Home » Intelligent Design » Pretending That Darwinism is Sophisticated (and Difficult-to-Understand) Science in Order to Deflect Challenges (or, Mickey Mouse Pretends to be a Scientist)

Pretending That Darwinism is Sophisticated (and Difficult-to-Understand) Science in Order to Deflect Challenges (or, Mickey Mouse Pretends to be a Scientist)

Mickey MouseIn DonaldM’s post (‘Analyze and Evaluate’ Are the New Code Words for ‘Creationism’) discussion ensued about high school students and challenges to orthodox evolutionary theory.

One of the ploys of Darwinists is to pretend (and especially to try to fool young students into thinking) that evolutionary theory is like real science (mathematics, chemistry, physics, or electrical, mechanical, aeronautical, software, or other engineering disciplines) — when it is not. It’s Mickey Mouse stuff pretending to be hard science, and is not difficult to understand and therefore not difficult to challenge.

The Darwinist lobby would like us to believe that young people are neither sufficiently intelligent, nor sufficiently sophisticated, nor sufficiently “educated” to appreciate the fact that all challenges to orthodox Darwinism have been refuted. These innocent young victims of the enemies of science must be protected by the intervention of the courts, so that they are not exposed to any dissent (no matter how justified by evidence or logic), otherwise they might start believing in a flat earth and astrology.

It is true that young students who have yet to learn algebra would have a hard time with partial differential equations, but it is not true that young students can’t grasp the problems with orthodox evolutionary theory. It is not hard to figure out that the fossil record, with its various explosions and consistent pattern of discontinuity and stasis, presents a challenge for the Darwinian gradualism claim. It is not hard to figure out that complex information-processing machinery and the information it processes present a problem for the random mutation/variation and natural selection hypothesis. (All young people nowadays are familiar with computers and software and know that computer programs can’t write themselves through random accidents.) There is nothing difficult at all about understanding the claims of Darwinian theory or the perfectly legitimate scientific and evidential challenges to it.

The Darwinian mechanism is 19th-century Mickey Mouse speculation, passed off as “science.”

As Denyse put it: “Darwinian evolution, as a concept, is in ruins. That much is obvious. However the history of the world happened, that wasn’t how.”

So, let’s at least let young people in the public schools know that no one knows for sure how all this came about, and let them evaluate, think about, and consider the options, rather than attempt to coerce them into thinking that they are too stupid to think for themselves, and must be told by authorities what to think about the most important, ultimate issues in their lives: where they ultimately came from, and why they exist.

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111 Responses to Pretending That Darwinism is Sophisticated (and Difficult-to-Understand) Science in Order to Deflect Challenges (or, Mickey Mouse Pretends to be a Scientist)

  1. I could not agree more but I believe that the pompous and elitist attitude of evolutionists is just the tip of the iceberg. Scientists, in general, have an annoying habit of acting like the condescending high priests of old. Here is what one my favorite science historians and philosophers had to say about the scientific method:

    And how often does it not happen that the proud and conceited judgment of an expert is put in its proper place by a layman! Numerous inventors built ‘impossible’ machines. Lawyers show again and again that an expert does not know what he is talking about. Scientists, especially physicians, frequently come to different results so that it is up to the relatives of the sick person (or the inhabitants of a certain area) to decide by vote about the procedure to be adopted. How often is science improved, and turned into new directions by non-scientific influences! it is up to us, it is up to the citizens of a free society to either accept the chauvinism of science without contradiction or to overcome it by the counterforce of public action. Public action was used against science by the Communists in China in the fifties, and it was again used,, under very different circumstances, by some opponents of evolution in California in the seventies. Let us follow their example and let us free society from the strangling hold of an ideologically petrified science just as our ancestors freed us from the strangling hold of the One True Religion!

    – - -

    And a more detailed analysis of successful moves in the game of science (‘successful’ from the point of view of the scientists themselves) shows indeed that there is a wide range of freedom that demands a multiplicity of ideas and permits the application of democratic procedures (ballot-discussion-vote) but that is actually closed by power politics and propaganda. This is where the fairy-tale of a special method assumes its decisive function. It conceals the freedom of decision which creative scientists and the general public have even inside the most rigid and the most advanced parts of science by a recitation of ‘objective’ criteria and it thus protects the big-shots (Nobel Prize winners; heads of laboratories, of organizations such as the AMA, of special schools; ‘educators’; etc.) from the masses (laymen; experts in non-scientific fields; experts in other fields of science): only those citizens count who were subjected to the pressures of scientific institutions (they have undergone a long process of education), who succumbed to these pressures (they have passed their examinations), and who are now firmly convinced of the truth of the fairy-tale. This is how scientists have deceived themselves and everyone else about their business, but without any real disadvantage: they have more money, more authority, more sex appeal than they deserve, and the most stupid procedures and the most laughable results in their domain are surrounded with an aura of excellence. It is time to cut them down in size, and to give them a more modest position in society.

    From Against Method by Paul Feyrabend

    So it’s not just Darwinism. There is lot of stupid Mickey Mouse nonsense out there that passes for legitimate science. You’ll find it in physics, computer science, astronomy, medicine, etc. The reason that this sort of cr*p can persits is not hard to understand. The scientific community is the only policy making body that is not subjected to the normal checks and balances of democratic societies. They have managed to convince the lay public that it is too stupid to understand science. Peer review, in my view, is mostly an incestuous mechanism that protects the experts (high priests) and guarantees that science becomes stuck in a political rut of its own making, from which it can be extracted only by painful Kuhnian revolutions.

  2. Thanks, Gil, for this interesting post. I’d like to participate in the comments, but I can’t unless I understand what you mean by by “challenges to orthodox Darwinism.”

    What is “orthodox Darwinism” and what are the “challenges” to it?

    Let’s define our terms here.

  3. Ludwig:

    Your question seems easy enough, so I try to suggest a rather simple answer.

    I would say that “orthodox Darwinism” is the theory that all biological information can be causally explained by the mechanisms of Random Variation + Natural Selections.

    The challenges to that are many and varied, and most of them are part of the ID theory, but the most important is probably the argument that the suggested mechanisms are not able to explain what they are supposed to explain, especially as soon as we try to evaluate them quantitatively, in particular to compute the probabilities of the supposed RV events. But, obviously, there are other challenges to the theory, such as the obvious discontinuhity of the fossil record.

    But Gil, with his usual clarity, had already outlined exactly those two points in his post.

  4. Ludwig:

    Just a brief follow-up: I have just read a post of yours in another thread, and maybe I understand better your problem with our definition of “orthodox darwinism”. I just would like to specify that we usually don’t mean “historical darwinism”, IOW the literal thought of Darwinism himself, but rather the classical form of neo-darwinism which was developed in the XXth century, and which is usually known as “the modern evolutionary synthesis”, which can be find essentially unchanged (even if certainly enriched of new concepts) in the thought of Dawkins and many other contemporary evolutionists.

    Probably, it would be more correct to call it “orthodox neo-darwinism”. The idea is to distinguish this orthodox view from less orthodox variants, like punctuated equilibrium, neutral evolution, and more recently evo-devo and all the new exotic “theories” blooming everyday. Personally, I often call this last gorup “neo-neo-darwinism”.

  5. One of the ploys of Darwinists is to pretend (and especially to try to fool young students into thinking) that evolutionary theory is like real science (mathematics, chemistry, physics, or electrical, mechanical, aeronautical, software, or other engineering disciplines) — when it is not. It’s Mickey Mouse stuff pretending to be hard science, and is not difficult to understand and therefore not difficult to challenge.

    Well, then it shouldn’t be hard to convince otherwise rational people of this “fact”. Yet, why is it so hard? Why are you unable to come up with any solid proof that evolution is false? Why do you have to start with the completely baseless assumption that there IS a creator to prove creation? The creator should be the conclusion, not the base, of a scientific argument.

    It doesn’t matter how many times you claim that biology or paleontology or any other field of study related to the theory of evolution “isn’t real science”, that doesn’t make it so. You have to factually and rationally show, demonstrate, HOW what you say is true.

    (All young people nowadays are familiar with computers and software and know that computer programs can’t write themselves through random accidents.)

    I could easily write a small script that simply copied itself while randomly inserting small strings of code in various patterns. After a while, the script would undoubtedly be more “complex”, and even though technically it would use the same amount of “information” (why do IDists never, ever define this term? What does “information” even mean in the context of evolution?), I could easily make use of a random generator to generate and test random segments. If they validate, the script would incorporate them, and the final result would be both more complex and hold more “information”.

    As Denyse put it: “Darwinian evolution, as a concept, is in ruins. That much is obvious. However the history of the world happened, that wasn’t how.”

    Again, you start with the premise that “the universe HAD to have a creator”, and if a theory doesn’t accept that, then you don’t accept the theory. This isn’t science. Science isn’t there to fabricate theories that make you feel comfortable in your worldview. It’s there to challenge your worldview, constantly refine it through the slow, gradual and self-correcting process of the scientific method.

    If you start with a false premise, everything leading from that premise will also be false.

    So, let’s at least let young people in the public schools know that no one knows for sure how all this came about

    If so, then don’t teach anything at all. There will ALWAYS be people who disagree on even the most obvious facts, but are you going to “teach the controversy” on round earth-theory as well?

    Science and scientists don’t care if YOU are uncomfortable with the evidence. Evolution itself doesn’t even care if you think there’s a creator. Creation is a baseless assumption, while evolution is based on evidence. Thousands upon thousands of little pieces of evidence, stringed together by thousands upon thousands of hours of work by thousands of brilliant scientists.

    If you feel hurt by that, then too bad. That doesn’t give you the right to discredit it. Evidence does. If you don’t have any evidence, then you have no right to criticize the evidence that does exist.

  6. Gil,

    I believe that if Karl Popper, the philosopher who introduced the notion of falsification to science, struggled with evolutionary theory, then it is not so easy to understand.

    Popper said that natural selection “is not a testable scientific theory but a metaphysical research programme”. However, Popper later said “I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection, and I am glad to have the opportunity to make a recantation.” He went on to formulate natural selection in a falsifiable way and offered a more nuanced view of its status. He still felt that “Darwin’s own most important contribution to the theory of evolution, his theory of natural selection, is difficult to test.” However, “[t]here are some tests, even some experimental tests; and in some cases, such as the famous phenomenon known as ‘industrial melanism’, we can observe natural selection happening under our very eyes, as it were. Nevertheless, really severe tests of the theory of natural selection are hard to come by, much more so than tests of otherwise comparable theories in physics or chemistry.” [source]

    By the way, you should not rush to equate industrial melanism with the peppered moth. “[A]pproximately 100 examples of industrial melanism have been reported in a variety of species.” [source]

  7. gpuccio at #4
    Probably, it would be more correct to call it “orthodox neo-darwinism”.
    – I tend to agree, although I think it would be good for everyone to stick to one definition – I suggest we keep to the definition in the short glossary section:
    Darwinism – theories of evolution deriving from the work of Charles Darwin and Richard Wallace, as published from 1858 – 9 on. Subsequently, in the 1920’s – 40’s, in light of developments in genetics and related studies of evolutionary population dynamics a neo-darwinian synthesis led to the classical form of the modern evolutionary theory. Currently, this is undergoing changes in light of various observed and proposed mechanisms such as horizontal gene transfer and the like.
    However this is still a little ambiguous do we now refer to ‘Darwinism” or “modern evolutionary theory”?

  8. Sorry, 1st comment and I still haven’t learned the formating rules. I hope the above comment makes sense.

  9. 9

    At present there is no evolutionary theory. Theories, sensu structu, are verified hypotheses and neither the Lamarckian nor the Darwinian models have passed the acid test of experimental verification. Lamarckism is a true hypothesis and has repeatedly failed to satisfy its predictions. Darwinism does not qualify even as an hypothesis because inherent in its basis is unpredictability. Predictability is the sine qua non of every hypothesis. There is nothing predictable in a “random walk.”

    The Darwinian fantasy is the only proposal, scientific or otherwise, of which I am aware, which is based on the assumption that it cannot be tested.

    That uncertainty is what led Stephen Jay Gould to compare evolution to a “drunk reeling back and forth between the gutter and the barroom door” and to claim that “intelligence was an evolutionary accident.”

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    Not at all.

  10. >I believe that if Karl Popper, the >philosopher who introduced the >notion of falsification to >science, struggled with >evolutionary theory, then it is >not so easy to understand.

    Is it the ‘random mutation’ part which is so difficult to understand?

    …or is it the ‘natural selection’ part?

    …or is it the part which tries to come up with an explanation of how random mutation and natural selection works together to evolve life even if common sense tells you that it doesent work at all?

  11. Hey Sal Gal! Karl struggled all right, but not in the way you imagine.

    Popper loathed modern science and its vainglorious infatuation with theory. Now pay attention, young lady: theory is highly vulnerable to subjectivity. The very thing that makes it seem appealing—its unifying power—comes from the resistance of subject to the varieties of experience.

    Nowhere is the subjectivity of theoretical science more evident than in Darwinism. It’s very alluring to say that “natural selection” is responsible for the astonishing values seen in nature because the theory is beautifully elegant and simple. Just one problem—nature can’t “select” anything. The subjectivity of the theory smashes its tender head against the self-evident role of Subject in the beauty and goodness of nature.

    Popper made a strategic concession in the face of intense criticism. Then, even more than now, it was forbidden to doubt Darwin orthodoxy. Just as Hume pretended to be friendly to Newton, whom he despised, so Popper pretended to be warming up to Darwin in order to throw the bloodhounds off his scent.

    But tell me, my dear—what about the words “metaphysical research programme” don’t you understand?

  12. There is very little left of the original Darwinism. What is left is common descent and natural selection and natural selection is looked at as a weak force/process in that it cannot create anything new only select from what among what is currently available. It is just that the latest evolutionary synthesis does not know what this process is. New species by gradual change of the current species is out because no data support it. But what is guarded carefully from Darwin is that the process that led to new species is naturalistic whatever it is and is the philosophical essentials of the original Darwinism that must be kept.

    Another form of gradualism has replaced Darwin’s gradualism among Darwin’s original ideas. Namely, Gould’s gradualism. The biggest proponent here of this is Allen MacNeill who claims, and I believe he is correct, to know what most current evolutionary biologists believe. Gould’s gradualism is not changes to the current species by small changes in the allele frequency of a population but rather changes that happen out of sight in unused parts of the genome. A very small number of these changes suddenly become functional and this is when a new species or genera are born. This is the essence of punctuated equilibrium.

    Now there is evidence that these changes do take place but there is no evidence that the changes lead to anything of consequence. These changes have been featured here as part of Allen MacNeill’s 50+ engines of evolution.

    Once the change becomes functional somehow, it then subject to natural selection and all the other genetic processes that are part of the latest evolutionary synthesis.

    As John Davison would say, the Darwinian fairy tale but with a new twist.

  13. 13

    Eldredge and Gould’s “punkeek” is nothing more than a description of the well established reality that evolution (past tense) occurred in spurts. They offered nothing in the way of explanation, yet “punkeek” is still regarded as having some kind of well hidden significance.

    I continue to pose the basic question – Is evolution finished? Rivista di Biologia,97, 111-116, 2004.

    It remains ignored by the Darwinians and so, until that question is shown to lack significance, I will continue to sign off with -

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

  14. 14

    I am curious. Have the comments by those dated after mine also been subject to the delays of moderation? If they are then why has my comment not appeared in its proper order of submission?

    In other words am I being discriminated against? I am used to being given special treatment so don’t hesitate to explain this apparent violation of temporal precedence. Incidentally this is not the only thread where I am so honored.

    I am assuming that if a comment is under moderation that it can only be seen by the user who submitted it and by no other reader of that thread. Do I have that right?

    Stated another way: do I have to complain to have my views published? I can assure everyone here at Uncommon Descent that I have no intention of abandoning my responsibility to present my science wherever I am given the opportunity.

  15. I have to disagree. Taking the physics analogy, it’s easy to explain Newtonian dynamics at a hand-waving level of detail – “everything is made out of tiny billiard balls, see, and…” But to actually evaluate its truthfulness (or its explanatory power) you need to work out detailed predictions of the theory and test them against reality, and to do that you need to know calculus. Now, it’s a historical fact that Darwinism, unlike “Newtonism”, began life at the handwaving level without detailed calculations supporting (or undermining) it.* But by now it’s evidently possible to draw on detailed knowledge from biochemistry, the fossil record etc. to draw some fairly concrete statistical conclusions supporting or undermining the plausibility of “RM + NS”. And to do that you need mathematical and scientific expertise. And so while it’s certainly possible to teach the controversy to high school students – Behe says one thing about double mutations in the malaria parasite, Durrett and Schmidt say another – it’s not possible for those students to evaluate the evidence for themselves. How can they tell whether Behe or Durrett and Schmidt are correct? The most they can do is take a guess at who to trust.

    * Unless you want to count Democritus etc. as hand-waving Newtonists, I suppose.

  16. 16

    allanius wrote:

    Nowhere is the subjectivity of theoretical science more evident than in Darwinism. It’s very alluring to say that “natural selection” is responsible for the astonishing values seen in nature because the theory is beautifully elegant and simple. Just one problem—nature can’t “select” anything.

    What a strange objection.

    If you mean ‘select’ in the sense of deliberating and choosing, then of course nature doesn’t select. Darwin didn’t claim that it does, and neither do his modern-day successors. The word was chosen to evoke an analogy. This happens all the time in science.

    Astronomers speak of “cannibalistic” galaxies that “eat” smaller galaxies that approach too closely. It would be ludicrous to chide them by pointing out that galaxies can’t really eat anything.

    If you are claiming instead that selection can’t be objectively identified or measured, then why do you think so? What is subjective, for example, about measuring the beak size of Galapagos finches and then observing a correlation between beak size and survival during a time of drought?

  17. I hear there be some in the opposing camp who feel that your mechanical and ‘artist’s impressions’ drawings and enhanced photos of the bacterial flagellum are merely deliberately fashioned or chosen to make it look like a machine, whilst they still contend that it is not. No matter. ‘Tis but a scratch. They see what they want to see, and so do we. But am I mistaken in thinking that there are yet several other wonderfully illustrative champions which trounce random mutation and natural selection as conclusive explanations for the observable natural world today, among them, honey bees?

    During honey production, the bees fan their hive to cool it and thus evaporate a critical percentage of the natural water content from the dissolved nectar, so that the resulting honey will not ferment and so become unusable (inedible) as stored food for the preservation of the colony and its future generations.

    One could explain this behaviour as an accidental mutation, as admirably related here:
    http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/012019.html

    … or even propose that the bees, apart from queens, workers and drones also evolved a fourth caste, research chemists, who, over several generations, equipped a laboratory and conducted numerous tests to determine ‘why the honey crop was going bad every year’, followed by several more eliminative experiments worthy of Edison to seek an effective solution. And all with the clock ticking against their extinction…

    Moreover, we see from this example that even nature’s apparent imperfections demonstrate, indeed communicate to us (in terms satisfactorily and deductively clear to any high school student) a complexity and purpose in natural design which we would not otherwise have glimpsed or appreciated, had, for instance, the honey had no inherent fermentation problem, or indeed the honey bee not existed.

    This example of intelligent design is probably an old chestnut to hardened and qualified ID warriors, yet I, as a layman, feel it needs restating in our community from time to time as a recurring encouragement and reminder to us that true science is on our side, and that it is the Darwinists and their handmaidens the public schoolteachers who must most often find themselves having to resort to faith, creed, and even myths in order to be able to sleep soundly at night, as well as to continue to collect a monthly paycheck.

  18. gpuccio,

    Thanks for your helpful comments. I think I have a better idea of what commenters here mean by “orthodox Darwinism.”

    As a practical matter, my position regarding high school biology classes would be to use the limited time and resources available to teach students the mainstream consensus (whatever you want to call that). High school doesn’t seem to me to be the forum for deciding the outer limits of any scientific theory.

    Shouldn’t that be left for the experts like Behe or Dembski to do in the primary scientific literature?

  19. I’m all for including a course in philosophy and comparative religion in high schools across the country. As Gil says,

    let’s at least let young people in the public schools know that no one knows for sure how all this came about, and let them evaluate, think about, and consider the options, rather than attempt to coerce them into thinking that they are too stupid to think for themselves, and must be told by authorities what to think about the most important, ultimate issues in their lives: where they ultimately came from, and why they exist.

    High school students should hear about a wide range of religions, including their creation accounts, and philosophical notions. Americans are woefully ignorant of one another’s religions. And no one should try to coerce young people into thinking that belief systems they have never been exposed to are false or evil. They can evaluate and decide for themselves.

    A major component of the philosophical portion of the course should be the philosophy of science. It is particularly important for students to learn the difference between methodological and philosophical naturalism. As Bill Dembski has written, methodological naturalism tends to turn into philosophical naturalism in the public mind, and that is something our society needs to counter in public education.

    Of course, students should be encouraged to explore and think critically about the relationship between science and religion.

  20. 20

    “Punctuated equilibrium” is nothing but the abuse of two words that used to have real meaning until Eldredge and Gould got hold of them. They offered no explanation for what is nothing more than the well established fact that evolution occurred (past tense)in spurts.

    Don’t forget to “moderate” this too.

  21. Ludwig,

    There are really two theories of evolution under the Darwinian name. One is not controversial (micro evolution) and the other is (macro evolution). This dichotomy is not made in the textbooks and it is assumed the second, macro evolution, is just an extension of the first over a long time period. This is easy to understand for students and the lay public.

    The controversy is that ID says the two are not the same and the textbooks say they are the same and that deep time is the only difference between the two. However, within the evolutionary biological community there is also extensive division on this. However, neither side has any time for ID, or that at some point there was an intelligent input.

  22. Another great post Gil.

    I’ve been debating this stuff for at least 30 years. I’ve noticed the same trends in Darwinian defense strategy – tell ‘em they don’t understand the theory, they don’t understand how it works etc. and then tell them that no real scientist doubts it and every doubter is a religious nut YEC and anti-science.

    On one forum recently the Darwinists had the nerve to dub themselves the “pro science participants”! Ha! What a pathetic joke – on themselves.

    Any kid can undertand NDT and most do. The ones who stop to think it over don’t believe it. I mean come on – frogs to princes, all by the deep magic of rm + ns, is the stuff of fairy tales – not science.

  23. Ludwig:

    I am not specially committed about what should be taught to high school students. It’s OK for me that the mainstream consensus be taught to them. I would probably prefer, however, that it be taught for what it is, mainstream consensus, and that the existence of a controversy could be, if not taught, at least not denied. That would be a great improvement.

  24. ——Sal Gal: “I’m all for including a course in philosophy and comparative religion in high schools across the country.”

    So am I. If students understood the philosophical principles of right reason and the metaphysical foundations for science, they would throw Darwinists out on their ear. Above all, they would understand that the whole scientific enterprise got started because great thinkers strove to “think God’s thoughts after him.” An ounce of good philosophy is worth a ton of pseudo science.

    —–“A major component of the philosophical portion of the course should be the philosophy of science. It is particularly important for students to learn the difference between methodological and philosophical naturalism. As Bill Dembski has written, methodological naturalism tends to turn into philosophical naturalism in the public mind, and that is something our society needs to counter in public education.”

    The reason that methodological naturalism tends to turn into philosophical naturalism is because it was designed to do that very thing. Methodological naturalism is not an approach to science; it is an imposition of an ideology. The idea is to blur the distinction between practical atheism and dogmatic atheism, as if to say the following: “Let’s make everyone think like atheists without explicitly or formally imposing atheism on them. That way we can frame the issue solely in atheistic terms while maintaining plausible deniability.” How sweet it is. Materialist Darwinists get to win the battle without even entering the arena.

    The whole thing is irrational for one simple reason: Only the scientist knows what problem he is trying to solve, so only the scientist can decide on the appropriate methodology for addressing that problem. If a scientist needs to be supervised by a bureaucrat, there is something wrong with his professionalism; if a bureaucrat wants to supervise a scientist, there is something wrong with his ethics.

    —–“Of course, students should be encouraged to explore and think critically about the relationship between science and religion.”

    That is another way of saying that they should be allowed to think about intelligent design, which can often be found at the intersection between science and religion.

  25. Wholeheartdly agree.

    In regards to ambiguity, I often hear the argument that the universe just appears to be designed – that an eagle or a sea turtle are not designed, they just have the appearance of design. Be attentive when someone claims “the appearance of design.” It brings ambiguity where there should be none. What they are really saying is that we, lay people, by claiming design are way oversimplifying things.

    Instead, chance and randomness offer a better explanation. A rose, a whale, or a DNA strand containing more information than the library of congress, emerge stochastically in their view.

    There are things in this world we simply know to be true without knowing how we know them. Knowing that I exist for example, that I want a Nutella Crêpe or desire to hug my son right now, is a fact I do know, and I do not need to know how I know it. There is no scientific data necessary. I simply know it. I can look at a giraffe and simply know that it is not the result of chance. Trying to tell us that we cannot know things without empirical evidence is a lie.

    Saying that something “appears to be designed” is like saying that this sentence appears to be saying something but in fact is just a string of latin alphabet letters that came together randomly to give the appearance of saying something intelligible. The last sentence either says something or it does not. Consider the sentence below:

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vestibulum dui pede, tempus a, consequat a, tristique sed, eros.

    Even the appearance of this random arranging of letters informs us of the presence of intelligence. Whether the bed is made or not, is irrelevant. The very presence of the bed frame, mattress, pillows and sheets points to intelligence. Likewise, the presence of words, groupings of letters and the page itself show a sign of intelligence. The universe screams design and the truth about that could careless whether it is believed or not.

    Adding ambiguity by saying that something just appears to be designed is just a tactic to foster confusion, stagnation and inaction. We can confidently say that something is designed and maintain that position until proven stochastic. So far the evolution alternative is not convincing. (cut from orig. post)

  26. Jerry:

    However, within the evolutionary biological community there is also extensive division on this.

    Is there really “extensive division” in the evolutionary biological community that macro-evolution is just a lot of micro-evolution accumulated over deep time?

    I’m not talking about whether that assertion is correct or not. It just seems to be the scientific consensus. For my money, that’s what you teach in high school science classes.

  27. 27

    I see I am being muzzled here as well. Please consult my “Why Banishment?” thread where I have exposed the tactics being employed by the “authors” of Uncommon Descent against a published scientist as they continue their isolationist, protectionist “groupthink” mentality. Uncommon Descent has proven once again to be a bitter disappointment to this investigator.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  28. Ludwig,

    There is all sorts of controversy over macro evolution amongst evolutionary biologists. I spelled it out for you. There is punctuated equilibrium, evo devo and traditional Darwinism. The first two are popular because traditional Darwinism seems to be nonsense. So there is no scientific consensus.

    An evolutionary biologist, Allen MacNeill, who comes here often confirmed this and essentially said that Darwin’s ideas on gradualism are dead.

  29. Jerry,

    I don’t see how punctuated equilibrium or evo-devo undermine the idea that macro-evolution is just accumulated micro-evolution.

    Even if evolutionary progression happens in fits and starts or development plays a larger part in that progression than biologists used to think, that doesn’t undermine the idea that, over long (to humans) periods of time, new species come into being.

    What’s the alternative, anyway? That new species arise ex nihilo? That would be quite a discovery!

  30. Re: Popper

    Sir Karl Popper was extremely critical of 20th century science and, although he was not afraid to voice out his discontent, he took care to phrase it in such a way as not to be cast out as a complete pariah. For example, in his Conjectures and Refutations, Popper compared modern theories of evolution and spacetime physics to ancient myths.

    At the same time I realized that such myths may be developed, and become testable; that historically speaking all — or very nearly all — scientific theories originate from myths, and that a myth may contain important anticipations of scientific theories. Examples are Empedocles’ theory of evolution by trial and error, or Parmenides’ myth of the unchanging block universe in which nothing ever happens and which, if we add another dimension, becomes Einstein’s block universe (in which, too, nothing ever happens, since everything is, four-dimensionally speaking, determined and laid down from the beginning). I thus felt that if a theory is found to be non-scientific, or “metaphysical” (as we might say), it is not thereby found to be unimportant, or insignificant, or “meaningless,” or “nonsensical.” But it cannot claim to be backed by empirical evidence in the scientific sense — although it may easily be, in some genetic sense, the “result of observation.
    (Source)

    In one fell swoop, Popper destroys Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity by showing that nothing can move in spacetime and that, as a consequence, the myth of bodies following their geodesics in curved spacetime is just that, a myth. I won’t even go into the pseudoscience of time travel that famous (should I say, crackpot?)physicists like Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne promote as a logical consequence of GR with impunity.

    So how does the spacetime physics community respond to this highly damaging criticism coming from a giant like Popper? They chose to ignore it completely (they could not refute it because it is a fact). They get away with their blatant voodoo science because the scientific enterprise is immune to public criticism. As a result, science, at its core, is intellectually incestuous (it engenders monstrosities) and morally bankrupt (it cannot see that its children are deformed).

    So science, too, has its infallible gods. When all is said and done, it’s all about religion, a billion scientists jumping up and down and protesting to the contrary notwithstanding. May the best religion win!

  31. Wha?

    In one fell swoop, Popper destroys Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity by showing that nothing can move in spacetime and that, as a consequence, the myth of bodies following their geodesics in curved spacetime is just that, a myth.

  32. Mapou,

    Did you actually read the entire text at the site you linked? I ask because it is incredible to me that anyone who has actually read the first chapter of Conjectures and Refutations could come away with the impression that Popper thought Einstein’s theory is nonsense.

    In the quote you provide, Einstein is merely describing how an unfalsifiable theory need not be regarded as worthless to science. It can serve as the metaphysical foundation for an eventual scientific (i.e. falsifiable) theory. For instance, Parmenides’s block universe (unscientific) becomes Einstein’s block universe (scientific).

    Popper never says that nothing can move in relativistic spacetime, and if he did say that, he’d be completely wrong. For a body to move in Minkowski space is just for it to occupy different space-time points at different proper times. This is completely compatible with the block universe.

    I will admit that Popper’s parenthetical comment about nothing ever happening in a block universe is quite misleading, but I am certain he was not laboring under the misapprehension that you exhibit.

  33. @20 madsen,

    Just think about it. Spacetime is a block universe in which nothing happens. Enough said.

  34. Sotto Voce,

    Read my reply to madsen at 22. In an essay titled “Objective Knowledge”, Karl Popper wrote “… this is a field from which the observer was exorcised, slowly but steadily, by Einstein himself.” In other words, Popper was not a friend of Einstein’s spacetime pseudoscience. Sorry.

  35. Ludwig,

    What’s the alternative, anyway? That new species arise ex nihilo? That would be quite a discovery!

    M=E/C²

  36. Mapou,

    Just think about it. Spacetime is a block universe in which nothing happens. Enough said.

    The claim that “nothing happens” in the block universe assumes a four-dimensional perspective. And indeed, if there were a creature with this sort of perspective on the universe, then it would not experience perceptual change. But we have a three-dimensional perspective on the universe, experiencing time as a dimension of change, so our perceptual experience does not stay constant. For us, things happen, even though from a 4-D perspective, nothing happens. This is the consequence of the block view of the universe.

    Now explain to me how any of this is incompatible with the notion that bodies follow geodesics in space-time (in the absence of non-gravitational forces). Remember, a body’s trajectory is just a map from proper time to spacetime position.

  37. Mapou,

    In an essay titled “Objective Knowledge”, Karl Popper wrote “… this is a field from which the observer was exorcised, slowly but steadily, by Einstein himself.” In other words, Popper was not a friend of Einstein’s spacetime pseudoscience.

    How does this quote in any way support the contention that Popper was critical of Einstein? The exorcism of the observer is a process by which a science becomes more objective. Surely this is a desirable process.

  38. Sotto Voce,

    When speaking of spacetime or the motion of bodies in curved spacetime along geodesics, one automatically assumes a four-dimensional (3-space and 1-time) perspective. The word ‘geodesics’, in this context is meaningless in 3 spatial dimensions.

    By making time a dimension of nature, one automatically eliminates change (motion), period. It’s that simple. No amount of self-delusion or rhetoric can change that fact. Sorry.

  39. Sotto Voce @26,

    Please do not insult my intelligence as I do not insult yours. Empirical science is not empirical without observers.

  40. Snappy thread title, Gil.

  41. 41

    jerry [7],

    Gould’s gradualism is not changes to the current species by small changes in the allele frequency of a population but rather changes that happen out of sight in unused parts of the genome. A very small number of these changes suddenly become functional and this is when a new species or genera are born. This is the essence of punctuated equilibrium

    I don’t this is a good representation of punctuated equilibrium at all. Where are you getting this view? Not from Gould, I think.

  42. “I don’t see how punctuated equilibrium or evo-devo undermine the idea that macro-evolution is just accumulated micro-evolution.”

    Except you are begging the question by assuming there are examples where accumulated micro evolution happened to form novel complex capabilites. Punctuated equilibrium and evo-devo are not micro evolution and are in play because there hasn’t been any evidence of accumulated micro evolution. That is what the controversy is in evolutionary biology. Things seemed to happen in big changes. Why? Punctuated equilibrium and evo devo are alternative theories to Darwin’s to possibly explain this.

    The gradualism in punctuated equilibrium is not the same as in Darwin’s theory or the modern synthesis. There is no selection going on until the magic day when the element in the non coding area is exapted for use in the organism and represents a new element not an adaptation of a previous one.

  43. jerry,

    Allen MacNeill recently reported on his blog, “[I]t appears I’ve been moderated off Uncommon Descent….” I think you’re not doing very well at interpreting his comments. You recognize that he’s been an exceedingly good source of information on mainstream evolutionary thought. I suspect that he would appreciate it if you Googled his past remarks (include “site:UncommonDescent.com” and “Allen_MacNeill”) and quoted them.

    I am not a biologist, and I am reluctant to go where Allen has tread. In my 18 years of research of evolutionary computation, I have gone from believing I needed to refresh my knowledge of biological evolution to behaving as though I knew something about the topic to confessing that I should have let the biologists do all the talking about evolution of biota.

    Allen has stated repeatedly that Darwin’s abstract account of natural selection remains good as gold. He has said that problems with the “modern evolutionary synthesis,” which makes specific claims about mechanism, began to appear long ago.

    [T]he “modern evolutionary synthesis”, [...] is based on the idea that all phenotypic change is preceded (and caused by) genotypic change. This assumption, while warranted in the 1920s, is now known to be so inadequate a description of reality as to be essentially wrong. [MacNeill at UD]

    I’m speaking now from my own understanding. All models are simplifications, and the modern evolutionary synthesis, also known as the neo-Darwinian paradigm, essentially says that parents transmit just chromosomes to offspring, and that genes determine traits of the offspring. Everyone knew in the 1920′s, as we do now, that parent organisms pass entire cells, and not just chromosomes, to offspring. Yet the neo-Darwinian paradigm served to direct and focus research for a time. And as Popper observed, we learn by finding out what is wrong with our theories.

    Now there are many theories, plural, of mechanisms of evolution that the neo-Darwinian paradigm, by virtue of its formulation, does not accommodate. These theories have proliferated because scientists have challenged neo-Darwinism, not accepted it. No one has found a framework in which to organize them neatly, but this does not discredit them.

    A slight change in a follicle’s deposition of chemicals in an egg can yield a large change in body plan of the offspring. Environmental factors can trigger epigenetic effects. I am not at all qualified to discuss these complex topics, but I know enough to know that they are of enormous importance to the question of how evolution might speed up at times. And if you can find in the literature any indication that evodevo and epigenetics emerged as attempts to shore up “Darwinian philosophy,” rather than explain data to which the neo-Darwinian paradigm was oblivious, I would love to see it.

  44. Except you are begging the question by assuming there are examples where accumulated micro evolution happened to form novel complex capabilites.

    No, I am not. I was talking about what the scientific consensus is, not whether that consensus is correct. I was careful to note that.

    My original point was that there is no “extensive division” in evolutionary biology over whether macro-evolution is an accumulation of smaller changes over long periods of time.

    You point to PE as if that represents disagreement over that basic principle, but it doesn’t. There are periods of stasis and then (relatively) rapid evolution. That doesn’t undermine the idea that small changes accumulate into big differences.

    I have no idea how evo-devo would represent “division” in the scientific community that what we perceive as macro-evolution is an accumulation of incremental changes.

  45. Alan Fox:

    Snappy thread title, Gil.

    I’m glad you liked it. I added a little enhancement, just for you.

  46. “I am not at all qualified to discuss these complex topics, but I know enough to know that they are of enormous importance to the question of how evolution might speed up at times”.

    A recently published article in Nature “A heirarchical model for evolution of 23S ribosomal RNA” demonstrates the problem with the argument for macro-evolution. The argument depends on chopping the RNA strand into pieces. Then starting at the outskirts of the molecule argue that it might be possible that this one section was added after another. And then with a majic wand say this is how it evolved. The problem with this is it ignores the functional steps. It is like taking a human body and saying the heart is the earliest to evolve because it has a vital role. Then explaining how we evolve by taking away our parts from outside in; the last thing added fingers, before that hands, before that arms and legs, then our skin and so on and so forth until we get to the heart. It completly fails to demonstrate the neccessity of the many funcions. The argument is great on imagination but is naive and childish. Nothing more.

  47. In a recent Gallup poll, 55% of Americans, IIRC, were able to give an in-the-ballpark response to a question about the scientific theory with which Charles Darwin is associated.

    You will find few high-school students who understand Darwin’s account of natural selection (from MacNeill):

    According to Darwin (and virtually all evolutionary biologists), natural selection has three prerequisites:

    1) Variety, generated by the “engines of variation”;

    2) Heredity, mediated by the transfer of genetic material (either vertically – from parents to offspring – or horizontally – via viral transduction, retrotranscription, etc.); and

    3) Fecundity, that is, reproduction, usually at a rate that exceeds replacement (according to Malthus).

    Given these three prerequisites, the following outcome is virtually inevitable:

    4) Demography: Some individuals survive and reproduce more often than others. Ergo, the heritable variations of such individuals become more common over time in populations of those organisms.

    Natural selection is synonymous with #4; it is an outcome of the three processes listed as prerequisites, not a “mechanism” in and of itself.

    In fact, very few UDers evince comprehension of natural selection as an outcome, rather than a process.

    Change in the distributions of traits of organisms is a logical necessity under the stated conditions. That complexity of some preserved organisms should increase over time is not a logical necessity. Investigation of the very complicated mechanisms of variation is essential to assessing whether evolutionary change yields increases in complexity.

    The outcome of natural selection is conceptually simple, but the empirical question of the degree to which variation in living things permits a ratcheting from lower to higher complexity is complicated.

  48. Mapou,

    @20 madsen,

    Just think about it. Spacetime is a block universe in which nothing happens. Enough said.

    I think Sotto Voce said everything that needs to be said concerning the veracity of this claim. I would still like to know (1) if you accept that GR works and (2) whether you have an alternative to GR/spacetime.

  49. Ludwig,

    I suggest you read the Vrba and Eldredge book on macro evolution that Allen MacNeill, who comments frequently here, has recommended. (Macroevolution: Diversity, Disparity, Contingency: Essays in Honor of Stephen Jay Gould (Laws of Life Symposia) Especially read the first chapter by a low life named Jurgen Brosius who was signaled out to do the review of the topic. Allen teaches evolutionary biology at Cornell.

    Since the book is a tribute to Stephen Gould and the first chapter is a review about what is known about macro evolution, you should know what is said. When you read the chapter, you will know three things: 1) why there is a controversy about the source of macro evolution, 2) there are different ideas on how novelty arose and 3) why I called Brosius a low life.

    You have appealed to authority for something that is controversial but I doubt if you know whether it is true or not. No one has ever been able to provide here a systematic illustration and proof of processes leading to macro evolution. Here is a comment by Allen MacNeill about macro evolution. It is about 18 months ago.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-147099

    By the way our understanding of macro evolution is the development of novel complex capabilities.

  50. “In fact, very few UDers evince comprehension of natural selection as an outcome, rather than a process.”

    If something is a result of three sub processes, then is one wrong to call the all the processes a process? I disagree with Allen, natural selection is a process and most processes have an outcome. Any way the distinction is meaningless and if someone wants to call it an outcome and if someone else want to call it a process, it makes no difference.

    Allen is trying to trick up someone on minutiae that has no bearing on the debate.

  51. …the empirical question of the degree to which variation in living things permits a ratcheting from lower to higher complexity is complicated.

    It is not complicated at all. In even trivial, functionally integrated systems, random variation degrades, and does not “ratchet” from lower to higher complexity. It does the exact opposite. Natural selection is irrelevant, because it does not create, produce, or edify — it just throws stuff out.

    The myth of Darwinism is that something can be had for nothing. Living sytems are highly neg-entropic, and stochastic processes are highly entropic.

  52. Sal Gal,

    If natural selection is an outcome, then natural selection acting upon random mutation is a misleading description of the evolutionary process.

    If I’m not mistaken, this is how natural selection is presented to students.

    Further, if natural selection is an outcome, then it has no explanatory power, correct?

  53. Some good points in the OP, Gil. Of course I agree with you. There are high school students who are quite capable of doing college level, if not post-college level research. If application of analysis and evaluation to aspects of an hypothesis…natural selection, say…yields a serious challenge to the results of hundreds of other studies, such as is apparently the case in the Penn State study I referenced, then what other challenges to accepted results of evolutionary biology might surface from bright, inquisitve high school students empowered to “analyze and evaluate” evidence? The 2010 science high school science fair in Texas could be quite interesting! That’s probably what is keeping Eugenie Scott up at night these days.

  54. 54

    Gil, a while ago I asked a question that you may have missed. It was about your father, who is certainly a brilliant guy. Does he have views about these issues? More than once you have claimed that standard theories of evolution are easily understood and just as easily seen to be hogwash. They are, you suggest, trivially untrue.

    I’m curious, since you’ve mentioned your father a couple of times as an exemplary intellect, if he dismisses evolution too.

  55. @ madsen 46,

    I accept GR in the same sense that I accept Newtonian gravity and Ptolemaic epicycles. None of them explains gravity. I reject the idea proposed by the relativists to the effect that gravity is caused by bodies curving spacetime and that the resulting curved spacetime affects the movement of bodies. This has been taught to the unweary for close to a century and it is unmitigated BS.

    In conclusion, I will say that GR is just a math trick, and a confusing and hopelessly misleading one at that (seeing that there is no such thing as spacetime). GR is no better as an explanation of gravity than Newtonian physics before it. It’s all Mickey Mouse descriptive science, in my opinion. That famous physicists like Hawking can claim that GR does not contradict time travel is a prime example of a science gone awry. At least Newton had the decency to admit that he had no idea what caused gravity. If only spacetime physicists were so forthcoming. I can always dream.

    As far as you agreeing with Sotto Voce, I will counter by pointing out that opinions are a dime a dozen. I think both you and Sotto are painfully mistaken. How’s that for an opinion?

  56. In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics. For evolutionary biology is a historical science, laden with history’s inevitable imponderables. We evolutionary biologists cannot generate a Cretaceous Park to observe exactly what killed the dinosaurs; and, unlike “harder” scientists, we usually cannot resolve issues with a simple experiment, such as adding tube A to tube B and noting the color of the mixture. ~ Jerry Coyne

    Regardless of one’s point of view, it’s quite easy to see that Darwinism is not in the same league as the hard sciences. For instance, Darwinists will often compare their theory favorably to Einsteinian physics, claiming that Darwinism is just as well established as general relativity. Yet how many physicists, while arguing for the truth of Einsteinian physics, will claim that general relativity is as well established as Darwin’s theory? Zero. ~ William Dembski

  57. Sak Gak (#35),

    I’m with jerry (337). Yes, natural selection can be viewed as an outcome of several antecedents. But it could also be a process itself.

    Perhaps I am not understanding why you made the comment you did. It seems that the logical (or perhaps rhetorical) reason you put it the way you did is that you wished to emphasize that given very simple, and usually granted, antecedents, natural selection was inevitable. I’m not quite sure whom you are arguing with. I personally, I suspect jerry, and I think the majority of posters on UD believe that natural selection is a real phenomenon. So the attempt to convince us that it is real (exists, happens) seems misplaced to me.

    The problem that most of us have is that it is impotent to produce the kinds of change that are alleged to have occurred because of it. By itself natural selection cannot create anything. All it can do is select from already available variations. if a variation is highly improbable, without correspondingly improbable luck or intentional creation (if you wish to throw in some other process please do so) natural selection cannot select for that variation. At a certain point improbable luck stretches credulity to the breaking point. That’s why we don’t believe that natural selection of random variation can explain all the variety of life, not some difficulty in believing in natural selection itself.

    There is one glaring logical error in your hypothesis. You say,

    Change in the distributions of traits of organisms is a logical necessity under the stated conditions.

    For practical purposes, that is not true. If an organism is at a fitness peak of sufficient height, natural selection will force it up towards the top of the peak and counterbalance the effect of mutations which tend to move it, and thereby dislodge it from the peak. In that case, natural selection will be a force for stasis, not for change. Thus change in the distribution of traits of a given organism is not a logical necessity, or even a practical necessity. Considerations like this probably explain the stasis commonly found in the fossil record (e. g., Limulus).

    If you wish to convince us that a design hypothesis is unnecessary, you might start by explaining why the development of a particular biochemical pathway doesn’t exhaust the probabilistic resources of our universe. Pick your pathway, or start with the bacterial flagellum. When you get done, the origin of life is always waiting.

  58. Sorry, that was supposed to be Sal Gal.

  59. Mapou,

    It would certainly be nice if we knew what the ultimate cause of gravity is, but that’s a difficult problem. It seems to me that GR has been a tremendous success and that it’s just wrong to compare it to epicycles. GR has made novel predictions (e.g. gravity waves, which have been detected indirectly)—can you point to any similar predictions which arose out of epicycles?

    Of course if GR is to be reconciled with QM, classical spacetime will not do. But your brief takedown (nothing can happen in spacetime) just doesn’t make sense. Do you really think physicists would not have noticed if the concept could be refuted so easily?

  60. It seems to me that Darwinism (or neo-Darwinism) (really, just take your pick) both suffer from the all too common human trait of overstating what we really know. We ALL agree (creationist, ID’er, and committed Darwinist alike) that random, chance mutations can be acted upon by natural selection (an effect not a process, in my opinion, but it sure ain’t worth arguing about) to affect minor changes (and yes, some of those “minor” changes can be extremely useful in the case of survivability of viruses, bacteria, etc.) but HONESTLY, does the committed Darwinists really KNOW that random chance mutations acted upon by natural selection ALONE has ever accomplished anything that we could all describe as macro-evolution? Or even produced some fundamentally new function? No, that simply isn’t known. The Darwinists assume it but play word games to hide that fact. The ID critics wave their hands about and claim to have “proven” that the bacterial flagellum could have resulted from RM-NS, but in any other scientific endeavor, that hand-waving would be called out as blatant BS. By the very nature of what we are talking about, empirical evidence is simply hard to come by. That’s why Popper struggled with it and that’s why anyone that is capable of divorcing themselves from the philosophy, politics, money, and fear associated with this issue doesn’t have a problem saying we just don’t KNOW that RM-NS alone could have done it all. ID dares to attempt to develop the math, science, and reason necessary to reliably detect design within biology. Only those overburdened by those items I mentioned previously (philosophy, politics, money, fear, etc.) could possibly have a problem with the mere attempt to develop the science of ID. But they do. And that’s why Darwinism has become Mickey Mouse-endorsed pseudo-science with a thick, but false, veneer of credibility. What’s so scary about admitting we don’t have the goods yet to KNOW that RM-NS alone can do it all? How about a little intellectual honesty?

  61. Ludwig,

    If everyone agreed that evolution happens but that evolution can’t explain by itself biodiversity some of the disagreement would go away.

    And if everyone agreed that the best explanation was that God did it, and the purpose of science was not to ask if but how He did it, then all the disagreement and contention would go away.

  62. Gil,

    In even trivial, functionally integrated systems, random variation degrades, and does not “ratchet” from lower to higher complexity. It does the exact opposite. Natural selection is irrelevant, because it does not create, produce, or edify — it just throws stuff out.

    I repeat that I am not a biologist. But I know that biologists talk a lot about the conservatism of evolution. Evolutionary biologists say that alteration of what I presume you mean by “functionally integrated systems” is almost always lethal. I’ve heard of the “hot frontier of evolution” — the traits that are relatively amenable to adaptation.

    Take a look at mammalian brains. The evolutionarily younger structures are glopped over the older structures. The human brain is an utter kludge. It certainly appears that evolution proceeded more by adding on than by changing what was in place.

    To some degree, ontongeny recapitulates phylogeny — though not as Haeckel claimed. Evidently evolution tends to add new stuff at the end of development, so as not to disrupt what comes before.

    Consider also Recent Acceleration of Human Adaptive Evolution (full text), Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (December 2007). The lead author, John Hawks, makes John Sanford and Walter ReMine look mighty long in the tail. Hawks has posted a highly accessible explanation of the research on his blog.

    Our evolution has recently accelerated by around 100-fold. And that’s exactly what we would expect from the enormous growth of our population.

    [...]

    [A] very small fraction of the mutations in any given population will be advantageous. And the longer a population has existed, the more likely it will be close to its adaptive optimum — the point at which positively selected mutations don’t happen because there is no possible improvement. This is the most likely explanation for why very large species in nature don’t always evolve rapidly.

    Instead, it is when a new environment is imposed that natural populations respond. And when the environment changes, larger populations have an intrinsic advantage, as Fisher showed, because they have a faster potential response by new mutations.

    From that standpoint, the ecological changes documented in human history and the archaeological record create an exceptional situation. Humans faced new selective pressures during the last 40,000 years, related to disease, agricultural diets, sedentism, city life, greater lifespan, and many other ecological changes. This created a need for selection.

    Larger population sizes allowed the rapid response to selection — more new adaptive mutations. Together, the the two patterns of historical change have placed humans far from an equilibrium. In that case, we expect that the pace of genetic change due to positive selection should recently have been radically higher than at other times in human evolution.

    Population geneticists wish dearly the environment would be stationary — that’s generally what they need to do their math — but it often does not cooperate.

  63. 63
    AmerikanInKananaskis

    It’s offensive to compare Darwinism to Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse is not responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews.

  64. Paul Giem (and I get to Oramus here),

    Perhaps I am not understanding why you made the comment you did.

    You’re not. I was on topic — Gil’s OP. I laid out what Darwin said about natural selection, borrowing from Allen MacNeill, and argued that high school students are not comprehending even the Darwinian principles.

    I long heard, and accepted, that natural selection operated on the results of reproduction-with-variation. It took me quite some time to figure out that natural selection appears as a process or as an operator in models of evolution, and that biologists, as do most scientists, slip into speaking of the abstract elements of their models as physical reality. Of course, we regularly hear that individuals are selected according to fitness. The fitness landscape is part and parcel of making selection an operator or process in models. Individuals must be selected for some reason, so we make their superior “fitness” the reason. And now, when we back away and look at the model we have wrought, we see evolution as an optimization process. In the minds of many people, evolution is an optimization process.

    Darwin did not describe evolution as a search-based optimization process, and it truly is important to realize that his formulation of natural selection makes much more sense than what we get by reifying the model. We cannot point to anything in nature conducting a search, and there certainly is nothing searching for a search. We observe the outcomes of a wide range of unidentified processes. Differences in rate of survival and reproduction could be due to just about anything. As Stu Kauffman points out in Reinventing the Sacred, we cannot identify “preadaptations” to the future environment — we are constantly surprised by evolutionary adaptation.

    This is really not what I meant to say, but it’s time to stop.

  65. madsen @59:

    It would certainly be nice if we knew what the ultimate cause of gravity is, but that’s a difficult problem. It seems to me that GR has been a tremendous success and that it’s just wrong to compare it to epicycles.

    Epicycles can be refined to be as accurate as necessary. Same with GR. Note that GR is still using Newton’s gravitational constant, which was obtained via measurement. It is also using a cosmological constant. Big deal, I say. Unless one understands gravity from first princicples, one understands nothing.

    GR has made novel predictions (e.g. gravity waves, which have been detected indirectly)—can you point to any similar predictions which arose out of epicycles?

    Are you kidding me? Gravitational waves have never been detected either directly or indirectly. In fact, GR predicts that close to 90% of the universe is missing. Imagine that, losing 90% of the universe just because a theory says so, a theory that is 100% clueless as to why things fall.

    Of course if GR is to be reconciled with QM, classical spacetime will not do. But your brief takedown (nothing can happen in spacetime) just doesn’t make sense. Do you really think physicists would not have noticed if the concept could be refuted so easily?

    My brief takedown is all that it takes. Spacetime is a silly concept. And I disagree that physicists have not noticed that spacetime could be refuted so easily. If Popper was smart enough to get it, others could figure it out as well. Many have and I could give you names and links if you’re really interested. The problem is that political correctness in physics, especially with regard to Einstein, is even more ingrained and vicious than political correctness among evolutionists. Having a successful career in physics is not helped by saying anything against the theory of relativity. Even Popper was careful to phrase his criticism in such a way as not to ruffle too many feathers.

  66. Sal Gal (#64)

    So what you were really saying is that high school students really didn’t understand Darwinian evolution. Presumably this means that they are not qualified to judge the adequacy of the theory. And at least some would argue that this means that they should be taught (unguided) evolutionary theory as if it were fact, because in the opinion of the vast majority of evolutionary biologists it is fact.

    Bright students can easily understand the concepts you proposed. The conflict is not over what the concepts are; it is over whether the concepts are adequate as a complete explanatory framework. And bright students might easily see that there are conceptual problems with getting information without intelligent input, and that probabilistic resources needed for unguided evolution are grossly inadequate, and that the appearance of design might actually indicate reality, without being able to argue these points in precise detail. As time goes on, they can learn more detail. (And many bright students who realize this may not wish to go into biology proper; related fields such as medicine may not have as high barriers to their acceptance.)

    (As for the duller students, there may not be much hope for them in this area, and such hope as there is will probably be more enhanced by clarity and openness than by attempts at indoctrination. And according to your numbers (#47, although the numbers here keep moving around) 55% seem to have understood Darwin reasonably correctly, which is actually a majority.)

    Judging from your lack of comments, you have not been adequately taught a single pathway from one protein to another with theoretical justification of the feasibility of the required steps. And from your comments, you are brighter than most.

    Don’t worry. It’s not your fault. The reason you have not been taught this is because, with the possible exception of color vision, (AFAIK) there is no known Darwinian pathway from one functional protein to the next. If there were, we would have been referred to it by now.

    You seem a little confused yourself, when you say that

    Differences in rate of survival and reproduction could be due to just about anything.

    While technically true, if carried to an extreme, this makes evolutionary theory totally incapable of predicting anything. There in fact is a coherent reason why bears, foxes, hares, and ptarmigans are all white in the Arctic, at least in the winter, and for some all year round. Without such hypotheses, the term “natural selection” loses all meaning, and we have instead random survival of the Kimura variety.

    Natural selection is in fact an optimization process. It is not a conscious optimization process, and cannot create preadaptation except as an accident. But if there is a fitness function that is different from exactly equal probability of survival and reproduction for all organisms of a given type, the population will tend to cluster around those specific forms that have the higher probability of survival and reproduction. That’s optimization. Whether Darwin described it that way, or whether someone else wants to view it that way, is irrelevant. If there is a non-trivial fitness landscape, natural selection will function as an optimizer.

    I take it that your silence on my comment about change in the distributions of traits of organisms being a logical necessity is tacit agreement with my point.

  67. 67

    Karl Popper’s notion of falsification is utter nonsense.

    Hypotheses need never be falsified. They only require verification. That is why the Lamarckian and the Darwinian hypotheses are not valid.

    Lamarck’s hypothesis is eminently testable and August Weismann laid it to rest in short order by cutting the tails off new born rats. The same experiment exposed Darwin’s “provisional hypothesis of pangenesis” as nonsense.

    Someone once said that Weismann was more Darwinian than Darwin and Darwin was more Lamarckian than Lamarck. Of course, in my opinion, all three were dead wrong.

    August Weismann did have two very important ideas that proved to be valid. The first is summarized with -

    “From eagles eggs come eagles.”

    Of course that is true today but may not have been true in the past.
    Compare that with Schindewolf’s -

    “The first bird hatched from a reptilian egg.”

    You will notice these are diametrically opposite views of the evolutionary process. I’m a great fan of Schindewolf myself, simply because he has explained why there are no gradually transformed forms in the fossil record: transitional forms, yes, but always discretely different each from its predecessor, so much so that typically each succesive form must be placed in a new Genus. In a very real sense the Genus has been the most valid criterion of creative evolution. Both Julian Huxley and Robert Broom claimed that a new Genus had not appeared in the last two million years.

    Schindewolf took his saltational ideas a giant step further with another quip -

    “We might as well stop looking for the missing links as they never existed.”

    This too is in complete accord with the fossil record.

    The other idea that Weismann had that is very interesting is summarised in four words -

    “The Protozoa are immortal.”

    When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. When an Amoeba divides there is no death and no corpse. Apparently to avoid extinction, all that a Protozoan (or any other single celled organism) has to do is to reproduce faster than it aquires deleterious mutations. The moral of the story is; to be successful don’t mess with the genome by practicing genetic recombination (sexual reproduction) which is a dangerous game and can lead to extinction. It is my view that sexual reproduction has proven, with very few exceptions, to end with extinction. That is certainly the testimony of the fossil record.

    I am convinced that sexual (Mendelian) reproduction and natural selection are entirely anti-evolutionary and were in the past, as in the present, incapable of supporting creative evolution. As near as I am able to tell the production of new “kinds” of creatures is finished. In fact I am so out of touch with Darwinism that I believe that the present biota will be permanently extinguished relatively soon, never to be replaced.

    I, with Robert Broom, believe that organic evolution was a planned sequence. I futher believe that it terminated with the appearance of Homo sapiens a mere 100,000 years or so ago.

    In short -

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

    I hate being right.

    P.S. For you Stephen J. Gould fans, he claimed that Schindewolf’s evolutionary ideas were “spectacularly flawed,” a cynical comment for which I never forgave him and told him so.

  68. You will never hear a physicist saying that the theory of evolution is as well established as GR…

    Sal Gal 47):

    The outcome of natural selection is conceptually simple, but the empirical question of the degree to which variation in living things permits a ratcheting from lower to higher complexity is complicated.

    Evolution does NOT have a direction.

    In fact very fews evos evince comprehension of that fact.

  69. Mapou,

    Epicycles can be refined to be as accurate as necessary. Same with GR.

    I’m not talking about merely refining models, I’m saying that GR generates new predictions of unanticipated phenomena. For evidence of the existence of gravitational waves, see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hulse-Taylor_binary

    If you have names and links for physicists who agree with your block universe critique of spacetime, I’d like to see them.

  70. 70

    Jerry writes:

    Another form of gradualism has replaced Darwin’s gradualism among Darwin’s original ideas. Namely, Gould’s gradualism. The biggest proponent here of this is Allen MacNeill who claims, and I believe he is correct, to know what most current evolutionary biologists believe. Gould’s gradualism is not changes to the current species by small changes in the allele frequency of a population but rather changes that happen out of sight in unused parts of the genome. A very small number of these changes suddenly become functional and this is when a new species or genera are born. This is the essence of punctuated equilibrium.

    Hi jerry,

    I’m familiar with Gould & Eldredges papers on punk eek, and almost none of what you wrote here rings a bell. Could you point out, for example, where they say anything about punk eek involving “unused parts of the genome”? That does not strike me as being correct.
    Thanks.

  71. By making time a dimension of nature, one automatically eliminates change (motion), period. It’s that simple. No amount of self-delusion or rhetoric can change that fact. Sorry.

    Do you know the difference between co-ordinate time and proper time? Do you see why it is relevant to the point you’re trying to make?

    I have repeatedly offered a perfectly coherent sense in which motion can take place in a spacetime manifold, and you have studiously ignored it. I repeat again: a body is moving (in spacetime) if it occupies different spacetime points at different proper times. Far from denying that any body can move, GR essentially tells us that every body moves through spacetime (although the story is a little complicated for photons). Please tell me why you think this is problematic. And just asserting that this isn’t change is not sufficient. Explain what you think change is in clear physical terms and why this does not fit your definition.

  72. I should also mention that the Newtonian conception – a body in motion (relative to a reference frame) occupies different co-ordinate space positions at different co-ordinate times – is also perfectly applicable in General Relativity. The great thing about GR, though, is that its general covariance allows us to provide a definition of motion that makes no appeal to reference frames.

  73. 73

    Done

  74. 74

    Above I posed questions to Gil [54] and jerry [41]. My posts are being held in moderation, so they appear way up in the thread and may be overlooked. Gil and jerry, I hope you have the opportunity to respond.

  75. madsen @68:

    I’m not talking about merely refining models, I’m saying that GR generates new predictions of unanticipated phenomena. For evidence of the existence of gravitational waves, see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hulse-Taylor_binary

    Are you kidding me? Wikipedia is a cesspool of political correctness. There are alternative reasons for the the orbital decay of binary stars such as friction with interstellar gas and internal friction due to the huge tidal forces. The total mass of the stars themselves is constantly diminishing. There are too many unknowns, in my opinion, and I would not put it past relativists to fudge measurement data (extremely marginal data, I might add) to promote a bankrupt theory that cannot even account for most of the universe’s mass.

    If you have names and links for physicists who agree with your block universe critique of spacetime, I’d like to see them.

    Ok. Here’s an excerpt from From “Relativity from A to B” by Dr. Robert Geroch, U. of Chicago:

    There is no dynamics within space-time itself: nothing ever moves therein; nothing happens; nothing changes. [...] In particular, one does not think of particles as “moving through” space-time, or as “following along” their world-lines. Rather, particles are just “in” space-time, once and for all, and the world-line represents, all at once the complete life history of the particle.

    I first learned that nothing can move in spacetime from an email correspondence I had with William Mark Stuckey who is a professor of physics at Elizabethtown College. He and I agreed that there is no such thing as spacetime.

    Dr. Matej Pavsic is a professor of physics at the famous Jozef Stefan Institute in Slovenia. You can read what he wrote about motion in spacetime in this message at a Cornell forum.

    Professor Joe Rosen (I currently don’t have a link) is the retired former chair of the physics department at the University of Central Arkansas. Dr. Stuckey was the first to introduce me to Dr. Rosen’s work. Dr. Rosen not only rejects the existence of a time dimension in which we are moving in one direction or the other, he also rejects the existence of space. He calls it nonspatiality and nontemporality. I completely agree with Dr. Rosen’s views on these issues although we arrived at similar conclusions on space and time via different routes. Anyone interested in the nature of time should read his papers and essays. I especially recommend his “Time, c, and nonlocality: A glimpse beneath the surface?” Physics Essays, vol. 7.

    Of course, there’s Dr. Julian Barbour, the independent physicist who wrote the famous The End of Time. It’s on Amazon, look it up. It’s a good read but I would go even futher than Barbour and claim that both space and time are abstract concepts, mere illusions of perception.

    There are many others but these will do for now. I am not sure how their knowing that nothing can move in spacetime affects their understadning of relativity but I can tell you that it can only mean one thing: time is not a physical dimension of nature and “changing or passing time” is an oxymoron. There is only the now, the ever changing present. Don’t take my word for it. Figure it out for yourself.

  76. Mapou,

    Thanks, I’ll read the links concerning the physicists you gave.

    In the meantime, the wikipedia article I provided has a link to a paper by Weisberg and Taylor (Taylor being one of the recipients of the 1993 Nobel Prize for this work) with this statement in the abstract:

    The measured rate of change of orbital period agrees with that expected from the emission of gravitational radiation, according to general relativity, to within about 0.2 percent.

  77. Mapou,

    I am not sure how their knowing that nothing can move in spacetime affects their understadning of relativity but I can tell you that it can only mean one thing: time is not a physical dimension of nature and “changing or passing time” is an oxymoron.

    It appears that everyone you linked to, with the possible exception of Julian Barbour, is a mainstream physicist. I don’t see anyone saying that “nothing can move in spacetime, therefore GR is nonsense”.

    BTW, is this your website?

    http://www.rebelscience.org/Cr.....icists.htm

  78. madsen:

    It appears that everyone you linked to, with the possible exception of Julian Barbour, is a mainstream physicist. I don’t see anyone saying that “nothing can move in spacetime, therefore GR is nonsense”.

    Of course nobody in the mainstream is saying “GR is nonsense”. Nobody makes it to the mainstream by being stupid. Would you bite the hand that feeds you? Not unless you got a death wish.

    BTW, is this your website?

    Bingo! I am the eternal “crackpot” thorn on the side of mainstream cowardice aka political correctness.

  79. 79

    I challenge anyone here or elsewhere to produce a single example of one species gradually transforming into a second species. All experimental attempts have failed. As near as we can ascertain, each species, like each Genus and every other taxanomic category, appeared instantaneously often with no proven immediate ancestor. That does not mean that it had no ancestor, but only that the mechanism by which it was produced did not involve the accumulation of micromutations as the Darwinians still maintain. I have proposed that true speciation resulted from the reorganization in single steps of the ancestral genome*. Such reorganizations produce multiple effects on the phenotype such that gradual conversions cannot possibly be the mechanism. The Darwinian model is without foundation. That it still persists is a scandal.

    *
    Davison, J.A. 1984. Semi-meiosis as an Evolutionary Mechanism. J. Theor. Biology 111: 725-735.

    and several subsequent papers.

    Let’s see how long it takes for this one to appear. It is submitted 6:45 AM April 4, 2009.

  80. One of the ploys of Darwinists is to pretend (and especially to try to fool young students into thinking) that evolutionary theory is like real science (mathematics, chemistry, physics, or electrical, mechanical, aeronautical, software, or other engineering disciplines) — when it is not.

    Since when have “electrical, mechanical, aeronautical, software, or other engineering disciplines” been sciences? No one is denying they are respectable disciplines in themselves or the contributions they have made to society but finding more efficient ways of delivering supplies to troops in the field, while no doubt of great value to the armies of the world, can hardly be said to add to the sum of human knowledge. Airlines will welcome quieter, more fuel-efficient aircraft but a better Boeing does not offer us new insights into how the Universe was born, regardless of whether it was thrown together by a tornado in a junkyard or designed and built in Seattle.

  81. 81

    An unmoderated joseph in #68 pontificates that evolution does not have a direction. Is that how Homo sapiens became its most recent and probably last mammalian product?

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

  82. Sotto Voce @71,

    I had to make an effort to reply to your message. You just don’t know how many times I have heard these arguments. It gets tiring after a while but here goes. You wrote:

    I have repeatedly offered a perfectly coherent sense in which motion can take place in a spacetime manifold, and you have studiously ignored it. I repeat again: a body is moving (in spacetime) if it occupies different spacetime points at different proper times.

    This is where you are mistaken. A body occupies every point in spacetime for its entire life. Read the quote I offered to madsen above from Professor Geroch.

    Far from denying that any body can move, GR essentially tells us that every body moves through spacetime (although the story is a little complicated for photons). Please tell me why you think this is problematic.

    It is problematic because GR specifically does not tell us that. This is the reason that all those famous physicists who claim that GR allows time travel are full of it. I am talking about famous people like Stephen Hawking and David Deutsch. It’s the ultimate in crackpottery and fame is no excuse for it. It makes the crackpottery even damaging because famous people have a bully pulpit.

    And just asserting that this isn’t change is not sufficient. Explain what you think change is in clear physical terms and why this does not fit your definition.

    Time is an abstract evolution (change in physics) parameter. It is derived from change. Change is just nature correcting an imbalance, i.e., a violation of a conservation principle. The reason that time is not a variable in physics is that changing time is self-referential. Velocity in space is given as v = dx/dt where dx and dt represent distance and interval. Velocity in time must be given as dt/dt which is nonsense. It’s that simple.

    So please, do not give me spit out the nonsense that one can use proper time to parametrize coordinate time. As I wrote on my website, if you think that a second time can be used to prove that change can occur in time, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. If you use tau to show a change in t, you must be prepared to show how tau can change as well. Why? Because time is time. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If t can vary, so can tau. To show a change in tau one would need a meta-tau, and a meta-meta-tau for the meta-tau, ad infinitum. And no, you cannot use t to parameterize tau because that would be circular. The expression dt/dtau does not show that t can change. It is just a ratio of two different temporal intervals measured by two different clocks. That’s all.

  83. David RinC Kellogg,

    “I don’t this is a good representation of punctuated equilibrium at all. Where are you getting this view? Not from Gould, I think.”

    From Gould worshippers and confirmed by Allen MacNeill. See my comment #49. Did you miss it? It has been made before. The all powerful force is not adaptation (Darwin,) but exaptation (Gould.) I think Michael Lynch has written a lot of papers on something similar. Will we refer to the anti ID crowd in the future as Gouldists once they realize Darwin is dead and a new king is being trotted out.

    “The King is dead, long live the King.”

  84. 84

    jerry [80], thanks for getting back to me. I haven’t read the book you mention in #49, but I have read the comment to which you link, and I’ve read a lot of Gould. Specifically I am confused about the supposed importance to PE of “changes that happen out of sight in unused parts of the genome.” You write that in PE, “[a] very small number of these changes suddenly become functional and this is when a new species or genera are born.” You even write that “This is the essence of punctuated equilibrium.”

    I just think that’s totally off-base. The essence of PE is the isolation of a subpopulation, usually in a signficantly different environment, whic allows for relatively rapid (in geologic tiem) speciation — but this still may be a long time!

    Exaptation is not the sudden emergence of functionality. Exaptation is the jerry-rigging of new functions from previous functionality, which may be redundant. Further, although Darwin didn’t use the word, he talked about the idea in the Origin. From Chapter VI:

    Two distinct organs sometimes perform simultaneously the same function in the same individual; to give one instance, there are fish with gills or branchiæ that breathe the air dissolved in the water, at the same time that they breathe free air in their swimbladders, this latter organ having a ductus pneumaticus for its supply, and being divided by highly vascular partitions. In these cases, one of the two organs might with ease be modified and perfected so as to perform all the work by itself, being aided during the process of modification by the other organ; and then this other organ might be modified for some other and quite distinct purpose, or be quite obliterated.

    The illustration of the swimbladder in fishes is a good one, because it shows us clearly the highly important fact that an organ originally constructed for one purpose, namely flotation, may be converted into one for a wholly different purpose, namely respiration. The swimbladder has, also, been worked in as an accessory to the auditory organs of certain fish, or, for I do not know which

    No description of PE that I’ve ever read has referred to “changes that happen out of sight in unused parts of the genome” which “suddenly become functional.”

  85. 85

    Now that jerry’s followed up (thanks again!), I’d really love to hear from Gil about the question I posed in [54].

  86. 86

    Stephen Jay Gould and his colleague Ernst Mayr down the hall at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology were both homozygous at the Atheist/Darwinist locus. They were hamstrung at conception, doomed to contribute nothing of substance to our understanding of either ontogeny or phylogeny.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    Not at all. It is now settled science.

  87. 87

    JohnADavison,

    Gil didn’t put you into moderation, I did. No reason to be upset with him about being moderated.

  88. 88

    Seversky,

    “Since when have “electrical, mechanical, aeronautical, software, or other engineering disciplines” been sciences?”

    These are sciences.

  89. 89

    Anyway Clive, thanks a million for at least letting me speak eventually. That is more than Allen MacNeill is willing to do at his blog where I have been summarily banished, just as I have at Pharyngula, Panda’s Thumb, EvC, After the Bar Closes, ARN and a host of other weblogs too numerous to recall.

    Darwinians ar not very tolerant are they?

  90. 90

    I notice that the challenge I presented in message #79 goes unanswered. Surely there must be a Darwinian here who is willing to respond to this frontal assault on the Darwinian fairy tale.

    Apparently it won’t be Allen MacNeill since he has already banished me from his weblog and declared here that he will never again recognize my existence. That is a curious position for a leading exponent of neoDarwinism to take on a neutral forum such as Uncommon Descent. Maybe one of the other “true believers” will do what he cannot bring himself to do. Incidentally this is not the first time that my challenge has gone unanswered. It has gone unanswered for years.

    While I am at it, here is another one to be ignored. Show me any two extant true species and provide convincing evidence that one is the ancestor of the other. Incidentally, that does not preclude the remote possibility that one IS ancestral to the other although I regard that as extremely unlikely.

    The chronic failure to provide such evidence is one reason that I am convinced that evolution is finished. We are not witnessing evolution in action, but rather the terminal twigs on a tree that is no longer growing and is about to become extinct as all real trees eventually do.

    Ontogeny remains the best model for phylogeny with the death of the individual corresponding to the extinction of the species.

    Ergo -

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

  91. 91

    Indeed, no one here is remotely interested in anything I have to say. I might as well not be here but I am as I will continue to establish as long as I am able.

    I challenged a comment by Joseph in my message #81, but Joseph chooses, like Allen MacNeill, to pretend that I do not exist. Shame on you Joseph and Allen MacNeill as well. No guts, no glory!

    “I’m an old campaigner and I love a good fight.”
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    I love it so!

  92. David Kellogg,

    You are behind the times and are spouting the Darwinist version of PE not the Gould and Eldredge version. I can only go by what they write and which Allen MacNeill confirms.

    It must be disheartening to go to the ID people to find out what the evolution debate is about. Here, we are not in some mental straight jacket that is imposed on materialist sites. You see we believe materialism explains a lot but not everything so we are free to explore all the possibilities even the exaptation of non coding DNA.

    The PE people realized that wandering off to a secluded place to do evolution is so dated. They always knew they had to have a science based explanation for this peculiar phenomenon. So the exaptation of non functional mutations became the poster child for sophisticated thinking.

    David, do catch up and you can be a hero at the other sites where you roam as you subtlety bring the other ignorants up to speed. I am looking out for your future.

  93. Mapou,

    I don’t know if you’re still reading this, and even if you are, I doubt anything I say will change your mind. Still, here goes nothing.

    Anyway, I notice you still have not given me a clear definition of change that illustrates its incompatibility with GR. Here’s the closest you’ve come:

    ime is an abstract evolution (change in physics) parameter. It is derived from change. Change is just nature correcting an imbalance, i.e., a violation of a conservation principle. The reason that time is not a variable in physics is that changing time is self-referential. Velocity in space is given as v = dx/dt where dx and dt represent distance and interval. Velocity in time must be given as dt/dt which is nonsense. It’s that simple.

    I must admit I have a hard time parsing any of this. But I think I know what you’re getting at. You think that change must be what McTaggart calls “A-series change”. The simple variation of a physical quantity with respect to a temporal parameter is insufficient; the temporal parameter must itself somehow change or “flow”.

    I just do not see the motivation for this metaphysics. I am yet to see any argument for why my offered definition of change is not adequate for capturing all observable temporal phenomena. A physical property of a body changes when it takes on different values at points on the body’s worldline parametrized by different proper times. To move is to occupy different spacetime positions at different proper times.

    In response you say something like, “But relative to what does the proper time itself change?” Well, proper time itself is the standard of change, so the only answer to this question is trivial: Proper time changes relative to itself at a rate of 1 sec/sec (no meta-tau here). You say this is “nonsense”, but it’s not. It’s merely a consequence of selecting proper time as the parameter for change.

    An analogy (due to Tim Maudlin): Let us assume the dollar is the international standard according to which the value of currencies is measured. So the value of the Euro is 0.75 Euro per dollar, the value of the Indian rupee is 50 rupees per dollar, and so on. Now suppose someone asked, what’s the value of a dollar? The answer is trivial: 1 dollar per dollar. But this is not a nonsensical answer. It’s perfectly correct. It expresses the fact that the dollar is our standard for currency exchange. Similarly for proper time.

    I suspect this won’t satisfy you, because you are looking for a more robust metaphysical sense in which proper time changes. But why do we need it? What observable phenomena are you thinking of that cannot be accounted for in the framework I have suggested?

    Take an ordinary case of change: coffee changing from hot to cold from tau=0 to tau=10. I have a perfectly good explanation of this process. From the four-dimensional perspective, we have a worldline, one end of which is hot and the other end is cold. Near this is another worldline, representing the observer, with a watch measuring proper time. Simultaneous (in the observer’s rest frame) with the point at which the observer measures tau=0, the coffee is hot; simultaneous with the point at which the observer measures tau=10, the coffee is cold. The observer sees the coffee change from hot to cold. None of this makes any reference to the proper time changing relative to some meta-proper time.

    I recognize that connecting the physical theory of time we get from GR with our subjective experience of the passage of time is not easy, but while I could not tell you what the connection is (since I do not know how consciousness works), you haven’t given me any argument that demonstrates the incompatibility of GR with our subjective experience of time.

  94. Sotto Voce,

    Forget it. Prolonging this discussion about spacetime is futile from my perspective. Thanks.

  95. 95

    I offer this summary of my experience here at Uncommon Descent along with an invitation for all to participate in my weblog where the ony prerequisite is full disclosure of ones identity.

    http://jadavison.wordpress.com.....mment-1775

    #454

  96. 96

    jerry [92], you are incorrect. I have read the Gould and Eldredge papers, and they do not describe PE as you do. Nor can I find anything from MacNeill that describes PE the way you do.

    To recap, your claims is that PE involves “changes that happen out of sight in unused parts of the genome.” You write that in PE, “[a] very small number of these changes suddenly become functional and this is when a new species or genera are born.” You even write that “This is the essence of punctuated equilibrium.”

    Can you provide a quote from Gould or Eldredge that supports this? Can you even provide a quote from MacNeill that supports this? I think you can’t. It shouldn’t be hard. The original PE paper is available online, along with a number of other of Gould’s works on PE.

  97. 97

    Can you provide a quote from Gould or Eldredge that supports this? Can you even provide a quote from MacNeill that supports this? I think you can’t. It shouldn’t be hard. The original PE paper is available online, along with a number of other of Gould’s works on PE.

    I would like to see citations supporting your contention as well, jerry. I could find nothing like it in Gould and Eldredge’s papers.

    I’d also like to see where Michael Lynch supports that idea as well.

  98. 98

    Can you provide a quote from Gould or Eldredge that supports this? Can you even provide a quote from MacNeill that supports this? I think you can’t. It shouldn’t be hard. The original PE paper is available online, along with a number of other of Gould’s works on PE.

    I would like to see citations supporting your contention as well, jerry. I could find nothing like it in Gould and Eldredge’s papers.

    I’d also like to see where Michael Lynch supports that idea as well.

    (sorry about the lousy formatting in the previous post)

  99. 99

    I am still waiting for a response to the challenges I presented in #90 and #91. Isn’t there a “true believer” in the crowd here? Apparently not. Not even Allen MacNeill? What will his students at Cornell think about that I wonder?

    “I will fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.”
    General Ulysses S. Grant

    It doesn’t get any better than this.

  100. John A. Davison,

    This may not mean much coming from a novice/amateur but I am a fan and admire your tenacity.

    I know the old adage ‘you can catch more flies with honey’ doesn’t work with ND proponents.

    Their shtick as all about slice n’ diceing of data; ie trimmin’ puzzle pieces to make them fit.

    Talk about irony! They design an explanatory model to fit a non-designed paradigm; a desing that looks like a picasso, or one of those splash the paint on the canvass masterpieces.

    BUT, a word to the wise, stick it out without the rancour. Keep sloggin’ it out point-by-point.

    You’ll get more mileage in the long-run.

    (and don’t worry about time; you’ve got lots more of it I’m sure).

  101. By the way, my name is Stephan Henry Proulx, a Quebecois currently living in Taiwan, that ‘coutry’ caught in the vise of politics. Fascinating place.

  102. 102

    Thanks Stephan Henry Proulx. You are welcome to participate on my weblog. I will be eighty one in June and anyone who thinks he has plenty of time left at eighty one is a damn fool.

    I have been perfectly civil here. I have attacked only the Darwinian fairy tale and not the poor souls who still believe it. Christ had it right -

    “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”

    The tough part is the forgiving. I do my level best but it is not easy when you have been banished from nearly all their isolationist, protectionist, intellectual bastions. I am currently being deleted wholesale at Cordova’s thread. Drop by and see for yourself. It is very revealing.

  103. 103

    woops, Scordova not Cordova

  104. 104

    Stephen

    In order to appreciate the extent to which I am being deleted at Scordova’s thread you can visit the “Why Banishment” thread on my weblog where I have copied every comment that I transmitted to that thread which appeared however briefly for others to read. I have never seen such a policy implemented before. It strikes me as a sort of suicidal masochism to practice discrimination in such a flagrant manner.

    Maybe that is a good thing!

  105. 105

    Thank you Gil for permitting me to hold forth, something fellow “author” Salvador Cordova, “scordova,” is loathe to do. I don’t have anything further to contribute to this thread unless someone has questions. I love to answer questions!

  106. I love to answer questions!>/blockquote>

    Orly?

  107. 107

    Who is Orly or for that matter who is Alan Fox?

  108. 108

    Please all visit my weblog and especially the Why Banishment? thread where I continue to expose the sordid business that is still taking place on Scordova’s thread. It is a sad commentary on the present status of Uncommon Descent as a venue for honest dialogue.

  109. John,

    Look here

  110. 110

    jerry, when you have time, could you respond substantively to the question I had about your view of punctuated equilibrium? I followed up in [96] above, as did Dave W in subsequent comments.

  111. 111

    Punkeek, as the Eldredge/Gould notion is known, was nothing more than recogniton that in the “past” evolution took place in spurts. It sure isn’t doing it now is it.

    They offered nothing in the way of mechanism. It was little more than a gimmick to bring attention to the authors both of whom were atheist Darwinians to the core. Eldredge is still a Darwin worshipper of the first water as everybody knows.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    Not at all. They were “born that way.”

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