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Is Evolution Repeatable?

One of our commenters here, trrll, made the oft-cited claim that evolution is unrepeatable. I asked what evidence there is of this and he made some unsubstantiated claims. Because of the frequency of such claims here I asked that he back them up before he comments here again. As of now the result of my request is the sound of crickets chirping. To be fair, perhaps trrll didn’t see my last response. If not he’s sure to see this.

I posted a paper on the sidebar back in January written by Jean Staune titled Non Darwinian Evolution. Professor Dembski had originally linked to it as an article but I thought it important enough to make a permanent link to it on the sidebar. It’s a survey of evolutionary scientists in Europe who reject both creationism and the Darwinian mechanism of chance & necessity. Among those non-creationist dissenters from Darwinism are several who say that evolution is repeatable i.e. that if it happened again here or elsewhere it would follow the same course. An inescapable conclusion of Darwinian evolution is that evolution would NOT repeat itself due to being driven by random mutation and there being so many possible paths that a random walk could take.
A small excerpt:

Repeatabilty of Evolution

One of the fundamental predictions which rises from Darwinian theory is the impossibility that evolution can reach the same goal twice. Authors as different as Richard Dawkins or Stephen Jay Gould agree on this point: the role of contingency is central in the evolutionary process (the ‘bullet’ is always shot randomly) and there are so many possible targets (”the range of possibilities is almost infinite”), that it is unthinkable that the process of evolution, if it really rests on the Darwinians mechanisms, can produce the same result twice. In theory, if one received an image coming from another planet, the simple presence of a cat or a dog would be enough to disprove Darwinism. However for the three authors whom we gather in this school, evolution must more or less follow identical paths in different places.

I encourage everyone to read the paper. One might also be well served to compare and contrast these non-Darwinian schools of thought with Doctor Davison’s Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis, also on the sidebar. I think you’ll find that Davison’s conclusions are largely compatible with some of the European thinking (although I might wrong on that and I’d like Doctor Davison to chime in on that score if he would take the time to review Staune’s paper).

I’ll close this with another small excerpt from Staune:

What about “ Intelligent Design ”?

If Intelligent Design theorists recognize that all living beings have a common ancestor, Intelligent Design is nothing more than a particular school of thought of non-Darwinian evolutionist biology of the type: “ non random macro mutation ” similar to Schutzenberger, Denton and Chauvin’s ideas. But more extreme than them. Non-Darwinians of this sort say that we need to include something able to coordinate or channel the macro mutations (like meteorologists need a more global concept on Pluto which obliges them revisit all their world views but do not include the direct intervention of a designer) to really understand how evolution works. These scientists will not claim that this is evidence of a Creator even if it is fully compatible with such a concept.

If Intelligent Design rejects the idea of common ancestry, or even if, Intelligent Design is “ agnostic ” concerning this idea, it would be a catastrophe for any sort of non-Darwinian way of thinking. Recent history fully demonstrates that if you deny the existence of common ancestry, the concluding result of your action will be the reenforcement of Darwinism. The existence of common ancestry is a thing of the past and not of the present. Evolution cannot be established as much as for example, the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun but evolution is as well established as possible for a phenomenon that belongs to the past. To deny it is to re-enforce Darwinism and to discredit the non-Darwinian school of thought.

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179 Responses to Is Evolution Repeatable?

  1. Staune writes:

    …it is unthinkable that the process of evolution, if it really rests on the Darwinians mechanisms, can produce the same result twice.

    Staune is correct if, by “the same result”, he means identical genomes, identical proteins, identical developmental pathways, etc. However, Darwinism does not preclude the re-evolution of similar organisms for similar ecological niches.

    We can’t rerun the history of life, of course, but nature did run an interesting experiment for us: the parallel evolution of marsupial and placental mammals. The striking morphological resemblance between marsupials and placentals occupying similar ecological niches is evidence that there is some repeatability to evolution, at least at the functional level.

  2. Or the more rational answer- that both are the result of design and thus show the similar designs.

    How a random process without goal or purpose could come up with the same “solution” all over the place is nonsense to me. If we cannot predict an outcome, and there are literally hundreds of trillions of different outcomes- why do we constantly see the same outcome? Let’s face it- if RM+NS is this powerful to “solve” problems this well, we need to find a way to use it to figure out the lottery numbers!

    I say “solution” in quotes, because, of course, NDE claims no purpose at all outside of ‘creature A gets an accidental mutation and happens to live longer than creature B without the mutation…after long periods of time, A passes the mutation on and it makes its way into the entire species.’ Trillions of accidents that somehow result in the same result over and over and over again? Sounds like a fairytale more than anything else. So, there’s no “selection” ar all, there’s no solution either. There aren’t even any “problems” to solve. The lack of all of these things make the fairytale even more absurd.

  3. The European view, if I understand it correctly, is the “by law” view. It presents an interesting perspective. If all that ever was designed was a series of very precisely tuned parameters which balanced the big bang, parameters that include such interesting phenomenon as the precise relationship between the atoms on the periodic table, if that precise set of parameters inevitably leads to, well, us, then we are designed.

    If we are the product of a designer that completed the design work 16 billion years ago, or if we are the product of a designer that acted with agency all the way through the process is merely an academic question. We still remain to be designed.

    Either contingency — repetition would not happen — or design. The parallels between the placentals and the marsupials produces a strong case, as I see it, in opposition to contingency.

    I have been toying with another metaphore for randomness. Outside my window they are pouring the foundation for a new building. As they pour the cement, they stick a vibrator into it. The vibrator induces, well, randomness into the mix. Yet the designers of the building intended that component of randomness not because they wanted a random building, but because they knew that the cause of that randomness would be cement without any air pockets. If human designers can harness randomness in this way, I see no difficulty in viewing a the designer of the universe implementing such a technology.

    Bruce’s algorithm: if not contingency then designer.

  4. 4

    DaveScot Said:

    “An inescapable conclusion of Darwinian evolution is that evolution would NOT repeat itself due to being driven by random mutation and there being so many possible paths that a random walk could take.”

    Conway Morris, who developed most of the fossil evidence pertaining to the Burgess Shale upon which Gould drew in his book “Wonderful Life,” recently (in 2004) penned “Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe.” Morris embraces natural selection, and in the opening pages of his book explicitly excluded intelligent design from consideration. Yet he also argued that evolution is far from a random walk, in that the possible working solutions to survival within various ecological niches by means of specific strategies may be quite constrained. Hence natural selection again and again finds astonishingly convergent solutions to these problems. He concludes his book by arguing that something like human beings may well have been inevitable.

    I feel there are some problems with his argument. Nevertheless the depth of his scholarship and research regarding convergence in evolution is astonishing – and his central thesis certainly stands as a counter example to the statement above. Additionally, the differences he documents between his conclusions and those of Gould exemplify the genuine controversies that have arises within scientific evolutionary biology – as they do within any genuine science.

    Highly recommended.

  5. Dave,

    Thanks for bringing this paper up again. The article paints a good picture of where bio ID needs to go. I look forward to JAD’s take on it.

    Karl,

    I don’t think convergent evolution can be dismissed as easily as you make out. For a start it is not always due to similar ecological niches – take the mammalian camera eye vs an octopus eye for example. Second, it is pervasive on many levels suggesting some sort of underlying regularity.

    So while I would agree with you that evolution is in some way repeatable, the Darwinian version is not a good explanation.

  6. bFast,

    Great point. Certainly the laws of nature appear to be fine tuned to allow even the possibility of life to exist. But this takes it much further, the laws of nature must be so tuned as to have started and created life, taking it down an extremely narrow pathway. One misstep, and boom, no life. Unless multiple pathways exist. Yet, the more we learn, the more extremely impprobable the whole thing appears, so only by perfect manipulation can it have happened.

    Perfect manipulation, this is the very definition of design (or execution of the design). And yet, it seems to remove one problem — the need to answer the ID critics question — “ok, if you are so smart, when and where and how did the designing agency act?” Oh yes, the question is now solved, the designing agent acted through the perfect tuning of the laws of nature, and any “initial” state that was needed. The dice was rolled in such a perfect manner that the outcome was predetermined in what appears to be a completely random fashion. Ah, how sweet it is!!

  7. Ekstasis, thanks for the feedback. I wonder, however, about your statement, “it seems to remove one problem — the need to answer the ID critics question — “ok, if you are so smart, when and where and how did the designing agency act?””

    This remains to be the scientific question of ID. If we can conclude that contingency does not explain life as we know it, we still end up with the curiosity — just law or agency also. Certainly law is a prime factor in the design of the universe. But did the designer also act with agency? If “law” then we should be able to discover the precise conditions that permit abiogenesis. We certainly have not done so. If law, then we should be able to discover the laws that negotiate the results that we see. We have not discovered laws that account for this. I do not believe that our short list of laws — random mutation + natural selection — in any way accounts for a non-contingent result. The laws of nature have proven to be findable. It would reasonably seem that the designer intended us to discover these laws. The designer certainly did not go out of his/her/its/their way to hide the laws.

    But the designer may have acted with agency also. If the designer acted with agency, that too should be discoverable.

    As you can see, my view of ID is not a science stopping view as the neo-darwinists have claimed, but a science starting view. ID brings out so many questions, questions that are reasonably answerable via the scientific process of discovery.

    Contingency didn’t happen, therefore we ask “why?”

  8. Ops, posting before thinking. Contingency didn’t happen, therefore we ask “how?”

  9. Yet, the more we learn, the more extremely improbable the whole thing appears, so only by perfect manipulation can it have happened.

    There’s a confusion at work here, I fear. The confusion is between the probablility of something’s happening exactly as it did and the probability of it’s happening at all. And this depends on how one characterizes the event in question. There was a very small probability that someone with the exact genetic make-up as myself would come into existence, whereas the probability was much greater of someone coming into existence who would have half of my mother’s genetic material and half of my father’s genetic material.

    Likewise, consider the probability of “Rome’s being sacked by the Visigoths in 410 AD”. Is that greater or lesser than the probability of “Rome’s being sacked by the Visigoths in 420 AD or 400 AD”? I have no clue how to answer that question, though I feel some confidence in saying that the probability of “Rome’s being sacked by some tribe sometime in the fifth century” is larger than the probability of “”Rome’s being sacked by the Visigoths in 410.” Does it follow that the event of lower probability must have been guided by some Intelligence, other than the particular actions of particular intelligent humans?

    For all we know, the probability of the formation of life on a planet with a mass 0.5 to 10 times that of the Earth, and a radius 0.8 to 2.2 times that of the Earth, with a large amount of liquid water, orbiting a G-class star fairly early in its life-cycle, could be extremely high. And there’s the key: for all we know. It could be extremely high, or it could be extremely low. We have, at present, no way of knowing one way or the other.

    What we can know is the probability of the history of life as having unfolded exactly as it did, and we can gauge that that probability is absurdly, ridiculously low. (Particularly if we specify the case to the actual state of affairs at this very minute — what is the probability that a descendent of that first cell — namely, me — would oversleep and not have time for a proper breakfast, and therefore have to go home for an early lunch, accidentally let my cat out of the apartment, pick him up to carry him back in, forget that I’m wearing a black shirt, and have to go through two more lectures covered in cat fur? What’s the probability of that happening? Fuggedaboutit!)

    But what we cannot do is infer, from the absurdly low probability of everything having happened exactly as it did, that the probability of something like this having happened in some other way. That’s true when it come to the sacking of Rome, and it’s true when it comes to the history of life, whether on Earth or some other planet.

  10. 10

    I grow tired of offering my “take” on certain evolutionary matters as it is typically ignored or worse, often much worse. Instead I will present Otto Schindewolf’s “take” with the understanding that I am in complete agreememt with it.

    “Evolution, a unique, historical course of events that TOOK PLACE IN THE PAST, is not repeatable experimentally and cannot be investigated in that way……The ONLY factors that are known and accessible to experimentation are some that, as far as can be anticipated, can lead to the differentiation of races.”
    Basic Questions in Paleontology, page 311, my emphasis.

    Incidentally, his statement remains in complete accord with the implications of the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis.

    I do think it may prove possible one day to reconstruct our ancestors step by step when the infrastructure of our chromosomes becomes subject to complete experimental manipulation. However I do not believe there will ever be produced a new and superior member of the genus Homo. We are the end of the evolutionary scenario and will be lucky to last much longer if you ask me so please don’t ask.

    A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  11. Schindewolf published his “Basic Questions in Paleontology” in 1950. There have been a few scientific developments since then.

    Carlos wrote:

    Likewise, consider the probability of “Rome’s being sacked by the Visigoths in 410 AD”. Is that greater or lesser than the probability of “Rome’s being sacked by the Visigoths in 420 AD or 400 AD”? I have no clue how to answer that question, though I feel some confidence in saying that the probability of “Rome’s being sacked by some tribe sometime in the fifth century” is larger than the probability of “”Rome’s being sacked by the Visigoths in 410.” Does it follow that the event of lower probability must have been guided by some Intelligence, other than the particular actions of particular intelligent humans?

    Please excuse a naive question (I’m not a mathematician, although I did play one once in a Murder-Mystery evening), but how can probability have any relevance to anything other than a future event? All past events that have occurred have, well, occurred, thus having a probability of one.

  12. Carlos,

    In regards to your statement “The confusion is between the probablility of something’s happening exactly as it did and the probability of it’s happening at all.”

    True, the probability of any specific pathway is infinitesmally small. So, given enough possible pathways, the probability grows to the point of feasibility. But, given the growing body of knowledge pointing to incredibly specific requirements for life to have begun and differentiated as we observe has happened, we can probably conclude that, even if there are multiple possible pathways to any sort of complex life existing, their sum of probabilities very likely never reaches the point of feasibility.

  13. But we are here, Ekstasis, with a probability of one, no? The events that led to us being here must have happened, no matter how improbable they seem now. We just don’t know what all those events were.

  14. Alan Fox,

    In regards to “Please excuse a naive question (I’m not a mathematician, although I did play one once in a Murder-Mystery evening), but how can probability have any relevance to anything other than a future event? All past events that have occurred have, well, occurred, thus having a probability of one.”

    It seems to me that one of the foundations of forensic science is to go back and evaluate the probability or likelihood of whether a past event is considered either random or “normal” as defined by what is expected, or has some agent caused or manipulated the event. So, say a un-manipulated series of events should display a bell curved statistical result, but it does not, than the evaluators know to look for another factor.

  15. given the growing body of knowledge pointing to incredibly specific requirements for life to have begun and differentiated as we observe has happened, we can probably conclude that, even if there are multiple possible pathways to any sort of complex life existing, their sum of probabilities very likely never reaches the point of feasibility.

    Hold on a minute here. You yourself say, “as we observe has happened.” Now, could things have happened in a different but similar way? Could life have evolved a million, or a billion, years later? What if animals had never made it past the Edicaran fauna? Or if bilateral metazoans had evolved, but just never made it to land? etc. etc. The probability of life’s history having unfolded precisely as it did could be very low, but that tells us nothing about the probability of something else very similar, or very different.

    If I ask you to pick out the seven of hearts from a deck, the probability of your doing so is 1/52, or just under 2%. If I ask you to pick out a seven and/or a hearts, the probability is 4/52 + 13/52, or 17/52 — almost 33%. (My math fu is very weak, so I’m probably getting this wrong.) And if I ask you to pick out any card at all, the probability of your doing so is 100%.

    In this case, we know how to calculate the relevant probabilities. But in the case of the history of life, we simply don’t know how to calculate the various possibilities, the various directions that things may have gone in one direction or another. But intelligent design theory assumes that we can calculate these probabilities, and do so with enough precision that we can be reasonably confident that an Intelligence must have been involved.

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it. What am I missing?

  16. Alan,

    As one philisopher said:: Say you were scheduled to meet your death by firing squad of 10 soldiers, and they all fired their rifles in your direction, and you were not killed or even hit by a bullet. Sure, you might say, “golly gee, I guess if I was dead I would not be here to ask any questions, so the probability of not being hit must have been one, ha ha!” But more likely you certainly would begin looking for explanations of why you were still alive!!

  17. Carlos,
    If it is, as you believe, that we just don’t know whether the probability of an event is very high or very low can it be considered more rational or more scientific to choose to operate under one assumption rather than the other?

  18. Alan,
    You’d have to presume your conclusion for your argument to mean anything.

  19. 19

    I have decided Alan Fox doesn’t exist which is why I will not respond to anything he says here or elsewhere. His sole purpose has always been to discredit me. I will let others deal with him. But will they?

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  20. #9

    Carlos: “For all we know, the probability of the formation of life on a planet with a mass 0.5 to 10 times that of the Earth, and a radius 0.8 to 2.2 times that of the Earth, with a large amount of liquid water, orbiting a G-class star fairly early in its life-cycle, could be extremely high. And there’s the key: for all we know. It could be extremely high, or it could be extremely low. We have, at present, no way of knowing one way or the other.”

    I don’t think so because for all we know (SETI and Fermi’s paradox docent) we are the only intelligent civilization in the whole observable universe so the only reasonable hypotesis that ais consistent with all that we know is that life prabability is exceedingly small and that life did originate one and only one time in the universe.
    This fact does not support the plausibility that this did happen by pure chance and instead is a powerful argument for reasonably infer design as the best explanation.

    “But what we cannot do is infer, from the absurdly low probability of everything having happened exactly as it did, that the probability of something like this having happened in some other way. That’s true when it come to the sacking of Rome, and it’s true when it comes to the history of life, whether on Earth or some other planet.”

    But it is not true in our case for, to the best of our knowledge, ONLY one civilization does observe the universe. This FAACT does strongly support the basic intuition that abiogenesis and life evolution are quite impossible by RM+NS.
    In this sense your last observation is completely unsupported.
    Complex life appears a very small subset s of a huge seaqrch space S, so that the problem isn’t that some specific life has probability

  21. Sorry, this is to complete last phrase:

    Complex life appears a very small subset s of a huge seaqrch space S, so that the problem isn’t that some specific life has probability much less than UPB to occur but that ANY life has probability much less than UPB to occur at all.

  22. This thread has lost its center. What happened happened, there is no question of that. The question being asked is the question of contingency — if the tape were rewound, and replayed, not exactly the same, but similar, would the results be “very similar” or “very different”?

    Lets put some meat on the above question. We have an earth. It has a specific place in the cosmos, a sun of a specific size, etc. It is “randomly” bombarded by meteors and such. If we were to find a planet in another system of similar size and chemistry, floating around a star of similar size and chemistry, located similarly in a similar galaxy. If this planet were also randomly being bombarded by meteors. If we were to find that this planet had life on it, and if the life on it had been around about as long as life on earth has been, what would that life be like? Would it be much like us, or would it be wildly different?

    If “contingency” rules, we should find that this other world has a very different type of life. It may not have DNA. It may not use the protein molecule. It may not stand about two meters tall, and have tamed fire.

    However, if “law” rules, we should find that this other world has many more similarities than differences. We should find the DNA molecule or something very much like it. If we find that the mapping is somewhat different between DNA and protein, this would not be surprizing to a “law” perspective, however, we should find a triplet mapping to an amino acid. If we find that this other world has developed pentadactyl quadrupeds, then law would absolutely replace contingency as the best description of the situation.

    Now the simple question, does evidence such as the evidence from convergence already support the conclusion that something very much like us is the natural result of “law”? Ie, do we have multiple examples of evolution through multiple evolutionary pathways. Or must we conclude that, because we have only one example of evolution, we have no reason to believe that anything other than contingency is at play?

    Gentlement in the contingency camp, it is time for you to quit providing the “sundayschool answers” as provided by your prophets, and engage in a thoughtful discussion of the challenge that convergence delivers to the view of contingency.

  23. 23

    bfast

    Sorry but I dont care to have my comments described as “Sunday School answers.” I am sure you will understand.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  24. Carlos: “If I ask you to pick out a seven and/or a hearts, the probability is 4/52 + 13/52, or 17/52 — almost 33%.”

    Forgive my OCD, but one card is both a seven and a heart, and you have counted it twice. You have to subtract 1 / 52. But your argument is sound.

  25. Dr. Davison, I hardly consider you to be in the “contingency camp”. I am referring rather to comments such as, “But we are here, Ekstasis, with a probability of one, no?”

  26. “But we are here, Ekstasis, with a probability of one, no?” was not a Sunday school answer, that was me asking a question. Whilst you can investigate a past event with an unknown cause and postulate the liklihood of various causes based on experience or other inferences, particular events must have happened due to specific causes, so assigning probabilities can’t have any meaning in the context of past events, as far as I can see.

  27. bFast wrote

    What happened happened, there is no question of that.

    So, you agree with “All past events that have occurred have, well, occurred, thus having a probability of one.”

    The question being asked is the question of contingency — if the tape were rewound, and replayed, not exactly the same, but similar, would the results be “very similar” or “very different”?

    Chaos theory suggests that even virtually identical conditions can produce wildly different results. The weather and the difficulty of forecasting accurately being a prime example.

  28. Alan

    You surprise me in saying that all past events in evolution have a probability of one, meaning it could have happened no other way. This is in stark contrast to Darwinian evolutionary theory.

    Note to trrll:

    I said I wasn’t interested in computer simulations unless the results they obtain can be confirmed in a laboratory. I asked you for links to the experimental results you claim prove evolution is unrepeatable not more empty claims. Here is an example of a link that disputes your claim (just in case you don’t know what a link is or how to defend a claim):

    http://www.nsf.gov/news/fronti.....specie.jsp

    Recreating a Species: Evolution Turns Predictable

    November 1996

    If a daisy were given another chance at evolution, would it still look like a daisy? Would a rose still smell like a rose?

    Scientists have long wondered how much of a role chance plays in evolution, and the answer, at least for one species of sunflower, is not much. If the 100,000-year-old species developed all over again, it would still be the same.

    This was a surprising finding since much of evolutionary theory suggests that chance is a significant player in speciation.

    The research, done by NSF-funded Loren Rieseberg, an evolutionary biologist at Indiana University in Bloomington, and his colleagues, was published in the journal, Science. Rieseberg focused on the anomalous sunflower or Helianthus anomalus because it is a naturally occurring hybrid. It developed from the interbreeding of two other sunflowers: the common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and the petioled sunflower (Helianthus petiolaris).

    The researchers assumed they could interbreed the two parent species and get another flower, but they did not know if they could still get the anomalous sunflower, or if a totally new species would develop after a few generations.

    In all three trials, the anomalous sunflower reappeared within four generations. Not only did the flowers look like their counterparts found in the Great Basin desert, DNA testing showed that they were almost identical.

    “I was pretty astonished,” Rieseberg told The New York Times. “I expected to see some similarities, some concordance, but I didn’t expect to see anything like this. I think we’ll find that much more about evolution is repeatable and predictable.”

    Defend, concede, or buzz off. Pick one.

  29. DaveScot wrote

    Alan

    You surprise me in saying that all past events in evolution have a probability of one, meaning it could have happened no other way. This is in stark contrast to Darwinian evolutionary theory.

    I was asking how can any past event have a probability of its occurrence of other than one. As bFast said, what happened happened, there is no question of that. “Sensitivity to initial conditions” suggests that a replay of events may produce a very different outcome, and it is practically impossible to replay an event such as a coin toss and keep getting heads.

    What is the conflict with evolutionary theory?

  30. Allan Fox: “Chaos theory suggests that even virtually identical conditions can produce wildly different results.”

    Chaos theory certainly does suggest the above. Chaos theory most certainly suggests contingency. However, nature does not seem to suggest contingency. It would therefore appear that forces other than chaos theory are at work. This, my dear man, is the point.

    DaveScot, great quote! Alan Fox, why is DaveScot’s quote apparently valid? Chaos theory very well should suggest that replaying the evolution of the sunflower should produce extremely different results. One must conclude that there are forces at work that do not obey chaos theory.

  31. I know I posted the following before but here it is again:

    Unified physics theory explains animals’ running, flying and swimming:

    The findings may have implications for understanding animal evolution, Marden said. One view of evolution holds that it is not a purely deterministic process; that history is full of chance and historical contingency. It is the idea purported by Steven Jay Gould and others that if you were to “rewind the tape” and run it again, evolution would proceed down a different path, Marden said.

    “Our finding that animal locomotion adheres to constructal theory tells us that — even though you couldn’t predict exactly what animals would look like if you started evolution over on earth, or it happened on another planet — with a given gravity and density of their tissues, the same basic patterns of their design would evolve again,” Marden said.

    The above does indeed explain “convergence”.

    Now of course the cop-out is to claim that evolution won’t repeat- that gets one out of any type of experimental pressure.

  32. Dave

    As there was no link to Dr. Rieseberg’s original (1996 presumably) paper, I looked up his website and took the liberty of emailing him to see if he was interested in commenting on the issue. He has published several more recent papers on sunflowers.

  33. Allan Fox: “Chaos theory suggests that even virtually identical conditions can produce wildly different results.”

    The keyword being “virtually.” Chaos theory does *not* suggest different outcomes for *identical* initial conditions.

  34. The keyword being “virtually.” Chaos theory does *not* suggest different outcomes for *identical* initial conditions.

    No, but doesn’t it suggest that replaying an event with “identical” initial conditions is, in practice, impossible to achieve?

  35. “Scientists have long wondered how much of a role chance plays in evolution”

    The very question makes me hee haw around the room, whilst I get up for another cold one.

    “Chance” is nothing more than a gap in our knowledge. No more. No less. If you substitute “chance” with “gap in our knowledge” in the above sentense, the ridiculousness should become apparent.

    “Scientists have long wondered how much of a role something that is a gap in our knowledge plays in evolution”.

    It’s the nature of the gap where all the fuss lies.

    Hee haw.

  36. 36

    Have fun folks. I have nothing more to offer at the present time.

    “When little is known for certain, every man becomes an expert”
    John A. Davison

    “Mothing is so firmly believed as what we least know.”
    Montaigne

    “Men are most apt to believe what they least undertand.
    ibid

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution is undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  37. The universe has unfolded the only way it could, unless you believe in some heretofore undiscovered magical property behind the “chance” events. It was all set at the initial conditions of spacetime. And something did it. I wonder what it was.

    I’m becoming more of a theist all the time.

    So be it.

  38. Carlos: ” “as we observe has happened.” Now, could things have happened in a different but similar way? Could life have evolved a million, or a billion, years later? What if animals had never made it past the Edicaran fauna? Or if bilateral metazoans had evolved, but just never made it to land? etc. etc. The probability of life’s history having unfolded precisely as it did could be very low, but that tells us nothing about the probability of something else very similar, or very different.”

    “What if” questions are nonsense unless you can provide a mechanism by which the otherwise deterministic chain of events could be altered. So then, if the universe “could have” evolved along different lines, what “could have” made it done so instead the way it actually has done?

  39. Alan Fox:

    I was asking how can any past event have a probability of its occurrence of other than one.

    Alan, there is the case of a woman who has won her state lottery for the second time in only a ten-year period or so. The laws of probability say that could happen.

    But what if someone won their state lottery–and let’s assume a large state–three times in one year. Would you say that the probability of this person winning the lottery is 1, that is, 1 x 1 x 1= 1? I assure you, the state lottery officials would not interpret it that way!

  40. From Dr. Rieseberg’s 2003 paper:

    Evolutionary biologists have struggled to link results from experimental microevolutionary studies of contemporary populations directly to evolutionary changes occurring in the distant past (34). Our results bridge this gap by showing that large morphological and ecological differences in three ancient hybrid sunflower species can be recreated through contemporary hybridization, and that these ancient hybrid species have the predicted combination of parental chromosomal blocks for producing their phenotypes. Hence, hybridization did indeed facilitate major ecological transitions in wild sunflowers.

    link May require (free) registration.

    I’m not sure how this supports, questions or even addresses whether given identical initial conditions, life would inevitably develop on an identical path.

  41. mike1962: “It was all set at the initial conditions of spacetime. And something did it. I wonder what it was. I’m becoming more of a theist all the time.”

    That would be deist, Mike, not theist.

    It is really quite amazing that you have resolved the issue of quantum indeterminism when most physicists and philosophers of science are not at all sure what to do with it. Very impressive, indeed. After all, Einstein believed that God does not play dice with the universe, but he never managed to make a case for it.

  42. Alan, if you think about your quote from Dr.Rieseberg’s paper, isn’t it astounding that “large morphological” differences are STILL present in the genome? It sounds like Dr. Rieseberg is able to bring about “macroevolution” right before our eyes, so, then, what in the world does RM+NS have to do with it? If you can easily “reverse” the effects, then, reasonably, you would assume that the changes came about “easilty” in the first place. This, on the surface of it–I haven’t seen the article; none of it–seems an argument in favor of John Davison’s hypothesis, or the idea of “front-loading”. I find it very hard to understand it in any other way.

  43. 43

    With respect to message 28 about the three so-called sunflower species, it seems to me that they were all the a same species with a rather variable genotype subject to frequent back mutations. It is very similar to the reversions we observe with feral animals or am I missing something? There is no question that certain loci are more likely to mutate than others so the result does not surprise me nor does it indicate a repeated evolution. I don’t see where it has even been established that the parents were separate species. Were their karyotypes compared? Just because some taxonomist calls some organism a separate species does not make it so.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  44. PaV wrote

    But what if someone won their state lottery–and let’s assume a large state–three times in one year. Would you say that the probability of this person winning the lottery is 1, that is, 1 x 1 x 1= 1? I assure you, the state lottery officials would not interpret it that way!

    I would say the liklihood that this person had connections with someone on the inside was pretty high.:) But that connection either existed with a probability of 1 or didn’t thus having a probability of 0.

  45. PaV

    Re your comment 42, I hope Dr. Rieseberg will respond to my email and comment himself, and as I’m on Central European Time, I’ll have to call it a night.

  46. 46

    Furthermore, if two forms produce a fertile hybrid they are, by Dobzhansky’s physiological definition, the same species anyway. His is the only solid testable criterion for species, something the Darwinians overlook all the time just as they ignore his proof that selection cannot produce a new species.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. davison

  47. Tom English: “That would be deist, Mike, not theist.”

    Incorrect. Deism was a particular movement originating in the 17th century, with certain particular views that I do not necessarily share, such as the outright rejection of revelation and scriptures. Deism is a kind of theism.

    Tom English: “It is really quite amazing that you have resolved the issue of quantum indeterminism when most physicists and philosophers of science are not at all sure what to do with it. Very impressive, indeed. After all, Einstein believed that God does not play dice with the universe, but he never managed to make a case for it.”

    There is absolutely nothing about QM proper that requires any acceptance of indeterminate events. The Copenhagen interpretation assents to this, but the Copenhagen interpretation is not QM proper, and it’s description of state reduction events are not mathematically precise. Go read about Bohm’s interpretation. Moreover, I’m not very impressed with Einstein as a philosopher.

    At any rate, a real interdeterminism is irrational nonsense quite literally. If you actually think the universe actually operates that way, then you believe in something no less magical than a supernatural god.

  48. 48

    Probability never had anything to do with a “prescribed” evolution. God but it sure is fun to kibitz don’t you know.

    Set them up in the other alley. I am bowling a perfect game.

    I love it so!

    A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  49. Alan Fox, “But that connection either existed with a probability of 1 or didn’t thus having a probability of 0.” This probability of 1 stuff is crazy-making.

    When I first encountered the probability of 1 argument, at least 30 years ago, the issue was first life. The “creationists” said that the chance of the simplest known organism assembling by chance was 1 in 10^lots. The evolutionists responded with the “probability of 1″ argument. You are still frequently using the probability of 1 argument in the same way that it was being used 30 years ago to address the question of first life.

    First life happened — probability of 1. The fact that first life happened with a probability of 1 says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about HOW it happened. The assumption that unterpins the “probability of 1″ argument goes something like this: first life happened — probability of 1, therefore first life happened by chance. How this leap of logic happens is somewhat beyond me. Knowing that something happened gives us no insight into its cause. Knowing that this post happened does not prove that this post is the product of a random letter generator.

  50. I just checked my email before switching off and Dr. Rieseberg has replied:

    Hi Alan,

    This is kind of an odd interpretation of my work, since usually we
    consider parallel evolution as the strongest kind of evidence for the
    work of natural selection. Also, the hybrid speciation story is a
    bit different from the examples discussed by Gould and Dawkins. They
    are discussing divergent pathways of evolution where it is unlikely
    that the same mutation will arise and become fixed in different
    lineages. Thus, while parallel phenotypic evolution may be common,
    parallel genotypic evolution is much rarer. In sunflower,
    hybridization starts each lineage with the same mix of genetic
    variation, so it is perhaps not surprising that the outcomes of
    natural selection tend to be more similar.

    We have continued this line of work and have extended it to three
    natural hybrid species. The final paper on this has just been
    accepted in American Naturalist. I have attached a couple of papers
    on sunflowers that might be useful, as well as a more general paper
    on parallel gentoypic evolution.

    Best, loren

    I’ll try and upload the papers that Dr. Rieseberg has attached and post links if anyone is interested. But it will have to wait till tomorrow.

  51. J.C. Sommerer and E. Ott, “A Qualitatively Nondeterministic Physical System”, Nature, 365, 135 (1993).

    The notion of determinism in classical dynamics has eroded since Poincaré’s work led to recognition that dynamical systems can exhibit chaos: small perturbations grow exponentially fast. Hence, physically ubiquitous measurement errors, noise, and computer roundoff strongly limit the time over which, given an initial condition, one can predict the detailed state of a chaotic system. Practically speaking, such systems are nondeterministic. Notwithstanding the quantitative uncertainty caused by perturbations, the system state is confined in phase space (on an “attractor”) so at least its qualitative behavior is predictable. Another challenge to determinism arises when systems have competing attractors. With a boundary (possibly geometrically convoluted ) between sets of initial conditions tending to distinct attractors (“basins of attraction”), perturbations make it difficult to determine the fate of initial conditions near the boundary. Recently, mathematical mappings were found that are still worse: an attractor’s entire basin is riddled with holes on arbitrarily fine scales. Here, perturbations globally render even qualitative outcomes uncertain; experiments lose reproducibility.

  52. mike1962: “Incorrect. Deism was a particular movement originating in the 17th century, with certain particular views that I do not necessarily share, such as the outright rejection of revelation and scriptures. Deism is a kind of theism.”

    There’s more to it than reading the beginning of the Wiki article. I certainly do not know of any other form of theism than deism that predicates a First Cause (Prime Mover) and determinism. Perhaps you can tell me one?

    “If you actually think the universe actually operates that way, then you believe in something no less magical than a supernatural god.”

    Only the deluded believe *in* scientific explanations. And I think the ID movement is telling a lot of people that science, purged of materialism, is something to believe in.

  53. Tom English (51)

    The question of repeatability of evolution is dependent on any
    differences that could appear in a given context despite *identical* (down to the bottom of the pond) initial conditions. When one asks whether or not evolution would occur the same as it (putatively) did already, one should be extremely precise with regards to the parameters and nature of this “again” situation.

    If there really is some mystical random property of nature below the classical level, then the question about evolution recurring is impossible to answer. Chaos theory indicates that tiny differences can lead to drastically different outcomes. If there is no mysterious random property, then the answer would be yes, if the initial conditions were exactly the same.

  54. mike1962: “Incorrect. Deism was a particular movement originating in the 17th century, with certain particular views that I do not necessarily share, such as the outright rejection of revelation and scriptures. Deism is a kind of theism.”

    Tom English: “There’s more to it than reading the beginning of the Wiki article. I certainly do not know of any other form of theism than deism that predicates a First Cause (Prime Mover) and determinism. Perhaps you can tell me one?”

    Does that mean deism is not a theism? Can one be a deist without being a theist?

    mike1962: “If you actually think the universe actually operates that way, then you believe in something no less magical than a supernatural god.”

    Tom English: “Only the deluded believe *in* scientific explanations. And I think the ID movement is telling a lot of people that science, purged of materialism, is something to believe in.”

    Perhaps so, but I think you miss the point. I know I’m a horrible writer, and all, but I should think at least this point would have been obvious.

  55. First life happened — probability of 1. The fact that first life happened with a probability of 1 says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about HOW it happened. The assumption that unterpins the “probability of 1″ argument goes something like this: first life happened — probability of 1, therefore first life happened by chance. How this leap of logic happens is somewhat beyond me. Knowing that something happened gives us no insight into its cause. Knowing that this post happened does not prove that this post is the product of a random letter generator.

    Many statisticians will tell you that it is improper to try to calculate the probability of an event that has already happened, but of course you can get away from that by framing the problem differently, i.e. what is the probability of life forming on a planet like earth?

    The real problem with calculating probabilities after the fact is that it is easy to make errors that inflate the odds against the event by dozens or even hundreds of orders of magnitude. Basically, it is akin to being dealt a hand of cards and asked, “What is the probability of getting a hand like this one?” Well, the odds against getting that exact same hand again are extremely low, but the odds of getting a hand like that one might be quite high. To answer that question, you have to know the rules of the game. So even an evolution theorist will tell you that the odds against life evolving somewhere else exactly the way it did on earth are very large, but that is not the right question. The odds of getting any particular hand of cards are very low, but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to deal a hand of cards. The right question is, “What are the odds of some kind of life (or if you wish, intelligent life) evolving on an earth-like planet.” Unfortunately, that question cannot be answered unless you know every possible form that such life could take, and that is information that nobody has. So when somebody starts talking about the odds of life evolving, you immediately know that either they don’t understand probability, or they are trying to pull a rhetorical fast one.

  56. “This is kind of an odd interpretation of my work, since usually we
    consider parallel evolution as the strongest kind of evidence for the
    work of natural selection.”

    Evolution that results in the very same thing (or nearly the very same thing) is the best evidence for a random process that has no goal or purpose and no plan to guide it? Claiming that a bunch of accidents lead to the same “solution” over and over is considered evidence for NDE? That’s just beyond odd. That, to me, would point to common designs, not common accidents in creatures that happened to live longer than others without the accident.

    I’m with Gould- if NDE is true and we rewind the tape, we won’t see the same things once or twice let alone over and over and over again.

    What accidental process has ANYONE observed that came up with the same result time and time again?

  57. Of course Dr. Reiseberg isn’t going to say convergent or repeatable evolution supports any non-Darwinian theories of evolution. Reiseberg doesn’t want to be Sternberged.

    However, the historical revisionism it takes to purport that repeatable and convergent evolution supports the chance & necessity hypothesis is still nothing short of revolting. This is yet another wonderful example of how the chance & necessity hypothesis can explain ANY observed result. Something that explains everything explains nothing.

  58. Alan

    If you’re going to post Dr. Rieseberg’s response you should also post what you wrote to him. Rieseberg mentions an odd interpretation. It sounds to me like you misrepresented the interpretation. Please post your complete and unaltered email to him here.

  59. JasonTheGreek:

    Evolution that results in the very same thing (or nearly the very same thing) is the best evidence for a random process that has no goal or purpose and no plan to guide it? Claiming that a bunch of accidents lead to the same “solution” over and over is considered evidence for NDE? That’s just beyond odd. That, to me, would point to common designs …

    Well said.

    Tom English, let me bring you back to my post (3) above

    I have been toying with another metaphore for randomness. Outside my window they are pouring the foundation for a new building. As they pour the cement, they stick a vibrator into it. The vibrator induces, well, randomness into the mix. Yet the designers of the building intended that component of randomness not because they wanted a random building, but because they knew that the cause of that randomness would be cement without any air pockets.

    As you can see, randomness with clear boundaries produces predictability, not chaos. There certainly seems to be predictability in nature. Though there does seem to be a component of randomness to nature, it would seem that the boundaries are sufficiently clear to produce that predictability.

    As far as deism v. theism goes — I would certainly view deism as a subset of theism. Deism, however, normally views God as “impersonal”, not particularly concerned about my behavior.

    You said, “I certainly do not know of any other form of theism than deism that predicates a First Cause (Prime Mover) and determinism.”

    Certainly Judaism and Christianity start their scriptures with, “In the beginning God created”. This is clearly a “first cause” position. As to this first cause being followed by determinism, well that gets a bit more complicated in Judeo-Christianity. Certainly the Judeo-Christian God interacts with the highest of His creation, man. However, it is well within the scope of Judeo-Christian theological thought to consider that God is smart enough to have tuned a universe for ‘self-creation’, wherein a free will not involved. The Judeo-Christian view often strongly views God to be “outside of time”. As such, there is lots of room for debate about what the interaction of an “outside of time” being would look like when interacting with a time-bound universe.

    Bottom line, I, a theist, a Christian, have no trouble viewing a “law” based creation as an easy fit to my theology. Yet I still see a God that interacts with us on an individual level, which certainly isn’t deist.

  60. Alan

    I was asking how can any past event have a probability of its occurrence of other than one.

    It can’t. It’s a stupid question. There is no such thing as current probability for past events. Uncertainty collapses upon observation. I’m sure you’ve heard that before but it’s evident you didn’t understand it. The probability less than 1 was before the event was observed. Duh.

  61. If evolution is unrepeatable, chance and necessity can explain that. If evolution is repeatable, chance and necessity can explain that too. Chance and necessity can explain all observations. And these same folks poke fun at a God that can do anything. Too funny. Chance and necessity is the atheist’s God-substitute. Chance and necessity is the dogma of the Darwinian Church. It stopped being science a long time ago.

  62. 62

    There is absolutely nothing in Darwinism that ever had anything to do with the title of Darwin’s opus minmus. All that he was able to establish is the generation of varieties and that is all that has ever been established in the 147 years since he published. One of these decades or maybe centuries Darwinism will earn the fate it has always deserved as nothing but an illusion generated by a mentality that is congenitally unable to accept a purpose in the universe. It explains nothing except the production of intraspecific varieties, none of which are incipient species.

    Natural selection, sexual reproduction and allelic mutations are all anti-evolutionary, the latter only being important in extinction, provided it wasn’t part of the program in the first place. There is litte doubt that all the giant animals of the past were preprogrammed to become extinct. They still are and we are pretty good sized organisms ourselves. Programmed evolutionary extinction has its counterpart with the genetically programmed death of such organisms as the anadromous salmon and the catadromous eel. The death of the individual is to ontogeny what the extinction of the species is to phylogeny. Both were prescribed. The whole scenario, from beginning to end, was if you ask me.

    “Neither in the one nor in the other is there room for chance.”
    Leo Berg, Nomogenesis, page 134.

    It is the geneticists who promote mutation as the cause of evolution. They were so delighted in 1900 when Mendel’s work was discovered that they became convinced they had discovered the cause of the origin of species. Nothing could be further from the truth. The irony of it is that William Bateson, the father of modern genetics realized that as he confided to his son Gregory, obviously named in honor of Gregor Mendel -

    “that it was a mistake to have committed his life to Mendelism, that it was a ‘blind alley’ which would not throw any light on the differentiation of species, nor on evolution in general.”
    Davison, J.A. 1993, The ‘Blind Alley’: its significance for evolutionary theory. Rivista di Biologia 86: 101-111.

    Truer words were never written.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  63. Alan supplied an email from Dr. Rieseberg:

    I just checked my email before switching off and Dr. Rieseberg has replied:

    Hi Alan,

    This is kind of an odd interpretation of my work, since usually we
    consider parallel evolution as the strongest kind of evidence for the
    work of natural selection.

    What interpretation is that?
    This thread is about the ability of evolution to repeat itself. Riesberg’s words, re: his own experiments:
    “I was pretty astonished,” Rieseberg told The New York Times. “I expected to see some similarities, some concordance, but I didn’t expect to see anything like this. I think we’ll find that much more about evolution is repeatable and predictable.”
    Certainly he does not find his own interpretation about the predictability and repeatability of evolution to be odd.

    The comment and quote about his work includes this:
    “Scientists have long wondered how much of a role chance plays in evolution, and the answer, at least for one species of sunflower, is not much.”

    Can it be that Rieseberg found this an odd interpretation, that a predictable and repeatable process is seen by some to be owing little to chance?
    But I doubt it, since his reply references natural selection alone rather than RM/NS.

    Perhaps the Doctor Rieseberg misinterpreted Alan’s email to him?

  64. Sorry, I see Davescot already commented on the doctor’s reply.
    That might teach me to finish reading a thread before inserting my two cents.

  65. Staune asks the question “What about ‘Intelligent Design’?” So I was asking myself what would happen to a design inference if there is either contingence or convergence.

    And the answer is this (at least to me): a design inference as developed by Dr. Dembski NEEDS to be contingent. If we humans here on earth find life in n different places on the universe and all those n life forms resembe someway some kind of life on our planet, we would be forced to think about life as a result of law. It means that in Dr. Dembski’s Explanatory Filter we couldn’t pass the first stage.

    Now, what will happen if we find life in a n+2 planet which differs of life forms in the n+1 first planets (including ours)? Well, that’s a hard question, does it reinstate the possibility of design?

    What I know for sure is that, being honest, we couldn’t do a good case for ID if there is no contingency, not at least scientifically. To be sure, of course there’s still the possibility of and ID case in philosophical or theological grounds (maybe a sound case), but not in science. So here is a way in which the modern ID theory can be falsified… interesting, very interesting.

  66. mike1962: “It was all set at the initial conditions of spacetime. And something did it. I wonder what it was. I’m becoming more of a theist all the time.”

    Tom: “That would be deist, Mike, not theist.”

    And it would also be wordplay, Mike, that went right over your head. I hate retrieving definitions from dictionary.com for people, but here you go:

    the‧ism  [thee-iz-uhm]
    –noun
    1. the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation (distinguished from deism).
    2. belief in the existence of a god or gods (opposed to atheism).

    Philip Johnson always, to my knowledge, uses the word in the first sense. It struck me as funny that your sense of “theism” was not at all that of the Father of Intelligent Design.

    Get it? Hee haw?

  67. Alan, on past probabilities –

    One interpretation of probabilities is that they are statements of our uncertainty, so one can make proababilistic statements about the past. For example, the probability that you ate a croissant for breakfast yesterday could be 0.8. I’ve no idea if you did or not, but I can assigna probability to it (and then use that to make bets!).

    One can also consider a situation in which the process is itself stochastic. For example, you could have croissant only if you flip a coin, and it comes up tails (incidentally, have you looked at the map of the EU on the coins, particuarly Finland and Sweden. I think it suggests that we’re politically impotent up here). So, on any day the probability would be 0.5. Even if I knew that you had had bacon an eggs yesterday, I would still know that the probability that you didn’t have croissant would have been 0.5.

    Bob

  68. Dave, this the text of my email to Dr. Rieseberg:

    Dr Reiseberg

    You may be aware of the Intelligent Design controversy that still flourishes on the internet despite the Kitzmiller ruling last December. Bill Dembski runs a blog site, http://www.uncommondescent.com which promotes Intelligent design and your work on sunflowers has been sited as evidence against evolution.

    See http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ment-62740 for details. I wonder whether you agree with the poster’s interpretation of your work. I note this was dated 1996, and perhaps there are later papers which may be more relevant. If you found time to comment, that would be most welcome and I would be happy to post any comment you wished to make.

    Thank you for your time and in anticipation.

    Best wishes, Alan Fox.

  69. bFast: “Yet I still see a God that interacts with us on an individual level, which certainly isn’t deist.”

    Right, and it certainly isn’t deterministic. I have never heard of a Christian theology in which predestination went so far as determinism. I know it has gone that far for some Jews. I can’t say about Muslims.

    “As they pour the cement, they stick a vibrator into it. The vibrator induces, well, randomness into the mix. Yet the designers of the building intended that component of randomness not because they wanted a random building, but because they knew that the cause of that randomness would be cement without any air pockets.”

    What effect does the vibration have on the entropy of the pool of concrete?

  70. Alan says:

    and your work on sunflowers has been sited as evidence against evolution.

    Interesting.
    I would say the source of the misinterpretation has been tracked down.

    Thanks Alan.

  71. As any pollster knows, it’s all in how you ask your questions.

  72. 72

    I presented my position in message # 62.

    I have absoloutely no idea what the subsequent several messages could possibly mean. Maybe someone could whip up a rational summary for me so I could have something to which I might be able to respond. Sorry about that.

    It is hard to beleve isn’t it?

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  73. Tom English: “Philip Johnson always, to my knowledge, uses the word in the first sense. It struck me as funny that your sense of “theism” was not at all that of the Father of Intelligent Design.”

    I was using theism in the second sense.

    Why it would strike you as funny that I would not use theism in the sense that Philip Johnson always (to your knowledge) does, strikes me funny. But I’ll bite: why does it strike you as funny?

  74. trrll:
    However, there are many things that it could not explain. It could not explain it if the genetic code of humans was substantially different from that of chimpanzees or even chickens.

    How different? What is the cut-off point? How can the differences we see now between humans and chimps be accounted for by unguided, purpose-less processes? Do you realize how many mutations would have to be fixed each generation to account for the genetic differences we do see?

    trrll:
    It could not explain it if the proteins of humans had no homologs among frogs or even roundworms.

    How can one tell if they are true homologs and not just similar? And what, in the theory, prevents proteins from changing such that they do not look similar to proteins in other populations?

    But anyway it appears that everyone ignored the following (comment 31):

    The findings may have implications for understanding animal evolution, Marden said. One view of evolution holds that it is not a purely deterministic process; that history is full of chance and historical contingency. It is the idea purported by Steven Jay Gould and others that if you were to “rewind the tape” and run it again, evolution would proceed down a different path, Marden said.

    “Our finding that animal locomotion adheres to constructal theory tells us that — even though you couldn’t predict exactly what animals would look like if you started evolution over on earth, or it happened on another planet — with a given gravity and density of their tissues, the same basic patterns of their design would evolve again,” Marden said.

  75. mike1962

    Personally I do think the universe is deterministic up to a point. That point is somewhere in the evolution of life. I’m not sure exactly where but by the time evolution gets to us, free will has been introduced into the universe and the tyranny of determinism ends there.

  76. Charlie

    Sorry, I see Davescot already commented on the doctor’s reply.
    That might teach me to finish reading a thread before inserting my two cents.

    I was happy to see that someone else spotted the same problem in the doctor’s reply. Alan Fox has been evicted from this blog several times. If his email to Rieseberg was duplicitous he’s going to get evicted once again.

  77. Alan Fox is no longer with us. His email to Rieseberg said his finding were being used to dispute evolution. I have never disputed evolution (only the role of chance) and didn’t use Riesberg’s article to do anything other than dispute trrll’s assertion that evolution is unrepeatable. Alan knows this and purposely misrepresented what was in dispute.

  78. 78

    That sounds like a good idea good to me. Alan Fox has never contributed anything of value to any forum in which he has appeared, including his own blog. They canned him at “brainstorms” because of his continued attempts to discredit me. It is a matter of record. He is like a dog with a bone where I am concerned and quite frankly it grows tiresome to put it very mildly.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  79. bFast wrote:

    As you can see, randomness with clear boundaries produces predictability, not chaos. There certainly seems to be predictability in nature. Though there does seem to be a component of randomness to nature, it would seem that the boundaries are sufficiently clear to produce that predictability.

    bFast (I always think of scrambled eggs and orange juice when I see your name), and others on this thread, you seem to be thinking that predictability per se is evidence again Darwinian evolution.

    It isn’t. Darwinian evolution has a random component (mutations) and a non-random component (selection). Mutation provides the randomness, and selection nonrandomly sifts through it, discarding some variations and keeping others. The exact path taken by evolution should not be repeatable, but this does not mean the randomness of the selected mutations is totally unconstrained. Also, selection is more forgiving of variations in genotype than of phenotype, so if Darwinian evolution is occurring, there should be more of the former than the latter. This is exactly what we see when looking at marsupial and placental mammals. They are phenetically similar, because they are constrained by their ecological niches, but genetically dissimilar, because evolution followed a different path through mutation space to arrive at a similar phenotype, constrained by nonrandom selection pressures.

    With design, there is no such constraint. We would not expect to see more genotypic variation across the board, because in each case the designer would be free to choose the opposite.

    Like many aspects of the evolution/ID debate, this one resolves to the following: Either Darwinian evolution is occurring, or the designer chose to make things appear as if Darwinian evolution were occurring.

    Incidentally, Dave, another thing that would not be explainable by Darwinian evolution would be if each marsupial mammal turned out to be more closely related to its placental counterpart than to the rest of the marsupials, based on most of the genome, yet also shared a separate portion of its genome with all of the other marsupials, but not with placentals.

    The first fact would imply that marsupials evolved independently hundreds of times, for no apparent reason. The second fact would imply that they evolved only once, since the odds of separately evolving an identical portion of the genome are vanishingly small. These two facts could not be reconciled under a Darwinian paradigm, but would be easily explained by design.

    So again, we have a situation where either Darwinian evolution is in operation, or where the designer chose to make things look as if Darwinian evolution were operating.

    It is design that explains everything, and therefore nothing, because any conceivable world is compatible with design. Far fewer worlds are compatible with Darwinian evolution.

  80. I sent the following email off to Doctor Rieseberg:

    Dear Doctor Rieseberg,

    I cited an NSF Frontiers article on your sunflower work to dispute a contention that evolution is unrepeatable. It has come to my attention that someone (Alan Fox) wrote you saying it was used to dispute evolution. That is wrong. As far as I’m concerned common ancestry and descent with modification are settled science. It is only the role chance has played in evolution where I question the majority view.

    Sincerely,

    David Springer

  81. 81

    Darwnian evolution does not even exist except in the minds of tens of thousands of homozygous, “prescribed,” intellectually handicapped mystics. Marsupial and placental mammals, obviousy only distantly related, produced very similar phenotypes because they were both reading the same blueprints during their radiation. It is as simple as that. Read my 2005 PEH paper on the side board for the details and also my 2000 paper, “Ontogeny, phylogeny and the origin of biological information.”

    Why do I continue to waste my time?

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  82. Karl

    This is exactly what we see when looking at marsupial and placental mammals. They are phenetically similar, because they are constrained by their ecological niches, but genetically dissimilar, because evolution followed a different path through mutation space to arrive at a similar phenotype, constrained by nonrandom selection pressures.

    Genetically dissimilar? EXCUSE ME? I believe that marsupial and placental mammals are about 95% similar at the the genetic level. You might make the case that marsupials and bananas are dissimilar at the genetic level but even there my understanding is that there is a still a 50% similarity at the genetic level.

    On a more general note you are offering up potential observations that would be evidence against a universal common ancestor. None of the hypothetical possibilities you mention dispute random mutation & natural selection as the primary mechanism underlying evolution.

  83. “Probability of 1″ argument:

    I’m on the run. I have two minutes. In quantum mechanics, you have what’s called a superposition of states. You can calculate the ‘probability’ of each state, but that’s all it is, a probability. However, when you test a system to see what state it is, the wave function of the system is said to “collapse” (althought no one knows what is involved, hence they don’t really know what that means). When the system collapses, whatever state is found has a probability of 1–that is, it’s the only state the system can be in at that moment. So, now, do you want to do away with the whole concept of quantum uncertainty, Heisenberg’s principle, by saying, retrodicting actually, that the probability of the superposition of states was always 1 for the state that was actually found?

  84. This always gets me:

    “Darwinian evolution has a random component (mutations) and a non-random component (selection). Mutation provides the randomness, and selection nonrandomly sifts through it, discarding some variations and keeping others.”

    NS doesn’t make NDE non-random. Selection is a terrible word to use, as there’s absolutely no selection going on to begin with. Mutations occur all over the place in numerous organisms. The organisms that live the longest and have more offspring spread their own particular mutations. The mutations that are “selected” in a population aren’t “selected” at all, because in NDE there is no purpose and no goal…these are merely those mutations that were in the organisms that lived the longest.

    Animal A has mutation X and animal B has mutation Y. Animal A lives longer (maybe it’s because that mutation did something to help it live longer or maybe it was just lucky and lived longer without benefit from the mutation). The animal spread that mutation to its offspring- thus, we say mutation X was “selected” for. Such teological language for such a pointless, purposeless, goal-less, unguided process of accident after accident after accident.

    Some animal with a mutation living longer than its neighbors doesn’t suddenly make the entire process non-random. It is completely random. Those that outlive the others is, itself, a random idea. No one could possibly predict which 1 of a group of animals with a minor variation would live longer and spread the mutation better than the others. The small variation in one particular organism couldn’t possibly be enough to add any new body part, function, etc. to its offspring. It would take hundreds, if not thousands of mutations leading to a new part, function, system, etc. That means hundreds or thousands of generations as well. Predicting this process would be impossible. Thus- random.

  85. Karl P:
    Darwinian evolution has a random component (mutations) and a non-random component (selection).

    I would say that even the selection process involves chance. The chance that an organism will get a random mutation and live in an environment that would allow it to exist. Also we know there are chance events that can eliminate even the most beneficial mutation. Then in sexually reproducing organisms one has to find a mate that will except him/ her. Then that mating has to be successful. And even that does not mean the beneficial mutation will get passed on.

    and a note to Alan Fox:

    ID still flourishes because educated people know that “Kitzmiller” was a farce and has been exposed as such.

  86. Karl

    With design, there is no such constraint. We would not expect to see more genotypic variation across the board, because in each case the designer would be free to choose the opposite.

    That all depends on what kind of design we’re talking about. Constant tinkering can explain just about anything whether it’s constant tinkering by a designer or constant tinkering by chance. I don’t support either. I think the design, at least for life on earth, was all there at the beginning and no tinkering was necessary afterward. The universal common ancestor was a front loaded design just like a fertilized human egg is a front loaded design. Chance played no more role in phylogeny than it does in ontogeny. Morevoer, I believe that life cycles on a far grander scale than just one planet. Life on earth is but one instance in a continuum that has been going on for no-one-knows how long in the past and will continue into the future ad infinitum. Arriving at an intelligent tool-using species is simply life’s way of radiating on an interstellar scale. The earth, like all planets, has a finite lifetime. In order for life to continue it eventually has to relocate. Since the universe is so large and empty in order to relocate there has to a mechanism to locate suitable new planets and transport life to it. Think of humanity as the genitalia of the planetary ecosystem. Our purpose is to enable life to radiate beyond this planet before the planet becomes inhospitable to life. Just my opinon of course but it makes beautiful sense and fits perfectly with the cycles and nature of living things we have directly observed.

  87. The Dawkinsian “natural selection is anything but random” rings of mere word-play designed to get around the overwhelming improbability of evolution by chance resulting in anything of note.

    In addition to previous comments about the elimination of ‘chance’ by natural selection, here is Dawkins’s tautological explanation from an interview:
    Blockquote> You said in a recent speech that design was not the only alternative to chance. A lot of people think that evolution is all about random chance.

    That’s ludicrous. That’s ridiculous. Mutation is random in the sense that it’s not anticipatory of what’s needed. Natural selection is anything but random. Natural selection is a guided process, guided not by any higher power, but simply by which genes survive and which genes don’t survive. That’s a non-random process. The animals that are best at whatever they do—hunting, flying, fishing, swimming, digging—whatever the species does, the individuals that are best at it are the ones that pass on the genes. It’s because of this non-random process that lions are so good at hunting, antelopes so good at running away from lions, and fish are so good at swimming.
    http://www.beliefnet.com/story.....889_1.html

    Of course, NS is nothing but the differential survival and reproduction of genes which is, according here to Dawkins, guided by the differential survival and reproduction of genes.

  88. Broken tag, my apologies.
    The quoted section:

    You said in a recent speech that design was not the only alternative to chance. A lot of people think that evolution is all about random chance.

    That’s ludicrous. That’s ridiculous. Mutation is random in the sense that it’s not anticipatory of what’s needed. Natural selection is anything but random. Natural selection is a guided process, guided not by any higher power, but simply by which genes survive and which genes don’t survive. That’s a non-random process. The animals that are best at whatever they do—hunting, flying, fishing, swimming, digging—whatever the species does, the individuals that are best at it are the ones that pass on the genes. It’s because of this non-random process that lions are so good at hunting, antelopes so good at running away from lions, and fish are so good at swimming.

  89. 89

    Natural selection is very real. What it does is religiously preserve that which appeared full blown as a novel life form. Natural selection played no role whatsoever in the creation of that new life form. Got that? “Go away Davison, you are making me sick.” How can natural selection be involved with a creature that that has not yet appeared ? Got that also? “Not a chance Davison. You are obviously crazy. You used to be a decent scientist but something happened to you in the 1980s.”

    Natural selection has now and never had anything to do with speciation or the emergence of any of the higher categories. Its function is now exactly what it always was, which is to PREVENT change. Got that? “Not a chance you lunatic.” That is why, armed with nothing but a bunch of photos or a very simple field guide like Peterson’s Guide to the Birds, one can identify with absolute certainty every bird species that has ever been catalogued for that particular area. Got that? “Get out of my face Davison. You are deranged.”

    Only when man intervenes can variations persist as he becomes the selector and even that which he selects will revert back to the original phenotype when those creatures are returned to their original habitat. Do you know why? I will tell you why. “I don’t want to hear about it.” Because evolution has now and never had anything to do with allelic mutations, that is why. Mutations are reversible, evolution isn’t and never has been. It is not only a vacuum that Nature abhors. She abhors all sorts of change. She is a stubborn female. Got that? “Of course not you old has been.” “Your stench has preceeded you!”*

    “The struggle for existence and natural selection are NOT progressive agencies, but being, on the contrary, conservative, maintain the standard.
    Leo Berg, Nomogenesis, page 406, my emphasis.

    Got that? “Who do you think you are kidding, you mindless fool?”

    “Natural selection is a real factor in connection with mimicry, but its function is to conserve and render preponderant an ALREADY EXISTENT likeness, NOT to build up that likeness through the accumulation of small variations, as is so generally assumed.”
    Reginald C. Punnett, Mimicry in Butterflies, page 152, my emphasis.

    Got that? “Of course not, you senile moron!”

    Why do I abuse myself like this?

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    Oddly enough, I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A Davison, masochist extraordinaire.

    * courtesy of P.Z. Meyers.

  90. Dr. Davison,
    I think I got that, and I share your sentiment here as well:
    “Oddly enough, I love it so!”

  91. DaveScot: “Personally I do think the universe is deterministic up to a point. That point is somewhere in the evolution of life. I’m not sure exactly where but by the time evolution gets to us, free will has been introduced into the universe and the tyranny of determinism ends there.”

    That sounds pretty good to me. And the reason is does is because of the fact of my own consciousness, and the utter inability of reason to place it within spacetime as a product. When all is said and done, my consciousness is the starting place, and the productions of mere reason can never trump its place in reality. For me, it’s self-evident proof that “miracles” occur, and that pure determinism is false. I know you’re still undecided about all that.

    From a standpoint of pure reason, determinism must be “true”, else reason ultimately fails, because reason can only deal with determinism at the bottom of the turtle pile or else stand forever in the dark. That’s the clear choice. And it’s a pretty good clue, along with consciousness itself, that something wild and interesting is going on around here. I’m not quite sure what.

    Thanks for listening.

  92. “And it’s a pretty good clue, along with consciousness itself, that something wild and interesting is going on around here. I’m not quite sure what.”

    I like that!

  93. Karl Pfluger:
    “bFast (I always think of scrambled eggs and orange juice when I see your name)”
    What the heck do you mean by that?

    “you seem to be thinking that predictability per se is evidence again Darwinian evolution.” If what you mean by predictability that “if we rewound the tape we would get a rather similar result” This is a correct statement. I agree with Gould that contingency — if we rewound the tape the results would be dramatically different — is an essential effect of neo-darwinian evolution.

  94. John Davison: “It explains nothing except the production of intraspecific varieties, none of which are incipient species.

    Amen.

  95. “Natural selection is very real. What it does is religiously preserve that which appeared full blown as a novel life form. Natural selection played no role whatsoever in the creation of that new life form. Got that? ”

    For a moment there John you sounded just like a Creationist talking about Biblical ‘kinds’.

    (For those of you not familiar with creationism, kinds are not the same as species. Kinds are generally believed to be around the Family level of classification. Common descent is usually accepted for the levels below that.)

  96. Me to bFast:

    I always think of scrambled eggs and orange juice when I see your name.

    bFast to me:

    What the heck do you mean by that?

    Sorry, bFast, I should have been more explicit. Your name looks like an abbreviation of the word ‘breakfast’: b-fast. “Dude, I’m starved, let’s go grab some b-fast.”

    bFast:

    I agree with Gould that contingency — if we rewound the tape the results would be dramatically different — is an essential effect of neo-darwinian evolution.

    I think Gould overemphasized the role of contingency in evolution (and many evolutionists agree). In any case, the fact is that if you were able to rerun evolution, non-random selective pressures would still channel evolutionary change in certain directions.

    Example: if we reran evolution, snow would still be white. Therefore we would expect natural selection to favor polar animals with white coloration, regardless of any other differences from the current crop of polar bears, snow hares, etcetera.

    Darwinian evolution is perfectly compatible with predictability of this kind.

  97. JasontheGreek wrote:

    Some animal with a mutation living longer than its neighbors doesn’t suddenly make the entire process non-random. It is completely random.

    Jason,

    You’re assuming that short-term randomness precludes long-term predictability, but it ain’t so.

    Imagine you blow up a balloon and then let the air out. The path of a given air molecule is random, but you can absolutely count on the fact that air will flow out of the balloon due to the pressure differential.

    Similarly, the survival or death of a desert horned lizard may be random and unrelated to its superb camouflage. It may get run over by a car, for example. But you can still count on the fact that over time, horned lizards with better camouflage will tend to predominate.

    Ditto for antibiotic and pesticide resistance.

    ‘Selective pressure’ is a particularly apt phrase for this phenomenon. Just as air pressure causes air to flow out of the balloon, without forcing any individual molecule to follow a particular path, so selective pressure determines the overall direction of the population, without dictating that certain individuals must live or die.

  98. On this thread and elsewhere at UD, I’m seeing signs that folks are missing some fundamental truths about common descent, Darwinian evolution, and intelligent design:

    1. Common descent via natural selection and common design are not equally valid interpretations of the evidence.

    I frequently hear the argument that the evidence cannot distinguish between common descent vs. common design. Not true, and here’s an example which shows the difference:

    Gather a bunch of different species, analyze hundreds of their proteins for similarities and differences, and draw the resulting phylogenetic trees. You’ll find that the trees agree with each other, to within the margin predicted by chance.

    Now gather a bunch of different computers and perform the same sort of analysis, based on different components of the computer (processor, chipset, hard drive, motherboard, etc.). The phylogenetic tree you get based on processors will not match the tree you get for the power supplies, the one for hard drives, or the one for DRAMs.

    Some degree of common design could be invoked to explain either scenario. In fact, some degree of common design could explain any scenario. Common design explains everything, and therefore nothing.

    Contrast this with common descent via natural selection. It nicely explains the common phylogenetic tree of the different species, but is helpless to explain the divergent trees of the computers.

    Conclusion: Common descent via natural selection predicts a common tree, which is exactly what the evidence shows. Common design makes no such prediction, and could be invoked to explain any pattern of evidence.

    2. Either Darwinian evolution is occurring, or the designer chose to make things appear as if Darwinian evolution were occurring.

    The example above shows that the evidence fits neatly with the idea of common descent via natural selection. Anticipating an objection from DaveScot, what about front-loaded evolution? Doesn’t it also predict common descent, and therefore match the evidence?

    Front-loaded evolution does predict common descent. However, it does not predict the tree pattern we see. Why? Because front-loaded evolution is not restricted to making genetic changes one at a time, the way natural selection via mutation is.

    Think about it. Under a front-loaded scheme, a weasel could be transformed into an elephant within a few generations. The front-loaded mechanism, once triggered, can make massive changes, turning on some portions of the genome and turning off others. Two species with a common ancestor need not share any genes in common under a front-loaded scheme.

    Darwinian evolution could not possibly proceed this way, because the odds of getting so many simultaneous coordinated mutation are minuscule.

    A front-loaded scheme could even explain a pattern like we saw with the computers in our previous example. Front-loading is compatible with any possible phylogenetic relationship — therefore it explains none of them.

    Could the evidence still be explained by front-loading? Sure, but only if we posit that the designer chose to make it appear that Darwinian evolution was occurring.

    Conclusion: Darwinian evolution fits the phylogenetic evidence much better than front-loading.

    3. It is design (of both the front-loaded and ‘tinkering’ forms) that explains everything, and therefore nothing, because any conceivable world is compatible with design. Far fewer worlds are compatible with Darwinian evolution, yet ours happens to be one of them.

    4. Front-loaded evolution and Darwinian evolution do not fit the data equally well.

  99. 99

    comment #95 by StephenA

    I am a Creationist with a capital C. Why everyone isn’t is a mystery to me.

    The only things that we don’t know for certain are how many Creators there were, how many creations there were, and how many times and places they took place. As I have explained elsewhere here, I feel we can account for a common ancestry for the members of the Order Primates to which we belong. I regard that as a given. How much further this can be established I am sure will be determined one way or the other. Until it is, the only reasonable position is to remain open to the “possibility” of separate independent creations. I doubt very much if there were as many creations as there are present Orders of animals, yet it is precisely at that taxonomic level that some very large gaps appear not only in the fossil record but at the level of DNA content per cell, cell size, mode of sexual reproduction, basic morphology, origin of germ cells and God only knows how many other differences for which intermediate states are not evident.

    These several gaps are expecially evident when one compares the two major orders of the Amphibia, the Urodela (salamanders and newts) with the Anura (frogs and toads). They are so great that I think these two groups should be elevated to separate Vertebrate Classes. I doubt that will be done however.

    In the Mammalia, the differences between Orders are not nearly so great although just as apparently discontinuous as Order differences are anywhere in the Animal kingdom. The differences in the plant Divisions are even greater and their origins just as mysterious. There is absolutely no convincing evidence that any plant Division can be derived from another one. In my opinion, the same can be said for the animal Phyla. That does not mean that I am convinced that each was separately created, but I am not prepared to deny that possibility on the basis of our present knowledge. If others are certain of a monophlyletic evolution I say good for them. Be prepared to prove it.

    “Im from Wisconsin and I have to be showed.”
    John A. Davison

    Without ever really explaining what he meant, Leo Berg offered the following on the last page of Nomogenesis.

    “Organisms have developed from tens of thousands of primary forms. i.e, polyphyletically.”

    Far be it from me to reject out of hand the opinion of Leo Berg, without question the greatest Russian biologist of his generation and, in my opinion, the greatest evolutionist of all time. I am quite certain he was not a Bblical Creationist. Neither am I nor were any of my other sources. That said, it is certainly not impossible that a kernel of truth might reside in the notion of Biblical “kinds.”

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  100. Karl

    I’m not quite sure I buy your argument in 1. In a common design scenario a designer could launch a new design directly from an existing design using all the same components and modifying only those needed to accomplish the new design goals. In fact that’s usually what happens in computer design which I spent decades doing. The wheel doesn’t get reinvented nearly as often as it gets a minor improvement that is only very marginally different from the old version. Selection pressure operates in exactly the same manner in computer design as it does in organic design. You well know, or should know, that varying selection pressure causes different proteins to fix mutations at different rates. A veritable cottage industry has sprung up around trying to calibrate so-called molecular clocks which instead of ticking at the same rate as was first hoped for all tick at wildly different rates. Comparing different proteins from the same sets of organisms yields different phylogenetic trees. All that said, I don’t doubt for a second that common descent is as true as anything that happened in the past can be known to be true.

    Your argument against front-loaded evolution is really bad. You begin by saying that a front-loaded design could go from a weasel to an elephant in a few generations. For the sake of argument let’s say that’s possible. Then in a huge non sequitur brainfart you say that since we haven’t observed such a transition it means that front loaded evolution must be false. Time after time we’ve pointed out to you that phylogeny is a process that mirrors ontogeny only on different timescales. What you see in ontogeny, the rapid diversification of a single cell into hundreds of different types from bone to neuron, organized into scores of different tissue types from tendon to nerve, which themselves organize into dozens of different organs from skin to brain, and which then arrange themselves into one of many distinct body plans is almost exactly what happened in phloygenesis except the gestational period is in hundreds of millions of years instead of tens of days.

    You assertion that random mutations must be gradual is practically true but technically false. Exposure to mutagenic chemicals and radiation can cause massive simultaneous mutations. The probability that such a massive number of random mutations won’t include a fatal one is small but it is still non-zero. The real problem is that we all mostly AGREE with you that Darwinian evolution must be gradual. The indisputable testimony of the fossil record however is one of long periods of stasis where no evolution occurs, a great number of rapid extinctions, and a great number of instantaneous appearances of fully differentiated new species which then remain the same until they go extinct. So you really shot yourself in the foot when you say that random mutation must needs be a gradual process and then have the fossil record show that isn’t how it went down.

    A mechanism which allows for saltation, stasis, then extinction is what is demanded by the fossil record. Random mutation & natural selection doesn’t fit for exactly the reasons you put forward. The only mechanisms I have seen that ring possibly true is interference from an intelligent agent at God only knows how many points along the way OR a front loaded mechanism where an intelligent agent need only have acted once in the entire history of the universe. Since invoking an intelligent agency is indeed bad form in science, if you must do it, do it sparingly. One time four or more billion years ago is as sparing as sparing gets. Personally I think it was longer ago than that and the radiation of life on this planet is just one generation in a larger scale evolution where life is radiating across interstellar divides.

  101. Personally I think it was longer ago than that and the radiation of life on this planet is just one generation in a larger scale evolution where life is radiating across interstellar divides.

    Of course some planet has to be the first and we could be it but I cling tenaciously to the Copernican Principle of Mediocrity and presume no special creation for the earth but rather that it’s just one instantiation of something that is not uncommon. My Copernican view however is weakening by the day as SETI finds nothing and things like “The Privileged Planet” offer strong arguments that the earth is indeed very special. I’m not married to any particular worldview but I was engaged and planned to be married to the Copernican worldview. It’s a traumatic and emotional parting but one must follow the evidence wherever it leads in science.

  102. Karl P:
    Conclusion: Common descent via natural selection predicts a common tree, which is exactly what the evidence shows. Common design makes no such prediction, and could be invoked to explain any pattern of evidence.

    Why would common descent predict a common tree? Who says the genomes would preserve/ conserve anything that could later be used as such markers?

    Common design doesn’t predict everything. It predicts there will be common features in all genomes. And that makes sense.

    What common descent needs to explain, and has not because it cannot, are the differneces.

  103. mike1962,

    ““Chance” is nothing more than a gap in our knowledge. No more. No less. If you substitute “chance” with “gap in our knowledge” in the above sentense, the ridiculousness should become apparent.
    “Scientists have long wondered how much of a role something that is a gap in our knowledge plays in evolution”.”

    Let me play this empty rhetoric game as well. To paraphrase the last sentence above:
    “IDists have long wondered how much of a role something that is a gap in our knowledge can have in pushing an ideological viewpoint”.

    Gee, that was fun!

  104. DaveScot,
    “If evolution is unrepeatable, chance and necessity can explain that. If evolution is repeatable, chance and necessity can explain that too. Chance and necessity can explain all observations. And these same folks poke fun at a God that can do anything. Too funny. Chance and necessity is the atheist’s God-substitute. Chance and necessity is the dogma of the Darwinian Church. It stopped being science a long time ago. ”

    Evolution would have a hard time explaining a human giving birth to a dog. ID wouldn’t. But then ID never was a science.

  105. Hi, Dave.

    You wrote:

    In a common design scenario a designer could launch a new design directly from an existing design using all the same components and modifying only those needed to accomplish the new design goals. In fact that’s usually what happens in computer design which I spent decades doing.

    True, a designer could do that. But he is not constrained to do that. He could also choose one of hundreds of alternative approaches. For example, he could modify dozens of components at once or swap entire subsystems between otherwise unrelated designs. Common design is far, far less constrained than Darwinian evolution, and that’s the problem. Because it is so unconstrained, common design does not predict the evidence, since it is compatible with any possible body of evidence. On the other hand, common descent through natural selection does make a prediction, and the prediction turns out to be correct.

    Comparing different proteins from the same sets of organisms yields different phylogenetic trees.

    Different but extremely similar, and the degree of similarity is way beyond what could occur purely by chance if common descent were not true. The mathematics of this is very interesting. I’ll post a link if I can find a reference which explains it.

    All that said, I don’t doubt for a second that common descent is as true as anything that happened in the past can be known to be true.

    We’re in complete agreement on that.

    You begin by saying that a front-loaded design could go from a weasel to an elephant in a few generations. For the sake of argument let’s say that’s possible. Then in a huge non sequitur brainfart you say that since we haven’t observed such a transition it means that front loaded evolution must be false.

    I’m not saying that FLE could only be validated by a weasel-to-elephant transition. I’m saying that it, like common design, is compatible with weasel-to-elephant transitions and a zillion other scenarios of common descent. NDE, by contrast, is compatible with (and therefore predicts) only an extremely limited subset of those scenarios. Reality happens to match the predictions of NDE.

    The indisputable testimony of the fossil record however is one of long periods of stasis where no evolution occurs, a great number of rapid extinctions, and a great number of instantaneous appearances of fully differentiated new species which then remain the same until they go extinct.

    Those “instantaneous” appearances you speak of are instantaneous only with respect to the plodding geological timescale. There is plenty of time for evolution to happen during those “instants”. We know that the rate of evolutionary change is actually very rapid. It’s just that selective pressures don’t change as quickly, so changes tend to oscillate within certain bounds, giving the appearance of stasis (beak lengths on the Galapagos finches are the classic example of this). Also, speciation tends to happen in small, isolated populations which have less chance of leaving fossils for us to discover.

    Since invoking an intelligent agency is indeed bad form in science, if you must do it, do it sparingly. One time four or more billion years ago is as sparing as sparing gets.

    Actually, zero times is as sparing as sparing gets. :-)

  106. Joseph asks:

    Why would common descent predict a common tree? Who says the genomes would preserve/ conserve anything that could later be used as such markers?

    Joseph,
    This is hard to explain without drawing a diagram, so I refer you to the following explanation from Douglas Theobald (taken from http://www.talkorigins.org/faq....._hierarchy ):

    As seen from the phylogeny in Figure 1, the predicted pattern of organisms at any given point in time can be described as “groups within groups”, otherwise known as a nested hierarchy. The only known processes that specifically generate unique, nested, hierarchical patterns are branching evolutionary processes. Common descent is a genetic process in which the state of the present generation/individual is dependent only upon genetic changes that have occurred since the most recent ancestral population/individual. Therefore, gradual evolution from common ancestors must conform to the mathematics of Markov processes and Markov chains. Using Markovian mathematics, it can be rigorously proven that branching Markovian replicating systems produce nested hierarchies (Givnish and Sytsma 1997; Harris 1989; Norris 1997). For these reasons, biologists routinely use branching Markov chains to effectively model evolutionary processes, including complex genetic processes, the temporal distributions of surnames in populations (Galton and Watson 1874), and the behavior of pathogens in epidemics.

    The nested hierarchical organization of species contrasts sharply with other possible biological patterns, such as the continuum of “the great chain of being” and the continuums predicted by Lamarck’s theory of organic progression (Darwin 1872, pp. 552-553; Futuyma 1998, pp. 88-92). Mere similarity between organisms is not enough to support macroevolution; the nested classification pattern produced by a branching evolutionary process, such as common descent, is much more specific than simple similarity. Real world examples that cannot be objectively classified in nested hierarchies are the elementary particles (which are described by quantum chromodynamics), the elements (whose organization is described by quantum mechanics and illustrated by the periodic table), the planets in our Solar System, books in a library, or specially designed objects like buildings, furniture, cars, etc.

  107. 107

    joseph

    I am sorry but it most definitely is NOT true that common descent CANNOT explain the differences. While common descent has not yet been proven, it most certainly has not been disproven and nothing you or anyone else says will alter that. It will remain the explanation of choice until proven to be otherwise. Words have meaning and should be used cautiously or not at all.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  108. 108

    Nevertheless, a monophyletic evolution is far from established and there are plenty of reasons to question it, questions that still remain unanswered.

    One thing is certain – nothing in evolution ever took place gradually just as nothing does in ontogeny. Like every genetic change, those involved in phylogeny were instantaneous events without intermediate states. In physiology it is known as the “All or None Law.” It is equally true for both phylogeny and ontogeny.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  109. “The real problem is that we all mostly AGREE with you that Darwinian evolution must be gradual. The indisputable testimony of the fossil record however is one of long periods of stasis where no evolution occurs, a great number of rapid extinctions, and a great number of instantaneous appearances of fully differentiated new species which then remain the same until they go extinct. So you really shot yourself in the foot when you say that random mutation must needs be a gradual process and then have the fossil record show that isn’t how it went down.”

    The problem here is the difference between scale of individual mutations and the scale of species change. Punctuated equilibrium says that evolution proceeds with long periods of stasis followed by relatively fast periods of change, but this doesn’t mean that all the mutations that occured in these periods had large phenotypic effects or were ‘hopeful monster’ mutations. Of course they weren’t all tiny allelic mutations either, but most likely on a continuum in between. None of this has much to do with the pace of species evolution though, and several recent devlopments have supported the punctuated model.

  110. I’ve posted a few comments in this thread – have they been trapped as spam or not approved for some reason?

  111. Karl Pfluger: “Sorry, bFast, I should have been more explicit.” What can I say, its not like me to miss a perfectly good play on words. I’m just not used to referring to breakfast as b-fast.

    Example: if we reran evolution, snow would still be white. Therefore we would expect natural selection to favor polar animals with white coloration, regardless of any other differences from the current crop of polar bears, snow hares, etcetera.

    Certainly there should, according to NDE, be a certain amount, even a significant amount, of convergence. When I consider the streamlined similarity between the dolphin and the shark, I say “that’s expected.”

    However, I think that the amount of convergence has been really quite surprising to the scientific community. I think of Simon Conway Morris’s book, “Life’s Solution.” His study of convergence suggests that contingency plays a minimal role. Also, we see a surprising parallel between the marsupials and the placentals, as discussed elsewhere on this forum.

    I have made it a personal hobby to examine pentadactylism. This phenomenon is near universal amongst quadrupeds. It appears, however, that pentadactylism appeared at two separate points on the phylogenic tree. In “Eight Little Piggies”, Gould writes about this phenomenon extensively. He suggests that the tanacity of pentadactylism is surprising and worthy of study. The studies that have been done have shown that a single point mutation creates polydactylism. Yet nature has not implemented it as the norm for any living species. (Prior to nature settling on 5, there were 6 and 8 toed animals, there was one lizzard skeleton found with 6 toes, but one example does not prove that it was not just a mutant. Man, dogs, mice and cats all exibit a polydactyl mutation.)

    I was intrigued by your discussion about front-loading. In general I agree with you that NDE must produce a “perfect” phylogenic tree (with the exception of the effects of HGT). I agree also that front-loading could produce such a tree, but is not bound to it. Your suggestion that front-loading explains everything, therefore it explains nothing has some merit.

    However, I charge that NDE does not do a good job of explaining some of the evidence.

    I think of Denton’s discussion of the cytochrome C protein. The thing paints an almost perfect phylogenic tree. Denton shows that there is only one way that the cytochrome C’s tree could be so perfect — the molecular clock hypotheses has to work perfectly within that context.

    Now, as the role that the cytochrome C plays in all organisms is consistant, the molecular clock hypothesis isn’t blown out of the water at the first whack. However, from what I have read, the scope of the molecular clock hypothesis has been severely restricted by studies. It would seem, for instance, that the insects with their short lifespans, should be more suseptible to genetic drift than the mammals. Yet the cytochrome C has drifed the same amount from the pea in the fruit fly as in the elephant. In truth the cytochrome C seems to defy an NDE based interpretation.

    I can think of another half-dozen similar challenges to NDE, but I want to get this post submitted.

  112. 112

    Chris Hyland

    There is no “punctuated model.” The “model” presents no mechanism and is lttle more than a meaningless catch phrase describing what paleontologists have always known – evolution, when it did occur, always occurred in spurts.

    Also why do you keep bringing up mutations? They never played any role except to ensure extinction. Evolution was always an emergent, internally controlled phenomenon in which the environment played, at best, the trivial role as a stimulus for a prescribed, prescheduled potential. Get with the program. Or better yet, go back to “After the Bar Closes” and quote me. No one else has and you probably won’t either. Der Fuhrer, Herr Doktor Professor Esley Welsberry (pronounced Velsberry) wouldn’t approve of it don’t you know.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution udemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  113. 113

    Life span is just one more factor that never had anything to to do with organic evolution. The line that led to the present day elephant species evolved no more slowly than any other series. With a 22 month gestation period, elephants are one of the most numerous of the large mammals in Africa and one of the most destructive of their habitat. Reproductive potential and rate never had anything to do with evolution either. That is all just more Darwinian, unverified mysticism. The entire process was planned and is now terminated.

    By the way, has anyone tried to hybridize the African and Indian elephants? I should know this but I don’t.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  114. Hawk:

    mike1962: ““Chance” is nothing more than a gap in our knowledge. No more. No less. If you substitute “chance” with “gap in our knowledge” in the above sentense, the ridiculousness should become apparent. “Scientists have long wondered how much of a role something that is a gap in our knowledge plays in evolution”.”

    Hawk: “Let me play this empty rhetoric game as well. To paraphrase the last sentence above: “IDists have long wondered how much of a role something that is a gap in our knowledge can have in pushing an ideological viewpoint”.
    Gee, that was fun!”

    I’m glad you’re having fun, but you obviously miss the point. And your “paraphrase” is not a paraphrase.

  115. John A. Davison, “Life span is just one more factor that never had anything to to do with organic evolution.”
    It would appear that the cytochrome C gene would agree with you.

  116. 116

    Well come on Chris Hyland. Mention my name and quote me directly at “After the Pub Closes,” Esley Welsberry’s private little inner sanctum, flame pit and “groupthink,” head-nodding, auto-congratulating sewing circle. Just think, you could be the first. What an opportunity. Don’t pass it up. It is your chance to achieve lasting fame. The worst that could happen to you would be a slap on the wrist from Der Fuhrer Herr Doktor Professor Esley Welsberry (prononced Velsberry). Don’t tell me you are afraid of the big bad fisheries biologist and widely published, internationally recognized evolutionary theorist, Esley Welsberry, or are you? We will soon see won’t we? You can bet we won’t! Darwimps are like that.

    “Conscience doth make cowards of YOU all.”
    after Shakespeare

    What I love most about “After the Bar Closes” is the way Welsberry proudly and invariably signs off with Dorothy Parker’s perfectly incriminating characterization of his own posture -

    ** YOU CAN”T TEACH AN OLD DOGMA NEW TRICKS**

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

    I’ll leave a light on for you. Don’t disappoint me.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  117. Karl Pfluger’s earlier posts about nested hierarchies and such, got me to thinking, once again, about Darwin’s “Tree of Life”. It’s such a weird notion, really. The way he diagrams what he sees as “variation” is truly quite interesting. Almost 400 pages, and only one diagram. What’s even more interesting is that the diagram he includes is only for one “branching event”, if I may so term it.

    I did an exercise of EXTENDING Darwin’s diagram. I was convinced that extending this one “branching event” would not result in a “tree”, but rather a bush. And lo, and behold, after I copied his diagram a dozen times, and pasted them together onto a large sized poster board, while lining up ‘bottoms’ and ‘tops’, out emerged a……BUSH. It looked like a shrub And, of course, since most evolution happens in the vertebrate line of Chordates, you also have to take into account this one long, protruding branch that sticks out to the one side, in a completely unbalanced way, considering, on the other side the various kingdoms of bacteria that, as cell types, hardly go anywhere. Well, it’s a quite a stretch to call this thing a tree.

    But now there’s more trouble in Darwin-ville. And that’s because Karl’s ‘nested hierarchy’ arguments got me to thinking, and imagining, through all this stuff again. Darwin says that a “tree” emerges due to nature “trimming” away certain species (whereas, in the strange world of Darwinism, certain species make it all the way to becoming an “order”—the spot just below Classes of animals. Hard to believe? Let me quote Darwin himself (In Oxford World Classics, 1996, 2nd Ed. of the Origins, p. 103): “I see no reason to limit the process of modification, as now explained to the formation of genera alone. . . . the two little groups of genera will form two distinct families, or even orders, according to the amount of divergent modification supposed to be represented in the diagram.) Well, as I said, Darwin thought of nature, and selection, as being like a gardener who trims away certain biological forms, while retaining others. These retained forms, according to his theory, then go on to produce more diversified forms and so forth. That’s is the notion of common descent that Darwinists suppose.

    Now, the idea lurking beneath Darwin’s hypothesis that “species” give rise to an “order”, is that of a branch. So, now, a “thought experiment”, if you will.

    Just imagine being a very small tree rodent. You climb up the trunk (but it’s actually a bush!!), you encounter a large branch; you decide to go out a little bit on the large branch, and then you run into a somewhat smaller branch; you go out on that one until you reach another even smaller branch, so on, and so on, until you’re at the very outside edge of the tree–where all extant species (analogously) are to be found.

    Well, I’ve just described a “real” tree, and it’s a nice image. However, I now propose if possible, that we take a return trip from extant, living “species” to the “orders”, “classes” and “phyla” that they must belong to if, in fact, they belong to a “nested hierarchy.” The reason I say, “if possible”, is because we’re going to run into a problem. The problem is this: as we–small tree-climbing rodents that we are–go from the outermost twigs, to somewhat large twigs, all is fine. And when we try to go from larger twigs to small branches, depending on what part of the “tree” you’re on (by analogy, how numerous the genus you find yourself in), all might still be going fine–although it may not. But as we try to get to larger branches, well, what do you know, THEY DON’T EXIST. THEY’RE NOT THERE!!! What am I talking about? I’m talking about “nested hierarchies” and “missing links”. All that which “links” up this tree of life–amongst classes, but certainly amongst phyla–is gone, missing, no where to be found. And there’s an even bigger problem. There’s no trunk!! Nada! Zilch! Darwin talks–in the last sentence of the Origins–about life having been “originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms, or into one”. (Just as an aside. For all you Darwinists, if you want to insist on asking the question, “Who is this Designer you ID people keep talking about?”, well, Darwin gives us the answer: it’s the Creator!) From this one, or several, form(s), all of life is derived. Well, where is/are this(these) form(s) in the Fossil Record? No where to be found. And the “missing links”? No where to be found.

    So, what we really have–since the Fossil Record, contrary to Darwin’s expectations, and, by his own reckoning, a damning condemnation of his theory–are “twigs and small branches” hanging in the middle of the air. It’s a Pseudo-Tree!! It’s not a real tree. It’s a tree that can only be imagined.

    As with all of Darwinism, from the outside it looks like a real object, but when inspected, it’s found to be a complete illusion. Magic is the art of using cleverness to fool people into believing that you’ve done the impossible. Darwinism is the art of using cleverness to fool people into believing that the impossible has happened. It’s Voodoo science, you see.

    As my “thought experiment” illustrates, our understanding of common descent needs to be somewhat supple owing to the fact that the branches aren’t there—they’re only inferred. Discrete steps can—and likely were—taken. We live in a quantum, not Newtonian, world. Darwinism ought to keep up.

  118. 118

    Well, I won’t get sidetracked onto how it plays into the design vs. selection discussion, but Dawkins doesn’t necessarily defend either contingency or non-repeatedly as vigorously as the original post claims. Read the narrator’s final remarks in “The Ancestor’s Tale.” Using some of the same examples as advanced here (convergence on similar niches and phenotypes in separate lineages–dinosaurs, marsupials, placental mammals), he makes some of these same points.

    In his own nonrepeatable way, of course…

  119. 119

    In the above, please read “non-repeatability” for “non-repeatedly.”

  120. 120

    I think that the idea of co-evolution presents problems for prescribed evolution as well as Darwinian evolution. On my blog, I said about the co-dependence of bees and flowers,

    —”. . . .what would be necessary is that large numbers of the bees and flowers possessing the corresponding beneficial mutations would miraculously have to simultaneously appear in the same place, because a single bee visits many flowers, and each flower is visited by many bees.” — — from http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....radox.html

    John A. Davison commented,

    — “The mutual morphological and physiological adaptations that characterize bee/flower relationships for example arose simultaneously as each form was reading the same prescribed blueprint setting up the relationship, a blueprint that had been established long before and was finally being read.” — — from http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....6191630865

    The question is, what could trigger these genetic changes so that large numbers of both co-dependent organisms would appear at exactly the same time in exactly the same place?

    I also discuss co-evolution at: http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....redux.html

  121. PaV,

    I’m sorry, but I can’t figure out exactly what you’re trying to say in your last comment.

    The best I can do is to respond to specific assertions you make.

    …out emerged a……BUSH. It looked like a shrub… Well, it’s a quite a stretch to call this thing a tree.

    What do you mean by “bush” vs. “tree” and why do you think the difference is significant? Many biologists have opined that the evolutionary tree looks more like a bush. Others have pointed out that we reconstruct the tree based on non-extinct lineages and whatever fossils we find. Any extinct lineage which has not yet yielded fossils will be missing from the tree. If we were able to fill in all of these missing branches, the tree would take on a more bush-like aspect. But how does any of this cast doubt on common descent or evolution?

    …in the strange world of Darwinism, certain species make it all the way to becoming an “order”—the spot just below Classes of animals.

    A species is a species. An order is a group of species. I think you’re confused by the fact that for any order, there is a single ancestral species. But that doesn’t mean that the ancestral species is the order.

    I now propose if possible, that we take a return trip from extant, living “species” to the “orders”, “classes” and “phyla” that they must belong to if, in fact, they belong to a “nested hierarchy”… But as we try to get to larger branches, well, what do you know, THEY DON’T EXIST. THEY’RE NOT THERE!!!

    PaV, you have totally misunderstood what Darwin’s tree is supposed to represent. It is not, repeat not, a snapshot of life at a given moment. It is rather a representation of the history of life over time.

    All currently existing species are represented by the ends of branches and twigs. If you were to take a snapshot of life right now, you would get a constellation-like field of dots, with no twigs, branches, or trunk to connect them.

    Go backwards in time, however, and you will see the points moving, drawing out twigs and branches, getting closer to each other, and merging. At the points where the twigs and branches merge, you have a common ancestor. The twigs and branches continue to join until you reach the trunk.

    To reiterate, the tree shows the history of life across time. The root is the earliest point on the tree. The twig and branch tips represent the year 2006. The trunk, branches and twigs illustrate the progress of life between those two times.

  122. Larry Fafarman, “I think that the idea of co-evolution presents problems for prescribed evolution as well as Darwinian evolution.”

    From what I have read, co-evolution pretty much didn’t happen. It is my understanding that flowering plants are a really rather recent phenomenon. It is also my understanding that little has changed in the insect world in response to the flowers appearing on the scene. This reality is pointed out in “Why is a Fly not a Horse”. (The author (some Italian guy) has exaggerated the situation to the point of ridecule, but the above fact does seem to prove to be true.) Further, I have seen a second recent study that reports the same shocking finding.

    It would appear that the bees preceeded the flowers that they so actively polinate. Bottom line, co-evolution was a good NDE tale, but there is painfully little evidence to support it.

  123. 123

    Bruce fast

    The “Italian guy” is Giuseppe Sermonti, like myself, a convinced Creationist and Editor of Rivista di Biologia where you will find many of my papers. While I am sure he does not agree with much of what I have proposed, he has published my heresies, a rare quality in an Editor. Most important, we share a common contempt for the Darwinian fairy tale. Sermonti exagerrated nothing. He is a gentleman and a scholar and I resent him being referred to as “some Italian guy.” It makes you sound ignorant.

    “You don’t want to call them wops. The dagos don’t like it.”
    Archie Bunker

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  124. 124

    Get this folks

    Chris Hyland just mentioned my name at “After the Bar Closes” but refused to quote anything I had said.

    Not to be out done, Alan Fox was stupid enough to quote me directly when I asserted, with my usual supreme confidence, that Mendelism had absolutely nothing to do with organic evolution except to bring it to a halt.

    God bless you Alan Fox. You continue, in your sublime ignorance, as you always have, to be my strongest supporter. Don’t stop now. Traumatize your Darwimpian cronies with some more of Davison’s devastating anti-Darwiniana. I dare you. You haven’t got the guts and you know it, I know it, and the whole world knows it. You are terrified of the Big Bad Fisheries Biologist, sole proprietor of Panda’s Pathetic Pollex, one of the last surviving bastions of the biggest hoax in the history of science, the Alamo of Darwimpian mysticism.

    I now predict that a stony silence will temporarily descend over Esley Welsberry’s inner sanctum, bunker and knitting circle and my name will probably never be mentioned again for at least six months. I am sure I will not be quoted for at least that length of time and probably much longer. On the other hand Panda’s Thumb may not even exist in six months. Let us pray. Thanks again Alan. You are a prince.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  125. 125

    bFast said ( comment #122 ) –

    –”It is my understanding that flowering plants are a really rather recent phenomenon. It is also my understanding that little has changed in the insect world in response to the flowers appearing on the scene . . . . It would appear that the bees preceeded the flowers that they so actively polinate.”–

    But the bees in their present form need the flowers to survive, so how could the bees in their present form have preceded the flowers?

  126. John Davison:
    I am sorry but it most definitely is NOT true that common descent CANNOT explain the differences.

    Then why hasn’t anyone told us what exactly caused the differences we observe between chimps and humans? For example what mutations gave rise to upright bipedal walking?

    The following site has a list of differences. None of which has been explained:

    Chimps become human?

    John Davison:
    While common descent has not yet been proven, it most certainly has not been disproven and nothing you or anyone else says will alter that.

    While common descent has not be demonstrated, it certainly cannot be demonstrated and nothing you or anyone else says will alter that.

    —————————————————————————————

    To Karl P:

    you do realize that Dr Theobald does not discuss a mechanism- right? And btw “books in a library, or specially designed objects like buildings, furniture, cars, etc.”, can be objectively placed in nested hierarchies.

  127. 127

    Whatever you say joseph. I bow to your superior knowledge.

  128. Joseph wrote:

    you do realize that Dr Theobald does not discuss a mechanism- right?

    Yes, but he does specify that if the rate of evolution is too high, the cladistic information will be randomized and it will be difficult to reconstruct the correct tree. The fact that distinct characters yield consistent trees is an indication that the rate of evolution is generally not too high. NDE predicts a slow rate of evolution, for the simple reason that the odds of getting a large number of coordinated random mutations in one generation is so low. ID is compatible with slow rates, but it does not predict them. Thus NDE is a better fit to the data.

    And btw “books in a library, or specially designed objects like buildings, furniture, cars, etc.”, can be objectively placed in nested hierarchies.

    For any group of designed objects, you can construct a nested hierarchy based on a chosen character. What you’ll find, however, is that the constructed hierarchy does not match hiearchies based on other chosen characters (see my computer example in an earlier comment on this thread).

    Descent with modification predicts that all of the hierachies will match in a statistically significant way. Common design does not. In fact, commond design allows for the hierarchies to be uncorrelated or even anticorrelated.

    Again, we don’t see this, so NDE fits the data.

  129. 129

    Karl Pfluger

    Are you aware of the fact that evolution is no longer in progress? Apparently not. Get with the program – please!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  130. John Davison if you can’t answer the question just say so. I don’t know so obviously I don’t have superior knowledge. I was bowing to yours.

    I am truly interested in what caused the differences. And if no one knows then that is what should be said. However that will also mean that CD can’t be objectively tested.

  131. Karl Pfluger:

    A species is a species. An order is a group of species. I think you’re confused by the fact that for any order, there is a single ancestral species. But that doesn’t mean that the ancestral species is the order.

    If we use the analogy of a tree, and onespecies gives rise to two species, and those two species in turn to two more each, and so forth, then, phylogenetically, they’re all related. When enough related species exist, then we have a genera. As the species keep mulitplying, genera give rise to families and then orders. Now, all of these species are descendants of this one species from long, long ago. Using the analogy of a tree, then if we trace these phylogenetic lineages, they converge on the one species that brought about this diversity, and, according to Darwin’s diagram–hence, presumably his thinking–this entire set of phylogenetic relationships has, as an analogy, the appearance of a branch–replete with smaller, and smaller sub-branches until you reach the “extant” stage of the outermost “twigs”. This branch (the “order”) is, according to the analogy, attached to an even larger branch, the “class” (again, through phylogenetic relations), which, finally is inserted into the main branches of the tree (the “phyla”). The problem I was pointing out in going backwards is this: the species from which the “order” radiated cannot be identified from the fossil record; the species from which the “class” radiates into “orders”, etc, cannot be identified; the species from which the “phyla” radiate (the main branches) cannot be identified, and, of course, the bifurcating trunks (the “kingdoms”) cannot be identified. If you look at any “tree of life”, there are lots of question marks because these phylogenetic relationships cannot be identified. It’s another way of pointing out that the “missing links” are missing; the “tree of life” is completely hypothetical.

    Now, when you talk about common descent, you are presuming that these “species” existed; that is, the “species” that gave rise to “kingdoms” (remember, per Darwins, the Creator originally breathed life into ONE or many forms), the “species” that gave rise to phyla, the “species” that gave rise to a “class”, the “species” within the “class” that gave rise to an “order”, etc. These are all presumed–there is no fossil evidence for them–to have existed. It’s an act of faith. That’s what I was pointing out: common descent makes several assumptions that can’t be validated (or, at least, are not at this time). And “nested hierarchies” point out that these “species” have not been identified, for had they been identified, then the “hierarchies” wouldn’t be “nested”, they would be “connected” by these “species”. And, so, we have to be careful about how we think about common descent.

    As a corollary to this point, I was making the further point that a “tree of life” really doesn’t exist. It’s a figment of Darwin’s imagination, and also of our imagination, should we accept his ideas. As the commerical said: “Where’s the beef?” Where’s the proof that life fits together like a tree? Maybe it’s better to think of it as a garden.

  132. PaV wrote:

    The problem I was pointing out in going backwards is this: the species from which the “order” radiated cannot be identified from the fossil record; the species from which the “class” radiates into “orders”, etc, cannot be identified; the species from which the “phyla” radiate (the main branches) cannot be identified, and, of course, the bifurcating trunks (the “kingdoms”) cannot be identified.

    True, we can’t point to a specific fossil and say definitively that it is the common ancestor of two living organisms. It might be the brother, or the cousin, or a second cousin twice removed of the actual common ancestor. But we can infer many of the characteristics of the common ancestor, just as linguists have been able to infer characteristics of the common “ancestor” (called proto-Indo-European) of the modern Indo-European languages. And having inferred the common ancestor’s characteristics, we can search the fossil record for organisms which closely match those characteristics.

    Now, when you talk about common descent, you are presuming that these “species” existed… These are all presumed–there is no fossil evidence for them–to have existed.

    Even without any fossil evidence, the patterns of similarity and difference among living organisms would lead us to the conclusion of common descent. What we see is exactly what you’d expect to see if life is a nested hierarchy, and not what you’d expect to see if different taxa were separately created.

    I can’t stress it enough: The evidence shows that either common descent is true, or the Creator made it look as if common descent were true.

    And “nested hierarchies” point out that these “species” have not been identified, for had they been identified, then the “hierarchies” wouldn’t be “nested”, they would be “connected” by these “species”.

    PaV, you’ve misunderstood the meaning of the word “nested” in this context. A nested hierarchy is simply a hierarchy of hierarchies, like a family tree.

    Genghis Khan’s descendants form a hierarchy. It includes his children, his children’s children, and so on until you reach his living descendants.

    Each of his (many) children also has a hierarchy of descendants which is a part of Genghis Khan’s larger hierarchy of descendants. Their hierarchies are nested in his.

    At each level of the tree, there are more hierarchies to be found, until you reach the ends of the branches. That is what is meant by a “nested hierarchy”.

    As a corollary to this point, I was making the further point that a “tree of life” really doesn’t exist. It’s a figment of Darwin’s imagination, and also of our imagination, should we accept his ideas.

    It’s hard to know how to interpret that comment. Obviously, the tree of life is not a literal tree with leaves and bark and photosynthesis; it’s an abstraction. But so is a family tree.

    If common descent is true, the tree of life is just as real as your family tree. Indeed, your family tree is part of the larger tree of life (remember the nested hierarchies).

    If common descent is not true, the tree of life is not real.

    To argue that common descent is not true because the tree of life isn’t real is to get things exactly backward: you actually have to figure out whether common descent is true before you can decide whether the tree of life is real.

  133. 133

    The simple truth is that no one knows for certain how many times life originated or how many times, once present, it may have been front-loaed. All I am doing is keeping an open mind on these matters. I hope that is acceptable to all concerned.

    As for Darwin:

    “…having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one…”
    On the Origin of Species, page 490

    clearly shows an open mind on the number of creations.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  134. to Karl Pfluger:

    What common descent needs to explain, and so far has failed to explain, are the differences that are observed between allegedly related organisms. For example humans and chimps.

    If the people promoting common descent cannot do so that would be evidence against it. Or at least should count as evidence against it.

    As for this nonsense:

    Karl:
    I can’t stress it enough: The evidence shows that either common descent is true, or the Creator made it look as if common descent were true.

    Or we are just too stupid to know what the heck really happened. IOW the real possibility is that we are deceiving ourselves. Or better yet the CDists are deceiving themselves as there are many people who do not think the data points to CD nor do they think the Creator made it look that way.

    Now how about explaining the differences. The similarities are easily explained by a common design, which would also fit any NH.

  135. 135

    joseph

    I have published my explanation for what we see.
    What is your explanation for what we see?

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  136. Karl Pfluger:

    But we can infer many of the characteristics of the common ancestor, just as linguists have been able to infer characteristics of the common “ancestor” (called proto-Indo-European) of the modern Indo-European languages.

    Does anyone know with certainty that such a proto-Indo-European language actually existed? Or, again, as in Darwinism, is it simply a surmise?

    Even without any fossil evidence, the patterns of similarity and difference among living organisms would lead us to the conclusion of common descent.

    Well, I don’t think we can safely go that far. Similarities and differences demonstrate that biological life shares suggest common elements and components; but, in the absence of a “family tree”, there still remains a small measure of conjecture in any conclusion of common descent.

    What we see is exactly what you’d expect to see if life is a nested hierarchy, and not what you’d expect to see if different taxa were separately created.

    You have to ask the question that if Linnaeus, the architect of taxonomy, the science that gives us the notion of “nested hierarchies”, thought that these “nested hierarchies” disproved the idea of the creation of individual species, then why didn’t he argue against that notion during his lifetime.

    You have it backwards here. If the Creator created the progenitor of an entire phyla, class, and order, then you would have exactly what we see: a “nested hierarchy”. Michael Denton, in fact, uses this observation as an argument against Darwinism. As I’ve tried, vainly apparently, to demonstrate, this is the problem of the whole idea of a “tree of life”, the “missing links” are still missing; and what we would expect to see from the kind of divergent evolution Darwins proposes are species connecting two of these “nests” at various points. But we don’t see that.

    PaV, you’ve misunderstood the meaning of the word “nested” in this context. A nested hierarchy is simply a hierarchy of hierarchies, like a family tree.

    I understand perfectly what a nested hierarchy is.

    At each level of the tree, there are more hierarchies to be found, until you reach the ends of the branches. That is what is meant by a “nested hierarchy”.

    Don’t you remember I said that the problem comes when you go backwards from the “ends” to the larger branches. As I pointed out, they don’t connect up to anything.

    Obviously, the tree of life is not a literal tree with leaves and bark and photosynthesis; it’s an abstraction. But so is a family tree.

    Well, I suppose, technically, “family tree” is a metaphor, or an analogy. But, here is where I think you’re going wrong. We know with certainty that Genghis Khan had a father and a mother. We know with certainty that his father had a father, and his father’s father likewise had a father. Thus, there really is a “family tree” when it comes to Genghis Khan. We don’t know that about evolution. We know humans, and only humans, come from humans; we know that cats, and only cats, come from cats; we know that chickens,a nd only chickens, come from chickens. On the other hand, we have no idea if frogs can come from tiger sharks. Pure conjecture. So, the “tree of life” is pure conjecture; not an abstraction, while a “family tree” is simply a metaphor for describing something that is very real.

    To argue that common descent is not true because the tree of life isn’t real is to get things exactly backward: you actually have to figure out whether common descent is true before you can decide whether the tree of life is real.

    The point you’re missing here is that the same reason for not knowing with certainty that the “tree of life” is real, is the very same reason for not being able to conlude that “common descent” is real: the “missing links”. To believe in a “tree of life” is the same as believing in “common descent”. But you have to “believe”; you can’t know with certainty as you do when it comes to a “family tree.”

  137. 137

    To stick with the tree metaphor, the question is simply was there a tree or was it a grove or maybe a forest.?Another question was the tree(s) ever transplanted? Did the tree(s) grow from seed here or elsewhere and did any grafting take place. One thing I am certain about. The tree (s) is undergoing no new growth and many of its twigs have died. It is in bad shape!

    “A past evoution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  138. John Davison:
    I have published my explanation for what we see.

    I will read it- yes that means I haven’t yet read it.

    John Davison:
    What is your explanation for what we see?

    Our vision system has a lot to do with that (yuk, yuk, yuk- wiseguy eh?).

    I don’t rule out a special creation of some number of populations and I don’t rule out colonization from a dying civilization. To me either of those is a better fit in light of the data we do have.

    My point is we have chimps and humans alive today so we should be able to tell what caused the differences. And until we know we shouldn’t be force-feeding that pap to our kids.

  139. John,

    I’m in agreement with your last two posts. I think we see things from the same perspective. However, from theological considerations, I don’t believe in panspermia, or anything like that; and, in any event, we’re having problems with figuring out what happened to life here, let alone anything prior.

  140. “My point is we have chimps and humans alive today so we should be able to tell what caused the differences. And until we know we shouldn’t be force-feeding that pap to our kids.”

    There is a lot of research in genomics going on into exactly what causes the differences. Im not sure anyone is claiming that we know every single event.

  141. 141

    PaV

    I don’t believe in panspermia either. I just threw that in to pacify those who might. I also don’t think we will be colonizing any other planets either for the simple reason that we won’t survive long enough to develop the necessary technology. Besides, there are no other planets that we know of that could support life anyway, at least to my knowledge. It is perfectly conceivable that we are the only planet in the universe that ever could or ever will. We are sure treating this one with contempt, a view recently endorsed by Stephen Hawking as well according to my lastest copy of Discover magazine.

    It is all rather depressing if you ask me so don’t ask.

    Ernst Mach, the physicist and philosopher once suggested that the entire universe was there just so the earth could exist. I always liked that idea, but don’t ask me why.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  142. 142

    Is this the final version of Uncommon Descent’s new format? If it is ,what ever happened to the side bar where all my papers used to be? Getting my papers restored was the primary thing I was concerned about by returning here.

  143. Joseph wrote:

    What common descent needs to explain, and so far has failed to explain, are the differences that are observed between allegedly related organisms. For example humans and chimps.

    Joseph,

    What do you mean by “explaining the differences”? I can think of three possibilities:

    1. You think that the existence of differences is evidence against common descent. But this is nonsensical, because if there were no differences between chimps and humans, we’d be the same species.

    2. You don’t think that common descent advocates know of a mechanism which is capable of accounting for the differences. This is also obviously wrong, because common descent does not depend on any particular mechanism. Here’s a clue: John Davison, DaveScot and I vociferously disagree on the mechanism driving evolutionary change, yet the three of us agree on the truth of common descent. The evidence for common descent is so strong that it has convinced not only Darwinists, but many supporters of ID as well.

    3. You believe that the nature or magnitude of the differences between humans and chimps cannot be accounted for by common descent.

    In that case it is up to you to cite a particular difference or set of differences and explain why common descent is insufficient to account for them.

    Meanwhile, check out this very recent research into what, genetically, makes us uniquely human:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_.....081506.php

    Or better yet the CDists are deceiving themselves as there are many people who do not think the data points to CD nor do they think the Creator made it look that way.

    I have never encountered a denier of common descent who actually understood how many independent lines of evidence support it. They usually think that common descent is just one of many equally valid ways of “connecting the dots”, and that only an ideological bias causes people to prefer it over the others.

    They are mistaken. The evidence actually favors the common descent hypothesis over the others, by a huge statistical margin. Let me say it yet again: Either common descent is true, or different categories of organisms were created with the appearance of common descent.

    The similarities are easily explained by a common design…

    Common descent and common design do not predict the same pattern of similarities. See my computer example earlier in this thread (Sep 21 at 3:31 am ).

    Common descent predicts a nested hierarchy. Common design does not.

  144. PaV asks:

    Does anyone know with certainty that such a proto-Indo-European language actually existed? Or, again, as in Darwinism, is it simply a surmise?

    Either it actually existed, or else the Indo-European languages were separately created with an overwhelming family resemblance.

    I wrote:

    Even without any fossil evidence, the patterns of similarity and difference among living organisms would lead us to the conclusion of common descent.

    PaV responded:

    Well, I don’t think we can safely go that far. Similarities and differences demonstrate that biological life shares suggest common elements and components…

    Similarities and differences do not merely suggest common elements and components. The specific pattern of similarities and differences points toward common descent, and away from common design, as the best explanation of the evidence.

    You have to ask the question that if Linnaeus, the architect of taxonomy, the science that gives us the notion of “nested hierarchies”, thought that these “nested hierarchies” disproved the idea of the creation of individual species, then why didn’t he argue against that notion during his lifetime.

    I suspect that Linnaeus either never thought of common descent, or did but rejected it because he knew of no plausible driving mechanism. Remember, he died a full 80 years before Darwin and Wallace published the idea of natural selection.

    Interestingly, Linnaeus applied his nested hierarchy scheme to minerals as well as living things. He apparently believed that the nested hierarchy was a common scheme used by the Creator throughout creation.

    Scientists rejected his mineral classification hierarchy because it didn’t work. Nested hierarchical schemes don’t work well with objects that are not the product of descent with modification, as my earlier computer example illustrates.

    what we would expect to see from the kind of divergent evolution Darwins proposes are species connecting two of these “nests” at various points. But we don’t see that.

    You seem to be misunderstanding nested hierarchies again. One nested sub-hierarchy connects to another non-overlapping sub-hierarchy via at most a single point, not various points as you claim.

    I understand perfectly what a nested hierarchy is.

    Your statement above suggests otherwise, as does the false distinction you drew earlier between “nested” and “connected” hierarchies.

    …there really is a “family tree” when it comes to Genghis Khan. We don’t know that about evolution.

    We do know it, in the same way that we “know” there’s been an accident, involving a vehicle, when we see skid marks on the highway leading to a huge dent in the guardrail.

    Are we 100.0% certain? No. There’s a tiny chance that they might have been left by a clever hoaxer trying to create the illusion of a past accident. Similarly, we can never be 100.0% certain about the tree of life, because it might be an illusion (whether intentional or not) brought about by the Creator. (For that matter, we can’t be certain about the reality of Genghis Khan’s ancestral tree, either. It’s possible (although again highly unlikely) that he was created ab initio. Science deals in probabilities, not certainties. When we say something is factual, we really mean that it is so probable that we can safely neglect the alternatives.

    PaV to John Davison:

    …from theological considerations, I don’t believe in panspermia, or anything like that…

    I suspect that these same theological considerations are fueling your resistance to the idea of common descent. May I respectfully suggest letting the evidence shape your theology, rather than vice-versa? A premature commitment to a particular ideology is likely to blind one to the truth.

  145. 145

    Karl Pfluger

    I am committed to no ideology. I have no respect for ideology of any sort. That is why I get banned so much. There is plenty of reason to question common descent and certainly no proof for it. There are a great many huge unexplained gaps which existed right at the very beginning, gaps for which I can’t even imagine intermediate or transitional forms. Neither can anyone else. I am confident the matter will one day be resolved if the earth lasts long enough which is problematical if you ask me so don’t ask.

    It sure won’t be resolved on internet forums.

    It is Karl Pfluger that has the ideology. He lectures us demanding we accept a monophyletic evolution when there is not a shred of evidence that it must be so and all kinds of reasons to question it. Just because it seems to him to be the best explanation means absoloutely nothing, especially when to me it seems most unlikely if you know what I mean.

    I also happen not to believe that science deals in probabilities either. Science deals with certainties which have only to be disclosed. Like Einstein, I too have no respect for such philosophical notions because that is exactly what they are.

    “Ascertainable truth is partial, piecemeal, uncertain and difficult.”
    Bertrand Russell

    but ascertainable nevertheless.

    “Men believe most what they least understand.”
    Montaigne

    “He that I am reading seems always to have the most force.”
    ibid

    “Study Nature not books.”
    Louis Agassiz

    Incidentally, natural selection had absolutely nothing to do with speciation or any other aspect of creative evolution. Neither did allelic mutation nor sexual reproduction nor extensive periods of time. Those are not surmises but experimentally verified hard cold facts which remain in complete accord with the fossil record. To continue to ignore these realities, as the Darwinians continue to do, is scandalous.

    If the gradual accumulation of mutations had any role in evolution it would have been experimentally demonstrated years ago. It is just one more illusion generated by a mentality unable to see what some of us have always been able to see. Phylogeny, like ontogeny has never been a random matter. Ontogeny, which is all that is left is the perfect model for phylogeny.

    “Neither in the one nor in the other is there room for chance.”
    Leo Berg, Nomogenesis, page 134

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  146. “Common descent predicts a nested hierarchy. Common design does not. ”

    I’m afraid I don’t buy that common decent (darwinian or otherwise) predicts nested higherarchies. It is compatable with them, but they do not necessarily follow. For example, if there were not clear boundaries between species, orders, phyla, and so on, if the different types of existing animals all kind of merged into one another (like ring species, but on a larger scale) we would no longer have nested higherachies, but it would not falsify common descent. If anything it would support it even more strongly than nested higherachies.

    You might be interested in checking out Ashby Camp’s Critque of 29 Evidences for Macroevolution. http://www.trueorigin.org/theobald1a.asp

    “I have never encountered a denier of common descent who actually understood how many independent lines of evidence support it.”

    I prefer to think of myself as more of a sceptic of common decent than a denier. :) But seriously, would you care to tell me what these independant lines of evidence are? Are they different from the 29 evidences for macroevolution? Are you talking about bare common decent, or neo-darwinian common decent?

  147. Karl Pfluger:

    You seem to be misunderstanding nested hierarchies again. One nested sub-hierarchy connects to another non-overlapping sub-hierarchy via at most a single point, not various points as you claim.

    I suppose it’s impossible for you to misunderstand something, right? Well, you don’t seem to understand what you’re saying. You have no basis for saying, “one nested sub-hierarchy connects to another non-overlapping sub-hierarchy via at most a single point, not various points as you claim.” How do you know that? How do you know if it was one point, or ten points, or a hundred points. You don’t know, and no one else knows, because the fossil record is silent about these connections. You seem to not understand the words “missing links”. And this point, what is it? Is it some mathematical entity, some abstract notion of space? What is it? Well, you know very well that it has to represent some “species”–of which the fossil record is silent. Just because you don’t like the implications are of the “missing links”, the implications are nonetheless there. I’m getting a little tired of you saying that I’m the one who misunderstands this and that. Maybe it’s you.

    Are we 100.0% certain? No. There’s a tiny chance that they might have been left by a clever hoaxer trying to create the illusion of a past accident. Similarly, we can never be 100.0% certain about the tree of life, because it might be an illusion (whether intentional or not) brought about by the Creator.

    Karl, you’re a know-it-all, who, like all know-it-alls doesn’t know as much as they think.

    There’s plenty of ways for an accident to happen; there’s only one way–at least until scientists of our age began their mischief–for a human to be born. This is an inapt example.

    And I don’t care to discuss this with you any longer since you’ve demonstrated an inability for true critical thinking.

  148. John Davison writes:

    [Karl] lectures us demanding we accept a monophyletic evolution when there is not a shred of evidence that it must be so and all kinds of reasons to question it.

    I’m not demanding that you accept anything, John. Believe what you like. But don’t expect me to soft-pedal the evidence on account of your personal skepticism.

    John Davison:

    Science deals with certainties which have only to be disclosed.

    Two sentences later, John quotes Bertrand Russell:

    Ascertainable truth is partial, piecemeal, uncertain and difficult.

  149. StephenA remarks:

    I’m afraid I don’t buy that common decent (darwinian or otherwise) predicts nested higherarchies. It is compatable with them, but they do not necessarily follow. For example, if there were not clear boundaries between species, orders, phyla, and so on, if the different types of existing animals all kind of merged into one another (like ring species, but on a larger scale) we would no longer have nested higherachies, but it would not falsify common descent.

    Stephen,
    Interesting point. True, if reproductive isolation didn’t exist, then life would not appear to be a nested hierarchy. So you are correct to say that common descent by itself does not predict the appearance of a nested hierarchy.

    Another factor is the rate of evolutionary change. If the rate of beneficial mutations were rapid relative to the lifespan of an organism, the phylogenetic information would be “washed out” and we would not be able to construct a nested hierarchy (I discussed this earlier in the thread).

    So my assertion should be interpreted more fully as “given conditions on Earth as we know it, common descent predicts that life should appear as a nested hierarchy.” The same cannot be said of ID.

    You might be interested in checking out Ashby Camp’s Critque of 29 Evidences for Macroevolution.

    We might as well mention the whole series, for the benefit of any readers who aren’t aware of them:

    Douglas Theobald’s “29 Evidences for Macroevolution”:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

    Ashby Camp’s critique of “29 Evidences”:
    http://www.trueorigin.org/theobald1a.asp

    Theobald’s response to Camp’s critique: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/camp.html

    But seriously, would you care to tell me what these independant lines of evidence are?

    Glad to. The most compelling evidence for common descent, to me, is the amazingly strong statistical congruence between phylogenetic trees derived from different characters, both morphological and molecular. If common design, and not common descent, were true, you would not expect this congruence. The designer would have no reason to constrain himself to a pattern matching that of a single common phylogenetic tree, unless (for some unfathomable reason) he wanted to cover his tracks and create the appearance of common descent.

    Theobald discusses the evidence here in “Consilience of independent phylogenies”:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faq.....onvergence

    Here he compares the stunning congruence of independent phylogenetic trees to the relative imprecision of the measured value of various physical constants:

    Speaking quantitatively, independent morphological and molecular measurements such as these have determined the standard phylogenetic tree, as shown in Figure 1, to better than 38 decimal places…To put the significance of this incredible confirmation in perspective, consider the modern theory of gravity. Both Newton’s Theory of Universal Gravitation and Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity rely upon a fundamental physical constant, G, the gravitational constant. If these theories of gravity are correct, independent methods should determine similar values for G. However, to date, very precise independent measurements of the gravitational constant G disagree by nearly 1% (Kestenbaum 1998; Quinn 2000)… Nevertheless, a precision of just under 1% is still pretty good; it is not enough, at this point, to cause us to cast much doubt upon the validity and usefulness of modern theories of gravity. However, if tests of the theory of common descent performed that poorly, different phylogenetic trees, as shown in Figure 1, would have to differ by 18 of the 30 branches! In their quest for scientific perfection, some biologists are rightly rankled at the obvious discrepancies between some phylogenetic trees (Gura 2000; Patterson et al. 1993; Maley and Marshall 1998). However, as illustrated in Figure 1, the standard phylogenetic tree is known to 38 decimal places, which is a much greater precision than that of even the most well-determined physical constants. For comparison, the charge of the electron is known to only seven decimal places, the Planck constant is known to only eight decimal places, the mass of the neutron, proton, and electron are all known to only nine decimal places, and the universal gravitational constant has been determined to only three decimal places.

  150. 150

    You left out “but ascertainable nevertheless.”

    That is par for the Darwimpian course.

    Judging from your comments here you are just another garden variety, probability intoxicated worshipper of the Great God Chance. They are a dime a dozen. Their altar consists of a roulette wheel flanked by a pair of giant fuzzy dice. There are tens of thousands of them. Like lemmings they march behind their leader, Richard Dawkins, to certain oblivion as they tumble over the cliffs of reason and objectivity into the sea below.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

    “Never in the history of mankind have so many owed so little to so many.”
    after Winston Churchill

    You can’t turn over a rock but there is another Darwimp staring up at you, grinning with what Pierre Grasse called “Olympian assurance.”
    It’s disgusting.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  151. PaV,

    How can we have an intelligent discussion if each of us doesn’t point out where, and why, we think the other is mistaken? Read the thread again — you’ve certainly shown no hesitation in contradicting me or declaring me wrong. Why am I not entitled to suggest that you’ve misunderstood something?

    I think you may be a little too thin-skinned for this blog. Being challenged to support your views is obviously not congenial to your temperament. Perhaps you’d be happier if you left the thrust and parry to others who aren’t threatened by it.

  152. 152

    Whatever happened to my rebuttal to Karl Pfluger. It was one of my better efforts.

  153. John,

    Your comment was in the spam bucket. I’m not sure which forbidden word triggered it this time. Probably something to do with c asinos.

  154. 154

    Thanks. I was getting paranoid again or is it still?

  155. 155

    Karl Pfluger

    One can’t even insult Darwinians. Like nearly all pure white cats they are stone deaf to any deviation from their rabid litany of unverified assumptions upon which the Darwinian fairy tale has always miraculously teetered, supported by not a scintilla of experimental science and in perfect defiance of ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING in the fossil record. You are the perfect Darwinian mystic, reciting the Darwinian creed with ritual monotony, oblivious to the revelations being revealed by the experimental laboratories of the world, not one of which will ever be reconciled with the Darwinian hoax, and every one of which still remains in perfect accord with the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis.

    “Science commits suicide when she adopts a creed.”
    Thomas Henry Huxley

    NeoDarwinism is the slowest yet surest form of intellectual suicide in the history of mankind. It has taken far longer than either Communism or Freudian Psychology.

    “Marx, Darwin and Freud are the three most crashing bores of the Western World.”
    William Golding

    Incidentaly, Huxley’s aphorism is the sole frontispiece to Leo Berg’s Nomogenesis, without question the single most significant evolutionary work ever published.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  156. 156

    Karl Pfluger

    Pav has altready made a fool out of you. Why don’t you take me on now?

    As I used to say over at EvC before Percy couldn’t take it any more and banned me for life -

    Who is next?

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. (Your stench has preceded you*) Davison

    * courtesy of P.Z. Meyers

  157. First I will state that common design most certainly does predict NH. If Karl P thinks it does not it is up to him to tell us why. I can think of several reasons why common design would predict NH.

    Karl P:
    What do you mean by “explaining the differences”?

    NH explains the similarities, which can be explained by common design.

    Karl P:
    I can think of three possibilities:

    1. You think that the existence of differences is evidence against common descent. But this is nonsensical, because if there were no differences between chimps and humans, we’d be the same species.

    That thought never crossed my mind. Next-

    2. You don’t think that common descent advocates know of a mechanism which is capable of accounting for the differences. This is also obviously wrong, because common descent does not depend on any particular mechanism. Here’s a clue: John Davison, DaveScot and I vociferously disagree on the mechanism driving evolutionary change, yet the three of us agree on the truth of common descent. The evidence for common descent is so strong that it has convinced not only Darwinists, but many supporters of ID as well.

    The evidence for common descent is strong only to those who already accept it.

    3. You believe that the nature or magnitude of the differences between humans and chimps cannot be accounted for by common descent.

    I know that no one knows what caused the differences. I know we don’t even know what makes a human- well human. IOW we don’t know what makes an organism what it is beyond the following:

    What makes a fly a fly? In his book (English title) “Why is a Fly not a Horse?”, the prominent Italian geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti, tells us the following :

    Chapter VI “Why is a Fly not a horse?” (same as the book’s title)

    ”The scientist enjoys a privilege denied the theologian. To any question, even one central to his theories, he may reply “I’m sorry but I do not know.” This is the only honest answer to the question posed by the title of this chapter. We are fully aware of what makes a flower red rather than white, what it is that prevents a dwarf from growing taller, or what goes wrong in a paraplegic or a thalassemic. But the mystery of species eludes us, and we have made no progress beyond what we already have long known, namely, that a kitty is born because its mother was a she-cat that mated with a tom, and that a fly emerges as a fly larva from a fly egg.”

    Karl P:
    In that case it is up to you to cite a particular difference or set of differences and explain why common descent is insufficient to account for them.

    Again? Try upright bipedal walking. That will do for starters. Then read the following site and try to account for the others:

    Chimps become Human?

    We also know that although genes may influence every aspect of development they do NOT determine it.

    Karl P:
    Let me say it yet again: Either common descent is true, or different categories of organisms were created with the appearance of common descent.

    And I will say it again- you are full of it. Why can I say that with the utmost confidence? Because of what Dr Sermonti tells us.

  158. Joseph: “First I will state that common design most certainly does predict NH.”

    Lets look at an example. Consider the other great “development” experiment — technology. When we examine, say the transportation tree we see a reasonable nested hierarchy. However, we see glaring exceptions. We see the airplain branch, the car branch, the truck branch, the bycicle branch etc., a nice nested hierarchy. However, when we look at specifics: electronics, materials, tires, etc., we see an incredible amount of crosstalk between the various branches.

    Both convergence and HGT have that “look” of “this isn’t a nested hierarchy”, more resembling what we see in the heierarchy of man’s technology. The reality, however, is that HGT is a fairly rare phenomenon amongst the multi-cellular forms, and convergence has less of a similarity to what we see in man’s technology than HGT does.

    Bottom line, while common design can produce a nested hierarchy, it certainly doesn’t need to. However, the phenomenons of HGT and of convergence point a finger, possibly too short of a finger, in a direction more compatible with common design than with a simple nested hierarchy.

  159. Can I say something that might lower the temperature on this discussion of common descent? My best friend is of the Christian Science faith. He is truly the neatest person I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in my life. He’s never been to a physician and he’s 65 years old and in fantastic shape. He flat denies any kind of materialistic world view, especially any link between the brain and the mind. To him, Darwin was most certainly wrong. We’ve been on a number of rigorous backpacking and climbing trips over the past 30 years or so. We’ve spent many, many nights talking science and theology around a blazing camp fire. The Jew and Christian Scientist. And to top it all off, my wife is an attending psychiatrist at a university hospital (treating very ill people). She draws links between the mind and the brain all day long, a link my friend doesn’t even think exists. Yet we’ve had my friend and his wife over for dinner numerous times. I’ve learned alot from my friend and I’ve learned alot from those who deny common descent on this thread. Common descent sure looks like a reality to me, but hell’s bells, I’ve been around long enough to know that it could be false or at least partially false. So, relax. If my Christian Science friend and I can be civil, all of us surely can be too.

  160. Karl Pfluger:

    I think you may be a little too thin-skinned for this blog. Being challenged to support your views is obviously not congenial to your temperament. Perhaps you’d be happier if you left the thrust and parry to others who aren’t threatened by it.

    The problem, I’m afraid, is not that I’m thin-skinned, but that you’re thick-skulled. I’ve pointed out, time and again, where you’re going wrong in your thinking, and it doesn’t slow you down one bit. I’m simply tired trying to point it out to you. You’re either unable, or unwilling, to see it. I think, as John Davison pointed out, that your whole-hearted devotion to Darwinism doesn’t permit you to see the glaring deficiencies that exist in the Darwinian explanation. So, if you like, you can re-read my posts and perhaps see something new there, or you can drop the whole thing altogether. I’m simply not willing to repeat myself over and over again. Three times is plenty enough. Ciao!

  161. Pav:

    I’ve pointed out, time and again, where you’re going wrong in your thinking, and it doesn’t slow you down one bit. I’m simply tired trying to point it out to you. You’re either unable, or unwilling, to see it.

    Pav, the process of working out truth is a much slower process than you seem to realize. People dont, nor should they, recognize you as a divine authority. You present a case that is totally convincing to you, but that doesn’t mean that it is very convincing at all to someone else.

    If you developed a lot more respect for other people’s views, allowing others to be wrong and dense (at least in your eyes), you would find getting along with others to be much easier. I highly recommend that you read Barrett1′s post #159, and understand what he is saying. If you can stand allowing another person to continue to have a view that is different from yours, your blood pressure will be much lower.

  162. Joseph wrote:

    First I will state that common design most certainly does predict NH. If Karl P thinks it does not it is up to him to tell us why.

    My computer example shows you why, as does bFast’s transportation example.

    EvoWiki explains it thus (in their short “nested hierarchy” article):

    “Nested hierarchy” refers to the way taxonomic groups fit neatly and completely inside other taxonomic groups. For instance, all bats (order Chiroptera) are mammals. All mammals are vertebrates. Likewise, all whales (order Cetacea) are also mammals, and thus also vertebrates.

    While it might seem that this arrangement is obvious and unavoidable, it is not. Taxonomic groups are defined by traits and it should be possible to mix traits from multiple defined groups. An example from classical mythology is the Pegasus, a creature with features defined as both mammal and bird (class Aves). Mammals and birds are both orders, so, if pegasus existed, it would be a violation of the nested hierarchy, a creature that belonged to two seperate groups.

    It is not always possible to define a nested hierarchy for any arbitrarily selected set of items. For instance, motor vehicles do not show conservation of traits to single taxonomic groups, no matter how you choose to define your taxonomy. Whether a car has air-conditioning is completely independent of whether it has power-steering, for example. Life, however, shows a clear nested hierarchy, at least with regards to multicellular organisms. Why should this be?

    The most obvious explanation for the observed nested hierarchy of taxonomic categories is evolution. In fact, a nested hierarchy is the almost inevitable result of descent with modification, if no transfer of traits between branches of descent is possible.

    To predict a nested hierarchy, common design would have to disallow the mixing and matching of components from unrelated organisms. It does not. The designer is free to use aardvark proteins in beetles, or to stick a marsupial pouch on a gopher. If common design is true, then the designer is choosing to avoid this mixing and matching. It is not predicted by common design.

  163. Karl, your argument closing almost seems from incredulity – but not quite – rather, from inconcievability!

    How is it that common design cannot ‘predict’ nested hierarchies? Moreover, if you look at the core of life, aren’t there at least two commonalities: Carbon and DNA? The same root material and type of code is everywhere.

    So, if the designer choosing to avoid mixing and matching taxa is evidence against design is the the lack thereof at the genetic level evidence for design?

  164. PaV,

    Rereading the thread, I can’t see any way in which I’ve neglected to address the points you raised.

    But since you keep bringing up the “missing links”, I’ll assume that you’re unsatisfied with my explanation of why we can’t point to a particular fossil and declare it ancestral to a pair of living species.

    Richard Dawkins, of course, puts it more eloquently than I could:

    It is theoretically conceivable that a particular fossil really is the direct ancestor of some modern animal. But it is statistically unlikely, because the tree of evolution is not a Christmas tree or a Lombardy poplar, but a densely branched thicket or bush. The fossil you are looking at probably isn’t your ancestor, but it may help you to understand the kind of intermediate stage your real ancestors went through, at least in respect of some particular bit of the body, such as the ear, or the pelvis. A fossil, therefore, has something like the same status as a modern animal. Both can be used to illuminate our guesses about some ancestral stage. Under normal circumstances, neither should be treated as though it really is ancestral. Fossils as well as living creatures are usually best treated as cousins, not ancestors.

    You may wish to call the ancestors “missing links” because we have no fossil specimens. But don’t conflate the absence of fossils with the absence of ancestors. The pattern of similarity and difference in living organisms alone leads us to the conclusion of common descent (with some HGT exceptions among unicellular lifeforms, as bFast pointed out). Fossils are just a bonus.

  165. todd wrote:

    Karl, your argument closing almost seems from incredulity – but not quite – rather, from inconcievability!

    Hi Todd,
    I can see where you would get that impression. But I actually don’t think it is inconceivable. How could we tell the difference between common descent being true, and the designer fooling us into believing that common descent were true? The evidence would be exactly the same in both cases (assuming the designer was skilled at deception).

    That’s why I’ve said throughout the thread that the evidence gives us two choices: Either common descent is true, or the designer made it look that way by choosing a nested hierarchy out of all the zillions of possible patterns.

    How is it that common design cannot ‘predict’ nested hierarchies?

    When we say that a theory ‘predicts’ x, we mean that if the theory is true, then x is true. But common design can be true even if we don’t see a nested hierarchy, as the EvoWiki excerpt in one of my previous comments demonstrated. Therefore, common design does not predict a nested hierarchy.

    Moreover, if you look at the core of life, aren’t there at least two commonalities: Carbon and DNA? The same root material and type of code is everywhere.

    Yes, but it’s not the existence of commonalities that is incompatible with a nested hierarchy. You have to look at the pattern of the commonalities and dissimilarities.

    So, if the designer choosing to avoid mixing and matching taxa is evidence against design is the the lack thereof at the genetic level evidence for design?

    The lack of mixing and matching or the lack of choosing to avoid mixing and matching? Sorry, but I’m not sure I understand the question. If you’re asking whether a common DNA code is evidence for common design over common descent, the answer is no, because common descent does not preclude the sharing of traits among all organisms in the tree, as long as the patterns of difference and similarity follow the nested hierarchy arrangement.

    On the other hand, if you’re asking whether horizontal gene transfer is evidence for design, I’d say the answer is no. Common design neither predicts nor precludes a nested hierarchy, so the presence or absence of cross-connections between sub-branches cannot decide the issue.

  166. “We might as well mention the whole series, for the benefit of any readers who aren’t aware of them:

    Douglas Theobald’s “29 Evidences for Macroevolution”:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

    Ashby Camp’s critique of “29 Evidences”:
    http://www.trueorigin.org/theobald1a.asp

    Theobald’s response to Camp’s critique: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/camp.html

    You didn’t give the whole series. Here’s Camp’s reply to Theobald’s response to Camp’s critique.
    http://www.trueorigin.org/ca_ac_01.asp

    From your EvoWiki quote: “While it might seem that this arrangement is obvious and unavoidable, it is not. Taxonomic groups are defined by traits and it should be possible to mix traits from multiple defined groups. An example from classical mythology is the Pegasus, a creature with features defined as both mammal and bird (class Aves). Mammals and birds are both orders, so, if pegasus existed, it would be a violation of the nested hierarchy, a creature that belonged to two seperate groups. ”

    So would it be a violation of your nested higherachy prediction if there existed, say, a mammal that lays eggs?

    “To predict a nested hierarchy, common design would have to disallow the mixing and matching of components from unrelated organisms. It does not. The designer is free to use aardvark proteins in beetles, or to stick a marsupial pouch on a gopher. If common design is true, then the designer is choosing to avoid this mixing and matching. It is not predicted by common design. ”

    Your gopher comment puzzles me. You seem to be saying ‘If there was a common designer, why didn’t he stick pouches on animals that, apart from the pouches, are very different?’ Why didn’t the designer put pouches on animals as different as koalas, echidnas, and kangaroos?

  167. (off topic)

    Guess what country I’m from.

  168. After some more thought it seems to me that what Karl is saying is that there are nested higherarchies, and then there are nested higherachies. That is, both common decent and common design can be said to predict nested higherarchies, but different kinds of nested higherarchies.

    from the EvoWiki quote: “The most obvious explanation for the observed nested hierarchy of taxonomic categories is evolution. In fact, a nested hierarchy is the almost inevitable result of descent with modification, if no transfer of traits between branches of descent is possible.”

    From this and other things Karl has posted it seems that the difference between the ‘common desent nested higherarchy’ and the ‘common designer nested higherarchy’ is that in the latter case we would expect to see similarities that are independant of common ancestry. If common design were true then we should see things like surprisingly similar eyes in cephelpods (sp?) and mammals even though their common ancestor had eyes that were vastly different. there is a word for this. The word is convergence.

    It seems then that what Karl is saying, is that common design predicts convergence, while common ancestry does not.
    I’m afraid I can’t find a way to disagree with you Karl. Your logic is flawless. ;)

  169. Karl Pfluger:

    But since you keep bringing up the “missing links”, I’ll assume that you’re unsatisfied with my explanation of why we can’t point to a particular fossil and declare it ancestral to a pair of living species. . . . But don’t conflate the absence of fossils with the absence of ancestors.

    You’ve failed to concede what is a legitimate point: namely, that without direct evidence of ancestry, there is no “conclusive” proof of common descent. In fact, in the second of the coupled quotes above, you get things backwards. You say, “Don’t conflate the absence of fossils with absence of ancestors.” Instead, what you should have written is: “In the absence of fossils, don’t hastily conclude that the ancestors were there.”

    John Davison picked up on this distinction immediately.

    When you’re talking about humans descending from humans, say, for example, in the particular case of John Kennedy, we might not know–ever know–who his great, great, great, great………great grandfather is. But, with certainty, we can conclude that he descended from humans. In this case, the absence of known ancestors does not get in the way of concluding that he had human ancestors. However, when you make the Darwinian assumption that humans are descended from apes, without direct evidence of a linkage–you remember, all those intermediate forms that Darwin was so sure would turn up in the fossil record!–one can only conclude conditionally that common descent, i.e., the apes-to-man scenario, took place. This is a chink in the armor for Darwinism–and you seem to resist it mightly because of fear (I suppose) of its effects on the overall Darwinian argument. Nevertheless, logic requires that we not conclude with certainty that common descent actually occurred in the absence of fossil intermediates. The “missing links” are still missing, however inconvenient that is for Darwinian logic.

    As to the physical and molecular similarities, a ski chalet, a ranch house, and a home in Los Angeles, are all made with a lot of the same materials. Now inanimate objects are very different than biological objects; they’re, let us say, static, versus the dynamic nature of biological building blocks. Nonetheless, building blocks are building blocks. And just as designers use the same kinds of available materials to construct very differently designed homes, the argument from design would more than likely, if not certainly, result in the differences and similarities that we see. In other words, these similarities and differences “prove” nothing. They’re not sufficient proof.

  170. StephanA, “It seems then that what Karl is saying, is that common design predicts convergence, while common ancestry does not.”

    Oh my, Karl is by no means saying that. Further, common descent does predict some convergence. For instance, the similarities in the streamlined shape of fish and whales is absolutely predicted by NDE.

    However, I challenge that there are a growing list of examples of convergences that are a bit on the “common design” side of the debate. My favorites are first, well, the panda’s thumb. The greater and lesser panda both have an extended wrist bone which functions as a thumb. This similarity of feature lead to a lot of taxonomical confusion. Scientists were convinced that the pandas had to have had a common ancestor. Turns out the greater panda is a bear and the lesser is a raccoon (I think).

    The second is the placental shark. Yup, a shark that bears live young, complete with a placenta and an ambilical cord.

    Though examples like these are not by any means as rich as the examples of crosstalk in human engineering, they are, as far as I can see, well beyond what NDE would account for.

  171. Stephen,

    Your last two sentences were perfect. Now if you had only cut the rest of the comment…

    Serious response to follow later. First I need to get some work done.

    P.S. How are gas (petrol) prices? I may be doing a motorcycle tour there this (your) summer.

  172. StehenA:

    It seems then that what Karl is saying, is that common design predicts convergence, while common ancestry does not.
    I’m afraid I can’t find a way to disagree with you Karl. Your logic is flawless.

    How is it that Darwinists complain that we don’t know who the Designer is, so we can’t possibly know anything about how he designs, yet you seem to know exactly how design–common design–is supposed to work. You say, “perfectly logical”, and yet make a thunderous blunder in logic by assuming you know exactly how design will take place–apparently there’s only one way it can take place, and apparently it MUST result in convergence, so that the cephlepod eye and the mammalian eye prove that dissimilarities can’t happen if design is at work. Please, tell me, on what rule of logic is this based?

    Sorry, this won’t work. And, when convergence is seen, as bFast points out in his post, it points to design.

  173. Uh, PaV…

    StephenA is a skeptic of common descent. He’s arguing for your side.

    He was being ironic when he said my logic was flawless.

  174. “Further, common descent does predict some convergence. For instance, the similarities in the streamlined shape of fish and whales is absolutely predicted by NDE.”

    Bit of a disconnect there. Common descent is not the same thing as NDE. But since Karl seems to be arguing that the evidence supports NDE rather than plain common descent (which is compatable with ID) it doesn’t really hurt your point.

    Also I note your use of the word ‘some’ (“common descent does predict some convergence”). Apparently there is convergence, and then there is convergence. :)
    Taking this into account, it would then seem that that common design predicts all kinds of convergence, while NDE only predicts some kinds. The questions then become: What kind of convergence does NDE predict? and: What kind(s) are found? Since Karl is the NDE supporter, I guess I’d better let him say what it predicts.

    BTW, I would include marsupials as an example of ‘crosstalk like convergence’.

    Good to see that you have a sense of humor Karl. It can really help keep these discussions civil. I’m afraid petrol prices have been rather high for a while ($1.30 per litre).

    PaV: I was not actually arguing that the designer would have designed a certain way (well, I would say that he wouldn’t, and didn’t, design things so they would look like they came from common descent. If he did, he did a lousy job :) ). It was Karl who first made that claim. I was just using his logic against him, hence my ironic claim that his logic was flawless.

  175. The fact remains that people can and do place objects that are man-made and do not share a common ancester, into NH.

    A common design- not any design- but a common design would allow for NH. If we didn’t observe NH then the design wouldn’t be common. Design still could be true but common design wouldn’t be inferred.

    Common descent doesn’t predict NH, it accomodates it. There isn’t any reason that common descent wouldn’t allow the mixing of traits. If we saw that it wouldn’t falsify common descent.

    Now how about talking about those differences. Ya know what common descent has not and cannot explain…

  176. StephenA:

    It was Karl who first made that claim. I was just using his logic against him, hence my ironic claim that his logic was flawless.

  177. Don’ t know why something got cut off, but it did.

    Underneath the above quote I wrote something to the effect:

    “Sorry. I hadn’t been following your discussion closely. I should have read some more before commenting.”

  178. 178

    Boy has this thread ever gone to the dogs – what a monumental waste of my further participation.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

  179. 179

    This thread was intiated by DaveScot on September 19th. In the introdyctory message he asks the reader to consult my papers on the side bar. What side bar and what papers, or am I missing something again?

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

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