlined here on in context. I think here on, with particular attention to Bernard Lewis’ comment, will further help balance your views.

    But most of all, I want to point out that unless one can draw proper lessons from sad history on reasonable comparison, it is of no benefit.

    A major point I am making here is that — precisely because we are forgetting history yet again — we are again falling as a civilisation into the habits of destructive rhetoric, propaganda (especially, turn-speech, big lie, strawman tactic based ad hominems and scapegoating and similar tactics advocated by Alinsky, who as a Jew who was of years to understand what happened in the 1930′s – 40′s should of all people have known better . . . ) and political messianism — a species of idolatry — that led people within living memory into such awful horrors.

    And, I cannot omit that there is also excellent reason to point to a properly documented and sobering fact of history that is today so often violently suppressed: the intellectual line of inheritance from Darwin to Haeckel and others to the nihilism of German leadership by the time of the rape of Belgium in WW I, and onwards to the rape of Europe in WW II under Hitler, who had been a soldier in and around Belgium in WW I. I hope I will not have to go into for instance excerpting Chs 5 – 7 of Darwin’s Descent of Man in demonstration of his participation in the roots of Social Darwinism, or its consequences in Germany and elsewhere.

    KF

  59. As for “turnspeech accusation” – I agree that it can cause confusion, KF, but it can also expose the flaws in an argument, by showing, for example, that the same argument can lead to the opposite conclusion if different names or terms are substituted.

    It can also expose hypocrisy.

  60. Awesome- keiths proves that unguided evolution cannot explain anything but disease and deficiencies.

  61. EL: Nope. Given some terrible history, resort to turn-speech is something that should be ring fenced, barbed wire topped and posted with the biggest red letter DANGER warning signs we can get. If there is a problem with an argument, and it is not in the logic of the chain of inference it will be on the facts and/or grounding assumptions. If that is so, show that, don’t play the turn speech cheap shot. In the case in view, there is absolutely good reason — cf. 54 supra and onward linked (which also tells you that your requests have been answered, I am in no mood to go through another loop of your let’s go in circles games) — to see that evolutionary materialism does fall under the problems BA highlighted, and the turnabout was simply a cheap shot to cloud the issue. KF

  62. 62
    Barry Arrington

    I paraphrase keiths @52: “Neener, neener neener. Same to ya, but more of it.”

    keiths, if you would like to debate the issue at a higher than second grade playground level, I would be happy to. I will try one more time:

    The universe did not cause itself. It is contingent and depends upon a greater, necessary being for its existence. Do you have an answer to this, or will you continue to just stick your head in the sand and spew playground taunts?

  63. In that case, KF, we do not mean the same by “turnspeech”.

    The main point I was making was that if it is not OK for A to do X to B, then it is also not OK for B to do X to A.

    Or do you disagree?

  64. Barry: I’d be very interested in your response to my post @ 50 to your earlier post (apologies if this cross-post with your response).

    In the meantime, my response to this of yours:

    The universe did not cause itself. It is contingent and depends upon a greater, necessary being for its existence.

    I would agree that the universe (in other words the reality that we know has existed since Big Bang) did not cause itself.

    That does not to me rule out the possibility that non-existence is an unstable state, and that things do “pop into existence” from time to time. We even have some evidence that this is true, and that “existence” is not a straightforward matter. At quantum level, “things” don’t seem to be “things” in the way that macroscopic things are things – with stability as to place and time. As BA77 frequently points out, things get very odd at quantum level.

    So I’d say, somewhat as an echo of Aquinas, that [] is the reason that there is something rather than nothing. I used to call [] “God”. The reason I stopped is that I could see no reason to assume that [], whatever it is, is the God of Love I worshipped.

    And the reason I came to that (always provisional) conclusion is that I could see no good reason to think that minds can exist in the absence of brains.

    So my current position is that life, minds, meaning, purpose even God, certainly Love, and are an emergent property of the universe, not its cause.

    I do not assert it as a truth, however; I merely offer it as a model that seems to me to make better sense of our data than the idea of a Mind as the First Cause.

  65. 65

    EL: “why is there something rather than nothing? I do not think it can be resolved by science. But I could be wrong.”

    No, you are not wrong. Science is the study of the natural world. It presupposes the existence and intelligibility of the natural world. It cannot account for the existence and intelligibility of the natural world.

    EL: “I think we will find that life is not particularly unlikely, given the universe we have.”

    There is no particular reason to believe this other than that it suits your metaphysical predisposition to reject ID. It is no different from saying “life is a brute fact that I can’t explain.”

    EL: “fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of scientific enquiry in general, and of the motivation behind multiverse hypotheses”

    The multiverse is not a scientific hypothesis. It is a metaphysical assertion. The hypothesis that any universe exists (much less multiple universes) other than the one in which we live is not testable (how could it be?) and thus not falsifiable even in principle.

    EL quotes BKA: “The materialist answer to 2: I dunno.” And then writes: “Yes indeed. But then, in as sense, so is the theological one. Even if we give the answer as “God”, that leaves a vast mystery. I dunno what God is.”

    I am glad we agree about both of these assertions: (1) the materialist has no answer to why the universe exists. (2) God may be an answer, but He is a mystery. My point is not that God is an “understandable” answer to why the universe exists. My point is that God is a rational answer to why the universe exists. It is NOT rational to believe the universe is all there is, because that leads to the irrational conclusion that the universe can account for its own existence.

    EL: “I would agree that the universe (in other words the reality that we know has existed since Big Bang) did not cause itself.”

    Why limit the universe to the reality we know since the Big Bang? That leaves the Big Bang unaccounted for, and it is part of the reality we know (at least that is science’s current, provisional, best understanding of the reality we know).

    EL: “That does not to me rule out the possibility that non-existence is an unstable state:

    Absolutely false. Pure nonbeing is the most stable state imaginable.

    EL: “and that things do “pop into existence” from time to time.”

    Things do not pop into existence from a state of pure nonbeing. Here again, the standard equivocation of Hawking and his ilk. The quantum vacuum is not nothing.

    EL: “We even have some evidence that this is true, and that “existence” is not a straightforward matter. At quantum level, “things” don’t seem to be “things” in the way that macroscopic things are things – with stability as to place and time.”

    It is true that “things” are different at the quantum level than at the classical level, but they are still “things.” That you can only describe them as such is all we need to know. Again, the quantum vacuum is not nothing in the sense of pure nonbeing.

    EL: “The reason I stopped is that I could see no reason to assume that [], whatever it is, is the God of Love I worshipped.”

    How immensely sad. I see at least five reasons: (1) the hole in his right hand; (2) the hole in his left hand; (3) the hole in his right foot; (4) the hole in his left foot; and (5) the hole in his side.

    EL: “an emergent property of the universe”

    Ah yes, the emergent property materialist poofery confession of ignorance disguised as an explanation.

    Summary: EL, I am glad that we agree on so much today.

  66. You missed something, jerry

    That’s entirely possible.

    So let me know which part of Carroll’s book I should re-read. If there is anything there, it will be a first time I found something to support naturalistic macro evolution. I am always curious what it is that gives support to those who believe that Darwin’s ideas explain things. There was certainly nothing in anything Dawkins every wrote. And as I said above, Massimo Pigliucci admitted there is nothing either.

    But Dawkins and Pigliucci may not know what you know.

  67. Barry,

    You made a silly argument against materialism, and it backfired on you:

    Barry Arrington:

    The materialist’s answer is wholly irrational, a blind leap of faith: The universe is just a brute fact that cannot be explained.

    keiths:

    The theist’s answer is wholly irrational, a blind leap of faith: God is just a brute fact that cannot be explained.

    It’s a common mistake. X makes an argument against Y’s position without noticing that the argument undermines her own position too. I think of it as the “boomerang fallacy”.

    For example, I often see theists pointing out that consciousness has not been explained under the materialist paradigm. I agree, but I point out that it hasn’t been explained under the theist paradigm, either!

    In both cases above, the theist is simply assuming the existence of an entity with the desired characteristics — God, or an immaterial soul — and calling that an “explanation”.

    By the way, I made the boomerang mistake back when I was a theist. I was Lutheran, and I used to argue religion with a friend who was a Mormon. I would come up with excellent arguments against Mormonism, and then I would notice that they worked just as well against my Lutheranism! It’s one of the things that started me on my road to deconversion.

  68. Barry, thanks for your responses:

    No, you are not wrong. Science is the study of the natural world. It presupposes the existence and intelligibility of the natural world. It cannot account for the existence and intelligibility of the natural world.

    Good, I’m glad we agree on that! I take it then that you would not agree with those who complain that scientists should consider supernatural as well as natural hypotheses?

    I would certainly say, and I take it you agree, that such hypotheses are beyond the methodology of science.
    There is no particular reason to believe this other than that it suits your metaphysical predisposition to reject ID. It is no different from saying “life is a brute fact that I can’t explain.”

    I don’t “believe” it, and have no such “metaphysical disposition”. I’m not sure if you are aware, Barry, but I was a theist for 50 odd years, and a devout one. I even wrote a book about God for children, which sold quite well. I was always (still am) a “seeker”, and would like nothing better but to find that my former faith was reconcilable with my current understanding of the world. I still think of myself as a basically “religious” person, possibly in a Buddhist sense, although I am not a Buddhist.
    My hunch about life is based on two things: that on the whole, things we observe are likely to be a random sample from the totality of things, and so if we observe something once (life) it probably means it is fairly frequent (the counter argument here is of course the argument that if we weren’t here we would be unable to observe life, so it isn’t a random sample! But that is the “anthropic principle” which is normally rejected by IDists!). The other thing is that I am really quite impressed with some of the OoL research that is going on, and I think it looks promising. I will revise my view if progress ceases, but my guess (not belief is that within a few decades, possiby within my lifetime, we will have observed Darwinian-capable self-replicating systems emerging from prebiotic conditions comparable to those thought to have pertained on early earth. But, to repeat, this is a hunch only.

    The multiverse is not a scientific hypothesis. It is a metaphysical assertion. The hypothesis that any universe exists (much less multiple universes) other than the one in which we live is not testable (how could it be?) and thus not falsifiable even in principle.

    Most things in science (in a sense all) are tested indirectly. If mathematical models that include a multiverse make predictions about ours that are supported by data, then that is empirical support for that multiverse model. But without getting too abstruse, it is a direct inference from Big Bang models that the observable universe (of which we are necessarily at the dead centre) is only a tiny fraction of the total universe. So we cannot extrapolate from the conditions that pertain in our section to the conditions that pertain in the rest. If there is only a narrow band of fundamental constants that are life-friendly, then, clearly, any part of the total universe that contains observers must be parts in which those constants fall within that narrow band. But it would be extrapolating beyond the range of our data to assume that those constants pertained beyond the limits of observability. Estimate for the size the total universe are that it is about 10^23 times the size of the observable universe. To assume it all has life-friendly constants would be like assuming that the rest of the world has the same characteristics as the part you can see from your house. Then there are theories about bubble universes and such like. Again, these are theories that make predictions, and so are scientific.

    I am glad we agree about both of these assertions: (1) the materialist has no answer to why the universe exists. (2) God may be an answer, but He is a mystery. My point is not that God is an “understandable” answer to why the universe exists. My point is that God is a rational answer to why the universe exists. It is NOT rational to believe the universe is all there is, because that leads to the irrational conclusion that the universe can account for its own existence.

    Yes, it’s good to agree on something! I don’t think the materialist “dunno” is less rational than the theist’s “mystery”, though, because “the materialist” (well, in this case, me) is not saying that the universe accounts for its own existence, but that the potential for universes is inherent in the impossibility of nothing. But I’m not saying that it is a better answer, just that it is not a worse one. Or, let me put it differently: the placeholder you call “God” or “a mystery”, is, by me, just called “a mystery”. The name matters less than what we can say about what it not. I do not think it is mind, because I reluctantly concluded that it is incoherent (possibly even irrational) to consider a mind independent of a physical organism. However, far from that being a “predisposition”, when it dawned on me, it was the darkest night of my life. Fortunately, when the pieces of my metaphysics reformed, I found I still had as good a God as I’d ever had, just not one that had to bear the load of creating a universe!

    Why limit the universe to the reality we know since the Big Bang? That leaves the Big Bang unaccounted for, and it is part of the reality we know (at least that is science’s current, provisional, best understanding of the reality we know).

    I don’t. But I was referring to everything since Big Bang, including the vast non-observable part. But yes, I think that the universe(s) probably emerge(s) from some greater reality. But I’m no cosmologist. It doesn’t seem to me to be an important metaphysical question. As I’ve said, I don’t think whether or not the reason anything exist is God or not depends on how many universes there are. After all, in my young day, Steady State was still on the cards, and it didn’t dent my theism in the slightest. Even as a young (and devout!) child, I could figure out that if God is eternal, (s)he can obviously create an eternal universe.

    Absolutely false. Pure nonbeing is the most stable state imaginable.

    Well, it may be false. But some evidence suggests it is true.

    Things do not pop into existence from a state of pure nonbeing. Here again, the standard equivocation of Hawking and his ilk. The quantum vacuum is not nothing.

    (These ilks tickle me! It may well be “equivocation” but nothing is extraordinarily difficult to define. So hard not to equivocate. I haven’t yet seen a definition of “nothing” that doesn’t cover a quantum vacuum. But I’m prepared to be persuaded that there is one. tbh, I think language simply fails us when we get down to quantum stuff, and up to space-time. So many things we assume are solid existing things turn out to be pure, if well-defined, probability. If a particle can be merely a probable particle, what is that particle when its probability is low? Is it nothing? And what is space before it expands?

    It is true that “things” are different at the quantum level than at the classical level, but they are still “things.” That you can only describe them as such is all we need to know. Again, the quantum vacuum is not nothing in the sense of pure nonbeing.

    In what sense are they still “things”? In what sense is anything a “thing”? We parse the world into things, which enables us to make sense of it – we try to “carve nature at its joints”. But there are no real “joints” in nature once we look closely enough at it. What we find instead, I suggest, are systems of processes. A “solid thing” is a good model for a system of processes that, when it meets a similar system of processes at speed makes a loud bang. And that parsing system works well right down to particles. But that doesn’t mean that particle-things are like anvil-things. It means that both are systems that can be usefully considered “things”, but can also, depending on what we are interested in, be considered systems of forces and processes. And even, it seems to turns out, of probabilities.

    How immensely sad. I see at least five reasons: (1) the hole in his right hand; (2) the hole in his left hand; (3) the hole in his right foot; (4) the hole in his left foot; and (5) the hole in his side.

    Yes, it was sad, and I was very sad for quite a time. And I still have my crucifixes, and I still find the idea of the incarnation, and of the Trinity, immensely powerful. I just can’t tie it to the cause of the existence. And I’m not sad now. In many ways, I have, as I said, all the things I ever valued in my faith without actually requiring “faith”! Perhaps what I have now is better described as “trust”.

    Ah yes, the emergent property materialist poofery confession of ignorance disguised as an explanation.

    Of course I disagree with your characterisation. I think emergent properties are an extremely valuable way of understanding the world. After all, I am a systems neuroscientist, and I would make no headway unless I understood that systems have properties not possessed by their parts (and vice versa). In that sense I reject the description “reductionist”. I am the opposite – a “whole-ist”. In any case it seems to me that we are all emergentists without knowing it. We see waves crashing on the beach, and say “wow, that was an amazing wave!” But what was it? It was exactly the same water as you’ve been watching for the last half hour, possibly even lapping gently round your ankles. All “things” are emergent systems with properties not possessed by their parts. Yet their parts can be considered “things” too, and in their turn consist parts with still different properties. And so ad infinitum.

    Summary: EL, I am glad that we agree on so much today.

    Me too, Barry! Thanks.

  69. jerry, Carroll’s book is all about epigenetics. That’s why I brought up evo-devo in response to yours @ 23.

  70. KF:

    KS indulges his usual rhetorical tactics, here a classic instance of the twisted about, turnspeech accusation meant to cause confusion.
    But, to pull that trick so beloved of Herr Goebbels and co [he should really think twice about what his stunts tell us . . . ]

    Lizzie:

    I cannot let this go without comment. Do you think this remark about keiths does, or does not, amount to slander?

    If it does, will you delete it?
    If it does not, why not?

    Hypocrisy is a KF specialty.

    For the record, I think KF should be free to write such things. And when he does, we should be free to point out that he is a sanctimonious, hypocritical twit.

    My favorite recent example of KF’s hypocrisy:

    kairosfocus, you are priceless.

    In one comment:

    In fact for some months I have had to deal with a case of hosted invidious comparison of Nazis to myself at TSZ.

    In your very next comment:

    Of course, historically the Nazis began with burning books long before they had concentration camps with gassing rooms disguised as showers and crematoria where bodies were burned. So, the evident comment by BA is that we see the beginnings of that sordid road from 85 years ago on.

    Is there even one single mirror in your house?

  71. Carroll’s book is all about epigenetics. That’s why I brought up evo-devo in response to yours @ 23.

    A couple things.

    I read Carroll’s book several years ago. It just screams design at you. He does not mention the term epigenetics. He talks about switches which I believe are epigenetics or the methylation of various parts of DNA. Nothing in the book says how evolution happened. Just that development is incredibly complex. For example, two quotes from the Carroll book:

    These examples should be thought of as just of a few frames out of the whole movie of an animals development. The entire show involves ten of thousands of switches being thrown in sequence and parallel.

    My guess is that I would need at least one thousand pages to write out the logic of making a fly, and several thousand pages to write out the making of a human.

    I was one of the first people on this site to introduce the concept of epigenetics. I read the Eva Jablonka book over 5 years ago which discusses methylation. Here is a comment I made in April of 2008.

    Methylation affects the expression of a gene but there are other epigenetic processes. Another epigenetic factor is the wrapping of the DNA around the histone or chromatin. Those genes that are wrapped around the chromatin are less likely to be expressed. And I do not know if they know too much about this or if this can be affected by diet, environment etc. Or if it would be affected by age.

    This is new territory for the biology world and what is in the popular literature is next to nil. The Jablonka and Lamb book covers these topics but it can get a little bit complicated. I am sure we will be seeing a lot of studies on this topic.

    Read the whole comment and the one after my Allan MacNeill

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-212614

    So I am well aware of just what the term epigenetics means. So when I read what Meyer said, I knew that this was something brand new and off the charts in terms of meaning for the evolution debate. If Meyer is correct then the whole discussion up till now will be more than a footnote but not much more.

  72. Great, keiths pulls out a link to his oft-refuted essay on how unguided evolution is a better explanation than ID and chokes on it.

    Life is good…

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