Home » Atheism, Philosophy » Why Richard Dawkins won’t debate William Lane Craig

Why Richard Dawkins won’t debate William Lane Craig

William Lane Craig is not only one of the world’s leading Christian apologists but he has actually made outstanding original contributions to philosophy. Yes, Craig publishes popular-level books. Unlike Dawkins, however, who in 20-years plus has been purely a popularizer (of Darwinian evolution, materialist science, and atheism), Craig continues to publish at the highest levels of the academy addressing scholars of the highest caliber (and gaining their respect). Dawkins, by contrast, increasingly appeals to the lowest common denominator. It’s in this light that Dawkins glib dismissal of Craig should be viewed:

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79 Responses to Why Richard Dawkins won’t debate William Lane Craig

  1. Check out William Lane Craig’s thoughts on his recent debate on Intelligent Design with Francisco Ayala:

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....etter_main

    (it is the November 2009 newsletter – you have to sign in to read it)

  2. apparently in 2007 when WLC came to the UK and Dawkins refused to debate him, Dawkins claimed that he had not even heard of him! Is he really that ignorant of his most formidable opponents?

  3. Dawkins says he won’t debate WLC because his only claim to fame is that he’s a professional debater – and he says that people he debates have “got to have something more than that”.

    So is Dawkins completely ignorant of WLC’s credentials??!!

  4. see this link 2:50 thru for WLC’s comments of Dawkins previous refusal to debate:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ1pbeXN8qo

  5. I funny post characterizes Dawkins like this:

    1. I do not race people whose only claim to fame is that they are professional runners;

    2. I do not play chess against people whose only claim to fame is that they are chess masters;

    3. I do not play one-on-one with people whose only claim to fame is that they are basketball stars;

    4. I do not set my car against people whose only claim to fame is that they have a fast car; and

    5. I do not attempt to match the accomplishments of folks whose only claim to fame is that they are in the Guinness Book of World Records ®.

    link: http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3668

  6. Will somebody please write what exactly Dawkins said. Youtube isn’t working well in my computer right now and Im dying to know what exactly he said.

  7. T. lise, Dawkins said:

    “I have always said that when invited to do debates that I will be happy to debate a Bishop, a Cardinal, a Pope, an Archbishop; indeed I have done both. But I don’t take on creationists and I don’t take on people whose only claim to fame is that they are professional debaters. They’ve gotta have something more than that; I’m busy”.

    [His emphasis]

  8. He won’t debate Craig for the same reason he never mentions highly credentialed intelligent design theorist’s and their objections to evolution in his latest book.

    He merely takes on critiques of naïve creationists and other amateurs without ever mentioning the ID community because (wait for it) HE’S A FREAKING COWARD, obviously. That’s the only explanation, of course. Anyone who *truly* believes what they purpose would take on their top notch critiques at the drop of a hat. PZ Myers is cut from the same mold as are most evolutionists.

  9. Speaking of debating and dialoguing on ID, has anyone read Benjamin McFarlands critiques of Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell. McFarland is associate professor of biochemistry at Seattle Pacific University, and I wasn’t sure what to make of his critique (because some of it is over my head).

    http://arrowthroughthesun.blog…..-cell.html

    I posted this under a different topic yesterday, but it is now off the main page. Any thoughts?

  10. Green #7
    Thank you so much the trouble you took.

    In fact Dawkins, being a master of words, could mumble those words as an excuse rather than to admit that he has close affinity to rabbit.

  11. That last link didn’t work. Try this:
    http://arrowthroughthesun.blog.....-cell.html

    or this:

    http://arrowthroughthesun.blogspot.com/
    and scroll down to his Nov 16th entry.

  12. Mr Siis,

    Yes, I did click through to his review. I thought it was an interesting viewpoint, since it came from a biochemistry professor who also happened to be a practicing Christian and very sympathetic to the ID viewpoint. I also looked up the Chemistry and Evolution book he referenced several times as being very thoughtful, and I’ll be asking for someone to get it for me as a present!

  13. 13
    EndoplasmicMessenger

    Siis,

    I also looked at BLM’s review of Signature in the Cell. It sounds like he is stuck in the notion of Biochemical Predestination. He should talk to Dean Kenyon, who wrote a book on the topic in 1969, but later repudiated it because he came to realize that chemical forces cannot create the information needed for life. Apparently, BLM believes it can. The onus is on him to show how chemical forces can create not only any small amount of Complex Specified Information, but the total CSI necessary to create the entire infrastructure needed for DNA replication.

  14. siis,

    I read the review. All it is saying is that a few things were not covered. It does not offer up any promising alternatives though it would be interesting to see just what the Williams book has to say if really anything. Dave Wisker mentioned some alternative ideas a couple months ago.

    McFarland suggest that the driving forces might be in the chemical attractions that are a result of the basic laws of physics. Thus, they were designed not only to be friendly to life once it arrived but to possibly drive chemical reactions to produce some of the affinities necessary for life. We might learn that the fine tuning of the physical universe might be even more appropriate than we originally envisioned.

    I use the term “possibility” only in the sense that future research might show something. Actually there is always the possibility of something showing up in the future.

    McFarland was anything but gracious. Which lets me know what he really thinks and his predispositions. His comparison of 200 vs 400 pages seemed like a feeble put down. I am sure Meyer could have produced a 1000 page book at which time McFarland might have criticized the over kill no one would have read it but a select few. So this review really says more about McFarland than it does about the book.

    If this is the best that can be done to discredit the book, then bravo Dr. Meyer.

  15. Richard Dawkins is still wallowing around in the dust bin of out-of-date and discredited “science,” and he has no clue about the fact that the real scientific world has left him behind.

    This is a sad legacy of irrelevance for someone who desperately sought to be relevant.

  16. The real fiasco of this is that the audience applauded loudly like they know what was being said and assumed it was true and an appropriate put down. It says more about the people who support Dawkins that they are so intellectually bankrupt that they would applaud this absurdity. Of course they support Dawkins so that should not be too hard to understand.

    Also Dawkins in his arrogance only considers maybe popes, archbishops and cardinals as his worthy oponents.

  17. And people actually applauded to that answer?

    That struck me as odd as well.

    And they say intelligent design is a threat to science.

  18. 18

    When Dawkins’ followers applaud him for every obtuse statement he makes, they demonstrate that they are even less critical than the religionists they despise.

  19. There’s one reason, and only one reason why RD won’t debate WLC or anyone else of that caliber, and that’s because he’s smart enough to know he’d get his clock cleaned! Recall that in his poorly argued recent screed he so arrogantly titled The God Delusion, he actually thought he had easily dispatched the main 5 arguments for God from Aquinas…and in only about, oh, 3 pages or so no less. Never mind that brilliant scholars of all theological stripes have debated and written extensively on Aquinas’s arguments for centuries: Thank GOD, we have RD to light the way to the real truth…and do so in a mere 3-4 pages. How could WLC stand up to such academic brilliance as that?!?

    Careful readers of RD’s works and argument often note that he tends to present his opponent arguments in their weakest, rather than their strongest forms, thus setting up nice little straw men to knock about. RD knows in his gut that he wouldn’t be able to make his case in the face of such a careful and articulate thinker as WLC, and that, and only that, is why he refuses to debate him. He’d say the same about a J.P Moreland or Alvin Plantinga no doubt.

  20. Nakashima, EM and jerry,

    Appreciate the feedback about the McFarland review!

  21. 13

    EndoplasmicMessenger

    12/09/2009

    12:40 pm

    Siis,

    I also looked at BLM’s review of Signature in the Cell. It sounds like he is stuck in the notion of Biochemical Predestination. He should talk to Dean Kenyon, who wrote a book on the topic in 1969, but later repudiated it because he came to realize that chemical forces cannot create the information needed for life. Apparently, BLM believes it can. The onus is on him to show how chemical forces can create not only any small amount of Complex Specified Information, but the total CSI necessary to create the entire infrastructure needed for DNA replication.

    DI’s own Casey Luskin always referred to Christian Schwabe’s relaxin work as an example how chemistry could generate CSI.

  22. I actually think there may be more to Dawkins’ comment than people are crediting here.

    Yes, it’s a cheap ad hominem, but it draws attention to the fact that debates about the existence of God are carried on quite independently of any particular views about evolution, or biology more generally. In fact, one reason why Dawkins might have never bothered to find out about Craig is that, until quite recently, Craig’s arguments have been pushing the physics-based arguments for God’s existence. Dawkins really wants to argue about whether God is needed to explain life, including humans. He doesn’t want to argue about whether God is needed to create the universe as such. He wants take the universe, and its primitive materials and forces, as given and then argue from there. He’s got a much better chance of winning that way. My guess is that if Craig confined himself to biology-based arguments, Dawkins would debate him.

  23. Steve Fuller,

    I would think that a good debater on origin of life and evolution could rip Dawkins apart. We constantly challenge anyone here to present the case for naturalistic evolution, Darwinian models or otherwise and get nothing. Yet all of Dawkins, Ayala, Coyne and several internet sites, etc are available in print or online to help them. What we get is silence.

    They can not use the creationist arguments here which seems to be a term Dawkins likes. When I first viewed the Johnson Provine debate I was astonished. Here was the so called religious zealot using nothing but science and the atheistic evolutionary biologist using only religious arguments.

    Tell me where we are wrong here in this assessment. If Dawkins got called every time he made a non scientific argument, he might end up tongue tied. Where is his argument from biology?

  24. Can we make William Lane Craig “pope for a day” so that Dawkins can debate him?

  25. Craig’s performance at Indiana a month ago was good but not great. This is the first time he ever debated biology and did a god job but he is not yet as facile with this area as he is with cosmology and obviously theology. I felt it was a little stretched when he talked theodicy.

  26. As Steve notes, Dawkins is primarily a biologist, while Craig is a philosopher whose arguments relate to cosmology and theology. I doubt this would be an enormously productive debate. It would be a compromise on subject matter for one or both of them.

    Yes, Craig debated biological issues the one time, advocating ID. Ayala did a poor job; a better debater would have addressed Craig’s weak points directly and demolished him.

    Craig is a hugely persuasive orator with an authoritative style; I expect the prosepect of debating him is quite intimidating, regardless of the quality of his arguments.

  27. We constantly challenge anyone here to present the case for naturalistic evolution, Darwinian models or otherwise and get nothing. Yet all of Dawkins, Ayala, Coyne and several internet sites, etc are available in print or online to help them. What we get is silence.

    It is certainly difficult to do so with the moderation system on this website. According to the moderation policy, anyone who is noted as a critic of ID will typically be moderated for every post. The delay makes debate far more difficult, and perhaps more trouble than it is worth for those who would offer an alternative viewpoint.

    It is a shame that this is apparently necessary – no doubt it is a response to problems in the past.

  28. “It is certainly difficult to do so with the moderation system on this website. According to the moderation policy, anyone who is noted as a critic of ID will typically be moderated for every post. The delay makes debate far more difficult, and perhaps more trouble than it is worth for those who would offer an alternative viewpoint.

    It is a shame that this is apparently necessary – no doubt it is a response to problems in the past.”

    A couple points – there are a host of anti ID people here who are are not on moderation including evolutionary biologists. So the moderation policy is at best an excuse and definitely not a reason for your proposition that moderation is why we do not see an effective defense of naturalistic evolution. There is ample opportunity by anyone wanting to present their case for evolution. When people such as Ayala and Provine and even Dawkins cannot make the case in their worlds, what are we to think. Why don’t you take up the challenge if you think I am mistaken. Many here love science and are always open to good data and logical arguments. This site has changed in attitudes in the last few years in response to good arguments and consistent findings in research.

    There is another form of moderation and that is how one responds to the genuineness of another’s responses. If one comes here and immediately or very quickly get critical without using substance, then they get treated accordingly even though they are not being moderated. Honest responses are appreciated but they are rare for the anti ID people. Sometimes you get exceptions but the pattern is one of deflection, diversion and derision and often just plain obstinacy. There mostly seems to be an agenda. Rarely do you get “that is an interesting argument and I have to think about it.” What you get when you make a point that they cannot refute is to move on to some other thing they can object to. So we have a constant pattern of trying to find something new to trip us up on, never admitting that their previous objection was baseless. I will give them credit though for persistence. Some hang around here for years without being able to make a point but most move on as they get frustrated when they cannot show the rubes up as being stupid.

    If moderation was not implemented we would have all sorts of anti social commenters here. This topic attracts really ill behavior even amongst the academics who comment on it. Go to a site where they are not moderated to find out what they really think of us. Apparently the moderation logs are full of extremely negative comments with abusive language and someone has to sort through them to pick out non offensive ones. So there is a form of natural selection here as commenters have to adapt to social norms but not necessarily to any intellectual ones.

  29. 29

    Steve-Fuller: “My guess is that if Craig confined himself to biology-based arguments, Dawkins would debate him.”

    But the problem is that Dawkins does not confine himself to biology-based arguments, and this is what gets him in trouble – and he probably knows it.

    Craig in my estimation would never confine himself to biology-based arguments, because as a philosopher, he knows that science is limited. He also knows that a good scientist must also be a good philosopher.

  30. Jerry Coyne has weighed in with comments on Dr. Craig’s recent debate with Ayala, detailed over at Dr. Craig’s website. Now that WLC has begun to get a little more invovlved in the issues of evolution and ID, look for the attacks of Coyne and his merry men to get really ugly. PZ has already called WLC “stupid” over on his blog.

  31. #30

    Perhaps we can expect PZ to print out the front page of WLC’s website, drive a rusty nail through it and cover it with coffee grounds in his trash can…then take the time to take a picture of it and post it on his science website dedicated to empirical observation.

    No, he would’nt stoop to that would he? After all, he is a professor of scientific investigation and wouldn’t ignore his obligations to the non-ideologial-based truth of empirical realities.

  32. paulmc at #27

    With regard to the moderation rules at this site, you would think that, as adults, no one would have to be told that in order to have a useful discussion, personal attacks, abusive language and threats are off limits; but, that is exactly why this site is heavily moderated, because *some* people actually don’t understand the difference (I am not referring to you). When I taught 8th grade social studies, there were always some who couldn’t or wouldn’t understand why shouting and name-calling was forbidden. What I do not understand about anti-ID sites like, for example, PZ’s blog, is that they make a claim to be rational and a vault of knowledge. But, someone with opposite views has absolutely no chancc of engaging in a useful conversation because it is purposely designed to be the opposite. When the very Dr. himself not only sanctions but often leads the mob in a frenzy of F-bombs, it makes Charlton Heston’s plight in Planet of the Apes look quite mild by comparison.

  33. All claims to about the moderation policy on this website are a (rather pathetic) side show.

    Tell us what the ubiquitous physico-chemical connecton between cAMP and gluose and quit BS-ing about the rest. ID proponents (in general) have grown tired of the crap. If you have an explanation for symbol (context-specific) transcommincation based on the atomic physical properties of the of the constituent chemicals involeved in the building and regulation of living tissue… then state it.

    Otheriwise, STFU about moderation.

  34. Upright BiPed,

    Otheriwise, STFU about moderation,

    Don’t talk to people this way Upright. I agree with you that moderation discussion is a side show, but there are better ways to say it without being inflammatory. This sort of thing isn’t necessary.

  35. Clive,

    You are of course correct. My apologies to all.

    When I wrote that post I had just finished reading some recent comments about Mike Behe. The amount of garbage heaped on that man is truly incredible. Anyone who has interacted with Mr Behe in the slightest knows he is not the person whom they make him to be. He is about as modest and unassuming as any person could be.

    I simply find it outrageous, but would have done better to keep my mouth shut.

  36. Upright,

    I simply find it outrageous,

    As do I.

  37. Re moderation:

    To various ppl above, I was simply commenting that it is difficult to hold a ongoing debate when each comment requires moderation. Note that I did originally say the necessity of this was unfortunate and no doubt justified by past bad behaviour.

    I don’t think it is “pathetic” to say this – such a response certainly does not address the problem at hand: that in order to discuss any matter in detail with people here, a series of posts over time would be necessary, with delays only on the posts from the person that might disagree with an ID viewpoint. As such, a person is likely going to have to answer responses from a number of different contributors here. That makes for quite a burden.

    I expect the policy could easily help to explain why many capable commentators would not start an extended argument/discussion here. I don’t believe that the issue is one of the strengths of arguments.

    For whatever it may be worth, I agree that the tone of many of the most vocal people on the other side of the fence is wholly unacceptable and unconstructive. I have occasionally read Pharyngula, but don’t really have the stomach for that mob.

  38. #35 – I think many of the unkind words directed at Behe are because he is a smart chap and many neoDarwinists don’t believe he could hold his position on irreducible complexity honestly.

    A partial explanation for why this is a common position: as I expect many of you will be aware, Hermann Muller predicted irreducible complexity under standard evolutionary theory long before ID was proposed.

    In 1918, Muller predicted that “irreducible complexity” should be expected under gradual Darwinian evolution. His point was to explain the relatively high rate of lethal mutations.

    In Muller’s (1918, pp 463-4) words:

    Most present-day animals are the result of a long process of evolution, in which at least thousands of mutations must have taken place. Each new mutant in turn must have derived its survival value from the effect which it produced upon the “reaction system” that had been brought into being by the many previously formed factors in cooperation; thus a complicated machine was gradually built up whose effective working was dependent upon the interlocking action of very numerous different elementary parts or factors, and many of the characters and factors which, when new, were originally merely an asset finally became necessary because other necessary characters and factors had subsequently become changed so as to be dependent on the former. It must result, in consequence, that a dropping out of, or even a slight change in any one of these parts is very likely to disturb fatally the whole machinery; for this reason we should expect very many, if not most, mutations to result in lethal factors, and of the rest, the majority should be “semi-lethal” or at least disadvantageous in the struggle for life.

    Behe certainly works with more complex systems than what Muller originally discussed, however I don’t see any important, qualitative difference between what Muller stated should be expected under classical Darwinian theory and what Behe claims is impossible under the same.

    Note: this is classical pre-modern-synthesis Darwinism; contemporary theory would have a few quibbles with Muller’s description.

  39. “that in order to discuss any matter in detail with people here, a series of posts over time would be necessary, with delays only on the posts from the person that might disagree with an ID viewpoint.”

    I thought I answered you very clearly. We are often outnumbered here by anti ID people here who are not under moderation. And some of these people have been here for extended periods of time. And none have been able to defend naturalistic macro evolution. Given that, your point is not valid.

  40. “Behe certainly works with more complex systems than what Muller originally discussed, however I don’t see any important, qualitative difference between what Muller stated should be expected under classical Darwinian theory and what Behe claims is impossible under the same.”

    I am not sure what you are getting at. So maybe you should be more explicit. Mueller was wrong in that there was small changes over time that built up a complicated machine. There is no evidence that this has ever happened. If there was, this site would not exist and ID would have never got off the ground. There may be evidence of devolution but not evolution. Mueller was sort of talking about devolution with all his mutations.

    Maybe we can get Clive to take you off of moderation os you can respond more quickly.

  41. Moderation has been lifted, so thanks Moderator.

    I am not sure what you are getting at. So maybe you should be more explicit.

    I believe what I am saying is straightforward. One of the claims of ID, as proposed by Behe, is that irreducible complexity is a feature of life that cannot be explained by natural evolutionary processes. This is the basis for it being evidence for ID. If natural processes could explain it, it cannot provide evidence for ID.

    In fact, this very thing was predicted well before the conception of ID, under classical Darwinism.

    However you state:

    Mueller was wrong in that there was small changes over time that built up a complicated machine. There is no evidence that this has ever happened.

    What would you consider evidence? I feel this is likely to be the crux of any disagreement here. Also, I wonder which evolutionary processes you accept and which you do not.

    Evolution of complex systems would clearly be the result of many millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of years in some cases. A theoretical framework exists explaining how this can happen, but clearly we are not going to observe it directly over periods of decades. That is not possible; we are able to observe short-term (and occasionally slightly longer-term) evolutionary processes. These are well-documented and even well-read fundamentalist YEC Christians are wholly accepting of these (e.g. local adaptation, morphological evolution, speciation, even bacteria evolving to utilise a new energy source).

    Duplication of genes is common over evolutionary time. Exaptation of features (e.g. human earbones homologies of reptilian jawbones) appears to occur. Vestigial structures (e.g. baleen whales forming embryonic teeth and reabsorbing them) are also not uncommon features of extant species. These indicate the limits and modes of evolution in operation and explain, via common descent, how new can systems arise. These patterns certainly appear to me best explained by processes guided by drift and selection rather than direct intervention of a designer.

    There may be evidence of devolution but not evolution. Mueller was sort of talking about devolution with all his mutations.

    Muller is talking about systems losing what become unneeded features – streamlining, following the evolution of complex, ‘interlocking’ features.

    Evidence for evolution (vs “devolution”) is abundant. We know information content of genomes increases from time to time (indels, gene duplications, chromosome duplications, genome duplications). We know that following any of these, barring indels, there are multiple copies of genes on which selection and drift can act, resulting in specialisation. Complex gene families certainly appear to have arisen by such processes, and such relatively simple things can have substantial impacts on relative survival (e.g. in the case of phytochromes in angiosperms). Such events infrequently become adaptive, explaining the rarity of new forms and the high level of conservation of complex systems over evolutionary time.

    Perhaps you could explain in what sense there is no evidence for the evolution of complex systems? Also, just to reiterate, what would you consider evidence?

  42. “Perhaps you could explain in what sense there is no evidence for the evolution of complex systems? Also, just to reiterate, what would you consider evidence?”

    This thread is dying out so this should be continued some place else. You assert a lot of things but no one has ever presented a coherent history that validates such assertions. If gradualism works and by the way many evolutionary biologist have given up on it since there is no evidence for it building anything of consequence, it would leave a trail in the genomes or the fossil record. Such trails do not exist. Just go to any book supporting naturalistic evolution and bring back the examples. Pick Dawkins, Coyne, Carroll or anyone you choose and bring the examples here. We also have an evolutionary biologist from Cornell named Alan MacNeill who has provided us with his 47+ engines of variation for changes in the genome but has of yet to be able to delineate any significant changes for these variation generators. They include all that you mention so we are not unfamiliar with anything you said.

    This challenge to present a coherent defense of naturalistic evolution has been offered for five years now and no one has been able to do so. So let’s see if you can do it. We are pretty sure it doesn’t exist or someone somewhere would have presented it. So when you come and make some assertions we can not take it seriously. Assume we are capable of evaluating anything you bring honestly and it is not for experts only to understand. We have seen hundreds of people fail and no one succeed. Most leave when they realize they cannot do it. What remains are the die hards who keep trying and presenting the irrelevant and who seem to thrive on taking pot shots at the periphery of an argument. They never get anywhere.

    Give it a shot and we will be polite and maybe you will learn something and often we learn something too but nothing yet that undermines ID. By the way we believe there are actually two theories of evolution, micro evolution and macro evolution. Micro evolution is well supported and no one objects to it but macro evolution or the origin of complex novel capabilities has never been supported by any coherent science. Don’t tell us micro evolution over time leads to macro evolution because that is just an assertion and has not empirical evidence supporting it when there should be millions of examples. This morphing of micro into macro is really a faith belief. And there are evolutionary biologists who actually admit it.

    And I would be convinced by simple evidence that supports your proposition. I am a science junkie and love all areas of science. It would not be hard to convince me if there was anything real.

  43. Don’t tell us micro evolution over time leads to macro evolution because that is just an assertion

    With all due respect, I believe I was careful in my post to avoid doing that. I gave the example of DNA duplication that not only occurs on different timescales than that of point mutations, but also is frequently non-adaptive and retained by drift in small populations rather than in large populations. Michael Lynch has undertaken a number of interesting studies around this topic.

    Regarding the separation of micro- and macro-evolution, I believe that this is both an open question and also fully contingent on how you define the two. You define macroevolution as the “origin of complex novel capabilities”. Is this your full definition? What bar is set for “complex”?

    One more thing: it is critical to remember here about the balance of evidence. We are working with incomplete information, hence why we must think critically, draw inferences, make theories etc. While I must demonstrate the feasibility and evidence supporting evolutionary theory, it remains your responsibility to demonstrate why ID is reasonable and has better explanatory power as a theory. In other words, a lack of evidence for an aspect of evolutionary theory does not constitute proof of ID.

    What I would propose would be looking at natural phenomena and determining which theory has greater predictive power – naturalistic evolution or ID? After all, a theory is only as good as its explanatory power.

  44. :What I would propose would be looking at natural phenomena and determining which theory has greater predictive power – naturalistic evolution or ID? After all, a theory is only as good as its explanatory power.:

    I think ID wins that hands down. But you do not understand what ID is about. The reason ID is getting more viable is because any theory of naturalistic evolution, including Darwinian processes, has a miserable track record at predicting anything but the trivial. Micro evolution has a very good track record at producing changes but they are trivial in the evolution debate and ID has no problem with micro evolution. I even argue that micro evolution is great design as it allows organisms to adapt to changing environments but it does not explain the origin of the gene pool of the population. There is no theory of naturalistic macro evolution out there that has been shown to produce anything. The only one people try to defend is that over deep time, anything can happen through gradual changes. But such a process leaves a trail and there are no trails ever found. Only the sudden appearance of something.

    You think you may have something but we have seen everything before and the current set of anti-ID people here are probably aware of anything you could come up with and they are not able to dent the macro evolution conundrum. We have evolutionary biologists try and all they end up doing is asserting something and not providing empirical evidence to support it. It does not exist or else you have to explain why every book and article ever written has never presented it.

    You are new to this and don’t realize you probably have nothing. You probably assume it exists. As I said we are aware of every natural process that modifies the genome and the result is that there is almost nothing of consequence that has resulted from these processes. I do not say absolutely nothing but there is no consistent set of results that shows how complex novel capabilities arose. Believe me when I say nothing has ever been written to support it because if it was, it would have been presented long ago and constantly shoved down our throats.

    I do not know what you are personally like, but every anti ID person here leaves frustrated or they stay around and present trivia. They never acknowledge they can not add anything to the debate or that the ID position has some merit and they continue to live with the contradictions they espouse without having any empirical data to support it while berating those who support ID. Occasionally some find fascinating studies which show some interesting results but never anything to support any theory of naturalistic macro evolution.

    Give it a shot. Nothing you have said so far is relevant but continue on and we will learn what you are about.

  45. “You think you may have something but we have seen everything before”

    “We have evolutionary biologists try and all they end up doing is asserting something and not providing empirical evidence to support it. It does not exist”

    “You are new to this and don’t realize you probably have nothing. You probably assume it exists.”

    “Nothing you have said so far is relevant”

    That is the just arrogant, Jerry. And patronising.

    You know nothing about me, and yet you write this?

    You didn’t bother to acknowledge anything I have written e.g. trying to establish a definition of macro-evolution for a starting point. Before I present an argument there is already nothing I can say that could be interesting?

    I was looking forward to testing some ideas here because it appeared the tone and standard of discussion was reasonable, but it is plain that any attempt will be futile.

    If you are the measure, this is yet another place where close-minded people write responses that don’t consider their opponent’s thoughts only to conclude they were absolutely right all along.

    With such close-mindedness and willingness to pre-judge, there is little chance that you love science like you say.

  46. “I was looking forward to testing some ideas here because it appeared the tone and standard of discussion was reasonable, but it is plain that any attempt will be futile.”

    I encouraged you to proceed. I only warned you that we have probably seen everything that could possibly present. By coming here and saying you will show something is really the arrogant position. It assumes that we are stupid or unable to understand what the elite know and that we the unwashed masses cannot understand. I have already told you that evolutionary biologists come here and they have not been able to present anything of consequence.

    Nothing you have said up till now is of any use. For example, we are aware of everything is this paragraph you wrote:

    “Duplication of genes is common over evolutionary time. Exaptation of features (e.g. human earbones homologies of reptilian jawbones) appears to occur. Vestigial structures (e.g. baleen whales forming embryonic teeth and reabsorbing them) are also not uncommon features of extant species. These indicate the limits and modes of evolution in operation and explain, via common descent, how new can systems arise. These patterns certainly appear to me best explained by processes guided by drift and selection rather than direct intervention of a designer.”

    We certainly know about gene duplication, transposons, retrotransposon, etc and every other process of genetic amplification through transcription of parts of the genome or through some error process in duplication of the DNA but the issue is what has it been shown to do. So far I understand the are a lot of interesting things but not the building of complex novel capabilities which is how we use the term macro evolution here. You allude to new systems but really don’t mention any, which of itself is curious, because if you had something , you would mention it in passing in such a paragraph as the one you wrote.

    Drift and selection are micro evolutionary processes and not something disputed but what has selection or drift ever produced. Not much of consequence in the evolution debate. No the whole debate is in the origin of variation on which selection and drift could work. I already alluded to the Allan MacNeill and his claim to 47+ engines of variation but even Allen, who is an evolutionary biologist hasn’t outlined how any has produced macro evolution.

    No, I think you approach has been arrogant to pre suppose that you have something that no one else, including evolutionary biologists, do not know and wouldn’t have discussed here before. But I urge you to continue on and see where it goes.

    I have to run and will be traveling for most of the day but think about what would be the best illustration of naturalistic evolution and express it. So far you have not done it.

  47. By coming here and saying you will show something is really the arrogant position.

    So it’s arrogant to attempt to participate in a discussion now?

    It assumes that we are stupid or unable to understand what the elite know and that we the unwashed masses cannot understand.

    I can’t see where I assumed that anyone was stupid insufficiently educated/intellectually endowed to understand anything, nor why you wish to frame my words in this light – other than to dismiss me before I start. If I thought you were unable to understand, it wouldn’t be a very fruitful discussion, would it?

    It is apparent to me that it would be futile to continue when this is your attitude. Tacking a sentence like “But I urge you to continue on and see where it goes” after all that went before it is rather tokenistic.

    By the way, stating this:

    Drift and selection are micro evolutionary processes

    indicates to me that you have a poor understanding of the debate, in any case. Drift and selection govern the population-level fate of any genetic change, whether a whole-genome duplication followed by a hundred million years of divergence and change or a single point mutation. If you define drift and selection as being solely microevolutionary processes then you “win” trivially by definition.

  48. Drift and selection are definitely microevolution events. They are certainly not macro evolutionary events. They are part of basic genetics which is micro evolution. Could you tell me how the changing the percentage frequency of an allele in a population by random process (drift) or by environmental pressures (selection) is macro evolutionary in any way? All that is being done is a shuffling of the allele percentages in a population gene pool.

    Yes, definitely micro evolution. Macro evolution requires new genetic information of a highly complex nature. Drift and selection have nothing to do with that.

    Your quotation of Mueller was at best irrelevant. Your appeal to duplication is also irrelevant unless you can show how these lead to these novel complex capabilities. So far you haven’t introduced anything of consequence. Why not try to do so. We are trying to turn microbes into humans here so provide some proof that it happened by naturalistic means. Show us how any of the steps along the way were accomplished by providing empirical evidence to support your conclusions. Is that unreasonable?

    You have come into an ID site whose basic premise is that there is not support for 100% naturalistic evolution of any kind let alone Darwinian evolution. Assume we have heard all the arguments before and they have been logically rejected. If you have that understanding then you can ask why such and such is not relevant.

    I am just telling you that no one has ever done it yet. That is proved us wrong by showing us evidence for naturalistic macro evolution. All we are asking for is scientific evidence.

  49. Mr Jerry,

    Macro evolution requires new genetic information of a highly complex nature.

    Sez who? I thought macro-evolution included speciation.

  50. Nakashima,

    Jerry is applying a non-standard definition of macroevolution – namely that macroevolution only involves the evolution of “complex novel capacities”.

    Nonetheless, I believe your point still stands regardless as highly complex genetical information may not be assumed to be necessary, a priori.

    A well documented case would be the relatively short term evolution of novel metabolic pathways in bacteria that degrade nylon. But, at this stage Jerry has not explained what qualifies as “complex”.

    The degradation involves 3 new enzymes, nonetheless, and my understanding is that ID claims novel, functional enzymes cannot be generated naturally.

  51. Mr Paulmc,

    Well, that settles it then. The capacity for complex novels has only arisen in the last thousand years or so, starting with Murasaki-san’s Tale of Genji. On that basis, we can be sure that everything for the several billion years prior was simply micro-evolution. And complex novels do require intelligent design. I’m sure Mr Jerry will agree with me, he usually does.

  52. Regarding Muller: you say my quotation is irrelevant; I say he demonstrated that IC is not valid as a design inference.

    Your argument against this is that naturalistic macroevolution does not occur so Muller is mistaken. Rather than irrelevant, then, my quotation of Muller is contingent on the remaining case for naturalistic evolution.

    You ask:

    Could you tell me how the changing the percentage frequency of an allele in a population by random process (drift) or by environmental pressures (selection) is macro evolutionary in any way?

    Quite simply because evolution is a population process. Regardless of the nature of a genetic change – again we could be talking about a substitution or a gene duplication here – it must be transmitted through the population (I suppose unless the mutant can form a new population).

    In the event of a gene duplication there is an increase in information, if a trivial one. However, the premise of naturalistic evolution is that such duplications (which are fairly regular events, I’m sure you agree) occasionally lead to specialisation. Hence, if the sequence changes (via mutation) and results in a new function, then we can contend that a more complex evolutionary process has occurred in comparison with a nucleotide substitution.This is also fairly common: in humans, there are more than 400 and in mice more than 100 gene products that are the result of duplications and subsequent frameshifts.

    It is worth bearing in mind that these are the duplication/frameshift events that can be deduced. The further they are in the past, the less likely we are to be able to detect them via their similarity with current sequences. A critical point here is that with patterns of nucleotide substitution, we cannot relay the circumstances arising in the origins of, say, a new bodily organ. Such events are long in the past, and likely occurred over long periods and much nucleotide substitution has happened since.

    Incidentally, the amount of substitution that can occur in homologous genes that still function in substantially similar ways indicates that such genes do not require precise information to operate. Much of this is of course synonymous change, but a substantial proportion for species that have diverged over long periods of time is amino acid substitution.

    Nonetheless, if your standard of empirical evidence is needing to see the actual nucleotide changes that resulted in the origin of a new organ, or the substantial improvement of a primitive organ to a modern one, then what you ask for is not possible. This does not discount the plausible naturalistic mechanism for it to occur. Hence we need to examine what we observe and decide whether naturalistic or super-naturalistic explanations are the better fit.

    Returning to duplications: the pattern of duplication and re-use does not prove naturalistic evolution, but we are considering the balance of evidence. The prevalence of duplications and deep genetic homology appears to be evidence for naturalistic evolution as it is the pattern predicted by natural processes acting within their limits. Such limitations would not affect a designer – certainly not a supernatural one.

    Now, if we had a lot of duplications as a basic necessity for complexity, we would expect to be able to see evidence of this, including random undirected remnants of such events. In fact, when we look at the “higher” organisms we see precisely this. A feature of multicellular eukaryotes is a greater or lesser extent of junk DNA.

    Certainly there is a non-coding DNA that is functional via regulation, but there is a lot of junk in a lot of complex genomes.

    Currently, at least, would be my only caveat. A reactivated pseudogene could potentially have a function, after all. I know your first instinct is going to be to tell me that I have no basis to call it ‘junk’ – after all, who do I think I am – the great cosmic designer?

    Yet, there are several interesting lines of evidence for this:
    1) Stochastic population-genetic processes related to population size substantially control the amount of excess, non-coding DNA present in an organism, not its level of complexity. There are population size thresholds below which genome expansion occurs by escaping purifying selection; genome size correlates closely and negatively with population size. Intron size also correlates negatively with population size.

    2) Extremely similar species with no important functional differences can have highly divergent amounts of DNA. Consider these congeneric plants: Allium altyncolicum has a genome comprising 6.9 Mbp, while its congener A. ursinum comprises 30.9 Mbp. There is not a rational explanation why plants that only differ in superficial appearance should have such substantial differences (450% difference in # of base pairs) in genome size unless one of them comprises substantially more filler than the other.
    3) Rates of molecular evolution in large sections of non-coding DNA are substantially elevated from coding regions and functionally important non-coding regions. This indicates the absence of purifying selection and therefore the absence of function.

    Finally, a question you never answered: what exactly would you expect to see if naturalistic evolution were real that is lacking? Be as specific as you can.

  53. “Sez who? I thought macro-evolution included speciation.”

    Sez those who support ID and recognize what the debate is about. Only in the Alice in Wonderland world the anti ID people inhabit does one put such a low hurdle on the bar that is macro evolution. It takes over 20 million years to get a new bird species, and that is one that is really not much different from its cousin.

    We define macro evolution her as the origin of novel complex capabilities. Try eyes, flight, nervous systems, hormonal systems with all its controls, livers, the building of systems of proteins that interact with each other to produce a new capabilities, etc. We all just agreed that speciation is a specious concept and represents a trivial advance in the microbes to man progression. It is something that ID does not object to but it is also something that is irrelevant.

    To suggest that macro evolution is equivalent to speciation is an unbelievably disingenuous statement but what can one expect from Nakashima. He knows what the argument is about. All Nakashima can produce is trivia or irrelevancies. If he can find a small contradiction, his day is made. He has tilted with the ID monster and has triumphed. It is all that the anti ID people can produce. So in a discussion on evolution Nakashima wants to start an argument over what is meant by macro evolution. He knows that there is no way he can deal with our understanding of it so he want to bring out the frequent ploy of using the trivial interpretation of macro evolution. We know why he always wants to argue about the trivial when he knows what the debate is about and knows he cannot produce anything.

    Typical Nakashima. He should be embarrassed to try something so transparent.

  54. “A well documented case would be the relatively short term evolution of novel metabolic pathways in bacteria that degrade nylon.”

    The nylon example has been discussed here several times though I personally do not know the details. Others here may be able to better comment on it then I can. Though from what I remember there were small changes that resulted in the ability to digest nylon, not the formation of new protein systems. It has not been brought up for a long time and not one of the anti ID people use it or try to defend it. Maybe this will renew its discussion.

    A single SNP in a gene will produce a different protein but this process is not thought of as producing a new gene family as the new protein is often very similar to the previous protein. Now frame shifts will cause the protein to be very different and as such is a different protein. ID does not dispute these as they are fairly common. The question is whether this or any of the other gene modification processes produces the array of proteins seen in organisms and how they are coordinated to produce a rather intricate process. Some, yes. All, extremely unlikely.

    “Finally, a question you never answered: what exactly would you expect to see if naturalistic evolution were real that is lacking? Be as specific as you can.”

    Naturalistic evolution has to produce trails and each step on the way is viable and has no reason not to exist for ever and there should be an uncountable number of branchings as sub population went off on new ways. Else you have to argue for sudden appearances and that is more ID than naturalistic. Where are the trails and branchings? There should be tens of millions of them. Try producing a few. Show how some branching gradually changed to genomes to what we see now.

    And by the way as I said several times already we are aware of all the modifications to the genome that you repeatedly bring up. This not something new to us. But if they ever played a role in macro evolution (our definition) they would leave a trail too. There should be evidence of all those gene duplications, frame shifts etc. leading to something. Where are they?

    Have to run. Back sometime this weekend.

    PS – our definition is the only one that makes sense in this debate. To try to fall back on a definition of macro evolution that represent trivial changes is in reality to admit one does not have anything. It is microbes to man, not one bird species to another.

  55. jerry: It takes over 20 million years to get a new bird species, and that is one that is really not much different from its cousin.

    That is the not the correct scientific usage of the term “species.” For instance, there is more than one species of Galápagos Finches, even though the Galápagos Islands are only 5 to 10 million years old.

    jerry: We define macro evolution her as the origin of novel complex capabilities. Try eyes, flight, nervous systems, hormonal systems with all its controls, livers, the building of systems of proteins that interact with each other to produce a new capabilities, etc.

    After all, humans are ‘just’ elaborated Deuterostomes. A tube with appendages to stuff food into one end. Microevolution.

    jerry: Naturalistic evolution has to produce trails and each step on the way is viable and has no reason not to exist for ever and there should be an uncountable number of branchings as sub population went off on new ways.

    And that is what we see. All life is related through a pattern of divergence from a common ancestral population. See also Letunic & Bork, Interactive Tree Of Life (iTOL), Bioinformatics 2006.

    jerry: We all just agreed that speciation is a specious concept and represents a trivial advance in the microbes to man progression.

    Small, but not trivial. By the way, that’s the entire point. Each change is relatively small. Only from the perspective of time can we see how jaw bones in reptiles evolved into the delicate mammalian middle ear.

  56. Mr Jerry,

    How appropriate to bring up Alice in Wonderland.

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.”

    If you are not going to use words with their agreed upon meanings, so that readers can check your assertions against published papers, then the whole discourse takes on this Ministry of Truth air. Darwinism is obviously and tautologically false, because we have always been at war with EastAsia.

    Mr Jerry, when you are back from your weekend, maybe you’d like to rejoin the English speaking community here at UD. You also might want to drop the imperial ‘we’ from your messages.

    Happy Holidays!

  57. Mr Jerry,

    How about:

    Macro-evolution — generally used in the literature to address the theory of body-plan level changes and associated or claimed evidence.

    Is that acceptable?

  58. It takes over 20 million years to get a new bird species

    Considering the average species lifespan is 1-10 MY, your numbers seem rather implausible.

    The nylon example has been discussed here several times though I personally do not know the details. Others here may be able to better comment on it then I can. Though from what I remember there were small changes that resulted in the ability to digest nylon, not the formation of new protein systems.

    The nylon example is gene duplication and modification, creating new functional enzymes that ID advocates have repeatedly stated are too complex to occur naturally. To a certain extent, your response to this indicates that you don’t care about complex new function, only about complex causes. As I tried to explain, complex outcomes can have simple causes.

    A single SNP in a gene will produce a different protein but this process is not thought of as producing a new gene family as the new protein is often very similar to the previous protein. Now frame shifts will cause the protein to be very different and as such is a different protein.

    But a series of SNPs or indels made to a duplicated gene can produce a novel protein. Look at, for example, the phyochrome family in the higher plants. Both gymnosperms and angiosperms have several genes in this family, and they are the result of duplication. The angiosperms phyotochromes are amazing; they allow the detection of the proximity of other plants (via a very simple mechanism) and help explain their success in shaded areas vs gymnosperms. They have overlapping function, rather than neatly delineated ones as well, what you might expect from natural processes.

    Naturalistic evolution has to produce trails and each step on the way is viable and has no reason not to exist for ever and there should be an uncountable number of branchings as sub population went off on new ways.

    In this, are you alluding to the fossil record? I assume you are. What you describe is exactly what GG Simpson describes in his important works on paleontology.

    Show how some branching gradually changed to genomes to what we see now.

    So you’re not discussing the fossil
    record. But you want to discuss species in the past tense. I’m not sure I follow your line of thought. I know of no ways to examine extinct genomes.

    There should be evidence of all those gene duplications, frame shifts etc. leading to something.

    Yes, but consider the 400 gene products in human that we can deduce are resultant from frameshifts. Is 400 novel genes from this process too small a number to be of significance? What are they meant to lead to that they are not? Or are you suggesting they are all junk?

    If I ‘repeatedly’ bring the genome up, it is because the genome provides good evidence for naturalism, that I have not read convincing arguments against. Stating that the ID community is aware of the features and changes I note is not an argument against them.

    I look forward to discussing the Allium genomes I mentioned in my post above upon your return.

    BTW I have no problems with adopting your definition in this discussion, but it would be better if the ID community came up with a different term for what they mean in the future, or just stuck to discussing the ‘evolution of complex systems’ vs other evolutionary change. Again, I’m sure you accept that your definition of macroevolution is not the biology standard.

    Compliments of the season!

  59. paulmc,

    When you have time go to itunesU and under Stanford, look for courses. Click for a listing of all courses and one of the last ones listed is about Darwin. There are about ten 2 hour lectures and one is given by the Grants of Galapagos finch fame.

    There you will find a discussion of the concept of species which is similar to discussions at hundreds of other places. They will discuss the meaning of species and how long it takes to form a population that cannot inter breed with the other populations. This is called the biological definition of species and has its problems but is considered one of the key concepts in speciation. Why, because it means that the population can no longer share its genes with any other population. They use a 22 million year estimated time. I think they actually said 32 million years but in their writings used 22 million years.

    As soon as I say this there will be typical anti ID person ready to pounce on this definition with all sorts of objections. But in reality it is the best definition of species there is and yes it has its many problems such as population A can breed with population B which can breed with population C but A cannot breed with C. And many populations could artificially breed with a different population but will not do so under natural condition for a variety of reasons.

    So for finches on the Galapagos islands, they can all inter breed but some won’t but if they were some how forced to, then they would be fertile. So some will classify these finches as separate species yet they can inter breed. It really doesn’t matter which you believe is the best description of species, what it does show is that it takes an awfully long time for these so called species to really separate and be different.

    By the way all that is discussed in the Stanford lectures that is empirically based is consistent with ID. It is when people speculate from the data that ID will have objections. ID will have no problem with anything the Grants have found. It is really not the issue that is under debate.

    I do not know much about nylon eating microbes and don’t have time now to research it but I know it has been discussed here several times and it went no where. One of the moderators here named Patrick was very knowledgeable about it but Patrick has not been around for awhile. As I remember it was a frame shift in one of the genes of the microbe that was behind this ability and whatever happened was of little concern for ID. But as I said I know little about it.

  60. I do not know much about nylon eating microbes and don’t have time now to research it but I know it has been discussed here several times and it went no where. One of the moderators here named Patrick was very knowledgeable about it but Patrick has not been around for awhile. As I remember it was a frame shift in one of the genes of the microbe that was behind this ability and whatever happened was of little concern for ID. But as I said I know little about it.

    Regardless of what you know and don’t know about Flavobacterium, this strain has evolved new enzymes that are implicated in degrading nylon, an artificial product. What is important is evolving a new metabolic pathway. The original thinking was that the mutation was the result of a frameshift, although this is not current.

    ID claims that natural processes cannot produce a new functional enzyme.

    This is one of several cases where we have strong recent evidence of this happening. You know little of it but that does not change the reality. Again, you focus on what genetic change causes it, but if small changes can have important effects then this is of little consequence. The end result is the bacteria evolved a new metabolic pathway.

    They will discuss the meaning of species and how long it takes to form a population that cannot inter breed with the other populations. This is called the biological definition of species and has its problems but is considered one of the key concepts in speciation. Why, because it means that the population can no longer share its genes with any other population. They use a 22 million year estimated time. I think they actually said 32 million years but in their writings used 22 million years.

    I am not particularly interested in a stanford course on iTunes.

    Nor do I need a briefing on species concepts.

    What I want to know is why you think this is relevant. You have already defined macroevolution as being unrelated to speciation, so what does the length of time until firm barriers to gene flow arise have to do with the evolution of complex novel capacities?

    Speciation is the creation of barriers between gene flow via one of many means. In the biological species concept, genetic barriers. The ability of closely related organisms to share genetic information is widely recognised and I would defy you to apply this definition to plants, in which the barrier is sometimes weak even between genera.

    This is wholly irrelevant. 20 million years does not define the time it takes for new species to arise, it defines a time until sufficient genetic barriers to gene flow exist.

    The lack of firm barriers between species is, in my view, another line of evidence for naturalism. Certainly if the designer was attempting to create barriers between cleanly delineated species, the effort has been poor.

    But there is much more relevant genomics material to discuss as outlined in my two previous posts. Allium?

  61. “ID claims that natural processes cannot produce a new functional enzyme.”

    No it doesn’t. It says it is relatively rare not impossible.

    “The original thinking was that the mutation was the result of a frameshift, although this is not current.”

    Why don’t you outline the source of the new protein. Obviously it did not appear out of air.

    “This is one of several cases where we have strong recent evidence of this happening. You know little of it but that does not change the reality.”

    Why don’t you lay out these several cases and the process how each arose. Obviously you do not have to do everyone but three or four in addition to the nylon example would be interesting and then point to the others.

    “I am not particularly interested in a stanford course on iTunes.”

    Fine, but you asked about the source of the 20 million years.

    “What I want to know is why you think this is relevant.”

    Don’t you think that 20 million years or more to get a small change in a species so that they cannot interbreed has any relevance on how fast complicated systems can arise? I would be hard pressed to show how to show how the variety and complexity of new organisms could arise if small changes took 20 million years. Three 20 million year periods and we are back to the dinosaurs.

    “I would defy you to apply this definition to plants, in which the barrier is sometimes weak even between genera.”

    We are not interested in plants as much as animals. So let’s keep it too animals for the time being. Whatever works must work in animals.

    “This is wholly irrelevant. 20 million years does not define the time it takes for new species to arise, it defines a time until sufficient genetic barriers to gene flow exist.”

    I am sorry but this does not make sense. If it takes 20 million years before two populations become different this implies that up to 20 million years they are essentially the same population that gene flow wouldn’t correct and thus, can not have much difference between them. So where are the new complex capabilities? They cannot all of sudden appear and they cannot be in both populations all the time.

    “The lack of firm barriers between species is, in my view, another line of evidence for naturalism. Certainly if the designer was attempting to create barriers between cleanly delineated species, the effort has been poor”

    This also does not make sense. Are there not cleanly delineated barriers between many species. I can name a million or two that have clear delineated barriers. For example, take a fish and a fruit fly. I can name a million or two where they are not. For example, beetles. I have no idea why you brought in the concept of a designer. ID does not rule out that a large percentage of species arrived by naturalistic means. It just is not 100%

    And by the way some ID supporters believe every species on the planet arrived by naturalistic means. Many believe in a concept called front loading.

  62. This also does not make sense. Are there not cleanly delineated barriers between many species. I can name a million or two that have clear delineated barriers. For example, take a fish and a fruit fly. I can name a million or two where they are not. For example, beetles. I have no idea why you brought in the concept of a designer. ID does not rule out that a large percentage of species arrived by naturalistic means. It just is not 100%

    I would make perfect sense when you move the first sentence to the end of that paragraph. Unfortunately, DaveScot, UD’s most prominent front loader, doesn’t post here any more.

  63. Jerry:

    I would think that a good debater on origin of life and evolution could rip Dawkins apart. We constantly challenge anyone here to present the case for naturalistic evolution, Darwinian models or otherwise and get nothing.

    Debating origin of life with Dawkins or any other scientist wouldn’t be a good idea. Science knows no reason why God couldn’t have done it. Science knows no reason why nature couldn’t have done it. End of debate.

    The case for naturalistic evolution, Darwinian models …? It has been presented in scientific literature for 150 years. If you find that insufficient, debate won’t be of any use.

    AFAIK, the models go to great lengths about how, where and when. Where can I find corresponding scientific information about ID?

  64. Sorry, J should be j

  65. “AFAIK, the models go to great lengths about how, where and when.”

    You have just made the case against naturalistic evolution. You said models not evidence. ID agrees there are models but ID agrees that there is no evidence. If there were ID would shut down and everyone could go home.

    The how, where and when are all just told stories which is not science.

    So thanks for supporting our point of view.

  66. Don’t you think that 20 million years or more to get a small change in a species so that they cannot interbreed has any relevance on how fast complicated systems can arise? I would be hard pressed to show how to show how the variety and complexity of new organisms could arise if small changes took 20 million years. Three 20 million year periods and we are back to the dinosaurs.

    No, I don’t think that is relevant. Firstly, complete genetic barriers are not essential to species originations. This is because geographic isolation, assortative mating and other asepcts of sexual selection are phenomena that contribute to the reduction of gene flow, and are no less important than genetic barriers. You equate genetic barriers to a small change, but complete, rather than incomplete, genetic barriers can take a long time to arise; fertility is lowered but might not be entirely eliminated. Hence the extensive hybridisation we see in the animal and plant kingdoms. Even a partial reproductive barrier is sufficent to reduce gene flow substantially.

    If you take a look at the literature on the origination of species, you will find that 20 my is not the estimate of the time it takes an average species to originate. One estimate for mammals, for example, is 1 my.

    More importantly, you talk about 20 million years like it’s a very long period of time in evolution. It is not. What major complex systems have arisen since the time of the dinosaurs, considering there were already placental mammals at this time? Has any evolutionary change in this period fallen into the category that you define as macroevolution?

    This demonstrates my original point. These systems are not arising all the time, they are very rare, as they should be under naturalistic evolution.

    Now, for the fourth time – what about Allium and junk DNA? I realise you guys have in the past said ‘but it’s not junk’ and certainly I agree there is functional stuff there amongst the rest. However there are several critical points that indicate both naturalistic origins and non-functional sequences (and I will quote myself from earlier):

    1) Stochastic population-genetic processes related to population size substantially control the amount of excess, non-coding DNA present in an organism, not its level of complexity. There are population size thresholds below which genome expansion occurs by escaping purifying selection; genome size correlates closely and negatively with population size. Intron size also correlates negatively with population size. e.g. Lynch and Conery (2003), Lynch (2006, 2007).

    2) Extremely similar species with no important functional differences can have highly divergent amounts of DNA. Consider these congeneric plants: Allium altyncolicum has a genome comprising 6.9 Mbp, while its congener A. ursinum comprises 30.9 Mbp. There is not a rational explanation why plants that only differ in superficial appearance should have such substantial differences (450% difference in # of base pairs) in genome size unless one of them comprises substantially more filler than the other. See Ricroch et al. (2005).

    3) Rates of molecular evolution in the majority of non-coding DNA are substantially elevated from coding regions and functionally important non-coding regions. This indicates the absence of purifying selection and therefore the absence of function. e.g. Kimura (1983).

    Finally, you said:

    And by the way some ID supporters believe every species on the planet arrived by naturalistic means. Many believe in a concept called front loading.

    If I read you right, then good for them. They must understand the nature of the evidence for organic evolution. Doesn’t ID sound more like God of the gaps when this is one the camps?

  67. Re frontloading:

    Well, I certainly should have looked that up before posting. It is a very strange definition of “naturalistic means” you have employed there. That’ll teach me.

    I would go so far as to say the concept of frontloading is utterly preposterous to the point of not being worth discussing.

  68. “I would go so far as to say the concept of frontloading is utterly preposterous to the point of not being worth discussing.”

    I am not an adherent of front loading but some are and you will have to discuss it with them.
    So far I am still waiting for examples of things developing naturally that are leading to complex novel characteristics. As interesting as the nylon eating microbes are, they do not qualify. My guess is that any changes you can document to microbes would not qualify. But we would have to look at each one. None so far have reached the level of complexity that they would defy naturalistic processes and thus, be ID. Some here will probably disagree with me on this but I am not aware of any.

    Somewhere I have discussed what ID is in detail. There are a couple of long posts I have made and maybe you should read them before commenting on what ID is. My guess you have a poor understanding of it. However, these comments were made a few months ago and I haven’t the time to find them right now. Maybe some time after Christmas. Till that time I can only peak here every now and then.

  69. It is interesting that over the course of a couple posts, without providing any particular reason, your view on nylon degrading bacteria changes from:

    The nylon example has been discussed here several times though I personally do not know the details.

    to

    As interesting as the nylon eating microbes are, they do not qualify.

    So a novel metabolic pathway isn’t of interest to you.

    You also say:

    My guess is that any changes you can document to microbes would not qualify. But we would have to look at each one. None so far have reached the level of complexity that they would defy naturalistic processes and thus, be ID.

    But how can I give you examples that defy naturalistic processes, when none exist? Any changes I document are naturalistic. What would be convincing from you would be some recent change that did defy naturalistic processes as proof of ID. That would be compelling for your case. Pointing to every known case and saying that they are “naturalistic” does not help your case at all.

    And, for the fifth time – what of the Allium genomes? Junk or not?

  70. “And, for the fifth time – what of the Allium genomes? Junk or not?”

    I have already said that I am going to keep my discussions to animals. I haven’t a clue about Allium genomes. Why don’t you lay out what this genome entails and why you are impressed by it and maybe someone will discuss it with you. But I do not plan to.

    If you want to discuss microbes, go ahead and we can see what you think is impressive about the changes you point out.

  71. So you’re happy to discuss both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, but you’re fussy about which eukaryotes you will include. Sounds fairly arbitrary to me.

    I have already laid out twice why the Allium genome is interesting. It’s pretty straightforward, and not related to their being plants.

    If you don’t want to dicuss that – it doesn’t appear you’ve so much as read it – I think we’re pretty much done here.

    Incidentally, you have provided no evidence actually supporting the ID proposition. You’ve only nitpicked areas you perceive to be lacking in naturalistic evolution, without even being able to provide an unambiguous picture of what one would expect if naturalistic evolution were true. This despite my stated aim to have a debate that considered the balance of evidence.

  72. This is getting to be a joke as it usually does. Present the evidence for naturalistic evolution. No one in the history of the planet has done so. You have presented information for changes in genomes and few would dispute that. So don’t posture as if you are offended at my slights. If naturalistic evolution works it must work on animals and it must produce major changes not trivial stuff. And we are well aware of the C value paradox so your continued allusion to Allium is puzzling and irrelevant at best unless I missed something which is always possible.

    The path from microbes to man requires massive changes and would leave a trail, millions of trails if it happened gradually. I said here and said many times that if naturalistic evolution is true for all evolution, it will have to leave trails. Apparently all the trails were lost, most before the Cambrian. So you ask what would convince me, lots of obvious trails. Some like the material subducted under the continents will disappear for ever. But many, many will remain and be obvious if they happened.

  73. paulm c:

    Incidentally, you have provided no evidence actually supporting the ID proposition.

    I offer just a glimpse of support for ID (including a testable hypothesis):

    Intelligent Design: The Design Hypothesis

    Intelligent Design in Biology Textbooks

    Intelligent Design in Biology Textbooks Continued

    The Design Inference in Peer-Review

  74. paulm c:

    ID claims that natural processes cannot produce a new functional enzyme.

    Reference please.

    Ya see ID is an argument against the blind watchmaker having sole dominion over evolution.

    Design is a natural process.

  75. Rather than offended by your slights I am frustrated by your disingenuity.

    And we are well aware of the C value paradox so your continued allusion to Allium is puzzling and irrelevant at best unless I missed something which is always possible.

    For the nth time, being aware of something is not an argument.

    I am not making a standard point regarding the c-value paradox i.e. this amoeba has more DNA than a human etc etc.

    The point is that between very similar species within a genus, there can be substantial variation in the amount of DNA – in the case of Allium one species has 4.5 times the amount of DNA.

    While disparate comparisons (e.g. protist to human, plant to human) can be waved away by saying we don’t know what the non-coding DNA does, it is pretty hard to do the same with closely related, superficially differentiated species within a single genus. There is no plausible reason why one species needs 450% of the DNA of its congener to do just the same things.

    This is strong evidence for the junk DNA hypothesis – again something that ID claims does not exist.

  76. Joesp h @ 74

    Reference please.

    Well, if you go to the FAQ on this website, which I assume is sanctioned by the more scientific of the lot here, the writers claim that:

    “But a new functional protein cannot be built by simple selectable variations”
    and
    “Function derives from higher levels of order and connection, which cannot emerge from a random accumulation of micro-variations.”.

    Ya see ID is an argument against the blind watchmaker having sole dominion over evolution.

    Design is a natural process.

    Perhaps I should have said naturalistic processes. I assume you are not dismissing a supernatural designer…

  77. “This is strong evidence for the junk DNA hypothesis – again something that ID claims does not exist.”

    Junk DNA is not an essential thing to ID. Some here are very tied to the DNA in a human being mostly functional. However, it is not essential to ID that it is. It would be interesting to know what % of human DNA is functional but the absolute or percentage amount is not tied to ID being true or not. That you keep on bringing it up is indicative that you do not understand ID.

    “For the nth time, being aware of something is not an argument.”

    Being aware of something is indicative that we have thought about it. Do you think you are the first one to point out these things.

    ———-
    I have written several long comments about what ID is about. Here are four of them:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-326046

    There are three consecutive comments in the previous post.

    What ID is interested in.

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

    Here is a comment about why ID science is no different that regular science.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-304029

    Here is a comment that every ID debater should make when he debates ID.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-296129

    I am not sure if everyone here agrees with them but I believe that anyone who publishes on ID agrees with them. At least I have not seen anything in writing they have written that disagree with them.

  78. Junk DNA is not an essential thing to ID.

    If you say so. But according to this website’s section “Frequently raised but weak arguments against Intelligent Design”, which I assume is meant to be widely accepted:

    As just one example of a successful ID-based prediction:

    Non-functionality of “junk DNA” was predicted by Susumu Ohno (1972), Richard Dawkins (1976), Crick and Orgel (1980), Pagel and Johnstone (1992), and Ken Miller (1994), based on evolutionary presuppositions.

    By contrast, predictions of functionality of “junk DNA” were made based on teleological bases by Michael Denton (1986, 1998), Michael Behe (1996), John West (1998), William Dembski (1998), Richard Hirsch (2000), and Jonathan Wells (2004).

    I don’t see how on one hand predictions of functionality are important to ID but at the same time non-functionality is unimportant to ID.

    Note that the functionality of “junk” is, in fact, one of only two ID predictions listed in the “Frequently raised but weak…” page.

  79. “I don’t see how on one hand predictions of functionality are important to ID but at the same time non-functionality is unimportant to ID.”

    We will have to read the specific quotes or predictions. My understanding is that the claims were not absolutes, that is everything will have function but there will be considerable function in the non coding regions. That does not mean that every single nucleotide will be part of some functional process. Though it may be.

    But take my word for it, junk DNA having function is not an essential part of ID. At least that is my impression and I have been reading about it for over 10 years. Some people jumped on the the ENCODE project that showed a large amount of the junk DNA was transcribed. I do not think ID would have any problem with the wikipedia discussion of junk DNA

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

    You seem to be looking for absolutes. I am not aware of any.

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