Summary Against Modern Thought: The Human Soul Is Created By God, Part III

This may be proved in three ways. The first...
This may be proved in three ways. The first…
See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

A continuation of the proof that the intellective soul is not physical and thus must come from God.
This will be wrapped up over the next two weeks. Yes, it’s long. But what astonishing things we are learning!

Chapter 88 Arguments designed to prove that the human soul is formed from semen (alternate translation) We’re still using the alternate translation.

1 There are, however, certain arguments which seem to militate against what we have said above.

2 From the fact that man is an animal inasmuch as he has a sensitive soul, and the concept of animal applies univocally to man and other animals, it seems to follow that man’s sensitive soul is of the same genus as the souls of other animals. Now, things of the same genus have the same manner of coming into being. Hence, the sensitive soul of man, just as of other animals, comes into being through a power in the semen. But in man the intellective and sensitive soul are, as shown above, the same in respect of substance. Seemingly, therefore, the intellective soul also is produced through a power in the semen

Notes Remember, this (including especially the next) are supposed counter-arguments, which will be rebutted over the next two weeks.

3 Moreover, as Aristotle teaches in the De generation animalium [II, 3], the fetus is an animal before becoming a man. But, during the time in which the fetus is an animal and not a man, it has a sensitive and not an intellective soul; and, just as in other animals, this sensitive soul in indubitably produced by the active power of the semen. And yet that same sensitive soul is potentially intellective, just as that animal is potentially a rational animal; and the notion that the supervening intellective soul is substantially distinct from the sensitive one has been refuted already. It therefore seems that the substance of the intellective soul is derived from a power in the semen.

4 Then, too, the soul, being the form of the body, is united to the body according to the soul’s own being. But things that we one in being are the term of one action and of one agent; for, if there were diverse agents, and, consequently, diverse actions, effects diverse in being would ensue. Hence, it is in the being of soul and body that the one action of one agent must terminate. But the body’s production is clearly due to the action of a power in the semen. Hence, the soul, which is the body’s form, is the effect of the same cause, and not of a separate agent.

5 Furthermore, it is by a power present in the emitted semen that man generates things specifically like himself. But any univocal agent generates such things by causing the form of the effect generated, which owes its specific nature to that form. Consequently, the human soul, whence man derives his specific nature, is produced by a power in the semen.

6 Then there is the argument of Apollinaris, that whoever completes a work co-operates with the agent, so that, if souls are created by God, He is responsible for completing the generation of children who are sometimes born of adulterers; and thus God co-operates with adulterers—which seems incongruous.

Notes To say the least!

7 Also, in a book ascribed to Gregory of Nyssa, there are arguments designed to prove the same thing. The author argues as follows. From the soul and the body there results one being, and this is one man. Hence, if the soul is made before the body, or the body before the soul, one and the same thing will be prior and posterior to itself; which does not seem possible. Body and soul, then, are produced simultaneously. But the formation of the body begins at the time when the semen is separated. Hence, the soul also is brought into being a a result of the separation of the semen.

8 Seemingly imperfect, moreover, is the operation of an agent which does not produce a thing in its entirely, but only some part of it. Suppose that God brought the soul into being and that the body was formed by a seminal power. Now, body and soul are parts of one being: man. So, on that hypothesis the operation of both God and the seminal power would seem to be imperfect; which obviously cannot be allowed. Therefore, man’s soul and body are produced by one and the same cause. But man’s body certainly is produced through a power residing in the semen. The same, therefore, is true of the soul.

9 Again, in everything generated from seed, all the parts of the thing generated are together contained in the seed virtually, though they appear not to be present actually. For example, in wheat or any other seed we observe that the plant itself, with stem, joints, fruit and tassel, are contained virtually in the original seed, and that afterwards the seed spreads forth and discloses itself, thus attaining perfection by a kind of natural resultance, without assuming anything extrinsic. Now, the soul certainly is part of man. Therefore, the human soul is virtually contained in the human seed, and does not originate from any external cause.

10 And again, things having the same development and the same term must have the same originative principle. But in the generation of a man we find the same development and term in the body as in the soul; for the manifestation of the soul’s operations goes hand in hand with the development in shape and size of the members of the body, the operation of the nutritive soul appearing first, and afterwards, that of the sensitive soul, and lastly, when the bodily development is complete, the operation of the intellective soul. Hence, both the body and the soul have the same source. But the body originates through the separation of the semen. The principle of the soul’s origin is, therefore, the same.

11 Furthermore, that which is conformed to a thing is made by the action of that to which it is conformed; the wax that is conformed to the seal receives this conformity from the seal’s impress. Now, clearly, the body of a man or of any animal is conformed to its own soul, for its organs are disposed in a manner befitting the psychic operations which are to be exercised by those organs. Hence, the body is formed by the action of the soul, and that is why Aristotle says in De anima II [4] that the soul is the efficient cause of the body. But this would not be so if the soul was not present in the semen; for the body is formed by the semen’s power. Therefore, the human soul is in the human seed, and thus owes its origin to the separation of that seed.

12 Likewise, nothing lives except by a soul. But the semen is a living entity. And this is evident for three reasons: because it is parted from a living being; because the semen exhibits vital heat and vital operation, which are the marks of a living thing; and because, if plant seeds were not possessed of life in themselves, they could not, when sown, obtain from the soil, which is inanimate, the heat indispensable to life. Therefore, the soul is in the semen, and thus originates with its separation.

Notes Notice the modern idea of reproducibility is not present in semen.

13 Moreover, if the soul did not, as we have shown, exist before the body, nor begin to exist with the separation of the semen, it follows that the formation of the body came first, the newly created soul being infused into it afterwards. But this, if true, would imply that the soul is for the sake of the body, since what exists on another’s account is posterior to it; the clothes are for the man. That notion, however, is not true, because the body is for the soul’s sake; the end is always nobler. It must, therefore, be said that the soul originates simultaneously with the separation of the semen.

104 Comments

  1. A seed is a single living organism in it’s own right.
    A sperm or ovum of any animal is not, it is still part of an animal.

    There is always the poetic reference to seed as if it is the same as the animal equivalent.
    Which of course it isn’t and pollens would be the correct equivalent.

    The difference aside from the genetic code is that the process occurs through a different method of locomotion. That’s it. The amount and type of information differs. Looking for should in tiny organisms and parts thereof is as futile as looking for where the person is inside the mature creature.

    You won’t find answers looking as perm any more than you will from looking at the brain, for mysteries of metaphysics.

  2. without typos:
    A seed is a single living organism in it’s own right.
    A sperm or ovum of any animal is not, it is still part of an animal.

    There is always the poetic reference to seed as if it is the same as the animal equivalent.
    Which of course it isn’t and pollens would be the correct equivalent.

    The difference aside from the genetic code is that the process occurs through a different method of locomotion. That’s it. The amount and type of information differs. Looking for soul in tiny organisms and parts thereof is as futile as looking for where the person is inside the mature creature.

    You won’t find answers looking a sperm any more than you will from looking at the brain, for mysteries of metaphysics. (a sperm with a perm, I couldn’t help it, the image just crept in)

  3. “Therefore, the soul is in the semen, and thus originates with its separation.”
    Codswallop.

    In the same way as the soul is in the skin scrapings of any squamous or dermal cells, or on the bulb of a hair.

    Less so though, because it has half of the information of a normal cell. That it is designed to carry forth the information to make another person is the end, it’s mechanism is rather profanatory compared with it’s purpose.

    It still brings people no further on to understanding the soul. Science has helped our understanding of the material to a high degree since this was written, much to the ingratitude of some religious and anti science people.

    Yet, despite protestations from the psychic metaphysicians, man still knows nothing about the mystery of immortality, of mind, of soul outside of giving it a name and using the imagination.

    Had Jesus intended people to know all about souls and their mechanism he would have told people about it. He said,
    “love the lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul.”

    For soul, I read spirit. To me these words are interchangeable. It is also almost impossible to tell a join from one to the other (heart, mind and soul) except by some odd and biased retrospective self analysis. They are still different sensations.

    When, it all starts, is at conception, as far as it is possible to know. It is the right assumption. It makes rational and emotional and intuitive sense.

    How, is God’s business.

  4. Oh! the joys of assumed Naturalism, Materialism, Positivism, or whatever you like to call it.

    You still need to demonstrate that psyche, consciousness, intellect, knowledge, understanding, and all that, are a product of random chemical processes.

    I could be persuaded that Materialism is a degradation of Understanding; but even the Materialists offer no reasonable explanation of how random chemical (entropic) processes could result in such a metaphysical, obvious to even the most unscholarly intellect, as a propensity for knowledge and understanding.

    Now, good ole Tom and his antecedent thinker, Harry Stottle, are not infallible…. even though they state the obvious; Life comes from antecedent Life. The pure fact is that they acknowledge that life is a gift of previous life…… it does not create itself out of non-life. Even if their knowledge of the intricacies of fertilisation, development, etc. were not well known they got the main part right. Life is transmitted from antecedent life….. whether that life is a virus or a villain, or something approaching perfection like you and me, eh?

  5. @ oldavid,

    “You still need to demonstrate that psyche, consciousness, intellect, knowledge, understanding, and all that, are a product of random chemical processes.”

    No, we don’t. The burden of proof is on you to establish that there’s a supernatural element to those things.

    “random chemical (entropic) processes”

    Not entropy again! I’ve already knocked that down. And evolution isn’t random, it’s the product of natural selection operating on random variations. Please stop lying about it.

    “Life is transmitted from antecedent life…”

    But that doesn’t mean it can’t have come from non-living processes in the first place. Your position is like saying we need machine tools to build machine tools, so the first machine tool must have come about by supernatural means. You have to establish a reason why the particular series of chemical reactions leading to the first replicating cell couldn’t have happened.

  6. Brownian motion is still caused by something. Each particle that moves must be moving as a result of something. That is why an agent is said to needed to make this motion. The randomness as has been explained is a word used to describe ignorance of cause, in this example.

    The supernatural part is that the material which was inert has been able to produce sense and mind, or thought. Mind exists so it either started the process and life and purpose was always present or the whole thing is said to come about by mindless processes, always towards greater rationality which makes no sense.

  7. @ Joy,

    “the whole thing is said to come about by mindless processes, always towards greater rationality which makes no sense”

    I’m not sure why it makes no sense to you, as you’ve not explained why. Evolution doesn’t have a preferred direction and hasn’t always “towards greater rationality”. Life appears to have evolved towards greater complexity only because, like brownian motion, the longer it goes on, the greater the chance of it having moved further from its starting point.

    It isn’t hard to find examples of evolution going ‘backwards’: what about cave dwelling animals that have lost their vision, or birds that have lost the ability to fly?

  8. @ Underwater noise pollution.

    You have never “knocked down” any reasonable objection to your fanciful superstition. The thoughtless repetition of vague, imaginative, baseless assertions does not constitute a refutation.

    Entropy is always and everywhere observed and is easily demonstrable; that’s how it gets to be described in a Law of Thermodynamics. If you want to dispute a universally observed Law of Nature as wrong, or is not applicable to something you merely assert is a natural process, then the onus is on you to prove (or at least demonstrate) your case.

    Your ideology of Materialism/Naturalism cannot even be logically justified by reference to its own assumptions.

    The superstition of “Evolution” is easily debunked by the most unsophisticated and intuitive observations and reasoning; not only do base, simple chemicals not organise (order) themselves into the astonishingly complex material of a live organism, but even a recently dead man with all the organic chemistry still in place does not spontaneously generate a new life.

    Life precedes and orders the organic chemistry.

    Too simple for diabolically “smart” esotericists to consider, I suppose?

  9. I get a sense from some comments that Late Moderns do not grasp the nature of dialectical argument. The purpose is to put forward the best counter-arguments and then refute them, whereas the Modern puts forward strawman counter-arguments and then ridicules them. In some cases, Thomas not only puts forth the counter-arguments, but actually improves upon them before demolition.

    Another dimension of the problem is the Late Modern difficulty of maintaining any thought longer than a tweet. The point being addressed in this post is the 88th Question in the 2nd Book of the Contra gentiles. Demands to show reason for something which was thoroughly covered several weeks or months ago betoken a short attention span. Most medievals had mastered Euclid’s elements prior to matriculating in theology doctorate programs, so the idea of a series of lemmas and propositions building toward further propositions was very familiar to them; whereas your typical Late Modern may never have read Euclid at all and is accustomed to Just-Tell-Me-the-Answer approaches.

    Also, pearl-clutching over obsolete illustrative examples are simply uncharitable common to those who confuse Modern Science with fact collection. Examples based on 1920s genetic understanding would be just as imperfect.

    Evolution does of course work toward an end: viz., greater adaptation to a niche. Those individuals less apt tend to leave few descendants. The error comes from looking for a specific end [like longer beaks or shorter beaks] for a generic process. If one wishes to speak of beaks one needs to specify the process, not generalize it.

  10. @ YOS
    Ah yes! the problem of the short attention span!

    The “adaptation” which you infer is the prime example of “Evolution” in action has already been thoroughly disposed of in these Briggsian pages as “genetic entropy” or the “law of morphology”. Most simply it means that “the more complex an organism and the more often it is reproduced, the more likely it is that something will go wrong (or be lost) in the process”.

    Thousands of generations of stock breeders have intuitively known, and acted accordingly, that their only option is to eliminate “undesirable” characteristics in the fond hope that some already present but hidden or latent characteristic might be revealed. Fr Gregor Mendel explained and demonstrated what he called “recessive characteristics” before Darwin was goaded to try to popularise the esoteric doctrines of spontaneous generation lurking in the darkness of Naturalism.

    Typical of Alinskyite method of silencing any opposition is to demand onerous “proofs” instead of simple, common sense, observations and reason. And to demand a “political correctness” that must not identify and “call out” absurdities, plain lies and deceptions, or fantastic, purely ideological speculations.

    I’m not going to try to repeat all of Tom’s work because I’m not cloistered and trying to refute a whole barrage of diverse errors. I am out in the World trying to refute one, fundamental, pervasive error that makes a wreckage of all culture and science.

    The purveyors of this nonsense are not remote in either time or space… let them state their own case.

  11. The “adaptation” which you infer is the prime example of “Evolution” in action has already been thoroughly disposed of in these Briggsian pages as “genetic entropy” or the “law of morphology”.

    No. Adaptation is the final cause of evolution, not an example of it. I have no idea what “genetic entropy” might mean, as entropy is a physics concept describing the tendency of closed systems toward maximal disorder. It does not apply to open systems, such as those that receive energy and information from outside the system.

    The “law of morphology” is likewise strange to me. It seems to date from 1847, prior to the discovery of genetics.

    Your notion that evolution is always for the worse stems from Nietzsche, who also pushed that belief. The statement that “the more complex an organism and the more often it is reproduced, the more likely it is that something will go wrong (or be lost) in the process” is a simple rehash of the Aristotelian material “because” of evolution:

    the tendency to variation due to constant small random mutations in the genetic code; i. e., a variety of differing individuals within a species capable of transmitting their differences

    But these are not “better” or “worse” except with reference to what the organism is trying to do. The organism is often capable of doing something else. This is the final cause:

    the flexibility of living things by which they are able to occupy new niches in the changing environment; i. e., a feed-back mechanism which guides the selective process toward a new type which can exploit new environmental possibilities

    For why mutations are non-random, consider:
    http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro.2013.Rethinking_the_(Im)Possible_in_Evolution.html
    +++
    Although the comments were not addressed to Oldavid, rest easy. You do not have to reproduce Euclid’s thinking. But it is well to remember when considering a particular Theorem that much may have already been proven in previous theorems (and that more are to come). The same is true about Contra gentiles.

    I fear however that students these days are not expected actually to perform a demonstration and instead simply memorize the theorems as facts.

  12. @ YOS:
    “No. Adaptation is the final cause of evolution, not an example of it. I have no idea what “genetic entropy” might mean, as entropy is a physics concept describing the tendency of closed systems toward maximal disorder. It does not apply to open systems, such as those that receive energy and information from outside the system. ”

    Balderdash! The false anti-Thomistic premise that the “final cause” can be (is) the efficient cause is idiotic. It is an invention of sycophants who like to adapt logic to conform to fashionable ideologies. You should be (are) a devotee of “para-consistent logic” whereby an extrapolation from a nonsense premise is presumed to be valid.

    There is no such thing as a physically “closed system” that is acted upon by forces outside itself. Any such interaction is itself a system and entropy always prevails overall. Engineers and experimenters try very hard to create “closed systems” for their measurements and evaluations but they’re almost impossible to achieve.

    All this has already been addressed way back beyond your concentration span.

    However, it’s not a matter of observable physics for you lot. It’s an ideological prejudice that trumps all observation and reason.

  13. I won’t try to correct those who don’t understand what the Second Law is all about and evidently have no desire to correct misunderstandings. However, I do want to correct YOS:

    “entropy is a physics concept describing the tendency of closed systems toward maximal disorder. It does not apply to open systems, such as those that receive energy and information from outside the system.”

    Not so! There’s much work in the irreversible thermodynamics of open systems, and the Second Law still applies, albeit with inequality instead of equality. Indeed, Ilya Prigogine received his Nobel Prize for his research on irreversible thermo.

  14. that the “final cause” can be (is) the efficient cause is idiotic.

    Of course it is. That’s why I never said it. I think you are answering the YOS-in-your-mind, and not the actualized YOS. This theory is reinforced by the plethora of insults with which you pepper your comments.

  15. There’s nothing in the Second Law of Thermodynamics that specifies whether any isolated process is reversible or not.

    Energy can be easily taken from one system and added to another; but, overall, there is always loss by dissipation. The Sun, for example, only works by dissipating matter and energy into space. It is dissipating itself. It is not creating itself. Energy from the Sun that is absorbed by the Earth is also eventually dissipated through various “micro systems” that are energised from the Sun.

    The fallacy that you are trying to promote is that the energy spontaneously causes the order which is the systems that consume the energy. If that were the case then areas of highest energy (say the centre of the Sun or an atomic bomb) would be the seat of maximum, and increasing, order. What splendid beings and intellects we should find in there. However, from our own activities here on Earth it is patently obvious that order is the product of Power, Intellect and Will and it has (in a fallen World) an inexorable tendency to degenerate into chaos.

    You bods are so frantically dedicated to trying to infiltrate an absurd ideology of Naturalism into science and reason that you clutch at any ridiculous straws that may advance your cause.

  16. The fallacy that you are trying to promote is that the energy spontaneously causes the order

    Who said it was “spontaneous”? What does that even mean?

  17. @ oldavid,

    “Entropy is always and everywhere observed and is easily demonstrable; that’s how it gets to be described in a Law of Thermodynamics. If you want to dispute a universally observed Law of Nature as wrong, or is not applicable to something you merely assert is a natural process, then the onus is on you to prove (or at least demonstrate) your case.”

    No, it isn’t. Evolution is a well established scientific theory with a body of supporting evidence so vast it would literally take a whole lifetime to review it all. You are disputing it, so you are the one who needs to provide some evidence to support your position.

    I look forward to reading your revolutionary scientific paper explaining exactly why entropy proves evolution can’t have happened. Your Nobel prize awaits.

  18. @ Noisyfish
    “No, it isn’t. Evolution is a well established scientific theory with a body of supporting evidence so vast it would literally take a whole lifetime to review it all. You are disputing it, so you are the one who needs to provide some evidence to support your position.

    I look forward to reading your revolutionary scientific paper explaining exactly why entropy proves evolution can’t have happened. Your Nobel prize awaits.”

    I don’t need to… it’s already been done hundreds of times by many accomplished scholars and scientists.
    Look here is just one:
    THE METAPHYSICS OF CHAOS: A THOMISTIC VIEW OF ENTROPY AND EVOLUTION. WOJCIECH P. GRYGIEL, F.S.S.P..

    There are many more from every discipline of science. Can give many more leads but you won’t read them.

  19. Swordifish, when you say,
    “I’m not sure why it makes no sense to you, as you’ve not explained why. Evolution doesn’t have a preferred direction “
    Sorry let me make it clearer that I really meant the first cause of the motion of particles or of any material in the universe.
    Evolution has an added something which differs from a solution in a beaker. Evolution has life in the mix. Life in all it’s forms begins the process of controlling towards rationality. However the rationality must be there. The ‘need’, the ‘will’ that life keeps itself alive at all costs.

    I would agree with the theory of evolution and this is because the mechanisms are so clear and well explained in enough ways to make it ridiculous not to consider it excellent theory.. There are some mechanisms which do need more explaining.

    The big question of how life began is the question which it does not solve and for that one has to keep going back and back for causes because each mechanism needs a cause.
    Darwin’s theory is wonderful. The work done since has helped find mechanisms, not to be downplaying it’s excellence or achievement at all.
    The question of mind and the unguided process seems to me to be a question which must go back and back. Material things have no hold or lever on metaphysical things like experience which can be held in a thought. How are you able to observe it all? The real you? Not all the others?
    The existence of you tells you something important as it does for anyone.
    So if mind and metaphysics exist, since when?
    Which was why I think it makes most sense to be the thing which gives or is enherrant in life. Something to do with cause and effects. In the universe any human with the smallest or biggest intellect knows only this universe and so far there’s no such thing as an effect without a cause. Randomness is an observational effect not a cause.

  20. @ oldavid,

    Your first comment references an essay, not a peer-reviwed scientific paper. I tried to read it but couldn’t find a way to download it. According to the extract of it I was able to read:

    “6 In the probabilistic approach, [Copenhagen Interpretation of QM, I think] thermodynamics seems to correlate well with Darwinian evolution, for it implies that natural organization originates from a combination of processes governed strictly by chance, thus apparently eliminating finality from the universe.”

    AFAICT, this essay doesn’t actually argue that evolution is incompatible with entropy. In any case, it hasn’t exactly set the world on fire.

    *

    Your second comment, again, links not a peer-reviewed scientific paper, but to an article on a Catholic website. I tried my best and managed to plough through about half of it. I’m sorry, but I can’t remember ever having read such a pathetic, confused mess of irrelevancies, outdated teleological BS, non-sequiters and outright lies before. I’m not joking, I really mean it.

    It starts off badly and ends up in a series of blatant, outright lies of the very worst, most dishonest kind:

    “there is no valid empirical evidence for the theory of evolution”

    “It is evident, then, that the central thesis of Darwin’s theory of evolution is not based upon observation.”

    “In fact, there is no evidence whatsoever that these intermediate species have ever existed”

    If this is an example of the sources you’ve used to formulate your opinons on evolution, I can only say that that explains a lot. Try reading some books about evolution written by some actual evolutionary biologists, maybe? (You won’t)

  21. @ Noisyfish

    See. I said you wouldn’t (couldn’t) read. (That what seriously challenges your ideology).

    You imagine (to depreciate me) that I don’t know the “Evolution” paradigm. I, like most, have been soaked in it since birth. I went through High School taking all the science subjects on offer. I took to applied science (with physics, then biology major) at university in the early ’70’s. Being a curious fellow I followed all the leads to their conclusions, and I haven’t stopped trying to keep abreast of developments in all areas.

    The “peer review” system is just a programme of censorship to ensure compliance, or “false flag” convenience, with/to the officially establishment esoterica.

    If you’d like something less Catholic, flick through this lot of non-Catholic presentations by (mostly) well credentialed scientists. Surely you’ll find something of interest that you can stomach in the over a thousand articles presented.

    https://www.trueorigin.org/camplist.php

  22. Trombone: According to the extract … I was able to read:
    “6 In the probabilistic approach, [Copenhagen Interpretation of QM, I think] thermodynamics seems to correlate well with Darwinian evolution, for it implies that natural organization originates from a combination of processes governed strictly by chance, thus apparently eliminating finality from the universe.”

    AFAICT, this essay doesn’t actually argue that evolution is incompatible with entropy.

    That was my impression as well. In any case, Dr. Grygiel holds doctorates in chemistry, theology, and philosophy and is unlikely to propose something foolishly wrong.

    [Oldavid’s] second comment… links not a peer-reviewed scientific paper, but to an article on a Catholic website.

    I’m not so sure. It didn’t read like a Catholic site, and I could find nothing indicating an imprimatur or any connection to an actual official Catholic source. It was hard to find anything telling the reader who was actually behind it. There is a list of “speakers,” whom we may assume are associated with the site. They are resp.:
    a) B.A. in history and M.S. in education (in supervision and administration) with a licentiate as principal or superintendent of schools in the state of New York.
    b) an aerospace engineer
    c) Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering and Mathematics
    d) a professional engineer with 40 years experience with an MS degrees in Civil Engineering
    e) a Ph.D. in physics
    Only e) seems to have relevant background, since he likely knows about entropy.

    Besides, peer-review was invented in the middle ages to ensure orthodoxy in writings by monks and other religious. Had peer review been used in the 17th century, Galileo’s biggest book would not have been published. Nor Darwin’s, for that matter. Both went against the consensus science of the time.

    such a pathetic, confused mess of irrelevancies, outdated teleological BS, non-sequiters and outright lies before.

    It’s usually more convincing to give examples. I have read a deal of teleological BS, but most of it was from people who insisted there was no such thing as finality in nature. Yet, if there were no telos in nature, there could be no laws of science.

    outright lies of the very worst, most dishonest kind:
    “there is no valid empirical evidence for the theory of evolution”

    This depends on what is meant by empirical evidence. Since no empirical fact is self-interpreting, what empirical evidence demonstrates depends on how it is construed. For any collection of facts, there is always more than one theory that can account for them. Hume and Popper went further and contended that no amount of empirical evidence could ever demonstrate a scientific law.

    outright lies of the very worst, most dishonest kind:
    “It is evident, then, that the central thesis of Darwin’s theory of evolution is not based upon observation.”

    This depends on what came before: “it is evident, then,” implies that some sort of argument has preceded the statement. And “based upon” observation could be like a movie that is “based upon” some favorite book. He writes, that despite “one hundred and forty years of scientific observations, which have been expressly undertaken to confirm Darwin’s theory, have not produced the desired result. While all sorts of individual variations within a species can be observed, there is not a shred of evidence demonstrating that “beneficial” variations have led through natural selection to intermediate species, which then produce new species infertile with the original species.
    This seems a fair enough assessment, esp. since Darwin himself did not have such observations to back himself up.

    Though, like the Darwinists, the author is using the mistaken term “beneficial” variation. But a variation is not beneficial in and of itself, but only with respect to what the organism is trying to do. He makes much of the interfertility of the end species with the original, again, a mistaken notion common to both sides. Not all species are bisexual, so the concept of interfertility does not apply. Activists from proclaimed that the Northern spotted owl (which is interfertile with the California spotted owl, Mexican spotted owl, and IIRC another owl further east) was a separate species uniquely endangered by logging. (The owl, with sublime indifference to politics, simply made its nests in non-old growth forests.)

    outright lies of the very worst, most dishonest kind:
    “In fact, there is no evidence whatsoever that these intermediate species have ever existed”

    This is likely because the Darwinian paradigm predicts a continuum of gradually changing species type, each just a tiny bit different from its predecessor. Instead we see a series of abrupt step-changes in the fossil record. I remember when the evolution of the horse was a simple Eohippus, Mesohippus, etc. But now it appears that these were likely not an evolutionary sequence of the same ancestral population, but distinct species which, when lined up properly gives the illusion of an evolution.

    Those actual instances of real-time evolutions that have been observed: the Mediterranean wall lizards, the Hawaiian finches, the Nevada pupfish, the helmeted water fleas, the resistant bacterial, etc. have all been examples of non-Darwinian evolutions, either happening way too quick (as in the case of the wall lizards) or by processes different from Darwin’s “over-reproduction + culling.” Resistant bacteria for example did not arise because some microbes were fortuitously born with a random immunity to an antibiotic, but because of lateral transposition of plasmids induced by contact with the antibiotic itself. The common pupfish grew into an endangered species of pupfish simply by being hatched in water of higher temperature; and the endangered species grew into a more common pupfish when raised in a tank with cooler water.

    IOW, evolutionary change can be sudden, specific and massively parallel.
    +++
    There is no question that the Darwinian metaphysic is less well established than a scientific law. Where are Darwin’s Equations?

    The problem, as evolutionary biologist S.J. Gould pointed out, is that too many are satisfied with mere just-so stories. But a yarn about how an evolution could have happened is not a scientific proof that that is how it did happen.
    +++
    The confusion stems from not distinguishing observed facts from physical theories. Falling bodies are facts; gravity is a theory (and over the centuries, there have been many). Evolutions (=rolling out, change over time) is a fact; natural selection is a theory that attempts to account for it. There are other theories, like natural genetic engineering.
    +++
    Last but not least is the tendency of true believers to draw metaphysical conclusions from physical theories. Hence, a great many promoters of the Darwinian paradigm claimed that it proved atheism or some related belief system. But even Hume said that you can’t get an Ought from an Is. So a hundred years ago, Darwinians lined up behind eugenics because Darwinism said it was so. Others have claimed that the randomness of natural selection means that there are no final causes in evolution — even while they proclaim the origin of species as the result thereof, and continue to use teleological terms like “adaptation.”

  23. [quote=YOS] In any case, Dr. Grygiel holds doctorates in chemistry, theology, and philosophy and is unlikely to propose something foolishly wrong. [/quote]

    Now, I wouldn’t bet on that. There is a constant barrage of nonsense from people with letters behind their name in the mainstream media. I proposed Fr Wojciech, not because of his letters, but because he made sense in the field that was challenged.

    The article that I have is apparently a presentation that he made to a rather “high brow” science symposium, somewhere, sometime.

    My (almost non-existent) computer savvy may be able to send a pdf copy to anyone requesting it. (I hope that copyright laws will not send me to the salt mines).

  24. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “This is likely because the Darwinian paradigm predicts a continuum of gradually changing species type, each just a tiny bit different from its predecessor. Instead we see a series of abrupt step-changes in the fossil record.”

    Wikipedia: “the number of species known through fossils must be far less than 1% of all the species that have ever lived” – hardly surprising that there are gaps. Reminds me of the joke that when a gap in the fossil record is filled, creationists see two new gaps. Also, evolution happens much more quickly when populations are under stress due to environmental change.

    “IOW, evolutionary change can be sudden, specific and massively parallel”

    Darwin’s theory is 158 years old. Obviously, the science of evolution has advanced since then. (Unlike religion) The fact that evolution can happen much quicker than Darwin thought doesn’t disprove the theory as the mechanism is the same.

    *

    “There is no question that the Darwinian metaphysic is less well established than a scientific law. Where are Darwin’s Equations?”

    It’s not a ‘metaphysic’ or a law, it’s a theory. Much mathematical analysis has been done in the last 158 years. This is a really cheap shot on your part.

    *

    “too many are satisfied with mere just-so stories … But a yarn about how an evolution could have happened is not a scientific proof that that is how it did happen.”

    Quote mining. Also, could be applied to literally any scientific theory.

    *

    “Evolutions is a fact; natural selection is a theory that attempts to account for it. There are other theories, like natural genetic engineering.”

    Doesn’t disprove the theory of evolution. You’re using exactly the same examples and quotes as you were doing several years ago. A quick look on Wikipedia and through various book reviews is enough to see that “natural genetic engineering” has been heavily criticised as an idea and has failed to gain acceptance, but was picked up enthusiastically by Intelligent Design proponents. What a coincidence! It’s almost as if you’re trying to undermine evolution in exactly the same way as they are.

    Where I got my information from:

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

  25. “This is likely because the Darwinian paradigm predicts a continuum of species, each just a tiny bit different from its predecessor. Instead we see a series of abrupt step-changes in the fossil record.”

    Wikipedia: “the number of species known through fossils must be far less than 1% of all the species that have ever lived”

    In which case, they can’t provide much evidence in favor of the theory, either. But what is the statistical model that justifies the 1% figure? How would anyone know?

    Species inhabiting dry uplands are unlikely to die in conditions favorable to fossilization. But that doesn’t make them the missing “links.” Those would have likely lived in the same region as the actually found alpha and the omega species.

    A Darwinian model means that the links would be the rule, not the exception. Every species would be an intermediate.

    If species evolve in leaps, the difficulty goes away.

    hardly surprising that there are gaps.

    But as Niles Eldrege noted, it is highly odd that all the intermediates come and go off-stage.
    Besides, we’re not talking about “gaps” but the fact that the theory predicts an unbroken continuum of intermediates. Why are all of these incremental forms missing and only the first and the last got fossilized. Remember, the fossil record shows species sticking around for a great long time, millions of years. Why did none of the intermediates stick around for millions of years as well?

    evolution happens much more quickly when populations are under stress due to environmental change.

    Yes, that’s what I’ve been saying; although I don’t know what the magic pixie dust is that causes evolution to speed up or slow down due to environmental “stress.” Stress is Force divided by cross-sectional Area, so likely the usage is metaphorical and not scientific. I’m inclined to think that all evolutions are more rapid than previously believed, and the step-wise appearance of the fossil record is simply due to the step-wise nature of evolution. However, it makes perfectly good sense if you add Lamarckism and telos.

    Remember, uniformitarianism was a metaphysical choice by the founding generation. It was not a scientific fact. (The facts militated against it.) “IOW, evolutionary change can be sudden, specific and massively parallel”

    Darwin’s theory is 158 years old. Obviously, the science of evolution has advanced since then.

    “Changed,” not “advanced.” Advanced implies a prefered direction. But how many components of Darwin’s theory must be replaced before it ceases to be Darwin’s theory?

    that evolution can happen much quicker than Darwin thought doesn’t disprove the theory as the mechanism is the same.

    Vast over-reproduction followed by massive die-off of the surplus offspring? David Stove had some fun with that one: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/838691/posts?page=51 (Originally in the Royal Institute of Philosophy, now vanished behind a paywall.) Prof. Stove was an atheist.

    “There is no question that the Darwinian metaphysic is less well established than a scientific law. Where are Darwin’s Equations?”

    It’s not a ‘metaphysic’ or a law, it’s a theory.

    So is Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism, yet it has Maxwell’s Equations. Newton’s theory of gravitation likewise was expressed in his famous equations; so was Einstein’s theory of special and general relativity. In fact, one of the markers of the 17th century Scientific Revolution was the privileging of mathematics as the discourse of science. So when physicists or chemists see a theory devoid of any math, they may wonder if they’re looking at the minor league. Where math does pop up is in biophysics, biochemistry, genetics, and the like. (Mendel was formally trained as a physicist.)

    “too many are satisfied with mere just-so stories … But a yarn about how an evolution could have happened is not a scientific proof that that is how it did happen.”

    Quote mining.

    Whose quote was mined? Gould?

    Also, could be applied to literally any scientific theory.

    EInstein’s theories of relativity were festooned with equations, tensor calculus, and the like, and were confirmed by things like the perihelion of Mercury and the atomic bomb. (Unless you are a Humean or Popperian. Then there cannot be any possible empirical evidence for any theory.) Einstein and the rest could tell stories with the best of them — but they always conducted experiments or otherwise produced the empirical evidence.

    The telling of just-so stories of evolutions is a special case of what I like to call model-based history. This is where one starts with an idee fixe and deduces “what must have happened” in the light of that prior assumption. This dispenses with the laborious requirement for actual empirical evidence.

    “Evolutions is a fact; natural selection is a theory that attempts to account for it. There are other theories, like natural genetic engineering.”

    Doesn’t disprove the theory of evolution.

    No, it provides an alternative theory, one that avoids the pitfalls of the natural selection theory. It avoids the whole “random mutation” thingie — since randomness cannot cause anything. It accounts for the obnoxious speed shown by observed evolutions and the fossil record and eliminates the issue of there not being enough time in the history of the universe for enough “favorable” mutations to fortuitously occur to become a new species. It torpedoes the problem of “irreducible complexity,” since if a gross change need not occur by slow, incremental steps but rather all-at-once you don’t have the “mousetrap” problem.

    You’re using exactly the same examples and quotes as you were doing several years ago.

    I’m still using the Pythagorean Theorem, too.

    A quick look on Wikipedia and through various book reviews is enough to see that “natural genetic engineering” has been heavily criticised as an idea and has failed to gain acceptance, but was picked up enthusiastically by Intelligent Design proponents.

    Heterodoxy is always criticized by orthodoxy. People form alliegances to that which they were taught, esp. if they can see themselves as defending the bastions against the Great Unwashed. Gould and Eldrege were severely criticized for their “punctuated equilibrium” theory, in part because “creationists” had flocked to support it. They were giving comfort to the enemy! Which, if nothing else, is hardly a scientific argument. Yet, P/E is now so uncontroversial that you yourself used it earlier in this comment to defend orthodoxy.

    Darwinism, OTOH, was picked up enthusiastically by eugenicists, Nazis, and Josef Stalin. So be careful of using that guilt-by-association fallacy.

    What a coincidence! It’s almost as if you’re trying to undermine evolution in exactly the same way as they are.

    How does an alternative natural mechanism for how evolutions take place undermine the fact of evolution? At best, it might mean that a popular mechanism may be less important than normally supposed. If anything, it subverts many of the assumptions made by prominent IDers!

    Local motion gets by with two explanations: mechanics and electromagnetism, because no one supposes that all bodies move by the same causes. Quantum mechanics has at least four rival theories (i.e., they cannot be simultaneously true). No one gets upset at such things in the hard sciences. But don’t you dare suggest a 19th century country squire might not have gotten everything right in biology.

    Edward Blyth never left England until after he had set out the idea of natural selection (between 1834 and 1837) in terms eerily echoed by Darwin twenty years later. Darwin read Blyth’s papers, although the pages in his Notebooks that would have covered them were later physically removed. It was Blyth who acquainted Darwin with the works of Wallace. (Science is collaborative and cumulative and natural selection was “in the air,” a projection of laizzes faire economics onto biology.) Blyth proposed natural selection (though he did not call it by that name) as the engine that maintained the species type by de-selecting variants that were not up to snuff. Remember that a currently existing species is already well-adapted to its niche, and Blyth thought that natural selection would tend to preserve the existing species as-is. He thought natural selection (by whatever name) was an argument in favor of fixity of species!

    Lamarck’s central insight was this:

    “Great alteration in the environment of animals leads to great alteration in their needs… Now, if the new needs become permanent, the animals then adopt new habits which last as long as the needs that evoked them…. Every new need, necessitating new activities for its satisfaction, requires the animal, either to make more frequent use of some of its parts which it previously had used less, and thus greatly to develop and enlarge them; or else to make use of entirely new parts, to which the needs have imperceptibly given birth by efforts of its inner feeling.”

    Leave out the ‘inner feelings’ crap and we see that Lamark had grasped the teleology that enabled Darwinian theory to turn Blyth’s natural selection from a factor maintaining fixity of species to one that might move things toward modified species.

  26. The “Evolution” paradigm doesn’t come within a bull’s roar of being a valid scientific theory. It is, at best, a failed (discredited) hypothesis that has been fraudulently flogged to the gullible public as if it was an established law of nature.

    The litany of entirely speculative “modifications” that are proposed to try to hide the failure in a fog and confusion are but part of the sales pitch. Snake oil does not become the magic “answer to everything” just because a whole lot of gullible people buy it.

  27. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “But what is the statistical model that justifies the 1% figure? How would anyone know?”

    I don’t know. There’s this great thing called ‘google’ for stuff like that.

    *

    “A Darwinian model means that the links would be the rule, not the exception. Every species would be an intermediate.”

    Every living thing *IS* an intermediate.

    *

    “If species evolve in leaps, the difficulty goes away.”

    There is no difficulty.

    *

    “Why did none of the intermediates stick around for millions of years as well?”

    They did! Every living thing *IS* an intermediate.

    *

    “Yes, that’s what I’ve been saying; although I don’t know what the magic pixie dust is that causes evolution to speed up or slow down due to environmental “stress.””

    As I understand it, it’s population size. Large environmental changes result in smaller populations, which then allow mutations to spread more easily. Have you read your own sources regarding Pupfish, for example?

    *

    “However, it makes perfectly good sense if you add Lamarckism and telos.”

    ‘Telos’ as in ‘teleology’? Back to Intelligent Design again. Also, ‘makes perfectly good sense’ doesn’t mean ‘is true’.

    *

    ““Changed,” not “advanced.” Advanced implies a prefered direction. But how many components of Darwin’s theory must be replaced before it ceases to be Darwin’s theory?”

    What are you talking about? The theory has been expanded and revised to better account for all the available evidence – this is ‘advancement’, not just ‘change’. Many facts were unknown to darwin, not least being the mechanism of inheritance.

    *

    “[…] Prof. Stove was an atheist.”

    Why do you always note that people are atheists? Stove is not only an atheist, he’s a moronic atheist, at least judging by this link. Some of Darwin’s ideas were incorrect – so what? He couldn’t be expected to know everything.

    *

    “Where math does pop up is in biophysics, biochemistry, genetics, and the like. (Mendel was formally trained as a physicist.)”

    Yes. What is your substantial point here? It looks like you’re just chucking as much mud (or poo) as you can, hoping that some will stick.

    *

    “[…] This is where one starts with an idee fixe and deduces “what must have happened” in the light of that prior assumption. This dispenses with the laborious requirement for actual empirical evidence.”

    Really pathetic stuff here. Darwin just ‘started with an idea’ and didn’t search for evidence? Come off it! You’ve got a nerve saying that when you advocate for entirely evidence-free rubbish like ‘souls’.

    *

    “It avoids the whole “random mutation” thingie — since randomness cannot cause anything.”

    Prove that randomness cannot cause anything.

    “It accounts for the obnoxious speed shown by observed evolutions and the fossil record and eliminates the issue of there not being enough time in the history of the universe for enough “favorable” mutations to fortuitously occur to become a new species.”

    So evolution is both too fast AND too slow?

    “It torpedoes the problem of “irreducible complexity,” since if a gross change need not occur by slow, incremental steps but rather all-at-once you don’t have the “mousetrap” problem.”

    There is no ‘problem of irreducible complexity’ outside of creationism. Have you visited the Ark Encounter yet? You’d love it. I hear there’s plenty of room in the carpark.

    *

    “Heterodoxy is always criticized by orthodoxy. […]”

    Yes, you believe any fringe theories which you think may support your pre-determined ID conclusion. It’s called ‘motivated reasoning’.
    *

    “Darwinism, OTOH, was picked up enthusiastically by eugenicists, Nazis, and Josef Stalin. So be careful of using that guilt-by-association fallacy.”

    I didn’t use any such fallacy, but you’re doing so right here! It doesn’t make any difference how unpopular Darwin’s admirers are.

    *

    (Random history lesson on natural selection)

    What is your point?

  28. “But what is the statistical model that justifies the 1% figure? How would anyone know?”

    I don’t know. There’s this great thing called ‘google’ for stuff like that.

    Well, you cited an unlikely statistic. You must have some idea where it came from. The only way a number like that can come about is if you counted all the species that have been fossilized and divide by the number of species that have ever lived. But how can anyone ever know how many species were not preserved?

    “A Darwinian model means that the links would be the rule, not the exception. Every species would be an intermediate.”

    Every living thing *IS* an intermediate.

    I agree. The problem is the fossil record shows that species change in leaps, not by the small incremental steps that Darwinism predicts. What we see is species proceeding nearly unchanged for a great long time, then disappear. There was a lovely graph in Mayr’s book “Populations, Species and Evolution” showing successive fossils of a particular species of fish. Time was the abscissa, but the ordinate was “percentage of features in common with the modern species.” Naturally, it was an S-curve. At first there was very little change, then a very rapid increase toward the modern form; finally, it leveled off and remained unchanged thereafter. After seeing this graph, I had to wonder why everyone gave Eldrege and Gould such a hard time over punctuated equilibrium.

    It’s not that there are no intermediate species. It’s that the intermediates are not the gradual incremental stages that the theory predicts.

    ‘Telos’ as in ‘teleology’? Back to Intelligent Design again.

    Telos is a Greek word signifying a towardness in nature. Essentially, it means that nature follows regular laws. Sodium and chlorine combined results in salt, not pepper. An acorn grows into an oak, not oakum. Birds gather twigs to builf nests, not Nestles hot chocolate. Species adapt, i.e., become more apt at some niche. Mechanical systems within an attractor basin tend toward an equilibrium manifold. Bodies in space tend to move in regular orbits around a primary. The existence of scientific laws like F=ma or E=mc² demonstrate the essential towardness of natural processes.

    You might get intelligence out of that, but not the claptrap that goes by the name of Intelligent Design, which tries to demonstrate an intelligence by finding exceptions to natural law.

    ‘makes perfectly good sense’ doesn’t mean ‘is true’.

    True, but that didn’t stop the Darwinists.

    Some of Darwin’s ideas were incorrect – so what? He couldn’t be expected to know everything.

    Stove’s examples came from modern advocates of the Darwinian paradigm. They ought to have corrected things by now. But if his logical analysis in items 7-9 are what Darwin got incorrect, then he got the heart and soul of his theory incorrect, because 7-9 are the engine which he claimed led to the emergence of new species from old.

    Prove that randomness cannot cause anything.

    Because “randomness” is an idea — shorthand for “we don’t see any particular cause,” and usually means “there are multiple causes at play and we don’t know/can’t afford to sort them out.” The lack of causal agency of ideas was the case the Scientific Revolution laid against Platonic ideals. How does an immaterial thing like an idea or concept cause anything to happen in matter?

    So evolution is both too fast AND too slow?

    If we accept the gradualism of the theory, it’s too slow to have accounted for the observed variety of species.
    Actual evolutions have been too fast for the theory to account for.

    There is no ‘problem of irreducible complexity’ outside of creationism.

    There are certain biochemical mechanisms that cannot function at all without all the component parts being present. Darwinism requires we believe in multiple beneficial mutations all happening at once. A random beneficial point mutation is rather rare. William of Ockham suggests the logical conclusion is that mutations are not sequential and they are not random.

    Yes, you believe any fringe theories which you think may support your pre-determined ID conclusion.

    I have never written in support of ID. If the Darwinian paradigm were actually true, it would provide mild support for an intelligent creator, since the Fifth Way is based on the lawfulness of nature, not improbable exceptions.

    I didn’t use any such fallacy, but you’re doing so right here! It doesn’t make any difference how unpopular Darwin’s admirers are.

    Earlier, you wrote that natural genetic engineering “was picked up enthusiastically by Intelligent Design proponents. What a coincidence! It’s almost as if you’re trying to undermine evolution in exactly the same way as they are.” So apparently if does matter how unpopular Darwin’s detractors are. I used the counterexample to illustrate this hypocrisy.

  29. Any tortuous rhetoric is justified as long as it supports the “Evolution” paradigm. It doesn’t matter if it is self contradictory or contradictory of certainly known Natural Laws because:
    [quote] Father Teilhard de Chardin – who Stephan Jay Gould judges to be the main responsible for the famous fraud of the man of Piltdown (Cfr. JAY GOULD, Stephen, A Conjuração de Piltdown, in A Galinha e seus Dentes, ed. Paz e Terra, São Paulo, 1992, pp. 201 a 226, and, from the same author, O Polegar do Panda, Martins Fontes, S. Paulo, pp. 95 a 109) — has declared:

    “Evolution, is it a theory, a system, or a hypothesis?

    It is much more than that. It is the general condition to which all theories, all hypothesis, all systems should kneel; a condition to which they must refer to, from now on, in order for them to be taken in account and to be right”.(TEILHARD de CHARDIN, The human phenomenon, p. 245).

    Julian Huxley, by his turn, shows how the dogma of evolution imposes itself as the foundation of the modern relativist religion:

    “In the evolutionist way of thinking, there is no place for supernatural (spiritual) beings capable of affecting the course of human events, nor there is necessity of them. Earth was not created. It was formed by evolution. The human body, the mind, the soul, and everything that was produced, including laws, moral, religions, gods, etc., are entirely result of evolution, by means of the natural selection”. (Cfr. HUXLEY, J. Evolution after Darwin, p. 246, apud OSSANDÒN VALDÈS, Juan Carlos, En torno al concepto de evolución, article in the Philosophica magazine, of Santiago, Chile, doctrinary Suplement of the Jesus Christus maganize, number 50, of Buenos Aires).

    We believe that these statements by Teilhard de Chardin and Huxley are enough – beyond the exam of what happens today – to confirm what we said above: Evolutionism is the fundamental dogma of modern relativism. [/quote]

    quoted from:
    http://www.montfort.org.br/eng/cadernos/religiao/evolucionismo/

  30. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “Well, you cited an unlikely statistic. You must have some idea where it came from.”

    I said my source was Wikipedia and even gave you a link. And, who are you to say it’s unlikely?

    *

    “It’s not that there are no intermediate species. It’s that the intermediates are not the gradual incremental stages that the theory predicts.”

    Again, I’m wondering if you realise that evolution has advanced since Darwin?

    *

    Telos: an ultimate object or aim. (Bing)

    Telos: is an end or purpose, in a fairly constrained sense used by philosophers such as Aristotle. It is the root of the term “teleology”, roughly the study of purposiveness, or the study of objects with a view to their aims, purposes, or intentions. (Wikipedia)

    Teleology: is the philosophical attempt to describe things in terms of their apparent purpose, directive principle, or goal. (Wikipedia)

    Doesn’t sound very much like your explanation “Essentially, it means that nature follows regular laws.”, which makes it sound like just another term for ‘scientific law’. AFAIK, evolution doesn’t move towards an ‘ultimate aim’. It is directionless.

    “The existence of scientific laws like F=ma or E=mc² demonstrate the essential towardness of natural processes.”

    Does it? I would have thought it demonstrates that nature has bottom-up processes, but teleology implies top-down ones.

    *

    “Stove’s examples […]”

    I don’t care where Stove got his examples from, he’s not a biologist and should stick to talking about whatever philosophers are experts in. I don’t know what that is – maybe obsfucation? I can’t even find any mention of him at all on my two favourite evolution sites, so I’ll have to go with this link to a well written, critical Amazon review:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/customer-reviews/R2B8M20T5XKWSC/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1594032009

    This demolishes Stove’s book. Why use books written by philosophers to try and discredit a scientific theory? Where are your links to peer-reviewed papers on the subject?

    *

    (Prove that randomness cannot cause anything.)

    “Because “randomness” is an idea — shorthand for “we don’t see any particular cause,” and usually means “there are multiple causes at play and we don’t know/can’t afford to sort them out.””

    Multiple causes cannot cause anything? F- Word salad.

    *

    “There are certain biochemical mechanisms that cannot function at all without all the component parts being present.”

    Intelligent Design 101. They used to use the example of the human eye until it was pointed out that even a single photo-sensitive cell would give an evolutionary advantage.

    *

    “I have never written in support of ID. If the Darwinian paradigm were actually true, it would provide mild support for an intelligent creator, since the Fifth Way is based on the lawfulness of nature, not improbable exceptions.”

    You use exactly the same arguments and tactics as ID advocates: Darwinism is impossibe / happens too slow / happens too fast / missing links / irreducible complexity / ignoring modern advancements in evolutionary theory. Just as ‘ID’ is really creationism in disguise, you are an ID advocate in disguise – maybe just a pair of glasses, like Klark Kent.

    *

    “So apparently if does matter how unpopular Darwin’s detractors are. I used the counterexample to illustrate this hypocrisy.”

    I said you’re using the same arguments as ID proponents, you say some nasty people admired Darwinism – the two things are completely different and this doesn’t establish your charge of hypocrisy.

  31. I said my source was Wikipedia and even gave you a link. And, who are you to say it’s unlikely?

    I already explained. To determine that 1% of all species have been fossilized, you need a denominator for the fraction. Otherwise, it is just a guess or a tendentious figure used “as a drunk uses a lamppost,” for support, not illumination.

    I’m wondering if you realise that evolution has advanced since Darwin?

    Perhaps I missed the part where they gave up uniformitarianism.

    Telos: is an end or purpose, in a fairly constrained sense used by philosophers such as Aristotle.

    Ah, Wikipedia, that font of all wisdom! Note that “fairly constrained sense.” That would be in contrast to the wild imaginings of the Moderns and Postmoderns. For one thing, “purpose” is only one source of telos, applicable only to conscious beings and their characteristic acts. Aquinas notes: We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. IOW, hydrogen and oxygen make water “always or for the most part.” They do not combine to make pate de fois gras.
    The three basic forms or telos are:
    1. Temination. E.g., telomeres divide a particular number of times, then stop.
    2. Perfection. E.g., a tiger cub matures into a tiger, then stops.
    3. Intention. E.g., a tiger stalks a deer in order to eat.

    I would have thought [a scientific law] demonstrates that nature has bottom-up processes, but teleology implies top-down ones.

    The existence of third causes does not eliminate the need for fourth causes. When things “build up” they are building up “toward” something. Otherwise the efficient causes would not result “always or for the most part” in the same thing. If A causes B rather than C, D, or E, there must be something in A that “points toward” B.

    AFAIK, evolution doesn’t move towards an ‘ultimate aim’. It is directionless.

    Of course it moves toward an ultimate aim. It is claimed to result in the origin of species. There’s even a seminal book with that title. It moves a species toward greater aptitude in its niche: ad-apt-ation; ad-vantage; e-volution, etc., are all teleological words. There also seems to be a towardness wrt to complexity. Each time the slate has been wiped — in the Permian and the Cretaceous, for example — surviving simple forms have evolved into progressively more complex forms. But this is merely empirical.

    I don’t care where Stove got his examples from

    From Darwin, Dawkins, Hamilton, Fischer….

    [Stove]’s not a biologist and should stick to talking about whatever philosophers are experts in.

    Logic. Consistency. Stuff like that.

    he’s not a biologist and should stick to [his own bailiwick]

    If only that cautioned biologists to eschew philosophy!

    Why use books written by philosophers to try and discredit a scientific theory?

    When the conclusions of the theory violate logic and consistency. These are philosophical issues, not biological ones. When their conclusions are contrary to evidence and observation, it is quite justified to wonder if there is something deficient in the theory.
    Heck, why use books written by biologists to try and discredit a philosophical demonstration?

    Multiple causes cannot cause anything? F- Word salad.

    Try to follow. I said that randomness does not cause anything because randomness is simply an idea that covers for our ignorance of actual causes. In particular, we describe a pattern as “random” when it results from a host of small causes no one of which dominates the process and which are practically impossible to sort out. An example is trying to explain why a pair of dice came up “12”. Gosh, maybe I threw the dice too hard? So you test the hypothesis, throw the dice gently, and they don’t come up 12. That supports your hypothesis. Then you roll the dice for a while, still not getting 12, and your Gentle Roll hypothesis becomes a Theory of 12. Your students get taught the Theory of 12, and they believe it implicitly. No one submitting papers suggesting other possible causes for 12 because it is now believed that the only alternative to Gentle Roll theory is supernatural intervention, which you reject a priori. No alternative theory can get past peer review, because all the peer reviewers have been trained in Gentle Roll theory. So if someone suggests the Angle of the Throw theory or the Friction of the Carpet theory, they will be accused of supernaturalism rather than of suggesting a different natural theory. They have given aid and comfort to the Divine Throw believers.

    Meanwhile, a 12 has been thrown occasionally even with a Gentle Roll, so the response is that the thrower rolled the dice Too Hard unwittingly or even that he faked the results. Perhaps the thrower himself will ascribe the results to “experimental error,” repeat the roll under “identical” conditions, and not get a 12; so the Theory is saved once more.

    You get the picture. There is No Particular Cause for the dice showing 12. Sometimes it may be one thing; other times, another. The real cause of the occasional 12 is the design of the dice: there is a 6 on one face of each die. But anyone suggesting this is denounced as an IDer, who believes in Intelligently designed Dice.

    even a single photo-sensitive cell would give an evolutionary advantage.

    Good example. I’m sure there are many fossil records of organisms with a single photosensitive cell. Otherwise, it’s just making up a plausible scenario rather than empirical evidence. But what factors have to come into play to make a cell photosensitive? How many point mutations? Let’s say it is 10. If only 5 of them have happened, is the resulting structure still an “evolutionary advantage”?
    This is no problem with natural genetic engineering, because there is no philosophical restriction to gradualism or to “randomness.” But one-at-a-time gradualness has a big problem. It not only must accumulate the 10 fortuitous mutations, none of the intermediates can be at a disadvantage.

    It’s not enough to say that a photosensitive cell would be an advantage. Perhaps it would be, if one were not a cave fish. I understand all this happened when our ancestors were living in the deep ocean, so I’m not sure how much of an advantage it would have been in practice. (All that’s really required is that it not be a disadvantage.) The question is not whether the outcome is advantageous to reproductive success. The question is whether you can reach that outcome from the starting point by small incremental fortuitous mutations, since each intermediate step must be itself reproductively advantageous. Can you cross a chasm by taking small, incremental steps?

    You use exactly the same arguments and tactics as ID advocates

    You use exactly the same arguments and tactics as eugenics advocates.
    Are we done with the genetic fallacy now?

  32. So now random has become chance to provide the illusion of some sort of legs for the “Evolution” fantasy.

    Let’s say that random is a lack of discernable order; and that chance is a lack of discernable causes. So then, random chance would be no discerned order produced by no discerned causes. Seen everywhere! definitely not a creative act capable of imposing order on chaos. In fact, when chance is introduced into an orderly system, decreasing order, increasing randomness, increasing entropy, is invariably the result.

    Just ask any engineer what “Murphy’s Law” is!

  33. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “To determine that 1% of all species have been fossilized”

    Argue with my source (Wikipedia), not with me.

    *

    “Perhaps I missed the part where they gave up uniformitarianism.”

    What is your point?

    *

    (Telos) Word salad. Also, stop trying to argue by analogy – nature doesn’t.

    *

    “Of course it [evolution] moves toward an ultimate aim.”

    This is just labelling something as an ‘aim’ after it’s happened. “Look, that random walk moved somewhere, therefore teleology.” In any case, if evolution has got an aim, what is it?

    Also, stop pretending that the use of teleological-sounding language has any real significance – it hasn’t, it’s just easier for us to think that way.

    *

    [whatever philosophers are experts in.] “Logic. Consistency. Stuff like that.”

    In theory, yes. But look at the reality of the situation!

    *

    “When the conclusions of the theory violate logic and consistency.”

    They don’t. Stove, as that review amply demonstrates, doesn’t understand evolution. Why didn’t he send his own theory of evolution (done the philosophically correct way) to a scientific journal? Maybe because he was just a smug tw*t who took pot shots from the sidelines?

    *

    [Dice analogy] Stop with the analogies! You can argue about causes till you’re blue in the face, and you probably will because you’ve hung your hat on that particular god-shaped peg. The point is that the causes of mutations are unconnected with the naturally-selected evolutionary result. ‘Random’ is a perfectly serviceable term in the circumstances.

    Otherwise, what point are you trying to make? That mutations are somehow ‘directed’? How would that even work? Backwards in time causation?

    *

    “But what factors have to come into play to make a cell photosensitive? How many point mutations? Let’s say it is 10.”

    Let’s say 1. (I note here that you’re going straight for ‘plug one gap in the fossil record and see two new ones’ meme used by creationists.)

    “This is no problem with natural genetic engineering, because there is no philosophical restriction to gradualism or to “randomness.” But one-at-a-time gradualness has a big problem.”

    ‘NGE’ would appear to have a giant chasm to bridge regarding the cause of mutations. If they’re not ‘random’, what directs them?

    “It not only must accumulate the 10 fortuitous mutations, none of the intermediates can be at a disadvantage.”

    Wrong. Stop thinking in philosophical absolutes. Did you not read that review of Stove?

    “It’s not enough to say that a photosensitive cell would be an advantage. Perhaps it would be, if one were not a cave fish. I understand all this happened when our ancestors were living in the deep ocean, so I’m not sure how much of an advantage it would have been in practice.”

    Wrong. Eyes have evolved multiple times over from scratch. How does the ‘NGE’ theory explain why the human eye has the retina the wrong way round, resulting in us having a blind spot where the optic nerve is attached?

    “The question is whether you can reach that outcome from the starting point by small incremental fortuitous mutations, since each intermediate step must be itself reproductively advantageous. Can you cross a chasm by taking small, incremental steps?”

    Wrong, everything does not have to be advantageous. Wrong again because your analogy uses misleading language – what ‘chasm’? Also, you’re actually questioning the very most basic evolution 101 stuff here – so much for accepting the fossil record and not being a ID/creationist.

    *

    “You use exactly the same arguments and tactics as eugenics advocates. Are we done with the genetic fallacy now?”

    I’m not using the same arguments and tactics as eugenics advocates, you are using exactly the same false arguments, examples, misleading analogies, cherry picking, irrelevant sources and incorrect interpretations as ID/creationists and for apparently the same reason: the god dunnit hypothesis.

  34. @ Oldavid,

    “[Randomness is] definitely not a creative act capable of imposing order on chaos.”

    Correct. But it isn’t the random (or chance) variations part of evolution which ‘imposes order’, it’s the natural selection part.

  35. The “Evolution” superstition (irrational belief) is so profoundly attractive to the egos of its adherents that they willingly relinquish even the capacity to reason coherently in order to maintain their illusion.

    Selection (be it natural or intelligently, or maliciously contrived) cannot create anything. It is simply the removal of some genes, or characteristics, or types from a population. It’s just a kind of eugenics; completely destructive.

  36. Selection (be it natural or intelligently, or maliciously contrived) cannot create anything. It is simply the removal of some genes, or characteristics, or types from a population.

    True dat. Which is why you need transmissible genetic variation on the front end.

  37. Which is what I’ve been saying all along. However, I’m exceedingly cautious that there may be an irrational twist (sting) in your apparent condescension.

    The tendency to degeneration (always and everywhere observed) necessarily implies a higher order starting position. The “Evolution” paradigm assumes that a no (or lesser) order precedent is inevitably proceeding toward an ever increasing order, or perfection that has no end except in an ever receding “Omega Point” where “total consciousness” of matter becomes the great “Ohm”.

  38. @ Oldavid,

    “Selection (be it natural or intelligently, or maliciously contrived) cannot create anything. It is simply the removal of some genes, or characteristics, or types from a population. It’s just a kind of eugenics; completely destructive.”

    Arrrgh! The random mutation part of evolution does the ‘creating’, the natural selection part does the ‘choosing’. You’re complaining that each part can’t do what the other part does, but that’s why both are necessary!

    Also, have you ever seen a wood carving? Removing stuff can be creative.

  39. @ Oldavid,

    “The tendency to degeneration (always and everywhere observed) necessarily implies a higher order starting position.”

    What about the formation of hydrogen atoms from protons and electrons? What about the formation of stars from random clouds of hydrogen under the effect of gravity? What about the formation of heavier elements in stars by nuclear fusion? What about the formation of yet heavier elements in supernovae events? Would you say the formation of heavier and heavier elements is degeneration?

    *

    “The “Evolution” paradigm assumes that a no (or lesser) order precedent is inevitably proceeding toward an ever increasing order…”

    No it doesn’t. For a start off, evolution is a theory about the development of life. It’s got nothing to do with cosmology or any other scientific ideas. Secondly, it does not “proceed toward an ever increasing order” – it has no direction at all. It’s just a random walk – the longer it goes on for, the further away from its starting point it’s likely to get, and that’s it.

    *

    “…or perfection that has no end except in an ever receding “Omega Point” where “total consciousness” of matter becomes the great “Ohm”.”

    No-one can resist the great Ohm.

  40. I wonder what’s happened to ole Jersy Mc Jones? Did he get the sack from the professional trolling department because he let a smidgin of integrity interfere with his mischief-making? No fear of that end for the Noisyfish.

    Now look, Mr blaring pointynose, we’ve already established that random chance (as in Murphy’s Law) can’t create anything but a mess; which you agreed saying that it’s natural selection that creates order from chaos. Then you agreed that selection can’t create anything because it’s just a sifting process that eliminates the “worse” from the “better”. And then, without the slightest sign of any compunction for your irrational switchback, you boldly proclaim that it’s random chance that creates the “improved” order.

    Like I said, “Evolution” is an irrational belief that requires the repudiation of coherent reasoning and valid scientific method.

    The kind of cosmology that you spuriously invoke to back up your specious claims is pure speculation without any credible observational evidence to back it up. There are plenty of alternative hypotheses, more consistent with the observations, than your ideologically assumed “facts” but that discussion does not belong in this argument.

  41. Oldavid,

    JMJ died of brain cancer couple of months back. They say he found the Lord at the end, which we pray is true.

  42. “JMJ died of brain cancer couple of months back. They say he found the Lord at the end, which we pray is true”

    Totally unexpected and really sad news. RIP JMJ. I too miss his comments.

  43. @ Oldavid,

    “we’ve already established that random chance (as in Murphy’s Law) can’t create anything but a mess; which you agreed saying that it’s natural selection that creates order from chaos”

    Not really, (Is a snowflake a mess?) but good enough for the sake of argument.

    “Then you agreed that selection can’t create anything because it’s just a sifting process that eliminates the “worse” from the “better”.”

    Yes, natural selection ‘sifts’ the variations which reproduce more.

    “And then, without the slightest sign of any compunction for your irrational switchback, you boldly proclaim that it’s random chance that creates the “improved” order.”

    This is just word-play on you part. (Yet I’m accused of lack of integrity?) Any particular mutation is random, but the overall evolution is down to the ‘ratchet mechanism’ of natural selection. I said both processes are necessary for evolution to work.

    *

    “The kind of cosmology that you spuriously invoke to back up your specious claims is pure speculation without any credible observational evidence to back it up.”

    Don’t be silly.

  44. @swordfishtrombone
    and/or
    @ Oldavid,

    What makes you think that Murphy’s Law has to do with random chance?

    Not really, (Is a snowflake a mess?)

    And it’s not really “random.” Snowflake structure is a direct result of the geometry of the HOH molecule: the two hydrogen atoms attach to the oxygen at right angles.
    http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/biology/bio4fv/page/covalent_bonds.html

    “Then you agreed that selection can’t create anything because it’s just a sifting process that eliminates the “worse” from the “better”.”

    Or else “natural selection” is simply a name we use for “survivors survive.”

    “we’ve already established that random chance (as in Murphy’s Law) can’t create anything but a mess; which you agreed saying that it’s natural selection that creates order from chaos”
    “And then, without the slightest sign of any compunction for your irrational switchback, you boldly proclaim that it’s random chance that creates the “improved” order.”

    Any particular mutation is random

    The snowflake is a good example of non-randomness. Its shape is determined by electrostatic potentials and the covalent bond between the two hydrogen atoms and the oxygen.

    “Random” is only a word we use to mean “the causal nexus is too complex to unravel.” There are many small causes, no one of which dominates the process, so that the control of that cause gives no leverage on determining the result. No Fault Analyst would ever ascribe a failure event to “random chance.” There is always a chain of cause-and-effect.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fault_tree_analysis

    In particular, mutations are not random chance, but often responses to epigenetic factors, and tend to occur under environmental stress. Internal edit and repair functions within the DNA molecule can modify and incorporate such edits in useful ways. For examples and references, see here: http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/2011.10.26.QMaryU.Rethinking%28Im%29Possible.pdf

    Oldavid may be thinking in early 20th century tropes in which a “random mutation” creates a new beneficial change which is then preserved by selection. But most of the action appears to be taking place within the cell and is invisible to high-level whole-organism viewpoints.

  45. It’s sad that ole Jersey has died, but it is consoling to think he may have had the time and incentive to reassess his position. Prayers for his successful conclusion are still effective.

  46. To summarise the rest of this, apparently futile, argument.

    A soul is the immaterial, metaphysical substance, thing or stuff, that orders the material processes that are evident in a live organism. It is only ever passed on from antecedent life which only ever begets life according to its kind. There are no natural processes that have the potential to create the astonishingly, irreducibly, complex order evident in even the “simplest” live organism.

    The human soul, in addition to the transmitted power of life, has also powers of intellect and will that, likewise, cannot create themselves by “natural”, physical processes. Even the delusional intellects that imagine themselves to be instrumental in forming the great “cosmic consciousness” cannot add a single hair to their own head.

    However, paranoid delusions are so strong that no observations of reality that contradict the ideology will be tolerated. Grandiose, spurious rhetoric is invoked to maintain the illusion. As some of the earliest salesmen of the ideology boldly proclaimed: “Evolution” must be true because the alternative is “unthinkable”.

    Well, even if the proposition that life, intellect and will comes from a greater Life, Intellect and Will is “unthinkable” it is the only logically, scientifically viable option.

  47. @ Oldavid,

    “It’s sad that ole Jersey has died, but it is consoling to think he may have had the time and incentive to reassess his position. Prayers for his successful conclusion are still effective.”

    Christians often dishonestly claim last-minute conversions – it happened with Christopher Hitchens. I’m sceptical of this one also, unless given conclusive evidence. Even if it were true, it offers no evidence for the existence of god.

    As regards prayer, when you say it’s “still effective”, it never has been effective – studies have been done which demonstrate this. They had Christians pray for people who were ill and checked to see if those people survived longer – they didn’t. How could praying for someone’s soul work anyway? I thought god’s justice is supposed to be absolute – why would his judgement be swayed by lots of whining believers?

    *

    “A soul is the immaterial, metaphysical substance, thing or stuff, that orders the material processes that are evident in a live organism […]”

    LOL, straight back into mindless rant mode. Religion is pretty good at indoctrination, pretty poor as a way of learning anything useful or true about the world. You do realise that there’s literally no evidence at all for any of your claims?

  48. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “And it’s not really “random.” Snowflake structure is a direct result of the geometry of the HOH molecule: the two hydrogen atoms attach to the oxygen at right angles.”

    What is the cause of a particular snowflake being a particular shape?

    *

    “Or else “natural selection” is simply a name we use for “survivors survive.””

    So what?

    *

    “In particular, mutations are not random chance, but often responses to epigenetic factors, and tend to occur under environmental stress. Internal edit and repair functions within the DNA molecule can modify and incorporate such edits in useful ways. For examples and references, see here:”

    You reference Shapiro. His writings have been heavily criticised. Do you have expertise sufficient to be able to make useful judgements about molecular biology? I do not, so defer to expert opinion, which in this case goes against your source.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/james-shapiro-gets-evolution-wrong-again/

    *

    “Oldavid may be thinking in early 20th century tropes in which a “random mutation” creates a new beneficial change which is then preserved by selection. But most of the action appears to be taking place within the cell and is invisible to high-level whole-organism viewpoints.”

    In that case, Oldavid’s right and you’re wrong.

    *

    This comment on Jerry Coyne’s blog from “paleface” sums things up:

    “As a molecular biologist I have no idea what he [Shapiro] is going on about. Creating controversy where there isn’t any (once again).

    Yes, there are introns, exons, micro RNAs, long non-coding RNAs, short non-coding RNAs, promoters, enhancers, insulators, alternative splicing, epigenetic silencing, copy number variation, single nucleotide polymorphisms etc… etc… And natural selection can act on any of these. People may argue over semantics like “what defines a gene” but so what?

    Congratulations Shapiro you read a molecular biology textbook. Then you made up the “diehard defenders of orthodoxy in evolutionary biology are grievously mistaken in their stubbornness” so you had something to write about.”

  49. As regards prayer, when you say it’s “still effective”, it never has been effective – studies have been done which demonstrate this. They had Christians pray for people who were ill and checked to see if those people survived longer – they didn’t.

    Oh, my gosh! “Studies have been done!” Studies, no less, as if prayer were a physical body that could be measured. (Science as we know it, post-Bacon and Descartes, is the study of the metrical properties of physical bodies.

    Granted, there are many people, even Christians, who think of prayer as a form of magic; but magic lies on the science continuum. It is the exploitation of the “hidden” (occult) powers of matter, while science is the exploitation of the “manifest” (open) powers of matter.

    The pseudo-scientists who conduct studies of prayer literally don’t know what they are talking about. Consider the Lord’s Prayer — thy will be done. Or as the Stones prophesied, “You can’t always get what you want.” How do you control such an experiment, such that other people do not also pray? Prayers in Catholic Churches typically include one “for the sick.” As in anyone who is sick anywhere. But the prayer is that they find the strength to bear their illness. It’s not an importunate demand for a miracle. When I was at death’s door from toxic shock and was going to be moved into dialysis the next morning, the prayer offered at my bedside (with the delightfully-named Fr. Deogratias Rwegasira) was that the doctors would find a way to avert that evil. (The next morning, the kidney doctor announced that my kidney had started working overnight for some unknown reason and dialysis was no longer needed.) Much is sometimes made of the fact that damage to the body affects the soul (esp. brain damage), but it can be forgotten that damage to the soul can affect the body. The attitude of the patient matters.

    Religion is … pretty poor as a way of learning anything useful or true about the world.

    Science is pretty good at learning useful things about the world, but pretty poor as a way of learning anything about the good. This is no skin off either nose. Science is all about the metrical properties of material bodies. It is not designed or suited for the problems of good and evil. It can teach us how to split the atom, but not whether we should drop the Bomb on Hiroshima. It can teach us how to fly through the air in vessels of steel, but not whether that vessel should carry passengers to visit loved ones or firebombs to incinerate Dresden.

    Knowledge “about the world” is important, but not the only knowledge worth having. But this is often unclear to those who have been indoctrinated to the Baconian vision of science.

  50. Physics and metaphysics are not mutually exclusive opposites… they are a great, mutually dependent continuum. Physics is impossible without the metaphysics of consistency, knowledge, understanding and many other non-physical “things”. Metaphysics is a meaningless Voodoo to anyone stuck in time and space without a coherent, comprehensible physical reality to know and understand.

    The nutters of the “enlightenment” who seek to deny metaphysics inevitably come round to some version of Relativism in which “reality” is “becoming” according to the convenience of their imagination… the essence of all Modernism.

  51. What is the cause of a particular snowflake being a particular shape?

    The particular atmospheric conditions at the time of condensation. There is not likely an one particular cause. Just as the particular dice throw producing a particular outcome, there there is no particular cause, but rather a host of causes. That does not mean there are no causes; quite the contrary. But when matters become too particular, the methods of measurement may overwhelm the object being measured, but that is a different issue.

    “Or else “natural selection” is simply a name we use for “survivors survive.””
    So what?

    So, “survivors survive” is what logicians call “a tautology.” And tautologies add no information, cf. Copi, Symbolic Logic.

    You reference Shapiro. His writings have been heavily criticised.

    As had been Eldrege and Gould regarding their “punctuated equilibrium.” As was Darwin for his failure to explain why novelties were not “diluted out.” Or Wegener, who proposed continental drift; or Semmelweiss, who wanted doctors to wash their hands. Or Galileo, who went against the settled science of the consensus. (though he got support from the humanists.) Heavy criticism is the norm in the sciences. As the proverb has it: the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. If you don’t get counter-battery fire from the Establishment, you haven’t said anything worthwhile. You’re just another yes-man in the diploma mill, adding one more decimal place to pi.

    Pointing to errors is a more convincing rebuke than telling me he has been criticized.

    “Oldavid may be thinking in early 20th century tropes in which a “random mutation” creates a new beneficial change which is then preserved by selection. But most of the action appears to be taking place within the cell and is invisible to high-level whole-organism viewpoints.”
    In that case, Oldavid’s right and you’re wrong.

    In that case, the theory is subject to the critiques that “random” mutations which occur independently of environmental conditions and of one another have difficulty spanning the gap from one stable form to another in the short times indicated by the fossil record, as well as the mathematical critique that not enough time has passed even since the Big Bang to allow for the number of fortuitously “beneficial” mutations required to account for the diversity of creatures.

    Shapiro’s theory at least defuses those criticisms by providing for non-random, “adaptive” mutations, and for rapid and wholesale changes in response to specidic environmental pressures.

    This comment on Jerry Coyne’s blog from “paleface” sums things up:
    “As a molecular biologist I have no idea what he [Shapiro] is going on about. Creating controversy where there isn’t any (once again).

    Yes, there are introns, exons, micro RNAs, long non-coding RNAs, short non-coding RNAs, promoters, enhancers, insulators, alternative splicing, epigenetic silencing, copy number variation, single nucleotide polymorphisms etc… etc…

    Who is “paleface” and what are his bona fides? The last time I tracked down a commentator on the coyneblog, he turned out to be a trumpet-player and part-time computer programmer.

    “…And natural selection can act on any of these. People may argue over semantics like ‘what defines a gene’ but so what?”

    Ah, sure, and ‘natural selection’ is a magical theory driving even units that do not “strive to the utmost to reproduce” nor “compete for food and other resouces,” resulting in massive die-off. But then a tautology actually is universal. Blyth’s natural selection well and good so far as it goes, but it is not a mere metaphor that can be applied willy-nilly in an analogical sense to areas where the Malthusian assumptions do not hold.

    Congratulations[,] Shapiro[,] you read a molecular biology textbook.

    He did more than read a textbook. His CV can be found here: http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/cv.shtml as well as his publications.
    I do not understand the driving need of True Believers to resort to ad hominem against those they perceive as heretics. Just tell us where and how his science is wrong. Sophomoric sneers toward a winner of the Darwin Award from Edinburgh University and full professor of genetics at U. Chicago seem unconvincing.

    There also seems to be a great fear that if the mechanism of evolution turns out to be other than Malthusian, that somehow or other the only possible alternative is theokinetics — God did it. Consequently, even alternative natural mechanisms like punctuated equilibrium and adaptive mutation are greeted as if they were subterfuges for sinister crypto-ID forces.

  52. Yair, right, YOS. Now you seem to be creeping toward the Intelligent Design model that you poo-hooed some time back.

    I.D. presupposes that “reality” is incrementally “evolving” from some “imperfect” state toward a “more perfect” state by some “influence” that periodically interferes with natural processes in some sort of trial-and-error “learning curve”.

    The “Evolution” superstition is a mine of fantastic conjectures that will propose almost anything except what has been obvious to sane, ordinary people for thousands of years.

  53. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    (Snowflakes) I mentioned the example of snowflakes in relation to Oldavid’s claim that everything is always tending towards disorder. It’s got nothing to do with evolution per se.

    *

    “So, “survivors survive” is what logicians call “a tautology.” And tautologies add no information, cf. Copi, Symbolic Logic.”

    Dear me! “Survivors survive” isn’t an accurate description of natural selection, so this is irrelevant.

    *

    (Criticism of Shapiro) “If you don’t get counter-battery fire from the Establishment, you haven’t said anything worthwhile. You’re just another yes-man in the diploma mill, adding one more decimal place to pi.”

    Stirring stuff, but just because someone is criticised doesn’t mean they’re right. Andrew Wakefield’s “vaccinations cause autism” claim was criticised – does that make it true? The criticisms that I’ve read of Shapiro are consistent and make sense, so I accept them, just as I accept criticisms of Wakefield.

    *

    “Pointing to errors is a more convincing rebuke than telling me he has been criticized.”

    I gave you a link to a post by Jerry Coyne – did you read it? He’s made quite a few posts on the subject of Shapiro’s book, just type ‘shapiro’ into his search box.

    *

    “Who is “paleface” and what are his bona fides? The last time I tracked down a commentator on the coyneblog, he turned out to be a trumpet-player and part-time computer programmer.”

    Says a non-expert. But wait a minute, you “tracked down a commentator on the coyneblog”? WTF! Also, I picked that not because of the authority of the writer but because his/her argument makes good sense.

    *

    “Ah, sure, and ‘natural selection’ is a magical theory driving even units that do not “strive to the utmost to reproduce” nor “compete for food and other resouces,” resulting in massive die-off.”

    After reading this, I’m thinking that you don’t understand natural selection after all.

    *

    “He [Shapiro] did more than read a textbook. His CV can be found here:” […] “Sophomoric sneers toward a winner of the Darwin Award from Edinburgh University and full professor of genetics at U. Chicago seem unconvincing.”

    Appeal to authority fallacy, which is odd as I thought he was a heretic earlier?! Make your mind up. Also, I can quote many more experts of equal or greater stature who disagree with him.

    *

    I publically challenge you to take your criticisms of evolution to Jerry Coyne’s blog. I’m sure he’ll be happy to address your concerns.

    Or, you could just be a yellow chicken and continue this pointless argument with me. Your call.

  54. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “Studies, no less, as if prayer were a physical body that could be measured.”

    So, it has no measurable effect?

    “there are many people, even Christians, who think of prayer as a form of magic”

    Playing the ‘what most believers believe is wrong but religion is still right’ card.

    “magic lies on the science continuum”

    Eh?

    “How do you control such an experiment, such that other people do not also pray?”

    In the study I read about, they got believers to pray for people to recover from illnesses. Are you saying other people were praying for those people to die, or are you saying that an infinite god can’t answer too many prayers at once?

    “But the prayer is that they find the strength to bear their illness. It’s not an importunate demand for a miracle.”

    No true scotsman fallacy: ‘True prayer isn’t a demand’. Also, they’re just admitting it doesn’t work.

    *

    “When I was at death’s door from toxic shock […]”

    Did you survive?

    “[the prayer] was that the doctors would find a way to avert that evil”

    So you didn’t rely 100 % on prayer.

    “The next morning, the kidney doctor announced that my kidney had started working overnight for some unknown reason and dialysis was no longer needed.”

    I’m happy to hear you recovered. But are you actually claiming this was due to prayer? That would be survivor bias and confirmation bias with big brass knobs on.

    *

    “The attitude of the patient matters.”

    Yes, it’s called the placebo effect.

    *

    “It [science] is not designed or suited for the problems of good and evil.”

    True, but this is a false opposition. There are systems other than religion (such as humanism) which look at the ‘problems of good and evil’ and do so in a far more rational and constructive way than condoning slavery and genocide whilst labelling random lists of harmless behaviours as sins; having a justice system with only one infinitely bad punishment; or allowing an escape clause (redemption) to anyone, no matter how evil.

  55. I.D. presupposes that “reality” is incrementally “evolving” from some “imperfect” state toward a “more perfect” state by some “influence” that periodically interferes with natural processes in some sort of trial-and-error “learning curve”.

    You mean like toward an “omega point”? I don’t think so. Regardless of whatever motives some may have for tossing the word around — it is a wonderfully supple phrase and, like “natural selection,” can be used with all sorts of equivocal meanings — it is, according to its practitioners, based on two things:
    1. Some biological structures are complex in such a way that they could not have evolved by natural selection as commonly described. Therefore:
    2. They have been deliberately designed by some intelligence, such as space aliens or God.
    However, while (1) may be valid as a scientific critique, (2) does not follow logically. It is entirely possible that the alternative is some other material process.

    Why do folks seem to think that natural causes are somehow distinct from divine will? Details here:
    See also: http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/faculty/calhoun/socratic/Tkacz_AquinasvsID.html

  56. “So, “survivors survive” is what logicians call “a tautology.” And tautologies add no information, cf. Copi, Symbolic Logic.”
    “Survivors survive” isn’t an accurate description of natural selection, so this is irrelevant.

    The comment was that some fanboys of natural selection, by generalizing “evolution” outside the domain in which Darwin’s Malthusian engine operates reduce a perfectly fine scientific theory to a tautology. “Evolution acts on…” Forsooth, how can an immaterial abstraction “act” on something material?

    just because someone is criticised doesn’t mean they’re right.

    Of course not, but you offered it up as if it somehow discounted modern genetics findings. I suggested that instead of saying “Shapiro has been criticized,” you might try “Shapiro [and the other researchers he cites] got the following points wrong, because this or that evidence.”

    ‘natural selection’ is a magical theory driving even units that do not “strive to the utmost to reproduce” nor “compete for food and other resouces,” resulting in massive die-off.”
    I’m thinking that you don’t understand natural selection after all.

    Variations that do not reproduce as successfully as others tend to be weeded out over time by this or that factor in the environment. Throw in some “random” mutations and that’s it. An interesting side effect of death and freaks. All I have noted is that modern discoveries in how genes operate indicate that “mutations” are probably not that “random,” nor are they small or independent of the environment and of one another. This insight explains in naturalistic terms why there are gaps in the fossil record, the speed of evolutions, and why we don’t see a continuum of species. It takes the wind out of the sails of the ID crowd.

    That orthodox believers object to this enhancement of evolutionary theory leads me to suspect that they are more devoted to “randomness” and “gradualism” than they are to natural selection.

    “Sophomoric sneers toward a winner of the Darwin Award from Edinburgh University and full professor of genetics at U. Chicago seem unconvincing.”
    Appeal to authority fallacy, which is odd as I thought he was a heretic earlier?! Make your mind up. Also, I can quote many more experts of equal or greater stature who disagree with him.

    a) The appeal to authority is a material fallacy, not a formal fallacy. That is, it is not necessarily a false argument.
    b) It was offered up as a counter to your dismissive sneer that Shapiro “has read a book.” Shapiro may be wrong, but he is not stupidly wrong. Thus, it was not an appeal to authority in the first place.
    c) There is no contradiction in a heterodox scientist being well-educated in the field. Granted, formal education tends to produce conformists, not innovators; but not universally so.

    I publically challenge you to take your criticisms of evolution to Jerry Coyne’s blog. I’m sure he’ll be happy to address your concerns.

    He tends to block people who offer contrarian opinions. If you’re not one of the peanut gallery, you’re not welcome. One time he challenged his readers to show how the Adam/Eve story could be compatible with the “fact” (actually, it’s an inference) that there were at least 10,000 humans. I submitted such an analysis, but not only did he fail to deliver the free copy of his book that he had promised, he denounced the argument as not being a fundamentalist one, and banned me from his site. That was the one time I ever spent any time over there. Most of what he posts is not very interesting or not worth debating: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/should-one-be-allowed-to-euthanize-severely-deformed-or-doomed-newborns/

    “there are many people, even Christians, who think of prayer as a form of magic”
    Playing the ‘what most believers believe is wrong but religion is still right’ card.

    Certain religions, such as the Catholic and Orthodox churches have specific dogmas and doctrines. People who do not adhere to them are not correct in their beliefs. It’s like what most people believe the secular laws say and what the laws and courts actually do say. You cannot criticize a law based on what an average person says about it.

    “magic lies on the science continuum”
    Eh?

    They involve the manipulation of matter to achieve an effect. Magic makes use of hidden properties; science makes use of known properties. Over tiem (as Aquinas pointed out) the hidden properties become more manifest, and the action moves from “it’s magic!” to “it’s science!” An example is the magical property of willow bark to relieve headaches.

    In the study I read about, they got believers to pray for people to recover from illnesses. Are you saying other people were praying for those people to die…?

    No, I’m saying you cannot design a properly controlled experiment given the assumptions. That is, you cannot say John was being prayed over and Bill was not. Chances are, both were being prayed for; even if some 12-year old girl on the other side of the world was praying for the health and recovery of “everyone who is sick.”

    No true scotsman fallacy: ‘True prayer isn’t a demand’.

    The No True Scotsman fallacy is a fallacy. There is no such thing in logic. Example:
    A: “All fish breathe through gills rather than lungs.”
    B: “But whales are fish, and they breathe through their lungs.”
    A: “Whales may look and seem like fish, but they aren’t truly fish because they breathe through their lungs.”
    B: “Aha! The No True Fish fallacy!”
    A: “But all biologists agree that whales are not fish!”
    B: “Appeal to authority!!!”

    For further information on the nature of prayers, see here: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p4s1.htm#prayer

    I’m happy to hear you recovered. But are you actually claiming this was due to prayer?

    No, I was using it to illustrate that prayer is not analogous to a coin you drop into a miracle-vending machine.

    There are systems other than religion (such as humanism) which look at the ‘problems of good and evil’ and do so in a far more rational and constructive way than condoning slavery and genocide whilst labelling random lists of harmless behaviours as sins; having a justice system with only one infinitely bad punishment; or allowing an escape clause (redemption) to anyone, no matter how evil.

    Humanism is parasitical on Christianity. https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/22/are-there-secular-reasons/
    Slavery, after having died away in the Middle Ages, was revived during the humanist Renaissance. Genocides were planned and carried out by secular states. The “lists” you mention are not random. Etc., etc.
    Your critique would be much more effective if you knew something beside urban legends and stock cardboard stereotypes about that against which you rail. Cf. “On evil”: http://14.139.206.50:8080/jspui/bitstream/1/619/1/Aquinas,%20Thomas%20-%20On%20Evil.pdf

  57. The snowflake objection has already been dealt with in previous replies. However, for the benefit of slow learners, entropy also says that processes tend toward lowest energy state. Because of the shape of the H2O molecule (the H atoms are approx. 120 degrees apart wrt the O atom) when water molecules “desublimate” (condense directly from the gaseous (vapour) state to the solid) their most “comfortable” (lowest energy) arrangement is in some multiple or simple portion of 120 deg., most commonly 60 degrees. It is a simple demonstration of entropy, not a refutation of it.

    [quote=YOS] Why do folks seem to think that natural causes are somehow distinct from divine will? [/quote]
    Well, I don’t know. It seems utterly preposterous to me. Natural causes are the way the “divine will” intended physical reality to work. If there is no natural order to physical reality then all attempts at science are futile because everything is capricious and arbitrary. Natural causes and miracles (the suspension or abrogation of the natural order) are impossible because it’s all Voodoo. The very definition of a miracle is something that does not occur according to the natural order of material things.

    The astonishing complexity and intricacies of DNA replication, borrowing, stealing, repair, or degeneration are no indication that DNA can create itself into the plan, or blueprint, for a completely new organism.

  58. Evolution, just like entropy is explained in simple terms and is not a difficult concept to understand. Nor is it, holding those two thoughts, difficult to imagine how they might operate to produce what we see in nature since that is the central claim of evolution by natural selection anyway. An individual who can grasp abstract notions, which would include half of the population, at least.

    Mutations are said to be random. ‘They happen at random’!
    This obviously means that the mechanism which brought this about, or the cause is not understood.

    Any thinker knows this. It is not a thing only for special pumice stones to know because they read it In a book or because they have a higher intellect and therefore a larger soul.

    In the case of entropy, it is a thing mentioned several times a week in our house where the physics man of the moment stands on a sand dune talking about it whilst telling people they’re all going to die in so many billions of years.
    Nobody really has anything original to say but each individual has their own scripted verbiage and well worn groves which they will, if given half a chance, force you to fall into. In other words, they want the ordinary counter argument to be the one you are proposing whether that’s true or not!

    People who are fanatics of any theory or religion or political bent will eventually resort to Coercion, by any means which includes but is not limited to: induced tedium, blocking by faking misunderstanding, intimidation, insult (which can be veiled for display of some phoney irony), innuendo to help induce any lie that can be dreamt up no matter how outlandish, all are features of a hunger of spirit. Of a need, a strong urge to soul suck. Whether religious fundamentalist or any other kind of mentalist.

    If the argument is good enough, the idea works, it is based in truth or is truth, it will stick.
    Here’s to waiting…
    _____
    What is also forgotten in many discussions is that humans are part of nature! So when luddites object to genetic engineering they are objecting to microscopes, to scientific methods being used.
    If it could be done with the naked eye they’d be happier. This is romantic and I can’t blame people for that.

    Humans are a special case. You either believe this or you don’t.
    That is the truth. What are you going to do about it?

  59. Argh. Please do some research on the chemistry of water. Water is a fascinating thing. Most chemical compounds are the result of simple chemistry and have simple chemistry. Two things stand out. 1. Carbon and 2. Water. Carbon has the most complex chemistry that I know of. Water has the second most complex chemistry that I know of. That’s followed by silicon, sulfur, oxygen, nitrogen and then the transition metals.

    Bond angles of water. Ordinary water at common conditions has a bond angle of 104.5 degrees with variation. Back in the day, the explanation given that the expected sp3 hybrid molecular orbital should have a bond angle of 120 degrees. Since water does not exhibit this (though methane, for instance, does), the hypothesis was developed that the two ‘lone pairs’ of the central oxygen atom had electrostatic repulsion in addition to the partial permanent dipole from the greater electronegativity of oxygen compared to hydrogen (about 0.5 units where oxygen was about 3 and hydrogen about 2.4). Add to it that you cannot work with lone water molecules but only with 10^22 or more of them, you are always dealing with hydrogen bonding, which in turn affects things. One kilogram of ordinary water is about 55 (gram) moles or 55*Avogadro’s number, which is approximately 6.023 * 10^23. A kilogram of water occupies about one liter of volume or a bit more than an English quart.

    More recently, I’ve seen work showing that the hybrid molecular orbital is not sp3 but more complex and thus the bond angle would not be expected to be 120 degrees in the first place.

  60. I said approximately 120 deg. The figure that I recall from somewhere is 125 deg. though I expect that it is somewhat variable as the molecule is pretty elastic. There is some evidence that the H atoms can be “shaken off” the molecule by a resonant distortion of the molecule by subjecting it to very rapid changes of polarity.

    Re Joy’s habitual relativism: I dispute the idea that facts are not facts if someone doesn’t believe them. I also dispute the idea that because one can’t know everything then one can’t know anything. It’s the old agnostic absurdity: “the only thing you can know is that you can’t know anything” which boils down in practice to: “fashionable opinions are always right because they are convenient”.

  61. Mr. Oldavid, you are making things up again. There is another word for this, since it’s not intended to be humorous.

    It is not the first time, countless, in fact that you assert that I am a believer in moral relativism. Always without much coherence or thought.
    Just a snarl over your shoulder. Almost every time with the word ‘convenient’ slotted in for some reason which escapes me. Yet it seems to imply opportunism? or fitting truth to suit? I don’t care to wonder. I do wonder at your persistent and self professed, prescribed unkindness. Perhaps you are passing buck from somewhere?

    Nowhere did I say anything approaching what you claimed and furthermore have said many times to the contrary so it is you who seems to think that truth is what you say it is based on your warped view.

    It is not enough to have a thought in abstract that has no actual value in reality. Certainly when speaking of people and their world views. It is true that humans are regarded by many humans, whether you like it or not, as just another animal. If this translates to relativism then you have a problem with your logic and are jumping the gun rather in your assuming attitude. You either need to read comments in full or you will keep making this mistake.

    I particularly dislike the habit of some assuming individuals who pretend to read your mind or your next thought. They are, as I said, usually trying to slot you into their own brand of well grooved and worn old argument. An easy thing to do when you’re not face to face. It is the internet equivalent of road rage. To be brave from the other side of the world and play fast and lose with the facts is easy but it doesn’t make the claim or the logic or the reasoning any more true. Therefore it is an irrational way to carry on.

  62. It is not my intention to win some sort of popularity contest.
    In this area of comments on the Briggs Blog my intention is to REFUTE the popular nonsense idea that metaphysics (in this particular instance the metaphysical substance of a soul) can/does create itself by random/chance action of matter.

    Of course, those that have achieved “wise guy” status by parroting the convoluted nonsense will be super indignant by any simple observation that “the King has no clothes”. In true “peer review” form the grubbiness of the urchin or the disagreeableness of my personality defects is all that is needed to restore the King’s wonderful clothes.

  63. @ Oldavid,

    “The snowflake […] is a simple demonstration of entropy, not a refutation of it.”

    My snowflake example was a refutation of your claim that everything always tends towards disorder, but your new claim that (ordered!) snowflakes form *because* of entropy refutes your entire position.

  64. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “I suggested that instead of saying “Shapiro has been criticized,” you might try “Shapiro [and the other researchers he cites] got the following points wrong, because this or that evidence.””

    I gave you a link to one of Jerry Coyne’s posts on this subject and suggested that you find more. Did you? If not, why complain? Also, I find your stance here ironic – at no point do you clearly set out your own position.

    *

    “This insight explains in naturalistic terms why there are gaps in the fossil record, the speed of evolutions, and why we don’t see a continuum of species. It takes the wind out of the sails of the ID crowd.”

    None of the things you mention are problems for evolutionary theory. They’re imaginary problems invented by the ID crowd, like the “problem” of missing stars in Apollo photographs taken on the Moon, raised by Moon landing hoaxers.

    *

    “It was offered up as a counter to your dismissive sneer that Shapiro “has read a book.” Shapiro may be wrong, but he is not stupidly wrong. Thus, it was not an appeal to authority in the first place.”

    I made no “dismissive sneer”; I quoted a comment about Shapiro’s book from one of Jerry Coyne’s commentors. I don’t know enough about this to make informed criticisms, so defer to expert opinion. I wish you would admit as much yourself.

    *

    “He [Jerry Coyne] tends to block people who offer contrarian opinions. If you’re not one of the peanut gallery, you’re not welcome. One time he challenged his readers to show how the Adam/Eve story could be compatible with the “fact” (actually, it’s an inference) that there were at least 10,000 humans. I submitted such an analysis, but not only did he fail to deliver the free copy of his book that he had promised, he denounced the argument as not being a fundamentalist one, and banned me from his site.”

    Fair enough, I can’t expect you to accept my challenge if you’ve been blocked, but I’d love to have a link to the offending comment – I’ve tried, but can’t find it.

    *

    “Magic makes use of hidden properties; science makes use of known properties.”

    Wait, you do know it’s 2017?

    *

    (Studies into the effectiveness of prayer) “I’m saying you cannot design a properly controlled experiment given the assumptions. That is, you cannot say John was being prayed over and Bill was not. Chances are, both were being prayed for;”

    AFAIK, that was controlled for.

    *

    “The No True Scotsman fallacy is a fallacy.”

    Computer says no: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/No_True_Scotsman

    *

    “For further information on the nature of prayers, see here: […]”

    Where can I get less information?

    *

    “Humanism is parasitical on Christianity.”

    No, it isn’t and the article you link to is ridiculous rubbish. Want a non-religious reason not to murder? How about avoiding life imprisonment?

    “Slavery, after having died away in the Middle Ages, was revived during the humanist Renaissance.”

    How does this refute my point that it is condoned in the Bible?

    “Genocides were planned and carried out by secular states.”

    How does this refute my point that it is condoned in the Bible?

    “The “lists” you mention are not random.”

    The 630-odd rules in the Bible only apear to be a random jumble. Got it.

    “Your critique would be much more effective if you knew something beside […]”

    It’s odd that there’s always some crucial point that Christianity has somehow managed not to communicate in nearly 2,000 years.

    *

    That link to your Jerry Coyne (I nearly typed ‘Springer’!) appearance please, please, please.

  65. “Of course, those that have achieved “wise guy” status by parroting the convoluted nonsense will be super indignant by any simple observation that “the King has no clothes”. In true “peer review” form the grubbiness of the urchin or the disagreeableness of my personality defects is all that is needed to restore the King’s wonderful clothes”

    Not that old chestnut or should I say Chesterton again!
    Who’s the King?
    Who’s the wise guy?
    Who is the grubbiest of urchins?
    Who is the king of the castle and who’s the dirty rascal?

    Explain yourself.

  66. The snowflake fallacy.

    That there is order in the Universe is no indication that it can, or does, create itself. Like the order imposed by gravity (water flows downhill, for example,) a snowflake is nothing but a snowflake until it disintegrates. It is the natural result of the structural nature of water. It has no capacity to order itself into anything else any more than a bacteria can order itself into a man or an atom bomb can order itself into an aeroplane.

    Order is exclusively the product of Life, Intellect and Will. Specious twaddle is the hallmark of glib salesmen selling irrational ideology.

  67. at no point do you clearly set out your own position.

    My position is that it is exceedingly unlikely that a mid-Victorian country squire hit upon a theory that got at the heart of nature. It was superceded imho by genetics a while back, though genetics was back-fitted to the theory by might and main; and advances in microbiology since then have opened up a far more supple and explanatory body of theories. There is no need for Malthus: The struggle for existence and the consequent massive die-off of offspring certainly does not apply to sub-cellular structures, and may not be necessary even at the organism level. Efforts by people like Dennett to apply “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” to things like “stellar evolution” and other arenas border on absurdity and run the risk (as I cautioned earlier) of reducing a perfectly good scientific theory to the status of a tautology.

    IOW, while a 19th century theory may still be useful within a particular domain, it is doubtful that it is the whole ball of wax. The hard sciences have gone through a serious revolution from the turn of the last century and, while biology had a late start scientific-method-wise, there is no reason to suppose that it is immune to an expanded understanding.

    I also think that way too many people confuse evolution [a fact] with natural selection [a theory], since they are often observed to shift back and forth between them. And, perhaps as a consequence, seem to believe that the only possible alternative to natural selection is theokinetics.

    None of the things you mention are problems for evolutionary theory.

    Which evolutionary theory? Did you know that you can determine the precession of the nodes of Mercury’s orbit using Galilean mechanics? You don’t need relativity theory. But that does not mean that the Galilean-Newtonian notions of absolute space and absolute time are the best basis for a theory of mechanics. Earlier, all the predictions of the Copernican model of the world were matched by the Tychonic model, so the discovery of the phases of Venus was “not a problem” for geostationary/geocentric theories of the world.

    Orthodox theory is based on the assumptions (and they are assumptions) that mutations are independent of both environmental conditions and of one another, and that these mutations are random and pointwise. Given that, there is no way the universe has existed long enough to ensure a sufficient number of “beneficial” mutations. A theory that allows not only for random, single-point mutations that just happen to increase fitness for a niche, but also admits for massive, targeted genetic changes responsive to epigenetic factors (including the ability of at least some species sometimes to alter their niches to take advantage of a fortuitous alteration) has greater explanatory power. So while the precession of Mercury’s nodes not be a “problem” for the mechanics of Galileo and Newton in the sense that you can shoehorn it in; it is a problem in the sense that there is a more Ockhan-friendly alternative.

    I’d love to have a link to the offending comment – I’ve tried, but can’t find it.

    That is because banning a screen name also removes all pre-existing comments.

    you cannot say John was being prayed over and Bill was not. Chances are, both were being prayed for;”
    AFAIK, that was controlled for.

    Really? How?

    “The No True Scotsman fallacy is a fallacy.”
    Computer says no: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/No_True_Scotsman

    The last time I ran across something from rationalwiki, it was a wildly inaccurate account of the Hypatia lynching.(*) So I would not take it on faith, mein Freund. I would sooner rely on philosophers and logicians than on the “wisdom of crowds.”

    (*)http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-mean-streets-of-old-alexandria-redux.html

    “For further information on the nature of prayers, see here: […]”
    Where can I get less information?

    Probably on rationalwiki. But at some point, less information is equivilant to misinformation, or even disinformation. Lose not sight of the point of discussion: that not all prayer is petition for a miracle; and sometimes the answer to a prayer is “No.”

    “Humanism is parasitical on Christianity.”
    No, it isn’t and the article you link to is ridiculous rubbish. Want a non-religious reason not to murder? How about avoiding life imprisonment?

    On what basis does it merit life imprisonment?

    “Slavery, after having died away in the Middle Ages, was revived during the humanist Renaissance.”
    How does this refute my point that it is condoned in the Bible?

    Where is it condoned (rather than merely recognized as a condition of life)? A rule to free slaves after seven years does not amount to an endorsement of slavery. Also, what sorts of slavery do you mean? Not all slavery was the kind of chattel slavery practiced in Brazil, the Caribbean, and the American South, in which the person was the actual propery of the owner. See Aristotle for details.

    Ditto for your other breathless discoveries in the text, as if the Orthodox and the Catholic churches are assumed to be sola sciptura literalists who got their faith from the Bible. Ask yourself how practitioners have actually used the text, esp. the Jews, who had it originally. AFAIK, it was not until the establishment of big, profitable sugar (tobacco, cotton) plantations that anyone found an endorsement in the Bible. But then people are apt to find approvals of whatever they find profitable, whether Biblical or Darwinian.

    “The “lists” you mention are not random.”
    The 630-odd rules in the Bible only apear to be a random jumble. Got it.

    No, I don’t think you do.

    You might want to discuss these 630-odd rules with Orthodox Jews, since Christians do not take the Mosaic Law as binding; but many of them make perfectly good sense, given the context. There was a reason, for example, why not only the Jews but the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Arabians (among others) abominated the pig and forbade the eating of pork. Herodotus, for example, tells of an Egyptian who threw himself into the cleansing waters of the Nile because the shadow of a pig fell across him. The reason traces back to the laws of thermodynamics and the fact that pigs do not sweat. An enlightening book at the subject is Good to Eat, by Marvin Harris.

    It’s odd that there’s always some crucial point that Christianity has somehow managed not to communicate in nearly 2,000 years.

    A great deal depends on how deeply into one’s ears one has plugged his fingers.

  68. Yet a man from the mists of time who appears to have made statements of the obvious for the most part, answering the questions of a child, is revisited every Sunday in finally carefully chopped pieces, had it all figured out?

    With special meanings for words that split ordinary words from underneath into two and allow for a sublanguage.

    Without so much as a jot of evidence but a lot of fitting the words to meet the required logic after the fact.

    The only part that is interesting or should I say ‘useful’ to the puffed up types, is the part where intellect and will are mentioned because that’s where volition lies and as Dav said months ago,
    Perhaps in meaning something rather more local,

    “Blame and credit”
    It’s all about being puffed up, really. One academic claiming superiority over another.

    That’s not how Thomas intended the text to be used, I am sure.

    Thomas cannot be blamed or given credit for the errors and mistakes of those using his writing and for it’s being used as a stick to beat people with.

    Where it contains wisdom, it is lost and diluted by all the fanaticism. So if you really love TA you do him a disservice. .

    Mark YOS’s attitude towards Charles Darwin.
    He ‘Don’t give him an inch’.
    There is a need to pick and choose which parts of history of science to ignore or magnify.
    Just as I said over a year ago that some even on the right want history rewritten and have been doing so for years to force all roads to Rome. It is no better than the left wing nuts taking down statues. Perhaps it’s worse because those puffed up souls should know better than to be so dishonest intellectually if faith and honour mean anything to them at all.

    Commentary on political, religious, scientific history, it’s al the same and it’s starting to become clear why so many from the US have invaded our history departments, our museums and our TV documentaries. The message is always clear.
    Read YOS’s remark and you get the picture.

    When even the bible is claimed as owned along with the truth you know you’re in a weird environment.

  69. 2 Timothy 3:16
    ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

  70. Mark YOS’s attitude towards Charles Darwin.

    What attitude is that? I give him props for melding Malthus and Blyth and coming up with what seemed to be a reasonable hypothesis, one that he was not too proud to modify as time went on to take account of criticisms. Compare the 6th edition of Origin to the 1st. This was especially remarkable when you consider that the presumed mode of inheritance at the time — a “blending” of “blood” from the two parents — meant that his hypothesis was “falsified” out of the gate. (A “mutation” would be diluted out of the “bloodline” by the mutant mating with its non-mutant conspecifics.) He kept firm to his faith, possibly for non-empirical reasons, and was justified when Mendel was later rediscovered to have shown that inheritance was “digital” rather than “analog.” I suspect that Darwin would have been more fascinated with modern developments than those who have simply been taught his insights in school.

    That his ideas are more unchanging an immortal than those of physicists and chemists of the Victorian Age is a far more difficult hypothesis.

    Just as I said over a year ago that some even on the right want history rewritten and have been doing so for years to force all roads to Rome.

    Some of the most virulent anti-Roman screeds I have encountered have been written by folks who claim to be on the right.

    Read YOS’s remark and you get the picture.

    Elliptical references to things “becoming clear” would themselves become more clear if more specifics were given.

  71. @ Joy
    [quote]When even the bible is claimed as owned along with the truth you know you’re in a weird environment.[/quote]

    “2 Timothy 3:16
    ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

    How do you know that? By what authority do you accept that the Bible “is given by inspiration of God”? You do know, of course, that Christianity was alive and kicking about 400 years before the Bible was assembled and authorised? And that there was at least another 1500 years when the Bible was only a few hand written copies in monasteries and universities, eh?

    In response to another attack on another flank:
    Some years ago (I don’t remember just when, or who the players were) a swaggering Materialist challenged a notable “Bible-believing” creationist to debate the “evolution” paradigm. Protestant Fundamentalist agreed with the proviso “we stick to science and leave “religion” out of it”. Materialist refused the challenge with the conditions.

  72. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “My position is that it is exceedingly unlikely that a mid-Victorian country squire hit upon a theory that got at the heart of nature.”

    Einstein was a patent clerk – so what? Your understanding of natural selection appears to be flawed, partly, I suspect, because of ‘absolutist’ philosophical thinking – it’s not just about ‘malthus’. Your idea that most of Darwin’s ideas have been abandoned is wrong. I quote Jerry Coyne:

    “Here are what I see as The Origin‘s central contentions:

    1. Evolution occurs: that is, populations undergo a change in their genetic constitutions over time.

    2. That change is “gradual” rather than instantaneous: it can be rapid or slow, but substantial change takes hundreds to millions of years.

    3. Species lineages split over time, so that one species can divide (“speciate”) into two or more. This creates the “branching bush” of life starting from a single ancestor.

    4. Because of (3), all species have common ancestry; that is, any pair of species has a common ancestor some time in the past, and more closely related species have more recent common ancestors.

    5. The driving “force” for the evolution of adaptive evolution is natural selection. (It’s not really an externally imposed “force,” but a description of the differential propagation of genes based on their ability to replicate, which is often correlated with how many offspring are produced that contain those genes.) This materialistic process of gene sorting results in the wonderful adaptations we see in plants and animals; divine creation is not needed.

    None of these “central contentions” are “disbelieved by scientists.” They are standing tall and firm after 158 years.”

    *

    “That is because banning a screen name also removes all pre-existing comments.”

    So you have no evidence to support your claim – I no longer accept it.

    *

    The No True Scotsman fallacy is a genuine fallacy according to every source I can find. Also, “your source isn’t the true definition” is itself a No True Scotsman fallacy!

    *

    (Less information[!] on prayer) “Probably on rationalwiki. But at some point, less information is equivilant to misinformation, or even disinformation. Lose not sight of the point of discussion: that not all prayer is petition for a miracle; and sometimes the answer to a prayer is “No.””

    Sometimes I don’t win the lottery.

    *

    “On what basis does it [Murder] merit life imprisonment?”

    The law.

    *

    “Where is it condoned (rather than merely recognized as a condition of life)? A rule to free slaves after seven years does not amount to an endorsement of slavery. Also, what sorts of slavery do you mean? Not all slavery was the kind of chattel slavery practiced in Brazil, the Caribbean, and the American South, in which the person was the actual propery of the owner. See Aristotle for details.”

    This is what religion reduces you to: being an apologist for slavery.

    Exodus 21:20-21 and Exodus 21:26-27 regulates the beating of slaves, and states that the owner may not be punished if the slave survives for at least two days after the beating.

    Exodus 21:28-32 if a man negligently lets his bull gore someone to death, they are to be killed – unless a slave was the victim in which case the owner shall be compensated.

    Leviticus 19:20-22 gives instructions about the sacrifices that should be made if a slave owner has sex with or rapes an engaged female slave. The slave herself is punished with whipping, but no sacrifices or punishment are required if the slave is not engaged.

    Leviticus 25:44-46 the Israelites were allowed to buy slaves from other nations, keep them for an unlimited time and then hand them down as an inheritance since they are property.

    Deuteronomy 20:10–11 If a city surrenders during war, its inhabitants may be enslaved. “This meant slavery in the full force of that word.”

    Deuteronomy 21:10-13 You can force a marriage with a slave woman taken during war time.

    *

    [The 630-odd rules in the Bible only apear to be a random jumble. Got it.] “No, I don’t think you do.”

    Even the Ten Commanments (of which there are several sets) are a mess. ‘Treat others how you would like to be treated’ is far better.

    *

    [Pigs!] “The reason traces back to the laws of thermodynamics and the fact that pigs do not sweat. An enlightening book at the subject is Good to Eat, by Marvin Harris.”

    This is truly bizarre. Thermodynamics and pig sweat?

    *

    “A great deal depends on how deeply into one’s ears one has plugged his fingers.”

    That’s you, that is.

  73. Einstein was a patent clerk – so what?

    Einstein had already graduated Zurich Polytechnic in the math-physics curriculum, but was unable to find a position. In the meantime, a friend’s father secured him a place at the patent office so he would have an income until a position in math or physics would open up.
    Darwin enrolled at Edinburgh to study medicine, but found the lectures boring and the sight of blood repulsed him. Then he went to Cambridge to study for the Anglican clergy. His degree was unspecialized, which at the time most undergraduate degrees were, but in his BA examination he excelled in theology, did okay in Euclid, and did not fail spectacularly in the classics.

    natural selection [is] not just about ‘malthus’.

    Darwin thought so.

    Your idea that most of Darwin’s ideas have been abandoned is wrong.

    I did not say they had been abandoned. Only that new developments in genetics have not been fully incorporated.

    The Origin‘s central contentions:
    1. Evolution occurs: that is, populations undergo a change in their genetic constitutions over time.

    No one says otherwise. That’s why evolutions are facts. Reasons for evolutions were first proposed by Empedoclese in V cent. BC.

    change is “gradual” rather than instantaneous … substantial change takes hundreds to millions of years.

    And yet wall lizards changed from insectivores to herbivores complete with a new disgestive organ within a mere 20 years of being transported from one island to another.

    Species lineages split over time, so that one species can divide (“speciate”) into two or more.

    Not a problem. In fact, Aquinas cited it with approval.

    all species have common ancestry

    Again, not a problem.

    The driving “force” for the evolution of adaptive evolution is natural selection.

    Even Darwin allowed other motors, like sexual selection. But certainly selection by nature [the environment] is reasonably one of them, even though some atheists regard this as “too teleological” and leftists as “too much like free enterprise capitalism.” Blyth’s theory of natural selection, although he did not call it that, was around even before Darwin.

    None of these “central contentions” are “disbelieved by scientists.” They are standing tall and firm after 158 years.”

    Heck, geocentrism was standing tall and firm after a couple thousand years. Longevity is no surety that a better theory might not come along and either supplement or supercede it, as Aquinas noted:
    “The suppositions that these astronomers have invented need not necessarily be true; for perhaps the phenomena of the stars are explicable on some other plan not yet discovered by men.” — De coelo, II, lect. 17

    “That is because banning a screen name also removes all pre-existing comments.”
    So you have no evidence to support your claim – I no longer accept it.

    Which makes the tactic all the more effective.

    The No True Scotsman fallacy is a genuine fallacy according to every source I can find.

    A: All fish breath through gills.
    B: But whales are fish and they do not breathe through gills.
    A: Aha! The No True Fish fallacy!
    ***
    A: Cats do not give birth to dogs!
    B: But that’s not what evolution means!
    A: Aha! The No True Evolution fallacy!

    “On what basis does it [Murder] merit life imprisonment?”
    The law.

    And on what basis is murder against the law?

    This is what religion reduces you to: being an apologist for slavery.

    This is what irreligion reduces you to: making things up and putting them into your interlocutor’s mouth.

    [A list of fundamentalist proof texts.]

    It’s unclear which of them are supposed to condone slavery and which are simply regulations of an existing civil institution. Attention is drawn to:
    Deuteronomy 20:10–11 If a city surrenders during war, its inhabitants may be enslaved. “This meant slavery in the full force of that word.”
    Not sure what the quote marks signify. Is “full force of the word” the No True Slavery fallacy?
    However, enslaving the defeated enemy is certainly preferable to annihilating them; cf. in Thucydides, the fate of the Athenian expeditionary force after their defeat by Syracuse: “Having done all that men could do, they suffered what all men must.”

    It’s unclear to me whether you believe Jews understood their scriptures in that manner. Christians did not, since they specifically abrogated most of these regulations and rules of engagement at the Council of Jerusalem.

    [Pigs!] “The reason traces back to the laws of thermodynamics and the fact that pigs do not sweat. An enlightening book at the subject is Good to Eat, by Marvin Harris.”
    This is truly bizarre. Thermodynamics and pig sweat?

    a) Note that every people in the semi-arid Middle East, from Egypt to Babylon, forbade the flesh of pigs. The reason must lie in a common cause, not in anything specific to any one of them. (Note that in forested areas, like the Gadarene region, pigs were in fact kept.)
    b) Pig bones are found in Neolithic sites, but disappear from more recent strata, as the Middle East dried out.
    c) The region is hot and dry for the most part.
    d) Animals need to keep cool.
    e) Most animals keep cool by sweating.
    f) Pigs have very few sweat glands.
    e) To keep cool, pigs wallow in water-holes, turning them to a muddy, foul mess.
    f) These water-holes are called “oases.”
    g) Human beings use the oases for drinking water and other needs.
    h) No one but an idiot would let pigs wallow in his drinking water.
    i) Other than its delicious flesh, the pig has few human uses: You cannot ride it, milk it, hitch it to a plow or wagon. It competes with humans for the same foods.
    j) The tasty flesh of pigs tempts folks to keep and raise them, to the peril of the water supply.
    k) Ergo: Down with pigs!
    So the Jews did not derogate the pig because their scriptures told then to. Their scriptures banned the pig because they could not afford to keep them despite their tempting pork chops and crackling.

    Harris also addresses this point in Cultural Materialism and the earlier Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches.

  74. If there are any long-sufferingly brave or masochistic souls of even moderate integrity who have followed this far will have noticed that:

    1) Even though it can be conclusively shown that according to well known, easily demonstrable, natural laws that govern the operations of Nature and some very pragmatic observations available to everyone the “Origin of Species” is scientifically impossible by the commonly touted “Evolution” paradigm, the zealots who propose the ideology with a fanatical “religious” fervor typical of irrational cults simply refuse to consider any evidence that is inconvenient to the ideology as “ipso facto” false or, at least, irrelevant. On the other hand, any speculation, no matter how scientifically unjustifiable, is “ipso facto” relevant and “true” if it supports the ideology.

    2) Even though it can be conclusively shown that, according to the laws of logic and philosophical (scientific) method, the “Evolution” paradigm is impossible the frantic zealots simply ignore or “redefine” such principles of valid Reason to maintain the cult belief. Specious twaddle is the smokescreen in which to hide the irrational belief.

    The bald fact is that the normal operations of the material Universe cannot create life, intellect and will no matter how long you wait and no matter how frantically you dictate, or assume, otherwise.

  75. @ Oldavid,

    “the “Origin of Species” is scientifically impossible”

    Why?

    “the zealots who propose the ideology with a fanatical “religious” fervor typical of irrational cults”

    Darwin was a Christian!

    Your comment gets a rating of 10 on my newly-devised ‘Rant-o-Meter’ scale. It’s lterally 100 % rant, 0 % fact.

  76. While the admission of a design for the universe ultimately raises the question of a Designer (a subject outside of science), the scientific method does not allow us to exclude data which lead to the conclusion that the universe, life and man are based on design. To be forced to believe only one conclusion—that everything in the universe happened by chance—would violate the very objectivity of science itself.
    — Wernher von Braun, rocket pioneer, 1972.

  77. @ Oldavid,

    [von Braun quote]

    Science isn’t “forcing” anyone to believe anything. There simply isn’t any objective evidence for design (or a designer). If von Braun knew of some, he should have mentioned what it was – it’s not rocket science. 😛

  78. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “Darwin enrolled at Edinburgh to study medicine, but found the lectures boring and the sight of blood repulsed him. […]”

    Jesus trained as a carpenter but found putting up shelves boring.

    *

    Darwin thought [natural selection is just about ‘malthus’].”

    No, he didn’t.

    *

    “[…] new developments in genetics have not been fully incorporated.”

    New developments are incorporated into science if the evidence supports them. Epigenetics (if that’s what you’re on about?) doesn’t significantly challenge natural selection as epigenetic changes are only transmitted through a few generations. I note also that creationists often criticise evolution *because* the theory has incorporated new ideas. Also, the proper place for any debate about new developments is in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, not in a book. Or here.

    *

    Now to Jerry Coyne’s list of Darwin’s central ideas from OoS.

    1. “No one says otherwise.”

    Young Earth Creationists do, so millions of Americans and possibly billions wordwide, thanks mainly to religion, but not helped by people like you spreading disinformation.

    2. “And yet wall lizards changed from insectivores to herbivores complete with a new disgestive organ within a mere 20 years of being transported from one island to another.”

    Back to the “it happens too fast” trope. Evolution can move more rapidly in small isolated populations, such as those on islands, and obviously in smaller creatures which reproduce more rapidly. It’s also likely that the genetic information for both ‘herbivore’ and ‘carnivore’ have evolved already and are just switched on or off in response to environmental change. Also, if I cited this as an example of “major change”, you’d probably claim it was only a minor (microevolution?) change.

    3. [one species can divide (“speciate”) into two or more] “Not a problem. In fact, Aquinas cited it with approval.”

    Fine, but Aquinas’s opinion is irrelevant as he appears to have made correct statements less often than you’d expect by chance alone.

    4. Again, [common ancestry] not a problem.

    Fine.

    5. “Even Darwin allowed other motors, like sexual selection. But certainly selection by nature [the environment] is reasonably one of them […]”

    Sexual selection is a type of natural selection, or are you saying that sex is unnatural? Nice that you finally (albeit grudgingly) agree that natural selection is a thing though. Of these central Darwinian ideas, you seem to agree with all of them, but complain evolution happens too fast and/or (in a previous comment) too slowly.

    “Heck, geocentrism was standing tall and firm after a couple thousand years.”

    A misleading analogy as scientific knowledge has advanced far more in the last 158 years than the previous 2,000.

    *

    To dispute the No True Scotsman, you provide examples of the NTS. maybe it would be easier for you to edit RationalWiki instead?

    *

    “And on what basis is murder against the law?”

    Because almost everyone agrees that it is wrong. (Next, you’ll say “on what basis do people know it is wrong?”, so to save time, we know it’s wrong because our instinct to preserve our own lives is our strongest instinct and because we grieve. No holy books needed.)

    *

    [List of Bible quotations condoning slavery] “It’s unclear which of them are supposed to condone slavery and which are simply regulations of an existing civil institution.”

    If something is being regulated, then it is being condoned when carried out in accordance with the regulations, by definition.

    Funny how all the hundreds of examples of appalling cruelty, torture, slavery, murder, genocide and rape in the Bible are all “unclear”, but the few nice bits are all to be taken literally, even though we don’t even have any credible non-Biblical evidence that Jesus even existed.

    “It’s unclear to me whether you believe Jews understood their scriptures in that manner. Christians did not, since they specifically abrogated most of these regulations and rules of engagement at the Council of Jerusalem.”

    So is the Bible the Word of God or not?

  79. “Darwin enrolled at Edinburgh to study medicine, but found the lectures boring and the sight of blood repulsed him. […]”
    Jesus trained as a carpenter but found putting up shelves boring.

    There is no evidence for the latter. For the former, we have Darwin’s own testimony and that of his family and friends. The main point is that calling Einstein a “patent clerk” does not mean that he was not already recognized as a brilliant physicist. Calling Darwin a country squire recognizes both that his main passions were riding, shooting, and other pursuits of the gentry, but also that in his day there was no university major in biology. Naturalists (as they were then called) were basically self-taught amateurs or had, like Darwin, held extensive discussions with already well-known naturalists. He also had an extensive beetle collection, meticulously described.

    Darwin thought [natural selection is just about ‘malthus’].”
    No, he didn’t.

    Let’s ask Darwin, shall we?

    “In October 1838, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic inquiry, I happened to read for amusement Malthus on Population, and being prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on, from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The result would be the formation of a new species.” — Darwin, Autobiography

    “…I saw, on reading Malthus on Population, that natural selection was the inevitable result of the rapid increase of all organic beings…” — Darwin, “The Variations Of Animals and Plants under Domestication”

    “Civilised populations have been known under favourable conditions, as in the United States, to double their numbers in twenty-five years; and, according to a calculation, by Euler, this might occur in a little over twelve years. (57. See the ever memorable ‘Essay on the Principle of Population,’ by the Rev. T. Malthus, vol. i. 1826. pp. 6, 517.)” — Darwin, Descent of Man

    “With savages the difficulty of obtaining subsistence occasionally limits their number in a much more direct manner than with civilised people, for all tribes periodically suffer from severe famines. At such times savages are forced to devour much bad food, and their health can hardly fail to be injured… They are then, also, compelled to wander much, and, as I was assured in Australia, their infants perish in large numbers… Savages, when hard pressed, encroach on each other’s territories, and war is the result; but they are indeed almost always at war with their neighbours. They are liable to many accidents on land and water in their search for food; and in some countries they suffer much from the larger beasts of prey. Even in India, districts have been depopulated by the ravages of tigers.” — Darwin, Descent of Man, listing the various checks on population given by Malthus.

    “Malthus has discussed these several checks, but he does not lay stress enough on what is probably the most important of all, namely infanticide, especially of female infants, and the habit of procuring abortion.” — Darwin, Descent of Man

    “In the next chapter the Struggle for Existence amongst all organic beings throughout the world, which inevitably follows from their high geometrical powers of increase, will be treated of. This is the doctrine of Malthus, applied to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms. As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.” — Darwin, Origin of Species, p. 67

    “You are right, that I came to the conclusion that selection was the principle of change from the study of domesticated productions; and then, reading Malthus, I saw at once how to apply this principle.” — Darwin, Letter 71, to A.R. Wallace, 6th April, 1859

    He also accused those who pooh-poohed Malthus as being deficient in common reason.

    “The article is a curiosity of unfairness and arrogance; but, as he [Haughton] sneers at Malthus, I am content, for it is clear he cannot reason.” — Darwin, “Letter 104, to Asa Gray, 8 June 1860

    etc., etc. In several of his letters he compares what he calls “unfair” misunderstandings of his theory to the criticisms of Malthus and says that anyone who misunderstands or criticizes Malthus is “deficient in reasoning.”

    There were of course other influences:

    “…if an organised body is not in the situation and circumstances best adapted to its sustenance and propagation, then, in conceiving an indefinite variety among the individuals of that species, we must be assured, that, on the one hand, those which depart most from the best adapted constitution, will be the most liable to perish, while, on the other hand, those organised bodies, which most approach to the best constitution for the present circumstances, will be best adapted to continue, in preserving themselves and multiplying the individuals of their race.” — James Hutton, Investigation of the Principles of Knowledge Volume 2, 1794

    and later:

    “… as man, by removing species from the appropriate haunts, superinduces changes on their physical constitution and adaptations, to what extent may not the same take place in wild nature, so that, in a few generations, distinctive characters may be acquired, such as are recognized as indicative of specific diversity … May not, then, a large proportion of what are considered species have descended from a common parentage?” — Edward Blyth, Magazine of Natural History, Volume 1, 1837

    Until Wallace and Darwin read their joint paper in 1858, twenty-one years later.

  80. So, Darwin was wrong on just about everything… speculative ontology as well as the most rudimentary method of science. And yet “Evolution” is still proclaimed to be: “the general condition to which all theories, all hypothesis, all systems should kneel; a condition to which they must refer to, from now on, in order for them to be taken in account and to be right”.(TEILHARD de CHARDIN, The human phenomenon, p. 245).

    Which is a sophist’s way of saying if it agrees with the “Evolution” paradigm it is “true” and if it disagrees it is “false”… or, effectively, “science” is anything that agrees with the ideology!!

    # noisyfish
    [von Braun quote]
    Science isn’t “forcing” anyone to believe anything. There simply isn’t any objective evidence for design (or a designer). If von Braun knew of some, he should have mentioned what it was – it’s not rocket science. ?””
    If you had even moderate skills in reading and comprehension you would realise that Von Broun was not offering any apologetics for anything. He was simply stating that to arbitrarily proscribe a possibility is inimical to the very essence of science.

    I suppose that noisyfish is achieving his objective by just making any rational discussion impossible.

  81. @ Oldavid,

    “He [von Braun] was simply stating that to arbitrarily proscribe a possibility is inimical to the very essence of science.”

    As I’ve already said, science isn’t doing that, it’s just following the evidence. There are multiple lines of evidence for evolution but no evidence at all for design. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for evidence from people who are disputing well-established scientific theories.

    Also, do you realise that lots of Christians (including the Catholic Church?) accept evolution and lots of Atheists don’t accept it?

  82. New developments are incorporated into science if the evidence supports them.

    That’s the storybook version, anyway. Sometimes, as Max Planck noted, you just have to wait for the old scientists to die.
    “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” — Max Planck

    I note also that creationists often criticise evolution *because* the theory has incorporated new ideas.

    That’s their problem. They do not know what creation is, so they confuse it with material transformations.

    Also, the proper place for any debate about new developments is in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, not in a book. Or here.

    Ah, the Shut Up argument.
    But Darwin published his theory in a book, not in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Newton also, we might add. And even Einstein’s seminal papers were published by the journal’s editor without sending them out for peer-review. There is nothing about peer-reviewed journals to signify anything but enforcement of orthodoxy. In fact, scientists have lately taken to posting their papers on line in ArXiv (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArXiv), bypassing the journals. The proof of the paper is in the reading; i.e., in the number of citations, rather than in prior restraint.

    Young Earth Creationists blah-blah-blah.

    So tell them about it, not me. Tell them to read the poem correctly.

    not helped by people like you spreading disinformation.

    Ah, the obligatory personal attack. How scientific.

    (cf. wall lizards) Evolution can move more rapidly in small isolated populations, such as those on islands, and obviously in smaller creatures which reproduce more rapidly.

    Sure and it’s a wonderful theory that can accommodate any facts and never be falsified. So when Darwinians tell us that evolution proceeds only in small incremental and fortuitous mutations over the course of millions of years, they need to add, “except when it doesn’t.” Of course, that “small, isolated population” trope and the consequent rapidity of an evolution (20 years?) was Eldrege and Gould’s theory of punctuated equilibrium, which was heartily resisted and denounced by the orthodoxy because it gave aid and comfort to the “creationists.” Now it is a bulwark of orthodoxy.

    It’s also likely that the genetic information for both ‘herbivore’ and ‘carnivore’ have evolved already and are just switched on or off in response to environmental change.

    So now we are citing Aristotelian concepts of potency and act? I thought you didn’t buy into that.
    Of course, if a collective moves from A to B, then A must possessed the potential to be a B; and something must have moved it.
    There is simply no room at the inn for genes to contain all the detailed blueprints. Information theory and mathematical “chaos” theory: there is only so much room on the substrate for the information to be actualized. Instead, what probably goes on is that the genetics provide “rules for assembly,” like the “flocking” rules for birds. As someone once wrote, perhaps what is selected for is simply the ability to adapt. See Barnsely’s fern for an example: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/BarnsleysFern.html The functions have the remarkable property that even if you enter random numbers for the starting point, recursive iteration will produce the same fern every time. So all the genetics has to do is code for the function set, not the actual shape of the fern itself.

    if I cited this as an example of “major change”, you’d probably claim it was only a minor (microevolution?) change.

    I don’t know what that means, except maybe the magnitude of the change.

    Aquinas’s opinion is irrelevant as he appears to have made correct statements less often than you’d expect by chance alone.

    Really? How was this calculated? What was the prior model? Or are you just using mathematical language to garb your opinion in pseudo-scientific words.

    Sexual selection is a type of natural selection, or are you saying that sex is unnatural?

    Darwin did not so regard it. But it shows that you are using “natural” in a different sense than Darwin and the other pioneers. It does not mean “selection that occurs without divine intervention” but that “the struggle for existence” in the face of exponential population growth and limited food resources will cull the less fit, leaving the better fit in possession. That’s why Darwin resisted the term “natural selection” for so long before throwing in the towel. (He almost never used the term “evolution,” because of its association with the Terror.) His preferred term in the Origin was “descent with modification.”
    It is the sloppy use of terminology like “natural” that threatens to reduce a precise scientific theory to a vague metaphor. If all you mean by “natural” is that the selection does not demand divine intervention, then you have turned “natural selection” into a tautology.

    Also, sex is unnatural with respect to fungi, many plants, and a host of unicellular organisms.

    Nice that you finally (albeit grudgingly) agree that natural selection is a thing though.

    Technically, it is not a “thing” but rather a “doing.” But I have never denied that the lesser fit are more likely to die under natural conditions. It’s quite obviously true. What I wonder about is the doctrine that millions of years are required and something called a “random” mutation, in the face of the fossil record and observed evolutions. Mutations that do not kill the organism are surpassingly rare, and intracellular mechanisms that repair such damage make them still more rare. In the fossil record, species maintain their forms for ages. New species appear in the blink of a geological eye. So a theory that takes the “quantum leaps” of evolutions seriously and does not sweep them under the rug with vague allusions to “missing links,” seems a better fit to the data. It wipes out a host of creationist objections. There is no god-of-the-gaps because there are no gaps. There has been plenty of time for evolutions to have produced the present array of species because mutations are not random and are not baby steps. There is no “mousetrap” problem because a complex assembly does not evolve piece by piece, but holisitcally.

    “Heck, geocentrism was standing tall and firm after a couple thousand years.”
    A misleading analogy as scientific knowledge has advanced far more in the last 158 years than the previous 2,000.

    Certainly, there have been big changes in gravitational theory and in electromagnetism, particle theory, chemistry in the past 158 years. But we’re still defending a 19th century vision of evolution driven by population pressure on resources.

    To dispute the No True Scotsman, you provide examples of the NTS.

    A: All fish breath through gills.
    B: But whales are fish and they do not breath through gills.
    A: Whales are not true fish.
    B: Aha! The No True Fish fallacy.
    This simply demonstates the foolishness of invocations of the Scotsman represent. Especially when invoked by people who seem unaware of the difference between a formal fallacy, a material fallacy, and a true argument.

  83. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    [Planck quote]

    Yes, we’ve all heard that one. So what? Evolution has accepted new evidence and ideas numerous times so this is inapplicable.

    *

    “That’s their [creationists] problem. They do not know what creation is, so they confuse it with material transformations.”

    I’m not sure why this is relevant, but why is a god creating the universe via the big bang different to ‘him’ creating it fully-furnished, so-to-speak? Both are the same from my atheist perspective – lacking any supporting evidence.

    *

    “Ah, the Shut Up argument.”

    You should take heed of it.

    *

    “But Darwin published his theory in a book, not in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.”

    But, but, but. Obviously irrelevant, as there was no peer-review system at the time.

    “There is nothing about peer-reviewed journals to signify anything but enforcement of orthodoxy.”

    This from a Catholic? The irony, it burns!

    *

    “So tell them [young Earth creationists] about it, not me.”

    You say the same things they do and use the same arguments, just in a (sometimes) slightly more sophisticated form. For example, replace the often-repeated “It’s just a theory!” with your “Evolution is a fact, natural selection a theory”. It’s just the same old rubbish.

    *

    “Ah, the obligatory personal attack. How scientific.”

    Haha, if you think that’s a personal attack, you should see the parts of these replies I deleted before posting! Also, you DO spread misinformation, and I’m not a scientist.

    *

    “Sure and it’s a wonderful theory that can accommodate any facts and never be falsified.”

    ID/creationism #351 “not falsifiable = not science”.

    *

    “So now we are citing Aristotelian concepts of potency and act?”

    No, this is 2017.

    *

    “There is simply no room at the inn for genes to contain all the detailed blueprints.”

    ID/creationism #352 “not enough room in DNA” Do you have peer-reviewed sources for this assertion?

    “See Barnsely’s fern for an example: [link] The functions have the remarkable property that even if you enter random numbers for the starting point, recursive iteration will produce the same fern every time. So all the genetics has to do is code for the function set, not the actual shape of the fern itself.”

    I’m well aware of this sort of stuff. The fact that a recursive formula can produce a shape like a fern doesn’t mean that an actual fern uses a recursive formula to arrive at the same result, but it wouldn’t disprove evolution if it did.

    *

    “Or are you just using mathematical language to garb your opinion [of Aquinas] in pseudo-scientific words.”

    No, I’m being sarcastic. As far as I can tell from reading it on this blog, “SCG” has almost nothing to do with reality at all.

    *

    “But it shows that you are using “natural” in a different sense than Darwin and the other pioneers. […] It is the sloppy use of terminology like “natural” that threatens to reduce a precise scientific theory to a vague metaphor.”

    I’m not sure about that. The “divine” isn’t a thing to me so I didn’t contrast “natural” with “divine”. These sorts of arguments over terminology are irrelevant anyway. Natural selection is part of the name for a theory which includes a series of distinct but linked processes, which include population pressure and sexual selection. You are the one who’s always bringing up irrelevant distinctions-without-a-difference, like what name to call something by. Call it whatever you want.

    *

    “Mutations that do not kill the organism are surpassingly rare, and intracellular mechanisms that repair such damage make them still more rare.”

    I thought you were arguing that mutations are non-random and directed by something called “natural genetic engineering” – how can that be if they’re mostly harmful? If your assertion about mutations were true, most organisms couldn’t live, and there are many mutations which occur in human beings which do not affect reproduction, even including “harmful” ones. Also, whether a mutation is harmful or not depends on circumstances, and it could be both harmful and beneficial at the same time, like Sickle-Cell Anemia. Also, ID/creationism #353, “most mutations are harmful”.

    “New species appear in the blink of a geological eye.”

    Which is probably still millions of years – the Earth is more than 6,000 years old, you know. Also, ID/creationism #355, “it happened too fast”.

    “So a theory that takes the “quantum leaps” of evolutions seriously and does not sweep them under the rug with vague allusions to “missing links,” seems a better fit to the data.”

    You’re completely ignoring the effect of environmental changes as a main driver of evolution. Also missing links jibe is ID/creationism #356 and what is “vague” about the idea – it is crystal clear.

    “It wipes out a host of creationist objections.”

    There are no valid creationist objections to be wiped out.

    “There is no god-of-the-gaps because there are no gaps.”

    Correct, there are no gaps. Also no god.

    “mutations are not random and are not baby steps.”

    So, as I asked earlier, how can most of them be harmful? Also, read some proper research. This stuff is known about and studiied in detail down to the molecular level.

    “There is no “mousetrap” problem because a complex assembly does not evolve piece by piece, but holisitcally.”

    ID/creationism #357, “irreducible complexity”. Absolute total rubbish. There is no moustrap problem full stop. How would all the parts of a human eye “holistically” appear togather? Also, wouldn’t the eye be useless without the rest of the body and brain? Did the entire human body get “naturally genetic engineered” in one step?

    “But we’re still defending a 19th century vision of evolution driven by population pressure on resources.”

    The main objection to evolution is ideological and stems from religion, not any actual problem with the theory, as anyone can discern by reading your comments on here, for example.

    *

    [No True Scotsman] can be invoked incorrectly, that’s not what I did. I’m willing to agree that the invocation of fallacies in online arguments is largely counter-productive as almost any argument falls foul of one or another of them.

    *

    “Certainly, there have been big changes in gravitational theory and in electromagnetism, particle theory, chemistry in the past 158 years.”

    You missed a few out:

    Germ theory, the Greenhouse Effect, Theory of electromagnetism, Mendel’s laws of inheritance, Definition of Entropy, the Periodic table, Rayleigh scattering, the van der Waals force, thermionic emission, photoconductivity, the Crookes tube, the phase rule, Statistical definition of entropy, Piezoelectricity, the laws of chemical dynamics, lack of evidence for the aether, liquid crystals, the first virus, x-rays, radioactivity, the basic principles of the greenhouse effect, the electron, the Plum pudding model of an atom, the term “radioactivity”, Planck’s law of black body radiation, stellar classification, theory of special relativity, explanation of Brownian motion, and photoelectric effect, Third law of thermodynamics, Arsphenamine, the first modern chemotherapeutic agent, Haber Process, the charge on an electron, the first white dwarf star, the Atomic nucleus, Superconductivity, Continental drift, x-ray diffraction, galactic redshifts, Cepheid variables, atomic number, Model of the atom, general relativity, black holes, Noether’s theorem, Stellar nucleosynthesis, insulin, Pauli exclusion principle, the Milky Way is just one of many galaxies, Schrödinger equation, the composition of the Sun, Uncertainty principle, the Big Bang, Dirac equation, the expanding universe, Penicillin, fourth law of thermodynamics, the Chandrasekhar limit, the neutron, Sagittarius A, Calorie restriction extends the maximum lifespan of another species, Nuclear fission, Nuclear magnetic resonance, DNA, Mass production of penicillin, the transistor, Information theory, Quantum electrodynamics, polio vaccine, proteins are sequences of amino acids, helical structure of DNA, the first cosmic x-ray source, Scorpius X-1, evidence of plate tectonics, quarks, detection of CMBR, the Hayflick limit, the first pulsar, the first gamma-ray burst, Place cells, gravitational wave radiation in the Hulse–Taylor binary, the first DNA sequencing, the first millisecond pulsar, the polymerase chain reaction, High-temperature superconductivity, the first pulsar planets, Andrew Wiles proves Fermat’s Last Theorem, the first extrasolar planet around a main sequence star, the first Bose-Einstein Condensate, Dolly the sheep was cloned, the Top quark, discovery of the accelerated expansion of the Universe / Dark Energy, the Tau neutrino, the first draft of the Human Genome Project, proof of the Poincaré Conjecture, Grid cells in the brain, the first induced pluripotent stem cells, first fast radio burst, the first synthetic genome, Neanderthal admixture is present in modern populations, Higgs boson, Photonic molecules, Exotic hadrons, Traces of liquid water discovered on Mars, gravitational waves, An Earth-like planet located just 21 Light-year away, that may host liquid water on its surface.

    *

    Finally, it’s good to see you’ve dropped your defence of Slavery in the Bible. Baby steps.

  84. [creationists] do not know what creation is, so they confuse it with material transformations.
    I’m not sure why this is relevant

    Because you keep throwing creationist arguments into the mix — as was done against Eldrege and Gould.

    “There is nothing about peer-reviewed journals to signify anything but enforcement of orthodoxy.”
    This from a Catholic? The irony, it burns!

    Irony, schmirony. Who do you think invented peer-review? It was a medieval process to ensure orthodoxy in the wrirings of priests, monks, and others preparing theological treatises. William of Ockham resented it so much that he dropped out of school and never received a doctorate. Like natural selection, it does weed out gross errors. But it is not a system that promotes evolution of ideas.

    You say the same things [young Earth creationists] do and use the same arguments, just in a (sometimes) slightly more sophisticated form.

    And this makes them wrong, how? The same accusations were laid against Eldrege and Gould. It’s a form of the genetic fallacy much like Bulverism. Consider how “Hitler was a vegetarian” addresses arguments in favor of vegitarianism; i.e., not at all. Punctuated equilibrium was either correct or incorrect on its own merits, not because it gave aid and comfort to creationists.

    For example, replace the often-repeated “It’s just a theory!” with your “Evolution is a fact, natural selection a theory”. It’s just the same old rubbish.

    Not the same, because the positivist distinction between facts and theories is the heart and soul of the scientific method. It’s just a matter of properly identifying which is which. Besides, a theory is never “just a theory.” In Science, a theory is not a wild-assed guess, but a carefully thought out narrative in terms of which the facts and laws “make sense.” The whole point of natural science is to develop theories to explain the facts. (Or a propter quid to explain the quia.) See Galileo’s discussion of what he called “the demonstrative regress” for further information.

    Feynman points out that a physicist always has more than one theory in mind, each of them predicting the same body of facts, but differing in their ability to inspire new ideas. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUJfjRoxCbk) Apparently, biologists aren’t quite up to the physicists.

    “Sure and it’s a wonderful theory that can accommodate any facts and never be falsified.”
    ID/creationism #351 “not falsifiable = not science”.

    It was Popper who equated “not falsifiable” with “not scientific.”
    “Neither Darwin nor any Darwinist has yet provided an adequate causal explanation, that is, a scientific explanation of the adaptive evolution of a single organism or organ. They have only shown that evolution is theoretically possible.”
    — Karl Popper, “Objective Knowledge: an Evolutionary Approach”

    For this heresy, Popper was severely criticized and (of course) compared to creationists. The shaming was effective and he later recanted.

    However, when challenged to give an example of something that would falsify natural selection, one usually gets a response like “a pre-Cambrian rabbit.” That is, an example that is so outre it reveals the speaker’s belief that it cannot really be falsified.

    It is way too easy to spin “an adaptationist just-so story” to account for any extant feature or attribute of an organism — without the need that hard scientists have to actually provide confirmatory data that the story is not merely plausible but factual. Gould used to complain about this. Orr, too, IIRC.

    “So now we are citing Aristotelian concepts of potency and act?”
    No, this is 2017.

    And yet, you wrote earlier that

    It’s also likely that the genetic information for both ‘herbivore’ and ‘carnivore’ have evolved already and are just switched on or off in response to environmental change.

    And what is this statement but a call upon the potency of the organism to be one or the other, with the actualization to one of them effected by the environment?

    “There is simply no room at the inn for genes to contain all the detailed blueprints.”
    ID/creationism #352 “not enough room in DNA”

    More like “information theory,” where I ran across it in pre-Internet days. See also mathematical complexity theory.

    The fact that a recursive formula can produce a shape like a fern doesn’t mean that an actual fern uses a recursive formula to arrive at the same result, but it wouldn’t disprove evolution if it did.

    Why is it that you denounce every tidbit that makes evolution more explicable as trying to “disprove” evolution? Why would you expect information theory to disprove “evolution.” (Although, as repeatedly mentioned, evolutions are the explanandum, not the explanation.)

    Natural selection is part of the name for a theory which includes a series of distinct but linked processes, which include population pressure and sexual selection.

    That’s how you debase the theory into a tautology. Darwin regarded sexual selection as a distinct causal mechanism from natural selection. Slovenly usage by Late Moderns merely muddies the waters. The whole point of the discussion is that there may be (and certainly are) more than one way for an evolution to proceed. What reason do you have for rejecting the theory of natural genetic engineering? In your terms, it could very well be one of these “distinct processes.”

    “Mutations that do not kill the organism are surpassingly rare, and intracellular mechanisms that repair such damage make them still more rare.”
    ID/creationism #353, “most mutations are harmful”. I thought you were arguing that mutations are non-random and directed by something called “natural genetic engineering” – how can that be if they’re mostly harmful?

    Take a sentence; then randomly change one letter. The alteration is far more likely to produce an unintelligible sentence than a different intelligible sentence. The deleterious effects of “random mutation” due to copying errors or damage of various sorts is well known.

    there are many mutations which occur in human beings which do not affect reproduction, even including “harmful” ones.

    Exactly. Hence, phenotype changes cannot plausibly be due to small, random mutations.

    Don’t forget the doctrine of random mutations was developed from physics-envy. The sexy research topic at the time was thermodynamics, which used random variation for the motions of gas particles and the like. This was a deliberate a priori choice, not a conclusion from the data. No one realized at the time that biological organisms were not the same kind of thing as volumes of gas. See Hayek’s Nobel laureate speech, “The Pretence of Knowledge.”

    whether a mutation is harmful or not depends on circumstances

    Exactly, but I thought you didn’t believe in final causes.

    “So a theory that takes the “quantum leaps” of evolutions seriously and does not sweep them under the rug with vague allusions to “missing links,” seems a better fit to the data.”
    You’re completely ignoring the effect of environmental changes as a main driver of evolution. Also missing links jibe is ID/creationism #356 and what is “vague” about the idea – it is crystal clear.

    Actually, I do consider epigenetic factors as playing a major role. It’s behind a lot of Shapiro’s writings.
    You miss the point about Darwin’s “missing link” problem. Darwin knew the links were missing but predicted that future fossils would find them. A theory of punctuated equilibrium such as is implicit in Shapiro’s genetics, simply eliminates the gaps entirely. So there is no need to “fill them in.”

    “It wipes out a host of creationist objections.”
    There are no valid creationist objections to be wiped out.

    Oh, some of them are valid. Biologists ask the same questions. Creationists sometimes pick them up and misunderstand them. Apparently, so do some fanboys. If only they weren’t adopted by creationists, biology would be free to act more like a science; i.e., question established theory, consider alternatives, and so on.
    But valid or not, they might persuade; so better they be eliminated.

    So, as I asked earlier, how can most [mutations] be harmful?

    Because the cellular mechanisms that repair and replace mitigate the harm.

    “There is no “mousetrap” problem because a complex assembly does not evolve piece by piece, but holisitcally.”
    ID/creationism #357, “irreducible complexity”.

    Only an atheist, terrified that if Darwinian theory fell only a theokinetic God could replace it, could take a theory that eliminates the possibility of “irreducible complexity” to be an irreducible complexity argument. Dude, take a breath. If Darwin had to be replaced, it would be replaced by another natural theory, not by God.

    The main objection to evolution is ideological and stems from religion, not any actual problem with the theory

    Who is objecting to evolution?

    “Certainly, there have been big changes in gravitational theory and in electromagnetism, particle theory, chemistry in the past 158 years.”
    You missed a few out: Germ theory, the Greenhouse Effect, …

    I wasn’t trying to list every scientific discovery. I mentioned a few revolutionary upheavals in the paradigms. The transformation to the New Physics was revolutionary. Milikin’s oil-drop experiment was simply a measurement made within the paradigm. Not even suited up in the same game.

    http://tofspot.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/post-darwinian-evolution.html

  85. Very late to this thread, but just to offer up grateful thanks to YoS for his detailed and erudite contributions, which go a long way towards helping me better understand those areas of evolutionary theory that are more – or less – contentious both scientifically and ideologically. And to the other contributors who have presented positions that I might also not otherwise have considered.

  86. @ Jonathan S,

    “just to offer up grateful thanks to YoS for his detailed and erudite contributions, which go a long way towards helping me better understand those areas of evolutionary theory”

    You’ve allowed yourself to be misled. YOS isn’t an evolutionary biologist, has no expertise in the field, and appears to base his myriad criticisms not on peer-reviewed research but on a few contarian books. I agree that he appears ‘erudite’, but that is because he quotes ‘erudite’ but irrelevant sources such as philosophers. Try looking up the facts about one of his scientific references, such as Peppered Moths, and a quite different picture emerges:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/wells/iconob.html#moths

  87. I can’t speak for YOS, only for my understanding and interpretation of what has been written above. Which is as follows: evolution in its broadest sense is pretty much self-evident. Darwinism, however, does not enjoy this privilege in that other, scientific, theories compete and in some cases are more persuasive (this is not controversial).

    If someone attempts to dismiss an alternative, science-based theory on the basis that the proponent must be a creationist or an advocate for “intelligent design” in order to advance such a theory, then what I see is an attempt to discredit the proponent rather than the theory. I get no sense from YOS’s contributions that he is interested in anything other than the advancement of scientific understanding, and I see no ID or creationist advocacy whatsoever.

    I have no problem with atheism per se – what an individual believes belongs to that individual. Where I do have a problem is with the contention that a person with religious beliefs can not be scientific. Faith and science are as distinct from each other as humour differs from a tetrahedron – the creationist confuses this distinction as much as the fundamentalist atheist, and I see no confusion in this regard on the part of YOS.

  88. Faith and science cannot be contradictory, or mutually exclusive, or even ultimately conflicting, because in any rational theistic sense science is entirely impossible without some consistent, intelligible order to be examined and understood. Order does not, cannot, create itself out of disorder with no mechanism and for no purpose. For there to be any order there must be an orderer with means and purpose… just as a builder cannot build something without the means and purpose.

    There are a great number of humanoids who wish to “construct” a reality to their own aggrandisement that assumes that “reality” is “becoming” according to their whims and fancies. The “Evolution” paradigm is indispensable to this arrogance and hubris.

    To that end they wish to torture and twist the well thought considerations of great thinkers to conform to their prejudice and they appear to have not the slightest compunction in selectively misquoting said sages to further their myopic ambitions.

    Please find a very practical introduction to the problem in this link:
    http://kolbecenter.org/a-philosophical-critique-of-darwins-the-origin-of-species/

  89. “Faith and science cannot be contradictory, or mutually exclusive, or even ultimately conflicting, because in any rational theistic sense science is entirely impossible….”

    The faith science false dichotomy isn’t relevant to the evolution argument whichever way it’s sliced.

    For the Theist who is a scientist of whichever flavour or calibre, they are working within the realm of the already existent material world. In such a world view rationality comes first then mass energy and life. The sequence isn’t affected which ever view of evolution or not a person takes.

    Rationality comes in when discussing the automatic inevitability of evolution ending with rationality on the one hand,

    OR evolution with rationality at it’s root and possibly, for some, elsewhere in the chain.

    The Atheist says the former, the theist says the latter.
    Don’t pretend people are being stupid. They are just expressing their world view.

    Intelligence is not what separates people on this matter. It’s a side issue and a completely separate matter.

  90. @ Joyous
    “Don’t pretend people are being stupid. They are just expressing their world view. ”

    Of course, relativistically speaking, any “world view” can’t be stupid because it’s someone’s “world view”.

    I rest my case!

  91. @YOS,

    That’s exactly what the DNA/RNA do. They encode the function set, including the functions that do the assembly. Some of the functions encoded do error correction, some of the functions are ‘robust’ to the vagaries of wet chemistry such that ‘errors’ don’t destroy the function. Some of the functions modify other functions. Some of the functions do self-modification. [NB, in computer programming, self modifying code is among the most difficult to be sure it works correctly.] Still, DNA/RNA by themselves can’t, in a manner of speaking, compile themselves into a functional system. There are other bits that are physically necessary as well as logically necessary for the system to propagate itself. This is the part where the designer comes in.

    Again, can any thing be if there is no thing? /rhetorical

  92. Oh, another one @YOS, ‘natural selection’ is a tautology, particularly as it is used so often today. I have taken published articles in scientific journals and substituted “God” for “Evolution” and/or “natural selection” and found that the meaning didn’t change. Also, very often, the “God” being straw-manned isn’t the God of Christianity. That God Is, has said that I AM and that all of the contingent existence that has, is now, and will exist ALL exist due to Him.

  93. Actually, YOS, mutations that do kill are the ones that are rare. These are the ones we become aware of readily. Most mutations don’t kill at all. Most are neutral. Some give a current disadvantage that was an advantage in the past. Some give a current advantage that will not necessarily be so in the future. Some give a current disadvantage is some circumstances that when present in others, isn’t a disadvantage at all.

  94. I thought they had given up on the black/white moth thingie, just like on the Eohippus-Mesohippus-Equus thingie. I’m pretty sure that each generation of moths produces the same spectrum of black and white moths, no matter which ones get picked off by the birdies. IOW, no actual evolution [motion] has taken place, since the trait in question is not actually heritable. White wingers give birth to black wingers as easily as black wingers to white wingers. (Otherwise you’re back to the ol’ ‘too fast for Darwin’ problem.)
    +++
    If you replace “evolution” with “God,” it would read as easily as if you replaced “evolution” with “dumtiddly.”
    +++
    How can you tell if a “mutation” is “advantageous”? Do they come with labels? Isn’t this too teleological? Here’s a theory. “Mutations” are not advantageous or disadvantageous. They just happen. If the species prospers, then they are labeled post hoc as “advantageous.” But any organism strives to preserve itself (“Life” is an animate version of “inertia”) so it will try this or try that and perhaps find a way to use whatever the mutation resulted in. This may involve inter alia changing its behavior in a way that incorporates the alteration.
    +++
    The way “natural selection” is bandied about, it is as meaningless as “intelligent design.” Both phrases were cooked up as a shorthand way of naming a particular theory and both seem to survive any undermining of the particulars. Thus, “intelligent design,” to take the latter, survives as a term even when referring to notions that do not incorporate the concept of “irreducible complexity.” Taking the word “intelligent” in isolation to mean only “not-random-chance,” any theory whatsoever can be described that way.

    (Had Behe’s followers not tacked “…and therefore God” on the end, he would have had only the standard hassles of any heretic, as Eldrege and Gould discovered. Given the notion that evolution must proceed by small, incremental steps, it would seem a valid criticism. But the conclusion should have been, “…and therefore, evolution cannot always proceed by small, incremental steps.”)

    Similarly, the term “natural selection,” a term that Darwin detested, and avoided as much as he could, gets employed to cover all sorts of theories that do not invoke the two-stroke Malthusian engine of over-reproduction-plus-struggle-for-resources. Taking the word “natural” to mean only “not-supernatural,” any theory whatsoever can be described that way. Had his fanboys not tacked “…and therefore, no-God” on the end, it would have been no more controversial than the theory of electromagnetism. If we recall Aquinas’ Fifth Way, it is the very lawfulness of the world that substantiates the existence of God, not bizarre and inexplicable exceptions. To the extent that Darwin’s “descent with modification” (his preferred term throughout) could be considered a scientific law, Thomas would have regarded it as one more minor evidence in support of God’s existence.

  95. Tom’s fifth way is summarised here by Dr. Jeffrey Bond and it, in no way, implies, excuses, or rationalises the “Evolution” paradigm.
    ” St. Thomas’ fifth proof of the existence of God reads as follows:

    The fifth way is taken from the governance of things. We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that they achieve their end not by chance, but by design. Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence, as the arrow is directed by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are ordered to their end; and this being we call God.”

    Quoted from: http://kolbecenter.org/a-philosophical-critique-of-darwins-the-origin-of-species/

    Name-dropping and specious insinuations are characteristic of sophistry.

  96. There’s something about the name cdquarles that reminds me of PDQBach… something that seems entirely serious but is ,in fact, a send-up of the “serious”.

    Being somewhat autistic I don’t smile or laugh much but when I first heard PDQBach I almost suffocated because I was laughing too much to get a breath in.
    Creation and its inhabitants are curiously both similar and diverse; something that “Evolutionists” cannot comprehend and that eugenicists seek to eradicate.

  97. Bugger! That came out all wrong to what I had in my remote mind.
    cdquarles is sensible, and practically intelligible… no “a priori” presumptions implied.

    No guarantees offered or implied as to how my understanding translates into words or how your understanding translates out of words.

  98. “Oldavid rests his case’
    Relativism does not apply here at all.
    Obviously Theism or Atheism is correct.
    The truth of this is not relative according to perspective as your stated case implies.

    Intelligence is not what divides opinion on God’s existence.
    Einstein did not believe God and I don’t think he could be described as a relativist!

    That the many atheists use this tactic is just provocation which is rather tired by now.
    Something which should be taken on broad shoulders because people shouldn’t be embarrassed about what they believe.

    Mind/rationality then mass/energy, and rationality
    Or
    Mass/energy, then rationality/mind

    Those are the choices. Mind is either reducible to material or not.

    Evolution fits well within the realm of science as it deals with the already created and is therefore not in conflict with Theism. It never was and pretending it was until just now or when the Pope said it was okay is necessary clambering to appear to be on the side of the intellectual majority. There have always been and will always be people who do not hold to evolution being a reality.

    Those pretending to extra cleverness because they have God’s creation working with the least possible acts are just using a version of the same tactic as the atheist who mocks because ‘magic’ is invoked or YOS’s “woowoo” some other ‘gratuitous’ necessary addition….and all because they’re too dumb to know the truth…or something equally cheeky.

    To be exercised about one idea or another on the topic is only exacerbating and adding heat and confusion to what is rather a simple argument even if the mechanisms may be complex.

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