Home » Intelligent Design » An Open Challenge to Neo-Darwinists: What Would It Take to Falsify Your Theory?

An Open Challenge to Neo-Darwinists: What Would It Take to Falsify Your Theory?

A criticism which neo-Darwinists have frequently made of Intelligent Design is that it is not a “scientific” theory. ID, they say, explains the bacterial flagellum by saying “God [sic] made it”. However, they complain, it doesn’t say when God made it, how God made it, what material substrate God was acting on when he made it, etc. It therefore gives scientists nothing to go on, nothing to work with, nothing on which they can base experiments which could confirm or disconfirm the explanation.

In contrast, they believe, Darwinian explanations give scientists something to work on. The hypothesis that the flagellum slowly evolved, through a series of intermediate, functional steps, allows for testing. One can look for possible intermediate steps, e.g., the Type III secretory system, and confirm whether or not they exist in nature. One can study mutation rates and reproduction rates of bacteria, and calculate how many mutations have probably occurred over any given length of time, to see if enough time was available for the evolution of a flagellum, and so on. Thus, in their minds, Darwinism is a scientific theory, whereas ID is not.

It is clear that this line of argument presupposes a particular criterion for what makes an explanation scientific. To be scientific, a proposal, hypothesis or theory must be testable. We must be able to find evidence in nature that could confirm or disconfirm it.

Some ID critics narrow this down further, and say that scientific theories must be falsifiable. That is, ID cannot expect to be taken seriously as a scientific theory unless it is willing to specify a set of observations (taken directly from nature or resulting from experiments) that could prove it to be wrong.  ID must say what it would take to falsify the existence of the proposed Intelligent Designer.

Now there has been a long debate over whether falsifiability is a good criterion to apply to scientific theories. The most frequently cited champion of falsifiability is of course Karl Popper, and as everyone here knows, many philosophers of science have disputed Popper’s claims. I do not propose to enter into the arguments here. I will say only that I find falsifiability, if not an absolute requirement of any scientific theory, at least a highly desirable element in a scientific theory, and I will refer readers to Popper’s writings if they want a detailed justification of this. A brief justification, in Popper’s own words, is available on-line.

For the purpose of my challenge here, however, my own view on falsification is irrelevant.  Here I am going to agree, not out of personal conviction but purely for the sake of argument, with those neo-Darwinians who insist that scientific theories must be falsifiable. But then I am going to ask them to apply that standard to their own theory. I am going to ask them whether neo-Darwinism is itself falsifiable. I believe it is not, and that therefore, by their own criterion, it does not qualify as science.

Now I know that when this argument has been made in the past, neo-Darwinians have issued a standard answer.  They say that Darwinian evolution is easily falsifiable. All one has to do is find a Cambrian rabbit, or any other fossil that is so far out of sequence that the creature in question cannot have evolved by stepwise Darwinian means. This, however, for reasons given by others, is not an adequate answer. Many ID proponents have no problem with the notion of common descent. They have no problem with the notion that one creature has been used as the basis of a subsequent and more advanced creature. They therefore do not reject “evolution”, and they have no desire to find a Cambrian rabbit or a Jurassic monkey. What they reject is the Darwinian “chance plus natural selection” explanation of evolution. So what neo-Darwinians are being asked, when they are being asked about falsification, is not “What would falsify common descent?” It is: “What would falsify your theory that small, incremental steps, which occur due to genetic accidents, can be combined into useful new structures, up to and including the creation of entirely new functional body plans?”

This is the question that I am putting to neo-Darwinists today. What would it take to falsify your belief, for example, that land creatures are ultimately modified fish, transformed by slow, tiny and wholly fortuitous steps from gill-breathers to lung-breathers? What genetic, developmental, or other evidence would you accept as a demonstration that fish could not have become land-dwelling creatures via purely Darwinian means? What genetic, developmental or other evidence would you accept as a demonstration that the camera eye could not have developed by purely Darwinian means?

When ID people read Darwinian literature, we get the strong impression that Darwinians do not ask whether Darwinian means are capable of producing their alleged effects. They appear to be asking only how Darwinian means did so. And when one possible evolutionary pathway is shown to be impossible on scientific grounds, another pathway, always within Darwinian assumptions, is put forward to replace it. At no point, as far as we can see, do Darwinians ever say: “Well, maybe we have been wrong all along. Maybe Darwinian explanation cannot account for evolutionary change.” And so, when we read in Darwinian polemics that ID is “unscientific” because it will not commit itself to any model of the designer’s action specific enough to be falsified, we are rather irritated by the apparent double standard, because we have not seen such a falsifiable model in the Darwinist literature.

So, again, here is the challenge to neo-Darwinians: What would it take for you to concede, not just that this or that proposed evolutionary pathway is wrong, but that the entire Darwinian explanation of evolutionary change is wrong? What evidence would it take for you to concede that small, random, stepwise changes cannot produce the specific macroevolutionary effects that the fossil record appears to record? And the corollary question is: If you are unwilling to specify in advance what it would take to falsify neo-Darwinian mechanisms, are you willing, here and now, either to admit that neo-Darwinism is not a scientific theory, or to drop the requirement of falsifiability which you have laid upon ID?

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

151 Responses to An Open Challenge to Neo-Darwinists: What Would It Take to Falsify Your Theory?

  1. Atheists have an emotional need for Darwinism to be true – it isn’t based on rational science – as American preacher RT Kendall, formerly of Westminster Chapel, said, ‘the God of the Bible is one who makes men angry.’

  2. Fossil rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian – or did someone already say that?

  3. Sometimes this debate reminds me of a war where the two sides are firing artillery at each other or sending in snipers hoping that they will weaken the other or even defeat them. IDers have a lot of common ground with neo-Darwinists. Why don’t we start peace talks and work out the points that we agree on rather than issuing challenges?

  4. Oh, yes, you did – although J B S Haldane said it first, I believe.

    Your problem is that a great weight of evidence has already been amassed in support of evolution. Overturning that is going to require something as dramatic as finding human fossils from the same period as the dinosaurs, for example. If the evidence in favor of evolution continues to accumulate then, at some point, the question becomes: just how much evidence is it going to take before you concede that the theory is actually the better explanation? Or are you saying that there is nothing that will persuade you?

  5. I guess I am just slow about this whole scientific thing. Seversky, could you tell me what you mean by “amassed in support of evolution” and how that was done scientifically? The question posed was one of “falsifiability” was it not? The construct of evolution is so unscientifically promoted that I must stifle a Pauli sneer at every new instance of an “evidence” of evolution.

    “Amassing support” seems more like the modus operandi of a fearful villager outside of Frankenstein’s castle than that of a diligent scientist.

    I am sure that “if or when” a bunny is found in the Pre-Cambrian (“if or when” it makes little difference to the argument), some disciple of Gould and/or Eldgridge will have a double-pumped-inverto-plastico-hyper-punctuated-model to ADD to the theory of evolution.

    And that is really the point, isn’t it? Evolution will never be overthrown, will it, Darbots. But it is not because of the amassed evidence, but because of the amassed inferences, theories, hypotheses, and then conjectures, stories, hyperboles, illuminating lies, etc . . .

    How can I be so sure of this. Well, it is how evolutionary theory has made it thus far.

    I may be slow at science, but I know what Pauli meant when he said “. . . not even false.” Ironic to see that I can now apparently heap that onto “not even falsifiable.”

    You see, Seversky, we are quite far from conceding the theory’s explanatory power if in an important sense we barely consider it a theory. But, I am no scientist . . .

    Pauli was, though, I wonder what he’d say . . .

  6. With the amount of evidence that supports evolution, falsifying it at this point would be like trying to falsify atomic theory. I suppose it might be possible somehow but I don’t know how you’d do it and I wouldn’t waste my time trying. Furthermore, falsifying evolution wouldn’t prove ID. To do that I think you’d have to catch one of the intelligent designers in the act.

  7. Seversky is one of the anti ID people who roam here spewing out nonsense and then says QED and doesn’t understand anything about the argument or repeats bogus opinions.

    There is no amassed evidence for macro evolution. It is all for micro evolution for which we agree. ID does not want to over turn NDE, it just wants to expand it to consider other options that are not as self limiting as those currently practiced by many of its adherents.

    Just the other day we asked for evidence of macro evolution from a evolutionary biologist and got back micro evolution. So obviously the lack of empirical information in this area is lacking, just what we have been saying for a long time.

    Thank you Seversky for helping ID by exhibiting that you do not know anything. You continue to contribute to our position.

  8. I am sorry I left out B L Harville who also shows his ignorance and thus helps our cause. When will an anti ID person make a coherent comment. We are waiting.

  9. jerry
    once again you claim there is no evidence for macroevolution and curiously forget endosymbiosis. it has been pointed out to you numerous times (including in Allen’s post) and yet ou never address it, other than to say that some people (like Cornelius Hunter, whose post is rife with both factual and logical mistakes) still don’t believe it. are you ever going to explain why you do not accept the evidence for endosymbiosis, and/or why you do not think it is macroevolution?

  10. I am sure that “if or when” a bunny is found in the Pre-Cambrian (”if or when” it makes little difference to the argument), some disciple of Gould and/or Eldgridge will have a double-pumped-inverto-plastico-hyper-punctuated-model to ADD to the theory of evolution.

    …it is how evolutionary theory has made it thus far

    So true. Let’s see how many epicyclic modifications of the theory there have been so far:

    1) Kin selection (to explain apparent altruism among kin)

    2) Group selection (to explain apparent alruism among unrelated members of the same species)

    3) Sexual selection* (to explain traits that are detrimental to it’s bearer)

    4) Cooperative games (a branch of game theory) to explain homosexuality

    5) Punc Eq. to explain/describe the fossil record

    * N.b. And incidentally, even within sexual selection there are 3 different theories: Rice and Holland’s Sexual Conflict theory, Fisher’s runaway model and Zahavi’s good genes model; all to explain different traits.

    Looks kinda suspect to me. Desperate attempts to save the theory perhaps?

  11. Also – please feel free to add to the list

  12. Things that would falsify Darwinism:

    1) If the age of the earth turned out to actually be only a few hundred thousand years

    2) If the inheritance mechanism turned out not to be particulate but consist only of blending.

    3) If acquired characteristics were inherited (as I am sure most readers know – there is evidence that this is true to a small extent – and to that extent Darwinism is false)

    4) If a designer made itself known and demonstrated how it created and maintained life.

    Of course there are zillions of things that would falsify common descent – but you explicitly ruled that out.

  13. Tim @ 5

    I guess I am just slow about this whole scientific thing. Seversky, could you tell me what you mean by “amassed in support of evolution” and how that was done scientifically?

    The evidence is all out there for someone who really wants to find it. A good place to start for the non-scientist would be the Talk.Origins Archive. And to paraphrase a question from another post: how many Tiktaaliks would it take to persuade you that the theory of evolution was good – or is there nothing that could do that?

    I may be slow at science, but I know what Pauli meant when he said “. . . not even false.” Ironic to see that I can now apparently heap that onto “not even falsifiable.”

    You see, Seversky, we are quite far from conceding the theory’s explanatory power if in an important sense we barely consider it a theory. But, I am no scientist . . .

    Pauli was, though, I wonder what he’d say . . .

    Pauli was a physicist not a biologist, although he developed an interest in evolution later in his career. In particular, he had doubts about the ability of chance mutations to account for the changes that are observed. As far as I know, though, he did not doubt that evolution had occurred. I also suspect that, given his sharp wit and tongue, he would have given short shrift to any biologist that trespassed on his turf of particle physics.

  14. At last, we have a post that will allow Darwinsts to show their stuff. With what fervor they come here seeking to critique the ID paradigm without even bothering to learn its language, precepts, and principles. With what persistence they demand an accounting of us fro what we believe, even as they remain perpetually unaccountable for what they themselves believe. How convenient it must be to always be scrutinizing and to never be scrutinized. Well, this is their hour.

    It is time for the ID critics to fill the cyberspace with their brilliance. Come back professor Olofsson, you who find every mathematical flaw real and imaginary with the ID synthesis. Show us how your precious model of neo-Darwinism stands up to the same test of mathematical rigor that you demand of us. Come back Allen MacNeill and take us on the intellectual jog from “goo” to “zoo” to “you.” Even a sequence or two of steps will go a long way toward resolving the mystery.

    Stand up and be counted Mark Frank, JayM, Rob, JT, Seversky, and all other Darwinist attack dogs. You have been on offense for so long, you seen to have forgotten how to play defense. Give it your best shot. Tell us how small incremental changes based on chance variations and natural selection can generate the kind of information found in a DNA molecule.

    I, for one, will set the bar hospitably low. Forget about facts, as if you didn’t already, just provide us with a fantasy model that could do the job. You don’t even have to explain how the raw materials arrived, though true intellectual integrity would demand as much. Just tell us how the raw materials could organize themselves in such as way as to produce human intelligence. Just to show you what a sport I am, I’ll even spot you an extra 10,000,000,000 years or so. How’s that for liberal hospitality?

    Oh yes, I almost forgot. Don’t send us to a website. If the Darwinist propoganda machine has persuaded you that clanging molecules can generate intelligence, or that mind can come from matter, summarize that argument and present it in abbreviated and comprehensible form. If you will discipline yourself to go through that exercise, you will immediately discover that, in spite of your loyalty to and faith in a failed belief system, you really have no argument to present.

  15. 15

    Seversky’s mention of Tiktaalik shows that he has not grasped the challenge. He should read the fourth-last paragraph carefully. The debate over whether or not evolution occurred is not the one I am raising. The debate I wish to have is over the claim that Darwinian mechanisms, all of which are non-intelligent, are sufficient to bring about the necessary changes to explain all the forms of living things on the planet. I am asking how we are supposed to test the efficacy of those mechanisms to bring about their alleged results. All the tests which Darwinists have proposed so far, e.g., predictions of intermediate fossils such as Tiktaalik, are tests for common ancestry, not for the Darwinian mechanism. But what mechanism produced Tiktaalik from its supposed ancestors? What mechanism produced Tiktaalik’s supposed descendants from itself? How does Seversky propose testing the hypothesis “Tiktaalik evolved from an earlier fish by means of random mutations plus natural selection”? What Seversky hasn’t grasped is that he needs to supply more than a sketchy morphological pathway for Tiktaalik’s line; he needs a working, nuts-and-bolts model of the genomic changes, developmental adjustments, etc. – a model that does not just sound good on paper but can be tested, as in: “I propose that Part X and Part Y and Part Z of the genome changed in precisely ways A and B and C, and that this had developmental results D and E and F, and that the new phenotype underwent selection pressures G and H and I, and here is how we can test to find out if all of those things could in fact have happened.” No Darwinist proposal, to my knowledge, ever achieves this level of specificity, and therefore no Darwinist explanation can ever be falsified.

    Mark Frank has shown a clear understanding of my challenge. However, except for the interesting case of acquired characteristics, which may prove important in coming years, he has made it too easy on himself, conveniently choosing two scientific objections that Darwinism long ago successfully met, and one unlikely future revelation which ID people do not expect and which in any case would not be merely scientific data and therefore is not to the point here. He has not specified possible falsifying evidence relating to the creation of complex integrated systems by means of random genetic changes combined with natural selection. What would convince him that a marine worm couldn’t have turned into arthropods, molluscs, jellyfish, vertebrates, etc. without the aid of intelligently-derived information, all within a span of five or ten million years? What genetic or developmental evidence would kill that as a realistic possibility? If there is no such evidence, if ANYTHING we discover from now on about genomes and development is compatible with the Cambrian explosion, then Darwinism is not a falsifiable theory.

  16. Ah the old Cambrian rabbit, horse etc. argument.

    We all know very well what would happen if any of that were found in the Cambrian or any where else they’re not supposed to be according the Darwin – just reclassify the strata. “It’s not Cambrian at all!”, they will say.

    And then quicker than you can say “hell” they’ll have mended the problem by reclassifying it.

    Sound familiar? It should. That’s exactly the way humanists (and politicians) reclassifed things that everyone used to know were wrong – change the name, change the terms of reference. Then get some deceptive marketing strategy (like the ‘boiled frog” strategy that the ‘gay’ marketeers did) and suddenly there is no rabbit in the Cambrian because it isn’t Cambrian anymore.

    In real life this is exactly what is done. The theory defines the strata so you can’t falsify it.

  17. 17

    I was going to propose that evidence of front-loaded software that, say, rapidly searches protein space were found, evolution would be falsified. But then, of course, the evolutionists would simply say that the software itself evolved.

  18. Seversky, B L Harville, Mark Frank,
    PLEASE READ THE ARTICLE BEFORE RESPONDING YOUR DRIVEL!

    The article clearly states, show a way of falsifying neo-Darwinism (the mechanism of random variation + natural selection in all of its variety HGT, etc.) without falsifying common descent. As many IDers accept common descent, this is only reasonable.

    You can start by explaining how a gene that has been established to be fully evolved (not changing species to species) suddenly took on 18 non-contiguous point mutations — namely the HAR1F gene.

    I believe that because it is such a tight environment, consisting of a single chain of about 115 nucleotides, it is a better challenge than the flagellum which involves more like 100,000 nucleotides.

  19. Seversky:

    Your problem is that a great weight of evidence has already been amassed in support of evolution. Overturning that is going to require something as dramatic as finding human fossils from the same period as the dinosaurs, for example.

    What? Please help me. Is this an example of a senior moment, evidence of not even having read the original post, or some kind of heretofore unidentified cerebral shortcircuit?

    I’m like Phil Johnson who stated that he would never answer a question about “evolution,” because it’s such a vague term.

    Yes, living things have changed over time. Yes, they have many things in common. And yes, with sufficient imagination and speculation one can find “evidence” of gradualism in the fossil record, but this is astronomically overwhelmed by evidence of profound and consistent discontinuity in the record.

    The challenge of falsifiabilty concerns the proposed mechanism and the proposed step-by-tiny-step functionally continuous search space, as well as the probabilistic resources. Can finch beak variation and antibiotic resistance be extrapolated to explain the complex information-processing machinery of the cell, and everything else about all living systems?

    That is the challenge, and Darwinists always evade it with obfuscation, because they know it’s a Himalayan evidential, logical, mathematical, statistical, and probabilistic dung heap.

    The following may appear off-topic, but it is not:

    Type or copy e^(i*pi)+1 = 0 into Google, and click on the first link.

    This is Euler’s famous identity. e is an irrational number generated by (1/0! + 1/1! + 1/2! + 1/3!…) and is the famous Euler number that appears everywhere in mathematics. i is the square root of -1 (the imaginary number). pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter and is also an irrational number. This equation combines all of the most essential numbers in mathematics into a beautiful identity.

    What do i, pi, e, 1 and 0 have to do with each other? i is a totally abstract concept, pi has to do with geometry, e is the basis of the natural logarithm, and e^x is its own derivative. 1 and 0 represent the basis of Boolean logic.

    Those who deny that there is intelligence and design behind all of this do so at their own peril, in my opinion, and without excuse.

  20. “ID must say what it would take to falsify the existence of the proposed Intelligent Designer.”

    That’s a logical impossibility. You can never falsify the existence of something. There will always remain the possibility that the search for the thing missed a place or that a place was searched but the thing was overlooked.

    You can’t even falsify the assertion that something was designed as it may have been designed and only appears to be not designed. Fortunately science doesn’t require strict falsification of things like this. All that needs to be done is show that design is unnecessary! Occam’s Razor then comes into play and we throw out unnecessary factors. To falsify an instance of design we just need to demonstrate a plausible non-design means of instantiation for the thing in question.

  21. Seversky

    The “vast amount of evidence” supports descent with modification from one or several common ancestors beginning hundreds of millions or billions of years ago.

    ID doesn’t dispute this. The mechanism that caused the modification is what ID disputes.

    Please write that down.

  22. From post:

    Some ID critics narrow this down further, and say that scientific theories must be falsifiable. That is, ID cannot expect to be taken seriously as a scientific theory unless it is willing to specify a set of observations (taken directly from nature or resulting from experiments) that could prove it to be wrong. ID must say what it would take to falsify the existence of the proposed Intelligent Designer.

    DaveScot:

    That’s a logical impossibility. You can never falsify the existence of something….

    This is why ID is not a theory, it is a meta-theory, a philosophy, something. There are a bunch of specific, falsifiable, theories within ID, however, such as IC, CSI, Haldane’s dilemma etc.

  23. The “vast amount of evidence” supports descent with modification from one or several common ancestors beginning hundreds of millions or billions of years ago.

    ID doesn’t dispute this. The mechanism that caused the modification is what ID disputes.

    There is a simple idea in philosophy which says that if something does happen then it can happen. Descent with modification does happen, therefore descent with modification can happen. As for mechanisms, the main mechanisms are well known and have been observed by biologists numerous times: mutations, sexual recombination of genes, natural selection and genetic drift. There are some new-fangled ideas like horizontal transfer of genes by retrovirus too. I’m not a biologist myself so please forgive me if I have left things out or over-simplified.

  24. In #15

    Mark Frank has shown a clear understanding of my challenge. However, except for the interesting case of acquired characteristics, which may prove important in coming years, he has made it too easy on himself, conveniently choosing two scientific objections that Darwinism long ago successfully met,

    Thanks for agreeing that I understood the challenge. You might point this out to bfast #18.

    Yes Darwinism met those challenges decades ago. But they are very relevant. They were important objections and at the time the majority of scientific opinion was that they were true. Darwinism required they would turn out to be false and they were.

    What might happen in the future? It is hard to think of big single things – the major ground work is done. If we find a planet behaving oddly now we don’ throw out Newton/Einstein. We assume there is something strange going on with the planet. It would take a gradual accumulation of oddities to overthrow such a well-established theory. I suppose a revelation about the mechanism of inheritance might do it – acquired characteristics is the best candidate.

    You should also bear in mind that evolutionary theory is being modified all the time in the light of experimental data. Darwinism is a very broad term.

    Some events would count against much of evolutionary theory without being complete refutations by themselves. Suppose for example a complete Eukaryotic cell evolved in a petri dish in hours from a bacterial culture. This is something that would cause a scientific sensation and would be strong evidence that there is more to evolution than trial and error. But the initial, rational, reaction before throwing out Darwinism would to (a) doubt the experiment – did something get into the culture (b) try to repeat it and understand what happened.

    I doubt you will get a strong case against Darwinism by studying the past except by refuting common descent. The big observable consequences were common descent and enough time. They are irrefutably established. The details of how did we get from (A) to (B) at a molecular level are going to regarded as conundrums to be solved not refutations. That’s entirely reasonable – given the track record of being able to find plausible solutions to many of these condundrums and the observed existence of the mechanisms needed to solve them (mutation, microevolution, inheritance etc).

  25. To GilDodgen

    Why does Euler’s formula imply an intelligent designer? Any formal logical system will contain some values that are ‘special’ or ‘fundamental’.

    Please show your working, the lack of math on this site is beginning to trouble me.

  26. khan,

    I never said that endosymbiosis was not macro evolution. I said I did not know enough about it to make a comment. I also said that Hunter questioned it as true and that someone should look at it to see what was known or not known.

    I have not argued that things like HGT don’t exist and are not a source for new capabilities for an organism. But given that, such a thing as endosymbiosis or HGT are not sources for new information. They are transfers of information. After the transfer, the genetic elements may take on new functions and I accept this and understand this. I just do not have enough information to question it or support it. But one always has to find where the original information came from.

    So your lame attempt at a gotcha was explained to you before but yet you persist with what is irrelevant. Two points are:

    1. You claim Hunter’s account is rife with factual and logical mistakes. I suggest you contact him because he is using his website as a work in progress so you could be of help to him on this subject. You are also welcome to voice all your criticisms here so we can see them. You can be the resident expert on endosymbiosis.

    2. The issue of macro evolution is over the development of new information and new systems and not the transfer of information or morphological changes which indeed may be cause by as little as a SNP.

    So I suggest you read what is said and not put your own interpretation on it to suit yourself. The failure to address the point under contention is an admission that the point is valid. The fact that you rather than not deal with us on the issues we raise is again a way of helping us and we thank you for your silent support.

  27. 27

    After countless conversations with Darwinists, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is virtually impossible to get them to understand what ID supporters are actually criticizing and “doubting” when it comes to modern evolutionary theory.

    It’s not so much a question of falsification; it’s a question of support in the first place. When I ask, “Can you direct me to any empirical evidence that RM&NS can, over the course of millions of years
    generate a novel, functioning organ like the eye, or a limb/ability feature like winged flight? There is of course no such empirical evidence.

    When asked to be directed to any statistical study or simulation based on realistic parameters that shows it is even possible, they again fall silent. There is no such evidence.

    Yes, there is evidence for common descent; there is evidence that RM&NS can slightly modify existing forms. That is not the question.

    Historical evolution – epochal evolution – is only a speculative extrapolation that has never been shown to even be able to produce what it is taught as scientific fact to have produced.

    That is pure ideology masquerading as science.

  28. 28

    The most prominent, “falsifiable” prediction of RM&NS was the “long, slow” process of evolution.

    I asked the other day, how long does it take evolution to create all the major body plans we see to day? The answer is that 3.7 billion years is long enough. When asked for a lower limit, they fell silent. Why? Because it doesn’t matter how much time it takes; what time you have must be sufficient.

    The irony here is that Darwin himself felt that 100 million years was far too little time for his own theory to work, but that is exactly what the evidence of the Cambrian Explosion shows: that it apparently only takes 10-80 million years for RM&NS to do all the heavy macro-evolutionary lifting.

    RM&NS as the driver for epochal evolution was “falsified” by the burgess shale. RM&NS is, IMO, no more responsible for “macroevolution” than an accumulation of yearly seasonal variations in the temperature and weather are responsible for the cycle of ice ages.

  29. B.L. Harville @ 23 wrote: “There is a simple idea in philosophy which says that if something does happen then it can happen. Descent with modification does happen, therefore descent with modification can happen.”

    That is the logical fallacy of questionable cause. It presents a causal relationship for which no real evidence exists. Try again.

  30. Jerry,
    First, considering that one of your main arguments on this board is that there is no evidence for macroevolution, perhaps you should consider learning enough about endosymbiosis to make a comment.If I was challenging one of the fundamental tenets of a science, I would know the arguments of my opponents backwards and forwards. Lynn Margulis has written multiple books about symbiosis in evolution, and one of them would be a nice place to start. but the evidence is summarized nicely on Allen’s site.
    Second, I posted before on my objections to Hunter’s site, but my comments somehow didn’t make it. Briefly, he makes a fundamental error in stating that organelles arose from symbiosis of two prokaryotes, when it was from a prok and an archaea. The rest of the post is devoted to how confused biologists are about the evolutionary relationships of arch, prok and euk (which is a weak argument anyway), but if he had not made this error he would know that the strongest evidence supports the fusion of arch-prok to make euk.
    THird, you can regress as far back as you want w the source of information, the point remains that endosymbioisis is a example of macroevolution, for which you claim there is no evidence.

  31. B. L. Harville

    There is a simple idea in philosophy which says that if something does happen then it can happen. Descent with modification does happen, therefore descent with modification can happen.

    Nobody’s disagreeing with you. The question is: are blind processes sufficient to account for the diversity of life we see today?

    Many Darwinians have a theological bee in their bonnets, so I’d like to remove the sting by telling a little story about a mischievous imp called Darwin’s demon.

    Darwin’s demon is a very active little fellow. He’s been very busy on Earth during the past four billion years. Every time a major evolutionary hurdle has to be crossed, Darwin’s demon picks on some hapless plant or animal and tinkers with some of its gametes. And hey presto! The next generation suddenly has all the genes it needs to cross the hurdle. No need to worry about viability of intermediate forms or structures which cannot be built up one step at a time – Darwin’s demon can handle all that. And his modus operandi is so subtle that to an untrained eye, the changes in plant and animal lineages over time appear to be the result of blind processes. Darwin’s demon also engineers bacterial evolution, using a dazzling variety of mechanisms at the microscopic level.

    Drawin’s demon was particularly active four billion years ago, when he engineered the first cell, and he also guided animal evolution over a 70-million-year period leading up to the Cambrian explosion. He had a lot of cellular programming work to do back then.

    Recently, Darwin’s demon has had a lot more spare time on his hands. Biologists have demonstrated that blind processes can generate new species of plants and animals, so Darwin’s demon has decided that he might as well not bother to push populations over relatively small evolutionary barriers. “After all, if nature can do the job, then why should I bother?” he says to himself. As more and more processes are discovered by scientists, Darwin’s demon has come to realize that for the past four billion years, he has been doing a lot of unnecessary work. “I could have saved myself so much effort!” he now laments. “If only I’d known about endosymbiosis, horizontal gene transfer, homeobox mutations and gene duplication! Nature could have accomplished most of what I’ve done!”

    Darwin’s demon is not yet out of a job, though. “I defy any of these scientists to show me that blind processes could have duplicated my best engineering feats!” he boasts. “If they can create a computer simulation that shows how a soup of simple organic compounds can generate a cell in the space of 100 million years, or how a one-celled animal can evolve into 30 different phyla of animals over a similar length of time, without my intervention, then I will fly away into the void, and never return to Earth!”

    Darwin’s demon is a joke, of course, but I’m sure you see my point. Until you can make him redundant, ID remains a perfectly rational option. To effectively kill Darwin’s demon, all you need is Occam’s razor, and LOTS of computing time.

    (By the way, has anyone tried to calculate how many computer operations would be required to check out the viability of all possible chemical pathways from the simplest organic molecules to the most primitive cell? I’m just curious.)

    Possible comebacks by evolutionists:

    (1) We’ve already shown that Darwin’s demon is redundant for explaining the emergence of new species. Sooner or later we’ll explain all the rest. Reply: that’s an unwarranted extrapolation. And it’s a bad one: as the first five pages of Alex Williams’ article, “Astonishing complexity of DNA demolishes neo-Darwinism” shows (see http://creationontheweb.com/im.....11-117.pdf and see http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/5174/ for a follow-up), the sophistication of the programming encoded in our DNA looks more and more impressive, the more closely we investigate the cell. It’s far ahead of anything the world’s best computer scientists could have come up with. The “God of the gaps” (or should I say, “demon of the gaps”?) argument just won’t work here: the gaps are growing, not shrinking.

    (2) We don’t know exactly how gravity works, or how continents drift, but we don’t go positing the existence of demons that push the continents, or that make apples fall to earth. Why make an exception for Darwin’s demon? Reply: these are not parallel cases, because the processes in question can be currently observed. Apples fall from trees every day. The movement of the continents has been measured, and if we extrapolate back 200 million years at present rates of movement, we can see that all the continents must have once been together. Evolution from one species into another has been observed; the evolution of a new phylum or of a cell from inanimate matter has not.

    (3) We don’t have enough computer resources to simulate the evolution of the first cell. You’ve set the bar so high that scientists will never be able to clear it. Reply: if that’s true, then that’s too bad for them. But is it true? What about quantum computing? Anyway, materialists keep telling us that the universe is infinite. So why can’t they tap into its infinite computing resources, if they’re so smart?

  32. Mark Frank

    I doubt you will get a strong case against Darwinism by studying the past except by refuting common descent. The big observable consequences were common descent and enough time. They are irrefutably established.

    I’m with you on common descent, but I have a simple question for you: how do you decide how much time is enough to account for the evolution of life on earth?

    Dawkins has coined the term “API” (argument from personal incredulity). I’d like to coin another term: “ALZ” (argument from lots of zeroes) to describe the credulity of Darwinians. It goes like this: “If I’m lucky, I might live to be 100. That’s one followed by two zeroes. History goes back about ten thousand years. That’s one followed by four zeroes. But the earth has been around for nearly five billion years! That’s five followed by NINE zeroes! Wow! I can’t even imagine a number that big! Anything could happen in that time!”

    To make my point more clearly, let me propose the following thought experiment. One fine morning, a famous evolutionary biologist (let’s call him Dr. Tom) is sitting at table, eating his marmalade and toast, and perusing the latest copy of “Nature” magazine. The headline on the front cover is very exciting: “Revolution in Geochronology!” Turning to the article, which is co-authored by seven Nobel Prize-winning physicists and seven famous geologists, Dr. Tom is surprised to learn that according to the latest research, rates of radioactive decay were slower by orders of magnitude, back in the days when the earth was being formed. Apparently, these rates did not stabilise at their present levels until about three billion years ago. The article goes on to explain that the earth is not 4.54 billion years old, as believed until now, but more like 4.54 trillion years old.

    What does Dr. Tom do? Does he (a) dash off an indignant letter to the Editor of “Nature,” arguing that trillions of years is much longer than the time needed for a bacterial cell to evolve from the primordial soup, or (b) run outside and do cartwheels in the street, exultantly exclaiming, “Trillions of years! Trillions! Woo-hoo! I always thought 100 million years wasn’t enough, even though I never dared say as much. Now I don’t need to worry about how abiogenesis could have occurred, after all!”

    Well, what DOES he do? You tell me.

  33. Here’s what I want to see and I’ve never seen it…

    One example of a non-intelligence creating information. Real information. Not snowflakes. Not some type of ‘order’. But information like that contained in DNA.

    Evolutionists cannot give any examples of this ever happening. Why do they hold to the idea that it can happen?

  34. I recently began a discussion on exactly this topic, and I see nothing new here being presented by the pro-darwin crowd.

    First, I think it is important to understand that the concept that is truly in question here is Universal Common Descent:

    Seversky,

    1 – You cannot show that your theory is falsifiable by presenting evidence in favor of it (duh!).
    2 – There are a number of solutions to your precambrian rabbit:
    a) Imperfection of the fossil record: fossils are sometimes non-static >>> some soft layers, some minor seismic activity, and materials sort themselves out of place. This is the SAME explanation given for fossilized tree trunks that penetrate multiple strata.
    b) Re-arrange the tree of life.
    c) Just because the rabbit lineage did not evolve does not mean that other lineages did not.
    d) Just because the rabbit lineage has remained static since the precambrian does not mean it did not evolve from earlier, unpreserved forms.
    e) Why not go the whole way, and say that ALL modern animals are found in the precambrian? This STILL would not prove that these animals did not evolve from earlier, unpreserved forms.

    You see, Seversky, you give up too easily. A good scientist NEVER says, “Well, it’s just TOO HARD to figure out, so I’m gonna stop trying.” I’ve come up with a number of solutions for your theory, and I’m not even sympathetic to it. It just takes is a little elbow grease, that’s all.

    ;-)

    Something else I would like to point out is that the argument for universal common descent is framed in a way that is inherently unfalsifiable. We sometimes get so caught up in working out the values of the variables of the argument, that we forget to examine how the argument is structured (this is why Phillip Johnson’s skills as a logician are relevant, even though he is not a biologist).

    No matter how you approach it, the only way to falsify universal common descent is to show that it did NOT happen in all possible scenarios. There is no way to confirm whether we have accounted for all possible scenarios. Therefore, it is impossible to prove that universal common descent did not occur.

    The problem is that we are dealing with a historical theory, pre-historical in particular, we are more in the business of determining the best explanations rather that proving or disproving. This is because we do not have direct access to the past. Any conclusions we make about the past, are predicated on the assumption that presently operating forces were also at work in the past. We might be able to come to reasonable conclusions, but that is very different from proving or disproving something.

    In my experience, the pro-darwin crowd largely cannot grasp this distinction.

    By the way: Can somebody PLEASE tell me how to add formatting to my posts (bold, italic, underline)? Ever time somebody tries to tell me, their post gets formatted and I can’t tell how they did it.

    :-p

  35. vjtorley,

    Time provides the opportunity, not the means.

    I think that about sums up your argument, does it not?

    I have made this argument many times. Even infinite probabilistic resources cannot guarantee all possible outcomes >>> In a universe without matter, matter will not interact, regardless of how many billions and trillions and zillions of years are available.

  36. ellijacket [31],

    It would be so much easier to falsify ID, wouldn’t it? They need only provide ONE example.

    Stephen C. Meyer said in a debate with Peter Ward that he would resign the discovery institute if your challenge was met.

  37. Quadfather

    Here is a sentence:

    The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

    Type a less-than sign, a small b and a greater-than sign immediately before the sentence. Now type a less-than sign, a forward-slash, a small b and a greater-than sign immediately after the sentence. That’s how you make bold type.

    The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

    Let’s try something different. Type a less-than sign, a small i and a greater-than sign immediately before the sentence. Now type a less-than sign, a forward-slash, a small i and a greater-than sign immediately after the sentence. That’s how you make italics.

    The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

    To make an underline, you simply type a small letter u before and after the sentence, instead of a small letter i. This is what you get:

    The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

    Let’s try one last experiment. Type a less-than sign, the word blockquote and a greater-than sign immediately before the sentence. Now type a less-than sign, a forward-slash, the word blockquote and a greater-than sign immediately after the sentence. That’s how you indent.

    The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

    One last word of advice. The forward slash is very important – if you forget it, everything that follows will be altered. Good luck!

  38. vjtorley,

    Ah, so it’s just regular html then … thanks!

    :D

    Now, on with the discussion!

  39. B L Harville,

    There is a simple idea in philosophy which says that if something does happen then it can happen.

    This is clearly a truism. However, the neo-Darwinian position is that if something has happend then it is the only thing that does happen. This is not quite so universally true.

  40. QuadFather:

    First, I think it is important to understand that the concept that is truly in question here is Universal Common Descent:

    While it is true that the pro-Darwinists are demonstrating ways that one could falsify UCD, however the challenge clearly stated:

    Many ID proponents have no problem with the notion of common descent. They have no problem with the notion that one creature has been used as the basis of a subsequent and more advanced creature. They therefore do not reject “evolution”, and they have no desire to find a Cambrian rabbit or a Jurassic monkey. What they reject is the Darwinian “chance plus natural selection” explanation of evolution.

    So the challenge is the falsifiability of the varacity of random (non-foresighted) events + natural selection.

  41. QuadFather:

    ellijacket [31],

    It would be so much easier to falsify ID, wouldn’t it? They need only provide ONE example.

    Stephen C. Meyer said in a debate with Peter Ward that he would resign the discovery institute if your challenge was met.

    Id is not falsifiable, I don’t care how loud Stephen Meyer says it will be. The ID theory that dominated the argument before the Discovery Institute came on the scene was the Young Earth creation theory. The theory that the earth is about 6000 years old has been blown to pieces (in my opinion.) Certainly most IDers would not give up on ID if the age of the earth, and life, was established as old to everyone’s mind.

    Therefore, as YEC is an ID-based hypothesis, to the extent that YEC has been falsified ID has been falsified — either that or ID is not a theory.

    There are many other falsifiable ID validating theories, such as CSI, IC etc. The latter are truly theories, the latter are falsifiable.

  42. bFast,

    Point well-taken, but I was responding directly to Seversky rather than brushing him off with qualifiers.

    I am sorry if this muddled the focus of this discussion, but I suppose what I wish to show is that even on a level where the pro-Darwin crowd is more comfortable, they cannot meet the challenge of showing their theory to be falsifiable.

    I think it is important to elucidate the fundamental difficulty in trying to falsify naturalistic common descent altogether. That includes chemical evolution and whatever else follows.

    As I said, I am looking more at how the variables are structured together rather than the variables themselves. And Darwinism is not structured in a way that lends itself to falsifiability.

    I think this is more fundamental to this topic than focusing on one particular chapter in the neo-darwinian fable. It applies to all chapters evenly.

  43. bFast,

    Well, I would agree that the historical conclusions of ID are no more falsifiable than any OTHER historical conclusions about pre-history – not very. But whether this historical conclusion is the backbone that must be broken is the question we must answer before deciding that ID is not falsifiable.

    When Stephen C. Meyer says that ID could be falsified if it were demonstrated that naturalistic processes could produce functional information, he is implying that the backbone of the theory is the necessity of intelligent intervention. Scientific historical conclusions flow from there, but are not the central claim. Without this backbone of necessity, historical conclusions would be arbitrary rather than scientific, and you no longer have a scientific theory.

    So it depends on how you frame the theory. If you frame it as Stephen C. Meyer does, then my opinion is that ID is easily falsifiable.

  44. bfast–Id is not falsifiable, I don’t care how loud Stephen Meyer says it will be. The ID theory that dominated the argument . . .

    You seem to be saying that each and every argument for design is ID Theory.

    The existence of God is not falsifiable. Faith in God is not falsifiable. The theory articulated by Behe and Dembski is falsifiable.

    The Dembski/Behe theory and God are not synonymous.

  45. Thomas Cudworth @15 says:

    I propose that Part X and Part Y and Part Z of the genome changed in precisely ways A and B and C, and that this had developmental results D and E and F, and that the new phenotype underwent selection pressures G and H and I, and here is how we can test to find out if all of those things could in fact have happened.

    Even if this was done, it wouldn’t mean anything. If this particular pathway were proved false, there are billions of other theoretical possibilities. You yourself said in the original post:

    What would it take for you to concede, not just that this or that proposed evolutionary pathway is wrong, but that the entire Darwinian explanation of evolutionary change is wrong?

  46. It’s been a couple of hours. Not trying to rush anyone but I posted this same question the other day and received no answer.

    “One example of a non-intelligence creating information. Real information. Not snowflakes. Not some type of ‘order’. But information like that contained in DNA.”

    If you are an evolutionist why do you hold to the idea that it can happen if it’s never been shown to happen?

  47. #40

    Quadfather (and indeed Tim)

    In #12 I listed four things that would falsify Darwinism which were not related to common descent. On rereading I am struck by the unreasonableness of Tim’s response.

    He accepts that all four falsify Darwinism. You would think that would be the end of the challenge. But no. They are not the kind of falsification he wants. The ones I chose were too easy.

    He wanted “evidence relating to the creation of complex integrated systems by means of random genetic changes combined with natural selection”. The first two (enough time and particulate inheritance) are required to create complex integrated systems by means of random genetic changes combined with natural selection.

    He asks “What would convince him that a marine worm couldn’t have turned into arthropods, molluscs, jellyfish, vertebrates, etc. without the aid of intelligently-derived information, all within a span of five or ten million years?”. The introduction of intelligently-derived information is a bit of cheat. He only asked for a refutation of Darwinism – not all methods that don’t require intelligence. Setting that aside if there were not enough time or inheritance were not particulate then I would be convinced that a marine worm couldn’t have turned into an arthropods via RM+NS.

    As far as establishing acquired characteristics were concerned he simply had no response.

    He dismissed the appearance of a designer on the basis that it was unlikely to happen. Sure – as Darwinism is true all falsifications are unlikely to happen.

    Will somebody tell me why I have not met this challenge?

  48. ellijacket [43],

    Don’t know if you saw my response at 34.

    I doubt you will be getting an answer any time soon.

  49. Sorry – throughout the post above I should have written Thomas where I wrote Tim. Apologies to both parties.

  50. Re #43

    Depends on your definition of information. The ID definition is effectively “order created by intelligence”. Not surprisingly you are unlikely to find such order created without the use of intelligence.

  51. Mark,

    So you are saying that DNA isn’t information? Take out the definition you put in quotes and just go by what you yourself see in DNA. Is it information or not?

  52. #48
    I am sorry. I really need to know which definition of information you are using. Here are four definitions from the web. In each case I will give you my opinion as to whether DNA is information in this sense.

    1)a message received and understood
    No. A message requires someone to be trying to communicate something.

    2) knowledge acquired through study or experience or instruction
    Obviously No.

    3) formal accusation of a crime
    Evne more obviously No.

    4) data: a collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn; “statistical data”
    Yes. But clearly such information can easily be produced by non-intelligent processes e.g. atmospheric pressure and temperature.

  53. Mark:

    Information is a fairly widely understood concept, these days: the entity known to be produced by intelligence, that can be stored in bits [even if digitalisation has to be done to get there . . . ], and which makes a performance difference to things that respond to the signals (modulations of physical and chemical etc parameters] sent that way.

    It turns out to be a matter of configurations, which are otherwise improbable and which are either inherently meaningful or else take up meaning from context and conventions. As such, they can be used to respond to and make advantageous use of opportunities in an environment, or to respond to challenges in the environment.

    Or, slightly modifying how I recently tutored some of my students:

    . . . information is data — i.e. digital representations of raw events, facts, numbers and letters, values of variables, etc. — that have been put together in ways suitable for storing in special data structures [strings of characters, lists, tables, "trees" etc], and for processing and output in ways that are useful [i.e. functional]. . . . Information is distinguished from [a] data: raw events, signals, states etc represented digitally, and [b] knowledge: information that has been so verified that we can reasonably be warranted, in believing it to be true. [GEM, UWI FD12A Sci Med and Tech in Society Tutorial Note 7a, Nov 2005.]

    It is only when the issue of getting to large quanta of functional information by chance + necessity [to get tot he threshold of function] that we see the selectively hyperskeoptical objections and obfuscations coming out.

    Why?

    Because of the implications of huge configuration spaces and associated high contingency. Undirected, stochastic, contingency is maximally unlikely to reach the beaches of islands of life-relevant function on the gamut of our observed cosmos, for just 1,000 bits worth. And, OBSERVED life is at 600 k bits up. So OOL as well as body-plan level biodiversity (which requires 10′s – 100′s of mega bits of increment in functional info), is beyond the reasonable reach of undirected processes. but, such scopes of funcitonal info are routinely produced by intelligence.

    So, there is a trick lurking in “falsification,” once we deal with a cosmos-history science. Such a science has to produce per inference to best explanation, a plausible account of the past. But, if the set of possible explanations is artificially constricted, or there is an insistence on disproof of a favoured theory, in a context where the best that can be had for any explanation is moral certainty, then a lot can be got away with.

    So, i think the issue is not falsification, but degree of warrant relative to what is reasonable for an account of the remote, unobserved past in light of what we do know about how things happen. And one of those things is that logical or physical possibilities are one thing, reasonable warrant that something is likely to be so is utterly another.

    Thus the hemming and hawing against reasonable assessments of probabilities implicated by OOL and macro-evolutionary scenarios.

    For, the scenarios are utterly probabilistically infeasible on the scope of our observed cosmos. (As far as I am concerned, that is already more than enough to discredit any such scenarios, as we have already a known and routine source of such information: intelligence.)

    So, to moral certainty [the relevant degree of proof], evolutionary materialism in general and Darwinian macro-evo have ALREADY been falsified, but attempts are being made to keep the dead man going as though nothing has happened over the past 60 years since 1948 – 53.

    Pardon, $ 0.02

    GEM of TKI

  54. Atmospheric pressure and temperature are equivalent to DNA? You sure you want to make that statement?

    I don’t think that would ride in Will Provine’s class.

  55. Mark Frank:

    In #12 I listed four things that would falsify Darwinism which were not related to common descent.

    I shall respond to your list:

    1) If the age of the earth turned out to actually be only a few hundred thousand years

    Let me suggest that a young earth would falsify universal common descent.

    2) If the inheritance mechanism turned out not to be particulate but consist only of blending.

    If I understand you correctly, we know right well that the primary inheritance mechanism (there seems to be some non-DNA inheritance) is particulate. You’re playing very save here.

    3) If acquired characteristics were inherited (as I am sure most readers know – there is evidence that this is true to a small extent – and to that extent Darwinism is false)

    This would imply lamarckan theory. However, I see no reason that the lamarckan theory and neo-Darwinism could not fully coexist. It does not seem unreasonable that, given all the other stuff attributed to neo-Darwinism, the lamarckan model could not also have evolved in the Darwinian sense.

    4) If a designer made itself known and demonstrated how it created and maintained life.

    Again this is a very safe play.

    Let me present my list of some of the things that should falsify neo-Darwinism:

    1: “Intentional” redundant systems not paired with a repair system in an asexually reproducing organism.

    By intentional, I mean that there is specific genetic mechanism involved in the redundancy, not just that gene b, which was a mutated offspring of gene a can still do the job of gene a in a pinch.

    Consider that if gene b can do gene a’s job as well as gene a can, then one of the two would not be missed if it abandoned its redundant role by mutating away. Consider that if gene b can do gene a’s job, but not as well, and if there is no repair mechanism that gets things back to rights pretty quickly, then any organism that had a damaged gene a would be handicapped. In an asexual environment I challenge that there is no reason whatsoever that darwinism would go out of its way to make a mechanism that actively keeps a handicapped organism around.

    2: Pattern in the DNA which are not explained by molecular drift, by the molecular clock. I point specifically to the candidate provided by Michael Denton of the Cytochrome C gene. It renders a “perfect” map of the phylogenic tree. Molecular drift would account for a simple map, but the fact that their is an aspect of “equidistance” within that map is not easily explained. (Please read Denton’s Evolution a theory in crisis for an accurate explanation of what I am talking about) One explanation provided has been the suggestion that the actual lifetime of a cell, birth to reproduction, has not changed significantly for the entire tree. If this were so, then the molecular clock, which seems to be a rather poor timekeeper everywhere else, actually is a very good timekeeper in the cytochrome C. I personally expect that this explanation would not hold up under serious scrutiny.

    I see the Cytochrome C as the equivelant of a copyright notice by the designer!

    3: DNA preserved but not expressed. It is possible that some DNA would be accidentally held in a preserved state because it was “caught up in another gene’s shadow” or similar. But barring this, DNA which is preserved but not expressed is an oxymoron in neo-Darwinism.

    This problem, of course, has raised its ugly head on a number of occasions. There have been mice with huge sections of highly preserved DNA which, upon initial examination, seem none the worse for wear. There have been segments of ultra-conserved DNA which have been removed from organisms without apparent degradation.

    Now, I don’t know that enought study has been done on these cases to confirm that there is “no meaningful degredation”. However, finding such should absolutely falsify neo-Darwinism.

    4: True altruism. If an organism has specific DNA which plays a beneficial role for others, and there is no pathway of the favor being returned, this, in my view, would be absolutely unworkable within the neo-Darwinian context.

    5: Lack of drift. Molecular drift is supposed to occur. The molecular clock is supposed to tick.

    A while back a bacterium was uncovered that is believed to have been in stasus for 250 million years. It was revived. It was analyzed. To the shock of the researchers it did not show anything like the drift that was expected. The question of its true age has been tested a half dozen ways, each time showing that it was in stasus for 250 million years.

    This data should be perplexing to the neo-Darwinist. Without molecular drift, neo-Darwinism is wrong. I will add that this is also surprising to the IDer. The ID + neo-Darwinism crowd (of which I am one) expects that drift happens. The suggestion in this finding is that the intelligent agent is also a micromanager, that there is very little left to random chance.

    I have about a half-dozen other serious challenges to neo-Darwinism, but I present these for this discussion.

  56. Re #51

    Of course not – I guess I need to make things a bit clearer.

    I am saying that according to definition 4 of information there are many examples of information generated by natural causes, for example atmospheric pressure and temperature which are clearly a collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn; “statistical data”.

    Now to come back to the point – what definition of information do you want to work with?

  57. bfast #52

    So you accept two of my criteria for falsifying Darwinism – your only comment being that I am “playing safe”.

    I don’t know why a young earth would falsify common descent but in any case it also falsifies RM+NS – so that’s irrelevant.

    I should have been cleared about inheritance of acquired characteristics. I meant if it were found to take place on a large scale. Then Darwinism would not be the prime driver of change as currently thought.

    Seems like I still have met the challenge – right?

  58. Mark, (#55)

    DNA doesn’t work like that. Everyone knows it doesn’t work like that.

    kairosfocus did a better job at #52 explaining the issue than I will attempt here.

  59. Re #58

    DNA doesn’t work like what?

    Do you know which definition of information you are working with? If so, can you tell me? If not, why not decide?

    (I am sorry. There is no time to read all comments and so I don’t read KF’s comments. They are generally too long and hard to follow.)

  60. Eh? KF may be verbose but I don’t see how what he’s writing is hard to follow. In fact, it’s nice how he breaks up his points into a point-by-point progression.

    Still, something can be said for clearness in communication. For example, I’ve long felt that Dembski’s popular works would be augmented by teaming up with a writer. People might accept his ideas more readily if they’re clearly communicated and understood. I’ve also always felt that Behe is the better writer of the two.

  61. Patrick

    Maybe I am hard on KF- but time is limited. However, it is not limited tonight so I will take deep breath and start reading KF’s comment.

    Here’s the first paragraph.

    Information is a fairly widely understood concept, these days: the entity known to be produced by intelligence, that can be stored in bits [even if digitalisation has to be done to get there . . . ], and which makes a performance difference to things that respond to the signals (modulations of physical and chemical etc parameters] sent that way.

    Care to translate for me?

  62. Mark,

    If you won’t read what KF wrote then why should I write anything? It would be the same thing since he said it better than I can.

    I am going off of the definition you said you accepted. You said:

    data: a collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn; “statistical data”
    Yes.

    But clearly such information can easily be produced by non-intelligent processes e.g. atmospheric pressure and temperature.

    From that statement I assumed you were connecting DNA to temperature. I think KF answers rather well.

  63. He’s talking about converting between formats that information is stored in and how that relates to performance. But, yeah, I’d say that KF went off on a tangent in writing that paragraph. I have several friends who often go off into tangents when in technical discussions so I’m used to it.

    In any case, have fun with this conversation. I have to run.

  64. Patrick:

    Thanks.

    1 –> In fact, over the years, I have learned that a methodical step by step answer is often required if we are to address the sort of rhetorical objections we face.

    2 –> In particular, since much of it is premised on the theory of buckshot: scatter a lot of shot int eh general direction, so if one or a few get through, that is enough.

    3 –> There is also a place for short and sharp summaries and witty remarks, but without something step by step and methodical, the evo mat advocates will always resort to rhetorical “dance like a butterfly sting like a bee” debate games. [And those who know me will know that I almost never use "rhetoric" or "debate"in a positive sense. This is no exception.]

    4 –> Mark has long since said he will not read anything I have to say, and claims that he does not understand.

    5 –> I suggest — with all due respect, Mr Frankthe first problem is the father to the second.

    6 –> And, so, I really answer his claims for the sake of onlookers, as we do need to deflect all the buckshot. (In future I need to preface anything about his comments with “re MF” or the like.)

    GEM of TKI

  65. Let me present my list of some of the things that should falsify neo-Darwinism: …

    4: True altruism. If an organism has specific DNA which plays a beneficial role for others, and there is no pathway of the favor being returned, this, in my view, would be absolutely unworkable within the neo-Darwinian context.

    Well here’s an example of true altruism*:

    Holocaust rescuers who aided the escape of Jews, despite the lack of any personal gain AND the great cost they incurred. Regarding the rescuers;

    - They were often completely unrelated to those they aided
    - They recieved no reward (everything was done in secret)
    - They often experienced deprivation of food, space and social commerce
    - They put themselves under extreme emotional distress
    - They put their own lives at risk
    - They put the lives of their friends and family at risk

    Neo-Darwinism flatly fails in any kind of explanation here. In fact I don’t think you could get much further from the selectionist paradigm if you tried. Thus if the above criteria is used, this should falsify neo-Darwinism.

    *Credit to Jeffrey Schloss who’s done some great work on this topic.

  66. #62

    If you are using that definition then quite obviously there are loads of examples of information being created by non-intelligence. Atmospheric pressure and temperature records are both facts from which conclusions may be drawn and statistical data and they are not created by intelligence.

  67. #64 KF

    For obvious reasons I am reading this comment which is very clear and to the point. Short sentences, simple, concrete words.

    I am sorry to be so direct but I am not the only one to point out that your comments are unusually long. They are also typically full of long abstract words which can be intepreted in many different ways. Someone who is broadly in agreement with you will put their own interpretation on those words and proceed happily. If, like me, I generally don’t agree, then I need to clarify exactly what they mean and that’s hard work.

    For example,what is a “performance difference”?

    The practice of numbering your points is very useful but not sufficient to make up for the .

  68. How about:

    information: a limited set of symbols that represent physical states.

    information processing: the conversion of symbols into physical states, or of physical states into symbols.

  69. A number of people on this site say they believe in common descent but also believe that species can’t evolve from other species without intelligent intervention. This is a contradiction. If I went into a laboratory and used laboratory equipment to alter the genome of species A so as to create a new species B, I would not say that species B was commonly descended from A. I would say that species B was genetically engineered. The accepted definition of common descent does not include genetic engineering. Therefore, if you believe that species on this planet were genetically engineered by intelligent designers it is disingenuous for you to say that you believe in common descent.

  70. B L Harville:

    The accepted definition of common descent does not include genetic engineering.

    Absolutely, it does! At least in the ID sense of the word, it does. If I take a rabbit, add a gene that makes it glow in the dark, the rabbit still had a mother and a father.

    A number of people on this site say they believe in common descent but also believe that species can’t evolve from other species without intelligent intervention. This is a contradiction.

    Firstly, many IDers, myself included, are of the mind that species (classicly defined) do come about without need of intelligent guidance.

    Secondly, this statement is only a contradiction if your interpretation of “common descent” is correct. As far as the ID community is conserned, if any creature had a mother and a father, or is the product of asexual cloning, then it conforms to common descent, even if it contains some other-world genetic engineering.

    It makes no sense to begin a debate with IDers by trying to force your definition onto terms. Wikipedia defines common descent as follows,

    A group of organisms is said to have common descent if they have a common ancestor.

  71. B. L. Harville

    If I went into a laboratory and used laboratory equipment to alter the genome of species A so as to create a new species B, I would not say that species B was commonly descended from A.

    If you altered the genome of an existing species A in order to create species B, then it would indeed be stretching it a bit to claim that B was descended from A. But that’s not what most ID-ers believe anyway.

    How about this scenario? You design species A, but at the same time, you insert some code in its genes so that a million years from now, it will be programmed to mutate into species B, in response to some future environmental disaster which you have anticipated (e.g. a burst of lethal radiation from a nearby supernova). B is designed to be ideally adapted to the harsh new environmental conditions. Surely we would still say that B was descended from A, even though the emergence of B was engineered.

  72. Mark Frank

    I’ll keep this short and sharp. Yes, widespread Lamarckianism would falsify the neo-Darwinian synthesis. Point taken. But falsifiability is not enough to make your theory truly scientific. You also need numbers.

    Here’s my challenge. To the nearest order of magnitude, how long does the neo-Darwinian theory predict taht it should take to get from the simplest organic compounds to the first living cell? A. 10 years. B. 100. C. 1,000. D. 10,000. E. 100,000. F. 1,000,000. G. 10,000,000. H. 100,000,000. I. 1,000,000,000. J. More than 1,000,000,000.

    Please provide supporting calculations – and no cheating, please, by looking up the age of the Earth and subtracting the date of life’s first emergence on Earth! If you can’t even get the number of zeroes right, then don’t expect me to take neo-Darwinian theory seriously. Game on?

  73. Khan,

    You said,

    “First, considering that one of your main arguments on this board is that there is no evidence for macroevolution”

    I still stand by it. There may have been a few macro evolution events through naturalistic means but that is not evidence for macro evolution as a ongoing naturalistic process or a normal process in nature or an explanation for the progress of microbes to man. And I said that endosymbiosis of two prokaryotes may be one of these macro evolutionary events but if it did happen, it may not even be the explanation of eukaryotes. I quickly read the last four articles that Hunter mentions and I do not see any clear consensus of how the eukaryote came into being. The origin of the nucleus is still a mystery as well as other organelles. You have to understand that consensus of evolutionary biologists does not constitute proof and I assume that Margulis’s book has a lot of data that is consistent with her interpretation. But like a lot of evolutionary biology’s so called transitions the space between the prokaryote and the eukaryote lacks a lot of intermediaries. Now I understand the time problem and that they might have existed but they don’t now so that cannot help you. It would have made the argument stronger.

    Also the endosymbiosis still suffers from the fundamental problem, namely the construction of new information for complex and novel capabilities. As I said HGT also provides new information for the cell that receives it but it is not fundamentally new information. A lot of interesting things happen in nature and symbiosis and HGT are just two of them.

    You seem to want to crow over this but I find the example if it is the killer example you tout, no more than one of a few isolated incidents and one that is not entirely clear. I am willing to grant it happened but if it did, it is no big deal. I use hyperbole on purpose a lot to egg on people with the absoluteness of it to provoke them and see what they do. I often say I can make the Darwinist argument better than most of the anti ID people who come here. That is because I read many of the pro Darwin books out there and have watched many, many videos on this. But I have a hard time supporting macro evolution except by circumstantial evidence and the problem will always be the information one.

    I just read the initial article in Allen MacNeill’s recomendation about macro evolution and it speculates that the main source for macro evolution are either gene duplication or retroposons both of which are left to mutate over millions of years till they remarkably become something new and functional. The article is very interesting but my opinion of the author is that he is a real low life despite his research credentials.

  74. #72

    Thanks you for agreeing that I have met the challenge. I hope that those who have read this sequence of comments all now agree that Thomas challenge has been met.

    I am afraid I cannot answer your second paragraph as I don’t have the expertise. Maybe one of the ID experts here can give me the equivalent estimate for a designer implementing life?

  75. 75

    Mark Frank (#40):

    I agree that any proof that acquired characteristics could be passed on would seriously damage Darwinism. Time will tell whether some recent suggestions along this line ultimately lead to a partial revival of Lamarckianism and undermine some or all of Darwinism.

    I also grant you that if there were not enough time, or if inheritance were not particulate, that would do the trick. However, these are merely minimum conditions. The fact that Darwinism long ago passed these tests is what enabled Darwinism to graduate from the stage of an utter impossibility to that of a permissible speculation. But that is like saying that Joe is destined to be a great Olympic runner because he has a working pair of legs. True, to be a great Olympic runner you need a working pair of legs; but you need a lot more than that. So it doesn’t follow, just because inheritance is particulate and the earth is billions of years old, that genetic accidents can accumulate to create viable new structures, with functional intermediates all along the way. The existence of the detailed mechanisms has to be verified.

    I contend that Darwinian evolutionary biology has generally proceeded in this way: first, assume as a general truth of nature that random mutations and natural selection (with a bit of sexual selection thrown in if you like) can craft radically new organs, systems, and body plans; second, speculate about possible evolutionary pathways in particular cases. I am asking what it would take to falsify the first step, the assumption about the capacities of RM + NS. What evidence would be sufficient to show that RM + NS have no such capacities?

    In other sciences, notably physics and chemistry, hypotheses are frequently framed so as to generate experiments which could potentially falsify them. For example, we can frame the hypothesis of an “ether” so that it is vulnerable to falsification by the Michelson-Morley experiment, or the hypothesis of a solid, impenetrable atom so that it is vulnerable to falsification by the “Rutherford” gold foil experiment. What analogous empirical vulnerability does Darwinism offer in its assertion of the creative powers of RM + NS?

    Let’s restate Darwinism as a hypothesis of the normal scientific type. Then Darwinism becomes a series of statements like this: “I hypothesize that random mutations + natural selection can turn a wolf into a whale in X million years”; “I hypothesize that random mutations plus natural selection can turn a fish into an amphibian in X million years”; “I hypothesize that random mutations plus natural selection can give a bacterium a flagellum within X thousand generations”. Now, in form these proposals look scientific, like the statement: “I hypothesize that disease X is caused by a tiny microorganism Y which is found in milk.” We can set up an experiment that could falsify the microorganism hypothesis, e.g., we could boil the milk until all the microrganisms Y are destroyed, and if the disease still occurs, then something else must be the cause. What would be the equivalent procedure in the Darwinian case? What experimental or observational data could cause a Darwinian to say: “I used to believe that RM + NS could turn a land mammal into a whale in 10 million years, but now I no longer believe that this is possible”?

  76. Thomas Cudworth,

    It might be best if we actually specify just what they think nde is instead of using popular versions of what the theory is.

    There is no way one will ever falsify natural selection because very simply it happens. And a lot of those who defend neo Darwinism or whatever the latest version of the synthesis believe that natural selection is the key element of neo Darwinism. Some believe sort of that within a population gene pool there are the possible combinations to get the remarkable changes that Darwin thought he could get. Witness Darwin’s emphasis on artificial selection and the world’s experience with the breeding of dogs and other animals. So given enough time, natural selection will give you a Labrador Retriever or something even much different than this.

    They then expand the gene pool by adding mutations so that time and natural selection can ferret out even more combinations not available to the breeder. But no one in the current evolutionary biology crowd believes this is enough so we should go to where they think the novelty is coming from.

    From what I have read recently they believe the source for novelty is not in the constant shuffling of the genes through sexual recombination and natural selection and mutations working its wonders over time. They don’t believe this. They believe that the source of novelty is non coding DNA that is left to change in various ways over time and eventually some of these changes will become useful and when it does, it will add to the gene pool and then become available to selection. And it won’t necessarily be a gradual event.

    I believe two theories of this are gene duplication which already has a functional protein and since it is not being used, it can become something else, a modification of a working tool. A second way are that retroposons are the source of the novelty. According to wikipedia

    “Retroposition accounts for approximately 10,000 gene-duplication events in the human genome, of which approximately 10% are functional.”

    It is here with these large additions to the genome that nde will be falsified because it here they are hanging their hat. Now this is a little technical and most of us do not fully understand it but if we are to be taken seriously we have to learn to speak this language and show the shortcomings of it. Or else we will be looked at as annoying children who do not understand the talk of grown ups. I believe all these new tools that nde has suffer from the same vulnerability as the old theory does but we have to follow them where they go and not spend time on long abandoned positions.

  77. Re #75 Thomas

    Can you confirm that I have met your challenge as originally stated?

    That’s all I want to know.

    Thanks

    Mark

  78. “I agree that any proof that acquired characteristics could be passed on would seriously damage Darwinism.”

    I do not agree with this. This is just another way of changing the gamete and would be considered along the various forms of mutation. Natural selection would then act on the gametes of the offspring.

    Larmarck is about passing on acquired characteristics. Darwin is about selecting those characteristics to produce differential offspring. There is nothing contradictory about this.

  79. 79

    Mark Frank (#77):

    You’ve met the letter of the challenge. Now re-read #75 and meet the spirit of it.

  80. I just saw that bfast and I have some similar thoughts on Lamarck and Darwin so what I added is to just reaffirm some of what bfast said on this. Of course Lamarck and Darwin had no idea of what heredity is about.

    But to reemphasize, the passing on of acquired characteristics and natural selection can live quite happily with each other. It is just that the passing on of acquired characteristics is iffy at the genome level.

  81. 81

    Jerry (#78):

    I see what you mean. I guess I wasn’t clear because I was using “Darwinism” in a narrow sense. By “Darwinism” I meant orthodox neo-Darwinian theory, which up until recently denied the possibility of Lamarckian mechanisms (though Darwin himself flirted with them to some degree). I think that once you open the door to Lamarckianism, you can’t control how wide it will open, and I think neo-Darwinians will fight against it tooth and nail. They will see it as at least a partial disconfirmation of pure-milk Darwinism. This was Mark Frank’s point, and this is the point that I was accepting from him.

    But yes, you could combine a bit of Lamarckianism and a lot of chance, as Darwin himself did in a few passages. A tad of Lamarckianism could be incorporated into a Darwinian superstructure.

  82. Thomas Cudworth,

    There is a whole theory out there about the cultural aspects of Lamarckian evolution. We certainly do pass down to our children and to our peers our accomplishments, our learning and often much of our fortunes. It is both horizontal and vertical. It certainly is not genetic but it is obvious that it happens and natural selection works in this cultural world.

    It also works in the animal world too but obviously not to the same extent. Animals learn and their culture changes because of it. It is so obvious and of no threat to any world view that it does not get discussed but it is a type of evolution and it has its extinctions too.

    Relative to neo Darwinism, there are some things that might be related to stress that might get in to some gametes and affect evolution. So Lamarckian processes are not completely ruled out. Just the smith’s calluses.

    As I said earlier, neo Darwinism evolves and we often are not debating the latest version of it.

  83. Jerry:

    Larmarck is about passing on acquired characteristics. Darwin is about selecting those characteristics to produce differential offspring. There is nothing contradictory about this.

    Lamarack is about passing on learned or trained characteristics. Lamarack is about controlling what characteristics get passed on by working out in the gym. I still do not see it as a serious challenge to darwin orthodoxy if a dna-based mechanism exists that passes on specific learning, or specific training. I don’t see any difficulty developing a neo-Darwinian just-so story explaining how such a mechanism came about.

    That said, I understand that cold-war Soviet Union scientists explored Lamarackan evolution extensively. (I think they figured they could make better soldiers, and better olympians.) They found little support for it. I doubt if there is a strong Lamarickan mechanism.

  84. 84

    B. L. Harville (#6):

    I wasn’t speaking of falsifying “evolution”, but of falsifying the neo-Darwinian explanation for evolution. Evolution might have many other explanations, e.g., Lamarckian explanations, vitalistic explanations, theistic explanations. I’m interested in knowing where Darwinians would lay their theory on the line, and say, “If X proves to be true, then our proposed mechanism will be falsified”.

    The analogy with atomic theory, so beloved of Darwinists, is a poor one. If atomic theory collapsed, all of modern science would have to be re-thought. If Darwinism were disproved tomorrow, nay, even if a Cambrian rabbit were found tomorrow and common descent itself were thus disproved, all of physics, chemistry, and astronomy would be untouched. Also 90% of the life sciences would be untouched, and 100% of practically useful biology would be untouched. (See the article by Dr. Skell, NAS member, on another recent thread here.) The evolutionary biologists would have to find another line of work (no significant loss to society there), the paleontologists would need to develop a new theory to account for discontinuities, and the population geneticists would have to re-frame their empirical data, telling a different “cover narrative” to go with it, but genome sequencing, medical research, studies in embryonic development, ecological studies, etc. would still go on much as they did before. A six-day fundamentalist, with proper biochemical training, can sequence a genome as well as Jerry Coyne can. The amount of mercury in Great Lakes fish tissues can be determined just as well by an ID-trained freshwater toxicologist as by a Darwinian one. The 3-D structure of a protein can be determined by a devotee of Bergsonian vitalism as well as by Francis Collins. Indeed, the main noticeable change that would occur, were Darwinism to fall, would not be scientific at all, but cultural: “science” would cease to be used ideologically, to attack “religion”. That would be a huge social gain.

    I didn’t claim that falsifying Darwinism would prove ID. However, it is wrong to say that only catching an intelligent designer in the act can verify design. I don’t have to travel to the factory where my computer is made to be sure that it is an intelligently designed object. Nor do I need to catch the builders of the pyramids or of Notre Dame cathedral in the act to be sure that those monuments were designed. I know that such things could not have been produced by unaided nature, not in a million or a billion or a trillion years. Design of a certain degree of integrated complexity rules out chance causation, and implies either the direct action of an intelligent agent or a built-in bias in nature toward the formation of complex design (i.e., front-loading), which (unless you accept “fluke” or “multiverse” as legitimate scientific explanations) amounts to the indirect action of an intelligent agent.

  85. 85

    B. L. Harville (#23):

    You wrote:

    “There is a simple idea in philosophy which says that if something does happen then it can happen. Descent with modification does happen, therefore descent with modification can happen.”

    Your main premise is sound, but your second, inductive premise is unsound. We do not know that “descent with modification” happens, unless you are equivocating. The “descent with modification” that is verified (the development of longer beaks, new moth colors, etc.) is much more modest than the “descent with modification” which Darwinists claim has occurred. We certainly do not “know” that all the phyla in the Cambrian explosion descended via modification from marine worms or sponges. It is precisely that speculative extension from finch beaks to radical new body plans which critics of Darwinism are questioning.

  86. 86

    Brian Stephens (#45):

    Good point. I am really making two different complaints, and I have sometimes blurred them together. Let me restate:

    1. Darwinists ASSUME that RM + NS (with scraps of other mechanisms) are capable of generating all the forms of life.

    2. They then propose hypothetical evolutionary pathways for specific cases.

    My complaint about #2 is that, while Darwinists admit that in principle any particular hypothetical pathway could be falsified, the pathways are rarely given in full enough detail to be rigorously testable. In short, Darwinian evolutonary proposals are too speculative and qualitative, and not nearly as empirical and quantitative as they should be. I don’t want to hear, for the umpteenth time, how a light-sensistive spot might have retreated into a depression, and then could have been accidentally covered over by some semi-transparent skin which later could have become a lens, etc. I want to see specific mechanisms for all of these changes in terms of particular point mutations along the genome, and related developmental changes. I want to see checkable numbers given for mutation rates, I want full lists of ecological competitors inhabiting the Ordovician ocean, I want accurate CO2 and ultra-violet levels and other relevant environmental data over the period of time in question, etc. Most such details are lacking in Darwinian accounts. We can’t test the efficacy of RM + NS if we don’t have precise information regarding both the mutation side and the selection side.

    My complaint about #1 is that, because the adequacy of RM + NS is an assumption for Darwinists rather than a theory or hypothesis, it is never subjected to the normal procedure of scientific testing. It should be at all times treated as a hypothesis subject to testing and falsification. And further, as proof of their intellectual integrity, the Darwinists should be willing to propose potential falsifying situations themselves. I haven’t noticed them doing this.

  87. The theory of evolution has been mathematically disproven in the peer-reviewed paper

    “Waiting for two mutations: with applications to regulatory sequence evolution and the limits of Darwinian evolution”

    This paper demonstrates the constraints on just getting a new specific binding site.

    And with universal common descent not only are new specified binding sites required, but so are new genes, promoters, enhancers, repressors and all other meta-information required to get this new stuff into the existing combinatorial logic.

    The fact that evolutionists are still trying to salvage the loss just demonstrates there isn’t anything that would falsify it.

  88. Khan,

    I have said it before and you have chosen to ignore it- so here it is AGAIN:

    The way Allen MacNeill uses “macroevolution” not even young earth creationists deny it.

    I posted this on this blog AND on Allen’s blog.

    And it came as no surprise that Allen didn’t pay any attention to it.

    So perhaps YOU should learn what is being debated. That way YOU could actually have something relevant to say about it.

  89. And BTW the inheritance of acquired characteristics does NOT provide evidence against the theory of evolution.

    If you think so please read:

    “Evolution in Four Dimensions”

    and your misconceptions will be revealed.

  90. Thomas Cudworth [75]:

    What experimental or observational data could cause a Darwinian to say: “I used to believe that RM + NS could turn a land mammal into a whale in 10 million years, but now I no longer believe that this is possible”?

    Sorry to intrude, but this is too easy (It’s another rabbit in the Cambrian challenge.)

    Just off the top of my head – observational data: A whale fossil is found at a geological stratum dated prior to the appearance of the putative land mammal ancestor.

  91. Adel DiBagno:

    Just off the top of my head – observational data: A whale fossil is found at a geological stratum dated prior to the appearance of the putative land mammal ancestor.

    I would love it if this were taken off the top of your head and placed on formal documentation. Can anybody give body to DiBagno’s memory?

  92. 92

    Adel DiBagno (#90):

    I’m not sure why you posted this suggestion, since you knew that it wasn’t the sort of counterexample that my challenge calls for, but anyhow …

    There is a difference between saying that X didn’t in fact cause Y, and saying that X is not physically capable of causing Y. I can say that Woody Allen didn’t in fact murder Hulk Hogan by snapping his spine, because Woody Allen was having dinner with me at the time of Hulk Hogan’s death. Or I can say that Woody Allen couldn’t have murdered Hulk Hogan by snapping his spine, because Woody Allen isn’t strong enough to have done so. The two answers are not logically connected. “Couldn’t have” doesn’t logically follow from “didn’t”. Superman, for example, might also have been having dinner with me that night, but had he not been with me, he certainly could have snapped Hulk Hogan’s spine. So if I ask you the question, “Is Woody Allen strong enough to have snapped Hulk Hogan’s spine?” and you answer, “No, because he was having dinner with me at the time”, your answer is illogical and evasive.

    The answer you are giving here, like all “Cambrian rabbit” answers, is of this evasive type. If I ask you whether or RM plus NS are capable of turning a hippo into a whale within 10 million years, and you answer, “No, because fossils of the whale order are found long before the fossils of the earliest hippo”, you will have proved that RM and NS did not, in the actual historical event, produce whales from hippos, but you will not have proved that RM plus NS could not have produced whales from hippos. The latter is a much more crucial disproof, because there might be alternate evolutionary paths, even Darwinian paths, to whales (from, say, rodents whose fossils predate the whale fossils), but if the Darwinian mechanism itself can be shown to be far less capable than it is claimed to be, then the whole Darwinian theory is in jeopardy.

    Darwinism claims awesome capabilities for RM and NS, and I want to know the scientific (as opposed to metaphysical or religious) basis for this claim. I also want to know what it would take to get Darwinists to acknowledge that RM and NS don’t have such capabilities. In terms of my parallel, I want them to tell me what test result they would accept as a falsification of the hypothesis, “Woody Allen is strong enough to snap Hulk Hogan’s spine”. I maintain that if they cannot specify such a test result (e.g., Woody Allen fails to bend a coat hanger), then the claim about Woody Allen is not a scientific claim. And by a parallel line of reasoning, the claim for RM + NS would not be a scientific claim.

    So the challenge remains unmet: Presuming for the sake of argument that all future fossil finds are compatible with the hypothesis of common descent, what future discovery in genetics, developmental biology, ecology, physiology, biochemistry, or other relevant sciences could decisively disprove RM + NS as the *cause* of common descent?

  93. Thomas

    I am a bit confused about what you are actually looking for. It appears you want to know how a statement of the lines:

    A whale could have evolved from a land mammal by RM+NS.

    can be falsified.

    It is really weird to ask for conditional statements like that to be falsified. Imagine if I asked you how the statement “there could be another planet orbiting between Earth and Mars” could be falsified. May I suggest that what you want to know is something on these lines.

    Taking for granted that whales did evolve from land mammals how could the statement “the evolution of whales from land mammals happened through RM+NS” be falsified

    Current evolutionary theory is a lot more than RM+NS – but I understand what you mean.

    So what is the status of the falsification of Darwinism? I am no expert but my impression is:

    As discussed, there are major consequences of the theory as a whole that could have falsified the whole thing (age of earth, particulate inheritance, common descent).

    There are mechanisms that might not have been observed in a short term observable timescale. For example:

    Microevolution might not have been observed. If no species had ever appeared to respond to natural selection then Darwinism would be in serious trouble.

    Artificial selection might not have worked. Breeders might have failed to produce any significant change in domestic animals.

    In the longer term inevitably things get a bit more difficult. Molecular data is kind of hard to come by from millions of year ago. However, it is possible to falsify a specific proposal about how one organism gradually evolved into another via gradual steps each of which increased fitness. The fossil record might show that actually the intermediates species did not follow this path, genetic or cladistic data might contradict it. Consistent falsification of all such pathways would accumulate against Darwinism as a whole. But to falsify all possible paths is a big ask indeed! That’s like asking me to falsify the statement that a particular star got into position via Newtonian laws. I am sure it did – but I could not describe a way to falsify the statement for that particular planet unless I disprove Newtonian mechanics as a whole. I could falsify one particular route – but not all possible routes.

    But what you want is:

    specific mechanisms for all of these changes in terms of particular point mutations along the genome, and related developmental changes. I want to see checkable numbers given for mutation rates, I want full lists of ecological competitors inhabiting the Ordovician ocean, I want accurate CO2 and ultra-violet levels and other relevant environmental data over the period of time in question, etc

    This is of course absurd. This data is simply not available over the last n hundred million years. No theory of the evolution of life is going to be able to meet this criterion. Would you care to give me any details whatsoever of how a putative designer implemented the evolution of the whale and how you would falsify that account?

  94. Mark Frank,

    As I said if the paper:

    “Waiting for two mutations: with applications to regulatory sequence evolution and the limits of Darwinian evolution”

    does not falsify universal common descent, nothing will- read on:

    This paper demonstrates the constraints on just getting a new specific binding site.

    And with universal common descent not only are new specified binding sites required, but so are new genes, promoters, enhancers, repressors and all other meta-information required to get this new stuff into the existing combinatorial logic.

    The fact that evolutionists are still trying to salvage the loss just demonstrates there isn’t anything that would falsify it.

  95. Thomas Cudworth [92]

    So the challenge remains unmet: Presuming for the sake of argument that all future fossil finds are compatible with the hypothesis of common descent, what future discovery in genetics, developmental biology, ecology, physiology, biochemistry, or other relevant sciences could decisively disprove RM + NS as the *cause* of common descent?

    Once more into the breach, dear friends:

    As you may have experienced, predicting the future can be difficult and is sometimes perilous. Does the fact that I can’t make such a prediction mean that a new, unexpected, surprising mechanism that has more explanatory power than RM + NS cannot or will not be discovered?

    Who knows? In the meantime…

  96. neo Darwinism is really a very simple theory and because it is simple it cannot be falsified. It simply says that things change in a genome and these changes are transferred to new organisms during reproduction and these changes are subject to natural selection.

    That is all. These three processes are so simple and true that one cannot falsify such an obvious truth. The processes that create the changes in gametes are many and much of the research going on in evolutionary biology deals with these changes to gametes. Few changes will survive gestation and development. There are also additional processes besides natural selection that affect viability after new offspring are born and these are part of neo Darwinism.

    So what can be attacked is not neo Darwinism but the various specific processes that are said to operate and the extent of their ability to produce change. Since there is little on the genetic side that ID does not agree with, why try to falsify these processes. All the critical action is on the changes to gametes.

    So if we are going to falsify anything, it is those processes that produce change. Since these processes do happen, what is falsified is the amount of change these processes can effect.

    This my friends is what the whole debate is about. How much change can natural processes affect in a gamete over time. Not about natural selection and all the other processes that affect offspring once they arrive, not about the actual processes that produce change in gametes, not about the changes that happen during reproduction but solely about the amount of change that is produced in gametes prior to reproduction. It is not about the issue of gradualism because that has been abandoned by the neo Darwinists a long time ago. Though a lot of the Darwinists apparently have not gotten the word.

    So how much change can naturalistic processes produce? That is what Kirk Durston’s work is about. That is what Dembski and Marks work is about, that is what Behe’s Edge of Evolution is about. That is where the fight is and these men are using different techniques and research methodology to address this issue.

    So we should keep our efforts focused on the real battle in this war and less on the side issues which are often interesting. Forrest animals to whales are an interesting side issue but not the real issue.

  97. Allen, can you address, Jerry’s very salient point?

    Since these processes do happen, what is falsified is the amount of change these processes can effect.

  98. I should also say that besides the amount of change, what is needed is some measure of the quality or functionality of the change. It is possible to get massive amounts of changes to a genome through natural processes but these changes could be gibberish and not code anything meaningful or useful.

  99. #94 Joseph

    I glanced over the paper but it is quite technical and I am not certain I really understand the conclusions. Presumably you do?

    As I understand it is estimates the mean time to wait for two mutations which might be needed to change the expression of gene in a population. The results were quite reasonable for Drosophilia but the estimated mean time for humans was so long it is most unlikely that a pair of mutations like this would ever happen.

    It is of course a very theoretical calculation which necessarily had to make a lot of assumptions (that much I can tell). But more importantly I think it is saying – if you wanted to achieve X then the mean-time to wait would be Y. But of course evolution doesn’t want to achieve anything. It doesn’t set a target for which mutations it needs to make. Rather it makes mutations and sees where it ends up. So I am not sure of the relevance of the paper – but then I am not sure I understand it either.

    Here is a copy of the abstract for any interested reader. Note the last sentence!

    Results of Nowak and collaborators concerning the onset of cancer due to the inactivation
    of tumor suppresor genes give the distribution of the time until some individual in a population
    has experienced two prespecified mutations, and the time until this mutant phenotype
    becomes fixed in the population. In this article we apply these results to obtain insights
    into regulatory sequence evolution in Drosophila and humans. In particular, we examine the
    waiting time for a pair of mutations, the first of which inactivates an existing transcription
    factor binding site and the second which creates a new one. Consistent with recent experimental
    observations for Drosophila, we find that a few million years is sufficient, but for
    humans with a much smaller effective population size, this type of change would take more
    than 100 million years. In addition, we use these results to expose flaws in some of Michael
    Behe’s arguments concerning mathematical limits to Darwinian evolution.

  100. Mark Frank,

    Your whole position is theoretical and requires many assumptions.

    The relevance of the paper shows just how difficult it is to get just ONE NEW BINDING SITE!!!

    In order to go from single-celled populations to what we observe today requires new genes.

    New genes require SPECIFIC binding sites.

    New genes require SPECIFIC promoters.

    New genes require new enhancers and even repressors.

    All of which have to be SPECIFIED for that gene.

    IOW they set out to refute Behe and the refuted UCD.

    And BTW, they only “refuted” Behe assuming almost ideal conditions.

  101. 101

    Mark Frank (#94):

    Thanks for engaging again. I will make one more attempt to clarify my argument.

    1. Actually, “There could be another planet between Earth and Mars” is quite falsifiable, provided the planet is not of negligible size. If a scientist were to assert “There could be another planet between Earth and Mars, of earthlike density and with a diameter of 2,000 miles”, that scientist would be expected to predict the gravitational perturbations of the orbits of all the other planets, and to point to astronomical observations which would necessarily be obtainable if the hypothesis were true. If observations disconfirmed the perturbations, then the existence of a planet of the proposed size would be falsified. Note the phrase “of earthlike density and with a diameter of 2,000 miles”. Modern science is quantitative, not merely qualitative. Without the numbers, there is no way of testing the assertion. A planet the size of a marble, the mass of which cannot be registered by earth instruments, cannot be tested for. A planet of unspecified size or density, and hence unspecified mass and gravitational attraction, cannot be tested for. No specification of mass, no prediction of perturbations; no prediction of perturbations, no falsification possible; no falsification possible, no science.

    2. The parallel with Newtonian laws and Darwinian processes isn’t sound. We know that Newton’s laws (modified slightly by Einstein etc.) are accurate mathematical descriptions of the way that nature works. We do not know that the processes which produce longer finch beaks on the Galapagos can turn marine worms into insects and snails and fish. So I agree with you that we can be sure that the star got into position via Newtonian/Einsteinian means, even if we can’t trace the whole history of the star’s movements. No such certainty is available in the case of alleged macroevolutionary processes. That is precisely what the criticism of Darwinism is all about. You will find that criticism very nicely set forth in the works of Michael Denton, Michael Behe, David Berlinski, etc. If you haven’t read any of these, I recommend that you do.

    3. You call my demand for extensive specifics in evolutionary claims “absurd”. But then you are saying one of two things. You are saying either that modern science itself is absurdly demanding (because it does in fact insist on extensive specification), or you are saying that Darwinian theory should not be expected to live up to the standards of modern science. I don’t agree with either answer.

    Modern science’s desire for precise quantitative details, as opposed to broad, loose descriptions, is what has given us really good theories to account for natural phenomena. It is also the reason that modern science is so effective in the practical realm, and we have electricity and warm homes in the winter and radio and movies and air travel and countless other fruits of science to attest to that. If 300 years ago our modern evolutionary biologists been put in charge of the development of chemistry and physics and engineering, and had used their characteristic speculative and storytelling modes of reasoning in those areas of science, we would today be freezing in the dark in the winter, and speculating about the history of life on earth by candlelight. Thank God that Faraday and Edison and Clerk Maxwell and Lavoisier and Cavendish and Mendeleev were in charge of the march of science and technology, not Darwin and Huxley and Mayr and Gaylord Simpson and Dawkins.
    But even if we grant that a science need not have practical applications to be valid, it should still have to meet the normal standards of observational and experimental confirmation and disconfirmation. Why should Darwinism be given exemptions here? Why should Darwinism be able to say, “I propose, on the strength of three very fragmentary but purportedly intermediate fossil finds, that a wolflike animal underwent a series of thousands of mutations, and turned into a blue whale over the course of roughly 10 million years”, and not be required to provide any further specifics about those thousands of alleged mutations? Why should it not have to explain how the physiology of nursing underwater was achieved, both in terms of practical difficulties (for one, non-functional intermediate nursing organs would result in the death of the species) and in terms of the precise genetic changes required in order to alter the nipples, the secretion process, etc.? Why should it not have to explain in detail how the nostril became a blowhole, so that scientists can test the developmental claims involved in that? Why can it get away with “somehow nostrils became blowholes, and somehow underwater nursing was achieved”? That’s how Darwinian theory proceeds. It doesn’t give exact mechanical analyses of anything; it tells stories, uncheckable stories.

    4. I think my analogy in the previous post is pertinent. I can know that Woody Allen didn’t snap the spine of Hulk Hogan, even if Woody Allen has no alibi for the evening of the murder. I can know that because Woody Allen isn’t capable of doing so. I am claiming that Darwinian processes are the Woody Allen of biology. I am saying that they could no more produce the Cambrian explosion than Woody could snap Hulk’s spine. And I am saying that if the Darwinian processes were precisely defined, it would be possible to prove that Darwinian processes weren’t capable of doing what they are supposed to have done, just as we can prove that a sandstorm couldn’t have created the Great Pyramid. The reason that RM + NS has so far escaped decisive falsification is that in no particular example have its hypothetical operations ever been nailed down precisely enough to test. The nostril became a blowhole – but how? Without a “how”, the proposal doesn’t even rise to the level of a scientific hypothesis. It’s just a fantasy. Supply the “how”, in terms of precise locations on the genome and in embryonic development, and now we’ve got a falsifiable hypothesis. In modern science one is supposed to define putative processes precisely enough that potentially falsifying experiments can be set up. Darwinism escapes falsification by avoiding this normal requirement of modern science. And then it has the chutzpah to set itself up as the pinnacle of modern science.

    5. Regarding your final challenge, like most ID critics, you misunderstand what ID is about. ID is not a causal narrative, as Darwinism is. ID does not pretend, and cannot pretend, to itemize the steps by which design found its way into nature. ID belongs to information science, not historical science. Whereas Darwinism *must* provide a detailed historical narrative, because of the sort of theory it is, ID is only required to show the existence of design, not to explain how it got there.

    6. Finally note that ID, unlike Darwinism, is entirely falsifiable. All that Darwinism has to do to falsify ID is to show – in detail – how even ONE complex integrated system could have arisen without any designer, and ID falls to the ground. But Darwinism has yet to show – in anything approaching normal scientific detail – how any complex integrated system could have arisen without any designer. Darwinism is a series of promissory notes that some day it will be able to do this. The pile of promissory notes is now quite high, and the ones on the bottom of the pile are now 150 years old.

  102. Sometime in the next 20-30 years there will be enough information about the genome, probably of humans because that is where money can be more easily spent, to assess the origin of most proteins and protein systems as well as other systems in the genome that are regulatory or controlling. When that time comes there will be compelling evidence that naturalistic processes can or cannot produce all these proteins, systems and regulatory and controlling networks.

    My guess is that the evidence will show that they cannot, based on what we know today. The current paradigm for the origin of novelty is that duplicated genes or non coding segments of DNA lay fallow for millions of years accumulating mutations or rearrangements till some function arises. Then the newly functional segment of DNA becomes subject to natural selection as the organism’s phenotype is modified in some substantial way. My guess is that these necessary functional modifications are beyond the probabilistic resources available and there will be a new dance to find some other process that could explain the origin of changes.

    We could have a civil discussion here about this with those who support ID and those who do not but as we can all see that is not likely to happen very often. We will get quizzed constantly about the nature of the designer and the designer’s motives or the nature of the process used and the timing of designs, the sub optimality of the designs, the designer of the designer, the calculation of CSI, etc. Not because anyone who challenges ID really cares about this but because this is the best obstructionist tactic they know. They have no defense of their belief system and are reluctant to even discuss it. As such their only hope is to bog us down in this inanity. Witness the last 3-4 weeks of feigned concern about these issues.

    It would be refreshing to just have an intelligent discussion with one some day. But as a one time hit song said, “That’ll be the Day.”

    We actually had a very informative, nice and reasonable anti ID evolutionary biologist here at one time. Where is great_ape when we need him?

  103. Joseph:

    The relevance of the paper shows just how difficult it is to get just ONE NEW BINDING SITE!!!

    Not quite, what it shows is the difficulty of evolving a particular binding site. It’s like computing the odds of a particular lottery player winning the lottery. Any particular player is unlikely to win but there are lots of players so the odds of some player winning is good. Likewise, a particular binding site is unlikely to evolve but there are lots of potential binding sites so some site is likely to evolve in a much more reasonable timeframe.

  104. Thomas

    I am going to drop out of this thread except for a comment on your final paragraph. I think the subject of the falsifiability of Darwinism has been explored rather thoroughly. I disagree with this part of the last paragraph of yours:

    6. Finally note that ID, unlike Darwinism, is entirely falsifiable. All that Darwinism has to do to falsify ID is to show – in detail – how even ONE complex integrated system could have arisen without any designer, and ID falls to the ground.

    Suppose by some miracle someone was able to supply a detailed, mutation by mutation, description how the whale evolved from early mammals. To satisy ID criteria this would have to be shown to be a probable set of mutations. Also it would inevitably rely heavily on many genes that evolved before the first mammals. The ID proponent can then say:

    You have shown that the whale could easily have evolved from the earlier mammal. Therefore, very little new information was required to do this. The information was all in the genome of the ancestor early mammal which is where the design took place.

    In fact any outcome is compatible is with a designer of undefined powers and motives – but that is a long standing dispute…..

  105. The relevance of the paper shows just how difficult it is to get just ONE NEW BINDING SITE!!!

    Not quite, what it shows is the difficulty of evolving a particular binding site.

    Did you not understand the rest of my post?

    Just substitute your “particular” for my “specific”:

    In order to go from single-celled populations to what we observe today requires new genes.

    New genes require SPECIFIC binding sites.

    New genes require SPECIFIC promoters.

    New genes require new enhancers and even repressors.

    All of which have to be SPECIFIED for that gene.

  106. Thomas asks for one thing-

    6. Finally note that ID, unlike Darwinism, is entirely falsifiable. All that Darwinism has to do to falsify ID is to show – in detail – how even ONE complex integrated system could have arisen without any designer, and ID falls to the ground.

    And Mark responds with something about whales!

    Try to focus on what Thomas said.

    Ya see ID does not say that whales could not have evolved from a land mammal.

  107. In fact any outcome is compatible is with a designer of undefined powers and motives – but that is a long standing dispute…..

    That is a long-standing strawman.

    Reduce and simplify- reduce what it is you are investigating to its simplest point.

    If you can reduce a “complex integrated system” to its individual parts then you have removed the requirement for agency involvement.

  108. Joseph

    Could you confirm that you have read the paper you keep quoting and understand all of it?

  109. Joseph

    Re #106. The “something about whales” was an example of a complex integrated system arising. Or don’t whales count as complex integrated systems?

  110. 110

    Mark Frank (#104):

    I respect your decision to withdraw. I hope it’s not caused by bad manners on my part. I will respond to the single argument you raise in your last post, and then, if I do not hear from you again, will let the matter rest.

    I do not quite understand your last point. You seem to be saying that a full Darwinian path would not be adequate to falsify ID for firm ID supporters, because (you anticipate) ID people would say that most of the genes involved already existed and therefore little new information was generated. I don’t know why any ID supporter would say this. Granted, Darwinian processes build on pre-existing genes, but they also are supposed to be able to create radically new structures, and this requires creating previously non-existent genes. If Darwinians could prove that chance mutations could create previously non-existent genes capable of creating radically new structures, structures perfectly functional in themselves and also co-ordinated with all the rest of the systems of the creature in question, then ID would be finished. If we put a bacterium without a flagellum into a liquid medium in which motility would provide a great selective advantage, and in 10,000 generations, without any experimental tampering, it developed descendants with various partial flagella, most of which were deleterious and killed the organism, but a few of which had some useful intermediate function, and finally one of the descendants of one of the bacteria with a useful intermediate function developed a fully working flagellum, that surely would count against design, because it would prove that chance variations, unguided by intelligence, could create new complex functional structures by a series of gradual steps.

    What Darwinism has never proved is that chance can produce such viable new complex structures. Indeed it is very hard to see how one could verify the power of chance to do this, given the Darwinians’ own insistence that the process requires millions of generations and hence is almost always unobservable. And what applies to verification applies to falsification: Darwinism is generally unable to suggest potentially falsifying experiments, again because of the long time-span required for evolutionary processes. However, insofar as we have been able to observe the equivalent of long time spans (through creatures with rapid reproductive rates such as microbes and fruit flies), we have discovered that mutation does not (so far) show much in the way of the ability to create complex new structures. On this point I would direct you to Behe’s *The Edge of Evolution*.

    Thus, the grand capabilities attributed to Darwinian mechanisms lack verification, and are apparently impossible to falsify. So, even if you were right to say that ID could never be falsified, it would then be in exactly the same boat as Darwinism, which was the original point of my argument.

    Theories that cannot be falsified, but which can still plausibly explain a set of observations, are either legitimate science or they are not. If they are legitimate science, then intelligent design, even if it could never be falsified, would belong in science class along with Darwinism, which also can never be falsified. If they are not legitimate science, then both Darwinism and ID should be moved out of science class and into philosophy class; i.e., the biology curriculum should get out of the origins business, and should content itself with the scientific description of the structures and functions of living things that are accessible to our repeatable observation and experimentation. I could live with either of these two consistent approaches, and so, I suspect, could most ID people. That was the main point I wanted to make.

  111. Thomas,

    While you were writing your last comment here, I was writing a comment that is the flip side of what you said here

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-305974

    You however have said it better and maybe your comment should be added to the ID as science FAQ because that is where it also belongs.

  112. joseph:

    All of which have to be SPECIFIED for that gene.

    Evolution is not guided to any specific goal. It is not necessary for any particular(or specific if you prefer) gene or binding site to evolve. There are a vast number of potential genes and binding sites that could evolve.

  113. DaveScot (#21):

    “The ‘vast amount of evidence’ supports descent with modification….”

    Something Ken Miller or Richard Dawkins would say.

    The evidence of ID says evolution (“descent with modification”) is false. The alleged evidence of evolution says ID is false.

    ID and evolution are antithetic concepts—-enemy combatants.

    “….from one or several common ancestors beginning hundreds of millions or billions of years ago.”

    Again, something Ken Miller or Richard Dawkins would say.

    Common ancestry is the main claim of Darwinian evolution. It is actually a presupposition made necessary by the a priori rejection of Intelligent causation to be operating in reality.

    “ID doesn’t dispute this.”

    ID most certainly says evolution and common ancestry (= Darwinism) are utterly false.

    “The mechanism that caused the modification is what ID disputes.”

    DaveScot is demonstrably confused. Each reply presupposes the fusion of contrary concepts or ideas (= confusion).

    The ID-Evolution debate does NOT presuppose evolution and common ancestry to be scientific facts. Both evolution (“descent with modification”) and common ancestry (alleged result of evolution) presuppose the absence of Intelligent causation to be operating in nature. IF Intelligent causation is operating in nature, and the appearance of design and organized complexity seen in every aspect of nature say that it is, then evolution and common ancestry are false, non-existent, an illusion at best caused by the concept seen in “Mastermind.”

    Ray

  114. 114

    Ray every quote you attribute to DS in your post was absolutely correct based on current observation. Some details have stronger inference than others. None are above the question.

    Try to stay with the evidence.

  115. 115

    Ray (#113):

    I cannot speak for DaveScot, and I have no intention of wading into the argument about how firmly common descent is established.

    However, you have overstated the opposition of ID to “evolution”. “Evolution” is an ambiguous word. Assuming we are talking about “Darwinian evolution”, I see the notion as having two parts:

    1. Common descent.

    2. A mechanism explaining how one species turns into another. In Darwinian theory, this mechanism is random mutation plus natural selection (with occasionally bits of other stuff like sexual selection thrown in). It’s essentially a chance mechanism, because the supposedly “rational” part of it, natural selection, can do nothing but work on what chance throws up.

    The first observation to make is that #1 is not peculiar to Darwinism, was not invented by Darwin, and is not what makes Darwinism Darwinian. Lamarck, Bergson, Denton and many others have accepted the notion of common descent while differing from Darwin regarding the mechanism.

    The second observation to be made is that ID, as such, is not opposed to #1, but it is adamantly opposed to #2. It does not believe that chance has the creative powers assigned to it by Darwinism.

    You are right to say that ID does not presuppose common ancestry to be a fact. But it does not require rejecting common ancestry, either. Common ancestry could be true (i.e., all living forms could be derived from previous living forms) within a design framework. Constant intervention, occasional intervention or front-loaded design would all be compatible with common ancestry.

    Your point is that there are reasons to be critical of even common ancestry, and you are of course free as an individual to make arguments against common ancestry, but I don’t think that ID as a movement should focus on those, because common ancestry does not put ID at risk. ID is only put at risk if Darwinists can show that new complex integrated systems can arise due to freak combinations of mutations. That is why I have spoken above of the difference between falsifying common descent ( e.g., finding a Cambrian rabbit) and falsifying the Darwinian mechanism. I think it is striking that there is no way of falsifying the Darwinian mechanism, whereas new theories in physics and chemistry almost always generate experiments which could falsify them. Should we respect a hypothetical mechanism that cannot be subject to falsification?

  116. Upright BiPed (#114):

    “Ray every quote you attribute to DS in your post was absolutely correct based on current observation.”

    My responses explained why every quote was utterly incorrect.

    “Some details have stronger inference than others. None are above the question.”

    Evolution and common ancestry are questioned and rejected. This is why there is a ID-Evolution debate that has been raging for decades.

    All polls and surveys consistently report that over half of all adults in the U.S. are anti-evolutionists, Creationists and/or IDists.

    “Try to stay with the evidence.”

    Try to keep up with the times. I would also say that you failed to paste anything I argued because you are unable to address and/or refute.

    The evidence supports ID, this is why the majority just alluded to rejects Darwinism.

    Ray

  117. Thomas Cudworth (#115):

    “….you have overstated the opposition of ID to ‘evolution’. ‘Evolution’ is an ambiguous word. Assuming we are talking about ‘Darwinian evolution….”

    The word “evolution” is inextricably linked to Darwin. I have NOT overstated the opposition. I have stated a round earth fact: the concept seen and understood in “ID” and the concept seen and understood in “evolution” are enemy combatants.

    ID presupposes Intelligent agency operating in reality causing biological production.

    Evolution, since Darwin 1859, presupposes unguided material or natural agencies operating in reality causing biological production.

    The ID (or Creationism)-Evolution debate always presupposes “evolution” to mean Darwinian because it was Darwin’s view that was accepted and remains accepted.

    Thomas Cudworth: “The first observation to make is that #1 [= Common descent] is not peculiar to Darwinism, was not invented by Darwin, and is not what makes Darwinism Darwinian. Lamarck, Bergson, Denton and many others have accepted the notion of common descent while differing from Darwin regarding the mechanism.”

    Completely false.

    Darwin was the FIRST to propose that each species derived from a previously living species—-perpetually—-until biological First Cause (thus eliminating God). Lamarck relied upon spontaneous generation (Divine involvement) to sustain descent (David Clifford, Ph.D., the Victorian Web, Lamarck biography). Buffon’s proposal, in the 18th century, advocated very limited transmutation. Bergson and Denton are nobodys.

    Thomas Cudworth: “The second observation to be made is that ID, as such, is not opposed to #1, but it is adamantly opposed to #2 [= RM + NS]. It does not believe that chance has the creative powers assigned to it by Darwinism.”

    ID is completely opposed to common descent (CD) BECAUSE CD (listen closely) was accepted as being caused by unguided material, natural selection. Unguided material was proposed by Darwin because he rejected Intelligent causation to be operating in nature. CD is thus a required rendering of nature since God (= Intelligent causation) is an absentee landlord. But we agree with Dembski: God is not an absentee landlord (1999).

    You cannot accept CD apart from how it was accepted (= natural selection). CD says the God of Genesis does not exist. In 19th century England, only Atheists advocated evolution-common descent (Secord 2000).

    Thomas Cudworth: “Your point is that there are reasons to be critical of even common ancestry, and you are of course free as an individual to make arguments against common ancestry, but I don’t think that ID as a movement should focus on those, because common ancestry does not put ID at risk.”

    Yes, it does. CD says ID does not exist.

    Ray

  118. “I think it is striking that there is no way of falsifying the Darwinian mechanism, ”

    I do not think this true. We just haven’t got to the place or have the technology to do the falsifying. Let me explain why. One of the arguments I have used against gradualism is the lack of forensic evidence to support it. Climbing Mt. Improbable would leave a trail of different possible paths of species that were branching points. Each new species is a node and can branch in several directions and there is no reason to think that the entire population would disappear if a sub population took off in a different direction. So climbing Mt. Improbable would leave a series of species behind that would be predecessors.

    But we do not see it in the fossil record or in the suite of species that exists on earth today. There should be lots of examples of branching in our extant species collection. They do not exist except for trivial variants of each other. No climbing of any peak on Mt. Improbable.

    The Darwinists also recognized this a long time ago and the result was the punctuated equilibrium of Gould and Eldredge. They knew gradualism was dead and they must develop a theory that would support PE. That is what the book that Allen MacNeill recommended is about.

    As best as I can understand it, the theory is now one that would explain sudden and dramatic changes. Not hopeful monsters but the addition of a sudden new characteristic that was not there before. It would be anything but gradual. Essentially a part of the genome lays fallow for millions of years accumulating changes and these changes are not subject to selection till the function arises which changes the morphology of the species and thus becomes selectable. This is what has to be addressed today.

    And it will be almost impossible to do it till lots of genomes have been mapped and the various parts and functions controlled by these parts are identified. Then it may be possible to say that the there is no way that such and such a section could have arisen naturally. Till then the Darwinists will say it could and we will be at a stand off.

    The work of Kirk Durston, Dembski and Marks, Michael Behe and others to follow could examine the feasibility of the DNA arising that controls these complicated functions but the Darwinist will always claim it can and will do so till backed into a corner by the data. At which point they will find a new idea to cling to. Eventually they will run out of ideas but we all here will probably be long gone.

    They were backed into a corner by the fossil data and the nature of current species that exists but have found this temporary out.

  119. Mr. Martinez,

    DS said there was evidence for common descent.

    Your response was

    Something Ken Miller or Richard Dawkins would say.

    The evidence of ID says evolution (”descent with modification”) is false. The alleged evidence of evolution says ID is false.

    ID and evolution are antithetic concepts—-enemy combatants.

    And then said

    My responses explained why every quote was utterly incorrect.

    If ID is anything at all it’s an empirical challenge to chance and law as a first cause. To be honest, I guess my objection to your post was the sort of correctness of thought you demand while making a factual error about something I care about.

    Virtually the entire ID planet would like our adversaries to immediately start making the appropriate distinction between Darwin’s special and general theories; between micro and macro evolution. I know I would be smiling if science all-the-sudden recognized the distinction between the designed object and its rather elegant ability to survive in what might be called a chance environment. That’s what ID is about, it’s about the evidence.

    It’s difficult to believe ID is furthered along in this goal if ID proponents themselves don’t care to make the distinction.

    Whatever gains ID makes it probably gives plenty back in mistakes. It’s supposed to be a big tent. Consider making your assertions reflect the actual physical evidence. That is what we are asking our adversaries to do.

  120. 120

    Ray:

    The primary difficulty with your position is that it clashes with that of many leading ID supporters. For example, Michael Behe accepts common descent, but is arguably the world’s leading proponent of intelligent design. How do you square that with your position?

    You can of course define terms any way that you want to. You can define “evolution” to mean what I am calling “Darwinism”. In that case, evolution is obviously opposed to ID. But then you cannot distinguish between different explanations for evolution, and in my view that would be a poor decision. Aside from the fact that it would obscure important scientific differences between Darwin, Lamarck, Denton, etc., it flies in the face of the fact that the Roman Church allows evolution as a permitted view of origins, which it would not do if evolution implied only the chance mechanisms put forward by Darwin.

    For you to say that Denton and Bergson are “nobodies” is impertinent. One would need to show a long record of intellectual accomplishment oneself before one could presume to dismiss such talented individuals so cavalierly. I can only presume that you have not read any of their works. That fact alone ought to caution you not to make any remarks about them.

    I will not remark in detail on the various historical errors in your comments. They show lack of knowledge of the primary sources, and lack of knowledge of the history of evolutionary theory. I would recommend not relying so much on web sites and evangelical sources, and making more use of a university library, or even taking a course on the history of science.

    Ray, if you will accept a little brotherly advice from one who is opposed to atheism as much as you are: ID is not a religious crusade against atheism. It is not a religious crusade against common descent. It is an intellectual movement to investigate, and if possible demonstrate, the existence of design in nature. Religious zeal, however appropriate it is in some contexts, does not help make the public case for ID, especially when it leads one to make incorrect historical statements or to comment negatively on authors one has not read. Every time a defender of ID makes an erroneous statement, the public image of ID is lowered. Those of us who have carefully studied the original writings of Darwin, the history of science, and so on, would prefer not to have to go into damage control mode to deal with careless statements made by those on our own side. We would rather direct our attacks against the Darwinists. So please, concentrate on getting your history and your science right.

  121. All of which have to be SPECIFIED for that gene.

    Evolution is not guided to any specific goal.

    Not in your scenario anyway.

    With ID evolution is guided.

    It is not necessary for any particular(or specific if you prefer) gene or binding site to evolve. There are a vast number of potential genes and binding sites that could evolve.

    It is necessary for a particular gene and binding sites to evolve for the reasons provided.

    New genes require a particular binding site. And even if there are a number of different binding sites you still need one of them.

    The same goes for all the other meta-information- promoters, enhancers, represssors, etc.

    Each has to be for a particular gene and not for some non-protein coding sequence.

    For example say via duplication we get a new gene. That gene is useless without all the PARTICULAR meta-information for that gene.

    What part of that don’t you understand?

  122. Mark Frank,

    I read the paper. What I didn’t understand I asked biology professors about.

    I also had Dr Doug Axe’s explanation to go by.

    You can read Dr Axe’s response:

    Bold Biology for 2009

  123. Re #106. The “something about whales” was an example of a complex integrated system arising. Or don’t whales count as complex integrated systems?

    Not arising from scratch. That is what ID states.

    But anyway as I have stated there isn’t anything in ID which states tat whales could NOT evolve from a land mammal.

    The debate is about the MECHANISMS.

    Was it a blind and undirected search?

    Or was it guided via internal programming?

  124. Ray,

    ID is NOT anti-evolution.

    “Evolution” can mean several things.

    ID can be considered anti-blind watchmaker as being the sole driver.

    ID does NOT say anything about universal common descent.

    The debate is about the MECHANISMS!

    So what we have are people arguing against ID when they don’t even understand what is being debated.

  125. “The primary difficulty with your position is that it clashes with that of many leading ID supporters. For example, Michael Behe accepts common descent, but is arguably the world’s leading proponent of intelligent design. How do you square that with your position?”

    It clashes with Behe—-no doubt. Show me quotes by Johnson and Dembski?

    Behe *chose* to “accept” common ancestry and human evolution in order for his IC evidence to not be dismissed as originating from a Creationist. His strategy has failed and now he is stuck.

    “I will not remark in detail on the various historical errors in your comments. They show lack of knowledge of the primary sources, and lack of knowledge of the history of evolutionary theory. I would recommend not relying so much on web sites and evangelical sources, and making more use of a university library, or even taking a course on the history of science.”

    All of my claims were supported by scholarship, unlike yours.

    Your comments above correspond to the inability to refute. I challenge you to back up any of your claims. My expertise is in the History of Science. In later editions of the “Origin” Darwin included a historical review of transmutation. He is a primary source. I suggest that you begin with Darwin.

    Ray

  126. Thomas Cudworth (#120):

    “You can of course define terms any way that you want to. You can define ‘evolution’ to mean what I am calling “Darwinism”. In that case, evolution is obviously opposed to ID.”

    Nobody can define terms anyway they like. Terms MUST be defined to correspond with facts established by recognized scholarship and reality.

    You are merely advocating Ken Millerism on the opposite side of the street. William Dembski has published much against Theistic Evolutionism.

    “Evolution” was accepted as being caused by unguided material (= natural selection). The concept presupposes the falsity of Genesis. This is BASIC stuff. Good grief!

    “….the face of the fact that the Roman Church allows evolution as a permitted view of origins, which it would not do if evolution implied only the chance mechanisms put forward by Darwin.”

    The Reformtion said the Pope and the Vatican were totally corrupt. Nothing has changed. This is WHY we are Protestants.

    Ray Martinez, Protestant Evangelical

  127. Mr. Ray Martinez,

    I’ll assume that you’re not a troll and that you’re speaking your honest mind, to give you the benefit of the doubt.

    As someone who has followed or been a part of ID for most of my adult life, I can tell you that ID as a restricted science makes no claim about common descent. It shouldn’t, either. ID is not Creation Science, nor should it try to be. ID is a tool, with a limited set of questions that it addresses or answers.

    Anyway, that being said, ID can accommodate both because a Designer could have designed one master organism that produced all others (within the limits of physics and information theory), or several separate organisms. Both options are valid ID options.

    So you’re not going to persuade many here with arguments that ID can’t accept CD, since it is easy to show how both options can work well within an ID framework.

    Atom

  128. Thomas Cudworth (#120):

    “….the face of the fact that the Roman Church allows evolution as a permitted view of origins, which it would not do if evolution implied only the chance mechanisms put forward by Darwin.”

    Ray Martinez (#126): “The Reform[a]tion said the Pope and the Vatican were totally corrupt. Nothing has changed. This is WHY we are Protestants.

    Ray Martinez, Protestant Evangelical”

    I re-pasted the above in order to make a spelling correction (R.M.).

    Thomas Cudworth (#120):

    “Those of us who have carefully studied the original writings of Darwin, the history of science, and so on, would prefer not to have to go into damage control mode to deal with careless statements made by those on our own side. We would rather direct our attacks against the Darwinists. So please, concentrate on getting your history and your science right.”

    Once again: ALL of my claims were supported by recognized scholarship. ALL of your claims are gross error.

    Your comments above seat yourself as an authority.

    Ray

  129. 129

    Mr Martinez, it is not my opinion that

    “Behe *chose* to “accept” common ancestry and human evolution in order for his IC evidence to not be dismissed as originating from a Creationist. His strategy has failed and now he is stuck.”

    This would be yours.

  130. Atom (#127):

    “….ID can accommodate both because a Designer could have designed one master organism that produced all others (within the limits of physics and information theory), or several separate organisms. Both options are valid ID options.”

    Standard theistic evolutionism attempting to trick naive Christians into accepting anti-Genesis common ancestry.

    What is your source for a Designer creating this way?

    Intelligent Design presupposes biological reality to reflect the work of invisible Creator. There is no source for any Divine Being creating through common ancestry.

    Common ancestry PRESUPPOSES the non-existence of the GENESIS Creator (= God).

    Next: In addition, to advocate what you have advocated, that is, Designer creating one master organism or several which produce all others corresponds directly to how Charles Darwin ended “On The Origin Of Species” (1859:490). This ending is advocating Deism (Ruse 2005). Deity is external to reality and initiates biological First Cause via breathing life into a form or a few forms.

    Deism says Deity is NOT involved with reality thereafter. Darwin advocated Deism because his theory excluded a place for God. Now, what is your source for a deistic Deity?

    The Genesis Theos (= Theism) is directly INvolved with biological production IN reality.

    Are you telling me that Theists like William Dembski and Phillip Johnson accept Deism? Since Deism accepts the non-involvement of God in reality the view corresponds with Atheism which says God is not seen in reality.

    Charles Darwin was an Atheist as early as 1837 and 1838 (Autobio:85-87). These Autobio pages were dated by his son Frank to be speaking of the two years 1837 and 1838 (see footnote by F. Darwin, page 85). During these same two years Darwin conceived his evolution theory (Autobio:124) and wrote both private notebooks advocating Materialism, while admitting to being a Materialist (Notebooks M and N: 1838-1839). The point here is that when Darwin ended the “Origin” advocating sourceless Deism he was doing so to evade being identified as an Atheist. He HAD to account for First Cause because if he didn’t he would be admitting to Atheism. Atheism believes that matter and life have eternal existence because no Deity exists to have caused their existence. Do you understand?

    Common ancestry is a predetermined conclusion once God is excluded from reality. It is a one horse race, the only option for Atheists.

    ID does not accept common ancestry because ID says Theos/God is not an absentee landlord (Dembski 1999). Species are immutable. God supervises nature hands-on just like Genesis portrays. There isn’t ANY evidence of evolution ever occurring on this planet. There is plenty of evidence for evolution if the atheistic assumptions and presuppositions of Materialism are accepted. Darwinism is Materialism (= anti-science, also known as Scientism (Smith 2001)).

    Ray Martinez, student of British Natural Theology, Old Earth-Young Biosphere Creationist, Paleyan Designist.

  131. Ray (if I may call you by your first name),

    If ID doesn’t jibe with Genesis, or the Koran, or the Vedic Scriptures, that’s fine; it is only the science of design detection. It isn’t YEC or OEC, or any other grand overarching narrative of how we got here. It simply develops methods for detecting design in systems and tests the systems on earth (and the cosmos themselves) for design.

    You can argue all day about Genesis, Theos, etc. but that isn’t ID. Not to say ID is incompatible with Genesis; it is compatible, just as it is also with (designed) common ancestry.

    If you hate Common Ancestry from a biblical perspective, that’s fine (and some would say commendable.) I can direct you to ICR.org and AnswersinGenesis.com where you can find many like-minded fellows interested in showing G-d’s glory through Creation.

    ID isn’t about that. It doesn’t start with presuppositions about whether or not something was actually designed; that is the conclusion (or not, depending on the levels of CSI and other markers present.)

    Sorry I didn’t have time to read your whole post, but I’m guessing most of it was side issues unrelated to ID anyway.

    Atom

  132. Atom (#133):

    “I can direct you to ICR.org and Answers-in-Genesis.com where you can find many like-minded fellows interested in showing G-d’s glory through Creation.”

    AiG, like most Fundamentalists, accept mutability/evolution like all Atheists and yourself. I reject the main claim of Materialism (= species mutability).

    “Sorry I didn’t have time to read your whole post….”

    Or you are unable to address and refute.

    Ray

  133. Atom (#133):

    “ID isn’t about that. It doesn’t start with presuppositions about whether or not something was actually designed; that is the conclusion….”

    Atom: I just obtained controlling interest in a bridge in Brooklyn, looks like a cash cow, email me if you want in.

    Ray

  134. You win Ray.

    Atom

  135. You win Ray.

    Atom

    Hehe…you mean you were unable to refute Mr. Martinez’s non-ID related arguments?

  136. 136

    Ray:

    In replying to your remarks, I find that words almost fail me. Perhaps the best thing for me to do is to quote a couple of the people on whose opinion you think you are relying.

    Charles Darwin, *The Origin of Species*, Sixth Edition (Modern Library), “An Historical Sketch”, pp. 3-4:

    “Lamarck … first did the eminent service of arousing attention to the probability of all change in the organic, as well as in the inorganic world, being the result of law, and not of miraculous interposition.”

    Note the words “ALL change” (implying macroevolution) and the denial of miraculous interposition (contra your assertion in #117 above).

    William Dembski, *No Free Lunch*, section 6.2, p. 314:

    “First off, intelligent design is not a form of anti-evolutionism. Intelligent design does not claim that living things came together suddenly in their present form through the efforts of a supernatural creator. Intelligent design is not and never will be a doctrine of creation…. intelligent design has no stake in living things coming together suddenly in their present form. To be sure, intelligent design leaves that as a possibility. But intelligent design is also fully compatible with large-scale evolution over the course of natural history, all the way up to what biologists refer to as “common descent” (i.e., the full genealogical interconnectedness of all organisms). If our best science tells us that living things came together gradually over a long evolutionary history and that all living things are related by common descent, then so be it. Intelligent design can live with that result and indeed live with it cheerfully.”

    So Darwin tells you that you are wrong about Lamarck, and Dembski says directly, in his most important theoretical work, that you are wrong about ID. And we’ve already established (since you haven’t denied it) that you have attacked Bergson and Denton without having read them. You have also cited a work by Secord (whom I have never heard of) which apparently makes the utterly false and easily disprovable claim that all of Darwin’s supporters were atheists (his most ardent supporters were in fact Anglican clergymen). You have also stated that Darwin was an atheist, based on his autobiography, yet in my complete copy of his autobiography, he never calls himself an atheist; he calls himself at various points sceptical, agnostic, and theistic. He certainly denies the truth of Christianity, but that does not make one an atheist. Overall, then, your scholarship leaves much to be desired. I suspect the problem is autodidacticism, and if that is the case, then I suggest that you acquire some formal training before making more public statements in the area of the history of science.

    You’ve also imputed to Michael Behe insincere motivations which you have no business imputing. Has he conveyed these motivations – which contradict all the relevant statements in his published work – to you personally? If so, please provide the documentation. Otherwise, please have the decency to withdraw your remarks and issue an apology to Dr. Behe.

    Finally, your anti-Catholic statement, aside from its intrinsic offensiveness, is destructive of the coherence of ID as an intellectual movement. ID’s leading biological theorist, Michael Behe, is Catholic, and many of ID’s key supporters, here on UD and elsewhere, are Catholic.

    Ray, if you want to lead a Protestant evangelical anti-evolution crusade, UD is not the place to do it. UD is a focal point for ID supporters of all kinds, including many who accept common descent, and many who do not share your religious views. Please leave the religiously partisan remarks aside, and please make sure you read both ID writers and historical sources with care and understanding before you comment on them. I do not have the authority to ban anyone from posting here, nor, if I did have such authority, would I ever exercise it (except under the most extreme provocation), because I am committed to freedom of speech and to the freedom to express unpopular ideas. However, if I had the power, I would certainly consider suspending your posting privileges until you apologized both to Michael Behe and to all Catholic ID supporters for the remarks made above. On those two points, you are definitely in violation of basic social decencies, without which a controversial site like UD will soon break down into barbarism.

  137. R. Martinez is a troll.

    He shows up periodically, performs some Kung-fu moves in the mirror, proclaims his foes vanquished, then disappears back to his mom’s basement.

    On every occasion, some well-meaning folks attempt in vain to engage him on an adult level.

    According to his behavior, he’s probably one of the following: a child; a frequent traveler on the short bus; or a sock puppet who lacks the commitment to be convincing.

    I’ll allow for a very small chance that he is sincere, and that the puffiness of pride is contributing to both his rude behavior, and his delusion that he makes any sort of reasonable argument.

    I recommend one of the following: 1) ignoring him; 2) pointing and laughing; 3) insisting that he straighten up his act if he wants to eat at the adult table.

  138. Thomas Cudworth (#138):

    Quoting Darwin:
    “Lamarck … first did the eminent service of arousing attention to the probability of all change in the organic, as well as in the inorganic world, being the result of law, and not of miraculous interposition.”

    David Clifford, Ph.D. Cambridge University.

    http://www.victorianweb.org/science/lamarck1.html

    Clifford writing in the Lamarck bio:

    “In 1809 he published his most famous work, Philosophie Zoologique. This volume describes his theory of transmutation. The theory that Lamarck published consisted of several components. Underlying the whole was a ‘tendency to progression’, a principle that Creation is in a constant state of advancement. It was an innate quality of nature that organisms constantly ‘improved’ by successive generation, too slowly to be perceived but observable in the fossil record. Mankind sat at the top of this chain of progression, having passed through all the previous stages in prehistory. However, this necessitated the principle of spontaneous generation, for as a species transformed into a more advanced one, it left a gap: when the simple, single-celled organisms advanced to the next stage of life, new protozoans would be created (by the Creator) to fill their place.”

    Ray Martinez (#117): “Lamarck relied upon spontaneous generation (Divine involvement) to sustain descent (David Clifford, Ph.D., the Victorian Web, Lamarck biography).”

    TC (#138): “….and the denial of miraculous interposition (contra your assertion in #117 above).”

    As we can see I did not make an assertion; rather, I wrote a referenced fact.

    I do not wish to argue the apparent contradiction between Darwin and Clifford. I wish to only say that both of us have supported our respective claims. Thanks for the Darwin quote. I had forgotten about it.

    TC: “Note the words ‘ALL change’ (implying macroevolution)….”

    Those words do not correspond to macroevolution as WE understand the term since the rise of Darwinism. Lamarck proposed what scholars call a “ladder view” of progressive change. Clifford called it a “chain.” Neither description has any correspondence whatsoever to Darwin’s branching tree.

    Here is what Darwin said in 1859 about Lamarck 1809:

    “You often allude to Lamarck’s work; I do not know what you think about it, but it appeared to me extremely poor; I got not a fact or idea from it” (F. Darwin ed. “Life & Letters” 1887 Vol. 2, page 215).

    OUCH!

    Then you quote Dembski at length. The excerpt says ID has no problem with “large-scale evolution” and “common descent.”

    Dembski is using a reportive and stipulative definition of ID. Both categories are valid to define words and terms, however. Definitions, if challenged, MUST have correspondence to scholarship and/or facts or they are invalid.

    Both “Intelligence” or “Intelligent” and “Design” are terms that have a very long pre-history in the History of Science. Each word corresponds to an attribute of a supposed invisible Designer. But more specifically each word presupposes the agency of “Divine power” operating in reality causing biological production.

    On the other hand, the terms “transmutation” and “common descent” or any of the synonyms have an equally long history. SINCE DARWIN 1859 they presuppose the absence of Divine power and advocate unguided material agency operating in reality causing biological production.

    The point is that the evolutionary terms belong to a paradigm (Darwin 1859) that says Divine power is NOT operating in reality. Dembski ignores these objective facts. This is why his definition or explanation of ID is reportive (means what anyone says it means) and stipulative. Again, both reportive and stipulative are vaild; but they are not objective, or based on etymological or cultural renderings (two other valid categories to define words and terms).

    Both historic ID and Darwinism have their own unique terms to describe their agency of biological production. For Dembski or Ken Miller to raid one anothers terms and place them contrary to the agency of causation that they have always described is anti-objective and confusion, that is, the fusion of contrary concepts and ideas.

    But, however, like I said, Dembski can stipulate any rendering he so desires, and he has. Persons like me can come along and point out the major problems, which I have.

    William Dembski is a Protestant Christian. The source of his faith, the Bible, is anti-evolution and anti-common ancestry. Genesis says original species all had a sudden origin via Divine power operating IN reality. Evolution, since Darwin 1859, says Divine power is absent from reality, that is why unguided material is proposed. Darwinism also says sudden origin of species is false. The point is obvious: the objective claims of the Bible and Evolution contradict diametrically. By defining ID to accommodate the main claims of Darwinism, Dembski is saying Moses was not Divinely inspired. With all due repsect he has given away the store. We would expect this from Ken Miller, but not from a soldier of Christ. In the N.T. Jesus, the eternal Logos in the flesh, validated the Book of Genesis.

    Ray Martinez, Protestant Evangelical, Old Earth-Young Biosphere Creationist, Paleyan Designist, student of British Natural Theology-species immutabilist.

  139. 139

    Ray:

    It is sad that you cannot admit when you are in error. You challenged me to produce a quotation from Dembski which supported Behe’s view, and I met the challenge, with just one of the many passages from Dembski’s writings that I could have quoted to make the point. Your response was to play with technical-sounding terminology like “stipulative” and “reportive” in order to paper over the fact that Dembski bluntly disagrees with you about the proper definition of ID. That is simply pathetic.

    The fact is that, though you would like ID to mean the same thing as “creationism”, the world’s major ID theorists say that it does not. In view of the central place of Dr. Behe and Dr. Dembski in the public discussion, and in view of the fact that you have not produced a single book or significant article in defense of ID, your opinion is simply negligible.

    One final remark: I believe that Dr. Dembski would be quite angry with your accusation that he denies the divine inspiration of Moses and that he has “given away the store”. I think he would take that as an outrageous slur against his personal faith. Consider yourself lucky that I am chairing the discussion on this thread, and not Dr. Dembski. Were he still performing disciplinary chores for UD, I suspect that, having made such remarks, you would find yourself out in the cold for an extended period of time. And I cannot say that such a penalty would be entirely unfitting for remarks so personal and doctrinaire.

    I suggest that you take a few days off from posting, in order to regain some perspective. In the meantime, I shall follow the advice of Apollos, and refrain from replying to any further comments of yours.

  140. Thomas Cudworth @ 15

    Seversky’s mention of Tiktaalik shows that he has not grasped the challenge. He should read the fourth-last paragraph carefully.

    Before taking up Thomas Cudworth’s challenge, let me outline my perspective on science.

    I think we can assume that from the earliest days people have been trying to make sense of what they observed happening in the world around them. Lives would have depended, for example, on knowing where and when food could be found with least risk to the hunters or gatherers or when was the safest time to drink at a waterhole shared by many other species. Observation alone would have been sufficient to reveal these times and places if enough time were spent in one place but an explanation of why these were true would have been more valuable because it could have been taken to unfamiliar territory and used to find food and drink more safely there. At root, science is simply a highly-formalized and rigorous development of that process.

    The problem, however, has always been that for any set of observations, where there are two or more competing explanations – and on the assumption that one of the possible explanations is more accurate than the others in that it corresponds more closely than the others to what it is trying to explain – we are confronted with the need to find a means of choosing between them. The obvious solution is to finds ways of testing them against the reality they are supposed to model.

    The key word here is “test”. In science, a theory can be viewed as an explanatory framework constructed around an initial set of data which become evidence for that theory if they can be fitted snugly within it. This initial evidence can often be sketchy so, once a theory has been formulated, the hunt is on to find more data to fill out the picture. A good theory should predict where to look and what you should expect to find when you look there. If you find what is predicted then that tends to support the theory, if you don’t find it then that tends to undermine or, if you like, falsify it.

    In spite of Paleyist attempts to minimize its significance, Tiktaalik was just such a test. If the researchers had found nothing in the Devonian rocks it would have been a failure of evolutionary theory and would have tended to disconfirm it. In the event, the discovery of the fossils was a triumph of prediction for the theory and is evidence tending to confirm it.

    Now I know that when this argument has been made in the past, neo-Darwinians have issued a standard answer. They say that Darwinian evolution is easily falsifiable. All one has to do is find a Cambrian rabbit, or any other fossil that is so far out of sequence that the creature in question cannot have evolved by stepwise Darwinian means. This, however, for reasons given by others, is not an adequate answer. Many ID proponents have no problem with the notion of common descent. They have no problem with the notion that one creature has been used as the basis of a subsequent and more advanced creature. They therefore do not reject “evolution”, and they have no desire to find a Cambrian rabbit or a Jurassic monkey. What they reject is the Darwinian “chance plus natural selection” explanation of evolution. So what neo-Darwinians are being asked, when they are being asked about falsification, is not “What would falsify common descent?” It is: “What would falsify your theory that small, incremental steps, which occur due to genetic accidents, can be combined into useful new structures, up to and including the creation of entirely new functional body plans?”

    Coming now to the fourth-from-last-paragraph from the original post, which I am accused of not reading carefully enough, we find that the discovery of a fossil rabbit from the pre-Cambrian era would not be accepted as evidence against the process of “chance plus natural selection”. But, apart from some diversionary references to common descent, we are not told why not.

    Darwin proposed a mechanism whereby the gradual accumulation of tiny, incremental changes over millions of years, shaped and channeled by environmental pressures, could bring about major changes in morphology and lead to the formation of new species. This is clearly a very long, very slow process which can take billions of years to move from a narrow range of relatively simple organisms to the huge diversity of complex living things we see around us today. A rabbit is but one contemporary outcome of that process and to find the fossil of one far out of sequence in pre-Cambrian strata, long before such a relatively sophisticated organism should have had time to evolve, would be clear evidence against the Darwinian mechanism of evolution through random mutation and natural selection.

    This is not sufficient for Thomas Cudworth, however, he wants much more, much more:

    But what mechanism produced Tiktaalik from its supposed ancestors? What mechanism produced Tiktaalik’s supposed descendants from itself? How does Seversky propose testing the hypothesis “Tiktaalik evolved from an earlier fish by means of random mutations plus natural selection”? What Seversky hasn’t grasped is that he needs to supply more than a sketchy morphological pathway for Tiktaalik’s line; he needs a working, nuts-and-bolts model of the genomic changes, developmental adjustments, etc. – a model that does not just sound good on paper but can be tested, as in: “I propose that Part X and Part Y and Part Z of the genome changed in precisely ways A and B and C, and that this had developmental results D and E and F, and that the new phenotype underwent selection pressures G and H and I, and here is how we can test to find out if all of those things could in fact have happened.”

    Quite apart from the fact that he is asking for the “pathetic level of detail” that was scorned by William Dembski, we have to ask if it is a practical test. Suppose critics of Fred Hoyle’s theory of the nucleosynthesis of carbon in stars refused to accept it unless a probe were sent back in time to gather samples from the cores of ancient stars, would that have been a practical test and hence good grounds for rejecting the theory unless it were performed? While it would indeed be a test of the theory the fact that it would be beyond the limits of current science and technology make it so impractical as to be worthless.
    Equally, while a detailed step-by-step reconstruction of the genetic pathway leading up to Tiktaalik would be valuable, assuming have we the knowledge needed to be able to construct one, the fact that it is highly improbable that any genetic material fossilized, let alone survived until the present, means it is unlikely there will be anything against which to confirm the hypothesis. Again, this would make the test so impractical as to be worthless but its impracticality speaks neither for nor against the theory.

  141. Thomas Cudworth (#142):

    “It is sad that you cannot admit when you are in error. You challenged me to produce a quotation from Dembski which supported Behe’s view, and I met the challenge, with just one of the many passages from Dembski’s writings that I could have quoted to make the point. Your response was to play with technical-sounding terminology like “stipulative” and “reportive” in order to paper over the fact that Dembski bluntly disagrees with you about the proper definition of ID. That is simply pathetic.”

    My previous reply plainly said that Dembski and I disagree. I explained why. You have chosen not to address the reasons or points of disagreement with any substance—-so be it.

    “The fact is that, though you would like ID to mean the same thing as “creationism”, the world’s major ID theorists say that it does not. In view of the central place of Dr. Behe and Dr. Dembski in the public discussion, and in view of the fact that you have not produced a single book or significant article in defense of ID, your opinion is simply negligible.”

    This says “we are right only because we have published and you have not.”

    No one needs to be told as to what is wrong with this “argument.”

    “One final remark: I believe that Dr. Dembski would be quite angry with your accusation that he denies the divine inspiration of Moses and that he has “given away the store”. I think he would take that as an outrageous slur against his personal faith.

    This says “disagree with us means you are attacking the man.”

    I did no such thing. I attacked position.

    Ray

  142. 142

    I thank Seversky (#143) for returning us to the topic of the discussion.

    First, let me say that I have no problem with the first three paragraphs, where Seversky gives his account of science.

    I do have a problem with his fourth paragraph, where he says:

    “In spite of Paleyist attempts to minimize its significance, Tiktaalik was just such a test. If the researchers had found nothing in the Devonian rocks it would have been a failure of evolutionary theory and would have tended to disconfirm it. In the event, the discovery of the fossils was a triumph of prediction for the theory and is evidence tending to confirm it.”

    My objection here is twofold:

    (A) Had Tiktaalik *not* been found, the Darwinists could just give their usual explanation: “We don’t have as many transitional forms as we’d like because fossilization only occurs under ideal conditions. In fact, the absence of transitional forms in the fossil record is itself predictable in terms of our theory. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” So, while Darwinists treat finds like Tiktaalik as confirmation of their theory, and trumpet them loudly whenever they occur, the absence of such finds (and the absences outnumber the presences by a large margin) is not treated seriously as disconfirming evidence. It is argued that a transitional fossil will eventually be found (heads I win), or that it is unreasonable to expect very many transitional fossils to be found (tails you lose). The theory thus becomes immune to disconfirmation from the fossil record – short of the proverbial Cambrian rabbit.

    (B) Tiktaalik confirms, if it confirms anything, descent with modification rather than the Darwinian mechanism. At best it shows that sea creatures were transformed stepwise into land creatures. But that is an inference from the skeletal remains. Absent soft tissues and especially DNA, we can say nothing about the mechanism which produced Tiktaalik, or any other alleged member of the fish-to-amphibian series. All we can say is that it looks as if some sort of fish became something like Tiktaalik, and then something like Tiktaalik became something like a modern amphibian.

    That this doesn’t get us to the Darwinian mechanism can be shown by reflecting upon a sequence of changes in any modern technological invention. We could line up a series of automobiles from the Model T Ford through to the Ford Mustang, and in terms of body shape, engine design, etc., it would be easy to show that each model was a “transitional form” between earlier models and subsequent models, with some similarities and differences. That would not prove that the transition was caused by accidents which fortunately produced new, driveable cars. We know that in fact each new car model looks like the previous one because some old ideas were retained in the design even as new ones were added. The sequence is properly explained by design, not by chance. Similarly, the sequence that led from fish through Tiktaalik to amphibians, even if accepted as THE sequence by which land animals emerged, does not answer the important question, i.e., “Was this sequence the result of chance mutations, or was it in some way guided to a pre-determined end?”

    I would like to focus on point (B), because it is the crucial one. The absence of fossils like Tiktaalik puts *both* common descent *and* the Darwinian mechanism in question. The presence of fossils like Tiktaalik makes common descent much more likely, but does not confirm the Darwinian mechanism which explains common descent. The Darwinian mechanism needs a separate test of its own, above and beyond all tests for common descent. My complaint is that the Darwinians do not or will not provide a test for the mechanism, independent of the test for common descent.

    It is important to get the logic right here. If the *only* possible explanation for common descent were the Darwinian mechanism, then evidence for common descent would also be evidence for the Darwinian mechanism. But if there are *other* possible explanations for common descent, i.e., non-Darwinian explanations, then evidence for common descent does not establish the truth of Darwinism. Now it happens that there are other explanations for common descent: Lamarck-type explanations, Bergsonian explanations, Dentonian explanations, etc. A Lamarckian, a Bergsonian, a Teilhardian, a Dentonian and a Darwinian explanation would all predict that we would find a fossil like Tiktaalik. Therefore, the finding of Tiktaalik does not settle the dispute between Lamarckians, Bergsonians, Teilhardians, Dentonians, and Darwinians. It establishes (at best) the fact of evolution, not the mechanism of evolution.

    Thus, I ask the Darwinists: How can we test the notion of random mutation plus natural selection? It is not enough to say that random mutation plus natural selection, if true, would produce the fossils that we see, because other explanations would produce the same fossil record. It is not enough to say that no Cambrian rabbits have been found. Darwinians must show (to come back to the illustration I used in response to another critic on this thread) that Woody Allen, despite his 98-pound-weakling physique, is actually capable of snapping Hulk Hogan’s spine. If Darwinians can convince me, with a detailed account at the genetic and developmental level, based on the experimentally established capabilities of genomes and developmental processes, that random mutations plus natural selection could have produced the whole sequence from fish through Tiktaalik to amphibians, I will join them in cracking open a bottle of champagne to celebrate Tiktaalik as confirmation of Darwinism. Until then, I can just as reasonably suppose that Tiktaalik was produced by deterministic front-loading, by alien biochemists, by a life-force, or by the finger of God.

    So the question remains, what experiments or observations do Darwinists propose that could either verify or falsify their proposed mechanism? What would it take to get a Darwinist to accept that random mutation plus natural selection could *not* have produced certain crucial transitions? Is there *anything* (beyond out-of-sequence fossil finds) which Darwinists would accept as falsifying the mechanism once and for all? Or is the mechanism so general and so elastic (because our knowledge of genetics and development and past environments is still so hazy) that Darwinism can be stretched to cover any contingency at all, just by imagining different mutational sequences or different ancient environmental conditions? If the latter is the case, is Darwinism a scientific theory at all, or just a naturalistic “metanarrative”?

  143. Ray at 144: I agree with the others that the discussion over the alleged conflict between ID and common descent has become non-productive, and I don’t want to pursue it, but may I make some practical comments about the art of polite debate, comments which may help smooth things over between you and your conversation partners?

    Yes, you did finally disagree with Dembski’s comments on common descent. But I think that Thomas’s point was that you had previously said (117, 125 etc.) that Dembski agreed with you and disagreed with Behe. Thomas was trying to get you to see that Dembski disagreed with you and agreed with Behe, and to plainly admit that fact. It would therefore have been intellectually gracious if, before attacking Dembski’s position, you had said something like: “I see now that I misread and misunderstood Dembski’s position, and that Dembski agrees with Behe. I spoke too hastily. I thank you for the correction.” Direct admissions of error make subsequent conversation much less prickly.

    Regarding your comment about William Dembski’s position, It may seem to you that you were attacking only Dembski’s argument, and not his personal religious beliefs. However, the way you worded things, that was not clear. Your words could be taken to mean that Dembski personally denies the divine inspiration of Moses, and you do not have the right to say or even imply that unless you have a direct statement from him to that effect. Perhaps what you meant to say was: “I am sure that Dembski is a sincere believer and personally accepts the divine inspiration of Moses, but I believe that he makes an intellectual error in failing to see the threat to divine inspiration that is contained in common descent.” If that is what you meant to say, that is what you should have said. What you did say could easily be understood as an attack on a particular person’s religious conviction. Such an interpretation would be natural, given your previous anti-Catholic remark, which I even as a non-Catholic found offensive.

    It is important, before posting anything, to ask oneself, not merely, “Is my position true?”, but also, “How will this way of expressing my position come across to others?” I think you need to pay more attention to that second question. No matter how right your conclusions may be, if you come across as belligerent, doctrinaire, religiously judgmental, or unwilling to directly concede error, no one is going to listen to your arguments with a sympathetic ear.

    T.

  144. Timaeus (#146):

    “I agree with the others that the discussion over the alleged conflict between ID and common descent has become non-productive, and I don’t want to pursue it….”

    It’s become unproductive only because UD refuses to engage the conflict. They have decided to shut down all disagreement by various phrases that beg the question or they *assert* disagreement to be some type of ad hominem attack. Objective persons of any persuasion recognize these tactics to be rooted in the inability to address and/or refute.

    If UD declares the conflict a PRATT then this is the ultimate sign of the inability to refute and/or address. Again, objective persons understand that there is no such thing as a PRATT based on the assumption of an audience always containing new people who are undecided.

    Timaeus: “Yes, you did finally disagree with Dembski’s comments on common descent. But I think that Thomas’s point was that you had previously said (117, 125 etc.) that Dembski agreed with you and disagreed with Behe.”

    117 says no such thing.

    125 says: “It clashes with Behe—-no doubt. Show me quotes by Johnson and Dembski?”

    I *asked* for the quote. Thomas provided. No where did I say that Dembski and I agree concerning evolution and common ancestry. I asked because I didn’t know. Now I know. How could something so simple be misconstrued?

    But for the record: the Dembski quote provided by Thomas says ID can do two paradoxical things simultaneously:

    Cudworth quoting Dembski (#138):

    “Intelligent design is not and never will be a doctrine of creation….intelligent design has no stake in living things coming together suddenly in their present form. To be sure, intelligent design leaves that as a possibility. But intelligent design is also fully compatible with large-scale evolution over the course of natural history, all the way up to what biologists refer to as “common descent”….”

    The claim or explanation of ID says everything before the word “possibility” to be a an open possibility for ID, so is everything after the word “possibility,” that is, “large scale evolution” and “common descent.”

    Dembski’s claims for ID are logically flawed. Aristotelian Logic says “A” cannot be “A” and not “A” AT THE SAME TIME. If you were educated in the West then your education presupposed Aristotelian Logic. ID cannot be open to Creationism and anti-Creationism (= “large scale evolution” and “common descent”) AT THE SAME TIME. ID corresponds to Creationism because both accept the exact same agency of causation, Divine power and/or Intelligence. THIS IS WHY in my last post to Thomas Cudworth I identified Dembski’s ID definitions and explanations to be reportive and stipulative. *These* definitions or explanations exist in a state of subjectivity in addition to being logically flawed.

    Again, I would like to stress that my criticism is based solely on the Dembski quote that Thomas Cudworth posted.

    Timaeus: “Thomas was trying to get you to see that Dembski disagreed with you and agreed with Behe, and to plainly admit that fact.”

    I have shown that no where did I say Dembski agreed with me. After the quote was produced I have admitted that he does not. But on second thought: since the Dembski quote actually says ID is open to the possibility of Creationism how is it that we disagree?

    I am asking a real non-rhetorical question.

    Does Behe agree with the Dembski quote?

    The Dembski quote actually says, as I have shown, TWO THINGS: ID is open to the possibility of Creationism and large scale evolution and common descent.

    Timaeus: “Regarding your comment about William Dembski’s position, It may seem to you that you were attacking only Dembski’s argument, and not his personal religious beliefs. However, the way you worded things, that was not clear. Your words could be taken to mean that Dembski personally denies the divine inspiration of Moses, and you do not have the right to say or even imply that unless you have a direct statement from him to that effect.”

    I completely disagree. The way I worded things was perfectly clear.

    Reiteration or what I said in sequential order: Based on Dembski’s [possible] acceptance of large scale evolution and common descent, the same contradicts Genesis and the claim of the canon: Divine inspiration.

    I surely do not appreciate being misrepresented. I have chosen my words carefully. To say I attacked anyone personally is an egregious and verifiable misrepresentation. Simply scroll back and confirm. I am a guest here and I have done nothing but participate like a gentleman.

    I find it rather curious that these charges have yet to be accompanied by the quotes. This tells anyone with a brain that they are error or false accusations.

    Ray

  145. 145
    Thomas Cudworth

    Re: #147

    Despite the gentle intervention of Timaeus, who disputed none of Ray’s ideas and made recommendations regarding only Ray’s bedside manner, Ray has launched into a tirade of self-justification, showing that he completely missed the point about how he comes across. It is clear that Ray is incapable of seeing himself as others see him.

    Among Ray’s complaints was the charge that direct quotations from his posts were not supplied. Well, here is one:

    “The Reform[a]tion said the Pope and the Vatican were totally corrupt. Nothing has changed. This is WHY we are Protestants.

    “Ray Martinez, Protestant Evangelical”

    It apparently never occurred to Ray that it might constitute an insult to the world’s largest group of Christians to gratuitously denigrate its leadership as “totally corrupt”. It also apparently never occurred to him that his use of the pronoun “we”, with no antecedent specified, might be taken by a casual UD reader to imply that UD takes a Protestant Evangelical and anti-Catholic stance.

    I want to make it clear to all Catholic and non-Catholic readers who might have been appalled by Ray’s outburst that UD does not endorse anti-Catholicism, and does not endorse Protestant Evangelical Christianity or any other faith. UD is an open forum for all those of any religion (or of no religion) who are interested in seriously and respectfully discussing the possibility of the detection of intelligent design in nature. Catholics are as welcome here as Protestant Evangelicals.

    I recommend that we all follow the advice of Apollos and ignore all of Ray’s future posts on this and other threads, until he shows the minimal degree of humility expected in civilized conversation. As for myself, I will not respond to him here or on any other thread until he explicitly distances the “we” in his remark from the position taken both by Intelligent Design and by Uncommon Descent, and until he *directly*, *without qualification*, and *unambiguously* retracts his anti-Catholic remark and apologizes to all UD readers for making it.

  146. 146

    Thomas Cudworth (#147):

    “….Ray has launched into a tirade of self-justification….Among Ray’s complaints was the charge that direct quotations from his posts were not supplied. Well, here is one:

    ‘[R. Martinez; #126 & 128:] The Reform[a]tion said the Pope and the Vatican were totally corrupt. Nothing has changed. This is WHY we are Protestants.

    Ray Martinez, Protestant Evangelical.’

    It apparently never occurred to Ray that it might constitute an insult to the world’s largest group of Christians to gratuitously denigrate its leadership as ‘totally corrupt’. It also apparently never occurred to him that his use of the pronoun ‘we’, with no antecedent specified, might be taken by a casual UD reader to imply that UD takes a Protestant Evangelical and anti-Catholic stance.

    I want to make it clear to all Catholic and non-Catholic readers who might have been appalled by Ray’s outburst that UD does not endorse anti-Catholicism, and does not endorse Protestant Evangelical Christianity or any other faith. UD is an open forum for all those of any religion (or of no religion) who are interested in seriously and respectfully discussing the possibility of the detection of intelligent design in nature. Catholics are as welcome here as Protestant Evangelicals.”

    Ray Martinez: It is an undisputed fact that the Protestant Reformation came about because the Reformers had had enough of the Pope’s anti-Biblical practices. The Roman Church had become totally corrupt. This is what led to the Reformation and the birth of PROTESTantism.

    We know the Reformers paid with their lives. They were burned at the stake. Martin Luther attacked papacy corruption. Today, his name remains revered.

    If the Catholic Church today ends up supporting Darwinism, and this seems to be the case, then this is the context of my quote.

    All Atheists support Darwinism/evolution because evolution says the Bible and Divine inspiration is false. If evolution did not support the Atheism worldview Atheists would not support Darwinism. Evolution presupposes Materialism and Materialism explicitly says that only unguided material causation exists in reality, Intelligent does not. Those are the objective claims of evolutionary theory. Again, this is why all Atheists are evolutionists.

    Darwinism is the Atheism explanation of life. Any Church, Protestant or Catholic, that gives aid and comfort to the Atheism explanation of life is totally corrupt. They are explained the exact same way the Bible explains an original Apostle betraying Jesus to His face with a kiss: under the direct control of Satan. Yes, the Bible explains how “Christians” could support the Atheism view of life while thinking that they are following Christ.

    Ray

  147. 147
    Thomas Cudworth

    Seversky:

    I replied to your latest post at #145 above. I mention this in case you didn’t notice it amidst the off-topic flak which surrounded it. I apologize for the interruption. I thought your last post was good and I tried to write a thorough response. Constructive critics are welcome here, and we would be glad to hear from you again.

  148. Thomas Cudworth @ 150

    My apologies for the delay in replying to 145.

    My objection here is twofold:

    (A) Had Tiktaalik *not* been found, the Darwinists could just give their usual explanation: “We don’t have as many transitional forms as we’d like because fossilization only occurs under ideal conditions. In fact, the absence of transitional forms in the fossil record is itself predictable in terms of our theory. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” So, while Darwinists treat finds like Tiktaalik as confirmation of their theory, and trumpet them loudly whenever they occur, the absence of such finds (and the absences outnumber the presences by a large margin) is not treated seriously as disconfirming evidence. It is argued that a transitional fossil will eventually be found (heads I win), or that it is unreasonable to expect very many transitional fossils to be found (tails you lose). The theory thus becomes immune to disconfirmation from the fossil record – short of the proverbial Cambrian rabbit.

    The fact is that fossilization is a rare event so not only should we not be surprised at the fragmentary nature of the fossil record but we should also be wary of assuming that the large gaps in the record mean that nothing happened. A someone once said: “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. Neither, of course, does it mean we can assume that the gaps are filled with what the theory says should be there. Nature has proven too many times before it is capable of springing surprises on the complacent. We have to accept that the less-than-satisfactory “we don’t know” is the more appropriate response.

    But while the general paucity of fossil record should not be held to say anything for or against the theory of evolution, the success or failure of a specific prediction of the theory does. It is generally accepted that one test of the strength of a theory is its power of prediction. One that can lead us to previously-unknown and even previously-unsuspected knowledge is of enormous value. Does anyone doubt that, if an application of the Explanatory Filter had uncovered incontrovertible evidence of the involvement of an extraterrestrial intelligence in the history of life on Earth, it would be hailed as an enormous triumph for the theory of Intelligent Design? Yes, the discovery of the Tiktaalik fossils is rightly celebrated as a great success because it led the researchers to something they might not have found otherwise and, yes, it is unlikely that a failure to find anything would have received the same attention. Unfortunately, that is human nature but it has no relevance to the significance of the find as confirmatory evidence for part of the theory of evolution.

    (B) Tiktaalik confirms, if it confirms anything, descent with modification rather than the Darwinian mechanism. At best it shows that sea creatures were transformed stepwise into land creatures. But that is an inference from the skeletal remains. Absent soft tissues and especially DNA, we can say nothing about the mechanism which produced Tiktaalik, or any other alleged member of the fish-to-amphibian series. All we can say is that it looks as if some sort of fish became something like Tiktaalik, and then something like Tiktaalik became something like a modern amphibian.

    [...]

    It is important to get the logic right here. If the *only* possible explanation for common descent were the Darwinian mechanism, then evidence for common descent would also be evidence for the Darwinian mechanism. But if there are *other* possible explanations for common descent, i.e., non-Darwinian explanations, then evidence for common descent does not establish the truth of Darwinism. Now it happens that there are other explanations for common descent: Lamarck-type explanations, Bergsonian explanations, Dentonian explanations, etc. A Lamarckian, a Bergsonian, a Teilhardian, a Dentonian and a Darwinian explanation would all predict that we would find a fossil like Tiktaalik. Therefore, the finding of Tiktaalik does not settle the dispute between Lamarckians, Bergsonians, Teilhardians, Dentonians, and Darwinians. It establishes (at best) the fact of evolution, not the mechanism of evolution.

    Thus, I ask the Darwinists: How can we test the notion of random mutation plus natural selection?

    How would you “test the notion of random mutation plus natural selection”? You point out that the Tiktaalik fossils tell us nothing about the genetic pathways that led up to it and, while this is true, it sounds too much like a glass-half-full/glass-half-empty distinction. You play down the significance of the Tiktaalik find and what it does tell us in favor of what it does not and cannot show. What purpose does that serve?

    But let’s agree that the <Tiktaalik fossils are not going to provide any evidence of the genetic pathways life followed in far-distant past and then consider whether any evidence of those paths will have survived to the present. If the answer is that it is so highly improbable that we can safely ignore the possibility then is there any point in asking for such evidence at all? And if that is agreed then where do you think we look for data, however indirect, that random mutation and natural selection?

    It is not enough to claim that Lamarckian, etc explanations would have predicted Tiktaalik as surely as the Darwinian. The fact is they didn’t, it is not at all clear that they could and until they do put forward well-founded predictions with the same fecundity as Darwinism we have no reason to think they can.

  149. 149
    Thomas Cudworth

    Seversky:

    A good reply. I don’t find anything you are saying unreasonable or in any crude sense “wrong”. But I still maintain that Tiktaalik isn’t really all that important a find. Let me explain why.

    First of all, my position is *not* anti-evolutionary. I don’t deny the possibility that species can be transformed, by some means or other, into new species. If Michael Behe, one of the leading design theorists, can live with common descent, I can, too. So my position is not at all like that of those who are trying to disprove “evolution”. If fossils are found from time to time that provide “missing links” in a putative evolutionary chain, they don’t upset me in the slightest.

    Now, let’s look at Tiktaalik. Everybody knows that the first land vertebrates are supposed to have come from the sea, since the sea was the only possible non-miraculous source of land vertebrates. Therefore, on any evolutionary view, fish must have turned into land vertebrates by some series of steps. It is likely that this would involve an amphibious stage, followed by a reptile stage. So we would expect to see fishlike fossils, followed by amphibian-like fossils, followed by reptile-like fossils. Further, since we can roughly date the strata in which there were only fish, and roughly date the strata in which true reptiles are known to have first appeared, we will obviously predict that intermediate forms will appear in the intermediate strata. So we will look for forms like Tiktaalik in rocks of a certain date. And if we know that rocks of a certain date are found in a certain place on the earth, then we will look there for intermediate forms. So we look there, and in this case we find an intermediate form. There is no profoundly original scientific thinking in this process.

    Now let’s greatly oversimplify things, granting much more than Tiktaalik warrants, and say that Tiktaalik proves that land animals evolved from fish through a series of intermediates over a period of millions of years. So we have disproved the view of six-day literalists. Big deal! We still have no explanation for how this process happened. Oh, we have a general narrative for how it happened: small gradual changes plus natural selection. But on the level of nitty-gritty detail, we hardly have a clue. We simply don’t know if Darwin’s mechanisms are nuanced enough, subtle enough, intricate enough, to generate the complex, interrelated changes observed. We don’t know if Darwinian mechanisms can fully mimic intelligent design. And we have no right to assume that they can.

    When paleontologists, the NCSE, etc., beat their chests about discoveries like Tiktaalik, they show that they haven’t grasped that the game has changed. The game is no longer six-day creationism versus “evolution”. The new game is “evolution driven entirely by non-intelligent causes” versus “evolution driven at least in part by intelligent causes”. And it’s important to stress that the “intelligent causes” don’t necessarily have to be seen as interventions coming from outside nature; the intelligence may be, as it were, built into nature, in the fundamental properties of matter and life. Thus, all the Darwinian blathering about methodological naturalism is beside the point. Methodological naturalism does not automatically exclude intelligent design (understood as information) as a causal factor in nature. Yet neo-Darwinism remains opposed to intelligent involvement in nature *per se*, not only when that intelligence is conceived of as something external (as in “creationism”), but even when it is conceived of as something immanent (as in front-loaded evolution). Neo-Darwinism is built upon the assumption that evolution is ultimately accidental. And this assumption is coming under assault from within the life sciences community itself, e.g., people like Michael Behe and Michael Denton and Richard Sternberg.

    Fundamentalism, Genesis, the Scopes monkey trial, the desperate denial of intermediate fossils, denying the age of the earth, Flood geology – all of this is now irrelevant. Forrest and Pennock and Eugenie Scott and the NCSE can keep harping on it if they want, but the debate among serious theoretical minds has moved on and left them behind. The debate now is between the younger generation of biologists, who increasingly will be trained to think like engineers and computer programmers, versus the older generation of biologists, who were all trained in an “order out of chaos” mode of thinking reminiscent of 19th-century laissez-faire economists. In my opinion, the smart money is on the engineers and programmers.

    The only thing that can keep design thinking out of future evolutionary theory is an account of evolution that can demonstrate that reproductive accidents are a reliable engine for generating major new organs, systems, and body plans. Such an account goes far beyond the level of detail that Darwinian theory has yet provided. Darwinism needs to show in detail, not *that* the fin became a foot, but *how* the fin became a foot; not *that* lungs replaced gills, but *how* lungs replaced gills. And the *how* must be so thoroughly set forth that there is no room for intelligence to get a foot inside the explanatory door. On this front, I have yet to see anything from Darwinists but promissory notes.

    I’ll take up only one other point. In response to my falsification challenge, you ask:

    ‘How would *you* “test the notion of random mutation plus natural selection”’

    It seems to me that in the practice of science, it is the job of the person who proposes a hypothetical mechanism to suggest experiments or observations that could potentially falsify it. So if the hypothesis is “that random mutations acted on by natural selection can turn a fish into an amphibian”, it is the responsibility of the hypothesizer to give enough details of the process (e.g., what allegedly happens at pinpointed locations along the DNA strand, or what specific selection pressures are allegedly operating on fish/amphibian limbs in seashore environments) so that either the hypothesizer, or someone else, can set up some kind of test (e.g., in which the activity in the genome can be manipulated or at least observed, or in which the alleged selective pressures can be confirmed). If the hypothesizer can’t be definite about what should happen in the genome or how to rank the factors involved in natural selection, then his mechanism isn’t testable at all, and the “hypothesis” isn’t strictly a hypothesis at all, but just a speculative possibility.

    I don’t see it as my job to do the Darwinists’ work for them, i.e., to take an armchair speculation and turn it into a viable hypothesis. It’s time the Darwinists stopped expecting the public to accept their account merely because no Cambrian rabbit has been found. It’s time they put their necks on the line, by articulating their mechanism with the precision that puts all truly scientific hypotheses at risk of falsification.

  150. Thomas Cudworth @ 152

    We simply don’t know if Darwin’s mechanisms are nuanced enough, subtle enough, intricate enough, to generate the complex, interrelated changes observed. We don’t know if Darwinian mechanisms can fully mimic intelligent design. And we have no right to assume that they can.

    That animal morphologies are plastic was observed long before Darwin’s time. Prior to Darwin, although no one had any detailed description of how it was done, this was attributed to God’s handiwork, largely because no one had a better idea. Darwins’ theory offered a mechanism for that change which did not require the hypothesis of divine or any other form of intelligent intervention. At the time of writing, though, the theory lacked a vital component in the form of a process of particulate inheritance. Mendel’s work and the discovery of DNA filled in that gap and, in so doing, greatly strengthened its credibility. This and other more recent research has found more evidence which is consistent with the evolutionary process which you do not dispute.

    It is true, however, that we do not have detailed observational data of the evolutionary process operating over geological time at the genetic level. Whatever there might have been in the distant past has probably not survived in any detectable form to this day and we have not been around long enough as an intelligent species, let alone practicing science, to have been able to collect enough ourselves thus far. Whether that will still be the case in another million years, assuming we are still around in some form or other, there is no way of knowing.

    As for Darwinian mechanisms mimicking intelligent design, the only examples of intelligent design we have are our own handiwork. We have, for example, built digital computers, landed men on the Moon and sent space probes beyond our Solar System. These are no mean feats but, on the other hand, there is much in the biological world that is still way beyond our capacity to design and build although, again, whether this will always be the case we have no way of knowing. What we can say is that our existence opens the door to the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in this Universe which might conceivably have been influenced life on Earth. Beyond that we have little beyond the suspect analogical argument from design and highly controversial probabilistic claims.

    Methodological naturalism does not automatically exclude intelligent design (understood as information) as a causal factor in nature. Yet neo-Darwinism remains opposed to intelligent involvement in nature *per se*, not only when that intelligence is conceived of as something external (as in “creationism”), but even when it is conceived of as something immanent (as in front-loaded evolution).

    I agree that methodological naturalism does not automatically exclude intelligent design as a causal factor in nature. We ourselves are evidence of the presence of intelligent design in the Universe and I doubt you would find many scientists who would dispute that.

    The problem science has with the Intelligent Design movement, however, is the evidence of equivocation over who or what is meant by the Designer. Trying to develop a method of detecting design, irrespective of the nature of the designer, is a perfectly respectable scientific enterprise but that is not the issue. The sometimes extreme animosity expressed here and elsewhere towards evolutionary biology in particular and naturalistic science in general is obviously inspired by a perceived threat to the critics’ religious beliefs. The writings of Philip Johnson, the Wedge Document and comments made here are evidence of that. An obvious inference from that is that, whether stated openly or not, the designer is the same as the believers God. Yes, the designer need not be the Christian God. It could be a highly-advanced extra-terrestrial intelligence although the ridicule heaped on Richard Dawkins for making a similar suggestion indicates otherwise.

    The debate now is between the younger generation of biologists, who increasingly will be trained to think like engineers and computer programmers, versus the older generation of biologists, who were all trained in an “order out of chaos” mode of thinking reminiscent of 19th-century laissez-faire economists. In my opinion, the smart money is on the engineers and programmers.

    I would certainly hope that these various disciplines will have a synergistic influence on each other rather than being seen as implacably hostile.

    I am bound to say, however, that I find John Wilkins’s argument persuasive that it is misleading to think of biological systems as containing something called ‘information’. Quite clearly, it means different things in different contexts which is bound to lead to confusion and equivocation, whether accidental or deliberate over what is meant in a given case. There is, of course, no reason why it should not be given a specific technical definition within a particular discipline but in that case extreme care needs to be taken to prevent it being confused with other meanings.

    As an example of the problem, consider tree rings. We can obtain information, not just about the tree itself but about the environmental conditions that affected its growth at different times in past. But is it true to say that the tree contains in those rings something called ‘information’? The rings, after all, are simply the visual impression of the slight differences in the material of the tree’s trunk caused by different growth rates in different years. Is it not more accurate to say that, in this case, ‘information’ refers to what is changed in – or added to – the mental model or mind of the observer. In other words, it is not something that inheres in the tree but rather in how that tree is represented in the mind of an intelligent observer and how that is related to other components of that representation.

    I don’t see it as my job to do the Darwinists’ work for them, i.e., to take an armchair speculation and turn it into a viable hypothesis. It’s time the Darwinists stopped expecting the public to accept their account merely because no Cambrian rabbit has been found. It’s time they put their necks on the line, by articulating their mechanism with the precision that puts all truly scientific hypotheses at risk of falsification.

    A theory is neither verified nor falsified by pointing to a lack of evidence where you would not reasonably expect to find any in the first place. Yes, an evolutionary biologist might, at some point, be able to construct a speculative outline of the genetic pathway between the first amphibians and their fish-like ancestors but without any evidence to support it a critic could justifiably dismiss it as just another ‘just so’ story. But, if no genetic material in any form would be expected to survive from that period and the fossil record has nothing like the resolution needed to provide such a detailed picture, what would be the point?

    No one is asking design proponents to do “the Darwinists’ work for them”. It is to be hoped that what they are doing is conducting research of their own, such as running tests of the Explanatory Filter to validate it as a method of detecting Intelligent Design.

  151. “It is true, however, that we do not have detailed observational data of the evolutionary process operating over geological time at the genetic level.”

    I think the problem goes beyond this. The evidence we DO have at the genetic level suggests that things are far more complicated and intricate than ever was expected. As an example of this let me direct you to this entry in Dr. Macneill’s blog: http://evolutionlist.blogspot......-gene.html.
    The evidence also fails to suggest that genetic change over time is capable of doing what is necessary for unguided evolution.
    So, what do we have?
    1. We will likely never have observational data of evolution working at the genetic level over geological time.
    2. The data we can observe fails to support that the necessary genetic change could’ve occurred naturally (IMO).
    “Most biologists would agree that the majority of mutations that change protein sequences or alter gene expression are harmful, because they perturb highly adapted biochemical and physiological systems. Mutations that generate “visible” phenotypes are usually manifestly deleterious, but the deleterious nature of most amino acid changes can also be inferred from the high degree of conservation of protein-coding sequences relative to noncoding DNA. Deleterious mutations impose a “load” (selective reduction in fitness) on populations; individuals either die or fail to reproduce, because they carry harmful mutations, a process MULLER 1950 termed “genetic death.” HALDANE 1937 showed that the load imposed by a deleterious mutation was independent of its selective effect. This has become known as the Haldane-Muller principle and implies that the mutational load depends largely on the rate at which deleterious mutations occur over the whole genome, U. Haldane applied this principle to estimate the mutation load in Drosophila melanogaster by assuming that the mutation rate to nonlethal deleterious mutations was twice that to lethals, for which an estimate was available at the time. He concluded that populations would experience an ~4% depression in fitness through the elimination of deleterious mutations, a “loss of fitness,” he suggested, which was “the price paid by a species for its capacity for further evolution” (HALDANE 1937 , p. 349).”
    http://jhered.oxfordjournals.o.....l/95/4/277

    “The next big question that begs to be asked with regard to complexity, both organizational and genomic, is: was there a consistent trend towards increasing complexity during the 3.5 billion years of life evolution on earth? The most likely answer is, no. Even very conservative reconstructions of ancestral genomes of archaea and bacteria indicate that these genomes were comparable in size and complexity to those of relatively simple modern forms (88,89,91,93). Furthermore, reconstructions for some individual groups, and not only parasites, point to gene loss and genome shrinking as the prevailing mode of evolution (249). Considering that numerous prokaryotic groups undoubtedly have gone extinct in the course of life history, there is every reason to believe that, even prior to the radiation of all major lineages known today, the distribution of genome sizes and the mean complexity in prokaryotes was (nearly) the same as it is now.” http://nar.oxfordjournals.org/.....l/gkp089v1

    “The problem science has with the Intelligent Design movement, however, is the evidence of equivocation over who or what is meant by the Designer. Trying to develop a method of detecting design, irrespective of the nature of the designer, is a perfectly respectable scientific enterprise but that is not the issue.”

    Design detection is the aim of ID though. Individuals have strong opinions about where the design came from, and of course an internet blog is the kind of forum these ideas will be expressed in. Have you checked out Panda’s thumb or any of the blogs like that? The animosity coming from that side is far worse IMO, but certainly it is at least as bad. Why? Maybe because ID threatens the materialistic view of evolution that atheists cling to, maybe because it threatens the status quo.

    “As an example of the problem, consider tree rings. We can obtain information, not just about the tree itself but about the environmental conditions that affected its growth at different times in past. But is it true to say that the tree contains in those rings something called ‘information’?”

    I think, and I could be wrong here, that the information in question is genetic. If I gave you a lab manual containing instructions for synthesizing proteins would you say that lab manual contained information? I just looked on freedictionary.com and the definition for information as applied to computer science is “Processed, stored, or transmitted data.”. I’m thinking DNA probably counts as information without ID making up its own definition.

    “A theory is neither verified nor falsified by pointing to a lack of evidence where you would not reasonably expect to find any in the first place. Yes, an evolutionary biologist might, at some point, be able to construct a speculative outline of the genetic pathway between the first amphibians and their fish-like ancestors but without any evidence to support it a critic could justifiably dismiss it as just another ‘just so’ story. But, if no genetic material in any form would be expected to survive from that period and the fossil record has nothing like the resolution needed to provide such a detailed picture, what would be the point?”

    So it can’t be falsified.

Leave a Reply