Home » Uncommon Descent Contest » Uncommon Descent Contest 20: Why should human evolution be taught in school?

Uncommon Descent Contest 20: Why should human evolution be taught in school?

I just came across this fact in the journal Nature: Little is known about human evolution other than basic outline.

Note: This contest has been judged. Go here for announcement.

So, contrary to widely heard huffing, there are huge gaps in our understanding of early humans. In Nature’s 2020 Visions (7 January 2010) Scroll down to Leslie C. Aiello, and we learn

Most of the recent effort in hominin palaeontology has been focused on Africa and Europe. But the announcement in 2004 of the small hominin Homo floresiensis in Indonesia was a warning that we are naive to assume we know more than the basic outline of human evolutionary history. If H. floresiensis is indeed a surviving remnant of early Homo that left Africa around 2 million years ago, we have to reject the long-standing idea that Homo erectus was the first African emigrant. We also must reject many hypotheses concerning the prerequisites for this emigration, such as a relatively large brain size, large body size and human-like limb proportions. Importantly, we must confront our relative ignorance about human evolution outside Europe and Africa.- “Hominin paleontology”

Now, I don’t believe for a moment that 2020 is going to yield a whole lot more information, as Mr. Aiello* hopes – more likely a whole lot more grant applications, as more people graduate and need a focus for their work.

That doesn’t mean the work isn’t worth doing. It does, however, raise a key question: Why are people expected to learn in school whatever evolution story is currently taken seriously – by whomever and for whatever reason?

When I was in school fifty years ago, we struggled through polynomials, the life cycle of the common toad, and how to behave on stage when putting on a fragment of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – facts that were not under dispute and unlikely to change in the lifetime of anyone present.

Anyway, courtesy of the Discovery Institute, I have a copy of David Berlinski’s The Deniable Darwin, for the best answer to the question: Why is human evolution, in its actual present state, compulsorily taught in schools? Why are people going to court in order to force the teaching?

Here are the contest rules. Winners get a certificate as well as the prize. You do not need to give me your actual address, just an address I can send the prize to, and we never save addresses for a mailing list.

*Aiello is President, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research

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143 Responses to Uncommon Descent Contest 20: Why should human evolution be taught in school?

  1. I have a simple question for the UD blog contributors.

    Anytime in the near future can we expect to see some progress on the positive evidence for intelligent design and not just Darwin-bashing?

    Tell me if this is out of place, but it would seem that a lot more could be done in the way of research, and most of that time….actually like roughly 95% of that time seems to be used in slinging mud at Darwinists.

  2. Anyway, courtesy of the Discovery Institute, I have a copy of David Berlinski’s The Deniable Darwin, for the best answer to the question: Why is human evolution, in its actual present state, compulsorily taught in schools? Why are people going to court in order to force the teaching?

    I think that is actually two questions.

    To the first, the answer is that students should be taught the best science currently available. Whatever its shortcomings, evolution is currently the dominant theory in its field in the view of those best-qualified to judge. No, it is not complete or perfect but that is true of all our best theories and is not a reason not to teach them.

    To the second, my understanding was that the legal cases were about preventing a certain brand of evangelical Protestantism being taught as science in place of what scientists say is the best theory.

  3. Seversky:

    To the first, the answer is that students should be taught the best science currently available.

    What science?

    If anything it should be in history class.

    Whatever its shortcomings, evolution is currently the dominant theory in its field in the view of those best-qualified to judge.

    “Evolution” isn’t being debated.

    biological evolution- what is being debated

  4. Seversky,

    You raise an interesting point on teaching the best science. I think plate tectonics might be a good analogy. It was proposed as early as 1912-1915, but not taught until the 1960′s. Why? There was a proposal, but no confirmation. Until magnetic field directions were mapped in rock, seafloor spreading discovered, and the liquid mantle understood, there was a lack of evidence. It could have been wrong, or right, but there wasn’t really even enough data to debate.

    Were the students before 1950 irrevocable harmed? Probably not. Their studies may have even primed them to understand the revolutionary nature of plate tectonics. A high-level geology major should have been aware of the controversy, but maybe not a sixth grader. Likewise, it seems a lot to teach ID based on ATP-synthase, orphan ORFs, against a prevailing theory. What would a fourth grade geology teacher do in 1930?

  5. Why is human evolution, in its actual present state, compulsorily taught in schools?

    Because it has a nice elegant narrative- ie it makes for a good story.

    Kids like stories- especially good stories.

    And when kids start to question the story it is best to squash them when they are small.

    Can’t have them grown up and still questioning it.

    Besides as Mayr once said- “We are comforted by the fact that evolution has occurred”- so no worries mate.

    Why are people going to court in order to force the teaching?

    Because most people do not accept the idea so forced indoctrination is the only way.

  6. Human evolution is taught because it is settled science. Some small details might change, which is to be expected, but the general outline is settled.

    People go to court to defend the teaching of settled science in science classes, because other people are trying to get their religious mythologies taught as science.

  7. Retroman:

    Human evolution is taught because it is settled science.

    By what definition of science is it “settled science”?

    How the heck can we even test the premise?

  8. Human evolution ought to be taught in schools because it is one of the best cases for common descent. This is probably a result of the extra interest among scientists concerning human evolution.

    Even creationists and students sympathetic to ID ought to be taught the best argument for Darwinism so that if they want to argue against it they do so against the best scenario the opposition has to offer. Otherwise, those supportive of traditional Darwinism will sense a straw man argument and end up being inoculated against further, more refined and honest arguments.

    Some careless creationists in the ’80s made this mistake causing further, more compelling arguments to be dismissed before being further evaluated.

    Human evolution, being taught, does inform students of a lot of ideas that are not necessarily against ID or even creationism. Presumably even creationists (most of them) will concede that homo erectus did exist as some kind of now-extinct species. Students can be presented with the fact of the bones (or lack thereof) and they can make their own conclusions. My hope is that teachers will present evolution’s best arguments but not endeavor to indoctrinate students. Maybe that is a fine line, but it can be done, and is the honest way to go about it.

  9. O’Leary asks:

    “Why should human evolution be taught in school?”

    As opposed to what?

  10. O’Leary is spot on.

    Schools have limited budgets and due to attention span and other distractions in their lives, students have a finite number of “teachable moments”. Yet why is a course in evolution required for graduation from many schools, while other math and science courses, having far greater obvious utility, are optional?

    The answer is simple. The one really great utility of the evolution class, is that it functions as a catechism for naturalism. It is the “creation myth” for the current popular religion of our culture.

    Like any good catechism course, what truly matters is that it is required. Otherwise, instead of being indoctrinated into believing that their existence is a mindless accident, young impressionable mights might wonder if maybe the apparent design were intact the result of a a real design. And we all know where that might lead…….It might even lead to the worst of all possible outcomes, they might become IDers. Horrors!!!

  11. O’Leary is spot on.

    Schools have limited budgets and students have a finite number of “teachable moments” due to attention span and other distractions in their lives. Yet why is a course in evolution required for graduation from many schools, while other math and science courses, having far greater obvious utility, are optional?

    The answer is simple. The one really great utility of the evolution class, is that it functions as a catechism for naturalism. It is the “creation myth” for the current popular religion of our culture.

    Like any good catechism course, what truly matters is that it is required. Otherwise, instead of being indoctrinated into believing that their existence is a mindless accident, young impressionable minds might wonder if maybe the apparent design were infect the result of a a real design. And we all know where that might lead………..It might even lead to the worst of all possible outcomes, they might become IDers. Horrors!!!

  12. Evolution is the theory underlying all of biology, at least according to my son’s biology textbook (co-authored by Ken Miller). Organic evolution is the theory that the first living organism developed from lifeless matter. Then it reproduced and, it is said, changed (by means of random mutations and natural selection) into different kinds of living things, eventually producing all forms of plant and animal life that has ever existed on Earth. All of this is said to have been done without the need of supernatural intervention by a Creator.

    Evolution is taught because, right now, it is all that can be taught without overtly (or subtly) climbing the wall of separation between church and state. By narrowly defining science as that which can be observed and tested via the scientific method, evolution is the only game in town as far as scientists and educators are concerned.

    While highly educated people might believe evolution to be true, it should be noted that not all agree. The difference might be best explained by motive, but this is never covered in textbooks. Viewing scientists as a group and not criticizing them individually, which group would likely be more honest – those who believe in creation and feel accountable to God, or those who believe they are products of chance and are accountable only to themselves?

    Everyone should examine the evidence for themselves and determine what they should believe – evolution or creation.

  13. Barb,

    I don’t know where in Ken Miller’s book it says that this was done without a Creator. In fact, it is fairly dispassionate, with statements like “Scientists have proposed a hypothesis…” and then considering the underlying issues and assumptions.

    I’m not sure why omitting the proposed driving force: is inherently wrong, be it design, creation, or natural processes. You are correct that if he said: Pros and Cons of God and drew up a chart, that the textbook would never be published.

    Btw, Is your statement “subtly climbing the wall of separation of Church and State” a dig against ID? Seems like a Dover-era caricature.

  14. Barb-sorry if that was a bit strong. But I think it leaves ID open for attacks such as #2 and #6.

    I should also mention that my perspective is that of ID, with front-loading and limited common descent (such as Behe’s species-orders). Random mutation is not the process of biological change.

    As for #1-I do have a design based research proposal. It has been proposed by Darwinists that an evolutionary mistake has occurred-that our mutation (genetic entropy) versus breeding rate is out of line, and that we will accumulate deleterious mutations, and go extinct. One might emotionally ask why a designer would allow this-but that is not the question to ask.

    Here is the question:
    Whatever genetic mechanism allows for the persistence of design PAST this edge cannot be evolved by natural means-it would have no utility until that point at which it is needed, the very same point at which the species has gone extinct. It cannot be selected for, or evolved. It is quite distinct from normal DNA repair mechanisms-those are in place, and yet we accumulate mutations. Find it, and there is your firm evidence against evolution, and for front-loading.

    References:
    Malarz K.
    The risk of extinction – the mutational meltdown or the overpopulation.
    Theory Biosci. 2007 Apr;125(2):147-56
    Eyre-Walker A, Keightley PD: High genomic deleterious mutation rates in hominids. Nature 1999;397:344-347.
    Crow JF: The odds of losing at genetic roulette. Nature1999;397:293-294.
    Müller HJ: Our load of mutations. Am J Hum Genet1950;2:111-176. 4
    Cummins J: Evolutionary forces behind human infer-tility. Nature 397;557-558.

    Oh, and we need not wait for humans to go extinct. Other organisms seem appropriate:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:80.....dinalpos=7

  15. Darwin’s take on the biological development of organisms is required reading for the simple reason that there is a certain segment of the human population that sees religion as the root of conflict.

    What is the litany of grievances against religious intolerance? The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, Islamic Fundamentalisms, Christian Fundamentalism; just a few in a long list I imagine.

    It seems the goal is to condition children as early as possible to help wean them off the religious breast (for want of a more original phrase, I beg your pardon).

    Note how the strawman argument goes:

    religion=irrational=unstable=conflict; secular=rational=stable=harmony.

    So viewing evolution through Darwinian spectacles is one of the pillars, which this secular tradition rests upon.

    IMO, the main reason Neo-Darwinism aka The Modern Synthesis (soon to be revised as The Extended Modern Synthesis I hear-TEMOS sounds like a good enough acronym) is being fought in the courts is that the more it is defending in public discourse (debates between ID and ND) the more ND loses its appeal as a rational collection of concepts.

    Note this is not lost on props of ND either- hence the preemptive attempts to deflect attention to the irrationality of ND on such sites as PT – see the latest installment that tags religiously minded folks with having a tortucan mentality.

    Yet ironically, propping up the TMS is a classic case of tortucanism. Hence the gargantuan proportions and complexity of the mish mash collection of concepts-all observations are compatible with Darwinian processes. There isn’t an observation that ND couldn’t handle!

    So it seems The TMS is this big behemoth being crushed under the weight of its own hedge bets. And lo and behold its being fed even more!

    Folks, just make sure you are not near the crash site. And take preventive measures against the tsunamis and earthquakes sure to follow.

    Why is human evolution, in its actual present state, compulsorily taught in schools? Why are people going to court in order to force the teaching?

  16. Barb @ 10

    Organic evolution is the theory that the first living organism developed from lifeless matter.

    If that is what Miller actually claims in the textbook then I would have to disagree.

    The theory of evolution is an attempt to describe and explain how life on Earth changed and diversified after it had appeared.

    Abiogenesis is the field of research trying to establish if and how life could have emerged from non-living matter.

    The two fields are clearly and closely linked but that does not mean they are the same.

  17. Seversky,

    The question is, once life did establish itself (say 2.7 Billion years ago), when did natural selection take over the day-to-day management of biological develepment? How did selection affect the non sexually reproducing organisms at that time?

    As well, moving down the chronological scale to say 1.8 billion years ago, how did competitive pressure way in on these early organisms resulting in endo-symbiosis?

    Rather, a dichotomy between abiogenesis and moleculary evolution is purposefully being asserted to avoid the hard questions of explaining the transitional phases of evolution.

    Treating phases of evolution as separate events solves the logical, rational dilemma but ultimately deprives us of understanding the whole system.

  18. camanintx asks “As opposed to what?”

    As opposed to not covering the origin and prehistoric development of life at all.

    Dropping the topic of life’s origin and prehistoric development would change very little in the teaching of biology. Students can still learn the observable and repeatably testable characteristics of biological systems.

    This all strikes to the heart of why we need a First Amendment; not to keep a certain secular vision in power, but to keep those who want to win at all costs from running to the government to get a bigger megaphone. In former times, different churches vied to be the ‘official church’ at the expense of everyone else’s, and so our Founding Fathers sought to avert that by prohibiting the Congress from taking part in the debate.

    But now we have several issues of public controversy, and in each case the contestants are looking to the government to back them up. So with evolution, also with AGW, gay marriage, etc.

    Unless and until someone explains (and does not, as some do, merely assert) how a knowledge of evolution is needful in order to understand the Krebs cycle, or population dynamics, then I’m all for dropping the subject of life’s origins and prehistoric development entirely from the curriculum.

    As for privately-funded schools, let those who pay those pipers call the tune.

    Don’t say, “God did it.” Don’t say, “Darwin did it.” Say, “The topic is a matter of public controversy. Therefore it cannot be taught in our public schools.”

  19. Why are people going to court in order to force the teaching [of human evolution]?

    Just as a factual matter, (1) is the question about human evolution (sorry, but the sentence is unclear so I thought I should check)? (2) what examples are there of people going to court to force the teaching of evolution.

    If the answer to Q1 is “no”, Q2 is moot, naturally.

  20. Rather, a dichotomy between abiogenesis and moleculary evolution is purposefully being asserted to avoid the hard questions of explaining the transitional phases of evolution.
    Treating phases of evolution as separate events solves the logical, rational dilemma but ultimately deprives us of understanding the whole system.

    What about applying a similar reasoning to the universe? We learned quote a lot even before we discovered the universe wasn’t steady state but had a beginning and is ‘evolving’.

  21. O’Leary

    facts that were not under dispute and unlikely to change in the lifetime of anyone present.

    That humans evolved is not under dispute. That will never change. The specific details might, as more information is uncovered over time but the fact will remain that humans evolved. The fact remains, and will never change, that man and ape have a common ancestor.

    So why not teach it? How would you go about explaining origins in a science class? Say nothing? Why say nothing when there are indisputable facts available?

    ID has nothing to offer in that class. The bible has more details regarding the origin of life then ID does.

  22. Oramus @ 15

    Rather, a dichotomy between abiogenesis and moleculary evolution is purposefully being asserted to avoid the hard questions of explaining the transitional phases of evolution.

    Treating phases of evolution as separate events solves the logical, rational dilemma but ultimately deprives us of understanding the whole system.

    Reductionism has been given a bad name but breaking a complex problem down into its component parts can still be a productive approach.

    Obviously, the ultimate goal is to able to explain in detail the entire sequence of events that led from basic chemicals to living creatures like ourselves, if that is in fact what happened.

    That does not prevent science from focusing more narrowly on different sections of that sequence, such that knowledge is built up incrementally, or from teaching those bits of knowledge in schools that have been established with a high degree of confidence.

    15

    Oramus

    01/17/2010

    2:35 am

    Seversky,

    The question is, once life did establish itself (say 2.7 Billion years ago), when did natural selection take over the day-to-day management of biological develepment? How did selection affect the non sexually reproducing organisms at that time?

    As well, moving down the chronological scale to say 1.8 billion years ago, how did competitive pressure way in on these early organisms resulting in endo-symbiosis?

    Rather, a dichotomy between abiogenesis and moleculary evolution is purposefully being asserted to avoid the hard questions of explaining the transitional phases of evolution.

    Treating phases of evolution as separate events solves the logical, rational dilemma but ultimately deprives us of understanding the whole system.

  23. EvilSnack @ 16

    Don’t say, “God did it.” Don’t say, “Darwin did it.” Say, “The topic is a matter of public controversy. Therefore it cannot be taught in our public schools.”

    It may be a matter of public controversy but it is not a matter of scientific controversy. While there is still vigorous debate and research in many areas, it would be false to suggest we have learned nothing that could be properly taught to public school students.

    The public controversy has arisen because some tenets and findings of evolutionary theory contradict the religious beliefs, primarily, of young-Earth creationists. If they wish to deny their children access to that information in their churches and private schools then, unfortunately, that is their prerogative. However, that does not give them the right to deny it in public schools to students who do not share those beliefs.

  24. backwards me:

    That humans evolved is not under dispute.

    Humans evolving from humans isn’t disputed.

    Evolved from what and how are under dispute.

    The fact remains, and will never change, that man and ape have a common ancestor.

    That is not a fact by any definition of the word.

    It is pure speculation and cannot be tested.

    The bible has more details regarding the origin of life then ID does.

    The ToE doesn’t offer anything for th OoL.

    Biology should be taught in biology classroooms, not speculative musings on the past.

    That said if we ever get some biological evidence that the transformations required are possible, by all means present it.

  25. Seversky:

    The public controversy has arisen because some tenets and findings of evolutionary theory contradict the religious beliefs, primarily, of young-Earth creationists.

    Actually the public controversy arose beacuse the public can understand speculative BS when they see it.

    IOW if scientists had solid scientific data the public would accept it.

  26. backwards me:

    The trouble is, and I understand if you don’t realise this, it’s you that wants to bring your particular brand of speculative musings into the classroom.

    Now you are just making things up- or perhaps taht is all yopu have been doing.

    The reality based community has assessed your claims and found them wanting.

    It is obvious that you do not belong to said community. And neither do any evolutionists.

    You have failed to make your case.

    The data has made it for me.

    Hopwever you have failed to support the claims of your position.

    That said if we ever get some biological evidence that the transformations required are possible, by all means present it.

    carrys no weight.

    Yes I understand that facts don’t carry any weight with losers like yourself.

    It is pure speculation and cannot be tested.

    That man and ape are related?

    Don’t ask for help you intellectual coward.

    Support the premise or admit that you cannot.

  27. How can we test the premise that humans “evolved” from knuckle-walkers via an accumulation of genetic accidents OR an accidental shifting of developmental processes?

    Let the flailing and hand-waving begin-

    (cue Final Jeopardy musak)

  28. backwards me-

    Stay on topic-

    Just sayin- that is if you want to hang around…

  29. 29

    h.pesoj at 26,

    Any chance of sorting *that list* by biological complexity? CSI? FSCI?

    As an item on that list, I propose sorting it by “Most Entertaining When Dropped In Someone’s Trousers.”

    Ferret legging is so last century.

  30. Cabal:

    We learned quote a lot even before we discovered the universe wasn’t steady state but had a beginning and is ‘evolving’.

    1- The Creationists were the only group to predict the universe had a beginning

    2- How can the universe be “evolving” when it doesn’t reproduce?

  31. Joseph:

    How can we test the premise that humans “evolved” from knuckle-walkers via an accumulation of genetic accidents OR an accidental shifting of developmental processes?

    If humans evolved from knuckle-draggers, why are there still knuckledraggers?

  32. efren ts,

    Thank you for proving my point.

    How can we test the premise that humans “evolved” from knuckle-walkers via an accumulation of genetic accidents OR an accidental shifting of developmental processes?

    You say:

    If humans evolved from knuckle-draggers, why are there still knuckledraggers?

    That has nothing to do with what I asked, however-

    Because there is a niche for them to occupy.

  33. EvilSnack, #16

    “camanintx asks “As opposed to what?”

    As opposed to not covering the origin and prehistoric development of life at all.

    Dropping the topic of life’s origin and prehistoric development would change very little in the teaching of biology. Students can still learn the observable and repeatably testable characteristics of biological systems.”
    ————————————
    One could also teach chemistry without atomic theory but it wouldn’t make much sense would it?

  34. Joseph,

    Could you define “accidental shifting of developmental processes?” Are you proposing it as an ID alternative, or part of the Darwinist explanation? Just curious…

    Also, what is your take on hominid fossils? Are they intermediates, or just human or ape?

  35. Joseph,

    As I understand it, some physicists were originally reluctant to accept the Big Bang because of its religious implications. Sound familiar. It seems to me that physicists, as a rule, though, are less anti-religion than biologists.

  36. Colin,
    I’m not sure what physicists you mean. Monsignor Lemaître was a Catholic priest.

    Interestingly, Hoyle, to whom you might be referring, for his rejection of the Big Bang on the basis of a creator, has been quoted many times on this blog. He is Mr. “tornado in a junkyard” himself. He advocated panspermia, and evolution guided not by natural processes, but by a constant influx of viruses from space.

    “If one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of…[”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F.....e_Big_Bang

    Maybe a reminder that ID can encompass many opions.

  37. h.pesoj,

    Sorry to hear that if it true. I’m just trying to get a feel for the different variants of ID. There seems to be a creationist undercurrent, and moderates (like myself) that accept limited descent.

    It seems to me the issue with the former is that if all things are designed, then how is design detected against a background of design rather than non-design?

    On the other hand, if some design features are detectable (from a guiding hand, or even rapid change without a precursor from Hoyle’s extraterrestrial viruses) against a background of non-design, this should be experimentally do-able, See my proposal above.

  38. Personally I think that a rebuke of Joseph for his personal attacks on other posters is in order– eg. “loser,” etc. It would give me some faith in the mods of this site that they don’t give ID supporters a pass.

  39. Joseph,

    Don’t ask for help you intellectual coward.

    I’m afraid this qualifies you for moderation.

  40. REC: “I don’t know where in Ken Miller’s book it says that this was done without a Creator. In fact, it is fairly dispassionate, with statements like “Scientists have proposed a hypothesis…” and then considering the underlying issues and assumptions.”

    And

    Seversky: “Organic evolution is the theory that the first living organism developed from lifeless matter.
    If that is what Miller actually claims in the textbook then I would have to disagree.”

    No, that is not what Miller claims. Miller’s claim is only the first sentence of my post; the definition of organic evolution is well parroted by Darwinists everywhere.

    “Btw, Is your statement “subtly climbing the wall of separation of Church and State” a dig against ID? Seems like a Dover-era caricature.”

    It is, because that has been the fundamental driving force against ID: the argument that it is inherently religious. I don’t necessarily agree with that argument, but it’s partly why evolution is currently being taught in schools.

  41. REC:

    Could you define “accidental shifting of developmental processes?”

    Evo-devo- it’s not new genes it is using the same genes differently- a shifting of developmental processes.

    Also, what is your take on hominid fossils?

    Could be examples of phenotypic plasticity- even devolution.

  42. Clive,

    I agree.

    I will just say-again- that h.pesoj is my name spelled backwards and it is here just to antagonize.

  43. Retro,

    How are you for someone creating a temporary false identity for the inherent purpose of offending a poster here?

    (a purely rhetorical question, of course)

  44. Joseph,

    I agree with you, that’s why he/she/it is no longer with us.

  45. Why is human evolution, in its actual present state, compulsorily taught in schools?

    Because teachers are taught that in doing so they are teaching science, even though it isn’t.

    Why are people going to court in order to force the teaching?

    Because school children must be taught that their parents are wrong anytime they question the state or the scientific priesthood. (It’s for their own benefit, of course.)

    Teachers should teach David Stove’s Darwinian Fairytales.

  46. Joseph,

    1- The Creationists were the only group to predict the universe had a beginning

    2- How can the universe be “evolving” when it doesn’t reproduce?

    1. Right, the creation myths describe a created steady state universe. Once universally accepted, that cosmology has been replaced, from Copernicus via Hoyle to Hawking.

    2. You might want to call it continued design instead of ‘evolution’. The fact however remains, the universe is far from static. Galaxies are breeding new solar systems and planets. Who knows, someday some of them may even evolve life…

  47. 47
    William J. Murray

    Human evolution should be taught in schools because it is the fundamental framework necessary to successfully inculcate a subtext of atheist, materialist and determinist ideology in our youth.

    Such an ideology is open to extreme relativism, which makes for a population that is pliable to governmental and social programming because of the lack of any unchanging, binding transcendent values that prevent relativist redirections and redefinitions.

    That ideology eliminates any source of responsibility or authority other than the state and its programming arm, “science”. After the state has convinced the population that science and service to the state are the only sources of authority or responsibility, and has undermined or eliminated all competing sources, it can then manipulate the population to do as it wishes simply by establishing a scientific mandate or presenting convenient scientific “facts”.

    The only thing that stands between a state and fascism is the willingness of the population to set aside personal responsibility and authority and accept the word of the state ; belief in materialist human evolution facilitates that process.

  48. Seversky @ 23:

    There most certainly is scientific controversy about Darwinism.

    Take abiogenesis. The question of whether it has happened is a scientific question. Some of us say yes, and some say no. Those who affirm it have yet to demonstrate it. Sure, they have tossed some chemicals together and have gotten other chemicals in return, but that is far from proving that life could have arisen from non-life, let alone proving that it actually did so arise.

    Surely, if one side says that an unproven scientific conclusion remains unproven, then there still is scientific controversy.

    Furthermore, yes, the fact of a public controversy, even if one side is utterly lacking in scientific merit, does indeed justify removing the topic from our public schools. Even if the anti-evolutionists were the ignorant, misinformed, Bible-thumping, science-hating bumpkins that liberal ideology seems to require them to be, it would still be a violation of their rights to use the taxes they are forced to pay to propagate ideas with which they disagree.

  49. Caminintx@ 33:
    “One could also teach chemistry without atomic theory but it wouldn’t make much sense would it?”

    You analogy is invalid. I can demonstrate how an understanding of atomic theory greatly facilitates an understanding of the chemical properties of carbon (or any other element). You cannot demonstrate how an understanding of Darwinism facilitates understanding of, say, the Krebs cycle, population dynamics, or any of dozens of topics within biology. You can, as many do, assert that Darwinism is helpful, but that assertion is notoriously lacking in proof.

  50. EvilSnack: Sure, they have tossed some chemicals together and have gotten other chemicals in return, but that is far from proving that life could have arisen from non-life, let alone proving that it actually did so arise.

    Either life arose from non-life or life has existed for all eternity. Conditions hypothesized for the Big Bang tend to suggest the former.

  51. Cabal:

    1. Right, the creation myths describe a created steady state universe.

    The Bible states there was a beginning.

    The Bible also says something about stretching out- meaning the universe was not static.

  52. Tom MH-

    Life could very well be a fundamental entity- along with matter, energy and information.

    Living organisms arise when those for come together in one unit.

  53. 48-Funny you bring up the Kreb’s cycle

    Either common descent, or a non-Darwinian early Horizontal gene transfer seems important to understanding its conservation (or conserved design)? It is also a common subject in abiogenesis studies:

    http://www.springerlink.com/co.....3786p6896/

    The Darwinists argue for a sequential evolution of the parts, with natural reactions serving in the place of the “unevolved” bits. I would favor the HGT of acquired functions-again, acting in a plug-and-play mode.

    I would suggest that on topics like this, the components of what is believed to be evolutionary theory be broken out. Common descent has been argued for here in recent topics. Limited variation within species, or microevolution is almost universally accepted. Behe accepts species to order evolution. I think abiogenesis (which may or may not be core to evolution) and pure naturalism are sticking spots. Maybe we should come up with a list to clarify. I think Joseph, or someone, did so at their blog.

  54. joseph: Life could very well be a fundamental entity- along with matter, energy and information.

    Living organisms arise when those for come together in one unit.

    Do you have an example of something that is alive that is not a living organism?

  55. REC @4:
    Were the students before 1950 irrevocable harmed? Probably not. Their studies may have even primed them to understand the revolutionary nature of plate tectonics … Likewise, it seems a lot to teach ID based on ATP-synthase, orphan ORFs, against a prevailing theory. What would a fourth grade geology teacher do in 1930?

    Perhaps this shows how evolution and its specific explanations should be taught: with less dogmatism and more humility. If my fourth-grade geology teacher told me that plate tectonics was not the accepted theory, oh well. If he insisted that it was unquestionable “settled science”, or if he got reprimanded for mentioning a newer theory, then someone would look pretty foolish right now.
    A science teacher who doesn’t understand that accepted theories can be replaced shouldn’t be teaching science. One who does should stick to teaching what is presently understood but humbly realize that science is an ongoing discovery of knowledge, not the preservation of enshrined dogma.

  56. Life could very well be a fundamental entity- along with matter, energy and information.

    Living organisms arise when those for come together in one unit.

    Tom MH:

    Do you have an example of something that is alive that is not a living organism?

    What do you mean by “alive”?

  57. EvilSnack @ 48

    There most certainly is scientific controversy about Darwinism.

    There is no controversy within biology about whether evolution has occurred. There is, however, vigorous debate about exactly how it happens.

    Take abiogenesis. The question of whether it has happened is a scientific question.

    The theory of evolution, whether as originally proposed by Darwin or in its present form, says nothing about how life might have originated. It deals only with how it changed and diversified after it had appeared.

    Abiogenesis is a separate field of research which is investigating the question of the origin of life. There is, as yet, no Theory of Abiogenesis but that deficiency in no way undermines evolution. They are two separate, albeit related, fields.

    Surely, if one side says that an unproven scientific conclusion remains unproven, then there still is scientific controversy.

    Science is not about proof, it is about things like observation, data, description, explanation and testing. Theories are not etched in tablets of stone like a set of commandments. They are living, growing entities and what is taught in schools is the current state of play not some ultimate truth.

    Nor should the students religious beliefs be harmed in any way. Unlike those religious institutions which demand signed affirmations of faith from their staff and students, there is no requirement that students in science classes believe in evolution, only that they understand it. It is the same as if I were to study the tenets of your religion. I could learn about it and come to understand it without necessarily having to believe it.

    Furthermore, yes, the fact of a public controversy, even if one side is utterly lacking in scientific merit, does indeed justify removing the topic from our public schools.

    That is a poor criterion since it would mean that any group which wanted some subject excluded from the public school curriculum would only have to manufacture some controversy about it. In effect, you would be handing power to militants and extremists over what is taught in school .

    Even if the anti-evolutionists were the ignorant, misinformed, Bible-thumping, science-hating bumpkins that liberal ideology seems to require them to be, it would still be a violation of their rights to use the taxes they are forced to pay to propagate ideas with which they disagree.

    There is no individual right to decide how tax dollars are allocated so no right that could be violated. I happen to disagree with the substantial tax breaks granted to religions but I have no right to insist that they pay the same taxes as everyone else. That power rests with the legislature.

  58. UB @43:

    I’m against that too, of course, and the mods should discipline that person just as they rightfully disciplined Joseph. I am in favor of civil discourse across the board.

  59. joseph:

    Life could very well be a fundamental entity- along with matter, energy and information.

    Tom MH:

    Do you have an example of something that is alive that is not a living organism?

    joseph:

    What do you mean by “alive”?

    Perhaps my intent was unclear. We can measure the matter and energy in a living creature (or any physical object), and we can measure the information content of a message or an algorithm, and all three properties are governed by well-understood principles. You have asserted the existence of an additional fundamental entity that you call “life”. I was trying to understand what you think this additional property is.

  60. Seversky:

    Everything I said about abiogenesis can be said about macroevolution. It has never been observed, not even once. The fact that an establishment has built up around it, and that this establishment denies that there is any controversy, in no way disproves that there is such controversy.

    Furthermore, in our public schools, evolution is not presented merely as a theory that scientists have developed to explain the present variety of life. It is presented as a conclusively proven fact, as something that definitely did happen.

    It is reported here and in other places that certain educators, upon being revealed as skeptical of Darwinism, have been denied tenure and/or employment, even in cases where the educator in question does not teach biology. The proof that there is an establishment, set upon having Darwinism accepted without regard to its actual relationship to reality, is stronger than the proof for Darwinism ever was.

    That is a poor criterion since it would mean that any group which wanted some subject excluded from the public school curriculum would only have to manufacture some controversy about it. In effect, you would be handing power to militants and extremists over what is taught in school .

    It takes more than a handful of militants and extremists to manufacture a controversy. And given the number of subjects over which there is no controversy, much of the public school curriculum would be untouched, including the vast majority of things taught in biology.

    But even if it did result in the government being unable to operate any system of publicly-funded education, so what? Our public schools are over-priced, under-performing, and incompatible with the principles that underlie a free republic.

  61. Tom MH,

    Life it what separates living organims from inanimate objects.

    Ya see inanimate objects contain matter, energy and can contain large amounts of specified information.

  62. joseph

    Life it what separates living organims from inanimate objects.

    Ya see inanimate objects contain matter, energy and can contain large amounts of specified information.

    I agree that there is a difference between inanimate objects and living organisms. You have asserted that it is due to a fundamental entity called “life”, comparable to matter, energy, and information. The latter three can be measured; what is the measurement of “life”? How has it’s existence been independently confirmed?

  63. Tom MH:

    what is the measurement of “life”?

    metabolism, reproduction- and whatever else differentiates living organisms from non-living matter.

    How has it’s existence been independently confirmed?

    Yes it’s exietence has been observed- we have observed that living organisms are different than inanimate objects.

  64. Yes it’s exietence has been observed- we have observed that living organisms are different than inanimate objects

    No, it’s independent existence has not been observed. There is no evidence of an élan vital that can be separated from living beings and which explains their ability to metabolize, grow, respond to the environment, and reproduce. Likewise their is no élan democratie that causes Americans to vote, or élan oenophilia that causes Parisians to drink wine. You are engaging in epistemological fallacies.

    Occam’s razor demands that we not multiply entities beyond necessity. Your four entities (matter, energy, information, and life) are therefore reduced to three (matter, energy, and information — the latter specifically being the genetic code). They and their arrangement are sufficient to distinguish living organisms from inanimate matter.

    Life originated from non-life, and that is true whether you are an IDer or not. Thus the information in the orignal genetic code likewise originated from inanimate matter. If you wish to contend that the original genetic code is the product of intelligence, then you must address this conundrum. Intelligence as we know it originates from living beings (no plays from Shakespeare since his death). What inanimate intelligence created life?

  65. Tom MH,

    A dead person has the same chemical make-up as a living person.

    That alone says life is not reducible to chemistry.

    There isn’t any evidence that living organisms can be reduced to matter, energy and information.

    As I said a dead organism has those three but is not alive.

    Life originated from non-life, and that is true whether you are an IDer or not.

    How do you know its true?

    The designer could be life.

    You don’t have any idea.

    If you wish to contend that the original genetic code is the product of intelligence, then you must address this conundrum.

    Your strawman is not a conundrum.

    That you think it is amuses me.

  66. My computer is made up of matter, energy and information- is it alive Tom?

    Stonehenge is also made up of matter, energy and information- yet it is not alive.

    IOW Tom it appears that your premise is faulty- just look around.

  67. joseph, your élan vital hypothesis has been discredited for a century. If that is the basis of your scientific reasoning then I can see why you are so confused about biology and evolution.

    A human being is a complex organism, and even though an individual is dead, the cells and even organs of that individual can still be alive. Or did you think transplanted organs were obtained via vivisection?

    A dead person has the same chemical make-up as a living person.

    You are embarrassing yourself. How do we tell if a person is dead or not, then? Do we have élan vital-o-meters that are used to sense its presence or absence? Do we use astral radars to register the departure of the soul from the body?? Or do we determine death from the cessation of metabolic, respiratory, and neurological functions — complex phenomena that can be measured and do not depend on the behaviours of an unknown and un-described quint-essence that no one has ever detected or measured?

    There isn’t any evidence that living organisms can be reduced to matter, energy and information.

    All three can be measured for living organisms. Did you wish to add additional entities? Then you must show their necessity (the neutrino is needed to conserve spin) and demonstrate their existence (the neutrino has been detected via painstakingly difficult observations). Élan vital is neither needed (other than to rescue you fom a conclusion you are unwilling to face) nor has been detected. Science has stacked it over in the corner with phlogiston, the aether, and witch-craft. You would do well to abandon voodoo masquerading as science.

  68. Tom MH:

    joseph, your élan vital hypothesis has been discredited for a century.

    I don’t have such a hypothesis.

    A human being is a complex organism, and even though an individual is dead, the cells and even organs of that individual can still be alive.

    True but not forever.

    All the cells will die eventually.

    A dead person has the same chemical make-up as a living person.

    You are embarrassing yourself.

    Only by trying to have a discussion with you.

    We have ways to tell if a person is dead.

    What is your problem?

    There isn’t any evidence that living organisms can be reduced to matter, energy and information.

    All three can be measured for living organisms.

    Talk about embarrasing!

    Just because theose three can be measured does not mean living organisms are reducible to them.

    And just because we cannot measure “life” yet doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    We have detected it. It has been observed in living organisms and not inanimate objects.

    Inanimate objects can contain matter, energy and informatuion yet are not alive.

    Thank you for ignoring that part- it exposes your agenda.

    Heck we can’t measure anything in the theory of evolution so by your “logic” it is totally nonsense.

  69. Can we measure rates of reproduction?

    That is one measurement for life- inanimate objects do not reproduce.

  70. Mr Joseph,

    That is one measurement for life- inanimate objects do not reproduce.

    Don’t tell that to rust, salt crystals, etc. Prions, anyone?

  71. Nakashima-san,

    Don’t talk to rust. People will have you committed.

    The same goes for salt.

    BTW neither reproduces.

    Prions don’t reproduce- all that happens is the misshaped protein comes in contact with its “sister” (normal) protein and changes the sister’s shape.

  72. Tom MH: your élan vital hypothesis has been discredited for a century.

    joseph: I don’t have such a hypothesis.

    And yet earlier you claimed:

    joseph: Life could very well be a fundamental entity- along with matter, energy and information.

    Living organisms arise when those for come together in one unit.

    So yes, you do have such a hypothesis.

    Per your argument, a living organism contains an entity called “life” while a dead organism (or inanimate object) does not. No such entity has ever been detected; claiming that you detect it by observing that living things live is absurdly tautological. Epistemology FAIL. That is why the élan vital hypothesis was rejected by science a century ago. You’ve retrieved it from the junkyard to serve your rhetoric. It serves nothing in science.

  73. Mr Joseph,

    Don’t talk to rust. People will have you committed.

    Too late – I’ve already been told that I am a committed materialist! :)

  74. Tom MH-

    Per your argument, a living organism contains an entity called “life” while a dead organism (or inanimate object) does not.

    Per my argument the same information, chemicals, matter and energy are in a dead person that are in a living person- yet there is a huge difference between someone who is alive and soneone who is dead.

    And yes that has been observed- ie detected.

    Also it has been detected that living organisms are different than inanimate objects.

    Computers have matter, energy and information yet are not alive.

    That alone says there is something else- so it has been detected.

    As for someone rejecting my hypothesis- that is fine yet it should be known that no one has been able to reduce living organisms to matter, energy and information.

    IOW my hypothesis is rejected “just because”.

    And doing that serves nothing in anything.

    But anyway Tom, what does your position have?

    I say it serves nothing in science and it bothers you that you cannot demonstrate otherwise.

  75. joseph: Per my argument the same information, chemicals, matter and energy are in a dead person that are in a living person- yet there is a huge difference between someone who is alive and soneone who is dead.

    And yes that has been observed- ie detected.

    No one is disputing the difference between the living and the dead. However, it seems to be your contention that this difference is due to a fundamental entity called “life” that animates living beings and creates the essential difference. This is the élan vital hypothesis, and it does not possess the epynomous quality. It died a century ago due to its central vacuity.

    I would be interested to know if the ID community at large likewise asserts this fallacy. Is it commonly held here that “life” is a fundamental entity comparable to matter and energy?

  76. Tom MH,

    You are embarrassing yourself…..Epistemology FAIL.

    You’ve been moderated.

  77. Tom MH,

    Per your argument, a living organism contains an entity called “life” while a dead organism (or inanimate object) does not. No such entity has ever been detected; claiming that you detect it by observing that living things live is absurdly tautological. Epistemology FAIL. That is why the élan vital hypothesis was rejected by science a century ago. You’ve retrieved it from the junkyard to serve your rhetoric. It serves nothing in science.

    And I suppose that love is only a biochemical action, and beauty some trick of nerves, and everything else reduced down to the movement of space dust that exploded after the Big Bang and came back together as you and me. You can’t physically quantify your philosophy, so by your criterion it doesn’t exist.

  78. Nakashima,

    Too late – I’ve already been told that I am a committed materialist!

    You are no different than rust if you are a committed materialist, you’re a box of fireworks talking to other boxes of fireworks, and some of them might very well be rusty.

  79. It died a century ago due to its central vacuity. . . .Is it commonly held here that “life” is a fundamental entity comparable to matter and energy?

    What died a century or so ago was spontaneous generation or that matter and energy create “life”. The working biological assumption is that only life can create life.

  80. Why should human evolution be taught in school? Well, a lot of people believe it and this belief is objectively influential on the culture of the West and the world in general.

    Of course, this leads us to the question, granted an U.S.-centric one, as to why shouldn’t the Bible be taught in school?

  81. Tom MH,

    You keep saying elan vital- can you point me to that hypothesis- wikipedia’s entry doesn’t say that much and it doesn’t support your contention.

    And how could it die a century ago in the midst of biological ignorance?

  82. Back to the topic-

    Can human evolution from some knuckle-walker be measured?

    If it cannot then according to Tom MH it isn’t science.

  83. Mr Hayden,

    You are no different than rust if you are a committed materialist, you’re a box of fireworks talking to other boxes of fireworks, and some of them might very well be rusty.

    Well, I knew a guy called Rusty, but he was pretty smart!

    I’d like to think I am more organized than rust, but then I look at my desk and realize that is hubris.

    Cherry blossoms are popular in Japan as a symbol for the brevity and impermanence of life, but fireworks is also good. Thank you.

  84. Mr Tribune7,

    What died a century or so ago was spontaneous generation or that matter and energy create “life”.

    I think Mr Tom MH was referring to the synthesis of urea, an organic material, from completely inorganic chemicals. This was taken as a refutation of the idea that living matter was somehow different than non-living matter.

    To Mr Joseph’s position:

    Per my argument the same information, chemicals, matter and energy are in a dead person that are in a living person- yet there is a huge difference between someone who is alive and soneone who is dead.

    The answer is entropy. The dead object, an amoeba for example, does not have the same entropy as the living one. It was in a far from equilibrium state and maintaining itself there, now it is descending towards equilibrium with its environment.

    Since the amoeba was probably in thermal equilibrium (since it is so small) we have to look for chemical or informational entropy. All the ATP was used up, and not replaced, so the arrangement and enrgy levels of the molecules are different between living and dead.

  85. Mr Hayden,

    And I suppose that love is only a biochemical action, and beauty some trick of nerves,

    This can be answered in two words, “beer goggles”! ;)

    But seriously, I think that if you look at research on the chemical architecture of the human mind by scientists such as Thomas Ray you would find support for those notions.

  86. Nakashima,

    But seriously, I think that if you look at research on the chemical architecture of the human mind by scientists such as Thomas Ray you would find support for those notions.

    But seriously, I think if you look at just one argument against that philosophical position you would find that these notions cannot be supported.

  87. Nakashima,

    Cherry blossoms are popular in Japan as a symbol for the brevity and impermanence of life, but fireworks is also good. Thank you.

    Except my reference to a box of fireworks isn’t a symbol, it’s reality with a materialist. And I know you’re not in Japan, so please don’t use the charade of Japanese obfuscation with me.

  88. Last I checked urea wasn’t alive.

    My position does not say that organic molecules cannot arise from inorganic elements.

    IOW if that is what Tom MH is saying then he is attacking a strawman.

  89. Mr Hayden,

    Lewis says:

    We do not know in advance whether the lover or the psychologist is giving the more correct account of love, or whether both accounts are equally correct in different ways, or whether both are equally wrong.

    I’m willing to grant a reality to the inner experience of people, the “looking along the sunbeam”of Lewis’ essay. Do you similarly grant a reality to the “looking at”, external view of the same experiences? Lewis’ essay holds they both are real. The insights of a scientist such as Dr Ray fall within his argument.

  90. Mr Joseph,

    Last I checked urea wasn’t alive.

    Which is sort of the point! You could look at each molecule of the body in succession and say it is not alive, even DNA. But put those molecules in specific arrangements and energy states, and the body is alive. Change the arrangements and energy states, and the body is dead.

    Death and life are determined by the arrangement of matter and energy, I don’t think you can give an example where the same arrangement of matter and energy states is either dead or alive because of another fundamental quality being there or not there.

  91. Clive Hayden: And I suppose that love is only a biochemical action, and beauty some trick of nerves, and everything else reduced down to the movement of space dust that exploded after the Big Bang and came back together as you and me. You can’t physically quantify your philosophy, so by your criterion it doesn’t exist.

    Of course love and beauty exist, but there is no reason that they are the result of fundamental physical entities comparable to matter and energy.

    Do you contend otherwise?

  92. tribune7:The working biological assumption is that only life can create life.

    In which case life had no origin. If it did have an origin, then it somehow originated from non-life. Which do you think it is?

    (This was my point in response to a post from EvilSnack.)

  93. joseph: You keep saying elan vital- can you point me to that hypothesis- wikipedia’s entry doesn’t say that much and it doesn’t support your contention.

    And how could it die a century ago in the midst of biological ignorance?

    It died because it was neither necessary nor demonstrable. Bergson, who coined the phrase, was a philosopher, not a scientist, and his ideas about evolution and life found no home in science.

    Or perhaps I’ve misjudged, and vitalism and not elan vital is the better description of your hypothesis? I wouldn’t consider this an improvement.

    My position does not say that organic molecules cannot arise from inorganic elements.

    But your position does say that organic life cannot arise from inorganic elements without the introduction of a fundamental entity called “life” that is independent from those elements. Is this accurate?

  94. Tom MH,

    Of course love and beauty exist, but there is no reason that they are the result of fundamental physical entities comparable to matter and energy.

    Do you contend otherwise?

    I contend that love, life, beauty, philosophy, and the philosophy that things things should be reduced to physical parts to exist, are all not reducible to physical parts. I agree that there is no reason to consider any of these things reducible to its component parts. The philosophy of physical reductionism is not itself reducible to physics, that’s my point.

  95. Nakashima,

    I’m willing to grant a reality to the inner experience of people, the “looking along the sunbeam”of Lewis’ essay. Do you similarly grant a reality to the “looking at”, external view of the same experiences? Lewis’ essay holds they both are real. The insights of a scientist such as Dr Ray fall within his argument.

    That’s all you got out of that essay?

  96. TomMH –If (life) did have an origin, then it somehow originated from non-life.

    Or a life not bound by the laws of nature. Why would you reject that possibility?

  97. I have an opinion too:

    1. Quantum Mechanics.
    2. Atoms and molecules.
    3. Physics.
    4. Chemistry.
    6. Matter.
    6. Biology.
    7. Psyche.
    8. Spirit.

    The properties and laws at each level are emerging from the level below but is not defined by the lower level.

    Emergent properties at each level tells us that the whole always is more than just the sum of the parts.

    That means reductionism doesn’t allow for understanding of the world.

  98. Clive Hayden @ 95

    That’s all you got out of that essay?

    What I got from that essay was that Lewis was defending the reality and value of subjective experience against materialist accounts which demean them as trivial and of no value to science. In my view, both are of interest to science and that constructing an explanation of how something works has no bearing on how much we might value it.

    In the example Lewis provides of the little girl crying over the broken doll, as he writes, a materialist account might explain it as an exercise of the nascent maternal instinct but that does not change in the slightest the real love, pain and sense of loss experienced by the little girl. Any materialist, however, who then goes on to dismiss the little girl’s feelings as childish nonsense has stepped over the boundary of science and into the realm of moral judgement where he or she has no more authority than the rest of us. While I don’t know of any materialists who would be that hard-hearted, human nature being what it is, there are likely to be some.

    My own impression is that Lewis’s own feelings had been bruised in encounters with materialist science and that this essay was a counter-attack against the attitudes which, rightly or wrongly, he held responsible.

  99. Ah, another topic I’m interested in.

    I like Cabal’s list at 97, which makes the point that being a materialist (which I am) is not the same as being a reductionist (which I am not). I don’t think the love I have for people, my appreciation for beauty, or my committment to serving others is lessened because at the lowest level it is all quantum interactions. I don’t need to believe that love and beauty et al have to have some external non-material existence for them to be validated.

  100. Nakashima-san:

    Death and life are determined by the arrangement of matter and energy,

    That is what you say.

    Too bad you don’t have any supporting evidence.

  101. Tom MH:

    It died because it was neither necessary nor demonstrable.

    The strawman died.

    Not what I am saying.

    But your position does say that organic life cannot arise from inorganic elements without the introduction of a fundamental entity called “life” that is independent from those elements. Is this accurate?

    That is what the evidence supports.

    As I said a computer consists of matter, energy and information yet it is not alive.

    IOW there is a difference between computers and living organisms.

    Do you agree with that?

    Do you have ANY evidence that living organisms can be reduced to matter, energy and information?

    ANY evidence at all?

    So far all you have done is to argue against a strawman.

    So how about actually putting up?

    How about that measurement system for evolution?

    Or do you agree that the concept is not science?

  102. Aleta,

    Being a materialist means that you think everything can be reduced to materialistic processes- ie can be reduced to matter, energy, chance and necessity.

  103. Mr Hayden,

    The philosophy of physical reductionism is not itself reducible to physics, that’s my point.

    In denying the reducibility of reductionism, you are going past the position of Lewis in the essay you referenced. He says of one physiologist thinking about reductionism:

    A second physiologist, looking at it, could pronounce it also to be only tiny physical movements in the first physiologist’s skull. Where is the rot to end?

    The answer is that we must never allow the rot to begin. We must, on pain of idiocy, deny from the very outset the idea that looking at is, by its own nature, intrinsically truer or better than looking along. One must look both along and at everything.

    I admit that as I read the essay the first time, and came to “Where is the rot to end?”, I thought Lewis was going to make an argument against some infinite regress, but instead “the rot” in the next paragraph simply resolves to be the single minded focus on one perspective. But when Lewis says “One must look both along and at everything.” he is admitting that both perspectives exist and are valid, even for abstractions such as mathematics and the philosophy of reductionism.

    Now Lewis does follow this up with:

    Thus the inside vision of rational thinking must be truer than the outside vision which sees only movements of the grey matter; for if the outside vision were the correct one all thought (including this thought itself) would be valueless, and this is self-contradictory.

    Having just admitted that both perpectives are necessary (“One MUST look both along and at everything.”) he begins his examination of the particular case of rational thought by saying the interior perspective is “truer”. That is fine, his opinion, and I happen to agree with him, but “truer” admits there is a gradation of truth.

    For the purposes of this esay, or this sentence, Lewis is not speaking of true/false dichotomies between the internal and external perspectives. Given that there is a semantic overlap with the true of true/false, I would have prefered Lewis used another term, such as “more useful”. The point is that Lewis is still seeing value in both perspectives even when he favors one over the other.

    In the next part of the sentence, he knocks down the absolute position on reductionism. This bit come close to supporting your position that reductionism is not reducible. Unfortunately, Lewis’ argument is not very strong. He’s trying to make a syllogism:

    Reductionism says all thoughts are valuless.
    Reductionism is a thought.
    Therefore reductionism is valuless.

    It all falls apart if we don’t agree with the first statement. What does valuless mean, and how did it get attached to the position of reductionism? Given what Lewis had argued earlier, he can argue:

    Reductonism says all thoughts are brain movements.
    Reductionism is a thought.
    Therefore reductionism is a brain movement.

    I have no problem with that, though it seems to contradict your position. But it doesn’t attach a judgement of value to the position. What is missing is:

    Reductionism holds that all thoughts are brain movements.
    Reductionism holds that all brain movements are valuless,
    Therefore reductionism holds that all thoughts are valuless.

    I don’t think Lewis ever justifies that second statement, though he does seem to assume it. In particular, it isn’t clear why this isn’t preferable:

    Reductionism holds that all thoughts are brain movements.
    Reductionism says the value of a brain movement is temporary, local, and provisional.
    Therefore reductionism holds that all thoughts’ values are temporary, local, and provsional.

    We would then come to

    Reductionism holds that all thoughts’ values are temporary, local, and provsional.
    Reductionism is a thought.
    Therefore reductionism holds that reductionism’s values are temporary, local, and provsional.

    That isn’t a self-contradiction, though it is an admission of limited scope. The bottom line is that reductionism does not entail valuelessness, and therefore this part of Lewis’ argument fails.

    Setting aside Lewis’ essay, do you have any evidence for your position? I remember vaguely that Oliver Sacks discusses a case in one of his books of a stroke victim, who after his injury could not remember the names of government buildings. “Post office” and “courthouse” had ceased to exist.

    I’ll grant that “courthouse” is not in the same league as “reductionism” as abstractions go, but the point is that abstractions are localised to parts of the brain, learning abstractions involves physical changes to the brain. As much as a stroke could destroy the term “courthouse” in one person, a stroke could destroy the concept of “reductionism” in another.

  104. Clive Hayden: I agree that there is no reason to consider any of these things reducible to its component parts.

    Then neither you nor I are strict reductionists.

    But perhaps you have misread my position. I was not advocating that life is merely it’s constituent matter and energy (quarks, leptons, vector bosons to mediate interactions, and the Higgs lurking behind the curtains to bestow mass). From a reductionist perspective, one could arrive at that viewpoint…and miss the whole show of life.

    What I was arguing against was joseph’s contention that a reductionist approach would reveal a third (or fourth, or fifth) essence called “life”, separate and distinct from matter and energy, irreducible and essential to the distinction between the living and the dead. There is no evidence of such an entity, nor is there any need of it. Is its hypothesis essential to the ID viewpoint?

  105. tribune7: TomMH –If (life) did have an origin, then it somehow originated from non-life.

    Or a life not bound by the laws of nature. Why would you reject that possibility?

    I would reject it for science because it requires that we pass beyond the borders of science and into the realm of religion and faith. Not that I am opposed to that, but I prefer to call a spade a spade.

    Of course, the claims of science are provisional by custom. Can you cite me a verifiable example of a life not bound by the laws of nature?

  106. 106

    Nakashima,

    As much as a stroke could destroy the term “courthouse” in one person, a stroke could destroy the concept of “reductionism” in another.

    That’s right, and therein lies the problem with materialism. If the content was only in the matter, then the content could be excised with a knife, and it wouldn’t be “true” in its own right. It would only be true as long as it was there in matter, but change the matter, and you change the truth. This isn’t how truth works.

  107. Tom MH:

    There is no evidence of such an entity, nor is there any need of it.

    There is evidence for it.

    I told you what it is.

    That you choose to ignore that exposes your agenda Tom.

    And that you ignore the following proves my point:

    As I said a computer consists of matter, energy and information yet it is not alive.

    IOW there is a difference between computers and living organisms.

    Do you agree with that?

    Do you have ANY evidence that living organisms can be reduced to matter, energy and information?

    ANY evidence at all?

    IOW Tom all you have is to talk out of your arse.

    Do you really think that helps your case?

  108. Tom MH:

    What I was arguing against was joseph’s contention that a reductionist approach would reveal a third (or fourth, or fifth) essence called “life”, separate and distinct from matter and energy, irreducible and essential to the distinction between the living and the dead.

    That is not what I am saying Tom.

    I never said anything about “essential to the distinction between the living and the dead”.

  109. Mr Hayden,

    …but change the matter, and you change the truth. This isn’t how truth works.

    On the basis of Lewis’ essay, I have to disagree. Let’s say i’m standing outside Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack, NJ with this stroke injured man. A passerby asks us, “What kind of building is that?” I say, “A courthouse.” He says, “Nothing special.”

    Accepting the “looking along”, inner perspective of both of us, we are both right.

    An inebriated guy sits in a bar and thinks the girl next to him is beautiful. When he sobers up, he changes his mind. The inner perspective was right both times.

    You are right that there is this idea called ‘the truth’ which is absolute and eternal. But when Lewis was saying both perspectives are true, or one is ‘truer’ than another, I don’t think he was talking about this absolute concept. He was talking about a concept that could have multiple gradations.

    I’m certain there are systems of thought, based on certain choices of axioms, in which reductionism is self-contradictory. Lewis’ main intellectual opponent in that essay was the dominance of Skinnerian psychology, which had gone beyond saying that mental states were unmeasurable and therefore not a subject for science to a harsher view that mental states were not measurable, and therefore did not exist.

    Lewis is right, Skinnerian psychology is self-contradictory. This was basically proved by Marvin Minsky in his critical paper on perceptrons and computing the exclusive or. But we are atill left with the existence of both valid perspectives of Lewis’ essay.

  110. Mr Joseph,

    You said:

    Per my argument the same information, chemicals, matter and energy are in a dead person that are in a living person- yet there is a huge difference between someone who is alive and soneone who is dead.

    So you do think there is something that makes an essential distinction between dead and alive. Can you give an example of two bodies, one dead and one alive, with the same arrangement of matter and energy and information?

  111. joseph: Tom MH:

    There is no evidence of such an entity, nor is there any need of it.

    There is evidence for it.

    I told you what it is.

    Are you referring to this?

    joseph: Per my argument the same information, chemicals, matter and energy are in a dead person that are in a living person- yet there is a huge difference between someone who is alive and soneone who is dead.

    And yes that has been observed- ie detected.

    Also it has been detected that living organisms are different than inanimate objects.

    Computers have matter, energy and information yet are not alive.

    That alone says there is something else- so it has been detected.

    (Emphasis added.)

    Is this your evidence?

    There is nothing there to justify the assumption that something else exists and has been detected. You should have paid some attention to Nakashima’s comment:

    Nakashima: You could look at each molecule of the body in succession and say it is not alive, even DNA. But put those molecules in specific arrangements and energy states, and the body is alive. Change the arrangements and energy states, and the body is dead.

    This is called parsimony. There is no need to invoke additional entities to explain why some things are alive and others are not when we are able to study biochemistry and medicine and arrive at an understanding of life within the existing models. When you try to add your fundamental entity of “life”, you have added no increase in explanatory power, solved no riddle of biology, and offered no proof that such an entity even exists.

  112. IOW Tom all you have is to talk out of your arse.*

    (*my emphasis)

    Do you have
    English roots, Joseph?

  113. Tom MH,

    What is your problem?

    Try to focus on the following and actually answer the questions:

    As I said a computer consists of matter, energy and information yet it is not alive.

    IOW there is a difference between computers and living organisms.

    Do you agree with that?

    Do you have ANY evidence that living organisms can be reduced to matter, energy and information?

    ANY evidence at all?

    And when you say:

    There is nothing there to justify the assumption that something else exists and has been detected.

    That means you think there isn’t any difference between a computer and a living organism.

    IOW Tom you are a waste of bandwidth.

  114. Tom MH:

    You should have paid some attention to Nakashima’s comment

    Nakashima said the rust reproduces.

    Also what he said- that you referenced- does not mean living organisms arereducible to matter and energy.

    IOW it is called boloney not parsimony.

  115. The point being – Tom and Nakashima- is that what it takes to destroy something is not equivilent to what it takes to make it in the first place.

    Also I will say it again-

    The only way you are going to refute what I am saying is to demonstrate that living organisms are reducible to matter, energy and information.

    How is that coming?

    In the absence of that all you are doing is whining.

    Do you think that whining helps your case?

  116. Mr Joseph,

    The point being – Tom and Nakashima- is that what it takes to destroy something is not equivilent to what it takes to make it in the first place.

    Yes, that is called entropy. You are not helping your argument by changing it.

  117. Mr Joseph,

    A personal question, why can’t you keep a conversation civil? Why do you include the “talking out of your arse” and “waste of bandwidth” comments?

  118. TomMH

    If (life) did have an origin, then it somehow originated from non-life. . . .Or a life not bound by the laws of nature. Why would you reject that possibility?. . .I would reject it for science because it requires that we pass beyond the borders of science and into the realm of religion and faith.

    It’s not science that would reject it but a very narrow methodology of science called methodological naturalism.

    The problem with using meth-nat to try to address first causes is that the internal logic of such an attempt is inconsistent hence it becomes irrational to try.

    Consider “we pass beyond the borders of science and into the realm of religion and faith”

    What is declaring a cause to be material without being able to describe, much less demonstrate, it, if not faith? And blind, arbitrary faith at that?

    This means we must not use a method that may be useful in describing how a bridge collapsed to attempt to address (or more damningly dismiss) the big questions such as “what is the purpose of our existence, how should we treat others etc.

    If the reality is that God created life it is counter-productive in the search for truth to use an arbitrary definition to deny that reality.

    Now, it is a legitimate concern that the pendulum can swing too far in the other direction and we have prohibitions into areas of research such as OOL based on religious dogma.

    Science should not involve dogma whether it be religious or anti-religious.

    Can you cite me a verifiable example of a life not bound by the laws of nature?

    Sure :-) There is going to be a big celebration of one in about 70 days.

  119. joseph: As I said a computer consists of matter, energy and information yet it is not alive.

    IOW there is a difference between computers and living organisms.

    Do you agree with that?

    Sure. So what? Why do you need to invoke a fundamental entity to explain the difference? There is no crisis in biology or chemistry (or computer design) that requires additional fundamental entities.

  120. tribune7: The problem with using meth-nat to try to address first causes is that the internal logic of such an attempt is inconsistent hence it becomes irrational to try.

    What do you mean by “first cause”? Is it irrational to use Newtonian mechanics to plan a space launch because God could alter the Earth’s rotation? If not, then please explain this line of demarcation. In what areas of scientific research should methodological naturalism be abandoned?

  121. Tom MH –Is it irrational to use Newtonian mechanics to plan a space launch

    Why would you think Newtonian mechanics relating to a space launch would be a first cause?

    The point I’m making is that it is irrational to use a method based on the claim that all can be discerned via objective measurements of energy or matter to explain the existence of energy or matter.

  122. tribune7, we are obviously misunderstanding one another. Let me see if I can clear things up by addressing one of your questions:

    tribune7: What is declaring a cause to be material without being able to describe, much less demonstrate, it, if not faith? And blind, arbitrary faith at that?

    It is a method, not a faith. Methodological naturalism is an approach, and should not be confused with philosphical naturalism, which might be an attractive worldview for atheists.

    If the reality is that God created life it is counter-productive in the search for truth to use an arbitrary definition to deny that reality.

    If the truth is that God created life then it is a truth that cannot be reached by science. Or at least, by methodological naturalism. Which is okay with me — science is remarkably good at finding out things about the natural world, but it is not the only way that truth can be discerned (if indeed anything in science can be held to be “true”). But I see no way to amend science to enable it to accept miracles without doing irreparable damage to the whole enterprise.

  123. Tom MH,

    So you agree that there is a difference between computers and living organisms even though both consist of matter, energy and information.

    What do you think we should call that difference?

    Should we try to qualify and/ or quantify it?

    Or should we just say there is a difference and never even try to explain it?

    Also one doesn’t require a crisis before we can take a look at what that difference is.

    And I will also note that not person on this planet can demonstrate that living organisms can be reduced to matter, energy and information.

    IOW Tom MH you don’t have any evidence for your claim yet you seem to think your claim refutes mine even though I can demonsttrate a difference bewtween computers and living organisms although they both – according to you- consist of the same basic stuff.

  124. Nakashima-san-

    A personal question, why can’t you keep a conversation civil? Why do you include the “talking out of your arse” and “waste of bandwidth” comments?

    I am civil given civil opponents…

  125. joseph: So you agree that there is a difference between computers and living organisms even though both consist of matter, energy and information.

    What do you think we should call that difference?

    Chemistry.

    Question for you: is a Mac different from a PC? If so, what fundamental entity needs to be added to “matter, energy, and information” to explain the difference?

  126. TomMH — Methodological naturalism is an approach, and should not be confused with philosphical naturalism,

    Philosophical naturalism is arguably part of meth-nat:

    Steven Schafersman contends methodological naturalism is “the adoption or assumption of philosophical naturalism within scientific method with or without fully accepting or believing it

    science is remarkably good at finding out things about the natural world,

    Science should not be synonymous with meth-nat. If you study nature you should not go beyond nature, but if you should it is obvious to all concerned and reactions should be in accordance with the logic as to why you might have done so.

    The problem that has arisen is the arbitrary definition that a natural cause must be declared before a matter is considered “science”.

    Taken to its logical extreme this would have kept Pasteur’s disproof of the spontaneous generation of life from being considered — something that has had a far, far greater impact on practical biology (think sanitation, food processing etc.) than Darwin’s theory.

    I’ll agree that if you limit meth-nat to specific problems (how did the bridge collapse?) it can be useful.

    But it should only be considered a small part of science.

  127. trubune7: Philosophical naturalism is arguably part of meth-nat:

    Steven Schafersman contends methodological naturalism is “the adoption or assumption of philosophical naturalism within scientific method with or without fully accepting or believing it

    Schafersman’s point (highlighted) is what I was trying to say. MN is practiced without the need to embrace PN.

    tribune7: The problem that has arisen is the arbitrary definition that a natural cause must be declared before a matter is considered “science”.

    Taken to its logical extreme this would have kept Pasteur’s disproof of the spontaneous generation of life from being considered

    I’m afraid I don’t understand. Science is the study of nature. Pasteur’s experiments with fermentation, and the conclusions that he (and we) drew from them, were fully in accord with how we think science should operate.

    A non-scientific (non MN) conclusion could have been that fermentation did not take place in Pasteur’s sealed flasks because a supernatural agent prevented it (or conversely, caused it to take place only in flasks exposed to the air).

    Both the reigning hypothesis of spontaneous generation and the (now accepted) counter-hypothesis of biogenesis were scientific. Neither depended on supernatural entities AFAIK. The latter theory won out because it was supported by evidence from nature (something that was rather weak in much of Aristotlean natural philosophy) obtained from a number of experiments, Pasteur’s being the final and most convincing.

  128. Tom MH

    Taken to its logical extreme this would have kept Pasteur’s disproof of the spontaneous generation of life from being considered . . .I’m afraid I don’t understand.

    The point I’m making is that some accuse ID of not being science because it doesn’t rule out a supernatural designer. Pasteur did not rule out a supernatural cause of life.

    ID is every bit the study of nature as Pasteur’s observations.

    Now, with regard to meth-nat it’s not so much the methodology with which I’m taking issue but the claim to authority some give it.

    And meth-nat is clearly not the only means — and may not even be the most effective means — of practicing natural science.

  129. So you agree that there is a difference between computers and living organisms even though both consist of matter, energy and information.

    What do you think we should call that difference?

    Tom MH:

    Chemistry.

    That’s it?

    RotFLMAO!!!!

    Thank you for proving this discussion has been a waste of time.

    Tom MH:

    Question for you: is a Mac different from a PC? If so, what fundamental entity needs to be added to “matter, energy, and information” to explain the difference?

    Yes there is a difference and it can be explained by the difference in arrangenment of matter, energy and information.

    So i will ask you AGAIN:

    Is there any evidence that living organisms can be reduced to matter, energy and information?

    Or are you just arguing for the sake of arguing?

  130. Mr Joseph,

    Yes there is a difference and it can be explained by the difference in arrangenment of matter, energy and information.

    No, the answer is PCness – the quality that only PCs have.

    Don’t you see that your answer “the arrangement” is exactly what I was saying distinguishes living from dead earlier, when you were asserting that there was some special something that all living things had?

  131. joseph: Yes there is a difference and it can be explained by the difference in arrangenment of matter, energy and information.

    Yes, the difference between two inanimate things can be explained by the arrangement of matter, energy and information. The difference bewteen a living thing and an inanimate thing can be explained by the arrangenment of matter, energy and information. The difference bewteen a living thing and a dead thing can be explained by the arrangement of matter, energy and information. The difference bewteen two living things can be explained by the arrangement of matter, energy and information.

    If you think additional fundamental entities need to be invoked to explain any of these diffeences, YOU must supply the argument, and the evidence. So far you have not.

    joseph: Is there any evidence that living organisms can be reduced to matter, energy and information?

    Let me invoke an authority I am sure you will respect:

    Life could very well be a fundamental entity- along with matter, energy and information.

    Living organisms arise when those for come together in one unit.

    This is YOUR list. We are only quibbling about the fourth number.

  132. joseph: What do you think we should call that difference?

    Tom MH: Chemistry.

    joseph: That’s it? RotFLMAO!!!!

    Living things are comprised of water and lipids and proteins and enzymes and nucleic acids and other stuff – chemicals. Biochemists have been studying these things for years, learning how these chemicals can interact in certain ways to enable metabolism, growth, response to stimuli, and reproduction. Surely you were aware of this? Surely you are aware that NONE of the researchers in biochemistry have needed to invoke a new fundamental entity (“life”) to explain any of the observed phenomena of living things? The properties of chemicals (“matter”) and their states and interactions (“energy”) and their arrangement (“information”) seems to be sufficient. If you have identified a deficiency, please let us know.

  133. Nakashima,

    Don’t you see that your answer “the arrangement” is exactly what I was saying distinguishes living from dead earlier, when you were asserting that there was some special something that all living things had?

    You determine life from death by an arrangement of particles? Presumably you mean a working and moving arrangement because living things move and dead things don’t, right? Is that what you mean? Machines move, are they alive? Dead things move. I’m sincerely trying to understand how you understand life/death by virtue of material arrangements. I think what Joseph means about a special quality that all living things have is called “Life”. Both dead and living things have parts and arrangements that move, so I don’t understand your criterion for any arrangement to answer the question between life and death. Are you saying that “life” is a quality and not itself a physical object? are you saying that life is an emergent quality, as you think cognition is an emergent quality of an arrangement of brain material?

  134. Mr Hayden,

    Yes, I think you understand my position correctly. What we call life is an emergent property of some complex arrangements of matter and energy. These arrangements are far from equilibrium, and stay far from equilibrium over extended periods of time by processing matter and energy available in the environment. That’s my thumbnail definition.

    I don’t think there a special property called ‘life’ which is a substance (elan vital) that is inside living bodies and not present elsewhere in the universe.
    In addition, the category itself is fuzzy, with edge cases which are not clear (either due to our current ignorance, or because the category is inherently fuzzy). Some examples:
    A dormant seed or spore. When is it clear that it is alive or dead?
    A virus. Sure a virus needs a very specific environment, but so do I.
    A bacterial cell that has just died. What is the change that just happened at the moment of death?
    Abiogenesis. I remember reading an essay on abiogenesis that made the point that near the beginning of life’s development, the boundary between molecules occaisionally interacting and consistent packages of molecules could have wavered back and forth – life could have sputtered for a while before catching hold.

    As an emergent property, it does imply that there is some gradation across this fuzzy boundary. You could say that a fire, or an avalance of rocks rolling downhill, fit the definition. The fire and the avalanche are way over on one side of the spectrum, and mice, flowers, and bacteria are way over on the other. In the middle are the kind of things I gave examples of earlier. What does it mean for the definition of life that there are viruses that are larger than bacteria? Personally, I do accept this fuzziness as inherent in the category – life cannot be defined crisply and precisely.

  135. Tom MH,

    You don’t have any evidence to support your claim but you know my claim is wrong.

    Got it.

    BTW biochemists cannot demonstrate that living organisms are reducible to matter, energy and information.

  136. Tom MH:

    The difference bewteen a living thing and an inanimate thing can be explained by the arrangenment of matter, energy and information.

    So your “evidence” is just to keep repeating that bit of unsupported tripe?

  137. Tom MH:

    Living things are comprised of water and lipids and proteins and enzymes and nucleic acids and other stuff – chemicals.

    Yet no one can demonstrate they are reducible to chemicals- water and lipids and proteins and enzymes (which are proteins) and nucleic acids.

    That tells me there is something else required.

  138. Clive Hayden: Are you saying that “life” is a quality and not itself a physical object?

    My answer would be yes. There is no need to invoke an additional fundamental entity (“life” particles”?) and no evidence for its existence.

    are you saying that life is an emergent quality, as you think cognition is an emergent quality of an arrangement of brain material?

    Not everything that is alive has a brain — most of the biomass of Earth consists of bacteria.

  139. joseph: You don’t have any evidence to support your claim but you know my claim is wrong.

    I didn’t say your claim was wrong, I said it was supported by neither logic nor data. I’ve invited you to offer one or the other, or both. Your argument seems to be summarized in the following:

    Yet no one can demonstrate they are reducible to chemicals- water and lipids and proteins and enzymes (which are proteins) and nucleic acids.

    Of COURSE they are reducible to chemicals — from where do you think we learned about those chemicals in the first place?

    That tells me there is something else required.

    Required for what? What observation about living things can be only be explained by the introduction of a new fundamental entity?

  140. Tom MH:

    Of COURSE they are reducible to chemicals — from where do you think we learned about those chemicals in the first place?

    Just saying it doesn’t make it so.

    Of COURSE studying biology isn’t the same as understanding its origins.

    Tom MH:

    What observation about living things can be only be explained by the introduction of a new fundamental entity?

    We have been over this already- the difference between living organisms and non-living matter.

    We have observed that differences exist and have gone about cataloging those differences.

    Biologists make a living because of those differences.

    And it cannot be explained by calling on matter, energy, information, chance and necessity.

  141. And BTW I am not introducing a fundamental new entity-

    It has existed for quite a long, long time.

    All I am doing is pointing it out.

    If you don’t want to look that is understandable. Your position just cannot allow for such an entity so it cannot exist.

    Got it.

  142. Mr Joseph,

    And BTW I am not introducing a fundamental new entity-

    It has existed for quite a long, long time.

    I agree. You did not create life. Or the idea of “life”. Or the Game of LIFE (TM).

    But you also haven’t got past the “life is alive” step in explaining this fundamental thing. I’ve asked you previously for an example of two objects, one living, one dead, which have exactly the same arrangement of matter and energy.

    I can measure matter in grams, energy in joules, information in bits. What is life measured in? The ‘vit’? How many vits in a rock? A fire? A computer (off)? A computer (running a CA like Evoloops)? A flower? A baby? A pregnant woman? A mosquito full of malaria? How do you know?

  143. What observation about living things can be only be explained by the introduction of a new fundamental entity?

    We have been over this already- the difference between living organisms and non-living matter.

    We have observed that differences exist and have gone about cataloging those differences.

    Biologists make a living because of those differences.

    And it cannot be explained by calling on matter, energy, information, chance and necessity.

    What specific differences cannot be explained by your (new and expanded!) list? I am looking for something a bit more specific than “life lives, and non-life doesn’t”. Can you cite an example?

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