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Engineer says, the atom has a designer. Trolls disagree.

The Physics of Reality: Ramblings of a Grieving Engineer In “Does the atom have a designer? When science and spirituality meet” ( Ann Arbor News, May 24, 2012), engineer Lakhi Goenka, grieving the death of his son, reflects,

Atoms are machines that enable the physical, electromagnetic (including light), nuclear, chemical, and biological (including life) functioning of the universe. Atoms are a complex assembly of interacting particles that enable the entire functioning of the universe. They are the machine that enables all other machines. It is virtually impossible to explain the structure, complexity, internal dynamics, and resulting functionality of the atom from chance events or through evolutionary mechanisms. The atom is a machine that provides multiple functions, and every machine is the product of intelligence. The atom must have a designer.

Trolls respond here. Usual nonsense.

See also The strongest argument against design

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251 Responses to Engineer says, the atom has a designer. Trolls disagree.

  1. You gotta admit the “gosh it’s all very complicated and hard to understand how it came about, it must have been designed” is NOT a scientific argument. And, where do you go from there? Once you’ve decided atoms are designed then what? I mean apart from what particle physics is already doing.

    Aside from the fact that I’m not sure the analogy really works. Atoms are more like building blocks than machines. They don’t really process input or do work. They can absorb energy and then emit it but so can a rock. they can be split into smaller pieces like a rock. They can form molecules/structures following certain laws/parameters. Are they machines??

  2. 2

    Uh-oh, you’ve proved atoms couldn’t come about through biological evolution. You’ve really got us now…

  3. The great scientist Max Planck said the following during his Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

    “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this minute solar system of the atom together . . . . We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind.”

    OTOH people like Nick and Jerad have absolutely no idea how atoms could have “just formed”…

  4. “Uh-oh, you’ve proved atoms couldn’t come about through biological evolution. You’ve really got us now…”

    If only it were a joke, Nicholas. Do you always try to gloss over your incomprehension of the insights of, arguably, the greatest paradigm-changers in the history of science?

    Just have a stab at it, eh? How could atoms have “just formed”. This time without the verbal ‘smiley’.

  5. “Uh-oh, you’ve proved atoms couldn’t come about through biological evolution. You’ve really got us now…”

    If only it were a joke, Nicholas. Do you always try to gloss over your incomprehension of the insights of, arguably, the greatest paradigm-changers in the history of science?

    Just have a stab at it, eh? How could atoms have “just formed”. This time without the verbal ‘smiley’.

    What a sorry shower!

  6. O foolishness, they name is Jerad! Truly Jerad, you must be one of the most hapless souls on the planet, if you hadn’t noticed that every functional thing in the room you are sitting in was designed! It’s called evidence. In a court of law, not even “utterly, utterly compelling evidence”, but “BINDING EVIDENCE”.

    And as if that were not enough, you and your equally hapless fellow-believers seek to challenge ID with the notion that ultimately the universe is utterly unintelligible, other than as a product of random chance!

    However, nothing produces nothing. Even random chance has to relate to something to have ANY kind of meaning. And the very word, ‘random’ implies ‘unintelligent’, ‘unpurposeful’, ‘undesigned’, so how does such infinite stupidity arrive at the construction of a universe of such staggering subtlety, complexity and outright imponderable mystery qua paradoxes? Paradoxes, by the way are, by definition, insoluble by, indeed repugnant to, logic.

    At least IDers understand the limitations of our analytical intelligence, and YOU people have the gall to incorporate the great paradoxical insights made by the great paradigm-changing IDers, such as Planck, Bohr, Einstein and Godel, yet deny that their insights are imponderable paradoxes; but, rather, the great god, REASON, will one day (my son) be able to explain it all. You and your present-day gurus are myrmidons, hewers of wood and drawers of water, in comparison with the great paradigm-changers.

    All you can do, when challenged is scoff. What great insights have you provided? String theory? Multiverses? Abiogensis? You have no trouble believing the impossible, it’s the improbable you can’t countenance.

    Are these extraordinary random chances supposed to be what SUSTAINS the universe as well? What about before time began? Was randomm chance the Creator of the Big Bang? Do you know the nature of the Singularity that originated the Big Bang? The reference frame proper to photons is clearly not space-time, so how is that you presume to espouse materialism as your metaphysical, when we know so little about the universe and its matrix?

  7. Joe,

    OTOH people like Nick and Jerad have absolutely no idea how atoms could have “just formed”…

    I assume they came about because of some underlying principles that define the way the universe works. And, to be fair, you don’t really know how they formed either. You postulate a creator/designer for which there is no independent physical evidence and who would have to be much more complex and complicated than the issue you’re evoking ‘him’ to solve.

    Axel,

    Truly Jerad, you must be one of the most hapless souls on the planet, if you hadn’t noticed that every functional thing in the room you are sitting in was designed! It’s called evidence. In a court of law, not even “utterly, utterly compelling evidence”, but “BINDING EVIDENCE”</blockquote.

    All the inanimate objects, absolutely. Things can can not replicate with modification on their own.

    And as if that were not enough, you and your equally hapless fellow-believers seek to challenge ID with the notion that ultimately the universe is utterly unintelligible, other than as a product of random chance!

    Not at all. There are laws of physics and chemistry which dictate how matter and energy act and react. And more laws to be discovered. I believe the universe is able to be understood which means much of it can be defined and codified. But I don’t mind admitting temporary ignorance in some areas.

    However, nothing produces nothing. Even random chance has to relate to something to have ANY kind of meaning. And the very word, ‘random’ implies ‘unintelligent’, ‘unpurposeful’, ‘undesigned’, so how does such infinite stupidity arrive at the construction of a universe of such staggering subtlety, complexity and outright imponderable mystery qua paradoxes? Paradoxes, by the way are, by definition, insoluble by, indeed repugnant to, logic.

    I believe some things occur randomly but not everything. It’s not the same as infinite stupidity or undirected by natural laws. We figured out a way around Zeno’s Paradox, there are stranger and curiouser things in the universe than that which can be understood by your logic. Sometimes we just have to spend more time looking and asking questions. Many scientists I know prefer the challenge of not-knowing, it gives them something to work on!

    At least IDers understand the limitations of our analytical intelligence, and YOU people have the gall to incorporate the great paradoxical insights made by the great paradigm-changing IDers, such as Planck, Bohr, Einstein and Godel, yet deny that their insights are imponderable paradoxes; but, rather, the great god, REASON, will one day (my son) be able to explain it all. You and your present-day gurus are myrmidons, hewers of wood and drawers of water, in comparison with the great paradigm-changers.

    It’s true, we can’t all be Planck or Bohr. But I believe their scientific insights have been incorporated into our current models. I don’t know if we’ll every figure everything out but it’s the job of the scientists to try!! Otherwise . . . what is there to do? What paradoxes are you referring to?

    All you can do, when challenged is scoff. What great insights have you provided? String theory? Multiverses? Abiogensis? You have no trouble believing the impossible, it’s the improbable you can’t countenance.

    I’m trying hard not to scoff, I’m trying to understand. I’m not an expert in any of those things (and, personally, I’m not a big fan of the ‘mutiverse’) but there are those who are, as much as you can be. I think many things in the history of the universe are incredibly improbable: the origin of life on earth, the formation of the first cell, me being here, lots of improbables.

    Are these extraordinary random chances supposed to be what SUSTAINS the universe as well? What about before time began? Was randomm chance the Creator of the Big Bang? Do you know the nature of the Singularity that originated the Big Bang? The reference frame proper to photons is clearly not space-time, so how is that you presume to espouse materialism as your metaphysical, when we know so little about the universe and its matrix?

    I don’t think random chance instigated the big bang, I don’t think any one does think that. I don’t understand the nature of the singularity, do you? I don’t think I ever purposely espoused materialism . . . didn’t mean to anyway. I have tried, to the best of my ability to answer questions that I’ve been asked.

    We don’t have to agree but I’d like to find out how you see the working of the universe. I gather you’re not a deist. Do you think the universe requires a guiding hand at all times or just at certain moments? Is there a purpose to the universe? (Obviously I don’t think there is but I’m betting you do.) What is that purpose? Assuming you think there is one how do you know what it is?

    These are the kinds of questions I think it would be fair for you to ask me so I hope you’re not offended me asking you.

  8. Sorry, screwed up the blockquotes again. Sigh.

  9. Not at all. Your response was certainly more temperate and civil than mine. Since you are not materialist, you surely didn’t deserve such derision – for which I apologise.

    I think the best thing I can do is to point you in the direction of the book that played a major role in reconverting me to Chrisitanity, specifically, the Catholic Church, namely, Aldous Huxley’s essay on comparative religion: The Perennial Philosophy.

    That provided me with the starting point from which to learn the different requirements of the analytical intelligence and what Huxley called the ‘unitive intelligence’, shared by the major religions.

    This unitive intelligence is honed, irrespective of the mainstream religion concerned (although in different degrees, according to God’s providential dispensation) by following certain precepts, indeed a way of living.

    This affords greater access to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, which as well as directly infusing knowledge, coordinates the strands of our intelligence. Hence the marked preponderance in earlier centuries of what would today be regarded as religious ‘nuts’ at the very highest level, notably Galileo (who had wanted to become priest, but whose father, a powerful man, made sure he didn’t), Newton, Pascal and Mendel. Kepler is said to have been a mystic, Pauli, though an agnostic, lapsed Catholic spoke of prior mystical insights), and Godel was a convinced Lutheran. Bohr, too, though his father, a professor of physiology was apparently a particularly devout Lutheran; while Planck, like Einstein, seems to have been a panentheist).

    The deeper spiritual truths are imponderable mysteries, paradoxes, not accessible to the rational mind, which Huxley believed is a kind of reducing- valve for our survival in time. Without it we would be kind of lotus-eaters, although perpetually entranced by the beatific vision, rather than apathetic and drowsy.

    This is perfectly consonant with the scriptural precept concerning the poor being rich in faith. After Christ’s day, the nature of our faith changed in some regards. It was always about commitment, rather than credence. Certainly not credulity, since our faith and knowledge form a continuum corresponding to space-time, although in reverse order.

    Corresponding with these, is a spiritual light-physical light continuum, less bizarre seeming now that photons, I believe, have been discovered to carry information. I can’t cite the passages just now, but the Psalms are very instructive concerning teleology.

    But to revert to the differing nature of the demands of faith, both then and now. In Christ’s day, it was the according of loyalty to Christ in the teeth of the very malevolent opposition of the powerful religio-political authorities in that theocratic society, who had threatened to ban people listening to Jesus’ preaching, from attendance at the synagogue. Now, we’re only beginning to get back the demands of that kind of faith, though this time in the teeth of opposition by the leaders of an actually secular society, and increasingly formally so.

    But it is such a vast subject that I’ve barely skimmed the tip of the tip of the tip, etc of the questions you raised.

    Well, I do believe the insights of Max Planck, the discoverer of quantum physics, when he remarked:

    “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

    “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”

    And Planck’s younger confrere, Niels Bohr, when he commented:

    “We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.”

    But it’s not that he was airy-fairy about it, of course:

    “Physics is to be regarded not so much as the study of something a priori given, but rather as the development of methods of ordering and surveying human experience. In this respect our task must be to account for such experience in a manner independent of individual subjective judgement and therefore objective in the sense that it can be unambiguously communicated in ordinary human language.”

    “Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems.”

    “There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature…”

    “Two sorts of truth: profound truths ?recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth,? in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd.”

    “Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question.”

    Can you imagine a materialist speaking in that vein? Least of all with their still much-touted ‘promissory note’. ‘One day my son, a comprehensive knowledge of this whole universe will be yours. If not yours, some of our descendants.”

  10. Axel,

    I am trying to be civil!! And thank you so much for your long and thoughtful reply. I know how significant particular volumes can be; I remember when I read CS Lewis Surprised by Joy years ago . . . I will keep the Huxley tome in mind and try and read it one of these days.

    Planck is a very interesting character. I’ve studied a fair amount of physics and his theological notions were never discussed. I’m not sure they needed to be brought up in a physics classroom but I would have liked to hear about them at the time.

    I find the quotes you report very evocative. I had heard a couple before but in the context your provide they take on a different meaning. I recently was reading one of Dr Dawkins books where he addresses the beliefs of Einstein (among others) and come to a different conclusion from you, but he didn’t mention Planck!!

    I’m no expert but I see your point about the nature of faith/worship changing with Christ. I don’t think Christianity would have survived, let alone flourish as it has, if it didn’t have something about it that was different.

    Finally, even though I haven’t said so, I probably am a materialist by most definitions. I haven’t said ’cause I’m not sure and I don’t like being labelled. I prefer to think of myself as being an evidentialist, if that makes sense. I prefer not having an ideology . . . I’m not sure if that’s possible . . . but I’m trying!!

  11. Jerad:

    You postulate a creator/designer for which there is no independent physical evidence…

    Again, the physical evidence for design in biology is independent from the physical evidence for design in physics, chemistry, cosmology and astronomy.

    If you need to see the designer in action, or have a meeting with her, the you ain’t interested in science.

    … and who would have to be much more complex and complicated than the issue you’re evoking ‘him’ to solve.

    And you know that how?

  12. In his On Physics and Philosophy, Princeton Univ. Press, 2006 (pg. 2 in the Foreword), professor of Physics, Bernard d’Espagnat, in the context he writes: “In fact, it is not inappropriate to consider, that while Nature( his capital letter) – in the broadest possible sense – refuses to explicitly tell us what she is, she sometimes condescends, when we press her tenaciously enough to tell us know a little about what she is not…”
    In light of this d’Espagnat’s statement, I’d like to ask you why does Nature hide her mysteries ‘tenaciously enough from herself?
    It may be that this question is not properly worded. I will try to explain: man or homo- sapiens, such as he is, according to Darwin’s theory of evolution, or materialistic- reductionistic theory, is not more than a handful of interstellar dust, insignificant bundle of atoms which came together by a blind chance, by material processes, by odd, at random, undirected, with no end, no intention, no teleology…Homo sapiens is here with no purpose whatsoever. I will try to use here a bit of syllogism:

    Major: Matter hides its mysteries from itself.
    Minor: Homo sapiens is matter, no more and no less.
    Conclusion: Ergo, homo-sapiens hides his mysteries from himself.
    How is it possible?

  13. Joe,

    Given that the design inference is not widely accepted by the scientific community I’m just saying that you have no additional physical evidence of an intelligence capable of the design you infer at the time(s) I’m guessing you are invoking such a designer (although it’s hard to get anyone to agree to specific design interventions).

    I don’t need to see the designer in action but ID needs to prove the viability of the design inference with some additional evidence.

    I surmise from the general thrust of ID contentions that a designer capable of creating DNA sequences that would bridge some of the perceived gaps between hypothesised islands of functionality would have to have an intelligence greater than ours. Much greater. That implies a fairly complex being, one that not only has the technical capacity to create and implement the designs but also the knowledge to do so in such a way as to leave only a physical record consistent with purely natural processes. But if you have another tact on the matter I’d be happy to listen. You frequently ask me to explain my outlook but you shy away from explaining yours in any detail.

    There is a scientific question on the table: how and why and when did speciation occur in the order and timeframe we can see. ID says: a designer did it but backs away from answering the how, why and when. Evolutionary theory is working on answers for the how, why and when . . . it’s a situation under flux obviously but slowly and surely the outlines are becoming clearer and clearer. Until ID addresses the whole question it will never have the explanatory power of evolution.

  14. Joe,

    And the obvious follow on point to hypothesising a complex and advanced designer is: where did the designer come from?

    You can decry the regression discussion but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t an issue. The main body of ID may chose to avoid the question but . . . you know scientists . . . they like asking questions and knowing why, when and how.

    You’re clearly interested in science, surely you want to know the answers to such questions. I’m willing to bet you’ve thought about it all a lot. On other threads when you’ve hinted at some of your ideas I have not been rude or derisory (I don’t think) so I hope you push the boat out a bit and give me some idea of what you’re thinking.

  15. Jerad:

    Given that the design inference is not widely accepted by the scientific community…

    This alleged “scientific community” cannot support “their” position’s claims. So they can pound sand.

    I don’t need to see the designer in action but ID needs to prove the viability of the design inference with some additional evidence.

    Yet our opposition doesn’t need to proviode any positive evidence for their claims- got it.

    Until ID addresses the whole question it will never have the explanatory power of evolution.

    ID is not anti-evolution and saying evolutiondidit is not an explanation. Meaning “evolution” does not have any explanatory power at all.

    And AGAIN-

    In the absence of direct observation or designer input, the ONLY possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer(s) or specific processes used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.

    THAT is how it is done in archaeology and forensic science.

  16. Jerad:

    And the obvious follow on point to hypothesising a complex and advanced designer is: where did the designer come from?

    Really? Where did the designer(s) of Stonehenge come from? Heck who were the designers of Stonehenge?

    If I don’t get their names and addresses then Stonehenge wasn’t designed and archaeology is worthless! LoL!

    Do you ever read what you post?

    Again-

    ID is NOT about the designer. ID is about the DESIGN. That is because the way to the designer is through the design.

    And also figuring pout designs that we are capable of duplicating is much easier than figuring out designs that we cannot duplicate. Give me a computer and I can figure out how to make one. Give a computer to an Amazon native who has never seen a one and that person wouldn’t have a clue.

  17. Joe,

    Yet our opposition doesn’t need to proviode any positive evidence for their claims- got it.

    You mean evidence that you don’t accept. Like the fossil record. The genetic record. The morphological evidence. The geographic distribution of species. And, in the last few thousand years, eyewitness accounts from breeders and scientists.

    ID is not anti-evolution and saying evolutiondidit is not an explanation. Meaning “evolution” does not have any explanatory power at all.

    Evolutionary theory has a proposed mechanism, time frame, etc. We don’t just say ‘evolution did it’.

    In the absence of direct observation or designer input, the ONLY possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer(s) or specific processes used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.

    THAT is how it is done in archaeology and forensic science.

    Archaeology and forensic science know who they’re making the design inference about: human beings. They know what human beings are roughly capable of. And that they were around at the pertinent time. And they have parallels with other events and structures, etc which they have other lines of evidence which establish that human beings were capable and did such things before. Remember Erich von Daniken and his ancient astronaut hypothesis? One of the biggest reasons his ideas were rubbish is because the archaeologists had evidence that human beings around at the time were capable of the structures that von Daniken said human beings were too stupid or primitive to have pulled off.

    Really? Where did the designer(s) of Stonehenge come from? Heck who were the designers of Stonehenge?

    If I don’t get their names and addresses then Stonehenge wasn’t designed and archaeology is worthless! LoL!

    I am not asking you for the designer’s name or address, just your idea about the methods and timing. We know quite a lot about the people who built Stonehenge: what they ate, some of their rituals, stuff you can’t get from just studying Stonehenge itself. There are lots of good books about prehistoric Britain if you’re interested. AND we do ask: why did they build Stonehenge? When? In stages or all at once? Why? Always WHY?? It’s what science does. Asks questions.

    You asked me a few weeks ago about finding Stonehenge on Mars and I said: you bet I’d think it was designed. And then I’d immediately start asking those questions and looking for answers and more evidence. I couldn’t just let the deign inference sit there and be happy. I’d start digging. Quite literally in that instance in fact. I’d do some archaeology and look for the designer’s trash heap. I’d ramp up SETI trying to find a signal. I’d try and date the structure. I’d hypothesise (based on careful examination of the thing) about construction techniques. If someone left a Stonehenge on Mars I’d bet they left some other traces and evidence.

  18. 18

    If someone left a Stonehenge on Mars I’d bet they left some other traces and evidence.

    Traces and evidence, you mean like the functional control of protein synthesis from symbols-based memory?

  19. Jerad:

    You mean evidence that you don’t accept. Like the fossil record. The genetic record. The morphological evidence. The geographic distribution of species. And, in the last few thousand years, eyewitness accounts from breeders and scientists.

    The fossil record doesn’t say anything about any mechanism- nada, zilch, zip.

    The genetic record doesn’t say anything about a mechanism. The morphological evidence doesn’t say anything about any mechanism and breeders demonstrate there are limits- phenotypic plasticity exists but limits exist also.

    Evolutionary theory has a proposed mechanism, time frame, etc. We don’t just say ‘evolution did it’.

    Evolutionary “theory” has father tiime + mother nature + some still unknown process and that is it.

    Also design is a mechanism.

    Archaeology and forensic science know who they’re making the design inference about: human beings.

    That is incorrect.

    They know what human beings are roughly capable of.

    Yeah because people left behind stuff that we can study!

    How do we know people were capable of building Stonehenge? Stonehenge!

    And that they were around at the pertinent time.

    Because of the evidence they left behind. Geez you are making my case for me.

    And they have parallels with other events and structures, etc which they have other lines of evidence which establish that human beings were capable and did such things before.

    That’s right! It is called knowledge of cause and effect relationships. And THAT is what the design inference is based on- our KNOWLEDGE of cause and effect relationships.

    And that means all someone has to do is step up and demonstrate that necessity and/ or chance can produce what we infer required a designer and the design inference falls.

    I am not asking you for the designer’s name or address, just your idea about the methods and timing. We know quite a lot about the people who built Stonehenge: what they ate, some of their rituals, stuff you can’t get from just studying Stonehenge itself.

    What part of the folowing don’t you understand:

    In the absence of direct observation or designer input, the ONLY possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer(s) or specific processes used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.

    THAT is how it is done in archaeology and forensic science.

    Also, Jerad, you are proving that the design inference is not a dead-end as it opens up other questions. Ya see, as Dembski said, just because ID is not about the designer there is nothing stopping people from trying to figure who, what, when, where and how.

    First things first.

  20. Traces and evidence, you mean like the functional control of protein synthesis from symbols-based memory?

    I guess you learnt nuthin’ from your thyme over on the septic zone… :)

    evolutiondidit- heck it needed sumthin to du, don’t ya know. and it had plenty of thyme to get to duin it…

  21. Jerad,

    But you would discount those traces as well, presumably. Because, what would be different about those traces? How would you tell if they were designed or not?

    When I hear the complaint that ID doesn’t work because we don’t know anything about the designer, I think of this analogy.

    Let’s say we have observed animals making prints in snow and dirt. We’ve seen deer and wolves, for example. And we’ve examined their feet and their prints and can tell that they match up. Then one day we find a print that we have never seen before. Like the wolf it has a pad and toes, but it has more toes than a wolf. Even though we can’t be certain what this animal is and what its characteristics are, we can presume that an animal made the print because it shares many characteristics of other prints. This is analogous to design that we find in nature.

  22. Joe,

    The fossil record doesn’t say anything about any mechanism- nada, zilch, zip.

    The genetic record doesn’t say anything about a mechanism. The morphological evidence doesn’t say anything about any mechanism and breeders demonstrate there are limits- phenotypic plasticity exists but limits exist also.

    All those records do not contradict the slow, step-by-step mechanism proposed. The limits that exist are based on the proposed mechanism.

    Evolutionary “theory” has father tiime + mother nature + some still unknown process and that is it.

    Also design is a mechanism.

    What unknown processes? Evolutionary theory extrapolates observed processes. Time and random mutations and natural selection (along with some other effects like genetic drift and sexual selection).

    Design is a mechanism if there is a designer available to do the designing!! Aside from the existing genomes how do you know there was a designer around? You keep saying it’s not possible to say anything about the designer without eyewitness testimony or input from the designer so are you really sure there was one?

    Archaeology and forensic science know who they’re making the design inference about: human beings.

    That is incorrect.

    I’m married to an archaeologist, I’ll ask.

    They know what human beings are roughly capable of.

    Yeah because people left behind stuff that we can study!

    How do we know people were capable of building Stonehenge? Stonehenge!

    Joe, there are hundreds of stone circles in Great Britain. Hundreds. If it were just Stonehenge the human design inference would be much harder.

    Because of the evidence they left behind. Geez you are making my case for me.

    Evidence other than the objects in question. It’s NOT just Stonehenge. That’s one, high profile site. There are thousands of prehistoric sites all over Europe which tell us there were people around at the time with the tools and ability to design and build Stonehenge. That’s the point: multiple lines of evidence. Like with evolution. It’s not just fossils or genomes or morphology or geographic distribution of species. It’s all of that combined together.

    That’s right! It is called knowledge of cause and effect relationships. And THAT is what the design inference is based on- our KNOWLEDGE of cause and effect relationships.

    And that means all someone has to do is step up and demonstrate that necessity and/ or chance can produce what we infer required a designer and the design inference falls.

    But it’s not just the cause you want to be true. You want every single little frame of film to be put in evidence. But that’s not possible. You’d never convict anyone of murder by that standard. You propose a model that doesn’t assume too much, see if the data fits and go from there. A slow, step-by-step process of common descent with modification is upheld by the data and is not contradicted by it. You’re proposing a cause, a designer, which has left no evidence aside from the evidence you’re trying to explain.

    In the absence of direct observation or designer input, the ONLY possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer(s) or specific processes used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.

    THAT is how it is done in archaeology and forensic science.

    I agree. And I don’t think you have any other relevant evidence. So the hypothesis of a designer is not as parsimonious as evolutionary theory. A designer would have to be a complex, sophisticated, advanced, powerful, intelligent being. If it was not supernatural then it would need support systems and such. Those things leave evidence. And if it was supernatural then it’s beyond the realm of science because things that can’t be pinned down in the lab can’t be studied.

    Also, Jerad, you are proving that the design inference is not a dead-end as it opens up other questions. Ya see, as Dembski said, just because ID is not about the designer there is nothing stopping people from trying to figure who, what, when, where and how.

    I agree it opens up other questions but everybody here is telling me the design inference is justified and no one seems to be pursuing the follow on questions. You seem reluctant to discuss your ideas about them. Nobody wants to talk about it. Does that mean the design inference has NOT been established?

    Collin,

    But you would discount those traces as well, presumably. Because, what would be different about those traces? How would you tell if they were designed or not?

    How can I comment without seeing the data? You’re assuming I’m ideologically opposed when there’s nothing to look at except the fossil, genetic, morphologic and biogeographic records. Show me something else and I’ll have a look.

    Let’s say we have observed animals making prints in snow and dirt. We’ve seen deer and wolves, for example. And we’ve examined their feet and their prints and can tell that they match up. Then one day we find a print that we have never seen before. Like the wolf it has a pad and toes, but it has more toes than a wolf. Even though we can’t be certain what this animal is and what its characteristics are, we can presume that an animal made the print because it shares many characteristics of other prints. This is analogous to design that we find in nature.

    It depends on when and where the prints were found. And what they most closely resembled. First you try and see if it’s possible they resemble some known species around at the time (granting we might be looking at historic material just to open up the discussion). You have to exhaustively eliminate natural causes before you make a leap into something new.

    I know what you’re getting at . . . I think. And if something that looks like wolf prints were found in a PreCambrian fossil layer then that would give a severe blow to evolutionary theory.

    If you’re trying to explain the design inference then I agree: as long as it’s known there are creatures around at the time that make similar prints then you first try and prove some new species exists. BUT it you have no independent evidence of such creatures at that time and place you move on to something else.

    ID says: look around, in our experience things that are designed have an intelligent designer behind them. Look at the lifeforms and the genomes. They LOOK designed. What accounts for design IN OUR EXPERIENCE, intelligence. BUT the inference is based on inanimate objects AND there’s no proof there was a designer around AND our experience is limited. I think ID SHOULD BE LOOKING for that extra evidence. I think that would help the cause immensely. I can’t understand why money isn’t being poured into that research. Maybe it is and I just don’t know about it. Please tell me if I’m wrong about that.

  23. Jerad,

    The stone circles in Britain/ Europe do NOT match Stonehenge. Stonehenge is unique with existing structures.

    The proposed evolutionary mechanism of accumulations of random mutations has never been observed to produce any new, useful multi-protein configurations.

    No known mechanism can change a prokaryote into something other than a prokaryote. Meaning universal common descent is dead without imagination, ie non-science.

    The design inference extends beyond biology. Meaning there is evidence of design in physics, chemistry and cosmology.

    The grand claims of your position cannot be pinned down in a lab and studied.

    And again your position has all the power, meaning if you could support your claims ID would fall.

    Also I can take your “evidence” for common descent and use it to support a common design.

    BTW it is you that wants a film of the designer in action. I would accept the theory of evolution if it had some science to support it. Imagination is not science.

  24. Joe,

    The grand claims of your position cannot be pinned down in a lab and studied.

    How do you propose to test the claims of ID in the lab? And I don’t just mean trying to prove a negative: attempting to show the limitations of evolutionary theory. What can the ID paradigm pin down in the lab and study?

    Also I can take your “evidence” for common descent and use it to support a common design.

    Well, I’d love to hear your take on the evidence. I won’t ask about the designer but, surely, a core part of ID is when; when did the designer intervene. That at least should be answerable. That is the core difference isn’t it: Darwinism says: the ‘gaps’ were bridged by natural, observable processes. ID says: the designer bridged those gaps with knowledge and abilities we extrapolate from our own currently inadequate abilities. BUT, you haven’t said which gaps or when.

    Without being specific about at least when design was implemented then ID isn’t really explaining anything. It’s just kind of waving its hands over a huge area saying the designer did it all.

  25. 25
    If someone left a Stonehenge on Mars I’d bet they left some other traces and evidence.

    Traces and evidence, you mean like the functional control of protein synthesis from symbols-based memory?

    Given your lack of a response, can we assume that this is, as you say, “evidence that you don’t accept?”

  26. UBP,

    I assumed it was a joke as the discussion was about a Mars-based Stonehenge and not . . . whatever was implied..

    Clearly highly technical data left in some readable form would be indications of an advanced intelligence and/or life forms depending on the way the ‘evidence’ was left. If you’re meaning DNA then I’d assume it was indications of life having been on Mars at some time.

  27. 27

    Jerad,
    Using Stonehenge as an example of an artifact which is strongly thought to have been designed; your comment was that you’d start immediately looking for additional evidence among the artifacts in order to support the inference. You even stated you’d start looking for the designer’s trash heap. Did you not?

    Well…

    Since it is thought among ID proponents that life on earth was designed, (and conversely denied by materialists) then would such evidence as the symbolic control of protein synthesis count among the evidences which you would be willing to accept – following your comments about the example of Stonehenge?

  28. UBP,

    I think that DNA is not designed if that’s what you’re trying to get me to say. I think it developed through purely natural, unguided and undirected processes.

  29. 29

    Jerad,

    When asked if you would accept the evidence of symbolic control over protein synthesis as an artifact of design, you answered by stating that you don’t think DNA is designed. But to say “I don’t think DNA is designed” is to merely posit a conclusion, and it does nothing whatsoever to establish whether or not symbolic control over protein synthesis is something you’d accept as evidence.

    And exactly, what are the “natural, unguided and undirected processes” which can result in symbolic representation? I’ve done a fair amount of reading on the subject, and I have yet to encounter any evidence whatsoever of such processes, from anyone, anywhere, at anytime, regardless of their metaphysical position.

  30. 30
    Chance Ratcliff

    Jerad, there is no evidence that the code embodied in the DNA molecule is the result of natural processes, not in the least. However there is evidence, via the symbolic control of protein manufacture, as UBP mentioned, of the involvement of intelligent agency. This puts you in the position of disregarding indicia of design in favor of something far more mysterious – the material law of spontaneous self-organization of information.

    If there is evidence of such a material law, it would be good of you to spell it out. If there is sufficient reason to believe that intelligence is not required for the generation of symbolic code, then I would be interested in hearing that also.

    If natural processes are capable of producing symbolic code, then there should be at least one example apart from biology. However there isn’t a single example, apart from biology, of a natural symbolic code. It follows then that natural processes are not capable of producing one. This argument can be refuted by a single counterexample of a contingent, complex and specific symbolic code which abstracts the production and/or operation of a physically unrelated configuration of matter.

    Do you have an argument here that doesn’t stem from a personal preference?

  31. UBP,

    I think the process of self-replication with modifications can generate the DNA molecule and it’s functionality. I’m not sure what you’re trying to get me to admit. You know what I think so . . .

    Sorry, I’m not good at playing games with this stuff. If I mis-spoke or answered poorly then I apologise. I don’t think DNA’s control over protein synthesis is evidence of design.

    Chance,

    Well, I disagree with you about the evidence as do a lot of other people. Quite a lot. Because the process involved is baby-step by baby-step and is guided by environmental pressures (natural selection, etc) then the genomes, and their corresponding phenotypes, are tailored to the environment. I don’t think it’s mysterious at all. We can see how a similar process has created a huge variety of dogs and plants starting from narrow root stocks. I consider that evidence of the power of descent with modification and selection. It’s not spontaneous, far from it. It’s climbing Mt Improbable in tiny increments. I’m not sure why you and UBP think I haven’t been clear about the process(es) I think are capable of creating complex life forms.

    I don’t find the proposed mechanism mysterious at all. I do find an undefined, unexperienced and unknown designer extremely mysterious. No one will even hypothesise when this designer implemented the designs!

    As the process requires self-replication with modification it is restricted to living things with is the realm of biology.

    These are not my arguments so even if I have adopted them out of a personal preference it is no reflection on their validity.

    I’m happy to keep repeating myself but as it doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere perhaps you’d like to ask me another set of questions? You know what I’m going to say in response to the standard ones after all.

  32. 32

    Jerad,

    I am not trying to be obscure and I am certainly not trying to play games. To say that self-replication and variation (Darwinian Evolution) can create symbolic representations is to get the cart before the horse. Darwinian evolution is entirely dependent on the existence of recorded heritable information being transferred from parent to daughter. Without that recorded information, there is no Darwinian evolution. And there isn’t a single example of recorded information in the cosmos that doesn’t exist as a symbolic representation; an arrangement of matter that can evoke a specified effect within a system. As far as anyone can tell, it is conceptually impossible to record information by any other means. Furthermore, in order for that representational arrangement of matter to have an effect within a system, it requires a second arrangement of matter to establish the material relationship between the representation and its downstream effect within the system (which is a relationship that otherwise wouldn’t exist). This is the dual requirement of a representation and a protocol which are fundamentally required in order for recorded information to even exist, or be transferred. Furthermore, these two objects have specific relationships to one another, as well as to the resulting effect that they create within the system. Firstly, the representation (by necessity) is materially arbitrary to the effect it evokes within the system. This is evidenced by the simple fact that the matter the representation is instantiated in, is not the effect it represents to the system. Secondly, the physical protocol must establish the material relationship between the representation and its effect, but it must do so while preserving the arbitrary nature of the representation. In other words, neither the representation nor the protocol ever becomes the effect.

    These are the fundamental requirements of the transfer of recorded information. They are observably present in every instance of recorded information transfer ever witnessed. This includes the transfer of recorded information throughout all organisms in the living kingdom (human, animal, insect, etc) as well as in all information processing machinery ever produced. They are also entirely accounted for in the transfer of genetic information from DNA during protein synthesis. There are no exceptions whatsoever.

    Now if you were simply unaware that the transfer of recorded information had material consequences which could be observed, then that is fine. However, if you’d like your rebuke of design to be thoughtful, then perhaps you might want to integrate these observable facts into your rebuttals.

    If you’d like read a short presentation of this argument (with some examples), you can get that here.

  33. 33
    Chance Ratcliff

    Jerad, you are invoking Darwinian processes to explain that which is required before Darwinian processes can function. The code in DNA must already be present, along with the proteins it codes for, in order for any putative evolution to occur. Perhaps this is why you feel that you need to repeat yourself. Circularity becomes an issue when a process is called upon to explain itself. You wrote:

    I think that DNA is not designed if that’s what you’re trying to get me to say. I think it developed through purely natural, unguided and undirected processes.

    Descent with modification cannot explain the code nor the product because both are required before descent with modification can occur in a stable system. You should find this mysterious, because any account for it is entirely absent from knowledge.

    I suggested that the inference to design can be avoided by producing a single example of symbolic code generation sans biology:

    This argument can be refuted by a single counterexample of a contingent, complex and specific symbolic code which abstracts the production and/or operation of a physically unrelated configuration of matter.

    Do you have an argument here that doesn’t stem from a personal preference?

    I don’t mean to sound pushy; however what scientists believe is not the issue. Rather that which can be demonstrated empirically is being sought. We infer design in code-configured systems because intelligence is the only known cause for such systems. Absent a counter example, you’re advocating a belief without warrant.

    Descent with modification is an observation which requires an explanation – it’s not a mechanism that comes about by law-like necessity. Any attempt to push this back on OOL is not appropriate, because this feature, heritable variation, is the very thing in need of being explained. It is dependent on a very sophisticated system for which the origin, not the operation, needs to be elucidated before we can attribute a material cause. This seems axiomatic.

  34. 34

    Hello MI.

  35. 35
    Chance Ratcliff

    Hi Upright! I’m glad to see you commenting. I hope you’re doing well.

  36. UBP,

    To say that self-replication and variation (Darwinian Evolution) can create symbolic representations is to get the cart before the horse. Darwinian evolution is entirely dependent on the existence of recorded heritable information being transferred from parent to daughter.

    Yup, I agree. And Darwinian evolution depends on that system having already been established. How it got establish I put in the OoL camp which I’m not addressing. Neither did Darwin. I believe that once that system is established then all you need are natural unguided processes. New ‘information’ can be incorporated into the existing genomes. Like Dr Dawkins I am an interested bystander regarding the origin of life and the genetic code as a viable system of descent with modification.

    Chance,

    I guess I have pushed part of the issue back onto the OoL. How the whole thing got started. That is a big problem but not one I’m addressing.

    I don’t think it’s entirely belief without warrant. Work is being done on OoL issues. I HOPE it gets ‘solved’ in my life time ’cause I’d like to see that!

    I do think the evidence from human breeding shows that, given an existing genome and viable phenotype, new ‘information’ can be ‘generated’ and incorporated into the genome. It happens in small steps and is dictated by the environmental pressures.

    We see descent with modification happening. It’s documented. Obviously there is a mechanism. The theory that the mechanism is selection (and genetic drift and a few other processes) acting on the existing genome and random variation within the genome is not contradicted by the ever increasing mounds of data in the fossil, generic and biogeographic records and morphology. That’s good enough for me. The model works and has great explanatory power.

  37. Upright Biped @ 31

    Firstly, the representation (by necessity) is materially arbitrary to the effect it evokes within the system. This is evidenced by the simple fact that the matter the representation is instantiated in, is not the effect it represents to the system.

    Is this actually true of protein synthesis? I thought the connection between DNA and proteins was not arbitrary but chemically determined.

    Cheers

  38. 38

    Jerad,

    Yup, I agree. And Darwinian evolution depends on that system having already been established. How it got establish I put in the OoL camp which I’m not addressing. Neither did Darwin.

    So…your answer is: “No, I will not accept the symbolic-control of protein synthesis as a material artifact of design”.

    And as a consequence of your reasoning, your answer also is: “When it comes to any molecular artifacts, I will defer to the authority of a man who was dead prior to the advent of molecular biology”

    That’s quite an intellectual cocoon you’ve constructed. I can assume that if someone had shown the rise of molecular symbols from mere chemistry, you’d defer to 1859 on that evidence as well.

    No one here needs to spend time trying to properly nuance your understanding of ID, such that ID is not anti-evolution, or that ID propositions do not challenge data established by experiment, or that ID methodology posits no discontinuity in the laws of nature, or anything else. Surely, if the material observations generated over the past century can be willfully ignored, then what can logic do? What is the point of reason? Clearly, there is none.

    I believe that once that system is established then all you need are natural unguided processes. New ‘information’ can be incorporated into the existing genomes.

    Ain’t that something? All it needed in order to do what it does, is the exact same thing it needed in order to be what it is. But let us not wonder what that is; even if we can isolate it, recognize it, and speak of it in coherent terms.

    Like Dr Dawkins I am an interested bystander regarding the origin of life and the genetic code as a viable system of descent with modification.

    I would suggest that you describing yourself as “interested” is a rather useful delusion.

  39. 39

    Is this actually true of protein synthesis? I thought the connection between DNA and proteins was not arbitrary but chemically determined.

    Hi Clavdivs,

    DNA is transcribed into mRNA, matured, and then that matured mRNA is used to order tRNA inside the ribosome. The material effect of nucleic base-pairing is the controlling factor during that entire transcription process; maintaining a specific sequence pattern throughout each step. But the end result of that process is the presentation of a specific amino acid at the peptide binding site, and that result is not determined by the arrangement of the nucleic acids, but is instead determined by the arrangement of the aminoacyl-synthetases (aaRS). The aaRS charge the tRNA with their amino acids in material isolation from both the DNA/mRNA (the representational input into the system) and the peptide binding site (the resulting output of the system), thereby preserving the required arbitrary nature of the representation.

  40. UBP,

    So…your answer is: “No, I will not accept the symbolic-control of protein synthesis as a material artifact of design”.

    And as a consequence of your reasoning, your answer also is: “When it comes to any molecular artifacts, I will defer to the authority of a man who was dead prior to the advent of molecular biology”

    I defer to modern scientists, working in the evolutionary field, who are fully up to date with the molecular research. Darwin and Wallace got the ball rolling but lots and lots of people and research have added to it.

    No one here needs to spend time trying to properly nuance your understanding of ID, such that ID is not anti-evolution, or that ID propositions do not challenge data established by experiment, or that ID methodology posits no discontinuity in the laws of nature, or anything else. Surely, if the material observations generated over the past century can be willfully ignored, then what can logic do? What is the point of reason? Clearly, there is none.

    I keep hearing that natural processes are incapable of doing some things and therefore certain life forms must be due to ID. Then you tell me that ID posits no discontinuity in the laws of nature. Maybe I’m stupid but I can’t see how those two contentions can both be true. Are you saying the designer tweaked the mutations so that certain outcomes happened? Then the mutations were not random at all. Yeah?

    Ain’t that something? All it needed in order to do what it does, is the exact same thing it needed in order to be what it is. But let us not wonder what that is; even if we can isolate it, recognize it, and speak of it in coherent terms.

    What THAT are you trying to get at? A gene pool exists in a population of life forms. Genetic variation occurs which is sometimes positive in that some of the life forms with the particular variation have more off spring than their contemporaries because they are better able to withstand the environmental pressues. Which means that variation becomes more and more common in the population. Bit by bit the genome changes over long periods of time based on natural selection acting on a stream of genetic variation.

    I would suggest that you describing yourself as “interested” is a rather useful delusion.

    I don’t see things the same way you do. Why don’t we just leave it at that?

  41. 41

    Jerad,

    I defer to modern scientists, working in the evolutionary field, who are fully up to date with the molecular research.

    And these evolutionary scientists convinced you that the symbolic control of protein synthesis arose by evolutionary processes? Is that why you won’t accept it as an observable material artifact?

    I keep hearing that natural processes are incapable of doing some things and therefore certain life forms must be due to ID.

    You are probably hearing that because there are some things that natural processes cannot do. Such a claim seems reasonable to me. Are you suggesting that the proper antidote is to assume a priori that natural processes can do all things? If so, how shall we re-classify those things that are the result of artificial input?

    Then you tell me that ID posits no discontinuity in the laws of nature. Maybe I’m stupid but I can’t see how those two contentions can both be true.

    Can you highlight for me an ID proponent’s methodology that posits a discontinuity in natural law in order reach an inference to design? I’ve read a few of them; I simply do not remember such a case.

    Are you saying the designer tweaked the mutations so that certain outcomes happened? Then the mutations were not random at all. Yeah?

    Actually I said nothing of the sort. I asked if you’d accept the symbolic control of protein synthesis as a potential artifact of design. It’s apparently a hot potato for you, given that you have steadfastly avoided answering it. As for mutations, I am not aware of any that have been recorded as anything but coming from natural processes.

    What THAT are you trying to get at?

    Formalism, instantiated in matter. There are formal relationships between the material objects involved in protein synthesis – a symbol system. This system has material consequences which are accessible to observation. The exact same material consequences are observable in all other examples of such systems, regardless of their source. If there is a material fact that distinguishes this system from all the others, then certainly one should be able to look at the material operation of the system, and point out that distinction. But, no one can seem to do so.

    Genetic variation occurs which is sometimes positive in that some of the life forms with the particular variation have more off spring than their contemporaries because they are better able to withstand the environmental pressues. Which means that variation becomes more and more common in the population. Bit by bit the genome changes over long periods of time based on natural selection acting on a stream of genetic variation.

    Yet, as you’ve pointed out, none of that has anything whatsoever to do with the question I asked: Would you accept symbolic control over protein synthesis as a potential artifact of design? Given that we agree ‘genetic variation’ doesn’t impact the question asked, your mentioning of it here must serve some other purpose.

    I don’t see things the same way you do. Why don’t we just leave it at that?

    Are you asking for a waiver? Would you like to come to UD and pepper the participants with questions, while having your position held above question?

    I am not sure I am willing to agree to that, but in this instance we needn’t continue if you wish not to.

  42. UBP,

    I’ll have another go through, just to attempt to be clear in my position.

    And these evolutionary scientists convinced you that the symbolic control of protein synthesis arose by evolutionary processes? Is that why you won’t accept it as an observable material artifact?

    I believe there is no need for the design inference. That the existing natural processes are adequate.

    Why do you keep asking?

    You are probably hearing that because there are some things that natural processes cannot do. Such a claim seems reasonable to me. Are you suggesting that the proper antidote is to assume a priori that natural processes can do all things? If so, how shall we re-classify those things that are the result of artificial input?

    Obviously natural processes cannot do all things. But they can handle all observed and inferred evolutionary events.

    Can you highlight for me an ID proponent’s methodology that posits a discontinuity in natural law in order reach an inference to design? I’ve read a few of them; I simply do not remember such a case.

    If the designer intervened by introducing new genetic strands to create a new life form then that introduces a discontinuity in the natural progression as there would be a non-step by step transition from one phenotype to another. KairosFocus insists that there are islands of functionality that natural processes cannot bridge so a designer is required to create new body plans. Such intervention would be a discontinuity in natural law.

    If I am wrong about my perception of what the designer would do it’s only because no one will give me a hypothesis about what the designer actually did. I hear natural processes aren’t capable and am left with my own guesses as to what people are thinking. Please enlighten me. And sometimes I fell like I’m being made fun of.

    Yet, as you’ve pointed out, none of that has anything whatsoever to do with the question I asked: Would you accept symbolic control over protein synthesis as a potential artifact of design? Given that we agree ‘genetic variation’ doesn’t impact the question asked, your mentioning of it here must serve some other purpose.

    I do not accept symbolic control over protein synthesis as handled by DNA as an artefact of design. In a more general sense I think it could be an artefact of design depending on the context and the nature of the symbolic system.

    Are you asking for a waiver? Would you like to come to UD and pepper the participants with questions, while having your position held above question?

    Nope, not asking for a waiver. I don’t mind doing my best to defend my position. But generally the questions seem rhetorical in that, knowing I support the modern evolutionary synthesis you know what my answers are going to be. Perhaps I should stop answering since lots of my questions, sincerely put, go unanswered.

  43. Don’t feel too bad, Jerad. I think you are making a valiant effort to clarify things, to understand where you and UPB differ, to understand what exactly Intelligent Design means. But, you know what they say… “Never ask for clarification from a man whose soul depends on not being clear.”

  44. Jerad:

    Pardon, I have a boiling over crisis in hand.

    But I passed by and see you trying to twist about the issue of islands of function.

    Have you ever had to get a very specific car part that had to fit just so or a vehicle was down and out?

    Have you ever seen a program fail because just one character was wrong?

    Have you ever seen a misplaced letter garble a message?

    And so forth?

    The blatant fact staring you in the face is that islands of functional configs amidst seas of non-functional ones are a reality.

    And, for just 500 bits worth of info, the sampling theory results show that the resources of the solar system are grossly inadequate to hit on islands of function by non-intelligent processes.

    I obviously cannot force you to acknowledge the weight of the evidence all around us. But I sure can point out the unreasonableness — even, pardon if this sounds harsh, outright absurdity — of the positions you have to take up to hold to your views.

    G’day

    KF

  45. PS: can you show us observational evidence that demonstrates novel body plans coming about strictly by chance plus necessity? We can show, with billions of cases in point, that the only empirically warranted source for FSCO/I is design. We can back that up with relevant analysis closely parallel to that which grounds the statistical form of the second law. We can show that living creatures brim over with such FSCO/I, and that to get to the embedded von Neumann self replicator, you are looking at more of the same. All of this makes an inference to design on empirically warranted sign quite reasonable.

  46. lastyearon,

    Thanks. I really am interested in exactly what ID is saying. If I could just get someone to give some particular cases of design intervention it would give us some specifics to talk about.

    kf,

    Have you ever had to get a very specific car part that had to fit just so or a vehicle was down and out?

    Have you ever seen a program fail because just one character was wrong?

    Have you ever seen a misplaced letter garble a message?

    And so forth?

    The blatant fact staring you in the face is that islands of functional configs amidst seas of non-functional ones are a reality.

    I have seen all of those things. And all those examples have to do with inanimate objects.

    How about this: Look at a hippo and a whale. It’s not hard to see how small, incremental changes (quite a few I know) could convert one into the other and the intermediate life forms would still be functional.

    There is no need for a random search to hit a narrow island of function. That would be, as you correctly point out, exceedingly improbable.

    As I’ve said before, we’ll just have to disagree.

    can you show us observational evidence that demonstrates novel body plans coming about strictly by chance plus necessity?

    It depends on how ‘novel’ you mean. I’d say the difference between a Great Dane and a bulldog is pretty dramatic, albeit all the same parts are there. Come to think of . . . all the same parts are there for all mammals. :-) Just more of that morphological support for common descent!!

    The difference between the brassicas is very dramatic and was brought about by artificial selection which points out that the random mutations are capable of varying body plans by quite an enormous amount.

    Come to think of it roses vary greatly too and they all came from a simpler wild stock. Not a bad example.

    I’d also say to you that you have no observational evidence that a designer has interfered in the natural processes. Has cut any corners so to speak. You have lots of current examples, all non-living, but you have no eye-witness testimony that there was any design implemented when . . . when are you saying there was a design implemented by the way? Don’t worry, I’m not expecting you to answer that question, no one seems to be willing to offer an opinion on that. Too bad, it would help make the case for ID having explanatory power. Someday maybe. I’ve answered lots of questions, some put repeated. It would be nice if someone answered mine. Oh well.

  47. Jerad:

    How do you propose to test the claims of ID in the lab?

    By testing cause and effect relationships- pretty much as archaeologists and forensic scientists do now.

    I won’t ask about the designer but, surely, a core part of ID is when; when did the designer intervene. That at least should be answerable.

    We answwer that by first detecting and then studying the design and all relevant evidence, just as is done in archaeology and forensics.

    That is the core difference isn’t it: Darwinism says: the ‘gaps’ were bridged by natural, observable processes.

    Darwinism lies as there aren’t any observable processes that can bridge any gaps. If there were such evidence we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    And again your position has all the power, meaning if you could support your claims ID would fall.

  48. Joe,

    Yes, exactly like archaeologists and forensics scientists!! How would you test the cause and effect relationships for the design inference?

    What other evidence have you found or hope to find?? (I’m agreeing with you, just want more specifics.)

    I’ll skip the Darwinism lying acquisition if you don’t mind. We’ll just have to disagree about that I think.

    If ID could support its claims it could certainly damage Darwinism. Depending on what those claims are of course. What are ID’s claims??

    And Joe, I do appreciate your taking the time to respond. I’d like to think we might at least identify what our specific claims are. It’s me that’s just not sure of ID; you seem pretty well versed in evolution.

  49. Jerad:

    How would you test the cause and effect relationships for the design inference?

    Pretty much the same way archaeologists and forensic scientists do- it is not the same for every thing.

    What other evidence have you found or hope to find??

    All the evidence presented in “The Privileged Planet”- for example:

    “The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best over all conditions for making scientific discoveries.”

    “The one place that has observers is the one place that also has perfect solar eclipses.”

    “There is a final, even more bizarre twist. Because of Moon-induced tides, the Moon is gradually receding from Earth at 3.82 centimeters per year. In ten million years will seem noticeably smaller. At the same time, the Sun’s apparent girth has been swelling by six centimeters per year for ages, as is normal in stellar evolution. These two processes, working together, should end total solar eclipses in about 250 million years, a mere 5 percent of the age of the Earth. This relatively small window of opportunity also happens to coincide with the existence of intelligent life. Put another way, the most habitable place in the Solar System yields the best view of solar eclipses just when observers can best appreciate them.”

    ID claims that the universe and living organisms are designed:

    What is Intelligent Design?

    Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence.– William A. Dembski

    Design theory—also called design or the design argument—is the view that nature shows tangible signs of having been designed by a preexisting intelligence. It has been around, in one form or another, since the time of ancient Greece.

    ID is based on three premises and the inference that follows (DeWolf et al., “Darwinism, Design and Public Education”, pg. 92):

    1) High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.

    2) Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.

    3) Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.

    4) Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.

    IOW ID claims that Complex Specied Information, not Shannon’s “mere complexity”, is an indicator of agency involvement.

    IOW just as archaeologists claim that artifacts require an artist and just as forensic scientists claim a murder requires a murderer, ID claims that CSI requires a designer.

    Biological specification always refers to function. An organism is a functional system comprising many functional subsystems. In virtue of their function, these systems embody patterns that are objectively given and can be identified independently of the systems that embody them. Hence these systems are specified in the same sense required by the complexity-specification criterion (see sections 1.3 and 2.5). The specification of organisms can be crashed out in any number of ways. Arno Wouters cashes it out globally in terms of the viability of whole organisms. Michael Behe cashes it out in terms of minimal function of biochemical systems.- Wm. Dembski page 148 of NFL

    In the preceding and proceeding paragraphs William Dembski makes it clear that biological specification is CSI- complex specified information.

    In the paper “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories”, Stephen C. Meyer wrote:

    Dembski (2002) has used the term “complex specified information” (CSI) as a synonym for “specified complexity” to help distinguish functional biological information from mere Shannon information–that is, specified complexity from mere complexity. This review will use this term as well.

    So science asks the question:

    “How did it come to be this way?” and ID claims that agency involvement was required.

  50. J:

    I am still busy elsewhere.

    The mere fact that living forms exhibit FSCO/I is precisely a reason to see a significant point of comparison to other systems that exhibit same. In particular the protein synthesis mechanism is a digital information controlled, algorithmic process of fabrication. It also happens to be pivotal to the self repairing, self replicating powers of the living cell.

    That the cell is living has not turned off the significance of the patterns of how algorithmic digital info systems work or come about, any more than theyturn off the significance of how atoms interact chemically, and how molecules come about as a result.

    The cel is USING these properties, materials and forces of nature, and it is adding a new dimension, one that in our uniform observation reliably traces to design.

    We therefore have every empirically warranted epistemic right to infer that such FSCO/I is a reliable sign of such design.

    And, by now you know just why that is so.

    Good day.

    KF

  51. PS: And BTW, the cited examples were to show cases of the commonly observed, general pattern of how complex functionally organised systems exemplify what has been described as islands of function. In reply you tried to appeal to vitalism of an odd sort. That is why I have corrected that side-track objection. Now, back on track, please show us how organised living systems — per empirical cases as observed — do not fit this general pattern of well-matched, properly placed and connected parts to make a functioning whole. Every evidence I can see suggests to me that living systems exemplify just that, starting with the hip’s ball and socket joint on down. [Today, someone was describing how he was “air ambulanced” out to St Croix, where doctors re-synchronised his heart, so it beat in proper order, saving his life.)

  52. Joe,

    Pretty much the same way archaeologists and forensic scientists do- it is not the same for every thing.

    Well, can we pick an example? Like DNA? Or the human immune system?

    “The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best over all conditions for making scientific discoveries.”

    Is that not just the anthropic principle? I.E. if the conditions weren’t right we wouldn’t be here to notice?

    “The one place that has observers is the one place that also has perfect solar eclipses.”

    The moon is receding from the earth and will not perfectly cover the sun at some point. Why isn’t this just lucky coincidence? And how is this a gift from the creator showing the cosmos is designed for us?

    “There is a final, even more bizarre twist. Because of Moon-induced tides, the Moon is gradually receding from Earth at 3.82 centimeters per year. In ten million years will seem noticeably smaller. At the same time, the Sun’s apparent girth has been swelling by six centimeters per year for ages, as is normal in stellar evolution. These two processes, working together, should end total solar eclipses in about 250 million years, a mere 5 percent of the age of the Earth. This relatively small window of opportunity also happens to coincide with the existence of intelligent life. Put another way, the most habitable place in the Solar System yields the best view of solar eclipses just when observers can best appreciate them.”

    So? This is evidence the universe was designed just for us? Because we can see almost perfect eclipses?

    I’ve heard all the arguments before. But none of what you’re saying specifies when the designer acted and therefore is not very explanatory. Let alone the how and why. Which I will leave.

    3) Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.

    Do you have proof of that? What are your examples of irreducible complexity? Like Darwin, I think something that truly is irreducibly complex would scuttle the theory of evolution absolutely.

    IOW just as archaeologists claim that artifacts require an artist and just as forensic scientists claim a murder requires a murderer, ID claims that CSI requires a designer.

    Absolutely. But archaeology and forensics have a known agent to infer to. One with known capabilities and known to exist at the pertinent time. What agent are you inferring and at what time? I think the form of the argument is very sound IF you have a known agent and a specified time. We’ll leave out motive for now.

    I also agree that science asks: How did it come to be this way? And I think it asks WHEN and WHY. What are ID’s answer for any of those, more specific than just: the designer did it?

    There’s nothing wrong with ID as a scientific hypothesis. It could be true. But the hypothesis has no explanatory power because it can’t (or won’t) address the how, specifically, or when or why. You can keep saying that more research needs to be done but no one can say, specifically, what research needs to be done so that particular answers can be given.

    A lot of work needs to be done until ID will be accepted as a plausible scientific hypothesis let alone a theory. It might get there. But I don’t think it’s there yet. And I don’t see how you can test it in the lab ’til you have more particular guesses to check. As you say, checking cause and effect relationships is good. Which ones? What relationship are you proposing? You need to be more specific.

  53. KF,

    Sorry, we were replying to the list at the same time and I didn’t notice immediately that you had added to the conversation. I do apologise, I am not refusing to answer nor am I shunning you.

    The mere fact that living forms exhibit FSCO/I is precisely a reason to see a significant point of comparison to other systems that exhibit same. In particular the protein synthesis mechanism is a digital information controlled, algorithmic process of fabrication. It also happens to be pivotal to the self repairing, self replicating powers of the living cell.

    I don’t see why living systems should be held to the same standards as non-living ones in this matter. I agree with the fact that the system is digital and significant, obviously so on both counts.

    We therefore have every empirically warranted epistemic right to infer that such FSCO/I is a reliable sign of such design.

    And, by now you know just why that is so.

    I cut out some of your statements but interested readers can scroll back to find out what they are.

    Again, I agree with you for non-living systems. I don’t believe you can just assert that living systems, of necessity, have to have the same cause. And I think the physical evidence (the fossil record, the genetic data, comparative morphology and the biogeographic distribution) uphold this.

    Now, back on track, please show us how organised living systems — per empirical cases as observed — do not fit this general pattern of well-matched, properly placed and connected parts to make a functioning whole. Every evidence I can see suggests to me that living systems exemplify just that, starting with the hip’s ball and socket joint on down.

    Why do you/did you have wisdom teeth? Why does the laryngal nerve go through such a detour? Why could your prostate ‘explode’ and kill you? Why can’t humans synthesise vitamin C like many mammals can? Why do whales have vestigial hind legs? Why do men have nipples? Why can’t some human digest lactose? Why do up to one third of conceptions naturally abort? Why are human beset with fallen arches, arthritis, cancer, bad backs, etc? Why are our reproductive organs and our elimination organs so close together? Why do we breath out of the same orifice as we drink and eat allowing for choking?

    There’s lots of examples of ways lifeforms could be easily ‘improved’. And just saying ‘we don’t know the intentions of the designer’ is not explaining why things are the way they are. AND the evolutionary process does explain why all those things are the way they are. So, I still conclude that evolutionary theory is a better explanation of the how, when and why of life forms. And, as far as I can discern, ID explains none of them. Or chooses not to.

  54. Jerad:

    Kindly think about the inconsistency in warrant you have just given. The living cells embed subsystems that manifest FSCO/I and so are cases in point. This — and BTW PALEY pointed to this in Ch II of his book where he discusses what would reasonably be inferred on seeing a self-replicating time-keeping watch (there has been a massive strawman distortion all along) — includes the components of cellular self replication and the embryological origin of complex body plans.

    Further to this, such FSCO/I generally shows the island of function pattern already discussed with you over and over with onward links.

    The empirically well warranted inference is that FSCO/I is a reliable sign of design. And so there is good reason for drawing the conclusion that systems with such characteristics are designed. In the case of the cell this includes algorithms, coded strings to effect such and associated execution machinery. That points to language predating cell-based life, and to purpose and design by knowledgeable and skillful designers. (We are probably within 100 years of that stage, given Venter et al.)

    I suggest you take a look at Newton’s rules for reasoning in science, especially the uniformity principle. It is quite clear that the issue is not evidence but the logic of empirically based inference to best current explanation.

    G’day

    KF

  55. PS: I see too that you want to suggest cases of allegedly bad design in your estimation as evidence of no design. This fails triply. First, many designs are sub-optimal, period — e,g. MS Windows and MS Office or the usual case of an emerging new technology, cf why we are stuck with QWERTY keyboards. Second, our criteria of evaluating optimality may manifest sub-optimisation, i.e. we may be missing other relevant purposes and factors — the tradeoff and the requisites of robustness problems, where that which is optimal can be brittle against environmental shifts or needs of adaptability. Third, you are posing talking points on cases that have been seriously discussed elsewhere in ways that show that there is more than one side to the story, in a context where I have a national crisis to deal with and simply cannot spare time to deal with all the rabbit-trails and side tracks. Similarly there is NO, repeat, NO, bio-geographic or fossil evidence that shows origin of BODY PLANS by Darwinian mechanisms, starting with Darwin’s own struggles with fossils in general and the Cambrian revolution in particular. Your reported satisfaction with the evidence is patently not based on the actual balance of such evidence — cf. here for a first correction — but on a one-sided review of the alternatives presented as if it were essentially unquestionable fact. Perhaps, you should reflect on the point that the true champion of bio-geographic data, Wallace, was a champion of intelligent evolution from 1869 on.

  56. Jerad-

    Synthetic ribosomes do not function. If ribosomes were reducible to matter and energy then synthetic ribosomes should function as biological ribosomes function.

    That says ribosomes are IC because they are NOR reducible to matter and energy.

    Then there is ATP synthase- another structure your position cannot account for beyond saying “Lookie there!”

    As I keep telling you, if your position had some positive evidence then ID would fade away. So it is very telling that ID is here and going stronger.

  57. KF,

    I suggest you take a look at Newton’s rules for reasoning in science, especially the uniformity principle. It is quite clear that the issue is not evidence but the logic of empirically based inference to best current explanation.

    Well, I’d say that based on what processes we observe in operation today (no designer) the best inference is evolutionary theory. You always want to invoke a ‘being’ which you have no evidence exists now or way back when. I just don’t buy that. And it’s hardly uniform with actual, observed processes we see in operation today. I don’t see how you can just ‘create’ a designer by inference.

    First, many designs are sub-optimal, period — e,g. MS Windows and MS Office or the usual case of an emerging new technology, cf why we are stuck with QWERTY keyboards.

    If you agree that some of my examples are sub-optimal then you have to explain why the designer created them that way. Was ‘he’ experimenting? Learning what worked and what didn’t? Changing his mind? Just playing? That’s part of a theory having explanatory power. You dodge the issue. Why are things designed the way they are?

    Second, our criteria of evaluating optimality may manifest sub-optimisation, i.e. we may be missing other relevant purposes and factors — the tradeoff and the requisites of robustness problems, where that which is optimal can be brittle against environmental shifts or needs of adaptability.

    Fair point. But do you think that humans not being able to synthesise vitamin C fits that category? Lots of other mammals can so why not us? Again, a theory must have explanatory power.

    Third, you are posing talking points on cases that have been seriously discussed elsewhere in ways that show that there is more than one side to the story, in a context where I have a national crisis to deal with and simply cannot spare time to deal with all the rabbit-trails and side tracks.

    I know you’re busy and you are certainly not obligated to reply. Certainly not in the middle of a crisis. Please feel free to deal with your stuff. I won’t think the less of you I promise. Life goes on!!

    Similarly there is NO, repeat, NO, bio-geographic or fossil evidence that shows origin of BODY PLANS by Darwinian mechanisms, starting with Darwin’s own struggles with fossils in general and the Cambrian revolution in particular.

    None at all. Are you sure? How can you see the origins of body plans? If they come from incremental changes to existing plans? You’re never going to get a fossil from every species that ever existed. Like forensics evidence in a court case evolutionary theory has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt with multiple lines of evidence and extrapolation from observed and exiting processes. And it has great explanatory power.

    Your reported satisfaction with the evidence is patently not based on the actual balance of such evidence — cf. here for a first correction — but on a one-sided review of the alternatives presented as if it were essentially unquestionable fact.

    Well that’s your opinion. We look at the same data and weigh it differently. But I’d be interested where you think the physical evidence contradicts evolutionary theory. What in the fossil record, the genetic data, the geographic distribution of species or comparative morphology contradicts the modern evolutionary synthesis?

    Perhaps, you should reflect on the point that the true champion of bio-geographic data, Wallace, was a champion of intelligent evolution from 1869 on.

    Wallace didn’t have all the data we have today so who knows what he would think if he were still alive. Anyway, scientific models have to be updated and modified as new evidence comes in. And scientists get things wrong sometimes. It happens. Doesn’t mean you throw out everything they had to say or the theory.

  58. Joe,

    Synthetic ribosomes do not function. If ribosomes were reducible to matter and energy then synthetic ribosomes should function as biological ribosomes function.

    Are your sure? I’ve seen you say this before yet

    Church’s team built a functional ribosome from scratch, molecule by molecule. Ribosomes are molecular machines that read strands of RNA and translate the genetic code into proteins. They are exquisitely complex, and previous attempts to reconstitute a ribosome from its constituent parts – dozens of proteins along with several molecules of RNA – yielded poorly functional ribosomes, and even then succeeded only when researchers resorted to “strange conditions” that did not recapitulate the environment of a living cell, Church said [Nature blog]. Next, the researchers want to produce man-made ribosomes that can replicate themselves.

    This from 2009. Sounds like even then they were making progress. I’d hate to bet that their efforts will never pay off.

    Then there is ATP synthase- another structure your position cannot account for beyond saying “Lookie there!”

    I’m not saying all the bits have been worked out. Maybe I have ‘faith’ that they will be figured out. But aren’t you just as guilty of not having evidence of a being around at the time with the capabilities you assert? You are making an assumption that something/being existed when there is no physical evidence to support that view.

    As I keep telling you, if your position had some positive evidence then ID would fade away. So it is very telling that ID is here and going stronger.

    I guess we’ll just have to disagree then. Reasonable people do that sometimes. I’m not convinced ID is getting stronger. Aside from lots of supporters continuing to point at complicated cell mechanics and chemistry and saying: we can’t figure out how this came about so it must have been designed. Is it scientific to throw in the towel and assume the negative: that it couldn’t have happened via strictly natural and unguided processes?

  59. Jerad-

    Church’s team had just a small part of the ribosome being synthetic- and it didn’t function properly- it just cranked out ONE functional protein.

    Their efforst are paying off- for Intelligent Design.

    And I guess archaeology and forensics also boil down to “we can’t figure out how this came about so it must have been designed”. Again the design inference is based on our knowledge of cause and effect relationships. And if there is ever any evidence that random mutations can accumulate in such a way as to give rise to that we say is designed then you will have something. But today you do not have anything but the refusal to accept the design inference and a pocket full of promissory notes. Unfortunately the science of today cannot wait for what the future may or may not uncover.

    And the design supports the view that a designer existed.

  60. Using the bacteria E. coli, Church and Research Fellow Michael Jewett extracted the bacteria’s natural ribosomes, broke them down into their constituent parts, removed the key ribosomal RNA and then synthesized the ribosomal RNA anew from molecules.

    Got that- just part of the ribosome was synthetic…

  61. Joe,

    Church’s team had just a small part of the ribosome being synthetic- and it didn’t function properly- it just cranked out ONE functional protein.

    Okay, fair point. But not exactly non-functional. Are you saying they will never be able to synthesise fully functional ribosomes?

    And I guess archaeology and forensics also boil down to “we can’t figure out how this came about so it must have been designed”.

    Hardly. They infer to a known cause proven to exist at the time and place in question: human beings.

    In fact, that’s part of the point isn’t it? If the forensics point to some crucial process happening at a time or in a place when the suspect was provably not present then the defence case is stronger or proven.

    Again the design inference is based on our knowledge of cause and effect relationships.

    I get that but you are assuming a cause, a designer, for which you have no independent physical evidence. You can keep saying you’re making an inference to known causes but not specific enough causes.

    Here’s a question: if there was a designer around way back when then why is the only ‘evidence’ life forms? Most of which are no longer with us? Why haven’t we found the contraflow you point to? Where are the workshops, machines, labs, etc? Or, if the designer wished us to know of ‘his’ presence, why are there massive physical indicators saying, clearly, I WAS HERE.

    And if there is ever any evidence that random mutations can accumulate in such a way as to give rise to that we say is designed then you will have something.

    We’ve been here before. I give an example and you say I can’t prove the mutations were random. BUT you, as of yet, have no evidence or even plausible hypothesis of where your extra programming exists or how it got into the system. Yet you decide to throw out another model (well, you keep saying ID is not anti-evolution but you also say there is no evidence for evolution so I’m not sure what you are saying really), the evolutionary model, because you don’t accept that the mutations are random. Can you prove they aren’t random? If not then aren’t you making a gross assumption?

    But today you do not have anything but the refusal to accept the design inference and a pocket full of promissory notes.

    We’ve got a model which is not contradicted by the data, has great explanatory power and does not assume anything except observable, natural, undirected processes.

    Unfortunately the science of today cannot wait for what the future may or may not uncover.

    I agree. Which is why the ID inference is generally rejected. And why I shall withhold judgement on your extra programming notion. When you’ve got a plausible mechanism and some evidence then I suggest you shout it from the highest tower. But I’ll stick with what I’ve got ’til then.

  62. Jerad:

    Are you saying they will never be able to synthesise fully functional ribosomes?

    Only when we figure out how to program them.

    They infer to a known cause proven to exist at the time and place in question: human beings.

    Mother nature and father time existed too. And in some cases we know humans existed because of artifacts. And just because humans existed doesn’t mean they could do it.

    If the forensics point to some crucial process happening at a time or in a place when the suspect was provably not present then the defence case is stronger or proven.

    But no one then says “mother nature didit”. Even if they don’t have a suspect they can still dtermine someone was required to produce the effect observed.

    I get that but you are assuming a cause, a designer, for which you have no independent physical evidence.

    Please explain what you mean by “independent evidence”. The design is usually evidence enough for most people. And again YOU could just step up and demonstrate that mother nature and father time are all that are required, but you don’t, why not?

    Here’s a question: if there was a designer around way back when then why is the only ‘evidence’ life forms?

    Umm, as I have been telling you, the design inference extends beyond biology, which means life-forms are NOT the only evidence.

    Please read “The Privileged Planet”- it also responds to your anthropic claim. Then there are the writings of Walter Bradley, who also makes the case for design outside of biology.

    I give an example and you say I can’t prove the mutations were random.

    What example?

    We’ve got a model which is not contradicted by the data, has great explanatory power and does not assume anything except observable, natural, undirected processes.

    If that is true then tell us how to test the claim that any bacterial flagellum evolved via those observable, natural, undirected processes.

    Problem is you can’t even do that- what is the hypothesis?

    Which is why the ID inference is generally rejected.

    Rejected by people who can’t even support their position.

    BTW I gave you plausible mechanisms- design is a mechanism, agency involvement is a mechanism, targeted search is a mechanism, “built-in responses to environmental cues” is another.

    And by sticking with what you got, you have a mechanism that is observed to break stuff, not make stuff.

  63. Jerad:

    I must shake my head and conclude, there’s none so blind.

    we do routinely see FSCO/I being created, especially digitally coded algorithmic systems. EVERY time, the source is intelligent, and we have good needle in haystack grounds for why.

    What minor adaptations we see in living forms do not come up to the body plan threshold, and are best explained as minor variations within existing FSCO/I based body plans. There is no evidence of noise and accidental alignments writing complex software or creating complex functional entities.

    G’day

    KF

  64. Joe,

    Only when we figure out how to program them.

    Well, I suspect we’ll have an answer in our lifetimes. Exciting time to be alive eh?

    Mother nature and father time existed too. And in some cases we know humans existed because of artifacts. And just because humans existed doesn’t mean they could do it.

    Of course. But without evidence of another intelligent and capable life form around at the time . .. And we don’t want to fall into the von Daniken mind set either: ancient humans were too stupid to do something.

    But no one then says “mother nature didit”. Even if they don’t have a suspect they can still dtermine someone was required to produce the effect observed.

    Of course. My point was that design inference is valid when there’s a know being available with the capacity to create the design. You can’t just infer one out of thin air. Contraflow!!

    Please explain what you mean by “independent evidence”. The design is usually evidence enough for most people. And again YOU could just step up and demonstrate that mother nature and father time are all that are required, but you don’t, why not?

    Well, I think I have shown that nature and time are all that is required. But you don’t. So, what would you consider evidence? Eyewitness testimony? The processes we’re discussing take hundreds, thousands, millions of years. And even then you’d ask me: how do I know the mutations were random? You tell me what you would accept as evidence.

    Umm, as I have been telling you, the design inference extends beyond biology, which means life-forms are NOT the only evidence.

    Okay but how do you know the universe is even tuneable? How do you know there could be any other values to the fundamental constant?. It’s all very well and good saying they must have been proscribed but that’s like saying I won the lottery it must have been mandated. Perhaps the fundamental constants are all derived from some other value? And the fact that the moon almost exactly covers the sun during an eclipse (which it didn’t quite on the last one) is kind of lame don’t you think?

    If that is true then tell us how to test the claim that any bacterial flagellum evolved via those observable, natural, undirected processes.

    Problem is you can’t even do that- what is the hypothesis?

    One procedure is obvious: you take bacteria without the flagellum, isolate them and see what happens.

    Another obvious way is to show, as requested, a step-by-step mutational path. Which I suspect people are working on.

    But your argument is: it’s too complicated therefore it’s designed. An argument from ignorance. Not only are you assuming the only alternative is design but you are throwing up your hands just because we don’t know exactly how it happened. Why not just say: we don’t know but we’re going to try and find out. Why jump to design? And what about other options? Maybe it’s a time traveller? Could be. Maybe we’re all inside a giant computer simulation. That could be too.

    Rejected by people who can’t even support their position.

    Your rejection of their arguments does not make them invalid.

    BTW I gave you plausible mechanisms- design is a mechanism, agency involvement is a mechanism, targeted search is a mechanism, “built-in responses to environmental cues” is another.

    Design and agency are fine mechanisms if there is an agent. You haven’t proven there is one. Targeted search requires an agent as well. Built in response is more interesting. DNA exhibits some of that. Now you need to show there is another repository. You’ve got a hypothesis now try and make it stick.

    KF,

    we do routinely see FSCO/I being created, especially digitally coded algorithmic systems. EVERY time, the source is intelligent, and we have good needle in haystack grounds for why.

    Yup, we do see it created. Mostly inanimate things. And we have agents we can see who are responsible for it. You want to infer design when you don’t know if there was an agent around at the time. You’re going to have to get more evidence to prove your case. Something outside of DNA.

    There is no evidence of noise and accidental alignments writing complex software or creating complex functional entities.

    But it’s not just noise: it’s random variation AND selection!! Cumulative selection is powerful.

    You say there is no evidence but you’re not very specific in your alternative. It lacks explanatory power. Design can be sub-optimal but why would they be? Why would there be lots and lots and lots of lost life forms and body plans? What was the designer doing? Why waste all that time and flesh? Evolution answers those questions; ID needs to address them or it explains nothing. It needs to establish reasons.

  65. Jerad:

    But your argument is: it’s too complicated therefore it’s designed.

    Nope. Complicared stuff arises without agency involvement.

    An argument from ignorance.

    YOURS is the argument from ignorance. The design inference is based on our knowledge of cause and effect relationships.

    BTW I am OK with saying “we don’t know”- THAT is what we should be teaching the kids.

    Well, I think I have shown that nature and time are all that is required.

    You haven’t shown any such thing. Not only that nature cannot be responsible for nature.

  66. Jerad:

    Why do you insist on repeatedly setting up and knocking over strawmen, using the same talking points over and over despite cogent correction?

    I do not have time to spend on going round and round the merry go, so I will not.

    I simply point out that we have a known, routinely observed and analytically supported explanation of FSCO/I, design. To date — after years of asking — neither you nor others on your side of the fence can offer more that speculative hypotheses, gross extrapolations and dubious examples that do not stand scrutiny in attempted opposition.

    Indeed, the weird form of vitalism now being touted is itself a case in point: the replication and reproduction systems of life are riddled with FSCO/I. (And it is telling that somehow Paley’s time-keeping, self replicating watch seldom if ever gets seriously discussed by those who object to his key point.)

    Your variation plus selection objection simply begs the question that I responded to in as much detail as the crisis on my plate allows: on abundant evidence FSCO/I generally comes in islands of functional configs amidst vast seas of non-functional ones. Variation and selection may be plausible for varying in an island, but it has no power to explain the crucial issue, getting there to the island. Varying cabbages do not begin to explain getting to flowering plants.

    Similarly, it is on the face absurd to expect complex, functionally specific — and notice how you repeatedly duck that part — codes, symbol systems, algorithms and implementing machinery to originate by chance variation and reward of success. DNA, RNA, the ribosome and supportive molecular nanotech are just such a system.

    But, to one locked into the evo mat circle of begged questions exemplified by Lewontin et al, the eye of materialist faith is obviously all the evidence required to lock out the only empirically warranted explanation of FSCO/I.

    And in the end, that is the impression, sadly, that you are leaving.

    Please, pause and think again, laying aside some very big begged questions.

    G’night

    KF

  67. Joe,

    YOURS is the argument from ignorance. The design inference is based on our knowledge of cause and effect relationships.

    We know mutations happen. We know selection happens. We extend that into the past.

    We know design happens but requires an agent. We don’t know there was an agent around hundreds of millions of years ago.

    BTW I am OK with saying “we don’t know”- THAT is what we should be teaching the kids.

    But that’s not what ID is saying. ID is saying: natural processes are incapable, design is so we should go with design. ID asserts it’s the best inference.

    You haven’t shown any such thing. Not only that nature cannot be responsible for nature.

    Doesn’t sound like you’re saying ‘we don’t know’ at all.

    I’m sorry you chose not to answer my questions regarding evidence even though you claimed I had none. I am trying to have a dialogue so I can gain some insight. Nor did you chose to address any of the explanatory issues I brought up. Perhaps it’s time for me to stop talking.

    KF,

    Why do you insist on repeatedly setting up and knocking over strawmen, using the same talking points over and over despite cogent correction?

    Am I? I’m trying to find different ways to get at the same point. I disagree with you so I’m not likely to be ‘corrected’. You keep bringing up islands of functionality without reconsidering the notion for living replicators and common decent; not addressing what evolutionary theory is really saying.

    And, as I’ve said, no one is requiring you to respond. Least of all me. I appreciate that you do when you’re busy but I’d completely understand if you didn’t. Especially if you feel you’ve made your point multiple times.

    To date — after years of asking — neither you nor others on your side of the fence can offer more that speculative hypotheses, gross extrapolations and dubious examples that do not stand scrutiny in attempted opposition.

    Perhaps. What about all of the new data being published on a daily basis? in 2009 synthetic ribosomes were created. Joe asserts they were not fully functional but they certainly were a step in that direction. What about Lenski’s ongoing research? What about the continuing examinations of the human clotting system? The bacterial flagella? Are you keeping up with the research?

    I could say that ID continues to refuse to add explanatory details to its implied assumption that there was an agent around hundreds of millions of years ago. I feel that I have laid all my cards on the table, will you do the same and address the when and how and why? What has ID added in the last decade? Aside from Dr Behe’s last book what new arguments and support has ID gained in the last decade?

    on abundant evidence FSCO/I generally comes in islands of functional configs amidst vast seas of non-functional ones.

    Yup, it’s true for inanimate objects. I completely agree there. No doubt. But not for living systems that came about by common descent.

    Variation and selection may be plausible for varying in an island, but it has no power to explain the crucial issue, getting there to the island.

    Common descent says all life forms are on the same island. Why do you think that’s not possible? How do you KNOW existing life forms are on different islands of function? What is your proof?

    And I’ve always agreed that the OoL issue is far from being resolved. No question. Which is why I’m making no claims about it.

    Similarly, it is on the face absurd to expect complex, functionally specific — and notice how you repeatedly duck that part — codes, symbol systems, algorithms and implementing machinery to originate by chance variation and reward of success. DNA, RNA, the ribosome and supportive molecular nanotech are just such a system.

    I agree the DNA contains functionally specific codes. I just don’t agree it had to arise by intelligent agents.

    Do what Dawkins did to show the power of cumulative selection: write a program that generates a simple body plan and then generates a new generation with variation. Arbitrarily select one or more of the offspring and se what they generate on the next step. Select again. Etc.

    Please, pause and think again, laying aside some very big begged questions.

    I really have thought about the issues you’ve brought up. Why would I be spending my time here discussing it with you if I didn’t want to understand? I’m sorry I don’t, in the end, agree with you. I didn’t expect us to agree. I did think we could work towards greater understanding of each other’s point of view. I don’t know why you and others feel like you have to change my mind. I’m not being rude or belligerent. I’m not calling names or forcing my point of view on anyone. I am being honest and open about my opinion and questions. Even if we disagree we can work at greater understanding. I think that’s a good thing surely.

  68. Jerad:

    Pardon, but you are indeed tilting at strawmen. Even when you see synthesis of ribosomes, you cannot seem to make the connexion that this is a case of intelligent design, which points to the possibility of just such design of the cell, along with say the pattern of engineering of genes, the rise of nanotech and Venter’s startup of a living cell by manipulating components.

    Similarly, something is blocking your ability to see that say the DNA-RNA-Ribosome mechanism is an instance of coded, digital, algorithmic process involving FSCO/I. That the cell happens to be alive does not change that, no more than it changes the applicability of organic chemistry. In that context, the wider mechanism of self replication is similarly algorithm-driven and uses digital codes. Indeed we are looking at a von Neumann self-replicator, full of FSCO/I. In short asserting a weird sort of vitalism does not allow you to properly avoid the question of the known source of FSCO/I.

    As to the attempted turnabout on islands of function, that is actually inadvertently revealing. As we know from many many cases, functionally specific organisation and the need to get to correct configs is a common characteristic starting with writing sentences in English or codes in computers. The deleterious nature of the vast majority of mutations — and our fear of radioactivity — is a simple and revealing consequence. The existence of deeply isolated protein fold domains in the space of AA sequences is a further indication. The fact that the actual fossil record is one of “sudden appearance,” stasis, and disappearance or continuity to the modern world, and so forth all point in the same way. We can add how all OBSERVED variation is well within the body plan limit, with the note that the credible amount of fresh DNA info to get to a body plan is 100,000+ bits for first unicellular life and 10 -100+ mn bits for more complex body plans. Just 500 bits makes for a hopeless blind search on the gamut of the solar system, and 1,000, the observed cosmos. All of this has already been reviewed with you and has been insistently ignored or brushed aside without even a semblance of serious consideration of alternatives.

    In short, you are here recycling already cogently answered talking points. (Onlookers cf here on for a 101 level review.)

    In the case of Dawkins, as the just linked intro page of IOSE summarises, he played a bait and switch, with targetted, intelligently controlled hill-climbing being used to illustrate the power of blind incremental search. If that had been a stock promotion scheme, he would still be in gaol on a fraud charge.

    And, you are setting a challenge you know has not been as yet met — ignoring the point of the evidence we do have in hand that points to the feasibility of intelligent design — while ignoring material components that are sufficient to warrant the conclusion. Frankly, you now remind me of the objector of some years ago who in effect said in another online discussion that absent time travel or a video of the resurrection of Jesus, he was unwilling to accept any historical evidence.

    That is, you are being selectively hyperskeptical in defence of an a priori position.

    FYI: “extraordinary claims require extraordinary [adequate] evidence”; and adequacy is to be judged based on what we have reasonable access to, in light of the significance of the issue that forces a decision on what evidence we do have. If we do not face a forced, momentous choice across live options then informed agnosticism and presentation of strengths and limitations of schools of thought is more than good enough. Which BTW is Joe’s point that you are plainly missing.

    We are by no means forced by evidence to hold to an evo mat view so there is no reason to allow it to censor science praxis and publication, or sci edu, or personal worldviews. Indeed, given the wider logical, epistemological and ethical — thus civilisational — challenges of materialism, a prudent and informed thinker would steeply discount its credibility.

    But, sadly, you seem content to argue in a wholly inadequate evo mat circle, replete with begged questions and selective hyperskepticism directed to anything that is not well within the Darwinist plantation’s fences.

    In further defence of that, you are asserting that a patently inadequate mechanism is able to do what you wish to dismiss a known adequate mechanism as doing: create FSCO/I.

    All of this SHOULD open your eyes to stop and genuinely re-think.

    For some weeks now, it has not.

    But, at least, onlookers can see that if so intelligent and informed a defender of the Darwinist position has to use rhetorical resorts like that, the game is pretty much over.

    I must return to the national crisis that will tip one way or another in the next 48 hours.

    G’day

    KF

  69. PS: On tone. I did not make up the names of the relevant fallacy, question-begging. As to the insinuation that I have been belligerent in the teeth of civility, that is patently over the top. Over several weeks others and I have tried to walk you through a range of evidence but in so doing, a pattern of errors in reasoning on your part has emerged. It is that which I have highlighted, using fairly standard terminology for fallacies, save that I have given my own descriptive term for what Greenleaf called “the error of the skeptic.” At some point, I did take time to speak to snide and smearing remarks at Anti Evo, in a context that celebrates your foray here as in effect an exercise in laughing up your sleeve. I do appreciate the fact that you have not been overtly abusive, but that does not change the fact that there are identifiable and correctable flaws in your arguments, some of which have been highlighted. Do, please correct such. And, do notice, I am not arguing to “prove” to you that the design view is right — scientific reasoning has been known to be inescapably provisional since the days of Newton — but that there is reasonable warrant for someone to hold such a view, and indeed it is superior to the Darwinist mechanisms on an inference to best current explanation in light of observational evidence basis.

  70. Jerad:

    We know mutations happen. We know selection happens. We extend that into the past.

    Mutations and selection are part of ID.

    We know design happens but requires an agent. We don’t know there was an agent around hundreds of millions of years ago.

    The DESIGN says there was an agency around. That is how it works.

    But that’s not what ID is saying. ID is saying: natural processes are incapable, design is so we should go with design. ID asserts it’s the best inference.

    AGAIN- natural processes only exist in nature and therefor cannot account for its origins, which science says it had.

    I’m sorry you chose not to answer my questions regarding evidence even though you claimed I had none.

    I am still waiting for YOU to produce some positive evidence for your position. As it stands you don’t even know how to test your position and can’t even produce a testable hypothesis for it.

    And again your position can refute ID just by stepping up and supporting its claims. Strange that no one can do so…

  71. KF,

    Even when you see synthesis of ribosomes, you cannot seem to make the connexion that this is a case of intelligent design, which points to the possibility of just such design of the cell, along with say the pattern of engineering of genes, the rise of nanotech and Venter’s startup of a living cell by manipulating components.

    I agree there is a possibility it was designed but I don’t think the case has been made yet.

    Similarly, something is blocking your ability to see that say the DNA-RNA-Ribosome mechanism is an instance of coded, digital, algorithmic process involving FSCO/I.

    I don’t believe I denied that. I don’t agree it required an agent to develop.

    In short asserting a weird sort of vitalism does not allow you to properly avoid the question of the known source of FSCO/I.

    I don’t think I evoked any kind of vitalism. I think FSCO/I can arise via the evolutionary process i so I would consider it a known source as well.

    As to the attempted turnabout on islands of function, that is actually inadvertently revealing. As we know from many many cases, functionally specific organisation and the need to get to correct configs is a common characteristic starting with writing sentences in English or codes in computers. The deleterious nature of the vast majority of mutations — and our fear of radioactivity — is a simple and revealing consequence.

    I’m not attempting a turnaround, I’m merely restating the evolution inference that all existing life forms are on the same ‘island’ of functionality. Again, I agree with you regarding inanimate objects. And obviously some mutations are deadly to their life forms. But some are not. I’m not sure what radioactivity has to do with it: until fairly recently humans had no way of detecting it or linking it to its effects.

    The fact that the actual fossil record is one of “sudden appearance,” stasis, and disappearance or continuity to the modern world, and so forth all point in the same way.

    As only a small fraction of all the life forms that ever existed have left fossils it’s going to have lots and lots of discontinuities. But absence of fossil is not evidence of absence of life forms. It’s just a lack of fossils.

    We can add how all OBSERVED variation is well within the body plan limit, with the note that the credible amount of fresh DNA info to get to a body plan is 100,000+ bits for first unicellular life and 10 -100+ mn bits for more complex body plans. Just 500 bits makes for a hopeless blind search on the gamut of the solar system, and 1,000, the observed cosmos. All of this has already been reviewed with you and has been insistently ignored or brushed aside without even a semblance of serious consideration of alternatives.

    You seem to think when I disagree with you that I haven’t heard. I know your argument, I just don’t find it compelling. In this case because evolutionary theory explains why it’s not necessary to do a blind search of a huge sample spaces for functional body forms. I don’t know why you continue to push that point. No ‘Darwinist’ is saying the body plans suddenly arose from nothing.

    And, you are setting a challenge you know has not been as yet met — ignoring the point of the evidence we do have in hand that points to the feasibility of intelligent design — while ignoring material components that are sufficient to warrant the conclusion.

    I agree intelligent design is feasible. But you haven’t proved the existence of a designer or offered any arguments regarding ‘his’ methods, motives or timing. ID, in its current state, lacks explanatory power and does not have multiple lines of supporting evidence.

    “extraordinary claims require extraordinary [adequate] evidence”; and adequacy is to be judged based on what we have reasonable access to, in light of the significance of the issue that forces a decision on what evidence we do have. If we do not face a forced, momentous choice across live options then informed agnosticism and presentation of strengths and limitations of schools of thought is more than good enough. Which BTW is Joe’s point that you are plainly missing.

    I’m happy to be agnostic about certain things. I’ve said as much about the OoL. But it seems to me ID is NOT being agnostic, it says natural processes are inadequate therefore design. At least some versions anyway.

    We are by no means forced by evidence to hold to an evo mat view so there is no reason to allow it to censor science praxis and publication, or sci edu, or personal worldviews. Indeed, given the wider logical, epistemological and ethical — thus civilisational — challenges of materialism, a prudent and informed thinker would steeply discount its credibility.

    I’m not trying to convert anyone or change their minds. I just thought some open and honest dialogue would be illuminative.

    In further defence of that, you are asserting that a patently inadequate mechanism is able to do what you wish to dismiss a known adequate mechanism as doing: create FSCO/I.

    I don’t dismiss intelligence. I just haven’t see proof one was around at the time. You’re willing to assume there was one. I’m not. We’ll just have to disagree on that point.

    I must return to the national crisis that will tip one way or another in the next 48 hours.

    Okay. Good luck!! I’ll be away from home for about a week starting in a couple of days anyway and probably won’t be able to contribute for a while.

    As to the insinuation that I have been belligerent in the teeth of civility, that is patently over the top

    If I insinuated that then I apologise.

    At some point, I did take time to speak to snide and smearing remarks at Anti Evo, in a context that celebrates your foray here as in effect an exercise in laughing up your sleeve.

    Nothing to do with me. I looked at the conversation when you linked to it but I do not participate on that blog.

    I do appreciate the fact that you have not been overtly abusive, but that does not change the fact that there are identifiable and correctable flaws in your arguments, some of which have been highlighted. Do, please correct such.

    Well, a lot of other people reason in a similar fashion to me so I kind of doubt I’ll chance anytime soon.

    I am not arguing to “prove” to you that the design view is right — scientific reasoning has been known to be inescapably provisional since the days of Newton — but that there is reasonable warrant for someone to hold such a view, and indeed it is superior to the Darwinist mechanisms on an inference to best current explanation in light of observational evidence basis.

    I just think the evidence supports Darwinism but I’m not ruling out design as an explanation.

  72. Joe,

    Mutations and selection are part of ID.

    Good!

    The DESIGN says there was an agency around. That is how it works.

    Most scientists disagree with you so it would behoove you get some more evidence. Multiple lines of evidence are always much, much stronger.

    AGAIN- natural processes only exist in nature and therefor cannot account for its origins, which science says it had.

    I don’t understand. We are limited to nature and natural processes since those are the only things we can limit and define.

    I am still waiting for YOU to produce some positive evidence for your position. As it stands you don’t even know how to test your position and can’t even produce a testable hypothesis for it.

    We’ll have to disagree about that.

    And again your position can refute ID just by stepping up and supporting its claims. Strange that no one can do so…

    Keep reading the peer reviewed research literature!!

  73. Jerad:

    Most scientists disagree with you so it would behoove you get some more evidence.

    Strange taht those scientists cannot support any other scenario. Perhaps it is they who need the evidence.

    We are limited to nature and natural processes since those are the only things we can limit and define.

    Science says that nature had a beginning. nature cannot account for the origin of nature. Natural processes, by definition, only exist in nature and tehrefor cannot account for its origin.

    And one of the three basic questions science asks is “how did it come to be this way?”.


    I am still waiting for YOU to produce some positive evidence for your position. As it stands you don’t even know how to test your position and can’t even produce a testable hypothesis for it.

    We’ll have to disagree about that.

    You can disagree all you want. The fact remains you cannot produce a testable hypothesis for your position.

    And I have read peer-reviewed literature, so has Drs Behe, Meyer, Dembski, Wells. Sermonti, Denton, etc.- there isn’t anything in peer-review that supports your position.

  74. Joe,

    I am still waiting for YOU to produce some positive evidence for your position. As it stands you don’t even know how to test your position and can’t even produce a testable hypothesis for it.

    You reject the fossil record, the genomic record, the biogeographic data, the morphological comparisons. When I’ve suggested Lenski’s work you’ve asked how I know if the mutations were random. And when I ask you for what you would accept as evidence you refuse to answer.

    For 150 years all the experiments, fossil discoveries AND genetic research have supported the Darwinian paradigm. I do know how to test my position: collect data, observe contemporary examples, look at the available life forms and their structures, examine the genomes. Look for contradictory data. Try to find out how the bacterial flagellum evolved. And the human immune system. Check everything. Keep looking. Turn over every stone.

    And, I’m sure, that you will just say: that’s not good enough. And you steadfastly refuse to answer any of the explanatory questions put to ID: when, how and why. Or to suggest ways it can be tested. Aside from arguing against Darwinism.

    Unless you will explain your own position more specifically and/or suggest ways I can account for mine then I think we’re reaching the end of our fruitful discussion. I am genuinely interested in your view but I’d like more specifics.

  75. Jerad

    ‘You reject the fossil record’

    Again Jerad, what do you think the ‘fossil record’ proves?

    The last time I discussed this with you, you threw in a few examples like ‘whale evolution’?

    And when I showed you evidence to the contrary, you wanted to direct me to something on Wikipedia, as if that would suffice.

    What exactly do you think the ‘fossil record’ proves, and how?

  76. If something as complex and fundamental as an atom can simply exist by chance, then why do we bother explaining biological complexity using evolutionary mechanisms? We could perhaps simply assume that such complexity “happened” by chance? That the first living cell just “happened” from a chance arrangements of parts, just as the atom simply “happened” by a chance arrangements of particles?

    In other words, what level (or type) of complexity is considered necessary for chance to be unable to explain it?

  77. Jerad:

    You reject the fossil record, the genomic record, the biogeographic data, the morphological comparisons.

    No, I do not reject them. I reject the claim that they support darwinism or neo-darwinism.

    Genetics does not support universal common descent via an accumulation of random mutations. Neither does the fossil record nor morphologocal comparisons.

    When I’ve suggested Lenski’s work you’ve asked how I know if the mutations were random.

    Umm Lenski’s work demonstrates severe limits to evolutionary processes. No new molecular machines were constructed.

    And true, you have no idea if the mutations were random.

    And when I ask you for what you would accept as evidence you refuse to answer.

    It all goes back to the origin of living organisms. If blind and undirected chemical processes can produce a living organism then I would have no reason to infer a designer designed living organisms to evolve.

    For 150 years all the experiments, fossil discoveries AND genetic research have supported the Darwinian paradigm.

    In what way? There are geneticists who disagree. there are developmental biologists who disagree. And the fossil record, well we still don’t have any idea HOW it was formed.

    There still isn’t one experiment that demonstrates that a prokaryote can evolve into something other than a prokaryote. IOW you are pretty much lying.

    I do know how to test my position: collect data, observe contemporary examples, look at the available life forms and their structures, examine the genomes.

    Genomes appear to be responsible for influencing traits. And being a human is not a trait, nor a collection of traits. BTW your “tests” also confirm a common DESIGN.

    And you steadfastly refuse to answer any of the explanatory questions put to ID: when, how and why.

    I told you- the ONLY way to answer those questions is by studying the design and all relevant evidence. And THAT is what ID is about- the DETECTION and STUDY of design in nature.

    That said you don’t have any idea how humans evolved from non-humans. Nor how whales evolved from non-whales. And “why” for you is “just because”.

    And if you want specifics then I suggest you dive into the pro-ID literature. read it and come back prepared to have a discussion.

  78. PeterJ,

    I think the fossil record illustrates universal common descent with modification like a photo album of your life . Not every moment is in the album although more are being discovered every day.

    The fossil record is just one line of evidence supporting evolutionary theory and is consistent with the other lines. It’s not complete, nor would it be sensible to expect to be complete. Only a small fraction of all the life forms that have ever existed became fossils.

    If we were just dependent on the fossil record then the theory of evolution would be much less well established. But adding fossils to the genetic data, morphological comparisons and the biogeographic distribution of species means the theory is on much firmer ground.

  79. Joe,

    Genetics does not support universal common descent via an accumulation of random mutations. Neither does the fossil record nor morphologocal comparisons.

    And you don’t think the combination of the above, along with the biogeographic data, supports evolution? Where is the contradiction with the theory?

    Umm Lenski’s work demonstrates severe limits to evolutionary processes. No new molecular machines were constructed.

    And true, you have no idea if the mutations were random.

    Mutations have never been shown to occur in anything other than a random pattern so why would you think they are not random?

    Lenski’s work showed that new characteristics can arise without an agent.

    It all goes back to the origin of living organisms. If blind and undirected chemical processes can produce a living organism then I would have no reason to infer a designer designed living organisms to evolve.

    You said it was okay to say: we don’t know. Why not just say we don’t know how life arose and leave it at that? Why hypothesise a designer when there is no other evidence one existed?

    In what way? There are geneticists who disagree. there are developmental biologists who disagree. And the fossil record, well we still don’t have any idea HOW it was formed.

    There still isn’t one experiment that demonstrates that a prokaryote can evolve into something other than a prokaryote. IOW you are pretty much lying.

    Sure, there are dissenters. But the VAST majority of biologists and geneticists concur.

    We don’t have any idea how the fossil record was formed? I assume you mean we don’t have any idea of how the various species were formed. Which I assume is just another way of saying you don’t believe in evolutionary theory.

    I’ll leave the lying accusation alone I think.

    Genomes appear to be responsible for influencing traits. And being a human is not a trait, nor a collection of traits. BTW your “tests” also confirm a common DESIGN.

    Using modern molecular procedures we can give life forms traits they didn’t have before. Why would you think that genomes don’t also contain all the information necessary to produce a whole body plan? You talk about there being additional programming somewhere but you can’t say where.

    Depending on what traits you ascribe to the designer just about anything can be construed as being consistent with a designer. The fossil record seems to indicate that the designer is/was a bit of a tinkerer, having to constantly tweak and experiment with life forms, letting old models go extinct. The genomic record seems to indicate a designer that is pretty sloppy: lots of broken genes, huge number of repeated segments that vary from individual to individual, ERVs, pseudo-genes, huge variations in genome sizes and number of chromosomes from species to species. The biogeographic record seems to indicate a designer that experimented with different but similar life forms in different areas of the globe for some reason.

    That said you don’t have any idea how humans evolved from non-humans. Nor how whales evolved from non-whales. And “why” for you is “just because”.

    I do have an idea, not one you accept, granted. But how is ID NOT ‘just because’? You hypothesise a designer which is mysteriously capable of all the evidence without leaving any contraflow indications. No labs, no written records, nothing. And no evidence of motivation or intent.

    And if you want specifics then I suggest you dive into the pro-ID literature. read it and come back prepared to have a discussion.

    Well, I haven’t been able to find out where in the ID literature the how, why and where questions are answered. Nor has anyone been able to point me to pertinent books or papers. And few people on this forum are willing to discuss the topics.

  80. Jerad:

    And you don’t think the combination of the above, along with the biogeographic data, supports evolution?

    What “evolution”? We have blind watchmaker evolution, Intelligent Design evolution and front-loaded evolution. Which one does the data support and why?

    Mutations have never been shown to occur in anything other than a random pattern so why would you think they are not random?

    Only ignorance says mutations are random. Ever look at the 1s and 0s on a computer bus? I have and they sure look random!

    Lenski’s work showed that new characteristics can arise without an agent.

    You have absolutely no clue, do you? ID does not require an agent to make the changes.

    You said it was okay to say: we don’t know.

    Yes it is but we do NOT teach the kids that, do we? We teach them that accumulations of random mutations didit- IOW the kids are lied to.

    Why not just say we don’t know how life arose and leave it at that?

    We should but we don’t.

    Why hypothesise a designer when there is no other evidence one existed?

    There is plenty of evidence for a designer. However there isn’t any evidence that blind and undirected processes can construct anything, never miond a universe and living organisms.

    Also how living organisms origininated directly impacts any subsequent evolution.

    Sure, there are dissenters. But the VAST majority of biologists and geneticists concur.

    Strange how that alleged vast majority cannot support their position.

    We don’t have any idea how the fossil record was formed?

    No, we don’t. Was it via cataclysms or gradual processes? No one knows.

    Using modern molecular procedures we can give life forms traits they didn’t have before.

    So what? That does not support your position. It does support ID.

    Why would you think that genomes don’t also contain all the information necessary to produce a whole body plan?

    We cannot take the genome of one organism and put it into the egg of a totally different organism and get an organism to develop that resembles the DNA donor.

    You hypothesise a designer which is mysteriously capable of all the evidence without leaving any contraflow indications.

    That is false. ID never said the designer designed everything. Also there is plenty of couterflow- you just do not know how to investigate.

    And again your position has the power yet it cannot even blow its nose.

    And no evidence of motivation or intent.

    Strange the “The Privileged Planet” says the intent was to design a universe for scientific discovery. IOW your ignorance is still showing.

    Well, I haven’t been able to find out where in the ID literature the how, why and where questions are answered.

    Again with the ignorance.

    One more time for the learning impaired:

    ID is about the detection and study of design in nature. That is it.

    Just as the theory of evolution keeps the origin of life a separate question, even though how life arose determines how it evolved, ID is allowed to keep the how, why, when and where separate from the detection and study of. Ya see real investigators undrstand that the only way to answer your questions is by first detecting and then studying.

    IOW Jerad, you appear to be ignorant of how science operates.

    As for your evidence for universal common descent:

    It’s amazing how thinking on evolution has shifted since I started following the subject in the 1980s. Today’s biologists clearly have realized that evolutionary theory must be revised to avoid conflict with genomic data, and yet they are very reluctant to say that the problems forcing the change are deep problems.- Doug Axe

    The alleged “tree of life” does not exist. Go figure…

  81. Joe,

    What “evolution”? We have blind watchmaker evolution, Intelligent Design evolution and front-loaded evolution. Which one does the data support and why?

    Universal common descent with modification evolution.

    Only ignorance says mutations are random. Ever look at the 1s and 0s on a computer bus? I have and they sure look random!

    There are mathematical definitions and ways to measure/check randomness.

    You have absolutely no clue, do you? ID does not require an agent to make the changes.

    I guess you are implying some kind of front-loading then. Which you’ve indicated before but haven’t been able to show a way the information is stored or input (which does require an agent) into a cell for example.

    Yes it is but we do NOT teach the kids that, do we? We teach them that accumulations of random mutations didit- IOW the kids are lied to.

    Mutations filtered by non-random accumulated selection.

    Also how living organisms origininated directly impacts any subsequent evolution.

    If you believe in front loading then I agree.

    No, we don’t. Was it via cataclysms or gradual processes? No one knows.

    I guess you don’t agree with the dating methods either then.

    That is false. ID never said the designer designed everything. Also there is plenty of couterflow- you just do not know how to investigate.

    What did the designer do then? Where is the ‘couterflow’?

    Strange the “The Privileged Planet” says the intent was to design a universe for scientific discovery. IOW your ignorance is still showing.

    Most physicists think The Privileged Planet is bunk.

    ID is about the detection and study of design in nature. That is it.

    Just as the theory of evolution keeps the origin of life a separate question, even though how life arose determines how it evolved, ID is allowed to keep the how, why, when and where separate from the detection and study of. Ya see real investigators undrstand that the only way to answer your questions is by first detecting and then studying.

    IOW Jerad, you appear to be ignorant of how science operates.

    The origin of life is a separate issue from speciation because it’s a different process not because science isn’t interested in studying it.

    If I saw ID proponents working on detecting and studying design I might be more patient. Aside from Dr Dembski’s explanatory filter (which no one seems to actually use) and a few example of supposed irreducible complexity how is design being detected and studied?

    The alleged “tree of life” does not exist. Go figure…

    Wait and see . . .

  82. Jerad:

    Universal common descent with modification evolution.

    So equivocating evolution, got it.

    Seeing there isn’t any evidence that a prokaryote can evolve into something other than a prokaryote your position is out of luck.

    There are mathematical definitions and ways to measure/check randomness.

    I doubt it. Apply them to the 1s and 0s on a computer bus and see what you get.

    Mutations filtered by non-random accumulated selection.

    OK stop right there- there is no such thing as non-random accumulated selection.

    Ya see natural selection is a RESULT of three processes, each is either entirely random (the variation) or has a random component.

    So please present evidence for your claim or admit that you are fooled by the propaganda.

    Most physicists think The Privileged Planet is bunk.

    Again those physicists cannot support any other position. So they can pound sand.

    The origin of life is a separate issue from speciation because it’s a different process not because science isn’t interested in studying it.

    How living organisms originated directly impacts anty subsequent evolution. If living organisms were designed then so was evolution- evolution by design/ designed to evolve.

    If I saw ID proponents working on detecting and studying design I might be more patient.

    LoL! No one can find any evos working on their scenario. But I digress, most IDists are working on that- read “Signature in the Cell” and “The Privileged Planet”.

    And if we had the resources- universities and students- that evos have we would be further along. But we are very limited and do what we can.

    And what am I supposed to wait and see?

    The tree of life has already been refuted by evolutionary biologists…

  83. Joe,

    There are mathematical definitions and ways to measure/check randomness.

    I doubt it. Apply them to the 1s and 0s on a computer bus and see what you get.

    Joe, seriously, you need to get some mathematical tutoring. I’m really not kidding. Ask Kairosfocus. Seriously.

    OK stop right there- there is no such thing as non-random accumulated selection.

    Ya see natural selection is a RESULT of three processes, each is either entirely random (the variation) or has a random component.

    So please present evidence for your claim or admit that you are fooled by the propaganda.

    Natural selection is the sum of environmental pressures. Hardly random.

    I will stop presenting what a LARGE majority of scientists consider evidence since you seem to think you can just claim it isn’t. AND refuse to elucidate what you do consider evidence. I’m beginning to doubt you are entering into this conversation on good faith.

    Again those physicists cannot support any other position. So they can pound sand.

    Nice scientific argument there. Too bad you chose NOT to address the objections to a designed universe but instead to resort to: they are wrong. Are you sure YOU understand how science works?

    How living organisms originated directly impacts anty subsequent evolution. If living organisms were designed then so was evolution- evolution by design/ designed to evolve.

    Again, if you’re making a front-loading argument then spell it out.

    LoL! No one can find any evos working on their scenario.

    Joe, sorry but you really are not connecting here.

    But I digress, most IDists are working on that- read “Signature in the Cell” and “The Privileged Planet”.

    Those books are not research tomes. Nor do those two authors represent ‘most’ IDists. C’mon Joe! Where is the real research?

    And if we had the resources- universities and students- that evos have we would be further along. But we are very limited and do what we can.

    I understand that and I realise that is an issue. But you can still say where you think research should be focused. And you can ask organisations like The Templeton Foundation for funds and support. There IS money out there. You should seek it out.

    I’m going to be away for a week or more. Sorry about that. It doesn’t mean I’m running away from the discussion. I’ll be back . . . .

  84. @Jerad
    ” address the objections to a designed universe”

    But you didnt present any scientific objections to a designed universe. You said physicists think it is bunk. Not much of a scientific argument. The usual response from skeptic physicists is,”well if the universe wasnt the way it is, then we wouldnt be here to talk about it, therefore we shouldnt be surprised it seems fine tuned.”
    But of course thats not a good counter argument at all. By analogy, Suppose that someone is sentenced to death by a firing squad. 20 expert marksmen are getting ready to shoot him and they put a blindfold on the man. He hears them shouting,”Ready, Set, Fire!” and hears the roar of the guns shooting at him. The firing squad cease fire and the man finds that he is still alive without a single bullet wound. He is set free and his family asks him how it is that they all missed . Would it make much sense for him to say,” Oh, Im not surprised. If they hadnt missed then I wouldnt be here to talk about it. No explanation is needed.”

    But of course thats not an explanation at all. We want to know why it is that he escaped without injury. He should have died and the odds against him were astronimical. The scenario requires an explanation as to why none of the expert marksmen managed to kill him. No one would take seriously the response of the man that no explanation is needed. But that is essentially what physicists who rely on the anthropic principle are doing. An explanation is needed as for why there is fine tuning in nature since a universe that is non life permitting is astronomically more likey than one that is.

  85. Jerad:

    Natural selection is the sum of environmental pressures. Hardly random.

    Wrong:

    “Natural selection is the result of differences in survival and reproduction among individuals of a population that vary in one or more heritable traits.” Page 11 “Biology: Concepts and Applications” Starr fifth edition

    “Natural selection is the simple result of variation, differential reproduction, and heredity—it is mindless and mechanistic.” UBerkley

    Jerad:

    Too bad you chose NOT to address the objections to a designed universe

    What objections? And what science do your scientists have to support their position?

    BTW “Signature in the Cell” is a research tome in the same way Crick and Watson did their research to elucidate the structure of DNA. Buit then again you don’t seem to be aware of how science operates.

    BTW resources are more than just money- your position has all the resources and still no answers…

  86. 86

    Would you accept the symbolic control over protein synthesis as an artifact of design?

    Clearly highly technical data left in some readable form would be indications of an advanced intelligence and/or life forms depending on the way the ‘evidence’ was left.

    I think that DNA is not designed.

    I think the process of self-replication with modifications can generate the DNA molecule and it’s functionality.

    And Darwinian evolution depends on that system having already been established. How it got establish I put in the OoL camp which I’m not addressing.

    I believe that once that system is established then all you need are natural unguided processes.

    I believe there is no need for the design inference. That the existing natural processes are adequate.

    I do not accept symbolic control over protein synthesis as handled by DNA as an artifact of design.

  87. 87
  88. Folks:

    Pardon a for record.

    First, there is abundant reason to reflect on the evident fine tuning of the cosmos leading to a habitation for life. That starts with a physics that makes H, He, C & O the top four elements, with N close. H — stars, He — other elements, C & O resonance — the foundation for organic chemistry and for water. The properties of water alone are a study in elegant design rooted in the core physics of the cosmos. That is before we get to a cosmos fine tuned to the level of one grain of sand to the mass of visible matter in the observable universe.

    Next, it is revealing to observe with UB just above at 85, how many times J resorts to a blend of credulity in favour of his/her views, and selective hyperskepticism on alternatives. There seems to be a failure to recognise that on the unobserved deep past of origins, Newton long ago aptly summed up the inductive logic issue we have to face:

    Rule II [[--> uniformity of causes: "like forces cause like effects"]

    Therefore to the same natural effects we must, as far as possible, assign the same causes.

    As to respiration in a man and in a beast; the descent of stones in Europe and in America; the light of our culinary fire and of the sun; the reflection of light in the earth, and in the planets.

    Rule III [[--> confident universality]

    The qualities of bodies, which admit neither intensification nor remission of degrees, and which are found to belong to all bodies within the reach of our experiments, are to be esteemed the universal qualities of all bodies whatsoever.

    For since the qualities of bodies are only known to us by experiments, we are to hold for universal all such as universally agree with experiments; and such as are not liable to diminution can never be quite taken away. We are certainly not to relinquish the evidence of experiments for the sake of dreams and vain fictions of our own devising

    And BTW, his point obviously still stands, attempts to dismiss Newton by the “telling the truth by the clock” fallacy don’t cut it. We cannot directly observe the deep past of origins as is commonly put forth, no more than we can directly observe the circumstances of remote stars and solar systems.

    So, Newton’s reasoning in his set of rules still obtains on that.

    In effect we can only see signs and traces, so we are forced to infer on the known causal forces that account for such. Whether or not J likes to acknowledge it, the only observed adequate cause of FSCO/I is design; something that is routinely and abundantly observed. And, the monkeys at keyboards or needle in haystack search challenges multiplied by the requisites of well-matched, properly arranged and fitted together parts to get function, tell us why: islands of function in oceans of non-function.

    That digital, symbolic code systems, algorithms that use the codes and associated properly organised, molecular nanotech implementing machinery should arise by chance and blind chemistry forces in some prebiotic soup or other is so maximally implausible that the reasonable man would steeply discount a view that has to start there. We know the signs, and we know the adequate causes for such — the ONLY observed adequate causes, and the needle in haystack challenge tells us that such should be unobservable on the gamut of our observed cosmos. The ONLY observed cosmos.

    All else to make this seem plausible is little more than materialistic just so stories to prop up an a priori adopted for worldview and cultural agenda reasons, per Lewontin’s admissions. (Which are abundantly backed up by ever so many others in so many ways.)

    BTW, J has said repeatedly that Darwin did not address OOL. This is an error. While he played the “creator” card as a sop at the end of Origin, at a later time when he would obviously have known that at least one Victorian style “Life and Letters of . . . ” was in the offing, he made his warm little pond speculation in a well known letter that became the basis for sparking OOL studies. He plainly intended that as part of his legacy. (And Anti-Evo denizens et al, kindly cf here on on his motives and rhetorical strategies, in yet another of his letters. He is indeed the father of today’s intellectual climate, and that is exactly what he intended.)

    J also asserts, in 42 above: I believe there is no need for the design inference. That the existing natural processes are adequate.

    “Credo . . . ”

    Let us ask, on what empirical and analytical basis does J infer the reasonableness of that belief and the adequacy of blind chance and/or blind necessity to account for functionally specific complex organisation and associated information? ANS: Nil. This is simply a statement of the materialist creed.

    Faith, faith in a highly speculative hypothesis not backed up by the sort of empirical warrant that would be required. Faith, imposed as a censoring criterion on evaluating the signs and traces from the past, and insisted on in the teeth of the only observed, adequate cause for FSCO/I. In short, an imposition of a speculative metaphysical speculation and/or ideological agenda of materialism on what the empirically based reasoning would otherwise infer.

    (And BTW, Anti-Evo habituees et al who want to dismiss this as an ill-defined concept, kindly note that this concept and its various terms trace to the remarks of OOL investigators — specifically Orgel and Wicken — as long ago as the 1970′s confronting the difference between mechanical order, chance based random disorder, and functionally specific, complex organisation. If you want to go back to the Mathgrrl sock puppet card, kindly note that this can be given reasonable mathematical formulation in several ways, with this one as a simple example: Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold.)

    Similarly, in 42 again, J asserts: natural processes cannot do all things. But they can handle all observed and inferred evolutionary events.

    This is again ill-founded speculation, imposed as a credo. There is simply no observational evidence of chance variation and differential reproductive success as mechanism at work that body plans can and do originate by such means. This is impose3d by locking out credible alternatives and then presenting grossly extrapolated minor variations mostly traceable to LOSS of info, to be the vaunted cause of the world of life.

    That is why Johnson’s rebuke to Lewontin et al is so sadly apt:

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

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

    Newton’s warning against speculative hypotheses imposed on empirically anchored induction is all too relevant.

    Now, this is actually the heart of the issue, what happens thereafter in the thread is going in circles around the same controlling materialistic credos.

    When we get to:

    KairosFocus insists that there are islands of functionality that natural processes cannot bridge so a designer is required to create new body plans. Such intervention would be a discontinuity in natural law . . .

    Notice, the dismissive peronalisation of a matter that pivots on what the facts warrant? Notice, too the substitution of “cannot,” as opposed to the issue that we have on induction from a massive body of evidence, that the observed, general pattern of the world is that FSCO/I is produced by intelligent action and that the analytical evidence shows that once we cross the 500 – 1,000 bit threshold, we are looking at search challenges that would make us only confident of sampling the bulk of a distribution, on a blind basis? Notice, thirdly, the refusal to take seriously the implications of well-matched, properly arranged and connected then co-ordinated parts to achieve complex function, namely that not any and every arrangement would do and that a blind search will be maximally unlikely to hit on what works?

    That is, we are here seeing an ideologically driven dismissal of the evidence, not an account of the observed fact that chance plus necessity is in our observation adequate to account for body plans.

    And as for the well inanimate things are different rebuttal point, from Paley on (Cf my new post here), it has been pointed out that to get to self-replication, we are looking at a further increment of FSCO/I to account for, at the root of the proposed Darwinist tree of life. A position where, unless we want to beg the question, self replication was not in action. In the still warm little pond or the modern equivalents, we have to deal directly with the direct comparison of FSCO/I in watches, cars, computers or even text, and that same FSCO/I in proto-life to get to self-replication.

    The reasonable man will conclude that the best account for it there is design, per the observed adequate cause.

    And, thereafter, it is most reasonable to see that design would account for the further increments to explain fresh islands of function for the various body plans or morphologies of multicellular life forms from fungi and sponges to acorn worms, trees, cabbages, bats and us. In that context, Darwinian/Blythian mechanisms will — per empirical observation — be seen as mechanisms for robust adaptation (within limits).

    As to how tweredun, the evidence of Venter et al shows us that genetic and somatic engineering based on molecular nanotech is plainly feasible just not fully achieved yet. Similarly, for 60+ years, we have had the von Neumann self replicator analysis to show how an information system with a constructor facility can achieve kinematic self replication. The recent case of engineering ribosomes, simply is a part of that progress to engineer new life within the next 100 years. The trend is obvious.

    And on the later rounds of comments, the possibility of design at OOL etc means that we cannot use a priori materialism to censor this out of the evaluation of best explanations. In short, the evidence that FSCO/I is a sign of design should be allowed to speak for itself.

    J’s inference that the DNA-RNA ribosome mechanism is achievable by chance and necessity is a case of imposed ideologically motivated speculation, not evidence. What evidence does s/he have? NIL. What is the evidence on the origin of codes, languages to found such, algorithms, and properly arranged execution machines? They are universally observed as the product of design, and indeed are a major case in point on how FSCO/I is a reliable sign of design.

    The dismissal — pardon directness — is not on evidence, but on selective hyperskepticism, joined to “credo.”

    It is worth clipping from 71: I don’t think I evoked any kind of vitalism. I think FSCO/I can arise via the evolutionary process i so I would consider it a known source as well.

    First, the weird sort of vitalism I pointed out was the repeated un-evidenced assertion of a radical difference between known observed cases and the magic of evolutionary life as imagined. In that context, notice “I think . . . ” not, per the following observed cases, FSCO/I arises by chance plus necessity without intelligence. Newton is right: we must not allow metaphysical impositions to suppress the evidence of careful and broad based observation.

    Here, that FSCO/I in our experience is the product of intelligence.

    In that context, J insists: I’m merely restating the evolution inference that all existing life forms are on the same ‘island’ of functionality

    What is the observed evidence for that? NIL.

    And, when confronted by the evidence pointing to the general and specific reasons why there is good reason to see that life forms, from protein fold domains to major body plans and various specific key adaptations like the avian lung and wings with flight feathers etc are concerned, we find more of the same: credo, plus I dismiss. In particular, it is interesting to see how the notion that fossils are going to be scarce and unrepresentative is brought out in hoped for support: only a small fraction of all the life forms that ever existed have left fossils it’s going to have lots and lots of discontinuities

    Problem is, while Darwin could hope for that 150 years ago, this is no longer reasonable. There are over 1/4 million fossil species, and billions of fossils from all over the world. The sample — for any reasonable person — will be more than adequate to account for the dominant patterns of the fossil record. That is why Gould’s summary in his The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (2002) — a summary that has not materially changed since and has been admitted on the record by him and others since at least the 1970′s — is so telling against this argument from absence of evidence:

    . . . long term stasis following geologically abrupt origin of most fossil morphospecies, has always been recognized by professional paleontologists. [[p. 752.]

    . . . . The great majority of species do not show any appreciable evolutionary change at all. These species appear in the section [[first occurrence] without obvious ancestors in the underlying beds, are stable once established and disappear higher up without leaving any descendants.” [[p. 753.]

    . . . . proclamations for the supposed ‘truth’ of gradualism – asserted against every working paleontologist’s knowledge of its rarity – emerged largely from such a restriction of attention to exceedingly rare cases under the false belief that they alone provided a record of evolution at all! The falsification of most ‘textbook classics’ upon restudy only accentuates the fallacy of the ‘case study’ method and its root in prior expectation rather than objective reading of the fossil record. [[p. 773.]

    Indeed, it is that persistent pattern of sudden appearance, stasis and disappearance and/or continuity into today’s world that led to the rise of punctuated equilibria.

    The bottom line is plain, what we are dealing with is ideology not unfettered inference on empirical evidence.

    KF

  89. kuartus,

    But you didnt present any scientific objections to a designed universe. You said physicists think it is bunk. Not much of a scientific argument. The usual response from skeptic physicists is,”well if the universe wasnt the way it is, then we wouldnt be here to talk about it, therefore we shouldnt be surprised it seems fine tuned.”
    But of course thats not a good counter argument at all. By analogy, Suppose that someone is sentenced to death by a firing squad. 20 expert marksmen are getting ready to shoot him and they put a blindfold on the man. He hears them shouting,”Ready, Set, Fire!” and hears the roar of the guns shooting at him. The firing squad cease fire and the man finds that he is still alive without a single bullet wound. He is set free and his family asks him how it is that they all missed . Would it make much sense for him to say,” Oh, Im not surprised. If they hadnt missed then I wouldnt be here to talk about it. No explanation is needed.”

    I wasn’t trying to present an argument against fine tuning of the universe, only to say that it’s not generally accepted. There are plenty of arguments against the notion but I’m not going to delve into them purely because I’m less familiar with the science.

  90. Joe,

    BTW “Signature in the Cell” is a research tome in the same way Crick and Watson did their research to elucidate the structure of DNA. Buit then again you don’t seem to be aware of how science operates.

    Well, not really. Crick and Watson published their research in an academic journal. Dr Meyer is presenting a compendium of research done by other people. He is NOT doing research, clearly.

  91. Upright BiPed,

    I’m sorry if I’ve confused or disappointed you. Or been unclear.

  92. kf,

    First, there is abundant reason to reflect on the evident fine tuning of the cosmos leading to a habitation for life. That starts with a physics that makes H, He, C & O the top four elements, with N close. H — stars, He — other elements, C & O resonance — the foundation for organic chemistry and for water. The properties of water alone are a study in elegant design rooted in the core physics of the cosmos. That is before we get to a cosmos fine tuned to the level of one grain of sand to the mass of visible matter in the observable universe.

    But, how do you know that slightly different settings of the ‘physics’ wouldn’t have led to other kinds of life who might have also claimed the universe is fine tuned for them? AND how do you know the ‘physics’ is allowed to be tuned in the first place?

    I’m not convinced we can look at the whole universe as being designed for our existence and benefit. Aside from the fact that most of the universe seems to be hostile to our existence I don’t think a species-centric view is right. For example: why isn’t the universe fine tuned for bacteria? OR: if the universe is fine tuned for us then why will our sun eventually go nova and kill all life on earth?

    And BTW, his point obviously still stands, attempts to dismiss Newton by the “telling the truth by the clock” fallacy don’t cut it. We cannot directly observe the deep past of origins as is commonly put forth, no more than we can directly observe the circumstances of remote stars and solar systems.

    So, Newton’s reasoning in his set of rules still obtains on that.

    We cannot directly observe the past but we can infer aspects of it from the physical evidence left. If you’re advocating abandonment of historical sciences then we’re back to the middle ages when ‘truth’ was established by argumentation alone. How far back in the past are you willing to allow us to access? When there are eyewitness accounts? How do you know when they are reliable?

    In effect we can only see signs and traces, so we are forced to infer on the known causal forces that account for such. Whether or not J likes to acknowledge it, the only observed adequate cause of FSCO/I is design; something that is routinely and abundantly observed. And, the monkeys at keyboards or needle in haystack search challenges multiplied by the requisites of well-matched, properly arranged and fitted together parts to get function, tell us why: islands of function in oceans of non-function.

    So we CAN infer! Good.

    I am only inferring observed and existing causes to explain the past. You are inferring a designer when there is no independent physical evidence of such a designer. No contraflow. No labs, written records, drawings, etc.

    My explanation invokes no new processes. Your’s does. For that reason I find my reasoning more parsimonious.

    BTW, J has said repeatedly that Darwin did not address OOL. This is an error. While he played the “creator” card as a sop at the end of Origin, at a later time when he would obviously have known that at least one Victorian style “Life and Letters of . . . ” was in the offing, he made his warm little pond speculation in a well known letter that became the basis for sparking OOL studies. He plainly intended that as part of his legacy. (And Anti-Evo denizens et al, kindly cf here on on his motives and rhetorical strategies, in yet another of his letters. He is indeed the father of today’s intellectual climate, and that is exactly what he intended.)

    I don’t remember what I said exactly but I consider OoL to be a separate issue which I tend to avoid since I’m less conversant with the research and science.

    Why does your perception of Darwin’s intentions matter? He speculated, so what? Why take that speculation seriously? You seem to think that we hang on Darwin’s every word. Like Newton, he’s just a pretty smart guy who got a lot right. Doesn’t mean he’s the final word.

    Let us ask, on what empirical and analytical basis does J infer the reasonableness of that belief and the adequacy of blind chance and/or blind necessity to account for functionally specific complex organisation and associated information? ANS: Nil. This is simply a statement of the materialist creed.

    Faith, faith in a highly speculative hypothesis not backed up by the sort of empirical warrant that would be required. Faith, imposed as a censoring criterion on evaluating the signs and traces from the past, and insisted on in the teeth of the only observed, adequate cause for FSCO/I. In short, an imposition of a speculative metaphysical speculation and/or ideological agenda of materialism on what the empirically based reasoning would otherwise infer.

    But don’t you have faith that there was a designer around at the time capable of whatever it is (and it’s very hard to discern what it is that is being claimed for the designer) the designer is supposed to have done. You want to logic your way to a designer based on our limited perception about the creation of functionally complex specified information. Our experience is limited, your interpretation could be flawed.

    Notice, too the substitution of “cannot,” as opposed to the issue that we have on induction from a massive body of evidence, that the observed, general pattern of the world is that FSCO/I is produced by intelligent action and that the analytical evidence shows that once we cross the 500 – 1,000 bit threshold, we are looking at search challenges that would make us only confident of sampling the bulk of a distribution, on a blind basis? Notice, thirdly, the refusal to take seriously the implications of well-matched, properly arranged and connected then co-ordinated parts to achieve complex function, namely that not any and every arrangement would do and that a blind search will be maximally unlikely to hit on what works?

    Again, I agree with you regarding non-living systems. And, again, no biologist is saying that body plans arise out of nothing. There is no need to perform a blind search on the entire sample space!! KF, you continue to make this argument when evolutionary theory is saying that new body plans arise, gradually, step-by-step from previous body plans. I know you are convinced by your reasoning but you are attacking a non-existent paradigm.

    In that context, J insists: I’m merely restating the evolution inference that all existing life forms are on the same ‘island’ of functionality

    What is the observed evidence for that? NIL.

    The observed evidence is the variation that experimentation and breading have introduced into lifeforms in the last 10,000 years. And, parsimoniously, extrapolating the processes WITHOUT assuming any other forces or causes. And the morphological, genetic, biogeographic and fossil evidence are all in agreement with that model.

  93. Jerad:

    I note on several points where — pardon directness — I think some self-corrective homework is needed on your part.

    First, the impact of many suggested slight changes in initial circumstances, laws etc would be a cosmos radically inhospitable to life as we know it. Indeed, in some cases, there would be nothing but H, or there would be no galaxies, etc etc etc. Let me pick the C-O resonance issue highlighted by Hoyle, which is linked to the odd fact that the first four elements in our cosmos are H, He, C & O with N coming in close to 5, i.e. we see the ingredients of life being built in for the cosmos:

    From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. [F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.]

    There is much more than that out there on the subject, and snappy talking point quips are not enough to deal with them seriously.

    So, n, I do not appreciate your putting words into my mouth that do not belong there, the argument is about a cosmos habitable for life being on an evident finely tuned balance, in many ways. Address that evidence, not caricatures that play to the uncivil gallery at Anti Evo et al by appealing to the evo mat prejudices of our day.

    Do, please familiarise yourself with the basic issues before further remarkig on the subject.

    This is a useful start-point [note the onward reading], cf. this too — starts at much more basic level [pause to view key vids], and this highlights John Leslie’s fly swatting bullet discussion as well as the issue of convergent fine tuning whereby a single value is multiply pinned to work but is otherwise evidently contingent.

    These are matters that have been discussed at serious level for decades in serious contexts, they are not going to be brushed aside with a quip from one of the dismissive evo mat ideological talking point shops.

    Similarly, you are far too intelligent and informed to be resorting to notions like I have dismissed proper, empirically warranted inference, or to want to raise again the demand for separate evidence of a designer because you do not wish to accept that of tested, reliable sign.

    FYI, you have adequate evidence of design in hand, per tested empirically and analytically warranted sigh. Willful obtuseness in the teeth of adequate evidence is not a sign of epistemic health but of selective hyperskepticism. The inconsistency in your standards of warrant, whereby you would dismiss something that is empirically and analytically warranted, for a proposed mechanism that is not, should give you serious pause. Again, what is your EMPIRICAL, OBSERVATIONAL evidence that a self-replicating metabolising entitty can spontaneously come to be in some warm little pond or the like? Or, that major body plan structures and key adaptations like the avian lung or wing can and do originate by chance variation and differential reproductive success without intelligent direction?

    Trying to raise the ghost of the Middle Ages does not cut it, either.

    The truth is not told by the clock, and the relevant ancient references I have made are to PLATO, 360 BC, not the friendly local Inquisition office or to scriptural/theological warrant. Plato, plainly not a Bible-thumping theocrat, was highlighting the issue of causal factors on chance, necessity and ART. That is, this is a discussion that you know or should know is in the context of inductive logic on signs, and that logic is antecedent — as first principles of right reason — to reasoned discourse, including empirically based reasoned discourse.

    By now you should note that in this context to advert to the middle ages is loaded and tendentious. I suggest you read here, from Pearcey, as a corrective to the rationalist talking points we imbibe from our culture.

    (FYFI, the common attempt to now discuss on the dichotomy natural vs supernatural is a strawman. Nature — chance + necessity, and ART — self-moved, purposeful intelligence do leave characteristic traces that can be studied empirically and inferred from on signs.)

    G’day

    KF

  94. KF,

    So, n, I do not appreciate your putting words into my mouth that do not belong there, the argument is about a cosmos habitable for life being on an evident finely tuned balance, in many ways. Address that evidence, not caricatures that play to the uncivil gallery at Anti Evo et al by appealing to the evo mat prejudices of our day.

    Do, please familiarise yourself with the basic issues before further remarkig on the subject.

    I will let the matter drop until I have more expertise. But I do not participate in the Anti-Evo blog and have only looked at it once when you linked to it. If you have a problem with them I suggest you take it up with them and leave me out of it.

    Again, what is your EMPIRICAL, OBSERVATIONAL evidence that a self-replicating metabolising entitty can spontaneously come to be in some warm little pond or the like? Or, that major body plan structures and key adaptations like the avian lung or wing can and do originate by chance variation and differential reproductive success without intelligent direction?

    As I’ve said, I’m staying away from OoL questions. Clearly there is no observatonal evidence for some evolutionary achievements. But there is inference to known AND OBSERVED processes. There is no observed or emperical evidence that there was an agent available to . . . . what is it that ID is claiming the designer did anyway? I can’t get anyone to address this issue.

    In its current state ID lacks explanatory power and evidence. I do not rule out design as a possible paradigm but until someone can establish that there was a designer with the necessary skill and intellect around at the time AND offer up at least a suggestion of how and why and when designs were implemented then I will continue to see the evolutionary model as being ‘better’.

  95. Jerad,

    Meyer used the SAME researcvh techniques as Watson and Crick- you do know that Watson and Crick relied on other people’s work to reach their conclusion- that they didn’t do any original research…

    BTW in its current state ID has plenty of evidence and plenty of explanatory power.

    However your position still has neither.

  96. Joe @ 95

    JERAD: I do not rule out design as a possible paradigm but until someone can establish that there was a designer with the necessary skill and intellect around at the time AND offer up at least a suggestion of how and why and when designs were implemented then I will continue to see the evolutionary model as being ‘better’.

    JOE: BTW in its current state ID has plenty of evidence and plenty of explanatory power.

    So what is the ID theory for how the intelligent designs were actually implemented?

    Without that theory, your position doesn’t have anywhere near enough explanatory power to warrant taking seriously.

    Cheers

  97. Joe,

    Meyer used the SAME researcvh techniques as Watson and Crick- you do know that Watson and Crick relied on other people’s work to reach their conclusion- that they didn’t do any original research

    Well, let’s see if Dr Meyer wins the Nobel prize then.

    BTW in its current state ID has plenty of evidence and plenty of explanatory power.

    Great. You should be able to answer CLAVDIVS’ question then. Last time I got you to address the how and when questions you said more work needed to be done. Are you saying now that isn’t necessary?

    However your position still has neither.

    What is your alternative that addresses the how, when and why questions?

  98. Jerad-

    Your position has no clue as to how nor when, and forget the why.

    But anyway it is obvious that you don’t have a clue about ID and want to force it into a strawman.

  99. CLAVDIVS:

    So what is the ID theory for how the intelligent designs were actually implemented?

    LoL! ID is about the detection and study of design in nature.

    As with archaeology and forensics the way to figure out “how” is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.

    And as I have told you several times now figuring out how the ancients constructed structures that are within our capability has proven to be difficult. That means things that are beyond our capability will be even more difficult.

    Without that theory, your position doesn’t have anywhere near enough explanatory power to warrant taking seriously.

    LoL! CLAVDIVS makes an asnine declaration and believes it!

    Your position doesn’t know how and that is why the vast majority of people don’t take it seriously.

  100. Jerad:

    Pardon, but the OOL case is pivotal.

    It is before self-replication was on the table. It has to rely on chem and physics alone, and get us to metabolism, a constructor and a von Neumann, coded algorithm based replicator. All, well beyond 500 – 1,000 bits.

    That puts design on the table as the best, empirically grounded explanation, per the evidence we do have on origin of FSCO/I. and once design is on the table, it is on the table.

    As to the rest, when you begin to use loaded language and drumbeat repetition of long since cogently answered points, as well as suggesting things that turn me into a strawman caricature, that looks a lot like playing to the invisible-at-UD gallery. Invisible, in many cases because of repeat incivility offences.

    Remember, just a few days ago I had to deal with dragging the name of a decent woman through sexual filth, and with the implications of snide allusions or outright open false accusations of mental instability.

    The photoshopped pictures tell us we are dealing with some sick puppies, as well as providing targetting info.

    Remember, too, these are the jokers who threatened my family.

    KF

  101. Joe,

    But anyway it is obvious that you don’t have a clue about ID and want to force it into a strawman.

    How is asking you to clarify your/ID’s position forcing you or ID into a strawman? I want to avoid a strawman by finding out what the design inference is saying?

    Based on what I’ve read and what’s been presented on this forum ID does not have the explanatory power of evolutionary theory because it has not addressed the basic when, why and how questions. You decry evolutionary theory and say it can’t answer those questions but it does address them. I’d just like ID to make an attempt to address them too. Nothing wrong with speculating is there?

  102. Joe,

    And as I have told you several times now figuring out how the ancients constructed structures that are within our capability has proven to be difficult. That means things that are beyond our capability will be even more difficult.

    You can still speculate. Hypothesise. Test the hypothesis. What is the hypothesis about how?

    If the how is too difficult then work on the when. Archaeology and forensics work on that independent of the ‘how’ and ‘why’.

  103. Jerad-

    Focus on your position as it has absolutely nothing-> no testable hypotheses, no evidence, no explanatory power, nothing.

    Your position does not answer how except to say “mutations”- grow up already

  104. KF,

    It is before self-replication was on the table. It has to rely on chem and physics alone, and get us to metabolism, a constructor and a von Neumann, coded algorithm based replicator. All, well beyond 500 – 1,000 bits.

    What do you envision that replicator to be? How does your view compare with the current OoL research?

    That puts design on the table as the best, empirically grounded explanation, per the evidence we do have on origin of FSCO/I. and once design is on the table, it is on the table.

    It’s on the table but if there wasn’t a designer around at the time then it’s just a hypothesis with no supporting data. AND it’s currently lacking explanatory power.

    The chances of a minimally functional replicator arising naturally are probably exceedingly small. But it only had to happen once. Even if a huge sample space did have to be searched a random stab only has to get lucky one time.

    As to the rest, when you begin to use loaded language and drumbeat repetition of long since cogently answered points, as well as suggesting things that turn me into a strawman caricature, that looks a lot like playing to the invisible-at-UD gallery. Invisible, in many cases because of repeat incivility offences.

    If I have offended in any way then I unconditionally apologise and will strive to avoid incivility in the future. But I categorically deny that I am playing to any gallery.

    Remember, just a few days ago I had to deal with dragging the name of a decent woman through sexual filth, and with the implications of snide allusions or outright open false accusations of mental instability.

    The photoshopped pictures tell us we are dealing with some sick puppies, as well as providing targetting info.

    Remember, too, these are the jokers who threatened my family

    I’m sorry you have to deal with all that. But what does it have to do with me or my comments?

    I thought it was important to come to UD to find out what ID proponents think. I thought it would be appreciated that I’m attempting to find out what the design inference says. I never said I was looking to be converted or that I had any inclination to agree with ID. But I would like to understand since I think it’s best for everyone if we meet as reasonable people and discuss things openly.

  105. Joe,

    Focus on your position as it has absolutely nothing-> no testable hypotheses, no evidence, no explanatory power, nothing.

    I know what evolutionary theory says but I don’t know what your answers to the how, when and why questions are. And until I do I can’t evaluate ID’s explanatory power independent of evolutionary theory.

    One theory being wrong doesn’t make another one right.

    Your position does not answer how except to say “mutations”- grow up already

    Give me an alternative that has explanatory power and is not contradicted by the fossil, biogeographic, morphological and genetic data.

  106. Jeard-

    Evolutionary theory is silent on the how except for the vagie “descent with modification”. And that has no explanatory power at all. Heck the theory can’t even answer “if”, as in if the transformations required are even possible.

    You also ask for an “alternative”, for what? An alternative to nothing?

    Intelligent Design is NOT anti-evolution so stop with the equivocating already.

  107. Jerad, here is a hint:

    It is the total inability of your position to provide supportable explanatory that has allowed ID to persist. That and the positive evidence for design is what convinved long-time atheist and ID opponent into an IDist.

  108. 108

    Upright BiPed,

    I’m sorry if I’ve confused or disappointed you. Or been unclear.

    Frankly, I am not in the slightest bit confused by you. By your own words, you are a person who knows that Darwinian evolution requires a system of recorded information as a necessary condition in order to exist. And yet you also believe that Darwinian evolution can create a system of recorded information.

    So, by your chosen logic, a thing that does not exist can cause something to happen in order to create itself.

    As for “disappointment”, my only disappointment is that people like yourself who wrap themselves in the flags of science, logic, and post-enlightenment reason, are taken seriously when you demonstrably (and willfully) ignore the tremendous lessons of science, logic, and post-enlightenment reason. You and I may observe that a forest has burned to the ground. We may very easily speculate on the reason for this event, but we needn’t speculate on what is materially required for fire. Fire is a phenomenon which is coherently understood from a material perspective, and our speculations as to ‘how the forest burned down’ only need comport to the material understanding of fire. This exact same dynamic is in play with regard to the existence of recorded information transfer within the genome. We may speculate as to the origin of that system, but we needn’t speculate as to the material requirements of transferring recorded information. This is, again, something that is coherently understood from a material perspective, and our speculations as to its origin only need comport to our material understanding of the phenomenon.

    However, you apparently find this type of discovery unreasonable. You absolve yourself of any intellectual responsibility by simply assuming that a process which doesn’t yet exist can create the necessary conditions of its existence. Like a good materialist in the last pew, you ignore the material you claim to follow.

  109. Joe,

    Evolutionary theory is silent on the how except for the vagie “descent with modification”. And that has no explanatory power at all. Heck the theory can’t even answer “if”, as in if the transformations required are even possible.

    You also ask for an “alternative”, for what? An alternative to nothing

    Well, give me an alternative that gives adequate answers to the how, when and why then.

    Intelligent Design is NOT anti-evolution so stop with the equivocating already.

    But you keep saying evolutionary theory is not right, can’t explain anything, has no evidence. But you think ID is better. So . . . tell me how it explains the how, when and why. Or at least the when.

    It is the total inability of your position to provide supportable explanatory that has allowed ID to persist. That and the positive evidence for design is what convinved long-time atheist and ID opponent into an IDist.

    Well, give me ID’s explanation for the genetic, fossil, biogeographic and morphological data.

  110. Upright BiPed,

    I don’t believe evolution can create the first basic replicator. That’s a separate issue.

    However, you apparently find this type of discovery unreasonable. You absolve yourself of any intellectual responsibility by simply assuming that a process which doesn’t yet exist can create the necessary conditions of its existence. Like a good materialist in the last pew, you ignore the material you claim to follow.

    Well, give me another model which explains the fossil, genetic, biogeographic and morphological data.

  111. Jerad-

    The how is “by design” which better explains the evidence than “it just happened”, which is all your position has to say.

  112. Joe,

    The how is “by design” which better explains the evidence than “it just happened”, which is all your position has to say.

    How was the design implemented? Was the DNA sequenced in the lab and then implanted in an egg? Or was an existing creature modified? How was the the design incubated? In a test tube or in a living creature (of a different type apparently)?

    How was a viable population of new life forms generated? One creature/plant is not enough. How many were created?

    Where are/were the labs that did the work?

    You like mentioning Stonehenge. Well, archaeologists ask lots of questions regarding how men built the thing, what tools they used, where the stones came from, how they were moved, what its purpose was, etc. If archaeologists just said ‘by design’ they’d be ostracised and laughed at. It’s the explaining which makes a hypothesis viable. Erich von Daniken claimed ancient astronauts must have helped ancient man build the pyramids, Stonehenge, the Nazca Lines, etc. But he didn’t explain ALL the evidence AND just saying ‘the aliens did it’ isn’t good enough. It was just wishful thinking.

    Any engineer, finding a designed object beyond his capacity to create, would not be happy just saying it it was created ‘by design’. He’d be desperate to find out how it was made. He’d hypothesise what kind of machinery was necessary. What level of material science was required. What sort of location and raw materials were necessary.

  113. Jerad:

    How was the design implemented?

    Your position can’t answer that and the question is irrelevant to ID.

    Well, archaeologists ask lots of questions regarding how men built the thing, what tools they used, where the stones came from, how they were moved, what its purpose was, etc.

    You are either slow, obtuse or just trying to pick a fight.

    ID does not prevent anyone from asking nor trying to figure out those questions. IDists understand that the way to answer those questions is by investigating the design and all relevant evidence. That is what I have been telling you time and again yet you just ignore it.

    And as I said figuring out Stonehenge is still proving to be difficult and we have the capability of building one.

    We do not have the capability of constructing living organisms from inanimate matter.

    Go back in time and give Edison a laptop and he couldn’t figure out how the thing was built.

    Yes the design inference opens up other questions. And people are free to pursue them, you included. However that is NOT what ID was formulated to do. But it dioes prove that the design inference is not a dead end.

  114. Joe,

    Your position can’t answer that and the question is irrelevant to ID.

    It shouldn’t be irrelevant. Not only do answers to such questions help support the ID inference but it also helps prove the point that ID is not a science stopper.

    ID does not prevent anyone from asking nor trying to figure out those questions. IDists understand that the way to answer those questions is by investigating the design and all relevant evidence. That is what I have been telling you time and again yet you just ignore it.

    I do not ignore it, I just don’t see any speculation or hypothesis addressing the issues.

    And as I said figuring out Stonehenge is still proving to be difficult and we have the capability of building one.

    Well, we’ve got pretty good ideas of how it could have been done and why. How it was actually done will probably always be a bit mysterious since the humans around at the time left no written records.

    We do not have the capability of constructing living organisms from inanimate matter.

    Agreed. So isn’t it just a matter of faith to say ‘by design’ when you haven’t got a idea of how it happened? OoL researchers are trying to find a reproducible, plausible mechanism, what is ID doing?

    Go back in time and give Edison a laptop and he couldn’t figure out how the thing was built.

    But he would try!! He would ask lots of questions. He’d try and reproduce the thing. He wouldn’t quit at just saying ‘by design’. He’d be DESPERATE to figure it out.

    Yes the design inference opens up other questions. And people are free to pursue them, you included. However that is NOT what ID was formulated to do. But it dioes prove that the design inference is not a dead end.

    Yup. I agree. As long as people pursue the follow on questions. And offer some hypothesis. Because otherwise ID is just “the designer did it” and that’s not a viable scientific theory.

    IF ID is a science then it has to ask and address the follow on questions. But what I see is . . . . not much. I promise to listen. I promise to consider. But I’ve got very little to consider and examine. Give me something to bite into. Give me some explanations.

  115. 115

    Jerad,

    I don’t believe evolution can create the first basic replicator. That’s a separate issue.

    Yes I know. You believe that “highly technical data left in some readable form would be indications of an advanced intelligence”, but you believe “that DNA is not designed” because “the process of self-replication with modifications can generate the DNA molecule and it’s functionality” even though ”Darwinian evolution depends on that system having already been established”. In other words, outside of tremendous equivocation, your first comments stand in stark contradiction to your last.

    Well, give me another model which explains the fossil, genetic, biogeographic and morphological data.

    I tried to engage you on the only coherent model of the necessary material conditions for the transfer of recorded information (the very thing that all the other evidence is 100% dependent upon). I began by asking if it even mattered to you – if it would be acceptable to you as a material artifact. It wasn’t.

    Your comment was “I think that DNA is not designed … it developed through purely natural, unguided and undirected processes”.

    :|

  116. Jerad,

    By your “logic” the theory of evolution is useless because it does not address the origin of life, which is directly relevant to any subsequent evolution.

    IF ID is a science then it has to ask and address the follow on questions.

    Says a nobody that doesn’t understand science…

  117. Jerad:

    if we were to make it a rule of any science that if it cannot answer all questions that someone wishes to pose, it would be disqualified from what it can answer to, such a science would not be able to progress. In short, you have fallen yet again into selective hyperskepticism.

    To that the best answer is as Newton gave to his objectors, translated into modern terms. I feign no metaphysical speculative hypotheses. In short, it is enough to put forth what is well warranted empirically and analytically and such should not allow itself to be cowed by those who would put on metaphysical shackles.

    We have that FSCO/I by whatever name is a well warranted sign of design. So, when we see it we are warranted to infer design, even were we unable to suggest how that could be done.

    And as for questions on what a first life form looked like, we have the good evidence that life forms have dialects of the same D/RNA code, using the same five basic constituents, as well as about 20 amino acids, with appropriate and consistent chirality. We see the implementation using molecular nanotech in aqueous medium, exploiting C-chemistry, of nanomachines that act in co-ordination. We see variants on certain common proteins, and observe several thousand fold domains. More complex life forms are generally based on clusters of specialised cells developing from an original cell.

    All of this points to a unicellular molecular nanomachine archetype with metabolism, a constructor facility and a von Neumann self-replicator. The genetic code looks like at least 100,000 bits. The indicated cluster is well beyond the reasonable threshold where chance is a credible means of searching the space of configs, and until we have an integrated self replicating facility, we cannot have fixation of variation by differential reproductive success.

    All of this strongly implicates design, and once design is on the table, it is on the table.

    Indeed, the architecture of life is replete with signs that polint to intelligence as architect. And, contrary to what you wish to assert, such signs are evidence that demand explanation on adequate cause. The only observed adequate cause for this sort of thing — FSCO/I — is intelligence.

    But then, this has been pointed out to you over and over with reasons and you still keep only putting forth dismissive talking points. It is plain that you cannot account for such systems on chance and necessity without design.

    As to what design is, it is specification of form and structure on goals in light of the forces and materials of nature, and often implies the construction of the entity.

    Finally, please understand that you are dealing with a contentious context and that there are some pretty loaded terms. That is why I took such strong exception to the reference you made to the Middle Ages above in a context that strawmannishly distorted what I have stated for some weeks now to you in fairly explicit terms and what I have taken time to lay out at course unit length, for in this situation this is loaded language and is part of a very nasty line of talking points. Which, I pointed out.

    KF

  118. I surmise from the general thrust of ID contentions that a designer capable of creating DNA sequences that would bridge some of the perceived gaps between hypothesised islands of functionality would have to have an intelligence greater than ours. Much greater.

    Not really. We can already manipulate DNA sequences fairly effectively. Give us another 30 years (at the most!)and we’ll be designing our own cellular machinery regularly.

  119. Upright BiPed,

    Yes I know. You believe that “highly technical data left in some readable form would be indications of an advanced intelligence”, but you believe “that DNA is not designed” because “the process of self-replication with modifications can generate the DNA molecule and it’s functionality” even though ”Darwinian evolution depends on that system having already been established”. In other words, outside of tremendous equivocation, your first comments stand in stark contradiction to your last.

    I think you’ll find that I specified a difference between living and non-living systems. If I didn’t then I certainly should have.

    I tried to engage you on the only coherent model of the necessary material conditions for the transfer of recorded information (the very thing that all the other evidence is 100% dependent upon). I began by asking if it even mattered to you – if it would be acceptable to you as a material artifact. It wasn’t.

    Your comment was “I think that DNA is not designed … it developed through purely natural, unguided and undirected processes”.

    I am a fallible human being and I get things wrong. I apologise.

    But, regardless of my response, can you suggest an alternative paradigm? One that explains all of the fossil, biogeographic, morphological and genetic evidence? If I’ve got it all wrong then give me another paradigm which explains the data.

  120. Joe,

    By your “logic” the theory of evolution is useless because it does not address the origin of life, which is directly relevant to any subsequent evolution.

    It’s not useless, it does address lots of hows and whys and whens. AND there is a coherent and developing science about the origination of life. I’m just not competent to discuss it.

    Says a nobody that doesn’t understand science

    Now is a good chance to prove me wrong. Give me an alternate model which accounts for the fossil, biogeographic, genetic and morphological data.

  121. Jerad,

    As you can see I’m still here. Reading with great interest this little debate.

    And just when I think there’s a sparkle of hope for you, that you’re on the verge of having your eyes opened to the truth, you go and drop in that old chestnut of yours the; ‘fossil, biogeographic, genetic and morphological data.’, as if that somehow helps your case.

    It is plainly obvious to everyone that you have a prior committment to Darwinian Evolution and no matter what you will always run back there. But why?

    If you will remember we discussed the fossil record, you quickly sited ‘whale evolution’ as your best case, until I showed you evidence to the contrary, then you tried to point me to some stuff on Wiki, which was of no use to me, which you then followed up with ‘Well… there are large gaps in the fossil record which means there’s a lot of stuff missing’

    Well if that is the case, then how can you or any one else confidently assert that the fossil record shows ‘evolution’?

    How do you know that what they suppose ‘hasn’t been found due to gaps’ ever existed in the first place?

    Regards

    P

  122. Alternate? The obvious. Common design.

  123. Jerad:

    It’s not useless, it does address lots of hows and whys and whens.

    How, when, where and why did any bacterial flagellum evolve? Please be specific.

    AND there is a coherent and developing science about the origination of life.

    there is more evidence for unicorns.

    Give me an alternate model which accounts for the fossil, biogeographic, genetic and morphological data.

    Jerad, your position can’t get beyond prokaryotes so it doesn’t expalin any of that- and your position has to start with prokaryotes.

    That said both common design and convergence can explain that data. Acculations of random mutations can’t explain anything requiring more than two new protein-to-protein binding sites.

  124. KF,

    if we were to make it a rule of any science that if it cannot answer all questions that someone wishes to pose, it would be disqualified from what it can answer to, such a science would not be able to progress. In short, you have fallen yet again into selective hyperskepticism.

    I’m not saying ID is disqualified from anything, just that it lacks explanatory power at this stage and is therefore not as parsimonious.

    We have that FSCO/I by whatever name is a well warranted sign of design. So, when we see it we are warranted to infer design, even were we unable to suggest how that could be done.

    I hear your argument, I just disagree.

    And as for questions on what a first life form looked like, we have the good evidence that life forms have dialects of the same D/RNA code, using the same five basic constituents, as well as about 20 amino acids, with appropriate and consistent chirality. We see the implementation using molecular nanotech in aqueous medium, exploiting C-chemistry, of nanomachines that act in co-ordination. We see variants on certain common proteins, and observe several thousand fold domains. More complex life forms are generally based on clusters of specialised cells developing from an original cell.

    All of this points to a unicellular molecular nanomachine archetype with metabolism, a constructor facility and a von Neumann self-replicator. The genetic code looks like at least 100,000 bits. The indicated cluster is well beyond the reasonable threshold where chance is a credible means of searching the space of configs, and until we have an integrated self replicating facility, we cannot have fixation of variation by differential reproductive success.

    I’m going to wait a while yet and see what the OoL researchers can come up with. I think it’s far too early to throw up our hands and say ‘it must have been designed’.

    But then, this has been pointed out to you over and over with reasons and you still keep only putting forth dismissive talking points. It is plain that you cannot account for such systems on chance and necessity without design.

    I can’t account for everything but I prefer my assumptions over yours.

    As to what design is, it is specification of form and structure on goals in light of the forces and materials of nature, and often implies the construction of the entity.

    Requiring a sophisticated, well equipped agent to implement. One that has left no independent physical evidence of it’s existence.

    Finally, please understand that you are dealing with a contentious context and that there are some pretty loaded terms. That is why I took such strong exception to the reference you made to the Middle Ages above in a context that strawmannishly distorted what I have stated for some weeks now to you in fairly explicit terms and what I have taken time to lay out at course unit length, for in this situation this is loaded language and is part of a very nasty line of talking points. Which, I pointed out.

    I apologised before if I’ve caused offence and I do so again. But I don’t understand what I’ve said that can be construed as ‘part of a very nasty line of talking points’.

    Alternate? The obvious. Common design.

    Okay . . . when were the designs implemented? How often did the designer step in? Is the designer still working?

  125. Genomicus,

    Not really. We can already manipulate DNA sequences fairly effectively. Give us another 30 years (at the most!)and we’ll be designing our own cellular machinery regularly.

    True but still beyond us. Certainly beyond us if we were going to create a whole new creature. AND it requires supplies and labs and a lot of gear. Where are the designer’s facilities?

  126. PeterJ,

    And just when I think there’s a sparkle of hope for you, that you’re on the verge of having your eyes opened to the truth, you go and drop in that old chestnut of yours the; ‘fossil, biogeographic, genetic and morphological data.’, as if that somehow helps your case.

    Sorry about that. I do feel that the fossil, morphological, genetic and biogeographic evidence does support my case and needs to be explained for any hypothesis to be considered explanatory.

    It is plainly obvious to everyone that you have a prior committment to Darwinian Evolution and no matter what you will always run back there. But why?

    I’ve never denied it. I’ve been very open in my stance. Why? Because, as I’ve said, I think the evolutionary model has the most explanatory power and is the most parsimonious.

    If you will remember we discussed the fossil record, you quickly sited ‘whale evolution’ as your best case, until I showed you evidence to the contrary, then you tried to point me to some stuff on Wiki, which was of no use to me, which you then followed up with ‘Well… there are large gaps in the fossil record which means there’s a lot of stuff missing’

    Well if that is the case, then how can you or any one else confidently assert that the fossil record shows ‘evolution’?

    How do you know that what they suppose ‘hasn’t been found due to gaps’ ever existed in the first place?

    Did I say that the whale record was my best case? I don’t think so, just an example. But I think it is a good case with enough intermediate stages to make the progression clear.

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    What is your explanatory alternative? Did the designer tinker with the life forms every few million years until he got what he wanted? How was that done? How were the new designs implemented? Were they incubated in an existing life form or grown in a test tube? How many new forms were created to make the population viable? What happened to the old versions? Were they killed off or were they out competed?

  127. Joe,

    How, when, where and why did any bacterial flagellum evolve? Please be specific.

    Good question!! I’ll see what the current research says. I don’t think that particular issue is clear yet as to when. How is: by a step-by-step process of molecular variation. Why is: mutations that were neutral or positive to the life form became fixed and were built upon.

    What’s your alternate explanation?

    there is more evidence for unicorns.

    And your alternative explanation is . . . .

    That said both common design and convergence can explain that data. Acculations of random mutations can’t explain anything requiring more than two new protein-to-protein binding sites.

    Common design could explain it if you can be more specific regarding when, how and why. Pick a life form and go through the development from a design point of view.

  128. Jerad

    ‘What is your explanatory alternative? Did the designer tinker with the life forms every few million years until he got what he wanted? How was that done? How were the new designs implemented? Were they incubated in an existing life form or grown in a test tube? How many new forms were created to make the population viable? What happened to the old versions? Were they killed off or were they out competed?

    I suppose this is where I really must nail my colours to the mast.

    Jerad, as someone who used to believe as you do, I can no longer look at the so called evidence for evolution, the fossil record especially, and confidently hold those beliefs. Over the years I have simply found myself having to face the fact that it just didn’t happen that way. A big part of that of course came when I first became a Christian some 6 years ago in a drugs rehab, but more so after having investigated what I believed to be the ridiculous belief of ‘special creation’.

    Since having looked into this phenomenon, at some depth it has to be said, I can now say to anyone who asks, and with great confidence, using the same evidence that you use, that creation is undoubtedly the best explanation.

    For instance, just look at the evidence for so called ‘transitional fossils’. (Perhaps you could site another example, as I have shown you, and will happily do so again, that even those people who are leading the field in whale evolution, such as Dr.Gingerich, Dr. Barnes, have publicly declared that many of the steps in the line of transition should not be classed as such. It would be good to look at something else, if you have the time) Imho, transitional fossils simply don’t exist, and when looking further into this I find the best explanation for this to be ‘gaps in the fossil record’, something you have sited on a number of occasions, but tell me this, why aren’t there any examples of transitional fossils.

    Look at the Cambrain fossils for instance; you have nothing prior to them, and nothing proceeding from them. I know it’s called ‘gaps’. You then have land fossils for instance, including somewhere in the region of 700 different species of dinosaur, but again you have no examples of any transitions leading up to them and none proceeding from them. You then have mammals, and what you find about these in the fossil record is more or less the same thing. Take for instance every mammal alive today, what you will find are fossils of each and every one of them, more or less the same as they are today, and again no transitions, and as we all know, there are no examples of anything proceeding from them. I know… that’s because the fossil record is incomplete. But why then should it only be the ‘transitional fossils’ that are missing, when there are plenty of examples of everything else?

    Can you honestly answer that?

    Has there been some kind of magical sorting that left only the fully formed examples of any given creature for us to find, and everything else has been hidden, or destroyed?

    P

  129. PeterJ,

    why aren’t there any examples of transitional fossils

    All fossils are transitional from what came before to what came later!!

    Seriously, read Donald Prothero’s book on evolution. Tons and tons of fossils. I can’t possibly present the information better than he does.

    But why then should it only be the ‘transitional fossils’ that are missing, when there are plenty of examples of everything else?

    Can you honestly answer that?

    Life forms are continually changing and altering. All species are transitions along the way to . . . who knows!! Some particular life forms became fossils while others didn’t OR we haven’t found them yet. Lots of soft-bodied creatures don’t leave fossils at all. If every stage of every life form left a fossil we’d be buried in them!!

    Has there been some kind of magical sorting that left only the fully formed examples of any given creature for us to find, and everything else has been hidden, or destroyed?

    Nope, nothing magical. Just some critters and plants became fossils and some didn’t.

    I appreciate your honesty and I’m glad you’ve found answers that make sense to you. And that you beat your demons. I’m not going to try and change your mind but can I ask some questions?

    As a creationist do you think God/the designer created all the life forms we have fossils of independently and at the time indicated by the dating methods?

    Were the lifeforms just created out of nothing or . . . .

    Why were so many lifeforms created and then allowed to become extinct?

  130. PeterJ,

    Also, do you think all the life forms that existed have left fossil remains?

  131. Jerad:

    It seems clear that we need to go behind the curtain of talking points on stage to see the otherwise invisible wizard at work, so pardon an indirect response.

    Let me start with the premise that science — if it is to be credible — seeks truth, not to prop up a priori materialism, or to propagate scientism. Otherwise it becomes little better than materialist fairy-tale making and propaganda that demands genuflection before the holy lab coats worn by the materialist high priesthood.

    Accordingly a recognition of its true current state of the balance of well-warranted knowledge vs materialist mythology or the like on origins, in light of a healthy acknowledgement of limitations, is a first step to the ever elusive wisdom.

    In short, a direct acknowledgement of what we do not know is superior to the pretence that we have reconstructed the remote and unobservable past with a practical certainty that is comparable to the OBSERVATION that the planets orbit the sun, in more or less elliptical paths.

    Pardon, I must now speak to observations that reflect on patterns of engagement over some time.

    In that context, the selective hyperskepticism you evince is revealing of the uncorrected effects of our typical immersion in a sci edu culture (formal and informal) that is dominated by evo mat scientism and myth making.

    Per that indoctrination, you are perfectly at ease with gross exaggerations — not mere extrapolations — of the power of minor variation and adaptation, in the teeth of direct evidence that chance and/or mechanical necessity is not a credible cause of the FSCO/I we see all around us in the world of life. At the same time you are utterly unwilling to accept the inductive logic consequences of the fact that that the only OBSERVED — and, the routinely observed — causal factor responsible for FSCO/I is design. For, that out and out means that such FSCO/I is an empirically reliable sign of design as cause.

    But, you have been further indoctrinated with a fallacious talking point to resist this: life forms self replicate and can incrementally climb Mt Improbable so there, Mr Paley.

    Only, consistently, those who tell us this caricature the real Paley and set up a convenient strawman target by neatly omitting what he immediately — Ch 1 is short — went on to discuss in Ch 2 of Nat Theol: the implications of the thought exercise on what it would take to turn a time telling watch into a self replicating device, i.e. that we are looking at a further instance of FSCO/I in a context where by definition there was no existing self replication as an additional facility for a separately functional device — oops, Mr Dawkins’ imaginary self replicating molecule crashes in flames at this point — to allow even the pretence that we can appeal to differential reproductive success.

    That is, there was no reproduction so no possibility of evolution. This immediately implies that the origin of self replication has to be explained in light of what we know on the origin of FSCO/I: it is only and routinely seen as the result of design, and related analyses — per, monkeys at the keyboards — show why it is practically impossible that blind chance and necessity could account for FSCO/I.

    Design is in the door, and it is on the table from the outset of life as a metabolising, self replicating C-Chemistry, aqueous medium, molecular nanotech, digital code and algorithm-using phenomenon.

    When the matter is put in these terms, it is at once evident why if science seeks truth about our world including its origins, design must sit to the table by right.

    However, as with many others, you have been indoctrinated to accept a dominant school of speculation’s assertions over the actual evidence in front of you and what would otherwise be the patently superior explanation. but, we are told, science CANNOT tolerate the mere thought of a divine foot in the door, or the grand project of explanation per naturaliSTIC cause would collapse in a chaos of arbitrary supernatural activity.

    Rubbish.

    Irresponsible, propagandistic rubbish.

    Based on a willful, irresponsible strawman distortion of the real history of science and the theology of miracles. (But, since you have already, a priori, locked out corrective voices, few will know that. How apt are the Dominical words about what would be better than to cause one of the innocent children to stumble! As in, it would be better . . . )

    In fact, it is the Bible-based. Judaeo-Christian doctrine of creation, sustaining and providence of the God of Order that was the matrix in which modern science was conceived, nurtured and born. Indeed, that is the root of that odd little diagnostically indicative term, LAWS of nature (as in, impressed by the Author of nature).

    Further to this, by their very nature as signs pointing beyond the usual course of the world, for good reason, miracles MUST be rare, almost vanishingly so relative to the number of ordinary events from minute to minute across the cosmos. For, there must be a natural order for the signposts to draw attention and point beyond it. Where also that very natural order points to the mind behind nature, indeed Boyle et al conceived science as thinking God’s creative and sustaining thoughts after him, as his steward appointed to tend and make the best of this world.

    (And of course, you have been taught to imagine that it is Medieval Scholasticism, dripping with the blood of victims of the inquisition, that is guilty of the most relevant form of imposed a priorism. I am here to remind you, in the name of the ghosts of over 100 million victims of demonic ideologies justified on scientism and Darwinist notions of progress and superiority, that there is another a priorism that is a lot closer to home, as Lewontin so frankly acknowledged.)

    In such a context, unless the underlying assumptions and agendas are exposed, little progress can be made.

    Let us briefly sum up. We see good reason to accept that FSCO/I is a reliable sign of design. Indeed, that design is the only empirically adequate cause of such. Design being familiar from our experience and observation of the world all around us. As is intelligence.

    In that context, we see since the 1970′s that molecular nanotech is capable of being manipulated by knowledgeable practitioners of the relevant sciences. Indeed, we have seen Venter et al at work. In addition, since 1948 or so, we have seen the von Neumann self replicator and have seen how the subsequent discovery of DNA etc from 1953 on, has provided abundant confirmation of the architecture. (BTW, the same John von Neumann is the inventor of the dominant architecture for digital computers, so it is no accident that he would have spotted a pretty good model for a self replicating machine.)

    So, we have good reason to see that the gap we face between where we are and the sort of molecular nanotech lab that could do a metabolic constructor with self replicating facility from scratch, is one of progress, not fundamental breakthrough. We have more than enough in hand to know that setting up such a lab, though some generations away from where we are, is obviously feasible.

    And, contrary to your insinuation, we have long since picked and emphasised a life form and body plan to explore how it could have come about: the very first metabolising, self replicating one. The root of the tree of life.

    We need nothing more than the framework of design based on extensions of the past 60 years of progress on molecular biology to explain cell based life, including flagella and including a system whereby a zygote would develop into a complex multicellular animal etc. And surely, the use of designed carriers to transform test bench forms into novel plans is an approach we are already crudely working with at our level of technology. As in, genetically modified organisms. We even have protest movements over this. So, why not connect some dots!

    In short, the objections you are making crash in flames.

    But, even without seeing direct evidence of such a lab at origin of life and major body plans, we have abundant circumstantial evidence on reliable signs that both OOL and OO body plans shows more than enough FSCO/I — including algorithmic coded info — to sustain an inference that he best explanation of these signs is design. Indeed, the very existence of digitally coded algorithms in life forms is a sign that language, computer science, related mathematics, and associated engineering, purposeful planning and digital technology existed before life as we observe it.

    That is what the evidence is strongly pointing to.

    In that context, I in principle care very little about timelines and scenarios as to how tweredun in details, over 6,000 year ago or over 4 – 5 bn years ago makes but little difference. What is crucial is that he evidence implicates design, strongly. There was arson.

    Whodunit, follows.

    Design is in the door, and sitting at the table as of right, from the origin of that first self-replicating facility, thanks to that member of the suspected circle of “Martians” in the universities of the late Austrian Empire, John von Neumann.

    Get over it.

    Common design can readily fit a 4 BY scenario for life on earth, the only life we can scientifically investigate. Design that is deliberately robust and adaptable — practically synonyms, makes sense. And, it makes another objection crash in flames: optimality is inherently brittle, ans subject to collapse because it is too adapted to special circumstances. A broader design philosophy is robustness through adaptability.

    And, surprise, that is built into how the genetic code works. For, it is set up so that small variations will not invariably be catastrophic. Indeed, there is evidence that it is about as good a design as we could get. The odds of our having just one code that is dominant (of course with dialects) AND it is that good, by chance are next to zero and just plain zero.

    Of course, that is not headlined.

    As usual.

    Actually, the fact that we have a CODE, indeed a digital symbolic code, and associated algorithms — thus LANGUAGE — at the foundation of biological life, is also not headlined.

    When we look at the world of life from this vantage point, a far more coherent, much better empirically warranted vista emerges. Sure, we can have biogeographic distribution, variation and adaptation. But, in that we recognise limits, and do not demand a steady stream of informational magic popping out of noise and being explained away by uninformative labels such as “emergence.”

    Gene transfers and mosaics make sense, as do cases where the molecular trees do not fit a common pattern. Code libraries and re-use.

    The burst of top-level forms seen in Cambrian strata is no longer a mystery to be explained away on the increasingly threadbare notion of the poverty of the fossil record. (After 150 years of global search, billions of fossils in situ, millions in museum and over 1/4 million fossil species — well over a thousand per year on average?)

    Similarly, Gould’s note that the dominant pattern of the fossil record is sudden appearance and stasis them disappearance is not too hard to recognise: there are islands of function in life forms. And BTW, the convergence of disparate forms also makes sense.

    And so on.

    In short, never mind the raft of objecting talking points, a design view is inherently reasonable and is classically scientific.

    KF

  132. Jerad

    ‘All fossils are transitional from what came before to what came later!!
    Seriously, read Donald Prothero’s book on evolution. Tons and tons of fossils. I can’t possibly present the information better than he does.’

    If we look for instance at the evidence for dinosaur evolution I think you will find that stasis, fixity of species, is what the fossil record shows. You have 700 species of dinosaur, many different examples of each having been found, but nothing that links any of them together, or for that matter an example of anything that links any one of them to a common ancestor. I don’t think you’ll find anyone who can honestly argue that fact, especially by providing solid evidence.

    As you know the answer to that is ‘scarcity of available fossils due to the incompleteness of the fossil record.’?

    ‘Life forms are continually changing and altering. All species are transitions along the way to . . . who knows!! Some particular life forms became fossils while others didn’t OR we haven’t found them yet. Lots of soft-bodied creatures don’t leave fossils at all. If every stage of every life form left a fossil we’d be buried in them!!’

    But that, surely, without any examples to look at, is pure speculation.

    ‘As a creationist do you think God/the designer created all the life forms we have fossils of independently and at the time indicated by the dating methods?’

    My belief is that yes God created, and very possibly all at the same time.

    Can you explain to me the dating methods you think provide proof that they lived at different times, if that is what you are implying.

    P

  133. PeterJ,

    If we look for instance at the evidence for dinosaur evolution I think you will find that stasis, fixity of species, is what the fossil record shows. You have 700 species of dinosaur, many different examples of each having been found, but nothing that links any of them together, or for that matter an example of anything that links any one of them to a common ancestor. I don’t think you’ll find anyone who can honestly argue that fact, especially by providing solid evidence.

    Read Prothero’s book. I can’t even come close to his expertise and ability to elucidate the fossil record.

    ‘Life forms are continually changing and altering. All species are transitions along the way to . . . who knows!! Some particular life forms became fossils while others didn’t OR we haven’t found them yet. Lots of soft-bodied creatures don’t leave fossils at all. If every stage of every life form left a fossil we’d be buried in them!!’

    But that, surely, without any examples to look at, is pure speculation.

    Well, we don’t see new life forms being created wholesale these days and science can only extend observable processes. Plus there is the genetic, morphologic and biogeographic evidence which supports common descent.

    My belief is that yes God created, and very possibly all at the same time.

    Okay!! Thanks! I guess you’d believe that s/he could do that without leaving material evidence of the process. Any idea why so many life forms were created and allowed to go extinct?

    Can you explain to me the dating methods you think provide proof that they lived at different times, if that is what you are implying.

    The standard dating techniques. Different ones for different eras. Obviously carbon-14 cannot be used for dinosaur fossils.

    It’s all discussed in Prothero’s book if you’re interested but I’m sure Wikipedia has a good basic discussion of dating techniques.

    Here’s one discussing various kinds of radiometric dating:

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

  134. KF,

    Per that indoctrination, you are perfectly at ease with gross exaggerations — not mere extrapolations — of the power of minor variation and adaptation, in the teeth of direct evidence that chance and/or mechanical necessity is not a credible cause of the FSCO/I we see all around us in the world of life.

    I guess we’ll just have to disagree on that then.

    At the same time you are utterly unwilling to accept the inductive logic consequences of the fact that that the only OBSERVED — and, the routinely observed — causal factor responsible for FSCO/I is design. For, that out and out means that such FSCO/I is an empirically reliable sign of design as cause.

    I agree with you regarding inanimate objects.

    When the matter is put in these terms, it is at once evident why if science seeks truth about our world including its origins, design must sit to the table by right.

    I agree it should always be considered. And it was thought to be true for biological entities for millennia.

    However, as with many others, you have been indoctrinated to accept a dominant school of speculation’s assertions over the actual evidence in front of you and what would otherwise be the patently superior explanation. but, we are told, science CANNOT tolerate the mere thought of a divine foot in the door, or the grand project of explanation per naturaliSTIC cause would collapse in a chaos of arbitrary supernatural activity.

    The trouble is: how do you measure or weigh or limit the divine?

    In fact, it is the Bible-based. Judaeo-Christian doctrine of creation, sustaining and providence of the God of Order that was the matrix in which modern science was conceived, nurtured and born. Indeed, that is the root of that odd little diagnostically indicative term, LAWS of nature (as in, impressed by the Author of nature).

    Don’t forget the Arabs!! Wonderful astronomers and mathematicians. At one time.

    I agree that, probably pretty soon, us humans will be capable of producing life forms from scratch. Lots of hurdles to overcome but we’ll get there. I just don’t see any proof there was anyone around at the time when many life forms were in existence.

    But, even without seeing direct evidence of such a lab at origin of life and major body plans, we have abundant circumstantial evidence on reliable signs that both OOL and OO body plans shows more than enough FSCO/I — including algorithmic coded info — to sustain an inference that he best explanation of these signs is design. Indeed, the very existence of digitally coded algorithms in life forms is a sign that language, computer science, related mathematics, and associated engineering, purposeful planning and digital technology existed before life as we observe it.

    We’ll just have to disagree on that. Too bad the designer didn’t leave some documentation or some blueprints eh?

    In that context, I in principle care very little about timelines and scenarios as to how tweredun in details, over 6,000 year ago or over 4 – 5 bn years ago makes but little difference. What is crucial is that he evidence implicates design, strongly. There was arson.

    Well, I can’t help wanting to have answers to the how, when and why questions.

    Design is in the door, and sitting at the table as of right, from the origin of that first self-replicating facility, thanks to that member of the suspected circle of “Martians” in the universities of the late Austrian Empire, John von Neumann.

    “Martians”?

    Sure, we can have biogeographic distribution, variation and adaptation. But, in that we recognise limits, and do not demand a steady stream of informational magic popping out of noise and being explained away by uninformative labels such as “emergence.”

    I think there are limits. Otherwise some life form would have evolved wheels as a mode of locomotion and some animal would be able to eat rocks.

    In short, never mind the raft of objecting talking points, a design view is inherently reasonable and is classically scientific.

    It certainly is in archaeology and forensics. And if you could give me some evidence, aside from DNA, that there was a designer around at all the times you claim s/he intervened then I’d certainly want to start considering it strongly in biology. And I’d be asking lots and lots of how, when and why questions. Like: why were so many life forms created and allowed to go extinct? Why do whales have internal hind legs? Why can’t I synthesise vitamin C? Why does the laryngeal nerve have such a weird path? What’s the point of Leprosy? Or Rabies? Or Gout? Or arthritis? Or Polio? Or Dengue Fever? Or Ebola? Or cancer? Or the plague? Why aren’t life forms immortal? What was the point of Neanderthals? If dinosaurs were so fantastically successful why not bring ‘em back after the comet did them in? Why do human beings have different numbers of repeats in our genomes? Why does the number of base pairs in genomes vary so much? Why does the number of chromosomes vary so much? Why aren’t humans hairier, like apes? Why don’t whales and dolphins have gills? Why are there marsupials? Lots and lots of questions.

  135. Atoms are the Lego blocks of the universe…

    …and we already know Lego’s are intelligently designed. So, that’s at least a basis for a hypothesis. :)

  136. We all know from his writings that Newton was a solid believing Creationist. However, I did not confirm the ultimate source of this fun read. Even-so, if not for anything else, the principle is still relevant here for consideration:

    Sir Isaac’s Solar System

    Sir Isaac Newton’s work represents some of the greatest contributions to science ever made by an individual. Most notably, Newton derived the Law of Universal Gravitation, invented the branch of mathematics called Calculus, and performed experiments investigating the nature of light and color. He also was scholar of the Bible and devoted much time to its study.

    Sir Isaac had an accomplished artisan fashion for him a small scale model of our solar system which was to be put in a room in Newton’s home when completed. The assignment was finished and installed on a large table. The workman had done a very commendable job, simulating not only the various sizes of the planets and their relative proximities, but also so constructing the model that everything rotated and orbited when a crank was turned. It was an interesting, even fascinating work, as you can image, particularly to anyone schooled in the sciences.

    A scientist friend of Newton’s came by for a visit. Seeing the model, he was naturally intrigued, and proceeded to examine it with undisguised admiration for the high quality of the workmanship.

    “Oh My! What an exquisite thing this is!” Newton’s friend exclaimed. “Who made it?”

    Paying little attention to him, Sir Isaac answered, “Nobody.”

    Stopping his inspection, the visitor turned and said, “Oh? Evidently you did not understand my question. I asked who made this?”

    Newton, enjoying himself immensely no doubt, replied in a still more serious tone, “Nobody. What you see just happened to assume the form it now has.”

    “You must think I am a fool!” the visitor retorted heatedly, “Of course somebody made it, and he is a genius, and I would like to know who he is.”

    Newton then spoke to his friend in a polite yet firm way: “This thing is but a puny imitation of a much grander system whose laws you know, and I am not able to convince you that this mere toy is without a designer and maker; yet you profess to believe that the great original from which the design is taken has come into being without either designer or maker! Now tell me by what sort of reasoning do you reach such an incongruous conclusion?

    adapted from Sir Isaac Newton Solar System Story (from the book: The Truth: God or evolution?, by Marshall and Sandra Hall, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI)

  137. Jerad,

    ‘Read Prothero’s book. I can’t even come close to his expertise and ability to elucidate the fossil record.’

    Which one would you be reffering to ‘Evolution: what the fossils say and why it matters’?

    If so then I would happily discuss this with you. I no longer possess a copy but I do still have fresh on my mind a lot of what was in it. It is actually one of the main books that pointed me in the direction of ‘creationism’.

    And if you would like to know why I’ll gladly tell you, although I have a feeling you could probably guess. :o)

    P

  138. PeterJ,

    That’s the book!!

    I would rather not hesitate a guess. Don’t want to put words in your mouth. I am very intrigued as to how it pointed you in the direction of creationism. I found the book exhaustive to the point of being a bit boring actually. But Dr Prothero clearly knows fossils and, after years and years and years of looking at them, he still believes in evolution.

    It sounds like we’re probably just going to have to disagree in the end. Which is fine. I am still very interested in what and why you believe the way you do and I shall try and be respectful of your convictions.

  139. Jerad,

    I suppose, suddenly becoming a Christian, and then learning about ‘creation’, I couldn’t quite get my head around it, and therefor sought some answers to this problem from various different sources.

    I looked at various sites, like Answers in Genesis, Creation Ministries etc, but found them to be quite frustrating as they would take you so far with the evidence, and then hit you with the creationist default setting ‘yeh… well… no one was there to see how it all happened’ or ‘we therefor can’t possibly know for sure that things have always been constant etc.’

    Tbph, I would have been quite happy to accept theistic evolution, and simply left it at that, but certian books, like the one you have mentioned, caused me a major problem. There was just far too much that was speculation, and assumption filled interpretation.

    I can see why you would have enjoyed the book. It was certainly informative in the area of fossils, and attacked many ‘creationsts’ evidences, but only by knocking down, what I soon discovered were, strawman arguments.

    Even in my relative newness to the subject of ‘evolution’, it sadly didn’t give me the confidence required to take that stance. I had to find out what, if anything offered the most sense on this subject, and looking at what the evidence ‘actually’ says, and I quickly found it to be very different to what Prothero, as well as some others, were purporting at the time.

    Discuss with me (when you have the time to do so) what you regard in Prothero’s book to be an excellent argument for ‘evolution’ in the fossil record. And by that I do not mean ‘variation within a species’.

    Thanks.

    P

  140. PeterJ,

    Thank you for your honest and clearly heartfelt explanation. I have immense respect for people of great faith and you clearly are one of those!! And I applaud your ability and desire to look for answers in lots of places.

    I will have more time later . . . . perhaps this evening? And I’d like to give you a decent answer and not one just off the cuff. But right now life calls!

  141. Jerad:

    Back around the circle.

    On dating, please cf here on.

    And, I repeat, we start from what we have: sound, empirically based answers, and build out from there. We do not impose materialist a prioris, known inadequate processes that cannot account for FSCO/I — and given the von Neumann self replicator and the needle in the haystack challenge, that includes in the world of life — and we do not accept that because we do not have some answers, we should drop the answers that we do have.

    Humble admission of what we do not know is better than pretensions that that which is grossly inadequate is what we should project to the public and to kids in school as being as practically certain as that the planets orbit the sun.

    KF

  142. Jerad,

    Thanks. I will look forward to that. No rush however.

    P

  143. PS: It seems we are destined to keep going in circles on the fossil record claims. let us drastically discount all such unless we see a solid answer to Gould in his The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (2002), a technical work published just two months before his death; as a “constructive critique” of contemporary Darwinian thought:

    ________

    >> . . . long term stasis following geologically abrupt origin of most fossil morphospecies, has always been recognized by professional paleontologists. [[p. 752.]

    . . . . The great majority of species do not show any appreciable evolutionary change at all. These species appear in the section [[first occurrence] without obvious ancestors in the underlying beds, are stable once established and disappear higher up without leaving any descendants.” [[p. 753.]

    . . . . proclamations for the supposed ‘truth’ of gradualism – asserted against every working paleontologist’s knowledge of its rarity – emerged largely from such a restriction of attention to exceedingly rare cases under the false belief that they alone provided a record of evolution at all! The falsification of most ‘textbook classics’ upon restudy only accentuates the fallacy of the ‘case study’ method and its root in prior expectation rather than objective reading of the fossil record. [[p. 773.] >>
    _________

    In short, even when interpreted along the conventional timeline (and, the actual past, we did not and cannot observe, all is reconstruction with a disturbingly high degree of circularity), the fossils speak to discrete islands of morphology, not to a well-rooted, smoothly incrementally developing and branching tree of life on a contiguous continent of functional forms from amoeba to Einstein.

    The fossil-anchored Darwinian tree of life is a myth.

    Indeed, there is no one tree, once we look at the many conflicting molecular reconstructions.

    So, we will hear the confident declarations, but we should recall the challenge of the facts to all such creedal declarations. However sincere.

    KF

  144. Jerad:

    How is: by a step-by-step process of molecular variation.

    IOW you have no idea. Thank you for finally admitting that your position has absolutely no clue as to the “how”.

    Common design could explain it if you can be more specific regarding when, how and why.

    Molecular variation is the how-

  145. F/N: More from Gould:

    ________

    >> “The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.” [[Stephen Jay Gould (Professor of Geology and Paleontology, Harvard University), 'Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?' Paleobiology, vol.6(1), January 1980,p. 127.]

    “All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between the major groups are characteristically abrupt.” [[Stephen Jay Gould 'The return of hopeful monsters'. Natural History, vol. LXXXVI(6), June-July 1977, p. 24.]

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils. Yet Darwin was so wedded to gradualism that he wagered his entire theory on a denial of this literal record:

    The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find intermediate varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps [[ . . . . ] He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record will rightly reject my whole theory.[[Cf. Origin, Ch 10, "Summary of the preceding and present Chapters," also see similar remarks in Chs 6 and 9.]

    Darwin’s argument still persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution. In exposing its cultural and methodological roots, I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism (for all general views have similar roots). I wish only to point out that it was never “seen” in the rocks.

    Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.” [[Stephen Jay Gould 'Evolution's erratic pace'. Natural History, vol. LXXXVI95), May 1977, p.14.] >>

    _______

    Remember, Gould’s knowledge of the fossil world and of the state of fossil science was encyclopedic.

    If those who trot out claims on that record cannot cogently answer to Gould with a multitude of counter-examples — not cherry-picked much headlined cases that tend to fall apart on closer examination as has repeatedly happened for 150 years — that show incremental progression from one major body plan to another, they should not be allowed to claim that here is an empirically warranted incremental Darwinist tree of life and they should not be allowed to claim that body plan level macro evolution is an empirical fact.

    KF

  146. Joe:

    I have already laid out a linear progression from what we have done over the past 30 – 40 years with genetic technologies, to the obvious conclusion that genetic and cellular engineering in a molecular nanotech lab is quite feasible. Indeed, we can say that to a material degree, it is being done on an almost routine basis around us.

    To then pretend that in the teeth of this, we cannot infer from empirically reliable sign, FSCO/I, to the signified explanation, design, in favour of proposed mechanisms that do not have empirical warrant, is revealing.

    To then go on to demand that we have observations from the known unobservable remote past, is selective hyperskepticism.

    All of this brings us back to the Newtonian uniformity principle: when we see a known adequate process that leads to reliable signs, we have every good reason to infer that like causes like, and to hold that in the teeth of any and all contrary metaphysical speculations and doctrines that do not have that sort of empirical warrant. In other worlds, we are well within our scientific rights to insist on the credibility of inductive generalisation on signs that reliably point to known adequate cause.

    That is what design theory is about, and it is why in the end, once people realise what is at stake in rejecting it — driving the proverbial stake through the heart of scientific methods and empirical reasoning — it will prevail.

    There is a lot of sound and fury, but noise and intimidation or clinging to the orthodoxy of the day do not make up for logical gaps like this one.

    KF

  147. KF,

    I have figured out that reasoning is useless so now I am just playing.

    Ya see even with all you have posted- good stuff- Jerad still needs “independent” evidence for the designer- like a fossil, a video or a meeting. Who has time for someone like that?

  148. KF

    Thank you for the quotes by Guold. Very interesting, but also very obvious too when you think about it.

    I honestly don’t see how anyone can look at the fossil record, for any supposed period in time, and see any form of ‘evolution’ from one body plan to another.

    P

  149. PeterJ,

    What I really liked about Dr Prothero’s book was how he spelled out, in lots of detail but at a layman’s level, how the fossil record is examined and interpreted. I don’t believe in evolution just because of the fossil record although it’s one of the major lines of evidence supporting the theory. But even though I understood the basics it was nice to have Dr Prothero’s more in-depth discussions of the whole field. I have read lots of books supporting evolutionary theory but they are generally generalist tomes not completely diving into any one line of evidence. Obviously one book, no matter how good, cannot convey the expertise gained from decades of experience but it was a very good try. I wish I could find books that did the same for the morphological, genetic and biogeographic evidence as well. Hmmmmm, maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough.

    Anyway, that may not have fully answered your question but I will have another think! I don’t think I’ve really addressed the how it supports evolution really yet. And, I admit, I read it already believing in the theory.

  150. Joe,

    Ya see even with all you have posted- good stuff- Jerad still needs “independent” evidence for the designer- like a fossil, a video or a meeting. Who has time for someone like that?

    Well, you keep asking me for evidence for evolutionary theory. I keep hearing that intelligence is the only OBSERVED source for complex specified information. I was only asking for some evidence, observed or otherwise aside from DNA, that there was a designer around capable of what is being claimed s/he did . . . whatever that is. No one can really say for some reason. But I live in hope some of the participants in this forum will enlighten me regarding their views as PeterJ has so kindly done. I have great respect for him, he was honest and straightforward. I will not argue with him over his faith which sustains and enriches him, it would be cruel to do otherwise. AND illogical.

    If you’re not going to take the discussion seriously then I guess it’s over. Oh well.

    Unless you want to trade jokes . . . What’s the worst part about being a materialist? Not being able to say ‘I told you so!’ after you die.

  151. KF,

    On dating, please cf here on.

    Your link is only to the top of your IOSE page. Could you narrow it down a bit? Or summarise your argument?

    And, I repeat, we start from what we have: sound, empirically based answers, and build out from there. We do not impose materialist a prioris, known inadequate processes that cannot account for FSCO/I — and given the von Neumann self replicator and the needle in the haystack challenge, that includes in the world of life — and we do not accept that because we do not have some answers, we should drop the answers that we do have.

    As I said, I accept design as an argument. But regarding evoution’s hows, whys and whens at this point the design inference has got less explanatory power AND only one line of (disputed) evidence.

    Humble admission of what we do not know is better than pretensions that that which is grossly inadequate is what we should project to the public and to kids in school as being as practically certain as that the planets orbit the sun.

    There’s A LOT in evolutionary theory that is not known. And the OoL is . . . not quite guess-work but in its infancy for sure. Maybe not, I don’t keep up on that. But, since we can’t measure and define the divine and since there’s no real evidence for an intelligent designer aside from DNA (which is disputed greatly) I’ll settle on the evolutionary theory model for now.

    In short, even when interpreted along the conventional timeline (and, the actual past, we did not and cannot observe, all is reconstruction with a disturbingly high degree of circularity), the fossils speak to discrete islands of morphology, not to a well-rooted, smoothly incrementally developing and branching tree of life on a contiguous continent of functional forms from amoeba to Einstein.

    And yet Dr Gould and Dr Dawkins and Dr Coyne and Dr Prothero and lots and lots of other people who have spent decades examining the evidence still accept the evolutionary model.

    The fossil-anchored Darwinian tree of life is a myth.

    I think the genetic evidence will win out in the end.

    Indeed, there is no one tree, once we look at the many conflicting molecular reconstructions.

    I’m thinking that some of the confusion might be due to cross-fertilisation before a final species split. Like between Neanderthals and Home Sapiens. Just a thought, I am not a biologist in any way, shape or form.

    So, we will hear the confident declarations, but we should recall the challenge of the facts to all such creedal declarations. However sincere.

    Far enough. Especially if you’ve got an alternate model which has the same explanatory power.

    If those who trot out claims on that record cannot cogently answer to Gould with a multitude of counter-examples — not cherry-picked much headlined cases that tend to fall apart on closer examination as has repeatedly happened for 150 years — that show incremental progression from one major body plan to another, they should not be allowed to claim that here is an empirically warranted incremental Darwinist tree of life and they should not be allowed to claim that body plan level macro evolution is an empirical fact.

    Dr Gould himself answered his challenge: he was a Darwinist. There was no death-bed conversion from Dr Gould.

    I have already laid out a linear progression from what we have done over the past 30 – 40 years with genetic technologies, to the obvious conclusion that genetic and cellular engineering in a molecular nanotech lab is quite feasible. Indeed, we can say that to a material degree, it is being done on an almost routine basis around us.

    Yup, we’re getting there.

    To then pretend that in the teeth of this, we cannot infer from empirically reliable sign, FSCO/I, to the signified explanation, design, in favour of proposed mechanisms that do not have empirical warrant, is revealing.

    You can infer that, I’d prefer to have more, independent evidence.

    To then go on to demand that we have observations from the known unobservable remote past, is selective hyperskepticism.

    And yet, ID proponents are always asking for step-by-step proof that non-directed processes did what evolutionary theory says they did. How can anyone, ever ‘prove’ how something happened in the far past? We draw inferences based on what processes we observe in effect today that can be safely assumed were still in effect at the time in question.

    All of this brings us back to the Newtonian uniformity principle: when we see a known adequate process that leads to reliable signs, we have every good reason to infer that like causes like, and to hold that in the teeth of any and all contrary metaphysical speculations and doctrines that do not have that sort of empirical warrant. In other worlds, we are well within our scientific rights to insist on the credibility of inductive generalisation on signs that reliably point to known adequate cause.

    I completely agree with uniformity. But you can’t infer a cause like intelligence, currently observable, to have been in effect in the distance past without proof that such an intelligence existed at the time! Intelligence is not a basic force of the universe. It requires an agent. What agent was around at the time in question? What were its abilities? How did it operate? What were it’s motives?

    That is what design theory is about, and it is why in the end, once people realise what is at stake in rejecting it — driving the proverbial stake through the heart of scientific methods and empirical reasoning — it will prevail.

    Design theory has to withstand the same scrutiny as any other hypothesis. It has to have data which cannot be explained in any other way. It has to be testable. It has to be definable. It has to have explanatory power for all the data. It has to have few assumptions as possible. It has to stand up regardless of the creed or beliefs of the person examining it.

    There is a lot of sound and fury, but noise and intimidation or clinging to the orthodoxy of the day do not make up for logical gaps like this one.

    I agree. Show/explain to the world what ID is really saying regarding the how, why and when questions and see how it fairs. Seriously.

  152. KF,

    Okay, I found your radiometric dating techniques criticism.

    You’ve got a case of a supposed problem . . . does that mean the whole system gets thrown out? There is an implication that researchers reject conflicting dates. Is that just supposition or is there clear evidence that this is a real problem? I guess you’ve not arguing with the science of radiometric dating . . .but I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

    Perhaps you should clearly state the problems you see.

  153. Jerad:

    You seem to have just skimmed. I am warning that the whole geodating system has too many imponderables begged, so we would be well advised to reckon with circularities and uncertainties rather than toss dates around as though practically certain. I have much more respect for the sort of timelines that are supported by say the HR stellar patterns of star clusters. That is why that page leads with an example of origin science done right.

    but this is not opening yet another tangential debate. I am highlighting that we have not observed the ACTUAL past and need to be duly cautious in reconstructions.

    You will also notice, that I put far more stock in the implications of tested and found reliable signs, than in what too often pivots on little more than just so stories.

    KF

  154. PS: Remember, it takes just one fact to overturn a mountain of appeals to authority. And we are in a context that has to reckon with the biasing effect of a priori materialism. in this case there is just one empirically and analytically warranted source of FSCO/I. Design. Which evidently cuts across the bias.

  155. Jerad,

    ‘What I really liked about Dr Prothero’s book was how he spelled out, in lots of detail but at a layman’s level, how the fossil record is examined and interpreted.’

    That’s quite funny because it is exactly that which made me think that all isn’t right with this line of reasoning.

    I thank you for your reply, although I think you have already conceded that there isn’t much for me to debate there. You see fossils and see ‘evolution in action’, I see fossils and see ‘stasis’.

    Nearly all Paleontologists agree that the fossil record, especially where dinosaurs are concerned, does not show the kind of evolution we are discussing here.

    I think it’s fairly obvious that we are just going to have to agree to disagree on this. But I would be very interested to hear you explain in some more detail why you think Prothero’s take on the fossil record supports evolution.

    If you could do that for me I would be very gratefull.

    Thanks for your kind words earlier Jerad, and the same goes to you.

    P

  156. KF,

    You seem to have just skimmed. I am warning that the whole geodating system has too many imponderables begged, so we would be well advised to reckon with circularities and uncertainties rather than toss dates around as though practically certain. I have much more respect for the sort of timelines that are supported by say the HR stellar patterns of star clusters. That is why that page leads with an example of origin science done right.

    Imponderables begged? Really? We observe properties of physics and assume that exactly the same processes occurred in the past? Star clusters can’t help us date fossils.

    but this is not opening yet another tangential debate. I am highlighting that we have not observed the ACTUAL past and need to be duly cautious in reconstructions.

    Which is why we only assume known and observed processes are active in the past. Not agents unless there is independent evidence of them being around at the time.

    You will also notice, that I put far more stock in the implications of tested and found reliable signs, than in what too often pivots on little more than just so stories.

    Yet you are willing to infer an agent which you have no evidence existed ever. In my opinion.

    PS: Remember, it takes just one fact to overturn a mountain of appeals to authority. And we are in a context that has to reckon with the biasing effect of a priori materialism. in this case there is just one empirically and analytically warranted source of FSCO/I. Design. Which evidently cuts across the bias.

    IF you could establish that DNA was created by a designer then I’d agree.

  157. PeterJ,

    I thank you for your reply, although I think you have already conceded that there isn’t much for me to debate there. You see fossils and see ‘evolution in action’, I see fossils and see ‘stasis’.

    I see fossils like photos in an album, snapshots along the way illustrating moments in a great continuum. If you looked at someone’s family photo album you’d not assume that those people had no lives except what was illustrated in the snapshots. Fossils are deathmasks of SOME of the lifeforms that have existed. But only some. Each one of those fossils had precursors, many left offspring. I haven’t got pictures of all my ancestors but I know they existed or I wouldn’t be here!

    Also, I believe in evolution because of multiple lines of evidence not just the fossils.

    I think it’s fairly obvious that we are just going to have to agree to disagree on this. But I would be very interested to hear you explain in some more detail why you think Prothero’s take on the fossil record supports evolution.

    Firstly he understands what evolutionary theory means. He is then able to show how the fossil record is exactly the sort of thing we’d expect to see if evolutionary theory is true. He also addresses lots of objections and explains why they are incorrect.

    There isn’t a particular argument or case that I want to point to. It’s Dr Prothero’s approach and his knowledge of the evolutionary processes and his deep knowledge of the fossil record that make the book valuable to me.

    Thanks for your kind words earlier Jerad, and the same goes to you.

    You are very welcome! I hope you have a grand and glorious Sunday!

  158. Bye the way, I was curious as to what Johnny von Neumann had to say about self replicators and I came across this extended quote:

    Anybody who looks at living organisms knows perfectly well that they can produce other organisms like themselves. This is their normal function, they wouldn’t exist if they didn’t do this, and it’s plausible that this is the reason why they abound in the world. In other words, living organisms are very complicated aggregations of elementary parts, and by any reasonable theory of probability or thermodynamics highly improbable. That they should occur in the world at all is a miracle of the first magnitude; the only thing which removes, or mitigates, this miracle is that they reproduce themselves. Therefore, if by any peculiar accident there should ever be one of them, from there on the rules of probability do not apply, and there will be many of them, at least if the milieu is reasonable. But a reasonable milieu is already a thermodynamically much less improbable thing. So, the operations of probability somehow leave a loophole at this point, and it is by the process of self-reproduction that they are pierced.

    Furthermore, it’s equally evident that what goes on is actually one degree better than self-reproduction, for organisms appear to have gotten more elaborate in the course of time. Today’s organisms are phylogenetically descended from others which were vastly simpler than they are, so much simpler, in fact, that it’s inconceivable how any kind of description of the later, complex organisms could have existed in the earlier one. It’s not easy to imagine in what sense a gene, which is probably a low order affair, can contain a description of the human being which will come from it. But in this case you can say that since the gene has its effect only within another human organism, it probably need not contain a complete description of what is to happen, but only a few cues for a few alternatives. However, this is not so in phylogenetic evolution. That starts from simple entities, surrounded by an unliving amorphous milieu, and produces something more complicated. Evidently, these organisms have the ability to produce something more complicated than themselves.

    The other line of argument, which leads to the opposite conclusion, arises from looking at artificial automata. Everyone knows that a machine tool is more complicated than the elements which can be made with it, and that, generally speaking, an automaton A, which can make an automaton B, must contain a complete description of B and also rules on how to behave while effecting the synthesis. So, one gets a very strong impression that complication, or productive potentiality in an organization, is degenerative, that an organization which synthesizes something is necessarily more complicated, of a higher order, than the organization it synthesizes. This conclusion, arrived at by considering artificial automata, is clearly opposite to our earlier conclusion, arrived at by considering living organisms.

    I think that some relatively simple combinatorial discussions of artificial automata can contribute to mitigating this dilemma. Appealing to the organic, living world does not help us greatly, because we do not understand enough about how natural organisms function. We will stick to automata which we know completely because we made them, either actual artificial automata or paper automata described completely by some finite set of logical axioms. It is possible in this domain to describe automata which can reproduce themselves. So at least one can show that on the site where one would expect complication to be degenerative it is not necessarily degenerative at all, and, in fact, the production of a more complicated object from a less complicated object is possible.

    The conclusion one should draw from this is that complication is degenerative below a certain minimum level. This conclusion is quite in harmony with other results in formal logics, to which I have referred a few times earlier during these lectures. … There is a minimum number of parts below which complication is degenerative, in the sense that if one automaton makes another the second is less complex than the first, but above which it is possible for an automaton to construct other automata of equal or higher complexity. …

    There is thus this completely decisive property of complexity, that there exists a critical size below which the process of synthesis is degenerative, but above which the phenomenon of synthesis, if properly arranged, can become explosive, in other words, where synthesis of automata can proceed in such a manner that each automaton will produce other automata which are more complex and of higher potentialities than itself.

    (Reproduced in Papers of John von Neumann on Computing and Computer Theory, W. Aspray and A. Burks, eds., MIT Press, pp 481-482

  159. Jerad:

    Do you appreciate why a sample of 1,000 randomly selected people often gives a very good +/- 3% or so picture of the US population of 300 Millions?

    In short, sampling theory tells us that — and why — a random or close enough sample [or, actually most samples . . . ] tend to reflect the dominant patterns of a population.

    In the case of the fossil world, as has already been pointed out to you, since Darwin’s day, we have had a scouring of the world’s sedimentary beds (with, BTW, a big boost from the energy industry . . . ) across all eras of the conventional timeline/geological column. As a result, we have looked at billions of fossils in situ, have many millions groaning on museum storage shelves, and have considerably north of 250,000 fossil species on record.

    There is every reason to see that the consistent pattern of that record over the past 150 years is predominant and reflects the major patterns of the world of life. Namely, isolation of forms. This is usually expressed in terms of sudden appearance, stasis and disappearance (with cases like coelacanth showing both disappearance and continuity to the current world).

    So, the plea that the fossils support incremental body form transformation is not supported by the evidence, and indeed may well be flat contradicted by it. That is in part why Gould et al came up with a theory of invisibility of asserted evolutionary change.

    That is, the evidence is not there, but it is not the evidence that drives the theory, it is the dominant paradigm, underpinned by the worldview trends of the intelligentsia over the past 200 or so years. That is how we end up with attempts to redefine science on terms that build in evolutionary materialism a priori, by the back door. Which in turn undermines the ostensive commitment of science to seek the unfettered truth about our world in light of empirical evidence.

    And so we end up with a theory that is dominant in the teeth of the mute weight of the evidence.

    Which is something the onlooking public has a right to know, and the students in our schools also have a right to know, on pain of reducing public and formal education to indoctrination, i.e. fact-twisting, manipulative propaganda.

    No wonder Philip Johnson, replying to Lewontin and though him others, warned:

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

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

    You will understand why I will summarise your remarks just above as a disguised concession.

    The evidence of your “snapshots” does not say what you want, and what Darwin hoped and expected — yet another collapsed expectation/prediction, but the system stands.

    So, we are in our rights to draw out that the dominant pattern of the fossil record, after 150 years of diligent search — and despite the misleading headlines, museum exhibits, and textbook or Nat Geog Channel icons, declarations, reconstructions and footage, and even outright fraud [ a la Haeckel] etc — is that we have islands of body forms. Precisely the opposite to what the darwinian tree of incrementally varying life forms branching out by RV + NS, would lead us to have expected.

    And in all of this, we need to remember, that the diversification to yield the varied forms is so complex that transitional forms SHOULD be utterly statistically dominant, e.g. cf Berlinski’s estimate that it would take maybe 50,000 steps to make a cow-like animal into a whale like one, that is, 50,000:2. The like obtains for ever so many other variations. The linking, half-half forms therefore should be 90+% of the world of life, and should be what we mostly pick up in cross-sections, if life developed by a process of incremental variation and fixation of such.

    Links should not be consistently missing, they should be THE dominant feature of the world of life, once we accept that there is no reason that floods, volcanic eruptions etc should be correlated with a neat pattern of “snapshots” that somehow manages to overwhelmingly consistently miss transitional forms; though we do have a good number of mosaics on record, in fossils and as still living forms. Mosaics, not transitional forms, mosaics like the platypus that point to a library of adaptable genetic info, not an evolving tree.

    Yet, the hoped for links are overwhelmingly, consistently missing.

    Right from the Cambrian fossil life revolution on.

    Which is still top down, main branches first.

    Discrete major forms, and onward discrete lesser forms that require abundant FSCO/I to work.

    In short, after 150 years, the fossils still say a loud no to the Darwinian macro-evo picture. If we are listening.

    That is empirical disconfirmation if there ever was.

    The only empirically supported explanation of this pattern is that once we note how FSCO/I rich it is, and once we look seriously at the observations and analysis that support the contention that FSCO/I is a signature of design, we are looking at eloquent evidence of designed forms.

    And, the timeline is irrelevant, 500 – 1,000 bits is sufficient to swamp the atomic level resources of our solar system or the observed cosmos, respectively; across the 13.7 BY that are available on the usual cosmological timelines, where we have the worked out physics of collapsing H-gas balls, the resulting main sequence lifespans that are reasonable for stars, and the associated HR diagrams of star clusters with branches from the main sequence heading for the giants branch that are consistent with 10 or so BY as galactic lifespan. The evidence points to 100,000+ bits of FSCO/I required for first life and 10 – 100+ millions for various multicellular life forms.

    The only known adequate cause of that level of info and organisation, is design.

    We are entitled to take that as a sign of design.

    Even, where we do not separately know the exact technology or designers involved.

    What is more, biogeography, homologies, etc etc similarly support a picture of common design. (Don’t forget, Wallace, co-founder of evolutionary theory, heavily emphasised bio-geog in his work, and was a design thinker from 1869 on. No prizes for guessing why he has been relegated to footnote status, given what we are seeing.)

    The evidence points to common design, the ideology demands darwinist gradualism and an incrementally evolving tree of life. The ideology has been winning.

    It is time to blow the whistle and halt the juggernaut.

    KF

  160. F/N: JvN of course is hinting at the key challenge of complexity. Notice, the underlying issue is to get to the threshold level beyond which there can be some incremental elaboration. In addition, we are not dealing with linear incrementalism, but with radical diversity of forms in an integrated complex. So, over and over again, we have to cross the space of non-functional forms to get to zones of novel functional forms capable of elaboration. Multiply this by the FSCO/I issue and we came right back tot he islands of function issue. But to see that requires thinking outside the Darwinist, a priori materialist box. I am ever more convinced that this is the big problem.

  161. KF,

    Do you appreciate why a sample of 1,000 randomly selected people often gives a very good +/- 3% or so picture of the US population of 300 Millions?

    Yup, I have an MS in Mathematics and used to teach statistics.

    In short, sampling theory tells us that — and why — a random or close enough sample [or, actually most samples . . . ] tend to reflect the dominant patterns of a population.

    Yup, a random sample of a defined population (or a stratified random sample) can be very indicative of the whole population. At least as far as it’s opinion is concerned. Are you saying fossils are random samples of past life forms?

    So, the plea that the fossils support incremental body form transformation is not supported by the evidence, and indeed may well be flat contradicted by it. That is in part why Gould et al came up with a theory of invisibility of asserted evolutionary change.

    Interesting that Gould did not give up on evolutionary theory though. Perhaps it’s because evolutionary theory is NOT based solely on the fossil record.

    And so we end up with a theory that is dominant in the teeth of the mute weight of the evidence.

    Including the genetic, biogeographic (which you have not addressed as far as I can remember) and the morphological evidence? And the lack of independent physical evidence for a designer? Or an alternate model which has the same explanatory power and explains the data?

    And in all of this, we need to remember, that the diversification to yield the varied forms is so complex that transitional forms SHOULD be utterly statistically dominant, e.g. cf Berlinski’s estimate that it would take maybe 50,000 steps to make a cow-like animal into a whale like one, that is, 50,000:2. The like obtains for ever so many other variations. The linking, half-half forms therefore should be 90+% of the world of life, and should be what we mostly pick up in cross-sections, if life developed by a process of incremental variation and fixation of such.

    Hmmm . . . I can’t recall that Dr Berlinski has ever tested his idea in the peer-reviewed biological forum. And I can’t recall that he has any special background or training that makes his pronouncement especially significant. I think my assumption that there were life forms between those that were lucky enough to leave fossils that we have discovered is more parsimonious than to infer a designer who has left no physical evidence of their work or intentions. And if you buy the front-loading argument and the designer did not interfere after a certain stage they you are also making the assumption there are intermediate forms that did not fossilise.

    Links should not be consistently missing, they should be THE dominant feature of the world of life, once we accept that there is no reason that floods, volcanic eruptions etc should be correlated with a neat pattern of “snapshots” that somehow manages to overwhelmingly consistently miss transitional forms; though we do have a good number of mosaics on record, in fossils and as still living forms. Mosaics, not transitional forms, mosaics like the platypus that point to a library of adaptable genetic info, not an evolving tree.

    As I don’t think evolution is a guided process, i.e. there is no goal or target, then I consider all species to be transitional forms from what came before to what came later. Therefore all fossils ARE transitional forms.

    In short, after 150 years, the fossils still say a loud no to the Darwinian macro-evo picture. If we are listening.

    What does the biogeographic evidence say? What about the ability of random mutation and selection to take wolves to all the varieties of dogs? Or why whales have internal hind legs? Or all the various diseases that have killed more human beings than any despot or pogrom? What about allergies? Who thought they were a good idea?

    And, the timeline is irrelevant, 500 – 1,000 bits is sufficient to swamp the atomic level resources of our solar system or the observed cosmos, respectively; across the 13.7 BY that are available on the usual cosmological timelines, where we have the worked out physics of collapsing H-gas balls, the resulting main sequence lifespans that are reasonable for stars, and the associated HR diagrams of star clusters with branches from the main sequence heading for the giants branch that are consistent with 10 or so BY as galactic lifespan. The evidence points to 100,000+ bits of FSCO/I required for first life and 10 – 100+ millions for various multicellular life forms.

    The timeline is irrelevant? Really? Does that mean you are not contesting the dating techniques?

    The only known adequate cause of that level of info and organisation, is design.

    That is your opinion. Even carbon atoms will spontaneously arrange themselves into structures given the right environmental conditions.

    I know you don’t buy the climbing Mt Improbable contention (although it seems Johnny von Neumann did) but your argument is just that the sample space is too big even though no biologist says the space was going to be randomly sampled. AND, even if that was the case, for life to get started it only has to hit a lucky combination once.

    Even, where we do not separately know the exact technology or designers involved.

    Well, I like to have more evidence personally. And people will ask questions . . .

    What is more, biogeography, homologies, etc etc similarly support a picture of common design. (Don’t forget, Wallace, co-founder of evolutionary theory, heavily emphasised bio-geog in his work, and was a design thinker from 1869 on. No prizes for guessing why he has been relegated to footnote status, given what we are seeing.)

    Okay, you are addressing the biogeographic data. Cool. Although you don’t really argue against it except to invoke Wallace. Too bad, I was hoping you’d talk about things like marsupials and old vs. new world monkeys. Oh well.

    I know about Wallace, he’s hardly hidden from view to anyone who bothers to look. Even Dr Shermer wrote a book about him. I can’t say what his opinion would be 100 years on and with the genetic evidence he didn’t have access to. Are you very, very sure he’d still be a design proponent?

    It is time to blow the whistle and halt the juggernaut.

    Well, find some evidence and come up with a model that has the same explanatory power and only invokes known processes and agents. Do the work and make the case.

    If you just said it was a matter of faith I wouldn’t argue with you. You are making scientific claims and almost all of the qualified scientists in the world disagree with you. Maybe you are right but you’re going to have to work harder to prove your case. Science is, and should be, fairly conservative. And, according to the vast majority of working scientists, you haven’t toppled the model yet.

  162. KF,

    Notice, the underlying issue is to get to the threshold level beyond which there can be some incremental elaboration.

    He didn’t say what it was though. Has anyone proved a biological threshold?

    And he definitely said you can get increased complexity via self replication which I keep hearing from ID proponents is not possible.

  163. Jerad:

    This is disappointing and even subtly disrespectful, after some weeks and after I have already answered it over and over:

    . . . you are willing to infer an agent which you have no evidence existed ever.

    I have to ask you to stop this sort of subtle insinuation of irrationality, backed up by a bland dismissal of in fact abundant evidence.

    If you disagree with my reasoning on observed evidence per the Newtonian uniformity principle in light of inductive logic and inference to best explanation, do please show us why; kindly do not further subtly and snidely deride and dismiss such reasoning and evidence as empty question-begging rooted in “no evidence.”

    That phrase, in short, is snide and should be taken back. Do, kindly note that you are here dealing with someone who has dealt with the evidence and linked reasoning, literally at book-length, cf here on.

    Let us review, in relatively short steps of thought:

    1 –> We have a question of inference on sign. A characteristic and long-standing, highly successful and indeed inevitable pattern of inductive reasoning. Here is Aristotle in The Rhetoric, Bk I Ch 2:

    [1357b] Of Signs, one kind bears the same relation to the statement it supports as the particular bears to the universal, the other the same as the universal bears to the particular. The infallible kind is a “complete proof” (tekmerhiou); the fallible kind has no specific name. By infallible signs I mean those on which syllogisms proper may be based: and this shows us why this kind of Sign is called “complete proof”: when people think that what they have said cannot be refuted, they then think that they are bringing forward a “complete proof,” meaning that the matter has now been demonstrated and completed (peperhasmeuou ); for the word perhas has the same meaning (of “end” or “boundary”) as the word tekmarh in the ancient tongue. Now the one kind of Sign (that which bears to the proposition it supports the relation of particular to universal) may be illustrated thus. Suppose it were said, “The fact that Socrates was wise and just is a sign that the wise are just.” Here we certainly have a Sign; but even though the proposition be true, the argument is refutable, since it does not form a syllogism. Suppose, on the other hand, it were said, “The fact that he has a fever is a sign that he is ill,” or, “The fact that she is giving milk is a sign that she has lately borne a child.” Here we have the infallible kind of Sign, the only kind that constitutes a complete proof, since it is the only kind that, if the particular statement is true, is irrefutable. The other kind of Sign, that which bears to the proposition it supports the relation of universal to particular, might be illustrated by saying, “The fact that he breathes fast is a sign that he has a fever.” This argument also is refutable, even if the statement about the fast breathing be true, since a man may breathe hard without having a fever.

    It has, then, been stated above what is the nature of a Probability, of a Sign, and of a complete proof, and what are the differences between them . . .

    2 –> In inductive reasoning, we have every right to infer that if a known adequate cause that has no alternative known adequate causes leaves certain characteristic observable signs, then if we see the sign, the sign counts as evidence — indeed, often STRONG or even decisive or demonstrative evidence — of the presence of the known adequate cause. (Observe Ari’s remarks on that. This is not exactly a recent development of thought. Science pivots on identifying things from their signs, and since it is incapable of demonstration of proposed laws beyond correction, it seeks to provide empirically reliable patterns of thought on signs.)

    3 –> Here, we know that FSCO/I is known to be caused by intelligence, per a massive observational base including even posts in this thread. We also know that per the million monkeys and needle in the haystack type analysis, that there is no credible reason to expect that FSCO/I in particular, beyond 500 – 1,000 bits, will emerge by chance and/or mechanical necessity. In any context.

    4 –> The usual objection here is to pretend or suggest that in the world of life we have a major exception. This as I have just pointed out, in the teeth of evidence that there is no exception, i.e. there is in fact no empirical reason to believe that there is a continuous tree of life that incrementally flowed out of one or a few primitive unicellular forms.

    5 –> There is instead, every reason to see that life forms fit into the common pattern that when something is based on the assembly of many well-matched parts into a functional whole, slight derangement or destruction of parts often yields catastrophic collapse of function. The .22 bullet in the head of a cow, is a good example. And there are many, many others. The world of life is not exceptional to the pattern that FSCO/I comes in islands in a vastly larger config space utterly dominated by non-functional forms.

    6 –> So, the 500 – 1,000 bit threshold comes in as the zone where atomic resources of our solar system or the cosmos as a whole will be utterly dominated by the space. We can only sample a tiny fraction of it, and have no reasonable right to expect that a blind chance and necessity walk across configs will land us to a shoreline of complex specific function.

    7 –> This is most evident in the case at the root of the Darwinist tree of life, OOL. For, at this juncture, there is no already existing joining of metabolic constructor to self-replication controlled by a digital, algorithmic, symbolic code and carried out by molecular nanomachines.

    8 –> So, the complexity threshold of 100,000+ bits has to be crossed, without being able to appeal to existing self-replication. the only known, empirically and analytically adequate basis for that is design.

    9 –> So, we have known reliable sign and we have inferred causal basis per best explanation.

    10 –> Origin of life screams design, in short.

    11 –> Could it be lying, merely designoid? The problem with inferring that as explanation, is that it is an appeal to statistical miracles in the teeth of the evidence.

    12 –> So, the only reasonable basis for resorting to that is if we have in hand decisive evidence that a designer was not POSSIBLE at the origin of life.

    13 –> Absent such a demonstration, to resort to a statistical miracle (soon, to be backed up by dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds of even more extreme ones) is a sign of selective hyperskepticism because of metaphysical preference or prejudice, not a sign of an evidence-led conclusion.

    14 –> And even if one makes this his or her own view, there is no proper right to impose this as a censoring a priori on science practice and science education, formal or popular.

    15 –> In short, dismissive assertions notwithstanding, we have strong evidence of design at the root of the tree of life.

    16 –> Let us put that directly: When was the last time you saw algorithms, code [plus underlying language], storage units, readers and execution machines spontaneously originating by blind chance and mechanical necessity? By design?

    17 –> The answers are obvious and speak loud and clear for themselves.

    18 –> Next, we come to the various body plans from the Cambrian revolution on to our own origins. Again and again, we are looking at increments of FSCO/I from 10 – 100+ mn or even bns of bits. We see fossil and other evidence that consistently points to discrete islands of function, as has already been highlighted just above.

    19 –> So, it is highly reasonable accept that such FSCO/I is a reliable sign of the only observed adequate cause, and is itself evidence that a designer was present at the origin of life and of body plans, up to our own. (We have already shown that it is reasonable to see that a molecular nanotech lab using extensions of techniques already in routine operation, could do the job.)

    20 –> In the teeth of this, the denial that such reliable signs point to the only empirically known and analytically warranted adequate cause of such signs, is selectively hyperskeptical.

    21 –> That is, just as I found 30 years ago with the then dominant Marxists, there is clearly a controlling a priori that leads to rejection of what would otherwise be “a no-brainer.”

    22 –> Namely, the sort of Lewontinian a priori materialism that seeks to even redefine science on materialist ideology.

    23 –> Whether you yourself formally adhere to that ideology or simply are accommodating it makes little difference.

    24 –> I cannot make you abandon such an a priori, but I can spotlight it and identify how it affects your conclusions.

    25 –> On the strength of that, I have every right to require of you that you not tax me with a false insinuation of question-begging, for I have gone through a process of comparative difficulties across live options, as just outlined in summary.

    __________

    And, that is therefore my formal request, that you respect my right to — having undertaken a responsible process of analysis and reasoning per inductively based inference to best explanation in light of evidence — draw a different conclusion from yours.

    Plainly, there is evidence on signs that points to a designer. Surely, that should be adequate to warrant such an inference on best explanation.

    So, kindly have some respect.

    GEM of TKI

  164. PS: Let me make two points clear: (i) I am calling every butcher’s shop, every ER, every Hospital, every Medical practitioner, every Vet, and the whole science of pathology as witness to the fact of islands of function, (ii) I am not merely inferring on best explanation, but doing so in the context of origins science and science in general as well as broader inductive reasoning.

  165. Jerad

    FYI, once life forms are pushed below about 300 kbases of genome, they collapse. There are life forms with down to 100k or so bases, but they are parasitic. The threshold for the code of functional independent life is closer to 1/2 – 1 mn bases than to 100,000.

    KF

  166. Kf,

    I do apologise. I think we’re both getting a bit repetitive and frustrated so it’s probably time to quit. I certainly do feel that I have a greater understanding of your position than I did before we started. And I think my explanations of my view are not saying anything new. I am not a trained biologist or geologist so it’s not too surprising my efforts fall somewhat short of the mark.

    I completely agree that you have the inalienable right to come to a different conclusion than I; that’s the reason I’m participating in this forum: to find out what ID proponents think and why. I don’t agree with you but I do respect your well thought out opinion.

    I do feel that sometime, in this forum, participants are not always respectful of the evolutionary conclusion; lots of references are made to evolutionary theory being brainless, without foundation, completely absurd, a series of tale-tales. I would ask that we all try a bit harder to respect each other viewpoints. I chose to come here and ask some questions. And I did my best to answer questions. I’m a human being so I made mistakes and if any of those were offensive then I am truly sorry about that.

    Anyway GEM, thanks for taking so much time and effort. You’ve given me much insight and for that I am very grateful.

  167. Jerad:

    As a statistician by training, you MUST know that most samples from a population will be representative of its bulk features. And, surely you know the significance of my reference to a lack of correlation between life forms being in complete rather than transitional state, and the incidence of floods, volcano eruptions etc.

    The evidence on its weight is that there is far more than an adequate cross section and for decades there has been a stable pattern, that points to a dominant pattern, indeed and overwhelming pattern.

    As to Gould et al, the facts do not pivot on whether or not they are evolutionists, save that these are admissions against interest. That is why he found himself developing a theory to explain LACK of evidence.

    As for biogeography, I have repeatedly pointed out that the pattern is that of minor adaptation within forms, as is all the actual observed evidence. Recall, taxonomic criteria are significantly subjective and subject to change. For instance I have raised, red deer of Europe and Elk of North America brought to NZ — despite species lines — turned out to be freely interfertile. The family is probably the reasonable threshold for discussion of body plans (in many cases), and the evidence of biogeography is of adaptation, specialisation, small pop founder effects and loss of info in the wider pool of genes with minor effects of mutations [often damaging such as loss of wings or vision]. The Galapagos Finches turned out to be interfertile across quite distinct forms, with famous cases in the literature.

    Biogeography simply does not bear the weight of body plan level macro evo you would put on it.

    Instead, it is evidence of adaptation within a body plan that was already functional.

    The issue is to get to body plans, not to adapt them.

    As to timelines and conventional dates, I am pointing out that 500 – 1,000 bits is so many orders of magnitude inside the actual ranges that we would have to account for, that the solar system and observed cosmos do not have the atomic resources — not enough atoms, not enough time in 13.7 BY, to get us anywhere near a reasonable expectation of spontaneous origin of the FSCO/I observed on blind chance and mechanical necessity. As has been pointed out to you and linked over and over and over.

    Why the insistent repetition of talking points without cogent reply on substance?

    KF

  168. Jerad

    With all due respect I am pointing to your habit of asserting NO EVIDENCE in the teeth of evidence and linked reasoning on widely used and scientifically accepted principles of logic. Please deal with that.

    KF

  169. KF,

    With all due respect I am pointing to your habit of asserting NO EVIDENCE in the teeth of evidence and linked reasoning on widely used and scientifically accepted principles of logic. Please deal with that.

    I can only repeat things I’ve already said and if that was inadequate before it will be again so there’s not much point. My evidence and reasoning are not acceptable so . . .

    Time to let it go I think.

  170. Jerad:

    Pardon my directness, but not so fast.

    What I objected to is your repeated selective hyperskepticism in dismissing evidence of the ROUTINELY OBSERVED — and only observed — adequate cause of FSCO/I (design), and the inductive logic inference that FSCO/I is therefore a reliable sign of design.

    Thus, you have dismissed evidence of design, in favour of a proposed cause, blind chance and mechanical necessity, that has never been observed to actually be efficacious as an original cause of FSCO/I.

    Because we have all been inundated in the notion that chance variation plus differential reproductive success can create novel body plans, I started with the case where reproduction is off the table, OOL. There is no adequate chance and necessity account anchored by observational evidence. But, even the self-replicating facility itself is chock full of FSCO/I. Indeed, digital, algorithmic code and associated molecular nanotech execution machines. Credibly, involving over 100,000 bits. Well past any threshold where chance + necessity could even remotely be plausible as the source.

    So, right from the root, the tree of life, per empirically anchored inference to best explanation on reliable signs, points strongly to design as the cause of cell-based life.

    Design is in the door and sitting at the table as best explanation for OOL. Not on no evidence, but on reliable sign.

    So also, beyond that point, it is just as reasonable to infer design as the cause of major body plans, requiring credibly 10 – 100+ Mbits of increments in FSCO/I dozens of times over. And so on down to our own origin.

    You have put forward the fossil record. In reply, I have documented from relevant expert, that it is consistent with what we should expect from the very nature of FSCO/I: islands of functional configs, in a much wider sea of possible but non-functional configs.In short, when we see the embryo self assembling into a viable body plan, that is not a given by law of necessity, it is an algorithm that has to be explained. And there is just no evidence that incremental variation form an original life form, viable and ecologically dominant all the way, could do this in the time available in our observed cosmos, much less our solar system; our practical universe for chemical interactions.

    As for biogeography, homology, etc etc, the evidence is that these at best speak of adaptations of fully formed body plans. That in a world where given the number of steps of incremental change to do the sorts of transformations required, such transitional forms should utterly dominate the world of life, currently living and fossil. That, notoriously, just is not so.

    That is why you are in the position of dismissing evidence of adequate cause and proposing inadequate causal forces and demanding that they instead be accepted.

    So, not so fast.

    KF

  171. KF,

    What I objected to is your repeated selective hyperskepticism in dismissing evidence of the ROUTINELY OBSERVED — and only observed — adequate cause of FSCO/I (design), and the inductive logic inference that FSCO/I is therefore a reliable sign of design.

    Thus, you have dismissed evidence of design, in favour of a proposed cause, blind chance and mechanical necessity, that has never been observed to actually be efficacious as an original cause of FSCO/I.

    What I rejected was the inference to an agent which has not been proven to exist.

    Because we have all been inundated in the notion that chance variation plus differential reproductive success can create novel body plans, I started with the case where reproduction is off the table, OOL. There is no adequate chance and necessity account anchored by observational evidence. But, even the self-replicating facility itself is chock full of FSCO/I. Indeed, digital, algorithmic code and associated molecular nanotech execution machines. Credibly, involving over 100,000 bits. Well past any threshold where chance + necessity could even remotely be plausible as the source.

    We don’t know what the basic replicator was like yet. I agree, it’s an issue that needs sorting out.

    As for biogeography, homology, etc etc, the evidence is that these at best speak of adaptations of fully formed body plans. That in a world where given the number of steps of incremental change to do the sorts of transformations required, such transitional forms should utterly dominate the world of life, currently living and fossil. That, notoriously, just is not so.

    I’m glad you brought this up ’cause I was meaning to ask you: what do you mean by ‘fully formed body plans’? Can you give me some examples of fully formed and not fully formed body plans so I know what you are referring to.

    That is why you are in the position of dismissing evidence of adequate cause and proposing inadequate causal forces and demanding that they instead be accepted.

    So, not so fast.

    Maybe I’m wrong. I’m not insisting anyone agree with me. I’m just trying to explain my view.

  172. Jerad

    ‘I see fossils like photos in an album, snapshots along the way illustrating moments in a great continuum. If you looked at someone’s family photo album you’d not assume that those people had no lives except what was illustrated in the snapshots. Fossils are deathmasks of SOME of the lifeforms that have existed. But only some. Each one of those fossils had precursors, many left offspring. I haven’t got pictures of all my ancestors but I know they existed or I wouldn’t be here!’

    I have looked at the same evidence for evolution that you have but I’m afraid I don’t quite see what you see. In some ways I wish I could, that would certainly make life easier when discussing creation with non-believers, but after having studied the subject formidably I honestly can’t hold that position.

    I don’t see the family albums you are talking about concerning the Cambrian fossils. You have all these very distinct species with nothing to link them to a common ancestor, and nothing proceeding from them. Same goes for the dinosaurs, at least 700 distinct species, nothing to link any of them together, nothing preceding them and nothing proceeding from them. And of course the same can be said for mammals, both extinct and in existence today, we don’t have a family album depicting how even one of them evolved over time from a common ancestor. Anything that suggests they did therefore is pure speculation as there is no physical evidence to prove it.

    If you could show me an example of one such creature, the fossils that make up the family album, then I will obviously have a rethink. If evolution is the fact you think it is, then surely there must be at least one to choose from.

    Thanks.

    P

  173. PeterJ,

    I have looked at the same evidence for evolution that you have but I’m afraid I don’t quite see what you see. In some ways I wish I could, that would certainly make life easier when discussing creation with non-believers, but after having studied the subject formidably I honestly can’t hold that position.

    It works both ways: you look at things in the world and see purpose and meaning whereas (in some cases) I just see chaos and randomness. I think you need to be true to yourself first and foremost.

    If you could show me an example of one such creature, the fossils that make up the family album, then I will obviously have a rethink. If evolution is the fact you think it is, then surely there must be at least one to choose from.

    Well, it’s not just the fossils. It’s all the other evidence and just what I see as more parsimonious. There isn’t a particular life form that makes the case for me. It’s all the life forms and all the data and what makes sense in the way the world looks to me.

    I’m not in the business of trying to convert or convince anyone. More important than our views of human (and other) origins is that we respect and listen to each other. Regardless of whether we have a spark of the divine or not we need to get to know each other and share our selves.

  174. Jerad:

    At this point you are simply going in circles of repetitive, selectively hyperskpetical assertion that choose to ignore that — per serious investigation and analysis reviewed above in light of the logic of induction — FSCO/I does count as significant and even decisive evidence. As in, sign points to signified.

    I have to go now.

    KF

  175. KF,

    I’m not ignoring anything, I just disagree with you.

    What about the ‘fully formed body plans’?

  176. Joe,

    Molecular variation is the how-

    Could you be more specific?

  177. Jerad

    ‘I see fossils like photos in an album, snapshots along the way illustrating moments in a great continuum.’

    Jerad (and everyone else), I’m sorry to keep banging on about this, but I don’t see evidence of one single species, of anything, having evolved over time in a snapshot manner.

    The sheer lack of transitional fossils is my biggest problem with evolution, I am aware of many other arguments, thanks largely to UD, but this particular problem is suffice for me at the moment.

    Surely, if as Darwin himself predicted, they are out there, then where are they?

    Jerad, you yourself are saying that the fossils we have today are ‘illustrating moments in a great continuum’, but can you please be more specifc. If you know of any fossils that clearly depict this then please would you let me know what it is and where I can find it.

    Thanks

    P

  178. Jerad-

    With ID the molecular variation is part of the design- organisms were designed to evolve and the variation is part of the design.

  179. Joe,

    With ID the molecular variation is part of the design- organisms were designed to evolve and the variation is part of the design.

    Interesting. How is that different from evolutionary theory?

    How does the variation arise? Or do you mean a front loading kind of thing where all future varieties are already inherit in the system?

    Does that mean you think there were transitional forms that did not fossilise?

    Does that mean no designer influence after the initial launch of life forms?

    What was the point of all the species that went extinct then?

    If all the transitional forms had to get slogged through first does that mean that humans were not predestined?

    Are Polio, Maleria, Tuberculosis, Dengue Fever, Ebola, the Plague, Infuenza, Yellow Fever, etc part of the plan?

    If humans were predestined then why not just jump to the tips of the clades?

  180. PeterJ,

    The sheer lack of transitional fossils is my biggest problem with evolution, I am aware of many other arguments, thanks largely to UD, but this particular problem is suffice for me at the moment.

    Surely, if as Darwin himself predicted, they are out there, then where are they?

    Darwin knew there’d be gaps in the fossil record. He found the evidence from breeding, morphology and the geographic distribution of life forms convincing enough.

    Jerad, you yourself are saying that the fossils we have today are ‘illustrating moments in a great continuum’, but can you please be more specifc. If you know of any fossils that clearly depict this then please would you let me know what it is and where I can find it.

    Moments in a continuum like photos in a photo album: not every single event of someone’s life is recorded just not not every single morphological variation was fossilised. But what we have is very persuasive in league with the other data.

    I’m sorry you’re so fixated on the fossils. I don’t think any lineage I suggest would be complete enough. But I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. You’re not looking to change your mind so . . .

  181. Jerad:

    No, I have little interest in the mere psychological fact of disagreement, as well you are aware. In disagreeing, you did a “no evidence” declaration — a common selectively hyperskeptical trick of sweeping contrary evidence off the table with a mere assertion.

    I have again stepped you through the evidence, FSCO/I in the living cell, and what best explains it. To date you have no cogent reply.

    That leaves the matter at selective hyperskepticism on your part.

    As to the newest pretence that we do not know the relevant facts about cells and how they work, kindly note that ALL living cell-based life forms are based on DNA, RNA, proteins etc, and that D/RNA works based on code that drives regulatory behaviour and specifies protein chain AA sequences. Those are facts that have been on the table for decades.

    If you now wish to dispute them, kindly identify the observed alternative architecture of biological life forms.

    And, in any case, that would require explaining the change in system, which would be comparable to OOL.

    In any case, the universality of the pattern clearly implicates a common architecture. It is the origin of this, with metabolism, integrated self replication using a von Neumann replicator and digitally coded control that has to be explained. Sweep it off the table by a hyperskeptical move unsupported by empirical observation is little more than an implicit acknowledgement of the force of the point. Namely, that the only observed, adequate cause of FSCO/I is design.

    Paper speculations do not suffice to overturn that.

    Similarly, the point on body plans is the simple but telling one that we don’t see the overwhelming majority of incrementally transitional forms required if gradualist origin of body plans was so. We find well-formed creatures fully representative of their body plans, as Gould implied.

    We could go on step by step but the pattern is clear enough.

    KF

  182. PS: There are billions of fossils observed, all around the world, in all main sections of the geological column — e.g. Barbados is made up from cubic miles of fossils, especially corals, with a lot of bivalve molluscs. Museums have millions of specimens, altogether over a 1/4 million species. The absolutely overwhelming pattern is appearance without incremental transitional ancestors, stasis and disappearance or continuity to the modern world. There is every reason to believe that transitionals would have vastly outnumbered final forms. So, once fossilising events are un-correlated with the pattern of change, the fossil record SHOULD reflect gradualistic change as dominant pattern, i.e clashing uncorrelated processes are not credibly likely to give a sample that is THAT biased and correlated. As Gould testifies, what Darwin hoped for just has not happened. Darwin’s plea that the record had been poorly surveyed and would move in his favour with exploration has been resoundingly disconfirmed. That is why Gould et al set out to found a theory to explain that absence.

  183. kairosfocus @ 182

    The absolutely overwhelming pattern is appearance without incremental transitional ancestors, stasis and disappearance or continuity to the modern world. There is every reason to believe that transitionals would have vastly outnumbered final forms.

    How do you know that final forms outnumber transitionals unless you can tell transitional forms apart from final forms? Pray, what is the difference you are basing this statement on?

    Not to mention yoiu tacitly admit that there are at least some transitional forms, albeit outnumbered.

    Cheers

  184. KF,

    No, I have little interest in the mere psychological fact of disagreement, as well you are aware. In disagreeing, you did a “no evidence” declaration — a common selectively hyperskeptical trick of sweeping contrary evidence off the table with a mere assertion.

    I believe that the fossil, genetic, morphologic, geographic and breeding evidence are sufficient evidence for universal descent via the undirected processes of genetic modification, drift and selection. Dr von Neumann said he believed it was possible for a self-replicating system to increase complexity without outside input. I have also said that the design inference is stronger for non-lliviing systems which have no way to descend with modification. I have also said that it I find it less parsimonious to infer an hypothesised agent.

    I don’t think that means I have ‘done’ a ‘no evidence’ declaration.

    I have again stepped you through the evidence, FSCO/I in the living cell, and what best explains it. To date you have no cogent reply.

    That leaves the matter at selective hyperskepticism on your part.

    It means I find non-directed processes sufficient and that I chose not to infer to a hypothesised agent.

    As to the newest pretence that we do not know the relevant facts about cells and how they work, kindly note that ALL living cell-based life forms are based on DNA, RNA, proteins etc, and that D/RNA works based on code that drives regulatory behaviour and specifies protein chain AA sequences. Those are facts that have been on the table for decades.

    I said no one knows the nature or structure of the hypothesised first basic replicator which led to the formation of cells.

    If you now wish to dispute them, kindly identify the observed alternative architecture of biological life forms.

    And, in any case, that would require explaining the change in system, which would be comparable to OOL.

    I have said the OoL issue is far from settled and I have made no guesses as to how that will be accomplished.

    In any case, the universality of the pattern clearly implicates a common architecture. It is the origin of this, with metabolism, integrated self replication using a von Neumann replicator and digitally coded control that has to be explained. Sweep it off the table by a hyperskeptical move unsupported by empirical observation is little more than an implicit acknowledgement of the force of the point. Namely, that the only observed, adequate cause of FSCO/I is design.

    I think over 2000 years of observed breeding show the ability of random genetic mutations to provide variation that selection can work upon to create morphological changes and speciation.

    Similarly, the point on body plans is the simple but telling one that we don’t see the overwhelming majority of incrementally transitional forms required if gradualist origin of body plans was so. We find well-formed creatures fully representative of their body plans, as Gould implied.

    You have not spelled out what you mean by ‘fully formed body plans’ so I shall defer answering this until you have done so as I think it might influence my argument.

    I have already said I consider all life forms transitional, links from what has come before to what will arise later. The implication being that species are not fixed or immutable or pre-ordained.

    The absolutely overwhelming pattern is appearance without incremental transitional ancestors, stasis and disappearance or continuity to the modern world. There is every reason to believe that transitionals would have vastly outnumbered final forms. So, once fossilising events are un-correlated with the pattern of change, the fossil record SHOULD reflect gradualistic change as dominant pattern, i.e clashing uncorrelated processes are not credibly likely to give a sample that is THAT biased and correlated. As Gould testifies, what Darwin hoped for just has not happened. Darwin’s plea that the record had been poorly surveyed and would move in his favour with exploration has been resoundingly disconfirmed. That is why Gould et al set out to found a theory to explain that absence.

    As Dr Dawkins has discussed, Dr Gould was still a gradualist and was trying to give a rational explanation for some gaps in the fossil record which all biologists and paleaontolgists agree are to be expected. Unless all the individual life forms that ever existed became fossils there will be gaps. Some life forms were soft bodied and were therefore extremely unlikely to leave physical evidence. Many land dwelling individuals are unlikely to leave remains. In many ways we are lucky to have the fossils we do!!

    And again, please address what you mean by ‘fully formed body plans’ and ‘final forms’ as these terms are not generally used in biological analysis and seem to imply goal or target life forms which I’m pretty sure you did not mean.

  185. Jerad

    ‘I’m sorry you’re so fixated on the fossils. I don’t think any lineage I suggest would be complete enough. But I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. You’re not looking to change your mind so . . .’

    Firstly, I am not fixated on fossils; I am merely investigating what I believe in itself, is a good enough reason to reject Darwinian evolution. Secondly, yes any lineage would do me just fine, however incomplete it may seem to you. And thirdly, the reason that I began investigating evolution in the first place was so that I could make my mind up on the subject once and for all, sadly I haven’t been able to do that.

    I do however, from the evidence I have gathered so far, and not only from that of the fossil record, believe that creation is the best explanation so far.

    As KF explained

    ‘The absolutely overwhelming pattern is appearance without incremental transitional ancestors, stasis and disappearance or continuity to the modern world. There is every reason to believe that transitionals would have vastly outnumbered final forms.’

    This holds true, however you look at fossils. It is agreed by most, if not nearly all the world’s leading Palaeontologists.

    Jerad, can you please explain what you mean here.

    ‘As Dr Dawkins has discussed, Dr Gould was still a gradualist and was trying to give a rational explanation for some gaps in the fossil record which all biologists and paleontologists agree are to be expected.’

    What do you mean by ‘some gaps’?

    Can you show me an example for instance of a line of transition where there are some gaps in it?

    Even that would suffice for the time being.

    Thanks

    P

    Ps. I would I be wrong in deducing that you are perhaps questioning your own beliefs on the business of fossils, even slightly?

  186. PeterJ,

    Secondly, yes any lineage would do me just fine, however incomplete it may seem to you

    Well, I guess you could just pick one! Have you looked at the info at talkorigins.org?

    And thirdly, the reason that I began investigating evolution in the first place was so that I could make my mind up on the subject once and for all, sadly I haven’t been able to do that.

    Ah, I thought you had already done that.

    Well, I’d recommend several books: Only a Theory by Miller is quite good. I like The Greatest Show on Earth by Dawkins but he does rub some people the wrong way. Why Evolution is True by Coyne is a very good summary as well and he spends time talking about the geographic distribution of species which I hadn’t really considered before.

    KF has not explained what he means by “final forms’ so I’ll reserve judgement on that. Evolutionary theory says species are not immutable and therefore there are no goals or targets or final forms. This means that all life forms are transitional.

    What do you think KF meant by ‘final forms’? Do you think the notion is viable?

    Can you show me an example for instance of a line of transition where there are some gaps in it?

    Even that would suffice for the time being.

    All fossil lines have gaps!! We don’t have any complete line of descent, i.e. one where almost every single morphological change potentially visible in the fossil record is extent.

    Dr Gould’s theory of punctuated equilibrium was proposing that sometimes evolution may be ‘quicker’ than at other places and times. Perhaps owing to changes in climate or other local conditions. If species were changing ‘more quickly’ then some large morphological gaps in the fossil record could be due to there being less time and fewer individuals to fossilise. Dr Dawkins has a pretty good discussion of the differences between him and Dr Gould in The Blind Watchmaker . . . I think.

    When I think of the incredibly unlikely prospect of most land dwelling animals becoming fossils I’m not bothered by gaps. And when I look at all the lines of evidence for evolution . . .

    Ps. I would I be wrong in deducing that you are perhaps questioning your own beliefs on the business of fossils, even slightly?

    Nope. I agree with Dr Dawkins. If you took all the fossils away I think the remaining evidence is strong enough to ‘prove’ universal common descent via the undirected processes of variation, selection and drift (and some other minor effects).

  187. Claudius:

    Remember, we are looking at body plans here. Half a wing, half a lung, a sequence of fossils that shows the origin of the bat’s echolocation system step by step, etc. In short, the missing sequences of links that after 150 years are notoriously just that: MISSING.

    Recall, again from above — 3rd time in just this thread IIRC, to go from cow-like to whale-like, maybe 50,000 steps.

    With a reproductive cycle time of some years, and relatively small populations.

    50,000:2, is well past 99% transitional, and the same would obtain in case after case. If the incremental transitionals were out there, they should have dominated the world of life, and that should by every reasonable view of sampling theory, be significantly reflected in the fossil record of billions of field samples, millions on museum shelves and over 1/4 million species. So, where are the overwhelming numbers of missing [found] links?

    Gould tells us, they are not there, period.

    Indeed, he spent decades advancing an alternative theory to provide an explanation after the fact that would make it seem plausible that his would be the case.

    It is your side that set it self the task of finding these, and now that the task has plainly spectacularly failed, we have a perfect right to draw out the implications per what investigations and observations of FSCO/I tells us about the nature of specifically functional complex organisation. It will come in deeply isolated islands in a config space, however hard objectors try to pretend otherwise. For the good reason that if things have to be specifically arranged and matched to work, there are going to be a lot more ways to get what does not work, than what will work.

    Of course, if you know of the hundreds or thousands of cases of observed step by step emerging body plans out there, why not enlighten us benighted types who were so dumb as to take Gould at his word?

    KF

  188. Jerad:

    I of course point you tot he just above on the subject of fully formed body plans, as though that is really a mystery in context. When pine trees appear they are pine trees. Ants are ants. When bats appear, they are bats. Lobsters are lobsters, shrimp are shrimp. The missing links are missing, and Gould et al tell us not to expect them to be found. Appearance, stasis, disappearance or continutity into the modern era.

    I guess that should make me less than surprised to see how you try to deflect the force of the implications of the requisites of a von Neumann replicator joined to a constructor and controlled by digital code by making a sloppy half-quote. For, von Neumann — as you cited and as I pointed out when you wanted to skip over this key point — believed that such a replicator could get more complex ONCE ABOVE A CERTAIN THRESHOLD of complexity. The problem of course is to get to that threshold, which is well past the FSCO/I limit.

    That is why it is a safe conclusion that he origin of a metabolising, self-replicating entity is not a credible product of spontaneous processes in some warm little pond or the like.

    Kindly explain to us on empirical evidence, the origin of digital symbolic codes, algorithms, control tapes storing the object codes, properly arranged execution machines and associated component and energy source machines, etc, by spontaneous, chance and necessity processes in that warm little pond or equivalent, again.

    this has been repeatedly put t6o you, but has just as repeatedly been ducked.

    And yet, it is the issue at the root of the whole tree of life proposed by Darwin.

    Without a sound, empirically based answer here, the whole scheme is literally rootless.

    And, the only empirically warranted source for such FSCO/I is design. Which, puts design as a credible causal candidate at the root of the whole world of life.

    Which also shifts the reasonable estimate for the source of the even more complex main body plans sharply in favour of design as well. All the way up to our own body plan.

    Save, of course, to those who have long since made up their minds before the evidence is allowed to speak, that design is strictly verbotten, tut tut!

    Which, in plain words, is what seems to be consistently at work in this thread. As in, please think about whether we have here a case of the fallacy of the closed, question-begging mind exemplified by Lewontin here:

    . . . 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 . . . [["Billions and billions of demons," NYRB, Jan 1997. if you have swallowed the attempted turnabout that this is quote-mining, cf. here.]

    Philip Johnson’s retort to Lewontin’s a priori evolutionary materialism is apt:

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

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

    Please, think again.

    KF

  189. F/N: In fact, too, the first basic problem with the evidence often brought forth along various lines and claimed to prove universal evolutionary common descent is that it is being evaluated in the same question-begging circle just highlighted. Then, in too many cases, what we are being shown is outright misleading — and in certain cases outright fraudulent — icons. In other cases, small-scale variations well within the body plan limit — e.g. moth colouration, or insecticide or antibiotic resistance — are being grossly extrapolated into a grand, metaphysically driven narrative sold to us under the label, “science,” presented as practically certain knowledge. But, all of this is tangential as the evidence of design does not depend on rejection or acceptance of common descent by whatever means. The real issue at stake is that a modest set of mechanisms that covers minor population adaptation has been grossly extrapolated into an account of body plan diversity, and presented to us under the false colours of being as well supported as the view that the planets orbit the Sun.

  190. kairosfocus @ 187

    KAIROSFOCUS @ 182: The absolutely overwhelming pattern is appearance without incremental transitional ancestors, stasis and disappearance or continuity to the modern world. There is every reason to believe that transitionals would have vastly outnumbered final forms.

    CLAVDIVS: How do you know that final forms outnumber transitionals unless you can tell transitional forms apart from final forms? Pray, what is the difference you are basing this statement on?

    KAIROSFOCUS @ 187: It is your side that set it self the task of finding these …

    No. The scientific theory of evolution proposes that, if there are any final forms in the fossil record, there is currently no empirical way to tell them apart from transitional forms.

    You made the claim that the final forms outnumber the transitionals. What I want to know is: How are you distringuishing between final forms and transitional forms? If we do not know this then we cannot assess the soundness of your argument.

    KAIROSFOCUS: So, where are the overwhelming numbers of missing [found] links?

    Gould tells us, they are not there, period … why not enlighten us benighted types who were so dumb as to take Gould at his word?

    I don’t think you should be treating Gould as an authority because his overall view appears to be the opposite of what you’re saying:

    … humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered. [Gould, S.J., Evolution as Fact and Theory, Discover, May 1981]

    Punctuated equilibrium, catastrophic theories of mass extinction, hopeful monsters, and a variety of hypotheses about rapid rates of change in continuous sequences, not about unintelligible abrupt appearances, are part of scientific debate and bear no relationship to the nonscientific notion of abrupt appearance … [Gould, S.J., "Creationism: Out of the Mainstream," The Scientist, 1986, 1 (Nov. 17): 10]

    [T]ransitions are often found in the fossil record. Preserved transitions are not common — and should not be, according to our understanding of evolution (see next section) but they are not entirely wanting … [Gould, S.J., "Evolution as Fact and Theory," Hens Teeth and Horse's Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History, New York: W. W. Norton & Co, 1983, pp. 258-260]

    Cheers

  191. Claudius:

    Pardon me but 150 years worth of looking for “missing links” and of headlining and highlighting links and icons in museums that then had to be taken back and similar, says very different to your talking points.

    In short, the after the fact revisionism simply underscores the force of the point that forms appear suddenly, show stasis and disappear or continue to the current world. As Gould summed up.

    and as for attempted burden of proof shifting, that falls of its own weight. Plainly, the CD model starts with a LCA, unicellular organism. Then it gets to multicellulars and body plans across a branching tree of life.

    First problem, we see major top level body plans suddenly appearing in Cambrian strata (as was known to and a challenge for, Darwin). Then, subsequently, the different body plans follow the same pattern, at lower levels. That is what Gould spoke to. Where gradualistic transitional forms would vastly outnumber the forms we do see if the NDT account were so. So, the fossil record should brim over with major transitional forms and sequences — much as the horse sequence used to be a major museum and textbook exhibit never mind how minor the actual changes were. (And yes, they have almost dog sized mini horses today and horses are apparently still occasionally born with three toes.)I am sure you have seen some of the ape to man alleged sequences, never mind the more sober conclusion that they are quite distinct.

    The problem is that the record as a whole does not show gradualistic transitions as a common much less dominant feature, and the world of life around us, even less so.

    finally, I have cited Gould as exactly a case of an expert giving a key admission against known interest. You know what that is, or you SHOULD know what that is, and its evidentiary value. Gould went out and tried to develop a theory of evo, to account for the missing transitionals.

    That too is telling, so your attempted turnabout is itself revealing.

    KF

  192. KF,

    I of course point you tot he just above on the subject of fully formed body plans, as though that is really a mystery in context. When pine trees appear they are pine trees. Ants are ants. When bats appear, they are bats. Lobsters are lobsters, shrimp are shrimp. The missing links are missing, and Gould et al tell us not to expect them to be found. Appearance, stasis, disappearance or continutity into the modern era.

    I’m still not quite sure what you’re saying . . . are penguins incomplete forms? (Not having ‘functional’ wings) Or flying squirrels? (Being somewhere between regular squirrels and bats) Or the proposed precursors to whales? Since dogs descended from wolves are wolves incomplete forms? And, in 500 years, if dogs and wolves are no longer able to interbreed would that change your mind? What about the plant brussels sprouts came from? What about Neanderthals? Homo Erectus?

    I guess that should make me less than surprised to see how you try to deflect the force of the implications of the requisites of a von Neumann replicator joined to a constructor and controlled by digital code by making a sloppy half-quote. For, von Neumann — as you cited and as I pointed out when you wanted to skip over this key point — believed that such a replicator could get more complex ONCE ABOVE A CERTAIN THRESHOLD of complexity. The problem of course is to get to that threshold, which is well past the FSCO/I limit.

    No, I noticed the reference to a threshold. What did von Neumann say the threshold was? Did he agree with your threshold?

    That is why it is a safe conclusion that he origin of a metabolising, self-replicating entity is not a credible product of spontaneous processes in some warm little pond or the like.

    Well, lots of people disagree with you. And, no matter how improbable, it only had to happen once on at least one of the billions and billions of planets in the Goldilock’s Zone where billions and billions of molecules were colliding and combining. Life MAY be exceedingly rare. Maybe it has only happened once. But without evidence of a suitable agent what other inference can we make? We can’t just magic an agent out of nothing.

    Kindly explain to us on empirical evidence, the origin of digital symbolic codes, algorithms, control tapes storing the object codes, properly arranged execution machines and associated component and energy source machines, etc, by spontaneous, chance and necessity processes in that warm little pond or equivalent, again.

    this has been repeatedly put t6o you, but has just as repeatedly been ducked.

    I assume it came about by non-directed processes. You infer a designer agent which, in my mind, there is no evidence for. I find my assumption more parsimonious.

    And yet, it is the issue at the root of the whole tree of life proposed by Darwin.

    Without a sound, empirically based answer here, the whole scheme is literally rootless.

    And, the only empirically warranted source for such FSCO/I is design. Which, puts design as a credible causal candidate at the root of the whole world of life.

    I’m still not willing to infer an agent for which there is no evidence aside from the phenomena in question.

    Save, of course, to those who have long since made up their minds before the evidence is allowed to speak, that design is strictly verbotten, tut tut!

    I never, ever claimed I was agnostic about evolutionary theory. I am here to find out what ID proponents think. I’m not trying to convert or convince anyone. Just to make sure I understand the arguments being wielded.

    In other cases, small-scale variations well within the body plan limit — e.g. moth colouration, or insecticide or antibiotic resistance — are being grossly extrapolated into a grand, metaphysically driven narrative sold to us under the label, “science,” presented as practically certain knowledge.

    Extrapolating from breeding information might be less warranted without all the other lines of evidence. It’s the convergence of all the data that makes the case.

    The real issue at stake is that a modest set of mechanisms that covers minor population adaptation has been grossly extrapolated into an account of body plan diversity, and presented to us under the false colours of being as well supported as the view that the planets orbit the Sun.

    You are free to disagree of course.

    I’ve read a lot of Dr Gould’s writings and I agree with CLAVDIVS: I don’t think he’s saying what you think he’s saying. Here’s a quote from one of his last books, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory

    “In this crucial sense, the theory of punctuated equilibrium adopts a very conservative position. The theory asserts no novel claim about modes or mechanisms of speciation; punctuated equilibrium merely takes a standard microevolutionary model and elucidates its expected expression when properly scaled into geological time.”

  193. Jerad, who or what is this designer which you repeatedly claim there is no evidence for?

  194. kuartus,

    erad, who or what is this designer which you repeatedly claim there is no evidence for?

    The one KF keeps inferring when he asserts some biological features could only come about via intelligent design. No evidence except the ‘designed’ object in question that is. And if you use the object you’re trying to establish is designed in your argument then it begins to sound like a circular argument. To me anyway.

  195. Jerad:

    Do me the favour of identifying an observed case where blind chance and mechanical necessity sufficed to produce digital symbolic codes and algorithms [both of which reflect purpose, intentionality and logical-linguistic ability], storage media loaded with same, organised executing machines and associated, co-ordinated material flows. Then work your way through the presentation here on what a “simplest” self replicator requires.

    Failing that, do us all the basic respect of acknowledging why we think inference from sign to signified is warranted.

    Failing both, sad to say, it is clear that no mere evidence that is reasonably accessible will move you.

    G’day

    KF

  196. F/N: I have addressed the requisites of a self-replicating constructor automaton here, building on Mignea’s presentation.

  197. PS: Jerad, the 1,000 bit FSCI threshold is based on all the 10^80 or so atoms of the observed cosmos, and changing state every 10^-45s, for the thermodynamic lifespan of the cosmos. All of those resources could not search 1 in 10^150 of the possible states for just 1,000 bits. That is why, per sampling theory, a blind, chance plus necessity walk in the config space is maximally unlikely to hit on ANY FSCI zone in such a space. And the minimally complex range for living systems, is 100,000 bits. That is 9.99 *10^30,102 possibilities. Your hoped for billions and billions of double goldilocks zone (water-zone orbit, terrestrial planet in the habitable zone of a well behaved spiral galaxy), terrestrial planets are just a drop in that bucket. Nope, that is nowhere near enough space to seriously sample something like that with any hope of hitting on FSCI zones.

  198. PPS: See what the relevant threshold looks like per requisites of a self-replicating automaton?

  199. KF,

    Do me the favour of identifying an observed case where blind chance and mechanical necessity sufficed to produce digital symbolic codes and algorithms [both of which reflect purpose, intentionality and logical-linguistic ability], storage media loaded with same, organised executing machines and associated, co-ordinated material flows. Then work your way through the presentation here on what a “simplest” self replicator requires.

    I cant do an observed case but I think the evidence points to DNA being created via non-directed processes.

    Failing that, do us all the basic respect of acknowledging why we think inference from sign to signified is warranted.

    I certainly acknowledge why you think inference to design is warranted. I just disagree with you.

    Failing both, sad to say, it is clear that no mere evidence that is reasonably accessible will move you.

    I didn’t ask to be moved. I only wanted to make sure I didn’t misrepresent the arguments for ID. I understand them much better now, thanks!!

    I have addressed the requisites of a self-replicating constructor automaton here, building on Mignea’s presentation.

    Interesting. Of course DNA doesn’t have a blueprint (a one-to-one mapping) of the structure it creates but interesting. How would it look in a biological situation? If all the machine did was self-replication and if it had no other function except that I would think it could be pretty small.

    the 1,000 bit FSCI threshold is based on all the 10^80 or so atoms of the observed cosmos, and changing state every 10^-45s, for the thermodynamic lifespan of the cosmos. All of those resources could not search 1 in 10^150 of the possible states for just 1,000 bits. That is why, per sampling theory, a blind, chance plus necessity walk in the config space is maximally unlikely to hit on ANY FSCI zone in such a space. And the minimally complex range for living systems, is 100,000 bits. That is 9.99 *10^30,102 possibilities. Your hoped for billions and billions of double goldilocks zone (water-zone orbit, terrestrial planet in the habitable zone of a well behaved spiral galaxy), terrestrial planets are just a drop in that bucket. Nope, that is nowhere near enough space to seriously sample something like that with any hope of hitting on FSCI zones.

    How do you know the minimally complex range for living systems is 100,000 bits? And if the first self replicator was only a self replicator, nothing else, then surely it would be smaller than that?

    Let’s see . . . 4 bases: A, C, T, G . . . that’s 2 bits per base. 100,000 bits means possibly 50,000 bases. That’s more than lots of viruses. I’m thinking that 100,000 may be too high. The smallest non-viral genome is a bacterium with about 160,000 base pairs so that clearly is over the 100,000 bit threshold.

    I’d like to see more work done on a minimal biological self replicator before I make a call on this. I see what you’re getting at and I’d be very, very interested to see it all translated into a biological context given that some viruses are well under the 100,000 bit limit.

  200. KF,

    Does that mean you’re not going to answer my questions about fully and not fully formed body types?

  201. Kairosfocus @ 191

    KAIROSFOCUS: There is every reason to believe that transitionals would have vastly outnumbered final forms.

    CLAVDIVS: You made the claim that the final forms outnumber the transitionals. What I want to know is: How are you distringuishing between final forms and transitional forms? If we do not know this then we cannot assess the soundness of your argument.

    KAIROSFOCUS: Pardon me but 150 years worth of looking for “missing links” and of headlining and highlighting links and icons in museums that then had to be taken back and similar, says very different to your talking points.

    No talking points, Kairosfocus, just assessing the soundness of your argument that final forms outnumber transitional forms in the fossil record. You have not backed it up by explaining your definition of final forms vs transitional forms, despite being asked to do so a number of times. Until you do so, your argument about the relative paucity of transitional forms is irrelevant, because nobody knows exactly what it is.

    This is a purely logical point that has nothing to do with burden shifting. You have argued there are more Xs than Ys. It behooves you to define what you mean by X and Y.

    KAIROSFOCUS: finally, I have cited Gould as exactly a case of an expert giving a key admission against known interest. You know what that is, or you SHOULD know what that is, and its evidentiary value. Gould went out and tried to develop a theory of evo, to account for the missing transitionals.

    That too is telling, so your attempted turnabout is itself revealing.

    Actually, the turnabout comes straight from your own cited authority, Gould, so don’t blame me for the own goal. Here is what you said @ 187 about Gould:

    KAIROSFOCUS: So, where are the overwhelming numbers of missing [found] links?

    Gould tells us, they are not there, period.

    Indeed, he spent decades advancing an alternative theory to provide an explanation after the fact that would make it seem plausible that his would be the case.

    Did Gould say anything like “there are no transitional forms, period”? No he did not, and I quoted him for you on that very question. Are you suggesting Gould did not know what Gould himself meant?

    Not only that, Gould went on to complain, on a number of occasions, that his words were being taken out of context, and he pointed out specifically and in detail how his views on transitional fossil sequences were being misrepresented:

    Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again … as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. The punctuations occur at the level of species; directional trends (on the staircase model) are rife at the higher level of transitions within major groups. [Gould S.J., "Evolution as Fact and Theory," Hens Teeth and Horse's Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1983, pp. 258-260]

    Creationists, with their usual skill in the art of phony rhetoric, cynically distorted punctuated equilibrium for their own ends, claiming that we had virtually thrown in the towel and admitted that the fossil record contains no intermediate forms. (Punctuated equilibrium, on the other hand, is a different theory of intermediacy for evolutionary trends-pushing a ball up an inclined plane for gradualism, climbing a staircase for punctuated euilibrium.) [Gould S.J., "Opus 200," Natural History, Aug. 1991]

    Punctuated equilibrium is neither a creationist idea nor even a non-Darwinian evolutionary theory about sudden change that produces a new species all at once in a single generation. Punctuated equilibrium accepts the conventional idea that new species form over hundreds or thousands of generations and through an extensive series of intermediate stages. But geological time is so long that even a few thousand years may appear as a mere “moment” relative to the several million years of existence for most species. Thus, rates of evolution vary enormously and new species may appear to arise “suddenly” in geological time, even though the time involved would seem long, and the change very slow, when compared to a human lifetime. [Gould S.J., quoted in Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science (1998), National Academy of Sciences]

    Gould could not have been more clear that transitional forms are “rife” in the fossil record.

    Cheers

  202. Jerad

    “Well, I’d recommend several books: Only a Theory by Miller is quite good. I like The Greatest Show on Earth by Dawkins but he does rub some people the wrong way. Why Evolution is True by Coyne is a very good summary as well and he spends time talking about the geographic distribution of species which I hadn’t really considered before.”
    It is books such as you have sited that actually turned my attention to this site. Dawkins, Miller, Coyne, they are all very clever people, but they are strict with their agenda. Which I shouldn’t need to describe, as it is plainly obvious to anyone who has read their material.

    I have enjoyed discussing this with you, and appreciate the time you have taken. Although I can’t help but feel we have very sadly reached an end. Like Dawkins and Coyne et al, you see evolution and can’t see past it.

    A few posts back you almost accused me, it seemed, of ‘having made my mind up’, but do you not think this is the case with you?

    There is an in article on this very point

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

    “All scientists agree that evolution has occurred,” the University of Massachusetts professor goes on to explain that natural selection “eliminates and maybe maintains, but it doesn’t create,” that she believed the textbook orthodoxy that random mutations lead to evolutionary change and new species “until I looked for evidence,” and that “There is no gradualism in the fossil record.”

    Regardless of this womans ideas in the past she makes a very good point, and it’s one that I have been pursuing for some time now: what does the evidence actually say?

    Why don’t you try doing the same. Look at the evidence for yourself instead of relying on sources such as Dawkins and Coyne. Perhaps then you will learn something. Ah, but there lies the problem: you don’t want to ;)

    Thanks again. And all the best

    P

  203. PeterJ,

    I have enjoyed discussing this with you, and appreciate the time you have taken. Although I can’t help but feel we have very sadly reached an end. Like Dawkins and Coyne et al, you see evolution and can’t see past it.

    A few posts back you almost accused me, it seemed, of ‘having made my mind up’, but do you not think this is the case with you?

    Well, I don’t think so. Firstly, while I haven’t changed my mind participating in this forum, listening to the podcast ID: the Future and various other ID friendly activities has made me look at the evidence again several times and think more deeply about it. Secondly all the new evidence that comes out practically everyday continues to uphold the modern evolutionary synthesis. Unlike some of the moderators and commentators on this site I do not think evolution is on it’s last legs. I think it’s getting stronger all the time as the gaps in our knowledge get smaller and smaller.

    I’ll skip Dr Cornelius’ post. I do read them on a regular basis and I find him mostly bluster with little real understanding of science.

    “All scientists agree that evolution has occurred,” the University of Massachusetts professor goes on to explain that natural selection “eliminates and maybe maintains, but it doesn’t create,” that she believed the textbook orthodoxy that random mutations lead to evolutionary change and new species “until I looked for evidence,” and that “There is no gradualism in the fossil record.”

    Thank goodness there’s a lot more evidence than the fossil record. Peter, you haven’t discussed the other lines of data but I hoped you’ve considered them, on their own and in conjunction with the fossil record. It’s the combination of all the evidence that really makes the case for evolution.

    Why don’t you try doing the same. Look at the evidence for yourself instead of relying on sources such as Dawkins and Coyne. Perhaps then you will learn something. Ah, but there lies the problem: you don’t want to

    Well, as I’ve just indicated, I have looked at the evidence from both sides. And I continue to do so on a daily basis.

    Thanks again. And all the best

    Thanks! Best to you as well!!

  204. Jerad:

    Please, don’t pretend that you have not seen the issue I have presented, starting with Gould, that there is a significant challenge to move by increments from an initial unicellular form to main body plans, a la Cambrian revo, and onward to various specialist types.

    Further, please don’t pretend that there is a good excuse on sparseness of the fossil record, to infer that we should not expect to be overwhelmed with examples of incremental transitions, if that were the actual history of life. Not after 150 years, an exploration of the world’s fossil beds, billions of fossils in situ, millions in museum back rooms, and 250,000 fossil species.

    In short, please, don’t pretend that you can turn about the issue and pretend that I am ducking a question. Not, after the thread above.

    The strong evidence is that he world of life and functional body plans are found in islands of function, with adaptation within the function, but Darwinist gradualism has no cogent answer — one that is empirically warranted — to get to the range of body plans. And, that is after it already has no answer on the root of the tree of life.

    KF

  205. Claudius:

    Pardon directness, but I tire of turnabout rhetoric, real fast.

    It is the evo mat side that has to get to a first metabolising, self-replicating unicellular body plan through thermodynamic processes and chemistry in a warm little pond or otherwise. (Cf the new post on this here, particularly noting the diagrams and discussion of requisites.)

    Complete with digitally coded algorithms and credibly involving 100 k – 1 m bits of coded info. Where also, until the vNSR is in place complete with code and controls for creating the metabolic automaton that is attached to the self-replicator, evolution by the proposed mechanism of chance variation and differential reproductive success cannot start. Since the 1920′s, unsolved, and in effect lopped off and isolated under a separate label.

    Net effect, the incrementalist, chance + necessity tree of life proposed is rootless. More importantly, the functional specificity, complexity, code, algorithms and system integration all point strongly to design, which transforms the whole view of the process beyond that line.

    Next, it is the darwinist school of thought that has been searching for and headlining claimed “missing links” since 1861. The whole tree of life scheme requires incremental transitional forms, from unicellular common ancestral forms, to the dozens of main body plans, and myriads of specific forms with complex features, including of course our own linguistic ability.

    That means, as I pointed out, that if the scheme is to be scientific not ideologically imposed metaphysical speculation, there has to be observed evidence of transitional sequences, in sufficient numbers to make a difference. Where, using the cow-whale thought exercise as a pivot, I pointed out WHY there would be an overwhelmingly larger number of transitional forms than final ones. As the IOSE course body plan unit discussion excerpts and gives vid clips on from Sternberg [knowledgeable on evolution and pop genetics] and Berlinsky [a mathematician], this transition will require a great number of forms, estimated by the latter at 50,000+. Even if it were 50 or 100, the point would be plain: transitionals should have dominated the history of life. So, we should expect to find 0.1, 0.2. 0.3 . . . bats, birds, whales, flowering plants, insects, lobsters and shrimp or comparable forms, etc etc etc. And, these should be absolutely dominant in the fossil record, as per sampling theory the uncorrelated sampling through fossilisation events should provide a cross section of the bulk of the record. Where also, there are linked issues on reproduction rates and population sizes to get the transformations in the windows of time available on the conventional timeline, if the claimed mechanisms are the ones at work. As I pointed out above, but which has been clearly lost in the swarm of talking points since.

    That is exactly what we do not find.

    And, that is exactly why Gould, et al went out and worked to found a new theory that pivoted in part on providing a rationale for why the fossil record was characterised by sudden appearances, stasis and disappearance. So, we should revert tot he principle that actions speak louder and far less ambiguously on words in a controversial context. If such people set out to find an alternative theory, there was and is a real problem.

    Worse, as I pointed out already, there is a lot of history on headlined missing links allegedly found, and the later backtracking of the headlines and museum and textbook displays and illustrations.

    Where also, oddly enough we DO have clear transitional sequences, of say the circumpolar gulls. This now admitted to not be a neat linear trend as even Denton presented in the mid 80′s, but it does show diversification of populations radiating and branching out from a plausible core. (For that matter, the ground doves I am familiar with across the Caribbean have distinctive variations from island to island, and someone familiar with the populations of people in the islands can often make a successful guess as to island of origin from physical appearance.)

    Is that a proof of body plan origin by incrementalism?

    No.

    Why?

    Because of the obvious problem: these are all gulls or ground doves or people. There is adaptation and variation, but not the innovation of the leap in complexity to go to a major body plan or a major mod to a basic plan such as wings or echolocation etc. Blind cave fish are similar, as are wingless insects on islands or the like, or of course white/black moths — insofar as the investigations and presentations can be justified against the challenges on methods.

    The macroevo, body plan origin challenge is to get to body plans, not to adapt existing ones.

    Which should be a no-brainer.

    And, Gould’s words in justification of being on the incrementalist side do not resolve the issue of observations of fact that he has made. Where is the credible information and algorithm source to move to novel body plans incrementally? Nowhere. The observed sequences of transitional forms that show emergence of the major body plans and key features of specialised forms? Again, nowhere.

    Where also, speculation uncontrolled by key empirical observed data and facts is ideology, not science.

    In short, it is entirely in order to cite Gould’s key remarks on the subject, to show that there is a major and unanswered problem. Let me remind:

    “The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.” [[Stephen Jay Gould (Professor of Geology and Paleontology, Harvard University), 'Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?' Paleobiology, vol.6(1), January 1980,p. 127.]

    “All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between the major groups are characteristically abrupt.” [[Stephen Jay Gould 'The return of hopeful monsters'. Natural History, vol. LXXXVI(6), June-July 1977, p. 24.]

    The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils. Yet Darwin was so wedded to gradualism that he wagered his entire theory on a denial of this literal record:

    The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find intermediate varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps [[ . . . . ] He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record will rightly reject my whole theory.[[Cf. Origin, Ch 10, "Summary of the preceding and present Chapters," also see similar remarks in Chs 6 and 9.]

    Darwin’s argument still persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution. In exposing its cultural and methodological roots, I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism (for all general views have similar roots). I wish only to point out that it was never “seen” in the rocks.

    Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.” [[Stephen Jay Gould 'Evolution's erratic pace'. Natural History, vol. LXXXVI95), May 1977, p.14.]

    Where also, as alate as in his last book, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, 2002, he stated:

    . . . long term stasis following geologically abrupt origin of most fossil morphospecies, has always been recognized by professional paleontologists. [[p. 752.]

    . . . . The great majority of species do not show any appreciable evolutionary change at all. These species appear in the section [[first occurrence] without obvious ancestors in the underlying beds, are stable once established and disappear higher up without leaving any descendants.” [[p. 753.]

    . . . . proclamations for the supposed ‘truth’ of gradualism – asserted against every working paleontologist’s knowledge of its rarity – emerged largely from such a restriction of attention to exceedingly rare cases under the false belief that they alone provided a record of evolution at all! The falsification of most ‘textbook classics’ upon restudy only accentuates the fallacy of the ‘case study’ method and its root in prior expectation rather than objective reading of the fossil record. [[p. 773.]

    Notice, here how Australian paleontologist Tim Flannery reviewed it in NYRB:

    Niles Eldredge and Gould first coined the term “punctuated equilibrium” in 1971 and published it the following year. The theory seeks to explain a persistent pattern in the fossil record whereby a species suddenly appears, then persists unchanged for a very long time before going extinct. This pattern is seen in a wide variety of contexts, from marine creatures such as shellfish and sea urchins to mammals and birds. Punctuated equilibrium posits that these species come into existence relatively rapidly (over tens of thousands of years), though just how (and indeed if) this happens is hotly debated. An opposing explanation is that these species have evolved much more slowly somewhere else, and their “sudden” appearance is the result of migration. While, as Galton’s polyhedron suggests, the concept of punctuated equilibrium was not entirely new to paleontology, Eldredge and Gould’s formulation of it was timely and coherent. Even among its supporters, however, argument has raged over its significance, with many questioning whether it really challenges Darwin’s concept of gradualism. (After all, tens of thousands of years is sufficient time for species to evolve “gradually.”) Most researchers, though, recognize that the concept has been invaluable in encouraging paleontologists to examine the fossil record with a rigor and attention to detail that previously was largely lacking.

    Punctuated equilibrium has forced paleontologists to focus not only on the origin of species, but also on their often long, unchanged persistence in the fossil record . . . [["A New Darwinism?," The New York Review of Books, 49 (May 23, 2002): pp. 52–54.]

    This is a real problem, not a pretend one made up on out of context citations, as is too often pretended.

    Deal with it fairly and squarely, kindly.

    KF

  206. KF,

    Please, don’t pretend that you have not seen the issue I have presented, starting with Gould, that there is a significant challenge to move by increments from an initial unicellular form to main body plans, a la Cambrian revo, and onward to various specialist types.

    I see your point but I don’t think it’s as big a stumbling block as you do considering all the evidence in favour of universal common descent.

    Further, please don’t pretend that there is a good excuse on sparseness of the fossil record, to infer that we should not expect to be overwhelmed with examples of incremental transitions, if that were the actual history of life. Not after 150 years, an exploration of the world’s fossil beds, billions of fossils in situ, millions in museum back rooms, and 250,000 fossil species.

    I don’t think fossilisation is a good random sample of life forms. Especially for land based critters and plants. I think very, very few lifeforms are preserved in the fossil record. And, like I’ve said, I think the evidence for evolution is great even if we had no fossils.

    In short, please, don’t pretend that you can turn about the issue and pretend that I am ducking a question. Not, after the thread above.

    I just wanted to understand and have some examples of what you considered transitional and final body plans. What’s wrong with that? You brought up the notion of final body plans, you should be able to define it.

    The strong evidence is that he world of life and functional body plans are found in islands of function, with adaptation within the function, but Darwinist gradualism has no cogent answer — one that is empirically warranted — to get to the range of body plans. And, that is after it already has no answer on the root of the tree of life.

    I know you think so, you don’t have to keep reminding me!! I just disagree with you.

    The macroevo, body plan origin challenge is to get to body plans, not to adapt existing ones.

    l

    I’d still like to know what you consider complete and incomplete body plans.

  207. Kairosfocus @ 205

    Pardon directness, but I tire of turnabout rhetoric, real fast.

    It is the evo mat side that has to get to a first metabolising, self-replicating unicellular body plan through thermodynamic processes and chemistry in a warm little pond or otherwise. (Cf the new post on this here, particularly noting the diagrams and discussion of requisites.)

    I am not a materialist.

    K @ 182: There is every reason to believe that transitionals would have vastly outnumbered final forms.

    K @ 205: That means, as I pointed out, that if the scheme is to be scientific not ideologically imposed metaphysical speculation, there has to be observed evidence of transitional sequences, in sufficient numbers to make a difference. Where, using the cow-whale thought exercise as a pivot, I pointed out WHY there would be an overwhelmingly larger number of transitional forms than final ones.

    You know, that might be a good argument, but I can’t say for sure because you still haven’t explained your terms.

    Here is the question again (@ 183): “How do you know that final forms outnumber transitionals unless you can tell transitional forms apart from final forms? Pray, what is the difference you are basing this statement on?”

    Jerad also wants to know the answer to this question (@ 184): “You have not spelled out what you mean by ‘fully formed body plans’ so I shall defer answering this until you have done so as I think it might influence my argument.”

    K @ 105: And, that is exactly why Gould, et al went out and worked to found a new theory that pivoted in part on providing a rationale for why the fossil record was characterised by sudden appearances, stasis and disappearance. So, we should revert tot he principle that actions speak louder and far less ambiguously on words in a controversial context. If such people set out to find an alternative theory, there was and is a real problem.

    This all sounds fine.

    However, the pattern of sudden appearance, stasis and disappearance does not entail the absence of transitional forms. According to Gould, the fossil record is “rife” with transitional forms and is also characterised by appearance, stasis and disappearance.

    Obviously, then, Gould is using a different definition of transitional forms than you are. That’s why we’ve been asking you to provide your definitions of transitional forms and final forms all along.

    Cheers

  208. KF,

    I’m sorry you have chosen not to answer CLAVDIVS and my question regarding your assertion that there are complete and non-complete body forms. As stated we think it is fair to ask you to address this issue since a) you brought it up and b) it would help us to evaluate some of your arguments.

  209. Jerad,

    Personally I think the fosil record is full of complete body forms. I think you only have to look around at the life forms we have on our planet today to see a vast array of complete body forms.

    What you don’t find ar any itermediate steps suggesting otherwise.

    Take for instance something like Triceratops, an extremly distinguishable life form. There are many fossils of Triceratops, but nothing at all of anything leading up to it. It thereforehas in my view what is, without any evidence to suggest otherwise, a complete complete body form.

    I could suggest many more if you like?

    P

  210. PeterJ @ 209

    Personally I think the fosil record is full of complete body forms.

    But we remain unable to assess the soundness of your thinking unless you define for us the difference between “complete body forms” and transitional forms. What’s the difference you are thinking of?

    Take for instance something like Triceratops, an extremly distinguishable life form. There are many fossils of Triceratops, but nothing at all of anything leading up to it.

    What about Psittacosaurus? Protoceratops? Chasmosaurus? Monoclonius? Styracosaurus? Pentaceratops? Torosaurus? These are all ceratopsian dinosaurs like Triceratops, one of the largest groups of dinosaurs from the Cretaceous, showing fairly finely graded variations in the rostrum bone, beak, frill and horns – e.g. see here.

    What definition of “complete body form” are you thinking of that makes all these variations “complete” and not “transitional”?

    Cheers

  211. Jerad:

    FIRST, A NECESSARY NOTE ON YOUR RHETORIC:

    I find it quite revealing and unfortunate that you have resorted to the tactics of the turnabout, shifting of burden of proof and implicitly assumed default; here compounded by unresponsiveness to cogent reply and drumbeat repetition of talking points. All of these tactics of distraction — whether knowingly and calculatedly resorted to or not [it is admittedly hard to stick to a main focus] — are just that, distractions from the pivotal issues on the merits.

    FYI, each proposed scientific explanation must meet the basic test of empirical, observational support. For itself.

    And where we deal with origins science and so the unobservable past, we need to examine its traces and signs that per confirmation by observation in the present, give credible indicia on causal processes and forces or factors involved.

    So where FSCO/I is concerned, it is highly relevant to note that the ONLY observed cause of such is design. And, the threshold of complexity used, 500 – 1,000 bits of explicit or implicit functionally specific information, is such as to preclude chance (the other observed source of high contingency) as a credible cause. In effect, clusters of functional configs are so isolated in the space of possibilities, that a blind walk is maximally unlikely to ever encounter such, on the gamut of atomic resources in the solar system or the observed cosmos.

    Formerly, you made much of the common resort that life forms reproduce, to dismiss the significance of this point. So, I took time to go to the case that does not allow such muddying the waters. OOL. There, we find that the very self-replication facility itself is a capital example of FSCO/I and that in a context where no appeal may be made to existing capacity to reproduce. Onlookers, cf. here for a post level summary.

    In short, from the root of the proposed tree, design is sitting at the table as most credible explanation.

    Thus, evaluation thereafter will need to be in this light.

    So now, I must again briefly point out, simply for record, as it has been stated several times already but evidently ignored, that it is the neo-darwinian synthesis that has advocated a gradualistic, incremental transitional forms in a tree of life account of the course of life.

    Thus, per the number of steps implied, there should be an overwhelming number of TRANSITIONAL life forms — notice your strawman tactic resort to “your assertion that there are complete and non-complete body forms” when more than adequate information was put to show that I am speaking of chains of what have been headlined for 150 years as missing links — which should therefore on reasonable inferences from sampling theory (notice, how you, by admission trained in statistics have not seriously disputed this as focal point . . . ) be strongly represented in the fossil record.

    Now, we are not playing high school debate games and clever distractive tricks here, we are about the very serious business of assessing for ourselves by the right to think for ourselves, the warrant for scientific claims that have become a dominant part of institutional science, sci edu and the wider culture. Indeed, of worldviews, especially through the rise of evolutionary materialism and accommodations thereto. With cultural consequences over the past nigh on 150 years as were warned against by Plato, 2350 years ago.

    But, the very turnabout and distractive rhetorical tactics you resort to are eloquent testimony of the absence in the fossil record of the relevant incremental forms from the record, at body-plan origins level. This, after 150 years of scouring fossil beds across the world from all main sections of the geological column, leading to billions of fossils seen in the field, millions in museums and 1/4 million plus fossil species. The “almost unmanageably rich” record is astonishingly empty of the body-plan level transitional forms that SHOULD be strongly evident or even dominant. We SHOULD be awash in examples of 0.1, 0.2, 0.3 . . . way from cow to whale, or reptile to bird or rat to bat or the like. But instead, these are consistently missing, and indeed the most common transitional sequence since was it 1879, the horses, is being retired from museums and textbooks. The claimed whale transition being substituted is not telling us about the blunder in projecting what turned out to be a quadruped as an early whale as recently as the 1990′s, and we simply do not see a discussion of just how many steps, with what degree of vital necessity for function, and how such could be successively fixed per population genetics, etc. (Onlookers, cf IOSE on body plan origins to see the real issue in outline at 101 level, not the rhetorical strawman being set up to be knocked over, mostly elsewhere in the usual hostile fora. Both of my interlocutors know or should know that I have that discussion as well as a similar one in my always linked briefing note. That is why I am concluding that I am here dealing with more of irresponsible rhetorical game-playing rather than serious discussion.)

    Such transitionals, BTW, do occur at minor adaptation level as may be observed in the current world, e.g. among types of birds (as I noted). We can argue that variations among men of different climes also in significant part show adaptive radiation at the small scale within common body plan level that is warranted.

    In short, Jerad (and Claudius), it seems you have not seriously read or engaged with what has already been put in this thread or elsewhere and linked just a click or two away.

    And, again, the issue is claimed incremental origin of body plans, bauplane. The linked question — which you must be familiar with (despite the rhetorical tactic of passing over in silence) — has been discussed for decades under terms like transitional forms, and in popular circles as missing links. Let me again cite Gould on the key matter on this side track, noting that in that context he and others set out to construct an entire alternative evolutionary theory to account for the missing incremental transitionals:

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms [--> notice the term!] in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. [--> a famous quote] The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, . . .

    [--> recall, Lewontin's cat out of the bag comment about how a priori evolutionary materialism controls that reasoning:

    >> . . . 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 . . . [["Billions and billions of demons," NYRB, Jan 1997.]>>

    NB: cf here on for response to the all too common “quote-mining” talking point]

    . . . not the evidence of fossils. Yet Darwin was so wedded to gradualism that he wagered his entire theory on a denial of this literal record:

    The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find intermediate varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps [[ . . . . ] He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record will rightly reject my whole theory.[[Cf. Origin, Ch 10, "Summary of the preceding and present Chapters," also see similar remarks in Chs 6 and 9.]

    Darwin’s argument still persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution. In exposing its cultural and methodological roots, I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism (for all general views have similar roots). I wish only to point out that it was never “seen” in the rocks.

    Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study. [[Stephen Jay Gould 'Evolution's erratic pace'. Natural History, vol. LXXXVI95), May 1977, p.14.]

    Notice the highlighted. Starting with the term: TRANSITIONAL FORMS.

    And, onlookers, notice, this is all a rhetorically convenient side track.

    The central question is whether it is reasonable to infer cause on characteristic observed signs. The answer from logic and common sense alike, is that it is, indeed in dealing with what we cannot directly inspect and observe, it is the only empirically grounded analytical tool we have. We therefore routinely reconstruct the inferred causal process from signs left behind per abductive inference to best explanation.

    Now, design theory is an application of such reasoning regarding the unobservable actual past of origins of life (and the cosmos). As the NWE introductory article — as opposed to the Wikipedia ideological hatchet job — notes:

    In particular, functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information are put forth as a case in point. The only observed cause for FSCO/I is design. Per million monkeys at keyboards failing to type coherent text at random at sufficient length and hard to find needle in haystack analyses, we see why that is analytically plausible. We see that 500 – 1,000 bits is adequate complexity for these issues to kick in. We compare that first cell based, metabolising and self replicating life will have credibly been 100,000 – 1 mn bits of digital info. And without both capabilities, reproducing life is not extant, so there is no reasonable resort to claiming incremental origin. Notice, the vNSR has to code for the metabolic automaton to replicate it, as well as for itself.

    This case puts design firmly at the table of alternatives, and there simply is no sufficiently solid alternative to compete. The very fact that in exchanges supporters of the dominant evolutionary school of thought routinely insist that OOL is separate from evolution of extant life is eloquent on this. But, without a viable, empirically well grounded account here, the tree of life has no root on evo mat accounts. Where also, once design is at the table here, it is at the table as a serious alternative across the whole world of life.

    Going on, we now observe that, contrary to the imagined, hoped for incremental branching and diversification through myriads of transitional forms, we see instead clear and consistent evidence of discrete islands of functional forms. This, right back to the Cambrian fossil layers, where the top level taxonomic domains by the dozens appear at the point where diversification of multicellular forms that continue to today, comes in. This is consistent with the observation that we credibly require 10 – 100+ mn bits of bio info to create such forms, well beyond the needle in the haystack threshold.

    So, we see a good part of why Gould spoke and acted as he did. He was facing the evidence of isolated islands as opposed to the hoped for raftloads of cases of incremental transitional forms.

    And so, we see that a major problem is that evidence that is highly relevant to why design is a good explanation is being force-fitted into a gradualistic model. Because of a dominant school of thought that a priori locks out alternatives.

    That is why, Jerad, I mark up your just above comment as follows:

    I’m sorry you have chosen not to answer CLAVDIVS and my question regarding your assertion that there are complete and non-complete body forms.

    a –> Gross, strawman tactic misrepresentation

    As stated we think it is fair to ask you to address this issue

    b –> You ignore how it has been repeatedly addressed in this thread, and at length in linked materials

    since a) you brought it up and b) it would help us to evaluate some of your arguments.

    c –> In fact, the matter of incrementally modified body forms as part of the gradualistic evolution of life forms was put on the table by the founders of evolutionary theory

    d –> The tactic of suggesting that I have just now raised it is intended to shift burden of proof improperly, and to insinuate that I have suggested dubious claims

    e –> Where you know, or full well should know that the topic comes from the leading proponents of evolutionary theory, and has done so for 150 years.

    f –> This is irresponsible on your part.

    g –> the proper matter, given the actual history of ideas on the matter, is not evaluating of implicitly dubious claims by a “nobody” but the assessment of evidence on the longstanding claim of gradualism.

    h –> So also, that places OOL front and centre, given the need to account for the origin of cellularly encapsulated metabolism and integrated vNSR.

    i –> The best explanation in light of the origin of FSCO/I challenge, is design.

    j –> That then utterly transforms the view of the credibility of alternatives thereafter as we look at the elaboration of the forms of life.

    k –> In this context, pace force-fitting the OBSERVED systematic discontinuities in life forms into a gradualistic account, the evidence actually points to islands of functional forms, that are indeed adapted, but we do not see the sort of progressions that should be there in a fossil record of this magnitude, if the suggested incremental formation of diverse body plans happened.

    l –> so in fact, we are seeing turnabout burden of proof shifting, rather than actual evidence of the incremental transitions.

    m –> That is itself highly revealing on the balance on the merits. That is, the empirical evidence comports far better with design than with the chance and necessity gradualistic model.

    n –> even such adaptations within body plans as we see are consistent with adaptability as a built in capacity that makes for robustness. (One way to do this, as is discussed at popular level in the recent Nat Geog with a dog cover story, is through multiple genes involved in phenotype traits. That way, blends, filtered out extrema and mods are possible.)

    I hope that we can now return to a proportionate focus on the main issue.

    KF

  212. OOPS: Forgot to fill in a cite from NWE on ID:

    Intelligent design (ID) is the view that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection” [1] Intelligent design cannot be inferred from complexity alone, since complex patterns often happen by chance. ID focuses on just those sorts of complex patterns that in human experience are produced by a mind that conceives and executes a plan. According to adherents, intelligent design can be detected in the natural laws and structure of the cosmos; it also can be detected in at least some features of living things.

    Greater clarity on the topic may be gained from a discussion of what ID is not considered to be by its leading theorists. Intelligent design generally is not defined the same as creationism, with proponents maintaining that ID relies on scientific evidence rather than on Scripture or religious doctrines. ID makes no claims about biblical chronology, and technically a person does not have to believe in God to infer intelligent design in nature. As a theory, ID also does not specify the identity or nature of the designer, so it is not the same as natural theology, which reasons from nature to the existence and attributes of God. ID does not claim that all species of living things were created in their present forms, and it does not claim to provide a complete account of the history of the universe or of living things.

    ID also is not considered by its theorists to be an “argument from ignorance”; that is, intelligent design is not to be inferred simply on the basis that the cause of something is unknown (any more than a person accused of willful intent can be convicted without evidence). According to various adherents, ID does not claim that design must be optimal; something may be intelligently designed even if it is flawed (as are many objects made by humans).

    ID may be considered to consist only of the minimal assertion that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent agent. It conflicts with views claiming that there is no real design in the cosmos (e.g., materialistic philosophy) or in living things (e.g., Darwinian evolution) or that design, though real, is undetectable (e.g., some forms of theistic evolution). Because of such conflicts, ID has generated considerable controversy.

    That, from where I sit, is a reasonable summary of the claims of ID as a scientific enterprise.

    I — and many other design thinkers from web discussion level up to those at the coal-face pf active research — would appreciate it if the issues being discussed reflected this rather than strawman caricatures and distractions routinely put up by objectors.

    KF

  213. Onlookers, Jerad & Claudius:

    These days I rarely do a point by point excerpt and respond, but I think I need to do so for record now, in addition to the above broader response:

    1] Jerad, 206:I don’t think it’s [--> re Gould on the absence of the key transitionals in the fossil record] as big a stumbling block as you do considering all the evidence in favour of universal common descent

    The first problem here, is that there is one indisputable record of the forms of life in the past, the fossils. Whether or no we accept the conventional timeline (and it has material circularity problems mentioned and linked already), it is that record that has samples of what life was like in the actual past.

    So, given the now “almost unmanageably rich” record, we should expect to have in hand a reasonable cross section of the dynamics in action. 1/4 million species, millions of samples in museums taken form all relevant geological column levels all around the world, with billions more in situ in known locations.

    And Gould’s testimony as an expert, reviewing the record after it was well known, in the professional literature, is that it is NOT gradualistic. Where the dynamics that would have been involved would imply that transitionals should DOMINATE the record, or at the very least be strongly represented.

    In short the facts say: islands of function (with relatively minor adaptations within forms), the theory says gradualism. So much the worse for the facts.

    Which takes us right back to the problem of the Lewontinian a priori imposition of materialism. That is why Philip Johnson highlighted this as the pivotal problem, as already cited. Givent eh a priori, and given the exclusion of realistic alternatives, the evidence will necessarily be seen in a gradualistic frame, and explanations will be used to deflect the inconvenient fact of few or no transitions that show origin of body plans.

    But there is no good reason to evict serious alternative explanaitons rooted in empirical patterns and known adequate causes of FSCO/I.

    So, it is not so much that the evidence is in favour of UCD, it is that the imposed ideology that demands UCD and the evidence is viewed from that point of departure. (And that extends to other categories of claimed evidence and icons, across the board. Cf here on for a 101.)

    2] I don’t think fossilisation is a good random sample of life forms. Especially for land based critters and plants. I think very, very few lifeforms are preserved in the fossil record. And, like I’ve said, I think the evidence for evolution is great even if we had no fossils.

    Notice, you have not addressed the range of search, the size and scope of samples, the want of any credible reason to believe that there would be a biasing correlation between fossilisation events and the absence of transitionals to be fossilised, etc. All of which have been raised over and over but simply brushed aside in eagerness to use Darwin’s 150 year old claim. Kindly cf Gould on this as already cited.

    It is not that there is great evidence for — notice the specifying definition here (“evolution” is a notoriously slippery term with many meanings and a tendency to glide form one tot he other unannounced) — body plan level incremental blind chance and necessity macroevolution by chance variation and differential reproductive success leading to leading to universal common descent with unlimited modification, but instead that this has been imposed on the evidence by an a priori assumed materialism. Once that has dominated the relevant institutions, often by the back-door route of tendentiously redefining science in the teeth of the requisites of inductive logic and the actual history of science alike. E.g., cf this from the US NSTA as is taken here form the IOSE intro-Summ page:

    Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge. [[NSTA, Board of Directors, July 2000. Emphases added.]

    By tendentiously injecting the strawman conty5rast, natural vs supernatural, the NSTA, NAS etc avoid dealing wit the real alternative on the table since Plato in The Laws Bk X 2350 years ago: natural (= blind chance + necessity) vs ART-ificial.

    Where it is long since known that nature and art have characteristic signs that may be used to discern the credible best explanation where we did not directly observe the events in question.

    Notice, onlookers, Jerad has routinely demanded instead to find separate evidence of a designer, refusing the inference from signs. Which is inconsistent with what s/he would have to do for ever so many important cases of generally accepted knowledge, including history, law courts, many things in pure and applied science, and even statistical inference.

    This is selective hyperskepticism.

    We may only instead reasonably ask for adequate and realistic degrees of warrant suitable to the case in question. Where on the origins issues, the deep actual past is unobservable so we are always going to be inferring on best explanation in light of signs and adequate causes for same.

    To top it all off, ID (think, Behe) as such is not in opposition to evolution with some degree of common descent, all the way up to universal common descent. It objects to a very specific claim that has not been subjected to adequate critical examination: that blind chance and mechanical necessity can account for FSCO/I.

    The point is that the proposed darwinist mechanism — and wee may add the range of variant forms too — is failing the empirical adequacy test and this should be admitted. Then, it should be acknowledged that from OOL on, there is serious reason for informed scientific practitioners and educated people in general alike to hold that FSCO/I in living forms is strong evidence on signs pointing to design as causal process.

    3] I just wanted to understand and have some examples of what you considered transitional and final body plans.

    Examples were given, and the remarks of a major expert were put on the table, repeatedly. That should have been more than enough for a reasonable discussion. In addition, the issue of “missing links” has been a major subject on this matter for the past 150 years.

    The pretence that all of this is new, and that I need to provide further explanation of a suspect claim from a suspect source, is a patent strawman tactic.

    4] You brought up the notion of final body plans, you should be able to define it.

    Gross and irresponsible misrepresentation, given what has already been laid out.

    5] I know you think so [that: "The strong evidence is that [t]he world of life and functional body plans are found in islands of function, with adaptation within the function, but Darwinist gradualism has no cogent answer . . . “], you don’t have to keep reminding me!! I just disagree with you.

    Mere disagreement is not the issue, warrant is. As has been repeartedly ppinted out.

    In short, we see here the default assumption of evolutionism at work, with selectively hyperskeptical dismissal rather than grappling with the general evidence on the only observationally known adequate cause for FSCO/I and how from OOL on it applies to the world of life.

    6] I’d still like to know what you consider complete and incomplete body plans.

    Drumbeat repetition of a strawman caricature of the unanswered issue of the missing transitionals.

    7] Claudius, 207: I am not a materialist.

    Just, evidently unduly influenced by their thought on this topic.

    8] You know, that might be a good argument, but I can’t say for sure because you still haven’t explained your terms.

    That you think these are my terms is evidence of the undue influence. The issue is as stated and repeatedly excerpted from Gould. let the darwinist advocates argue with Gould and the fossils, not us.

    9] How do you know that final forms outnumber transitionals unless you can tell transitional forms apart from final forms?

    Wrong framing, and he who succssfully mis-frames can win a debate on persuasiveness in the teeth of the evidence.

    The issue is, that we have a claimed tree of life. Never mind for the moment how there is the embarrassment that the molecular trees diverge to the point that something is patently wrong with the whole picture.

    From the root, OOL, we see why — a current post — there is excellent reason to infer design as best explanation of the joining of encapsulated metabolism to self-replication with symbolic representation. That is, cell based life as we observe it and infer it from the fossil record of life in the past. So, as discussed already, design is best explanation from the outset. That shifts evaluation thereafter decisively.

    In particular, it does not allow us to brush aside the absence of the TRANSITIONAL SEQUENCES that should dominate the record were the CV + DRS –> DWM, i.e chance and necessity macro evo picture true. Have you seen the vids of Sternberg and Berlinsky in the IOSE body plan origins page? Do you see why a pattern where 50,000 or even 500 or 50 transitional forms consistently in the record, should leave behind samples that highlight that in “an almost unmanageably rich” fossil record?

    Transitional sequences should be all over the place, but we find few and far between, with the eye of darwinist faith called on to fill in transitions in place of the abundance of plain sequences. If we can see a sequence for circumpolar gulls, or for different racial characteristics of people, or for finches in the Galapagos [which turned out to be interfertile unexpectedly], why not for the much more important major body plan origins?

    10] the pattern of sudden appearance, stasis and disappearance does not entail the absence of transitional forms. According to Gould, the fossil record is “rife” with transitional forms and is also characterised by appearance, stasis and disappearance.

    Notice, first, the revealing absence of clear lists of examples showing the transitions from chemicals to first life forms, then from unicellular ancestors to major step by step sequences of FOSSILS showing how the main body plans originated, and onward to the myriads of particular forms. If these were there, we would see them proudly displayed in every museum, textbook and major darwinist web site, not clusters of misleading icons and tendentious explanations shaped by the eye of darwinist faith and question-begging historically inapt redefinitions of science.

    As to assertions of “rife,” let the decades long exercise of going out to found a theory of how we can get transitions without seeing them in the fossil record speak volumes. And, observe on this the remarks already cited this morning and previously, especially:

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms [--> notice the term!] in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. [--> a famous quote] The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference . . . [Stephen Jay Gould 'Evolution's erratic pace'. Natural History, vol. LXXXVI95), May 1977, p.14.]

    It should be clear that Gould is using the terms here, in the professional literature, in exactly the way I am doing so; wedded to the gross structure of the darwinist tree of life interpreted as a frame of macroevo on CV + DRS –> DWM. And, by 2002, 25 years later, in his last technical book (The structure of Evolutionary Theory), he is still saying:

    . . . long term stasis following geologically abrupt origin of most fossil morphospecies, has always been recognized by professional paleontologists. [[p. 752.]

    . . . . The great majority of species do not show any appreciable evolutionary change [--> gradualism in changing body plans is missing in action] at all. These species appear in the section [[first occurrence] without obvious ancestors in the underlying beds, are stable once established and disappear higher up without leaving any descendants.” [[p. 753.]

    . . . . proclamations for the supposed ‘truth’ of gradualism – asserted against every working paleontologist’s knowledge of its rarity – emerged largely from such a restriction of attention to exceedingly rare cases under the false belief that they alone provided a record of evolution at all! The falsification of most ‘textbook classics’ upon restudy only accentuates the fallacy of the ‘case study’ method and its root in prior expectation rather than objective reading of the fossil record. [[p. 773.]

    Pardon me, but I missed the dramatic headlines and Nobel prize awards over the past decade for indisputably filling in those gradualistic gaps, and showing that they were filled in on chance variation plus differential reproductive success without intelligent direction, selection or frontloading or guidance. I did see several replacement icons put forth with scare headlines over these years, only to be shot down or retracted or partly retracted on further investigation. Which is exactly the pattern Gould had highlighted long since.

    11] Gould is using a different definition of transitional forms than you are. That’s why we’ve been asking you to provide your definitions of transitional forms and final forms all along.

    Not so at all.

    Gould and I are discussing the darwinist tree of life and we are both speaking of isolated clusters rather than abundantly and unquestionably evident sequences of transitional forms heavily represented in the “almost unmanageably rich” fossil record.

    And, I add, all of this is tangential to the empirically credible source of FSCO/I, and to the challenge of the source of such FSCO/I in origin of cell based life, where there is no reasonable possibility of appeal to incremental chance variation of a reproducing population per vNSR to muddy the waters.

    Design, as of right, is t the table from the root of the tree of life. And that drastically shifts credibility on models of origin of body plan level diversity.

    PJ, 209: the fossil record is full of complete body forms. I think you only have to look around at the life forms we have on our planet today to see a vast array of complete body forms. What you don’t find are any intermediate steps suggesting otherwise. Take for instance something like Triceratops, an extremely distinguishable life form. There are many fossils of Triceratops, but nothing at all of anything leading up to it. It therefore has in my view what is, without any evidence to suggest otherwise, a complete complete body form. I could suggest many more if you like?

    Good in- a- nutshell.

    KF

  214. C: Don’t forget the observed variability across deer and similar animals. Does this provide a branching, incremental account of the origin of the body plans for these animals, or does it simply show variations and adaptations of a general already existing form? In a case where red deer from Europe (which have quite a range of variants out into Asia, as i recall) and Elk from North America were found freely interfertile when introduced in NZ for hunting, never mind the taxonomic categorisations. KF

  215. kairosfocus @ 213, 214

    Thank you for engaging with the question on the table, which was (from 183):

    How do you know that final forms outnumber transitionals unless you can tell transitional forms apart from final forms? Pray, what is the difference you are basing this statement on?

    But for all your rhetorical firepower, you’ve still not given an answer that bears scrutiny.

    You claimed the question was a “wrong framing”. Yet it could not be more simple nor more logical.

    You said:

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms [--> notice the term!] in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. [--> a famous quote]” [cite]

    It should be clear that Gould is using the terms here, in the professional literature, in exactly the way I am doing so; …

    But by Gould’s own words, this cannot be correct. Gould clarified those remarks – as quoted – explaining that transitionals are only rare at a fine level of granularity, whilst on the whole, across all levels of the fossil record, transitionals are “rife” and “abundant”. So by Gould’s definition of “transitional form”, they are abundant, and by your definition they are exceedingly scarce. Therefore, as a purely logical matter, you must be using a different definition from Gould.

    What is more, we know what Gould’s definition of transitional is, and why by his definition they are undoubtedly abundant: a transitional is an organism that shares traits with two (or more) other groups of organisms. Gould’s point was that a form can appear suddenly in the fossil record, remain static for a time, then disappear, and can also be a transitional between other groups.

    What we want to know is, where precisely do you disagree with Gould’s definition of a transitional form?

    Cheers

  216. KF,

    And, I may be wrong but I didn’t see your definition of complete body plans.

    Dawkins says (and I agree) that ALL fossils represent transitional forms unless they are the last of a line because ALL life forms that left descendants which eventually formed other species could be said to be transitional.

    Perhaps an example would be helpful, you can tell us what you think of some specific fossilised body plans.

    Take any proposed fossil record for the development of any modern species. Here’s one for whales: http://www.dickrussell.org/gra....._page.html

    Typically there will be several fossilised extinct life forms with body plans somewhat different from the proposed descendant species and different from the proposed ancestor species. Are those fossilised body plans complete or transitional? For example, in the linked diagram: is Takracetus transitional between Rhodocetus and Gaviocetus? Is Takracetus a complete body plan? Are transitional and complete mutually exclusive?

    I am not trying to deflect the argument (I have done my best to address your issues and questions a number of times even if I do not come to your conclusions), I am trying to understand a point you brought up: what do you mean by complete body plans and how are they different from transitional body plans? We can return to the design inference later if you wish.

  217. Jerad:

    Pardon, but after a substantial matter has been pointed out and the mischaracterisation has been corrected more than once, it cannot any longer be a mere mistake if stuck with.

    You know, or should know that all along, I have been discussing the darwinian tree of life, and its incrementalist framework; indeed, that is what can be found in the excerpts from Gould I have used repeatedly here and in the linked longer discussion at IOSE. So, the side issue — and notice, having been corrected in more than enough details you went right back to the distractor as though merely repeating a caricature and pretending that an issue has not been clarified puts it back on the table . . . — is and has been from the outset, the transitional forms relative to key cases of such claimed transformation, or in more popular terms, missing links.

    I have long since pointed out in more than sufficient details why transitional forms should have dominated the history of life, if CV + DRS –> DWM were the driving force behind it. For 150 years, on the contrary, despite the fairly common spectacle of headlined icons (as a rule, backtracked on on further studies, up to cases over the past several years), with 250 k+ fossil species in hand, millions of examples in museums and billions seen in the field, from the major sections of the geologic column and around the world, there is good reason to hold that — for decades — we have seen the general pattern of life in the past of origins.

    That, as Gould repeatedly summarised, is that there is an overwhelming absence of the transitional sequences.

    The very fact that you have chosen to try to turnabout a burden of proof and pretend that there is an inadequate definition on my part for such transitional sequences, is itself eloquent testimony to the absence. For, had you these in hand, there would obviously have been a triumphant listing.But the horse sequence — the traditional capital example no 1, is subject to the observations that we have dog-sized mini horses today, three toed horses are still occasionally born, and that three and one toed horses come from the same strata. That is why the sequence that used to [dis?]grace textbooks for generations has fallen out of use in recent years. South Korea is catching up as we speak.

    The apes to man sequence has fallen on hard times, and the recent whales sequence has a serious problem accounting for perhaps 50,000 transitions from cow-like to whale-like, with relevant population scales and reproduction rates.

    And so on.

    Just to underscore what I am talking about, let me excerpt an early ID-friendly peer reviewed paper by Loennig, “Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis, and the origin of irreducible complexity” (2004):

    examples like the horseshoe crab are by no means rare exceptions from the rule of gradually evolving life forms . . . In fact, we are literally surrounded by ‘living fossils’ in the present world of organisms when applying the term more inclusively as “an existing species whose similarity to ancient ancestral species indicates that very few morphological changes have occurred over a long period of geological time” [85] . . . . Now, since all these “old features”, morphologically as well as molecularly, are still with us, the basic genetical questions should be addressed in the face of all the dynamic features of ever reshuffling and rearranging, shifting genomes, (a) why are these characters stable at all and (b) how is it possible to derive stable features from any given plant or animal species by mutations in their genomes? . . . .

    A first hint for answering the questions . . . is perhaps also provided by Charles Darwin himself when he suggested the following sufficiency test for his theory [16]: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” . . . Biochemist Michael J. Behe [5] has refined Darwin’s statement by introducing and defining his concept of “irreducibly complex systems”, specifying: “By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning” . . . [for example] (1) the cilium, (2) the bacterial flagellum with filament, hook and motor embedded in the membranes and cell wall and (3) the biochemistry of blood clotting in humans . . . .

    One point is clear: granted that there are indeed many systems and/or correlated subsystems in biology, which have to be classified as irreducibly complex and that such systems are essentially involved in the formation of morphological characters of organisms, this would explain both, the regular abrupt appearance of new forms in the fossil record as well as their constancy over enormous periods of time. For, if “several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function” are necessary for biochemical and/or anatomical systems to exist as functioning systems at all (because “the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning”) such systems have to (1) originate in a non-gradual manner and (2) must remain constant as long as they are reproduced and exist. And this could mean no less than the enormous time periods mentioned for all the living fossils hinted at above. Moreover, an additional phenomenon would also be explained: (3) the equally abrupt disappearance of so many life forms in earth history . . . The reason why irreducibly complex systems would also behave in accord with point (3) is also nearly self-evident: if environmental conditions deteriorate so much for certain life forms (defined and specified by systems and/or subsystems of irreducible complexity), so that their very existence be in question, they could only adapt by integrating further correspondingly specified and useful parts into their overall organization, which prima facie could be an improbable process — or perish . . . .

    According to Behe and several other authors [5-7, 21-23, 53-60, 68, 86] the only adequate hypothesis so far known for the origin of irreducibly complex systems is intelligent design (ID) . . . in connection with Dembski’s criterion of specified complexity . . . . “For something to exhibit specified complexity therefore means that it matches a conditionally independent pattern (i.e., specification) of low specificational complexity, but where the event corresponding to that pattern has a probability less than the universal probability bound and therefore high probabilistic complexity” [23]. For instance, regarding the origin of the bacterial flagellum, Dembski calculated a probability of 10^-234[22].

    You will notice that this paper is exploring why the pattern of stasis happens, despite the drifting of genes over the eras of time. And the answer comes down to the irreducible complexity and associated FSCO/I of functional forms. I hardly need to underscore that stasis would not need a serious explanation, if it were not a significant feature of the record of life forms.

    Similarly, let us note another early peer reviewed ID-supportive paper — yes, despite many talking points made against it, it passed proper peer review by “renowned” scientists. In it, Meyer tackled the Cambrian life revolution:

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

    In order to explain the origin of the Cambrian animals, one must account not only for new proteins and cell types, but also for the origin of new body plans . . . Mutations in genes that are expressed late in the development of an organism will not affect the body plan. Mutations expressed early in development, however, could conceivably produce significant morphological change (Arthur 1997:21) . . . [but] processes of development are tightly integrated spatially and temporally such that changes early in development will require a host of other coordinated changes in separate but functionally interrelated developmental processes downstream. For this reason, mutations will be much more likely to be deadly if they disrupt a functionally deeply-embedded structure such as a spinal column than if they affect more isolated anatomical features such as fingers (Kauffman 1995:200) . . . McDonald notes that genes that are observed to vary within natural populations do not lead to major adaptive changes, while genes that could cause major changes–the very stuff of macroevolution–apparently do not vary. In other words, mutations of the kind that macroevolution doesn’t need (namely, viable genetic mutations in DNA expressed late in development) do occur, but those that it does need (namely, beneficial body plan mutations expressed early in development) apparently don’t occur.6

    Here, we see the Cambrian revo, which notoriously lacks the transitionals leading up to the dozens of top level forms of animals found. It is in that context that Meyer exerts a calculation of the sort of scale of fresh functionally specific info needed to account for the new life forms, dozens of times over in what is an “eyeblink” on the conventional timeline. He comes up with 100+ million bits as a reasonable estimate.

    That is where the key absences of transitional forms has significance. We see the issue of the need for the FSCO/I to explain major body plan origination from unicellular forms. That puts us into the 10-100 mn bits FSCO/I ballpark. And that is well beyond the reasonable reach of chance plus necessity, without a trace of the transitional forms towards those dozens of major life forms. Where also the Ediacaran fossils, microfossils etc in preceeding layers removes the credibility of claims that the transitionals were not preserved as the rocks were not adequately fossil forming for soft bodied creatures etc etc.

    And, you will notice the darwinian tree of life context: LUCA –> Major body forms of the Cambrian. Where are the transitional sequences, from 3.8 to 4.2 BYA to 500 – 600 BYA on the conventional timeline? That is over 3 bn years to play with.

    It is in that context that we have the report of Gould and of others, that the same pattern of sudden appearances and stasis is a major pattern of the fossil record as collected over these past 150 years.

    By contrast, if we look at say trilobites, which share a common body plan, we can see all sorts of variations across the span they are seen, to the point where their variation is often used as an index. That is, we do see variations, but not such as transform fundamental forms. Indeed, Wiki, speaking against known ideological interest, says:

    The first appearance of trilobites in the fossil record defines the base of the Atdabanian stage of the Early Cambrian period (526 million years ago) . . . . The trilobites were among the most successful of all early animals, roaming the oceans for over 270 million years.[2]

    When trilobites first appeared in the fossil record they were already highly diverse and geographically dispersed. Because trilobites had wide diversity and an easily fossilized exoskeleton an extensive fossil record was left behind, with some 17,000 known species spanning Paleozoic time.

    Of course, just how many of those forms are genuinely different species is an open question, here we can think of red deer and dogs to see the problem of trying to judge species from body form, size etc. But the more basic point is that the record DOES show adaptations and variations, just not trend lines to materially distinct new body plans. In short the required vertical gradation to move from more “primitive” to more “advanced” life forms through incremental variations that are each advantageous enough to be fixed in populations and supplant older ones, is not being seen in the actual record. We see variation within an island of function, but not fundamental transformations of form through unlimited incremental variation driven by chance variation and differential reproductive success.

    The Darwinian tree of life, then, is an intellectual construct projected unto the actual record, not properly an observational summary of a steady incremental variation from the original unicellular forms to the various branched out forms. Which is what Gould outright stated, and as has been cited. And to top off, the molecular trees that have been constructed in recent years are quite plainly diverse from one another.

    After all of this, I feel that I have been forced to repeatedly go over a correction to a misperception — on the most charitable view I can force myself to take — that should not ever have been made to begin with, which has served to side track discussion and distract from the key issue, that FSCO/I has but one empirically warranted source, and this source is analytically supported, So, the design inference on the sign of FSCO/I is empirically well warranted.

    That same issue comes back up once we look at the way the cosmos’ fine tuned physics sets up a pattern in which the top four atoms, and one of the next to top four, get us from stars to the elements, to water and organic chemistry and proteins. No wonder Sir Fred Hoyle, looking on the resonance that sets up C and O, was moved to remark about how a superintellect had monkeyed with physics. And of course, that too was discussed way upthread. Kindly cf here for a link to a post at UD on the subject.

    G’day,

    KF

  218. Coaudius:

    Sorry, when Gould makes a plain statement in the per reviewed literature in 1977 and still sustains it 25 years later in his last technical work, two months before he died, this is not something he has retracted or corrected. It is something he has maintained, and it is consistent with his spending the intermediate decades in significant part working on an alternative theory of evo that accounts for the missing transitional sequences.

    And, to further demonstrate the point that the “vertical,” body form transformational transitional sequences — which we should be tripping over every tie we go out the front door — are conspicuously absent in the real fossil record, observe the rhetorical pattern of those who have objected to my point. they have not provided us the lists of abundant, unquestionable sequences. Nope, they are trying to resort to Darwin’s IOU that the fossil record was but poorly explored and was imperfect.

    The fossil beds of the past 4 or so By on the conventional timelines have been explored for 150 years. Nay, scoured. Billions of fossils seen in situ, millions in museums, 1/4 million+ fossil species. And the transitionals are simply not there to be seen after all that effort. In short, Gould’s summary as I have given it is accurate. His rhetorical retractions once creationists had taken up his writings, are what are suspect, if anything.

    The evidence is that the cross section is an adequate sample to have captured the general pattern. Just, it is not what we expected on Darwinian models and especially the tree of life with incremental variation without limit to form the full tree across time. the tree is still used, but the plain truth is the connexions between forms are inferred and projected unto the observations, they are not direct from observations.

    Darwinian gradualism in body plan formation — never mind the mosaics and the occasionally headlined “missing links” — is an intellectual construct, not an observational fact.

    KF

    PS: Onlookers may want to look at Paul Nelson’s presentation here.

  219. F/N: I see an attempt to draw us out on a further tangent regarding triceratops and kin. I will simply say, what is the vertical transformational significance of variations beyond say those of the deer family or say the pattern of diversity we may see across mastodons and elephants, or the Finches of the Galapagos? Again, where is the lead up to the general body plan, and the lead out to a farther along one, climbing up a branch to an alleged “higher” life form? I trust this makes the pivotal issue sufficiently plain, and why I see no point in further entertaining distractors maintained even after I took a fair amount of time to already address and correct them. After a couple of rounds like that, it becomes evident that side-tracking was the rhetorical object, not clarity.

  220. KF,

    You know, or should know that all along, I have been discussing the darwinian tree of life, and its incrementalist framework;

    Absolutely, it’s your view of that I want you to clarify.

    indeed, that is what can be found in the excerpts from Gould I have used repeatedly here and in the linked longer discussion at IOSE. So, the side issue — and notice, having been corrected in more than enough details you went right back to the distractor as though merely repeating a caricature and pretending that an issue has not been clarified puts it back on the table . . . — is and has been from the outset, the transitional forms relative to key cases of such claimed transformation, or in more popular terms, missing links.

    It’s because I’m not sure how you are using certain terms and that you seems to be at odds with some of what Dr Gould has said.

    That, as Gould repeatedly summarised, is that there is an overwhelming absence of the transitional sequences.

    But as has been pointed out, Gould himself said that the fossil record is rife with transitional forms. And he pointed out that some of his statements had been misinterpreted. Which is why I’m asking you to clarify your meanings so that we’re all clear what you are saying.

    The very fact that you have chosen to try to turnabout a burden of proof and pretend that there is an inadequate definition on my part for such transitional sequences, is itself eloquent testimony to the absence. For, had you these in hand, there would obviously have been a triumphant listing

    I’m not sure what you are getting at. I just want to know, and I’ve given a particular sequence for you to work with, what forms you consider transitional and what you consider complete. Not what Gould thought or what I think or what CLAVDIVS thinks. What you think.

    The very fact that you have chosen to try to turnabout a burden of proof and pretend that there is an inadequate definition on my part for such transitional sequences, is itself eloquent testimony to the absence.

    No attempt at turnaround, I just want you to be specific on what you mean by transitional and complete body plans. And in the case of transitional body plans how your definition compares with Dr Gould’s.

    Again, where is the lead up to the general body plan, and the lead out to a farther along one, climbing up a branch to an alleged “higher” life form?

    Ah, what constitutes a general body plan? You mean like mammals? Or primates? Or . . . .

    I trust this makes the pivotal issue sufficiently plain, and why I see no point in further entertaining distractors maintained even after I took a fair amount of time to already address and correct them. After a couple of rounds like that, it becomes evident that side-tracking was the rhetorical object, not clarity.

    I just want to know what you consider to be transitional forms/body plans and what are complete forms/body plans. If you answer the question we’ll better understand your point of view.

  221. Jerad/Clavdivs

    “What about Psittacosaurus? Protoceratops? Chasmosaurus? Monoclonius? Styracosaurus? Pentaceratops? Torosaurus? These are all ceratopsian dinosaurs like Triceratops, one of the largest groups of dinosaurs from the Cretaceous, showing fairly finely graded variations in the rostrum bone, beak, frill and horns – e.g”

    What about them really? Would you suggest that any two of these are in a direct line of transition, would you have said that any two of these dinosaurs were able to reproduce?

    What I was saying is that when you look at the fossil record for evidence of gradual change over time, or a direct line of transition as even one creature develops in this manner, you don’t find any.

    I am therefore suggesting, and I think quite plausibly too, that what you have in the fossil record are complete body forms.

    I thing KF has summed it up very well in some of his latter posts on this thread.

    As being someone who never believed in God, and always accepted evolution, no one was more suprised than me to discover that I was wrong on both counts. And how fantsatically liberating that has been.

    You should try laying aside your Darwinian specs and have a right good look at the evidence. It may just do the same for yo

    P

  222. PeterJ,

    What about them really? Would you suggest that any two of these are in a direct line of transition, would you have said that any two of these dinosaurs were able to reproduce?

    What would you say about them Peter? What story do they tell?

    What I was saying is that when you look at the fossil record for evidence of gradual change over time, or a direct line of transition as even one creature develops in this manner, you don’t find any.

    Did you look at the whale progression I linked to? How do you explain the apparent transitions?

    Remember too that evolutionary theory does not JUST rely on fossils. As has been pointed out in another thread recently Wallace and Darwin found the biogeographic data extremely compelling. Is your view different when you combine the fossil and biogeographic data? And if you throw in the morphological record? And the genetic data? And the evidence from human breeding programs?

    I am therefore suggesting, and I think quite plausibly too, that what you have in the fossil record are complete body forms.

    Could you give a definition of ‘complete body forms’ so that we can be sure what you mean? Are complete body forms mutually exclusive from transitional forms? Or can a body form be both? Does complete body form mean that they left no descendants? That they existed, were pretty successful and then just went extinct?

    As being someone who never believed in God, and always accepted evolution, no one was more suprised than me to discover that I was wrong on both counts. And how fantsatically liberating that has been.

    I’m very glad for you. Truly. But I disagree with you about the truth of evolution.

    You should try laying aside your Darwinian specs and have a right good look at the evidence. It may just do the same for yo

    As I said before, I examine my beliefs about evolution every day. And almost every day I find the evidence more compelling.

  223. Jerad:

    Pardon, but you — by willfully ignoring some very direct warnings on drumbeat repetition of tangential talking points while diverting from central issues — have now convinced me that your objective in this thread always was or has become distractive thread-jacking, using the tactics pioneered at UD by the sock-puppet MathGrrl.

    You have had more than adequate information to walk back from strawman mischaracterisations off on successive tangents, but insist on more and more of same.

    Kindly, take that as a warning.

    As to the latest tangents, I think the astute onlooker will clearly see that I have raised the question of missing transitional forms (notice, how that term has been in the professional literature from Gould for 35 years and observe what he left in the book he knew was his legacy) in the context of the Darwinian tree of life claim of vertical development, with particular attention to the fossil record’s cross section of life forms of the past of origins. And, it is quite clear that after 150 years of diligent search across the world and the sections of the geologic column, with 1/4 million fossil species, millions of specimens in museums and billions seen in situ, there simply is no widely seen pattern of observed vertical development along the lines of the former horse sequence that stood in museums and textbooks for generations.

    This, in a context where transitional sequences tracing back to unicellular common ancestors should be a dominant or at least common pattern in the fossiliferous strata, had gradualistic succession of incrementally improved populations been the actual dynamic of life.

    In short, all the rhetoric above worked to distract attention from and obscure something that was there since Darwin had to try to justify why the fossils did not directly support his gradualistic picture.

    Namely, that life forms come in islands of function. That is, we see in biology just what we should expect from the nature of functionally specific complex organisation that involves integrated systems comprising many well-matched, carefully arranged parts — here, self-assembling, too! (from zygotes etc on up) — distinct information-rich clusters of parts and arrangements that work, in an implicit context of many possible arrangements that would not work. The example from a recent thread on 2LOT and open systems in the biological world comes to mind. A .22 bullet properly placed in a cow’s head, effects a small disruption of finely balanced, organised CNS components. The result — common in butcher shops — is incompatible with continued life.

    In short, the actual evidence out there is consistent with what we should expect on a design theory view.

    But, per the happenstance of the relevant history of ideas, it is commonly force-fitted into a gradualist Darwinian model, in the context of a background implicit controlling evolutionary materialist a priori. The institutional party-line implications will suffice to ensure that many who do not formally adhere to such a priori materialism, will accommodate themselves to the realities of institutional balances of power.

    Indeed, in many cases, those trained within the system will have been so led to believe in its soundness and power, that they will be blissfully unaware of a prioris, begged questions, failed predictions, explanatory gaps etc. Not to mention, in a world where the dogma of scientism still holds a lot of power, they will not be aware of inherent limitations of scientific knowledge claims, especially on the attempted reconstruction of the unobservable past of origins.

    And, when the smoke of burning strawmen clears, we will see the root inductive logic issue looming dead ahead.

    So, instead of further rewarding distractions, let us focus the central issue, the inference to design as best causal explanation, on well warranted signs.

    Namely, we have a common pattern that causal forces and factors commonly stamp what they act on with characteristic signs.

    A deer, walking down a forest trail, will leave characteristic tracks and often droppings. From tracks, we may properly infer deer as best explanation, even if not directly observed. That, even in the teeth of possibilities of trickery. The responsible interpretation in absence of additional signs of manipulation, or of another animal that somehow leaves the same sort of tracks, is: deer.

    Provisional, but well warranted and credibly true.

    (BTW, this is the same general degree of warrant that obtains in scientific contexts, and on the same basic logic.)

    Just so, and as one of the background posts to the ID foundation series argues:

    Signs: I observe one or more signs [in a pattern], and infer the signified object, on a warrant:

    I: [si] –> O, on W

    a –> Here, as I will use “sign” [as opposed to "symbol"], the connexion is a more or less causal or natural one; e.g. a pattern of deer tracks on the ground is an index, pointing to a deer.

    (NB, 02:28: Sign can be used more broadly in technical semiotics to embrace “symbol” and other complexities, but this is not needed for our purposes. I am using “sign” much as it is used in medicine, at least since Hippocrates of Cos in C5 BC, i.e. to point to a disease on an objective, warranted indicator.)

    b –> If the sign is not a sufficient condition of the signified, the inference is not certain and is defeatable; though it may be inductively strong. (E.g. someone may imitate deer tracks.)

    c –> The warrant for an inference may in key cases require considerable background knowledge or cues from the context.

    d –> The act of inference may also be implicit or even intuitive, and I may not be able to articulate but may still be quite well-warranted to trust the inference. Especially, if it traces to senses I have good reason to accept are working well, and are acting in situations that I have no reason to believe will materially distort the inference . . .

    This pattern of reasoning on signs is well-known and indeed is ancient, as the deer track example highlights. An interesting discussion appears in Aristotle’s The Rhetoric, Bk I Ch 2:

    [1357b] Of Signs, one kind bears the same relation to the statement it supports as the particular bears to the universal, the other the same as the universal bears to the particular. The infallible kind is a “complete proof” (tekmerhiou); the fallible kind has no specific name. By infallible signs I mean those on which syllogisms proper may be based: and this shows us why this kind of Sign is called “complete proof”: when people think that what they have said cannot be refuted, they then think that they are bringing forward a “complete proof,” meaning that the matter has now been demonstrated and completed . . .

    In short, Ari here distinguishes signs that convey moral certainty per a strong pattern in our experience, from those that convey lesser warrant but are “good enough for government work.”

    It turns out that in scientific (and a lot of ordinary, day to day) investigations:

    1: we see natural, more or less fixed regularities that point to laws of mechanical necessity at work, such as the tendency of heavy objects near the Earth’s surface to fall at about 9.8 N/kg.

    2: In other cases, outcomes under similar initial circumstances are highly consistent but show a stable pattern in accord with some model or other that gives a probability distribution. This is a sign of chance at work, constrained by the driving parameters of the distribution. For instance a dropped fair die tumbles and settles to read 1 to 6 in a flat distribution, and wind speeds often follow Weibull distributions.

    3: In other highly contingent situations, outcomes reflect characteristic signs of purposeful intelligence at work, by design. For instance, we often see functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information [FSCO/I] the operationally relevant form of the CSI discussed since Orgel and Wicken, then taken up by Thaxton et al and latterly Dembski et al. In every case where we can directly and independently observe and assess the cause of FSCO/I, it is design. And this is backed up by the general nature of chance sampling, which will tend to reflect the bulk of a distribution when samples are too small to reasonably expect to catch needles in the haystack.

    In short, we here see the rationale of the design inference filter, which can be summarised in a flowchart diagram (it is in effect an algorithm of inductive logic inference), or expressed in an equation; here, in a simple form at solar system atomic and temporal resources level:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold for inferring design as best explanation for FSCO/I

    In effect, where we see I bits of functional and specific info (S being a dummy binary variable of objective warrant for specificity: if so, S = 1, and it is 0 otherwise), and I*S exceeds 500 bits, we are warranted to infer design as best explanation on the gamut of the solar system. For the observed cosmos as a whole the threshold would move to 1,000 bits, for similar needle in the haystack reasons.

    DNA-based, cellular life forms, by that criterion, are chock-full of signs of design. That is controversial, but only because of the dominance of evolutionary materialism. There is no empirical observation based warrant for the evo mat claims of chance and necessity creating such FSCO/I, starting with the origin of the very self-replicating facility integrated in a metabolic, encapsulated automaton that defines the living cell. (Notice, the studious absence of objectors in that thread.)

    Going to cosmological level, perhaps the pivotal observation is that the observed cosmos seems fine-tuned for C-chemistry, aqueous-medium, cell based life. Indeed, it turns out that the first four most abundant elements in the cosmos are linked through a key set of properties and interactions at nuclear level — I here speak of a resonance responsible for the abundance of C and O — and get us to H: stars, He: build-up of other elements from the “ash” of H fusion, C & O: water and organic chemistry. Add another common element, N, and we are at proteins. look at the delicate and unique properties of water, and the impression of purpose, given the evident fine tuning, is overwhelming. At least to those open to consider it.

    In short, through inference on warranted signs, there is a serious case for design of life and of the cosmos that accommodates it. But, if you were to listen to the evo mat establishment and take them at their word on their line of talking points, you would never see that.

    That, is perhaps the most important (though, quite sad) take-away point from this thread, which now seems to have run its course.

    G’day,

    KF

  224. F/N: Those wishing to reflect on the darwinian tree of life may wish to observe the remarks here.

  225. PeterJ @ 221

    PETERJ @ 209: Take for instance something like Triceratops, an extremly distinguishable life form. There are many fossils of Triceratops, but nothing at all of anything leading up to it.

    CLAVDIVS @ 210: What about Psittacosaurus? Protoceratops? Chasmosaurus? Monoclonius? Styracosaurus? Pentaceratops? Torosaurus?

    PETERJ @ 221: What about them really? Would you suggest that any two of these are in a direct line of transition, would you have said that any two of these dinosaurs were able to reproduce?

    You said there’s nothing “leading up to” Triceratops. So I gave a series of intermediate forms exhibiting gradual development of the horns, frill etc. clearly “leading up to” Triceratops and ilk – exactly what you asked for.

    In any case, thank you for at least attempting to clarify what you mean by “transitional form”, namely, fossils “in a direct line of transition”.

    Unfortunately, your personal definition of “transitional form” appears to be an own goal, as the only model of origins that expects to see “direct lines” of transition is the creationist orchard model. Since, by your own words, direct lines of transition are not seen, the creationist orchard model is refuted by the fossil evidence.

    The evolutionary model, on the other hand, expects a tree-like branching process – as diagrammed on the wall behind the ceratopsian skulls I showed you. And since fossilisation is a somewhat random process, evolutionists expect fossils to appear as though from various scattered locations on the twigs, branches and nodes of that tree. Of course, this is exactly what we do see, so the evolutionist model is confirmed by the fossil record.

    Cheers

  226. Kairosfocus @ 218

    Sorry, when Gould makes a plain statement in the per reviewed literature in 1977 and still sustains it 25 years later in his last technical work, two months before he died, this is not something he has retracted or corrected.

    In short, Gould’s summary as I have given it is accurate. His rhetorical retractions once creationists had taken up his writings, are what are suspect, if anything.

    My challenge to your line of reasoning here is the logical inconsistency of claiming Gould as an expert authority for your point, whilst ignoring and dismissing that same expert’s specific, detailed and repeated refutations of that very same point. Either Gould is an expert authority on the fossil record, or he is not. You cannot have it both ways.

    Gould’s opinion on the overall pattern of the fossil record was made very clear throughout his writings – anagenetic transitions within lineages are rare (but not absent), whilst cladogenetic transitions between lineages are abundant. The whole thrust of Gould’s work is founded upon the understanding that these are very different types of transition that appear at very different frequencies in the fossil record. So it is a fundamental misunderstanding of Gould’s life’s work to take his comment about the rarity of anagenesis and interpret it to mean the rarity of cladogenesis.

    The fossil beds of the past 4 or so By on the conventional timelines have been explored for 150 years. Nay, scoured. Billions of fossils seen in situ, millions in museums, 1/4 million+ fossil species. And the transitionals are simply not there to be seen after all that effort.

    Anagenetic transitions are rare. But by Gould’s definition – and that of modern evolution theory – cladogenetic transitions are “rife” and “abundant”. For example, fossil hominims show an obvious graded sequence of intermediates.

    Cheers

  227. Cladvis
    “You said there’s nothing “leading up to” Triceratops. So I gave a series of intermediate forms exhibiting gradual development of the horns, frill etc. clearly “leading up to” Triceratops and ilk – exactly what you asked for.
    No, what you have given me is nothing of the kind. Admittedly some are relatively alike, and may even be closely related, but that’s about as far as you can go with that.

    To suggest that one is a direct ancestor of the other is pure speculation, and I would like to think you know that.

    I never set out to become a creationist, I was very open minded about where the evidence would lead me, and quite willing to accept evolution and hold that stance. But Darwinian evolution, Imo, is severely lacking in many departments leaving me with very little choice, after studying it quite extensively too I must add, to dismiss it completely.

    I think a large part of that also comes from the reasoning of some evolutionists, like yours, when a lack of physical evidence can also be construed as affirming evolution.

    Nah. I thank you for taking the time to explain your point, and must say I have quite enjoyed it too, but you have done little else than further strengthen my belief in creation.

    P

  228. KF,

    Pardon, but you — by willfully ignoring some very direct warnings on drumbeat repetition of tangential talking points while diverting from central issues — have now convinced me that your objective in this thread always was or has become distractive thread-jacking, using the tactics pioneered at UD by the sock-puppet MathGrrl.

    I don’t see how asking you to clarify a term you used is hijacking a thread. Anyway, you can stop responding any time.

    You have had more than adequate information to walk back from strawman mischaracterisations off on successive tangents, but insist on more and more of same.

    Kindly, take that as a warning.

    Asking for clarification is not playing by the rules? How do you figure that?

    As to the latest tangents, I think the astute onlooker will clearly see that I have raised the question of missing transitional forms (notice, how that term has been in the professional literature from Gould for 35 years and observe what he left in the book he knew was his legacy) in the context of the Darwinian tree of life claim of vertical development, with particular attention to the fossil record’s cross section of life forms of the past of origins. And, it is quite clear that after 150 years of diligent search across the world and the sections of the geologic column, with 1/4 million fossil species, millions of specimens in museums and billions seen in situ, there simply is no widely seen pattern of observed vertical development along the lines of the former horse sequence that stood in museums and textbooks for generations.

    How do you explain the quotes provided by CLAVDIVS that contradict your interpretation of Gould’s remarks?

    This, in a context where transitional sequences tracing back to unicellular common ancestors should be a dominant or at least common pattern in the fossiliferous strata, had gradualistic succession of incrementally improved populations been the actual dynamic of life.

    IF universal common descent is true then almost all fossils are transitional forms. That’s why we keep asking you to define your terms.

    In short, all the rhetoric above worked to distract attention from and obscure something that was there since Darwin had to try to justify why the fossils did not directly support his gradualistic picture.

    The fossils don’t contradict the gradualistic theory given that we don’t expect the fossil record to be complete in any sense of the word.

    Namely, that life forms come in islands of function. That is, we see in biology just what we should expect from the nature of functionally specific complex organisation that involves integrated systems comprising many well-matched, carefully arranged parts — here, self-assembling, too! (from zygotes etc on up) — distinct information-rich clusters of parts and arrangements that work, in an implicit context of many possible arrangements that would not work. The example from a recent thread on 2LOT and open systems in the biological world comes to mind. A .22 bullet properly placed in a cow’s head, effects a small disruption of finely balanced, organised CNS components. The result — common in butcher shops — is incompatible with continued life.

    But you could cut the cow’s tails and ears off and it would survive. It can recover from some diseases. I don’t see what shooting cows in the head has to do with establishing that the web of life created by universal common descent cannot exist. I have heard you say over and over and over again that there are islands of functionality and I still disagree with you.

    In short, the actual evidence out there is consistent with what we should expect on a design theory view.

    Perhaps, but it’s also consistent with an evolutionary point of view. And the evolutionary paradigm has greater explanatory power and only extrapolates observed processes. There is no proof that evolution is limited as you try to assert.

    But, per the happenstance of the relevant history of ideas, it is commonly force-fitted into a gradualist Darwinian model, in the context of a background implicit controlling evolutionary materialist a priori. The institutional party-line implications will suffice to ensure that many who do not formally adhere to such a priori materialism, will accommodate themselves to the realities of institutional balances of power.

    I am not a member of any institution nor do I make my living as an academic.

    Indeed, in many cases, those trained within the system will have been so led to believe in its soundness and power, that they will be blissfully unaware of a prioris, begged questions, failed predictions, explanatory gaps etc. Not to mention, in a world where the dogma of scientism still holds a lot of power, they will not be aware of inherent limitations of scientific knowledge claims, especially on the attempted reconstruction of the unobservable past of origins.

    And you’ve seen this yourself? You were educated in the system?

    So, instead of further rewarding distractions, let us focus the central issue, the inference to design as best causal explanation, on well warranted signs.

    I’m happy to return to that issue (although I think we were running out of things to say) but I’m still confused over your use of ‘complete body plans’.

    In fact I’m a bit surprised at your unwillingness to address the issue. It seemed to be a central point for you and yet you are reluctant to elaborate it.

    I’ll leave off commenting on the rest of your post as it’s mostly a repeat of points we’ve discussed at length already.

  229. PeterJ,

    No, what you have given me is nothing of the kind. Admittedly some are relatively alike, and may even be closely related, but that’s about as far as you can go with that.

    Um . . . .what would you expect transitional fossils to look like? How fine a gradation in morphological changes would there have to be for you to accept that one species descended from another?

    Or: what is your definition of a transitional fossil and how could we prove that a fossil is one?

  230. PeterJ,

    No response? I’m a bit disappointed. You seemed quite willing to engage in the discussion.

  231. Claudius

    Sorry, but I need to speak for record; it being evident that onlookers will have to decide for themselves.

    I have long since highlighted what Gould said and did across decades on the matter. He did not take one stance in 1977 then later abandon it or correct himself from being taken out of context.

    In 1977, he went on record:

    The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils. Yet Darwin was so wedded to gradualism that he wagered his entire theory on a denial of this literal record:

    The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find intermediate varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps [[ . . . . ] He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record will rightly reject my whole theory.[[Cf. Origin, Ch 10, "Summary of the preceding and present Chapters," also see similar remarks in Chs 6 and 9.]

    Darwin’s argument still persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution. In exposing its cultural and methodological roots, I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism (for all general views have similar roots). I wish only to point out that it was never “seen” in the rocks.

    Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.” [[Stephen Jay Gould 'Evolution's erratic pace'. Natural History, vol. LXXXVI95), May 1977, p.14.]

    sure, he believed in evolution and gradual transformation to form new body plans, but he acknowledges that this is inference. In intervening decades, he was a co-founder of a theory that sought to account for absence of transitional fossil sequences, and at the end of his life, he published in his 2002 technical book, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory :

    . . . long term stasis following geologically abrupt origin of most fossil morphospecies, has always been recognized by professional paleontologists. [[p. 752.]

    . . . . The great majority of species do not show any appreciable evolutionary change at all. These species appear in the section [[first occurrence] without obvious ancestors in the underlying beds, are stable once established and disappear higher up without leaving any descendants.” [[p. 753.]

    . . . . proclamations for the supposed ‘truth’ of gradualism – asserted against every working paleontologist’s knowledge of its rarity – emerged largely from such a restriction of attention to exceedingly rare cases under the false belief that they alone provided a record of evolution at all! The falsification of most ‘textbook classics’ upon restudy only accentuates the fallacy of the ‘case study’ method and its root in prior expectation rather than objective reading of the fossil record. [[p. 773.]

    So, at the end of his career, he was just about where he was in 1977.

    In addition, as I documented already, the point is not merely debating on a Gould he-said. So, we can know where the fossil data on incremental origin of body plan facts lie.

    There is a widely acknowledged general absence of multi-point transitional fossil sequences relevant to the origin of major body plans and specialised organs. That is the context in which, for a classic case in point, the former iconic horse fossil sequence — which from 1879 on used to be used for generations as a prime example of alleged incremental emergence of such — has been retired.

    KF

  232. Jerad

    You have now gone on to play the tangential talking point game on another thread. I have addressed it there. This is a problem.

    And, you persist in sustaining a strawman caricature, for it should have been clear from the outset and certainly after I have repeatedly emphasised the point, that I have spoken to the issue of transitional sequences SEEN in the fossil record.

    That should never have been an issue that needed any clarification in the first place, and having been clarified it should never have been an occasion for repeated pummelling of a strawman caricature that is distractive from the focal issues for the thread. Especially when we have a classic iconic transitional sequence on the table, the horse sequence.

    As for the attempt to suggest that I have not adequately responded to Claudius, let the above for the record speak.

    What I find interesting is how you now seem to want to suggest that almost all forms are transitional. That is a case of studiously whistling by the graveyard in the dark if there ever was one.

    This duppy leaning on the fence therefore shouts: BOO!

    And, back on the main thread topic, it is clear that the root problem is that there is a determination not to accept any reasonable inference on empirical designs that point where you would not go, never mind the price paid in selective hyperskepticism that leads to double standards on warrant for inductive reasoning.

    This duppy leaning on the fence says, BOO, again.

    Your attempt to distract from the significance of how small disruptions to the vital functional organisation of the CNS can be instantly fatal — showing how islands of function are exemplified routinely here — by a side-track shows the problem again. In reply, you just say you disagree; disagree here with a routine fact — the .22 fired into a cow’s head causes a relatively small disruption to brain tissue organisation, with utterly disruptive consequences.

    BOO, again.

    And, I should add that the history of the rise of evolutionary materialist scientism to power in science, science edu and society is a matter of abundantly accessible fact, too.

    KF

  233. KF,

    And, you persist in sustaining a strawman caricature, for it should have been clear from the outset and certainly after I have repeatedly emphasised the point, that I have spoken to the issue of transitional sequences SEEN in the fossil record.

    That should never have been an issue that needed any clarification in the first place, and having been clarified it should never have been an occasion for repeated pummelling of a strawman caricature that is distractive from the focal issues for the thread. Especially when we have a classic iconic transitional sequence on the table, the horse sequence.

    But it wasn’t just the notion of transitional I wanted you to clearify (since your use of the term seems different from Gould’s based on quotes given). I was interested in your definition of ‘complete body plans’ or forms which you did state and haven’t clarified.

    What I find interesting is how you now seem to want to suggest that almost all forms are transitional. That is a case of studiously whistling by the graveyard in the dark if there ever was one.

    This duppy leaning on the fence therefore shouts: BOO!

    Duppy? What’s a duppy?

    It’s my opinion, based on the implications of evolutionary theory, that all life forms with descendents are transitional forms. I offered that to make sure my view was not in question and so you could contrast it with yours. And your definition of ‘complete body plans’.

    And, back on the main thread topic, it is clear that the root problem is that there is a determination not to accept any reasonable inference on empirical designs that point where you would not go, never mind the price paid in selective hyperskepticism that leads to double standards on warrant for inductive reasoning.

    This duppy leaning on the fence says, BOO, again.

    This duppy seems quite busy. I’ve discussed the inference to design with you and I thought we’d agreed to disagree on that.

    Your attempt to distract from the significance of how small disruptions to the vital functional organisation of the CNS can be instantly fatal — showing how islands of function are exemplified routinely here — by a side-track shows the problem again. In reply, you just say you disagree; disagree here with a routine fact — the .22 fired into a cow’s head causes a relatively small disruption to brain tissue organisation, with utterly disruptive consequences.

    I agree that shooting a cow in the head (might take more than a 22 calibre round though) is generally fatal but I don’t see what that has to do with proving that biological forms exist on islands of functionality. And I wasn’t interested in discussing that all over again as I think we’ve exhausted that topic.

    And, I should add that the history of the rise of evolutionary materialist scientism to power in science, science edu and society is a matter of abundantly accessible fact, too.

    Whatever. I just wanted to know what you meant by ‘complete body plans”.

  234. Jerad @ 233

    A duppy is a spook, ghost or spirit – the term originates in Africa and is common in the Caribbean.

    Cheers

  235. CLAVDIVS,

    Oh, right. So KF was wagging his finger at me via a non-existent proxy?

  236. KF,

    Does this mean you are not going to define what you mean by ‘complete’ body forms.

    I just want to know so I can stop monitoring this thread.

  237. Kairosfocus @ 231

    I have long since highlighted what Gould said and did across decades on the matter. He did not take one stance in 1977 then later abandon it or correct himself from being taken out of context.

    Of course Gould did not take one stance, then later abandon it. His stance was, and remained, that anagenetic transitions are rare (but not absent) and cladogenetic transitions are abundant.

    But I simply don’t understand how you can deny that Gould corrected himself from being taken out of context. You even acknowledged this yourself when you said (@ 218): “His rhetorical retractions once creationists had taken up his writings, are what are suspect, if anything.

    sure, he believed in evolution and gradual transformation to form new body plans, but he acknowledges that this is inference. In intervening decades, he was a co-founder of a theory that sought to account for absence of transitional fossil sequences…

    Gould was co-founder of a theory that sought to account for the relative rarity of anagenetic transitions showing phyletic gradualism within lineages; he did not seek to account for the rarity of cladogenetic transitions between lineages because such are not rare, they are “rife” and “abundant”, according to Gould. Your failure to distinguish between anagenesis and cladogenesis, in the context of discussing Gould’s work, demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of his work, and thus undermines the credibility of your argument based upon his work.

    That is all I wanted to point out.

    There is a widely acknowledged general absence of multi-point transitional fossil sequences relevant to the origin of major body plans and specialised organs. That is the context in which, for a classic case in point, the former iconic horse fossil sequence — which from 1879 on used to be used for generations as a prime example of alleged incremental emergence of such — has been retired.

    Great example. The horse fossil sequence was portrayed as an anagenetic sequence, which it is not. Instead it shows cladogenetic transitions i.e. fossil forms having traits belonging to two or more other groups, and appearing in exactly the pattern we would expect if we randomly sampled points on a branching tree of descent.

    In any case, there is not a “general absence” of transitional fossils between “major body plans”. In recent years we have discovered transitional forms between the Precambrian worm-like forms and the brachiopods, like halkiera and kimberella; the molluscs, like wiwaxia; and an excellent sequence of transitions to the arthropods, such as aysheaia, anomolocaris, bomakellia and opabinia.

    Cheers

  238. Cladvis

    I really do appreciate what you are trying to put across here, but I simply can’t agree. I have sought answers to the problems with the fossil record for a number of years now and what I can not find is ‘significant’ evidence for Darwinian evolution.

    “In any case, there is not a “general absence” of transitional fossils between “major body plans”.”

    No, there is a ‘complete absence’. The only way anyone can possibly see such transition in the fossil record is if that is what they want to see.

    From what I can gather, or at least the conclusion that I have come to, is that all the evidence for the evolutionary transition, of any species, ends up in speculation.

    I want to see hard physical evidence. I know that’s a tall order in many ways, but if life evolved, like Darwin believed, and that every life form shared a common ancestor, or even came from a few, with all the fossils available we should easily see this happening. But we don’t, unless that is what one wants to see.

    Horse evolution, for instance, is being dropped from many science text books etc, for fairly obvious reasons. Just like whale evolution is largely being dropped by many leading palaeontologists, for obvious reasons too.

    “In recent years we have discovered transitional forms between the Precambrian worm-like forms and the brachiopods, like halkiera and kimberella; the molluscs, like wiwaxia; and an excellent sequence of transitions to the arthropods, such as aysheaia, anomolocaris, bomakellia and opabinia.”

    Would you please provide me with a link to the above study?

    Only if you have time.

    Thanks.

    P

  239. PeterJ @ 238

    Thanks for the response.

    The only way anyone can possibly see such transition in the fossil record is if that is what they want to see.

    From what I can gather, or at least the conclusion that I have come to, is that all the evidence for the evolutionary transition, of any species, ends up in speculation.

    I want to see hard physical evidence. I know that’s a tall order in many ways, but if life evolved, like Darwin believed, and that every life form shared a common ancestor, or even came from a few, with all the fossils available we should easily see this happening. But we don’t, unless that is what one wants to see.

    I think what you’re really talking about here is epistemology – what does it mean for something to be reliably established by physical evidence, and does evolution theory meet that standard?

    There is an agreed upon procedure in modern science for establishing a theory, which includes objective physical observations, subjective judging and written debate. This proceedure has proved reliable countless times in many varied circumstances, including in industry, politics and law. And evolution theory has indeed been confirmed using this procedure.

    Accordingly, the facts of the fossil record, genetics, ecology etc. are seen to support evolution theory because they have been analysed in accordance with the recognised scientific process by a global, cross-cultural, interfaith community of scientists. I do not believe it is fair to characterise this kind of reasoning as “speculation” or just seeing “what one wants to see”. It’s a humble, thoughtful and common sense approach to knowledge and truth-seeking.

    “In recent years we have discovered transitional forms between the Precambrian worm-like forms and the brachiopods, like halkiera and kimberella; the molluscs, like wiwaxia; and an excellent sequence of transitions to the arthropods, such as aysheaia, anomolocaris, bomakellia and opabinia.”

    Would you please provide me with a link to the above study?

    It’s not just one study, there are many. A few moments with Google will do wonders: I found this, or have a look at this page on Mickwitzia.

    Cheers

  240. Jerad:

    Pardon directness: you persist in sidetracking and strawmen.

    For record, I have added some specific remarks here on, with additional cites and a brief discussion on the classic case of transitional forms that was used for generations; and which set the context for my remarks. That provides a clear enough additional understanding for those who need further facts.

    The onlooker will also be able to see that my handling of the statements of Gould in light of his career, is fair. Not only in 1977 etc, but also right up to two months prior to his death — having co-founded an alternate theory of evolution that sought to address systematic gaps in the fossil record in the intervening decades — he was on record in The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (2002):

    . . . long term stasis following geologically abrupt origin of most fossil morphospecies, has always been recognized by professional paleontologists. [[p. 752.]

    . . . . The great majority of species do not show any appreciable evolutionary change at all. These species appear in the section [[first occurrence] without obvious ancestors in the underlying beds, are stable once established and disappear higher up without leaving any descendants.” [[p. 753.]

    . . . . proclamations for the supposed ‘truth’ of gradualism – asserted against every working paleontologist’s knowledge of its rarity – emerged largely from such a restriction of attention to exceedingly rare cases under the false belief that they alone provided a record of evolution at all! The falsification of most ‘textbook classics’ upon restudy only accentuates the fallacy of the ‘case study’ method and its root in prior expectation rather than objective reading of the fossil record. [[p. 773.]

    In that light the drumbeat repetition of demands for a definition based on a strawman distortion of what I had to say do not speak well on your behalf. Please, do better.

    As to the new talking point that all life forms are transitional, that boils down to begging the question through projecting an a priori darwinist view unto the evidence. Regardless of the actual pattern that starts with the way the Cambrian fossils go top down, not bottom up. (Don’t even ask about the confused picture posed by the conflicting molecular reconstructions.)

    So, this duppy leaning on the fence sez: BOO!

    On the focal issue for the thread, it is evident from the past several weeks, that under present perceptions, no reasonably accessible empirical evidence or reasoned argument will suffice to open your eyes to acknowledge signs that are empirically reliable indicators of design. On track record, you will predictably demand an inconsistently high and known unavailable standard of warrant for anything that cuts across your system of thought.

    This is the problem of incoherent evidentialism, a case of selectively hyperskeptical question-begging. In reply to you — and to Sagan and Clifford — I note:

    extraordinary claims require extraordinary [adequate] evidence.

    In particular, you need to face the fact that the past of origins is unobservable to and unobserved by us. However, as with many other things that we may not directly access, there are traces that come down to us. Some of these are in fact characteristic signs, comparable to deer tracks.

    That is, we have an empirically known, adequate cause. There is good reason to believe there is not an adequate alternate cause (or at any rate, the chances of such are vanishingly remote). So, where it is important to take a responsible position, we may reasonably — and in many cases, with moral certainty — infer from sign to signified adequate cause. And in any case, we are not entitled to dismiss such signs as though they have zero evidentiary value, especially if we are clinging to proposed alternatives that lack empirical support of comparable quality.

    Here, the issue is that functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information [FSCO/I] — such as the arrangement of pixels in this message, or the strings of symbols in a working computer program, or that of the components in an amplifier circuit that works, or that of the process units in a petroleum refinery, or the paint swatches in an accurate portrait, or the parts of a car engine etc etc [and here note the conceptual priority of ostensive definition by pointing to key examples and family resemblance over precising statements or genus-difference] — is a commonly encountered phenomenon with just one observed cause, intelligence. In addition, there are good needle in haystack, accessible atomic resources grounds for seeing that once we have over 500 bits of FSCO/I on the gamut of our solar system, sampling limitations of the accessible search resources imply that we are maximally unlikely to hit on unrepresentative, special zones by chance and blind necessity. You already know — though you seem inclined to reject even examples before your eyes — that such FSCO/I strongly tends to come in isolated islands in the space of possible configurations of components.

    In short the inference from FSCO/I to design as adequate and best causal explanation, is well-warranted.

    In the case of the observed cosmos (onlookers, see how exactly I have to specify on long experience of tangents led off to strawmen) the fine tuning of its underlying physics points to design. Cf here for a 101 with onward links; never seriously addressed by dismissive objectors.

    For the world of life, the pivotal issue is the origin in Darwin’s warm pond or equivalent, of encapsulated metabolising automata with integrated von Neumann self-replicator. This is before any reproduction can occur, so, the distractor that pretends that FSCO/I can arise incrementally through evolution is off the table. You have simply repeatedly refused to seriously address this case.

    Where, this is decisive, as it puts design on the table as credible best explanation on empirically well-warranted sign in the context of the origin of the very first body plan.

    So, when we see that the whole world o of life is full of body plans that credibly require 10 – 100 mn bits of new FSCI to form them, design is again the reasonable explanation.

    On the question of what a body plan is, let us cite wiki against obvious ideological interest:

    A body plan is the blueprint for the way the body of an organism is laid out. Each species of multicellular organism—plant, fungus, red algea, slime mold, among others—has a body plan. This article is about animal body plans.

    An animal’s symmetry,[1] its number of body segments and number of limbs are all aspects of its body plan. One of the key issues of developmental biology is the evolution of body plans as different as those of a starfish, or a mammal, which come from a close common biological heritage, both are deuterostomes. One issue in particular is how radical changes in body plans have occurred over geological time. The body plan is a key feature of an organism’s morphology and, since the discovery of DNA, developmental biologists have been able to learn a lot about how genes control the development of structural features through a cascade of processes in which key genes produce morphogens, chemicals that diffuse through the body to produce a gradient that acts as a position indicator for cells, turning on other genes, some of which in turn produce other morphogens. A key discovery was the existence of groups of homeobox genes in which are responsible for laying down the basic body plan in animals. The homeobox genes are remarkably conserved between species as diverse as the fruitfly and man, the basic segmented pattern of the worm or fruitfly being the origin of the segmented spine in man. The field of animal evolutionary developmental biology, which studies the genetics of morphology in detail is now a rapidly expanding one [1], with many of the developmental genetic cascades, particularly in the fruitfly drosophila, now catalogued in considerable detail.[2]

    Body plan is the basis for distinguishing animal phyla, and there are 35 different basic animal body plans, each corresponding to distinct animal phyl[u]m.

    And, as I pointed out via key examples several times above — but was routinely ignored in the rush to drum out repetitive blows against a strawman — something like a whale or a bat or a bird shows the particular challenge of moving from a more generic animal to something that has so significant a cluster of integrated features vital to its survival, thriving and reproduction. In the case of the whale, there is an estimate on the table of 50,000 incremental changes to make something like a cow into something like a whale. Even if that were only 500, it is plain that the transitional forms leading up to the full whale would be numerous.

    For the bird, the avian one way flow lung, flight feathers, control algorithms for flight, and relevant musculature and weight saving specialisations etc, point to considerable need for increments if that were to have happened by slow, incremental Darwinian steps. Where also, several of the features are vital, and failure of proposed intermediates along the way would be a major issue. One that is too often passed over in silence or brushed aside rhetorically.

    Going beyond, body plan transitions and transformations should be all over the fossil record, but they are not, they are vanishingly rare or nigh on non existent.

    It is clear that a prioris have been projected unto the fossil record, and it has been seen through glasses coloured by those a prioris.

    The same holds for the other major icons of body plan level macro evolution, which seems in the end to be a gross extrapolation and exaggeration without adequate evidence, of the minor adaptations that are not disputed. The sort that caused red deer to have so many varieties, up to and including the North American Elk.

    And the like.

    Which I have brought up above in the thread, but of course these were passed over in the rush of on tangents to pummel strawmen with drumbeat talking points.

    Kindly, do better next time.

    FN: Claudius, kindly cf above. I have said enough for record.

  241. Kairosfocus @ 240

    Going beyond, body plan transitions and transformations should be all over the fossil record, but they are not, they are vanishingly rare or nigh on non existent.

    I am perfectly willing to acknowledge that body plan transitions are rare.

    I was only challenging your claim that Gould told us transitional forms are absent, period, which you have not raised again, so that’s fine.

    Cheers

  242. Claudius:

    Pardon me.

    I really don’t want to have to belabour a tangential matter, but note for record.

    I have cited the man in exact words all along, then gone on to observe the problem of absent sequences of transitional forms, where classic icons have had to be retired.

    Where the heavily dominant feature of the fossils is appearance, stasis, disappearance.

    And, where were Darwin’s theory on how life forms arise correct, we ought to be Where there ARE transitions, i.e. adaptations we can see with circumpolars (never mind, not linear), and red deer etc. For that matter, human ethnicity.

    The transitions we do readily find and observe — as opposed to infer — do not show body plan origins ultimately tracing to unicellular ancestors but variation well within body plans.

    And that starts with the dozens of phyla and subphyla in the Cambrian fossils.

    KF

  243. kairosfocus @ 242

    I don’t believe it’s a tangential matter at all.

    The transitions we do readily find and observe — as opposed to infer — do not show body plan origins ultimately tracing to unicellular ancestors but variation well within body plans.

    Body plan transitions – say, between phyla – are rare. But they are not absent.

    As I pointed out previously to PeterJ, we now have several examples of forms that are intermediate between the Precambrian worms and phyla like brachiopods, molluscs and arthropods.

    Cheers

  244. You can’t even get a transition from prokaryote to eukaryote, meaning universal common descent is a non-starter. And all transitional forms = “it looks like a transitional to me”.

  245. Claudius

    At this point, you are aiding in the side track.

    KF

  246. Joe says,

    “You can’t even get a transition from prokaryote to eukaryote, meaning universal common descent is a non-starter. And all transitional forms = “it looks like a transitional to me”.”

    Which made laugh. But it is true.

    Thank you Cladvis for the links and the much needed encouragement to search the internet myself ha ha, but after having read up on the subject my suspicions were quickly verified when within a few paragraphs it becomes very clear that it is reliant, not on solid evidence, but on speculation, and dare I say it, biased interpretation. Of course I could be wrong.

    When I have a little more time, perhaps tomorrow, we could discuss this at a little more depth as it was really very obvious to me.

    In fact, in light of what I have just looked at I will say it again ‘Where are the transitional fossils?’.

  247. PeterJ @ 246

    And all transitional forms = “it looks like a transitional to me”.”

    Which made laugh. But it is true.

    This is a false characterisation: transitionals are identified on the basis of detailed objective measurements and established statistical methods that show that a form shares traits with two or more other groups.

    Thank you Cladvis for the links and the much needed encouragement to search the internet myself ha ha, but after having read up on the subject my suspicions were quickly verified when within a few paragraphs it becomes very clear that it is reliant, not on solid evidence, but on speculation, and dare I say it, biased interpretation. Of course I could be wrong.

    And as I pointed out to you earlier (@ 239) what you are calling “speculation” and “biased interpretation” is in fact the scientific method, which has proved useful and accurate in virtually every area of modern civilisation. I understand that you personally don’t like the conclusions of evolution science, but that is just a self-evident example of your bias as you have not pointed out any basis for your claim of bias in the science of evolution theory itself.

    You are of course not obliged to accept evolution science. However, that does not give you the right to misrepresent honest, truth-seeking science as “biased” without bringing forward any grounds for such.

    In fact, in light of what I have just looked at I will say it again ‘Where are the transitional fossils?’.

    By the scientific definition I have repeated a few times in this thread – a form sharing traits with two or more other groups – all the examples I gave above are transitional fossils. If you do not agree, you should say why; this, I suspect, will be a tricky thing for you to do, as the existence of particular traits in the fossils ihas been physically observed and measured.

    Cheers

  248. This is a false characterisation: transitionals are identified on the basis of detailed objective measurements and established statistical methods that show that a form shares traits with two or more other groups.

    Both a common design and convergence can explain that.

    IOW a transitional form = “It looks like a transitional to me” becauuse there is no way anyoine can ever verify the claim as no one knows what makes an organism what it is.

  249. Joe @ 248

    CLAVDIVS: This is a false characterisation: transitionals are identified on the basis of detailed objective measurements and established statistical methods that show that a form shares traits with two or more other groups.

    JOE: Both a common design and convergence can explain that.

    IOW a transitional form = “It looks like a transitional to me” becauuse there is no way anyoine can ever verify the claim as no one knows what makes an organism what it is.

    Joe, you appear to agree transitional forms do indeed exist, and they are explained by common design and/or convergence. That’s fine.

    What I am challenging is PeterJ’s claim that transitional forms — i.e. forms that share traits with two or more other groups — do not exist at all.

    Cheers

  250. Cladvis

    ‘What I am challenging is PeterJ’s claim that transitional forms — i.e. forms that share traits with two or more other groups — do not exist at all.’

    Now, hold on there. I never once said that life forms do not share ‘traits’. We of course know that many do. What I am disputing is the evidence in the fossil record for evolution from a common ancestor.

    For instance I don’t doubt for one minute that some of the Ceratopsian dinosaurs are variations of the same creature, but what I do dispute is that they share a common ancestor with say Tyranosuarus, or pteradactyl, a crocodile etc.

    Your argument with the pre-Cambrian fossils also faces many problems which I would like to discuss further, if you have the time.

    I think one of my biggest problems with the interpretation of the fossil record is the presumption that’evolution’ took place. Also I am not satisfied with the dating of the so called ‘layers’ that make up the various stages of evolution of life on earth. Both of those things in my view are extremely questionable.

    As I said I appreciate your input here as I am sure you have argued these points a hundred times, but nevertheless there are still serious stumbling blocks attached before I could even begin to give evolution any credence.

  251. PeterJ @ 250

    Now, hold on there. I never once said that life forms do not share ‘traits’. We of course know that many do. What I am disputing is the evidence in the fossil record for evolution from a common ancestor.

    Sorry, PeterJ, I did not intend to misrepresent you.

    However, I have already explained that the scientific definition of a transitional is a form that shares traits with other groups. So if you agree that lifeforms share traits, then logically you are agreeing that transitional forms exist according to the scientific definition.

    So it seems to me you are not really arguing there are no transitional forms. Rather, you are arguing that the pattern of shared traits amongst lifeforms is not convincing evidence that they share ancestry.

    This is precisely why I commented (@ 239):

    I think what you’re really talking about here is epistemology – what does it mean for something to be reliably established by physical evidence, and does evolution theory meet that standard?

    And, as I pointed out in that post, common ancestry meets the same high standard of scientific support as other sciences that we use everyday in industry, medicine, law etc.

    So what I would like know is why do you personally apply a much higher standard of evidence to evolution science compared to other sciences?

    Cheers

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