TCS Daily


Intelligent Debate

By Kenneth Silber - August 4, 2006 12:00 AM

Many evolutionists long regarded it as counterproductive to engage in public discussions and debates about Intelligent Design (ID). Doing so, they worried, would give ID publicity and respect that it did not deserve. Plus, it was a waste of time. But this reticence turned out to be a bad public-relations strategy. It made evolutionary scientists seem arrogant and evasive, and it allowed ID claims to go, all too often, unanswered.

Increasingly, though, the evolution side has shown a willingness to grapple with, rather than ignore, ID. One reason for this may be the spurring to action by the documentary Flock of Dodos, which makes fun of evolutionists as tongue-tied and out-of-touch even while arguing that they are right. One critic described the film as "engaging" and "hilarious." (Disclosure: I was that critic. My review is here.)

Two new books provide valuable defenses of evolution and dissections of ID. In Intelligent Thought: Science versus the Intelligent Design Movement, edited by John Brockman, a variety of scientists and scholars address diverse aspects of evolution and ID. In Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design, Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and columnist for Scientific American, presents a wide-ranging argument. (Disclosure: As a freelancer at Scientific American, I have fact-checked some of Shermer's columns -- which makes me kind of a "skeptic's skeptic.")

In Intelligent Thought's opening essay, University of Chicago biologist Jerry A. Coyne contrasts evolutionary theory's explanatory power with that of ID. Evolution, he notes, explains the fossil record's distinct patterns, with older, deeper layers of rock containing only simple invertebrates, and newer layers revealing the successive appearance of fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Evolution explains the presence in living organisms of vestigial organs and of segments of DNA that once served a function but no longer do. It also explains the geographic distribution of organisms -- for example, why oceanic islands have plants, insects and birds similar to those of the closest mainland areas.

By contrast, as Coyne points out, ID offers no clear explanation of any of the above. Instead, it relies on assertions that certain features of the biological world could not have arisen through evolution (with design presented as a default assumption). Noting that he has been criticized for saying both that ID is false and that it is untestable, Coyne reiterates that both criticisms are accurate. ID, in his description, comes in two forms: "Weak ID" states that organisms contain some mix of evolved and designed features, but lacks sufficient specificity to be tested, while "strong ID" makes claims (such as that evolution of one species from another is impossible) that run contrary to the evidence.

Elsewhere in Intelligent Thought, paleontologist Tim D. White examines the fossil evidence for human evolution, focusing especially on bones and tools found in the Horn of Africa. He notes that his team's discovery of a 155,000-year-old specimen known as Herto man caused consternation among creationists. Historian Frank J. Sulloway recounts how Darwin abandoned the creationism of his time after learning that his Galápagos bird specimens included multiple species of finches. Biologist Neil H. Shubin analyzes the "great transition" wherein organisms moved from sea to land some 370 million years ago; this occurred, he points out, in a series of incremental stages, such that there was little difference between fish of that era and the first land-dwelling animals.

The book's essays cover a broad range of topics. Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker argues that evolutionary theory, rather than corroding morality, provides a framework for understanding how the human moral sense developed. Physicist Lee Smolin suggests that natural selection may occur in cosmology as well as biology, with universes reproducing themselves via black holes. Complexity theorist Stuart A. Kauffman contends that whether something was designed is a legitimate scientific question, but that ID has failed to provide convincing evidence of design. Philosopher Daniel Dennett's essay "The Hoax of Intelligent Design and How It Was Perpetrated" offers insights into ID debating tactics, but falls short of its title by providing little detail on ID's history as a movement.

Shermer's Why Darwin Matters emphasizes that there is a convergence of evidence from multiple fields -- geology, paleontology, molecular biology, zoology, botany, comparative anatomy, and population genetics, among others -- supporting evolution. Shermer recounts how recognizing this convergence brought his own conversion from the creationism he had espoused in his undergraduate years. In a refreshing departure from the personal animosity that characterizes much of the evolution-ID conflict, Shermer notes that he has had amicable debates, and shared friendly meals and car rides, with mathematician-philosopher William A. Dembski and other ID proponents.

Shermer recapitulates a number of key ID arguments and provides his responses. Regarding the view that the universe was "fine tuned" for life, he notes that much of space and time is inhospitable to life, and suggests that it is we (humans and other life) that are tuned to our corner of the universe, rather than the universe being tuned for us. Discussing the "explanatory filter," a technique devised by Dembski to identify design, Shermer counters that it is merely notional, relying on probability calculations that are not possible in practice. He cautions that the "design inference" touted by ID theorists is subjective and unreliable, particularly for detecting superhuman designers.

As for claims of "irreducible complexity," that some biological systems could not have evolved gradually, Shermer discusses how features that evolve for one purpose can be co-opted for other purposes, such as incipient wings serving as aids to running or grasping. He notes that the bacterial flagellum, given as a prime example of irreducible complexity, serves different functions in different bacteria, coming in various degrees of complexity. Shermer also points to research elucidating the biochemical pathways in the development of blood clotting, another supposed example of something that could not have evolved.

Similar to Pinker, Shermer argues that evolution enhances, rather than undermines, our understanding of morality. He also argues that ID aims to promote religious objectives but fails to do so; the designer that emerges from current ID theories seems to be an entity of limited powers, rather than a transcendent creator of the universe. A weak point in the book, however, is Shermer's discussion of methodological naturalism, the view that science is suited only for explaining natural phenomena, whether or not supernatural phenomena exist. Shermer sloppily blurs the distinction between this methodological approach and the philosophical naturalism that rejects the existence of the supernatural.

However, Shermer presents a cogent history of the ID movement, including its legal setbacks culminating in the late 2005 decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover, in which a federal court in Pennsylvania ruled against a move to introduce ID into science classes. Intelligent Thought closes with an excerpt of that decision, in the aftermath of which the ID movement has been struggling to regain political momentum.

Overall, both Why Darwin Matters and Intelligent Thought make strong arguments against Intelligent Design. They also show that debating beats ignoring the subject.

Kenneth Silber is a TCS Daily contributing writer who focuses on science, technology and economics.

Categories:

126 Comments

ID - another example of sloppy thinking
The leftists have their religion which is not a religion which goes by the name liberalism. Liberalism includes political correctness, multiculturalism, moral relativism, quotas, speech codes and many other things which seem to accompany sloppy thinking.

Now, part of the religious right has its sloppy thinking moment with ID. Rather then accepting even the possibility that they are the result of evolutionary processes and ascended from lower life forms, they cling to the notion that they are the result of an executed design plan; perfect in design and perfect in execution. Of course that begs the question, who designed the designer?

Not a fair debate at all
What some editor should do is take people like Coyne and Shermer and let people from the ID side write companion pieces. That way the average reader could decide for themselves how much Darwinism explains

Both Coyne and Shermer would be eviscerated quickly if they ever dared come on Bill Dembski and Denyse O'Leary's web site. It would be a polite evisceration, as they would be forced to back and fill to cover their inconsistencies. Coyne is a cheap shot artist who forte is throwing ad hominen barbs. Just read his recent New Republic article or his review of Jonathan Wells' book a few years ago. The co-ption argument is one of the charades that Darwinist pull out of their back pocket every time they can not explain something. Let Shermer publish his side of the story along side of Scott Minnich who actually does research on the bacterium flagella. Even a person with average science background will be able to see through the nonsense Shermer proposes.

Maybe even Silber would learn something if he ever interviewed the people who doubt Darwinism and are scientists. Better yet, maybe Silber should go on Dembski and O'Leary's web site and see how long his beliefs could hold up. They are polite there so no worry about ad hominens.

I have a question, is Michael Shermer backing the Privileged Planet concept by saying we live in an unusually friendly part of the universe for life. I thought the conventional wisdom was that there was millions of possible places life could have arisen in the galaxy or universe. If not then maybe he should tell the SETI people.

The privileged planet
In order to support life as we know it, a planet has to have an abundant supply of water, and temperatures that at least at times fall within the range where that water is liquid. It has to be free of harmful radiation. Given the entire spectrum of what is possible in the universe, it requires a very specific and limited range of conditions to exist.

Earth is one of those exceptional places where life is possible. The universe is of a scale that the laws of probability imply there are millions, or tens or hundreds of millions of other places that might theoretically support life.

It's a moot point. If our means of transportation are limited to speeds much less than that of light, these are places we will never visit. It's fun to speculate while we study the mystery of life right here.

One thing we might speculate on is why the God that designed us so intelligently decided to waste so much empty space between the galaxies, and make stuff that's mostly just fireworks and glitter to scatter across the firmament.

Your highly touted
ID experts didn't quite cover themselves with glory in the Dover debacle, now did they?

It's like horseracing; once you've seen the nag stumble badly when not even up to the first turn, you never bet on it again.

First: a slam!
First of all, Bill Dembski and Denyse O'Leary's web site is quite the load of crap to put it bluntly. Could you please point out exactly where the "evisceration" of evolution occurs? I was all over that site and did not find the article that made me go "Ah-ha! The re-named Creation Science called ID is where it's at!"

I will go into the ignorance of ID proponents in a longer post.

Secondly, SETI is a joke based on junk science. Although the distributed computing concept they use is quite interesting.

How is ID better?
jerry4 writes:

"The co-ption argument is one of the charades that Darwinist pull out of their back pocket every time they can not explain something."


I suppose this is in opposition to IDers who, whenever they cannot explain something, revert back to, "well, it was just designed that way." Exactly how is that, in even the slightest degree, the least bit helpful in understanding the universe?


ID = the end of scientific inquiry.

Evolution
How does evolutionary theory handle the problem of how the first DNA molecule overcame the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

What do the Darwinists say about Gould's "punctuated evolution" hypothesis?

If Darwin had been a molecular biologist my guess is that this whole debate would be about why and/or how inanimate objects can give rise to a state of consciousness. I think this issue is far more interesting than the present ID-Evolution debate.

Inanimate objects. . .
If Darwin had been a molecular biologist my guess is that this whole debate would be about why and/or how inanimate objects can give rise to a state of consciousness. I think this issue is far more interesting than the present ID-Evolution debate.

The short answer is that they can't, there are no inanimate objects. Consciousness is primary, atoms, molecules, nerves, brains, and people are simply contents of awareness.

Second: Definition
The word "evolution" actually means two distinct and quite separate things that the Creationists, which is what ID believer are, attempt to blur together in order to confuse the issue.

The first "Evolution" is the fact that organisms have changed over time and that some organisms have disappeared from the planet and have been replaced by other organisms that did not exist before. This "Evolution" is not a scientific theory or hypothesis. Rather it is an observable fact. Pretty much in the same way that the life cycle of a frog is an observable fact.

The fossil record is very clear in indicating that organisms once existed that no longer exist. These would be your dinosaurs, trilobites, pterodactyls, and intelligent liberals (Oops!). The fossil record is also very clear that organisms exist now which did not exist in earlier geological eras. These would be your humans, chimps, white-tailed deer, and your dog Spot.

The other "Evolution" is the word used to indicate the scientific theory of how the process of organism replacing organism occurred. In this usage, "evolution" is not an observable fact. It is a scientific model that attempts to explain the FACT of evolution.

While debating the actual mechanisms of Evolution is still ongoing, with a vast array of evidence, theory, and speculation, the FACT of evolution remains. Just as the debate over HOW gravity works does not nullify the fact that gravity DOES work.

ID is the last gasp of religionists who have been fighting scientific progress since the days of Copernicus. They wish to confuse and dilute that progress by warping the definitions which does nothing to further the science they claim to support.

Evolution does nothing to diminish your value as a human and I really have no concept of the mental mindset it takes to throw away logic and reason for the sake of disowning the one's simian ancestors. I defend a person's right to believe whatever stupid crap they wish but not when they wish to dress that stupid crap up as science and push it on children who are not yet able to distinguish the difference.

Typical creationist tactic
Point to some purported failing of evolution to explain something in sufficient detail and then claim evolution is a failure, hence the need for ID/creationism.

Try to understand this: the theory of evolution is not and does not pretend to be a comprehensive explanation of everything. It is a theory, meaning it is subject to testing and modification. It is if you will the least bad explanation. Darwinian evolution is a rationalist theory; it is based on the premise of accepting any observed fact and altering or modifying the theory accordingly. ID is the reverse; it attempts to assert a positive, not by showing evidence but by purporting to show how evolution fails. You cannot prove a proposition through negative assertions about something else. Hence ID fails any test of a rational theory.

Thermodynamics?
>"How does evolutionary theory handle the problem of how the first DNA molecule overcame the Second Law of Thermodynamics?"

I can't believe creationists still try to hang their hats on this one. The Second Law is refering to closed systems. Simply put, the Earth is not a closed system. Do you understand why?

>"What do the Darwinists say about Gould's "punctuated evolution" hypothesis?"

That it is one theory out of many. Depends on which scientist you ask. It has strengths and weaknesses.

>"If Darwin had been a molecular biologist my guess is that this whole debate would be about why and/or how inanimate objects can give rise to a state of consciousness. I think this issue is far more interesting than the present ID-Evolution debate."

Why do you think this? Explain.

How big is big?
Good point. Given the billions (trillions, quadrillions?) of galaxies, billions of stars contained within each galaxy, and therefore tens of billions (trillions, quadrillions?) of billions of planets, even if one in a quadrillion planets is hospitable to carbon based life, that is still billions (trillions, quadrillions?) of hospitable planets in the relatively "empty" ie. extremely low density universe.

Again, good point about the limits upon travel. Unless there surfaces some evidence that c the speed of light is not the upper limit upon relative velocity, almost certainly we will never travel to another hospitable planet.

Q&A
"How does evolutionary theory handle the problem of how the first DNA molecule overcame the Second Law of Thermodynamics?"

Maybe this will be useful to you:

http://www.panspermia.org/seconlaw.htm

"What do the Darwinists say about Gould's "punctuated evolution" hypothesis?"

I don't think this is a meaningful way to put the question. Everyone working in developmental biology will have a slightly different take on the concept. All it says is that there is no law mandating that evolution must unfold at a constant rate. And they're right-- there is no such law.

BTW consciousness itself is, as you suggest, a very elusive concept. And I agree it hasn't been studied nearly enough. Ask fifty people at what point of development awareness, or self-awareness, or sentient activity begins and I think you'll get fifty different, mutually unintelligible answers.

The pantheistic view
"Consciousness is primary, atoms, molecules, nerves, brains, and people are simply contents of awareness."

A very interesting view! Of course we generally imagine that there are different realms of consciousness. The lump of clay, for instance, is barely aware it's there. Krill? Anyone's guess. A marlin? Absolutely!

In every culture philosophers have created these fanciful realms, populating them with angels, gods and demons beyond the world of Man, finally culminating in some sort of Absolute. Which they imagine as being omniconscious-- although they rarely comment on such an entity's practical intelligence.

I generally am not attuned to arguments where God sits with his calculator, determining the exact orbits of everything that orbits. I can more readily see that Being as the being who rolled the first Ball, sending all the subsequent duckpins into motion willy nilly.

My reasoning is that if I were God, when I did the first thing I would have had no prior experience. I'd just do something, anything, and see what resulted. Thus life would obviously be its own experiment, and no One else's.

The Intelligent Designer's Heel
Ask an ID supporter if some of all species were designed and watch the sparks fly! Most proponents believe God created each and every lifeform. Which means -- if they accept geology, biology, et. al. -- that God (excuse me, the Intelligent Designer) must continuously create new lifeforms as others go extinct.

It seems there never was a 7th Day on which God rested, because Creation has never been finished.

You have no clue what you are talking about
ID and Creationist are not the same. ID accepts neo Darwinism as a partial explanation of several life forms. For example, ID would have no problem with anything Darwin saw on his journey on the Beagle including the famous finches. All Darwin witnessed was is what called microevolution which ID accepts as a mechanism for change.

What ID does not accept is that neo Darwinism explains anything beyond microevolution. There is absolutely no evidence of this and all the theory of higher level evolution is based on speculation and the imagination of evolutionary researchers. Darwin's flaw is that he extrapolated from what he witnessed to things no one has ever witnessed either before his time or since.

Before you spout your usual nonsense about how ID equals creationism, you should read up on what it is about.

A Universal View
I'm of the belief that if God is omniscient, then he must be the Universe itself. The laws of God's Creation (the Universe) deny the instantaneous transmission of perfect information within the Universe. But if God were everything, then nothing would be outside God's knowledge. Hence, the Universe is another name for God.

"Macro-Evolution"
You have not spoken with many supporters of Intelligent Design. Many (most?) laymen firmly cling to a Creationist doctrine and use I.D. to cloak their beliefs.

As I said, you don't have to believe me -- all you have to do is ask a few ID supporters. I've been doing that for years, and most DENY that "macro-evolution" is possible.

Evolution just doesn't make much sense to me
I don't really much care how the argument comes out in the end, but I looked into this subject because its a great case study for learning the ins and outs of epistemology, which is something that I am interesed in. I haven't read these two particular books, but I read a bunch of others on both sides of the fence that talk about the same sorts of things. Here is my two cents worth as a casual observer.

Seems to me that the evolutionists have a great theory, but it doesn't do well when measured against the totality of the evidence:

- the fossil record should show much, much, much more evidence of evolution than it does. There seems to be a few pieces here and there if one uses his or her imagination and assumes evolution to be true as a prerequisite assumption, but the fossil record should be rife with transition fossils given the slowness of change that evolutin posits. Instead, the fossils pretty much portray species and original new life forms just appearing as if by magic. Also, there is lots of intra-species change but not much in the way of inter-species change ... at least not enough to get from a puddle of goop to the human mind and all of the other life that is on our earth.

- the theory cannot account for the Cambrian explosion, which seems like a pretty big problem. The current explanation ("Punctuated equilibrium") sounds like a 'miracle' to me.

- evolutionists like to ignore or make fun of the irreducible complexity criticisms, but all of the hurdles (DNA, cells, re-production, breathing, eyes, brains, immune systems, the list seems incalculable not even considering the big picture changes that must happen in parallel) seem like a bridge. For me, it takes a leap of faith to even imagine it. Also, I've yet to hear a GOOD example that refutes the irreducible complexity. The response is conjecture versus a mountain of evidence. An appendage that helps one walk or jump evolving into bat and/or bird wings seems pretty far-fetched to me given the almost unbelievable complexity of a wing, and all of the things that would have to happen to achieve it, and that is just one piece of the entire animal.

- specific claims to knowledge are always circumscribed with "maybe," "perhaps," "suggest," "could have" but high school kids are taught with certainty that evolution is true. No other serious intellectual pursuit that I know of permits firm conclusions based on so much individual conjecture.

- Those who actively support evolution are emotionally committed to its truth. As a result, I strongly sense that they automatically discount the validity of criticism. Having been a victim and occasionally a perpetrator of that problem in my own area of expertise, I tend to be suspicious of evolutionists. They are tenacious like Kirby vacuum salesman. At a minimum, the value of ID seems to be in having some folks around who ask hard questions that the true believers do not seem to ask (or at least print for public consumption).

So, it seems that the main strength of evolution is that it is the only explanation that excludes God. Since it is the only explanation, it is therefore scientifically the best one. Not much of a recommendation in the case where someone asks if it is actually true and doesn't much care about the procedural requirements of the scientific process that works so well in other scientific pursuits.

Wish everyone well,

Jake

So...
ins't that saying that there is no God? The main point of believing in God, in my view, is to somehow believe that there is a power above you that cares about you and that give you a moral grounding.

The universe is uncaring, amoral, and brutal. Is God the same way or are you one of those people who is an atheist but likes to comfort yourself with a different definition?

Unfinished Creation
If I understand you correctly, each appearance of a new species requires a new action by the "Intelligent Designer" (God). Which means you must believe that God continues to add to Creation.

Unless, of course, you also believe in a "young earth" -- do you?

REAL ID theory vs. Christian lunacy
What has gone under the radar is that REAL ID theory simply states that certain phenomena suggest that the forming of the universe and, in particular, this planet, cannot be explained by physical evolution ALONE. The complexity of the eye, the periodic table, and the DNA molecule mentioned above are evidence...notice, I didn't say proof...just evidence.
Moreover, this level of ID theory can accept that perhaps consciousness itself evolves, just as physical matter does, from the simplistic survival/reaction mechanism in insects, to the complex philosophies of human beings. Anyone who has studied or practiced Buddhist or Hindu philosophy can see the distinct possibility here. Why would it not be possible for consciousness to evolve to such a complexity that it can then influence the material world and mold it accordingly? The evolved consciousness influences physical matter into vessels, by which it can replicate and develop and thereby survive.
This is not so unscientific, as long as we approach it as a theory and apply what we already know accordingly.
HOWEVER...the tragedy of ID theory is that it's been hijacked by Bible bumpkins who know very little about the scientific method of investigation, and who take that very broad-based theory and do a quantum leap of conclusion, to insist that the world MUST have been created by some Daddy God in seven days (how does one define a day when there is no sun and no planet to orbit around it?), and then set about to prove it, with no control and no regard for any evidence that could refute their ideas. All scientific theories must submit to skeptical scrutiny. The Creationists utterly refuse to do this. Thus, most Christian-based ID theory is junk science and political maneuvering towards the rigid indoctrination of our youth, at the expense of the kind of critical thinking that has forged our civilization.

more sloppy thinking
Irreducible complexity (IC) assumes that biological systems are too complex to have evolved from simpler precursor systems because those precursor systems would not operate as the original. Several examples are usually put forward including eye complexity, blood clotting complexity and one favorite of the ID crowd, flagella (biological molecular motor) complexity.

Let's consider, flagella, the molecular motor of several bacteria. The IC claim is that by removing a single component (protein) from the three dozen or so necessary proteins that the bacteria's molecular motor requires to operate, the motor would fail. However, that fact does not lead to the conclusion that the motor could not have evolved from one or more ancestor systems possessing a subset of the original protein (component) set. Those proteins in the ancestor cells could have been used for other functions totally unrelated to the operation of a biological molecular motor.

The key is to realize that evolution allows for the possibility of different functionality from similar components. It does not require that each component operate similarly in larger systems.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the latest research shows the above explanation to be consistent with the evidence.

The Reducible Flagellum
What you don't mention is that the so called "irreducible complexity" of the eye and the flagellum, for example, have been proven to be reducible.

The Daily Dose: Making irreducible complexity a bit simpler
Science & Theology News, October 13, 2005

...While you're at PubMed, try searching for "bacterial flagella secretion." One of the resulting papers, by SI Aizawa (2001), reports that some nasty bacteria possess a molecular pump, called a type III secretion system, or TTSS, that injects toxins across cell membranes. Much to Dr. Behe's distress, THE TTSS IS A SUBSET OF THE BACTERIAL FLAGELLUM. That's right, a part of the supposedly irreducible bacterial "outboard motor" has a biological function!

When I asked Dr. Behe about this at lunch he got a bit testy, but acknowledged that the claim is correct (I HAVE WITNESSES). He added that the bacterial flagellum is still irreducibly complex in the sense that the subset does not function as a flagellum.

Why is this important?

His response might seem like a minor concession, but is very significant. The old meaning of irreducible complexity was, "It doesn't have any function when a part is removed." Evidently, the new meaning of irreducible complexity is "It doesn't have the same function when a part is removed."

THE NEW DEFINITION RENDERS IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY IRRELEVANT TO EVOLUTION, because complex adaptations are widely thought to have evolved through natural selection co-opting existing structures for new functions, in opportunistic fashion...

http://www.stnews.org/Commentary-1791.htm

Funny stuff!
I agree with Rhampton, having spoken to a great many ID'ers and creationist as well.

But the thing I would like to address is your "micro-evolution". Apparently evolution works but only on a limited basis? Evolution only goes so far and then stops? So the mechanisms of evolution have some kind of kill-switch that stops the process before drastic changes occur?

Perhaps you would consider this: those small changes are evidence that great changes can take place over thousands and millions of years.

Perhaps you can answer one question in your own words: if there is no evolution then describe how the fossil record came to be. How do you explain the enormous diversity of life that existed in the past and the fact that it ceased to exist? How was it laid down in stratified layers that can be aged? Is the Intelligent Designer some kind of joker?

But God makes perfect scientific sense?
First, don't confuse the fact of evolution with the theory on the mechanism.

>"the fossil record should show much, much, much more evidence of evolution than it does."

Why? This statement totally ignores the amazing set of circumstances that have to happen for fossilization to occur. Fossils of any type are extremely rare. Do you want a complete roadmap?

It also ignores the fact that a great many transition species have been found: archaeopteryx (dinosaur/bird), sarcopterygian (fish/amphibian), as well as the two dozen plus different species that show the transition from ape to man. I am sure others can provide more examples.

>"the theory cannot account for the Cambrian explosion, which seems like a pretty big problem."

Not really since most IDers don't have a clue as to what they are talking about. Please put to rest the claim that there are no fossils before the Cambrian explosion. There are plenty of fossils even of multicellular Precambrian organisms such as jellyfish, coelenterates, and annelids. There are far fewer fossils before than during and after the Cambrian explosion, but they are there, so the existence of Precambrian organisms should not be in doubt.

The smaller number of fossils before the Cambrian explosion is expected because the majority of Precambrian organisms were soft-bodied, making them less likely to become fossilized. This is not to say that Precambrian fossilization was impossible, just that it was less likely, so we would expect even fewer fossils than normal.

It is currently debated whether the Cambrian explosion represents a sudden increase in diversity or merely a sudden increase in fossilization probability. Some paleontologists believe that most of the diversification of body plans occurred before the Cambrian explosion, but happened in soft-bodied organisms less amenable to fossilization. During the Cambrian era, however, global environmental changes created selection pressure for hard shells, which increased the probability of fossilization. According to this account, which receives some confirmation from both Precambrian fossils and molecular clocks, the apparent "explosion" of body forms in the Cambrian era would be an illusion.

Even if the full diversification of body plans did happen in the Cambrian explosion, the diversification rate is consistent with normal rates of evolution. Given how many niches were still open to exploitation at the beginning of the Cambrian era, there is nothing inherently improbable about so many new forms appearing when they did.

See? Not hard to explain at all and one certainly doesn't need a "miracle" to do it.

>"Also, I've yet to hear a GOOD example that refutes the irreducible complexity."

Then you haven't been looking hard. Rhampton has some for you.

>"specific claims to knowledge are always circumscribed with "maybe," "perhaps," "suggest," "could have" but high school kids are taught with certainty that evolution is true. No other serious intellectual pursuit that I know of permits firm conclusions based on so much individual conjecture."

Sure there is: religion. Actually, this is the point where you IDers confuse the fact of evolution with the theory of the evolutionary mechanisms.

>"Those who actively support evolution are emotionally committed to its truth."

And religionists aren't? One does not need emotion to see the facts of evolution. Where the emotion comes in is when religionists attempt to pollute science with dogma.

>"So, it seems that the main strength of evolution is that it is the only explanation that excludes God."

Actually the main strength is that it relies on the scientific method. God should never be a part of that equation since the very notion of God is beyond the scope of science. Just as science is supposed to be removed from religious dogma.

Silly questions ...
Don't know if every new species required a "miracle" (e.g., a God that had to temporarily roll back the forces of the universe to accomplish something), and I don't really care. I didn't argue in favor of ID. I only argued that evolution doesn't have much going for it in terms of evidence.

As for young earth, everything I've read indicates that the earth has been around for a very, very long time. I've only read a few journal articles about it. Never really sat down and examined the evidence for and against.

Nothing is outside God's knowledge
You seem to be saying that by the rules of the game, God does not have perfect knowledge ("the instantaneous transmission of perfect information"). That's putting it mildly. Every once in a great while He lets one get past Him, and a planetesimal slams into the place, rendering the planet only partially inhabitable until it heals.

Also, there's that thing about all God's creatures having to devour one another in order to survive. He couldn't have come up with a better plan than dog eat dog?

Not convincing ...
My favorite phrase from your post is "evolution allows for the possibility fo different functionality from similar components." A scientist can make any proposition that he or she wants to make. But what does the evidence say? What is this latest research that you mention? Is it merely consistent or actually convincing?

At the risk of offending, I generally go along with those who accuse the evolution folks of sloppy thinking ... tautologies, convenient hypotheses that cover every possible criticism, ignoring evidence against etc. As far as I can tell, the only reason that evolution exists is that no one has found a suitable alternative that meets minimum scientific requirements (in this case, no miracles). So they keep patching up this one, even though it looks weaker and weaker.

Okay, but ...
We'll start with fossils. I think I understand about the problems associated with preserving fossiles. But ... why is it that the only the transition fossils tend to not be preserved? Transitions should take millions of years, so they should be there too.

As for the "transitions" found, I've bumped into lots of articles by evolutionists themselves that say they are classified as transitions based upon very slim evidence and lots of assumptions. And every one I read, again I'm confronted with words such as "suggest" and "may," which indicates that the writer is not so sure. Those are not words that inspire confidence.

As for humans, I read up on that one several years ago so I'm rusty. But for the sake of argument, let's say the data fits. First of all, we need more than one full-up success story given the vastness of the data sets. That is an n=1.

Cambrian ... I've read that the Chinese found lots of soft bodied fossils, so I'm not buying it. Besides, my understanding is that the Cambrian also yieled lots of creatures with bones. Why did they just appear?

Not good enough for me to tell my kid that this stuff is true. So far, this whole subject areas is an opportunity for me to teach my kid about how not to do science.

Religionists ... I didn't want to outright accuse evolutionists of religious faith, but the similarities are pretty strong. Also, religion does not claim to be science. Religions such as Christianity are based upon faith. Its nice when the facts outright support it, but it is not always necessary. I've talked to some Christians who think that God planted fossils as a test. Not my cup of tea, but they did not claim to be scientists engaged in objective thinking.

Finally, a comment about the title of your post. I don't know if God makes sense in this case. This problem does not boil down to two choices. Science is not an either or proposition. And ... I'm all for keeping God out of the equations, so we agree on that at least.

Another person without a clue
Who said there was no evolution? Certainly not me. Certainly not the ID people. The head of the program at the Discovery Institute has published on the Cambrian Explosion which happened 520 million years ago. What is not know is the mechanism for the evolution. Neo Darwinism has some limited effect but for major rearrangement of the DNA, it is of no use. No evidence anywhre for gradual changes leading anywhere.

I don't have to explain anything because evolution did exist, but no one knows how it happened. And I will repeat, Neo Darwinism did not accomplish all the changes that are in the fossil record. In fact there is not one example in the fossil record of Neo Darwinism at work. How many times do I have to repeat this for it to get through. So all your comments have no relevance to what I said.

If you want to debate how the fossil record came about then you have to come up with something besides Darwin. No wonder you could not get anywhere on Dembski's site. It does not suffer fools lightly and you obviously know very little.

okay
Fair enough.

But I note the very last sentence there:

"...because complex adaptations are widely thought to have evolved through natural selection co-opting existing structures for new functions..."

"widely thought" doesn't sound like proof to me that evolution alone is the answer to life as we know it.

And before you go any further with debunking ID, keep some Quantum Theory in mind. Unless some new discovery has taken place that I didn't know about, scientists have yet to figure out if light is a series of waves or particles. Whatever it is, it does come from the sun and it fortifies life in both plants and animals. Many people consider light to be "spiritual".

I think the key mystery with this debate is the nature and definition of consciousness itself. Someone up there said consciousness is nothing but atoms, molecules, nerves and electrical impulses. I think it's a hasty conclusion to say that's ALL it is.

It reminds me of an argument against atheism: that the notion of no God relies ONLY upon the five physical senses and those senses are limited. We've observed other animals hearing things we can't, seeing things we can't and feeling things we can't. We can't see into their minds to determine how they interpret what they experience. There have been theories about plant consciousness, as many people suggest that plants respond to music and tone of voice.

I'm not particularly interested in arguing one theory over another, merely to mention that both theories have unknown territories in them, and so as long as nobody is asserting that they already know for a fact, one or the other, without the final proof, ID is not necessarily something to toss into the trash.

And again, that leaves the Bible bumpkins out in the cold, since all they have is an agenda.

The word "evolution" is a misnomer
As stated in the article, the term "evolution" connotes various observations in the archeological record"

"...explains the fossil record's distinct patterns, with older, deeper layers of rock containing only simple invertebrates, and newer layers revealing the successive appearance of fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Evolution explains the presence in living organisms of vestigial organs and of segments of DNA that once served a function but no longer do. It also explains the geographic distribution of organisms -- for example, why oceanic islands have plants, insects and birds similar to those of the closest mainland areas"

HOWEVER, the term "evolution" itself DEnotes "gradual development" or "A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form". The term evolution has a teleological meaning.

For instance, most view "evolution" as a natural process that may occur everywhere in the universe. Whereby "simple life" "evolves" into "more complex life".

....this simply isn't true.

The fact is, there is no "law of evolution". Its more correct to define the archeological record as "random genetic chance". Because its only an accident that life is able to randomly change in order to maintain an existence in an ever-changing environment.

Another for instance....it could very well be that the archeological history on Earth is a completely freakish accident in which life "got lucky" and was able to "keep up" with environmental changes. Adaptation is a pure accident...its not a law or a necessity. Adaptation MAY not occur. In fact, if life does exist elsewhere, it may not adapt for long or at all and become completely extinct. Life on Earth may one day become completely extinct, because of a lack of fortuitous random genetic mutations (i.e. "adaptations").

The point I'm trying to make is that the "evolutionists" debating the "intelligent designists" is a exercise in futility. BOTH are wrong.

Just when you think I'm done...lol. I suppose it is theoretically possible that there are laws in the universe which actually do facilitate "evolution" to the point of producing sentience or self-conscious life...i.e. intelligence. This is BOTH "evolution" AND "intelligent design".

.....but I tend to believe the non-teleological explanation....we are one huge freakish accident and quite unique in the universe. In fact, I believe that "life" as we know it is a result of an almost infinite (keword "almost") of inprobable events ( or "adaptations")....i.e. we are just one HUGELY improbable reality. But, given enough time, and the right mix of variables, we can happen again...perhaps in other universes.

I digress....

You are still clueless
Lactate plus, lactate threshold, lactate testing, lactate analyzer, anaerobic threshold, lactate test for training, anaerobic training, maximal lactate steady state, cycling, triathlon training, triathlete, running, rowing, swimming, conditioning, endurance training, performance, lactic acid, heart rate training, onset blood lactate, , anaerobic exercise, anaerobic training, lactate level, improve muscle endurance 49 373 421

You have no concept of the argument. The argument by the Darwinists against the bacteria flagellum is that a small subset can have another function and therefore the superset is not irreducibly complex. In other words if I find some small part of a large irreducibly complex system that has another purpose then the much larger system will just naturally evolve from this small subsystem. It is a nonsense and sophist argument. Anybody with half a brain can see through it.

What about all the other complex parts and how about the assembly instructions which are more complex than the flagellum. It is like saying an engine will self assemble if you only line up the right parts. And 3/4 of these parts are not used anywhere else but you do have a carburetor which can be used. Therefore if I come up with a carburetor the rest of the parts will magically appear all at the same time in the same place and then assemble through a complex set of instructions that have fortuitously appeared.

You shouldn't post on these things since you haven't a clue what is involved. And there is no explanation for how the eye evolved. All modern eyes first appeared during the Cambrian explosion out of nowhere with no predecessors. There was no progression of eye types. Those who say they can explain it are just hand waving.

Somehow something got posted that is irrelevant.
The first part of my previous post is something I was doing with another project and some how got in my post. So pardon my screw up and ignore the first paragraph.

God Is Everywhere
It's the same universe whether you believe in the Christian concept of God or a Universal concept of God. Accidents will still happen, good people will still die, and moral ambiguities abound. But by studying the universe (instead of scriptures) you actually learn about Creation, about God, as it really exists.

Feathers Before Flight
"In other words if I find some small part of a large irreducibly complex system that has another purpose then the much larger system will just naturally evolve from this small subsystem. It is a nonsense and sophist argument. Anybody with half a brain can see through it."

Feathers evolved before feathered flight, possibly for insulation and/or for mating display. The first feathers were a modification of the hair folicle -- essentially a fixed series of split-ends.

Signaling gradient in flight feather formation
This Week In PNAS, January 24, 2006

Zhicao Yue et al. show that the development of flight feathers in birds depends on the gradient formation of the signaling molecule, Wnt3a. Flight feathers are bilaterally symmetric, whereas downy feathers are radially symmetric. In flight feathers, the rachis forms in the anterior zone of the follicular epithelium, and new barbs form in the posterior zone. Yue et al. analyzed the formation of embryonic downy, adult downy, and adult flight feathers. By in situ hybridization and RT-PCR, a higher expression of Wnt3a was observed in the anterior zone compared with the posterior zone of the developing flight feathers.

After disrupting the natural Wnt3a gradient by overexpressing the Wnt antagonistic Dickkopf1, the resultant chimeric feathers displayed a gradual conversion from bilateral to a more radial symmetry. Beads soaked with Wnt3a and implanted into developing feather follicles redirected barb ridges to curve toward them. When placed away from the original rachis, the beads induced a new barb generative zone together with a new rachis. Furthermore, swapping the dermal papillae from the wing covert and from breast downy feathers showed that the origin of the dermal papillae determined the phenotype of the chimeric feathers, directing the formation of the Wnt3a gradient.

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1347962

Not convincing == sloppy thinking
What I wrote was correct.

You have created a straw man to knock down by faulty reasoning (aka sloppy thinking).

Lets review what you wrote.

[1] A scientist can make any proposition...
True, but so what? Strawman alert.

[2] But what does the evidence say?
See my original post.

[3] What is this latest research that you mention?
Google it. I don't feel the need to spoon feed you and run the risk you will still insist there is no convincing evidence.

[4] At the risk of offending...ignoring evidence against etc.
I take no offense from those who will not accept scientific proof of a controversial topic. Surprise maybe.

[5] ...the only reason that evolution exists is that no one has found a suitable alternative.

Ahh, here is the crux of the problem. You don't accept ANY explanation for the diverse species around us. By your own words:
[a] you don't accept evolution because it is a poor explanation for observed reality
[b] any other explanation is unsuitable.

sloppy thinking

Your comments Obliquity are irresponsible
It saddens me to see such irresponsible statements as if someone has all the answers and Christians are dumb clucks when it comes to science. I guess I am a dumb chemical engineer since I read the Bible and believe it. How sad for me. I have been reading about this issue for the past five years in retirement. But, since I am a Christian, I probably have it all wrong.

Still I read there are numerous problems such as Jerry4 and JakeDB mentioned, which I agree with, still I will mention some of my dumb ideas as well. First, modern science was developed due to "reason" found in the Christian God's Word starting in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The great scientists in those days were Christians and knew the Bible well. Second, no one and I mean no one in science can explain the immaterial intellect. The immaterial intellect is what identifies man as different in kind than animals, not different in degree. All animals with the exception of man cannot think conceptually. Thirdly, not anyone on this site including myself could stand in the light of men such as Newton, Aquinas or Augustine. To call them Bible bumpkins is over the line. You simply do not know what you are talking about. Fourthly, science can make an atom bomb, but it cannot tell persons whether to drop it or not. This is what is called morals developed in philosophy and verified in divine revelation (Bible). It is interesting to note that the natural moral law is based upon a self evident truth, "Do good, and avoid evil". Every human being since the time of man knows this truth through inclination and is known in all culturals. Where did morals come from? Oh yeah, you guys said they just dropped out of the sky from a buzzard. Lastly, information is immaterial. Only an intelligence can communicate or write information. The idea that information developed through space, time and chance is nonsense.

The answer to all of this is something bigger than us created this universe, and the universe follows laws and man knows morals. I call this "something bigger" God. Otherwise, it is all meaningless. And if you do not believe there is God, it want change anything. At your death you will have to deal with Him and suffer the consequences. Don't blame it on me. Now call me a nasty @#$%^&*#$%^&.

more sloppy thinking
Teleological theories are ID-like for the existence of God.

You wrote:
"...the term "evolution" itself DEnotes 'gradual development'..." The term evolution has a teleological meaning.


Evolution is the change in certain traits of a population over generational time spans. There are two basic mechanisms which produce evolutionary changes.

A - Natural selection describes the relative increase of beneficial gene sequences.

B - Genetic drift describes changes in gene copies over general time spans.

Evolution has nothing to do with ID or God. It is the best theory available to explain observed biologically-related data and also to help make testable predictions. Neither ID nor God can be invoked to make testable predictions, Revelations not withstanding.

TS

ok, we're at a stand off
1) a scientist can continually patch a theory with new propositions to cover every objection until it is no longer testable, or worse, it starts to look like a religion (e.g., explains everything). Freud's theory became that way. If one objected to it, even the objection itself was used as evidence in its favor. Marxism and military affairs are others.

2) I've read lots of journal articles and books over the years, though I'll be the first one to admit that I'm a layman at this stuff (to repeat an earlier posting, I used it as a case study to learn more about epistemology in general). Maybe I missed or mis-interpreted something. But after looking, I came away with the opoinion, "is that all there is?" "They are hanging their hat on that?" You apparently are satisfied. Such is science.

3) Please see 2

4) Thanks.

5) I disagree about not excepting ANY explanation. I am content with saying that "we have some ideas, but the data sets are troublesome ...but for the most part, we don't know ... we are working on it." There has to be something better. Something that fits the data better.

I guess the crux of it for me is that I see little or no admission that there are significant problems with the theory. In general, critics are ridiculed or told that the evidence is strong and then pointed to articles full of conjecture and words such as "suggest" and "may."

Maybe I'm wrong and evolution (writ large) is correct. Happily, one can be 180 degrees out on this subject and no one gets hurt. Not so with some others.

Thanks for the responses.

Jake

I think you missed the point...
The point is NOT YOUR definition of the word "evolution". A and B are attributes of what you use the word "evolution" to describe. My gripe is the word "evolution" itself. What I'm trying to say is that using that word to describe attributes A and B you list is inappropriate....because the word also connotes the notion that there is some law which governs continual adaptation of species to ever-changing environments towards more "complex" organisms...and dare I say, intelligence.

Also, I have a problem with A. The phrase "Natural Selection" also implies "purposeful" action. Its not "selection". Its complete accident...randomness....and chance.

I know its a fine point...

Think about it this way. The statement "90% of all species are now extinct". Extinction must be reconciled with "natural selection"....its just random chance that the 10% of remaining species remain in existence. This random chance is helped a great deal by the relatively unchanging environment on Earth. If say, the Earth were to suddenly fall victim to an Earth-destroying astronomical event, ALL life would cease to exist. Its a ridiculous example to prove a simple point..."natural selection" is not a law...its random chance.

To be fair, there are implicit arguments underlying my statements. I'm just wondering if any "get it" without me having to explain it in more explicit terms.

The ultimate argument is that the history of life on Earth is so highly improbable (approaching "impossible") that it must be unique. Given the infinity of time, and the possibility of infinite universes, it may occur elsewhere....but that is metaphysics. From observing the available evidence, I don't believe that there are universal laws which neccesitate the existence life as we know it from of our archeological record.

So, I think both "Evolution" and "Intelligent Design" may be false. Of course, I don't know everything...so, if I am ever presented with evidence to the contrary, I will change my opinion (i.e. I'm not partisan on the issue).

Us and the bilaterians
Jake-- I find your comments very thought provoking. You're right in saying epistemology forms the key. And here I would ask the question thusly: is the foundation of knowledge more properly faith in the opinions that others have passed down to us? Or is it in the pursuit of the scientific method, where hypotheses are tested against verifiable data?

Your fisrt hypothesis is the if evolution is in fact the right interpretation to explain species differentiation, we should be finding a lot more bridge fossils than we do.

In fact we do find quite a few bridge fossils. Right now there is a lot of activity in China, where we're finding a great many transitional creatures along the continuum between theropod dinosaurs and birds. And across the globe we are filling in blanks among the dinosaurs. You would need to immerse yourself in the paleontological news to be aware of this. Just do yourself a favor, and don't blindly believe some guy on the web who says there are big whopping gaps.

The plain fact is that very nearly every creature ever born has all trace of his existence extinguished within moments of his death. Most of the remainder are gone within the following year or so. Every creature living in an erosional area is erased, except for the few that get washed intact down to a depositional area. We have precious little trace of all the creatures who have ever lived.

We do have exciting new traces of the first creature to actually do something instead of just sitting there. It is a wormlike little bit capable of locomotion across what was formerly just an inert bacterial mat. Here he is:

http://english.people.com.cn/200406/06/eng20040606_145457.html

http://www.brightsurf.com/EDU_news_092702.html

He's worth a degree of study if you want to find out more about the way life evolved.

You can of course posit a deus ex machina, who invented little bilaterian one slow afternoon in heaven. But I would offer that this violates Occam's Razor.

The operations of the genetic mechanism alone are sufficient to explain the appearance of this little (22 cells) fellow. There is no need to posit a celestial biologist busily putting the design on paper first and executing it-- any more than there is any need to posit the pre-existence of six wizards who got together and created that God.

But the theory of our evolutionary origins does not preclude any belief in God. It deals with subject matter wholly outside the question of the origins of existence. Many scientists feel free to believe in evolutionary theory and also in God. Only a handful feel that belief in one must necessarily nullify any belief in the other.

Finally, if you take a good look at everything DNA illuminates, and still think it doesn't tell a story of modification from (generally) simpler organisms into more complex organisms, you would be a little like a cave man who finds a book, looks inside it, and makes no connection between the little squiggles and the intellectual concepts they imply.

We can now trace the familial relationships between our tribe and the proteobacteria. I don't think any quirky Inventor had the sense of humor necessary to put such a rich text of interlocking clues into place without its actually being the correct explanation. But please look into it further, and come to your own conclusions.

Sorry, there's a bit more
One comment of yours particularly catches my eye:

" the theory cannot account for the Cambrian explosion, which seems like a pretty big problem. The current explanation ("Punctuated equilibrium") sounds like a 'miracle' to me."

Actually punctuated equilibrium is not an explanation for the Cambrian Explosion, it's an explanation for your first objection-- the relative paucity of transitional species in light of the abundance of certain stable species.

And the plain fact is that the true unit of evolutionary change is the isolated breeding population-- not the individual. A successful species can go on for many millions of years, hardly changing a thing. But just let a small breeding population become isolated, for instance by rising sea levels that maroon them on an island. In a twinkling they can become a variant species. The tiny number of individuals actually illustrating the change from one species to another are statistically unlikely to become preserved and later discovered.

Thus bingo! a new species. How did it get there. Did God make it?

One has to count the number of beetles in existence to put this into perspective. The immense variety of beetle species has caused at least one observer to comment that God must have been inordinately fond of them, He created so many different ones.

As for the Cambrian Explosion, it was an arms race. All it required was a cellular mechanism for making hard parts. Thus creatures with either armor or teeth, or scales, or claws, had an evolutionary advantage over all the soft-bodied, defenseless creatures. Obviously the defenses of one had to adapt to the offenses of another, and a panoply of different organisms all evolved in a relative instant of time.

Again, look into it. This one is extremely easy to illustrate.

Necessary elements
Thanks for widening the true scope of the argument. You offer as examples of irreducible complexity not just the workings of DNA but the Periodic Table. So the argument really is whether all this was (a) created by some intelligent Being, or (b) just grew like Topsy.

And such a view must only be grounded in one's own instinctive feelings. There can be no evidence, if you assume that any evidence might just have been planted by a whimsical Creator. We have to go on our best hunches.

I, for instance, have no trouble at all envisioning a primal point of energy just blowing itself apart willy nilly-- and finding the bits of dust falling out from such an explosion to be organized into different atoms posessing differing qualities, according to their makeup. No designer needed there.

The second objection, again just according to the way I see it, is that you just can't posit an intelligent being that pre-exists whatever it is He is intelligent about.

We learn by doing. I could readily see a God stumbling around trying to a simple blob of something-- anything. And then aeons later being able to compose celestial music like some divine Mozart. But I can't envision any entity starting out knowing everything, and then filling in the blanks of what it knows. God, like everyone else, has to learn by doing. And such a force is not needed in any explanation I can imagine for the question of Why Things Are. Things can as easily just come about by themselves.

I hope you will consider this comment to be responsible
The big distinction to me is between people who believe something to be so because they have it on good authority that it is so, and people who employ the scientific method to determine whether it actually may be so. These two bodies of knowledge occupy absolutely different realms.

The nature of consciousness is one of those things that still belongs in category One. I am assuming that although you draw a line between intelligent, reasoning creatures (us) and all other creatures (mere animals), you admit that we all to some degree have sentience? Or do you?

I would offer that there is no hard and fast line, given sentience, distinguishing a dumb creature from a smart one. Dumb creatures are merely those who don't employ verbal communication. They are nonetheless smart about those things in their world they need to be smart about. Are they different from us because they don't philosophize? I would first ask "How do we know they don't philosophize? Just because they write nothing down?"

Western man has distinguished himself throughout his historical expansion by finding other people with other cultures, and congratulating himself that they were barbarians without understanding and hence without souls, and exterminating them in order to free up more real estate for his own benign development. Thus do they consider it to be with the animals. They have no names, thus no existences worth considering.

Anyone watching a dog by the roadside nudging his dead companion to get up and start playing again understands the kinds of things all creatures think about. And even performing chickens are okay at simple arithmetic. We distinguish ourselves by being, with the ants, the creatures who start wars.

you can't redefine words for personal convenience
You argue about a definition of evolution which has nothing to do with evolution.

See my last post for evolution.

You discuss natural selection as though it has an implicit definition which it clearly does not. I'll be clear:

Natural Selection is the PROCESS (nothing mentioned about purposeful action) by which individual organisms (plants, bacteria, humans) with favorable traits (stronger, faster, smarter) are more likely (increasing probability) to survive (live) and reproduce (have offspring).

You apply the word "law" as in "'natural selection' is not a law". Don't confuse these definitions:
-A law is the result of observations.
-A theory is the explanation of one or more observations.
-A fact is an event which has occurred, something which existed or exists, a concept which can be proved.

You continue with:
"The ultimate argument is that the history of life on Earth is so highly improbable (approaching 'impossible') that it must be unique."

Faulty logic (1): type-X occurring is rare, thus there is only one type-X.

Faulty logic (2): type-X is unique, thus evolution is wrong.

Also the entire paragraph:
"...The statement "90% of all species are now extinct". Extinction must be reconciled with "natural selection"....a simple point..."natural selection" is not a law...its random chance.

Incorrect definition "law" see above.

To recap evolution is (my last post)

ID (intelligent design) is the theory (see theory above) that some/many/all (ID lite/ID mid/ID strong) features of living organisms are best explained by an intelligent cause (designer).

Lastly,
[1] Evolution is the best theory (explanation based upon observations) which **explains** biological-related measurements and observations. Furthermore, it is the best theory which can be used to make **testable predictions** about situations and scenarios which have not yet been observed.
[2] ID and creationism is the theory that some/most/all organisms observed and yet to be observed on Earth are the result of a directed process initiated by an intelligence (aka God). It makes no testable predictions.
[3] If it can be shown that ID/creationism provides better explanations AND predictions than evolution, then ID/creationism will become the theory of choice.
[4] The ultimate power and usefulness of a theory is the quality and accuracy of its predictions.

TS

Thermodynamics, open systems and evolution
The second law of thermodynamics (2nd Law):
"Entropy of a **closed system** not at equilibrium tends to increase over time..."

A "closed system" does not allow for the introduction or removal of mass or energy. An "open system" does.

DNA molecules, including the precursor of DNA molecules and the "first DNA molecule" (your post) are part of an **open** system. Ie, energy and mass is available to the molecules. There is no conflict with the 2nd Law due to the operation of an open system.

About PE hypothesis, I can't comment as I don't know enought about the topic. Perhaps others in this thread can?

you still don't get it...
I'm not redefining the word. Darwin did. The term "evolve" had a meaning before Darwin usurped it. "To evolve" meant "to develop" or "to advance". My whole point (and this is the last time I'll try to make it) is the term is a misnomer...and was a misnomer from the very beginning.

Also, its called "The Theory OF Evolution"...as if evolution were a fact. But "evolution" is not a fact. Nothing has "evolved" in the traditional sense of the word (the sense of the word before Darwin used it to describe the archeological record and observations of disparate geological groups of living organisms). Genetic mutations have "changed"...but I wouldn't use the word "evolved"...as if there is some general direction towards something. Mankind is not the necessary outcome of "evolution". Mankind is not the necessary outcome of random genetic mutation...neither are all of the species in existence....hence nothing "evolves". The archeological records only has the APPEARANCE of "evolution" from simpler to more complex forms because our existence is still mere chance. There is no "direction" of genetic mutation and adaptation. My point is that the very term "evolution" implies intelligent design!!! lol.

...I give up....there is no use in trying to explain it further. If you don't get it, you don't get it.

A message without knowledge
Unless you have a good grasp of theology (Christian), science and philosophy, it is difficult to have a discussion with you. Your last paragraph demonstrates that, which by the way, is purely speculation without the empirical evidence you are mentioning. It is only opinion.

Actually science is a study of what is already created, and it is restricted to the material. But, theology and philosophy are not. A good philosophical proof is "the parts are always smaller than the whole". I do not need the material to prove this. I can also investigate with contradictions.

It is very interesting the human being is the only species with immaterial intellect. It is mentioned in Genesis of the Bible written about 3500 years ago of which you know nothing about. There are absolute morals which many today do not believe. In this view they have no basis for recognizing any morals except their own, relativism. This ends up "might is right". You cannot criticize Stalin or Hussein who have as much right as you to derive morals. Utilitarianism does not solve the problem either. Check out John Stuart Mill.

Evolutionary theory today is mostly discussed philosphically. Some call it philosophical or scientific naturalism. For example, common descent is a theory and not a fact. The only proof for it is philosophical or opinion. It is actually extrapolated microevolution. Opinion and knowledge are two different things. Jerry4 and JakeDB discussed this.

Bean, until you become well versed in science, philosophy and a Christian who has read the Bible with help from God's Spirit, our communication is poor. I am sorry, but I simply do not have any more time to discuss this.

TCS Daily Archives