UD Commenters Win One for the Gipper
|December 7, 2008||Posted by Barry Arrington under Intelligent Design|
Below the fold I have reproduced an interesting comment thread in which ribczynski attacks ID proponents’ criticisms of macroevolution through NDE, and two ID proponents convincingly refute the Darwinist line.
The following comments and questions are for those of you who acknowledge that natural selection and common descent are real (with the usual caveats about horizontal gene transfer), but believe that natural selection does not and cannot explain large-scale evolutionary changes (i.e. “macroevolution”).
[Note: In this discussion I will be using “natural selection” to encompass both heritable variation and selection, as is commonly done.]
1. When ID supporters ask for evidence of macroevolution, biologists point to the fossil record, molecular biology and comparative anatomy to make their case. The more enlightened IDers accept these as evidence of evolution, but question whether such evolution can be explained as the result of unguided natural selection. They ask for evidence that unguided macroevolution has been directly observed.
The problem is that macroevolution doesn’t happen on a short human timescale. Why demand a demonstration of rapid macroevolution when evolutionary biologists don’t even believe that it occurs? It doesn’t make sense.
Some, like jerry, will argue that Darwinians are just using time as an excuse:
Since there are no examples of macro evolution happening, Darwinists resort to all sorts of crutches, the most important of which is deep time. They will say that don’t you see what can happen over millions of years and that is where they stop.
The question for jerry is this: Is he prepared to provide a real-time demonstration of guided macroevolution? If not, why the double standard?
2. If a direct demonstration of macroevolution is not possible, then what about the indirect evidence of the fossil record, comparative anatomy and molecular biology?
No good, say ID supporters, because you can’t show that the evidence was produced by unguided changes. They might have been guided.
I have three responses:
a. In making this complaint, IDers are undermining their own demand for a direct demonstration of unguided macroevolution. Suppose that such a demonstration could be arranged. How would we know that it was unguided? After all, it’s possible that the Designer has his fingers in our demonstrations. (This, by the way, is what critics mean when they say that ID is unfalsifiable).
b. If evolution is guided, why are there no saltations? Why does the designer always happen to choose the small changes that we would expect to see if natural selection were operating — the same small changes that allow us to deduce the nested hierarchy?
c. Apart from their YEC brethren, IDers tend to accept the evidence for geologic processes operating over vast timescales, and they don’t dispute it when geologists contend that these processes were unguided. Why don’t they demand proof that these processes were unguided? Could it have anything to do with the fact that their religious beliefs conflict with unguided macroevolution, but not with unguided geology?
3. Mathematical or computer modeling of Darwinian processes could demonstrate the plausibility of unguided macroevolution, but as the reaction to Avida indicates, IDers can always insist that a particular model is unrealistic in some crucial way that invalidates the results.
IDers demand empirical evidence of unguided macroevolution, but it’s not clear to me what sort of evidence they would actually accept, short of an authentic handwritten note from God.
I ask them: In your view, what would count as sufficient empirical evidence for unguided macroevolution?
ID PROPONENTS’ REBUTTAL:
When you make specific points, I am always ready to answer.
1) is not really a point. I agree that the supposed unguided macroevoution operates at large time scales: nobody is asking that it should be “directly” observed. But we do ask that it may be “indirectly” inferred form observed facts according to a credible model, which is what we can and must ask of all scientific theories.
a) Wrong. If you can arrange a demonstration, be it direct or indirect, where macroevolution happens in an understandable way, according to a credible model, without any apparent intervention of a designer, that would be falsification of ID. The objection you suggest, that a designer could still be acting “behind the scenes” is imply unacceptable. I would never make it, and the same is true for any serious IDist. Maybe some theistic evolutionists…
b) First of all there are saltations. Have you ever heard of “punctuated equilibrium”? That’s not an ID theory.
Anyway, I don’t see why a designer should not act gradually. That’s the usual way of working of designers. Obviously the time scale depends on the nature of the designer.
And by the way, we do not observe “the small changes that we would expect to see if natural selection were operating.” If that were the case, we should see an almost infinite number of “small changes,” not only at the fossil level, but also at the molecular level. And a credible and detailed model for macroevolution could be inferred. And that has never happened. Rather, what we do observe are “the small changes that we would expect to see if intelligent variation and selection were operating.” I refer you again to the example of intelligent protein engineering.
c) About geological processes: personally, I am not completely sure that they are absolutely unguided: I just don’t know. The fact is that, as far as we know, geological processes, and other similar processes (evolution of the universe, and so on) do not explicitly exhibit CSI (the fine tuning argument is about the whole universe, and not specific internal processes of it). So, the ID theory is not at present applicable to them. They can apparently be explained by laws of necessity, usually with only a few random components. The model is credible, and we can well accept it. Religious beliefs have nothing to do with that.
3) Existing computer models have in no way demonstrated either the “plausibility of unguided macroevolution” or the emergence of any CSI from unguided processes. Avida and similar are intellectual frauds. In case you have not noticed, all the recent work by Dembski and Marks is dedicated to that problem.
But it is possible, in principle, to give a demonstration that would falsify ID (and that again shows that ID is falsifiable). We are eagerly waiting to be falsified! But Avida? Please, be serious.
Show me a computer model where unplanned and unexpected CSI emerges from random noise on the basis of “spontaneous” self-selection, without the system having been planned in any way to select anything specifically, and we can discuss. After all, that’s what the Darwinist affirm has happened.
Jerry then writes:
[quoting Rib] “The question for jerry is this: Is he prepared to provide a real-time demonstration of guided macroevolution? If not, why the double standard?”
What a silly question. You are saying that we do not have a video tape of the designer in his/her lab preparing the new species that we have a double standard? ribczynski, you need to get a reality check. ID says that the formation of new species with novel complex functions is a mystery. We are not saying that there is proof that there is a designer but only that it is a very likely explanation for what happened. Come on; the double standard comment means you are really flailing.
Is such a thing as a designer possible. Certainly, no one doubts that within 50-100 years, engineering genomes to do completely novel things may be possible in labs such as those that exist at MIT. That my friend will be an example of intelligent design in action. If such a thing is possible in today’s world what is to say it was not possible in the past.
[quoting Rib] “If evolution is guided, why are there no saltations? Why does the designer always happen to choose the small changes that we would expect to see if natural selection were operating — the same small changes that allow us to deduce the nested hierarchy?”
Gould said the whole history of the fossil record was one of apparent saltations. That was why he developed his absurd fix for Darwinian processes called punctuated equilibrium. I suggest you read Gould and as suggested by other, his ideas on punctuated equilibrium. Everybody immediately just lapped up his ideas and it is now part of the evolutionary canon.
[quoting Rib] “If a direct demonstration of macroevolution is not possible, then what about the indirect evidence of the fossil record, comparative anatomy and molecular biology?”
The indirect evidence refutes a gradualistic approach which is why Gould proposed his theory. Comparative anatomy and molecular biology could have been the result of micro evolution once a population gene pool arose. ID believes and supports micro evolution. See my comment #88. The question is where did the original gene pool come from.
[quoting Rib] “Apart from their YEC brethren, IDers tend to accept the evidence for geologic processes operating over vast timescales, and they don’t dispute it when geologists contend that these processes were unguided. Why don’t they demand proof that these processes were unguided? Could it have anything to do with the fact that their religious beliefs conflict with unguided macroevolution, but not with unguided geology?”
You should study geology. There is evidence of both gradual and catastrophic forces having occurred in the past and operating today in the world. We can witness massive earth quakes, volcanos, tsunamis and rock slides, sedimentation and erosion before our eyes as well as plate tectonic movements, plate formation at the mid ocean ridges. All the pieces fit together and I am sure there will be adjustments in it over time. So all holds together but one thing geology has never done is form any complex specified information.
Now biology has nothing similar except for micro biology which we all accept and yet life has complex specified information forming over time and no known process that can do it. Nothing in the current world shows this tendency to form complex specified information. Geology produces complexity but it is not specified. That is why we can accept geology and not biology. One process leaves a host of forensic evidence on how the non specified complexity has formed, the other leaves no information on how the complex specified information has formed. In fact the geological evidence is extremely persuasive for ID. There are gradual processes working over time that can be observed in the current world for geology but none in biology except for micro evolution which does not produce complex specified information. There is no forensic evidence that micro evolution leads anywhere but to devolution which is the opposite of macro evolution.
[quoting Rib] “I ask them: In your view, what would count as sufficient empirical evidence for unguided macroevolution?”
How about some examples either in the fossil record or in the current world. None exist. Macro evolution has no empirical evidence behind it. It is not science, but an ideology. Why don’t you start presenting empirical evidence for macro evolution. If you could, you would be a Nobel prize winner.
Please, provide some evidence, not just the tired old clichés we see all the time.