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Orthodox Darwinists Spanked in New U.S. Poll

Darwin smacked in new U.S. poll

Whopping 69 percent of Americans want alternate theories in classroom.

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28 Responses to Orthodox Darwinists Spanked in New U.S. Poll

  1. Can anyone name a single scientific discipline that was first taught to high school kids before a single peer review paper was published on the subject? A quick look through through the bibliography any of my science texts from any discipline (geology, biology, chemistry, etc.) shows me that every single topic saw hundreds or thousands of peer reviewed papers in the literature before it filtered down to the high school level. Why should ID be given a pass here?

    Here’s a list of some peer reviewed ID material. So you are wrong about there being no published papers. (strike one)

    The biggest problem is that any editor who dares let an ID article be published risks a severe sternberging and any scientists who write them put their career at risk of being davisoned. I have received emails from biology PhDs identifying themselves as commenters here using pseudonyms because they’re afraid of what will happen if they attach their real names to ID sympathetic writing.

    Regardless of the above ID should be given a pass if a duly elected regulatory body in charge of curriculum at any given school decides it should be part of the curriculum. We live in a democracy, sir, and that’s how things work here. (strike two).

    Three strikes and you’re out so I’d put a little more thought and research into your next comment if you want to continue participating here. -ds

  2. It doesn’t say “alternate theories”. It says “evidence for and against”. But what is the evidence against evolution? Is there really any evidence against evolution? Can you give any examples? What do you want to be taught to students as evidence against evolution?

    Here are the percentages from the actual poll:


    Three-fourths of respondents (77%) agree that when Darwin’s theory of evolution is taught
    in school, students should also be able to learn about scientific evidence that points to an intelligent
    design of life. Furthermore, a majority (51%) agrees strongly. In comparison, one in five (19%)
    disagrees with the statement.

    You ask what is the evidence against evolution. That’s the wrong question. The right question is what is the evidence against NeoDarwinian macro-evolution i.e. random mutation plus natural selection as the mechanism that morphed bacteria into baboons. The evidence against that is a more properly a total lack of evidence for it. No one has ever observed random mutation plus natural selection acting to create a novel cell type, tissue type, organ, or body plan. The fossil record is a record of saltation – new species suddenly appearing fully formed followed by a long period of stasis then extinction. Where then is the evidence that random mutation plus natural selection is responsible for all the milestone events (new cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans) in evolutionary history? RM+NS in prehistory is a gross extrapolation of minor variation that has actually been observed. It’s an argument from ignorance literally “if not random mutation plus natural selection then what else could it be”. Most people reasonably and rightly object to arguments from ignorance being taught in an uncritical manner in the absence of any contrarian ideas.

  3. “Regardless of the above ID should be given a pass if a duly elected regulatory body in charge of curriculum at any given school decides it should be part of the curriculum. We live in a democracy, sir, and that’s how things work here.”

    I think this comes close to an “is-ought” fallacy. It is true that a process exists by which ID may become part of the curriculum, and that process is probably what most would accept as part of a democratic society. Since we generally want to behave democratically, it could be said that if a school board (or other body) votes to put ID (or any other subject) into the curriculum, then it ‘should’ be there.

    However, there is a different sense of ‘should’ at play here: the same sense of ‘should’ that would be used by the school board when debating the issue before the vote. Whether a school board member votes for or against a proposal is determined by what he or she thinks ‘should’ be in the curriculum. That notion cannot itself be based on democratic vote, or we would be stuck in a vicious circle.

    Asking whether ID (or any other subject) should be included in a curriculum is not the same as asking if ID (or any other subject) should be included in a curriculum if the school board approves it. I think Satori was trying to ask the first, and not the second.

    First of all the questioner said should ID be “given a pass”. Since the “passes” are “given” by some regulatory body in charge of curriculum I can’t see how you can exclude that from the question and have any meaning left in the question. However, in all fairness let’s assume he meant “given a pass by the National Academy of Sciences”. To that I’d say no. The NAS is free to give out or withold whatever passes it wants. However, the NAS and all affiliations of scientists like it serve in no more than advisory capacities and their passes (or lack thereof) are not binding. -ds

  4. Somebody (maybe DaveScot) said: “No one has ever observed random mutation plus natural selection acting to create a novel cell type, tissue type, organ, or body plan.”

    These things can hapen as a result of cumulative mutations. Single mutation can form limited change. I mean it is natural that we can’t observe new organs or body plans are formed by mutations. But we know that mutations happen and they produce changes and they can produce unique structures, useful or not. And natural selection selects the useful ones.

  5. Turk — Note that ID is actually a theory of evolution. In fact so is Creationism. So when you want “for and against the theory of evolution” it really means the theory of evolution as commonly taught (Darwinism). There is ABUNDANT evidence for Darwinism not being a valid theory of evolution in the literature. Why isn’t any of this mentioned? Why aren’t the problems with Monophyly mentioned? Why isn’t it mentioned that monophyly is the result, not of evidence, but of the assumption of a specific type of origin-of-life mechanism? Even different assumptions about _naturalistic_ origins of life will lead you to disagree with monophyly.

    “These things can hapen as a result of cumulative mutations.”

    How do you know this? What evidence is there of it? Can you point to an experiment where _random_ mutations were cumulative, and a mass of them resulted in a new tissue type? If not, what reason is there to believe it? Because you said so? If you don’t have an experiment that can show it, why is it being taught as dogma in the schools?

    “But we know that mutations happen and they produce changes and they can produce unique structures, useful or not.”

    Several questions:

    1) Are these mutations random? Most mutations are the result of cell-directed processes, not blind chance.
    2) Can _random_ mutations generate enough usefulness? As a computer programmer, my answer is no. You have to remember that not only do you have to have variation, but ALL INTERMEDIATES must be STABLE FORMS. Plus, your search space is huuuuuuuuuge. I describe the details here.
    3) Have you read Davidson’s paper which shows that body plans are the result of VERY DIFFERENT change mechanisms than that of individual gene batteries? Did you note that the body plan genes, according to most developmental biologists, ARE NOT CHANGEABLE?

    —–
    We think that change in them is prohibited on pain of developmental catastrophe, both because of their internal recursive wiring and because of their roles high in the developmental network hierarchy.
    —–

    Before asserting neo-Darwinism orthodoxy, has it ever occurred to you to check out and see if the effect you seem so certain of has every really done anything of interest? If it has not, what use is it to biology?

  6. “These things can hapen as a result of cumulative mutations.”
    The Big Bang Theory does not allow for enough time for the truth of the above statement

    “Single mutation can form limited change.”
    Adaptation works this way. No amount of mutations could evolve (ie create) anything (see above).

    “I mean it is natural that we can’t observe new organs or body plans are formed by mutations.”
    You suggest that faith is required to remain a Darwinist, and even then one will never actually see Darwinist evolution occur. That is like saying Darwinism:
    – Has a mouth but speaks not
    – Has eyes but sees not
    – Has ears but hears not …
    Just like an idol.

    “But we know that mutations happen and they produce changes and they can produce unique structures, useful or not”
    Mutations happen, this we know. That they produce anything is unknown, and believable only by faith in Darwinism (see above)

    “And natural selection selects the useful ones”
    Selection requires free-will, or the power of choice. You must really define Natural Selection. You make Nature into a all-knowing all-seeing prophetic personality by claiming this.

  7. johnnyb, thank you for detailing the issue with cumulative mutations – an exhaustive treatment of that particular issue and how it relates to ID, has been long overdue.

    In fact, it merits a blog entry of it’s own.

  8. johnnyb said: “Note that ID is actually a theory of evolution. In fact so is Creationism.”

    I think ID and Creationism are theories(!!) of unevolvability. They are against evolution.

    johnnyb said: “How do you know this? What evidence is there of it? Can you point to an experiment where _random_ mutations were cumulative, and a mass of them resulted in a new tissue type? If not, what reason is there to believe it? Because you said so? If you don’t have an experiment that can show it, why is it being taught as dogma in the schools?”

    I said “these things ‘can’ happen as a result of cumulative mutations”. Isn’t everything about DNA? And mutations change DNA. If a mutation isn’t deadly, it stays in the DNA. And with new non-deadly mutations, they cumulate. Is there anything preventing (non-deadly) mutations from cumulating? We don’t need to observe a new structure forming. We know that they can form as a result of cumulative mutations.

  9. “I think ID and Creationism are theories(!!) of unevolvability. They are against evolution.”

    Then you don’t know much about ID and Creationism. Creationists believe in evolvability, just not in Universal Common Ancestry. ID’ers believe in evolvability, but a planned evolvability (Creationists often agree with this, too). Many evolutionists have said that the definition of evolution is “change in allele frequency over time”. I don’t know of any Creationist or evolutionist who don’t think that this has happened.

    For instance, Creationists believe that, for many organisms, the “family” level of taxonomy is the root of their ancestral tree. They believe that modern organisms have evolved from basal ones, but that such change is necessarily limitted. A specific model of this change is documented here:

    http://www.grisda.org/origins/54005.pdf
    http://www.nwcreation.net/arti.....eview.html

    A common ID proposition is that evolution proceeds according to a plan, just like ontogeny. For information on this see:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/en.....med_docsum

    “Isn’t everything about DNA?”

    No, it isn’t. There is much more to a cell than its DNA. In fact, in many species, two organisms with the exact same DNA can produce wildly different forms. There is, in addition, no reason to believe that two different cells with different architectures would use a given set of DNA in exactly the same way. There are commonalities to be sure, but this “DNA only” idea is just part of the Darwinian myth.

    “If a mutation isn’t deadly, it stays in the DNA. And with new non-deadly mutations, they cumulate. Is there anything preventing (non-deadly) mutations from cumulating?”

    You are presuming that going from A to B can happen without accumulating non-deadly mutations, and within the period of time specified. I reject both those notions on algorithmic grounds (see the link in my previous comment). In addition to that, MOST NON-DELETERIOUS MUTATIONS ARE NOT RANDOM, and in addition to that, CELLS HAVE SAFEGUARDS AGAINST RANDOM MUTATIONS.

    In fact, Jerry Bergman had a great article in CRSQ about the deterioration of the genome. He showed what would happen to the genome if non-cell-directed mutations were all that natural selection had to operate on. This is fairly easy to do, since non-directed mutations are fairly easily catalogged, and most of them are one-way operations. A randomized distribution of them COULD NOT POSSIBLY lead to increase in genome complexity. If you give me your email address, I can send you the PDF of that paper privately (mine is [email protected]).

  10. Turk,

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

    That’s it. ID is perfectly compatible with evolution–even macroevolution. The only thing it challenges is the claim that all of it happened by unintelligent natural processes.

    Scientific Creationism can be linked to ID only insofar as its proponents commonly invoke ID arguments. As Johnnyb said, even Creationists believe in evolvability to a certain extent, and some even accept macroevolution.

  11. Then what are these?

    -Creation means that the various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Biology and Creation 1986, FTE 3015, p. 2-10)

    -Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact — fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1993, 2nd edition, published, pp. 99-100)

    Where is the evolution? I think these definitions refer to anti-evolution.

    Intelligent design means no such thing. Pandas and People is why we lost in Dover too. -ds

  12. -Creation means that the various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Biology and Creation 1986, FTE 3015, p. 2-10)

    -Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact — fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1993, 2nd edition, published, pp. 99-100)

    These are marginal claims. Don’t put too much stock into “Of Pandas and People”. I, for one, am not impressed with it. Even if these were central claims, though, I don’t see how they would rule out some forms of evolution.

  13. Those that say it’s an evolution versus intelligent design debate are either misinformed or trying to pull of a strawman argument. Well I’m afraid you people are talking to the wrong crowd. It’s really about material processes versus intelligence. ID does not require that one reject concepts like common descent, it merely argues that naturalism has failed to produce what it so boldly claims.

  14. My take: The poll is significant because my opinion (as a lay-person) counts just as much under the Constitution as the opinion of someone in the National Academy. Darwinists, with their elitist mentality, are trying to violate my equal protection RIGHTS under the 14th amendment and have me be ruled by those of a class not recognized in the Constitution: “scientists” (by the Academy definition)

  15. 15

    Here’s a really basic question about random mutation from a non-science person.

    Is there anything other than DNA where the random mutation could theoretically occur that could be the basis for Darwinian evolution of novel cells, etc.?

    Johnny B in comment No. 9 says “this ‘DNA only’ idea is just part of the Darwinian myth.”

    That would seem to be a ‘yes’ answer to my question. So does everyone on this blog agree that the Darwinists claim that the random mutations had to occur in the DNA?

    If some other part of cells could be the basis of such random mutation, and thus the mutation is passed down to descendants, what is that other part alleged to be?

    Thanks.

    Omne Vivo Ex Ovum (everything comes from an egg). Ostensibly, if common descent is true, there is an unbroken cell line stretching behind every living thing back to some original ancestral cell. Cells are rich in structure outside the DNA molecule and many of these structures are copied during reproduction rather than being constructed anew from instructions encoded in DNA. This method of inheritance is referred to as epigenetic. Learn more about it here. Others have pointed out that many mutations aren’t random. I’ll simply point out that random in this biological context means “unpredictable by known means” as opposed to true random chance like the rolling of fair dice. In fact no one knows for sure if anything at all in the universe is truly random. -ds

  16. For anyone thinking macro evolution has been proven, here is a little quote offered up as food for thought:

    “We know that it is impossible when confronted with a fossil, to be certain whether it is your ancestor, or the ancestor of anything else, even another fossil. We also know that adaptive scenarios are simply justifications for particular arrangements of fossils made after the fact, and which rely for their justification on authority rather than on testable hypotheses.”

    -Henry Gee, Chief Science Writer for Nature, from his 1999 book, “In Search of Deep Time”, p. 127.

  17. JohnLiljegren,

    There are many examples of evolution and changes in genome structure that do not require mutations. Gene duplication, gene conversion, and transposon mobility are a few. An even better example is endosymbiogenesis. This is where one cell literally engulfs another and keeps it as a “pet”. This is why plants can photosynthesize. Long ago, plant cells absorbed photosynthetic bacteria and now use them to harvest light energy. These are chloroplasts. Due to exchanges in genetic material, chloroplasts now rely on the host cell for many essential chloroplast genes. The same is true of mitochondria in nearly all eukaryotic cells. Finally, another example is genetic transformation by viruses and some bacteria. Agrobacteria, for example, is a plant pathogen that actually genetically transforms its host plant through illegitimate recombination and adds material to the host genome. Plant researchers routinely use disarmed strains of Agrobacteria to make transgenic plants with the target gene of their choice.

  18. 18

    Thanks Dave Scot and Satori for your responses to my comment #15.

    I am obviously in over my head—you guys don’t seem to realize I’m trying to understand this stuff without doing a lot of work. :) [that's supposed to be smiley face]

    I read [but definitely did not fully understand] the Wikipedia articles on epigenetics and randomness that Dave linked to. Dave said random “in this biological context means ‘unpredictable by known means’ as opposed to true random chance.” The Wikipedia article has the following two sentences almost back to back and they seem to give two different ideas of randomness:

    1. “The theory of evolution ascribes the observed diversity of life to random mutations which are retained in the gene pool due to the improved chances for survival and reproduction that some mutated genes confer on individuals who posses them.”

    2. “The location of each individual freckle, however, can neither be predicted by genetics nor solar exposure, and may be caused by a random element.”

    The second kind of random [location of freckles] does seem more like the randomness of dice. But why wouldn’t errors in copying DNA and the other stuff be random in the same way? If they are not random like dice or freckle location, doesn’t that imply some sort of design in the system that causes the mutation?

    Satori’s first sentence is “There are many examples of evolution and changes in genome structure that do not require mutations.”

    My question—what does that do to the random mutation plus natural selection idea? Am I misunderstanding, or does Satori’s statement “examples of evolution . . . not require mutations” conflict with the Wikipedia statement “theory of evolution ascribes the observed diversity of life to random mutations . . . ”?

    Thanks for your help.

    Random doesn’t seem different to me in the statements. Both are synonymous with “unpredictable”. Satori appears to to be talking about “random mutation” not just “mutation”. Because “random” really means “unpredictable by known means” as science gains more knowledge some things that were unpredictable become predictable. Random mutation as the source of all change is becoming more and more a misnomer. Sort of like “junk DNA” which it turns out isn’t really junk. An embarrassingly poor choice of words is what they both are. -ds

  19. In comment 1, Dave states, “We live in a democracy….”

    This may be the watered-down drivel taught in school these days, but it isn’t the truth. The United States of America is not now, has never been, and was never meant to be, a democracy. The framers of the Constitution actually considered several forms of government, of which a democracy was one. It was immediately dismissed: throughout history every democracy has self-destructed in fairly short order.

    Why? A democracy is the rule of the majority at the expense of the minority. In a sense, a democracy is a mobocracy – check out video footage of a riot to see a true democracy in action.

    But that’s not the worst thing about a democracy. The main problem that democracies face is that sooner or later the masses figure out that they can vote themselves money. At which point the end is near.

    The form of government that the Constitional Framers settled on was a Constitutionally-Limited Republic. A democracy is 3 wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. A constitutionally limited republic is one well-armed sheep telling the three wolves that voting on whats for diner is illegal, unconstitutional, and will not happen.

    I’ll just stop there and let you all decide who’s the majority and who’s the minority ;)

    I’m afraid the drivel is all yours. The United States is a form of democracy called representative democracy. In the United States the 3 wolves form a 75% majority that can both propose and ratify amendments to the constitution. -ds

  20. dougmoran quotes Henry Gee to cast doubt on macroevolution:
    “We know that it is impossible when confronted with a fossil, to be certain whether it is your ancestor, or the ancestor of anything else, even another fossil. We also know that adaptive scenarios are simply justifications for particular arrangements of fossils made after the fact, and which rely for their justification on authority rather than on testable hypotheses.”

    Unfortunately, the quote does not say what Doug wants it to say. Here’s Henry Gee setting the record straight, and commenting on the Discovery Institute’s tactics:

    “That it is impossible to trace direct lineages of ancestry and descent from the fossil record should be self-evident. Ancestors must exist, of course — but we can never attribute ancestry to any particular fossil we might find. Just try this thought experiment — let’s say you find a fossil of a hominid, an ancient member of the human family. You can recognize various attributes that suggest kinship to humanity, but you would never know whether this particular fossil represented your lineal ancestor – even if that were actually the case. The reason is that fossils are never buried with their birth certificates. Again, this is a logical constraint that must apply even if evolution were true — which is not in doubt, because if we didn’t have ancestors, then we wouldn’t be here. Neither does this mean that fossils exhibiting transitional structures do not exist, nor that it is impossible to reconstruct what happened in evolution. Unfortunately, many paleontologists believe that ancestor/descendent lineages can be traced from the fossil record, and my book is intended to debunk this view. However, this disagreement is hardly evidence of some great scientific coverup — religious fundamentalists such as the DI — who live by dictatorial fiat — fail to understand that scientific disagreement is a mark of health rather than decay. However, the point of IN SEARCH OF DEEP TIME, ironically, is that old-style, traditional evolutionary biology — the type that feels it must tell a story, and is therefore more appealing to news reporters and makers of documentaries — is unscientific.”

    “I am a religious person and I believe in God. I find the militant atheism of some evolutionary biologists ill-reasoned and childish, and most importantly unscientific — crucially, faith should not be subject to scientific justification. But the converse also holds true — science should not need to be validated by the narrow dogma of faith. As such, I regard the opinions of the Discovery Institute as regressive, repressive, divisive, sectarian and probably unrepresentative of views held by people of faith generally. In addition, the use by creationists of selective, unauthorized quotations, possibly with intent to mislead the public undermines their position as self-appointed guardians of public values and morals.”

    http://www.natcenscied.org/res.....5_2001.asp

    It appears to me that the quote Moran makes does indeed cast doubt on macro-evolution. Henry Gee appears to be prevaricating profusely in an effort to distance himself from any semblace of agreement with DI but then, ironically, compelled by honesty, says traditional evolutionary biology is unscientific. That traditional evolutionary biology is unscientific I believe is quite to the point Moran and DI want to make. -ds

  21. DaveScot and JohnL –

    I disagree with randomness in the way that Wikipedia lists it, or at least don’t think it is a full definition. “Random mutations”, as it is commonly conceived, means specifically that the mutation occurs without respect to the adaptive needs of the organism. I have seen this referred to several times in the literature, though I will have to search to find a quote.

    So, a mutation due to failing cell machinery is a random mutation (even if it exhibits certain biases), but a mutation to make specific or semi-specific changes in response to stresses is non-random.

    However, ultimately, those two definitions are not technically mutually exclusive. The only way to know _for sure_ if a change was the result of a planned stress response or a system failure is to ask the designer if that was supposed to happen. However, I think that a fairly reasonable way of determining such things is to ask how often such a mechanism results in a beneficial mutation. If there is a process that can reliably produce beneficial mutations, it is very likely that such mutations are the result of design. If a process rarely or never produces beneficial mutations, it is difficult to assign such changes as being the result of design. Likewise, the specificity of changes can help determine whether or not a response was planned. If a mutation is not restricted in where it occurs in the cell, it is reasonable to assign such a change as random.

    The circumstances where beneficial mutations have occurred, they tend to occur very regularly — thus, non-random. The circumstances where non-beneficial mutations have occurred, it is rare or never that such circumstances give rise to beneficial mutations. Likewise, from the known random mutations, it is impossible that such range of mutations would give rise to the information in the genome. Likewise, it is impossible, as Dembski has shown, that a process that reliably gives beneficial mutations could have arisen without intelligence.

  22. With respect to the question of randomness, there is nothing as certain as that which happens purely by chance. Random mutations at the replication level are a good example of this. Enough DNA polymerases have been studied to know with excellent precision the rate with which they will introduce an incorrect nucleotide during replication. Rather than call this process random, it would be more accurate to call it regular, owing to the known kinetic properties of a typical polymerase under physiological conditions. It is also perhaps more revealing to consider that even though a polymerase may make 1 mistake over 10,000 bases, it does get the other 99,999 right, pretty high fidelity for a fairly difficult reaction. Consider a typical genome may have several terabases of DNA and you can imagine how easy it is to predict how often mutations will occur just on statistical grounds. Of course, there are many other cellular proofreading mechanisms to correct erroneous DNA replication than just the polymerase itself, but it is even more important to remember that contrary to the mistaken belief that most mutations are harmful, in reality most are completely neutral. Most mutations have no effect whatsoever. One final point: a recent paper in Nature (Lolle, et al. NATURE 434: 505-509 2005) indicated mutations in DNA may be corrected by an RNA template leftover from previous cell divisions. It is worth mentioning that while this would violate the central DNA to RNA to protein paradigm of biology, biologists cheered rather than censured this exciting discovery, even if it cast doubt on previously accepted ideas dating back to Mendel.

    This is so wrong it’s hard to know where to begin. Polymerase synthesis makes about 1 mistake in 10,000 base pairs but the proof reading that follows corrects those mistakes so that only 1 in 1,000,000,000 mistakes are in the finished product of a eurkaryote. Of course this number varies wildly according to the organism in question, the particular stretch of DNA in question, and the chemical/thermal environment. Viruses typically have 2 mistakes in 10^4 base pairs, prokaryotes about 1 in 10^7 and eurkaryotes 1 in 10^9 but those are averages and still vary widely. -ds

  23. valerie,

    Just to add a tiny bit to DS’s response:

    Gee first says that “adaptive scenarios” (i.e. Darwinian macro evolution) are untestable and unscientific (read: faith based). I think most folks at DI would agree with that.

    Then Gee says that science “should not need to be validated by the narrow dogma of faith.” I know most of DI would agree with that also. I know I do.

    Gee makes a few other important points: “I am a religious person and I believe in God.”

    And “I find the militant atheism of some evolutionary biologists ill-reasoned and childish, and most importantly unscientific — crucially, faith should not be subject to scientific justification.”

    Again, I would tend to agree with all of this, and I think (my opinion) most folks at DI would as well.

    I must say that with only a few exceptions I agree with what he is saying. For all practical purposes, he could have been writing an opinion strongly in favor of DI.

    Maybe DI should offer him a job… then he can say what he really thinks of those militant evolutionary biologists without fear of being fired by Nature.

  24. Dave, you are correct that the US political system uses a representative democracy to carry out its processes. But it’s still constitutionally-limited, which is the definition of a republic. See also the wikipediaList of Republics. Also, if you think there is a 75% majority in favor of ammending the First Ammendment, then perhaps you should have your Senator and/or Congressperson (assuming they are of the 75%) introduce a bill to do just so.

    But this is a digression from more interesting matters.

    Next time read the link before you supply it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R....._democracy

    Republics are often associated with democracy, which seems natural if one acknowledges the meaning of the expression from which the word “republic” derives (see: res publica). This association between “republic” and “democracy” is however far from a general understanding, even if acknowledging that there are several forms of democracy[13]. This section tries to give an outline of which concepts of democracy are associated with which types of republics.

    In a Western approach, warned by the possible dangers and impracticality of direct democracy described since antiquity[14], there was a convergence towards representative democracy, for republics as well as monarchies, from the Enlightenment on. A direct democracy instrument like referendums is still basically mistrusted in many of the countries that adopted representative democracy. Nonetheless, some republics like Switzerland have a great deal of direct democracy in their state organisation, with usually several issues put before the people by referendum every year.

    You might not know it but many states including Texas and California have voter referendums which is an instrument of direct democracy. I have no patience left for this so either admit you were wrong or shove off. -ds

  25. 25

    Comment deleted.

    I’m sorry John, but this isn’t an appropriate forum for you ask basic questions about evolution. Buy a book on evolutionary biology and read it. -ds

  26. DS, I chose the rate of 1 error in 10,000 only as an example. You missed my point completely. The point is “random” is a poor choice of words. When dealing with large sample sizes, the rate of polyermase induced errors becomes regular and predictable. Given the other cellular proofreading mechanisms, those rates will obviously be much lower. But environmental stresses such as intense sunlight and mutagens can elevate the rate of single nucleotide mutations. In the lab, the presence of chemical mutagens such as EMS can drastically increase the rate of single nucleotide polymorphisms, and this is the basis for tilling, a common technique for producing single gene knockouts from seed populations. In nature, it’s incorrect to think of a mutation as something that occurs in response to the adaptive needs of an organism. An organism can no more wish for an adaptive mutation to occur than we could wish to be taller and better looking. Mutations simply happen because perfectly faithful replication of 4.6 billion bases is a statistical impossibility. Somewhere along the line, someone is bound to get lucky and experience a beneficial one. It’s just statistics with a massive sample size. That’s not to say some regions of a given genome won’t be more or less likely to experience mutations, there’s a lot more to it than just polymerase fidelity. But the combined effect of dozens of pressures to maintain and change single nucleotides or whole regions of genomes is what results in generational changes at the genotype level. Occasionally, these result in changes at the phenotype level. There are dozens of factors with known causes affecting single nucleotide changes that do not require invoking any supernatural force.

    In nature, it’s incorrect to think of a mutation as something that occurs in response to the adaptive needs of an organism. An organism can no more wish for an adaptive mutation to occur than we could wish to be taller and better looking.

    This is wrong. Prokaryotes have been found to crank up the mutation rate on certain genes in response to toxins in the environment. By extension (especially if we presume eukaryotes descend from prokaryotes) if prokaryotes have a throttle control over specific gene mutation rates one might reasonably presume eukaryotes have the same mechanism, which would certainly explain a lot. Mutation rates are anything but constant and predictable. There’s a whole research cottage industry that formed around ways to get molecular clocks comparable across different stretches of the same genome and between different genomes. The notion of constancy in mutation rate went out the window years ago. Your knowledge appears incomplete and dated. -ds

  27. No, you are wrong. You are suggesting prokaryotes can choose to turn up their mutations rates just because they feel like it. Incorrect. There are mechanisms that cause their mutation rate to increase, but they don’t decide to do it anymore than you decide to turn on your immune system during an infection. As I said, environmental stresses can elevate the rate of mutation. What you’re ignoring is that lots of mechanisms that result in mutations have known, naturalistsic causes that are very well understood. No supernatural intervention is required for genome structure to change.

    Now you deny what you said in your last comment: it’s incorrect to think of a mutation as something that occurs in response to the adaptive needs of an organism. Bacteria turning up the mutation rate on specific genes in response to the environment is exactly mutation as something that occurs in response to the adaptive needs of an organism. If you can’t concede a point you are hereby invited to leave this blog. -ds

  28. “As I said, environmental stresses can elevate the rate of mutation. What you’re ignoring is that lots of mechanisms that result in mutations have known, naturalistsic causes that are very well understood. No supernatural intervention is required for genome structure to change.”

    Apparently you don’t understand what ID says AT ALL. How does one get stress to produce beneficial mutations? It doesn’t happen by chance, it happens by design! Do you even know what the prescribed evolutionary theory states? IT DOESN’T STATE THAT GOD MADE A MIRACLE FOR SPECIATION. It does say that organisms were front-loaded with mechanisms to do speciation in specific ways. THE ID MOVEMENT IS NOT ARGUING FOR MIRACLES AS THE CAUSE OF ORGANIC CHANGE, BUT THAT INFORMATION-DIRECTED PROCESSES MUST HAVE ORIGINATED BY AN INTELLIGENT SOURCE.

    The fact that the physical process is known has no bearing on whether or not something is designed. You can discover the mechanisms for change of the bits on my hard drive. That does not in any sense take anything away from the fact that the arrangement of bits that cause those changes were the products of intelligence. If you think that random modifications are what produced my current laptop, you would be put in an insane asylum. Yet that is precisely what Darwinism wants us to think about organic life.

    Organisms adapt their genome in specific or semi-specific ways in response to specific or semi-specific stresses. That is evidence of teleology. You need to read Dembski’s Searching Large Spaces and/or No Free Lunch.

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