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A Sermon by Jerry Coyne on Biogeography

It is remarkable that people pay evolutionist Jerry Coyne to indoctrinate their children according to his dogmatic religious beliefs. But they do, and he does. And the University of Chicago biology professor has now enshrined evolution’s theological convictions in his new book, Why Evolution is True, for all to see. Here is one example:

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121 Responses to A Sermon by Jerry Coyne on Biogeography

  1. As Sober explains, the important evolutionary point here is not that the probability of the evidence on evolution is high, but rather that the probability of the evidence on creation is low—real low.

    I think not. I suspect the point that Sober is making is the comparative likeihood of common descent over creation is mcuh higher. Both likelihoods need to be taken into account.

    Your theme in this and other posts seems to be that the likelihood of what we observe (whether it be cladistics or biogeography) given creation depends on your religious assumptions. In a sense this is true. With carefully chosen religious assumptions you can make the likelihood of any observed outcome as high as you wish. You can assume that God made it look like common descent (just as you can assume that God made it look like there is genetic code based on DNA). But under almost any other assumption about God’s intentions and abilities then the likelihood compared to common descent drops like a stone.

    You then turn on those that dismiss the idea that God fiddled the data and accuse them of the religious assumption that “God did not fiddle the data to look like Common Descent”. This is a religious assumption to the same extent that every time we look for a natural explanation of a observed pattern we assume that God didn’t purposely fix the data. Maybe there is a genetic code based on DNA or mabe God caused the X-ray diffraction results and other data to make it look that way. Maybe plate tectonics is true. Or maybe God just made it look like plate tectonics is true. In each case is it a religious assumption to ignore the second possibility?

  2. Cornelius,

    I must admit that the location of apparent fossil ancestors in the location of today’s creatures especially in the Australian context seems to me to be compelling evidence that there is a genetic relationship between the fossils and today’s animals.

    If this is correct then it is not very likely that the fossils were laid down in a world wide flood. What am I missing? I don’t see this as having anything to do with theology.

  3. What’s religious about this? There are no religious assumptions on Coyne’s part, at least not in the passage you quoted (and I am assuming that if you had a better example, you would have quoted that instead).

  4. It is a fact that armadillo fossils are found only in the Americas, and that kangaroo fossils are only found in Australia. These are not unsupported religious assumptions – these are observable facts. Evolution is based on such observable facts, and is not a religion.

    The religious view is that armadillos somehow swam from Mount Ararat to the Americas in 2347 BC, and that kangaroos somehow swam from Mount Ararat to Australia in 2347 BC. These unsupportable assumptions are based on religion, with no objective observations to back them up.

    One of these views is based on science, and the other is based on religion. How can evolution be confused with religion?

  5. 5

    I think you people are missing Hunter’s point. He’s criticising the way creationism is being cast in Coyne’s argument, namely, in a very extreme form, on the basis of which you can already tell that it is not very likely going to be true. Coyne is so convinced that Darwinian evolution is true that he can’t envisage a minimum point of testable difference with alternative theories but rather imagines that opponents must hold a wildly different and preposterous view. And of course, Coyne probably excludes his creationist straw man with his evidence — but not much else that might be considered legitimate opposition to Darwinism, even given his own examples.

    In this respect, Coyne is like the theologian who automatically imagines that people who don’t share his faith are either evil or stupid — i.e. profoundly different in intellectual makeup from himself. Such a theologian is rightly called ‘dogmatic’ because he can’t envisage a legitimate ground for disagreement that does justice to the opponent’s views.

  6. Steve Fuller (4),

    “He’s criticising the way creationism is being cast in Coyne’s argument, namely, in a very extreme form, on the basis of which you can already tell that it is not very likely going to be true.”

    But it ISN’T true. It claims the Earth is 6000 years old. That is

  7. Ah, I see that your are recycling some 2006 material, Cornelius:

    Twenty five years ago evolutionist Douglas Futuyma wrote that “The molelike and wolflike animals of Australia are marsupials, clearly related to each other, because only marsupial ancestors had reached Australia.” [3] Once again, forcing the evidence into the evolution paradigm failed as a few years later placental fossil species were discovered in Australia.

    Now for the “new” post:

    In his book Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution Douglas Futuyma wrote that “The molelike and wolflike animals of Australia are marsupials, clearly related to each other, because only marsupial ancestors had reached Australia.” Once again, forcing the evidence into the evolution paradigm failed as a few years later placental fossil species were discovered in Australia.

    Very eco-friendly. Well, except for the wasted electricity and all that. But anyway…

    Basically, you’re picking on Futuyama for not being able to see into the future when he wrote the 1st edition of that book back in the early Eighties. He can’t be rightly accused of forcing the evidence when there wasn’t any evidence for him to force and wouldn’t be for years to come, as you so helpfully pointed out.

    But actually, you’ve got that wrong too: a fossil bat was found in 1982, probably round about the time Futuyama was writing (given that it was released in 1983), but, well, it was a bat and one related to European species so it’s pretty obvious that it flew to Australia. Also, not really a candidate for overthrowing the Marsupial Overlords of the Ancient Outback, so nothing to force there even assuming Futuyama knew about it before his book went to press. But, yeah, all the other placental fossils were years in the future.

    So, anyone want to guess what happened after those future fossils were found? Scientists started rethinking the old picture. What ever is the matter with those people?

    Chronology aside, so far, the Australian placental fossils only represent a few species (two bats and a small rodent and also a diminutive little creature for which only a single tooth is certain), and for the most part are known from just a few bits and pieces at very specific sites (the 1982 bat is the exception), so it’s hardly like everything known about Australian natural history was suddenly invalidated. It’s a fantastic stretch to think that invalidation would extend to evolutionary theory itself.

  8. Creationism is hard-pressed to explain these patterns: to do so, it would have to propose that there were an endless number of successive extinctions and creations all over the world, and that each set of newly created species were made to resemble older ones that lived in the same place.

    Well, he has a point. It is as great a mistake to demand that the Bible be accepted as dogmatically true with regard to observations of nature as it is for undirected evolution to be accepted as such.

    The moral teachings of scripture are a completely different subject, of course, as are reports of observed historical events.

    And yes you can be a YECer and still a quite reasonable person and good scientist just so long as you don’t distort (or make up) data to fit your view or require such data that contradicts your view to be hidden.

  9. 9
    William J. Murray

    Mark Frank says: “With carefully chosen religious assumptions you can make the likelihood of any observed outcome as high as you wish.”

    Also, with carefully chosen evolutionary stories, you can make the likelihood of any observed outcome as high as you wish.

  10. 10
    William J. Murray

    Claiming that a particular kind of intelligence (with particular motives, ability, aesthetics, etc.) is contra-indicated by the evidence, is the same as saying that a particular kind of common descent evolution (the gradualistic tree)is contra-indicated by the evidence.

    So?

  11. Here is a minor aside because it has to do with biogeography. The following quote was made 34 years before the OOS and while Darwin was a teenager.

    “The individuals of a genus strike out over the continents, move to far-distant places, form varieties (on account of the difference of the localities, of the food and the soil), which owing to their segregation (geographical isolation) cannot interbreed with other varieties and thus be returned to the original main type. Finally, these varieties become constant and turn into separate species. Later they may again reach the range of other varieties which have changed in a like manner, and the two will now no longer cross and thus they behave as two very different species.”

    Why isn’t this man credited with a major role in the evolution debate. He is essentially expressing the natural selection argument in 1825 for the formation of new species due to geographical isolation and new environments. His name is Leopold von Buch.

  12. The Darwinist, like the YEC’s, who I assume Coyne means, are adamant in their interpretation of evolutionary data. There is no give as we see here on this site all the time. The anti ID people here are caricatures. It is impossible to have a rational conversation with them because they must defend their dogma to the hilt and as such make those who disagree with them look bad. Sort of like some religious zealots.

  13. idnet.com.au,

    If this is correct then it is not very likely that the fossils were laid down in a world wide flood. What am I missing? I don’t see this as having anything to do with theology.

    The religious premise that Coyne holds is that a Designer would not have arranged the fossils in the particular patterns we observe today (such as they are).

    For example, here’s the Tim Berra quote that Cornelius cites: “if special creation were really how things came to be, there would be no reason for species on volcanic islands to resemble the inhabitants of the nearest land mass.”
    Berra is clearly making a religious claim here—he’s telling us what God would or would not have done.

    This is important, because without this type of religious premise, Darwinism would be dead in the water. If we found two populations of birds, say, one on a volcanic island and one on a nearby mainland, which appeared to be closely related based on morphology or genetic evidence, we could not deduce that they are related by common ancestry without Coyne’s religious assumption.

  14. Dr. Hunter,

    You clearly have issues with the standard evolutionary perspectives on biogeography. What then are your own views on biogeography and, say for example, the Australian fauna? I didn’t find any alternative explanations offered in your piece. Or do you not have any?

  15. Mr Jerry,

    I don’t read natural selection in that quote of von Buch. I do see radiation and geographic isolation, but not selection.

  16. Herb: “This is important, because without this type of religious premise, Darwinism would be dead in the water. If we found two populations of birds, say, one on a volcanic island and one on a nearby mainland, which appeared to be closely related based on morphology or genetic evidence, we could not deduce that they are related by common ancestry without Coyne’s religious assumption.”

    Calling these assumptions “religious” is really like saying that anybody’s presuppositions are religious in nature. We could easily do the same with IC. I could say that beacuse a person applies CSE and explanatory filters to a artifact such as the flagellum and the concludes that it is IC, the reason they do this is because of a prior religious assumption that they accept the concepts of IC, CSI etc. What’s the difference? Yes, perhaps evolutionists may bring certain presuppositions to the the table, but so do the ID supporters – and in fact who doesn’t? Everybody’s religious then, so what?

    Besides, I thought most of the people liked religious things ;-)

  17. Dr. Hunter’s point is clear and easily understood: Claims of what a Creator/Designer would or would not do are metaphysical/religious in character. To base a conclusion on such a premise renders that conclusion a religious one.

  18. When reading OOS, you can’t help but be struck with Darwin’s constant invocation of “special creation”. This is both a straw man argument, and, basically, no more an argument than saying: “Special Creation can’t explain biodiversity.” Well, so what! But does this observation then render all of what Darwin proposes correct? Absolutely not. But Darwin surely thinks that it does. So here, in the OOS, we have an argument that spells out all kinds of “difficulties” the theory must overcome, but which is to be accepted simply because some straw man version of what some religionists consider to have occurred seems even MORE ‘difficult’ to accept. It really is a wonder that Darwinism ever got off the ground.

    jerry: That’s a great quote. Where does it come from?

    Mr. Nakashima: Indeed, the quote jerry includes does not invoke natural selection. But doesn’t this then mean that speciation can take place without the intervention of NS? von Buch’s observation possibly gives the correct view of “creation”: that it was both ‘specific’—the various ‘genera’ were created—and ‘aspecific’, in that the direction in which ‘speciation’ takes place is predicated not on any preset format, but by the interaction of the organisms with their particular environments (likely interacting with a preset format).

  19. “I don’t read natural selection in that quote of von Buch.”

    You have to be blind not to see the same idea. A species goes into a new environment and changes due to the environment. It is adapting to the environment. Hello. Does that ring a bell somewhere.

    It is exactly the same idea just not Darwin’s words which were based on artificial selection. Von Buch had greater vision because he foresaw gene flow which is when he said they don’t meet any of the old gang so they cannot revert. I mean this is 40 years pre Mendel and 90 years pre Morgan.

    Fantastic Insight. And Charlie knew about von Buch and what he said. All Charlie did was add some Razzle Dazzle and have a choir singing his tune. Charlie ran a massive PR campaign for his ideas which turned out basically wrong and the good parts were borrowed.

  20. JTaylor,

    Calling these assumptions “religious” is really like saying that anybody’s presuppositions are religious in nature. We could easily do the same with IC. I could say that beacuse a person applies CSE and explanatory filters to a artifact such as the flagellum and the concludes that it is IC, the reason they do this is because of a prior religious assumption that they accept the concepts of IC, CSI etc. What’s the difference?

    Cornelius is not simply talking about presuppositions here, he’s referring to specific statements Coyne and others make concerning the actions and intent of God. If you read the Berra quote again, you will see he is saying that if Earth and its fauna are God’s Creation, He would have no reason to put “similar” species near each other. That’s clearly a religious claim.

    Besides, I thought most of the people liked religious things ;-)

    Heh—I made the same objection myself to Cornelius’ argument at first! Now that I see what he is saying, and how he is using the term “religious”, I no longer have a problem with it.

  21. Pav,

    If you go to

    http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/....._BARO.html

    You will see reference to a treatise on the Canary Islands. This is the publication.

    It is quoted by various people and shows up in Google books a couple times. Put the first 8-10 words of the quote in google and you will get hits on some places it is quoted.

  22. jerry,

    A species goes into a new environment and changes due to the environment. It is adapting to the environment. Hello. Does that ring a bell somewhere.

    that sounds more like Lamarck than natural selection.. I do see the idea of adaptation there, but not via natural selection.

  23. “What then are your own views on biogeography and, say for example, the Australian fauna?”

    Well what are the alternatives since gradualism doesn’t do it? We have a mystery.

  24. Nakashima and khan,

    The blind leading the blind. Here a prime example of the anti ID person willing to say anything if it contradicts what a pro ID person says. Von Buch is being given credit for first noticing allopatric speciation and we have the RFD’s reflexively complaining.

  25. jerry,
    do you understand the difference between speciation and natural selection?

  26. jerry,
    for that matter, do you understand gradualism? here’s a simple question to gauge whether you do or not: does Gould’s idea of punctuated equlibria concern micro- or macro-evolution (by your definitions)?

  27. Herb: “Cornelius is not simply talking about presuppositions here, he’s referring to specific statements Coyne and others make concerning the actions and intent of God. If you read the Berra quote again, you will see he is saying that if Earth and its fauna are God’s Creation, He would have no reason to put “similar” species near each other. That’s clearly a religious claim.”

    But these statements that Coyne, Berra and others are making are in response to Creationist ideas, which by definition are religious ideas. I don’t think they themselves are making religious claims but are trying to point out some of the implications of the Creationist position. I don’t know the religious positions of Coyne and Berra but it’s quite possible that neither of them even have a belief in God at all, but are merely postulating that if God was the creator there are at best some puzzling anomalies in the way the creation was carried out.

  28. Khan,

    Yes I do. Do you? You confused Lamarck with natural selection and you are questioning what I know. Darwin endorsed Lamarck or have you forgot. Lamarck is about how genetic material is inherited. Natural selection is about which offspring survive. Different concepts.

    Capice?

    As far as Gould’s ideas, i will leave it to up to wiser heads than you to be the decider on this issue.

    But if you want to inform us all, go ahead and provide an essay on gradualism so we can all understand what you think it is. If you want to include punctuated equilibrium too, be my guest but see the next post as to what Jerry Coyne thinks.

  29. Jerry Coyne’s thoughts on punctuated equilibrium:

    “In the past 25 years, Eldredge and Gould have proposed so many different versions of their theory that it is difficult to describe it with any accuracy. Initially, punctuated equilibrium theory described an ubiquitous pattern of morphological stasis in fossil lineages, interrupted by rare but rapid bursts of change that accompanied the splitting of lineages (speciation). These rapid changes were also said to be random with respect to long-term evolutionary trends, which were caused by the differential persistence of species having different traits (1).

    Our concern as evolutionary geneticists (2) has been with Eldredge and Gould’s repeated revisions of the mechanisms proposed for stasis and rapid evolution. Punctuated equilibrium originally attracted great attention because it invoked distinctly non-Darwinian mechanisms for stasis and change (3). These mechanisms were said to decouple macroevolution from microevolution, leading to Gould’s pronouncement that “if Mayr’s characterization of the synthetic theory [of evolution] is accurate, then that theory, as a general proposition, is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy” (4, p. 120). Yet many evolutionists saw no obvious contradiction between punctuated pattern and Darwinian process: Stasis can result from stabilizing selection (for example, long periods of environmental stability); rapid evolution can result from selection-driven responses to sudden environmental change or invasion of new habitats; and the association of morphological change with speciation can result from the fact that both are promoted by adaptation to new environments (5).

    Eldredge and Gould originally ascribed stasis to developmental constraints: Organisms could not respond to selection because their developmental programs were inherently resistant to change (1, (3, (4, (6). This non-Darwinian explanation, which was severely criticized (5), was supplanted by the notion (7). that species show morphological stasis because their constituent populations adapt to diverse local habitats, resulting in no net change in the “average” phenotype of the species. This idea is inconsistent with their view that developmental constraints often prevent adaptive change.

    Gould and Eldredge now suggest that stasis may be caused by species tracking their habitats as the environment changes [an idea proposed earlier by Maynard Smith (8)], which is a form of stabilizing selection. They also appeal to Sewall Wright’s shifting balance theory of evolution, suggesting that a species composed of partially isolated populations cannot evolve as a unit. This suggestion appears to be a misinterpretation of Wright’s theory, which he consistently presented as a mechanism for adaptive transformation of an entire species (9). Partial isolation of populations resulting from spatial separation does not preclude favorable or neutral mutations from spreading through an entire species (10). The suggestion by Eldredge and Gould that “[g]enetic theory should have explicitly predicted stasis in numerically rich species” contradicts theoretical arguments showing that natural selection is most effective in large populations (11) and does not account for abundant evidence from artificial selection experiments confirming this prediction (12).

    Eldredge and Gould have proposed an equally diverse array of explanations for rapid “punctuated” evolution. It was initially ascribed to the breakdown of developmental constraints in small, speciating populations (a non-Darwinian process) (1) and later to the occurrence of single mutations with large effects (including homeotic mutations) or to chromosome rearrangements affecting gene expression (3, (4, (6). Gould, for example, asserted (4), p. 127)

    I envisage a potential saltational origin for the essential features of key adaptations. Why may we not imagine that gill arch bones of an ancestral agnathan moved forward in one step to surround the mouth and form proto-jaws?

    But Gould and Eldredge later said (13), p. 226; see also(10), p. 66) that “Opponents now accept that punctuated equilibrium was never meant as a saltational theory… .” Yet even this statement was later qualified. Commenting on the experiments of Elena et al. in E. coli (14), which showed punctuated change in cell size resulting from sporadic mutations of large effect, Gould noted that these results are “deeply similar to [punctuated equilibrium]. There is an underlying commonality in the style of change” (14),. Eldredge and Gould now appear to see no connection between punctuated equilibrium and the results of Elena et al.

    Eldredge and Gould’s disclaimer about the role of species selection in punctuated equilibrium theory (our attribution of this idea to Elena et al. was a typographical error) is not consistent with their numerous published statements that species selection is a major engine of macroevolution (4); p. 119; see also (3, 6).

    If a scientific theory is to be of any value as a tool for exploring the real world, it must have some stability as a set of propositions open to empirical test. Punctuated equilibrium has undergone so many transformations that it is hard to distinguish its core of truth from the “statement that morphological evolution sometimes occurs episodically.”"

  30. Like Mark Frank already said, one can comparatively test two hypotheses against eachother. Under an ID paradigm, there IS no reason to expect any pattern (re e.g. fossils) more than one should expect any other. The likelihood of one pattern is just as low as any other. Under evolution, however, one can independently verify the assumpions one uses to test one’s hypothesis. For example, continental drift can be tested without checking a single fossil. One can, for example, check the distribution of rocks or, heck, even measure the changing distance between two stationary objects. The likelihood that the pattern of fossils is due to evolutionary processes is, therefore, higher.

    There is no theology here, just bayesianism.

    (Have some of the evolutionists Cornelius quotes used “religious assumptions”? Some of them could be read that way (e.g. Dodson), but not all (e.g. Mayr, Futuyma). Instead of claiming that the creator should have done something a certain way, it seems to me like they are saying that the creator could have done it a certain way, just as it could have done it some other way. The difference is significant)

  31. JTaylor,

    But these statements that Coyne, Berra and others are making are in response to Creationist ideas, which by definition are religious ideas…

    I’m not sure I understand your argument here. I agree that Berra’s statement is in response to a religious idea (at least a hypothetical one). Doesn’t that mean it’s automatically a religious statement?

    Anyway, recall what Berra said: God would not have done X. If that’s not a religious claim, I don’t know what is.

  32. Herb: “I’m not sure I understand your argument here. I agree that Berra’s statement is in response to a religious idea (at least a hypothetical one). Doesn’t that mean it’s automatically a religious statement?”

    Technically I suppose…in the same way I (as an unbeliever) might say “Christians believe in the divinity of Jesus” even though that is not a belief I personally ascribe to. I’m not making a faith claim, just an observation on what others believe, that’s the difference and what I thik Berra is doing here.

    But my objection is that Dr. Hunter is claiming Coyne is making religous statements about evolution itself; I can conceded that Coyne may have some naturalistic presuppositions at work (we all have them after all), but these aren’t necessarily “religious” in the normal usage of the word.

  33. herb:

    Anyway, recall what Berra said: God would not have done X. If that’s not a religious claim, I don’t know what is.

    The quote actually reads :

    “if special creation were really how things came to be, there would be no reason for species on volcanic islands to resemble the inhabitants of the nearest land mass.”

    I read that to mean that the creator had no reason to do X rather than ~X. That is not a religious claim.

  34. jerry,

    Yes I do. Do you? You confused Lamarck with natural selection and you are questioning what I know. Darwin endorsed Lamarck or have you forgot. Lamarck is about how genetic material is inherited. Natural selection is about which offspring survive. Different concepts.

    this remark cements that you don’t understand the significance of natural selection (or Lamarck) at all. Lamarck was fundamentally concerned with explaining adaptation. he thought that it occurred via use and disuse and inheritance of acquired characteristics. these latter are mechanisms of how adaptation occurs. Darwin replaced these mechanisms with another one: natural selection. yes, he still endorsed a modified version of Lamarck’s idea of inheritance. but the fundamental mechanism of adaptation was radically changed, with no inner “need” driving the adaptation of organisms.

    this is why you were wrong about the quotation supporting natural selection. it supports adaptation, for sure, but not whether it occurs via either Lamarckian means or by natural selection (or by any other process).

    sometimes it’s better to admit a mistake and move on.

  35. jerry,

    if you don’t understand something, why do you keep citing is as support for your arguments? COyne’s words are mostly about the mechanism of PE. I was simply referring to the idea. when talking about someone’s ideas, I prefer to use their actual words. you can find those here:

    http://www.jstor.org/pss/2400177

    quick answer: PE is about microevolution, not macroevolution (by your definitions).

  36. I think Dr. Hunter may be on to something with regard to the similarities between marsupial vs. non-marsupial mammals that call into question their evolutionary origins. I once read an online debate about whether or not thylacines and wolves could really be considered examples of convergent evolution due to their extreme similarity, and when shown side-by-side pictures of the two animals, I for one could not distinguish between them!

  37. Steve Fuller:

    I think you people are missing Hunter’s point. He’s criticising the way creationism is being cast in Coyne’s argument, namely, in a very extreme form, on the basis of which you can already tell that it is not very likely going to be true.

    Actually, I think that when either evolutioists or creationists (or anyone else as well, I suppose)ascribe intent to “the creator”, they are making a testable claim (and this is not, I think, because the claim is a priori unlikely). If there is no such intent declared, then there is really no way to test the likelihood (in a bayesian sense) of anything involving creators. For without such intent, the likelihood of anything is as likely as anything else. (This is basically where ID is, btw)

    Disclaimer: I’m not saying that this is a good way to make a testable claim.

  38. 38

    Hedge (#33) wrote: “…(re:) the similarities between marsupial vs. non-marsupial mammals…whether or not thylacines and wolves could really be considered examples of convergent evolution due to their extreme similarity, and when shown side-by-side pictures of the two animals, I for one could not distinguish between them!

    How about if you watched movies of these two very different species giving birth, with particular attention to relative birth size and activities of the two different species’ newborns? Do you think you might notice any differences? Or have a detailed DNA/RNA analysis shown to you – do you think you might notice any differences? Or if you participated in a detailed dissection (with particular attention to the female reproductive organs), would you expect any differences?

    Do you think any of these differences would (or could) change your opinions about convergent evolution?

  39. It seems that many people are missing Hunter’s point: It’s not just that evolutionists base some of their arguments on theological assumptions; it’s that their main arguments rely on theological assumptions; and then they falsely claim they have overwhelming scientific (empirical) evidence for their theory. This is Hunter’s theme.

    If evolutionists admitted that their main reasons for believing evolution to be true were based on theological assumptions, like Gould and the panda’s thumb, Hunter’s main point would be moot. But in reality they are staunch in claiming that their reasons are empirical, a claim that falls apart upon inspection, as shown in Hunter’s examples.

  40. More to the point, evolutionists’ false claim that their theory does not rest on religious assumptions is important for the following reason: because they are, in general, the ones most insistent that their theory should enjoy special authority and prestige, precisely because it rests on scientific evidence, in contrast to their opponents’ theories which (they say) rest on religious assumptions.

    Given that the theory of evolution does in fact rely on religious assumptions for its key arguments, it is, by its proponents’ own standards, ineligible for the position of authority and prestige it currently enjoys.

  41. Mr Jerry,

    As Mr PaV has seen, allopatric speciation does not equal natural selection. In the kind of radiation into new niches and geographies considered by von Buch, the selection pressure is much lower than it would be in a stable environment. It still exists to some degree, but much lower.

    Of course it is possible to fill up the new niches very quickly and hit the competition for scarce resources quickly that Darwin felt drove natural selection, but in time there are two distinct periods and it seems that von Buch is only discussing one of them.

    I hope you can see that my comments are not knee jerk reactions to the materials and ideas that you bring to the table. I am not rejecting your quotes of von Buch, Huxley, et al., but I am considering them seriously, and comparing them to what is claimed for them. I expect no less from you.

  42. It’s one thing to say that evolutionists use pre-conceived ideas, confirmation bias or presuppositions in their approach to the theory of evolution – but to use the words religious, theological, or theology is incorrect, inaccurate and actually an unnecessary distraction from the real discussion of whether or not there is evidence for evolution (or ID for that matter). It makes no sense.

    Here’s a dictionary definition of theology:

    “The field of study and analysis that treats of God and of God’s attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or religious truth; divinity.”

    Theological then implies an existence of some kind of deity (God) – when people here say evolutionists are practicing theology, what exactly does that mean then?

  43. “Theological then implies an existence of some kind of deity (God) – when people here say evolutionists are practicing theology, what exactly does that mean then?”

    A religion doesn’t need a god. The oxford dictionary I’m sure has a definition which broadens religion more than that, and I’m sure there’s one in there that could include atheism or naturalism. I could look if anyone wants but do I really need to? Maybe atheists would be more comfortable with calling themselves a “fold”.

  44. Nakashima,

    I am sorry, but your response is knee jerk as far I am concerned. And just reinforces my assessment of the anti ID behavior found here and elsewhere. So I have to thank you for being such a good role model.

    The interesting thing is that I did nothing to contradict the anti ID diatribe, only point out that Sir Charles was beaten to the punch by someone who was not given credit. I find the reactions more interesting than the actual ideas by von Buch. By the way the quote came from an arch Darwinists who was just correcting the record and giving an hour lecture on speciation and natural selection and the effect of geographical isolation. That is why I love to see Darwinist on record because they are a great source for information on this debate. And why the anti ID people here are just “knee jerked” in comparison.

  45. Jerry Coyne is a committed philosophical naturalist. For him there is no other option but Neo-Darwinism, which is why Hunter’s post is so relevant. Call it what you wish, Coyne’s approach to his subject is guided by his metaphysical presuppositions, as are the theist’s. Furthermore, naturalism is conjoined (willingly or not) with atheism, by necessity, a theological proposition.

  46. jerry,

    i think your reaction is more interesting than anything. called on a mistake, you instantly resort to ad hominem, then compound your mistakes and never acknowledge any of them. classic ID behavior.

  47. Whatever for Coyne. Maybe somebody should fill him on the elephants that once occupied North America, which are indistinguishable (except larger) from the elephants of modern Africa. (See Schindenwolf) Also the Columbian lions.

    As for marsupials and placentals in Australia. Well placentals where there even before the marsupials and the marsupials themselves are all over the world, not just Australia. The argument that “just rodents” were found in australia is unbelievably lame. Rodents and rodent sized placentals are the most successful mammals in the world. So why did the lose out to marsupials in Australia? Evolution doesn’t explain it.

  48. JTaylor,

    Theological then implies an existence of some kind of deity (God) – when people here say evolutionists are practicing theology, what exactly does that mean then?

    Simply that the evolutionists are making claims about how a putative God would choose to create life on earth. I don’t think Cornelius is saying that the evos are religious in the sense that they worship a deity or anything like that; rather, in order to further their arguments about evolution, they are telling us theists about our God’s behaviors and motives.

  49. Here is the sort of convoluted speculation/history of marsupials from Wikipedia. It seems they are really stretching here.

    “It was once commonly believed that marsupials were a primitive forerunner of modern placental mammals, but fossil evidence, first presented by researcher M.J. Spechtt in 1982, conflicts with this assumption[citation needed]. Instead, both main branches of the mammal tree appear to have evolved concurrently toward the end of the Mesozoic era. In the absence of soft tissues, such as the pouch and reproductive system, fossil marsupials can be distinguished from placentals by the form of their teeth; primitive marsupials possess four pairs of molar teeth in each jaw, whereas placental mammals never have more than three pairs.[4]

    Using this criterion, the earliest known marsupial is Sinodelphys szalayi, which lived in China around 125 million years ago.[5][6][7] This makes it almost contemporary to the earliest placental fossils, which have been found in the same area.[8]

    The discovery of Chinese marsupials appears to support the idea that marsupials reached Australia via Southeast Asia.[9] There are a few species of marsupials still living in Asia, especially in the Sulawesi region of Indonesia. These marsupials coexist with primates, hooved mammals and other placentals.[citation needed] However, due to the fact that Australia and China were separated by the wide Tethys Sea in the early Cretaceous into the Northern continent of Laurasia and Southern continent of Gondwana, marsupials had to take a much longer route around. From their origin in East Laurasia (modern day China), they spread westwards into modern North America (still attached to Eurasia) and skipped across to South America, which was connected to North America up until around 65MYA. Here they radiated into Borhyaenids and Shrew Opossums, creating a unique fauna found in South America and Antarctica (which were connected until 35MYA). Marsupials reached Australia via Antarctica about 50MYA just after Australia had split off, suggesting a single dispersion event of several of just one species, related to South America’s Monito del Monte (Microbiothere), rafted across the widening, but still narrow gap between Australia and Antarctica at that time. In Australia, being the only mammals present (except a few Austrosphenids like echidnas and platypuses) they radiated into the wide varieties we see today, even island hopping some way through the Indonesian archipelagos, almost completing a circumnavigation back to their homeland in China. [10]

    On most continents, placental mammals were much more successful and no marsupials survived, though in South America the opossums retained a strong presence, and the Tertiary saw the genesis of marsupial predators such as the borhyaenids and the saber-toothed Thylacosmilus. In Australia, however, marsupials displaced placental mammals entirely, and have since dominated the Australian ecosystem. Marsupial success over placental mammals in Australia has been attributed to their comparatively low metabolic rate, a trait which would prove helpful in the hot Australian climate.[citation needed] As a result, native Australian placental mammals (such as hopping mice) are more recent immigrants.”

  50. herb,

    they are telling us theists about our God’s behaviors and motives.

    if you don’t like this, perhaps you should put forward your own ideas. at least YECs have a model with testable hypotheses, as opposed to ID, which just has arguments against evolution and no testable hypotheses.

  51. jerry,
    speaking of wikipedia, here’s some info on a contemporary of von Buch’s that influenced Darwin:

    Modern experts such as Ernst Mayr, Jerry Coyne & H. Allen Orr,[9] agree that Wagner first identified geographical speciation. However, his “migration theory” was based on a rather simple, Lamarckian idea of evolution.

    goes to show how important it is to distinguish between evolution by natural selection and by Lamarckian processes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moritz_Wagner

  52. Jerry,

    From you wikipedia quote,

    Marsupial success over placental mammals in Australia has been attributed to their comparatively low metabolic rate, a trait which would prove helpful in the hot Australian climate.[citation needed]

    I love the “citation needed” at the end. I won’t bother to go looking for a citation for that bit of “just so” story telling.

  53. Khan,

    ID, which just has arguments against evolution and no testable hypotheses.

    Speaking of which, when are you Darwinists going to present a testable hypothesis for abiogenesis? It has only been over 150 years.

  54. Jehu,
    you can try here for starters:

    http://rstb.royalsocietypublis.....7.abstract

  55. Khan,

    herb,

    they are telling us theists about our God’s behaviors and motives.

    if you don’t like this, perhaps you should put forward your own ideas. at least YECs have a model with testable hypotheses, as opposed to ID, which just has arguments against evolution and no testable hypotheses.

    Believe me, I do have my own ideas about God, but I’ll spare you. :D
    We IDers prefer to keep science and religion separate anyways.

  56. “goes to show how important it is to distinguish between evolution by natural selection and by Lamarckian processes.”

    They are different concepts or didn’t you read above. Lamarck has to do with genetic inheritance and which Darwin endorsed along with his blending ideas. Natural selection has to do with survivability of offspring. One does not preclude the other except for the rarity of Lamarckian processes means that it only occurs in certain very limited circumstances. See Jablonka and Lamb, Evolution in 4 Dimensions..

  57. jerry,

    wow, you are really not getting it. Lamarck had his own version of evolution before Darwin, of which inheritance of acquired characteristics was only a part. so Lamarckian mechanisms (use and disuse, AIC, inner “need”) and natural selection are two mechanisms of evolution. not two different concepts.

  58. since you seem to like quotations, here’s one (from Wiki):

    Lamarck’s contribution to evolutionary theory consisted of the first truly cohesive theory of evolution, in which an alchemical complexifying force drove organisms up a ladder of complexity, and a second environmental force adapted them to local environments through use and disuse of characteristics, differentiating them from other organisms.[5]

  59. FYI for all:

    The original German text of the Leopold von Buch quote is located on page 133 in his book “Physicalische Beschreibung der Canarischen Inseln” (1825).

    A copy can be viewed at: http://humboldt.mpiwg-berlin.m.....index.html

    The full paragraph that the quote is from reads:

    “Die Individuen der Gattungen auf Continenten breiten sich aus, entfernen sich weit, bilden durch Verschiedenheit der Standörter, Nahrung und Boden Verietäten, welche, in ihrer Entfernung nie von andern Verietäten gekreuzt nnd dadurch zum Haupttypus zurückgebracht, endlich constant und zur eigenen Art werden. Dann erreichen sie vielleicht auf anderen Wegen auf das Neue die ebenfalls veränderte vorige Varietät, beide nun als sehr verschiedene und sich nicht wieder mit einander vermischende Arten. Nicht so auf Inseln. Gewöhnlich in enge Thäler oder in den Bezirk schmaler Zonen gebannt, können sich die Individuen erreichen und jede gesuchte Fixrung einer Varietät wieder zerstören. Es ist dies ungefähr so, wie Sonderbarkeiten oder Fehler der Sprache zuerst durch das Haupt einer Familie, dann durch Verbreitung dieser selbst, über einen ganzen District einheimisch werden. Ist dieser abgesondert und isolirt, und bringt nicht die stete Verbindung mit andern die Sprache auf ihre vorige Reinheit zurüch, so wird aus dieser Abweichung ein Dialekt. Verbinden natürlich Hindernisse, Wälder, Verfassung, Regierung, die Bewohner des abweichenden Districts noch enger, und trennen sie sie noch schärfer von den Nachbarn, so fixirt sich der Dialekt, und es wird eine völlig verschiedene Sprache.”

    Perhaps someone who knows German can make a new translation, to see if it sheds any further light on von Buch’s ideas.

  60. Khan,

    Really? A paper on how RNA was originally formed on a clay template? That is the best you could do? This montmorillonite theory has been around since the 80′s. It is part of the larger “RNA world” theory which is effectively DOA.

    The father of the whole “RNA world”, Leslie Ogle, who once called RNA world a “molecular biologist’s dream” eventually had this to say about the theory before he died:

    In my opinion, there is no basis in known chemistry for the belief that long sequences of reactions can organize spontaneously – and every reason to believe they cannot The problem of achieving sufficient specificity, whether in aqueous solution or on the surface of a mineral, is so severe that the chance of closing a cycle of reactions as complex as the reverse citric acid cycle, for example, is negligible.

    And to get down to real problem with the whole RNA world nonsense consider the conclusions of former RNA world advocate Robert Shapiro. The problem isn’t just catalyzing RNA, it is getting all of the building blocks of RNA in one place. As Shapiro explains:

    [N]o nucleotides of any kind have been reported as products of spark discharge experiments or in studies of meteorites, nor have the smaller units (nucleosides) that contain a sugar and base but lack the phosphate.

    To rescue the RNA-first concept from this otherwise lethal defect, its advocates have created a discipline called prebiotic synthesis. They have attempted to show that RNA and its components can be prepared in their laboratories in a sequence of carefully controlled reactions, …

    However, these reactions get ridiculously complex. Shapiro continues,

    The analogy that comes to mind is that of a golfer, who having played a golf ball through an 18-hole course, then assumed that the ball could also play itself around the course in his absence. He had demonstrated the possibility of the event; it was only necessary to presume that some combination of natural forces (earthquakes, winds, tornadoes and floods, for example) could produce the same result, given enough time. No physical law need be broken for spontaneous RNA formation to happen, but the chances against it are so immense, that the suggestion implies that the non-living world had an innate desire to generate RNA. The majority of origin-of-life scientists who still support the RNA-first theory either accept this concept (implicitly, if not explicitly) or feel that the immensely unfavorable odds were simply overcome by good luck.

    Shapiro concludes, and all reasonable minded people would agree that:

    Nobel Laureate Christian de Duve has called for “a rejection of improbabilities so incommensurably high that they can only be called miracles, phenomena that fall outside the scope of scientific inquiry.” DNA, RNA, proteins and other elaborate large molecules must then be set aside as participants in the origin of life.

    So what exactly then is the Darwinist hypothesis for abiogenesis?

  61. Jehu @ 41:

    The argument that “just rodents” were found in australia is unbelievably lame. Rodents and rodent sized placentals are the most successful mammals in the world. So why did the lose out to marsupials in Australia?

    Who are you quoting there Jehu? Certainly not me. What I said was that as far as placental species go in Australia, a single rodent has been found. However, I made a mistake. Two actually, neither of which help out Mr. Hunter: there are other rodent fossils (though they’re almost all teeth and only one other species, Zyzomys rackhami, has been conclusively identified) and I forgot to say that the species I mentioned before, Pseudomys vandycki, dates to the Pliocene (which started approx. 5.3 mya). So do all the other rodent remains found. This is far, far later than the earliest marsupials, which date to the late Paleocene/early Eocence (that is, about 55 mya or roughly 50 million years earlier than the earliest known Australian rodent). By contrast to the rodents, the most ancient confirmed placentals in Australia were a primitive bat, Australonycteris clarkae, and the tooth (and possibly a couple other fragments) of an otherwise unknown species, <a href=”http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v356/n6369/abs/356514a0.html”Tingamarra porterorum. The other bat (and the last of the known Australian fossil placentals), Brachipposideros nooraleebus, dates to the early to mid-Miocene (which starts at ~23 mya), and as I said, is obviously related to species known from Europe.

    All this is there in the references I cited earlier (and re-cited here), but I figured I should point out my mistake and clarify a few things about the timeline. Oh, and also that no one said a thing about “just rodents” except you, Jehu.

  62. Sorry about the broken link. It’s in my earlier post, but here it is again anyway:
    Earliest known Australian Tertiary mammal fauna

  63. Alright, WordPress is doing strange things to links. One more time:
    Earliest known Australian Tertiary mammal fauna

  64. jehu,

    you asked for a testable hypothesis and I gave you one. you may not like it, but you can’t deny that is a testable hypothesis. now, please return the favor and give me a testable hypothesis for abiogenesis from ID.

  65. 65
    Cornelius Hunter

    Mark Frank (1):

    With carefully chosen religious assumptions you can make the likelihood of any observed outcome [what we observe] as high [low] as you wish.

    See my edit above.

    You can assume that God made it look like common descent …

    It doesn’t “look like common descent” without evolution’s religious premises.

    idnet (2):

    I must admit that the location of apparent fossil ancestors in the location of today’s creatures especially in the Australian context seems to me to be compelling evidence that there is a genetic relationship between the fossils and today’s animals.

    Why is it “compelling”?

    Anthony09 (3):

    What’s religious about this? There are no religious assumptions on Coyne’s part, at least not in the passage you quoted

    And I’m sure that Darwin / Collins / Coyne, etc. thought the same thing. This is why evolution is so interesting and dangerous. Evolutionists use religious arguments and then claim they make no religious claims. Evolutionists such as Coyne can freely proclaim what is and is not likely if God created the species, and then say they are all about empiricism. The posts here by evolutionists are typical. They are good examples of this dangerous denialism in action.

  66. Cornelius

    Evolutionists such as Coyne can freely proclaim what is and is not likely if God created the species, and then say they are all about empiricism

    COyne et al are mostly arguing against the explicit empirical predictions of YECs. I’m sure he’d like to argue against those of ID except that thee aren’t any.

  67. 67
    Cornelius Hunter

    Khan (60):

    COyne et al are mostly arguing against the explicit empirical predictions of YECs. I’m sure he’d like to argue against those of ID except that thee aren’t any.

    No, YEC is only one target (and not even the main one at that). For starters you may want to look at Science’s Blind Spot.

  68. Cornelius,
    I’m not sold on buying your book yet. why don’t you present me with some other targets.

    as soon as ID makes some predictions that COyne can target, let me know.

  69. Cornelius: What? No further comments on the Australian fossil record or Futuyama’s alleged evidential mendacity?

  70. Cornelius Hunter:

    It doesn’t “look like common descent” without evolution’s religious premises.

    Sober did not use religious premises in that thread you link to. In that thread, I asked you to provide evidence that he did. In that thread, none came forth. Perhaps in this thread, things will be different?

  71. Kahn,

    jehu,

    you asked for a testable hypothesis and I gave you one. you may not like it, but you can’t deny that is a testable hypothesis. now, please return the favor and give me a testable hypothesis for abiogenesis from ID.

    You gave me a turd of a hypothesis that nobody takes seriously. Usually Darwinists demur on the issue of abiogenesis and say it is not part of Darwinism. So I give you points for at least stepping up to the plate and taking one on the chin. As for an ID testable hypothesis on abiogenesis, go here.

  72. Jehu: OK, great, but how do you test that? I don’t see a lot of suggestions for that part.
    This “Cosmic Ancestry” idea also doesn’t actually seem to require either intelligence or design, but instead posits horizontal gene transfer (and strangely, he talks about ‘Darwinism’ rejecting horizontal gene tranfer even though he cites papers from all sorts of biologists describing the phenomenon) from viruses or bacterial spores deposited by inbound comets (which, BTW, we haven’t had a whole lot of lately. By which I mean: hardly any for the last few billion years or so).

    Also, this guy hedges his idea by saying “Oh, new genetic programs could just be dormant and waiting for some trigger.” Oh, OK. How do we tell the difference? And how come these dormant programs didn’t get hopelessly ruined by random mutation over the ages? The genes weren’t being selected, so there’d be nothing to fend off deterioration. Well, except additional mechanisms of preservation for which no evidence has been found.

    Just skimming through the site as a whole, there are all sorts of other errors and misconceptions, but there is also one very huge problem which this guy brings up himself at the end of the little essay you linked:

    A consequence of this reasoning is that life on Earth can have descended only from life elsewhere that was at least as highly evolved as it is here.

    OK, so did this elsewhere require another highly-evolved elsewhere before it could launch its own panspermia program? If so, is yet another elsewhere then required? How far does the chain go? How in the hell do you know this when all the ‘alien’ genes look more or less just like all the ones already here and supposedly get incorporated into ‘native’ genomes without a hitch?

    In any case, short of landing on random comets and discovering an alien virus or bacteria by sheer luck (and which couldn’t have arrived as a result of contamination from the probe), I’m not yet convinced this qualifies as testable.

    And, um, how is it exactly that you’ve determined that the Graham-Cairns clay hypothesis isn’t testable, period? I mean I have no trouble imagining that chemists could quite test that basic idea in the lab by experimenting with…oh, what do ya know? They have:

    One aspect of the multifaceted proposal by A. G. Cairns-Smith, that imperfect crystals have the capacity to act as primitive genes by transferring the disposition of their imperfections from one crystal to another, is investigated. Rather than examining clay minerals, the most likely crystalline genes in the theories of Cairns-Smith, an experiment was designed in a model crystalline system unrelated to the composition of the prebiotic earth but suited to a well-defined test.

    Well, that settles that: clay theory is testable and people do take it seriously to boot. Google is amazing!

    Now, yes, the tested crystals were too prone to imperfections to work well as genetic templates, but they weren’t representative of prebiotic materials or intended to be and also, as one of the researchers noted in an article about the work,:

    ‘We wanted to try to bring one aspect of the multifaceted proposal of Cairns-Smith to the realm of repeatable experimental science.’

    ‘I would hope that our experiment would encourage scientists to subject other aspects of the broad crystal-as-genes hypothesis to the scrutiny of experiment,’ added Kahr.

    But you were saying about that not-necessarily-intelligently-designed panspermia thing you linked to?

  73. Frakking WordPress. Here’s the link it screwed up:

    Crystals As Genes?

  74. Just a note: Yes, I know the paper Khan cited wasn’t specifically about Cairns-Smith’s original clay theory, but it’s clearly derived from the general idea as it proposes a certain kind of clay catalyst for RNA.

    If you think that’s not good enough, though, that’s cool.
    That particular idea’s gotten a bit of testing well (well before the paper Khan linked was written, actually):

    Two of the crucial components for the origin of life – genetic material and cell membranes – could have been introduced to one another by a lump of clay, new experiments have shown.

    The study of montmorillonite clay, by Martin Hanczyc, Shelly Fujikawa and Jack Szostak at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, revealed it can sharply accelerate the formation of membranous fluid-filled sacs.

    These vesicles also grow and undergo a simple form of division, giving them the properties of primitive cells. Previous work has shown that the same simple mineral can help assemble the genetic material RNA from simpler chemicals. “Interestingly, the clay also gets internalised in the vesicles,” says Leslie Orgel, an origin of life expert at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in San Diego, California. “So this work is quite nice in that it finds a connection between the mechanism that creates RNA and encloses it in a membrane.”

    Ferris cites all that prior research, in fact.
    So you see, parts of the idea are not only testable, but have already been tested.

  75. What is with the link mangling in WordPress? Works fine in the preview, but is then broken in the post. Here’s the article:
    Clay’s matchmaking could have sparked life

  76. OK, I give up. Now the broken link is working again.

  77. dbthomas: “Cornelius: What? No further comments on the Australian fossil record or Futuyama’s alleged evidential mendacity?”

    I too am interested in what Dr. Hunter thinks about the Australian fossil record. If he does not accept the standard biogeographical explanations, what alternative hypotheses would he offer? Does ID theory shed any light on the matter?

    If the answer is ‘nothing’ or ‘no’ – what needs to be done to get to a place where a hypothesis could be formed?

  78. Paul Burnett (& “Hedge”),

    How about if you watched movies of these two very different species giving birth, with particular attention to relative birth size and activities of the two different species’ newborns? Do you think you might notice any differences? Or have a detailed DNA/RNA analysis shown to you – do you think you might notice any differences? Or if you participated in a detailed dissection (with particular attention to the female reproductive organs), would you expect any differences?

    Well, thylacines and wolves do look quite similar at least superficiallly. There’s a nice picture of thylacines here.

    How do the evos account for this remarkable degree of convergence?

  79. herb (#78) wrote: “Well, thylacines and wolves do look quite similar at least superficiallly.

    When Darwin, on the voyage of the Beagle, visited Australia in 1836, he remarked that he might almost suppose that one maker had made the fauna and flora of the rest of the world, and another maker made Australia’s – “An unbeliever … might exclaim ‘Surely two distinct creators must have been at work’”, he mused in his diary.” – http://www.talkorigins.org/ori.....oct04.html

    The document continues: “The morphology, ecology and physiology of Austronesian fauna were so different that Darwin’s colleague Wallace described the region as a distinct ecological region. Despite a few similarities of outward form, such as between the marsupial “wolf”, the thylacine, and the placental wolf, they were clearly very different in construction and design.

    Dolphins and sharks look a lot alike, although they are much further apart than placental wolves and thylacines. But so what?

    Talk Origins has the definition: “Convergence is an amorphous evolutionary term that is used in somewhat different senses by different authors (or even by the same people at different times). It generally refers to similarities between organisms that evolved independently, i.e. similarities not directly inherited from a common ancestor. Convergent similarities can involve structure, form, and function. Strict convergence of both function and structure is very rare, except in trivial cases. Convergence of form and function is common, and is a direct prediction of the theory of natural selection.” – http://www.talkorigins.org/faq.....ssary.html

  80. dbthomas,

    Please read post my post #60 again. Keep in mind that these quotes were made with the clay template hypothesis in hindsight. It answers your questions.

  81. jehu
    @79, including the question about how the ID abiogenesis idea you linked to could be empirically tested?

  82. Khan,

    Of course not. For that, go here.

    Not that I believe it. But it is way better than the RNA world brain fart.

  83. jehu,

    none of those proposed tests would provide any positive support for their hypothesis (which is unclear to begin with). they would simply provide evidence against some evolutionary hypotheses. do you have any specific hypotheses that can be tested against a null hypothesis?

  84. Kahn,

    Total nonsense. Panspermia is at least as testable a hypothesis as evolution. Not that I want to get into an argument defending panspermia. The so-called testable hypothesis for abiogenesis was nothing more than a proposal on how clay can catalyze RNA formation. Big. Deal. That would be just one step in whole abiogenesis process. In contrast, panspermia as a theory is far more developed than RNA world. Tests that would show positive support for panspermia.

    1. can bacteria survive in space.
    2. can genetic information be horizontally transfered.
    3. does the genetic record show the sudden appearance of information.

    There are lots of tests for panspermia. Anyway, I don’ t believe it but I find it far more plausible than RNA world. At least panspermia has a hope, which is more than RNA world will ever have.

    From the page I linked to:

    Test Three: Reconstructing the Past Genomically

    Third-best are historical reconstructions of actual biological evolution based on genomic studies of existing species. To get any result one must assume that today’s version and the ancient version of a given species are genetically very similar, and that gene transfer and gene loss will not obscure the remote past. Then, if new programs are produced by the darwinian method, their precursors should be present in the genomes of today’s species that are ancestral to the one posessing the full program under study. These precursors should exhibit a pattern of gradual construction, one or a few nucleotides at a time, as one ascends through the phylogeny of the program. However, if new programs are imported by cosmic ancestry, the gradual intermediate steps will not be found. Instead, one would observe nearly identical programs, or nothing similar, in the ancestral species (4).
    Historical reconstructions like that by Raymond et al. (5) look hard for evidence of gradual construction. Claims of such finds are very few. Instead, geneticists are often surprised to find evidence that new programs were delivered to a species by gene transfer (6). Evidence for transfer, with program reassembly, favors cosmic ancestry over darwinism for the reasons stated above.

  85. Kahn,

    Total nonsense. Panspermia is at least as testable a hypothesis as evolution. Not that I want to get into an argument defending panspermia. The so-called testable hypothesis for abiogenesis was nothing more than a proposal on how clay can catalyze RNA formation. Big. Deal. That would be just one step in whole abiogenesis process. In contrast, panspermia as a theory is far more developed than RNA world. Tests that would show positive support for panspermia.

    1. can bacteria survive in space.
    2. can genetic information be horizontally transfered.
    3. does the genetic record show the sudden appearance of information.

    There are lots of tests for panspermia. Anyway, I don’ t believe it but I find it far more plausible than RNA world. At least panspermia has a hope, which is more than RNA world will ever have.

    From the page I linked to:

    Test Three: Reconstructing the Past Genomically

    Third-best are historical reconstructions of actual biological evolution based on genomic studies of existing species. To get any result one must assume that today’s version and the ancient version of a given species are genetically very similar, and that gene transfer and gene loss will not obscure the remote past. Then, if new programs are produced by the darwinian method, their precursors should be present in the genomes of today’s species that are ancestral to the one posessing the full program under study. These precursors should exhibit a pattern of gradual construction, one or a few nucleotides at a time, as one ascends through the phylogeny of the program. However, if new programs are imported by cosmic ancestry, the gradual intermediate steps will not be found. Instead, one would observe nearly identical programs, or nothing similar, in the ancestral species (4).
    Historical reconstructions like that by Raymond et al. (5) look hard for evidence of gradual construction. Claims of such finds are very few. Instead, geneticists are often surprised to find evidence that new programs were delivered to a species by gene transfer (6). Evidence for transfer, with program reassembly, favors cosmic ancestry over darwinism for the reasons stated above.

  86. I don’t know the religious positions of Coyne and Berra but it’s quite possible that neither of them even have a belief in God at all, but are merely postulating that if God was the creator there are at best some puzzling anomalies in the way the creation was carried out.

    Isn’t it interesting how some people are so committed to certain things about the God they don’t believe in?

  87. 87

    Well, thylacines and wolves do look quite similar at least superficiallly.

    Let’s keep it at that level, thank you.

  88. 88

    Isn’t it interesting how some people are so committed to certain things about the God they don’t believe in?

    Perhaps they are dealing in hypotheticals

  89. I don’t know the religious positions of Coyne and Berra but it’s quite possible that neither of them even have a belief in God at all, but are merely postulating that if God was the creator there are at best some puzzling anomalies in the way the creation was carried out.

    Isn’t it interesting how some people are so committed to certain things about the God they don’t believe in?

    I thought it would help if I highlighted the important bits you seem to have missed.

  90. Phinehas,

    Isn’t it interesting how some people are so committed to certain things about the God they don’t believe in?

    Yes we all know that if God created life on earth all fauna would be equally distributed throughout the earth in a uniform manner. Also, all the mountains would be made of rock candy, and their would be a lakes of stew and whiskey too, where you could paddle around in a big canoe, plus lemonade springs where the blue bird sings, and the birds and the bees and the cigarette trees, the wind wouldn’t blow, and it would never snow if the earth was created by a intelligent design.

  91. Yes we all know that if God created life on earth all fauna would be equally distributed throughout the earth in a uniform manner. Also, all the mountains would be made of rock candy…

    and we also know that “Forms containing large amounts of novel information will appear in the fossil record suddenly and without similar precursors”, “Convergence will occur routinely. That is, genes and other functional parts will be re-used in different and unrelated organisms” and “Much so-called “junk DNA” will turn out to perform valuable functions”.

  92. Cornelius Hunter has a hugely important point. Pronouncements turn up with regularity from (non-ID) evolutionists, both atheistic and (with less justification) theistic, stating that unassisted evolution is the better theory because its competition is incredible on a point. The argument can be summarized as “God wouldn’t have done it that way.” That implies a specific view of religion, and therefore, is at base a religious argument. The crazy part is that, although sometimes the opponent is a common conception, at other times the opponent is a straw man that virtually nobody on the opposing side really believes. Let me illustrate from Dr. Hunter’s blog cited above:

    According to the evolutionary textbook Evolution: Process and Product by Dodson and Dodson, if God had created the species then they should be distributed uniformly about the globe. The text states: “Had all species been created in the places where they now exist, then Amphibian and terrestrial mammals should be as frequent on oceanic islands as on comparable continental areas. Certainly, terrestrial mammals should have been created on these islands as frequently as were bats.”

    And later:

    Likewise Tim Berra explains that “if special creation were really how things came to be, there would be no reason for species on volcanic islands to resemble the inhabitants of the nearest land mass.”

    This line of reasoning (Dodson and Dodson, and Berra) is just plain stupid. Let me explain. There are two main competitors to evolutionary theory in this particular case, assisted evolution, and young-life creation. For assisted evolution, it makes sense that in many cases organisms of various kinds developed on the mainland and then were transported to islands by misguided flying (bats, birds), rafting, or some other such mechanism. They would then be expected to diverge slightly from their mainland counterparts, just like in traditional unassisted evolution. The argument fails rather obviously.

    What is not appreciated by the supporters of the argument is that even for young-life creationism the argument fails. For young-life creationists hypothesize that after the Flood there was a dispersal event, whereby organisms got onto islands largely because of the same mechanisms of flight or drift, or in some cases across land bridges that were later flooded, and again one would expect islands to have similar species to the adjacent mainlands. So the argument still fails.

    The only time the argument would work is if one hypothesized that it was all creation and no evolution took place at all. No modern theory of which i am aware postulates this. Perhaps Paley does, but it seems a reach to still be fighting Paley. Are we living that far in the past?

    That does not mean that different theories do not have problems. Jerry Coyne’s observation that

    Where can we dig up fossil kangaroos that most closely resemble living kangaroos? In Australia.

    and his further obsservations about armadillos, are a problem for young-life creationists (they are not a problem for assisted evolution). So sometimes at least one target is fairly hit (whether it is obliterated is a different question). But the Dodson and Dodson and Berra quotes are wildly off the mark.

    The other point is that our unassisted evolutionary advocates have seemed to be incapable of seeing this problem with the above argumentation, as one can see by perusing the above thread. (So did Dodson and Dodson and Berra, or they wouldn’t have made it.) Why is it that some unassisted evolutionists consistently misrepresent the beliefs of their opponents?

  93. 93

    RDK, it seems only fair that if well-made (in human terms) complex systems can provide evidence for design, then poorly-made (in human terms) kludgy systems can provide evidence against design.

  94. The argument can be summarized as “God wouldn’t have done it that way.” That implies a specific view of religion, and therefore, is at base a religious argument.

    I agree that they are making an argument about religion, this quite often is the case when arguing with people about religion, indeed its hard not to. The problem with the reasoning that Cornelius uses in most of his posts is the way he confuses the content of, and the evidential basis for, evolutionary theory with the way scientists sometimes express their opinions of specific religious ideas concerning creation.

    Dodson and Dodson are free to express their opinion but they are not expressing a component of the theory, just their opinion on how it compares to a particular religious perspective that they have fixated on.

    A priest proclaiming that ‘God punishing people by making them ill’ makes more sense than germ theory does not suddenly make his idea a scientific theory, just as a scientist proclaiming that Evolution is a better explanation than ‘God made things look like that’ does not automatically make Evolution a religion. Its just a bunch of people expressing opinions about theories.

    Many geologists would cite various theories in geology to contradict young earth creationist accounts of the age of the earth. Does this mean that the theories they cite suddenly become religious?

  95. BillB,

    Many geologists would cite various theories in geology to contradict young earth creationist accounts of the age of the earth. Does this mean that the theories they cite suddenly become religious?

    No and you have apparently entirely missed the point of Cornelius’ post.

    The difference is between objective evidence and subjective opinions about God. Argument using subjective opinions about God are religious, arguments using objective evidence are not.

    The Darwnists that Cornelius’ is quoting are using subjective opinions about God to argue that God did not create life on earth.

  96. RDK,

    Rather amusing how ID proponents can spend all day making anaogies that link biological systems to well-oiled clocks and other nonsense, but when we point out obvious flaws in your god’s special creation that no idiot with half a brain would make, suddenly the modus operandi of the creator is off-limits.

    You are completely wrong. ID proponents do not use subjective opinions about God as evidence for intelligent design. Darwinists, however, constantly use subjective opinions about God to argue against design, as you yourself just did in the above quote.

    BTW, I have slain the bad design argument so many times in debates with Darwinists that I have lost count. It is one of the poorest arguments that a Darwinist can raise. Not only is it based on a false premise, even when the premise is accepted it fails.

  97. Billb,

    Many geologists would cite various theories in geology to contradict young earth creationist accounts of the age of the earth. Does this mean that the theories they cite suddenly become religious?

    Yes, and here’s an example:

    Why Would the Flood Sort Animals by Cell Type? by Glenn Morton.

    Did you catch the way Morton subtly inserted his religious premise in the title of his article?? Of course God would not create patterns in the Deposits of the Great Flood, he assumes, therefore YEC is false. Real scientific. /sarcasm

  98. The Darwnists that Cornelius’ is quoting are using subjective opinions about God to argue that God did not create life on earth.

    Yes they are but contrary to what Cornelius seems to assert in his frequent postings their opinion does not form a part of the theory. Merely discussing creationism in comparison to science does not make the science religious.

  99. herb: LOL

    This is a self published opinion piece that cites a single peer reviewed paper as part of an argument about religion. the website says:

    This website is concerned with the issues surrounding the Creation-Evolution debate, Young-Earth Creationism, and the historicity of the Bible.

    The piece you link to comes under the section entitled ‘Noah’s Flood’ so why is it a surprise that this is mentioned in the title, given that this is what he is discussing?

    In what way does this make any theories in geology religious? You seem to think that if anyone cites a scientific claim in the context of a religious argument it therefore means that the science is actually religion.

    Or did I misunderstand and your sarcasm is actually aimed at Paul Giem?

  100. herb: Morton is arguing against Flood Geology, which makes very specific claims by virtue of insisting on a very literal reading the Biblical deluge account. Those claims flat out fail to match the evidence. He’s not sneaking anything into the title: the title is telling you what he is specifically disputing. There’s nothing unscientific about it. That’s just the price YEC pays for making empirically falsifiable claims and refusing to abandon them once they are falsified.

    Also, just curious: are you aware that Morton was actually once a YEC, herb, and quite enamored of Flood Geology until getting repeatedly smacked in the face with the contradictory evidence?

  101. Billb and dbthomas,

    Thanks for the replies, but I think my point was completely missed by both of you. Of course he is arguing against YEC—that seems to be his life these days, along with honing his mad web design skillz and playing amateur climatologist.

    The unscientific, religious premise he maintains is that God would never have created the patterns we observe in the (apparent) Flood Deposits.

    He is of course making a sound argument, assuming this premise. But that’s a religious claim, and he never supports it.

  102. herb:

    God would never have created the patterns we observe in the (apparent) Flood Deposits.

    He doesn’t make that claim as far as I can see.

    What he claims is that a global flood would not produce the pattern found in the geological column. The global flood as a cause of fossil remains is not his premise, it is one he is arguing against. He doesn’t claim that God would not have created things this way, just that the mechanism of a global flood (which others are invoking) is insufficient to explain the evidence. This is a conclusion, not a premise.

  103. herb @ 101:

    The unscientific, religious premise he maintains is that God would never have created the patterns we observe in the (apparent) Flood Deposits.

    Um, herb? You seem to have missed that he actually claims the exact opposite:

    Before people claim that chance is incompatible with God’s creation, remember that God is omnipotent and thus is able to control chance. Chance doesn’t control God. Nor is God a snivelling coward when He is faced with chance.

    That is certainly a religious claim, and is unsupported, but it has nothing to do with his opinion of Flood Geology and it basically says God could have created in any manner or order in which He pleased. It’s also the only such statement on the page and if you excised it, it would make no difference to the argument in the least.

    Immediately thereafter, he makes a very clear statement of what he objects to: the idea of a global flood as an explanation the majority of observed geology and the fossil record, specifically the trend of increasing complexity over time in the latter. To wit:

    Now, can the global flood paradigm explain this order in the fossil record? No! Assuming the onset of the flood was at the base of the Cambrian, it is clear that throughout the Cambrian period complexity in cell type increased. Yet the usual explanations for why animals appear as they do, mobility and ecological zonation, simply won’t work here. Porifera, Cnidaria, Haemocoelic Bilaterian, Arthropoda, Echinodermata, and annelids are not significantly different in mobility. Thus the flood can not explain why complexity increases as we go up the geological column, but evolution can explain it.

    I see no theology in that and any theory of geology based on a putative global flood would be vulnerable to the same argument, be it inspired by the Epic of Gilgamesh, the myth of Pyrrha and Deucalion, or the pages of the Old Testament or just thought up by some inventive and enthusiastic but geologically-ignorant atheist. Sure, you could derive theology from it, and I’m sure Morton has, but that’s irrelevant because the argument doesn’t rest on its theological implications.

  104. Billb and dbthomas,

    Crap!! OK, it looks like the example I chose doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, unlike the case of Coyne’s pronouncements about biogeography given in the OP.

  105. 105
    Cornelius Hunter

    JTaylor (77):

    I too am interested in what Dr. Hunter thinks about the Australian fossil record. If he does not accept the standard biogeographical explanations, what alternative hypotheses would he offer? Does ID theory shed any light on the matter?

    If the answer is ‘nothing’ or ‘no’ – what needs to be done to get to a place where a hypothesis could be formed?

    What I think needs to be done is for folks to understand the nature of the scientific evidence, how badly evolution does on that evidence (even Mayr admitted that evolutionary explanations of biogeography are sometimes almost unbelievable), and how evolution is mandated by religious premises which sometimes are quite compelling.

    At that point folks can start seriously evaluating the scientific evidence, but until then I have found it to be a waste of time to try to engage the science with people who are in denial about their own religious convictions.

  106. Cornelius Hunter:

    Cornelius changed Mark Frank’s quote a bit:

    With carefully chosen religious assumptions you can make the likelihood of any observed outcome [what we observe] as high [low] as you wish.

    This is absolutely correct, and your change goes to show why religious assumptions should not be made. In an earlier thread you pointed out that the ratio of the likelihood of evolution/creationism was easy to make high by using religious assumptions (for creationism) that had low probabilities. I agree completely, but in saying that, the ratio given while doing so will always be lower than if one was to use ID as the denominator. The reason for this is that ID says nothing about the designer, ensuring that all ID scenarios are equally likely. Subsequently, the likelihood for ID will be zero and the evolution/ID ratio will be infinitely large. In other words, comparing the likelihood of evolution versus a hypothesis with religious assumptions gives evolution a SMALLER likelihood.

  107. Dr. Hunter: “At that point folks can start seriously evaluating the scientific evidence, but until then I have found it to be a waste of time to try to engage the science with people who are in denial about their own religious convictions.”

    But what is to stop YOU (and perhaps other DI members) evaluating the evidence NOW and at least coming up with an intial hypothesis? You don’t need to engage with evolutionists to do this do you?

    (Also – what safeguards would you recommend to ensure that you and your colleagues are not influenced by your own particular religious premises and convictions?)

  108. Mr Herb,

    Hi, I give you a lot of respect for saying that you see a problem in your own argument. It takes guts and honesty with yourself. Thank you.

  109. 109

    Coyne did not mean for his views on what God would or would not do to be a test of evolution. It is meant to allow for an empirical comparison between the two competing theories, attempting to find the “best explanation” (or at least the better explanation). Evolution’s prediction of what is likely to be seen is to be compared with Creationism’s prediction of what is likely to be seen, and the one with an outcome more like what is actually observed is considered the better explanation. The fact that one theory is more plausible than a competing theory doesn’t somehow count as extra evidence in favor of that theory. This is not, and is not intended to be, evidence for evolution. In other words, the veracity of the ToE is not dependent in any way upon the assumptions being made about God (unless you count the null hypothesis that God wasn’t necessary which is present in all scientific theories…more on that below).

    The problem is that Creationism’s answer to everything is “God did it” which means that all possible outcomes are predicted. Coyne was attempting to limit this to something testable in what he hoped would be a logical way, i.e. he asked himself “If I were God, what would I do?” If the answer is just about anything other than “I’d make it look exactly like evolution took place” then the results would almost certainly look different than what we actually observe. In other words, any attempt to limit creationism to something testable leads to predictions that are at odds with what we observe, making evolution the better explanation. Again, this is not, and is not intended to be, evidence in favor of evolution. It is merely an empirical comparison of one theory to another to see which is the “better explanation”.

    Of course, one could argue that making any assumption at all regarding God, even the null hypothesis that God wasn’t necessary, makes it religious by definition (I think this is basically what Cornelius is arguing). If that is the case then every hypothesis ever proposed is equally religious. “Where are my car keys? Maybe I left them on the kitchen counter.” That’s a religious hypothesis about where my keys might be because I first assumed that God didn’t take them and I can’t actually know what God would or would not have done with my keys. If I find my car keys on the kitchen counter, I still would have to assume that God didn’t put them there before I could conclude that I left them there myself. That means that even after gathering evidence which seems to support my original hypothesis it’s still religious by definition.

  110. 110

    I apologize if these points have already been covered. I don’t get to be here as often as I’d like and I just posted without reading (m)any other comments first.

  111. 111

    I am YEC and I love and insist that biogeography is a friend to biblical Christianity.
    It all works and this coyne is just wrong.

    This creationist says marsupials are in fact just placentals with minor adaptions to areas they migrated too.
    A marsupial wolf, bear, lion, mole, tapir, mouse, are in fact the same creatures as their namesakes in other countries.
    The marsupial wolf looked like a dog, moved like a dog, hunted like some kinds of dogs, and howled at the moon like the others.
    The marsupial lion is clearly just a lion with a pouch.

    These creatures all came from the kinds off the ark.
    Marsupialism is just a minor change of the same creatures entering the farthest areas on earth from the ark.
    Likewise this law is repeated in the fossil record time and again . Same shaped creatures are said to be unrelated because of some details and classified as separate with no more justification then the marsupial/placental case.
    I wrote an essay on this some time back calledd “Post Flood Marsupial Migration Explained” by Robert Byers. just google.

    Coyne and company must also remember YEC don’t accept the rock strata as coming from eons but only from a single or few events.
    Please stop saying creatures swam from the ark. They walked . Just ask the armidillos.

  112. 112
    Cornelius Hunter

    Hoki (106):

    This is absolutely correct, and your change goes to show why religious assumptions should not be made. In an earlier thread you pointed out that the ratio of the likelihood of evolution/creationism was easy to make high by using religious assumptions (for creationism) that had low probabilities. I agree completely, but in saying that, the ratio given while doing so will always be lower than if one was to use ID as the denominator. The reason for this is that ID says nothing about the designer, ensuring that all ID scenarios are equally likely. Subsequently, the likelihood for ID will be zero and the evolution/ID ratio will be infinitely large. In other words, comparing the likelihood of evolution versus a hypothesis with religious assumptions gives evolution a SMALLER likelihood.

    Interesting observation.

    KRiS_Censored (109):

    Coyne did not mean for his views on what God would or would not do to be a test of evolution. It is meant to allow for an empirical comparison between the two competing theories, attempting to find the “best explanation” (or at least the better explanation).

    No, evolutionists do not claim that evolution is merely a better explanation. They claim it is a fact as much as gravity is a fact.

    Evolution’s prediction of what is likely to be seen is to be compared with Creationism’s prediction of what is likely to be seen, and the one with an outcome more like what is actually observed is considered the better explanation. The fact that one theory is more plausible than a competing theory doesn’t somehow count as extra evidence in favor of that theory.

    It is taken as a compelling argument, proving evolution to be a fact.

    the veracity of the ToE is not dependent in any way upon the assumptions being made about God.

    The denialism in evolution is remarkable. They rely on religious arguments and literally turn right around and claim there is no religion here.

  113. Cornelius,
    you need to work on your blockquote skills. I was completely baffled until i went and re-read the original posts you were quoting.

    in any case, i don’t think it’s a stretch to say that there has been no, or very little, mention of god or creationism in the peer-reviewed evolution literature for the last 50 years. so where are the religious arguments? I have never read an evo bioarticle that states “the scenario we describe is much more likely than the ID scenario because of xx” you seem to be basing your arguments on blog posts and popular science books, not the actual science.

  114. Robert Byers,

    Nice to see you posting here. If I understand your argument correctly, you are saying that biogeography “works”, but that the evos are interpreting the evidence incorrectly. Furthermore, some population(s) descended from the original dog kind microevolved marsupial features over the last 4500 years while migrating by land to Australia. I hadn’t heard this particular hypothesis before, but it sounds plausible to me. Even more importantly in view of the topic of this thread, you haven’t based your argument on any religious premises, which is where Coyne and the Darwinists go wrong.

  115. Hey Robert: what about the monotremes? Are they just egg-laying “minor” modifications of the placentals too? Oh, and don’t forget the lack of nipples, and bones no other mammal has, and, well a plethora of other differences.

    But let’s entertain the ‘modified placental’ notion for a moment longer: as a total guess, maybe you think the echidna is just a microevolved porcupine, but then where the hell did the platypus come from? Now-extinct duck-billed otters or something? Maybe they hybridized with beavers? And how would egg-laying be a result of them adapting to Australia and New Guinea? Why didn’t all the marsupials start laying eggs too once they got there? Or should I just assume the monotremes were specially created and that’s that? Oh, but wait: if that’s the case, how come they’re only in Australia and New Guinea? And what’s with the distribution of monotreme fossils? Why have so many been found only in Australia? I’m getting the feeling that maybe biogeography isn’t quite as friendly to YEC as you’d like to think.

  116. Robert Byers

    I wrote an essay on this some time back calledd “Post Flood Marsupial Migration Explained” by Robert Byers. just google.

    Interesting stuff. Still, I would appreciate if you would add a section about the identity of Homo sapiens and Homo vespertilio.

  117. 117

    Herb.
    Thanks.
    Yes evos misinterpretat. Yet more so they can’t use it against biblical creationism. Its works fine and better if one examines presumptions.
    Not religious influence but I do start from the biblical boundaries of animal migration post flood. so the Australian anomaly mist be explained. Whats there and whats not. I explain it from observation and fossil evidence.
    I see the marsupial change as instant adaption and so over and done within a few centuries at most after the flood and before a rise in water levels bringing an end to more migration over that Wallace line close to Australia.
    The theme of same shaped creatures is not well known by the public and only the marsupial cases are discussed.
    Yet in fact evolution makes claims of convergent evolution to explain, for example, four bear looking creatures that they say are unrelated. Just niche convergence brought about the same looks.
    Hogwash say I.
    These are all the same bear with minor details due to locality influence.
    Convergence evolution is wrong and distorted classification structures.

  118. 118

    dbthomas
    No problem with your points.
    Monotremes are also minor adapted critters to certain areas.
    Laying eggs is not a big deal or should define kinds.
    Snakes deliver young live and by eggs. Yet no one denies they are snakes.
    The platypus is just some otter or rodent with some need to lay eggs.
    Its been a error to define creatures by these details.
    Marsupials are in fact some 97% the same as other creatures. The rest is minor details.
    The marsupial wolf which is not extinct but was seen on live and still pictures shows a very common looking dog.
    It should be the first conclusion that a dog looking creature is a dog and the detail of a pouch is a minor adaptation common to all the creatures in a certain area. Not that the reproductive style defines creatures and then a leap of faith that great sameness of physical form came from great selection pressures from certain niches.
    A dog is a dog regardless of a pouch.
    Biogeography being founded on evolution classification systems will frustrate creationism but will not if the presumptions of the classification system are replaced.
    I say a great replacement is in order and is in the mail.
    Stay tuned folks.

  119. A while back, William Dembski posted a list of ID predictions.(see “http://www.uncommondescent.com/adminstrative/what-happened-to-colson-praises-peta/#comment-172093″). I thought it would be interesting to examine these in the light of Cornelius’ posts regarding religious assumptions. Here is a synopsis of Dembski’s ID predictions:

    1: “Thus most organs should not be vestigial, and most DNA should not be “junk DNA.””
    2: “ID predicts that the cell would have such engineering features” (re cellular “machines”)
    3: “ID has always predicted that there will be classes of biological systems for which Darwinian processes fail irremediably…”

    Points 1 & 2 can be written as: we expect Observation X given ID or Pr(O,ID). The problem is that ID says nothing about the designer, so we have no reason to expect one observation more than any other. I.e., all observations are equally likely. Unless, that is, one makes some religious assumptions regarding ID first. So, my blanket statement is that if a probability is (or can be) expressed as Pr(O,ID) one has to use religious assumptions.

    Predictions #3 above is a slightly different kettle of fish. The best way I can think of writing it formally is as Pr(NOT CSI,NOT ID). Leaving aside that it really isn’t an ID prediction, wouldn’t one have to make a religious assumption in order to say that a designer would NOT be involved in the creation of any given observation?

    Any thoughts about the above?

    NOTE: “religious” assumption does not mean that there has to be a god involved. It simply means that we assume that a designer would do X rather than ~X. This is, I think, what Cornelius means as well.

  120. Mr Byers,

    Marsupials are in fact some 97% the same as other creatures. The rest is minor details.

    The 98% industry will be beating a path to your door.

  121. 121
    Cornelius Hunter

    Khan (113):

    I have never read an evo bioarticle that states “the scenario we describe is much more likely than the ID scenario because of xx”

    I addressed this here.

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