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Video: Biologist Douglas Axe on challenges to Darwinian evolution

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79 Responses to Video: Biologist Douglas Axe on challenges to Darwinian evolution

  1. “Charles Darwin said (paraphrase), ‘If anyone could find anything that could not be had through a number of slight, successive, modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.’ Well that condition has been met time and time again. Basically every gene, every protein fold. There is nothing of significance that we can show that can be had in a gradualist way. It’s a mirage. None of it happens that way.
    - Doug Axe PhD.

    Here is the entire video with Dr. Axe:

    Nothing In Molecular Biology Is Gradual – Doug Axe PhD. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5347797/

  2. OT: PZ Myers favorite evolutionary mascot turns around and betrays him:

    Giant Squid (caught on camera): Mighty to Resist Speciation – March 26, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....70391.html

  3. Axe mentioned how people tend to simply accept their education without critique. Being a social scientist, I can only look at this debate on chemistry and biology from a layman’s point if view. What I can comment on is the danger of “democratic science.” What made me a skeptic of the Darwinian account (and others matters of pop science) to begin with is the vehement nature of Darwinist and the blind acceptance by laypeople. This debate has all the hallmarks of a political campaign, with all the vitriol (mainly one-sided) and mudslinging. Note to Darwinist (and some ID folk): when you resort to political tactics instead of sticking to the “hard” sciences, your stance is immediately diminished.

  4. Axe mentioned how people tend to simply accept their education without critique. Being a social scientist, I can only look at this debate on chemistry and biology from a layman’s point if view. What I can comment on is the danger of “democratic science.” What made me a skeptic of the Darwinian account (and others matters of pop science) to begin with is the vehement nature of Darwinist and the blind acceptance by laypeople. This debate has all the hallmarks of a political campaign, with all the vitriol (mainly one-sided) and mudslinging. Note to Darwinist (and some ID folk): when you resort to political tactics instead of sticking to the “hard” sciences, your stance is immediately diminished. You may win the uninformed to your side, but that’s about it.

  5. Of note to post #2:

    Fossil Finds Show Cambrian Explosion Getting More Explosive – May 2010
    Excerpt: Cephalopods, which include marine mollusks like squid, octopus, and cuttlefish, are now being reported in the Cambrian explosion fossils.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....n_exp.html

  6. Bornagain

    Please comment on the paper below, just published, which confirms the previous conclusions that most protein networks evolved through gene duplication and fractility.

    http://www.plosone.org/article.....ne.0058134

  7. If they evolved via gene duplication then they evolved by design.

  8. billmaz, perhaps the researchers of your cited reference,,,

    (Oct. 2012) Our results support the duplication-divergence model of evolution and indicate fractality and multiplicative growth as general properties of the PPI network structure and dynamics.
    http://www.plosone.org/article.....ne.0058134

    ,,, should get together with the researchers of this cited reference,,,

    Phylogenetic patterns of emergence of new genes support a model of frequent de novo evolution – 21 February 2013
    CONCLUSIONS:
    We suggest that the overall trends of gene emergence are more compatible with a de novo evolution model for orphan genes than a general duplication-divergence model. Hence de novo evolution of genes appears to have occurred continuously throughout evolutionary time and should therefore be considered as a general mechanism for the emergence of new gene functions.
    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1.....7/abstract

    ,,and work out a evolutionary ‘just so’ story that will be pleasing to both camps???

    note as to what the empirical evidence (not a model) actually says about this:

    “The likelihood of developing two binding sites in a protein complex would be the square of the probability of developing one: a double CCC (chloroquine complexity cluster), 10^20 times 10^20, which is 10^40. There have likely been fewer than 10^40 cells in the entire world in the past 4 billion years, so the odds are against a single event of this variety (just 2 binding sites being generated by accident) in the history of life. It is biologically unreasonable.”
    Michael J. Behe PhD. (from page 146 of his book “Edge of Evolution”)

  9. Bornagain,
    Your paper also suggests that an alternative reading frame of existing genes could have easily given rise to new genes. There is no reason why all of these mechanisms and more can’t be happening at the same time. If anything, taking together all of these mechanisms of gene evolution is an argument FOR evolution, in that it increases the possibilities of new genes being formed at all levels. I don’t buy Behe’s math. With the advent of new evidence of directed mutations you can’t just look at pure randomness and take it at face value.

  10. Well billmaz,,,

    I don’t buy Behe’s math.

    ,,,That’s a peculiar thing to say seeing as Darwinists, though claiming to the contrary, actually have no rigid mathematical basis:

    The equations of evolution – March 24, 2013
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

    Moreover, as to your appeal to mechanisms besides ‘pure randomness’:

    Michael Behe, The Edge of Evolution, pg. 162 Swine Flu, Viruses, and the Edge of Evolution
    “It’s critical to notice that no artificial limitations were placed on the kinds of mutations or processes the microorganisms could undergo in nature. Nothing–neither point mutation, deletion, insertion, gene duplication, transposition, genome duplication, self-organization nor any other process yet undiscovered–was of much use.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2....._edge.html

    Again I would like to emphasize, I’m not arguing Darwinism cannot make complex functional systems, the data on malaria, and the other examples, are a observation that it does not. In science observation beats theory all the time. So Professor (Richard) Dawkins can speculate about what he thinks Darwinian processes could do, but in nature Darwinian processes have not been shown to do anything in particular.
    Michael Behe – 46 minute mark of video lecture on ‘The Edge of Evolution’ for C-SPAN
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-361037

    But is you ‘don’t like Dr. Behe’s math’, perhaps this math will be more pleasing:

    Thou Shalt Not Put Evolutionary Theory to a Test – Douglas Axe – July 18, 2012
    Excerpt: “For example, McBride criticizes me for not mentioning genetic drift in my discussion of human origins, apparently without realizing that the result of Durrett and Schmidt rules drift out. Each and every specific genetic change needed to produce humans from apes would have to have conferred a significant selective advantage in order for humans to have appeared in the available time (i.e. the mutations cannot be ‘neutral’). Any aspect of the transition that requires two or more mutations to act in combination in order to increase fitness would take way too long (>100 million years).
    My challenge to McBride, and everyone else who believes the evolutionary story of human origins, is not to provide the list of mutations that did the trick, but rather a list of mutations that can do it. Otherwise they’re in the position of insisting that something is a scientific fact without having the faintest idea how it even could be.” Doug Axe PhD.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62351.html

    or perhaps if that math does not please you either, perhaps this empirical evidence will:

    Experimental Evolution in Fruit Flies (35 years of trying to force fruit flies to evolve in the laboratory fails, spectacularly) – October 2010
    Excerpt: “Despite decades of sustained selection in relatively small, sexually reproducing laboratory populations, selection did not lead to the fixation of newly arising unconditionally advantageous alleles.,,, “This research really upends the dominant paradigm about how species evolve,” said ecology and evolutionary biology professor Anthony Long, the primary investigator.
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....ruit_flies
    http://eebweb.arizona.edu/nach.....l_2010.pdf

    But if you insist that ‘directed mutations’ can surpass all these severe limits, then that obviously begs the question as to what the ultimate source of guidance is. i.e. if Darwinists give up ‘pure randomness’ as the ultimate source of creativity in the Darwinian scheme of things the the game is over for them!

  11. First of all, my dear Bornagain, just because pure randomness is not the driving force is not an argument either against evolution or for ID. I have already mentioned to you papers discussing other physical forces for directed mutations, including possibly quantum mechanics (remember the Inverse Quantum Zeno Effect?)

    Secondly, here Bill Maz: The Chaotic Paths of Evolution I discuss a paper in which an ancestral e.coli gene was created and placed in a “modern” e.coli. After only 500 generations, they mapped their genome and found that the ancestral gene had not mutated, but the “modern” genes that interact with the ancestral gene had mutated in order to adapt to the introduction of the ancestral gene and make the e.coli multiply even faster and be healthier than the pure modern e.coli. In other words, evolution had found a new pathway. The other papers in the blog also show how evolution is fractal and one-directional, in that once a path is taken other mutations ‘burn bridges’ so that you can’t go backwards, nor, sometimes, can you find a direct lineage. The evidence is burned.

  12. In other words, evolution had found a new pathway.

    Intelligent Design Evolution or blind watchmaker evolution?

  13. Well billmaz, so you are saying Darwinism isn’t random? If so what do you propose in its place, self organization or Intelligence. That’s basically all you got to choose from: i.e. chance, necessity, and/or Intelligence.,,, Good luck with that whole self organization thing, I think Kantian Naturalists can give you some notes on that whole futile line of thought. :) Moreover, finding a ancestral gene to be more robust than a derived gene is not at all unexpected in a genetic entropy view of things, but is unexpected from a ‘vertical evolution’ view of things, where things supposedly get better and better.

    Notes to that effect:

    The Paradox of the “Ancient” (250 Million Year Old) Bacterium Which Contains “Modern” Protein-Coding Genes:
    “Almost without exception, bacteria isolated from ancient material have proven to closely resemble modern bacteria at both morphological and molecular levels.” Heather Maughan*, C. William Birky Jr., Wayne L. Nicholson, William D. Rosenzweig§ and Russell H. Vreeland ;
    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/...../19/9/1637

    Dr. Cano’s work, which preceded Dr. Vreeland’s work, on ancient bacteria came in for intense scrutiny since it did not conform to Darwinian predictions, and since people found it hard to believe you could revive something that was millions of years old. Yet Dr. Cano has been vindicated:

    “After the onslaught of publicity and worldwide attention (and scrutiny) after the publication of our discovery in Science, there have been, as expected, a considerable number of challenges to our claims, but in this case, the scientific method has smiled on us. There have been at least three independent verifications of the isolation of a living microorganism from amber.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-357693

    In reply to a personal e-mail from myself asking about genetic entropy, Dr. Cano commented on the ‘Fitness Test’ I had asked him about:

    Dr. Cano stated: “We performed such a test, a long time ago, using a panel of substrates (the old gram positive biolog panel) on B. sphaericus. From the results we surmised that the putative “ancient” B. sphaericus isolate was capable of utilizing a broader scope of substrates. Additionally, we looked at the fatty acid profile and here, again, the profiles were similar but more diverse in the amber isolate.”:
    Fitness test which compared ancient bacteria to its modern day descendants, RJ Cano and MK Borucki

    Thus, the most solid evidence available for the most ancient DNA scientists are able to find does not support evolution happening on the molecular level of bacteria. In fact, according to the fitness test of Dr. Cano, the change witnessed in bacteria conforms to the exact opposite, Genetic Entropy; a loss of functional information/complexity, since fewer substrates and fatty acids are utilized by the modern strains. Considering the intricate level of protein machinery it takes to utilize individual molecules within a substrate, we are talking an impressive loss of protein complexity, and thus loss of functional information, from the ancient amber sealed bacteria.

    This following experiment is very interesting in how it confirmed the preceding observation of genetic entropy for modern bacteria:

    Giving Ancient Life Another Chance to Evolve: Scientists Place 500-Million-Year-Old Gene in Modern Organism – July 11, 2012
    Excerpt: After achieving the difficult task of placing the ancient gene in the correct chromosomal order and position in place of the modern gene within E. coli, Kaçar produced eight identical bacterial strains and allowed “ancient life” to re-evolve. This chimeric bacteria composed of both modern and ancient genes survived, but grew about two times slower than its counterpart composed of only modern genes.
    “The altered organism wasn’t as healthy or fit as its modern-day version, at least initially,” said Gaucher, “and this created a perfect scenario that would allow the altered organism to adapt and become more fit as it accumulated mutations with each passing day.”
    The growth rate eventually increased and, after the first 500 generations, the scientists sequenced the genomes of all eight lineages to determine how the bacteria adapted. Not only did the fitness levels increase to nearly modern-day levels, but also some of the altered lineages actually became healthier than their modern counterpart.
    When the researchers looked closer, they noticed that every EF-Tu gene did not accumulate mutations. Instead, the modern proteins that interact with the ancient EF-Tu inside of the bacteria had mutated and these mutations were responsible for the rapid adaptation that increased the bacteria’s fitness. In short, the ancient gene has not yet mutated to become more similar to its modern form, but rather, the bacteria found a new evolutionary trajectory to adapt.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....100726.htm

    Now the burning question that Darwinists will never ask is, of course, why are the modern genes adjusting to the information that the ancient 500 million year old gene had provided to the bacteria, to increase the fitness of the bacteria, instead of the other way around??? This evidence clearly is evidence of Genetic Entropy (deterioration) of the genes of modern bacteria since the modern strains of bacteria only ‘regained’ fitness once ‘non-deteriorated’ ancient genetic information was added to the genome of the bacteria.

  14. After only 500 generations, they mapped their genome and found that the ancestral gene had not mutated, but the “modern” genes that interact with the ancestral gene had mutated in order to adapt to the introduction of the ancestral gene and make the e.coli multiply even faster and be healthier than the pure modern e.coli. In other words, evolution had found a new pathway.

    That’s pretty cool, billmaz, but call us when the e. coli becomes something other than e. coli

  15. Bateman @3:

    Well said.

    —–

    Billmaz @11:

    Sounds like an interesting case. So it sounds like the loss of the ancestral gene had initially resulted in a reduction in fitness, which was then perhaps to some level regained when the ancestral gene was reintroduced? That sounds somewhat similar to the kinds of changes that occur with insecticide and bacterial resistance when the surviving population is re-exposed to the ancestral population. Often the populations that survive a particular abrupt insecticide or anti-bacterial event (and therefore are allegedly “fitter” as a result of their survival) are in fact less fit than the ancestral population when the particular stressor is removed and the population is re-exposed to the broader environment.

  16. “This evidence clearly is evidence of Genetic Entropy (deterioration) of the genes of modern bacteria since the modern strains of bacteria only ‘regained’ fitness once ‘non-deteriorated’ ancient genetic information was added to the genome of the bacteria.”

    I don’t see why you jump to that conclusion. Nowhere does it say that the ancient gene had some superior ability which was lost or “deteriorated.” It was just different, adapted to the environment that existed at the ancient time. Another explanation for the findings may be that it was “easier” for evolution to mutate the modern genes to adapt to the ancient one than the other way around. The point is that they did mutate in a different pathway and that there are many different paths for evolution to take. ID doesn’t satisfactorily explain why there are so many paths that can lead to similar levels of adaptability. Evolution does.

    In terms of a self-organizing universe, I don’t think there is any doubt that that is what we’re living in. The question is how much and in what way does it apply to biology and evolution.

  17. Billmaz & Bornagain77
    Isn’t the successful introduction of new (or ancient) genes a mystery? How is it that the cell can regulate this? There is no corresponding epigenome in place. How can the cell organize itself given the ‘intruders’? Why don’t things just fall apart?

    ‘The essence of cellular life is regulation: The cell controls how much and what kinds of chemicals it makes; when it loses control, it dies’

    , Michael Behe, Darwin’s black box, p.191.
    The fact that the cell can cope with these ‘new genes’ (or mutated genes) is actually proof of something else: the cell as a whole regulates its parts from above.

  18. Box,

    Your point is a good one. Among the modern genes that had to mutate there may very well have been regulatory genes, I don’t know. Also we don’t know which parts of the ancient gene were different from the modern one. It may be that the regulatory segments were retained.

  19. BillMazz,

    It seems illogical to contemplate the possibility that regulatory genes can explain much, because they cannot account for / regulate the epigenome. It cannot be that newly introduced genes regulate themselves by creating a fitting epigenome.
    DNA is not regulating the epigenome; it’s the other way around. If it’s both ways I’m not sure what we are talking about.

  20. ‘In terms of a self-organizing universe,….’

    Doesn’t self-organisation predicate intelligence? Can you deny that? Or are you a pantheist?

  21. Axel,

    I have no problem with invoking a god for the creation of the laws of physics. I just don’t see good evidence of a god who constantly insert himself into the daily accounts of people, evolution, etc. However, I can accept, if the evidence is there, a force of “consciousness,” as in quantum theory, which forms a part of the universe. How this consciousness expresses itself is another question.

  22. Well, that makes sense, even your acceptance of a diffuse kind of ‘consciousness’ without personal intervention, insofar as this is a level, our basic-assumption level, at which our will to believe/know plays a major role.

    We are all wishful thinkers in that sense. It happens – and why would it not? – that God made the world to fit the beliefs He has inspired in us; and, apart from the increasing amount of scientific evidence (I believe, ‘proof’) we generally believe we see it confirmed all the time all around us, in one way or another.

    That this too can be wishful thinking is demonstrated by the multiple ways we have of effectively repudiating our faith, however temporarily, when the going gets tough.

    I mean, frankly, to me and I believe, to many Christians we soon come to know with irrefragable certainty that the basic teachings of our catechism are, in fact, true. How many people do we know who blame the God they had come to love, for the sins of his institutional church? I did so myself in my youth.

  23. But then, why should the ultimate truth not be something to be wished for, something to be hoped for, beautiful and inspiring? The notion that the truth is something cold, hard neutral, objective and unambiguous, is possibly scientism’s most risible claim.

    The whole of Christ’s gospel teachings predicate voluntarism. We know what we want to, and will be judged on our heart, not our head.

  24. semi related: Dr. John Lennox discusses the importance of attending the Westminster Conference on Science & Faith – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOPp47aBaqw

    Oxford University professor and world renowned scientist, speaker, author, and debater Dr. John Lennox discusses the importance of attending the Westminster Conference on Science & Faith, one of the world’s largest symposia on science and faith, this year being held at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glenn Mills, PA (Greater Philadelphia), April 5-6, 2013, sponsored by the Pensmore Foundation.
    http://www.WCOSAF.com

  25. Must have a look. Thanks. And thank goodness for such an initiative. Sounds a brilliant idea.

  26. I hope you’re right Axel, for all our sakes.

  27. Axel, If I die and find out there is only oblivion, I’ll be very upset.

  28. OT: New York, NY, March 26, 2013 – Week four of HISTORY’s THE BIBLE series continues to deliver blockbuster ratings for the network. THE BIBLE commanded HISTORY as #1 in all of television from 8-10pm, with 10.3 million total viewers. In addition, the series garnered 3.9 million Adults 25-54 and 3.4 million Adults 18-49.

    Upcoming on THE BIBLE:

    Sunday, March 31 (8:00pm-10:00pm ET) “Passion” – SERIES FINALE

    Easter Sunday episodes will show the crucifixion and the Resurrection of Jesus through Ascension, Pentecost and Revelation. During this last episode, Peter denies Jesus and Judas hangs himself; the crowd clamors for Jesus’ death; Jesus is crucified, but when Mary Magdalene goes to his tomb, a figure walks towards her – he is back; Jesus commissions the disciples to “go and preach to all creation,” but their godly mission meets with hatred and even death; Paul has a vision and experiences a miraculous change of faith on a journey to Damascus; John receives a revelation – Jesus is coming back, and all who keep the faith will be rewarded.
    http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.c.....Numbers%29

    of note:

    Mark Burnett says ‘weird things happened’ on ‘The Bible’ set by Grady Smith
    “The hand of God was on this…. the edit came together perfectly, the actors came together perfectly, it just comes to life.” But Burnett wasn’t just speaking about how well the practicalities of production had gone. “Weird things happened during filming,” he said. “Everybody would look at each other like, “Whoa.”,,,
    A mighty desert wind
    “There’s a scene with Jesus and Nicodemus, when Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the night. It’s a very still night, not a breath of wind, and we’re on the edge of the Sahara desert in a palm grove in an oasis… Jesus says, ‘The Holy Spirit is like the wind.’ At that moment, a wind, like as if a 747 was taking off, blew his hair, almost blew the set over and sustained for 20 seconds across the desert, and the actors didn’t break — they kept going. And everything stopped. Everyone just looked at everyone like, ‘What just happened?’”,,
    http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/03.....bible-set/

    of note:

    The Contradiction of the Cross
    “On the cross, our false dependencies are revealed. On the cross, our illusions are killed off. On the cross, our small self dies so that the true self, the God-given self, can emerge. On the cross, we give up the fantasy that we are in control, and the death of this fantasy is central to acceptance. The cross is, above all, a place of powerlessness. Here is the final proof that our own feeble powers can no more alter life’s trajectory than a magnet can pull down the moon. Here is the death of the ego, of the self that insists on being in charge, the self that continually tries to impose its own idea of order and righteousness on the world.
    The cross is a place of contradiction. For the powerlessness of the cross, if fully embraced, takes us to a place of power. This is the great mystery at the heart of the Christian faith, from Jesus to Martin Luther King Jr., the mystery of the power of powerlessness. As long as I am preoccupied with the marshaling of my own feeble powers, there will be no way for God’s power to flow through me. As long as I am getting in my own way, I cannot live in the power of God’s way.”
    – Parker Palmer, The Promise of Paradox, Pg 46-47

  29. I suspect you’re a Christian at heart, Bill, (or at least, a Good Samaritan) so I feel comfortable to bring up a new ‘take’ on Maurice chevalier’s quip, when asked what he thought of old age: ‘I prefer it to the alternative.’

    Our lives are like the closing of jaws on love or malice. It would not always be easy to hazard the choice others make, sometimes our own, maybe: a clergyman could be a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’, a used-car salesman, a saint (if not, perhaps, of the canonisabled variety). But I could see an unrepentant malefactor preferring oblivion to ‘the alternative’!

  30. There are no challenges to Darwinian evolution. It’s a fact, like gravity and global warming. There are merely unbelievers.

    Convert or suffer.

  31. 31

    As a YEC its fine to see these criticisms of evolution but they still grasp at obscure points of DNA or this or that.
    Evolutionary biology is saying that creatures body plans, inside and out, changed from a original bug/fish into the glory we now live with or was around in the past.
    REALLY? Thats incredible.!
    What could do such violence to one body plan and such beauty of complexity in ,aking the new one.
    MUTATIONS? REALLY!
    So many doing so much so magnificently. !
    Hard to believe eh!?

    it should be up to evolutionists to prove their case!
    Not as Darwin said for critics to prove it couldn’t happen.
    Chuck doesn’t understand scientific evidence needed for unlikely hypothesis.

  32. OT: Quantum Mechanics – Double Slit Experiment (Prof. Anton Zeilinger) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayvbKafw2g0

  33. Billmaz, (9)

    Bornagain,
    Your paper also suggests that an alternative reading frame of existing genes could have easily given rise to new genes. There is no reason why all of these mechanisms and more can’t be happening at the same time. If anything, taking together all of these mechanisms of gene evolution is an argument FOR evolution, in that it increases the possibilities of new genes being formed at all levels.

    I don’t know Billmaz.. you post “conclusions” that genes in general arose from duplication and divergence… and then Bornagain77 shows you even more recent “conclusions” that a substantial portion of genes arose de novo and not from duplication-divergence.

    Then you personally conclude that such contradictions are even more evidence for evolution, because it just has more options to choose from. Nothing about that seems a little off to you?

    I haven’t read the full study you cited, but in the paper Bornagain77 linked to:
    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1.....7/abstract
    …the conclusions are totally Ad-hoc and totally unpredicted from a neo-darwinian point of view. The widespread presence of orphan genes simply leaves evolutionists no other option but to conclude the functional sequences de-novo “poofed” into existence in a very short period of time since divergence from last common ancestor.

    It’s important to note that there is not one shred of evidence that this can possibly happen. I’ve not even read one workable hypothesis about how such a large amount of de novo function can be generated in the evolutionary blink of an eye. It’s simply asserted to be the only explanation if evolution is true. So.. personally I wouldn’t advertise such a conclusion as being more evidence for the mechanism.

  34. Evolution is simply the only scientific hypothesis available, lifepsy. I can’t wait for the day when a better scientific hypothesis comes about. God, being unprovable, simply can’t be the default.

  35. According to the stated definition of Intelligent Design, God is NOT the default. It is only after eliminating change and necessity. In fact, God is not explicitly named; merely intelligence. As for God being unprovable: that requires denial of a lot of the current cosmological, biological and philosophical data.

    I suspect that most Darwinists today share the same mindset as Thomas Nagel:

    I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. [Emphasis mine]

  36. billmaz @34:

    Evolution is simply the only scientific hypothesis available, lifepsy.

    Except for design of course.

    God, being unprovable, simply can’t be the default.

    Design does not entail God, so we need to be careful to not conflate the two.

    It is ironic, though, that you think evolution should be the default, since its larger claims are also unproven and, indeed, run counter to the evidence we do have.

  37. billmaz,

    Unguided evolution can’t muster a testable hypothesis, so what, exactly, do you mean when you say:

    Evolution is simply the only scientific hypothesis available?

  38. I don’t want to get into an argument about religion.

  39. Then why do you worship DNA as if it’s some kind of all-powerful body-plan-transforming thing?

  40. billmaz at 34

    God, being unprovable, simply can’t be the default.

    billmaz at 38

    I don’t want to get into an argument about religion.

    too late:

    Quantum Evidence for a Theistic Universe

    “Physics is the only real science. The rest are just stamp collecting.”
    – Ernest Rutherford

    From the best scientific evidence we now have, from multiple intersecting lines of evidence, we now have very good reason to believe that the entire universe came instantaneously into origination at the Big Bang. Not only was all mass-energy brought into being, but space-time itself was also instantaneously brought into being at the Big Bang!!!

    “Every solution to the equations of general relativity guarantees the existence of a singular boundary for space and time in the past.”
    (Hawking, Penrose, Ellis) – 1970

    “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.” – (Paper announced at Hawking’s 70th birthday party)
    Cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts University in Boston – January 2012
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....beginning/

    Thus it logically follows that whatever brought the universe into being had to be transcendent of space-time, mass-energy. Yet the only thing that we know of that is completely transcendent of space-time, matter-energy is information. Thus the question becomes did information bring space-time, mass-energy into being?,,, simple enough question, but how do we prove it? It turns out that quantum teleportation breakthroughs have shed light directly on this question!,,, Here are a few experiments establishing the ‘beyond space and time’ ‘information theoretic’ origin, and sustaining, of this universe,;

    Quantum Mechanics has now been extended by Anton Zeilinger, and team, to falsify local realism (reductive materialism) without even using quantum entanglement to do it. i.e. one must now appeal to a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause to explain the continued existence of photons within spacetime:

    ‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....111942.htm

    The following experiments demonstrate that energy and mass reduce to quantum information;

    How Teleportation Will Work -
    Excerpt: In 1993, the idea of teleportation moved out of the realm of science fiction and into the world of theoretical possibility. It was then that physicist Charles Bennett and a team of researchers at IBM confirmed that quantum teleportation was possible, but only if the original object being teleported was destroyed. — As predicted, the original photon no longer existed once the replica was made.
    http://science.howstuffworks.c.....ation1.htm

    Quantum Teleportation – IBM Research Page
    Excerpt: “it would destroy the original (photon) in the process,,”
    http://www.research.ibm.com/qu.....portation/

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) — Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a (photon) qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport.
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    ,,,The following articles show that even atoms are subject to ‘instantaneous’ teleportation:,,,

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,,
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistrywo.....ammeup.asp

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....1769/posts

    ,,,These following experiments show that the teleportation of information is indeed ‘instantaneous’, thus demonstrating transcendence, and even dominion, of space and time;,,,

    Light and Quantum Entanglement Reflect Some Characteristics Of God – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4102182/

    Researchers Succeed in Quantum Teleportation of Light Waves – April 2011
    Excerpt: In this experiment, researchers in Australia and Japan were able to transfer quantum information from one place to another without having to physically move it. It was destroyed in one place and instantly resurrected in another, “alive” again and unchanged. This is a major advance, as previous teleportation experiments were either very slow or caused some information to be lost.
    http://www.popsci.com/technolo.....-computing

  41. Here is another experiment which demonstrated quantum information’s dominion over space and time (specifically time);

    Physicists describe method to observe timelike entanglement – January 2011
    Excerpt: In “ordinary” quantum entanglement, two particles possess properties that are inherently linked with each other, even though the particles may be spatially separated by a large distance. Now, physicists S. Jay Olson and Timothy C. Ralph from the University of Queensland have shown that it’s possible to create entanglement between regions of spacetime that are separated in time but not in space, and then to convert the timelike entanglement into normal spacelike entanglement. They also discuss the possibility of using this timelike entanglement from the quantum vacuum for a process they call “teleportation in time.” “To me, the exciting aspect of this result (that entanglement exists between the future and past) is that it is quite a general property of nature and opens the door to new creativity, since we know that entanglement can be viewed as a resource for quantum technology,” Olson told PhysOrg.com.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....ement.html

    and this experiment:

    Here’s a variation of Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment, which highlights quantum information’s transcendence of time so as to effect ‘spooky action into the past’;

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.

    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    ,,,Whereas these following experiment, in conjunction with ‘perfect’ teleportation experiments, shows that quantum information is ‘conserved’,,,

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem. A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    Quantum no-deleting theorem
    Excerpt: A stronger version of the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem provide permanence to quantum information. To create a copy one must import the information from some part of the universe and to delete a state one needs to export it to another part of the universe where it will continue to exist.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....onsequence

    ,,,Moreover, when the quantum wave state (superposition) of a photon, which is defined as a infinite dimensional state which can be encoded with infinite information, collapses to its particle state, the collapsed state yields only a single bit of information:,,,

    Wave function
    Excerpt “wave functions form an abstract vector space”,,, This vector space is infinite-dimensional, because there is no finite set of functions which can be added together in various combinations to create every possible function.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.....ctor_space

    Single photons to soak up data:
    Excerpt: the orbital angular momentum of a photon can take on an infinite number of values. Since a photon can also exist in a superposition of these states, it could – in principle – be encoded with an infinite amount of information.
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/7201

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

    Zeilinger’s principle
    The principle that any elementary system carries just one bit of information. This principle was put forward by the Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger in 1999 and subsequently developed by him to derive several aspects of quantum mechanics.
    http://science.jrank.org/pages.....z17a7f88PM

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.” Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:

    ,,,moreover, encoded information, such as we find encoded in computers, and yes, such as we find encoded in DNA, is found to be a subset of ‘conserved’ quantum information:,,,

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 2011
    Excerpt: No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy.
    Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

  42. 42
    William J Murray

    billmaz,

    You might ask yourself a few questions.

    Why do they call it “Natural” Selection, when they claim no metric exists which can discern if the selection process is, in fact, “natural” and not artificial (intelligently orchestrated, like breeding programs)?

    Why do they call it “Random” Mutation, when they claim no metric exists that can vet the nature of the necessary mutations as indeed “random” and not artificial (intelligently orchestrated)?

    Why are the principle features of the evolutionary hypothesis not simply termed “heritable change” and “survival differential”, instead of loading the hypothesis with terms that exclude the possibility of the involvement of intelligence – i.e., “Natural” Selection and “Random” Mutation? I don’t know of anyone that would quibble over a theory that utilized the terms “heritable change” and “survival differential”.

    Darwinistic evolutionary theory is a religious argument dressed up as if it were a scientific theory.

  43. ,,,It is important to note that the following experiment actually encoded information into a photon while it was in its quantum wave state, thus destroying the notion, held by many, that the wave function was not ‘physically real’ but was merely ‘abstract’. i.e. How can information possibly be encoded into something that is not physically real but merely abstract?,,,

    Ultra-Dense Optical Storage – on One Photon
    Excerpt: Researchers at the University of Rochester have made an optics breakthrough that allows them to encode an entire image’s worth of data into a photon, slow the image down for storage, and then retrieve the image intact.
    http://www.physorg.com/news88439430.html

    Information In Photon – Robert W. Boyd – slides from presentation
    http://www.quantumphotonics.uo.....-InPho.pdf

    Information in a Photon – Robert W. Boyd – 2010
    Excerpt: By its conventional definition, a photon is one unit of excitation of a mode of the electromagnetic field. The modes of the electromagnetic field constitute a countably infinite set of basis functions, and in this sense the amount of information that can be impressed onto an individual photon is unlimited.
    http://www.pqeconference.com/p.....td/013.pdf

    Here is a more rigorous measurement of the wave function which establishes it as ‘physically real’;

    Direct measurement of the quantum wavefunction – June 2011
    Excerpt: The wavefunction is the complex distribution used to completely describe a quantum system, and is central to quantum theory. But despite its fundamental role, it is typically introduced as an abstract element of the theory with no explicit definition.,,, Here we show that the wavefunction can be measured directly by the sequential measurement of two complementary variables of the system. The crux of our method is that the first measurement is performed in a gentle way through weak measurement so as not to invalidate the second. The result is that the real and imaginary components of the wavefunction appear directly on our measurement apparatus. We give an experimental example by directly measuring the transverse spatial wavefunction of a single photon, a task not previously realized by any method.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....10120.html

    ,,,The following paper mathematically corroborated the preceding experiment and cleaned up some pretty nasty probabilistic incongruities that arose from a purely statistical interpretation, i.e. it seems that stacking a ‘random infinity’, (parallel universes to explain quantum wave collapse), on top of another ‘random infinity’, to explain quantum entanglement, leads to irreconcilable mathematical absurdities within quantum mechanics:,,,

    Quantum Theory’s ‘Wavefunction’ Found to Be Real Physical Entity: Scientific American – November 2011
    Excerpt: David Wallace, a philosopher of physics at the University of Oxford, UK, says that the theorem is the most important result in the foundations of quantum mechanics that he has seen in his 15-year professional career. “This strips away obscurity and shows you can’t have an interpretation of a quantum (wave) state as probabilistic,” he says.
    http://www.scientificamerican......vefunction

    The quantum (wave) state cannot be interpreted statistically – November 2011
    http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1111.3328

    Moreover:

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.
    Mathematically (and mind-bogglingly), these constraints define an 80-dimensional object. The testable hidden influence inequality is the boundary of the shadow this 80-dimensional shape casts in 44 dimensions. The researchers showed that quantum predictions can lie outside this boundary, which means they are going against one of the assumptions. Outside the boundary, either the influences can’t stay hidden, or they must have infinite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

    ,,,The following logical deduction and evidence shows that consciousness precedes the collapse of the ‘infinite information’ of the quantum wave state to the single bit of the ‘uncertain’ particle state,,,

    The argument for God from consciousness can be framed like this:
    1. Consciousness either precedes all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities; Zeno Quantum Effect):
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”
    Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”; Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.

    ,,,Wigner stated this in regards to his Nobel Prize winning work on Quantum Symmetries,,,

    Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: To express this basic experience in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric. The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using another clock, perhaps being left-handed), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another.
    http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_.....io/wb1.htm

    ,,,i.e. In the experiment the ‘world’ (i.e. the universe) does not have a ‘privileged center’. Yet strangely, the conscious observer does exhibit a ‘privileged center’. This is since the ‘matrix’, which determines which vector will be used to describe the particle in the experiment, is ‘observer-centric’ in its origination! Thus explaining Wigner’s dramatic statement, “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”,,,

    Now, I find the preceding to be absolutely fascinating! A photon, in its quantum wave state, is found to be mathematically defined as a ‘infinite-dimensional’ state, which ‘requires an infinite amount of information’ to describe it properly, can be encoded with information in its ‘infinite dimensional’ state, and this ‘infinite dimensional’ photon is found to collapse, instantaneously, and thus ‘non-locally’, to just a ’1 or 0’ state, out of a infinite number of possibilities that the photon could have collapsed to instead! Moreover, consciousness is found to precede the collapse of the wavefunction to its particle state. Now my question to materialistic atheists is this, “Exactly what ’cause’ has been postulated throughout history to be completely independent of any space-time constraints, as well as possessing infinite knowledge, so as to be the ‘sufficient cause’ to explain what we see in the quantum wave collapse of a photon???

    John 1:1-5
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

    ,,,In my personal opinion, even though not hashed out in exhaustive detail yet, all this evidence is about as sweet as it can get in experimental science as to providing proof that Almighty God created and sustains this universe.,,,

  44. Billmaz said

    In terms of a self-organizing universe, I don’t think there is any doubt that that is what we’re living in. The question is how much and in what way does it apply to biology and evolution.

    He also said:

    I don’t want to get into an argument about religion.

    LOL!

  45. Lizzie has a post about what Axe says. She writes:

    One huge difference is that biological “designs” are self-reproducing organisms, and so far human designs are resolutely non-self-reproducing.

    1- That reproduction part is the very thing your position cannot explain

    2- Computer programs do self-reproduce. And an automated factory line was used in Darwin’s Ghost as an example of reproduction with variation

    Kind of a bad start there, Lizzie.

  46. Of note, I find it incredible that since nothing in science could possibly be provable without God (presuppositional apologetics), then why in blue blazes would anyone dare to think that the advance of science will not strongly lead us in a direction towards the truth of God?

    The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 debate available on the site
    Excerpt: The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.,,,
    http://theresurgence.com/2012/.....-god-exist

    Random Chaos vs. Uniformity Of Nature – Presuppositional Apologetics – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6853139

    Epistemology – Why Should The Human Mind Even Be Able To Comprehend Reality? – Stephen Meyer – video – (Notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/32145998

    In his debate with him, Dr Craig states that Dr. Rosenberg blurs together Epistemological Naturalism: which holds that science is the only source of knowledge and, Metaphysical Naturalism: which holds that only physical things exist

    As to, Epistemological Naturalism, which holds that science is the only source of knowledge, Dr. Craig states it is a false theory of knowledge since,,,

    a). it is overly restrictive
    and
    b) it is self refuting

    Moreover Dr Craig states, epistemological naturalism does not imply metaphysical naturalism.,, In fact a Empistemological Naturalist can and should be a Theist, according to Dr. Craig, because Metaphysical Naturalism is reducto ad absurdum on (at least) these eight following points:

    1. The argument from the intentionality (aboutness) of mental states implies non-physical minds (dualism), which is incompatible with naturalism
    2. The existence of meaning in language is incompatible with naturalism, Rosenberg even says that all the sentences in his own book are meaningless
    3. The existence of truth is incompatible with naturalism
    4. The argument from moral praise and blame is incompatible with naturalism
    5. Libertarian freedom (free will) is incompatible with naturalism 6. Purpose is incompatible with naturalism
    7. The enduring concept of self is incompatible with naturalism
    8. The experience of first-person subjectivity (“I”) is incompatible with naturalism

    I strongly suggest watching Dr. Craig’s presentation, that I have linked, to get a full feel for just how insane the metaphysical naturalist’s position actually is.

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    music:

    Red – Breathe Into Me
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH-k_6tU9Wc

  47. billmaz

    Sorry for the LOL above, but I could not resist. You seem to be bandying about the term self-organizing without realizing that you are talking about a religious idea. The reason is this. Anything that is self-organinzing by purely chemical or natural affinity can not add to the amount of information or meaning. It can only do what it is programmed to do. An increase in organization by purely mechanical ( natural forces which must always react with the same probability even if they are chaotic in nature ) is NOT a net increase in information. Increase in information ( like DNA codes for example ) implies input of intelligence.

    To throw about the term “self-organizing” to mean something present in the universe which creates new information de novo, is to insist that some kind of intelligence is behind the design.

    Welcome to the ID community billmaz.

  48. Lizzie sez:

    Seriously, Douglas, you are surely not so ignorant of evolutionary theory that you think that Darwin “employed” (proposed?) a “a chance process”? And, if so, what on earth do you mean by “chance”?

    Just count how many times the word “chance” appears in “On The Origin of Soecies” and check the context. Then there is Mayr, in “What Evolution Is”- he states the variation is entirely by chance- ie happenstance.

    She goes on:

    In fact we know the opposite – we know that, using precisely the mechanism that Darwin proposed, we can generate highly complex and functional pieces of engineering, so much so that we often use the Darwinian algorithm instead of human beings to solve difficult and complex problems.

    Bald assertion, Lizzie. And the algorithms we use are NOT darwinian. You just have no clue and it shows.

    The algorithms we use are goal oriented- ie DESIGNED to solve problems. When humans design something to do something, and it does, then it does so by design.

    As your own Allan Miller said- evolutionism is more just a stumble, not an algorithm.

    Lizzie just doesn’t give a damn about reality and chooses to try to alter it to suit her beliefs.

    Nice job Liz- did you think we wouldn’t notice? Really?

  49. Lizzie:

    It doesn’t really matter whether we call the putative designer “God” or not – the fact remains that “design” doesn’t function as a default.

    Great another evo who doesn’t know the definition of the word “default”. Design is NOT the default Lizzie. The design inference is reached via active consideration of alternative explanations.

    If IDists want to propose that biological things were designed, then they need a positive hypothesis – we all do, it’s how science works.

    Unguided evolution doesn’t have a testable hypothesis, Lizzie. OTOH IDists have produced several for ID.

    So please, stop with your nonsensical grandstanding.

  50. Lizzie @48 via Joe:

    Seriously, Douglas, you are surely not so ignorant of evolutionary theory that you think that Darwin “employed” (proposed?) a “a chance process”?

    Of course he did. That’s all you’ve got. Oh, he dressed it up with fancy language that often tricks people who aren’t able to see beneath the rhetoric, but it is still chance. We already know that self-organization theories cannot account for the complex specified information found in biology. So chance is all you’ve got left.

    What’s funny is that so many evolutionists think that Darwin’s ‘mechanism’ is actually some kind of mechanism. It isn’t. It is just chance over time. They view natural selection as some nearly-magical force that leads evolution forward from one burst of creativity to the next. But natural selection isn’t a force at all — it is just a label applied to the result of what are essentially chance processes.

    We start out with some kind of chance change — say a mutation in a nucleotide. Then we add in a whole bunch more chance: whether the organism gets enough food, whether there are lots of other organisms competing in the same niche, whether the predators happened along that day or not, whether a flood came or a hurricane blew or a tornado whipped by, whether the climate abruptly changed, whether an asteroid hit the earth and killed creatures off, and on and on. Multiply all this chance over and over again for millennia. That is the essence of evolutionary theory. It is all chance.

    And for the committed materialist, we can expand that to include the universe, the origin of life, and everything. All of reality is just a long series of accidental particle collisions. That is the essence of the materialist worldview.

  51. 51

    Eric, supposed we defined natural selection as the tendency for organisms to die in unsuitable environments, such as too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, food scarcity, etc.. It seems possible to introduce a necessity mechanism this way, albeit a sketchy one, into the chance equation. I’ve always understood NS to be such a necessity mechanism. Not that I think it’s sufficient for hill climbing (adding grand complexity), but at least its not strictly random with respect to its result.

    Of course, the problem with any definition of natural selection is, at least in part, this: whether an organism lives or dies has utterly more to do with the organism itself than its environment. In other words the ability for an organism to survive and reproduce has far more to do with the organism than with the environment.

    BTW I read your article, A Good Tautology is Hard to Avoid, and enjoyed it. You appear to make a somewhat similar point to my second paragraph above:

    “To be sure, natural selection’s inability to violate well-established natural laws is a welcome admission, but Wilkins implies that this is a property of natural selection itself. This is like saying that archeology rules out violations of physics. No it doesn’t; physics does. Natural selection cannot set the parameters of genetics or molecular biology or physics; it can only be bound by them. Ultimately, Wilkins’ statement is probably an example of attributing much more explanatory power to natural selection than it really has.”

    It doesn’t seem that natural selection can be defined in such a way that it’s not reliant on how an organism is internally configured to survive and reproduce, which makes the “natural” part of NS appear suspicious.

  52. Since the speed of light is absolute, its proper reference frame must be transcendental. In fact, isn’t non-locality, by definition, transcendental, Philip?

  53. ‘Evolution is simply the only scientific hypothesis available, lifepsy. I can’t wait for the day when a better scientific hypothesis comes about.’

    But, Bill, no hypothesis of evolution can substitute for a creator. Some agency created everything we see out of nothing. And it sounds like the agency behind the Big Bang.

    Surely, you can see the sense of G K Chesterton’s remark:

    “It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into anything.”

  54. 54

    billmaz @34,

    “Evolution is simply the only scientific hypothesis available, lifepsy. I can’t wait for the day when a better scientific hypothesis comes about. God, being unprovable, simply can’t be the default.”

    If you define a scientific hypothesis as one that can posit only chance and necessity as allowable causes for observed effects then, ironically, you’ve disallowed an entire category of causal phenomena, namely agency, while selecting chance and necessity, not “god”, as the default explanation.

  55. Science has rules, which include a hypothesis that can explain all available evidence, predictions which arise from such a hypothesis and proposed experiments to test those predictions which can be repeated by others. To date ID does not meet those criteria, that’s why it is still not considered part of science.

    Consciousness as a force, however, IS considered to be part of science because it has been proven experimentally to be part of quantum mechanics.

    If you want to equate “consciousness” with God, that’s fine with me.

    In order to prove ID, you still have to prove by the above scientific criteria how consciousness “guides” the development of species. Stating the inadequacies of evolutionary theory is not enough to prove anything, simply to get people thinking, which is fine. ID may eventually turn out to be true on some cosmic scale, but at this point it is still too early in its development, it is incomplete, inadequate and unscientific.

    Unless, of course, you don’t want to follow the rules of science, in which case deus ex machina is perfectly fine, though bad drama.

  56. billmaz-

    What predictions are borne from unguided evolution? What is a testable hypothesis?

    I ask because IDists have provided both predictions and testable hypotheses. And all our critics can do is say it isn’t good enough all the while never providing anything that we can compare with.

    The point is billmaz, that evolutionism doesn’t follow those rules of science. And you’re going to prove it.

    Thank you.

  57. billmaz you claim:

    Science has rules, which include a hypothesis that can explain all available evidence, predictions which arise from such a hypothesis and proposed experiments to test those predictions which can be repeated by others. To date ID does not meet those criteria,

    Yet ID was/is formulated using the very same criteria that Darwin used to formulate his theory of Natural Selection. Thus either ID is science or Darwinism is not! (actually, ID is science regardless of the fact that Darwinism, since it has no rigid mathematical basis, IS NOT science!)

    Stephen Meyer – The Scientific Basis Of Intelligent Design – video
    https://vimeo.com/32148403

    as to testable predictions for ID:

    A Positive, Testable Case for Intelligent Design – Casey Luskin – March 2011 – several examples of cited research
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....45311.html

    A Response to Questions from a Biology Teacher: How Do We Test Intelligent Design? – March 2010
    Excerpt: Regarding testability, ID (Intelligent Design) makes the following testable predictions:

    (1) Natural structures will be found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information).

    (2) Forms containing large amounts of novel information will appear in the fossil record suddenly and without similar precursors.

    (3) Convergence will occur routinely. That is, genes and other functional parts will be re-used in different and unrelated organisms.

    (4) Much so-called “junk DNA” will turn out to perform valuable functions.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....rom_a.html

    On the Origin of Protein Folds – Jonathan M. – September 8, 2012
    Excerpt: A common objection to the theory of intelligent design is that it makes no testable predictions, and thus there is no basis for calling it science at all. While recognizing that testability may not be a sufficient or necessary resolution of the “Demarcation Problem,” my article, which I invite you to download, will consider one prediction made by ID and discuss how this prediction has been confirmed.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....64081.html

    As well, in contrast to there being no identifiable falsification criteria for neo-Darwinism (at least no identifiable falsification criteria that neo-Darwinists will accept), ID, on the other hand, does provide a fairly rigid framework for falsification:

    Dembski’s original value for the universal probability bound is 1 in 10^150,

    10^80, the number of elementary particles in the observable universe.

    10^45, the maximum rate per second at which transitions in physical states can occur.

    10^25, a billion times longer than the typical estimated age of the universe in seconds.

    Thus, 10^150 = 10^80 × 10^45 × 10^25. Hence, this value corresponds to an upper limit on the number of physical events that could possibly have occurred since the big bang.

    How many bits would that be:

    Pu = 10-150, so, -log2 Pu = 498.29 bits

    Call it 500 bits (The 500 bits is further specified as a specific type of information. It is specified as Complex Specified Information by Dembski or as Functional Information by Abel to separate it from merely Ordered Sequence Complexity or Random Sequence Complexity; See Three subsets of sequence complexity)

    This short sentence, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” is calculated by Winston Ewert, in this following video at the 10 minute mark, to contain 1000 bits of algorithmic specified complexity, and thus to exceed the Universal Probability Bound (UPB) of 500 bits set by Dr. Dembski

    Proposed Information Metric: Conditional Kolmogorov Complexity – Winston Ewert – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm3mm3ofAYU

    Michael Behe on Falsifying Intelligent Design – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8jXXJN4o_A

    Stephen Meyer – Functional Proteins And Information For Body Plans – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4050681

    Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information – Abel, Trevors
    Excerpt: Shannon information theory measures the relative degrees of RSC and OSC. Shannon information theory cannot measure FSC. FSC is invariably associated with all forms of complex biofunction, including biochemical pathways, cycles, positive and negative feedback regulation, and homeostatic metabolism. The algorithmic programming of FSC, not merely its aperiodicity, accounts for biological organization. No empirical evidence exists of either RSC of OSC ever having produced a single instance of sophisticated biological organization. Organization invariably manifests FSC rather than successive random events (RSC) or low-informational self-ordering phenomena (OSC).,,,

    Testable hypotheses about FSC

    What testable empirical hypotheses can we make about FSC that might allow us to identify when FSC exists? In any of the following null hypotheses [137], demonstrating a single exception would allow falsification. We invite assistance in the falsification of any of the following null hypotheses:

    Null hypothesis #1

    Stochastic ensembles of physical units cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #2

    Dynamically-ordered sequences of individual physical units (physicality patterned by natural law causation) cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #3

    Statistically weighted means (e.g., increased availability of certain units in the polymerization environment) giving rise to patterned (compressible) sequences of units cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #4

    Computationally successful configurable switches cannot be set by chance, necessity, or any combination of the two, even over large periods of time.

    We repeat that a single incident of nontrivial algorithmic programming success achieved without selection for fitness at the decision-node programming level would falsify any of these null hypotheses. This renders each of these hypotheses scientifically testable. We offer the prediction that none of these four hypotheses will be falsified.
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/2/1/29

  58. Lizzie:

    What we do know is that the Darwinian algorithm (self-replication with heritable variance in reproductive success) can account for “complex specified information”

    Umm, that is just equivocating, Liz. Baraminology, front-loaded evolution and Intelligent Design Evolution have that. And self-replication requires CSI. Can’t seem to get around that- starting with the very thing you need to explain in the first place.

    And AVIDA refutes your claim. It demonstrates that given realisti parameters the darwinian mechanism doesn’t create CSI, far from it.

    One problem, I think, is that most IDists aren’t really clear, even to themselves, it seems, what they mean by “chance”.

    Happenstance- accidental- not planned.

    Yes, the Darwinian algorithm accounts for the spontaneous generation of information, but by that use of the word “chance”, Axe is simply wrong.

    No, it starts with it. And you have a funny definition of “algorithm”.

    Evolutionary theory only explains how complex life forms will emerge from simple self-replicators.

    No, it doesn’t. For one there doesn’t seem to be such a theory and for another if simple self-replicators remained, yet they were changed, then evolution would have still occurred.

    It doesn’t explain how self-replicators emerged from non-self-replicators

    How they emeged directly impacts how they evolved. Designed to start = designed to evolve and evolved by design.

    Do you think that Stonehenge was designed and the way it aligns with the sun is just a chance thing?

    And one more time- the EVIDENCE refutes you. The self-sustained relication of RNAs didn’t produce any complexity (Joyce/ Lincoln). AVIDA under realistic parameters doesn’t produce any complexity.

    Ya see Lizzie, it’s much easier to be inanimate, to be simple. Nature tends towards that

  59. billmaz

    Science has rules, which include a hypothesis that can explain all available evidence, predictions which arise from such a hypothesis and proposed experiments to test those predictions which can be repeated by others

    Please tell me – does the field of archaeology use scientific methods?
    For that matter does the field of taxonomy use scientific methods?

    I really suggest you either read for the first time, or re-read if you already have, Meyer’ book “Signature in the Cell”. Maybe you will begin to understand how inconsistently you use the term “science” to conveniently deny what is the best conclusion given the evidence. You are the one who does not consistently follow the rules.

  60. Chance Ratcliff @51:

    Eric, supposed we defined natural selection as the tendency for organisms to die in unsuitable environments, such as too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, food scarcity, etc.. It seems possible to introduce a necessity mechanism this way, albeit a sketchy one, into the chance equation. I’ve always understood NS to be such a necessity mechanism. Not that I think it’s sufficient for hill climbing (adding grand complexity), but at least its not strictly random with respect to its result.

    I’m not sure it matters whether we apply the label “natural selection” to the surviving organisms or the dying ones. At the end of the day it is just an applied label. Natural selection doesn’t do anything. Natural selection isn’t a force.

    So the only forces available are the fundamental forces that are always available: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear forces (in biochemistry we could add chemical bonding, but that is really a subset of electromagnetism). We’ve already shown on the EA Nails It thread and elsewhere, to the satisfaction I would think of most objective observers, that necessity cannot produce complex specified information, such as that found in the nucleotides of DNA. Thus the materialist is left with chance.

    Now it is true we could have an interesting angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin discussion about what “chance” means, but a typical dictionary definition will suffice for most purposes: “the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled.” Again, we can quibble over and perhaps refine this definition, but it is suitable for our present discourse.

    Evolutionists, following Darwin’s example, like to personify natural selection as some kind of force. They try to argue that evolution isn’t based on chance, because if evolution is essentially driven by chance it makes it seem (appropriately so) an absurd proposition. So they try mightily to argue that their creation story isn’t just based on chance and that natural selection somehow removes the “chance” aspect, because it provides some guidance, some direction, some necessary pathway for evolution to follow. But it doesn’t. It is just a label applied after-the-fact to the results of all the chance processes.

    It is true that at population levels we can run some stochastic calculations to see how a particular mutation might fix in a population, but the mutation happening is chance, whether it in fact gets fixed in our specific instance is chance (subject to the probabilities), and how that mutation will interact downstream with a myriad of other unknowns in the organism and the environment is essentially a question of chance. A chance mutation in a chance-constructed information-bearing molecule times a chance population times a chance environment is just more chance, not less of it.

    So unless someone can come up with a rational explanation for how the fundamental forces of nature inevitably drive evolution to some particular goal (which won’t happen, due to the principles we’ve already discussed elsewhere regarding necessity), at the end of the day we are left with chance.

    Once again, when we peel away the fancy language and the rhetoric we find that the only substance remaining in the materialist creation story is that Great Evolutionary Explanation:

    Stuff Happens.

  61. 61

    Eric, thanks for the reply @60. I largely agree that NS is an observation and not a force; or rather a label for an outcome. I first saw that point made here a few years ago, and have since made it myself, iirc. I also agree that necessity is unable to account for CSI, and that this is perhaps describable as a logical constraint, that necessity and contingency cannot both occupy the same resultant sequences at their respective maximum effects.

    I also agree that there is a logical disconnect between environmental constraints influencing “natural selection” and the engineered outcome of motor proteins and the like. I may have even said as much in the past, but I don’t remember where.

    I may try to unpack my thoughts on NS and post more later. I made an initial attempt which I’m now scrapping, so several paragraphs of disjointed thoughts have been deleted from this post. :)

  62. Thanks, Chance @61.

    Just curious, who was it here at UD who made that observation a few years ago? I’m sure other have thought of it too, but I’ve found that most folks, including many evolution skeptics, are pretty hesitant to talk about the particulars of natural selection, including the weaknesses and largely tautological nature. So just a little vanity to know if it might have been a comment of mine. :)

    I look forward to your further thoughts on the topic.

  63. Eric Anderson: Natural selection doesn’t do anything. Natural selection isn’t a force.

    Eric, can you elaborate on this? How does e.g. a climate change doesn’t do anything?
    I would like to understand this. I am asking in complete sincerity, and look forward to your response if you have time.

  64. 64

    Eric @62, it may well have been a comment of yours that I’m thinking of, I’ve been reading your comments with interest for some time. I did a little searching on the site, which is notoriously difficult for phrases which include “natural selection” but I did find a comment from 2011 which referenced a William Provine quote, apparently from 2001 which skewers common usage of the term; and Provine seems to suggest that it is “creationists” who have exposed the term as a facade.

    Regarding NS, I do think there is a necessity component, but not necessarily one which can be easily extricated from the deluge of chance events which also effect survival and reproduction outcomes. In the redacted comments I mentioned in my previous comment, I had made a point about differences between ontological and epistemological chance, which may or may not actually be distinct, that was beginning to sound very much like the angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin discussion that you eluded to in comment #60.

    There’s also a distinction to be made between how the term “natural selection” is used, implying a force or mechanism, versus what actually comprises the result, which is environmental factors acting in concert with various biological traits. I suggest that both environmental factors and the traits that come up against them (think long versus short-haired creatures in cold environments) are not themselves strictly random, although their interplay may be, for all practical purposes. We can also imagine “corner cases” such as another ice age, where many species would die off, but those equipped for cold weather would more likely survive. Assuming we didn’t freeze to death ourselves, we would be able to observe an outcome clearly illustrating differential survival and reproduction, and while this wouldn’t make NS any more of a “force” it would highlight the interplay that environmental factors could possibly have with biological traits. So while NS is essentially a term denoting ignorance of underlying causes, we can construct thought experiments which expose cases where the environment might have something specific to say, not so much about who survives, but about who doesn’t. This seems a lot like a necessity condition.

    Now with regard to survival versus death in extreme conditions (again if the earth were flooded, creatures equipped for aquatic environments would be more likely to survive) whether or not an organism survives has everything to do with the organism itself, and not necessarily the conditions. In other words, survival doesn’t occur because conditions are favorable, it occurs because organisms are configured for life. I suppose it’s a case of necessary and sufficient causes. Favorable environmental conditions are necessary but not sufficient for life, at least considering the ID viewpoint. The sufficient condition is an organism equipped for survival in a broad or narrow set of environmental conditions, and that seems much more specific than favorable environmental conditions themselves (if we take our privileged planet for granted).

    In summary, again taking the earth for granted, fecundity is a necessary condition of reproductive life. Natural selection, inverted from it’s creator role, might be said to serve as a watchdog in part, preventing severe mutants from gaining a foothold in a population by killing them off; but again, this is dependent upon the organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in the first place, and not a force or mechanism which does the “selecting.” It might be said that what is termed “natural selection” does far more killing than creating.

    Apologies in advance for the hasty and verbose musings.

  65. Chance Ratcliff (64): So while NS is essentially a term denoting ignorance of underlying causes, we can construct thought experiments which expose cases where the environment might have something specific to say, not so much about who survives, but about who doesn’t. This seems a lot like a necessity condition.

    A necessity condition indeed. One could argue that if a non-extreme environment allows for different life forms it follows that NS sets up a very broad bandwidth for life; a very coarse sieve if you will. Stating that NS is a sufficient cause implies stating that each organism is a product of a specific environment. This position is not based on reality because the data show that every non-extreme environment allows for an abundant amount of different life forms. So NS has nothing specific to say and is not a guide towards a direction.

    Chance Ratcliff (64):Now with regard to survival versus death in extreme conditions (again if the earth were flooded, creatures equipped for aquatic environments would be more likely to survive) whether or not an organism survives has everything to do with the organism itself, and not necessarily the conditions.

    Can it be said that extreme-conditions-NS (ECNS) just narrows the variable bandwidth? An overwhelming flood rules out all creatures who are not aquatically equipped, but has nothing specific to say about those who are.
    I don’t see how ECNS is guiding towards a direction. Alternating floods, earthquakes, droughts etc. kill off many but since there is no time for organisms to adapt ECNS is just a destructive force. After the drought life hasn’t been lifted on a higher plane of complexity, it is just very quiet in the slowly recovering desert.

  66. Box @63:

    Good questions. Start by reading the link (including Provine’s quote) @64. Also my short article Chance linked to @51.

    Here are some ways to start thinking about natural selection:

    First, there is no known physical force of natural selection. There are the following known forces (setting aside for the moment certain quantum theories, possible dark energy, etc.): gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. It is true that in certain situations we see these forces acting in specific ways and we can give those situations new labels — for example, “chemistry.” But such subsidiary situations are readily definable in terms of the fundamental forces. Natural selection is not at all definable in that way and is clearly not a “force” in the sense of physics and chemistry. (Unless of course evolutionists want to propose that natural selection is the long-sought-after hypothetical fifth force beyond the Standard Model. :) )

    Second, all forces that we know of exert their influence at a defined level of strength and in a particular direction. Natural selection does no such thing. Natural selection is alleged to have led creatures to the ocean and away from the ocean; to get smaller and larger; to get taller and shorter; to get faster and slower; to have more offspring and have less offspring. Nearly every time we are told natural selection has acted in some instance, we can with very little effort think up a dozen counterexamples on the spot. Every time we examine the concept, we find that natural selection allegedly leads to result X; except when it doesn’t. It is a strange “force” indeed that leads to and fro, backtracking and contradicting itself at regular turns. The only direction natural selection is alleged to have invariably led is toward survival of the “fittest,” but that is simply circular because fitness is only known after the fact with respect to survival.*

    Third, I don’t have an issue with the idea of applying a mere label “natural selection” to the results of certain processes. Labels can be convenient and can help us avoid having to explain long detailed information every time a concept is invoked. A problem arises, however, in practice. As already discussed, natural selection is applied as a label to all manner of results — even directly contradictory results. This should be our first clue that the underlying substance of what the label is describing is poorly understood. In nearly all cases, natural selection just refers to the survival, without an understanding of the underlying causes and without conveying anything more than the fact that some creatures survived. This essentially amounts to a tautology.* (Note, for a discussion on tendency to survive or the stochastic viewpoint some evolutionists think can rescue natural selection from the tautology problem, see my essay referenced @51.)

    No, the real force in a survival event is not “natural selection,” but some actual physical process: for example, a mutation in a nucleotide, that caused a protein to be malformed, which prevented the organism from metabolizing a particular food substance, which led to the organism’s death. The cause of the demise was not some force of ‘natural selection,’ but the breakdown in the chain of cellular processes due to a nucleotide mutation. We can apply the label natural selection after the fact, but that just masks the real underlying cause. And when we also apply the same label to an entirely different underlying cause, we start to see that the label is just that: a label, and not any kind of actual force itself.

    Fourth, if we really understand what is going on in a particular situation, such as the underlying biochemistry or environmental/climate circumstances, we would not need to refer to natural selection at all. For example, if we take two populations of bacteria — one aerobic and one anaerobic — and place them in an anaerobic environment, the anaerobic bacteria will tend to survive over the aerobic ones. Natural selection in action! Yet we know exactly why it occurred. The outcome can be fully explained in terms of biochemistry, and we never have to even refer to the concept of “natural selection” to fully and completely and scientifically explain the phenomenon in question. Again, a strange “force” indeed that allegedly acts with amazing power, but in reality does not even need to be mentioned or invoked to fully explain the phenomenon in question.

    —–

    Again, it is perfectly permissible to use labels in our regular language discourse, and we could use the words “natural selection” as a label. I don’t necessarily oppose that. But it is critical to remember that it is just that — a label. It is not a force. It is not an explanation of what actually occurred in the physical system. It is just a convenience label, a shortcut to refer to the results of processes that are themselves poorly understood.

    As a result, referring to natural selection as though it were a force, or the cause, or an explanation of something typically does not shed any light on the matter. Instead it obscures.

    —–

    * Note: In my essay I talk about whether it is possible to define natural selection in a non-tautological way. I believe it is. But it is notoriously difficult to do, and if it can be done (by understanding and describing the actual underlying causes) then, ironically, it becomes superfluous (see my fourth point above).

  67. Eric Anderson (66), thank you, that was really very informative. I understand the problems with natural selction much better now.
    Perhaps ‘extreme-condition-natural-selection’ should have been mentioned in your essay. This is the one instance that fitness becomes tangible. When you state “Natural selection doesn’t do anything”, it feels as if something is amiss. Maybe this motivated Chance Ratcliff to write about extreme environmental conditions in his insightful post 64.

  68. Box @67:

    Thanks for your kind response.

    It is arguable whether extreme events even qualify as examples of natural selection. Indeed, I have heard some evolutionists draw a distinction between the one-off meteorite/flood type of abrupt extinction-capable events and the regular more subtle action of natural selection.* So, no, I would not take the view that rare, extreme events are good examples of natural selection.

    Further, the real key, as I mentioned, is that we don’t need to invoke any concept of natural selection to explain an extreme event. An extreme event is, after all, perhaps the easiest instance in which we can actually put our finger on the underlying cause of the organisms’ demise. And we can explain it perfectly well by referencing the actual physical causes — be they a meteorite, a flood, or otherwise — without ever even so much as mentioning the label “natural selection.” So extreme events are just a subcategory (indeed, an easy subcategory) of the larger point I made in the essay: when we know the actual physical cause, invoking a concept of “natural selection” is superfluous.

    —–

    * Though, amusingly, I have also heard more than once that extinction is an example of “evolution in action,” which reflects quite muddied thinking.

  69. 69

    Box @65,

    “One could argue that if a non-extreme environment allows for different life forms it follows that NS sets up a very broad bandwidth for life;”

    Or I suppose the environment allows for that broad bandwidth; and indeed, inside of extreme ranges, life flourishes where it exists.

    “This position is not based on reality because the data show that every non-extreme environment allows for an abundant amount of different life forms.”

    Yes, given the presence of life in the first place. To me it seems like a fine tuning issue. Within suitable parameters we find abundant variety of life. So proper environmental factors are necessary but not sufficient. At certain fringes that variety is reduced dramatically. From what I can tell of NS, based on differential survival, it can only reduce variety in populations. Take drug-resistant bacteria. Prior to the abundance of drug-resistant strains, a given population likely consists of both resistant and non-resistant members. After the introduction of a given antibiotic, the non-resistant population is killed off, allowing the resistant ones to thrive and become dominant. In extreme cold, animals with thick coats will fare better than animals with thin coats. However the scenario again presupposes a population with varieties of coats, ranging from thin to thick.

    “Can it be said that extreme-conditions-NS (ECNS) just narrows the variable bandwidth? An overwhelming flood rules out all creatures who are not aquatically equipped, but has nothing specific to say about those who are.”

    Yes, at the fringes the variety of species declines. Before a flood, there are aquatic and non-aquatic creatures. Afterward the aquatic ones should be expected to survive more readily. So far, none of this explains the robustness or variety of life, only the effects of reduction of that variety; species not equipped for an extreme environment of one sort or another are not likely to survive.

    So in these cases there is a result of differential survival that is measurable and not strictly random, but how this process is used to construct wholly new forms is still a matter of appealing to blind forces. There’s nothing compelling for those who don’t already believe it happens that way.

  70. Chance Ratcliff (93),
    Suddenly it reminds me of the extrapolation of micro evolution to macro evolution. It seems that this time evolutionist suppose that (the alleged) guiding effects of macro-environmental events can be extrapolated to micro-environmental events.
    Am I right or am I right?

  71. 71

    Box @70,

    I think that “ecological niches” is very much that type of miniaturization of macro environmental events. The language of niches suggests that the environment can pressure organisms toward higher levels of fitness, which appear to be very similar to higher levels of complexity. If there is a niche, it can be filled by a species. If there is a species, then there is a niche which it fills. Ecological niches suggest even more pressure factors, such as predators, food resources, and so on. Any factor external to the individual creature itself.

    From my perspective, selective pressures cull populations, reducing variety, so it’s unclear to me how Darwinian evolution actually accounts for the variety – random mutations appear wholly inadequate unless, as Eric Anderson has pointed out elsewhere, the fitness landscape is essentially smooth, which would need to be demonstrated and not merely assumed. I think there are beneficial events which can be accounted for by simple mutations, but they likely fall within, or near to, Behe’s edge of evolution.

  72. 72

    Box, see here for an example of the result of culling selection. The diagram depicts variety in the population before selection, and homogeneity afterwards.

  73. Thank you Chance Ratcliff,
    So life, by random mutations, offers ‘natural selection’ an overly abundant variety of species. An unstoppable amount of viable organisms tumble over each other. Like a garden out of control that needs pruning. And just like an overbearing gardener NS wants to take full credit of what remains as if it was its own creation.

  74. Box @73:

    Your last phrase jumped out at me. Reminded me of something I wrote several years ago (in the context of an underlying genetic change being responsible for survival). Just for fun I thought I’d reproduce it here:

    Yet if we can point to a particular genetic difference and say that the genetic difference will result in x percentage more likelihood of survival, then we can make a workable testable prediction based on genetics alone. We do not learn anything new by calling the result “natural selection,” when all we have done is attach a rhetorical label to the result of a process that occurred at the genetic level.

    Probably more problematic is that natural selection is so often described as some kind of force responsible for the change – forever “scrutinizing” and “selecting” – when it is logically limited to being a dishonest observer, waiting around for the creative change to take place and then surreptitiously taking credit for the creative work. (Eric Anderson, May 26, 2004)

  75. Incidentally, my 2004 essay is available here (I had completely forgotten about it until I saw Box’s comment @73, which reminded me to search for the above quote @74):

    http://web.archive.org/web/200.....tsonNS.pdf

    Pretty long, but worth the read (I think). :) It is a follow up to some critiques of my original essay, linked to above @51. After several years in the debate I might today describe a couple of things in slightly different terms, but I believe what I said back then still stands.

  76. 76

    Box @73, nicely put! :D

  77. 77

    Eric @75, thanks for the essay, I look forward to reading it.

  78. Eric Anderson (75), thank you for the link to your essay. It is impressive to see how you unscramble the confounded objections made by evolutionist with notable ease and clarity.
    I have one question. On page 5 you write:

    (…) the real concern of evolutionary theory, which is explaining how the various competing species came on the scene in the first place. We seem to forget that explaining the origin of species was Darwin’s whole point in writing his opus. Evolutionists tend to miss the irony in the fact that Darwin had to assume the existence of the very thing he was trying to explain. This is an example of circular reasoning, not just in the particular formulation of the idea of natural selection, but at the highest level of the theory itself. But that is a topic for another time . . page 5, ‘Further Thoughts on Natural Selection’, Eric Anderson, May 26, 2004.

    My question is of course, did you write an essay on this topic? And if so, where can I find it?

  79. billmaz:

    The point is that they did mutate in a different pathway and that there are many different paths for evolution to take. ID doesn’t satisfactorily explain why there are so many paths that can lead to similar levels of adaptability. Evolution does.

    I’m not sure I understand what is being claimed here. How does evolution explain many different pathways, and why do you think ID is not as satisfactory as an explanation?

    Keep in mind, ID doesn’t deny evolution. Inference to a designer is only at the level of Darwinism’s assertion of no designer. Apart from that, the two are not necessarily at odds.

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