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The merest rudiments

Excerpted from The Greatest Show on Earth Richard Dawkins 2009

“It would be so nice if those who oppose evolution would take a tiny bit of trouble to learn the merest rudiments of what it is that they are opposing.

Creationists are deeply enamored of the fossil record because they have been taught that it is full of “gaps”. Actually, we are lucky to have any fossils at all. The massive numbers we now do have document evolutionary history. Large numbers by any standards constitute beautiful “intermediates.” The fossil evidence for evolution in many major animal groups is wonderfully strong.

We don’t need fossils. The case for evolution is watertight without them, so it is paradoxical to use gaps in the fossil record as though they were evidence against evolution. There is more than enough evidence for the fact of evolution in the comparative study of modern species and their geographical distribution.

 All the fossils that we have, occur, without a single authenticated exception, in the right temporal sequence. Not a single solitary fossil has ever been found before it could have evolved.

 The biggest gap, and the one the creationists like best of all, is the one that preceded the so-called Cambrian Explosion. Evolutionists believe that this really does represent a very large gap in the fossil record.

However, not a single fossil of flatworms, of which there are more than 4,000 species, has ever been found. Creationists believe that flatworms were created in the same week as all other creatures. If the gap before the Cambrian Explosion is used as evidence that most animals suddenly sprang into existence in the Cambrian, exactly the same “logic” should be used to prove that the flatworms sprang into existence yesterday. This argument completely and finally destroys the creationist case that the Precambrian gap in the fossil record can be taken as evidence against evolution. Probably, most animals before the Cambrian were soft-bodied like modern flatworms, then something happened half a billion years ago to allow animals to fossilize freely — the arising of hard, mineralized skeletons, for example.

History-deniers often use Piltdown man as an excuse to ignore the very numerous fossils that are not hoaxes. We now have a rich supply of intermediate fossils linking modern humans to the common ancestor we share with chimpanzees. It is chimpanzees, not humans, who today have a right to complain of missing links!

No modern species is descended from any other modern species (if we leave out very recent splits). Humans are not descended from monkeys. We share a common ancestor with monkeys. Even though humans evolved from an ancestor that we could sensibly call a monkey, no animal gives birth to an instant new species, or at least not one as different from itself as a man is from a monkey, or even from a chimpanzee.

Evolution not only is a gradual process as a matter of fact; it has to be gradual if it is to do any explanatory work. Huge leaps in a single generation — which is what a monkey giving birth to a human would be — are almost as unlikely as divine creation, and are ruled out for the same reason: too statistically improbable.”

Now we have been told the merest rudiments, what are our responses?

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107 Responses to The merest rudiments

  1. Dawkins don’t need fossils. He wishes there were no fossils.

    Flatworms ars soft bodied. So are sponge embryos.
    I saw Dick’s book while dropping my kids and wife off at the airport

    They don’t believe in this bulldust.

    Had a few drinks. God bless.

  2. “We share a common ancestor with monkeys.”

    Yes, they trot out this common ancestor claim all the time, but if you look through all their candidates in the ape-human line, all they dish up are either apes or humans.

    There is no common ancestor candidate in any of the creatures they bring out. If there is a common ancestor, where is it? What’s its name?

  3. Speaking of the merest rudiments, I was wondering if any IDers on this board would be willing to pop into the conservative News/Message board FreeRepublic.com to clarify and/or defend against the following:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....page=25#25

    I am a creationist myself, and while I post ID links on a regular basis on FR, it would be nice if some IDers were showed up to defend from time to time.

    All the best–GGG

  4. Quote mine:

    ” Humans are not descended from monkeys. ”

    - Richard Dawkins

    :D

    Anyway, I think it’s pretty awesome that guys like Dawkins and Francis Collins actually use the following argument:

    1. Darwinian evolution is true
    2. The fossil record doesn’t support it

    Conclusion:
    The fossil record is incomplete.

    rofl. Science at its best folks.

  5. LOL! Dawkins is basically not denying that the Cambrian explosion exists:

    “Probably, most animals before the Cambrian were soft-bodied like modern flatworms, then something happened half a billion years ago to allow animals to fossilize freely — the arising of hard, mineralized skeletons, for example.”

    “something happened”? Several major categories suddenly developed bones overnight? What exactly? Punctuated equilibrium? Right.

  6. “Probably, most animals before the Cambrian were soft-bodied like modern flatworms, then something happened half a billion years ago to allow animals to fossilize freely — the arising of hard, mineralized skeletons, for example.”

    I think he’s getting the idea! There may be hope for Dawkins yet.

  7. TimT [from 2]

    “Yes, they trot out this common ancestor claim all the time, but if you look through all their candidates in the ape-human line, all they dish up are either apes or humans.”

    Not true. If you actually look through the fossil record you see a sliding scale of creatures gradually becoming more human-like and less ape-like.

    “There is no common ancestor candidate in any of the creatures they bring out. If there is a common ancestor, where is it? What’s its name?”

    We could be phenominally luck to discover a fossil of an individual from the PRECICE species which was the common ancestor between humans and chimpanzees. The most we can realistically hope for is closely-related creatures which is what we do have. What do you make of australopithecus afarensis, for example?

  8. tragic mishap [from 4]

    “1. Darwinian evolution is true
    2. The fossil record doesn’t support it

    Conclusion:
    The fossil record is incomplete.”

    How on Earth does the fossil record not support Darwinian evolution?

  9. Ritchie:

    How does it?

  10. Why don’t you ask Collins why he assumed the fossil record was incomplete? Why did he speculate that fossilization must have not occurred very much before the Cambrian explostion? Not my argument.

  11. You also have to ask Dawkins why he said he believes that skeletons must have evolved as fast as the fossil record implies.

  12. “Creationists are deeply enamored of the fossil record because they have been taught that it is full of “gaps”. Actually, we are lucky to have any fossils at all. The massive numbers we now do have document evolutionary history. Large numbers by any standards constitute beautiful “intermediates.” The fossil evidence for evolution in many major animal groups is wonderfully strong”.

    Ah, Mr Dawkins in full flow…

    Some 30 years ago a ‘controversial best seller’ was published here (UK) which quoted Darwin’s confession that the lack of intermediate varieties in every stratum was the most ‘obvious and gravest objection’ which could be offered against his hypothesis. Thirty years on, the situation has changed so much that Mr Dawkins tells us we are plain lucky to have any fossils at all – so does that mean Darwin’s own point here is now mute?
    I very much doubt it.

  13. Ritchie -

    Many people have heard the number that 99% of all species that existed have gone extinct, right? Do you know what that number is based on? It certainly isn’t based on what is found in the fossil record.

    There are only about 250,000 species of organisms found in the fossil record (and I think about 6 million alive today). So how is it that they estimate that 99% of species have gone extinct? That’s the number that would have to be true if Darwinian evolution was true.

    So, if Darwinian evolution were true, and Richard Dawkins explanation of the paucity of the fossil record was true, we should be continually finding new species almost every time we dig – because in each dig we would have a greater-than-99% chance of finding a new species, and a less-than-1% chance of finding an old one.

    But what happens? We find the same species over-and-over again. Sometimes a new one appears, but certainly not to the extent expected if the known fossil record is missing over 99% of species.

    In fact, I would say that the fossil record seems remarkably complete, in the sense that we tend to find the same species over and over again.

    Most people also don’t know what the current definition of “transitional form” means. It doesn’t mean that a species is a transition between any two identifiable species – it usually means that it has characteristics of multiple clades – more of a chimera than a transition. This is not in any way Darwinian evolution.

    If anyone talks of a “transitional fossil” and the transition they speak of is of ant taxonomic level larger than a genus, then the fossils are not transitional in any Darwinian sense.

  14. tragic mishap @ 4

    Anyway, I think it’s pretty awesome that guys like Dawkins and Francis Collins actually use the following argument:

    1. Darwinian evolution is true
    2. The fossil record doesn’t support it

    Conclusion:
    The fossil record is incomplete.

    rofl. Science at its best folks.

    Not quite.

    The claim is that the theory of evolution is well-established on the basis of evidence other than the fossil record.

    That record is fragmentary at best but, given how rare fossilization is as a process, we are lucky to have what we have.

    Fossils can be arranged in sequences which show changes over time that are consistent with the process of evolution.

  15. tragic mishap @ 5

    “something happened”? Several major categories suddenly developed bones overnight? What exactly? Punctuated equilibrium? Right.

    You think 70 million years is overnight?

    You must have a very unusual sleep pattern.

  16. Creationists are deeply enamored of the fossil record . . .

    LOL. When I first started debating this it was the evos who were constantly citing the fossil record as proof of Darwinism.

  17. Seversky:

    To the first, I’m glad we are in agreement about the evolutionary argument on the fossil record. Perhaps you should bring Dawkins up to speed on it.

    As per your second response, you are saying there’s a 70 million year gap between the Cambrian and Pre-Cambrian?

  18. tribune77:

    When I first started debating this it was the evos who were constantly citing the fossil record as proof of Darwinism.

    I remember when they used to do that. I’m not that old either.

  19. You think 70 million years is overnight?

    How many reproductive events would have occurred in that time? I guess we’d have to know the the initial population size of those first arthropods? So what was it? Where would they have come from?

  20. johnnyb @ 13

    Many people have heard the number that 99% of all species that existed have gone extinct, right? Do you know what that number is based on? It certainly isn’t based on what is found in the fossil record.

    This is a good question and you can find a handy little answer here.

    So, if Darwinian evolution were true, and Richard Dawkins explanation of the paucity of the fossil record was true, we should be continually finding new species almost every time we dig – because in each dig we would have a greater-than-99% chance of finding a new species, and a less-than-1% chance of finding an old one.

    Fossilization is an extremely rare event. It tends to happen only in certain places and under certain conditions. Only animals living in the vicinity of such events would be at risk of being caught up in such an event and, of those, only some would have bodies that would be liable to fossilize. All other living creatures, which would constitute the overwhelming majority, would be invisible to the record.

    But what happens? We find the same species over-and-over again. Sometimes a new one appears, but certainly not to the extent expected if the known fossil record is missing over 99% of species.

    What we find will depend on when and where fossilization events occur.

    Suppose, for the sake of argument that it happens in areas that are vulnerable to sudden flooding. Animals are trapped and drowned in the floodwaters and their bodies eventually deposited on a riverbed and entombed in silt. Over geological time, that silt and the bodies in it turn to stone. Obviously, we are going to find fossils of animals most often found in such areas.

    Even so, it depends on what happens and where. The Burgess Shale, which has given us a fascinating insight into the so-called Cambrian Explosion, is a rich source of new species and even phyla which are still being discovered today.

  21. Seversky:

    This is a good question and you can find a handy little answer here.

    Your link leads to the “Not Found” bin, which I find fairly appropriate.

    Obviously, we are going to find fossils of animals most often found in such areas.

    Since fossils are found worldwide, and in many cases such as the North Sea fish tombs are thousands of miles across… now, you aren’t advocating Noah’s Flood, are you?

    …the so-called Cambrian Explosion, is a rich source of new species and even phyla which are still being discovered today.

    It’s weird to in one phrase say the “so-called” Cambrian Explosion, and then call it rich in species immediately after.

  22. Ritchie, I must ask again…

    How does the fossil record demonstrate Darwinian evolution so convincingly?

  23. SpitfireIXA @ 21

    Seversky:

    This is a good question and you can find a handy little answer here.

    Your link leads to the “Not Found” bin, which I find fairly appropriate.

    My apologies for that. Let me try that link again.

  24. SpitfireIXA 21

    Since fossils are found worldwide,

    Gold is found worldwide. Doesn’t mean every time you dig a whole you come up with a nugget.

  25. Seversky,

    Gold is found worldwide. Doesn’t mean every time you dig a whole you come up with a nugget.

    Of course not.

  26. Ah yes, I see the light. Any area which has fossils must have been an area where massive flooding occurred. Interesting theory. Have you run it by any uniformitarian geologists?

  27. SpitfireIXA [from 22]

    Sorry, I’m not able to get on particularly often…

    “Ritchie, I must ask again…

    How does the fossil record demonstrate Darwinian evolution so convincingly?”

    Well, for one thing, the pattern in the fossil record shows simple organisms gradually becoming more complex. This was a prediction made by ‘Darwinian evolution’.

    Also, such diverse groups as birds and mammals can be rather convincingly traced to common ancestors. Again, in accordance with ‘Darwinian evolution’.

    I suppose many will snort that this is hardly conclusive proof, but I was simply challenging the claim that the fossil record does NOT support it.

    By contrast, Dawkins is quick to point out how easily ‘Darwinian evolution’ could be falsified by the fossil record – if we found fossils of all sorts of animals jumbled up in the rock strata. Even a single fossil could be disasterous – the infamous ‘rabbit in the PreCambrian’. This makes ToE highly falsifiable, but it never has been. With rather suggests it is probably true, doesn’t it?

  28. johnnyb [from 13]

    “Many people have heard the number that 99% of all species that existed have gone extinct, right? Do you know what that number is based on? It certainly isn’t based on what is found in the fossil record.”

    True, but we would be silly to assume that every species would have a respresentative preserved in the fossil record, given how rare fossilization is.

    “So, if Darwinian evolution were true, and Richard Dawkins explanation of the paucity of the fossil record was true, we should be continually finding new species almost every time we dig – because in each dig we would have a greater-than-99% chance of finding a new species, and a less-than-1% chance of finding an old one.”

    I think you are underestimating how unlikely fossilization is. I read up on it once and have forgotten the specifics, but I seem to recall individual organisms need to lie buried in or at the edge of water or very muddy, marshy ground. This naturally makes some species more likely to fossilize than others. Also, the type of rock in which fossils are formed (is it sedimentary…?) is constantly being recycled in a natural process, so old fossils are being destroyed as new ones are being created. This alone makes old fossils rarer than more recently created ones.

    “In fact, I would say that the fossil record seems remarkably complete, in the sense that we tend to find the same species over and over again.”

    Do we? Can you support that claim? I’d be interested to see some statistics on this.

    “Most people also don’t know what the current definition of “transitional form” means. It doesn’t mean that a species is a transition between any two identifiable species – it usually means that it has characteristics of multiple clades – more of a chimera than a transition. This is not in any way Darwinian evolution.”

    I disagree with your final statement. Species which show the characteristics of multiple clades are wonderful demonstrations of Darwinian evolution. The reason they are not a ‘transition between two identifiable species’ is often that the precise species have not been discovered. Nor is it easy to be certain exactly which species gave rise to which. For example, we have found feathered, ‘bird-like’ dinosaurs. Which specific species actually gave rise to the birds? We cannot be certain. But the fact that we do find feathered, bird-like dinosaurs and never find birds before this time is a pretty good indication that birds did indeed rise from dinosaurs, and is extremely Darwinian.

  29. Ya know, for something that’s as true/factual as gravity, this is one theory that is subject to an awful lot of (near-constant) revision.

  30. Ritchie:

    That’s okay, I wasn’t actually trying to rush you. I realized my previous post didn’t really make much sense if you read it without carefully reading the post before it, so I thought I would clarify the question the second time around. Thanks for the response.

  31. Ya know, for something that’s as true/factual as gravity, this is one theory that is subject to an awful lot of (near-constant) revision.

    you mean the theory of gravity that has undergone massive, revolutionary revisions (Newtonian vs general relativity strike a bell?) and for which there are currently at least seven alternative theories? If anything I’d say the theory of evolution is in better shape than the theory of gravity.

  32. Ritchie -

    I think you misunderstood my argument. My point was that we continue to dig up basically the same species over and over again, yet the Darwinian assumptions tell us we should be constantly unearthing new ones.

    Look up Rarefaction.

    There was a debate in Nature a while back on the adequacy of the fossil record. The interesting part is that the adequacy itself was a given, the only question was whether cladistics or paleontology should take precedence in phylogeny.

  33. Ritchie -

    As for transitional fossils, when you are connecting large groups, consider the reptile/mammal transitions. What you have is somewhere around 12 unrelated fossil groups all in the transitional space between reptiles and mammals. Each of them have different sets of mammalian features. How can this be Darwinian evolution? 12 groups all going to mammals all at the same time, each with a different subset of mammalian features? If that’s any kind of evolution, it would be nomogenesis or Lamarckism. It is a far cry from anything Darwinism would expect.

    And, if the fossil record is approaching adequacy, saying that the evolutionary time ate my evidence is becoming a weak excuse.

  34. Why not just google ‘flatworm fossils’?

    http://www.pbs.org/kcet/shapeo.....xplo1.html

    What do you know? They are Cambrian!

    Certainly Dawkins and his crew can find indirect fossil evidence of flatworms or other ‘probably soft bodied creatures’ before the Cambrian.

    Can’t they?

    ps. thanks PBS

  35. It’s not the fact that creationists harp about “Piltdown man” and ignore the non-fake fossils.

    It’s that outright fraud was committed by supposedly objective scientists who wanted to prove evolution was true to a skeptical public.

    Even the fossils produced that supposedly connected humans to their monkeylike ancestors have been scrapped:

    -An early mammal said to have lived about 70 million years ago was thought to have been an ancestor of modern humans, as brought out in the book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, by Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey. However, no transitional stages have ever linked them with anything except what they were: small rodentlike mammals.

    Aegyptopithecus (Egypt ape) is said to have lived 30 million years ago. No links to modern humans have been found.

    Ramapithecus (Rama’s ape) is said to have lived 14 million years ago. The only fossils found of this supposed ancestor were fragments of upper and lower jaws and teeth. Later, Natural History magazine pondered how this ancestor was even reconstructed without a known pelvis, limb bones, or skull.

    Obviously, a great deal of wishful thinking went into making the fossil evidence say what it does not say. When the evidence for anything is flimsy or nonexistent, or based on outright deception, sooner or later the claim comes to nothing.

  36. SpitfireIXA [from 30]

    Okay, that’s cool. No worries.

    johnnyb [from 32]

    johnnyb

    “I think you misunderstood my argument. My point was that we continue to dig up basically the same species over and over again, yet the Darwinian assumptions tell us we should be constantly unearthing new ones.”

    That assertion sounds silly to me. We unearth new species in the fossil record every year. Are you saying we have a massive abundance of any particular species? If so, which?

    “Look up Rarefaction.”

    Interesting. But why would we expect all species to be preserved equally in the fossil record? Some species are simply more numerous than others, some are more likely to fossilize than others and older fossils are generally destroyed in the process of making new ones. Surely we shouldn’t expect all species to have the same number of representatives preserved in fossils?

    “As for transitional fossils, when you are connecting large groups, consider the reptile/mammal transitions. What you have is somewhere around 12 unrelated fossil groups all in the transitional space between reptiles and mammals. Each of them have different sets of mammalian features.”

    I think the point is that they ARE related – descended from a common ancestor. Some have gone extinct, and some are the ancestors of modern mammals we see today. This is perfectly Darwinian.

    “And, if the fossil record is approaching adequacy, saying that the evolutionary time ate my evidence is becoming a weak excuse.”

    Not really sure what you’re talking about here…

  37. Barb [from 35]

    I’m afraid that’s all nonsense. That’s the equivalent of closing your eyes and saying ‘There’s no evidence there! I can’t see any!’

    Where did you get such nonsense from?

  38. I got it from a book discussing the merits and flaws of evolution. Prove that it’s nonsense, please.

    None of the prehistorical animals I mentioned are considered part of the human family tree. Please show how they are part of the family tree and provide references.

  39. Obviously, a great deal of wishful thinking went into making the fossil evidence say what it does not say.

    The evidence never “says” anything. It’s all in how you interpret it. So Ritchie, I’m interested in your unequal fossilization theory. Care to make any predictions about what animals will be found more often than others based on their habitat or whatever you are thinking? Or are we going to get another “We found more of these so they must live nearer to marshes than the ones we never found which certainly exist” reasoning?

    Also, the fact is that every paleontologist has their own version of the human tree.

  40. Ritchie:

    “In fact, I would say that the fossil record seems remarkably complete, in the sense that we tend to find the same species over and over again.”

    Do we? Can you support that claim? I’d be interested to see some statistics on this.

    http://www.discovery.org/a/2177

    “Intelligent Design: The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories” and

    http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....038;id=639

    http://www.discovery.org/a/1772

    the Cambrian Explosion chapter from Darwinism, Design and Public Education both cite papers as claiming that the fossil record is probably representative enough to rule out the artefact hypothesis. Apparently at least one of them (Foote 1997) is based on a statistical analysis.

  41. Ritchie:

    While Darwinism has an explanation for the fossil record, it is not supported by the fossil evidence. Dawkins is beginning to get that.

    ID has been a better predictor of the fossil record results over the past 160 years.

    Darwinism predicted an extended, gradual, smooth transition that would nearly erase taxonomy due to the vast number of necessary transitional forms.

    ID predicted species stasis and stable taxonomies. The creationism extension predicts sudden and staged appearance of designs.

    In the 1850′s, Darwin said “we’ll see.” In 2009, we see. The fossil records shows atasis, stable taxonomies, and sudden, staged appearance of designs.

    Hence the Darwinist need for such contortions as PE, convergence, and the newfound love for Lamarck.

  42. Spitfire,

    ID has been a better predictor of the fossil record results over the past 160 years.

    ID was making predictions 160 years ago?

    ID predicted species stasis and stable taxonomies.

    On what basis? Citations, please.

    The creationism extension predicts sudden and staged appearance of designs.

    The creationism extension? What is that?

    The fossil records shows atasis, stable taxonomies, and sudden, staged appearance of designs.

    Details, please. This seems interesting.

  43. I’m coming into this discussion rather late, I admit, but I have been pondering what the fossil record actually shows for quite some time. Here is my two cents worth.

    The central thesis of the Darwinian paradigm (for which there is no actual evidence, by the way) is that many small changes to a species over a long period of time can and do gradually accumulate and eventually become a major change, in the process producing a new species. Thus, “Darwinism predicted an extended, gradual, smooth transition that would nearly erase taxonomy due to the vast number of necessary transitional forms,” as Spitfire points out (#41)

    Therefore, as Darwin himself remarked, for the fossil record to support his theory, we should see many examples of this kind of gradual change. We should see, for example, some small rodent with successively longer and longer forelimbs that eventually become bat wings, or we should see reptilian scales slowly, step by Darwinian step, transform into feathers, or the fins of some fish species slowly morphing into pentadactyl limbs. Granted, the fossil record is incomplete, but the total absence of ANY such sequence (or even a partial sequence) means that at best the fossil record is neutral with respect to Darwinism, but really this constitutes a very large strike against it. On the other hand, even one such sequence would be very, very strong evidence for its truth.

    On the other hand, if you look at the known examples of intelligent design, e.g., human technology, the pattern of evolution mirrors that of the pattern of the evolution of life quite strikingly. Take the airplane, for example. You don’t see piston engined aircraft gradually evolving into jet aircraft by a series of incremental changes. (And turboprop aircraft are clearly not an intermediate form in such an evolution.) Rather, what you see is jet aircraft springing into existence fully formed. The same is true for virtually any other technology you care to name–each major change appears all at once, fully formed.

    Thus, the fossil record, if it supports either side in this debate, much more strongly supports ID.

  44. Ritchie

    Keep in mind here, that Gould and Eldridge did not come up with punctuated equilibrium because the fossil record had plenty of transitional forms.

    “Actually, we are lucky to have any fossils at all.”

    To paraphrase DaveScot, when we have a conflict between theory and reality, we generally go with reality.

    Slight change of subject:

    I read on a creationist web site that for both humans and dinosaurs, in the older strata where their respective fossils are found there is a high ratio of fossil foot prints to bodies and that in younger strata the ratio reverses. Is this true?

  45. Ritchie:

    Well, for one thing, the pattern in the fossil record shows simple organisms gradually becoming more complex. This was a prediction made by ‘Darwinian evolution’.

    Except that evolution does not have a direction.

  46. Barb [from 38]

    “I got it from a book discussing the merits and flaws of evolution.”

    What was the book, please? Was it by someone with qualifications in biology or another relevant field?

    “Prove that it’s nonsense, please.
    None of the prehistorical animals I mentioned are considered part of the human family tree. Please show how they are part of the family tree and provide references.”

    As we should expect given Darwinian evolution, we find many fossils which we may call ‘transitional’ between human and ape. The fossils themselves include Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus, Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, Homo heidelbergensis, and Homo neanderthalensis. Again, as we should expect given Darwinian evolution, they emerged in a particular place (Eastern Africa) over a particular time (the last 6 million years) becoming gradually less ape-like and more human-like. It is important to remember that any given fossilized species may or may not be our direct ancestor, but again, that is to be expected given Darwinian evolution.

  47. tragic mishap [from 39]

    “So Ritchie, I’m interested in your unequal fossilization theory. Care to make any predictions about what animals will be found more often than others based on their habitat or whatever you are thinking?”

    Well, I would expect there would be more sea creatures fossilized than land creatures, for one. Of course, whether we actually get to FIND them is another issue – I imagine it’s harder to dig underwater! Also, I would expect there would be more recent species than ancient species, given the fact that sedimentary (I think) rock is recycled naturally.

  48. anonym [from 40]

    “the Cambrian Explosion chapter from Darwinism, Design and Public Education both cite papers as claiming that the fossil record is probably representative enough to rule out the artefact hypothesis.”

    Sorry if it seems I’m rushing – I haven’t actually checked the links yet (I intend to), but are you saying they conclude that there simply AREN’T many more species to be found? How can they possibly know that?

  49. merlin [from 44]

    “Keep in mind here, that Gould and Eldridge did not come up with punctuated equilibrium because the fossil record had plenty of transitional forms.”

    But punctuated equilibrium in no way implies a designer.

    “To paraphrase DaveScot, when we have a conflict between theory and reality, we generally go with reality.”

    You mean ‘unlikely events NEVER happen’?

    “Slight change of subject:

    I read on a creationist web site that for both humans and dinosaurs, in the older strata where their respective fossils are found there is a high ratio of fossil foot prints to bodies and that in younger strata the ratio reverses. Is this true?”

    I have no idea. I could look it up. What would the implications be if it were true?

  50. Joseph [from 45]

    “Except that evolution does not have a direction.”

    It does in time – forwards.

  51. The point is that there’s no reason why evolution should require organisms to increase in complexity. Evolution only requires that they reproduce.
    Darwinian evolution does not require increased complexity.
    Darwinian evolution cannot explain increased complexity.
    And from that we conclude that increased complexity is obviously caused by Darwinian evolution.
    You may now *poof* away the logic with hand-waving and shell-rearranging.

  52. Ritchie,

    “By contrast, Dawkins is quick to point out how easily ‘Darwinian evolution’ could be falsified by the fossil record – if we found fossils of all sorts of animals jumbled up in the rock strata. ”

    But that presupposes that all IDists follow literal Biblical creationism – all animals created at once.

    I would expect that natural things unfold in a rational and stepwise fashion, evolution of life included. It’s the undirected, random mutation form of evolution that I don’t accept and which lacks evidence. Is all the universe filled with the intelligence of God? Is DNA a higher life form itself, and self-directing? Was the whole shebang front-loaded? Whatever the answer to that, it appears that life unfolds from the simple to the complex, in discrete saltational jumps.

  53. Ritchie,

    Evolution does not predict that organisms will become more complex over time.

    The truth is Darwinian evolution deson’t make any predictions based on its proposed mechanisms.

    Predictions based on common ancestry shopuld not be confused for predictions based on those mechanisms.

    Also predictions based on common ancestry can be used as predictions from common design and/ or convergence.

  54. Adel @42

    ID was making predictions 160 years ago?

    Yes, people had brains before Darwin. Have you never read Paley, or the Greeks for that matter? Did you think CSI was invented by a TV show?

    On what basis? Citations, please.

    Again, have you never read Paley, Mendel or any of Darwin’s contemporaries? Or Darwin himself? Read some of Darwinism’s skeptics 1860-1920. Are you seriously saying that Darwin’s skeptics did not predict/expect stasis and stable taxonomies and Darwinism the opposite?

    The creationism extension? What is that?

    ID is limited to detection of design. Creationism defines who the designer is.

    The fossil records shows stasis, stable taxonomies, and sudden, staged appearance of designs. … Details, please. This seems interesting.

    Ummm… Cambrian Explosion and the documented series of other time period explosions, dinosaur books containing dinosaur taxonomies…

    Forgive the sarcasm, but you wasted my time. My previous posts explained concepts readily understood as the arguments on both sides.

    So, if you have a specific contention, please get to it.

  55. Ritchie,

    Do you have a refutation for the contention that ID has been a better predictor of the fossil record findings than Darwinism?

    Dawkins is clearly giving up on this fight, and declaring it irrelevant.

  56. Ritchie

    But punctuated equilibrium in no way implies a designer.

    Correct. It implies a serious problem with defending the fossil record based on standard Darwinian theory. PE is one of the “epi-cycles” of Darwinism.

  57. Mr ScottAndrews,

    I’m not sure that I would agree to call the leap from “does not require” to “cannot explain” logic.

    Certainly evolution does not require a monotonic increase in complexity. Look at cave fish, snakes, whales, color vision in mammals, some parasites. Here, I’m obviously associating ‘complexity’ with some idea of phenotypic measure. Evolution is quite happy to drive a square peg into a round hole by knocking the corners off.

    On the other hand, “there’s always room at the top” can be applied to complexity as well as size. Once variation creates a new enzyme or cell type, its hard to get rid of it. Symbiosis (acquiring entire genomes) and duplication create genetic information faster than mutation and deletion can eliminate it, or turn genes into pseudogenes. Deletion is far less likely to be neutral or have survival value that leads to differential reproductive success.

    I hope you won’t quibble that an appeal to neutrality is not “Darwinian” evolution. ;)

  58. Spirfire @41 said:

    “ID has been a better predictor of the fossil record results over the past 160 years.”

    So I asked:

    “ID was making predictions 160 years ago?”

    To which Spitfire replied,

    Yes, people had brains before Darwin.

    That point was never in contention.

    Have you never read Paley, or the Greeks for that matter?

    What specific predictions did Paley or the Greeks make about the fossil record?

    Did you think CSI was invented by a TV show?

    When was it invented? By whom? 160 years ago?

    Spitfire also asserted @41:

    “ID predicted species stasis and stable taxonomies.”

    So I asked:

    “On what basis? Citations, please.”

    To which Spitfire replied:

    Again, have you never read Paley, Mendel or any of Darwin’s contemporaries? Or Darwin himself? Read some of Darwinism’s skeptics 1860-1920.

    Respectfully, Spitfire, I asked for citations. Please provide quotes from the above eminences that support your claim.

    Are you seriously saying that Darwin’s skeptics did not predict/expect stasis and stable taxonomies and Darwinism the opposite?

    You made the claim, “ID predicted species stasis and stable taxonomies. (160 years ago)” I asked you for the basis of that claim. In order to make a prediction, one must have a basis for it. What were the working hypotheses of the persons who made those predictions?

  59. Spitfire @41:

    “The creationism extension predicts sudden and staged appearance of designs.”

    So, I asked:

    “The creationism extension? What is that?”

    To which Spitfire replied,

    ID is limited to detection of design. Creationism defines who the designer is.

    I can see where a creationist would expect sudden and miraculous appearance of designs, but where is the science in that?

    Surely ID’s predictions don’t depend upon religious presuppositions.

  60. Nakashima:
    I’m not sure that I would agree to call the leap from “does not require” to “cannot explain” logic.
    My bad. They were intended as two parallel statements, not as one logically derived from the other.

  61. Once variation creates a new enzyme or cell type, its hard to get rid of it. Symbiosis (acquiring entire genomes) and duplication create genetic information faster than mutation and deletion can eliminate it, or turn genes into pseudogenes. Deletion is far less likely to be neutral or have survival value that leads to differential reproductive success.
    And I must point out that all of this is speculation.

  62. Ritchie @49

  63. Ritchie @49
    The first point is that even darwinists see a problem in the fossil record.

    Secondly, if Dawkins thinks we are lucky to have any fossils, perhaps he should rethink the assumptions that lead him to that conclusion. The reality is that there are billions of fossils found all over the earth. You don’t see a problem here?

    Regarding the ratio of fossil footprints to body fossils changing over time, I don’t see any implications – just some of those rare events that happen so frequently.
    Sorry about the last non-post.

  64. Mr ScottAndrews,

    May I take it that you agree with my examples that evolution does reduce complexity when the reduction enhances reproductive fitness?

    Yes, I am speculating, but I think reasonably so. We know indels cause frameshift errors leading to diseases more often than they lead to nylonase. We know duplication can eventually lead to exaptation, an increase in complexity. We know symbiosis happens and that the symbiosis of proto-chloroplasts and proto-mitochondria led to vast increases in complexity (plants and animals).

    However, if I review Allan MacNeill’s list of 47 sources of variation, I don’t see similarly powerful sources of variation that reduce complexity.

  65. Nakashima:

    47 sources of variation is exactly the problem. There’s no evidence that RM+NS increases complexity, and now we have 47 sources of variation?
    When the giraffe’s anatomy was modified to give it both a long neck and the ability to survive with it, which of those 47 sources of variation were involved?

    Yes, I realize that does not address your question. But my point is that it’s all speculation. How did the giraffe get that long neck? We’re absolutely certain that it was some combination or subset of these 47 things. We’re just not sure which, or how. I call that bluffing.

  66. ScottAndrews [from 51]

    “The point is that there’s no reason why evolution should require organisms to increase in complexity. Evolution only requires that they reproduce.”

    You display a lack of understanding of evolution. Individual organisms are competing for survival with others of its kind. Any advantage it can gain over its fellows is to be treasured. But then the individual with the advantage is more likely to reproduce, and therefore pass on its advantage. Soon, individuals with the advantage will become common, even dominate the population. And if everyone has an advantage, it is not an advantage, just the norm. Until eventually another individual is born with an advantage. So these creatures do indeed get more complicated.

    “Darwinian evolution cannot explain increased complexity.”

    At best, a statement from ignorance, at worst a simple lie.

    “And from that we conclude that increased complexity is obviously caused by Darwinian evolution.”

    ???

    “You may now *poof* away the logic with hand-waving and shell-rearranging.”

    Which describes my above paragraph?

  67. Ritchie:

    So are you saying that evolution does require increased complexity?

    SA:“Darwinian evolution cannot explain increased complexity.”

    R:At best, a statement from ignorance, at worst a simple lie.

    You may now respond with a detailed, factual (non-hypothetical) account of darwinian evolution producing increased complexity. It shouldn’t take long. You should already have the link ready to paste into your next post. We’re waiting. If you have any evidence at all to back up what you believe then you can end this debate right now.
    I’ll be back tonight.

  68. avocationist [from 52]

    “But that presupposes that all IDists follow literal Biblical creationism – all animals created at once.”

    I take your point. But not quite. Does ID actually make the prediction that life should go from simple to complex? It is a prediction that Darwinian evolution made, and it has been verified. Why should ID have made that conclusion. Why shouldn’t an Intelligent Designer have made life complicated in the first place?

    “It’s the undirected, random mutation form of evolution that I don’t accept and which lacks evidence.”

    You don’t think there is evidence that random mutations happen?!?!!

    “Is all the universe filled with the intelligence of God?”

    Nope.

    “Is DNA a higher life form itself, and self-directing?”

    Higher than what? Us?

    “Was the whole shebang front-loaded?”

    Don’t know. But I suspect you don’t either. And with no evidence for a great supernatural entity such as an Intelligent Designer, Darwinian Evolution, on the face of it, is the far more probable answer.

  69. Joseph [from 53]

    “Evolution does not predict that organisms will become more complex over time.”

    It is not NECESSARY for them to become more complex over time, but it is perfectly in keeping with evolution that they do.

    “The truth is Darwinian evolution deson’t make any predictions based on its proposed mechanisms.”

    Wrong. It predicts many things. Hope this helps:

    http://www.dbskeptic.com/2008/.....edictions/

  70. SpitfireIXA [from 55]

    “Do you have a refutation for the contention that ID has been a better predictor of the fossil record findings than Darwinism?”

    Merely to ask ‘What findings are better explained through ID than through Darwinian evolution?’

    [from 56]

    “(Me) But punctuated equilibrium in no way implies a designer.

    (You) Correct. It implies a serious problem with defending the fossil record based on standard Darwinian theory. PE is one of the “epi-cycles” of Darwinism.”

    Errrm, how does it, exactly? And please remember that PE is just as ‘Darwinian’ as Phyletic Gradualism (what you seem to call ‘standard Darwinian Theory’). Neither is more or less ‘Darwinian’ than the other.

  71. merlin [from 63]

    “The first point is that even darwinists see a problem in the fossil record.”

    ???!!?! No they don’t!! What a ridiculous assertion! What in Hades makes you think that?

    “Secondly, if Dawkins thinks we are lucky to have any fossils, perhaps he should rethink the assumptions that lead him to that conclusion.”

    A much better point! I think what he is getting at is that fossilization is very rare. And it is. The fact that we have so many (though ‘billions’ is pushing it…) is just testament to the truly gargantuan number of individual creatures that have lived on this planet.

    “Regarding the ratio of fossil footprints to body fossils changing over time, I don’t see any implications – just some of those rare events that happen so frequently.”

    Ummm, okay.

    “Sorry about the last non-post.”

    No biggie.

  72. ScottAndrews [from 67]

    “You may now respond with a detailed, factual (non-hypothetical) account of darwinian evolution producing increased complexity.”

    May I? Thanks very much. How about this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.....complexity

    Or this:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/97/9/4463.full

    Or this:

    http://www.sklatch.net/what-is.....exity.html

    Evolution is a theory which was built to describe the variety and complexity we see in nature! To say it cannot do so is ridiculous.

    Can I just ask, what, in your opinion, IS the (Darwinian) theory of evolution? What do you think it says?

  73. Adel:

    Surely ID’s predictions don’t depend upon religious presuppositions.

    You’re correct. ID does not. It is a more empiric study than Creationism or Darwinism.

    Creationism has theist presuppositions.

    Darwinism has materialist presuppositions.

    Don’t you agree?

  74. Ricthie @70

    (Me) PE is one of the “epi-cycles” of Darwinism.”

    (You) Errrm, how does it, exactly?

    Had Darwinism’s predictions been verified by the fossil record, the concept of PE would never have been needed to explain the failure. Sudden appearance of new life doesn’t make much sense in a Darwinian worldview, and sudden is what we have. And, not just in the Cambrian Explosion.

    PE is not the only emergency “epicycle” of Darwinism:

    exaption
    cooption
    neutral drift
    convergence

    And the list goes on. All the above became necessary because of failures in Darwinian prediction.

  75. Ritchie @ 68,

    “Does ID actually make the prediction that life should go from simple to complex? It is a prediction that Darwinian evolution made, and it has been verified. Why should ID have made that conclusion. Why shouldn’t an Intelligent Designer have made life complicated in the first place?”

    Remember that ID only detects intelligent input. The how isn’t known, although its an area of obvious intense interest.

    I have a great respect for tolerating the state of unknowing because making up stories in the face of uncomfortable ignorance is, IMO, one of man’s great flaws.

    It won’t do to say that because you don’t think there is evidence for a designer that Darwinism is the best answer. Darwinism is a thoroughly inadequate answer, I am convinced, by the strength of the arguments against it and for ID. An inadequate answer doesn’t become a best answer just because we wish it to.

    For me, I’d say that a simple to complex unfolding of life fits in with the evidence, and logic, and intuition. It’s how we see things working, within “natural” cycles that lead up to incremental, discrete jumps into new conditions.

    As a panentheist (God is transcendent but also is absolutely everything)I have trouble with discussing things in terms of natural and supernatural. The concept doesn’t compute. God permeates nature and set the whole thing up – why would He need to ‘step outside’ of it to create? What would even be the point of that? Impatience? An inadequate setup?

    Sure, random mutations happen, but I don’t believe they lead to the information of life.

  76. avocationist[from75]

    “Remember that ID only detects intelligent input. The how isn’t known, although its an area of obvious intense interest.”

    And what intelligent input has it detected, specifically?

    “I have a great respect for tolerating the state of unknowing because making up stories in the face of uncomfortable ignorance is, IMO, one of man’s great flaws.”

    Agreed. It seems we only differ in which hypotheses are made up and which are based on evidence then.

    “For me, I’d say that a simple to complex unfolding of life fits in with the evidence, and logic, and intuition. It’s how we see things working, within “natural” cycles that lead up to incremental, discrete jumps into new conditions.

    Sure, random mutations happen, but I don’t believe they lead to the information of life.”

    Really? Please watch the following link. I’ve shown it to several people on here, and yet none of them seem willing to discuss it with me:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEtnyx0Yo9I

  77. Mr ScottAndrews,

    There is no need to change the subject. We’re talking about why increases in complexity might be favored (not required). I’m trying to respond to your previous comment that this is all just speculation by showing the basis for my argument. That one professor lists 47 sources of variation is not “the problem”. The preponderance of addition of material vs. deletion of material is the issue.

  78. Ritchie,

    Not even YECs deny speciation.

    IOW your salamander video doesn’t demonstrate squat.

    But thank you for proving that you don’t even know what is being debated.

  79. Ritchie,

    What is the scientific data that demonstrates blind and undirected processes, such as natural selection and random mutations, can lead to progressive complexity?

    Ya see “evolution” is not being debated.

  80. Ritchie:

    SA: “You may now respond with a detailed, factual (non-hypothetical) account of darwinian evolution producing increased complexity.”

    R: May I? Thanks very much. How about this:

    You supplied a Wikipedia entry (!) and a paper which describes a hypothesis in an abstract sense.

    Surely if you had a shred of scientific evidence in the vein of “evolution can increase biological complexity as demonstrated and documented in case X” you would have presented it.

    It’s claimed that random, undirected evolution is as well-founded as gravity, and yet you can’t show me one documented case of a single apple falling. Why should I take that seriously? If you can really flap your arms and fly to Cleveland, stop showing me Wikipedia entries and get down to business.

  81. Nakashima:
    There is no need to change the subject. We’re talking about why increases in complexity might be favored (not required). I’m trying to respond to your previous comment that this is all just speculation by showing the basis for my argument.

    Understood. But unless it were demonstrated that undirected evolution can produce complexity, any discussion of whether it should or would is still speculative.
    In fact, isn’t the question of whether evolution would favor complexity if it could produce it rather tautological?

  82. Joseph [from 78]

    “Not even YECs deny speciation.”

    Well, yes they do. That’s kinda the whole point.

    “IOW your salamander video doesn’t demonstrate squat.”

    No, it demonstrates two distinct species seperated by a continuous line of intermediate stages – something I’ve even heard declared to be doubted on this site! Also, it is a wonderful piece of evidence supporting Darwinian evolution which far too many people think is a wholly unsupported theory! And more to the point of this particular thread, it demonstrates that mutations can lead two groups off in seperate directions, and that in each case, the mutations become the ‘information’ which is passed down through generations.

    “Ya see “evolution” is not being debated.”

    Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection is. Of which, this is supporting evidence. How can you possibly claim with a straight face that this is in any way irrelevant?

  83. I’m a YEC and I don’t deny speciation.

  84. ScottAndrews [from 80]

    “Surely if you had a shred of scientific evidence in the vein of “evolution can increase biological complexity as demonstrated and documented in case X” you would have presented it.”

    That is not what you asked for! You made the shockingly inaccurate claim that Darwinian evolution cannot account for an increase in complexity. When challenged, you asked me for ‘… a detailed, factual (non-hypothetical) account of darwinian evolution producing increased complexity.’

    I was going to type it out in my own words, but I considered using links might carry more weight. Apparently not. Are these more acceptable to you:

    http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/paper.....rowth.html

    http://seedmagazine.com/conten....._its_eyes/

    And this, the link from the ones I listed above which you did not criticise:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/97/9/4463.full

  85. suckerspawn [from 83]

    “I’m a YEC and I don’t deny speciation.”

    Really? Well look at me being wrong.

    So you agree different species can indeed come from common ancestors – dogs and wolves, lions and cheetahs, humans and chimpanzees?

  86. Ritchie:

    Are you reading these articles yourself? They do not contain any detailed accounts of darwinian evolution building complexity. One is about loss of function. One does not name any specific living thing, so how could it contain any specific example?

    Why isn’t this at your fingertips? Why isn’t it in every schoolbook? Good grief, it’s the ‘cornerstone of biology’ and you’re having an awfully tough time coming up with it.

  87. Dogs and wolves, yes. Lions and cheetahs, maybe. Lions and tigers, yes (ligors and tigons). Humans and chimps, no.

  88. ScottAndrews [from 86]

    What is it exactly you want me to provide? I have given you links to various recent articles on evolution and increasing complexity, but you seem determined to just find excuses to just dismiss them. All the links I have provided are relevant to the discussion, but you are not addressing them.

    Do you want a single case study? How about Lenski’s case study on bacteria: http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....e-lab.html

    Is that the sort of thing you’re after?

  89. suckerspawn [from 87]

    Okay. Can I ask why? What the difference is in principle between the three?

  90. Ritchie,

    The ability to interbreed or evidence that at one time they could, like your salamanders.

  91. suckerspawn

    But surely different species are defined by their inability to interbreed (to produce fertile offspring at least – donkeys and horses produce asses, but they are sterile)?

  92. The definition of species gets blurred. You mentioned dogs and wolves. They can interbreed and their offspring can interbreed. Are they different species? Lions and tigers? Dolphins and killer whales?

  93. Hmmm, good point.

    Dogs and wolves can interbreed to produce fertile offspring, so they do actually belong to the same species (though to different sub-species).

    Perhaps a better example for me would have been a fox and a dingo where, to my knowledge, they cannot interbreed.

    Ligers were tigons were long thought to be sterile. There is one documented case where one gave birth to a rather sick cub, I believe, but in general yes, they are considered different species.

    Dolphins and killer whales cannot interbreed, and so are different species.

  94. My bad. S/B false killer whale.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wholphin

  95. Ritchie:

    I have given you links to various recent articles on evolution and increasing complexity, but you seem determined to just find excuses to just dismiss them.

    I issue a challenge, you provide links which don’t even attempt to address it, and I’m making excuses?

    You sent me hypotheses and math. If there were an ounce of documented evidence that undirected evolution can produce increased complexity, why wouldn’t you send it? I’m asking for the foundation of the cornerstone of biology. Can’t you find it?

    And no, Lenski’s bacteria don’t cut it. Tapirs don’t turn into giraffes by a variation in digestive enzymes. They don’t even get to be tapirs.

  96. suckerspawn

    Lol. Understood.

    So if creatures cannot interbreed, do you still think they could have descended from a common ancestor?

  97. ScottAndrews

    I don’t understand what is wrong with what I am sending! What was wrong with Lenski’s case study on bacteria? Doesn’t that clearly demonstrate what you’re asking for? The bacteria increased in complexity, didn’t they?

  98. Ritchie,

    The bacteria increased in complexity, didn’t they?

    No, they didn’t. They varied to digest one food source instead of another. Just like Darwin’s finches’ beaks changed shape a little.
    Going from no digestive ability to having some, that’s an increase in complexity. Or from a mouth to a beak.

    It’s like claiming that a man can flap his arms and fly to Cleveland, and demonstrating it with a video of a man jumping on a trampoline.

    Besides, it’s hard to imagine that the foundation for the cornerstone of biology was only laid in 2008.

  99. Linneaus put the Created Kind at the level of Genus.

    IOW Creationists understood speciation took place over 200 years ago.

    Darwin erected a strawman version- the fixity of species- which still persists today.

    BTW natural selection isn’t being debated.

    What it can do is being debated.

  100. ScottAndrews [from 98]

    “No, they didn’t. They varied to digest one food source instead of another. Just like Darwin’s finches’ beaks changed shape a little.”

    Actually the study really shows that all twelve strains independantly evolved bigger cells pretty much in synchronisation. The fact that one of them spontaneously evolved the ability to metabolise citrate was a total shock.

    Nor did the bacteria simply change their diet from one food source to another. They were all feeding on glucose. But one of the strains spontaneously evolved the ability to metabolize citrate AS WELL. That IS an increase in complexity. And it is an increase based on random mutation and natural selection.

    “It’s like claiming that a man can flap his arms and fly to Cleveland, and demonstrating it with a video of a man jumping on a trampoline.”

    What? I don’t get that reference at all…

  101. Joseph [from 99]

    “Linneaus put the Created Kind at the level of Genus.”

    Did he? Okay. based on what? If different sub-species can evolve from a common ancestor at the level of species, and different species can evolve from a common ancestor at the level of genus, why can’t different genera evolve from a common ancestor at the level of family?

  102. Mr ScottAndrews,

    In fact, isn’t the question of whether evolution would favor complexity if it could produce it rather tautological?

    No, the alternative is drift at some pre-existing level of complexity (for example, sexual selection merely shifting fashions) or an argument that the optimization of evolution is so relentless that it will always work to shave unnecessary features away, whether in cave fish or bacteria.

    But in any case, are you saying that you don’t think any of the complexity of existing life forms is due to evolution? That is a pretty extreme position.

  103. 103

    Ritchie,

    “And what intelligent input has it detected, specifically?”

    What have you read about complex specified information or irreducible complexity?

    “Really? Please watch the following link. I’ve shown it to several people on here, and yet none of them seem willing to discuss it with me:”

    One has to wonder, when these closely related subspecies prefer not to mate with one another, especially when they can do so in a pinch, what sort of cues they are going on. Perhaps smell. If that is the case, then it means there are more genetic changes involved than we are aware of.

    A certain amount of ability to change and fine-tune seems to be built into the genome. But random genetic errors cannot create vast systems of interrelated complexity.

  104. Ritchie @100:

    Since Lenski has not yet isolated the genetic changes which caused the citrate use, and since this is quite likely to be a case of devolution and not evolution, and since bacteria already use citrate, and since Lenski’s 21-year old bacteria colonies have managed to produce only bacteria — and only of their own species –, Lenski hasn’t given us much.

    That’s why the hubbub over his research has died down.

    Also, your previous three links provided nothing of empiric value. If you believed that they did, please provide a specific reference.

  105. Mr SpitfireIXA,

    If evolution is change in allele frequencies over time, what is devolution?

  106. avocationist [from 103]

    “What have you read about complex specified information”

    Very little. What’s that?

    “or irreducible complexity?”

    I understand it as a concept, but I don’t know of any actual examples of irreducible complexity in nature. The way I understand it, features which are often held up as being irreducibly complex, such as the bacerial flagellum or the eye are in fact not irreducibly complex. Do you know of any?

    “One has to wonder, when these closely related subspecies prefer not to mate with one another, especially when they can do so in a pinch, what sort of cues they are going on.”

    A very interesting point, but slightly tangental. It’s not just that the salamanders are merely ‘choosing’ not to interbreed. It is more than they are on their way to being actively unable to.

    Hybrids of the two species exist, it is true, but they generally show features of such cross-species hybrid animals – poor health and usually sterile. These are signs that though the genes of the parents are similar enough to mix, they are not mixing very well.

    From a shared ancestor, these two sepcies of salamander – klauberi and escholtzii have drifted apart genetically. Since it looks so unlikely that gene flow will be sucessfully re-established, we can expect their genes to simply drift further apart. How long before the two species are completely unable to interbreed at all? Donkeys and horses are abel to interbreed at a pinch (to produce the usually sterile mule), but we don’t really have a problem classing them as seperate species.

    “A certain amount of ability to change and fine-tune seems to be built into the genome.”

    It that’s how you look at it, doesn’t that count as evidence against an intelligent designer? Why couldn’t he just have got it right to begin with?

    “But random genetic errors cannot create vast systems of interrelated complexity.”

    That is exactly what they can create. Not all in one jump of course, but these ‘errors’, if they happen to be advantageous, are spread throughout, and build up in a gene pool, and vast complex systems will eventually emerge.

  107. SpitfireIXA [from 104]

    “Since Lenski has not yet isolated the genetic changes which caused the citrate use,”

    But he has shown that it has happened! That is the point.

    “and since this is quite likely to be a case of devolution and not evolution,”

    I will have to echo Nakashima’s question. What is devolution, and how does it differ from evolution? I understand the term ‘devolution’ when used in politics, but not in biology.

    “and since bacteria already use citrate,”

    Not the strain that Lenski was using. Lenski is not claiming to have created a strain of bacteria unknown to the world before. He took one strain of bacteria and it spontaneously evolved an ability it did not previously have. Imagine if we studied mice and they suddenly developed the ability to fly! Saying ‘there are other creatures in nature which have the same ability’ does not make the finding any less startling.

    “and since Lenski’s 21-year old bacteria colonies have managed to produce only bacteria”

    What did you expect them to produce? Imagine if he’d taken Jack Russells and they had evolved into Great Danes. Saying ‘but he started with dogs and only managed to produce dogs’ would sound a bit silly, wouldn’t it?

    “— and only of their own species –,”

    See above.

    “Lenski hasn’t given us much.”

    On the contrary. It seems to me that you simply don’t understand the significance of the experiment.

    “That’s why the hubbub over his research has died down.”

    Has it? What are you basing that on?

    “Also, your previous three links provided nothing of empiric value.”

    Which three? The ones in post 72, or in 84, because if you mean the latter, then I’m afraid I’ll need you to clarify why you think they are of no empirical value.

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