Home » Comp. Sci. / Eng., Darwinism, Intelligent Design » The Blind Watchbreaker would dispose of lunches even if they were free — mootness of anti-NFL arguments

The Blind Watchbreaker would dispose of lunches even if they were free — mootness of anti-NFL arguments

Our colleague Elizabeth Liddle has described the process of human design as trial and error, tinkering and iteration. Like Dawkins, she has argued nature (like human designers) is able to construct biological designs via trial and error, tinkering and iteration. However, when nature is properly compared and contrasted with the way humans go about creating designs, it is apparent Dawkins’ claim of a blind watchmaker is false.

I refer to Elizabeth’s description because she articulated some aspects of the blind watchmaker hypothesis better than Dawkins, but in so doing actually helped highlight why Dawkins’ blind watchmaker is refuted by the evidence.

[this is a follow up post to Selection falsely called a mechanism when it should be called an outcome]

THE CHALLENGE OF OOL AND SUFFICIENT COMPLEXITY FOR SELECTION TO WORK
Darwinists will often say, “Origin-of-life (OOL) is a different issue than biological evolution”, to which I say “fine, so how again will mindless chemical soups construct a blind watchmaker in the first place?” Margulis suggests the step from dead chemicals to an evolvable cell is more difficult than from a primitive cell to a human.

Hence, as long as OOL remains unsolved, the question of mindless origins remains unsolved, and in the scheme of things, demonstrating mindless OOL is at least as great a problem if not a greater problem than demonstrating mindless biological evolution.

When we see a dead organism, we see how the biological chemicals evolve — they evolve farther from life not closer too it. A dead cell will have better biological materials in it than all the world’s best OOL labs can synthesize from scratch, and yet, a dead cell evolves away from life, not toward it.

Even Darwin himself conceded the first life was a created, not evolved.

the first creature, the progenitor of innumerable extinct and living descendants, was created.

Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator,

Charles Darwin
Origin of Species
Chapter 14

Genetic algorithms are put forward as evidence for Darwinian evolution. But for Genetic Algorithms to create novel designs, consider that at a bare minimum one needs electricity, transformers, transistors, VLSI circuits, chip makers, computer factories, computers, memory banks, operating systems, machine language, assembly language, compilers or interpreters, compilable and semantically sensible programs to implement the Genetic Algorithm, etc. Genetic algorithms are trivial in complexity compared to the collective societal complexity required to make the computer genetic algorithm possible in the first place. For genetic algorithms to work in human affairs, they need intelligence, hence GAs are anything but evidence of blind mindless processes.

Would I say that a mindless printer printing a document is evidence that mindless forces can create literature from scratch, or a video game creating novel adventures for gamers evidence that mindless forces can create intelligently designed stories from scratch? No, because printers and video games need intelligence to create them in the first place. So Darwinists shouldn’t be putting forward GAs as evidence that intelligence is not needed for the emergence of complexity. If we were fair in applying the analogy of man-made GAs, printers, and video games to biology, the fact that these systems need a huge amount of intelligently designed complexity to implement them suggests that even for Darwinian evolution to take place, there needs to be a substantial amount of intelligent design.

NATURE DISPOSES OF LUNCHES VIA MASS EXTINCTION AND SELECTIVE EXTINCTION
Dembski and Marks argue that mindlessly formed fitness functions perform no better than chance on average unless the fitness functions are intelligently designed and the search space has special properties making it amenable to selection. For example, the travelling salesman problem can be solved via genetic algorithms, but long passwords, complex encryption cannot be. But even in the case of the travelling salesman problem, the genetic algorithm cannot be haphazardly slapped together, it needs intelligent design. These limitations on genetic algorithms are described by the No Free Lunch (NFL) theorems.

But even supposing lunch is free, nature disposes of free lunches in the form of mass extinction in the past and selective extinction in the present. See: The price of cherry picking for addicted gamblers and believers in Darwinism.

We know of mass extinction in the past. Raup estimates the following:

Approximately 250,000 fossil species have been cataloged. According to Raup’s figures (based on estimates of average species longevity and standing diversity over the age of the earth), between 5 and 50 billion species may have lived during earth’s long history, of which at most 40 million or so exist today.

Raup

Though the 55 billion figure seems ridiculously inflated to me, there is little question of mass extinction in the past. In recent times, and in the near future, the score sheet for Darwinism in terms of appearances (wins) and disappearances (loss) of species is:

Wins: 0
Losses: thousands
Net: -thousands

The empirical evidence says even if lunches were free, nature would eventually dispose of them anyway (see: Death of the Fittest), hence not only are Darwinists up against the ropes because of NFL theorems, even if Darwinists found a way to weasel some credibility for Darwinism through extreme deviation from expectation of NLF (see here, here, here, here ) these deviations would still be moot, as evidenced by nature disposing of the lunches it has…

Genetic algorithms where complexity is gradually eliminated and all the creatures go extinct would seem to be a more accurate model of biological reality rather than Avida and Weasel, but such reality-based simulations are dismissed by Darwinists unless of course they are arguing in favor of conservation and eugenics and against anthropogenic global warming.

SELECTIVELY DISADVANTAGED DESIGNS
Related to mass extinction and selective extinction, is the problem of selectively disadvantaged designs.

Broken parts in anti-biotic resistant bacteria, blindness in cave fish, sickle cell anemia, etc. are examples of how nature destroys designs rather than creating them. As Behe pointed out in a peer-reviewed paper, the first rule of adaptive evolution is destruction of functioning designs, not creation of them.

Nature is under no obligation to preserve designs, and can be seen to actively destroy them. Like a boat in dire straights, the crew will sometimes jettison the cargo in order to adapt to the environment. So it is with natural selection, designs are often disposed of in exchange for reproductive success. Expediency takes priority over innovation. Free lunches are disposed of even when generously available.

PARTIAL OR FAILED DESIGNS ON THE ROAD TO SUCCESSFUL DESIGNS
Partially formed ideas can persist in the mind or workshop of the designer. Even failed prototypes are informative to the designer as to which design route not to take in the next iteration. Ill-formed designs in the mind of a designer do not immediately terminate the possibility of further improvement of the design. The ability of a design to persist even when it is dysfunctional is crucial to the design process.

But nature is no so kind with dysfunctional designs. In nature, especially if a function is vital, partially formed or failed variants are dispensed with. Variants could be lethal to the organism, thus natural selection rather than fostering innovation, precludes it. As has been said by other scientists:

many genomic features could not have emerged without a near-complete disengagement of the power of natural selection

Michael Lynch
opening, The Origins of Genome Architecture

and

a relative lack of natural selection may be the prerequisite for major evolutionary advance

Mae Wan Ho
Beyond Neo-Darwinism

and

The internal contradiction in its [natural selections’] major theoretical cornerstone — Fisher’s fundamental theorem

traits having been subjected to heavy selection pressures, because of their importance in the lives of the organisms, should be less variable than less important traits….
traits that have been most important in the lives of organisms up to this moment will be least likely to be able to evolve further!

Stanley Salthe
Critique of Natural Selection

As Stephen Gould wisely said, “what good is half a wing?” Non-functioning wings ought to be a liability that selection would eliminate. The false presumption by Dawkins is that in going from simple primitive forms to final complex forms, the intermediate forms are more functional than the simple forms. But that assumption is false, except possibly for some pathological examples. As an illustration, consider evolving a new kind of heart with different plumbing, the intermediate stages would be lethal….

Important transitionals are not found in the fossil record because in principle they could not exist. Natural selection hinders innovation, it doesn’t foster it. The transitionals are not found in the fossil record maybe because they were never there.

Thus, it is wrong to presume selection implies a road to higher complexity and innovation. It does not. Part of the reason for this false belief is selection is falsely called a mechanism when instead it should be called an outcome. [Note: no Darwinist has even challenged that essay, was it because the points were too unassailable? :-)]

Intelligence has foresight, natural selection doesn’t. A tinkering intelligence will see the value of exploring partially formed or ill-formed designs in his mind or workshop. Blueprints and incomplete ideas can stay alive on the shelf for long periods before being revisited. Da Vinci conceived of a submarine about 400 hundred years before the submarine came to serious fruition. The conception of an airplane may have been at least 1000 years before the Wright brothers, through many failures, created controlled powered flight. The failed intermediate airplanes didn’t stop them from improving, whereas in nature, if the path to improvement must be through non-functioning forms, selection will not construct flying machines. Wilbur Wright, in the midst of despair after one of his failed experiments said:

Not within a thousand years will man ever fly.

But intelligence often has purpose, sometimes relentless purpose, whereas mindless nature does not. So what if beetles lose their wings and pterodactyls go extinct, nature, unlike Wilbur Wright and Werner von Braun, has no reason to reassemble phoenix from ashes of failed experiments and reach for the stars….

THE EFFECT OF MUTATIONS IN THE MIND VERSUS MUTATIONS IN THE WILD

Mutating ideas in the human mind or even in Genetic Algorithms doesn’t necessarily kill the idea. For example, I uncovered a very embarrassing fact in Avida 1.6. I had this population of Avida organisms, and I cranked up the simulated cosmic radiation level to the maximum. I likened the cosmic bombardment simulation to putting a creature in a microwave/x-ray oven for 3 weeks and then demanding the creatures reproduce — and the creatures kept happily reproducing!

In one of the most exhausting debates between a Creationist and Darwinist I’ve ever witnessed on the net, Richard Hoppe and I, politely and civilly argued for weeks. He had me up against the ropes because I was unfamiliar with Avida, but then I got a break when I demonstrated Avida creatures kept replicating even under intense simulated cosmic radiation. In the real world, survival (much less upward evolution) under such intense radiation won’t happen, but in the make-believe GA world of ideas anything is possible! ( you must be logged into ARN, then follow this link: RBH vs. Sal: Natural Selection Goes the Wrong Way).

Hence, ideas don’t die even if they are mutated into functionless zombies. Ideas can be dead and then later brought back to life in the mind. What constitutes survivability for ideas in the mind is arbitrary. But this is not the case in nature. Mutations in the wild can lead to deterioration and death, not innovation toward more integrated complexity.

Hence, even supposing there are free lunches in man-made genetic algorithms, nature doesn’t work like a man-made genetic algorithm. In nature, physics and chemistry determine what ideas and designs can live on to the next generation, whereas in the mind or in genetic algorithms, there is no such requirement.

DIRECTED MUTATIONS VERSUS RANDOM MUTATIONS
Like a locksmith or lock factory creating a key for a lock, the keys are crafted with the lock in mind versus taking random lumps of metal and mutating it with random strikes of a hammer or cuts with a grinding tool and via random trial and error arriving at a working key. Because a real watchmaker has an architecture in mind, he reduces the search time to find or create the matching parts versus using random swings of a sledgehammer on random materials to make a watch. Even with man-made genetic algorithms, the fitness functions are carefully crafted, they are anything but randomly hammered fitness functions.

By way of contrast, mutation and selection in the wild, like a blind watchbreaker, will find a way to diverge from a design solution (such as with mass extinction, blindness in cavefish, antibiotic resistant bacteria, wingless beetles, etc.). When a lunch might possibly be free through a little foresight (such as matching locks to keys, or parts of a watch with the whole of the watch), nature won’t take the free lunch, because it has no reason to craft fitness functions that will take advantage of a free lunch. All of Darwinist railing against NFL theorems are moot if nature takes random fitness functions or anti-design fitness functions over ones that would work.

In accelerated mutation experiments, we see where mutation leads — usually to disaster, not greater complexity. On what grounds should we suppose slower mutation rates will necessarily build integrated complexity? This is like saying we’ll smash watch parts with a hammer only once every 10 years instead of every 10 seconds, the final result is the same, a broken watch. In biology, the slow mutation rates allow populations to sometimes eliminate defects, and recover, but the point is, if fast mutation leads to no new innovation, on what logical grounds should slow mutation lead to new innovation either? Slow mutation only keeps the population from dying, it is misleading to suggest that slow mutation necessarily leads to innovation. Slow mutation and population persistence may allow for more trials, but if selection destroys necessary (but dysfunctional) intermediates, at best, slow mutation rates hide the problem mutation poses for Darwinism, it doesn’t eliminate it.

SUMMARY
It is understandable that we might be inclined to think nature works like a watchmaker when we see mutation followed by occasional adaptation. Superficially, selection in the wild appears to parallel the way we think and design, but the apparent parallel disappears upon closer inspection.

Darwinist statistics on the success of natural selection are distorted by confirmation bias. Darwinists focus primarily on nominal adaptations rather than including complete extinctions in the fossil record and ongoing extinction in the present day. Secondly, the adaptations are often of the dysfunctional variety (broken pumps in bacterial antibiotic resistant bacteria, winglessness in beetles) or trivial variety (coloring of peppered moths of thickness of beaks in finches). Further, selection is falsely called a mechanism when it should be called an outcome to the exclusion of other mechanisms that create complexity (such as bacterial or even human genetic engineering).

And if biological complexity in the wild is declining, in addition to the above considerations, it is clear, mindless nature is not a blind watchmaker but rather a blind watchbreaker. It is thus a moot point if free lunch can be discovered via Darwinian processes since nature seems to ignore or dispose of the lunches it already has. Nature has no inherent reason to select life over death (in fact the laws of physics dictate that nature should be more likely to select death and dysfunction rather life and function). This fact is borne out by empirical observation.

Ideas can survive mutations in the mind of the designer because even ill-formed ideas can remain in the mind until they are improved, but ill-formed designs in the wild will not survive to find further improvement. The process of directing mutations by designers (tinkering) is nothing like the process of random mutation in the wild which are empirically demonstrated to destroy function.

If Elizabeth Liddle, Richard Dawkins or others argue natural selection works like blind watchmaker, consider this essay. Nature is not a blind watchmaker it is a blind watchbreaker. If you can grab a free lunch, grab it, because the blind watchbreaker won’t.

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86 Responses to The Blind Watchbreaker would dispose of lunches even if they were free — mootness of anti-NFL arguments

  1. It’s a great article, but every time I see NFL, I imagine these scientists who have great frustrations with the national football league.

  2. Every empirical evidence shows that procesess of non-living nature heads inexorably toward a state of thermal, mechanical, radiative and chemical equilibrium or, in other words, toward a state of minimum total potential energy…and not toward a state of cybernetic systems which transform matter into state needed by other cybernetic systems (for example: intron-exon macromolecule(pre_mRNA) into intron macromolecule(m_RNA)). Relation between cybernetic(bio) systems is formal not physicochemical.
    Simply, molecules, atoms, subatomic particles and four fundamental interactions do not have the potential to create formal relations between biological systems.
    If someone in “atheistic creationism”(a priori idea that “all things were created by matter and? energy”) community claims that there is such a potential I would ask him to show by what law of physics or chemistry atoms must arrange themselves into the state od RNA slicing system and its signaling and regulatory networks just because cell can not produce functional proteins from RNA macromolecule containing introns.

  3. It is very telling that the evos/ anti-IDists are leaving this thread alone…

  4. It is very telling that the evos/ anti-IDists are leaving this thread alone…

    Darwinists, isn’t there anything you want to say? KeithS, where are you?

  5. Sal,

    “They” only jump on your threads when “they” think that you are wrong. That should also tell you something. ;)

  6. Beating up Darwinism at UD is like someone beating a dead horse, or Darwin beating puppies, it’s not very sporting, so I’m cross posting this at TSZ:
    The Blind Watchbreaker would dispose of lunches even if they were free — mootness of anti-NFL arguments.

    Readers are invited to monitor the responses by the Darwinists.

    There are various strategies that have been used against me in the past to engage what I put on the table:

    1. ad hominem
    2. misrepresentation
    3. mis direction
    4. start argements over definitions just to get distractions going
    5. equivocation
    6. red herrings
    etc.

    There is a manual of rhetorical maneuvers to use when defending an indefensible argument:
    Manual

    The trick is identifying which maneuver is in play and then engineering a succinct and clever response. Succinct responses are not so easy.

    But sometimes when a rhetorical maneuver is used, it ends up backfiring as happened with this example:

    The Law of Large Numbers vs. KeithS, Eigenstate and my other TSZ critics

  7. The Darwinists pretty much left this thread alone as well:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....n-outcome/

    :-)

  8. Allan Miller fires off the first insight at TSZ:

    He was Wrong! And he stole his (Wrong) ideas! And he beat puppies and had a eugenecist for a cousin!

    Galton was the eugenecist cousin, Darwin also married his other cousin, Emma. But that’s beside the point.

  9. And Neil Rickert continues to prove that he is totally clueless.

    But still no evidence that darwinian evolution can construct anything.

  10. @3, indeed.

  11. ‘But still no evidence that darwinian evolution can construct anything.’

    How can it, Joe? As you said, in effect, ‘random’ is ‘dumb.’ What is it about the word, ‘No’, simple good sense, nay simple logic, compels us to say to them again and again, as if to a child pushing boundaries on its wee journey of discovery.

  12. 12

    I also see no responses at TSZ that refute ANY of your points.

  13. Sal,

    Darwinists, isn’t there anything you want to say? KeithS, where are you?

    I’m busy on other threads. You UD contributors should learn to pace yourselves.

    If you want people to pay attention to your posts, then don’t post them when other threads are going gangbusters.

    (625 comments on the ‘meaningless world’ thread, and 456 on the immaterial soul/atheist morality thread.)

  14. KeithS,

    You could simply say, “Sal you’re right. There are many reasons to reject ID, but Darwinism isn’t one of them.”

    Is that so hard? Nothing I’ve said, as far as I can see is wrong — it’s Darwinism that is wrong.

    But thanks for responding anyway, I appreciate you at least acknowledging this discussion exists. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  15. keiths:

    456 on the immaterial soul/atheist morality thread.)

    456+ posts and keiths STILL has NOT supported his claim wrt souls. And how many meaningless posts are yours in the other thread keiths’?

    Yeah, keiths is busy erecting strawman after strawman. He can’t be bothered to actually support something.

  16. keiths would rather discuss philosophy than science. Ooops, sorry, his position doesn’t have any science to discuss.

  17. scordova,

    Yes, to your list of six. And I would add . . .

    7. Create a strawman and shoot it down. Assert that no one can beat you in a race up a ladder as long as you get to define the first few rungs.

    8. Refuse to answer a question simply by asserting that (a) it’s irrelevent, (b) it doesn’t make any sense, c) it contains several undefined terms (which most people would grant as obvious), (d) it has already been answered by a (randomly chosen) previous post, (e) it betrays an embarrasing lack of intelligence or education (the accusation does not need support as its articulation makes it self-evident).

    9. At some arbitrary point, announce that you have “won the debate,” which of course makes it so by definition.

    Actually, I’m now convinced that someone can write a program, perhaps loosely based on ELIZA (written by Joseph Weizenbaum in the 1960s), that can convincingly emulate such an exchange. Turing would be proud.

    Now that I’m thinking about it, it’s not impossible that a few “chatterbots” have indeed been released into UD for our amusement! ;-)

  18. Joe @ 16,

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Those arguments are fine, and I have all respect for those who engage in them, but from what I have witnessed over the years they largely go round in a circles without either side ever getting anywhere.

    I think there are some things we can never fully understand, or investigate scientifically. There are just some aspects of life that lay far and beyond our capabilities of research.

    I am certainly no scientist, although we are all philosophers to some degree, but it is my experiences that have led me to believe in God, and therefore; creation.

    We are eternal beings, with souls that belong in another realm. To try and somehow argue against this, using our earthly minds and capabilities, reasoning the way we do, we might never prove such a concept. My personal opinion is to spend 600+ and 400+ posts on those threads Keith’s is talking about is largely a waste of time. It never gets anywhere and I doubt it ever will.

    However, we do have evidence, and plenty of it, that there is a creator at work in the universe. His handiwork is there for all to see. And it is there I believe that this battle will one day be settled.

    And of course knowing what I do, through a supernatural encounter with the living God, I know which side the evidence will eventually favour best.

    God, the Creator, is real, whether you like it or not :)

  19. Non-functioning wings ought to be a liability that selection would eliminate.

    Flight in bats and birds (if ToE is true ;) ) involves exaptation of the fore-limbs. In bats they still function as such. Watch a vampire bat approaching a “victim”.

    Ditto ptersuars, archaeopteryx etc.

    Now, if pigs had wings, that would be an evolutionary conundrum!

  20. Darwinists, isn’t there anything you want to say? KeithS, where are you?

    In truth, Sal, I didn’t say anything in this thread as the OP just repeats a bunch of misapprehensions you’ve already been corrected on. You shown no suggestion you’ll actually take criticism on board, so why bother?

    You repeat this business about transitional that couldn’t possble exist. Last time, when pressed for an example said the pointed to the gap between veterbrates an invetebrates, apparently unaware of hagfish and tunicates. But you repeat the same silly point, without an example to prove it.

    Then you repeat this odd idea about the recent extinction rate being high, and (within generation!) spection rate being low (actually, undectable) as if that meant something and is if the current extinction rate was a good estimator for the background extinction rate. And then there’s the even stranger idea that this has anything to do with “complexity” – as if every species was creating biological complexity itself rather than inheriting from ancestral species.

    So I didn’t bother.

  21. I didn’t actually notice this thread for a while (and notice it has now been cross posted at TSZ).

    I’ll try to comment later, but it takes a while to read, not because it is long, but because it seems extremely confused. But I will comment (cross posted at TSZ) on Sal’s comment at 6:

    What I would say is that “start argements over definitions” is not “just to get distractions going”, and that the assumption that it is, is at the core of pretty well all misunderstandings between IDers and ID opponents.

    Tight definitions are absolutely critical to science.

    It’s what Dembski for one has yet to learn. And indeed, it seems, every author of theNew Perspectives papers have yet read.

    And yet, ironically, see 5!

    Sheesh.

    To be more specific, I am frequently frustrated (and I do appreciate it works both ways) by what I see as rampant, although I am sure inadvertent, equivocation in ID arguments, namely the re-use of a word with a precise definition in one context in a different context where the meaning has changed. “Information” and “random” and “chance” and “evolve” are particularly problematic in this regard (and more recently “entropy”, “order” and “thermodynamics” seem to have joined the list).

    So it is odd that we are continually accused of “equivocation”, but when we attempt to define our terms in context, are accused of “start[ing] arguments over definitions”!

    To take one obvious case in the OP:

    Sal writes:

    When we see a dead organism, we see how the biological chemicals evolve — they evolve farther from life not closer too it. A dead cell will have better biological materials in it than all the world’s best OOL labs can synthesize from scratch, and yet, a dead cell evolves away from life, not toward it.

    Even Darwin himself conceded the first life was a created, not evolved.

    In the first of these two paragraphs, Sal uses the word “evolve” simply to mean “change”. In the second, he uses it in the Darwinian sense, which the subject of the verb must be a population of things, not an individual thing. But he links the two paragraphs with the word “yet” as though the second somehow contradicts the first.

    It doesn’t, because of Sal’s equivocation with the word “evolve”. And yet, if anyone points this out, they will now doubt be greeted with rolled eyes, and accused of starting an argument about definitions.

    If we want to make a scientific argument, we have to have clear operational definitions of our terms, however non-intuitive, and even counter to normal English usage they are.

    That is to prevent inadvertent equivocation, and thus a fallacious conclusion.

  22. IMO, and the part that Dembski misses (or, at best, glosses over) is precisely the part that most resembles evolution: the iterative feedback from the environment that results in the incremental adjustment of the prototype so that it ever more closely fulfils some function.

    Elizabeth Liddle
    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/?p=620

    This essay is response to statements of that variety.

  23. Thanks, Sal. That is helpful.

  24. Alan Fox:

    Flight in bats and birds (if ToE is true ) involves exaptation of the fore-limbs.

    Actually HOW they were exapted is the debate. Evolutuionism sez accumulations of genetic accidents didit. And that is untestable.

  25. The safe bet is that evos cannot even provide a positive hypothesis for blind watchmaker evolution and some testable predictions that can serve to falsify it.

    And the cowards over on TSZ obvioulsy cannot do that…

  26. Patrick/Mathgrrrrrl just gave a way the store by appealing to neutral evolution instead of natural selection!

    Here is my response to him:

    “I note that this is the second time in the same comment that you have refused to provide a positive hypothesis for intelligent design creationism and some testable predictions that could serve to falsify it. Will you deny me three times?”

    You can assume for the sake of argument in this discussion ID is false, and I said it is legitimate to reject ID because of direct testability. See:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ecting-id/

    At issue is whether the Blindwatchmaker claim is correct.

    You’re tu quoque does not refute the difficulties laid out.

    “Not even remotely true. You need to learn about neutral drift.”

    Neutral drift isn’t a mechanism of selection is it? If you advocate neutral drift as a mechanism, then you’ve proven my point, selection inhibits innovation, it doesn’t foster it. Score another point for my OP.

    The companion essay to this was Selection is falsely called a mechanism when it should be labeled an outcome.

    The fact that selection in the wild occasionally selects for existing complexity does not imply selection was the mechanism that caused the formation of the complexity. That is a non-sequitur.

    “More twaddle already addressed in the Index of Creationist Claims. If your goal is to get on the gravy train of the creationists speaker circuit, the least you could do is come up with new nonsense.”

    Assume for the sake of argument it is nonsense, so how again do we go from a 3 chambered to 4 chambered heart? Do you have a 3.5 chambered heart along the way. What about the change in plumbing. How is it sensible even in principle?

    Simple question: did 3.5 chambered hearts exists or did 3-chambered hearts make a per saltum leap from 3 to 4? If you don’t know, say so.

    Then if you don’t know, then how can you assert selection was the cause. You yourself just started to appeal to neutral evolution. That’s evidence even you find it difficult to accept the selectionist story! Score another for the OP!

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp.....ment-26910

  27. I see petrushka has responded- natural selection doesn’t select for, it merely eliminates the deficient- IOW natural selection isn’t even a mechanism of selection!

    Perhaps Sal could ask them to provide a positive hypotheses for blind watchmaker evolution and some testable predictions that can serve to falsify them.

  28. WD40:

    spection rate being low (actually, undectable)

    WD40 admits we have difficulty proving Darwin’s thesis of origin of species via natural selection since the speciation rate is undetectable!

    If his theory is unproven, why again is it a solid scientific theory that is as proven as gravity?

  29. I responded to Petrushka:

    Petrushka wrote:
    “Natural Selection doesn’t have goals. Doesn’t have foresight. Doesn’t “engineer.” So what is your point?”

    If natural selection doesn’t engineer, it isn’t a watchmaker then, is it?

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp.....ment-26913

    Patrick appeals to neutral evolution (pretty much dumping selection!).

    Petrushka admits natural selection isn’t a designer, pretty much dissing Dawkins.

    Are they trying to refute or affirm my points over there? :-)

    And they accuse me of being confused.

  30. Phlogiston set a bad example. It all ended in tears before bed-time, and so will Darwinism. Such hubris in the teeth of damning evidence to the contrary.

  31. The world is divided into things that look designed (like birds and airliners) and things that don’t (rocks and mountains). Things that look designed are divided into those that really are designed (submarines and tin openers) and those that aren’t (sharks and hedgehogs). The diagnostic of things that look (or are) designed is that their parts are assembled in ways that are statistically improbable in a functional direction. They do something well: for instance, fly.

    Darwinian natural selection can produce an uncanny illusion of design. An engineer would be hard put to decide whether a bird or a plane was the more aerodynamically elegant.

    Natural selection is quintessentially non-random, yet it is lamentably often miscalled random. This one mistake underlies much of the skeptical backlash against evolution. Chance cannot explain life. Design is as bad an explanation as chance because it raises bigger questions than it answers. Evolution by natural selection is the only workable theory ever proposed that is capable of explaining life, and it does so brilliantly.

    Richard Dawkins

    NOT! This essay refutes Dawkins claim.

    And btw, Neil takes a different route and says Dawkins is wrong to thing biology looks designed.

    So we have:

    Neil: Dawkins is wrong
    Patrick: neutral evolution not natural selection
    Petrushka: natural selection isn’t a designer
    KeithS: prefers to talk about philosophy on my other thread

    And Allan Miller, evolution happens in spite of selection!

    Allan
    “It is not quite correct to say that ‘we’ assume that all transitions are selectively favoured. It is sufficient that NS does not act too strongly against, not that it must act for, a particular change. ”

    So evolution happens in spite of selection, not because of it. Score another for the OP!

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp.....ment-26916

  32. I meant to chide, ‘You mark my words!’ Without that concluding school-marmish reproach, it lacks the crackpot, Polonius-like gravamen, so important, when dealing with recalcitrant Darwinists.

  33. Nweil Rickert sez that biological organisms don’t look designed to him!

    LoL! As if Neil would know…

  34. WD40 admits we have difficulty proving Darwin’s thesis of origin of species via natural selection since the speciation rate is undetectable!

    It’s almost you were trying to prove my point about shallow your understanding is, and how reluctant you are to take on new information.

    In that earlier thread I explained that speciation is a population process, that takes many generations to complete. Populations are undergoing speciation now, and we can study every stage of it, but we can’t sit here and watch as a population becokmes a species.

    No one (in their right mind at least) doubts stellar evolution, for instance, even though no one has seen a star go through of the stages that marks that process. So why get excercise abouse not seeing a populatin go through each stage of speciation.

    More to the point, why dont’ you try and address the other points.

    That is, the modern extinction rates are vastly higher than he background level.

    The contingent nature of evolution means that the loss of one species isn’t necessarily the loss any innovation in may have inherited form an ancestor (since sister species will also have inherited that innovation)

    You haven’t named a transitional that couldn’t possibly exist

  35. I should add – this about the 10, 000th time the silly conflation of Darwin with modern evolutionary biology has shown up the gap between the theory IDers object to and evolution as we understand it.

    The modern theory of speciation is almost entirely unrelated to Darwin’s.

  36. Please reference this alleged modern theory of speciation. And please tell us of this other designer-mimic mechanism.

  37. Well, the modern concept of speciation is very different from Darwin’s.

    And Darwin did not think about drift.

  38. Joe. Speciation by Coyne and Orr is the book to read.

    Very briefly, species arise when populations stop sharing genes with each other. A lack of gene flow means each population is now on a distinct evolutionary trajectory, as changes in one can’t influence processes in the other.

    Importantly, genes that need to co-evolve and remain compatible with each other a population will continue to do so in each sub-population. But the the pressure to remain comparable with changes occurring in the other population has gone. Thus, in time, between-population incompatibilities accrue such that even if the populations where combined they would not be able to interbreed.

    With biology being so interesting, there is no single path to speciation. Other processes including selection, drift, chromosomal evolution and assortative mating all contribute to the origin of species. What’s clear, though, is that Darwin’s theory of speciation (in which populations were simply riven in two by selection) wouldn’t work.

    As I say, Speciation is the place to start if you want to see the evidence that supports these ideas.

  39. (I don’t think speciation is a “designer-mimic mechanism”, btw)

  40. Very briefly, species arise when populations stop sharing genes with each other. A lack of gene flow means each population is now on a distinct evolutionary trajectory, as changes in one can’t influence processes in the other.

    This is Gould’s allopatric theory of evolution which is old and discarded as producing nothing of any consequence. Maybe a new beetle species in a few million years. Read Meyer’s book for a review of this process.

    Coyne is admitting that there is no theory of naturalistic evolution by promoting this. If he had anything of consequence he would drop this in a nanosecond.

  41. Hi Jerry.

    No. We have Moritz Wagner, some 100 years Gould’s senior, to thank for allopatric speciation. And Ernst Mayr for the idea’s popularity.

    In any case, the process I describe works equally in populations without geographical separation.

    Are you sure you are in a position to judge whether these ideas have any consequence?

  42. Hi wd400, I’m perplexed about how you can claim expertise on the various methods exposed by Darwinists for unguided speciation when no one can seem to ever provide an unambiguous example of ANY Darwinian processes ever producing a new species. Or you also an expert on the various methods for successfully swimming across the Pacific ocean whether by breast stroke or by butterfly stroke etc..????

    Materialists do not seem to notice that their theory of evolution expects and even demands there should be undeniably clear evidence for a genetically, and morphologically, unique species on earth somewhere since man first suddenly appeared on earth. Indeed there should be many such unambiguous examples they could produce to silence their critics. Darwinists simply have no examples of speciation which they can offer as proof for their theory so as to silence those of us who doubt random processes can build or radically change the unfathomed complexity we see in life.

    “Perhaps the most obvious challenge is to demonstrate evolution empirically. There are, arguably, some 2 to 10 million species on earth. The fossil record shows that most species survive somewhere between 3 and 5 million years. In that case, we ought to be seeing small but significant numbers of originations (new species) .. every decade.”
    Keith Stewart Thomson, Professor of Biology and Dean of the Graduate School, Yale University (Nov. -Dec. American Scientist, 1997 pg. 516)

    “Despite a close watch, we have witnessed no new species emerge in the wild in recorded history. Also, most remarkably, we have seen no new animal species emerge in domestic breeding. That includes no new species of fruitflies in hundreds of millions of generations in fruitfly studies, where both soft and harsh pressures have been deliberately applied to the fly populations to induce speciation. And in computer life, where the term “species” does not yet have meaning, we see no cascading emergence of entirely new kinds of variety beyond an initial burst. In the wild, in breeding, and in artificial life, we see the emergence of variation. But by the absence of greater change, we also clearly see that the limits of variation appear to be narrowly bounded, and often bounded within species.”
    Kevin Kelly from his book, “Out of Control”

    The Receding Myth of “Junk DNA” – Jonathan Wells – October 6, 2011
    Excerpt: Farrell is shocked by my statement in The Myth of Junk DNA that biologists have never observed speciation (the origin of a new species) by natural selection. He refers to “extensive work being done in the field” by two biologists, H. Allen Orr and Matthew L. Niemiller.
    But Orr and Niemiller study the genetics of existing species and try to find evidence supporting hypotheses about their origins. As I documented in my 2006 book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, there is nothing in the scientific literature showing that they or any others have ever observed the origin of a new species by natural selection.
    In plants, new species have been observed to originate by chromosome doubling (polyploidy). But speciation by polyploidy is not due to natural selection (nor to genetic drift, another process mentioned by Farrell), and even evolutionary biologists acknowledge that polyploidy does not solve Darwin’s problem.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....51651.html

    Sorry, Ring Species Do Not Provide Good Evidence for the Origin of New Species by the Darwinian Mechanism – April 2012
    Excerpt: The classic example of a ring species was the herring gull, with populations circling the northern hemisphere. But this example is not what it has been advertised to be. In a 2004 paper titled “The herring gull complex is not a ring species,” German and Dutch biologists concluded:
    “What earlier authors… regarded as “the herring gull” turned out to be an assemblage of several distinct taxa (argentatus, vegae, smithsonianus), which are not each other’s closest relatives. Our results show that the ring-species model does not adequately describe the evolution of the herring gull group.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....58261.html

    “The closest science has come to observing and recording actual speciation in animals is the work of Theodosius Dobzhansky in Drosophilia paulistorium fruit flies. But even here, only reproductive isolation, not a new species, appeared.”
    from page 32 “Acquiring Genomes” Lynn Margulis.

    Selection and Speciation: Why Darwinism Is False – Jonathan Wells:
    Excerpt: there are observed instances of secondary speciation — which is not what Darwinism needs — but no observed instances of primary speciation, not even in bacteria. British bacteriologist Alan H. Linton looked for confirmed reports of primary speciation and concluded in 2001: “None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....why_d.html

    Scant search for the Maker
    Excerpt: But where is the experimental evidence? None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of 20 to 30 minutes, and populations achieved after 18 hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another, in spite of the fact that populations have been exposed to potent chemical and physical mutagens and that, uniquely, bacteria possess extrachromosomal, transmissible plasmids. Since there is no evidence for species changes between the simplest forms of unicellular life, it is not surprising that there is no evidence for evolution from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells, let alone throughout the whole array of higher multicellular organisms. – Alan H. Linton – emeritus professor of bacteriology, University of Bristol.
    http://www.timeshighereducatio.....ode=159282

    Wired Science: One Long Bluff – Refuting a recent finch speciation claim – Jonathan Wells – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: “Does the report in Wired Science mean that “biologists have witnessed that elusive moment when a single species (of Galapagos finch) splits in two?” Absolutely not.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....bluff.html

    Here is a detailed refutation, by Casey Luskin, of TalkOrigins severely misleading site on the claimed evidence for observed macro-evolution (speciation);

    Specious Speciation: The Myth of Observed Large-Scale Evolutionary Change – Casey Luskin – January 2012 – article
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....55281.html

    Here is part 2 of a podcast exposing the Talk Origin’s speciation FAQ as a ‘literature bluff’

    Talk Origins Speciation FAQ, pt. 2: Lack of Evidence for Big Claims – Casey Luskin – podcast
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....9_41-08_00

    As well, materialists never mention the fact that the variations found in nature (such as peppered moth color finch beak size, lizard cecal valve) which are often touted as solid proof of that evolution can do anything are always found to be cyclical in nature. i.e. The variations are found to vary around a median position with never a continual deviation from the norm. This blatant distortion/omission of evidence for the cyclical nature of these variations led Phillip Johnson to comment in the Wall Street Journal:

    “When our leading scientists have to resort to the sort of distortion that would land a stock promoter in jail, you know they are in trouble.”

    In fact in this following informative talk/interview, Dr. Lönnig takes apart in expert fashion, the claim by Dawkins and other Darwinists, that dogs are proof of macro-evolution:

    podcast – On this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin talks with geneticist Dr. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig about his recent article on the evolution of dogs. Casey and Dr. Lönnig evaluate the claim (by Richard Dawkins and others) that dogs somehow demonstrate macroevolution.
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....1_14-08_00
    Part 2: Dog Breeds: Proof of Macroevolution?
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....7_07-08_00

  43. Are you sure you are in a position to judge whether these ideas have any consequence?

    Absolutely.

    Actually the concept of separation goes back 200 years to Von Buch.

    I suggest you go to the link below which has several lectures at Stanford on evolution and listen to the lecture by the Grants on Darwin’s finches. At the end there is a discussion on speciation and it takes about 32 million years for these birds to truly become different species. And then we are only talking about minor differences.

    The finches have been on the Galapagos for 3 million years and all there are is varieties of the same species. All can mate with each other including the ones separated on different islands.

    http://www.youtube.com/course?.....4CDCCE15F5

    No body has shown anything of consequence from the process you mention.

    All the gushing in this presentation is over trivial changes. They give the game away by what they say and do not say. Great discussion of micro evolution but essentially they can go no further. Well worth the watching.

    Then go to the Johnson/Provine debate at Stanford in 1994 where Johnson presents evidence and Provine says he has faith. Again the naturalistic evolution adherents give the game away.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7dG9U1vQ_U

  44. Also I suggest you read Meyer’s book which explains why nothing of consequence can happen.

  45. Wd40:

    What’s clear, though, is that Darwin’s theory of speciation (in which populations were simply riven in two by selection) wouldn’t work.

    Well said. Darwin’s theory wouldn’t work for speciation, what you left out is Darwin’s theory wouldn’t work for creation of large scale integrated complexity either.

    Thus, in time, between-population incompatibilities accrue such that even if the populations where combined they would not be able to interbreed.

    But creating incompatibility or undesirability between members of an existing species doesn’t not imply large scale innovation will take place. It only demonstrates inability or unwillingness to breed. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston apparently don’t want to hook up anymore, this fact shouldn’t suggest that their descendants will necessarily form new kinds of organs of comparable difference such as found in macroevolution. Yet, that’s the sort of non-sequiturs that are rampant in evolutionary theory which goes like this:

    individuals of an ancestral species can’t or won’t breed with each other, therefore novel organs like bat wings from wingless ancestors will be created

    Silliness! non-sequitur.

    The correct statement is this

    Emergence of novel organs (like wings where there were no wings before) might preclude interbreeding, but preclusion of interbreeding does not imply the emergence of new organs.

    More succinctly:

    radically differing organs imply no interbreeding

    example: trees and frogs don’t interbreed because they have differing organs

    The correct contrapostive of this claim is:

    interbreeding implies no radically different organs

    but Darwinist can’t even get basic logic right and falsely misstate the contrapositive of the above

    no interbreeding implies radically different organs

    Evolutionists can’t seem to grasp basic logic. Coyne goes on and on about the lack of interbreeding, as if this demonstrates novel organs like bat wings or whale sonar parts will emerge.

    Wd40:

    That is, the modern extinction rates are vastly higher than he background level.

    Only if you presume the mainstream geological timescales are true (and they could be false). But even granting the mainstream geological timescales, models of how evolution is currently happening (high extinction rates, undetecatable speciations), conflict with evolution in the past.

    First, evolutionary models based on what we see today aren’t a good explanation of the past (genetic entropy is such an evolutionary model, it is accurate for describing the present day).

    Second, evolutionary mechanisms which aren’t based on what we see in operation today are untestable therefore it is dubious to call such a theory science (a good example is hopeful monster theory).

    Third, Darwinism doesn’t accord with the past or present. It’s an incoherent theory. It makes the non-sequitur that selection for the whole implies selection for the parts. That notion, that selection for the final system, implies selection for the parts of the system is Dawkins delusion.

    It’s almost you were trying to prove my point about shallow your understanding is, and how reluctant you are to take on new information.

    No, Dawkins understanding of basic logic is shallow, evolutionism is reluctant to accept reasoned criticisms from an engineering perspective such as outlined in the OP (which I obviously got from other sources). Coyne said it well:

    In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics

    Theories in physics and chemistry are real theories, evolutionary theories aren’t even shallow. I sometimes regret I’ve wasted time reading about evolutionism when I could have been reading chemistry books….

  46. Silliness! non-sequitur.

    yes. yours. Evidently you don’t know what speciation is, again, I’m left wondering why I should bother.

  47. I posted this at TSZ highlight a contradiction by Elizabeth
    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp.....ment-26947
    ===========================================

    “No, we do not assume this. We do not assume it at all. Darwin may have done, but Darwin hadn’t thought about drift, not surprisingly, as much of the relevant work on statistics has been done since his time.

    We know that neutral mutations can and do propagate through a population, and that even deleterious mutations can do the same. And for every additional organism with a neutral or deleterious mutation there is an additional opportunity for a subsequent mutation to come along and render it positive. And we know this happens (from Lenski’s e-coli work, for instance, and from models).”

    In that case selection is only an outcome, not a mechanism. If the numerous simultaneous changes happen which selection happens to select after all the changes appear, then selection is an outcome not a cumulative mechanism, and thus unable to function as Dawkins advertised to solve complex biological mechanism via accumulation of selectively favored steps for that function.

    Invocation of neutralism then leads to random blind search, exactly the opposite of what you claim:

    ” the iterative feedback from the environment that results in the incremental adjustment of the prototype so that it ever more closely fulfils some function. ”

    If the mutations are neutral there is no iterative feedback toward incremental adjustment.

    “You are many decades out of date on this, Sal :)”

    I’ve posted more on neutral theory than anyone at UD. Example from 2007:
    Prominent NAS member trashes Neo-Darwinism

    I wasn’t out of date, that’s an unsupportable claim, but you’re statements of incremental adjustment and neutral evolution are logically incompatible.

    You, like Patrick, and Allan admit the necessity of unselectable changes. Not too bad if one is dealing with only two point mutations, but very bad if one needs hundreds or thousands of simultaneous mutations needed to implement a function.

    And if we have hundreds or thousands of mutations that are unselectable toward future function, that implies incremental adjustment toward function doesn’t happen for those unselectable changes (except via blind luck), and thus refute this claim:

    “iterative feedback from the environment that results in the incremental adjustment of the prototype so that it ever more closely fulfils some function. ”

    Thus, you refuted your own hypothesis — refutation via contradiction,
    which is what I wished to demonstrate in the OP. QED.

  48. Sal:

    So we have:

    Neil: Dawkins is wrong
    Patrick: neutral evolution not natural selection
    Petrushka: natural selection isn’t a designer
    KeithS: prefers to talk about philosophy on my other thread

    And Allan Miller, evolution happens in spite of selection!

    Same old Sal. There’s no set of rules people have to sign up to. We can all have our own opinions. Look at you, for example. A stream of fact-free opinions without a care in the world. No thought of motes and beams!

    For record:

    Dawkins was a great communicator of ideas in his popular books. He often over-simplified and maybe was over-confident in interpreting evidence. Haven’t seen much contra-evidence tought. Much of what may have been speculative hasn’t been refuted.

    Natural selection designs like MichaelAngelo. I think of natural selection as envionmental design.

    Philosophy is dead. Richard Rorty got it right.

    Sal quote-mines. A lot!

    Just my 2 cents.

  49. Oops! Environmental

  50. PS @ Sal

    KeithS can no longer comment here, so I trust you won’t continue to address remarks to him as he is unable to respond.

  51. You haven’t named a transitional that couldn’t possibly exist

    Here are some:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....se-hearts/

  52. Ah, the old “you point to a transitional and we see two gaps now” routine! ;)

  53. Of course evolution can’t be true without an unbroken chain of viable organisms from parent to offspring from the very first viable organism to now and everything in between. Unbelievable!

    The ID explanation is so much harder to refute.

  54. “Of course evolution can’t be true without an unbroken chain of viable organisms from parent to offspring from the very first viable organism to now and everything in between.”

    Well it would be nice if the fossil record could even produce one such example of a ‘transition’ taking place.

    I think that would be extremely helpful.

  55. Well it would be nice if the fossil record could even produce one such example of a ‘transition’ taking place.

    Sure! But fossils are like snapshots of moments frozen in time. Fragments of remains cannot tell the whole story. No cine film to replay. The best Sal can hope for is anomalous fossils such as “rabbits in the Cambrian”.

    PS I spoke of transitionals not transitions.

  56. PeterJ:

    Suppose that it did “produce one such example of a ‘transition’ taking place”.

    Can you describe what the palaeontologist would find? Or, if you like, describe what you would accept as such an example.

  57. Taking into account the many different kinds of dinosuars that are available for us to look at how about a clear line of transition between the much hypothesised ‘Amphibian’ (possibly Ichthyostega) to any one of them.

    I mean there’s a big difference between the common ancestor of all dinosaurs and the likes of a T-Rex, Diplodicus, Pteradactyl, and so on.

    Or what about producing something similar for the supposed transition from ‘common ancestor’ of all mammals to any of the known species of mammals, both past and present.

  58. Just before we end up going down a rabbit burrow:

    “Speciation” is used in biology to refer to one lineage dividing into two non-interbreeding lineages.

    The two resulting separate lineages can be very different from each other, or very similar. One can change radically, while the other can remain similar to the ancestral population.

    But in no case has one “species” turned into another.

    Adaptation, however, is the process by which a single lineage adapts to a new environment by evolving features that better fit it to exploit its resources and avoid its threats. In this case, the ancestral population may look very different to the descendent population, but no speciation has occurred.

    The sense in which the two are linked is that if a subpopulation splits of from a “parent” population, that may because it has encountered a new environment, and may therefore under go more new adaptation than the parent population.

    So after many generations, it may look as though the “parent” population has not evolved and the sub-population has.

    However, molecular analysis will show that each descendent population has undergone the same amount of evolution. It’s just that in the case of the parent lineage, the population was already well-adapted to its environment, and so all selective pressure has been in the direction of keeping it there, whereas in the case of the sub-population, the population was not well-adapted to its new environment, and so a great deal of adaptation has taken place.

    Thus a modern “living fossil” is just as “evolved” as we are. It’s just that it’s a descendent from a lineages that was already optimally adapted to its environment, whereas we have descended via a lineage of sub-populations that adapted to new niches.

    People may disagree with this conclusion, of course, but that’s the reasoning. Not that sometimes “macroevolution” takes place and a species evolves into another species, and sometimes only “microevolution” takes place, and it doesn’t.

    All adaptive evolution (with the possible exception of maybe a few really important events like symbiosis) is microevolution. Whether radical adaptation takes place or not, depends on whether the population is in a stable environment or not.

    Whether a population speciates or not depends on whether a sub-population finds a new environment and adapts to that.

    So called “macroevolution” is just the study of differential adaptation down different lineages, as opposed to adaptation down a single lineage.

  59. But PeterJ, we have a great many transitional sequences in that sense. Phylogenetics is all about constructing those sequences.

    But clearly, we do not have any complete sequences of single population over many generations. That would be an extraordinary find if we did.

    Nonetheless in some marine deposits, laid down in the same place over enough time, we do find incremental changes in certain organisms between those at the bottom of the deposition and those at the top.

    They are probably not directly ancestral to each other, but clearly closely related on the family tree.

  60. Sal: my response to your 47 is at TSZ.

    Now that bannings seem to have restarted here, it might be useful to move the conversation there.

    I’ll try to cross-post here as long as I am able.

  61. Hi Elizabeth,

    I know how busy you are and therefore would like to thank you for such a detailed reply.

    I am fully aware of the various arguments as to why we shouldn’t really expect to see a ‘line of transition’ as such, I just don’t think it’s as easily explained away by the evidence you have sited.

    The whole reason this debate is still going on is because of conflicting data, especially of that which Darwin proposed, and as far as I am concerned more so because of the sheer lack of any physical evidence (fossils) that ‘evolution’ from one creature into another has actually taken place. I know you think we shouldn’t expect to see such things, and if we did it would be extremely rare, but that to me is a major stumbling block nonetheless.

    For instance this asserion of yours is quite telling when it comes to actual evidence:

    “Nonetheless in some marine deposits, laid down in the same place over enough time, we do find incremental changes in certain organisms between those at the bottom of the deposition and those at the top.

    They are probably not directly ancestral to each other, but clearly closely related on the family tree.”

    That’s all well and good, however there is of course the problem of when those deposits were laid, how long they were laid over. Do they represent millions of years, or do they represent days/weeks/months, and therefore were all those creatures living quite happily alongside each other.

    That’s just one problem, AFAIAC, that needs to be taken into account when considering the example you provided.

    And of course there are many, many more.

    IMHO, if the evolution of life on this planet was what you believe it to be, we wouldn’t be arguing about it today.

  62. Evidence suggests millions of years, PeterJ. Obviously YECs will disagree but there are horrendous problems with YEC.

    And also, as I said, one creature doesn’t “evolve into another creature”. The vast majority of creatures resemble their parents very very closely. However, selective process can both serve to keep that resemblance very tight (if the population is already at an optimum, and the environment doesn’t change) or move it, increment by increment, away from the ancestral pattern (if the environment changes, and the population is no longer optimal).

  63. Joe. Speciation by Coyne and Orr is the book to read.

    Read it. And they have no idea how new body plans requiring new body parts came to be.

    Speciation is not being debated. Even YEC accepts speciation. Your position needs much, much more than mere speciation. And you don’t have anything.

  64. 1- Phylogenetics does NOT say anything about a mechanism

    2- Phylogenetics ASSUMES common descent, it does NOT demonstrate it

  65. Alan Fox:

    Natural selection designs like MichaelAngelo.

    Unfortunately for Alan he cannot provide any evidence for that. IOW Alan is either lying or in la-la land.

    I think of natural selection as envionmental design.

    Think all you want, it doesn’t make it so. Evidence, Alan- your claims lack evidentiary support. And taaht makes you a blowhard

  66. Evidence suggests millions of years, PeterJ.

    There are horrendous problems with that claim.

  67. Evidence suggests millions of years

    Rosemary and Peter Grant say 32 million years for a bird population to develop that cannot breed with another. So it takes this time to get a new species. After 3 million years all the Galapagos finches were completely interbreedable (new word?). Essentially the gradual process just produces varieties and not real differences genetically.

    See my links above for the presentations at Stanford. There is a 10 minute discussion of what is speciation as part of the Grant’s presentation. Gives new meaning to the term gradual.

  68. Sal: my response to your 47 is at TSZ.

    Now that bannings seem to have restarted here, it might be useful to move the conversation there.

    I’ll try to cross-post here as long as I am able.

    Thank you for hosting my conversation over there. I’m grateful you are posting here, and thank you for your graciousness in letting me air my opposing viewpoint at your blog.

    Sorry we must disagree, I’m very appreciative of your graciousness and civility.

    These are discussions that need to happen. Even if you don’t agree with the viewpoint I stated, at least you are seeing why Dawkins claims of a blindwatchmaker are rejected by the ID community. Conversely, ID proponents can see the line of reasoning you and others put forward to support Dawkins hypothesis. These are discussion and exchanges both sides will benefit from seeing.

    PS
    I moved the thread up in priority so it stays on the front page of UD a little longer.

  69. I do understand why Dawkins’ claims are rejected by the ID community, but I just wish that the ID community would turn their attention to actual evolutionary theory, not Dawkins’ attempts to simplify it.

    Specifically, it would be good if people would get over the metaphors. Metaphors are useful up to a point, as are analogies, but you cannot make an argument by analogy, any more than you can rebut an argument by picking apart an analogy.

    One thing I rather object to about simplifications of Darwinian evolution is the idea that there are two separate things, “Random Mutation” and “Natural Selection”.

    For a start, I reject the term “random” (which was not used by Darwin I don’t think – I’d have to check) which is a highly ambiguous word. And for a second, without variance (part of RM) there can be no selection (NS). So the two are inseparable.

    Plus there’s drift.

    That’s why I put it something like this:

    Self-replication with heritable variance in reproductive success in the current environment will tend to lead to increased prevalence of the more successful variants in the population.

  70. Self-replication with heritable variance in reproductive success in the current environment will tend to lead to increased prevalence of the more successful variants in the population.

    No body disagrees with this. We have all known this for years. But it doesn’t lead to anything meaningful. Tens of millions of years later and you may get a new bird species. Maybe a couple million for a new beetle.

    It is like you are trying to use first grade arithmetic to solve some thing that requires advanced differential equations on interconnecting systems.

    We all know what Dawkins and Coyne say. They are just assertions, nothing more. We can make assertions too but we tend to try to look at things logially based on evidence. Coyne and Dawkins would get nobel prizes if they could show micro-evolution leads to anything significant.

  71. I know nobody disagrees with it, jerry (well, maybe some people do, but I’m glad you don’t.)

    However your assertion that “it doesn’t lead to anything meaningful” is unsupported.

    There is plenty of evidence that it does.

    And, to repeat, I am not talking about speciation which is quite different. That sentence I wrote is not about speciation. It is about adaptation. And we know that can “lead to something meaningful” in a couple of generations.

    It is really important to distinguish between speciation and adaptation. Speciation can happen without adaptation. Adaptation can happen without speciation.

  72. It is really important to distinguish between speciation and adaptation. Speciation can happen without adaptation. Adaptation can happen without speciation

    I have no idea what you are trying to prove. We all know that species can adapt. We all know that speciation can happen. Neither leads to anything meaningful in the evolution debate. Certainly adaptation is meaningful for continued existence of a population but that is not the origin of novelty which is where the debate is really focused.

    I pointed you and others to a presentation by well respected members of the evolutionary biology community at a well known university. They say it takes millions of years to get to non-breeding populations. That is ho hum.

    So to talk about adaptation or speciation is really talking about something no one is interested in. They are things that happen but are extremely low on the interest scale.

  73. Jerry:

    I have no idea what you are trying to prove. We all know that species can adapt. We all know that speciation can happen. Neither leads to anything meaningful in the evolution debate. Certainly adaptation is meaningful for continued existence of a population but that is not the origin of novelty which is where the debate is really focused.

    Adaptation involves the generation of novel solutions to the problems of continuing existence. And I wasn’t trying to “prove” anything – just point out that speciation and adaptation are independent phenomena. Adaptation is occurring all the time, and speciation is far commoner than you seem to think – we can almost observe it in real time.

    I pointed you and others to a presentation by well respected members of the evolutionary biology community at a well known university. They say it takes millions of years to get to non-breeding populations. That is ho hum.

    It may take millions of years before hybridisation becomes impossible. But you are not, I take it, disputing that lions and tigers are different species?

    So to talk about adaptation or speciation is really talking about something no one is interested in. They are things that happen but are extremely low on the interest scale.

    In that case why are you interested in evolution at all? Because that’s what evolution consists of – adaptation and speciation.

  74. But you are not, I take it, disputing that lions and tigers are different species?

    YECs dispute that lions and tigers are different created kinds (whether created kinds are species is another debate), they are merely different races of the same created-kind. The evidence they put forward for this is:
    Liger and Tigons

    Why are creationists very interested in hybridization since it seems to support evolution. The fact that certain groups can hybridize while others can’t underscores the isolation of major groups — we can’t cross trees and frogs. Isolation disfavors universal common ancestry.

    Further, this shows that Coyne’s speciation is in the mind of Coyne, not generation of substantive novelty. Like Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt, the fact that two members of a created kind no longer wish to hookup does not imply some really new primary species emerged…

    Hybridization also supports Front-Loaded evolution, which creationist support to a limited extent (not as far as Behe or Mike Gene or John Davison’s front loading).

    “Speciation” or diversification of a created kind may be evidence of front-loaded evolution. Lee Spetner suggests NREH (non-random evolutionary hypothesis).

    But all this is somewhat beside the main point, but at this stage of the thread, that’s OK. Slightly off topic discussion are fine….

  75. The lion’s closest relatives are the other species of the genus Panthera: the tiger, the jaguar, and the leopard. P. leo evolved in Africa between 1 million and 800,000 years ago, before spreading throughout the Holarctic region.[12] It appeared in the fossil record in Europe for the first time 700,000 years ago with the subspecies Panthera leo fossilis at Isernia in Italy. From this lion derived the later cave lion (Panthera leo spelaea), which appeared about 300,000 years ago.[13] Lions died out in northern Eurasia at the end of the last glaciation, about 10,000 years ago;[14] this may have been secondary to the extinction of Pleistocene megafauna.[15]

    and tiger evolution
    http://www.tigers-world.com/tiger-evolution.html

    The earliest found remains of tigers come from China and they are dated at more than 2 million years old. These early fossil remains indicate that the tiger was much smaller then than it is today. However, it is strongly believed that the tiger is related to the Saber Tooth from about 35 million years ago. They evolved into some subspecies about 25 million years ago and that is where the tiger fits in.

    So lions and tiger diverged maybe 300,000 to 25,000,000 years ago, maybe 300,000 years ago? Yet they can interbreed! Amazing.

    By way of contrast dogs and cats split supposedly only 17 million years earlier (42 million years ago).

    No wonder it’s hard to say origin of new species is hard to detect. Hybridization experiments like this suggest Coyne is making overinflated claims of some new species — by his standards a divorced couple could almost qualify as a new species.

    Paraphrasing the conversation of some acquaintances:

    John: I’m lost 75% of my net worth in my divorce

    Rick: That’s pretty expensive

    John: The divorce was worth every penny!

    :-)

  76. Adaptation involves the generation of novel solutions to the problems of continuing existence.

    You had better define novel because a new mutation may be new or a new shuffling of the genome in places may be new but no one is pointing to these as having led to anything meaningful in the evolution debate. (and I am well aware of the theory of latent development of parts of the genome in the hope that it will develop new alleles for new proteins.)

    If a novelty appears which causes an adaptation but not a change in species no one will care. I cannot imagine that a change in the gene pool that causes an adaptation but not a species change is of any interest. At the very least what the evolution debate is about is new species and not just variants which can inner breed.

    It may take millions of years before hybridisation becomes impossible. But you are not, I take it, disputing that lions and tigers are different species?

    Lame example which has been discussed dozens of times here and in books on evolution. Since they theoretically can inner breed, they are not really a species difference in one sense of the word but I am sure lots will want to say they are different species in another sense of the word. Again not relevant to the debate so why bring this up.

    You are depending on different uses of words here to confuse e.g. novel, species. All your points are trivial ones.

    I will have to dig into the archives to bring up a classification scheme for this debate. This is silly that we are discussing evolution this way. It is a meaninless side show

  77. Sal

    You do understand that current evolutionary thinking suggests breeding isolation precedes speciation, don’t you? How could be otherwise? John Davison, your old friend (funny he never mentioned you) was adamant that sexual reproduction prevented speciation. Ergo introduce a barrier (continental drift and marsupials being a classic example) and when genes are no longer mixing, populations can evolve separately.

  78. Here is something I wrote on this 5 years ago

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-299358

    It may not be perfect but it lays out the parameters of the debate.

    You do understand that current evolutionary thinking suggests breeding isolation precedes speciation, don’t you?

    Yes we all know that. But again no evidence it led anywhere.

  79. current evolutionary thinking suggests breeding isolation precedes speciation, don’t you? How could be otherwise?

    Special creation (if true) also creates species, no need for reproductive isolation — besides the “species” created by reproductive isolation have trivial difference compared to isolated groups (like trees and frogs).

    Again, here is a true statement:

    radically different organs imply no interbreeding

    but the converse is not true. Nevertheless it doesn’t stop Coyne and others from making the insinuation:

    no interbreeding implies radically different organs

  80. I think it important IDists and creationists here the best arguments the opposing side has to offer. To that end, I’m cross posting Elizabeth’s response:

    =====================================================

    stcordova: In that case selection is only an outcome, not a mechanism. If the numerous simultaneous changes happen which selection happens to select after all the changes appear, then selection is an outcome not a cumulative mechanism, and thus unable to function as Dawkins advertised to solve complex biological mechanism via accumulation of selectively favored steps for that function.

    You need to get past the metaphors, Sal. The relevant mechanism of “natural selection” is dead simple – it’s simply the phenomenon by which an individual with a genome that is likely to curtail its fecundity, is likely (by definition!) to leave fewer copies of that genome in the population, and vice verse. Call it an outcome or call it a mechanism – it doesn’t matter, it must happen.

    If a genome only affects fecundity when a certain cocktail of sequences is present, and no individual ingredient of that cocktail affects fecundity (all are neutral) then all that means is that the the ingredients of the cocktail have arrived by drift, not “selection” (i.e. not by affecting fecundity, again by definition!). But if the whole cocktail does positively affect fecundity, then, thereafter, that genome will become widely prevalent.

    Forget about what Dawkins said, or you think Dawkins said: just look at the logic itself. Or even try out a little simulation (you have programming skills I think). You will quickly see for yourself that entirely neutral variants can become highly prevalent very quickly. Even if advantageous traits (traits that directly increase fecundity) are only found in organisms with a quite complex set of neutral sequences, they nonetheless evolve. Or play with AVIDA if you don’t want to write your own. All the advantageous traits in AVIDA are “IC” (at least some are, and in any case you can set your own parameters). Yet they reliably evolve. This is because of drift.

    Alan Fox: Invocation of neutralism then leads to random blind search, exactly the opposite of what you claim:

    ” the iterative feedback from the environment that results in the incremental adjustment of the prototype so that it ever more closely fulfils some function. ”

    If the mutations are neutral there is no iterative feedback toward incremental adjustment.

    Not “blind search” Sal. If you really want to stick with the “search” metaphor, it is a search in a part of search space that is already rich in solutions. This is why “search” is a terrible metaphor, and the fitness “landscape” is much better. Organisms jittering around on fitness peaks – think of it as Brownian motion. If the fitness peak is fairly flat, then all the population will “diffuse” across the plain. If the plain has a rise at at least one edge, part of the population will reach that edge, just as spilled water on a flat shiny surface will spread out until part of the puddle reaches an edge.

    You could even, if you were Granville Sewell, call it an X-entropy!

    stcordova: “You are many decades out of date on this, Sal :)”

    I’ve posted more on neutral theory than anyone at UD. Example from 2007:
    Prominent NAS member trashes Neo-Darwinism

    I that case I withdraw my remark and replace it with: you have not (in my opinion) understood the theory :) And I suggest that you re-read the paper, and consider more carefully what you think it “trashes”. Right now “neo-Darwinism” is a favorite punchbag (Margulis, Shapiro, Noble), for good reason. But neo-Darwinism is not Darwinism, nor is it the whole of genetics. The “Modern Synthesis” aka “neo-Darwinism” was originally the name given to the welcome synthesis between genetics and evolutionary theory. But much of the resulting modelling, is, as is now generally agreed, far too “gene-centred”. And those who consider natural selection as operating at many levels above the “gene” often reject “neo-Darwinism”. I think it is somewhat unfair, myself, but it doesn’t matter – what matters is that we have become less gene-bound in thinking, and indeed the Mendelian concept of the gene itself has had to loosen. Good.

    What matters is when an anti-Darwinist spots a paper that seems to challenge “neo-Darwinism” and takes it as a indication that evolutionary theory is tottering. It isn’t. It’s just getting better and better. Carving Nature at its joints is useful, but in the end, the joints are somewhat illusory – everything is connected, and the joints themselves are some of the most interesting aspects.

    stcordova: I wasn’t out of date, that’s an unsupportable claim, but you’re statements of incremental adjustment and neutral evolution are logically incompatible.

    No, they are not. If I spend eight hours a day practicing an instrument, and after a week I am no better, but after two weeks I make a tiny incremental leap forward, rinse and repeat, that is incremental improvement, where the increments are separated by long plateaux. There is nothing contradictory about this. Nobody said the increments had to be adjacent. Evolutionary algorithms are not “Hill-climbing” algorithms. Not every step has to be an ascent, and some steps can even be quite steep descents.

    stcordova: You, like Patrick, and Allan admit the necessity of unselectable changes. Not too bad if one is dealing with only two point mutations, but very bad if one needs hundreds or thousands of simultaneous mutations needed to implement a function.

    And if we have hundreds or thousands of mutations that are unselectable toward future function, that implies incremental adjustment toward function doesn’t happen for those unselectable changes (except via blind luck), and thus refute this claim:

    “iterative feedback from the environment that results in the incremental adjustment of the prototype so that it ever more closely fulfils some function. ”

    Thus, you refuted your own hypothesis — refutation via contradiction,
    which is what I wished to demonstrate in the OP. QED.

    Nothing of the sort, Sal. If I was unclear, then that is my problem, but there are other clearer expositions of the theory that you could read.

    This sentence “And if we have hundreds or thousands of mutations that are unselectable toward future function, that implies incremental adjustment toward function doesn’t happen for those unselectable changes (except via blind luck), and thus refute this claim”

    is not what anyone is suggesting. The very concept of “unselectable toward future function” is a nonsense, as is “incremental adjustment toward function”.

    A new variant may or may not have any phenotypic effects, and if it does, those phenotypic effects may or may not affect the organisms probability of breeding successfully. If the effect of the variation on the phenotype does not affect its probability of breed, the variant may or may not be propagated through the population by drift. If it does, and many neutral variants are, then there will exist, by definition, many organisms bearing that variant.

    If, out of those many organisms, some also acquire a variant in another sequence that is also neutral, and also propagates, this will also result in many organisms with both variants. Indeed, it is very easy to set up a simple simulation with no selection, and simply observe that after a while, certain genomes (with certain combinations of variants) become much more prevalent than others.

    If it turns out that some of these combos actually do confer an slight increase (“incremental”) probability of breeding, those combos will in turn become more prevalent. And in a sexually reproducing population, the sequences making up those combos will also become more prevalent, even in organisms without the necessary other variants that make successful breeding more likely.

    Note that there is no “selection towards future function” and no-one is suggesting there is. It is a nonsensical concept in the context of evolution. But what it does mean is that because “selection” is at the level of the phenotype not the sequence (i.e. it is the phenotype that has to cope with the environment, not the sequence), it is the combo that matters for selection, not the individual sequences. And it doesn’t matter at all what that advantage is – if a sequence combo helps you run faster, or be camouflaged, or stick to a rock, fine. If later, yet another variant added to the combo destroys your rock-sticking capabilities but increases your to do something even more useful, then also fine. And given that sequence duplication is a common variation, there’s a decent chance that you may keep one function and add a second.

    So your objection simply doesn’t work. And can be demonstrated not to work by simple models, and indeed, by actual evolutionary experiments. You must be aware of Lenski’s lab’s work – they do in fact rebut your rebuttal.

    I know that at UD it is often claimed that they don’t, but I have not yet seen such a claim that stood up to scrutiny. Perhaps you can make one! But that’s the bar that is set.

  81. Alan Fox:

    You do understand that current evolutionary thinking suggests breeding isolation precedes speciation, don’t you? How could be otherwise?

    Anagenesis. look it up.

  82. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Adaptation involves the generation of novel solutions to the problems of continuing existence.

    What does that statement even mean?

  83. Your point, mung?

    Change occurs and, if beneficial in context, will spread through a population.

  84. PS @ mung

    Time also isolates gene pools, in case that wasn’t obvious.

  85. I think my point made itself and requires no explanation.

  86. As an illustration, consider evolving a new kind of heart with different plumbing, the intermediate stages would be lethal….

    Besides the heart plumbing example, there is also the example of the avian lung, with its own unique plumbing and operation that is quite distinct from the bellows type of lung that other animals use. How does one get from a bellows lung to an avian lung without lethal intermediates?

    This example was pointed out even as far back as Evolution: A Theory in Crisis by Michael Denton.

    BTW, your new article Selection after something exists is not the same as selection before something exists, except…, which does a good job of making an important point in a very succinct manner.

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