Home » Biology, Darwinist debate/rhetorical tactics, Design inference, Evolution, Human evolution, ID Foundations, science education, Science, worldview issues and society, The Design of Life, Tree of life, UD's Pro-Darwinism essay Challenge, Video » ID Foundations, 22: What about evolutionary trees of descent and homologies? (An answer to Jaceli123′s presentation of a typical icon of evolution . . . )

ID Foundations, 22: What about evolutionary trees of descent and homologies? (An answer to Jaceli123′s presentation of a typical icon of evolution . . . )

As has been noted, sometimes people come to UD looking for answers to questions about what they have been taught regarding “Evolution”; typically in the context of indoctrination under the Lewontinian ideological a priori materialism that he outlined thusly in his infamous 1997 NYRB article:

[T]he problem is to get [the general public] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations [--> note the implicit bias, polarising rhetoric and refusal to address the real alternative posed by design theory, -- which was already topical in those days some months after Behe's first book on Irreducible complexity. Namely, assessing natural (= chance and/or necessity) vs ART-ificial alternative causes on empirically tested reliable signs] of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. if you think this is "quote mined," I suggest you read the fuller cite and notes here.]

So, the issues Jaceli123 raised are worthy of inclusion in a foundations of ID post, even, one at new year.

And, a happy new year to all!

One of Jaceli123′s icons is particularly significant, a modification of the “chain of apes to modern man” missing links — found icon that is so commonly seen:

human-evolutionicon

{U/D,  Sun Jan 5, 2013: A follow up on another of many links posed by Jaceli123, to a page of “best videos” in support of evolutionism, opens up with the following image,underscoring just how central this icon of evolution is:}

vir1_onevo

This sort of “chain of human ancestors” is one of the many misleading icons of evolutionism-influenced science and popular education addressed by Wells in his well-known critical assessment, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? (cf. preview here), and in his freely accessible article based on his research, “Survival of the Fakest.” Indeed, it is worth our while to pause and show the cover of the book, as it addresses the very same topic as the icon cited by Jaceli123:

icons_cover

That in itself should give us a clue that all is not as simple and straightforward as it seems.

Hey, it’s new year — a happy new year to you, one and all! — so let’s pause and look at a video clip on this icon, made on the 10th anniversary of the book:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Here is a bit of what Wells says  about homology (resemblance) based arguments . . . which answers to the ape and human hand part of the image:

Most  introductory  biology  textbooks  carry  draw-ings of vertebrate limbs showing similarities in their bone structures.  Biologists before Darwin had noticed this sort  of similarity and called it “homology,” and they attributed it  to  construction  on  a  common  archetype  or  design.    In The Origin of Species, however, Darwin argued that the best explanation for homology is descent with modification, and he considered it evidence for his theory.

Darwin’s followers rely on homologies to arrange fossils  in  branching  trees  that  supposedly  show  ancestor-descendant relationships.  In his 1990 book, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism, biologist Tim Berra compared the fossil record to a series of Corvette models: “If you compare a 1953 and a 1954 Corvette, side by side, then a 1954 and a 1955 model, and so on, the descent with modification is overwhelmingly obvious.”

But this is, of course, the notorious Berra’s blunder.

For there is a missing aspect in the story of Corvette Evolution: common design by GM’s Engineers.

That is, common design and technological evolution can account for homologies just as well as common descent, and indeed — given that genetic engineering exists, genetic engineering joined to common descent is a very viable design explanation. One that also takes in cases of evident code reuse and libraries of parts such as the close resemblance of code for micro bats and whales,  the case of the Platypus and other mosaic creatures, as well as the astonishing discovery that a kangaroo has in it huge swaths of the human genome. Blend in the ability of engineers to do multiple code inheritance, and we also see how common design could account for the astonishing diversity of various molecular trees of life that are constructed on the same idea that resemblance is a measure of common ancestry.

Where, let us recall, too, from the very first technical level ID work, Thaxton et al’s The Mystery of Life’s Origin, it has been repeatedly pointed out that evidence inferred to point to design of life is not the same as inference to the supernatural. For instance, it has often been noted at UD that a sufficient explanation of the world of life as we observe it could be a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond where Venter et al have reached in our day. Inference to design is an inference on sign regarding causal factors that point to nature acting freely and without foresight or direction (i.e. acting blindly) through chance and necessity, vs designers acting by art.  Hence, the relevance of the per aspect design inference explanatory filter:

explan_filter

So, obviously, contrary to Lewontin et al, NCSE et al, ACLU et al and ever so many objectors to design theory, the inference to design per the explanatory filter is not to be equated to inference to the (to them, suspect) supernatural.

And this, for the very good reason that that tweredun is prior to whodunit.

The signs of design such as functionally specific complex organisation and associated information [FSCO/I] are reliable indices of design is one thing. That the designer responsible may or may not be God or the like, is another.

(And, objectors to the design inference tend to be very thin on the ground at the cosmological fine tuning level, where the evidence does raise serious questions of an observed cosmos that credibly had a beginning, and where from its physics on up it is evidently set to a fine tuned local operating point that enables Carbon-chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life. The contingency and evident fine tuning of the material world we observe — the ONLY such world we observe (i.e. the multiverse is a speculation, and it is a philosophical argument not a scientific one . . . ) — then strongly points to an immaterial, powerful, purposeful, intelligent designer of a cosmos set up for life such as we experience. This, in a context where the root of a contingent cosmos, even through a speculated multiverse, is a necessary and thus eternal being. And coming forward, such a being would indeed have power to design and effect what we see in the world of life. But this is a much broader argument and in part it is a philosophical one, that has to address things like being, contingency and necessity, cf here on for a 101.)

From this, we move to the even more crucial Tree of life diagram, which first appears in Darwin’s notebooks c, 1837 (HT: Guardian):

darwins1sttree

So, this naturally raises the issue of the connexions leading from roots, to the trunk and to the branches, twigs, buds and leaves, including us. Accordingly, after many vexed exchanges at UD on Sept 23, 2012, I posted a pro-Darwinist essay challenge [as a successful answer would devastate the design theory movement so this is the heart of the matter], highlighting the following representation of the tree of life from the Smithsonian, which reveals the root . . .  Origin of Life [OOL]:

Darwin-ToL-Smithsonian400

The upshot?

After a full year (during which I took time in the original thread to take apart a main Wikipedia article or two as a stand-in for the empty chair [--> cf here on on abiogenesis and here on on evolution . . . ] and also time to take apart a presentation of 29 claimed evidences of Macroevolution at the TalkOrigins archive [--> Cf. here, also see the true origins critique here and the onward response to talkorigins' rebuttal, here]), I had to put together a composite and very unsatisfactory answer that simply refused to address the bigger half of the problem, origin of life.

Speaks volumes, that does.

Anyway, the diagram Jaceli123 gives us, shows a chain of human ancestry, within this wider tree of life context.

Going on to the chain of alleged ancestors diagram, Wells observes:

Darwin’s theory really comes into its own when it is applied  to  human  origins.    While  he  scarcely  mentioned the  topic  in  The  Origin  of  Species,  Darwin  later  wrote extensively about it in The Descent of Man.  “My object,” he  explained,  “is  to  show  that  there  is  no  fundamental difference  between  man  and  the  higher  animals  in  their mental faculties” – even morality and religion.  According to Darwin, a dog’s tendency to imagine hidden agency in things moved by the wind “would easily pass into the belief in the existence of one or more gods.”

Of course, the awareness that the human body is part of nature was around long before Darwin.  But Darwin was claiming much more.  Like materialistic philosophers since ancient Greece, Darwin believed that human beings are nothing more than animals . . . .

Accord-ing to paleoanthropologist Misia Landau, theories of human origins  “far  exceed  what  can  be  inferred  from  the  study of fossils alone and in fact place a heavy burden of inter-pretation on the fossil record – a burden which is relieved by  placing  fossils  into  pre-existing  narrative  structures.”  In  1996,  American  Museum  of  Natural  History  Curator Ian Tattersall acknowledged that “in paleoanthropology, the patterns we perceive are as likely to result from our uncon-scious mindsets as from the evidence itself.”  Arizona State University anthropologist Geoffrey Clark echoed this view in 1997 when he wrote: “We select among alternative sets of research conclusions in accordance with our biases and preconceptions.”  Clark suggested that “paleoanthropology has the form but not the substance of science.”

Biology students and the general public are rarely informed of the deep-seated uncertainty about human ori-gins that is reflected in these statements by scientific experts. Instead, they are simply fed the latest speculation as though it were a fact.  And the speculation is typically illustrated with fanciful drawings of cave men, or pictures of human  actors wearing heavy make-up.

Hard words, but in light of the sort of patterns we have seen ever so often of announced, headlined missing links — found, that turn out to be of much less substance, it is hard to escape the force of the point that Lewontinian materialist faith has more to do with the aura of confident certainty we see than the actual weight of evidence.

It is in this context that I responded to Jaceli123 as follows (in a thread where he subsequently vanished):

____________

>> I will take for a moment, as one slice of the cake with all the ingredients in it, the case illustrated here, an argument from broad-brush homology and reconstruction, which portrays first an ape’s hand compared to a man’s hand, and secondly a compressed sequence of a series of mammals (possibly led off by a reptile with feathers and/or hair) culminating in an ape then an ape-man then possibly a neanderthal then a modern man of caucasoid race.

This is an example of a misleading icon of evolution presented as documented, unquestionable fact.

On stepwise points of thought:

1 –> It is circular to define homology as resemblance due to evolutionary descent — as has often been done, e.g. Wiki: “homology is the existence of shared ancestry between a pair of structures, or genes, in different species. A common example of homologous structures in evolutionary biology are the wings of bats and the arms of primates — then present homology as if it were factual proof of evolution.

2 –> This first fails to highlight that there are ever so many structures that are held to be independently and separately derived, as with the examples of multiple origins of flight, eyes, and echolocation in bats and whales. In short close resemblance is due to ancestry, except where it isn’t. Circularity and special pleading, presented while dressed up in the lab coat.

3 –> Similarly, a major duck-dodge is being done on accounting for the origin of required FSCO/I and particularly genetic info to account for the difference. Just 500 – 1,000 bits worth . . . i.e. 250 – 500 genetic base pairs, taxes the entire capability of blind chance and mechanical necessity across the solar system or the observed cosmos.

4 –> For example it has been commonly said that we are 98% similar in genome to chimps. But 2% of 3 billion base pairs, is 6 * 10^7, or 12 mn bits. And, with reasonable population sizes and generation times, as well as population genetics factors, this would require hundreds of millions of years and up, not the six million or so that are commonly held to be available. Assuming, that there is an incremental path.

5 –> In fact, to transform an ape-like ancestor into a human requires a huge reconstructive job, starting with posture, hanging of the head on the spine, angles of bones, creating linguistic capacity and speech organs co-ordinated with such, and more.

6 –> The number of intermediate steps required is huge, especially if we realise that on empirical genetic evidence, ~ 6 – 7 co-ordinated mutations at a time is an upper empirically plausible limit. So, transitionals from the implied ancestor to both the chimp and the modern man, should dominate the fossil forms and/or still be around. They simply are not — the screaming headlines of the past 150 years starting with Neanderthal, notwithstanding. Nor is the time that would be required. (Never mind convenient distractors on chromosome fusion events and whatnot, these are just red herrings compared to the real and unanswered challenge.)

7 –> Where, just on linguistic and closely linked rational ability, until a Darwinist can explain to you how — on observed empirical evidence not just so stories full of hypotheticals — by chance speech, language, and credible reasoning ability arose and have succeeded in accounting for our minds and their capacities to know, understand, reason and so forth, as well as consciousness, s/he refutes himself every time s/he opens the mouth to speak or keys in words on a keyboard or draws a meaningful drawing, as I discuss in more details in this current thread. A rock has no dreams and GIGO limited computation critically dependent on functionally specific organisation is not equal to conscious rational thought, insight and knowledge.

8 –> the broad-brush Darwinist sequence of reptile to mammal to ape to ape-man to man then collapses for the same basic reasons. There is no credible, properly empirically grounded incrementalist account of how the required body plan transformation changes can happen by blind chance and mechanical necessity without intelligent direction, so it is a strawman caricature — an argument from resemblance that ducks the real challenge of explaining the origin of required functional information of requisite complexity on available material resources and time on the usual timelines. (Cf the more detailed 101 level discussion of OO body plans challenges here on.)

9 –> Where, I again underscore that design theory does not deny common descent or even universal common descent, e.g. cf Behe who accepts UCD. What it highlights is that body plan origins is a case of origin of FSCO/I and often of many irreducibly complex — IC –systems [the two overlap but are not equivalent], and that even granting an ancestral branching tree pattern, this still requires design to account for the underlying information and structures. Until that origin of FSCO/I challenge is satisfactorily answered, the darwinist narrative is little more than, having a priori imposed evolutionary materialism by playing with definition games and caricatures, one then looks at the evidence and asks, what is the best evolutionary materialist account of our cosmos and the world of life, from hydrogen to humans.

10 –> In case you doubt me, here is Harvard prof Richard Lewontin responding to Cornell prof Carl Sagan’s last book:

[T]he problem is to get [people] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis and notes added. If you have been led to imagine that this is "quote mined" kindly see the filler citation and notes here.]

. . . and here is ID thinker Philip Johnson’s well merited rebuke to such tactics:

For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

. . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

11 –> Likewise, a major case in point is the Cambrian revolution, the subject of a current major ID book by Stephen Meyer, Darwin’s Doubt. {Preview here.} Laying all the side tracks and distractors to one side, the basic facts are as Meyer laid them out in his 2004 PBSW paper, which passed proper peer review by “renowned scientists” and was then retracted under the impact of inexcusably abusive political pressure games that inter alia cost the editor of the journal his marriage:

The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the specified complexity or “complex specified information” (CSI) of the biological world. For over three billions years, the biological realm included little more than bacteria and algae (Brocks et al. 1999). Then, beginning about 570-565 million years ago (mya), the first complex multicellular organisms appeared in the rock strata, including sponges, cnidarians, and the peculiar Ediacaran biota (Grotzinger et al. 1995). Forty million years later, the Cambrian explosion occurred (Bowring et al. 1993) . . . One way to estimate the amount of new CSI that appeared with the Cambrian animals is to count the number of new cell types that emerged with them (Valentine 1995:91-93) . . . the more complex animals that appeared in the Cambrian (e.g., arthropods) would have required fifty or more cell types . . . New cell types require many new and specialized proteins. New proteins, in turn, require new genetic information. Thus an increase in the number of cell types implies (at a minimum) a considerable increase in the amount of specified genetic information. Molecular biologists have recently estimated that a minimally complex single-celled organism would require between 318 and 562 kilobase pairs of DNA to produce the proteins necessary to maintain life (Koonin 2000). More complex single cells might require upward of a million base pairs. Yet to build the proteins necessary to sustain a complex arthropod such as a trilobite would require orders of magnitude more coding instructions. The genome size of a modern arthropod, the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, is approximately 180 million base pairs (Gerhart & Kirschner 1997:121, Adams et al. 2000). Transitions from a single cell to colonies of cells to complex animals represent significant (and, in principle, measurable) increases in CSI . . . .

In order to explain the origin of the Cambrian animals, one must account not only for new proteins and cell types, but also for the origin of new body plans . . . Mutations in genes that are expressed late in the development of an organism will not affect the body plan. Mutations expressed early in development, however, could conceivably produce significant morphological change (Arthur 1997:21) . . . [but] processes of development are tightly integrated spatially and temporally such that changes early in development will require a host of other coordinated changes in separate but functionally interrelated developmental processes downstream. For this reason, mutations will be much more likely to be deadly if they disrupt a functionally deeply-embedded structure such as a spinal column than if they affect more isolated anatomical features such as fingers (Kauffman 1995:200) . . . McDonald notes that genes that are observed to vary within natural populations do not lead to major adaptive changes, while genes that could cause major changes–the very stuff of macroevolution–apparently do not vary. In other words, mutations of the kind that macroevolution doesn’t need (namely, viable genetic mutations in DNA expressed late in development) do occur, but those that it does need (namely, beneficial body plan mutations expressed early in development) apparently don’t occur . . .

12 –> In short, once question-begging ideological materialist a prioris are laid aside, there is not a good non question-begging, empirically grounded case on the origin of the main branches of the animal kingdom of life. And this has been so ever since Darwin had to deal with this case and admitted that he had no solid empirical evidence based — as in chains of fossils showing clear transitions across what we now know to be dozens of phyla and subphyla — answer but hoped that future evidence would bear him out.

13 –> Huffing and puffing and dismissals notwithstanding, the future evidence is abundantly in and after 150 years,the problem is worse than in Darwin’s day. If you doubt me, simply ask Nick Matzke et al to provide the chains of observed credibly . . . non question-beggingly . . . dated fossils. Such advocates will not . . . as they cannot. (And, remember, this is across dozens of basic body plans, in a context where the transitionals should be there across hundreds of millions of years worth of rocks.)

14 –> Do not let the Ediacaran fossils, which seem to be further extinct body plans, be used as a distractor: we need to see the chains of fossils, and the empirically grounded observed demonstration of he body-plan originating capacity of Darwinist mechanisms of chance variation and subtraction of less successful varieties to originate the scope of incremental descent with modification leading to body plan level macro-evo, required.

15 –> Nor is this the biggest problem by any means. The real Sunday punch is the origin of life {cf. Meyer’s 2009 Signature in the Cell, nb: debates}, which Darwinists will typically tell you is not part of the theory of evolution. But, as you know it is commonly presented in textbooks with an air of assurance, and it is the root of the whole tree of life. (I speak here in a context where for a full year there was an unmet open challenge to answer to the tree of life here at UD. In the end I had to accept something that simply ducked the root issue and had no solid answer to the sort of challenges laid out above. All the meanwhile the circle of objector and fever swamp sites carried on with business as usual and abuse as usual as though there were no problems.)

16 –> The problem here is that you have to start with chemistry and physics in Darwin’s warm little pond or the like and get to an encapsulated, intelligently gated, metabolising automaton with a code-using self replicating facility, based on aqueous medium Carbon chemistry in a cosmos that is evidently fine tuned for the possibility of such life. Where also, the empirically grounded lower scale of the genome is going to be about 100 – 1,000 k bits. Well beyond the FSCO/I threshold of 500 – 1,0000 bits where empirical evidence and needle in the haystack challenge grounds both say that such organised and functionally specific complexity is a reliable sign of design as cause.

17 –> Even leaving off the fine tuning question — and that is actually the bigger half of the design theory, the key issue is that one cannot appeal to natural selection as there is no reproduction to begin with, that too has to be explained, and explained as to how it begins and is integrated with the sort of encapsulated, gated metabolising entity that has been summarised. Explained, on empirical, observational evidence.

18 –> Which just is not there, leading to a situation where the major schools of thought stand in mutual ruin; each successfully pointing out the fatal flaws in the other. (Cf 101 level details here on.)

19 –> So, from the root of the tree of life, there is good reason to infer to intelligent design, and this continues through the main branches up to the very tips, including human origins.

20 –> That is, in an ideal world ID should sit at the table of biological origins science discussions and education policy discussion, not by sufferance but by right. It does not, because of ideological dominance of materialism, which is actually self refuting. So much so that if you harbour or come to harbour serious doubts about Darwin, I must counsel you to keep quiet about them, until you hold the sort of tenure or stature that Darwinist bullies cannot do you serious harm.>>

_____________

One last thing, in my 101 survey of the issues on body plan evo, I closed off with a list of ten questions adapted from Wells’ list:

In light of concerns and limitations of the evidence for macro-evolution, such as the above, Dr. Jonathan Wells has suggested a list of controversial questions students should bear in mind (and, if their teachers are open to it, ask). In slightly softened form:

1] ORIGIN OF LIFE. Why do many textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life’s building blocks may have formed on the early Earth — when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?

2] DARWIN’S TREE OF LIFE. Why don’t textbooks critically discuss the “Cambrian explosion,” in which major animal groups appear together in the fossil record fully formed instead of branching from a common ancestor — thus contradicting the root-and- gradual- branching  picture given by the evolutionary tree of life?

3] HOMOLOGY. Why do textbooks often define homology as similarity due to common ancestry, then claim that it is evidence for common ancestry — isn’t that a circular argument masquerading as  evidence?

4] VERTEBRATE EMBRYOS. Why have some textbooks up to a few years ago still used drawings of similarities in vertebrate embryos as evidence for their common ancestry — even though biologists have known for over a century that vertebrate embryos are not most similar in their early stages, and that Ernst Haeckel’s drawings are faked?

5] ARCHAEOPTERYX. Why do some textbooks portray this fossil as the missing link between dinosaurs and modern birds — even though modern birds are probably not descended from it, and its supposed ancestors do not appear until millions of years after it?

6] PEPPERED MOTHS. Why do some textbooks use pictures of peppered moths camouflaged on tree trunks as evidence for natural selection — when biologists have known since the 1980s that the moths don’t normally rest on tree trunks, and all the pictures have been staged?

7] DARWIN’S FINCHES. Why do some textbooks claim that beak changes in Galapagos finches during a severe drought can explain the origin of species by natural selection — even though the changes were reversed after the drought ended, and no net evolution occurred?

8] MUTANT FRUIT FLIES. Why do some textbooks use fruit flies with an extra pair of wings as evidence that DNA mutations can supply raw materials for evolution — even though the extra wings have no muscles and these disabled mutants cannot survive outside the laboratory?

9] HUMAN ORIGINS. Why are artists’ drawings of ape-like humans commonly used to justify materialistic claims that we are just animals and our existence is a mere accident — when fossil experts cannot even agree on who our supposed ancestors were or what they looked like?

10] EVOLUTION A FACT? Why are we sometimes told that Darwin’s theory of evolution is a scientific “fact” — even though (a) we cannot actually directly observe the remote past as it actually was,  (b) many of the claims are arguably based on the assumption that “blind watchmaker” evolution is true, or (c) on facts that could also be effectively explained based on common design?

Of course, such questions are provocative, and while they should be borne in mind, they should only be raised respectfully, and with due caution . . .

So, now, what should we conclude in this new year of our Lord, 2014? Why? On what grounds? With what warrant?

Again, a happy new year to all. END

PS, Jan 5: I have directed Jaceli123 to the following basic and somewhat more involved readings, to help him or her find a way to become a tub standing on its own intellectual bottom:

B1: Straight thinking 101

B2: Fixing the problem of rhetorical or agit-prop spin-tactics “everywhere”

B3: Understanding basics of scientific methods and approaches, beyond what is in B1.

I1: Setting out on building a worldview (sorry, you have opened that can of worms)

I2: Basic philosophical thinking tool kit

I3: A Critical survey of origins science informed by a design perspective.

In addition, I suggest that the list of units linked from I3 — the intro-summary for the IOSE critical survey of origins science, may help sort out a range of issues connected to origins science, evolutionism and design theory:

this independent origins science course – bearing in mind various perspectives and controversies — will seek to clarify and discuss the decisive scientific facts, theories, ideas, issues and alternatives on origins, regarding:

1] Overview and significance of origins Science ideas and issues – Origins Science as the scientifically informed study and reconstruction of our “roots,” from hydrogen to humans. Thus, its inextricable connections to worldview level issues and scientific methods issues. Can we scientifically reconstruct a deep past that we did not observe, based on traces in our present? If so, with what degree of credibility or certainty? What may we then conclude from, for instance, the apparent fine-tuning of the observed cosmos for cell-based life? Or, from the role that complex, code-based, functionally specific information plays in such life?
2] Cosmological origins — setting the stage for cell-based life, through
reconstructed origins of the apparently fine-tuned cosmos, galaxies and stars, and solar systems origins; associated modelling of the past of the cosmos and questions on dating and timelines. What is the key empirical evidence, and how reliable are such reconstructions and timelines?
3] The origin of life — classical and current views on Origin of Life, in light of the origination of complex functionally specific information required to create self-replicating, cell based life. The key challenge: where did functionally specific, code-based complex biological information – e.g. the genetic code, the amino acid sequences of proteins — come from?
4] The origin of biodiversity — Major historic and current views on, theories of, and models for the origin of body plan level biodiversity; issues over chance, necessity and design, and alternatives. Are “icons” of evolution and the action of chance variation and natural selection able to answer the question of where complex body-plan originating biological information comes from?
5] Origin of mind the nature and roots of mind, with associated issues on the significance of morality. Does mind reduce to neurological matter in electrochemical “motion” under forces tracing to chance and necessity? If so, what are the grounds of knowledge, reasoning and moral principles? If not, what would that imply about the nature of mind, morality and humanity?
6] Origins Science in Society — Implications of alternative views on origins of the cosmos, of life and of man for morality, policy, law and society. Since “ideas have consequences,” what are the consequences of the rise and dominance of evolutionary materialism in our civilisation? In light of the balance of the science, the opinion-shaping stories and the power-plays, what should we then do? How, why?

I trust these onward readings may help the perplexed begin to find solid footing.

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25 Responses to ID Foundations, 22: What about evolutionary trees of descent and homologies? (An answer to Jaceli123′s presentation of a typical icon of evolution . . . )

  1. A happy new year to all.

    In this new year, let us put on the table the biggie, the design inference and the framework of the theory of evolution, especially the tree of life icon and framework.

    All best

    KF

    PS: I am still open to a better response to the pro-Darwinism essay challenge first issued Sept 23, 2012.

  2. If you critically examine phylogenetics (tree of life resolutions), then you begin to see that it has many built-in methods and rescue-devices for saving it from ever being falsified. It does not “test” itself or provide any make-or-break statistical challenges. Whether it be incomplete lineage sorting or conveniently labeling a feature a homoplasy(convergent) there is practically always an ‘explanation’ for the data. It is a metaphysical statistics program, entirely based on the assumption that Common Descent *must* be true, with no rigorous criteria for falsifying that assumption.

    Which would not be so bad, except for at the same time, evolutionists turn around peddle the myth to the public that the very practice of phylogenetics would somehow break down if Common Descent were false. And in the mean-time they have all these impressive looking charts and graphs with animal pictures to put in textbooks and slideshows.

  3. LP: Circularity and self referential incoherence are major challenges faced in far too many aspects of current science on topics like this. KF

  4. PS: a 100:1 hits to comments ratio is interesting . . .

  5. And whatever happened to the evolution of protoplasm, coacervates, and DNA? You do have to start with at least these three! Plus some way to eat.

    What if one injected a variety of proteins into a coacervate and waited a long, long time? How long would it take to evolve a micro organelle? And then how long before we begin to see mitosis?

    Or maybe instead, fully formed cells sprang from the brow of Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, or somebody.

    -Q

  6. Q:

    Thaxton et al in TMLO, addressed such in Chs 8 – 10.

    I doubt such notions have been the same since.

    The “modern” major alternative is the so-called RNA world, even though some of what is needed is rather hard to synthesise or see synthesised save in a living system.

    Here is Moshe Averick’s withering assessment of the whole exercise:

    In Dawkins’ own words:

    What Science has now achieved is an emancipation from that impulse to attribute these things [[origin of life and/or its major forms] to a creator… It was a supreme achievement of the human intellect to realize there is a better explanation … that these things can come about by purely natural causes … we understand essentially how life came into being.20 (from the Dawkins-Lennox debate)

    “We understand essentially how life came into being”?! – Who understands? Who is “we”? Is it Dr. Stuart Kauffman? “Anyone who tells you that he or she knows how life started … is a fool or a knave.” 21

    Is it Dr. Robert Shapiro? “The weakest point is our lack of understanding of the origin of life. No evidence remains that we know of to explain the steps that started life here, billions of years ago.” 22

    Is it Dr. George Whitesides? “Most chemists believe as I do that life emerged spontaneously from mixtures of chemicals in the prebiotic earth. How? I have no idea… On the basis of all chemistry I know, it seems astonishingly improbable.”

    Is it Dr. G. Cairns-Smith? “Is it any wonder that [many scientists] find the origin of life to be utterly perplexing?” 23

    Is it Dr. Paul Davies? “Many investigators feel uneasy about stating in public that the origin of life is a mystery, even though behind closed doors they freely admit they are baffled … the problem of how and where life began is one of the great out-standing mysteries of science.”

    Is it Dr. Richard Dawkins? Here is how Dawkins responded to questions about the Origin of Life during an interview with Ben Stein in the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed:

    Stein: How did it start?
    Dawkins: Nobody knows how it started, we know the kind of event that it must have been, we know the sort of event that must have happened for the origin of life.
    Stein: What was that?
    Dawkins: It was the origin of the first self replicating molecule.
    Stein: How did that happen?
    Dawkins: I told you I don’t know.
    Stein: So you have no idea how it started?
    Dawkins: No, No, NOR DOES ANYONE ELSE.
    24

    “Nobody understands the origin of life, if they say they do, they are probably trying to fool you. (Dr. Ken Nealson, microbiologist and co-chairman of the Committee on the Origin and Evolution of Life for the National Academy of Sciences)

    Nobody, including Professor Dawkins, has any idea “how life came into being!” [The Design Argument: Answers to Atheists' Objections, online at Aish.com. (Especially note Dawkins' "must have been . . . " deductions from his a priori evolutionary materialism, as highlighted.)]

    No wonder we see the sort of mutual ruin that the exchange between Shapiro and Orgel reveal, on genes first vs metabolism first, cf my own 101 survey here on in context.

    But of course, there is such a belief in the wonderful powers of “natural selection” that the idea is to get it in somehow. So, some sort of far-fetched idea of a self replicating molecule is brought in by hook or crook, and somehow the difficulties of forming and keeping such going in any plausible pre life world are dismissed for the moment, as are the investigators who are designing the molecules. Shh, we know artificial selection has substituted for natural from Darwin on, but let us imagine.

    The basic problem is that what has to be accounted for is code based von Neumann self replicator facility using replication of metabolic automata with encapsulation and smart gating. Where a vNSR is irreducibly complex and the coding has to include reference to building the metabolic automaton. And that leaves out the epigenetic organisation and info . . . notice how cells grow big then split, so they pass down the cell line and a lot of its features?

    The root of the Darwinist tree of life is rotten through and through. (Hence, frankly, the reluctance of the ones challenged to take up the TOL from the roots to address this one, in an environment where the Lewontinian a priori is off the table. They know a major weak point when they scent it.)

    The point is the living cell is replete with many fdetures that have just one plausible explanation as to origin: design. Irreducible complexity in so many ways, check. FSCO/I all over the place, check. Integration of mutually dependent sub systems in a complex whole that fulfills a long range goal not evidently incrementally achievable, check. Invention of codes, thus symbols and language, in a context of creating algorithmic systems that are therefore goal directed, check. And so forth.

    Simple inference on what we can see and on what its only empirically warranted source is, points to design as a major candidate. The candidate to beat. In the other corner, what do we see?

    Mechanisms not observed to have the capacity, that are questionable on needle in haystack blind search terms, imposition of Lewontinian materialist a prioris that beg the question and artificially exclude the candidate to beat, dressed up in a confident manner and a lab coat. And so forth.

    From the root on up, design is a reasonable candidate.

    KF

  7. PS: Notice the absence of the hostile scrutineers who are always watching, ready to pounce?

    PPS: And that of the person who said he was wanting to find answers . . . ?

  8. Notice the absence of the hostile scrutineers who are always watching, ready to pounce?

    Speaking as a hostile scrutineer, I don’t want to spend Christmas and the New Year deciphering 5000 words of abstract prose. If you want opponents to read your stuff, make it clear, concrete and, above all, concise.

  9. MF:

    Ah, we see the now immortalised, “you no speaka da Inglish rite . . . ” dismissal argument. And the “I got no time . . . you gotta put it in a few words we can then strawmannise and caricature then beat up on” argument.

    Snidely clever dismissals.

    But the underlying un-addressed problem with all such is that on Sept 23, 2012, after too many exchanges had deadlocked, I said let us go to the heart of the matter and issued the invitation and challenge to produce a 6,000 word summary . . . equivalent to a 45 minute lecture . . . of the case for darwinist evolution across the full span of the tree of life, here.

    After a full year — and with a whole movement of hostile scrutiny and barbed retort out there beavering away at business as usual, attack attack attack ID as usual and attack those who dare to stand up for it as usual — there were no serious takers, and I ended up putting up a composite response here. that openly ducked OOL and provided very unsatisfactory answers on the ToL body plan level macro evo by claimed blind watchmaker mechanisms.

    In short, on the evidence in front of us, after over a year of trying to get someone, anyone serious on the other side to put up a case that would show cause for taking evolutionary materialism seriously, there was thin gruel hardly distinguishable from water.

    About like the real world would do to the claimed prebiotic soup.

    It is in that context, that I have taken time to give a response to a version of one of the icons, which Jaceli123 said troubled him. I did so largely by citation. (So, we see that you no speaka da Inglish rite holds for a whole movement, not just one person.)

    So, let me sum up the matter by citing Lewontin’s cat-out-of-the bag admission on the ideological controls at work:

    [T]he problem is to get [people] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis and notes added. If you have been led to imagine that this is "quote mined" kindly see the fuller citation and notes here.]

    . . . and clip Johnson’s retort:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    . . . then close off by posing Wells’ ten questions as toned down:

    In light of concerns and limitations of the evidence for macro-evolution, such as the above, Dr. Jonathan Wells has suggested a list of controversial questions students should bear in mind (and, if their teachers are open to it, ask). In slightly softened form:

    1] ORIGIN OF LIFE. Why do many textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life’s building blocks may have formed on the early Earth — when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?

    2] DARWIN’S TREE OF LIFE. Why don’t textbooks critically discuss the “Cambrian explosion,” in which major animal groups appear together in the fossil record fully formed instead of branching from a common ancestor — thus contradicting the root-and- gradual- branching picture given by the evolutionary tree of life?

    3] HOMOLOGY. Why do textbooks often define homology as similarity due to common ancestry, then claim that it is evidence for common ancestry — isn’t that a circular argument masquerading as evidence?

    4] VERTEBRATE EMBRYOS. Why have some textbooks up to a few years ago still used drawings of similarities in vertebrate embryos as evidence for their common ancestry — even though biologists have known for over a century that vertebrate embryos are not most similar in their early stages, and that Ernst Haeckel’s drawings are faked?

    5] ARCHAEOPTERYX. Why do some textbooks portray this fossil as the missing link between dinosaurs and modern birds — even though modern birds are probably not descended from it, and its supposed ancestors do not appear until millions of years after it?

    6] PEPPERED MOTHS. Why do some textbooks use pictures of peppered moths camouflaged on tree trunks as evidence for natural selection — when biologists have known since the 1980s that the moths don’t normally rest on tree trunks, and all the pictures have been staged?

    7] DARWIN’S FINCHES. Why do some textbooks claim that beak changes in Galapagos finches during a severe drought can explain the origin of species by natural selection — even though the changes were reversed after the drought ended, and no net evolution occurred?

    8] MUTANT FRUIT FLIES. Why do some textbooks use fruit flies with an extra pair of wings as evidence that DNA mutations can supply raw materials for evolution — even though the extra wings have no muscles and these disabled mutants cannot survive outside the laboratory?

    9] HUMAN ORIGINS. Why are artists’ drawings of ape-like humans commonly used to justify materialistic claims that we are just animals and our existence is a mere accident — when fossil experts cannot even agree on who our supposed ancestors were or what they looked like?

    10] EVOLUTION A FACT? Why are we sometimes told that Darwin’s theory of evolution is a scientific “fact” — even though (a) we cannot actually directly observe the remote past as it actually was, (b) many of the claims are arguably based on the assumption that “blind watchmaker” evolution is true, or (c) on facts that could also be effectively explained based on common design?

    Of course, such questions are provocative, and while they should be borne in mind, they should only be raised respectfully, and with due caution . . .

    None of these is by that alleged Ja’can dialect speaker of Inglish as a foreign language.

    Let us hear you or another design critic respond to those points.

    And, will some one or more of the darwinist busy beavers find a few hours or days to pull together an essay that can address the full gamut of the ToL, with evidence, observations and reasoning strong enough to stand the test of open discussion in a context not controlled by Lewontin’s a priori materialism?

    The offer to host such an essay here at UD still stands.

    KF

    PS: Onlookers, if there was a solid observationally well grounded case as is implied, one that could stand the sort of scrutiny we discussed, it would be trumpeted far and wide, loud and clear all over the Internet, with easy linked indexes, slide shows and videos aplenty. There would be 50 word summaries, 500 word abstracts, 750 word columns, and 3,000 – 6,000 word essays; you would stumble over them every time you did a web search on any remotely relevant topic. Wikipedia’s articles on abiogenesis and on evolution would not be so vulnerable as the in-thread critiques I have linked in the OP overnight will show, and people would not be pointing to the flawed Talk Origins site and Theobald’s articles as if they were a gold standard. We would not be hearing, go and read Darwin, 150 years later. That is, the fact of reluctance to step up to the crease and face the bowling visible since Sept 23, 2012 speaks loud volumes.

  10. PPS: If you go to the OP, you will see that it starts by citing . . . Lewontin.

  11. MF:

    Speaking as a hostile scrutineer…

    LoL! You can’t even support your own position, Mark. Not one of the alleged “scrutineers” can.

  12. Kairos

    “… still open to a better response to the pro-Darwinism essay challenge first issued Sept 23, 2012…”

    How can they refuse such offer? Hopefully one of pro-Darwinists put it on his New Year’s resolution.

  13. Thanks guys recently JLfan2001 told me that darwinian evolution is a fact and that ID and creationists are all people who hold in to their faith in god. He then said stop the questions and just dump it! He said he used to be a christian but is now a evolutionist and materialist. I told him I was not going to dumb anything! Im not in trouble I just have questions. Denis Nobles presentation on Neo-Darwinism is great and answered many of my questions. Not a exact or direct quote from Denis but pretty close: “the tree of life or phylogenetic tree is not a tree but a example of horizontal gene transfer” any way thanks a lot I really appreciate it!

  14. By the way I was also referring to the picture below the human evolution.

  15. J1:

    There is an old saying that any fool can ask more questions than the wisest philosopher can answer.

    So, let us focus.

    Besides, above I have in outline dealt with the grand framework narrative and major icon, the tree of life from its roots in OOL, leading up to the “culmination,” the line leading to us. That is a major reason I picked this particular diagram to address, as it is sufficiently global to be relevant to design theory concerns.

    I will however add that the assertion that Darwinian evo is a “fact” exploits a definitional slip-slide.

    There are minor changes in organisms that have been classified as Darwinian evo, things that are well within the FSCO/I limit of interest, they do not address body plans. In that sense the mechanisms can arguably be claimed to have been supported by observations.

    But “Evolution” is a very elastic word and usually the way “evo is a fact is used,” it is meant to apply to the grand tree of life from microbes to man macro evo narrative.

    That deals with the purported deep past of origins, which is simply not open to observation.

    No one has actually observed evo of a major body plan feature by arguably Darwinian mechanisms or any similar mechanism held to account for macro level body plan origin evo. Do not let gross extrapolations form Finch beak lengths or moth wing colour or the like mislead you. They have not seen the origin of birds or even Finches. They have not seen the origin of moths. It is what is seen that is a fact, not what is inferred or modelled.

    A theory that claims to explain the traces of the past we did not and cannot see, cannot be a fact. It is an explanatory model, a framework of thought.

    The confusion is as wrong as to start from apples falling and moons orbiting and infer an equation held to apply universally then claim that theories of origin of our solar system that use those findings are indisputable facts. (Such history of solar system theories are actually seriously open to debate as we speak.)

    Falling objects and inferred gravitation in action in accord with various laws, is operations science, studying he world around us based on observations. Highly speculative origins science historical models about condensing clouds of interstellar dust and gas that give rise to the Sol system, are NOT of and cannot be of, the same degree of warrant. And to use “fact” for such would be a travesty, a crime against language and reason.

    Unfortunately, that is in effect what is done routinely with the origins stories for the world of life. And as Lewontin has inadvertently publicly and prominently documented, there is an ideological lock-in that begs big questions. That is what Johnson quite rightly rebuked, and you need to work your way through both statements, to see the concerns that are at work.

    Still worse, is the tendency to hold that the consensus of scientists in any given time on such a thing is so firm that it is properly called a fact.

    That is a thinly disguised appeal to the collective authority of a particular school of thought in our time, one that is demonstrably deeply ideologised . . . that is why I have repeatedly highlighted that key clip from Lewontin, the most well known outright statement of that ideological bias. (Resemblance to what Galileo faced with the Aristotelian thinkers on staff with him in university, is not coincidental.)

    So, JLA, if you have accurately summarised what he asserted, has misled you, and has spoken what is not justified or justifiable. Which, frankly, on his track record here at UD, would not be surprising. Sadly.

    So, I suggest that you take time to actually follow up and think through some pivotal cases.

    My best advice to you if you are not technically minded is go get Wells’ book (as is mentioned above, and you can see a preview as linked) and read it, to understand the limitations of what you have been told. After that, I suggest you read Meyer’s Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt, for more in-depth understanding on key points. Beyond, you may want to try watching Privileged Planet, and maybe reading the book. The video is probably accessible at Youtube and is about one hour. Strobel’s The Case for a Creator is about the same length and will give an overview at simple 101 level. That too is accessible online. (More important, as you are speaking of atheism, would be have a look at Strobel’s The Case for Christ as a first glance. There are other resources out there including some I have developed. If you want to address the worldviews question, maybe look here on.)

    Others may have suggestions and those who object to design thought will doubtless have their own suggestions. On that, I suggest that you have already had courses that give you a feel for the conventional view. before trying to address ins and outs of a debate that is still in progress, hear the Design side out at sufficient length to understand what we are about.

    But most of all, you need to equip yourself to think for your self, from ground up. Do not expect that others will simply tell you what to believe and follow blindly. That is why I point to a primer on building a worldview foundation, starting from the Apostle Paul at Mars Hill, Athens, Greece.

    In short, you have a job to do, to find a way to stand on your own two intellectual feet and not be like a little boat at the mercy of wind and waves. (And yes, I am deliberately echoing Eph 4:9 – 24.)

    A happy new year.

    KF

  16. Thanks kairosfocus and happy new year to you.

  17. Dr Selensky: Thanks for thoughts. The fact is, Darwinists spent a year ducking, dodging, trying to go over to attack ID as usual, decrying the essay suggestions . . . I am open to reasonable adjustments . . . and anything but a straightforward answer. That speaks volumes. KF

  18. PS: OT, I am trying to get a copy of vol 2 of Savelyev’s General Physics vol 2 in English . . . I have 1, 3 and the probs set. A nice survey. Mir seems to have gone out of business, 2009. Any ideas? Also, could ebook versions of select books be brought out, say by scanning? KF

  19. Jaceli123,

    I have added some further links to onward readings that may be helpful to you and others.

    I must remind on the lists of sites and links you have been cutting into several UD threads to raise, that there is such a thing as the fallacy of elephant hurling. For, sheer does not make up for want of cogent substance on vexed topics; especially if there is a pattern of red herrings led away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and set alight through snide or incendiary rhetoric to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere, distracting form what is central.

    Therefore, I strongly suggest instead focussing on something pivotal and following it through, such as I have begun in the original post.

    Study soundly on the tree of life from its roots up, and you will begin to see what is really going on and what is really not going on.

    Let’s just say that the reluctance over the course of a year on the part of design objectors to address this subject solidly and substantially, even in the face of an open invitation, speaks volumes.

    Start from the root of the tree, origin of life.

    KF

  20. Jaceli123

    I fear you are unlikely to listen to me because I am an “evolutionary materialist” but I will try.

    1) Your sceptical attitude is great – keep it up – but apply it to everything you hear from all sources.

    2) Beware flowery abstract prose. It is a sign that the writer is hiding something – quite possibly from him or herself. A native English speaker who knows what they are talking about can express the fundamentals of most things in plain English (the exception being technical subjects such as physics).

    Best of luck with your studies – please try to keep a truly open mind.

  21. MF is right- if skeptics applied their skepticism equally they would be true skeptics. However, as we have seen from the skeptical zone, evos never apply their skepticism equally…

  22. A native English speaker who knows what they are talking about can express the fundamentals of most things in plain English

    Absolutely true. This is a basic premise of ID. Those who support ID have been asking for a plain English explanation of naturalistic evolution for years and no one has ever answered the question in plain English.

    The reason? An answer does not exist.

  23. MF:

    Pardon, but I must beg to differ.

    I think there is a considerable difference between skepticism (which is usually an intellectual vice pretending to be a virtue — if I can doubt, I can dismiss . . . especially selectively) and being critically aware and seeking good grounding of one’s thought and worldviews in light of basic principles of right reason.

    Easily come by, scoffingly dismissive doubt such as runs riot on all sides today is one thing, reasonable doubt quite another; doubt honestly and honourably acquired after doing justice to duties of care to accuracy, truth, fairness, warrant and conscience. (That is, there are things we do know, and there are things we SHOULD know but are too often prone to inappropriately dismiss.)

    On this art of basic straight thinking, B1 above as added to the OP is a primer.

    And at more sophisticated level I have pointed here on at I1.

    B2 will help to deal with the oh so ever-present spin game.

    B3, with straight thinking about science.

    Secondly, as you full well know, there are ever so many issues that so soon as one has to address debate talking points or look beyond the most superficial level, technicalities arise.

    For instance, I will shortly have to deal with your recent suggestion that there are causeless, random events.

    You full well know as well, that here at UD you have ever so many times raised abstruse technicalities to evade dealing with things that in the end, after many technicalities, come back to pretty much where common sense was in the first place.

    The latest being, what is chance and such like.

    So, a sounder counsel is that there are basics which one should attend to first, given their foundational nature.

    In so doing, one should beware that the most profound things may lurk just next door to such, and that clever rhetors often exploit that to dance away from where they do not wish to go. (A classic being the now infamous remark that something depended on what the meaning of is, is.)

    A further sound counsel is that there is often a conventional wisdom that dominates thought in given times, places and institutions, but that is not to be confused with its being true.

    And in an era of such intellectual upheaval and fundamental controversy as our own, if one wants to stand on his or her own intellectual feet, then one will have to address worldview foundational matters starting from first self evident principles of right reason. (The meat of I1 as I added to the OP today.)

    But then, having recently been a part of prolonged contentions with you on that subject of self evident first principles of right reason . . . involving also several other highly informed people, I know you wish to be skeptically dismissive of such. To which, I answer, in so doing, you undercut the basis for reason itself, much less reasonable knowledge claims and claims to following sound principles of science, especially regarding origins.

    For that matter, DV, I will shortly have to take you up on the record on the notion of causeless events, even as I have had to take you up only a few days ago regarding the mind-closing implications of your a priori materialism. The a priorism you have wished to use to reduce design to blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    In that context, talking points such as “you no speaka da Inglish rite” and “oh you are speaking in tiresome abstractions” etc — with all due respect — come across as little more than snide sophistry.

    Yes, there may be point where inelegant expression could be improved, and there may be places where things could be clearer put or more concisely, but the substantial points from ever so many, are more than clear enough. And, as can be seen from say VJT, SB and GP, among others, once the talking point storms start up, things get more technical real fast.

    Typically, due to distractive, selectively hyperskeptical and too often in the end pointless objections to concepts in design thought.

    What is chance, what is design, what is function, what is intelligence, what is an intelligent agent and more have cropped up again and again. I recall even an attempt to distinguish alphabetic and digital as though alphabets are not discrete state symbol systems that therefore can be represented using binary digital codes [cf Unicode], etc ,etc. Objections that the genetic code is not a code come to mind also. And much more like that.

    Where, finally, I note that Jaceli123, just as the rest of us, will have to deal with the problem of two types of ignorance:

    Type 1 — primary, simple ignorance as a little child has,

    Type 2 — secondary, due to the en-darkening effect of ideological indoctrination through the false light of some Plato’s cave shadow show or other.

    (The case of the collapse of Marxism Leninism in the years leading up to the early 1990′s being a classic in point; the dupes of this system often quite insistently THOUGHT they knew and were very dismissive of the “unscientific” bourgeois-dominated thinking of those who doubted their inevitable system driven by the dialectics of materialism. Until it fell apart with a crash.)

    So, since Jaceli123 has found him- or her- self tossed in the deep end of dangerous, riptide haunted, shark-infested waters, I think there is need to toss a life-ring.

    I hope such, starting with B1 – 3, will be helpful.

    KF

  24. kairosfocus @ 6
    Thank you, that was very helpful! I just downloaded the linked PDF of The Mystery of Life’s Origin that your provided. It looks great!

    Thanks also for your other posts and the time it took to compose them. Causeless events are right up there with massless elephants and kosher ham. ;-)

    -Q

  25. Q: Appreciated. KF

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