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Science journalist trashing the Darwin industry? … I have a twin somewhere?

Is Susan Mazur writing a book that exposes the Darwin industry instead of protecting it?

Her e-book title is “Altenberg 16: An Exposé Of The Evolution Industry”
Sunday, 6 July 2008, 12:32 pm | Article: Suzan Mazur

—–

<oreword

Introduction

Chronology

Evolution Tribes

1 The Altenberg 16

2 Altenberg! The Woodstock of Evolution?

3 Jerry Fodor and Stan Salthe Open the Evo Box

4 Theory of Form to Center Stage

5 The Two Stus

[ and further ... ]

Susan, you mean, no more of the “dancing with the biologists” on Galapagos rubbish (and, person who wrote that silliness, you know who you are … ) A real accounting at last?

By the way, Susan, the intro to a book is the “Foreword”, not “Forward”. Easy to correct.

I will read and report shortly. Story continues here.

Also, just up at The Mindful Hack:

Neuroscience: Meditation really can change the brain

My experiences point to truth but yours are classic examples of brain rot? (Charlie Brown’s sister Lucy’s theory of psychiatry, but not a cartoon)

Jeff Schwartz lectures in Ireland on changing the troubled brain by changing the mind

Neuroscience: First detailed map of the Grand Central Station of the brain

Can languages be treated as if words were genes?

The Mindful Hack is news and views on the science of our brains. It supports the book The Spiritual Brain.

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56 Responses to Science journalist trashing the Darwin industry? … I have a twin somewhere?

  1. I just read the new Science magazine where they talk about the Altenberg 16. I love this quote “Evolution is much more nuanced than the founders of the modern synthesis fully appreciated, says Pigliucci. That doesn’t mean that the overall theory is of evolution is wrong, as some intelligent design proponents have tried to assert using Mazur’s story as support…” (Science Vol 321 7/11/08 pg 196)

    Wow, so creationist and IDers have repeatedly said that modern synthesis can’t account for everything and is a faulty paradigm and we’re labeled “Bible thumpers, IDiots, and Science Haters.” But when these guys come out and say that modern synthesis needs an overhaul they are called something cool like the “Altenberg 16″ or the “Scientific Woodstock.”

  2. “That doesn’t mean that the overall theory is of evolution is wrong, as some intelligent design proponents have tried to assert using Mazur’s story as support…”

    I doubt that any of the people at the Altenberg conference would support anything that looks like intelligent design. They are mainly saying that all the naturalistic processes that affect changes in offspring are not well understood and may be more complicated than originally thought. In no way does this particular critical analysis of the modern synthesis pre suppose anything other than naturalistic processes causing changes in organisms or in their origin.

    It will be interesting to see if any of it is relevant for macro evolution other than pure speculation. Most of what I seen is just an expansive view of micro evolution which is consistent with ID. I am sure Mazur doesn’t understand what ID is about or else they would not have given her access. Can you imagine they letting anyone write a story that says what they propose is consistent with ID.

    Anyone have any insights on what changes they envision to the current paradigm? It would be interesting to see what may be inconsistent with ID if anything.

  3. That doesn’t mean that the overall theory is of evolution is wrong, as some intelligent design proponents have tried to assert using Mazur’s story as support…” (Science Vol 321 7/11/08 pg 196)

    So what IS the overall theory of evolution? Is it Tiktaalik? Is it the Big Bazooms theory of evolution?

    Can anyone state it at present in a falsifiable way? Or have we gone beyond that, and are now coached by the Marketing department?

    If the girl’s got any sense, she’s got a big book contract in the offing, because Darwinism is the Enron of biology.

    If she blows it, I hope she leaves some scraps for my students.

  4. Denyse,

    Denton said there was two evolutionary theories. He used the analogy of the specific and general theory to mimic Einstein’s theories. In reality, the two theories are micro evolution and macro evolution. He designated micro evolution as the specific theory and macro evolution as the general theory. And by the way macro evolution has no good definition.

    There is plenty of evidence to support Darwin’s specific theory or micro evolution but there is no evidence to support Darwin’s general theory or macro evolution. Because people fail to make the distinction between the two all the time, they get mixed up. ID says there is no evidence for macro evolution and include in this OOL or that there is no evidence for any macro changes ever occurring. Little is ever presented for macro evolution by anyone that can escape even an easy scrutiny. The most common fall back by the Darwinist to counter this scrutiny is their claim that deep time cures all ills. However, there are no particularly good examples.

    However, micro evolution is a different story and from what I can gather is a lot of what the changes proposed by those challenging the modern synthesis is about. Most people do not make the distinctions that ID does and come here with all the great micro evolutionary examples expecting that ID disagrees with then will thus blow the ID people out of the water (witness the fish eye story last week that would completely befuddle ID). When they can’t blow us out of the water, they either disappear or slowly get belligerent or condescending till they are banned. The few that stay here rarely provide anything of substance and end up sniping at the minor mistakes that people make here. When they do provide something of substance you can bet it only applies to micro evolution.

    What I believe the Altenberg conference will provide is just a lot of different naturalistic processes that affect the morphology and genome of organisms over time but never really change the essence of any organism. If they should provide things that will change the essence of an organism, it will be at best speculative and not based on any empirical information. There will be no unseating of selection as a major player in organism change over time and there will be no unseating of mutation as a player in organism change either. There will be no unseating of basic genetic process as operating for organism change over time either. In other words, nothing will be ditched. What will happen is that things will be added or that there are other processes that supplement these processes to cause organism change. All will be micro evolution and consistent with ID. But they will still worship that all powerful god of all, deep time.

    So we will be able to add to the list of things that causes organisms to change and there may be more complicated selection processes to add to plain old natural selection and drift but after the day is over it is all basic micro evolution with no amazing changes in the organisms and no new complex functional capabilities added except by that greatest of all naturalistic processes, deep time. A few will talk about some new forms of Goldschmidt’s hopeful monsters with the hope they will not be as ridiculed as Goldschmidt was but I bet most will be talking about micro evolution or gradualism.

    That is my take on what is happening and it is all that Allen MacNeill has ever meant when he said that Darwinism is dead. So Darwin is dead; long live Darwin. Or the modern synthesis is dead; long live the better synthesis (bs) or whatever they want to call it.

  5. Well, Jerry, much thanks for clarification.

    It all sounds to me like the elephantine efforts of the Communists to save their stupid, disastrous, collapsing system.

    I hope Mazur is j enough to get a good book out of all this, and not just defend the status quo.

    One definitely does NOT need to defend that sludge to make a living.

    Heck, one could market the post-Darwinian rubble as souvenirs.

    You know, the peppered moth, the Monarch-Viceroy, the one-damn-horse-after-the-other, the “tyrannosaur died out because they never guarded their eggs and mammals ate them” [hey, don't laugh too loud, we "learned" that when I was in grade school] …

    Anyone want to rebend the Darwinfish?

  6. 6
    CannuckianYankee

    “Wow, so creationist and IDers have repeatedly said that modern synthesis can’t account for everything and is a faulty paradigm and we’re labeled ‘Bible thumpers, IDiots, and Science Haters.’ But when these guys come out and say that modern synthesis needs an overhaul they are called something cool like the ‘Altenberg 16′ or the ‘Scientific Woodstock.’”

    It’s like the old fable(?) about the mountain that scientists are climbing and when they get to the top they come across the theologians who have been there all along. What should they do with the theologians? Symbolically kill them and take the loot, of course.

  7. 7
    CannuckianYankee

    Denyse: “If she blows it, I hope she leaves some scraps for my students.”

    I was wondering, Denyse, the first article mentions that the A-16 might allow some Journalists to attend. Do you know of any?

  8. Well, CannuckianYankee, if so, I wasn’t one such j and don’t know of one.

    Apart from Mazur, I assume they would all be lads who would, well, you know, talk the talk.

    (Folks, it’s OKAY! Darwin is STILL God!!).

    Yeah really.

    I already know a fair sample of the reasons the Darwinworld is collapsing. Quit waiting for legacy media to catch up. They’ll go down shouting that Darwin is God.

    Let ‘em, will you? Good quotes for our quote mine.

    See, basically, materialism is dead. Like, stone dead. Darwinism was only important for defending materialism. Which means it’s dead too.

    Like the leg that breaks off a daddy-long-legs whose leg gets stuck in a crack when it REALLY wants to leave …

    The leg still wiggles, but it’s still dead.

    Go tell the news.

    Say I said so. Blame me.

  9. If the girl’s got any sense, she’s got a big book contract in the offing, because Darwinism is the Enron of biology.

    So true. Junior high school mathematics easily refutes Darwinian random variation and natural selection as the source of the highly sophisticated software information in living systems, and appeals to self-organization are equally ridiculous in light of what is now known. Self-replicating, information-processing, error-correcting, anti/neg-entropic software and hardware do not self-organize or come about by copying errors. Such silly speculation makes alchemy look like hard science, and attempts to defend it are quite frankly an embarrassment to real science.

    The emperor has no clothes, and is parading his nudity with pride, unaware of what a colossal fool he is making of himself.

  10. jerry said:

    Anyone have any insights on what changes they envision to the current paradigm?

    Massimo Pigliucci provided this essay. I’ve only partially finished reading through it.

    More of Pigliucci’s views can be viewed here or here.

  11. That’s funny, Jerry. Because I just recently read that the pedantic distinction between “microevolution” and “macroevolution” is just hair-splitting by 6-day creationists. I guess in a way, it is good to find the materialists eating our lunch.

  12. The ID movement surely can take much credit for pointing out that the materialist emperor was bollock naked.

    Now there appears to be a scramble to hastily cover him so that he might have some credibility when he pronounces to the materialist faithful the details on how their new cabbage should be chewed.

  13. Notice that Mazur refers extensively to the research of Dr. Stuart Kauffman, whom Michael Shermer in his latest July 2008 Scientific American column (p. 38) considers to be one of the pioneers of the complexity theory:

    http://www.ucalgary.ca/ibi/kauffman/

    Shermer refers to Kauffman’s new Book “Reinventing the Sacred”. Rather than considering “design” in things, Kauffman is puzzled by the notion of “creativity” in evolution, and, looking for an explanation, needed to postulate a creative god-like principle:

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_cultur.....index.html

    or here

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_cultur.....index.html

    Philosophically, one could consider design & creativity to be parallel notions.

    Shermer rejects what he calls “God 1.0″ (a “primitive” Jewish & Christian God), but is willing to believe in Kauffman’s sophisticated “God 2.0″, kind of Spinoza-Einstein god-nature of science. Shermer says Kauffman is the “most spiritual and ecumenically tolerant scientist.” It seems that science has proved if not the existence of God, at least a need for one.

    Oh well, we are all spiritual theists now, even atheists like Shermer…

  14. “Evolution is much more nuanced than the founders of the modern synthesis fully appreciated …”

    Let’s call this the John Forbes Kerry theory and then swiftboat it—meaning call attention to the fact that it’s the same old thing we’ve seen before.

    Life is a test, and so also is the life of nations and of civilizations a test. Nothing is inevitable—free will being what it is. Therefore we gotta fight!

    Much appreciate your confidence and feistiness, Denyse!

  15. jjs P Eng,

    Thank you for the Pigliucci link. It is a very interesting article and one that should be read by anyone here interested in the science of evolution. From this article the following can be concluded:

    There is nothing in the article that is a threat to ID. It is 100% micro evolution and as such is completely consistent with ID. No where does Pigliucci claim any process that can explain the origin of novel functional complexity. There is a possible allusion to it with complexity theory but even this really doesn’t meet the test of functional complexity.

    So ID should have no problem signing on to anything that will come out of the Altenberg conference unless some push the science past what it can show.

    Pigliucci is right in that the micro evolutionary process is very complex and needs to be augmented from what is currently in the modern synthesis (MS) but none of these augmentations really changes the fundamental nature of the MS and nothing in the MS or these changes is a threat to ID.

    The only problem is when those who espouse the MS go off and claim things for these processes that have not been shown or which defy the natural laws upon which they are based.

    Another conclusion is:

    That evolutionary theory is not in disarray as so often characterized here whenever anyone proposes something that is not compatible with Darwin’s original ideas. Rather the current paradigm is not being changed in any way meaningful and only being augmented or extended.

    The fact that the current theory cannot explain the fossil record does not mean that the basic micro evolutionary process is wrong. It is just limited. And the recommended expansions will only advance our understanding of what happens to new offspring.

    Micro evolution is a process while macro evolution is not a process but an outcome so while they sound very similar they are really very different concepts. Darwin leaped to the macro evolution outcomes in his writings but he had no basis for doing so and neither has anyone else since. There is still no solution as to how new gene pools arrive on the planet but there is now more evidence on how they can change over time. And none of this evidence has ever pointed in any way as to how new functional complexity could have arisen.

  16. There is something so incredibly arrogant and self-righteous about this Altenberg meet/affair (whatever they want to call it). As if the recognition by an assorted group of scientists, academics and philosophers, that the neo-Darwinain synthesis bites off a whole lot more than it can chew, to understate the case immeasureably, means that it is now fair game to be challenged on scientific grounds, all of a sudden! (because it has the blessings, the seal of approval of the Altenberg 16 you see). Wow geewiz does that mean that it’s not only Bible-thumping fire and brimstone bumpkins who sleep with their cousins who doubt the standard evolutionary dogma, and their Machivellean stealth-Creationist frontgroup the DI cabal, with their blueprint to turn the US into a theo-fascist state? But you mean shock gasp the SF Chronicle and Salon.com have not get the facts on evolution completely right, but oh well.. Oh thanks for clearing that up.

    So now I guess, thanks to the collective geniuses who are the A16, it is ok for others to come out of hiding (those of us who are not YECers you see) and say neo-Darwinism is incomplete as a theory of origins and change in natural living forms; because the Altenberg 16 have chosen to recognise (it would seem) very basic facts pertaining to genetics, paleontololgy, the actual empirical support for neo-Darwinism (see microevolution), straight-forward relatively basic facts pertaining to plant and animal physiology, animal embryogenesis, ontogeny in general, anatomy and microbiology (it would seem) that blew massive irrepairable holes in the walls of the Church of Darwin decades ago, before I was born for sure (I’m pushing forty).

    Heck at the Wistar Institute Symposium more than forty years ago the biologists had no answer to the mathematicians re the mathematical constraints on natural evolution that glaringly revealed the fundamental wishful thinking and fairy tale assumptions and science free speculations of the Darwinian faithful for what they are, which is why you don’t hear anything about the Symposium in the first place.

    And its only got so much worse for the Darwinbots in this respect over the decades. What with the explosive revolution in microbiological knowledge, where the discovery of staggeringly complex metabolic pathways and macromolecule factories previously unimagined even by Darwin skeptics decades ago, translates (metaphorically speaking) to a mega-ton iron ball wrecker to the already crumbling walls of the Church of the scientific materialist faith. Do I need the blessings of the Altenberg 16 to mention this? As if not having their blessings will make the nanotechnology of the cell and its defiance of plausible neo-Darwinian pathways go away.

    Oh thank you Altenberg 16, without your imprimatur I would never have thought anything remotely unscientific about the cetacean evolution tale, excuse my sarcasm (in my mind the greatest and most comical sub-hoax within the broader fraud that is the fairly-tale of neo-Darwinian macroevolution, the greatest because really it is simply arguably the most implausible and impossible just-so fairy tale I have ever heard in the Darwinian literature, and that’s saying a lot) and I would never have thought anything wrong about the Darwinian line on the supposed reptile-mammal transition and for that matter the Loch Ness monster to Minotaur to gryphon transition (oh sorry I mean the supposedly more plausible reptile-bird transition), unless the self-proclaimed giants in evolutionary thinking like Kauffma, Newman and Pigliucci dared to allow me to question all this.

    If you think I am being overly churlish and unappreciative of what is, I admit, a significant concession against the Church of Darwin from important figures in the word of the natural sciences, well let me stress this …. I am not going to hold my breath expecting any of these Altenburg folk to even give an inch to ID, and I include Mazur (who thinks she has got some kind of scoop). I mean Kauffman has been going round in circles for decades and Pigliucci misrrepresents ID almost as badly as the Panda’s Thumb crowd.

    I predict that even if Mazur bothers to mention ID in her book (and she may have no choice, elephant in the room and all that, even if it’s just in a footnote) it will be to dismiss it as a serious alternative to neo-Darwinism, unlike the “living unconscious matter organised itself” scenario which is really scientific ’cause we can cover this equally gobbledegook alternative to the Darwinian fairytale with highly scientifically impressive names that will fool most everybody. Here is one I throw in for free, “dynamic self-equillibrating low-entropy level bio-thermic macro-organisational animating systems”. Or is that one taken already?

  17. 17

    jerry:

    “…the current theory cannot explain the fossil record…”

    This is news to me. Please enlighten.

  18. Daniel King,

    The modern synthesis is based on gradualism. There is no appearance in fossil record that supports gradualism except transitions among the same species which is really trivial.

    If this is news to you then you should enlighten the rest of the world including us because they/we do not seem to know it.

  19. This is news to me. Please enlighten.

    The fossil record is profoundly, consistently, pervasively, overwhelmingly discontinuous. A few tortured examples are crammed into the Darwinian gradualism hypothesis, with no way of establishing ancestor-descendent relationships.

    Of course, the Darwinist’s excuse is that the fossil record is incomplete, but the more we learn about the record the more compelling the discontinuities become.

    The primary axiom of Darwinian thinking is: When the evidence doesn’t fit the theory, blame the evidence.

  20. 20

    jerry:

    “The modern synthesis is based on gradualism. There is no appearance in fossil record that supports gradualism except transitions among the same species which is really trivial.”

    If this means that the modern synthesis makes predictions that are not confirmed in the fossil record, please give an example of an unsatisfied prediction. (What should be found in the fossil record that has not been seen yet?)

    GilDodgen:

    “The fossil record is profoundly, consistently, pervasively, overwhelmingly discontinuous.”

    What else would one expect, given the conditions on the ground? Bearing in mind that absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence, especially in light of the sampling problem in paleontology: of all the organisms that have existed on planet earth, only a fraction would be expected to fossilize, and of those, only a fraction are situated in accessible places.

    “A few tortured examples are crammed into the Darwinian gradualism hypothesis…”

    Please cite a few tortured examples, and instances of cramming.

    “…with no way of establishing ancestor-descendent relationships.”

    That might be a tall order, depending on your criteria for establishing such relationships. What are your criteria?

    Since the main issue is common descent (versus design), wouldn’t something less stringent, such as features expected of descendants from a common ancestor, suffice to make the point?

    “Of course, the Darwinist’s excuse is that the fossil record is incomplete, but the more we learn about the record the more compelling the discontinuities become.”

    Please cite a primary scientific publication to support that claim.

    If the fossil record is complete (representing a fair sample of what existed on the planet during its long history), when and by whom was that decided?

  21. Daniel King,

    You said

    “If this means that the modern synthesis makes predictions that are not confirmed in the fossil record, please give an example of an unsatisfied prediction. (What should be found in the fossil record that has not been seen yet?)”

    The modern synthesis predicts gradual transitions from one species to another. For micro evolution which ID does not disagree with there is no challenge. For any species appearing for the first time with novel complex functionality, MS predicts it had a series of predecessors that would illustrate the transition from a species without the capability to those with the capability. Since we have instances of several thousand species in the fossil record with new functional complexity, one would expect at least a few sequences that would demonstrate the gradual transition from a species without a capability to one with the capability.

    But none exists that are not trivial gradual transitions from one species to another with no new capability. No transitions show how functional complex novelty occurred. If this is an incorrect statement then provide an example. You should be able to provide several examples if MS is correct for all evolution.

    One cannot claim inadequate sampling of the fossil record. That does not hold up.

    Each year there are new sites excavated for fossils. Each can be considered as a sample of the fossil record. Sampling is the basic process of probability. If the sample only has repeats of fossils from previous samples then the likelihood that there are other fossils that are still out there to be found from additional samples gets increasingly smaller as the total N of the number of samples gets larger. Each year N gets larger with few new fossils and nearly all repeats of already found fossils. Also the evidence shows that most of the fossil record has probably been sampled and it is very unlikely that there are missing un sampled parts of past species.

    If you like specific numbers then the following is from Denton’s Evolution, a Theory in Crisis:

    1 – There are 43 known living orders of vertebrates and 42 have been found in the fossil record. Thus, it is very unlikely that there are unknown orders that existed for which there is no fossil representative.

    2 – There are 329 living families of vertebrates and 261 have been found as fossils or about 80%. If one removes birds from this count there are 178 families of vertebrates and 156 of them have been found as fossils or 88%. The birds have only 70% fossilization. Thus, it is unlikely that there are many families that have existed but failed to be fossilized.

    Thus to argue the fossil record is incomplete when it seems to have been able to find most of the current vertebrate life forms and not to find any of the millions of transitional species that are necessary for gradualism is ludicrous.

    So I claim that there are no good transitions within the fossil record except for micro evolutionary changes without any really new capabilities. No transition documents the progress to a species with new complex functional capabilities which would be essential if the macro evolutionary part of the modern synthesis is true. To say that there is a high completion of the fossil record for known vertebrates but that the transitions predicted by the modern synthesis never got fossilized defies logic.

  22. 22
    Vladimir Krondan

    [Oleary] “So what IS the overall theory of evolution?”

    I don’t think there is such a thing. One use of a theory is to give scientists a common framework for deciding the implications of things. For example, someone can do a computation of the orbital elements of an asteroid, and another astronomer can check this and say, hey, it doesn’t add up. Others can look at it and note that the critic is in fact wrong: it does add up. This kind of communication and decision-making among scientists is possible because the theory is well defined. Everyone can more or less agree as to how orbital elements should be computed, what they mean, etc. Progress is possible, mistakes can be refuted, and good results can be verified.

    Not so with evolution. Evolution is not a theory in the sense that I have just described. If, for example, you derived implications from the assertions of an evolutionist and you show that they are at variance with observed facts, the response is either (A) you don’t understand evolution, or (B) what the evolutionist said has nothing to do with evolution. It never leads to a correction in the evolutionist’s original assertions.

    For example, T.H. Morgan thoroughly trashed sexual selection and natural selection in Evolution and Adaptation. That had no effect whatever. Both concepts are still taught as fact, 100 years later.

    There is no theory of evolution.

  23. 23
    Vladimir Krondan

    [zephyr] “There is something so incredibly arrogant and self-righteous about this Altenberg meet/affair (whatever they want to call it).”

    Yes, it’s much like how Julian Huxley and J.B.S. Haldane developed a new religion (the modern synthesis) and decided that every biologist was supposed to believe in it.

  24. 24
    Vladimir Krondan

    [rockyr] “Shermer rejects what he calls “God 1.0? (a “primitive” Jewish & Christian God), but is willing to believe in Kauffman’s sophisticated “God 2.0?, kind of Spinoza-Einstein god-nature of science.”

    Interesting. If so, Shermer and Kauffman are advocating a return to the God of the 19th century evolutionists — the Monistic God. Ernst Haeckel was its principal prophet. Funny how these things revolve in historical circles. Progress?

    The scholastic philosophers boiled down all the philosophic errors about God into two modes (not counting athiesm): deism, and pantheism. These two things keep resurfacing under different disguises. They were right.

  25. Jerry,
    What would you expect to see in the fossil record if

    a) Evolution was true
    b) Intelligent design was true

    ?

  26. M. Baldwin,

    A) evolution is true. It is the mechanism for evolution that is under debate. If by evolution, you mean gradualism, one would expect to see 2 things. First, a gradual progression in the fossil record with clearly identifiable predecessors and the progression leading to a new species substantially different from the initial one in the progression and the new species would have novel complex functionality that did not exist in the initial one of the series.

    Now I am sure a better writer than I would express this more clearly.

    B) if ID was true. Pretty much what you see today. One problem with the ID position is that if the fossil record say in some unknown rock formation all of sudden came up with thousands of new species that could be the part of several transitions from various species to identifiable other species. So far that has not happened but it could.

    You see I have a different take then most on this forum. I believe evolutionary biology is a very serious science and is treated as such by its practitioners. I look at the continual sniping at it on this blog as childish and just as irresponsible as the Darwinists who act with open disdain towards those who believe in ID.

    However, the very serious science which is evolutionary biology as practiced by most in its field is completely consistent with ID. So why should those who espouse ID be so reflexively negative with the science of evolutionary biology. The answer is they shouldn’t but should be over critical of the conclusions and implications espoused by evolutionary biology and not the science. People here fail to make the distinction most of the time.

    I am very different from Dave Scot on a recent comment he made. I do not want to buy Darwin, I want to demote him. His ideas work but are limited. So recognize his limited accomplishments and give him credit where credit is due but also point out his foolishness and how his arrogance led him to over reach and that he is not really a hero but in the end a minor player in the game but indeed a player.

  27. —–Jerry, you said: “I am very different from Dave Scot on a recent comment he made. I do not want to buy Darwin, I want to demote him.”

    I think you may have misread Dave Scot’s comments. He loves Shakespeare and he was alluding to Marcus Antony’s funeral oration, the opening line of which reads, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears, I came to bury Caesar not to praise him.” His point was that, in spite of his outrage over the Darwin/Hitler fiasco, he does nevertheless wants to “bury” Darwin not to praise him.

    Also, according to a recent study, 95.8% of evolutionary biologists are either atheist or agnostic. I’m not sure what to make of that, but I think it is worth thinking about.

  28. StephenB,

    I too like Shakespeare and my favorite play is Henry V and Laurence Olivier’s portrayal in the movie and his St. Crispin’s Day speech. Maybe the best in all Shakespeare. So I am well aware of the quote from the funeral oration in Julius Caesar and understood Dave’s use of it. I have been to Phillipi where Cassius and Brutus lost to Marc Anthony and Octavius and also to Actium where Marc Anthony lost to Octavius. There is nothing at Actium anymore except a few Roman ruins and the port is now a Greek resort town called Preveza.

    I believe the best use of Darwin is to keep him around as a minor figure and hang him out to dry as another guy who got caught up in his own arrogance. He should not be buried but humbled but he did start something and micro evolution is serious science despite what the people here seem to want to believe or the fact that the scientists are all agnostic or atheists. The more fun it will be to call them on the theory’s shortcomings but currently there is no access to do this because of all the nonsense a lot of ID proponents put out. I think the high percentage of atheists and agnostics is very close of those in science in general and not just evolutionary biologists. It is almost a requirement for entering academia these days.

  29. Jerry,
    Thanks for the answer regarding the fossil record.

    a) re: gradualism however, I’ve seen pictures of progressions in the fossil record that could only be called “gradual”.

    For example, evolution of the horse seems well documented. What’s your position on that sort of thing? All micro-evolution?

    b) If you’d expect the fossil record we do in fact see then can design make predictions, as “evolution” can as to where so called “transitional” fossils are to be found, as “evolution” has famously done? They went and dug, they found?

  30. Jerry,

    I think the high percentage of atheists and agnostics is very close of those in science in general and not just evolutionary biologists. It is almost a requirement for entering academia these days.

    Is this from personal experence?

  31. 31
    CannuckianYankee

    “I too like Shakespeare and my favorite play is Henry V and Laurence Olivier’s portrayal in the movie and his St. Crispin’s Day speech. Maybe the best in all Shakespeare.”

    I liked Kenneth Brannaugh’s better.

  32. 32

    M.Baldwin-jerry:

    Thanks, you’ve saved me a lot of typing. Please carry on without me.

    But what I hope jerry will do is provide an example of two organisms that are separated by a gap that he considers important with respect to a “novel complex functionality” that he referred to in post #21.

    And then he will tell us what is missing from the fossil record that he would consider to be a transitional organism that bridges the gap (if it existed).

    And then we (or you) can proceed with the discussion…

  33. M. Baldwin,

    you said

    “gradualism however, I’ve seen pictures of progressions in the fossil record that could only be called “gradual”.

    For example, evolution of the horse seems well documented. What’s your position on that sort of thing? All micro-evolution?”

    I was looking intensely to answer Daniel King above for a photo series of mollusk shell changes that took place over time but in the end it was essentially the same mollusk that started. Someone once provided this to me as sure evidence for evolution without realizing it undermined his case. In other words a detailed transition to essentially the same place. The new mollusk was essentially the same as the initial mollusk only with a markedly different shell.

    Why was I searching for the photos of this sequence? In order to show that the fossil record does contain transitions but when it does it supports ID, not falsifies it by showing, that is there is no meaningful new material. In other words this fossil set of photographs is evidence of ID.

    Similarly with the horse series which I understand is a little bit controversial but again it essentially supports ID by showing the fossil record can record transition series and when it does it is pure micro evolution. and no threat to ID.

    When a transition is necessary to support macro evolution, the fossil record is silent even though every age since the Cambrian has been sampled hundreds of times. Again, it is possible that there may be a rock formation that may be found with lots of possible intermediates but so far it has not been for the lack of trying.

    you said

    “If you’d expect the fossil record we do in fact see then can design make predictions, as “evolution” can as to where so called “transitional” fossils are to be found, as “evolution” has famously done? They went and dug, they found?”

    How many of these famous fossil finds have there been? I know every once in a while this claim is made and we hear a lot about it, especially Tiktaalik. But let me ask a question of any paleontologist that may be reading. How often is an excavation in a certain area made with the grant indicating that a certain area may provide unknown species or intermediaries?

    Do people plan their digs every year in order to find the same stuff? Given the number of excavations how often do we hear we looked, we dug and we found exactly what we were looking for, a specific intermediate. Not often.

    you asked

    “Is this from personal experience?”

    Yes, I was in an Ph.D program once and was ABD before joining my wife and her business partner in starting up a new business which was much more financially rewarding than teaching. When I told one of my advisors that I was “card carrying Christian” when he asked if I was religious he became a little startled and from that time on a warm relationship became cool. My main advisor didn’t care a bit even though he had no religious beliefs. I didn’t know any Ph.D on the faculty at the school I was at that had any religious beliefs though some of the students did. We never discussed it and never thought it was an issue till the change in behavior by one of my professors.

  34. Daniel King,

    you said,

    “But what I hope jerry will do is provide an example of two organisms that are separated by a gap that he considers important with respect to a “novel complex functionality” that he referred to in post #21.”

    Try wings.

    Why don’t you suggest some?

  35. Jerry, OK. Then I trust that we are in agreement that Dave does not want to “buy” Darwin.

  36. StephenB,

    Do you think Darwin has/had his price? They say everyone does.

  37. —–Jerry: “Do you think Darwin has/had his price? They say everyone does.”

    You tell me. You wrote, “I am very different from Dave Scot on a recent comment he made. I do not want to buy Darwin, I want to demote him.”

  38. 38

    jerry said,

    “Try wings.”

    I take this as an example of “novel complex functionality.” I was insure about what you were referring to. Now I see that you’re thinking of major adaptations.

    In the case of wings, could you be more specific: are you thinking of the wings of insects, extinct reptiles (pterosaurs), living mammals (bats), or birds?

    After you choose one of these areas for discussion, please identify two organisms, either living or extinct, that represent the two sides of the gap between wingless and winged. And, as I asked previously, describe what you think a transitional organism should look like if it would have bridged that gap.

    I’m trying to pin you down on the precision of your thinking about these matters. Your remarks about the mollusk shells above suggest that you might be substituting seat-of-the pants guesswork for informed scientific analysis.

    You also wrote, “Why don’t you suggest some?” Again, if you’re thinking of “novel complex functionality” in terms of major adaptations, how about the transition from fish to amphibians, from reptiles to birds, or from land-dwelling mammals to sea-dwelling mammals, such as whales?

  39. 39

    On the completeness of the fossil record:

    jerry wrote,

    “If you like specific numbers then the following is from Denton’s Evolution, a Theory in Crisis:

    1 – There are 43 known living orders of vertebrates and 42 have been found in the fossil record. Thus, it is very unlikely that there are unknown orders that existed for which there is no fossil representative.

    2 – There are 329 living families of vertebrates and 261 have been found as fossils or about 80%. If one removes birds from this count there are 178 families of vertebrates and 156 of them have been found as fossils or 88%. The birds have only 70% fossilization. Thus, it is unlikely that there are many families that have existed but failed to be fossilized.

    Thus to argue the fossil record is incomplete when it seems to have been able to find most of the current vertebrate life forms and not to find any of the millions of transitional species that are necessary for gradualism is ludicrous.”

    Denton’s analysis makes no sense. He’s looking in the wrong direction. The issue is not the percentage of living organisms that have relatives in the fossil record. The issue is what percentage of all the extinct organisms that ever lived on the planet earth is represented in the fossil record. In order to determine that percentage, one has to know the denominator of the fraction – and that is not known.

    Symbolically, N = the number of known fossils, L = the number of living families, E = the number of extinct organisms that ever lived. Denton’s ratio is N/L, but the meaningful ratio in terms of completeness is N/E.

    If you haven’t read it, Gould’s Wonderful Life, about the discovery and analysis of the Burgess Shale, is as exciting as a detective story and enlightening about the role of chance in paleontology and how little we still know about the history of life on earth. Note that the findings about the Burgess were important and revolutionary, because most of the organisms found there had no counterparts in currently living phyla. They were evolutionary dead ends that add to the denominator in the N/E equation.

  40. Daniel King,

    This is getting to be a joke. You do not understand basic logic nor probability. If the fossil record contains both current and extinct fossils and there has been a sampling of all ages and most known geographical areas and this sampling has been extremely numerous and it finds nearly all of the one kind and the objective of the sampling is to actually find the other kind then the most likely conclusion is that it will have found most of the other kind too. An organism when it is fossilized does not know is going to part of an extinct species so all fossil are essentially the same and not just part of the living group. Till just before the fossilization they were both part of the living group. They didn’t become the other group till their entire species got wiped out. A fossil is a fossil. There is no reason to distinguish them. There is also no reason to not think that living fossils could not be part of transitions either.

    Sampling at the beginning is a random process as best as one can do it but after awhile it starts to become an exhaustive process and randomness is of no consequence. I doubt that the paleontologists are any where near the exhaustive point but each year they try their best to sample the eras they are short on and the geographical areas they are short on so as to approach an exhaustive sample.

    Your request to constantly provide examples is a ridiculous one. Take any major complex functional capability of any organism and find a transition to it from an organism without it. Be my guest. If one wants to believe in gradualism, then one has to provide examples not constantly badger someone else to provide the non examples. Pick whatever wings suit your fancy. I say there are no transitions, so disprove me. I can tell you what are the crown jewels of gradualism and that is the forrest animal to whale transition and the head bones of a reptile to the head bones of a mammal. Do your own research.

    The final nail in the coffin of gradualism is that there exist no examples of transitions in the current suite of organisms on the planet that demonstrate a gradual transition from one species to another with distinctly different functional capabilities. There are lots of similar variants or species but all are explained by micro evolution and the reshuffling of the current gene pool and none that represent the origin of complex functional capabilities. Gradualism predicts a constant forking in the road as species climb Mt, Improbable and all these forks should be visible in current species or in fossilized versions but alas, none. Which is why we say that gradualism is the most falsified theory in the history of science. The reason it is the most falsified is that it still hangs around after such massive falsification. No other theory would survive 1% of the falsification that gradualism has had.

    I suggest you read Behe’s Edge of Evolution to try to understand the debate. ID says that changes can happen but these changes are limited in their extent.

  41. StephenB,

    you said

    “You tell me. You wrote, “I am very different from Dave Scot on a recent comment he made. I do not want to buy Darwin, I want to demote him.”

    I suggest you read more about evolution and the mutation process that specifically deals with deletions and additions and the error correction systems that are involved to prevent such changes or to correct them once they are made. Maybe some of the error correcting systems are sarcastic.

    But just think how the world would be different today if someone had decided to buy Darwin and was successful. That would have been a mutation that was definitely beneficial. It would have been a lot easier than trying to bury him again 130 years he was originally buried.

  42. —–Jerry: “I suggest you read more about evolution and the mutation process that specifically deals with deletions and additions and the error correction systems that are involved to prevent such changes or to correct them once they are made. Maybe some of the error correcting systems are sarcastic.”

    Thanks, but I have already been there. I am well aware of the claims and limits of the modern evolutionary synthesis. For me, sarcasm is a last resort rather than an opening gambit.

    I am beginning to think that I should have just left the whole thing alone. While arguing furiously against me and others, Dave insisted that Darwinistic science does not lead to Nazism. He was especially concerned that such talk hurts the ID movement. On the other hand, he was aware of the potential for being misunderstood. That is why went out of his way to clarify the point that he does not want to defend Darwinism. As he put it, “I come to bury Darwin not to praise him.”

    Yet, you wrote, “I am very different from Dave Scot on a recent comment he made. I do not want to BUY Darwin, I want to demote him.” At first, I thought that had you misread him and attributed to him the word, “buy,” and assumed that he was buying into Darwinism. Under those circumstances, I thought it was unfair to make that implication and distinguish yourself from him on those terms. Then it occurred to me that you may have made a typo and wrote “buy” when you meant to write “bury.” That would indicate very opposite—–that you were not as critical of Darwin as he, meaning that Dave wanted to bury him and you merely wanted to demote him.

    I thought that surely that you would explain it one way or the other, since only you know what you meant. In any case, I wish I hadn’t gone there because if it wasn’t important to Dave, then maybe it shouldn’t be important to me. One thing sure, it was more trouble than it was worth.

  43. Daniel King,

    LOL. Denton’s argument makes perfect sense. You just didn’t understand his point. You need to think about it a little more.

  44. You know on the Darwinism/ Nazism thing-

    Ok this is what it is about… PLAIN AND SIMPLE. IF there is no transcendent purpose in life- no plan- no objective significance outside of our own personal desires- and MAN is therefore the measure of all things- then that is the very foundation of moral relativism.

    Darwinism sets up moral relativism because Darwinism claims to be A SCIENCE not a religion- and in fact it actually contradicts most religious views leaving people with nothing more than science (and maybe still philosophy) as the one and only truth.

    Darwinism says that “THE BAD” is destroyed and or prevented from reproducing while “THE GOOD” is essentially all that is passed on.

    So the next logical question is “why should we want or allow the bad to be passed on?” If man is the measure of all things then we decide what is good and bad and then it is in our nature to decide which is which and what “should be allowed to be passed on.”

    Nazism is largely based on the perceptions of natural superiority of one era in time-

    therefore, obviously, Nazism seemed actually the moral and right thing to do to those people at that time who fallowed the unholy dogmatism of a Darwinian universe.

    These my friends are the sad, sad facts.

    So Darwinism when accepted as fact and sole truth about origins is logically the sufficient and even to a certain degree necessary precept of a Nazi type world movement. I mean maybe you would not have the killing in the future – but you would have the limits of reproduction and say gene therapy to produce the “most fit” human beings-

    That is, whatever they are supposed to be…

  45. in other words we ARE moral creatures that do CHOOSE what we think SHOULD BE done. SO is all religion is false- that is objectivly- then where do we look to find the compass whereby our actions are guided? Obviously science, that is darwinism, would be the ultimate truth of what we should strive towards and use to enact order and direction in our lives. We dont have to live as Darwinians but why would we choose to go against the natural order of nature?

    The only thing then that we have to appeal to outside of darwinism to guide us is our own “feelings” about things.

    I dont know about you all but I would say just judging by what I know about the history of man- that man is not capable alone of guideing himself morally and ethically without some other transcendent “being” (not necessarily person but general spiritual ideal) to bring inspiration.

    This to me s the reality of what we are dealing with.

  46. StephenB,

    I think we should bury the discussion.

  47. Jerry, I’ll buy that.

  48. 48

    jerry wrote:
    “This is getting to be a joke.”

    Sorry, I thought you were serious.

    “You do not understand basic logic nor probability.”

    I apologize for my intellectual limitations. I appreciate all the help you care to give.

    “Your request to constantly provide examples is a ridiculous one.”

    I repeatedly asked you to provide one example.

    “I say there are no transitions, so disprove me.”

    How is that possible if you are the one and only judge of what is a transition? Will you simply say that anything I propose is “trivial” and an example of “microevolution,” as you did with mollusc shells and horse evolution in your reply to M.Baldwin?

    “I can tell you what are the crown jewels of gradualism and that is the forrest animal to whale transition and the head bones of a reptile to the head bones of a mammal.”

    Thanks for citing these examples. Please critique them. (Tell me what’s wrong with them.)

  49. Daniel King,

    You do not understand the debate. That is why I suggest you read Behe’s Edge of Evolution. No one is questioning minor changes in organisms which can be brought about by the reshuffling of genes through sexual reproduction and recombination.

    Major changes in species is what the debate is all about and Behe provides evidence that it may be beyond the power of reproduction and recombination to achieve. There are several systems within all multi-celled organisms and there is no evidence that even one let alone all of them arose by natural processes.

    So providing different mollusk shells or a growing horse are not examples of new systems and as such are things that are possible without the introduction of new systems and within the capabilities of micro evolution.

    The examples I referred to are not transitions but just examples of various species with some similar characteristics. There is no evidence that any of them arose through a gradual process or that one is an ancestor of the other. They could have been part of a gradual transition process but there is no evidence to support a gradual transition other than wishful thinking.

    You are starting with a world view or a belief that such a process was how things changed not from a perspective that here we have some facts and what best explains them. The mechanism for change is a mystery but the evidence available eliminates gradualism as a serious solution. The only reason it is held is because this is what Darwin proposed and to contradict Darwin on this means to take the last major part of what he proposed and eliminate it. Without gradualism Darwin becomes just another failed scientist. Darwin himself admitted that without any good examples his theory was worthless and that at the writing of the OOS there were no good examples. He believed it was just a matter of time before someone found all the transitions but 150 years later and none have appeared except for the micro evolution examples and these are not even close to what he was expecting.

    Gradualism does work but in minor things in terms of evolution. It explains most of the variety on the planet but this again is micro evolution and not the origin of any major biological systems. Once the systems arise, then Darwin’s ideas explain variety but nothing else. Darwin’s ideas explain the various mollusk shells but not the origin of the mollusk. For that you would need a very different suite of transitions.

  50. 50

    jerry,

    Thank you for your patience.

    You wrote:

    “Gradualism does work but in minor things in terms of evolution. It explains most of the variety on the planet but this again is micro evolution and not the origin of any major biological systems.”

    So, gradualism explains most of the variety on the planet. Interesting…

    Let’s accept, for the sake of discussion, that gradualism doesn’t explain the “origin of any major biological systems.” To help me see your position more clearly (which is what I’ve been trying to do all along here), please list the points in the history of evolution where an intelligent designer must be invoked to provide a satisfactory explanation of the discontinuities you see. Did the designer act at the origination of phyla, classes, orders, families, genera, or species? Or is it at some other levels of evolution that “new systems,” as you call them, had to be created de novo.

    I read Behe’s Edge when it first came out, and as I recall, he had a diagram showing where he thinks the edge exists. Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy at hand and I don’t remember where he drew the edge. Do you agree with his placement of the edge?

  51. Daniel

    I don’t have a copy of Edge with me but I think Behe placed it anywhere between classes and genera.

    There are a fair (and growing) number of front loading proponents here which essentially means that all or most of the complexity needed to go from microbes to mankind was extant in the first life on the planet and has unfolded more or less according to a planned sequence with no further intervention needed.

  52. 52

    Thanks, Dave, although I hope jerry will follow through on his argument. I have found this discussion enlightening.

    Yes, there seem to be several points of view among the participants here about the mechanism of design creation. Which is a good thing!

  53. Daniel King,

    Fact – Evolution happened both the micro kind and the macro kind.

    Fact – Darwinian processes of natural selection along with basic genetics and some mutations accounts for some of micro evolution.

    Speculation – Darwinian processes of natural selection along with basic genetics and some mutations and some other processes accounts for the rest of micro evolution. There is no reason not to think that basic naturalistic processes can account for most of the variety in the biological world. The more we examine it the more most of life are just variants of other forms existing nearby. For example, wolves and dogs can mate so are really variants of each other; tigers and lions can mate so are really variants of each other; many birds are almost identical except for mating habits so are really variants of each other; fruit flies in different islands are also very close to each other so are really variants of each other.

    It is not unlikely that these varieties were the result of naturalistic processes. Future work on genome sequences will indicate the differences. However, these naturalistic process cannot explain where the basic fruit fly came from, where birds came from, where mammals came from.

    Complete speculation – macro evolution or the origin of new complex functional systems within animals.

    The mechanism for the origination of organisms at the class or order level is unknown. It is a mystery.

    So to ask when an intelligent design event took place has no meaning because there is no information on what, when and how anything took place. As I said it is a mystery. If the mechanism was gradualism then such a process would leave a forensic trail indicating that the process had happened. The complete lack of such evidence is the knock against gradualism.

    Yes there is a progression over time to new life forms and increased complexity within the life forms but there is no evidence of any gradual transitions taking place. Yes there are fossils that are examples of this progression but these are not transitions per se and are just additional examples of new species appearing which may be similar to other species that came before it. The whale has some highly developed complex systems that are essential for its survival in its environment. There are no transitions that show a progression of these systems to its current form. We may eventually find some but as of now there are none.

    Dave ascribes to front loading. I am skeptical of it but it may be possible. As I said the mechanism for the origin of new orders and classes is a complete mystery but with gradualism currently ruled out. Actually new species that are classified at the sub family level may be the result of gradualism but this is trivial in the whole evolutionary debate. The arrival of a new species that established a new order or class has never been attributed to gradualism. They just appear and the circumstances for their origin is unknown.

    I am being redundant and not very eloquent but I hope you understand my position. If you or anyone has evidence to the contrary, we are eager to hear it.

  54. 54

    jerry,

    Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed post. However, I’m sorry to say that I’m still unclear about some points. Please don’t feel obliged to adress my questions, which may be too stupid for you to bother with. I list them because of my puzzlement.

    “However, these naturalistic process cannot explain where the basic fruit fly came from, where birds came from, where mammals came from.”

    Evolutionists believe that birds and mammals came (descended) from reptiles. Do you doubt that?

    “Complete speculation – macro evolution or the origin of new complex functional systems within animals.”

    Would you provide a definition and an example of a new complex functional system?

    “If the mechanism was gradualism then such a process would leave a forensic trail indicating that the process had happened.”

    What would be the characteristics of such a forensic trail? How would one recognize a forensic trail in evolution? Would it be possible for you to give an example?

    “Yes there are fossils that are examples of this progression but these are not transitions per se and are just additional examples of new species appearing which may be similar to other species that came before it.”

    I’m really confused here. Evolutionists cite a series of fossil animals that they believe bridge the gap between a land-dwelling mammal and whales. Are you saying that this series tells us nothing about the evolution of whales?

    “The arrival of a new species that established a new order or class has never been attributed to gradualism.”

    Are you saying that such species never existed, or that they were specially created?

    Here is an attempt by me to clarify one feature of your theory: If gradualism explains, as you said, most of the variety of life on the planet, then gradualism explains quite a bit. And if this is, in your terminology, microevolution, then your use of that term is very different from its use by Creationists. Your term, microevolution = most of what evolutionary scientists ascribe to their grand theory. Do you agree?

  55. Daniel King,

    I am off for two weeks to Europe so I cannot answer your request in detail. Save for the future. All have easy answers though a couple require reading of Denton and the Design of Life to get the details.

  56. jerry,

    Enjoy your trip! Where in Europe?

    I’m going to Italy to see Otzi the Ice Man in October.

    Best wishes,

    Daniel

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