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Phil Skell writing for Forbes says Theory of Evolution worse than useless

Nothing much for me to add since I entirely agree with Skell. I note that the comments following the Forbes article fail to include any substantive dispute – just the usual ad hominem and hand waving.

The Dangers Of Overselling Evolution

Philip S. Skell, 02.23.09, 01:47 PM EST

Focusing on Darwin and his theory doesn’t further scientific progress.

Last week, University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne criticized Forbes (See “Why Evolution Is True”) for including views skeptical of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in its forum on the 200th anniversary of his birth. As a member of the National Academy of Sciences, I beg to differ with Professor Coyne.

I don’t think science has anything to fear from a free exchange of ideas between thoughtful proponents of different views. Moreover, there are a number of us in the scientific community who, while we appreciate Darwin’s contributions, think that the rhetorical approach of scientists such as Coyne unnecessarily polarizes public discussions and –even more seriously –overstates both the evidence for Darwin’s theory of historical biology and the benefits of Darwin’s theory to the actual practice of experimental science.

Coyne seems to believe the major importance of biological science is its speculations about matters which cannot be observed, tested and verified, such as origin of life, speciation, the essences of our fossilized ancestors, the ultimate causes of their changes, etc.

Experimental biology has dramatically increased our understanding of the intricate workings within living organisms that account for their survival, showing how they continue to function despite the myriad assaults on them from their environments. These advances in knowledge are attributable to the development of new methodologies and instruments, unimaginable in the preceding centuries, applied to the investigation of living organisms.

Contrary to the beliefs of Professor Coyne and some other defenders of Darwin, these advances are not due to studies of an organism’s ancestors that are recovered from fossil deposits. Those rare artifacts–which have been preserved as fossils–are impressions in stones which, even when examined with the heroic efforts of paleontologists, cannot reveal the details that made these amazing living organisms function.

To conflate contemporary scientific studies of existing organisms with those of the paleontologists serves mainly to misguide the public and teachers of the young. An examination of the papers in the National Academy of Sciences’ premiere journal, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS), as well as many other journals and the Nobel awards for biological discoveries, supports the crucial distinction I am making.

Examining the major advances in biological knowledge, one fails to find any real connection between biological history and the experimental designs that have produced today’s cornucopia of knowledge of how the great variety of living organisms perform their functions. It is our knowledge of how these organisms actually operate, not speculations about how they may have arisen millions of years ago, that is essential to doctors, veterinarians, farmers and other practitioners of biological science.

It is widely accepted that the growth of science and technology in the West, which accounts for the remarkable advances we enjoy today in medicine, agriculture, travel, communications, etc., coincided with the separation, several centuries ago, of the experimental sciences from the dominance of the other important fields of philosophy, metaphysics, theology and history.

Yet many popularizers of Darwin’s theory now claim that without the study of ancient biological history, our students will not be prepared to engage in the great variety of modern experimental activities expected of them. The public should view with profound alarm this unnecessary and misguided reintroduction of speculative historical, philosophical and religious ideas into the realms of experimental science.

It is more crucial to consider history in the fields of astrophysics and geology than in biology. For example, the electromagnetic radiations arriving at our detectors inform us of the ongoing events that occurred billions of years ago in distant parts of our universe that have been traveling for all this time to reach us. And the rock formations of concern to geologists have resided largely undisturbed since their formations.

But fossils fail to inform us of the nature of our ancient antecedents–because they have been transformed into stones that give us only a minuscule, often misleading impression of their former essences and thus are largely irrelevant to modern biology’s experimentations with living organisms.

For instance, we cannot rely upon ruminations about the fossil record to lead us to a prediction of the evolution of the ambient flu virus so that we can prepare the vaccine today for next year’s more virulent strain. That would be like depending upon our knowledge of ancient Hittite economics to understand 21st-century economics.

In 1942, Nobel Laureate Ernst Chain wrote that his discovery of penicillin (with Howard Florey and Alexander Fleming) and the development of bacterial resistance to that antibiotic owed nothing to Darwin’s and Alfred Russel Wallace’s evolutionary theories.

The same can be said about a variety of other 20th-century findings: the discovery of the structure of the double helix; the characterization of the ribosome; the mapping of genomes; research on medications and drug reactions; improvements in food production and sanitation; new surgeries; and other developments.

Additionally, I have queried biologists working in areas where one might have thought the Darwinian paradigm could guide research, such as the emergence of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. Here, as elsewhere, I learned that evolutionary theory provides no guidance when it comes to choosing the experimental designs. Rather, after the breakthrough discoveries, it is brought in as a narrative gloss.

The essence of the theory of evolution is the hypothesis that historical diversity is the consequence of natural selection acting on variations. Regardless of the verity it holds for explaining biohistory, it offers no help to the experimenter–who is concerned, for example, with the goal of finding or synthesizing a new antibiotic, or how it can disable a disease-producing organism, what dosages are required and which individuals will not tolerate it. Studying biohistory is, at best, an entertaining distraction from the goals of a working biologist.

It is noteworthy that Darwin’s and Wallace’s theories of evolution have been enormously aggrandized since the 1850s. Through the writings of neo-Darwinian biologists, they have subsumed many of the biological experimental discoveries of the 20th century. This is so despite the fact that those discoveries were neither predicted nor heuristically guided by evolutionary theory.

The overselling of the theory of evolution, because of the incorporation of these later discoveries, may have done a grave disservice both to those two 19th-century scientists and to modern biology.

The difference between the advances of 20th-century chemical and biological knowledge and the contentious atmosphere that currently prevails in biology alone is worth noting.

Chemists have depended largely on geological sources, from which they have isolated the hundred or so elements on the periodic table and subsequently devised a great variety of schemes for synthesizing millions of new complex arrangements of these elements, giving to the public medicines, fertilizers, plastics, etc., of great utility.

Biologists, on the other hand, have recognized that the natural sources they study are living organisms, each of which is a unique individual, each of which consists of extraordinary complex molecular combinations in configurations that lead to coherent functioning and reproduction. There are no two identical genomes in the biocosm. Now, modern biologists conduct experimental studies that have begun to reveal details of how living organisms function and reproduce.

It is unseemly and scientifically unfruitful that a major focus in biology should have turned into a war–between those who hold that the history of those unique organisms is purely a matter of chance aggregation from the inorganic world and those who hold that the aggregation must have been designed for a purpose.

It is surely not a matter that must or can be settled within the provenance of experimental biology. Above all, declaiming orthodoxy to either of those propositions promotes incivility and draws energy and resources away from the real goal–advances in experimental biological science. These studies, if not derailed, indicate that further advances of great utility can be expected during the 21st century.

Philip S. Skell is emeritus Evan Pugh professor of chemistry at Penn State University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

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69 Responses to Phil Skell writing for Forbes says Theory of Evolution worse than useless

  1. The public should view with profound alarm this unnecessary and misguided reintroduction of speculative historical, philosophical and religious ideas into the realms of experimental science.

    That hits it on the head.

    This Year of Darwin might turn out to be beneficial :-)

  2. Allen McNeill, would you care to comment?

  3. I still find Dr. Skell’s seminal statement to be:

    I don’t think science has anything to fear from a free exchange of ideas between thoughtful proponents of different views.

    Allen_MacNeill, by the way, would agree. He is one of the few who holds a darwinian view, but also welcomes thoughtful discussion. We need more like him.

  4. Hey Dave, I missed something. Haven’t you overstated Skell’s position when you describe it as “worse than useless?” I see Skell saying that the theory is far overstated both in how good the evidence is for it, and what value it offers to scientific inquiry. It might be reasonable to paraphraise his position as “almost useless”, but I don’t see the “worse than” part.

  5. I could see it as “worse than” useless when he says something like this:

    Above all, declaiming orthodoxy to either of those propositions promotes incivility and draws energy and resources away from the real goal–advances in experimental biological science. These studies, if not derailed, indicate that further advances of great utility can be expected during the 21st century.

    Militant Darwinism is “worse than” useless because it not only offers nothing useful (i.e., useless), it can actually tie up resources and prevent, hinder or delay valuable scientific inquiry.

    At least that’s how I read it.

  6. What more can be said, excellent! I think it’s time biologist accept the fact that they aren’t the only scientist out there. If small molecular machines have a particular purpose, why can’t the host have one also? I agree, the goal should be to seek the truth, the question is can you accept it when you find it.

  7. uoflcard:

    Militant Darwinism is “worse than” useless because it not only offers nothing useful (i.e., useless), it can actually tie up resources and prevent, hinder or delay valuable scientific inquiry.

    I would agree that Dr. Skell is saying that militant darwinism is worse than useless. Is he saying, however that “the theory of evolution is worse than useless”? I don’t think so. I think he is asking that the theory be put into its right place, not deleted.

  8. Wow..great article. Spot on.

    Honestly, both Darwinian evolution (other than microev) and ID belong in the philosophy classroom..not the science classroom, IMHO.

  9. Allen_MacNeill, by the way, would agree. He is one of the few who holds a darwinian view, but also welcomes thoughtful discussion. We need more like him.

    I agree with that.

  10. “worse than useless?”

    I didn’t see it in this article but I have a recollection of someone writing as to how following Darwinian dogma actually led to antibiotic resistance.

    IIRC, the idea was that if the matter had been studied without being colored by the ToE, the use of antibiotic cocktails would have happened much sooner.

    Does anyone else have a recollection of such an article? I actually think I read it on UD.

  11. Interesting; virtually every major university in the world* has a department in which there are practicing evolutionary biologists (we practice a lot in the hopes that we will finally get it right). What are we all doing, do you suppose, that we get funding, spend years investigating things in the field and laboratory, publish tens of thousands of papers and thousands of books, and are awarded prizes by the MacArthur Foundation, the Swedish Academy, and so forth if what we do is “worse than useless?”

    How does making ad hominem assertions like these advance any kind of reasoned dialogue all? I thought that at least some ID supporters considered that evolution has, in fact, occurred, but not necessarily by the mechanisms proposed by Darwin or the founders of the “modern evolutionary synthesis”. Am I wrong? Does being an ID supporter mean that one must agree that all forms of evolutionary biology are “worse than useless”?

    To me, there is no substantive difference between Dr. Skell’s so-called “argument” and the rantings of a Grand Wizard at a Klan rally. Is his doing so therefore justified by the fact that some supporters of the evolutionary viewpoint do the same?

    * And no, I don’t put Liberty or Oral Roberts University and its ilk in the category of “major” universities. Do you? Who does, and why or why not?

  12. An unbiased review of the literature indicates that increases in antibiotic resistance has been strongly correlated with two practices:

    1) the over-prescription of antibiotics for illnesses (such as viral diseases) for which they do virtually nothing, and

    2) the widespread use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, in which the indiscriminate use of antibiotics has been correlated with a slightly increased yield, but a concomitant increase in the frequency of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

    Evolutionary theory has had virtually nothing to do with either of these practices. Rather, they were driven by essentially economic factors, among which has been the drive for increased profits by the manufacturers of antibiotics and the managers of large agribusinesses.

    And yes, the large-scale use of antibiotics in animal agriculture was pioneered at Cornell University. The indiscriminate large-scale use of antibiotics has also been widely criticized by evolutionary biologists at Cornell and elsewhere.

    Once again, what point exactly were you trying to make here, and why?

  13. Ah, but of course, (as at least one commentator has pointed out) it wasn’t Dr. Skell who said that evolutionary biology was “worse than useless”, it was that genius of the empirical sciences, DaveScot who said so. My apologies to Dr. Skell. My comment about the rantings of the Klan Wizard more appropriately apply to DaveScot, not him.

  14. As to the substance of Dr. Skell’s critique, let me take just one example:

    “Examining the major advances in biological knowledge, one fails to find any real connection between biological history and the experimental designs that have produced today’s cornucopia of knowledge of how the great variety of living organisms perform their functions. It is our knowledge of how these organisms actually operate, not speculations about how they may have arisen millions of years ago, that is essential to doctors, veterinarians, farmers and other practitioners of biological science.”

    I assume that Dr. Skell would agree that a Nobel Prize signifies at least something about the value of a scientific research program. In 1973 the Nobel Prize in Physiology & Medicine was awarded to Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and Karl von Frisch for their work in founding and furthering the science of ethology (animal behavior). Here is what the Nobel Prize Award Presentation said about their work:

    “It was not until behavior problems were studied by means of scientific methods, by systematic observation and by experimentation, that real progress was made. Within that research field this year’s Nobel prize laureates have been pioneers. They have collected numerous data about animal behavior both in natural settings and in experimental situations. Being biological scholars they leave also studied the functions of behavior patterns, their role in the individual struggle for life and for the continuation of the species. Thus, behavior patterns have stood out as results of natural selection just as morphological characteristics and physiological functions.

    The Nobel Prize Award Presentation goes on:

    “The discoveries made by this year’s Nobel prize laureates were based on studies of insects, fishes and birds and might thus seem to be of only minor importance for human physiology or medicine. However, their discoveries have been a prerequisite for the comprehensive research that is now pursued also on mammals. Studies are devoted to the existence of genetically programmed behavior patterns, their organization, maturation and their elicitation by key stimuli. There are also studies concerning the importance of specific experiences during critical periods for the normal development of the individual. Research into the behavior of monkeys have demonstrated that serious and to a large extent lasting behavior disturbances may be the result when a baby grows up in isolation without contact with its mother and siblings or with adequate substitutes. Another important research field concerns the effects of abnormal psychosocial situations on the individual. They may lead not only to abnormal behavior but also to serious somatic illness such as arterial hypertension and myocardial infarction. One important conclusion is that the psychosocial situation of an individual cannot be too adverse to its biological equipment without serious consequences.”

    You can read the entire presentation speech here:

    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_pr.....peech.html

    So, the scientific study of animal behavior is based almost entirely on evolutionary theory, and was deemed so important to the science of biology that the Nobel Committee “bent the rules” to award a Nobel Prize for Physiology & Medicine to three scientists who studied geese, dogs, sea gulls, wasps, and honeybees.

    There are numerous other examples. Shall we have an unending session of “dueling examples”, or can we at least grant that Dr. Skell has perhaps overstated his case somewhat?

  15. Allen,

    Two points:

    1- I finally goyt my hands on Mayr’s “What Evolution Is”- You and I were talking apples and oranges but that is what I get from trying to rely on memory.

    Mayr stated that “selection” was non-telic.

    So I apologize for the confusion.

    2. What does the study of animal behavior have to do with the assumption of universal common descent?

    Did the scientists model their experiments after UCD? Or did they need UCD to conduct their experiments?

  16. Allen:

    This is not ranting:

    I don’t think science has anything to fear from a free exchange of ideas between thoughtful proponents of different views. Moreover, there are a number of us in the scientific community who, while we appreciate Darwin’s contributions, think that the rhetorical approach of scientists such as Coyne unnecessarily polarizes public discussions and –even more seriously –overstates both the evidence for Darwin’s theory of historical biology and the benefits of Darwin’s theory to the actual practice of experimental science.

    OTOH, this is ranting:

    To me, there is no substantive difference between Dr. Skell’s so-called “argument” and the rantings of a Grand Wizard at a Klan rally.

    The only thing required to make it an absolutely perfect rant would be for you to wave a cane, work in a “dadgummit” and to say something about how the communist are switching your false teeth at night.

  17. Allen MacNeill,

    The essence of Skell’s discussion is

    “It is unseemly and scientifically unfruitful that a major focus in biology should have turned into a war–between those who hold that the history of those unique organisms is purely a matter of chance aggregation from the inorganic world and those who hold that the aggregation must have been designed for a purpose.”

    Nothing that evolutionary biology has discovered in all its tens of thousands of research studies including those from Cornell has supported the proposition that

    “the history of those unique organisms is purely a matter of chance aggregation from the inorganic world”

  18. From Joseph,

    2. What does the study of animal behavior have to do with the assumption of universal common descent?

    I diddo the question. It’s cool they’re doing research into animal behavior, but I fail to see how belief in neo-Darwinism really helped them out. Creationists and IDists could do the same studies just as well. Heck, an agnostic (on origins) could do the studies just as well.

  19. bfast

    Bits that justify “worse than” (my emphasis):

    To conflate contemporary scientific studies of existing organisms with those of the paleontologists serves mainly to misguide the public and teachers of the young.

    The public should view with profound alarm this unnecessary and misguided reintroduction of speculative historical, philosophical and religious ideas into the realms of experimental science.

    Studying biohistory is, at best, an entertaining distraction from the goals of a working biologist.

    The overselling of the theory of evolution, because of the incorporation of these later discoveries, may have done a grave disservice both to those two 19th-century scientists and to modern biology.

    Above all, declaiming orthodoxy to either of those propositions promotes incivility and draws energy and resources away from the real goal–advances in experimental biological science.

  20. Mr. MacNeil, with an as yet undetermined appendage, demonstrates how to be civil by writing:

    My comment about the rantings of the Klan Wizard more appropriately apply to DaveScot, not him.

    LOL

  21. Allen:

    Being biological scholars they leave also studied the functions of behavior patterns, their role in the individual struggle for life and for the continuation of the species. Thus, behavior patterns have stood out as results of natural selection just as morphological characteristics and physiological functions.

    Domoman:

    From Joseph,

    2. What does the study of animal behavior have to do with the assumption of universal common descent?

    I diddo the question. It’s cool they’re doing research into animal behavior, but I fail to see how belief in neo-Darwinism really helped them out. Creationists and IDists could do the same studies just as well. Heck, an agnostic (on origins) could do the studies just as well.

    I also agree with Domoman and Joseph, although perhaps a hardcore Creationist (nothing has changed since God created the universe) would not believe in any type of selection/change (whether physical or behavioral). The example Allen gave does not seem to me to be an example of how neo-Darwinian theory (not common descent) in any way led to the results or conclusions.

  22. Allan, do you intend to return to the conversation you were having with Timaeus or not?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-305327

  23. 23

    DaveScot,

    I find some of the examples you give to be equally damning of the ID movement. To wit:

    The public should view with profound alarm this unnecessary and misguided reintroduction of speculative historical, philosophical and religious ideas into the realms of experimental science.

    If Darwinism consists of “speculative historical, philosophical and religious ideas”, does not ID as well? If not moreso?

    Studying biohistory is, at best, an entertaining distraction from the goals of a working biologist.

    If biohistory studied through a Darwinist lens is a distraction from practical biology, is not ID as well?

    Above all, declaiming orthodoxy to either of those propositions promotes incivility and draws energy and resources away from the real goal–advances in experimental biological science.

    This quote is quite specific in implicating ID along with Darwinism as a distraction.

    Overall, I think you have misunderstood, or misconstrued Dr. Skell’s point. I read the essay to mean the conflict is the primary concern, not a given theory (if you can consider ID a full-fledged theory, which I do not).
    Further, Dr. Skell’s position on this issue is rather atypical of a biologist. Nearly all biologists, whether practical or theoretical, concur with the basic ideas of evolutionary biology, and find value therein. While the majority view is periodically proven incorrect in science (indeed, careers are made and lost attempting to disprove popular theories), the theory of evolution is supported by the evidence better than ID.

  24. Phil Skell has long contended that the hueristic value of evolution is virtually nil. I commented on that myself back in December. What Skell is getting at here makes perfect sense. With little to no practical heuristic value in day to day biology labs doing every day research, there’s little to be gained by over-stating those things which, as Skell deftly points out, “…cannot be observed, tested and verified, such as origin of life, speciation, the essences of our fossilized ancestors, the ultimate causes of their changes, etc.” Coyne complains that Forbes allowed Darwin skeptics to contribute in the article series, so Skell correctly chastises him for wanting to shut down discussion.
    Moreover, there are a number of us in the scientific community who, while we appreciate Darwin’s contributions, think that the rhetorical approach of scientists such as Coyne unnecessarily polarizes public discussions and –even more seriously –overstates both the evidence for Darwin’s theory of historical biology and the benefits of Darwin’s theory to the actual practice of experimental science.

    Coyne et.al. want to shut down all opposition and then proclaim victory. Unfortunately for Coyne, real lab work just doesn’t rise to the level of their triumphalism.

  25. My take on what Dr Skell is saying is that theoretical musings on the unobserved past are fine and dandy.

    Just remember that is what they are- theoretical musings.

    Now what could be done in order to refute Dr Skell is to have some scientist or team of scientists conduct some experiments while documenting how universal common descent via an accumulation of genetic accidents guided, aided and was in every way required to do so.

  26. A agree with Mormon Athiest when (s)he says, “If Darwinism consists of “speculative historical, philosophical and religious ideas”, does not ID as well?” and “If biohistory studied through a Darwinist lens is a distraction from practical biology, is not ID as well?”

    I also agree with Allen_MacNeill when he says, “at least grant that Dr. Skell has perhaps overstated his case somewhat?”

  27. Mormon Atheist,

    There is a major difference between ID and Darwinism. ID does not want an irrelevant theory in the schools and textbooks. ID would be quite happy if the truth were told about Darwinian macro evolution and it was removed from the curriculum because it is bogus.

    ID completely accepts Darwinian micro evolution and has no problem with it in the schools and textbooks.

    So there is a major difference between the two philosophies and from your comments I assume you support us in getting out of the text books Darwinian macro evolution and any comments about science getting near to a solution of the origin of life.

    Welcome aboard in our fight for honest science.

  28. [OFF TOPIC]
    CHECK THIS LINK OUT!!!!!

    I just found an evolutionary worship song. Seems that this religion is really kicking off. Darwin is rockin on the guitar, this is sooo stupid yet funny and says a lot about our religious secular friends.

    Darwin & The Naked Apes / Children of Evolution
    Children of Evolution

    We are all naked apes my dear friends, by means of chance.

    This video is part of a petition to get a secular holiday (namely “Evolution Day”) for the 1/3 of the population that is non-Christian in Germany, sponsored by the secular giordano bruno foundation.

    Anyway soon you will also enjoy E-Day living in Germany.

    Another inane attempt for atheists to get a day of to celebrate the flying spaghetti monster.

  29. We import a product from what is the old East Germany to sell here in the US. We went to see the manufacturing facility 4 years ago to see what the people were like before importing the product. The marketing manager who is from West Germany was talking about the culture of the old East Germany.

    They had a ceremony that was the equivalent of the entrance to adulthood. When they were 12 years old, they used to be honored as an adult and it apparently was a big thing to them. When the wall fell the ceremony ended but after a few years it became obvious that they missed this personal transition for their children and wanted to reinstate it. I do not know what ever happened with this but it shows that people want some type of rite of passage.

  30. Allen at 11- 13 -
    “Interesting; virtually every major university in the world* has a department in which there are practicing evolutionary biologists (we practice a lot in the hopes that we will finally get it right). What are we all doing, do you suppose, that we get funding, spend years investigating things in the field and laboratory, publish tens of thousands of papers and thousands of books, and are awarded prizes by the MacArthur Foundation, the Swedish Academy, and so forth if what we do is “worse than useless?”

    Does it have anything to do with the fact that most major universities in the world have biology departments that are controlled with an iron fist by Darwinists?

    “How does making ad hominem assertions like these advance any kind of reasoned dialogue all? I thought that at least some ID supporters considered that evolution has, in fact, occurred, but not necessarily by the mechanisms proposed by Darwin or the founders of the “modern evolutionary synthesis”. Am I wrong? Does being an ID supporter mean that one must agree that all forms of evolutionary biology are “worse than useless”?

    I don’t think so, in answer to your last question. Making hasty generalizations doesn’t help your argument, though.

    “To me, there is no substantive difference between Dr. Skell’s so-called “argument” and the rantings of a Grand Wizard at a Klan rally. Is his doing so therefore justified by the fact that some supporters of the evolutionary viewpoint do the same?”

    Allen, you answered your own question: How does making ad hominem assertions like these advance any kind of reasoned dialogue all?

    “* And no, I don’t put Liberty or Oral Roberts University and its ilk in the category of “major” universities. Do you? Who does, and why or why not?”

    What about Jesuit-run universities?

    Allen at 13 – “So, the scientific study of animal behavior is based almost entirely on evolutionary theory, and was deemed so important to the science of biology that the Nobel Committee “bent the rules” to award a Nobel Prize for Physiology & Medicine to three scientists who studied geese, dogs, sea gulls, wasps, and honeybees.”

    I’d be far more impressed if the Nobel committee awarded the prize based on pure applied research and experimentation with verifiable results rather than bending the rules. That’s cheating, isn’t it? Why or why not?

  31. Allen,

    We are apparently a little bit more nuanced here than the average pro Darwinian evolutionist. We delineate Darwin into two theories, one which we completely agree with and it is this theory that is used 99.9999% of the time to justify the other Darwinian theory.

    The second Darwin theory has no evidence to support it, so when you say some of us accept Darwin, read that most of us accept the micro evolution part of Darwin. Then you and others give to us as reason to accept the second theory, data that only supports the first theory. The art of the bait and switch.

    Don’t tell us there is only one theory, because you know that there isn’t. One is focussed nearly all on genetics, recombination and selection with minor mutations thrown in and is essentially the reshuffling of what is in a population gene pool. While the other is based on the origin of substantial changes to genomes over time and their potential causes. It is this second theory that is under debate.

    By the way I thank you for recommending the Vrba and Eldredge book on Macro evolution. It is taking a while to get through it because of the terminology. The first article essentially says it all about what the debate is about which seems to be a justification of punctuated equilibrium through genetic processes. But the author, Jurgen Brosius, is a low life. How did an editior let through his comments about Simon Conway-Morris. I never saw anything so outrageous in any scientific publication in my life.

    And you tie us together with the KKK.

  32. ID critics (Allen included) please write this down: TO DENY UNPROGRAMMED, UNGUIDED, MACRO-EVOLUTION IS NOT TO DENY MACRO-EVOLUTION.
    I know that this is true because Allen’s strawman e-mailed me and told me so. He also informed me that he has been subjected to cruel and unusual punishmenet.

  33. jerry,
    once again you are ignoring the evidence for endosymbiosis as a macroevolutionary process. ALlen provided this and showed evidence not only that it happened “once or a few times” as you claimed but that it is a continous ongoing process that can be (and is) observed in progress.

  34. Khan — once again you are ignoring the evidence for endosymbiosis as a macroevolutionary process. ALlen provided this and showed evidence not only that it happened “once or a few times” as you claimed but that it is a continous ongoing process that can be (and is) observed in progress.

    Even Wiki doesn’t come close to making that claim

    And I asked Allen this: Have prokaryotes ever been observed become eukaryotes via endosymbiosis?

  35. —–Allen: ““Interesting; virtually every major university in the world* has a department in which there are practicing evolutionary biologists (we practice a lot in the hopes that we will finally get it right). What are we all doing, do you suppose, that we get funding, spend years investigating things in the field and laboratory, publish tens of thousands of papers and thousands of books, and are awarded prizes by the MacArthur Foundation, the Swedish Academy, and so forth if what we do is “worse than useless?”

    Oh, come now. Everyone knows that one of the best ways to get funding from the govenment and from “humanitarian” foundations is to support a politically correct cause, and nothing is more politically correct than Darwinian evolution. How do you think Planned Parenthood gets all of their money? They, too, are worse than useless. Shall we also discuss the ways in which Al Gore’s madness attracts money.

  36. Khan,

    You have been answered more than once. Are you one of those automatic recordings that keeps on coming even after you answer it and hang up.

    The irrelevance of your comments helps us make our case and we thank you for that but this is the last time I will respond to your non sequitur.

    You may have the last word because I have found those who cannot understand the debate think they have won it when they have the last comment. It makes them feel warm inside when they have no answer to the argument presented or the questions posed to them. The fact that you continually ignore what I said reinforces my point. You are after a gotcha and you haven’t succeeded.

  37. Jerry,

    You must understand, Khan is a stooge from ATBC, he is here to pester you, then run back under the carpet and giggle.

    Kahn, may I ask a serious question of you. What is it about a combination and organization of biochemicals that leads to the empirically measurable result of the organization seeking to continue its state of being, e.g. the survival instinct in the even the simplest of organisms?

    I understand you can’t answer the question with any certainty because no one can, but what do you think the answer will include?

    As an ardent material proponent you have many tools to explain these results. There is the Periodic table, laws of magnetism, hydrophobicity, etc., and all other knowledge about the structure and propertires of matter. Plus, you also have the observations of natural selection, gene duplication (at least after there are genes to duplicate), and of course, endoymbiosis, ect.

    I think its an interesting question; exactly what is it that instills what we loosely phrase a “survival instinct” in (apparently) the very first organisms and all that came after.

  38. In #34 tribune7 asked:

    “Have prokaryotes ever been observed become eukaryotes via endosymbiosis?” [sic]

    If by “observed”, one means directly observed, then of course the answer is “no”. As far as we can tell, this probably happened more than a billion years ago. But if only things that have been directly observed are valid, then virtually all of science, if not almost all human intellectual endeavors, are invalid and pointless.

    Did anyone alive today “observe” the decline and fall of the Roman empire? Of course not. So, how do we know it happened? We read about it, or were told about it. We might also have directly observed some ruins in Rome or elsewhere in Europe or Asia Minor, and made some inferences about where they came from and how old they are.

    But if direct observation is necessary to validate an assertion, then each of us is trapped in a tiny world whose borders are the limits of our own unaided perceptual apparatus. Not even most forms of logic would survive such an absurd and self-destructive limitation.

    However, if one allows for indirect observation and logical inference, then the answer is “yes”. There are multiple sources of empirical evidence for the assertion that eukaryotic cells arose as the result of the serial endosymbiosis of several prokaryotic ancestors. You can read a summary of this evidence here (scroll down; it’s toward the end of the article):

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot......dence.html

    Furthermore, this inference is made using the most reliable (i.e. “strongest”) form of logical inference known to us: consilience. There are multiple, independently discovered and derived lines of empirical evidence pointing to the serially endosymbiotic origin of eukaryotic cells. That is, the evidence for the serial endosymbiosis theory is based on consilience, which is much more reliable that induction, deduction, or even abduction alone.

    As in any case having to do with a very complex universe, there are “gaps” in our current model of the serial endosymbiotic origin of eukaryotes. There is also empirical evidence that is not entirely consistent with the model as it now stands. However, as more and more empirical evidence has been discovered, the vast majority of it has supported Lynn Margulis’ original theory.

    So, which method of validation shall we choose? Shall we voluntarily blind ourselves to the only kind of evidence that can validate things that have happened outside of our immediate perceptual environment, or accept what virtually all thinking people accept – that we must, almost everywhere and at almost all times, accept the validity of empirical evidence that we have not ourselves immediately obtained?

  39. Mr MacNeill, would you consider returning to the conversation you were having with Timaeus.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-305327

  40. if only things that have been directly observed are valid, then virtually all of science, if not almost all human intellectual endeavors, are invalid and pointless.

    …or subject to more than a single explanation – which may include rational observations that are in conflict with the artificially limited set of causes allowed by the current paradigm.

  41. Upright Bipod,

    I understand what Khan is. At first I thought he would be serious and then after a few responses on the first day, he settled into the familiar pattern. So he has been here for about 2 months or so and is here to annoy not to have a constructive conversation. He has this illogical idea that endosymbiosis disproves my statements about macro evolution. It is an indication of where he is.

    There is not one of the anti ID people here who I consider serious. Some may be just plain uninformed but you can get to that after awhile and see if that is their issue. No, they are here to obstruct and annoy and rarely contribute anything of substance. The nature and style of their comments reveal what they think they are hiding.

    If they are coming from Panda’s Thumb, then that says a lot about their level of competence there. And I understand they were voted a top science blog at one time. That is a real indictment on the Darwinist movement if this level of incompetence reigns as a top blog.

    Look at Allen MacNeill, a tenured instructor at a first rate university and he mainly comes here when the social aspects of Darwinism are under debate. He likes to skewer the bad logic often on display in such discussions. For example, this thread is really over social issues and not hard science though it has had a couple science comments. Allen does not stay around very long when the issue is science. He just made a science comment so we will have to digest it to see just what it says. Allen will stick here when what is being discussed is in his favor but when it may not be, he is off. Hopefully, he will stick around more often in the future because he does have a lot of useful knowledge and so far nothing he has said refutes ID. All his references and books has nothing in them that undermines ID. So Allen MacNeill actually supports the ID position because nothing he has ever said has really questioned it and I assume he is aware of what the cutting edge in this evolutionary biology is. If a lecturer in evolutionary biology from Cornell can not offer anything to undermine ID then how can we expect those that come here with less qualifications would do any better.

  42. 42

    Jerry, I am new here, and largely unaware of past discussion, but I find your take on Allen’s comments interesting. You state:

    …Allen MacNeill actually supports the ID position because nothing he has ever said has really questioned it….

    It appears to me that MacNiell has offered a credible line of reasoning in support of “UNPROGRAMMED, UNGUIDED, MACRO-EVOLUTION” (to quote an earlier comment). It also appears to me that the evidence he references does not support ID. Nonetheless, your take on the matter is that “his references and books has nothing in them that undermines ID”. Let me then ask you this: what evidence would disprove ID to your satisfaction? What would undermine ID in your mind?

    I will answer the question from my point of view, as a neo-Darwinist. Essentially, I would need to see physical, observable evidence of the existence and creative will of a Designer. Ancient documents of debatable authorship, factuality, and authenticity are insufficient. The second coming of Christ would probably fit the bill. As would the events portrayed in 2001: A Space Odyssey (assuming it was better-documented than the events in the book). Some sort of unambiguous, understandable message encoded in some aspect of our existence (e.g., every living organism is found to have “Steve from Betelgeuse made this!” written into it’s DNA, or the first 100 million digits of pi turn out to encode Zeus’ galactic MySpace profile pic). You get the idea. What about you?

  43. Mormon Atheist,

    Allen MacNeill has essentially passed off micro evolution as macro evolution. ID does not dispute micro evolution. He may have also pointed to what may be a macro evolutionary event and a possible mechanism but this example does not really get at the issues in the debate. The fact that an evolutionary biologist uses micro evolutionary event after micro evolutionary event to justify macro evolution is interesting on its own. In the world I live in, it means that if he had the information he would produce it. That fact that he doesn’t, means that it doesn’t exist. He is an expert.

    Macro evolution is the formation of novel complex functional capabilities and requires the introduction of new information into the genome that was not there before. Think wings, eyes, nervous systems etc. Now there are lots of other examples but this is a starter for what we are talking about. Another way of expressing it is microbes to man and what new information had to be included in the genomes along the way and how did it arise.

    There is no research or theory that explains this and not even deep time is a way out. Usually the Darwinist waives the deep time wand and it solves everything but some of the structures that need to arise defy the resources of the universe and the amount of time since the Big Bang. So how does this complex data arise that governs the operation of complicated systems. DNA is data and as data, its complexity can be measured and that in itself is meaningless except the DNA actually specifies something with a function which is also complex and that is not trivial and the debate is how did these relationships arise.

    So if you want to join the debate, the issue is about functional information and its creation. It is not about the issues you brought up. It is about the extreme unlikelihood that these complex specifying entities arose and the ability for natural processes to have accomplished this.

  44. Re #39:

    Upright BiPed, I’d be glad to continue that conversation with Allen MacNeill. Dr. MacNeill discontinued that conversation, I thought temporarily, because everyone in his family had caught a flu bug or something. But he never returned to it. If he wishes to, I’m ready, and eager for a reply to my last post on that other thread.

    Thanks for thinking of me.

    T.

  45. Allen — If by “observed”, one means directly observed, then of course the answer is “no”. As far as we can tell, this probably happened more than a billion years ago. But if only things that have been directly observed are valid, then virtually all of science, if not almost all human intellectual endeavors, are invalid and pointless.

    But we are not talking history. We are talking biology. Prokaryotes surround us today, not a billion years ago. It would seem that we should endeavor to find first if it is chemically/physically possible for prokaryotes to merge into eukaryotes, then create the conditions in which such a thing would happen and then, do it.

    That would pretty much end the debate as to how eukaryotes evolved from prokaryotes and you would get yourself a Nobel prize.

    But since this has not been done despite the ability to plan for it, it seems unwise to assume that it happened by accident.

    And that’s not saying it didn’t or couldn’t have happened that way, just pointing out that declaring so is unwarranted.

  46. Allen,

    You have wrongly claimed that Creationists insist on the “fixity of species”.

    Not only that you use a definition of “macro-evolution” that not even YEcs argue against.

    You have been told this already and you still continue the practice.

    What’s up with that?

    Is erecting strawman after strawman the only way you discuss things?

  47. Endosymbiosis for the origin of mitochondria and chloroplasts can be summed up as:

    “They ‘look like’ some bacterial genomes, therefor they came from bacteria.”

  48. tribune7,

    You have been identified as a creationist by Allen MacNeill.

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot......html#links

  49. Hey Allen, yes, Jefferson and I are both creationists :-)

    And it looks like I’m getting some unexpected support on your blog.

  50. In #45 tribune7 wrote:

    Prokaryotes surround us today, not a billion years ago.

    This statement is not supported by empirical evidence. Yes, there are prokaryotes around us today, but there is also abundant direct fossil evidence (and indirect geochemical evidence) indicating that they have been around since about 3.8 billion years ago.

    tribune7 also wrote:

    “It would seem that we should endeavor to find first if it is chemically/physically possible for prokaryotes to merge into eukaryotes, then create the conditions in which such a thing would happen and then, do it.”

    Again, this statement is not supported by empirical evidence. As I pointed out here

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot......dence.html

    this phenomenon has been studied in many organisms. Perhaps the best known is the unicellular protozoan Mixotricha paradoxa, which lives symbiotically in the guts of the Australian termite Mastotermes darwiniensis. First named and described in 1933 by Australian biologist, J. L. Sutherland, Mixotricha paradoxa gets its name from the peculiar “hairs” that cover its surface. Upon microscopic examination, these “hairs” were discovered to be symbiotic bacterium (Treponema spirochetes) similar to spirochaetes. Even closer examination showed that there are four genomically distinct types of endosymbiotic bacteria living inside the cells of Mixotricha paradoxa, where they perform the functions normally carried out by the various organelles of eukaryotes. So, there is abundant empirical evidence for precisely what you specified: the chemical/physical merger of prokaryotes into eukaryotes.

    My good friend Lynn Margulis, the developer of the serial endosymbiotic theory of the origin of eukaryotes, is clearly a scientist of Nobel Prize caliber. However, there is no Nobel Prize for biology, probably because there was no unified science of biology when Alfred Nobel endowed the prize in 1895. The closest Nobel Prize is the one awarded for Physiology or Medicine, and this prize has indeed been occasionally awarded to evolutionary biologists. For example, the 1973 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and Karl von Frisch for their founding of the branch of evolutionary biology now known as ethology.

    However, there is an equivalent prize for which Lynn has been nominated: the Crafoord Prize. Established in 1980 by Swedish industrialist Holger Crafoord, this prize is intended to promote “international basic research in the disciplines of Astronomy and Mathematics; Geosciences; Biosciences, with particular emphasis on ecology and Polyarthritis (also known as rheumatoid arthritis, from which Holger Crafoord suffered severely)”. Like the Nobel Prizes, the Crafoord Prize is administered by the Swedish Academy of Sciences and awarded by the king of Sweden. Since 1980 the Crafoord Prize has been awarded to many prominent evolutionary biologists, including Daniel H. Janzen (1984); Paul Erhlich and Edward O. Wilson (1990); William D. Hamilton (1993); Robert M. May (1996); Ernst Mayr, John Maynard Smith, and George C. Williams (1999); Carl Woese (2003); and Robert L. Trivers (2007). Lynn Margulis has been nominated repeatedly for the Crafoord Prize, and since she is still actively pursuing her research and publishing, I’m confident it will eventually be awarded to her for her revolutionary work in evolutionary biology.

  51. In #46 joseph complained that I do not use the definition of “macroevolution” used by creationists. That’s because I’m an evolutionary biologist. I use the definition of “macroevolution” that is generally accepted by evolutionary biologists and most other scientists. We don’t generally use the definitions coined by people who do not accept the widely accepted principles of the empirical sciences, including such things as empirical verification of hypotheses, statistical testing of experimental results, and the hypothetico-deductive method. And no, I’m not about to adopt an alternative definition coined by people who have neither an understanding of basic science or respect for its traditions.

  52. In #47 joseph wrote:

    “They ‘look like’ some bacterial genomes, therefor they came from bacteria.”

    You should be perfectly satisfied with this. After all, a common argument made by many commentators on the blog is that “living organisms look like things we know are designed, therefore living organisms must be designed”.

    However, as a scientist, I wouldn’t be satisfied by that kind of argument. It’s what’s known as an “argument from analogy”, and is virtually without logical force. You can read more about this here:

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot......gical.html

    On the contrary, the serial endosymbiotic theory (SET) for the origin of eukaryotes is supported by evidence at exactly the other end of the spectrum as “arguments by analogy”. There are multiple, independent lines of evidence all supporting the SET, and therefore it can be said to have been verified by consilience, the strongest form of validation for logical propositions that humans have ever invented.

    For a good non-technical introduction to the SET, I recommend:

    Margulis, Lynn (1992) Symbiosis in Cell Evolution: Microbial Communities in the Archean and Proterozoic Eons, W.H. Freeman, ISBN 0-7167-7028-8

  53. In #49 tribune7 wrote:

    “And it looks like I’m getting some unexpected support on your blog.”

    Indeed; unlike some of the past administrators of this blog, I let people who oppose my ideas post quite freely on my blog, so long as they are civil and respect the rules of academic debate, posted here:

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot......olicy.html

    However, if you’ll look a little more closely (I have), you will find that this support isn’t exactly “unexpected”. It’s from commentators on this blog, reposting their comments at mine.

  54. Allen — Prokaryotes surround us today, not a billion years ago. . . This statement is not supported by empirical evidence.

    You are misreading my statement. I’m not saying they weren’t around a billion years ago. I’m saying they are with us today and it’s not unreasonable to ask that we duplicate, and observe, their evolution into organisms with a cell nucleus before accepting serial endosymbiotic theory.

  55. The origin of the nucleus is a knotty problem in evolutionary biology, and is not necessarily the “core” of the argument about the origin of eukaryotic cells. Not all eukaryotic cells have nuclei, and so the question is, what does having a nucleus do for a cell, and do we have any evidence how the eukaryotic nucleus evolved and what role it plays in the life of eukaryotic cells?

    Once again, Lynn Margulis and her colleagues have proposed an empirically testable hypothesis for the origin of the eukaryotic nucleus, and provided multiple examples of the process of “nuclear envelopement” happening in prokaryotic cells today. You can read about it here:

    Margulis, L., Dolan, M., and Whiteside, J. (2005) “Imperfections and oddities” in the origin of the nucleus. In Vrba, E. and Eldredge, N. (2005) Macroevolution: Diversity, Disparity, Contingency – Essays in Honor of Stephen Jay Gould, The Paleontological Society, ISBN 1891276492, pages 175 to 191.

    Unfortunately this article is not available online or in electronic form, but you should be able to find it in any decent university library (except, perhaps, Liberty or Oral Roberts “universities”).

    In the article, Margulis et al provide a detailed hypothesis for the origin of the eukaryotic nucleus, and provide multiple examples illustrating the process, all derived from prokaryotes that exist today. I recommend it to anyone who is genuinely interested in this fascinating topic!

  56. Once again, Lynn Margulis and her colleagues have proposed an empirically testable hypothesis for the origin of the eukaryotic nucleus

    And if this empirically tested hypothesis should be tested and found to be correct it might pretty much explain how eukaryotes evolved, assuming the hypothesis is all that you say it is.

    OTOH, what if it fails? Are you able to walk away from it?

  57. Endosymbiosis explaining mitochondria is reasonable but it’s one helluva long shot from there to a eukaryote nucleus.

    And another thing, if we don’t rule out design a priori then it’s just as reasonable to explain it the other way around – eukaryotic cells preceded bacteria and then a mitochondria broke loose and became free living.

    In any case what concerns us more is the explanation for the molecular machinery that’s shared by mitochondria, prokaryotes, and eukaryotes such as the ribosome. Endosymbiosis, and most of biology for that matter, is irrelevant at that point because nothing on this earth is alive and free living without the basic machinery that manufactures proteins from the specifications contained in DNA.

    One last point, you mention eukaryotic cells without a nucleus. If a cell doesn’t have a membrane-bound nucleus then it isn’t a eukaryote as that is the definitive taxonomic characteristic which distinguishes eukayotes (plants, animals, protists, and fungi) from prokaryotes (eubacteria and archaea). What are you doing now, Allen, redefining the kingdoms of life into strawmen to better argue against ID?

  58. In #46 joseph complained that I do not use the definition of “macroevolution” used by creationists. That’s because I’m an evolutionary biologist. I use the definition of “macroevolution” that is generally accepted by evolutionary biologists and most other scientists. We don’t generally use the definitions coined by people who do not accept the widely accepted principles of the empirical sciences, including such things as empirical verification of hypotheses, statistical testing of experimental results, and the hypothetico-deductive method. And no, I’m not about to adopt an alternative definition coined by people who have neither an understanding of basic science or respect for its traditions.

    Then that is the problem.

    Ya see if you want to refute something you have to do so IN CONTEXT.

    And failure to do so is dishonest at best.

    Also exactly what “widely accepted principles of the empirical sciences, including such things as empirical verification of hypotheses, statistical testing of experimental results, and the hypothetico-deductive method” do Creationists reject?

    Just saying they reject something does NOT make it so.

    I could EASILY say that you reject the data which demonstrates organisms reproduce like organisms by insisting on universal common descent.

  59. And another thing, if we don’t rule out design a priori then it’s just as reasonable to explain it the other way around – eukaryotic cells preceded bacteria and then a mitochondria broke loose and became free living.

    Good point, Dave.

  60. Mr. MacNeill writes:

    In #46 joseph complained that I do not use the definition of “macroevolution” used by creationists. That’s because I’m an evolutionary biologist. I use the definition of “macroevolution” that is generally accepted by evolutionary biologists and most other scientists.

    If you were both honest and informed you’d know that it is generally accepted among those you mention that there is no dividing line, no essential difference between micro and macro evolution. The latter is the same as the former just more of it.

    In any case, by refusing to acknowledge exactly what it is your opponent is arguing for you are not engaging in any debate. All you are doing is taking their arguments and changing them into straw men. For the purposes of this debate, if you wish to continue it here, when we say macroevolution we are talking about the creation of novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans. Write that down. If you insist on changing our arguments to something different, which is neither honest nor constructive, then you won’t be allowed to participate.

  61. “They ‘look like’ some bacterial genomes, therefor they came from bacteria.”

    You should be perfectly satisfied with this. After all, a common argument made by many commentators on the blog is that “living organisms look like things we know are designed, therefore living organisms must be designed”.

    Really? Can you supply the relevant post?

    I don’t know of anyone who says that.

    However, as a scientist, I wouldn’t be satisfied by that kind of argument. It’s what’s known as an “argument from analogy”, and is virtually without logical force.

    I would say you don’t like analogies because you position doesn’t have any that are relevant.

    What can you use?

    “Look at that pile of junk that just fell over. Yeah cells are just like that!”

    On the contrary, the serial endosymbiotic theory (SET) for the origin of eukaryotes is supported by evidence at exactly the other end of the spectrum as “arguments by analogy”.

    Euks from proks is premised on the thought that euks could NOT have come first because they are much to complex. Therefor euks had to have come from proks.

    Now let’s look for something that will confirm that premise.

    There are multiple independent lines of evidence all supporting ID and therefore it can be said to have been verified by consilience, the strongest form of validation for logical propositions that humans have ever invented.

    Wow I can play word-games too.

    And BTW there is also data which would suggest the proks “devolved” from euks:

    Can evolution make things less complicated?

    Instead, the data suggest that eukaryote cells with all their bells and whistles are probably as ancient as bacteria and archaea, and may have even appeared first, with bacteria and archaea appearing later as stripped-down versions of eukaryotes, according to David Penny, a molecular biologist at Massey University in New Zealand.

  62. Allen said that not all euk cells have nuclei.

    What euk cells are you talking about?

    I know that formed elements such as RBCs don’t, but then again they aren’t free-living cells. And I believe that even they had a nucleus at one time.

    But anyways now I am curious as the word “eukaryote” means “with a nucleus”. So please tell us about the euks you were talking about.

  63. Erythrocytes:

    The nucleus is eventually extruded. The metarubricyte is last stage with a nucleus.

  64. And another thing, if we don’t rule out design a priori then it’s just as reasonable to explain it the other way around – eukaryotic cells preceded bacteria and then a mitochondria broke loose and became free living.

    Way late to this thread, but I thought I’d point out this type of “degenerative creation” hypothesis is like…

    a) the flagellum preceding the T3SS

    b) spiegelman’s monster

    c) the hypothesis that modern viruses are the degenerated descendants of a front-loading system (or some other system)

    and various other hypotheses that all sound more plausible than the constructive Darwinian stories.

    Also, in all this talk of endosymbiosis theory the informational basis has once again been neglected. Fine, one organism engulfs the other…but unless this event triggers a major change to the information used in replication this new functional status is not going to last to the next generation, I’d presume. And what if there are systems whose function is solely to incorporate information from other engulfed organisms? That’d not be very Darwinian at all.

  65. 65
    George L Farquhar

    Patrick,
    Does the “degenerative creation” hypothesis allude to the fall of man and the Garden of Eden?

    Are we degenerating from original sinless perfection? Or was that not what you meant?

  66. —Allen: “That’s because I’m an evolutionary biologist. I use the definition of “macroevolution” that is generally accepted by evolutionary biologists and most other scientists.”

    Everyone around here, including you, knows that macro-evolution can refer to any evolutionary change at or above the level of species, and that is also the way evolutionary biologists understand it.

    Obviously, evolutionary biologists take it to the last taxonomic level, which includes body-plan change and beyond. You must know that ID can accomodate evolutionary change through all taxonomic levels because the point has been made numerous times.

    It is time that you stopped misrepresenting this point and pretending that ID is anti-macro-evolution. It is not the amount of evolution that ID questions but rather the capacity of the mechanisms inherent in the modern evolutionary synthesis. Since you are capable of writing with precision and making subtle distinctions, I have to assume that you are knowingly misrepresenting our position. So, please stop it!

  67. 67

    StephenB:

    You must know that ID can accomodate evolutionary change through all taxonomic levels because the point has been made numerous times.

    That’s because invisible super-beings can do anything, can’t they?

  68. “That’s because invisible super-beings can do anything, can’t they?”

    About 6 million can fit on head of a needle. They are amazing.

  69. Patrick,
    Does the “degenerative creation” hypothesis allude to the fall of man and the Garden of Eden?

    No, it does not. The creation of a new functional whole via degeneration is compatible with practically every major hypothesis that would encapsulate this one.

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