A Darwinist responds to KF’s challenge
|March 11, 2014||Posted by vjtorley under Intelligent Design|
It has been more than a year since kairosfocus posted his now-famous challenge on Uncommon Descent, inviting Darwinists to submit an essay defending their views. A Darwinist named Petrushka has recently responded, over at The Skeptical Zone. (Petrushka describes himself as a Darwinist in a fairly broad sense of the term: he accepts common descent as a result of gradual, unguided change, which includes not only changes occurring as a result of natural selection but also neutral change.)
The terms of the original challenge issued by kairosfocus were as follows:
Compose your summary case for darwinism (or any preferred variant that has at least some significant support in the professional literature, such as punctuated equilibria etc) in a fashion that is accessible to the non-technical reader — based on empirical evidence that warrants the inference to body plan level macroevolution — in up to say 6,000 words [a chapter in a serious paper is often about that long]. Outgoing links are welcome so long as they do not become the main point. That is, there must be a coherent essay, with
(i) an intro,
(ii) a thesis,
(iii) a structure of exposition,
(iv) presentation of empirical warrant that meets the inference to best current empirically grounded explanation [–> IBCE] test for scientific reconstructions of the remote past,
(v) a discussion and from that
(vi) a warranted conclusion.
Your primary objective should be to show in this way, per IBCE, why there is no need to infer to design from the root of the Darwinian tree of life — cf. Smithsonian discussion here – on up (BTW, it will help to find a way to resolve the various divergent trees), on grounds that the Darwinist explanation, as extended to include OOL, is adequate to explain origin and diversification of the tree of life. A second objective of like level is to show how your thesis is further supported by such evidence as suffices to warrant the onward claim that is is credibly the true or approximately true explanation of origin and body-plan level diversification of life; on blind watchmaker style chance variation plus differential reproductive success, starting with some plausible pre-life circumstance.
It would be helpful if in that essay you would outline why alternatives such as design, are inferior on the evidence we face.
Here is Petrushka’s reply:
Evolution is the better model because it can be right or wrong, and its rightness or wrongness can be tested by observation and experiment.
For evolution to be true, molecular evolution must be possible. The islands of function must not be separated by gaps greater than what we observe in the various kinds of mutation. This is a testable proposition.
For evolution to be true, the fossil record must reflect sequential change. This is a testable proposition.
For evolution to be true, the earth must be old enough to have allowed time for these sequential changes. This is a testable proposition.
Evolution has entailments. It is the only model that has entailments. It is either right or wrong, and that is a necessary attribute of any theory or hypothesis.
Evolution is a better model for a second reason. It seeks regularities.
Regularity is the set of physical causes that includes uniform processes, chaos, complexity, stochastic events, and contingency. Regularity can include physical laws, mathematical expressions that predict relationships among phenomena. Regularity can include unpredictable phenomena, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, turbulence, and the single toss of dice.
Regularity can include unknown causes, as it did when the effects of radiation were first observed. It includes currently mysterious phenomena such as dark matter and energy. The principle has been applied to the study of psychic phenomena.
Regularity can include design, so long as one can talk about the methods and capabilities of the designer. One can study spider webs and bird nests and crime scenes and ancient pottery, because one can observe the agents producing the designed objects.
The common threads in all of science are the search for regularities and the insistence that models must have entailments, testable implications. Evolution is the only theory meeting these criteria.
One could assert that evolution is true, but it is more important to say it is a testable model. That is the minimum requirement to be science.
My references are the peer-reviewed literature. We can take them one by one, if kairosfocus deems it necessary to claim the publishing journals have overlooked errors of fact or interpretation.
To make Dembski’s explanatory filter relevant, one must demonstrate that natural history is insufficient. So I will entertain ID arguments that can cite the actual history of the origin of life and point out the place where intervention was required or where some deviation from regular process occurred.
Same for complex structures such as flagella. Cite the actual history and point out where a saltation event occurred.
Or cite any specific reproductive event in the history of life and point out the discontinuity between generations.
If CSI or any of its variants are to be cited, please discuss whether different living things have different quantities of CSI. For example, does a human have more CSI than a mouse? Than an insect? Than an onion? Please show your calculation.
Alternatively, discuss whether a variant within a species can be shown to have more or less CSI than another variant. Perhaps a calculation of the CSI in Lenski’s bacteria before and after adaptation.
These are just proposed examples. Any specific calculation would be acceptable, provided it can provide a direct demonstration of different quantities of CSI in different organisms.
In his original challenge, kairosfocus promised:
I will give you two full days of comments before I post any full post level response; though others at UD will be free to respond in their own right.
So let’s hear it from viewers. What do readers think?