Darwinian Delusions Discussed Discursively

Let’s watch this:

Round table with Stephen Meyer, David Berlinski, and David Gelernter. The occasion was Gelernter’s review of Meyer’s and Berlinski’s anti-Darwin book in Claremont Review “Given up Darwin”.

Berlinski showed up with a nice walking stick.

Gelernter writes Meyer’s “Darwin’s Doubt is one of the most important books in a generation. Few open-minded people will finish it with their faith in Darwin intact.”

To finish it requires starting it, which most won’t do. To question Darwinian evolution, even to the small extent of acknowledging substantial arguments against it, is to commit egregious unforgivable intellectual sin.

Science is becoming what Gelernter fears: a political ideology subject to the same rules and strictures strangling the academy outside of science. On second thought, strangling is too soft a word. Mercilessly throttling is much more accurate.

Science is now almost a set of beliefs to which one must swear. Beliefs associated with evolution are protected with the same assiduity and martial vigor as one’s younger virgin sister used to be in Sixteenth Century Spain. Or maybe this conversation indicates this is changing?

It has always been obvious why Darwinian theory (in any of its guises) is sacred. It’s holders believe it does away with God.

Which it doesn’t.

Even if evolution works in the exact way specified by (any version of) neo-Darwinian theory, it is still the case, and must be the case, that the rules of the theory had to come from somewhere else. If those rules, such as “random mutation”, are said to rely on deeper down physics, it must be that those deeper down physics have a reason they are the way they are. They cannot explain themselves. And so on down to whatever bottom you like.

That bottom is always and must be God. There is no other explanation. Try it and see. If you find yourself saying (as we saw one physicist doing yesterday), “Quantum fluctuations account for the universe and its rules, including the rules of math, logic, good and evil, and so on”, then you have not understood the problem.

But never mind that. Disbelieve in God if you like. Still, even accepting, for the sake of argument, that God does not exist, it does not follow that Darwinian theories of evolution are true.

Now all these Darwinians blame evolution on “random mutations” carried out over great stretches of time. But there just is no such thing as “random mutations” in this sense. Here we have a string of amino acids to which we’ll either add to, subtract from, or swap one out of the existing chain.

All of those operations are caused. Causes have reasons they happen.

If we knew the causes for mutations—why this amino acid swap here, and there, and also over there at this particular moment given these circumstances—we would not need probability to talk about mutations. We would just state the cause.

You can use probabilities to talk about how a blind man would make, say, swaps, using balls-in-bags models. But there is zero evidence such a model has anything to do with the real world. If you say it does, you claim too much. Gelernter (in his article) gives an example of some chain of some small length. A blind man reaches into his inexhaustible supply of amino acids and pulls out 1 of 20. That’s the start of the chain. He reaches in again and pulls out another 1 of 20. And so on to 150. The probability of seeing that exact chain can be calculated given this mechanism. It’s low. Real low.

So low that if you saw it you’d say it can’t have happened. But then you recall it did happen, and here’s the mechanism.

Then you realize that not any chain will do. It has to be a chain of a very certain sort. So the blind man is out. We need him to at least peek. Most changes are detrimental, many are lethal. Son’t miss Meyer’s comment on speciation, about how changes need to take place at beginning of life, a point often missed. Speaking of species, in another interview, Berlinski rightly points Darwin’s nominalism, a failed philosophy which appears to be a requirement for neo-Darwinian evolution.

Anyway, there go the probability models. Useless. There is no indication animals are testing out all possible combinations in a blind way.

I think evolution is instead something like a pachinko game: designed but with causes which are difficult to follow. This explains how changes happen suddenly. Berlinski (in the first video) appears to doubt such a pachinko theory could be formulated mathematically (he might be right).

Even if you’ve haven’t swallowed any of this, there exists no answer to CS Lewis (quoted about two-thirds through)—except the answer Darwinists are loathe to admit.

Lewis said that (I paraphrase the quote from the interview) that if our minds are the products are blind forces, there is no reason at all—none—to trust our thoughts.

Yet we do trust them.

If you agree, you agree. If you disagree, you agree.

To support this site and its wholly independent host using credit card or PayPal (in any amount) click here

50 Thoughts

  1. “It has always been obvious why Darwinian theory (in any of its guises) is sacred. It’s holders believe it does away with God.”

    This is abject nonsense.

    First: Darwin’s theory of evolution is not sacred in that it says nothing about god or religion.
    Second: There may be some who believe that the theory of evolution does away with god, however this is faulty reasoning and surely only a small minority subscribe to this view.

    “That bottom is always and must be God. There is no other explanation.” This is just silly. If there is “no other explanation” it simply means there is not enough data from which to derive an explanation – or the available data is not sufficiently understood. There can be no good reason to postulate a god as a reason for any phenomena which may not be understood – and there are many which are not understood!

    Many of the statements in this article show a fundamental lack of understanding of the theory of evolution and are probably caused by a religious bias in assessing the theory.

  2. “Many of the statements in this article show a fundamental lack of understanding of the theory of evolution and are probably caused by a religious bias in assessing the theory.”

    Your comment shows atheist bias……

  3. Not a biologist or biochemist amongst them, trying to discuss protein synthesis. Sort of like “environmentalists” discussing Climate Change! without reference to heat transfer properties of fluids on a turbulatent rotating sphere….

  4. As a good upright Christian with a god-given intellect and a faith founded on valuing “truth” the proper path thru life is clear: Accept the tenets of the faith’s doctrine uncritically and then shut out all intrusions of learning that might undermine that faith. Ignore or dream up excuses for why the church leaders changed their positions on ancient doctrinal precepts here & there along the way. Reproducible findings and observations can be dismissed as well.

    One cannot but marvel at the intellectual gymnastics that result from such mental sequestration.

    Earth was, no longer is, the center of the universe … and other theological doctrinal changes abound. One that gets flustered when a fruit isn’t growing out of season is a spoiled brat/narcissist, not a supreme loving and forgiving deity. Ignored, rather than pondered, the abundance of such inconsistencies helps the believer stay in thrall.

  5. “Disbelieve in God if you like”

    Absent a definition of the word, this has no meaning. It is quite possible that I believe in my God while not believing in your God.

    Probability is only for future events. The probability of something that has already happened is “1”. It doesn’t matter how unlikely it is to happen again and there’s no natural law why an extremely unlikely event cannot happen three times in a row; that’s merely three times more unlikely!

    There’s an “anthropic principle” that I might not be using correctly; it is that the observer (you, me) is at the END of an extraordinarily complicated and unlikely sequence of events; yet here we are. Elsewhere among 100 billion planets the sequence didn’t quite work out, but we don’t see that.

    The extent to which God meddled in these events cannot be measured and thus is not in the realm of science. Science, as a collection of methods of observation, measurement and prediction; really has nothing to say about most gods if for no other reason than these instruments cannot probe First Cause.

    If I define “God” as the First Cause; then of course there’s a God and there cannot fail to be one. That’s trivial, also rather useless. You cannot proceed from that to the Ten Commandments or the Thousand Suggestions.

  6. “Few open-minded people will finish it with their faith in Darwin intact.”

    I do not have “faith” in Darwin the man, but I have faith in the scientific method. He made observations and came up with a theory to explain the observations. That is good procedure. It is entirely possible that the Earth, and everything in it, was created five minutes ago. But that’s not a useful theory, it cannot be used to predict anything.

    “To finish it requires starting it, which most won’t do.”

    True, it would be down around 499 on a list of 500 books to read. It seems to advance nothing, merely argue against someone that doesn’t rate arguing against in my opinion.

    “To question Darwinian evolution, even to the small extent of acknowledging substantial arguments against it, is to commit egregious unforgivable intellectual sin.”

    And to accept it is an even more egregious sin depending on present company.

    If I remember right, Darwin didn’t actually declare the mechanism; he declared the observations and might have coined the phrase “natural selection” but I think that came later. Quite a lot is attributed to Darwin that isn’t really Darwinian (“social Darwinism” for instance).

    “Science is becoming what Gelernter fears: a political ideology subject to the same rules and strictures strangling the academy outside of science.”

    I agree with that; there’s “science” (with a small s) which is just a word to describe methods of observations, measurements and predictions; and “Science” (with a capital S) which closely resembles a religion.

    “Beliefs associated with evolution are protected with the same assiduity and martial vigor as one’s younger virgin sister used to be in Sixteenth Century Spain.”

    And challenged with similar passion!

    “It has always been obvious why Darwinian theory (in any of its guises) is sacred. It’s holders believe it does away with God. Which it doesn’t.”

    Agreed. That’s the battery that keeps the motor running.

    “But there just is no such thing as random mutations in this sense.”

    Quite right. Everything is deterministic. “Random” is a word that means I did not predict it and don’t have enough information to even try.

    “If we knew the causes for mutations—why this amino acid swap here, and there”

    There is no “we”. These mutations are usually caused by radiation; cosmic rays and locally produce gamma rays from the natural decay of radioactive materials in the Earth. RNA is much too vulnerable to it; DNA is mostly self-repairing.

    “You can use probabilities to talk about how a blind man would make, say, swaps, using balls-in-bags models. But there is zero evidence such a model has anything to do with the real world.”

    Quite right. DNA is very specific about its four base-pairs.

    “A blind man reaches into his inexhaustible supply of amino acids and pulls out 1 of 20.”

    But his fingers are sticky but only to one of those amino acid molecules. He will always get the one he means to get. His fingers are RNA, and the RNA was constructed following a template of DNA.

    “Then you realize that not any chain will do. It has to be a chain of a very certain sort.”

    Why? This is where logic starts to fail.

    “So the blind man is out. We need him to at least peek.”

    Exactly so, and the peeking is RNA, created by DNA. If you want to challenge evolution, you go to the heart of the matter: DNA. What caused DNA?

    “There is no indication animals are testing out all possible combinations in a blind way.”

    Trivially true. They eat, poop and reproduce.

    “Lewis said that (I paraphrase the quote from the interview) that if our minds are the products are blind forces, there is no reason at all—none—to trust our thoughts.”

    My thoughts are the only thoughts that can be trusted. Cogito ergo sum.

    And that is the power of God: To put his thoughts in my mind so that they can be trusted.

  7. The books that really point out the nominalism of Darwin are Gilson’s From Aristotle to Darwin and Back and David Oderberg’s Real Essentialism.

    What really annoys me is the pack of Dominicans going around arguing for Evolution. If Catholics must believe Evolution (which is not just a single theory) then they should say so. And if they want to argue science, drop the monk robes.

    Mortimer Adler:
    … how many creative acts of God are
    required to explain the evolutionary jumps? …
    Adler’s … view, which he considers “almost
    completely demonstrated”, is … Within a species,
    changes have occurred, but each species itself is a
    fixed type—immutable in its essence, and coming
    into being only by an act of God. Adler suspects
    that each species was created in several different
    types, underived from each other—for example,
    the separate creation of flowering and non-flowering plants.’

    — and that is where I leave it too. I’ve studied evolution for decades and I am still puzzled 🙂

  8. “These mutations are usually caused by radiation; cosmic rays and locally produce gamma rays from the natural decay of radioactive materials in the Earth. RNA is much too vulnerable to it; DNA is mostly self-repairing.”

    Really?

    How about we do some real science then (not “Evolution” science–theorize, pontificate, worship, berate, bully, denigrate–but actual scientific method–hypothesize, observe, experiment, observe)?

    Our hypothesis, as hinted above, is: Mutations are the core of “evolution”. Radiation causes mutations. Exposing living things to high levels of radiation will cause mutations. Those mutations will be beneficial and improve the species. Those mutations will result in new species, and improvements in existing species. New sensory, movement, and other adaptations will appear.
    Null hypothesis: The irradiated populations of life will NOT develop helpful or adaptive mutations; NO new species will appear; NO new sensory organs or other new useful adaptations will appear. Radiation exposure will cause defective, destructive, degenerate mutations that destroy individuals.

    Experimental design: We will expose population of plants and animals, in a specific area to massive does of radiation over an extended period of years. At the same time, we will monitor other similar populations that are not exposed to radiation.
    Expected results: New species, new adaptations, useful mutations will appear in the radiation-exposed populations.

    Well, what a great experiment that would be! Too bad we can’t actually do science like that. Now we just have our Darwinian thought experiments. They’re so pretty, neat and tidy. Everyone knows (except mouth-breathing idiots!) that is how new species appeared, adapted, and new organs (eyes, ears, noses, mouths) were perfected. So just shut up, you superstitious fools! Darwin–it’s Science!

    Oops! Wait….the experiment has been done.

    It was called Chernobyl.

    A population of plants and animals was exposed to massive doses of radiation for a long period of time. A control group (every other similar area in Northern Europe) was not exposed to radiation.

    So, what were the results?

    Scientists intensively study the Cherobyl “exclusion zone” where living things were exposed to massive radiation. In 2016, the BBC interviewed those scientists. They found that, “The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone has arguably become a nature reserve…which has an abundance of animal populations on par with nature conservation areas….Chernobyl…paradoxically led to creation of “a unique sanctuary for biodiversity.””
    https://medium.com/generation-atomic/do-nuclear-accidents-create-radioactive-wastelands-the-surprising-nature-of-chernobyl-7a71d66b6f60

    No new useful mutations. No new species. Individuals exposed to radiation died. Some mutations occurred, resulting in individual deaths.

    Null hypothesis confirmed.

    Any Darwinian actual science experiments similar to this? With results that provide evidence demonstrating the beautiful theories and thought experiments?

    Evidence?

    Thanks.

  9. There may be some who believe that the theory of evolution does away with god,…

    They often signal themselves by cleverly spelling God with a lower case g. This is like calling an Impala an impala.

    Earth was, no longer is, the center of the universe

    It was at the bottom of the world, not the center. But that’ll teach ’em to rely on settled consensus science.

    The extent to which God meddled in these events…

    Is about the same extent to which Shakespeare meddled in the events of Hamlet.

    But that’s not a useful theory, it cannot be used to predict anything.

    Which new species has natural selection predicted, as opposed to say clarifying some past event (postdiction) with a plausible story?

    mutations are usually caused by radiation; cosmic rays and locally produce gamma rays from the natural decay of radioactive materials in the Earth.

    I understood that transcription errors were a major source of mutations.

    Why [a chain of a very certain sort]? This is where logic starts to fail.

    I would imagine because random chains don’t encode for any coherent protein and won’t fold properly.

    Cogito ergo sum.

    In Latin, it begs the question. “Cogito” [fps] already assumes “sum”.
    ++++++++++++++
    Everybody confuses evolution [a fact] with natural selection [Darwin’s theory to explain those facts] or even with genetics and microbiology [sciences]. The material world is characterized by change, and ‘evolution’ is just the word we use for change-of-species. But Darwin told us in The Origin of Species, “I look at the term species as one arbitrarily given, for the sake of convenience, to a set of individuals closely resembling each other…” So, if species are just social constructs, the origin of a species is when humans look at it and say, “Gee, that doesn’t resemble those others.”

  10. Franz dullard,
    You affect to be data-driven but you give none. Almost 4000 were surveyed and what you deny is actually what the survey proves
    For atheists
    “67 percent of atheists and 35 percent of agnostics believe ‘the findings of science make the existence of God less probable.’”

    “Nearly 7 in 10 atheists and more than 4 in 10 agnostics say that for them personally, unguided chemical evolution and Darwin’s mutation/natural selection mechanism have made the existence of God ‘less likely.’”

    “More than 7 in 10 atheists and nearly 4 in 10 agnostics agree with evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins that ‘the universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.’”

    And the clincher is that if you survey people who believe in God you get this:
    “By contrast, 6 in 10 theists and more than 2 in 10 agnostics say the existence in nature of ‘many things that are exquisitely designed and highly complex’ has made the existence of God ‘more likely’ for them personally.”

    Your Dullness will not deny, I hope, that almost everybody comes to evolution with a view of God already. Personally, I don’t see how evolution could convince you there is a God, ergo it either confirms atheism already held or, purporting to explain everything naturally, it can only be met by an answer from Faith and Reason or it does its work.

  11. It’s always nice and convenient to assume whatever you wish or need to assume in order to reach whatever conclusions you’ve already chosen to conclude.

  12. @YOS

    > Which new species has natural selection predicted…
    Used any insulin recently? or other GMO’s? Artificial, true, but straight out of genetic theory. And then there is CRISPR.

    > But Darwin told us…
    No fair, actually reading the source material.

    On different protein chains…. Anybody here done any genomics lately? And looked at within-species variation (e.g. GWAS or “Next Generation Sequencing”)? For even more fun, look at the variation in proteins that serve the same function across-species, phylums or kingdoms. The 150 chain argument is a swindle.

  13. Love the alliteration in the title of this article!!
    God is, and here is great hope that those who believe that something could come from nothing, will use their God-given reason, to realize that that reasoning is neither logical nor scientifically provable.

    A scientist, I am not, but that some Popes believe that God might well have used animal bodies with which to evolve human being bodies in which to put human spirit and soul, well, a reading of both Genesis and Corinthians, would do them good.

    “7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2: 7.

    “35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.” 1 Corinthians 15: 35-41.

    God bless, C-Marie

  14. @Bill_R
    GMOs are produced by artificial means (using CRISPR as a tool). Natural selection is a natural process, so GMO’s and CRISPR are not related to natural selection. I’m not sure what point you thought you were making, but you failed to answer the challenge.

    The rest of your comment verges on incoherent. I can’t help suspecting that you realize you don’t have an actual argument, and so you are just blustering.

  15. Catch here is that most mutations are neutral, not detrimental. Some are detrimental locally, but not globally; and even fewer are fatal. Many of them are, indeed, transcription related (and not necessarily errors) because the amino acids are similar, though not exactly, when acting in the folding; which doesn’t have to be exact, just good enough. Besides, evolution is a tautology. Mutable things mutate. Conjuring up a good story after the fact (and denying God His due), doesn’t change the logic.

  16. @David,

    My point wrt to GMO and insulin was that it is a direct application of genetic observations and principles, sped up to make it useful. You might also consider plasmids and horizontal gene transfer. For some “natural” selection, look at antibiotic resistance.

    The second point was a complimentary nod to YOS for pointing out Darwin’s comments on species. (pg 52 in the 1859 edition) It’s an arbitrary clustering. Basically, you have biologists/taxonomists saying “well these look alike, so lets group them together.” You might want to have a read on phylogenic classification.

    The final paragraph points out what is obvious to anyone who has actually worked with genomic or proteomics sequence data (as I have.) There are lots of different amino acid chains that have the same function, and the differences between chains get more variable the further apart the parent organisms are. So the argument about one particular chain is rather disingenuous.

  17. @cdquarles, they made the point in the video that most mutations in genes that are activated late in the development process are not typically detrimental, but they also can’t make major changes in the organism. By contrast mutations that effect genes that are active early in the development process can make major changes in an organism, but those mutations are always fatal.

    @Bill_R, “My point wrt to GMO and insulin was that it is a direct application of genetic observations and principles”

    But that is of no relevance to the discussion. No one in this discussion doubts that changing the genes can change the organism. The discussion is about whether there are any known mechanisms that can plausibly have lead to the Cambrian explosion other than design. We take it for granted that–at least in principle–there are mechanisms that could be used by a designer to achieve such an end, so pointing to a mechanism that could potentially be used by a designer to achieve such an end does nothing to further the argument that there are are non-design mechanisms that could do so.

    It’s like we found a watch and you claim that it evolved naturally while I say it was designed. I ask, “how could it have evolved naturally?” and you point out that people can build watches. How does that help your argument?

    “So the argument about one particular chain is rather disingenuous.”

    I don’t know what argument you mean. They discussed research done in the last 20 years that tries to estimate what proportion of possible chains can be beneficial, and the studies all give numbers far too low (and I mean superastronomically far too low) to account for the Cambrian explosion. Meyer goes over the experiments and the numbers in great detail in his book, as well as discussing various attempts to get around the problem.

    The book turned me from a mild skeptic to a pretty firm disbeliever in Darwinism. I don’t see how anyone knowing the material in the book and being an impartial observer could fail to conclude that there is no current evolutionary theory that comes even close to explaining the fossil record. His points about ID are less compelling and I think the book would have been stronger without it.

  18. @David

    My comment on insulin etc., was in response to @YOS question on what has been predicted from natural selection. When you take the methods and accelerate them (to a human time frame) you get new organisms. If your position is that humans and their behavior isn’t natural, that is a different proposition.

    If you’ve read Meyer, he devotes about 140 pages (section 2) to probabilistic arguments. Gerlenter’s review and the video specifically focuses on the the example of 150 amino acid protein, and Axe’s work on estimating the folding probabilities. (Oddly enough, Axe’s work only shows up in one footnote in Chapter 10 and not in the Bibliography.) If Meyer wishes to use a probability argument he needs to count all the feasible solutions and mechanisms, not just one. I was surprised Gerlanter didn’t mention iterated functions like, say, genetic algorithms. Those can move through a large (connected) state space very quickly. Survival can be a fairly powerful objective function.

    I am still slogging through the book and have no opinion beyond the usual fallibilist one (e.g. any real world theory is incomplete but can be useful.)

  19. @Horse. Thank you. As is usual, it is deemed necessary to resort to insult.

    In the studies you refer to, the findings of “less probable” and “less likely” are reasonable conclusions but can in no way be construed as “proof that god does not exist”.

    What Dawkins says in your quote is exactly right but does not say much about the existence of god. Dawkins even admits the possibility that god exists even though he thinks this is not very likely.

  20. @ Kent Frisbe,

    “Evidence?”

    Only yesterday, in a reply to me, you dismissed all scientific evidence for evolution, now you’re asking for it again. Do you have any ethical standards?

  21. If the problem with modern Darwinism is the unlikeliness that random mutations can generate enough diversity (ha), then the reasonable thing to do is to look for a different mechanism that theoretically works better.

    Regarding bacteria getting better at not dying from antibiotics, as long as they can still interbreed with bacteria which do not have that trait, they are the same species, aren’t they? The species argument from Modern Darwinism is that you get new species, meaning they cannot interbreed.

  22. Sword,
    “@ Kent Frisbe,
    “Evidence?”
    Only yesterday, in a reply to me, you dismissed all scientific evidence for evolution, now you’re asking for it again. Do you have any ethical standards?”

    First, keep a civil tongue in your head. You’ve already shown your inability to discuss rationally and civilly, from your initial to your most recent ad hominems.

    Second, your childish attempt at insult by mangling my name is acknowledged. And scoffed at. Dude, you wouldn’t believe the variations of my name that have been produced in wit, and in insult, in the last half century plus. But, thanks for trying!

    I really must apologize to you, though. It’s clear that my typing somehow distorts the meaning of the words. I’ll try to type more slowly and clearly to help your comprehension. How’s that?

    Your response to my request to “please do share the ‘mountain of evidence…which has been tested; in support of evolution.” was an obnoxious suggestion to Google “evolution”:

    “Ah, the old “show me 160 years of scientific work in a blog comment” tactic. Go to Google Scholar and type in “evolution”. You’ll get over 5.5 million hits.”

    No change in response, buddy. That statement is NOT evidence. Nor is counting Google hits on a term “evidence.” As I noted earlier, a Bing search on “Freudian psychology” returns 9.3 million hits. Do you believe those hits “prove” that Freud’s sick, debunked and destroyed theories were correct?

    So, no, I’m not “rejecting all scientific evidence for evolution.” What I’m doing is asking you for the evidence. And again, you are unable to provide evidence. You are full of snark and bluster, but no evidence.

    Hang in there, son. There is hope. A strict course of study, guidance, and mentoring (maybe pharmaceutical intervention, too?) could lead you to the light of truth.

    In the meantime, God bless you in the darkness of your disgruntled ignorance.

    But, think positive!

  23. Bill,

    “…what has been predicted from natural selection. When you take the methods and accelerate them (to a human time frame) you get new organisms. If your position is that humans and their behavior isn’t natural, that is a different proposition. ”

    Oh, but you mischaracterize (or misunderstand?) what “natural selection” is required to be in “evolution.”

    Natural selection, in the Evolution Theory, is UNGUIDED, UNPLANNED, serendipitous improvements in the body plans, functions, characteristics and features of living things.

    “When you take the methods and accelerate them (to a human time frame) you get new organisms.”

    It appears that you are implying that the human manipulation of insulin somehow is evidence FOR “natural selection.”

    If “…YOU [read humans] take the methods and accelerate them…” then what YOU have simulated is NOT “evolution” or “natural selection.” What humans have demonstrated instead is, believe it or not, INTELLIGENT DESIGN!

    It’s not that humans are not “natural.” It’s that humans are intelligent (of course, nowhere near the level of the Intelligent Designer of the universe, but intelligent nonetheless, relatively). The experimenters’ planning, actions, manipulation, prodding, insertions, deletions, chemicals, and whatever else they did, are a perfect example of Intelligent Design.

    The “Natural” in “natural selection” is understood to mean “unintelligent, chance, unplanned, undesigned, unmanipulated.” Humankind is “natural,” but is also intelligent.

    Thanks.

  24. @Sander
    The last I checked bacteria reproduce asexually. The are rather promiscuous in sharing genes across species though. That was the “horizontal gene transfer” mentioned earlier. Yeast sometimes reproduce sexually, I think.

    The whole sex thing doesn’t translate well across all lifeforms. That being said, I’m not a professional biologist. Gave that up when I went to Grad school.

  25. @ Kent Clizbe,

    “your childish attempt at insult by mangling my name is acknowledged.”

    Thanks! You should feel honoured because it’s only the second or third time I’ve done it in what must be 10 years of commenting.

    “Your response to my request to “please do share the ‘mountain of evidence…which has been tested; in support of evolution.” was an obnoxious suggestion to Google “evolution”:”

    Your ‘request’ was itself obnoxious. I didn’t suggest you Google evolution (although that would be the obvious thing to do), I suggested that you use Google Scholar which returns only academic articles, references and research papers.

    “That statement is NOT evidence.”

    Stating that there are 5.5 million hits isn’t evidence per se, BUT THE PAPERS THOSE HITS REFERENCE ARE EVIDENCE.

    “So, no, I’m not “rejecting all scientific evidence for evolution.” What I’m doing is asking you for the evidence. And again, you are unable to provide evidence. You are full of snark and bluster, but no evidence.”

    Again, you’re just playing a pathetic game which I’ve seen many times before. It’s 2019. There is abundant evidence for evolution available online, in libraries, bookstores, and museums. It’s quite obvious that if you really wanted to look it up, you’d have already done so. It’s equally obvious that you’d reject anything specific I cited on here. Let’s test this.

    The evidence for evolution comes from:

    1. Anatomy. Species may share similar physical features because the feature was present in a common ancestor (homologous structures).

    2. Molecular biology. DNA and the genetic code reflect the shared ancestry of life. DNA comparisons can show how related species are.

    3. Biogeography. The global distribution of organisms and the unique features of island species reflect evolution and geological change.

    4. Fossils. Fossils document the existence of now-extinct past species that are related to present-day species.

    5. Direct observation.

    ‘Bye.

  26. Sword,

    Not interested at all in your experiences with insulting others. Thanks for sharing though. Quite precious. Almost cute.

    Again, I’m asking for evidence. Paper counts are not evidence. Again, Bing search “Freudian Psychology.” Millions of “papers.” Does their existence make Freud’s sick fantasies real? Does their existence provide “evidence” that Freud’s fake “science” was real? Ditto Darwin. Ditto Marx.

    Actual science is done by a well-known and useful process: theory, hypothesis, experimentation, observation, analysis of evidence.

    Darwin’s followers’ fake “science” of evolution is riddled with hoaxes, frauds, misconceptions, illogic, huxterism, appeals to authority, and literally every single strategy and tactic employed by frauds, fakers, and cultists.

    There is no actual scientific evidence of one species “evolving” into another species. No scientific evidence of single-celled life “evolving” into mammals. There are beautiful theories and Just-So stories spun by ever-more fantastic “scientists.” Read the papers these poor souls write. Read with an open mind. Be skeptical. You’ll see that they are spinning and spinning and spinning, over-laying fantasies on top of observations; fitting all observations into their Darwinian paradigm.

    When the only tool you have is a hammer, even flowers begin to look like nails.

    Citing bullet points: i.e., “direct observation,” and “fossils” is not “evidence.” It is hand-waving. Please provide a link to an actual (non-hoax) direct observation of a species “evolving” into another species. Please provide a link to fossils that show one species “evolving” into another species.

    Or you can take your football and run away!

    Thanks.

  27. @Kent

    The example I gave (recombinant DNA) demonstrates that a natural mechanism can and does produce new species. If you want an unplanned example, consider antibiotic resistant bacteria. That’s been predicted since at least the ‘70s, which is when I first heard of it, and it’s here, now (e.g. MRSA, the new, supercharged STD’s.)

    If we are Intelligent Designers, as you suggest, what does that say about the ant species that breed aphids or fungus? Are they ID too?

    BTW, we have a different understanding of “natural selection.” Direct surgery, as in Craig Venter’s synthetic life would be an “artificial selection.” Using what’s been provided is not “unnatural.” (e.g. the ants)

  28. Excellent overview of scientifically (using observations and evidence) detecting signs of intelligent design in objects and phenomena:

    https://evolutionnews.org/2019/08/a-scientific-method-for-design-detection/?fbclid=IwAR37pnjO-u728pJNfg05KEGHRtk17vBqNx9xsCdPKIrDm4VRcVfWmruWpHs

    Scientific detection of intelligent design in objects and phenomena is done often and accurately.

    “Step One: Evaluate the level of functional information required to produce the effect.
    Step Two: Determine if the level of functional information is statistically significant.
    Step Three: If it is statistically significant, then we can infer that intelligence was required to produce the effect.”

  29. Swordfishtrombone
    Imagine if during a philosophical debate, a philosopher simply suggested that his opponent search Google Scholar for evidence supporting his position. It’d be laughable.

    Finally, now that you mention specific, debatable points can our discussion begin. For the sake of time let’s just handle two:

    4. The Fossil Record

    The fossil record was a point of great discomfort for Darwin himself. Since the writing of The Origin of Species, the fossil record has worsened the enigma. The Cambrian Explosion, for example, poses a serious threat to Darwinism. Many organisms originated without any intermediate life forms. The fossil record, in its present state, does not support your claim.

    5. Direct Observation

    Aside from small microevolutionary changes, there is no evidence of species transmutation.
    Luckily, there is some evidence we can witness: The paradox of getting prebiotic things to actually become living. A linchpin for evolution is that life must change gradually. The primordial cell could not afford to change gradually. Within the primordial soup there were many dangers that would kill any cell that didn’t already have some defenses. These defenses had to be inbuilt. Such mechanisms like cell wall permeability (to handle PH changes or aqueous media) had to preexist cellular life. No defense mechanisms mean no cellular life. Primordial cells also had to already house certain feeding and excretion channels. Evolution, then, faces a seemingly insurmountable paradox.

  30. “Son’t miss Meyer’s comment on speciation”

    The text has mutated (:

    If mutations are guided by God, why do bad things evolve? That is, why is God designing ever more potent antibiotic-resistant superbugs, insecticide-resistant mosquitos, and chemotherapy-resistant cancers? Hasn’t he got anything better to do?

    It’s correct to say that it’s impossible even in principle to prove that mutations are random, but it _is_ possible to prove they aren’t, and as that’s what Meyer and co are claiming, why don’t they go ahead and prove it?

  31. @ Bill_R: “When you take the methods and accelerate them (to a human time frame) you get new organisms.”

    And when you take those mechanisms and decelerate them to natural-selection time frames, you get a process that would take far longer than the age of the universe just to create the animal forms found in the Cambrian Explosion. That is the problem being addressed in the book: not that there is no possible way to alter the genetic organism of one species to get another species, but that there is no known natural mechanism by which it could have happened (and certainly none that would produce the fossil record we have uncovered). Just as I won’t claim that there is no natural process that could create a workable watch spring, the probability, by any process I know of, is so low that it can be discounted.

    “If Meyer wishes to use a probability argument he needs to count all the feasible solutions and mechanisms, not just one.”

    Well, he claims no feasible mechanisms have been proposed, and he discusses a wide range of mechanisms that have been proposed. I’m not familiar with the literature, so I can’t say whether he left out any. Maybe you can come up with some and we can discuss it when you are done reading the book. I’ll offer my blog as a forum.

    “I was surprised Gerlanter didn’t mention iterated functions like, say, genetic algorithms.”

    Unless you are referring to crossover (which Meyer does discuss), I don’t see the relevance. The genetic algorithm is just a minor variation on the well-known techniques of random-walk search with a heuristic; it does not model natural selection because it uses a heuristic selection technique, which is much different (Meyer mentions this when talking about an evolution simulator). The difference is that a heuristic is intelligently designed to get you closer to the goal, while natural selection has no goal. Natural selection just selects whatever reproduces better in the current environment. If whatever reproduces better in the current environment happens to be on the path to some end–say a reptile body plan, that’s pure chance.

  32. The effects of Original Sin are massive and totally affect all of humankind history from when the Original Sin was committed, forward.

    The use of ever more potent antibiotic-resistant superbugs, insecticide-resistant mosquitos may well have been caused by the non-informed or informed but Oh well attitudes or desperate uses of antibiotics and insecticides, rather than properly measured uses of them. As for cancers, has no one come up with cures for cancer?? If cures for cancers were discovered, , would they be publicized and made affordable? Would for profits, allow such to be publicized and made affordable?

    Here is the why of all of the difficulties and tragedies in the earth….the use made by people of the free will given to each one.

    And He said “….Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”

    The LORD God said to the serpent,
    “Because you have done this,
    Cursed are you more than all cattle,
    And more than every beast of the field;
    On your belly you will go,
    And dust you will eat
    All the days of your life;

    And I will put enmity
    Between you and the woman,
    And between your seed and her seed;
    He shall bruise you on the head,
    And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

    Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

    To the woman He said,
    “I will greatly multiply
    Your pain in childbirth,
    In pain you will bring forth children;
    Yet your desire will be for your husband,
    And he will rule over you.”

    Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;
    Cursed is the ground because of you;
    In toil you will eat of it
    All the days of your life.

    “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
    And you will eat the plants of the field;

    By the sweat of your face
    You will eat bread,
    Till you return to the ground,
    Because from it you were taken;
    For you are dust,
    And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3: 11-19.

    And so, one can easily see that all that is not good, is due to Original Sin which earned for all humankind the effects outlined in Genesis. How all is now, is not how all was before Original Sin was committed. That the punishment comes upon all of us, shows how interconnected by God, all of humankind, is. All that occurs, is allowed by God due to the free will that He gives to us. God does intervene when He wills. We are His creation.

    Perhaps work on fathoming that Christ is in those of us who have been baptized into Him. That is extremely deep and amazing and truth!

    “If you love me, keep my commandments.
    And I will ask the Father: and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever: The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him. But you shall know him; because he shall abide with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more. But you see me: because I live, and you shall live.

    In that day you shall know that I am in my Father: and you in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.” John 14: 15-21.

    God bless, C-Marie

  33. @ Kent ‘Hovind’ Clizbe,

    “Again, I’m asking for evidence. Paper counts are not evidence.”

    Be honest and admit that you’re not the slightest bit interested in evidence.

    “Darwin’s followers’ fake “science” of evolution is riddled with hoaxes, frauds, misconceptions, illogic, huxterism, appeals to authority, and literally every single strategy and tactic employed by frauds, fakers, and cultists.”

    Please provide evidence for your claim. (Also, are you _quite_ sure you’re not describing Christianity by mistake?)

    “There is no actual scientific evidence of one species “evolving” into another species…”

    Please provide evidence for your claim.

    “Please provide a link to an actual (non-hoax) direct observation of a species “evolving” into another species.”

    Please provide evidence for direct observation of something which takes millions of years. What an incredibly intellectually honest request!

  34. Sword,

    Denial, deceit and delusion and distemper. A scary way to live.

    Honestly: I’d like evidence, please.

    I said: “Darwin’s followers’ fake “science” of evolution is riddled with hoaxes, frauds, misconceptions, illogic, huxterism, appeals to authority, and literally every single strategy and tactic employed by frauds, fakers, and cultists.”

    And you pleaded: “Please provide evidence for your claim.”

    Thought you’d never ask! This is easy. And to those whose eyes are open is pretty much a show stopper. The parade of fakes, frauds, and scams that claimed to be “evidence of evolution” is long and hoary. It started pretty much as soon as Darwin published his tome.

    Here’s a few:
    Piltdown Man
    Nebraska Man
    Archaeoraptor
    Cardiff Giant
    Alyoshenka
    Fake Fannia Fly
    Amphicoelias fragillimus
    Piluxy River Tracks
    Fiji Mermaid
    Java man
    Orce man
    Neanderthal
    Haekel’s faked embryonic drawings
    https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/archaeology/g3051/fake-fossils/

    Just holler uncle. The list is long, and pretty much never-ending. Fakes and frauds. All hailed as “proof” of evolution.

    Please do provide your “proof,” though. Would love to see it.

    I said: “There is no actual scientific evidence of one species “evolving” into another species…”

    You said: “Please provide evidence for your claim.”

    Ok, it’s clear that logic is not your strong suit, so bear with me: There is no evidence. That means all you have to do is provide evidence to disprove my statement. I only have an empty slate to prove my assertion: nothing is there. Nothing more to show. Please prove me wrong.

    And finally, the hilarious exclamation point of illogic and delusion:

    “Please provide evidence for direct observation of something which takes millions of years. What an incredibly intellectually honest request!”

    Dude, you listed “direct evidence” of evolution in your bullet points of “evidence.” I just asked you to show the “direct evidence.”

    And I’ll ask again, please show your claim of “direct evidence.”

    Thanks.

  35. @ Kent Clizbe,

    “Step Two: Determine if the level of functional information is statistically significant.”

    Oops! I don’t think Mr. Briggs is going to be over impressed with that meaningless appeal to statistical significance.

  36. I’ve been around the block on evolution several times now. I now find myself in a rut, where every opinion on the topic sounds to my ears like “and then a miracle occurs”. What is the practical difference between an all-powerful God and an infinitely pliable theory?

    About the only remaining interest I have on the topic is evolution as optimization theory. My experience at using optimization approaches to address intractable problems has yielded mixed results. For starters, the concept of incremental improvement has always proved useless by itself. If you are following a cost function down a gradient in N-dimensional space, you have to deal with local minima. There are optimization algorithms that attempt to jump out of local minima, but I find that if you find one local minimum, you probably have a near-infinity of them, and often they are very finely spaced. Imagine trying to find the lowest land elevation spot on the earth by walking downhill.

    Having said that, I have had a few successes. I have successfully used optimization to turn existing good solutions into slightly better ones, or solutions that are a better match to slightly different requirements. I suppose this might be analogous to adaptive improvements in a species.

    Once, and only once, I successfully used an optimization approach to come up with an excellent fit to a cost function out of whole cloth. I had experimented with a variety of cost functions, but all had the intractable local minima problem. I took one promising cost function and raised it to higher and higher powers, noted the results, then took the exponential of one of the higher even powers, and viola, convergence! I can’t explain this mathematically, and I haven’t been able to reproduce it on other problems. It must have magic.

    Is there such a magic cost function in DNA that can turn one species into another, or create a simple species out of primordial goo? THAT is the only question abot evolution that still interests me.

  37. @David

    Where your blog?

    – on timing – it took 10 years for penicillin resistance to show up, and one-two years for methicillin resistance. That’s hardly longer than the age of the universe. A harsh selection environment affects the speed. A 95%-99% kill rate does do the trick.

    on mechanism – Here’s a nice summary: [https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/news/080401_mrsa] From the Enright reference therein-

    The methicillin resistance gene (mecA) encodes a methicillin-resistant penicillin-binding protein that is not present in susceptible strains and is believed to have been acquired from a distantly related species (4)

    — iterated functions can bifurcate ( add multiple stable points in their orbits) Kind of standard in systems/population biology (e.g. a logistic map). Epidemic models are also full of fun difference equations. (see, for example, SIR epidemic models)

    – genetic algorithms: death is a really effect heuristic and completely natural.

    Also the number of novel mutations increase with the population size. There are lots of bacteria. One estimate (from U Georgia) is 5×10^30. That’s a lot of opportunities for beneficial (to them) mutations. The NYT recently published an article estimating the number of bacterial species at over a trillion (10^12). That’s a lot of variability.

  38. @Bill_R

    The point of the book and the video was the development of new body plans: insects, arachnids, etc, that suddenly appeared in the Cambrian. The probability arguments are directed to the improbability of that event, not against the evolution of single-celled organisms.

    I feel like you are responding to the argument, “evolution is impossible”, when Meyer’s actual argument is, “there is no known or plausible mechanism which could have led to the Cambrian Explosion.” Your counter-arguments are failing to address his argument. If I thought you were doing this deliberately, I would accuse you of making a straw-man argument, but you seem to be arguing in good faith, so I won’t.

    Meyer does discuss population sizes, and notes that there are a lot fewer chances for beneficial mutations in multi-cellular animals than in single-cell animals due to population sizes.

    You can get to my blog by clicking on my name. I don’t want to include a link for fear of getting spammed.

  39. @swordfishtrombone

    If you asked someone for evidence that God exists, and they responded by pointing you to an index with tens of thousands of books and articles on theology, would you consider that answer to be in good faith?

  40. @ David Gudeman,

    “If you asked someone for evidence that God exists…”

    A more accurate analogy would be a flat-Earther ranting on about scientists being fraudsters, asking for evidence that the Earth is a sphere, then claiming that satellite images are all CGI.

  41. @ Kent Clizbe,

    “The parade of fakes, frauds, and scams that claimed to be “evidence of evolution” is long and hoary. It started pretty much as soon as Darwin published his tome.”

    The existence of a number of fake fossils and/or hoaxes doesn’t disprove evolution any more than the existence of fake relics disproves Christianity. Having said that, lets examine some of your “fakes”: (From TalkOrigins)

    Archaeoraptor:

    1. Archaeoraptor was not a scientific fraud. It was put together by the Chinese fossil hunter who discovered it. The pieces were assembled to make the fossil more marketable to collectors, not to researchers. This worker may or may not have known that the tail came from a separate fossil (Simons 2000).

    2. Archaeoraptor was published in the popular press, not in peer-reviewed journals. The main author of the article about it was National Geographic’s art editor, not a scientist. Nature and Science both rejected papers describing it, citing suspicions that it was doctored and illegally smuggled (Dalton 2000; Simons 2000). Normal scientific procedures worked to uphold high standards.

    3. The two halves of Archaeoraptor (Yanornis martini, the body, and Microraptor zhaoianus, the tail) are valuable fossils in their own right (Rowe et al. 2001; Xu et al. 2000; Zhou et al. 2002).

    Cardiff Giant:

    The “Cardiff Giant” is an obviously man-made display at the Farmer’s Museum, Cooperstown, New York, not anything claimed as genuine by scientists.

    Java Man:

    Based on his own theories about how brains had evolved and wishful thinking, Dubois did claim that Java Man was “a gigantic genus allied to the gibbons”, but this was not, as creationists imply, a retraction of his earlier claims that it was an intermediate between apes and humans. Dubois also pointed out that it was bipedal and that its brain size was “very much too large for an anthropoid ape”, and he never stopped believing that he had found an ancestor of modern man (Theunissen 1989; Gould 1993; Lubenow 1992). (The creationist organization Answers in Genesis has now abandoned the claim that Dubois dismissed Java Man as a gibbon, and now lists it in their Arguments we think creationists should NOT use web page.)

    Orce Man:

    Gish (1985) tells the story of “Orce Man”, a fossil discovered in 1982 near the Spanish town of Orce and claimed to be a human cranial fragment. The fossil comes from the Venta Micena site, and is designated VM-0. A symposium on it was planned for late May, 1984. Earlier that month, says Gish (citing a UPI news report from May 14, 1984):

    “When French experts revealed the fact that “Orce Man” was most likely a skull fragment from a four-month-old donkey, embarrassed Spanish authorities sent out 500 letters cancelling invitations to the symposium.”

    Two French scientists had suggested the fragment “may have come” from a donkey. Another scientist quoted in the news report admitted there was some doubt as to the bone’s identity, but thought it was still quite likely human. A third scientist quoted in another news report from Associated Press claimed it was definitely humanoid. Instead of it being a “fact” that the fragment is “most likely” a donkey, a fairer assessment would be that it was still unidentified, but possibly an equid (not necessarily a donkey).

    By the next paragraph, Gish is exaggerating even further, and is calling the disputed fragment a “donkey’s skull”. It is not a skull, and it was not necessarily from a donkey.

    It is easy to score cheap rhetorical points by implying that scientists are so incompetent that they cannot tell the difference between a human and a donkey. A more charitable explanation, which turns out to be the correct one, is that the bone is genuinely difficult to identify, as proved by the fact that debate over its status has continued for over 10 years.

    “Fakes and frauds. All hailed as “proof” of evolution.”

    As the evidence I’ve quoted above demonstrates, most of your fake fossil claims are themselves fake.

    ***

    “Dude, you listed “direct evidence” of evolution in your bullet points of “evidence.” I just asked you to show the “direct evidence.””

    No, you said (I quote) “Please provide a link to an actual (non-hoax) direct observation of a species “evolving” into another species.”

    If by “direct observation” you mean observed in real-time by people, then that is clearly a ridiculous thing to ask for as you must know that transitions from one species to another can take millions of years. We _can_ observe such changes in the fossil record, and by studying DNA. The “direct observation” referred to in the list of evidence was of the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is also evolution.

  42. @swordfishtrombone

    I wasn’t making an analogy; I was making a logical substitution of terms. In a logical substitution of terms, the only requirement is that all relevant relations between the terms are maintained, and my substitution did exactly that.

    Your unwillingness to respond honestly suggests that you are not approaching this conversation in good faith. Some people just are not capable of having a good-faith argument about certain topics, either because their thought processes are so tightly bound to a particular world view that they are intellectually incapable of grasping another one, or because they are so emotionally dependent on a particular world view that they can’t rationally consider any argument that threatens it.

    No doubt, you would consider that it is the other side that is suffering from this problem, but I can guarantee you that I can make a case for evolution that is at least as good, and probably better than you can make, while you apparently, having watched that video, still have no idea what their argument was.

  43. @David

    Thanks for pointing out the link. A suitably anonymized “about’ link would be nice.

    Back to your post:

    Actually, I was responding to a comment that asked for an example of natural selection [mechanisms] predicting a new species. I pointed out that insulin and GMO’s used natural mechanisms (plasmids) to produce bacteria with new proteins and properties. You commented that that takes eons to occur in real time. I responded with an example of S.Aureus evolving antibiotic resistance in two years, and included a reference to the popular and technical literature.

    The comment I’ve made wrt to Meyer’s book was about the example from the Gerlernter interview and book review. That article used a silly homogeneous random walk mechanism to argue that it was next to impossible for some hypothetical protein to occur. Meyer appeared to endorse that in the interview. Using an unnamed protein is a cute trick. That way he (Gerlernter? Meyer?) avoids being contradicted with real data.

    My comment about within-species and cross-kingdom comparisons simply referenced the fact that there are lots of feasible solutions (some very short) to a given function (e.g. tRNA can be functional with many different smaller and/or variant structures as can acetylcholinesterase). There is no need to find the current solution(s) in one go. Iterated selection for efficiency/accuracy could lengthen the chain.

    So far Meyer’s book seems to be focusing on the scanty fossil record from 500 Million years ago and trying to make a case that there’s something suspicious about it. A classic absence of evidence is evidence of an absence argument. He seems to skip over how thin the fossil record is (as well as skipping contra evidence.) I wonder if he’s ever hunted fossils. (I have for fun.)

    So far there is no serious discussion of mechanism. He only mentions horizontal gene transfer (dismissively) in the footnotes. However I’ll need to finish a more detailled read of that section. The last section, where he pushes for ID should be interesting. He cites Peirce and Chamberlain there so it should be interesting to see how he actually uses Peirce’s approach (e.g. the maxim) or if he just waves it around for entertainment, like he appears to with Chamberlain. He doesn’t invoke Bayes rule directly.

  44. @Bill_R: “I was responding to a comment that asked for an example of natural selection [mechanisms] predicting a new species.”

    Fair point, but (1) It was asking for someone predicting: “I think this situation will lead to a new species being produced” and you didn’t give an example of that. (2) given the topic, it was clearly referring to a multi-cellular animal speices. (3) Given the first two, I didn’t think it was worth bringing up, but your examples of “new species” were pretty weak, given that they were single-cell organisms for which the idea of a new species is a bit vague.

    “homogeneous random walk mechanism”

    I don’t know what you mean by “homogeneous”, but natural selection is a sort of random walk. Although there is a time-varying scoring mechanism the scoring mechanism is not a heuristic and does not lead to any goal beyond the current node.

    “So far Meyer’s book seems to be focusing on the scanty fossil record from 500 Million years ago and trying to make a case that there’s something suspicious about it.”

    That is not a fair assessment at all. Meyer points out (as I recall) about 20 completely new body plans that show up in the early Cambrian that do not have any plausible ancestors, even though there are lots of other fossils that show up in the pre-Cambrian strata, often at the same sites, and even though these fossils are seen in large numbers all over the world, showing up in the same strata, and many are unchanged for tens of millions of years after they appear.

    Plenty of evolutionary biologists see this as a major problem, so much so that Darwin mentioned it as a potential problem with his theory and so much so that it inspired the theory of punctuated equilibrium in the second half of the 20th century to explain it.

    “So far there is no serious discussion of mechanism.”

    Well, there is only one widely-accepted mechanism today: neo-Darwinism, or natural selection with random mutation, so obviously he spends most of his time on that one. He also spends quit a bit of time on punctuated equilibrium. The rest he only spends a few pages each on.

  45. @ David Gudeman

    “Your unwillingness to respond honestly suggests that you are not approaching this conversation in good faith […]”

    I responded in such a way as to express my position. There isn’t any reason why I should dance to your tune by answering a loaded question.

    “Some people just are not capable of having a good-faith argument about certain topics, either because their thought processes are so tightly bound to a particular world view that they are intellectually incapable of grasping another one, or because they are so emotionally dependent on a particular world view that they can’t rationally consider any argument that threatens it.”

    Is there a good-faith argument to be had about whether the world is flat, or is it the case that anyone presenting the claim that the world is flat is already displaying extreme bad-faith by completely ignoring centuries of observations, demanding evidence for something which is already extremely well-evidenced, and directly or indirectly accusing many people of being liars?

    My “worldview” is that I want to know what the truth is. I used to be a Christian, so I’m obviously capable of changing my mind on major issues. I’d go so far as to say that I’ve changed my mind about almost everything since I was young. I used to have doubts about evolution myself, prompted by exactly the sort of plausible-sounding arguments presented by people like Meyer, but having looked into it, I’ve realised that their arguments are false.

    “No doubt, you would consider that it is the other side that is suffering from this problem”

    Yes. I have good reason to, having spent quite a lot of time arguing with rude and aggressively stupid creationists online, when I was hoping to have interesting philosophical debates about theism and atheism.

    “…while you apparently, having watched that video, still have no idea what their argument was.”

    I didn’t watch the video, I haven’t claimed to have watched it, I haven’t commented on it. I responded to comments made by others who also didn’t address arguments made in the video. I _am_ well aware of Meyer and co’s arguments, having watched other videos by them and critiques of them by real scientists. I’m also aware that ID isn’t even science at all: it has been ruled in a court of law to be religious idea, not a scientific theory.

  46. @David

    Well, aside from being a best-selling author, YOS was also a statistician at some point in his career, and presumably understands experimental and observational data. So an engineering/experimental response was quite appropriate. The S.Aureus was an example of an unplanned one. Now you’re changing the goalposts to “multicellular”. Sounds like a standard “no true scotsman” gambit.

    Species is a rather fluid concept, as @YOS pointed out, quoting Darwin. If I run a clustering algorithm long enough everyone but MZ twins are a separate species. For a more practical example, consider Home Neanderthals. Separate from Home Sapiens or not? My genome carries a fair number of Neanderthal segments, so which am I? When you add in horizontal gene transfer in humans (which has been found) it gets really weird.

    “homogeneous” – the probability of the next a.a. step stays the same throughout time. A basic concept if you’re studying evolution of a sequence in time or basic chemistry.

    Meyer’s book is, so far, using a standard “God of the Gaps” argument, or in his case, a “Intelligent Designer of the Gaps.”. One finds an area where the data is thin to non-existent and insert one’s favorite explanation, and ignore the rest. It’s also quite popular approach among defense attorneys and in depositions. Been there, done that, got the patent validated, or the ad claim squashed.

    I don’t consider “Neo-Darwinism” a mechanism, it is about as specific as saying “Big Data” or “Machine Learning” is today. Punctuated equilibrium is just a way of saying “the rates aren’t constant.” Actually, I never heard that term till the Creationists started presenting themselves as scientists. Prior to that Darwin was simply an eminent 19th century guy who got the whole modern ball rolling. It was well understood that his general idea was great, but his details reflected the limited understanding of his times. Sort of like calling modern chemistry “Neo-Lavoisierian”.

    If he wants to invoke Chamberlain or Peirce in section 3 he’ll need cover a broad range of mechanisms including the ones that the ID is using, otherwise he’s just HARKing with more degrees of freedom than there is data. Peircean abduction is great fun, but you need to back it up eventually with specific predictions and validation. Briggs has mentioned that here a few times, I believe.

  47. @Bill_R

    First, let me walk back my previous comment where I said you were being unfair to Meyer. I’ve since thought about it, and I now recall that when I was reading the book, I too, for about half of it, felt like Meyer seemed to be exploiting the fact that there just wasn’t much evidence about the pre-Cambrian. He never addresses that all at once, but over the book he mentions more and more things that make the missing-strata hypothesis seem weak.

    Second, my defense to your claim that I was moving the goalposts, I wasn’t the one who issued the challenge and I was only describing how I interpreted it.

    Third, Meyer is not making a God-in-the-gaps argument. The bulk of the book is aimed at an argument for the position that despite its grandiose claims, naturalistic science has failed to explain the fossil record of multi-cell animals and looks like it never will. That isn’t a “gap”; that’s a major challenge to the very foundation of naturalistic biology.

    Next, the part about ID does not take the God-in-the-gaps position “since natural science has failed in this little corner, we have to look for miracles”; instead, it argues that since that the cell is a programmable automaton that requires information, and since the only source of information we know of is intelligence, then intelligent design is the best and most natural explanation to begin with–it was always evolution that had the burden of proof for showing that information could and did arise by spontaneous natural processes, and evolution has failed the challenge.

    As I said before, I don’t think that’s a very strong argument; it needs a plausible, objective, rule for recognizing the difference between information and mere complexity, but it’s not a God-in-the-gaps argument.

  48. @David

    On the road, so this will be brief.

    Focusing on the God-in-the gaps interpretation. I’m still progressing through the first two sections, so I’ll not comment on the 3rd. So far, though, he seems to be making a pretty standard, if very detailed, GiTG setup. He points out the undiscovered fossil evidence, and points out the contradictory molecular clock results without pointing out alternative interpretations. (Loved the chicken entrails paper, btw) He seems extremely focused on the branching tree model that comes out of animal breeding, without talking about the alternatives that you see with plant and unicellular life. So far he hasn’t talked about the non-linear relationships between genes, metabolic output, and phenotypic expression, or even what the word “random” means (then and now)

    I’m waiting for him to offer the equivalent testable footprints of ID. He hasn’t. So far it’s all negative.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *