Home » Intelligent Design » Are Evolutionists Delusional (or just in denial)?

Are Evolutionists Delusional (or just in denial)?

My friend Paul Nelson has the patience of Job. He writes that evolutionists, such as PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne, “need to think about [their theological arguments] more deeply.” In one moment evolutionists make religious arguments and in the next they claim their theory is “just science.” Their religious arguments, they explain, really aren’t religious arguments after all. Gee, that was easy. In light of such absurdity, I don’t have much confidence that evolutionists are going to think more deeply about this. But it would be nice if they would stop misrepresenting science. And it would be nice if they would stop using their credentials to mislead the public. In short, it would be nice if they would stop lying.

Continue reading here.

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181 Responses to Are Evolutionists Delusional (or just in denial)?

  1. Mr Hunter,

    What would qualify as a non-religious argument in your opinion?

    Regards,

    MeganC

  2. Is Cornelius’ Hunter’s behaviour acceptable? He accuses evolutionists of being liars when he has no evidence of it.

    Even if you assume Hunter is right (which I certainly don’t) there is no reason to assume evolutionists are lying – why not just mistaken?

    Would behavious like this be accepted if evolutionists were doing it?

  3. Are they delusional or just in denial? Oh, and have they stopped beating their wives? Way to limit the choices; I think that’s called poisoning the well.

  4. The length of nerves has to do with timing.

    Also one has to remember that the organisms we are observing today are not the originally designed organisms.

    Rather what we observe today are the effects of random processes on that original design.

  5. To be fair, similar charges have been made against Bill Dembski. The response was that Bill has earned degrees in both science and theology, and will of course make statements relative to each discipline. The difference, of course, is that Bill makes this distinction clear while these guys are saying that “their religious arguments, they explain, really aren’t religious arguments after all”. I don’t see this as “lying” per se since in their minds their beliefs constitute reality. To make a clear distinction would not make sense within the confines of that worldview. So you can call it absurd, but I don’t believe they’re purposefully lying.

  6. 6

    Patrick your not trying to say that ID isn’t religious because a person prefaces their comments and says something like, “while I am a religious person, the argument I am about to make is not religious.”

    You say that Dr. Dembski makes this type of distinction and therefore is free of religious bias when dealing with the science of ID. But others, by not making this declaratory statement or engaging in religiously motivated pseudoscience because they do not make this distinction.

    Isn’t this verbal acknowledgment, really pointless. The only thing that matters are the actual data that the scientists has collected and put forward.

    Now at Dover both sides had to show that their arguments were not religious. The ID side failed. I admit that if Dr. Dembski had been able to implement his Wedge startegy that he and his students came up with it would have been a different situation. But nonetheless, ID lost. It was shown to be religious, while science was found to be free of religious assumptions.

    I am in agreement that neither party is lying. In your opinion are you a truthful traitor or a loyal liar?

  7. I was introduced to ID by Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box” and I have read it many times. I am left with the understanding that Intelligent Design is more or less in agreement with evolutionary theory with respect to the historical development of life on Earth. It seems that Behe accept common descent but claim that some features, for instance the bacterial flagellum, are too complex to be the result of natural processes. They must be a product of Intelligent Design.

    It therefore strikes me as somewhat odd that a creator of such intricate and highly optimized design would make what seems like an obvious mistake like the recurrent laryngeal nerve.

    According to Hunter, “nature’s organisms do not look as though they evolved.” We are drawing inferences from what we find in biology, like the inference that bacterial flagellum look designed. We likewise infer that the recurrent laryngeal nerve was designed.

    Am I alone in seeing a dichotomy here?

    If nature’s organisms do not look evolved, does that mean they look designed? If that is the case, maybe we can say:

    “Of course, imperfect designs make sense in Intelligent Design. So do perfect designs, and everything in between. These make sense in Intelligent Design just as my bad day yesterday make sense in astrology and warp drive makes sense in science fiction movies.”

    I am confused and don’t know what to believe.

  8. 90DegreeAngel,

    At Dover it is true the school board had religious motivations.

    It is also clear that said school board didn’t understand ID.

    As a matter of fact the defense nor the judge didn’t understand it either.

    It is also a fact thta ID does not require a belief in “God”.

  9. Joseph,

    It is also a fact thta ID does not require a belief in “God”.

    but according to Behe it makes a lot more sense if you do.

  10. Perhaps to Behe but that only relates to him and his opinion.

    Many people I know say that ID is a slam against “God”.

  11. Other people have also weighed in on this- including John Morris, the president of the Institute for Creation Research:

    “The differences between Biblical creationism and the IDM should become clear. As an unashamedly Christian/creationist organization, ICR is concerned with the reputation of our God and desires to point all men back to Him. We are not in this work merely to do good science, although this is of great importance to us. We care that students and society are brainwashed away from a relationship with their Creator/Savior. While all creationists necessarily believe in intelligent design, not all ID proponents believe in God. ID is strictly a non-Christian movement, and while ICR values and supports their work, we cannot join them.”

  12. The problem with doctor PZ Myers is that his articles (which he produces every two hours 24/7/365 unless he sleeps) deals more with spreading aggresive atheistic propaganda and bizzare naturalistic teaching called darwinism than something valuable.
    When he deals with biological problems he always support darwinian explanations – however curious they may be. Like his textbook-explanation of descent of testicles. I’ve dealt with the problem on my venue, entry:

    “Adolf Portmann and two poles of Vertebrata ”

    http://cadra.wordpress.com/

  13. 13
    Cornelius Hunter

    MeganC (1):

    What would qualify as a non-religious argument in your opinion?

    I just answered a similar question, so let me paste in my answer to that question (in simplified form) to get things started:

    ———–

    When a professor teaches a process of evolution that uses completely mechanistic forces to arrive at the species we observe, are they in your view displaying religious convictions?

    Your question avoids the crux of the matter. It would be like asking: If a professor teaches Hinduism, is he displaying religious convictions?

    Obviously, the answer is “It depends.” What is the professor saying about Hinduism (or the species)? One can teach from a scholarly perspective, or from a religious-advocacy perspective (which is what evolutionists do).

    When evolutionists teach that evolution is a fact then, yes, they are displaying religious convictions.

    But if the professor teaches from a scholarly perspective, where the evolutionary theory is explained alongside the data, then the professor is not displaying religious convictions. But evolutionists rarely do this.
    ——–

  14. Cornelius,

    But evolutionists rarely do this.

    what evidence do you have for this claim? how many university-level evolution lectures have you seen recently?

  15. Khan,

    There isn’t any such data- that is the evidence for the claim.

    The “evidence” for the evolution of the eye/ vision system is the same now as it was in Darwin’s day- IOW no one knows if eyes nor vision systems can evolve.

    IOW anyone who lectures on anything more that slight variations is doing so sans data.

  16. Joseph,
    In order to make the claim that something is rare, you have to extensively look for that thing and then not find it very often. the only way Cornelius can back up his claim is to attend multiple evolution lectures at multiple universities, identify criteria for assigning each style of teaching evolution and run statistics on his results. otherwise, he is doing what is generally called “making stuff up.”

  17. Khan,

    I believe that is what evolutionists do “make stuff up”. ;)

    But I understand your point.

    But if the professor teaches from a scholarly perspective, where the evolutionary theory is explained alongside the data, then the professor is not displaying religious convictions.

    Do you know of any?

  18. Joseph,

    That is exactly how my high school AP Biology teacher taught it and how my Intro to Evo Biology prof taught it in college. There were no displayed “religious convictions” in either class. Why would there be?

    -DU-

  19. 19
    Cornelius Hunter

    Khan (13):

    But if the professor teaches from a scholarly perspective, where the evolutionary theory is explained alongside the data, then the professor is not displaying religious convictions. But evolutionists rarely do this.

    what evidence do you have for this claim? how many university-level evolution lectures have you seen recently?

    I was being generous. I have never seen the theory of evolution presented from a scholarly, scientific perspective. I have looked at a wide spectrum of textbooks (junior high level, high school level, junior college level, university level). Of course I have attended my share of classes, but I have discussed this with many other folks as well. I have never heard of an evolutionist presenting the theory from a scholarly, scientific perspective.

    While I have looked at many textbooks, of course my sample of particular courses is limited. I hear no evidence that there is a substantial population out there of courses that go against the grain, but there well could be a few. I’d be delighted to hear that there are more that have gone unnoticed.

    So yes, my comment was subjective, but I suspect it was generous.

  20. Cornelius,

    I have never seen the theory of evolution presented from a scholarly, scientific perspective. I have looked at a wide spectrum of textbooks (junior high level, high school level, junior college level, university level).

    I have 4 Evolution textbooks in front of me right now (Futuyma, Freeman/Herron, Ridley, Strickberger). Pick any one and tell me how it does not present evolution in a scholarly, scientific manner.

    Of course I have attended my share of classes

    how many? where? when? enough to get a representative sample?

  21. Mr Joseph,

    But if the professor teaches from a scholarly perspective, where the evolutionary theory is explained alongside the data, then the professor is not displaying religious convictions.

    Do you know of any?

    I was just browsing through Selection: the Mechanism of Evolution, 2nd ed., by Graham Bell, over the weekend. It was extensively correlated with experimental results. Do you know a university level course in evolution that only doesn’t have a textbook like that, and require reading it?

    (Good book, BTW, but expensive.) ;)

  22. 22
    Cornelius Hunter

    utidjian (17):

    That is exactly how my high school AP Biology teacher taught it and how my Intro to Evo Biology prof taught it in college. There were no displayed “religious convictions” in either class.

    The theory was presented as not a fact (or anything close) and the scientific problems with evolution and at least some of its many fundamental and false predictions were presented?

  23. Khan,

    Do any of those textbooks discuss universal common descent?

    Do they present it as accepted fact?

    And do any of those textbooks discuss mechanisms?

  24. Nakashima,

    What experimental results demonstrate eyes and vison systems can evolve to the extent the ToE requires?

  25. Cabal,

    I am left with the understanding that Intelligent Design is more or less in agreement with evolutionary theory with respect to the historical development of life on Earth.

    The ID movement is a bit more diverse than that. It includes both old and young-earth theorists (John Sanford is in the latter category). There are those who accept common descent and those who reject it. What unifies us all is the belief that Design can be inferred in certain structures using information theory.

    It therefore strikes me as somewhat odd that a creator of such intricate and highly optimized design would make what seems like an obvious mistake like the recurrent laryngeal nerve.

    First, it’s not clear it’s a mistake, and second, irregardless of whether it’s a mistake or not, you’re making an assumption about what the intent of the Designer is.

  26. 26
    Cornelius Hunter

    Khan (19):

    I have 4 Evolution textbooks in front of me right now (Futuyma, Freeman/Herron, Ridley, Strickberger). Pick any one and tell me how it does not present evolution in a scholarly, scientific manner.

    I’ll use Ridley, Blackwell, 1993. You can read through Chapter 3 (“The evidence for evolution”) and find many metaphysical claims. For example, middle of page 46:

    If species have descended from common ancestors, homologies make sense; but if all species originated separately, it is difficult to understand why they should share homologous similarities. Without evolution, there is nothing forcing the tetrapods all to have pentadactyl limbs.

    This is precisely what Sober calls Darwin’s Principle.

    The theory is scientifically absurd, but it must be true.

  27. Joseph,

    Do any of those textbooks discuss universal common descent?

    what do you think?

    Do they present it as accepted fact?

    they present it as a serious scientific theory, backed by textbooks full of data.

    And do any of those textbooks discuss mechanisms?

    I would say about half of each one is composed of discussions of mechanisms.

  28. Cornelius,

    Ridley here shows that homologies provide positive evidence for evolution and refute the specific claims of separate creation. as you know, separate creation was the accepted theory of the origin of species before Darwin. So it makes sense to show that not only does the data fit one theory, but does not fit the other theory. would you like the textbooks to pretend that special creation was never taken seriously?

  29. Nice post. It’s all about religion and it has always been. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with having religion. It’s a problem only if your chosen religion is wrong.

    Right now, we’re just going through an elimination process. The best religion is the one that wins in the end.

  30. The answer to the OP is yes. Delusional AND in denial.

    Artificial life investigators and most applied biologists accepted this reality early on. Steering is required to achieve sophisticated function of any kind. Much of the life-origin research community, however, continues to “live in denial” of this fact.

    From Biosemiotic Research Trends

    Dr. Hunter, I think you would truly enjoy reading some of the material over at http://lifeorigin.info/

    And thanks for you continued intelligent refuting and exposing of the Darwinian fundamentalists and their high priests.

  31. hunter (21):

    The theory was presented as not a fact (or anything close) and the scientific problems with evolution and at least some of its many fundamental and false predictions were presented?

    The theory was presented as the current theory in both classes. The evidence/data/facts were presented as fact.

    During the AP Bio course in high school (this was 1974, Berkeley High School, Berkeley CA, Mr. Panasenko): There was mention of some of Darwins predictions that came out wrong. Some discussion on how the theory developed over time… a bit of the history. There was discussion on Haeckel’s Embryos and how Haeckel had it wrong. There was discussion of Lamarck. There was even discussion of Endosymbiosis. The facts were presented as, well… facts. The theory as the explanation for those facts.

    In the Intro to Evolutionary Biology class (1976, UCB, taught mainly by grad students) there simply wasn’t enough time to cover any problems with the current theory.

    In my high school AP class the teacher sometimes joked about finding transitional forms in the fossil record and how it always led to two more gaps. He also joked that Lamarckism didn’t work as was obvious by experiments in stimulating ones self. Regardless of desire and exercise the organ did not remain any bigger than before.

    In the high school class and, to a lesser extent, in the college class there was some discussion on what was not yet known (abiogenesis for one) and what had been done and what was being done in those areas.

    All in all, the teaching methods and content of the courses was not any different than chemistry, physics or astronomy. Undergraduate courses in astronomy tend to be pretty light since a great deal of math and physics is required to cover it in more detail. I was fortunate to have an Intro Astronomy professor who got his PhD in Astronomy and taught Physics regularly; that and the class was primarily Physics majors. So we covered astronomy in greater detail with more rigour than is typical for such courses.

    This was all back in the 1970s. I would be interested in taking more a more current Evolutionary Biology course at some point. I majored in Engineering Physics and the Intro to Evo Bio course was the last Evolution/biology class I ever took.

    -DU-

  32. Cornelius,
    I am looking through a microbiology textbook and it shows how Pasteur’s experiments demolished the idea of spontaneous generation and provided solid evidence for the idea of contamination by live organisms. does this mean that this textbook makes metaphysical claims as well?

  33. utidjian,
    did you wear an onion on your belt, which was the style at the time?

  34. 34
    Cornelius Hunter

    Khan (27):

    Ridley here shows that homologies provide positive evidence for evolution and refute the specific claims of separate creation. as you know, separate creation was the accepted theory of the origin of species before Darwin. So it makes sense to show that not only does the data fit one theory, but does not fit the other theory. would you like the textbooks to pretend that special creation was never taken seriously?

    This is a good example of the denialism in evolution. I point out evolution is a religious theory. The evolutionist denies it, asks for specifics. I supply them. Evolutionist says it doesn’t matter.

    This religious reasoning runs all through the evolution genre. It is core to the reasoning. The Ridley quote comes right out of the history of evolutionary thought. It is all about god and religion. The science is absurd.

    Homologies do not provide positive evidence (there are significant problems with that argument). And as Sober points out (though it is obvious to anyone familiar with the evolution genre), the “fact” of evolution comes from metaphyical premises.

    If you cannot accept the obvious, then I am sorry for you.

  35. 35
    Cornelius Hunter

    Khan (32):

    I am looking through a microbiology textbook and it shows how Pasteur’s experiments demolished the idea of spontaneous generation and provided solid evidence for the idea of contamination by live organisms. does this mean that this textbook makes metaphysical claims as well?

    No, of course not. In this case you have solid evidence and no religious premises. Exactly the opposite of what you have with evolution.

  36. Cornelius,

    your reply is almost completely substance-free.

    It is all about god and religion.

    do you deny that special creation was the accepted theory before to Darwin? should evolutionists simply ignore this fact?

    Homologies do not provide positive evidence (there are significant problems with that argument

    please explain.

  37. Cornelius,

    No, of course not. In this case you have solid evidence and no religious premises. Exactly the opposite of what you have with evolution.

    do astronomy textbooks make religious claims because they mention geocentrism and how the data don’t fit it?

  38. herb,

    First, it’s not clear it’s a mistake, and second, irregardless of whether it’s a mistake or not, you’re making an assumption about what the intent of the Designer is.

    I am not certain you read me right; i was referring to the fact(?) that we are dealing with what obviously must be an extraordinarily intelligent, competent and capable designer. Therefore, I can’t help wondering about how such obviously poor design can happen?

    Besides, this isn’t the only example; there are many similar oddities to be found all through the animal kingdom. The closest to me is the funny way the male gonad finds its position. From rather close to the heart in the embryo, during foetal development it moves down and pushes against the body wall to end with the scrotum.

    Weakening the body wall in the process, that’s why we get hernia.

    Incidentally, the gonad’s initial position in the embryo is the same as we find in fish. That is also what we would expect given the evolutionary paradigm.

    If the view of ID I find in this thread is representative I can only conclude that any design, good or bad, is compatible with Intelligent Design. Just like evolution.

    Is it irrelevant that evolutionary theory accounts for both good and bad features, while ID only can say “haven’t got a clue”?

  39. ps Cornelius,
    spontaneous generation was adopted by Christianity and many people (including Augustine) wrote about how it was compatible with Biblical teachings. so it does have religious implications, meaning that microbiology is also religious in nature.

  40. khan (33):

    did you wear an onion on your belt, which was the style at the time?

    Heh, no I don’t remember that one. If I thought it would have helped and not also repelled members of the opposite sex, I certainly would have tried it ;-)

    Curiously I remember more about my HS class than the one in college. We had a lot of field trips that were really fun. I also took a couple of Field Bio classes with the same teacher. We are still friends after 35 years and chat online from time to time.

    Anyhow…. back to the OP: I have not seen PZ Myers or Jerry Coyne misrepresenting science. Coyne is not making “theological arguments” (that I can see) but he is making arguments about evolution vs “design.” Are scientific arguments about “design theory” or “intelligent design” now theological arguments? Hunter, how do you delineate where the science stops and the theology begins?

    -DU-

  41. 41

    ID makes much more sense when argued on its merits, and Darwinism makes less sense when argued on its.
    Still I can’t follow the “evolution is religious” idea. Yes, they occasionally draw contrasts to creationism, which isn’t very scientific. And there’s the optimistic faith in yet nonexistent evidence. But that’s more dogmatic than outright religious.
    Comparing the two opposing viewpoints on their merits makes sense. But I think the idea that evolution is religious is a really, really hard sell, and I don’t see what the benefit is.

  42. 42

    Dr Hunter,

    I believe evolution attempts to simply explain the origin of the diverse life-forms we see on this planet. Originally, it was supposed that they were created, or the product of some sort of special creation as is. This view change and now there is evidence to suggest that all living organisms are related and have descended from a common ancestral stock. How is this a religious supposition?

    The evidence that supports this is clearly not religious, because you can go check it out, test it, look at results. You can replicate studies and based on the information that has been collected the theory of evolution makes sense.

    How is this religious???? I am a religious man, a Catholic, and I see NO religious motivations in the work that has led to this theory and the evidence that has been collected over the last 150 years that supports the theory of evolution.

    Dr. Hunter, you keep saying “oh its religious alright!!!” But you have NO sound reasoning. No logical argumentation. AND you ideas constantly get thrashed by those like Khan. Please sir!!! Explain yourself because right now it just sounds like bluster…

  43. DU,

    onion on belt was a semi-obscure Simpsons reference..anyhoo..

    Hunter, how do you delineate where the science stops and the theology begins?

    Cornelius is arguing that because evolutionists sometimes compare their predictions with those of creationism and show that the former fit the data much better than the latter, that evolutionary biology is religious in nature. this is tortured logic and really shows ID is grasping at straws. again, if this logic holds then chemistry, astronomy and microbiology are also all religious in nature because they refute the religious concepts of alchemy, geocentrism and spontaneous generation. i guess that’s the kind of argument you make when you’ve failed to provide a single test or even testable prediction..

  44. If Evolution is religion then it shouldn’t be taught in US schools – thats where I hypothesize Cornelius is going with all these posts – all he has to do is convince enough people first, sew the seeds, then get the lawyers back in ;)

  45. BillB,
    he’s not going to convince many people with this kind of argument:

    1) Evolution is religion
    2) If you don’t agree with me, you are a liar, delusional or in denial

    QED

  46. 46
    Cornelius Hunter

    Khan (39):

    spontaneous generation was adopted by Christianity and many people (including Augustine) wrote about how it was compatible with Biblical teachings. so it does have religious implications, meaning that microbiology is also religious in nature.

    You are using a strawman. You are defining a theory as religious if it has religious implications. Since many theories have such implications, evolution is just one among many, so don’t worry about the fact that it is based on religious premises.

  47. 47
    Cornelius Hunter

    DU (40):

    Coyne is not making “theological arguments”

    Can you elaborate? How is it that “God wouldn’t design X” is not theological?

  48. 48

    First of all Coyne is not writing in a scientific journal, nor is he conducting scientific inquiry . . . Instead he commenting that this idea of special creation that was demolished by darwin and continues to survive in reigious circles today just doesn’t make sense based on their line of argumentation. If one adopted THEIR line of thinking, then the evidence just doesn’t support them . .. however the evidence does support the concept of evolution.

    HOW IS THAT A RELIGIOUS ARGUMENT???

  49. Cornelius (47):

    Can you elaborate? How is it that “God wouldn’t design X” is not theological?

    I thought the argument, as put forward by intelligent design proponents(IDPs), is that “Designer” is not necessarily a god. Am I mistaken?

    IMO, I don’t think scientists nor theologians know if, how or what a god would design X. IDPs propose an intelligent designer that designs things with far more intelligence and perfection than we are currently capable of. Yet we find imperfect designs. What does that say about the design hypothesis?

    -DU-

  50. 50
    Cornelius Hunter

    Angel (48):

    First of all Coyne is not writing in a scientific journal, nor is he conducting scientific inquiry . . . Instead he commenting that this idea of special creation that was demolished by darwin and continues to survive in reigious circles today just doesn’t make sense based on their line of argumentation. If one adopted THEIR line of thinking, then the evidence just doesn’t support them . .. however the evidence does support the concept of evolution.

    HOW IS THAT A RELIGIOUS ARGUMENT???

    You need to read what evolutionists are saying (or you could read the OP). You might also read Sober’s paper.

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....ealed.html

  51. 51
    Cornelius Hunter

    DU (49):

    I thought the argument, as put forward by intelligent design proponents(IDPs), is that “Designer” is not necessarily a god. Am I mistaken?

    Coyne and evolutionists are referring to creationism as well as design theory. With reference to ID, you could say the premise is “metaphysical” rather than “theological” if that works better for you. Either way, we’re dealing with “Darwin’s Principle” as Sober put it.

  52. Khan (43):

    I guess I should watch more Simpsons, or TV for that matter.

    OK… I get it I think. So when we went to the South pole and didn’t find a stack of turtles or elephants (or whatever) the simple scientific observation refuted the religious claim. Similarly, at the North pole, no Santa shack or toy factory.

    So when we find what appears to be poor (un-intelligent) design in nature it refutes the the notion that all things in nature are intelligently designed. At the same time we can show that the theory of evolution can provide an explanation for what appears to be poor design.

    -DU-

  53. Cornelius,

    You are using a strawman. You are defining a theory as religious if it has religious implications. Since many theories have such implications, evolution is just one among many, so don’t worry about the fact that it is based on religious premises.

    actually, I’m just demonstrating the absurdity of your arguments. the history of science is littered with ideas based on religious premises (e.g. geocentrism) being replaced by secular ideas. this happened because the data fit the secular idea better than the religious idea, as the scientists who collected the data pointed out. does this mean that all of these secular ideas are in fact religious simply because they mention the religious idea? if so, then almost all science is religious. is this really what you want to say? it also seems like a very convenient way to avoid criticism of e.g. ID arguments, because as soon as a scientist brings them up, you can automatically say they are making a religious argument.

  54. 54
    CannuckianYankee

    A delusion is a strongly held belief that is contrary to evidential reality. Most delusional people hold beliefs that are not rational, and are not held by 100% of others around them. In other words, they are unique beliefs. So I don’t think that Darwinists fit with both the definition and the common characteristics.

    I don’t believe that most Darwinists are in denial, either. I think that they hold on to the status quo until strong evidence to the contrary is presented. PZ Meyers and others like him do not fit into that category, because he at least has seen the evidence to the contrary. I would have to say then that he is in denial, and is suppressing the evidence for motives that are unclear at this time. As Dr. Meyer illustrated in Chapter 12 of Signature in the Cell, these Darwinists are failing to think outside the box:

    Dr. Meyer illustrates this by Columbus challenging his doubters (of the new world) to balance an egg on its head. None of them could do it, so Columbus broke the end of the egg and allowed it to stand. He thought outside the box.

    All of the others who tried were operating within the parameters that they thought were the only reasonable and acceptable ones. This is exactly what the Darwinists are doing.

  55. 55
    Cornelius Hunter

    Khan (53):

    I’m just demonstrating the absurdity of your arguments. the history of science is littered with ideas based on religious premises (e.g. geocentrism) being replaced by secular ideas. this happened because the data fit the secular idea better than the religious idea, as the scientists who collected the data pointed out.

    Hmmm, where to begin. First off, geocentrism is not a religious idea. Second, heliocentrism did not replace it because it fit the data better. Third, evolution is not a secular idea–it is based on religious mandates for naturalistic explanations, as “Darwin’s Principle” shows and as exemplified lately by Coyne. Fourth, the empirical evidence contradicts evolution:

    http://www.DarwinsPredictions.com

  56. Khan,

    Geocentrism was certainly not a religious idea, as Cornelius pointed out. It was a Greek philosophical/scientific idea that was later adopted by the church, as well as by just about every university (due to Aristotle’s influence). As it turns out, Copernicus did not have any evidence for heliocentrism. For more, please see here.

  57. Oops. Please see here for more on the Copernican revolution.

  58. 58
    Cornelius Hunter

    DU (49):

    IDPs propose an intelligent designer that designs things with far more intelligence and perfection than we are currently capable of.

    I didn’t know that. Can you give an example if an IDP who says that?

  59. 59
    Cornelius Hunter

    Khan (53):

    the history of science is littered with ideas based on religious premises (e.g. geocentrism) being replaced by secular ideas. this happened because the data fit the secular idea better than the religious idea,

    Here’s another way to understand the distinction between evolution and, say, heliocentrism: Why is evolution claimed to be a fact, beyond any shadow of a doubt?

    Answering that question reveals the distinction.

  60. 60

    The simple answer to CH’s question at 59 is that it is a fact because it has been observed. This means that one can see changes in allele frequency over time and measure this. That is a fact. I’m sure your already familiar with the work of Lenski. Therefore evolution is a fact.

    It is a theory that explains the mechanisms behind diversity of living organisms observed on this planet.

  61. 90DegreeAngel,

    The simple answer to CH’s question at 59 is that it is a fact because it has been observed. This means that one can see changes in allele frequency over time and measure this. That is a fact.

    Note that Cornelius is talking about evolution, not changes in allele frequencies.

  62. DU(49)

    IDPs propose an intelligent designer that designs things with far more intelligence and perfection than we are currently capable of.

    Hunter(59)
    I didn’t know that. Can you give an example if an IDP who says that?

    IIRC, Behe says he thinks that God is the designer; I even think I have read a similar claim from other IDP’s as well.

    Which leads to some interesting questions to consider, like:

    Is the designer supernatural or is he a physical being? Is there more than one designer?

    Is God more intelligent than us?

    Would a human be capable of the design and manufacture of not just one, but millions of species

  63. herb,

    Evolution is the change in allele frequencies over time.

    The problem is that evos equivocate that into universal common descent via an accumulation of genetic accidents.

  64. The religion is the belief in universal common descent via an accumulation of genetic accidents.

    The worship is with mother nature, father time and magical mystery mutations.

    Ya see there isn’t any genetic data which would demonstrate the transformations required are even possible.

    And no one can has ever produced a testable hypothesis for the premise.

    IOW it is all based on beliefs and nothing more.

  65. Intelligent Design is not Optimal Design

    I was recently on an NPR program with skeptic Michael Shermer and paleontologist Donald Prothero to discuss intelligent design. As the discussion unfolded, it became clear that they were using the phrase “intelligent design” in a way quite different from how the emerging intelligent design community is using it.

    The confusion centered on what the adjective “intelligent” is doing in the phrase “intelligent design.” “Intelligent,” after all, can mean nothing more than being the result of an intelligent agent, even one who acts stupidly. On the other hand, it can mean that an intelligent agent acted with skill, mastery, and eclat. Shermer and Prothero understood the “intelligent” in “intelligent design” to mean the latter, and thus presumed that intelligent design must entail optimal design. The intelligent design community, on the other hand, means the former and thus separates intelligent design from questions of optimality.

    But why then place the adjective “intelligent” in front of the noun “design”? Doesn’t design already include the idea of intelligent agency, so that juxtaposing the two becomes an exercise in redundancy? Not at all. Intelligent design needs to be distinguished from apparent design on the one hand and optimal design on the other. Apparent design looks designed but really isn’t. Optimal design is perfect design and hence cannot exist except in an idealized realm (sometimes called a “Platonic heaven”). Apparent and optimal design empty design of all practical significance.

    A common strategy of opponents to design in biology (like Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins, and Francisco Ayala) is to assimilate intelligent design to one of these categories–apparent or optimal design. The problem with this move is that it constitutes an evasion. Indeed, it utterly sidesteps the question of intelligent, or actual, design. The automobiles that roll off the assembly plants in Detroit are intelligently designed in the sense that human intelligences are responsible for them. Nevertheless, even if we think Detroit manufactures the best cars in the world, it would still be wrong to say they are optimally designed. Nor is it correct to say that they are only apparently designed.

    Within biology, intelligent design holds that a designing intelligence is indispensable for explaining the specified complexity of living systems. Nevertheless, taken strictly as a scientific theory, intelligent design refuses to speculate about the nature of this designing intelligence. Whereas optimal design demands a perfectionistic, anal-retentive designer who has to get everything just right, intelligent design fits our ordinary experience of design, which is always conditioned by the needs of a situation and therefore always falls short of some idealized global optimum.

    Ya see no one said that the design had to be perfect.

    And even if it started out that way no one said it had to remain that way.

  66. Khan, Angel etc. : You guys are all revealing yourselves to fit both the delusional and in denial categories by almost everything you post.

    Ex. Angel says: “that it is a fact because it has been observed”
    Either you don’t understand whats being discussed in the least or your just blowing more hot air using the “bait and switch” tactic.

    By the definition of evolution you give, even the most staunch of YECs is an evolutionist.

    Ignorance of the actual facts and missing the point entirely betrays you at every step.

    There are no poor designs. Only in the muffled minds of Darwinians.

    Just like the infamous vestigial organs. All of which have gone down the tubes.

    Besides, these “poor design = no design” arguments are old illogical junk. And they are indeed theological arguments, not scientific ones at all.
    I’m not surprised that Darwinists are still using them though, seeing they are in denial.

  67. Khan:

    Cornelius is arguing that because evolutionists sometimes compare their predictions with those of creationism and show that the former fit the data much better than the latter, that evolutionary biology is religious in nature

    This reveals that you understand precisely nothing of the actual argument Hunter has presented.
    Which necessarily leads one to ask whether you understand anything of the science.

    Maybe go take a few courses in logic and philo and try to grasp some basic meaning of words like “implications”, “underlying premises”, etc.?

    You’re very good at strawman arguing but have yet to reveal a basic understanding of the real point. A ubiquitous observation one makes when trying to discuss anything with Darwinists.

    No wonder Hoyle pegged you Darwinian fundamentalists so starkly,

    Because there was not a particle of evidence to support this view [Darwinism], new believers had to swallow it as an article of faith, otherwise they could not pass their examinations or secure a job or avoid the ridicule of their colleagues. So it came about from 1860 onward that new believers became in a sense mentally ill, or, more precisely, either you became mentally ill or you quitted the subject of biology, as I had done in my early teens. The trouble for young biologists was that, with everyone around them ill, it became impossible for them to think they were well unless they were ill, which again is a situation you can read all about in the columns of Nature [magazine].” (Hoyle, F., “Mathematics of Evolution,” [1987], Acorn Enterprises: Memphis TN, 1999, pp.3-4).

  68. Joseph,

    herb,

    Evolution is the change in allele frequencies over time.

    The problem is that evos equivocate that into universal common descent via an accumulation of genetic accidents.

    Thanks for the correction. I meant to object to the evos’ equivocation you are referring to, as Cornelius did recently:

    I’m referring to evolution, not changes in allele frequencies.

  69. herb,

    We cannot allow equivocation.

    Once we do that it can be made as if we are against any and all types of change.

    That is the strawman that Darwin argued against. And that same strawman lives on today.

    See also:

    Biological Evolution- What is being Debated

    It may be semantics but it has to be made clear that we are not arguing against “evolution”, rather ID is an argument against “the blind watchmaker thesis”.

  70. Thanks for the link and further clarification, Joseph!

  71. Cornelius,
    geocentrism was certainly a metaphysical idea. or is seeing the universe as a spindle of necessity, attended by the Sirens and turned by the three Fates not metaphysical enough for you?

    so, is arguing that heliocentrism explains the data better than geocentrism a religious argument? how about arguing that chemistry fits the data better than Islamic alchemy?

  72. I have personally watched the evolution section of the Berkeley biology course by four different instructors. In none did I see a coherent defense of any particular mechanism for all of evolution or even for a major part of the large changes that have happened. It is certainly implied that the mechanism was Darwinian but never backed by any proof.

    When Will Provine debated Phillip Johnson, he essentially made religious arguments. I assume he would have used scientific data if he had them. I haven’t seen Allen MacNeill use any proof here so I assume he does not in his evolutionary biology course. Both are from Cornell. So while that is a sample of two, these are prestigious schools. Maybe Podunk U has an evolutionary biology course which lays it all out.

    Also which of the textbooks present information that supports Darwinian evolution or any other mechanism? We have finches and peppered moths but they are trivial examples. And by the way the Franklins said it would take 23 million years to get a new bird species from the finches. And what have we got from that but a new species of bird; not an eye, nervous system or major organ but a different bird.

    Hallelujah, what Darwin has delivered unto us through his almighty power, a new bird species in 23 million years. Praise be to Darwin.

  73. Joseph @63:

    The problem is that evos equivocate that into universal common descent via an accumulation of genetic accidents.

    Don’t you think it is possible that the accumulation of changes in the genome may be contributed by the Designer, and are not accidents – but evidence for design?

    How can we differentiate between the two? Behe is not in doubt:(DBB p.233)

    The result of these cumulative efforts to investigate the cell – to investigate life at the molecular level – is a loud, clear, piercing cry of “design” The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and Schrödinger, Pasteur and Darwin. The observation of the intelligent design of life is as momentous as the observation that the earth goes around the sun or that disease is caused by bacteria or that radiation is emitted in quanta. The magnitude of the victory, gained at such great cost through sustained effort over the course of decades, would be expected to send champagne corks flying in labs around the world. This triumph of science should evoke cries of “Eureka!” from ten thousand throats, should occasion much hand-slapping and high-fiving, and perhaps even be an excuse to take a day off.

    (My bold)

  74. jerry,
    what kind of “proof” would you accept for macroevolution?

  75. Hi Jerry,

    I’m curious– where did the Grants (I assume you meant them, not the “Franklins”) say it would take 23 million years to get a new species? Where they referring to a particular situation and specific populations in the Galapagos?

  76. “what kind of “proof” would you accept for macroevolution?”

    I think there is plenty of proof for macro evolution from the fossil record. What is missing is proof for a specific mechanism. Since the evidence seems to preclude Darwinian gradualism. To give one an example on how people think, we were at a motel in New Hampshire visiting some relatives, and while at the motel my wife was eating breakfast at one of the typical breakfast rooms a lot of hotels/motels have while I was taking a shower. She got into a discussion with some people who were discussing evolution and she said it didn’t happen and the people replied that they just had visited the Harvard exhibit on evolution and told my wife that if she had seen that she would believe in evolution. She then corrected herself and said of course it happened but that there is no proof how it happened or that it happened the way Darwin said it did and essentially how species arose is still a mystery. And Darwin’s book and the subsequent modifications to his ideas still can not explain how many species arose over the eons. The people were quite patronizing to my wife and just assumed she did not really know anything and that they knew better. But of course they didn’t and had no idea of the controversy.

    So as regards to proof of anything, I spent a long time in various posts over time spelling out what would be necessary to document a mechanism for macro evolution. And for my efforts, was generally mocked by the anti ID people. That didn’t really bother me because it is the standard MO of the anti ID people and actually an admission of defeat. But what I find interesting is that someone would then ask me what would count as evidence after I spelled out what the evidence would look like.

    It would be in the genomes of a family or even higher up the taxonomic tree. All the changes between genera and species and variants would be there and all the paths that the changes could have taken would theoretically be there too. I have proposed this more than once and have said that the issue will not be resolved for several years as various genomes get mapped and compared.

    But what has to happen is not only the various species of a family have to be mapped but there must be several mapping of individual members of a population to look at the breadth of a gene pool to get a feel just how much variation can arise within species members by sexual reproduction. Essentially what will have to be ascertained is the copy number variation within each species and within a family. Then people can assess how the changes happened and if anything major arose through a gradual process. It is several years away before anything like this could happen. Needless to say they know of no major change that has happened by any known mechanism or else we would be inundated with it by the anti ID crowd.

    So as of now, most of my confidence in ID rests on the “dog barking the night.” But the dog did not bark. Precisely, if the dog had a reason to bark, we would hear the barks, growls and howls. But the dog has been silent. I wonder why.

  77. Dave Wisker,

    Yes, it was the Grants. I made a mistake in the name. I believe they were referring to the Galapagos environment.

  78. jerry,
    so you want a mutation-by-mutation analysis of the evolution of higher phylogenetic groups, with the function of each gene identified, the fitness changes of each mutation calculated in every generation (including all the epistatic and epigenetic effects), for multiple individuals of each sex of every species, including the 99% that went extinct along the way? does that about summarize it?

  79. 79

    Hi jerry,

    I’m confused. The estimated age of the Galapagos Archipelago is 5 million years or less. The Grants, as far as I’m aware (and I’m very familar with their work) believe the adaptive radiation of Darwin’s Finches into the 13 recognized species there occurred during that time frame. So I’m wondering where they came up with a 23 million year figure for just one species.That’s why I asked for a bit more clarification.

  80. Cabal,

    I have always maintained the premsie of designed to evolve/ evolved by design.

    Dr Spetner wrote of something like that in “Not By Chance”.

  81. Khan,

    Geocentrism was based on the science of the time.

  82. By what criteria are the variations of finches “different species”?

    Are the different human races also to be classified as “different species”?

  83. As for evidence of large changes-

    What is the positive evidence that demonstrates genetic accidents can accumulate in such a way as to give rise to new protein machinery and body plans?

    As I have said before the only evidence for the alleged evolution of eyes/ vision systems is we observe them in varying levels of complexity and we “know” the original population(s) didn’t have one.

  84. Mr Joseph,

    I’ve read many of your comments, which are generally challenges and questions of generally accepted positions. May I ask you to briefly outline your view of the history of the world? I’m getting a sketchy idea of your views, but I would be interested in hearing your perspective in your own words. Thank you.

  85. 85

    joseph writes:

    By what criteria are the variations of finches “different species”?

    In a discussion of species on the Galapagos, the Grants wrote:

    Species can be recognized by their morphological characteristics and songs (13, 14). With rare exceptions sympatric species pair and breed conspecifically, and as a result are reproductively isolated from each other.

    On Daphne Major, however, they discuss the situation where three species, Geospiza fortis, Geospiza scandens and Geospiza fulginosa hybridize :

    In the first decade of the study on Daphne Major none of the F1 hybrids survived long enough to breed, therefore no gene exchange took place between the species, which were, in that sense, completely reproductively isolated. From 1983 onwards the hybrids backcrossed to the parental species and neither they nor their offspring experienced any apparent loss of fitness. The species were not reproductively isolated and were (and still are) moving slowly on a trajectory toward panmixia. The movement is slow because song constrains the mating of members of the backcross generations (12); none of the backcrosses have hybridized (20).
    Should these be considered three species or one? Given the variety of opinions about how species should be defined and recognized (50), there is no clear answer to that question now, any more than there was when Huxley (51) wrote “we must not expect too much of the term species. In the first place, we must not expect a hard-and-fast definition, for since most evolution is a gradual process, borderline cases must occur. And in the second place, we must not expect a single or a simple basis for definition, since species arise in many different ways.” In our view it is preferable to continue to treat the finches on Daphne as three species, expecting that environmental conditions will change back to those disfavoring the hybrids (14, 39). Elsewhere in the archipelago the three species are morphologically distinctive (52).

    Grant PR and BR Grant (1997). Genetics and the origin of bird species. 94(15): 7768-7775

  86. Nakashima:

    I’ve read many of your comments, which are generally challenges and questions of generally accepted positions.

    I don’t care what is accepted.

    I care what can be demonstrated or has positive evidence.

    May I ask you to briefly outline your view of the history of the world?

    You can ask but I haven’t given it much thought, although colonization from some ancient “alien” civilization seems to be more likley than UCD.

  87. Dave Wisker quting the Grants:
    Species can be recognized by their morphological characteristics and songs (13, 14).

    African tribes vs. the Irish.

    With rare exceptions sympatric species pair and breed conspecifically, and as a result are reproductively isolated from each other.

    African tribes vs Irish again.

    IOW if we follow that “logic” the races of humans, as long as they remain isolated, are different species.

  88. IOW Dave what you call “speciation” others call variation.

  89. 89

    Since even Darwin recognized that the line between variations and species is very fuzzy and often arbitrary, so what?

  90. OK, how do yo think about fossils? If they are not fragmentary evidence in your view of UCD, what are they evidence of? Do species enter into existence with fixed traits, live as a population for millions of years, and then go extinct, without leaving behind any descendant species? If this is your view, what brings species into existence?

  91. With rare exceptions sympatric species pair and breed conspecifically, and as a result are reproductively isolated from each other.

    African tribes vs Irish again.

    The finches remain isolated even on the same island. The Africans and Irish do not remain isolated when put on the same island.

  92. Dave Wisker:

    Since even Darwin recognized that the line between variations and species is very fuzzy and often arbitrary, so what?

    It matters to the point jerry was making.

  93. Nakashima:

    OK, how do yo think about fossils?

    The vast majority of the fossil record (>95%) is of marine invertebrates- which is to be expected given what we know of the fossilization process.

    In that vast majority tghere isn’t any evidence for universal common descent.

    Why is that?

    And why isn’t that evidence against the premise?

  94. 94

    Mr Nakashima,

    The finches remain isolated even on the same island. The Africans and Irish do not remain isolated when put on the same island.

    That’s not quite true. In the case I quoted above, the three species of birds do hybridize (albeit rarely) when they come into contact, though probably less often than Africans and Irish do when they come into contact. This is to be expected when closely related populations begin to diverge: somebody living in New England and travelling to Africa would have no problem producing fertile offspring with Africans. However, should that same person attempt to produce fertile offspring with artichokes or sheep anywhere, the results would be as expected considering the time since the divergence of those lineages.

    So, getting all hot and bothered about species and varieties in early stages of divergence is a waste of time and a diversion from the issues being discussed.

  95. Nakashima:

    The Africans and Irish do not remain isolated when put on the same island.

    They could, very easily.

  96. Nakashima,

    What Dave is saying is that the separate species label (pertaining to the finch) is ambiguous and most likely made out of prejudice.

  97. 97

    No joseph, not out of prejudice but out of practicality and convebneience. Only someone blinkered by what Ernst Mayr called typological thinking would do it out of prejudice.

  98. Dave,

    As I said by that “logic” the human races are separate species.

    Heck praticality and convenience and all…

  99. 99

    joseph,

    If you wish to apply a strict and arbitrary delineation of species to human populations so that Africans and Irish can be considered separate species, feel free to do so. I, on the other hand, prefer to recognize such an arbitrary delineation for what it is: unnecessary and non-illuminating.

  100. Not my words, but a comment

    They must be getting desperate. Trying to label atheist and evolution as religions while they try to steal the label of secular. They must realise that the word religion is becoming a dirty one.

    , found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxw3wkOuCys

  101. Dave Wisker,

    The finch dilineation is unnecessary and non-illuminating. At least as unnecessary and non-illuminating as separating the human races.

    IOW why is it OK that the Grants apply a strict and arbitrary dilineation of species?

  102. 102

    jospeh,

    The finch dilineation is unnecessary and non-illuminating.

    To you. .

  103. Dave,

    The finch dilineation is the same as human race dilineation.

  104. Joseph,

    The finch dilineation is the same as human race dilineation.

    really? have you made the proper morphological measurements, looked at rates of “crossing”, viability of offspring, done the proper statistics? or are you just making stuff up again?

  105. Cornelius,

    While I also belive that the evidence does not support evolution. I am a bit confused. To me it seems that Coyne is practicing ID and calling the designer God. Is he not doing a crude probablistic analysis and ruling out design. He is ironically supporing ID method.

    Also, I prefer to call them blind. The are obviously not stupid. They believe what they say so they are not liars. No amount of light will make them see.

  106. Mr Joseph,

    The vast majority of the fossil record (>95%) is of marine invertebrates- which is to be expected given what we know of the fossilization process.

    In that vast majority tghere isn’t any evidence for universal common descent.

    OK, what do the other 5% say to you? I get the idea you don’t buy UCD, but what do you buy?

  107. David Wisker,

    I suggest you ask the Grants about species evolution in birds.

  108. khan,

    If you want to distort what I said, go ahead. What I proposed was reasonable research carried out over time. Such research is typical in the evolutionary biology field. You asked a question, I politely answered it and said that I already had answered it more than once.

  109. Khan,

    I leave the “making stuff up” to people like you.

    It is obvious your position boils down to nothing but the refusal to accept the design inference.

  110. jerry,
    when you write this:

    It would be in the genomes of a family or even higher up the taxonomic tree. All the changes between genera and species and variants would be there and all the paths that the changes could have taken would theoretically be there too

    this is how i interpret it:

    so you want a mutation-by-mutation analysis of the evolution of higher phylogenetic groups, with the function of each gene identified, the fitness changes of each mutation calculated in every generation (including all the epistatic and epigenetic effects), for multiple individuals of each sex of every species, including the 99% that went extinct along the way?

    please explain why I am wrong.

  111. Nakashima:

    OK, what do the other 5% say to you?

    That they exist.

    I get the idea you don’t buy UCD, but what do you buy?

    What can be demonstrated?:

    1- Life begets life

    2- Humans beget humans

    3- fish beget fish

    4- single-celled organisms beget single-celled organisms

    What do you have?

    As I said I bet I can take all the “evidence” for UCD and use it for universal common design.

  112. Khan,

    What do you have?

    That is besides the refusal to accept the design inference.

  113. Joseph,
    thanks for answering my question. you have no idea about whether variance in morphological traits or fertility in human races is sufficient to differentiate them as separate species. so why were you so insistent it was true? some people might call that attitude racist.

  114. Khan,

    Thanks for proving you are not following along.

    Fertility has nothing to do with it.

    And the morphological traits between races is well documented.

    My point is if one is going to call the different variations of finch “different species” then the same criteria applied evenly would mean the human races are also “different species”.

    Not applying the criteria evenly is a sign of prejudice.

    IOW Khan you stuck your nose where it didn’t belong.

  115. Joseph,

    Fertility has nothing to do with it.

    the ability to produce viable offspring is one of the fundamental characteristics of a species. so fertility in that sense is critical, although maybe that wasn’t the clearest choice of words.

    And the morphological traits between races is well documented.

    really, where?

  116. ps Joseph, the Grants have spent 30 years making careful measurements and observations on Darwin’s finches. You have spent 5 seconds making unsupported statements on human races. why should we “apply the criteria evenly?”

  117. Khan,

    Thank you for proving thta you can’t follow along.

    Interbreeding is possible amongst the finches.

    That is why I said what I did.

    As for the differences between the races- you are kidding, right?

    If there wasn’t any differences there wouldn’t be different races.

    I take it that it hurts that you can’t substantiate your claims so you have to stick your nose where it doesn’t belong and make more unsubstantiated claims.

  118. Joseph,

    Interbreeding is possible amongst the finches.

    yes, bu they do it rarely. where are your data on how frequently races, in a situation similar to the Galapagos, “interbreed”? we need those to see if they are comparable.

    As for the differences between the races- you are kidding, right?
    If there wasn’t any differences there wouldn’t be different races.

    I’m just asking for some specific data, Joseph. please show me where I can find clear data that show that variation within races is lower than that between races.

  119. Khan,

    How often they interbreed is irrelevant.

    And what do you care about data?

    Your position doesn’t have any.

    And if you dispute “race” then take it up with the FBI who use it as one of their categories.

  120. And BTW how often do African tribes interbreed with Inuits?

    IOW is that is a criteria it applies to humans as well.

  121. khan,

    I said it would take a fair amount of time but it does not require examining every possible difference or every possible mutation when one is looking for major changes and within a family, I would also suspect most of the genome is very similar within a family. If they are not, then why are they within the same family. The difference might be relatively small and if one species has a unique characteristic not present in another part of the taxonomy then it may not be hard to isolate that element or set of elements.

    Your characterization is absurd so I do not know what you expect to get from such an approach. I think I will refuse to answer any question you have in the future. It is tiresome dealing with you. You don’t want a conversation but a series of steps to show how to show someone is wrong.

    Say what you want. I gave you an approach to finding major differences within taxonomic groups. Like it or ignore it. It seems to be what many people are doing in evolutionary biology and what a biologist suggested to me several months ago. It made sense then, it makes sense now.

  122. jerry,
    OK, so you look at some genomes of representatives from two different families. you find a protein-coding gene that is unique to one family, and you find that it codes for a novel complex trait in that family. then you look for homologues in another family and don’t find them. then what?

    ps if you want to have a decent conversation, perhaps you shouldn’t insult and question the sanity and adulthood of those you want to have conversations with. just sayin’.

  123. Joseph,

    And BTW how often do African tribes interbreed with Inuits?

    find yourself a nice archipelago where they exist both in allopatry and sympatry, work there for 30 years collecting that data and you’ll have a nice little data set with which to answer that question.

  124. “if you want to have a decent conversation, perhaps you shouldn’t insult and question the sanity and adulthood of those you want to have conversations with. just sayin’”

    I have no interest in having conversations with people who I have no respect for. There have been only two or maybe three anti ID people here in the last 8 months that I have any respect for and who act like adults. For me to have respect for anyone they cannot be reflexively negative or have their objective to impugn the ID people. This is a pro ID site and people come here with attitudes that are anything but respectful of the people having a pro ID attitude. If I insult anyone it is because that person has initiated a negative or non constructive exchange with me or someone else. Some do it on their first exchange and for others it takes a little bit longer but they invariably get there. I also have no respect for anyone who does not acknowledge the ID position. They do not have to agree but have to understand why the pro ID people have their point of view. I am well aware of the pros and cons of both sides and acknowledge them. But I see few if any of the anti ID people who have a similar attitude. So as I said I have no respect for them. Most do act like children.

    Very often my comments are not meant to convince an anti ID person because that will never be acknowledged. The comments are meant to clarify my thoughts and for others reading the comments who are not so automatically negative. Just as this particular response is not necessarily meant for any particular person.

    By the way one criteria I use for someone with a reasonable attitude is if they do not criticize FSCI. If they do, they are automatically unreasonable and are immediately written off because the concept is so simple and straightforward that trying to undermine it is indicative of their underlying attitude. It is a good way to assess someone. There are several other tests one can use to evaluate someone’s honesty in a discussion.

  125. #124

    Jerry

    By the way one criteria I use for someone with a reasonable attitude is if they do not criticize FSCI.

    Did you really mean this? History is full of ideas that people took to be simple and straightforward and turned out to be wrong.

  126. Re MF:

    History is ALSO full of a very long list of ideas that are both simple and true, that people objected to strenuously because of a priori commitments to things that were false and even absurd.

    In short, the dismissal by strawmannish half truth is exposed.

    And, again, FYI, the concept of functionally specific, complex informaiton is indeed simple:

    1 –> that there is information that works in real entities [it functions] based on its substantial content,

    2 –> that such information is specifically functional, i.e moderate perturbation will destroy its functionality [think about text in English corrupted by random noise]

    3 –. tha the information is sufficiently complex through required storage capacity that it is maximally unlikely that event he whole observed universe acting as a search engine could credibly access the islands of function just described across its thermodynamically reasonable working life.

    4 –> Specifically, if we have beyond 500 – 1,000 bits of capacity in the FSCI sample, at 1,000 bits the universe’s 10^80 atoms, each acting to scan new states every 10^-43 s, and for 10625 s will not scan so much as 10^150 states. 1,000 bits is about 10^301 states, i.e ten times the square of the previous number. So the universe acting as search engine would only scan up to 1 in 10^150 or so of the configuration space, not a credible search.

    5 –> It is therefore unsurprising to see that FSCI is routinely produced by intelligence, but not observed to be created by undirected nature acting through forces of chance + mechanical necessity.

    6 –> So, on empirically well-supported inference to best explanation, FSCI is a reliable sign of intelligent action.

    7 –> This is only controversial because in some relevant cases, it raises issues that Lewontin and co (the a priori evolutionary materialists who dominate today’s science instittuions) would not wish us to consider:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [NY review of books, 1997]

    Where I come form, I long ago learned that science at its best is the unfettered (but intellectually and ethically responsible) pursuit of the truth about or world in light of empirical evidence and reasoned argument.

    Lewontinian materialism looks very delusional to me.

    As does the quite obviously closed-minded endless objection to FSCI.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: I find it astonishingly telling that Wikipedia has only a one liner article on the closed mind. let me elaborate a bit, in light of the logic of implication:

    a –> Take an abstract claim P, which entails conclusions Q: P => Q.

    b –> Now, if P is at first “reasonable” but leads to Q that is unacceptable, because of prior commitment to F, where F => NOT-Q, then one faces cognitive dissonance. [Cf Lewontinian a priori materialism above.]

    c –> if one then stipulates F, so NOT-Q; NOT-Q so NOT-P, one is so far reasoning logically.

    d –> But, if P is empirically or otherwise well supported, we see a new cognitive dissonance: F => NOT-P, but GOOD EVIDENCE, E supports P.

    e –> Closed mindedness steps in when one suppresses that evidence to retain F in the teeth of good evidence E supporting P.

    f –> As a rule, this will be further supported by “conformation bias” which seeks support for F [often including censoring out counter-evidence], not to test F against live option alternatives (such as P) on comparative difficulties.

    g –> Lewontinian a priori materialism is an obvious case in point.

  127. Googling for “Quadruped+biped, I found this:

    http://books.google.com/books?.....8;resnum=4

    Jeffrey K. McKee
    The Riddled Chain: Chance, Coincidence and Chaos in Human Evolution

    The extensive preview provided whetted my appetite; I guess I’ll have to buy it. But I wonder, how many ID’ers are interested in reading such books?

    I feel that I have to; I am afraid I don’t trust Cornelius Hunter. That is not to say that ID is wrong; it’s just that I am not certain that all arguments and/or modes of arguing used are quite up to my ideas about standards of thorough, unbiased research, quality and reliability.

    In short, I am forced to do my own research instead of relying on information provided by either IDP’s or creationists.

    The words of scientist and YEC, Kurt Wise made me wise; he is unequivocal:
    Most creation science is garbage” (quoted in an interview in Hitt 1996: http://web.archive.org/web/200.....ionism.htm).
    Wise has expounded:
    “This gets me in a lot of trouble with a lot of creationists, … the material that’s out there is—uh, I’ll hold back and be nice—garbage. It’s really atrocious” (quoted by Mayshark 1998: http://www.weeklywire.com/ww/0....._feat.html).

  128. 128

    Khan writes:


    Joseph,

    Interbreeding is possible amongst the finches.

    yes, bu they do it rarely. where are your data on how frequently races, in a situation similar to the Galapagos, “interbreed”? we need those to see if they are comparable.

    A better, more detailed description of the criteria the Grants use to determine species in the Galapagos can be found in Peter Grant’s classic book on the subject, Ecology and Evolution of Darwin’s Finches (it was at home and I didn’t have it handy yesterday):

    Agreement on the occurrence of fourteen species [13 in the Galapagos and one on Cocos Island] species should not be taken to mean the absence of of taxonomic problems. Sympatric populations that do not interbreed, or interbreed rarely, are clearly separate species. Some populations on different islands are so similar in appearance to each other that they clearly belong to the same species, and in fact most allopatric populations can be confidently grouped into species. Problems arise with moderately to strongly differentiated, allopatric populations. Would their members interbreed if given the opportunity, and hence do they belong to one, two, or more species? (p. 51).

    Grant examines the issues with one of the species of ground Geospiza difficilis, whose allopatric populations show strong morphological differentiation. He mentions that some biochemical work (protein variation) had been done to try and look at genetic differentiation, but the resolving power wasn’t very good. In addition, no hybridization studies had been done between the allopatric populations—had they interbred freely when brought together, then they would be considered the same species. So Grant says they had to rely on the traditional tool of comparative morphology. Principal character analysis on numerous morphological traits revealed that in the case of G. difficilis, we are dealing with a single species, albeit one with strongly-differentiated varieties. Grant also discusses other species in the group as well, concluding that further work might change the accepted number of 14 species.

    If we apply the Grant’s criteria to human populations, it is clear, then, that Africans and Irish do not qualify as separate species, since we know that they interbreed freely when given the opportunity.

  129. Dave Wisker,

    What is the data that demonstrates that African tribes people and Irish would interbreed freely?

  130. I have been to Africa.

    I have met African tribes.

    I have had the opportunity to interbreed.

    Yet I did not.

    That must mean we are different species.

  131. Khan,

    Thanks to modern technology the Earth is an archipelago…

  132. 132

    Joseph writes:

    What is the data that demonstrates that African tribes people and Irish would interbreed freely?

    Oh I don’t know, how about the many examples of people that are the products of Irish-African marriages?

    Some prominent examples:

    phil lynnot

    Samantha Mumba

    Ruth Negga

  133. Dave,

    Provide the data that demonstrates those Africans were tribes people.

    IOW just because they are of African descent doesn’t mean anything.

  134. IOW Dave, nice bait-n-switch…

  135. 135

    joseph,

    That African tribeswomen didn’t find you a good catch doesn’t mean much either.

  136. Joseph (130),

    “I have met African tribes.

    I have had the opportunity to interbreed.

    Yet I did not.

    That must mean we are different species.”

    Your met your mother. You had the opportunity to interbreed. Yet you did not. That must mean you are a different species to your mother.

    Nah, I don’t buy it…..

  137. Mr Joseph,

    You might want to talk with someone familiar with Jamaica, Montserrat, and other places in the Caribbean about Africans and Irish. GEM of TKI, perhaps?

  138. “Did you really mean this? History is full of ideas that people took to be simple and straightforward and turned out to be wrong.”

    Your comments are poster child’s for blind reflexive responses and are prime examples of those that can not be taken seriously.

    FSCI is such a simple idea and underlies all of biology. It is in biology the transcription and translation process and is well documented and is so essential that no biologist would ever deny it. In computer programming and language it also obviously applicable. The similarity of the processes in all three is easy to see.

    The challenge is not to impugn FSCI but to find it in other places and how it can arise through natural processes. But that is not what some choose to do here. The fact that some attempt to provide inane criticisms is an open admission that 1) it is very applicable and 2) they have no examples outside of intelligence. It is instantly revealing of their motives and attitude. It is not like tilting at windmills, it is like tilting at open air.

  139. Nakashima (136):

    I used to live in Trinidad & Tobago. Unfortunately it was during my pre-breeding years (I left when I was nine years old.)

    The demographics of the T&T “archipelago” is such that the primary populations are of African, East Indian, Chinese, and European descent. With those of African and East Indian descent being about 80% of the population.

    Interestingly… the Afro-Trinidadians and Indo-Trinidadians are (or were) far likely to interbreed with Europeans those of European descent than they are with each other. This was due to religious, social, and socio-economic reasons.

    I am sure GEM of TKI can give us a more current picture of Carribean island interbreeding.

    -DU-

  140. Dave,

    The women found me to be a good catch.

    I wasn’t interested.

  141. Nakashima,

    Keep moving the goalposts. You may get a score yet…

  142. Mr Joseph,

    With rare exceptions sympatric species pair and breed conspecifically, and as a result are reproductively isolated from each other.

    African tribes vs Irish again.

    Not my goalpost in motion.

  143. I would say the incidences of African tribes people interbreeding with the Irish and/or Inuits meets the criteria of “rare exceptions” pertaining to the finches.

  144. Mr Joseph,

    I don’t think you can document any significant difficulty of Africans and Irish breeding together.

  145. jerry:

    By the way one criteria I use for someone with a reasonable attitude is if they do not criticize FSCI. If they do, they are automatically unreasonable and are immediately written off because the concept is so simple and straightforward that trying to undermine it is indicative of their underlying attitude.

    I know how you feel. My personal deal-breaker is criticism of STAN (Stuff That Appears Natural). STAN is so simple that a 5 year-old can understand it. By massive empirical evidence, only nature produces STAN, so we’re justified in inferring that the STAN in biological structures was produced by nature.

    Some opponents call for more detail in the definition of STAN, but they’re just splitting hairs. Some doubt that STAN is an objective measure that yields similar results when it’s applied independently by different people, but that’s just selective hyperskepticism. Some point out that no studies involving STAN have ever been conducted, so no actual data is available, but why should we study and publish something that’s so obvious?

    When somebody objects to STAN, it’s a clear indication that they’re a desperate and irrational nature hater.

  146. Nakashima,

    There isn’t any documented difficulty with finch interbreeding.

    Finch “choosiness”, yes. Interbreeding difficulty, no.

    And then we have the different variations of dogs. Some would have great difficulty interbreeding.

  147. “Stuff That Appears Natural” is too vague to be of any use.

    Anything and everything that exists in nature is, by definition, natural.

    In that sense cars are all natural.

    But here is a concept a 5 year old can understand:

    Natural processes only exist in nature and therefor cannot be responsible for its origins.

    What the debate is about R0b, is what can nature, operating freely produce?

    IOW where is the “Stuff That Appears To Be Produced By Nature, Operating Freely”?

    STAPNOF, not STAN.

    Your STAN is a red herring.

  148. Joseph,
    I have an old passport with an entry stamp from Montserrat in it – it is in the shape of a shamrock, reflecting the Irish heritage of that country with a largely African descended population.
    Also, re Innuit/African compatibility I suggest you check with the Aboriginal Tourism of British Columbia people.

  149. hi Folks:

    FOUND my car part, looks like: order from St Lucia . . . [Talk about irreducible complexity and islands of function . . . ]

    As to Irish-African mixes, yup they are real as I exemplify (though I am actually J’can). Lonely Irish and Scottish estate overseers are ancestral to a LOT of us from J’ca. In my case, I have both as well as Indian [from India] in my pool of ancestors.

    My wife is Irish-African, M’rat; with onward links through St Kitts and Barbados.

    And indeed the Shamrock is a symbol of M’rat and is stamped on passports here.

    But, over on the Galapagos islands, there were enough bird pairs across species lines that the species label looks very arbitrary to me. Indeed, I recall one inter-species coupling was noted to be among the most successful in terms of numbers of descendants across the time of observation.

    GEM of TKI

  150. To sum up”

    1- We have an arbitrary use of the word “species” pertaining to the varieties of finch

    and

    2) Not one anti-IDists can provide positive evidence for their position- not even a testable hypothesis

  151. Onlookers, we see that the anti-naturists have not been able meet the STAN challenge — that is, they can’t show us a designed artifact that exhibits STAN. Sure, they try, but in every case I come up with an ad hoc way to disqualify their example. The STAN-based nature inference is unfalsifiable, which means that it’s true.

    As I’ve mentioned about a hundred times, card-carrying IDEA club member Neil Town has said: “We must stop nature from getting a foot in the door.” And that is exactly what the anti-naturists are trying to do with their straw hominems soaked in herring oil.

  152. PS – kf, you know that I love you, but some things must be parodied.

    PPS – Fun fact for onlookers: Did you know that the FSCI in ocean tidal data is created by the person who records that data?

  153. 153

    The amount of information required for any specific design would be extremely difficult to quantify. The factors involved are mind-boggling.
    Is that, in and of itself, an adequate reason to deny the existence of such information altogether?
    How is the inference affected if the measure of information is off by a few bits, or even a lot?
    Rivers don’t come from tears. Do you believe me, or do I have to measure the fluid in tears and in rivers down to the milliliter?

  154. Scott, thank you for defending STAN. As you say, the inference to nature is unaffected if the measurement is off, even by a large margin.

    But one correction — STAN is not “extremely difficult to quantify”. Like FSCI, it’s so easy that a child could do it.

  155. 155

    R0B,

    I’m happy to amuse you.
    It must take a great deal of deliberate effort to ignore evidence and reason, declare the obvious invalid for non-scientific reasons, and declare the mathematically impossible inevitable simply because you’ve elected to rule out anything else. And still you have the strength left to mock people who don’t join you in admiring the emperor’s imaginary clothes.

  156. Scott, obviously I deny everything that you accuse me of doing. In particular, I don’t mock people for disagreeing with me, if that’s what you were implying. And I don’t know what imaginary clothes I supposedly admire.

  157. Rob:

    I observe:

    My personal deal-breaker is criticism of STAN (Stuff That Appears Natural). STAN is so simple that a 5 year-old can understand it. By massive empirical evidence, only nature produces STAN, so we’re justified in inferring that the STAN in biological structures was produced by nature.

    1–> Basic problem: art imitating nature is common enough that we know on considerable observational evidence that what appears natural may be designed.

    2 –> Now, the explanatory filter used in design thought willingly accepts this possibility of ruling “nature” when it is “art,” in exchange for so setting a criterion that it is most unlikely to falsely rule “design.”

    3 –> By sharp contrast, we are able to observe a great many cases of FSCI — millions in fact — and in every case where we do directly know the origin story, FSCI is produced by design, not nature acting freely through chance and undirected mechanical necessity. (Onlookers, you can see for yourselves that objectors are unable to provide counter examples, which is why we see all sorts of “creative” objections such as the above parody.)

    4 –> In addition, because of the nature of the sort of functional specification and the degree of information content involved in FSCI, we can see that the whole universe we observe acting as a search engine cannot scan any significant fraction of the possible states: 1,000 bits can cover 10^301 states, which is about ten times the square of a generous estimate for the number of states the observed universe’s 10^80 atoms can access at 1 state every 10^-43 seconds for 10^25 seconds.

    5 –> That is, random walk based, undirected searches are not credibly able to access islands of function in the sea of possible configurations. (And that the functionality in view is vulnerable to modest perturbation is another way of saying that he functionality is in islands in a wider sea of non-functional configurations.)

    6 –> Boiled down: inference from FSCI to design is a known RELIABLE induction.

    7 –> But because the idea that cell based life — with digital codes, step by step algorithms expressed as programs and sophisticated nanomachinery workign to carry out the functions of life — might just be designed is uterly unacceptable to committed evoltuionary materilaists.

    8 –> So, they are in denial, and that denial exprtesses itself in behaviour that looks suspiciously like the fallacy of the closed mind supported by arrogation of the prestige of science and abuse of dissenters in the halls of science and education etc; i.e Plato’s Cave style delusions.

    9 –> In that context, Rob’s little parody does not look so funny after all. Especially on the part of a reasonably well-informed commenter.

    10 –> Indeed, it looks uncommonly like a turnabout rhetorical stratagem, based on a red herring distractor led out to a strawman caricature soaked in oily ad hominems . . .

    GEM of TKI

  158. Using my intuition, I know that STAN is an example of Functionally Appearing Natural Temporally Applied Specified Complex Information. Provisionally, of course.

  159. kf, you win. My parody is a weak imitation.

    Nakashima, according to the principles of right reason, FANTASCI is greater than STAN, since the former contains the letters of the latter. I bow to your superior acronym.

  160. Dr Hunter:

    There are a couple of current threads going on about the validity of intuition;
    If these same religious arguments were reworded as: “a designer would not do this, because it’s counter-intuitive” (ie: not making the designer G-d, per se), is the argument still religious? If so, then is there any valid way to use intuition against the design argument?

  161. 6 –> Boiled down: inference from FSCI to design is a known RELIABLE induction.

    May I ask how reliable? 5%, 10%, 99%, 99,99…9%, 100%? How is the reliability determined?

    Do what degree can we trust it if reliability is less than 100%?

    Can we assume a reliability of 100%, making it a proven fact?

    I may have overlooked it, but I have not yet seen how FSCI is calculated?

    Wouldn’t we need a reliable calculation of FSCI before assuming that the design inference is RELIABLE?

    I am just a layman, and I find it frustrating that ID looks so much more difficult to understand than evolution. How can we convince the public that ID is true if it cannot be explained in simple but reliable terms?

    I wonder if it might be a better approach to concentrate the effort on tangible facts instead of abstract and/or mathematical speculations?

  162. Cabal:

    First, if you checked the weak arguments correctives above, no 28 (on FSCI) [cf as well no 27 just above it on CSI and FSC], you would see that CSI and FSCI as a subset have clearly defined metrics. [And, there are more details here as has been discussed in a parallel thread.]

    On illustrating the reliability fo FSCI being produced by intelligence in known cases, simply observe cases of ASCII text in contextually responsive English, of more than 143 characters on the Internet.

    How many of these cases are produced by other than intelligent sources?

    (Indeed, FSCI is ROUTINELY produced by intelligence, as we can see from the whole IT industry. And, as the absence of counter examples for literally years can show, there are no known cases where FSCI has come from nature acting freely and undirected through forces of chance and mechanical necessity. And, on search resources grounds, we see why that is likely to be so — the search resources of rthe whole cosmos cannot credibly access any significant fraction of the space of configurations for 1,000 bits across its lifespan. In short, we have a strong base for an induction: FSCI is a reliable sign of intelligence.)

    More broadly, ID is not in itself hard to understand — things that seem to be designed, and show reliable signs of design are best understood as designed unless compelling EVIDENCE shows otherwise — but when there is a dominant view imposed by power centres in a culture, that which exposes its flaws and cuts across its confident assertions can seem hard to understand or confusing, especially when there is a concerted attempt to polarise and cloud the atmosphere.

    To see an example, consider how heliocentrism seemed ever so difficult 400 or so years ago, but is so “easy” and “obvious” to us now.

    (Actually, heliocentrism is harder to understand and warrant in the face of clever objections than is the design inference. (All that stuff about Brahe’s observations on loops in Mars’ apparent path through the sky.) That’s why Galileo’s telescopic discovery of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter was so important; and it is why objectors then spent a lot of time and effort trying to discredit the telescope as a reliable instrument. Never mind that similar telescopes by that time were routinely in use in identifying ships sailing into harbour etc; real or imaginary flaws were trotted out as talking points to dismiss what the telescopes were telling observers about the heavens.)

    For, dominant delusions in a culture are propped up by power backed rhetoric designed to dismiss or confuse inconvenient evidence.

    Happened before, Will happen again.

    Is happening now.

    GEM of TKI

  163. PS: Maybe you need to take your own advice, from another thread:

    I don’t know about you, but I sometimes think I see some misunderstanding of what evolutionary [DESIGN] theory really says. There’s always the risk of interference from bias. [comment 98, counterintuitiveness thread]

  164. A footnote:

    I leave it to the common sense of onlookers to see how substantial remarks are consistently being met with satirical mockery rather than the simple provision of an empirical counter-example.

    If FSCI is so poor a sign of design that it can be brushed aside, it should be quite easy to come up with 143 characters in ASCII constituting contextually responsive English. [Or, is the absence of such a case of Sherlock Holmes' dog that did not bark when it should have; given the lucky noise issue discussed here?]

    GEM of TKI

  165. onlookers, we see that STAN is a red herring which posted by someone who is totally clueless.

    So how about you anti-IDists-

    Can you provide a testable hypothesis for your position or not?

    Your silence on this question proves you can’t so why keep pretending that your position is scientific?

  166. KF,

    First, if you checked the weak arguments correctives above, no 28 (on FSCI) [cf as well no 27 just above it on CSI and FSC], you would see that CSI and FSCI as a subset have clearly defined metrics. [And, there are more details here as has been discussed in a parallel thread.]

    Obviously it is annoying when evos repeatedly ask for calculations of CSI, FCSI, FSCI, or STI without reading the FAQ. I guess they’re unaware that these sorts of calculations have already been done for biological systems.

    Nevertheless, maybe it would be wise for us to go the extra mile and post a complete, self-contained example of an FCSI calculation for some “real” example from biology (say the bacterial flagellum) that a reasonably bright undergraduate could understand. We should also include a rigorous justification for the standard 500-1000 bit design threshold.

    Again, I think it’s critical that this document 1) should refer to real biology, not drawing cards from a deck or whatever, and 2) it should be as self-contained as possible, so that anyone with good knowledge of calculus and probability can read it from start to finish without having to consult a bunch of references (which would probably be aimed at a postgraduate audience anyway).

  167. kairosfocus:

    (Onlookers, you can see for yourselves that objectors are unable to provide counter examples, which is why we see all sorts of “creative” objections such as the above parody.)

    What you mean is that we haven’t been able to provide counterexamples that meet your approval. Here’s how the approval process works:

    First hurdle: Is it really FSCI?

    Unfortunately, this hurdle can be raised or lowered at will. We could spend weeks discussing the ambiguities in your C, S, and B criteria.

    If a measure is unambiguous, then people will independently come up with similar numbers when applying the measure to the same phenomenon. But I see no evidence of such independent agreement for FSCI, even among ID proponents.

    Second hurdle: Does the FSCI have a non-human source?

    Your approaches to this seem quite ad hoc. If there is a human somewhere among the causal antecedents, you attribute the FSCI to that human. If there’s no human involvement in the causes, you bizarrely attribute the FSCI to the humans that observe and record the phenomenon (unless, of course, the phenomenon is a biological structure).

    Your FSCI claims are unfalsifiable. No matter how loudly the dog barks, you can always say that he isn’t really barking.

  168. kairosfocus:

    If FSCI is so poor a sign of design that it can be brushed aside, it should be quite easy to come up with 143 characters in ASCII constituting contextually responsive English.

    This is, of course, a non sequitur. From the premise that FSCI is a poor sign of design, it does not follow that it should be easy to find a particular kind of FSCI in nature.

    At any rate, we can point to computer programs that produce “contextually responsive English”, but you’ll either claim that the output was created by the programmer, or you’ll say that the it isn’t good enough. If you set the bar at the level of the Turing Test, then it’s true that no computer to date can pass it.

    But what does that tell us about biological origins? There’s no evidence that whatever created the earthly biota has natural language abilities, nor is there evidence of anything with natural language abilities that can create biota. So the one ability seems a poor indicator of the other.

  169. 169

    it does not follow that it should be easy to find a particular kind of FSCI in nature.

    Finding any kind of FCSI in nature would solve nothing (as it has already solved nothing.) It would leave use exactly where we are now, debating whether it occurred naturally or by design.
    What’s missing is an observation that FCSI can be exist through unintelligent, natural causes. If that were to occur and survive exhaustive scrutiny, we would then know of a natural cause of FCSI.

  170. You’re right, Scott. I should have said “a particular kind of FSCI produced by nature” or “produced by something unintelligent“.

    What’s missing is an observation that FCSI can be exist through unintelligent, natural causes. If that were to occur and survive exhaustive scrutiny, we would then know of a natural cause of FCSI.

    That is indeed missing. No FSCI-related claims from either side have undergone enough scrutiny to inspire any confidence. That’s why some of us have a hard time taking it seriously.

  171. R0b,

    You can’t even provide a testable hypothesis for your position.

    That is why the vast majority of people have a hard time taking it seriously.

    Why is it that the only “positive” evidence for your position is just the refusal to allow the design inference?

    And btw if you do find that nature, operating freely can produce CSI then you would also be falsifying ID.

    Yes that is correct you can falsify ID by merely substantiating the claims of your position.

    So now the question is why don’t you do so?

  172. A few footnotes:

    1] Herb, 166: maybe it would be wise for us to go the extra mile and post a complete, self-contained example of an FCSI calculation for some “real” example from biology . . .

    Sadly, that would simply end in endless distractive objections.

    How do I know that?

    BECAUSE IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED — the concept of FSCI started in 1973, with the issue of the observed and obvious distinction between biological organised complexity and order like a crystal or randomness like a tar:

    [L]iving organisms [-- thus, observed biofunction --] are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple, well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures which are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity.” [[Leslie E. Orgel, The Origins of Life: Molecules and Natural Selection, pg. 189 (Chapman & Hall, 1973).]

    Now, it so happens that functionally specified organised complexity is a commonplace of engineered systems and of software. [That is why I keep on pointing to the 143+ character ASCII text in contextually responsive English example.]

    2] the simple FSCI metric

    What I did at first level is to give a rule of thumb threshold and metric, to illustrate the principles behind Durston et al’s FSC and Dembski’s CSI metrics “for the rest of us.”

    a –> Is it contingent (so capable of storing alternative configurations)

    b –> I sit functionally specific? [e.g. disturbing the working config sufficiently by injecting random white noise will derange function.]

    c –> Is it sufficiently complex that the number of possible configs will swamp the search resources of the observable cosmos? [At 1,000 bits we have ten times the square of the ~ 10^150 of Planck-time states that the 10^80 or so atoms of our observed universe would take up in 10^25 seconds, or ~3 *10^17 years. We usually date the observed cosmos at ~ 13.7 * 10^9 y.]

    d –> We have in hand many millions of cases of FSCI, and for every one where we know directly the origin story, it is produced by intelligence.

    e –> thus we have a strong induction.

    So if something embeds an information storage system that is functionally vulnerable to perturbation and stores at least 1,000 bits [actually 500 would really be good enough!] we can be practically assured it is an intelligent artifact; unless some one can show a case of such functionality and complexity coming about by chance processes and blind mechanical forces.

    The ducking and dodging you see above is because they are unable to do that.

    3] say the bacterial flagellum . . .

    I’ll double you on this.

    Simplest observed life that is not parasitic on other life can by knockout studies go down to about 300,000 DNA base pairs. Below that, we are told, auto-destruction happens. And recall, living cells are von Neumann replicators: blueprint storage, reader, implementer to self-replicate, defining an irreducibly complex set that implies islands of complex function

    Now, DNA — the blueprint storage element — is contingent, and functionally specific; indeed life forms have repair mechanisms for DNA. Observed life is well beyond the 1,000 bit threshold: 300 k bases is 600 k bits, or a config space of ~ 9.94*10^180,617. this swamps the search resources of the observed cosmos.

    Now, the flagellum has maybe 30 proteins and has multiple functionality, e.g. it self assembles and sets up an acid ion powered outboard motor, with an associated control system so the bacterium can use it to go where it “wants.”

    A typical protein uses 300 20-state elements, each coded for by 3 DNA bases.

    So, we are looking at 30 x 300 x 3 = 27,000 bases on a raw estimate. 4^ 27,000 ~ 4.17 *10^16,255. We may argue redundancies and mods to proteins all we will and this is not going to go below 1,000 bits worth of storage. And no probability or calculus required.

    Now, I believe such rough and ready calculations will be enough for the ordinary and unprejudiced mind, but the point is that, often, we are precisely not dealing with such.

    As to a more sophisticated version, the Weak Argument Corrective no 27 links to the Durston and the Dembski papers and calculations.

    4] this document 1) should refer to real biology, not drawing cards from a deck or whatever

    The drawing cards from a deck case was actually raised by commonly encountered ID objector Mark Frank over at his blog, and I provided the answer there — he did not expect that. in addition, it is general purpose as Dembski’s CSI metric is general.

    Duerston has published a table of 35 values of fuctional sequence complexity across various protein families int eh peer reviewed lite3rature. ter eis a zero concessions policy on such inconvenient facts for too many ID objectors.

    [ . . . ]

  173. 5] Rob, 167: What you mean is that we haven’t been able to provide counterexamples that meet your approval.

    False, strawmannish and demonising; to the point where an apology should be in order.

    In fact I have given a challenge on FOUR specific test cases, over the years, which can be re-presented as folows:

    a –> Provide a case where an avalanche of rocks or equivalent produces a text message similar to “Welcome to Wales” at of course the border of Wales.

    b –> produce a computer screenful of bits produces a screenful of text, say a passage from Shakespeare — FSCI by chance and necessity — lucky noise. [An update to the Million Monkeys banging away on typewriters]

    c –> Using Zener noise sources to spew definitively random noise across disks produce a text string of 143 characters spelling out a good sentence in English.

    d –> We have an Internet full of ASCII text strings known to be produced by intelligences. Provide a clear case of one 143 character text string in English produced by chance + necessity.

    None of these or any comparable challenge has been met, and the reason why not is obvious.

    6] We could spend weeks discussing the ambiguities in your C, S, and B criteria.

    Language of course is inherently ambiguous. It is context of usage that determines meaning objectively. And, all along there have been abundant examples and contexts that should make FSCI plain to all but the willfully obtuse.

    But if one is sufficiently determined to object to what is otherwise plain, no ends of zany misinterpretations and twistings can be manufactured.

    7] If there is a human somewhere among the causal antecedents, you attribute the FSCI to that human. If there’s no human involvement in the causes, you bizarrely attribute the FSCI to the humans that observe and record the phenomenon

    This is of course a complete twisting of recent exchanges in the eye on materialism thread etc.

    In short at this point i am reading this as a red herring dragged out to a strawman soaked in ad hominems and ignited to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere.

    For shame!

    8] we can point to computer programs that produce “contextually responsive English”, but you’ll either claim that the output was created by the programmer, or you’ll say that the it isn’t good enough. If you set the bar at the level of the Turing Test, then it’s true that no computer to date can pass it.

    You KNOW that the programs in question generate the text by being so programmed.

    in short you are seekig to dismiss the fact.

    We do not get to such programs by spewing Zener diode noise across disks, and testing for function then rewarding incremental success until voila we have a text responding program that spews out contextually responsive English text (never mind so good a response that blind tests w3ill be unable to distinguish man and machine.).

    instead we use domain experts and programmers to DESIGN such systems.

    As well you know.

    Double shame!

    Man, do betta dan dat, nuh!

    ___________

    This one is ever so sad . . .

    GEM of TKI

  174. KF at 172:

    1] Herb, 166: maybe it would be wise for us to go the extra mile and post a complete, self-contained example of an FCSI calculation for some “real” example from biology . . .

    Sadly, that would simply end in endless distractive objections.

    I am struggling to understand how a demonstrative calculation of the very thing that is being discussed (FCSI in a biological entity) is more distractive than the charge that it is a made-up metric that no one can actually calculate.

  175. KF,

    Now, the flagellum has maybe 30 proteins and has multiple functionality, e.g. it self assembles and sets up an acid ion powered outboard motor, with an associated control system so the bacterium can use it to go where it “wants.”

    A typical protein uses 300 20-state elements, each coded for by 3 DNA bases.

    So, we are looking at 30 x 300 x 3 = 27,000 bases on a raw estimate. 4^ 27,000 ~ 4.17 *10^16,255. We may argue redundancies and mods to proteins all we will and this is not going to go below 1,000 bits worth of storage. And no probability or calculus required.

    I agree that the evos will probably raise all sorts of objections in order to derail the conversation, but this basic information is valuable to IDers such as myself who don’t have much training in biology or genetics. I have to admit that in some of these threads I feel as if I’ve accidentally stumbled into a graduate seminar!

    Now let me try out your numbers. Because the concept of FSCI has been discussed here quite a bit recently, and also because the definition is relatively simple, I’ll stick with that. Our config space has size 4^27,000, and in order to compute the functional information using Hazen’s definition, we would need to know the fraction of those 4^27,000 configurations which would yield functionality at some specified level—say the level achieved by the E. coli flagellum.

    I personally have no idea how to estimate this fraction, but let me make the completely unrealistic assumption that only 1 out of the 4^27,000 configurations satisfies the condition, just to give us a starting point. Maybe someone else can help in revising this estimate. The functional information in these flagella would therefore be -log_2(4^-27,000) = 54,000 bits, well above the 500–1000 bit threshold.

  176. PS to #175: My assumption above that only 1 of the 4^27,000 configurations functions as well as the E. coli flagellum is most likely far too low, obviously. But I don’t see how the Darwinists are going to be able to escape the conclusion of design here. Let’s be generous and say 1000 bits (rather than 500) of functional information is the design threshold. To get below this threshold, the evolutionists are going to have to explain how more than 2^53,000 of the original 4^27,000 configurations result in flagella which function at least at the level of those in E. coli. Whoah.

  177. Following up:

    1] Specs, 174: I am struggling to understand how a demonstrative calculation of the very thing that is being discussed (FCSI in a biological entity) is more distractive than the charge that it is a made-up metric that no one can actually calculate.

    The issue is not that to calculate FSCI is distractive — note the strawman — but that precisely because it makes a telling point, strident rhetoric will be marshalled to distract from the point.

    The standard tactic is red herrings led away to strawman distortions soaked in oily ad hominems and ignited to cloud, confuse, polarise and poison the atmosphere.

    Or, the level of flak and such like goes right up as the bomber approaches the Ruhr; precisely because it is the critical target zone; thus, duly ringed with huge phalanxes of 88′s, searchlights etc.

    Or, reverting to the terms of indoctrination: where a system is vulnerable to criticism is where those indoctrinated in it are trained to be the harshest in its “defence.” But, once we can break out os where such programming has anticipated and posed the standard rebuttal, and/or expose the rebuttal in a way that forces real thinking, programming tends to break down. That’s why there is so strong a pattern of distraction, distortion, demonisation and dismissal, never mind the implications of breakdown of civility for key institutions and for the culture as a whole. (On which I am distinctly pessimistic.)

    2] herb: in order to compute the functional information using Hazen’s definition, we would need to know the fraction of those 4^27,000 configurations which would yield functionality at some specified level

    Durston’s metric uses in effect a survey of the observed variability as an indicator. Cf his peer reviewed paper, here, and published table of 35 values here. (I cite the fact that the paper is yet another peer reviewed document to underscore yet another slander against design theory’s want of factual foundation. That one appears prominently in the infamous Judge jones ruling of 2005.)

    In the simple FSCI approach, we need do no such elaborate thing: [1] once we see the scope of the search space, and [2] that the functionality is vulnerable to modest perturbations, we simply brig to bear [3] a scope of search on which the resources of the observed cosmos are hopelessly inadequate to scan any significant fraction of the space of configs. Large islands and even archipelagos can be lurking there, but we are not going to sample enough to have any confidence of hitting a desired shoreline of functionality. (And that is why the latest distractive tactic is to try to extend the shoreline of function into the sea of non-function, creating an imaginary continuous “fitness landscape.” Int he caser of life, for first life we need to complete an irreducible set: a coded blueprint, a corresponding reader and an implementer that step by step caries out the function of self replication. Absent any of these or derangement that breaks mutual integration, and the entity will not work. And, to get to novel major body plans, the changes have to be early in the embryological stages and have to integrate with the function of the organism, while requiring on evidence of novel structures and observed DNA sets, ~ 10′s – 100′s of mega bits of novel information, dozens of times over. Again, well into the range of infeasible undirected search.)

    (To underscore, a search of 10^150 states in a space of 10^301 is less than the odds of marking a single atom int he whole cosmos for just one moment [10^-43 s] and then having a time and space travelling spaceship run around at random across all space and time and grab a single atom at random, and voila, it is the right atom at just the right moment.

    (NB: There is no need to infer to a single unique functional state, to see that undirected search on forces of chance + blind mechanical necessity is not a plausible mechanism to find such instances of FSCI.)

    GEM of TKI

  178. PS: But, herb, your evolutionists’ “need” to account for functionality on the order of islands and archipelagos accounting for ~ 3.89 *10^15,954 states is another way of looking at the same practical infeasibility.

  179. PPS: the Ruhr

  180. PPPS: fighting for happy valley.

    Excerpt: The German defence was through anti-aircraft weapons and day and night fighters. The Kammhuber Line used radar to identify the bomber raids and then controllers directed night fighters onto the raiders. During the battle of the Ruhr, Bomber Command estimated about 70% of their aircraft losses were due to fighters.[10]. By July 1943, the German night fighter force totalled 550.[3] Through the summer of 1943, the Germans increased the ground-based anti-aircraft defences in the Ruhr Area ; by July 1943 there were more than 1,000 large flak guns (88 mm calibre or greater) and 1,500 lighter guns (chiefly 20 mm and 37 mm calibre).[5] This was about one-third of all anti-aircraft guns in Germany. [3] Six-hundred thousand personnel were required to man the AA defences of Germany.[3] The British crews called the area scarcastically “Happy Valley”[11] or the “valley of no Return”.

    ______________

  181. kairosfocus:

    False, strawmannish and demonising; to the point where an apology should be in order.

    I’m sorry that you took offense, kairosfocus, but you seem to read through martyr-colored glasses. We presented several counterexamples, and you rejected all of them for various reasons. Where are the falsehoods, strawmen, and demonizing?

    a –> Provide a case where an avalanche of rocks or equivalent produces a text message similar to “Welcome to Wales” at of course the border of Wales.

    Personally, if I witnessed such an avalanche, I would attribute it either to God or to a very clever human illusionist. Perhaps someone dug trenches on the hillside in the form of English text to trap some of the falling rocks. Perhaps somebody performed the trick in a way that I can’t think of.

    So a case that you would accept as a FSCI from unintelligent causes, I would reject as such. To each his own.

    b –> produce a computer screenful of bits produces a screenful of text, say a passage from Shakespeare — FSCI by chance and necessity — lucky noise. [An update to the Million Monkeys banging away on typewriters]

    It’s interesting that you refer to “chance and necessity”, but then give examples of avalanches, noise, and Zener noise. You realize, I assume, that not all chance+necessity processes are statistically random.

    We all know that English text, and biological structures for that matter, aren’t produced by statistically random processes. Yet CSI and FSCI examples are virtually always based on a hypothesis of pure noise. (By calculating C*S*B in terms of the size of the config space or required storage space, you’re implicitly assuming a pure noise or random walk hypothesis.)

    Sure, Dembski gives lip service to non-uniform hypotheses in his CSI approach, but he doesn’t take any into account in his examples. And in his active info work he explicitly rejects any ultimate natural causes other than uniform noise.

    So if FSCI succeeds in ruling out only what has already been ruled out, namely lucky noise, then how is it helpful?

    None of these or any comparable challenge has been met, and the reason why not is obvious.

    Yes, it is obvious. It’s because avalanches don’t result in English text, Zener noise doesn’t produce Shakespeare, and the question of which phenomena fall under the “chance and necessity” category depends on one’s definitions and philosophical and religious assumptions.

    Language of course is inherently ambiguous. It is context of usage that determines meaning objectively. And, all along there have been abundant examples and contexts that should make FSCI plain to all but the willfully obtuse.

    It would be nice if we didn’t have to try to fill in the definitional details ourselves based on context and examples. Some of us are non-willfully obtuse and might get it wrong. Let’s look just at the terms functional and contingent.

    Is the meaning of functional environment-dependent? Should only one environment be considered? If A causes B, and B is functional, is A also functional? (Note that Dembski claims this to be the case for specificity, or else CSI would not be conserved.)

    How about contingent? Is a blotch from a spilled ink bottle contingent? How about the locations of fragments from an exploded bomb? How about the output of a pseudo-random number generator? Does contingency reflect a given observer’s lack of prior knowledge, or ultimate non-determinacy? If everything is ultimately deterministic, as it could be under Bohmian mechanics, then is there no such thing as contingency?

    This is of course a complete twisting of recent exchanges in the eye on materialism thread etc.

    How so? You attribute the FSCI in novel solutions generated by GAs to the human programmers of the GAs. You attribute the FSCI in ocean tides to those who record and analyze tidal data. You have offered no general method for determining the source of FSCI, but you always give the credit to humans.

    You KNOW that the programs in question generate the text by being so programmed.

    Certainly, but does designing the program equate to designing its output? If a programmer expresses the domain, structure, and objective function of a problem in code, is he designing a solution? If a natural language program utters a sentence that has never entered the head of the programmer, is it the programmer speaking? If so, then why doesn’t the FSCI in human-designed solutions and prose not get attributed to the cause(s) of humans? Is it because of a philosophical assumption that humans’ decisions, unlike computers’, are contra-causal?

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