William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Real Philosophy Is Science — Guest Post by Old David

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Editor’s note: Old David, a.k.a. David Marwick from Australia, is familiar from the comment pages, and I thought it would be fun if he were on the receiving end of criticisms. He graciously agreed. His article is also interesting for embracing common errors.

A wise old professor of philosophy defined philosophy for me as “The search for knowledge and understanding of reality using a scientific instrument called logic”.

Of course, that definition is entirely repugnant to “scientists” and “philosophers” of today even though it is the only definition I’ve ever heard that is inherently consistent and coherent.

To illustrate my assertion let’s compare and contrast speculation and assessment, ideological fancies and methodical examination, rationalism and the principles of logic.

The principles of logic are based on the “law of non-contradiction”; essentially, a proposition and its contradiction cannot both be “true”. Any logical assessment must be based on a certainly known premise, and a contradiction of that premise renders the “argument” invalid and absurd. A certainly known or “self evident” premise is one where the only alternative to a proposition is its contrary and which contrary is self-contradictory and thus absurd. A couple of primordial examples will do to illustrate: “I exist” and “a thing that does not exist cannot cause itself to exist”.

All science is composed of sub-disciplines under the great umbrella of philosophy; the great desire for knowledge and understanding of reality. A physicist can gain a PhD… which means “Doctor of Philosophy”. Philo-sophy etymologically means “the love of wisdom”; that is, the desire for, and to spend oneself to get, the right answer. Of course, the law of non-contradiction always applies. The “answer” cannot be “right” if it is self-contradictory or contradictory of certainly known premises.

The application of this logical procedure leads directly to what’s known as a “scientific method” which starts with an observation, proceeds to possible explanations (hypotheses) to be tested with logical congruity to certainly known facts, observation and experiment. Any real contradiction to any of which renders the hypothesis a “dud” or failure. This is the requirement for testability or falsifiability; a proposition that can’t be tested is not an hypothesis, it is a mere speculation with no claim to being any kind of science. As Karl Popper so elegantly put it “It’s not only not right; it’s not even wrong”.

Rationalism, on the other hand, starts with the assumption of an ideal then proceeds to try to find plausible justifications and excuses for the assumptions. The only judgement of the “rightness” or “wrongness” of the excuses proffered is whether or not they suit the ideology assumed. Logic or facts have nothing to do with it, they are irrelevant to the purpose. The “truth” is entirely determined by marketability and convenience. Magic! Quite the opposite of a “scientific method”.

(Mathemagics is an invaluable asset to this process). (Aside: years ago I tried to wade through pages of obscure formulas and symbols from the clever idiot in the talking wheelchair purporting to “mathematically prove” that time goes back and fourth like a pendulum. It doesn’t seem to have taken off as you don’t see the Sagan, Dawkins, Attenbrough, etc. salesmen flogging it these days).

Now, let’s focus all this on fashionable fancies purporting to be “science” and “philosophy”.

Just about all the “scientistic” dogmas of ideological Materialism don’t come anywhere near the the most basic requirements of science or a scientific method. They can only qualify as fantastic superstitions rationalised by speculative interpretations of carefully selected and censored observations.

It is almost universally assumed that practically everything that exists is spontaneously produced from a lesser antecedent. A lovely speculation that might be an hypothesis, that might become a theory if there was even one real observation or experiment that suggested that it was a possibility; not even requiring an example of it ever having happened.

I refer particularly to the almost universal supposition of “Evolution”; the most perverse and harmful superstition ever to destroy mind and culture. It is demonstrably and certainly an impossible speculation. There is not the slightest chance of it being in any way possible unless all the relevant, well known, easily demonstrable Natural Laws and logic do not apply. Scientifically (philosophically (logically), physically, chemically, biologically, and mathematically (probability)) it is certainly completely impossible.

Logically (philosophically) it is impossible because a thing (like a system) that does not exist cannot cause itself to exist, and an effect cannot be greater than its cause. (Logic is a metaphysical science even if it does not comply with the Briggs Commandment against reification).

Physical (empirical) science also prohibits “Evolution” because it is directly contrary to the well known, easily demonstrable Natural Law we call entropy. The best (most succinct and precise) definition (description) of entropy is as it occurs in the “Second Law of Thermodynamics”; “All ordered systems, left to themselves, tend toward maximum randomness and lowest energy (potential or differential)”. That means that order naturally tends to degenerate into randomness (disorder) and energy potential tends to dissipate into a uniformity without potential.

Mathematically, the probability that even one simple protein could form by random accident is practically zero. Even the simplest live thing is composed of a concert of very complex and specialised proteins never, ever could happen by random accident or series of accidents even if entropy wasn’t a factor.

I am contending that all “science” and sophistry that even tacitly assumes the fraudulent dogma of “Evolution” will inevitably lead to all the errors of Modernism, both secular and “theological”, and thus all the mental, spiritual and cultural decay so much in evidence.

Briggs replies below

I’ll take on only the matter of evolution. The second law of thermodynamics is “violated” continuously; for instance, as I type this. If the law operated everywhere and continuously the universe would long be dead. The second law only makes a statement about “closed systems” and “on average”, so there is nothing wrong or inconsistent with the occasional increasing order.

It is common to mistake the reality of evolution with the theory that is said to drive it (a sort of reverse Deadly Sin of Reification!). Evolution is obvious; what caused it up for debate. Neo-Darwinian theory to explain man is certainly false (and if you think not, explain in strict neo-Darwinian terms abortion, adoption, LGBTianism, contraception, abstinence, etc.), and it is almost surely false to account for the rise of most (all?) species. Small, gradual, almost imperceptible changes accreting to organisms causing all those species? Part of the problem lies in misunderstandings of “chance” and “randomness”, which both proponents and critics of neo-Darwinianism get wrong.

There is no such thing as chance or randomness; therefore, they are not causative; therefore, they could not cause mutations; therefore, they could not cause speciation; etc. Something more akin to punctuated equilibrium makes more sense than wee changes. Let me put it this way in the short space available: things can only go where they can. Thus that a brand new species (a multitude of genetic changes) suddenly pops up from the detritus of an old one is not impossible.

Yes, that implies design, but so does everything. Two proteins meeting each other can only react in the ways according to their design; their essence. And if you say, “Well, what’s important is how their electrons etc. interact”, then you have merely pushed the design one level deeper, for then two or more electrons can only interact according to their design. The same with quarks or strings or mathematical equations or whatever. Design is inherent!

The universe (at its basest, most fundamental level) has to be this way for some reason. That reason cannot be “chance” or “randomness.” It must be because of something actual. For more on that, this series. Anyway, evolution is in no way inconsistent with Christianity. Of course, some theories of evolution are inconsistent with reality. But then that is true of so many theories these days.

Many are desperate not to admit to error in neo-Darwinianism because they believe that that theory disproves the existence of God. Thus why one worm has three and not two rings on its clittellum is not their real matter of interest. Becoming an “intellectually fulfilled atheist” is. (Don’t forget that humans are partly spiritual, which are bits not subject to physical forces, bits which therefore can’t be “evolved” by physical mechanism, which is why any purely physical or chemical theory of the evolution of man must be wrong.)

Before (as in before and not after, which even though I insist upon it I know it’s a condition which will be violated by many) readers go off on “intelligent design” and “creationism” without understanding what those terms mean, listen to or read This and this and this and this, which summarize views I share.

72 Comments

  1. ” tried to wade through pages of obscure formulas and symbols from the clever idiot in the talking wheelchair”

    Very intelligent.

    ANOTHER unbeatable argument from a real tough guy.

  2. Must be a rough day, huh?

  3. The idea expressed in the essay that Evolution involves something not existing causing itself to exist is clearly a misunderstanding of the term. Only existing systems can evolve. And all systems do evolve (ie, change in response to changing conditions). Increasing complexity of system parts occur as the energy flow from order (concentration) to disorder (dispersement) is intercepted through some channel that uses it to produce work (a modification of the system structure). See https://constructal.org/ for explanations and examples of how it works. The point is that the universe has an element of design or architecture that causes systems to adapt to local conditions as they change over time by reconfiguring the channels through which energy/volumes/particles flow. That is evolution. It’s an inherent and inseparable feature of all systems because it’s a law of physics. Take note that this says nothing about a spiritual element in existence. It’s merely a description of mechanism.

  4. Another one who doesn’t know what evolution actually is. Hint: it has nothing to do with the origin of proteins, or even of life itself. You guys are like a broken record, playing over and over.

  5. andyd, et al,
    Evolution acts on life as it already exists.
    Stretching the theory beyond the boundary within which evolution is said to have taken place is no good. The behavioralists try to do the same and make really bad arguments drawing on ‘advantageous’ traits.

    Evolution is not difficult to understand, it’s no good pretending that it is.

    What is not understood are the finer points as to how certain physical traits and human behaviour, the mind, have come about. Evolution does not ‘pretend’ to explain how life started.

    Evolution bears some of the weight of explanation, whatever anybody’s dogma tells them. There has been much misinterpretation of what the bible actually says and how exactly it is to be translated before even interpretation is considered. The original translations have a lot to answer for, it seems.

    There’s also a perpetual science versus God false argument which is normally, perpetuated by many on the side of creation. It is utterly unnecessary and plays into the hands of some less thinking atheists. You are letting the side down if you are falling into this trap.

    There is no conflict. Evolution is a mechanism. There is no conflict either between physics and God for precisely the same reason.

    Arguments about QM and evolution sit within the realms of science and the world that exists already. There is no need for Christians to be defensive about evolution theory.

    In my view evolution took place with some, I don’t know how many, acts of creation which guided or altered the process.

    I realise how unfashionable it is with crusty christians who believe that miracles only happened in the bible but I don’t subscribe to that. Nor do I use the word lightly.

    I detect from some prone towards physics and material explanations of science really would rather have God’s part be a very small one. Just some kind of puff or thought, way back, to help keep QM true. It keeps one on the right side of respectability with the intellectuals.

    However, if God exists, he can do anything. He is God, you are not.

  6. View from the Solent

    June 17, 2016 at 10:10 am

    As WM points out,
    ‘The second law only makes a statement about “closed systems” and “on average” ‘
    I see the important point as “closed systems”. If one is talking of evolution on Earth, it is not taking place in a closed system. EM radiation, lots of it, from the sun and the rest of the universe continually bathes the planet. Which makes the system far from closed.

  7. I read the relatedpost from December 2012.

    ‘None of this would be of much moment, except for the curious viciousness of some First Things readers, who ordinarily are more civil. The anonymous “AMF” called Kreeft a “laughable buffoon”; another anonymity (“HT”) borrowed a phrase from Peter Geach to imply that Kreeft was mired in “Cimmerian Darkness” because of his rejection of modern philosophy. ‘

    How times change, vicious, indeed.

  8. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 17, 2016 at 10:47 am

    There is no need for Christians to be defensive about evolution theory.

    Then God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. And so it happened: the earth brought forth vegetation…

    Then God said: Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature
    — Gen. 1:11-12, 24

    which led Augustine to write:

    It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth. In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in tmes to come.
    On the literal meanings of Genesis, Book V Ch. 4:11

    which led Aquinas to write:

    Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning.
    — Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, Part I Q73 A1 reply3

    Of course, mutation is not exactly putrefaction and he didn’t know what the “power” received by material existence was, but still, it has always been clear that new kinds would emerge from older kinds through secondary causation.

    Note: “if any such appear.” Aquinas knew of no species that were not also known to Aristotle, but he allowed for the possibility that new species might appear.

  9. One of the clever tactics of persuasion is to discuss facts & related/relevant science in proper context, then make a leap to some theoretical or contrived premise under the illusion that that leap is logical and derives from the truly objective facts presented, when it really does not. When the illusion works, it makes the thing being sold seem that much more credible, valuable.

    Cult leaders (malevolent) and sales pros use this all the time.

    The trick, to call it one, is to ensure we don’t delude ourselves or fall for such manipulations by others on things that really matter.

    Today in this guest essay we see that same tactic applied (with one clear target being the author to support his own self-delusion):

    The essay starts with rational/factual discussion of the roots of science in philosophy, logic, non-contradiction & so forth. Motherhood & apple pie stuff. Then this caution:

    “Rationalism, on the other hand, starts with the assumption of an ideal then proceeds to try to find plausible justifications and excuses for the assumptions.”

    That’s also true, and a great cautionary warning to avoid doing the same.

    Then…the author goes off on ideological precepts, berates without any support a commonly held theory with blatantly false/flawed ‘logic’/’science’ that is really clumsy propaganda — evolution cannot be true because of the thermodynamic law of entropy.

    It sure reads well if one doesn’t know about it, or other facts (like the evolution of viruses, or bacteria relative to human efforts with antibiotic medicines that prove the assertion that it cannot happen as blatantly wrong). And, as others noted, the use of the supporting tactic, the ad hominem (about the ‘idiot in the wheelchair’ for example).

    The ad hominem is the tactic of choice for dismissing the source of a threatening counter viewpoint/evidence when the person employing it cannot logically counter that viewpoint/evidence.

    Fortunately, belief in or rejection of evolution is of no consequence for the vast majority of us; for those where it matters (e.g. medical researchers) they’ll recognize reality as it is and work accordingly…or end up under-employed/marginalized.

    Evolution has negligible effect on anyone’s daily life, though the author calls it “the most perverse and harmful superstition ever to destroy mind and culture.” Omitting the fact that medical researcher implicitly accept this–because they confront it–in developing drugs that keep us and our children alive against the unrelenting onslaught of increasingly hostile bacteria.

    Briggs touches on the use [by few] that evolution is used to deny the existence of God. That may be true, but its a trivial argument.

    The real issue is that very many people hold a heretical view of religion (and a view totally unsupported by ANY historical documentation, and, which is supported by primitive reading into historical documents meanings never intended). For that ilk, if/when evolution is proven true they will be forced to confront that their particular form of theology & religious doctrine is false. They know this, and fight back with the familiar tactic outlined above as illustrated by Old David here today.

    Meantime, others such as the Catholics, will look on with some satisfaction that, finally, those protestants will be forced back to the true faith (Catholics are one sect that have no problem with evolution).

    Another, perhaps more important example of this self-delusional mind-control tactic, is obvious in N. DeGrasse Tyson’s debate with nephew B.o.B. about the Earth — spherical vs flat:

    http://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/b-o-b-s-claim-earth-is-flat-ignites-rap-battle-with-neil-degrasse-tyson-s-nephew-1.2752110

    The same self-delusional tactics are employed.

  10. It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth.

    Which seems to imply that clumping molecules together and adding some mysterious factor can result in life. If this unknown factor existed since creation or came about through natural processes some time after creation then this factor is a part of nature.

    OTOH, if God had to step in a long time after creation to bring about life then this implies that the Perfect Being initially created a not-so-perfect universe. One that required tinkering instead of having the forming of life something built-in from the beginning.

    If this life factor is part of nature then it seems we too can make a living thing from non-living stuff (and I don’t mean by sexual intercourse).

  11. “for those where it matters (e.g. medical researchers) they’ll recognize reality as it is”
    It doesn’t matter either. Nobody checks whether a researcher believes in evolution or not, you’re making that up.

    I’ve got news for you Ken, there’s plenty of anti evolution sentiment on here coming from the mostly Catholic dominated readership.
    You are completely mistaken in your assumption there.

    You are right, however, that they believe there is only one true church. The joke that everybody has to be hush and tiptoe past the Catholic room in heaven because they think they’re the only ones there is bang on! All those redundant boney fingers in one place, whatever will they find to do.

  12. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 17, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    the evolution of viruses, or bacteria relative to human efforts with antibiotic medicines that prove the assertion that it cannot happen as blatantly wrong

    Except that the evolution of viruses and bacteria in response to antibiotics [sic] does not occur by Darwinian natural selection. (Nor are antibiotics effective against viruses, which are not alive to begin with.) “Bacterial antibiotic resistance evolves by horizontal transfer of plasmids and the accumulation of multiple resistance determinants by transposition and site-specific recombination,” writes Shapiro. Not by the gradual accumulation of “random” point mutations.

    N. DeGrasse Tyson’s debate with nephew B.o.B. about the Earth — spherical vs flat

    In which Tyson repeats the long-discredited myth that the medievals believed the earth to be flat. If only we could educate these credulous myth-mongers!

  13. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 17, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    if God had to step in a long time after creation to bring about life…

    What “long after”? To God all actions are simultaneous; there is no before or after. See Briggs’ series on the Summa contra gentiles.

    this implies that the Perfect Being initially created a not-so-perfect universe.

    Is this a problem for you? The world is made of matter and form and matter is the principle of potency. There can be no potency if everything is perfected.

    if God had to step in… to bring about life

    The statement implies that the world somehow performs independently of God. Does Sharon Kam have to “step in” to perform Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A? Or is the performance coterminous with her instepping? That’s why Aquinas, in his Fifth Way, argues to God not from improbabilities or violations of the common course of nature, but from that common course itself. It is the existence of natural laws like gravitation, not exceptions to them, that he relies upon.

  14. The flat earth thing was revealed to me in my 5th grade classes. On the one hand, we had the discussions by folks who thought Columbus would fall off the edge of the world. On the other we had an ancient greek determining the approximate size of the planet (aka its circumference) based on the angle of the sun as determined by the length of a shadow…

    The same mouth taught me both anecdotes and managed to keep them distinct.

  15. acricketchirps

    June 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    When I saw it was OldDavid’s turn to do a guest post and Briggs’ invitation to critique I thought, uh-oh, this is gonna get ugly.

    When its acricketchirps’s turn to guest post it’s gonna be real short.

  16. acricketchirps

    June 17, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Is it my imagination or does Joy just keep getting harsher and harsher?

  17. acricketchirps

    June 17, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Final comment: if there’s ever a vote who should do the next guest post I vote Shecky.

  18. if God had to step in a long time after creation to bring about life…
    What “long after”? To God all actions are simultaneous; there is no before or after.

    So then they are necessarily simultaneous events? Is this true of all events since to God all actions are simultaneous? There is never is a before or after?

    if God had to step in… to bring about life
    The statement implies that the world somehow performs independently of God.

    How silly. God changing that which was created in no way implies independent performance of the world.

  19. Acricketchirps,
    I care about the truth, do you?

  20. Antibiotics and resistance to them does have to do with mutation as well as ‘survival of the fittest’ To say it doesn’t isn’t true.

    MRSA (spam filter) and superbugs have been a problem for decades.
    Where there is pharmaceuticals and healthcare there is politics. Where there is politics there are lies.

    “Paleontological data show that both antibiotics and antibiotic resistance are ancient compounds and mechanisms. Useful antibiotic targets are those for which mutations negatively impact bacterial reproduction or viability.

    Several molecular mechanisms of antibacterial resistance exist. Intrinsic antibacterial resistance may be part of the genetic makeup of bacterial strains.”
    From wickipedia. Caveat emptor

    The point is that even existing variations of bacterial strains are allowed to thrive and continue mutating when weaker strains are eliminated. It does not mean that the bacteria are every time altering genetically in direct response to drugs. It’s rather less exciting and sci-fi than that. See the part about pig poo.

    In short, evolution is involved. However, fact about genetics and cell biology replication, mutation, resistance, is a narrow view of evolution. It doesn’t follow that someone has to believe the peacock’s tail or design of the knee joint came about in the same way.
    It fails to explain more than it explains when considering design and form as opposed to population and replication. Even having said all of that, it still doesn’t follow that if there were a way of showing that humans came about entirely by this accident of genetic roulette, that God doesn’t exist. It doesn’t all rest on evolution. It’s my view that evolution theory is an incomplete explanation.

  21. “Paleontological data show that both antibiotics and antibiotic resistance are ancient compounds and mechanisms. Useful antibiotic targets are those for which mutations negatively impact bacterial reproduction or viability.

    Several molecular mechanisms of antibacterial resistance exist. Intrinsic antibacterial resistance may be part of the genetic makeup of bacterial strains.”
    From wickipedia. Caveat emptor
    I cut this comment in two to discover which part is the blocked part.

  22. Has somebody been googling how masters painted landscapes with projection?
    Well lads. It’s Gardeners World so I’ll leave you all to it.
    Acricketchirps. Roses are far more fun.

  23. Briggs,

    Why would punctuated equilibrium makes more sense than wee changes?

    Speciation means the evolution of different groups that can’t interbreed—that is, groups that can’t exchange genes. So, it make more sense to me that it’d take a long time for populations to evolve enough differences such that they no longer be able to interbreed.

    Also, from the same book,

    True, some change can occur very quickly. Populations of microbes have very short generations, some as brief as twenty minutes. This means that these species can undergo a lot of evolution in a short time, accounting for the depressingly rapid rise of drug resistance in disease-causing bacteria and viruses. And there are many examples of evolution known to occur within a human lifetime.

    Gradualism does not mean, however, that each species evolves at an even pace. Just as different species vary in how fast they evolve, so a single species evolves faster or slower as evolutionary pressures wax and wane. When natural selection is strong, as when an animal or plant colonizes a new environment, evolutionary change can be fast. Once a species becomes well adapted to a stable habitat, evolution often slows down. “

    (Any typos are mine.)

  24. Old Dave,

    It’s OK to admit you don’t understand mathematics. I won’t call you a clever idiot. Insulting a great physicist has made you smarter than the great physicist.

    Let me note that in mathematics proposition and hypothesis have different meanings. You might know already, if you don’t, Ms. Google’s motto – Ask and You Shall Receive.

    You mentioned falsifications of hypotheses, so, here is what Popper said about evolution:

    ”The Mendelian underpinning of modern Darwinism has been well tested and so has the theory of evolution which says that all terrestrial life has evolved from a few primitive unicellular organisms, possibly even from one single organism.
    [Popper, 1978, p. 344; emphasis added]”

    Third, what an atheist evolutionary biologist really said about the incompatibility between science and religion. I thought you might want to know, so you can attack science some more, but, perhaps, on the right target.

    ”… Incompatibility arises from the radically different methods used by science and religion to seek knowledge and assess truth claims. As a result, purported knowledge obtained from distinctively religious sources (holy books, church traditions, and so on) ends up being at odds with knowledge grounded in science.”

  25. “When you have no basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff.”
    — Cicero

    Joy YOS both present another type of tactic used to try & discredit a viewpoint one cannot rebut on its merits — a sort of combination of the “old switcheroo” and “the argument from ignorance”:

    Joy: “…Nobody checks whether a researcher believes in evolution or not, you’re making that up.”

    Numerous surveys, PEW & others have reported this, and continue to do so (e.g. see http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheists_and_the_National_Academy_of_Sciences ).

    A few seconds keyword searching could’ve cured that ignorance…

    Joy – [remarking in reference to a quoted reference of the Catholic Church’s, the institution’s, position on evolution]: “…there’s plenty of anti evolution sentiment on here coming from the mostly Catholic dominated readership. You are completely mistaken in your assumption there.”

    FACT: The Catholic Church–the institution–expressly accepts evolution and does not find it incompatible with faith relative to its doctrine.
    Some self-reporting as “Catholic” may disagree with that & other doctrinal Church positions — some of those may disagree on enough to qualify as “protestant” even if they’re self-reporting as “Catholic.”
    –Joy’s claim is a good example of the ‘ole switcheroo’ — take a statement addressing one thing (Church/institutional position) and twist it & misrepresent it in a sound-alike context (views held by those self-reporting as part of that Church).

    YOS: “…the evolution of viruses and bacteria in response to antibiotics [sic] does not occur by Darwinian natural selection. (…viruses, …are not alive to begin with)”

    Another ‘ole switcheroo’ — take a very specific example and insinuate a refutation by arguing details that don’t really refute anything (a highly neurotic example of this in the movie, Devil’s Advocate, is when an innocent housewife asks a demon-possessed neighbor about wall paint colors, with the demon rejecting everything to be a pest going so far as to suggest one color be rejected for a room because it didn’t match the woman’s eyes — a ridiculous comparison but people give credence to nonsense like that).

    Here, YOS’s mention of facts is done in a context that insinuates that, since there is an exception to a particular example, the conclusions associated with the example are wrong — that’s how many will interpret that (especially when that supports the conclusion they want). In reality, all the remark does is establish that a pithy example has limits, which ought to have gone without saying.

    Evolution occurs by numerous mechanisms, including but not limited to natural selection, viral effects on genetics, changes that cause genes to express/stop expressing, etc. etc. and many of those interplay over time (viruses are pieces of DNA and every so often those, or parts of those, become part of an infected animal’s DNA, creating a mutation ). Thus, ANY example of any particular type of evolution will almost certainly & necessarily omit inclusion of some means or other of evolution. Finding a shortcoming of an example is not a basis for refuting the bigger thing being described by the example.

    Here’s a simple example of how viruses have affected and found their way into human DNA over generations: http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/02/01/our-inner-viruses-forty-million-years-in-the-making/

    And of course manipulation of definitions…that too helps create illusions of solidity but upon examination reveals no real substance. Nobody considers viruses “alive” — based on how life is defined. But, viruses do evolve and do reproduce parasitically (another example of an apparent [to some] violation of entropy). Their existence depends on life forms all agree are “alive.” In this sense, most who use/study viruses consider viruses a “life form” — a convenient description, though with fuzzy impressionistic meaning that those who like to argue over semantics may find irresistible.

    Camouflaging ideological leaps of faith under umbrellas of related facts; self-inflicted ignorance (bandwagon appeals); clever use of the ‘ole switcheroo’ to sidestep acknowledging facts that undermine a cherished belief; appeals to authority without attention to the lack/total absence of logical substance and/or contradiction with established facts (e.g. see YOS’ multi-layered appeal to authority at 10:47am — putrefaction creates new species!?!?!)…and more…are all tools used to delude, with the person usually being deluded one & the same as the one that’s doing the deluding…

  26. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 17, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Evolution occurs by numerous mechanisms

    Exactly.

  27. Firstly, the spurious “open/closed system” evasion. (It’s not an argument).
    There can be no such thing as a “closed system” being acted upon by an external force or energy supply. Any interaction between systems is itself a system. That the Earth gains energy from the Sun’s loss is a system and entropy always applies overall.

    Secondly, the sly inference that order spontaneously arises out of energy input. Entropy applies to both the dissipation of energy and the “dissipation” of order. The two are related but one does not spontaneously cause the other.

    Here is something I wrote long ago to show in a practical way the principle for some barely post adolescent university trained experts.

    Entropy.

    The best (most succinct and precise) definition (description) of entropy is as it occurs in the “Second Law of Thermodynamics”; “All ordered systems, left to themselves, tend toward maximum randomness and lowest energy (potential or differential)”. That means that order naturally tends to degenerate into randomness (disorder) and energy potential tends to dissipate into a uniformity without potential because there’s there’s nowhere of lower potential left to go to…

    Because energy must be dissipated in the establishment and maintenance, or sustaining, of an orderly system some con men with an ideology to sell will try to pretend that the energy consumed in the process creates the order. A sly mental trick.

    Let’s propose some practical examples to illustrate the process.

    Most mothers like to have an orderly home. Order in her home requires:
    1. An intellect to conceive the order.
    2. The will to want the order.
    3. The capacity, or power, to implement, or bring about, the order.

    Now, that poor Mum who has been toiling away for years to install and maintain the order suddenly finds herself confronted by a clever-dick progeny who’s been to school and learned that energy spontaneously creates order. Smarty tries to convince Mum that letting off a bomb (great release of energy) in the middle of her expertly managed domain, will spontaneously create order and she’ll never have to tidy up again. Good luck with that one Smarty.

    Or let’s lift great weights to great heights. An intellect comes up with an idea of a crane to do the job. Skilled minds and hands divert energy and materials to make the machine using entropy in every step of the process. Smarty, with the benefit of his recently aquired great insights, comes along and proclaims that because the energy to build and operate the crane comes, ultimately, from the Sun then the Sun built the crane. Now, I just happen to know for sure that Central Australia gets lots and lots of solar energy but not one giant crane has ever spontaneously appeared in the desert.

    Oh well, counters Smarty, “that only applies to non-biological systems. Energy applied to biological systems creates an increase in order and complexity opposed to entropy”. Smarty has never heard of the “Law of Morphology” (which is really only entropy applied to biological systems) which says, simply, that “the more complex an organism and the more often it is reproduced, the more likely it is that something will go wrong in the process”.

    So, the thousands of generations of Drosophilla (fruit flies) that have been subjected to every imaginable radiation “stimulus” to produce “sped up” “evolution” have only ever produced some wreckage of their DNA or genome… not one super-human spaceman.

    Ultimately, untold thousands of generations of diligent and wise housekeeping Mums are in tune with reality… the Smartys are not.

    Order is a product of Intellect, Will, and Life.

    More on ‘the Law of Morphology” later.

  28. Secondly, the sly inference that order spontaneously arises out of energy input.
    Sorry, there was no inference, suggestion, or claim that energy creates order. Energy merely enables a system to become more complex according to the rules of architecture inherent in a system. Example: a large volume of rain falls on a gently sloping landscape. The drops coalesce into small puddles, the puddles flow together, the trickles become rivulets, the rivulets join to form streams that eventually join as tributaries to a river. Map the drainage system and you will see a tree-like branching much more complex than a simple sheet of water covering the landscape. The energy that provided the raindrops did not create the watershed. It only enabled the inherent design architecture of watersheds to happen. Why does it happen this way? Because the complex watershed most efficiently drains the landscape. Btw, over time the watershed morphology will evolve depending on changing climate, differing amounts of rainfall, tectonic events, and human modification of the landscape.

  29. The Wiki pages on entropy and the second law of thermodynamics are fairly thorough discussions with many links to references. The Wiki links are:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_law_of_thermodynamics

    They are a good start for those interested in clarity on the concepts.

  30. Gary says:
    “Energy merely enables a system to become more complex according to the rules of architecture inherent in a system.”

    Well, Gary, I am interested in the whence comes the “rules of architecture inherent in a system”, and what the hell are they anyway?

    Your statement must be very meaningful because what it means escapes me.

  31. fah,
    I use Wikipedia as a resource of fashionable opinions. It represents the “official establishment” not detached observation and logical assessment.

  32. Olddavid,
    Wiki gives references to the fundamental writings in the field by the scientists who defined, discovered and elaborated the physics. The references represent the scientific concepts as confirmed by controlled experiments and observations for the past several hundred years. It is wise to understand what they discovered before dismissing their work.

  33. fah,
    Yes, Wiki is a useful resource that does give “references to the fundamental writings in the field by the scientists who defined, discovered and elaborated the physics” but it is heavily censored to promote the fashionable opinions.

    The main problem is that dogmatic assertions of Naturalistic or Materialistic speculations are uncritically accepted as “facts” without any reference to fundamental premises that should determine their credibility. That is the stuff that superstitions (unreasonable beliefs) are made of. Philosophically, a superstition does not become a “fact” just because it is commonly (or even universally) accepted.

    Now, more about the “Law of Morphology”.

    I come from a long line of farmers and stock breeders. We, and thousands of generations of previous farmers, know with the certainty of long experience that even diligent selective breeding cannot turn a sheep into an elephant… or an apple into a mango… or a wheat into a nut tree. The ONLY thing we can do is to try to eliminate some (undesirable) characteristics of our stock so that (if you’re lucky) some other hidden or recessive characteristic might be revealed.

    The most important thing here is that we’re not creating new genes… we’re just eliminating present ones… exposing others that were already in the “junk” DNA of the organism or “kind”.

    Now, let me go on to the supposed evolution of organisms “resistance” to antibiotics and herbicides. In any population there may be a genetic variation that allows some of the population to be more susceptible than others to any pestilence. If that were not the case then any pestilence would wipe out the entire population. If susceptible organisms are destroyed by the pestilence and only the survivors reproduce then the whole population is “resistant”. It is not the creation of a new gene… it is the elimination of an “old” one.

    I hope you see that fad scientism is preloaded against a realistic appreciation of reality in favour of fantastic speculations.

  34. Understanding the ideas of the scientists, such as Clausius, Boltzmann, Carnot, and Kelvin, is necessary to understand the basic concepts. Dismissing these ideas out of hand dooms one to thinking with erroneous notions of the physics they pioneered. Before making claims about what entropy and the second law may or may not imply, it would be highly advisable to understand what the discoverers of those concepts said, not dismiss them. It is clear that basic understanding of entropy and thermodynamics is lacking in this post, but it is impossible to correct if the fundamental science on which it is based is dismissed out of hand. When such fundamental concepts are so erroneously presented first, it is difficult to seriously consider the rest of the post.

  35. For those interested in antibiotic resistance, a very readable review of the topic was published by Julian and Dorothy Davies, in Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, Sep 2010, pp 417-433, titled “Origin and Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance.” It contains many references to the seminal works in the field. It is available online at

    http://fire.biol.wwu.edu/cmoyer/zztemp_fire/biol345_F10/papers/Davies_evol_anti_rest_mmbr10.pdf

    It reflects the modern understanding of genetic biochemistry.

  36. fah said:
    “It is clear that basic understanding of entropy and thermodynamics is lacking in this post, but it is impossible to correct if the fundamental science on which it is based is dismissed out of hand. When such fundamental concepts are so erroneously presented first, it is difficult to seriously consider the rest of the post.”
    ————–
    My interest is in fundamental concepts and my purpose is to describe them in comprehensible concepts.

    You seem to imply that “fundamental science” is, per se, incomprehensible and should, therefore, be accepted on the say-so of “experts” who do not comprehend it.

  37. Oldavid, a philosophy can be a science, it can be of science, it can be of a science, but philosophy covers many unscientific things as well. Let’s not confuse those things with science.

    Briggs, nice little bait ‘n switch there, connecting scientific with social Darwinism. Perhaps you can not understand why a society should be more accepting of it harmless diversity and therefore see only some necessary biological application to some sort of managed evolution. No? Well, just so you know, that was what the Social Darwinists were thinking.

    JMJ

  38. Jersey! how nice to see you again. I thought you had abandoned the stupid to their stupidity.

    Jersey says: “Oldavid, a philosophy can be a science, it can be of science, it can be of a science, but philosophy covers many unscientific things as well. Let’s not confuse those things with science.”
    ———
    I contend that there is no such thing as “a” philosophy” as if there could be many equally “true” and contradictory versions of reality.

  39. swordfishtrombone

    June 18, 2016 at 6:23 am

    @ Oldavid:

    F-

    @ Briggs:

    “The same with quarks or strings or mathematical equations or whatever. Design is inherent! ”

    So 2 + 2 = 4 is designed?

  40. swordfishtrombone

    June 18, 2016 at 6:32 am

    @ Joy:

    “However, if God exists, he can do anything”

    Apart from creating a universe which he doesn’t have to fiddle with halfway through, apparently. You state that science and religion aren’t incompatible then argue that supernatural intervention is required – that strikes me as being definitely *not* a compatible position.

  41. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 18, 2016 at 8:03 am

    a very readable review

    Indeed, it tells us that inheritance of random mutations which are then selected is not the mechanism by which this happens; but rather wholesale lateral transfer of genes responding directly to the stimulus.

    connecting scientific with social Darwinism.

    It certainly fooled a lot of scientists back in the eugenics days. But then scientists have always had trouble understanding the limitations of science and even today will often criticize as “anti-scientific” stances taken in opposition to public policy proposals or social engineering efforts.

    So 2 + 2 = 4 is designed?

    No, sometimes you get 5.

    😀

  42. acricketchirps

    June 18, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Ah. It’s the truth that’s getting harsher.

  43. Maybe the truth hurts if it interferes with ideological suppositions.

    What we have here is a blithe dismissal of easily demonstrable Natural Laws and logic in order to rationalise essentially ideological suppositions, namely that our physical reality is in the process of “becoming” over some 14 bn years to get to now and is still “becoming” what it will be in the future by either gradual or “punctuated” processes that have never been observed.

    I have checked the leads offered by W’m Briggs that summarise his views and, as expected, are verbose rationalisations of the above that don’t even pretend to connect with observed reality and the easily demonstrable Natural Laws that govern its operation. Again, as expected, such are ignored as irrelevant because they are inconvenient.

    There is some vague, patronising reference to a kind of guiding force that supposedly directs these processes that have no evidence of happening or of ever having happened… a very long winded reproduction of Julian Huxley’s pithy exposition of the kind of “science” we’re dealing with. Huxley admitted that the probability of even one simple protein forming by random accident is practically zero. “It’s impossible”, he said, “yet it has happened because here we are”!

    In one of the comments above is a spurious scoff that, I suppose, the commenter thought would put the whole purposeful creation idea to death. It goes like this: If Creation is the work of a benevolent Creator He buggered up big-time. Things decay, fall apart, suffering, death and all that… it sure ain’t perfect. However, as Ole Tom explains, when Creation rebelled in the person of Adam (we’re going to run this show) all of Creation was imperfected by that rebellion.

    Another comment from someone who doesn’t know their facts claimed that the Catholic Church accepts the scientistic dogma of “Evolution”. Not so. That the superstition has become widely accepted by churchmen high and low does not mean that the notion is at all compatible with Christian doctrine or right reason. In fact it is not. It is directly contrary to essential Christian Doctrine; most immediately obvious is the incompatibility with the essential doctrines of Original Sin and Redemption… Ratzinger made that plain by “reinterpreting” both to extinction so that they wouldn’t interfere with his scientistic faith. Catholicism has a great advantage over all man-made sects… the Faith is not determined by the fancies of the leadership.

    What we have now is the likes of W’m Briggs and his mates frantically trying to rationalise this scientism; presumably to gain kudos and financial reward from both the secular and ecclesiastical establishment.

  44. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 18, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    the probability of even one simple protein forming by random accident is practically zero.

    How would Huxley know what the probabilities are? His conclusion (and apparently yours) is based on a scientistic faith in the dead universe of Newton. In the mechanistic universe, the world is a machine that must be “put together” by external “forces,” as opposed to the vital universe which Ol’ Tom worked with: things (ousia) have natures by which they naturally work to ends. A mousetrap must be put together because its parts have no natural tendency to come together on their own. The parts of an artifact, indeed, precede the artifact as a whole. A natural thing comes about by its own internal powers: an organism is not assembled from arms and legs and torsos found lying about, but grows them from itself. A natural being is prior to its parts.

    That is why Aquinas argued from the common course of nature and not from low probability apparent exceptions

    Scientism is the belief that natural science is the only source of knowledge at all. It is not the belief that natural science is an important source of knowledge about nature. Don’t look for divine thumbprints in his workmanship. He looked upon it and saw that it was good. That means no smudges or workarounds.

    http://place.asburyseminary.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1306&context=asburyjournal

    PS. Why “Ratzinger” and not “Pope Benedict”? Are you in the camp of those who insist on calling Pope Francis “Bergoglio”? And why do you suppose him the champion of evolution when the fanboys of evolution complain that he was a denier? He must have done something right.

    I sometimes get a commentator on my blog who insists that geocentrism is required belief, so it is always interesting to hear from those who know better than the Pope.

  45. “A mousetrap must be put together because its parts have no natural tendency to come together on their own.”

    What are you talking about? Cats hang out together all the time!

    YOS, I think what he’s saying is you guys employ what you would call scientism in order to rationalize your faith. Get it?

    JMJ

  46. Heh, heh! I don’t just call Pope Francis “Bergoglio” I call him T’Googlio Monster… at best a sock puppet for the Materialist puppeteers.

    Politics is a perverse game… that some of the “most forward” Modernists shed crocodile tears because Ratzinger’s caution was too slow at imposing a “brave new religion” does not mean that he was not one of them. A flick through this lot will give a bit of a summary of his ideological loyalties.
    http://www.waragainstbeing.com/parti-article12

    Y’Ole Statistician chap, I have been doing battle with some of the most prestigious geocentrists the internet can dig up for years. Now they avoid me like the Plague. I don’t do papalatry and the geocentrist’s version of papalatry is entirely fabricated to suit their snake oil sales con-job.

    “How would Huxley know what the probabilities are?”
    Probability and statistical math has been around for much longer than our friend W’m Briggs. If you can roughly know what’s in the mix and the range of possibilities you can approximately compute the likelihood of a particular outcome. Take a simple example: chuck 100 pennies into the air, each penny having 50% chance of coming down Heads, with a bit of mathematical mucking about you can calculate how many times they’d come down all heads in how many throws. Nothing new. Astute gamblers have been mucking with this stuff for thousands of years.

    Now, I would be prepared to contend that the conception of a thing (its “thingness” or essence) precedes its assembly or parts. However, that’s way beyond the scope of this little altercation, I think.

  47. Jersey said:
    “What are you talking about? Cats hang out together all the time!

    YOS, I think what he’s saying is you guys employ what you would call scientism in order to rationalize your faith. Get it?”
    =========
    Well, I don’t get it , Jersey.
    If you were a bit more forthcoming in trying to rationalise YOUR faith I might find some ground to argue with. Presently, you are just a noise at the back of the auditorium composed of whistles and jeers.

  48. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 19, 2016 at 8:48 am

    “How would Huxley know what the probabilities are?”
    Probability and statistical math has been around for much longer than our friend W’m Briggs. … Take a simple example: chuck 100 pennies into the air

    But the probability can only be calculated in terms of the assumptions you bring to it. Can the data be approximated by a Normal distribution, for example, or an Extreme Value distribution? This will matter a great deal, especially in the tails, where the low probabilities are found. Then there is the assumption that the coin has different sigils on each side, that it is balanced, that the tossing itself introduces no bias, etc. A student in one of my classes had the skill of always getting heads however many times he flipped the coin in the air.

    Huxley was likely working on the assumption that the parts had to find each other somehow and had to be “forced” together, and then applied the multiplication of probabilities. But the latter in particular assumes that each part is independent of the others, and in chemistry there are sometimes deterministic elements of the problem. Sodium and chlorine, for example, to not combine “at random.” There are only certain ways in which they can combine and electromagnetism ensures this. When you think of all the infinite directions a stone could move, how unlikely is it that it will fall to earth?

    So are pre-protein folds like a penny? There are only about a thousand of them, which means the number of possible arrangements is likely much smaller (and therefore the probability of various useful arrangement higher) than Huxley supposed. IOW, I doubt if he had sufficient information to make such a calculation, let alone whether the ‘calculation’ was anything more than a rhetorical declaration.

  49. I don’t think Huxley did the calculation at all… it is entirely inimical to what he was selling… he simply acknowledged it.

    Whether or not there is an exact numerical result for the likelihood or probability for the occurrence doesn’t really matter at all. The fact is that it just doesn’t happen; you don’t get even simple proteins (or even amino acids) spontaneously appearing in puddles or anywhere else outside of living organisms. The reasons for that are many and easily demonstrated in practice and theory of organic chemistry.

    Nit picking about numerical values will not make the slightest difference to whether or not it can or does occur.

  50. “Energy merely enables a system to become more complex according to the rules of architecture inherent in a system.”

    Well, Gary, I am interested in the whence comes the “rules of architecture inherent in a system”, and what the hell are they anyway?

    Your statement must be very meaningful because what it means escapes me.

    Oldavid,
    1. The rules of systems are made by God as embodied in the laws of physics.
    2. The rules of systems are explained by Adrian Bejan at his website https://constructal.org/ and in his numerous research papers.
    3. Why so cranky?

  51. Gary said:
    “3. Why so cranky?”
    ————–
    Because I’ve been there and done that. You have no idea of how many times I’ve repeated things that are perfectly obvious to real people but which are incomprehensible to university trained smart arses.

    I will look up Adrian Bejan when I’m finished with important stuff.

  52. Oldavid,
    Read Bejan with some allowance for him being an engineer and English not his native language. He expresses things somewhat differently than biologists do when speaking about evolution. His concern is mechanism, not all the emotional monkey’s uncle stuff that too often gets dragged in. Look for his meaning.

  53. Ken,
    I don’t mind you pointing out if you think I am ignorant of fact but certainly switcheroo? no. Neither will I deliberately twist something.
    If you think i have you are correct to point it out. I am quite often given to thinking my argument is perfect even though it is faulty. You are correct if you noticed that. However it puts me in good company.

    “Numerous surveys, PEW & others have reported this, and continue to do so (e.g. see”

    Certainly (and I didn’t red your link to be honest but I trust you) I am sure if a survey was carried out of MOST people of whatever profession there would be a majority who would say they believe in evolution or, would say that evolution is correct.
    However that is quite different from whether or not it is a prerequisite for taking any kind of job let alone a job in microbiology or certainly medicine and research. That latter part I know for a fact.
    I’d guess that only now it’s become political the only people asked about their beliefs would be school teachers for obvious and political reasons very well known. A matter stirred up by a few trouble makers. Most people now lecturing were brought up in a school system being taught both evolution in science and creation or other faith systems in religious education. I think your remark is written on the background of the current sentiment on creation versus evolution.

    As for the Catholic church, you are correct that I didn’t know the official doctrinal position that Catholics ‘are allowed to believe’ in evolution’
    Perhaps many people are just pretending to be catholic? Just ‘self identifying, giving Catholics a bad name and all that. There have been some pretty extreme ‘Catholic’ remarks made on here. Very different from Catholics I know personally. Perhaps you would class most of them I know as ‘qualifying for protestants’ since none of them do what they’re supposed to. Who knows. I was the one saying it didn’t matter, with respect to christianity.
    I’m probably the only one who actually believes that it doesn’t matter but I don’t much care.

    Anyhow, I’m glad to hear that is the official position.
    It doesn’t make a difference one way or the other since all does not fail or fall if evolution is found to be true or false. It rests upon whether or not Jesus is the son of God.

  54. SwordfishTrombone,
    “Apart from creating a universe which he doesn’t have to fiddle with halfway through, apparently.”
    I don’t imagine God as having created the universe and then standing back.

    In fact, and this is not intended to sound as silly as it does, if he did it would be a bit disappointing. Separate from the evolution question. If he is God, he can do anything so I don’t see the ‘tinkering’ or interfeering as in some way failing on the original design but part of the whole process. More like making a cake than lighting touch paper. It also seems to me that if the universe were created in on event one is back to wondering about purpose and the belief in Jesus seems to be subject to the same question as you posed.

    Since most people have difficulty because they say that the world isn’t perfect and there is suffering, evil and disaster, in my view or understanding this explains precisely ‘why Jesus?’

    Which leads to your next point.
    “You state that science and religion aren’t incompatible then argue that supernatural intervention is required – that strikes me as being definitely *not* a compatible position.”

    In what way does the conflict manifest?
    Since the explanation which I prefer refers to a historical intervention which science has not explained fully I see no problem. Science either has a mechanical or material explanation for events or it does not. There is not a conflict in how science is done either. World view cannot effect truth.

    Evolution has stages or changes which it is hard to see how they could occur bit by bit. To put the entire weight of our existence or development on evolution requires one to think of the process as chance and time. That there is a line one could draw back from me or you to a strip of protein. There MUST be one line for each person. Playing that forward again there must be one line which just happened to result in all of the complex moving parts and systems of cell function, inter organ homeostasis and so on.
    Then there’s the mind. Everybody’s mind is linked by one thread right back to nothing.
    It makes more sense that a mind started the process or a knowing power.

    I’m also saying that there is no explanation for some structures which seem to have been selected when they are just a luxury or a small convenience, not life or death, every time these traits are kept and the chance process continues to the next collection point where another positive trait is saved and replicated.

    Aside from the miracles referred to in the bible, my own experience would be explained by science as coincidence, or luck.
    There is no need for science ever to dismantle it’s bases as far as I am concerned the truth is incontrovertible. We don’t always know the truth. In some of those unexplained instances there may be the possibility of something supernatural although that word has become a naff. Sorry for the length of this.

  55. acrickechirps,
    Oh yes the truth isn’t always pretty but the truth isn’t changing in nature as you very well know.

    Why just chirp? Why not make a juicy long comment with a real reveal of the actual truth and nature of the cricket?
    I know why! You are in disguise and your number would be up!
    We might recognise who the cricket is. Well ‘we’ won’t but I would.

  56. Here’s a candid admission that backs up the guts of my complaint.

    What this bod says doesn’t only apply to “climate “science””; it applies to all the Materialistic speculations I know about… most particularly “Evolution “science””.

    [Quote]:
    Michael Mann Redefines Science

    Published on June 21, 2016

    Written by Rich Trzupek

    In a post over at Peter Guest’s blog, Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann is quoted making one of the most remarkable statements that I’ve ever heard coming out of a supposed scientist’s mouth: He goes on to explain that science is all about “credible theories” and “best explanations” and his gosh-darn critics supposedly don’t offer up any of those.

    Now it seems pretty obvious that Mann’s attempt to separate proof from science stems from increasing public awareness that the warming predicted by the high-sensitivity models that Mann and others have championed just hasn’t occurred over the last fifteen years. No matter. You don’t need “proof” when you have “credible theories.” [/quote]
    Read more at;
    http://principia-scientific.org/michael-mann-redefines-science/

  57. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 22, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Antibiotics and resistance to them does have to do with mutation as well as ‘survival of the fittest’

    It is an evolution, but the mechanism is not natural selection. It was due to “a horizontal transfer of plasmids and the accumulation of multiple resistance determinants by transposition and site-specific recombination.” It was not because a whole truckload of different bacteria suddenly developed mutations that were resistant to a variety of different artificial poisons and the antibiotics killed off all the non-mutants.

    Not all evolutions occur via the same process. And Spencer’s “survival of the fittest” is a tautology. Who exactly would you expect to survive?

  58. YOS,
    take a look at the wickipedia page, it is multifactorial and has to do with natural selection at least in one factor. Not just treatment of humans but in agriculture. Read the part about pig faeces. I posted a longer comment several days ago but the spam filter didn’t like it so I only managed to post a quote.

    The process continues in the ground after the antibiotics are eliminated.

    With respect to the bug which will catch me in the spam filter, it is rife in hospitals mostly because of poor infection control measures. This gives the false impression of the actual problem.

    Antibiotics administered in nebulisers are airborne and affect the bugs on the floor and in the corners of the room, on shared stethoscopes, lids of biros which staff and patients chew! Then, staff take the pens on ward rounds; ‘forget’ to wash hands between patients, Dr’s are particularly bad culprits being above such things as washing their hands. Physios can be culprits too because they are wanderers from ward to ward. It’s always the visitors who are blamed though.

    Hospital cleaning services despite, nay because of contracting out to private companies means that cleanliness is not how it was in the past. Removal of all the brass fittings and door pushes was an error in infection control since counterintuitively the old brass plates and knobs were cleaner from this point of view. The old standard of floor polishing until it shined and so on, all had an impact. Now you’ll see the same mop wiped round the beds into and out of the toilets. They’ve fitted special antibacterial surfaces but it’s no substitute for the cleaning standards of the past. Even the pillowcases had to face the same direction to not ‘catch the draft and the dust’! This seemingly over the top approach worked.

    This is all a kind of natural selection. The fittest, i.e. the bacteria that take longest to respond to antibiotics multiply. It’ similar to infection resurgence due to not taking the entire course of medicine, also a kind of benefit for the more virulent bugs. So the process you mention is not acting alone.

    If one species out breeds another and mutates I call that evolution if the mutation results in a viable new adaptation or type, (which usually means very small differences) I would refer to that as evolution in progress. Whether it counts if a new species is not produced, i.e. one which cannot reproduce with it’s ancestors I wouldn’t know what the actual benchmark for evolution actually is.

  59. Mutations are “chance” occurrences that invariably involve some loss or damage to the DNA or genome that may involve some characteristic that was in the genetic variability of the type being lost to the population. Sometimes the loss of a “dominant” characteristic will reveal another characteristic that was recessive, or hidden, or latent.

    The organism so changed may be strikingly different from its remote ancestors but it is not the creation of a new gene caused by random “chance” nor, as is often implied, is the utility of the effect the “cause” of the change.

    For example; that generations of farmers have selected animals in their herds that don’t have horns that are a danger to the animals and their handlers does not mean that the breeders have “created” a new characteristic of “no horns” (or variations of colour, size etc.) that are characteristic of various breeds or varieties. It is only the exposition of characteristics that were already potential in the type or “kind”.

    Evolution, etymologically, just means “gradual change” and some things do gradually change over time BUT always and only in the direction of entropy.

    That intellect and will may divert entropic processes to a localised (and temporary) decrease in entropy it does not cause a negation or reversal of entropy.

    It was claimed (speciously) above that if entropy applied then the Universe would have already “wound down” to the “heat death” to which all things tend in entropy. Of course, that is assuming that the Universe is 14.5 bn years old. Why assume that 14.5 bn years? Well, because it is also assumed that it takes that long for things that don’t happen to have happened.

    That is the nonsense of Materialism, Naturalism, Empiricism, Scientism. That is the assumption that only the “things” that can be physically measured, quantified, numbered, can be the cause of anything and are the cause of everything… except, of course, the nothing “singularity” that magically turns itself into everything for no reason.

  60. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 22, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    If one species out breeds another and mutates I call that evolution

    I did not say that it was not an evolution. I said it was not an evolution by natural selection. It was not that fortuitous mutations occurred in some bacteria and that these therefore became fruitful and multiplied. Think of all the different antibiotics and all the different kinds of bacteria. What is the likelihood that they would all develop immunities to all of them? At pretty much the same time. No it is more like they “caught something” from one another. The evolution was massive, sudden, and specific, due to what we might call “natural genetic engineering” rather than “natural selection.”

    But so many today use “natural selection” simply as a synonym for “evolution”, as if we were to use “gravity” as a synonym for “motion,” even the motion of electricity through a wire.

    Whether it counts if a new species is not produced, i.e. one which cannot reproduce with it’s ancestors I wouldn’t know

    A bacterium does not reproduce “with” anything else. It’s asexual; so Mayr’s “biological definition of species” simply cannot apply. (In fact, it’s iffy even among most plants and fungi.)

  61. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 22, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Evolution, etymologically, just means “gradual change”

    No. Etymologically, it means a “rolling out” or “flying out.” It referred originally to the act of unrolling a scroll to read what was already written on it. Interestingly, Darwin shunned the word, which was applied by Spencer to something very different. (As far as that goes, Darwin did not use “natural selection,” either. He always wrote “descent with modification.”)

    Anyhow, there need be nothing gradual about it. In particular, those “random mutations” may play only minor and destructive roles. You may be buying into the scientific view of Nature was entirely passive and “dead” and subject only to external “forces,” such as those “random” mutation events. And they may not be so random as supposed.

    There are internal cellular mechanisms that repair such things. But there are also cellular mechanisms that reproduce and propagate them — which is why an evolution can be “sudden, massive, and specific.” There is some discussion of the matter here:
    http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro.2013.Rethinking_the_(Im)Possible_in_Evolution.html

    Shapiro writes: “Cells execute purposeful DNA restructuring events during normal life-cycles in a non-random but also non-deterministic fashion. These goal-oriented natural genetic engineering processes occur in many organisms, including ourselves.”

    In precis: Genome change is not the result of stochastic errors but of biochemical (i.e., cellular) action. Cells synthesize, recombine, cut and splice, and otherwise modify their genomes in well-defined reactions. These can be inhibited or activated by cellular regulatory regimes, often epigenetic in nature which respond to various sensory inputs. For example, the helmeted water fleas will not develop their helmets if the chemical marker for their predator fish is not present in the water. If it is, they do. And that is without any change in their genome at all, only in whether or not specific segments are activated. More dramatically, a carnivorous wall lizard transferred to a lush, vegetated island not only turned vegetarian but within twenty years has developed an organ to digest the vegetation.

    Natural genetic engineering events can be targeted within the genome by a variety of molecular mechanisms that have distinct specificities: at certain DNA sequences, at certain DNA structures, or as a result of specific processes, such as replication or transcription.

    IOW, the potentiality is already there to be actualized, much as the word “cat” exists potentially in the word “cut” by well-known morphological shifts in vowel pronunciation. Or that “dog” may emerge from “dock” by a softening of the final consonant. These potencies are what Augustine called semines rationalis by which “in the roots of time God created what was to be in times to come” and Aquinas called “the powers given to matter at the beginning.”

  62. Yair, YOS, I accept that my “definition of evolution is inadequate enough to be wrong.

    According to your final paragraph we are saying the same thing in different words but you still can’t resist the implication that evolution can “roll itself out” in uphill direction, i.e. against entropy.

    That organisms were designed with a limited capability for some repair or healing and that some organisms can swap or steal DNA is not an example of an organism causing itself to be or do what it could not be or do… as in a thing that did not exist causing itself to be greater than it was.

    We are still stuck with the painfully simple and obvious:- things that did not exist cannot cause themselves to exist, and the extension:- an effect cannot be greater than its cause(s), and a further extension:- anything that changes or is changeable (moves or is moveable) cannot be eternal, unless it is gratuitously assumed that well known and easily demonstrable Natural Laws and logic do not apply.

  63. Bryant Poythress

    June 23, 2016 at 3:56 am

    In the current discussion, I begin with that which the Bible assumes – that God exists. The Bible specifically refers to itself as God’s Word and records eighty four verbal speech acts of God in the book of Genesis alone. Jesus consistently referred to the Old Testament narrative as actual recordings of fact and outlined his His role in the revlation and inspiration of New Testament writings. Following Christ’s example in applying a consistent literal-grammatical-historical hermenutic in interpreting scripture while acknowleging the noetic effects of sin, is what is required of us as we learn to “grow in grace” 2 Peter 3:18, while consuming “every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” Matt 4:4.
    These are my bases, the defining circle of presuppositions from where I start. Cognizant of my own limitations and yet knowing that the very logic i can use is from God, i believe that what is contrary to scripture or logic cannot be a fruitful path of knowledge. I can only conclude that the weight of evidence does not seem to be in favor of gradual evolution. The laws of logic and principles of empirical evidence based upon them overwhelmingly, in my opinion, favor a unique series of creative events and against any series of non-directed events leading to everything and specifically homo sapiens.
    Having read numerous theories in some of the many areas of evolutionary theory previously adressed and even those which i have been able to understand in some detail, while assuming their assumptions are true, and conclusions correct, they do not appear to answer sufficiently the basic problems arrayed against them. I have several gross and unrefined theories about the nature of time and space, the nature of being, consciousness, justice etc. which are attempts to unify and harmonize the human condition given competing origin theories. They are incomplete, usually based on the work of others and generally favor my presuppositions, but not always.

  64. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 23, 2016 at 7:27 am

    things that did not exist cannot cause themselves to exist,
    an effect cannot be greater than its cause(s),
    anything that changes or is changeable (moves or is moveable) cannot be eternal

    In what way does the rolling-out of potentialities require any of this? Even using the 1920s notion of random mutation, the mutating agency is outside the organism, and the offspring are brought into existence by the parent or parents, depending on the number of sexes.

    In what manner is a bear “greater” than a dogbear? Or any new species “greater” than another? Evolution is not a matter of successively greater organisms, only a matter of successive organisms that may differ from their predecessors. They may be better fit for some conditions, but that is typically because the conditions have changed, and it is often these changed conditions that call up different expressions of the genes through epigenetic cues or by the organism itself exploring new possibilities. A bird born with a beak too thick for sucking nectar as its forbears did may start through trial and error to crack seeds instead and men will say, Lo! We have discovered a new species! But the thickbeaks are not “greater” than the thinbeaks, only different; and thinbeaks continue to prosper as long as there is nectar to sip.

    I know of no organism or indeed of any species that is supposed to be eternal by evolution, depending on how you view single-celled organisms after they divide. Now, Aristotle assumed all species were eternal because he assumed the world was eternal, and if that were the case there was no reason to suppose that its furniture was not eternal, too. Aquinas went along with the gag philosophically. (He couldn’t prove the world wasn’t eternal, though he believed it had a beginning and would have an end.) But he allowed that new species might emerge from older ones through the corruption (change) of matter and the powers given it “from the beginning.”
    ++++++

    eighty four verbal speech acts of God in the book of Genesis alone

    Two of which called upon the earth to bring forth the vegetation and the living kinds, and as Augustine noted in On the literal interpretations of Genesis,

    It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth. In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in tmes to come.

    Since nowhere does it state that God told the earth to stop bringing forth new kinds, Aquinas concluded that new species might well emerge even after the days of creation because the potencies were already built-in from the start; or as Benedict XVI put it: “being-in-movement as a whole (and not just the beginning) is creation…”

    Much of the confusion stems, I think, from the belief that evolution has something to do with creation. It doesn’t. Evolution is a transformation. It changes the form of a species from one kind to another. To suppose that this is “creation” (bringing into being) is to fall into

    “the idea that God can only work in the same mode as natural causes. In reality God’s ways of operating far transcend natural causes, including human ways. Whereas humans make new things by pushing around matter that already exists, God creates, that is, He brings something from nothing. The fact that there is a natural order at all is His work. Human making relies on a pre-existing order, but God is responsible for the entire order that pervades his creations, including the possibility of generating further order.

    the weight of evidence does not seem to be in favor of gradual evolution.

    Which must mean that evolution is not gradual.

    The decision that evolution must be gradual was a metaphysical choice made by the founding fathers of the science because they wanted to distance themselves from the novelty of young earth creationism that had come into vogue in the 19th century. It was not a conclusion of the scientific evidence itself, and modern molecular biology and genetics is beginning to favor more rapid “step changes.”

  65. Bryant, I am pleased to have you join this discussion (poor ole statistician seems to be floundering).

    I am not intentionally making any assumptions based on what the Bible says… I have had a gutsful of Bible bashers long, long ago. That right reason generally agrees with Scripture is a good reason to accept Scripture for what it claims to be. I see no problem there. Good ole Tom spent his whole adult life showing the reasonable agreement between Faith and Reason. That is quite what one would expect if all of reality is the product of One Mind.

    However, there is a bit of a curly trick to be mindful of… “Sola Scriptura”! that is, Luther’s nonsense; Scripture means whatever I think it means. Bear in mind also that Christianity is not a product of Scripture… Christianity was alive and kicking for way over 1000 years before the Bible was accessible to even most of the great saints (many of the greatest saints were practically illiterate nobodies anyway).

    Considerations of what is time and space are very interesting to consider but, I think, what is life is more interesting than time/space which seem easily accounted for.

    Anyhow, I prefer to leave Bible bashing to frantic Materialists, other undefined Atheists and Protestants.

  66. Y’Ole Stalemate,
    One moment you say something sensible:-
    “Evolution is not a matter of successively greater organisms, only a matter of successive organisms that may differ from their predecessors. They may be better fit for some conditions, but that is typically because the conditions have changed,”
    Then you qualify it with a compliance to fashionable superstitions:-
    “and it is often these changed conditions that call up different expressions of the genes through epigenetic cues or by the organism itself exploring new possibilities. ”

    My contention in all this is that the apparent utility of some newly revealed characteristic in an organism is not the cause of that characteristic. (Perhaps you’d be surprised just how much of sophistic, intellectualistic, scientistic, mathematistic etc. dogma commonly worshipped these days relies on that deception). But the easily identifiable, and always intuitively known, consistent Natural Laws that govern the Natural Order and that make anything comprehensible say that reality is, therefore, inherently knowable. The alternative is Voodoo where everything is a whim or incantation.

  67. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 23, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    My contention in all this is that the apparent utility of some newly revealed characteristic in an organism is not the cause of that characteristic.

    Well, it’s a final cause, not an efficient cause, and Moderns generally do not recognize telos. And it’s not so much a “newly revealed” characteristic as it is an actualization of a potential. If you’re saying the wall lizard “always” had that organ for digesting vegetation and there was no actualization of a potential involved, you are weakening the argument in the First Way; and if you deny that its utility or telos is a factor, you are weakening the argument in the Fifth Way.

    Besides, it’s hard to deny something that can be observed directly. See the example of the helmeted water fleas:
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB111412143645613760

  68. An “actualisation of a potential” is not the cause of the potential or its actualisation.

  69. Here is an excerpt from a fine article that I think is relevant to this discussion:
    [quote] What is Doubt? How Does Doubt Relate to Faith?

    Doubt is a state in which the mind is suspended between contradictory propositions and is unable to assent to any of them. It is opposed to certitude. In the natural order, it is generally related to the degree of evidence in favor of or against a proposition. Doubt arises in one of two ways; that is, it is said to be negative or positive. Negative doubt means that there is absence of sufficient evidence for either proposition, making it impossible to render a judgment. Positive doubt means the evidence in favor of either proposition is equally balanced to the degree that assent to either is not possible. In either case, doubt exists when the mind is unable to assent to a particular proposition.

    Notice the intrinsic connection between doubt and the presence (or absence) of sufficient evidence. Presumably, if the evidence for any proposition were sufficient, the person would no longer be in doubt about it. The doubt would give way to opinion, and if the evidence were strong enough, to certainty. But when the evidence is deficient in some way, the intellect cannot perceive the truth of a proposition and thus cannot assent. In inability to definitively assent is the state of doubt.

    Notice also that doubt is distinct from denial. A person who denies a proposition has certitude, but their certitude is in the proposition’s falsity. A person in doubt, on the other hand, lacks certitude either in the truth of the proposition or its falsity. They are suspended between contradictory positions and unable to find any certitude because the evidence is deficient, either in a positive or negative sense. [/quote]

    read more at:

    http://www.unamsanctamcatholicam.com/component/content/article/82-spirtuality/579-doubt-and-christian-faith.html

    I am not arguing from the point of view of the virtue of Faith but from the rightly declared view of the 1st Vatican Council: “If anyone shall say that the existence of God cannot be known with certainty by the light of natural reason alone let him be anathema”.

    I am describing the absolute necessity of an Uncaused First Cause while allowing that the nature and purpose of this First Cause is, most likely, the stuff of Revelation and Faith.

    What irks me most is the sowers of pernicious doubt who, disguised as faithful seekers of truth, devote themselves to spreading subliminally implied nonsense that Nature could be creating itself because it “has become” what it is.

    The next subliminal nonsense is that “because it (allegedly) could have therefore it did”. Charlatans and hirelings selling Snake Oil to a ready market.

  70. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 24, 2016 at 9:24 am

    What irks me most is … spreading subliminally implied nonsense that Nature could be creating itself

    Ah, and here I thought you were irked by evolution.

    Nature is nothing but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship.
    — Thomas AQuinas, Commentary on Physics II.8, lecture 14, no. 268

  71. Bryant Poythress

    June 24, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks OD, I am highly interested in the mystery of life and its miracle twin consciousness. Perhaps you can cover that another time.
    As for sola, scripture interprets scripture and thats why a consistent hermeneutic is essential, otherwise its as you say.

  72. Bryant said:
    [quote]Thanks OD, I am highly interested in the mystery of life and its miracle twin consciousness. Perhaps you can cover that another time.
    As for sola, scripture interprets scripture and thats why a consistent hermeneutic is essential, otherwise its as you say.[/quote]

    I very much doubt that there will be “another time”. This post that was supposed to be “fun” for other commentators seems to have turned out an exposition of the “common errors” of the fun seekers.

    It’s very unlikely that other than interested parties would have followed the conversation this far.

    There’s lots of very credible observations by lots of very credible observers. I will give links or leads to the few of them that I know of if anyone requests them.

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