Home » Evolution » Common Descent at Uncommon Descent

Common Descent at Uncommon Descent

I have consistently argued that intelligent design neither rules out the common descent of life on Earth (Darwin’s single Tree of Life) nor restricts the implementation of design to common descent, as if that were the only possible geometry for the large-scale relationships of organisms. Thus, with regard to this forum, the truth or falsity of common descent is an open question worthy of informed discussion.

To open up Uncommon Descent in this way reflects not just the ID community’s diversity of views on this topic but also the growing doubts about common descent outside that community. For instance, W. Ford Doolittle rejects a single “Tree of” and argues instead for an intricate network of gene sharing events. Likewise, Carl Woese, a leader in molecular phylogenetics, argues that the data support multiple, independent origins of organisms.

In short, it is not just ID advocates who are suggesting that there is no universal common ancestor.

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

92 Responses to Common Descent at Uncommon Descent

  1. Let’s just back down the tree of life a few branches. What is the consensus on a common ancestor for humans and chimpanzees? The fossil record for chimps is sparse because they inhabit jungle forests which provide little fossilation because of the acidity. However, the savanahs where early hominids thrived were more arid and preserved bones reasonably well. Perhaps a study in geological stratigraphy would identify locations for paleontological research.

  2. Dr. Dembski,
    Thank you for this bit of sanity and clarity.

  3. 1. If those genesharing events occurred, are they still occuring or wasn’t it a long time ago, near the beginning? If so, would that mean that life had a few ancestors, those ancestors mixed themselves up, and from there on out the rest unfolded from the results of that mixing? Wouldn’t that still fit in with the phrase “one or a few common ancestors”?

    2. I note that the saltation theory recently entertained here will appear closer to creationism, while the insistence upon evolution from one or a few ancestors is, of course, more palatable. So that’s one point and one demerit.

    3. What, really, are we talking about if we do not have common descent? I don’t know much about what creationists think of special creation – I had rather always assumed that they allowed God to use the prior animals as his raw material to make up new ones. But if you take a genome and rearrange its chromosomes in one generation in such a way as to go from a reptile to a bird, in what way is that different from special creation, and in what way is it different from Darwinian common descent?

    It seems to me the answer is that it is very similar to special creation, with the difference that it leaves the realm of fantasy and magic, and instead gives us an unfolding of life that is consistent with letting nature run its course, having given it sufficient laws by which to do so. It keeps everything organically connected, which again, seems consistent with what we observe.

    It also seems to me the answer is that it is not much different than Darwinian common descent, except that the steps are deliberate and take place in large chunks, but the end result is the same – new species from the old.

    If we deny common descent then we must have animals created in the air, or in a lab, or by a magic wand, all of which are problematic to me, and seem like a lot of trouble and length to bother with millions of independent miracles when it could be done internally and naturally.

    And it would be downright unnecessary for the creationist to insist that he was not descended from an ape genome, because all the genomes consist of the same four letters. If these letters were rearranged in saltation events, then it is irrelevant what creature’s genome was used to reshuffle.

    Even though ID, strictly speaking, is a design inference and need not name the designer or take a stand on common descent, I think the hypothesies of Davison about possible mechanisms that are real and down-to-earth but require intelligence are just the sort of new concepts needed. Random mutation has gotten sooooo stale.

  4. Since the other thread was deleted, I thought I would repost these useful links to detailed arguments on both sides of the common descent debate:

    Doug Theobald’s “29 Evidences for Macroevolution: The Scientific Case for Common Descent”
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc

    Ashby Camp’s critique of Theobald’s article:
    http://www.trueorigin.org/theobald1a.asp

    Theobald’s response to Camp’s critique:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/camp.html

    Camp replies to Theobald’s response to Camp’s critique of Theobald’s article:
    http://www.trueorigin.org/ca_ac_01.asp

  5. 5
    Artist in training

    I am mostly just a “lurker” but I had to register after the last post was removed. I believe. I am not sure what it was that Dave Scott was talking about there. Are ID and the idea of Common Descent compatible? I was under the impression that they weren’t. Forgive my ignorance, most of what you say goes way over my head. I am mostly just a reader but I am confused. Please don’t waste time answering me if it’s too difficult to explain.

  6. THANK YOU!!!!

  7. Alrighty then, lets do some informed discussing.

    I think you hit all the nails on the head, Avocationist.

    Two major bits of evidence seem incontrovertable:

    1) Every living thing ever observed, where its origin can be determined, descended from another living thing. This has been observed I’m sure billions of times by now by billions of people. Life comes from life. I know of no exception to that rule. In science, when we find phenomenon that are widely observed countless times with never an exception, it’s labeled not a hypothesis or theory, but a law of nature. Life comes from life is a law of nature. It is as well tested as gravity.

    While we cannot turn back time and witness things millions and billions of years ago, it takes some kind of extraordinary evidence to reasonably purport a law of nature operating differently in the past. This applies to the law of gravity, which predicts that things fall down instead of up, and to the law of life, which predicts that every living thing has a parent.

    2) The genetic code. It was pointed out to me that Dr. Stephen Meyer had questioned whether the universal genetic code, which has been known for some time to be not quite unviversal, suggests multiple instances of the origination of life. Over a year I looked at this very thing myself. Since there’s no empirical evidence at all contrary to the law of nature that life comes from life, one has to look for indirect evidence of exceptions. The obvious place to start is the universal genetic code. So I went to the code depository

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Ta.....e=t%23SG12

    and checked out the deviations from the standard code. Glaringly obvious is that the differences are very small – one base here, another there. While this begs the difficult question of how these differences arose in a common descent scenario, what it does not do is cast any reasonable doubt on common descent. Why? Because the points of similarity overwhelm the points of difference. If one wants to say there were independent origins due to the small differences one also needs to explain the remaining similarity.

    Carl Woese’s theory

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/99/13/8742

    proposes that instead of one universal common ancestor there were three – bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes – which came to have a high degree of simililarity today through horizontal gene transfer. Three common ancestors billions of years ago isn’t much dissent from descent from one ancestor. Moreover, eukaryotes include every member of the plant and animal kingdoms which, accoreding to Woese, would still have a single common ancestor. For the purposes of this discussion, a single common ancestor for all plants, all animals, all fungi, and all protists is essentially still common descent. None of us are really concerned about bacteria having an ancestor different from fig trees and humans are we? Fig trees and humans still have the same common ancestor in Woese’s theory.

    Russel Doolittle is saying basically the same thing as Woese.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.....ary_theory

    At the end of the day we still the law of nature that life comes from life, an overwhelming number of points of similarity in the genetic code, and the best scientific objections to a single common ancestor (Woese and Doolittle) still saying that all plants, animals, fungi, and protists share a single common ancestor.

    What am I missing here? Where is the scientific evidence to refute common descent?

  8. There is absolutely no evidence to refute common descent, just as certain as there is absolutely no evidence to support the most failed hypothesis in the history of science, Darwinian evolution.

    We still do not know how many times, where, when or especially how life was created and subsequently evolved. How can anyone, armed with all that wonderful information, refute anything? We have yet to scratch the surface of the secrets of ontogeny and phylogeny. Refutation is for philosophers and logicians. Demonstration is for scientists.

  9. The fact that there are gaps in the fossil record still does not refute common descent. For various other fossils the common ancestor is very obvious. There is no evidence so far that could even nearly refute common descent. Even before genetics gave us huge amounts of evidence, the fossils appear clear about the facts.

    Was there one single common ancestor, or did all life as we know it evolve from three? Does it matter? It still does not cast any doubt on common descent.

    Determining the mechanism that drives Evolution is interesting. What makes organisms change from one generation to another? Has anything been observed that could account for these changes, from one generation to another?

  10. To the Peanut Gallery at “After The Bar Closes”

    I know you clowns are reading this and just wanted to let you know that I deleted my own article at no one’s urging, I’m still moderating the joint like before, and we’re all still friends here united against bozos clinging to the discredited Darwinian dogma of natural selection.

    So there.

  11. Artist

    ID and common descent are imminently compatible.

    They must be since both are true. :-)

  12. I agree. Let’s then at least put a question mark after the title of this forum. Just a thought so don’t go ballistic.

  13. Determining the mechanism that drives Evolution is interesting. What makes organisms change from one generation to another? Has anything been observed that could account for these changes, from one generation to another?

  14. “Determining the mechanism that drives Evolution is interesting. What makes organisms change from one generation to another? Has anything been observed that could account for these changes, from one generation to another?”

    Apart from RMNS, I don’t know of anything that’s been actually observed. One alternative possibility I’ve seen mentioned is Endogenous Adaptive Mutagenesis, which claims that changes to one’s genome are made deliberately by organisms in response to adverse conditions (self-applied ID). Haven’t seen a detailed description of the mechanism by which this would occur. I recall that it turned out to be fairly hard to devise an experiment to test this idea that would satisfy all parties.

  15. I agree with DaveScot on this important point: we have never seen new organisms come into being except for some kind of birth from an existing being. Therefore, irrespective of whether suspects this process has been intelligently guided or not, common descent seems to be the default position.

    (Aside: all the talk about lateral gene transfer and Woesian thoughts about a pool of original common ancestors, the real issue is about common descent at higher levels, from those who doubt speciation entirely to those who think the various “kinds”, or phyla, or whatever are not related by common descent.

    However, here in Kansas virtually all the various players supporting ID *deny* common descent. This is an issue that bears discussing, I think, and I thank DaveScot for so clearly bringing it up.

  16. In light of my above post #3, what I’d like is to hear from anyone who does not accept common descent. I want to know what our options are. It seems the early gene sharing is going down smoothly. No one is choking.

    If you asked me last week whether I believed common descent, I might have said no. That is because I was thinking of it in the Darawinist sense. According to Darawin, saltation is unacceptable. But now I am seeing how the point that life comes from life is very important, and it is one of the main differnces in the thinking of Darwinists versus those on the other side. We must be extremely reluctant to abandon it as we seek explanations.

    There is a fundamental difference in the view of life between the materialist and the nonmaterialist. For the materialist, life isn’t really existent, but is a just what happens when enough of the right chemicals get together, not too different than your car when you turn your key in the ignition.

    And this is what the whole debate is really about: Are we alive? For if there is no God, then we are not truly alive.

    So what I am clumsily getting at here is that we need some clear thinking on what common descent means or does not mean, and if we talk of special creation or some sort of ID scenario which does not include common descent, then we need a brass tacks idea of what we’re talking about.

    Here’s a question: if we are in the ID camp and do not need to subscribe to special creation, then what is left for us if we doubt both common descent and special creation? Or what do we mean by special creation – is it a matter of speed?

  17. Being in the ID camp means accepting the possibility of design in biology and scientifically identifying such cases.
    I think it means studying and discussing evidence to arrive at conclusions and not necessarily accepting the constraints of a dogma imposed by the entrenched hierarchy, an established religion, or others in the ID camp.

  18. “Here’s a question: if we are in the ID camp and do not need to subscribe to special creation, then what is left for us if we doubt both common descent and special creation?”

    Here’s an idea — perhaps leaving special creation as an open question. Surely many have made their minds up on it one way or another (I am definitely for it). But what is the harm in leaving it an open question? What physical evidence is there that the cambrian creatures had ancestors who were unlike themselves? For that matter, what physical evidence is there that turtles or bats had ancestors who were unlike themselves? If there is no evidence for them having descended from a common ancestor as something else, why suppose it? If there was an intelligent agency that acted at the origin of life, why must one assume that this agent stopped and never did so again?

    If scientists create life in the lab, we will certainly at that point have another root to the phyletic tree. And if they made multiple creatures, then there would be many roots to the phyletic tree. So why is it that we, as small intelligent agents, are not restricted to the number of phyletic roots we can create, but yet the intelligent agent which created life is so restricted?

  19. Common descent can be defined as evolution.

    Welcome to the club, what took you guys so long?

  20. yes, johnnyb, i agree. this is a good point – “What physical evidence is there that the cambrian creatures had ancestors who were unlike themselves? For that matter, what physical evidence is there that turtles or bats had ancestors who were unlike themselves?”
    So, how about if we have a wunderkind extra-terrestrial engineer type with a penchant for creativity. Now, suppose he thinks it would be cool to build a bunch of living things. So, his strategy is to first make a bunch of fundamental building blocks, kind of like the erector set I had as a kid, only these are at the molecular level. Now, he has this big old box of building blocks and clears off a nice place to start his first project which is a machine that has mobility, a self-repair mechanism, and the ability to reproduce itself. He gets the thing all set up and turns it on, watches it run for awhile, generating copies of itself, claps his hands together and says “Whee, that was fun. I think I’ll do it again, but this time I’m gonna make it orange with green spots and can fly.” So he takes his box of blocks and finds a new spot and sets to work. (repeat)
    So now we come along a gazillion years after the fact and say, “Hmmm, these things all have the same fundamental parts therefore the must all have started as a universal common ancestor.”
    I don’t believe there is enough evidence to warrant this conclusion, especially as the only acceptable one.

  21. I just don’t see any sensible alternatives to accepting common descent as part of ID.

    Common design, while superficialy attractive, just doesn’t survive proper scientific scrutiny.

    Special creation events, while still a possibility, are just not supported by any evidence. Same goes for saltation.

    What else is there?

    I’m not telling anyone what to believe -only what is scientifically plausible.

  22. Well put, johnnyb (and thanks again for the debate CD!!!).

    Add chimps to your list of animals which appear without antecedants. As I’ve said before, the fossil record is very harmonious with either a Special Creation position or the Saltation/Quantum Level Programming view posited by Prof. Davison and others. What the record does NOT demonstrate is Darwinian gradualism.

  23. Common descent is all about fitting the data to the model of naturalism. Once you have reason to discard the model, you don’t need to hold on its constraints anymore.

  24. JohnnyB,

    “Here’s an idea — perhaps leaving special creation as an open question.”

    [If there is an edit feature on this blog, I haven't found it. Hence the quotes.]
    I do leave special creation as an open question. Where I’m going with this is a synthesis, a combining, of ideas on special creation with some form of evolution which unfolds naturally. I think the idea of frontloading and/or the discovery of laws governing the emergence of new life forms nicely combines them – definitely designed, perhaps in a quite refined way, and yet nonmagical. Although Davison says the external environment had nothing to do with it, I see no reason why environmental conditions could not have sometimes provided the trigger for chromosomal rearrangement events.

    But from my own point of view, this discussion is a bit off the mark. There is no other option than special creation, because this entire universe is a manfestation of God and there are no other possibilities. So it isn’t a question of whether this universe was designed, but simply how it was/is done.

    I do not believe that God at any time goes against the laws of nature. The very idea is absurd. That is what I mean by magic. Not that special creation goes against the laws of nature. But I don’t see God getting much satisfaction from playing wizard, and I do see satisfaction in leaving an unfolding universe full of possibilities for discovery, with clues everywhere.

    “But what is the harm in leaving it an open question?”

    The way I approach it is to have a deep and profound meditation upon the question: What is the core attribute of God? I say it is existence/life. Therefore I handle questions about the origin of life and how it works with great thought and care.

    “What physical evidence is there that the cambrian creatures had ancestors who were unlike themselves? For that matter, what physical evidence is there that turtles or bats had ancestors who were unlike themselves?”

    Good question. It would be mostly logical I think. We observe how life works, and we try to imagine God manufacturing absurdly delicate life forms, millions upon millions of times, each time having to keep them alive in his intensive care unit, and releasing them without parents even though many of them cannot live without parental assistance, and even though he would need to make a bunch of them so a few would make it to adulthood, when he could do it so much more locially by using nature, which to all appearances God loves the workings of very much and enjoys working through it. One of the old church fathers said, “Nature is what God does.” I see no reason why God would be in some kind of a hurry, and everything we see indicates the setting up of a highly interactive bunch of systems that are self sustaining. (Now, I do not really mean that, God is the sustainer of all things, all the time, always has been, always will be.)

    “If there was an intelligent agency that acted at the origin of life, why must one assume that this agent stopped and never did so again?”

    See above. I don’t ascribe to a remote and separate God. God is all things, fills all things and is the life in all things. Even if God frontloaded and programmed every detail at the big bang.

    Jacktone,
    “So, how about if we have a wunderkind extra-terrestrial engineer type with a penchant for creativity.”

    Well, if you’re serious about the extraterrestrial, and I see no reason why this didn’t happen, but where did the ET come from? Do you really mean God? Now, this extraterrestrial, why did he go to the immense trouble to build each kind from scratch when they could simply rearrange chromosomes in an existing life form, and if they did do so from scratch, how did they keep it alive during the process of assembly? Have you read some ID stuff about the difficulties in origin of life research? Do you have any idea how immensely problematic it is to make a living cell? Is this not a key reason that life comes from life?
    Again, if God is the true source of life, then life is fundamentally different from not-life and one of those properties appears to be continuity. Back before there were matches, people took great care to keep their fires going, because making a fire from scratch is hard.

    Boesman,

    “Special creation events, while still a possibility, are just not supported by any evidence. Same goes for saltation.”

    I disagree. The evidence points to the need for something very special to start life in the first place, and the evidence also points to saltation, if only because it points so determinedly away from gradualism. So either we have saltation or we have the God-of-the-lab. Are there other possibilities?

    And I want to know where his lab is. Does he bring stuff in a spaceship? Cryogenics might work. Does he set it up on the ground and carry stuff out? Then he would need to move the lab to different continents, I think. So he might have had one of those big, military helicopters to fly his mobile lab around. But I still can’t figure out how God could do those things when God is infinite and doesn’t have a body. If he has a body, he is quite limited, indeed.

    It is obvious from recent science that our world up here where we live is built upon structures, both biological and atomic, that are of such immensely small size and so large in number (billions of atoms in one cell) that a creative force would have to have access to those extremely small realms. That’s where the nuts and bolts are. Therefore I think the creative power must have acted from within and not from without, and the power of mind would be the main tool.

  25. “Common descent is all about fitting the data to the model of naturalism.”

    Welcome to Creationist Conspiracy Theory 101.

    “Once you have reason to discard the model, you don’t need to hold on its constraints anymore.”

    In other words, you want to introduce the supernatural into science.

    This type of advocating isn’t doing the movement any good.

  26. 26
    Artist in training

    Ok. I see we are talking about real science here. I am not a real scientist (but I play one when no one is home :) so I don’t have a lot to offer but I do have a few questions:

    I remember someone mentioning “Punctual Equilibrium” or something like it. Is that like a guiding force to common descent?

    If common descent is compatible with ID but evolution through natural selection (did I get that right?) is not, then is there an alternative theory for how descent happened?

    Do we share a common ancestor with chimps?

    Does this theory still allow for God creating humans, leading to the fall and thus Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross?

    I know that you are not about religion and I don’t want a religious answer exactly, but you folks seem like you are at least honest about your science and I am trying to reconcile my beliefs with what evidence seems to suggest.

    Are there some specific articles that I can read that might help a person with no science background to understand what this controversy is really about?

    And finally, what is “After the bar closes”?

    I appologize for taking up space that you use to actually discuss these things that I don’t understand. I went to the discovery institute site and I couldn’t find anything in plain english about what the study of intelligent design really is. I couldn’t understand all the science stuff. Thank you again for offering to help. My Granddaughter has been asking me a lot of questions like these lately and I don’t really have any good answers.

  27. Hello Boesman,

    I agree that P(common descent | no design) is rather high.
    But P(no design) is rather low.
    P(common descent | design) is also low in my opinion.

    => P (common descent) is rather low

  28. Anteater,

    “Common descent is all about fitting the data to the model of naturalism. Once you have reason to discard the model, you don’t need to hold on its constraints anymore.”

    But wait. Let’s see the difference between ‘naturalism’ and natural. Naturalism is the metaphysical philosophy driving current science which says that matter is all there is, and even if it might not be, you should be ashamed for actually taking that possibility seriously in any way, but especially in science.

    There are other reasons for common descent. The unity and coherence of nature. The unity of God and the universe. That life comes from life. Here is an interesting observation. Both the atheists and the so-called religious people ascribe to the possibility that there is some great divide between nature and God. That God would act ‘supernaturally’ leaving no clues or trail for us to follow. That God would set up nature with great care and forethought, yet need to cheat against it to bring about his ends.

    The myth causing the confusion is that of a remote and separate God. Everything comes from God and so God includes the sum total of all that exists. There is no possibility for one particle in this universe to be separate from God.

    Get used to it. Reality is intense. The only escape is unawareness.

  29. “That life comes from life”

    I could not agree more. It is virtually impossible for life to come from non-life (‘abiogenesis’). So, where did the first life come from?

  30. Hey Anteater,

    As per Boesman’s remark, just remember that the discussion here about CD is not about faith but about whether the evidence points to common descent. According to Scott/Davison it does. I myself do not hold enough facts in my head (my brain is pretty much a seive) to state a strong opinion on that, I rather come at it from the points of view I already mentioned, that it makes the most sense. And really, I can’t emphasize enough that the common descent which includes sudden appearance of markedly modified life forms is not the gradualist one.

    Artist,

    Punctuated equilibrium came from Gould, one of the several paleontologists or other evolutinists that publicly talked about the holes in Darwinian theory without being able to discard it. He fully believed in an atheistic, unplanned and unguided universe. But he tried to find a way to account for sudden appearance and lack of transitional species.

    Yeah, you got it right. ID is compatible with various forms of evolution, but not with an unguided process with random mutations as the sole creative force (yeah, yeah, I know natural selection makes it unrandom but it acts after the fact).

    Since ID, strictly speaking, is a design inference, i.e., it posits the need for an intelligence to account for at least some of the systems we see in nature, it is not a full-fledged theory of life. I guess we are working on it now!

    Lots of ID people are Christian so sure, you can have your Jesus and your ID, too. I do not ascribe to any religion. For me, God is everything, is the cause of everything and designed everything, but I don’t believe in miracles. I have no problem with the miracles of the Bible, except perhaps the virgin birth which I think is silly, but I just don’t think anything miraculous ever occurs. Rather, I think that God and sometimes people have access to subquantum events (reality before it is jelled up here where we can see it) and can manipulate events. We humans are constantly bringing about things which nature, unaided, could never do.

    I hope that doesn’t take too much of the magic out, but really, if eternity, infinity, immortality and this universe aren’t enough for you, well I just can’t help you. : )

    My advice, don’t worry about the chimps. You’re not a chimp. I promise. How come it’s alright to be made from dust, but not from a chimp? Anyway, it is the SAME thing! If “dust thou art and to dust thou wilt return” then it means the body turns to dust. And this is true. Our bodies are made from food, which is plants or the animals which eat them, and at death our bodies go back to the soil. But then, plants all come from the sun, so we are all really made of light. Ain’t that cool? And isn’t God “the Father of Lights”? (James) See how it all ties up?

    So let’s cut God some slack and let him rearrange the chimp genome if its expedient to do so. It’s just a bunch of instructions made of a 4-letter alphabet.

  31. avocationist wrote:
    “In light of my above post #3, what I’d like is to hear from anyone who does not accept common descent. I want to know what our options are.”

    I accept the evidence for “common descent” below the species level (micro-level).
    I oppose suggestions that “uncommon descent” is ruled out above the species level (macro-level). Here are four reasons I have (I have more):

    - “Common descent” from one species to another has never been observed. No one is suggesting that it has been observed. Therefore “common descent” has not been proven. (Unlike gravity, for example.) Being the so-called “best” explanation is not proof.

    - The hypothesis of common descent from one species to another is an extrapolation of observations at the micro level. Extrapolation can be problematic: for example, “The earth I see is flat, therefore the earth I don’t see is flat,” is now known to have been a huge historical error. Are we repeating that error? I don’t know!

    - Every genome of every species is unique; The DNA transcription mechanism seems to allow a lot of variation within the genome but appears to rigorously resist changes to the genome.

    - Observations of random mutations in the present day indicate that mutations occur infrequently. Inheritence less frequently. Survival advantage even less frequently. Are we seeing 1 random beneficial inherited mutation per second on earth? 1 per day? 1 per year?

    The calculations have not been done of the number of inheritable beneficial mutations that are required to account for hundreds of millions of mutations for hundreds of million of species. Is 4 billion years is enough time for the rate of mutation we see in the present day to account for the species we see in the present day by common descent? We don’t know! Yes, of course, if the mutations were occuring geometrically, but we don’t see a geometric rate happening either. A fly in the amber from 100 million years ago looks exactly like a fly in the amber today.

    Please notice what I am saying: I am not saying “common descent” didn’t happen and “uncommon descent” did happen. I am saying NEITHER has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt and I am entitled to have my opinion without browbeating ridicule. An ID stands strong as a theory either way.

    People on this forum have made statements suggesting I am their “enemy” as Dr. Davison did or that my ideas about uncommon descent are “laughable” as my good and respected friend DaveScot did. When they do, forgive me, I get a bit testy.

    I love you all.

  32. Anteater,

    “I could not agree more. It is virtually impossible for life to come from non-life (’abiogenesis’). So, where did the first life come from?”

    Gee, Im full of… answers, but not this one. Could you give me a week? :)

    As Joe G says over at Telic Thoughts, a living cell is the ultimate IC system.

  33. Avocationist,

    Indefinite extension granted!

    Anybody else willing to tackle that question?

  34. Anteater/Avocationist:

    “It is virtually impossible for life to come from non-life (’abiogenesis’). So, where did the first life come from?”

    What is ID’s answer to this question? Even if there is an intelligent deisgner, wouldn’t the designer have to be alive to exhibit/use its intelligence, starting the question all over again?

  35. Good point dazza, about “how to stop the infinite regress?” Evolutionists face this problem too.

    I’ll give you my opinion in a while, after I hear some responses to #29.

  36. 36
    Artist in training

    Thank you avocationist,

    I guess I don’t really need the bible to be literal except that without adam and eve and original sin, why would jesus die on the cross? Never mind, that comment has no place here. I looked up gould on amazon and I will read a book that he wrote. I “looked inside the book” and he seems like a good writer so I will give it a shot.

    I guess I was looking for something else. Ok, we decended from chimps or some common ancestor. I suppose my version of christianity is old-fashioned and I should allow new information to enhance my understanding of god rather than challenge it. If my church is preaching things that have been discredited somehow then I guess it is up to me to learn what the things are and to find ways to grow with new knowledge. Heaven knows that our understanding of the universe is incomplete. The holy spirit is a real part of my life and I don’t want to change my understanding of it but, as my granddaughter would say, “You don’t have to be right to be valuable”.

    I still wonder what “After the bar closes” is.

    I think it is time for me to open my mind and try to do a little growing in my retirement. THank you for the honest discussion of what the evidence seems to point to. I do trust you guys because you seem to respect the spiritual side of our nature while still looking objectively at what can be learned through science.

  37. Hello Red Reader,

    I’m sorry if others have misbehaved. I take full responsibility. Where are they, anyway? I’m defending their position for them!

    I’m definitely interested in all your ideas against common descent.
    1. It has not been observed. True enough. Davison says there has not even been a new genus in what, 2 million? Anyway, the lab is turning up interesting things at a rapid pace. For example, bacteria are capable of turning on mutations in the presence of stressors, and turning them on at specific loci, and turning them off again. Ultimately, if the DNA is capable of recombining to the point of making a new species or genera, I think we will discover it.

    2. Extrapoloation. Maybe. But is is an extrapolation “from the micro level” or is it an extrapolation from how life seems to work on all levels?

    3. This may be the strongest argument. I myself predicted here a couple of months ago that as our knowledge increases in the near future we shall find out exactly why a species cannot mutate into another. And that could be the coffin nail for neoDarwinism. On the other hand, species themselves may be the end of the line as far as programming goes, and therefore cannot be expected to have the capacity to further evolve (other than micro changes). The whole frontloading or intelligent interference idea so far as Davison proposes (and I think others he knows about) has to do with early and simple life forms carrying more information in them, information which is supressed until such time as it is needed, and carrying primitive prototypes of more complex organs to be modified for later use in upcoming species, and that nonsexual reproduction has certain freedoms that sexual reproduction does not. But really, I’m not qualified to answer this. We need help.

    4. Nobody in ID is interested in the efficacy of random mutations. Random mutatations went out of fashion. Sometime during the Nixon era.

  38. “What is ID’s answer to this question? Even if there is an intelligent deisgner, wouldn’t the designer have to be alive to exhibit/use its intelligence, starting the question all over again?”

    The designer is God, or if the designer is an alien or angel or demigod then we can ignore them and get to the bottom of the line which is God. Obviously, existence itself contains a Great Mystery. How is it possible for anything to exist at all? If we say matter is ever-existing we are ascribing to it the property of self-existence. Obviously the overwhelming, stupendous fact of God is that God exists. I too, find it incomprehensible, yet here we are. And that is why God is the source of life. And why life comes from life.

  39. “It is virtually impossible for life to come from non-life (’abiogenesis’). So, where did the first life come from?”

    We don’t know. We may not know in our lifetimes. Yet abiogenesis research continues on increasingly viable origin-of-life hypotheses.

    Do have an answer to your own question? Remember: if it invokes the supernatural, then it’s not science.

  40. avocationist writes:
    “Davison says there has not even been a new genus in what, 2 million?”
    - to me that is a gigantic flashing neon billboard blinking “Uncommon Descent”.

    “For example, bacteria are capable of turning on mutations in the presence of stressors”
    - is primary evidence of ID: “the more complicated the system, the greater the design inference”: is moreover an example of a more specialized form of programming–”artificial intelligence programming” the probabilities of which suggest MORE design inference.

    “Extrapolation”
    - it is extrapolation from the observed to the unobserved. WITHIN levels (genomes) we KNOW the mechanism. That we haven’t observed a mechanism for slow or sudden change FROM one genome INTO another, doesn’t prove there isn’t a mechanism. But if we haven’t discovered it, there is always the possibility that there isn’t one.

    “The whole frontloading or intelligent interference idea so far as Davison proposes….”
    - I’ve said it’s an interesting theory. Because of it, Dr. Davison is not afraid to express REAL observations that are useful to the whole debate: a) no new genus in 2 million years, b) species appear to be at the end of the line as far as programming goes. NDE kind of try to discount those observations. But Dr. Davison’s PEH, if true, has even less chance of being observed even than NDE-RMNS; in fact it appears to require for viability the fact that it’s all done with.

    Thanks avocationist.

  41. Artist In Training:

    “I remember someone mentioning “Punctual Equilibrium” or something like it. Is that like a guiding force to common descent?”

    No. Punctuated Equilibrium is the observation from the fossil record that speciation occurs quite quickly, with long periods of stasis in between.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.....quilibrium

    It is not relevant to a discussion of common descent.

    “If common descent is compatible with ID but evolution through natural selection (did I get that right?) is not, then is there an alternative theory for how descent happened?”

    Common descent is compatible with modern evolutionary theory. Note that selection is not the only mechanism of evolution. Random genetic drift is another important mechanism.

    “Do we share a common ancestor with chimps?”

    The overwhelming weight of evidence says yes. You have no doubt heard of the great similarity between human and chimp DNA. What is, for me, the most compelling evidence of all is the recent discovery that humans and chimps share many endogenous retroviral insertions in their DNA. Put simply, this means that retroviruses often insert into an animal’s DNA, and frequently become inactive. The retroviral DNA stays in the genome and is inherited. If two species share this retroviral DNA, btu a third does not, this implies that the two species sharing the DNA are more closely related to each other than to the third species.

    Here’s an analogy. Let’s say generations of monks were copying out the Bible, and passing copies on to younger monks. Let’s say you travelled round Europe and found a small area in Scotland where all the bibles began with the words “In the beginning Dog created the heaven and the earth”. It is much more likely that the mistake in all the Bibles in that region was inherited from a careless copyist in the area, rather than each monk making the same mistake independently.

    The fact that chimps and humans share these retroviral insertions suggests they derived from a common ancestor. The fact that they have more of these retroviral insertions in common with each other than, say, between humans and gorillas, or humans and marmosets, or humans and donkeys, suggests that humans and chimps are most closely related.

    It is of course possible that a Designer decided to stick these bits of DNA in our genomes to fool us. But once you start inviting such possibilities, pretty much anything is possible.

    -DaveWatt

  42. Hi Artist,

    “I guess I don’t really need the bible to be literal except that without adam and eve and original sin, why would jesus die on the cross? Never mind, that comment has no place here.”

    I have so much to say on this topic that I am planning to write a book and to also have a website to support discussion. Let me just say that whether Adam and Eve were literal or not doesn’t matter. We humans are in trouble. Really, if you want to talk about it, I’m willing but not here. Jesus did a lot more than die on the cross. Jesus was the living example of how to live in the kingdom of heaven and he taught by example. He said to forgive and love your enemies and he forgave and prayed for those nailing his hands. Everyone focuses on some legalistic, pharasaic idea that God required payment and they miss this amazing lesson, which alone gives meaning to the cross. Jesus died to show us how to be the living truth, and to show us that love is the reconciliation.

    Red Reader,

    I have to apologize. I said ID folks aren’t interested in random mutation, but I forgot that actually many of them do consider it important.

    Boesman,

    “Remember: if it invokes the supernatural, then it’s not science.”

    Baloney. We need not think of God as supernatural. I hardly relate to that funny word. It sounds like magic. Which is childish. How can you limit science that way? If there is a God, then what should science do? Stop studying the universe? Ask only certain questions but not others? Allow certain answers but not others? Science studies nature. What if that old church father was right, “Nature is what God does”?

    Boesman, if there is a God, then the only way to hide is by lack of awareness. And there is nothing wrong with that, but studying nature would be the last career I’d recommend.

    If the Holy Spirit is a real part of your life, then you can hardly do better. Hold onto that.

    After the Bar Closes is a forum, I think, full of Darwinist fundamentalists. I haven’t been there but you could type it into your browser if you’re feeling masochistic.

  43. Oops, part of Artist’s replies got out of order and are at the bottom.

  44. I’ve always assumed that the primary meaning of this blog’s name is that for someone of Dr. Dembski’s intellectual caliber to administer a blog is indeed an uncommon descent. (I wholeheartedly agree, and am not in the least surprised that he has delegated the admin responsibilities to others.) But, even so, he obviously wouldn’t have given it the name if he thought that non-common descent in biology is theoretically incompatible with ID.

    Personally, I think that common descent is the best inference from the reported data, just as intelligent design is the best inference from CSI and IC. Also, what I would call a “discrete developmental” model seems consistent with the jumps in the fossil record. To me, special creation seems to be a presumption that was based on ignorance. Given the paleontological and genomic data (which I have not explored first-hand), special creation implies a purposeful and physically unnecessary illusory aspect of creation: the appearance that life is the result of an evolutionary or developmental process. A fair explanation for this would be the creator’s wish to allow humans the freedom to disbelieve in him, by convincing one’s self that Darwinian evolution is feasible. Special creation would also violate “DaveScot’s law of nature” that every individual has (a) biological parent(s); The question is whether a similar “law of nature” holds for species. With developmental, or evolutionary, models of ID, the illusory aspect is eliminated, and the law of biological parentage is not violated.

    Dr. William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design (1999), p. 171: “Given an instance of CSI, [there are] two possibilities: either ther CSI was always present or it was inserted. Intelligent design theorists differ about which of these two possibilities obtains for the universe taken as a whole. On the one hand are those like Michael Denton and, to a lesser extent, Michael Behe, who see all the CSI of the universe present at the start. On the other hand are those like Stephen Meyer, Paul Nelson, and myself who see CSI emerging in discrete steps, with no evident informational precursors, and thus through discrete insertions over time. This debate is not new — German teleomechanists and British natural theologians engaged in much the same debate, with the Germans arguing that teleology was intrinsic to the world, the British arguing that it was extrinsic. However this debate gets resolved, CSI is an empirically detectable entity that transcends [undirected] natural causes.”

    Ecclesiastes: “What was, will be again, what has been done, will be done again, and there is nothing new under the sun.”

  45. “Do have an answer to your own question?”

    The first life was designed; that’s a valid (and entirely rational) inference from the info we have now.

    If the first life was designed, it is not unreasonable to think that the other life was designed, and not the product of naturalistic common descent. Rejecting common descent altogether is *no more metaphysical* than suggesting that the first life was designed.

    What we have to do is see where the data leads. Remember that this concept of common descent was developed to fit into the naturalistic model of unguided, unintellgent evolution. As I said before, if the model crumbles, why be encumbered by its constraints?

    Some evidence for common descent:
    1) Fossil record — too fuzzy to convince me.
    2) Genomic data — a little more down-to-earth. I need to study this more myself, but it seems like overreaching conclusions are being made from the data (due to the prior belief in common descent).

  46. To deny common descent is to deny evolution. That is unthinkable, unforgivable unacceptable and inconceivable in no particular order.

  47. Asking what evidence is there that Cambrian animals had parents is like asking what evidence is there that the sun rose in the east back in the Cambrian. The salient question is what evidence is there that Cambrian animals DID NOT have parents or what evidence is there that sun did not rise in the east. In every case where we’ve observed a modern animal and can determine its origin it came from an animal very much like it. In every case where we’ve observed the sun rise it was in the east. When an observation has been repeated billions of times by billions of people without any deviation it is a law of nature. It’s beyond hypothesis and beyond mere theory. The sun rises in the east. Animals have parents.

    While it *may* be true that animals don’t always have parents and it *may* be true that the sun doesn’t always rise in the east, it takes extraordinary evidence, not mere logical possibility, that the law of nature we know today was not a law of nature in the past.

  48. avocationist,

    ““Remember: if it invokes the supernatural, then it’s not science.”

    Baloney. We need not think of God as supernatural. I hardly relate to that funny word. It sounds like magic. Which is childish. How can you limit science that way? If there is a God, then what should science do? Stop studying the universe? Ask only certain questions but not others? Allow certain answers but not others? Science studies nature. What if that old church father was right, “Nature is what God does”?”

    So is God supernatural or not? Can his existence be tested and falsified? Remember that I didn’t mention God at all originally. You seem to think that science should include God just to make you feel better. This approach was tried for thousands of years. Success rate for God in science: 0% (zero). Supernatural explanations do not work in science and only hamper further discovery. This is exactly why ID had to distance itself from supernatural explanations in Dover.

    “Boesman, if there is a God, then the only way to hide is by lack of awareness. And there is nothing wrong with that, but studying nature would be the last career I’d recommend.”

    The last thing ID needs is people dictating their faith as science. You need to learn to separate the two before you can ever truly understand either.

  49. The main competitor of the front loading type scenarios (such as Mike Gene’s FLE or John Davison’s PEH) is special creation. Though it’s personally hard for me to offer criticisms of my colleague’s very carefully thought out ideas, I must offer an important consideration from Claude Shannon’s work which would favor special creation.

    There are physical limits to information storage ( your disk can only hold so much). It may be that there is simply too much information to pack into a single specie or several species from which all others descend. Therefore evolution paralleling ontogeny might not be feasible.

    On the other hand, there is always the chance that molecules are able to store more information in ways we don’t currently understand (like say a biological quantum computer), but well it’s not been found.

    One thing is for sure, imho, Darwinian mechanism had little to do with creating large scale biological innovation. We IDists can mostly agree on that.

  50. scordova

    I asked myself that very same question a year ago – how much information can be practically packed into a genome. The answer is at least enough to prescribe all living and extinct phyla.

    There are genomes in nature today up to 200 times the size of the human genome and it’s an amoeba with the largest. Frogs, water lillies, and conifers are other examples with genomes dozens of times larger than human. And we’ve only sampled a small number (a few thousand) different species leaving millions of other species which may contain even larger genomes. And that’s just extant organisms which only represent 1% of all that ever lived.

    A genome 200 times the size of a human’s should be more than adequate to define 200 original ancestors of 200 different phyla, right?

    When I brought this up a year ago the objection was raised that nature can’t preserve unexpressed genes long enough because random mutation eventually obliterates unexpressed genes. To this I said “Poppycock!”. Error detection algorithms of sufficient reliability are used in computers to copy critical data. No algorithm a human engineer can design should be denied to nature. Nature anticipates and bests human engineers all the time.

    So there we are.

  51. avocationist:

    “And that is why God is the source of life. And why life comes from life.”

    That doesn’t really answer the question, though. Either God is alive and hence life comes from His life which means that His life must have come from somewhere (which again begs the question) or He is not alive and hence life has come from non-life.

    The idea of abiogenesis is that life can rise from non-life since life is basically an electrochemical construct. It would seem to me that ID’s interpretation of the beginnings of life must rely on life coming from non-life (just as evolutionary theory does). With ID, however, we encounter a logical paradox, whereas evolutionary theory does not have such a philosophical stumbling block. ID must either have a designer that is not alive and granted life or is alive and either became alive spontaneously (i.e. not from life) or through some other agent (which begins the cycle again).

    Note that I am not arguing for or against current theories of abiogenesis – just that mainstream science’s view is fraught with less paradoxical implications than the logical conclusion of the Design hypothesis.

  52. avocationist

    I agree with your POV that the distinction between supernatural and natural is often somewhat spurious—if we can observe something, if it can affect us, then it is in nature. I think people often describe as supernatural those events which appear to disagree with the laws of nature as we have previously understood them (really, it is quite interesting that nature is at all amenable to description by simple laws at all…).

    However, I’m unconvinced by your assertion that: “God and sometimes people have access to subquantum events (reality before it is jelled up here where we can see it) and can manipulate events. We humans are constantly bringing about things which nature, unaided, could never do.”

    Do you have any justification for why this should be the case? can you define clearly what `access to subquantum events’ really means? Sorry, I am a bit skeptical about people using physical terms loosely to get to conclusions they *want* to get to….

  53. But Dave, at some point, there had to have been a parentless organism. There is simply no way around it.

  54. Jacktone

    Did the universe have to have a parent universe? Some questions are beyond the reach of current science and might remain that way. The *fact* remains that billions of people have observed billions of living things reproducing and not once has anyone observed a living thing coming into existence any other way. Until an exception is found it’s a law of nature that life comes from life.

  55. dazza

    The argument “who designed the designer” is stale and useless. The question can be made of life coming from non-life i.e. where did the non-life come from? Just as the question “where did matter come from” is not a question that evolution addresses where the designer came from is not a question that ID addresses.

  56. DaveWatt wrote:
    “The fact that chimps and humans *share* these retroviral insertions suggests they derived from a common ancestor.”

    The problem with extrapolation is it comes equipped with blinders.
    a) “both have them” and “share them” are two different concepts. Automobiles and playground equipment do not “share” nuts and bolts.
    b) …suggests “derived from a common ancestor”. Why not “derived from a common designer”?

    “…suggests that humans and chimps are most closely related.” Which are more closely related: John Deer tractors and John Deer pickups or John Deer Pickups and Ford Pickups?
    Answer: Neither.

    OK, this is bigoted:
    “It is of course possible that a Designer decided to stick these bits of DNA in our genomes to fool us.” Since you are not privy to the Designer’s plans you have no way of knowing why the Designer made any of the choices He/She/It made. You have made yourself the judge of the Designer, an absurd “suggestion”.

  57. Red Reader,

    “Davison says there has not even been a new genus in what, 2 million?”
    - to me that is a gigantic flashing neon billboard blinking “Uncommon Descent”.

    Well, no, his point there is that evolution is winding down, is mostly done with.

    “For example, bacteria are capable of turning on mutations in the presence of stressors”
    - is primary evidence of ID: “the more complicated the system, the greater the design inference”: is moreover an example of a more specialized form of programming–”artificial intelligence programming” the probabilities of which suggest MORE design inference.”

    Of course it is. I went back to my post and can’t figure out the link in my thoughts. I’m mentally handicapped. But I sure wasn’t arguing against ID.

    “Extrapolation”
    - it is extrapolation from the observed to the unobserved. WITHIN levels (genomes) we KNOW the mechanism. That we haven’t observed a mechanism for slow or sudden change FROM one genome INTO another, doesn’t prove there isn’t a mechanism. But if we haven’t discovered it, there is always the possibility that there isn’t one.”

    Logically, yes, but I agree with Dave Scot’s answer. But I think we probably will discover mechanisms or left-over clues to sudden change mechanisms. Then the Darwinists will claim it as part of their theory. Chalk up one more to the great scientific theory with strong predictive power.

    “But Dr. Davison’s PEH, if true, has even less chance of being observed even than NDE-RMNS; in fact it appears to require for viability the fact that it’s all done with.”

    See above. I have an intuition that information is not lost in this universe. We’ll find it.+++++++
    +++++++++++++++++++++++
    Anteater,

    “If the first life was designed, it is not unreasonable to think that the other life was designed, and not the product of naturalistic common descent. Rejecting common descent altogether is *no more metaphysical* than suggesting that the first life was designed. Remember that this concept of common descent was developed to fit into the naturalistic model of unguided, unintellgent evolution. As I said before, if the model crumbles, why be encumbered by its constraints?”

    But remember, the NDEs do have some data in their favor. It may be that common descent has lots of evidence, while the evidence for it occurring randomly is nonexistent. Just because they are strongly motivated to prove naturalism, does not mean every bit of data can be dismissed.

    What I observe leads me to think God would be far more likely to have set things up so that new life forms can be brought forth from existing ones, than to create each one. And you haven’t really answered the posts I made about that yesterday. Bring it out of the realm of nondetail and think about what it would mean to specially create, over and over again, each form. Reality is all about the details. That’s the bottom line.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Boesman,

    “So is God supernatural or not? Can his existence be tested and falsified? Remember that I didn’t mention God at all originally. You seem to think that science should include God just to make you feel better. This approach was tried for thousands of years. Success rate for God in science: 0% (zero). Supernatural explanations do not work in science and only hamper further discovery. This is exactly why ID had to distance itself from supernatural explanations in Dover.”

    1.God is not supernatural. The word has little meaning. It means magic or the unexplained. If God can be called supernatural, it is in the sense that S/He is the cause of nature. But there’s nothing non-natural about that. It is the most perfectly natural fact. What I am trying to convey is that if nature is what God does, how can you separate that out? You’d be skinning him alive.
    2. I think the existence of consciousness or somethink like that will be proved by science. I am an optimist. We don’t know what science can or cannot prove. Don’t predict the future of science. You can’t see the vista.
    3.I try to speak of God when its pertinent to the discussion. Which it so often is. As someone pointed out on another thread, this whole 150-year debate is really about materialism versus nonmaterialism. While I have high hopes for scientific proofs for God, in general people are looking in the wrong place. And it’s very silly of them.
    4.You are spouting rhetoric about the prior lack of success in science. Many of the greatest scientists have been very devout. Religion has its faults and people who lack faith cling to false ideas out of fear. This includes religious people and so sometimes they have obstructed rational thinking. If people would stop being silly, everything would progress better. Generally, the same behavior patterns can be found on both sides of a divide.
    5. There is no such thing as a supernatural explanation. There are intuitive instincts, such as that life comes from God, (which is logical as well) but this in no way obstructs science. We just keep plugging away, studying nature. To anything that has ever happened, there is a pathway of detail. Just because God is at the root of it all, changes nothing.

    “The last thing ID needs is people dictating their faith as science.”
    I’m not into faith and I certainly try not to dictate. I just think its funny when people who want to hide from God choose careers in science, because it is the study of God. I do believe it has undone many physicists and astronomers.

  58. 60
    Artist in training

    I thought that evolution theory didn’t deal with origin of life? Am I really wrong here? I understand darwin’s theory to be about after life began. That is where I’m confused. If Darwin proposed natural selection as the mechanism for the origin of species and common descent, and you agree with common descent, is there evidence saying that natural selection is Not the reason for common descent or the making of new species? And how can someone possibly make the claim for anything other than intelligent design?

    I did find out what after the bar closes is. You were right, it’s a bunch of people who simply throw insults around like badges of honor. It is linked to pandas thumb which I have seen you guys mention from time to time. Now that one is a real doosey. I don’t know how to make links in these windows but if you know how to get there (www.pandasthumb.com), it’s worth a read. It kind of makes you wonder how these sorts of people think they are “defending” science. There is an article called “Intelligent Design belittles God” where they are openly pushing for evangelical atheism toward the end of all the responses. One person makes a joke of it but others really get into it. I am going to register there and ask questions I think. I know they will call me names but really! Someone should tell their mothers what they are writing.

  59. Dazza,

    The only way to stop the infinite regress is to appeal to a metaphysical cause. The origin of the physical world cannot be explained by physical laws. That’s tautological. Evolutionists try to push this metaphysical cause as far back as possible and then forget about it. Creationists push this metaphysical cause forward to explain the origin of life. They are both on the same metaphysical footing.

  60. John Davison wrote:
    “To deny common descent is to deny evolution. That is unthinkable, unforgivable unacceptable and inconceivable in no particular order.”
    Such assertions qualify as drum beating but not debate.

    With all due respect Dr. Davison.
    I respect you as an educator and a scholar, but I simply disagree.

    I deny common descent. I deny evolution.
    a) it is quite thinkable; I think it and I do not go mad.
    b) forgiveness isn’t needed.
    c) it is quite acceptable to wide swathes of humanity, many of whom are educators and scholars.
    d) it is as easy to conceive uncommon descent as it is to conceive of Da Vinci painting the Last Supper.

    I am rational and of sound mind and body.
    I am not a Neanderthal.
    I have a Master’s Degree in Business.
    I am capable of evaluating evidence and drawing conclusions.
    Neither does my mother wear army boots.

    I LOVE the facts you bring to the debate, facts relating actual observations.

  61. avocationist
    “Of course it is. I went back to my post and can’t figure out the link in my thoughts. I’m mentally handicapped. But I sure wasn’t arguing against ID.”

    No, I wasn’t disagreeing. I was confirming what you said. Sorry if it came across as confrontational. No, I just meant YES, such evidence demands the design inference.

  62. Artist in training

    There is no registration at Pandas Thumb, I believe. You just have to give an email address.

  63. In 52 above: I deny MACRO-evolution: inter-genomic evolution.
    I do not deny MICRO-evolution: intra-genomic evolution.

  64. “I thought that evolution theory didn’t deal with origin of life?”

    Strictly speaking it doesn’t. But just bring it up to any Darwin apologist and see if they have nothing to say on it. I tried that. If they don’t have any opinion on the origin of life I said “okay, how about if the first cell was complex and was programmed to evolve into mushrooms and dinosaurs and people”. No, that’s not possible because Darwin’s theory says life goes from simple to complex. So in fact it does speak to the origin of life. It says the first life must be simple.

    ID doesn’t deal with the origin of life either. ID doesn’t even deal with evolution. ID in the biological realm only deals with patterns found in living tissue. It does not address the question of how, when, or why the patterns got there other than to say it must be through intelligent agency because nothing but an intelligence has ever been observed producing CSI.

  65. Apologies for being late but internet connection was brought down by snow.

    So the PEH proposes all genomic information was preloaded. I am with S. Cordova in doubting there is room for all that information to be incuded in one organism’s genome. But why is not someone looking for the horses’ teeth?

    Also. This front-loaded information then unfolds to give rise to a new species, yes? But there must be some co-ordination so that at least two organisms of opposite sex have saltations at the same time and place, otherwise how will the new species increase numbers. PEH seems pretty unconvincing as a hypothesis.

  66. DaveScot/Scordova,

    I’m glad for your posts. My stumbling block to frontloading is that it seems there’s a divide at OOL. I can see, as per Nature’s Destiny, that this universe and its laws could have contained the constraints needed to support life, and even a creature much like humans. But the cell and DNA I can’t see coming together from the Big Bang.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Dazza,

    I’m trying to follow your argument:

    “Either God is alive and hence life comes from His life which means that His life must have come from somewhere (which again begs the question) or He is not alive and hence life has come from non-life.”

    No. The turtles have to stop somewhere. There are things our minds can hardly take in. Infinity, eternity, timelessness. The whole point of being God is that he’s different – he’s got something vital. That vital thing is existence.

    “The idea of abiogenesis is that life can rise from non-life since life is basically an electrochemical construct.”

    Yes, and because it is simplistic you think it has fewer problems to explain and therefore is a better theory. Sure, it doesn’t stretch the mind to the breaking point like reality does. But it doesn’t work for me because I think matter needs an explanation for coming into being, or for eternally existing. Also, it is disheartening because if life is a chemical construct, then life doesn’t really exist.

    “With ID, however, we encounter a logical paradox, whereas evolutionary theory does not have such a philosophical stumbling block.”

    Yeah, (apparent) paradoxes are rife in spiritual/philosophical questions, whereas a made up story can be quite neat!
    For the record, I am not against alien theory, and I think it quite likely they have been here and done some serious genetic engineering, but it isn’t relevant to our questions because they would have the same ones on their own planet.
    ++++++++++++++++++++
    Physicist,

    Your name indicates I’m in trouble. I’m just a layperson hillbilly who tries to keep up a bit with quantum mechanics and string theory.

    —However, I’m unconvinced by your assertion that: “God and sometimes people have access to subquantum events (reality before it is jelled up here where we can see it) and can manipulate events. We humans are constantly bringing about things which nature, unaided, could never do.”

    —Do you have any justification for why this should be the case? can you define clearly what `access to subquantum events’ really means? Sorry, I am a bit skeptical about people using physical terms loosely to get to conclusions they *want* to get to.

    If “miracles” occur, there is a pathway. If Cindarella’s fairy godmother waves her wand and a pumpkin turns into a coach, there was a pathway of some kind. Every atom must be accounted for and every energy transfer. So, are there miracles? Many people say not, but I think that while they are disconcertingly rare, there are too many reports for me to dismiss, and I believe that I have witnessed ESP occur (which would be nonlocal consciousness)that cannot be attributed to chance.

    My understanding of atomic or subatomic reality, including strings, is that everything is made up of smaller and simpler components until we get down to a nondifferentiated level. (Yes, I realize these ideas are still provisional.) If someone were to turn water into wine, how could it possibly work? Since everything we see up here on the surface of reality has a depth leading down to quantum particles, and if (for example) strings are true, then it is just a different vibration of the “mother substance” which causes physicality to manifest itself into the different elements. Even above the strings level, I have read that “an electron is an electron is an electron” meaning that you can exchange them from one atom to another without any chang in property. So it follows from chemistry that rearranging these elements changes the atoms from one element to another. If I were God and had access to these inner realms, I would rearrange the atoms from water into wine. Simple, no?

  67. Dave, the *fact* is that there is an exception – namely, all of life. Yes, ever since there have been people to observe (and record their observations) we have only seen life coming from life. But the *fact* is that life happened some way or another from some process that we are unable to account for. Pushing that event back doesn’t justify the insertion of a process that there is no evidence for – namely – common descent. No one has ever observed an organism begetting another type of organism.

  68. avocationist,

    “1.God is not supernatural. The word has little meaning. It means magic or the unexplained. If God can be called supernatural, it is in the sense that S/He is the cause of nature. But there’s nothing non-natural about that. It is the most perfectly natural fact. What I am trying to convey is that if nature is what God does, how can you separate that out? You’d be skinning him alive.”

    You’re preaching again. Religious beliefs are not relevant in a scientific discussion. It’s this kind of advocacy that leads people to dismiss ID as religious.
    Let’s forget about the question of natural versus supernatural. Can God, or his works, be tested and/or falsified? If not, then God has no place in science.

    “2. I think the existence of consciousness or something like that will be proved by science. I am an optimist. We don’t know what science can or cannot prove. Don’t predict the future of science. You can’t see the vista.”

    Defining conciousness, as with defining life, is very subjective -and I don’t think the ultimate definition will help your cause anyway.

    You seem to have predicted a number of things for science. Now all you have to do is come up with some empirical evidence in support of your predictions. Good luck!

    “3.I try to speak of God when its pertinent to the discussion. Which it so often is. As someone pointed out on another thread, this whole 150-year debate is really about materialism versus nonmaterialism. While I have high hopes for scientific proofs for God, in general people are looking in the wrong place. And it’s very silly of them.”

    Look in the right place then. Gather the evidence, present your findings and/or proofs, and start writing your Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

    “4.You are spouting rhetoric about the prior lack of success in science. Many of the greatest scientists have been very devout. Religion has its faults and people who lack faith cling to false ideas out of fear. This includes religious people and so sometimes they have obstructed rational thinking. If people would stop being silly, everything would progress better. Generally, the same behavior patterns can be found on both sides of a divide.”

    Christians set out to investigate/prove God in nature. The only scientific evidence they returned with provided only natural explanations for natural phenomenon, and no proof of God’s work. Some remained devout, some didn’t. Devout scientists still exist today and most will tell you that science cannot address religious questions. What do you mean by people “being silly”?

    “5. There is no such thing as a supernatural explanation. There are intuitive instincts, such as that life comes from God, (which is logical as well) but this in no way obstructs science. We just keep plugging away, studying nature. To anything that has ever happened, there is a pathway of detail. Just because God is at the root of it all, changes nothing.”

    Most of that is just another unscientific religious proclamation.

    “I’m not into faith and I certainly try not to dictate. I just think its funny when people who want to hide from God choose careers in science, because it is the study of God. I do believe it has undone many physicists and astronomers.”

    Just more preaching about how others need to subscribe to your religious beliefs.

  69. Boseman wrote:
    “Religious beliefs are not relevant in a scientific discussion. It’s this kind of advocacy that leads people to dismiss ID as religious.”
    ….
    I think it is a bogeyman to suggest that we can control what other people think.
    People are smart enough to sort out the differences between what we believe is implied and what we know through observation.

  70. This just in relevant to this thread:

    Paul Nelson wrote:
    “In increasing number of biologists who work on the early branches of the Tree of Life have begun to say that there never was a single Tree, rooted in a single common ancestor. In a recent publication, Carl Woese (for instance) argued that “the Doctrine of Common Descent has deceived us” — the capital letters are his.”

    Read it all
    http://www.idthefuture.com/200.....ee_of.html

  71. avocationist:

    “No. The turtles have to stop somewhere. There are things our minds can hardly take in. Infinity, eternity, timelessness. The whole point of being God is that he’s different – he’s got something vital. That vital thing is existence.”

    I’m not sure I understand the difference – I exist too. Do I have something vital? If I were to say to you that I created everything, wouldn’t it be natural to ask who or what created me? What if I declined the explanation and stated that some things are just too complicated for you to understand. Would that be convincing to you?

    “Yes, and because [abiogenesis] is simplistic you think it has fewer problems to explain and therefore is a better theory. Sure, it doesn’t stretch the mind to the breaking point like reality does. But it doesn’t work for me because I think matter needs an explanation for coming into being, or for eternally existing. Also, it is disheartening because if life is a chemical construct, then life doesn’t really exist. “‘

    Firstly, I mde clear that I was not advocating any particular theory. Ockham’s razor does, however, imply that the theory with fewer problems is the better one. I still think you’re caught in a paradox. You say that you think matter needs an explanation for coming into being or for eternally existing. What explanation does ID propose? If the explanation is a designer, then unless the designer is not made of matter, we are in a state of parado once again. If the designer is not made of matter, ID would need a plausible explanation of how a being that is not composed of matter can create matter. Also, I’m not sure how life as an electrochemical construct would imply that it doesn’t exist. It may be disheartening but that should not prevent scientific inquiry.

    “Yeah, (apparent) paradoxes are rife in spiritual/philosophical questions, whereas a made up story can be quite neat!
    For the record, I am not against alien theory, and I think it quite likely they have been here and done some serious genetic engineering, but it isn’t relevant to our questions because they would have the same ones on their own planet.”

    I’m not sure that derisive name-calling of a theory is really going to help matters. If the paradox is only apparent, then how is it practically resolved? You suggest alien theory, but with alien theory, as always, we have to ask where the aliens originated from?

  72. Hello from France
    my name is Jean Staune I am 101% evolutionnist AND I am a critics of darwinism (as all serious non-darwinian biologists are!)
    I wrote un article you can find on
    http://www.metanexus.net/confe.....staune.pdf (it will inform you about what is REALLY non-darwinian biology, ID is only a very very TINY part of it)
    In the article I was saying:
    “It seems that the majority of Intelligent Design theorists do not believe in the idea of a common ancestry (fortunately this is not the case of Michael Behe, the historical stronghold of the Intelligent Design movement). It is a very disturbing situation. This is why, if the keepers of Intelligent Design are (like myself) persuaded that Darwinism is false, not for religious and political reasons but scientific, and if, as Christians (like myself) they are committed to the search for the truth; I suggest that they climb onto the nearest tabletop straightaway and yell at the top of their lungs:
    “ Yes! Evolution is a fact! ”
    When young Earth creationists say that the Earth is not older than 10,000 and that mankind existed during the time of dinosaurs, I tell them that if they really want to do something against Darwinism, that they should commit suicide as soon as possible!
    In fact, the conversion of Intelligent Design theorists to the idea of evolution and the disappearance of young Earth creationists would be dramatic for Darwinians as this would finally free up a space in which the development of a non-Darwinians school of thought (evolutionist of course, and therefore credible) based on the different theories and ideas present in this article.”

    And 2 weeks ago Dembski advise the readers of his blog to read my article!!!

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....chives/682

    From all the history of the post 744 and it removal I deduce that I had an influence on dave scot but not enough influence on Dembski!
    It is a pitty because without accepting common ancestror (at least for all vertebrates) there is no future for critics of darwinism; It Is clear that ID pepole like Dembski have to…evolve!

  73. dembski said “Thus, with regard to this forum, the truth or falsity of common descent is an open question worthy of informed discussion.”
    Is the question “is the earth rotating around the sun ” an open question on this forum???
    If yes the forum is unscientific and the case is closed
    If No it must be the same for the question of the common descent
    the FACT we share an common ancestror with all living thing is a fact at the same level that the earth is rotating around the sun so
    please Bill, awake, look at the data and…evolve

  74. Boes,

    “You’re preaching again. Religious beliefs are not relevant in a scientific discussion.”

    But you asked if God was supernatural. I think this idea is a stumbling block and needs revision.

    “It’s this kind of advocacy that leads people to dismiss ID as religious.”

    I firmly separate the ID inference from these other interesting questions, but they in fact are interrelated and no one can make it not so. Just look at the OOL morass. It is an open secret that most Darwinists would lose their will to live if it were proven that abiogenesis could never happen. It is very important to them and it is an underpinning to their whole worldview – yet they distance themselves from it and for no other reason than that it has so little progress to show for itself. They hope for it but take no responsibility. They are buying time.

    “Can God, or his works, be tested and/or falsified? If not, then God has no place in science.”

    God has no place in science in the sense that we expect to study the natural world and how it works, and not come up with dead ends, nor should our understanding that there is a God hinder our study. But what I’m trying to convey to you is that there is only one reality. Do you agree to that? Science is the study of this reality that we are all bewildered by. Dogmatic prejudices and limitations have no place in science.

    “Now all you have to do is come up with some empirical evidence in support of your predictions.”

    Yes. I predict science will prove God, probably indirectly. I predict that biology research will discover the actual cause(s) of the limits that prevent a species from evolving into another. Don’t you think it’s funny that I, a mystic who thinks about God all the time, have so much faith in science?

    “Christians set out to investigate/prove God in nature.”

    Did they? When was that?

    “The only scientific evidence they returned with provided only natural explanations for natural phenomenon, and no proof of God’s work.”

    This remark is why I persist. People had primitive notions of God. It needs to be updated. Frequently. Almost everyone understands that God is something very far beyond us and would involve prolonged discovery, and yet they also act as if their caveman notions have serious validity. I have read that when Newton discovered his laws of motion, many people considered God or his angels dethroned. They wanted a universe in which God and his angels flew around making things go. You’ll notice that Newton himself had no problem with his findings, and I can suppose that is because his mind was more profound than the general run of men.

    “Some remained devout, some didn’t. Devout scientists still exist today and most will tell you that science cannot address religious questions. What do you mean by people “being silly”?”

    Being egotistic, not keeping their minds fluid.

  75. Welcome jean from France.
    Maybe there is some reason your post is gone. Maybe it was an accident.
    ++++++++++++
    “An increasing number of biologists who work on the early branches of the Tree of Life have begun to say that there never was a single Tree, rooted in a single common ancestor.”

    One notes with satisfaction yet another missed prediction to add to the pile.
    ++++++++++++++++
    Dazza,

    You said: I exist too. Do I have something vital?

    No. Certainly not if your life is an aggregation of chemicals. When I say something doesn’t really exist I mean that’s its existence is dependent upon something else. All things we see are combinations of particles. They dissolve. They also depend upon their surrounding environment. They do not have inherent existence. Now, if all life comes from God and is in fact part of God, then that life in you inherently exists. It won’t dissolve, it has no beginning and no end, it has no form or shape or definition. It is unaffected by time.

    You said: If I were to say to you that I created everything, wouldn’t it be natural to ask who or what created me? What if I declined the explanation and stated that some things are just too complicated for you to understand. Would that be convincing to you?

    I actually explained quite clearly. I merely pointed out that your question are on a different level than our regular, 3D, material, shallow observations and yet you want answers on that level. You are like a 2D creature wanting 3D answers in 2D. To understand, even to begin to understand, even to see that one does not understand – these require a conceptual leap that the human brain appears at best marginally able to do. I’m not picking on you – this is the way it is. Don’t you see that the same series of questions can be asked of matter. Where did it come from? As I said earlier, the existence of anything at all is a mind-stopper. If it isn’t, it should be.

    You said: Firstly, I mde clear that I was not advocating any particular theory. Ockham’s razor does, however, imply that the theory with fewer problems is the better one.

    Yes, I remember, but you imply some preference for the one which ignores the real and hard questions. Amazing coincidence that it happens to be simpler. I think Ockam’s razor gets over used.

    You said: What explanation does ID propose? (origin of matter)

    Let’s be clear that this is well outside the scope of ID. My take is that there is an unavoidable understanding that there is something at the bottom of this reality that has a property of fundamental existence.

    You said: unless the designer is not made of matter, we are in a state of paradox once again. If the designer is not made of matter, ID would need a plausible explanation of how a being that is not composed of matter can create matter.

    Or influence it, either. This I don’t understand. I asked a physics student what the heck can be meant by a massless particle. Religions speak of the nonmaterial. But what does it mean? It may be right. But I also entertain the notion that there may be a smooth continuum, and at the other end is something so extremely subtle that it may as well be nonmaterial. In any case, matter seems to be made of light and vibration.

    You said: Also, I’m not sure how life as an electrochemical construct would imply that it doesn’t exist.

    Nothing there but chemical reactions, they’ll dissolve and so what. It’s about as real as the life in your car.

    “It may be disheartening but that should not prevent scientific inquiry.”

    God forbid!

    And no, I was not suggesting alien theory as a resolution to any paradox. I think I brought it up because you were talking about various designers. As I said, it does not resolve these sorts of questions, although it might throw some light on others.

  76. Jean wrote:
    Is the question “is the earth rotating around the sun ” an open question on this forum??? If yes the forum is unscientific and the case is closed.
    ….
    Evolution below the species level has been observed.
    Above the species level has not been observed.

    This is why Professor Dembski says the question is open.

    The sun rotating around the earth has been observed.
    That question is not open.

    Here is a restatement of this understanding:
    “The mechanism by which nature is alleged to have fashioned a single ancestor into both whales and man has never been observed. Indeed, its existence is based on…extrapolation from the commonplace observation that within a single species different traits provide a survival advantage in certain circumstances – e.g., black moths fare better vis-a-vis predators against a sooty backdrop and light moths do better in a clean environment.”
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/S.....%2FPrinter

    Extrapolation is not adequate to substitute for observation.
    Extrapolation is the error by which one may conclude that the earth is flat: “The earth I see is flat; therefore the earth is flat.”

  77. avocationist,

    “But you asked if God was supernatural. I think this idea is a stumbling block and needs revision.”

    Do all the revision you want, and return with something scientifically testable -not mere assertions and conjecture.

    “I firmly separate the ID inference from these other interesting questions, but they in fact are interrelated and no one can make it not so. Just look at the OOL morass. It is an open secret that most Darwinists would lose their will to live if it were proven that abiogenesis could never happen. It is very important to them and it is an underpinning to their whole worldview – yet they distance themselves from it and for no other reason than that it has so little progress to show for itself. They hope for it but take no responsibility. They are buying time.”

    Why don’t you save them all that time and effort and prove them wrong by the end of next week? All you need is some scientific evidence for your alternative/replacement hypothesis.

    Nice job you’re doing promoting the EAC there, btw.

    “God has no place in science in the sense that we expect to study the natural world and how it works, and not come up with dead ends, nor should our understanding that there is a God hinder our study.”

    Are you saying that people need to understand/accpet that there is a God before they can expect to study the natural world and how it works (pp)? Sounds an awful lot like religious doctrine to me.

    “But what I’m trying to convey to you is that there is only one reality. Do you agree to that?”

    I understand that your ‘reality’ is your religion, and that you don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t believe the same.

    “Science is the study of this reality that we are all bewildered by.”

    My understanding of reality is pretty solid to me.

    “Dogmatic prejudices and limitations have no place in science.”

    This is why religious beliefs are excluded from science.

    “Yes. I predict science will prove God, probably indirectly. I predict that biology research will discover the actual cause(s) of the limits that prevent a species from evolving into another.”

    I don’t see how your prediction would prove God (I assume that you want this prove the Christian God) though it might be considered compatible with certain Biblical interpretations of God, and probably a few other deities aswell.

    “Don’t you think it’s funny that I, a mystic who thinks about God all the time, have so much faith in science?”

    Don’t take this the wrong way but I’d call it wishful faith.

    ““Christians set out to investigate/prove God in nature.”
    Did they? When was that?”

    AiG has a list of old world Christian scientists, some with statements about how they set out to investigate/prove God in nature. Of course they don’t really cover how didn’t really find what they were looking for and/or lost their faith, so some further investigation is required.

    “This remark is why I persist. People had primitive notions of God. It needs to be updated. Frequently.”

    Historically speaking, religion has only hampered scientific enquiry, but good luck with your endeavours anyway.

    “Almost everyone understands that God is something very far beyond us and would involve prolonged discovery, and yet they also act as if their caveman notions have serious validity.”

    Of course you have all the answers; why am I then bothering to question you? All you have to know is present your scientific evidence for God and we’ll be done with it.
    “I have read that when Newton discovered his laws of motion, many people considered God or his angels dethroned. They wanted a universe in which God and his angels flew around making things go. You’ll notice that Newton himself had no problem with his findings, and I can suppose that is because his mind was more profound than the general run of men.”

    His mind was more profound because he disproved a previously held religious belief? OK, I think you’re trying to say that older/more primitive religious beliefs are less valid as science, but that your more sophisticated religious beliefs are correct as science? Some clarifications of the differences might help your case.

    ““Some remained devout, some didn’t. Devout scientists still exist today and most will tell you that science cannot address religious questions. What do you mean by people “being silly”?”
    Being egotistic, not keeping their minds fluid.”

    You mean like those who want their dogmatic religious beliefs accepted as science?

  78. To arbitrarily deny one or more original Creators with an intelligence far beyond out comprehension as some are so willing to do both here and elsewhere is, in my not very humble opinion, positive proof of an inferior intellect and a congenitally deprived view of the real world.

    Science most certainly can address religious issues and is doing it in experimental laboratories all over the world. What is emerging is an undertanding of life that demands a Creator or Creators in order to even begin to understand what is being revealed. Trust me but of course you won’t. That is what internet forums are for so each can ignore what everyone else has to say and go right on gratifying his own ego with gay abandon in what can only be described as a kind of hysterical intellectual masturbation.

    Enjoy yourself.

  79. Salut Jeanstaune,

    Vous êtes de quel coin? Moi, j’habite au Grand Sud. Je pense que vous trouviez que les gars ici sont un peu egoiste. C’est pas la vérité mais la croyance qui compte. Franchement ils ont les idées fixes, mais bon courage quand-même.

  80. Dr Davison

    I think your PEH is nonsense but I agree with part of your comment #80

    That is what internet forums are for so each can ignore what everyone else has to say and go right on gratifying his own ego with gay abandon in what can only be described as a kind of hysterical intellectual masturbation.

  81. Xavier

    Since you think the PEH is nonsense, please be so kind as to elaborate on just exactly which portions of it you find unacceptable. Be specific. Until you do I will regard your comment as a cheap shot and will treat it with with disdain and a certain amount of disgust. Got that? Write that down.

  82. Dear Avocationist,

    -I’m just a layperson hillbilly who tries to keep up a bit with quantum mechanics and string theory.

    Noble pursuits! If only more people were interested….

    -So, are there miracles? Many people say not, but I think that while they are disconcertingly rare, there are too many reports for me to dismiss, and I believe that I have witnessed ESP occur (which would be nonlocal consciousness)that cannot be attributed to chance.

    Well, I suppose this is the key question. I would suggest that the evidence is not great—at least, it is difficult to differentiate someone’s *experience* of a miracle, or ESP, from whether it actually happens in any objective sense. Of course, objectivity is somewhat tricky to pin down, but this is why we try to repeat experiments, and have them repeated by other people.

    -My understanding of atomic or subatomic reality, including strings, is that everything is made up of smaller and simpler components until we get down to a nondifferentiated level.

    Well, this is how things seem to some extent, but there is a lot more to understand.

    -So it follows from chemistry that rearranging these elements changes the atoms from one element to another. If I were God and had access to these inner realms, I would rearrange the atoms from water into wine. Simple, no?

    What you are describing is nuclear physics—nuclear fusion and fission describe happens when one element changes to another. There is no need to go down to a stringy description to see this. However, just because nuclear fusion can happen, doesn’t mean that anything goes! In particular, it doesn’t mean that water can be changed into wine on a tabletop via known physical processes. Of course, I’m not saying it couldn’t happen—but I think you’d usually require much more evidence before abandoning the standard picture.

    Again, I would warn against interpreting physical processes which have a very well defined meaning in a particular context, and applying them to prove something you *want* to be true. If you want to do physics, it’s best not to come in with any preconceptions about what you want to show is possible….

  83. Boesman,

    You’re not the evil twin of the prior Bozeman who was more of a Bible Thumper, are you?

    “Why don’t you save them all that time and effort and prove them wrong by the end of next week? All you need is some scientific evidence for your alternative/replacement hypothesis.” (Origin of life)

    Just because we don’t know what the moon is made of is no reason to insist it is made of green cheese, and mock those who are honest to admit that they are in the presence of a very huge problem. You may as well mock the accomplishment of the guy who invented the wheel or shaped the first spear because he hasn’t invented nuclear physics. It is far wiser to say “we haven’t even enough of a clue to get started” than to insist that just because someone has come up with a cockamamy theory it has to stand because there isn’t a replacement.

    Yah, yah, we’ve got the green cheese theory. What’s your side got?

    “Nice job you’re doing promoting the EAC there, btw.”

    Thanks but what is EAC?

    “Are you saying that people need to understand/accept that there is a God before they can expect to study the natural world and how it works (pp)? Sounds an awful lot like religious doctrine to me.”

    I don’t think I said that, and keeping the internet masturbatory talking-past-each-other tendency firmly in…mind–
    what I did say is you can’t rule God out as a policy because there is ONLY ONE reality and we’re in it. If it includes God it would be silly to have ruled it out because it would hinder your ability to come to conclusions in as objective a manner as possible. Don’t narrow your search parameters when you’re not out of the starting gate.

    “I understand that your ‘reality’ is your religion, and that you don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t believe the same.”

    Well that is probably accurate enough, after reality is all there is. I do understand why everyone doesn’t believe the same, however. It has to do with consciousness, perception, individuality, ego, and so forth. We’re all just here for the ride, but I try to help other people have a good time, throw them a vomit bag if they need it.

    “My understanding of reality is pretty solid to me.”

    Well, now that’s your problem right there. Come back when you realize you know nothing.

    Me:“Dogmatic prejudices and limitations have no place in science.”
    You: “–This is why religious beliefs are excluded from science.”

    The dogmatic prejudice goes both ways. That was the whole point.

    (I predict science will prove God and disprove RM)
    “I don’t see how your prediction would prove God (I assume that you want this to prove the Christian God) though it might be considered compatible with certain Biblical interpretations of God, and probably a few other deities as well.”

    Nobody owns God. The Christian (interpretation of) God is a schizophrenic and a sociopath who has been the major cause of today’s atheism. Jesus knew better, but Jehovah has infected Christianity. I consider Jehovah an imposter.

    Anyway, I meant that God would be proved in some other way, such as consciousness research. But biology and and chemistry and cosmology are already coming up with rudiments of what may be indirect proofs of God.

    “AiG has a list of old world Christian scientists, some with statements about how they set out to investigate/prove God in nature. Of course they don’t really cover how didn’t really find what they were looking for and/or lost their faith, so some further investigation is required.”

    Well, it was a noble endeavor, but they expected too much, too soon. It just wouldn’t be fun if it was that easy.

    That’s why I think faith in God is highly overrated. Even the pious folks have a faith that is about a millimeter thick. A little scratch and its gone.

    Now if science could prove God it would be a great boon to mankind.

    “Historically speaking, religion has only hampered scientific enquiry, but good luck with your endeavours anyway.”

    Greatly exaggerated. Well, somewhat exaggerated.

    “His mind was more profound because he disproved a previously held religious belief? OK, I think you’re trying to say that older/more primitive religious beliefs are less valid as science, but that your more sophisticated religious beliefs are correct as science? Some clarifications of the differences might help your case.”

    His mind was more profound because he had a deeper handle on how to think cosmic thoughts, so he was not thrown off his horse at the first unexpected rock in his path. Of course, if religous or other beliefs don’t jive with solid scientific findings, one must take one’s mind back to the drawing board. Rather than see science as in opposition to spirituality, which it cannot possibly be because (if spirit exists) there is only one seamless reality — instead see that it is a compass, a north star that can let us know when we are drifting off course. Which, for us hapless human saps means we are fantasizing again.

  84. Avocationist

    Please stifle yourself when tempted to use inflammatory phrases like Bible Thumper and vulgarities like masturbatory. Gratuitous religion bashing can be taken elsewhere too. Let’s keep it clean & friendly. Consider yourself warned.

  85. Okay Dave Scot

    I consider myself warned. I’m sorry for the vulgarity, although I could swear I didn’t mention it first. Are you being even-handed?

    As for Bozeman, I was out of line there too, but I meant it affectionately.

    But I do not think I engage in gratuitous religion bashing. I have asked a few times why did Darwin say he couldn’t understand why anyone would want the Christian message to be true. I have not had one thoughtful answer yet. I think a good case can be made that this sort of reaction to CERTAIN ASPECTS of Christian theology has been a common and major underpinning of the world view Dembski is dedicated to overthrowing.

    But what caused that reaction? Why have so many wanted to invest in this material world view? Why did Darwin have a ready audience? I think it is largely because they became tired of the very same things Darwin couldnt stomach.

    I consider myself the friend of Christianity but somebody needs to goad them into taking a look at a couple of sacred cows because they don’t seem to see it.

    Because they don’t see it the two sides are talking past each other.
    That cannot lead to reconciliation.

    Since I have obviously said many positive things about religion here (for example my post to Artist in training) and since many ID detractors engage in religion bashing all the time, I wonder if perhaps it is only acceptable to be all for or all against, but not to actually engage in critical analysis?

    More probably you are annoyed at too much religion talk, and I can’t blame you for that.

  86. “In my own research area of evolutionary algorithms, intelligent design works together with evolutionary principles to produce better solutions to real problems. Sometimes the results are novel and surprising, but, on reflection, they were always inherent in the initial formulation. Without the initial activity of an intelligent agent, the evolutionary mill has no grist to work on.” — Professor Colin Reeves, School of Mathematical and Information Sciences, Coventry University, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opi.....dt3101.xml

    The episodic evolutionary development hypothesis
    by j

    Mankind is the product of a process of evolutionary development. The claims of the scientific community that the universe is about 13.7 billion years old, that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old, that the first life appeared on earth about 4 billion years ago, and that it evolved from simple to highly complex forms, are all true. However, Darwin’s hypothesis that evolution occured exclusively by means of natural selection acting on random variation, is wrong.

    Episodically, either the selection, the mutations, or both, have been non-random, i.e., they occurred in accordance with the intent of an intelligence. In these episodes, the intelligence has had a, literally, specific purpose in mind: to create various species. Species have been allowed to exist for a limited amount of time, and then they (or part of their populations) have been formed into something slightly different.

  87. Should be: “…Darwin’s hypothesis that evolution occured primarily…”

    The point is, he thought that dumb/purposeless/blind causes alone were sufficient. They ain’t.

  88. Dr. Davison

    You missed my earlier comment no 67, presumably. As you do not mince words, I thought you would prefer me to say clearly what opinion I have formed after making some considerable effort to understand it.
    Apologies for being late but internet connection was brought down by snow.

    So the PEH proposes all genomic information was preloaded. I am with S. Cordova in doubting there is room for all that information to be incuded in one organism’s genome. But why is not someone looking for the horses’ teeth?

    Also. This front-loaded information then unfolds to give rise to a new species, yes? But there must be some co-ordination so that at least two organisms of opposite sex have saltations at the same time and place, otherwise how will the new species increase numbers. PEH seems pretty unconvincing as a hypothesis.

  89. Xavier

    As usual you demonstrate that you have not read my papers, some of which are a touch of your mouse away right here at Uncommon Descent. I am not going to respond to you until you can demonstrate that you have. I may not even then. My work is now preserved for all time on the shelves of the world’s libraries and until you can demonstrate that you have read it and the authors on which my own work is based I am not going to respond to you. I am certain that my position is transparently clear to anyone with the necessary background to understand what I have written. At my age I just don’t have the time. I hope you will understand, but if you don’t that is just too bad.

    I am also sorry that Salvador is confident there is not enough room in the genome of any organism especially since, as nearly as I can determine, there is not an organism on the surface of this planet that is still capable of any further major change. The only thing that I see they are capable of is extinction which many of them are really good at as any one can see if he would only look objectively at what is happening.

    Skoal

    “You can lead a man to the literature but you cannot make him read it or, having read it, comprehend it.”
    John A. Davison

  90. RedReader said:

    “The problem with extrapolation is it comes equipped with blinders.
    a) “both have them” and “share them” are two different concepts. Automobiles and playground equipment do not “share” nuts and bolts.

    Your distinction is trivial. Human and chimp endogenous retroviral sequences have high homology – akin to an automobile and a piece of playground equipment using exactly the same type of a nut and bolt.

    b) …suggests “derived from a common ancestor”. Why not “derived from a common designer”?”

    It is formally possible that they are derived from a common designer. I do not rule that possibility out of hand. However, given our current state of knowledge about endogenous retroviruses, (i.e. that they integrate into genomes in a pseudo-random fashion and are inherited), the more parsimonious explanation is that the retroviral sequences in question inserted into the genome of a chimp/human ancestor.

    ““…suggests that humans and chimps are most closely related.” Which are more closely related: John Deer tractors and John Deer pickups or John Deer Pickups and Ford Pickups?
    Answer: Neither.”

    I don’t see the point you are making. You are setting up two categories, name (Ford, John Deere) and class (tractor and pickup) and are saying that all combinations of name and class are equally similar (or dissimiliar). How does this relate the situation I describe with primates, where one can construct a cladogram based on increasing conservation of ERV sequences (or other genetic features)?

    “OK, this is bigoted:
    “It is of course possible that a Designer decided to stick these bits of DNA in our genomes to fool us.” Since you are not privy to the Designer’s plans you have no way of knowing why the Designer made any of the choices He/She/It made. You have made yourself the judge of the Designer, an absurd “suggestion”.”

    First, calling me bigoted is rude. Please desist. The point I was making is that if one invokes a Designer of unknown motives and power – as you have just done – then nothing is incompatible with design. Invoking such a designer is an epistemic dead end, as it can explain everything superficially, and nothing in detail.

    -DaveWatt

Leave a Reply